Review: It's been a long time between drinks for Chris Korda, a transgender artist and activist whose last releases of note came on famed electroclash label International Deejay Gigolo way back in 2004. New album "Akoko Ajeji" is very much a surprise return to action, though its melodious, ear-pleasing and accessible blend of house and techno drums, digital synthesizer sounds and cheery post synth-pop refrains is both striking and hugely addictive. Korda's compositions offer subtle nods towards various vintage house and techno styles - particularly turn-of-the-90s deep house and early Chicago jack - but never sound anything less than thrillingly DIY productions giddily made in back rooms and bedrooms over the last decade and a half.
Review: Under the Ekman name, Dutch producer Roel Dijcks has been in devastating form this year, haunting the finer dancehalls with his own distinct brand of dark and nasty electro and techno for Solar One, Abstract Forms and impressive newcomer Berceuse Heroique. Reform for the latter label is perhaps our favourite of the lot but the Nervous EP, Ekman's debut for the splendidly deranged Gooiland Elektro is serious stuff. Both the lead track "Do I Make You Nervous?" and "Hail To The Big Worm" have that grotty Rotterdam squat party vibe that's so appealing about Ekman's productions whilst "Don't Let Them In" mixes the deepset paranoia of a D'Marc Cantu production with brushes of new beat synthetics.
Review: It's been a hot minute since we heard something new from Och, but he's back on Autoreply with a double 12" of high-grade, stripped back tech house shot through with oodles of imagination. "Panamax" is the consummate dubby house track, a true immersion chamber of a track, while "The Sadness" brings a shuffling groove and some peppy key stabs to the table. "The Healer" is a more overtly minimal affair that would sound at home on PAL SL, while "Linear Response Function" keeps things tight and focused with a sturdy rhythmic framework and some spartan piano notes. "Incompressible Flow" has a submerged jazzy undercurrent to it, and "Lovers Roll" gets into that freaky house bounce heard on "The Sadness". Overall, it's another sterling grip of refined tracks from a seasoned pro.
Review: Since it rose, Phoenix-like, from the ashes late last year, revitalized Warp offshoot Arcola has delivered a sting of impressive EPs focusing on "experimental club music". The label's latest missive comes from one of the leftfield techno scene's rising stars, debutant Anastasia Kristensen. There's much to admire from start to finish. Check, for example, "Ascetic", an in turns clanking and chiming chunk of dancefloor IDM that recalls some of Autechre's finest early work, and the low-slung bass and clicking percussion of hypnotic techno workout "LXR Jam". The bounding, bass-heavy clatter of "Donni" is impressive too, though the best of the bunch - for peak-time floors at least - is the sweaty early jungle revivalism of "Ascetic (In Breaks)".
Review: Though perhaps not the most familiar of artists in the ever swelling techno community, Ukrainian techno producer Stanislav Tolkachev has been plying his trade since 2006 and picked up some high profile fans along the way. Everyone from Pangaea and Untold to Call Super and Volte Face have been known to drop some Tolkachev, whilst last year's Simple Is A Miracle 12" for Semantica seemed to open the Ukrainian's production charms to a whole new audience. It's nice then to see Stanislav return to the Spanish techno outpost with Right Angle, a 12" consisting of four tracks that will please fans of both Dozzy's soundscapes and Robert Hood's driving rhythms.
Review: Silent Season have carried the music of Submersion and Mon0 independently before, but now the dub techno producers have teamed up to take their sound onto new plains of exploration. The sound palette is consistent with both their music and that of the label, but the familiar dancefloor tropes have been jettisoned in favour of a more meditative end result, leading in with the achingly beautiful tundra excursion of "Beginning Of The End". From there the album drifts with glacial motion through a range of finely crafted soundscapes, wielding a world of rumbling, harmonious noise in the middle distance without ever losing that seductive dub techno ambience.
Review: It's been some six years since Caroline "Miss Kittin" Herve and Michel "The Hacker" Amato last delivered fresh material together. While we await further news of their long-mooted comeback, there's this tasty EP of previously unheard archive material to enjoy. Made up of tracks recorded between 1997 and '99 - when their production partnership was in its' infancy - The Lost Tracks Volume 1 contains a number of fuzzy, stylish, floor-friendly bangers, from the S&M-themed madness of opener "Leather Forever" and stripped-back electro gem "Nightlife" (a tribute to Berlin clubs of the period, apparently), to the high-tempo acid-loaded freakishness of "Loving The Alien". Top-notch sleaze.
