Review: More majestic electro workouts from Chris "214" Roman, a producer who has been serving up slabs of tightly wound machine funk since the dawn of the decade. He opens his first Frustrated Funk outing for three years with the bittersweet deep electro shuffle of "Growing Old Together" before breaking up the beats, ratcheting up the bleeps and cranking out the crackles on alien funk throb-job "Last Dance". Over on the flip, "Dislocated" is a high-tempo slab of end of days electro full of growling noises and creepy chords, while "Voice Check" is picturesque, dreamy and life affirming: a triumphantly positive and melodious conclusion to another stunning collection of cuts.
Review: The Advent made for a perfect addition to the formidable Thema catalogue, and now he's back with the second volume of his "Dorian Blue" series. There are plentiful loops to get creative with, but the fully-formed tracks have their own cyclical qualities to inspire technically-minded DJs. "Structures" is an urgent, tightly wound piledriver, while "Interactive Loop" and "Digitize" cuts both take a sprightly, Motor City-styled approach to electro. With loops derived from these classy tracks and more besides, there's a lot to get the creative juices flowing as well as bodies popping.
Review: Amato brings the kind of nasty electro business that fits right in on Helena Hauff's mighty Return To Disorder stable, and you know it's serious from the opening strains of the VHS noir monster "Escape From Grenoble 2018". "Hydraulic Funk" takes things slower, coming on like a freaky Frak flipside and sounding excellent for it. "Machine Outil" takes things in a more muscular direction that sounds built for bench presses and body jerks - the consummate peak time sledgehammer. Umwelt takes this sturdy starting point and demolishes it into a hailstorm of acid malevolence that'll melt your face clean off.
Review: Aphelion is a Greek producer who is part of the Equations Collective, and here he offers up his first ever release. Clearly well schooled in production, the atmospheres of his tracks belie his debutant status as he kicks off with the mutant bass and pounding kicks of "Volatile Radiance". More warped bass characterises the sparse and eerie "Cosmic Vibrations" before Silicon Scally aka Carl Finlow heads off in a more menacing direction on his remix of "What You Want". The original is a more haunting and paranoid affair that has you looking over your shoulder.
Review: Assembler Code & Jensen Interceptor are one of electro's most devastating duos right now. Mechatronica welcome them for four more hard hitting jams after their "Vapour Waves" EP on this label got plenty of people talking. These are tunes with an old school feel that will blow up your bass bins and tear apart your tweeters with their mix of low end heaviness and bright melodic patterns. Superbly urgent drum programming sweeps you off your feet and races you through astral skies on "Noise Theory", "Otherwise" has a raggedy-ass broken beat and "Day 1" has a blistering bassline of the highest order.
Review: Detroit duo Aux88 always danced to a different drum than their Motor City peers, developing a ludicrously weighty trademark sound that put massive, mind-mangling analogue bass and gut-punching electro beats at the heart of the action. "Direct Drive", a 1995 release that has long been hard to find (hence this much-needed reissue), is one of the best examples of their distinctive sound. The title track (side A on this edition) is little more than a raw, thrusting bassline, snappy machine beats, spacey pads and occasional Kraftwerk samples, but it's brilliantly floor-friendly and brilliantly executed - Detroit body music for those who like their club cuts sub-heavy. Elsewhere, "Aux Express (DJ K1 Mix)" is a bouncy electro jam and the short "Bytes" tracks are wonky vocal samples for creative DJs.
Review: Not On Earth's first release sold out in quick time - unsurprising given the reputation of Frankfurt based founders Bodin & Jacob. Their second is a various artists affair that shows off some of the talents they have unearthed, while Bodin also reappears with "A Walk In The Park." It's a brilliantly militant cut with clipped, marching beats and rasping bass squelches, and elsewhere Philipp Boss opens the EP with the slippery electro rhythms of "Lava". Griezman's "Decheterie" is an uptempo bit of proper first wave tech house a la Terry Francis. Closing out this more than handy EP is the hard edged electro-tech of "Zoober" from Martyne.
