Dallas, Texas synth dreamer Cygnus (Phillip Washington), has a grasp of melody and structure that makes his tracks sparkle and gleam like bright sunlight hitting a flying car. His futuristic electro has plenty of funk, but also a wistful sense, as much Detroit techno as 1980s electropop. New album ‘Rainy Days’ is brain food of the best kind, ranging in mood from the moody oscillating synth bass and vocoders of ‘Liquid Televisions’, to the 16-bit melody, pad drift and IDM beats of ‘Oak Cliff Cybernetics’, to the heart-string plucking chords of ‘Icasean Laser Light’. Made for contemplation, this is the wonderful mellow end of electro.
This latest EP picks up where Gerald Donald’s main project Dopplereffekt (alongside Michaela To-Nhan Bertel) left off, exploring science fiction atmospheres and stiff, yet funky, robot rhythms. The beatless title track scuttles like a swarm of robotic spiders, while a dark synth drone lurks in the background. ‘Hayflick Limit’ adds irresistible arp melodies to android bass and a yearning vocal, ‘Eukaryotic Chromosomes’ is a nightmarish four-four quest into the void, ‘Telomere’ has needling keys and acid spitting bass splurges, and ‘Mitosis’ finishes things off with a more optimistic cosmic voyage. Full of sounds few others could dream of, let alone make, this is the special stuff.
'From The Dark '
This bumper compilation from Sync 24’s world-beating imprint brings together long time electro advocates and newer names in the genre for an exercise in sure-fire club tracks. The Exaltics' ‘I’m There’ is a cool and considered four-four gallop, Sync 24 & Privacy’s ‘First Install’ is a metallic creeper, Ekman’s ‘Shadows That Play’ is an apparition of prodding bass and crisp 808, while The Operator’s ‘Localhost Pt 2’ is all urgent, acidic rhythms. Don't miss Versalife's incredible 'Infinite Velocities' in particular — an eerie gem, or the propulsive energy of Sync 24 & Joonam Prada's 'Thunder Cuns Sub Up'.
Known best for his killer cuts on many of the top electro labels (CPU, Twilight 76, Breakin’), Paul Blackford also has a more chill side, which he explores on new album ‘Horizons’. Loaded with down-tempo beats, it’s the warping, warm synth bass and mystic chords here that make the record worthy of inclusion on this page. ‘Proteus 2’ has bewitching, interlocked synthwave melodies, while ‘Rhythm Quest’ replays ambient keys that might be familiar to fans of A Tribe Called Quest (or Grace Jones, for that matter), inserting them in a slinky new arrangement. ‘Horizons’ is a dreamlike beauty.
London Modular Alliance
Koova, Pip Williams and Yes Effect unite for their latest missive as London Modular Alliance, definitely among the most exciting UK electro acts around at the minute. ‘Same Repeated Cycles’ has relentless one note bass, permafrost synths and irresistible beats, while ‘Acid Lab’ is a slow, moody IDM caper with, yes, lots of 303. Best of all though is the crypto junglist ‘Volatile State’ that, once it gets going, is the kind of thing you can hear the Hessle Audio crew playing.
The ultra prolific DJ/producer’s debut album is finally here. While his other stuff has been superb, it seems he’s saved his best tracks for this storming collection. Right from the off, ‘Mother’ kicks like a mule, with the tough electro-techno of ‘Ultramax’ mixing dual basslines and horror tones to detonate the club. ‘Drip Freq’ is even better, another four-four beast, while ‘Time Echo’ with long time inspiration The Hacker has a touch of synthpop and EBM in its arpeggiated synth grind. Just buy it, ok?
Andrew Red Hand
Romania’s Andrew Red Hand lands on underground specialist Lobster Theremin with a clutch of varied electro cuts. ‘In The Cemetery’ is full of wraith-like synths and a horror film analogue bassline that Carpenter would give the thumbs up to, ‘Slaying The Dictator’ is murky four-four, while ‘There Is Hope’ takes a turn for the positive, with its funky Moog bass, and shimmering electronics. Lastly, ‘Bombing For Peace’ is cowbell-laden, overdriven acid. Very promising.
No Data Available
'The Night EP'
Null & Void
Garnering praise for his live sets and work alongside Matt Whitehead as Pendle Watkins, No Data Available’s selection for Null + Void is rough and raw, with plenty of analogue grist and grime. ‘Yes Mate’ should generate the same exclamation in any listener, with its sidewinding bass riff and satisfyingly crunchy rhythm track. ‘Oh Now Really’ has jittery keys and a gnarly low-end, while ‘Traitor’ is the pearl here, with its acid bleeps and proper hardcore stabs, and ‘The Night’ is an intriguing mood piece. Killer all round.