Review: Saktu is an alias of Sasha Kaktus, boss of the St. Petersburg-based Heisenberg label. He returns for a new EP with buddy Alex Adamov for the first time since 2016's Kacheli EP on Reshape Agency. On the A side we have a rolling and ethereal cut that is the title track - this one is certain to have major crossover appeal from fans of UK tech house to the Rominimal sound. On the flip, you are treated to the equally hypnotic futurist bounce of "Flicker" which will appeal to fans of Sublee or Piktor. It then gets a rework by Berlin-based deep house hero Maik Yells, who takes the track down a trippier and more arcane route.
Review: Techno heads with an appreciation of forgotten and almost-lost gems will be happy with this one. Mark Ambrose's 'Dimensions' first saw the light of day on Steve O'Sullivan's Mosaic way, way back in 1997, and here is finally remastered for the modern world. And what a treat it is. A shining example of just how compelling, addictive and inescapable tracks can be without needing to be particularly hard, those looking for adjectives will find them in the likes of tough, solid and crisp. The four tracks all follow a similar trajectory, deep but purposeful dancefloor stuff where sub bass rules and alien noises become warbling hooks- not leat on 'Cable Talk'. Those looking to stomp in the dark may find 'Signs 'N' Lights' is the go-to, 'Photo Funk' is pure darkroom mechanical groove and 'Bassoon' a sharp tech builder.
Review: Mark Ambrose brings his years of expertise in the deeper end of the techno spectrum to bear on this latest joint for Crayon, the label he founded way back in the mid 90s. "Destiny Angel" is a stomping, expansive cut with a cinematic lilt to its sound design and melodic progression - one for people to truly travel on. "Bleeps & Bits" is a more rugged workout that digs deep into intricate rhythm programming and FX processing to create a unique future-tribal flavour. "Just Tonight" keeps the beats dynamic and broken, but with a much hookier punch and some choice vocal snippets that should find favour with all kinds of DJs.
Review: Staggeringly, this tidy tech-house EP from Dan Andrei is not only the Romanian's first release of any sort for four years, but also his first vinyl single since 2011. He begins in confident mood with "SOS", a gentle, undulating affair where pulsing electronics, drowsy chords and fizzing audio glitches clamber atop of a warm, mind-altering bassline and unfussy machine drums. "In The Bass" is a darker and wonkier workout for clubs that like it dark and clandestine, while "Still Unclear" adds warming deep house chords and dusty melodies to a futuristic tech-house groove. To round things off, Andrei offers up a spot of alien tech-house chug where swirling, deep space chords and another ear-catching bassline dominate the sound space.
Review: Artists who made club-focused music tend to debut with singles or EPs, so it's something of a surprise to find that Arno's first release is a triple-vinyl album of tasty dancefloor tracks that sit somewhere between hypnotic tech-house, warm deep house and mind-altering electro missives. As debuts go, it's very impressive, with highlights dotted across all three slabs of wax. Our current favourites include the skittishly funky electro skip of "Sacre Bleu", the sparse, bass-heavy minimal techno throb of "Start Making Sense", the ghostly deep space shuffle of "Set Me Free" and the out-there wonder of "Cleopatra Jones", where oddball electronic noises rise above a deep and drowsy bed of hazy ambient chords and densely layered drums.
Review: Fresh from dropping some heat on Leftroom, Alex Arnout continues his productive streak with this sterling return to Jack's House after he last graced the label with its first release back in 2016. "Sync Jam" packs a serious shuffle that hits squarely in the pleasure plexus for any discerning tech house head, while "Calling U" adopts a playfully spooky tone as it wriggles through a plethora of freaky synth squiggles. "Resergen" completes the set with a spirited dash through hooky techno drum programming and a mean chord line that captures a little old-skool optimism in the process.
Review: Pascal Benjamin is next up on Constant Black, following strong prior bouts from Michael James and Daniel Akbar. The Dutch producer has been dropping bombs on SlapFunk, Botanic Minds and many more in recent years, and he's sounding taut and toned on this slab of after-hours goodness. "Rascale" is one of those snaking tech house joints where the devil is in the details, crying out for a crisp soundsystem to bring the subtleties of sound design to life. "5th Snooze" is a more tightly wound affair with a subtle jazziness rubbed into its joints, while "Full Colour" brings the kind of funky bump and trippy mood you used to find on the Trapez label. "Liez" completes the set with a sharp approach that wriggles its way under the skin.
Review: Romanian Native Bog has had a great run of releases of late on some of electronic music's most compelling labels, including Crosstown Rebels, Bedrock and Diynamic. He has steadily forged his reputation as one to watch. Following his contribution to Adana Twins' Watergate 25 compilation, he returns to the esteemed Berlin label - this time teaming up with exciting new vocal-led French trio LKF Project (Sapiens/Atlant). "Her Song" is a pop-inflected and evocative deep house anthem for the main room - you can expect to hear this a lot in 2019. This is backed up by the tension and suspense of "Discrete Class" that's sure to fuel those heads down moments under the strobelight.
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: The shadowy EEE series has already brought us tasty and much-played tech-house interpretations of a familiar jazz-house gem and a string-laden '80s synth-pop shuffler. Their third single-sided affair - as championed by Zip and Riccardo, no less - takes on a much-loved early noughties R&B classic, placing carefully selected and sequenced vocal snippets around a seriously snappy and sub-bass-heavy groove. Although tech-house in style - note the glitchy electronic noises and spacey effects fixed to the beats - the track's infectious rhythm track was clearly influenced by the current electro revival. This added swing and shoulder-swinging looseness, coupled with the familiarity of the vocal elements, makes EEE03 a guaranteed peak-time winner.
