Review: Some five years after re-launching his Crayon label via a fine EP of vintage "Tracks From The Vault", original 1990s tech-house producer Mark Ambrose serves up more gems from his bulging archives. The quality threshold remains dizzyingly high throughout. Check first the moody, back room dub of "Nightshift (Deeper Mix)", where gentle, alien synth lines and deep space chords tumble down over a heavy analogue bassline and locked-in beats, before turning your attention to "Space Animals", a deliciously dubbed-out affair rich in sub bass and drifting, deep space chords. If that's not enough, flip over and trance out to B side "Seduction" and finally, the slamming techno beats, looped electronics and mind-mangling TB-303 motifs of closer "Dusty Acid".
Review: The consistently great Olympos series reaches its fifth installment with none other than Aphrodite on the credits. The goddess of love is a marquee booking in this celestial scene, so expectations for the beats she yields are high. "Aligenis" makes for a strong opening statement as lysergic layers of effects processing and sound design writhe around a snaking techno backbone. "Enalia" nudges down into a more subterranean sound without losing that attention to detail, before "Morpho" swerves towards electro-flavoured beats without breaking the shroud of mystery and studio proficiency at work elsewhere on the EP. "Pitho" possibly saves the best til last - a simmering, subliminal ride through atmospheric percussion for the Dozzy-devotee crowd to get lost in.
Stanislav Tolkachev - "While You Are Drawing A Butterfly" (2:10)
Hoavi - "Aya Horizon" (3:57)
Review: Crimean label Krym Mryk returns with its sophomore release: a Various Artists collection putting the spotlight on several top musicians from Russia and Ukraine as well as a few newcomers to the scene. Highlights come fast and thick throughout; we're particularly loving the grinding cyclicality of Rim Menko's "Illusion", beatless yet hypnotic arpeggio workouts ("Amb Day Out" and "November Bad") by Pavel Milyakov (Buttechno), man of the hour Stanislav Tolkachev with slow-mo entrancer "While You Are Drawing A Butterfly" and Hoavi's "Aya Horizon", which closes the LP with its sublime ambience.
Review: Smoke Machine returns with a new split ep featuring two artists from the Organik festival stable: Agonis and Valentino Mora. This will be Agonis' second outing on the Taiwanese based label anda first for Valentino. Now 9 years in the running with a successful podcast and parties, this will be Smoke Machine's second release on their newly established label with many more to come.
Review: Always a reliable destination for cult talents operating on exciting frontiers of techno, meandyou this time shine a light on J.S. Zeiter, who adopts the Analog 1 alias for some dense, meticulously crafted trips into the strange psychedelic underbelly of dub techno. "SM4L" features pastoral chord swells straining behind a babbling brook of high frequency sound design, while "Mistral" takes a classical approach to ambient composition, all yearning arpeggios and lingering keys. "Interlude" is a brief twirl around blown out drums and textural impulses, and then "SKIV Loop (Rework)" sets a more positive tone for the end of the EP, pushing classic dub techno sounds into a hazy, summery space away from the usual icy tundra the genre normally inhabits.
Review: West Midlands techno legend Surgeon is said to have produced the material on the Raw Trax series at Amsterdam Dance Event last year, with only a PIN Electronics Portabella synth and a TR-909 drum machine. Road tested extensively during his live show over the last several months, this series is "a return to the pure essence of techno" - and that statement rings true throughout this 12". In this second volume you'll hear familiar sounds from Anthony Child that throws back to the seminal days of his eponymous EP, Pet 2000 or the Basictonalvocabulary LP: all conceived during his legendary House Of God residency back in the early 90s. From the fierce and strobed-out adrenaline of "Raw Trax 10" and "Raw Trax 5", to the brutalist overdriven thud of "Raw Trax 7" with its grinding acid bassline, and the hypnotic minimalism of closer "Raw Trax 6", this 12" is packed with proper purified Techno bangers by one of the genre's very best.
