Review: Mick Harris is a master of bludgeoning sound, whether wringing out apocalyptic steppers in his Scorn guise or wrestling D&B into contorted shapes as Quoit. Monrella is one of his aliases that reaches back to the mid 90s and Regis' ZET label. These four new tracks capture the same mood of granite heavy Brummie techno as the original run, wholly compatible with the tougher end of the Downwards oeuvre, sculpted with the masterful ear for sound design that Harris has displayed throughout his accomplished career. Following on from the retrospective compilation on Berceuse Heroique last year, it's a real treat to have some fresh Monrella to chew on for the hardest of techno sessions.
Review: EYA Records presents a double 12" of plush techno and house spanning styles, giving four producers the chance to showcase the breadth of their sound with two tracks each. Innershades brings emotive 90s swoon and peppy acid to the A side, before Two Phase U slips in a little uptempo robo-disco sauce and a feisty jack track. Otis takes things in the direction of wiggy proto-trance and bleep techno, and then Zots finishes up with freaky synth work dripping with mischievous personality. This is a set of tracks that demands to be noticed - don't sleep.
Review: Amato brings the kind of nasty electro business that fits right in on Helena Hauff's mighty Return To Disorder stable, and you know it's serious from the opening strains of the VHS noir monster "Escape From Grenoble 2018". "Hydraulic Funk" takes things slower, coming on like a freaky Frak flipside and sounding excellent for it. "Machine Outil" takes things in a more muscular direction that sounds built for bench presses and body jerks - the consummate peak time sledgehammer. Umwelt takes this sturdy starting point and demolishes it into a hailstorm of acid malevolence that'll melt your face clean off.
Review: The Well Street family continue to bloom with this assured grip of adventurous steppers from Significant Other. You know you're onto something serious as soon as "Postdrome" fires up in a tangle of break slices, percussive rattles and poised kicks. The sparse drum-focused style continues in a quicker fashion with the tense and twitchy "Delos", while "Brain Fingers" amps up the bass flex to make for a dance-wrecking-ball of a track. "Memory Drum" completes the set with interlocking patterns balanced between organic and electronic and draped in tones of icy dread.
Review: Unstoppable electro machine Carl Finlow (aka Silicon Scally) lands on Orson with more of that impeccable robo-funk he's so revered for. "Elastic Collisions" leads the charge with a tough and teasing workout that works around a heavy low end and plenty of sparkling sound design up top. "Octodecillion" keeps things on a dystopian tip, where a bleak future sounds as funky as it does ominous. "Probabilities" heads into a less floor-focused space where thick layers of buffed and polished synth wriggles collide in high-definition. "Mechanomics" completes the set with another taut belter geared towards the heads down section of the party.
Review: Bjarki's BBBBBB label has carved out its own unique niche in the techno world and next to occupy it is core label artist Stian "EOD" Gjevik. The former Rephlex artist shows off his magnificently complex and busy yet harmonic and melodic sound across five fantastically restless cuts that has lead synths taking you down a number of rabbit holes. Calming pads vie for your attention on "(Untitled) (W-R6)" while the acid laced "The Battery Poles (Are Conic!)" is so bright and shiny it'll have you reaching for your sunglasses. Few people speak so freely through their machines as this man right now.
Review: Detroit duo Aux88 always danced to a different drum than their Motor City peers, developing a ludicrously weighty trademark sound that put massive, mind-mangling analogue bass and gut-punching electro beats at the heart of the action. "Direct Drive", a 1995 release that has long been hard to find (hence this much-needed reissue), is one of the best examples of their distinctive sound. The title track (side A on this edition) is little more than a raw, thrusting bassline, snappy machine beats, spacey pads and occasional Kraftwerk samples, but it's brilliantly floor-friendly and brilliantly executed - Detroit body music for those who like their club cuts sub-heavy. Elsewhere, "Aux Express (DJ K1 Mix)" is a bouncy electro jam and the short "Bytes" tracks are wonky vocal samples for creative DJs.
Review: UK dub techno maestro Steve O'Sullivan is back with another payload of deep immersion heaters under his Bluetrain guise, this time on the Future Primitive label. There's a deadly restraint at work on "Congo Shuffle", where the elements get reduced to needlepoint precision and the low end rhythm section stalks with purpose. "Invisible Guest" takes things in an explicitly dubwise direction, channelling serious Rhythm & Sound vibes for an immaculate head-nodder, before "Paralyzed Dub" slows down further into an end of the line skank for the weary to find solace in - masterful movements in the echo chamber from start to finish.
