Review: Hailing from different countries across Europe but united by label owner Renaat Vandepapeliere's love of percussive tracks, the contributors toVolume 5 deliver a fine dance floor compilation. It starts in introspective mode with the stepping rhythms of Tension's "Pure Black Skies" and Hala Bahma's "My: Emi", before moving into deep tripped out techno courtesy of Primal Code's brooding "Tridimensionale". On "Oracle", Optmst introduces a more accessible approach thanks to the use of dreamy vocal samples, while the human voice also makes an appearance on Hermetics "Escaping Samsara", with dreamy chants unravelling over an undulating tribal rhythm. It makes for a vivid climax to another volume of RV Trax.
Review: In aid of climate change and deforestation, Needs for a seventh time keeps its focus on the environment with all profits of this release donated to Cool Earth UK. Indeed this time the label calls upon the slamming grooves of Telephones in the atmospheric "Groundshaker / Lightbreaker " alongside some minimal space pong and 808s from Ciel. Lo-fi garage, amen breaks, cut up vocals and bassline grooves to boot in Elphino's "It's Hard To Say" with Al Wooton going all subterrain and urban dub on your ass with "Raphael". Keep it clean!
Review: Roger Semsroth aka Sleeparchive is one of the world's most singular techno artists, focused on creating looped, repetitive tracks that take influence from archetypal minimalists like the Sahko label. On Trust, his latest long player, Semsroth opts for a more visceral approach. The grated drums of "Needle" comes across like Rob Hood at his most intense, while on peak time rollers such as "Concrete" and "Dust", the Berlin producer reveals shades of Jeff Mills during his looped Purposemaker period. "Leave" sees Sleeparchive venture into deeper territories as snappy drums support a melodic progression, but it's only a temporary divergence and on "Fence", he's back to the raw, looped techno that defines most of Trust.
Review: Following from his recent Rave Memories release on Lobster Theremin, Rove Ranger returns to deliver a more visceral follow-up. "1998" starts off with a galloping groove, vivid chords and subtle vocal snippets. On the title track, he strips back any semblance of melody to lay down a pounding, jackhammer rhythm that is redolent of one the Advent's classic techno work. "In My Mind" ushers in a deeper sound, with sun kissed chords applied to a jacking groove, while he revisits the mid-90s for "Schaltkreis". It's a menacing, prowling banger that recalls the trance-techno intensity of vintage Thomas P Heckmann.
Review: Like its previous iterations, the ninth instalment in Drumcode's A-Sides compilation provides an invaluable overview of the big room techno sound. For this edition, that includes sounds as diverse as the tranced out, vocal-sampling "Fierceness" from Joyhauser to Dubfire's menacing, bass-heavy stepper, "Deadbug", and the pumping, exhilarating "Just Close Your Eyes" courtesy of Tronic boss Christian Smith. As these various strands attest, A-Sides is a broad church, but the end game is dance floor impact, and on Thomas Schumacher's "Intuit" and Reset Robot's searing "Grains", that goal is reached using bruising low end and heavy acid lines.
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: Djax-Re-Up is an invaluable slice of European techno history. Issued on Dekmantel as an accompaniment to the recent documentary about Djax-Up-Beats, it brings together music from the Dutch label's 90s catalogue. Featuring obscure artists like Ismistik - whose early 90s house track "Flow Chart" still sounds fresh - alongside respected producers like Glenn Underground, with the frenetic techno of "101 Dolmations" and "Real Space' and Felix Da Housecat's throbbing "Freakadelica", it serves as a reminder of the huge range of music that the label released. It also shines a light on the hugely fertile Dutch scene of the time, with Planet Gong's fragile ambience and Terrace's jacking techno-house "916 Buena Avenue (Influenza Mix)" also featuring.