Review: We're always thrilled when another edition of the E-Wax series drops! Following in the timeless spirit of UK tech house, the Berlin-based label serve up another mysterious release by an anonymous artist - but we have a few guesses as to whom it may be. These four cuts will be reliable secret weapons for any DJ keen on the afterhours, or the Sunday afternoon sessions alike. We were digging the sunny and emotive acid vibe of A1 and the sensual swing-fuelled deepness of A2, while the B side was definitely ruled by "Blk 03" - getting on that punchy and infectious Ukranian vibe popularised by the likes of iO (Mulen) or Silat Beksi.
Review: The 110th release from Kompakt Extra comes from Extrawelt, a long-serving electronic band from Hamburg that has previously impressed via albums and singles on Traum Schallplatten, Border Community, Darkroom Dubs and Cocoon Recordings. They naturally hit the ground running with "Pink Panzer", a bustling affair that mixes live drum breakbeats and tough machine percussion with moody, booming bass, creepy strings and evocative, ever-building tech-house electronics. Flipside "Argonaut" is an altogether sleazier and heavier affair full of thrusting, non-stop distorted bass, redlined post-electro drums and all manner of mind-mangling electronic effects. It's effectively the Yang to the A-side's Ying and, like its' predecessor, very good indeed.
Review: Universally respected French artist Okain - master of house music - is up next on Ben Rau's META Imprint under his brand new alias House of Kain. The A-side "Throwback" is a rolling house track with a rumbling MPC groove that references the sounds of late 90's tech house, but updated for today's dancefloors. On the flip, things get even deeper and emotive with a full sense of swing on the super groovy "Time Factor". Following up some great releases on Be Chosen, Infuse and his own Talman Records - Samuel Thalmann continues on with a winning streak of killer records of late.
Review: Russia's Nina Kraviz graces the record buying public with her first material in some time, with the three tracks on Ghetto Kraviz the prelude to a full album pencilled in for release on Rekids at some point next year. Nods to the seminal Dance Mania imprint abound as soon as your eyes clasp on the cover art, and this continues with the stripped down music held within, as Kraviz's languid drawl is looped up and dizzyingly placed amidst the minimalist; low slung bass and 808 flex on the title track. "Jealousy" is that bit smokier, with Kraviz herself sounding slightly intoxicated amidst the stripped down jack. (Intriguingly both sound quite fun when spun at 45 rpm). As the flipside "Show Me Your Time" operates at 45prm there's no footwork fun to be had there, though it's an equally potent combination of Kraviz's vocals laid atop each other amidst the sub heavy beat.
Review: More fuzzy and tripped-out techno on the old school tip, from Swiss wunderkind (and one third of Les points) LOUH - making his debut for Berlin-based retroverts Libertine. He's certainly found a fitting home with this bunch, who follow up some wicked releases by legends like Luke Vibert and Phil Merrall. For the second installment of their new Libertine Industries, get a taste for the acid life on the dity bass driven shenanigans of "Azeed Dualism" and likewise "K.T.P." ( Insane Dogma Version). On the flip, the frantic and hyperaware shuffle of "Lupus Vice" will give you your much needed fix of electro breaks.
Review: Long before he settled on the now familiar Jimpster alias, Freerange Records co-founder Jamie Odell released a handful of tracks and singles under a variety of now forgotten aliases. One of those was Loxodrome, a one-off pseudonym utilized for a now in-demand EP of techno and house fusions on Jumpin' & Pumpin'. Now reissued for the first time since, the 12" has lost none of its intergalactic charms. Check first the spacey ambient synths and post-bleep UK techno grooves of "Heavy Ride", before turning your attention to the deep space Motor City vibes of "Blue Skies". The bleeps return on the warm and dreamy tech-house jam "Red Society", while "Avenue T" is a deep, drowsy and sun-kissed chunk of "Artificial Intelligence" era electro/tech-house fusion.
Review: Ion Ludwig goes off the beaten path with A Better Future To Long EP, to add a new chapter to Metereze's rather unconventional musical journey.
Each of the three cuts can be easily pictured as electronic mandalas: launched into the frequency modulated dense air, repeating themselves over and over again until they get hardcoded into the dance floor memory. Each of the three cuts is building momentum around an obsessive pattern, meant to anchor the listener into the here and now. "140KM:h" comes with a dusty acid feel driven within the reverbs, stretched on the whole Side A. "A better future to long", can go easily as a dark tint of stripped techno, until you isolate the trippy melodic mold from the heavy background. "Abstracy" is nothing but a lo fi strip, filled with rolling basslines, a proper reminder that house music has its own twisted side.
Review: The SlapFunk crew have another new recruit for their mission to match minimal dance aesthetics with tough old-skool punch. Danish producer Martinez has plenty of experience having released everywhere from Guidance to Moon Harbour and Minibar, and he sounds right at home freaking the funk for the Dutch contingent. There's a straight up strut to the jacking drums on opener "Inter Species Relations", while "Aspired Commotion" slips into the kind of wriggling shuffle you'd expect from a SlapFunk release. "No Data" adopts a skippy 2-step stance with some eerie textures on top, and then "Shanty Town" finishes the record off with more swinging business peppered with delightful keys.
Review: EYA Records branch out with this crafty, wriggling slab of freaky techno diversions on new imprint Lonewolf. Meta4 twists all kinds of gnarly subversion out of "Four Body Centers," where the funk of foundational Detroit techno collides with the rampant machine messing of UK acid for stunning results. There's an eerie ghost train vibe hovering over Jorge Gamarra's "Pact", while "Langan" by Twophaseu drops a fresh UK twist on electro. Meta4 returns to bookend this ear-snagging EP with the equally catchy oddball trysts of "666blank", another devilishly deviant slice of underground party music for the ghoulish crew.