Shaun Baron-Carvais aka Shlomo returns to Arts after last year's Rapture. The Paris-based producer has carved out a name with his loopy but always funky take on techno and Hardwave is no exception. The title track is a dense, percussive roller, with some freaky vocals buried deep in the mix. "Styx" has a similar aesthetic, but the approach is somewhat different; revolving around a slightly looser arrangement, it sees Shlomo use a series of drops and builds, along with some cleverly positioned filtering, to create a track that ranks up there with O/V/R's finest material. On "Parhelion", the sound is just as intense, with Shlomo dropping wild tonal signals over a ferocious percussive rhythm. It's peak time techno at its finest.
This debut single from previously unseen outfit LSD is remarkable for a number of reasons, not least the fact that the trio is made up of legendary UK techno producers Luke Slater, Steve Bicknell and Dave Summer AKA Function. Given their collective history of making thumping, mind-altering techno, you'd expect Progress to be both heavy and trippy. That's certainly what you get from opener "Process 1", where psychedelic electronics and cascading, otherworldly noises rise above an armour-plated techno groove. They push the envelope even further on "Process 2", a track blessed with restless cymbal lines and weird, off-key electronics. In comparison, the similarly intense "Process 3" seems deep and woozy, though the incessant, 1990 style bleeps and "LFO" style synths guarantees a suitably hallucinogenic feel throughout.
Arkajo doesn't care as much as others when it comes to meticulously pacing releases, and instead, has chosen to churn out two banging EPs at roughly the same time. The man's got one out right now on Bror Records, as well as this new killer for Brotherhood Sound System, taking the minimal equation back into the limelight. The title tune "Panacea" rocks and echoes majestically, flowing through the speakers with fluid motion and a cavernous, almost tribal sense of rhythm, while "Tape8" strips much of that bulk down to a razor-sharp techno bullet with a crafty groove, and "Tape15" bundles a myriad of glacial bleeps and bouncy drums together under one tight roller that's reminiscent of the Perlon output.
For all his innovation, Burial has historically shied away from delivering full-throttle, mind-altering club bangers. Certainly, we can't remember him serving up anything as rhythmically intense as the two dystopian techno slammers showcased on this EP. Both feature many of his usual sonic trademarks - oodles of vinyl crackle, end-of-days aural textures and creepy ambient electronics - but are underpinned by bombastic 4/4 beats rather than sparse, post-dubstep rhythms. "Pre-Dawn", a dense and incredibly intense affair, is the more energetic and instant of the two, though weirder and looser "Indoors", which contains some pitched-up rave-era vocal samples and woozy riffs amongst its highlights, is also very impressive.
The calibre of remixers that have been commissioned to rework "Lucid" is testament to the respect that Tom Doorschodt and Roger van der Zwan aka TWR72 enjoy in the techno community. Spanish producer Psyk is up first and delivers a deep, drum-heavy take on the track, while at the other end of the spectrum, Grounded Theory resident Henning Baer drops a spiky, percussive version, its hats and drums threatening to splinter at any moment into a million shards. The prolific Rod also opts for a minimal techno version, but his composition resounds to insistent clicks and bleeps rather than fractured percussion, while on their own take, TWR72 revive the aesthetic of mid-90s panel beaters like Neil Landstrumm and Tobias Schmidt.
Moth is John Beltran's follow-up album to his 90s long player Ten Days of Blue, and proves to be a worthy successor. There's the jittery rhythms of "Wet With Rain" and the Detroit techno "Flight", while on "The Returning Dance" and "Nineteen Eighty Nine", the US producer looks to Larry Heard for inspiration as he drops emotive deep house tracks that centre on bleeding basslines and vivid melodies. Beltran's trademark ambient sounds are also present, with "Whatever The Road Brings" delivering chiming melodies over subtle rhythms, while the ethereal "Street Lights" and "My Robot" represents Beltran at his esoteric best.
Alone is Ramiro Lopez's third outing on Drumcode, and sees the Spanish producer deliver three stunning tracks. "Being Alone" features a tough drum pattern, rolling snares, a pulsing electronic bass, and, somewhere deep in the arrangement, a vocal pitched so low it's impossible to decipher. It makes for a powerful but unusual interpretation of big room techno. "Dark Science" is also built on tough kicks and features a primal vocal sample, but this time Lopez uses insistent bells ringing and chiming, as well as wild, detuned drones to set his work apart. "Der Raum" also follows an unusual approach, with massive kicks underpinning blasts of dry percussion, sirens and a wailing diva vocal.
