Review: Saktu is an alias of Sasha Kaktus, boss of the St. Petersburg-based Heisenberg label. He returns for a new EP with buddy Alex Adamov for the first time since 2016's Kacheli EP on Reshape Agency. On the A side we have a rolling and ethereal cut that is the title track - this one is certain to have major crossover appeal from fans of UK tech house to the Rominimal sound. On the flip, you are treated to the equally hypnotic futurist bounce of "Flicker" which will appeal to fans of Sublee or Piktor. It then gets a rework by Berlin-based deep house hero Maik Yells, who takes the track down a trippier and more arcane route.
Review: Mark Ambrose brings his years of expertise in the deeper end of the techno spectrum to bear on this latest joint for Crayon, the label he founded way back in the mid 90s. "Destiny Angel" is a stomping, expansive cut with a cinematic lilt to its sound design and melodic progression - one for people to truly travel on. "Bleeps & Bits" is a more rugged workout that digs deep into intricate rhythm programming and FX processing to create a unique future-tribal flavour. "Just Tonight" keeps the beats dynamic and broken, but with a much hookier punch and some choice vocal snippets that should find favour with all kinds of DJs.
Review: Techno heads with an appreciation of forgotten and almost-lost gems will be happy with this one. Mark Ambrose's 'Dimensions' first saw the light of day on Steve O'Sullivan's Mosaic way, way back in 1997, and here is finally remastered for the modern world. And what a treat it is. A shining example of just how compelling, addictive and inescapable tracks can be without needing to be particularly hard, those looking for adjectives will find them in the likes of tough, solid and crisp. The four tracks all follow a similar trajectory, deep but purposeful dancefloor stuff where sub bass rules and alien noises become warbling hooks- not leat on 'Cable Talk'. Those looking to stomp in the dark may find 'Signs 'N' Lights' is the go-to, 'Photo Funk' is pure darkroom mechanical groove and 'Bassoon' a sharp tech builder.
Review: Staggeringly, this tidy tech-house EP from Dan Andrei is not only the Romanian's first release of any sort for four years, but also his first vinyl single since 2011. He begins in confident mood with "SOS", a gentle, undulating affair where pulsing electronics, drowsy chords and fizzing audio glitches clamber atop of a warm, mind-altering bassline and unfussy machine drums. "In The Bass" is a darker and wonkier workout for clubs that like it dark and clandestine, while "Still Unclear" adds warming deep house chords and dusty melodies to a futuristic tech-house groove. To round things off, Andrei offers up a spot of alien tech-house chug where swirling, deep space chords and another ear-catching bassline dominate the sound space.
Review: Priku has really ramped up the output of his Atipic imprint in the last couple of years. While its past output seemed to focus on more experimental stuff by himself (as Adrian Niculae) and Vincentiulian, the last few releases by Vlad Arapasu, Arapu, Faster and Romar sees the label's sound now aimed squarely at main room dancefloors. The latest offering comes from ardb aka Bogdan Ardeleanu. ATIPIC 008 maintains the same level of quality you've come to expect from the label. On the A side we have some sublime minimal house tackle, properly tried out on the dancefloors of Bucharest's acclaimed afterhours scene - no doubt. On the flip, "008.3" is a smooth and sensual deep house groove, followed by the glacial introversion of dub techno influenced journey "008.4".
Review: Artists who made club-focused music tend to debut with singles or EPs, so it's something of a surprise to find that Arno's first release is a triple-vinyl album of tasty dancefloor tracks that sit somewhere between hypnotic tech-house, warm deep house and mind-altering electro missives. As debuts go, it's very impressive, with highlights dotted across all three slabs of wax. Our current favourites include the skittishly funky electro skip of "Sacre Bleu", the sparse, bass-heavy minimal techno throb of "Start Making Sense", the ghostly deep space shuffle of "Set Me Free" and the out-there wonder of "Cleopatra Jones", where oddball electronic noises rise above a deep and drowsy bed of hazy ambient chords and densely layered drums.