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: Sushitech's sub label Pariter has already released timeless records from the likes of Delano Smith, Steve O'Sullivan, Baby Ford and Norm Talley to name a few and this new release of the Romanian group Lisiere Collectif is no exception!
Unknown Credentials is a project of 5 tracks released on 2 single records. A sides on both parts are absolutely massive, acid lines and hypnotic chords peak time tracks that will shake any proper sound system with some serious bass extension! B sides are deeper and have more modern, fresh electroish vibe that we love!
Fans of Ricardo Villalobos & Craig Richards b2b sets are going to find it gold! Don't sleep!!
Review: Saucer-eyed rave revivalists Tone Dropout can usually be relied upon to deliver the goods, especially if you're looking for sweaty, energy-packed slabs of warehouse ready techno, acid and electro. The label's latest missive is packed to the rafters with such giddy and forthright fare, to the bleeping, mind-altering insanity of Dawl & Sween's acid-fired throb-job "Laser Guided", to the "Bleep and Breaks" pressure of Samuel Padden's bustling "Quad Damage", to the stripped-back machine techno heaviness of Daif's similarly bleepy "Mysterious Freakin History". Elsewhere, the Ascot/WW track sits somewhere between early breakbeat hardcore and ambient techno, while Skywave Transmission v XOTR's "Warehouse 101" lives up to its name. Serious heat!
Review: Two years after they offered up the first part in the "Retrofitted Future" series, Primary Perception partners Mahy and Nichel Cruz return to Slow Life with volume three. They hit the ground running with "Valis", a crunchy romp through bold analogue bass, twisted acid lines and spacey electronics, before bouncing their way through more melodious, warm and ear-catching territory on the aptly named "Sci-Fi Jazz". Side B boasts two versions of "Funky Emotions" - the low-slung, bass-heavy and decidedly futuristic original mix and the altogether deeper and dreamier "Break mix" - as well as utterly gorgeous ambient track "Space Is An Ocean".
Review: Tribe Recordings' second missive is another standout techno affair, this time from Dawl who has been making big moves this year on Better Sound Italy, Tone Dropout and Hypnohouse. His futuristic sound hits that perfect sweet spot between techno and electro, all with a deeply cosmic edge. "Want Some Candy" manages to be super slick and sleek with a pumping bassline that will wiggle your backside. The intergalactic journey continues on the more textured and brain frying "Voyage" and completes with the acid laced jack track "Just Hausin" which is a real fist pumper.
Review: Fresh from remixing Goldie classic "Crystal Clear" for the veteran producer's reissue of 1997 album "Saturnz Return", Djrum (real name Felix Manuel) offers up his first single in nearly two years. "Hard To Say" seemingly surges from the speakers, with ambient style deep space chords, blissful female vocal snippets and tactile aural textures rising above a blisteringly fast techno beat. This high-octane pace continues on "Tournesol", a cheerily positive affair that wraps chiming, new age style melodies and humid tropical flourishes around another sweaty, non-stop beat. Like the A-side, it's impressively ear pleasing but also percussively intense, especially when the Aphex Twin style mind-altering acid lines make an appearance midway through.
Review: The Advent made for a perfect addition to the formidable Thema catalogue, and now he's back with the second volume of his "Dorian Blue" series. There are plentiful loops to get creative with, but the fully-formed tracks have their own cyclical qualities to inspire technically-minded DJs. "Structures" is an urgent, tightly wound piledriver, while "Interactive Loop" and "Digitize" cuts both take a sprightly, Motor City-styled approach to electro. With loops derived from these classy tracks and more besides, there's a lot to get the creative juices flowing as well as bodies popping.
Review: Pretty much anything Call Super has touched in recent years has turned to gold. This new collaboration with Parris is no different: it is a self-released project with a fictional backstory involving an ageing writer called Mortise Koshimitsu who lived in a small apartment. The music itself is uptempo but deep, with shimmering wooden hits gliding on elastic drums as ambient synth beauty bleeds into the spaces left behind. "Majenta" is a more cavernous and dreamier track that is as good for home listening as it does for tasteful dancing.
Review: When it comes to offering up tough, mind-altering techno, few are quite as capable as Amelie Lens. Further proof arrives via the Belgian's second EP of the year, a four-track collection of dark and intense club cuts on regular home Lenske. Check first the thrusting weightiness of "Helium", where psychedelic lead lines rise above booming bass, trance-inducing drums and intoxicated late night electronics, before admiring the armour-plated stomp of "Man Over Machine", where Lens utters key words over another slamming rhythm track. Elsewhere, "Little Robot" is a mind-altering chunk of spiraling techno-trance, while "Storm" channels the raged intensity of Laurent Garnier's "Crispy Bacon" and re-imagines it for the 21st century.
Review: It's always a treat to spot Edward donning his Desert Sky guise for another trip into the hinterland of minimal techno, where expression reigns free and all kinds of sound sources tumble into a truly exotic mix. On this album for PAL SL, all bets are off as we get whisked down a mysterious and meandering path where organic and electronic matter merge in the shadows, all strapped to subliminal but pronounced grooves that make this some of the most potent, intriguing club material in circulation right now. Buy the ticket, take the ride and dance out under that Desert Sky.
Review: Since signing with Ransom Note Records in 2016, Bawrut has been on a fine run of form. Remarkably, this is the Madrid-based Italian's fifth EP for the imprint and it's every bit as memorable as its four predecessors. Like much of his work, title track "Pronto Arpeggio" is rich in razor-sharp analogue electronics, with high register arpeggio synthesizer lines rising above punchy beats, manic drum fills and mind-altering acid motifs. It's successfully toughened up by KiNK before Bawrut returns with "Shooreee", another boldly percussive and constantly building exercise in analogue electronics manipulation. Ruf Dug's brilliant remix takes the track to another level entirely via even denser drums, rougher acid riffs and more glistening lead lines, while "Atchu" is a chugging chunk of late night acid sleaze.
Review: Following fine releases on Shipwrec, Natural Sciences and Return To Disorder, masked electro/techno misfit Galaxian (real name Mark Kastner) makes his first appearance on Ilian Tape. The Glasgow-based producer starts in suitably big fashion via "External Observer", where what sounds like an orchestra of synthesizers gets to work over a skittish, bass-heavy electro beat, before exploring more dystopian dancefloor pastures on the moody, alien-sounding and otherworldly "Fuzzy Clouds Of Potential Existence". On side B he gives his out-there interpretation of early jungle ("Coming Up For Air"), batters a broken computer into submission and makes electro gold out of it (the slightly melancholic "Mechanistic Control Fantasies") and soundtracks the end of days (or possibly Brexit) on weirdo closing cut "Terminal Phase".
Review: The likes of Steve O'Sullivan, Baby Ford and Norm Talley have appeared on the somewhat overlooked Sushitech sub-label Pariter since 2006. Its latest release comes from Romanian trio Lisiere Collectif, who bring the techno sound of Bucharest to you on the first installment of Unknown Credentials. Member Andu Simion is well known for his rolling and glacial grooves, and in conjunction with Bogdan Ardeleanu and Dan Gheorghe they serve up two emotive and soulful excursions. The untitled A side offering is a driving, hypnotic and overall evocative journey with an undeniable nod to the Motor City sound that you could imagine Delano Smith pumping out in the AM hours. On the B side it is a more parochial affair, yet well worthy - a bumping and funky groove that's right in line with their hometown's renowned sound.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Thule are back on the Icelandic techno reissue trip, this time returning to a serious classic from Sanasol (Yagya & Thor) that originally came out in 1997. This particular, highly sought after, gem leads in with the majorly heady house throb of "Seveneleven (Original Mix)" which piles the dubby processing and lush melodics on heavy while still retaining a sense of airiness to uplift the soul. By contrast, the "Closedonsundays Mix" focuses on a tough but crooked beat and that undulating bassline for a completely different flavour. On the flip, the "Sanaramalonger Mix" returns to the mellower flow of the original but with a more submerged finish and some pronounced dub stabs. Then the "Ozzy Mix" finishes the package with a minimal take that prefigures the upsurge of dubby clicks n' cuts laptop beats that would explode in the years to come. Essential tackle for all deep techno explorers.
Review: Do or Die has already made an impression on Nicolas Lutz's My Own Jupiter and now makes a sideways step to Binh's Time Passages, another label associated with a deep digging selection of underground DJs who are some of the most revered of the moment. Opener "90s" makes you wanna scream "aciiiiiiiiid" at the top of your voice, "EBM" channels some old school rave, breakbeat and techno vibes with its energetic drum patterns and bleeping synths. The title track is the most unusual of the lot, pairing withering synth lines with metallic drums and distorted drones that all add up to some powerful, warehouse-ready sounds.
Review: A new enigmatic duo from London named Two Shell present Livity Sounds' next installment. Their debut "Access EP" draws influence from the South London underground of the late '90s and early 00's, with a nod to more contemporary Bristol sounds across these four wicked tracks. From the off-kilter stepper that is "Heart Piece', through to the glacial and deconstructed dub techno of "Contactless" and the rolling bass-driven entrancer "SYNC-2020" - they have forged an EP of warm but stripped-down, deft UK style grooves to mark an anthemic debut. More groundbreaking future sounds from the ever reliable Bristol label.
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: Michigan producer John Beltran is a master of atmosphere and emotion. His ambient has been used for countless seminal TV shows, he's been cited as an inspiration to Four Tet and has put out key albums on labels like Delsin and Peacefrog. Here he is in a distinctively club-focussed mood, but the synths still very much speak to your heart. "The Lake" is pure Motor City techno soul, and the ambient reprise allows you to wallow in his pads even more. "Twilight" then bustles with shimmering metal hits while pixelated keys drift about like a million fire flies in a warm night sky. Lush.
Review: Edanticonf has been a mainstay of Silent Season for many years now, first delivering an album and EP to the Canadian label back in 2012. Since then he's travelled to labels such as M_REC, Wolfskuil, Phorma and Linear Movement, but he's back home to roost with this gorgeous four-tracker that plays on his trademark sound. Rich with melancholic synth work and moving with a purposeful but thoughtful pace, this is exactly the kind of evocative techno that makes Silent Season a buy on sight label. Every track tells its own story, but the starry twinkle of "The Metamorphosis Of Plants" is especially captivating.
Review: For those who dig Jeff Mills but don't have the time or money to hoard records from his extensive back catalogue, the ongoing "Director's Cut" series showcasing hard-to-find gems from his discography is a godsend. Volume five begins with a trip back to 2015 and "Solar Cycles" - an alien-sounding, otherworldly mid-tempo techno loop jam - from the limited edition, USB-only "Proxima Centauri" album. Side B begins with the bleeping tribal techno hustle of "L8" from 1998's "Skin Deep EP", before Mills offers us a chance to drift through space via 2006 track "Above Waiting Worlds", which is one of his most intergalactic and cinematic dancefloor cuts to date (and that's saying something).
Review: James Ruskin's Blueprint label might be more than 50 releases deep, but it is still turning out vital techno. Famous beer lover Truncate is behind this latest no nonsense three tracker and first up he races out of the blocks with the wall rattling kicks and brilliantly linear grooves of "The Bell" which indeed has some eerie bell sounds bringing mystery to proceedings. "Initials" is for the messier late night hours, with loose synths unfolding in unpredictable patterns and melting your mind. "Timbre" is then the atmospheric closer that takes you inwards. Timeless stuff.
Review: Reade Truth has been dropping plenty of heat lately on Cartulis and Warm Fiction, but now he's back on his own label Path. There's a lysergic, freaky twist to the strain of electro-techno he's exploring, where the synths bubble and trickle with playful energy while staying rooted in a nocturnal underworld of basement-ready business. "Without A Doubt" is especially captivating on this tip, while the slight move towards melody on "Brain Damaged" is just as welcoming. Watch out for "A Secret Heaven" though - a consummately punchy New York groove garnished with plenty of off-kilter sonic debris.
Review: Through a series of must-check releases on Nous'klaer Audio, Ruben Uvez AKA Konduku has proved to be one of the more thoughtful and inventive producers to emerge in recent times. While some of his previous releases have strayed away from the dancefloor, his first outing on Idle Hands is a wonderfully basement-bothering affair full of tracks tailor made for hazy, early morning sets. It boasts two suitably dark, dubby and clandestine cuts - the echoing dub techno pulse of "Lila" and the sub-heavy, Livity Sound style flex of "Bolu" - plus two more melodic outings. Of these, we're particularly enjoying "Caduata Di Massi", where deliciously dreamy chords ebb and flow around stabbing analogue bass and crunchy drums.
Review: Via well-regarded releases on Budget Cuts and Eternal Ocean (a label he founded), Robin Lohrey ALA Ronan has quickly established himself as a must-check maker of the kind of alternately dreamy and psychedelic dancefloor fare whose roots lie not in contemporary club culture, but rather early '90s techno, trance, jungle and breakbeat hardcore. His latest 12", for D. Tiffany's Planet Euphorique label, touches on many of these themes, moving from the twisted psychedelic techno/ambient techno madness of "Dream Portal", to the sped-up, acid-fired thump of "Star Fissure" - think Braindance style electro after a few too many doses of narcotics - via the aquatic tribal techno throb of "Crystal Viewer".
