Review: Having made his name during the late '90s and early 2000s as a maker of particularly forthright techno, Oliver Ho has broadened his horizons in recent years. Nowhere is that more obvious on his Broken English Club project, which debuted last year with a pair of industrial and EBM minded releases for Jealous God and Minimal Wave offshoot Cititrax. Here he returns to the latter, laying down more fuzzy, straight-to-tape journeys into analogue, mid '80s dancefloor experimentalism. There's naturally much to enjoy, from the peak Cabaret Voltaire grittiness of "Drycutting", and the bleak EBM throb of "Ritual Killing", to the ghostly synthesizers, Jaydee bass and droning textures of "Channel 83".
Review: ** Repress ** If you've been keeping abreast of all things Minimal Wave this year, you'll probably have picked up on Veronica Vasicka hinting at a forthcoming split release from Silent Servant and Broken English Club, the new project from UK techno man Oliver Ho. We've certainly been eagerly awaiting it her at Juno HQ and it's great to see Violence And Divinity live up to and surpass these expectations! Silent Servant mans the A Side with two tracks that will be familiar to anyone that's been lucky enough to catch his live sets of late, indeed it's almost too easy to visualise the flashing strobes as the pummelling EBM lines of "Cut Unconscious" unravel and beat you down. The two accompanying productions from Ho's Broken English Club dovetail nicely, but veer off into more wave orientated territory, with "Divinity" sounding quite like some of the earlier material put out by In Aeternam Vale. In a word superb.
Review: There's a delightfully celebratory feel about this debut volume of Cititrax Tracks, a new 12" series from Minimal Wave offshoot Cititrax. As beautifully presented as we've come to expect, Tracks Volume 1 boasts a quartet of dancefloor-ready smashers from a blend of new faces and label stalwarts. Amato (aka The Hacker) kicks things off with the glistening EBM funk of "Physique" - all restless synth refrains and pounding bottom end - before LIES affiliate Tsuzing go all dark, psychedelic and twisted on the thrillingly intense, acid-flecked "King of System". An-I go all DAF (with a touch of Front 242) on the fuzzy and dystopian stomper "Mutter", before Cititrax regulars Broken English Club delivers a storming chunk of industrial-tinged analogue funk ("Glass"). Bravo!
The Sixteen Steps - "Signals From The South" (6:28)
The Sixteen Steps - "Promises On The Run" (7:17)
Review: Rampant and 'up for it' as usual, the Cititrax label is back with a new set of wayward technoid experiments for the more trained ears on the dancefloors. This time it's Romania's Borusiade and newcomer The Sixteen Steps who share two sides of a wax plate and, of course, proceed to annihilate any idea of a quiet night in. The former sets off with the mechanical acid bumps of "Infatuation", guided by an eerie set of vocal blurs, and that's followed by the comparatively more beat-centric techno of the apocalyptic "Confutation". On the flip, The Sixteen Steps first lands on "Signals From The South", a house banger with noxious levels of mutant bass at its core, followed by the single-minded industrialism and sheer techno brutality of "Promises On The Run". WOWZAH!
Review: Analogue synthesizer enthusiast Bezier first surfaced on Dark Entries in 2012, delivering the hard-wired retro-futurist fantasy Ensconced. Two years on, he's finally ready to release the follow-up, the similarly sharp and sci-fi themed Telemores. As with his previous output, the influences are obvious - think Radiophonic Workshop, electro, minimal, new wave and Italo-disco - but he smartly steers clear of pastiche and empty revivalism. Instead, we're treated to a range of dancefloor-friendly instrumental cuts, cyborg jams, and intoxicating robot rinse-outs. Closer "Fukushima", in which he doffs a cap to the synthesized horror-disco of John Carpenter, is particularly potent.
Review: After the ultra-limited white vinyl edition of Brainwaltzera's superb "Epi Log EP" sold out in record time last year, Film has bowed to demand and served up this speedy black vinyl reissue. If you missed out first time around (and many of us did), it's worth picking up. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the mind-altering throb of "Doctor Who"-goes-dub techno pulse of "Triangulate Dither (Fairytall version)" and deep space bliss of "[Take 2]", to the Autechre style IDM breakbeats and chiming melodies of "Count_Dem_Pops". Brainwaltzera even chucks in a track that sounds like Boards of Canada jamming with Dam Funk (the dreamy "Bad Endgar"), which sounds every bit as wonderful as it looks on paper.
