Baruka - Computer Emotions
Three tracks of uplifting techno-electro elegantly constructed and produced. Track 1 is built around a flickering sequencer track and a ticking flanged hi hat with plenty of variation. The B-side features a further two tracks of similar structure. Track 2 features some of the lesser used components in the drum machine arsenal such as the cowbell - very effectively. Then Track 3 switches to a techno vibe and after a long time of getting going, all hell breaks loose and it squelches its way across those obscure drum components again. I should also say that Track 3 has one of those fake scratchy-record samples included, and they irritate me a lot. But overall this is rather unique and gets 8 out of 10.
Dorisburg - Trust / Devotion
Nordic house has a rather distinct sound - its more subtle, less dramatic yet tightly layered, and Dorisburg is one of the better purveyors of it. Trust is a broody track that starts with a long layer of string synth before repetitive vocals and an off-beat rhythm meld into the mix. It ends just when you're expecting it to really begin. Devotion delivers more of your usual house track albeit with exceptional rhythm - its actually a perfect mix track. Then flip it over and you've got Mystical Influence, a thoroughly enjoyable slab of wax that is perhaps the best track on this EP. I give this an 8 out of 10.
Deep Space Orchestra - Hipster Massacre / Smoking Bunt
Limited orange vinyl release. Hipster Massacre is an uplifting electro house track with a killer bouncy riff. My daughter loves it and flicks around the room tripping to the beat. The B-side, Smoking Bunt, has more of a jacking beat but features similar orchestration of the synths. A really great release and one I will find myself listening to a lot. 9 out of 10.
Inhalants - Inhalants / No Hats / There Are Cops Around
Crunching dark industrial techno of the type that makes me yearn for a huge set of speakers and a dance floor. The lead track thumps out of your speakers as a mid-level riff arpeggiates across the floor giving you the feeling that they are loudly manufacturing a huge machine in the room next door. It's utterly compelling dark dance music. Then the B-side treats you to two more tracks of more industrial process, the first crunching and organic and the second clinical and precise - I can't listen to any of them without imagining giant machines. Oh what joy.. it's an utter classic. 10 out of 10.
Tin Man - Extra Acid
Three tracks of Roland TB303-inspired acid. Sidewalk Kisses is a spaced-out slowish acid track and it leaves me wondering whether he is really using a TB303 as the modulation is so different to mine. Clearly he is running it through a lot of effects. On the flip side are two more tracks where the pace is up and the acid becomes choppy. Classic TB303 here for the first few minutes and then we go into a stringy refrain which seems a bit out of place. The final track has some beautiful TB303 action run through an effects processor, with a jacking beat - a fine moment on the EP. Overall, I'd give this an 8 out of 10.
Max McFerren - Real Problem / Divine Milieu
Max McFerren is a NYC-based musician releasing records via a UK label. I had never heard of him before I got this record but I hope to hear from him again. He has his own tweak on minimal techno - gone are the usual rhythm patterns and in comes an altogether more stripped down, raw rhythm. So raw in fact that you wonder whether he recorded it with a microphone in a closet. Then over the top there is a metallic warping sound and a repeating bleep. Then flip to the B-side and you get a little more conventional rhythm but his trademark warping noise is back. I like this a lot. It's sufficiently different and stand-out to be quite assured. 9 out of 10.
Adjustment Bureau - Epine Vinette EP
There are only 300 copies of this on vinyl only, so get your hands on one fast. Three tracks of solid minimal techno from Adjustment Bureau is a little too good to be true, but this is what you get. Epine Vinette has an already complex drum pattern overdubbed with a host of ancillary tom-toms and kettledrums to create a virtual jungle beat. On top of that, you get a moaning bass hum and the occasional voiceover. Noel Jackson's remix comes next - a trippy atmospheric rendering of Epine Vinette with a more traditional 4/4 beat, perhaps better for the dance floor than the original. Flip it over and you get the final track, Pianino, which confirms that these guys know their drum machine inside and out. It starts slow with an off-balance rattle and follows a similar pattern throughout, forcing your mind to process the rhythm. Enjoyable. 9 out of 10.
