Review: Two years ago Ostgut Ton launched their ambient-leaning A-Ton imprint with "Chronicles", a fine trawl through the archives of Luke Slater's ambient techno project 7th Plain. This is the second part of a trilogy (the third and final instalment is also out now) and, like its predecessor, gathers together tracks released on General Productions between 1993 and 1995, and previously unheard material. It's as evocative, atmospheric and on-point as that previous volume, sashaying between more dancefloor-leaning fare (see the deliciously dreamy but percussively heavy "Astra Naut-E" and the Motor City flex of "JDC"), genuinely beat-free soundscapes (the Pete Namlook style bliss of "I Think I Think Too Much" and "Big Field") and cuts that shuffle further towards "Artificial Intelligence" style IDM.
Review: Ostgut Ton A-Ton completes their trilogy of compilations charting the early-to-mid-'90s ambient techno work of British producer Luke Slater under the 7th Plain alias. As with its predecessors, the eight included tracks offer a mixture of previously released fare from the project's heyday and music that's sat on dusty DAT tapes for well over two decades. Highlights come thick and fast, from the sun-bright sci-fi melodies, sustained ambient chords and bubbly acid lines of "Time Melts" and the Black Dog-ish shuffle of "Reality of Space", to the booming, club-ready "Lost", drowsy IDM cut "Think City" and the intergalactic, stretched-out bliss of brilliant closing cut "Seeing Sense".
Review: A-Ton is a new label from Berlin heavyweights Ostgut Ton, designed to focus on "ambient, archive and alternative music". They've pulled off something of a coup for this debut release, persuading British techno legend Luke Slater to open up the archives of his '90s intelligent techno project, The 7th Plain. Chronicles I boasts a mixture of previously released and unheard material, which moves from glistening, outer-space ambience (the near perfect "Boundaries", "Grace"), to fizzing Motor City techno ("T-Funk Statues"), via intergalactic intelligent techno, dusty downtempo grooves (the jazzy hip-hop rhythms and ambient electronics of "Slip 7 Sideways"), and melodious IDM.
Review: ***B-STOCK: Box damaged, product unused & in perfect condition***
- Creasing/small tear to corner of sleeve
Having previously been responsible for a number of themed compilations for Versatile Records, the Acid Arab crew has finally got round to delivering its' first album of original productions. Naturally, it continues their theme of blending North African and Middle Eastern sounds - be it vocals or instruments - with drum machine rhythms and vintage synthesizer sounds. This, though, is where the similarities to their previous work end. While there are a few house-influenced cuts dotted throughout (see the brilliant "Sayarat 303"), for the most part Musique De France veers further towards off-kilter electronic pop. Along the way, they doff a collective cap to new wave, punk-funk, and hazy indie-pop. While it may lack the crackling energy of their more dancefloor-minded productions, it's still a hugely enjoyable set.
Review: Having previously been responsible for a number of themed compilations for Versatile Records, the Acid Arab crew has finally got round to delivering its' first album of original productions. Naturally, it continues their theme of blending North African and Middle Eastern sounds - be it vocals or instruments - with drum machine rhythms and vintage synthesizer sounds. This, though, is where the similarities to their previous work end. While there are a few house-influenced cuts dotted throughout (see the brilliant "Sayarat 303"), for the most part Musique De France veers further towards off-kilter electronic pop. Along the way, they doff a collective cap to new wave, punk-funk, and hazy indie-pop. While it may lack the crackling energy of their more dancefloor-minded productions, it's still a hugely enjoyable set.
