Music Reviews

Quarta330: Pixelated EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jul 11 2017
Artist: Quarta330
Title: Pixelated EP
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub
Quarta330’s “Pixelated” EP, now admittedly a few months old, is a frantic set of 4 instrumentals where rapid-fire effects, low bitrate synths and a healthy dose of possibly tongue-in-cheek fun are all chucked into the mix.

Opener “Resonate 3” begins as though it’s going to be a flat grime instrumental, before a chiptune-style melody cuts through that turns the track into a bizarre digital-soul number, like Barry White music for robots over frantically gated drums.

“The Fairies’ Homecoming” has a similarly 8-bit-ish flute melody meandering over a glitch rhythm that sounds like a fight between reggae and drum’n’bass- one of those tunes where if you watch the crowd, half of them are nodding fast, the other half are nodding slow.

“Yatagarasu” is the most conventionally melodic piece, with further flute-like synths and chords playing a strong and vaguely Eastern-ish melody over a stepping rhythm that pushes the lo-fi filter even further. Closer “Digital Lotus Flower” is along similar lines, with a more broken beat and subtle, smooth bassline.

I’ve struggled to think of valid musical comparisons. I could mention Venetian Snares (the less angry stuff) or Bassnectar, but it wouldn’t be wholly accurate. The “Pixelated” EP ploughs its own slightly bizarre path, one that fans of glitch or anything 8-bit will definitely enjoy.

Doon Kanda: Heart

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jul 06 2017
Artist: Doon Kanda
Title: Heart
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub
This is a quirky mini-EP of five tracks of post-dubstep instrumental alt-pop. There’s thin, muffled beats, rolling atmospheric bass hums, and squeaky high-end organ-like synth noises with liberal helpings of playful spontaneity. It’s fundamentally odd, part sombre, part daft, as though entirely in a world of its own.

All five of the tracks are under three minutes, making this feel like a sampler. “Womb” feels like a longer, super-mellow glitchy ambient track that’s been squeezed unnecessarily into the three minutes being allowed, while “Axolotl” fits the mould much more comfortably with an almost radio-edit structure. “Wings” and “Feline” both have broken synthwave elements to them, and closer “Heart” is the most straightforwardly atmospheric of the batch- relatively speaking.

A quirky debut mini-release on Hyperdub that’s indicative of a sound that stands on the fence and could go either way- further into EDM-tinged deep atmospheric dub, or the other way into simple barking madness.

Drift: Genderland

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jul 03 2017
Artist: Drift
Title: Genderland
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Avant Records (@)
To promote a 6-track EP arriving in a few months, “Genderland” is a 1-track short pop single with a slightly blissed-out dub groove, airy vocals, and just a touch of Leftfield-esque harder-edged production. It’s an interesting little teaser, too short to really explore its atmospherics fully and lacking the crucial catchy hook that would propel it into radioland, but as a calling card for a forthcoming EP it shows a lot of promise.

Spherical Disrupted: Periapsis

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jun 18 2017
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.
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.

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