Review: While Hendrick Grothe's Blac Kolor output is usually reserved for his own Basic Unit Productions, he has recently stepped out onto new, and highly suitable, imprints that span the entirety of the wider 'industrial' domain. Hands Productions, from Germany, is one such label that seems to work very well with Grothe's bottomless array of deathly sonics, and Awakening marks his first LP outside of BUP. These 14 tracks are well-balanced and well-placed, rising in momentum with each new kick drum; our favourites have to be "Loneliness", a downpour of industrial dread ike no other, "Awakening" itself for the quasi-techno approach, and the harsh, violent kicks of "Nano Creator". All together, this is shaping up to be a rather special affair to have on our shelves. 500 numbered copies, so act fast!
Review: Subconscious Algorithms kicked off with the dulcet tones of Norken, and now turns its attention to another champion of the UK underground in the form of Derek Carr. There's much to draw parallels on between the artists, as they both explore the outer realms of expressive, delicate and most importantly melodic electro, with Carr sounding especially harmonious on the intricate programming of "Osc 1". "Trust In You" is a more angular, acidic affair still steeped in Motor City soul, while "Beneath The Ice" takes a lighter, almost synth-pop indebted approach. "Blood Moon" rounds the record off in a swirl of twitchy drums and lingering strings.
Review: The recent news that the Jealous God label is planning to wind down was slightly softened by the impressive selection of releases that will appear before it does. Chief amongst those was this EP from Champagne Mirrors, an alias of Blackest Ever Black contributor Alex Barnett. Extended Communication Techniques is as dark, unsettling and creepy as you'd expect, with occasional shards of light - a headline melody here and there, with similarly rare slivers of woozy electronic positivity - helping to balance out Barnett's dystopian tendencies. It's one of those sets that benefits from repeated listens, with each successive play revealing additional layers of moody detail.
Review: Madrid's Jose Rico of Downbeat Records has also previously released on Semantica and ELEVE and now teams up with Leonid as Cygnuss for some soulful deep techno on Night Drive. Freebeat has previously brought us Chicago deep4life legends Chris Gray and Da Rand Land: so they know what's what! We particularly enjoyed the high tech soul of "Gamma" and "Delta"; emotive tracks which were reminiscent of the classic vibes of Transmat or Strobe; you'd swear they were lost tapes from 1990. The beatless journey "Ycyg" has that early 90's kind of classic vibe too but more of the UK bleep techno variety. There's a right stomper in the form "Arsec" whose tough as nails 909 and 303 workout is reminiscent of the best of Plus 8. Definitely one for the nostalgists, matter of fact it's highly recommended!
Review: Discrete Circuit is Berlin based producer Andreas Horn, who some of you may know as boss of the Aussie-Germanic connection known as the Away Music crew. Formerly a duo but now helmed solo by Horn, Discrete Circuit has had releases thus far on Dutch powerhouse Delsin and DVS1's Mistress. "Road Force" is a tough and gritty hardware focused jam, that relies on simple and subtle elements: a basic monosynth arpeggio and a 909 and it's all you need to stir up a frenzy here! The metallic hiss of said drum computer's hi-hats, in addition to a wonky analogue synth riff and overdriven kicks make up "Controlled Error" while B side cut "Circuitry" is something different altogether on this experimental industrial/noise cut.
Review: Detroit techno hero DJ Bone is ever prolific these days, with his Differ-Ent alias releasing an epic triple LP release on Don't Be Afraid last year. A Piece Of Beyond marks the second DJ Bone studio album, and it finds him in an exploratory mood. "It Begins" is a unique exercise in synth wobbles and military drum programming, while "The Stalker" heads into the deepest and farthest corners of the quintessential Motor City techno sound. "The Chase" takes on a cosmic, break-infected stance that calls to mind spiritual jazz as much as techno, while there's more classic styles to be enjoyed on "Dreamers 9" and the absolutely stomping "Sweat".
Review: It's early days for Jakob Panthel and his Faune alias, but he more than steps up to the plate as London label Ornate Music invite him to present his vision for immersive, techno tinged deep house. "5.34 AM" is aptly named, the undulating chord pulse at the heart of the track aiming for the woozy hour of the dance before dawn breaks through. "Reduit" is a more sprightly affair, using similar ingredients but pushing a brighter line in synths amidst the raw drums. "Grindewald" meanwhile heads out into more ambient techno territory with its plush pads and snaking arpeggios, soothing the feisty club-ready energy of the previous two tracks.
