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 →
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 →
Normally reserved for any of the main strands of the underground electronic genres, sampling a Soul/RnB vocal is a frequent as expecting to see Kanye West tweet something controversial. Except for a Techno artist that is. The genius of Berlin based, Barnsley born Blawan however is contrary to this finding the nous to be able to twist hit track I Wanna Be Down by Brandy into this scrumptious techno floor killer released in 2012.
The main part of the track is certainly the pitched up vocal, fastened to the melody as fittingly as the embroidery on a Versace. It’s oozing the poise of Usain Bolt – it just knows it’s sitting on a win. Underneath this is a snaking, nasty and rasping electro-tinged lower mids and jaunty sub bass. Petite and palatable, the percussion on this cut is similar to the experimental experience delivered by John Roberts. Continue reading →
As one YouTube comment puts it DSV1’s ‘Evolve’ carries a “bassline like liquid gold“.
With this first release on his label Hush, the American DJ brings a techno track that rattles the core of your brain, taking you on a trip that does not require hallucinogenics to take you higher. One wonders how many warehouse parties played this banger back in the summer of 2011. Throwback Thursday tracks are on the menu.