Originally set up in 1994, Christian Smith’s Tronic holds a special place in techno circles. A leading force in shaping a less purist techno sound Tronic was amongst the first labels to embrace sounds from house and techno to create records that DJ’s from both scenes would play. With tracks and remixes from Umek, Mark Broom, Stryke, Fergie, Steve Mac, Anton Pieete and Psycatron, Wehbba, ANNA, Eric Sneo and more Tronic has re-emerged with a bang in 2009.
Review: Like previous instalments, the eleventh volume of Tronic's Rockets compilation features upcoming producers alongside better-known names. Newcomer Buridan impresses with "Ripple", an atmospheric, filter-heavy deep house cut, while the veteran Belgian producer Van Czar ploughs a similar, albeit more tribal furrow on the hypnotic, looped "Underground Nation". Integral Bread, who runs the Univack label, impresses with the emotive, stepping electro of "Circuits, while Filipe Barbosa, who is known for releases on Naked Lunch, also keeps it deep, but lets his musical leanings play out against a minimalist techno backing on "Bearing". Similar to the other compilations, the eleventh Rockets is sure to go stratospheric.
Review: Ken Ishii follows a busy 2020 that saw the release of a remix album and an EP for Harthouse with this fine two-tracker. "Glow" contains all of the well-known and loved elements from this iconic producer: the bass grinds with a sense of steely futurism and the deep synths conjure up visions of a space age Tokyo high rise. "Dive" follows in a similar vein but is more tracky, with Ishii putting the focus on a slamming rhythm and tough drums. Tronic has also commissioned two fine remixes, with Filterheadz adding a sense of drama on their bass-heavy version of "Glow" and Oscar L dropping a more pumping take on "Dive".
Review: Label regulars Drunken Kong release their first EP of the year on Tronic and it's a heady affair. The title track revolves around tough, pounding kicks and menacing air raid sirens that swoop in at regular intervals, while "Phase One" is a high-paced roller populated by wiry acid tones and rasping percussion. In contrast, "One Day" is more subtle, with doubled up claps and a linear rhythm laying the basis for moody synth stabs and a gurgling bass, while "Non Stop" sees the duo venture down a tripped out route as a straight rhythm provides the backdrop for eerie synth riffs and powerful filtered builds.
Review: Ian O'Donovan has released on some of techno and house music's most prominent labels, including Bedrock and KMS, and now he returns to Tronic for this hard-hitting EP. "Ares" is a powerful, stomping affair, led by a series of ominous synths that build and drop, while on the title track, a purring bass sits at the heart of an arrangement that is also populated by hypnotic hooks and rolling drums. "Offworld" sees the Irish producer go deeper as dreamy melodies unravel over a tight percussive track, while "Fungie" also wears its Detroit techno influences brightly, as warbling hooks are fused with a wiry rhythm.
Review: Tronic welcomes Pagano to the fold for this killer three-track release. The title track is a dance floor-friendly affair; based on a rolling rhythm and smart filters these elements act as a backdrop for airy synth lines. "Triskelion" is a different proposition: utilising a stripped back approach, it sees Pagano deploy a snaking bass and a succession of rolling snares to devastating effect. The label has also recruited Eric Sneo to rework "How Long", another Pagano original. In his hands, the seasoned techno producer turns it into a jacking, ghetto-style track that also features woozy synth builds.
Review: Veteran production pair Filterheadz return to Tronic for this three-track collaboration with Jonathan Estrada aka The Reactivitz. Drawing on Filterheadz' late 90s work for inspiration, the title track is powered by a booming bass and features hardcore-style synths, dubbed out filters and soulful vocal samples. These elements make for an intoxicating combination. "Hexagone" follows a similar trajectory, with a surging acid line fused with powerful sub-bass to create a crafty big-room affair. However, "Pressure" is the most impactful track, with Filterheadz and Estrada coming together to deploy wild Red 2-style chord stabs over a pounding rhythm. It's hard to imagine a better way to round off this energetic techno collaboration.
