Review: The first of two promised Darkhaus volumes from veteran Sheffield trio The Black Dog arrives on Ostgut Ton's Unterton imprint, and predictably, it's something of a belter. "Council Flat Emptiness" is a rolling piece of analogue techno funk bathed in a wash of cascading dystopian synth textures; its preceded by the "Stripped" version which pulls all the decorative elements back to just a simple combination of raw bass and lysergic stabs. Luke Slater makes a welcome return to his LB Dub Corp alias with his remix; giving it an industrial overhaul with mammoth kick drums, it puts everything except the juggernaut bassline into a digital blender, slowly building up to a crescendo of whirring bitcrushed noise which mingles with a surprisingly funky melody. In a landscape full of increasingly dry techno, The Black Dog are a consistent breath of fresh air.
Review: Romanian producer Borusiade finally hits Ostgut Ton's Unterton sub-label, placing the artist on a clear platform on which to showcase his devious blend of techno sounds to a less minimally-minded dance crowd. This is tough dance-floor material that should be churned out at peak time. His strain of industrialism is loud and audible on "Forewarned Is Forearmed", a steely, broken techno rhythm that gathers more and more pace as its deathly sonics cave in, while "Common Ancestor" pounces on fluidly without the help of any kick drums. "Doublethink" is an ode to 1984 dystopia, a wide soundscape of liquid drums and eerie melodies swirling over head, leaving "Atlas" to ponder in a dark, intricate whirlpool of sludgy melodies and broken percussion shots. Techno-approved and fully recommended.
Review: Ostgut Ton are slowly introducing fledging producer Kobosil to the family, which began with a commissioned remix of Barker & Baumecker's "Silo", taken from last year's hailed Transsektoral LP. Kobosil now joins The Black Dog and Manhooker to release on Ostgut Ton sub-label Unterton in 2013 with the hangman titled - ----- EP (his previous EPs for an unknown label were equally unequivocal, titled, ------- and ------ respectively). It's easy to imagine that this four track EP is influenced by long sessions at Berghain, with "Contact" burrowing deeper and more distorted by the bar, while "Aggregate" draws similarities to Ben Klock's melodic Compression Session EP. On the B-side is the gruelling synth gurgle of "Osmium", and although it's the tracks focal point, rapid fire snares of seething white noise are what give the track its fierceness. The final track on - -----, "Herschel", is sparse, deep in dub and rhythmically slow, but serves the DJ with all of their BPM needs. Kobosil may well have proved himself by providing Ostgut Ton's finest release of the year.
Review: Ukranian hypnotic techno merchant and rising star Etapp Kyle is back, this time on Ostgut Ton sister label Unterton. "Opto" is cyclical, functional and bleepy. This track works well and is no doubt honed by his experience releasing for Klockworks in recent years. Second track "Ahora" is the one that really nails it though, with it's doubled up kicks and rapid fire claps doing most of the work beneath some immersive and lush chords. On the flip "Continuum" is definitely the highest-octane track on here for peak time use; this one is thunderous! Finally "Limb" keeps on with the intensity on this reduced yet muscular cut with steely rhythms and grinding synth programming calling to mind classic Steve Rachmad.
Review: Three releases deep and Ostgut sister label Unterton remains consistently surprising in their output; launching with remixes of tobias, the label subsequently secured the first original output from Lauer and Gerd 'the word' Janson's Tuff City Kids project. That latter 12" was prime Panorama Bar material and a favourite of the Juno office and now they present something wholly different in the form of Manhooker. Comprised of producer Guiddo and vocalist Mavin, Manhooker's music presents a lighter side to the stern techno associated with the Ostgut Ton empire, inviting you into a "merry world of post-disco and proto-house, mirror ball fantasies, baby powder dreams and rays of sunshine".
Review: Its debut release time for Nitam as the Retold 12" surfaces on Ostgut-Ton's intermittent sublabel concern Unterton. It's certainly the kind of friendly, melodic stuff that the Berlin label gravitates more readily towards, with a healthy amount of techno powering the machines. "Retold" strides forth with big room intent but not at the expense of the depth of the track, for it is indeed a hypnotic experience to behold. "Neotyp" meanwhile edges in a touch more groove to make for a gentler overall mood, before the muscular pump of "Value Time" brings in some sturdy bass, edgy strings and swooping synth tones. "Exiam" finishes the EP off with a drum-led workout that will have plenty of DJs swooning with mixable delight.
Review: The mysterious Summe debuts on Ostgut offshoot Unteron with a stark, purist release. The "Schleife" tracks on Summe are all techno-based and range from the stop-start slinky rhythm of "Schleife 1", through the ticking percussion and pounding industrial beats of "Schleife IX", before ending with the relentless, acid-fuelled minimalism of "Schleife III" - which sounds like Plastikman's remix of System 7's "Alphawave" getting cosy with the firing, visceral minimalism of Rob Hood. It's not all peak-time techno however; "Objectness" is a slinky, angular minimal house workout in the early Akuen vein, while the release starts with the short but powerful ambient drones of "Erosion".
Review: 2012 saw Berlin kings, Ostgut Ton create their considerably more housey, Unterton sub-label, giving the opportunity to some of Berlin's less pounding tracks to surface and emanate from those cavernous Berghain walls. For their first release, Berliner Tobias is remixed by two inarguably charismatic artists. "Leaning Over Backwards" is given a re-touch by none other than Efdemin, who has shaped the original into a deeper, leftfield excursion - raw as hell percussion glides freely among a whirlpool of strange bleeps and enchanting effects. For the B-side we have Meister Villalobos and Max Loderbauer giving some of their peerless organic beats and subtle harmonics. Great stuff as always from the German capital!
Review: Gerd and Phil land their first set of original Tuff City Kids tracks in style, taking the controls for the second release on Unterton, the newly established offshoot of Ost Gut Ton. The Bobby Tacker EP has Janson and Lauer crafting three tracks of beefcake house with one clear purpose in mind, and executed with the skills they've honed over countless excellent remixes under the Tuff City Kids banner over the years. Lead track "SFS" wastes no time in playing its trump card; a glossy, thick synth line that pulses all the way through the track while the bottom end comes on all rugged and antsy. Meanwhile "Bias" exercises an air of restraint, letting a simple beat unfold while a tense string edges in from the side hinting at the fearsome techno line that growls in the lower register, imbued with the DNA of dub but twisted to a malevolent intent. Finally "Begger" kicks off on some booming Chicago drums slowed down to a modern cruise, but once again it's a powerful lead synth that rules the day.