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Review: Sparky Portland EP

Label: Numbers

The reissue of Glaswegian Dave Clark's little-known "Portland" single on Numbers comes with an intriguing and drawn-out back story. Originally issued by the short-lived Stuffrecords label—an early incarnation of Numbers—under Clark's Sparky moniker back in 2002, it was later discovered by the Numbers team that Ricardo Villalobos was a huge fan of the record, setting in motion a plan to have the track reissued with a remix from the minimal legend. The resulting release pairs the electro, Drexciya-tinged title track with an additional pair of previously unreleased tracks from the 1998 sessions that birthed "Portland" and a mammoth, 30-minute-long, two-part remix from Villalobos. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/19/2013

Review: NHK'Koyxen Dance Classics Vol. III

Label: PAN

Osaka-born artist Kouhei Matsunaga has been releasing experimental electronic music for nearly two decades under various aliases, many of them using some variant of the initials for Japan's public broadcasting organization, NHK. As NHK'Koyxen, he seeks to deconstruct techno with his own perverse logic. Following a similar mission statement as its previous volumes, Dance Classics Vol. III rarely sits still, instead shifting through as many permutations of techno as Matsunaga sees fit. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/18/2013

Review: Robert Hood Eleven EP

Label: M-Plant

Techno veteran Robert Hood has had something of a banner year, releasing two singles from his Motor: Nighttime World 3 album, dropping several ace remixes, and, most notably, issuing the acclaimed Paradise LP and follow-up Phobia EP under his more soulful, house-oriented Floorplan moniker. Even after all of this activity, Hood has managed to slip in one final 2013 release via his own M-Plant imprint. The Eleven EP is almost diametrically opposed to his two most recent, aforementioned full-lengths; where Paradise was geared towards the dancefloor and indebted to the sonic tics of classic house and techno and Motor: Nighttime World 3 was thick with rich, neo-noir atmosphere, Hood's new EP serves up two tracks committed to austere, bare-bones functionality. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/18/2013

Review: Various Artists Music for Shut-Ins

Label: L.I.E.S.

Ron Morelli's Long Island Electrical Systems label has become a critical darling over the past couple of years. Essentially the focal point of a certain brand of largely hardware-driven underground house and techno coming out of New York City (although the label includes artists from Paris and Berlin, among other locales, on its roster as well), the imprint's image has been bolstered by Morelli's singular, uncompromising vision—which includes a marked reticence to embrace digital formats and a passion for murky, lo-fi sonics. The label boss is also something of an ideological mouthpiece for the label, which he often defines in opposition to prevailing dance-music trends; it's all there in the title of this latest release, Music for Shut-Ins, which Morelli elaborates is "club music for people who hate going to the club." Continuing what will hopefully be an annual trend of releasing a double-disc compilation of the year's highlights along with previously unreleased material from the label's artists, Music for Shut-Ins follows last year's acclaimed American Noise compilation, and while that release felt like something of a coming of age and a reflection of the label's growing legitimacy, this latest collection digs deeper, highlighting the diversity and experimental tendencies of the L.I.E.S. roster. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/17/2013

Review: Burial Rival Dealer EP

Label: Hyperdub

There is one pressing thought that every fan of Burial will have during their first listen of Rival Dealer: this is not the same producer who released the canonical Untrue LP almost seven years ago. Over the course of that time, the staunchly (almost absurdly) elusive artist has been slowly chipping away at his seemingly perfect style of downcast dubstep, attempting to excavate the essence of that music and apply it to another direction. The results have been scattered, with tunes like "Ashtray Wasp" from 2012's Kindred EP and the b-side of "Truant" b/w "Rough Sleeper" making for the best examples of Burial's attempt at producing episodic, longform tracks, and others proving to be too convoluted to resonate like his shorter pieces. With the Rival Dealer EP, his only release of 2013, Burial seems to have finally reached the core of what made Untrue so phenomenal, and has built around it three new tracks which are largely unlike anything he's made before, even though they thrive on the same lifeblood as his most beloved music. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/16/2013

Review: Lauer Laui XIV

Laui XIV, Phillip Lauer's latest 12", is made of familiar parts. Lauer isn't exactly a conservative producer, but he is the sort of guy who's often referred to as "reliable" or "consistent." In short, he's someone who knows his way around the machines but doesn't always stand out—his Arto Mwambe project with Christian Beißwenger is still probably his high-water mark in that regard. True to form, the tracks here are well-crafted, but might be too familiar to escape sets' filler sections. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/13/2013

Review: Cassegrain & Tin Man High and Low

Label: Killekill

It's been a year since Carnal, their first collaboration, but Cassegrain & Tin Man are back for another round. The trio (Cassegrain is a duo) finds common ground in acid, and seems to find a particular pleasure in molding the telltale 303 sound into rarely heard shapes. Considering Tin Man's Neo Neo Acid LP from last year, which replaced the artist's melancholy vocals (which permeate much of the rest of his catalog) with instrumental dancefloor anthems, High and Low feels like a natural step forward. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/12/2013

Review: Nautiluss Solstice EP

Other than a track on 3024's Dovercourt compilation of Canadian producers, Solstice represents Graham Bertie's first entry as Nautiluss this year. Its four tracks fall into the same contoured, sort of genre-less tech-house as his contribution to that EP. Bertie uses a lot of familiar sounds, but does not stick to a particular arrangement pattern. This means that his tracks can vary in quality, and that variance is at the heart of this record. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/11/2013

Review: Joe "Punters Step Out" b/w "Club Scared"

Label: Hemlock

Following the accolades that accompanied the release of his "Slope" b/w "Maximum Busy Muscle" 12" in October, UK tunesmith Joe has returned at an atypically brisk pace, this time with a single for Untold's Hemlock label. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/10/2013

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