Review: Brawther's Negentropy label has already carried gold star material from Ron Obvious and the man himself, and now it's the turn of debutant producer Zweizig to show off his wares. This assured 12" leads in with the ambient intro "Gewissen" before the crisp minimal funk of "Rhythm Tension" kicks in with its shimmering and shuddering sound design pinging around the dexterous beat. "Zephyr" is a smoky affair with a snappy broken beat and lots of subtle organic matter writhing in the middle distance. "Rehash Repeat" takes things deep and dubby to complete the set, all mellow hiccupping rhythm accents and hazy melodic phrases.
Review: The rise of Ilian Tape has been piloted by Dario and Marco Zenker with a steady assurance, so it makes perfect sense for the brothers to helm the first long player project from the Munich label. Immersion is a vibrant, atmospheric stroll through their various influences and inspirations with plenty to admire amongst the ten tracks. There is the bustling, leftfield breakbeat techno of "TSV WB" and pounding "High Club" (a no-nonsense dancefloor assault blessed with occasional eyes-closed chords), as well as sublime tech-jazz of "Cornel 21" and pitched-down junglisms of "Innef Runs". Interestingly, there are also a number of crusty, distorted ambient interludes, with "Erbquake" sounding particularly potent.
Review: It's double trouble again from ever reliable Bavarian brethren: Dario and Marco Zenker. The Ilian Tape head honchos seem to look for inspiration from the West Midlands techno scene circa the mid '90s. The splintered, full-throttle machinations of A side cut "Sorting Peanuts" call to mind Force + Form era Surgeon with its stuttered and jarring pace - making equal room for tension and suspense. On the flip, the greyscale factory floor stomp of "Sample Predator" will please fans of the Downwards back catalogue - British Murder Boys and Female in particular.
Review: Argentina's Andres Zacco has form with Ilian Tape, debuting on the Zenker Brothers-helmed label back in 2011. Zacco is back in the IT fold, but this time it's through the label's X Series, a chapter reserved to more spontaneous white label action. As such, "Thaw" is a sublime mass of percussion riding solo on a soundscape, before being punched into shape by a powerful kick drum, while "Quirt" is more of a stripped-back techno slitherer for DJ tool use. Flip the wax and you'll find the weighty kicks and morphing sonics of "Beighty", alongside Ilian Tape's Rupcy's distorted, big room reinterpretation of "Thaw". All killer, no filler.
Review: Exos' label X/OZ continues to grow as a distinct voice in the world of minimal techno, this time around inviting Russian producer Nikita Zabelin to explore his sound with a sizable EP of finely crafted techno and thought-provoking ambience. "Confusion" is a consummate slice of hypnotic techno crackling with heavily processed energy, while "Pluton" drifts into rich beatless territory. There's more experimental fare afoot with the fractured tumbles of "Curtains", but "Trans Siberian Express" is on hand to lock things back into a sturdy rhythmic framework. Exos also takes the time to remix "Brooklyn Train" into a noirish dub techno workout.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Uruguay's finest house and techno export Z@p continues his welcome return to active service in the freakier end of the scene with this spot on Cartulis Music. "Tracid" has a clue in its title, and it doesn't take long to detect the brazen 303 baiting taking place through the core of this peppy workout. It's an effective weapon used in just the right way that should get bodies wriggling with approval. "That Break" meanwhile diverts into a kind of braindance territory with the titular drums matched with more wobbly synth leads and spooked out pads, and then "Acid Rhytms" rounds the EP off with a more reflective cut for calmer moments in the dance.
Review: Osaka's Koshiro "YPY" Hino built his reputation on a series of fearlessly experimental cassette releases, before breaking cover to deliver a 12" of frazzled techno on Nous last year. Zurhyrethm marks his long-form vinyl debut, and contains eight suitably experimental tracks stretched across two slabs of wax. While there are clear tropical influences, a humid feel and nods towards the visceral pleasures of ambient, Hino's greatest strength is his eccentric drum programming. Zurhyrethm's dense - but often subtly mixed - percussive backing dominates throughout, with nods to African and South American rhythms, Sweet Exorcist's C.C.CD-era "clonk techno" (look it up), and the metallic clanking of classic industrial music.
