TECHNOTECHNOTECHNO. It’s time for techno. Here are some hits from the last month in machine music. If it swings it’s in.
V/A – Vortex Tracks 1
Vortex Tracks are a Berlin based label who emailed us out of nowhere a couple of weeks back. They’ve put together a debut EP that compiles 4 new (to us anyway) producers, and, remarkably, each and every track on here is a winner. The EP opens with Ketale from Mesak, a beast of chittering, insectile electro. It’s cyclic, robotic and harder than a raging T-1000, and you can easily imagine it rampaging through one of Dave Clarke’s electro tear outs. Next up Forbidden City from Matti Turunen continues with the sharp, broken electro. This time the 808 kick is pitched to the deep depths, the snare is set to snap, and Drexciyan arpeggios burble their aquatic mysteries over the top. Solar Impulse from Jeremiah R switches styles, going for a high tempo 4/4 kick and dreamy synth washes, tapping into some old skool utopian dawn melodies. Automatic Tasty develops this theme with EP closer, the superbly named A Reading From the Misanthropist's Guide To Romance, a nostalgic collection of acid licks, wistful chords and the occasional 909 cowbell. As an opening statement of intent, Vortex have done themselves proud. Definitely a label to keep an eye on.
Bleaker – Hype Funk
Popping up on Unknown to the Unknown is Glasgow’s Bleaker. Hype Funk is a no-fucks-given drum track, it’s concession to melody is a single percolator bubble sound, about 20 seconds of cruddy jazz keys half way through, and the old ‘hype funk’ vocal sample. That’s it. Everything else is brutal kicks, pounding toms, and hats that’d take your headtop off. There’s a nod to Jersey Club in the rattling ‘Singh Sing’ break chop up, and a huge Chicago influence in the relentless triggering of the ‘hype funk’ sample, but this has a grubby UK vibe all of it’s own. Best used for peak time, it feels like Bleaker’s been listening to classics such as Spank Spank and realised that sometimes all you need to do is bang and swing.
Zomby – Let’s Jam
Fortunately Zomby’s taken a break from starting mildly embarrassing DJ beefs and remembered his proper job. Let’s Jam is his debut EP for XL Recordings and the boy done good – four tracks of chunky analogue sounding techno with basslines that throw back to 90s Sheffield bleep monsters- never a bad thing, eh? Opener Surf 1 is the winner, a chugging floor filler that keeps the menace and groove in equal proportion. Surf 2 speeds up the tempo and pulls out everything but bass and rolling beats. Slime is the most recognisable for fans of Zomby’s previous dubstepp-y work, with a half tie broken beat and some mutoid bass throb. Finally Acid Jam concludes – it’s unfortunate that it’s the only track available to properly stream as, imo, it’s the weakest of the bunch, a 303 roller that’s OK, but nothing to write home about. Stick with Surf 1 and you’re all good.
Rework – Hardcore EP
4 tracks of superb, moody synth pop originals from the Rework trio of Daniel Varga, Michael Kuebler and Sascha Hedgehog. I’d like to imagine Electrifying Mojo playing these over the Detroit airwaves to a rapt young Derrick May, such is their retro futurist charm. As it is I’ve been blasting them out in Ransom Note towers and converting the office to Ms Hedgehog’s deadpan, Gallic delivery. The track Hardcore is perfection – chugging in at somewhere around 100 bpm it delivers the regal elegance that defines the greatest of synth pop, lying somewhere between Kraftwerk’s sublime melancholy and the saddest of Italo tear jerkers. Elsewhere the band offer more traditional dancefloor fare – the opener is a mid tempo jam built around a rising-falling electronic pulse, whilst Overdosed is the 80s-chase-scene-soundtracker of the bunch. The remixes are, to me, pretty inconsequential attempts to force Rework’s music into dull dancefloor formats. The originals may not fit into peak time sets, but they offer the finest in numbed electro emotion since the heyday of Ms Kitten and the Hacker..
Finally, special mention should go to the new EP from Mike Broers, particularly the excellent closing track Clavis. And yeah, we did premiere this. Here it is again:
As ever, title image courtesy of the man like Laurie Bouchard, here he is on Instagram