Review: It's common knowledge now that #.4.26. is Ilian Tape mainman Dario Zenker, who under this alias released a slew of hard hitting DJ tools on cult label Frozen Border - and this is his first new material under the name since five years. From the sheer terror of dynamic opener "Mono Middle", a dystopian electro number saturated in dense lo-fi fuzz, the broken beats continue on the minimal boom and thump of "Whenever Voi". But it's the B side that proclaims no more Mr. Nice Guy here, with the slamming old school energy of "Free Upload" calling to mind the early '90s sound of Djax or Pro-Jex, while "Van Cul" again demonstrates Zenker's fine ability to weave broken beat arrangements into epic, big room techno bangers.
Review: Styrax's alphabetized Specials series reaches its fourth volume (or Styrax I / Styrax J to use the correct parlance) with four typically sumptuous examples of archival house. 154's delightfully fuzzy "Daze" opens proceedings, which will cause much misty eyed reminiscing for anyone who indulged in the 2004 Delsin released album Strike it first appeared on. Alongside it, Damon Lamar's luxuriously paced "Rising Sun" is borrowed from Tetrode Music, its intoxicating swirls of kaleidoscopic textures every bit as potent as when it first surfaced. The flipside tracks are naturally in a similar vein with some 2003 bounciness from Claro Intelecto complemented by "Dat America", Lowtec's 1999 jam for the Playhouse imprint.
Review: The ever impressive Vancouverites 1800HAIGHTSTREET are back on Lobster Theremin sub label Mork with their second release, which follows up 2015's Heldled EP. Hardware driven, all analogue jams conjuring a glacial style of northern soul from the Pacific Northwest can be heard throughout the Age EP. From the steely and trance-inducing loops of the title track (reminiscent of classic Savvas Ysatis or G-Man), the cavernous and emotive greyscale deepness of "Ankh" or the contemplative industrial textures of "Rest".
Review: London label No More Dreams are back with more dry-as-a-bone techno reductions by Sweden's Axel Backman. This will appeal to fans of Waveform Transmissions era Jeff Mills (particularly on the savage and cyclical grind of "93") or classic Regis and Surgeon. Shadowy British duo Rezzett get onboard for a remix of "94" on the flip , where the Trilogy Tapes affiliated artists replace the gutsy tribal stomp of the original with a deep and slow burning rendition that slithers away beneath dense tape saturation and hiss -much like a vivid dream sequence captured to VHS. Bold stuff indeed. Tip!
Review: Frustrated Funk, Shopwrec and Central Processing Unit are just some of the quality labels on which the enigmatic 214 has delivered his wayward strains of electro and techno. This new single for Lunar Disko is straight-up, high calibre business, as per usual, starting with the mesmerising pads and alluring soundscapes of "The Breakfast Club", a beat-driven escapade through a wave of majestic synths. "Lunar Landing" is more on the Dutch electro side of things, thanks to its sub-aquatic beats and general demeanour while, on the flip, "Jade" injects some Chicago house live through an industrial filter, and "Hurley" liquifies its synths down to a thick pool of sonics and subtle beats. Gorgeous music.
Review: Surface Records has never pulled any punches as one of the UK's toughest techno labels, and The 65D Mavericks have embodied the same spirit with their charged, lyrically provocative approach. After a lengthy hiatus label and artist are back in action, and sounding as fierce as ever. "False Prophets" is not for the faint hearted - an avalanche of thunderous drums and expletive-laden diatribes. "Cosmic Drift" is marginally more meditative, but still positively unhinged in its execution. "You Lost Your Mind" flails around a muddy, punky swamp of deviant sonic behaviour, and "Immovable (dub)" throws one last curveball into the long grass, stripping out the bark without losing the bite of this proudly individual group of techno marauders.
