Review: Tony Rodriguez has many strings to his bow already as Brothers' Vibe and the head of Mixx Records, and now he's embarking on a new venture in the shape of the Toad Red label. Focused on a harder-edged sound than the deep house he's normally associated with, Rodriguez has invited Esther Duijn and youANDme to join in the fun with some finely crafted techno for open-minded dancefloors. Meanwhile there's an original BV jam in the shape of "Dee's Drama", while Rodriguez also unveils a new modular-focused alias named Silent Rodgerz. It's a new chapter for the New Jersey mainstay, and it promises exciting things to come in the future.
Review: Three years in, Blackhall & Bookless' Jaunt label is becoming a serious force for forward thinking, fractured techno exploration. On this split EP with Chad, the duo take the A-side and present two different versions of "Links". The "Battle rework" is a tense and dramatic tumble through dub techno soundscapes, while the "Bleak remix" pares the elements down to a more focused, minimalist thrum. Chad presents a wholly different vibe on the flip, using rich, warm synthesiser tones to draw you in to "Afters", and then Scenery regular ASOK takes up remix duties on the track with an immersive version that borders on breakbeat.
Review: After initial outings from phile and Ptwiggs, the Deep Seeded crew welcome phile member Barking into the fold for another excursion into crooked techno from the outer realm. There's a lingering sense of industrial malaise emanating out of "Singularity" thanks to some dense signal processing, while "Clay Passage" pings off into a strange but utterly accomplished trip into Fourth World techno that packs a serious rhythm without the need for obvious drum lines. "Pathos" matches malevolent beats and tones with dominant ambience to create a proper push 'n' pull of a track, and then "Prone" rounds the EP off with some gutsy analogue demolition for the broken techno and electro crowd to get wild to.
Review: Emotional Response reach out to another fine selection of sonic voyagers to take Brain Machine's excellent Peaks LP to task, leading in with the warm discoid undulations of Rollmottle who refigures "To The Stars" as a gentle, groovy warm-up joint. Die Wilde Jagd takes on "Mercury Ripples" and fashion a bombastic breaks jam out of it, and Merrick Adams pushes "Alpha Moon" into a curious but ultimately cosmic space somewhere beyond the titular lunar body. Cass takes the prize with the bittersweet synth tones that course through the two-part remix of "Nexus Vox".
Review: Argy's These Days label is an occasional treat in the world of stripped down tech house, and it makes its first appearance for 2016 with a selection of club-ready remixes from the label boss, tackling various productions from German techno mainstay Paul Brtschitsch. The "Floor Adaptation" of "Green" heads into subterranean pastures, albeit with a powerful beat propelling it, and "Eternal Aspects" maintains that underground mood with a warmer synth repertoire. On the more flamboyant B-side, "Squeezed" takes on a wild old-skool quality perfect for more fiery moments on the floor before "Subbass" continues the jacking theme in fine style.
Review: Scott Fraser and Timothy J Fairplay's Crimes Of The Future label has had quite the banner year, ushering in various projects from the pair as well as seeking out like-minded contemporaries such as Perseus Traxx. The latest Crimes of the Future release introduces Bulb, another project bearing the label founder's finger prints along with a high profile third colluder in one William Burnett. Apparently laid down at WT Records HQ in the spring of 2014 whilst Fairplay and Fraser were committing Crimes in NYC, Bulb is a bold offering from the trio with two extended dancefloor workouts taking a side each. "Light It Up" pairs ghetto techno breaks with something from wayward Kosmiche studio experiments in deepest Germany, whilst "Dimmer Switch" plunges into a world of psychedelia and cavernous cave dwellings thanks to some dark ambient synthesis and stabbing drums.
Review: The man behind the track that Move D proclaimed "owned the dome at freerotation" , returns with 3 new tracks of deep machine grooves, his first release since 2013's Analogue Mapping. "Frey'd" is built around a synth patch stumbled upon whilst conducting a test on one of bovill's machines with rennouned Synth engineer Frey Smith. Opening with playful ,bubbling analogue tones and nostelgic pads, before characteristic basslines, percussion and 303 lines join in, ending on a spaced out contemplative groove . " L.A.T. " is a more stripped down track, which ebbs and flows around subtle builds, tweeks, and delays, perfect for the deeper late night dancefloor. Closing the ep is Golden burn, the deepest and most dubbed out of the 3 tracks, sprinkled with emotive keys, and underpinned by distinctive bass lines.
Review: Having debuted on Valcrond Video label last year with the Immured 12" under her familiar Xosar alias, Sheela Rahman now returns to the platform for some "shared make-believe" with founder Luke Wyatt for new project Body Tools. Taking a catalogue number as its title, this two track 12" follows a succession of Body Tools radio broadcasts on Berlin Community Radio and showcases a softer, more hypnotic side which in the case of lead track "Locusts & Lions" hits hard when the poignant piano makes its presence felt. "Brave" channels a strange, modern kosmische vibe that will really hit the spot deep in the mix.
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.
