Review: By his usual prolific standards, Romanian producer Barac Nicolae has been rather quiet this year. "The Real You Is Not You", a double-pack of varied dancefloor cuts in his trademark minimal style, is only his second outing of the year. It's rather good, though, with sparse but groovy rhythm tracks providing the backing for all manner of ear-pleasing musical touches and mind-altering electronic effects. Our picks of the bunch are the funky, dreamy and sun-kissed hypnotism of "A Story Behind Everything" and the tipsy wonkiness of the title track, where trippy vocal samples and blissful synth riffs rise above an undulating, off-kilter groove.
Review: Holden's 2006 debut album was an astonishing one that gets a timely reissue on double crystal-clear splatter vinyl. A high watermark for proudly synthetic and computer made music, it was the bold arrival of an artist who endures as an innovator to this day. "The Idiots Are Winning" is a masterclass in unhinged grooves, glitchy electronic sounds and mutant sounds that set a new benchmark in experimental textures, sound design and dance floor clout. "Idiot" is the standout banger, "Lump" is more trippy and heat workout, and "10101" is the twitchy and mesmeric workout you cannot escape. Music as idiosyncratic as this doesn't come along too often, and even 13 years left it still sounds fresh.
Review: The new incarnation of the famous fabric mix series serves up a big one here with Ibiza kingpins and US house torchbearers The Martinez Brothers laying down a fulsome 23 track mix. It brims with the sort of energy that they always have themselves in the booth and takes you on a contemporary trip through the bendy minimal of Cabanne, Frak's percussive workout and some tropical curveballs from The Bayara Citizens. The Brothers also impress with two of their own tracks - "Jam Joint" and "Mistakes" - full of wonky synth work and shuffling drums, and it marks another highpoint in their longstanding career.
Review: It's hard to believe that Enzo Siragusa's Fuse label has now been carving out its own niche in the tech house world for a full decade. To mark the occasion, the label boss has pulled together more key tracks for his second volume of "A Decade of Rave". This compilation is another treasure trove of club cuts that feature the main man alongside some of his key associates, Rich NxT, Rossko, Archie Hamilton and Seb Zito. The tracks are unwaveringly dubbed out and driving, with weighted bottom ends that will get any moody dancer moving. From warms up to peak time to afterparties, these are hugely versatile tracks.
Review: EYA Records presents a double 12" of plush techno and house spanning styles, giving four producers the chance to showcase the breadth of their sound with two tracks each. Innershades brings emotive 90s swoon and peppy acid to the A side, before Two Phase U slips in a little uptempo robo-disco sauce and a feisty jack track. Otis takes things in the direction of wiggy proto-trance and bleep techno, and then Zots finishes up with freaky synth work dripping with mischievous personality. This is a set of tracks that demands to be noticed - don't sleep.
Review: Having built up his self titled label alongside his sterling work as part of Oscillat, Lazare Hoche and Will & Ink, the one and only Malin Genie delivers his debut solo album. Moving beyond the pure club focus of his singles and EPs, the Genie has seized this opportunity to present a widescreen panorama of his sound, leading in with the subliminal ambience of "You" as a springboard to explore breaks, electro, techno, and especially IDM. There are so many ideas swirling round Anthropomorphic Sympathy, it's hard to know where to begin describing it. A true headphone commute for the deep listener to burrow into.
Review: Four years ago, Vincent Lemieux + Guillaume & The Coutu Dumont made their collaborative debut as Flabbergast via a fine EP on Circus Company. They've been silent since, meaning that this belated sequel on Yoyaku feels like a big release. "Enweye" operates towards the deeper end of the stripped-back tech-house spectrum, with the duo wrapping intergalactic synthesizer melodies around rock solid kick drums, crashing cymbals and fluid tribal percussion on impeccable opener "Nowel". "Jowanne" is arguably even deeper, with cascading ambient lead lines tumbling down over a shuffling rhythm track and more tropical drum hits. Over on side B, Varhat offers his interpretation of "Nowel", in the process delivering a loose-limbed tech-house percussion jam with hazy, sun-kissed melodies occasionally rising above the sweat-soaked beats.