Review: Vassiloudis, who is best known for his work on Bedrock, follows last year's Crossroads EP on Balance with this immersive affair. "Building Better Worlds" is an atmospheric but driving track that resounds to layered textures and chiming melodies. Meanwhile on "Supermodel", he drops the tempo to deliver dubbed out drums and a brooding bass that provides the basis for dreamy synth lines. "Tunnel Vision" sees Vassiloudis focus more on this downtempo approach, as slow-motion beats are fused with shiny melodies and robotic vocals. The Greek producer's journey into the home listening realm continues on "Manual", where cosmic keys and guitar licks are fused with a chugging groove.
Review: A mighty 19 years since we last heard a solo album from Regis on Downwards, Hidden In This Is The Light That You Miss sees Karl O'Connor return with a post-era defining sound. Stripped-back, heavy, and broken beat techno swinging with tribal percussion and industrial malice, it's tracks like "Cracked Earth", "Calling Down A Curse" and "The Sun Rose Pure" that should appeal most to hardened Downwards characters. Find slower, more malevolent numbers in "The Blind Departing", made harder still by the moans and gnarly bass in "I See Fire", collectively plotted through a album of loose narratives and beatless sound design in tracks like "Eros In Tangiers" and "Alone Of All Her Sex". Long live Regis!
Review: Soela is the artist name for Elina Shorokhova, whose work has previously featured on labels like Kompakt, Lost Palms and Detroit Underground. It's fitting that she has chosen Dial for her debut album. Like much of the output on the well-known Hamburg label, Genuine Silk is subtle, intricate and seductive. From the gentle piano lines of "Prologue" through the mournful, downbeat tones of "Inconsistency" and "Hold On" as well as the broken beats of "Lullaby", this is far more than a typical house long player. Of course, Soela is also adept at crafting slinky dance floor grooves as the irresistible "Shadows On The Wall" so effortlessly demonstrates.
Review: Token has traditionally maintained a tightly-knit roster, but on this compilation it welcomes new producers to the fold. Nastia Riegel's "Pray" kick-starts Fuga with dreamy, dubbed-out techno, while Stefan Vincent's "Fever Dream" paints a hypnotic, minimal picture. On "Biomorph", Border One - who is best known for his releases on Wolfskuil - delivers a grimy, bass-heavy groove, while Dold's "My Homework Ate My Dog" and PTTRN's "Contempt/Suggest 6" are the kind of high-paced but intricate techno tracks that the Belgian label has helped to pioneer. Rounding off this fine compilation are the discordant tones of Ribe's "The Cause" and Linkan Ray's bleep-heavy "Introspective Vision".
Review: While many contemporary producers are mining rave influences with varying degrees of success, few have got the knowledge and sense of history as Mark Broom. This release showcases the UK veteran's expertise: the title track features wild hardcore stabs, filtered heavily and unfolding over pounding kick drums. On "Insta", the Beardman boss goes for a similar approach, only this time, sirens flow over a wobbly bass. "Midnight" is deeper, with celebratory piano lines building gradually against the backdrop of tight percussion and skipping beats, while Broom matches up old school synths with a warbling groove and evocative, looped vocals for the decidedly euphoric "Hear Me".
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: Garry McCartney aka Ejeca returns to Last Night on Earth with a hypnotic dance floor EP. The title revolves around a brooding bass and hollowed out kicks, which he uses as a basis for uplifting melodies, tropical forest samples and haunting tribal chants. On "Your Mind", he ups the pace to deliver a pumping club rhythm that resounds to repetitive vocal samples and crisp claps. "Artmeis" sees him veer back towards a tranced out route, led by shimmering synth lines and dubbed out kicks. Finally, "Diskord" sees Ejeca display his techno credentials, with a pumping groove underpinning the kind of churning chord sequences that prevail on classic Force Inc releases.
