Review: Saktu is an alias of Sasha Kaktus, boss of the St. Petersburg-based Heisenberg label. He returns for a new EP with buddy Alex Adamov for the first time since 2016's Kacheli EP on Reshape Agency. On the A side we have a rolling and ethereal cut that is the title track - this one is certain to have major crossover appeal from fans of UK tech house to the Rominimal sound. On the flip, you are treated to the equally hypnotic futurist bounce of "Flicker" which will appeal to fans of Sublee or Piktor. It then gets a rework by Berlin-based deep house hero Maik Yells, who takes the track down a trippier and more arcane route.
Review: Mark Ambrose brings his years of expertise in the deeper end of the techno spectrum to bear on this latest joint for Crayon, the label he founded way back in the mid 90s. "Destiny Angel" is a stomping, expansive cut with a cinematic lilt to its sound design and melodic progression - one for people to truly travel on. "Bleeps & Bits" is a more rugged workout that digs deep into intricate rhythm programming and FX processing to create a unique future-tribal flavour. "Just Tonight" keeps the beats dynamic and broken, but with a much hookier punch and some choice vocal snippets that should find favour with all kinds of DJs.
Review: Staggeringly, this tidy tech-house EP from Dan Andrei is not only the Romanian's first release of any sort for four years, but also his first vinyl single since 2011. He begins in confident mood with "SOS", a gentle, undulating affair where pulsing electronics, drowsy chords and fizzing audio glitches clamber atop of a warm, mind-altering bassline and unfussy machine drums. "In The Bass" is a darker and wonkier workout for clubs that like it dark and clandestine, while "Still Unclear" adds warming deep house chords and dusty melodies to a futuristic tech-house groove. To round things off, Andrei offers up a spot of alien tech-house chug where swirling, deep space chords and another ear-catching bassline dominate the sound space.
Review: Priku has really ramped up the output of his Atipic imprint in the last couple of years. While its past output seemed to focus on more experimental stuff by himself (as Adrian Niculae) and Vincentiulian, the last few releases by Vlad Arapasu, Arapu, Faster and Romar sees the label's sound now aimed squarely at main room dancefloors. The latest offering comes from ardb aka Bogdan Ardeleanu. ATIPIC 008 maintains the same level of quality you've come to expect from the label. On the A side we have some sublime minimal house tackle, properly tried out on the dancefloors of Bucharest's acclaimed afterhours scene - no doubt. On the flip, "008.3" is a smooth and sensual deep house groove, followed by the glacial introversion of dub techno influenced journey "008.4".
Review: Artists who made club-focused music tend to debut with singles or EPs, so it's something of a surprise to find that Arno's first release is a triple-vinyl album of tasty dancefloor tracks that sit somewhere between hypnotic tech-house, warm deep house and mind-altering electro missives. As debuts go, it's very impressive, with highlights dotted across all three slabs of wax. Our current favourites include the skittishly funky electro skip of "Sacre Bleu", the sparse, bass-heavy minimal techno throb of "Start Making Sense", the ghostly deep space shuffle of "Set Me Free" and the out-there wonder of "Cleopatra Jones", where oddball electronic noises rise above a deep and drowsy bed of hazy ambient chords and densely layered drums.
Review: Fresh from dropping some heat on Leftroom, Alex Arnout continues his productive streak with this sterling return to Jack's House after he last graced the label with its first release back in 2016. "Sync Jam" packs a serious shuffle that hits squarely in the pleasure plexus for any discerning tech house head, while "Calling U" adopts a playfully spooky tone as it wriggles through a plethora of freaky synth squiggles. "Resergen" completes the set with a spirited dash through hooky techno drum programming and a mean chord line that captures a little old-skool optimism in the process.
Review: Pascal Benjamin is next up on Constant Black, following strong prior bouts from Michael James and Daniel Akbar. The Dutch producer has been dropping bombs on SlapFunk, Botanic Minds and many more in recent years, and he's sounding taut and toned on this slab of after-hours goodness. "Rascale" is one of those snaking tech house joints where the devil is in the details, crying out for a crisp soundsystem to bring the subtleties of sound design to life. "5th Snooze" is a more tightly wound affair with a subtle jazziness rubbed into its joints, while "Full Colour" brings the kind of funky bump and trippy mood you used to find on the Trapez label. "Liez" completes the set with a sharp approach that wriggles its way under the skin.
Review: Mulen's latest must-check release is a collaborative affair from experienced producer Alexis Cabrera (Raummusik, Salty Nuts, Yaji) and Jorge Saveretti (Esperanza, Visionquest, Cadenza). Given their collective history, you'll be unsurprised to learn that the "Some EP" is really rather good. They set their stall out via an impressive title track that wraps spacey but funky riffs, deep space pads and undulating acid lines around a memorable bassline and typically swinging tech-house beats). "KInda" tips a wink to the glitchy, bass-heavy sound of Romanian minimal techno and the swinging intergalactic tech-house funk of Paris's YYY label, while "Science" is a deep, woozy and wonky affair full of minor key bleeps, jazzy motifs and locked-in beats.
Review: Earthen Sea adds to the Kimochi Sound with a soulful examination of indistinct margins, suffused with dusky haze. It's a heady atmosphere and has a palpable heaviness throughout. Starting the record are the concrete reverberations of You Don't Never Know, followed by the murky ebb and flow of Fly. 13 Beat(less) is diffused ambience.
Shielding fittingly closes the record, and weaves Earthen Sea's many textures with intricate syncopation.