Review: The second 12" on Moscow-based mystery label Private Persons comes from Youngg P, a Ukraine-based DJ/producer whose debut release dropped on Kiev House a couple of years back. On the four tracks showcased here, he shows a good grasp of analogue house and techno dynamics. "Carpathian Rave" is a quirky, off-kilter jacker rich in buzzing electronics, liquid acid riffs and bustling house percussion, while "Ocean" fits the stargazing electronics of vintage Motor City techno to the saucer-eyed melodiousness of vintage Italian deep house. Meanwhile, creepy flipside "War" sounds like it was inspired by a mix of L.I.E.S style distorted techno and 1980s industrial funk. As for closer "Masher Track", it's a full-throated exploration of clanking, drum machine techno.
Review: The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice that the four cuts showcased here made up the first 12" of Indigo Aera's recent Lost Archives Special box-set. Like most of the rest of that expansive package, these tracks are exclusive and previously unreleased. The quality threshold is undeniably high: check, for example, the glistening, beat-less ambient positivity of Yamaoka's "Dragon Robe", and the glacial melodiousness of Skudge's rolling techno shuffler, "November". Those looking for a darker, slightly more intense take on techno should head for Museum's throbbing "RA", while label co-founder Jasper Wolff's "Float" is a study in classic, dub-influenced techno hypnotism.
Review: Icelandic producer Yagya (AKA reclusive producer Aoalsteinn Guomundsson) doesn't release very much, with four studio albums and a lone single the sum of 12 years productivity. However, what he does release is usually top notch. Sleepygirls, his fifth album and first for Delsin, is predictably good, delivering warm, sensual, melodious, dub-inflected techno and undulating, ultra-deep house. Grooves shuffle, electronics drift between speakers, melodies bubble and chords float off into the ether. It's the kind of album to stick on while the sun's coming up, or as you're easing yourself into the day following a heavy session the night before. Any many ways it's as sleepy as the title suggests, but in the most beguiling way.
Review: The Poverty Is Violence stable are firmly established now as an essential conductor for rabid, rowdy and downright rasping mechanics from subterranean operators of all shapes and sizes. Anonymous but reportedly veteran Dutch producer XXX previously appeared on the label in 2016 with the wild Noorder Scannen 12", and now returns with a bludgeoning new release. There's a consistent metal grind to the percussion on Westzaan Doelen, while the synth tones in between tend towards the jagged and abrasive, there's space and poise in the arrangement to lift this out of knuckleheaded noise. "Don't Go After Her" reverberates with clamouring intensity while the beefy chassis of "Just The Two Of You" shimmers under an acidic glaze - this is full-tilt deviant music executed with finesse to match the grime.
Review: Synthesizer and drum machine obsessive Xosar (AKA producer Sheela Rahman) has enjoyed a productive few years, building a formidable reputation via releases on Rush Hour, L.I.E.S and Creme Organization. Here she delivers her first full-length for Opal Tapes' occasional vinyl offshoot, Black Opal. It's perhaps a little less colourful and synthesizer-heavy than previous excursions, instead focusing on dark, fuzzy, heavily percussive takes on acid house and techno. Of course, there are curious interludes - see the wonky industrial IDM of "Prophylaxis" and the beatless synth madness of "Gnome Circle" - but it's the more floor-friendly excursions (and most profoundly the bleak and intense "Hades Gates") that really stand out.
Review: Bay Area producer and acclaimed live act Xosar returns with her fifth album, which follows up last year's Xymeria and 2015's Holographic Matrix. Named The Possessor Possesses Nothing, it was composed in a state of optimistic nihilism and draws inspiration from themes as diverse as alchemy, Kundalini yoga, fractals, DNA structure, the Golden Ratio, biofeedback, quasicrystals.. and stand up comedy! Moreover, her relocation to techno capital Berlin a few years ago has definitely made its mark on her sound here: dark ambient ("Transmogrification"/"The Video"), contorted techno ("A Heart Encircled By A Serpent"/"Pikachu Police State") and EBM ("Heavens Gate") are all apparent on this wild excursion through the underworld.