Dubfound - Ringxiety EP
Four track EP from Dubfound - a stalwart of the romanian techno scene. It all starts with Nemesis, an easy-going romp with a simple raw drum track that occasionally gets ahead of itself before snapping back into place. Then we get Ringxiety which starts with a marching pedestrian drumbeat that flies off-kilter occasionally and envelopes into a masterpiece of rhythm, all backed by a grooving bass. Flip it over and the track Preeton leads us off with another clever mix of bass and rhythm with the occasional voiceover and strings. Rather neat. Preeton mixes into the final track virtually without a pause to give us Aldo Cadiz's remix of Nemesis, which is truly beautifully done. Every track of this EP is better than the prior track and everything has a catchy edge to it. I give it 9 out of 10.
Barbir - Lowoutput
Positioned by some as a DJ tool, this is a selection of 4 tracks of acid or tech house. The first track, Output303, is an easy flowing track with a Roland TB303 playing the lead. It is melodic without the usual in-her-face raspiness that some acid freaks go for. The second track, Juracrackgroove, is more classic techno and has a great refrain. Track 3 is a remix of Lowoutput by San Proper. It's a classic jack track, with plenty of variation, including some wicked drum kicks. Finishing it off is Lowhouse, a slower paced techno track with a little more acid interspersed. Overall this whole EP has wicked drum programming and some rather clever refrains. 9 out of 10.
Fractious / Audiomatiques & Frankyeffe - Preview 32.5
Two tracks on a compilation from Loose Records. If you check it out online you'll be completely put off by the blurb that Loose Records use to describe this record - someone should be fired for it! But listen and you get rewarded - Fractious's track on the A-side bounces along at a good pace with plenty happening. With a techno beat and a simple yet catchy bass thump it gets your foot tapping. The B-Side features Audiomatiques & Frankyeffe with High Voltage - a more typical house affair with a veritable mighty bass line that will please even a jaded technofreak. The only thing that lets it down are the drums, which sound like they were part of the demo track on a drum machine. 7 out of 10.
Diogo - Prpl EP
Limited to 450 copies of white-marbled vinyl only, this is the first release from a new Amsterdam label. And what a cracker it is. Highly minimal techno beat combined with a singing voice to create something rather unique. Most techno of this type tends to be instrumental, yet this has been very tastefully combined with vocals. The B-side features two further tracks with a similar vibe - a romanian style micro beat, yet this time the vocals are missing, which seems a pity. Rather good though. 8 out of 10.
Olivian Nour - Dichisit EP
Like a marriage of romanian minimal micro techno and french tech house, this four track vinyl-only EP has lots of balls. The lead track chugs along with a complex popping and bubbling rhythm as a sequencer whistles and roars reverberate. The following track Totasa ripples into life with a spinning wahwah and we are off to the races with a jack-like track. The B-side has two mixes of Seara Devreme, an upbeat house track that nervously blossoms into a rather nice techno beat. The second mix of it is perhaps the superior of the two. Altogether pretty good. 8 out of 10.
Rodhad - Red Rising
Limited edition on red vinyl of simmering dark techno. With a pumping bass beat, an aggressive hi hat and the clatter of metal the opening track drives a nervous tyrannical beat. Turn the disc over and that same tension exists on Mines Of Mars but with a looping acid-like riff. Then the final track finishes off a perfect trio of haunting music. This is a really great dark techno release that will thoroughly freak you out loud in a dark room. I loved it. 9 out of 10.
Audo Werner - High
Subtle roomy minimal techno this time from Audio Werner. High has a little bit of a jack to it, driven by the hi hat and snare, although it seems to end before it really gets going. Turn it over and you've got a further two tracks. Duvel is very similar to High although it builds a little more. All Of Her closes the EP and it could not be more different than the other two tracks. Piano is brought to the front and the pace increases - it all comes across as a bit of a jazzy jam session. I have loved prior Audio Werner releases but this one does not hit his usual standard. 6 out of 10.
