The latest release on Kirsti’s impeccable Null + Void label is from newcomer Kilig, who makes a sizeable impression. Drawing from the atmospheric side of electro, ‘Cry’ pulls us in with plangent chords and subtly cut up vocal snippets, before dropping into snappy beats and plunging bass. ‘All I Can See Is Blue’ is even more striking, revelling in a mystical synth figure, while tidy snares and rimshots keep the rhythm moving. ‘A Book Won’t Save You’ conjures a morass of dense found sound crackles, before focusing in on its beats, and ‘Lost To The Void’ is a spacious, ominous number. Refreshingly different.
Croatia’s Crobot Muzik returns with another refreshing twist on the electro formula, this time in the form of an album from Finland-based Russian, Panafidin. ‘Light & Dark’ wriggles with an analogue electro-funk bass synth; ‘Total War’ is a wicked, all-out assault with buzzing Moog low-end and dusty snares; and ‘Progress’ has warm Detroit chords amid its relentless rhythms. Super impressive throughout.
'Coming Up For Air'
Psychedelic, intense, engulfing: all apt descriptions of Glasgow producer Galaxian’s music. Fresh from an Aphex Twin spin of his track ‘You Don’t Matter’ in Manchester, he returns with this five-tracker for futurists Ilian Tape. ‘Coming Up For Air’ is effectively emotional breakcore, and very good indeed, but ‘External Observer’ will have his electro fans salivating, with its echoed snare and soaring strings; it’s surprisingly optimistic in sound. Also of note is ‘Mechanistic Control Fantasies’, a fuzzy, clipped and robotic number that sounds like Boards Of Canada throwing down a lino to get busy.
Prolific Dutch producer Boris Bunnik reactivates his Conforce moniker for a fifth album of icy auras. Though he tends to save his electro tracks for the Versalife moniker, ‘Dawn Chorus’ has its fair share of 808 beats too. ‘Void’ is a broken techno piece with pads you could swim in, and ‘iO’ has a propulsive forward motion even while it floats far in the stratosphere. Bunnik’s greatest gift is for sound design, making this a real headphones treat.
Distorted Drill & Phasz
Italian producer Distorted Drill’s new EP combines electro with hip-hop — something of a rarity, after the beginnings of the genre in the ’80s — and live hand percussion, resulting in a distinctive sound. ‘Acid Jungle’ is not the 303 led breakbeat avalanche you might hope for with that name, but instead a wild caper of acidic riffs, kinetic drums and the party hyping raps of Sardinian MC Phasz. Of particular note is ‘Didgeridoo Commander’, which weaves conga drums through an 808 beat and warping blasts of didgeridoo functioning as bass.
Best known as one of the founders of the White Material label, and for a background in the Rhode Island, US noise scene, DJ Richard’s dance music tends to have a dark energy drawn from post-punk adjacent genres such as EBM or new beat. On EP highlight ‘Casca’s Theme’, he applies the same approach to electro; it's a compelling and intensely spooky missive with '80s horror synths. Highly recommended.
Surfacing on Craigie Knowes’ vinyl-only reissue label Wormhole Wisdom are these obscure mid-'90s gems from highly regarded electro cats Grumptronix and Diode. ‘Waterhole’ by Diode is sublime: dank moody bass rides a crispy beat, and plays off harmonic acid bleeps to great effect, while the previously unreleased ‘The Witching Hour’ by Grumptronix is an eerie slab of swung-out murk you need in your life.
'Kestrel Manoeuvres In The Dark'
One of electro’s stealthiest undercover operatives, Datasette (John Davies) has been quietly releasing gobsmacking music since 2003, much to the delight of his fans but largely ignored by the mainstream, despite the odd remix here and there. This EP should increase his profile, though the core values haven’t changed. The (fantastically named) title track is a thumping four-four monster with unsettling synth bass and weird detuned melodies, one of the best things out this month, while ‘To The Scullery!’, though beatless, could provide a vital mix tool, with its emotive, trancelike sequences. Another essential, ‘Stoatle Excelsior’, provides the much needed 808s and freakiness we all crave. Marvellous stuff.