Sunday, 30 October 2011
Tom Trago's Voyage Direct series introduces Maxi Mill, a fresh young producer outta Amsterdam. Following a couple of co-productions with Tom on 'Steppin' Out' and '200 B.C', his debut belies a love of swinging syncopation and bold, heat-seeking synth sounds. 'To The Next' is a skillfully nuanced and spacious groover on the A-side, whereas 'Sun Rays' sets a rawer jack with punchy percussion and sharply contoured stabs. Bumpin'.
The fourth 12" in the limited MD2 series = three stinging warehouse jams from Mike Dehnert, a gift to the DJs, and to all fans of techno at its most no-nonsense and robust. ‘4.1’ hits hard, tracky and true like primetime Rob Hood, while ‘4.2’ is on more of a swaggering house flex, with nice pinched chords and craftily dubbed effects. Both are banging in their respective ways, but we think you'll agree the main draw is ‘4.3’, MD's ever-deadly drum programming combed back to leave room for an absolute lip-biter of a rave hook, gloopy arpeggios and icy, scything synth tones. Pure 'floor damage from start to finish.
Ohio's Mike Shiflet makes a welcome return to these pages with the first of two LPs for Type. He's been releasing music on a plethora of tape and CDr labels for a decade now, but really caught our attention over the last year with the tingling tonal hues of his breakthrough 'Llanos' CD and that split with KFW for Amethyst Sunset, which both revealed a matured understanding of patient, rewarding drone composition comparable with the likes of Fennesz, Kevin Drumm and Oren Ambarchi. Like the best of his ilk from the American noise scene, Mike has honed his art through countless… Read more
Slick sophomore release of electronica/D&B minimalism from Russian producer Oak, backed with a deft ASC remix. The original is all about concentrated micro-rhythmic tension, focused on whirring syncopation and ultra-spacious atmospheres recalling, to an extent, his fellow Russian producers Kontext or CoH. ASC's remix on the flip is all kinetic rhythm programming and swooning, widescreen pads. Then finally there's an unidentified remix, which drops you into a decompression chamber with emphasis on broad bass shapes and blooming atmospheres.
Curious new offering from the reliably curious Ash International, affiliated to Touch. It's a collaboration between American artist Leslie Winer - who you may remember for her cult 90s album Witch, a smoked-out, jazz-inflected pop record that's now regarded as a precursor to the trip-hop sound that emerged in Bristol soon after; she's also written lyrics for Grace Jones and contributed vocals to the music of Jon Hassell, Holger Hiller and Bomb The Bass - and Frenchman Christophe Van Huffel. Neither artist's past form gives you much preparation for the sound of Purity Supreme, a kind… Read more
2nd release from Surely Bassy Records, a new label for new, up-and-coming producers. Quantax debuts with two tracks of plush dubstep: the string heavy halfstep surge of 'Cinematics' on the A-side and the smokier symphonics of 'Who Needs Attack' on the flip.
Those horror movie buffs among you will no doubt already know the story about Coil and the Hellraiser score – but let me refresh your memory anyway. Esteemed experimentalists Coil were asked to produce a soundtrack to the 80s Hellraiser movie, but when it was submitted, as so often happens, it was rejected in favour of a more ‘traditional’ treatment. Turns out it’s happened again, as Raz Mesinai (he of Sub Dub fame) composed a score for a recent Hellraiser sequel only to have it rejected in a similar manner. ‘The Unspeakable’ is the result of Mesinai’s toils, and indeed should interes… Read more
Intriguing, psyched-out, "post"-minded ambient Techno from Red Stars Over Tokyo. It's a sort of amalgam of elements found in the likes of Container, Miles, Patten, CFCF and Diamond Catalog, drawing the ghosts out of busted and "obsolete" equipment to find an ethereal and haunting style of cyclically kosmiche, and mostly 4/4-based experimentalism, which could be fairly called Post-Techno, for want of a better term. Really impressive, this. Don't sleep!
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Impressive wintry song cycle from Reigns, painted for the most part in reserved yet vivid hues of piano, acoustic guitar and reverb. At its best, The Widow Blades really is chamber-pop of the finest vintage, skirting the border of romance and gloom, occasionally threatening to fall headlong into the latter (no bad thing). Subtle electronic interventions help create some of the most memorable tracks: we're particularly fond of 'Green Butter', which captures the mood of Bowie and Eno's 'Art Decade'. The cover art alone tells you what to expect: music to transport you right into the heart of an isolated, snow-capped woodland, with all the pleasure and unease that entails.
