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.
Review: Nebraska's Friends & Relations series continues to serve up the finest disco-sprinkled house delights, following on from the previous installment of Disco Dubs with another on point reduction of dusty grooves through the mixing desk. These jams are stripped back and oh so heavy, with FX flaring in all the right places to give an eerie, trippy tint to the jams. It's like walking into the deep end of the session where Walter Gibbons jams with King Tubby uptown, and you'd be right in thinking that's a match made in far-out disco heaven.
Review: Low-slung stuff from the Nabucco label bossman, with the original just as primed for afternoon party vibes as it is the earliest morning sets. Gradually building momentum from its pared back stepping opening, soaring synth lines and subtle vocal stabs invoke the glory days of West Coast house- as smooth as it is uplifting, warm and inviting. On the flip, Mandar's remix retains most of the same elements, placing a more emphasis on the keyboard stabs and, although running for less time, has a greater sense of journey. Its dubby mid section allowing plenty of room for jazz inflected pianos to usher in smoky, chilled-out vibes in direct contrast to the punchier moments. The result is arguably even more useful that the original, and certainly something capable of pulling dancers in and not letting go.
Review: For the second edition of the mysterious new anonymous artist imprint Party Nails, we get treated to some tough rolling UK tech house for main room - UK style - on "Hopin' She's A Freak" with its naughty and catchy ghetto house samples. Then get deep, down and dusty (disco style!) on the rather Robsoul sounding "Um So", lo-slung and funky perfect afterhours tackle on "Brown Acid" while the peak time syncopations of "Boudadan" feature a familiar sample from a classic and pushes into afro house territory.
Review: Cartulis bounce from the essential release from Eliaz to this intriguing slab by Reade Truth, a New York techno original who was last spotted on Warm Fiction, Blkmarket Music and Path Records. His "Wires, Everywhere" album was a big release for Cartulis last year, and now he's back with further ruff n' tuff cuts that drip with Big Apple attitude. From the deep diving "Starflight" to the epic, ranging "Space Out (Expression)", you can sense Truth's hard earned swagger but it's also balanced out by subtlety, a sense of space and groove that makes each track a pleasure to sink into.
Review: Fuse London fixture Rich NxT is up to old tricks again, and it totally works for us! Tough rolling and funky tech house for the main room is the order of the day again on his new Danse 4 Joy EP, for Berlin's Aotre. A1 cut "Joy" will get you from the first hook: groovy and infectious afterhours tech house, followed by the deep, down and dirty banger "Dansep". On the flip, we get two ascendant stars of the minimal scene delivering their perspectives on the two tracks and what a choice: label boss Sante strips things back on "Joy", while London's James Dexter is on point as usual with his slinky and sensual take on "Dansep"
Review: Sharp, staccato and bouncy, Offenbach's Tom Ries has garnered a solid reputation for humanising tech-ier house music through organic feeling instrumentation, without forsaking the kind of weightiness needed to score a proper party. This package is no different. The title number is a stepping, chunky, minimal workout that takes just the right amount of time to drop its sparse, jazzy melody. 'Off Track' ups the level of cheekiness, its top-end percussive accents counterbalanced by suppressed, near-jacking lows. 'Bucks', meanwhile, is more of a head-nodder crammed with micro-house niceties and punchy drum formations. Bringing things full circle, kind of, the FK7 remix of 'Karchert Riddim' is a click-y, subtle, early set groover that starts as it means to go on, solid beats bumping along beneath noises that give more than a nod to acidic tendencies.
Review: Giles Smith and James Priestley have left an indelible mark on house and techno culture in the UK, not least thanks to their fabled Secretsundaze parties. These days they're taking that iconic stamp into the studio, and following up on strong turns for Mule Musiq and Phonica last year they're finally dropping a full length EP on their own label. The quality is as high as you would expect, from spicy, snarling fire starter "Mezcal" to the transcendental swirl of "Stand Up". On the B side, "Testing" takes things a little deeper with a heady stomp and a tricky disposition that will satisfy all the selectors.
