Techno’s Outer Limits :: November 2015

Latest in a series of emissions from Techno’s Twilight Zone of EPs/12″s and LPs with notes in the margins

Techno’s Outer Limits :: November 2015

Germany calling, with updates from Outer Limits go-to Stroboscopic Artefacts, which offers sonic savant Ken Karter a slot in their Monad series. Herr Karter has a thing for numbers, and has spent years down in his Kript moving math codes into musical sequences to good effect. No mouse-click-shtick DJ-tool-fool, his Monad XXI is expert knob twiddling a-go-go–tense dark space teeming with timbral tweakage. “MX-01.11” casts grey shapes adrift over a dissected rhythm with slow ritual kicks, a canopy of dust particles and other microsonics; “MX-02.11” is more structured, centred on a stepping groove cleft with a clicks’n’cut palette; “MX-04.11” infuses caustic low-end beats with deep glitchy tones and synthetic shards. “MX-03.11” is the one to watch, though, anchored with a massive slice of didge-y/digi-drone and a hail of percussive fire. Overall, KK sees/seizes the Numerical Future and mapped it onto some of the most visceral EDM tropes from recent past. Monad XX is still warm, with Zeitgeber (Lucy and Speedy J.) re-calibrating their pointilist rhythm and sound mix, stirring shapes from the darkness, propelling dissonant sequences and wavering machine hum with slushy beat cycles. And inaugural Monad man, Chevel, has just a full-length, Blurse, which doesn’t sound Techno at all–more on an ‘experimental’ tip, all chopped beats, jarring drum kit grabs and ‘block’ percussion (nods to dubstep) with a fizzing patina, replete with radio static, processed sound bites, and decay FX. SA bossman Lucy moonlights from his label dayjob for Samurai Horo (Samurai Music Group‘s experimental arm) to deliver The Descent [Chapter 1] (Lucy Remixes). His retools smear creepy captures from Pact Infernal‘s The Descent [Chapter I] over a sinuous 4-on-the-floor into two long form pulsing hypnotic groove slabs; the “Cosmic Remix,” at 14 minutes, and “Subterranean Remix,” at 11+, make up the most compelling 25 minutes of Outer Limits Techno you’ll hear this year. No hype!

Still in Germany, Christian Gerlach launches with the Hi Line Extraction EP, featuring an original mix from Edit Select and remixes from two usual headf**k suspects, Mike Parker and Claudio PRC. Lanthan, geologically a rare earth metal, mythologically a hidden or evasive entity, seeks to mix music with architecture and photography, featuring ‘innovative, indestructible and powerful remixes from respected producers.’ The Select man’s “Hi Line Extraction” is a fervid track with pellucid synth, bass throb and swingeing hi-hat; Parker riffs around with his signature flange to give the track a mesmeric turn; Signore PRC endows it with a new mood, stretching out some of the original elements into swirling strands. Quite the busy boy lately, Edit Select has remixes for Jeff Rushin on Wall Music Seraphim Rytm and Sonitus Echo for Silent Season, not forgetting the A Continuation EP on CLR. This latter imprint also hosts ROD (Dutchman Benny Rodriguez) for the intriguing HKH EP. The title track, more on the peak time side of things, is nicely infused with deep pads for a Detroit spin, but “GHT” tops it with a trippy twist. Before leaving DE, back to Lanthan for seconds, and Deepbass‘s Alto EP, with remixes from Aegis, Reggy van Oers and Ness. “Alto” is the Glaswegian’s customary ethereal pulsing cosmo-scape with bass-pulse and refined atmo, break-beaten by Aegis, hypno-gogued by RVO, low-end pressure released by Ness, who keeps it blue-skied, blissed and ambient trance-kissed.

