Latest in a series of emissions from Techno’s Twilight Zone of EPs/12″s and LPs with notes in the margins.
Stroboscopic Artefacts‘ updates its Monad series with Monad XXIII, as Charlotte Isabelle ‘deliver a uniquely organic electronic music that seems as if it has been finely aged for years in oak barrels rather than residing on a computer’s hard drive.’ The French duo pursue Monad’s envelope-pushing sub-mission, “Anaba” tone-setting with hissing metallic timbres and creeping bass sequences; “Geridoo” infuses a percussive frame with snare rolls and layered drones—‘an archaeological exercise carried out with beats and tones as the main exploratory tools.’ The more ritual-inflected “Desba” makes the blurb’s ‘tension between atmospheres of ultra-modernism and pre-industrial craftsmanship’ more felt; Monad XXIV, OAKE’s first since Auferstehung showed the duo’s ‘satanic majesties’ potential’ (Juno Plus), makes it more palpable, a ‘rigorous balance of ethereal vocal seduction and concussive rhythm, making one feel thrust into a world where the forces of techno-science and magic are involved in a constant reciprocal conversation’ (sc).
Shifted is back with a bang, bringing Six Steps To Resurgence, a first since Arrangements In Monochrome I/II. Gruzzy industrial, drone, power electronics and noise blend with more tailored nods to the ‘floor with an ascetic palette of greyscale synthesis, as the Avian maven ‘draws the focal point of his music away from any fixed point, and careful, sporadic modulation of just a handful of elements’ for ‘a powerful, hypnotic energy across the full course of the work,’ drones the blurb. There’s the inaugural DRFT001 for new Drifting Over imprint too, harking back to earlier Mote Evolver and Our Circular Sound, which works in a ‘fiercely repetitive and powerfully reduced’ mien; leads pitch and bend, as discreet white noise kinetics dip in and out of roiling percussion buoyed by low end pressure, shucking off more fleshed and fluid Arrangements for more austere drum-workouts, abruptly dropping in and out in a distilled mix-thetic. Incoming Hospital album, Appropriation Stories, lands aswespeak, drawing on his techno, noise and exp. electronics projects to unearth a once-hidden past in d’n’b with ‘rigorous processing and studio treatments transform classic breaks into deeply hidden components that add new layers of character to his highly-developed techno sound.’ Techno will eat itself!
Berlin’s Reclaim Your City follows Berlin Paris 2.0 and Stockholm Helsinki 1.0 with Madrid Glasgow 1.0, two cities espousing some of the finest Outer Limits techno. Héctor Oaks and Svreca load the Madrid side with some heavy ammo while Glasgow’s is freighted with eerie space and depths-soundings from Deepbass and TOL fave Edit Select, whose “Breathe in Exhale” gets visualized by ever-intriguing tube-VJs, the29nov Films. Also incoming from on his eponymous label is a collab with Antonio Ruscito, Visitors – Projections, on which ‘melodies of the tracks combine perfectly with haunting atmospheres weaving analog lines and attention to detail that makes for a very unique soundtrack with essential forward thinking ideas and sounds.’
A Berlin bunker is the studio source of Dax J‘s atmo-assault for J-bro Speedy‘s Electric Deluxe. Illusions Of Power‘s theme is: ‘political corruption, the collapse and seizure of control, sparring nations, war, drugs, gangs and the fraudulent, media systems that spin it all into rolling, fear-mongering 24 hour loops. […] the horrors of the modern world and a humanity haunted by its bloodied past.’ So, it’s no hands-in-air-like-you-just-don’t-care fare, then, as traces from acid to ambient to d’n’b, familiar from previous work on various incl. his Monnom Black, run through “Reign Of Terror” and “Harry The Hatchet” (A-side), “Zulu Nation” and “The Quest” (flip). Two different diversions from the dance come in the angst-ridden “Cartagena Square” and the more oneiric break-beats of “Breaking Visions,” one shadowy and ominous, the other with light and a sense of hope.
Back in black off the back of DoNotResistTheBeat! debut LP, Tragedy Of Truth, Milton Bradley returns to The End Of All Existence. Milton Bradley’s roots in the rough dark Berlin of the late ’80s show less in this side project, which leans more towards a dark ambient bent that’s less of this world—more of an eschatological soundtrack. The End Of All Existence Part III, the first revisit since 2011, has a similar sound-vision to previous hear-feel, with the picture’s black a pitcher black, as in the droning pulse monsters,”Choir Of Devastation” and “6 Minutes Before Dawn”; not that “Post Apocalyptic Being” and “Echoes Of The Nameless”offer any relief from the bleak dystopian pall. Back to realism, Patrik Carrera has had a trio of 12″s on his Paranoid Dancer in 2016, but no Paranoid Dancers come near Alexander Kowalski‘s evil twin d_func.‘s pitch perfect pumper, Patterns Of Confusion.
