Review: The Poverty Is Violence stable are firmly established now as an essential conductor for rabid, rowdy and downright rasping mechanics from subterranean operators of all shapes and sizes. Anonymous but reportedly veteran Dutch producer XXX previously appeared on the label in 2016 with the wild Noorder Scannen 12", and now returns with a bludgeoning new release. There's a consistent metal grind to the percussion on Westzaan Doelen, while the synth tones in between tend towards the jagged and abrasive, there's space and poise in the arrangement to lift this out of knuckleheaded noise. "Don't Go After Her" reverberates with clamouring intensity while the beefy chassis of "Just The Two Of You" shimmers under an acidic glaze - this is full-tilt deviant music executed with finesse to match the grime.
Review: After a strong run of releases between 2013 and 2014 that saw the likes of Hakim Murphy and Mark Forshaw grace their grooves, III Rivers are back in action with a sterling new effort from apparent debutant producer Dane Weaver. The techno foundations of the label sound as strong as ever on "Atom Soup," which charges ahead on firm but malleable arpeggios with an acidic undertone. "In The Clear" is a more wriggly affair with a swung groove and plenty of off kilter delights for wonkier dancefloors. "A Brief Trip To Space" opens up the B side with some delightful anchorless tones, and then "French Stu" burrows deep into the outer realm of machine manipulation in a gritty demonstration of leftfield techno.
Review: A four-track acid EP by veteran producer Warlock, out on Kalbata's Brush & Broom label. Ex-amount of jaw-grind action from the London underground legend. "Violent Rays" and "Swearings" are both straight-up warehouse workouts, comfortably placed next to reflective after-hour gushers "Run DC" and "Cave Tone". Once again, Warlock demonstrates stunning crisp production, touched by old-school heritage, dating back to pre-94 legislation times. Essential.
Review: For the debut of New York's anticipated Purple Trax label, a new formation of key players in Brooklyn's underground debuts with an EP sure to entrance fans of L.I.E.S., White Material, and other established NYC labels. Composed of Terekke, local DJ/producer Jan Woo, and Erez Avissar, label head and founder of the respected Weird Magic parties, Wabi Sabi's dusky and diverse sound comes from its origin in loft jams, but tracks like the closing 'Rx' with its powerful dub techno framework show the work of seasoned talents. Patricia's cameo on 'Casper' is the record's strangest sound, a propulsive house groove with explosions of crackling texture and a bassline deeply buried in fog, while 'Babi' stutters along between the drum pulse and its disappearances into deep wells of delayed vocal samples and gentle melodies. Vibes are saved for the opener 'Moon River Membrane', where Terreke's characteristic cosmic haze comes out more heavily, complemented by the genre-bending psychedelic tendencies of Avissar's programming and Woo's weighty low-end.
Review: Once again diving into the mysterious electronics of decades past, Platform 23 strike gold with this cult release from short-lived Canadian duo Vini Vidi Vici. In its original form this 1989 private press mini-album emerged from the Montreal underground with a prescient take on house and more experimental minimal wave fare - it's no surprise original copies fetch hefty prices in the second hand market. From the psyched-out house thrum of "Club Stuff" to the percussive bounce of "Vini Vidi Vici" and the more madcap sample juggling of "Ou Sommes Nous?" this is a killer record unbound by scenes or trends - just pure, primal hardware experimentation.
Review: Crimes Of The Future rounds off the year in fine style with an absolutely essential EP from Twins. 3 moody US house cuts straught out of Atlanta and a sublime deep remix from label boss Scott Fraser. Opening up with Cause Of Dissociation, a slice of banging Chicago house that would not have been out of place in the hands of Mike Dunn at the warehouse. Rattling drums amd percussion a cut up vocal and a killer bassline make for dancefloor devastation. Next up "You Take too" takes things a little deeper, maintining the groove with Chicago inspired percussion and filtered drums and stabbing synths grooving the track along. Over on side B Scott Fraser takes "You Take Too" on to 5am on a dark smoke filled dancefloor, with a deep bassline and soaring strings. Adding additional percussion, keys and swirling echoes... could be the sound of a lost Nu Groove classic. Finally things close out with "A Way From Now" with more Chicago inspired goodness with a funky bassline, pumping percussion and eerie ethereal keys rounding the EP off in fine style.
