Review: Holden's 2006 debut album was an astonishing one that gets a timely reissue on double crystal-clear splatter vinyl. A high watermark for proudly synthetic and computer made music, it was the bold arrival of an artist who endures as an innovator to this day. "The Idiots Are Winning" is a masterclass in unhinged grooves, glitchy electronic sounds and mutant sounds that set a new benchmark in experimental textures, sound design and dance floor clout. "Idiot" is the standout banger, "Lump" is more trippy and heat workout, and "10101" is the twitchy and mesmeric workout you cannot escape. Music as idiosyncratic as this doesn't come along too often, and even 13 years left it still sounds fresh.
Review: Arapu is very much one of the key Romanian artists of the moment. Of course, like his revered countrymen, that means techno that is elegant, minimal, and delicately detailed. His own take on the style is often littered with curious little motifs and trippy loops that also characterise this new one on heavyweight vinyl for Liniar. "Over" is a brilliant opener with languid Balearic guitar riffs echoing over supple drum work which will hook you in and encourage your mind to wander, whereas "A Gain" is a more direct, driving minimal techno cut with warped synths peeling off an urgent groove. "I" closes out with a funky undercarriage and dub house overtones that will get any basement popping off.
Review: Edanticonf has been a mainstay of Silent Season for many years now, first delivering an album and EP to the Canadian label back in 2012. Since then he's travelled to labels such as M_REC, Wolfskuil, Phorma and Linear Movement, but he's back home to roost with this gorgeous four-tracker that plays on his trademark sound. Rich with melancholic synth work and moving with a purposeful but thoughtful pace, this is exactly the kind of evocative techno that makes Silent Season a buy on sight label. Every track tells its own story, but the starry twinkle of "The Metamorphosis Of Plants" is especially captivating.
Poisoned Words (Ricardo Villalobos remix 1) (6:35)
Poisoned Words (Ricardo Villalobos remix 2) (13:39)
Review: The Mandar dream team of Lazare Hoche, Malin Genie and S.A.M revisit "Poisoned Words" with a double dose of remixes from none other than Ricardo Villalobos. The minimal overlord lives up to expectations on both flips of the original track, needling into the tiniest sonic details and holding down an insistent groove that will sit beautifully in the mix. The A side features a simmering version that revels in wriggling sound design with ample space to flex and mutate, while the B side stretches out into a quintessential Villalobos wormhole of a remix. Unmissable sonics from one of the scene's true legends.
Review: Swiss producer Alci, also known as Shaolin Fantastic, landed with lauded releases on Robsoul before skipping to other labels like Apollonia and Meander. Following last year's excellent "Diversity" double pack, he lands on his own label Seeingsounds with this pitch perfect slice of dreamy minimal house. "Acid Drip" may be a misleading title - it's more of an unending groove draped in gorgeous, shimmering melodic finery. "Hiragana" takes things in a more twitchy direction, while "Apachi" brings another slant on reduced, oddball funk to get the up all night crowd loose and freaky in all the right ways.
Review: Moscow's Shanti Radio crew have really honed in on their own little music niche: deep, laced with trance tones, and emotive house. Tunes from this hotly anticipated EP by Volen Sentir has been doing the rounds in certain DJs sets for as much as six months. Highlights are plentiful throughout but the title track is arguably the standout. Languid piano chords dropped over soft, succulent, dubbed out drum rolls while tribal vocal chat bleeds in and out of focus to add to the hypnotic effect, and some sensitive xylophone sounds supporting an all-important melody line.
Review: It's hard to believe that Enzo Siragusa's Fuse label has now been carving out its own niche in the tech house world for a full decade. To mark the occasion, the label boss has pulled together more key tracks for his second volume of "A Decade of Rave". This compilation is another treasure trove of club cuts that feature the main man alongside some of his key associates, Rich NxT, Rossko, Archie Hamilton and Seb Zito. The tracks are unwaveringly dubbed out and driving, with weighted bottom ends that will get any moody dancer moving. From warms up to peak time to afterparties, these are hugely versatile tracks.
Review: Through a series of must-check releases on Nous'klaer Audio, Ruben Uvez AKA Konduku has proved to be one of the more thoughtful and inventive producers to emerge in recent times. While some of his previous releases have strayed away from the dancefloor, his first outing on Idle Hands is a wonderfully basement-bothering affair full of tracks tailor made for hazy, early morning sets. It boasts two suitably dark, dubby and clandestine cuts - the echoing dub techno pulse of "Lila" and the sub-heavy, Livity Sound style flex of "Bolu" - plus two more melodic outings. Of these, we're particularly enjoying "Caduata Di Massi", where deliciously dreamy chords ebb and flow around stabbing analogue bass and crunchy drums.
