Techno has been off the radar for many in the UK since the early nineties. Sure, the rave culture all kicked off from the imported sounds of Chicago and Detroit, and we also have to consider the formation of Warp in the north who had initial successes with their Bleep and Bass type stuff -- check out the "Leeds Warehouse" mix of LFO's eponymous track to hear an example -- but this was a much smaller scene compared to Acid House and Hardcore that dominated throughout 89-93. The whole hardcore continuum is pretty muddled and I could probably spend a lot of words on the fracturing of the different scenes, going through each splinter and their sub-splinters and discussing all the interconnects; but, suffice to say, techno never really played a major part in the underground dance music scene of the UK after Jungle and Drum and Bass began to take a foothold. It was always more of a European thing.
This has changed in the last few years as UK producers and DJ's have started to pay more attention to our cousins over the channel with many moving to Berlin -- the religious home of techno with superclub Berghain their place of worship. This pilgrimage (I'll stop with the cringe worthy analogies now, promise) has had a noticeable effect on the sort of stuff that is being produced back over in the UK as certain key players, such as Hotflush boss Scuba, are bringing across the Berlin sounds and filtering them through a lens crafted for tastes more suited to the UK scene. While not strictly on the straight-laced techno tip: the king of 2011, Blawan, certainly owed a lot to this movement. He emerged seemingly out of nowhere to dominate the scene with something completely alien to what had been heard before in clubs, crazy, driving, tracks that focused almost entirely on the drums and with a flair decisively aimed at moving feet on the dancefloor. He went on to sign with historic label R&S Records and after collaborating with The Analogue Cops you can certainly get a sense of the influence the European techno scene had on his productions and DJ sets. He was a big fish in a small pond for a while but now more heads are getting wise and starting to cotton on to that signature blend of European techno with snake-like, swung, Garage style beats.
This week we have two huge releases from Randomer and Tessela on two of the UK's biggest, get ready for a misnomer, underground labels, Hemlock and Punch Drunk. Randomer had a monstrous release on Numbers a few months ago with "Real Talk" and now he is charging out of the gates on Hemlock with two roughneck tracks that are oozing with menace and swagger as seen on "Scruff Box" as Randomer manically chops up a classic Roland drum machine and whacks it over a gritty bassline with a sprinkling of the ole' menacing vocals for bonus points. Similarly for Tessela's release on Punch Drunk we have again two tough percussive led tracks with the highlight for me being "D Jane" where Tessela had a proper clever idea to put whip crack samples in there. Fucking, whip cracks, man, and it actually works. I don't know how to say it other than both these EPs are mean, and cocky, without being in your face about it. This is some next level heavyweight business and you'd be out of your mind not to check 'em out. Randomer and Tessela aren't just biting on Blawan's style -- they have both stepped up and produced something that definitely is going to give him a run for his money. Both releases are available to buy as of today on Vinyl and Digital and you can peep snippets of the tracks below.
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