Reviewed this week
Few Portuguese producers can boast as strong a track record as Trikk, whose high reputation was founded on fine singles for the likes of Optimo Trax, Hypercolour, ManMakeMusic, Lossless, Pets Recordings and, most recently, Innervisions. Here he returns to the latter with his most ambitious project to date: a debut album rich in tribal drums, exotic synthesizer motifs, humid electronics and all manner of global musical influences. Naturally there is a number of bespoke, floor-friendly tech-house and deep house cuts to enjoy, but the album's genius primarily lies in the producer's devotion to mood and melody. There may be plenty of tracks that would sound good in DJ sets, but it also works as an album to listen to from start to finish: something that can rarely be said about house albums.
Darmstadt's Benedikt Frey has been one of the most exciting talents in electronic music in the last few years. With releases on local institution Live At Robert Johnson and Barcelona's Hivern Discs in addition to his experimental project INIT (with Nadia D'Alo) he returns once again to Lovefingers' Los Angeles based imprint. This is the second time after last year's impressive The Lobbyist EP. Be prepared for more cosmic, post-Kraut psychedelia of the greyscale kind from Frey on his first ever full length release. Highlights include the brooding industrial punk-funk of "Controversial", the slow burning hypnotic techno epic "H For Hysteria" or the Can styled progressive rock of "Keygrind" which really shows off the diversity. Add to that the the woozy acid tribalism of "Push" or "Patcher" which are perfect for setting the mood early at Offenbach's favourite clubs.
Although she is still in her mid-20s, Charlotte de Witte is quickly establishing herself as one of the most promising new talents in European techno. Closer is her second release for this Dutch label, and it shows who she is so highly rated. The title track resounds to high pitched acid lines, robotic female vocals and whip-cracking percussion. "Nothing" is more pared back and functional and sees the Belgian producer deploy a Hawtin-eseque 303, snappy hi hats and a tough, dense drum pattern to devastating effect. Closing track "Motion" is the most basic arrangement on offer here, but its combination of impenetrable kicks and stuttering vocal sample proves highly effective and shows why she is so well regarded.



Pole Recordings, as it was known back in 2014, was one of the first labels to release material by Kwartz aka Mario Campos. Fast forward three years and a number of EPs later, and the Spanish producer returns to Oscar Mulero's renamed imprint. "A Tragic End" starts the release in somewhat reflective mode, as Campos brings together atmospheric textures with a dense, stepping rhythm. There is no musical element on "Right Discipline", where a rolling, hammering groove and metallic drums collide. The release takes an intense turn on "Dissociation of Body and Mind", where waves of electronic fury unfold over a rough, mangled rhythm and pile-driving percussion. By the time he reaches the relatively serene "Theory of Emptiness", Kwartz's fans will be craving its dubbed out nuances.
Posthuman aka Rich Bevan and Josh Doherty debut on Dixon Avenue Basement Jams with a vocal-led release. The UK pair have recruited Josh Caffe to work with them, and his soulful tones work well with these hardware jams. On "Preach", his exhortations unravel over raw drums, a predatory bass and lurid acid lines, while "Temptation" is even darker. The 303 sound is more intense, the hi hats crash in mercilessly and Caffe's vocals morph into moans and howls. It all adds up to a hugely enjoyable but dark ride into Chicago jak. The only arrangement devoid of Caffe's contribution is "Exit Drums", but its fat bass and grimy snares more than compensate.
Despite dating back to 2011, it was only a matter of time before Nick Harris was enticed to allow his A Sagittariun project leave the Elastic Dreams fold. Of course, decamping to Idle Hands makes perfect sense, as the Bristol label shares the same open minded approach as A Sagittariun. This finds expression on "Pseudo Science", where swung rhythms, a rave-fuelled sense of wonder and building chords all come together to create a wonderfully playful track. "Heavy Manners" is much straighter and less nuanced; Harris focuses on delivering a rolling, bass-heavy groove that features warbling acid, bizarre vocal samples and sensuous textures unravelling in kaleidoscopic unison.
There must be something in the water near Juju & Jordash's studio, because they have never made a bad or even average record. Sis-boom-bah! is their fourth studio album and serves to reinforce how consistent they are. Irrespective of whether they are laying down noodle jazz workouts like the wonderful "Herkie" or off centre house grooves - check the vocal sampling, funk bass of "Rah Rah" - the pair's jams are delivered with effortless brilliance. There are dance floor tracks of sorts included here as well, particularly the lean groove of "Back Tuck Basket Toss" and the dubbed out drums of "Deadman", but like all their best work, this album's strength lies in its sprawling, freeform approach to electronic music.
