Reviewed this week
Damon Wild and Dave 'Function' Sumner have been close allies since the early 90s, so it's no surprise that Sumner has managed to persuade Wild to release his first album in 13 years on his Infrastructure label. Cosmic Path lives up to its title and sounds like an intergalactic journey on a starship. By turns menacing, thanks to the hyper speed bleeps of "Red", tripped out (check the stepping "Distant Carrier" ) and functional - the drum-heavy "Marslander" and the aptly named "Sparse" are among the finest drum tracks that he has produced - this album proves that the veteran New York artist remains at the very top of his game.
Token celebrates ten years in business with this excellent compilation. Unlike some imprints that use a significant milestone to simply churn out existing material, Kr!z label has taken an unusual approach by getting the label's regular contributors to collaborate with its DJ supporters. This leads to the dense broken beat of "Bloom", a track authored by Sigha and Rodhad, while on "Detonation Vertex", the Dystopian boss teams up with one of Token's core artists, O [Phase], for a tight, pulsating techno groove. O [Phase] also works with Antigone, the French producer, who is one of the label's most recent additions, for the peak time, steely rhythm of "Icosahedron Flood". Of course, the compilation also features Token's boss, with Kr!z dropping the melodic, spiky breaks of "Amalgam" with Inigo Kennedy and the detuned banger, "Comets", with CTRLS. Here's to another 10 years.
Psyk aka Manuel Anos has been a regular feature on Mote-Evolver over the past five years. Listening to Silent Witness, it's not hard to hear why Luke Slater rates him so highly. While the Spanish producer's music is full of character and intensity, it doesn't stray into senselessly banging territory. "Disorder" is a rolling, tribal affair, but it is delivered with great finesse and restraint, with hollowed out drums supporting a droning, frazzled bass. There is a similar aesthetic at play on the title track, where bleak acid signatures are combined with a stepping, understated rhythm. While Psyk ups the ante on the rolling snares and warbling tonal frequencies of "Apart", it is only a temporary divergence and soon enough he is back to the heads-down approach with the frazzled "Surrender".



The fourth instalment in the Dead Architect series is a proper heads-down affair. It starts off with label owner Developer delivering "Utero", a visceral, pulsing groove encased in concrete kick drums. Rhomb, who has released a few EPs on Modularz, also keeps the focus on peak-time sounds with the rave stabs and subterranean bass of "Helix", which unfolds over a galloping groove. Rebekah maintains the intensity levels with the chain mail percussion and relentless rhythm of "Reflex", while CNCPT, another artist who has released before on the US imprint drops "Frazil". While it's not as fast-paced as other tracks, its dark tones and rasping hi-hats bring this split release to a close with a menacing undercurrent.
Clouds, Quail and Turtle inaugurate their new Headstrong imprint after a series of parties in Glasgow with the same name. As you can tell by the artists on on offer here: it's gonna be a pretty noisy affair. first you will find preferred special guest from London Randomer: who goes straight for the jugular on "Myanmar" galloping like a racehorse through your speakers and supported by immaculately programmed polyrhythms and druggy vocal loops. Unlike the previous title, it's actually "Spooky Hermann" that delves into the exotic; with its hypnotic tribal rhythms and Millsian melody that slowly and woozily drifts out of tune: very clever. Then, the Perth Drug Legends aka Clouds deliver the school yard anarchy of "Overflow Ya": a rapid fire attack to the senses, followed by the body-bashing peak time assault that is "Nitrous & Oxide".
The ongoing celebration this year of Dekmental's tenth anniversary has already yielded a series of interesting split EPs and the eight instalment is no exception. It starts with Peter Van Hoesen and Donato Dozzy's "Storta". Over a sliding, distended rhythm, the techno duo conjure up cinematic sound scapes. In stark contrast is Matrixxman's "Sexual Frustration", which draws on classic Midwest techno to deliver pneumatic kicks and wild acid tones. Deniro's "Serval" sees another shift in style, but remains in the same geographical space as Matrixxman; combing atmospheric synths with powerful bass tones, it sounds like the lost connection between Patrice Scott and Kenny Larkin. The droning, discordant techno of Talismann's "Aciano" completes the latest Dekmantel celebration.