Review: It would make for some debate but this More Than Machine compilation by Tronic may well be the label's most impressive release to date. Bringing together an all star cast of legendary, respected and fresh talent indebted to the machinist sounds of electro, Tronic slips out a surreptitious release into 2021 real diggers will recognise. John Selway appears twice with "Highest Order" and the harder edged "Blink Of An Eye" with Christian Smith (who also delivers an italo inspired solo number in "Pressure Drop"). Vince Watson goes both aquatic and cosmic in "Cyclon" next to CJ Bolland's "The Demotic Script", Sterac Electronics' (aka Steve Rachmad) phase driven "Reinstated" and a far flung Zein Ferreira collaboration with The Advent! Fresher vibes still from the UK's Second Storey and new age techno soul vibes from Client_03's "Regression Container". Your secret stash.
Review: Fresh from contributing to a split release on Alan Fitzpatrick's label late last year, Buridan now debuts on Tronic. "Phase Two" is based on a brooding bass that supports atmospheric, looped chords and dissected vocal samples, with all of these elements making for an emotive, powerful affair. In contrast, "Alianza" is a linear percussive track that features eerie synth stabs and and a rolling, tribal groove. On "The Only Way Out", this new artist remains in a similar space as "Alianza", but delivers a more streamlined interpretation of the sound, while "Smile & Say Hello" is a more upbeat party track, with vocal samples and summery hook unfolding over a thumping beat.
Review: Striking a balance between old school influences and modern electronic sounds is never an easy task, but the Kamara duo have risen effortlessly to this challenge for their latest outing on Tronic. The title track teems with the melodic flourishes of Dave Angel's deep techno Voyage series from the 1990s, while powered by a pumping groove. In contrast, on "Endurance" Kamara opt for a more crossover sound, led by a rolling groove and insistent chord stabs, while "Time Waits For No Man", sees the Dutch pair go for a more stripped back approach, as vocal snippets are laid over a driving, percussive rhythm.
Review: A name to appear across a various assortment of compilations for the Tronic label and others like Octopus Recordings, Groove 9 and Pursuit, the artist's leading release thus far has been a 2018 EP for Berlin's OFF Recordings. Returning to Tronic in full EP form, Moses sends in four waves of hi-octane techno for your secret new year's eve event or 2021 open air rave. "Mindset Of Mercy" pumps hard with all the hallmarks you could hope for from a '90s inspired techno jam, topped by its burning acid synthline. Next to that is a spiralling session of darker Detroit inspirations in "Fragmented Emotions" exorcising the inner demon in you while "Silence In Chaos" delivers a sinister breakbeat sequence that opens up to some sweet strings of life. A slightly stripped back and melodic version of a similar recipe arrives in the "The Consequence" with some darkly ambient storytelling capping off the EP in "The End Of Time".
Review: Tronic unleashes its annual compilation, which as always contains the label's favourite tracks. "Luv Can Turn Around", a deep techy track from the late, great Pascal FEOS is a reminder of the many loved ones lost in the past year, while label owner Christian Smith's rolling rhythm and surging chords on "Hallucinate" signals a time in the near future when we'll be able to return to the dance floor. At the other end of the sonic spectrum Harry Romero delivers a bruising, jacking version of DJ Rush & Eric Sneo's "Take Me Back", while Sinisa Tamamovic's "Lost Memories" is a more intense iteration of that style, a steely, bleep-heavy techno track.
Review: When Laurent Garnier champions one of your tracks, it's a sign that you are doing something right, and this what happened to Jules Wells & Mason Rubinstein's "Revolutionary Time". Powered by a soaring bass and featuring shimmering synth lines and wonderfully spacey bleeps, this epic, Detroit-inspired track also features an uplifting vocal sample. It's no wonder that it has become a Garnier favourite. Tronic has now commissioned two remixes from Drunken Kong, and the pair don't disappoint: the main remix fuses the original's musical elements with the the label regular's rolling drums designed for maximum impact, while on the dub take, rolling snares and epic break downs are sure to propel this version ever upwards.
