Duran Duran Duran joins Power Vacuum’s rogue gang of time-served ravers with Duran, his first new release in three years.
To be honest we thought the joke had died but he’s still pushing glitchy thwaps like it matters, recalling memories of messy ’00s nights when the glitch got so strong there was only one option, to huff as much K as possible and enter another dimension until the bouncers chucked you out. This one’s giving us strong flashbacks but we haven’t any K to hand.
Members of Junior Boys and Caribou go twos up on a mutant batch of rhythm-driven synth experiments
"Despite knowing each other for 20 years coming from the same hometown of Hamilton ON and sharing the stage countless times Jeremy Greenspan and Taraval (Ryan Smith) have never recorded anything together. Greenspan is known mainly for his work with Junior Boys and Jessy Lanza and Taraval is a longtime touring member of Caribou, but both have released several 12” and EPs of electronic exploration over the past few years. Greenspan has released a series of singles and EPs on Dan Snaith’s Jiaolong label while Taraval has a pair of 12 inches on Four Tet’s Text Imprint.
During the winter of 2017 Smith returned to his hometown to record a series of experiments with Greenspan at his recording studio. The result is this debut EP/Mini Album.
Inspired by synthesizer minimalists like JD Emmanuel, Cluster and John Carpenter, the two attempted to create a type of dance music with hardware that was indebted to their influences but did not feel intrinsically retrogressive. The idea was to make a type of raw synthesizer music that could be listened to beside the hypermodern techno of Pearson Sound or Actress. A strange confluence of sound that sounds part Krautrock synth label Brain records, part Hyperdub.
Each of the five tracks on the EP were edited down from much longer recording jams which were done with hardware sequencers in real time. The recording was done completely off the floor with no overdubs or added material after the fact."
Following on from the first ltd edition black label and the recent volume two “Keysound Sessions Anthem,” the “C-troit” EP is a 12” from Blackdown, with Dusk joining on co-production duties.
“C-troit” is a name revived from a lost, unfinished track by Blackdown in the very earliest “roots” years of dubstep. A hybrid of the words “Croydon” and “Detroit”, it’s a heuristic for the place between Greater London’s bass-lead music and the halcyon synths of early Detroit techno. Now that there’s a growing body of dark, 130bpm-ish rollage, from within the Keysound camp and crews beyond (Jelly Bean Farm, Durkle Disco, Swamp81, Version & Kaizen), the EP seeks to throw warm light into the shadows, with the tracks “Godlike Power”, “Clueless ft Dusk” and “Halcyon Skies (Rollage mix).”
The EP’s closing cut “The Greatest Concert (RIP PMC)” was written by Blackdown in the days immediately following the passing of his father. The first two instalments in the Rollage series shared a common dark, tense mood but explored divergent energies levels and percussive possibilities whilst constrained by the same sound palate and tempo (130bpm). The tracks in the third edition, however, retain the same tempo, share a common pad-lead mood and percussive approach, but are not cut from exactly the same soundbank. As ever, all the 12”s in the Rollage series are designed to be mixed together as one flow.”
Iceland’s Bjarki hits a vein of icy trance techno and braindance on his 6th release with Nina Kraviz’s трип label.
On the A-side he reins in the braindance tics of recent releases to get back on the boom boom with moody, deriving effect in Thodn Med Skit a Master and then at an old skull AFX angle with the brooding, off-coloured harmonics of This 5321.
Turn over and you’ll find him mashing those styles with breaks and grumbling acid a la Astrobotnia on Galopinn Muninn, before erecting the steepled braintrance dimensions of Fimmtudgur 16-2 to sound like a a night lost in the smoke at Havoc or in some Hackney warehouse.
One of our favourite projects from the Mordant Music cabal, Wayne Maxted’s Thanet returns with a 3rd ambient missive from the cleft heart of UKIP land in deepest Kent. Perfect sounds for touring lay-bys and trucker caffs, kicking shingle and stirring pale tea while reading your outdated horoscope in a well thumbed copy of the The Mirror.
“Thanet’s ohMgoing cosMic odyssey itches deep space sofa mores via back garden felt-recordings on this spanking new 2017 suite…the Roehampton hub continues to shuttle the MMind skywards, unsettling planetary dust via YouTube & traversing localised voltage with a dexterity straight from the vine…Wayne Maxted is still receiving bona fide calls from the system…fuck those ‘Planetarium’ pianos…IBM”
Optimo and friends’ Glasgow based EBM/wave clubnight turned label twist between vintage styles and their antecedents with Now And Then, placing vintage peaches next to contemporary beauties following 2016’s So-Low compilation.
