Hyperspecific: September And October’s Electronic Music

The latest round-up of the best new electronic music focuses on recent releases emerging from Copenhagen's techno scene

Hyperspecific returns for October and this time with a focus on some stellar recent releases emerging from Copenhagen’s very fertile techno scene, alongside the usual run-through of new music.

Courtesy (pictured above) and Mama Snake’s now-defunct Ectotherm label previously led the charge in flying the flag for the speedy, doofing techno sound that has become synonymous with a number of producers based in the Danish capital. Having released records from the likes of Schacke, Repro, IBON and Rune Bagge between launching in 2016 and winding down earlier this year, Ectotherm had a big hand in introducing this sound to the wider population outside of the city. Now Courtesy has launched a new label called Kulør which, she explains, “is a way of saying ‘colourful’ in Danish”. It’s a fitting name, taking into consideration the label’s first release, a various artists compilation featuring music from a number of those who made appearances on Ectotherm.

The compilation’s 10 tracks are punctuated by furious kicks often ticking along somewhere around the 140 BPM mark, but, importantly, this brand of techno doesn’t forego melody for the sake of heightened intensity. Schacke’s ‘Automated Lover’ is a tug of war between punchy drums and forlorn synths that is made to be played at big room techno raves. IBON’s ‘Forest Car’ is a pumping 145 BPM cut laced with snarling, trance-y synths while Repro’s ‘Hot Led Payoff’ could provide the perfect soundtrack to a techno ghost train experience with its shrieking vocal samples and driving drums. Funeral Future is the collaborative project of Repro and Adam Askov who co-founded key Copenhagen label and studio count 0. Their sole contribution to Kulør 001 is ‘Heute Nicht’. It closes the compilation on a high note with its ecstasy-ridden dayglo synths and pounding kicks. Kulør 001 is packed with killer tracks from start to finish and fans of the harder side of techno aren’t likely to find a better compilation all year.

Two other producers that make an appearance on that compilation are Rune Bagge and Sugar. The former is by now a fairly established name outside of Copenhagen’s scene owing to releases via Ectotherm and Northern Electronics over the last couple of years. His latest standalone 12”, No Tomorrow, arrives via German label Ownlife. The hazy, euphoric pads on the title track take precedence over the kicks, slightly dialling down the force of his usual productions as well as those of his Copenhagen cohorts. ‘Reload’ has a rumbling bassline that continues unabated for much of its six minutes, while ‘Fear’ pushes the producer’s sound more in line with the kind of hypnotic, drone-based techno of producers like Wata Igarashi and Mike Parker.

Sugar’s No Sex Only Feelings is the third release from another Copenhagen-based label, Euromantic. Its four tracks meditate on much of the same themes explored on the Kulør label compilation. ‘Krankengymnastik’, which translates as ‘physiotherapy’, is a bruising techno workout of swelling, colourful synths, while ‘Heart Less’ is another melody-driven cut built for floor-stomping action. Copenhagen’s techno scene is centred around a close-knit community which feeds into the common themes explored across the work of a number of its central producers. These three releases demonstrate though that there’s plenty mileage in the sound they’re pushing, providing the perfect calling to those who are looking for more animation in techno.

Amduscias – 7th Floor
(Space Hardware)

Amduscias is the alter ego of producer Etch, whose neurofunk-indebted experimentations in recent years for labels like Purple City Soufflé and Soundman Chronicles have yielded excellent results for fans of D&B. On the 7th Floor EP, he uses the new alias to explore some slower tempos, save for closer ‘War On Venius’ which occupies the same 160 BPM territory of Etch tracks such as ‘Flamingo Grove’ and ‘Lore of Samurai’. With its halftime tick-tock drum pattern and subtle bassline, ‘War On Venius’ brings further nuance to the higher tempo framework that much of Etch’s recent output has been working in.

Elsewhere, the EP centres around brain-tingling low-end bass and skittering percussion. ‘That Nonsense Beat’ centres around dubby vocal samples and a shifting 5/4 drum pattern that will likely leave a number of DJs scratching their heads. ‘Amduscias’ strips back the percussion to nothing more than a simple kick combining squawking sound FX and a screwface-inducing bassline with dancefloor-devastating results. ‘She-Witch’ carries a UK garage-leaning swagger, its squelchy, swung synths recalling the distinctive melodies of much of Gábor Lázár’s work. Etch has quietly been responsible for some of the best mutations of UK bass music in recent years and 7th Floor offers up another four examples of why his work is always worth paying attention to.

Kasper Marott – Keflavik
(Seilscheibenpfeiler Schallplatten Berlin)

After a 24-year break, Modeselektor relaunched their Seilscheibenpfeiler label earlier this year with a re-release of its first and before then only record by Fundamental Knowledge & Dr. Rhythm. Since then, the duo have unleashed a trio of brilliant records referencing techno, acid house, dubstep and breakbeat from Lory D, Fadi Mohem and Nautiluss. Their next record sees them turn to Denmark’s Kasper Marott leading with a track that has lit up the sets of fellow aforementioned Danish DJ Courtesy over the last year or so.

