ALBUM OF THE MONTH:
Peter Van Hoesen
Life Performance (Tresor)
Van Hoesen is a modern-day poster boy for techno – a forward-thinking DJ and producer renowned for his blistering performances. From Japan’s Labyrinth Festival to regular slots at Berghain and all over the world, he’s become one of the genre’s most lauded artists. Over the last few years he’s been cultivating his live show, moving from a solitary laptop to incorporating analogue gear and a far more loose way of performing that’s almost entirely improvised. ‘Life Performance’ is a recording of one such show, at Tresor in July. The way it evolves is engrossing; from the get-go you’re submerged in thunderous kicks, alarming bleeps and juddering basslines, and what makes it even more impressive is that much of it was created on the fly. Tracks like ‘Carbon’ and ‘Force Withdrawn’ are among the choice cuts. Impressive, and yet more kudos for the Belgian master.
TUNE OF THE MONTH:
Simon Baker (pictured)
Arpy 2 (Skudge remix) (Nofitstate)
Nofitstate is a London night helmed by Geddes of Mulletover fame. Now they’re launching a label with another long-serving member of the electronic underground, Simon Baker, and first up is an EP from the man himself. On ‘Arpy 1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ (digital only) he rolls out quality club music with precision and a contagious underlying funk. Swedish duo Skudge up the ante a tad, drizzling a forboding, melancholy layer over Baker’s wistful timbres. A first-rate start for the label.
Step On Light (Dame Music)
The name may be unfamiliar to most of you (it was to us, too) but The Jaydes have featured on this page before. It’s actually the name given to a link-up between Dame Music head mistress Bloody Mary and her sometime partner-in-crime, Attan. Their remix of Anaxander’s ‘7 Ways’ was the start of their new partnership, and ‘Step On Light’ is their first official track as The Jaydes. Like the ‘7 Ways’ remix, it’s drenched in retro-leaning sounds with a smooth, almost laid back momentum interspersed with moments of pulsating energy and bursts of drama-inducing synth lines. A promising debut.
Discount Dancer (ISNISNT)
Minus affiliate and all-round master of his own domain, Heartthrob launches his own imprint for this latest release, which features the kind of off-
beat workouts we’ve come to expect from the Michigan-born, Berlin-dwelling producer. Of the three tracks on offer, ‘Discount Dancer’ is our pick with its hushed, indecipherable vocals, weird, wobbly chimes and oddball bleeps and whirrs. Trying to predict what sounds will crop up next is nigh-on impossible on first listen, which makes it so much more interesting than most of the music out there right now. In places it could almost be the soundtrack to an 80s video game. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but Heartthrob fans and those who like it a little off-kilter will be in their element.
Losing Control (Meant)
Montreal-based duo Vosper (Edouard Le and Christopher Byron) made quite an impact with their debut EP last year, ‘Release’. Just over a year later they return to the label where it all started with a brand-new collection of tracks, three originals and a remix from Items & Things maestro, Marc Houle – plus two digital exclusives. ‘Losing Control’ is just the kind of frenetic analogue funk the twosome are known for; underpinned by a pitched-down vocal snippet its dark, rugged bassline works in unison with a bright synth melody, providing a nice juxtaposition. Strong and dancefloor-ready, just how we like it.
303/303/303/606/606 (Kontra Musik)
Andreas Tilliander won plaudits from across the board earlier this year with an experimental album which explored his wide array of Roland analogue gear. The conceptual long-player was not only a great success but an excellent display of the timeless relevance of the equipment, even in today’s increasingly digitised musical world. His new EP continues his experiments with the tech, a wet dream for many a gear slut we’re sure. The sloth-like pace of ‘303/303/303/606/606’ is frustrating to begin with, we’ve become so accustomed to higher BPMs that it takes a while to accept the sluggish momentum. However, once you get into the swing of things you really appreciate the absorbing atmosphere and hypnotic repetition. Fuzzy, gruff and irresistible.
Untitled #7 (White)
Tripeo is another artist making a return appearance to this page. Back in March we reviewed an earlier release in this ongoing series of white labels, all of which have no title, just a number. It’s interesting to hear how Wolfskuil boss Darko Esser has progressed with the latest in the series: ‘Untitled #7’ delves further into the deeper end of techno. The cold, throbbing heart is still there, with hollow metal chimes adding to the frosty atmosphere. Repetitive bleeps become increasingly agitated, while swathes of reversed cymbals are interlinked to jolt you out of the comatose state induced by its monotonous beat. Bold – and bound to sell like hot cakes when it’s released.
