It is wild to think that a decade has passed since Keysound began to stretch the creative boundaries of 130bpm Bass music. Indebted to the underground dubstep sound, the label’s notorious discography is treasured with releases such as Skream’s ‘Sweetz (2005 Flex)‘, LHF’s ‘Keepers of The Light‘ and Sully’s ‘Escape‘, just to name a few. While speaking to Red Bull Music Academy label-boss Blackdown claimed ‘dark 130’ was ”just a subheading in a blog post”. However, it has since evolved to become a tagline closely associated with the roster. “The Hunger” EP, Blackdown’s brand new release, comes as his fourth installment of the Rollage series. Transcending the boundaries of Jungle and Bass, the track is a culmination that demonstrates how far the London-based label has come since its inception in 2005.
The EP brings four tracks with manifold intensities that are uniformed by a shared tempo. ‘The Cycle’ takes the path of exploring the darker side of 130bpm rollage. Successive to the project’s atmospheric intro, the track is unapologetic in its ferociousness. A dystopian shade created by funerial pads is coloured by the laser-riddled soundbank that is featured spasmodically throughout the runtime. Blackdown’s journalistic background saw him interview Loefah back in 2009, where he highlighted his ardor for ”echoes of jungle’‘ in dubstep-fused tracks. Though the formulaic drum-patterns of the sub-genre may be absent in this instance, its mistified framework serves as an delirious prelude to a Jungle track mix-in. In such, the release is guaranteed to serve as a revered weapon by leading selectors in the scene.
The Guardian ran an article in 2011 titled ‘How dance label Crosstown Rebels bounced back‘. Didn’t realise it had fallen off. A label that has ebbed and flowed with the times, there’s no denying it has also been a trendsetter, launching the careers of Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler and Art Department. Head Honcho Damian Lazarus has been on a run of sorts recently, with the punishing releases coming from the Arthur Baker & Rockers Revenge, as well as the atmospheric Aether. The same newspaper recently featured the leading contender for ‘world’s greatest party‘, Get Lost based in Miami. With Audiojack’s ‘Inside My Head’ we could have one of the track of the year’s on our hands. Releasing EPs on 20/20 Vision, Tsuba and Hot Creations, the duo’s style is uncompromising in it’s lean rawness. So it comes as no surprise that their latest Tech-House release reached number one on the Beatport Charts. The Ibiza-based, Leeds-raised duo bring their best in what you can only describe as euphoric.
Listening to the Audiojack’s 2016 release ‘Vibrate‘ proves that the lads are exemplar at providing heavily echoed vocals. The track opens up with a female vocal that’s sampled from Cuba Gooding’s disco-funk classic ‘Happiness Is Just Around The Bend‘. Echoing ‘There’s something going round inside my head‘ the vocals are spacey and add to the kindred nature of the track. ‘We knew the vocal back from an old progressive track in the 90s, but why it suddenly kept looping round Jamie’s head we don’t know” explain Audiojack to Magnetic Mag. ‘Now it’s your turn to endure the loopy repetitive vocal of this low swung proggy groover‘. The Wurlitzer keys bring this spellbinding wall of synth that brings a trancey atmosphere. It’s akin to ‘that‘ track from Solomun’s Cercle set. The boys truly love their production. Speaking with 6AM Group about their infatuation for Native Instruments, they state ‘Max4cats recently brought out a semi modular plugin called Pallas which is so much fun routing one thing into another and modulating stuff in strange ways to get some really out there sounds‘. These quaint sounds can be traced in the track, combining manipulation of guitar strings, western Asian percussion and screeches of a jet engine. Unadorned yet devastating. Continue reading →
Before he became a DC10 mainstay, I saw Skream dosing out absolute piledrivers at Cable years ago, the Dubstep clubbing institution that was under the train archways near London Bridge. Carrying the virtuoso of genre-pioneers such as Benga and Kowton, it was in-your-face brash stuff. Looking at the scene’s most celebrated tracks however, such as Kode9’s ‘Samurai‘, The Bug’s ‘Skeng‘ and Joy Orbison’s ‘Hyph Mngo‘, the genre’s more mellow tracks can be just as commanding. Dutchman Dave Huismans, is the man behind the Dogdaze moniker, as well as the more 4/4 A Made Up Sound alias. Releasing on revered labels such as Tectonic and Delsin, as well as Red Bull Music Academy dubbing him as ‘inimitable’ is certainly an apt branding. Under his 2562 moniker however, you will find an artisan off-beat shake downs. ‘Embrace’ is one such track that stays true to its title, embracing a more finespun approach.
