A Recent Round Up – May

'Mist Coming Down' - Rime Trails (Self-Released)
‘Mist Coming Down’ – Rime Trails

As May draws to a close it’s time to reflect on a busy month of new releases. Global lockdown, for the most part, continues to be upheld. Here’s a short edit of some of the best music released in May (disclaimer – there could have been another ten posts!)

‘Mist Coming Down’ – Rime Trails (Self-Released)

Little can be found online about Rime Trails, an elusive ambient producer from Denmark. Over the past few years, a handful of releases across Shimmering Mood Records and Afterlife Ltd (plus some self-released works) have led to clusters of fans across the globe. ‘Mist Coming Down’ is Rime Trail’s latest offering – a delicate and considered 5-track ambient E.P. which traverses through sections of blissful piano tones and powerful, atmospheric synthscapes.

‘Of memories and hopes’ – Fallen (Lontano Series)

'of memories and hopes' - Fallen (Lontano Series)

A Lontano Series release was the first ever feature on Kaninhal and as label head Andrea Procu continues to deliver treats for the ears, a recent offering from Fallen (AKA Lorenzo Bracaloni) once again stands out. ‘Of memories of hopes’ is an eight track album, soundtracking the story of a man who sets about attempting to understand his life and confirm whether the life he has fought for is really what he wants. He decides to take an eight day break, to reconnect with himself and what makes him human. Powerful stuff, especially when considering current circumstances and a story i’m sure many of us can draw parallels with. 

Bracaloni impresses with his ability to convey emotions throughout each of the compositions. For example, ‘The Man I Am’ projects feelings of melancholy and reflection, whereas ‘Room with a View’ feels hopeful and uplifting. A real class act of a release.

‘Abstraction’ – Ralph Kinsella (Self-Released)

'Abstraction' - Ralph Kinsella (Self-Released)

Debut release from Scotland based Ralph Kinsella displays a production maturity of an artist with years of experience under their belt and long discography to boot. Currently living in a remote location, Kinsella cites detachment as the thread linking the ‘Abstraction’ together. For me , the release is tactile and soothing – feather-like guitar chords are the highlight throughout, contrasted against a backdrop of manipulated (somewhat industrial) synths and otherworldly sounds. Available as a free download and one to watch for sure.

‘Rituals’ – Arnaud Le Texier (Affin)

'Rituals' - Arnaud Le Texier (Affin)

I first saw Le Texier play in Newcastle, a little over ten years ago. It’s fair to say he leaned towards a slightly lighter sound back then, but over the years he has developed into one of the most prolific producers in the modern techno circuit. His three-track E.P. ‘Rituals’ marks a return to Joachim Spieth’s Affin imprint, responsible for releasing some of the best techno of recent years (stand out releases from Ukranian Svarog are jewels in my vinyl collection). In ‘Rituals’, non-compromising peak time techno is the order of the day – the tracks almost growl. Punchy, hard, fast. Brilliant.

Le Texier co-runs the Children of Tomorrow label, which seems to mirror the artists impressive production rate. Their podcast series is now over 50 editions old and the perfect opportunity to hear Le Texier at full throttle. I also often revisit his set recorded for the Erratic podcast in 2016, which you can find here.

‘The Abuse of Hypnosis in Dance Environments’ – Notzing (Edit Select)

‘The Abuse of Hypnosis in Dance Environments’ - Notzing (Edit Select)

Another label synonymous with shaping the contemporary techno sound is Edit Select, a project founded in 2007 by electronic artist Tony Scott, who also djs and produces under the same moniker. Fast approaching 100 releases, the ES discography presents itself as a lip-smacking smorgasbord of contemporary techno, featuring industry figureheads (including Mike Parker, Mark Broom and Antonio Ruscito) plus pushing the earlier careers of some of today’s most prominent DJs and producers (SNTS and Alfredo Mazzili for example).

Notzing is a sound artist from Madrid and returns to the label for his second release in quick succession. ‘The Abuse of Hypnosis in Dance Environments’ is a hard-hitting dance-floor-ready five tracker, with remixes / interpretations from Mod21 and the inimitable Oscar Mulero.

‘Black Plastic’ – Volunteer Coroner (Self-Released)

‘Black Plastic’ - Volunteer Coroner (Self-Released)

Volunteer Coroner (aka Preston Weippart) continues his search for the strange with his latest release ‘Black Plastic’, a four track E.P. featuring a collection of boundary pushing noises and spoken word. Something of a master in creating music that sets the listener on edge, this is sound experimentation at its finest.