Mauvais Presage (Minimood Extra)
One of those ‘how do you pronounce it?’ artist names, which can only be written in capitals (obviously) TCHERNEYAN follow in the footsteps of a very respectable EP by Norm Talley on Minimood’s offshoot, vinyl-only label Minimood Extra. According to our resident translator, ‘Mauvais Presage’ is French for ‘Bad Omen’, and from
the ominous tolls that ring out at the start, it’s pretty fitting. As the track slowly builds, more, equally eerie sounds join the fray; somehow they feel soft, though the overall effect is tough. Once that bassline crawls up from below the surface you’re transported into a frightening outerwordly dimension, where creeps lurk and the air is thick with the aroma of rotting flesh. Well, that’s how we interpreted it, anyway. Spine-tinglingly
Make A Move (Ste Roberts Scotch Egg remix) (Save You)
Will Berridge has been quietly toiling away on his music for a little while, with a release on Sleazy Deep last year slipping under the radar initially. However, he made
an impact with the jaunty garage-inflected ‘I’m The Jack’ on staunch house label Local Talk’s One Offs compilation earlier this year and pricked up the ears of Save You’s management enough to bag himself an EP deal – and here it is. The ‘Make A Move’ EP explores different terrains, from the rugged title track to slightly softer hues on ‘Stacking Options’. Having already appeared on Save You’s Rapscallions EP earlier this year, Hypercolour and Initials regular Ste Roberts takes the title track by the horns and administers his usual brand of tough, muted technoid funk on it. Quite what a Scotch egg has to do with it is anyone’s guess but, whatever the reasoning behind the title, this is a stone cold killer.
Dark Matter (Affin)
A few months ago Joachim Spieth’s Affin label celebrated five years since its inception. Not bad going, and it continues to push forward with respectable releases from its head honcho and numerous affiliates. This new EP is the handiwork of the aforementioned Spieth and embodies his sparse, absorbing, ethereal approach to techno music. ‘Dark Matter’ undergoes two overhauls, one courtesy of G-Man (Gez Varley) and the other by D Diggler. The original is proper, with a stomping kick wrapped up in envigorating, lush chimes; G-Man’s mix is a lot tougher, while Diggler takes pole position with his morose take on Spieth’s composition. Taking the original elements and painting a sad face on them, Diggler’s remix encompasses the dark side of techno in all its glory; close your eyes and you can picture a violent thunderstorm billowing over the sprawling mass of an abandoned, decaying factory.
I Did (Version 2) (Fifth Wall)
Brooklyn-based label Fifth Wall features regularly on this page, and deservedly so – their releases are consistently intriguing and often push the envelope as far as good quality techno is concerned. The latest release, from local producer Physical Therapy, lives up to the label’s reputation with four unnerving, deranged compositions that are bound to impress and confuse most listeners in equal measure. ‘I Did (Version 2)’ is the best of a strong bunch of tracks – the decayed kick-drum chugs away while a high-pitched ringing persists in the background and a totally indecipherable, warped vocal chants repeatedly over the top. Odd effects emanate from the track’s murky depths as that choppy beat continues to romp to its bitter end. Towards the end the vocal can finally be understood: ‘Who killed Robert Hood? Who killed Booka Shade?’... it asks,naming some other electronic music luminaries. Take another look at the title and it all makes sense.
Harvey McKay & Carlo Lio
Fuck Jack (Bedrock)
He’s back! Probably the techno page’s most regular contributor returns with another techno leviathan in tow. Scotsman Harvey McKay teams up with Carlo Lio for this new EP on John Digweed’s Bedrock label and they make for a formidable partnership. ‘Decay Droid’ has a Latin feel it to it with its bongo-based beats and skippy percussion, plus a sensual female vocal. However, ‘Fuck Jack’ counteracts the sultry vibes with its undulating rough foundation and explosive tendencies, especially when the bassline drops in after the track’s vocal sample. Don’t be fooled by the title, it’s not a backlash against the numerous Jackin’-orientated tracks that have cropped up this year. ‘Fuck Jack’ is a beast all of its own.
Dutch producer Louis Guilliaume lands on the ever-impressive Teng label with his debut for the outfit. Hailing from Rotterdam, Louis’ back catalogue includes releases on Glasgow Underground, Home Taping is Killing Music, Hot Elephant Records and his own Sonasty label – add to that appearances at Glasgow’s mighty Sub Club and Berlin’s seminal Berghain and you have a man who’s not doing too badly for himself. This EP sees him going to work with his favourite piece of kit, the MPC2000. On ‘Bittersweet’ rising synths and high strings create a dreamlike atmosphere, while a spoken-word sample lulls you into its groove. Soon we’re being transported into a bygone era with soft organ keys and the gentle claps playing out alongside retro melodies. Gorgeous.