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: DJ Central presents three new aliases on this elegantly put together 12". Conjuring up the perfect recipe for a DJ Cake, Central blends and explores the likes of pulsating atmospheric techno on the track "Balast", smoothly escalating breaks on "Ko Ko Dak Dak" and hazy crackling ambient on the finale "Daeksel". Unique, inspiring and truly excellent works from the one they call DJ Central.
Review: Although the Lovers Rock label run by Daniel Martin McCormick - better known as Ital - has previously been an output for his own music, this year see the label expand operations with records from other artists. Although a future collaborative 12? between Ital and Mutual Dreaming's Aurora Halal has also been promised, the label first looks to the music of Earthen Sea, the musical project of San Francisco artist Jacob Long, who previously performed alongside Martin-McCormick as part of Mi Ami. Although Long played bass as part of Mi Ami, the Earthen Sea project - which has released a number of cassettes since 2003 - sees him utilise various electronic textures to create his own immersive style of ambient music, which takes both a rhythmic and beatless approach incorporating elements of dub techno, drone and minimalist composition.
Review: Earthen Sea adds to the Kimochi Sound with a soulful examination of indistinct margins, suffused with dusky haze. It's a heady atmosphere and has a palpable heaviness throughout. Starting the record are the concrete reverberations of You Don't Never Know, followed by the murky ebb and flow of Fly. 13 Beat(less) is diffused ambience.
Shielding fittingly closes the record, and weaves Earthen Sea's many textures with intricate syncopation.
Review: To accompany their re-release of East Wall's superb 1991 debut album, Silence, Dark Entries has decided to put out the Italian band's forgotten debut release, 1985 single "Eye of Glass". Tending towards the darker end of the Italo-disco spectrum, but blessed with typically cheery synthesizer melodies and skewed female vocals, it's a record that seems far more inspired by the earlier British new wave synth-pop movement than pleasing the clubs of Rome or Rimini. The vocal version is accompanied by a subtly different instrumental, which includes waves of warm synths and offers more prominence to the band's bubbly electronics, throbbing arpeggio bassline, and delay-laden drum machine hits.
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: The latest volume in Brokntoys consistently excellent DDQ series comes courtesy of Elements of Joy, one of the lesser-known aliases of UVB producer Sebastien Michel. All four tracks originally slipped out on a limited cassette on Michel's own Body Theory label back in 2016, and here appear on vinyl for the very first time. Built around the producer's love of industrial, experimental new wave and dark ambient, all four cuts are fuzzy, dystopian and thoroughly alluring. Highlights include the foreboding, distorted shuffle of "Les Consequences De Mes Actes", the throbbing industrial-funk heaviness of opener "In Every Man" and the droning, guitar-laden growl of closing cut "The Great Struggle".
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".