Review: Fresh from dropping some heat on Leftroom, Alex Arnout continues his productive streak with this sterling return to Jack's House after he last graced the label with its first release back in 2016. "Sync Jam" packs a serious shuffle that hits squarely in the pleasure plexus for any discerning tech house head, while "Calling U" adopts a playfully spooky tone as it wriggles through a plethora of freaky synth squiggles. "Resergen" completes the set with a spirited dash through hooky techno drum programming and a mean chord line that captures a little old-skool optimism in the process.
Review: Pascal Benjamin is next up on Constant Black, following strong prior bouts from Michael James and Daniel Akbar. The Dutch producer has been dropping bombs on SlapFunk, Botanic Minds and many more in recent years, and he's sounding taut and toned on this slab of after-hours goodness. "Rascale" is one of those snaking tech house joints where the devil is in the details, crying out for a crisp soundsystem to bring the subtleties of sound design to life. "5th Snooze" is a more tightly wound affair with a subtle jazziness rubbed into its joints, while "Full Colour" brings the kind of funky bump and trippy mood you used to find on the Trapez label. "Liez" completes the set with a sharp approach that wriggles its way under the skin.
Review: Mulen's latest must-check release is a collaborative affair from experienced producer Alexis Cabrera (Raummusik, Salty Nuts, Yaji) and Jorge Saveretti (Esperanza, Visionquest, Cadenza). Given their collective history, you'll be unsurprised to learn that the "Some EP" is really rather good. They set their stall out via an impressive title track that wraps spacey but funky riffs, deep space pads and undulating acid lines around a memorable bassline and typically swinging tech-house beats). "KInda" tips a wink to the glitchy, bass-heavy sound of Romanian minimal techno and the swinging intergalactic tech-house funk of Paris's YYY label, while "Science" is a deep, woozy and wonky affair full of minor key bleeps, jazzy motifs and locked-in beats.
Review: Earthen Sea adds to the Kimochi Sound with a soulful examination of indistinct margins, suffused with dusky haze. It's a heady atmosphere and has a palpable heaviness throughout. Starting the record are the concrete reverberations of You Don't Never Know, followed by the murky ebb and flow of Fly. 13 Beat(less) is diffused ambience.
Shielding fittingly closes the record, and weaves Earthen Sea's many textures with intricate syncopation.
Review: The shadowy EEE series has already brought us tasty and much-played tech-house interpretations of a familiar jazz-house gem and a string-laden '80s synth-pop shuffler. Their third single-sided affair - as championed by Zip and Riccardo, no less - takes on a much-loved early noughties R&B classic, placing carefully selected and sequenced vocal snippets around a seriously snappy and sub-bass-heavy groove. Although tech-house in style - note the glitchy electronic noises and spacey effects fixed to the beats - the track's infectious rhythm track was clearly influenced by the current electro revival. This added swing and shoulder-swinging looseness, coupled with the familiarity of the vocal elements, makes EEE03 a guaranteed peak-time winner.
Review: We're always thrilled when another edition of the E-Wax series drops! Following in the timeless spirit of UK tech house, the Berlin-based label serve up another mysterious release by an anonymous artist - but we have a few guesses as to whom it may be. These four cuts will be reliable secret weapons for any DJ keen on the afterhours, or the Sunday afternoon sessions alike. We were digging the sunny and emotive acid vibe of A1 and the sensual swing-fuelled deepness of A2, while the B side was definitely ruled by "Blk 03" - getting on that punchy and infectious Ukranian vibe popularised by the likes of iO (Mulen) or Silat Beksi.
Review: Universally respected French artist Okain - master of house music - is up next on Ben Rau's META Imprint under his brand new alias House of Kain. The A-side "Throwback" is a rolling house track with a rumbling MPC groove that references the sounds of late 90's tech house, but updated for today's dancefloors. On the flip, things get even deeper and emotive with a full sense of swing on the super groovy "Time Factor". Following up some great releases on Be Chosen, Infuse and his own Talman Records - Samuel Thalmann continues on with a winning streak of killer records of late.