Review: Somewhat poetically, Anthony Naples describes his third album, "Fog FM", as a "house music transmission filtered through fluorescent static, from a station out of place and time". You'll certainly find some blasts of evocative radio static dotted around the album - see the drowsy wooziness of ambient numbers "Channel 2" and "Channel 3", not to mention the pops and crackles wrapped around sub-heavy, stripped back peak-time workout "Unhygenix" - but the lasting impression is of a smartly-produced set of mostly club-ready cuts that subtly doff a cap to many sub-genres of house and techno. It's a superb set, too, with highlights including the wayward techno intensity of "Benefit", the "Brown Album"-era Orbital heaviness of "Purple Iris" and the tough, dubbed-out deep house headiness of "Lucys".
Review: Some 20 years after "If" first hit stores, Jeff Mills has decided to get his old pal Terrence Parker to remix it. He's done a rather good job, with both versions making great use of Mills' ghostly original chord sequences and two different variations on the mesmerizing, seemingly drifting scat-style vocals that was arguably the track's most memorable feature. The A-side "Vox Soul Mix" includes new vocals in the original style by Marachka, whose haunting but soulful improvisations brilliantly rise above metronomic techno drums, spacey effects and those now famous chords. The similar sounding "Original Remix" is a little tougher and weightier, with tooled-up percussion (check the restless hi-hats) underpinning Anna F's original scat vocal and Mills' ethereal, ambient style chords.
Review: Newcomer Tom Dicicco aka Veyg presents an ear snagging selection of leftfield beatdowns here for adventurous spinners on the fringes of the party. "Mutual Romance" is a quivering, shimmering trip through crooked house beats and crunchy yet dubby synth flourishes to delight the mind. "Virgo Love Affair" has a sweeter lilt, but it's no less wayward in its execution, but then "Filling Pieces" heads into more explicit deep house territory with some blissed out melodic content riding atop a deep diving US-flavoured rhythm section. "How We Live" ramps up the meandering dub processing, with tripped out filter sweeps and panning lending a psychedelic edge to this smoked out joint.
Review: The Olympos series continues its exploration of godly themes and adventurous techno with a third instalment, this time calling on Demetra, the goddess of the harvest and agriculture. There's a consistently deep tone to all four of the tracks on offer here, employing swooping pads and undulating bleep lines to conjure up a warm, early 90s feel that would sound right at home on an early B12 single. "Pump It" is especially deep, using the barest of ingredients to take you on a dreamy, machine-powered trip.
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: Manni Dee might be best known for his upfront techno tackle on Perc Trax and the like, but he's also been quietly building up a separate identity as Nuances, and it's a world away from his dancefloor output. Following on from some choice album appearances on Bastakiya Tapes, it's up to Tabernacle to give the project its first outing on wax. While Tabernacle can have some range in their sound, this finds the label plunging wholeheartedly into ambient climes. Heavily processed textures and delicate chimes all feed into a truly evocative atmosphere loaded with significance. Ignore the familiar name behind the music - this is an album deserving attention all on its own.
Review: The Cyclist fires up his Tape Throb label for a sixth instalment of grubby, wayward sonics that pivot around a danceable axis while reaching to a higher plain of musical expression. There are plenty of psyched-out overtones bursting out of "Requite", and there's a rugged groove cutting its way through the dense thicket of ferric noise. "Chime" has a more tender approach in some regards, sporting a tropical lilt and sparser arrangement, but there's still plenty of space for artful distortion. "Brave New Wave" is a brilliant mish mash of peppy electro, early synth pop weirdness and that overall Cyclist sound that only he can conjure up. "Mackabee" goes in on that particular quality to finish the EP off in an evocative ambient lick sending out an SOS across a shoreline of grubby, tidal dub washes.
Review: Modal Analysis continues its unrelenting march towards the darkest territory in the electro landscape with this deadly 12" from Morah, which wastes no time in laying waste to the good vibes with the sinister stomp of "Voltage#1". The second track pumps up the rhythm section and lays down a sidewinder of a synth line that smacks of understated rave perfection, and it's that same synth that courses through the marginally more hypnotic "Voltage#3". Vapauteen offers up a remix of "Voltage#3" that slows the original right down and works a kind of mechanical tropicalia into the bones of the original.
