MOTOR duo Bryan Black and Oly Grasset have turned their back on techno after three albums to produce an vocal-led electro filled with impressive guest stars. Martin L. Gore (Depeche Mode), Gary Numan, Billie Ray Martin (S’Express, Electribe 101) and Motown’s Reni Lane get in on the fizzing synth ride that rips through some 4/4 action and has a deliciously sleazy underbelly.
Evokateur is made up of composer Hector and songwirter/lyricist Sarah Villaraus, a fine pairing who echo the electro-pop of Miss Kittin and The Hacker, but with a more glistening, heartfelt rendering of the genre. The four-track EP follows up last year’s single “Wolf Girl”, which was mixed by Grammy Award winner Dom Morley (Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black) and remixed by electro legend Gary Numan, and shows the London duo are building on strong foundations to create dreamy, melancholic tunes.
Bit-Phalanx was started in 2007 as a label dedicated to all forms of electronica. In the formative years of gigs, releases and projects, established artists, producers, performers and musicians donated their talents to its cause. Five years on the label is repaying their kindness with a compliation dedicated to them. Along with renowned international acts HK-119 and Coppe’, regular Bit-Phalanx guests and new connections feature on this 16-track release.
Berlin was the setting for Benjamin Damage and Doc Daneeka’s recording sessions, but the UK was in the influence for this double act as they took its club sounds of funky, deep house and tech house to Germany. The result is They! Live, picked up by Modeselektor’s 50 Weapons label after the famed electronica duo received single “Creeper” on New Year’s Eve and promptly played it to their San Francisco audience to welcome in 2011. The album’s about more than just hauntingly danceable tunes though, and it’s easy to see why they got signed to 50 Weapons on New Year’s Day.
The fifth entry in the Future Disco series continues to showcase the rising popularity and impressive productions that have led to a disco resurgence. Mixed by Sean Brosnan, this Downtown Express edition showcases new talent that have helped disco continue to develop into a formidable force taking in heavy basslines, contemporary house and techno stylings. Crossovers created by established nu-disco producers such as David August, Benoit & Sergio and Tiger & Woods, a reworking of pop act Metronomy, house dons DJ T. and Tensnake as well as the French electro of Joakim, Brosnan’s mix is eclectic like the current disco trends and thoroughly danceable.
A glowing endorsement from Laurent Garnier is a plaudit to be proud of, and Jim Rivers has got just that for Airport Vultures. Rivers shot to fame with his debut sing “Restore” in 2006, but it has taken until now for him to bring his techno and house influences together for a full release. Signed to Carl Cox’s Intec imprint, for Airport Vultures Rivers has ensured his accessible sound is lively and inventive – he’s sure to win over many more fans who are more likely to be found on the dancefloors rather than the DJ booths.
Originally produced six years ago, “My Techno Heart Melts Your EMO Dribble” has been given a 2012 makeover in the form of a remix EP featuring re-imaginings by Bit-Phalanx artists including Jonny3snareS, Kramer vs. Kramer vs. Godzilla , Mr O and T-toe. The glitch-fest has also had a video made to celebrate the release.
Jasper, the synth master of Million Way, brings his many influences together on Mixed Messages for lively encounters sitting effortlessly between blissed out and dancefloor dirty. His classical training and exposure to performing with top electronica acts such as Clark, Luke Vibert and DMX Krew means he’s got a keen ear for both engaging structures and unique sounds all evident here. Using a Nord Modular to create bespoke instruments the five tracks here are inventive and showcase the different sides to Jasper’s style.
Sid & Sigala are a neo funk-pop double act who take inspiration from the likes of Prince, Cee-Lo Green and Janelle Monae. Their self-titled debut comes after a collection of original dance-orientated demos entitled Dance.Fantastic. which was an energetic ride featuring their crisp vocals over a variety of genres. For their full release they slow down for a more boyband-like style which retains keeps the strong vocals while adding a pop sensibility.
Rephlex is renowned for releasing electronic music that pushes boundaries and unearths new talents – acts as high profile as Aphex Twin and Luke Vibert have the label to thank for bringing their tunes to the masses. Now Dave Monolith seems set to emerge as the latest talent with the release of his debut LP. Welcome marks David Barnard’s first major foray into the scene, but he’s made such a surefooted start that he could be fast-tracked to become another Rephlex star.
Vexkiddy have changed. Their debut album, Knocking Out Numbers, was a fun affair with plenty of zest – their old skool hardcore and jungle veered into breakcore and was even brought to life on stage in the guise of Victorian time-travelling gentlemen using music to deliver manic stage shows. Nearly four years later Vexkiddy returns with Pedantic Romantic having undergone an adjustment in tone: writer and producer Mr Tim has scaled back on the madcap beats for a more considered approach taking cues from the modern horror disco scene, classic italo and U.S. 80s electro funk.
Back in November Mike Skinner picked out Damu as one if his “new faces of UK dance music”. Now he’s arrived with a debut album on Keysound Recordings that follows hot on the heels of zap! bang! favourite and labelmate Sully’s Carrier, and it’s another offering of dub electronica, though this time with less finesse.
Octave One’s retrospective Revisited: Here, There, and Beyond sees the founding band of label 430 West Records delve into their back catalogue to revisit tracks and rework them for the modern dancefloor. The Burden brothers have enlisted their favourite producers for help including Luke Slater, Cari Lekebusch and Alter Ego, but they also take up the reigns themselves.