Review: Curtis Electronix is a brand new electro label out of Holland (where else?) run by CEM3340. The label is said to be is inspired by Doug Curtis, the father of the "CEM" chip as well as being a synthesizer pioneer and innovator, and the boss himself is behind this notable first EP. His brand of electro is a crunchy one, with distorted drums frying brains and computerised synth arps jagging their way about the mix. Next to three busy, textured originals is a remix from The Exaltics that is as raw as they come.
Review: The force is strong in this electrifying new EP from DAED, who last appeared on this label in 2017 on a VA release. There are shades of IDM to his complex synths and melodies, while kinetic broken beat drum programming powers the tracks along. The mood is melancholic on "Aria" which is so frantic it feels like it might eat itself, "Voidal" has fizzing, icy textures that will tie you in knots before "H2FSBF6" really pulls of some impressive synth acrobatics. "Ephemeris" is the warp speed closer that tarps you in a gorgeous digital world.
Review: London-based retroverts Art Of Dark return with a wicked double header here for their third vinyl release. Antonin Hifda aka Daif takes up the A side, offering up the hardcore rave reductions of "Another Version Of The Truth" followed by the deep down Detroit styled electro beats of "Devil". On the flip, it's all about newcomers DC EFX who follow through with the electro bass vibe on the absolutely booming "Expansionz", before closing with the bass-driven acid techno "The Roller Express".
Review: Ovine build on the momentum of their first EP with another new house offering that is beautifully deep. It features two tracks each from Dan Piu and Pohl, and they all hack back to dreamy Italo, classic Mr Fingers and the more pensive Chicago greats. "Depresismatica" is a real highlight with its meandering basslines and infinite cosmic horizons. "Mello Phone" offers more pixelated melodies and busy beats and "Space In The Distance" has the sort of freaky edges and dusty analog textures house lovers always fall for. Already, then, this is a label that is setting a high standard.
Review: Unlike some in the growing electro scene, Datassette has been serving up far-sighted electronic music - both club electro and what some call "IDM" - since the dawn of the century. This, though, marks his first appearance on C.P. Smith's incomparable Central Processing Unit label. It's a pleasingly varied affair, with the British producer storming between club electro/early Autechre fusion ("Kestrel Manoeuvres In The Dark"), acid-tinged, beat-free electronic symphonies ("To The Scullery!"), hard-edged and suitably intergalactic Drexciya style workouts ("Stoatle Excelsior") and sparse, glitchy electro minimalism (wonky EP highlight "Polyhedron Navigator"). Even by CPU's infamously high standards, this is a particularly fine EP.
Review: We're always keen to hear from Berlin label Vortex Traks. This 11th offering sees them eschew their recent run of Various Artists EPs to instead focus on five cuts from Datawave. The Belgian artist's sound operates in some distant galaxy, watched over by his forebearers such as Dopplereffekt and Drexciya. Crashing hits open "Implant" before a serrated lead signals ready for takeoff. The intensity only ramps up through the warp speed synths of "Immune Compound" and corrugated bass rumbles of "Hybrid Structure". "Proceed" is the most alien of the lot, and "Thin Line" closes out on a mysterious vibe that will keep you coming back for more.
Review: La dame Noir is a Marseille-based label who first crept onto vinyl with a crucial various artists release back in 2016. Now they're back with more of that noirish modern disco deviance that made them an exciting proposition first time around. "Take The Shock Away" is a bittersweet groover by Dawad and label co-founder Relatif Yann, with pitch-perfect vocals by Mounissa which sounds strong on its own. The label however has drafted in a list of big hitters to deliver remixes, from Vox Low's synthwave laced trip to Pete Herbert's punchy electro-disco burner. Whichever version you plump for, the quality is undeniable on this surefooted 12".
