Laurent Garnier has had an immeasurably profound and positive impact on underground electronic music. He has been there since year zero and has always championed great artists. Garnier's own output may have slowed in recent years - thankfully, 33 Tours does much to redress this imbalance. It's his most dance floor friendly album, and this approach is clear from the outset with the brooding, heavy chords of "Tales From The Real World" and "Liebe Grusse Aus Cucuron". Garnier's love of Detroit music is audible on the atmospheric "On The Record (3)"and "Cinq O'Clock Le Matin" - which are exactly the type of moody, musical grooves you'd expect him to play out. However, this album impresses precisely because he doesn't remain rooted in one sound. "Saturn Drive Duplex" has a post-punk edge thanks to Suicide frontman Alan Vega's slurred vocals. On a different tact but just as memorable, "Sake Stars Forever" is a classic slice of Garnier-esque big room techno thanks to its humming bass. It all come s together to make for a career tour de force.
Hypercolour reaches its one hundredth release. To celebrate this milestone, Jamie Russell and Alex Jones' label enlists the services of KiNK. The title track is a high-paced banger, featuring a dramatic vocal loop and rousing rave synth lines. It sounds like KiNK has distilled the energy of early 90s dance music into "People". "Ta" isn't as dramatic, but still hits hard, thanks to the interplay between a rough bass and airy melodies. In contrast, "Kazan" sees the storied artist go down a more considered route, with glitchy percussion melded with a dubby groove. Rounding off this 100th release is another dance floor banger, in the form of the heavy stabs and dense kicks of "Vacation"
Released to coincide with the sixth anniversary of his passing, Back is the final album from Trevino aka Marcus Intalex. It documents his love of house and techno, as well as his ability to carve out unique perspectives on these sounds. While those views are influenced by Marcus' drum'n'bass background - check the crisp break beats of "Pitch Dark" - a love of dubby textures is audible on the hypnotic swing of "No Response". "Eve" sees Trevino swing towards raw, reduced techno while "Gateway" sounds like his take on the percussive rhythms of Octave One. Sadly but fittingly, the closing track is called "The End". But rather than just evoke grief, its melancholic melodies bring the curtain down on the life and music of a remarkably talented artist.
Mark Broom has been making and playing techno for 30 years, but he retains an unerring ability to always hit the target. The fourth volume of Mutated Battle Breaks is no exception to this rule, and over the course of eight tracks he drops a variety of crafty club tracks. There's the wiry, angular minimalism of "Tube", where Broom sounds inspired by vintage Rob Hood. In contrast, "Whisper" is a chord-heavy roller that is aligned with late 90s loop techno, while changing tact again, the explanatory "909 Workout" is a furious, pared back rhythm track. The common theme throughout is Broom's talent for making highly effective club techno.
Robert Hood, the renowned techno producer, is set to reissue one of his most influential albums to mark its 30th anniversary. Originally released in 1993 under his alias, The Vision, "Waveform Transmission Vol. 2" encapsulates the raw techno sound that has come to define Hood's music. The album was created just as Hood was leaving his hometown of Detroit and moving to New York with Jeff Mills, his cofounder of the Underground Resistance label. Tresor, the German record label, has delved deep into its archives to bring a fresh release of this classic album to fans. With funky techno drum foundations and mind-bending details, "Waveform Transmission Vol. 2" set the bar high and has aged incredibly well. All hail Robert Hood!
British electronica legends The Hartnoll Brothers aka Orbital returned this year with their latest long-player titled Optical Delusion, featuring special guest vocalists such as Penelope Isles of The Golden Filter, The Medieval Babes and The Little Pest. The last single from the opus is "Oxygene" (Are You Alive ?) featuring Clou, a glassy-eyed and bittersweet IDM journey that features all the hallmarks of this legendary duo's idiosyncratic sound.
About Techno: From it's origins in Detroit during the late '80s courtesy of pioneers Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, the sound of techno rapidly made its way to New York where they soon heard Joey Beltram's anthemic 'Energy Flash' under the strobelights. By the time the Motor City's second wave had arisen, there were the politically charged themes of the seminal Underground Resistance collective, while in neighboring Windsor (Canada), Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva's Plus 8 Recordings similarly harnessed the sound's powerful energy - taking it to new heights with their industrial influences. Meanwhile, Carl Craig's idiosyncratic style expanded on the genre's futurist themes to create some modern masterpieces in 'dancefloor drama' with his Planet E label, and by the mid '90s techno had become a true underground movement sweeping through much of the Midwest - with legends such as Freddy Fresh, Woody McBride and Dan Curtin leading the charge.
By the time techno had crossed the Atlantic, it had spawned several movements across Europe, all giving their distinct take on the sound. In Germany, a true subculture was forming in legendary clubs such as Tresor (and its affiliated label) and E-Werk as well as in Frankfurt at The Omen or Dorian Gray. Over in The Netherlands, Orlando Voorn was one of the first Dutch musicians to establish a vital connection between Detroit and Amsterdam, alongside Steve Rachmad, Speedy J and local heroine Miss Djax. Also of importance was Belgium, particularly Ghent, where the respected R&S Records had formed - introducing the world to the 'rave' sounds of C.J. Bolland and Mundo Muzique. By this time, the jackhammer staccato rhythms of the 909 drum machine had become a trademark, accompanied by mentalist synth sequences - from most notably the TB-303 (among others) - all geared to create a 'Higher State Of Consciousness' on the dancefloor.