Review: As Autechre set out on an extensive live tour, Warp has decided the time is right to reissue their 1994 classic, Amber, on vinyl. Given that it's been unavailable on wax since then, and second hand prices have shot through the roof, this is undoubtedly a good thing. It remains one of the legendary duo's standout albums: a peerless collection of brilliant IDM tunes offering a perfect balance between the glistening, atmospheric melodiousness of their early work, and the crunchy, mathematical rhythms of their later releases. There are moments of eyes-closed calm ("Silverside"), bubbly, melody-led workouts ("Montreal", "Slip"), far-out electro missives ("Glitch"), and the odd icy epic (the brilliant "Further").
Review: Ever since Nina Kraviz launched her Trip label back in 2014, Bjarki has been the imprint's most prolific artist. The Icelandic producer's latest release is his eighth in total for the label, and follows a trio of albums and a quartet of 12" singles. It's an intriguing EP, all told, with Bjarki combining experimental-minded sounds, motifs and production techniques with bombastic, four-to-the-floor techno rhythms. The results are generally intense and impressive, with highlights including the surging, Surgeon-seque madness of "Hatann Satann", the insanely bass heavy and energy-packed "Oli Gumm 2-2", and the crackling, spaced-out creepiness of the metallic and otherworldly "Fork2-2".
Review: Before he'd even released any music, Brainwaltzera's tracks were being "liked" by Aphex Twin. It caused a bit of a furore - and subsequently the hype surrounding this admittedly superb debut album - but the patronage of Richard D James is in many ways fitting. You see, Poly Ana is full of the kind of hard-to-pigeonhole electronic fare that could have come from the legendary Cornish producer's studio. There are moments of fluid, ghostly ambience, alternately clattering and crackling IDM machine jams, mind-altering leftfield techno throb-jobs and fizzing, braindance-inspired workouts. Imaginative, emotive, off-kilter and left-of-centre, it's litte less than a triumphant first album.
Review: On his newest release for avant electronic powerhouse Editions Mego, German minimal techno legend Thomas Brinkmann. Brinkmann digitally recreated the timbre of a grand piano and then subjected the synthetic sound to a brutal MIDI workout. Also of inspiration were airport terminals, or as he named them 'no-places', and their sterile surroundings devoid of any personality or soul which informed the track titles. The album sits somewhere between mystique concrete, glitch and death metal drumming, if you can imagine such a thing.
Kaa Antilope - "Rise Up Helicopter, Like A Bird" (3:59)
Clan Of Xymox - "A Day" (6:40)
Ministry - "Same Old Madness" (5:10)
Fad Gadget - "Back To Nature" (5:51)
Review: With the renewed attention surrounding industrial and EBM in the last few years (and its influence on techno, again), it's important that someone with credentials gives the new generation a decent history lesson. Fitting that Berghain resident and MDR boss Marcel Dettmann curates a compilation of classics from the sound's heyday: here's someone who actually lived through it. As part of Amsterdam imprint Dekmantel's Selectors Series, these gems from yesteryear should certainly set the record straight and provide solid reference points for new school retroverts. Highlights (and there's many) include: Belgian EBM legends Front 242 with "Don't Crash", Philadelphia industrial underdogs Executive Slacks' "So Mote It Be" and the mandatory Cabs track comes in the form of "Low Cool" (the Marcel Dettmann Edit, no less). It wouldn't be a proper industrial comp without a bit of Wax Trax! would it? Label staples Ministry appear with their 1982 song "Same Old Madness", a period in the band's history that some consider their finest.
Review: We're not going to introduce Frankie Goes To Hollywood to you because you should know who they are - just in case you don't - and you would have heard their timeless songs like "Timeless" played out left, right and centre. Liverpool, however, their 1986 album and their second LP, is a little less played-out and very representative of the rocky side of post-punk that was heavily popular from New York to London, and pretty much anywhere with dance floors. The mood is upbeat and groovy but, as with all of their work, there is a subtle layer of romanticism and melancholia, a perfect cocktail for a companion piece to pretty much everything and anything. We can't recommend this enough, especially seeing as the original is kinda hard to find these days..