UK label Natural Sciences is dedicated to promoting 'emerging mutants' and this compilation does a fine job of promoting upcoming producers. On the evidence of Volume 1, the assembled cast has a lot of promise. From the slowed-down, warbling acid of Mono-Enzyme 307's "Respiratory" to Sophie Sweetland's mellow, cinematic techno as D.Tiffany, and Antonio's raw hardware jam, "Schhhsch", there is a variety of sounds and styles audible on this first instalment. On some occasions, the artists venture down an unexplored path, most impressively on Aquarium's "November Dub", a dense, textured groove that pushes deep house to its weirdest limits. Here's to more mutations.
Yaleesa Hall teams with Oscillat Music owner Malin for an EP that draws heavily on classic techno tropes. "Artin" is a dense, chugging groove that draws on the cavernous dub chords of Basic Channel and Fachwerk's tight rhythms to create a dark track. On "Cahen", the pair opt for a more reflective sound; although the rhythm track is percussive, the chords are sub-aquatic and deeper. The Zenker Brothers do a fine job turning "Artin" into a tough, lean roller, but as the pared back, tracky rhythm and outer space sounds of "Brown" so eloquently demonstrates, this release is all about Hall and Malin's combined skills.
Sadly, it seems that this is the second last release on Optimo Trax, but it's a good one to start the farewell with. The work of Israeli dub maverick Kalbata, it features three very different versions of "Enkuan". According to its author, the material was recored in "a small studio shack in Addis Ababa", together with an Ethiopian musician who came to the session with a range of different flutes. The first 'version' features the mysterious instrument wailing over heavy drums and powerful thunderclaps, while on part two, Kalbata opts for a tougher sound, as tough drums underpin layered, detuned drones. By the time he reaches the third and final "Enkuan", Kalbata goes back to heavy reverb and dubbed out drums.
Simon Aussel aka Simo Cell has been releasing on Livity and its offshoot label since he first appeared on the radar two years ago. Clearly, he has found a natural home in Peverelist's operation, and the complex rhythm and powerful, pounding sub-bass on "Stop the Killing" is exactly the kind of track that Pev would play. Aussel explores this approach further on the Intello version of the same track, where he teams up with Timothee Rousse to provide more complex drum programming. While "How Do You Turn This On" sees him strip back the drums to deliver a humming bass-heavy workout, there is no doubting his ability to create complex but funky dance music as the mysterious, clipped drums of "Feel Di Kouala Vybz" demonstrate.



The legendary Moscow club delivers a third instalment of future-facing techno. Zadig's "Solar Analog" kicks off the release in frenetic style with a firing percussive workout, while veteran producer Savas Pascalidis shows why he is such a respected name, thanks to the grimy acid and concrete kicks of "Kontext". Conscious of Propaganda's propensity for tougher sounds, DJ Deep's "Night Scan" is among his hardest musical iteration - and is based on a lean rhythm and mean filters that swoop in and out of the arrangement. Finally, Versions take inspiration from the eerie, steel-plated minimalism of Space DJz' 90s sounds with "Broken Strings".



Ryan Aitchison aka Mella Dee is back on the fuming Warehouse Music imprint with three boiling-hot, golden era house cuts for the headz! In fact, the opening "Techno Disco Tool", as the name suggests, is a wondrous loop of high-powered soul, backed by an electrifying shade of FX filtering. On the flip, "Cloud One" is driven by a strong disco sample loop, taking it to some seriously euphoric lavels on the dancefloor, and "World Dance" dives right into the middle of the rave with its hypnotic techno sonics and harsh, intricate percussion loops. Three full-blown BOMBS!
Dekmantel unleash Detroit legend Robert Hood on Juju and Jordash's "Deep Blue Meanies" from last year's self titled album. The virulent pulse that ran through the track marked "Deep Blue Meanies" as the most impressive moment, and Hood does the track justice with two differing but equally astounding treatments. The Sci Fi Mix is akin to a full on sensory assault, flipping the track into a relentless thumping future techno groove replete with throbbing bass that absorbs brain matter and multi layered percussion that demands to be bounced off cavernous warehouse walls. Then Hood's "Monobox Remix" tones down the percussion to focus on crafting hypnotic patterns of scratched melodies and singular drones atop a minimalist groove. The growing acid tension that characterises the closing stages of this remix make it hard to choose a favourite.
