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.
Stanislav Tolkachev - "While You Are Drawing A Butterfly" (2:10)
Hoavi - "Aya Horizon" (3:57)
Review: Crimean label Krym Mryk returns with its sophomore release: a Various Artists collection putting the spotlight on several top musicians from Russia and Ukraine as well as a few newcomers to the scene. Highlights come fast and thick throughout; we're particularly loving the grinding cyclicality of Rim Menko's "Illusion", beatless yet hypnotic arpeggio workouts ("Amb Day Out" and "November Bad") by Pavel Milyakov (Buttechno), man of the hour Stanislav Tolkachev with slow-mo entrancer "While You Are Drawing A Butterfly" and Hoavi's "Aya Horizon", which closes the LP with its sublime ambience.
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: Perpetual Rhythms continue to offer up fresh variations on the deep house formula with this classy new drop from Taelue. Crooked electro experiment "The 4th Dimension" opens the record up to any number of possibilities, before the forthright pump of "Twin Flame" locks things into a haunting workout. "Rage Against Oppression" takes things in an angrier direction, all ragged and snarling production values with an acid-techno leaning. "A Bleak Moment" provides more space for exploration away from the floor, and then "The Sunken Place" sinks into sinister soundwaves driven by a nervy arpeggio. "Reflections" finishes the EP off with a trip into slow, spaced-out, acidic ambience.
(Let Everybody) Join Hands (It Could Be An American mix) (6:33)
Feel The Power (The Music Can Give) (The House Nation mix) (5:03)
Storm (The Doody Dodgy mix) (5:09)
(Let Everybody) Join Hands (The Latin Love Affair mix) (4:19)
Review: For the first time since 1997, Laurent Garnier's earliest studio productions are available on wax. "French Connection" harks back to 1991, a time when Garnier spent a lot of his time travelling between Paris and Manchester. It was in the latter city that he met Mix Master Doody AKA Dream Frequency's Ian Bland, an experienced producer and studio engineer who co-produced the EP's six cuts. Musically, "French Connection" has stood the test of time better than a lot of dancefloor-focused music from the period. There's something wonderfully naive and glassy-eyed about its endearing mixture of heavy techno rhythms, post-Chicago house beats and loved-up, hardcore-era elements (piano riffs, female vocal samples, and so on). Crucially, all six cuts would slip easily into many contemporary house and techno sets.
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: Puglia, Italy based imprint Out-Er has had quite a year, with releases by the likes of Detroit minimal techno innovator Terrence Dixon aka Population One, British tech house hero Aubrey and Dutch techno legend Orlando Voorn. The label (run by Simone Gatto) now presents an impressive compilation celebrating five years in business and it is rather impressive, if we do say so ourselves and signifies some brilliant prospects on the horizon for 2017 and beyond. Highlights here weren't limited to: Dial Records and Berghain regular Efdemin with the oddball avant garde/techno crossover of "Don't Bang Your Fingers" where its hypnotic groove supports a bizarrely used dialogue from a cooking show. Then, quick: hide your AIRA because The Analogue Cops are here! They give us the slow burning and dusty hardware jam "Speculation", which is very good. Also, don't forget to check the aforementioned Voorn's collaboration with Motor City don Juan Atkins on "Reloaded" for your fix of hi-tech soul.
Review: Few have done more for Norwegian electronic music than scene founder Bjorn Torkse and second wave hero Prins Thomas. It's somewhat of a thrill, then, to see them join forces in the studio for Square One, an album that draws deeply on both producers' love of trippy dub effects, krautrock, exotic Eastern instrumentation and African-influenced percussion. Sticky, humid and skewed, the set contains a few club-ready moments, but for the most part sees the duo create percussive, off-kilter soundscapes that sit somewhere between the loose wonkiness of DJ Sotofett (himself heavily influenced by Torske) and the krautrock end of Prins Thomas's output. Unsurprisingly given the pair's combined talents, it's a very impressive album.
Review: London label Cartulis Music has struck gold with this release, turning to Swiss producer Dan Piu for a much-needed vinyl edition of his 1999 album Self Education. Renamed Living In Fear and featuring a rearranged, remastered grip of 11 tracks, it's hard to believe techno this inventive and original managed to stay as a limited CD release for so long. There's a rough and ready Midwestern techno finish to many of the tracks on offer, but between the tough impact of certain sounds there's a great deal of subtlety to enjoy throughout this album. Surefire floor workouts like "Self Education" meet with playful hip hop experiments to make for a wholly enjoyable, not to mention surprising, listening experience.
