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Introducing PALMS TRAX

Berlin-based newcomer Palms Trax offered up his 'Equation' EP on the equally fresh-faced Lobster Theremin late last year. Coming out of nowhere, this three track release did enough to put both names on the map and warrant a repress (coming very soon).

The first track, 'Late Jam', is a tidy, no-nonsense groover that punches its way through five-minutes of heavy-hitting kicks and warbled, nonsense vocals with aplomb. A stinging, electrified synth stab sits laboriously on top for good measure.

Second track is the title number, 'Equation'. Old school piano lines are brought into the mix, whilst the same razor-sharp synth hits found in the opener are deployed expertly once again. Shuffling along throughout is a heady mix of percussion; melancholic without being dreary, simplistically hard-hitting without being linear. Palms Trax has clearly been honing his craft steadily prior to this release, as the production value is very, so much so that it belies the artist's seem inexperience.

On the flip is a Tin Man remix of 'Houses in Motion'. This track replaces the Willie Burns remix that featured on the original pressing and it offers something slightly different to the two previous cuts. Somewhat celestial, those same synths take on a gentler sound, floating high above percussion that glitters its way through eight minutes of acid-spiked bliss. If this release is anything to go by, there's definitely more to come from both Palms Trax and Lobster Theremin in the future - we'll be keeping an eye out for sure.

Late Jam / Equation - Palms Trax [Lobster Theremin]

In the meantime, go grab the repress of 'Equation' at Redeye.



The Kelly Twins really are great DJs and selectors, reaching for a wide range of choice acid and jaunty electro cuts. It's no surprise then that their label Happy Skull has been very well received with initial releases from Systems of Desire (Kowton and Hyetal) and Adjowa (with a gritty Funkineven remix).

Rhythmic Theory haven't strayed far Bristolian labels Brstl and Idle Hands, and fit nicely with Happy Skull's machine-funk aesthetic. A-side 'Decadence of Delay' features distorted drum machines and whispering synths, whilst B-side 'Endocrine Creatures' hits harder with a resolute acid line.

Decadence of Delay – Rhythmic Theory [Happy Skull]

All three releases are available now from Juno.


Featuring SUNKLO

The Sunklo series, a project designed to showcase exclusively the production talents of Boddika and Joy Orbison, had a quiet 2013. The imprint sprung to life in 2012 with a series of powerful dancefloor weapons, released strictly on vinyl and selling out everywhere double-quick time. Tracks such as 'Mercy' and 'Dun Dun' were played ad infinitum in clubs around the globw, with the former being given a slick remix treatment by Boddika himself, and re-released on Bleek's own Nonplus.

The absence of a single release last year seems strange, but not completely surprising when considering that the pair played an incredibly packed DJ schedule, with Boddika also reinvigorating the Nonplus concept with the impressive compilation album, 'Think and Change'.

The return to Sunklo offers us two tracks, the first entitled 'More Maim'. The opener seems to lack the arresting originality that was found in tracks on the previous releases. However, it seems that the two tracks on Sunklofaw are slightly subtler affairs than their predecessors. Nevertheless, they're as booming as you'd expect, with the kick drum of 'More Maim' reverberating ceaselessly throughout proceedings. The production is still powerful and suited to those dark warehouse spaces, it's more that the means through which this sound is crafted is more restrained. Save for a strange, out of sync melody that rears its head around halfway through the track, gone are the catchy riffs to be found in previous Sunklo tracks - all that operates here is loud, stomping music that makes up in oomph for what it lacks elsewhere.

photo credit: Paul Clement

The flipside, 'In Here' delivers more of the same. Brooding, eyes-down vibes come to the fore with a staccato, eerie vocal snippet mingling with a metallic drum palette that focuses on a padded, quivering kick. I feel like the release is operating as a blueprint for the direction Boddika and Joy O are looking to push things in, a gentle relinquishment of ties to the current Swamp81 sound. The omission of 'Tricky's Team' from Sunklofaw is notable, but perhaps fitting with this excursion away from a four-to-the-floor template.

