Music Reviews



Spherical Disrupted: Periapsis

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jun 18 2017
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Artist: Spherical Disrupted (@)
Title: Periapsis
Format: CD
Label: Krater Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
No stranger to Chain D. L. K., the German electronic project Spherical Distrupted has been around since the early 1990's with numerous releases, but it's been awhile since their prior one ('Nature Unlamited') back in 2010. I use "them" loosely as Spherical Disrupted is actually Mirko Hentrich, also having releases under the names M. Sigma, Capsular and Sick En For. Sorry to say I haven't heard anything by any of them before. The astronomical concept behind 'Periapsis' is the twin star system Eta Carinae, one of the biggest high mass and very extraordinary constellations in our galaxy. The term 'Periapsis' refers to a concept used to calculate its orbit. Ah, space music you must be thinking, and with titles such as "Observatory," "X-Ray Flare," "Eta Carinea OUtburst" and "Orbitary Eccentricity," you'd almost be right. This space music though is grounded in old school synth rhythms much of the time though. From the beginning with the first "Observatory," slow, rhythmic, deep bell tones herald a processional picked up by an old school analogue juicy rez-filter bass. (Man, it's been awhile since I heard that sound.) In the background spooky there are layers of eerie synth. There's a lot of repetition in the structure, and I'm reminded of early Delerium. That similarity will continue thoughout the album. Construction is simple and repetitive, but there's something hypnotic about it I quite enjoy. Granted, there are layers, and at times the music seems dense. The spacey aspects are grounded by old school synth sounds and rhythms, and though there may be a slight touch of dark ambient, the music has much more in common with Tangerine Dream than Lustmord. (None of that 16th-note hyper-sequencing though.) Pacing is slow to medium throughout. One of the more interesting juxtapositions is the track "Orbitary Eccentricity" which is basically a 2-chord mood piece that is largely a spooky atmosphere with some measured rhythm accents. Only toward the end does that juicy rez-bass make an appearance incidentally. On the Mortaja Remix of this track, the rhythm is more pronounced, and an 8th note arpeggiated sequenced bass is added, along with that juicy rez-bass coming in much earlier. If we weren't in Tangerine Dream territory before, we surely are now. If you like your electronic space music uncomplicated and hypnotic with an old school vibe grounded in EBM type rhythms, or if you yean for early Delerium ('cause Leeb is never going back there again) then Spherical Disrupted's 'Periapsis' is for you.
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Artist: Snog
Title: Rich Kuntz
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
When asked by magazine Cyclic Defrost which tracks of his album "Compliance" was proud of, Australian producer David Thrussel (the mind behind many genuinely irreverent projects that most of our readers should already know such as Black Lung, Soma - with Pieter Bourke -, Crisis Actor, The Enemy and Snog of course) quoted "Rick Kuntz", who got described by its author as "the theme song for a bunch of football hooligans home-invading the sea-side landed gentry in their beach villa". Last year Metropolis released a couple of digital remix-based (this one and "The Clockwork Man") followed by a larger collection ("The Clockwork Man (Non-Compliant Remixes In The Age Of Obedience)", available on CD as well as AAC, FLAC, MP3 and WAV), but I warmly suggest to check this one first for a set of reasons. First of all, the healthy scornful vision provided by the lyrical content of the song and its full adherence to the fierce aesthetics that David poured through his projects by using different stylistic registers. The second reason is the inclusion of some great remixes by VICMOD (a Promethean project to teach the masses how to build modular synthesizers) expertise Ross Healy: the venomous whiplashes of Ross' Austerity remix has also been included in the above-mentioned collection (as well as the "zombified" breakbeat of Hi Freq Dionysian RMX, sounding like a magmatic appendix of Black Lung's sonorities), but the likewise amazing infected disco of his Dogshit remix is an exclusive track of this output. Other exclusives on it are the moderately aggressive corroded breaks of Solypsis Crunchy Edition remix of "Compliance TM", the electric amniocentesis of "Rich Kuntz" and a sort of sci-fi theme derived from "Compliance TM" by Ross Healy's alter ego Cray.