Berlin still—Reggy Van Oers‘ unwontedly introspective album, Taciturn Manner on his own Telemorph. Zee Marla Osh‘s visualization for “Primal Need” sets the tone, field recording core underpinning ‘a persistent continuous movement throughout the elements of the tracks [which] causes a certain contrasting tension and gradually transforms into lush cinematic textures. An intricate and mesmerizing journey, full of rich and surprising details, resulting in an expression of his constraint style and coherent distinct sound.’
Weekend Circuit WC’s next two brace’s provenance is Buenos Aires, whence YYYY dial in Intention Of Mortal, a quartet of tracks from the duo, with a remix release to follow—Lucy, Stanislav Tolkachev, Varg and Ascion retooling. Most recent WC EP, Alfredo Mazzilli‘s Invisible Entity, is still hot. For reference points, the Italian young’un has previous on Edit Select and Planet Rhythm, the ‘ambient and deep depths of the dark side of techno’ targeted, nods to Dozzy and Dino Sabatini, Sandwell District and Substance. Title track juggernaut sets the tone, then on to Zadig‘s kick-driven remix, chewy with 4-on-the-floor gristle, “No Way Out”‘s algorithmic tinkering, Echologist rounding things off, his techno cut with industrial heft. Mazzilli is coopted by Christian Gerlach for Lanthan.Audio, the Nibiru EP, dedicated to the Babylonian gods, evoking arcane rituals, etc.; Wrong Assessment‘s retool is pretty down-to-earth, focusing on the piece’s core with a deeper feel; “Ishtar” is duly ceremonial, though, a feeling further pursued in Iori‘s remix, while “Marduck” ‘combines the heavy architecture of old temples, but with an ease that welcomes the coming months with joyful anticipation.’ Oh aye?
Boris Bunnik indulges two aliases via his Transcendent label. Conforce‘s Narrative Collapse EP tells of ‘an island boy in an multicultural harbour metropolitan city’ involved in ‘a transition from the serene tranquility of the islandic coasts to the impatient impulsiveness rush of the metropolitan city,’ driving ‘music created though more impulsive machine jamming’ (sc). Silent Harbour creates ‘music for an imaginary deep mental abstract excursion,’ remote from the ‘floor, blending ambient techno and electro-acoustic, shaping ‘scapes from elemental sources, diffuse drones and hallucinatory tones; here, with his Echocord debut‘s vinyl remaster, ‘4/4 anchored rhythms are fractured, percussion sent to scout the perimeters while the vast space between becomes playground to radiant metallic timbres and strafing electronic apparitions.’ Well worth a revisit. Forthcoming in November back on his most regular label, Delsin, with a new EP, North to South – Part 2, the second in a series started earlier this year. It’s a typically deep set hitching driving drums to spacious pads full of smooth and serene atmospherics.
After years of unashamed hedonism, organizing parties and bringing artists to Seattle, Secondnature, ‘an artist collective focused on bringing expansive electronic music to the Pacific Northwest,’ gets serious label status with Oil Panes from Berlin-based American, Fugal: four questing tracks with a remix from Semantica svengali, Svreca, marking Fugal’s ‘unique approach to techno that challenges preconceived notions of convention, structure, and temporality.’ Lordy! Label advisory: ‘the tracks collectively construct a cohesive narrative that evokes a mental headspace of its very own.’ Nnniice! Svreca meanwhile adds to Semantica‘s commemorative comp series with SEMANTICA 10.III lining up Abdulla Rashim, Claudio PRC, Evigt Mörker, and Edit Select, and 10.IV Peter Van Hoesen, Wata Igarashi, Etapp Kyle, and Marco Shuttle. And don’t sleep on Material Object‘s Shimmers.
New Barcelona label, Ephemeral Manoeuvres, seeks ‘a way to express ourselves shaping experiences in first person about ephemeral concepts.’ Anatomy of Melancholia by Agnosia initiates with ‘a travel through the dreams of a person who has lost somebody on his course of life’ characterised by ‘powerful droned and fuzzy pads and winds, teleporting us inside the deepest part of our mind and ephemeral voices inviting you to be part of it.’ Memory of a pile of sub-emo piffle in babelfish-style Spanglish is thankfully wiped by some decent droney shoegazey tech chops.
