Reviewed this week
Matrixxman's third instalment in the Sector series for Dekmantel sees him deliver a fine, diverse techno release. On "Initiation", he drops a rolling, mysterious groove, led by a heavy bass and a ghostly synth line. "Access Granted" is in a radically different vein, with the US producer taking inspiration from Robert Hood to create a visceral minimal techno workout. In stark contrast again is "Desert Planet"; it sees Matrixxman dropping the tempo to conjure up a balmy deep house groove. Rounding off this release is "Horizon", where the US producer delves into Detroit techno to drop a warbling bass-led groove that has echoes of vintage Carl Craig and Stacey Pullen.
Helix returns to Night Slugs with his first release since 2013's "Club Constructions". Still as vital as ever, this is the first part of a trilogy of "Greatest Hits" collections. All new, all vibey; highlights include the deep-bleep radar techno stomps of "Tainted Love", the sheet metal soul of "Beat I Made In Miami", the soft-focus filtered ripples and staccato dynamic of "Fbm Flip" and the dizzying cavernousness of "DX Crowd". Great times lay ahead for Night Slugs, this sets us up very nicely for the label's 10th anniversary; Helix hits the spot.
For some years now Pinch has been solidifying himself as an innovator within the walls Bristol?s underground music scene. Here we see him back in action alongside the ever creative Swamp81 imprint with two absolute bombshells. To start, Walking With Shadows is a serious journey through electronic sound design, with rolling drum arrangements taking the lead amidst a shower of well-crafted distortion and atmospheric wonder. On the flip we delve into a more percussive angle as AHH FFF SSS combines techy elements a UK funky themes together for a box of rhythmic bliss.
Following on from last year's remixes from Len Faki of Matt Edwards' 2008 Grindhouse come two new versions. First up are veterans Slam, who turn the track into a bleak-sounding but funky workout, the dense drums underpinning menacing bass tones, eerie vocal undercurrents and the sound of riotous war horns. The Scottish duo is always a hard act to follow, but on this occasion, Obscure Shape & SHDW acquit themselves admirably. For their remix, the German production pair up the tempo, lay down steely, urgent drums and a juggernaut rhythm that is sure to see "Grindhouse" careering into a techno club near you shortly.
Last spotted on Dynamic Reflection back in 2015, Troy de Lugt now brings his production skills to Ben Klock's label. Klockworks 21 is a purist techno affair. It starts with the searing, surging tones of "Algol", which sounds like vintage Mills mixed with Synewave, before de Lugt brings the listener down a more stripped back route with "Arlamis". Based on a visceral, linear rhythm, it is reminiscent of the Lost / Cosmic catalogue at its most reduced. On "Redshift", the fast-rising producer drops a booming rhythm track led by urgent organ riffs, while the release ends on a more reflective note with the spooky minimal house of "Ceres". It's another smart signing by Ben Klock's label.
The third set of remixes of tracks from Ellen Allien's Nost album feature an in impressive cast; first up is Detroit legend Alan Oldham. Known for his releases as DJ T-1000 and his iconic art for labels like Djax, this Motor City legend doesn't disappoint with his take on "Jack My Ass". Insistent, menacing chords swarm in over tough, dubby beats and driving percussion. It's not as intense as his DJ T-1000 work, but still packs a mighty punch. The Amotik take on "Mind Journey" ups the ante further with a slamming rhythm and wild tonal bleeps. In contrast, Eomac?s take on the same track is an eerie, slow motion affair, led by ghostly synths and rumbling drums, while on XDB's version of "Call Me", rolling house drums underpin sensuous vocals and spiralling acid lines.
While Berlin's Answer Code Request certainly comes from a techno mentality, the producer has shifted his focus to what Shed, and the rest of his compatriots, have eventually gravitated towards. This new LP for the capital's Ostgut Ton label, is more bass than tech, and we think that this is extremely well-suited to the man's loose, freeform take on German dance music. In fact, this is more UK than anything, with the majority of these tunes breaking the all-too-predictable 4/4 trance for something much more in line with the likes of Hessle Audio or Night Slugs. However, this is very much an Answer Code Request flex, with what undertones of German industrialism seeping their way through the percussion and structure of the grooves. What a corker - recommended!