It’s great to see Ian Hicks ov Soft Metals’ absolute girder False Awakening getting some shine here following a slightly under-the-radar delivery on the VIY tape for Clan Destine - Glasgow connex in effect - while Luxos’ very Lena Platonos-sounding Vihreä Ovi is a new one to us, originally appearing on a soundcloud-only compilation from Huntleys + Palmers in 2016 and now on vinyl for the first time.
Tending to the archives, they pull out Carl Matthews’ pulsating synth flight As Above, So Below [ICR, 1982] for your mental elevation and acceleration, and again their exquisite taste turns up another little known blinder with The Schmutz Sisters’ La Folle, which was first released on the obscure 150 BPM Records from Switzerland in 1988. It’s just a wee bit fxcking jaw-dropping, like.
The Bomber Jackets update their slyly twee suburban indie gripes with dashes of musty (double) garage and artisanally chopped and screwed grit. RIYL Micachu & The Shapes, Pheromoans, Ariel Pink...
“Kudos To The Bomber Jackets' is the horrifically wry new album from The Bomber Jackets. Following on from 'Lister,' their debut for Alter, 'Kudos To The Bomber Jackets' has a restlessness that takes broader strokes. It finds and holds a register of meandering hope by setting the perverted detail of domestic minutiae against an acutely self-conscious melancholy that cynically daydreams its way into an awkward middle-ground between profundity and platitude.
Following the stop-start formation that plagued the group's early days, the three-piece of Russell Walker, Daniel Bolger, and Sian Dorrer remain intact. Both Walker and Bolger will be familiar from the ticklish post-punk of The Pheromoans, whilst Dorrer has a varied CV with groups such as Plug, and Ravioli Me Away, and with involvement across London DIY nodes. At times they give it a bit of a desaturated garage bump, other times there's the throb of marching mono-synth wave.
'Deranged Sauce Mum' comes off as a chopped and screwed hardcore, though with Walker's vocals it's less gurning glee and more furrowed brow, it should be said. There are very many disparate elements across 'Kudos To The Bomber Jackets' that come to give the new album a kind of uneasy grace, which is perhaps the groups singular force, the unchaining of an ingenious familiarity that's dizzyingly bizarre and equally bleak.
Lyrically and musically their new album contains the traces of many surfaces both interior and exterior. Its dream-like qualities are formed through a kind of musical frottage, always preserving the trace of the hand, arriving at its surreal heights through fidgety non-sequiturs of an aesthetically acerbic persuasion. In this way it never quite replicates anything that you feel to be present in its parts.
'Kudos To The Bomber Jackets' indexes petty despondency for better days, imagining some unforeseen and unremarkable circumstance that makes up for it all. Welwyn Garden City's former shredded wheat factory is on the cover. Redevelopment plans for the site are in progress.”
The Total Freedom-endorsed Hitmakerchinx FDM package lands double heavy on Night Slugs X Fade To Mind’s first cooperative release since DAT Oven’s Icy Lake back in 2014, dispensing the Brooklyn-based producer’s mighty 17 track payload of FDM, or Flex Dance Music - the soundtrack to unfeasibly dextrous Flex dance-offs in New York and elsewhere - as demonstrated by Rafael Chinx Martin on the promo video for Andy Stott’s Butterflies!
“This material was created as a soundtrack for high energy dance battles. Hitmakerchinx explains:
“This is a collection of the music that started everything for me. It means a lot as we’re effectively releasing my past. Night Slugs and Fade to Mind are the reason that I DJ FDM, they perceived my sound in a new way and they’re responsible for bringing my music into a club environment. I’ve learnt to love my old material again, thanks to Bok Bok who has fuelled this project to completion.”
Brooklyn born, Los Angeles-based Hitmakerchinx is a producer, DJ and dancer and a pioneer of Flex Dance Music aka FDM. A sound rooted in performance, FDM is a genre born of a fierce dance battle community based in Brooklyn. Put simply, FDM is to dancehall as EDM is to pop - raw riddims with chopped up vocals, piercing laser bleeps and heavy, aggressive drums. The nature of the style - chopped up loops and samples – means FDM can remix anything. Hitmakerchinx got involved with flexing through a love of reggae and an aptitude for dancing back in 2004. Although he’d been producing since age 13, it was in 2009 when a fellow dancer inspired him to start making music tailored for flex battles. The following year, his track ‘Earthquake’ was featured in the fifth Step Up movie and caught the attention of Fade to Mind’s Total Freedom. Since then, Hitmakerchinx has been producing, soundtracking flex performances, and dancing on stage with Rihanna as part of her ANTI tour, often to his own official remixes.