Back Stateside, Chicago’s Tunnel, via his own webuildmachines—professing to be ‘interested in expanding the definition of techno music and modern ritual’—issues Emergence, an LP purporting to reflect its time, gratifyingly delivering rather more than accompanying deep-and-meaningless signifiers of portent promise: ‘diverse, intense, spiritual in essence, light and dark in equal parts.’ More? ‘Emergence is the becoming of what was always meant to be.’ Yeah, baby. Moving on swiftly, webuildmachines hosts Parisian Kanthor for Vinculum, somewhat sepulchral fare offering a perfect pretext for some even more cryptic promo plonk (withheld. Ed.).
Brooklyn-Berlin-based Chronicle, ‘a label dedicated on documenting valid explorations of powerful electronic waveform transmissions and experiences. A path, a force, sonic understanding’ (pay attention at the back) issues Arnaud Le Texier‘s Hybrid Destination. Le Texier has ranged from cosmic interludes to transcendent doof-ism with his Children of Tomorrow, likewise here, notably including a tribute to the late Max_M‘s ‘music and immensely dignified curatorial prowess.’ A poignant tribute that stands as a personal note amidst an EP of propulsive techno primed for deep space exploration.
To less mapped Outer Limits, Budapest knackered house boy S Olbricht debuts on Lee Gamble‘s UIQ with the ZZM EP, ‘a quartet of chiming punch-drunk ambient techno and smeared house’ referred to by a Hungarian site as ‘laid back pumpa’! Co-founder of Farbwechsel, Olbricht has previous for Opal Tapes and Lobster Theremin, which hosted his For Perfect Beings. Olbricht’s most seductive and hypnagogic production to date, says UIQ, with ‘a key subtlety and firm-but-light touch that works so well on tenderised minds and bodies.’ Ooh! It rolls and tumbles deep into midnight-hour moods, from the harmonic suspensions of “137x3brk” and the out-of-reach rumble and rim shot flickers threade through the headswim of “Ktyring” through to gristly timbres and glowing chords sutured into the knackered kinetics of the Actress-y “J_UC” and, finally, the heaven-sent Huerco S-esque ambience of “F1oa1.” On to Latvia, where Cut hosts Russia’s Moduleset for the Vent LP, ‘each of the 8 pieces, a journey into the foggy, ethereal space where patience is rewarded. This is ambient, dub-techno, experimental bass and more.’ What that ‘more’ might be is, frankly, elusive, but less is good enough here.
Revisiting January’s Contemporary Spaces, Paul Boex and Dave Miller‘s Abstract Division brings the first in a remix series, Contemporary Spaces, The Remixes pt.1, to Dynamic Reflection. Label residents Stefan Vincent and Deepbass & Ness are joined by DR debs Tensal and Lewis Fautzi, the former reshaping “The Hunt” into a big banger of Brum-beat clanger opening up to a spaced out filter cascade, source synth figure tweakily fingered but still figuring, the latter’s remix of “Encounter” similarly configured with synth and percussive propulsion. Deepbass & Ness drive “Passenger” down a dark dub tech tunnel of echoing drums and hiss-tick percussives, while Vincent cloaks “Glide”—the original EP’s ‘scape intro—in soft-focus synths for a nice piece of breakbeat-techno. The bodiless heads get a digi-bonus of “The Hunt” from Dutch young un, Haeken, who turns it into a hypnotic loop with an old school feel. Staying low land-wise, some moody reverberant Tech-trips come via Konstrukt from Dutch-Swedish alliance, Artefakt & Evigt Mörker, whose Konstrukt 003 is ‘All sounds running together, combined, fused or following. Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night.’ (Who writes this guff? Ed.). And there’s a drop due in November from Head Konstruktor, Doka, himself, whose Konstrukt 4 picks up on an IDM hark-back strand in current Techno (good spot by FACT), moving it closer to the IDM source!
DJ/producer Shlømo goes Dutch with Darko Esser‘s Wolfskuil, site of a 2015 debut, to tout his Vanished Breath. The Frenchman has left a trail of EPs in the interim on Delsin and Singular along with his co-owned Taapion. It’s a set that showcases the breadth and depth of his productions, the title track opening with swathes of plangent pads before the sneaky head-nod of “The Ritual.” The flip brings “Obsession,” a proper stomper with full-on kick and hi-hat action, while ‘M.U.M.’ offers a synth-tastic space ride.
After a few months’ hiatus following the Sing Like a Bird (Reprise) EP, Eerie supremo Marco Shuttle is back hosting the faceless androgynous Serena Butler for Gynoids Dryads Swim Alone. A fresh-sounding release with arpeggiating synth lines layered over reverbed kick booms mixed with percussive elements of distortion and lush pads make for a release that’s at once dreamy, deep, and organic; a sound of aperture going against the prevailing claustro, musical, and in many ways counter to the default dominant dark droning of recent years. Hypnotic series of sonic waves crash one upon the other, woozy with gentle melodies and ludic rhythmicity, merging traces of dubbed-out sampling, early ’90s house, framed by a fondness for hypnagogic pop, the whole mastered by master masterer, Neel @ Enisslab. Video above—of the freaky “Hrethgir“—is not from an Eerie place, but Off White Various Artist #001 comp.
