by Irina Kotik
February was a fantastic month in the underground electronic music world with a gorgeous album, stunning releases, and amazing remixes coming from Khidja, New Jackson, Alex Niggemann, Roman Flügel, Frankey & Sandrino, Falke, Aera, DJ Koze, Amberoom and André Hommen.
We compiled the 10 best releases to keep you warm throughout the last month of winter.
"I am falling. I am drowning in beauty. Perhaps this is what It feels like to teeter on the edge of a black hole. Except it's art that is pulled by me into the void."
Almost a year after being heard on Map.ache's podcast for Kristijan Molnar's Crystallization Radio Show, the identity of Falke's 'O.N.G' is now revealed through the eponymous full-length album. Following two EPs and numerous compilation contributions including the "Family Horror" series, Leipzig-based producer Falk Gotz, a.k.a. Falke returns to KANN Records with a gorgeous 10-track package. Entitled 'O.N.G', it's a high quality, emotionally generous, and musically intelligent journey into the mind-bending world of Falke’s musical mind.
The album opens with a title track, 'O.N.G' which is genuinely expressive and emotional. It offers a luminous and deeply sensual roller-coaster ride of sonic emotions to wash over the listener’s mind, letting them glide on a wave of a dreamy melody, and beautifully hypnotic grooves. ‘O.N.G’ is a timeless masterpiece of modern house music.
Michael Mayer feat. Joe Goddard
For You (DJ Koze Club Mix)
Last year electronic music producer and Kompakt co-head Michael Mayer released a collaborative full-length album '&', a collection of tracks inspired by his back to back performances with each guest artist during 2016. The delicate and melancholic beauty, "For you", has already received a treatment from the Dynamic boss Solomun and Pachanga Boys. Now the mighty DJ Koze adds his magic to the two new versions of this tune: a club and Mbira mix with an instrumental version each.
The club mix is a mesmerizing and soulful rework with a relentless percussive groove, dark and twisted bass line, and the sublime vocals of Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard that harmonize perfectly creating an infectious dreamy vibe on the dance floor.
German production powerhouse Manuel Tur and his old time friends Adrian Hoffmann and Ramin Nouyan join forces for a new project Amberoom to celebrate a freestyle spirit. "Three mates and a bunch of machines jamming the day away with no intention but creating beautiful moments, dynamics and tones", is how the press release describes the philosophy behind this new project. The name of the project has a feeling of a magical Amber Room that was considered to be an "Eighth Wonder of the World" prior its mysterious disappearance during the World War II. Amberoom's new 'Rhit' EP carries a soothing, light energy that is both calming and bracing at the same time. Here is what label said about this gorgeous package:
"The spirit is evident from the off on Rhit: The mid-tempo funk in the percussion, the breath-taking organ blasts, the casually late piano line The track has a life of its own that could only come about through jamming and open minds. At points heads-down and tribal, at others epic, this really is powerful stuff. The power continues on Hover. The staggered woodblock beat that ignites the track gives no hint at what's about to come. Suddenly a dense fog of synths heaves into the mix, harmonically weaving with a yearning cosmic far-away feel that's just as much physical as it is emotional. Genuinely majestic. We close with Machine which sums up the beauty of the project; an homage to the hardware being pumped and massaged to create these fusions, its an awe-striking 11-minute episode of brilliantly drawn out deep, dubby funk. The guitar twangs and synth ripples creating a strong Balearic feel, the whirling, grainy FX and textures have a trippy appeal while the crunchy kicks keep everything real This really does take you away to special places. Magic, unique and powered by trueness: Let's hope Manuel, Adrian and Ramin return to this special place very soon because this is dynamite."
Frankey & Sandrino
Masterminds of creating magical moments on the dance floor, the German duo Frankey and Sandrino return to a mighty Innervisions with a massive “Wega” EP. Their emphatic signature style is portrayed impeccably at its core.
On the B-side, deep, mysterious and sophisticated “Polloux” takes the listener on an utterly gorgeous journey, beautifully underlying a Kruder & Dorfmeister-esque atmosphere, and delving into the depths of a driving bassline layered with woody percussions and rich, glassy synths.
After a blazing 2016, Fort Romeo and Ali Tillett’s Cin Cin label kicked off the new year with its flame burning bright. The spritely taste-making label exploded onto the scene last year with a philosophy to bring established and new artists together on split EP format releases.
