If you're longing for a portion of juicy 12”s (here's ten of them, plus four bonus beats), don't think twice: take in this compendium of new releases. We promise to bring you a new dose soon.
Last month we started this column, with the mission to put together some of the freshest 12” vinyl releases. There are so many new releases, that to review them all is virtually impossible a task to perform. However, we think it would be good to bring you a selection every once in a while, without overdoing it. Before this month of August ends, we therefore return with episode two, separating the wheat from the chaff and letting you know about the tiny gems that are out there. As said, the stream of releases is incessant and there's a lot of homework to be done. So without further ado, starting with Blanck Mass and finishing with Traxman, plus some bonus beats, in alphabetical order, here goes.
Blanck Mass: “White Math / Polymorph” [Software, 12”, SFT014]
Suddenly there's an urgent need for the return of Fuck Buttons, after the best parts of “Tarot Sport” were used during the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony. What are they doing? Well, Andrew Hung tweets he's watching football on TV (getting bored with the Spanish national team, he says) and looking for people to play online chess, and Benjamin John Power has been busy with Blanck Mass, his solo side-project. Initially beatless (his self-titled album on Rock Action last year), he is now making his debut on Software, Oneohtrix Point Never's label, with this 12” featuring two long, cosmic jams. It boasts disco arrangements evolving into a kind of liquid trance ( “White Math”), asymmetric beats, acid sparks ( “Polymorph”) and that glorious frustration you feel when you're waiting for the crescendo - the climax, total mayhem - and none of that happens, because its 20 minutes are like a plateau, high and flat, to close your eyes on the dance floor and lose yourself in the epic stagnation.
Bronze Age: “Antiquated Futurism” [Bed Of Nails, 12”, NAIL 002] + Three Legged Race: “Wrong Element” [Acoustic Divison, 12”, AD-003]
Until recently, it was customary that a techno producer with a preference for industrial would produce evil tracks smeared with a thick layer of dirt. But lately, and especially after Dominik Fernow (Prurient), Carlos Giffoni (No Fun) and others discovered the 4x4 and acid (the latest scream, quite literally, in savage techno), it's noise, industrial and similar styles making dance music, with Pete Swanson at the front. Bed Of Nails is the label Dominik Fernow set up to release techno, and after a first title by himself as Vatican Shadow, he's invited his mate Bronze Age (alias Kris Lapke, who also serves in Christian Cosmos, Furisubi and other atrocities) to 'do a Surgeon': “Surviving Cultural Impedance” is drenched in industrial acid and strikes like a whip. “Coupling Symbols” sounds like a screwed and chopped Blackest Ever Black release, and “Modal Ingenuity” has the sound of an old Hardfloor title (charming). In the same vein of coarse experimenters and analogue snipers going over to the kick drum side, we have to mention Three Legged Race, a project by Robert Beatty, alternating electro-acoustic passages with sulphuric haemorrhages and gastric beats in No Fun Acid fashion.
Disclosure: “The Face Remixes” [Greco-Roman, digital, GREC024RD]
Greco-Roman says the vinyl is about to be released, but those who can't wait to hear the remixes Dixon, Joe Goddard (the boss), Mak & Pasterman, and Medlar made of one of the most brilliant EPs of 2012 so far, can look for it in the digital stores. What they'll find is all killa no filla. It goes without saying that these reworks (even though Dixon added a very fat, Detroit kind of American deep-house sound to “Boiling”, with the quality label of the Innervisions crew) never reach the level of excellence of the original Lawrence brothers tracks, but that shouldn't surprise us, either. Goddard also gets his paws all over “Boiling”, maintaining the speed garage beat, but Americanising it a bit, taking it to Armand Van Helden territory rather than Tuff Ja. The good house vibes of the EP are completed with “Control” (Mak & Pasterman add some disco helium to make it float) and “What’s In Your Head”, remixed by Medlar as if it were a Basement Jaxx production in the post-garage era. Lovely.
DMX Krew: “Decaying World” [Wavey Tones, 12”, Tones002] + “Cerberus” [Power Vacuum, 12”, POWVAC002]
It's Defcon 1 with Wavey Tones, the new London label with only two titles so far (the first one by Emma, a new talent in garage infused dubstep, in the vein of Slackk and other giants), and this “Decaying World”, by the hyperactive Ed Upton. There's no hypertrophic bass line and riling breaks, however: the man with the long hair keeps doing his thing and pays no mind to what's fashionable these days. Rather the opposite: his sound is quite retro, with some virtuous pinches of acid, Rephlex-style ( “Mustard Parasol”), and some trademark iridescent boogie beats ( “Decaying World”). It's the kind of electro he always makes, with New Balance trainers on and memories of the time when breakdance was all about impossible moves ( “Flat Rate”), or straight up romantic and traveling electro, like closing track “Three Days Of Entropy”. If you want more of that, note that Ed (this time signing as EDMX) also released a 12” on Power Vacuum, featuring some industrial electro, manic acid, and primitive Frankfurt hardcore techno, proving to be quite the cyclothymic.