Spectralband has three artists interpret three previously released tracks for Spectralband Remixes 2.0. Aleja Sanchez remixing “Sinister,” is the stand-out, though Def4z’s “Emulsion (Beat Movement Remix),” and Bound’s “Judgement Day” aren’t too shabby at all. Still UK-basing, London’s Pacific Command commit Canny Canucks 1800HaightStreet to stoke some serious heat from Vancouver’s depths on Georhythms, promising ‘apocalyptic horns and terror-inducing drones emanating from the heavens.’ Blimey! A year on from release of Daniel Avery‘s Sensation // Clear, Phantasy Sound gives it a remix job. The Sensation (Rrose Remix)//Clear (Abdulla Rashim Remix) 12” has one-time Sandwell District adept, Rrose, tasked to transform “Sensation,” which (s)he does by re-casting the upbeat original as a clanging slab of narcotic techno crawling with infected electronics, creepy pads and soft-focus rhythms. Fellow quester Abdulla Rashim responds with a “Clear” flip felt to be ‘far bolder and more obviously club-ready than the A-side, but a little less intriguing,’ premised on percussion, ghost electronics, and off-kilter kicks. Nnniiiice!
Italy’s Cenotaph delivered the goods late last year with quondam Hypnus adept, Elle, and his Euridice EP, after which all has been quiet; now comes the Beyond the Invisible EP, a strong set of ritual-inflected drone techno from France’s Hydrangea. She also gets a remix gig from another sometime Hypnus adept, BLNDR, along with TOL fave, Synthek, on his Drone Capacity EP, a first for Natch‘s new Elements series. Meanwhile our fave ritual-lovin’ drone techno purveyors prep Stockholmer Skymn‘s Subterrane EP.
Back to Elle, his remix for Ossa Di Mare‘s Heautoscopy EP alerts us to Blackwater, Rome-London-based label founded by Pier Di Sorte aka Devianza, where we also find the Il Mare Di Capalbio EP, commemorating a town associated with Blackwater’s origins. Devianza’s original “Il Mare Di Capalbio” is a slow deep lyrical piece following the Fibonacci pattern, creating a particular rhythmic structure in the central part, bookended with sea sound samples; of the versions by Prg/M and Phorm, the former is more mesmeric, the latter more mercurial. Elsewhere in Italy, Unc, Assalti Industriali and PVS (whose “Ares” is stand-out) line up for Attic Music‘s latest D.A.N.C.E. 4.
Miscellany: Hungary’s many-monikered Tamás Olejnik dons his Organit hat for the Detect EP, following up the early year Innear, with Instinct waiting in the wings. Norway’s Annulled gives co-founder, Qeel, space to voice Internal reality, the Seville DJ/producer waxing duly introspective with a deep kick inside; meanwhile France’s Underjack gets a berth for Entering Transistor Bay, ‘raw live records of analog machines’ that translate into meditative synth-scapes. Deepest Belarus is the provenance of Cliche Morph with his Ricochet EP—a quartet of monochrome pieces of hyp-gnosis for Berlin-based Affin, whose curator Joachim Spieth happens to have his own Evaporate EP out. Poland’s Lost in Ether has a brace of goodies, the Messe Noire EP by Kanthor, incl. a Blazej Malinowski remix, and, earlier this year, Concept Of Thrill and Michal Wolski‘s Motionless EP. ‘Words mean nothing. No judgement, listening as a true value. Words from Iori. Words from Modvs.’ That’s all we get with LiT002 EP on Lyon-based Less Is Techno, mastered by Vincent Villuis of Ultimae fame. Nice stuff, though.
Lastly, towards Outer Limits beyond Techno’s is Distillation, ‘four eerie, multi-rhythmic, bass-heavy excursions, with roots in abstract hip hop and the classic d’n’b of Photek and Source Direct’ from Tokyo Samurai man, Yu Asaeda, aka Ena, here on France’s Latency. Still Samurai-related, ASC invokes his epic The Farthest Reaches, to which the new Return Of The Emissary is ‘somewhat of a spiritual successor in many ways, as it continues to forge new paths into Grey Area territory,’ tracks cut from the same genre-cidal cloth. ‘Futuristic atmospheric abstract music for the deepest minds.’ Yeah, baby.