Review: Helena Hauff returns to her own Return To Disorder label after last year's joyously received "Qualm" album on Ninja Tune. It's the first fully solo record Hauff has released herself, and it more than lives up to expectation. "Catso" is a wonderfully expressive slice of noirish electro draped in vintage synth arps and twinkling leads as enchanting as they are spooky. "Why Look At Animals" has a more low down funk, but once again sports the richly harmonic synth hooks to make this appeal right across the board. "The Brush" ups the tempo, but keeps things sparse and moody, while "Slim Filter" gets a touch more nasty and sounds utterly fantastic with it. Compared to her rabid DJ sets, these productions represent the more measured side of Hauff, but they're no less deadly.
Review: Seoul-based Frenchman Timothee Victorri has been in fine form of late, offering up a string of unusual - but undeniably brilliant - breakbeat techno cuts that recall the psychedelic, mind-altering brilliance of the early '90s ambient techno movement. Here he dons a new alternative alias, SYO, in order to explore a more trance-influenced sound. A-side "Tears" sounds a little like a long lost early '90s psychedelic trance workout: all undulating acid lines, rising and falling, arpeggio style bass, dramatic builds and drops and plenty of hallucinatory electronic flourishes. "Dune" sees him strip out the beats while leaving plenty of rhythm, recalling some of the more trippy, ambient techno cuts popular in the same period; certainly, we could imagine a spacesuit-clad Mixmaster Morris dropping it at the Fridge in Brixton around 1992.
Review: Originally prolific in the late 90s and back with a renewed sense of vigour in the past few years, Dan Piu's classic, widescreen vision of hardware techno captures the verve of the original Detroit blueprint while bringing a fresh, welcome energy to the genre. This drop on Common Dreams brims with the same head-swirling magic, especially on vividly rendered lead track "Halo City". "Falling Framework" has a more mellow veneer, but there's still so much playful detail bringing the track to life. "Akira 2171" has an old-skool sci fi quality balanced out by its linear sense of progression, and "Ilipsyon" takes things deeper into a wistful jack reminiscent of the spookiest Trax output.
Review: After debuting his Pakzad moniker on Infiltrate last year, Justin Pak makes the leap to Burnski's Constant Sound with this assured set of electro workouts built for the modern age. "Timeless" is a snappy, vibrant cut with a serious amount of techno propulsion to match the crooked funk of the beats. "Clutch" has a more trippy, melodic twist, while "Correlation" hunkers down into a more backroom vibe as detailed as it is freaky. This is seriously executed electro from a fast-rising talent - nab a copy, drop it into a set and watch the bodies writhe.
Review: The Verdant label continues to plumb depths others fail to reach in the search for the most immersive techno emanating from the underground. On this split disc, the A side is under the control of Sirko Muller, who unfurls a masterful take on dub techno and minimal house as subtle as it is sublime. RV800 then remixes "Affinity" and makes it into a bouncy, acid-flecked groover that remains true to Verdant's deep dynamics. Jonno & Tommo take on the flip with the sultry mood piece "Efficacy," a spooked-out trip of a track that gets flipped into a slippery electro number by Havantepe.
Review: Swiss producer Alci, also known as Shaolin Fantastic, landed with lauded releases on Robsoul before skipping to other labels like Apollonia and Meander. Following last year's excellent "Diversity" double pack, he lands on his own label Seeingsounds with this pitch perfect slice of dreamy minimal house. "Acid Drip" may be a misleading title - it's more of an unending groove draped in gorgeous, shimmering melodic finery. "Hiragana" takes things in a more twitchy direction, while "Apachi" brings another slant on reduced, oddball funk to get the up all night crowd loose and freaky in all the right ways.
Review: There's much to enjoy about the output of the Kimochi label, not least the bespoke, spray-painted sleeves and their habit of releasing only the deepest, most hypnotic electronic music. Their latest must-have release is another super-limited affair that drifts lazily between ultra-deep cuts shot through with dub-wise rhythms, atmospheric shoegaze motifs, echoing ambient chords and beats straight out of the early '90s ambient techno playbook. It's utterly gorgeous and deliciously hazy, with slow-burn melodies and undulating electronics slowly rising above reverb-laden chords, warm basslines and occasionally skittish rhythms. There's something particularly special about the locked-in drums and hypnotic bassline of "Elljus", but the ambient soundscapes "Heden" and "Inland" are also superb.
Review: Four months on from the release of his debut album, "Blue Spring", Berlin-based Canadian Nathan Micay returns to LuckyMe with a formidably floor-focused EP. While there's one sublime ambient excursion - the "Blade Runner" synthesizer movements and bubbling acid lines of "Did U Know I Cannot Die" - the rest of the EP is rugged, raw and club-ready. "The Party We Could Have" is a house-tempo stomper with quietly jacking drums, echoing riffs and foreboding electronic arpeggio lines, while "This'll Tell The Tale" is a throbbing space disco/Italo-disco box jam. Arguably best of all, though, is the Jeff Mills/Robert Hood style thump of mind-altering opener "I'm Your Huckleberry".
