Review: Right on cue, Rene Pawlowitz drops another set of Head High bangers just in time for summer. While previous releases from his much-loved Power House imprint have been short but sweet affairs, the brilliantly named Megatrap offers a full nine tracks of what Hard Wax have referred to quite concisely as "uplifting Breakbeat Techno in golden 1990s leaning style". Those who have heard the previous Head High material will know exactly what to expect, but there's still much excitement to be had in getting stuck into such a sizeable portion of throwback techno, the likes of which are likely to liven up any party. There was never any doubt, but Pawlowitz has done it again.
Review: As one of the more distinctive minimal house operators in these times, Ion Ludwig makes for a snug fit over at Trelik towers, and with this three tracker it's not hard to see why his records are so highly prized these days. "46 LJ + Felix Ballad" is a refined groover with a fine balance between gritty low end chunk and gossamer top-end, working subtle hits of bass and illustrious string sweeps into the mix to great effect. "EM Carpet" meanwhile darts out into more obscure territory, keeping the beats to a minimum and focusing on warm and fuzzy synth tones cycling
Review: An-i is the excellent new project from Doug Lee, a man previously responsible for some superb dancefloor ammo as part of TBD alongside Justin Vandervolgen, as well as working with Lovefingers on more mellow fare as The Stallions. If you were one of the lucky few to grab his Bad News 12" with LIES don Ron Morelli then you'll be ready for the haywire nature of the Kino-i EP. Finding a perfect home on Minimal Wave offshoot Cititrax, the EP sees the Berlin based producer indulge his machine love on three variations of the same track that almost explode off the wax - must check for fans of Nation, LIES, Mathematics. Pressed up on fluorescent 160gm yellow vinyl and housed in a high gloss black and white sleeve.
Review: Gesloten Cirkel has become one of techno's true cult figures since his emergence back in 2009 with a self-titled 12" for Viewlexx offshoot Murder Capital, exploring the strange fringe between techno and electro with intermittent releases for David Vunk's Moustache Techno and Berceuse Heroique. Supposedly from Russia, there has nonetheless been much speculation as to the producer's true identity, though his musical roots seem very much planted in the sound of The Hague. His debut album Submit X is described quite aptly as "not for the faint-hearted", featuring a host of electro and techno cuts filled with classic breakbeats, tripped out vocal samples and caustic acid lines. However, it's also an album which looks to classic minimal wave sounds for inspiration - the lean rhythm and vocoder of "Stakan" and decayed 8-bit textures of "Chatters" provide some of the album's most memorable moments, proving Gesloten Cirkel is a producer with a few tricks up his sleeve. Undoubtedly one of the albums of the year.
Review: The original Adventures in Techno Soul compilation was released back in 1996 with remixes of Ferox tracks from the likes of Derrick Carter, Carl Craig and Kenny Dixon Jr. A full 16 year's after its follow up "Further Adventures in Techno Soul" comes this 8 track album of new and unreleased material on double vinyl from 8 different and exciting artists. Ferox is proud to welcome established and respected producers such as Fred P and Germany's Move D to the roster, as well as a welcome return from Affie Yusuf, Nebraska and Bush Funk (Steve O'Sullivan and Winlord X) who were last seen on Soma Records back in 1996. The label is also proud to introduce two new artists, Darren Harris and Spain's Hoax Believers who alongside label boss Russ Gabriel round off this package of soulful electronica. This album is not available as a digital release.
Review: Veteran Italian producer Donato Dozzy and California's Tin Man are old pals, with the latter having first remixed the former way back in 2011. Here, the two join forces for a voyage into acid-flecked late night science for Absurd's ever excellent Acid Test series. "Test 7" sets the tone, delivering a hypnotic, heads-down journey into deep, stripped-back acid house. While it's the EP's most obviously floor-friendly moment, there's something far more thrilling about the bubbling, beatless electronics of "Test 2" and "Test 3". The latter, doused in minimal techno atmospherics, is intensely beautiful in its warm, melodic simplicity.
Review: The latest transmission of M Plant's 20th Anniversary celebrations sees label boss Robert Hood come through with some self styled 'replants' of recent Floorplan material. "Never Grow Old" of course originates from Hood's triumphant 2013 Floorplan LP Paradise, arriving midway through and impressive enough to feature in Ben Klock's Fabric mix. Here the gospel vibes remain but they are complemented by a searing Motor City key line that is really quite hypnotic over it's seven minute duration. Complementing this is a replant of "Phobia", one of Hood's last releases of 2013 which evens out the hoover rave overtones of the original in favour of some trippy synth loops that prove just as effective.
