Review: We're not sure who's behind the mysterious AC-EXP project, but the shadowy figure returns with more of that strange, submerged house music he's been tickling discerning DJs with over the past few years. After taking last year off, "1A" is a fine place to start things up again with a strutting jack track carrying acidic synth pulses that flirt with measured delay processing. It's a jam that sounds steamy and sinister all at once. "1B" maintains this restrained but seductive vibe with the slightly trancey throb of the lead synths pivoting around the snappy drums to great effect.
Review: The latest release on DJ Bone's Subject Detroit label is a split 12" featuring Esteban Adame and Santiago Salazar. This is how they do techno, Californian style, and you can tell it from the off. The beats are tough as hell, but there's a sun-kissed vibrancy to the synth work that positively leaps out of the speakers and shakes your cerebellum. Adame leads on the A side with "Guaguanco", an effervescent stomper that takes a turn for the deep when Frequencia jumps on board for a remix. Salazar is in a housey frame of mind on "October 17", letting smooth pads lead the way without losing that all-important impact. The "Dub mix" of the track actually beefs things up with a grinding lead synth pitched at big room scenarios while maintaining a steady tempo.
Review: As one of the foremost energies in Rome's electronic music scene, Adiel's productions on her own Danza Tribale label have communicated her take on minimalist, rhythmically inventive techno to the wider world. On this fourth installment, Adiel pays tribute to the Japanese capital with the snaking immersion and insistent propulsion of "Tokyo". On the flip, she truly opens up the filters of possibility with the kinetic, hyper-detailed percussive ripples of "Jungle". In an eerie, cavernous space, these needlepoint drum lines interlock and drive the listener deeper into a well of meditation, delivering the intended outcome of submission and transcendence that Adiel's music is engineered for.
Review: A new project based out of Copenhagen - Aether's Spring comes shrouded in mystery but makes a bold statement with this first transmission. WATER: Dancing Moon 12" leads in with "House In Blue Rain," a downcast track bathed in melancholic pads and blown out percussion around a steady 4/4 tick. "Dancing Moon" is a more kinetic affair that works with all kinds of synth shapes alongside some primal drum machine percussion that lends the track a new wave quality that suits it just fine. Closer "Throne Of Clay" spreads across the B side in a brooding, journeying epic fit for the likes of classic James Holden or a more wave-minded Jon Hopkins.
Review: Brooklyn's J Albert returns with more tripped-out lo-fi house. The Exotic Dance Records boss follows up some great releases of late on top labels such as 1080p, Hypercolour and Black Opal. Whether it's the euphoric strobe-lit ecstasy of "No Longer Me" (dub) that's awash in delay drenched rhythm patterns, snarling bass and hypnotic synth leads. Or the brooding B side cut "Smoke & Mirrors" which is reminiscent of fellow local Patricia and packed full of dusty drums, haunting pads and chilling chord progressions: this one's a totally heads down affair for very late at night. Black Orpheus is a Berlin based label run by expat Patrick Conway, who has appeared on such esteemed labels as REKIDS and Forbidden Planet.
Review: Underlying Form is a new vinyl only label run by Northern Irish DJ/Promoter Darren Allen. The first release, a debut for Darren, sets the tone for the labels future with 4 tracks of deep and abstract minimal techno on the 'Invisible Landscape EP'.
Review: While he may have been operating in the underground for some time, Darren Allen's music is only just coming to light through his own Underlying Form label now. There's a range of styles on offer across this EP, kicking off with the subtle pulse of "Feel" before moving on to a distinctly French-flavoured micro house groove on "Inmost Cave" that wouldn't sound out of place on Telegraph Records. On the B side, "Routine Kills Inspiration" switches the mood up with a rougher sound palette, even if the arrangement is still a minimally-minded affair. Then it's left to Vid Vai to drop a complex reworking of "MD Habitat" loaded with intricate textures.
Review: Following it's recent reactivation and releases from JC & Kastil and D_Func, Ben Sims' Symbolism imprint sets out it's autumn stall with a blistering four tracker from Alphadrum. Rigourously roadtested by Sims himself over the past six months, this is an essential release from young italian producer, Alphadrum.
