Review: German label Traum continues to explore the middle ground between trance, IDM and minimalism on Complex. "The Bridge and the Clouds" features wiry rhythms and day-glow, trancey melodies, while the title track is more insistent; based on a rolling, relentlessly banging rhythm, its stop-start arrangement shudders and stutters until chiming melodies and a strangely-placed sax sample kick in. "Sifting through Static" pursues this approach to its logical conclusion and ends up with a glitch web of tangled minimal techno, while "Falling Stones" sits at the other end of the spectrum. Warmer sounding and based on tumbling break beats, it shows a human element to a sound that is often rigid and robotic.
Review: The UK outpost of Traum's trance empire comes good with a diverse release. "Spiral Inflections" sounds more like mid-90s UK techno than trance, its wiry, stripped back rhythm and acidic undercurrents coming across as a leaner, spikier take on Plink Plonk's catalogue. "Basal Ganglia" meanwhile sees Cooper conjure up an amalgamation of noisy Squarepusher bass with his own textbook dreamy synths. Cooper's Microtrauma take on "Gravity Well" reverts to his standard sound with its humming bass, ghostly chords and glitchy percussion combining to create a peak time number. But it's the original version of "Gravity" that impresses most, its poignant synths unfolding over a laid back but squelchy groove.
Review: The leading contender to wrest the nu trance crown from James Holden sets out an impressively diverse stall here. "Echoes Reality" is a deliciously spaced out techno track, with a soaring, ghostly bassline, glitchy percussion and reverberating melodies pushing it through peaks and troughs. "The End Of Reason" is a totally different proposition, a symphonic, string-fuelled ambient arrangement that would make William Orbit envious, while "Darkroom" marks a return of sorts to the realm inhabited by "Reality", but this time the bass is more detuned and menacing. "Qualia" provides further surprises, its feather-light hooks resting on a delicate, introspective rhythm, and finally, John Tejada delivers a chiming, resonating take on "Darkroom".
Review: The new master of UK trance delivers a release that combines the electronic and the organic and the pastoral with the futuristic. "Epitaphy" is a hands-in-the-air affair thanks to its buzzing bass and trancey melodies and in spite of its abstract beats. "Autumn Haze" meanwhile is more gentle and natural sounding, its serene melodies unfolding over microscopic beats. Ripperton's version does much to reinforce this pastoral approach with birdsong in the break down and chiming rhythms underpinning the bucolic melodies. Then it's back to the modern world with the distorted bass and robotic shuffle of "Raw" and "Simplexity", which is all brittle beats and gloopy bass providing the basis for backwards vocal samples.
Review: Traum step back into the year with a dose of synth-driven house from Sebastian Waack aka Ryan Davis. This comprehensive EP has heralded the support of Sasha, Stephan Bodzin and Max Cooper to name but a few. "Roads" kicks of the proceedings with an epic soundscape over a persistent rumbling bass and stripped down drum programming. "Loophole" continues in the same vain whereas "Sideways" steers the package back into the main room. The Roland M Dill remix of "Roads" is the icing on the cake here with its jacking rhythms, shrill sound textures and stabs, whilst Morris Cowan's remix of "Sideways" is a playful atmospheric end to the package.
Review: Despite a bulging discography stretching back for the best part of a decade, this is the first full-length from producer Ryan Davis. Previously, he's concentrated largely on melodic techno and tech-house, with the occasional foray into more downbeat pastures. Particles of Blisss flips the script, offering sweet, emotion-rich downtempo compositions - both beatless and gently percussive - with the odd foray into twinkling deep house or far sighted techno. While some of the tracks may wash over you, for the most part it's surprisingly engaging. Throughout, Davis' way with melody and atmospherics will keep you entertained. He even successfully sings, delivering a world-weary vocal on closer "Dragonheart".
Review: Dovim is Csaba Magyar, a classically trained musician from Hungary who has appeared previously on MBF Ltd and now presents his third release for Cologne institution Traum Schallplatten entitled Makaratta, which really fits with the label's niche sound perfectly. Starting out with the darkly melodic "Argula", he presents more superbly executed journey tracks in the form of the slinky and woozy title track and "Yurlungur" which is an imaginative exploration through dark ambient, using acid flourishes and sinister sound design. We should certainly mention also the terrific remixes of "Argula" that come later; they're all good, but for our money we'd recommend the Hidden Empire remix (Stil Vor Talent) who deliver a very Berlin after midnight sounding epic that you'd expect to hear at Ritter Butzke.
Review: This release starts as so many other Traum releases have, with soaring trance-like melodies. While the title track does nothing to reinvent the label's sound, its pulsing groove, euphoric builds and dramatic melodic sweeps will prove difficult for even the most jaded Cologne techno fan to resist. "Before the Feast" boasts similarly atmospheric melodies and hooks, but on this occasion, they are set to a metallic house groove. The only deviation from the Traum script is "Goujian", where Dow fuses a wall of new wave guitar noise to a pulsing rhythm. Unsurprisingly though, it ends up in the same climactic space - the only difference is that instead of electronic melodies, the outro resonates to walls of guitar feedback.
Review: Drumcomplex is known to many for his releases on MB Elektronics, Phobiq, INTEC and Complexed. Now he has teamed up with Dusseldorf's Frank Sonic for a special release on Traum. The opening track "Chameleon" is an 'absolute slammer', with sequences running back and forth while creating new synapses in your brain. The analogue strength is breathtaking and can be heard all throughout the track. "Lucky Seven" shows the flipside of the coin; aiming less for the peak time on this 'weird, retarded and twisted world they have painted.' The last track on the release entitled "Ikaruna" is another story of its own. It is hard to match, as stated by the label themselves: a rather genre defying track that pops up from time to time on the label, but will find fans no doubt. You will have to hear it for yourself!