Either way, I reckon there's plenty more like 'More Maim' to come in the upcoming year, both from Sunklo and from Nonplus. Boddika announced recently the roster he was hoping to assemble for the latest Nonplus project, including the likes of Daniel Avery and drum and bass veterans Source Direct.

Sunklofaw might lack the recognisability of previous iterations, but a move towards more DJ tool material would be a welcome and interesting development for the label.

More Maim / In Here - Boddika & Joy Orbison [Sunklofaw]

[SUNKLOFAW] is available soon via Juno.



Men of the moment from Sweden Mr. Tophat and Art Alfie take a break from their own Karlovak label, instead coming through on the elusive nofitstate, keeping things short but sweet with two hits of luscious deepness, backed with a Locked Groove remix.

First is the woozy, driven, hypnotism of 'Vretis'. Airy vocals sparsely fling themselves all over, with the kick elevating the track to bona-fide stomper status. The onus is on a rhythmic, looping groove. It's pulsating, simple in execution, but really rather good.

The Locked Groove remix takes the original and exaggerates the hazy stylings of those vocals, making them the centrepiece around flittering, ethereal synths, which tinkle their way above squelching drums - one for the early morning sessions. Last is another Tophat and Alfie original, 'Takelant'. Here the vibe's a little more erratic. Nondescript whirrs and squeals work their way around stomping percussion, the white noise of random tape recordings butting in of their own accord. This gradually makes way for a clearer view, as the track gains a steadier sense of rhythm, with the end result a kind of funky hybrid you're not likely to have heard too much of before.

Vretis - Mr. Tophat & Art Alfie [nofitstate]

[NFS003] is out on 4 March via Juno.



Leon Vynehall nods to his past and looks to the future with his debut LP on 3024, 'Music For The Uninvited'. Vynehall has ridden a wave of vinyl resurgence and musical nostalgia, so it's only fitting that, having recorded these tracks to cassette, he notes his journey to school in his mum’s car as the main inspiration for the record.

"I grew up with tapes. I was introduced to recorded music through that medium, listening to mixed hip hop, funk and electro tapes, Janet Jackson albums, Style Council and Stiff Little Fingers. It was quite varied."

Variation is what Leon specialises in, whether he's working solo or on darker collaborations with A1 Baseline as Laszlo Dancehall. These previous efforts have for the most part been club-orientated, but this extended piece of work sees Leon striving to move in another direction. The opening track, 'Inside the Deku Tree' acts as a prologue to the collection and features a bassless, string ensemble. The strings and background static from the cassette intertwine throughout the record and act as intervals for the different acts.

'Goodthing', a more typical Vynehall track, follows a similar structure to the likes of 'Brother' and 'Mauve', with harsh cymbals and a sharp vocal sample. Although elements from previous tracks return throughout the record, no two tracks are the same. It's almost as if each song is a different thought, idea or memory.

The reflective and more relaxed track 'Be Brave, Clench Fists', and in the second half, 'Christ Air' and 'St. Sinclair', all build on Leon's ability to create abundant warmth in his soundscape,s taking a step out of the club to experiment with more atmospheric production. Even so, our highlight of the record comes on the C-side, where 'It's Just (House Of Dupree)' really cements Leon as a solid house producer. All in all, a fantastic and innovative collection of music and a great addition to Vynehall's unblemished discography.

[3024-024] will land as a double 12" on 17th March 2014 via Juno.

Words by: Stephen Daniels



Always our first port of call whenever we're splashing the cash in Soho, Phonica Records can proudly celebrate its tenth birthday this weekend. Ten years in which it has served up the finest house and techno (and plenty of other stuff) to Londoners and beyond.

To mark the occasion, there's a sterling 3 x LP compilation of original tracks from the likes of Juju & Jordash, Legowelt and ICube, with even more being offered up in the digital format. And, as would be fitting, there's a serious party going down tonight at Fire.

To do our own little bit of reminiscing, we've thrown together a YouTube playlist of some of the favourite tunes we've bought from these guys over the years. Enjoy!

Saturday 15th February - Krankbrother presents 10 Years of Phonica

Henrik Schwarz [live]
Kassem Mosse [live]
Phonica DJs
Jack C

Tickets still available here.


