Review: We're not sure who's behind the mysterious AC-EXP project, but the shadowy figure returns with more of that strange, submerged house music he's been tickling discerning DJs with over the past few years. After taking last year off, "1A" is a fine place to start things up again with a strutting jack track carrying acidic synth pulses that flirt with measured delay processing. It's a jam that sounds steamy and sinister all at once. "1B" maintains this restrained but seductive vibe with the slightly trancey throb of the lead synths pivoting around the snappy drums to great effect.
Review: Manni Dee might be best known for his upfront techno tackle on Perc Trax and the like, but he's also been quietly building up a separate identity as Nuances, and it's a world away from his dancefloor output. Following on from some choice album appearances on Bastakiya Tapes, it's up to Tabernacle to give the project its first outing on wax. While Tabernacle can have some range in their sound, this finds the label plunging wholeheartedly into ambient climes. Heavily processed textures and delicate chimes all feed into a truly evocative atmosphere loaded with significance. Ignore the familiar name behind the music - this is an album deserving attention all on its own.
Review: Building on the momentum of the strong reissue programme undertaken at Thule Records HQ, Thor returns to the fray with some new productions that add a new chapter to the story of Icelandic techno. This limited run of Decay appropriately comes on marbled grey vinyl. Of course, the unique atmosphere the label carved out in the 90s has been left intact - the dubby processing and icy melodies abound throughout, creating utterly immersive techno and house variations in the process. "Insanity Dub" has a live feel to its drum set which injects a curious disco energy into the mix, while "Rusty Flashback" takes things in a subtle tech house direction. "Garden Of Corrosion" stands apart with its slender sound palette, placing the emphasis on groove and swing, while "Pepper Jones" ramps the dub techno exploration up to 11. If you love the sound of Thule, you're going to love this.
Review: First dropped in 1985, over thirty years ago, "No UFO's" paved the way for Detroit to unleash the beast we know refer to as 'techno', to the rest of the planet. Merging everything the Juan Atkins had heard through his adolescent years, from electro to funk and krautrock, his first outing as Model 500 will never grow old. Thus new reissue drops both the vocal and the instrumental, which are equally powerful on the floor. The bonus points come from the remixes: Detroit's own Moodymann makes his debut for Metroplex with a wonky, broken tech-house stormer charged by the original's bass, and sexified with the help of some blazing new sub-vocals from the master of funk; Luciano makes a surprise addition to the pack, dropping an ultra-sleek, minimalistic house mix that will lead this record being in the hands of thousands of different DJs across the globe. Big-dawg business.
Review: P-Balans continues to shed light on the more unusual underbelly of the Romanian scene, taking a few cues from the dominant minimal scene but adding plenty of analogue weirdness into the mix to provide a genuine alternative for those who like a little more spice in their sauce. On this release Khidja and Delusion Men team up for some off-kilter trips into subversive danceability, starting with the subtle, wavey acid of "Strayed" before cartwheeling into the spooky delights of "Recurrent Weakness". The ghoulish theme gets ramped up to 11 on "Ghost Caravan", where a deathly slow beat carries all kinds of undead synth work, and then Borusiade takes "Recurrent Weakness" to task with a pinging, plunging remix for the end of days.
Review: You may well have come across Miltiades doing sterling work on such excellent labels as Nous and Echovolt, pushing a grubby, blown out kind of hardware house music for freaky warm ups and wayward souls in red lit basements. Stepping out as Outermost, the methodology seems to be the same but with an gutsy electro mission that suits Modal Analysis perfectly. There's a seductive quality to "Surface#1" that makes it the consummate opener to this record, but it's something of a foil for the extreme sonic degradation at work on some of the tones in "Surface#2". There's a more bleak, industrial tone to "Surface #3" while "Surface#4" heads into a slower braindance conundrum before the sludgy slow-mo acid of "Surface#5".
