Reviewed this week
As the matter-of-fact title makes clear, this tasty four-tracker delivers fresh re-rubs of tracks from KiNK's superb 2017 album Playground. First in to bat is Dusky, who re-casts "Perth" as a saucer-eyed chunk of rush-inducing, big room-friendly heaviness rich in darting synth stabs, held-note synth-strings, bustling beats, celebratory piano riffs and heady old school vocal samples. In typical fashion, Radio Slave man Matt Edwards turns "Teo Techno" into a dark, sleazy and mind-altering early morning thumper, while Josh Wink re-imagines "Five" as a restless, undeniably psychedelic throb-job. Arguably the best remix, though, comes from Matthew Herbert, whose "Funnel Dub" of "Yom Thorke" gleefully joins the dots between his glitchy, micro-house past, swinging Afro-tech and otherworldly alien funk.
Benjamin Damage became part of the R&S family last year, and this single offers a taster for his debut album, due for release soon on the storied label. The title track is an evocative affair, touching on early 90s intelligent techno's emotive, fragile melodies while keeping a focus on the dance floor thanks to the use of a stepping groove. On "Binary", Damage also conjures up a melodic aesthetic, only this time he expresses it through the use of surging chords and a skipping rhythm. Both tracks are understated but distinctive and bode well for the UK producer's imminent long player.
Dehousy is sometimes described as a house producer, but this categorisation is only true in the broadest sense. As "Break", one of the tracks on his new release demonstrates, the French DJ takes a broad, free-wheeling approach to dance music. The result is an irresistibly funky, drum-heavy workout that takes in hypnotic chants, gut-busting bass and centres on a stepping rhythm. "Stage 2" is similarly vivid, with Dehousy throwing Middle Eastern chants and organic percussion into an arrangement that veers from stepping into 4/4s. Rounding off this fine release is Addison Groove's frenetic take on the title track.
Techno must be in the McKay blood. Ryan, who has put out a few EPs on Drumccode, is the brother of the prolific producer Harvey McKay, known for his work on Cocoon, Soma and Relief. Based on "Illusions", he may now face some competition from his sibling. "Deception" is a firing percussive affair, underpinned by tough kicks and featuring wild riffs, while "Wound Kisser" sees Ryan opt for a slightly less abrasive approach thanks to its dreamy synths - even though in turn they are supported by a rough, pulsating groove. It's only a minor diversion though and "Deception Drum Tool" is an abrasive slice of peak time techno, bettered only by the title track's pounding kicks and freaky vocal samples.
Hot on the heels of last year's Metabolism album for Token, Sigha drops a new four-track EP. "Circular" is a pounding, bleep-heavy rhythm that resounds to powerful drums. On "Gliss", the UK producer ramps up the intensity levels with droning riffs and a dense rhythm that come across like a contemporary, more refined take on vintage Steve Bicknell. "Flare" is less obtuse and experimental, with Sigha dropping hypnotic tonal bleeps over a pounding groove, in much the same manner as Mike Parker's output. Rounding off the EP is "Hum", where Sigha goes deeper and deeper into experimental sound scapes.
The second release on Wagon Repair offshoot Freedom Engine is again courtesy of co-head Mathew Jonson - and here's another round of remixes of his anthemic track "Decompression" from 2004. This round of versions sure have their work cut out for them when remixing such a seminal classic - and here's how they fare out: Cynosure head honcho Mike Shannon serves up a moody and tripped-out tech house perspective, the unusual trio of GMT (Phil Moffa, Guy Gerber and Seth Troxler) stay true to the original, although lace it with some funky tribal rhythms on their mix while dub techno veteran Deadbeat offers up an impressive downbeat deconstruction. Lastly, Colombia's Natalia Escobar - who is hot off a killer release on EXIT Records diffusion imprint Heart Drive goes deeper down the spiral on her dark ambient perspective.
After a release on sub-label Unterton last year, Phase Fatale aka Hayden Payne now makes his debut on the mother imprint. Taking inspiration from industrial's dance floor and experimental strains in equal measures, the common bond across Reverse Fall is Payne's adherence to dark electronic sounds. This takes form on the pounding, Front 242-style title track and "Blackbox", where a tunnel of glitchy percussion paves the way for a peak time, pounding rhythm. In contrast, on "Empty Whip" percussive bursts simulate whip lashes doled out over a buckled, broken electro track, while on "Incision" brooding sub bass and murky textures collide to bring this bleak but compelling release to a finale.
