Review: Earlier in the year, modern minimal wave and coldwave hero Marie Davidson signed a high-profile deal with Ninja Tune. Here, she makes good on that contract, following a couple of killer singles with what could be her strongest album to date. After setting the tone with clandestine, tongue-in-cheek opener "Your Biggest Fan" - a creepy spoken word cut taking aim at stalker-line fans to the accompaniment of heavy analogue synth bass and creepy computer bleeps - Davidson giddily flits between elastic dancefloor workouts (the brilliantly sleazy "Work It" and mind-altering "Workaholic Paranoid Bitch"), attractive post-EBM instrumentals (the psychedelic and fizzing "Lara"), meditative ambient melodiousness ("Day Dreaming"), bizarre experimental weirdness (the suitable dystopian "The Tunnel"), and stylish analogue pop (the whispered vocals and off-kilter early morning funk of "So Right").
Review: Is there a more forward-thinking and proudly distinctive outfit in contemporary electronic music than Modeselektor? Certainly, the German duo's latest album - their first studio set for eight years - suggests that they have few competitors for this crown. Underground but accessible, diverse but consistent thanks to the pair's fuzzy-but-polished production, the set sees them showcase a range of cuts that expertly meld club-friendly beats and sounds - think grime, techno, post-electro, acid house and the punchy-but-rubbery rhythms of UK funky - with skewed pop hooks, oddball vocals, hazy electronics and a big dollop of experimental intent. As you'd expect, the results are little less than superb.
Review: Somewhat surprisingly, this collaborative album had its roots in a 2013 request from Michael Mantra for dub techno and ambient dub stalwart Mr. Cloudy to remix tracks from his Silent Season-released 2013 LP "Light In My Head". Six years later, and after sending parts and versions back and forth, the pair has conjured this set of lengthy, deep and mind-altering excursions. Mr. Cloudy provides versions of the collaborative "White Dub": an ultra-deep, spaced-out "Remix" that smothers a gentle, slowly shifting ambient dub rhythm in heavily processed snatches of field recordings and atmospheric aural textures around and a sparser, more spaced-out "Edit" that's closer in tone to Mantra's otherworldly, dub-influenced soundscapes. Sandwiched in between you'll find a hypnotic version by Mantra that was partly created using music concrete techniques.
Review: Berlin-based Canadian Scott Monteith has released many albums over the course of a near two-decade career, though few are quite as focused and laden with meaning as Wax Poetic For This Our Great Resolve. At heart, it's a political record, with each track featuring spoken word pieces or poetry written and delivered (in a variety of languages) by one of Monteith's music pals. Whether his collaborators are musing on the nature of democracy or telling a political parable, their words subtly rise above a sequence of brilliant backing tracks that variously touch on dub techno, melodic deep house/techno fusion, basement bothering post-dancehall riddims, hypnotic organic/electronic fusion and hazy, early morning ambient. As a result, this could well be the most varied and enjoyable Deadbeat album yet.
Review: Over the last four decades, we've come accustomed to veteran electronic experimentalist Uwe Schmidt surprising us with each successive album. Even so, we were still pleasantly surprised by his latest Atom TM release, whose title - Walzeryklus ("Waltz Cycle") - offers a hint to his latest inspiration. Recorded with angel-voiced singer Lisokot, the album is entirely made up of tracks recorded in the 3/4 time signature of classic waltz. Naturally, these waltzes are unlike anything you'll have heard before, variously taking in neo-classical inspired ambient, eccentric left-of-centre synth-pop, bubbly electronica, fizzing Rephlex style "Braindance" and even a gtouch of wonky, mind-altering techno.
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: Fluxion's Vibrant Forms series was launched by Basic Channel offshoot Chain Reaction at the tail end of the '90s, and gathered together previously vinyl-only cuts and previously unreleased tracks. On this third volume, the Greek producer has decided to take a different approach. In his words, this is a "proper album" rather than a compilation. It's typically atmospheric and immersive, offering up tracks that nestle somewhere between minimal techno hypnotism, smoker-friendly dub techno, and deliciously spaced out ambient dub. Rhythmically, it's a little more eclectic and mixed-up than we've come to expect, but his core values - use of space, tape delay and lo-fi aural textures - remain in tact throughout.
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: Alongside regular studio partner Andreas Baumecker, Sam Barker has released a swathe of admired singles and a couple of on-point albums on Ostgut Ton. Here he returns to the much-loved German imprint with his most significant solo release to date: a debut album of drowsy, sun-baked electronic positivity that expertly melds elements of hazy ambient, dub techno, off-kilter electronica and the classic kosmiche synthesizer soundscapes associated with Tangerine Dream. It's a lot less dancefloor-focused than much of his previous material, but that's not a criticism: indeed, the fact that it's warm, opaque and prioritizes fuzzy, slowly shifting musical movements is the album's greatest strength.