Introducing STENNY

Formed by the Zenker Brothers and Mueller in 2007, Ilian Tape is a German-based label that brings a variety of club-focused techno from artists based around the globe. The latest 12" is no exception, providing four cuts of heaviness from Turin local Stenny and constituting his second release for the imprint.

The first track doesn't look to warm up proceedings gently, jumping right into the deep end with an after-hours bomb - crushed breakbeats and a heavily saturated, pounding kick resonate among the sort of breathless and airy chords Ilian have become know for over the years. It's a great way of working dark and light shades together into one track, with the results being an oddly pleasing mixture of spacey, gliding musicality with earthy and claustrophobic grittiness.

Moving on to 'Boulders' and the formula stays very much the same. Those breakbeats remain prevalent, again they've been thoroughly smashed to pieces and glued back together with some semblance of a melody that just about holds things together. This second track is a far more frenetic and urgent affair than the opener, desperate to get deep and driving straight off the bat.

Flipside - first you'll find the peculiarly named 'Local Fields'. An apt title perhaps, as Stenny grants his drums slightly more room, letting them breathe alongside the accompanying elements. Heavily-filtered, luscious chords pan out around the entire track with the whole affair feeling a little more roomy and patient than the first two pieces.

Finishing off is a Zenker Brothers remix of the title track. The two siblings hereby make no attempt to wash out the dirt and grime of Stenny's original. That isn't to say that the finished result lacks punch, rather that it feels less cluttered and frantic than the opener. Instead, the pair apply their own methodology, streamlining the entire track and removing all but the most essential components in order to craft a subtle, grooving jam that could stomp its way effortlessly through any club you dared chuck it at.

Eternal Restriction - Stenny [Ilian Tape]

[IT022] is available now from Juno.



Since 2012, Mood Hut has been operating as a small independent label out of Vancouver, Canada, specialising in off-kilter, deep dance music. This release sees the Pender Street Steppers drop some seriously decent atmospheric and ambient house in the form of a three track EP.

While the bubble samples in the first track 'Bubble World' could be considered trite, the song provides an overall unpretentious vibe as it meanders along its own path. 'Love Theme' follows with its drum rolls and sharp synthy stabs, giving way to some sultry saxophone work at the end. The last track 'Temple Walk' provides an ethereal ending track that would provide great stuff for the afterhours heads.

Mood Hut should be a good label to keep an eye on in 2014. While not peak-time dance material, the label explores the more left-leaning and cerebral sides of house music.

Bubble World EP - Pender Street Steppers [Mood Hut]

Pick up the Pender Street Steppers EP from Juno when its released on February 14th.

Words by: Ethan Becker


Featuring UNTOLD

I must admit that this album came to me pretty much out of the blue. I wasn't aware that Jack Dunning (aka Untold) was even working on an LP, let alone ready to release it on his own label, Hemlock Recordings. Hemlock has made a name for itself by providing some of the strangest, most forward-thinking electronic music - primarily from the UK but occasionally from elsewhere around the globe. The label began in 2008 and has since developed the careers of some, by-now, household names, including James Blake, Pangaea and of course Dunning himself.

So we come to the work of Untold and the aforementioned album. Despite coming as something of a surprise, I read the PR for this one and got pretty excited. Over the years, Untold has dipped his toes into various waters, journeying his way through a curious and idiosyncratic take on dubstep, brooding techno (a theme explored further in another sub-label, Pennyroyal) and just down-right weird house. But the theme for this LP, entitled 'Black Light Spiral', was to be something new entirely, channelling Dunning's upbringing on "jungle and hardcore, without being token rave revivalism."

