Hyperspecific: Dance Music For March Reviewed By Jaša Bužinel

Our dance music columnist reflects on generational divides in techno, reviews a host of March releases from Surgeon, Air Max '97, LUXE, Doctor Jeep, 3Phaz and more

Meuko! Meuko!

The press release for the new Surgeon album for Tresor, notably his first techno album in five years, prompted me to think about the longevity of artists coming from the underground of electronic music, especially considering the current social media landscape. It may sound obvious, but it’s almost impossible to sustain a stable, financially feasible career if your work spans over 20 or even 30 years. The same is, of course, true of other niche scenes and genres – even more so when it comes to pop. Still, the idea of honing your own sound doesn’t really work in the same way in the fast-paced dance music industry. Here, trends come and go, sometimes almost overnight. It’s much harder for an ageing techno or bass producer to keep track of trends and current developments than for most fellow musicians playing in bands or doing solo projects where things evolve at a different pace. The other factor is the rising influence and demand for fully developed, content-creating DJ personas/influencers who overshadow a large majority of their peers who are considerably less visible on socials and in press.

This is why I hold veterans like Surgeon, who throughout the decades has managed to maintain a singular position amongst his peers, in very high esteem. It’s a debate older than dirt, but I do feel that there’s been a shift in attention towards the new generation over the last few years. I hate the way it makes me sound, but I do think there’s a pervading sense of ignorance towards dance music history in the current electronic music landscape, and that the arguments in these debates often circle back to the influence of TikTok and its focus on short, compact formats.

As a music lover and a millennial, I got into dance music at a time when YouTube’s musical archive was an unprecedented archive. For serious DJs, there was a "treasure hunt" attitude when it came to hidden gems and rare finds that became almost a necessity. Fast-forward five years and I often feel like, apart from playing the instantly-gratifying evergreen tracks, the sight of new selectors digging through dusty crates and archives is becoming rarer. I’m generalising, as it’s always the case in dance music journalism, but I find it funny, this feeling of being stuck between two generations – between the earlier techno and rave generation, who "knew right from wrong" and idolised their ancestors, and the new generation, whose consumption of dance music and attitudes towards its history are rather different, arguably favouring the fresh and trendy.

In this context, I’d really like to hear what a 20-something, immersed in the currently trendy fast-paced industrial techno sound and brand-sponsored warehouse raves, would have to say about the new Surgeon record. Would they consider it boring? Too slow? Not energising enough? Is there now a techno sound for the old and a techno sound for the young? I would genuinely find it interesting to hear what the younger generation of techno lovers would have to say about the album, if only to get an insight into the clockwork of different perspectives.

3Phaz – Ends Meet

Cairo native 3Phaz’s sophomore album presents seven hi-tech head-turners that’ll put a grin on the face of any serious contemporary club head. The spiralling kinetic energy of his serpentine percussive workouts – a surgically reconstructed version of the working-class and folk rhythms of Shaabi and its "electrified" cousin Mahraganat presented through a global techno-bass frame – makes for some of the most exciting dark-hued percussion-driven dance music in recent memory.

Urgent and propulsive, subtle in relation to rhythmic dynamics and microtonal nuances, yet unforgiving when it comes to bassbin pressure, the track ‘Phlutes’, which I tried out in a club sometime ago, sounded 30 percent more impactful and three-dimensional than any other track played that night. The polyrhythmic gabber-adjacent banger ‘Shaber’ is another favourite, a weapon that can devastate any dance floor with its pounding distorted kicks and the synthesised flute-like melody floating above. Ends Meet, a painstakingly polished gem with all heat and no fillers, is highly recommended for fans of fellow Egyptians ABADIR and ZULI, and producers like DJ Plead, TSVI and others who focus their aesthetic on cutting-edge drum programming and Middle Eastern melodic modes. (For further studies on the Cairo underground, you can’t miss with last year’s fantastic compilation did you mean: irish vol. 2).

Air Max ’97 – Enthusiast

The three-tracker Enthusiast sees Australian trailblazer Air Max ’97 attentively plunging into "big room techno" territory while retaining his distinct "Air Maxian" crisp production style. Judging by his earlier outings which were characterised by a ‘fuck loopy arrangements, static sequences and 4×4 beats’ attitude, this one is a more functional, perhaps even ‘commercial’ effort, but does so in its very own, openly mischievous way. It’s about the little things, the unexpected changes in hi-hat sequences, ‘wrong’ phrasing and other small sonic events that make his productions stand tall above other techno tunes.

Much like his banger ‘Psyllium’ from 2021, the title track, dedicated to Berghain, takes notes from psy-techno to provide a backdrop for fist pumping peak-time euphoria, while the synths on ‘Carbon’ remind me of a 3.0 boosted version of the mid-2000 club hit ‘Posing As Me’ by Slovenian techno godfather Umek, minus the radio-friendly vocals. I’d argue that even Adam Beyer or Amelie Lens-calibre DJs could drop this one to mainstream audiences to great effect. Nevertheless, you still at least get one of his signature impossible-to-blend tunes, the heavily syncopated reverse-electro track ‘Work To Live’.

