Review: Clark Davis aka Benjamin Holtz has been organising parties and making music for the past 15 years, so he is perfectly qualified to release on Knotweed. Kick-starting this underground EP is "Champagne Kush", where the Hamburg artist bounces a menacing bass against the backdrop of tough but cavernous kicks and dense hand claps. "C3H8NOHP" sees Holtz focus on a more reduced approach; tingling hi hats and repetitive stabs provide the basis for a minimal workout that is equal parts Levon Vincent and Robert Hood. Last but not least, the title track is more understated, with this veteran techno figure deploying garbled vocal samples over a stepping rhythm.
Review: Myk Derril returns to Knotweed with another fine slice of minimalistic jack-funk for the floor, and as per usual, these are ragged, ice-cold heart stoppers for the likes of Dettman and Klock to drop in a basement in the early hours. Aptly named in numerical format, these four clusterbombs have enough pounce to cause a real stir in the dark. Our favourite slice is number "03" for its ultra-slick groove and shredded melodies, but they're all winners and make a welcome addition to the rest of the catalogue. Warmly recommended.
Review: Terrence Dixon's remarkable series of releases continues with Escape. Like his recent record on Delsin, "Beat" sees him move away from abstract sounds and embrace the full-blooded dance floor approach. Swirling filters move in over a rigid, metronome beat and even though the enveloping pads are spacey and dreamy, he keeps his focus on the dance floor. The title track is an entirely different matter, with its detuned, drunken sounding bass suggesting a move back to more abstract territory. He completes this move on "Another Space", where dreamy synths and a fragile, shuffling rhythm prevail. The only remaining question is whether he can maintain this remarkable form.
Review: Despite the seemingly morbid artist name, there's little here to feel down about. Dying & Barakat are an Argentinean pair who have released before on Knotweed, and this follow up is even more impressive. Full of layered melodies and breathy textures, this is house and techno music for a warm summer's night. "Odisea" sets the tone, with beautiful bells and evocative chimes unfolding over a rolling club groove. "Destino" is even deeper and more soulful as the duo conjures up a disco-influenced, bubbling affair that has echoes of Pepe Braddock. The title track sees them navigate a slightly darker path, with a niggling acid line and thunder claps underpinning the warm filters, but overall, this is a wonderfully musical affair as the reflective electro sounds of "Unica Perspectiva" demonstrate.
Review: Dying / Barakt are an Argentinean production pair, invited to release their second EP by the impressive but below the radar Knotweed. It's the perfect fit, with this four-tracker touching on many of the classic house and techno tropes that the French label is known for. The title track starts the release with a hypnotic, acid-heavy pulsing groove. "Desafio" is much more house-focused with the pair painting warm chord sequences over an organic, shuffling rhythm. At the other end of the spectrum sits "Regreso", a rolling big-room number that surges and flows to churning chords and subsonic bleeps, while Bleak's version of the title track is in a similar, acid-flecked vein.
Review: Italian Roberto Corizzo aka Hydergine has steadily built a strong profile and his latest release on French label Knotweed sees him smash out some no nonsense 130 BPM plus adrenaline for dancefloors; with an intelligent take. "EXP5" is a booming brutalist beast of a track that Modularz fans will be fond of, beware! "EXP3" injects a razor sharp arpeggiated melody over an uplifting pad workout. Finally "EXP1" gets gritty with a serious 303 acid workout backed up perfectly with syncopated 909 rhythms. Some great sonic artillery on offer here and a worthy addition to any techno DJs crate.
Review: From the label that gave us Terrence Dixon and Myles Serge comes Invite's Active Trigger. If you know Knotweed's form, then this three-track release doesn't offer too many surprises. However, it does succeed in delivering fast-paced and occasionally different sounding techno. "Higgs" is the most intense track, starting off as a pulsing acid line before gradually building up to a noisy, grungy climax. "Aquatic" meanwhile is led by a droning bass, glitchy, chattering percussion and tough, functional drums. Best of all though is the title track, which sees Invite borrow from Terrence Dixon's pointillist minimalism and reposition that sound in a more relentless setting.