Featuring productions from 2010 to 2017, ‘Shades & Monsters: FDM Classics’ showcases the depth and diversity of Hitmakerchinx. Rumbling dread basslines contrast with pitched up Desi vocals, disembodied acoustic guitars, trance synths and a decidedly emo sampling tendency. For Night Slugs and Fade To Mind, it adds up to club perfection.”
Optimo Trax pay dues to their roots with reissue of Robotiko Rejekto’s EBM/proto-techno hybrid Rejekto, now backed with a new, slower edit by Frenchbloke. It’s a special one for the label, so we’ll let them explain:
“Optimo Trax 30 celebrates a double 30 year anniversary; the original release date of “Rejekto” and 30 years since Twitch started dj’ing. In 1987, Twitch, who wasn’t known as Twitch yet, picked up a copy of “Rejekto” at Glasgow’s then numero uno import shop, 23rd Precinct. He was smitten.
Shortly after that he got his first ever dj gig and played “Rejekto” in his first ever dj set. Nobody danced to it. He kept playing it and still nobody danced to it. Eventually he gave up playing it, but never stopped loving it.
A few years ago he felt the time was right to try playing it again and this time people danced to it. In fact, people loved it and would ask about it and shriek in delight when they heard it. There is often a lot of false nostalgia talked about in dance music and how it “was better back in the day?”. Well, in some ways it was but in many it wasn’t and 30 years later it feels as if perhaps ears are more open, or perhaps “Rejekto” was just ahead of its time?
From Germany, written and produced by Ra-Hen and Talla 2XLC, Robotiko Rejecto’s “Rejekto” was the inaugural release on the Techno Drome International label. With a powerful and seductive vocal sung in Romanian it has latterly been categorised as EBM / Techno but at the time didn’t really fit into any convenient genre. Twitch called it Electrobeat.
To celebrate this 30th release on Optimo Trax, the 12” comes in a special sleeve designed by Katie Shambles and Andrew Beltran. As well as featuring the original classic “Perfekto” and “U.S. Dub” versions this reissue features a slo-mo cover version by long-time Twitch friend and ally, the mysterious Frenchbloke who was the only other person he knew back then who also loved this wonderful record. Robotiko!”
Karen Gwyer returns with 'Rembo', her first full LP for Don't Be Afraid - a propulsive, functional affair dotted with colour and narrative, a record that calls firmly to the night...
"Live performance is where Gwyer's ideas come into gradual but vivid fruition, with tracks often evolving over "five or six shows" before reaching the studio. Throughout 'Rembo', dozens of shows and endless stolen studio hours have informed 38 minutes of uncompromising body music.
"What I'm doing is trying to challenge a certain way of thinking", she explains. "I feel like, without it being said, I get treated as a warm up act for DJs. And I also feel like when I go and play, I want to disprove that notion. I'm standing there for an hour, and I don't necessarily know what's going to happen. I have a loose idea, but I'm definitely working the crowd. I'd like people to shift their thinking in regards to what producers are doing, and to acknowledge the fact that there's a lot of decision making happening on a second-by-second basis, and a lot of it is improvisational."
Throughout her youth in Michigan, with Detroit on the nearby horizon, the city's time-honoured musical heritage slowly sank under Gwyer's skin. First through public radio, late night transmissions and endless cassette recordings, then on the life-changing local rave scene.
"Before the internet came along, you were listening to the radio, and you knew who the DJ was, but you had no earthly idea who the records were by", recalls Gwyer. "You just listened to the music, and you didn't listen to the people. And because you didn't ponder their personalities, you weren't engaged in the process. And I loved it, it was pivotal to me. I still have records on tape, and I have no idea who made them. I lie awake at night thinking about how am I ever going to find out what that track is? I have a snippet of it in my mind, but how will I ever know?"
'Rembo' then, is in some way a tribute to those transformative moments caught on tape. And while the pressures of raising a young family means that Gwyer has fresh pairs of young ears to potentially inspire, instead, this is a record that calls firmly to the night; an album to transport both artist and listener to dark, sweaty rooms, to shared escapism and unexpected moments of electronic transcendence..."
