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: 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: There's a certain mysticism that hovers around Piramide Registrazioni, with its occult symbolism, mysterious artists and fuzzy, vintage sound. Label protagonist Xinner has been previously spotted alongside S. Moreira on Phonica Records, but here is sharing valuable wax space on Piramide 2 with Autre and Hawaiian Chips. Autre's version of old-skool deep house has an interesting urgency about it, and Hawaiian Chips turns out shimmering electro of the highest order. It's Xinner's tracks that stand out the most though, with synths straining under the weight of their own wobblyness and beats that punch out in clouds of reverb fog.
Review: After Gunnar Haslam inaugurated Kalvanic Languages with his deep-minded techno styles, now it's up to supposed newcomer Bill Westerby to follow up with another round of elevated machine learning. "K-Stream" was a smart choice for the lead track, bubbling along on a warm acid line and shuffling a wealth of dubby processing around in the middle distance. "Down A Back Alley In Cholon" is a slightly more wound up affair with a bleepy lead and a firmer jack powering the drums, but the end results are actually more meditative than that description might have you believe. "Caye De Crabe" is a more overtly tripped out affair with polyrhythmic phrases weaving in and out of each other while Westerby lets rip on the parameter tweaks in a fine display of machine wielding prowess.
Review: After a strong run of releases between 2013 and 2014 that saw the likes of Hakim Murphy and Mark Forshaw grace their grooves, III Rivers are back in action with a sterling new effort from apparent debutant producer Dane Weaver. The techno foundations of the label sound as strong as ever on "Atom Soup," which charges ahead on firm but malleable arpeggios with an acidic undertone. "In The Clear" is a more wriggly affair with a swung groove and plenty of off kilter delights for wonkier dancefloors. "A Brief Trip To Space" opens up the B side with some delightful anchorless tones, and then "French Stu" burrows deep into the outer realm of machine manipulation in a gritty demonstration of leftfield techno.
Zombies Under Stress - "Maan Zal Zijn" (Svengalisghost remix)
Mark Forshaw - "Submission"
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Contort Yourself has once again gathered the best and boldest from past and present for its fourth EP. To begin with we have the grimacing visage of Volition Immanent, an intense live act made up of Parrish Smith and Mark Van de Maat (Knekelhuis). Behind rawkish distortion, splintered beats and acrid bars screams a boiled anger; a track spitting on the divides of punk and electronics. Nastiness is taken up a notch as noise ne'er-do-wells Zombies Under Stress take over. Static is bent and doubled across thick chords and collapsed clap in the 1986 "Maan Zal Zijn" before the raw and raging battery of "In Onze Tijd." L.I.E.S. regular Svengalisghost grapples with "Maan Zal Zijn, channelling the original's rage into a mechanical monster. The 12" is bookended with bite as Mark Forshaw (Tabernacle/Berceuse Heroique) closes with the tortured and torrential thump of "Submission." A callous, caustic and fervently cruel EP.
Review: Newcomer Tom Dicicco aka Veyg presents an ear snagging selection of leftfield beatdowns here for adventurous spinners on the fringes of the party. "Mutual Romance" is a quivering, shimmering trip through crooked house beats and crunchy yet dubby synth flourishes to delight the mind. "Virgo Love Affair" has a sweeter lilt, but it's no less wayward in its execution, but then "Filling Pieces" heads into more explicit deep house territory with some blissed out melodic content riding atop a deep diving US-flavoured rhythm section. "How We Live" ramps up the meandering dub processing, with tripped out filter sweeps and panning lending a psychedelic edge to this smoked out joint.
Review: To date Ion Dumitrescu's Utopus project has only appeared on compilations, but now it scores the space in which to roam free across a whole EP that shines a light on this most promising of Romanian talents. P-Balans is the perfect place to house such wares, carrying the country's minimal love affair into intriguing new creative realms that deal in broken beat, electro and more outwardly experimental fare. "Southology" is a particularly fractured jam peppered with playful synths and tumbling drums, while "The Vision" takes on a shamanic techno stance. If you're craving propulsive tracks loaded with personality then hit up Utopus and you won't be disappointed.
