Philip Neeson returns fresh for the new year with another selection of the latest in hot and heavy techno releases, some of his favourite cuts from 2015, and a 'blast from the past' selection.

Black Sand

Described over at Fact as "indulgently bad vibes" the Desert Island EP by Italian duo Max Durante and DJ Datch, who together call themselves Black Sand, is something I've really rather enjoyed of late. Tracks such as opener, the beguiling 'Abys' float and swing as if in deep space outer sphere-- not unlike the work of LFO--, while 'Dead Sea' on the other hand is full of slow building, all-encompassing magnetic pull, deep layered atmospherics and fast-ticking, tricksy rhythm. Here you can stream the release in full. The Desert Island EP is out now on Kynant Records.


Believe it or not, The 3rd Decade EP is actually the first new material from Drax (Thomas Heckmann) since that near golden year of 2002. Released via Perc's (you've guessed it!) Perc Trax imprint this vinyl and digital format 3-tracker is, as you might imagine, a punching hard-hitter, that takes in third-wave twisting acid-punk mania ('Acid Brick'), force field industrial swagger and noise ('Razorblade'), and Autechre-esque, finger nails-on-blackboard low ends ('Low Machine').

Manni Dee

No nonsense industrial acid-grinder producer Manni Dee seems to be on a bit of a splurge of fucktastic acid-techno tanglements at the moment. And so what seems only weeks after the excellent Human Image EP comes the just as sick Behaviour Cycles four-track release. Here you can preview the record's "techno killer" tunes without further ado. Behaviour Cycles is out now via Sunil Sharpe's Earwiggle imprint.

Christian Loeffler

I'm not sure if it was always the intention to release this one in December but there's a certain crisp, wintry beauty to 'Lost', the title-track from the new EP by Christian Loeffler. This is Loeffler's debut release for Milan-based label Just This, and is available on digital format only at the moment. A nicely crafted, twitchy ambient techno tune with some downtempo nu breaks that, taken altogether, awkwardly-- and a little confusingly-- sound a touch like two different tracks playing at once. The EP also includes a remix by Lake People that I'm looking forwarded to hearing, having enjoyed moments off of their 2015 neat trancy techno LP Purposely Uncertain Field. Listen here to the original mix of 'Lost' as premiered by XLR8R.

Some of my favourite tunes from 2015

DJ Bone - 'Cultural Variance'

First up, Detroit's Eric Dulan (aka DJ Bone) has been a touch busy in 2015, and earlier in the year offered up a first class 12" in the shape of the 'Cultural Variance / Faze 1' release. Sometimes I waiver on which of the two tracks is my favourite; the former offering up a pure form, bleep fest-cum-tribal fun marathon, while the flip a spacey, grunt-led banger of the most brilliant kind.

Magit Cacoon - 'Other Dimension'

Off of the somewhat undervalued Other Dimension LP, the title-track was the standout. The LP isn't an original record, necessarily, but a fine addition to the moody, intelligent techno canon all the same. The way things collapse and then rebuild around the cut included here is a sheer, un-matchable joy. In fact, almost too cool for school from the Israeli producer. (Oh, and bit of a favourite with next door's cat, this tune, thus allowing us to come to the decision of calling the tabby in question Techno as a result).

Grey People -- 'Moonstruck'

Another standout tune for me from the last twelve months is 'Moonstruck' by Nashville producers Grey People. This one staggers into yer face with its heavy 303 wobbling and decidedly raw, wonky hi-hat distortion. Most wonderful.

Bicep -- 'Just'

And finally, Bicep's 'Just' appeared in one or two end-of-year lists, and rightly so. This warmly crafted, housey techno cut is just perfect for on-the-go listening, full of old-school breakbeat tech flavours, and uncomplicated, friendly synth.

Blast From The Past

Origin Unknown -- 'Valley of the Shadows'

Bit of a magical mid '90s drum and bass tune, this, from someone calling themselves Origin Unknown. I think 'Valley of the Shadows' also appeared on a BBC Radio 1-sponsored d&b double disc compilation toward the latter part of the decade.

Drum and bass still throws up the occasional corker today, but no one is going to argue against the err argument that the '90s was its finest, most consistent decade; the still fresh, still developing genre's rush of releases, the fast-moving shifts in style, the split between dark and light.

By the end of the decade drum and bass had become, as is almost always the case with any fresh and exciting new sounds, bland and commercial in certain quarters but other people, such as Stakka & Skynet for example, kept things exciting, alive, and truly wonderful.

'Valley of the Shadows' isn't by Stakka & Skynet, but it is by Origin Unknown, and is a pretty good example of the offcut oddities, and general anonymous productions, going on with the very best of drum and bass at the time. There's a garage-y, post rave, junglist sound going down here that, because the tune sounds equal parts positively dated as still futuristic even in 2015, only adds to its of-its-time, slightly smudged curiosity.