Shit & Shine - Powder Horn (Diagonal)
Diagonal continues what is arguably a killer year with the release of the latest album from Texan artist Craig Clouse’s Shit & Shine project. While Clouse has worked with other artists in the past creating grizzled noise rock, Powder Horn
is a solo affair that sees him continue to explore the dance floor in a similar way to last year’s EP for the label. Diagonal’s own description of Powder Horn
as a collection of “deviant funk, wiry disco and burnt-out acid” is about as accurate as anything we could come up with, proving just as unpredictable as label co-owner Powell’s own material.
In Aeternam Vale - Jealous God 05 (Jealous God)
Thanks to a series of killer reissues on Minimal Wave over the past few years, Laurent Prot’s In Aeternam Vale project has been lifted from obscurity to be given the attention it rightly deserves. Originally operating in the ‘80s, the outfit’s synthesiser compositions now look incredibly ahead of their time, with the kind of sound that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Sandwell District record a few years ago. It makes sense then that Regis, Silent Servant and James Ruskin have approached Prot to provide the fifth release on their Jealous God label. Consisting of three more recent tracks than those reissued on Minimal Wave, they still come with all the robust yet tripped-out sonics that make his take on machine music so alluring.
Rick Wilhite - Vibes Rare and New 2 Part 2 (Rush Hour)
Back in 2010, Rush Hour asked Three Chairs member Rick ‘The Godson’ Wilhite to oversee Vibes New & Rare Music
, an 11-track compilation and series of 12″ samplers celebrating his role as head of the Vibes New & Rare Music record store in Detroit. This double LP set represents the second part of the second compilation, which sees Wilhite’s remit expanded to include artists from Chicago and New York alongside those from Detroit, meaning exclusive tracks from Moodymann and DJ Stingray sit alongside those from Jovonn, K Alex Shelby, Los Hermanos and more.
Simoncino - Abele Dance (L.I.E.S.)
is Italian house producer Nick Anthony Simoncino’s second appearance on L.I.E.S., following a hazy set of reverential Chicago-influenced jams back in 2012. Though Simoncino has appeared on Creme, Mathematics and many other labels since, there’s always a sense of expectation that comes with a L.I.E.S. release, and on Abele Dance
it seems Ron Morelli has got some more of the producer’s best material out of him. Switching expansive Chicago skylines for darker Detroit vibes, the name of the track “Spirit of Transmat” leaves us under no illusions as to the producer’s influences for this record. Thankfully it’s not a weak imitation but the kind of retro-futuristic techno you could genuinely imagine being put out on the famed label back in the ‘80s.
Roman Flügel - Happiness Is Happening (Dial)
Roman Flügel must be one of Germany’s consistently surprising producers. Despite creating era-defining tracks like “Geht’s Noch” and “Rocker” as one half of Alter Ego, his Fatty Folders album for Dial in 2011 reined in the bangers to create a series of deep, hypnotic and melodic techno. Happiness Is Happening
sees him return with another long-player supposedly dropping its predecessor's more complex elements for something he described to Resident Advisor as “more machine driven”. It’s something obvious from standout tracks like “Stuffy”, “Your War Is Over” and “Parade”, all of which bring an effervescent sci-fi sheen to Flügel’s brilliantly odd compositions.
V/A - Proibito 007 (Proibito)
With Anthony Naples’ Proibito label now established, the Mitsuda
12” offers the New York producer an opportunity to switch things up for the seventh release. Electing to forgo the single artist approach to gather a various artist posse of established producers and up and coming talent, the four tracks on offer each tap into the murky world of underground US house and techno Naples is so knowledgeable about. In terms of the known faces, label regular Huerco S appears with an ‘80s-leaning house cut under the Independance Ave. Orchestra name, and Mister Saturday Night’s Hank Jackson delivers the hypnotic “Mongoos”. The new names are equally as impressive, with the African rhythms of Jackson Lee’s “Sumba Togola” and suave melodies of Alex Falk’s “Mitsuda” equally as good.
Black Rain - Dark Pool (Blackest Ever Black)
As well as being the primary creative force behind notable no wave act Ike Yard, Stuart Argabright was also primarily responsible for Black Rain alongside Shinichi Shimokawa in the '90s, and it was Blackest Ever Black who reintroduced the act with a reissue of a soundtrack originally earmarked to appear on the Hollywood adaptation of William Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic
. Dark Pool
represents the first new material from the project in 18 years, supposedly inspired by Philip K. Dick protégé K.W. Jeter, and Paolo Bacigalupi’s 2009 novel The Windup Girl
. If that's a little oblique, then let's just say Dark Pool
pretty much lives up to its name, a swirling morass of cybernetic rhythms and gloomy synthetic textures, and is proof that Argabright is undergoing something of a critical renaissance.
Patricia - Side Piece EP (Spectral Sound)
One of the undisputed highlights of the Opal Tapes discography last year was Body Issues
, a cassette from a male Brooklyn producer operating under the female moniker Patricia. Despite his lo-fi house and techno leanings, Body Issues
displayed a depth and fragility missing from so much of the current wave of hardware dance music, and was the subject of a deserving vinyl release on the label’s Black Opal imprint earlier this year. With the Inhalants collaboration with Jahillya Fields on L.I.E.S., it makes sense that Patricia should go on to much bigger things, and fact that Side Piece
arrives on the long-running Spectral Sound label shows just how highly regarded Patricia’s productions are. Once again, emotion and maturity simmer through the fuzz, especially in the glowing pads that shimmer through the blown-out Jamal Moss style drums on “Hulderhusan”. The legend that is JTC steps up for remix duties on his I-94 lick of “Drip Dawn” too, giving it a buff and shine and adding some killer Chicago vibes too.
Mind Fair - CEREMONY/Take Me To The Bridge (Golf Channel)
>Mind Fair will be a familiar name to those keeping abreast of the more reputable side of the contemporary disco genre; consisting of Chicken Lips man Dean Meredith and Ben Shenton, the psychedelic disco project has seen an impressive series of records for labels like International Feel, Rogue Cat and Golf Channel over the past few years. It’s the latter the duo seem to have most affinity with, with a debut album due later this year. First however the duo have elected to release two 12” singles as a taster. If you like the idea of a disco outfit nestled somewhere between the all-out paranoia of Padded Cell and the lighter contemporary touches of Midnight Magic, these records are well worth a look.
Manuel Gonzales - Filth (Wicked Bass)
The Wicked Bass label has seen some of underground house and techno’s most exciting names grace its ranks, with Huerco S, Innershades and Photomachine all delivering records over the past few years. The label’s sixth release sees Detroit’s Manuel Gonzales drop the MGUN name for a rare release under his given name. Entitled Filth
, the three-track 12” more than lives up to its name, delivering some of his grottiest techno to date; “Mono Port”, “Frosted Lakes” and “Chip Implemented” all come swathed in the sort of bit-crushed synth tones, gnarled acid and crunchy kicks Jamal Moss would be envious of. Despite this, it’s Gonzales’s inventive arrangements that shine through, and there’s no sign of the prolific producer’s ideas drying up any time soon.