Review: Given the label's soulful roots, it's perhaps a little surprising to find Eglo championing a wild, wonky, machine-made EP full of angular electro, IDM, house and techno fusions from debutant Destiny71z. It's apparently the first of three EPs from the little-known producer, who used modular kit and dusty analogue gear to create his unpredictable but undoubtedly brilliant electronic workouts. We're particularly enjoying the zany Autechre-does-two-step-garage flex of "Softbeta" and the weighty, bass-powered crankiness of the artist's self-titled track ("Destiny71z"), but the jazzy, sun-bright breeziness of "Foodprogramvoltage" is also superb, and arguably more in keeping with Eglo's eclectic-but-soulful ethos. Either way, an eye-opening EP that's well worth checking.
Review: Prolific but underrated Motor City producer Detroit's Filthiest makes a comment on the falsehoods of society with his latest EP. But there is nothing fake about his talent: he manipulates his machines in compelling fashion here, pairing perfectly squelchy bass and synthetic synth textures with the most gorgeous and organic piano keys imaginable. "Baby Makin Music" is laden with romantic chords, while "Mothership Has Landed" is more edgy and unsettled. On the flip, "No Strings Attached" is a playful and jazzy electro cut that makes way for the equally excellent "Social Engineering". In these times of electro trendiness, this EP still manages to stand out.
Review: Jupiter4 is an Argentinean record label founded by Dj Loui (now based in Berlin) that has presented releases by the likes of Steve Murphy, Vin Sol and Vincent Floyd among others in the past - but it's all about him on the label's fifth release. Jam packed with tough and gritty electro jams that reek of hardware, feel the high-power sonic waves of the appropriately titled "Keep Breakbeat Evil", until he goes off-kilter with the contorted "HARDchip". Flip over for the bass heavy dystopia of "SQ80 System" on the flip, which receives a rework by one of the undisputed masters of the electro sound, Carl Finlow - respect!
Review: New label Nuances de Nuit kick off in fine style with a various artists 12" that draws on some emergent names to lay out a vision of cross-style dance music that favours the deeper end of the pool. Things get going with an organ-rich house bumper from DJ Steaw that pumps in all the right places, before Armless Kid switches things up with an untitled slice of dynamic, richly layered electro. T. Jacques thumps out a crafty, swinging cut with techy inclinations and oodles of groove, and E. Wan takes things in a more linear, deep techno direction laden with gorgeous synth work and plenty of artful effects processing.
Review: Electronic Leatherette continue their trips into the ethereal and seductive world of minimal wave with this new single from label founders Dmitry Distant and Arnaud Lazlaud. "De Ton Absence" is an artfully sculpted synth ballad bathed in reverb and Lazlaud's dreamy vocals - the end result is something both yearning and sinister, like the best minimal wave should be. On the flip, the balladry gets a shot of pure adrenaline as Timothy J Fairplay creates a taut, feisty electro belter out of the raw ingredients for a remix that should find favour with more uptempo dancefloors.
Review: After launching the Gudu label with a superb EP of her own productions, Peggy Gou has recruited Ed Upton AKA DMX Krew - one of the most reliable producers in the house and techno scene - to handle release number two. Upton is in fine form from the off, sprinting his way through the atmospheric late night chords, garage style organ motifs, bustling acid lines and jacking drums of opener "CJ Vibe". He moves further towards vintage Motor City techno territory on the lusciously melodious but percussively punchy peak-time skip of "DXIOO", before reaching for the boogie synths and proto-house drums on futurist electrofunk number "Don't You Wanna Play?". To round things off, Upton brilliantly dips the tempo and layers up spacey melodies over classic analogue bass on "110 Series".
Review: Bjarki's BBBBBB label has carved out its own unique niche in the techno world and next to occupy it is core label artist Stian "EOD" Gjevik. The former Rephlex artist shows off his magnificently complex and busy yet harmonic and melodic sound across five fantastically restless cuts that has lead synths taking you down a number of rabbit holes. Calming pads vie for your attention on "(Untitled) (W-R6)" while the acid laced "The Battery Poles (Are Conic!)" is so bright and shiny it'll have you reaching for your sunglasses. Few people speak so freely through their machines as this man right now.