Review: Blawan and Pariah's Karenn project has remained very much a compelling fixture within the contemporary techno community largely off the back of their live hardware performances in clubs and festivals and a smattering of remixes. This has allowed the pair to gloss over the fact it's been some two years since we saw some original Karenn material, but you shouldn't fault artists for choosing to work at their own pace. This three track return, the sixth 12" issued on their own Works The Long Nights label, retains the trademark hardware-produced approach of previous Karenn material but does feel somewhat lighter and more playful in tone. No where is that more evident than the trumpeting synths that fluctuate with intensity throughout the barrelling abstract techno rhythms of "Nelly".
Review: While Luke Slater is busy as always, his Planetary Assault Systems output has slowed since the release of the all conquering Messenger LP for Ostgut Ton in 2011. For this Future Modular 12", Slater is less visceral and more arpeggiated than previous releases, harking back to a '90s-early-2000s PAS-sound, specifically the A-side's title-track. On the B-sides there's the deep, trippy and linear "Serc", but before that there's a sinister "Riot In Silo 12" that's showered in 909-hi-hats to get through first.
Review: Anyone that indulged in The Overlord, Willie Burns The Trilogy Tapes debut back in 2012, will attest that the creative stars seem to align when the WT Records founder chooses to work with his British namesake Bankhead. That four track release featured some of the most memorable and diverse music committed to wax by Burnett under his Willie Burns alias, and was made all the more special by some of Bankhead's best sleeve art in our opinion. The two Williams pair up once more for the Tab Of Acid 12" and it challenges Burnett's TTT debut in the excellence stakes. The title track is akin to travelling in a time machine to 4am on a Saturday night in Den Haag circa 1994 - real grotty basement acid techno! Providing contrast in a way Burnett does so well, the B-side offers two tracks of a more immersive nature, with "She Left In Spring" an exercise in dubby techno as pensive as the title would suggest.
Review: What can be said about this timeless banger that hasn't been said before? From the iconic throbs of acid to the delirious string hook, the menacing intonation of "ecstasy" to the eerie plastic strings, this is as seminal as a rave track can get. While many out there will no doubt have this jam tucked away on any number of techno compilations or cramped up on one of the original single issues, "Energy Flash" is a track more than worthy of its own luxuriant single-sided release, and in doing such a release so many years on R&S are making a powerful statement.
Review: Be it Tusk Wax, Horn Wax or Porn Wax, the collective of labels continues to develop into one you willingly place your trust in safe in the knowledge the standard of music will be optimum regardless of genre or contributor. Tusk Wax Thirteen sees the label debut of Clouded Vision co-founder Steve Cook who is perhaps the lesser celebrated producer than his Clouded Vision cohort and part time hair model Matt Walsh. However the four tracks here demonstrate perfectly Cook's capacity to craft thick, analogue house music of various shades and tempos yet all primed for the dancefloor. "Self Control" and "Still Hardcore" are the sort of languid, spacious acid cuts Weatherall would open a set with, whilst "Juno How I Feel" is wonderfully ascendant in its execution. The effervescent "Hacid" is the B Side most selectors will pull for, with a restrained acid line that complements the heavenly chords to a tee.
Review: Dial regular Efdemin returns with a third album of a respected career, with the autumnal theme of Decay inspired by the German producer's three-month artist residency in Kyoto, Japan. Sollmann immersed himself in the local culture while in Kyoto, attending ceremonies with monks at temples and visiting local instrument makers. This results in a ten track set that canvasses the sort of poignant, introverted house music that's characterised much of Phillip Sollmann's work as Efdemin to date. There are however a few stylistic surprises along the way - the stripped back, jacking "Transducer" or the fusion of jazzy licks and noisy bursts of percussion that makes up the title track - but overall you'd be hard pushed to think of a better label to house Decay than Dial.
Review: Off Minor Recordings continues to be a family affair. Launched by Jordan 'Jordash' Czamanski with some solo material under his Crybaby J alias, the label then turned to the evidently sizeable archives of Move D for the excellent EP The KM20 Tapes. Here Czamanski and Moufang team up with Gal 'Juju' Aner for some rare, recorded output from their improvised hardware project Magic Mountain High. The Tiny Breadcrumbs EP begins with the low-end buzz and hi-end hiss of "Suub" which is met by elongated kicks and an octave changing synth tone. It's "Riptide", though, that gives us the first taste of techno musicality associated with the trio, coming in the form of an aquatic synth loop, and later, complimenting pads. Over on the B-side, "Avalanche", with its white-noise impersonating wind sequences is the EP's 'club' track which sees bumbling blips pitched against an overworked 808, while respite from lo-fi rawness is presented as "Don't Cry For Me Argentina (No Compromise mix)", an intelligent slice of hardware crafted deep house.