Easy Changes - Sochiny Pomehi EP
Deep and very minimal techno record that has flavors of a manic post-punk Pop Group or even The Slits style. The drums sound as if they are played live and the bass sounds like a guitar. I don't know if it is. At any moment you keep expecting Ari Up and the rest of The Slits to break into song. This one took me a little by surprise and I enjoyed it so much that I went onto discogs and bought all their back catalogue too! Where have these guys been all my life! It was such a revelation and this gets 10 out of 10. Easy.
Korridor - Path 0102.591
Three chilling ambient techno tracks from Stockholm's Korridor. Broody and dark, these tracks are the perfect laid back tracks to concentrate to, at least for me. It reminds me a lot of the initial forage into ambient dub that happened to electronic music in the early 1990s, a time I thoroughly enjoyed. However, JKorridor have updated it with a more modern beat and a very assured production. The first track is a rather laid back affair whereas the second track increases the pace and becomes somewhat frenetic. The final track is perhaps my favorite - a very catchy beat and a flanging analog synth flutters over a drone of string synths. All three tracks are stand out, and it gets 9 out of 10 from me.
Upwellings - Zu Zurich Dubs
Two killer dub techno tracks on a 10" EP. There is echo galore plus that usual pulsing bass and the reverberating whop-whop of the keyboards. This is a lovely electronic dub track with plenty of verve. One of my favorite releases on this week's batch of records in fact. 9 out of 10.
Jah Wobble & PJ Higgins - Watch How You Walk
The original track and three remixes on this EP, a precursor to a new Jah Wobble album. I have been a huge fan of Jah Wobble ever since PiL, following his solo career and buying everything he has ever released or featured on. But this one is a an odd one! Wobble's bass doesn't feature as much as in other releases, and I am not sure I like the song much. In fact the singing is downright odd - it sounds too fast at 45rpm and too slow at 33rpm! So I'm sorry Mr Wobble but this one just doesn't hit the sweet spot. 3 out of 10.
The Emperor Machine - RMI Is All I Want
Prequel 12" single from the forthcoming Emperor Machine album which I am looking forward to immensely. The Emperor Machine uses analog synths to create refined electro tracks with plenty of variation. But what is RMI? Remote Management Interface? Radio Magnetic Interference? Radical Musical Instruments? I have no idea. The A-side has a rocking electro track.. absolutely brilliant. The B-side contains an Erol Alkan remix of RMI Is All I Want which introduces a lot of voice, which I found rather annoying - I prefer a non-vocal form of electro. As such, it is not as strong as the original mix. But this single is a great taster for the album and had me salivating for more. Can't wait. 8 out of 10.
Ion Ludwig - Mr. Nubilous
Fast paced driving technobeat track with a haunting growl of a synth pumping atmosphere into Polarized Colors on the A-side of this vinyl-only release. The B-side track, the oddly titled No Man Can Be One Way You Should See , continues the fast pace with an infectious beat and a driving bass line. Thoroughly enjoyable and a clear dance floor winner. 9 out of 10.
Cristi Cons - Basorelief
Hugely energetic EP by another Romanian, published on his own label. Cristi Cons was classically trained as a musician and uses that to produce uplifting tracks with plenty of rhythmic sensation and a classy bass line that underpins it. The EP continues at a pace, seemingly faster than other minimal techno tracks although that is a misnomer, as it is the rhythmic undertones of this release that gives you the feeling of energy behind the tracks. The B-side continues where the A-side finished, and the final track has an utterly killer bounce to it. Entertaining. 8 out of 10.
Manuel Tur - Es Cub
Deep house album with a rather stripped-back sound, in places classy minimal techno. Manuel clearly knows his genre and brings a lot of skill and class to this album. There is something for everyone on it and you'll happily blow an hour of time listening to it. Recommended! 8 out of 10.
Birdsmakingmachine - Birdsmakingmachine 004
Typical Birdsmakingmachine fodder - a hypnotic beat with the usual sound effects, cleverly interspersed with refrains that tamper with the beat. On this release he has peeled back the complexity a little to create a much more laid back set of tracks. Rather good, in fact perhaps one of my favorite BMM releases so far. 9 out of 10.