Review: Active for the past couple of years, Burnski's Instinct alter ego has been a revealing window into the ruder side of this seasoned producer's repertoire, and so it continues on round seven of this self-titled label series. The A-side jam "Operation" finds the Leeds stalwart in UK Garage mode, riding a mean bassline flex and amping up the 2-Step shuffle. Jack Michael takes up the B-side mission with a razor-sharp electro workout that matches bleepy electronica with badass breaks and nasty bass to get bodies freaking all over the joint. This is a record precision primed for basement sessions - if you're looking for some sounds to do real damage in the dance, look no further.
Review: Russia's Nina Kraviz graces the record buying public with her first material in some time, with the three tracks on Ghetto Kraviz the prelude to a full album pencilled in for release on Rekids at some point next year. Nods to the seminal Dance Mania imprint abound as soon as your eyes clasp on the cover art, and this continues with the stripped down music held within, as Kraviz's languid drawl is looped up and dizzyingly placed amidst the minimalist; low slung bass and 808 flex on the title track. "Jealousy" is that bit smokier, with Kraviz herself sounding slightly intoxicated amidst the stripped down jack. (Intriguingly both sound quite fun when spun at 45 rpm). As the flipside "Show Me Your Time" operates at 45prm there's no footwork fun to be had there, though it's an equally potent combination of Kraviz's vocals laid atop each other amidst the sub heavy beat.
Review: More fuzzy and tripped-out techno on the old school tip, from Swiss wunderkind (and one third of Les points) LOUH - making his debut for Berlin-based retroverts Libertine. He's certainly found a fitting home with this bunch, who follow up some wicked releases by legends like Luke Vibert and Phil Merrall. For the second installment of their new Libertine Industries, get a taste for the acid life on the dity bass driven shenanigans of "Azeed Dualism" and likewise "K.T.P." ( Insane Dogma Version). On the flip, the frantic and hyperaware shuffle of "Lupus Vice" will give you your much needed fix of electro breaks.
Review: Dutch minimal house Maestro Ion Ludwig makes a somewhat surprising yet absolutely worthy appearance on Raresh's Metereze imprint. The Deventer native's idiosyncratic sound shines on "A Better Future To Long EP", comprised of what the label describes as three "electronic mandalas". Mesmerising A side cut "140 KM/H" is reminiscent of his acclaimed live sets - a long and meandering cut that's perfect for a deeper stage of trance after hours. The title track on the flip is as rolling, bass driven and hypnotic as you like it, and introspective minimal house cut "Abstracy" with its subtle dub techno inflections calls to mind some of the material on his seminal "Ghost To Coast" LP. Killer!
Review: The SlapFunk crew have another new recruit for their mission to match minimal dance aesthetics with tough old-skool punch. Danish producer Martinez has plenty of experience having released everywhere from Guidance to Moon Harbour and Minibar, and he sounds right at home freaking the funk for the Dutch contingent. There's a straight up strut to the jacking drums on opener "Inter Species Relations", while "Aspired Commotion" slips into the kind of wriggling shuffle you'd expect from a SlapFunk release. "No Data" adopts a skippy 2-step stance with some eerie textures on top, and then "Shanty Town" finishes the record off with more swinging business peppered with delightful keys.
Review: Thomas Berg's Soundscape Versions presents the third instalment on sublabel Mystic Versions with four unknown cuts by different artists across the globe, produced and performed using all analogue hardware gear. Sublime dub techno experiments captured in all their glacial and cavernous intensity, from the deep minimalist groove of "A1", the thumping delay-drenched reduction of "A2" to the housey and uplifting feel good vibes of "A4" with its jazz-bar loops. It's about quality over quantity on Mystic Versions and the wait has most certainly been worth the while.
Review: Nebraska's Friends & Relations series continues to serve up the finest disco-sprinkled house delights, following on from the previous installment of Disco Dubs with another on point reduction of dusty grooves through the mixing desk. These jams are stripped back and oh so heavy, with FX flaring in all the right places to give an eerie, trippy tint to the jams. It's like walking into the deep end of the session where Walter Gibbons jams with King Tubby uptown, and you'd be right in thinking that's a match made in far-out disco heaven.