Review: Robin Ball has been on a roll of late, flaunting his wares on the Memory Box label amongst others. He makes a second outing on Groovepressure with four tracks of dynamic, inventive machine jams touching on synthwave influences and a healthy dose of electro. There's atmosphere loaded into each of these forthright, roughly hewn workouts, not least on the eerie, trancey synth strings on "Mr Mumble". The B side features the steadiest material in the shape of two versions of "Satin" that tap into the housier end of Ball's output.
Review: Both Ike Release and John Barera have been buzzing in the underground community for some time now. Ike with releases on Mister Saturday Night, Finale Sessions, Skudge and MOS and John with releases on Argot, Just Jack and Zakim. Now they turn to Ike's Episodes imprint to supply more of their upfront and dancefloor ready cuts. Starting out on the A side with the new wave acid sensibilities of "Looking Ahead" and the ferocious retro jack of "Lights Out" which are sure to set the night on fire. On the flip, the neon lit aesthetic continues with "Cosmic Divide" and "Winding Up" respectively, which conjure the ghosts from those dusty analogue machines to stunning effect.
Review: Otherwise known as one half of the Decas duo, Berlin-based Battista strikes out on his own with Records Hold Memories, an EP of thumping, raw techno tracks in the Restoration/Livejam vein, all recorded straight to tape. "From The Otherground" is all heaving kicks, a chugging angular bassline and distorted vocals buried deep in the mix; John Swing's remix meanwhile subtly flips the energy with a more rolling bassline with the kinds of loose drums that gather energy like a steam train. On the flip, "Natural Instinct" offers more unhinged 4/4, building up to a crescendo of cymbals and vocal noise; "Flowing Through Time" is even more manic, accelerating things up to 134BPM through a flurry of claps, snares and looping bass.
Review: Credo boss Alex Bau returns with some deep dub techno excursions on the fittingly titled Echo Echo imprint - a new Echocord sublabel. With previous releases on top labels like CLR, Kombination Research and Cocoon - you can trust this veteran A.M. specialist. From the glacial and cavernous "Clouds" and the introspective dub of "Contour" nailing that Basic Channel vibe of old. On the flip, we get two versions of "Zenstory". The first (prelude) being a chilling ambient version while the second is a stripped back epic that builds full of tension and suspense throughout.
Review: Since signing with Ransom Note Records in 2016, Bawrut has been on a fine run of form. Remarkably, this is the Madrid-based Italian's fifth EP for the imprint and it's every bit as memorable as its four predecessors. Like much of his work, title track "Pronto Arpeggio" is rich in razor-sharp analogue electronics, with high register arpeggio synthesizer lines rising above punchy beats, manic drum fills and mind-altering acid motifs. It's successfully toughened up by KiNK before Bawrut returns with "Shooreee", another boldly percussive and constantly building exercise in analogue electronics manipulation. Ruf Dug's brilliant remix takes the track to another level entirely via even denser drums, rougher acid riffs and more glistening lead lines, while "Atchu" is a chugging chunk of late night acid sleaze.
William Bendix - "Dallas" (Lucky Koi remix) (5:24)
Lewis J. Force - "Folkestone Nightclub" (3:46)
Lewis J. Force - "Folkestone Nightclub" (Parasols remix) (7:09)
Review: In just three years Ali Renault's Vivod label has managed to release a staggering amount of music from rule-breaking disco mavericks, and so it continues unabated on this new slab from William Bendix and Lewis J Force. The former comes leaping into earshot with the splattering robo-boogie of "Dallas" in all its chaotic glory before switching stance with the dazzling synth glare of "Centurion". Lucky Koi is also on hand to take "Dallas" to task and does so to great, mutant breakbeat effect. On the flip Lewis J Force whips up a bouncy acidic storm with "Folkestone Nightclub", only for Parasols to come bowling in and dismember it in a most sonically gruesome of ways.
