Memories of Kamalengo EP
Despite already having an album out on Tabernacle and an EP for Chiwax this year, John Heckle shows no sign of slowing down. ‘Archipelago’ the lead track on this release captures the producer’s infectious creative energy, as warbling filters and arcing acid lines unite over a storming analogue rhythm. On the flip, 'Horologic' sees him veer into Mills-inspired Head Front Panel territory, the kicks and percussion all pushed into the reds. There’s no let up on 'Etchings'; though the tempo is slower, it’s served up with a frazzled, noisy groove, bringing the end to a mesmerising release.
Few labels straddle the ebm/noise/techno divide with such ease as Ecstatic — and this split EP is a case in point. Not Waving’s untitled contribution features noisy riffs and anti-racism activist Jane Elliot’s vocals unravelling over crashing drums. Pye Corner Audio’s track revolves around a woozy electronic disco groove, but Silent Servant steals the show. The LA producer’s untitled track is an eerie affair, its pulsating rhythm populated by haunted noises and an indistinct vocal narrative.
'Gestures Of A Sycophant'
‘Sycophant’ shows that 20 years after the project’s first release, Swayzak remains one of the most vital voices in electronic music. The title track is a gloriously layered affair with David Brown drawing on glitchy percussion and shimmering synths. It meanders about magnificently for over 10 minutes. Brown goes for a similar approach on 'The Anathemata'; featuring a bizarre spoken word intro, it then veers into dense layers of abstract sound that are nothing short of mesmerising.
Gunner has been releasing music for a few years, but this is the Berlin-based producer’s best record. 'Fictitious' takes the steppy techno sound and turns it inside out with hypnotic bleeps, spacey filters and dissected vocal samples. 'Concern From Afar' is even more impressive. It revolves around rolling broken beats and a warm filtered riff, but then breaks into a mysterious synth segue. The bleary-eyed deep techno of 'Majesty' (think vintage Stacey Pullen) completes this excellent release.
It's hard to believe that 'Model' is Heartless' debut release; it opens with the rough, rugged drums and searing tones of 'Circuit Form (0.2)', which sounds like the kind of expertly executed tough techno that 6dimensions label owner Steve Bicknell or Regis used to specialise in. 'Are You Even There Anymore' sees Heartless ride a frazzled, acid line over storming kicks, while 'Mathilda' centres on a purring bass that takes the listener on a trip through filtered bleakness. As debuts go, it's hard to beat.
'Mind Process Controller'
Dutch duo Crystal Maze have so far released predominantly on Bio Rhythm, but now branch out with this record for Brokntoys sub-label Eidetic. Alternating between profound, reflective sound tracks on one end and bass-heavy dancefloor tracks on the other, ‘Controller’ is underpinned by the pair’s unfussy production technique throughout. This is most notable on the menacing sub-bass-led title track and the widescreen synths of 'Worlds Reversed', making ‘Controller’ a bleak but atmospheric affair.
Occasionally, we get sent a release from an unknown producer that blows us away. This is one of those occasions. 'Platform 4' was supposedly produced 'in a bedroom... tested in a small, dark and damp club downtown in Milan'. No doubt the reaction to these two club tracks was fittingly unhinged. '4A' resounds to razor-sharp percussion, pounding drums and a wild, filtered break-down and build. It sounds like Marco Carola in his prime. '4B' is more impressive; based on a relentless rhythm and frazzled acid riffs, it recalls the glory days of ACV and shows that Platform is mining a rich, diverse Italian heritage.
Holic have again secured the services of Mr G, who delivers his distinctive sound. 'Komorebi' is stripped back and tracky, with a "can you dig it" vocal sample deep in the arrangement, but the title track impresses more. The drums roll with that understated swagger that characterises the best of G’s work, while woozy chords and a gut-busting bass give it great power and depth. Factor in a vocal sample proclaiming "you never want enough from me" and you’ve got another killer Mr G record.