Albert Luxus - "In Den Arm Bitte!" (Julian Stetter mix)
Tom Demac - "Serenade"
Jurgen Paape - "Abstrusia"
Reinhard Voigt - "Der Amnn, Der Nie Nach Deutz Kam"
Rex The Dog - "Vortex"
Justus Kohncke - "Mindless Sex Track"
Voigt & Voigt - "Der Schwarm"
Anii - "Ride The Tiger"
Clarian - "Early Life"
Extrawelt - "Pink Panzer"
DJ Balduin - "EWBA"
Anna - "Remembrance" (main mix)
Fahrland - "Yesterday" (Night version)
Patrice Baumel - "Grace"
La Fleur - "Tears"
John Monkman & James Monro - "Pesto Punk"
Blackrachas - "Rotary"
Raxon - "Dark Light"
Yotam Avni - "Track For Agoria"
Jonathan Kaspar - "Renard"
Gui Boratto - "618" (Kolsch mix)
Review: Cologne powerhouse Kompakt may not be talked about as much as it once was, but the label continues to put out high quality electronic music with its own distinctive vibe. For proof, check the 19th annual edition of their now legendary compilation series, "Total". There's much to set the pulse racing amongst the 25 tracks scattered across two CDs, from the shoegaze-influenced haziness of Weval's "Are You Even Real" and the picturesque, piano-sporting dancefloor deepness of Tom Demac's "Serenade", to the neo-trance throb of Rex The Dog, the twisted techno intensity of Voigt & Voigt, and the intergalactic electro/rave fusion of Raxon's strobe lit "Raxon".
Review: Originally prolific in the late 90s and back with a renewed sense of vigour in the past few years, Dan Piu's classic, widescreen vision of hardware techno captures the verve of the original Detroit blueprint while bringing a fresh, welcome energy to the genre. This drop on Common Dreams brims with the same head-swirling magic, especially on vividly rendered lead track "Halo City". "Falling Framework" has a more mellow veneer, but there's still so much playful detail bringing the track to life. "Akira 2171" has an old-skool sci fi quality balanced out by its linear sense of progression, and "Ilipsyon" takes things deeper into a wistful jack reminiscent of the spookiest Trax output.
Review: The latest drop on Mr KS & Friends comes from Sylan 101, an artist making a truly accomplished debut brimming with musicality and fresh beat constructions compatible with, but not beholden to a deep house vibe. "Nostalgia (Healing Of Time)" is a smoky broken beat groove with gentle piano chords and muted trumpet, while "Brief Encounters" draws on subtle guitar licks and harmonious pads for decoration over snaking drums. "Been There Once" heads in a more mysterious direction, throwing some spoken word refrains into the mix and keeping the instrumentation more subtle and atmospheric.
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: Hoarder continues to impress here with another classy collection of serious club heat. It comes from Italian born, New York based artist Fr!sky Buziness and marks his best work to date. All four tracks deal in proper, original tech house with a superbly smooth and seductive sense of late night funk. "Grey Goo Romance" has a gooey groove with sci-fi motifs that race along, while "Bananafish" channels early Terry Francis with its clipped and slick drums and swirling cosmic pads. "Skyhook" is awash with alien lifeforms and brain cleansing synth tones that are shiny and reflective, then finally "Aurora" pumps the party with perfectly pressurised drum loops and a whole ecosystem of spaced out sound effects. This is high grade dance floor weaponry from start to finish.
Review: Icelandic label Lahar debuts with this highly impressive release from NonniMal, who was previously spotted dropping the classy "Freyja" 12" on AE Recordings back in 2016. Sound design is the order of the day on "Eitt" as a beautifully rendered set of percussive bell notes chime around a minimal rhythm section - a piece pointedly geared towards transcendence. "Tvo" has an intriguing slant to its groove, as the sharply oscillating synth wobble juts out against the grain of the drums. "Thrju" takes things in a bleak but captivating direction, while "Fjogur" cools the record down in a cloud of blissful, frostbitten ambience.
