Bittersweet, crystalline hybrids of IDM + R&B with ambient AI ideas...
“Welsh producer Odeko first appeared on Mr. Mitch’s forward-looking Gobstopper imprint with the A.I. influenced EP “A History With Samus” in 2016 immediately snagging a “producer to watch” tag from Fact magazine and a premiere at SPIN. In early 2017, his second EP “Digital Botanics / Construct Conduct” arrived confirming his sound and setting the stage for him to start working on this – his debut album “Rose Tinted Vision Implant” that is set in a post-Ballard, post-Gibson, post-Miéville, alternate reality. “Rose Tinted Vision Implant” sees the Bath-based producer creating a cutting edge sonic world inspired by “speculative fiction, time/reality shifting stories and dystopian shit.” The entire record is structured around, and expands upon his passion for the “future,” underpinning the music via a underlining narrative.
“Rose Tinted Vision Implant” starts with “The User” (aka the listener/ protagonist depending on your perspective) of the ‘Optic.Rose’ going through the process of getting an implant is made by a mega corporation, (think “whatever Elon Musk’s legacy will be 200 years from now” says Odeko “not necessarily evil or good, just a world owning superpower.”). And then we follow “The User” who has unfortunately received a bad egg through stages of that devices degradation. Sonically we’re there to observe. We open (“Anomaly Detection”) with a precursory scan and move onto installation (“OpticRose_0_1_Installation”)
through to a battery change and a recalibration. From this point, the ‘presence’ begins to take over the implant and the tracks verge into a more cerebral range.
Odeko notes “its a bit of a satire on corporate brands pushing these great products that everyone is obsessed but that are detrimental to both the world, and how we perceive reality. Our relationship with social media and tech could go down a dangerous path if we loose sight of things. I’m going quite far here for the sake of the concept, but things like VR, AR, the want for body tech, mixed with our desire to be connected, emotionally, digitally, physically, wirelessly could lead us to a world where everyone has implants, or some kind of tech built into them.”
Sonically its a record that explores a post-IDM, post-Grime, post-Ambient, post-Glitch, post-Retro-House, post-Instrumental Grime, take on electronic music, like Gobstopper’s Mr. Mitch himself and his label mates Orlando, Lloyd SB, Tarquin, Clu, rAHHH and Loom, Odeko is making a kind of post-genre music. Yes its a cerebral concept under the music but as popular shows like Black Mirror have shown – critiquing our new future can be fun, unusual and highly rewarding. Welcome to the world of Odeko”.
Ryan Lee West aka Rival Consoles presents his new album ‘Persona’.
"Recorded at his studio in south-east London, ‘Persona’ benefits from Ryan’s exploration of a dynamic production process that combines analogue-heavy synthesisers, acoustic and electric instruments with a shoegaze-level obsession with effect pedals. A greater depth of emotion and confidence can be heard across the album. From the deconstructed movements on ‘Unfolding’ that starts the album with a snap of delayed snares, the apocalyptic drones of the title track and thundering drums in ‘Phantom Grip’ to more restrained ambient feels of ‘Dreamer’s Wake’, ‘Rest’ and ‘Untravel’.
The latter transverses six beatless minutes of undulating melodies representing “a limbo space, a feeling of ennui, of not really ever being known to others and others not ever really being known to you”. ‘Be Kind’ reveals a musical connection with fellow Erased Tapes artist Nils Frahm, with its minimal approach and improvisational nature. On the more complex sounding ‘I Think So’ Ryan aims to replicate a colour collage with sound. Like a musical kaleidoscope, a flashing and convoluted mass. Written after he saw Slowdive perform live last year, ‘Hidden’ builds from whispers to landscapes of controlled noise. In an interview with XLR8R magazine, Ryan explains: “once you start trying to make a sound loud, then you turn your back on thousands and thousands of sonic possibilities. One of the best things to do is to start a track with a really quiet, weak sound.” T
aking this idea to its ultimate conclusion, ‘Fragment’ closes the album as an innocent sounding ambient piece, almost nursery rhyme like, yielding time for reflection on how the persona has changed. ‘Persona’ follows the success of a series of releases — the ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Sonne’ EPs, long player ‘Howl’, and 2016’s mini album ‘Night Melody’ — that saw Ryan mature into what Pitchfork has called a “forward-thinking electronic musician with his own ideas about sound”. Atypical of instrumental-electronic music, Ryan has achieved a signature sound that’s unmistakably identifiable as Rival Consoles. Going beyond typical electronic music production, Ryan defines it as “songwriting with an electronic palette of sounds”.