Review: Active for the past couple of years, Burnski's Instinct alter ego has been a revealing window into the ruder side of this seasoned producer's repertoire, and so it continues on round seven of this self-titled label series. The A-side jam "Operation" finds the Leeds stalwart in UK Garage mode, riding a mean bassline flex and amping up the 2-Step shuffle. Jack Michael takes up the B-side mission with a razor-sharp electro workout that matches bleepy electronica with badass breaks and nasty bass to get bodies freaking all over the joint. This is a record precision primed for basement sessions - if you're looking for some sounds to do real damage in the dance, look no further.
Review: Dutch minimal house Maestro Ion Ludwig makes a somewhat surprising yet absolutely worthy appearance on Raresh's Metereze imprint. The Deventer native's idiosyncratic sound shines on "A Better Future To Long EP", comprised of what the label describes as three "electronic mandalas". Mesmerising A side cut "140 KM/H" is reminiscent of his acclaimed live sets - a long and meandering cut that's perfect for a deeper stage of trance after hours. The title track on the flip is as rolling, bass driven and hypnotic as you like it, and introspective minimal house cut "Abstracy" with its subtle dub techno inflections calls to mind some of the material on his seminal "Ghost To Coast" LP. Killer!
Review: The SlapFunk crew have another new recruit for their mission to match minimal dance aesthetics with tough old-skool punch. Danish producer Martinez has plenty of experience having released everywhere from Guidance to Moon Harbour and Minibar, and he sounds right at home freaking the funk for the Dutch contingent. There's a straight up strut to the jacking drums on opener "Inter Species Relations", while "Aspired Commotion" slips into the kind of wriggling shuffle you'd expect from a SlapFunk release. "No Data" adopts a skippy 2-step stance with some eerie textures on top, and then "Shanty Town" finishes the record off with more swinging business peppered with delightful keys.
Review: Thomas Berg's Soundscape Versions presents the third instalment on sublabel Mystic Versions with four unknown cuts by different artists across the globe, produced and performed using all analogue hardware gear. Sublime dub techno experiments captured in all their glacial and cavernous intensity, from the deep minimalist groove of "A1", the thumping delay-drenched reduction of "A2" to the housey and uplifting feel good vibes of "A4" with its jazz-bar loops. It's about quality over quantity on Mystic Versions and the wait has most certainly been worth the while.
Review: Nebraska's Friends & Relations series continues to serve up the finest disco-sprinkled house delights, following on from the previous installment of Disco Dubs with another on point reduction of dusty grooves through the mixing desk. These jams are stripped back and oh so heavy, with FX flaring in all the right places to give an eerie, trippy tint to the jams. It's like walking into the deep end of the session where Walter Gibbons jams with King Tubby uptown, and you'd be right in thinking that's a match made in far-out disco heaven.
Review: Cartulis bounce from the essential release from Eliaz to this intriguing slab by Reade Truth, a New York techno original who was last spotted on Warm Fiction, Blkmarket Music and Path Records. His "Wires, Everywhere" album was a big release for Cartulis last year, and now he's back with further ruff n' tuff cuts that drip with Big Apple attitude. From the deep diving "Starflight" to the epic, ranging "Space Out (Expression)", you can sense Truth's hard earned swagger but it's also balanced out by subtlety, a sense of space and groove that makes each track a pleasure to sink into.
Review: London's Dream Diary are back, following up EPs by Afriqua and VTR with a debut from Ruven. Recorded during a weeklong lockout at the label's newly minted Octagon studio, "Horizyn" is a three-track "space overture" inspired by science fiction, Afro-futurist comics, and Eastern spiritual practice. On the A side we have the dub-inflected minimal house deepness of the title track, followed by the low-slung boogie breaks of "Lunaplex" and the mesmerising ambient journey of "Ajna".
Review: Matthias Tanzmann's Moon Harbour imprint presents a couple of hot remixes by duo Super Flu. Felix Thielemann and Mathias Schwarz originally released "Monaberry" back in 2007 - right around the time of the famed mid-noughties minimal boom. The track's name went on to become the title of their own imprint which they established a couple of years later before going on to produce for other esteemed labels such as Herzblut, Hommage and Mule Musiq. Featured here is an electrifying 2019 rework of the track, in addition to a tough rolling main-room tech house remix by boss man Tanzmann - and of course the original version.
Review: Russian producer Swoy has been spotted alongside Djebali in the past, so you know this cat means business when it comes to minimal house. Recent releases on EWax and OGE have set the scene perfectly for this latest trip into the undergrowth on Aesthetic. "Sunrise" is a heads down groover with subtle threads of melody scattered throughout, while "Imagine" ups the wriggling sound design and threads a lighter mood through the middle distance of the track. "Voltage" drops things back to a loopy, techy sound, and then "Time" drifts into dreamier headspace without sacrificing the crafty little production flairs that make Swoy a standout artist.
Review: Vinyl Speed Adjust have conquered a lot of labels in their time, ranging from BodyParts to Pressure Traxx, Visionquest to Pleasure Zone. Representing a different twist on the Romanian minimal sound, the pairing of Andrei Predoi & Claudiu-Eduard Balan now find themselves on Constant Sound dropping the subtly psychedelic tech house trip out, "Semantic Expressions". As if the trance-inducing original wasn't enough, we're also treated to gold-standard remixes from Mike Shannon and DoubtingThomas, both of whom bring their glittering score cards in the minimal fraternity to two distinct but complementary versions of Vinyl Speed Adjust's track.