Review: While he's continued to offer up occasional singles, Bonn-based producer Dominik Eulberg has not released an album for eight years. It's for this reason that "Mannigfaltig", the former Traum Schallplatten regular's new set, is big news. Interestingly, it's nowhere near as club-focused as you'd perhaps expect, with Eulberg combining his usual glitchy, tech-house influenced beats and sounds with a range of intricate electronic motifs, sumptuous melodies and atmospheric aural textures. There are one or two club cuts, of course, but majority of the tracks bob along at a more sedate pace, with Eulberg offering up cuts that draw influence from IDM and hazy electronica. As a result, it may well be his most coherent and "listenable" album to date.
Review: It's been a long time between drinks for Chris Korda, a transgender artist and activist whose last releases of note came on famed electroclash label International Deejay Gigolo way back in 2004. New album "Akoko Ajeji" is very much a surprise return to action, though its melodious, ear-pleasing and accessible blend of house and techno drums, digital synthesizer sounds and cheery post synth-pop refrains is both striking and hugely addictive. Korda's compositions offer subtle nods towards various vintage house and techno styles - particularly turn-of-the-90s deep house and early Chicago jack - but never sound anything less than thrillingly DIY productions giddily made in back rooms and bedrooms over the last decade and a half.
Review: After a two-year absence, Aline Brooklyn - New York's surprise home of Romanian style minimal techno adventures - has returned with a bang in 2019. They've launched the "Original Series", with March's debut release from Mihai Pol being followed by this eight-track album from Nico Laa and Juan Cristiani. The pair begins in confident mood via the melodious tech-house funk of "Drastic", before wrapping chiming lead lines and spacey electronics around a low-slung groove of "Mars". More warm, deep house style motifs can be heard on "Good Morning Brooklyn" and the bumpin' goodness of "New York", while "Loop People" is a hazy, minimalist jack-track. Elsewhere, "La Rose" is woozy, dreamy and quietly picturesque (despite locked-in tech-house beats) and "Senor Lopez" is snappy and funky in the best possible way.
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: The annual Cocoon compilation is a perfect snapshot of what's going on in the more popular corners of the European techno scene. Curated by label head and Ibiza party king Sven Vath, this year's edition is a comparatively deep and melodic affair. A big shout goes to Talaboman for their excellently entitled "Big Room Anthemic Groovy Pounding Trance Dub Bomb Superb!" which is indeed a big room anthemic groovy pounding trance dub bomb, while Edward serves up a more twisted roller (the excellent "End Days"), Raxon goes deep with "The Turbulent" and Mark Broom hammers home with tripped out sci-fi banger "Jaded", amongst many other gems.
Review: Next up on Acid Pauli and Nico Stojan's Ouie imprint are two veterans of the electronic music scene, but the label bosses are pretty tight lipped about their identity beyond that. Showing off some serious night moves on "Slow Down", the title track is perfect Berlin sunrise material: a lush serving of low-slung techno-pop that makes the perfect summer soundtrack. On remix duties is Lovestruckk, the duo comprising of Stojan and Holmar Filipsson (aka Thugfucker) inject more dancefloor dynamics before closer "Slow Down", a slinky and hypnotic tech house cut moves the EP into a moodier sonic territory.
Review: Alex is a brand new alias from the artist regularly known as Baba Stiltz - a Swedish producer whose quirky, off-kilter house and techno releases are rarely less than brilliant. His first Trilogy Tapes outing is suitably impressive. The real killer is "Samba", an inspired nine minute workout in which he layers deep, woozy electric piano motifs, sun-kissed chords, child-like vocal samples and rich bass atop a swinging, samba fired techno beat. The deeper and more bass-heavy "Memo" is even more epic; a near 13-minute journey through sparse, crunchy, hypnotic and dubbed-out minimal house rhythms and exotic, snake charmer solos. In other words, it's another top-notch EP from a producer who genuinely can do no wrong.
Review: Last spotted on Vakant, Detroit's man of mystery returns to D'Julz' Bass Culture after four years with three more rough, warm Motor City jams. "Castaway" takes off without so much as a compass. Heading towards the light with every added rhythmic element and cascading arpeggio, it drives into the horizon with equal measure of focus and looseness. "Doin It To Ya Baby" takes a subaquatic disco approach - the wide beats are wrapped in subtle slapbass twangs and dubby overlays while "Wara Coco" is a trippier twist into the shadows as raindrop textures trickle over a low and slow groove and incessant humanised loops. Remix-wise Orlando Voorn peppers the lead track with a little analogue funk and mild acid tweaking. After this castaway you'll never want to come home...