David Gtronic & Chad Andrews - Bartomeu EP
Four tracks of deep techno, two of which are remixes by Randall M and Brett Jacobs. This is a highly polished release with fabulous flow. The remixes are utterly stunning too. This gets a very rare 10 out of 10.
Birdsmakingmachine - Birdsmakingmachine 002
I am a little late to the party on this one, but my copy only arrived this morning. Three tracks of beautifully crafted minimal techno with a catchy beat and a driving bass line. On the lead track, Multiverse, the occasional string synth breathes across the track as it builds and builds. The B-side features two tracks the first of which goes a little further into deep house territory. Then the EP finishes with a faster paced techno track called Dune. All great stuff. 8 out of 10.
Volkan Akin - Hellocopter EP
Two tracks of german minimal techno, limited to 300 copies on vinyl only. Both tracks are rather broody and dark with the occasional voiceover and a rather unconventional stuttering drum roll here and there. Nice production, easy to listen to and would fit into a mix well. I give it 8 out of 10.
Vrac - Pertu EP
Three tracks of contemporary, beautifully balanced romanian-style techno. It's a vinyl-only release limited to a few hundred copies so get your hands on one quickly if you want it. I love this style of music - it has nuance, subtlety and simplicity, despite the complexity of the beat. It get9 out of 10.
Suburbs - Plaiesii Ep
Romanian duo creating the Romanian minimal techno style, a favorite of mine right now. Plaiessi is the first track which you will find brooding and downright slow. in fact I played it at 45rpm initially and felt it was slow whereas the intended speed is 33rpm! As the track proceeds it unfolds before you as the drums come to the fore and twirl in the air around you. Rather cool. The pace increases with the final track of the A-side, Tool 2, which pops and clangs along with an off-canter beat. Romanian techno always uses rhythm hooks with obscure sound effects and this is a classic example of it. Turn over the disc and you get another dose of beautifully crafted drum programming, a mantra of rhythm that constantly varies. The final track, Tool 1, is another brooding track with lots of space. This is a supurb EP - not for the dance floor but an utter classy piece of techno. 9 out of 10.
Boddika & Joy Orbison - Trickey's Team
This was originally released on Record Store Day 2014 as an "Unknown Artist" dub plate 10" and every single person waiting in line outside Phonica Records in London wanted one, me included. As it turns out, I am not sure it is that limited in quantity because they still have them in stock three weeks later. But it is a great track - intriguingly different and rather foot tapping. If you're a DJ it is guaranteed to create a line of people asking you what it is. I give it 8 out of 10.
STL - Something Vinyl Series 23
I am a bit late in getting to this one - I had it sitting on a shelf for a while, which is a pity as it is rather good. There are a lot of hip-hop influences in this EP and while I am not a huge fan of hip-hop, I do enjoy a little sprinkled here and there. This EP delivers just the right amount, with a hip-hop beat married to a melancholic series of loops that work well if you're in that sort of mood. What's also cool is that both sides of the record have an infinite loop at the end - all rather good. It's dark techno with a twist and it gets 7 out of 10.
Etapp Kyle, Mod21 & Artefakt - Prologue Portefeuille Three
Killer dark atmospheric techno from Etapp Kyle followed by a track from Mod21 that builds and builds beautifully but never really turns into something before it ends. I love the Mod21 track for what it is, but feel it could have really turned into something with a sting in its tail. Both of the first tracks would freak out the neighbors at volume. Then Artefakt close it off with a track that reminds me of the clickety-clack of a train and it builds to a perfect crescendo - it's like a modern day version of Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express. Overall, this is a really cool dark techno record. It gets 9 out of 10 and would have been a perfect 10 if that Mod21 track had done something at the end.
Neneh Cherry - Everything (Remixes)
Historically, I have loved Neneh Cherry's music so I bought her latest album and was not disappointed. Without hearing them first, I also bought these remixes by Villalobos and Loderbauer of Everything. Oh dear - what a disappointment. The drum tracks are too high in the mix and they ruined what was a beautiful song. The B-side "Low Blood Pressure" mix is superior to the A-side, and the drums are actually very cool, but the volume disparity of the mix is off-putting. It gets 3 out of 10. Sorry.
