Review: For the latest release on his quietly impressive Greyscale label, Lithuanian producer Grad_U has turned to fast-rising Hungarian artist Zol. The two join forces on collaborative opening cut "Intro", an impeccably spacey and intergalactic voyage into pulsing electronic ambient, before Zol serves up a string of atmospheric dub techno workouts, star-gazing tech-house rubs, bass-heavy minimalist rhythm tracks and clanking, early morning club jams. It makes for enjoyable listening, with the ultra-deep "Fin", hypnotic "Szurke", impressively wonky "Nov1" and intensely blissful "Constellation" - a future dub techno classic in our eyes - standing out.
Review: Since 2016, Stockholm outfit Viagra Boys has offered up a swathe of singles that excitedly veer between heavy post-punk, krautrock and angry, riff-powered alternative rock. "Street Worms", their debut album, boasts the same swaggering, lo-fi approach as their previous singles, zipping between the fuzz-fuelled dancefloor stomp of "Amphetanarchy", the growling riffs and razor-sharp solos of "Shrimp Shack", the mangled sax solos, bellowed vocals and tempo-changing insanity of "Sports" and the low-slung brilliance of "Slow Learner", which boasts far more funk than much of the rest of the album put together. This CD edition includes a quintet of bonus cuts, with the skewed Americana-80s alt-rock fusion of "Beijing Taxi" and throbbing "Special Helmet" standing out.
Casual Violence - "Acceptance Of The Fact At Hand"
Victor Martinez - "Dav To Dub"
Fanon Flowers - "Invisible Life"
Grovskopa - "Haas"
Casual Violence - "Word & Form" (version II)
Grovskopa - "Atopic" (Lag remix)
Grovskopa - "Stinson"
Sect Outro 1
Review: "It's All For You" is a complement to the Sect vinyl catalogue, and a mark of respect to the CD in techno history. Artists known and new swell the ranks, representing the techno forms in the honorable Sect style. Beyond the usual, exceptionally high standard of quality from the Sect roster of artists so far, new artist productions on the first CD include Ben Gibson's "Clamour", a modern take on a Tokyo-style future cityscape, Jeroen Search's "Section A", a physical, forward thinking deep techno triumph and Voidloss' "In The Void" - techno the way it should be made for the 21st century. On CD 2, AnD's "Granular" offers traditional dub aesthetics and modern techno techniques taken to a wholly satisfying next level, while OCH's "Tears" manifest as a dark techno experience of rhythm-led lines of perfection. CV's "Acceptance Of The Fact At Hand" hones hues of colour in aural form, as a subtle vista is painted with strings of haunted beauty.
Review: Modeselektor have never been all that keen on looking back, so it's little surprise to find that they've chosen to celebrate 10 years of their Monkeytown label with an album of brand new cuts. As you'd expect, it's rather good. As well as their own "My Friend The 201" - a rush-inducing fusion of glittering, star burst electronics and weighty bottom-end pressure - highlights include the insanely heavy warehouse flex of Shed's "Rigger", the off-kilter techno breeziness of Redshape's "Dirt Box", a skittish and jumpy workout from German veterans Mouse On Mars and a woozy chunk of experimental ambient/IDM fusion from Anstam.
Hemisphere Dub - "Memorie De Racines" (feat Eder-B)
Ondarituale - "I Segreti Di Una Generazione Di Mezzo"
Rer Repeter - "Dehydration Sequence"
Rainforest - "Light Cascade"
Mystica Tribe - "The Bells"
Review: ROHS! Records' first Dub Affairs compilation won the hearts and minds of many dub techno devotees when it appeared back in 2015. This second volume follows a similar blueprint - think scratchy dub techno, drone-encrusted ambient dub and spacey, intergalactic compositions - and is every bit as essential as its predecessor. Highlights include the fluttering melody lines, ultra-deep sub bass and broken rhythms of Gulls' "Inside Way (Version)", the dreamy, slow and low shuffle of "Caligari's Dub" by Bademah, and the exotic, up-tempo dub-tronica of Ondarituale's vocal number "I Segreti Di Una Generazione Di Mezzo". Best of all, though, is arguably Mystica Tribe's "The Bells", a positively loved-up trip into global dub fusion.
Review: Just under two years after launching in a blaze of modular noise and out-there electronics, Athens-based label Pi Electronics has decided to set up a new offshoot, PEVA, to handle the organisation's first compilation, Variable. They say the idea is to bring together unheard tracks from label artists old and new, with additional contributions from lesser-known local artists and higher profile guest stars. The nine tracks are, by and large, forthright and intense, with highlights including the clanking, acid-flecked industrial techno of JK Flesh's "Chelmsley Wood", the buzz-saw guitars and motorik machine drums of 3.14's "GBNR17", the extreme techno filth of "Spinner" by DAS and the fuzzy, razor-sharp electro heaviness of Damcase's "INKL Rules".
