Central Processing Unit
Initially an anonymous production handle, LA-4A is the alter ego of Berlin-based expat Kevin McHugh, aka Ambivalent — a former affiliate of Richie Hawtin’s M-nus label. Lead track ‘Slackline’ is the standout here, but the level of inventive production across the six-track release easily makes it one of the strongest of 2018 so far. Other highlights include the undulating acid techno of ‘Punishment’, festival anthem-in-the-making ‘Creased’ and abstract rework ‘Decreased’. McHugh launched his Delft imprint in 2013, which has released a number of his own productions — check out ‘Invader’ and ‘Triad’ — as well as material Mor Elian, Alden Tyrell and Physical Therapy. ‘Slackline’, however, drops via Sheffield's Central Processing Unit (CPU), a label which has been pivotal to the recent rise of electro, with releases by iconic figures from the scene like Silicon Scally and Neil Landstrumm, as well as newer talents such as Jensen Interceptor, Maelstrom and 96 Back (the latter recently delivering a blistering Fresh Kicks mix on our SoundCloud). Hot tip!
Blackhall & Bookless
Following a landmark VA to celebrate 10 years of their label, the Geordie duo return with a new four-track EP. ‘Forward’ drives with multiple kicks and ever-pulsing dubbed-out chords, while ‘Voyage’ takes a more melodic turn with subtle washed-out notes that create endless space. ‘Ocean’ rolls out waves of dub stabs with plenty of verb. And ‘Occupy’ is an emotive ambient piece with gritty field recordings and dusty tape textures, that shows off the pair’s full mastery in sound design.
‘I Love Acid 019’
I Love Acid
A new one from Posthuman’s imprint and a solid debut from Liverpool-based Mark Forshaw. All four tracks scream classic acid house; we are talking about inspiration from the Chicago greats like Phuture and Adonis, Mark taking his hat off to them in the most admirable way. TR 909’s and morphing 303 basslines are the order of the day, plus the ‘Elexorcist’ will send electro fans into a frenzy. These get pressed to a limited run of 303 copies, so make sure one of them is yours.
‘MVX’ / ’U41A’
The Vancouver duo are back for Ninja Tune’s offshoot label. ‘MVX’ twists breakbeat around a moody analogue Juno bass synth line complete with tape hiss and UK rave inspired stabs, breaking down into driving TR-909 drums. ‘U41A’ is an even darker affair, reminiscent of old back catalogue Warp or R&S. It’s once again machine-led with the main melody line from the Roland JV-1080 pushed through various sequences creating unpredictable movements throughout. Quite the juxtaposition for a summer release...
Philip D Kick
Not only one of the best monikers in dance music, Philip D Kick (aka Cosmic Bridge bossman Om Unit) is also one of them buy-on-sight kinda names. Usually reserved for edits and remixes, this full original EP has us very hot under the collar. ‘Drown’ is more skatty jungle, while ‘Work That’ is bouncy footwork, but the highlight by far is opener ‘In Formation’, all hectic claps, skittering percussion and a fat-as-fuck acid line that’ll melt your creps.
Expert techno knob-twiddler Saytek jammed out a live set at the recent Shoom 30th anniversary party and some of the highlights are gathered here on this EP. Simply titled ‘Track 1’, ‘Track 2’ etc, it’s a fine selection of gurgly 303 bizness, with ‘Track 2’ being the standout. A riot of zippy 303, discombobulated male moaning, spacey keys and slamming beats, it’s more of a DJ tool than a rounded, polished track, if truth be told, but will ignite any dancefloor anyhow.
Im Kellar landed the number 22 spot in our Top Tracks of 2017 with their self-titled debut on Moustache Records. The production alias of David Vunk and David Spanish, the partnership allows the pair to exercise the full expanse of their wide-ranging tastes, exploring ebm, wave sounds, electro and more across an EP that — perhaps unbelievably — far exceeds their first. Move fast to cop the vinyl as there’ll be no represses and they’re sure to fly!