Review: We know Alex Bau, he's a familiar face, an artist who has been part of the modern house scene since the turn of the millennium and, importantly, one who has always managed to reinvent himself, and approach dance music through a fresh pair of lenses. This new release for Sven Vath's Cocoon imprint is the perfect example of this man's versatility and creativity behind the mixing desk; neither "Illuse" or "Etah" sound like they belong to particular sub-genres of house or techno, they're just great club tracks that have used different aspects of the past to arrive at something new. The former is a driving bullet of a techno tune, a missile with only the dance floor mind and a single bleep to carry it forwards, while the latter heads down a much darker, more intricate web of pseudo acid that'll blow the socks off just about any sort of dancer.
Review: It's encouraging to see a big label like Cocoon supporting newcomers when it would be far easier and possibly more lucrative to stick with the more bankable big names. YouANDme's "Raw" sounds like what would happen if an acid casualty were to attempt to make tool house. The drums are dense and the rhythm shuffling, but the chord breakdown has a freakish undercurrent and the whole arrangement has a woozy, soft-focused feeling. Meanwhile, Alicante mines a similar path to many of his contemporaries, with snappy percussion and a muddy acidic bass reminiscent of Ostgut, but then the track is pushed into a different dimension with a trancey hook inspired by mid-noughties Get Physical releases.
Review: The legendary Dutch producer Martijn Hoogendijk aka Alden Tyrell (of Clone Records fame) teams up here for some main room bangers with Berlin based American Kevin McHugh aka Ambivalent: who has had a productive past decade recording for such respected imprints as m_nus, Ovum Recordings and Kompakt in addition to running his Delft and Valence imprints - where he records as acid expert LA-4A. The Detente EP brings the furious warehouse style bounce of the title track (featuring some relentless drum work!), the dusty and greyscale dub techno workout of "Dutchless" and the totally heads down and strobe-lit affair of "Wallfall" that is reminiscent of Jell Mills seminal Waveform Transmissions series.
The Secret (Quenum & Cesare vs Disorder mix) - (7:20) 123 BPM
The Secret (Cristi Cons remix) - (11:34) 126 BPM
Review: A feature of Romanian minimal hero Cristo Cons' DJ sets for sometime, his remix of "The Secret" for Azimute finally sees the light of day. This deep, bumpin' and tripped out afterhours jam is peppered with those Cassy Britton-like vocals and features exactly the kind of hypnotic qualities you've come to expect from the man. That's not to say that the original should be considered an afterthought - far from it. After all, Philipe Quenum and Cesare 'Vs Disorder' Marchese were veterans of the minimal scene long before Cons, even. A smooth and rolling deep house number with some euphoric house pianos and sharp percussion to support those fine vocals. But the remix where they are credited under their respected aliases is where they are at their best. A deep tribal tech house journey for the early evening.
Review: There is no doubt that Butch aka Bulent Gurle is one of the biggest names in European dance music- and this release confirms why he is so popular. In essence, "Countach" is a re-invention of 90s German trance. Its central riff contains the same kind of melancholic qualities that the releases on Eye Q, one of Sven Vath's previous labels during the 90s, boasted. Allied with a buzz-saw bass, Butch now gives those melodic characteristics a tough dance food focus. Cocoon has drafted in Butch's peer, Kolsch, to remix the track, and he deploys a mean, rolling rhythm and prowling bass to give "Countach" a more contemporary flavour.
Christian Burkhardt - "Karambolage" - (7:14) 127 BPM
Argy - "How Late It Was, How Late" - (5:12) 125 BPM
Markus Fix - "Baroon" - (7:27) 128 BPM
Jimi Jules - "Euphrasia" - (8:30) 124 BPM
Review: This fine EP gathers together four previously unreleased exclusives from the latest edition of Cocoon's Dots & Pearls series, which was mixed by Markus Fix. His contribution to the EP, "Baroon" - a kind of contemporary re-imagining of the original 1988 version of The KLF's "What Time Is Love" with extra TB303 acid lines - is undoubtedly one of the highlights, alongside the ethereal melodies and early morning fuzz of Argy's intoxicating "How Late It Was, How Late". Elsewhere, Christian Burkhardt peppers a rolling house groove with boisterous but blissful stabs on "Karambolage", and Jimi Jules serves up a loose and languid take on the foreboding, stretched-out Innervisions tech-house sound ("Euphrasia").
