Review: With Steve O'Sullivan's back catalogue getting re-released, it is timely that attention also shifts to Mark Ambrose. The UK producer was one of the most innovative in the UK tech-house scene, and as "Shooting Stars" demonstrates, he is the master of creating bassy, murky grooves. Based on a tracky rhythm and vicious snares, when the tripped out bassline kicks in, it's hard to imagine any speaker system being safe. The remixes are of a high quality too; Ambrose's own version imbues the arrangement with a disco undercurrent, while Ben Sims toughens it up and adds eerie acid lines. Best of all though is fellow traveller Aubrey's take, with its rumbling bassline and visceral 303 licks.
Review: Two of UK techno's most experienced producers go head to head on this new release on Sims' label. Allen Saei aka Aubrey has been making dance floor friendly yet esoteric techno for nearly twenty years, but "Centrifuge Azul" marks a shift in his approach. Screeching riffs and gritty beats are combined for one of Saei's most visceral tracks to date. There's a similar approach on "Neurosis", but on that occasion, wild acid lines and dark, noisy percussive bursts are combined over insistent filters. "Double Image" is heavy duty material too, with thunder claps and a buzzsaw bass dominating the arrangement. Try as he might, the heavy drums and insistent filtering on Sims' version of "Double Image" can't quite match this intensity.
Review: It's hard not to admire Ben Sims' ability to reinvent himself. On "Something", he delivers a typical slamming tribal groove, but it features noisy, crashing percussion and a vocal intoning 'there's something inside', which is culled from the kind of hardcore record that he used to play back in the day. Sims' own remix features splintered rhythms and insistent claps over hammering beats, while his choice of remixers is also of a high quality; Truncate's take features merely a snippet of the vocal over hammering beats that lead into a deep chord sequence, while the Rivet version is more stripped back and laced with bugged out acid lines.
Review: First released on Ben Sims Theory Recordings as a 12" in 2009, Mark Broom's "Things" harks back to the raw and rough aesthetics of 90s techno and rave. Brick wall compression sees Broom's original relentlessly crunch, suck and pump until ravey key stabs big enough to fill a Tiesto sized stadium enter the fray. Broom's VIP mix will cause 90s nostalgia seekers and bright eyed youngsters alike to desperately wave their phone in the DJs face with the words track id? Broom super loops his original, occasionally dropping the kick or bass whilst unashamedly sampling Steve Poindexter's '89 club hit "Work That Mutha Fucker". The NYC mix is a more polished production taking "Things" down a minimal and techy route with strings, climbing blips and square pads all in tow. Paul Mac ups Broom's rave antics by plodding a ravey bass line that gets phatter with every stab against crisp hats, tribal percussion and filtered vocals.
Review: Enjoying something of a renaissance recently, Stephen Brown steps up to Theory to deliver two tracks and surrender them to Ben Sims for surgery. In their original forms, "Fuego" and "Polar" are stunning slices of stripped-back techno. The first pumps on a prominent shuffle carved out of tough, funky drums, but keeps the synths subtle and spacious, while "Polar" gets dubbier and freakier with a soft beat and an ace hiccupping vocal slice. Sims' remixes unsurprisingly jack things up noticeably, retaining both tracks' inherent qualities but giving them a good old UK techno injection to cut it in rougher situations.
Review: The latest split release on Ben Sims' label features some new names alongside a well-known Theory associate. Mark Williams has been putting out club techno for over 15 years, and on "Journey Man", he displays his ability for crafting well-constructed tracks. Based on a lithe, rolling rhythm, the UK producer weaves in eerie synths and looped chord sequences. It's radically different from Japanese producer Hiroaki Iizuka's contribution. "Superstition" resounds to a walking funk bass, chopped up vocals scattered amid dubby filters and cavernous drums. Meanwhile, his fellow countryman Kazu Kimura opts for a more intense approach with the tweaked bass intensity of "Flash".
Review: Sims made his name as a DJ, but increasingly, his productions are proving to be impressive. The title track is a huge club track: based on steely, slamming beats, it features a whooshing filter and jarring, discordant riffs, while its 'in my life' and 'hardcore sucker' samples provide a reminder about Sims' own rave background. Orlando Voorn's "Search & Destroy" remix also mines the past and sees the Dutch producer drop heavy claps and evil siren riffs. Ritzi Lee's version is more restrained, featuring a walking funk bassline, and even the siren riffs that cascade in over the arrangement sound tame by comparison.
Review: For those who had assumed Sims was merely a loop techno producer, 0401 provides a pleasant surprise. The UK producer's love of slamming beats and dense, claustrophobic rhythms is present and correct, but on this occasion it sounds like there is a more fluid, dynamic approach at play. This is due to the use of rasping percussion and a malevolent filter that rises through the track. Former UR operative Rolando shows that he hasn't lost his magic touch on the remix of "New Blood". Coruscating drums and a wild acid line make for a thrilling combination, but Rolando hasn't forgotten his house leanings and the swinging rhythm also features a repetitive vocal sample.
Review: It's been a while since a Theory joint graced our ears but Ben Sims returns to his imprint to bring us a taste of his warmer, deeper take on techno. "New Blood" is all about the dubby chords and distorted hats, making for the perfect slice of techno refreshment in the context of tougher stuff to be found at this tempo. Meanwhile the Skudge boys get stuck into "Slow Motion", reducing the original to a heavily grooving beat workout with just a whisper of melody that gradually morphs into a nasty late-night steamer, bringing that touch of sexiness to techno that they do so well.
Review: After the rip-roaring reception that the Skudge remix of "Slow Motion" received, who better to raise the bar on this series of Theory 12"s than Robert Hood? Ben Sims' original track "Straight From Bolivia" is a stripped workout, showing his more minimal side but no less focused on tough techno principles. Robert Hood however takes "New Blood" and turns it into a fearsome peak-time smasher, working around a pneumatic groove and artfully looped vocal hits. It's a very housey kind of 'serious' techno, not unlike the last remixers for Theory (Skudge), and Hood nails it with ease.
Review: Ben Sims's label delivers a diverse but hard-hitting three-tracker. The label boss is first up and "Bite This" sees him sever the links with his loopy past. It's still a repetitive track, but as its basis Sims deploys a pulsing electronic groove and firing percussion, while a malevolent riff makes the transition from jarring and abrasive to atmospheric and eerie. Ritzi Lee travels a similar path on "Reverse Processed", where snappy percussion and a nagging bassline underpin metallic stabs and jarring riffs that reach out into the darkness. By contrast, Paul Mac's "Dry Run" is a more soulful experience. Despite the proliferation of spiky, metallic drums, it's the screeching, slightly deranged male vocal that stands out.