Music Reviews

Fotoapparat: Transhumanismus EP

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Sep 02 2019
Artist: Fotoapparat
Title: Transhumanismus EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ukonx Recordings
Rated: *****
Formed few years ago into an unknown place in Europe (from some photos posted I think he/she is coming from Berlin), Fotoapparat, after releasing two EPs for the Mexican label Dostonos Records ("Fundamentale Wechselwirkung" and "Doppelmord"), just released a new EP titled "Transhumanismus" for the Fremch label Ukonx Recordings. It's available as digital download on the label's bandcamp page and on streaming on the usual platforms. "Transhumanismus" contains six tracks that put Fotoapparat into the focus of the Dopplereffekt lovers thanks to the cold atmospheres and rich robotic sound palette. The EP has a strong concept. The first three tracks explore our relation with machines. Humanity in its limitless ambition ultimately pushes its researches further and further, until it reaches a turning point: the end of its supremacy. The last three tracks takes inspiration from cinema, literature, science, mythology and philosophy, just to rise a question: what if artificial intelligence emancipates itself and become as powerful as a god ? Can we expect a machine to show compassion and mercy? ...and, would they punish us for our destructive behavior by recreating our consciousnesses into a personal artificial hell? Musically, Fotoapparat succeeded into creating a tense atmosphere with a deep cinematic attitude, which coupled with the robotic rhythms create really good tracks. You have cool tracks, a theme which somehow involve all of us, so you can't ignore this release! Check it in full on the Ukonx's Bandcamp page.
Sep 02 2019
Artist: Microtub
Title: Chronic Shift
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Bohemian Drips / Ace Tunes
Believably “the world’s first and only” microtonal tuba trio Microtub offer up two interpretations of a scenario where the tubas performed long melodic drone notes inside the unique acoustic space of a large water tower. This is supplemented by analogue synths offering up humming waves and resonant chime sounds that generally parallel and compliment the tuba noise.

It’s second piece “System Reboot” that is the more purist representation of this- an absolutely luxuriant drone piece, relatively untouched by post-production, in a warm resonant environment that sounds wonderful in stereo and presumably even more incredible in a 3D audio version. Initially fused into a single layer, the sounds gradually peel out, unfold and overlap in varying combinations so that the whole work shifts imperceptibly slowly and elegantly, with a rewarding sense of calm.

First piece “Chronic Shift” is more deconstructed, if you like, taking sonic material with the same timbre but cutting it up and looping and rearranging it to post-produce new melodies. The rough-hewn cuts, complete with clicks and glitches, are so frequent and artefact-laden that they start to dominate the sound underneath. It’s an approach handled boldly and with purpose, and largely it works, especially thanks to the gradual introduction of more sedate structures as it progresses, giving the piece a sense of direction.

Ultimately I’d rather listen to the unadulterated (or less adulterated) second track, but it’s a beautiful combination of instrumentation and environment that really sparkles. Absolutely lush.

Ophir Ilzetzki: Symphony No. 1

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 29 2019
Artist: Ophir Ilzetzki
Title: Symphony No. 1
Format: Tape
Label: False Industries
Refreshingly, Ophir Ilzetzki is very open about the fact that “Symphony No. 1” is an intuitive composition, not affiliated with any deep underlying theory or concept, at least not consciously. Instead it’s a collection of four long works in which Ilzetzki expresses a variety of emotions through the medium of electronic composition- drone, oscillation, electric hum, fuzz, rumble, whirr, click. The result is not technically symphonic, by the book, but it’s realised on a broad scale with raw emotion that makes the name somehow fitting nevertheless.

“God Sent” is a series of introspective hum notes that sets a fairly minimalist tone with confidence. “Emma Carmel” feels a little more theatrical and impulsive-driven, making solid use of what I think may be low vocal noises howled round into incomprehension, as though we were listening to a slowly told incomprehensible story from inside a robot womb.

“To Heal With Blood” is initially much angier, opening with shifting noise wall built from quite grating motor-like noises, but surprises you by calming down promptly, remaining tense but more sinister rather than aggressive, revolvingly slowly round a rhythmic throb. 22-minute-long final piece “Of No Input” has a similar pulse at its heart, but delves deeper and lower and sparser in its approach, at times bordering on inaudible, yielding again comparisons with a womb scenario and the mysterious ever-present heartbeat you would hear. As it unfolds, this pulse somehow transforms into a more rapid, again motor-like affair, before escalating back into a sonic wall for a finale.

Despite being called “Symphony No. 1” this is far from the composer’s first work. He has been composing pieces for two decades, predominantly for more traditional instrumental ensembles- but this appears to be his first foray into pure stripped-down electronic work, and I would definitely regard it as a success.

Daniel J Mackenzie & Richard A Ingram: Half Death

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 28 2019
Artist: Daniel J Mackenzie & Richard A Ingram
Title: Half Death
Format: CD + Download
Label: Midira Records
“A sci-fi spiked soundtrack to a theoretical film” is how this album is introduced, and it’s an apt and accurate tagline. Cinematic electronica dominates, supported by organic elements including liberal helpings of reverb-laden piano, slow emotive pads and twinkling atmospherics. It’s all fused with melancholy and introspection and it really does feel like it ought to be a soundscape married to slow, expansive, barren imagery. The flipside of that association is that it shows that this work is constructed of ‘safe’ and well-worn sonic ingredients that have cropped up in hundreds of other electronica soundscape works, and there’s very little here that feels novel or progressive.

“Two Futures”- an eleven-minute suite in multiple parts in its own right- has shades of Vangelis’ “Blade Runner” (the whole soundtrack, not specifically the theme), but without any of the urgency or tempo- but it never channels that synthesis in such a way that it ever becomes retro or synthwave in earnest.

It delves quite deep at times, with pieces like “Victoria I (Rain)” burying the musical elements for several minutes and just wallowing in the sinister atmospherics and decontextualised found sounds. It’s nice that many of the ideas seem to be let breathe for their appropriate duration, finding the sweet spot of the listeners’ attention span. The title track’s bold sparseness, remaining practically empty for the first three minutes and barely-there for a further two, is quite audacious in that regard- but ultimately successful when it unfolds out into an odd crossbreed that’s half triumphant Jean-Michel Jarre-esque chords, half distorted noise and glitch, in the album’s most unusual moment.

Calming, yet also brooding with a little disquiet, “Half Death” is not the most innovative or challenging electronica or composition work you’ll hear- but it’s strongly composed and handled with a touch of quality that makes it engaging.

Gudrun Gut: Moment Remixes

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Aug 16 2019
Artist: Gudrun Gut
Title: Moment Remixes
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Monika Enterprise
Gudrun Gut’s strong album “Moment”, released last year, gets revisited here for a four-pack of relatively straightforward, danceable slices of electropop that’s not nearly as dark as I was expecting. Chugging synth arps, acid squelches and lightly broken drum patterns are the bed for a respectful take on the four brooding original vocals.

Legendary German electro-techno producer T.Raumschmiere’s take on “Lover” is relatively mild by previous standards, and the Pilocka Krach remix of Bowie cover “Boys Keep Swinging” is nothing short of synth-pop.

Dasha Rush’s version of “Baby I Can Drive My Car” has a rolling, progressive-house-ish breakbeat and some lovely pads, but never quite manages to go anywhere, before the almost-ten-minute-long Paul Frick mix of “Musik” sets the breathy and understated vocal against an endearing slow rolling techno groove with a really enjoyable sense of purpose and some rather lush detailing, making it a standout.

No real standout reworks here unfortunately, but an enjoyable if surprisingly lightweight electropop supplement for fans of last year’s album.

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