Review: Ikeaboy is the intermittent project from Damian Tubbritt, who first debuted the moniker more than ten years ago. It's been a long while since any fresh material from this deep cover curio of oddball techno hit wax, but now Wicked Bass have done the honourable thing and gathered up this excellent trio of tracks. "Shape Memory" plies a funky line in squelchy bass and jangling delay trills, while "Living In The Future" opts for a more mysterious, pad soaked trip into spooked out electro. On the B-side "Dayna" sports some forthright drum machine beats and epic sweeps of synths that only serve to confound any expectations you might have about the sound of Ikeaboy.
Review: Hong Kong based label Fragrant Harbour has thus far supported work from choice leftfield beat candidates such as General Ludd, Fulbert and Renart, and this time turns its attentions to international outfit LPZ. There's a modernist, UK-leaning style to their brand of mutant techno, focusing on crooked, moody rhythms that sup from the same font as Livity Sound et al. "Triangular" crashes and bangs its drums through blissful pads before "Heliopolis" pushes the kick to the foreground and dives into more meditative depths. "In Flames" rides some dreamy breakbeat tones and "Luminescence" rounds the EP off with another crafty pairing of off-centre beats and soundsystem-ready tones.
Review: Teste are back, but not without reminding us why they are so revered. Their track "The Wipe, originally released in 1992, is often credited as a forbearer to a style of techno described as bassline driven, and a style long championed by Munich label Prologue. So before Teste release any new music, Edit Select has extended their famous cut so the wormhole experience of "The Wipe" can last all the more longer. The real treat though is "Ascender", a brand new production between Teste and Edit Select which is similar to "The Wipe" only it swaps foreboding sounds for something lighter and the results are transcendental.
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: Bang, boom, biff! New label alert from contemporary house maestros Soulphiction and Mike Dehnert, a collaboration which has caught us by surprise and left us trailing by the wayside. Masterful. Hands & Tief is the name of the home to this punchy two-tracker that sees both artists put on their techno mask and offer something a little moodier than their usual output, respectively. "Sky So High" is Soulphiction going for a distorted, industrial approach and it works like a charm; the tune's percussion is raw and mashable in any mix, the bassline ominous and intriguing, and the groove powerful and body-moving. Mike Dehnert's "Zumwald" is more in line with his usual bags of tricks, except that here the lower frequencies are more aligned to the electro dynasty than a classic 'Berlin' approach. Both sleek, effective dance floor bangers recommended for pretty much any DJ wanting to lay down some heat!
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: Geir Jensson's debut album under the now familiar Biosphere alias, Microgravity, has long been considered something of a classic of the early '90s ambient boom. First released in 1991, it offered an icy but suitably atmospheric mix of chilly ambience, British-style "intelligent techno" and crystalline IDM. To celebrate 25 years since it was recorded (it was released a year later, in 1991), Geir Jensson has re-mastered it and, with the help of a successful crowd-funding campaign, pressed it onto a double CD minus the cross-fades and sound effects featured on the original pressing. Happily, Microgravity has lost none of its allure.
Review: Bulgarian house wizard KINK is back and, of course, he's all about delivering the shadiest forms of dance floor music humanely possible. The man is a master at twisting and pushing house music to its very limits, something which is obvious from the start of "Soda Caustic", a nutty 4/4 banger boasting a curious new strain of acid at its core. "Synesthesia" barely even forms a groove out of its solitary bleeps and bass buds, whereas "Daddy Acid" takes a little poke at AFX's improbable mishmash of Goa trance and gabber junglism - we love this one. The B-side boasts "The Roots Of Techno", a kinetic array of machine noise and robotic beats, while "Antitune" makes some of Photek's early work seem antiquated by comparison. This EP has it all. Warmly recommended.
Review: Announcing the 25 year anniversary vinyl only edition of the legendary Mihon. It apparently all happened back in Frankfurt, 1992 when Uwe Schmidt aka Atom Heart teamed up with other local legends such as Ata Macias (Robert Johnson) and Heiko MSO (aka Heiko Schafer of Playhouse) and local hard techno purveyor W.J. Henze as Ongaku to produce one of techno's holy grails. Especially "Mihon 3" which is known by many as one the best acid tracks that was ever produced.
