Hakim Murphy & Christopher Rau - "Floorz Hop" (6:14)
Hakim Murphy & Christopher Rau - "Again Agin" (6:48)
NC 17 - "Gasoline Or Dettol" (6:46)
Mezigue & Christopher Rau - "Honk For Peace" (3:08)
Review: In support of the joys of teamwork, Smallville regular Christopher Rau has launched Totally Together, a new label committed to releasing collaborations between producers. He handles the first 12" himself, joining forces with a succession of artists across four fine tracks. The A-side boasts two hook-ups with Chicago's Hakim Murphy; the sweaty, jackin' drum machine beats and wayward electronics of "Floorz Hop", and the bass-heavy deep house wooziness of "Again Agin" [sic]. On the flip, Rau joins forces with Nathan Jonson as NC 17, delivering the ghetto-house influenced Chi-town bump of "Gasoline or Dettol" (think winding synth horns, crunchy drum machine handclaps and throbbing sub-bass), before laying down the ultra-deep, ultra-melodious "Carrier" alongside Mezigue.
Review: There's a certain mysticism that hovers around Piramide Registrazioni, with its occult symbolism, mysterious artists and fuzzy, vintage sound. Label protagonist Xinner has been previously spotted alongside S. Moreira on Phonica Records, but here is sharing valuable wax space on Piramide 2 with Autre and Hawaiian Chips. Autre's version of old-skool deep house has an interesting urgency about it, and Hawaiian Chips turns out shimmering electro of the highest order. It's Xinner's tracks that stand out the most though, with synths straining under the weight of their own wobblyness and beats that punch out in clouds of reverb fog.
Review: 2017 has been a good year for fans of The Hacker AKA long-serving producer Michel Amato. Having already impressed via rock solid EPs on Stilleben and Bordello a Parigi, Amato delivers his first full-length excursion since 2014. As you'd probably expect, Les Theatre Des Operations tends towards the alien and intergalactic, with Amato serving up a range of tracks rich in bleeping electronic melodies, unfussy drum machine rhythms and angular, TB-303 style basslines. As usual, the eight tracks neatly blur the boundaries between techno and electro - both rhythmically and sonically - while regular collaborator Miss Kittin lends a hand on moody and mind-altering LP highlight "Time X", adding some typically sleazy and stylish spoken word vocals.
Review: To say that Lauren Halo's peculiar brand of organic-electronic fusion is "acclaimed" would be an understatement. Her 2012 debut LP, Quarantine, was named as The Wire's album of the year. Here, the Ann Arbor raised producer continues to dazzle with another off-kilter selection of curious compositions. Veering from tipsy, near ambient soundscapes (see the unruly "Serendip" and psychedelic "Melt") to clattering percussion jams ("Oneiroi"), via deep techno ("Chance of Rain") and blissful musical simplicity (the piano lament of "Out" and beatless tropical jazz of "Dr Echt"), Chance of Rain is every bit as enthralling, unusual and inspiring as its predecessor. That's high praise indeed.
Review: Although she's offered up plenty of high-grade DJ mixes in the past, this volume in the "DJ Kicks" series marks Laurel Halo's first commercially available mix-up. The sometime Hyperdub producer has dutifully delivered something rather special, somehow joining the dots between 29 diverse and disparate cuts in the manner of a true turntable maestro. Beginning with the melodious experimentalism of her own "Public Art", Halo giddily charges between mutant industrial funk (Stallone The Reducer, Final Cut), thrusting electronic disco (Red Axes), deep techno (Parris), mind-altering acid-style intensity (Rrose), stomping, sweat-soaked peak-time techno (Machinewoman, FIT Siegel), polyrhythmic bass music (Facta, one of her Livity Sound collabs with Hodge) and an impressive array of cuts that defy easy categorization. The resultant all-action mix is nothing less than stunning.
It Was All Fields Around Here When I Was A Kid (3:39)
Review: Such has been the dizzying rise of Helena Hauff in recent years that the release of her second album, Qualm, feels like a genuine "event". Preceded by a limited, while label edition, the Hamburg producer's first full-length in three years is undoubtedly worthy of the growing hype surrounding it. By design, the 12 tracks are raw, distorted and lo-fi, with Hauff peppering heavyweight, redlined drum machine beats - think wayward Chicago jack, laidback electro and nails techno - with a mixture of razor-sharp acid lines, moody industrial textures and drowsy chords. The clattering intensity of the album's dancefloor moments is in sharp contrast to the creepy and evocative, soundtrack style electronic soundscapes showcased elsewhere on the album. These - ambient in ethos, but more experimental in tone - are frequently amongst the set's most inspired moments.
Review: Since Emeralds disbanded earlier in the decade, Steve Hauschildt has impressed with a serious of largely overlooked albums on Kranky that showcased his innate ability to craft distinctly melodic music that sits somewhere between IDM, slowly shifting ambient, droning soundscapes and more ethereal home listening techno. Dissolvi, his first album for Ghostly International, could well be his most accomplished solo work to date. While it explores similar sonic territory to previous full-length releases, the set is bolder, more atmospheric and, at times, intensely beautiful. While undoubtedly fresh, those with long memories will note audible nods to ambient and deep techno greats of the early 1990s, including Jonah Sharp (Spacetime Continuum), Pete Namlook and, most obviously, Boards of Canada. In a word: timeless.