Serbian bosch-master Scalameriya teks no prisoners with the caustic vocal chop ups and bouncing bass drums of Hellzone Megapunk...
Then makes sure there’s no bodies to identify with the immolating fire of Crucible, and sees himself off with the sacrificial EBM of Let My Flesh Be Your Sacrament.
Drug Cvltvre shakes out two salty blighters for Fluf’s 12th release, following their aces from Calum Gunn, Phil Julian, NYZ and a ruck of new players.
They are the most uncompromising cuts we’ve heard from Drvg Cvltvre, with only a steady kick drum maintaining link to his previous work while a torrent of bright, dynamically caustic electronics gnaws on your nerves with a satisfyingly unpleasant amount of dissonance.
The grand architect of deep house presents his first Mr. Fingers album in 24 years with Cerebral Hemispheres, an immersive, 18-track, 1hr 40min suite of peerless, jazz-and-soul-infused sophistication.
Arriving in an era swamped with dilettante deep house dabblers, Cerebral Hemispheres firmly and coolly reasserts the sound’s source to the hands, minds and machines of Chicago’s Larry Heard, whose output including and since Mystery Of Love  has defined the sound as we all know and love it.
With Cerebral Hemispheres Mr. Fingers returns prodigal to remind everyone - and most importantly the youngers, if they’re listening - that deep house is a vibe, not an effing colouring book template. Over the course of his 4th album as Mr. Fingers, his first in any guise since the mid ‘00s, the maestro effortless takes in a spectrum of styles under the deep house brolly, spelling out a sound as clearly influenced by Latin jazz fusion as mystic Jamaican music, and even Indian raga or Portuguese fado. It feels silly to even have to type it, but it’s basically not just a swing beat with jazz chords and pads, as too many others would have you believe.
In this open-ended and elevated style, Mr. Fingers lives up to his moniker and the album’s title, hustling a chimeric fusion of feelings and left/right brain waves with outstanding results describing a narrative arc from mellow, blue riches in the likes of Cuty Streets and the lush downstrokes of A Day In Portugal, to the heart-rending soul pulse of Crying Over You and the lilting skank of Cerebral Hemispheres at its core, to oscillate between acidic, electrified Afro-Futurism and his patented midnight atmospheres up to the close.
Opal Tapes wrest an unusually emotive suite of studies in alternate tunings from Bálint Szabó (12z) in succession with their Leaper  release and his previous work for Nico Jaar’s Other People. Think Arthur Russell’s Tower Of Meaning unravelled and riddled by Ashley Paul and NYZ. It’s arrestingly impressive stuff
“It is profoundly moving and as compelling as anything you’ll find around at the moment." (Brian Morton - The Wire Magazine)
Following his widely-acclaimed record Leaper, Gosheven leaps again and continues the never ending quest he started, to share the hidden treasures of alternate tunings. Bivaq is a natural continuation of Leaper: it is still an utterly personal record that places vulnerability in the heart of the things while it shares end-of-the-world spirits and creates unusual atmospheres of parallel universes. It is an imaginary shelter where one can feel comfortable, far from the maelstrom of the outside world, and can take a rest, collect the intuitive and creative powers while gazing at the Earth.
Almost half of the tunes were triggered by the extensive work with a group of contemporary dancers-choreographers and later became the score of the group's still running performance "Deeper". Not surprisingly the music served as an essential part of this ungraspable visionary work.”
Yagya’s divine dub techno opus reenters orbit via Delsin
Reminding older ears and seducing a whole new raft of lugs to its pillowy atmospheric pressure systems. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d imagine the description “dub techno by an Icelander” to sound like.
