Mick Wills is one of Europe’s finest DJs, with almost 30 years’ experience. The German selector’s ability to dig deep and re-imagine obscure wave, Italo disco and electro also means that he is one of the most individualistic remixers in the business. Having reworked cult '80s acts East Wall and Martin Dupont, he now drops two new edits. There is no information about who produced the original tracks, but thanks to Wills' touch, Das Geschwader’s 'Himmelfahrt 89' turns into a brooding dark wave affair, while The Vox’s 'Stay Silent' becomes a lo-fi electro rhythm track. It’s an essential, left-of-centre release.
Super Rhythm Trax
John Heckle shows a different side to his musical identity on 'Changes': ‘4am Chord’, with its piano keys and uplifting melody, mines the more optimistic side of early '90s dance, while ‘JV Ride’ sees him further explore this theme thanks to the use of rave keys that strike a balance between euphoria and menace. On both occasions, Heckle uses rock-hard kicks to ensure his musical message translates to the dancefloor. Closing track ‘Changes’ continues this approach, with a slamming rhythm track underpinning floaty synth passages.
'Drama In Decay'
Brokntoys departs from its usual electro sound to deliver this debut release from Dutch producer Gamma Intel. The title track is a dark, industrial affair that resounds to eerie sound scapes and clanging percussion, while 'Theorem X’ ploughs a similar approach, this time featuring a pounding bass and heavy 808s. Fans of the label’s usual sound will love Gamma Intel’s take on electro on the muddy ‘Post Factum’, while ‘Self-Denial’ revolves around a huge, electronic disco groove that has echoes of vintage Viewlexx.
'Food For Thought EP '
What Ever Not
There are so many producers doing a mediocre job at recreating late '80s/early-'90s Chicago house and techno that it’s easy to overlook the better examples of this trend. ‘Food for Thought’ is one of those exceptions. 'Sunflower Starfish' resounds to churning bass tones and dreamy, spaced out synths that recall classic Heard and Trent, while the title track features punchy drums and more mysterious chords. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but it does serve as a reminder that some tributes are done well.
Supposedly recorded in a bunker in Switzerland, ‘Im Kellar’ makes the connection between '80s ebm and modern techno. The title track revolves around a buzz saw bass, nocturnal riffs and tight drums, while on 'Golden Queen', eerie synths wind their way around a menacing, ominous rhythm. The brilliantly-named ‘Brain Roto Cast Action’ sounds like what would happen if Front 242 got together with Gesloten Cirkel, as displaced vocals are united with a bleak, pumping groove, while the release concludes with the high energy, synth-heavy ‘Golden Axe’.
'Lane Escape EP'
Unknown To The Unknown
Frak have been around since the dawn of acid house, but this release shows that they still have the ability to surprise. The Swedish act’s trademark grungy sound is largely absent here, as they focus on twisting new sounds from their 303s. This takes the form of ‘Protes’, where they replicate the sound of a train rushing by and on the title track’s layered acid-heavy approach. Best of all though is ‘Long Fork’, where a bleep techno bass underpins their tonal experiments.
'Sending You Some Lungs'
The last release on Apartment was a few years ago and it returns with a bang thanks to Chase Smith’s 'Mariana'; a stepping, rattling rhythm shot through with dark, malevolent bass and ferocious claps. The US producer, who has also released on WT and Argot, then shifts styles to deliver the synth-pop pulses and Detroit-y synths of the title track and ‘1-900-909-CREEP’, where distorted kicks, firing snares and disturbed, slurred vocals prevail. It’s a fitting return for one of techno’s most unorthodox labels.
Man Power & Last Waltz
Man Power returns to ESP Institute, with ’Tistish’ an utterly modern techno track. It sees the UK producer combining high-pitched acid bleeps with a muddy, ominous bass, relentless percussion and eerie synths. On ahem, ’Nee Shitteru’, he revives his Last Waltz alias, whose previous work has featured on World Unknown and Tusk Wax. While the resultant collaboration is more stripped back than ’Tistish’, the hollowed out drums underpin wild chants and a mesmerising acid bass. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a small space with a big system.