Jacques Greene: “Ready EP” [3024, 12”, 3024-019] + Koreless: “Lost In Tokyo” [Vase, 12”, VSE03]
Judging from the first tones of the darkish “Ready”, one would swear it's a new Burial production with guttural vocals and bass lines covered in mud. But then the tempo changes, things become housey, and soon it's clear that we're dealing with Canadian Jacques Greene, who temporarily comes out of his Vase comfort zone (the label he started this year) to visit his mate Martyn. For a 12”, “Ready EP” is a bit stingy, with one track on each side; but B-side “Prism” is worth it, with its minimal and piercing melody, its brief acid flashes and that feeling of precious house looking for tension and demons rather than being beatific. Jacques Greene is on fire anyway, not only because of this EP: we're talking about Vase, which signed the likeable and indie-friendly Koreless, who delivered a “Lost In Tokyo” full of evocative melodies and elusive beats, to which Greene adds a remix on which the beat comes in rather late, but on which all the pleasures of new generation deep-house are united. Tasty, yes sir.
Joy Orbison, Boddika & Pearson Sound: “Faint / Nil (Reece) / Moist” [SunkLo, 12”, SUNKLOFREE]
It was made official a while ago: Instra:mental is no longer. Jon Convex is going out on his own, doing a kind of futurist electro-pop (look for the album “Idoru”), and Boddika is buddy-buddy with Joy Orbison, with whom he's already released four singles (including this one) on such serious labels as Swamp81 ( “Swims”, the start of it all) and the label the two of them set up, SunkLo. On their own platform, they have all the freedom in the world to reconfigure modern house as they please and create pieces on which the influences are clear, but which sound completely original and different from anything else out there. “Nil (Reece)” is a concoction of tremendous echoes, cut-off beats and a bass line that - instead of sounding like it's in the basement - is all over the place, making it an asphyxiating piece. “Moist” is even more radical, hiding a danceable, pseudo-industrial unfolding with a lot of whirring, fluttering, respirations and uneasy undulations, almost like an extension of the end part of “Faint” (Pearson Sound gets in there, too), a kind of non-rhythmic and asthmatic break-house. These two are entering the danger zone and we have to encourage them to go further.
Rrose: “Preretinal” [Eaux, 12”, EAUX291] + Rrose x Bob Ostertag: “The Surgeon General” [Eaux, 12”, EAUX191]
The string of great singles in recent times made him one of our favourite techno producers of this moment: three pieces on Sandwell District between 2011 and early this year (apparently, “Artificial Light (1969-1909)” is the last ever title on the label), and an album, “Motormouth Variations” (2011), on which our man mixes orgies of dark beats with samples from American experimental musician Bob Ostertag. This ghostly alliance with Ostertag is reinforced by Rrose for the premiere of his own label, Eaux. “The Surgeon General”, originally from 1977, sounds similar to Morton Subotnik and other modular synthesists, like the sonic description of a lunar landscape, a sharp substratum which Rrose then uses to inflate the kick drum and manufacture a kind of hard techno. It’s violent like British Murder Boys, on “No Child Left Behind” (the 'child' part, if it's not a tribute to Surgeon, it certainly sounds like one), and gives a dark ambient reverse on “Her Insides Laid Bare”. On the second title on Eaux, there are no reverses of any kind and the two tracks go straight for the jugular: “23 Lashes” and “Prism Guard” sound like the most mental Jeff Mills tracks (there is blood, though no festering wounds, just deep bruises), with which our man proves he also knows how to maintain his cool and not behave like a hooligan.
Surgeon / Svreca + Skirt: “As You Breathe Here Now / Hymen” [Semántica, 12”, SEMANTICA 50] + Developer: “Remixed” [Semántica, 12”, SEMANTICA 39X] + Inigo Kennedy: “Vignettes (Two)” [Semántica, 12”, SEMANTICA 36]
If Eaux is a life buoy for techno in 2012, especially after the decline of Sandwell District, Madrid label Semántica is still one of the best kept secrets in the underground, a treasure releasing highly collectible material with martial regularity, and true to the vinyl format (they make them black, transparent, well-pressed, meant for DJs, without marketing tricks or digital cheats). The most recent titles put out by Enrique Mena, alias Svreca, maintain the label’s ultra-high standards, and even got the godfather of the invention, Surgeon himself, to deliver a track. The Birmingham doctor gave the label “As You Breathe Here Now” to celebrate number 50 on 12”. It’s completed by another mental techno piece by Svreca + Skirt (Bethany Busto, a regular on 'anonymous' label Horizontal Ground), with clenched teeth and tense frequencies, which is exactly what the true techno aficionado needs. The other new material is equally good: veteran Inigo Kennedy delivers three slices of atonal and old school hard techno, in the vein of Axis, on his second release on the label (after last year's “Vignettes (One)”), while Californian Developer, true to his almost shamanic sound, got NX1, Donor, Shapednoise, and Markus Suckut to remix his “Trade Beliefs”, who create an uproar between suspense ( “Brujas”, according to Donor) and slaughter ( “Trade Beliefs”, “The Uncertain”). In Semántica we trust.
