In 2017 we weren’t really eager to listen to the same old 4/4, big room techno, dreary and unimaginative, worn-out tech-house styles ; while many residents and DJs continued to capitalise on their old tricks and glory, there were those in the regional (semi)underground who brought something fresh and new to the game ; here is a short-list of our most cherished discoveries and releases which have redefined how we danced and fought for our piece of exotic “otherness” ; explorational, daring and avant-leaning in the vast sea of repetition club culture is today.
Compiled and reviewed by Toni Milenkovski and Marko Milićević.
LP & EP
1. Warrego Valles – Location Off (Kamizdat)
With “Location Off”, you’re in for some serious treat of 80’s throwback DIY industrial/minimal synth by this Slovenian duo of DJ’s and producers Nina Hudej and Nina Belle. Hande Kader boldly breaks the silence with a bleak track as an hommage to the murdered Turkish transgender activist. Crunchy glacial electronics, pulsating drum beat and hushed “lady-in-the-radiator” female vocals float apathetically in a cloud of hypnagogic haze before culminating properly with a Surgeon-esque sinister acid techno banger. I’m a natural in the dark, too.
Warrego Valles on Facebook
2. KӢR – Mramorje (Yerevan Tapes)
Bane Jovančević, Drugstore’s program manager, under the alias of Kӣr indulges in trance-inducing Fourth World excursions where quasi-granular synthesis unites with Middle Eastern polyrhytmic drumming in a solemn Sufi whirling ceremony, occassionally haunted by the echoes of his “Byzantine techno” musings. Is Muslimgauze smiling down on us from heaven ?
Kӣr on Facebook
3. Alleged Witches – Serve The Spirits (Meda Fury)
In the aptly titled “Serve the Spirits” Slovenian Christian Kroupa offers us a slice of his postglobal club mashup of hissing electronic bleeps and exotic-flavored samples echoing distant palm-wine cultures set over a rolling hypnotic house groove. Stripping the more ominous voodoo-hoodoo layers of Black Merlin and panic-stricken tribal GQOM intensity, dancing to the lush, sensuous party banger, Witches Mark, is a pure delight.
Alleged Witches on Facebook
4. Random Logic – π
Pioneers of Slovenian techno, Miha Klemenčić and Gregor Zemljič, have refined their aesthetic over years ; if “music is math” doesn’t sound exciting or convincing enough, rest assured π is full of surprises. While the album is also available as a audio-visual experience, their complex and irregular analog sound is anything but four to the floor. Most insane tracks here are Uni•Q and ASFOUR• : both are tapping Berlin techno influences, clicks and cuts eccentricities , microhouse proggery, early electronic influences, weird looping, obscure (poly)rhythms. Groovy, cerebral and imaginative techno is a rarity these days ; Random Logic are scientists who can dance to it quite vigourosly.
Random Logic on Facebook
5. Organon – Collected
Slovenian producer Sandro Šmarčan is a true magician of lush and sophisticated dub techno, active both under his moniker Organon and in duo Quasar with Slovenian sax/clarinet/piano/synth player Mario Marolt. On this release he collects some of his comp tracks appeared on ODrex Music, Deep Electronics, SoundDesigners Techno Gate. Highly consistent in structure and tone, Collected weaves subliminal maze of properly chilled deep techno excavations, oneiric ambient-scaping and late night cosmological ruminations. A slow burner to soothe your mind and soul.
Organon on Facebook
6. Mikadroid – 101211 (Parabola)
Mika Technika is a very versatile and productive electronic producer from Novi Sad. In recent years he has devoted his time not just to the humble cause of techno (solo and in a duo with Vladimir Aćić aka Avoid), but also dealing with more cerebral experiments and mixing IDM and Breakcore sounds with his always epic melodic style. 101211 is a tape release for the already cultish Banja Luka label Parabola, specialising in regional techno talent; here he finds a perfect balance between his more pounding, hard-hitting style and hypnotic and melodic bell-like tones, rhythms and reverberations, ending up with one of the most memorable old-school techno records of 2017.
Mikadroid on Facebook
7. Lifecutter – Death(c)rave (Kamizdat)
Domen Učakar doesn’t really want us to leave the club unscathed ; Death(c)rave sees the Slovenian producer irreversibly unleashing the fury of his noise and industrial fixations on his most difficult and beligerently distortion-fueled release yet. Hypoxia and Asphyxia are the most danceable slices of this expert-lobotomizing of a superficially “dark” zombie-land which is club culture today. By introducing a meta-narrative which revolves around the Freudian concept of todestrieb Death(c)rave voyeuristically peeks in on our secret fears, anxieties and contradictions and summons an altogether very challenging and grippingly complex techno experience. Try not to lose your breath while listening to it.
