Review: Veteran producer S-File returns to his own GND label for this killer techno collection. Alternating between a wide range of sounds and styles, it showcases S-File's deep knowledge of the modern techno form. I Am gets off to a jacking start on the rough, analogue "Straight Ahead", before the release heads down a deeper, dubbed out route on the title track and the layered techno of "Part of Me". "Better Life" sees S-File up the pace and draw on the legacy of loop techno for a dense, peak-time arrangement, while in contrast "Accent" sees him drop a bugged out acid track, followed by the emotive electro of "Polemic".
Review: It's been a while since Roman Flugel last delivered an album, and that was the all-ambient Themes I-XIII in 2018. Eating Darkness, the German veteran's fifth solo full-length, is therefore well overdue. It's a quietly confident and undeniably entertaining affair, with the former Alter Ego man smartly sashaying between evocative IDM ('Magic Briefcase', 'The Best is Yet To Come', the Autechre-ish 'Eating Darkness'), druggy slo-mo fare ('Chemicals'), raw new wave throb-jobs ('Wow'), acid-flecked jack-tracks ('Jocks & Freaks'), hypnotic late night minimal techno ('Cluttered Homes'), drowsy downtempo cheeriness ('Locked'), beautiful ambient synth-scapes ('Charles') and revivalist Euro-disco pump ('D.I.S.C.O'). Throughout, Flugel reaches for vintage analogue and modular synthesizer sounds, giving the album a distinctively timeless feel.
Review: Bedrock takes one step back and three steps forward with this great remix package. Originally released back in 2013, the Japanese Popstars' collaboration with Green Velvet gets first reworked by Coyu. Underpinning Cajmere's vocals with tough drums and a pumping rhythm, the Suara boss delivers a big room re-rub. OC & Verde have done two versions - the pair's remix is an acid-soaked affair with the vocal sample on repeat, while their dub take strips out the vocal and puts a focus on the fusion of acid and eerie synths. The final remix comes from the The Japanese Popstars themselves, with a ravey take on the original.
Review: Lubin follows his 2015 debut album, Revisions Of You, with this expansive second long player on Modularz. It begins in haunting mode with the eerie textures of " Vessel", but soon afterwards, Lubin shifts into heads-down mode with the dense kicks of "Keeper Of Visions" and " Xenon", while on "Probe" he delivers a claustrophobic, bleep-heavy banger. The title track sees the US producer take a few steps back to deliver an angular, percussive workout, while "Synthetics Processing" resounds to sheet metal percussion and robust kicks. While tailored exclusively for the dance floor, this collection also caters for deeper tastes and the hypnotic grooves of "EMP" and "ESP" showcase Lubin's ability to craft more atmospheric techno.
Review: It's been a whirlwind 12 months for DJ Seinfeld, who has gone from "unknown entity" to hyped producer in what seems like the blink of an eye. There's little doubt that this debut album on Lobster Fury will simply enhance his credentials further. It's a typically dusty and lo-fi affair, but far more positive in tone than your average crackly techno full-length. The Swedish producer makes extensive use of rubbery synth basslines, hazy R&B and pop vocal samples and the kind of production tricks more frequently found on disco-house and old US garage records (while, naturally, rarely sounding exactly like either style). In other words, the album is full of attractive, floor-friendly party techno for those who like their cuts fun and funky, rather than stern and severe.
Review: Prins Thomas follows last year's Ambitions long player with a somewhat different proposition. Inspired by early 90s trance and wrapping this influence around a variety of tempos and grooves, Traens is an interesting departure. The foreboding bass of "Traens 2" and "Traens 3" are sure to appeal to those who want a big room take on sounds of a bygone era, while the pumping, acid-soaked "Traens 6" is a pure, old school track. This only tells half the story however, and on "Traens 4", Thomas draws on his love of sleek disco grooves to create a spaced out, cosmic affair. There are also traces of Balearic flair, and the deep, sensuous house of "Traens 5" shows that while Prins Thomas is caught in a trance moment, he remains rooted in disco.
Review: Over the last 14 years, UK techno-funk stalwart Colin McBean has released a vast amount of music under his Mr G alias, for a wide variety of labels; according to Discogs, he's dropped an astonishing 70 12" singles in that time. This two-disc collection of his favourite moments, simply titled Retrospective, is arguably much needed. For the newcomers it offers a neat summary of his particular brand of no-nonsense, sample-heavy techno, where cut-up jazz, disco and soul loops ride thunderous techno rhythms and robust, late night grooves. For the diehards, there's a smattering of new cuts, while occasional fans should revel in the opportunity to savour some of his most hard-to-get jams.