Reflections From The Infinite’ – bryson (The Gods Planet)

Reflections from the Infinite - bryson (The God's Planet)

Italian techno label The Gods Planet is a collaborative project between arguably two of the leading lights in contemporary techno; Claudio PRC and Ness. TGP represents the pair’s joint venture across production and DJing, as well as an output for releasing music and over the last ten years, has released offerings from some of the most notable names in the contemporary techno scene (Reggy van Oers, Blazej Malinowski and Dorian Gray – to name but a few).

New to the fold is bryson, releasing his first album – a masterclass in minimalist, dubby sounds. ‘Reflections from the Infinite’ chugs along with all of the tribal infused hypnotic techno that the label is synonymous with.

‘Worlds Apart’ kicks off the release with the pitter patter of trance-inducing loops, padded kicks and toms and warpy synths. ‘Shadow Self’ sounds almost as if it was created under water – warm percussive elements are interwoven throughout and again, hypnotising drums take centre stage.

The release shifts in sound slightly with ‘White Magic Woman’; the tempo drops down, toms and kicks seem to emit a dawn like glow, perfectly complemented by acid-laced synths – a perfect 6am track. ‘Tribalism’ keeps the tempo low and stays true to its name – the loops are addictive, seemingly casting a groove inducing spell over the listener.

Bryson finishes the release with two peak-time infused tracks. ‘Serpent’ slaps along with dub-laden drums and toms and the textural ‘Age of Acquarius’ almost growls with gritty kicks and rumbling drones. 

Although new to releasing his material, bryson shows extensive production skills and a strong understanding of the modern techno sound. Coupled with a final spray of mastering magic from label head Ness and the release has become a perfect addition to the TGP discography.

Available digitally through The God’s Planet Bandcamp page.

‘Jalada’ – Daniel[i] (Whispering Signals)

Jalada by Daniel[i]

Aachen based techno label Whispering Signals celebrate their inaugural release with Jalada, a four track E.P. exemplifying the crisp, layered sound synonymous with contemporary techno. Label head Daniel[i] spearheads the release with an original mix and the remix list packs a production punch, calling on Wa Wu We (aka Sebastian Mullaert), Feral and Illuvia.

For the last 18 months, Daniel[i] aka Daniel Danieli has been slowly building a strong discography, with releases on some of the genres most forward-thinking labels (Lowless, Norite and Ritualism). With Jalada, Danieli once again displays his ability as a producer. Each element within the track is seamlessly integrated, from the kicks (which seem to start life as padded kicks, but evolve to dance floor ready rumbles) to the layers of percussive elements (a fusion of different highs work really well together). A faint vocal echoes from the mid-point on, underpinning the production with the ‘whispering signals’ message. It strikes a nice balance – in my opinion equally at home during a home listening session, or in a club setting.

4×4 remixes come in the form of Wa Wu We’s ‘Ventilation’ and Feral’s ‘Night Version’. The former’s offering is grittier and kicks, pads and highs seem denser. The latter exemplifies Feral’s sound perfectly – slightly tribal, with slinky high hats and other worldly sound samples that are interspersed throughout. 

Perhaps better known for his work under the alias Purl, Ludvig Cimbrelius rounds things off with an ‘inversion’ under the moniker Illuvia. Atmospheric ambient brings the release to a somewhat blissful ending – gentle padded kicks provide the backdrop to the numerous samples and recordings layered throughout. Cimbrelius provides a naturalistic feel, with the sound of trickling water mimicked and the faint, ethereal sound of a distant whisper present, seemingly carried along by gentle soundscapes.

According to Danieli, each contributor to the release understands his vision and perception of sounds in general, but was given full autonomy with their productions to respect the ‘Whispering Signals’ message. The result is an extremely well crafted release and in a genre where fledgling labels have to notch a few releases to find their feet, Whispering Signals has clearly hit the ground running. 

Available on vinyl (pre-order) and digitally through Formaviva.

‘Ultraviolet Radiation’ – Feral (Hypnus Records)

Ultraviolet Radiation - Feral (Hypnus Records)

Since 2013, Hypnus records has released some of the most forward thinking techno within the genre, curated under the watchful eye of Michel, who also plays live (and formerly djed) under the moniker of Ntogn.  

During their first year, Hypnus debutised emerging (now established) artists Luigi Tozzi, Korridor and BLNDR, whilst rounding things off with a remix album featuring tracks from Mike Parker, Cio D’or, Cassegrain and Orphx. The years following has seen Hypnus reach nearly fifty releases, with a roster reading like the who’s who of contemporary techno, including; Feral, SKYM, Primal Code and Birds ov Paradise.

