Review: Following some standout solo releases from Rodhad and Recondite, the Dystopian camp take the various artists approach for their fourth release. First on the list is Alex Do, a young DJ who has evidently found kindred spirits in the Dystopian crew, and this EP provides the chance or them to showcase his debut production, "Concrete", a minimalistic combination of rigid kicks and claps, together with eerie morse code bleeps. Dystopian regular Rodhad returns with "The Wall", a fairly epic track which revolves around a slowly swelling tide of monotone synth horns which grow to monolithic proportions. However, the EP's standout moment belongs to Felix K, who leaves the experimental D&B stylings of his usual releases behind for a clattering 4/4 roller filled with his usual blend of tough beats and gentle ambience.
Review: After years spent slowly building his reputation, 2016 has seen Monoloc - AKA Frankfurt producer Sascha Borchardt - hit the big time. This sophomore album - his first for four years - follows hot on the heels of well-received EPs on Soma and Hotflush. It's an undeniably atmospheric affair, with Borchardt smoothly moving between dark and evocative ambience, macabre techno, moody electronica, foreboding experiments, and creepy, post-dubstep bass explorations. While the overriding mood is naturally ghostly and occasionally intense, he finds time for moments of picturesque clarity, not least the wonderful, string-drenched IDM of "Gently Falls" and melancholic fluidity of closer "Ground Disorder".
Review: We've been eagerly awaiting the second portion of Rodhad's metallic techno on Berlin's Dystopian and good things do come to those who wait. The mysterious producer has made his personal brand of 4/4 standout among the huge number of releases available at Hardwax, gaining full support from artists like Blawan. "Blindness" is indeed a surprise; with no visible percussion in sight, it's a dense soundscape with nothing more than a dissolving vocal and background crackles to accompany it. "Patient Zero" enters more familiar territories, creating an irresistible groove out of few elements: a ringing melody, heavy kick drums and a cascade of hi-hats - simple but extremely effective! Over on the flip, "Hope" is a darker shade of grey, placing that sparse, rolling percussion next to a squealing bass line growing frantically - a guaranteed TIP!
Review: There's a specific kink to the kind of dark and potent techno that Rodhad crafts. Back once again on Dystopian, the Red Rising EP offers up three examples of how to push things forward in the more serious corners of the techno menagerie. "Hell Diver" works around the cyclical motion of a few key ingredients to create a measured malice that will do nothing for your disposition, with slight touches of foreign sounds in those choice moments to make the ears dart around in paranoia. "Mines Of Mars" meanwhile lets a bleepy bassline head out in front with some playful fills creating a distinctive quality to the synth. "Rising" finishes proceedings off with a stout floor worker buttoned up so tight it might combust at any moment.
Review: Since first coming to our attention back in 2012 with debut single Blindness, Rodhad has delivered a string of EPs focusing on dark, otherworldly, industrial influenced techno. While the dancefloor has remained his priority throughout, there have been occasional deviations from the blueprint; creepy ambient escapades that hint at a wider palette of influences. Even so, it's a little bit of a surprise to find that this debut album contains very few bleak and dystopian club jams. Instead, these rare - if predictably impressive - moments are sandwiched between unsettling but thoughtful soundscapes that seemingly draw influence from industrial-era ambient, futurist horror soundtracks, moody IDM and - on sublime closer "Cast A Shadow" - the paranoid work of prolific producer Dominic Fenrow.
Review: We've become used to seeing Vril's releases variously slip out on Giegling and Delsin, two titans of the underground electronic music scene. Here he flips the script, decamping to the first-rising Dystopian label for four-track, floor-focused excursion. Opener "Omniverse" is deliciously skewed and trippy, layering crackling audio textures and slipped warehouse rave stabs over a delightfully wonky, off-kilter techno rhythm. You'll find a tougher and more distorted rework of the same track on the flip. This feels heavier and more intense, despite the presence of hazy, dub techno style production values. Elsewhere, closer "Tzonqul" is outer-space dub techno with the heart of a Pete Namlook spacey ambient special, while "Paradiqma" is another trippy, left-of-centre techno workout built around broken rhythms and deep space electronics.