Review: Over the course of his career, Max Graef has proved to be rather adaptable, variously turning his hand to dusty deep house, revivalist jazz-funk, drowsy hip-hop beats and nu-jazz. On this EP he touches on many of those styles, but it's the angular, techno-influenced analogue electronics, Motor City chords and shuffling beats of opener "Thrillhouse & Bonus Beat" that really sets the pulse racing. Graef's obsession with raw, lo-fi sounds is further explored on "2 Cool 4 U", which sounds like a cross between tropical house, early UK bleep and wayward techno, while closer "Bunds" sees him wrap deep space electronics around a sparse, pitched-up, high-register drum machine beat. As for the rest of the EP, it's deep, dusty, jazzy and really rather good.
Review: Prolific L.I.E.S. cohort Gunnar Haslam inaugurates the Kavalanic Languages label with some of his sinewy, head-twisting hardware techno machinations, showing us just how to make militant techno as thrilling as possible and leaving ample room for experimental weirdness as well. Opening track "Sostanze" is a taut and wiry beast that will lay waste to mild-mannered crowds, clubs and DJs, while "Atayalic" ramps up the industrial influences for a scary-in-a-good-way romp through evilest techno. "Ururu" is less malevolent but no less kinetically charged, firing off a wealth of pinging percussive synth tones that sound rather modular in nature. Beatless experiment "Ialysas" is no slouch either, pinging out unsettling tones of a discordant nature and creating something quite compelling in the process.
Review: William J.Youngman's Headless Horseman project has created a new and exciting techno sound that was only an offshoot of EBM and industrial in years past. Stepping out of his own imprint, the dark horseman lands on Tommy Four Seven's excellent 47 label, tearing through the speakers from the get-go thanks to the toxic sounds of "Revelation", and the even nastier sway of "Concussion". Metallic and hard-nosed in absolutely every way, "Locust" follows up on that with a menacing pounce of beats and cavernous bass, while "Gravity" breaks the techno groove for something much more in line with the likes of Powell's Diagonal output. Big boy sounds.
Review: For 22 years now Zhark Recordings Berlin has been operating relentlessly on an alternative technoid vision. The keystone of this vision is an approach of full artistic autonomy in full front against the demons of the momentariness, reproduction and stagnation, which were ever present in these past 20 years. This endeavor intensified over the years leading to numerous releases on all types of medium. With the vinyl catalogue number 30 the big K is setting out ONE more TIME to settle the score presenting yet another wrenching collection of DANCE Variations. The Haunting chains of a demoralized sorcerer in HINRICH, the shattering congas of a sinister entity in RATTLE DISCO, the euphoric bawling of a merciless god in LET ME FLY AWAY FROM YOU, the alternating motives of growing tension, clarity and unavoidable obscuration in the UNDERNEATH the 4th Alignment. All these motives are entangled in layers of a fierce percussive bombardment.
Review: Moscow's Isaiah Tapes are also the guys behind the great Baptismo Alpinismo and Longlife Python sub labels, which are doing great things at the moment. Next up for the label is Charles Torris aka Le Matin, who after a bunch cassette only releases over the past few years releases his first full length. The LP album's six tracks and accompanying bonus CD traverse the galaxy of lowdown smack electro; reminiscent of Dopplereffekt like on "Ma Voisine La Pute" or "Yeah", wacky modular synth improvisation as heard on the charmingly titled "Cat Vomit" or deeply sublime minimal techno as heard on "M05 Michel Platini". Brilliant album from start to finish. Tip!
Review: UntilMyHeartStops makes a welcome return to the fray with this sublime four-tracker from emergent Swedish producer Martinou, previously found sneaking around the sewer sender label. As is customary with UMHS releases, the conventions of house and techno are masked by a veil of mystery, where billowing pads and crooked rhythms dig past common or garden variety club tracks to offer something more sublime. From the slender, shimmering "Unaware" to the weighty thrum of "Excessive, Surely" and on to the delicately poised "I Don't Wanna Wanna Feel", Martinou proves himself to be entirely in tune with the hidden depths of the label.
Review: Romania's newest source of experimental minimalist, Listen2Me, digs up a new talent by the name of MGCH, and shoots him - or her - onto our shelves with this small marvel of an EP. "87" is a delightful tune, a glitchy minimal groove that travels between house, noise and electro with utter ease and pure elegance, a sound that is matured further via the rhythmic sway of the moodier, dubbier folds and clicks of "Is This It". There's a trio of leftfield charmers on the flipside, spear-headed by the warm and placid glow of the near beatless "What For", evolved into something of a lounge house mood on "How You See", and tied off by a dubwise reinterpretation of "87" by Serb. TIP!!