Review: Hailing from the dark and mysterious world of Bunker Records, Shemale makes a welcome return after many years of silence with this fantastic release on Tabernacle. "Star Chamber Summoning" sets a powerful tone - this is ambient music that demands attention through its sheer force of presence. "Way To Hyperborea" actually taps up some kind of beat structure, but it still behaves like a wayward backroom track with its undulating bassline and gravelly, brutally submerged beat. "Shores Of The Western Sea" is all analogue soundtrack bombast of the finest B-movie kind, and "Wisdom Of The Stars" strikes a more nightmarish note in its use of discordant synth drones.
Review: Leeds based Bleaching Agent has been making a racket over at Opal Tapes, Komisch, Overlee Assembly and more in his time, but this appearance on Reposition marks the first we've heard from him in a while. The mood on "Free Fere Fer Fe" is boisterous but dynamic, while "Albeni" is more sharply chiselled. "To Tu Ti Tl H" switches gears with a reduced weirdo disco thrust that could do some serious damage. The D-56M remix of "Free Fere Fer Fe" is a bold reimagining as a trancey industrial deviation with a workable pulse.
Review: Having previously appeared on Vibraphone with the Isole Del Tramonto 12" back in 2016, Nick Anthony Simoncino returns to the perennial Italian deep house label with a full album, his fourth following previous turns on Thug, Mathematic and Creme Organization. As you would expect, Mystic Adventures is a masterclass of classic drum machines and synthesisers, loaded with the passion and mystery that Simoncino has always managed to imbue his music with. The highlights are too many to list - if you're familiar with his other work, then Simoncino has everything you need on this LP. If you're not already wise, these nine new tracks are a wonderful introduction.
Review: Moto Music round off a cracking year with this essential collection of deep diving techno finery from Bigeneric, one of Marco Repetto's many long-lasting aliases. The Swiss polymath is a dab hand at wringing illustrious machine soul out of his machines, whether it be crafty, head-snagging rhythms or plush and expressive threads of synth work, and on this double pack you get an abundance of both. With one foot firmly in the heritage of Detroit and the other gazing into the stellar orbit of the finest European techno dreamers, this is elegant, thoughtful electronic music of the highest order.
Review: The third release on Verdant frames AOS and Sonitus Eco opposite each other for an original production and a corresponding remix, plumbing the depths of submerged techno to dazzling effect. "Hubble" is a soothing lullaby of machine soul, which then receives a shot of adrenaline for the snappier "Red Shift" version. "Supernova" has a tougher framework, but the synths continue to reach for the stars with uplifting results. Then the "Blue Shift" version of "Supernova" taps up a melancholic house approach that wouldn't sound out of place on an early Kompakt release.
Review: A somewhat stealthy operator in UK techno, Miles Sagnia has quietly laid out a strong run of releases on Aesthetic Audio, Applied Rhythmic Technology and more over the past 10 years. Now he's back in the fray on his own Atmospheric Existence label with this assured slice of tripped out techno for those who like things looped up and driving. "Antiformin" is relentless in its construction, whipping up a transcendent kind of hard line techno for peak time psychedelic abandon. "Grace" is a smoother affair, drenched in gorgeous pads but still strapped to a rocket. This is true uncompromising techno, as steeped in soul as it is science.
Review: Following sterling entries from Derek Carr, John Shima and Mihail P, Distant Worlds reaches out to Perseus Traxx for a demonstration of the emotional heft and utopian optimism that classic techno promises in its most compelling moments. This is relatable, familiar territory, but executed with finesse beyond the reach of the average producer. "A New Mystery" is bathed in swirling synth tones as elegant as they are moving, while "Simulacra" places a bold square wave riff front and centre for an impactful deep techno meditation. "Circumstantial" reframes the same rich melodic approach in a frantic chassis of snapping beats darting around the grid with playful glee, and then "The Map Is Not The Territory" applies the same logic to a mystical but rhythmically charged trip into the netherworld of machine soul.
Review: Dream Diary is a label operating out of Brixton that has previously featured the likes of Afriqua, Tom Gillieron and Richie Littler on its roster, and now it's the turn of the head honcho Oslo Roma to serve up some more of that subversive four-to-the-floor business. "Mars Water" is an infectious minimal roller with bass that wraps itself around your cerebellum and pulls you in deeper, while "Bubbles" does the same but without any drums to buffet it along. "How Good Is The Party" is a more experimental affair that deals with off kilter rhythmic fragments and spaced out textures, leaving EP closer "Twotet" to drop a more immediate slice of electro on the situation.
