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: Since launching their career with a hypnotic 12" on Crosstown Rebels back in 2014, Swiss duo Azimute has done their own thing, establishing their own label in order to further their cause. Clearly, Derrick May was impressed, because he's decided to put out their latest track, "Paradox". In many ways, it's an unusual release for Transmat, as it contains little of the label's trademark retro-futurism, and instead delivers the kind of restless, late night techno grooves more associated with German imprints. It is, though, rather good, building in intensity throughout via creepy riffs, unsettling electronics and a moody bassline.
Review: Brendon Moeller lends his clubbier Beat Pharmacy alias to the dance orientated offshoot of Echocord: Echocord Colour. The highlight of this 12" is the title-track, which in parts sounds like Skudge, while in others it's like a Ctrls production, with an affixed Moeller dubbiness. Its version, however, sees tough drums wither away to the sound of short chord stabs, jacking drum machine claves and an overall ambient vibe. The releases other choice is a stepped track called "Overide" which sees Moeller try his hand at this experimental techno-drum and bass thing going around, with the result sounding similar to something you might hear on an ASC record.
Review: FXHE bloodline member Big Strick continues to excel on his own 7 Days Ent. label, dropping his first 12" of 2012 which has a nice community feel to proceedings. Alpha & Omega introduces us to Generation Next, a rising 16 year old talent from the streets of Detroit who contributes alongside Mr Strickland to all three tracks here. Stylistically, the three tracks here seem equally indebted to Juan Atkins pure techno endeavours as Infiniti and the sub aqueous grooves of Drexciya, not least the restrained title track which shimmers from the murky depths into a finely crafted liquid groove imbued with bubbling elatory Utopian textures. On the flip "Origin" ripples with pressure, its rhythmic elements grappling for your attention as the space between them decreases with Strick and Gen Next expertly layering texture upon texture. A masterful 12" shaped exercise in modern day Detroit sounds is completed with the devious electrofied snap of "Bloodline".
Review: Leonard "Big Strick" Strickland is perhaps best known for his family ties with Omar-S (they're cousins), though his productions are well worthy of praise in their own right. Here, he offers up a sampler 12" featuring cuts from his recent (and excellent) Reservoir Dogs LP. Perhaps the most noteworthy cut is "Family Affair", a lovingly constructed chunk of hypnotic, melodic deepness written with Omar-S. That said, Strick's solo effort "Armed & Dangerous" - a winding chunk of voodoo techno - is arguably better. The mazy techno-funk of Reckless Ron Cook's "Night Moves" is also outstanding.
Review: Dub techno legend Konstantinos Soublis aka Fluxion is back with another album, his first since 2014's Broadwalk Tales on Echocord. Bipolar Defect is presented by Barcelona based label Subwax Bcn and is a further exploration of Soublis' delay drenched, smoked out and chillingly glacial soundscapes that have earned him releases on a who's who of the niche sub genre's finest labels such as the legendary Chain Reaction and his own Vibrant Music imprint. Highlights include the signature sounds of "Multidirectional", "Friction Pulse" and "Stream II" which sound like soundtracks for stoned and spiritual explorations through the Arctic, while there's some immersive and drifting affairs like "Omnibus" and "Aviation" that'll totally drown you in sound. Tip!
Review: The excellent Type Records continue their reissue programme with a much needed re-appraisal of Vibrant Forms, a collection of tracks from Greek producer Konstantinos Soublis, aka Fluxion, originally released back in 1999. Issued by the iconic Chain Reaction on CD, Vibrant Forms collated and expanded on two Fluxion 12"s released on the label and the collection helped to define the late 90s Dub Techno lexicon. Largely unavailable since then, Type have enlisted the supreme talents of award winner Mat Colton of Alchemy to work his re-mastering magic on all eight tracks to make them sound perfect for this double vinyl pressing. Hazy and distant, there was still more than enough dancefloor push Vibrant Forms forward and ensure it's one of the very rare techno albums that works from beginning to end.