Okay, I thought to myself - all sounds well and good. I can't be alone in noticing the penchant for a certain group of producers to give a nod towards jungle in their music in recent years; a group spearheaded perhaps by Paul Woolford (under his Special Request guise) but including the likes of Tessela and Randomer, the latter having released extensively on Untold's very own Hemlock imprint. However, my gripe with this kind of reenactment is that often it feels forced and nostalgic merely for the sake of it. I was confident that given this framework, Dunning had the guile and craft to create something entirely fresh and new, without utilising the aforementioned sound in too much of a gimmicky a way. Again, the press release for the LP backed this up, telling me how Untold intends 'to push boundaries, to leave people gasping for air and wondering "what the fuck is this music I've just heard?"' I have to stress that this last point is the most prevalent thought that comes to mind upon first listen. I listened to the 40-minute piece from start to finish then in all honesty did my best to put it to the back of my mind. Though I was fully aware of Dunning's ability to defy genre, I genuinely wasn't ready for the onslaught that 'Black Light Spiral' provided. Even in my worst nightmares I'd struggle to conjure sounds so obscure, so frighteningly weird. The sound-design throughout is admittedly impressive, and reminiscent of the kind of clinical production skills provided by somebody like Objekt. Because of this aspect, I'm confident some publications will receive the record with critical acclaim. However, as impressive as these soundscapes are, overall I'm just left wondering - what's the point?

Black Light Spiral LP - Untold [Hemlock]

Make no mistake, the record features all of those typical tokens of raves-past - airhorns, sirens, reggae samples. But beyond this, there is nothing that hints towards Dunning's jungle and hardcore influences. The whole thing feels so lacking in cohesion or direction that in the end it's just a 40-minute collection of random experiments in sound and noise. Yes, they sound pretty cool in and of themselves. But do they work as an album? I'm really not so sure. I was going to give a run-through of the record track-by-track but realised rather quickly that this would be a fruitless endeavour. I'd recommend you pick it up and listen through yourself as it demonstrates, viscerally in places, Untold's ability to skew traditional appreciations of convention. Aside from that though, it offers not a lot. Perhaps I was a tad naive when expecting at least a couple of real gems, tracks like 'Change in a Dynamic Environment' but welded around the structure of Blue Note jungle. Unfortunately, there's none of that here. What's laid out is an 8-track document that charters the strange workings of Dunning's mind as he builds upon the reputation he's built for himself as a man who defiantly strikes-out against the norm. In 'Black Light Spiral', Untold burrows ever deeper down the rabbit hole, exploring avenues yet to be touched. Is the result wholly successful? I'm not convinced it is, but it makes for an interesting experience nonetheless.

The album is released on 24th Feb - grab it at Juno.



Fledgling Dutch imprint Off Minor Recordings bring in 2014 with a new release from the trio of Move D and Juju & Jordash, who are collaboratively known as Magic Mountain High.

The EP's aesthetic is closely aligned to MMH's previous material released through Workshop Records in the past year or two - rich analog sounds that straddle the line between house and techno, whilst rarely deviating from sub-aquatic deepness. The palette is often experimental, something clearly expressed in opening track 'Suub', where skittish percussion operates above a couple of distress-signal synth lines that loosen out across the track's four-minute length by their own free will.

Second track 'Riptide' takes a more conventional turn and the EP begins in earnest.  Here MMH put forward the kind of deep house that typifies their live performances as a warm bass groove is fleshed out patiently across almost ten minutes. Looping these grooves around far more traditional drum structures, 'Riptide' is as spaced-out and cosmic as you can get without straying from convention altogether.

The spacey vibe is continued on the flip, as 'Avalanche' picks up where the opener left off. Again, the rhythm here is volatile and unpredictable, bouncing sonically from place to place as a swirling wind rustles amongst it. In spite of the seemingly arbitrary nature of the track's percussion elements, there still exists beneath the bustle a definite sense of the kind of foot-tapping, head-nodding groove that you'd expect from Move D et al.

Finishing up is 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina (No Compromise Mix)'. MMH again take things down a notch. Gone are the clattering, tinny hats of 'Avalanche'. Instead, the group decide to end proceedings on a more serene tip. A bubbling, dubby bassline operates within the framework of iced-out, stalactitic drum notes that pierce through the kind of melancholic, whirr that featured on both 'Avalanche' and the EP's opening track.

Tiny Breadcrumbs EP - Magic Mountain High [Off Minor]

[OMR02] is available now via Juno, with 12" ar every bit as abstract as you'd expect from Mountain High.