Review: A diverse and damaging three track EP from Detroit legend DJ Bone, The Detroit EP Part 1 sees the producer exploring and exhibiting Detroit techno musically, figuratively and spiritually. The melancholy vocal refrain and ethereal pads that float through "here To Stay (Won't Stay Away" recall his classic "We Control The Beat", while "Detroit Is Soul" offers a more upbeat percussive tool filled with futuristic synths. "Detroit Is Hard" rounds things out, offering a more minimal track comprised of arpeggio and meaty drums. If you don't know DJ Bone yet, this is a great place to start.
Review: This fall, Trevino makes a rare appearance off the golf course with a four-track EP on his brand-new label, Birdie. Up to this point, the Manchester-based producer's work has been scattered across imprints manned by industry heavyweights like Ben Klock's 'Klockworks' and Martyn's '3024', but now he's made a home for his own relentless output. It was a natural step for a stalwart who never stops creating, and manning his own platform has allowed him to explore the depths of his sound with no holds barred.
The EP opens with "To The Core", a driving house track with melancholic synths and metallic percussion. "Warmer" is more of a sunrise jam; it inspires a sense of wonder with gliding synths, yo-yoing melodies, and cute bleep-bloops. The b-side features the more ominous track "Playtime", which develops a menacing edge with a gritty bassline, and "Mesmerize," another psychedelic cut with wavering synths and glittering instrumentation.
Review: More brain-melting techno from Rrose on the producer's Eaux label - and if you take the label's other releases into account: you've been warned. "Pentagons" is a gurgling self-modulating monster of climbing tones and destroyed frequencies - think Kevin Gorman's "7am Stepper" on a brutal overdose of steroids, while "Ammonia" sees Rrose return to the Sandwell District sound we all fell in love with in 2011, only cultivated further. Completing this monolithic release is the acid-tripping "Mirror", a minimal (by Rrose standards), resonance-fuelled trip down the rabbit hole every clubber should experience every now and then. Donato Dozzy eat your heart out!
Review: A sixth release on Jurg Haller's excellent Forbidden Planet sees the focus swerve back to lesser known talents after that coup in a 12" by Mono Junk, with Berlin-based newcomer Annanan at the helm. There's a paucity of information on the artist from the label (intentional or otherwise) which ensures the focus remains squarely on the music, and those inquisitive soles not put off by a lack of yarn spinning will be rewarded with three sublime cuts. Lead track "124" booms and bristles in all the right places, with an intoxicating dub techno pulse at its core which resonates brightly with sonic intensity as the A side run out groove draws ever closer. On the B side, "ACIDz x2" fluctuates superbly between grizzled acid and saturated deepness, whilst the appropriately named "Satin" reins in the madness for a supple, widescreen journey into techno loaded with atmosphere.
Review: If you've been keeping abreast of all things Minimal Wave this year, you'll probably have picked up on Veronica Vasicka hinting at a forthcoming split release from Silent Servant and Broken English Club, the new project from UK techno man Oliver Ho. We've certainly been eagerly awaiting it her at Juno HQ and it's great to see Violence And Divinity live up to and surpass these expectations! Silent Servant mans the A Side with two tracks that will be familiar to anyone that's been lucky enough to catch his live sets of late, indeed it's almost too easy to visualise the flashing strobes as the pummelling EBM lines of "Cut Unconscious" unravel and beat you down. The two accompanying productions from Ho's Broken English Club dovetail nicely, but veer off into more wave orientated territory, with "Divinity" sounding quite like some of the earlier material put out by In Aeternam Vale. In a word superb.
Review: Spencer Parker's Work Them label continues to grow as an outpost for club ready tools, with their latest release a remix shaped celebration of last year's Radioslave platter Report Myself. In original form the record was a perfect display of Matt Edwards capacity to distil house music down to it's bare essentials, so it's little surprise the label have chosen two remixers who build the track back up and take it in their own inimitable direction. First up is Berghain's latest pin up resident Rodhad who unsurprisingly moulds the track into a slab of hypnotic 9am techno with some truly crafty manipulation of the vocal, and it's complemented well by Bearweasel who opts to indulge his 303.
