Reviews



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Artist: Tresque
Title: Ereignisse (part.1)
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: -OUS
“Ereignisse” is pitched as ‘a pure and self-contained form of techno’, and that’s true- the four-four adherence and synthetic sound sources are conventional, and mostly quite simple- yet the crucial difference on this three-track EP is that purism and simplicity don’t equate to a lack of originality. Tresque proves here that it’s still possible to infuse these sounds and structures with a bit of unique character.

“Enbas” does that using its rhythm patterns. Melodically it’s little more than a patterned drone, and there’s remarkably little progression in it, but the curious part-backwards, warm-clap groove is what wins you over. With “Innae” the emphasis switches to the rubbery bass note, a single note that bounces its way almost cheekily along spacehopper-style over a very simple rhythm pattern. Final track “Orage” is the warmest and brightest of the three, thanks to shaker sounds and a bright pad sound, and this time it’s the pulsing pad noise that takes its turn in the lead of another track that’s essentially just one five-minute-long groove loop, with just enough progression and evolution to keep things interesting.

Geneva-based Tresque (also known as D’Incise, or Laurent Peter to his family) has pulled off a neat trick here, making something that sounds both simple and fresh at the same time.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Fragments
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Hivern Discs
“Fragments” is an ambitious compilation from the Hivern label, offering up 28 new and unreleased tracks, some from artists who’ve been with the label since it started in 2008, and others who are new arrivals. Available for a couple of months as a box set of six 12”s, and as staggered individual 12”s, it’s now available to download as well. It’s a generous bundle of over three hours of diverse electronica-and-sometimes-beyond for which the word ‘epic’, a word I would normally try to avoid, does seem really quite applicable.

Much of it skirts on the very edge of dancefloor work, with tracks like Cleveland’s “Via Sole” a gentle bit of low-key techno that skirts closely around labels like ‘progressive’ or ‘minimal’ and ploughs its own furrow instead. Simon Haydo’s “Bending Frameworks” is more purist in its techno structure, bending and squelching light industrial sounds into twisty ever-changing loops, and pairs nicely with the similar approach in C.P.I.’s “Miasma” (despite them being on adjacent 12”s). Inga Mauer’s “It’s Gone”, despite the two-word spoken refrain sounding like the word ‘disco’ instead of ‘it’s gone’, certainly isn’t disco, with a deep techno form that’s nicely executed.

There’s diversity, for sure. Tracks like Walden’s “Guerreros Del Lago” head in the direction of trip-hop, with rich acoustic bass sounds and a tentative, cautious feel that paints complex pictures and puts you on edge in the gentlest of ways. Steve Pepe’s “Tribalone” fuses intriguingly cross-continental percussion with a steel guitar-ish lazy melody for something that’s got a distinctive and inventive character, without ever pushing it too much in your face. Beesmunt Soundsystem’s “Hypno” rolls a more purposeful but still downtempo groove with a journeyman feel, and Velmondo’s “Transubstitution” also takes things slow, pulling a gentle crisp walking beat against glitchy urgent-sounding synths and sirens so your mood doesn’t know which way to turn. Nadia D'Alò’s “Ten-High Straight” stands out thanks to its slightly husky vocal work.

There are quite a few tracks here that throw up fond memories of early 90’s trance and the early days of IDM or whatever you want to call it. It’s a form of synthwave, if you like, but pointed fondly at the memories of Trance Europe Express compilations and dubby albums from System 7 and Global Communication. Benedikt Frey’s “Cali Stroll”, a simple groove taking ‘that PM Dawn beat’ and rolling it into a three minute groove that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the first Woob album, and the same could also be said for the gentle acid stroll of John Talbot’s “Hivernoid”. Marc Piñol’s “Vil de Not” is old-school acid electro and proud of it, while Samo DJ’s “Waterfall” tackles the more balearic and tropical side of the sound.

Parple’s “El Día Oscuro” stands out a little for being more overtly synthwave-ish, a collection of synth arps that brings early Vince Clarke noises into a long, subdued progressive format, feeling like it’s retro finger is pointing a few years earlier than the tracks around it- although the synths in Cooper Saver’s “Tell” and the synth slapbass in Mioclono’s “Center Of Things” do give it some support in that regard.

