Dirty South is a man of his word. He promised fans two albums before the year was out, and suddenly darko arrived right in the nick of time. Just a month after releasing the stunning XV, the cinematic house titan submitted yet another chapter to his long player history – and it’s unlike any project the producer has helmed to date.
For some, it may have made sense to release both fall albums as a double LP. Yet Dirty South’s decision to separate the two projects makes perfect sense when listening. Both are worlds apart in feeling, tone, and flow. XV was brilliantly bouncy, often bursting with waves of elation; darko, on the other hand, is something different with a more anxious mindset all its own. The mournful synth swells of “Temps” announce the project’s ethos immediately, and the feeling of unrest permeates throughout the rest of the journey. On “Cassetta,” the intro burns slowly before ascending chords spread the tension on thick. “Piksi” follows directly behind, which is shaping up to be one of the darkest tracks in Dirty South’s repertoire.
Despite the unity of darko‘s world, trademark Dirty South touches abound. While the beaming brightness of past hits like “If It All Stops” is nowhere to be found, the “Kino” shuffles and grooves as undeniably as any of the artist’s dance floor weapons. “Lava” is a rhythmic tour-de-force, despite snarling horn-like synth blasts tethering it firmly into the album’s aesthetic. But despite Dirty South’s mastery of vocal-infused efforts show in past releases on labels like Anjunabeats, darko remains starkly instrumental. The move feels calculated as the arrangements ebb and flow freely, leaving the listener to wonder if any lyrics could speak single-handedly for the soul of the record.
The producer admitting the record is his favorite to date could indicate this new sonic direction — also showcased in songs like his recent remix of Lane 8’s “No Captain” — is settling in to stay awhile. The relentless cohesion of darko is something Dirty South had yet to do at this level. As “Corda” looms into sight to cap off the album, it sets the mind on fire. There’s a sense that the gravity of the sum of its parts has seeped in, and the effect after listening to the LP’s entirety is vivid. It’s gripped in an atmosphere of anxious and electric yearning, soundtracking a feeling of introspection and raw hunger. Beautiful but stark, dark but restrained, mournful but energized; whether or not these tracks invade the same playlists and dance floors Dirty South has presided over all these years is irrelevant. For a statement as nuanced and unified as darko is a triumphant highlight in and of itself.
As the commander-in-techno of genre guardian Octopus Recordings, Sian has been busy helping a fresh crop of up-and-comers like Shelley Johannson and Hidden Empire tear down clubs and warehouses across the world . In case any in the underground needed their memories jogged, the legend continues his recent release streak with ‘Breathe”–a lethal reminder of his studio prowess.
In true Sian fashion, the track is a relentless exercise in aural hypnotism, riding a pounding kick and warehouse-ready percussion as the song title is chanted rhythmically in the background. As the breakdown approaches, inhalations and exhalations mirror the listener’s brief, anticipated break from the mayhem–but a piercing arp keeps the energy twisting and turning long after the drums subside. The second beat section layers the hissing analog top line over Sian’s full dose of bass, creating a unique mid-track crescendo that’s sure to demolish unsuspecting crowds. Sian’s latest is equal parts raw power and mind-warping experiment, and projects to be mainstay for savvy techno selectors as the year draws to a close.
From the smoldering crevices of a mau5trap backroom, i_o is feverishly taunting listeners to get “Low.”
Hot out of the oven of his new two-track Low EP, i_o uses the lead track–which avid fans will recognize from mau5trap’s mix series (Ep 6) where it was teased earlier this year–to continue his maniacal spiral into the deepest throes of torrential techno. As the bass line throbs like its hooked up to an EKG, a decadent female vocal cut declares: “I don’t wanna get high / I wanna get low.” The LA producer’s intentions for the Low EP become clear with the second track, titled “Move,” solidifying the devilishly dancey motif with its skittering hi-hats and abundant low-end bass–topped off by another hypnotic, looping vocal, of course.
When he’s not on Twitter faux-beefing with his like-minded producer pal, No Mana, he’s relentlessly churning out gritty, pulsating dance music as a mainstay on mau5trap, in spite of i_o-scorning “techno purists,” who helped spawn his pervasive recent single, “Not Techno.”
The iron door to Berlin’s techno club Tresor is being immortalized as an exhibit piece demonstrating Germany’s history and culture. The exhibit, which is part of Berlin’s new museum called The Humboldt Forum, will first welcome viewers late next year. That the entrance to Tresor will join pieces and artifacts dating back to the Roman empire only solidifies the place techno holds in the country’s consciousness.
Tresor first opened in 1991 in the vault of an abandoned department store (Tresor means “safe” in German), and immediately became a stronghold of hard, industrial, and acid techno. After closing in 2005, the club reopened in 2007 in a renovated power plant and is still pumping out some of the city’s best sets. The Humboldt Forum museum is fully aware of the artifact’s significance, saying in a statement: “The door reminds us of the pulsating party culture of the 1990s and symbolizes the city’s free spaces, which gave birth to a lively cultural scene. This object truly reflects Berlin’s eventful history.”
