Music Reviews



cover
Artist: Sonns & Tavish
Title: Trycksaker
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: ESP Institute
These two tracks mark a production debut for established LA DJ’s Alexandre Mouracade and Tavish Graham, and it’s a bold and confident opener. Two slabs of bright, confident, steady instrumental four-to-the-floor with bits of synthwave, bits of electro-house, and some aspects of a more minimal aesthetic, this is music you could dance to, or drive to, or work to, or just sit down and enjoy.

At almost nine minutes the A side “Trycksaker” maybe overstays its welcome just a touch for home listening and bouncier B side “Roguish Days”, with its bassline lifted from the funkier side of acid house, seems more compact and well-formed, but they’re both born from the same sonic pod and they’re both highly polished, if borderline uneventful, bits of mid-set feel-good fodder.
Apr 27 2018
cover
Artist: Doon Kanda
Title: Luna
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Hyperdub
Information is relatively sparse about Doon Kanda’s second Hyperdub release, save for an Instagram link pointing to a wealth (if wealth is the word) of sculptures and CG modelling of globulus and ugly alien body shapes, one of which is seen as this release’s artwork.

Thankfully the music here is not as ugly as the modelling, though it is almost as weird. Purely instrumental, it’s a blend of steady, faintly glitchy downtempo electronica grooves with some decidedly off-kilter and quirky synth melody work which feels a little bit like an exercise in finding the weirdest high-pitched noises available on your synthesizer and then messing about playing melodies with them in a relaxed but not completely unstructured way.

At its best- maybe opener “Bloodlet”- it sounds like early 90’s Tangerine Dream leftovers with a mildly dark twist. “Crinoline” has a faintly baroque feel reminiscent of some lighter tracks from µ-Ziq. “Luna” and final track “Lamina” are quite endearingly poppy, while “Molting” is a notable bit of heavier, almost grimy production.

At 7 short tracks clocking in at under 20 minutes overall, it’s either a long EP or a very mini mini-album depending on how you look at it. It’s a curious release, not as misshapen as the visuals that accompany it but still definitely lopsided, perhaps a bit too much so.
cover
Artist: Off Land (@)
Title: On Earth
Format: CD
Label: Stasis Recordings (@)
Ambient soundscapist, Tim Dwyer alias Off Land offers another chapter of lush cinematic scores with On Earth where the din of children playing and echoing voices utter indecipherable phrases, fleeting fragments of field recordings are set to marmalade-paced rhythms and dreamy melodies amidst billowing layers of synth notes. One does not listen to an Off Land album so much as immerse, and this release is no different. Opening, “Euclase” washes over with layer cakes of synth lines and vestiges of melody with wistful overtones of longing followed by “Nepheline” which has more assertive rhythms and melodies and moody yet powerful, low-end tones that will tingle your spine. The following, “Amethyst” is more subdued, deep-ambient that does not wash-in so much as floats while, metronome-like rhythms manifest and dissolve in the aether while “Osmium” pulses with the more mechanical rhythms that propel an otherwise lush down-tempo ambient-dream track. “Spinel” resumes field recordings, birds chirp while melodies and counter melodies interplay to evenly paced beats that dissolve to lush ambient. “Aegirine” follows with gentle bass melodies and a kick-drum pulse with whispers and droning melodies and fragments of notes and is among the more upbeat. “Nighter” concludes the chapter on a somewhat tense, brooding note, perhaps setting the listener up for a sequel. Dwyer consistently delivers the goods with ranges of moods from pensive to tense to yearning to sublime; delivered in lush arboretums of cinematic-ambient soundscapes. File under ‘cinema of the mind’.
cover
Artist: Furtherset
Title: To Alter And Effect
Format: Tape
Label: -OUS
“To Alter And Effect” is a 6-pack mini-album (25 minutes-ish) of amped-up synth instrumentals with the sonic qualities of angry distorted synthwave and the drama-inclined arrangements of sci-fi soundtracks, all teetering on the edge of electronica, or bombastic EBM without the beats.

“This Eternal Vanishing” is a bold way to open, full of dramatic hits and squeaks over panted vocal rhythms, and sets the stall out nicely, before the energy levels drop down a few notches for “The Arc Of Imaginary”, one of the mini-album’s more sedate moments, relatively speaking. “Self Unfinished” lays up rapid arpeggios like a kind of Philip Glass raving with a broken Juno.

The title track is the closest skirting of this release to synthpop territory- you can imagine there being an angst-ridden vocal on here- before “Ask Your Existential Core” returns to the panting and deep rumbling distortion. Final track “Drawing Of Desire And Hate” is a highlight, a thick wash of synth noise which unfolds into a epic sci-fi symphony of synths and pulses that then devolves into bit-crushed percussive hits and noisy drones to finish.