Review: The prolific Finnish production powerhouse Trevor Deep Jr is back, this time landing on We Play The Music We Love with an urgent collection of machine-made techno delights for all times of the night. Lapien's remix of "Lights Go Out" is the perfect starting point for this EP, riding on thrumming acid bass and haunting pads with a rock solid beat thundering away in the middle. "#dub4 (Tape Mix)" meanwhile ploughs a much deeper furrow into, as you might well have guessed, dub techno, but that's just a foil for the powerful thrust of the original version of "Lights Go Out" which spreads itself across the whole B-side.
Review: Following on from a sterling bout by Luminer, Torino label We Play The Music We Love drop this bombshell from a hitherto unknown producer from their inner circle, Tomlin. The vibe is pumped up and acidic, with healthy notes of Italo and wave threaded into the mixture for good measure. "Rainy Dog" is bold and voluptuous while there's a nervy, brittle energy around "The Mugs Game" that should satisfy spinners looking for the freaky stuff. "Running With Foxes" is laden with playful arpeggios atop stripped back beats, while "Talk Fast" makes great use of some nifty vocoder work to create a reflective slice of braindance magic.
Review: Having previously impressed with vivid blends of cosmic R&B, skewed space-pop, glistening post-ambient soundscapes and mangled, synth-laden grime, rising star Throwing Shade (AKA producer Nabihan Iqbal) demonstrates her dancefloor side with a killer 12" on Happy Skull. "Chancer" and "Blanx" both retain Iqbal's uniquely intergalactic aesthetic,whilst flitting between jacking, Chicago-influenced house rhythms and jazzy, off-kilter dancefloor grooves. Synths sparkle, while vocal snippets drift in and out of the mix. The 12" is completed by a riotous, predictably heavyweight remix from Kowton, whose guttural techno grooves are peppered with cut-up samples of Iqbal's distinctive, dreamy vocals.
Review: Following choice wares from tape_hiss and Pascal Viscardi, Love Notes stride into winter with a fulsome offering from lesser-known artist Subtenant, who packs just the right balance of classic acid and modernist techno into the three original tracks on this 12". "Evergreen Soul" looks set to turn heads in the club with its playful organ flex hopping around the punchy 303 notes, while "Artisanal Acid" brings some homespun hardware handiwork to the table. "Know How It Feels" drops in at a slower tempo, but it's D'Marc Cantu who steals the show with a dynamic remix of the title track loaded with detail and shot through with dub.
Review: Galcher Lustwerk and Alvin Aronson turned many a head with the elegant sophistication of their collaborative album Scenes (2012-2015), which landed on Lustwerk's own label last year. Now the duo are back with more goodies from their Studio OST project, and once again the fusion between gossamer threads of melody and delicately crafted machine rhythms is evident throughout this 12". "Eventide" comes as a full blown track and a sumptuous beatless version, while "Ascension" has a dubby original and useful drums-only cut, making this record both functional and an absolute delight to listen to.
Review: Having emerged from the murky waters of the tape scene on Always Human and Summer Isle, Strahinja Arbutina follows up on a first 12" for BANK Records NYC with this sterling sure shot for the excellent Bliq label. There's a range of styles displayed across Fox Venom, but the tracks are held together by the immersive, droning atmospheres that linger in the background of the productions. "Fox Venom" lurches under a heavy cloud like the best subterranean techno should, while "Teabagging Mystery" gets locked into a deathly minimal groove. This is music for the graveyard shift, although Deemonlover's "So Solid Mix" of "Fox Venom" does inject some wild breakbeat action into the gothic surroundings.
Review: The Jaunt Records 10 years series shores up with the Land installment featuring another four adventurous souls that have the spirit of deepest techno in their bones. Stojche lets lush Motor City synths lead the way on the energetic "The Exchange" before AWOL gets into an intricate broken beat groove on the stunning "54.973379, -1.614705". Luke Hess brings some unabashed acid gurgles to the front of the mix on "TDY" and then Deep'a & Biri plot a course for dubby waters with the growling tones of "Pilgrim".