There’s no denying that the record’s title track is the star of the show here, in all its nine-minute glory. Revolving around twinkly plucked arpeggios and an ecstasy-ridden chord progression, ‘Keflavik’ is an unashamedly joyous dancefloor pleaser, and arrives just slightly too late to claim the summer anthem status it deserves. Elsewhere, Marott continues to hone in on the sugar-driven melodies of the lead track. ‘Megatu’ comes off like electro geared towards tender slow dances while ‘Microworld’’s drum pattern once again turns to something resembling electro, its sound world no less chirpy than the title track even if slightly more reserved.

Grand River – Pineapple
(Spazio Disponibile)

Next up for Donato Dozzy and Neel’s ever-reliable Spazio Disponibile label is a debut LP from Dutch-Italian producer and composer Aimée Portioli, better known as Grand River. Pineapple sees her follow her 2017 12” Crescente with a full collection of richly melodic ambient cuts. Portioli has experience producing film scores alongside her other projects, and that shows across this LP. Opener ‘Pleasure Garden’ takes in rumbling drones underneath colourful, polyrhythmic synths, stretching out across almost nine minutes. The melodies on ‘End of Cycles’ carry a distinct tinge of 1970s krautrock – you could imagine a simple motorik beat pattern ticking along nicely underneath it.

‘I Want To Be Saved’ employs a hypnotic, fuzzy wave of synths that grow more entrancing with ever four-bar loop, while ‘Matter’, following it, carries a sparser arrangement with brief flecks of melody providing the track’s basic rhythmic meter. It’s not until the closing track ‘Recollection’ that you hear anything resembling a kick on Pineapple as Portioli marries her gorgeous chords with a drum loop that sits somewhere between trip-hop and halftime D&B. Across the LP, the producer employs vivid melodies to make her mark, and though the formula doesn’t change too dramatically from track to track, it’s no less effective for it.

Sean Thomas – Being
(Outer Time Inner Space)

Outer Time Inner Space is a Sydney-based record label based out of the record store of the same name in the city. Sean Thomas, who also produces fractured, bass-driven techno as Cop Envy, returns to the fold for the label’s fourth release, building on the sounds he explored on the OTIS’ first record last year. On the A side, ‘Crew Cut’ employs the kind of subtle but wobbly baselines you can expect to hear from his other alias over shifting hi hats, kicks and claps that call to mind the best ‘90s tech-house. ‘ITXC’ opens on a raft of buried breaks and gorgeous pads that wouldn’t sound out of place on a SUED-released SW. record. You could imagine it going down a treat played in a sunset or sunrise set in all manner of idyllic locations.

‘Being (Straight Mix)’ maintains some of those SUED vibes found over on the A side with dubbed-out synths, an understated baseline and the occasional wildlife sample. It’s a slow, effective builder with the kick first introduced at around the halfway mark. The final cut, ‘Actuall’ sees a return of those creeping hi hats found on the record’s opening cut, the melody and bassline combination occasionally letting in the odd flurry of dub FX. All four tracks long for club play, as suited for the warm-up as they are for peak-time and the all-important winding down hours.

Sene – I Heard You Laughing
(Unknown Precept)

Paris-based Edward Sene’s debut is one that’ll please the fans of chugging slow jams. Opener ‘Trade Union’ is the kind of wheezing, industrial oddity that you might expect to find on a L.I.E.S. release, sharing similar sound worlds with producers like Ron Morelli and Beau Wanzer. ‘Et Cætera’ retains the industrial edge of the opening track with brooding, glitched-out synths that take on a distinctly sunnier disposition at around the two-minute mark.

‘La Casa Moment’ is a twisted piece of riddim-style dancehall that would fit nicely played alongside recent work by the likes of Equiknoxx and Low Jack, as is ‘Nocturne’ with its hollowed-out drums and metallic, gurgling synths. Between those two tracks, ’Cold Onsen’ picks up the pace a little with squalling melodies and UK techno-adjacent drums that round-off an EP of varying but graciously employed influences.

Various – Seven Hills Presents Nation Of Noise 91 – 93
(Seven Hills)

New label Seven Hills is the creation of four friends hailing from Sheffield, who’ve now found themselves in different parts of the UK. The crew behind the label has already launched a mix series – you can check out via their SoundCloud page – which has seen the label’s founders delve into their record collections to showcase electro, ghettotech and all kinds of wigged-out ‘90s techno. Seven Hills’ first release sees them shine a light on a short-lived UK label from the ‘90s called Nation of Noise.

The double-vinyl set takes in remastered music from all three of the label’s releases. One record is dedicated to Xes Noiz’ self-titled EP, a treasured rarity amongst some record collectors. Across six tracks, that records uses bleep-era basslines, echo-ridden guitars and vocals and hypnotic kicks to create a club record that sits somewhere between 4/4 techno and dub. On the other plate, you can find two tracks from Lockgroove’s 1993 record Feel The Joy and another two from Super Bubble’s Bounce, also originally released in 1993. The former’s ‘Feel The Pain’ is a groovy, low-slung slice of tech-house while Space Bubble’s ‘Elvis Stole My Space Hopper’ is a stripped-back meshing of rippling synths and zapping sound FX. Those looking for subtle dancefloor bombs need look no further than this compilation, and for more on this tangent, Zeitnot, a label co-run by one of the collective behind Seven Hills, should satisfy your needs.

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