Review: In what is surely an unexpected collaboration in the field of house and techno, Mosaic mastermind Steve O'Sullivan teams up with Ricardo Villalobos for a hypnotic trip through minimal landscapes that plays to both of their strengths. The rock-solid rhythm of "Sullric" surely belongs to O'Sullivan while the rich, subtle layers of samples, tones and other such sonic decorations come straight from the Villalobos school of production. The two mixes on this 12" only have minor differences - whichever side you drop things will get considerably deeper than they were previously. Of such ingredients are classy, immersive techno joints made.
Review: The sheer volume of New York maverick DJ Spider's back catalogue is as intimidating as the picture of the man himself holding a machete in the studio, but it's a rich and unpredictable treasure trove of leftfield techno. He makes an appearance on Thema with a record typically diverse in its make up. The opening track "Throwing Hairs" is a masterful trip through atmospheric, organic soundscapes with submerged ecosystems of sound rippling around deathly simple kick n hi hat pattern. His own rework of "Extropy" features similar smudged textures underneath, but the sweet nature of the chords makes for a killer foil to the murk. "The Final Revolution" gets into a tougher frame of mind, placing plenty of emphasis on the low end and letting fly with some seriously dishevelled percussion. "Distress Signal" is oppressive in its sense of desolation, all icy winds blowing into a kick propelled nothingness.
Review: While Robert Hood's Floorplan records have always been exciting and on-point, they have somehow got even better since his daughter Lyric joined him in the studio in 2015. The pair's latest gospel-sampling release is particularly potent, with both cuts sounding like peak-time anthems in waiting. We're particularly excited by A-side 'So Glad", a killer mixture of thumping techno grooves, dreamy deep house pads, looped piano snippets and brilliantly cut-up gospel vocals. That's not to say that the B-side is much weaker, though; in fact, with rasping preacher vocals, bustling Chicago house beats, mind-mangling organs and insatiable drum fills, it's arguably even bigger.
Review: Ste Roberts steps up with the second instalment on his self-titled label, once again burrowing into the more mysterious corners of the house and techno spectrum to deliver distinctive dancefloor gold for those who like their beats a little different. "The Circle" is a nocturnal affair that matches dark techno atmospherics with a rigorous housey bump, and the results are stellar. "AC" is equally tough, although in this instance the main ingredient is a rattling conga sample that has a raw, live and in the room quality that contrasts the unrelenting kick drum perfectly.
Review: Neil 'Nail' Tolliday's 89:Ghost label continues to deliver the goods, this time reaching out to Scandinavia and the considerable talents of Vesa-Matti Kivioja. The Finnish producer has been producing high-end electronic music for many years, not least in the ambient field, but here he's mining a particularly inventive style of dub techno that draws parallels with the mighty Porter Ricks in terms of sound design. Across all four tracks the drums act as a subtle counterpoint to dense thickets of texture and tone writhing with organic intent around the groove. As dancefloor friendly as it is brain-teasing, this is a seriously classy slice of dub techno immersion.
Review: Following on from a sterling bout by Luminer, Torino label We Play The Music We Love drop this bombshell from a hitherto unknown producer from their inner circle, Tomlin. The vibe is pumped up and acidic, with healthy notes of Italo and wave threaded into the mixture for good measure. "Rainy Dog" is bold and voluptuous while there's a nervy, brittle energy around "The Mugs Game" that should satisfy spinners looking for the freaky stuff. "Running With Foxes" is laden with playful arpeggios atop stripped back beats, while "Talk Fast" makes great use of some nifty vocoder work to create a reflective slice of braindance magic.
Review: It's been a hot minute since we heard something new from Och, but he's back on Autoreply with a double 12" of high-grade, stripped back tech house shot through with oodles of imagination. "Panamax" is the consummate dubby house track, a true immersion chamber of a track, while "The Sadness" brings a shuffling groove and some peppy key stabs to the table. "The Healer" is a more overtly minimal affair that would sound at home on PAL SL, while "Linear Response Function" keeps things tight and focused with a sturdy rhythmic framework and some spartan piano notes. "Incompressible Flow" has a submerged jazzy undercurrent to it, and "Lovers Roll" gets into that freaky house bounce heard on "The Sadness". Overall, it's another sterling grip of refined tracks from a seasoned pro.