Over in Belgium, usual suspects Token host Ctrls for a sixth EP already! The Two Worlds EP melds turbo-charged rhythms and celestial synth-work into spiky jack tracks. On “Two Worlds” the Phat Ctrl-er has Elysian synth-fields extend over its prelude, before letting glitched-up drum loops loose to skitter through a reduced version, playing like mixer taps with the hot-cold elements. The flipside ventures into harder terrain, thumping low-end and mordant melodies, similarly mixing timbres. “Onto Them” is laced with close-cut delays and groaning spring reverbs, adding a rough edge to a precise production. News also of a second album from Ø [Phase], Alone in Time?, which displays a sleight of hand in linear arrangements shaped to fit the warehouse frame, plus a hint of Detroit tint. A less charted story of Ø can be found in tracks like “Remote”, a homage to electro, the jittery, alien grooves of “Spacialize,” “Mo_del” and “Nep-tune,” Big Room prods on “Orbitron” and “R-Mash,” and navigation through conceptual references to cosmology, time and isolation on the title track. Somewhere between the kickdrum-bassline intermesh of Ø [Phase] and the sonic aesthetic of Inigo Kennedy’s twinkling melancholia, the imprint satiates its thirst for fresh UK blood by snaring Sigha for a stylistically sleek and suitably booming 12”. Previously on Hotflush, Avian, Blueprint, and his own Our Circula Sound), the Berlin-based Brit’s first away from a label he’s not intrinsically related to, Our Father / A Better Way Of Living is a 12” full of cosmic vibrations and warehouse steel.

BleeD hosts a deep techno trip by Rote, a pairing of label owner, Volte-Face, with chum, Daniel Avery, best known for his Drone Logic LP. EP 1‘s two tracks are characterized by dense atmosphere, tense white-noise and Space-echoed flourishes hitched to a tough techno backbone. “Rote 1,” economical and direct, equal parts hypnotic and subtly uplifting, “Rote 2” more of a heads-down broken beat bent, taking flight with propulsive hi-hats and transcendent pads. Remix-wise, the source material is deployed to good effect by Nobu, who takes things deep and polyrhythmic, Svreca more minimal and immersive. Another BleeD-ing edge 12” sees V-F All Grown Up with an EP of 3 clubbed-up tracks, an ambient interlude, and a remix. Best by far is the snappily titled “The Power Of Christ Compels You,” a dark-hued little scamp, loitering with menacing stabs and white-noise slashes; title track offers brief beatless respite before DJ Spider‘s remix closes in for the kill.

Next up a confab between Ike Yard‘s Stuart Argabright‘s Black Rain project and Nino Pedone (aka Shapednoise), in whose Berlin studio the pair hunkered down to make a trio of tracks, with a retool by Miles of library-tech duo Demdike Stare. Pedone’s Cosmo Rhythmatic is devoted to more outer limits activity than his other joint label project, Repitch, and Apophis, named after humanity-threatening asteroid 99942, certainly fits that bill, with a set of crushing celestial tech-noise objects bespeaking a potential eschatalogical event and its aftermath. The lads are clearly steeled and ready for what may come, from “Metal Home” with its premonition of rubbling noise forces and slivers of electronic salvation to the thunderous, scudding speedcore mass of “Autonomous Lethality” or the double-time slithery slap of “Interceptor.” Miles comes at it from a parallel cyberpunk universe on the Greater Manc edge, his Ramen reshape hammering away its angles till it extrudes a slurry of tech tropes. Argabright and Pedone give “Interceptor” a bit more kick, hi-hat propulsion driving it out of dystopian torpor onto fuggy floor.

Not really techno, but compellingly close is Stärker, synth’n’noise project of Montreal vets Frederic Arbour, Dark Ambient Don of Cyclic Law, and Martin Dumais of power-ambient cosmic-drone-doomers, AUN. Arbour brings to bear the heft of his power electronics projects, while Dumais deploys layers of distortion and cavernous resonance. Stärker’s sound, aptly on Italian Concrete, claims inspiration from the Brutalist architecture movement of the ’50s, presenting in pared back greyscale retro-futurist tracts of deep-space M.I.A. melody and machine drone’n’pulse. That’s the sound of Sallow, all enthralling dark drones and veiled rhythms–like the calm with the kick inside. Also booted in Concrete: Barks and Requires Resurrection, with a remix by Ayarcana, and Castles by Kafka (not that Kafka, and not The Castle either), with remixes from Tomas Jirku and Thegn. Meanwhile, Castles Part 2 has sprung up, and his “Burr” stands out on the Reclaim Your City‘s Dnepr _Vancouver 1.0 comp, third in a series showcasing talents from techno-centric regions across the globe (dedicated, btw, to sadly passed Italian techno legend, Max_M of M_Rec).