Review: Launched last year as an extension of the successful Montreal radio show and loft party of the same name, Jurg Haller's Forbidden Planet has eased itself into the affections of record buyers everywhere. Inaugurated by D'Marc Cantu's Some Fantasies Are Good, Forbidden Planet has since introduced unheralded names like Breaker 1 2 and Boreal & Lnrdcroy, artists you can spend hours wandering down blind alleys on the internet trying to identify. The label's fourth release sees Forbidden Planet call on a more established name again in the shape of Mono Junk, aka Finnish producer Kimmo Rapatti. Much like the Finn's recent turn out for Skudge White, this untitled four track 12" really slams home how criminally underrated Rapatti is as a producer. There's hints of Psyche era Carl Craig to opening track "Shotokai" and from here Mono Junk showcases his production versatility taking in woozy mind benders ("Bleep Number 9"), nimble melodic electro ("With You") and subaqueous techno filled with deft rhythmic touches ("Kime").
Review: Collaborations are often the fortune of timing. With Andy having moved on since closing the Dissident label to launching his Cave Paintings project to Tim's departure from Battant and striking out as Andrew Weatherall's engineer and soon to be co-member of The Asphodells, an alliance was born between the two to undertake a series of live jam sessions at each's respective studios. A love of new wave, new beat, UK Bleep and Detroit techno all feature in B-Ultras and the aptly titled, Neu Beat. Both cuts are heavily soaked in the pitch black, smoke machine funk and strob-laden fug of Andy's (and co-hort Joe Hart) infamous World Unknown dancefloor. Running at around 10 minutes the tracks are essentially an examination of acid house's ideals. Clattering hats, throbbing basslines, stabbing keys and doses of 303. Keeping it pretty simple but all about a pure groove on and on. Backing these up is a remix of B-Ultras from Jamie Paton that accentuates the groove and drags the acid deeper down to some B-boy Dub throwdown - with more to follow from all protagonists in 2014.
Review: PO FOLK sees Berlin newcomers make a welcome return to Klasse Recordings, their second EP for the label is a stripped to the bone work-out of all killer no filler. PO FOLK comes in two versions, the 'HATE' version kicks off with distorted kicks and stabs before dropping to a devastating buzzy bassline. Techno and House in equal form, the track is perfect mix of light and dark. Vocals come courtesy of the group themselves, re-voicing a classic track that might be familiar to some. The 'LOVE' version brings some melody and warmth into play, but still retains all the analogue fuzz and nastiness. MPC style sample cut ups ride the beat and transport the track to another heavy bassline and vocal chat. Berlin based Panorama Bar favourites, Analogue Cops join the ranks of Klasse Recordings with a unique take on the title track. Playing out as a live jam session, the Restoration Records duo dub out the original parts and turn in a version that is as relentless as it is intriguing. Heavy on the bass and with double the weirdness, their interpretation is sure to cause havoc on any willing dancefloor. Wrapping up the EP is 'Black Widow', an atmospheric and dynamic track that builds slowly before introducing a huge sub bass. Reduced to only the most essential of parts, 'Black Widow' is sure to play out well in any forward thinking DJ set.
Review: Chaotic Nation is arguably one of Chicago legend Steve Poindexter's most sought-after EPs. Originally released in 1991 on the short-lived Chicago Underground label, original copies fetch upwards of L35 online. This reissue, then, is long overdue. It's notable how well the material has aged. Tracks such as "Mental Problems (Bonustrack)" and "Destiny" neatly combine Poindexter's usual jacking, robotic machine drums with bustling basslines and jaunty melodies, whilst retaining the space and dancefloor hustle that always marked out the Chicagoan's productions. For anyone interested in original Chicago house, Chaotic Nation should be an essential purchase.
Review: The Cronenberg referencing Crimes Of The Future label from Messrs. Fairplay and Fraser gathers further pace on their second release, looking across the Atlantic and focussing on the enigmatic works of Elizabeth Merrick Jefferson. From her Detroit base, Jefferson has one previous release to call on in the shape of the Urban Off Road 12" for the Argot label. The promise demonstrated there is explored further within the context of this four track Quetzalcoatl 12" for COTF, expounding colourful take on Detroit house filled with rich star gazing qualities that would attract the attention of Timothy and Scott.
Review: James Ruskin has of course individually collaborated with Mark Broom, as well a forming The Fear Ratio project for Blueprint, and he's worked with Regis as O/V/R, but a solo record from the boss on his own label hasn't been heard since 2009. Throughout the Silt EP, sounds from these collaborations creep in and out of the three productions, while the title-track sounds like something that would fit right into a [Phase] EP. There's a definite Warp, albeit Lakker and The Fear Ratio sonic to the melancholic "Wisdom Of Youth", while the murky slither of "Emotional Erode" is the EP's unexpected, ambient, and rhythmic dub-leaning highlight.