Kash & Yate - Redrum Murder
Germany and Ukraine combine on this minimal techno 12" that knocks your socks off when played loud. Redrum Murder has great bass and a stabbing, pulsating synth drum that makes for a very danceable ditty. I love this sort of stuff! The B-side Doin Right is a more normal affair and doesn't stand up to the powerful A-Side. There are only 300 copies of this in the world and they never repress, so get it while you can. 7 out of 10 overall, but a 9 for the A-side.
Various Artists - Body Parts V2
You have probably never heard of Alsi, or Stab9, or Yate or Eric. They're all east european minimal techno artists who have been grouped together on a classy and brilliant compilation. This big heavy slab of vinyl is a gem. Alsi kick it off with Stima Vicleana, whatever that means - neat rolling drums and tight rhythm. The Stab9 kick it up a notch with Cargo. The B side takes you down a level Yate and then finishes with Eric's Topography (Night Version) which is rather bass-heavy. It is a well balanced compilation and gets 9 out of 10.
Samuli Kemppi - Binary System EP
A master of analogue electronics, Samuli Kemppi has delivered an acidic techno delight which reminds me a great deal of the early 90s techno that I heard in clubs. But he has updated it with better production and a killer bass line without relying on the Roland TB-303 that was the mainstay of early acid. What you get is a four track masterpiece that shows he knows his way around all those knobs. This is an absolute belter of a record! 9 out of 10.
Martinez - Consolidation EP
An upbeat piece of deep techno that takes you up and down and makes you move. Martinez is Swedish and does a lot of DJing. He certainly knows a thing or two about how to get you tapping your foot. Reminds me a little of John Tejada. The Sylphe Lydlos Dub mix the better of the two tracks on this Ep. Buy it on 12" and you'll also discover a hidden track. 7 out of 10.
Kaitaro - NR01 EP
A beautifully constructed rhythmic journey is what Kaitaro takes us on in Magic Channel. It is hard not to sit at my keyboard and groove from side to side while I write this and listen to the track. Anyone who loves minimal techno knows that the secret to brilliant music is in the drum rhythm and Kaitaro is an expert in this regard. Sepp's remix of Magic Channel also delivers while Thick Fog takes us into dub/basic channel territory. A wholeheartedly deserved 9 out of 10.
Suburbs - Not So Secret Diary 03
Another Romanian record, but this one fits into the category of experimental dub techno. Suburbs are two Romanians who can make a drum machine produce a complete track without any need for other instruments. Curated by Laurine Frost, the Not So Secret Diary series has delivered a couple of gems but this one is very classy. It's hard to dislike it. I give it an 8 out of 10.
Nu Zau - Pandantiv
Romanian musician Nu Zau creates classy minimal techno that draws you in and leaves you wanting more. Pandantiv fits the mold perfectly with simple rhythms and a series of sound effects coupled to a minimal bass hum. It sounds brilliant when played loud. The only issue I have with Nu Zau's music is he doesn't vary much once he gets the track going. What you hear at the start is what you're going to get for the next ten minutes, but his rhythms are what sets him apart - they are lush and perfectly balanced. But I have a lot of Nu Zau records so he always draws me back. This one gets 7 out of 10.
Little Hado - Tea Set EP
This is billed as a summer slammer and it is certainly catchy. It has a hypnotic quality and I am sure it will have people moving in Ibiza. If you want a copy you better hurry as there are only 300 copies and there will be no repress. Little Hado hails from Romania - a country producing a stellar crop of deep house and minimal techno tracks right now. This one gets 8 out of 10.
Ittestu - Sand Blind EP
I seem to be really enjoying Japanese DJs and producers right now. I was listening to DJ Nobu the other day and all things Japanese seem to have caught my attention. Maybe I'll have sushi tonight! This Sand Blind EP is a total blast - in yer face rhythms and atmospheric clonks and booms to make for a thoroughly enjoyable spin of the turntable. 9 out of 10, easy.
