Review: It has been quite a year for the Toolroom institution. Celebrating their 15th birthday last year, they weren't ones to rest on their laurels, instead going full steam ahead with a bunch of genre defining compilations this year. But most importantly they have been instrumental in the comeback of funky house after a 20 year dormancy, with killer releases by the likes of Weiss, Cashio and boss man Mark Knight himself. Add to that one banging party at Chicago Social Club for Amsterdam Dance Event and it's evident that these guys are proper 24 hour party people. With a glorious year sadly coming to an end, celebrate a wonderful one that was on Best Of Toolroom 2019 with highlights not limited to: the rework of the Cevin Fisher classic "Freaks Come Out" by Jack Back, Hannah Wants & Kevin Knapp's deep down and dirty "Call Me" (extended mix), UK heroes Alan Fitzpatrick & Wheats delivering the certified banger "M27" and New York legend Todd Terry teaming up with Tuff London on "Psychodrama" featuring Jasmien Nanhekhan. If that was not enough, ascendant producer Maxinne delivers two mixes compiling all the tracks: one smooth House mix followed by a thumping Tech House mix.
Review: Originally conceived by Adam Beyer as a platform to release music that he couldn't fit into Drumcode's regular schedule, the A-Sides series has reached its eighth volume. Comprising a vast array of styles and sounds, this 25-track compilation puts a spotlight on new and established artists. These include label regular Layton Giordani with the moody, tranced out "Chrome", newcomer Juliet Fox, who delivers the rolling, grainy drums of the Berghain-primed "Was Beautiful" alongside veteran artists like Secret Cinema - representing here with SAMA on the driving, dubbed out "Diviner" - and Joey Beltram, with the dreamy, old school groove and vocal sample-heavy "Can You Feel It".
Review: Delivering his first piece of solo produced music for more than a decade, Hot Creations welcome the legendary Danny Tenaglia with "Don't Turn Your Back" - a sweltering and hypnotic tribal tech house workout that calls to mind the seminal sounds he was responsible for at the turn of the millennium. On remix duties are some equally legendary figures of electronic music: Harry "Choo Choo" Romero of Subliminal fame injects some latin flair into the track, while the larger than life Carl Cox delivers not one but two renditions - the tough and functional main remix with dub techno inflections, and a slinky rolling groove on his "ASW" remix.
Review: Shadow Child aka Simon Neale returns with a bang to Hot Creations. The title track is a wild techy banger, peppered with the type of high-pitched squelches that Timo Maas used to specialise in during the early 90s. Underpinned by a tough but bouncy bass, it makes for a superb piece of party techno. On "Get Busy", Neale delivers a stripped back but equally effective track; powered by rolling snares and featuring an insistent vocal sample at its heart, once again, the use of surging bass is sure to keep dance floors busy. Mark Broom also weighs in with a remix of "DBG", turning it into a rolling, filter-heavy techno track that is infused with incessant disco stabs.
Review: Oderbruch is Rene Pawlowitz's fifth artist album as Shed, and the title refers to the place in east Germany he comes from. It's no surprise then that this long player is a deeply personal affair. "Die Oder", named after the river in that region, flows serenely thanks to a slip-slide rhythm and gentle pads. "Menschen & Mauern" is the polar opposite, with Pawlowitz dropping high-speed break beats and evocative organ playing. A similarly introspective mood plays out on the dusky sound scapes of "Sterbende Alleen", where Pawlowitz's sense of disillusionment is palpable. However, like any personalised work, the mood swings, with the dreamy "Nacht, Fluss, Grille, Auto, Frosch, Eule, Mucke" restoring a sense of calm with its bucolic tones.
Review: Belgian techno heroine Charlotte de Witte presents the first of a new double EP here. On the subject of the release, De Witte says that this duality is essential to explore her interests, both as a producer and DJ, and it was only natural to release them simultaneously for release on her ever reliable KNTXT imprint. The Selected EP features three stark and austere expressions in main room, peak time techno such as "Form" and "Time" - all featuring the signature grunt of the Roland TB-303 throughout, while final cut "Amar" is a sublime and soothing ambient cut that's perfect to close the EP out.
Review: Truncate debuts on Pets Recordings with a fine jacking release. "Pressure" sees the US producer divert somewhat from his chosen script, dropping a raw, analogue track. Built on a skeletal rhythm and pile-driving percussive, these elements support a pitch-bent vocal. The title track marks a return to the type of sound that Truncate is more commonly known for. However, in part, the aesthetic of "Pressure" remains, thanks to the use of insistent percussion and intense siren riffs unravelling over one of Truncate's typical rolling groove. DJ Haus is tasked with reworking "Pressure" and turns in an excellent version that focuses on fusing the vocal sample with a grinding bass.
