Review: Modular techno maestro and Freerotation big cheese Steevio is on fine form on "Zephyr", his first EP of 2019. He kicks things off with "Brawd", where undulating electronic motifs and faintly foreboding snatches of melody wind their way around a rolling techno groove, before offering up a swinging, off-kilter take on tropical techno rich in darting minor key melodies and jazzy sub-bass. Turn to the flip and you'll encounter two more chunks of modular dancefloor hypnotism: the slowly shifting, head-in-the-clouds throb of "Cysuron" and the melodious but off-kilter tech-jazz flex of hard-to-pigeonhole EP highlight "Rhyddid".
Review: Plants Army Revolver debut on Avian. The Italian live act will join Avian for a five track EP showcasing the pair's breadth as producers. Working within the bounds of a carefully refined sound palette, Marco Ragni & Birgan Valentin look to the more muted, tentatively melodic end of loop Techno, with excursions into washed out Ambient & leftfield Electronica, placing the focus on sound texture & tone.
Review: Hailing from Crimea, Stas Karpenkov's Krym Mryk label is a direct line into the most intriguing techno-oriented diversions transmitting from Russia and Ukraine. In a similar vein to the likes of Udacha and Ghost Zvuk, Krym Mryk is brimming with the kind of originality and expression that makes records such as these essential purchases. "Entity" presents a calm, icy ambient lead in before the quivering, dubby techno pulse of "Yevpatoriya Satellite". "I've Had Enough To Look Down" is a writhing, biomechanical synth work out of the highest order, and "Windswept" finishes the EP off in a gentle blizzard of drones. A serious draw for this record as well is the Stanislav Tolkachev remix, which nudges "Yevpatoriya Satellite" into dynamic broken techno territory with a powerful synth wave channel coursing through it.
Review: Kalbata has turned his hand to many styles over the years, not least the excellent soundsystem explorations of Congo Beat The Drum, but on this second release for his label Brush & Broom, he's decided to fling himself into the fiery pit of acid while paying tribute to 90s motocross bikes. "Honda" is dripping with 303, punctuated by a twitchy set of drums, while "Yamaha" takes a diversion into moodier territory, letting hazy chords set the tone for an energised but defiantly heads down acid workout. "Suzuki" is a bit spicier, capturing the essence of 'up-for-it' early Trax Records but edging it into more hypnotic, looped up territory. "Toyota" finishes the EP off with an atonal bleep out with an electro undercarriage.
Review: Nick Sole is back on Mojuba! If you ever asked yourself how deep-house should sound like, now you have the chance to experience. The a-side of "World Dubbing" is an epic ocean of the deepest house sounds that will blow you away with its hypnotic organic feel and harmony. The b-side is a dancefloor shaking drum track with a catchy dubby atmosphere. Get it while you can!
Review: Thus far all we know about Wilson Phoenix is pressed into the previous two records the anonymous operator has released so far in 2018. That should be enough for techno heads with their ears to the ground - this is rough and ready hardware business for those who like it nasty. While not perhaps as willfully unhinged as Neil Landstrumm, it's very much in that sonic ballpark, not least on relentless acidic opener "Between Mars." Things get a little freakier with the pinging electro delights of "Moon Machine" before the rowdy rave beast "Exo Planet" levels the landscape with some brutal synth stabs that would sound at home on an early The Prodigy record.
Review: The resurgent Transparent Sound outfit (made up of UK electro veterans Orson Bramley and Martin Brown) have been riding high since their classic "Punk Motherfucker" got picked up for a reissue from Pressure Traxx, finding favour with the Club der Visionaere set. They're back on their own label with a rich and plentiful EP loaded with robotic box jams, leading in with the dark and seductive body popping beatdown "What Is Your Name?". The vocal mix is killer, but there's also the added bonus of an instrumental take for those who prefer a pure machine sound. Acidulant also steps up with a blinding remix that does a great service to the original, threading some seriously nasty synth wriggles and wobbles into the mix.
Review: After releases from the likes of Myles Serge and Hakim Murphy, Mentha now turns to STK (also known as Stekke) for some sinister minimalist tackle from the dark side. "Something Is Raw" creeps along on a bed of grumbling drone as pin-prick percussion punctuates the gloom, and then "What Is Back" drops the bed of noise for an eerily sparse groover sure to unsettle the nerves of any listener. After all those subtleties, Gary Romalis does a damn fine job of edging a little more meat onto the bones of "What Is Back" without losing the vibe of the EP. With punchy yet muted drums and lashings of atmosphere, his remix makes the perfect counterpoint to STK's uneasy reductions.
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: A slice of cyclopean, baltic Techno served by Grad U, well known for his Greyscale/Redscale project and releasing on labels like Knowone, Neurotron or Echocord. He delivers an obscure trip through the 7th Chapter of the story, Warfare, the decisive battle between clones and humans for the reign of planet earth...no one is safe. This is a vinyl-only release and limited.
Review: Having kicked off his Etheric label with the Origins EP earlier this year, Leonardo is back with more adventurous machine music for the spiritually inclined dancefloor. "The Offering" has a dark and moody tone thanks to the snaking synth line wriggling its way through the track, perfect for eyes-down submission as the strobe blinks slowly. "Symmetry" is a more open affair, all soft top chimes and vapour blasts pinging around an easy electro beat, while "The Afterlife" strikes somewhere in the middle with a tougher, club-minded sound that still favours a sunnier sound palette. "Droplets" is the consummate B2, shrugging off the dancefloor rules of the previous tracks to trip out in a dubwise atmosphere that further strengthens the quality of what Leonardo is up to.
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: FXHE has been brimming with activity in recent times, with a steadfast flurry of singles refusing to let the quality drop, and now the big bossman delivers another two slices of finely cured business in his inimitable style. The lead track is an arresting piece with just a kick to drive proceedings, leaving ample room for a haunting array of bleeps and a 'speak & spell' vocal until the track slowly ramps up with some more prominent drum programming. "Mayall II" on the flip is a less tense affair, with a cheery string refrain and old school jack-in-the-box beats disseminated in a plain and simple fashion.
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.
Dreaming Of Paradise (Oracy Leaving Eden dub) (9:26)
Review: Fresh from Utrecht, Blue Closet makes his debut on Mojuba with two startling originals; "To The Ocean Floor" lives up to its name with big pad washes and beats that shuffle like an old Rolando joint. Immersive and captivating, it's the perfect set opener that allows you to take any direction you wish. Flip for "Dreaming Of Paradise", a yearning, barbed soul cut that's reminiscent of Lee Burridge 15 years ago but at around half the tempo. Powerful and dreamy, it's complemented by a bubbling version from Oracy that blows Closet's doors off. More please, Bluey.