The sixth installment of label’s split 12’s series welcomes Manchester-based Elliot Lion and Dubliner David Kitt, a.k.a. New Jackson who previously turned heads with excellent releases on Permanent Vacation and Hivern Discs. With a new solo album underway, David Kitt contributed two beautifully crafted tracks to the Cin Cin 06 "New Jackson/Elliot Lion" package.
"Electric Blue" is one of the two cuts served up by the artist. The musical inspiration behind this tune derived from David Bowie's "Sound and Vision" track from the 1977 studio album "Low". This beautiful and hypnotic reinterpretation showcases imaginative artistry to excellent effect with a deep and propulsive groove powered by layers of warm pads and cosmic synth textures. Managing to capture the mind-bending spaced-out disco vibe. this stunning version is an absolute guarantor of proper dance-floor destruction.
The next chapter in Hivern Discs' impressive catalog is delivered with the original, audacious sound design of Romanian duo Khidja. Since the Khidja project inception in 2010, the pair delivered two studio albums and many EPs on [Emotional] Especial, Love On The Rocks, and Bahnsteig 23. Their brand new four-tracker, “Impossible Holiday” package which was dropped via Hivern Discs is rich with exciting experimentation and musical evolution. “In all four tracks of ‘Impossible Holiday’,” describes Hivern Discs,” we find distinctive elements of Khidja palette recomposed under a new (darker) light. With it’s persistent guitars and syncopated drums, ‘Die Wilde Spirale’ sounds as German krautrockers experimenting with Trinidadian rhythms and inventing a new kind of industrial funk along the way.”
Silhouettes & Sparks (Denis Horvat remix)
Berlin-based producer Alex Niggemann is kicking off the new year with a huge release on Melbourne-based Balance Music. The six-tracker "Hurricane" EP is a massive unfolding of deeply emotional lyrics, smooth arrangements, and groovy rhythms. It features the two original tracks, the club version of 'Hurricane' and remixes from Swiss veteran Deetron and techno fast-rising star Denis Horvat.
Danish producer delivers his own deep and alluring interpretation of 'Silhouettes & Sparks' with its continuously expanding atmosphere, demanding groove and Fabian Kuss's seductive vocals shrouded in mystery. Proper dance-floor filler this one!
André Hommen inaugurates his new label with These Eyes. With an impressive collection of successful releases on Glasgow Underground, Systematic Recording, Poker Flat, and Objektivity, the German producer has now decided to launch his own label. Headquartered in Germany, the label’s mission statement is described as the “Underground electronic music accompanied by unique design and an uncompromising ethos”. The first release on These Eyes comes in the form of a two-track eponymous EP by André Hommen and includes the standout groove,”These Eyes” which has been road-tested over the past year. This classy house tune with its steady bass line, emotional synth melody, warm pulsating chords, and effective vocal samples is guaranteed to keep dance floors grooving.
Twist Your Arm (Roman Flügel remix)
Some Kinda Love
German electronic music mastermind Roman Flügel continues an impressive string of stellar remixes by delivering this gorgeous rework of “Twist Your Arm" from Ten Fè's first full-length album, "Hit The Light". The debut 11-track package was recently released on SOME KINDA LOVE/[PIAS].
To support the album release, Telekom Electronic Beats programme commissioned a 5-track remix EP, "Hit The Light - The Remixes", featuring electronic music veterans Roman Flügel, Ewan Pearson, UNKLE, Tom Furse of The Horrors, and Norwegian maestros Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas.
Roman Flugel’s version of “Twist Your Arm” is a slow burning gem where the synth gets smeared into dark and moody territory behind chugging beats, a swirling bassline, and widescreen deep piano chords.
Jigsaw Lovers Club (Aera Ambient Mix)
Following on from the release last year of ‘Chloe’s Dream’ EP, Russian duo “Panorama Channel” returns to Biologic Records for a sophomore release of “Jigsaw Lovers Club” EP that further defines their beautifully crafted sound favoring emotion and depth. The package comes backed with two infectious remixes by the Berlin-based producer Aera.
With notable releases on Innervisions, Maeve, Hivern Discs, RePublik Music Records and his own Aleph label, Aera has gone on to set a remarkable standard since his appearance in 2010. For this release we see Aera delivering two equally impressive versions of the title track ‘Jigsaw Lovers Club’. The ambient mix drips with emotions and captures the illusion of intense stillness with its icily bright undulating synth built upon a forceful, acid soaked groove.