Review: Fresh from serving up some savage "Rave Reworks" on an ultra-limited 12" single, techno's leading number crunchers return with an EP of fresh studio jams. As usual, what's on offer is intense, full-throttle and mind-altering in the extreme. Check, for example, opener (and title track) "000000005", where increasingly ragged, wayward and psychedelic acid lines surge forwards over a stomping, kick-drum dominated beat, or"000000006", an acid techno onslaught that waves a glow-stick towards the Halcyon days of German techno-trance. The acid-fired '90s techno revivalism continues on the flip with two more chunks of sweaty, mind-altering peak-time insanity. Not one for the faint hearted.
Review: The shady, provocative artist who goes by the name of 99Letters is back with a selection of mesmerising techno-not-techno tracks for the young and audacious Dalmata Daniel label. As with the rest of this producer's music, these jittery, improvisational outsider tunes have got the sound of the cassette hiss very much at the forefront of the mix, and you can almost hear the cogs of those reel-to-reels turning gloriously. "Neo Life" is a pallid, dreamy stratosphere of beats and pads, but the lead tune "Untold Future" is where we really begin to hear 99Letters' style, that dubby, hazy kind of techno that travels on the borders of dance music and electronica. "Cooper" is similarly washed-out, except that here the beat arrangement has got more in common with electro than tech, while "Neo Life (TRP dub)" is a solid, acid-ridden squelcher with a magnificent layer of distortion and analogue funk.
Review: Laboratory Instinct grace our shelves with the third in a quartet of 12 inch releases that act as the vinyl version for A Guy Called Gerald's recent and rather sleek ''Tronic Jazz'' album. Your attention on Side A will dominated by the spectral dalliance with vintage Detroit techno mechanics of ''Iland'', with expertly layered syncopation reverberating around to a backdrop of cavernous throbbing bass and dreamy synth lines. This contrasts nicely with the neo techno futurism of ''Just Soul'' with melancholic strings slipping between tense off-kilter drum programming and bubbling atmospherics. Proceedings shift up a gear on ''Round Eco,'' which pulsates with menacing KiNK-ish energy, with an odd vocal murmur forming the driving groove around which Simpson wraps glacial keys and deviant bass twinges. Closing track ''The Dip'' oscillates wildly with B movie sci fi synth lines and scratching metallic tones.
Review: While the name may be new, A New Line (Related) is supposedly the work of an already established musician, although Kimochi was never a label that cared about hype. The music stands just fine on its own, digging into the kind of dusty and dusky house and techno formations that the label has forged its hand-sprayed identity on. There's plenty of ambient techno twirls to be enjoyed on the likes of "Dancing On Soft Borders", while the beats melt away entirely on "After A Short Illness" and grandiose EP closer "RIYL Failures". Once again Kimochi comes up with the kind of meaningful variations on the 4/4 framework that keep our record bags full and our souls enriched.
Review: Since 2011, or what we could describe as the rebirth of vintage electronic music and the muddled, increasingly convoluted evolution of 'bass' music, Nick Harris aka A Sagittariun has been providing our charts, and the wider scene, with consistently high levels future-proof techno. Slightly Ajar is his third release of 2017 already, and it comes through on his own Elastic Dreams imprint with a squadron of deep and effortlessly mesmerizing electronic shapes. "Stingray" opens with an ocean of euphoric pads and industrial rhythms coming together as one, and is followed elegantly by the much deeper, more reflective broken patterns of "Burning Crystal". On the B-side, "An Infinite Number Of Possibilities" kicks the gears into motion with a much bouncier, club-centric techno groove filled with surreal melodies, and "720 Degrees" buries a load of bleeps into a hypnotic bundle of sci-fi sonics for total dancefloor domination. Effective and ultra-sleek - the lot of them!
Review: Nick Harris aka A Sagittariun lands on Bristol's Idle Hands with a smacking two-tracker for the techno puritans! Fair enough, the flow and structure of "Pseudo Science" might not be typically classed as traditional techno, but there is so much freedom in its half-step beats and circular percussion shots, making this a beautiful relic of the sort of dance music that was being made just before the rise of 'minimal'. On the B-side, "Heavy Manners" is slower to pick up pace, kicking off with a frosty, barren procession of hi-hats and mild beats, both giving way to the much more powerful swing of the pads and harmonies in the backdrop. Excellent.