Strong survey of the current Italian crop, including highlights in Alessandro Adriani’s Drexciyan trip, the tentative ambient ephemera of Chevel, and the mercurial beauty of Catarina Barbieri
“Flowers from the Ashes is the latest multi-artist project to bear the acclaimed Stroposcopic Artefacts imprimatur. There is a sensibility of decadence and corroded grandeur etched within its four album sides, reminding us that historically "decadent" times have nonetheless resulted in some of the boldest acts of individual and collective creativity. Like the 'floral' theme that has remained a consistent feature of S.A.'s graphic presentation, the music here equally presents fragility and intensity in a way that really drives home this visual metaphor for good, while still holding out the promise that similar creations will be seeded in the near future, Though many of the artists involved have set of residence outside of their native Italy, all contribute here to make a captivating portrait of a shared spirit and cultural memory.
The album opens with “Errori,” deceptively fragile sonic ornaments crafted and suspended in space by Blackest Ever Black artist Silvia Kastel. This is followed closely by the mellifluous, warming glow of percussionist Andrea Belfi’s “Spitting & Skytouching,” and then by the resolute electric bass patterns and luminous fog of “Lux et Sonus,” from Eeri label head Marco Shuttle. Hospital Productions alumnus Ninos du Brasil open the B-side with a similarly dense, amorphous construction built from tribalistic chants and rhythmic patterns, to be followed by Mannequin label boss Alessandro Adriani’s “You Will Not Be There For The End,” showcasing his distinctive take on the ‘paranoiac breakdance’ aesthetic of classic EBM. S.A. veteran Chevel rounds out the first record in the program by interlacing several percolating synth lines together into a richly conversational piece.
The journey continues with “Starving The Mind,” an undulating mini-epic from S.A. founder Lucy that is animated by his signature balance of seductiveness and concentration. The bright, biting acid synth tones of “PRV-HH3-X”, by Lory D, then takes a sharp right turn into an invisible metropolis ruled by reflective high fashion and hidden intrigue. The imposing architecture of “Virgo Rebellion,” designed by modular synth futurist Caterina Barbieri, acts as an excellent companion piece, and sets up the closing “4G” from Spazio Disponibile co-founder Neel - a crepuscular serenade that accurately sums up much of the foregoing activity.”
Keith Kenniff’s output as Goldmund has established him as one of the preeminent composers of minimal piano-based ambient music alongside peers like Hauschka, Dustin O’Halloran, and even Ryuichi Sakamoto, who himself once described Kenniff’s work as “so, so, so beautiful”.
"Hyperbolic as it may sound, Goldmund’s newest collection Occasus may be his most exquisite yet. Where his previous recordings trod faithfully and sincerely on paths of dimly lit, polaroid-esque nostalgia, Occasus deepens the undeniable aesthetic that was hard-won over eight previous Goldmund albums, while expanding the palette to include desultory clouds of synthesizer and a tastefully distressed analog sheen.
The word Occasus means downfall, end, or the rising and falling of heavenly bodies. The title is apt in more ways than one: while the emotional tone of the album denotes bittersweet feelings of conclusiveness, it also perfectly soundtracks the quiet moments when we look up to the sky, and humbly relearn the smallness of our lives as cosmic objects churn slowly overhead with bewitching indifference. Occasus feels deeply personal, private, and hushed yet simultaneously grand, colossal, and profound. Remarkably Kenniff is able to capture micro and macro with equal fidelity.
Tangential to prior Goldmund material, there are a few moments of Occasus that feel dark and menacing like “No Story” and “Thread”, both of which broach urgent paranoia, and provide a refreshing counterweight to the idyll typical of the project. Kenniff’s music has always been unquestionably gorgeous, but seeing it set against an occasionally manic backdrop makes the moments of light shine that much brighter. Even when elements of Occasus play by the rules harmonically, they tend to unfold with a satisfying level of rhythmical disregard. “I like mistakes, I like when things don't go perfectly,” says Kenniff of his wabi-sabi ethos, “I do have a tendency to want for things to be perfect and precise, but I have to also realize that a lot of things I like about music and art are very rough and impulsive, the slight imperfections that give something or someone a unique voice.”
