We welcome Tough Luck Records' very own REbEL for a new monthly review feature serving up the best of techno, house and the grey area in between. Let's go...
Ivnivn - Underground (Zeitlos Music) (Forthcoming)
Ivan Chebotarev is a bright young talent from San Francisco. Recently turned 19, he came to my attention earlier this year when we (Tough Luck Records) received a demo composed with such maturity and depth it was hard to believe the music was made by someone yet to even set foot in a nightclub.
This 3 track EP on Zeitlos Music introduces Ivan's brand of dubby, smoke filled techno to the world in an exciting and accomplished manor. "Escalate" opens straight into a hypnotic groove, a mainstay of Ivnivn's productions. Toms and sub roll across each other while snapping snares and atmospheric percussion swirl into a head nodding rhythm. The vocal sample (a speech from Biggie Smalls) adds interest but the track stays subtle throughout. "Ftornik" works on the same principles as "Escalate" but with a dubby tom groove and simple sub line reminiscent of Samu.l or Hector. The hi hats are simple and ordered, all the excitement in the track comes from the simple groove of the reverb soaked toms. It's a strong tune, and my personal favourite, but it's Tatuus that will set the dance floor alight. Big build ups, weird industrial noise and a dark vocal throughout, the track flows briskly along and thrills with it's impactful drops. It's easy to imagine Tini or Alex Kid making this a mainstay of their sets.
It's a fantastically assured EP and it's still hard to believe music as assured as this has been created by somebody so young, the future is bright for Ivnivn as he will surely develop his sound even more over the coming years.
ANAXANDER - The John Red Hawk Project (Dame Music) (Out now)
Dame Music, the label launched by French DJ/Producer Bloody Mary in 2010, has already gained a cult following from fans and DJs alike, providing underground, bumping house with an emphasis on warm analogue sounds.
Anaxander's "Leaving Illinois" opens the 21st release with 707 and 909 drum patterns and analogue SH101 sounding stabs that hold the rhythm of the drum machines nicely. A hypnotic, filtered, flute-like sound adds depth while the movement comes from opening the filter on the bass.
"7 Ways" then toughens things up a little more while going slightly more minimal and adding nostalgic acid vibes. The minimal treatment works nicely before the 909 hats break the tension. If the original doesn't feel tough enough then Bloody Mary and Attan's remix should do the trick for you. The kick is toughened up but doesn't overwhelm while extra percussion adds movement. The bassline has been kept fairly similar, it's the pads that really build the tension in the middle and the tune becomes more effective with those elements brought to the fore.
As with all of Dame's releases it's a record that has been put together with care and attention by music lovers for music lovers. It has a real nostalgic quality to it which will surely give it some longevity. Newcomer Anaxander's sound is perfectly suited to the label's ethos and this release is a fine addition to Dame's quality back catalogue.
Ricardo Tobar - If I love You EP (Desire) (Forthcoming)
Chilean producer Ricardo Tobar's "If I Love You" is full of drama. From the off it pulls no punches, the strings set the scene as the track opens fiercely and the abrupt impact of the hi hats, as stop start as they are, fills the tune with energy. When the crushed claps enter the fray it's impossible to resist a fist pump. The record also has an outro to die for (something most club tracks lack), warped pads and high pitched strings fade out blissfully, although DJs may be put off trying to mix out of this.
The original is backed up by 3 varied and interesting remixes. Samuel Kerridge takes things into menacing territory with slow ominous drums and dark pads. It sounds like a cross between Hans Zimmer 's Inception score and Vangelis, it's an absorbing soundscape but a track for those intent on world domination, or those who own a lair of some sort and list pacing around bleak landscapes as a past time.
D'Marc Cantu's remix is a lot friendlier and one I imagine most people will reach for in club environments. The tension is ramped up to hypnotic levels as the strings lead the the bass on a merry journey. The off kilter melody is teased in subtly but never overwhelms the lush warmth of the strings which really give the track a late night appeal.
Low Jack's experimental, distorted remix is also worth note if you enjoy the more experimental side of techno. It could almost be considered a typo of dub step, reminiscent of square pusher and other early 90's Warp music.
http://soundcloud.com/desirerecords/if-i-love-you-dmarc-cantu (you'll have to click the link i'm afraid as this one doesn't embed! Grrr.)
Talbot Wood - Dream Sequence EP (Curle Recordings) (Out now)
Belgium producer Talbot Wood offers up a slice of heavy hitting European Techno with this EP "Dream Sequence". "Analepsis" is a luscious blend of ordered percussion and pounding kicks. The production sounds fantastic from the off but it's the lead, authentically continental in style, that brings everything to life. The quality of the sound means the track only needs few elements to work with the open 909 hat providing the extra energy.
"Dream Sequence" continues with simple 909 drum patterns and a haunting, reverb laden vocal stab before the deep, low bass rumbles in. Pads soak up the tension as elements drop in and out. The strings all sound great as they take the edge off the heavy nature of the percussion and bass. This gives a great sense of soul and beauty to an otherwise dark record.
The Locked Groove remix of "Dream Sequence" opens with bird song and pads, easing the listener in to a tough, uncompromising kick drum. From there the tune takes off, there is marching energy, a warehouse feel that seems to be infecting a lot of producers at the moment. The lead stabs are really taken to another level with this version, providing some exciting moments at the right point of the set, the final drop is particularly vicious.
Im a big fan of this EP, all 3 tracks are solid and interesting, well worth checking out if you like uncompromising techno that does more than just bang.
Epiphany - Keep On Truckin' (A Harmless Deed) (Forthcoming)
3 Solid cuts here from Madrid's Damian Schwartz aka Epiphany. The A side is a toughened slice of house infused techno providing plenty of interest in it's detailed arpeggios and groove. The bassline stays solid throughout as pads and strings take the listener on a journey from start to finish.
"B1" feels like a foray into Detroit style techno. Swung hi hats and warped pads develop quickly and hypnotise the listener. There is more clever arpeggiation, with fantastic key changes throughout.
"B2" has a slightly different direction to the other 2 tracks. It sounds like a much more modern piece of work, simple percussion, staggered snares and flanged synths carry the tune from the start. The tracks effective bassline is the real star here though, chugging out it's low slung, lazy day melody and letting the percussive elements breath.
It's another nostalgic "new school" house release with real quality but out of the 3 it's "B2", the least nostalgic that actually works best for me.
Agree with my selections this month? Anything I've missed, or anything that I should be checking out for next? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me via @jonnyRebel_uk on Twitter.