Review: A special release from Minimal Wave here as the uber rare Irene & Mavis EP from UK synth poppers Blancmange is granted a reissue! Those with a pub quiz winning level of knowledge of UK synth pop will no doubt be familiar with the 80s hits of Blancmange duo Neil Arthur & Stephen Luscombe, yet this debut EP dating back to 1980 will still sound revelatory. The self released Irene & Mavis EP marked Arthur and Luscombe to be fully willing to experiment with DIY electronics, impressing Mute founder Daniel Miller sufficiently to proclaim them "maiden aunts of electronic music," and thus more than suited as a subject of focus from the Minimal Wave label. There are definite similarities between this nascent stage of Blancmange and the output of Cabaret Voltaire from the same era, particularly in the masked and disembodied nature of the vocals, whilst "Holiday Camp" and "Just Another Spectre" are wonderful examples of instrumental synth music. Despite originally being released in 7" format, the six newly remastered tracks are presented here in 10" format by Minimal Wave with the distinctive artwork retained!
Review: Hot on the heels of the updated DAF stylings of that Schwefelgelb 12", Enfant Terrible / Gooiland Elektro demonstrate the breadth of their output with this plate from Tobias Bernstrup. A decorated contemporary artist from Gothenburg, Bernstrup is one of those annoyingly talented individuals who works across visual, interactive, performance art and electronic music mediums and if there's a new wave of Italo Disco he's definitely amongst the top 5%. The Destruction EP is classic Bernstrup mixing elements of Italo with synth pop and at times it sounds like Bernard Sumner's been in the studio with Ali Renault. Dancefloor hits for the neo-romantics among us!
Review: New York's Black Dice had to land on their native LIES imprint at some point. It was only a matter of time before label head Ron Morelli picked them up, and he's done so in fine style. The American Tapes, DFA, and Paw Tracks casuals are made up of Eric Copeland, Aaron Warren and Bjorn Copeland, and the trio like to get a little wacky over their coldwave grooves. "Big Deal" is a true post-punk reincarnation, a track that manages to pick out everything that was right about the early 80's by adding in elements of noise, rock, and a little techno. A monumental tune. "Last Laugh" is more dubwise in its approach, where a distorted guitar sways from side to side amid a fuzzy whirlpool of aqueous sonics and dusty percussion. A great release from LIES, and a fresh addition to their more usual house and techno onslaught.
Review: Benjamin Brunn and Dave Wheels are old studio buddies, having worked together on and off since 2006. "2000", though, is their most ambitious joint project yet: a collaborative album for Sushitech that offers up breezy, melodious and cheery fusions of heady dub techno, gentle electronica, chugging sofa-friendly haziness and glitchy late night hypnotism. It's an interesting blend but one that certainly hits the spot. Highlights include the horizontal pulse of "Orainge", the wonderfully hypnotic after-hours throb of "Iratamoto (Version)", the bold and sun-kissed undulations of "In The Club" and the pie-eyed warmth of "Waldeck".
Review: Following up some great tracks on Pinkman, Mannequin and Malka Tuti in recent times, British synth wizard George Thompson returns under the Black Merlin alias - delivering some bold EBM and electro-noir antics for Berlin imprint She's Lost Kontrol. The rusty grind of analogue arpeggios, with minimal rhythms awash in icy trails of reverb plus guttural howls through walls of distortion shall taunt you throughout the sonic contents of the Noi EP. While Thompson sure has a knack for nailing all the hallmarks of early industrial music, he still finds time for the same tribal meditative minimalism found on his Karamika project as heard on the riveting "Noi 2" - one of the EP's highlights.
Review: Music From Memory's first retrospective of obscure Brazilian electronic music, "Outro Tempo", was arguably one of the strongest compilations of 2017. There's a second volume on the way, with curator John Gomez this time focusing on music made between 1984 and '96. First, though, we get this taster EP featuring two previously cassette-only cuts. On the A-side you'll find Bruhaha Babelico's "Bruhaha II", a ghostly and mind-altering chunk of delay-laden new wave/industrial funk fusion full of fuzzy bass, echoing female vocals, dubbed-out electronics and psychedelic yelps. Turn to the flip and you're greeted by Individual Industry's off-kilter, outer-space synth-pop jam "Eyes". Like its predecessor, it's an unusual, intoxicating treat.
Review: As per usual, those fiendish folks over at Dark Entries have amazed us once again with yet another barrel of 1980s gold from the depths of the underground. This time it's German new wave band Boytronic who see a reissue, and the EP in question is 1988's "Byllyant", which features the magnificent Plus 8 mix - a shot to the head made up of warm bass tones and hard-hitting drum machine patterns - and also the US mix, which literally sounds like it was made yesterday; for being an '80s EP, Boytronic steered well clear of cheesy and to be honest, they give New Order a proper run for their money. The 1984 mix of "Trigger Track" is a wonderful electro stormer, stamping its fast beats over eerie pads and growling basslines. This would be silly not to recommend! For the diggers.
