Review: Brawther's Negentropy label has already carried gold star material from Ron Obvious and the man himself, and now it's the turn of debutant producer Zweizig to show off his wares. This assured 12" leads in with the ambient intro "Gewissen" before the crisp minimal funk of "Rhythm Tension" kicks in with its shimmering and shuddering sound design pinging around the dexterous beat. "Zephyr" is a smoky affair with a snappy broken beat and lots of subtle organic matter writhing in the middle distance. "Rehash Repeat" takes things deep and dubby to complete the set, all mellow hiccupping rhythm accents and hazy melodic phrases.
Review: Having previously impressed with two suitably atmospheric EPs on Propersound, Zug has decided to launch his own imprint. This label debut is naturally rather delicious, with the producer offering up a quartet of analogue-rich cuts that effortlessly combine the sci-fi sounding futurism of Detroit with the comforting melodiousness of Larry Heard. Such is the quality throughout that picking highlights is tough, though we're particularly enjoying the gentle grooves and alien melodies of "Constancia" and the suitably dubby, intergalactic pulse of EP opener "Alegria". Elsewhere, "Bienestar" combines bleeping melodies, dreamy chords and shuffling, tech-house style beats, while "Celebracion" sees him wrap far-sighted electronics around a bustling, two-step influenced rhythm track.
Review: Noiztank co-founder Zosima has been surprisingly quiet of late, with his last release of note - the suitably intense and dystopian "Apropos Of The Wet Snow" - dropping back in 2017. As the title suggests "Live Cuts I" is made up of fuzzy, lo-fi workouts that were recorded to tape during live shows in Madrid, Berlin and Vienna. All four are suitably atmospheric and spontaneous in feel, in keeping with the producer's sweaty, hardware-driven performances. What you get is full-throttle industrial techno full of head-mangling distorted drums, rhythmic white noise and - on the clandestine "LC3" and paranoid "LC1" - a sliver of wild-eyed melodic intent. Not for the faint hearted, but well worth your attention if you like your grooves raw, ragged and full-throttle.
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: The rise of Ilian Tape has been piloted by Dario and Marco Zenker with a steady assurance, so it makes perfect sense for the brothers to helm the first long player project from the Munich label. Immersion is a vibrant, atmospheric stroll through their various influences and inspirations with plenty to admire amongst the ten tracks. There is the bustling, leftfield breakbeat techno of "TSV WB" and pounding "High Club" (a no-nonsense dancefloor assault blessed with occasional eyes-closed chords), as well as sublime tech-jazz of "Cornel 21" and pitched-down junglisms of "Innef Runs". Interestingly, there are also a number of crusty, distorted ambient interludes, with "Erbquake" sounding particularly potent.
Review: It's double trouble again from ever reliable Bavarian brethren: Dario and Marco Zenker. The Ilian Tape head honchos seem to look for inspiration from the West Midlands techno scene circa the mid '90s. The splintered, full-throttle machinations of A side cut "Sorting Peanuts" call to mind Force + Form era Surgeon with its stuttered and jarring pace - making equal room for tension and suspense. On the flip, the greyscale factory floor stomp of "Sample Predator" will please fans of the Downwards back catalogue - British Murder Boys and Female in particular.
Review: Argentina's Andres Zacco has form with Ilian Tape, debuting on the Zenker Brothers-helmed label back in 2011. Zacco is back in the IT fold, but this time it's through the label's X Series, a chapter reserved to more spontaneous white label action. As such, "Thaw" is a sublime mass of percussion riding solo on a soundscape, before being punched into shape by a powerful kick drum, while "Quirt" is more of a stripped-back techno slitherer for DJ tool use. Flip the wax and you'll find the weighty kicks and morphing sonics of "Beighty", alongside Ilian Tape's Rupcy's distorted, big room reinterpretation of "Thaw". All killer, no filler.
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: REPRESS ALERT: Uruguay's finest house and techno export Z@p continues his welcome return to active service in the freakier end of the scene with this spot on Cartulis Music. "Tracid" has a clue in its title, and it doesn't take long to detect the brazen 303 baiting taking place through the core of this peppy workout. It's an effective weapon used in just the right way that should get bodies wriggling with approval. "That Break" meanwhile diverts into a kind of braindance territory with the titular drums matched with more wobbly synth leads and spooked out pads, and then "Acid Rhytms" rounds the EP off with a more reflective cut for calmer moments in the dance.
Review: Blending elements of ambient, abstract experimentalism, minimalism and modern classical, Yutaka Hirose's sole LP - 1986's "Nova + 4" - has become something of an in-demand item in recent years. Here it gets the reissue treatment, allowing those of us without deep pockets to wallow in its evocative charms. It's an intriguing affair, with Hirose drifting between beguiling (if unusual) soundscapes (see "Nova", where metallic chimes and gentle piano motifs unfurl over sustained ambient chords), sublime minimalist ambient (the echoing melodies of "In The Afternoon" and cascading bliss of "Through The Windows"), slow burn new age ("Taiko", "Humming The Sea") and deliciously experimental sound collages ("Epilogue").
Review: Osaka's Koshiro "YPY" Hino built his reputation on a series of fearlessly experimental cassette releases, before breaking cover to deliver a 12" of frazzled techno on Nous last year. Zurhyrethm marks his long-form vinyl debut, and contains eight suitably experimental tracks stretched across two slabs of wax. While there are clear tropical influences, a humid feel and nods towards the visceral pleasures of ambient, Hino's greatest strength is his eccentric drum programming. Zurhyrethm's dense - but often subtly mixed - percussive backing dominates throughout, with nods to African and South American rhythms, Sweet Exorcist's C.C.CD-era "clonk techno" (look it up), and the metallic clanking of classic industrial music.