Review: Italian expats Yoshi and Sbri run the Libertine imprint out of Berlin and the party of the same name, held down at the iconic Jannowitzbrucke district. Their label brings a renewed focus to often overlooked or even forgotten producers of the vintage techno realm, having previously shone the spotlight on legends such as Justin Morgan aka Ruseden, Ann Arbor's Andy Crosby aka Spesimen of (Infocalypse Records) and Miami electro-bass underdog Gosub. Their attention now focuses on one Scott Edward Hodgson, a London based producer highly active throughout the '90's on his on Beau Monde imprint, in addition to running Out Of Orbit: a sublabel of the legendary Roman imprint ACV, which was operated by the legendary Leo Anibaldi and Robert Armani. Expressive rhythm patterns, otherworldly synth textures plus certain suspense and a distinct aesthetic overall: which is absolutely timeless.
Review: Contort Yourself continue to widen their scope of operations with this, their first dedicated reissue, and they've come in strong. Eschewing the grotty industrial tones of many earlier releases, the label have turned their attention to Dutch curio Muziekkamer, who self-released a small clutch of cassettes at some undisclosed point in the past. The unthinking experimentation contained within these tape jams is shockingly prescient - jagged rhythms, surreal sampling, techno atmospheres and more from a period well before such tropes became common tools for electronic expression. Take a trip into the vivid, imaginative and utterly unpredictable world of Muziekkamer.
Review: Anthony Child claims that the inspiration for his seventh artist album came from using hardware to receive transmissions from far-flung galaxies. He then hooked up with astrophysicist Dr Andrew Read - a former collaborator - to work out the bewildering track titles. That's the concept. The reality is that From Farthest Known Objects is a dense, grainy work. It feels like Child has deconstructed or in some more extreme situations has hacked away at tropes like minimalism, clicks and cuts and dub step to reveal an inner, hidden world. On the first few tracks, this alternate reality resounds to a sluggish pace, amid the crackle and groan of cleaved percussion and tortured subs, but it gradually comes round to stepping, broken beat techno and lunging rhythms. That these also descend into pulverising walls of white noise and nausea-inducing frequency shifts at times also serve as a reminder that Child has tuned into something other or inner-worldly.
Review: Closely affiliated with Nina Kraviz's trip label, Icelandic maverick Bjarki has managed to carve out a unique identity for himself in the hustle and bustle of contemporary electronic music. Following three full-length releases back in 2016, he now appears on !K7 with a new album that shows off the depth and breadth of his idiosyncratic vision. From curious ambient excursions peppered with rich sound design to spooked out boogie and deconstructed techno, sometimes within the same track, Bjarki has ably cemented his reputation as one of the scene's most intriguing operatives. Just take a trip on the fractured breaks and looming pads of "AN6912" and marvel at the originality.
Review: At the moment, little to nothing is nothing about either Visballa or Umummu Records other than the fact that both artist and label are associated with Berlin's Atelier crew. As a gentle reminder, they are the badboys making the dopest music around, under the Adopo moniker - friends of Sotofett, Dynamo Dreesen, SVN et al! Coming through in LP form, Mud HZ is probably the best piece of experimental work that we have heard this year - no lie! Through an odd and off-kilter approach to merging different aspects of the industrial realm under one roof, Visballa has hit the nail on the head when it comes to quirkiness. In fact, there is not much like this on our charts at the moment, both in and out of the leftfield game; it makes all the rest of the 'outsider' field seem stale by comparison. Highly recommended!
Review: The latest release from "distorted rave and industrial sweat" specialist is something of an epic. It boasts two previously unheard tracks - the pitch-black, red-lined electro/techno intensity of the undeniably creepy "Membresi Ekl", and the all-out, mind-melting dancefloor assault that is "For Varden Pikre" - plus a swathe of remixes. We're particularly enjoying the sparse, industrial-influenced machine funk of Max Durante's rework of "Membresi Ekl", Drvg Cvltvre's psychedelic, acid-driven techno remix of the same track, and Martyn Hare's blistering industrial electro interpretation of "For Varden Pikre". Chris Moss's breakbeat-driven acid-rave version of the latter cut is pretty darn tasty, too.
Review: To say that Lauren Halo's peculiar brand of organic-electronic fusion is "acclaimed" would be an understatement. Her 2012 debut LP, Quarantine, was named as The Wire's album of the year. Here, the Ann Arbor raised producer continues to dazzle with another off-kilter selection of curious compositions. Veering from tipsy, near ambient soundscapes (see the unruly "Serendip" and psychedelic "Melt") to clattering percussion jams ("Oneiroi"), via deep techno ("Chance of Rain") and blissful musical simplicity (the piano lament of "Out" and beatless tropical jazz of "Dr Echt"), Chance of Rain is every bit as enthralling, unusual and inspiring as its predecessor. That's high praise indeed.
