Review: After years spent offering up impressive blends of ambient, drone, electronica and experimental drum and bass as ASC, James Clements has decided to commit more time to Comit (sorry), an alternative project which first surfaced via a debut single in 2016. Here the San Diego-based Brit delivers a first full-length excursion under the alias. There's plenty to soothe and seduce on the eight tracks stretched across two slabs of wax, from the undulating, occasionally skittish beats and sweeping chord sequences of opener "Behind Dulled Eyes" and the icy, doom-laden electronic melancholy of "Reverie", to the early Black Dog Productions flex of "Clouded Over" and the dubbed-out, slow motion bliss of "Soft Focus".
Review: Silent Season's mainstay artist Segue returns with a new album, following up on the well-received immersion of his 2016 LP "Over The Mountains" with further explorations in the hinterland between dub techno, ambient and a more pastoral kind of palette. It's a field he's well versed in, and one that typifies Silent Season's approach as well, but there's plenty of fresh ideas to latch onto here as Segue weaves gorgeous threads of melody around tactile, mossy beds of sound and understated grooves that carry you to far away, inviting places. Even the more pronounced dub techno stylings of "Mirage", for example, sound vibrant and invigorating in Segue's hands - another sterling album from an accomplished producer.
Review: Militant Detroit techno crew Scan 7 have learned much from their association with Underground Resistance, not least the benefits of myth-making and mystery. This is one of the reasons that "Between Worlds" is fast becoming one of techno's most talked about releases of 2019. Of course, the fact that it's also the seven-piece crew's first album since 2002 has added to the hype, too. So is it any good? Oh yes. Variously deep, spacey, futuristic and foreboding, the album's 13 cuts range from pitch-black acid-fired techno ("I'm Covered") and fizzing techno-funk ("Trackmasta Hoop"), to percussion-laden deep house melancholia ("Deep Roots") and punchy club electro ("It's Time"). For the most part, though, what you get is uplifting, emotion rich techno in the style of their fellow Detroit greats.
Review: Given his stargazing, intergalactic ethos, it's perhaps unsurprising that sci-fi techno overlord Jeff Mills has decided to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo XI moon landing by releasing an album containing his musical "interpretations of Earth's moon". As you'd expect from an artist of Mills' standing, it's a very good album. Evocative, atmospheric and hugely spacey - this is Jeff Mills after all - the seven-track set moves from scene-setting, string-laden ambient ("Control, Satva and Rama") to sparse, acid-flecked dub techno ("Electromagnetic") via a string of fine cuts that variously touch on electro-fired broken techno ("Stabilizing The Spin"), Steve Reich style minimalism (the brilliant "Lunar Power"), and semi-orchestral electronic positivity ("The Tides").
Review: Like Delsin label mates Conforce and Claro Intelecto, veteran producer John Beltran seems incapable of producing duff albums. "Hallo Androiden", his first full length outing for two years, is another wonderfully atmospheric, melodic and emotive set that recalls the producer's impeccable 1990s output. The nine tracks are as lushly produced as you'd expect, with Beltran effortlessly drifting between eyes-closed ambient techno, lilting electronica, slowly shifting sunset soundscapes and the kind of grandiose, life affirming ambient compositions that have long been a feature of the veteran producer's work. As with much of his output, there are enough intricate details and emotion-stirring motifs to suggest that the album will sound just as good on the 50th listen as it does the first.
Review: In line with the timely reappraisal of all things R&S related, the resurgent Apollo have seen the opportunity to bring one of their most celebrated records back for another round. Aphex Twin's ambient recordings mature magnificently with age, sounding ever richer and more emotive as the rest of electronic music continues to play catch up all around. From the gentle breakbeats of "Xtal" to the aquatic techno lure of "Tha", the airy rave of "Pulsewidth" to the heartwrenching composition of "Ageispolis", every track is a perennial example of how far ambient techno could reach even back then. It's just that no-one quite had the arm-span of Richard D. James.