Jakob Seidensticker & Boronas - "Eye Games" (9:18)
Meinschafer & Hirte - "Drum Roll" (7:47)
Meinschafer & Hirte - "Traffic" (7:08)
Review: After a three year hiatus, German label Uwaga returns and makes up for lost time with this killer four tracker - featuring some legends and newbies alike. On the A side, the man from Hamburg Jacob Seidensticker gets into some dreamy and surrealist minimal techno (that rolls deep!) on "Eye Games" featuring Boronas. A truly hypnotic cut that's perfect for Romanian style afterhours business. On the flip, an emerging duo from named Cologne Meinschaefer & Hirte serve up some emotive minimal house deepness. They had their very first release on No More Drama recently and are in fine form on "Drum Roll" and "Traffic" respectively.
Review: Elina Shorokhova aka Soela is a multi-talented artist hailing from southern Russia who now calls Berlin her home. It is there where she continues to build her presence in the community through her live and DJ sets, alongside documenting the local scene and artists through her lens as a photographer. Following up an impressive run of releases on the likes of E-Beamz, Lost Palms and Australia's Red Ember, Shorokhova returns with four evocative tracks on the ever reliable Kompakt imprint. From the sensual breakbeat driven progressive house vibe of "Lily", soothing and sensual deep house for the late night on "Close Your Eyes" and the slinky and hypnotic tech hose of "White Becomes Black" - we have only seen the start of Shorokhova's blossoming and promising career.
Review: After four years spent contributing tracks to multi-artist EPs and digital download compilations, Casey Spillman has finally been given a chance to release a 12" all of his own. He's firmly grasped the opportunity with both hands, first offering up a bouncy, sub-heavy chunk of late night UK garage/deep house fusion ("Avec Moi", before effortlessly joining the dots between skittering tech-house and rumbling UKG on "Temperature". Over on Side B, Enzo Siragusa offers a deep, acid-flecked tech-house take on "Avec Moi" - all off-kilter electronics, earth-shaking bass and glitchy grooves - while Spillman delivers more bass-heavy, garage-influenced grooves and sun-kissed synths on atmospheric closing cut "Endure".
Review: This is just the fourth release on Negentropy, but already the label has been catching attention for doing some really interesting stuff, while consistently delivering dancefloor material that refuses to let go once you've been hooked in. French groove monster Sweely seems like a pretty good fit for the imprint, then, as this three tracker proves with ease. Crisp, sharp, and packed with energy, 'Take One' kicks off with the kind of punchiness that belies what's about to happen- soon dropping into a freeform, jazz-infused breakdown that appears to come out of nowhere, switching the vibe of the tune completely. You can almost see the sci-fi console lights behind the micro-percussive detailing on 'One Or Another', while 'Deep Into The Rhythms' is destined to please anyone who enjoys getting their head down to an archetypal relentless roller.
Review: While the misguided and misinformed continue to debate the right for tech house to exist thankfully there' are still many producers making intricately detailed and intelligently programmed beats out there, in turn keeping the genre bursting with potential. Such is the case with this four tracker from Norwegian duo TAR 1337, AKA Terje Bakke and Rub800. Opening on a dubby, minimal tip, 'Init Patt' develops one of the most surprisingly madcap hooks we've heard in ages- hearing is understanding. 'VCult' is perhaps the track its precursor could have been, growing into a layered, immersive darkroom workout with sweatier results. 'Relax Nothing Is Under Control' bridges the gap into sharp, non-banging techno stuff, a dirty number with bags of compelling noises keeping you locked in. Rounding out on the more spatial 'Tranquility Base', this is mature, highly usable stuff.
Review: Vinyl Speed Adjust have conquered a lot of labels in their time, ranging from BodyParts to Pressure Traxx, Visionquest to Pleasure Zone. Representing a different twist on the Romanian minimal sound, the pairing of Andrei Predoi & Claudiu-Eduard Balan now find themselves on Constant Sound dropping the subtly psychedelic tech house trip out, "Semantic Expressions". As if the trance-inducing original wasn't enough, we're also treated to gold-standard remixes from Mike Shannon and DoubtingThomas, both of whom bring their glittering score cards in the minimal fraternity to two distinct but complementary versions of Vinyl Speed Adjust's track.