Zosia Hołubowska – Singing Warmia

An immersive experimental record by Polish sound artist, producer and queer activist Zosia Hołubowska, AKA MalaHerba, whose practice is rooted in Slavic folklore and healing rituals, Singing Warmia is a moving autobiographical meditation. On the album cover, a moss-infested forest sets the tone for the opener ‘Forest Of The Expelled’. Throughout the record, Hołubowska explores the relationship with their place of birth Olsztyn, the capital city of the Warmia region. It’s a psychogeographical audio essay for which the artist "sonified" various photos of their favourite places around the city, using atypical production tools. Its sonic material consists of spectral spatial sounds, controlled feedback, found field recordings and archival material, all of which are interwoven into a complex nexus of eerily saturated frequencies.

Most compositions conjure an uncanny atmosphere with occasional glimmers of hope. Such an example is the composition ‘I Don’t Know The Dialect Hard To Tell’ where Hołubowska’s echoey voice gives the impression of spring droplets falling lightly on a meadow in bloom, before turning into a storm. A more alienating experience is provided by the composition ‘Warmia Forever’. Here, Hołubowska modulates the singing and talking of a Polish woman from an old record into an unrecognisable, almost non-human dialect. The contemplative armchair character of the album, originally commissioned for a five-speaker system and later reworked, requires you to sit back and simply let your memories flow.

DJ Babatr – The Tribe (Baila)

Venezuelan raptor house (AKA changa tuki) pioneer DJ Babatr is one of the most influential unsung heroes of the current new wave of Latin American club music. Co-creator of the global underground hit ‘Xtasis’ alongside the Miami trailblazer Nick Léon, he still hasn’t received even half the credit he deserves. This is why this new archival EP, which brings forth seven tracks he produced between 2001 and 2005, when raptor house was at its apex, feels even more important. It provides an insight into the so-called Miniteca scene where other producers such as El Mago, Dr Sampler, DJ Lemad and others helped develop an exciting autochthonous sound.

This unique blend of Afro-Venezuelan rhythmic modes, Caribbean dance music and soulful UR-adjacent techno, with prominent female vocals, has only found a global audience almost 20 years later. The compilation is a beautiful time capsule and a perfect example of how music cycles work. Each track is brilliant, from the hilarious ‘Mario Vol. 3’ to Nick Léon’s flip of ‘All Right… Teque Teque’. I had the honour of hosting Léon in Ljubljana back in November and there was total pandemonium on the floor when he dropped a track which I only later realised was DJ Babatr’s old-school banger ‘Tribe (Baila)’ from this exact EP.

LUXE – Mineral & Moss
(Planet Euphorique)

I’m still yet to hear a bad release from Planet Euphorique, the label run by two of my favourite producers, D. Tiffany and Roza Terenzi. When it comes to iridescently melodic tech house and trance mutations or, if you wish, the sunny side of techno, there simply is no better imprint. Their latest outing by rising London DJ and producer LUXE keeps that winning streak going.

Somewhat nostalgic and yet very in-the-now, the EP sees LUXE travel through a dreamworld of gossamer melodies, minimalism and driving, four-to-the-floor kicks, save for the soothing dancehall-meets-Andrew Weatherall tune ‘Filaments’. Although quite ethereal and silky, tracks like ‘A Team’, ‘Peach Fuzz’ and, my favourite, the euphoric, new gen psy-trance banger ‘Pixie Swamp’ are excellent rave tools for an immediate rush of blood to the head. Looking for mood-boosting music for the coming spring days? Look no further.

Surgeon – Crash Recoil

There’s a recurring joke in my DJ circle that you can always save a bad moment in the club with a Surgeon production. Trust me, it’s true. Now, Anthony Child is back with his first techno LP in five years, and it’s a case study of a producer who has honed his sound, skills and tricks throughout his decades-spanning career – from the pummelling, distortion-heavy industrial of the Downwards-era to the robust modular roaring of recent years and forward into psychedelic techno. Extrapolated from his live set explorations from recent years, where he intentionally limited himself hardware- and software-wise, Crash Recoil isn’t a live album. He rather describes it as "Coil, King Tubby, Detroit Techno and The Cure all wrapped up with 30 years of DJing."

Considering the plague of 150+ BPM techno that has dominated the post-pandemic festival landscape, Surgeon’s return to the more traditional 130 to 140 BPM zone is a welcome breath of fresh air. It’s a classic techno record and a techno classic, intuitive in its rather straightforward sequences but enriched with subaqueous low-end frequencies and roaring modular rhythmic pulses – somewhat violent, yet very introspective. The record resonates with a lot, more than most techno records released in the last few years. There’s no pretence behind it, no enforced narrative, no bullshit, just a legend at the top of his game doing what he does best.