Freakenstein - "Feakin' Time (+ Freak-A-Pella)" (7:24)
Review: Leeds-born session Hearlucinate makes the leap to wax with a special series of 12"s that correspond to line-ups for parties in London, spearheaded by resident Tristan da Cunha. On this first release, Dawl shores up on the A side and sets the bar very high indeed with the killer bleep techno stylings of "Energy Overdrive" and the tough, punchy electro of "Cyborg". Da Cunha himself follows up on the B side with the equally tough and thumping "Move (Let Me See U)", a seedy and sensual peak timer if we ever heard one. Freakenstein completes the set with a rabble-rousing booty bass beat down that will appeal to those who likes their electro fast and nasty.
Review: After first teaming up with Uzuri back in 2016, Italian producer Giorgio Luceri finally makes a return with a second part of his Space Fire Truth series. There seems to be a concept lingering in the presentation of the music, but let's focus on the sounds themselves. "Collinder 69 Funk" is an effervescent burst of uplifting energy with a groove that feels housey underneath plush Detroit techno synths. "The Early Morning Ouroboros" switches things up with a pacey, chopped up broken beat trip peppered with soulful vocals and instrumentation. "Kepler 16b" is a moodier affair that lets the techno side of Luceri's sound bleed through, and then "Tu Sei Il Maestro Dell'Eterno Ritorno" finishes the record off on a stirring, romantic tip with swooning strings aplenty.
Henry Hyde - "Every Day's A Good Day For A Swim" (6:18)
Review: The ever-charitable Needs project continues apace with another stunning cast of characters offering up their dancefloor creations to help a good cause - the environmentally-focused Cool Earth NGO. On this 12", Eris Drew delivers the uplifting breakbeat celebration of "See You In Snow", while Edward takes things deeper with the tripped out minimal house groove of "Mind Loop". D. Tiffany brings a particularly crafty approach to her own drum funk science on "Sun Trip" and Henry Hyde cools things down with the mellow, new age 2 step stylings of "Every Day's A Good Day For A Swim."
Review: Following rock solid entries from Ben Sims, Markus Suckut and Alan Fitzpatrick, Mosaic's Red Series continues apace in 2017 with a firing three-tracker from German scene stalwart Andre Kronert. "A Track Called Jinx" is a slow and nervy slice of bleepy techno that says a lot with the barest of ingredients. "The Bottom Line" is a more feisty concern, raising the tempo and the intensity without losing that loopy quality that shoots straight into the dark heart of the night. "Pressure Dub" represents the more experimental side of Kronert's output, using sparse materials to create a minimalist megalith.
Review: We're not sure who's behind the mysterious AC-EXP project, but the shadowy figure returns with more of that strange, submerged house music he's been tickling discerning DJs with over the past few years. After taking last year off, "1A" is a fine place to start things up again with a strutting jack track carrying acidic synth pulses that flirt with measured delay processing. It's a jam that sounds steamy and sinister all at once. "1B" maintains this restrained but seductive vibe with the slightly trancey throb of the lead synths pivoting around the snappy drums to great effect.
Review: Chris Weeks has been building up the Kingbastard catalogue for a long time now, generally taking a self-reliant approach in the underground electronica scene where CD-r releases reign supreme. He's been a key figure on Ambidextrous since the label launched back in 2008, and now he's committed to wax with a range of crunched up leftfield sonics for the machine-loving crowd. "Anxiety" is a melodic cut with a house-minded structure, but there's a lot of production acrobatics and compositional swerves taking place within this framework. "Scatterbrain" is more overtly out there, tapping up the kind of heavily processed sounds that producers like Paradroid have championed in the past. "Data_Loss" strike a heavy blow somewhere between dubstep and electro, and "Data_Ctrl" ups the tempo for a rabble-rousing exercise in mind-bending machine music.
