Review: Before Omar-S became a global cult hero amongst the underground house and techno community, there was Oasis - a collaborative project with fellow Detroit producer Shadow Ray that spawned two full-length albums of deep, stripped-back Motor City grooves. This timely reissue offers an expanded version of their 2004 debut set, Oasis Collaborating. Given that it was Alex "Omar" Smith's first attempt at an album it's pretty impressive, offering a hypnotic, otherworldly mix of cuts that icily flits between stone-cold drum tracks, droning ambience, mildly aloof club workouts and glistening, space age techno. This edition also includes three previously unreleased cuts, including two 2011 remakes that bring the originals bang up to date.
Vatican Shadow - "Church Of All Images" (Regis version)
Fiedel - "Andreas" (bonus beats)
Cub - "Cu2" (Ust Funk mix)
Mary Velo - "Detune"
Jpls - "Basis"
Rrose - "Wedge"
O - "Syvays"
Rrose - "Wedge"
Function - "Modifier"
Carl Craig - "Darkness"
Markus Suckut - "Hunt"
Samuel Kerridge - "Waiting For Love" (part 1)
Untold - "Motion The Dance"
Surgeon - "As You Breathe Here Now"
Mark Ernestus - "Mark Ernestus meets BBC"
Plastikman - "Plasticine"
Trevino - "Uptight"
Vcmg - "Spock" (Regis remix)
Planetary Assault System - "Flat Tire"
Factory Floor - "16-2-16-9-20-1-14-9-7"
James Ruskin - "Into A Circle"
SS/S - "Sicario De Dios: Siglo 2"
Laurent Garnier - "At Night"
Function - "Voiceprint" (reprise)
Review: Despite the nebulous Sandwell District label ceasing operations at the end of 2011, the name has lived on as a performance based entity with Female and Silent Servant leaving it to be fronted by Karl 'Regis' O'Connor and Sumner. Thus the latter two step forth to man the figurative decks for this stunning induction into the Fabric mix series. Productions from the pair feature heavily, with several tracks from Function's recent Incubation brushing up alongside several of Regis' recent remixes for Blackest Ever Black and VCMG, while Sandwell alumni Silent Servant and Rrose also feature in the form of "A Path Eternal" and "Wedge" respectively. There are also a few surprises in the form of Untold's "Motion The Dance" and Factory Floor's "16-2-16-9-20-1-14-9-7?, which are joined by experimental fare from Boyd Rice and Samuel Kerridge. A must for fans of Sandwell District.
Review: As you're probably by now aware, the latest Special Request album, "Bedroom Tapes", includes some of the earliest music recorded by Paul Woolford in his Leeds home during the mid-to-late 1990s. The tracks were recovered from cassettes the producer rediscovered during a recent house move. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the deep and melodious electro brilliance of opener "Panaflex Sunrise" and the IDM-influenced ambient techno sweetness of "Thermatropic", to the fizzing, stargazing brilliance of "Entropy" and the high-octane, sub-heavy dreaminess of "Double Rainbow", which like a lot of the album draws influence from the likes of B12, Autechre and Boards of Canada. Arguably best of all, though, is the epic techno workout "Xenospin", a slowly rising chunk of rushing Yorkshire futurism.
Review: Under the Special Request alias, Paul Woolford has released some stellar music this year. Astonishingly, "Offworld" is his third album of 2019; it could well be the best, too. It explores different sonic territory too, drawing heavily on electro, futurist Detroit techno, Boards of Canada style IDM and the slick 1980s productions of Jam and Lewis. The result is a stunningly beautiful, spacey and far-sighted set that contains some of Woolford's most emotion-rich work to date - and that's saying something. It also finishes in stunning style with an impeccable remix/re-make of the Grid's "Floatation" that sounds like the best early 90s Orb remix you've never heard.
A Gargantuan Melting Face Floating Effortlessly Through The Stratosphere
Review: Paul Woolford has spent a good chunk of his downtime over the last year or two making Special Request tracks in his pants. So much so, in fact, that he's created enough material to fill four albums, all of which will be released this year. "Vortex" is the first and is, in Woolford's own words, high on "bangers" and low on "conceptual guff". In practice, that means lots of gut-busting low-end frequencies, trippy analogue electronics, razor-sharp rave-style riffs and bustling rhythms that variously touch on electro, early '90s progressive house, breakbeat hardcore, slamming Joey Beltram style techno (see album highlight "Fahrenheit 451") and metallic, delightfully mangled drum and bass ("Fett", whose wonky electronic undulations hark back to early Woolford classic "Erotic Discourse").
Review: Prolific sound designer and sometime dub techno producer Sraunus (real name Paulius Markutis) returns to Greyscale with the sequel to last year's Atmospheric Insomnia. As the title suggests, Equal Melodies is a tuneful and mostly positive affair, with Markutis ambling his way through a series of deep, melodious and trippy soundscapes rich in fluttering, colourful electronics, starburst chords, undulating dub techno rhythms, tropical sound effects and meandering synthesizer lead lines. While there's enough low-end grunt to suggest that some tracks may stand up to club plays - either at dedicated dub techno nights, or in atmospheric warm-up sets - the album's main attraction is its home listening-friendly feel. It's the sort of set we would happily get lost in, and there's no greater recommendation than that.
Review: The infamous Air Texture imprint steps up with this new collaborative effort from some key producers across the house and techno reign. Berlin tech-house queen Steffi opens with the subtly pounding forces of "Between Form & Matter", leading the way for all sorts of sci-fi house rolling from the likes of Tracing Xircles, As One, Afik Naim and Late Night Approach. Crucially, you get some sick new tunes from a number of contemporary legends like Basic Soul Unit, Martyn and Answer Code Request. All of this goodness in two discs!
Review: Shout outs to Gerd Janson and Running Back for doing the decent thing and issuing the surprise Syclops LP from the master Maurice Fulton in physical form. Having seemingly abandoned his Syclops pseudonym following the critical and commercial success of the superb 2008 full-length, I've Got My Eye On You, Fulton elected to resurrect it for a surprise sophomore album. Predictably, A Blink of An Eye is a bit good. Picking up where the previous album left off, it delivers a warped fusion of titanium-plated electronics, leftfield acid jack, freestyle jazz flourishes and intergalactic mutant disco. Formidably twisted but hugely enjoyable, it gleefully charges off in many different directions, mixing shirts-off anthems (see the brilliant "Sarah's E with Extra P"), with curious percussion jams (the afro-centric "Jump Bugs") and curiously blissful, Boof-ish excursions ("5 In"). Stellar stuff.