Review: Following some standout solo releases from Rodhad and Recondite, the Dystopian camp take the various artists approach for their fourth release. First on the list is Alex Do, a young DJ who has evidently found kindred spirits in the Dystopian crew, and this EP provides the chance or them to showcase his debut production, "Concrete", a minimalistic combination of rigid kicks and claps, together with eerie morse code bleeps. Dystopian regular Rodhad returns with "The Wall", a fairly epic track which revolves around a slowly swelling tide of monotone synth horns which grow to monolithic proportions. However, the EP's standout moment belongs to Felix K, who leaves the experimental D&B stylings of his usual releases behind for a clattering 4/4 roller filled with his usual blend of tough beats and gentle ambience.
Review: Par Avion collective member Agrippa returns with his first full release since last year's "Mygraine Urgraine". Once again getting playful with his titles, once again covering some vast and unforgiving terrains, each of the four cuts takes you to a different corner; "Squid Girls" is an aquatic bashy piece with its techno tendrils lashing wildly, "Dead Wait" is pure crushed stomps with a crunchy warehouse vibe while "Spice Raiders" takes us deep into techno territory; loopy, paranoid and laced with unnerving sound designs before "Scabs" brings us to a fractured close as the 'hot pick' of the EP (not sorry). Time to get Agrippa yourselves...
Review: Pavel Milyakov has largely impressed since making his debut under the Buttechno alias earlier this year, delivering a pair of 12" singles that gather together short, hardware-driven experiments in a variety of dystopian styles. Here, the Russian producer debuts under his given name, once again flitting between dark and spacey dancefloor workouts, bleak broken techno, macabre electro, wonky IDM and panicky ambience. Despite the stylistic shifts, the EP hangs together impressively, thanks in no small part to Milyakov's penchant for industrial textures, tape echo and haunting melodies. If you're into the releases of L.I.E.S and Berceuse Heroique, you need this in your life.
Review: When a hand-stamped Plus8 record - the legendary Canadian techno imprint's first vinyl outing since 2012 - arrived in stores last month, it naturally set tongues wagging. While there was no artist credit, it bore all the hallmarks of Richie Hawtin's stripped-back, drum-machine driven outings under the Plastikman alias. This speedy follow-up comes from a similar place, aesthetically, and sounds like a pair of recently unearthed 808-and-909 jams from the early '90s. Both "Purrkusiv" and "Gymnastik" are deliciously percussive, offering little more than expertly programmed percussion and heavy, woozy basslines. Hawtin, if it is he, has always been able to create gold out of a handful of rhythmic elements, and both tracks fall into this category.
Review: ** Re(condite)press ** Ever a reliable source of restrained and chilling excursions into experimental techno, Recondite steps up to the burgeoning Dystopian label and brings a selection of tracks that fit the labels implied ethos like a glove. "Liberia" in particular stalks on a broken beat that is just barely audible underneath the clangs and decays of delicate industrial noises, exorcising all manner of minimal demons to an uneasy end. "Cleric" is more forthcoming with a solid 4/4 rhythm and a heartfelt arpeggio but still the vibe is quite a bleak one. "EC10" gets no sunnier, instead pitting morbid synth notes against each other while the rhythmic elements tick into the mix progressively with a healthy amount of weight behind them. "Equilibrium" rounds proceedings off with another study of planting melancholic moods within sterile textures, while those quiet but perfectly pitched drums provide the necessary framework.
Review: The Zenker Brothers and their Ilian Tape venture get stronger by the minute, and here Marco flies solo with this latest EP, sounding in utterly rude health with it. "Geezin" is a distinctive opener, ditching standard 4/4 propulsion in favour of an airy drum machine arrangement infected with the slightest flurries of hardcore breaks and offset by wistful synth patterns. It's a curious combination that works magnificently, but for those wanting something a little more direct "Splifer" is on hand to deliver a more classically Zenker techno mantra. "Darai" brings the swing back in fine style, throwing down a chunky stomp to match the sizzling hats, and then "Lubiana" wrecks the surroundings with its magnificent pummel of low end percussion and gritty production values.
Review: Teste are back, but not without reminding us why they are so revered. Their track "The Wipe, originally released in 1992, is often credited as a forbearer to a style of techno described as bassline driven, and a style long championed by Munich label Prologue. So before Teste release any new music, Edit Select has extended their famous cut so the wormhole experience of "The Wipe" can last all the more longer. The real treat though is "Ascender", a brand new production between Teste and Edit Select which is similar to "The Wipe" only it swaps foreboding sounds for something lighter and the results are transcendental.
Review: Ilian Tape continues to be code for "absolutely killing it mate" with the Zenker brothers introducing us and you to the production talents of Sciahri with the Mysterious Love 12". Spend some time with the sound clips here and you'll be hard pushed to believe this is Sciahriar Tavakoli's debut 12" as Sciahri, such is the standard of productions. Tavakoli's stated interest in the loop techno pioneered in 90s era Birmingham is very much evident on a cut like "The Dream Is True" but there's some nice little touches slipped in that give it some true personality such as the spin back in the breakdown. The title cut is a stern faced dubby number that just tunnels and tunnels away, whilst there's a cheeky strut to the way Tavakoli implements the filters on "Mind". The final track "Emblema" is the kind of techno number you want to drop right when everyone has forgotten their names.