Introducing ONDO FUDD

The Trilogy Tapes went from strength to strength in 2013 and Will Bankhead’s label found itself occupying the higher echelons of pretty much every notable end-of-year list. The outfit’s penchant for experimental explorations in off-piste house and techno has garnered them a steady following and aided the rise of artists such as Antony Naples, MGUN and Kassem Mosse.

Looking to start the new year as they left the last, they bring an EP from new alias Ondo Fudd, who presents the ‘Coup d’Etat EP’. Now, a brief Google of the moniker doesn’t appear to offer much in explanation as to an identity. However, we’ve heard whisperings here it could be Call Super pushing the buttons. Super dropped ‘The Present Tense’ on Fabric's label Houndstooth last year and the record featured exactly the kind of churning, stuttered beats that wouldn’t have felt out of place on Trilogy Tapes. Though I wouldn’t like to speculate too much, there’s certainly enough here to make the link a sensible suggestion.

The EP starts with the title track, ‘Coup d’Etat’. From the offset there’s the typical crunching drums that often characterise Trilogy Tapes records - this then gradually combines with swirling, teetering synths that wobble amongst one another to give proceedings a faintly cosmic flavour. This is where suggesting the music is the work of Call Super makes sense, as there’s definitely enough within this opening track that appears reminiscent of the Berlin-based producer’s previous work.

Ondo Fudd - Coup d'Etat [Trilogy Tapes]

Following on is ‘Harbour’, where the sci-fi feeling of the opening track is continued. As before, there’s still the slightest hint of groove and melody here, the likes of which Trilogy Tapes’ records can at times disregard. Operating around this are sparse, tin-pan percussion elements and twinkling, bleeping stabs that ensure things are kept ice-cold.

The last track is ‘There Will Be a Time’, which of all the tunes on the EP is most classically aligned to the style Trilogy Tapes is known for. For the first three minutes all that’s really discernible are crackling, heavy drums that stomp through a broken and stuttering rhythm section. Gone is the sense of other-planet airiness and desolation - that is until half-way through, when the track opens up amongst those by-now familiar bloops and squeals that sound like R2-D2 after a bad pill. This is really where things get very interesting. Wood-block percussion taps the groove and though there’s still signs of those plodding drums. There’s none of the claustrophobic shuffling found in the first-half of the track and Fudd pulls something strangely funky out of the bag, in a really off-kilter, sci-fi mould. The ‘Coup d’Etat' EP is the kind of jam that feels really at home on the label. The record continues the label’s unspoken merit of producing interesting, often weird house rhythms that are capable of working on the dance floor, just in all the ways you wouldn’t usually expect.

The EP will be released 30th Jan - you can grab it at Juno.



Berghain mainstay Len Faki makes a production return on his own Figure Records, this time offering tracks produced alongside HH favourite Markus Suckut. Suckut has been steadily building his reputation for the past couple of years - a reputation that had its foundations laid on the aforementioned label back in 2011. Since then, he's gone from strength to strength whilst operating both as Markus Suckut and #., sticking to a straightforward formula that relies upon pounding, no-nonsense techno music that's expertly produced whilst remaining adequately rough around the edges.

'Skulls EP' sees Suckut and Faki combine to produce four articulate, swinging tracks that are as heavy as they come. What's striking about the release generally is the way both Faki and Suckut's styles compliment so favourably. The former is renowned for a squeaky-clean sound design - something which is disrupted on 'Skulls', but only to a degree.

The first track, 'Skulls 1' is perhaps the sort of effort that you'd expect from Faki. Here, the drums are worked expertly and methodically around the kind of twisted bleeps, creaks and claps that often characterise Faki's sound. Yet on 'Skulls 2', you can sense the creeping influence of Suckut. There still exists in this second offering the swing and movement found in 'Skulls 1', however the overall feel is grittier and even more pounding. This much is most clearly evident in the included dub version, which to my mind is far more basement than it is Berghain.