Sly & Lovechild - "The World According To Sly & Lovechild" (Andrew Weatherall Soul Of Europe mix) (8:25)
Deniro - "Epirus" (6:34)
Psyche - "Crackdown" (5:59)
Hiver - "Paert" (7:04)
Aphex Twin - "Vordhosbn" (4:46)
Review: South Korean star Peggy Gou continues her seemingly unstoppable rise by serving up her first ever DJ mix CD. It's a contribution to one of the longest running series in the business, DJ Kicks, and she's used the opportunity to showcase the depth and variety of the music in her crates. Beginning with the classic early '90s ambient of Spacetime Continuum, Gou flits between humid, mid-tempo Balearic house (her own "Hungboo"), acid-fired downtempo electronica, throbbing 1990 peak-time anthems (Weatherall's ace but largely forgotten remix of Sly & Lovechild), hypnotic techno minimalism, main room throb-jobs (Hiver), pulsating electro, classic breakbeat hardcore, post-dubstep, dark tribal drum jams and sunrise ready Motor City brilliance (Deniro).
Review: Since making his debut six years ago, Sergio Moreira has released countless singles exploring his personal take on drowsy deep house and left-of-centre electronic futurism. Because of that, this debut album feels long overdue. From start to finish, it feels like the set of a producer comfortable in his own skin. While many will be dazzled by the three-part suite at the centre of the album - "Bring Back The Night", which subtly twists and turns over 15 warm, glassy-eyed minutes like a breakbeat-sporting deep house version of a classical epic - there's plenty to set the pulse racing elsewhere. Highlights include the bass-heavy, breakbeat-driven peak-time dubbiness of "One Last Thought", the Motor City techno electronics and shuffling bottom end of "Controlling Transmission" and the hazy opener "From Here To There".
USM1A1 Abrams Exhaust Rises Between The Hands Of Victory (2:40)
Shadow War In Yemen (6:14)
Asymmetric Warfare Studies Group Double Game (6:25)
Review: New York's Dominick Fernow has released no fewer than eight albums of experimental techno and industrial ambience in his Vatican Shadow guise since 2011, all but one of them on his own Hospital Productions label, and now here comes number nine. As ever with Fernow's output, if you're looking for instant podium singalongs or catchy earworm riffs you'll be humming all day, forget about it: this is uneasy listening for the beat-inclined, as industrial FX and fragmented synth melodies merge with stuttering, off-kilter rhythms while track titles like 'Deny Military Involvement' and 'Asymmetric Warfare Studies Group Double Game' hint at the paranoid, dystopic overall feel.
Review: 'The Man-Machine' is closer to the sound and style that would define early new wave electro-pop. Less minimalistic in its arrangements and more complex and danceable in its underlying rhythms. Like its predecessor, 'Trans-Europe Express', there is the feel of a divided concept album, with some songs devoted to science fiction-esque links between humans and technology, often with electronically processed vocals ("The Robots," "Spacelab," and the title track); others take the glamour of urbanization as their subject ("Neon Lights" and "Metropolis"). Plus, there's "The Model," a character sketch that falls under the latter category but takes a more cynical view of the title character's glamorous lifestyle. More pop-oriented than any of their previous work, the sound of 'The Man-Machine' in particular among Kraftwerk's oeuvre had a tremendous impact on the cold, robotic synth pop of artists like Gary Numan, as well as Britain's later new-romantic movement.
Circling Vultures - "Frothing Over The Fruit Of Original Sin" (7:30)
Israfil - "Psy ~ K" (5:56)
Locked In Blue - "Say God" (4:17)
Years Of Denial - "You Should Worry" (5:38)
Joshua Cordova & Sam De La Rosa - "El Gusano Pendejito" (4:34)
Raum-Zeit - "Toni Fahrt Motorrad" (3:46)
Champagne Mirrors - "Evelyn's Doll" (4:02)
Review: With a true curation of artists, this double LP marks the eclectic and passionate works from Public System. The latest in the synth-heavy sludgedown from the ever impressive imprint, invites a new cast of characters into the dungeon dance. The common theme throughout this collection, seems to be wide, slowed down melancholy. Some tracks take a floor-focused jump, while others demand the attentive consumption of a more serene setting. These two discs are packed with dynamic, chugging, and forward thinking jams that make you mesh all things the imprint is clearly passionate for.