Bitch & Bites - "Techdrea In Andromeda (Time/Space)"
Bouhouz - "Fairy Tale"
Review: Tabernacle have an enviable instinct for visionary talents in the well-ploughed field of purist machine-powered techno and house, and their various artist releases can be a goldmine for new names to add to your watch list. So it goes on this latest transmission, kicking off with the dusty Chicago house styles of Models Over 18 before switching stance drastically to the splayed out tonal investigations of Paradize. Bitch & Bites are equally subversive, shirking dancefloor demands to apply classic techno motifs to a fractured but ultimately inviting strain of hardware-honed techno. That leaves it to Bouhouz to round the EP off with a gentle murmur of synth patterns carefully composed for a spiritual, subliminal end result.
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: After a quiet 2016 thus far Och's Autoreply label is finally back in action with a frankly fantastic selection of workouts from Mark Broom. In keeping with the style Broom has been exercising in new Perbec jams with Baby Ford, this is more restrained than the muscular techno Broom can also be known for. Instead, you get expressive, satisfying house tracks such as "18.2" and the neatly pumping "10" with its killer array of synths to satisfy the dancefloor and the mind in equal measure. Avoiding unnecessary fireworks in favour of perfectly chosen and shaped elements, this is a glittering demonstration of Broom's cool-headed approach in the studio.
Review: Naura Records presents the third release of the Bleak series.
'Relics' is a full oriented dance floor track, twisted and static in all directions.
'Black Ice' reveals itself as a cataclysmic and intelligent analog tool with pulsating baselines and profound deepness.
Review: Having shot into the limelight in 2012 with a 12" on Hessle Audio followed up by an outing on Liberation Technologies, Bandshell has since been on covert operations largely centred around releasing his music himself via Bandcamp. Now he's extended that practice into the B.S.Hell label, providing a physical presence to his wayward experimentation on the fringes of bass music. It's a sound that naturally aligns with the likes of Batu and Laksa, but also defiantly makes its own statement as well. With five tracks of distinctive drum science and textural voodoo to indulge in, this is a welcome return to wax for a thrilling, self-motivated producer.
Review: Having first surfaced last year with their first various artists release featuring the dearly departed Andreas Gehm, the Stealth Mission label is back with another four-strong salvo of no-nonsense acid, electro and techno. Naked Eye People kicks off proceedings with the punishing jacker "Short Distance" before Barrow Boy whips up a perfect slice of malevolent 303 mischief on "BTB (Demo Mix)". On the B side there's space for a little more reflection with the spacious pings of Bobby Durst's "Shape Shifting" before Mike Storm turns the heat back up on the delightfully unhinged "Dark Sight (Sims JFF Edit)".
Review: Following an appearance last year on Cabrera, Santiago Naura is back on his own label to expound his vision of modernist techno even further. "Dust (Mix 1)" is a pumped up workout, all muscular drums and bold, chiseled synth hooks shimmering around the rhythmic core. "Dust (Mix 2)" is a more heads-down affair that locks into a cyclical groove for the late night crowd to lose themselves to. "Element" presides over the B side with a deeper approach that makes great use of interplay between different textures and tones to create energy and momentum while keeping the drums on the straight and narrow.
Review: The fourth sampler from Ben Sims' mammoth Tribology mix features another four of the must-have exclusives from this crucial document of contemporary techno. Function leads the way with "Introversion", a spooky and sleekly designed deep driver marked out by thin slithers of displaced vocal. Tripeo plays the opposite tact with a bright and bold synth hook front and centre of the mix on "Sequoia", and then Truncate trickles down a pattering array of drum machine rhythms and fluttering melodic chimes on the stunning "Rings." Blasha & Allatt bring the tough stuff to the B2 with the jacked up energy of "Broughton 93" - their debut appearance no less and a very strong one at that.
Blue Vulva & The Electronic Crooner - "Vulbitch Bazaar"
Review: Minuendo keep things interesting on this latest various artists 12", primarily focusing on Owen Jay and Brian James on the A side for two tracks of adventurous experimentation on the wild frontier of minimal house music. The wobbly synth running through "Niko's Groove" is a real head turner, while "Imagery" nudges the grand tradition of dub house into a new pocket of ambience that draws you in immediately. There's a lovely, classic deep house joint from Untitled called "Seafood", and then Blue Vulva & The Electronic Crooner completely flip the script on the B2 with rowdy acid burner "Vulbitch Bazaar".
Review: Fragrant Harbour once again dig out a cult gem from the seemingly endless vaults of 90s dance music, picking up on a rare and precious gem from a seminal Laurent Garnier mix and giving it the remaster and reissue it deserves. The artists responsible, Broccoli Brothers vs Righteous Men, hailed from Germany and were trying to emulate Mike Dunn. "Catch It (Calm Manoeuvre)" is a spaced out deep house track with all the gritty impact of a classic jam, while "Catch It (Jam)" gets decidedly rowdy with its hefty kick, jacked up swing and wonky bassline. On the B side "Ruhrschnellweg (Last Exit Stahlhausen Mix)" brings a little Detroit flavour into the mix with spectacular, uplifting results.