Review: ***B-STOCK: Box damaged, product unused & in perfect condition***
- Creasing to corner of sleeve
"It's like painting with button and sliders... Melting and dripping, seeping yourself liquid into the machinery." So said Darren Cunningham when discussing the creation of R.I.P, his long awaited follow up to Splazsh. It's a compelling image that works in practice too. R.I.P creates microcosmic sound worlds within each track: "Holy Water" for instance tumbles in on itself in a melange of shimmering sine wave droplets, while the pitch shifted waves of "Tree Of Knowledge" seem to inhale and exhale like a living being, crumpling inwards on itself to repeat the same motion ad infinitum. And although it uses much the same, occasionally abrasive sonic building blocks as Cunningham's been developing for many years, the pastoral tones of "Uriel's Black Harp" and the Alva Noto styles of "Jardin" make R.I.P a surprisingly graceful album. It may not be techno as many will know it, but Cunningham has never made techno in the traditional sense anyway - and it's clear on listening to R.I.P that he's only just beginning to realise the musical forms that have been swarming inside his brain for years.
Review: For their latest foray into the world of the ghostly, intense and unusual, L.I.E.S has turned to fellow New Yorker Adam Mitchell, a man whose career as a techno producer stretches back to the 1990s. Here, though, he's appearing under his lesser-known Admx-71 alias, a pseudonym used for his more experimental endeavours. Sitting somewhere between unsettling ambience, horror-influenced IDM, analogue electro, industrial and out-there experimentation, the album's 11 tracks bristle with bright ideas. While there are undeniably dark and hard-to-handle moments, Mitchell's default setting is more quietly melodious, resulting in a set that impresses with its' alien melodies, spacey electronics and fuzzy, distortion-soaked rhythms.
Review: Three years have passed since Alessandro Adriani impressed with his debut album, an industrial, EBM, techno and neo-trance inspired set that marked the Berlin-based Italian as a producer on the rise. "Morphic Dreams", his belated sequel, may explore some of the same influences, but Adriani's vision seems far more widescreen. Check, for example, the decaying urban ambience of "Casting The Runes", the buzzing and bubbling synth-wave throb of "Raindance", the tactile slo-mo bliss of Simon Crab collab "Dust/Mist" and the grandiose, rising intensity of dystopian soundscape "Crow". There are, of course, a number of muscular, EBM-influenced club cuts, with the Nitzer Ebb-esque "Dissolving Images" and fizzing "Storm Tree" standing out.
Review: There's a decidedly rushing, saucer-eyed feel to Ellen Allien's latest album, her eighth since launching the BPitch Control label at the dawn of the century. The Berlin veteran shows no desire to soften her sound or move away from the dancefloor, delivering an eight-track set that giddily charges between neo-trance (the loved-up "Empathy" and tech-trance throb-job "Free Society"), post-dubstep electro (the swirling "MDMA" and atmospheric "Exit To Humanity"), raging acid ("Bowie In Harmony"), decidedly muscular techno (the arpeggio-driven heaviness of acid fired smasher "Love Distortion" and the creepier "Electronic Joy") and bubbly acid electro (superb closing cut "Stimulation").
Review: Back in 2008, noted experimentalist Alva Noto began a sporadic series of albums that were far more focused on dancefloor-inspired rhythms than his usual eccentric and inspiring fare. Unieqav is the third and, we're told, final part of the series. The album is apparently meant to be a sonic representation of an underwater dive, a conceptual theme which manifests itself through the storied producer's use of deep and atmospheric chords, fluid and occasionally glistening electronics, and rhythms that evoke images of ever-deeper dives into the dark, cold depths. Rhytmically, there are nods to electro, IDM, dub techno and Autechre, though the mood remains laidback and intoxicated throughout.
Review: Berghain resident Patrick Graeser returns as part of the Ostgut Ton family, with his second full length opus. Much like his 2014 debut Code, Graeser has honed a hybrid musical approach that stands out in a world of uniform 4/4 techno - as heard over the years on MDR, Music Man and of course his own Answer Code Request imprint. Gens is a diverse yet cohesive affair, between the more straight-ahead tracks like "Knbn2", "Cicadae" or the particularly seething "Sphera" (which are breakbeat driven, bass-heavy and UK inspired), there are some mentalist IDM journeys ("Ab Intus/Audax") and even breathtaking ambient moments like "Orarum" and "Mora". Brilliant stuff.
