Music Reviews



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Artist: Naum Gabo
Title: Naum Gabo EP
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Belters
The duo of Naum Gabo (Jonnie Wilkes and James Savage)’s self-titled EP is 5 tracks and 30 minutes of accessible bouncy acid instrumental techno.

The squelchy groove of “They’re Decent Sweets” makes nice use of a organ-like melody as a breakdown inbetween dancefloor-friendly, smile-inducing bass squeaks. “Qara” has a slightly more retro and synthwave tone to its synth work, somehow managing to be reminiscent of Cabaret Voltaire in tone yet good fun at the same time, again making a strong play between the rich melodic breakdown and the functional, stripped-back groove.

On the B-side, “250914” is a glitchier, breakbeat offering with a less predictable structure and more of a sense of urgency. “High On Cat’s Milk” is also a more direct and driving one-note number with a lead synth that begins to sound like an alarm. “Bim Bap” wraps things up with a bit of classic 303-style low rumbling, crisp claps and one-syllable vocal noises used like crashes and seems to just revel in the fun of making music this way.

Stuff like this is why techno is lovely.
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Artist: Sweet William (@)
Title: The Early Days 1986-1988
Format: CD
Label: D-Monic Records (@)
Rated: *****
Sweet William are back with something new that's old, or something old that's new. These are songs from the band's earliest days (1986-1988) when they were more post punk than goth, and certainly sound like it too. Unfortunately there were no good studio recordings of the band's songs from this time so they did the next best thing- went into the studio (2016-17) and recorded them. No jazzed-up, modernized production here- Sweet William wanted to make these tracks sound like their late '80s album that never was, and to their credit, they succeeded. Maybe the band is more polished now than they were back then, after all, being together for so long will do that. Still, the songs speak for themselves, short (for the most part) simple and to the point. There are shades of Joy Division, Wire, The Birthday Party, The Chameleons, Killing Joke, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and perhaps most notably- Bauhaus. Although I'm sure Oliver Heuer and the band had other influences (such as Dylan on "An Impression of Life," and the Stooges elsewhere) but vocally if you took equal parts of Nick Cave, Peter Murphy and Ian Curtis, with a slight dash of post-Japan David Sylvian it might sound something like this. The eleven songs on this album are as good as anything those aforementioned bands were producing in their early days, perhaps with the exception of their most iconic song(s), but it took a decade of hard work and evolution for Sweet William to achieve a decent measure of success. While this album is more or less a time capsule, I believe it stands on its own as a remarkable achievement. If it was released in 1988 and I had heard it at the time, I definitely would have bought it, and likely played it a lot. There is plenty of atmosphere and attitude here, and you can tell where this band would eventually be heading. Interestingly, there is only one song sung in German ("Gelb Und Grun") and that's pretty short. Fine by me though, as it adds a bit of 'tude. It was certainly a worthwhile endeavor for Sweet William to reproduce these songs without bastardizing them as some groups might have been tempted to do. Recommended!
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Artist: Amalgamated (@)
Title: TO
Format: CD + Download
Label: Aubjects (@)
Rated: *****
Somewhat recently I've reviewed solo projects by two member of Amalgamated - Phil Klampe (Homogenized Terrestrials) and Bob Newell (forM). Other members include Cory Bengsten and Mike Richards, with production assistance (mixing/mastering) by D. Petri of the Aubjects label. This Illinois-based collaborative makes some astonishing instrumental electronic music that crosses the genres of elctronica, industrial, psychedelic, ambient, dark ambient, noise, IDM, experimental, and what-have-you since about 2004. On their own, these guys are quite formidable. Together, just amazing and enigmatic. You really never know what you're going to get with an Amalgamated recording, and to be honest, this one almost slipped through the cracks, being accidentally tossed on my "already reviewed" pile. At first I wasn't even sure what it was. It comes with a piece of patterned vellum, a 36 page mini-booklet of mostly abstract black & white images and the CD has a fuchsia stenciled spray paint design on it. The printing on the vellum is hard to see, but it did have the basics on it to tell me that it was Amalgamated. (The physical version of this is limited to only 36 copies.)