Ben Klock and DVS1 deal lean and sleek remixes of Joris Voorn and Edwin Oosterwal's latest Rejected findings. Klock's monotone Techno remix is kept tense and simmering, boiling up at the right moments but always holding back more than it gives away. DVS1 delivers two subtly contrasting versions; a grooving, trancey and bass-swung 'For Everyone' mix, and the more driven, knuckled-down 'For No One' mix.
Young Slugabed (he’s a mere 22 years old…) returns for a brand new EP of material, and rather good it is too. Moving away from the Ninja Tune mould of yore, ‘Sun Too Bright Turn It Off’ might be instrumental hip hop, but its as jerky and electrified as anything emerging from the West Coast. More experimental than FlyLo and less indebted to Dilla than most of his contemporaries, Slugabed seems to be experimenting with something very new here. It’s one part chiptunes, one part French electro house, one part US rap history and one part UK bass music. Somehow this all fits together, and the resulting collection is commendable.
The Michael Fakesch-cosigned vocalist Taprik Sweezee returns with this bumper pack of remixes reframing tracks from his recent ‘Poly’ LP. You might not have heard of many of the contributors, but the quality is high and finds the tracks swaying to the hiccupping end of the Brainfeeder/Fly Lo scene we all love right now. In between plenty of nods to dubstep, James Blake and odd-club sounds there’s just enough of Sweezees original tunes in there to give the album a rare sense of coherence and vigour. Surprising, given the number of artists involved, but then for all I know they could all be the same person… check it!
The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble’s recent single ‘Pretend’ (with Ninja Tune starlet Emika) was a startling example of the trio’s underrated musical landscape as they welded icy-cool jazz experiments with the atmosphere of a doomy cabaret and the pulsing 4/4 kick of Chicago’s finest. ‘Mr. Machine’ is the band’s second full-length and takes the pitch-perfect minimal shuffle of their groundbreaking debut and manages to sharpen it at the edges. The band have famously been described as Steve Reich crossed with Theo Parrish, and who are we to disagree, but the dance tropes h… Read more
Vakula returns on an enigmatic release for Shevchenko, rumoured to be an offshoot of Firecracker Records. A-side stirs a very canny soul sample into warm analogue drum patterns and fluid Detroit chords, sounding kinda like a more smudged and sensuous Omar-S production. Flipside is a more aquatic Beatdown number with ice-tipped hi-hat triplets and a seductively gloopy bottom end designed to drench the 'floor.
*Offers 16 seriously killer excursions into sand-blasted Sahel psych-rock, Afro-Funk and Blues from the top drawer of the amazing Analog Africa label* "For its commemorative 10th release, Analog Africa indulges in Burkina Faso, one of the jewels of the Sahel…The rise of a post-independence urban middle class willing to invest in the Burkinabé arts spawned a cadre of singers, bands, orchestras and, most importantly, competitive record labels who all played their part in ushering in a golden age of music in their landlocked nation during the 1970's - a decade marred by political instab… Read more
Sunday, 16 October 2011
One of Monkeytown's finest electronic funk specialists turns out four new cuts, backed by experimenting Modeselektor and Anstam remixes. With a colourful, woozy melodic charm akin to labelmate Siriusmo, the Californian delivers morphing electroboogie on 'Blackout', brilliant Dilla-meets-Bochum Welt vibes on 'Next 2 Last', and a killer, slow-jammin' aquatic boogie move with '2in5four'. Sticking with the humid digital vibes, Modeselektor roll off a badass, morphing mix of 'Bleep Bloop Brrrmmp' and Anstam get heavy with the dextrous HipHop lean, remixing 'Saccharin On Top' to sound like some stray Gescom or Ae cut. Strong twelve.
