Review: Nearly a quarter of a century after its foundation, Scottish label Soma continues to unearth musical talent. This time it comes from 04LM, whose only previous appearance was for the Non Series label. Like that imprint's sound, "Tragicaller" is a cavernous sounding affair, its massive kicks and stepping rhythm spacious enough to allow room for jazzy keys and atmospheric swooshes. "M Place" marks a different approach; the rhythm is more direct and slamming, with synths flickering and flashing in the background. For the remix, James Ruskin goes back to the old school and over a jack-knifing rhythm, turns the central synth riff into a shimmering sequence that's reminiscent of classic Secret Cinema.
Review: Atichgate is the third release from mysterious producer 04LM on Soma and consolidates his reputation as a purveyor of deep dub techno. That said, there is nothing introverted or reflective about this three-track EP. From the outset, he lays down a powerful manifesto; "Atich" rolls along at almost 130bpm and features mysterious synths rising up through its bass-heavy, pounding groove. The title track dispenses with melody altogether for a rumbling, grainy workout that centres on grainy percussion and an insistent, creaky filter. "Afterbyte" sees 04LM revert to a cleaner sound, and its solid kick underpins a wave of tranced out melodies.
Review: Legendary Glaswegian imprint Soma serve up this long awaited album from Alex Under. Approach La Maquina De Bolas with an open mind and you'll be rewarded; from the droney soundcsape of opener "Bola 1" through the glacially paced minimal house of "Bola 2" through to the shimmering, almost jazz-infused cuts like "Bola 5", this is an album that requires - no, demands - repeat listens. With most tracks clocking in at more than 10 minutes it's quite an epic, too! Recommended.
Review: Buried Secrets makes his debut on Soma, propelled onto Slam's label with the same type of raw energy as Frankfurt Trax material. The title track resounds to eerie horror synths, pounding kicks and industrial strength hardcore rhythms. "Precious Calling" offers the same type of energy, with this mysterious emerging artist delivering ear-splitting drums and relentless, pounding drums that support rattling percussion. "Seed of Deception" sees Buried Secrets go farther, with his kicks covered in a swarm of acid. "Ancient Awakening" marks another shift in the approach, but no let up in the intensity levels as metallic stabs unfold over a brutal rhythm.
Review: Despite being only in his early 20s, Charles Fenckler has produced one of the finest techno albums of the year. Void follows on from a brace of Eps for Slam's label, and serves as the strongest showcase yet for his talents. What sets Fenckler apart from his peers is his ability to veer from classic to modern styles without compromising his sound. "Immersion" is a breathy, melodic workout with echoes of early 90s UK techno, while "Frozen Room" is a Dave Clarke Red-style banger, replete with sirens and dramatic stabs and the full on acid of "Stellar Acid" completes Fenckler's interest in that era. Similarly, this young talent also has a modern outlook; there's the tumbling tribal drums of "District 2" and the atmospheric, broken beats of "Subject X103", which has echoes of Perc and Randomer. It's an assured, confident release that belies his youth.
Review: Fenckler burst onto the scene two years ago following a random encounter with Soma's owners on Soundcloud. However, as this single from his debut album proves, the initial hype was not a one-off. "Stellar Acid" has all the lost-it qualities of the peak-time acid of Luke Slater's X-tront series, but Fenckler has tempered the madness somewhat by using some breathy, atmospheric synths. The label has also chosen its remixer wisely and has drafted in Francois X. Slowing down his fellow Frenchman's original groove, the Deeply Rooted House producer drops dense break beats and turns the 303s into a noisy sequence that oozes grittiness.
Review: After a string of acclaimed releases on Figure and his own Clergy label, Cleric aka Jorden Hodgetts makes his debut for Soma. The UK producer's sound is similar to that of SP-X and on "Nowhere Fast", this proves to be especially true, with rock-hard kicks underpinning cavernous filters. While "Moxie" is also built on tough kicks, these support mysterious chords and the overall result is understated. There are no such nuances on "Dualistic Soul"; led by a granite-weight drum pattern and metallic percussion, it's an intelligently executed, peak-time affair. The same can be said of "Arctic Circle", where Clergy cleverly uses phased percussion and his trademark drum sound to create an unusual big room track.
Review: After a sick, twisted EP for Fifth Wall and a raucous LP for Turbo, Clouds are back with another heavy dose of chunky, unadulterated techno filth. All three tracks are peak-time burners, from "Complete Control" with its noisy, morphing texture, through to "2Talisman-Class Destroyer" which gives us some tasty tool action, and the percolated, swarming groove on "39.844g_mol". Clouds mean business once again...
Review: Youthful exuberance prevails on Clouds' second release for Soma. Clocking in at over 170bpm, "Teenage Boy" is the opposite of studied restraint, its muddled, muddy break beats and fuzzy percussion providing the basis for a searing bassline that makes No U-Turn sound tame. "Elevator Girl" is also racuous, but this time the duo focus on techno, with malevolent drones and robotic snares interrupted sporadically by screeching breakdowns. "Genista Cave 4" continues in this vein; grainy, distorted kicks that wouldn't sound out of place in an Ancient Methods track support a chopped up vocal and panel-beating percussion. It's the best argument you'll hear this month for the joys of a misspent youth.