Skulls 1 - Skulls EP / Len Faki & Markus Suckut [Figure Germany]

What I like most about this collaboration is how Suckut has taken the gleaming, crystal-clear big-room sound of Faki (evident in 'Skulls" 1 and 2) and refined it, honing it down to its core components before sprinkling it with a healthy amount of dirt, distorting the typical flavours you may have come to expect and giving the release a far more underground feel. In 'Skulls 3', we have the best that the EP has to offer. In a way it's strange that Suckut is able to produce these tracks that are so heavily club-orientated, as he admitted himself (under a different guise) in a Hush House interview last year that he's not one for going out and partying. Addtionally, he demonstrated his deftness as a DJ with an exclusive mix - you can check that out here. But moving back to this current release, I'm loathe to utilise the 'Berghain techno' cliche so I'll just go ahead and get it out of the way, but if ever a cliche existed to describe a particular sound, this surely has to be it. Flitting, indecipherable vocals ghost their way through mayday alarm bleeps whilst a lead-weighted kick drum pounds its way throughout.

I must stress here that the sort of big-room killers I'm describing aren't so much of a bad thing, as when executed well their power is unquestionable. Often I have a hesitancy with producers who attempt to adapt their production style to larger crowds, as this somewhat ironically has the tendency to dilute the exact facets of their music that they're attempting to amplify. In the four tracks of 'Skulls', both Faki and Suckut deliver the clearest demonstration in how to straddle this line effectively - creating deadly, dancefloor-honed bombs, edged in Faki's characteristic steel and scattered with Suckut's gravelled sound.

'Skulls' is available at Juno right now.


Featuring LEGOWELT

Prolific synth magician Legowelt continues his relentless release schedule with three tracks of intergalactic goodness for new label Riverette. Straight from his sequencer-sampler workstation of choice - the Akai MPC60 – Danny Wolfers inaugurates the similarly mysterious Spanish label with this new EP.

A-side ‘Blue Tearz’ compliments its shimmers and twinkles with an ominous bassline that wouldn’t be out of place on the Drive soundtrack. Taken together with the track’s plaintive vocal snippets, the well-crafted opener finds Wolfers in an interestingly melancholic mode. Side two’s first offering, ‘Shadow Wolf’, works with different materials to form a more club-ready track combining punchier drums and room-filling synth washes. ‘Source of Menace’, befittingly, is the most sinister of the three. Initially moving in a similar vein to standout tracks on his ‘Paranormal Soul’ LP (namely 'Danger in the Air' and 'Rave Till Dawn'), the track brings in rough and ready drums that sound more like his recent efforts for Ron Morelli’s L.I.E.S. imprint.

Overall, ‘Blue Tearz’ gives further reason to speculate whether Wolfers is from this galaxy or not. Or at any rate, all the more reason to anticipate his forthcoming LP on Crème Organization.

[RVRT001] is due out very soon via Juno.

Words by: Isaac Rangaswami




Marco Bernardi and Johannes Volk have clubbed together to produce a rather nice EP for record label and club night Tief

‘Never on a Monday’ has sleaze written all over it. Chugging away at just over 100bpm, the synth bassline and melody work together to create a balearic italo-disco atmosphere. A moody one at that. The tight bassline and drums on 'Blue Mountains' contrast with the loose-sounding keys echoing over them. As the song progresses Bernardi adds layer upon layer of sound, with a speech sample barely audible in the background. Eery stuff. 

 Never on a Monday / Blue Mountains – Marco Bernardi [TIEF]
‘Glare’ drives itself along with complex and punchy drum programming, with a hammond organ supplying the hook. Volk builds it to a crescendo only to ebb it back down to its original snappy percussion. The hammond comes slowly back from its muted sound to build up again once more, delivering a subtly euphoric piece of music.

‘Humanoid Pilots’ isn’t so subtly euphoric. Although it starts off with all the sensibilities of a tribal techno roller, the tune gives way to warm synth stabs and a syncopated drum sequence that wouldn’t sound misplaced under the M25 in the early 90s (and that’s no bad thing). The song ends as it begins, making it perfect for a bit of a change during a set. Volk’s tunes are definitely the winners on this release. 

 Humanoid Pilots – Johannes Volk [TIEF]

[TIEF003] is available now from Juno.