Review: Kevin Saunderson's label has released so many classics that this compilation celebrating its quarter century is an embarrassment of riches. Classics provides an insight into Saunderson's diversity as a producer; from the classic late 80s/early 90s Detroit techno-house of "Rock to the Beat" and "The Groove That Won't Stop" through the pop techno of "Good Life" and the deeper, bass-heavy sound of his E-Dancer project, represented here by "World of Deep" and "Bassline", this is a well-rounded snapshot of Saunderson's best-known releases and projects. However, it also wins extra kudos for including some obscure gems like the classy, ominous vocal-led house of "Forces", reorded under the Essa guise.
Review: Adryiano Richter returns to his Cestraw label for its first release in three years. "Sensual.." gets off to an impressive start with "Frequency Damager", where Richter manages to combine the primal jack of Steve Poindexter with the kind of warbling, acidic undercurrents that used to populate Ian O'Brien records. The pace picks up on "Pl303 Style", with pounding kicks and a ghetto style rhythm underpinning searing 303s, while on "U Better Axumbody" a slightly more light-hearted tone is audible thanks to the use of high-pitched cartoon vocal samples and a tonal sequence that soars through the air like a deranged wasp.
Review: Pig & Dan follow up the first instalment of Tunnel Vision with this blistering sequel. Led by grimy acid lines and rolling snares, "Sirenism" is a wild underground techno track. "Rinse Out the Sound" also resounds to visceral analogue riffs, but on this occasion it's supported by robust kick drums and a hoover bass as well as featuring robotic vocal snippets. "Perception" sees the popular Drumcode pair head down a leaner, more distorted route, thanks to its driving percussion and pounding drums, while on "Wasted", they return to the 303 influences that they first showcased on "Sirenism", albeit this time with the acid covered in eerie synth washes.
Review: Aleph music chief Ralf Schmidt aka Aera is back on the esteemed Innervisions imprint with the Prana EP, which is imbued with the instincts of a storyteller across six sonically different yet interconnected micro-worlds. From the dreamy and sublime vibes of "Way Out" where tech house and 8-bit elements collide, to moments of cleverly crafted and emotive futurism that we've come to know and love from the German producer - which can he heard on riveting journeys like "Turning Machine" and "Little Smasher". It wouldn't be an Innervisions record without a bit blissed-out and melodic deep house, would it? "Brackets" has you covered on that front.
Review: Deep within the pores of techno you'll find Developer, an artist tirelessly producing techno like a motor-neuron being printed in 3D. This album, Sangre Por Oro, translates to that (and Blood For Gold in English) with a soundtrack that sends our consciousness spiralling into a new cosmological space. Flecked with sci-atmospheres, subtle industrialisms, trippy vocal snippets and touches of dub techno, Developer's tracks come together for full warehouse purpose. Thematic and melody can be found in numbers like "Over Cold Seas" alongside heavier tracks like "Headhunter" and "Boogie Down", with dubby touches in "Jive Keep Me Alive" and opener "Risky". Golden.
Review: While Alden Tyrell initially rose to prominence with Italo and electro-influenced work on Clone during the early 00s, the Vorm Variaties series has seen him explore a tougher, more techno-oriented sound. This approach is audible from the get-go on this compilation: "Lash Out" sees him loop a vocal sample over punishing kick drums and a steely rhythm, while on "Game Theory", he deploys shimmering synths and vocal snatches over a Levon Vincent-style groove. Meanwhile, on tracks like "Angular' and "Sherman Paradox", Tyrell goes tougher, with its lean percussion and corrosive chords calling to mind the work of Mike Denhert. It's an impressive artistic shift.
Review: On his first new album in three years, Kieron Hebden aka Four Tet proves why he is such a rare talent. Tracks like "School" and "Baby" see him merge ambient and electro-acoustic sounds together with vocal samples and tight dance floor rhythms, while on "Love Birds" he delivers tight drums and melancholic keys. What makes this so impressive is the fact that the dividing line between the organic and the electronic is imperceptible. Of course there is an accessible side to Hebden's style - the effortless warbles of "Teenage Birdsong" and the evocative "Harpsichord" being the stand out tracks - but in the same way that he blends the organic with the synthetic, Four Tet never lets this album dip into rampant commercialism.