Various Artists – FINAL Taipei Compilation
(Sea Cucumber)

Tzusing has a thrilling new record on the way for PAN, but before that the Shanghai DJ/producer has another ace up his sleeve for his own label Sea Cucumber. FINAL Taipei Compilation thrusts us into the "underbelly of Taipei’s futurist music scene" and showcases five local talents, some more familiar like B E N N, who I discovered via the Belgrade label kepasaparadoks. a few years ago, and some representing the newer guard. The release celebrates the influential club FINAL, which has played a crucial part in Taipei’s nightlife over recent years, promoting local creativity. The five productions are unified by a tendency towards ominous atmospheres and harsh, noisy sound palettes, operating at the edges of deconstructed bass and club music. They all emanate a dark aura akin to the EBM-indebted aesthetic of Tzusing.

On ‘Of Faith’, B E N N goes all out industrial metal, with repetitive, sludgy power chords, rolling breakbeats and low-slung basslines. Similar associations are sparked in Sandy’s Trace’s ‘Beholden’. Here, pounding blast beats and riffs glide over massive basslines, almost like a club deconstruction of Iron Maiden. The doom-laden hoover synths and metallic beats of Meuko! Meuko!’s track, ‘Rebels Of The Neon God’, are even more punishing, evoking a profound sense of loneliness. There are no cheeky moments here, no ravey euphoria, and the track title even brings to mind the suffocating vibe of the classic Japanese mecha anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. An excellent entry point into the Taiwanese electronic music underground.


OSSX, the New Jersey trio consisting of Equiss and Lektor Scopes, along with Juke Bounce Werk associate Elise, are probably one of the most prolific representatives of the current US club scene. Their tracks appear all over mixes from all corners of the world, yet they still remain below the radar of most dance music publications. But just check their Bandcamp, and you’ll immediately learn about their dedicated fanbase, hailing them as GOATs of the East Coast club scene. The trio take inspiration from Baltimore and Jersey Club, garage, ballroom, house and breakbeat, and their unabashedly emotive, even sentimental, productions often have a tear-jerking quality, despite the fact that they are self-professed golden age hip hop heads.

Their new EP provides three club heaters, built around mostly familiar samples. ‘DONT LINGER’ sees the melancholy synth line from Fatima Yamaha’s tune ‘What’s A Girl To Do’ floating over Baltimore club beats. The sample used in the tranquil tune ‘BODEGA BREATH’ similarly feels oddly familiar too, although I can’t figure out its origin. That’s not the case with ‘DELI BREATH’, though, on which the trio brilliantly flips the evergreen vocal line from the ’90s classic ‘It’s A Fine Day’ by Opus III. And in ‘NO SLEEP’, they employ the iconic synth stabs and Maxi Jazz’s vocal cut from the era-defining Faithless hit ‘Insomnia’. As masters of reinterpretations and bootlegs, they can flip any sample, and edit or remix almost any given classic, and call it their own.

Průvan – Zlobivá

If the mention of bass music and sound design in the same sentence sends shivers down your spine, and producers like Pinch, Cocktail Party Effect and Walton rank among your heroes, the latest release from the Prague label YUKU should definitely be added to your digital shelf. Průvan is a US-born, Czech-based producer, who debuted on Pinch’s Tectonic Recordings in 2021 with the Pozor EP, a package of tempo-bending darkside beats for sound system workouts which attracted accolades from respected names like Barker and Kursa.

On his new EP, Průvan presents an even more gargantuan sound. ‘Freeze Out’ is a no-prisoners-taken bass-laden roller, transfixed by ruthless rave stabs and boasting an HD sound image worthy of any veteran producer with decades of practice. The self-explanatory tune ‘The Stomper’, built around hulking broken beats, takes the bass even deeper into the crust of the earth, bringing to mind images of lava flows from Werner Herzog’s documentary Into The Inferno, while the title track takes the form of a hardcore D&B roller with a more experimental bent. It’s the kind of bass music that is non-formulaic, in places even experimental, yet easily accessible.

Doctor Jeep – Push The Body

The Colombian label TraTraTrax has been rightly at the centre of discussions around contemporary Latin club music over the last two yeas, gaining momentum on the global club circuit and delivering plenty of fire. Its latest outing comes from New York producer Doctor Jeep, who’s been discretely dropping huge tunes for almost a decade now. My favourite release from him so far, Push The Body takes inspiration from his Brazilian roots, incorporating syncopated Latin-Caribbean rhythms from the realms of baile funk, samba and reggaeton.

Like a gym bro on helium, the energetic chipmunk vocal loop in the title track, a shiver-inducing mutant dubstep techno roller, commands you to "push your body." The syncopated hip-shaker ‘Rolla Dex’, with its circling samba-inspired snare drum rolls, is pure dancefloor funk, while ‘Reso Danz’, a slow-burn chugger boasting a rave-inspired synthline that cuts through the dembow beats, simmers the initial velocity to a pleasing 92 BPM. Factor in Hodge’s remix of the same track, a certified peak time anthem, Aquarian’s psychedelic "trance-meets-baile-meets-dembow at 164 BPM" reworking of ‘Push The Body’, and Sam Binga’s turbo-charged stomper version of ‘Rolla Dex’, and you’ve got a perfect EP.

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