Review: Last year, someone set up an online petition calling for Warp to re-release The Other People Place's brilliant Lifestyles Of The Laptop Cafe album on wax. Happily, Warp has responded to the strength of feeling from electronica fans - most of whom bristled at the high online prices for second hand copies - and re-pressed it. Drexciya man James Stinson's 2001 solo set remains a timeless electronic classic; a perfectly pitched and immaculately produced fusion of downtempo electro rhythms, spacey electronics and twinkling synthesizer melodies. In fact, you'll struggle to find a better electro album full stop, making this reissue an essential purchase for anyone not lucky enough to own an original copy.
Review: Since opting to release more music under his given name, DeepChord man Rod Modell has largely stuck to dubbed-out ambience and heady drone soundscapes. His latest full-length is a little different, though, offering up club-focused cuts that mix his usual fuzzy aural textures and dub-fired motifs with up-tempo techno rhythms. By his standards, it's a very forthright set, with highlights including the noise-soaked stomp of "Reiki", the thrusting heaviness of "ITO", the hypnotic slam of "Jade" - where breezy, early morning electronics flutter away above tough drums and a mind-altering bassline - and the boisterous peak-time techno anthem "Scrawler".
Review: "We are excited to finally announce and share 'Presentiment', the second Long Player from The Connection Machine. This release is particularly special for us as it will be the first time in over 20 years that Jeroen and Natasja have put an album out on vinyl. Despite having a string of aliased releases in the '90s on the mighty U-Trax, a 12" during the early days of Carl Craig's Planet E, a remarkable album 'Painless' on Down Low Music, and most recently a series of in demand E.P.s with Lost Trax on Tabernacle, their output has remained tantalisingly infrequent. With 12 tracks that capture their unique and awe-inspiring sound, 'Presentiment' opens you up to a world that only The Connection Machine have access to."
Review: After the stunning Ostati album released on Organic Analogue last year, Georgia's HVL is back with a new album on the label for his home turf, Bassiani. As a resident of the infamous Tbilisi club, he knows innately how to communicate the vibe of one of the world's most widely discussed techno clubs, only this time he's taken a slightly tougher stance. "Eyes In The Sky" has a fierce, paranoid acid edge, while "F12 (Korg Patch Mix)" gets into freaky, cerebral techno territory. There are intriguing interludes and skits, and plenty more dancefloor heaters delivered with an inventiveness that once again affirms HVL's status as one of the brightest talents operating in the loosely defined field of deep techno.
Review: Somewhat poetically, Anthony Naples describes his third album, "Fog FM", as a "house music transmission filtered through fluorescent static, from a station out of place and time". You'll certainly find some blasts of evocative radio static dotted around the album - see the drowsy wooziness of ambient numbers "Channel 2" and "Channel 3", not to mention the pops and crackles wrapped around sub-heavy, stripped back peak-time workout "Unhygenix" - but the lasting impression is of a smartly-produced set of mostly club-ready cuts that subtly doff a cap to many sub-genres of house and techno. It's a superb set, too, with highlights including the wayward techno intensity of "Benefit", the "Brown Album"-era Orbital heaviness of "Purple Iris" and the tough, dubbed-out deep house headiness of "Lucys".
Review: Under the SolarX alias, Roman Belavkin was one of the leading lights of the Russian IDM scene in the mid-to-late '90s, though very few copies of his cassette and CD releases ever made it in to record stores outside the former Soviet Union. Furthermore, this is the first ever reissue of Belavkin's 1997 sophomore set, "X-Rated", an album that remains a firm favourite in the Russian electronic underground. There's much to admire throughout, with Belavkin effortlessly joining the dots between the skittish, angular rhythms of Autechre, Rephlex-esque "Braindance", Aphex Twin style ambient, early Squarepusher-esque "drill and bass" business and hypnotic ambient techno.