Italian label Just This rounds off a stellar year with this split release. Digging deep into underground house and techno, it brings together some of the finest artists who often fly under the radar. "Aechmea" is typical of the crisp, broken beat techno that Ed Davenport's Inland project specialises in, while on "Zona", Ben Gibson drops a straighter rhythm track, albeit one that is still covered in mysterious synths. On "Kundal", the anonymous producer My Flower delivers a vivid, frazzled groove, while completing the release is Italian pair Hiver, whose gloriously melancholic "Stellar Parallax Landing" is the highlight of an esoteric release.



New Clouds material from Calum Macleod and Liam Robertson can mean only one thing: these things will go quick, and as you can imagine, you'll want to get them in your DJ sets just in time for the NYE debauchery. The duo land on British techno imprint Overlee Assembly, kicking the carnage off with a Perc remix of "Tuned To A Dead Channel", something of a toxic headbanger with a gnarly bass at its core. This is followed by a much sleeker, more restrained Tuned version of "Chained To A Dead Channel", and then by a jungle/breakcore driven version from Headcore Wreckage, and an acid-laden, drum-nutty hardcore Tuned Again version. Murder.
Duran Duran Duran aka Ed Flis is in the middle of a resurgence. The US producer, who first made a name during the break core scene of the mid-00s, released his first album in seven years in 2017 and now he follows it with this EP on French label Tripalium. While "Terror City" borrows from break core's shattered, splintered percussion, it is more restrained, as he lays down a scuffled, wiry rhythm. There is another surprise on "Sinking About You"; Flis works eerie textures and upbeat chords around a stepping groove and the kind of gasping, growling bass that sounds like it was recycled from a Basic Channel record.
The second release on Yan Cook's label sees him in formidable form. "Roadblock" starts the release with a bang: based on massive kicks drums and a filtered, metallic riff that sounds like it was borrowed from Luke Slater's Planetary Assault Systems catalogue, it's a massive peak time track. "Razor Sharp" makes nods to Mike Parker's pulsing, tonal playbook to create a hypnotic techno groove, while on "Hypnorum", the Ukrainian producer opts for a more stripped back take on electronic music. Calling to mind vintage release on the Torema label and even Joey Beltram, it's an impressive minimal workout - despite its angular framework, it's still a reflective prelude to the grainy, murky closing track, "Split".
Bortz has mainly released on Pastamusik, but appeared once before on Permanent Vacation, together with Sascha Sibler. Now he makes his full debut on the German label with a diverse EP. As its title suggests, "Glide" is a euphoric, tranced out techno track that could have come from Dominik Eulberg's studio. By contrast, on "Irie", he visits the kind of murky, distorted bass-heavy dub techno sound that Peter Grummich excelled at. "Faces" sees yet another shift in approach, with Bortz focusing on dreamy, cinematic break beats. "Suffering" is the final track on the EP and revolves around detuned riffs and down tempo beats as Bortz reveals yet another facet to his considerable production skills.
This second set of remixes from Perc's recent album begins in stark contrast to the first series. EP02 gets under way with the frenetic, tribal groove and trance stabs of Dax J's take on "Unelected". The tempo drops again for Lucy's take on "Wax Apple". In the Italian producer's hands, it turns into a stepping rhythm shot through with mysterious textures and drones. Changing course once again is Matrixxman with his interpretation of "Rat Run". While the US producer doesn't take away any of Perc's grit and grime, he does use a nickel-plated, percussive backing track to make his remix sound like it was recorded in a Chicago warehouse.
It's been a busy 2017 for Diynamic and this release is the last of the year, The work of Dutch producer Tom Zeta, who runs Frequenza Records, it puts a strong focus on techno. Opening track "Absorption" sees Zeta deliver a chord heavy affair, with these musical elements layered over a rolling rhythm track and bursts of white noise percussion. "Black Owl" is in a similar, albeit darker vein; once again Zeta uses musical elements but the synth stabs are menacing and unravel over a filtered, loopy backing track. It's an impressive release, one that finishes with the mesmerising deep house of "Rhino".
Exclusives
DEVELOPER/RHOMB/REBEKAH/CNCPT - Dead Architect Series Part 4 (Modularz US)
HODGE/RANDOMER - If I Could Stop (Clone Basement Series Holland)
PSYK - Silent Witness EP (Mote Evolver)
Exclusives
DAMON WILD - Cosmic Path (Infrastructure New York)
LEGOWELT - Legendary Freaks In The Trash Of Time (Clone West Coast Series Holland)
VOFA - Vitsia (Kafta)
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