Review: Icelandic label Lahar debuts with this highly impressive release from NonniMal, who was previously spotted dropping the classy "Freyja" 12" on AE Recordings back in 2016. Sound design is the order of the day on "Eitt" as a beautifully rendered set of percussive bell notes chime around a minimal rhythm section - a piece pointedly geared towards transcendence. "Tvo" has an intriguing slant to its groove, as the sharply oscillating synth wobble juts out against the grain of the drums. "Thrju" takes things in a bleak but captivating direction, while "Fjogur" cools the record down in a cloud of blissful, frostbitten ambience.
Review: The latest missive in the L.I.E.S. ongoing series of collaborative EPs brings together Cititrax regular An-I (AKA sometime leftfield disco maverick Doug Lee) and Berlin-based experimental electronics maverick Unhuman. The pair begins in forthright fashion, moving from the racing drum machine heartbeats, rhythmic noise and mangled yelps of "Five To Nine", to the doomy bass, triple-time beats and clanking metallic hits of post-punk number "Hate Thy Neighbour". Over on side B they mutilate electro beyond almost all recognition on the alien insanity of "Entschuldigung" before lolloping towards a conclusion with the fuzzy industrial funk thrust of "Cannibals".
Review: British techno legend Neil Landstrumm returns to Unknown To The Unknown with an EP that's described as a "super charged fusion of dance music styles". Prepare for a proper alien transmission via title track "Hell Is Other People", featuring long time collaborator Si Begg, and the vinyl-only exclusive electro funk cut "Shadow Man". On the flip, he goes for a classic acid house vibe (with vocoder!) on the Adonis sounding cut "Aviemore" while it's classic Landstrumm all the way on the raw hardware techno of closer "Jackshit".
Review: The celebrated Lady Starlight returns to Len Faki's Figure imprint to follow up last year's "Which One Of Us Is Me?". Her mentalist and barrelling techno expressions are on fine display again on 'W', featuring the frantic acid techno banger "AC1", the old school UK techno vibe of "GR16" with its hypnotic chord stabs and steely 909 rhythms that good friend Surgeon would have played at the legendary House Of God if it was released back in the day. On the flip, there couldn't be a better snapshot of 5AM at revered techno mecca Berghain via the strobe-lit peak time intensity of "Red 4" bringing this EP to an epic close.
Review: Pure, infectious, filthy, brilliant club energy. Steve Marie takes the a-side by the horns, first with the ravey, jacked up acid cut "JuplVtrax", then the nimble drum work and ducking and diving synths of "Psychedelia", which brings to mind flickering old VHS of illicit field gatherings from the nineties. Astral Body then takes you even deeper down the rabbit hole with the manic 303 and hyperdrive drums of "Galaxy Beat". "Equinox" closes things out with surging solar waves, rippling acid modulations and kaleidoscopic colours that leave you breathless. Reach for the lasers, etc.
Review: Young Marco's admirable Safe Trip label continues to explore the archives of Antwerp-based Van Elsen brothers, offering up more early '90s gems from their wonderful - and previously under-appreciated - ambient techno project Trans-4M. Both tracks here are alternative versions of cuts from the duo's brilliant "Sublunar Oracles" album. On the A-side you'll find a previously unreleased remix of "Arrival" that wraps jaunty, sunrise-ready synth stabs, psychedelic electronics and chiming lead lines around a chunky, floor-friendly groove and thickset bassline. It's superb, as is flipside "Amma (Moon Mix)" - a 1993 12" B-side that adds a little humid, dancing-all-night-under-a-blanket-of-stars vibe to an already impressive ambient techno classic (think boisterous beats, starry ambient motifs, dreamy chords and subtle tribal influences).
Review: Newworldaquarium has long been a real darling of the techno world with an impeccable back catalogue filled with treasures, and now the Dutchman is treating us to two new tracks that were recorded during the same sessions as his seminal "The Dead Bears" in the early 00s. The 10-minute epic "Mercury" has a majestic synth phrase looped over rubbery kicks that will lead to real transcendental moments, while "Levels Halo" is a zoned out ambient piece with kick drums buried miles below, gently moving you along.
Review: Hyperdub and Tectonic regular Walton finds himself on vital Munich label Ilian Tape for his next EP. The rhythmic innovator takes cues from the label's love of breakbeats in one track here. Opener "Before The Storm" is a suspensory bit of ambient with sustained pads and distant hits, crashes and pops speaking of alien life forms. "Rolla", a dusty and shadowy cut that skates along with a sense of uneasy menace. Last of all, "Depth Charge" is as it sounds: fathom deep bass lurches to and fro with machine gun like snares firing across the face of the track. It's boombing body music to make you move.
Review: Alexander Khaliulin first donned the Flying Cobra alias earlier this year for an album on Space Of Variants that neatly showcased his seemingly innate grasp of atmospheric dub techno soundscapes. "Flowers Decay Quickly" is the producer's surprisingly speedy follow-up. It's another heady and intoxicating affair, with Khaliulin sashaying between the languid, head-in-the-clouds ambient of "Emanation", the gentle but hypnotic dub techno shapes of "Sleepless" and "Way Above", the sun-kissed laziness of "Night Walk" and the fantastically dubbed-out, slow motion soundscapes such as yearning closing cut "Light Of Truth Has Gone Out".