Review: Borderland sees the illustrious Juan Atkins & Moritz von Oswald join forces for an album of meditative techno for Tresor. The partnership marks the first time Juan Atkins and Moritz von Oswald have directly collaborated in 20 years, though both have regularly assisted each other's work behind the scenes. Von Oswald played an important role in engineering much of Model 500's R&S catalogue, while Atkins supplied his mixing craft and two edits on Thomas Fehlmann & Moritz von Oswald's early '90s project 3MB. This eponymously titled album is skewed toward club-orientated electronic music blessed with a freedom for organic musical experimentation and expect to sink into a soundscape where melodic and textural motifs float in and out of focus.
Review: Over the last four decades, we've come accustomed to veteran electronic experimentalist Uwe Schmidt surprising us with each successive album. Even so, we were still pleasantly surprised by his latest Atom TM release, whose title - Walzeryklus ("Waltz Cycle") - offers a hint to his latest inspiration. Recorded with angel-voiced singer Lisokot, the album is entirely made up of tracks recorded in the 3/4 time signature of classic waltz. Naturally, these waltzes are unlike anything you'll have heard before, variously taking in neo-classical inspired ambient, eccentric left-of-centre synth-pop, bubbly electronica, fizzing Rephlex style "Braindance" and even a gtouch of wonky, mind-altering techno.
Review: Geir Jensson's debut album under the now familiar Biosphere alias, Microgravity, has long been considered something of a classic of the early '90s ambient boom. First released in 1991, it offered an icy but suitably atmospheric mix of chilly ambience, British-style "intelligent techno" and crystalline IDM. To celebrate 25 years since it was recorded (it was released a year later, in 1991), Geir Jensson has re-mastered it and, with the help of a successful crowd-funding campaign, pressed it onto a double CD minus the cross-fades and sound effects featured on the original pressing. Happily, Microgravity has lost none of its' allure, and the superb re-mastering ensures
Review: Closely affiliated with Nina Kraviz's trip label, Icelandic maverick Bjarki has managed to carve out a unique identity for himself in the hustle and bustle of contemporary electronic music. Following three full-length releases back in 2016, he now appears on !K7 with a new album that shows off the depth and breadth of his idiosyncratic vision. From curious ambient excursions peppered with rich sound design to spooked out boogie and deconstructed techno, sometimes within the same track, Bjarki has ably cemented his reputation as one of the scene's most intriguing operatives. Just take a trip on the fractured breaks and looming pads of "AN6912" and marvel at the originality.
Review: While Black Dog founder Ken Downie has rarely been one to talk candidly in the press, his current studio partners, Martin and Richard Dust, have been known to deliver angry missives on a variety of topics. It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that the trio's latest album- their first for nearly three years - appears to have been inspired by the current state of politics and the media. Full of knowing track titles, melancholic refrains, frustrated rhythms, dystopian soundscapes and angry motifs, the album's thought-provoking intent is rather overshadowed by the quality of the music on offer. You'll find bustling electro, end-of-days ambient, rushing cinematic techno, IDM and the kind of hard-to-pigeonhole fare that inspired then NME journalist Mixmaster Morris to come up with the now familiar "intelligent techno" tag.
Review: Surgeon and Regis have been collaborating as British Murder Boys for decades, though in recent times it's tended to take the form of occasional live performances. Like their previous album, 2014's "Live In Tokyo", "Fire In The Still Air" is a non-stop recording of a live performance - in this case one that formed part of Berlin's Atonal Festival last August. It's a thrilling and largely breathless excursion; a non-stop, 51-minute ride in which Surgeon handles beats and electronics, and Regis processed sounds and growling, gravel-voiced vocals. The duo's techno credentials shine through, of course, but it's their industrial and EBM inspirations that come to the fore throughout. For much of the set, they come across like an updated, techno-propelled re-incarnation of early '80s Cabaret Voltaire, and that's not a bad thing at all.
