There are echoes of the solemn synths from Ron Trent’s ‘Altered States’ bubbling beneath the surface on ‘Rarified Air’, but Keith Worthy is far too accomplished to produce a pastiche. Instead, he deploys a pulsing, Italo-inspired bass and icy soundscapes, creating a combination that makes nods to the past as well as pushing Detroit dance music forward. Worthy has also had the good sense to commission some impressive remixes; the Steve Tang take is a sleek but pulsing techno groove, while Jamal Moss manages the rare feat of balancing his noisy, abrasive sound with a club-friendly bass. It’s a triumph of the considered over the primal, and one of many high points here.
'2 The Sky'
Giegling is one of the most hyped labels at the moment, but don’t let that put you off ‘2 The Sky’. This four-tracker moves from the downtempo, indie-guitar-tinged ambience of ‘As I Get Insane’ to the epic breakbeats and utopian synths of Metatron’s own versions of the title track and ‘2 Bad’ to the weird spoken word of ‘The Journey’. It’s one of the oddest but most rewarding techno records of 2016.
The fledgling Jheri Tracks label is in danger of outdoing its parent, the Dublin-based All City. Following on from its exhaustive 'Mini-Disc' compilation comes this gem from Fotomachine, aka Dean Bryce. Combining mysterious, shadowy textures with broken down drum patterns and rhythms that snake in and out like a reckless cyclist, most of the tracks follow an unpredictable path — and only on the title track’s dense drums does Bryce provide some concession to the dancefloor. Like Pele, who adorns the cover, it’s clearly the work of an unconventional artist.
'Kess Kill 2'
Rivet’s new label engages in a wonderful piece of archiving. Recorded almost 35 years ago by an Austrian producer, the improbably named Xao Seffcheque, this three-tracker combines the swagger of boogie with the atonal gurgle of post-punk and the precise metallic rhythms of proto-techno. According to the label, Seffcheque went on to enjoy a successful career in television, but no matter what he did next, it would be hard to better the raw power of 'Du Und Ich' or 'Eine Nacht In Deutschland'.
As one might expect from Boris Bunnik, the latest Versalife release is full of delicate touches and expertly arranged elements. The booming bass and acidic undercurrent on “Shine Eye” kick-starts the release, melting away to the atmospheric, eerie electro of “Autobots”. “MILnet” shows that the Dutch producer is as adept at making deep techno as esoteric electro, with warm melodies and abstract squiggles unfolding over tight kicks. The release ends with the reflective ‘Transgenics”, where clanging rhythms and mournful synths collide.
DJ Bone & Deetron
'The Storytellers EP'
Subject boss DJ Bone hooks up with Deetron for this mighty release. The evocative, uplifting piano keys of 'Black Patterns' sits somewhere between 'Strings Of Life’ and Jeff Mills' ‘Changes Of Life’; supported by tough drums and rasping percussion, the addition of a looped vocal sample serves to accentuate its '90s flavour. Meanwhile, the ‘Beats’ version treats the listener to a heavier drum-led experience. 'The Core' is a more standard, chord-heavy techno workout — reminiscent of Technasia — but it can’t compare to ‘Patterns’.
'Vault One: Love’s Pain'
Chicago producer Vincent Floyd has got an extensive archive of unreleased music and has launched a label, Dawn Notes, to share it with the world. The four tracks on this inaugural EP sound like they were recorded during the mid- to late-'90s. ‘Love’s Pain’ is weighed down with swooning chords and plaintive keys, and is redolent of vintage Abacus, while ‘Authentic Self’ sees him mine the mellow deep house/techno style of Prescription. The pace throughout is unhurried, expect on the hyperactive rhythm and dark bass stabs of 'Curves For Coners', which sees Floyd explore the urgent primal sound that characterised his work for Relief.