To that end there are few artistic voices as distinct as Goldmund’s. Using only a few simple ingredients (piano, synthesizer, reverb, and a little more) Kenniff’s sound has become so universal that you'd be forgiven for not knowing who it belongs to. Knock offs be damned, every Goldmund recording is cut from an inimitable fabric woven out of emotional intelligence, honesty, vivid imagination, and skillful restraint. Occasus is another strong chapter in an ever more gratifying catalog.”
Another ICE sureshot, ‘Mello Magic’ compiles totally charming private press synth-pop boogie from ‘80s session player Tommy Mandel. Sleazy, seductive, confessional, innovative, and crammed with colourful hooks and surprises, it’s a must-have for fans of everything from Ariel Pink to Prince, Drexciya and Egyptian Lover
“Tommy Mandel’s “Mello Magic” on Invisible City Editions is a compilation of personal synth-laden pop songs created between 1980-87 in NYC. His professional work as a keyboardist and vocalist found him on stage and in the studio with many of the 80s greats from the Clash, Todd Rundgren, B-52s, Violent Femmes, The Ramones, Tina Turner, Mark Ronson, Dire Straits and Bryan Adams.
While offstage and out of the major studio sessions, Tommy wrote in little books, made animation films and hooked up a massive amount of synthesizers, sequencers,microphones and recorded songs like diary entries. He self released almost 20 CDs, cassettes and one Self Titled 12” Ep. Each song selected here is stunningly simple, lush, desperate, playful, and harmonic, touching on disparate trangents like Brian Wilson, Egyptian Lover, Michael Shrieve,Holger Czukay, Ariel Pink, YMO, AOR FM West Coast Rock, Arthur Russell, Martin Denny, Peter Gordon, Drexciya, Prince and Private Issued New Age Boogie. Tommy recently jokingly coined his music “corporate ambient” and and it all shouldn’t work, but somehow he manages to effortlessly make each song a Tommy Mandel song - DIY, homespun,personal, stunning, and not too serious. This is perfect pop, charming, sincere, infectious and the work of a humble, good hearted, romantic savant.”
Sarah Davachi’s quietly stunning first side for Sean McCann’s Recital Program. It arrives in the tremulous wake of the widely acclaimed 'All My Circles Run' album to offer a sublime reaffirmation of Davachi's genius for anyone who’s followed her work over the last few years, and also acts as an unmissable entry point for curious newcomers, especially anyone smitten with the methods and effects of music by Eliane Radigue, Kara-Lis Coverdale, or Mark Hollis.
Sarah’s work has been intimately concerned with the phenomenology of sounds and the way in which, once “released” from the player and instrument, they move in chaotic and unpredictable ways, effectively taking on a new life of their own. In order to exert some control over those factors, it’s perhaps understandable that Davachi's music is most often slow and the result of ostensibly simple gestures, but thanks to her preternatural attention to space and tone, those careful motifs generate a complexity of overtones that have become her coveted secret ingredient.
After alchemically turning her hand to whatever instrument is within reach (she’s been known to turn up at venues without an instrument and improvise on unfamiliar gear) for previous releases and shows, Davachi opts for the Mellotron and an electronic organ on Let Night Come On Bells End The Day, rendering five variegated improvisations that feel vulnerable yet somehow increasingly assured in her perceptive powers.
Most impressive among them are the gently coruscating chamber figure of Mordents, which makes an imperceptibly glacial transition from legible motifs to a gorgeous blur, and the heartbreakingly funereal drift of Buhrstone, especially when it really starts to keen out of the lines. But that’s not to say less of her hyaline beauty At Hand, or the time-melting dimensions of Hours In The Evening - as with all of Sarah’s work, they’re just aspects of the same, amazing whole.
Tri Angle’s difficult grown-up phase continues with the freakish gurns and theatrics of Dear God by mmph, yet another debut lamb to the label who introduced The Haxan Cloak and Evian Christ to the world at large.