The funny thing about Bristol's Livity Sound is that it manages to take on a new life with each and every release that emanates from its star-studded catalogue. Recently, we had Mosca and Hodge dropping some badness, while Peverelist and Kowton have been holding it down for donkey's years thanks to constant fluxes of new, game-changing bass music. This time it's newcomer I III who delivers the goods, coming through with the wonky steps of "Dolce" at first, a bouncy bit of side-step techno with that inimitably loose UK flow at its epicentre. "Bun So Nude" ups the tempo and unleashes a formidable blockade of bleeps that'll have you hypnotised in no time - not to mention that sweet cascade of tribal rhythms too!
Over the past few years, French producer I Hate Models has made a name with his industrial and hardcore-influenced take on techno, and now brings his biting sound to Dax J's label. Clearly inspired by Manu Le Malin and The Horrorist, he sets the tone with the title track, a slamming, noisy affair that resounds to wailing trance riffs and grimy acid lines. The charmingly titled "She Said Fuck People I Have Drugs" dispenses with melodies in favour of a hoover-bass, high tempo banger, the kicks rumbling like the sound of a tank division entering a small town. "Emerald" sees IHM fuse unusually dreamy melodies with relentless break beats, but it's only a temporary diversion and straight afterwards he drops the raw, frazzled acid of "Last Kiss Before Death".
Since launching five years ago, Chris Smith's Central Processing Unit label has risen to become one of the finest purveyors of electro, IDM and intelligent techno on the planet. Here, Smith has decided to celebrate the story so far with a luxurious, double-vinyl set featuring brand new remixes of CPU catalogue classics. There's naturally plenty to set the pulse racing throughout, from the braindance-goes-techno rush of Missqulater's remix of CN's "Zener Diode Blues" and the Motor City-meets-the-Steel City brilliance of Plant43's rework of Blixaboy, to the sludgy, slo-mo bliss of Noumen reworking B12, and the latter's thrillingly beautiful interpretation of Ms Jynx's "Diving Loop". In other words, it's a brilliant collection of analogue electronic music from some of the greatest talents in the game. We wouldn't have expected anything less, to be honest.
Mysterious UK producer returns with more grey area perspectives, courtesy of Felix K's label. These three tracks lurk in the grey area: the space between techno and drum and bass. The first version of "Persistence Of Memory" is a textured dub techno experiment, redolent of classic Basic Channel by way of Italian hypnotic techno sensibilities. A raw, brazenly analogue and bass heavy thumper represents the second rendition, much in the vein of Clone Basement Series or Livity Sound: keeping in mind that he appeared on the latter with his previous EP Jinx/Scanners earlier in 2017. Persistence Of Memory 3 shows a side of the producer not seen since his Jungle Crack EP last year. This is a pure techstep: late '90s style and calls to mind the early work of Trace or Ed Rush & Optical where this producer possibly returns to their roots.
For their second release on their label arm, Amsterdam festival DGTL has tapped another one of its regulars for a release: Michael Greene aka Fort Romeau. The UK producer came into the spotlight with releases on Running Back, Live At Robert Johnson and Ghostly International amongst others. In 2015 he also set up his own label, Cin Cin, releasing split EPs from established names and newcomers alike, with a diverse musical policy that reflects his open minded and inquisitive approach. After playing at three editions of the festival, they 'wanted to propagate his sound with an EP on their imprint.' Starting off in fine fashion with the evocative mood lighting of "Untitled II" with its Larry Hard bassline and layers of neon-lit pads over a steady groove. Next up Greene offers up a taste of the acid life on "A Familiar Place" this is proper dancefloor drama - 303 style, that would make even Tin Man stand up and notice.
Having spent the best part of a decade producing and releasing music at a furious rate, Tom Demac took a step back in 2015. Two years on, he returned earlier this year with Sink Or Swim, a two-track missive on regular home Hypercolour. Six months later, he's decided to repeat the exercise with Bark Or Bite. The title track, a typically Germanic chunk of loose late night techno that layers a hushed and hypnotic groove with spacey synthesizer motifs and effects-laden vocal hits, is particularly strong. That said, we're particularly enjoying the bustling, intergalactic electro vibes of "205 GTI", where fizzing electronics and yearning synth lines cluster around punchy drum machine hits and an elastic analogue bassline.
Inspired by the harbour and industrial city scapes of his home town of Rotterdam, Autonomous is Boris Bunnik aka Conforce's most austere album yet. "Tidal Gateway" and "Fauna Of Estuaries" set the tone for the release with their ticking, disconnected percussion, dark bass and menacing sonic undercurrents. "Inland Current" sees the Dutch producer take influence from Norwegian pioneer Biosphere, creating a dark ambient sound scape, while on "ECCV Quay", Bunnik displays a somewhat lighter side as a chugging rhythm is fused with hissing electronic textures. There is also some dance floor techno on Autonomous, courtesy of the deep grooving "Harnessed Life In Programmed Form", but in the main, it focuses on the bleak, machine whirr of industrial automation.



