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: Despite becoming a serious force in the contemporary techno scene over the last seven years, Antonin Jeanson has never released an album. He's made plenty of killer 12" singles, but for one reason or another has never applied his trademark style to the long-playing format. It's perhaps a surprise then, that his debut album, "Rising", is a near perfect example of a modern techno album. There are quite a few atmospheric and ear-catching dancefloor workouts - see the bustling beats and creepy electronics of "Perchance To Dream", the dark throb of "Duality of Mind" and the slamming psych-techno of "It Follows" - but also more considered, left-of-centre trips into IDM, ambient techno and otherworldly ambient territory. It's these diversions that make the album such an entertaining and rewarding listen.
Review: To coincide with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Berlin club Tresor, Juan Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald have released a second Borderland album together. It begins in ominous mode, with the title track's brooding bass tones casting a long, dark shadow, but the pair soon find a way to break away from the gloom with the mesmerising chords and heavy rhythm of "Lightyears" and the wonderfully spacey Detroit techno of "Riod". Both "Odyssey" and "Merkur" push the tempo back down but keep an emphasis on hypnotic, woozy textures, snappy drums and jazzy tones, while "2600" shows that Van Oswald hasn't lost his ability to craft dub-heavy, dreamy techno.
Review: <3 is a rather pop leaning new album from Atom TM written in collaboration with an "entity" called x1n. The producer himself refers to the sound as "hard code pop" and the entity generated human voice and natural language content. It came with an obtuse message from the entity which is worth finding if you want some extra back story, or else just dive headfirst into the music. It's a flurry of whirring machines and deconstructed electronic sounds, with dehumanised vocals lost in the middle of it all. Despite the cold futurism of it all, there is still plenty of soul to be found in these fascinating tracks.
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: Space Of Variants recently described this collaboration between label artists Aura Minimum (real name Vladislav Ishkov) and Flying Cobra (Alexander Khaliulin) as "modern deep sound goodies". While that's a little vague, it's certainly accurate. Across a range of solo and jointly produced tracks, the pair explores a warm, hazy, atmospheric and quietly colourful sound that emphasizes meditative ambient electronics - drowsy chords, drifting motifs and yearning melodies - over the hypnotic dub techno and deep techno grooves that nestle below. It's a formula that results in a hugely soothing, ear-pleasing and smile-inducing listening experience.
Review: Phantasy Sound's main man Daniel Avery has linked up with modular wizard Alessandro Cortini for a debut full length, "Illusion Of Time". It came together over many years, with no real concept or constraints but it has still managed to make a powerful impact despite its spare, lo-fi, ambient vibes. There are heavier, darker tracks like "Inside The Ruins" that are brilliantly bleak, but also thoughtful meditations like the title track, which has some magical piano playing at its core. It's the rays of light amongst the darkness that make this such a beguiling and beautiful listen, and a perfect soundtrack to long lost days at home during lockdown.