Review: As the Houndstooth roster becomes increasingly diversified with age, so Call Super remains the label's brightest star. Responsible for inaugurating the Fabric-housed operation, J R Seaton has subsequently gone on to deliver some of their best 12" offerings and the time feels right for the Berlin-based producer to show his hand at full length albums. In contrast to the techno-focused approach of his Call Super 12"s, Suzi Ecto finds Seaton expanding on his palette with 11 tracks that veer wonderfully between moments of electronic poignancy and more thrusting fare. Spend some time with Suzi Ecto and you'll find it to be one of this year's most rewarding listens with new favourites emerging with each cycle - "Raindance" is the current fave here at Juno HQ.
Beatrice Dillon & Rupert Clervaux - "The Same River Twice"
M:I:5 - "Masstab 1:5/11"
Jan Jelinek - "Tendency"
Dresvn - "Untitled B1"
Objekt - "The Stitch-Up"
Two Full Minds - "No Smoke"
Photek - "T'Raenon"
Don't DJ - "Pornoire"
Flanger - "Spinner"
Carl Craig - "A Wonderful Life" (Epic mix)
Call Super - "Acephale I"
Call Super - "Acephale II"
Marco Bernardi - "Demonia"
Jega - "ZX82"
Shanti Celeste - "Strung Up"
Bitstream - "Incubator"
Bruce - "Sweat"
Convextion - "Niche"
Karen Gwyer - "Hippie Fracca"
Thomas Ankersmit & Valerio Tricoli - "Plague #7"
Walter Brown - "Keep On Walkin'"
Yves Tumor - "The Feeling When You Walk Away"
Max Loderbauer - "Giant Hug"
Speng Bond - "Cutbacks"
Review: Soon, Fabric's impeccable mix series will reach its 100th installment - an impressive achievement in anyone's book. This 92nd volume comes from rising star Call Super, who joins the dots between all manner of tasty house and techno treats - some left-of-centre and quirky, others simply wonky and picturesque - over the course of 80 hugely entertaining minutes. According to the producer, it's designed for the break of dawn, rather than peak-time, a fact reflected in the presence of dreamy, loose, fuzzy and melodious tracks from the likes of Carl Craig, Speng Bond, Max Loderbauer, Shanti Celeste and Dresvn.
Review: For techno fans of a certain vintage, the arrival of a new Dave Clarke album - his first for 14 years - will be the most exciting news this year. Those expecting a straight-up collection of thunderous techno club bangers should look away now, though. Instead, the famously forthright producer has crafted an album inspired by the music of his youth, namely new wave, punk, industrial, electro and EBM. Of course, there are still hints of his bombastic club style hidden within the clandestine grooves and collaborations with Keith Tenniswood, Mt Sims and Mark Lanagan, but it's an altogether more mature and sofa-friendly listening experience than fans may have expected.
Review: For those who follow the work of British IDM legend Claro Intelecto, the last few years have been frustrating, to say the least. It's been five years since his last album, and three since he released a 12" single. Exhilarator, his fifth full-length, is certainly well over-due. Predictably, it is also rather good. As usual, it offers a superb balance of dark and intoxicating electro, tuneful intelligent techno, bubbly IDM, glitchy post-ambient soundscapes, deep and bass-heavy techno shufflers and clanking, off kilter experimentation from the Autechre school of electronica. It's atmospheric, impeccably produced and stuffed full of highlights. In other words, it's another great Claro Intelecto album.
Review: When it comes to immersive listening experiences built on cutting-edge sound design, few can match the continued brilliance of Echospace duo Rod Modell and Stephen Hitchell. For proof, check the pair's latest offering under the alternative CV313 alias. Built around a suite of three drawn-out soundscapes, Analogue Oceans sees them mimicking the ebb and flow of oceanic tides by smothering gentle dub techno rhythms in lapping waves and soft-focus, spacey electronics. On disc two, Hitchell goes solo to present his own, hour-long interpretation under the Variant guise, heading into the pitch-black depths via watery effects, clandestine aural textures and suitably horizontal ambient dub rhythms.