Review: Techno outsider Julixo makes his debut on France's Knotweed entourage with three sublime dancefloor nuggets, each of them warm and under-compressed. "Rebho" is a stripped back number with sparse, airy melodies and frenetic percussive swings, while "Reflections" takes a more soulful edge to its chords and beats, and "Life Of Crime" dominates the floor thanks to its repetitive blasts of hi-hats, snares and furious shots of bass. Effective, malleable and utterly pumping.
Review: Julixo finally follows up his 2015 debut on Knotweed with this no-nonsense EP. The ominously titled "Red Valhalla" sounds exactly like its title, with dense, compressed kicks and razor wire percussion conjuring up a hard techno lover's vision of heaven. In a similar vein is the straight to the point "Fucked Up Drummer", where pounding drums support grinding riffs and wave upon wave of churning percussion. "Soulwave" is a slower and looser, but still an equally effective tough club workout. In contrast to all of these tracks is "Rose Tape"; based on a stepping, slinky electro arrangement, it still contains more grimy matter than the floor of an abandoned warehouse after a 24-hour party.
Review: Irish DJ/producer Lee Holman appears for French imprint Knotweed proper, first making his impression on sister label Decision Making Theory (DMT) with the Provider EP last year. The Kawl chief is in fine form on "Class Warfare" nailing that majestic Purposemaker vibe of old with hypnotic chiming melodies but with the added fury of broken beats beneath. Holman really finds his own sound on the next cut "Shifting Axis" which was our definite favourite of the bunch. This dreamy and evocative journey takes in the best of hypnotic techno and IDM and has potential for crossover appeal. Finally, Holman gets back to the program on the grinding cyclicality of "Primary System" fuelled by a Robert Hood style monosynth bassline, ethereal pads and austere rhythm work.
Review: Leghau aka C?dric Rebagliato returns to Knotweed after last year's Criticism with this deeply atmospheric release. "Curse" resounds to layered textures and is powered by a pulsating, rolling groove, while on "Moving Walls" the French producer delivers a track that has echoes of sometime Knotweed contributor Terrence Dixon. Repetitive riffs and outer space tones unravel over a sinewy groove that is designed for the latest dance floor hours. "Reactivity" explores a slightly more atonal sound, but here too echoes of Dixon prevail thanks to the repetitive tones. Last but not least is the title track, which sounds inspired by IDM, albeit copper-fastened to a limber dance floor rhythm.
Review: Mode_1 is best known for his DJ sets at the recently shuttered District 8 club in Dublin. He now takes the expertise that he built up spinning in that venue and applies it to his dance floor productions. "Shifted" kick starts the release in high-paced mode with an eerie rhythm track swooping in to the sound of furious claps. "Satellites" is more reserved but similar in mood, as resonating, tonal bleeps unfold over staccato drums. On "Final Approach", he ups the intensity levels again, with a pounding kick underpinning bleak tones, while closing out this debut EP is the slightly deeper but still forceful tech-house of "Lasting Thought".
Review: Myk Derill returns to Knotweed after last year's Cold Thoughts release. Like his previous work for the French label, RI-TU-AL is a varied affair. It starts off with the glassy-eyed minimalism of "Compulsive", before changing direction for "Sacrifice". A slamming, peak-time affair, it sees Derill deploy old school snare rolls, firing hi hats and grinding bass to devastating effect. The addition of a repetitive vocal sample only adds to the drama. Shifting gears again, he drops "Group Cohesion"; like vintage 7th City material it's a classy piece of minimal techno, as lone bleeps are supported by angular drums and a buzzing acid line.
Review: Most techno releases focus on a specific sound - by contrast, Unison manages to combine a range of styles. "Facial Features" is the dance floor slayer on the release, its hissing percussion and slamming beats combining with glacial chord progressions to create a peak-time affair with style and intelligence. By contrast, "Omage" is all about stripped backbeats and a slurred vocal in French that is reminiscent of the minimal house anthem, "Mumbling, Yeah". "See" is more up to date, with a stepping rhythm underpinning dramatic chords, while "Synda" sees Derill deploy a heavier, straighter rhythm, but one that is underpinned by dubby textures.