Cedric Dekowski & Felix Reifenberg - El Peportile EP
Classic minimal German techno with the twist in that they use a guitar played through a fuzz box with echo. All three tracks have beautiful rhythm and the use of synth and guitar gives each a haunting feel. I have to say that I just love this release, as does my 2 year old daughter. It's something that works for pretty much any mood - perfect background music as well as great upfront in your face techno. One of my favorites of the moment. 9 out of 10.
Neta 001 by Den
Den is Tokuto Denda, a Japanese musician and producer who has lived in London and Berlin but is now based in Tokyo. Neta 001 is his debut on his own label. With a classic minimal drumbeat and a simple baseline, the A-side flows nicely as a recorded voice occasionally reads what I assume is a text, hence the title Short Novel. The B-side features two tracks that are rather different in pace to side A, but still feature spoken voice. The one drawback to all three tracks for me is that Den does not use rhythm or notes to emotionally challenge the listener. All three tracks start and continue for a few minutes. But once you have heard the first bar, you've heard the whole song. The whole EP is easy to listen to, has a nice hook and had my 2 year old daughter prancing round with glee. I'd give it a 6 out of 10.
Fumiya Tanaka - 20th Toremo
Another Japanese DJ and producer, this release is actually of two tracks he recorded in the 1990s and is intended to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Toremo label. My copy also came with a CD featuring 10 tracks of experimental music. Both tracks on the 12" are classy techno tracks with plenty of movement. The drums are particularly well programmed - you can tell he put a lot of thought into how to create emotional crescendos into the tracks. This one gets an 8 out of 10.
Rico Casazza - Leaving Las Vegas
Oh I do love a series of tracks that would fit into any mix and this is just that. Rico Casazza is an Italian producer who has a particular ear for the atmospheric techno, and Leaving Las Vegas has him at the top of his game. All four tracks feature just perfect drum tracks that have as much space in them as they do drums. Then over the top, Rico has added bass to drive the track and looming synth strings to create a virtual doppler effect. It almost feels like you're in the airport about to catch that plane. The only thing missing is the repetitive ching of the slot machines that are a feature of Las Vegas airport. I love this and give it 9 out of 10.
Bande A Part - Discours
A vinyl-only release of Matei Tulbure and Traian Chereches, 400 copies only. And this is what music is all about for me right now. Although these guys are french, they have captures the romanian minimal sound perfectly. And what a joy it is - stripped-back, naked techno with so much atmosphere you feel like you've been soaked in oxygen. One of my favorite releases of the moment. 9 out of 10.
Audio Werner - FH01
This actually came out in December 2013 but I didn't get my hands on it till now due to a shipping snafu. And boy, it was worth the wait. If you're into minimal of the romanian variety, perhaps with a twist of funk, then this is your bag. Two killer tracks that get the foot tapping and would be easy to mix into anything. There's plenty of variation too, which is typically rare with romanian style techno. I give it a 9 out of 10.
Various Artists - My Love Is Underground
Triple 12" gatefold compilation with a neat NYC skyline cover that contains obscure house tracks that are not considered classics but were somehow overlooked. There are some real gems on here, including the opening track Pressure by Aaron Arce. Remember him? I thought not. This is a very nicely packaged compilation of mainly NYC house but there is a little Chicago and Eurohouse thrown in. Vostok 3, by University of Love featuring MBG on the B-side is a laid-back italian house track that, despite 22 years old, seems quite timeless. IN fact, there is not really a bad track on this compilation. In 12 tracks, you'll feel like you have had the entire spectrum of house - classy bass lines, the inimitable drum beats, the piano, the typical house singing - you name it. I like to keep my reviews short, so bottom line is get this if you feel like reminiscing about early house. You won't regret it. 8 out of 10.
Dilated Pupils - 241020 EP
This is a bit of an oldie in that it came out in 2010 but I finally got hold of a copy on vinyl last week. You get three tracks of dub techno that fit very nicely together. What I like about this record is the separation of sounds in the mix. It has a beyond-stereo effect in many respects, making for a fantastic experience when listening with headphones. This gets 8 out of 10.