Review: HVL has landed on many different labels in recent years, but Rough House Rosie will always be something of a spiritual home for the adventurous deep electro and techno craftsman. Across the Hidden Valley EP he displays a fluid, instinctive approach to composition - "Enslaver" rolls out like a live jam but the detail and control embedded in the track is astounding. "Distom Spook" is charged with nervous acidic energy, while "Lemon Stealer" takes things in a more experimental direction with all manner of snaking synth voices wriggling around a crisp electro beat. "Crow Hill" finishes the EP off with a slow, rolling breakbeat groove and hazy pads for a quintessential B2 wind-down session.
Review: The Shahr Farang label is always an interesting one to check in with, sometimes veering towards fragile ambience as much as intriguing beat constructions. Here, label mainstay Sohrab invites Erik Jahaali to join in on the tough yet atmospheric thrust of "Industriegebiet", before he goes it alone on the moody beatless blanket of sound that is "Fasseleh". Jahaali is back on board for "Skypainter," which pivots around dusty pads and subtle, snaking rhythms in the deepest techno tradition. "Dayi Mohsen" is the surprise of the record, dropping into a Mo Wax style funk that should soothe all manner of chill out room scenarios.
Review: Thus far all we know about Wilson Phoenix is pressed into the previous two records the anonymous operator has released so far in 2018. That should be enough for techno heads with their ears to the ground - this is rough and ready hardware business for those who like it nasty. While not perhaps as willfully unhinged as Neil Landstrumm, it's very much in that sonic ballpark, not least on relentless acidic opener "Between Mars." Things get a little freakier with the pinging electro delights of "Moon Machine" before the rowdy rave beast "Exo Planet" levels the landscape with some brutal synth stabs that would sound at home on an early The Prodigy record.
Review: It's been a little while since we last heard from Donnell Knox, but he's back in action finally on his regular haunt Sonic Mind with some of that evergreen US techno tackle that he's forged a long and winding career out of. "No Time" is steeped in the smoky pads of the Motor City, with a rugged rhythm section and errant bleeps thrown in to seal the deal. "Rat Race" takes things in a more housey direction, but there's still a certain mysticism that reaches beyond the average club banger. "Sick Mind" continues the theme, but ties more knots in the programming to make for another essential slice of techno, and then "Repetition" finishes the job with a razor sharp slice of sky-scraping hardware science.
Review: Kalbata is a delightfully unpredictable fellow, one minute turning out slick tech house with Guy Gerber and the next starting a dancehall riot with Warrior Queen. His long and varied career continues following a recent spot on Optimo Trax with this first 12" on Brush & Broom, a new label that is housing some particularly straight up 4/4 jams from the prolific producer. "Obskuur" has a clue in the name, plying a trade in the kind of furtive deep techno that ekes tension out of the most ambivalent of crowds with its oh-so-slow but powerful sense of progression. "Rumoured" has a broader palette, letting undulating threads of melodic synth work slither around the subby, minimal percussion.
Review: Alexander Kowalski has been immersed in techno for a long time, and his sound is massively representative of the reduced, late night Berlin sound. As d_func. he's contributed many times to Marcel Heese's Finitude label, and now he's back to pay tribute to UK free party techno legends Spiral Tribe. Kowalski's own interpretation may be more minimal and hypnotic than the wild, raucous energy Spiral Tribe was best known for, but his trancey approach comes on like a nostalgic vision into the early 90s, while also aligning with the modern masters such as Donato Dozzy and Peter Van Hoesen.
Review: Argy's These Days label is an occasional treat in the world of stripped down tech house, and it makes its first appearance for 2016 with a selection of club-ready remixes from the label boss, tackling various productions from German techno mainstay Paul Brtschitsch. The "Floor Adaptation" of "Green" heads into subterranean pastures, albeit with a powerful beat propelling it, and "Eternal Aspects" maintains that underground mood with a warmer synth repertoire. On the more flamboyant B-side, "Squeezed" takes on a wild old-skool quality perfect for more fiery moments on the floor before "Subbass" continues the jacking theme in fine style.
Review: After launching last year with Who, Get Your Copy returns to the fray with a little help from Italian powerhouse Steve Murphy. The producer gets plenty of action on labels like Hot Haus, Chiwax, Lobster Theremin and more besides, so you know you're going to get a solid dose of tuff house business delivered with that gutsy Roman attitude. "Everything U Know" channels an abundance of 90s vibes, from the nagging chord stab to the understated speech sample, while "Infiltrator" takes a tribal direction without losing the old-skool flavour. Both cuts are perfectly shaped for the dance, whether you want to hit a peak time note or take the crowd deep into the groove.