Review: Ali Renault's techno bludgeon instrument Vivod gets another notch in its handlebar with this appearance from new Glaswegian venture UNI.OMNI. It's rasping, rabid stuff with distortion and noise in abundance, but these wild elements are actually wielded with a firm grip on opening beast "Acceptance Resistance". "Metaphysical Lives" meanwhile channels some wave influences while keeping up the sense of foreboding, "Sequential Self" gets into a death disco spiral complete with beyond the grave vocals and "Viral Dread" goes even further into the graveyard while keeping the stiff dancefloor pressure dial turned up to 11.
Review: Following the excellent OHM compilation, Glasgow's Ambidextrous label continues its forays into vinyl editions with this sterling EP from label regular Solipsism, aka Craig Murphy. With an energised, dynamic sound that positively bursts out of the speakers, Murphy is flying the flag for leftfield electronica coming out of Scotland. "Error Hash Mirror Mountain" has the kind of overloaded yet melodic sound that you might expect from early Nathan Fake, although the wooziness is replaced by a rabid punch that shakes your cerebellum. "Sea Dweller" by way of stark contrast dives into a low-slung trip hop vibe, and the smoked out mood continues with "Hypnagogo" on the flip. "Fast Rubber Taxis" is equally slow, but it sports a sassy rhythmic strut that sets it apart from the other two downtempo tracks.
Review: The latest release on DJ Bone's Subject Detroit label is a split 12" featuring Esteban Adame and Santiago Salazar. This is how they do techno, Californian style, and you can tell it from the off. The beats are tough as hell, but there's a sun-kissed vibrancy to the synth work that positively leaps out of the speakers and shakes your cerebellum. Adame leads on the A side with "Guaguanco", an effervescent stomper that takes a turn for the deep when Frequencia jumps on board for a remix. Salazar is in a housey frame of mind on "October 17", letting smooth pads lead the way without losing that all-important impact. The "Dub mix" of the track actually beefs things up with a grinding lead synth pitched at big room scenarios while maintaining a steady tempo.
Review: Eddie Fowlkes is one of Detroit's finest, still working doggedly to push his own distinct spin on the Motor City sound. He's taking no prisoners on this latest 12" on his own Detroit Wax label, bringing a tough and righteous rhythm to the foreground on "Give It Up For My DJ" with some of those head-spinning melodic flourishes that are his trademark. "Love Works" is a crooked groover that piles the bass on generously and keeps the swing up high - if this one doesn't get bodies jerking then nothing will. No-one does it quite like Fowlkes, and he's on impeccable form here.
Review: The low-key but long-serving D2B steps up on a self-manned label to deliver two surefire club smashers for those who appreciate the grit and soul of proper Detroit techno. "My Love" on the A side is the friendlier cut, its taut machine rhythms embellished with dextrous synth work from pulsing chords to simmering strings, all shot through with a smoky after hours haze. On the flip side, D2B gets a little rawer with the component parts of the track, jacking up the drums and spacing out the arrangement for a more intense workout that should satisfy anyone who wants techno with personality that still smacks hard.
Review: The Bassiani label is the platform for the infamous Georgian club to present its sound to the wider world, and it does so in fantastic fashion with this run of various artist releases. This fourth release kicks off with the dark, textured and brilliantly rendered techno immersion of Cassegrain's "Departure Seven", while Ersatz Olfolks gets a little more heated with the strafing synth work that courses out of "Straight Road". Hector Oaks is also in a rowdy frame of mind with the peak time belter "Move In Circles, Walk On Lines", and it's down to Thomas Hessler to cool things off with the heart-rending electro of "Memories".
Review: Fresh from delivering the "Dance Music" trilogy of 12" singles, NYC native Levon Vincent returns to action with an EP of untitled tracks. It's an impressively melodious and ear-pleasing affair, with the Berlin-based producer's no-nonsense house and techno drums being smothered in a variety of tuneful synthesizer lines, fuzzy but futuristic electronics and warm basslines. Picking highlights is tough, but we'd suggest starting with the bubbly analogue bliss of "Track 1" before moving on to the chunky goodness of "Track 3", where cheery lead lines dance above non-stop bass and crispy machine drums. Elsewhere, "Track 4" sounds like a tribute to the soundtrack to forgotten early '90s Commodore Amiga game "Fire and Ice" and "Track 2" is a heartwarming rush of luscious lo-fi lead lines and unfussy drums.