Reviews



Sep 21 2019
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Artist: Imiafan
Title: Videnie
Format: 12"
Label: Falco Invernale Records
Rated: *****
It's four years since Imiafan released their latest album "Krv iernobielych Fotografií" and that one saw Imi team up with Martin Burlas and Ivan Štrpka. For the new MLP "Videnie", released for the French label Falco Invernale, Imi Végh teamed up with Miki Bernath for the music and, as for the previous record, Ivan Štrpka for the lyrics. The six new tracks are in balance from minimal synth and electro: the opening "Bez Úst, Bez Ozveny" is a mid-tempo track that can be also used on a dancefloor thanks to its hard beats and paced arpeggios. "Stupaj" is a faster one but is less dancey due to the many stops and go. The MLP continues with the dreamy cold wave tracks: "Videnie", "Kto?", "Vakuum" and "Krik Pred Ústami". Here, the suspended in time effect help to create the right ambiance for the Slovakian lyrics of Ivan Štrpka. The lyrics are suggestions and they paint a sort of suburban despair which teams really well with the music. Some excerpts: "Peculiar autumn when people are afraid to open letters, so as not to catch a whiff of death" or "Reflections fade, breath disappears. The subway rustles".
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Artist: Angelspit
Title: Bang Operative
Format: CD + Download
Label: Black Pill Red Pill
After giving previous album “Black Dog Bite” a glowing review a couple of years ago (comparing it to acts like Blue Stahli and Celldweller), and being impressed with the Angelspit-produced Miss Ballistic album earlier this year as well, Angelspit’s eight album was a welcome arrival, and I’m happy to report it continues in much the same vein as before. It’s thick, angry, sharply produced electro-metal with muscle and vigour, littered with sharp percussive drops, heavy synth basses and distortion, all topped with frustrated anti-media, anti-celebrity, anti-quite-a-lot-of-things lyrics (exemplified in tracks like “No Guillotine, No Crown”).

The vocals are still largely restrained to one-note or narrow melodic ranges, befitting of the genre but this is what holds it back from having a real standout vocal hook that could cross over into radio land. Highlights that come close include “Celebrity Disorder”, or the on-the-nose but strangely satisfying “Jesus Disguise”.

Some tracks wear a slightly more retro and synthwave vibe on their sleeve, like the curiously catchy “Fear Monger” with its slightly Vangelis-esque and sci-fi melody line, the properly 80’s-esque final track “Promise Of Gold”, or the nicely dramatic “Play Rough” with its more understated spoken-word approach. Broadly I think the tracks with an element of drama and change, such as “HexenjÄger” (based on a soundtrack piece Angelspit originally produced for a short film) bring a breadth and are maybe more successful than the relentless wall-of-sound numbers.

It’s thirteen slices of roughly-four-minute-long angry anti-pop that deserves to find a wide audience, not just in the techno-emo area that it’s initially targeting.
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Artist: Chihei Hatakeyama
Title: Forgotten Hill
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Room40
Tokyo-based ambient artist Chihei Hatakeyama here offers up a musical impression of a visit to the Asuka region of Japan, specifically to ancient stone burial mounds and chambers. Consequently, the result is a 37-minute collection of wide reverbs, synthetic melodic pads and melodic guitar shades that sounds hollow, deferential and calm- as though making music for some kind of alien church.

It’s divided into nine pieces, most around the four minute mark, which come across as single-page sketches rather than deep dives into longer ambient adventures. Some of these sketches are more appealing than others. The title track, that opens the release, is a strong relaxant. The sense of breathing and gradual build in “Buddha statue without roof” is really delicious, while the vocal tones of “The big stone tomb” bring another layer of richness.

However some pieces like “The constellation space” sound more like loose and lazy improvised noodling and fly too close to sounding kitsch for their own good. Some, like “Staring at the mountain”, fade out at the point where development is due.

For me the main problem with this release is the short nature of the tracks, which makes some pieces seem underbaked. It’s as though we are brief tourists to these environments, walking through and being impressed but not stopping long enough to appreciate their nature in any detail. Other than that, it’s a rich if perhaps slightly over-familiar ambient tone that’s gentle and pleasant.
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Artist: Ale Hop
Title: Apophenia
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Buh Records
Across the 33 minutes of “Apophenia”, Peruvian-born but Germany-based artist Ale Hop offers up an interpretation of her memories and impressions of Peru. It’s presented as a landscape, but constructed from a diverse set of sonic sources- heavily processed or miniscule field recordings, electronic glitches, sombre stretched guitar tones, and gritty textures create landscapes that, like the artwork, are portraits thick with emotive interpretation rather than anything literal.

Across eight tracks, there’s a broad range of approaches. Some are predominantly ambient, such as the thick claustrophobic texture of the title track, or drone-based like the brooding “Onomatopoeia”. “El beso” adopts a subtle rhythm pattern to give a soft temporary backbone, that contrasts against the thick lo-fi drum rumbles of “Marches”. The plucky guitar sounds of “Punales” make it sound positively folky.

Longest track “Lima” is the most complex, a self-contained seven minute minidrama that starts off with soporific, melodic calm and gradually builds through tension into a warlike percussive barrage. My interpretation of its meaning isn’t subtle or complex, but emotionally these tracks certainly carry some deliberate weight.

Overall I would suggest that this sounds more like an interpretation of Berlin than it does like Peru, not least thanks to the English-language, German-accented spoken word elements in tracks like “Side Effects”, and the prevalence of glitchy electronica and some borderline EDM elements.
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Artist: Loraine James
Title: For You And I
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Hyperdub
“For You And I” is an intricate and complex glitch-electronica work that credits the multicultural character and musical diversity of London as its starting point. Rhythms ranging from relatively steady grime beats to thoroughly mashed-up, Aphex Twin-level distorted craziness are the core, a steady mix of gutpunching subbass and crisp distortion that always keeps you on your toes. On top sits a variety of decorative elements, odd melodic items, synth notes, short vocal noises and the like, but they always feel somewhat secondary- it’s the beats that are the real meat here.

On tracks like “So Scared”, it’s almost purely a rhythm track for nearly two minutes before breaking into a truly twisted, Venetian Snares-esque broken-jungle affair, while “Sick 9” is a sort of glitchy techno, looping number vocalisations over bubbly bass oddness. “Vowel Consonant” opens as downtempo, almost electro-lounge, but builds up in steps over six minutes, gradually adding more frantic elements until by the time the screaming starts five minutes in, it makes total sense.

There are some mellower moments; the album is quite personal, according to the accompanying press release, but that isn’t a vibe that cuts through all that strongly overall. The exercise in contrasts with which the looped grime-like vocal snippet demanding “step it up bitch” plays against the warm mellow synth chords in opener “Glitch Bitch” is becoming a bit of an old trick in electronica terms, but it’s still powerful. “Sensual”, adding near-kitsch jazzy organ sounds and a tripped-out vocal from Theo about drifting through space, is a really pleasant bit of post-triphop, if post-triphop is a thing; if it wasn’t a thing before, it’s a thing now.

Le3 Black contributes to two tracks and leaves you wanting more; “Dark As Fuck” is (predictably) the album’s darkest point, a true delve into sinister grime, while on “My Future” he only arrives halfway through the track, rolling a more incredulous, weary lyric on power and having seen it all before.

If you like your beats heavy and seriously broken up, expressive and devoid of the usual posturing and over-masculine attitudes, and if you’re looking for something fresh, you should definitely check this out.
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