When he was asked to put together the fourth volume in Dekmantel's brilliant Selectors series, Joy Orbison decided to use the opportunity to pay tribute to the rich history of UK dance music. Predictably, his on-point selections join the dots between the past and the present, moving from the London beat poetry of James Messiah and hard-to-find 1991 UK hardcore of R Solution's surprisingly deep and melodious "Skinny Long Git", to the crunchy, mad-as-a-box-of-frogs IDM of JP Buckle's 1998, Rephlex-released oddity "One For Da Laydeez". Along the way, he finds space for the sparkling early D&B of "Lush" by Oblivion (AKA Source Direct), the low-slung, bass-heavy deep house/acid house fusion of L.E Bass and the analogue techyno idealism of Beatrice Dillon.
Having been spotted splurging out guttural techno mischief on Super Rhythm Trax and No Logo, G-23 gets invited to Torn Hawk's Valcron Video label with more of that deviant sonic behaviour to share with the world. There is sludgy bass, strangled acid and clattering percussion aplenty on lead track "Access Code", while "Bleep Shots" throws down hard and raw with an utterly sick mix of grotty drums and gnarled synth blots. There's a Mr Husk "unmix" of "Access Code" which adds some extra melodic strains into the melee, and then "ARS Trip" finishes the EP off with some end of days tone damage for anyone left standing.
2017 has been a good year for fans of The Hacker AKA long-serving producer Michel Amato. Having already impressed via rock solid EPs on Stilleben and Bordello a Parigi, Amato delivers his first full-length excursion since 2014. As you'd probably expect, Les Theatre Des Operations tends towards the alien and intergalactic, with Amato serving up a range of tracks rich in bleeping electronic melodies, unfussy drum machine rhythms and angular, TB-303 style basslines. As usual, the eight tracks neatly blur the boundaries between techno and electro - both rhythmically and sonically - while regular collaborator Miss Kittin lends a hand on moody and mind-altering album highlight "Time X", adding some typically sleazy and stylish spoken word vocals.
Ricardo Rodrigues hasn't been active as Industrialyzer for some years, but if there was ever an occasion to revisit the uncompromising techno alias, a release on Damon Wild's legendary Synewave label must surely be it. The Portuguese artist goes in on "Analog Planet" with fearsome intent, serving up that Robert Hood-flavoured mechanized, weaponised loop goodness that gets the business end of the night shaking the way it should. "Multiple Walls" is a funkier affair with a playful organ line, but then it's back to the darkside with the devilish "Orbit X", rounding out an EP of no-nonsense techno like momma used to make.
For those who follow the work of British IDM legend Claro Intelecto, the last few years have been frustrating, to say the least. It's been five years since his last album, and three since he released a single. Exhilarator, his fifth full-length, is certainly well over-due. Predictably, the triple vinyl set - pressed in limited quantities on "splatter vinyl" - is also rather good. As usual, it offers a superb balance of dark and intoxicating electro, tuneful intelligent techno, bubbly IDM, glitchy post-ambient soundscapes, deep and bass-heavy techno shufflers and clanking, off kilter experimentation from the Autehcre school of electronica. It's atmospheric, impeccably produced and stuffed full of highlights. In other words, it's another great Claro Intelecto album.
Between them, Knutsson and Berg have racked up a small but respectable collection of EPs for labels like Knutsson's own UFO Station and Klasse. Now they bring their trippy, spaced out sound to Idle Hands' in-house imprint. The pair has pushed Idle Hands to its most classic-influenced iteration of techno - 'Taggen' resounds to heavy, quasi-junglist sub-bass and insistent bleeps, while on "Bimbo", the pair take influence from the filtered minimalism of G-Man and even early adopters like Psychic Warriors Ov Gaia to create a rolling, tribal track. Rounding off the release is "Kilmax"; borrowing elements from the first two tracks, its bleep-heavy rhythm is perfectly executed.