Review: After releases from the likes of Myles Serge and Hakim Murphy, Mentha now turns to STK (also known as Stekke) for some sinister minimalist tackle from the dark side. "Something Is Raw" creeps along on a bed of grumbling drone as pin-prick percussion punctuates the gloom, and then "What Is Back" drops the bed of noise for an eerily sparse groover sure to unsettle the nerves of any listener. After all those subtleties, Gary Romalis does a damn fine job of edging a little more meat onto the bones of "What Is Back" without losing the vibe of the EP. With punchy yet muted drums and lashings of atmosphere, his remix makes the perfect counterpoint to STK's uneasy reductions.
Review: The Shahr Farang label is always an interesting one to check in with, sometimes veering towards fragile ambience as much as intriguing beat constructions. Here, label mainstay Sohrab invites Erik Jahaali to join in on the tough yet atmospheric thrust of "Industriegebiet", before he goes it alone on the moody beatless blanket of sound that is "Fasseleh". Jahaali is back on board for "Skypainter," which pivots around dusty pads and subtle, snaking rhythms in the deepest techno tradition. "Dayi Mohsen" is the surprise of the record, dropping into a Mo Wax style funk that should soothe all manner of chill out room scenarios.
Review: French label DDD now present Society of Silence composed of two Parisian artists and friends Benoît Legrain (Fareed) and Nicolas Villebrun also known as Tite. They usually appear on their eponymous imprint in addition to Fragil Musique or legendary local labels Versatile or Concrete. On "Ambivalent" they throw down a deep and dusty groove that is covered in a thick haze of smoke, you can smell the dust coming off those dense beats supporting some rusty/analogue groove aesthetics. Quite fitting then that they get in NYC's finest DJ Nature for some equally dope but more summery deepness; similar to that great stuff he threw down on Cottam's Ruff Draft last year.
Review: Modeselektor are clearly keen to make 50 Weapons' last few releases as strong as possible. For this 12", they've turned to Berlin techno titan Shed, who - somewhat predictably - more than delivers the goods. "Dark Planet" is a thick, tough and driving beast, with chopped-up, manipulated vocal snippets forming a quirky melody line above a thumping rhythm that neatly combines pounding kick-drums and hissing cymbals. This is no-nonsense, floor-friendly techno that comes laden with sly funk. Modeselektor themselves have a go at remixing it on the flip, delivering a far weirder, wilder, stranger and - bizarrely - more melodious 'broken techno' interpretation.
Review: Valcrond Video, the label run by sound and image artist Luke Wyatt (Torn Hawk), Apresents VV-013 Russo's ""Wild Metals"". A
Russo (Ari Russo) is an NYC based multi-artist whose engagement with abandoned media finds an outlet in the video bursts he culls as OfficeFern. As a programmer, he's produced innovative music generation tools such as the Diamond Arpeggiator. He returns to his own music with this collection of challenging and transporting structures.A
Wyatt and VV are eager to endorse Russo's latest report on crossmodal perception, a true exercise in synesthesia.A
""Wild Metals"" sounds like ferns and orchids infiltrating a tableaux of black plastic electronics, the breed of black plastic that Russo and Wyatt both found sinisterly inserted into the grid of their childhood. It provided the skin for some of their favorite toys, and its general resonance was aligned with the fast cars, women, and architecture that dominated their imaginations.
Review: There's only been one other release to date on the aptly titled Night Sea Journey, whose M.O. is, "focused on simplicity." The Chicago label started life with label heads Garrett David and Colin Johnson, and now Adam Rowe has come to join in with his own take on simple approaches in ambient and deep house. "9_27 (edit 1)" may have a lovely sub bass propelling it, but the languorous quality of the keys makes it feel almost static in the best possible way. "8_27 (edit 1)" welcomes some needlepoint drum machine rhythms into the mix, preferring a broken beat over anything too straight. "Nite Houss" has a similar mysterious charm you might hear on a Real Soon record, while "Hanging Lake" swerve into more ambient territory again, with spectacular results.