Dropped on fellow compatriot Martyn’s 3024 in 2009, it snuggly feels at home amongst other abstract-leaning musicians such as Leon Vynehall and Trevino. When chatting with Little White Earbuds about his favourite music to play when he feels down, he responded with Detroit’s Deep House legend Rick Wade. ‘Embrace’ certainly echoes such moody, powerful Deep House tropes. Beginning with a minor key, chords are stabbed hurriedly and delivers sentient vibrations. Dubstep is known by its half-time drum patterns, offering clashing BPMs between separated elements, creating a measure of space between the different layers of the track. The drums are raw and hollow, ascending and descending to variant notes on each half-beat. They share the vim of the bulwarking dub bass which drags itself into place like a stone into a quarry. Lastly, dusky pads serenely shimmer over the top adding to the meditative spirit that the chords bring. Continue reading →
DJs such as Magda, Joris Voorn, Paco Osuna and Guti all like to edit tracks live. Their styles of mixes are characterized by chopping up and remodelling tracks at will. You cannot get away with playing a track for 20 minutes straight without it permeating exhilarating energy. Our previously reviewed Vladimir Dubyshkin’s ‘Overland Train‘ is one example. Another is a track that was played by Dubfire in his 2017 Time Warp mix. Step forth Maksim Dark’s ‘Laplander’. This 2018 release was a perfect fit for Dubfire’s SCI+TEC label, with it’s penchant for sleek, robotic Big-Room releases. Hungarian collaborators’ Paul Strive & Zenbi’s ‘Wanna Tell You‘, or Rosper‘s’ ‘Revenge‘ are a few which carry similar bleak candour. ‘Laplander’ is a cavernous release, bringing predatory ardor akin to label boss’ Dubfire’s hit-release ‘Roadkill‘. Hailing from Russia, Maksim has released Techno on a slew of labels such as Sian’s Octopus as well as Der Hut. Being included in his third release on SCI+TEC, this stalwart Techno track will blow hearts and minds.
Maksim’s 2018 collaboration with BOHO ‘Octopussy‘ was likened by Progressive Astronaut to being ‘a dark and Alien track that casts a spell over you and will be stuck in your head forever’. A homogenous tone can be applied to this track. With a title of ‘Laplander’ you can be sure it was inspired by the harsh, panoramic nature of the Artic climate. Beginning with a gentle touch percussive pattern, the intro brings an allusion to the forthcoming proceedings. Trembling with fervour, the opening bassline induces sentience, conceiving a techno-advanced environment. Pulsating cluttered sonar bleeps add to this bane world. An eery string synth splays itself. Eventually, a scourging modulated synth rockets up and down the octave with largesse. It is a truly jolting experience, reminiscent of Maetrik‘s best cuts. As the components repeat in a loop, the bass and synth elements increase in loudness within the mix. Maksim is a master manipulator at infernal vocals, as can be traced in many of his other productions. A vocal appears to croon either ‘West Phenomenon‘ or ‘Voices Nominal‘. The brusque nature of the sample makes it hard to make out. What is for sure, however, is the fact that this chant helps create insensibility on the dancefloor. The chimes that play in and out before the break down are neurologically invigorating. All before being swept away by leviathan modulation. Continue reading →
While many producers opt for a sound pallets which seamlessly compliment the kick, idiosyncratic production can often strike gold. Floridian DJ Daniel Gomez, better known by his stage name Danny Daze, has a special fondness for avant-garde computerised sounds, as shown in his FACT Magazine Against The Clock segment. Claiming in his interview with Electronic Groove that most of his “influences come from the melting pot that is Miami”, Daze ravels in versatility. His own catalogue is a testament to such approach. You can find releases ranging from his caliginous Hot Creations Deep House collaboration with Louisahhh to the synth-parading Kompakt anthem ‘Swim’. CRRSD describe his sounds as “esoteric and cerebral”. ‘Silicon’, Daze’s 2014 release on Jimmy Edgar’s Ultramajic imprint embraces such label with delight, a track that erupts like a typhoon onto the dancefloor.
