‘Submission’ is Stephen Lopkin’s only EP of 2019, but it’s a release that transcends years and dates. Issued on the mighty Seventh Sign label, it draws on classic house and techno, with a flawless delivery. ‘Approval In Principle’ is an understated Detroit groove, punctuated by epic strings and sweet synth melodies. The title track comes in two versions, but on both the original and dub take, Lopkin’s celebratory keys and tight drums recall the very best of Guidance/Prescription, while ‘Hanky Lady’ closes out the release with Motor City strings. If you’re looking for electronic music with a true sense of soul, then look no further.
As Microworld, Philip McGarva has a small but impressive catalogue of releases for labels like Transmat and Styrax Leaves. Now the Australian artist launches his own imprint, with music released under his own name and a focus on downtempo rather than the dancefloor. Already this approach is yielding some unforgettable results: the frosty ambience of ‘Nite Dive’ and the cosmic ‘New Low’ map out a new path, while the introspective melodies and understated kicks on ‘Speed Of Darkness’ make the link to his previous work.
Betonkust & Innershades
Clone Jack for Daze
This collaboration between Betonkust & Innershades sees the duo mine the past to come up with four fresh tracks. There are Chicago house and new beat undercurrents on 'Mercy Like' and 'Sorry For Apologizing', as bleak synths are combined with jacking, acid-soaked rhythms. 'Abandoned Chat Room' sees them drop a fine, squelchy electro workout, but this release is mainly about house-inspired grooves, as the dreamier ‘What You Always Wanted’ so elegantly demonstrates.
Geist & Codenys
Patrick Codenys of Front 242 fame gets together with US producer Digital Geist for this EBM-meets-techno EP. ‘Minor V1’ sees the pair drop a frazzled, industrial rhythm, while ‘Minor V2’ is more understated, but just as effective thanks to its moody bass and robust drums. Marco Cabral is tapped for a remix, with the LIES artist delivering a more spaced-out, dubby take on the original, without sacrificing its firepower.
'Outskirts Of Reno EP'
Returning after a few years’ absence, Matt Hill aka Umberto shows different sides to his musical palette for his debut Giallo Disco outing. There’s the dystopian, industrial-themed techno of ‘The Basement’ and ‘Entrance’, where cavernous, eerie soundscapes prevail. On the other end, there are synth-disco workouts like ‘A Dream’, while on ‘Exit’ and ‘Repeat’, grinding riffs are wedded with pulsating grooves to create powerful new hybrids.
The mysterious Lost Trax return to Delsin with an EP that puts a focus on their Detroit techno influences. The sweet melodies on 'Interstate (Halfway Home Mix)’ resound to a crisp, snaking rhythm, while the title track follows a similar trajectory, as acid-flecked percussion crashes in over an ominous, Suburban Knight-style bass. While ‘De Laye’ sees Lost Trax lean on dub techno influences to craft a cavernous groove, there is a return to electro on the murky ‘Still’.
Fabrizio Lapiana & Simone Gatto
'Three Days EP'
Attic Music owner Fabrizio Lapiana teams up with Simone Gatto to deliver a dreamy EP. 'Close The Gap' resounds to a sonorous bass that provides the foundation for frosty synth loops, while 'Signals' is tougher, combining a dense bass with tone-shifting bleeps. 'Day Two' sees a change in style, with a more dubbed-out groove and spacey chords prevailing. Irrespective of their approach, all tracks are expertly crafted and executed.
'Through Worlds & Centuries '
Distant Worlds takes a somewhat different turn for its latest release. Largely eschewing the dancefloor — apart from HOLOVR’s contribution — it features the glorious woodwind and acid-soaked melodies of Tagwell Woods’ 'Bench On The Hill', as well as the atmospheric, downtempo ‘At The World’s End’ by Mihail P. The label also deserves praise for unearthing and releasing Castel’s ‘Silverline’, a dreamy breakbeat techno piece recorded during the '90s.