Review: Kompakt staple Rune Reilly Kolsch is charting new terrain on his fourth long player for the imprint titled 'Now Here No Where'. The Danish producer presents an album about life in the year 2020: 'a time defined by confusion, misinformation and environmental challenges.. [in addition to] emotional interpretation of personal and mental challenges, observations and personal growth... (but) most of all, it is an album about hope.' Featuring various mood and grooves to accentuate the album's theme and narrative: from the rolling dancefloor drama of "Shoulder Of Giants", his sonic trademark of razor sharp synth textures as heard on "Sleeper Must Awaken" and the glassy-eyed and bittersweet vocal anthem "Time" through to the slinky and hypnotic futurism of "Romtech User Manual" - Kolsch turns in yet another awe-inspiring opus with this one.
Review: Living Dead is John Tejada's fourth album on Kompakt and was written and produced during lockdown. The title is a reference to the strange circumstances that we have all lived under this past year, but despite this the tone isn't overly introspective. In fact, while there are melancholic elements - including glitchy tracks like "Eidolon" and "The Haunting of Earth" - the overall mood is uplifting. "Echoes of Life" sees the veteran producer deliver a haunting deep techno groove, while "Abbot of Burton" is a wonderfully frazzled minimal groove. Meanwhile, "Panacea" is a typical Tejada affair, with stripped back rhythms and sub-bass supporting charming melodic sequences.
Review: While albums have never been the focus of most techno producers' careers, it's still surprising to find that Satellite is Sam Paganini's first full length. Given that veteran Italian producer released his first 12" back in 1994, it's been a long time coming. Happily, Paganini has decided to stick to what he does best, filling Satellite with the kind of throbbing, floor-friendly tackle with which he's becoming accustomed. Of course, there's plenty of variety within that, from the rave-inclined pump of the Dubfire-ish "Down" and smooth, deep house-influenced sweetness of "Silver Panorama", to the cacophonous jazz fills and thunderouds bottom end of "Lotus" and deliciously melodious "Sunflower".
Review: Biomorph is the debut album from Enrico Sangiuliano, an artist who has previously featured on Adam Beyer's label. As the industrial drones of "Functional Basic Unit of Life" and the rugged electro on "Generative Model" and "Arboreal" all demonstrate, he has mapped out a route that stops off at many diversions. However, at his heart, the Italian producer remains a dance floor techno lover - and he expresses this passion most eloquently on Biomorph with the epic, trance-influenced "Cosmic Ratio" and "Hidden T" as well as "Multicellular", a storming big-room affair that is led by a tearing, system-levelling bass.
Review: It's no surprise that the world's most feted techno club has decided to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary with something special - a release that seeks to redefine the art of the DJ mix. In fact, Luke Slater has christened his approach on Berghain Funfzehn 'ripping the cut': it saw the storied UK techno artist scour all of sister label Ostgut Ton's Eps and LPs for source material in order to fashion 26 new tracks and then to mix them all together. The end result is a wild ride through the very best in contemporary club techno, with elements from well-known Ostgut releases from Ben Klock, Levon Vincent and Marcel Dettmann featuring alongside lesser-known gems from Lerosa and Rolando.
Review: Damian Lazarus celebrates the 10th anniversary of his acclaimed 2009 debut album 'Smoke The Monster Out' with a remastered and expanded edition on his famed Crosstown Rebels label. He originally released the opus on the Berlin-based label Get Physical, and it was the first time he had let himself loose in the studio - resulting in a psychedelic collection of 'extremely strange and bizarre songs.' Packed full of his inspirations and influences, and with no consideration for genres, airtime or getting played in the clubs. Lazarus is proud to celebrate this milestone in his career - going on to admit that that the album 'is still as weird as it ever was.' Be sure to check out the Moment In The Dark EP as well, featuring two of the album's original tracks, "Moment "and "Diamond In The Dark" reworked and remixed by Keinemusik resident Adam Port, rising newcomer Tibi Dabo and Dutch talent Satori.
Review: Following up the terrific 'Little We Know' EP a mere few weeks ago by Hamburg heroes Extrawelt on Traum Schallplatten, they are right back with this amazing full length on the powerhouse Cocoon imprint.15 years into their careers, it was never their plan to release a 'best of' album, but here it is. 'Extra Welt Hits' is a time capsule drenched in the essence of the act's DNA. Accentuated by newly remastered tracks that serve their ever evolving, clever and out-of-the-box sound. Highlights come in the form of the brooding minimal funk of "Fernweh", the ethereal and introspective remix of Minilogue's "The Leopard" and the slinky and hypnotic live version of "Dark Side Of The Room".