Review: You'll struggle to find another LP opener that's quite as striking as "Oh, Lovely Appearance of Death", the stunning ambient-folk cut that kicks off Phillip Sollmann's first album as Efdemin for five years. It's utterly beguiling and features a traditional folk acapella over layers of hushed electronic chords. It sets the tone for an album in which Sollmann effortlessly saunters between atmospheric and droning dancefloor techno ("Good Winds", the 14-minute, Berghain-friendly "New Atlantis"), woozy experimental ambient works ("At The Stranger's House"), Jew's Harp-sporting club cuts ("A Land Unknown"), discordant free tech-jazz ("Temple") and the kind of hazy, traditional music-meets-electronica cuts that have previously been a hallmark of Firecracker's Mac-Talla Nan Creag ("The Sound House").
Review: A big Juno bear hug goes to the folks from Tresor for releasing a string of sublime re-issues this year. The latest is Drexciya's seminal Harnessed The Storm long player, generally a much darker affair than Neptune's Lair, which itself was reissued earlier this year. It is hallmarked by longer, more exploratory tracks, full of sinister twists and turns. The stormy electro thunder of "Digital Tsunami" is perhaps the standout moment here, closely followed by the subterranean squelch of "Soul Of The Sea". "Dr Blowfins Black Storm Stabilizing Spheres" has an eerie crackle that predates the current vogue for dark atmospheric techno by nearly a decade, while the robotic key melody on "Song Of The Green Whale" marks it as the LP's most playful moment. Highly recommended for electro and techno purists alike.
Review: Detroit techno hero DJ Bone is ever prolific these days, with his Differ-Ent alias releasing an epic triple LP release on Don't Be Afraid last year. A Piece Of Beyond marks the second DJ Bone studio album, and it finds him in an exploratory mood. "It Begins" is a unique exercise in synth wobbles and military drum programming, while "The Stalker" heads into the deepest and farthest corners of the quintessential Motor City techno sound. "The Chase" takes on a cosmic, break-infected stance that calls to mind spiritual jazz as much as techno, while there's more classic styles to be enjoyed on "Dreamers 9" and the absolutely stomping "Sweat".
Review: Given the hype that surrounded the release of the first Moderat set back in 2009, we can surely expect more of the same for this second outing from Apparat and Modeselektor. Those familiar with the first album's woozy blend of IDM, Thom Yorke indebted vocal dreaminess, porchlight techno and post-dubstep rhythms will immediately feel right at home. Online reviews have focused largely on II's atmospheric warmth, and the way in which the Berlin-based trio seems to have refined their sound. Both are valid critiques; certainly, there's a maturity and musical complexity to the album that betters much of their previous works. It's not much of a dancefloor set, but that's entirely the point; this is locked-in headphone listening for the wide-eyed generation.
Review: Skee Mask, who only recently was found out to be called Bryan Muller, comes through with his second LP to date, making a wonderful follow-up to 2016's Shred. Compro is, ironically, comprised of a much more explorative palette of sounds, with many corners of the album veering off into otherworldly ambient, often through a striking new-age sensibility. The most impressive element of this album is its flow and evolution across its 12 tracks, sounding a lot more like one single-minded thought rather than a collection of disparate dance-not-dance tunes. The quality of the recording is noticeable, too, with tracks like "Rev8617" or "Via Sub Mids" sounding professional, both in vision and style. Through an intricate collage of breaks, samples, polyphonies, and subtle electronic manipulations, Skee Mask has truly mastered his own art, and is giving a new direction to the wider 'UK rave' sound. BIG.
What Doesn't Kill You Doesn't Make You Anything (4:09)
Darkly Down The Cellar Steps Again (5:02)
Review: John Heckle last released an album on Tabernacle three years ago, but he's been far from quiet since then with his Head Front Panel project diverting his attention towards blistering hard techno. Tone To Voice then represents a return to more melodic pastures with a more diverse selection of tempos and moods to choose from, but still Heckle's innate gift for expressive, dynamic machine music shines through. "Sonic Spectrometer" is a joyous slice of techno-jazz, while "Potential Life" whips up stunning cascading synth lines and pattering hats. At times, there's no need for a kick, and with ample ambient excursions woven into the mix this stands as one of Heckle's most accomplished releases yet.