Review: Surprisingly, Space of Variants' latest limited edition CD release doesn't come from boss man Sergey Barkalov (AKA Mr Cloudy), but rather a previously unheard talent. DAS is Andrew Korotkov, a Russian producer from Lipsetsk city. Musically, he inhabits similar sonic waters to Barkalov, delivering long, slowly shifting soundscapes that draw on ambient, drone and dub techno for inspiration. As debut albums go, Transcendental is quietly impressive. Over the course of three long variations, Korktov delivers a meditative experience rich in effects-laden field recordings, slowly shifting chord progressions, gentle beats and, on occasions, decidedly cosmic aural textures.
Review: Earlier in the year, modern minimal wave and coldwave hero Marie Davidson signed a high-profile deal with Ninja Tune. Here, she makes good on that contract, following a couple of killer singles with what could be her strongest album to date. After setting the tone with clandestine, tongue-in-cheek opener "Your Biggest Fan" - a creepy spoken word cut taking aim at stalker-line fans to the accompaniment of heavy analogue synth bass and creepy computer bleeps - Davidson giddily flits between elastic dancefloor workouts (the brilliantly sleazy "Work It" and mind-altering "Workaholic Paranoid Bitch"), attractive post-EBM instrumentals (the psychedelic and fizzing "Lara"), meditative ambient melodiousness ("Day Dreaming"), bizarre experimental weirdness (the suitable dystopian "The Tunnel"), and stylish analogue pop (the whispered vocals and off-kilter early morning funk of "So Right").
Review: Berlin-based Canadian Scott Monteith has released many albums over the course of a near two-decade career, though few are quite as focused and laden with meaning as Wax Poetic For This Our Great Resolve. At heart, it's a political record, with each track featuring spoken word pieces or poetry written and delivered (in a variety of languages) by one of Monteith's music pals. Whether his collaborators are musing on the nature of democracy or telling a political parable, their words subtly rise above a sequence of brilliant backing tracks that variously touch on dub techno, melodic deep house/techno fusion, basement bothering post-dancehall riddims, hypnotic organic/electronic fusion and hazy, early morning ambient. As a result, this could well be the most varied and enjoyable Deadbeat album yet.
Review: As usual, prolific dub techno producer Rod Modell has spent much of the last year collaborating with long-term studio buddy Stephen Hitchell under the Echospace alias. Even so, he's still somehow found time to ready another solo album for Soma (his fifth in total for the esteemed Glasgow imprint). This CD version is presented as a continuous audio journey, with tracks seamlessly segueing into each other to create a hazy and hypnotic sound soup. As you'd expect, it's a hugely atmospheric and attractive affair that dozily drifts between meditative ambience and texture-laden dub techno. Pleasingly, much of the material is more melodious and positive in feel than some of Modell's work, which can often tend towards the dense and claustrophobic.
Review: The people who got to know Niels 'Delta Funktionen' Luinenberg through his ponderous Electromagnetic Radiation release or the adeptly programmed warm-up sets posted online may be surprised by the approach on Inertia. However, its direction could hardly be described as unexpected. The second volume of Electromagnetic Radiation and the grimy warehouse techno of Silhouette make perfectly clear that the Dutch DJ/producer likes to play it hard as well as deep. In that regard, Niels is not alone, and this mix, which consists solely of exclusive material, shows that a whole new wave of European techno producers is on the same wavelength. The mixture of the musical and forceful is audible from the outset, with textured chords unfolding over an angular rhythm on Sascha Rydell's "Rainy Days", a few tracks later as Cosmin TRG does his best mid to late 90s Ian Pooley techno impersonation over a rolling, warm bass and midway through on Peter Van Hoesen's "Last One at 1080", where evocative but eerie pads build to the backdrop of a prowling groove. It's a stunning finish to a mix that effortlessly balances the hard and the soulful.