Review: Always a reliable destination for cult talents operating on exciting frontiers of techno, meandyou this time shine a light on J.S. Zeiter, who adopts the Analog 1 alias for some dense, meticulously crafted trips into the strange psychedelic underbelly of dub techno. "SM4L" features pastoral chord swells straining behind a babbling brook of high frequency sound design, while "Mistral" takes a classical approach to ambient composition, all yearning arpeggios and lingering keys. "Interlude" is a brief twirl around blown out drums and textural impulses, and then "SKIV Loop (Rework)" sets a more positive tone for the end of the EP, pushing classic dub techno sounds into a hazy, summery space away from the usual icy tundra the genre normally inhabits.
Review: Ukrainian techno duo Animous have grown fast over the last few years, and they've set themselves a pretty high bar thanks to some excellent EPs. We now expect the best from them, and that's precisely what they give us here with these four warehouse fillers. "Avers" is slow and could be associated to the house end of the dance spectrum, but its sounds are dark and convoluted enough to make it a tune that would appeal to the darker DJ minds out there, and the same can be said for "Revers" and its perfect balance between calm and frenetic. "Stars" features Vladislava Lefor on the vocals, and its a magical acid house number on a truly deep vibe, but bid don Tin Man brings the acid out in the best way possible through his remix and, of course, with his trademark style. Don't snooze on it.
Review: Green Village has already proven itself to be a trusted outpost for all kinds of adventurous souls in the US house and techno game. Transmitting out of Jersey City, the label now invites Ali Asker to serve up a mixed bag of treats. "Standards" heads into classic electro territory, while "Concatenate" swerves into strange, fractured lands somewhere between deepest techno and outright tropical ambience. "Ascent" is a celestial soarer, all achingly beautiful arpeggios and sub bass pressure, which DJ Spider then drags into one of his knotted grooves. Patrice Scott's version is understandably lighter, favouring his trademark strain of soul-stirring deep house as a framework for whispers of the original to dart around.
Review: Hessle Audio's emergence from hibernation in 2012 really has seen the label release some of the most extraordinary music of its life, and this EP from Bandshell might top the lot. Tapping into the grainy, murky sound world of the like of STL, Shed and Actress, this record explores strange rhythms constantly on the verge of breaking out into a frenzy. The title track is comprised of little more than rattling percussion and dense, fizzy bass, while "Rise 'Em" places a jungle breakbeat atop a mucky hum. On the flip, "Metzger" takes the vibe of classic dubstep and fills it with subtle melodies and clipped snares, but "Dog Sweater" is the real killer - a homage to soundsystem culture whose threadbare rhythms are the only thing to stop you being dragged into the track's viscous centre. Make no mistake, this is a serious new talent.
Review: Following an appearance last year on Cabrera, Santiago Naura is back on his own label to expound his vision of modernist techno even further. "Dust (Mix 1)" is a pumped up workout, all muscular drums and bold, chiseled synth hooks shimmering around the rhythmic core. "Dust (Mix 2)" is a more heads-down affair that locks into a cyclical groove for the late night crowd to lose themselves to. "Element" presides over the B side with a deeper approach that makes great use of interplay between different textures and tones to create energy and momentum while keeping the drums on the straight and narrow.
Review: Another great EP from the 3 boys from Sweden, the Blotnik Brothers. Strong percussive big room electro, thick melodies and perfectly-timed arrangements are the mark of their second EP. Kraftwerk on steroids!
Review: Having debuted on Valcrond Video label last year with the Immured 12" under her familiar Xosar alias, Sheela Rahman now returns to the platform for some "shared make-believe" with founder Luke Wyatt for new project Body Tools. Taking a catalogue number as its title, this two track 12" follows a succession of Body Tools radio broadcasts on Berlin Community Radio and showcases a softer, more hypnotic side which in the case of lead track "Locusts & Lions" hits hard when the poignant piano makes its presence felt. "Brave" channels a strange, modern kosmische vibe that will really hit the spot deep in the mix.