What Doesn't Kill You Doesn't Make You Anything (4:09)
Darkly Down The Cellar Steps Again (5:02)
Review: John Heckle last released an album on Tabernacle three years ago, but he's been far from quiet since then with his Head Front Panel project diverting his attention towards blistering hard techno. Tone To Voice then represents a return to more melodic pastures with a more diverse selection of tempos and moods to choose from, but still Heckle's innate gift for expressive, dynamic machine music shines through. "Sonic Spectrometer" is a joyous slice of techno-jazz, while "Potential Life" whips up stunning cascading synth lines and pattering hats. At times, there's no need for a kick, and with ample ambient excursions woven into the mix this stands as one of Heckle's most accomplished releases yet.
Review: Despite being born and raised in Detroit, Luke Hess is rarely mentioned in the same breath as his Motor City peers. Then again, his brand and dub-infused techno doesn't fit neatly into the futurist narrative. This latest full-length flips the script slightly. While it has plenty of dub-flecked moments (see "Overcome" and "Humility"), there's a greater reliance on melody over mood. While this could be a reflection of the involvement of collaborator Omar-S, it's more likely an indication of Hess's development as a producer. Moving from hypnotic deep house to robust techno via beatless interludes, Keep On is Hess's most accessible set to date.
Review: For the first time since 2016, Jamal Moss has pitched up on Soul Jazz with a typically eccentric and mind-altering full-length excursion. As you'd expect, The Red Room is another triumph - an inspirational collection of otherworldly and melodious cuts that effortlessly combine elements from Moss's many major inspirations. One minute, you're wigging out to his jacking, piano-heavy fusion of gospel house and synth-jazz ("The Seduction Syndrome"), the next he's laying down a chunk of deep space ambient with Terry Riley synthesizer cycles ("Awake and Energize"). And so it goes on, breathlessly joining the dots between Sun Ra, Juan Atkins, Adonis, Steve Reich, L.I.E.S and Jeff Mills while sounding thoroughly different to all of them.
Review: Over the last few years, the team behind the Moog Sound Lab has encouraged a range of forward-thinking electronic musicians to come and jam on its obscure (and very rare) Modular 55 System prototype. The latest edition in the ongoing series of session recordings sees intergalactic Afro-futurist Hieroglyphic Being treat us to The Replicant Dream Sequence - an eight-part modular electronic treat that moves from drowsy, surprisingly colourful ambience ("Seq 1") and foreboding deep space soundscapes ("Seq 3"), to dreamy electronica ("Seq 4") and hypnotic EBM (standout "Seq 6", which also features his distinctive spoken vocals), via blistering techno ("Seq 8", "Seq 2"). Unlike many of his own releases, the sound is sparkling and crystal clear, allowing the quality of his compositions and arrangements to shine through.
Review: For the latest volume in their essential reissue series, Tresor has decided to offer up a brand new edition of Robert Hood's celebrated 1994 debut album, "Internal Empire". A quarter of a century after Hood first committed it to wax, it remains one of the Motor City maestro's most potent and inspired works. It effectively defined his throbbing, minimalist style, with heavy and hypnotic cuts such as the bleeping "Minus" and deep and wonky "Within" perfectly encapsulating the stripped-back genius of Hood's production. If you've yet to acquire a copy, we'd recommending grabbing one of these: in truth, no techno collection is complete without it.
Review: After the stunning Ostati album released on Organic Analogue last year, Georgia's HVL is back with a new album on the label for his home turf, Bassiani. As a resident of the infamous Tbilisi club, he knows innately how to communicate the vibe of one of the world's most widely discussed techno clubs, only this time he's taken a slightly tougher stance. "Eyes In The Sky" has a fierce, paranoid acid edge, while "F12 (Korg Patch Mix)" gets into freaky, cerebral techno territory. There are intriguing interludes and skits, and plenty more dancefloor heaters delivered with an inventiveness that once again affirms HVL's status as one of the brightest talents operating in the loosely defined field of deep techno.
Review: Amongst those that keep track of these things, German trio Hyonobeat are considered proto-techno pioneers. While it's not known whether Detroit's Belleville Three were fans, you could argue that Hynobeat's rhythm-focused approach pre-dated both techno and Chicago house. Thanks to this fine retrospective from Dark Entries, you can judge for yourself. The material included was all recorded between 1983 and 1986, with the wild, off-kilter polyrhythms and ragged TB-303 lines of "The Arumbeya Fetish", mutant electro of "Kilian" and high-octane thrust of the decidedly out-there "Mission in Congo" standing out. Remarkably, Hypnobeat would chain together drum machines and bass synthesizers to create their tracks - a practice that would later become common during the acid house era.
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.