In our commentaries, we’ve rightly (or wrongly, depending on who you ask) proclaimed Drumcodeism to be the predominantly influential form in the world of Techno today. Candied, yet euphoric, it feeds the symbolism of what social media represents today. Fleeting yet memorable. 10 years ago though, that face was a different beast. Integral to the rise of the Berghain sound, Sandwell District was Techno’s tour de force. An international supergroup made up of Function, Female, Silent Servant and Regis. Needing no greater accolade, Billboard Magazine, of all places, give the underground heroes props where it is due stating ‘Sandwell District’s influence on underground techno can hardly be overstated’. Going on to say their style is ‘deep, dark, hypnotizing beats that kick up an introspective and brooding energy with minimal clutter’ it accurately describes this magnus opus of mixing. They gave all Resident Advisor fanboys a Holy Grail of a mix with this one.
Overall, the podcast carries an over arching droning yet epically cinematic feel to it. We know that the term ‘journey’ gets brandished about, but this is the definition. The deep space feel reaches a peak when Marcel Dettman’s edit of the crew’s ‘NA/VVARIENCE III‘ makes the listener feel like they’re on the dusty desert planes of a post apocalyptic moon that’s just been devastated by war. Bleak yet beautiful. The thing that makes this mix so great is it spans many eras of Techno. Kicking off what must be a top contender for greatest sequence of 6 tracks mixed. First, Choice’s iconic 1992 track ‘Acid Eiffel’. Second, Moritz Von Oswald’s rework of ‘Watamu Beach‘. Third, Peter Van Hoesen’s ‘Face of Smoke‘ which by this point you’re saying to yourself ‘Lord save me, this is so good my brain is melting’. Fourth, a track by Robert Hood released once again in 1992 ‘The Vision‘ before mixing in the fifth and sixth – DVS1’s ‘Running‘ with the acapella of Daniel Bell’s ‘Losing Control‘. Heavy Duty much? You betcha. Continue reading →
Schneider & Galluzzi feat. Florian Schirmacher – Too Late To Land
In Maceo Plex’s recent Time Warp mix, the American DJ played a track dedicated to the festival’s 25 Year Birthday. He’s certainly not the first to have dedicated a track for such special occasion. Think Da Hool’s ‘Meet You at the Love Parade‘ or Mike Huckaby’s ‘The Tresor Track‘. Heck, type in Berghain into any streaming platform and you’ll come across hundreds of tracks titled after the notorious club. Already having the maestro Moritz Von Oswald dedicate the track of the year to their label, Cocoon really outdid themselves by dedicating a whole LP to the concept, Cocoon Morphs Tokyo. Hosting three parties at Japanese venue Womb, it featured exclusive bangers by Ricardo Villalobos, Tiefscharz and Guy Gerber. The highlight of these cuts, is Galluzzi and Schneider’s weapon of mass Minimal Techno destruction, ‘Too Late To Land’. Hearing the two collaborate for Minimal heads equals the creation of a DC vs Marvel movie for comic book fans.
The LP is also a celebration of the world-renowned German photographer and artist Andreas Gursky and Sven Väth. Andreas has been responsible for the design of Cocoon Club in Frankfurt, as well a many of the set designs featured at the Cocoon Parties. The cover art features a shot of the crowd below a poker-dots laced silver sheened curtain that draps over the dancefloor. The aesthetic is sonically replicated in the track. It starts with an ascending filtered chopper noise that harmonises with the modulation. Clever. Any producer wanting to learn more about the art of subtle glockenspiel percussion needs to rampantly study this track. The two so effortlessly displayed here click perfectly to give it soul. The muddied bass line bobs up and down in toe. Capping the track off though is the metallic, wonky, robotic synth stabs that darkens the tone. Similar to Schneider’s collaboration with Jay Haze ‘Acai‘, these are dialled up fifty notches to give the listener a jolting experience. Coupled with the drawled vocal saying ‘It’s too late to land‘ it leaves you in agreeance that you’ve gone way too far to stop the trip into outer space. 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 →
Although we don’t like to emancipate in the underground, there are a still a few ‘trophies’ one can nod too. Closing at Time Warp. Playing at CircoLoco, DC10. And, of course, playing at Room One fabric. To get an even better nod, was to get a slot on their acclaimed Mix Series. Omar S, Shackleton, Ricardo Villalobos and Peter Inspires all had mixes that featured their own cuts. Mathew Jonson’s is different however. Not only did it feature exclusively his own production, it came from a recording of him playing live at fabric. His set was so good that the fabric team decided to put it on a mix cd. Being in awe of such a producer and DJ, the quality of his tracks made this decision easy. From the genre-defining ‘Decompression‘ (released on Minus), to ‘Dump Truck‘, a product of his collaboration with Danuel Tate and Tiger Dhula as Cobblestone Jazz, Jonson has many strings to his bow. And they all shine the brightest. His 2017 collaborations with The Martinez Brothers and Martin Buttrich were certainly an escapade in unadulterated dancefloor fun. What Jonson is most notable for, however, is his brand of emotive, bare-laden, minimal cuts. ‘Typerope‘, ‘Learning To Fly‘, and ‘New Identity‘ all summon such branding. None more than ‘Marionette’ though. Released in 2005 on his own Wagon Repair label, the track is the ultimate in chiaroscuro disposition.