Review: In only a mere five years, producer, engineer and DJ Per Hammar has racked up an impressive discography, and now presents his long awaited debut full length album 'Pathfinder' on his own Dirty Hands imprint. This is a fine collection of moods and grooves for any occasion, and you can bet that his dubby and glacial aesthetic is evident throughout. From the chilling and bass-driven opener "Mother" and the Basic Channel-ish "F Dubb 1000", to ethereal and hypnotic rollers in the vein of fellow Scandinavians like S.A.M. on "If You Have A Mind It Will Wonder", and wonderfully representing the new breed of tech house on bangers like "Galatea" and "Manchester Lone Star". There's a lot to get through on here, but it's top notch all the way. Tip!
Review: Long players from L'estasi Dell'oro, D.A.R.F.D.H.S and Kartei signalled a move into artist albums from Dutch label Field that felt wholly right, and they've scored a real treat again in securing this Cold Radiance LP from Japanese artist IORI. Known for a potent brand of deep techno that has seen releases on Semantica, Prologue and DJ Nobu's Bitta label, Iori Asano is offered the chance to explore something different on this, his second album. Encourage to dabble in more explicitly ambient and experimental composition, Asano positively revels in this creative freedom for an eight-track album he himself likens to an "aerial sci-fi movie soundtrack." The gravelly sonic tones of opener "Transmission" sets the scene for what turns out to be one of the most enjoyable ambient techno albums of 2016 so far.
Review: IDM legend Steven Rutter has been presenting some awe-inspiring electronic explorations on his FireScope imprint in recent times. The label's latest instalment comes from British producer Miles Atmospheric Sagnia, whose classic techno perspectives on the SkyHealer EP sound right at home here. The Atmospheric Existence Recordings boss moves wonderfully through the deep shades of techno soul ("Exoplanetology"), chilled-out and dub-inflected electronica ("Our Future"), classic hi-tech soul ("Waters Of Life") and highly engineered electro of the most evocative kind on the brilliant "See The Light".
The Industry Of Dreams (Jeff Mills Commentary) (1:52)
Review: For those new to Jeff Mills' vast - and largely incredible - back catalogue, the Director's Cut series should be essential. Like its predecessors, this fourth volume gathers together various versions of killer cuts previously produced and released by the Motor City legend over the past two decades. Highlights include deep space techno workout "Deadly Rays (Of A Hot White Sun)", the densely layered African percussion, low slung bass and echoing organ stabs of "Gateway Of Zen (Percussion Mix)", the bleep-heavy electro/techno fusion of sweaty workout "999" and the alien-sounding, minor-key hypnotism of "The Industry Of Dreams". Each track is accompanied by a separate "audio commentary" from the man himself, which is ideal for those who love to hear artists talking about their work.
Review: Since opting to release more music under his given name, DeepChord man Rod Modell has largely stuck to dubbed-out ambience and heady drone soundscapes. His latest full-length is a little different, though, offering up club-focused cuts that mix his usual fuzzy aural textures and dub-fired motifs with up-tempo techno rhythms. By his standards, it's a very forthright set, with highlights including the noise-soaked stomp of "Reiki", the thrusting heaviness of "ITO", the hypnotic slam of "Jade" - where breezy, early morning electronics flutter away above tough drums and a mind-altering bassline - and the boisterous peak-time techno anthem "Scrawler".
Review: Touch From A Distance is a Berlin based label run by Panorama Bar resident Nick Hoppner. Following up a terrific inauguration by Holding Hands boss Desert Sound Colony, the label returns with Japanese duo Opal Sunn aka Al Kassian and Hiroaki OBA. Opal Sunn are a well seasoned hardware only live act, who are very much in control of their repertoire, but also capable of captivating improvisations. They have a recognisable sound driven by smart, often arpeggiated synth lines, on point drums and textures. Highlights are the slinky and hypnotic tech house cut "Parallax", followed by the discofied slow burner "Mirage" and the deep electro journey "Phantom" on the B side.
