Review: Even if you weren't privy to the news that Firecracker had launched an offshoot, your immediate thought when grasping this inaugural release on Unthank would be that it had something to do with the Edinburgh imprint. Arriving in bespoke purple hand stamped sleeve art pressed on 10 inches of clear vinyl and wrapped in Japanese style plastic, it's one of this year's most attractive propositions for vinyl obsessives. This is all without even approaching the music, a debut peek into the musical mind of newcomer Bakey USTL, an Amsterdam dwelling Estonian producer. In "A Tender Place" Bakey has delivered one of the most disjointed, flagrantly risque, thumping eight minutes of house music your senses might be exposed to this year. In contrast to the sleaze on the A Side, the opposing proceedings open with the shuffling future soul abstractions of "Nose Candy" minimalist beatdown at it's finest, whilst "Heroin" marks a swift descent into the depths of South American narcotic noise. Thus the schizoid brilliance of the A Side is matched by the slightly menacing strangeness of the opposing side on a record which is limited in numbers and high on demand.
Review: The good ship Juno traverses the Firecracker galaxy and lands once more in the spacious Unthank region with more down under cross genre pollinations. Last year's Inskwel induction was a noted highlight in the small but perfectly formed Unthank catalogue, but this fifth edition from the unheralded Booshank might just match it. Shout outs to House of Traps for the silk screen two colour sleeve that houses this clear vinyl 10" from Booshank (who sources tell us is something of a scene staple over in Melbourne) Loose gargling acid of the deranged kind characterises lead track "Single Dutch" whilst on the flip "Interstate" has that psychedelic, cosmic vibe that Max D does so well. Booshank's disregard for kick drum politics is demonstrated with aplomb on "Secret Life" a simmering concoction of bristling textures which explodes into a charge of drums with the kind of glee that's almost sexual.
Review: Firecracker Recordings' Unthank label has been a decidedly intermittent concern since it's eye catching arrival back in 2010 with the Parris Mitchell mangling antics of Berlin dwelling Estonian producer Bakey USTL. It makes for somewhat poetic reading that the label's sixth release should usher in the return of a producer whose last apparent production credit was a contribution to the Fudge Fingas cut "Fidgety Friends" way back in 2007! Quite what the West Yorkshire based Denaji has been doing in the subsequent years is not clear, but your focus should be on his contributions here, with the Wuhti 10" quite sublime. The title track and "Dharma Dharma" are the sort of star gazing boogie and fizzing deep house that fit snugly into the overarching Firecracker sonic canon and do check the wondrous remix of "Wuhti" from Norwegian Sex Tags mastermind DJ Sotofett.
Review: Firecracker offshoot Unthank returns with a keenly awaited seventh release that introduces Texan producer Fur into the fold. It's the first credited release for the American producer (real name Bryce Isbell) since his Cocoon EP for the UNO label last year - this coming from a producer who according to his Facebook page has "released over 50 albums" on multiple formats. It's an impressive Unthank debut for Fur which sees weighty pianos and deep house rhythmics match the sounds of a harmonious DJ Sprinkles production. Firecracker's Linkwood bolsters the EP with his Stargazer remix, which replaces heavily struck keys with new age synths, while the loose swing of the original's drums have been tightened to create a linear, but laid back reinterpretation.
Review: Nothing beats a bit of clear vinyl, especially if it's got some badass electro pressed onto it. Its clear that Australian Inkswel, is of the electro-boogie persuasion and here's three tracks to prove it. "Do It" is catchy and crisp with lovely mid 80s synthpop vibes, "Tu Machito" is pure old skool electro and "LFO Bounce" is a fantastic b-boy drum box workout. Funkineven beefs up the latter hissy percussion and more melodies than you can shake a synth at.