Review: Following an appearance last year on Cabrera, Santiago Naura is back on his own label to expound his vision of modernist techno even further. "Dust (Mix 1)" is a pumped up workout, all muscular drums and bold, chiseled synth hooks shimmering around the rhythmic core. "Dust (Mix 2)" is a more heads-down affair that locks into a cyclical groove for the late night crowd to lose themselves to. "Element" presides over the B side with a deeper approach that makes great use of interplay between different textures and tones to create energy and momentum while keeping the drums on the straight and narrow.
Review: A new label and a new artist throwing their hat into the techno ring with a sideways reference to A Certain Ratio. Do The Du clearly mean business, and waste no time in laying down the law with the rowdy snarl of "Verses", a punky slice of lo-fi techno from the gutter. "Senses" is a more tightly wound, looped up affair for the most nerve-jangled of dancer, while "Sauro" makes mincemeat of the house music blueprint with a wonderfully distorted twist on the genre. "Aicee" gets the whole B-side to trance out on a submerged, throbbing 303 burner and subtle drum jack that harks right back to the early days of Phuture.
Review: Melbourne's Short Black label has been relatively sporadic with its releases up until now, having started back in 2013 with Matt Kennedy's Together At 2am EP and dropping the third release on the label back in 2016, Rustal's Privilege. Hopefully this excellent new transmission from newcomer Tristan Kino will be the start of more productivity from the crew. The EP starts off in fine style with the nervy, reduced acid twitch of "Yggdrassil", while at the other end of the record "Niddhog" presents a tougher, darker throwdown crafted for seedy techno dancefloors. Johannes Volk has been snapped up for remix duties, and does a sterling service with the metallic clang of his version of "Niddhog".
Review: Veteran maverick Elbee Bad pops up in ever-unpredictable places, but somehow he sounds just right on Thema. His fearless, deeply rooted take on house music defies imitation, and so it goes across this full-fat EP. "Request Monster" is a lazy groove embellished with strings protesting the culture of requests in the club, while "A Lot Of Jazz As A Child" doffs its cap to Sun Ra in a subtle way that manages to be both mechanical and free-flowing. "If EYE Was From The D" is a more overtly electronic production that sits somewhere in between acid, techno and deep house. "Crossing Dimensions" is an uplifting workout with a sweet vocal turn from an unknown source, and then "Jami Jam Dubb'd" finishes the record off with a primal set of ingredients working round a stout kick.
Review: Amid whispers of a new album from Unirhythm boss and Three Chairs stalwart Marcellus Pittman, two tracks from his excellent debut LP Pieces finally get committed to wax. It's a shame Pieces never got a vinyl release, but the chance to grip "Sneak Attack" and "Random Acts Of Insanity" on 12" should not be passed up. This 12" was actually released in 'blink and you'll miss it' white label format in 2014, but finally gets a proper issue! For those that don't have the LP, "Sneak Attack" is a curious concoction, with Syclops style electronics occasionally flowering over deep, dusty, intricately programmed rhythms. "Random Acts Of Insanity" feels a little bolder in approach, though its' rich chords and odd, off-kilter rhythm track are contrasted with some notably bonkers electronic touches.
Andy Rantzen - "The Dial" (Itch-E & Scratch-E mix)
Laccy - "Spectrum Of Vibrations"
Laccy - "Coincidence Of Opposites"
Review: The fourth installment on Spinning Plates comes from Andy Rantzen and Laccy, featuring a wealth of off-beat techno adventures for wayward souls. Rantzen is an Australian producer with a history remixing the likes of Severed Heads and working alongside Paul Mac as Itch-E & Scratch-E. His lead track "Digital Elf" is a stripped a raw beats n' bleeps workout, while "The Dial" finds Mac chipping in as they rework the track into a deadly old-skool burner for lovers of bleep techno. Laccy has only had one prior outing to date, but sounds in strong form on the sleek and crafty "Spectrum Of Vibrations" and delightfully freaky "Coincidence Of Opposites".