Review: After a bit of a hiatus, Roots Unit return with some deep house hybrids from their bulging vaults. "Learn To Love" is a melodic dub-house / techno infused big sound system warmer that comes from a studio session with former 2 Lone Swordsman Keith Tenniswood and will be familiar to those who tune into Tim Sweeney's Beats In Space show on the regular. "Morning Sequence" is a lovely early morning hypnotic slinky electronic house jam that gets under your skin and into your mind. This latter track is mutated into a heavy floor filler by Mark E in full on peak time mode.
Cage & Aviary - "Lean On Me" (Felix Dickinson Foolish dub)
Posthuman - "Make More Man"
Review: Just as the new football season settles into it's groove, the fourth edition of the highly collectable Rothmans arrives sporting some high profile signings! Leading the way on The Claudio Gentile Release is a Foolish Felix dub of Cage & Aviary's "Lean On Me" whose deranged acid gurglings provide a nice contrast to the thrusting Escape From East London stylings of Posthuman's "Make More Men". On the flip Ali Renault returns for Rothmans duty with the Weatherall worthy "The Black Heart" whilst Iron Blu is loaned from Flight Recorder for the synthy swamp of orchestral drama that is "Oiche Shamhna"
Andy Rantzen - "The Dial" (Itch-E & Scratch-E mix)
Laccy - "Spectrum Of Vibrations"
Laccy - "Coincidence Of Opposites"
Review: The fourth installment on Spinning Plates comes from Andy Rantzen and Laccy, featuring a wealth of off-beat techno adventures for wayward souls. Rantzen is an Australian producer with a history remixing the likes of Severed Heads and working alongside Paul Mac as Itch-E & Scratch-E. His lead track "Digital Elf" is a stripped a raw beats n' bleeps workout, while "The Dial" finds Mac chipping in as they rework the track into a deadly old-skool burner for lovers of bleep techno. Laccy has only had one prior outing to date, but sounds in strong form on the sleek and crafty "Spectrum Of Vibrations" and delightfully freaky "Coincidence Of Opposites".
Review: Year Zero" is a first release on Post Scriptum's own label and in a sense it is a manifesto defining it's musical identity. No space here for a sound targeting the current techno mainstream. There is dirt, and the pinch of imperfections, very characteristic of avant-garde electronics and industrial well known for the quite nearby past. On the A side, there are compositions appearing like shutters from experiments conducted in the secret laboratory. The rhythm is giving the appropriate weight, while the rest is a musical conglomerate of sounds and synthesis building up a feeling of anxiety. A swarming energy, a modulation, an uncertainty and lurking somewhere danger are surrounding us.On the flip side are remixes constituting the lighter counterpunch. Motor eurhythmics bringing to life the old good Detroit techno definitely of a dance-floor character, making this material ideal for an interesting set.
Review: Amid whispers of a new album from Unirhythm boss and Three Chairs stalwart Marcellus Pittman, two tracks from his excellent debut LP Pieces finally get committed to wax. It's a shame Pieces never got a vinyl release, but the chance to grip "Sneak Attack" and "Random Acts Of Insanity" on 12" should not be passed up. This 12" was actually released in 'blink and you'll miss it' white label format in 2014, but finally gets a proper issue! For those that don't have the LP, "Sneak Attack" is a curious concoction, with Syclops style electronics occasionally flowering over deep, dusty, intricately programmed rhythms. "Random Acts Of Insanity" feels a little bolder in approach, though its' rich chords and odd, off-kilter rhythm track are contrasted with some notably bonkers electronic touches.
Review: Thus far all we know about Wilson Phoenix is pressed into the previous two records the anonymous operator has released so far in 2018. That should be enough for techno heads with their ears to the ground - this is rough and ready hardware business for those who like it nasty. While not perhaps as willfully unhinged as Neil Landstrumm, it's very much in that sonic ballpark, not least on relentless acidic opener "Between Mars." Things get a little freakier with the pinging electro delights of "Moon Machine" before the rowdy rave beast "Exo Planet" levels the landscape with some brutal synth stabs that would sound at home on an early The Prodigy record.