Review: Braiden's material has been slow to come out since he first landed with a bang on Doldrums back in 2010. A turn on Rush Hour confirmed his status as a producer in command of the chops necessary to get a dancefloor shaking, but this year's X Years In London OST cassette was a chance for him to expand into more experimental pastures. Not so on this new 12" for his Off Out label, which finds Braiden turning up the heat with some fiercely modern tech house workouts. "V.O.L.A.T" has the same kind of dangerous earworm armour that made Paul Woolford's "Erotic Discourse" so potent all those years ago. "Hydroplane" meanwhile takes some of the crisp but playful tropes of Pearson Sound et al and straps them to a thrumming motorik beat.
Review: Emergent duo Broken Arrows were previously spotted lurking around Giallo Disco back in 2015, so you should have some idea of the kind of lurid late night machine sleaze they like to get their hands dirty with. They've now slid over to the sympathetic but marginally more techno-minded Vivod imprint with a new clutch of deviant heaters for those adventurous dancefloor spaces where B-movie sounds reign supreme. "Female Predator" is a tough EBM-tinted workout with plenty of jack in its stack, while "Fear Eats The Soul" takes a more synth-wave approach with some speech samples thrown in for good measure. "Edge Of Darkness" is a more tense affair that pings arpeggios around a minor key refrain, and then "Basic Structure" whips out the hardest track on the record, a lithe industrial stomper laden with rhythmic noise and a mean synth bassline that will hit your solar plexus like a battering ram.
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.
Phantom Planet Outlaws - "Muscles From Outer Space" (6:35)
John Heckle - "Hybrid 1" (5:32)
Mark Forshaw - "Flash Back" (7:52)
Binny - "The Return" (5:32)
Review: Boss Tracks gets ignited as a vessel for the work of three nefarious cartoon individuals who may or may not relate to three Liverpudlians with a penchant for jacking hardware tackle. John Heckle, Mark Forshaw and Binny are formidable enough on their own, so combined as Phantom Planet Outlaws there's no shock to hear the acid raining down in a most expressive of ways. "Hybrid 1" finds Heckle squeezing atonal hooks out of his gear like a free jazz maverick while Forshaw fires off the whipcrack tones on "Flash Back". Binny meanwhile brings a malevolent twist on searing loopy techno to bare on "The Return" making this a record for only the toughest heads to drop.
Review: After launching with a buttechno 12", Russia's leading exponent of leftfield techno fires up his RASSVET label under his own name with a trip into the strange middle ground between trance and coldwave. "Main Loop" is certainly obscure in its leaning, coming on like an 80s soundtrack refrain, but there's no mistaking the dazzling leads undergoing surgery in "Chording". This is deconstructed trance mangled for the post club generation, all the euphoria straining against aggressive digital processing to create a very unsettling listening experience indeed. Trance aficionados will be aghast, techno snobs will be up in arms, and the new wave of heads drawing on all genres great and small will be relishing in the post modern madness of it all.
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: Norwegian label Sommeroya enters the fray with a strong cast of Scandinavian sound scientists spread across a lucky dip range coloured vinyl. Skatebard leads the charge with the emotive electro tones of "Early Morning", all warm and fuzzy synth lines wobbling across the frequency range, while Fredrik Bekkassen brings a more militant brand of techno to the table with "Shroud". Bjorn Svin's "Clay Penalty" is equally tough and mechanical, although splashing through a generous helping of effects processing too. Then Christian Tilt finishes the EP off with a dubby dancefloor excursion entitled "It's Too Much Light In Here".
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.
Miro SundayMusiq - "From Behind The Corner" (8:39)
Review: Following an excellent EP from Memphis, Animals On Psychedelics returns with more weird and wonderful party fare from the outer reaches. This time it's a various artists release that brings together all the producers involved in the label so far, while also introducing BPMF to the fold with the woozy, rubbery synth shapes of "Liza On Clouds." Jane Fitz and Dom Ahtuam's Invisible Menders project presents the rolling, psyched out melodics of "Three On Three," while Memphis pushes further into experimental territory with the wonderfully fractured "Altered States." That leaves it to Miro SundayMusiq to complete the EP with the wave-meets-Italo tones of "From Behind The Corner," a perfectly noirish flourish to finish a sterling record.
Review: Another great EP from the 3 boys from Sweden, the Blotnik Brothers. Strong percussive big room electro, thick melodies and perfectly-timed arrangements are the mark of their second EP. Kraftwerk on steroids!
Review: The third sampler from Ben Sims' barnstorming Machine mix compilation presents another four cuts of militant, unrelenting techno from some of the finest operators in the field. Oscar Mulero heads up the A side with the spacious, ominous march of "The Calling," which contrasts sharply with the jacked up, tense energy of "Distorted Logic" by O Aka Phase. Tasha's "In The Zone" kicks of the B side in a head-spinning loop of rasping drums and disorienting layers, and then Sims himself rounds off the record with the poised and deadly "Drop Out." If you're after a potent collection of chiseled techno bombs guaranteed to do the business, then look no further.