Still in Italian parts, we flushed out OWL (Mirko Peschiaroli to his Mum) with his analog-head mate, Livai, whose Argan EP first came to our attention, but the trail led back from here to OWL’s fine Eclissi EP–on their own label, Anekoic. Now facciamo un saltino over to Outis, where capo Dino Sabatini hosts Chapter II (The beginning), recalling how ‘it all began about ten years ago in a basement in the heart of Rome […] a crew of people who followed a musical ideal and created an original sound and an unmistakable style […] memories once again led me to friends I made during the period of the first productions on Elettronica Romana, and I asked them for personal interpretations of the track “Beginning.”’ (from the Modern Heads ‘comeback’ release (Outis 006))–revisits from his tre amici, Donato DozzyGiorgio Gigli and Claudio PRC.

To Amsterdam, where Delsin‘s deep house leanings bring Artefakt with The Fifth Planet EP. The Dutch duo has been peddling atmospheric techno for a few years on labels like Field and Prologue, and opener “Transit” gets straight into the zone with a heady track with rubbery kicks smeared with skewed synth drilling down deep to good effect and affect. “From Our Minds To Yours” is more direct, again rooted in a rolling and roiling beat, synths lighter, with an airier trance-like uplift. The title track closes with celestial melodic motifs, heavy synth daubs and tingling pads around a ticking techno groove. ESHU has more technoid invention from Tom Liem and Rotterdam man Ben Buitendijk on their Split 01 EP. BB’s “Equilibrium Two” is perfectly streamlined and serene spaced out hypno-tech with gentle synth pulses and ethereal pads; TL’s “Contact” is full of synth-y bubble and tick over a subliminal groove, while his “This Is All You Need” is more textured with frosty lines and rickety pads, trance-like drums and dynamic bass filtration.

Amsterdam man Jeff Rushin’s deft programming and arranging skills are in evidence on A Figment of His Imagination (on UK Mote Evolver imprint), projecting sui generis atmospherics and emotional nuances with a more or less classic techno palette. Opener “Coda” is an audio nightfall exhibit of suspense-building: a shivering sequence slowly creeps into the listener’s headspace, recedes, and returns with a heavy mob of claps and kicks. “Facing the Truth” continues in this vein, the same huge kick, cymbal shiver and glacial pads, while “Enigma” feels like a walk in a forest translucent filaments, a glassine chiming running hook-like through it. Finale “A Figment of his Imagination” is all hydraulic pump action, though Rushin’s nous safeguards it from being a by-numbers industrial pounder. Away from the mainstream is Conforce man Boris Bunnik’s Techno-IDM hybrid, Hexagon, on his Transcendent. Hidden Territories is deep technoid music with filmic atmo, title track bordering on interstellar desolation–hommage to 606-rhythmics topped with emotive strings for a moody slice of electroid Menschmaschine action. “Pitch Black” bases itself on broken beat patterns, functional but haunting, while “Continuum” dives deeper with sparkling FX and woozy pads; the more techno-leaning “Systematic Repetition” ends in pulsating modular bleeps and dubby bass, its territories peeling to reveal.

Still in NL, Planet Rhythm has been pretty hyper lately–what’s more with a whole heap of goodies. Upcoming Parisian force Von Grall presents his No Contact EP in PR’s Black series, pushing three original tracks ranging from the dancefloor-driven “Quadratic” to the trippier “No Contact,” and even deeper into dark atmospheric sounds on “Molecular Collision,” with a Claudio PRC remix clinching the deal for a strong PR exercise. But the digital series has killed it, though, with EPs from new and no-name: Black Run from SufletPermanent State Of Momentum from YYYY, and, best of all, Dinamite’s Doxa, and Gotshell’s Pine Gab and Cantabria.