Review: To celebrate a decade of his Token label, Belgian DJ/producer Kr!z wanted to do something rather special. Hence Momentum: Ten Years of Token, a nine-track set of club-ready collaborations from some of the label's most storied artists. It's an approach that's resulted in some genuinely draw-dropping fare, from the slamming, post-jack techno beats, macabre aural textures and intense acid lines of O (Phase) and Rodhad's "Destination Vortex", to the looped computer beeps and skittish drums of Kr!s and Ctrl's "Comets". Elsewhere, Inigo Kenedy and Sigha's "Minor Ascent" is a superb combination of chiming melodies, cut-glass chords and hypnotic drumbeats, while Oscar Mulero and Inigo Kenedy's "Cathasrsis" sounds like a melancholic, creepy and distorted take on early British bleep techno.
Albert Luxus - "In Den Arm Bitte!" (Julian Stetter mix)
Tom Demac - "Serenade"
Jurgen Paape - "Abstrusia"
Reinhard Voigt - "Der Amnn, Der Nie Nach Deutz Kam"
Rex The Dog - "Vortex"
Justus Kohncke - "Mindless Sex Track"
Voigt & Voigt - "Der Schwarm"
Anii - "Ride The Tiger"
Clarian - "Early Life"
Extrawelt - "Pink Panzer"
DJ Balduin - "EWBA"
Anna - "Remembrance" (main mix)
Fahrland - "Yesterday" (Night version)
Patrice Baumel - "Grace"
La Fleur - "Tears"
John Monkman & James Monro - "Pesto Punk"
Blackrachas - "Rotary"
Raxon - "Dark Light"
Yotam Avni - "Track For Agoria"
Jonathan Kaspar - "Renard"
Gui Boratto - "618" (Kolsch mix)
Review: Cologne powerhouse Kompakt may not be talked about as much as it once was, but the label continues to put out high quality electronic music with its own distinctive vibe. For proof, check the 19th annual edition of their now legendary compilation series, "Total". There's much to set the pulse racing amongst the 25 tracks scattered across two CDs, from the shoegaze-influenced haziness of Weval's "Are You Even Real" and the picturesque, piano-sporting dancefloor deepness of Tom Demac's "Serenade", to the neo-trance throb of Rex The Dog, the twisted techno intensity of Voigt & Voigt, and the intergalactic electro/rave fusion of Raxon's strobe lit "Raxon".
Alessandro Adriani - "You Will Not Be There For The End"
Chevel - "Friends Electric"
Lucy - "Starving The Mind"
Lory D - "PRV-HH3-X"
Caterina Barbieri - "Virgo Rebellion"
Neel - "4G"
Review: As the self-explanatory title suggests, the latest full-length excursion from the admirable Stroboscopic Artefacts label brings together new and unheard tracks from some of Italy's most forward-thinking electronic musicians. There's naturally plenty to enjoy throughout, from the hushed field recordings and drowsy ambient melodies of Andrea Belfi's "Spitting & Skytouching" and the deep, hypnotic and percussive flex of Ninos Du Brazil's magical "Noite Atras", to the acid-flecked dancefloor IDM bounce of Lory D and the bustling electro hum of Alessandro Adriani's "You Will Not Be There For The End". Throw in a couple of sublime ambient numbers and you have a superb snapshot of Italy's vibrant underground electronic scene.
Sakamoto: Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (Francesco Tristano rework)
The Mentor (feat Derrick May)
Infinite Rise (feat Derrick May)
In Da Minor (feat Derrick May)
Esoteric Thing (feat Derrick May)
Review: Derrick May's Transmat, a legendary label that has been producing some of the best, most mind-altering electronic music since the late 80s, returns with a highly unexpected album by Luxembourg's Francesco Tristano, an artist who has always had one foot in electronic music and the other in neo-classical. Although this comes as a surprise, it's easy to understand why May would want to associate himself with such a talent; the producer's music is both so varied and well-consrtucted that it must be a dream come true for any artist to remix. In fact, aside from Tristano's own masterful productions on here, from the opening "Sakamoto: Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence" to "Rocco's Bounce" or "Xokolad", Derrick May himself appears across four tunes, all of them reminiscent of his Detroit golden days, and it's great to hear that he hasn't switched to an all-digital set-up. In fact, all the sounds on this superb album sound organic, full of life and, although the arrangements recall many of May's classic tunes, there's something new and compelling about them. Recommended!
