Music Reviews



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Artist: Bungalovv
Title: Luz Mala EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Infinite Machine
Bungalovv’s “Luz Mala EP” is a 6-track, 21-minute micro-album of dark beats with the sonic palette of dubstep but the pace and energy of electro and breaks. Tribal drum loops, percussive effects and sinister glitched samples swirl over impulsive kicks and low subbass notes.

After the bold overture of opening track “Ulna” with its bright synths playing against sudden rhythm cuts, second track “Tregua” is a standout, a driving deep but crunchy bassline jumping in and out with sudden drops and glass smash effects. “Fémur” is interesting too, managing in less than three minutes to progress from sparse pseudo-ethnic near-ambience to rapid-fire kickdrum-led panic.

Things initially ramp up in the second half. The manic wails, jungle sounds and spontaneous thumping of “Healing Snakes” sounds like Tangerine Dream’s “Wahn” on speed before leaping into a surprisingly regular pounding heavy house rhythm, a format which continues through “Fúrcula”. Final track “Herido” settles down into a more sinister rumbling atmosphere to close.

All in all it’s a very impressive EP. The curtness of some of the tracks make this seem somewhat like a sampler, as though it contains six radio-edit-like extracts from a full-length album, but if that were true it’s an album I’d absolutely want to hear.
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Artist: Stephan Meidell
Title: Metrics
Format: CD + Vinyl
Label: Hubro Music
Stephan Meidell is a guitarist, but the guitar is just one of many elements floating around in the melting pot of “Metrics” and you’d be hard pushed to identify his primary instrument. Blending extremely mellow electronic beats and synthetic drones with spontaneous and freeform improvised performances from a range of organic instrumentation ranging from fiddles to prepared pianos to clarinets, this is a wide ensemble piece that’s almost misleadingly released under one man’s name.

Opening with the two parts of “Baroque” which as you’d expect has a predominant harpsichord, there’s a sinister tension throughout that gives the whole thing a very filmic quality. The three parts of “State” are more plaintive, with layered violins describing a more sorrowful outlook and the rumbling droning underbelly stripped back.

Longest piece “Biotop” brings analogue electronic noises to the fore, opening like a 1950’s Tom Dissevelt groove before evolving into a piece of slow techno with sporadic guitar strums littered lightly on top. In a way this is the straightest piece, with a deep regularity to it that’s very compelling. Final track “Tauchgang” is similarly strong with its experimental, retro-tinged electronics, but with a much more freeform structure and a strangely gloopy ambience.

“Metrics” is a succinct package of very emotive atmospheres built out of a broad variety of instrumentation. It’s impeccably polished and exemplary for its type, or it would be if it was easy to work out which type to pigeonhole it in.
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Artist: Swansea
Title: Flaws
Format: LP + Download
Label: Self Group
Oregon trio Swansea’s album “Flaws” is a neat and tidy slab of ten electro-indie-guitar-pop songs with a no-nonsense approach. Verse-chorus structures, steady tempos, light synth patterns and songwriting and singing that plough their own path that’s somewhere between American indie and more quirky European flavours. The production is neither too crisp nor too muddy, with an overall sound that’s authentic if at times a little flat.

For what it matters, there’s an aspect of this release which is a little bit dated in pop terms. It draws comparisons to LCD Soundsystem, DFA, Soulwax, The Ting Tings etc. and a broad genre that had its zenith about a decade ago.

But it’s certainly a decent pop album in parts, with some good hooks. “This Time”’s twist from melancholy to extroversion is nicely pulled off. “Samurai” has a lovely bright groove that sounds like it’s only a quick remix away from appealing to Roisin Murphy or Goldfrapp fans.

The second side of the LP is more innovative than the first, with the energetic “No Power” and the vaguely prog rock “Cincinnati”. Final track “Be Brave” and digital bonus track “Blue Sky” both stretch out of the pop mould into more dreamy, languid and melancholic arrangements- the soft percussion on the latter being particularly interesting.

“Flaws” is pleasant enough and a perfectly good soundtrack for a quiet night in, but it’s lacking anything that will really make it stand out from the crowd.
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Artist: Gerstein (@)
Title: Live Radio Blackout 1999
Format: Tape
Label: Luce Sia (@)
Rated: *****
As it's usual for project that has a long history as Gerstein, which Maurizio Pustianaz started in 1984, there's a recovery of some unreleased recording which was drowned for some reason in a drawer. This time is a concert made at Radio Blackout and broadcasted in 1999 when he used only electronic loops, horror movies samples, treated vocals and manipulated frequencies to create his sonic journey.
As the first seconds of this first side of the tape reveal, there's a personal vision of experimental music that seems to have a root in new wave. The rhythmic pulse of synths are the framework of almost all track and creates a sort of familiar listening setting as the vocals, the loops and the samples create a regularity which could even sound pop as the third track suggest with some noise to create a curtain of experimental music above an almost dancey background. This side of the project is balanced by track as the fourth where all the influences of horror movies are clearly audible or the fifth where the listener falls into proper noise territories. The second side is opened by a track that could have been an almost pop track with an hip hop beat if the author wasn't able enough to impose his sound aesthetic and use this familiar setting to introduce his harsher sound on the following tracks until, at the middle of the fourth track, a section based on a regular beat and a synth pop creates a break for the final two track of this release where he explores more static sound forms.
Surprisingly varied to be presented as a canonical industrial release, this live performance reveals influences out of this genre and so this is a release that could be appreciated by a wide range of listeners. It's truly worth a listen.
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Artist: Durán Vázquez
Title: Hiku Komuro, Hikikomori
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Crónica
On paper, you might assume an album structured from old Nintendo game sounds and 1990’s-era VSTs would be cheeky chiptunes- but this Durán Vázquez album is nothing of the sort. ‘Hikikomori’ is social reclusion and while the atmosphere here is insular, and isolated, this isn’t the sound of somebody playing computer games. This is tense drone soundscape work- beatless, hollow, resonant, drawn-out synthetic tones with washes and twinkles.

The work has two sides, LP-style. On the first side, there are five tracks, four of which share the same name, “Solus Ipse”. The first of these has a glass-like wailing tones at the top end are so harsh that they are sometimes painful, telling you this work won’t function as an ambient chillout affair, the second introduces gradually crescendoing notes of tension and confusion. The third is more mellow, with distant string-like ebbs and occasional fragile percussive sounds. Brief interlude “Koroshiya” brings a hint of ethnic flute tonality, before the final “Solus Ipse” revisits the earlier disquiet.

The second side is a single 26-minute work, “Segunda Natureza (trebón, paxaros, electrostática)”, where the retro-chiptune sounds are really heard. This is mostly a more playful piece, still essentially a drone base but lighter, with arpeggio patterns, 8-bit-style percussive moments and occasional single-step bass notes akin to having somebody in the next room playing a classic NES. Moods do shift throughout, with some sections more sombre and the latter sections more sparse, but this piece manages to feel both more unique and more inventive.

It’s an album of two halves in which the second half is more recommendable than the first, but overall it’s a noteworthy take on the solitary drone soundscape form.
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