Though packaged more as art music than it actually is (including the obligatory pretentious cassette release), this is rich home-listening synth-electronica and quite strong for it. Synthwave fans looking for something a bit more soundtrack-y, and kick-drum-free, should appreciate it.
cover
Artist: Graintable
Title: Herons
Format: Tape
Label: Ransom Note Records
James Cooke’s debut album as Graintable is a sifted collection of ten late-night one-take synth experiments, made up of slow single-chord pads and drones mixed with analogue pulsing and bass thrumming that owes a lot, by Cooke’s own admission, to a Roland Juno 106. From a producer with a background in house and hip-hop, this is an interesting sideways move into more mellow and ambient territory, but at points it does sound like somebody new to the genre, revelling in long atmospherics for the first time, rather than the work of somebody who’s been waist-deep in these sound for a long time.

At its best, this is strong, semi-symphonic slow synthwave soundtracking (alliteration not intended), moody and expansive. The opening track is strong and the arpeggios on “Odysseus” recall Tangerine Dream circa the 90’s, while of the mellower tracks, “39” is strong thanks to its simple but determined melodic loop.

At its worst, it sounds like somebody who’s discovered that keeping keys pressed down on his Juno results in long wavy New Age-y noises and that it’s easy to make ambient music that way. “610” is on the wrong side of the fence between ambient and aimlessness while “Lighthouse” sounds like an attempt to mimic one of Brian Eno’s classic ambient works without quite enough of either inspiration or perspiration.

Overall though there are more positives than negatives, and across its 67 minute span it’s consistent and measured enough to be quite engrossing. It doesn’t push any envelopes, but if your collection of sombre moody synthwave is feeling a bit overplayed, this will give you another option.
[ Next ] [ Previous ]

[1...10] [11...20] [21...30] [31...40] [41...50] [51...60] [61...70] [71...80] [81...90] [91...100] [101...110] [111] [112] [113] [114] [115] [116] [117] [118] [119] [120] [121...130] [131...140] [141...150] [151...160] [161...170] [171...180] [181...190] [191...200] [201...210] [211...220] [221...230] [231...240] [241...250] [251...260] [261...270] [271...280] [281...290] [291...300] [301...310] [311...320] [321...330] [331...340] [341...350] [351...360] [361...370] [371...380] [381...390] [391...400] [401...410] [411...420] [421...430] [431...440] [441...450] [451...460] [461...470] [471...480] [481...490] [491...500] [501...510] [511...520] [521...530] [531...540] [541...550] [551...560] [561...570] [571...580] [581...590] [591...600] [601...610] [611...620] [621...630] [631...640] [641...650] [651...660] [661...670] [671...680] [681...690] [691...700] [701...710] [711...720] [721...730] [731...740] [741...750] [751...760] [761...770] [771...780] [781...790] [791...800] [801...810] [811...820] [821...830] [831...840] [841...850] [851...860] [861...870] [871...880] [881...890] [891...900] [901...910] [911...920] [921...930] [931...940] [941...950] [951...960] [961...970] [971...980] [981...990] [991...1000] [1001...1010] [1011...1020] [1021...1030] [1031...1040] [1041...1050] [1051...1060] [1061...1070] [1071...1080] [1081...1090] [1091...1100] [1101...1110] [1111...1120] [1121...1130] [1131...1140] [1141...1150] [1151...1160] [1161...1170] [1171...1180] [1181...1190] [1191...1200] [1201...1210] [1211...1220] [1221...1230] [1231...1240] [1241...1250] [1251...1260] [1261...1270] [1271...1280] [1281...1290] [1291...1300] [1301...1310] [1311...1320] [1321...1330] [1331...1340] [1341...1350] [1351...1360] [1361...1370] [1371...1380] [1381...1390] [1391...1400] [1401...1410] [1411...1420] [1421...1430] [1431...1440] [1441...1450] [1451...1460] [1461...1470] [1471...1480] [1481...1490] [1491...1500] [1501...1510] [1511...1520] [1521...1530] [1531...1540] [1541...1550] [1551...1560] [1561...1570] [1571...1580] [1581...1590] [1591...1600] [1601...1610] [1611...1620] [1621...1630] [1631...1640] [1641...1650] [1651...1660] [1661...1670] [1671...1680] [1681...1690] [1691...1700] [1701...1710] [1711...1720] [1721...1730] [1731...1740] [1741...1750] [1751...1760] [1761...1770] [1771...1780] [1781...1790] [1791...1800] [1801...1810] [1811...1820] [1821...1830] [1831...1840] [1841...1850] [1851...1860] [1861...1870] [1871...1880] [1881...1890] [1891...1900] [1901...1910] [1911...1920] [1921...1930] [1931...1940] [1941...1950] [1951...1960] [1961...1970] [1971...1980] [1981...1990] [1991...2000] [2001...2010] [2011...2020] [2021...2030] [2031...2040] [2041...2050] [2051...2060] [2061...2070]


Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

Chain D.L.K. design by Marc Urselli
Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha