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: After keeping his counsel for the best part of 12 months, Blawan follows up last year's decidedly robust and forthright "Wet Will Always Dry" album with another suitably searing, all-action EP. Title track and opener "Many Many Pings" adds wild, Aphex Twin style electronics to a driving, dense and deranged techno rhythm, before "Lox" delivers a similarly intense study in charcoal-coloured lo-fi techno insanity. "Gadget" sounds like a Surgeon record with razor-sharp claws - all thumping beats and scuzzy electronic loops - while "Hapexil Rotator" cleverly combines bittersweet and otherworldly electronic flourishes with another mind-mangling distorted techno drum track.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Japanese artist Sunao Gonno's idiosyncratic sound has appeared on labels such as Endless Flight, International Feel and Beats In Space over the years, where he's dabbled in shoegaze, kosmische and psychedelia as heard on 2015's breathtaking "Remember The Life Is Beautiful" or on last year's contemporary jazz outing "In Circles" with Kazuhiko Masumura. An accomplished DJ also, he's no stranger to Berlin's Panorama Bar, where Nick Hoppner (Touch From A Distance) has long held a residency. The two artists collaborate for the first time on "Lost", featuring three sublime sonic journeys: go deep into the exotic on "Bangalore" with its world music influence, or chill to the vivid downbeat tones of "Love Lost" until "Start Trying" returns to the program with its neon-lit aesthetic plus breakbeats reminiscent of the rave era.
Review: Following up appearances by veterans such as Josh Wink, Hardfloor and Acid Rain (Milton Bradley), Dame Music takes no prisoners on the third installment of The Melting Pot, delivering another series of unrepentant 303 ultraviolence. Label chief Bloody Mary steps up to deliver the punishing and disorienting psychedelia of "Acetic" awash in gliding resonance from that little silver box plus clattering 909 mayhem. Splice then lunges straight for the jugular on "Tactile", a frantic session where the abrasive overdrive of the kick will have you begging for mercy. Finally, the legend Thomas P. Heckmann returns since his appearance on the series' first episode - he delivers the seething restrained fury of "The Space Between".
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: Version co-bossman Orson seems to only drop a release once a year. But when he does, it's always worth paying close attention to. As with all things Version, it's a full trip that joins dots well beyond the assumed or conventional dub continuum. "Agadir" is a hazy Latin mooch into dub disco territory while "Delivero" is positively Balearic with its 105BPM plod, delicate arpeggiated weaves and sudden drop into soulful vocals. Flip for "Toxic Waste" as Orson goes all percussive and broken beat (think Tyrant) while "Garzweiler" closes on an stormy ambient note. Batten down the hatches.
Review: Given the label's soulful roots, it's perhaps a little surprising to find Eglo championing a wild, wonky, machine-made EP full of angular electro, IDM, house and techno fusions from debutant Destiny71z. It's apparently the first of three EPs from the little-known producer, who used modular kit and dusty analogue gear to create his unpredictable but undoubtedly brilliant electronic workouts. We're particularly enjoying the zany Autechre-does-two-step-garage flex of "Softbeta" and the weighty, bass-powered crankiness of the artist's self-titled track ("Destiny71z"), but the jazzy, sun-bright breeziness of "Foodprogramvoltage" is also superb, and arguably more in keeping with Eglo's eclectic-but-soulful ethos. Either way, an eye-opening EP that's well worth checking.
Review: Roya is project of Sohrab Karimi (Ahu) and Rasul Gafarov (Lenta) presenting the live recordings the two made as they met in studio during two different summers. All tracks are extracts from long jam sessions in which they played previsouly released & unreleased material live and with no rehearsal at all. In fact, Siah Mashq itself means rehearsal or practice.
Review: Richard Fearless returns to his Drone imprint with a hand stamped, white label album sampler leading up to his forthcoming album "Deep Rave Memory". Feel the power of "Atlas Of Insanity" on the A with its noir-ish, metal edged intensity that's equally as brutal as it is elegant. On the flip, "New Perspective" is a deeper and more hypnotic affair with its mesmerising chime melody and ethereal layers of pads supported by a broken beat which keeps you on the edge. All material from the forthcoming album was recorded at the Death In Vegas main man's Metal Box, overlooking the Thames where he drew from the studio's industrial environment for inspiration.
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: Adeen Records with another spectacular release. This time, they're offering up a double lp re-release of remixed classics of the imperial Lee "Scratch" Perry 1997dub techno infused album "TECHNOMAJIKAL. With stellar remixes from Camille and DJ Boring giving it an updated futuristic sound while keeping it still techno at heart.