Review: Established in 1994, Christian Smith's Tronic Music has long been a reliable outlet for proper main room techno, with the latest edition in its 'Rockets // Launch' compilation series out now - featuring 10 new and exclusive tracks. Highlights come in the form of: the austere and grayscale fury of D-Unity's "Across the universe", the dystopian electro funk of Basic Shape's "Cosmic Traveler", rising Indian producer Shaun Moses with the relentless "Distractions" and Pagano delivering a Detroit high-tech soul vibe on the anthemic "Desire".
Review: Shaun Moses is based in Goa, but listening to this release, it's hard to tell that he inhabits India's sunkissed party capital. The title track revolves around a pulsating electronic groove that's inspired by ebm and New Beat, while on "Initiate Sequence", Moses heads down a darker route, as tribal drums provide the basis for rolling snare builds and a spine-tingling organ sequence. "Mission" sees him make a sideways move, with tight break beats underpinning atmospheric synths and reverberating acid lines, while he offers a laudable warning against the dangers if substance abuse on the droning sound scapes of "Drug Rehab".
Review: Hannes Bieger has long been known as an acclaimed mastering engineer, but he is gradually stepping out of the shadows to release his own material. The latest label to provide a platform for his original material is Tronic, and Arc showcases his production prowess. The title track is a powerful rolling groove, with Bieger fusing crystalline synths with booming bass to make for a distinctive but powerful club track. On "Intrusion", he opts for a somewhat different approach; while still focusing on club-ready techno, the arrangement resounds to bleeding acid lines that will insinuate themselves into the listener's subconsciousness.
Review: Tronic recently held a competition for aspiring remixers to interpret the mesmerising club techno of label regulars Drunken Kong's "Peace", and the label's call to action received over 300 entries. From this pool, Tronic has whittled the efforts down to three standout versions, which feature on this release. There's the joyous, piano-led take from Hisashi Aochi, while on Stiv Hey and The Southern's version, a darker, pulsating rhythm prevails, with sirens unfolding over a pumping bass and a series of wild snare builds. Then there's Ettica's take: while more subtle than the previous remix, its combination of dreamy synths with acid builds means it's a worthy - and effective - addition to Tronic's catalogue.
Review: Clocking in at over 60 tracks, Orbit is a look back at some of the standout releases on Tronic over the past year. The compilation covers a massive range of styles and moves from Eric Sneo and DJ Rush's ghetto techno collaboration, "Take Me Back", and the pounding tribal rhythms of Gaston Zani and Filterheadz' "Perspective" into more tranced out territories thanks to the emotive builds of "Tesla" from veteran German producer Oliver Lieb. There are plenty of other twists and turns here: label owner Christian Smith's long-standing studio partner Jon Selway delivers an excellent, rumbling electro take on Nematic's "Pecular", while Drunken Kong drops a throbbing tech-house groove in the form of "The Line".
Review: This second set of remixes from Drunken Kong's recent artist album are designed for the dance floor. First up is techno veteran Ken Ishii with a firing take on "Step Back". It's reminiscent of the ferocious and timeless Luke Slater take on Joey Beltram's "Forklift" and sees the storied Japanese artist drop a driving, percussive take on the original, its screeching riffs causing a wild crescendo. Up next is Mario Ocha with an equally impactful version of the title track. Built on a booming bass and featuring frazzled synth stabs, it makes for a moody, rousing piece of modern club techno.
Review: Tronic launches the ninth instalment of its Rockets series, which brings together new and established producers. First up is Oscar L, a veteran of the techno scene, with the rolling "Mesmerised", which breaks into buzzing bass drops and which features a series of snare roll crescendos. On a different tact Kamara, who has released on Tronic before, drops the pulsating acid of "Le Labyrinthe Enchant?", while the label has also enlisted the services of UK techno veteran Daryl Stay for the grimy bass and rolling groove of "Closure". Representing the new breed this time, there's Simina Grigoriu, with the forceful, acid-laced techno of "Brutally Honest" and The Reason Y and T?mas Sinn's tripped out minimal sound on "Illusions".