Review: This is Chymera's second EP in 2016, and follows a relatively fallow period in the last few preceding years. That said, Episode shows that the Irish producer has not lost his melodic touch. The title track sees emotive melodies surge up over a rolling rhythm and robust kicks, while on "7 Hours", he reverts to a more earthy approach. Despite this, the arranging is superb, with resonating beats and nagging percussion supporting a surging bass and warm acid lines. Finally, there's "Rust"; with its breath-taking synth drops and powerful bass tones, it brings to a close another majestic, melodic release from this talented, idiosyncratic producer.
Daniel Stefanik - "Dots & Pearls 3" (continuous DJ mix) - (1:05:35) 125 BPM
Review: The legend from Leipzig Daniel Stefanik helms the third instalment of Dots & Pearls for Frankfurt institution Cocoon. The long time affiliate of the Leipzig's famed Distillery club has been on the scene for over a decade, with releases on the likes of Moon Harbour and Mobilee so you can trust the DJ on this one.. For this edition (said to be a retrospective of sorts for the label) it will come in a continuous DJ mix with some brand new and unreleased tracks. Stefanik will also include four of his own edits including Guido Schneider & Andre Galluzzi's "Mario" and Luca Ballerini's "Impressions Of A Dawn" and "Orizzonte".
Review: Please welcome Frankfurt's very own Einzelkind to the Cocoon family. His first contribution to the label seems to be endless and gets nicely spiced up with hypnotic vocal elements and discofied space sounds. "Free Savioni" already made the terrace floor move big time at one of their Cocoon Ibiza nights. Said to have had such a strong impact that they immediately had to sign it after Einzelkind played it Second contribution "Aya Curanderito" sounds like a late night party, deep in the forest with witch trolls dancing around a fire. This is deep shamanic business with a slight Villalobos touch and it is no wonder; as the two have collaborated before for some other releases previously. Cool and trippy, something for the long nights at the infamous local institution Robert Johnson club or Berlin's Panorama Bar.
Review: The annual Cocoon Ibiza mix is back this summer, with the 2017 edition mixed by two top talents. Nastia is one of the hottest DJs in the world right now. The Ukrainian is headlining clubs and festivals around the globe, showcasing great skills and a vast musical knowledge. In addition, she runs the Propaganda imprint and has also run her own festival, Strichka. Her solid and driving mix features tracks by Luke, Slate, Terrence Dixon and Calibre among others. Taking care of the second disc is Frankfurt's favourite son Einzelkind: he man who runs three labels including JAX and the esteemed Pressure Traxx in addition to releases on local institutions Playhouse and Cecille. He is a no-nonsense DJ who has played the likes of fabric and Space, and as such has helped put his hometown of Frankfurt on the underground dance map. His mix is minimal and cerebral mix is comprised almost entirely of his own tracks, both solo and produced with the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, Robin Scholz and Markus Fix.
Fear Of An Extra Planet (Blackout) - (7:34) 123 BPM
Hail The Whale (original) - (5:00) 125 BPM
Review: Extrawelt aka Arne Schaffhausen and Wayan Raabe have come a long way since the neo-trance of early releases like Soopertrack, but the pair's association with Cocoon has been one of their constants over the past decade. This release signals the latest development in this relationship and is a taster for their third studio album on the label, due this month. "Fear Of An Extra Planet (Black Out)" shows that the German act has shaken off its trance associations; rather than shimmering melodies, they confront the listener with intense bleeps and a jacking rhythm. "Hail the Whale" has echoes of their past thanks to its robotic vocal and mysterious riffs, but the pulsating bass exudes techno menace.
Review: German duo Extrawelt are back on the scene. Comprised of Arne Schaffhausen and Wayan Raabe, the Hamburg based duo have long been a fixture on the esteemed Cocoon Recordings since their debut over a decade ago. Their very first release was on Border Community, shortly after being discovered by boss James Holden. In addition, they have had regular releases on labels like Traum and Darkroom Dubs. Fear Of An Extra Planet is their third album and don't be put off by the dubious title; it's a great album that covers a wide variety of moods and grooves. From the deep and slinky tech house of opener "Superposition", they further explore the harbour city 'minimal-electro' sound that homeboys like Stephan Bodzin and Oliver Huntemann put on the map - like on "Gott Ist Schrott" or "Gentle Venom". There's nefarious and seething dancefloor drama of the strobe-lit kind to be found on "Punch The Dragon" or the evocative closer "2084".
Review: Unknown is Extrawelt's fourth artist album and sees the pairing of Arne Schaffhausen and Wayan Raabe try something different. It's clear from the vocodered vocals and Italo-inspired melodies of "We Are Asteroid!" that the pair have gone down a new route. This becomes more evident on the atmospheric electro of "Fischmarkt On Acid" and the somewhat more abstract 808 shuffle of "Ausloser". While fans of the German duo's trance-influenced techno may balk at the direction that Unknown takes, this is an assured, innovative album. As the pulsating bass and magnificent synth sweeps of "Ort Und Impuls" show, Extrawelt's dive into the unknown is to be welcomed.