Dear God harnesses five refluxes of instrumental electronic emotion, each swept up with a sense of dramaturgy and heart-eating passion that’s akin to a form of silent theatre, focussing all attention on the actor’s face expressions, which sonically contort from alien madness to despair, anger and ravenousness.
Washington D.C.-based Flautist, Sami (Yenigun) ov 1432r and NPR, steps to Max D’s Future Times with two lean and fresh aces; springing the corkscrewing drums and avian flute chatter of Planing up top, and tucking that hustle deeper with the more blunted, dubbed-out shake of Sickos underneath.
Presence Absente is Saåad's third release with Hands in the Dark, after Orbs & Channels back in 2013 and Deep/Float the following year.
"Based on the French duo’s 2017 live setup and improvised sets, this new album is the quintessence of their music: raw, deep, murky, fascinating. The band's sound and experimental songwriting have matured over the course of their albums, and with this new offering we feel that they have truly blossomed both in form and in content.
Their brand of experimental drone takes on a new, distinct shape and, in the space of 38 musical minutes, sends out a message in a bottle to our western world, a foreboding message of the communication breakdown and the effacement of our personal identities that we find ourselves living through as a generation. But it is also an ode to nature with tones of hope, a desire to share and to return to basics, before it's too late. It all makes for an arresting listening experience.
Présence Absente is a delicate, personal album which marks a major turning point in the pair's substantial discography.”
TVO and SPR vacillate dense, visceral and sublime electronic reflections on society’s current sh*tstorm for Nina & Good News’ V I S label
“Difficult times call for difficult measures. What is the point of an artist in dark moral times? Is art an impotent affectation or can artists use their work to reflect and magnify bigger concerns for the scrutiny of an audience? Over two sides of tape, two artists take very different approaches to how to respond to a fluid, uncertain time. Not political, but motivated instead by an existential moral absence at the heart of events; one reaches introspectively, the other at the broader canvas.
SPR's helplessness and frustration at reality being bent to the will of those with their hands on the controls of perception pushes outwards as an overwhelming, out-of-control amalgam of tiny layers; the truth being the sum of many untrue parts, a congruence of facets each being seen by others as a dark reflection of their own prejudices, a mirrored facade reflecting self-evident truths and withheld bias erupting in a tumult of uncertainty; lancing the boil of the unreliable narrators. And on the flip, TVO literally tries to spin gold from the basest raw materials possible; in this case, a week's worth of output from the alt-right news website Breitbart.com, with all the constituent parts of his piece emanating in one form or another from the site, be it the raw code, image files, hidden audio files or the text itself (vimeo.com/234060174). Can something so irretrievably riddled with venom and falsehood be alchemically redeemed, and in doing so shine a penetrating light on the existence of such widely consumed falsehood?
Whether dark mirror or golden light, to say nothing is to passively accept everything; to say something - to reflect something - is to be a voice, however small, in defiance”
From Bogotá via Manchestá, Florentino brings serious dancefloor heat to his Mixpak début with an anthemic, vocal-heavy set of dembow drum break mutations enhanced by signature laser-precision production and guest appearance from Barcelona’s Bad Gyal.
Building on the examples of two thrilling 12”s for Swing Ting and remixes for D∆WN and Kid Antoine, Fragments also explores personal themes of introspection, heartbreak and melancholy hinted at in those previous releases, but with a new level of arrangement and production detail that poises both the EP and Florentino for worldwide impact.
His stunning Por Ti link-up with Bad Gyal exemplifies this upswing as Florentino’s strongest vocal composition to date, while the effortlessly seductive Mentirosa catches a sublime blend of freshest reggaeton and UK-styled production more commonly heard in D&B, and the sultry 2 Late (Don’t Call) is practically a Latinate take on Ciara filtered thru nightvision goggles, with Seductora giving a proper, raved-up sting in the tail.
So damn strong. Massive tip!