A trembling bassline that interlinks with the hissing white noise ushering the intro of track hints at an upcoming zonked experience. The shredded yet deviant rhythm it brings is optimal for a peak-hour set of a spaced-out night. Heavily-indebted to the influence of Miami Bass, the thickset sound bridges the Miami-Detroit connection. ‘My girl is made ofsilicone‘ repeats an extraterrestrial voice you’d associate with a Green Velvet release. The “droning synths“, however, are the limelight of the track. Given unrestricted freedom to roam like a Pitbull with rabies, the stentorian frequencies squawk, shriek and squeal piercingly. The reverberate was most likely created using Roland JP-8080, a piece of hardware Daze told Music Radar he uses for the “drone” sound in his production. The merit of an electronic track with a consistent 4/4 beat opens up a sphere for layering textured experimentation. Halfway through, the producer tones the lower EQs down, granting the squelches the platform they deserve. Krautrockian pads daintily float for a few bars before the hammering kick resumes the party. Matthew Dear’s Audion alias is responsible for equally vanguard production. Continue reading →
Last year we crowned Nina Kraviz’s exhilarating Time Warp 2018 set as one of the best featured at the festival. The more recent Eiffel Tower Cercle mix swanked unapologetic raucous Techno with shades of Acid. Elephantine basslines synthesized with a touch of elegance, a sound with which the Russian DJ has been more recently associated with. Her 2017 release ‘You Are Wrong‘ radiates toxic arpeggio lines that mollify the listeners’ ears. Meanwhile ‘Hi Josh‘ rockets you to a distant Nebula with its 16 minute runtime full of Minimal bliss. And none more evident than in ‘IMPRV’, the third track found on the majestically titled Without A Moment’s Notice, An Octopus Appeared And Devoured Everyone In Sight EP. The pioneering TRP001 release of her then newly-found label трип, ‘IMPRV’ is a cannonade coming from a maverick DJ reaching the peak of their game.
During Kraviz’s formative years she released hypnotic Minimal, Tech-House and Deep House cuts. They were fitting for the peak time of a house party as much as the bowels of fabric. Her shift towards harder styles mutates perfectly on this track. Growing up in the harsh climates of Siberia must have given Nina a robust attitude that’s reflected in the track. A husky, rolling bassline that’s supported by clunky hi hats stampedes like a steam train. In the spirit of producer’s hits such as ‘I’m Going To Get You‘, ‘Pain in the Ass‘ and ‘Ghetto Kraviz‘, vocals contribute to the layering of the track. In this instance, the viscid delay repetition of inaudible chanting adds to the tenebrous melody that hovers faintly in the background. Trance-inducing soundscapes that entice you to move. Charlotte De Witte, Chris Liebing and Marcel Dettmann would proudly endorse. The latter half of the track introduces an Acid bassline you’d expect from 1990s 303 Techno cut such as DJ Misjah & DJ Tim’s ‘Purple Road‘. Nina is fond of higher tempos seizing control of her sets’ second halves. It comes as no surprise there that the track clocks in at a 129 BPM. Opening up a quantum hole in the process, this is a brooding track used to consolidate the DJs dominance over an enraptured dancefloor. Continue reading →
One Reddit user crowned Pan-Pot as the ‘Nickelback of Techno’. Though, it is true that the duo from Berlin have enjoyed recognition worldwide, I don’t believe the Redditor in question has ever heard of their timeless, ground-breaking releases such as ‘Charly‘. Pan-Pot’s Second State Audio is a label like Drumcode and ARTS releasing Techno-flavoured cut curated for festivals like Dimensions or club venues like The Steelyard. The unit can claim responsibility for helping catapult Amelie Lens’ career into the stratosphere by releasing her first 3 EPs. Impressed by the SUM 2 compilation featuring slamming cuts by Wigbert, Marco Resmann and Tobi Neumann we waited with keen anticipation for the next compilation. Appearing at track 3, DEAS’ ‘Friday Rain‘ instantly made us froth at the mouth. Perfect for building a set just like the SCI+TEC release ‘Revenge‘ by Rosper, it conveys the same savageness. Here again on this 2018 release DEAS provides a vehemence in his production. Best served for the Techno festival masses of ADE, as well as technical soundsystems belonging to such as London’s 93 Feet East. Red Bull label’s DEAS production style is deep and melancholic. You certainly get a bit of that, plus more on this remix.