Review: Hollerith previously released on a number of Cocoon compilations, and now finally gets the chance to fly solo. It's an exhilarating journey; the title track chugs along with understated menace, with a rickety rhythm powered ahead by a dark, murky bass and muddy beats. Listen closely and you can even hear some breathy vocals in the background. On "Love Summer", he uses vocals again, but this time integrates them with a stop-start, stripped back techno rhythm. This unusual approach is also audible on "Electro Indianer", where he layers eerie synth lines over rolling drums to create a mesmerising slice of modern club techno.
Review: Despite this summer being a write-off, this autumn release by Gregor Tresher provides a taster for a hopeful resumption of clubbing and festivals in 2021. The title track revolves around a seductive, low-slung groove that's peppered with airy synths and supported by a squelchy bass. The overall effect is like an updated take on Get Physical's classic melodic house sound. "Pariah" is tougher and darker as Tresher moves to the big room. Dramatic synth stabs cut through the pounding groove to create an expertly executed peak-time track. On "Witchcraft", he returns to more tranced out territories, with a pulsating groove underpinning melodic flourishes.
Review: German techno hero and known gun for hire Gregor Thresher teams up with Croatian hypnotic techno don Petar Dundov for two lethal weapons on the Spike EP for the always reliable Cocoon imprint. On the A side, the title track gets all tunnelling and transcendental on you with its trancey bassline, subtle yet energetic beat and disorienting synth swells; absolutely killer track for fans of Donato Dozzy or the Prologue sound. On the flip is the uplifting and melodic "Differentiator" whose dreamy and ethereal grace will get some real moments of psyched travelling on the dancefloor.
Review: Harald Bjork has been making music since the mid-00s and is a contemporary and friend of Petter, who has released on Border Community. There are similarities in approach between the two artists, and Shiftings shows that Bjork has an intuitive ability to craft beautiful, bucolic melodies. This is audible on dreamy ambient pieces like "Carry Through The Winter" and the glitchy down tempo "Weasel Magic" of "202 Day". But it's also audible when Bjork picks up the pace to deliver acid-flecked club groovers like "Waldmeister" and the snaking, sinewy rhythm of "Medan Du Sov", a hypnotic affair that'll light up discerning dance floors.
Review: Southern Italian techno hero Ilario Alicante's profile continues to rise after releases on a who's who of labels from Cecille to Soma to Dubfire's SCI + TEC. This time around it's for Sven Vath's Cocoon powerhouse where he smashes out a high octane, peak time techno affair on "Virgo Storm" which could have equally been at home on Drumcode. Adventice aka DJ Deep and Roman Poncet deliver a fine rendition of it next, reminiscent of Robert Hood's cyclical minimalism. Speaking of which, "Hypno" again goes for that trance inducing vibe with with its churning and modulating synth loops and driving rhythm. Who better to remix it that British techno don Mark Broom: his version creating more time and space to play with and a fine edit indeed that'll come in handy for serious DJs.
Review: Ilario Alicante continues his long-running association with Sven Vath's label with this no-nonsense but individualistic club release. "Cocoon" is powered by a hammering kicks and bursts of white noise, but it also features a stuttering vocal sample and atmospheric Detroit elements that accompany the spiraling snare rolls. It's a tough but musical affair. "Scelta" is based on a similar approach, with heavy, acid-soaked kicks leading into dramatic, break downs and breathless builds. The title track sees Alicante also deploy musical elements, but on this occasion, he speeds up and slows down the pace as a trance-led sequence unravels. "Senza" is the most laid back of all tracks, but again the Italian producer flexes his musical might to deliver a deeply atmospheric, dub techno workout.
Review: Frankfurt institution Cocoon throws us a curveball in the form of this minimal pop ditty by local legend Markus Nikolai, one of the great minds behind the legendary Perlon imprint who is joined by Ole Schulte as International Anything. They return with their sophomore effort, following up their debut on Perlon earlier this year with another boompty lo-slung effort in the form of "Running In the Underwood" featuring some super catchy vocals. On the remix is one of Kompakt's main men, the inimitable Michael Mayer, who provides a stellar rework which goes down a frantic and adrenalised electro route. Second original offering "See Where You Are" similarly goes down a (proto) electro route in the vein of legends Kraftwerk on this robotic slice of heaven.