Review: This label has been on form lately, and Itadori continues its good run of form. Focusing on high-paced techno, Petit starts the EP in hypnotic mode, with a pulsing bassline and rattling percussion leading into a spacey segue. It sounds like Petit is a fan of such constructions because "November" is based on a similar approach, as heavy claps and detuned chords come together, eventually progressing into a magical denouement where layered claps and epic strings soar and soar. "Free" is a heavier affair, with relentless stabs and heavy acid lines ramming home the message, and Petit follows this approach on "Condemned", with metallic drums and a grainy bassline prevailing.
Review: The news that Detroit producer Terrence Dixon is retiring from music-making came as a shock to his fans, but as this release shows, his influence remains. Knotweed has in the past released original material from Dixon, and Petit's "Stars" certainly takes its cue from his work. It's based on similarly agile, lithe rhythms and pointillist tones and to Petit's credit, he makes these abstract elements danceable. However, it's hard to emulate Dixon and his version is an expansive, brooding affair, textured pads tethered with subtle percussive ticks. Returning to earth, Petit delivers "Variation" and "Prapators", two smartly executed, tough grooves, full of subtle filters and sassy bleeps.
Review: Philippe Petit is one of the unsung heroes of European techno. This is partly due to the fact that his label, Knotweed, has focused a lot of its efforts on releasing music by luminaries like Terrence Dixon and Myles Serge. However, Fracture looks certain to redress that imbalance. Designed to accommodate a range of moods and feelings, the release starts with the detuned riffs of "Killdozer", before heading to the peak time thanks to the pulsating, acid-led bass of "Five Zero". On "See The Light", the Knotweed boss focuses on a similar approach - although its whooshing synths somewhat offset the effect of its pulsating bass and hammering kicks - while on the title track, Petit calls to mind Rob Hood's visceral minimal thanks to its searing riffs and malevolent chord stabs.
Review: Techno producers rarely emanate from the French alps, or any other sort of mountain region, for that matter, but Chamonix's Philippe Petit isn't your ordinary sort of techno artist. Maybe they should, however, as the cold winter air is a typical prism though which we view the classic techno sound. In any case, Petit's Knotweed label has been a strong birthing ground for some of the more intricate and challenging techno shapes of the last five years, and this new EP, Opposite Attracts, is no different. "Decorrelation" feels like a Chicago house bomb circa 89' that has been filtered through a Berlin techno tone, while "Correlation" adds a little subtle 303 magic to its bass. "Salvation" is a nutty Detroit techno bullet in the same style as visionaries like Population One, and "Damnation" takes that same framework on a more dance-centric approach. Big and bad. Great DJ tools here
Review: The self-styled 'reclusive perfectionist' proves that quality need not suffer due to quantity. Despite putting out over 10 records in the past two years, Awakening offers a diverse set of tracks. "When I Met God" sees Serge in hard-edged form, with tough percussive volleys propelling a functional rhythm that breaks into atmospheric synths. For the rest of the release, Serge stays focused on this deeper mentality. "Transmilenio" is a pulsing groove, led by acidic belches, but it can't compete with "Red Eye To Bogota". Shimmering synths and rasping drums lead the track through build up after build up, bringing to the listener into a hypnotic dream world that Serge himself likely inhabits.
Review: Serge spans a wide range of sound on this three-tracker Tarifa EP. "Agua" is a real big room minimal groove, but instead of using bursts of white noise, he lays down screeching, grating riffs that sound like claws scraping across a tin roof. "Wind at Work" seeks inspiration from a different form of minimalism and its bleepy tones are reminiscent of Sleeparchive. However, the more impressive track on this release is "Mir's Mind". Consisting of raw, stomping beats, rasping percussion and a hypnotic chord sequence that's on a loop for over ten minutes, Serge's production is reminiscent of early Force Inc releases.