Paperclip People - "Country Boy Goes Dub" (Marcel Dettmann remix)
Norman Nodge - "BB 1.0"
Francois X - "Rising"
Marcel Dettmann - "Lightworks" (Phase remix)
Lockertmatik - "M Lock 4"
Wincent Kunth - "Carlre"
Joey Anderson - "Repulsive" (Marcel Dettmann edit)
Marcelus - "Flash"
Vril - "Torus XXXII"
Review: When it comes to DJing there aren't many names as trusted as Marcel Dettmann to provide the essential mix, be it in CD or podcast format. To date he's curated the second installment of Ostgut's in-house Berghain mix series and the Conducted mix for Belgian label Music Man. So it's about time Fabric invited the Berghain resident to participate in their own mix series, with this 77th edition providing a selection mostly based on unreleased MDR demo tracks that Dettmann's been utilising in his sets for years. The result is a good primer for what to expect from his label in the future, with Answer Code Request, Norman Nodge, Ilian Taper Dario Zenker and French producer Marcelus amongst the high-profile names contributing unreleased productions.
Review: There should be more than a few techno fans getting rather excited right now. You see, Donato Dozzy and Nuel's Aquaplano Sessions is something of a "holy grail" for tribal-influenced minimal techno collectors. Originally released over two 12" singles on the short-lived Aquaplano label in 2008 and 2009, the material has long been held in high regard - so much so, in fact, that copies of the original vinyl pressings are extremely hard to find. This reissue from Spectrum Spools is great news for anyone who missed out first time round. While there are some immaculate deeper moments (see the becalmed dreaminess of "Aqua 8"), it's the robust, aggressive, bass-heavy and occasionally intense tracks that really stand out.
Review: Last year's excellent Drexciya retrospective, Journey Of The Deep Sea Dweller, was rightly heralded as a must-buy for anyone with even the smallest interest in the history of underground dance music. This second volume offers more of the same, conclusively proving - though few would argue otherwise - that Drexciya remain one of the most forthright, intriguing and forward-thinking acts ever to emerge from Detroit. The material here largely centres around their own peculiar take on proper electro, from the liquid synths and bouncing grooves of "Anti Vapour Waves" and "Journey Home", to the excitable, steel-hard rhythms and naked funk of "Positron Island".
Review: A big Juno bear hug goes to the folks from Tresor for releasing a string of sublime re-issues this year. The latest is Drexciya's seminal Harnessed The Storm long player, generally a much darker affair than Neptune's Lair, which itself was reissued earlier this year. It is hallmarked by longer, more exploratory tracks, full of sinister twists and turns. The stormy electro thunder of "Digital Tsunami" is perhaps the standout moment here, closely followed by the subterranean squelch of "Soul Of The Sea". "Dr Blowfins Black Storm Stabilizing Spheres" has an eerie crackle that predates the current vogue for dark atmospheric techno by nearly a decade, while the robotic key melody on "Song Of The Green Whale" marks it as the LP's most playful moment. Highly recommended for electro and techno purists alike.
Review: Zak Khutoresky AKA DVS1 famously doesn't do many mixes. It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that he apparently initially struggled to know how to approach this contribution to Fabric's now legendary mix series. Really, he shouldn't have worried. The finished mix - completed using three turntables and a mixer - is something of a gem; an all-action techno assault on the senses with Khutoresky whipping through 29 tracks in less than 80 minutes. Impressively, every track is an unreleased exclusive, with some 16 of these forthcoming on the DJ/producer's HUSH and Mistress labels. In many ways, it's a near perfect package for those who enjoy Khutoresky's muscular style; certainly, the inclusion of so many unheard gems makes the first listen a genuine voyage of discovery.