Aside from hosting a pretty spectacular line-up each and every June in the Amsterdam area, Dekmantel also know how to lay down some hard dance tunes and, since their inception, they have been a pillar to the modern house and techno spectrum. This series of releases marks ten years of activity from the Dutch crew, and they certainly know how to celebrate in style - Bufiman's opening "Hymn To The Moonface" is a stunning slice of progressive sci-fi rolling, Betonkust and Palbomen II's number is sleek and tech-minded, while Scotland's Space Dimension Controller rolls through with some spectacularly cinematic electro-tech, and Lena Willikens' appearance is marked by raucous bass tones and sharp-edged beats. BIG.
Despite the seemingly morbid artist name, there's little here to feel down about. Dying & Barakat are an Argentinean pair who have released before on Knotweed, and this follow up is even more impressive. Full of layered melodies and breathy textures, this is house and techno music for a warm summer's night. "Odisea" sets the tone, with beautiful bells and evocative chimes unfolding over a rolling club groove. "Destino" is even deeper and more soulful as the duo conjures up a disco-influenced, bubbling affair that has echoes of Pepe Braddock. The title track sees them navigate a slightly darker path, with a niggling acid line and thunder claps underpinning the warm filters, but overall, this is a wonderfully musical affair as the reflective electro sounds of "Unica Perspectiva" demonstrate.
HVL has landed on many different labels in recent years, but Rough House Rosie will always be something of a spiritual home for the adventurous deep electro and techno craftsman. Across the Hidden Valley EP he displays a fluid, instinctive approach to composition - "Enslaver" rolls out like a live jam but the detail and control embedded in the track is astounding. "Distom Spook" is charged with nervous acidic energy, while "Lemon Stealer" takes things in a more experimental direction with all manner of snaking synth voices wriggling around a crisp electro beat. "Crow Hill" finishes the EP off with a slow, rolling breakbeat groove and hazy pads for a quintessential wind-down session.
Curle has had a long association with Efdemin; back in 2008, it released the German DJ's mix CD, Carry On - Pretend We Are Not In The Room, a benchmark mix for deep house and techno lovers. Fast forward a decade and the Belgian label is now releasing remixes of Efdemin's best material. First up is Terrence Dixon's take on "America" (which featured on the Carry On mix CD). Billed as a 'Minimal Detroit' mix, it's a slow-paced, head-nodding affair that features the vocal buried deep in the mix. Efdemin's best-known production, "Acid Bells" also gets the remix treatment. While the original was a blissful, tripped out affair, this take by DJ Koze is all grinding percussion and noisy drums.
Joan-Mael Péneau aka Maelstrom is best known for his releases on Hacker's Zone imprint, but it was only a matter of time before his work appeared on CPU. This mini-album veers in style from the melodic, reflective title track to the frenetic, dense drums and high pitched bleeps of "Letter From M". On "Lost Echoes", he recruits the like-minded Djedjotronic for a slowed down ride through contemporary electro, while on "Vznietit", the French producer combines layers of heavy acid with a pumping, dark bass. With a nod to CPU's own love of the bleep techno and Autechre electronics from its Sheffield hometown, Maelstrom rounds off this impressive EP with "Dialectics" and "Praxis" respectively.
This is the second volume of remixes of C Cat Trance material. The 80s band's music was previously reworked by JD Twitch and Die Orangen, and this EP is just as impressive. Israeli duo Red Axes deliver a rumbling, tribal take on "Shake the Mind", while on his version of "Take Me To The Beach", UK DJ Jamie Paton lays down a sprawling, messy workout. Prins Thomas soon picks up the groove again though, and the Norwegian's version of "Sudaniyya" is a subtle disco affair, led by clipped drums and gamelan percussion. Finally, on their taken on "Simple Helen", Romanian pair Khidja drop a terse, dub-fuelled piece of mood music.
Troy Gunner marks a new step in an ascendant career with the introduction of his very own imprint. Simply titled GUNNER, this project will be predominantly vinyl-focused and will act as a platform for his own productions as well selected peers. Beginning with the stripped-down factory floor stomp of "Stay Where You Are" this is the kind of dub techno redolent of the Fachwerk label, his sound then travels via Bristol with the broken and bass heavy sludge of "Echolalia". Finally "Esperanza" closes out this impressive EP on an abstract tip, with its slack and splintered beats with textural sound design working together to create a haunting and disorienting feel.