David Bowie/The Rebels - "Revolutionary Song" (4:42)
Marlene Dietrich - "Just A Gigolo" (3:34)
Review: Here's something to get Bowie fans hot under the collar: a first worldwide pressing of the Thin White Duke's "Revolutionary Song", his only contribution to the soundtrack of 1978 West German flick "Just A Gigolo", in which he also starred alongside silver screen legend Marlene Dietrich. The song was recorded with a local band of musicians hastily dubbed "The Rebels" and sees Bowie in classic crooner mode, adding his distinctive vocals to a jangly, largely acoustic number that's effectively a folksy take on waltz. Over on side B there's a chance to enjoy one of Marlene Dietrich's last ever recordings: an atmospheric cover of 1930s cabaret standard "Just A Gigolo" which ended up being the movie's title track.
Review: For their ninth release, Berlin's mindcolormusic present another stellar release by a debutant, as well as an old schooler. Shane Teal aka Flux is based out in the Pacific Northwest U.S.A. and is said to have been recording music for over a decade, making anything from electro to drum and all that's in between. All these disparate influences can be heard on the unholy mixture of "2linx" which comes off sounding like some broken-beat offworld IDM experiment - and sounds pretty awesome. On the flip, it is over to Eddie Symons: a veteran producer based in the UK, who after releasing on his own Struktur and [d]-tached imprints, made his debut as Bovaflux for the Highpoint Lowlife label back in 2005. Four deep and dystopian electro bass offerings from Symons here, and we particularly enjoyed the Aphex/Autechre spounding melancholia of "Lmp_Nrg".
Review: You could say that Kodiak Bachine is Brazil's greatest ever Brazilian electronic producer. That would not be an overstatement, it's just a simple fact. It was 1982 when he first released this EP, and it's been a classic, and a favourite of ours, ever since. In fact, "Electricidade" is so powerful because it sounds like it could have been made today; its tenebrous synths filling the airwaves from every angle, giving the track a strange sensation of lust and wonder. The flip, "Espirito Das Maquinas", is another enchanting ride through broken electric cables and abandoned power plants, a place where Bachine clearly thrives and surpasses all expectations. Highly recommend reissue!
Review: At first glance, French enfant terrible Bambounou is a surprising addition to the Diskant impint - now known as just Disk. Known for his techno and house exploits on Clek Clek Boom and 50 Weapons, his knack for intricately programmed rhythms were on display even back then. It kind of figures that he'd be a good choice for the label, come to think of it now. That's certainly proven across the three tracks on the Parametr Perkusja EP, where his sound sits comfortably alongside label mates like Harmonious Thelonious and Durian Brothers. From the slo-mo esoterica of "Dernier Metro" which reaches near tribal moments, the hard hitting polyrhythmic techno of "Kosovo Hardcore" it is great to hear some original productions from him after lengthy absence.
Review: Stupendously rare Italo gem from the criminally under-prolific Trieste-based Big Ben Tribe, this quirky poplet first came our way in 1984 on Gong. Last spotted changing hands for hundreds on auction sites, Dark Entries have done the disco world a favour and licensed a reissue. Untouched and naked in all its 80s glory, the synth patterns, abstract lyrics and arrangement were way ahead of their time and clearly influenced many electronic pop and Balearic bands who followed. Vocals just a bit too much for you? No worries, just flip for the instrumental. Tarzan loves summer nights, and we love Dark Entries for unearthing this utter classic.
Review: You wait ages for a Bezier record, and two come along at once. Following hot on the heels from his excellent Telemores mini-album for Dark Entries, synthesizer enthusiast Bezier drops a surprise 12" for the affiliated Honey Soundsystem. As usual, the French producer has his sights set on mining the past for inspiration. "Mina (Everywhere)" begins in typical fashion - all spacey synthesizers and twinkling melodies - before morphing into a relentless chunk of dirty, Italo-and-EBM inspired house. The pleasingly sunny "Serengeti Drive" is more of a stripped-back Italo-disco bubbler (admittedly with dream-wave flourishes), while "Mysteries of the Deep" offers an intergalactic romp through cold-wave pastures with only cheap old synths and drum machines for company.
Review: The partnership of Kassem Mosse and Beatrice Dillon; Dillon Wendel is a place for the two respected artists to explore soundscapes, aesthetics and synthesis in pastures aeons away from the dancefloors they're most familiar with. Both compositions weighing in over 15 minutes, they're experiences which challenge form and convention; "Pulse" ripples with its namesake, a texture that buzzes and drones in endless waves while "High" mutates a warmer, grainer tone with dizzying effect.
Review: If you've ever wanted some straight-up italo disco but then wondered where to find it, where to start, who to ask, then Dark Entries have sorted you right out. As usual, the label come through strong, and this time they reissue an italo disco classic by Brand Image (T.Scarfone and M.Scarabelli) originally released in 19983, and representing the genre with flying colours. "Are You Loving?" contains the 1980's in every sense of the word: quirky, melancholic vocals riding over a grainy drum machine beat, and accompanied by massive synth stabs and an inimitable sort of groove - simply lovely. There's an instrumental on the flip just in case you love the sounds but are slightly scared by the power of the vocals...