The latest release calls again on a label mainstay, italian producer and live act Feral. ‘Ultraviolet Radiation’ is a four track E.P which perfectly embodies the sound that Hypnus has become synonymous with. ‘Polar Sun’ is dark and driving, with acid-esque warps layered perfectly over throbbing, dubby drum loops. ‘Ice Tunnel’ is more stripped back with rasping highs and syncopated toms taking centre stage, under pinned once more by a dubby kick.

Title Track ‘Ultraviolet Radiation’ transitions to break beat and the warped cosmic soundscape certainly shows signs of a Donato Dozzy-esque influence. Ending things with ‘Solar’ Feral shifts again, removing rhythmic kicks and paving the way for dark, powerful drone. 

The vision for the label is clear and considered, with Michel citing intrinsic links to nature and its frequencies, stretching our conscious limits and connecting with each other through creativity and imagination. Vinyl releases occur with each new moon and whilst the visual identity has always been beautifully crafted, the recent use of artwork created by Michel’s partner seems to have taken it to another level – appearing to be another important step in the organic development of the imprint.

Michel also curates The Memoir, a podcast series in which friends and affiliates of the Hypnus label are invited to deliver an hour (sometimes more) of all their own material. A perfect opportunity for artists to lay their creative souls bare and for listeners to delve deeper into a producer’s personal output. Feral’s recent contribution can be found here.

Following the recent Spring equinox, we look forward to a new season of boundary pushing sounds from Hypnus.

‘Humility’ – Tekra (Northallsen Records)

'Humility' - Tekra (Northallsen Records)

Dark, pulsating techno from UK-based Tekra (aka Andrew Kater) forms the latest release from Columbia label Northallsen Records, the endeavour of rising native DJ Aleja Sanchez. ‘Humility’ is available both digitally and via limited edition cassette (I believe this to be the first release the label have offered in this format) and follows incredibly strong works from Kater on leading labels including Circular Limited and Warok Music.

‘Humility’ opens with ‘Connection’, an atmospheric drone scape, perfect for a peak time set starter and in this instance, a perfect introduction to the rest of the release. Title track ‘Humility’ moves the release into a 4×4 format, peppered with sonic plucks, before a low rumbling bass line kicks in.

‘Kerid’ continues to build tension (a tight syncopated hi-hat is one of my favourite music components) and then ‘Ybbob’ shifts the release in a slightly harder direction, with Kater adding layer upon layer of immersive sounds, including an ethereal sounding synth. ‘Geysir’ continues the heads-down, 4×4 theme, before he kicks things back up a notch with ‘Exception’. A Shifted-esque heavy drum roll almost purrs along and is complemented by punctuated cosmic bleeps and grainy (almost noise like) synths.

Penultimate track ‘Skogafoss’ is an extremely tight production. Crisp drums and highs form the backdrop, as an orchestra of different percussive elements fade in and fade out. To round things off, ‘Amiga’ sees Kater slows things down and shifts to a break-beat, with a dnb twist to the drums and hi elements, further exemplifying his range as a producer. 

Mega release and interesting to see an established label move into outputs on tape – hopefully a sign of things to come! 

Available via Northallsen Records Bandcamp page

‘Frammenti’ – Vinz Exe (Systolic)

'Frammenti' - Vinz Exe (Systolic)

Naples-based Vinz Exe (AKA Vincenzo Gargiulo) delivers ‘Frammenti’ a sublime five track E.P. on the Systolic imprint, strengthening the producer’s rich discography, including past releases on Planet Rhythm (Seven) and Circular Limited (Quantica)

‘Ametista’ kicks off the E.P. with hypnotic dubby kicks, complemented by sweeping synths and tight high-hats, further enhanced by acid-like wobbles, introduced at the tracks mid-point. ‘Diorite’ contrasts well against the heavier tracks within the E.P. with Gargiulo seemingly focusing more on the mid and hi sections of the production. Lighter ‘padded’ kicks form the backbone of the track and at three minutes in, a ringing syncopated high hat gives it some dancefloor oomph.

A slight digression is seen in ‘Opal’ and ‘Opal pt.2’, where 4×4 sections are replaced with ambient soundscapes. The former is atmospheric, with break beat kicks and delay-ridden snares being introduced at different interludes – in my opinion, perfect for starting a set. The latter is led by dreamy synths and transversely, would be perfect to close the night. 