Ctrl Forces is only the second EP from the JXTPS project, but already it has a distinctly menacing feeling. This is evident from the get-go, with the pounding beats and oppressive, throbbing bass of "Ctrl". "Forces" sees JXTPS focus on a more streamlined acid approach, albeit one led by an insidious, snaking rhythm, while the producer's ability to disappear down the rabbit hole is audible on "Shimmers". Coming across like Mike Parker on a bad trip, its claustrophobic rhythm provides the perfect accompaniment for the ghoulish tones. In stark contrast, "Landing" is deeper and more reflective as JXTPS delivers a tripped out groove, and this more introspective mood continues on the pulsating outro, "Trip".
This is the second part of Rommek's Set in Stone Trilogy for Blueprint and sees the emerging producer embrace a range of styles. "Greywacke" is a moody stepper, led by robust broken beats and a searing bass, while on "Grintstone", he lays down a straighter techno arrangement, one that is swathed in atmospheric textures and led by pounding kicks. In contrast to these pieces, "Arkose" is more understated; revolving around break beats, the rhythm is stripped back and the synths that shine through are eerie and creepy. "Flint" sees him shift gears once again, taking the tempo down a few notches to replicate the disarray that the troubled US town of the same name suffers from.
Throughout his career to date, Allen "Deadboy" Wootton has proved adept at delivering heavyweight, peak-time-friendly cuts that put bustling rhythms and big basslines front and centre. Where this EP for Unknown To The Unknown - his second in total - differs is in its unwavering commitment to mood and melody. Check, for example, "No More", where spacey, delay-laden female vocal samples and glassy-eyed, sunrise-friendly pads slowly stretch out over a snappy, hybrid UK garage/Chicago house groove. Elsewhere, Wootton's new commitment to ear-pleasing musicality is expressed in different ways. There's the lilting pedal steel notes and drifting vocals of 'So Cold", the bustling but deep and spacey thrills of "Silicon", the undulating, Marimba style melodic bliss of "Ryuichi" and the ultra-deep, early '90s ambient house inspired brilliance of closer "Venus and Mars".
Shlomi Aber returns to Len Faki's label with one of his strongest and most diverse Eps to date.The title track is the most immediate cut, with the Israeli producer combing an old school jungle bass with firing percussion and tough tribal beats. "Penetrate The System" is also primed for the dance floor with Aber delivering a driving techno tool. On "Common Dominator", he also borrows from the past, but this time offers a radically different result to "Whistler", with haunting chords unraveling over loose break beats. "User" adds to the experimental feeling, with dubbed out chords and tight percussion fused with low-slung broken beats.
Originally released last year, tracks from Jakub Alexander aka Heathered Pearl's Detroit get the remix treatment on Ghostly. Baltra turns "Under the Bridge" into an atmospheric, break beat techno number, while Matrixxman transforms the same track into a tranced out acid track, led by tough drums. A third version from Fort Romeau is different again, with stream of consciousness vocals, raw beats and a gloriously powerful bass prevailing. The label has also tapped three artists to rework "The Packard Plant". Sophia Saze's take is a frenetic, tribal techno workout, Justin Cudmore offers a more subtle, acid-soaked electro track, and working under his 400PPM alias, Shawn O'Sullivan delivers a teased out, analogue jam.
On its release back in December, we heaped praise on the debut full-length from Berlin-based Welshman Dauwd. Here, some of the album's "evocative deep house" cuts get the remix treatment. Romain Azzaro dons the Rouge Mecainque guise to deliver contrasting versions of "Murmure": the wonderfully sleepy, slowly unfurling "Walking Remix", where picturesque synths and intoxicating noises rise above bongo-driven hand percussion, and the wonderfully hectic "Running Remix", which is built around a high octane Afro-jazz groove. Elsewhere, Vakula delivers a typically drowsy and atmospheric, ultra-deep house revision of "Macadam Therapy", while "Analogische Memories (Piano)" is a beautiful, beat-free excursion that sits somewhere between Nils Frahm and Nicolas Jaar.
Although most readily associated with Hypercolour, Unknown To The Uknown and his own Bodytrax imprint, Chris "Bodyjack" Finke is a regular contributor to the Dext Recordings' growing catalogue. In fact, this is his third release for the imprint since 2016. Head first to "Nataraja", a polyrhythmic onslaught that pits twisted electronics, raw stabs and ricocheting drum machine cowbells against a rumbling bassline and heavy, broken techno style drums. Finke flips the script entirely with "Tandava", delivering a gut-punching electro workout that flits between sparkling, melodic sections and periods of foreboding heaviness straight out of Drexciya's post-apocalyptic playbook.