Review: After bringing Kangaroo Skull and Cale Sexton to light on previous releases, Temporal Cast once again provides a platform for lesser known talent with this, their third release. Born in Italy and based in Australia, Chiara Kickdrum has only had one digi-only EP out in her name previously, so this release marks a big milestone for her. "Pulsar" is a subtle and refined opening gambit, using a reduced set of cyclical rhythms and draping distant pad notes over the top of it for a perfect exercise in techno elegance. "Moebius" is at the other end of the spectrum, all bloated drums and cavernous reverb decays creating a monolithic atmosphere. "Anomaly" meanwhile maximises on negative space, using a dry drum palette and keeping things firmly submerged - the whole EP is a masterclass of restraint and control.
Review: Nereid appears out of the techno mists on the newly minted Warped Core label shrouded in mystery, with subtle monochrome head twisters to match. "Umea" leads the charge on the A side with an ethereal trip into dubby soundscapes filled out with plentiful reverb and pattering rhythms to snake straight into your cerebellum. "Operator" has an instructive bass throb carrying it along, although it imparts a similar steely aesthetic to the opening track. "Neptune" is no slouch either, using nagging mid-range percussion and eerie bleeps to spell out stern, functional techno of the deepest kind.
Review: Doing things properly and building up a DIY phenomenon from their base in Zurich, the Les Points crew have brought a fresh, daring originality to the house and techno scene with their gritty outboard approach and a wide range of stylistic tendencies. Taking a break from releasing on their own label, Audino, Barbir, Louh and Nicola Kazimir have been invited to the evergreen Trelik to broach their music to a wider audience. From the blissful space techno groove of "Anubis" to the tightly wound beats of "Housepacer" and on to the cranky acid funk of "Ripstyle", this is yet another distinctive transmission from the plucky Swiss crew.
Review: Modeselektor are clearly keen to make 50 Weapons' last few releases as strong as possible. For this 12", they've turned to Berlin techno titan Shed, who - somewhat predictably - more than delivers the goods. "Dark Planet" is a thick, tough and driving beast, with chopped-up, manipulated vocal snippets forming a quirky melody line above a thumping rhythm that neatly combines pounding kick-drums and hissing cymbals. This is no-nonsense, floor-friendly techno that comes laden with sly funk. Modeselektor themselves have a go at remixing it on the flip, delivering a far weirder, wilder, stranger and - bizarrely - more melodious 'broken techno' interpretation.
Review: You have to admire Laurent Garnier's continued desire to push boundaries and confound critics. His plan to devote 2014 to releasing five EPs on five different labels, whilst mixing up the styles, is undoubtedly bold. This three-tracker for the ever-intriguing 50Weapons imprint is particularly impressive. "MILF" bristles with stuttering analogue rhythms, foreboding chords and attractive bleep melodies, coming on like an unlikely jam session between Sweet Exorcist and Orbital. "DSK" sees the French veteran moving further towards his techno roots, while "He" sounds like an homage to darkwave with techno overtones and more than a hint of stripped-back early Chicago acid. Bravo Monsieur Garnier, bravo!
Review: The headspace Area's Kimochi Sound label inhabits is very much compatible with that of Rough House Rosie, and both labels have similar legacies of championing unsung talents. Now Area appears on Rough House Rosie with some of his beguiling abstractions on the deep, smoked out techno blueprint, and it's a match made in heaven. "Sweated" courses through a mysterious landscape of blown out low end riffs and distant textures, while "Still Moving Away" locks into a steadfast techno roll that complements the lingering notes hovering overhead. "Vicious Like A Koala" is a minimal workout based around an unusual drum set and a looming one-note bassline, and "Tessellated Rhubarb" finishes the EP off with some haunting ambient musings.
Review: Charles Noel has been enjoying a resurgence of late, with his early explorations as Archetype resurfacing on a number of reissue labels. Future Primitive have tapped Noel up for two cuts that typify his left-of-centre approach, leading in with the sharp-edged beat excursion "Form Of Change" that will appeal to all lovers of reduced, off-kilter rhythm workouts. "A Mental Image" adopts a softer stance, laying out a bed of silken pads and errant tweaks that tap into the head-tripping mood of vintage techno while maintaining the future-minded thrust that makes true machine music timeless, whichever era it was crafted in.
Review: Eric Cloutier launched Palinoia last year with a single of his own, but now he's turned to Berlin mainstays Exercise One to lay down some of their trademark psychoactive machine music for the second installment. "Heptagon" sports metallic synth notes clanging out over a freight train of techno drums, while "Prism" takes a more nimble approach to twist out its various synthetic squeaks. "Nitrogen" is a warmer proposition, placing the emphasis on chords and melodies while still aiming squarely at the dancefloor. "Thirty Four" finds the duo veering away from the 4/4 dogma to deliver a captivating kind of broken techno in a soundscape loaded with tension and ominous empty space.