Don’t get it twisted, Jonson is the major-domo of inculcated synth stabs and manipulation. Where others bearing such style may seem a tad ostentatious, knowing his background indicates he is one for for untrammelled experimentation. Beginning with a splurge of synth stabs, the melody is played with the subtlety of a classically-trained pianist. These notes are, however, performed with the sinisterness of Sergei Prokofiev. Syncopated in the highs, mids & lows they’re a reflection of Jonson’s freewheeling Jazz heritage. In conversation with Roland he remembers receiving his first piece of analogue back in 1986, a collection of MT-32 sound module, PR-100 sequencer and an HP-3000 electric piano. The SH-101, however, is the main weapon of choice for his music and was ‘used in combination with the JX for Marionette’. If you hold a preference for blippy minimal, I would steer clear. An ample kick then kicks in giving instant vivacity. Using an Ensoniq DP4+, ‘Marionette has a modulating distortion that slowly mixes between wet and dry signals’. It’s a momentously disorientating effect. Chopped hats with a touch of reverb flutter to add to the headiness. His tracks ‘Symphony for The Apocalypse’ and his remix of Joel Mull’s ‘Begun The End Has’ are moulded with similar mordant tones. Eery string synth pads warp in and out munificently, adding to the cinematic effect. To describe it as mystifying would be a criminal understatement, even sibylline one might say. 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 →
Hitler. Churchill. Mussolini. Some of the deceased names Latvian writer and intellectual Konstantin Raudive claims to have spoken to. A luminary of his field, Konstantin used Electronic Voice Projection – a parapsychological tool to apparently help hear from the dead. It’s something that must’ve stirred Londoner Oliver Ho to don the moniker Raudive. ‘There’s the idea that certain rhythms used in voodoo can evoke spirits’ he tells The Ransom Note. ‘I love that, and I like to approach making my music in a similar way’. Oliver is a multi-dimensional experimental musical genius. As one half of Post Punk-New Wave band The Eyes In The Heat, his love for Alternative Rock certainly has seeped into his music. He first made belting Techno under his birth name, his debut EP The Gathering being released in 1996. Now making music under his Broken English Club alias he’s playing more Noise and post-Industrial tinged Techno with the likes of Regis, Silent Servant and James Ruskin. Under his Raudive name, however, he strikes some of the most potent minimal concoctions. Steeped in hypnotism, they certainly harks back to the Raudive spectre. His remix of ‘Please Easy’ may not conjure spirits in a supernatural sense, but it certainly will help any DJ tighten their grip on a dancefloor locked in the groove.
Under his Szenario monkier, Ed Davenport’s original is full of plonks, wonks and a bassline synonymous with mid-noughties Minimal Techno. Raudive takes things a bit deeper, using his interlocutor skills to regenerate the track. Stripped back to a off-kilt percussive ‘pop’ noise, it is played in double time, then triple time. Ho has done similar on his Audio EP banger, ‘Turn It Off‘. The bass is perfunctory, but works well with its simple, rippled squelchy jabs. It’s similar to Phil Keiran’s smash record released on Cocoon ‘I Think I’m A Monster’. A presence of random laser shots, bell chimes and alarms jolt at the ear. The USP of the track is the Middle Eastern vocal sample. A bit more than just a vocal, it is twisted to become a chant which Resident Advisor says ‘make the hairs on your neck stand up.’ It is as seductive as a UKIP Leave Campaigner door-knocking in Middlesbrough. Oliver claims to love it when ‘a human voice gets mutated and we loose the linguistic part of it, that the more animal parts of our brains get activated; that we still know it is a voice even when we can’t tell what word is being said’. With the way it’s mixed, these vocal mutations carry the track in this instance. At 124bpm it spellbinds and the DJ will certainly show no penitence for releasing this sultry caprice.