Released on vinyl back in 2015, Omena now make this great record available digitally. While Hellberg is known for techno releases on labels like Animal Farm, Fiction sees him mine a deeper path. On the title track, high-pitched melodic riffs and ghostly synths unravel over a rolling rhythm. It's hypnotic and musical, but also very dance floor friendly. The label has tapped Bleak for two remixes. The Delsin artist's "Original" remix dispenses with the melodies and puts a focus instead on a moody bass and insistent, rasping percussion. The second interpretation, the "Ocean" version, sees him veer further into deeper mode with trippy synth lines building over a pulsating, moody bass.
The Black offshoot from the Mary Go Wild collective is dedicated to 'dark, hypnotic techno'. It has already put out two killer EPs by Charlotte de Witte, and now welcomes Jeff Rushin. The title track certainly lives up to the sub-label's aesthetic, and sees the Amsterdam-based artist delivering a dark, swirling groove, its mesmerising filters underpinned by crisp drums and snare rolls. On "Ordinary People", Rushin opts for a different approach; jarring broken beats and chain-mail percussion unfold mechanically, with powerful filters causing maximum damage. By contrast, "New Era" is deeper and audibly influenced by dub techno, as evocative chords swirl in over tight claps and drums. Completing the label's latest excursion into the techno's depths is Andre Kronett's submerged take on "Era".
Bart Skills has enjoyed a long-running relationship with Drumcode and Bells is his sixth EP on the label. While the Dutch producer is well-known for his heads-down, drum-heavy tools, the title track resounds to hypnotic bells and spine-tingling acid builds, coming across as a slightly more club-friendly take on Efdemin's sound. Of course, fans of Skils' linear productions - which includes label boss Adam Beyer - won't be disappointed with this release; the soaring bass and driving rhythm of "Ocean Drive", as well as the doubled up drums and infectious vocal samples from Rozalla's 'Everybody's Free? are effective but highly distinctive big room tracks.
Max Durante has been releasing music for 30 years, but this is his debut album. Was The Experiment worth the wait? Based on this eight-track adventure, it certainly sounds like it. Needless to say though, experimentation remains at the heart of Durante's work. While "EX-PO1" starts the release with a sound that captures the middle ground between ambient drones and ponderous techno,"EX-PO2", dispenses with kicks all together and sees Durante disappear into abstract territories again. This approach is also audible on the subtle chimes and percussion of "EX-PO4". While both "EX-PO3" and "EX-PO5" which both include one of Durante's closest colleagues, Fabrizio Darcangelo, slides back towards stepping techno the mood throughout this release remains a deeply experimental affair.
Apparently, Nathan Fake's new EP was recorded live and on the title track, you can certainly hear this approach. While it's underpinned by hammering, steely drums and rasping percussion, the tapestry of dusky textures is occasionally interrupted by wild electronic squiggles or an odd, detuned note. There is a similar approach on "Arcaibh". While the rhythm is more swung and the tempo less frenetic, it also plays host to waves of layered electronic crack and fizzle. More reflective and brooding than his early work, a similar aesthetic remains at the heart of Sunder, and nowhere is this more audible than on the masterfully moody techno opus that is "Serotonin Drops".
Is Domenic Capello as good an A&R as he is a DJ? It might sound like a strange question, but over the past year, his Seventh Sign label has released two of the finest techno records in years. First there was Mihail P's epic Sleeper, followed now by Bud Burroughs debut EP. Hailing from Scotland, it is tempting to posit that newcomer Burroughs was schooled in electronic music at Capello's Sub Club residency in Glasgow. Accordingly, "With Awe, My Heart" is a timeless piece of Detroit-inspired techno, its bouncy groove and warm, seductive bass providing the basis for reverberating claps and dreamy pad and synth climaxes. "Julip" is a wonderful, widescreen electro workout, while on "On Yr Own", Burroughs picks up the pace again with a Ron Trent-style, string-soaked deep house workout.
Exclusives
VARIOUS - 15 Years Of The Bunker (The Bunker New York)
MAN POWER - Apologue EP (DGTL)
HEADLESS HORSEMAN - 47014 (47 Germany)
Exclusives
HVL - Hidden Valley EP (Rough House Rosie) - exclusive 27-02-2018
TROY - Klockworks 21 (Klockworks Germany)
YOTAM AVNI - Perlude To Dybbuk (Stroboscopic Artefacts Germany)
Top Labels
Music Man Belgium
Ostgut Ton Germany
Stroboscopic Artefacts Germany
Planet E US
Sonic Groove