Review: When it comes to melodic, layered, emotion-rich techno, Tim Jackiw is a master craftsman. While he's demonstrated his aptitude before - mostly via some lauded singles and EPs - we'd argue that "Monuments" proves it beyond a shadow of doubt. It's a wonderful album; a set of club cuts whose spacey electronics, warm basslines, dreamy chords and futurist synthesizer flourishes combine on tracks capable of making the feet move and the heart sing. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the dub techno influenced beauty of "Solar" and the picturesque emotional rush of the near symphonic "Beyond The Family", to the dense-but-dreamy intensity of "Soul Appease" and the analogue chunkiness of "Aerophone", whose raw, angular bassline is offset by some suitably bouncy piano riffs.
Review: Following the series of Drexciya retrospectives on Clone, Tresor has dug their own sizable archives to revisit some of the work James Stinson and Gerald Donald committed to the Berlin institution in their time working together. Having already reissued the Drexciya LP Return To Neptunes Lair, Tresor now present a reissue of The Opening Of The Cerebral Gate, the 2001 LP from the late James Stinson's Transllusion project. Initially released on Tresor offshoot Supremat, this new triple LP edition from the label includes three cuts that were not present on the original vinyl version. Given how much og copies command on the second hand market, Drexciya fans without a copy should consider this an essential purchase!
Review: When Juno Plus spoke to Emotional Response boss Stuart Leath recently, he talked excitedly about his latest time intensive project - trawling through boxes of old cassette recordings from L.A multi-instrumentalist Eddie "Secret Circuit" Ruscha to compile a follow-up to 2012's brilliant Tropical Psychedelics compilation. Predictably, the resulting collection is nothing short of brilliant. Typically eccentric, melodious, atmospheric and bristling with interesting ideas, Cosmic Vibrations delves deeper into Ruscha's archives and comes up with gold. Highlights are naturally plentiful, but keep an eye out for the psychedelic ambience of "Electric Brain", the analogue electronic explorations of "Nova Laser", and "Shockers", an acid-flecked chunk of chiming Balearic deep house with exotic, Arabic touches.
Review: Having established their Ilian Tape label over a wealth of 12" releases these past few years, the brothers Zenker have expanded its remit to include artist albums in the most thrilling of fashions. Their own Immersion LP set the tone early last year, and now it's the turn of fellow Munich-based DJ and producer Skee Mask with the superb Shred. This 12-track set follows a couple of Ilian Tape singles from Skee Mask which marked him out as a producer of real potential but he's really outdone himself on Shred. There is a faint concept for those that want one, an expansion on his interest in snow and glacier caps, but it's easy enough to plunge headfirst and enjoy this LP on the merits of the music alone. Ambient pieces slide into thunderous techno productions and thrilling sideways turns into broken junglist cuts and vintage IDM sounding diversions.
Domenic Cappello - "Not A Festival Track" (Basement mix) (6:57)
Stojche - "Decipher Language" (5:41)
Gauss - "Aperture"
XDB - "Satimak"
Leonid - "Woodwalk"
Life Recorder - "True Moments"
Review: The Verdant stamp of quality is well established by now, but it presses even deeper with the release of this high-grade compilation from a rich cast of subterranean seafarers. Steve O'Sullivan dons his Bluetrain cape for the slow-chugging, appropriately dubbed out meditation of "Sleeping With The Enemy", while Domenic Cappello creates a swooning string-drenched masterpiece out of "Not A Festival Track". Stojche's "Decipher Language" is a snappier affair, while XDB crafts one of his sublime, leftfield techno variations brimming with imagination to match its functionality. At every turn this is a compilation of top-drawer techno crafter with passion and originality - grip it while you can!
Review: Dutch producer Aleks makes the leap to the album format for the ever-crucial Organic Analogue label, showcasing the breadth of his smoky sound from the gorgeous ambient opening track "Void" to the deep tracking tech-dream of "Gone Home". There are some spicier moments to be head, such as the rugged workout "NTH" and the upfront, rolling house thrust of "City Break", but these moments are still smoothed out by a fog of woozy processing, lingering pads and dusty FX that give the whole record a somnambulant quality that feels right at home amongst the standout material that Organic Analogue is rightly celebrated for.