Review: Battista, John Swing and EMG's first hook-up under the SPS moniker - the thrillingly hard-to-pigeonhole Sintomi Di Gravita 12" - was arguably one of 2014's most slept-on records. Here they join forces for round two, delivering another two tracks that neatly sidestep the accepted norms of house and techno. A-side "Movimento (Consico Mix)" is a wonky chunk of well-swung, jazz-flecked deep house, smothered in filters and tipsy chords. Flip for the Inconsico Mix of the same track, a brilliantly far-out fusion of odd electronics, glitchy rhythms, shimmering synths and bubbling found sounds. It's hardly dancefloor-centric, but it's certainly really, really good.
Review: Default Records has returned with its second release after compiling a roster of artists who are committed to establishing presence in the scene by pushing boundaries and pursuing excellence. Camelia starts us off on the A side with *Transferring*, which presents itself in a light and airy atmosphere. Its playful percussive notes are juxtaposed against its hypnotic groove making for a warm and easy listen. Macarie follows with *Flu*, a vibrant and dance-inducing sludge of gritty, piercing elements that seamlessly blooms into an emotional melody that is driven by its tantalizing rhythm. Label boss Exander shows the heavier side of his creative spectrum on the B side with *Odyssey*. The fullness of this cut accompanied by its intriguing and directive vocal is only enhanced by its delicate features and attention to detail. Closing out the compilation is Lulla's *Distort Time* which reveals all its insides with a symphony of glitchy bleeps and blops all reinforced by a cadence of drums and groove that stirs it into an electric soup.
Review: Early in the year, forthright lo-fi techno experimentalist Delroy Edwards released an eccentric, 22-track, download-only album called Rio Grande. Here, he makes some of the highlights of that set available on vinyl for the very first time. It's an intriguing and largely enjoyable affair throughout, with the sometime L.I.E.S man following the glassy-eyed, recorded-from-the-radio Balearic warmth of "When I Think" with the stripped-back, noise-laden jack-track "Sugar Shack". These kinds of juxtapositions continue throughout, as Edwards flits between sweet and tactile downtempo doodles (see "Rio Grande"), clattering proto jack-tracks ("Let It Rock!") and hissing 1980s deep house bliss (the woozy brilliance of EP closer "Wild Illusions").
Review: Felix K's Hidden Hawaii is now a staple of Berlin-style techno, but describing it as such doesn't really do the label its full justice. That's because this isn't just another bunch of relentless club tracks; instead, the label has always been careful to release material that is prone to opening one's mind and allowing the techno genre to broaden its general outlook. This year, Felix K himself, alongside frequent associate DB1, have been focussing heavily on their latest Elemnt moniker, and this new EP is the latest iteration of this project. Split from 1-4, each mix of "Water" offers something that's just out of reach, a blend of morphing, techno-reminiscent sounds that never quite manage to take a full shape, or dissolve into straight-edged dance music. The hollowness, and the kinetic energy within that, is what we've always loved about this fine imprint, and we urge you to find that same piece of inspiration.
Review: Yu Asaeda's been putting out a whole range of quality, bass-centric sounds under the name ENA since the late 2000s, but these have come out on a rather sporadic basis. Appearances for the infamous 7even Recordings was followed by material on Samurai Horo, the excellent Hidden Hawaii and, more recently, the Samurai label's offshoot, Horo. Divided: Body is so much more than a mere 'bass' EP, and it actually manages to veer off into some pretty strange and imperceptible sounds that remind us of the material emanating from the PAN consortium. For instance, the opening "11th Divided" manages to create a raw, loose groove out of fractured synth sounds, which is followed up nicely by the swarming drones operating in the higher ends of "12th Divided". Over on the flip, "13th Divided" launches a subtle yet hefty groove made up of what sound like bass pops made from a monophonic synth, which leaves "14th Divided" to linger in its dreary pool of fuzzy drones and washed-up sonics. A massive, merited TIP!
Review: As part of Mura Oka, Louis Vial has already been spotted on the excellent Latency label as well as delivering a solo EP to Collapsing Market earlier this year. He once again dons his Eszaid cape on this release for the equally fine Meandyou stable, tapping into the labels predilection for obscure variations on the fringes of house and techno. "777,7" is especially captivating in its insistent cyclical minimalism, drilling straight for the subconscious, while "Eyeless Mannekin" sets adrift in aqueous climes for a proper floatation tank dub techno immersion. Using subtlety as a powerful tool, Eszaid ably matches up to the quality that has come before on Meandyou.
Review: Manchester's meandyou. collective take their time over releases, averaging just over a 12" per year. Here they kick off 2016 with another collaborative EP, full of drowsy deep house, crackling techno and tipsy, world-weary ambience. With label conspirator Herron otherwise engaged, it falls to Workshopper Even Tuell to kick things off with the slowly unfurling new age chords, blazed vocal samples and sparse-but-chunky deep house groove of "Boys Truth". Sul "Does It For Andy" on the creepy, discordant dark world ambient track of the same name, before Sensu brings back the beats on the hypnotic, experimental dubby techno shuffle of "Sigmon". Finally, Fabric lays back and lights something fragrant on the similarly dub techno influenced, metallic IDM-goes-ambient of "Pink Grid".
Review: If there's one collaboration that we have bowed down to over the last few years, it's most certainly this new found friendship between London's Kevin Martin aka The Bug, and American doom metal guitarists, Earth. One wouldn't immediately make the connection between inner-city future-grime music and suburban stoner rock, but the two styles were in perfect unison, and this is because they're both fascinated with dark, looming clouds of bass. Whether that's through virtual synths or badass bass guitars, it doesn't matter, because the mood is mightily present. Concrete Desert is the alliance's debut LP, and it's all guns blazing from start to finish; tunes like "Snakes vs Rats" or "Metal Drone" represent exactly the sort of freshen-up that each respective act needed - on the one hand, The Bug could have done with some more external influences to the melodic constructions, while Earth needed a new framework to enter the minds of a new, European audience. We've dubbed this style 'metal drone', and we're pretty sure that it's gonna stick after you've played it out for a few minutes. A blinding collab, right here.
Review: Alexandra Drewchin's work as Eartheater reached a wider audience when it landed on Pan last year via the head-spinning "IRISIRI" album. Now she returns to the label she first emerged on, Hausu Mountain, for a reissue of her 2015 album "Metalepsis". It's a surprisingly direct record, even as it swerves from folky incantations to pastoral techno ruminations across nine bold and distinctive tracks. Both ambitious in scope and focused in execution, it's a perfect companion piece to "IRISIRI" that points out the skill and versatility at the disposal of this most crucial of contemporary artists.
Review: The ever reliable Macadam Mambo returns with the second opus of Eiger Drums: featuring more oddball grooves of the ambient/krautrock persuasion by Louis E Bola. He's one half of Lyonnaise outfit The Pilotwings in collaboration with musicians Geddes Hadden, Arthur Tempo, Akino Karma, Sound Of Duty Free & Pierre Mortimer-Dubation. A more dancefloor oriented album than the previous outing, reviving early new age/trance aesthetics with tribal influences. From the lo-slung weirdo folk of "The Sun", or "Astral Lights" with its exotic psych-drone aesthetic through to the steely slo-mo post punk of "Astral Lights" or the horror movie vibe of "The Moon" - be prepared to get weird on this one!