Review: Confusingly, X-Tront Volume 2 from 1993 was Slater's debut album and followed the X-Tront single from the previous year. Despite being 21 years old, it remains a landmark release for a number of reasons. Firstly, it pushes the notion of hard techno to the limits on tracks like the 155bpm nosebleed of "Splitting Atoms" and the (relatively) more sedate 141 bpm rock-hard kicks and furious claps of "Colonial Space Unexplored". More importantly however, it paved the way for techno producers to deliver a range of sounds across an album format - although few have since been able to create music as inspirational as the deep, bleepy techno of "Taking Sides" and the pacey, bell-ringing electro of "Time 2 Time."
Review: Originally released during the early to mid 00s, Steve Rachmad's Scorp project was like a breath of fresh air for anyone suffocating under wave upon wave of dreary loop techno at the time. That's not to suggest that the tracks on this compilation are anything but DJ tools - and the steely minimalism and raw tonal repetition of "Atomitron" is reminiscent of Mills at his most uncompromising. However, they do possess a dynamism and energy that was almost alien to that period. Take a listen to the rattling snares and claps on "Energetix" or the relentless, pile-driving motion of "One Side" for confirmation that even when he's banging the box, Steve Rachmad is in a league of his own.
Review: D.Dan launches his latest EP in storming form; "Switchblade (Descendant Mix)", with its visceral kicks and wild filtered builds, sounds inspired by the more abrasive end of the Synewave catalogue. On the title track, he opts again for a heads-down approach, with ominous filtered chords underpinned by tough kicks, while on "Burnout", the pace picks up and the drums are more relentless as the Berlin-based producer's track hurtles its way towards Advent-style intensity. "Escape The Echo Chamber" is less pac-y and resounds to a rolling house groove and vocal snippets, but even here the underlying feeling is one of understated menace. Offering some solace for battered ears is the deep techno of "Take It Easy".
Review: Following on from the re-release of his debut album, The Electric Funk Machine as Planetary Assault Systems, Luke Slater releases the first new material under the project's name since 2017. As always, Straight Shooting is a mesmerising affair: "Beam Riders" kicks off the release with a pulsating, driving groove, while on "Born Anchors", the storied UK artist delivers a pile-driving rhythm that resounds to ticking, clicking percussion. "Humans Use Concrete" sees Slater revert to the 90s sound of Planetary Assault Systems, featuring a dense, looped arrangement, while "Engage Now" is a gargantuan roller that plays out against a backdrop of layered noise and insane frequency shifts.
Review: The ninth chapter of Bas Mooy's Mord imprint rack up another new artist from the streets, the mysterious UVB. Much like the rest of the label's output, this is finely tuned dance music floating along the fine lines between techno and bass. Opener "Supply" is a sort of Millsian Detroit jam with some seriously trippy melodies, which in itself is a sure reason to cop this EP, but the 909-driven chiller that is "Stop Motion" probably stands as the crowning jewel. Functional, nasty, ready for action.
Review: It's been a while since Clone last mined the undersea vaults of peerless Detroit electro/techno legends Drexciya. You'd expect the quality to dip a little on this fourth and final volume in the series, but Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller IV is every bit as essential as its predecessors. It's packed with far-sighted, next-level moments, from the bleak drum machine rhythms and gnarled electronics of "Hydro Cubes" and intense acid funk of "Aquatic Bata Particles", to the spine-tingling techno futurism of "Black Sea", the pure melodic joy of the rush-inducing "Sighting In The Abyss" and "Unknown Journey VII". A fitting finale to this excellent series from Clone.
Review: Brazilian duo Flow & Zeo present their latest LP titled Spacekraft, courtesy of Berlin's Katermukke. Taking in their extensive musical journey thus far, it's the inspiration for a new awakening; one that incorporates subliminal messages, specific frequencies and binaural mixing - making for an altogether immersive sonic journey. Highlights include: the saucer eyed sunrise deep house of "InfinityZ" with its classical influences, the jazzy and swing-fuelled tech house of "Terra" with its come hither vocal and razor sharp bassline, as well as the throbbing groove of "Saturn" which is perfect for transitioning into the peak time - an aesthetic similarly heard on the pounding and strobe-lit euphoria of "Uranus".
Review: Following on from two Eps on Livity last year, Forest Drive West drops his debut album. It captures the producer's unique fusion of techno, abstract sounds and jungle, and gets off to a frenetic start with the high-octane, percussive "Cut and Run". At the other end of the Forest Drive West spectrum is "Transmission", a deep, throbbing slice of techno and the mesmerising minimalism of "Circles". Apparitions also sees the UK artist flirt with sound scapes and abstract textures, typified by the dubbed out "Vertigo" and the moody sub-bass tones of "Phaze-Shift". Characterised throughout by Forest Drive West's distinctive sound design, it is one of 2018's finest long players.