Review: Braiden's material has been slow to come out since he first landed with a bang on Doldrums back in 2010. A turn on Rush Hour confirmed his status as a producer in command of the chops necessary to get a dancefloor shaking, but this year's X Years In London OST cassette was a chance for him to expand into more experimental pastures. Not so on this new 12" for his Off Out label, which finds Braiden turning up the heat with some fiercely modern tech house workouts. "V.O.L.A.T" has the same kind of dangerous earworm armour that made Paul Woolford's "Erotic Discourse" so potent all those years ago. "Hydroplane" meanwhile takes some of the crisp but playful tropes of Pearson Sound et al and straps them to a thrumming motorik beat.
Review: After a quiet 2016 thus far Och's Autoreply label is finally back in action with a frankly fantastic selection of workouts from Mark Broom. In keeping with the style Broom has been exercising in new Perbec jams with Baby Ford, this is more restrained than the muscular techno Broom can also be known for. Instead, you get expressive, satisfying house tracks such as "18.2" and the neatly pumping "10" with its killer array of synths to satisfy the dancefloor and the mind in equal measure. Avoiding unnecessary fireworks in favour of perfectly chosen and shaped elements, this is a glittering demonstration of Broom's cool-headed approach in the studio.
Review: Argy's These Days label is an occasional treat in the world of stripped down tech house, and it makes its first appearance for 2016 with a selection of club-ready remixes from the label boss, tackling various productions from German techno mainstay Paul Brtschitsch. The "Floor Adaptation" of "Green" heads into subterranean pastures, albeit with a powerful beat propelling it, and "Eternal Aspects" maintains that underground mood with a warmer synth repertoire. On the more flamboyant B-side, "Squeezed" takes on a wild old-skool quality perfect for more fiery moments on the floor before "Subbass" continues the jacking theme in fine style.
Review: Emotional Rescue and Malka Tuti serve up another round of top shelf remixes and revisions of John Rees Lewis' mid-late 80s project C Cat Trance, following in the wake of the Screaming Ghosts compilation. First up to bat are Red Axes, who bring a seductive line in loose and limber drumming to "Shake The Mind" that should suit the Fourth World dancefloor massive just fine. Jamie Paton brings a tough, clamouring intensity to "Take Me To The Beach," while Prins Thomas takes a truly spiritual approach when weaving the intricate arpeggios and percussion of "Sudaniyya." Khidja and Borusiade team up on "Simple Helen," presenting a dense and hazy trip into exotic territory with sinister undertones.
Beatrice Dillon & Rupert Clervaux - "The Same River Twice"
M:I:5 - "Masstab 1:5/11"
Jan Jelinek - "Tendency"
Dresvn - "Untitled B1"
Objekt - "The Stitch-Up"
Two Full Minds - "No Smoke"
Photek - "T'Raenon"
Don't DJ - "Pornoire"
Flanger - "Spinner"
Carl Craig - "A Wonderful Life" (Epic mix)
Call Super - "Acephale I"
Call Super - "Acephale II"
Marco Bernardi - "Demonia"
Jega - "ZX82"
Shanti Celeste - "Strung Up"
Bitstream - "Incubator"
Bruce - "Sweat"
Convextion - "Niche"
Karen Gwyer - "Hippie Fracca"
Thomas Ankersmit & Valerio Tricoli - "Plague #7"
Walter Brown - "Keep On Walkin'"
Yves Tumor - "The Feeling When You Walk Away"
Max Loderbauer - "Giant Hug"
Speng Bond - "Cutbacks"
Review: Soon, Fabric's impeccable mix series will reach its 100th installment - an impressive achievement in anyone's book. This 92nd volume comes from rising star Call Super, who joins the dots between all manner of tasty house and techno treats - some left-of-centre and quirky, others simply wonky and picturesque - over the course of 80 hugely entertaining minutes. According to the producer, it's designed for the break of dawn, rather than peak-time, a fact reflected in the presence of dreamy, loose, fuzzy and melodious tracks from the likes of Carl Craig, Speng Bond, Max Loderbauer, Shanti Celeste and Dresvn.