Lifecutter on Facebook
8. Dinko Klobučar – Gradient Series Vol. 1 / Vol.2
Holy repetition! Gradient Series One & Two find Croatian producer Dinko Klobučar embracing the minimal techno aesthetic with the vigor of an early Jeff Mills. Built upon repetition, the steady pulse doesn’t stretch ad infinitum but gradually evolves, undulating towards a cascade of tinkling bell-like tones, evocative of a micro-gamelan orchestra.
9. Tapan – Tarantella (Malka Tuti)
Belgrade-based duo Tapan (Nebojša Bogdanović and Goran Simonoski), staying true to its name, makes use of drums and various drum patterns as a central focal point around which it builds layers of pummelling bass tones and hypnotic washes of modular synth oscillations, delivering a percussion-heavy techno affair which is both kosmische and tribal.
Tapan on Facebook
10. Filip Xavi – Drone Behaviour (Decoder)
Resident DJ of the club Drugstore, Filip Xavi, returns with another top-notch release ; otherworldly haze and atmospheric spaciness of Eternal Sequence are replaced by a more statelier sound. The insurgence of acidic rhythms over barely audible hissing drones is surgically precise (but not sterile), and D-UI has to be one of his most masterful minimal techno cuts yet ; this mix of unassuming industrial techno factory clanking and muted acidic sub-bass reverberations is startingly hypnotic.
Filip Xavi on Facebook
1. Andrija – Opus 303
Possibly the most epic track we’ve heard during entire year and pure unadulturated fun/insanity ; with its wonky and tribal acid house rhythm slowly regurgitating spaced-out loops and samples, young avant-garde techno force, Andrija Čugurović builds a fortress of weird improv techno sounds culminating in quite a messy climax. Mastered really loud, this is Roland TB-303 with revenge.
2. Y/6543 – Route XII (Shivering Light)
Igor Kačavenda has always been an eager explorer of cosmic depths and nether regions, as well as alien(ated) tendencies within mankind. On one of his his most clubbish (yet again almighty atmospheric) techno tracks to this date, Route XII, he launches a pounding, rocket engine-combusting space test – what is left of the astronauts in the cosmic debris – a (face-exploding) shivering light? is yet to be discovered. Jackhammer.
Y/6543 on Facebook
3. Zen Terminal – Une Mission Éphémere
Milos Dimitrijević terminates his zen-monk quietude with his new (and possibly one-off) project. Previously operating under his dub techno moniker IIIV and being a member of Belgrade’s revered Live Soundtracking ensemble, Old Soviet Dogs, on this track he pushes forward his love for early Chain Reaction and Vladislav Delay releases by patiently sculpting a proggy microhouse soundtrack for Piotr Kamler’s dazzling animation “Une Mission Éphémere”. In this quirky narrative a robot is born and starts discovering the world around him. There’s all sorts of happenings and some sugar cubes appearing from nowhere – great metaphor for ZT music which is simultaneously very detailed and slowly melting, just like a sugar cup.
4. Borgie & Malbeku – Mythology in Numbers
Bosnian electro wizard Borgie and vocal sorceress Malbeku join forces on one of the biggest hits released on regional club music label Adriatiko in 2017 ; unlike the success of the most popular bosnian producer right now, (also) dub-leaning Hibrid, they have more murky downtempo action in store for us ; siren wailing and glossolalia of Malbeku’s vocal mantras is paired with somber, chilly atmosphere Borgie creates with his rhythms and atmospheres, leaving us in the ghost forest wandering between apathy and ecstasy.
Borgie on Facebook
5. Matej Rusmir – Holik
Very young and perspective Belgrade-based producer Matej Rusmir has a specific flare for experimentation ; his more refined and eccentric tendencies come into play on his track Holik, in which he fuses minimal techno and slow, glitchy rhythms, plays spacy and trippy VSTs over delay effects, imbues them with samples and weird organic textures. Between releasing his first Waxx Trax release, appearing at Live Soundtrack event , DJ-ing at Drugstore and producing his new techno track Trem he’s one of the biggest hopes for the future right now.
Matej Rusmir on Facebook