Review: Reckless Ron Cook belatedly gets his chance to shine courtesy of Big Strick's 7 Days Entertainment label on this Lost Tapes 12" that presents four cuts from the producer's archives. The former Submerge and Metroplex artist is no stranger to 7 Days Entertainment having signalled his return from the wilderness with "Night Moves" a rattling, electrofied contribution to last year's Resivior Dogs LP from Big Strick. That track should set the tone for what you can expect on this 12" which snaps viciously into action with the viper like Detroit machine funk of "Electro Soul" and the pace doesn't relent from there until "Urban Beat" reaches the run out groove.
Review: Aside from a pair of releases on Horizontal Ground, and one appearance for the magnetic Edit Select, the enigmatic SNTS has chosen to reserve his/her releases for his/her own self-titled label. While the artist has only released EP's in the past, The Rustling Of The Leaves marks a debut LP effort. As you'd expect, the work is made up of chilling soundscapes, sinister sonics and grey-scaled ambient, but it's the way in which SNTS assembles beats around these elements that is impressive. "Backwoods", for example, flutters its subtle beats seamlessly into a hollow cave of drones and religious chanting, while a tune like "Remission" is what the inside of a power station would sound ike at night. For those who love their techno textures dark and sparse, this is it.
Review: Spiral Deluxe is an improvised electronic jazz quartet consisting of the legendary Jeff Mills on machines, with Underground Resistance alumnus Gerald Mitchell on keyboards, Yumiko Ohno on Moog synthesizer, and Kenji "Jino" Hino on bass guitar and vocals. On the A side we have the fantastic voyage that is "Cosmos" which over its nearly 18 minute duration takes in The Wizard's trademark drum rolls, a bit of acid, a nice serving of funk and even some gospel style pianos towards the end. It's a brilliant live recording we must say. On the flip are the deep and emotive soul jams "Four Ways Of Knowing" and "Without A Doubt". The Tathata EP is pressed on vinyl from high resolution 32bit digital files and will launch a new range of vinyl releases named the Axis Audiophile Series.
Review: ***B-STOCK: Creasing to corners of outer sleeve, but otherwise in perfect working order***
- Some creasing to front cover
For his first album in nearly two years, Anthony Child - better known, of course, under the Surgeon alias - has taken influence from The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a tome that famously also inspired the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows". As a result, the Birmingham producer's usual moody modular techno rhythms and armour-plated grooves come brandishing decidedly trippy electronics, not to mention some serious psychedelic synth lines. Combine these with a willingness to explore electro and Autechre style IDM rhythms, and you have an album that could be Child's most impressive set for some time.
Blondes Have More Fun (The Black Madonna Immaterial Girl remix) (8:25)
Blondes Have More Fun (Tiga Elevation mix) (6:11)
Blondes Have More Fun (instrumental) (6:20)
Review: Those who copped Tiga's recent album, No Fantasy Required, should recognize "Blondes Have More Fun". A deep and dreamy slice of contemplative synth-pop, it offered a fitting conclusion to the well-received set. This second 12" of remixes contains a handy instrumental of the ear-pleasing original version, plus headline grabbing rubs from Tiga and The Black Madonna. The latter's Immaterial Girl Remix is particularly good, and sees the Chicagoan re-inventing the track as a fine chunk of synth bass-fuelled analogue house warmth (albeit with more dancefloor energy than your average Larry Heard track). Tiga's own Elevation Mix, which contains all of his evocative vocal performance, is also something of a bittersweet, floor-friendly treat.
Review: Woo York seem to save their best work for Tale of Us's Aftelife label. Their previous outing on the imprint, 2018 debut album "Chasing The Dream", was an underappreciated gem, and happily this EP-length follow-up is equally as impressive. Musically, all four tracks draw great influence from what some are calling neo-trance, employing riffs and arpeggiated synthesizer lines more often found in both trance and progressive house. The weightiest cut of the lot is "Dancing With Sirens", whose star attractions include squidgy bass, moody acid stabs and sustained, spacey chords, while opener "Echoes From Beyond" is sunny, summery and almost rush-inducing in its melodic positivity. "Minimalism", a deep and trippy excursion dominated by psychedelic acid lines, hoover noises and a lengthy breakdown, is also rather good.