Music Reviews

Lossy: Gated Soul EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 19 2018
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.
Artist: Christopher Ledger & Luigi Ranghino's Trio
Title: Cielo Intonato
Format: 12"
Label: CL Series
“Cielo Intonato” is a vinyl-exclusive set of sparse minimal electronica, with gentle rhythmic patterns treading with extreme softness under long, slow atmospheric pads and environmental sounds in a lush, mellow way. Luigi Ranghino’s Trio add organic and acoustic piano and woodwind sounds that give proceedings an exceptional elegance.

The main pieces are just three parts, each less than four minutes long, with the first setting the tone, the second adopting a slightly bubblier flavour, and the third a more conventional ambient affair.

The B side of the vinyl is taken up by an eleven-minute remix of the whole work by Ion Ludwig, who adopts a clubbier but still gentle approach that’s quite Ricardo Villalobos-ish in style- steady, minimal, progressive house where the elements of the original performance are looped politely over the steady drum machine bed.

This isn’t a release that vies for your attention, but instead is happy to sit on a wall and aspire to be beautiful sound art, flitting at the edges of electronica. It works well, it’s certainly very pretty, and leaves you wondering what it would sound like realised on a larger scale.

Zonk't: Banburismus

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 16 2018
Artist: Zonk't
Title: Banburismus
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Sound On Probation
Laurent Perrier, who I last encountered using his Heal alias to produce a very focussed single-concept experimental album, has come up with something much more expansive and expectation-defying here- long, drawn-out part-electronica, part slow techno, part electronic dub.

The first side is completely comprised of one 18-minute piece “Square”. Opening with a very long and sombre synthetic drone, the listener may at first begin to think they’re getting 37 minutes of heartrate-lowering mellowness, but what unfolds after the misleading opening third is a much more complex arrangement of nicely odd electronica, gentle synth stabs bouncing around in lakes of decay and delay with meandering glitching pads and a barely audible bass note that manages, to some degree, to keep proceedings vaguely grounded.

The second side is in three parts, with first “Chronogyre”, which introduces a steady, almost dubby sub-bassline over which plays some increasingly sparky sawtooth-edged synth notes that gradually build in chaoticness, but the underlying groove stays rock-steady. Although it starts with some cheery baby giggling noises, “Colussus” goes darker, laying some cinematic synth pads over another steady rumbling bassline. The dubby themes continue into short final track “Conditional Probability”, which is the track that sounds most like recent The Orb tracks, in the best possible way.

It’s strong, warm, dubby electronica with a lot of variety and a real sense of journey and purpose, and it ought to command a lot of attention.

Territoire: Alix

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Apr 13 2018
Artist: Territoire
Title: Alix
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Humo
Oscar Arson, as Territoire, serves up a dark, slow-techno concept album based around the titular character being born into slavery. Not that you’d realise it was a concept album from the lyrics, as there are barely any. Instead what you get is seven slices of gothic-tinged bass rumbles, slow heartbeat-like kick drums, sinister whispered vocals, low gated and processed synth pads and atmospherics.

More conventional instrumentation- guitars, tuba, clarinet- are worked into some tracks but in nicely understated ways that add to the palette of those tracks without sounding like novelty- in some cases you may be hard pushed to distinguish that instrumentation from its synthesized setting.

After the very bold and attention-grabbing polished sound of opening track, erm, “Sourd”, “Esclvvv” begins a steady, not-too-heavy pounding that’s imbued with plenty of both fear and attitude. Things go a little off the boil with “Soumission” and “Chant” which settle into slightly less dramatic, industrial-ish rumbling. “Exil” is a bit more vigorous initially but unfolds into an almost ambient conclusion, which segues nicely into “Meta/Xim”’s broad and fairly empty rumbling into nothing. Final track “Quatre siècles de privilèges” sounds at first like the beginning of a new dawn- certainly not a happy ending but certainly slight hints of optimism rather than fatal finality.

At 37 minutes it’s quite short, but that helps to excuse the slight lack of sonic variation. The concept may not shine through but as a hybrid of some very dark techno with also-dark soundscaping and atmospherics, it’s got a polished sincerity and a powerful mood-changing tone.

Sonae: I Started Wearing Black

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 13 2018
Artist: Sonae
Title: I Started Wearing Black
Format: LP
Label: Monika Enterprise
Sonae’s 8-track “I Started Wearing Black” is a deeply melancholic collection of stripped-back and glitched electronica sometimes bordering on techno, pairing sometimes-there-sometimes-not soft subbass kick drums with thickly layered polyrhythmic and arhythmic electronic effects into something very focussed and quite intense.

“Majority Vote” is quite a forthright opener, but the pace lets up a little with bell-toned “Rust” and the decidedly more melodic “Dream Sequence”, a definite highlight with its cello tones (maybe?) and a sense of building into grandeur. From that peak, “Soul Eater” and the title track are consciously rougher-hewn and more insular, with the title track’s spontaneous reintroduction of danceable rhythm making you wonder whether the first 20 minutes has all been a spectacularly elaborate intro. “White Trash Rouge Noir” pulls the same track, with a muffled industrial rhythm kicking in from nowhere halfway through an otherwise very sparse arrangement. “System Immanent Value Defect” is a prettier piece, with long sustained piano tones and light, glitchy rhythm programming underpinning gradually growing pad sounds that become quite lush towards the conclusion. Final track “We Are Here” ends on a downbeat, an odd broken-lullaby melodic tone falling away into increasingly random noise.

It’s a very smart and polished bit of very deep electronica, earnest and definitely worthy of attention.

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