State of Play: Robert Hood, Carl Craig and Oscar Mulero in this month's bumper Techno edition
Right folks it’s that time again, where we roundup all the big releases from the world of Techno. April has been a busy month, we’ve seen the release of Matt Tolfrey’s stomping fabric 81 mix, Robert Hood has been up to his usual tricks and although released in March we felt we had to cover it; Carl Craig and Green Velvet’s failure to impress. Let’s get stuck in shall we?
Robert Hood / Floorplan – Shaker / Ritual
One of the godfathers of Techno, Robert Hood’s album Minimal Nation laid the groundwork for the minimal techno movement that swiftly followed. Recently Hood has been deviating into his Floorplan alias, one which blends more gospel style vocals and a groovier edge together with his still driving techno sound. “Never Grow Old” being rinsed in most Techno DJ’s sets across the land last year, showing that although the production style maybe different and more a positive vibe it’s still relevant in the darker Techno world. After witnessing Hood bumped up onto the main stage at Bloc this year and slaying the crowd with his own blend of Techno, playing mainly his own productions with a back catalog that stretches back as far as the ear can hear. Hood is still managing to produce primetime Techno under both guises.
Up until now Hood has been insistent on keeping the two sides of his production apart in his releases, but this release sees him bring them both together and create a monster of an EP. It’s hard to pick a favourite of the two tracks, both perfectly resembling Hood’s production talent and yet both managing to keep distance between the two aliases. “Shaker” is a prime example of Hood’s ability to build tension in a track, each loop building on the previous and slowly evolving to prove Hood is still the master of this genre. “Ritual” takes on a different form with the thumping drum pattern Hood is so well known for with church organ style synth and a groovy bassline to boot.
Available on vinyl over at Phonica.
Lewis Fautzi – The Illusion of Choice EP
Prolific Portuguese producer Lewis Fautzi is said to practically live in his studio, this month has seen him release an experimental space themed album on Slam’s Soma Records Space Exploration and The Illusion of Choice EP on Spanish record label Tsunami Spain.
The Illusion of Choice EP sees this talented young producer continue on his wave of brilliant releases, each one further cementing his mark on the deep and dark industrial Techno style he’s helping to shape. “Illusion” gets the EP off to a hypnotic start with its ‘Space Techno’ like feel setting the tone for the rest of the EP. “Bound” is the standout track on the EP with its driving kick drum interwoven with eerie samples, this is Techno in its purest form. The EP also sees “Bound” receiving the remix treatment from Christian Wünsch, which I’m not so keen on, the simplicity of the original has been added to using a formula that hasn’t quite added up. The EP finishes with “Unheard”, a mind cluster fuck of a track that you can see people losing their minds too in the deepest darkest depths of a club.
Available on vinyl over at Juno.
Phase (Ø) – Tunnel Vision
Now for one of my favourite producers, Phase (Ø) has been making a name for himself over the last few years. Phase has been a mainstay of Token Records since his debut for them back in 2007, with a whole slew of releases since then, Phase and Token Records have grown together, with Phase helping to define that unique Token style. With Token Records continuing to ride the wave of success since their Aphelion compilation EP last year, with Tunnel Vision surging the Belgian label and London producer ever forward.
“Tunnel Vision” the title track of the EP takes no prisoners from the outset fast paced and relentless kick drums guide you through, with tension at every corner, Phase manages to keep the tone deep and powerful. The flip side “Internal Conflicts” is a four on the floor foray into acid techno that will have you eagerly awaiting the weekend party ahead, expect this track to be doing the rounds for the year to come and have people on the dancefloor looking at each other questioning, “What the hell is this?!”.
Available on vinyl and digital over at Hard Wax.
Oscar Mulero – Muscle and Mind
We recently did a piece with Maxime Dangles before his debut album drops in May, what struck me while writing the piece was how Techno artists seem to be capable of producing albums which aren’t stuffed with fillers and a few killers, they’re producing albums that go the distance and take the listener on a journey through their influences and personalities.
Oscar Mulero is once again proving this theory with his fourth album Muscle and Mind on PoleGroup recordings. Mulero has seen his previous albums released on Detroit Underground and his own Warm Up Recordings, each respectively being well received and building up to this latest release. These Latin countries seem to be producing some great Techno artists of late, with Fautzi hailing from Portugal and Spaniard Mulero driving the point home with some force on this album. This isn’t just a Techno album, this is a demonstration of a deep understanding of electronic music on Mulero’s part. The downbeat ambient title track “Muscle and Mind” and broken beats of “Involuntary Response” reminding you that Mulero is the narrator on this story and you’re going through it at his pace. The stand out track for me is the massive “Mentally Induced Action” a thumping and straight to the point dance floor smasher.
The album is on both vinyl and CD, with the CD release including a second disc titled Dualistic Concept featuring remixes from Stanislav Tolkachev and SHXCXCHCXSH.
Available on vinyl and digital from PoleGroup’s bandcamp page.
Carl Craig and Green Velvet – Unity
Now don’t get us wrong here, Carl Craig and Green Velvet have been massive in their respective genres. Carl Craig is one of the most important producers to come out of Detroit and helping to shape the Detroit Techno sound. Green Velvet hailing from Chicago, his contributions to the house world also innumerable.
These two powerhouses combining should have provided us with something more than this EP, we like most others were waiting for this EP to drop and when it did it left us bitterly disappointed and feeling like it’s missed the mark.
Carl Craig has always had the ability to grow his sound, not just content with sticking with the old Detroit ways, he’s evolved his sound over time, working with notable producer Henrik Schwarz and producing a deeper brand of Techno. But this EP feels like a desperate attempt by both of them to stay relevant. Green Velvet’s vocals over a track have always been something special, with Flash back in 1995 being a favourite of ours. However on this EP they feel like Velvet is trying to use them to the same effect they had all those years ago, but things have changed since then…….