Review: Dutchmen Betonkust and Palmbomen II are back on local institution Dekmantel, following up last year's well received Center Parcs LP - which was recorded in the bunker of an abandoned theme park. The retro, grainy and lo-fi qualities that characterise their work is evident again here on Parallel B. This time recorded in a bungalow somewhere in the Dutch countryside, it finds a distinct middle ground between Palmbomen II a.k.a. Kai Hugo's lo-fi classic house aesthetics and Betonkust a.k.a. Swiere Westveen's taste for gritty electro, acid and Italo sounds. It pays fictional homage to a now deceased famous TV star, who instead on working on the screen, took up a new direction in making music.
Review: For his first outing of 2019, Adam Beyer has turned over the parts to his 2014 single "Teach Me" to Belgium's first lady of banging, acid-fuelled techno, Amelie Lens. She subsequently serves up two throbbing, peak-time ready revisions, with the A-side "Main Mix" offering a near perfect blend of booming, kick-drum driven beats, military snare fills, cut-up late night vocal samples and distorted, mind-altering riffs. As the title suggests, the flipside "Acid Remix" sees Lens indulge her love of mind-altering TB-303 acid lines, brilliantly wrapping them around a springier drum track, EBM-influenced melodic motifs and more pulsating, manipulated vocal loops.
Adam Beyer & Enrico Sangiuliano - "Preset Heaven" (8:17)
Timmo - "Muzik" (6:11)
Pig&Dan - "La Bruja" (6:37)
Julian Jeweil - "Nasa" (6:11)
Review: Some serious peak time weapons for the main room on offer here, from the ever reliable Swedish label Drumcode. Usual heroes of the label such as Luigi Madonna, Sam Paganini and Joseph Capriati step aside for some other equally reliable staples. On the A, side label boss Adam Beyer teams up with Enrico Sangiuliano on the evocative and life affirming "Preset Heaven" which takes its cues from early trance with its amazing chord progression. It is something more typical of the label next, on the pummelling warehouse stomp of "Muzik" by Bulgaria's Timmo. On the flip, there's more trance nostalgia on offer again - this time from legends Pig & Dan on the hypnotic/melodic bliss of "La Bruja" which we could imagine melting the minds of festival crowds well into the new year. Finally they save the best for last with French peak time specialist Julian Jeweil, serving up the furious, tunneling and strobe-lit ultraviolence of "Nasa" which will have your adrenaline going from the first beat. It has been a stellar year for the powerhouse label, with great releases by Moby, Dubfire and newcomer Layton Giordani.
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.
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.
Review: Given that legendary London DJ Steve Bicknell was one of the earliest champions of "proper techno" in the UK, it's been heartening to see his recent renaissance. Renewed interest in his 1990 productions has allowed him to issue a string of previously unheard gems from the vaults. Awakening The Past takes this approach, too, serving up a trio of previously unreleased gems from 1998 - the wonderfully trippy, late night techno loop jam "Physical Life", ragged acid workout "Natural Vibrations" and even more psychedelic "Fearing The Mind's Fears" - and a cut recorded earlier this year in Berlin. Interestingly, the latter - an intense, bleeping, modular-sounding slammer entitled "Conscious Awakening" - sounds like it could have been recovered from the same dusty DAT as the other tracks, despite being 100% new.
Review: The brilliant Chronicle has been quiet for a minute, but comes back in fine form with this keenly curated various artists 12" that re-affirms the label's vision of cerebral, deep and driving techno. Damon Wild shows his tender side on the gorgeous, immersive "Constant Search", while Ben Sims brings a tougher palette to bear on peak time percussive belter "Vicious Cycle". Steve Bicknell summons a fearsome, metallic dervish on the monolithic "Chapter Of Self", and Tadeo takes things bleepy, loopy and uplifting on "X Marks The Spot". It's a 12" of stunning modern techno from start to finish.
Review: Digging deep into the Chicago Rave vaults to re-issue the debut EP from Billy Nightmare aka "Mystic Bill" Torres. Growing up in Miami, Bill was involved in various parts of the music industry, from working at Flamingo Record Pool, to playing guitar for the band Life In Sodom (80's Synth/Goth band). His interest in both House & Industrial music inspired him to make his move to the Windy City. Bill quickly became involved in the night scene with residencies at clubs like Shelter, Crobar, & Smart Bar. His studio work began with a remix of Kay Ladrae's "Lack Of Love" with Vince Lawrence, followed by a string of releases, including an LP on Trax Records. He has recently relaunched two record labels and several releases and remixes out each year.