Review: Laurent Garnier hooks up with Berlin producer Chambray for his first production in a few years. The fact that it has landed on Rekids is no surprise, as Garnier has been a longtime supporter of the label. In its original form, "Feelin' Good" sees the duo lay down a dramatic piano melody that surges and swells its way over a tracky rhythm and dramatic, building filters. It's both uplifting and functional. Radio Slave delivers two remixes: the first is a tough workout designed exclusively for maximum dance floor impact, while on the second 'Revenge' remix, the Rekids boss turns "Feelin' Good" into a thing of Balearic beauty thanks to the addition of rolling break beats.
Review: Usually, De:tuned puts out reissues, so Communion marks something of a departure for the label. It's Kirk Degiorgio's first studio album in 15 years under the As One project, and as befits its heritage, it's a gloriously widescreen affair. There's the dreamy ambience of "Absorption Spectra" and both "Downburst" and "Irimias" fuse similar sound scapes with brittle electro back beats. "The Ladder" sees Degiorgio push farther in the Detroit techno direction, guided on the way by out space blips, while the serene "Aimpoint" is redolent of the deeper than deep ambient-techno sound he explored on the classic As One album, Reflections. It's a timeless work.
Review: For those who've been buying house music since the '90s, "Sixth Sense" may be familiar. It was first released as a single way back in 1997 and saw Josh Wink joining forces with beat poet/spoken word artist Ursula Rucker on a typical deep and dark house workout. These are entirely fresh remixes, with Schlomi Aber and Louie Vega delivering decidedly 21st century revisions. Vega's vocal, dub and instrumental versions are surprisingly moody by his standards, wrapping Wink's acid-style stabs and mind-altering aural textures around a bouncy, cowbell-driven rhythm track rich in live percussion. Aber takes the track into ultra-deep, sub-heavy techno pastures on his clandestine and alluring "Remix", before stripping back the beats and pushing up the bass on the arguably even more intoxicating "Hidden In The Dark Mix".
Review: Since 2015 Reedale Rise's refined strand of electro and techno has quickly established him as one of the most inventive artists operating in the current crop of machine manipulators coming out of the UK underground. Liverpool-based producer Simon Keat has released a prolific body of work under the alias in a short space of time, notching up appearances on crucial labels such as Frustrated Funk, Hizou, Where We Met and many more besides. With a sound indebted to the early wave of UK techno artists like B12, the electro experimentation of Silicon Scally as well as Detroit forefathers such as Drexciya and Model 500, it's not hard to see why Reedale Rise makes perfect sense on Ornate. Technically astounding and emotionally charged, across all three tracks ORN027 marries shimmering, hi-def synth lines with crisp rhythms spanning 2-step shuffle, broken beats and understated techno propulsion.
Review: With a slew of inter-threaded releases to her name since 2012 Brazlian DJ and producer Anna has slowly ascended through the ranks of techno by the way of releases for Novamute and Kompakt Extra. This has come by the way of labels like Twin Turbo and Terminal M with her arrival at Drumcode coming with three deep and driving techno tracks designed for warehouse play. Full throttle Detroit acid rears its head at large in "Dimension" while "Phase Two" sends in a deeper sail of luminous scandic trance and linear Italian techno. The title track merges both previous styles substituting acid lines for percussive bass stabs, with the added touch of rave atmospheres and arpeggios. Missiles.
Review: Berlin wunderkind power trio Fjaak are back with the fifth installment on their eponymous imprint - strap yourself in for a wild ride on this one!. Features the furious and pummelling warehouse techno assault of "Phonox" reminiscent of '90s legends Devilfish, followed by the soulful hard jack of the 50 Weapons indebted "Midnight Take Out" (they are alumni of the label after all) and the industrial/dub techno experimental piece "They Can't Smell Us" - but unless they are hiding under a bar of soap we certainly can - this one's dirty!
Review: Following his release on DJ Koze's Pampa label earlier this year, Robag Wruhme delivers a hypnotic dance floor EP for Kompakt. The title track revolves around a resonating bass, ticking steely percussion and a rolling groove. It's more ominous-sounding than Wruhme's usual style and has echoes of early 90s UK techno. While "Blymon" is also an effective, driving affair, its is more in keeping with Wruhme's stripped back minimal releases and this approach is audible in the pitch-bent drops and skeletal percussive loops. "Cassave" is the most abstract of all cuts, with a cacophony of tonal blips and murky stabs driving the arrangement.
