Music Reviews

Jacuzzi General: Dreams Of The Tropics

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 11 2018
Artist: Jacuzzi General
Title: Dreams Of The Tropics
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Paradise Palms
This is the first time I’ve reviewed a towel, and unsurprisingly, ChainDLK’s system doesn’t list “towel + download” as a known music format, but that’s what this is- a limited edition hand towel, where the download code has been printed onto the washing instructions. As a promo item I only received the MP3s, not the actual towel, so sadly while I would like to comment on the quality of its fabric, its absorbency and its resilience to frequent washing, unfortunately I can only comment on the music.

The music that’s reminiscent of towels. Specifically, large beach towels draped across sun loungers by a pool which you relax on while a DJ plays a steady and relaxing selection of steady, light electronic house which is kicky enough to dance to but melodic enough to wash over you if you prefer. “Dreams” epitomises this, even adding some birdsong for good measure, with a gentle hummable melody, while “Eurostar” is obviously intended to imply more of a travelling theme yet mood-wise it certainly leaves you inclined to sit back and let other people do the work.

“Pool Shark” refers to a different kind of pool, of course, with the EP’s only vocal sample, a spoken-word affair which is, like the track itself, slightly sleazier than the rest, while “Prelude” is just a touch more dramatic, with a nice building, synthwave-ish intro that will serve as a great set-opener for just a hint of the music-storytelling intro that the title suggests, without going too ostentatious.

A velvety sonic towel of gentle house, certainly not too musically threadbare.

Ripperton presents Headless Ghost: Breakthrough EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 04 2018
Artist: Ripperton presents Headless Ghost
Title: Breakthrough EP
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Drumpoet Community
After taking a step towards chin-stroking home listening with his excellent (but slightly over-indulgent) “Sight Seeing” album earlier in the year, Ripperton has put out a 4-and-two-halves-track instrumental 12” which keeps thinks thoughtful but turns firmly back towards DJ’s and the dancefloor.

A1 “Real Smile Fades” is a gentle and bright-sounding simple house number with an endearing soft bassline, a mood that’s revisited in the equally dream-like B1 “See You Yever” which adds a nice line in jazzy keys.

A2 “Abandon” is a little harder and grittier, a fairly timeless and relentless light techno workout which sticks firmly to one groove and nails it, while B2 “One Day OK, One Day Not” is the quirky one of the pack, sampling gospel singing warm-up and audience claps and pulling the tambourines and claps into a nice walking rhythm that runs alongside a stepping melody that feels like somebody was making it up as they go along.

It’s described as a six-track release but the final two tracks, B3 and B4, are something of an oddity- both under two minutes long, both little unfinished grooves that form sweet DJ tools that fade out long before their full potential is realised.

A warm and lovely bit of instrumental house with a nice sincerity to it.

Pin Up Club / Conga Fever: Zehn

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 29 2018
Artist: Pin Up Club / Conga Fever
Title: Zehn
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Mireia Records
This is a shared release, with Pin Up Club offering up “Dilapidated”, with the original and two remixes, and Conga Fever offering up “Chihuahua”, with the original and one remix, making a strong half-hour bundle of laidback instrumental house that’s got shades of electro.

“Dilapidated” ticks along around 120bpm with a mellow, synth-bass driven groove that’s quite jazzy. The Lauer remix adds a degree of drama and ups the synthwave just a touch, while the RSS Disco’s playful synth guitar leads a version that’s more lightweight and relies on the simplicity of the bass for its appeal.

“Chihuahua” is in similar territory, a nice perky walking groove with a strangely infectious high-pitched slightly squeaky melody that’s rather feel-good. As with the remixes of Pin Up Club, the remixes don’t fall far from the tree, with the Jacob Korn remix sticking with the same basic groove and making the whole thing a bit clappier and synthwave-ing it up just a touch.

A steady, middle-of-the-set and arguably middle-of-the-road collection of relaxed instrumental synth-house with a nice fuzzy warm feeling that’s hard not to like.