Back to matters Italian, we find Giorgio Gigli in The Right Place Where Not to Be, his first full-length ‘sonic movie,’ as Electric Deluxe would have it, proclaiming portentously: ‘After a deep exploration of several kinds of electronic dance music, Giorgio Gigli’s music has assumed an intense and personal form of communication.’ Blimey, steady on. There’s more hyperbole, though, as Gio ‘explores sophisticated ambient layers as much as obsessive and hypnotic techno landscapes which emerges from the depth of his soul and which properly filters every musical input he’s developed over the years.’ And there you were thinking he was just some I am what I play DJ, and lookee here, the guy’s a visionary! Anyway, enough frippery, this is serious business–we’re dealing with ‘a scenario where all human and animal life-forms have perished and only plants and minerals have survived.’ (bugger—did I stock up on coffee?). So ‘Giorgio performs an ultra-detailed soundtrack to an imaginary movie, which sees the album focused on obsessive rhythmics cut on low frequencies, a persistent motion, and a stable tremor.’ Mind how you go, Giorgio!

Transitioning seamlessly from Gigli (‘lilies’ in Italian) to Hydrangea, whom Annulled Music gives a first full-length berth to in Dawn Lights, an Ambient Techno set that ‘lead us to feel the vibrations and sensations of the four seasons of the earth. In this way each note allows us to appreciate as time advances inexorably for our lives to make way for the next generations.’ (trust me, it gets better when you hear it!). We note too the flowery French artist’s remix on Polish producer Tawbaq’s Greed EP on Hypnotic Landscapes, as we also appreciate Annulled for giving us the fabulously titled Unforgettable call of the octopus by Monochrome, which purportedly ‘attempts to transform auditives waves into a travel for mind.’ (tip for the austerity-afflicted holiday planner!); there’s more in the holiday brochure: ‘his work take us to the ocean depths, where light becomes dark and animals must exploit their scarce resources. It’s here that we find the limits of existence, the struggle for survival is present in every inch and every creature extends a supreme and hostile war, where nature and evolution take sides.’ What we have here is murky, oceanic techno complete with depth charge beats and echoing sonar blips. Polychromatically monochrome!

Still in IT we find Sonntag Morgen, which trafficks in Techno with a twist of Dub, some dark and eerie influence, and harmonic rhythmicity. Still hot to trot is Concept of Thrill‘s Vrede EP, but it’s the Culture Series we’re pointing you to here, with co-curators Tracy and MTD aiming at quarterly instalments, Antonio Ruscito‘s 005 being just the latest. The profusion of quality Italian goods continues with Synthek inaugurating his own label with Verse I. “Escape from Reality” comes via deep diving into creeping reverberant rhythm, “Alchemy” continuing the inter-dimensional quest; on the B-side “Found Myself” prepares the ground for full realization in the final “Chain Reaction,” in which a resplendent synthline roams appealingly mystically over tribal-esque drums and claps.

Italian veteran Leo Anibaldi commemorates 25 years in the production biz by inaugurating a remix project to give some of his old works a makeover. The Remixes will be published on Cannibald in four different vinyls involving collabs with some of his favorite artists, the first involving a shack-up with canny Swede, Sebastian Mullaert (of Minilogue). The Evocation EP is based on reworks of a track from an early 90s album Void, on which Mullaert sprinkles his own inimitable fairy dust over four introspective and meditative tracks. Mullaert allows us to Italy domination as we note the resumption of his Wa Wu We project; ‘focused on improvisational expression, restful meditation, and the nature surrounding his studio,’ he follows on last year’s WaWuWe 01 almost seamlessly with (wait for it) WaWuWe 02. “A1” and “B1” unfold into deep nuanced tracts of textured pads, winding leads, rhythms and samples in constant motion, frequencies transforming from aether to sound, melding melodies and nudging grooves through countless configurations. Immersive ambient techno redolent of Dozzy/Voices From The Lake, even seminal tech-texturalist, Gas, with improvisation, on-the-fly mixing and sneaky micro-experiments lending personal voice, feeding the impression of music in the process of realization.