Pan-Pot’s original track features a stomping bass, alongside random percussive bits and a veil of 303 drum soundscapes. Zaps that come like bolts from the Greek god Zeus help pickle the brain. DEAS instantly ramps up the feeling by expanding the bass. This creates a wall to wall of atmospheric dread. A tribal drum pattern will help mix out of something not so greyscale such as Artbat’s ‘Prometheus‘. Ironically or not, the EP cover is that of a space helmet. Squelching echoed modulations help the track shoot the abyss. Alien-sounding, it’s a striking sound when paddled alongside the stringed arps. The track can be deemed as being drenched in a maximum amount of reverb. By the time the claps kick in, the pulses that reverberate around entrap the senses. Those bolts mentioned before? They then spurt back in at will, causing an absolute carnage. It’s a fireball of menace, only to further throttle the dancefloor once the tunnelling pulses fire again. Continue reading →
Back in the Summer, I saw Maceo Plex at Hi Ibiza play an all night set. One of the highlights, was Spec X’s ‘I Don’t Do Ecstacy Anymore’. Punishing, panned bass? Check. Simple droning vocal? Check. The simplicity won fans all over. A track with the same template, Bjarki’s трип release ‘I Wanna Go Bang‘. absolutely destroyed the dancefloor. Using a similar approach, Viers delivers a track that should stand the test of time. Watching Carl Craig bring it out at both his Exit Festival and Boiler Room sets from this year makes it pretty clear what will happen should a DJ drop it in a set. Hardwax sums it up as a ‘perfect big room DJ tool techno banger’. Nothing more, nothing less. ‘Let My Mind Breathe’ was featured on three individual BBC Essential Mixes in 2018, one of those being Len Faki’s. Viers’ third release on Faki’s label, Figure, it fits inline withers penchant for other releasing other walloping Techno releases.
Figure describes the track as ‘transporting imagery of neo-futuristic Tokyo streets’. Well part of that imagery must include Godzilla. An undertow monster bass rollicks in, fading louder by the second. Squelchy robotics and double-time hats support the looming disquietude that’s about to take place. Monomania is then induced from the bulging sawtoothed bassline that dominates the top. For Techno aficionados, saying no to repeated replay of the track will as will be hard as for a gambling addict declining a free night at Cesare Las Vegas. The vocal is vocoded in a darkly nonchalant manner, a paradox in itself as it asks to Let It’s Mind Breathe. The poetic chant of meditation is ironically surrounded by the most pressurising of noises. 303 staccato stabs plonk on the half beat to add a loop-sided nature. White noise clusters consume the track at the break down building tension, before letting the epic bassline seize control of the centre stage again. Continue reading →
Skee Mask’s 2014 debut release ‘Serum’ was a statement. Distributed by Ilian Tape Records, the EP featured a post-apocalyptic fusion of breakbeat with dub techno. The resulting sound was a “spacey, angular techno…that is stylistically bold“. The face behind the mask is a Bavarian beatmaker Bryan Müller. Taking inspiration from William Basinski, Shed & Autechre his production skills belong to a seasoned veteran. Four years later, the Munich-hailed producer’s latest album ‘Contra‘ is Müller at his vertex. Resident Advisor described the 12-track release as a piece of craft that makes “drums delicately dance..[and] percussion sing“. Bringing a delicate balance between ambient interludes and outright ridiculous set grenades, the project is a riveting listening experience. At its core, ‘Dial 247’ is a techstep track that brings the ferociousness of a thousand sharks being torpedoed by an RPG.