THE Nova Dream SEQUENCE – Dream 3 (DJ Yellow’s Abyssal-ienation Remix)
King Britt truly made waves in the electronic scene via his seminal 2003 remix of GusGus’s ‘David‘. It was released on Ovum, who he co-founded with Josh Wink. Though he’s been making quality tunes since the early 90’s, class is permanent. He still churns out the bangers to this day like on his Dub of Manuel Tur’s ‘Maybe Next Lifetime’ on Freerange Records. As well as creating House cuts, he’s manned the turntables for Grammy nominated hip-hop avant-gardist’s Digable Planets, producing one of my favourite Hip Hop albums ‘Adventures in Lo-Fi‘. His pre-eminence of drum machines and musician ship has seen him craft cinema scores for Michael Mann. King’s 2007 The Nova Dream Experiment album was ahead of its time, seamless melodic dreamy experience interweaving through IDM, Minimal and Melodic Techno. Compared to King’s version of Dream 3, Alain Ho aka DJ Yellow builds what is a nightmare. Completely reshaping it, and building on the devilish vocal, it’s murk breeds the emotion of a dank club at most intense.
King Britt & DJ Yellow released Alienation 3.7 on Yellow’s Poussez! label. Juno describes ‘The sound design here [being as] brilliant as is the fantastic programming, resulting in two ass shaking, mind altering journeys into the netherworld’. Clearly it was constructed during the same studio sessions, being called ‘Abyssal-ienation Remix’. It certainly sends the listener into the Abyss. After a hasty defending 3 note sax snippet, the track instantly sends you into another world. Haunting synths glide over pulsating acid synths which feel sound sharp like heavy rain. Undulating gothic pads Wolfgang Voight and Brian Eno may assemble, steeped with emotion float. It’s indicative of the atmosphere of trepidation at hand. Lawrence’s Sten alias has the same vibe. The haunting synths then take the fore as the track breakdown, and uses the sinister vocals. ‘I can feel your heart beat, as you move, and groove’ it says in a drooling languid manner. Bleepy drums kick back in, ensuring the dancefloor patrons stay in the zombie like stasis they would’ve already been induced in. Continue reading →
Darren Beale, better know by his stage name Dubspeeka, is a producer hailing from the dynamic Bristolian scene. Beale’s signature sound carries a shade of duskiness. In his interview Change Underground he claims that his releases tend to have a ‘solid foundation, plenty of low end and a dark raw angle on the production‘. This hue of Techno has seen hims cuts released on big-player labels like Oliver Huntemann‘s Ideal Audio, John Digweed’s Bedrock Records & Drumcode. Since dropping his previously elusive persona, he has been involved in shenanigan inducing gigs in Johannesburg to parties in Poland with Crosstown Rebels. Released on his own imprint Skeleton in 2017, ‘Mod1’ is a meld of modulated techno with progressive & UK bass influence. Finding a place in Joey Anderson’s majestic Dekmantel set earlier this year, the track is an apex of a memorable mix.
As a DJ, he’s not afraid to incorporate House into his sound, as shown in his Rinse FM mix with Shadow Child. This translates into his productions as more often than not have a flamboyancy about them. Coming under a strain of versatility his releases straddle along the lines of techno & tech-house. No wonder he was tapped by Get Physical for a mix of a Miami 2018 comp. Mod1 starts with a hollowed kick drum rendered from a dancehall cut you’d see on a Wizkid or Konshenz track. Raining arps collide to form a parade of refined consonance within itself. ’Mod1′ shares the staccato synth seen in his 2016 release ‘K377 Unfriended‘. The fitful melody that forefronts the midpoint of the track, sprays its frequencies with celerity of Rambo’s machine gun. It is a complimenting polarity to what is an Alan Fitzpatrick inspired, reverb-heavy kick and bass combo. In such, more canorous leaning DJs like Mind Against featured it in their Junction 2 launch Tobacco Dock set. Atmospheric yet hulking, ‘Mod1’ commands the dancefloor with its heavy dosage of electricity. Continue reading →
When we reviewed Doomsday By UK rising Techno sensation Billy Turner, we didn’t realise we’d be reviewing him again so soon. But then I saw his incredible set at London festival Eastern Electrics. When even the mrs keeps saying ‘Oooh I really like this’ you know it simply needs to be done. Distributed by Social Experiment Records, ‘Flush’ is yet another absolute weapon in his ever-expansive arsenal of hits. Released recently in August 2018, it is a hypnotic and doozy slammer. Last year, Social Experiment’s Head Honcho Johnny White aka Art Department picked him out as the one artist to look out for this year. ‘Flush’ certainly asserts this as it unfurls its hazy sound.