Review: Having previously impressed with vivid blends of cosmic R&B, skewed space-pop, glistening post-ambient soundscapes and mangled, synth-laden grime, rising star Throwing Shade (AKA producer Nabihan Iqbal) demonstrates her dancefloor side with a killer 12" on Happy Skull. "Chancer" and "Blanx" both retain Iqbal's uniquely intergalactic aesthetic,whilst flitting between jacking, Chicago-influenced house rhythms and jazzy, off-kilter dancefloor grooves. Synths sparkle, while vocal snippets drift in and out of the mix. The 12" is completed by a riotous, predictably heavyweight remix from Kowton, whose guttural techno grooves are peppered with cut-up samples of Iqbal's distinctive, dreamy vocals.
Review: Galcher Lustwerk and Alvin Aronson turned many a head with the elegant sophistication of their collaborative album Scenes (2012-2015), which landed on Lustwerk's own label last year. Now the duo are back with more goodies from their Studio OST project, and once again the fusion between gossamer threads of melody and delicately crafted machine rhythms is evident throughout this 12". "Eventide" comes as a full blown track and a sumptuous beatless version, while "Ascension" has a dubby original and useful drums-only cut, making this record both functional and an absolute delight to listen to.
Review: The Jaunt Records 10 years series shores up with the Land installment featuring another four adventurous souls that have the spirit of deepest techno in their bones. Stojche lets lush Motor City synths lead the way on the energetic "The Exchange" before AWOL gets into an intricate broken beat groove on the stunning "54.973379, -1.614705". Luke Hess brings some unabashed acid gurgles to the front of the mix on "TDY" and then Deep'a & Biri plot a course for dubby waters with the growling tones of "Pilgrim".
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: The Shahr Farang label is always an interesting one to check in with, sometimes veering towards fragile ambience as much as intriguing beat constructions. Here, label mainstay Sohrab invites Erik Jahaali to join in on the tough yet atmospheric thrust of "Industriegebiet", before he goes it alone on the moody beatless blanket of sound that is "Fasseleh". Jahaali is back on board for "Skypainter," which pivots around dusty pads and subtle, snaking rhythms in the deepest techno tradition. "Dayi Mohsen" is the surprise of the record, dropping into a Mo Wax style funk that should soothe all manner of chill out room scenarios.
Review: Hot on the heels of his inaugural release in January, Braiden introduces Slewis, a new producer on his emerging Off Out label. After years of honing his craft in the studio and playing in experimental bands, London born Slewis makes his mark on his debut with two equally bold dancefloor cuts. Group V opens with an extended twisting cacophony of synthesizers before breaking down into metallic driving machine funk. On the flip, Despot delves deeper down the rabbit hole as EBM influenced sounds and syncopated claps dance around a bed of paranoia, leading to a tense breakdown populated by a flurry of spasmodic drums.
Review: Silas & Snare continue the heat on Madam X's Kaizen with their second single on the label this year. As always there's no letting up in terms of aesthetic, melting pot and energy. All sitting somewhere in the techno/hardcore/dub axis, "Pressure" lives up to its name with a rolling break, and warped grime basses, "Dreamscape" creates intensity with a loopy vocal hook and densely coded sense of tension while "Whistle Blower" brings us home on a deeper, more broken tip where noises aren't all what they seem. Feeling the pressure yet?
Review: Hailing from the dark and mysterious world of Bunker Records, Shemale makes a welcome return after many years of silence with this fantastic release on Tabernacle. "Star Chamber Summoning" sets a powerful tone - this is ambient music that demands attention through its sheer force of presence. "Way To Hyperborea" actually taps up some kind of beat structure, but it still behaves like a wayward backroom track with its undulating bassline and gravelly, brutally submerged beat. "Shores Of The Western Sea" is all analogue soundtrack bombast of the finest B-movie kind, and "Wisdom Of The Stars" strikes a more nightmarish note in its use of discordant synth drones.
Review: SH2000, a mystery artist whose been busy keeping himself under the radar, returns to Volking Music with another EP (check the guy's Ethereal Sound release for a true lesson in deepness!) and it's two tracks of utter symphonic beauty. "Track 1" releases a steady, driving kick beneath airy, delayed sonics and dreamy melodies, while on the flip, "Track 2" heads into total abstraction thanks to a starry landscape of atmospherics gliding left, right and centre without the help of any beat or bassline. Breathtaking excursions into the ether.
