Review: Germany's K7 have got it on lock-down with this latest 12', a full rework EP of Actress' "Bird Matrix" killer by a pair of dance luminaries. First up is Venezuela's Kid606, a man who has been making 'outsider' music since before the term was ever coined, and one who has been every bit as important to the dance music scene all the more commercial names. Kid606's Club Mix is driving, filled with slithering percussion and led by a gorgeous swarm of aqueous synths and Zelda-like sonics, while the dub version slows things down and muddies the groove up into a heady, meditative bundle of melodies and beats. Simbiosi, on the other hand, goes for the jugular and delivers a heavy, stomping techno retuning of the original - what a blinder! There's also a tune by the mysterious Gnesis, "Pear", which appeared on Actress' own K7 compilation. Ya need!
Review: Akase is Harry Agius aka Midland joined by Robbie Redway on vocals. "Murmur" is a slice of sophisticated modern synth pop reminiscent of Delphic or The Howling. Rather high production values on here with rich and elevating synth textures supporting Redway's brilliantly emotive vocals. Producer extraordinaire Ewan Pearson lends his hand to two tremendous remixes of the track. The main remix keeps Redway's vocals on this dark chugging epic, with a dirty arpeggio backed by some superb science fiction synth zaps, until another more soulful arpeggio lead joins the fray. Brilliant! There's a dub version for those of you less keen on the vocals.
Review: Akase is the new collaboration between Harry Agius; better known as Midland and vocalist Robbie Redway creating some truly captivating pop-inflected electronica. New single "Call" is a brooding yet soulful journey full of emotive elements and razor sharp synth programming no doubt influenced by the legendary Ewan Pearson's production duties. It nails the same kind of vibe as other pop-ish electronic acts at the moment such as The Howling or Whomadewho and if you're eager to hear more, we'd definitely recommend the album this single comes from entitled Graspers on K7!
Review: The master of wacky techno returns. Matthew Dear donned his notorious Audion moniker again for his first album in years under the guise. The Alpha LP featured about a dozen woozy and disorienting dancefloor destroyers and two selections are present here getting the remix treatment by two fellow innovators. The legendary Matthew Herbert remixes "Gut Man Cometh", scaling back the high-octane psychedelia of the original into a driving journey track with interestingly spiced up vocal samples. Aus Music regular FOLD turns "Destroyer" into a tough deep house stomper with emotive pads being supported by some gutsy stomp and shuffle.
Review: The first Audion album in ten years shows that Matthew Dear's project has lost none of its raw ferocity. This is audible on opening track "Dem", where a droning groove ensnares wooden, clunky percussion and haunted vocals in its whirlpool-like cascade and then on the gated, distorted gnawing rhythms of "Destroyer". On other occasions, Dear sounds more comfortable flirting with classic sounds; "There Was a Button" is perfectly adequate, acid-led trancey techno from the 90s and "Gut Man Commeth" revisits the edgy minimalism of early Hawtin. However, no matter what influences he mines, there is a hyperactively jittery sound aesthetic at play, audible as much on the slow-motion hoover-led grind of "Bob the Builder" as it is on the rickety minimalism of "Napkin".
Review: Following his three artist LPs for Nina Kraviz' Trip label back in 2018, Bjarki delivers his fourth artist album on K7. Like his previous output, Happy Earthday focuses on his unique interpretation of the sound of 90s UK labels like Skam and Rephlex. There's the down tempo, Wagon Christ-esque beats of "Alone In Sandkassi" sitting beside the hyperactive break beats of "( . )_( . )" and the haunting, Aphex Twin-like "AN6912", while "Bheiv_sheep" sees him emulate the glitchy, hop-hop of Autechre around the time of Tri Repeate. Earthday is an occasionally brilliant ride through the golden period of UK electronic music, realised through the lens of Iceland's most eccentric producer.
Review: It's not often we get a release through the gates that freaks us out as much as this one has, and in the best way possible. It's like a horror film: you're scared but awed in equal measure and the collection of sensations the medium induces within you. Bjarki has pulled it out the bag and he's done so by subverting expectations of rhythm and bass, relying not on formulaic calculations but on fluctuations, constant changes in structure that reverberate creatively in unforeseeable ways. It's hard to describe this track so you'll have to just listen to it, but trust us that it's definitely worth the time.
Review: It's time to dive into some Icelandic delights on this one as we are joined by the ever-more experimental sounds of Bjarki, a producer who is no stranger to testing out the weird and wonderful. That's exactly what he does here as he unveils his brand new 'Psychotic_Window' LP, courtesy of K7, drizzled with soundscaping brilliance and a deep understanding for electronic music in general. Across all fourteen tracks, Bjarki displays an incredible depth of sound, from the stuttered percussive clicks of 'MIRA' to the highly digitized arrangements of 'Cool You Peel2' and shiny pad work on 'Psykixk TV'. We would seriously recommend taking this one in on long play!
Review: Tim Simenon's Bomb The Bass returns with new album Back To Light very soon, but ahead of that comes this release with singer Paul Conboy in tow. Always working with the tide rather than against it, Simenon's sound and production has constantly changed to suit the times - as seen in landmark singles like 1988's "Beat Dis" or 1995's "Bug Powder Dust" - and it's great to have the master back sounding as fresh as a daisy in 2010.
Boy Girl is a great choice of single, with long-standing BTB collaborator Paul Conboy lending some nicely strung out vocals to the slowly rising bed of synths. It has enough club action and pop sheen to prove a hit, but the remixes put a little bit more fire into the song's belly. Canadian duo FM Radio Gods do a great job of cherry-picking the vocals and adding some seriously funky and deep grooves.
Brazilian DJ and producer Anderson Noise also keeps the vocal but adds some dynamics, doubling the length of the original to create a dark slice of Techno genius. Leo Zero goes even longer (which won't surprise anyone who's heard his edit of America's Horse With No Name) and takes 12 minutes to unfurl his beautiful Balearic-flavoured mix. Always able to confound expectations, it's great to hear Bomb The Bass still sounding so relevant. Roll on the album!
Review: Nothing really beats the first few seconds of this startlingly original debut from Germany's BBF. The rest of it is great too of course, but it's during those very first 30 seconds that you immediately get where this album is coming from. As opener "Corky Prelude" is slowly faded up, the rumbling percussion part and distant bass sounds (which could easily be just another ordinary techno tune) reveal themselves to be a piano and blocks being hit, both clearly being played live. BBF clearly approach techno (or indeed all dance music) with more than an awareness of jazz and classical modes. And so, over You Make Me Real, they set about making techno but with live drums, treated pianos, trombones, harp, marimba and a host of other treated live sounds. The results go beyond the obvious Steve Reich/'70s minimalist precedents and genuinely create a deeper, more nuanced and, ultimately, more fun sound. "Mi Corazon" for example is as playful as it is intense, while the slight Latin lilt to "Bop" makes sure this isn't just a po-faced, overly-earnest project - the songs here live and breathe. After the dominance of the drum machine and the 303, perhaps this kind of project will start making fellow producers explore live techno like never before.
Review: Brandt Brauer Frick hook up with Frank Ocean producer Om'Mas Keith - one of the brains behind Channel Orange - for this single from their new album, Miami. Gone is the organic sound of yore, replaced by something more electronic and groove-based. Indeed, "Plastic Like Your Mother" is a hyperactive affair, by turns deep and dreamy and mysterious and haunting, but without losing the musical touch that the act have become known for. The vocals help to lend a sense of mystique to the arrangement and it is tailor-made for festival stages and cavernous venues like Berghain where the Berlin trio are used to performing.