Team Doyobi: “Digital Music Vol. 1” [Skam, 12”, SKA032]
With the artists on Skam you never know if they're gone, on hiatus, or what; especially with those who, like Team Doyobi, have gone six years without releasing anything significant (actually that's three years, because in 2009 they did a furtive single, “Orch.V”, which only their most loyal fans know about). Their last album dates back to 2006 and their most recent truly significant title, “Choose Your Own Adventure”, is from 2004. That's long enough for everyone to forget about Chris Gladwin and Alex Peverett, two mischievous kids from Manchester, purveyors of cubist and sometimes even Dadaist funk, nonsensical at times, but almost always with complicated yet playful rhythms. “Digital Music Vol. 1” sounds like a joke in one respect (they've always been a 'digital' duo, in the sense that their weapon of choice is an old Atari computer); but it's actually a reconversion in the textures, effectively more digital (newer) in these eight tracks, on which there is undeniably more coherence, cadence and regularity. They continue on their path of fragmented IDM, like the extension of Super_Collider's breaks and glitches in an ultra geeky universe, but more orderly when it comes to arranging the electro-acoustic landscapes, the breakbeats, and the mad-house melodies. See you in 2015, boys.
Traxman: “Heat” [Sewage Tapes, digital, free EP]
The temptation of saying that Traxman makes ‘intelligent footwork’ is so strong that the term itself becomes nauseating. But the truth is that the Chicago producer is offering the most visionary and elaborate beats in juke these days, clearly setting himself apart from the most used techniques of his fellow windy city citizens. Non-conformist, thanks to a career that has been going since at least 1996, as part of the Dance Mania roster, Traxman knows well enough that the rhythmic palette of juke serves him for many things - as the producers who helped spread the sound from the dubstep and IDM fronts (Addison Groove, Machinedrum, Om Unit), made clear. If you're hungry for more after the LP on Planet Mu ( “Da Mind Of Traxman”) and the 20-track compilation on Lit City Trax, here's five more bangers by the Trax God, playing with song patterns from soul ( “Da World Around Us”), calypso and rave ( “Mirrors - Footwerk”), manic melodic spirals ( “Da Family”), hair-rock ( “Iron Man”) and be-bop ( “Alotta Funny Stuff Going Down”). If you don't bow down before him, you're not worthy of this music.
To finish, here's a couple of bonus beats: again, there's too much material that deserves a mention and a round of applause.
1. FaltyDL: “Hardcourage” [Ninja Tune, 12”, ZEN12328]
It's FaltyDL's second single in 2012 - his first on Ninja Tune (after last year's “Atlantis”) - and there are two interesting aspects. First, the sleeve design, reminiscent of the London label's early releases, when the artists were called DJ Food, Funki Porcini, and so on. Second, the old school house grooves of these two tracks, in the vein of the early titles on London Records. Deliberately retro, especially in the rave jabs of “Our House Stabs”, and that's a good thing.
2. Pachanga Boys: “Christine” [Hippie Dance, 12”, HIPPIE DANCE 03]
Rebolledo and Superpitcher repeat the hit formula of “Time” (stable progression, with sheets of synthesisers underneath, until the riotous crescendo) and “Thundercat” (especially in the tribal vocals); “Legs” is the perfect combination of both angles, though without such devastating effects. “The Untold Legend of Mysterious Ondo” is nice, too ( “respira hondo, hondo, cachondo”, “take a deep, deep breath, funny guy” in Spanish; great lyrics), but the hit here is “Poem For The Youth”, with its eleven-minute search for ecstasy. They don't find it, but they come close.
3. Mark E feat. Robert Owens: “We Could Love” [Needwant Recordings, 12”, NEEDW022]
Mark E has been doing beautiful things this year, after his album on Ghostly in 2011, but his real club hit, for now, is this deep-house bomb featuring vocals by the legendary Robert Owens - adding buckets of Chicago sensuality for the fans of male singers. It's the kind of track that needs to be close to “Do It” by Teengirl Fantasy and Romanthony, because male house vocalists are back in fashion. However, just in case, there's an instrumental version as well.
4. Untold: “Change In A Dynamic Environment” [Hemlock, 12”, HEK16III]
Untold closes his 'techno' trilogy with two more cuts, thus bringing his 'Scubisation' process to completion: tense bass lines over cold and precise beats, in what can be seen as the educated and purified vision of dark club music by the old heralds of dubstep who got tired of house. “Kane” strikes like a hammer and dives into an open grave at the end, whilst “Overdrive” seems to follow the movement in a steam locomotive. Two very useful weapons for DJs.