Review: It would be fair to say that Tom Ruijg AKA Tracey is an artist on the up. Since making his debut on pal Tom Trago's Voyage Direct label back in 2017 he's developed his sound further via quietly impressive releases on Aus Music and Midland's Intergraded imprint. Now operating on Dial, "Biostar" sees the Dutch producer deliver a debut album of hissing, analogue rich lo-fi treats that draw influence from deep electro, Boards Of Canada style IDM, Rephlex-esque "braindance", distorted industrial music, spacey ambient, acid and rhythmically punchy '80s electro. There's so much going on that it will take a few listens to really sink in, but it's more than worth the effort; as debut albums go, "Biostar" is up there with the best of them.
Review: For the last decade, Submersion has served up a swathe of atmospheric, otherworldly albums that effortlessly blur the boundaries between sound design, dub techno, drone and ambient. The publicity-shy artist's latest effort for Andrea Porcu's ROHS! Imprint follows a similar blueprint, offering up a septet of beguiling, dub-wise soundscapes crafted partly from homemade field recordings (a detailed list, including the dates they were captured, is featured on the sleeve). It's a hugely intoxicating sound soup, similar in ethos to the likes of Stephen Hitchell's Variant and Intrusion projects, with a comparable level of sonic detail and druggy, early morning charm.
Review: A new album from Stefan Laubner under his STL moniker isn't exactly a rare occurrence; At Disconnected Moments is his 14th album as STL, adding to the glut of long players and CDrs the producer has released under his own name and as Lunatik Sound System. However, arriving on Smallville it represents the first STL long player to be released on a label other than Laubner's own Something operation. It also happens to be one of his most engaging and well rounded listens for some time, with the likes of the chunky "Scuba's Motion Dub", the blissful "One Day" and frantic mood of "Amelie's Dub" all proving particularly robust. Highly recommended.
Review: As you're probably by now aware, the latest Special Request album, "Bedroom Tapes", includes some of the earliest music recorded by Paul Woolford in his Leeds home during the mid-to-late 1990s. The tracks were recovered from cassettes the producer rediscovered during a recent house move. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the deep and melodious electro brilliance of opener "Panaflex Sunrise" and the IDM-influenced ambient techno sweetness of "Thermatropic", to the fizzing, stargazing brilliance of "Entropy" and the high-octane, sub-heavy dreaminess of "Double Rainbow", which like a lot of the album draws influence from the likes of B12, Autechre and Boards of Canada. Arguably best of all, though, is the epic techno workout "Xenospin", a slowly rising chunk of rushing Yorkshire futurism.
Review: Under the Special Request alias, Paul Woolford has released some stellar music this year. Astonishingly, "Offworld" is his third album of 2019; it could well be the best, too. It explores different sonic territory too, drawing heavily on electro, futurist Detroit techno, Boards of Canada style IDM and the slick 1980s productions of Jam and Lewis. The result is a stunningly beautiful, spacey and far-sighted set that contains some of Woolford's most emotion-rich work to date - and that's saying something. It also finishes in stunning style with an impeccable remix/re-make of the Grid's "Floatation" that sounds like the best early 90s Orb remix you've never heard.
A Gargantuan Melting Face Floating Effortlessly Through The Stratosphere
Review: Paul Woolford has spent a good chunk of his downtime over the last year or two making Special Request tracks in his pants. So much so, in fact, that he's created enough material to fill four albums, all of which will be released this year. "Vortex" is the first and is, in Woolford's own words, high on "bangers" and low on "conceptual guff". In practice, that means lots of gut-busting low-end frequencies, trippy analogue electronics, razor-sharp rave-style riffs and bustling rhythms that variously touch on electro, early '90s progressive house, breakbeat hardcore, slamming Joey Beltram style techno (see album highlight "Fahrenheit 451") and metallic, delightfully mangled drum and bass ("Fett", whose wonky electronic undulations hark back to early Woolford classic "Erotic Discourse").
Review: Given his prolific nature, we were rather surprised to find that "Shadows of Death & Desire" is actually John Juan Mendez AKA Silent Servant's second album for six years. It's an impressive set, with Mendez offering up a stony-faced, steel-eyed shuffle through industrial-fired machine chug ("Illusion"), mind-altering EBM workouts ("Damage", "Harm In Hand", the throbbing "24 Hours"), icy electronic soundscapes (the vintage Autechre style dancefloor IDM of "Loss Response"), early '80s style Cabaret Voltaire industrial funk (the brilliant "Glass Veil"), and moody compositions where razor-sharp guitars and foreboding electronics envelop particularly skittish electro drums (closing cut "Optimistic Decay").