Jilk follows up his debut digital release on Bit-Phalanx physical release Carry On! which is the first for the electronic music label. It’s fitting because Jilk was also its initial signee, and the artist otherwise known as Jonathan Worsley’s domestic folk-tronic ambience makes for a touching lullaby of warming tones made with assistance from guest artists. Neil Gay steps up to the microphone for four of the tracks and Bit-Phalanx ‘s international associate, Coppe’, fresh from a remix collaboration with the whole label, adds her dulcet vocals to another.
Dominique Dillon de Byington’s laptop has produced a cross between ghettotech, old school hip hop beats and a piano bound by the lyrically charming and explicit. The Berliner initially made a journey from Brazil to Cologne to give her delicate voice the chance to find a fitting accompaniment, though she has found the combination of styles work in her favour as she skips from a social songbird to, at times, an energetic dance vocalist with an enchanting effect.
Leeds-based dubstep producers Jack Sparrow and Ruckspin have teamed up for a collaborative album that combines their skills at engineering finely-crafted sounds. Sparrow’s album Circadian won plaudits on release last year while Dom Howard, aka Ruckspin, is a key member and producer of live dubstep supergroup Submotion Orchestra. Together they have created a tuned-up album that explores the many directions dubstep is heading as it mutates into new forms.
Sonic Youth’s Hits Are For Squares is a curio of a compilation, previously only available through Starbucks stores in the US, though now getting a wider release. Its not a ‘Best of’ but a collection of tracks, curated by like-minded friends and acquaintances of the band from the arts community (artists, actors, directors and musicians) – Sonic Youth chose the people, the people chose the Sonic Youth tracks.
Glasgow’s Rustie has been heaped in hype for his debut Glass Swords. Skream, Joker and Jackmaster have been gushing with praise of first release which was two years in the making. His style of dubstep bass with 1980s synth lines has emerged from his presence in the Numbers crew who have one eye on the past as they seek to create future beats. Rustie’s soaring sounds shine a light into the darkness of dubstep’s usual haunts suggesting a new direction for a genre that had seemed to stall.
When Buraka Som Sistema burst onto the electronic dance music scene in 2008 their electro stylings combined with the African kuduro genre of carnival-esque drumming and distinctive female vocals was a tidal wave of innovation. Their debut album Black Diamond led to appearances at festivals worldwide where their live show featuring two drummers and an energetic stage show continued to win them plaudits and they seemed to be a vital source of freshness. Three years on they deliver their second album Komba and, while many top electro DJs have been double-teaming and live acts have started to find more creative visuals for their shows while pushing their music forward, Buraka Som Sistema have disappointingly dished out more of the same rather than seek to maintain their innovative reputation by taking their fusion further.
Respected Warp stalwarts Plaid are busy people. The hardworking duo of Ed Handley and Andy Turer have worked with Bjork,scored two Michael Arias’ award-winning films and collaborated with filmmaker Bob Jaroc on audio/visual release Greedy Baby – expanding their influence as an electronica act that has evolved effectively since their split from Ken Downie as part of The Black Dog. Scintilli, Latin for “I am many sparks” is their first album produced solely by the pair since 2003’s Spokes, and one that has been lovingly crafted. They’ve calculated each beat took about a day to construct, and the results are a uniquely space-age sound that is distinctly Plaid like, but also futurist in its thinking.
Long overdue but well worth the wait, Dave Clarke’s entry into the fabric mix series is typically diverse of the man dubbed the “Baron of Techno” by John Peel. Taking his sonic adventures from the cavern of fabric’s room two and transposing them straight onto a CD means Clarke avoids any party tunes of the past and plays it straight with 17 tunes of hard edge techno and electro from new and unknown acts that have become the hallmark of his White Noise radio show. His futurist vision is in-line with his Sunday morning sets that reward the people who care about dance music with a glimpse of what’s to come.
It has been eight years since German techno don Alex Cortex delivered an artist album so Kihon comes at a time when the man who came to prominence in the mid-nineties will be looking to make his mark again. He’s appeared on renowned imprints such as Kanzleramt, Klang Elektronik and Baby Ford’s PAL SL, but this release comes from Pomelo whio have an impressive roster including Ben Klock, DJ Stingray, Marcel Dettmann and Silent Servant in their ranks. The album title Kihon relates to Japanese martial arts and translates as ‘basics’ or ‘fundamentals’, and Cortex’s basics of psychedelic immersion into sound rank him as another fine producer like his label mates.
When UK techno pioneers The Black Dog teamed up with the similarly-minded and mysterious Dutch outfit Psychick Warriors of Gaia to become the Dadavistic Orchestra, they created a double a-sided release of ambient electronic drone called Dokument .01. The follow-up, lovingly titled Dokument .02, they bring a similarly beat less release of six tunes coming in at 11 minutes long that seem aimed squarely at showcasing the continued influence of the IDM they helped create.
Prolific Japanese electronic music producer Coppe’ has 12 solo albums to her name and a legendary reputation. Famed in her home country and a serial collaborator with fellow electronica pioneers such as Plaid, Red Snapper and The Orb, she’s teamed up with one of the UK’s freshest electronic labels Bit-Phalanx for a charity remix project. Set to benefit the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami earlier this year, her track “Yogurt” has become the theme of a compilation which sees Bit-Phalanx acts and associates give their own unique interpretation of the tune, including Minotaur Shock (4AD), Kettel (Planet-Mu / Neo Ouija), Mrs Jynx (Planet-Mu), Terminal 11 (CockRockDisco / Phthalo), Libythth (Phthalo) and former Sneaker Pimps vocalist, Kelli Ali (One Little Indian).
This debut from Sully, aka Jack Stevens, smacks of perfectionism. Sitting somewhere between 2step, dubstep and breakbeat, Carrier is a hypnotic album with a deep and blissful sound as well as wicked hooks that grab the ear.