Review: Welsh techno producer Benjamin Damage is up next on Belgian institution R&S. He has been fairly quiet on the production front - not producing alongside cohort Doc Daneeka so much anymore and since the shutdown of the 50 Weapons imprint - but he did surface on subsequent label Monkeytown with a remix for label bosses Moderat (aka Modeselektor w/ Apparat) last year. "Malfunction" is a hard-hitting and bass driven main room techno workout, that's sure to cause some destruction on the dancefloor. The B side cut "Binary" takes it cues from the school of M-Plant with its hypnotic stabs, cutting through layers of sublime pads and restrained rhythmic sequences.
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: 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: Given he's previously released some seriously creepy, atmospheric techno on Berceuse Heroique and Pinkman, you'd expect Black Merlin's Mannequin Records debut to be similarly unsettling. That's certainly the case with A-side "DEF", a hypnotic and feverish affair where raw and restless, industrial-inspired riffs rise above paranoid, held-note chords and a locked-in drum track. You'll find more brain-melting, razor-sharp modular motifs on the arguably even more intense and wayward "Oba Enka", while closer "Ham" wraps undulating, acid-style electronic motifs around an altogether fuzzier, looser groove. It sounds like it would be capable of inducing vivid hallucinations in early morning dancers, which in our book is no bad thing.
Review: Over the past couple of years, George Thompson AKA Black Merlin has made some of the most intoxicating, otherworldly electronic music around. The genius of his music lies in the way Thompson fixes creepy, paranoid aural textures and faintly haunting lead lines with rhythmic and instrumental elements inspired by trips to South East Asia and Oceania. He's at it again here, too, wrapping chugging polyrhythms and uncomfortable electronics in chiming, Steve Reich style melodic cycles on brilliant opener "DE 2.1". The track that follows, "PKL", is arguably even more unsettling in its hypnotic melodic approach, twinkling sound palette and mind-bending electronic shifts. Arguably best of all, though, is epic B-side "MM5", a sparse and loopy affair that could well be capable of inducing hallucinations in even the most sober of listeners.
Stojche - "The Exchange" (Gian Hydrocity Refix) (5:40)
Review: Blackhall & Bookless have been pursuing a fantastic strain of house and techno via their Jaunt label for many moons now. They're back and celebrating 10 years with a series of fantastic remixes that highlight the scope of their artistic vision, and that of those close to them. Inland leads in with an oceans deep version of the label bosses' "Spirit", which is smartly followed up by Jonas Kopp's equally submersive take on Hiver's "Itria". Jasper Wolff and Maarten Mittendorff lets the swooning "Meandering Rivers" by Kaelan burst its banks and fill out an expansive landscape, while Stojche pings Gian's "The Exchange" out into an electro-speckled cosmos.
Review: Collaborations are often the fortune of timing. With Andy having moved on since closing the Dissident label to launching his Cave Paintings project to Tim's departure from Battant and striking out as Andrew Weatherall's engineer and soon to be co-member of The Asphodells, an alliance was born between the two to undertake a series of live jam sessions at each's respective studios. A love of new wave, new beat, UK Bleep and Detroit techno all feature in B-Ultras and the aptly titled, Neu Beat. Both cuts are heavily soaked in the pitch black, smoke machine funk and strob-laden fug of Andy's (and co-hort Joe Hart) infamous World Unknown dancefloor. Running at around 10 minutes the tracks are essentially an examination of acid house's ideals. Clattering hats, throbbing basslines, stabbing keys and doses of 303. Keeping it pretty simple but all about a pure groove on and on. Backing these up is a remix of B-Ultras from Jamie Paton that accentuates the groove and drags the acid deeper down to some B-boy Dub throwdown - with more to follow from all protagonists in 2014.