The trancey sonic throwbacks are very welcome with me, leaving me quite smitten with details like the soft and simple four-chord pattern in Shame On Us’s “Fingers Crossed”. Overall it’s a mostly relaxed and somewhat heartwarming set of predominantly instrumental tunes that feel like they’ve been dropped in from simpler times. An exceptionally high-quality and well-presented package.
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Artist: AKB
Title: Marianergraven
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Lamour Records
Anna-Karin Berglund’s “Marianergraven” album is a collection of soft ambient sonic vignettes that are apparently inspired by the ocean. And while waves are certainly involved, the overall feel of this album feels more like an invocation of space, expressed in sci-fi terms. Long melodic synthetic pad sounds ebb and fall over low warm bass hums, while occasional details and textures flit by- often crisp, gentle wind-like effects. Tonal changes are gentle, without always being predictable.

It’s deeply smooth and tailor-made for sleep playlists, but it’s also bordering on featureless at times, making highlights or distinctive sections scarce. “Subduktion” is notable thanks to its rolling bass and slightly odd low drawn-out vocal-like noises, which are allowed to progress and evolve in a ten-minute space when the other pieces are kept more succinct at five. “Topikerna” layers up the melodic chords in an interesting rolling fashion that forms a kind of audible Moebius strip while “Soluppgangen” has slight shades of Tangerine Dream at their most mellow about it.

Bonus track “Saktmodet” introduces organic orchestral sounds, including a clarinet, and as a two-minute long bolt-on to the album, leaves you wanting a lot more of that particular work. Hopefully it’s an indicator of the direction that Berglund’s next work will take.

It’s softly beautiful and soporific, and forgettable in the nicest possible way. As you nod off to this, it feels like an album that if you sleep through the end of, it’s not a case of missing out, but a case of it having done its job.
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Artist: Scott Young
Title: Ket City
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Discos Capablanca
Across the five tracks of his “Ket City” EP, Scott Young takes on a variety of different electronica styles, and proves quite deft at each of them.

After the deeply glitchy beatless low-end scratchiness of “Social Climber Guide”, which serves as essentially a long intro, the EP starts properly in “Drum Orgies”, a driven collection of complex yet danceable kicks and electronic-meets-tribal sounds that takes elements of dub but works at a much higher tempo- around 120bpm, though it feels faster as it’s very busy.

“Hyper-Domestication” feels more old school and could easily be mis-identified as a Wagon Christ track, taking a familiar trip-hop drum loop and crunching it satisfyingly under a jaunty bassline and odd effects. The title track is less playful but still odd, a downtempo affair with low piano stabs and curious arpeggios that, despite being the title track, ends up being a low point of the release in my opinion. Final track “Pad Jacuzzi” is a slightly more conventional bit of deep techno, that takes some of the structure and principles of progressive DJ friendly tracks and twists them, replacing hits and kicks with found sounds, but keeps essentially to the established recipe of long synth pads and beats, and some lovely zappy sounds for good measure.

It’s a little showy to have a picture of a brain on your artwork, almost conceited in how obviously it is meant to be imply that this is intelligent dance music. But, fair play, this is electronica with a lot of thought poured into it, and some very interesting moods baked in.
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Artist: Laurent Perrier + David Fenech
Title: Plateforme #3
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Bam Balam Records
“Plateforme #3” was an idea Laurent Perrier had, inviting some musical collaborators to submit a selection of raw material of themselves, unrelated to each other, and challenging himself to assemble pieces built solely from that material. In the third of his own series, Perrier invited David Fenech to oversee the first of the two eighteen-minute, vinyl-LP-friendly pieces.

The result is not nearly as disparate or chaotic as the concept might suggest. The first part is one large self-contained evolution, in a direction not too often travelled, beginning with fairly upbeat rhythmic, acoustic percussion and slowly transitioning, over more than quarter of an hour, out of rhythm and into a gently abrasive drone space.

The second part begins much more mildly, with sporadic soft melodies floating in nothingness, before heading off in a different direction again- gradually bringing in glitching, stuttering synth patterns and delving deep into 70’s style analogue meanders. This time around the slow progression is from calm to tense, with delayed percussion and more structured patterns appearing as time goes by- though this loops back to sparkling and cathedral-hollow melodic ambiences at the end.

It’s a bold pair of works, and an intriguing pair in the way they contrast against each other. It fuses a more traditional analogue synth form with some fresh touches, and it’s a strong example of how to maintain interest without drama. Quality stuff.
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