Review: The second collectible EP out of three, arriving on double white 10" vinyl, and containing tracks from Jon Convex's debut album, Idoru sees another four hard hitting fusions of techno and contemporary bass music. Unlike the first EP, which was surprisingly melodic, these tracks aim squarely at the floor, with "What I Need" a heavy tom-led piece of Detroit influenced techno, and "Aversion" providing some tracky functionalism. "Desolation" and "Four Faces" meanwhile provide some bleak electro dystopianism, much indebted to his Autonomic heritage.
Review: US veteran and all round champion of any genre he turns his hand to, Freddy Fresh is still immersed in the game and slinging out essential jams at a rate of knots. He dons his Modulator guise for two tracks on this latest 12", keeping things decidedly raw and letting the machines do the talking. This is stripped back robot music, all primal drum machine rhythms and errant synth bleeps for synthetic souls. On the B side Fresh represses a track produced in collaboration with Paul Mix, which was originally released back in 1996. It's not hard to see why it's so in demand on the second hand market - a spellbinding slice of ambient techno from the golden era of the genre.
Review: The Poverty Is Violence stable are firmly established now as an essential conductor for rabid, rowdy and downright rasping mechanics from subterranean operators of all shapes and sizes. Anonymous but reportedly veteran Dutch producer XXX previously appeared on the label in 2016 with the wild Noorder Scannen 12", and now returns with a bludgeoning new release. There's a consistent metal grind to the percussion on Westzaan Doelen, while the synth tones in between tend towards the jagged and abrasive, there's space and poise in the arrangement to lift this out of knuckleheaded noise. "Don't Go After Her" reverberates with clamouring intensity while the beefy chassis of "Just The Two Of You" shimmers under an acidic glaze - this is full-tilt deviant music executed with finesse to match the grime.
Review: Nereid strip away the noise and focus on the music - an anonymous project by design on a self-manned label. This is faceless techno through and through, from the monochromatic artwork to the steely machinations of the music. It's far from a dry ride though - "Charon" leads the EP in confidently atop a snaking acid line that pulses between spacious percussion and some artfully placed atmospherics. "Sonic Boundary" is an exercise in spatial design, letting the reverbs bloom into an edgeless void for true transcendence, while "Alluvial Plains" boils the ingredients down to a minimal but motivated reduction. "Terminus" finishes the EP off on a nervous tryst with crooked rhythms and strafing acid lines swirling into an amorphous whole.
Review: SORN002 welcomes another experimental beat maker tot he fold. Asan is likely from another planet. His take on techno is like no other. Expect wild drum patterns, freaky synths and alien grooves. Synth Lord Steve Moore strips things back in a way only he can and creates an arpeggiated synth journey which you'd never tire of, even if it was 45 minutes long!
Review: Grooveboxx is a new label launched from the Parisian underground with a focus on fresh, invigorating rhythms with an outernational focus. The label's leading lady Myako opens this first 12" up with the dynamic, dusty adventure of "Salvia Cosmica", which makes for the perfect scene setter before Aleqs Notal throws down a tougher set of tumbling tribal drums. Myako then returns with "La Danza De La Risa", another subtle, poised and tantalizing rhythm track, before Geena trips things out on the heavy effects bliss out of "Selva Spirit". Myako's closing statement, "La Jungla Encantada", is a spaced out affair marked by Spanish speech and fragmented rhythmic hiccups - a cinematic end to an evocative release.
Review: Adam Marshall has been a part of the worldwide techno movement since about the same time as Mike Dreben; the pair's tunes have been hitting our shelves since the early days of Juno, and so we feel that they have been a special part of our development over the decades. They appear out of nowhere for the BLUE imprint, out of Canada, by slamming down some furiously penetrative techno bruisers with a minimalistic touch and feel. Dreben's first 2 cuts are wild and fast, tumbling over their own kicks and snares as the toxic levels of bass are released over tight, dance-centric grooves. Marshall's "Avalokitesvara" reigns supreme on the B-side, hitting harder and more direct comparted to Dreben's stripped-back feel, with a heavy succession of kicks and snares hitting down extra hard. Finally, some proper techno runnings!
