The Darkfloor 2011 review, part 2.

Trying to do a small list of great electronic music in 2011 is hard. Really hard.

It’s hard enough if you only play one niche style of electronics, let alone what I try to attempt on Mantis Radio and in my DJ sets. Nevertheless here we are. I’m having a go.

Following on from where Part 1 left us back in 2011 and later than originally intended (thank you Mr Illness) here is Part 2 of my Darkfloor 2011 review.

10 more of our faves from 2011
Emptyset – Demiurge [Subtext]
Anodyne – Menace 808 [earwiggle]
Perc – London, We Have You Surrounded [Perc Trax]
Death Grips – Exmilitary [Third Worlds]
The Fear Ratio – Guv Three [Blueprint]
Rory St John – Noughtsmith [Singularity Recordings]
Roly Porter – Arrakis [Subtext]
Mad-Tek – Terra [Digital Distortions]
Death Abyss – Come As A Reaper For Thus You Will Sow [Rodz Konez]
Sturqen – Praga [Kvitnu]

Emptyset – Demiurge [Subtext]
So. Let’s start with Emptyset. The reductivist collaborative project between James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas. Their 2009 debut album, the self titled Emptyset just raised the bar so high.

Although releasing together as Emptyset since 2007, it was their ’09 debut that had a massive impact on me. So when I saw news of Demiurge their followup LP I was grinning madly. Released on Subtext back in May it didn’t disappoint.

Rhythmic noise never sounded so good. They also had the EPs Avichi and Altogether Lost see release on Chris Liebing’s CLR. Essential.

Absolutely, seriously, essential.

Anodyne – Menace 808 [earwiggle]
Many new labels joined the masses in 2011. One such Irish one was earwiggle, a natural progression from the Dublin clubnight of the same name. Their inaugural release saw anodyne lay waste with the mighty carnage that is Menace 808. A 140bpm heavy synth electro jam like few others.

Perc – London, We Have You Surrounded [Perc Trax]
Much has already been written about Perc and his label the naturally named Perc Trax this year. Although both Ali Wells and his label have been at their craft since 2004, 2011 saw them launched proper with everybody wanting a piece of the action.

Wicker and Steel, Perc’s first long player, was released at just the right time. In the midst of the London Riots and a summer of protest it almost became the soundtrack. Although not intended as such, London, We Have You Surrounded draws comparisons to the riots and the situation as it was in August.

it was never meant like that. The title refers to the Home Counties and the way they surround London, and people coming into London to get a new life or go clubbing. It’s nothing to do with violence.

The album is a refined fierce. Industrially powered sure but headspace industry. And if you haven’t already you need to get on his live showcase session for Mantis in September.

Death Grips – Exmilitary [Third Words]
One act to really blow me away this year were Death Grips. They played in London and I witnessed them perform their UK debut. With all the lights that could be turned off, off.

An hour of brutal, hard, unique, on message, raw awesome blew my head apart. Their freely available mixtape Exmilitary is one of the freshest, rawest, heartfelt even pieces of work I listened to this year. And I listened to it a lot.

There are few who sound as honest as Death Grips can. Start with Guillotine and go from there.

The Fear Ratio – Guv Three [Blueprint]
Only released in November but from the first listen I knew that Lightbox (the first album recorded together as The Fear Ratio from heavyweights Mark Broom and James Ruskin) would turn out to be one of the best. Whilst both have long established histories in the world of techno, The Fear Ratio wasn’t just more hypnotic, dancefloor fodder. It is so much more.

Taking bass music’s sub, adding in some 90s style deep Warp IDM synth work and moving around the bpm: Lightbox delivers one of the freshest works in techno this year. Whilst the Berghain thing is all well and good; innovate don’t imitate, doesn’t the saying go.

Standout cut: Guv Three.

Rory St John – Noughtsmith [Singularity Recordings]
Voidloss’s label Singularity had some great work released this year, one of my favourite pieces comes from Rory St John with Noughtsmith; industrial heavyweight granite slab techno.

If you like your Ancient Methods, you’ll love Noughtsmith. Come the mid point this goes up a gear with that synth. More. More. More.

Now would be a great point to also mention the superb Voidloss Blood Rage Mix of Death Grips’ mighty Guillotine, which you can grab for free.

Roly Porter – Arrakis [Subtext]
Another artist and album that got hyped hard in 2011 was ex Vex’d member Roly Porter and his debut solo effort Aftertime. At least until Kuedo, the other half of Vex’d released his 80s Bladerunner inspired epic Severant on Planet µ.

We’re talking about Aftertime though; taking away those hard broken beats that made Vex’d such a force to reckoned with but keeping all the dark, dank, deep discourse atmospherics and industrial texture.

This is brutal epic ambient draped in widescreen high definition greyscale, case in point: Arrakis.