Review: It's always good to see the Ancient Astronauts team land a new release in the store and this latest offering from Lone is just what the doctor ordered. It provides an in-depth exploration into bass music as a whole, kicking off with the euphoric chord expansions and glittering arpeggiators that constantly evolve within the realms of 'Glyphic'. Next, the title track 'Not Seeing Is A Flower' arrives with a more hard-edged dancefloor readiness, doused in techno basses and colourful atmospheric sweeps, before we finish up on the more hip-hop inspired rhythms and crunchy harmonic delvings of 'Boketto'.
Review: Lobster Theremin boss Jimmy Asquith follows Touch The Sky with this 90s-referencing release. First up is the 'Rave Mix' of the title track; underpinned by high-octane, rolling breaks and featuring chilling synth stabs and sped-up vocal samples, it mines the heritage of early 90s hardcore, coupled with a modern execution. "Terror Barrier" on the other hand suggests that Asquith was also a fan of the tougher end of techno from the same decade, as he deploys a buzzing analogue bass and mangled percussion to beat a path towards peak-time abandon. Changing tact again, Asquith goes down a somewhat deeper route for "Higher Power", where haunting chord stabs are propelled onto the dance floor courtesy of a pumping rhythm
Review: It certainly piques anyone's interest when British techno legend James Ruskin releases new material. With an immaculately curated output over the last 20 years, this new addition to an extensive catalogue of works - on established institution Tresor no less - is testament to such. The Siklikal EP demonstrates four careful executions in pure form techno by a true veteran who knows what works on the dancefloor. From the broken body bashing industrial menace of "Nepte", to the hypnotic tunnel vision of "Kn Te 3" and the seething downbeat EBM mutation of "Kn Am 3" - what a way for Tresor to celebrate 25 years in the business with this fine release.
Review: After starting his career like a whirling dervish, Hot Since 82 man Daley Padley has slowed down considerably in recent times. In fact, this expansive, eight-track collection of cuts is his most significant release for over two years. Padley hits the ground running with deep and picturesque tech-house shuffler "Vapours", before reaching for the wonky synth bass, Balearic house pianos and ricocheting percussion hits on "Tilted". A trio of typically tidy vocal cuts (including Jem Cooke-voiced former singles "Buggin" and "You Are The Light) follows before Padley unleashes the celebratory, sample-heavy peak-time madness of "Bloodlines". Cooke returns to speak seductively over some late night grooves on "Street Lights", while closing cut "Remains of the Day" is a near symphonic deep house rush.
Review: Few if any contemporary producers do heads-down techno better than Truncate, as his latest EP for Blueprint demonstrates. What really sets the LA producer apart is his ability to tease out new sounds and nuances while still maintaining maximum impact. For example, "The Bell" is a rolling, rhythm-heavy affair that resounds to ticking percussion and pounding drums, but also drops into atmospheric reveries. Similarly, on "Initials", Truncate visits Miill-style minimalism, but adds his own touch with some deft, detuned sounds, while "Timbre" sees him deliver a rolling percussive affair that builds and drops subtly thanks to some wild tonal progressions
Review: Strangers is the first collaboration between Mall Grab and Skin On Skin, and it sees them deliver a fine, distinctive dance floor release. On the title track, searing bass is combined with driving percussion and melancholic piano lines for a pensive but effective techno track. In contrast, Mall Grab's solo effort, "?" is a pummelling hard techno banger, replete with spooky Halloween samples and a slightly daft ragga vocal sample. Skin On Skin's remix features rolling break beats and tripped out blips, while his own charmingly titled "Got Me Fucked Up" is a slinky electro workout replete with ghetto samples. Mall Grab repays the favour by turning "Fucked Up" into a grainy banger, powered by hollowed out drums.
Review: The Glue EP by Irish power duo features two new tracks embodying the same dramatic and evocative vibes from their recent, highly acclaimed self titled album. The title track here unashamedly explores rave nostalgia, with its tough breakbeats, euphoric chord progressions and gated vocal samples taking you all the way back to '92. "Metro" uses phased acid house style drum patterns with roaring rave synth leads on this slow burning but heavily building dancefloor destroyer. Finally "DLR" soundtracks those divine moments of truth loved up in the chill-out tent, with this emotive ambient house cut with a nice tint of 303 acid for good measure that's reminiscent of classics by Orbital et al.
Review: In the 22 years that have passed since he made his debut, Deetron has released music on an eye-watering number of high quality labels. It's somewhat surprising, then, to find that this is the Swiss producer's first outing on Running Back. It is, of course, very good, with snappy opener "Body Electric" - an ear-catching fusion of crunchy house drums, jazz guitar loops, toasty disco bass, sweet synth lines and rushing piano riffs - leading the way. "T-Symmetry" sees Deetron add bustling breakbeat blasts and more bold piano motifs to a surging future Balearic techno anthem, while "Txt" is a melodious chunk of spacey techno hypnotism rich in rising and falling synth lines and swirling chords. Those glassy-eyed synth lines and alien electronics can be admired further on the accompanying "Beatless Mix".