Review: When Cristi Cons and Vlad Caia launched the Amphia label way back in 2011, they talked about creating "a world with no boundaries" and "an infinite ocean of musical shapes and ideas". It's the sort of wide-ranging, open-ended remit that seems tailor made for Amorf, an "experimental live techno" trio whose fluid and otherworldly tracks are deliciously hard to pigeonhole. For proof, check "Recall", the A-side to their second Amphia outing. Built on loose and languid tech-house drums and a similarly undulating bassline, the cut bobs and weaves through waves of restless piano motifs, deep space chords and out-there electronics. Further evidence of the threesome's hybrid style arrives via "Momentum", where poignant electric piano motifs and melancholic deep house chords envelop a crunchy, minimalist rhythm track.
Review: British artist Desert Sound Colony appears outside of his brilliant Holding Hands imprint here with a new one for Scenic Route - a new London-based label and party run by Bryce's Brother, Jon Phonics and Sean OD. Real name Liam Wachs, his productions have gained support from a wide variety of DJs such as Midland, Raresh, Andrew Weatherall and Lena Willikens, and you can count his new EP "Cartogropher" as another guaranteed dancefloor killer. The A side houses the title track - a fierce, rolling, bass-heavy backroom dub, followed by the trippy and off-kilter UK vibe of "Gypsy Moth (feat. Guava)" plus deep minimalist concentration of "Budapest" on the flip.
Review: Iranian born and now Ibiza-based scene stalwart Nima Gorji of NG Trax returns to Bondage-Music after nine years to present his first EP. "White Metal Rat EP" boasts a quartet of vinyl-only tech house weapons. We're particularly enjoying the entrancing polyrhythmic groove of "Love You Feel", slinky and seductive late night deepness of "In Da Dessert" and the groovy minimal funk of "Like This", which is perfect mood music for the warm-up or afterhours.
Review: Arapu is very much one of the key Romanian artists of the moment. Of course, like his revered countrymen, that means techno that is elegant, minimal, and delicately detailed. His own take on the style is often littered with curious little motifs and trippy loops that also characterise this new one on heavyweight vinyl for Liniar. "Over" is a brilliant opener with languid Balearic guitar riffs echoing over supple drum work which will hook you in and encourage your mind to wander, whereas "A Gain" is a more direct, driving minimal techno cut with warped synths peeling off an urgent groove. "I" closes out with a funky undercarriage and dub house overtones that will get any basement popping off.
Review: No-nonsense German label EXT has gone back to basics here, delivering their first split-artist EP since 2016. DJ Gonzo and Dr Yes handle side A, unfurling a tactile but wonky techno jack-track ("Ring Center") full of jaunty, all action synth-bass, bleeping computer electronics, fluttering synth riffs and clanking drum machine beats that doff a cap to both Chicago jack and Motor City futurism. Rough Thought takes over on side B, charging through a bustling combination of rising and falling intergalactic synth lines, deep space chords, surging arpeggio bass and a drum track so sweaty that it could have been laid down by a drummer who has just downed four cans of the world's most repulsive energy drink.
Review: If you're a minimal fan and don't know Yama Music, you've been sleeping. Their first three EPs flew off the shelves and into crates of heady DJs across Europe. Once again the eponymous Yama Music is or are behind the beats and it's forward thinking, no nonsense dancing music of the highest order. "Acisaronno" is proper tech house with delicate hi hats and steel plated drums making for a frictionless groove, while "Chinchilla Shuffle" is the sort of slightly wonky and oddball track that Craig Richard drops on the regular. Freaky, spaced out and atmospheric, tech house doesn't get much better.
Review: Priku's new diffusion series Atipic Lab has brought us some killer material of late, by some right heroes of the Rominimal scene such as Arapu, Vlad Arapasu and Cosmijn. The latest edition comes from the ever reliable Vincentiulian, who first appeared on the label back in 2016 with the brilliant Atipic 002 - which we consider a modern classic. Expectations are high, then, for ATIPICLAB 006 and he certainly didn't let us down. From the obtuse yet mesmerising bounce of A side cut "Agera", to the more straight ahead B side cuts such as "I Don't Wonder" which shows off Vincent's knack for crafty and infectious rhythm programming, and the funky afterhours groove of "Ultrak" with its smooth rolling bass.