Nina Kraviz is no novice when it comes to sonic world-building. A good DJ set should transport dance floor disciples to a halcyon, far away place; and Kraviz does precisely that.
With a stunning hour-and-45-minute set inside the Eiffel Tower, of all places, the techno goddess unravels her masterfully woven web of tech-sanity all around her audience. The hypnotic performance is the latest Cercle live stream event, pairing icons of techno and house music with eye-watering, epic locations.
Kraviz’s all-vinyl set weaves in and out of minimal oddities, as the crowd dances in the shadow of the French landmark with a hazy Parisian skyline behind them. As with previous installments of the event series, the match between artist and place feels meant to be. It’s clear the gig is a special one for Kraviz, who felt that her style and the evening’s location were an inexorable match.
“Techno as an avant-garde form of music fits perfectly here,” Kraviz explained in a post-set interview. “I’m very honored to play here. I hope the guy who built it can feel us, and feels what’s going on.”
Is Gesaffelstein teasing a comeback? Just typing the sentence is enough to induce goosebumps.
Techno’s prodigal son famously hung up his live performance chops in 2015 at the top of his game with a groundbreaking final performance at Coachella. While he’s broken radio silence with a few key production credits over the last three years, there’s undeniably been a void where Gesaffelstein once stood, though now, mysterious new billboards currently cropping up across the globe suggest the suit-clad, cigarette-wielding dark prince of techno may be on his way back.
The enigmatic graphics follow Aphex Twin‘s similar campaign from earlier this year, with the producer’s logo popped up in New York, London, Hollywood and more. While these new billboards don’t reveal any details about the Aleph creator’s next move, though they could likely allude to new music in the near future, or perhaps, although much less likely, a comeback live performance of some sort. It has been a long three years since Gesaffelstein went on hiatus, though it seems he may be coming out of semi-retirement with a statement to make soon.
Eekkoo‘s reputation for masterfully crafted techno spans just about every mood. Whether unleashing moody peak hour burners on Jeremy Olander‘s Vivrant imprint, or gracing mau5trap with brooding stompers like 2014’s “Elysium,” the producer has built a foundation of quality that allows him to infiltrate European warehouses and unsuspecting Spotify playlists with equal aplomb. Now, the Montreal-based maestro is back with a fresh dose of club-ready fire on a new self-released single titled “Bangalore.”
Front the jump, it’s clear the track means business as analog arps and growling bass bursts flank a massive break beat. Washing into an interlude steeped in mystery, the drums return to demolish dance floors as strings and echoing vocals drive the record forward.
Eekkoo is currently on tour in India spreading his deliciously dark gospel overseas and named “Bangalore” after a South Asian city of the same name. It’s safe to say the producer’s arsenal has gained another weapon with his latest offering.
I showed up to a swanky NYC hotel room on a Saturday night not having a clue what to expect. When I was originally invited to attend an intimate launch event of a new dance music record label my ears perked up – but it wasn’t because of the genre of music, or a fancy
A new limited edition calendar extends immortality to some of Berlin’s now defunct but nevertheless celebrated techno clubs. Entitled “Places 2019: Berliner Cluborte der Vergangenheit,” the calendar spans the last three decades in its reflection on the landmark techno clubs that contributed to the rise of the genre in the world’s techno capital. “Places 2019” features illustrations of closed iconic Berlin venues like Bunker, Tresor, Exit, and Stattbad Wedding, done by German artist Tine Fetz.
Berlin residents can purchase a copy of the calendar at the Archiv der Jugendkulturen at Fidicinstraße 3 in Schöneberg. Those who live elsewhere can still obtain one of the exclusive calendars by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, but with just 250 total copies on sale, tech lovers who hope to live out the year through a techno-inflected lens will want to act quickly.
Any techno heads not currently aware of the consistent heat coming from HEYZ won’t be able to ignore the North Carolina-based producer for much longer. Although his 2017 debut offering on mau5trap‘s Foar Moar Vol. 3 compilation was a track titled “Quietly,” the arrival of HEYZ to the darker genres of dance music has been anything but. HEYZ has steadily unleashed meticulously crafted creations for the past year, crowned by a debut EP via mau5trap called Schedule 1 in February 2018.
“Schedule 4” arrives as a final aftershock from the Schedule 1 era. The song is a beautifully bleak journey through desolate soundscapes and seismic techno drops, with previous co-collaborator Genevieve Vincent of darkDARK providing ominous vocal ambiance. HEYZ’s direction for the track comes in crystal clear, as the producer explained his mindset during the creative process.
“Schedule 4 is a special track, and the perfect ending to the ‘Schedule 1’ series. With ‘Schedule 4,’ I wanted to recreate those surreal experiences I’ve had in clubs when a record hits so hard it takes your breath away. Genevieve of darkDARK’s vocals adds the perfect eerie touch to make the record extra dark and menacing.”
HEYZ frequently describes his sound as “power and beauty.” On “Schedule 4,” he brings the former element in spades.