To Spain now, and one of TOL’s go-tos, Circular, hosts Kanthor for The Abnormality, an EP they reckon creates ‘a unique world of deep, clear, transparent sound architectures,’ in which ‘all tracks are designed deeply emotional and bare a picture of modern electronic music, approaching the listener to a mysterious and mindblowing place in the techno universe’ Big raspberry to the blurb writer, big ups to the Music. Also on the Circular line is Maxime, who promulgates the True Nature of Reality (that’s an EP not a philosophical revelation), with two original works from him and a version from serial remix offender, Dorian Gray. Both artists have provided ‘stripped back hypnotic productions immersed in deep tones and intense evolving atmospheres.’ Which is nice… Iberian shifting, Portugal’s Soniculture has Apart present his Paradox, ‘dense and hypnotic techno, uniting dynamics of black spectra, distant and dense tones.’ Interested? Not even if I said it ‘switches intense melodies, broken by powerful forces that develop in enigmatic and seductive environments.’? “Quantizing Chaos” for example, is ‘both smooth and choppy, with swift melodies and aquatic action.’ Gotcha now, haven’t I? Shifting again, Spain’s S. Moreira is hosted by Berlin’s Slow Life for From A Cosmic Perspective, a deep spatial shack-up with one of our faves, Refracted, featuring an original each and a mutual remix.

Still Sweden-connected, more droning darkside hypnotics from the Hypnus camp with Various Adepts II featuring tracks from usual adept Luigi Tozzi, newbie Feral, and old boy, BLNDR, who also recently released his own Movement Strobe EP. The customary crafted somewhat ritual organically-reared techno, “Movement Strobe (01)” is deep and a-swim with bird calls over broken beat thud offering momentum in the background of a tunneling melody. “Movement Strobe (02)” nods to Mike Parker with a gnarly acidic bassline and chthonic kick. “Movement Strobe (03)” is advanced Zooloft-style deep techno, while the Evigt Morker re-think is rich in hallucinogens. Tip! And don’t forget we tipped you the wink on Periskop’s immense Immerse on Hypnus affiliate Kabalion. You heard it first here!

Having first emerged as one of the last contributors to the now defunct Sandwell District, the enigmatic Rrose has been busy again with a twin-prong attack of EPs on his Eaux imprint. The lukewarm For Aquantice is quickly forgotten in the face of a hotter second, Vanishing Pools. Proceedings commence with the creepy modular throb and off-kilter touches of “Hole,” before ratcheting up the intensity on the discordant dancefloor buzz of “Purge.” The droning industrial-tinged metallic “Curl” leads on to “Adrift,” which shirks the dancefloor imperative to consort with mood and texture. Finale “Undergrowth” is a standout–a slowly evolving paranoid chunk of bastardized ambient trance that seals the deal with the customary Rrose stamp of quality and distinction.

Finally, we round off with a miscellany. The Field EP launches the Telemorph label, Reggy van Oers and Claudio PRC‘s pact–two tracks tripping the dark-light fantastic between both men’s sound tweaked with eponymous recordings. Man Worships Power, first in a series joining Dustin Zahn’s Enemy and Emmanuel’s ARTS, each label taking a side–“Bark Like a Dog…” already having serial spins from Truncate and “Cargo” common currency among DJs like Rødhåd. Arts also hosts Subjected for the Steel EP, a perfectly executed, effect guaranteed, reduced Techno stomper with a martially percussive remix from Northern Electronicist, Acronym (Ambro (Acronym Remix). Granulart label boss Valentin Corujo, half of Exium in solo Kessell guise, brings Emerging Organisms EP, and the Uncover 1.0 12”, compiling Architectural, BLNDRPulse One, and Hironori Takahashi. Moeller & Marcelus hit Singular Records with The Travelogue EP for an exhibit of what happens when two heady dub techno and house worlds collide: two distinct sides, the A-side with “Phaser Core” and “The Fog,” heavy driving floor-focused, the B-side’s “Travelogue 1” and “Travelogue 2” diving into deeper head-swim waters. Semantica hosts Mod21 with his There’s No One full-length, while CRS entertain Vilix with Clouds Series Volume II. Lastly, fresh from L.I.E.S and Dog in the Night outings, we dwell a bit on White Visitation‘s intriguing installment for NY’s Blank Slate. Blank Slate 010 opens with “Maintain,” dense, creepy, dark and intense, with foreboding textures and woozy electronics enveloping a thickset techno groove. The IDM-inspired bliss of “Close Your Eyes And Dream of Screaming” is—despite the off-putting title—an oneiric delight. Strongest, though, is “Take It Again”, a delightfully chopped-and-skewed slab of pitch-shifted euphoria.

Explore more, with selected works in the soundcloud below and the latest mix in albient‘s series, Dalliance #12.

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