Reviews



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Artist: Plaster (@)
Title: Transition
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
Fourth album of this formerly bicephalous project (it was founded in 2008 by Gianclaudio Hashem 'Kaeba' Moniri and Giuseppe 'Agan' Carlini) on Kvitnu and the second one after one of the two heads fell down (Giuseppe left the project for a personal break in 2014 just before Plaster's release of 'Mainstream' in 2015), 'Transition' features a remarkably rougher sound than the above-mentioned predecessor, as Gianclaudio preferred that kind of approach that is closer to one of many electronic performers, who really improvise on live stage. In the author's own words, 'Transition' "comes from a different perspective of Plaster's past works in terms of emotions and sounds. My aim was to reduce the amount of complexity in order to maintain the tracks simple but effective. I wanted to be close to the people in daily life. Most of the tracks are pure improvisations using analog synths and hardware, there's no additional editing or post-production adopting the way of thinking 'Less Is More'." All tracks don't feature programmed beats or drums, but they are mostly based on masterfully distorted synth-line and overlapping distorted tones, but Gianclaudio manages to turn these swirling sonorities into something that often pierce listener's soul and ears than many percussive tracks. Many tracks (such as the splashy light distortions of "Unregistered Product", the smothered saturations of 'The Last Goodbye' or the slowly spooky synth-stabs of 'Caress From The Unknown') could resemble the ones that some known old foxes of Rome techno scene (D'Arcangelo brothers or Lorenzo D'Angelo, better known as Lory D) tried to explore by seducing the glorious Rephlex as well as many listeners, but they aren't isolated experiments, but are cohesive parts of a sort of narrative sonic flow, whose "skinniest" moments ("The Climbers", "Disconnected Heart" or the final "Children On The Cliff") are paradoxically the more significant moments...
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Artist: Arovane + Porya Hatami
Title: Organism_evolution
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Karlrecords
I reviewed “Organism” last year, and “Organism_evolution” is essentially more of the same. The exchanging-sounds-by-post process continues between Berlin-based Uwe Zahn and Iranian Porya Hatami continues in much the same way, resulting in a collection of 23 short soundscape pieces of electroacoustic noises, organic-sounding burbling and gurgling, gentle clicking, processed found sounds, and soft windy drones, pads and echoes. The alien-womb-like theme of the previous release continues.

There are a lot of short ideas here, many only lasting a minute, at times being reminiscent of Radiophonic Workshop experiments in sound which were regarded more like sound effects than music, evidenced in pieces like “Creature_517”. “Stimuli” is a prime example of a short environmental piece, event-free as a self-contained atmosphere. Longer pieces like “mata_evolve” allow more breathing space and show how exquisite some of this ambient soundscaping can be when allowed to spread and allow the mesmeric properties to come forward.

“Nucleotide” is an anachronistic piece, dismissing the organic components in favour of electronic arcing and feedback that sounds like it could be a single layer from a Cabaret Voltaire track.

If you loved “Organism”, you’ll appreciate the second chapter in the experimental collaboration, although whether it moves anything forward compared to the first installment may be debatable. And if you like the sound of this in principle, dip in at any point in the process- form and order isn’t the order of the day here.
Apr 20 2018
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Artist: Serph
Title: Aerialist
Format: CD + Download
Label: Noble
It’s rare at ChainDLK to hear electronica that’s so upbeat and unashamedly optimistic-sounding. It’s 67 minutes of quite poppy mostly-instrumentals broadly categorisable as drum & bass for the most part but with plenty of glitch and other musical influences thrown into the mix. Vocal and orchestral elements are the rich upper layers, with a generally lush and super-soft sound, while the rhythm programming is crisp and often seriously energetic but never aggressive.

It’s a proper genre-spanner that seems to revel in defying expectation. The guitar effects on “Airflow” are almost U2-like in parts, but not in a bad way. Halfway through the mellow and atmospheric layout of “Nightfall” we start getting Burial-ish dubstep beats, then perky, jazzy piano. “Ignition” features some helium-pitched vocal noises, yet played against sincere-sounding acoustic guitar sounds. The trailer-esque gutpuncher distortion very sparsely used on the bass on “Artifakt”’s intro makes way for a bit of proper electrofunk with slap bass, before the bright piano chords of “Weather” and “Popp” sound like they’re only one boyband-style vocal line away from the pop charts.

Thankfully it never comes across as excessive showing off, because it ought to, and it never loses track of the album’s overall positive vibe.

The Tokyo-based Serph also puts music out under the alias Reliq, and as half of N-qia, and in both those cases there’s at least a hint of a darker edge- but here, brightness and enthusiasm is the order of the day. And it’s seriously refreshing.
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Artist: C.A.R.
Title: Pinned
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Chloé Raunet’s second album as C.A.R. is a blend of supremely confident post-punk swagger with electronica twiddles, steady-walking house beats and just a dash of synthwave. Slow tempos, rumbling long bass guitar notes and some surprisingly sparse mixing gives quite a bold overall result. Bleak lyrics are mostly spoken and semi-rapped with a controlled, sometimes semi-whispered temper, only occasionally twisting into singing on tracks like highlight track “Swaggart”, the faintly bluesy “Prism” or the more radio-friendly gradual progressions of “This City”.

After the slightly underwhelming opener “Growing Pains” leads into the richly textured Steve Osborne-produced single “Daughters”, the first half of the album has slightly brighter pieces, with the upbeat “Heat” and the properly quirky “Flat Out at the Sockhop”.

Tracks like “Strange Ways” are also very accessible, with a decidedly indie flavour, but there’s nothing truly impenetrable here, with every track keeping within at least the broader definition of a pop structure. The pared-back “VHS” is worth playing to Siouxsie fans.

This is mature and balanced pop music, introspective-yet-confident, earnest and cathartic yet not too indulgent. It won’t set either your heart or the charts alight but hooks or charisma but if you’re looking for something more grown-up and rewarding, there’s certainly an appeal.
Apr 19 2018
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Artist: Lossy
Title: Gated Soul EP
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Boot Cycle Audio
Lossy’s fourth release “Gated Soul” is a collection of four tracks (plus one radio edit) from the jazzier side of electro-house, with some relaxed grooves, crisp but measured beats, languid pads, and Rhodes-style piano work that sometimes borders on the cheesy. It’s feel-good vibe stuff that sits in that gray area where it’s danceable, but you could also lie back and chill out to it.

“Blues For Jekyll” is a strong walking-pace number with gated pads, easy chords and one of those lovely sine wave subbass tones that makes everything feel nicely pure and simple. At five and a half minutes long, a four-minute radio edit feels a touch unnecessary but there’s no harm in it.

“Last Raver” is a little more energetic, with soft breakbeats and some nice rolling synth flavours that give it a decidedly Orbital-like feel. The slightly Groove Armada-ish trumpet (samples?) introduced in the second half of “Hocus Pocus” are a smooth touch, one of those little touches that shows you’re listening to a confident composer who knows exactly what he’s after.

“To The Woods” finishes things off with an unusual two-speed approach where the soft synth-organ arpeggios and rich-sounding flute melody sound like they want to be a ballad, while the beat underneath feels more two-step and garage-pop, but it’s a combination that gets pulled off pretty well in the end.

A strong, luxuriantly flavoured EP of jazzy electro-house.
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