*Upfront Exclusive* A crucial companion of new material to Dominick Fernow's devastating Bermuda Drain LP, Time's Arrow leads with its title track in extended and edited forms. It's a crisp synth-wave kicker, with oddly grooving drums and layered melodies nudging Prurient further into dance music climes than ever before. 'Maskless Face' is classic Fernow catharsis - essentially guttural screaming across a burned-out industrial backdrop - and 'Slavery In The Bahamas' harks back to Prurient's classic Black Vase set in its effortless navigation of hypnotic loops and caustic power electronics.… Read more
BNJMN serves Rush Hour with a second LP of unique productions on 'Black Square'. His sound here is brilliantly versatile; whether he's on a swinging House tip or a steppin' electronica flex, there's a consistent sense of compositional virtue which marks him out from the crowd. It's all heavily imbued with a debt to vintage '90s IDM and Ambient Techno but executed with a cyber-simulant freshness which feels more up-to-the-moment, taking House and Techno templates and revitalising them with ultra-crisp digital tropes which might not satisfy the analogue purists, but so what? There's highlights t… Read more
The future arrives in the form of Kuedo's hugely anticipated debut album. Since quietly disbanding the Vex'd vehicle he formerly operated with Roly Porter (whose solo debut LP also landed recently), he's been moving towards a slower, ornately detailed sound with his Kuedo project. But he's now re-emerged with a stripped down and luxurious variant on 'Severant', clearly referencing Chicagoan Footwork and 808-driven Coke and Road Rap, with strong traces of Vangelis-style synth opulence. To be fair it's a simple enough formula, but executed to often stunning standards. Compared with his previous reco… Read more
Damu has been hotly tipped in various quarters of late, and with good reason: his swinging house sound has one foot in soundsystem culture but is most strongly informed by the technicolour romanticism of post-Neptunes R&B and even all the synthed-out techno-psychedelia coming out of the US right now (Laurel Halo, De'eon, etc). Though he's already had releases on labels like Local Action, the young Manc-based producer is relatively new to the game; still, Martin Clark's Keysound isn't a label to beat around the bush and now, having issued Damu's debut Ridin EP earlier this year, they present his first … Read more
**UPFRONT EXCLUSIVE** UTTU return with a massive strike from Dubbel Dutch, backed by a Nguzunguzu remix. For us, their edits and remixes aside, 'B Leave' is the heaviest cut in the Dutch arsenal, a dextrous Rave weapon with equal measures darkside Hardcore and hypeR&Bass swagger - just lethal, really. On a more cooled-out remix, Nguzunguzu hold it back for a slower, rolling revision shades away from Jam City's devilish, tom-driven aces. Strong support from 1Xtra's DJ Q, Bok Bok, Sinden, Mickey Pearce. BIG tune!
Carsten Nicolai is hardly a slouch in terms of his release frequency, but it feels like a rare treat to hear the Raster Noton boss exploring the jerky rhythmic variations he does so well. ‘Univrs’ is a followup to 2008’s ‘Unitxt’, and has an equally lofty and academic sidestory, but we don’t really need to go into that. The fact is that this might be Carsten’s best full-length since the genre-numbing ‘Transform’ back in 2001. Yep, ten years ago – and while he’s had some cracking releases since, few seem as perfectly crafted and dangerous as this. The gorgeous humming melodies of ‘Xerrox’ and the… Read more
Kahn makes his eagerly anticipated return to Punch Drunk! The young Bristolian has consistently impressed with diverse and skilfully arranged wares also released on Box Clever and A Future Without, but this is probably his biggest statement to date. A-side 'Illy' aims for the hypercoloured echelons of Joker or Gemmy, riding ascending arpeggios and body-tucking triplet syncopation guaranteed to boost the rave. However, perhaps more to our tastes, 'Tehran' offers more militant thrills with martial snare rolls, intoxicating Mid-Eastern motifs and mighty, rolling 808 bass hits.
Ok, we're trying to stay relatively stush about these new Vatican Shadow releases at the risk of over-egging them, but really, this one is just f**king incredible. Like the 'Washington Buries Al Qaeda Leader At Sea Deck 1-3' series, he's drawing inspiration from the whole "did they/didn't they?" situation with Bin Laden earlier this year to make some of the darkest gear we've ever heard. Like the bastard savant offspring of John Carpenter, Michael Diekmann and Aphex Twin (don't know how that would work, but hey), he's in F19 nightflight mode on 'Prime Minister Defiant As … Read more
Mesmerizing baggy bumps with an ounce of LA glamour, fresh in from the 100% Silk set. 'Uhh Uhh' is Pharoah's debut single, paying tribute to the cement floors of the Haç and the sandy beaches of a phantasy Balaeria circa 1987. On the front you've got the swaggering title track, full of electric pianos, slow-motion strobe synths and urging acid bass arranged with an eye-fluttering psychedelic subtlety, while 'What ???' pushes the tempo up and unloads some swirling, honking sax-work like some stray Members Only edit. Rotate her for 'Flutter & Moan', a proto-prog-House jacker with entrancing arpegg… Read more