Review: British experimental musician Luke Younger returns to PAN following up 2015's difficult yet riveting opus "Olympic Mess". Composed in the Essex countryside, he once again shapes samples and field recordings into new forms. Movement is an overarching theme - sound collages are assembled and dismantled, and temporal and spatial boundaries fluctuate - on an album that questions the structures around us. We're enjoying the abrasive and textural sonic soundscapes on "Capital Crisis (Ne City Loop)", the droning and hypnotic slo-mo techno of "Leave Them All Behind" with its intoxicating effects, the musique concrete of "Toxic Racecourse" which treads more familiar territory of Helm's work - as does the avant-garde imaginary soundtrack "You Are The Database".
Review: Cabaret Voltaire co-founder Richard H. Kirk, once one of electronic music's most prolific artists, has been surprisingly quiet of late. In fact, Daesin is his first album of new material since 2011. As you might expect, it's particularly obtuse, with the forthright experimentalist producing the kind of set worthy of the Cabs in their early '80s pomp. While there are moments of fleeting positivity - see the intergalactic industrial funk of "Do it Right Now", the shoegaze-goes-Italo throb of "Radioactive Water" and EBM onslaught "20 Block Lockdown" - for the most part the album is as formidably fuzzy, moody and foreboding. That means raw, heavy, effects-laden guitar textures, trippy electronics, steel-clad drum machine beats and, for the first time in a decade, Kirk's gnarled vocals.
Review: Editions Mego aren't only good at releasing classics, but they're actually equally as amazing at scouting new, raw talent. The American artiste, Klara Lewis, steps into the limelight with ten audaciously diverse electronic sculptures. Samples and field recordings get moulded and chopped-up and create rhythmic patterns which could almost be danced to. For instance, the opener "CATT" is a rough and improvisational patchwork of organic noises and atmospherics gathered from diverse settings and fused herein to create a stunning hook. The same goes for the rest of the tracks and to be honest, Lewis is actually doing something interesting with field recordings - we can't wait to hear her sound progress into an even more convoluted sonic shuffle! Tip!
Review: Ever since their first white labels started to appear a few years back, we've been big, bigs fans of Russia's Gost Zvuk label. That's because, aside from all the gnarly artwork, these guys are doing things on their own agenda: the sounds on these records are recognisable and yet different. Different in their approach, their style, and their message. On this Pavel 'BUTTECHNO' Milyakov debut, a record that sounds like it's been made by a veteran, we here shards of techno, but the genre is only used as a means of expression, one means to an end in terms of tying these alien sonics together under one groove. We won't describe this music in detail because it simply must be heard to be understood. Album of the week from us, don't miss it. Oh, and check the rest of the label out, it's all solid gear.
Review: The Serbian representative of retirement synthesiser success Abul Mogard has a new release to impart which comes forth on Walls' own label Ecstatic. As with previous Mogard releases on VCO Records, there is a quiet, slow-burning intensity to this work, gently unfurling monstrous tones in a harmonious swell that manages to be both comforting and unsettling in the same stroke. With subtle processing at the heart of his sound, Mogard once again demonstrates just how powerful the right combination of signal paths can be at evoking strong emotions, using the most glacial sonic gestures possible as a throwdown to an impatient age.
Review: The eponymous debut album from London-based Welsh/Canadian duo Moon Ate The Dark was one of the most underrated downtempo sets of 2012; a thrillingly evocative set of piano compositions laden in reverb and subtle production trickery. While this year's follow-up, Moon Ate The Dark II, altered the formula a little - specifically by including a whisper of drone-inspired electronics and more imaginative production treatments - the mesmerising, eyes-wide-shut effect was the same. Here, the two albums are paired together for the first time on a two-disc set housed in a lovely, hand-printed sleeve. If you've not heard either album, it should be an essential purchase.