Review: Firecracker's impeccable UNTHANK series continues, with boss man Lindsay Todd securing a first collaborative EP from Lemme Kno, a surprise hook-up between Maxmillion Dunbar and Rush Hour 'No Label' alumnus Morgan 'DJ Isle O'Man' Buckley. "The Tie With The Most Stripes" provides an excellent opening, with the duo exploring their shared love of instrumental hip-hop, Luke Vibert and sparkling dancefloor electronics. "Way (188 Krew Mix)" continues in a similar vein (think vintage Kenny Dope-style Jeep beats and samples meets lo-fi synths), before they reach for the jugular on standout cut "1234567". Built around early hardcore style breakbeats, loved-up chord sweeps, new age synthesizers and bleep melodies, the track harnesses both the musical zeitgeist, and each producer's distinctive talents.
Review: It would be fair to say that Firecracker offshoot Unthank is a little underrated. The 10" series, which variously focuses on experimental deep house and curious downtempo explorations, has previously showcased superb work from Vakula, Inkswel, Booshank and Lord of the Isles, amongst others. Here, Vancouver's LNRDCRY gets in on the act, opening with a wondrous chunk of horizontal ambience - think dreamy, new age chords, throbbing bass and far-out textures - before delivering a suitably saucer-eyed slice of beatless positivity. The dancefloor's not completely ignored, of course, and the EP's final missive is an intense romp through analogue acid blessed, of course, with LNRDCRY's usual impeccably atmospheric chords.
Review: After stellar contributions to the series from Bakey USTL and Vakula, Unthank swings back into action with a release from a producer much closer to their Edinburgh home, Lord Of The Isles. This Scottish producer has already graced some fine imprints such as Tusk Wax, Ene and American Standard with his music, while perhaps reserving the best so far to the excellent Hot Blobs EP released on his own Little Strong label. His contribution to the still fledgling Unthank canon improves on that release however, arriving in typically attractive cover art and described as "a journey of whiskey, analogue electronics, Scottish landscapes, nostalgia and underground parties". Musically the five tracks peak and dip between the differing emotions inherent in house music and sound as good as anything Firecracker have released to date.
Review: Given Lindsay Todd's love of spacey ambient and intelligent techno revivalism, it's not that much of a surprise to see Rory McPike turn up on UNTHANK under the Rings Around Saturn alias. Over the course of a 10" and a 7" - both presented in impeccable, screen-printed packaging - the Australian producer variously turns his hand to galactic electro ("Synchrotron"), weirdo electronica ("Peripheral Visionary"), whistling, bustling beauty ("I Can See Am Look At We"), and the kind of dubby, deep space ambient-meets-IDM business at which he's a true master ("Jupiter C", "Spectrum"). As a bonus, he also tries his hand at hip-hop influenced, disco-tinged late night boogie ("F 124CC").
Review: Having launched in fine style with the crazed Moodymann meets Dance Mania genius of Bakey USTL, Firecracker's Unthank offshoot keeps the focus squarely on Eastern Europe with some equally fine productions from a more celebrated entity. If this year is going to be dedicated to anyone, Ukraine's favourite son must surely be on the list - treating our ears and your hips to a veritable bounty of expert releases on numerous labels of high repute - Dekmantel, 3rd Strike and Ethereal Sounds to name but three. Anyone who has indulged in just one of the aforementioned releases should need no prompting to check this ten inch - with Vakula drawing on a surfeit of influences such as AFX, Claro Intelecto and DBX across the three untitled tracks. The A Side is where the deepness lies whilst the flip contains an expansive deviation into subaqueous, stripped down, hypnotic minimalism. Don't be expecting "A Tender Place" Mk2 but do expect to be seriously impressed.
Review: Firecracker sub label Unthank is back with Whodamammy aka Raffaele Arcella, an Italian DJ and producer based in Naples. He's related to the collective Early Sounds Recordings (with local hero Massimo Di Lena) and is one of the founders of Periodica Records. The music on offer on the Prima Industria EP is is a fusion between cosmic sounds, proto house, jazz funk and electronica. After the sublime intro that is "Iris Primum" get gets straight down to business on the oddball acid of "Indigo Auctoritas" and a couple of short experimental pieces which make for curious listening. But it's all about the B side in our opinion, where the intergalactic space funk of "Wise Glaciem" made a nice impression, as did the rather Hieroglyphic Being sounding analogue soul of "Neuter Gyrum".