To round things off, ‘Quartz’ sets a ‘head down’ tone, with rave like sirens ushered in gradually against a backdrop of driving tribal loops. A host of different elements are layered up, with extra energy again, coming in the form of syncopated highs at the tracks mid-point. A real peak time treat.

Gargiulo states he prefers playing live and this approach is present throughout all five tracks, with the producer carefully layering a multitude of electronic elements to create rich compositions. As a vinyl obsessive, I only wish the release was available in 12” format. 

‘Sarbacane d’Antan’ – Amandra (Ahrpe Records)

Ahrpe Records see in the new decade with a five-track E.P. ‘Sarbacane d’Antan’, from label co-founder Amandra, marking the first release from the French label since June of last year.

Certain elements of the title track immediately remind me of minimal wizard Onur Özer’s Gizeh (which is only a good thing), as layers and layers of minimalist elements group together to create quite a complex yet refined sound, culminating in the space-like synths that pepper the track from the mid-point on, morphing into a tasty acidic wobble.

The gentle ‘Latraviata (Naïve)’ is more stripped back, which allows ‘Formosa’ to kick the release back up a notch, with Amandra turning to some solid ‘head-down’ dubby techno. The track chugs along nicely, with the robust kicks and synths complimented by the introduction of some of the more minimalist sounds the producer had used previously.

‘Chocolatine’ gives pride and place to dream-like elongated cosmic sounds and in the release round-off ‘Latraviata (Fable)’, Amandra presents over two and a half minutes of a near-perfect drum loop, peppered with sporadic feather like synths.

Available now, digitally and on 12″ vinyl, through the Ahrpe Records Bandcamp page.

‘Luna de Sangre’ – Kyntral (Norite)

The progression of deep / hypnotic techno has mostly been attributed to DJs and producers across Europe; think Italy, for example, and Donato Dozzy and Dino Sabatini spring to mind, with more modern producers such as Luigi Tozzi, Claudio PRC and Ness continuing to fly the tri-colour. Look further north, to Sweden, home to two of the most influential labels in the scene (Northern Electronics and Hypnus) and you’ll find a constant stream of forward thinking techno being released.

As the interest in the genre continues to gain momentum however, pockets of DJs and producers have seen their local scenes rise to prominence on a global scale. The Buenos Aires based collective trio of Alderaan, Forest on Stasys and Kyntral, are such an example. Their Danza Nativa imprint, launched in 2019, has seen a release from each of the three, with a more recent offering from rising talent Vanoni, all of which provide a clear and consistent representation of the sound currently coming out of the Argentinian city.

Kyntral will soon release ‘Luna de Sangre’, his debut on the established Norite label. The four track E.P. opens with ‘Ceremonia’, a gentle combination of sounds (potentially field recordings – think rustling leaves) which progresses to a complex drone offering. The title track picks up the records’ pace with space-age tribal sounds underpinned by heavy syncopated kicks.

‘Sacrificio’ is the pick of the bunch for me, complete with warped synths, boomy kicks and haunting (choral) vocals. Staccato laced ‘Ciervo Sagrado’ rounds off the release nicely.

‘Il Labertino del Fauno’ – Doctrina Natura (Circular Limited)

Doctrina Natura (real name Alex Caballero) returns to Circular Limited little over a year after his debut, delivering ‘Il Labertino del Fauno’ a four track EP (incl remix from Unjin), which encapsulates the deep and hypnotic sound the Seville-based label has become renowned for.

Caballero has steadily been making a name for himself within deep techno circles and his maiden release of the new decade follows strong production output in 2019, including an E.P. on Ryogo Yamamori’s 951beat and ‘The Sacred Circle’, a six track offering released on Ghent based Aarden Records. This has been bolstered by contributions to some of the genres leading podcast series, including Sure Thing #79 (curated by Aaron J) and and Munitum #99. 

Presumably aided by their ‘Digital-only’ approach, Circular have a rigorous release schedule (17 in 2019). But whilst this frequency can often impact the quality of a label’s output, Circular have no such issue. Each release is beautifully curated, and their artist roster is bursting with production talent, ranging from more established names such as Svarog and Norbak, to emerging artists such as Vinz Exe and Citty.

Such is Circular’s contribution to the deep / hypnotic techno sub-genre, it would be effortless for them to expand into vinyl releases, a podcast series or even curated events / mini festivals. Their formula, however, is a winning one, and whilst there appears to be no immediate plans to deviate from their current output, they will continue to be one of the leading lights in contemporary techno music.