Review: Though perhaps not the most familiar of artists in the ever swelling techno community, Ukrainian techno producer Stanislav Tolkachev has been plying his trade since 2006 and picked up some high profile fans along the way. Everyone from Pangaea and Untold to Call Super and Volte Face have been known to drop some Tolkachev, whilst last year's Simple Is A Miracle 12" for Semantica seemed to open the Ukrainian's production charms to a whole new audience. It's nice then to see Stanislav return to the Spanish techno outpost with Right Angle, a 12" consisting of four tracks that will please fans of both Dozzy's soundscapes and Robert Hood's driving rhythms.
Review: We like it when labels carry on that whole mystery, hand-stamped kinda vibe because it does, in fact, add even more charm and personality to a genre with should ideally remain faceless and allow the machines to speak for themselves. This is the Trimurti label's third release to date, and NT is the enigmatic artist behind these three powerful house-techno hybrids. "Vishnou 1.3" is a bass-heavy, dubbed-out house slinger with a deep, wholesome analogue feel, while "Vishnou 2.3" adds a few breakbeats and a bit of an electro charm to its stutter, and "Vishnou 3.3" flaps a glitchy set of percussion all over a sparse and desolate landscape of melodies. This is a tidy little three-tracker that shouldn't go unnoticed, and we recommend you to pick one up fast because it's likely to fly on out of here pretty damn fast!
Review: The Kimochi label has been steadily releasing quality output over the last four years and they've been responsible for introducing us to a pool of new talent from the ambient corners. This latest beautifully presented 12" comes in their usual house style and comes from UD, an unknown artist who has already released one EP for the label last year. "Muy Casera" starts things off with colourful minimalism thanks to its glitchy sonics, while "Meticulous" breaks the groove and takes the beeps to an irregular tempo. "After The Cremation" is looser and more heavily focussed on cinematic pads, whereas "Pankow" takes subtle bursts of noise and places them above grey-scaled low frequencies. There's some special appearances on the B-side in the form of two remixes by Leipzig's Mix Mup and Sued's SW: the former gives his own version of "NFL CC DUB", a slow and chuggy beat burning below mild pads, whereas the latter interpretation of "Dewy" contains that classic SUED sound, a bag of rickety percussion and rich soundscapes. Don't miss it, gone before you know it.
Review: 2MR is a curious label, indeed. For starters, its founders Mike Simonetti and Mike Sniper have released just about all sorts of electronic music on it. The second release by Russian artist Kedr Livanskiy is just as nutty as her debut, except that this time we have even more sound experiments to play with. Mixing up lo-fi techno through the likes of "Razrushitelniy Krug" or "Winds Of May", together with grainy shades of house on "January Sun", and even broken-down echoes of post-hardcore with "Otvechai Za Slova" the artist has managed to create a truly captivating record, and perhaps also one of the freshest and most daring pieces of music that we've heard since the turn of the new year. Warmly recommended.
After The Cremation (Area Green Green Grass version) (4:23)
Pankow (SW Electrofunk mix) (5:36)
Steamed Up Window (Skookum Reminiscence) (4:06)
Review: Mystery production unit UD returns to Kimochi, one of the more overlooked imprints of the last few years, with four new cuts and a rather fine selection of remixers to boot! The mood is pensive and the sounds are atmospheric throughout, where tracks like "Lollipop Robot" or "Adapter" stand somewhere between ambient and electro-acoustic. The remixes give the tracks slightly more dancefloor weight, and both Area Green Grass and label regular Skookum contribute with a set of pretty killer reinterpretations a-la outsider house, but the silent killer is most certainly SW's remix of "Pankow". The SUED records co-owner fixes up a wonderfully bizarre concoction of sounds and shapes, moulding them into a dubby, sparse and cinematic twister. Another fine slice of Kimochi, beautiful artwork and all.