Christoph de Babalon
A L T E R
Known for his engulfing fusions of dark ambient, drone, breakcore and jungle on labels like Digital Hardcore Recordings, Christoph de Babalon’s steady stream of releases over the past two decades has been much-celebrated in underground spheres, but rarely beyond that. Since the reissue of his 1997 cult LP ‘If You're Into It, I'm Out of It’ in January 2018, however, the Hamburg-born artist has been enjoying a long-deserved critical resurgence. With IDM and jungle once again picking up wider appeal, his new ‘Hectic Shakes’ EP on London experimental label A L T E R looks set to make him a key player heading into 2019. The producer’s trademark spectre looms over each track, from the muffled noise of ‘Endless Inside’ to the enthralling, shadowy jungle of ‘Harakiri’. ‘Shivers and Shakes’, though downtempo, is clattering and cold, while the sporadic beat clusters of ‘Raw Mind’ sit amongst chilling ambience. A master of both grandiose, cinematic atmospherics and dense, intricate percussion, it seems criminal that de Babalon could remain so underrated for so long. This time round, he won’t be ignored.
‘Red Curtain Daybreak’
P.Leone’s label bears False Witness (sorry, couldn’t resist). At first glance this could be written off as just another nosebleed techno four-tracker, but in reality there’s far more at play. ‘Red Curtain At Daybreak’ pits ferocious kicks against swirling trance chords, and the coarse arpeggios of ‘Cruel Optimism’ take that synth-work even further. Then, in the latter half, ‘Devil May Cry’ brings sheer industrial savagery, before Henning Baer introduces a monstrous death march rhythm and subtle acid bleeps on his rework.
DJ Moonbeam delivers a superb new three-tracker under his New Members alias, for this relatively young Dublin-based label. Rolling grooves are an integral feature, with lead track 'Soma' spanning nine minutes of slowly evolving dub-techno bliss. 'Good Morning' enlists spacious atmospheric pads and dusty hi-hats throughout. And the final cut, 'Eclipse', takes a different turn, heading down the IDM jungle route while still managing to fit perfectly into the same hazy sphere as the first two — timeless. Expect big things from Pear.
Asking for Trouble
Asking For Trouble — the label project of Keith Tenniswood, aka Radioactive Man — returns with L-R, an alias for his collaborative work with Simon Lynch of London Modular Alliance and Freerotation's Monoak. The result is four exceptional drum machine cuts laced with Simon's perfected modular tuning. 'Doctor Dark' combines colourful and constantly-evolving soundscapes with soft hats, while hypnotic sub-bass pervades on 'Rings'. 'Where Them Lights Are' sounds immediately familiar but remains completely unique, the breakdown offering reverse modular tweaks that’ll send you sideways.
Berlin’s Varvet claims the debut release from Warlock’s new project, and what a way to make an entrance. Opener ‘Alcatraz’ poses DJ Shadow-esque break-work against abyssal subs and raging Reese pulses. The self-titled follow-up offers an eerie, aquatic lure before lunging in with brazen hardcore stabs. And ‘Energy Energy’ reimagines the funk and attitude of Metalheadz for an after-party vibe, before ‘Death By Text’ finally disappears completely into a codeine dream. A very interesting addition to the hardcore continuum; we can’t wait to hear more.
Since departing from Ivy Lab earlier in the year, Laurence Reading has set about reinforcing his already impressive, if somewhat recently neglected, solo catalogue. This latest drop showcases his respectable versatility; the eponymous ‘Vex’ is all claustrophobic bass pressure and agonised claxons, feeding into the influx of underground jump-up popularised by the likes of Serum, Doc Scott and Benny L. On the flip, ‘Don’t You Know’ is food for the soul, a gentle close-your-eyes-and-drift-away liquid roller of the highest order. B-e-a-utiful!
Minor Notes Recordings
Founded by Moscow-based DJ/producer GuyDee, Minor Notes Recordings is fast becoming the imprint championing the best deep house coming out of Russia. Hoavi's EP is no exception. 'Tomorrow Guy' combines gliding minor chord stabs with breaks, and 'Daytones' is a laid-back melody driven affair that comes with a fast-paced remix by Ray Kandinski for variety. The atmospheric pads and sultry vocal tones on 'Two Roads' are reminiscent of Fred P or Galcher Lustwerk, with some hints of Jimpster thrown in for good measure.