Earlier in 2017, the third collaboration between famed North American producers Tiga and Audion came in the form of the Nightclub EP, which saw the duo take on the challenge of executing harder techno sounds - to reflect even harder times facing the world at present. To hammer that message home, they've drafted the big guns to make y'all listen and learn! The masked one Redshape steps up to the plate first and delivers a stomping Detroit rave rendition. Dutch electro fiend Dexter delivers a wonky analogue funk attack that has earned his and Steffi's Klakson imprint much respect over the years. We then go from central European party sounds to remixes with The White Isle more in mind: techno's dark lord Dubfire delivers a rolling, tunnelling and strobe-lit rendition. Next rising South American star ANNA delivers a hard hitting peak time rendition that has earned her releases on Tronik and Terminal M.
Vin Sol's relationship with Honey Soundsystem goes back a long way, which is why the San Fran label has said that they subjected him to a more rigorous A&R process than other artist on their label. According to Honey Soundsystem, they wanted to ensure that the 'marriage was right' when it came to releasing material. Certainly, this four-track is proof that their pernickety attitude paid off. The title track is a deep, hypnotic techno track, while "Electrical Storms" sees him delve into darker territories thanks to its eerie chords. On the linear "Patronize", he introduces eerie bleeps and rasping percussion, while the suggestively named "Bondage Taped" closes the release with a grimy, jacking groove.



Question: Who needs a DJ or producer when you've got a 12-strong troupe of drummers, percussionists and horn players? Answer: no one. Certainly not when Hamburg's Meute are in the locale. Having picked up heat with a few cheeky one-trackers, they now unleash their full album and it's an incredible piece of work; from their dramatic conversion of The Detroit Experiment's "Think Twice" and their touching, twinkling twist on Trentemoller's "Miss You" to the cascading breath-taking bluesy touch of Bodzin & Romboy's "Kerberos" and the strident twist on N'To's super-dreamy "Every Wall Is A Door", everything about this album is detailed, considered and powerful. And that's before we even mention the really big cuts like "Rej" and "Man With The Red Face". Techno cover versions are generally a no-no but this is a big yes yes.
As its title suggests, this release marks the re-appearance of Maetrik after a five-year hiatus. During that time, Eric Estornel, the US producer behind the project has been focusing on his other alter ego, Maceo Plex. Return also marks a renewed focus by Estornel on cutting-edge electronics. "Ninex 7 - C", with its dramatic synth sweeps, soaring, pulsating bass and propulsive rhythm, is a reminder of the Maetrik work of old on Iron Box, while "Cortex 11-B" sees him focus on a different approach. Led by frazzled, angular percussion and a bleep-laden groove, it is full of the relentless energy that defines the Maetrik sound.
You would need to search very far to find a producer with better credentials than Neel. Real name Giuseppe Tillieci, the Italian producer and mastering engineer is one half of Voices from the Lake with Donato Dozzy and has done post-production on countless techno records. Calcata sees him fly solo and with devastating effect: the title track is an eerie, cavernous piece that resounds to powerful, slow-motion drums and eerie effects. "Re Vox" sees him pick up the pace to deliver a lean, wiry rhythm track, while on "Bassiani", he deploys chiming bells and a snaking rhythm to create a hypnotic style. "Treja" maintains the dance floor momentum, but on this occasion, it's the one-note stabs and steely percussion of Detroit minimalism that fuels Neel's creativity.
Brothers Wolfgang and Reinhard have decided to re-kindle heir collaborative project with impeccable timing. After a number of years laying dormant, Voigt & Voigt returns to drop the 99th release on Kompakt offshoot. "Sanfte Grusse" sees the pair fuse a rubbery, squelchy bass with eerie synths, dissected found sounds and some atonal groaning. It's a fascinating mixture of the earthy and the electronic but still packs a lot of dance floor clout. On the flip side, "Durchdringung" sees the pair delve into a much darker sound. The rhythm is stepping and hypnotic, but is buried under wave upon wave of grey noise and ear-splitting drones. It's an intense prelude to Speicher hitting one hundred.
Exclusives
JOE FARR - Keep It Simple (User Experience) - exclusive 24-10-2017
VIN SOL - Moonchild EP (Honey Soundsystem)
JUJU & JORDASH - Sis-boom-bah! (Dekmantel Holland)
Exclusives
A SAGITTARIUN - Pseudo Science (Idle Hands)
ROMAN FLUGEL/VARIOUS - Fabric 95: Roman Flugel (DJ mix) (Fabric Worldwide)
KRIS WADSWORTH - BREED 03 (Breed)
Top Labels
Sonic Groove
Token Belgium
Stroboscopic Artefacts Germany
delsin
R&S