Review: After a long, well-publicised farewell, Modeselektor's 50 Weapons label finally bits the dust, bowing out with a release from the owners. For the fiftieth and final record, the German pair have recruited long-time Rhythm & Sound vocalist Paul St Hilaire. He brings his baleful, shanty style delivery to the intense, rolling title track, and if anything tempers the intensity of the massive, shimmering chord builds that unfold as "Trees" progresses. On the other side, there's "50 Trees". On this occasion, Modeselektor decide to drop out the beats and the listener is left to contend with dark, textured sound scapes, a chilling but evocative goodbye to one of techno's key imprints.
Review: 50 Weapons indulge Tony Williams's expansive take on current dance culture as Addison Groove. Put simply, Transistor Rhythm looks gorgeous, with design heavily indebted to Williams' clear passion for the Roland 808 and the tracks spread gloriously across two slabs of thick vinyl (there's an even beefier 3xLP version out too!). Musically, Transistor Rhythm explores the same areas of crisp, finely sculpted rhythms that have graced Swamp 81 and 3024 in recent times, with the smart sample usage on tracks such as "Night To Remember" complemented by a clutch of guest spots.
Review: Stepping up with his second album for 50 Weapons, Addison Groove is once again mining the rhythmic excitement of juke and footwork and working it into his blue-hued melodic headspace. Standout vocal cut '"Just You" is a prime example of the upbeat flavour across the album, while "11th" matches the plush harmonies with moodier switch-ups, and "The Spirit Level" drops the tempo into a house bump that lends itself to the illustrious synth sweeps. Typically though the beats are in that twitchy middle ground between dubstep and footwork, leaving plenty of space for razor-sharp constructions and dazzling edits as best demonstrated on the dynamic acid roll of "Space Apples". Chaos abounds on the B Side where Developer's frantic side is shown via "Promiscuous" whilst the tightly wound "Pulstar" is quite hypnotic.
Review: Although he has flirted with dubstep, garage and house since his first appearance in 2007, Cosmin Nicolae's transformation into one of contemporary techno's most interesting figures was completed when he joined the 50 Weapons fray in 2011, releasing two twelve inches and an excellent debut album in Simulat. His follow up, Gordian, references an ancient myth and the music contained within is just as fantastical as the title suggests. The complex melodic arrangements of his previous album are expanded upon to great effect on tracks like "New Structures For Loving" and "Defeated Hearts Club", recalling the more exciting end of 00s minimal, while tracks like "Gordian", "Desire Is Sovereign" and "To Touch Is To Divert" are as forceful and driving as his Rush Hour releases; once again Cosmin has taken a great leap forward.
Review: Modeselektor are clearly keen to make 50 Weapons' last few releases as strong as possible. For this 12", they've turned to Berlin techno titan Shed, who - somewhat predictably - more than delivers the goods. "Dark Planet" is a thick, tough and driving beast, with chopped-up, manipulated vocal snippets forming a quirky melody line above a thumping rhythm that neatly combines pounding kick-drums and hissing cymbals. This is no-nonsense, floor-friendly techno that comes laden with sly funk. Modeselektor themselves have a go at remixing it on the flip, delivering a far weirder, wilder, stranger and - bizarrely - more melodious 'broken techno' interpretation.
Review: You have to admire Laurent Garnier's continued desire to push boundaries and confound critics. His plan to devote 2014 to releasing five EPs on five different labels, whilst mixing up the styles, is undoubtedly bold. This three-tracker for the ever-intriguing 50Weapons imprint is particularly impressive. "MILF" bristles with stuttering analogue rhythms, foreboding chords and attractive bleep melodies, coming on like an unlikely jam session between Sweet Exorcist and Orbital. "DSK" sees the French veteran moving further towards his techno roots, while "He" sounds like an homage to darkwave with techno overtones and more than a hint of stripped-back early Chicago acid. Bravo Monsieur Garnier, bravo!