Jakob Thiesen: Equinox

 Posted by Ibrahim Khider (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 22 2018
Artist: Jakob Thiesen (@)
Title: Equinox
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released

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Toronto, Canada has an answer to Detroit techno, Jakob Thiesen via his new full-length excursion, Equinox. Sometimes dogmatic and robotic, sometimes skirting the nocturnal or electro funk-driven side, but always muscular and heavy-duty yet dance-floor friendly. Vestiges of ethno-styles haunt this work such as reggae-calypso and Afro-tech, other parts have a filtered, near-submerged-in-water quality that recalls Homework-era Daft Punk or the sublime music of Berlin’s Porter Ricks. Equinox is not so much to be listened as submitted to. “Projector” is a nocturnal-tech excursion that starts off with a series of filter effects that shifts into kaleidoscopes of layered melodies and textures and more varied beat intensities—more like a boat tour of people on a shoreline launching fireworks than a focused thesis on a conventional song—morphing between melodic techno and dogmatic house. “Ratchet” (perhaps named after the Transformers medic?) is the more funk-driven track here, more at home at a robo-cantina out of the animated series, Droids. “Observatore” opens dreamily with swirling tones that builds into deep, elegant futurist techno with interplaying melodies—close listens yield complex details but the details work in a kind of harmony that seems deceptively simple. Title track, “Equinox” evokes Kelly Hand’s work, but there are some textures that bridge the piece closer to melodic techno with melodies and tones at home in a Juan Atkins track. Opening with “Linear”, which has a lovely momentum to it that coasts along with filters and textures that slings the listener to the immersive world of “Equinox”, overtones of mystery. “Quadelay” and the title track, “Equinox” are perhaps the most Detroit pieces on this repertoire with its muscular, industrial-strength beats and whirrings and metallic textures at home in a mecha factory, this bleeds well into “Eclipse Submerge” which has nice ricochet and laser gun-like sounds that evoke a conflict at a space docking station. “Market Force” is the sole ambient piece that sounds like an analog recordings of field sounds, run through filters, heavily psychedelic with an aortic pulse that courses through. Detroit Techno is alive and well and living in Toronto, or so Jakob Thiesen’s tech-excursion, Equinox, will have you believe; 3AM adrenaline-rush inducing-imagination sparking, mind-rushing, soul catapulting techno.

Fofoulah: Daega Rek

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 09 2018
Artist: Fofoulah
Title: Daega Rek
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Glitterbeat
London based afro-dub ensemble Fofoulah’s second album is a distinctive blend. It centres around the rhythms and vocals of Gambian sabar dummer Kaw Secka, recorded in the prestigious Real World Studios, which are then taken into the London studio of keyboardist and saxophonist Tom Challenger who manipulates and produces it into a more electronic, more Western-sounding layout that aims for, and often achieves, the best of both worlds. Contributions from Johnny Brierley providing deep bussy basslines and Phil Stevenson in guitar give the whole thing an organic, live or ‘live plus’ feel that certainly acts as an advert for the band’s forthcoming gigs.

The range of moods and tones on display is impressive. For example, “Knicki” adopts an interesting, seemingly more sample-driven and old-school experimental approach, while “Kaddy” has a lovely upbeat, jazzy and very drum-and-bassy vibe that provides one of the album’s most toe-tapping moments, before final track “Kulo” works itself into a slow, dark, stepping techno as a tribute to artist Khadijah Saye who died in the Grenfell disaster.

Tracks like “Seye”, “Ndanane” or “Nijite” could all show grime artists a thing or two about making interesting music within that sphere, and appealing to listeners who wouldn’t normally venture that way, while unusually it’s the title track that provides one of the sparsest and most introspective turns.

There’s a strong tradition in the UK of fusing African and other ‘world’ beats into our sonic spaces without, I’d like to think, too much sense of cultural appropriation. This is another strong example that fits nicely into that history, a strong and very listenable organic meld of cultures and a very pleasant way to spend forty minutes.

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