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This month's essential tunes
Making his name with bass-injected techno on Hotflush and Hemlock, Guy Andrews has turned the drama dial to 11 with this fresh EP for 2020 Vision offshoot Fina. The latter label is better known for tasteful deep house, but the four tunes here are far from polite. In fact, they're precision-tooled to take apart terraces, the sort of trax that should by rights be detonating Ibiza's biggest clubs now. Glinting steel percussion — all gleaming, factory assembled parts and drop hammer beats — forms the base for the airy, swirling synths of 'Divide', a Balearic, progressive monster with hypermodern production, and the lead track here, which introduces us to Andrews' new steez.
A collision of euphoric melody with the stripped bare beats of industrial techno, this is trance but not as we know it. 'Fixture' is a pummelling onyx rhythm track you can imagine Blawan smashing out in some den of iniquity come 2pm (next day), only for it to flood with mind embalming synths that echo Paul van Dyk or BT in their late '90s pomp — it's like sunlight warming serotonin depleted skin. That's before it descends back into funked-out techno thump again. A curious mixture, but one that works incredibly well, tunes like the four here (the other two are excellent also), and the tracks currently being produced and played by the likes of Scuba, point to a possible new direction for big room music, one adding previously underground components to tried-and-tested formulas. Bottom line though, Guy's fresh take on tranced-up techno is the biggest-sounding music out there this month.
'Only Time Will Tell/Sakura Park'
Vinyl-only on this one so the hawk-eyed should get scouring the stores now. Mehdi Djebali offers two warm, spare house cuts with more than a touch of Chicago bump. 'Only Time' coasts on a cool analogue wiggle, with simple beats, snares and smears of heady synth: perfect for playing outdoors (should the sun shine). A wistful pad offers reflection, before the deeper, spacier 'Sakura Park' on the flip displays a variation on a theme. For the Secretsundaze set.
'Wishes & Stars'
Known for classics like 'Night Moves', Envoy was once one of the core players on the Soma roster. Immaculate techno is his game and it's a real pleasure to have him back, as 'Wishes & Stars' is a brilliantly melodic, oscillating sidewinder of a cut, with more than a touch of lush prog about it (a very good thing). 'Aces High' is a heads-down acidic bubbler, while 'Transition 9' is a chunky Carl Craig-esque Detroit feast. Big up
Launching his new label, Midland follows up the runaway success of 'Trace' for Aus with a brace of broken house weapons. 'Realtime' swims in reverb and beguiling ambient sounds, its punchy vocal samples held in check by roughed-up production and downbeat synths. 'Archive 01', meanwhile, ramps up the bass and adds rolling percussion to announce its peak-time presence.
Rockwell shakes up drum & bass again with yet more fresh ideas. Here 'Detroit' introduces ghetto bass vocals and claps to his vicious hammering bass and dramatic stabs, dropping into 4/4 at the break for a colossal drop. Flip over and 'Back Again' is even more adventurous, US club vocals forming the main hook of a stuttering footwork/d&b hybrid.
Getting its first play on Boiler Room by label co-boss Rob Amboule last month, 'Keep Waiting' is a bubbling house groover with tough tech-y textures, intricate 909s and a melodic top-line. 'Finest Delusion' is dark techno magic borrowing from Robert Hood, '15 Floors' is stripped back New Jersey house and 'Evoke' is on an airy Chicago tip with a groggy analogue bottom line. A wildly promising producer already making waves in Bristol, newly ingratiated into the Nixwax family.
'Night Shades EP'
Fly By Night Music
Following an excellent EP from Deep Space Orchestra, London's pint-sized vinyl set-up returns with a selection of house goodness touching on Chicago, Detroit and Italo influences. 'Feel Part 1' is a funky disco workout with a flabby belly, while 'Feel Part 2' is a chunky deep house number with echoes of Don Carlos' epic 'Voyage'. On the flip, Rick Wade infuses breezy keys into 'Part 1', before Mayo gives us a dose of viscous retro-grade cosmic funk on '808 Shades'. Ruddy gorgeous, it is.