Nyra – Ensemble EP – Never Learnt
Sheffield's Nyra shys away from the limelight but his handful of stripped down and dubbed out techno releases have garnered attention from some influential underground DJs. Championed by the head of Never Learnt, Bearweasel, the producer returns for the fifth sojourn of the label after producing the first release back in 2012 for the imprint. As an exponent of the "less-is-more" school of production protocol each track on this EP is submarianic in tone and sparse in character but with enough variation to warrant consideration. On melancholic-hypnotic Diagonal State and the atmospherically skanking Soundscape the EP darkly gleams, evoking that sense of loneliness and isolation that prevades modern urban living – the emotional detachment from the press of humanity around us. Perfect for zoning out in the dark hours before dawn. The middle tracks are straighter four-to-the-floor gear, with Arc Ensemble and Autofade providing tracks that, while not as evocative as the book-ends of the EP, are carefully constructed enough to be interesting exercises in late-night, dubby, heads-down techno-soul.
Khidja – Mustafa & Abdul EP – (Emotional)Especial
If entrancing Arabesqe musings from Romania remixed by two of the finest psychedelic production outfits around at the moment is the sort of thing that tweaks your melon, then check out this wonderously intricate EP. Mustafa brings to mind so much of the psychedelia performed and played at free festivals in the 80s and early 90s, a meanderingly rhythmic hashish-laced trip of a track, which Timothy J Fairplay flips into a tripped-out, harpsicord trill-driven house number. Abdul feels like the wiser, older brother to Mustafa. Utilizing slowly flowing bass, Muezzinic calls and hallucinogenic synths it evokes sunlight gleaming down from skylights through the steam of a Turkish bath. Juju & Jordash add a clearer edge on their remix, with the killer feature being the large, squelching acidic synth-bass and delicate guitar work that closes the EP on a soaring note.
Route 8 – Dry Thoughts EP – Lobster Theremin
An excellent addition to the envious, if so far brief, discography that has appeared over the last half a year or so. Budapest-based machine-freak Route 8 graces one of our local labels, the entertainingly named Lobster Theremin. It feels like a natural pairing; both representing a new generation that grew up in the digital era but who prefer to work outside the box, more engaged with the aesthetics of the final decades of the last millenium. The whole EP is a bi-axial affair, with equal measures of enrapturing warmth and sinister coolness. Warm, flowing pads appropriately open the scintillating Pacific Paradise while wholesome Roland drums provide underpinning impetus. I Can't starts in a vaguely unsettling manner, an all together rougher, more taunt affair. It slowly lifts and lightens from this ethereal inception, layering the percussion until it eventually reaching a gladdening pinnacle of haunting melody. A quirkily emotional Wurlitzer and rounded deep bass pervade throughout Dry Thoughts, while clipped vocal shouts mumble and stuttering drum parts bring us into to a midsection when the joyous vibrophone melody kicks in. The delicate conclusion to the EP, Withoutyou, speaks of lost love, the darkness before dawn, the final hours of the night when stillness and solitude are all around.
Tames – Vivid Elements EP – Galdoors
Rattling machine snares and twittering tweaks stand out on the heavily dub influenced starter, Vivid Elements, on this three tracker from newcomer Tames on the fresh-faced Galdoors imprint. Flipping onto the B-side, Episodes takes us further down the rabbit hole with it's heavy organ and winding percussion. The EP's closer, Squeeze, is a departure from the weighty nature of the rest of the other tracks going for a creeping, burbling acid-line that arpeggiates erratically over a solid kick. This has been getting some solid support from noteworthy heads, a promising start for the producer and a reason to put Galdoors on the "must-check" list of recently launched labels.
Aubrey – Floating Point 7 – Ferox
Russ Gabriel's Ferox was a cornerstone back in the 90s, a consistently quality label you could always turn to to find top-notch gear. The Adventures In Techno-Soul compilations are massive personal favorites and if you've never heard them, then hang your head! And then go listen to this seminal collection of UK meets US Detroitism. Fast forward to 2014, and we see the label's very welcome return after a stuttering hiatus during the vinyl-buying slump of the 00s, hopefully to stay (hint: go buy this tackle, I want to see Ferox out there and staying there for many years to come). Standouts on the EP include Aubrey's epic, break-of-dawn opus Floating Point 7, and Hans Thalau's Afro-charged shuffler of a remix of Crossing. One for the heads who like to dunk a bit of trancey stuff into their techno tea.