Review: Mark Broom is primarily known for his techno work, but over the years he has also worked on funk and broken beat projects. The title track on this release for Rekids also marks another artistic departure, with the UK producer delivering a vocal-led, disco house groove. There's a similar dynamic at play on "Heart", where Broom drops a slightly tougher but still very soulful workout. Things get progressively tougher as the EP progresses and "Efb" sees him add surging chords and heavy kicks as the remnants of a vocal sample lingers in the background. Finally, "G Theme" sees Broom up the pace for a tough but soulful techno workout - replete with diva vocals.
Review: Plantae is Luke Slater's seventh artist album as Planetary Assault Systems and his fourth for Ostgut. If you're looking for forward-looking club techno, you've come to the right place. The album opens with the indistinct tones of "Red", before "Whip it Good" takes up the mantle and sees Slater deliver a tougher take on this sound, powered by hissing percussion and tough kicks. Meanwhile "Kamani" is a deeper, more understated take on this style. "Spell A" is a more stripped back affair, resounding to tight percussion and a rolling groove, while "Mugwort" calls to mind Slater's 90s work under this guise, with a hypnotic rhythm underscoring a cacophony of atmospheric sounds.
Review: Drunken Kong and Teenage Mutants team up for this fine release on Christian Smith's label. "Mainz" is a highly distinctive affair; boasting synth melodies that sit somewhere between new beat/ebm and trance, the arrangement's rhythm is grinding and intense, while the collaborators also deliver tough kicks. Add in a foreboding vocal sample and it makes for an unforgettable track. "Tokyo" is based on a similar approach, but is slightly more pared back in the rhythm section, which puts a greater focus on the tranced out melodies. Heerhorst, who recently featured on Tronic, delivers a remix of "Mainz", turning it into a tougher, leaner affair that is destined for peak time use.
Review: Recent Kompakt signing Anna Miranda teams up with Miss Kittin for this frenetic, visceral ode to raving. In its original format, "Forever Ravers" resounds to a grinding bass, peak-time rhythm and Kittin's own unmistakable vocals about being eternal ravers. On the flip side, there's a fine reshape from Anna; the 'Raving In Space' remix sees her deliver a peak time arrangement, this time with wave upon wave of cold bleeps building up to an unforgettable climax. It's great to see Miss Kittin back releasing music, and Speicher 112 also provides the platform to showcase the production skills of her Brazilian collaborator.
Review: Following Eps for 20:20 Vision and Freerange, Whitesquare aka Maurice Uzzan makes his debut for Life And Death. This release draws on a number of sources for inspiration; on the title track, the bass is influenced by early 90s house, while the acid line is redolent of Josh Wink at his finest. The dreamy vocal samples and break beats on "Not Moving" could have come from a San Fran free party, while "Jasmine" is more grounded. Led by an earthy acid line and a stepping rhythm, it's one of the more functional tracks on this release - until DJ Tennis gets his hands on it and turns it into a rumbling, 303-led roller.
Review: Since its inception in 2015, Jeremy Olander's label and event series, Vivrant, has become a home to new and established artists such as Khen, Finnebassen, Henry Saiz and more - all presenting their unique take on melodic house and techno. Now it is releasing its first ever mix album for Melbourne's Balance Music - and also happens to be the first in Olander's career thus far. With this long overdue project, he is bringing two discs of exclusive music from himself (under his darker techno alias Dhillon), and friends such as La Fleur, Ejeca, Locked Groove, Marino Canal and Tim Engelhardt, in addition to newcomers like A Friend Of Marcus and Carl Dern. Olander stated that the mix 'encompasses what the label sounds like in 2019 and beyond.. a true manifestation of our style, and what it's grown to become in the four years since we started.'
Review: Mike Dehnert makes a departure from his usual cavernous dub techno sound on Wexit . "Given Take" is a stripped back, slinky affair, featuring spliced up vocal samples and rickety rhythms, while on "Greenrock", it sounds like the arrangement is submerged in waves of white noise as Dehnert delivers a clanging, metallic groove. On " Kraft", the approach is quite different, as he drops a driving, percussive groove that's led by firing high hats and a squelchy backing track. Meanwhile, "Trible City" has echoes of 90s loop techno as a layered, rolling arrangement is powered by powerful, panning filters. It's a fine release by a producer who is at the top of his game.