Completing the 2nd Volume of NON Worldwide Compilation, the pivotal label gathers 14 diverse cuts from new and well established family members such as Elysia Crampton, Why Be, and Blackpunx.
It could hardly be a more mixed bag of vibes, ranging at its extremes from Blackpunx ferociously overdriven Death Grips styles on DROPTHEPIN to cut-ups of a B-ball game and dissonant chamber music in Pit Of Self by Cities Aviv, while dancefloor moves come on strong in the form of Alienation of Affection’s gristly banger FetalTissueTrafficking, Why Be’s bumping marimba workout Creased, and the doom Armor Riddim from Pantoo.
Strongest moments belong too Elysia Crampton with the sawn off Dembow drums gyrating in Rainbow Twilight Theme and the emotive synth gestures of The Black God Cries Sometimes by Lamin Fofana and the almost Lonnie Holley-like elegy Mother Losing a Child by Simpson.
A charming take on Arthur Russell’s A Little Lost
Performed by Stephen Black (Sweet Baboo) and Paul Jones a.k.a. Group Listening, and taken from their forthcoming album; Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works Vol.1.
Lapsus Records follow their Pye Corner Audio EP with an intricately variegated album of rave breaks, electro and choral synth arrangements from Gacha Bakradze, who’s previously released with Apollo and Cin Cin in the past 12 months. RIYL Second Storey
“Word Color” is a cinematic arrangement of captivating melodies, rhythmic experimentation, textured landscapes and micro-vocal samples. Gacha has once again reinvented his musical ideology, bestowing it with mood defining authenticity and excitement, through superbly and dextrously programmed rhythms and harmonies. Songs like “Leaf”, “Oneself” and “Stray” travel into ethereal wastelands and are ambient soundscape pieces replete with nuances and unexpected twists. “Word Color” also makes room for beats, with the low pulse of jungle rhythms in “The Prayer”; IDM and electro fusion in “Word Color”; and even the sound of hi-tech breaks in “Saphri Rocks”.”
AnD shelve the kicks for a minute and prang out under their Shadows alias for Opal Tapes
“Brutish, noise-inflected modular machine music from the Shadows duo of Andrew Bowen & Dimitri Ploumpidis (AnD)
Unlike the big-room sound of their usual hard-techno as AnD, Shadows explores a hinterland of radioactive waste. The six tracks within cover free-form experimentation and more propulsive fare as geiger-rhythms shell outward caked in liquefying synthesis (Pulsar, Waveshaper).
Complete malfunction is achieved on some tracks as fully bugged electronics scream away in derailed union (The Arrival, Galactic Traveller) and near intelligence is found amid the toxicity in the ugly purring of "Cuthands" and closer "Badman" which calculates a primitive digi-dub smeared and smudged.”
Pan Daijing lends a cyber punk pop pucker to AS Chaos, the first signal from AS Scanner since their AS Truth mixtape.
Radiactively buzzing electro riffs, mechanical trills and Pan’s shouty, warped vox add up to something best compared with SOPHIE meeting ATR at a fetish club.
The Kingston/Manchester axis comes correct with a killah family affair from Equiknoxx and Swing Ting.
On the nice ’n nasty Rum & Buckfast Riddim, Rtkal, Shanique and Fox trade bashment commanding bars in a mix of classic but up-to-the-second party vibes.
The third in an ongoing series of remastered archive releases on Fonolith from Neil Scrivin - producer behind Phono Ghosts and Meatbingo.
"'Geek Upmanship' combines digitally processed guitar with intricate drum machine programming and bleeping arcade arpeggios. Broadly ranging stylistically between the angular riffing of ‘The Mushroom Stage’ via serene ambience on ‘Inky Gorgeous’ to the jazz-flavoured chord structures and time-signatures of the title track. Augmenting the five original tracks is a brand new SH-101 driven reconstruction of ‘Inky Gorgeous’ by Datassette (Apollo Records, Shipwrec)."
Diskotopia’s dreamer of the dream BD1982 unveils an oneiric sequence of memes pulled from garage, boogie, ambient electronics and game music to resemble something like a sonic version of Google’s deep dream AI...