It makes perfect sense that the new album from Finnish electro explorers Morphology is on B12’s Firescope label. Morphology’s sound leans towards sci-fi atmospheres and imaginary galaxies, like the label owners' music; a fact reinforced by the astral visions of the 10-track ‘Traveller’. ‘Distant Signal’ is a wistful emission of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ era IDM classicism, ‘Second Light’ introduces crisp beats and moody bass to its lucent synths, and ‘Hidden Variable’ is a cinematic drift into the gaping maw of the unknown. Morphology’s sense of mood and cavernous production is what makes them a cut above, and ‘Traveller’ is the kind of stuff that should be soundtracking movies by Denis Villeneuve.
Hristiana Radeva is the London-based DJ and producer behind Errorbeauty and Arkada is her new label, debuting with two of her tracks and two from T15DM (who’s recorded for Earwiggle and Irish imprint Trensmet). ‘Lilia’ is equal parts glitch and groove, a broken electro beat decorated with extra-terrestrial melodies that display her love for early ’90s ambient techno. ‘Gravity’ is moodier, a foreboding slow burn of brooding low-end and prickling synth. By contrast, T15DM goes in heavy on ‘Nuther Desk Mixdown’, with crackling analogue hardware beats and the kind of acid you’d hear in Errorbeauty’s DJ sets, with ‘Smex’ more abstract and distorted. Fresh sounds all round.
Moscow techno club and label Propaganda’s latest musical venture is Code, a new imprint dedicated to electro. ‘Code One’ is a hell of an opener, with two tracks from Netherlands beat addicts DJ Overdose and Hadamard. On ‘Tough Shit’, Overdose delivers his promise, with booming kicks and snares providing the foundation for a bilious IDM synth lead, while his ‘Kill Dr. 5’ is an acid sidewinder. Hadamard’s ‘The Capitalist’ is less bombastic, but builds in intensity with crotchety riffs and trap rap samples, and ‘Will To Power’ is a dark soundscape piece. Great debut.
Tokyo-based Franck Collin mustn’t get out much judging by the amount of music he’s released since 2010 on labels such as Bass Agenda and Electrix. That’s our gain, as ‘Discrete Opinion’ is a supreme slab of hip-wiggling computer funk, with an irresistible bassline, weirdo leads, and laser blasts thrown in for good measure. While ‘The Selfix Job’ isn’t as enjoyable, ‘Little Man’ is great moody techno with more than a hint of Sheffield, and ‘Night And Day’ returns to the funk theme, adding big ’80s synths. One to keep an eye on.
'Element: Water '
After ‘Element: Earth’ comes the second release on Dmitry Distant’s label, this time focusing on water as its theme. The lead contribution is from London producer Plant43, whose contemplative and highly musical take on electro is perfectly suited to the oceanic vibe. ‘Hydrocarbon Seas’ has a pacy rhythm and vivid viridian synth lead, while aquatic pads circle in the depths: perfect for wave jumping to. Gestalt’s ‘Ecosystem’ is a scientific reconnaissance into the midnight zone, dodging giant anglerfish, while Maroje’s ‘LA Confidential’ instead opts for minimalist electrofunk with Kraftwerkian lead lines. Jack Roland’s ‘Osmotic Potential’, lastly, is a mechanical, abstract journey into clanking percussion and ominous pads. Essential purchase.
The productions of Dallas artist Cygnus on labels such as CPU and Fundamental sparkle with crystalline details. Cygnus’s new EP ‘Ne0 Ge0’ maintains his perfectionist approach, with the lovely ‘Zone Shifting’ combining warm synth washes, bubbling bass and skittering beats, snippets of vocal enhancing its otherworldly effect. ‘Ne0 Ge0’ itself is an abstract treat of divergent electro melodies and treated vocoder, and ‘Astronoot’ is a four-four piece with a glowering low-end and cosmic keys. Best of all is ‘Vertexing’, its meandering bassline presiding over moody sci-fi synth swells. So good.
Gerald Donald (Drexciya, Dopplereffekt and many more) has been busy recently, releasing an album of off-world electronics as Xor Gate, 'Conic Sections', and here he returns to one of his most celebrated pseudonyms, Arpanet, on this head-to-head for Detroit producer 30drop’s label. The Arpanet tracks tend towards the spooky, beatless sound he’s favoured lately, with ‘Supernova Remnant’ towed by bass thrums and eerie needling synths, and ‘Main Sequence Star’ all urgent electronic rhythm and misty sound design. Head for 30drop’s ‘Disharmonic Gait’ for a healthy dose of abstract machine funk and cosmic keys.
'V Is For Victor'
Asking for Trouble
The latest release on Radioactive Man’s label is an intriguing collaboration between the boss himself and Newcastle producer and Free Rotation resident Suade Bergemann. As Victor Valliant, they free themselves from any genre shackles, so ‘V Is For Victor’ explores everything from kosmische ambient to organic, acid dipped funk. Electro isn’t neglected though: ‘Tanker’ adds ice floe pads and chittering melody to a crisp foundation of drum machine beats and warm bass, and ‘Conway’ is a far darker cut, suitable for the tunnel chase sequence in Kill List perhaps. Superb record all round.