Review: Given that XOR Gate is a new project from Drexciya member and all round Detroit legend Gerald Donald, we'd expect copies of Conic Sections to fly off the shelves. It helps, of course, that's the mini-album is little less than inspired. There are hints of Drexciya's alien electronics throughout, but little in the way of punchy TR-808 beats or booming bass. Instead, Donald treats us to a sublime selection of futurist soundscapes, experimental doodles, deep space ambient compositions and trippy, horror-influenced electronica. It's effectively the distilled essence of Motor City futurism with the dancefloor grooves removed and some creepy modular electronics thrown in. Which, we think you'll agree, is an enticing proposition.
Review: Gifted Culture Collective member and occasional S. Moreira collaborator Xinner has decided to inaugurate a new alias, Robotron, via a first EP for ESP Institute. The man-machine's first missive, "Dream Resonator", is rather delightful, and sees him warp chiming, crystalline synthesizer melodies and glassy-eyed IDM style chords around an inventive and entertaining rhythm track that sits somewhere between Drexciya style electro and jazz-fired broken beat. The same rhythmical dexterity is also at the heart of similarly rush-inducing flipside "Ice", where bolder melodies and chunkier bass catch the ear alongside some suitably futurist electronics.
Review: Owen Jay's Batti Batti label has carried a great selection of various artists releases throughout its back catalogue, and the tradition continues with this latest missive. The Palette EP kicks off with the ever-rising talents of Jayson Wynters, who plies a seductive strain of deep house on "Sherella's Kiss" that melts perfectly into the blissful, twinkling keys and gossamer percussion of Duccio's "Absurdation". Kiddmisha leads in on the B side with the sprightly electro of "Healing" before Weakmassive rounds things off with the mellow acid of "Sjhue," which matches a nagging 303 with sumptuous keys for a spine-tingling conclusion to a fantastic 12".
Review: Keeping up with Rene "Shed" Pawlowitz's many aliases is almost a full-time job in itself. Here, he dons the WK7 guise last used in 2012 for an EP that happily joins the dots between the sensual shuffle of house, and the rigid thump of techno. A-side "Washer" leads the way, with curious synth refrains and off-kilter electronics riding a delightfully bumpin', extra-percussive, 125 BPM groove. Flipside "More Music" successfully doffs a cap to vintage US and UK garage - feel the swing of those beats, with the added intensity of his usual techno kicks - with warm chords and vocal samples emphasizing the classic inspirations.
Review: Too long had passed since the last Power House killah, so these four new bangers from WK7 aka Shed couldn't be more welcome on our charts. As per usual, the techno luminary chugs out some proper old-school vibes under this slamming guise and, unsurprisingly, they're as mean and tooled-up as ever. "Rhythm 1" is classic WK7 on a breakbeat tip, molding euphoric rave waves together with fat, driving beats for the dancehall; "The Healer" is a much deeper, funkier groove powered by rough flanger FX and Shed's magical groove tactics. On the flip, "Rhythm 2 (Power Snap Mix)" is a subtle edit of the A1, boasting yet more percussive glory, while the Tripple H mix delivers a fine jungle rework of the original - crunchy breaks all-round!
Review: On celebrating 22 years of Josh Wink's cult acid classic "Sixth Sense" on his legendary Ovum imprint, they've invited one half of Masters At Work, Louie Vega, and Israeli techno hero Shlomi Aber for a set of remarkable updates. Vega looks after the A side with a couple of sweltering reworks: from the bouncy, bass-driven groove attitude of the main remix which retains industry veteran Ursula Rucker's powerful vocal performance, to the handy dub version up next. On the flip, Aber certainly has come a long way since the days of Chicago Days/Detroit Nights - it's about spending all weekend at Berlin's Berghain these days - getting on some proper tunnel vision with his steely and austere rework.
Review: The mysterious Wilson Phoenix returns with another batch of muscular techno joints that'll wipe the floor with any half-hearted 4/4 pretenders. Considering how sought after his earlier releases are, don't expect this to hang around for long. The beastly 909 kicks on "Dorphin" would slot in perfectly with Head Front Panel's own blown out take on peak time rabble rousing techno, while the kick-clap sync on "Dexed" will get fists a-shaking. It's not all blunt drums though - there's plenty of peppy colour splashed all over this record to make it stand out from the crowd. This ain't no monochrome chugging business!