Review: The reinvigoration of the Borft label overseen by Swedish eccentrics Frak's has provided some of 2013's most exciting musical treats, and this record from Hakan Fridlund's Garonneman project is another hit. Better known under the FDASFDA moniker, it's 11 years since his Fridlund's last release, and sounds as bizarre yet timeless as anything else on the label. Seven tracks long, it covers just the kind of possessed machine music you'd expect, with the hyper neon melodies of "RnB" and odd mix of gabber rhythms and upbeat melodies of the brilliantly named "Saxon the Beast" standing out as particularly brilliant.
Review: Ever since their first white labels started to appear a few years back, we've been big, bigs fans of Russia's Gost Zvuk label. That's because, aside from all the gnarly artwork, these guys are doing things on their own agenda: the sounds on these records are recognisable and yet different. Different in their approach, their style, and their message. On this Pavel 'BUTTECHNO' Milyakov debut, a record that sounds like it's been made by a veteran, we here shards of techno, but the genre is only used as a means of expression, one means to an end in terms of tying these alien sonics together under one groove. We won't describe this music in detail because it simply must be heard to be understood. Album of the week from us, don't miss it. Oh, and check the rest of the label out, it's all solid gear.
Review: Over the last few years, the team behind the Moog Sound Lab has encouraged a range of forward-thinking electronic musicians to come and jam on its obscure (and very rare) Modular 55 System prototype. The latest edition in the ongoing series of session recordings sees intergalactic Afro-futurist Hieroglyphic Being treat us to The Replicant Dream Sequence - an eight-part modular electronic treat that moves from drowsy, surprisingly colourful ambience ("Seq 1") and foreboding deep space soundscapes ("Seq 3"), to dreamy electronica ("Seq 4") and hypnotic EBM (standout "Seq 6", which also features his distinctive spoken vocals), via blistering techno ("Seq 8", "Seq 2"). Unlike many of his own releases, the sound is sparkling and crystal clear, allowing the quality of his compositions and arrangements to shine through.
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: Anders Trentemøller is one of the rising stars of the dance music scene, his remixes and productions have gained critical acclaim from a broad range of DJs and producers including Pete Tong, Sasha, John Digweed, Switch, MANDY, Mylo, Nathan Fake and Freeform Five. Released on the influential Poker Flat label this is set to be one of the definitive releases of 2006. Available as a limited edition double CD and double LP. Trentemøller is currently the most in-demand remixer (recently delivering critically acclaimed mixes for The Pet Shop Boys, The Knife, Royksöpp, Sharon Phillips and Moby) with releases on Naked Music, Get Physical, and of course Poker Flat/Audiomatique.
Review: Following on from last year's God Is Change cassette on Opal Tapes, Butler delivers a dance floor EP of sorts for the Black sub-label. "The Chill" is a droning techno track with a difference; underpinned by chattering percussion and mysterious chimes, it also features the sound of iron bars dropping on a concrete floor, looped to infinity. The melancholic synth riffs that soars through the arrangement has some resemblance of Detroit techno, but it is rooted in too much fuzzy abstraction to sound like a retro copy. The mood changes on "Unrepentant"; there, Butler seeks to relive Chicago's glory days, albeit channelled through a degraded Nation filter. Who knows what he'll get up to next?
Ceramic Hello - "Sampling The Blast Furnace" (4:30)
Digital Poodle - "Soul Crush" (Manie Sans Delire Revision) (5:07)
June - "Idealized States Of Perfection" (3:37)
Review: Some 14 years after volume three first appeared in stores, Suction has decided to re-launch its Snow Robots compilation series. Happily, the quality threshold remains as high as it was first time around. The seven tracks feature a mixture of metallic electro, fuzzy minimal wave and industrial electronica, with occasional inspired forays into tongue-in-cheek electro-disco (Ceramic Blast Furnace's "Sampling the Blast Furnace" - sample lyric: "pouring passion down your throat like concrete") and druggy, ultra-muscular Italo-disco ("Pulsdisco 1.2" by Celldod). It's naturally far more killer than filler, with notable contributions from Mr Reliable himself, Beau Wanzer and former Berceuse Heroique artist Morah.
Review: Jeremy Greenspan and Taraval have been floating around in the Caribou / Four Tet domains over the last few years, with the former having released a sequence of EPs on Jialong and the latter making an appearance on the mighty Text imprint. This new collaboration on Geej, however, is an ambitious mission that neither artist has been in before; each tune on Greenspan & Taraval has been recorded live and direct, with no overdubs or lengthy editing. These analogue synth-drum experiments have simply been cut down to fit onto vinyl format, but this is about as improvisational as you can get with club music, and the results spread out across minimalistic strains of techno, beat-heavy swarms of electronica, and even a little bass science for good measure. A highly recommended affair...