Unlike purist techno, underground electro has not yet had its moment in the sun. This has a lot to do with the form not being as dancefloor-friendly as techno and lacking a globally-recognised platform like Berghain. As if to prove the first part of that statement, Delta Funktionen delivers a stunning, pounding techno version of ‘Early Morning’. The original is more impressive though, featuring an irresistible interplay between melodies and spiralling acid lines. ’Bubble Theory’ inhabits the same cold funk territory as Hacker and on ‘Expanded Consciousness’, Komarken Electronics strays into E.R.P. territory — mean bass juxtaposed with heavenly synths.
' Celestial Waves EP'
The title track on Semper Memor’s fourth release starts with what sounds like a heart-beat, more specifically that of Etienne Dauta aka Uqbar. There is a similar mood on the sublime keys and brittle rhythms of “Escape Velocity’. The reflective mood eventually gives way to the Juan Atkins-style funk bass and underwater chords of ‘Saskia’ and US producer Chris Mitchell provides a rough, jacking take on the title track that seethes with ebm menace. It’s another impressive chapter in the slow but steady rise of Semper Memor.
'A Place Where The Desert Meets The Ocean'
Despite its somewhat grandiose title, there is nothing aloof about this release. Noisemaker, an Italian producer, makes techno with a raw, gritty edge. That approach is audible on 'Dumb', where crackling percussion and whooshing effects meet with a pounding bass and kicking drums, while ‘Playful’ is a harder metallic techno workout, littered with larger than life tonal bleeps. The dub techno of ‘Fizzy Ambient’ suggests that Noisemaker is covering all bases, but it is delivered with the same solemn resolve as the other tracks.
This is Canadian producer Marc Leclair’s first release in four years as Akufen, and ostensibly, not much has changed. The same microscopic beats and dissected/re-assembled swinging rhythms prevail — but there are some twists. ‘A1 U’ juxtaposes easy listening/jazz motifs redolent of Herbert at his kookiest with billowing synths, while ‘Death Of A Mascot’ resounds to sweeping piano keys. Apart from the glitchy ‘Seizure Salad’, it’s a mature-sounding release and a long way from the cut-up chaos of ‘Deck The House’.
Robin Ball’s only release as Resonators launched the Grooverpressure label back in 1999. Now, 17 years later, this reissue is a reminder that Ball and the label were ahead of their time. ‘Booma’ is still a wonderfully futuristic house/techno affair, punctuated by razor-sharp percussion, flitting between breakbeats and straight 4/4s. Meanwhile, ’Shuzzbuzz’, with its powerful bass and tongue-in-cheek vocal sample, is infinitely more entertaining than the current slew of Drexciya fanboys. Ball contributes a bouncy house reshape of ‘Shuzzbuzz’ as well as an electro remix, but it’s all about the original tracks.
Konsequent issue more remixes of the sadly deceased Morgenstern’s catalogue, and this volume is the strongest to date. German veteran Alexander Kowalski delivers a menacing, dubby take on ‘Lydia To The Edge Of Panic’; under his Trolley Route alias, Oscar Mulero turns ‘Miscellaneous Part 7’ into a slinky, tone-heavy minimal workout and in Jeff Rushin’s hands, ‘Little Green Apples’ becomes an eerie, layered DVS1-style DJ tool. It’s a fitting tribute to one who passed so young.
Chris Roman’s 214 project focuses largely on atmospheric electro, and he covers that territory here with the airy, melodic ’Jade’ and ‘Hurley’. That said, this release on Lunar Disko also offers some surprises; the brittle percussion and slinky rhythm on ‘Lunar Landing’ are redolent of vintage UR and on ‘The Breakfast Club’, Roman turns his attention to dancefloor techno and hits pay-dirt. Underpinned by staccato drums and a swinging rhythm, he unleashes a bass that purrs with all of the predatory power of Suburban Knight.
'The Amber Season EP'
Gretta Cottage Workshop
Listening to the gloriously languid chimes of ‘Amber Green’ and ‘Going To Meet You’ from Arnaldo, this release’s autumnal title fits perfectly. Do Monoak’s contributions also fit this mood? ‘Perth’ is bubbly and vaguely tropical and ‘Dust’ is a jittery, lo-fi dancefloor workout. However, on ‘The Last Season’ Monoak conjures up images of frosty mornings using evocative, colourful melodies and a rollicking rhythm. The end of the year has never had such a vivid soundtrack.