Review: 4E used to be Khan's apartment number in New York City's East Village back in the late 90's. 4E became the trademark sound for his downbeat acid infused electro work. On his kitchen floor he produced a very unique brand of futuristic funk tracks with only a ROLAND TB-303, SH-101 and the Hip-Hop fundamental SP1200 drum sampler. Besides a couple of 12"s for Force Inc. Music and the "Gentle Killer E.P." on Freddy Fresh's Socket imprint, 4E released the highly acclaimed downbeat electro album "4E4ME4YOU" on German glitch label Mille Plateaux. Back in 1998 4E shared the now legendary 12" with I-F "Space Invaders Are Smoking Grass" on the "From Beyond Series" by Ectomorph's Interdimensional Transmissions. Pills & Thrills" on Temple Traxx is four previously unreleased acid-electro stomper that are as funky and noisy as it can get on an East Village kitchen floor.
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: Two of Detroit's most influential movers and shakers, it's about time Di'jital and Maaco enjoyed some of the limelight usually taken up the city's larger than life DJ characters. Here we find them brewing up the clippy, clicky classic electro groove "Aliens N Effect". Uptempo and nagging with a deadly scratchy riff, it's an instant bodypopper. Comes complete with an instrumental, a dub and a technicolour revisitation of Di'Jital's 2006 workout "Armada."
Review: Northern Electronics return here with their fourteenth release and it comes from an unexpected source in Dorisburg. Also known as one half of Genius Of Time, Alexander Berg's solo project is not a name one would immediately associate with the frosted sonic vistas of Northern Electronics on the basis of previous output for Aniara and Bossmusik. However the three tracks present on Splade certainly suggest Berg doesn't look out of place on the NE roster alongside Abdulla Rashim, Varg, Acronym and the others. "Splade" finds Berg expertly toying with delay and effects over a refined dub techno groove that bristles with detailed abstraction, whilst the excellent "Business Propaganda" brings a touch of the West Country steppers vibe to proceedings. B-side hugger "Uncertainly" is the kind of dubby terrain you want to lose yourself in.
Review: Frak must be amongst the most consistent artists in techno. Some 26 years after launching their Borft Records imprint, they're still churning out bizarre 12" exercises in grotty Scandinavian techno, with very little sign of their notoriously high quality threshold slipping. Realismo delivers three more winding, twisting analogue treats, kicking off with ten-minutes of mid tempo, acid-flecked, heads-down freakery (the brilliantly icy, but also strangely intense "Nerve Netting"). "Progressive Lattitude" is a little fuzzier and more distorted, but explores similar sonic territory. Things get more hectic on closer "Major Attack", which is a typically wild interpretation of acid house with additional razor-sharp electronics.
Review: Between 2012 and 2017, grad_u released nine EPs of high quality dub techno on the vinyl-only Redscale imprint. With the label now seemingly a thing of the past, the prolific Lithuanian producer has decided to gather together all 19 tracks from those sought-after vinyl EPs on CD for the very first time. Those who have paid close attention to grad_u's career will know what to expect, namely an evocative mixture of deep, hypnotic techno epics, delay-laden dub techno workouts, spacey late night rollers, abstract dancefloor explorations and occasional surprise turns towards a bolder, warehouse-friendly style (see the formidably sweaty and sub-heavy "Holdback").
Review: Brian Kage's fourth release on Michigander Music "303 in the 313 EP" features 4 uniquely gritty and acid-soaked manifestations of mid 90's Detroit. This exercise in analog monosynth mastery directly connects the grittiness of the urban landscape with the raw spirit of creative freedom. Detroitasaurus starts the record off with a subtle prehistoric soundscape, steadily building rhythmic tension using hypnotic toms and melodic drum patterns. Razor sharp 909 hats hammer down there through the sonic mist as the journey continues to build. Shrieking jurassic trumpets cap off each of the peaking climbs to reveal metallic broken-down structures that are bound together with oscillating 303 threads and a grooving bassline. Van Dyke Vessel features an atmosphere of textured percussion and metallic analog synths that wind around a deep square bass groove. Suddenly, truncated growling vocal samples start to collect into the catchy phrase "Let's take this to outer space". Swelling pads give way to squealing acid as this track transports dancers to a nostalgic melodic dimension. Delray Dance undulates with thick bass slowly building into a body focused groove as it winds up and gives way to a rugged 303 saw with fluttering Spanish style synth stabs. Classic Detroit pads continue to swell, adding to the tension and leaving enough sonic space for melodic mixes in and out. This tune is the perfect tool to transition between genres. Zonin breaks the mold by combining old-school electro vibes with a heavy dose of acid and freestyle hip hop. Heavy broken beats are combined with a rockin' nostalgic bassline and layered party vocals that transports you to the center of the dancefloor on the best night you've ever had.