This album is completely nuts and brilliant - Mhysa is in possession of a totally compelling voice and production style, feeding into a sound that’s prone to intuitively explore and reassert the limits of what we know as R&B, electronica or modern soul in 2017. One of the best things we've heard this year in any genre and a total no brainer if you're into anything from Klein to Abra to Grouper. So good...
West Philly’s avant-R&B up + comer Mhysa makes a big impression with fantasii, her first album proper following dispatches with NON and a lauded mixtape alongside chukwumaa as SCRAAATCH for The Fader. Think Klein’s freeform R&B structures riddled with Rabit-like production tics, and you’re in grasping distance of the fractious but idiosyncratically coherent styes inhabited by this highly intriguing addition to the vanguard of new music from the fertile margins of American music and society.
Against a refreshing general lack of broken glass or gunshot samples, the self-described ‘Black queer femme cultural producer, sound designer, womanist + Diva’ animates swirling, impossibly balanced structures with a tearaway imagination, keening from vaulted, pitch-shifting gospel in Special Needs Intro to a multi-dimensional, abstract grime cover of Prince in the course of 11 songs.
The Klein comparisons are apt, the pair share a unique perception of R&B and church musics as a gateway to other, dreamlike dimensions. From the way she appropriates the ecclesiastic psychedelia of physical church spaces in the reverbstorm of Glory be Black to the rugged ambient inversion of R&B’s usual warmth in the 6minute highlight Bb, or undermining the conventions of club music in the A-grade anti-bangers Strobe and You Not About That Lyfe, she offers a particular example of the contemporary, young, Black and queer experience.
No doubt, Fantasii is a vial addition to the canon of boundary pushing and resetting music and politics also espoused by Elysia Crampton, Rabit, ANGEL-HO or Chino Amobi - we urge you to check this one out if you wanna grasp one of 2017's most rewarding albums.
Osiris have the rare honour of hosting a typically sublime Burial remix on the B-side to Deep Summer, Simon Shreeve (Kryptic Minds) aka Mønic’s melancholic and dusky industrialullaby.
Perfectly measured for the pensive atmosphere of summer 2017 in a Brexiting UK, Mønic’s Deep Summer courses ghostly R&B/folk vocals thru an arid scene of knackered, worn-down drums and keening harmonic pads, barely but stoically keeping its head up against its impending conclusion in a cannily metaphorical narrative arrangement.
Trust Burial, then, to extract and amplify some sense of beauty from the reserved anguish of Deep Summer on the B-side, opening with a filigree collage of seagulls, windchimes and pads recalling the “better days” of ‘90s summers, before lone voices sardonically echoes the sentiments of Nigel Farage (say it like garage) in the recurring phrase ‘we don’t need noone else’ against a rhythmelodic moire of maribas, pealing sax and queasy subbass squirms, perfectly capturing the lucid sleepwalking momentum and frayed socio-cultural fabric of Britain right now in the gauziest, impressionistic terms, replete with an updraft of balearic guitar in the closing stages perhaps predicting our mass exodus to a Ballardian super-city along the mediterranean coast.
Benidorm, you’ve been warned.
2nd album from Danish synth-improv duo Videodrones, dives deeper their brand of throbbing synth themes from the goriest movies that never was.
"It’s easy to hear the starting point of Videodrones: From italian composers such as Fabio Frizzi, Marcello Giombini, Riz Ortolani - or even Morricone & Alessandroni at their most industrial. But Videodrones adds a touch of previously unheard madness to their Giallo-themed synth-gasms. Based largely on improvisation, Videodrones tosses and turns - it’s like the thing is ALIVE: leaving slimy trail of electronic musical styles in their wake: there’s toxic levels of italio disco, german kosmiche musik, new age, even some stabs at holy grails of 70’s and 80’s pop.
The record culminates in a Synth-proto-doom track - Nattens Hævn (Revenge of the Night): too weird to live, yet too rare to die. Videodrones improvisations are far from boring: chopped into smaller bits the album is of a suite-like nature - keeping the odd, jagged energy of improvisation, every part adds to a whole, larger narrative. The result is a suite-like walkthru, often changing pace, dropping notes or drifting in scale. The images Videodrones convey is collectedly strangely solemn - almost uplifting at times, in their maddening state of constant synth flux."