Strictly vinyl this time around – if it’s not weighing down our shelves (in a slightly consterning fashion, truth be told) we don't want to know.
And as physical artefacts go, it's quite hard to top Aleja Sanchez's “Ether” 12”, courtesy of our friends in Tübingen, at Nachtstrom Schallplatten (currently hangin’ with Firestation Records and Nuclear Blast amongst our fave German labels). On gorgeous, mottled marbled vinyl that nicely frames a pseudo-classical portrait, this really looks the part - a real work of art - before you even get it anywhere near the turntable.
There’s a slight false start when proceedings begin with Headless Horseman’s merely v. good remix, but once the original appears everything’s gravy, as the queen of Colombian techno now authors a cool 8:40 (they’d have loved this one at the Ace Café) of pure precision engineering that wouldn't be out of place flanking Ryuji Takeuchi ‘s “Vital” in your DJ set. Her recent “Consequences” EP on Kindcrime is arguably even better, but we're waiting in hope for a vinyl release on that.
A more conventional patented dancefloor-botherer comes courtesy of Stockholm monster Mikael Jonasson, with his new transglobal EP on invariably spot-on Sydney imprint Darknet. Lead-off cut “Dissonance” is peak-time ‘new wave of techno’ done well, menacing synths adding a layer of rage in the darkness (with Austrian wizard at the controls, Niereich, then chipping in a bracing ‘Repaint’ for good meassure). The B-side, for its sins, combines “Dissidents” (high velocity acid burn with brief trance drop outs, totally ace, and a sweet jinking sidestep at 5’01 that hits like an instant sherbet rush) with the more playful “Vibrant”. Play alongside DJ Hi-Shock.
We've kept a weather eye out for Ukrainian maestro Yan Cook ever since he guested on ON records’ 6th anniversary comp, and “Arrival”, a sort of blurrily translucent grey vinyl 12” on his own Cooked label, is his closest brush with greatness yet, a swiftly-pulsing willo the wisp of elastic, uptempo tech-yes that would make an audition shoe-in for either of Sven Wittekind’s current labels. Meanwhile another ON alumnus, the mighty Amsterdam producer Jeff Rushin, delivers a 12” artist EP on Arts Collective centred around the dancefloor ready, gently mesmeric, cut-glass sequencer mesh of “Wondering”.
In our last year-end top 10, we raved about Sweden-based producer Sev Dah and the two outstanding solo records with which he kicked off his own Proletarijat imprint last year. “Proletarijat 003”, you’ll be thoroughly unshocked to learn, is the third release on the label, and again it chooses to book-end two techno stompers with a more traditional/experimental piece, at the same time as telling us a piece of Yugoslav history (this time the pic sleeve features Pioneer boys and girls pledging to love their homeland, the self-managed socialist federal republic of Yugoslavia, and to “spread brotherhood and unity and the principles for which comrade Tito fought” - yaay).
Logically enough, "003" kicks off with “Pledge”, a tight, percussive 9-minute cling-to-the dancefloor groove; that then subsides in favour of pivot track “The Universal Mother”, which tangles mournful cello, piano and violin with vicious whipcracks of foundry-born percussion and sounds not unlike Hood or the Declining Winter to these ears (mind you, everything sounds a bit like Hood to us: Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting”, anyone?)
The highlight of the 12", however, may be “Sloga” (Serbo-Croatian for ‘unity’, as you'll know) which musically charts a course midway between the sacred isles of Rushin and Moroder, making it almost as essential as Sev’s finest tune to date, the frenziedly acidic “Marija Bursać” which so deftly adorned 001. It’s guaranteed to throng any clubland dive worth its salt, and we don’t doubt for one minute that the Pioneers would thoroughly approve.