Review: Leeds based Bleaching Agent has been making a racket over at Opal Tapes, Komisch, Overlee Assembly and more in his time, but this appearance on Reposition marks the first we've heard from him in a while. The mood on "Free Fere Fer Fe" is boisterous but dynamic, while "Albeni" is more sharply chiselled. "To Tu Ti Tl H" switches gears with a reduced weirdo disco thrust that could do some serious damage. The D-56M remix of "Free Fere Fer Fe" is a bold reimagining as a trancey industrial deviation with a workable pulse.
Dreaming Of Paradise (Oracy Leaving Eden dub) (9:26)
Review: Fresh from Utrecht, Blue Closet makes his debut on Mojuba with two startling originals; "To The Ocean Floor" lives up to its name with big pad washes and beats that shuffle like an old Rolando joint. Immersive and captivating, it's the perfect set opener that allows you to take any direction you wish. Flip for "Dreaming Of Paradise", a yearning, barbed soul cut that's reminiscent of Lee Burridge 15 years ago but at around half the tempo. Powerful and dreamy, it's complemented by a bubbling version from Oracy that blows Closet's doors off. More please, Bluey.
Review: Steve O'Sullivan's Mosaic train keeps on rolling, this time via the LTDX series which reaches its second station stop with two more dubbed out dancefloor delights for the deepest divers. O'Sullivan dons his Bluetrain guise to deliver the UK steppers-indebted "Armchair Analyst," which artfully folds subtle dubwise influences into its minimal techno construction. On the flip side, Roger Gerressen spaces things out good and proper with the slow-stalking groove of "Long Overdue," fusing the best elements of contemporary minimal and classic dub to create a fine extension of the Rhythm & Sound blueprint.
Body In The Thames - "Silver Threaded Crystal Beads" (6:02)
Peach - "Silky" (7:13)
Jay - "Balsam Drum" (6:30)
Webstarr - "The Muse" (7:02)
Review: Midland's Graded launches a new diffusion imprint: Intergraded. Featured here are four cuts from emerging producers. With Graded now focusing on the label boss's solo work and ReGraded catering to a different style altogether - the logical progression was to start a new label that could help introduce this music to a wider audience. Body In The Thames kicks things off on the A side - despite the name he's actually Swedish. His track "Silver Threaded Crystal Beads" is an emotive piece that sits somewhere between early Detroit techno and electro, in the vein of the Motor City godfather Juan Atkins. This is followed by the slinky tech house of "Silky" by London's Peach - a sturdy number supported by ethereal elements. On the flip, NTS host Jay (Siren) presents some moody, heads down techno for the late night on "Balsam Drum" while Yorkshire native Webstarr (De Grey/Mistry) goes deep into the afterhours on the darkly hypnotic "The Muse".
Review: Although most readily associated with Hypercolour, Unknown To The Uknown and his own Bodytrax imprint, Chris "Bodyjack" Finke is a regular contributor to the Dext Recordings' growing catalogue. In fact, this is his third release for the imprint since 2016. Head first to A-side "Nataraja", a polyrhythmic onslaught that pits twisted electronics, raw stabs and ricocheting drum machine cowbells against a rumbling bassline and heavy, broken techno style drums. Finke flips the script entirely on the flip, delivering a gut-punching electro workout that flits between sparkling, melodic sections and periods of foreboding heaviness straight out of Drexciya's post-apocalyptic playbook.
Review: Having made a strong impression with the first two releases on BROMUR, Bogdan steps over to Not An Animal to flex his discoid pecs once again. He leads in with the understated Italo thrum of "Parovoznikov," riding a stuttering arpeggio and leaving plenty of room for the punchy drums and fluttering synth touches. Justin Van Der Volgen does a sensitive job of the remix, embellishing the core of the track with delicate chime refrains that add a tenderness to this muscular club jam. "Listopad" is a more mellow affair, but there's no shortage of fuzzy, vintage lead lines to bathe your ears in. Kito Jempere does a more drastic reinterpretation with his version of "Listopad," injecting a little acid and proto house bite into the track.