'Reality Check' was released in 1996 on Woody McBride's label Sounds. Originally the project was to be titled " Billy's Nightmare", but to avoid being jinxed for life, Torres decided to switch it to Billy Nightmare. He put the Mystic Bill alias aside, got a hair cut, changed his sound and became this new persona. 'Reality Check' consists of 4 tracks, recorded at Mirage Studios in Chicago in 1996. Two tracks on the A-side are dark thumpers and will haunt your head for days. Side B has 2 versions of the same song, lighter and funkier in mood both show the diversity Mystic Bill is capable of producing. All songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. Each EP is housed in a custom designed jacket by Eloise Leigh featuring a 90s photo of Billy Nightmare staring into TV static and includes a postcard with notes.
Review: Berlin based retrovert Binh returns for another much anticipated edition of his Time Passages series with Lost 'N' Rex EP, which follows up some great ones of late by Evan Baggs, Metamorphic Interface and Omar. Featuring six doses of old fashioned techno and electro that take their cues from the early '90s sound; from wacky and strobed-out jam of "Rice In" which you can imagine him playing at one of his regular marathon sets in his hometown, the old school jack of "Waescherei" that calls to mind Blake Baxter's early sounds on KMS to the nefarious underwater electro of the title track which gives a respectful nod to Motor City legends Drexciya.
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: The mechanical techno industrialisms of MORD continue to eat their way into 2013 and the juggernaut doesn't look like it's going to stop either. The fifth release for Bas Mooy's new label is fuelled by analogue-acid legend Paul Birken who turns in what's arguably his heaviest EP yet - and that's saying something. It's the ultimate four-tracker to annihilate the club. First, let the cyclic cyborg march of "Repeat Offender" barge its way in. This will allow "Funnel Fiends" to blow the roof off with its machine gun drums and staccato horns, while the big bad battering ram that is "Big Rig Barnacle" will take care of the dancefloor, allowing the self explanatory "Rubbish Bag Batting Cage" to take care of the rest. Goodnight.
Review: Scott Ferguson's highly collectable and mysterious concept was a seriously hot ticket with total anonymity running through the early releases. This ensured the full focus was on the vibes, grooves and dancefloor. Now, three years after the second EP 3, he gives the project one final hoorah with a signature range of physical late night styles. Ranging from smoky, slo-mo hypnotically plodding soul of "Track One" to all-out acid frazzles of "Track Three", it's a fittingly broad and on-point way to end a great concept series.
Review: Crisp Recordings is a record label and production company founded by legend DJ Ra-Soul and Chicago by way of Memphis' Don Crisp. Black in Time is the moniker used by the pair which has resulted in three previous collaborative releases on the label, and they're back with the fourth after a long hiatus. Now they present the politically charged "Democracy Is Hypocrisy" with its powerful narrative fuelled by a groovy minimal acid arrangement. Comes with a handy instrumental version on the flip, in addition to a rough and ready acid dub that's perfect for getting weird at the afterhours. Much crossover appeal anticipated on this little treasure -tip!
Review: While George Thompson AKA Black Merlin has released rather a lot of fine material in recent times, we still think that he saves his best for Berceuse Heroique - or at least his darkest and most clandestine aural explorations. For proof, check this inspired double-pack of creepy, pitch-black workouts, which we think contains some of his most potent work to date. There's the triple-time, paranoid deep techno throb of "Void", the faintly threatening dystopian dancefloor shuffle of "Machine", and the clanking, industrial-fired hypnotism of "R24" and "Mechanic". While it tends towards the paranoid and unsettling, Thompson has included one sun-bright shard of light: the blissful, beat-free, intertwined synthesizer lines of closing cut "Mod".
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: Over the past couple of years, George Thompson AKA Black Merlin has made some of the most intoxicating, otherworldly electronic music around. The genius of his music lies in the way Thompson fixes creepy, paranoid aural textures and faintly haunting lead lines with rhythmic and instrumental elements inspired by trips to South East Asia and Oceania. He's at it again here, too, wrapping chugging polyrhythms and uncomfortable electronics in chiming, Steve Reich style melodic cycles on brilliant opener "DE 2.1". The track that follows, "PKL", is arguably even more unsettling in its hypnotic melodic approach, twinkling sound palette and mind-bending electronic shifts. Arguably best of all, though, is epic B-side "MM5", a sparse and loopy affair that could well be capable of inducing hallucinations in even the most sober of listeners.