The Electro Collection
Often way ahead of the curve, Paul Blackford is a unique producer with a distinctive UK take on the style. Releasing records since 2002, Blackford's discography is vast, and possibly intimidating to the uninitiated. So 'The Electro Collection' is a very welcome primer on his best material, 75 tracks deep with crisp electro goodness. '1991' adds rave formulae to the classic beat structure, with Detroit stabs and hoover interjections, 'Coin Op' did the 8-bit arcade sample thing before everyone else, and 'Heathrow Express' is a wicked acid piece with hip-hop horn stabs and plush pads. Any self respecting electro addict needs this.
Joan-Mael Péneau is Maelstrom, a French producer whose output has appeared on labels as varied as Dirtybird, Sound Pelligrino, Zone and Bromance. This latest transmission for CPU is more abstract than listeners might expect, with the title cut a diaphanous ribbon of ambient acid, though 'Who Else Is Reading' adds hefty overdriven drums and a sinuous bass squiggle to its filmic chords. 'Letter From M' is the tonic DJs will be looking for, though: an almost military barrage of snares and electro funk — though a celestial synth still circles above. 'Lost Echoes' with Djedjotronic is also excellent, an Aphexian dose of 4/4.
Tucked away on a six-track compilation from rising Toronto label and collective Forth is this electro/EBM hybrid from Kontravoid, who's also been seen on Cititrax and Tarantula X. Sinister analogue arpeggios and brooding vocals contribute to an oppressive 80s slasher film vibe, ratcheted up a notch midway through. Strobe-lit, dangerous and dark, this is dark electro at its best in the vein of The Hacker.
A gorgeous EP from fresh producer No Moon, and the latest confirmation that Glasgow label Craigie Knowes can do no wrong, the 'Infinite Dreamz EP' will delight those who enjoy the interface between abstract IDM melodies and authentic electro beats. 'Exoplanet Vibe Cult' is an aural balm for your brainpans, where blips and arps ascend through foggy pads. 'Infinite Dreamz' itself is more laidback, a dreamy drift on pillows of synth and optimistic harmonies, while 'Mallet Fury' is a little more floor focused, with its pinging bass — but the vibe remains somnambulist. Incredible stuff, more!
'Low Frequency Fugitive'
A champion of UK electro, with releases on Breakin', Control Tower, Touchin' Bass and Electrix, Phil Klein fires up his Bass Junkie moniker for his first solo release in eight years. '? Everything' is powered by ominous bass stabs, hovering synths, metallic counter melodies and a dark spoken word vocal, while industrial drums and warping bass underpin the high-octane 'Surrender Or Be Destroyed!' The highlight for this writer, though, is 'Liquid Engineering', with its spacious production, avalanche of toms and relentless bass groove.
Finnish duo Morphology are causing a ruckus right now with their fresh sci-fi atmospheres and hard beats. 'Mind Stealers' is another demonstration of their considerable skills. The title track is a spacious cut with ominous Speak 'n' Spell vocals, warping xenomorphic bass, entwining acid lines and melodic touches. It's utterly transportive. 'Fluid Dynamics' switches the beat up to 4/4, with a snare that sounds like an 8-bit explosion. The bassline is the highlight of the whole release and could reduce worlds to smithereens. Sync 24's remix of 'Mind Stealers' strips back some of the spaciness for a more dancefloor moment, while 'Wages Of Sin' is another intense missive. Recommended for nocturnal electro fiends.
'Unsolved Mysteries '
A fascinating story behind this one: Ultramajic boss Jimmy Edgar went to a storage unit auction in Detroit and bid on the contents. Inside, along with vintage recording equipment, he found 100 DATs and reel to reel tapes. One contained the works of hitherto unknown Detroit electro genius, Ashtar Lavanda. Jimmy tracked him down, and this release represents the best of Ashtar's 1995-'98 output. 'Opulence' is incredible, a slice of classic Motor City machine funk than even Juan Atkins or Aux 88 could be proud of, all burbling insectoid blips and restrained analogue synth bass. The title cut too is extraterrestrial alchemy, with sinister hovering low-end and eerie strings. Also, check out that cover art!
'Zoe Hayley Laura EP'
Will & Ink
The Amsterdam-based Yaleesa Hall shuns the limelight, devoting his time to crafting sublime beats such as the lead cut on this excellent EP. Though 'Hayley Roach' and 'Laura Pomeroy' are strong electro cuts, it's 'Zoe Price' that takes the trophy, a minimalist emission of crisp beats, one-note low-end warps and weird effects. With the stripped back arrangement, you focus in on the exquisite details, such as the subtly flanged hi-hats and tough snare, before the track drops into ecstatic cyborg bass that most producers would roll out for the duration.