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: 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: Shahr Farang continues to blossom as a label, primarily as a vessel for the work of Sohrab Karimi and Rasul Gafarov, better known as Ahu and Lenta respectively. On this occasion, Ahu and Lenta have teamed up to present some intriguing clippings from two separate improvised studio jams. As is customary with the label, the primary mode of expression is minimal techno shrouded in hazy textures and atmospheric matter, but it veers more towards the kind of clicks and cuts you'd expect from a classic Scape record than anything geared towards the dancefloor. The steady tick of a 4/4 kick means this music isn't necessarily consigned to the headphones though - the right kind of warm up slot or backroom could be just the place to melt into these delicate productions.
Review: The fifth release from Wilson Phoenix on his own self-titled label continues the impressive pace set by this breakout techno artist. "Analogical" opens up the A side with a heavy-hearted, emotionally charged strain of techno tough and tender in equal measure. Things get spicier on the flip as Phoenix plays around with rhythmic structures to make a deadly, bass-charged broken techno belter under the name "Gamma Meld". "Automatic Africa" finishes the EP off with a tightly wound percussive work out - just the kind of interesting DJ tool track you want to spice your sets up with.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Mancunian legends Graham Massey and Andy Barker reunite for the first 808 State album in 17 years. They recorded the new opus "Transmission Suite" in the Granada studios (where they once performed live on television 30 years ago) and looked to their hometown's club scene as their main source of influence - along with the timeless aesthetic of Detroit which has always influenced their style. Across this collection of "sonic landscapes" (as described by Massey) you'll hear the booming acid electro of first single "Tokyo Tokyo" and "The Ludwig Question", through to off-kilter jams like "Westland", futurist house grooves of "Ujala" and a modern reboot of classic "Angol Argol".
Review: Almost five years has passed since now legendary Japanese producer Susumu Yokota passed away. Lo Recordings, who worked with the experimental electronica, techno and ambient artist over a number of years, have decided to mark the occasion by releasing a posthumous album made up of recently discovered - and previously unreleased - Yokota recordings made around the same time as 2002 set "The Boy and the Tree". While there has been a little post-production work by label founder Jon Tye, those familiar with Yokota's work wouldn't be able to tell. Otherworldly, imaginative and hugely emotional in tone, the ten included tracks flit between neo-classical inspired Japanese minimalism, pastoral soundscapes, gentle new age aural dreams and the kind of hushed, life-affirming ambient works that were once Yokota's trademark.
Review: After kicking things off with the killer "Mariachi Guadalajara" by Lewski, Or:la's Cead label returns with another emergent talent, Blu Terra. The Warsaw based producer comes on strong for this breakthrough release with the heavy slapping, sound design-enhanced electro of "Person Sans". Even if the opening track felt detailed, it's superseded by the barrage of information spilling out of crafty, distinctive acid monster "20,000". "Western/Eastern" spreads across the B-side in a nervous twitch of rave energy geared towards big dark spaces, perfect for that spine-tingling part of the night when the real world feels very far away indeed.