Review: Anna Reusch returns to Tronic after last year's Atmosphere EP with this storming three-tracker. "Knocking" is a rolling, tribal workout, bolstered by an acidic bass and featuring a niggling sequence of tones. Gradually building to a subtle but effective climax, it's the type of tune that epitomises the Tronic approach. On "Bleed", Reusch crafts a jacking track that underpins repetitive vocal samples and layer upon layer of steel rivet percussion, inspired by Dan Bell's minimalism. "Come With Me", sees her change tact again, with filtered chords and vocal snippets surging over a tight rhythm, accompanied by a series of rolling snares.
Review: Andres Campo has previously put out music on Second State and Odd, and now brings his lean, direct techno sound to Tronic. Opening track "Monsters at the Toilet" strikes a fine balance between musical elements and a lean approach, with deep chords underpinned by rumbling tribal drums. Meanwhile on "Regrets", a more stripped back approach applies, with acid-soaked drums and high-pitched reggae vocal samples brought to the fore. The title track ups the pace, with the fast-rising Spanish producer dropping a visceral, steely rhythm. Closing out the release is "Basik", where Campo reverts to the type of rumbling tribal groove that prevails on "Monsters".
Review: New and established artists feature on the eighth instalment of Tronic's Rocket seres, with a wide variety of dance floor styles on offer. Radu Dracul gets the compilation off to a frenetic start as epic synths crash in over the pulsating groove of "Alpha". Meanwhile, on "Rattlesnake", Locos & Jam opt for a different approach, with howling analogue riffs unfolding over a breakneck-paced, percussive rhythm. The Southern's "Shake Your Body" is more in keeping with the label's in-house sound, with a rolling tribal groove underpinned by relentless snares and repetitive vocal loops, while Kimono's "Taking Souls" is a frosty, techno-trance affair, with echoes of Mathew Jonson.
Review: The big, heavy and dark stuff here from the dub infused techno formulas of Ronnie Spiteri. Coming through on labels like Knee Deep In Sound and Kenja Records with the Acid Lights single, Spiteri sends in two warehouse bombs of fabrik-shaking, big room adrenaline. These two tracks have all the hallmarks of an industrial session you could want; snapping high hats, tribal rhythms, penetrating synths and suggestive vocals from deep below the underground. Throw your hands up to the 909 hats and claps that rain down upon "Gravity" draped in highly effective reverb, or go for the pure warehouse dub session that is "Memories". Heavy and hitting.
Review: Drunken Kong follow their 2017 debut album The Signs Within with this fine follow up. It starts off in tranced out mode on "Certain Reason", which sees a pumping groove and pounding kicks underpin evocative synths and mysterious vocals. Meanwhile on "Live & Create", a drum-heavy track provides the basis for dramatic filter sweeps and "Toro", their collaboration with label owner Christian Smith, sees them deliver a pounding, linear club track. At the other end of the spectrum, "This Is" sees the Japanese pair put their focus on electro and synth pop, with catchy hooks supported by rumbling 808s, while "See You Again" is a dreamy ambient piece.
Review: Nico Cabeza is becoming a familiar fixture on Tronic, and his latest release demonstrates why the label keeps showcasing his work. The title track centres on a buzz-saw bass and pounding kicks that support synth lines that spiral and build to a mesmerising climax. "Railroad Trip" is somewhat deeper, with a disco filter unravelling at the heart of a rolling groove, while the Italian producer changes tact for his closing shot. "Flu" sees him depart from the big room and explore a more nuanced approach; instead of tough kick-drums slinky electro beats provide the basis for a low-slung bass and mysterious synths.
Review: Standing in the electro-ghetto looking to the stars is Manuel-M with the Asteroids EP for Swedish outpost Tronic. Across four tracks the artist delivers deep but revealing techno sessions that touch on house, rave, trance and spacey acid electro with four tracks that all take their own course into outer space. Heavy techno elements remain at large in the euphoric '90s warehouse pump of the title track, and stripped back alternatives in "Satellite" and killer rhythm track "See". But it's the hidden sub-pop in "Ghetto Robot" that should invoke a similar feeling of bliss also heard in Fatima Yamaha's classic "What's A Girl To Do".