Your Warrior (feat Kinoo, Aletchko & Johannes Schon)
Say It's Going To Change
Closer (feat Knox Chandler)
As For Me (feat Kinoo & Aletchko)
The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Drinker
The Year My Dreams Come True
This Frozen Lake (feat Kinoo)
Review: Given his productivity, it's rather a surprise to find that Alan Abrahams is Portable's first album for five years. Coming out on German behemoth !K7, the collection sees the affable South African exploring the potential of woozy, off-kilter electronic soul. Shot through with his usual blissful, synthesized beauty, atmospheric pads and yearning melodies, the set's 11 tracks veer from skittish, deep broken techno "More Than", and string-laden simplicity (the intensely beautiful "As For Me"), to tear-jerking ambience ("The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Drinker"), deep, malcnholic Afro-house ("Seraphin"), and Osunlade style, organic explorations (the wonderful "This Frozen Lake").
Review: It never fails to impress us just how sharp Ryucihi Sakamoto's experimental instincts remain, despite his advancing years. For proof, check the line-up of artists he asked to provide remixes for this "remodeled" companion piece to last year's sublime Async full-length. Predictably, almost all bring their A-game. Check, for example, the sweeping cinematic brilliance of Oneohtrix Point Never's interpretation of "Andata", the mournful, ultra-atmospheric wonder of Alva Noto's take on "Disintegration", the wall-of-sound sonic textures and neo-classical movements of Fennsez's version of "Solari", and the chopped-and-screwed headiness of "Async (ARCA Remix)". For the most part, all involved have somehow managed to emphasize the depth of feeling in Sakamoto's compositions, most of which were inspired by his well documented battle with cancer.
Review: Belgian retroverts Stroom are back, and have plundered the vaults of one Patrick Selinger: a pianist and visual artist based in Antwerp, known for his work in groups such as Logo, One O One and Electric Dream. Under his own name, he had one release - 1981's Passion In The Air. Much like said release, "Businessmen" is an icy cold expression in minimal wave, with deadpan vocals, and haunting synths accompanied by rusty rhythms. More relevant to Selinger's work at present are the evocative piano based pieces on the B side, such as "Between The Time" or "Nature Boy".
Review: Belgium's Twilight Ritual formed the essence of the coldwave movement throughout the '80s: a shadowy duo riding below the mainstream and making cutting-edge proto-techno that would, unknowingly to the band, sound still as fresh as ever thirty years later. Originally out on Micrart, Geert Coppens and Peter Bonne's debut album was only released on cassette and CDR back in 1982 but thankfully Onder Stroom drop the first ever vinyl version, including a beautiful insert. Ranging from wonky synth-pop to pseudo-industrial sounds, The Ritual is an album which truly represents the era that it was made in, a time when genres were being mixed and stripped on a constant basis and where making futuristic machine sounds was the most important objective on the agenda for many bands. If you're into slow-burning drum machine jams and fuzzy synths then this is your winning ticket. Gorgeous reissue.
Review: Initially a duo responsible for a sole 7" release on Blind Prophet, Void Vision re-emerges here as the sole project of Shari Vari on this sublime 12" for the excellent Mannequin Records. The three track Sour precedes a debut Void Vision LP for the Berlin-based operation which is apparently due later this year and we cannot wait based on the sounds explored here. Lead track "Sour" is a ripe and muscular Italo track which is profoundly danceable and wholly erotic, whilst the accompanying remix from Bordello A Parigi pair Vanzetti & Sacco does a splendid job in magnifying more dancier elements of Void Vision's production. The full throttle instrumental thrust of closing track "20/20" will please fans of Void Vision's earlier work though we are more focused on what she's going to do next!
Review: Coldwave excursionist Shari Vari aka Void Vision finally comes through with her highly awaited Sub Rosa LP on the gorgeously on-point Mannequin imprint. The taster EP "Sour" out earlier this year was a taster of what's to come from Vari in terms of diversity and quality. Sub Rosa contains a little of everything when it comes to the electronic dance edge, where "Everythin Is Fine", for example, takes a techno beat and slaps down some vocals all over its makeup, while "Hidden Hand" is a true Drexciyan electro number. Then there's more abstract moments such as "Slow Down", "Vulgar Displays" with its rolling stabs of percussion and "Queen Of Hearts" with that humungous swell of low-end and quirky, heady melodies. Yum.