Review: "Supernature" is Escape Artist's sophomore EP on Salt Mines and is another stylish intersection between breaks, electro, techno and ambient. The music here is crisp and clean, with sleek lines and sharp edges making it all the more pure and serene sounding. "Carpentaria" is a scene-setting opener that builds on smeared pads without ever fully taking off, and "The Earth" repeats the trick but with more bubbling and organic percussion. "Silicone Valium" is a brilliantly trippy electro cut on fat and heavy kicks and the title track marks full lift off with a surging future-techno groove detailed with some old school breaks.
Review: Not An Animal regulars Ess O Ess are back with an effervescent 12" that spans starry-eyed electro and pastoral electronica. "Voice Inside" comes in French and English versions, depending on what flavour you want from the sultry spoken word turn on the top of the plush harmonics of the production. As well as the killer original track, there's choice remixes on offer too from The Backwoods and Craig Richards. The former takes a cosmic, trippy approach to the track, but keeps the focus sharp thanks to a snapping 4/4 beat. Craig Richards meanwhile takes things far away from the original with a brilliant slice of discordant electro weirdness for the after hours crowd.
Review: Electro is very much back in vogue, but for Steffi's vital Klakson label it's a sound that never went away. This EP is a particularly special one that welcomes Fastgraph, aka Dutchman Frank de Groodt, back into the fold more than a decade since his last official release (which also came on this label). These tracks are fast, funky machine music with crispy, crashing metal hits and warped synths that are made to devastate the dance floor. The frazzled bass of "Number 8" sure is pleasing, but to really make a mark, drop the manic lines and overdriven drums of "Interface" and see people really lose their minds.
Review: Unstoppable electro machine Carl Finlow (aka Silicon Scally) lands on Orson with more of that impeccable robo-funk he's so revered for. "Elastic Collisions" leads the charge with a tough and teasing workout that works around a heavy low end and plenty of sparkling sound design up top. "Octodecillion" keeps things on a dystopian tip, where a bleak future sounds as funky as it does ominous. "Probabilities" heads into a less floor-focused space where thick layers of buffed and polished synth wriggles collide in high-definition. "Mechanomics" completes the set with another taut belter geared towards the heads down section of the party.
Review: Following fine releases on Shipwrec, Natural Sciences and Return To Disorder, masked electro/techno misfit Galaxian (real name Mark Kastner) makes his first appearance on Ilian Tape. The Glasgow-based producer starts in suitably big fashion via "External Observer", where what sounds like an orchestra of synthesizers gets to work over a skittish, bass-heavy electro beat, before exploring more dystopian dancefloor pastures on the moody, alien-sounding and otherworldly "Fuzzy Clouds Of Potential Existence". On side B he gives his out-there interpretation of early jungle ("Coming Up For Air"), batters a broken computer into submission and makes electro gold out of it (the slightly melancholic "Mechanistic Control Fantasies") and soundtracks the end of days (or possibly Brexit) on weirdo closing cut "Terminal Phase".
Review: Helena Hauff returns to her own Return To Disorder label after last year's joyously received "Qualm" album on Ninja Tune. It's the first fully solo record Hauff has released herself, and it more than lives up to expectation. "Catso" is a wonderfully expressive slice of noirish electro draped in vintage synth arps and twinkling leads as enchanting as they are spooky. "Why Look At Animals" has a more low down funk, but once again sports the richly harmonic synth hooks to make this appeal right across the board. "The Brush" ups the tempo, but keeps things sparse and moody, while "Slim Filter" gets a touch more nasty and sounds utterly fantastic with it. Compared to her rabid DJ sets, these productions represent the more measured side of Hauff, but they're no less deadly.
Review: Three years after the "Illahertz EP" on Shipwrec Records, Jason McCracken makes this great come back on his own Advanced Robotiks imprint with heavy rotation from DJStingray, Helena Hauf, and the underground global Electro scene.