French dame Bloody Mary is back with another simmering brew of TB-303 antics on The Melting Pot Ep Vol 2, featuring some legends and veterans alike. Witness the return of German acid kings Hardfloor, who serve up some euphoric tunnel vision on the terrific "Thisishowwedo", Ovum head honcho Josh Wink delivers a fitting tribute on the deeply evocative "Dame Deep" calling to mind the early '90s glory days of Peacefrog or Ferox. Do Not Resist The Beat's Milton Bradley dons the Alian Rain alias once again on the adrenalised rush of "Contact" while last but not least: Bloody Mary chips in for something a bit more uplifting and groove oriented with "Mono". All killer and no filler on this one.
In keeping with Paul Rose's new socially-aware focus, the latest SCB release is, rather chillingly, called Extinct. While the man usually associated with the Scuba alias has become more interested in where humanity is going, this doesn't mean that this release is downbeat, and the title track is a stripped back tech house groove littered with blasts of white noise. "Anaesthetic" is more uptempo as Rose drops a linear, percussive rhythm, supported by metallic hi hats and doubled up claps. Meanwhile, ANNA's take on the title track is a rolling, hypnotic affair, peppered with dark acid lines and mysterious synths, while Ireen Amnes' version is led by lithe break beats and an understated bass. Overall, it's not as apocalyptic as its title suggests.
Sebastian Lopez aka Flug has a string of releases to his credit on labels like CLR and 100% Pure, but Rejected could be his biggest release so far. The title track is a frenetic, acid-laced affair that resounds to roiling snares and a hypnotic vocal loop, like Plastikman crossed with Chris Liebing. On "M32", Lopez takes a somewhat deeper approach, with a focus on a linear, heads-down rhythm that resounds to mesmerising electronic tones. The addition of Sam Paganini as remixer also guarantees that Rejected will appeal to a wider techno audience - and the Italian super star doesn't disappoint, dropping a tough, acid-heavy DJ tool.
Salvatore Carlino aka P Leone has previously released on Work Them Records and E-Missions, so this debut on Rekids does not come as a surprise. In essence, this is stripped back, heads-down dance floor techno at its finest. "Rose Petal Breaks" features lithe drums, a relentless rhythm and insistent stabs, while on "Noon Service", Carlino turns his attention to surging, building chords, croaking samples and pounding kicks. "Hold Me Down" is more visceral, as Carlino drops a grinding analogue riff over tough drums, while on "Sometimes I Feel Strong", he returns to the type of relentless, driving workout that "Rose Petal Breaks" inhabited. It's a release that's tailor-made for techno DJs.
Techno legend Neil Landstrumm requires no introduction on here, seeing as how he has been present - and largely leading - our charts since we opened shop in the late 90s. He is techno, and techno is him, much like the Detroit or Chicago greats that we all know and love so much. We're glad to see him on Unknown To The Unknown, DJ Haus' imprint, up in the wax with his predictably oddball strain of techno, first launching an off-kilter attack with "DX Madness", before heading into deeper, darker and more subtle territories via "Rectorate Power". "Sleep" and "Grape" both feature Brain Rays, with both tracks possessing a much more sparse, 12-bit sound that verges onto vintage electronica. Landstrumm gear.
"Immersions" follows Rod Modell's 2016 Deepchord interpretation of Peter Michael Hamel's work on Astral Industries - and sees the storied producer retreat to more familiar territory. "Immersion II" is an uptempo but nonetheless decidedly esoteric affair, with the typical Deepchord attention to spacey filters and fragile melodic twists. On the first "Immersion", Modell veers towards the deep, Detroit techno of Carl Craig thanks to the arrangement's evocative melodies and atmospheric sensibility. Despite this, it still bears Modell's unique sensibility and the cavernous sub-bass and jaunty rhythm will appeal to anyone who has ever been seduced by Deepchord's immersive dub style.
NICOLAS BOUGAIEFF - Dust Remixes (Mesh)
RYAN MCKAY - Illusions EP (Bek Audio)
BENJAMIN DAMAGE - Malfunction (R&S)
SHLOMI ABER - Whistler (Figure)
KILLAWATT - 47016 (47 Germany)
FLUG - Rejected (JAM)
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