Review: Next up with his take on the electro sound is Firecracker Recordings co-head Linkwood, who looks to Motor City greats like Drexciya and Japanese Telecom on the aquatic future-funk of "Fresh Gildans" which is quite majestic in all its soulful and bass driven feel. On the flip are two deeper and more introspective cuts, with the immersive "Solar Panel" going for a hypnotic ambient house vibe, or the sublime deep techno journey "Another Late Night" taking its cues respectfully from Detroit like on the previous side. Another great EP by this stalwart of the Scottish scene, which the label best describe themselves as designed for the dancefloor, the sofa and all points in between.
Review: It would be fair to say that White Material co-founder DJ Richard's latest full-length excursion is an album of two halves (to mangle a football cliche). Stick on the first slab of wax, and you'll be confronted with a string of dark and moody treats, from creepy ambient interludes to grumpy electro, to mind-altering dark-Italo (see standout "Vanguard") and pulsating, off-kilter electronica (the restless acid pulse, off-kilter drums and paranoid chords of "Tunnel Stalker"). Whack on the second disc, though, and you'll be comforted and calmed by a series of intensely blissful, occasional melancholic compositions that are much lighter and dreamier in tone. Of these, it's the sublime "Final Mercy" and "Ex Aere" that stand out.
Review: Pitch black antics by Greek industrial noise terror (and Liber Null main man) Unhuman, alongside Dutch modular maniac Derk Reneman aka Roberto Auser for this collaboration between imprints Gooiland Elektro and Enfant Terrible out of Holland. Unhuman (Emmanouil Simotas) takes care of the A side of the release, immediately treading the left hand path on the slow burning acid sludge of "Faces Of Death", followed by the seething EBM reduction of "Seven Days". On the flip, Auser lunges straight for the jugular on the brooding and contorted techno experiment that is "Avalon", followed by the pummelling four to the floor grindcore of "Unexplained".
Review: Following up some great tracks on Pinkman, Mannequin and Malka Tuti in recent times, British synth wizard George Thompson returns under the Black Merlin alias - delivering some bold EBM and electro-noir antics for Berlin imprint She's Lost Kontrol. The rusty grind of analogue arpeggios, with minimal rhythms awash in icy trails of reverb plus guttural howls through walls of distortion shall taunt you throughout the sonic contents of the Noi EP. While Thompson sure has a knack for nailing all the hallmarks of early industrial music, he still finds time for the same tribal meditative minimalism found on his Karamika project as heard on the riveting "Noi 2" - one of the EP's highlights.
Review: Here's something to cheer fans of classic Chicagoan deep house: a surprise re-press of Boo Williams and Glenn Underground's much-lauded (and surprisingly hard to find) 1995 collaborative EP on Maad. The release has always been coveted by those in the know partly due to its' surprisingly eclectic nature. So, while there are classic, organ-laced, typically bumpy deep house jams (see "Motion Sickness", the vibraphone-laden "Cronic Groove" and deliciously bass-heavy, acid-flecked "Bee W G5"), the duo also used the opportunity to indulge their techno fantasies. The EP's final two tracks, "Lights Out" and "Stopen Niggaz", are both relentlessly tough, with ragged electronics and bombastic, fast-paced rhythms.
Review: Kenneth Christiansen's Echocord imprint is back and we all know what that means by now: some of the coldest and deepest dub techno this side of the north. This time it's over to Midlands based Tomas Rubeck, who after appearing on a few emerging smaller labels over the last few years makes his big label debut. On "The Blueprint" it's typical of the labels requirements on this dubby and glacial excursion through the coldest of seasons. "Gras" goes for more of a minimal house vibe and has a great groove and swagger about it; kind of thing you could imagine Eli Verveine playing. Finally "Cadence" gets back into cavernous and icy bass therapy, working those dub delays and resonators in tremendous fashion.
Review: Some 25 years after delivering his debut 12", Richard D James hasn't lost the ability to thrill or inspire. By his obtuse standards, the material that makes up the surprise Cheetah EP is actually rather laidback and melodious. "Cheetah2 (LD Spectrum)", for example, sounds like a slow house jam written by robots, while the even deeper "Cheetah7B" shuffles along in a metronomic fashion, seemingly oblivious to the increasingly aggressive World at large. Of course, those trademark skittish IDM rhythms are present - see the B-side's lead cut - and the Cornishman has thrown in a couple of hazy ambient cuts for good measure.