Smersh was the New Jersey duo Mike Mangino and Chris Shepard, who started out in the late 1970s. By 1981, their improvised live jams had already produced countless recordings and the duo began releasing cassettes via their own Atlas King label. Smersh developed a devoted following in places far beyond their native Piscataway, N.J. as their tapes made their way across the world and led to releases on dozens of other labels internationally. Josh Cheon & Co. describe the pair's sound as 'a lush hybrid of techno, industrial, dance, and experimental' although "Sideways" is an 18 minute long epic that dwells on the border between acid techno and breakneck electro in our opinion. There's a couple of modern reshapes too that are worth mentioning: James T Cotton's rave rendition injects some Amen breakbeats into it and comes off sounding like early U.R. circa '92. After all, he is from Detroit himself and would have lived through the period. He then dons the Charles Manier alias once again for an early EBM styled remix which was the winner for us.
am Smith aka Ploy is making some of the hottest techno around at the moment and, no, the dude ain't German. Bristol-schooled and full of bass dread, Ploy's tunes have taken him from Timedance to Hessle Audio, and now onto the ever-impressive Hemlock Recordings. "Unruly" dominates the A-side with its fat, inter-galactic groove filled to the brim with hollow noise and complex percussion folds, all blowing up to a stop-start rhythm; on the flipside "Garys" chucks out another dense groove of tooled-up techno wizardry, banging and dubbed-out for maximum club tear-out, whereas "Lost Hours" lingers in outer space thanks to a beatless sway made up of kinetic bleeps and aqueous sonic shapes. Killer!
Concept of Thrill is a project from Pawel Zawadzki, a Polish artist whose music resides at the harder end of the techno spectrum. As this release on Tsunami shows, he has managed to forged an impressive identity. "Tormentum" is a grainy, jacking affair, stripped back but full of energy, while on "Stymulacja", he deploys eerie organ riffs and spaced out, whooshing sounds over a pounding tribal groove. "Insanire" sees Zawadzki shift approach again, this time focusing on the grimy kicks and gained filters of labels like Lost and Blueprint. It's not the last change of direction on Reality, and "Mortalia" marks a move into abstract electronics, while "Indicator" returns to peak-time intensity sounding like the kind of dense, industrial rhythm track that Adam X would drop.
There's a complete lack of information as to the identity of LAHJ, the latest jammer to appear on the excellent Crow Castle Cuts label but we hope it stands for Live At Hugh Jenkins in homage to Offenbach institution Live At Robert Johnson. Regardless of source, the four tracks here more than match the calibre of previous CCC output, with title track "Miller SC" a wonderfully dark yet playful groover with some blinding organ stabs. "Womb" finds LAHJ dip into acid fried techno that feels like it was recorded straight to tape, whilst "The Tinley Effect" strips things back to a more minimal thrust that allows more of the analogue feel to seep through. This leaves "Gears & Greas" to close proceedings in a jerky, rhythmically unpredictable fashion that would appeal to the Pudel crowd.
The second series of remixes of "Woke" sees Patrick Topping and Craig Williams tasked with the reshapes. In Topping's hands, Tiga's ode to saying goodbye to the rat race by dispensing of his smartphone in the sea takes on a malevolent edge. The rhythm is heavy and pounding, sounding inspired by ghetto techno, while discordant electronic riffs encase the Turbo boss' deadpan vocals. It's the heaviest interpretation of "Woke" so far, but also one of the most impressive. Craig Williams doesn't opt for the same level of intensity, but his take is also inspired by classic US dance music as warbling acid lines and tough kettle drums transport "Woke" to Chicago house's golden years.
Ansome is the enfant terrible of the UK techno scene. Real name Kieran Whitefield, his hardware-driven tracks are always noisy, energetic and irreverent. On British Steel, his latest venture for Ali Wells' label, all these characteristics are abundant. The title track is a pummelling, broken beat affair, while "Marching Powder" sees him opt for a straighter groove, as concrete kicks support droning, visceral textures. "Poison Your Body" is techno in sound but punk in nature as a vocal screeches and shrieks over a pounding industrial rhythm that replicates the sound of someone scraping their finger nails down a black board. Closing track "Granite & Mortar" is just as twisted, with Ansome returning to broken beats and spewing out electronic feedback and guttural rage.
After a release earlier this year for Weekend Circuit, it looks like Par Grindvik has settled again at Stockholm Ltd, his own label. Following on from the Aged EP comes The Game. It's an intriguing release that, like much of the material on the label, doesn't fall into a distinct category. "Wall to Wall" is pared back and mysterious sounding, like a close cousin of Bodycode, while on "Private Life", the Swedish producer delivers a deep, dense chord-heavy affair, its synths murmuring their way over a rolling groove. "Demand" sees a similar approach applied to a more peak-time approach, while on "Front Row (The Game)" Grindvik surprises again, with a mid-tempo groove that features evocative soundscapes.