Our in-house space cadet and resident technonaut takes us through another month of techno release. REbEL report to the bridge!
Ame - Tatischeff EP (Innervisions)
Innervisions, a label synonymous with high quality "deep house" and techno, have had a huge 2013. With a steady stream of brilliant releases this year including Agoria's "Scala" and the impossibly gargantuan "Gotham" from Ten Walls you would be forgiven for thinking the labels final release this year would perhaps not live up to what has come before it. Well this is far from the case as we have another absurdly good offering, this time from the labels co-curator Ame.
Tatischeff EP has been eagerly anticipated, a staple of Dixon's set's for the best part of a year, both tracks are frankly essential.
"Den Ratta" builds solidly with a simple grooving bassline and minimal percussion, allowing for sparkling, intricate fx, haunting synthesis and melody to wind it's way sublimely around itself. Typically hypnotic and progressive, it really ramps tension while never going beyond the invisible line of "too much". There are some seriously lush string sounds reminiscent of some of the period, Chinese martial arts films from a few years back (House of Flying Daggers etc).
"Tatischeff" is a more minimal piece of music but it has more drive to it, the vibe is dark and moody. The highlight for me is the way the white noise works with the arp, chugging in an out and providing movement. As the arps build and the vocal stab flits between being audible and warped, more and more elements seem to emerge. There is nothing to announce these transitions but the dark, '80s inspired synthesised strings, it already sounds timeless. This is Ame on top form.
Various - Big Doint (Big Doint)
Time for some very distorted, toughened up, funky house stuff. I know nothing about the label apart from that it's the sister label of Untzz Twelve Inch, co-run by Babicka and HVCK and it comes from Australia.
First up is "Take No Time" by Francis Inferno Orchestra. It's a brash mix of sampling and drum machines. It's loud and really pulls no punches, fists will be pumped throughout this record that's for sure. Imagine putting Moodyman in a blender and you might get close. It works well though, with enough character in the mix to make this an extremely interesting record. The samples are really nicely used, also adding an overall warmth to the track. The hi hats are constantly in your face but distorted and crunchy so as not to intrude too much.
"Big Doint" by Big Doint is slower and more disco in flavour. Funk infused rhodes and jingling percussion add immediate head nodding appeal before a Moogy square bass hits hard, filters open, synths strings drop and subside before the groove continues. It sounds dated (in a good way) like an old record covered in dust.
Mic Mills finishes the release off with "Wonderland". This is top modern disco, I absolutely love it. The funky bass line is almost cheesy and the vocal in the breakdown is not subtle but the overall vibe of the track is that of happiness and sunshine. It definitely won't be to everyones taste but the trumpets are addictive. If you like Todd Terje you'll know what I mean...
Ten Walls - Requiem EP (Life & Death)
Despite it being released over a week ago on beatport where the title track currently sits at number 3 in all genres, I feel this is relevant for review. Considered deep house by the genre fairies (the ones that pronounce it deep 'ass) I feel it will soon garner a hatred from the underground community. The instant popularity Ten Walls has gained this year is more a credit to his remarkable quality as a producer than anything else. Dance music is fickle and I have already seen his name targeted as a marker for cheese and "thats not cool anymore" comments. With "Gotham" fresh in the memory (I think it's no secret it's probably my tune of the year) it's hard to approach "Requiem" without making the comparison to what came before.
However my opinion on "Requiem" (the title track itself) is purely based on the music presented. It has a great kick drum and an incredibly catchy bass line but it's simplicity compared to "Gotham" is a disappointment. It sounds a bit throw away, sure it'll rock the dance floor and it will probably be a big radio hit too but it's not for me.
"Mongol" is much weirder and interesting, full of atmosphere and Lithuanian inventiveness. It's clear the delayed kick is Ten Wall's signature, it appears in most of his tracks and is effective here. The ethnic wind instrument (I couldn't tell you what it was) is fantastic and I love the claps. In a way it reminds me of Uner's quirky productions but more rigidly put together. The production is incredible, you really appreciate the width and detail in the mix when the springy, metallic stabs begin towards the final third of the tune.
Then we come to "Ankaris", the real reason I wanted to review this release! It was one of my favourite tracks from Dixon's recent essential mix. The sequenced melody and growling, grumbly brass wash in like waves from the Baltic Sea lapping at the coast. As it builds subtly and slowly, the arp emerges and immediately steels the show, signifying a key change and lush movement. This is music from a whimsical place, like an audible tour of some far flung place. The track always holds back but gives the listener enough to keep on coming back, it's the real star of this EP.
Headless Ghost - 77 (Tamed Musiq)
Headless Ghost is a side project from one of techno's best loved artists, Ripperton. A project devoted to 100% hardware and full analogue recordings, on paper, this is one for the heads but that would be doing this release and listeners a massive disservice. You can definitely hear the quality and warmth of this record from the off, thats true, but beyond that "77" gives you 3 solid and addictive tunes to choose from.
"11" opens like a vintage Detroit techno classic that's been slowed down. It chugs it's warm, solid bass across rich, velvety percussion and is complimented by bleeps and arpeggiated synths. "11" swings up and down with chords that combine with claps and the arp gurgling away, fluttering in and out of earshot. It almost feels like it's leading you into something a lot fiercer making it a great warm up or after hours track.
"22" is a different animal altogether. I love how the coldness of techno is immediate, from the analogue noise in the first 20 seconds right up to the 2 minute mark where things suddenly change and more soulful, house like chords emerge. The keys and the bass drop in together and really get your head nodding. Its an interesting track, the way that stark techno and funked up, bleep, bassy house combine on the same tune begs to be appreciated for its originality.
"44" Is a weird, wonky track that constantly mutates. It's sequenced melodies and rigid percussion have a distinctly german vibe about them, the tune progresses without much real drama until about halfway through when the melody explodes and it's full, ketamine soaked glide is revealed. "44" really does hold the spirit of techno within it's bars, it seems to be about letting go and seeing what's possible and it really does give you that energy.
Jerome - 4B/5 (CGI Records)
Another one of those hand stamped, special limited edition vinyl only releases that is sure to change hands for silly money on Discogs, this on is from house and techno veteran, Jerome. Both sides are cut from 20 minute + live tracks and condensed into powerful, driving cuts around the 8 and 9 minute marks.
"4B" has that improvised feel to it, we head straight into strong open hat sounds and sequenced keys before bouncing 101 style bass rolls in. The kick soon follows before we are treated to a chugging, hypnotic yet tough journey. It has that very knowledgeable nostalgic touch and an authentic feel, bordering on acid house at times. Filters subtly open and close giving the percussion extra oomph when needed. As the song progresses there are just enough simple elements added to keep you locked into it's groove. The mix is muddy with added crunch, giving that extra character that will surely make this a very sought after release.
"5" is great, the percussion is quite similar to "4B" but the bass is much more techno in feel with the stabbing, delay infused chords providing the hook. The bass bubbles along, hats increase in pace but snares and claps stay absent in the traditional sense, only coming in as short sharp rolls to heighten tension. The extra keys and stabs that come in halfway through are so simple but really add to the atmosphere and overall vibe of the record. The nostalgia continues.
A really strong and well put together release from Jerome and CGI, grab it while it's in the shops at a normal price!
[Editor: I thought maybe we had made it through a month where we had Soundcloud audio for all releases... Unfortunately the genre formally known as techno has eluded us again! No audio for this release.]
Agree with my selection(s) this month? Anything I've missed, or anything that I should be checking out for next? Get in touch via email@example.com or hit me via @jonnyRebel_uk on Twitter.