Review: Meanwhile returns having celebrated its 10 Year Anniversary, not by releasing a swanky box set, but by taking a year off. First release on the fully rejuvenated meanwhile is from Sen AKA John Shern who forms part of the Satellite Religion collective along with G.r.i.t, Future Thought Tapestries, Channel 73 and Space_ci. Here he delivers 25 minutes of deepest machine music spread over 2 tracks. A side Future Thoughts Jazz is a deep drifting Detroit infused journey through the far reaches of outer space, while the B Side Wars of Truth(reseen) is an epic slice of heavy clanking industrial rhythms and deep textures. The release is also the first to feature artwork commissioned by sometime Meanwhile recording artist Samuel Van Dijk aka Mohlao, Inward Content, VC118a, Multicast Dynamics. So, both sonically and visually this release sits perfectly within the meanwhile catalogue of quality not quantity.
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: Guy Tavares makes a rare appearance on his own Bunker outlet under the Schmerzlabor alias. We're pretty excited to say the least given the fact that Tavares releases music once in a blue moon, and instead prefers to use the label as a platform for other sewer dwellers to excel. Four tracks of bitterly uncompromising steel funk, noise-fuelled techno driller-thrillers. Sounding like the inside of one of Tavares' famous bunker raves, the air is humid and drenched with fuzzy distortion, where beats collide and contort into sweltering bundles of dancefloor noise. A bloody bunch of chest-bursters, hawk-nosed and machine-licked. Viciously recommended and ludicrously unmissable. Bunker wins again.
Review: Valcrond Video, the label run by sound and image artist Luke Wyatt (Torn Hawk), Apresents VV-013 Russo's ""Wild Metals"". A
Russo (Ari Russo) is an NYC based multi-artist whose engagement with abandoned media finds an outlet in the video bursts he culls as OfficeFern. As a programmer, he's produced innovative music generation tools such as the Diamond Arpeggiator. He returns to his own music with this collection of challenging and transporting structures.A
Wyatt and VV are eager to endorse Russo's latest report on crossmodal perception, a true exercise in synesthesia.A
""Wild Metals"" sounds like ferns and orchids infiltrating a tableaux of black plastic electronics, the breed of black plastic that Russo and Wyatt both found sinisterly inserted into the grid of their childhood. It provided the skin for some of their favorite toys, and its general resonance was aligned with the fast cars, women, and architecture that dominated their imaginations.
Review: There's only been one other release to date on the aptly titled Night Sea Journey, whose M.O. is, "focused on simplicity." The Chicago label started life with label heads Garrett David and Colin Johnson, and now Adam Rowe has come to join in with his own take on simple approaches in ambient and deep house. "9_27 (edit 1)" may have a lovely sub bass propelling it, but the languorous quality of the keys makes it feel almost static in the best possible way. "8_27 (edit 1)" welcomes some needlepoint drum machine rhythms into the mix, preferring a broken beat over anything too straight. "Nite Houss" has a similar mysterious charm you might hear on a Real Soon record, while "Hanging Lake" swerve into more ambient territory again, with spectacular results.
Review: Refracted is on a mission to keep the sound of Berlin techno hard and uncompromising, and as this third installment on the label rolls into earshot it's clear that he knows exactly what he's doing. "Collider" is a fearless exploration of relentless, cyclical rhythm and intensity for complete psychological abandon. Meanwhile "Neo Cavern" slows things right down to a mystical, percussion focused lull that calls to mind the poised menace of Shackleton, and then "Acidity" pushes the energy levels back up with a punchy 303 workout for the looped-up generation. Pure in their vision and deadly in their execution, these tracks confirm Refracted's rising status within the field of uncompromising techno.
Andy Rantzen - "The Dial" (Itch-E & Scratch-E mix)
Laccy - "Spectrum Of Vibrations"
Laccy - "Coincidence Of Opposites"
Review: The fourth installment on Spinning Plates comes from Andy Rantzen and Laccy, featuring a wealth of off-beat techno adventures for wayward souls. Rantzen is an Australian producer with a history remixing the likes of Severed Heads and working alongside Paul Mac as Itch-E & Scratch-E. His lead track "Digital Elf" is a stripped a raw beats n' bleeps workout, while "The Dial" finds Mac chipping in as they rework the track into a deadly old-skool burner for lovers of bleep techno. Laccy has only had one prior outing to date, but sounds in strong form on the sleek and crafty "Spectrum Of Vibrations" and delightfully freaky "Coincidence Of Opposites".