Review: After a long, well-publicised farewell, Modeselektor's 50 Weapons label finally bits the dust, bowing out with a release from the owners. For the fiftieth and final record, the German pair have recruited long-time Rhythm & Sound vocalist Paul St Hilaire. He brings his baleful, shanty style delivery to the intense, rolling title track, and if anything tempers the intensity of the massive, shimmering chord builds that unfold as "Trees" progresses. On the other side, there's "50 Trees". On this occasion, Modeselektor decide to drop out the beats and the listener is left to contend with dark, textured sound scapes, a chilling but evocative goodbye to one of techno's key imprints.
Review: 'White of the Eye' is the first release under "Nothing but Blood" from Scott Fraser, a direct link back to Scott's earlier 90's work and sound around the darker realms of techno and harder-edged Chicago house. The EP title refers back to a favourite Donald Cammell film of Scott's from 88'. 'White of the Eye' on the A-side is an 11 minute extended mix of the lead cut. Silent Servant on remix duties delivers an amyl fuelled techno bomb landing somewhere in an 80's new york basement. Diving deeper on B2 it features Atlanta resident Claire Elise Tippins on vocals.
Review: Having debuted on Valcrond Video label last year with the Immured 12" under her familiar Xosar alias, Sheela Rahman now returns to the platform for some "shared make-believe" with founder Luke Wyatt for new project Body Tools. Taking a catalogue number as its title, this two track 12" follows a succession of Body Tools radio broadcasts on Berlin Community Radio and showcases a softer, more hypnotic side which in the case of lead track "Locusts & Lions" hits hard when the poignant piano makes its presence felt. "Brave" channels a strange, modern kosmische vibe that will really hit the spot deep in the mix.
Review: It's early days for Jakob Panthel and his Faune alias, but he more than steps up to the plate as London label Ornate Music invite him to present his vision for immersive, techno tinged deep house. "5.34 AM" is aptly named, the undulating chord pulse at the heart of the track aiming for the woozy hour of the dance before dawn breaks through. "Reduit" is a more sprightly affair, using similar ingredients but pushing a brighter line in synths amidst the raw drums. "Grindewald" meanwhile heads out into more ambient techno territory with its plush pads and snaking arpeggios, soothing the feisty club-ready energy of the previous two tracks.
Review: Moon Temple is Gabriel Andruzzi, who some of you may know as the former bass player/saxophonist and engineer from New York City (via San Diego) outfit The Rapture. This nine track album is Andruzzi's first release under this alias and comes in two volumes. According to Willie Burns WT Records, the album is a collection of "delicate interludes, acid stompers and weirdo spastic mechanical marches." Starting out with the chilling dark ambient intro "Approaching The Inner Temple", he then gets stuck into the deep acid techno jam "Sea Of Crisis" (which brings to mind the sounds of Tin Man) while "Bay Of Rainbows" goes for the jugular on this adrenalised 303 thriller.
Review: Mudkid is a pseudonym for German producer Franklin de Costa and this is his third 10-inch release under this name for house label Greta Cottage Workshop. While he initially gained recognition during the minimal boom of the mid-00s, this release resounds to a different sound. Both tracks are robust and rolling, underpinned by tough tribal drums and system-levelling basslines. However, it's what De Costa adds to these basic arrangements that really make this release stand out. Swirling textures, outer-space bleeps and sonic whooshes that glide in like airplane on their final descent over a housing estate towards the flight path, all make this a most unusual house record.
Review: Green Village has already proven itself to be a trusted outpost for all kinds of adventurous souls in the US house and techno game. Transmitting out of Jersey City, the label now invites Ali Asker to serve up a mixed bag of treats. "Standards" heads into classic electro territory, while "Concatenate" swerves into strange, fractured lands somewhere between deepest techno and outright tropical ambience. "Ascent" is a celestial soarer, all achingly beautiful arpeggios and sub bass pressure, which DJ Spider then drags into one of his knotted grooves. Patrice Scott's version is understandably lighter, favouring his trademark strain of soul-stirring deep house as a framework for whispers of the original to dart around.
Review: Leipzig producer Lootbeg has been spotted in the past flaunting his cosmic, melodically enchanting emo-techno on labels like Crow Castle Cuts and Tieffrequent. Now he comes to the burgeoning Sensu label with some of his most powerful productions to date, leading in with the euphoric, sky-scraping "The Travel To Planet Trance". "Cydonia Mensae" follows close behind with some equally lofty tones that position Lootbeg squarely in the stratosphere, while "Eupen" changes tact for a more introverted but no less harmonically rich composition that pushes the rhythm section to the foreground. A collaboration with Blinds, "Relate" edges closer to a deep house outlook with its warm lead lines and dusty jacking beats.