Review: Dutchmen Betonkust and Palmbomen II are back on local institution Dekmantel, following up last year's well received Center Parcs LP - which was recorded in the bunker of an abandoned theme park. The retro, grainy and lo-fi qualities that characterise their work is evident again here on Parallel B. This time recorded in a bungalow somewhere in the Dutch countryside, it finds a distinct middle ground between Palmbomen II a.k.a. Kai Hugo's lo-fi classic house aesthetics and Betonkust a.k.a. Swiere Westveen's taste for gritty electro, acid and Italo sounds. It pays fictional homage to a now deceased famous TV star, who instead on working on the screen, took up a new direction in making music.
Review: For his first outing of 2019, Adam Beyer has turned over the parts to his 2014 single "Teach Me" to Belgium's first lady of banging, acid-fuelled techno, Amelie Lens. She subsequently serves up two throbbing, peak-time ready revisions, with the A-side "Main Mix" offering a near perfect blend of booming, kick-drum driven beats, military snare fills, cut-up late night vocal samples and distorted, mind-altering riffs. As the title suggests, the flipside "Acid Remix" sees Lens indulge her love of mind-altering TB-303 acid lines, brilliantly wrapping them around a springier drum track, EBM-influenced melodic motifs and more pulsating, manipulated vocal loops.
Adam Beyer & Enrico Sangiuliano - "Preset Heaven" (8:17)
Timmo - "Muzik" (6:11)
Pig&Dan - "La Bruja" (6:37)
Julian Jeweil - "Nasa" (6:11)
Review: Some serious peak time weapons for the main room on offer here, from the ever reliable Swedish label Drumcode. Usual heroes of the label such as Luigi Madonna, Sam Paganini and Joseph Capriati step aside for some other equally reliable staples. On the A, side label boss Adam Beyer teams up with Enrico Sangiuliano on the evocative and life affirming "Preset Heaven" which takes its cues from early trance with its amazing chord progression. It is something more typical of the label next, on the pummelling warehouse stomp of "Muzik" by Bulgaria's Timmo. On the flip, there's more trance nostalgia on offer again - this time from legends Pig & Dan on the hypnotic/melodic bliss of "La Bruja" which we could imagine melting the minds of festival crowds well into the new year. Finally they save the best for last with French peak time specialist Julian Jeweil, serving up the furious, tunneling and strobe-lit ultraviolence of "Nasa" which will have your adrenaline going from the first beat. It has been a stellar year for the powerhouse label, with great releases by Moby, Dubfire and newcomer Layton Giordani.
Review: Drumcode head honcho Adam Beyer and Chicagoan legend Curtis Jones (aka Green Velvet) had discussed writing music together for a long time. Also, Beyer's protege Layton Giordani had admired the mohawked Jones' work for as long as he could remember. When he got to DJ alongside him at Belfast's Shine - the spark and subsequent friendship was immediate. The outcome of this respected trio's musical journey comes in the form of "Space Date" which will be familiar to many who've followed their sets over recent months. Featuring a relentless main room stomp with steely hats and droney synth leads, all accompanied by Green Velvet's trademark vocal delivery. The thunderous peak time energy of "Rome Future" is likewise guaranteed to rock the house - that killer Reese bassline particularly is sure to blow the doors off!
Review: Adam Beyer teams up with Pig & Dan on the new Capsule EP and they sure aren't messing around. The Drumcode boss knew he could call upon his label stalwarts for EP packed full of main room power tools with the peak time in mind. The adrenalised, forceful stomp and grind of the title track gets things off to a good start, while the druggy and head rush inducing muscle of "In Love" is bound for some real hands in the air moments. On the flip "We Are E" leaves little to the imagination on this heady and bass driven trip through the early hours of a heaving stadium dancefloor... where things are starting to get real weird. Then those ravey church organs come in and it starts getting right crazy!
Review: Cong Burn made a mighty splash with its first release, clearly flaunting the kind of wares you'd expect to hear from Livity Sound alumni or other such esteemed techno renegades. The second installment is no slouch either, featuring a new cast of crooked creators offering up their wares for the modern mutant dancefloor. BFTT has a weighty low end thrum powering "Public/Private", while Lack takes things in a scuffed and nimble direction. Chekov pushes out into more experimental pastures with the broken beats and displaced sound design of "Celeste" and Howes creates a wonderful strain of mystical deep house for darkened souls. Each one of these tracks is loaded with flair and personality, yards ahead of your average generic knock offs and presenting something with real merit to the convoluted world of dance music.
Review: Since announcing their debut album on UK institution Ninja Tune earlier this year, Irish duo Bicep present the first single from the album in the form of title track "Aura". Said to have been created via a series of accidents while experimenting with a new studio setup, the track finally came together through trial and error and here is the wonderful result. A dark and sexy serving of dancefloor drama featuring 'hands in the air' style vintage synth melodies, life affirming strings and immaculate drum programming. It is sure to be one of 'those' tracks you're going to be hearing a lot of in the latter part of 2017 and beyond.
Review: UK techno stalwart Steve Bicknell's Lost Recordings series must be one of the longest running in dance music; the Lost and Cosmic founder has been putting out previous unheard material from his early '90s heyday on and off since 2004. There are few surprises on this 10th edition, but plenty of slamming, no-holds-barred grooves. The hissing, spacey, cymbal-heavy "Track 3" is particularly trippy, while there's a gnarled, ragged intensity about the pulsating heaviness of "Track 1". Arguably best of all, though - ambient interlude "Track 2" aside - is "Track 4", an eerie techno shuffler built around a wonky, off-key electric piano loop and fizzing percussion.