Ekoplekz: Bioprodukt

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jun 16 2017
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Artist: Ekoplekz
Title: Bioprodukt
Format: 2 x LP
Label: Planet Mu Records
Bristol-based Ekoplekz (Nick Edwards) is certainly prolific, with more than a dozen albums under that name since 2010. Perhaps the high rate of output is helped by the confident simplicity of the music, which is simple acid loops and mellow, slow techno-light grooves and bleeps, with occasional snippets of melodic pattern but no vocals.

But that’s not to say it’s half-baked, certainly not- this is disciplined and controlled pattern use to create a pack of ten standalone mesmeric moods. Many of them have at least one foot in the past, with classic 808 clap sounds and modest, analogue-ish subbasses. Sonically, “Consequences” wouldn’t sound out of place on the classic 1994 compilation album “Trance Europe Express 2” (which incidentally is high praise as that’s one of my favourite albums of all time, but that’s another story). Others like “Expedition” only expose their modern origin through slightly glitchier and crisper digital cut tones, the kind of sounds that make Planet Mu the ideal home for this release.

There is breadth here as well though, this isn’t just 10 identical pieces. “Transience” brings a slightly Eastern flavour to the percussion, while “Slipstream” and “Descent” wallow in rich dubby delays and warm lo-fi EQ. “X-Over” is a deeper stripped-back rolling subbass affair that enjoys and justifies its nine minute run.

It’s a remarkably balanced and really enjoyable chilled-out listen, perfect for people who have fond memories for the golden years of 90’s chilled out electronica.

Joanne Pollock: Stranger

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jun 15 2017
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Artist: Joanne Pollock (@)
Title: Stranger
Format: CD + Vinyl
Label: Timesig
Joanne Pollock, who formerly used the name Poemss, has created a 10-track album of quirky stripped-down alt-pop that sets airy, thoughtful, fairly traditional verse-chorus vocals over a landscape of complex percussion patterns and refined atmospheres. There’s a little of many things in here- it’s slightly Matthew Herbert, slightly London Grammar, slightly Moloko. Vocally it’s slightly Sarah McLachlan, slightly Zoë Johnston, slightly Bjork in the very high register jumps.

Unfortunately it lacks the crossover hit tune that would get mainstream attention, preferring an above-average helping of ballads. “Myself Apart” is perhaps the most accessible piece and would make a good entry point. Tracks like “Melt Myself” and opener “Carnival” wallow a little and feel almost lazy. Even tracks like “You Know I Would Do Anything”, with its more uptempo quickstepping energy, is topped by a languid vocal performance.

It’s surprisingly mellow output from Venetian Snares’ Timesig imprint, but the strength of character is still there and it’s definitely worth a listen- but just a hint more aggression or overt energy might have made the whole work really stand out.

Phonophani: Animal Imagination

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jun 09 2017
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Artist: Phonophani
Title: Animal Imagination
Format: 2 x LP
Label: Hubro Music
“Animal Imagination” is a rough-hewn collection of thinly diced found sounds and electronic sounds blended into an alien and sometimes cacophonous melee of sincere oddness that does a major in experimental and a minor in electronica. The source palette is broad but frequently used ingredients include softened white noise and close-sounding, percussive organic noises, all muddied up with processing that gives the whole thing an unusually intimate, almost smothering feel.

The synth washes and more stable windy drones that are barely audible in opener “Life’s White Machine” get their chance to shine in “Deep Learning”, a deep alt-techno affair with utterly lovely mesmerising subbass tones and odd time signatures that feels like it might belong on a different album. Another piece that sounds faintly out of place is “A Dark, Sharp, Heartless” with its brief foray into more guitar-shoegaze territory.

The twisted yoik-like vocal of Mari Kvien Brunvoll brings an unusual flavour to “Untime Me” (and possibly uncredited to “I Have No Subconscious”?) that make all-too-brief highlights, before the extensive title track takes what sounds like bowed instruments being manhandled and glitches them into chaos with a result that makes you feel like you’re trapped inside a creaky wooden pirate ship that’s somehow ended up in the Tron universe- a feeling that briefly returns on album closer “Sirma, 1997”.

Longest track “End Of All Things III” is the exemplifier of an album that’s thickly layered, complex and at times challenging. It’s a clear labour of love with a lot of energy and a definite shine.


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