Review: Long-serving electro project Transparent Sound come back full throttle with this expansive album of masterful machine music. Opening track "Pretend Like You Care" is a startling opener that feels like a wormhole back to the Cologne laboratories of the kosmische movement. The beats kick in proper from that point, and in consummate noirish fashion, with "No Call From New York", and proceed to trip through all manner of nocturnal dreamscapes lit in sleazy neon strip lighting. It's a lurid, evocative sound world the veteran duo concoct, and one you'll find yourself returning to again and again.
Review: Venetian imprint Yay present the third installment of their sublabel 3N0 by Aljaz Gnezda aka Eliaz. The Slovenian producer's second EP features three minimal cuts from the wonkier end of the spectrum. Eliaz is said to have made the low slung acid bounce of "Lizergid" on the A side in 2013, before he switched to a mainly hardware setup. The other tracks on the flip are brand new: the tripped-out breakbeat action of "Erbiton" and the entrancing afterhours raviness of "Mental Spaceship". The man is slowly but surely becoming one of the prominent characters of his local scene.
Review: Some wicked underground sounds coming out of Ukraine (and beyond) on offer here by new imprint Hypnohouse. Darren Woollard aka Dawl who has been putting out some wicked grooves on Libertine, Furthur Electronix and Klasse Wrecks lately gets into some proper bleep techno action on "Output" while Kiev-based Trippsy finishes up the A side with the strobed-out and tunnelling sensations of "Flashback". Flip over for Uruguay's Fede Lijtmaer who channels some Dopplereffekt vibes on "Passing By" followed by Wulffius' retro techno jam "Salty Breeze". Tip!
Review: REPRESS ALERT: relik returns with a repackaged edition of one of the catalogue's most treasured releases. "Overcome" and "Lady Science (NYC Sunrise)" need little introduction, and now come sporting the new TR11:11 matrix number. Written and produced by Thomas Melchior and Baby Ford aka Soul Capsule, these tracks came from one of the many sessions recorded at the West London Ifach Studio in 1999. On the A Side "Overcome" is stripped back and energetic, driven by rolling and shuffling garage style beats, tight bubbling bass and atmospheric synth pads. The intermittent vocal samples and the release's signature organ set you up for the flip, "Lady Science (NYC Sunrise)". Possibly one of house music's most emotive pieces, the track builds slowly with the introduction of each part building a story of soulful optimism based around a sparse palette of deep synths, uplifting keys and warm analogue bass. The understated beauty of the main vocal riff never seems to grow old or tired with the track lending itself perfectly to either main room, peak-time play or after-hours sessions alike. Remastered by Rashad at D & M.
Review: Tectonic bossman Pinch on Berceuse Heroique? Now this is a match made in boundary-breaking heaven. Not even the lead track "Border Control" can keep things confined as we're hurled into a swampy, heady, paranoid and relentless stampede which is just as much techno as it is 140. "Fortune Tellers" brings us back down to even woozier 125 as layers of off-kilter percussion scuffle up and down the mix in a blurry, sense-deceiving way before "Loose Cables" turns us inside out with its tripletty off-beat, subaquatic pressure. A one of a kind artist on a one of a kind label; there are no borders here.
Review: Having previously appeared on Nyame and Something Happening, Somewhere, Amsterdam-based producer Vand now brings his delicate, dubby take on techno to Alpengluhen. Nodding to the atmospheric moods of Claro Intelecto and the like, he draws you in with the icy refrains of "Altarf-unn" before upping the emotion with the heart-wrenching pads of "Concord". "Kodama" has a more pronounced impact which is tempered by liberal delay and reverb, and "Paraztul" keeps things spacious and fractured for a more electronica-tinged trip outside the 4/4 slipstream.
Review: "Supernature" is Escape Artist's sophomore EP on Salt Mines and is another stylish intersection between breaks, electro, techno and ambient. The music here is crisp and clean, with sleek lines and sharp edges making it all the more pure and serene sounding. "Carpentaria" is a scene-setting opener that builds on smeared pads without ever fully taking off, and "The Earth" repeats the trick but with more bubbling and organic percussion. "Silicone Valium" is a brilliantly trippy electro cut on fat and heavy kicks and the title track marks full lift off with a surging future-techno groove detailed with some old school breaks.
Review: Almost thirty years after it was first released and spawned an entire new sub genre, "Acid Tracks" still bangs harder than 99% of new tunes. Here it gets remixed by a selection of seriously big names as well as hot newcomers and then pressed up to limited green vinyl. The big man Carl Cox goes first and is in no mood to muck about, layering in hammering kick drums and making the 303 even more wild and serrated. Swiss-Chilean minimalist Luciano distils it down to a more soft and supple acid track that works on the mind, while the flip side offerings serve up stomping warehouse techno, strobe-lit anthems and rubbery drum workouts.