Review: Cong Burn continues to exercise one of the most promising instincts for future-minded music on this, their third release. It's surprising they haven't done more previously, considering the maturity of their curation, but either way the quality remains at an all time high here, leading in with some light and liquefied 4/4 sonics from Chekov before pirouetting into one of Duckett's illustrious abstractions around the techno blueprint. Label regular Lack is back on side B with the stern and punchy "Track 3," and then Haddon finishes the record off with "Anabiosis," a densely textured, slow creeping trip of a track.
Review: Italy's TGP label has been a strong presence in the more wayward division of the house and techno game since 2010, and this has been thanks to the persistence and unifying vision of its most regular artists. Here, they team up in fine style on the label's third instalment of the TGPEXTRA series, with Claudio PRC and UNC leading the pack with "CXXV", a sombre, minimalistic techno deviation with just the right hint of dubby haze. "III" by Blazej Malinowski is an equally sparse and aqueous affair, stretching cold beats and placid stars of bass over a consistently shifting backdrop of soft harmonies and industrial sonics.
Review: Style Upon Styles sister label Bangers & Ash is fired up once again to encourage a select artist to indulge both their ambient and dancefloor sides, and on this occasion it's US producer Contakt who has been asked to split his musical personality across two sides of wax. It's actually the mellower 'Ash' side that leads in first, with the dub techno meditation of "Second Shift" followed up by the star-gazing machine soul of "Detritus." Then on the flip the heat gets turned up with the rolling drums and punchy chord stabs of "Shut Off Notice" and the distinctly Motor City flavoured thump of "NDO."
Review: Largely found bashing out bastardised machine jams on Dark Entries, Bill Converse makes a logical move to Tabernacle for this new double pack of devilishly decent burners for the adventurous end of the night. The nagging hisses and end-of-days bleeps on "Tinnitus" will get right under your skin, while "Permission" stomps out a broken down jack to get the waifs and strays shaking. "Borealis" takes star-gazing techno into a particularly noisy dimension, "Operation" channels the spirit of Jamal Moss-minded acid freakery and "Mutiny" depicts the unkempt groove left after the breakdown of the hardware. "Awakening" ends things on a brighter note, twisting out grubby acid lines through some beautiful but distant chords and a snaking set of blown out drums.
Review: Acidic powerhouse Bill Converse makes his debut on FIT SOUND. His sound is a refreshing perspective informed by the midwest warehouse parties of which he was schooled mutated into his own blend. Treading the line between melody and brutality, while never being heavy handed, Converse has proved himself once again to be a true original lurking in the underground today.
Review: The second collectible EP out of three, arriving on double white 10" vinyl, and containing tracks from Jon Convex's debut album, Idoru sees another four hard hitting fusions of techno and contemporary bass music. Unlike the first EP, which was surprisingly melodic, these tracks aim squarely at the floor, with "What I Need" a heavy tom-led piece of Detroit influenced techno, and "Aversion" providing some tracky functionalism. "Desolation" and "Four Faces" meanwhile provide some bleak electro dystopianism, much indebted to his Autonomic heritage.
Review: It's been a little while since we last heard from Donnell Knox, but he's back in action finally on his regular haunt Sonic Mind with some of that evergreen US techno tackle that he's forged a long and winding career out of. "No Time" is steeped in the smoky pads of the Motor City, with a rugged rhythm section and errant bleeps thrown in to seal the deal. "Rat Race" takes things in a more housey direction, but there's still a certain mysticism that reaches beyond the average club banger. "Sick Mind" continues the theme, but ties more knots in the programming to make for another essential slice of techno, and then "Repetition" finishes the job with a razor sharp slice of sky-scraping hardware science.
Review: Ben Sims reignites his dormant Symbolism imprint for 2015. Last active in 2006, Symbolism is about music with real mood and will continue to impart Sims' vision of techno through releases from newcomers and established acts alike. The first release comes from D_Func and includes an edit from Sims himself.