The track’s entrance sends tremors down your spine, as shuddering kick fills the space consigned to oblivion by hollow bells that sounds like they’re taken from 28 Days Later. In his previous releases Skee Mask refused to conform to the pulse of a 4/4 beat. In such, his drum patterns tend to manoeuvre through the electronic soundscapes with the rara avis of Aphex Twin or Lanark Artefax. Here the leniency towards an IDM structure is substituted with a heavy-hitting dosage of breakbeats. They pump the adrenaline of an escapee that’s just climbed over the walls of a psychiatric institute. Manipulating every plugin at hand, the listener hears the percussions being filtered, reversed, chopped and screwed. Stinging saw synth surfaces the waters while an extraterrestrial bangarang mutates its outlandishness. The latter half of the track introduces ambient pads which rather than calming the environment increases calamity levels. ‘Dial 274’ is a total revelation, reshaping “techno and jungle templates, warping them into something altogether more refreshing“. The strongest influence, however, is the 1990s drum and bass subgenre of Techstep. Its releases such as Dillinja’s ‘Tronik Funk‘ or Bad Company’s ‘Planet Dust’ share the same dark, sci-fi mood that is fitting for soundtrack to a movie like The Matrix. Likewise, an obvious parallel to the dystopian outer space created by B12 can be drawn. RA’s top 50 tracks of 2018 list featured cuts like Beta Librae’s ‘Problem Solving Program’ or Pangaea’s ‘Bone Sucka‘, hinting at another revival of unorthodox drum patters that are supported by a dense sub-bass. If this carries over into 2019, Skee Mask is sure to be one of its leading trailblazers. Continue reading →
‘Techno is a poor attempt to substitute robot sounds for what was once actual instrumental and artistic human expression’ stated Ryan Walsh in 2012, writing for the Daily Collegian, ‘It’s not as pure nor as genuine a music experience’. It’s a damn shame that he’s never listened to this track in question, ‘The Vox Attitude’. As described by Juno, the cut is ‘swung heavy with booming warehouse rhythms and nerve jangling cut up vocals’. Collectively, it is these two elements that keep it pure, released at a time when techno lost its way slightly. Magda realised the power of this, and seeing it rollick in after a Drexciya cut during her Boiler Room mix was a memory I will never forget. Released on the Swedish label Färden Records in 2010, it received its own re-release on Eerie Records. Sounding like no other, it is just as brutal now, as Sonja Moonear showcases in her Replay Madrid mix.
Another weapon of mass destruction released in the same year was the era-defining ‘Convolution‘ by Stockholm duo Skudge. Dubby with hints of deep house, it paraded an incredible fierce diva vocal demanding ‘Give it all up’. A similar vocal takes the forefront of Shuttle’s track, chopped up to say ‘YOU’ with a spectred gaze which then echos. A low-end sub bass stomps the track, with shuffling hats flickering over the top. Hypnotic bongos enter the background, played in double time. It extrapolates a steamy Brixton Electric night with Luciano at the helm. Supremely acidy, fettered modulations of a protist nature infiltrate the fray, rising up and down with the tide. With the reverb on overload, infectious lower mids sound like underwater pulses emanating from a submarine. The spherical nature of the track adds substance to Marco’s claim in his interview with Inverted Audio that ‘Producing tracks is a cinematic experience’. The apodosis of this entire concoction is a dancefloor losing itself. Continue reading →