In his interview with London Warehouse Events, Billy describes being influenced by darker vibes. With his remixes of Anja Schneider, Dense & Pika, Arnaud Rebotini already in the bag, Flush crafted a new meaning of such concept. Taking inspiration from likes such as Markus Suckut or Planetary Assault Systems, his signature bounding bass is expansive and rumbling. Gyrating percussions start building a tension to the track. Metallic murmurations hummer in the back, similar to those seen on his belter ‘Doomsday’. Furious hats snippet in and out whilst mangled shrills pulsate. Robert Hood talks about what real trance is in his Red Bull Music lecture. ‘Flush’, is a showcase in that. Luxuriously smooth, the whooshes are like cascading flumes of smoke coming from a Icelandic Geyser. The fervid pads send the track down into a whole new realm, bringing an acquiesce for more.
You can see why it was released on the label. Listening to Art Department’s ‘Renaissance‘ or fabric mixes, you’ll appreciate he enjoys a deeper tech set. With other artists like the profound DJ Qu, as well as prodigals Moreon & Baffa being released, ‘Flush’ is a great fit. Our select track to punish the dancefloor.
‘What you sew you shall reap’ as Jesus Christ states repeatedly in the bible. After recently attending their Afterlife party at Hi Ibiza it was amazing to see the fruit of Tale of Us’ hard graft. Incredible sets from Maceo Plex, Adriatque and KiNK alongside second to none production, it was a display of acute attention to detail. Wade through all the hip of Afterlife itself, and the root of it all is the Life and Death co-founders. As my friend claimed, they went from being the influenced to becoming the influencers. What a contrast they are from their break out druggy ‘ket house’ cuts like ‘Dark Song‘ and their remix of Who Made Who’s ‘Every Minute Alone‘. Fast forward to now and their at times beatless, ariose, brand of techno has sprouted new talents such as Mathame, breathed new life into old heads like Stephan Bodzin and drawn in purveyors of harder styles like Kevin de Vries. Trawl any profound music blog comments section, and you’ll quickly find this style has it’s detractors due to it’s perceived cannibalism of itself (similar to 2010-2012 tech-house craze). None the less, when it works, it is cataclysmic. Alex Smoke is renowned for his abstract brand of minimal techno mostly on Soma and Vakant Records. Here, as DJ Mag state, they recalibrate Smoke’s ever-morphing original into a ‘driving and hypnotic remix, complete with wonky synths.’ A 2016 release on R&S Records, it’s peak Tale of Us showing their production prowess at its best.
‘Dire Need’’s monotone drawls and rich moody soundscape is fertile land for Tale of Us build upon. It’s Depeche Mode or an EBM low-pitch style vocal that merges perfectly with it’s Ellen Alien lurked beat. Where the original is like a hulking mechgiant taking strident steps across a dystopian land, this remix is like a USS Starship Enterprise hurtling through space. A pulsating beat kicks the track off alongside a staple stringed pad causing stress to the senses. Like Joris Voorn, Smoke is a well know classical musical loving instrumentalist. And the brassy toned, railing synths that punish in the original are stretched to taking the remix to a more euphoric landing spot. There’s a sense of iciness to the track, with the cold knocks of the percussion. As the breakdown hits, the anarchy taking place in the vocals add to the solemn nature. ‘Why do they notice/Why do they listen’ he chants with it’s political undertones. It is extra pronounced during the breakdown daring to assimilate the dancers to freedom its seeking. The charge of the ravenous sonic palette as it ascends back in brings an air of cogency in its exhilaration. Continue reading →