Review: In accordance to the original concept of Polegroup founder Oscar Mulero, the latest volume in the label's ongoing Unknown Landscapes mix series offers up an "atmospheric and distinctive" journey through previously unheard music, this time mixed by label regular Lewis Fautzi. Beginning with the dark, intense and slowly creeping intensity of Christinne's "3562", Fautzi brilliantly joins the dots between clandestine, mind-altering dancefloor techno, buzzing rhythmic workouts, hypnotic psychedelic soundscapes, distorted drum jams, wild acid tracks and industrial strength body music, before concluding with arguably the most gripping and mind-altering cut of all: Adriana Lopez's pitch-black "In Mist".
Review: Back in 2008, noted experimentalist Alva Noto began a sporadic series of albums that were far more focused on dancefloor-inspired rhythms than his usual eccentric and inspiring fare. Unieqav is the third and, we're told, final part of the series. The album is apparently meant to be a sonic representation of an underwater dive, a conceptual theme which manifests itself through the storied producer's use of deep and atmospheric chords, fluid and occasionally glistening electronics, and rhythms that evoke images of ever-deeper dives into the dark, cold depths. Rhytmically, there are nods to electro, IDM, dub techno and Autechre, though the mood remains laidback and intoxicated throughout.
Review: Irish duo Lakker have been on something of an epic musical journey over the last decade, beginning life as an experimental noise and industrial outfit (delivering an overlooked debut album in that style back in 2007), before expanding their sound to take in a far wider range of sounds and influences via 12" singles for Blueprint, Candela Rising and R&S. Here, they deliver their sophomore set, Tundra, a collection of intoxicating, atmospheric electronic compositions that joins the dots between early Aphex Twin style IDM chaos, creeping electronica, dystopian ambience and Actress style machine jams. It's hardly the cheeriest record you'll hear this year, but it's certainly a very good one. It suggests that we'll be hearing a lot more from Lakker in years to come.
Review: To coincide with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Berlin club Tresor, Juan Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald have released a second Borderland album together. It begins in ominous mode, with the title track's brooding bass tones casting a long, dark shadow, but the pair soon find a way to break away from the gloom with the mesmerising chords and heavy rhythm of "Lightyears" and the wonderfully spacey Detroit techno of "Riod". Both "Odyssey" and "Merkur" push the tempo back down but keep an emphasis on hypnotic, woozy textures, snappy drums and jazzy tones, while "2600" shows that Van Oswald hasn't lost his ability to craft dub-heavy, dreamy techno.
Review: Mancunian legends Graham Massey and Andy Barker reunite for the first 808 State album in 17 years. They recorded the new opus "Transmission Suite" in the Granada studios (where they once performed live on television 30 years ago) and looked to their hometown's club scene as their main source of influence - along with the timeless aesthetic of Detroit which has always influenced their style. Across this collection of "sonic landscapes" (as described by Massey) you'll hear the booming acid electro of first single "Tokyo Tokyo" and "The Ludwig Question", through to off-kilter jams like "Westland", futurist house grooves of "Ujala" and a modern reboot of classic "Angol Argol".
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".
Review: French techno legend Terence Fixmer returns with another killer EP for Ostgut Ton since 2017's Force EP. The Planete Rouge head honcho follows up releases on aufnahme + wiedergabe, Novamute and Jealous God - so you know what to expect from the man here: bold, industrial techno loaded stright off the factory floor. From the grinding and textural hypnotism of "Shout In A Black Hole", the Millsian sci-fi aesthetics of "Fury" or the classic industrial noir of "Accelerate" to the slow burning EBM sleaze of "Expedition" - Fixmer displays yet again that he's competently consistent at whatever style he chooses throughout this riveting extended EP.
Review: After years spent slowly building his reputation, 2016 has seen Monoloc - AKA Frankfurt producer Sascha Borchardt - hit the big time. This sophomore album - his first for four years - follows hot on the heels of well-received EPs on Soma and Hotflush. It's an undeniably atmospheric affair, with Borchardt smoothly moving between dark and evocative ambience, macabre techno, moody electronica, foreboding experiments, and creepy, post-dubstep bass explorations. While the overriding mood is naturally ghostly and occasionally intense, he finds time for moments of picturesque clarity, not least the wonderful, string-drenched IDM of "Gently Falls" and melancholic fluidity of closer "Ground Disorder".
Review: Over the last few years, the team behind the Moog Sound Lab has encouraged a range of forward-thinking electronic musicians to come and jam on its obscure (and very rare) Modular 55 System prototype. The latest edition in the ongoing series of session recordings sees intergalactic Afro-futurist Hieroglyphic Being treat us to The Replicant Dream Sequence - an eight-part modular electronic treat that moves from drowsy, surprisingly colourful ambience ("Seq 1") and foreboding deep space soundscapes ("Seq 3"), to dreamy electronica ("Seq 4") and hypnotic EBM (standout "Seq 6", which also features his distinctive spoken vocals), via blistering techno ("Seq 8", "Seq 2"). Unlike many of his own releases, the sound is sparkling and crystal clear, allowing the quality of his compositions and arrangements to shine through.