Mad-Tek – Terra [Digital Distortions]
Originally a production duo between Joby Osman and Guy Fforde; Mad-Tek closed the year off with an EP that is 100% spot on.

December saw their label Digital Distortions release their 3rd original material EP: Midnight Oil. A 3 track bass weight electro-break-step collection of serious dancefloor sound.

The other notable point was that these three tracks were produced solely by Joby, with Guy continuing to focus on his deeper post-beat Gyu solo material and his label Coral Recordings. Joby has also been playing around with the deeper side of sound this year as his BRAWLcast mix One for the Road proves.

Difficult, very difficult to select one track, even just from three, but I’ve gone for Terra. It was the first of the three I heard from the latest collection and it’s the one that from those lush swaying synths sends goosebumps up my spine. It’s that kind of a track.

A beautiful serene calm before the beats build in. Bold swinging bass wells up from the deep before the track switches itself to 11 and thunders across your aural passage. It gets heavy but it keeps it smooth and deep at the same time. Dark progressive breaks on a knife edge. Sublime material and one of the best tracks yet from an already admirable and impressive back catalogue.

Death Abyss – Come As A Reaper For Thus You Will Sow [Rodz Konez]
Shortly to be appearing on Mantis Radio with an exclusive live session, Death Abyss had already released two EPs – The Hermetic Antagonist and The Mechanics of Dissent/Descent before their much salivated LP Dominate Through Will dropped in November.

Eleven industrially powered, fractured granite slabs of broken techno, taking in the sonic sub force that some of the better, darker and deeper dubstep cuts have done over the past few years.

Gritty, distorted dank growling electronics assault you like a lazer guided sledgehammer. This is anti-sunshine sound for a mature audience; Come As A Reaper For Thus You Will Sow just one cut from an album of depth, space and thud.

I’d been waiting for this album for many months and when I finally heard it it exceeded my expectations by a mile. Darkfloor through and through.

Sturqen – Praga [Kvitnu]
David Arantes and César Rodrigues are Sturqen. A production duo from Portugal who’s electronic experiments together push the sonic envelope a whole lot further than most. Their showcase for Mantis Radio back in 2010 blew our audience, and my mind, away.

Praga is their second LP, coming 2 years and two EPs after 2009’s Piranha. 2011 was a great year for the duo where they won in two nominations of the Qwartz Electronic Music Awards in Paris – as The Best Artist and Discovery category for the 2011 released EP: Peste.

Describing their music the duo, in their own words try:

…to explore a vast amount of sonic intensities where a techno-trance universe is combined with a constant noise attitude.

And something beautifully brutal is the result. Praga occupies that space between challenging, abstract, enduring, intelligence, experimental sound, producing an exquisitely listenable experience. Where so many go too far off into harsh noise seemingly for the sake of it, resulting in brash statements of intent rather than quality sound from accomplished artists.

There we go then.
So with those ten making a total of twenty tracks (with Part 1 of course) I guess that makes up from my point of view at Darkfloor and Mantis Radio; 2011 in sound.

I would like to make a special mention to a bunch of other tracks and releases that make an impact on me in the past 12 months.

In no particular order:
Threnody – The Science of Silence LP [UK Trendz]

Planetary Assault Systems – The Messenger LP [Ostgut Ton]
Spatial – Spatial LP [infrasonics]
KidChameleon – Red Light Queen [On A Break]
Lifecycle – Chatter (Ion Driver remix) [Ricochet Records]
Dr. Schmidt – Gunhed [Maschinen Musik]
Om Unit – The Timps [Civil Music]
Mazzula – 2 Note Wonder [dub]
George Lanham – The Cambridge Offensive [dub]
C. Mantle – L Mink (the wee djs remix) [Acre Recordings]
Oyaarss – ibumetins sagurusai dveselei [oyaarss]
Mark Archer – Frequency (DMX Krew’s Asylum Seekers remix) [Balkan Vinyl]
Ben Frost – Unbreakable Silence [Bedroom Community]
Sam Kidel – String Loops part 3 [A Future Without Press]
Modeselektor – Evil Twin feat. Otto Von Schirach [Monkeytown]
Jon E Alpha – Dreadfire []
Cova – Lacre []
Logical Disorder – Help Me []
Si Begg – How The Internet Ruined Your Life [Addictech]
Slam – Alien Radio (Harvey McKay remix) [Soma Recordings]
Headhunter – Clone [Black Box]
V/A – Codex I [Acre Recordings]
Dom & Roland – Big Bang LP [Dom and Roland Productions]
Robert Pain – Black Queen [Black Queen]

A huge thank you to the artists I’ve showcased on Mantis and all the producers who’s work I’ve played on air and in my sets, not to mention on my iPod and home system.

Welcome to the end of the world: 2012.


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