Review: Given that legendary London DJ Steve Bicknell was one of the earliest champions of "proper techno" in the UK, it's been heartening to see his recent renaissance. Renewed interest in his 1990 productions has allowed him to issue a string of previously unheard gems from the vaults. Awakening The Past takes this approach, too, serving up a trio of previously unreleased gems from 1998 - the wonderfully trippy, late night techno loop jam "Physical Life", ragged acid workout "Natural Vibrations" and even more psychedelic "Fearing The Mind's Fears" - and a cut recorded earlier this year in Berlin. Interestingly, the latter - an intense, bleeping, modular-sounding slammer entitled "Conscious Awakening" - sounds like it could have been recovered from the same dusty DAT as the other tracks, despite being 100% new.
Review: The brilliant Chronicle has been quiet for a minute, but comes back in fine form with this keenly curated various artists 12" that re-affirms the label's vision of cerebral, deep and driving techno. Damon Wild shows his tender side on the gorgeous, immersive "Constant Search", while Ben Sims brings a tougher palette to bear on peak time percussive belter "Vicious Cycle". Steve Bicknell summons a fearsome, metallic dervish on the monolithic "Chapter Of Self", and Tadeo takes things bleepy, loopy and uplifting on "X Marks The Spot". It's a 12" of stunning modern techno from start to finish.
Review: Digging deep into the Chicago Rave vaults to re-issue the debut EP from Billy Nightmare aka "Mystic Bill" Torres. Growing up in Miami, Bill was involved in various parts of the music industry, from working at Flamingo Record Pool, to playing guitar for the band Life In Sodom (80's Synth/Goth band). His interest in both House & Industrial music inspired him to make his move to the Windy City. Bill quickly became involved in the night scene with residencies at clubs like Shelter, Crobar, & Smart Bar. His studio work began with a remix of Kay Ladrae's "Lack Of Love" with Vince Lawrence, followed by a string of releases, including an LP on Trax Records. He has recently relaunched two record labels and several releases and remixes out each year.
'Reality Check' was released in 1996 on Woody McBride's label Sounds. Originally the project was to be titled " Billy's Nightmare", but to avoid being jinxed for life, Torres decided to switch it to Billy Nightmare. He put the Mystic Bill alias aside, got a hair cut, changed his sound and became this new persona. 'Reality Check' consists of 4 tracks, recorded at Mirage Studios in Chicago in 1996. Two tracks on the A-side are dark thumpers and will haunt your head for days. Side B has 2 versions of the same song, lighter and funkier in mood both show the diversity Mystic Bill is capable of producing. All songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. Each EP is housed in a custom designed jacket by Eloise Leigh featuring a 90s photo of Billy Nightmare staring into TV static and includes a postcard with notes.
Review: Berlin based retrovert Binh returns for another much anticipated edition of his Time Passages series with Lost 'N' Rex EP, which follows up some great ones of late by Evan Baggs, Metamorphic Interface and Omar. Featuring six doses of old fashioned techno and electro that take their cues from the early '90s sound; from wacky and strobed-out jam of "Rice In" which you can imagine him playing at one of his regular marathon sets in his hometown, the old school jack of "Waescherei" that calls to mind Blake Baxter's early sounds on KMS to the nefarious underwater electro of the title track which gives a respectful nod to Motor City legends Drexciya.
Review: Liverpool's Scenery Records has been making a real splash over the last 18 months, delivering the kind of top notch, analogue-heavy deep house gear that invites comparisons with the best labels from Vancouver, Washington D.C and New York. There's plenty more to cheer on this label debut from Liverpudlian producer Binny, not least the immersive melodiousness, dancing synthesizers and rhythmic hustle of "Retrospective". Chicago Skyway delivers two impeccable rubs of that track, with the second - a new-age techno stomper built around beautiful synthesizer arpeggios and drum machine cowbells - standing out. Flip for the glassy-eyed intelligent techno-meets-deep house thrills of "A Moment In Time", which is also given a pulsating acid techno makeover from Scenery veteran Circular Rhythms.
Review: The mechanical techno industrialisms of MORD continue to eat their way into 2013 and the juggernaut doesn't look like it's going to stop either. The fifth release for Bas Mooy's new label is fuelled by analogue-acid legend Paul Birken who turns in what's arguably his heaviest EP yet - and that's saying something. It's the ultimate four-tracker to annihilate the club. First, let the cyclic cyborg march of "Repeat Offender" barge its way in. This will allow "Funnel Fiends" to blow the roof off with its machine gun drums and staccato horns, while the big bad battering ram that is "Big Rig Barnacle" will take care of the dancefloor, allowing the self explanatory "Rubbish Bag Batting Cage" to take care of the rest. Goodnight.
Review: Since first emerging in the late 1980s, Peter Elmaloglou has been one of the mainstays of the Australian techno scene. Derrick May is a fan and has decided to offer Elmaloglou the opportunity to showcase his wares on Transmat. A-side "Set Me Free" offers up an impressive fusion of soft-touch European tech-house tropes (fluid, delay-laden synthesizer motifs, tactile beats etc.), Chicago style psychedelic acid lines and the kind of rumbling, elongated bass tones that were once a feature of Kevin Saunderson's late '80s/early '90s work as Reese. Over on side B, "Don't Stop" is undulating, hypnotic and minimalist in tone, with percussion that both hisses and clicks, while "Autumn Blues" sees him pepper a squeezable techno groove with heady ambient chords and glassy-eyed electronic lead lines.
Review: Scott Ferguson's highly collectable and mysterious concept was a seriously hot ticket with total anonymity running through the early releases. This ensured the full focus was on the vibes, grooves and dancefloor. Now, three years after the second EP 3, he gives the project one final hoorah with a signature range of physical late night styles. Ranging from smoky, slo-mo hypnotically plodding soul of "Track One" to all-out acid frazzles of "Track Three", it's a fittingly broad and on-point way to end a great concept series.