Review: For the first time since 2016, Jamal Moss has pitched up on Soul Jazz with a typically eccentric and mind-altering full-length excursion. As you'd expect, The Red Room is another triumph - an inspirational collection of otherworldly and melodious cuts that effortlessly combine elements from Moss's many major inspirations. One minute, you're wigging out to his jacking, piano-heavy fusion of gospel house and synth-jazz ("The Seduction Syndrome"), the next he's laying down a chunk of deep space ambient with Terry Riley synthesizer cycles ("Awake and Energize"). And so it goes on, breathlessly joining the dots between Sun Ra, Juan Atkins, Adonis, Steve Reich, L.I.E.S and Jeff Mills while sounding thoroughly different to all of them.
Review: In the words of Axel Willner himself regarding his fifth studio album "The Follower is about old myths, finding utopia and how mankind repeatedly makes the same mistakes over and over". The title track is fairly stomping acid techno that hypnotises you with its loopy and sinister repetition until the snare drum and organ sets in around the five minute mark; transforming the track dramatically. There's also some stylish electro-pop noir in the form of "Pink Sun" while "Monte Verita" or "Soft Streams" have that classic Kompakt sound ie: ethereal and dreamy house journeys. We particularly enjoyed the droney shoegaze electronics of "Raise The Dead" and the 14 minute long closing epic "Reflecting Lights", an ambient house journey that even The Orb would be impressed by.
Review: There should be more than a few techno fans getting rather excited right now. You see, Donato Dozzy and Nuel's Aquaplano Sessions is something of a "holy grail" for tribal-influenced minimal techno collectors. Originally released over two 12" singles on the short-lived Aquaplano label in 2008 and 2009, the material has long been held in high regard - so much so, in fact, that copies of the original vinyl pressings are extremely hard to find. This reissue from Spectrum Spools is great news for anyone who missed out first time round. While there are some immaculate deeper moments (see the becalmed dreaminess of "Aqua 8"), it's the robust, aggressive, bass-heavy and occasionally intense tracks that really stand out.
Review: As the Houndstooth roster becomes increasingly diversified with age, so Call Super remains the label's brightest star. Responsible for inaugurating the Fabric-housed operation, J R Seaton has subsequently gone on to deliver some of their best 12" offerings and the time feels right for the Berlin-based producer to show his hand at full length albums. In contrast to the techno-focused approach of his Call Super 12"s, Suzi Ecto finds Seaton expanding on his palette with 11 tracks that veer wonderfully between moments of electronic poignancy and more thrusting fare. Spend some time with Suzi Ecto and you'll find it to be one of this year's most rewarding listens with new favourites emerging with each cycle - "Raindance" is the current fave here at Juno HQ.
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: 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.
Review: In recent times, Sergey Barkalov has begun to look back over his vast discography and re-release selected albums. Space of Variants first surfaced on Germany's Confineless Recordings back in 2012, and here gets a deserved reissue on the Russian producer's own label. It's undoubtedly amongst the ambient and dub techno heavyweight's finest releases, and offers a near perfect balance between deep space textures ("Intention"), dubbed-out ambience ("Reduce", "Cloudy Spaces"), and minimalist dub techno ("Space of Variants"). Like the original CD release, it also boasts a trio of reworks of "Space of Variants": a thrillingly horizontal dub techno rework from Sub Made, a more fluid and positive ambient dub rendition from Desove, and a quietly hypnotic and trance-like rearrangement by Arkhaious.
Review: Given his length of service and the sheer volume of music he's put out, it would be fair to say that a Jeff Mills career retrospective is well overdue. Happily, as "best of" compilations go, "Sight, Sound & Space" is up there with the best. The three discs boast no less than 42 tracks plucked from Mills archives - and those of his Axis Records imprint - with the accompanying 50-page booklet containing detailed commentary on each by the man himself. It's a superb package for both fans and newcomers alike, with the decidedly intergalactic and alien-sounding tracks perfectly summarizing the breadth and depth of his far-sighted work (think Motor City techno anthems, heavy loop jams, sci-fi fuelled electronic soundscapes, neo-classical soundtrack comp, heady ambient works and early morning minimalist club jams).
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").
Review: Despite becoming a serious force in the contemporary techno scene over the last seven years, Antonin Jeanson has never released an album. He's made plenty of killer 12" singles, but for one reason or another has never applied his trademark style to the long-playing format. It's perhaps a surprise then, that his debut album, "Rising", is a near perfect example of a modern techno album. There are quite a few atmospheric and ear-catching dancefloor workouts - see the bustling beats and creepy electronics of "Perchance To Dream", the dark throb of "Duality of Mind" and the slamming psych-techno of "It Follows" - but also more considered, left-of-centre trips into IDM, ambient techno and otherworldly ambient territory. It's these diversions that make the album such an entertaining and rewarding listen.