Review: March has kicked off with some stellar house and techno pieces, but a return from the Parassela crew has made this the best month in a long while. We'd been truly missing this collaborative project between The Analogue Cops and Blawan, three minds which together helped to truly instil a sound within the contemporary house and techno game over the last five years. If you're listening to raw, stripped-back house these days, it's down to projects such as Parassela; that post-2010 wave of goodness very much includes these guys in the list. They return for one of their inimitable faux white labels on the Cops' own mighty Restoration label, and it's clear that they crew had been missing each other's company as of late. "Track 1" is classic Parassela nastiness thanks to a dark, intricate mould of hardware beats and distorted melodies with that unmistakable, tape-kissed hiss, and "Track 2" delivers more of the same except that the groove is more minimal here. On the flip, "Track 3" injects more of a house-centric movement into the equation, while "Track 4" heads off into sparser, more desolate territories that remind us of just how multi-talented this group of producers are. Unmissable, really...
Review: More unreleased and remastered content from dub techno veteran Steve Hitchell aka Radius' Obsolete Machines and Interpolation Tapes projects. Said to have been restored from cassette live recordings between 1995-2000, the project has been on hiatus since 2001. The demos were initially sent to Rod Modell and Mike Schommer shortly after they launched the label, but passed it on to Octal Records for release. Sadly, that didn't materialise. Modell and Schommer dedicated a generous portion of their time remastering the release. From the introspective and personal dub of "Soul Rotation" (unreleased tape mix), the glacial and cavernous immersion of "Culture" (original 12" mix) and not to mention some powerful soundscapes from the great north of Michigan in the form of "Interpolation Tape" Parts One & Six.
Review: Second time around for Random XS's sought-after debut single "Give Your Body", which first appeared on legendary techno imprint Djax-Up-Beats way back in 1992. It was the Dutch outfit's debut and remains a peerless chunk of bass-heavy, funk-fuelled techno rich in pulsating electronics, mangled vocal samples and snappy, ghetto-house influenced beats. On this reissue, the original version comes accompanied by two tasty new re-rubs. First Delta Funktionen re-casts the track as a mind-altering, acid-fired slab of psychedelic peak-time electro, before Lost Trax lays down a clanking, percussively intense version that sits somewhere between industrial strength Chicago jack and buzzing Low Countries techno. Both revisions capture the essence of Random XS's vintage anthem while taking it in thrilling new directions.
Review: As with the Surkit Chamber reissue by A.r.t.l.e.s.s, this collection of tracks from unsung hero Martin Bonds is jaw-dropping purely for the age of the music against how advanced it sounds. Detroit radiates out of every ounce of this original techno, whether in subtle rhythms as on "Sundog", or in blindingly bright layers of futuristic melody as on "Vessels In Distress". Even if you sometimes find really early Detroit techno production to lacking some punch, this and any other Reel By Real material will put paid to that. Just try denying the awesome power of the bassline on "Serene". Highly recommended.
Review: As 2015 draws to a close, Stephen Porter member Katsunori Sawa releases his debut solo album for the intriguing Weevil Neighbourhood. It's a pleasingly varied affair, with the Japanese producer touching on numerous styles whilst retaining a crackly, late night atmosphere throughout. After opening with the evocative, creeping ambience of "Beginning", he moves onto the shuffling, hypnotic dancefloor spookiness of "Escape", and elastic minimalism of "Immediate Awareness". "Anxious Kid" is a tribal-tinged dash of IDM darkness, while "Antagonist" is thrillingly difficult to describe. Arguably best of the lot, though, is closer "Unauthorized Page", which bristles with industrial textures, surging rhythms and complex percussive arrangements.
Review: One half of the Steven Porter duo, Katsunori Sawa, debuts solo on the Weevil Neighbourhood, a mysterious Berlin label borne out of the equally enigmatic, and now defunct, Weevil Series. Here Sawa delivers four tracks of industrial and experimental sound design, minus the ear shattering sonics and overbearing drone that other producers of a similar creed may employ. Windswept waves of white noise blow across "Augur" while its drums create a syncopated groove like that of injured beetle limping to safety. Piston pumping sound effects and factory ambience soundtrack "Black Sugar", while "Phenomenon" is the EP's most rhythmically coherent production. Sawa then ends on "NGM" which sounds like the night time hustle of New York city night heard from the empty viewing deck of the Empire State Building.