'TO' consists of only five tracks - Euhedral (7:38); Chronometeorite (22:44); Phlebneutrics pt. 1 (4:48); Phlebneutrics pt. 2 (6:37); Stoichiometry (12:55) recorded in 2014-2015. Each is quite different from the other. "Euhedral" begins with a bassy, bouncy, springy synth amidst an atmosphere of noise pads, wild echoed oscillators and other spacey effects. Eventually it deconstructs into some type of randomized computer code, or so it would seem. There's an awful lot going on here and it's hard to keep your head above water through it all. "Chronometeorite" has a touch of the old Eno~Moebius~Roedelius to it with a sustained string synth, rhythmic bass synth sequence (morphing into a fuller rhythm) and then a carnival-like synth as it chugs its way into the nether-regions. When the rhythmic impetus disappears, you'll find yourself adrift in quantum spacetime, where all sorts of particle variables come into play. These are difficult to describe without going into the minutia of the sonics, best experienced on your own. Suffice to say the listener will be drifting through sound elements familiar and unfamiliar, like a psychedelic experience. As you pass through that, you step through the radiance to "the other side," back to a physical industrialized soundscape that's almost comical in its mechanization. "Phlebneutrics pt. 1" is the most strictly ambient piece so far, containing events but with the major element of drone. "Phlebneutrics pt. 2" is a richer, more developed sort of ambient with far more layers and elements to it than part 1, and a different feel. Towards the end there is even a chaotic sort of breakbeat rhythm. "Stoichiometry" begins with a rhythm reminiscent of Cluster & Eno and high open-filter synth sequenced along with it giving it a very musical feel. Various modulations along the way change and transform the piece until it consolidates into a singular drone, then mutates into a rainy city evening. There is a tinnitular background ambience that fills the space between the raindrops. There you have it.

"TO" is probably best listened to without focus as it's best appreciated without dissecting the sonics and just letting the feeling wash over you. For those who don't care much about physical product (if there are even any left) you can buy the digital album from the Aubjects Bandcamp site for only 4 bucks which is pretty cheap for this much creativity.
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Artist: Mazut (@)
Title: Atlas
Format: CD
Label: BDTA (@)
Rated: *****
The sample of the famous words by American theoretical physicist (known as the "father of the atomic bomb") Julius Robert Oppenheimer, who spoke about his crisis of conscience that justified his refusal to collaborate on the project to make the hydrogen bomb by quoting the well-known line of Bhagavad-Gita syaing "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds", quoted in the title of the opening track of this album, perfectly ignites this good album by Warszaw-based duo Mazut, whose bitterly ironic cover artwork depicts the mythological Atlas, a Titan who was condemned to hold up the sky and the whole planet, while despairing as the planet slipped out of his giant shoulders. The kind of techno, that Pawel Starzec and Michal Turowski (the real names of the guys upholding Mazut) forged by a wide set of drum machines, synths, vintage radio receivers, a 4-track cassette recorder, samplers, a toy keyboard and a truckload of other gears (according to the wide list of equipment they wrote in the line notes), could fit a world blown to smithereens like the one we're experiencing. The nine tracks of this album run fast on the rails of some industrial-tinged progressive techno makers (Terence Fixmer, Derrick Carter, Mount Sims, Metro Area, Underground Resistance) and vague resemblances of some harsh sonorities of EBM (DFA, Bigod 20, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb), where you can feel like travelling on a train getting close to destruction while running at insane speed. Dirty lo-fi acid techno patterns over squealing metals, piercing signals, obsessive thumping and synth-driven engines - I particularly enjoyed the one quoting the brave Canadian suicidal activist Malachi Ritscher, the short but intense "Perverse Incentive", the obsessively menacing "Treatment Resistance" as well as the sweltering tentacles of "make A Threat", preceded by the two minutes of "That's a Razor and You" - the soundtrack for a suicidal temptation? -) are not elements of the usual way of escapism but are savagely anchored to our ferocious reality. Do not eject it out of the CD reader when "Blunted Affect"(the last track) finished...is the ghost track you can hear a sort of rudimentary sonic representation of the primitive elements, mirroring the urgency to begin something new through the debris left by the collapse of the world we uncontrollably forged?
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Artist: Out Of Fuel (@)
Title: Isolation EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Translation Recordings
Rated: *****
This is the second EP (after the interesting 'Ghost Notes' in 2016) for Washington DC-based label Translation Recordings by the Finnish duo Out Of Fuel. As far as I can understand by listening to this "Isolation", the drops of fuel by which Otto Andelin and Matti Kaivanto fed this new sonic engine are mainly atmospheric. They forged really good and immersive sounds and such a skill sometimes make them forget to handle the rhythmical pattern in a more structured way, as you can hear since the opening "Minus 25", whose masterfully made sound and the whole icy dub-like movement really render the idea of a machine flooded by extremely low temperature, but where the percussive elements manage to make the track a little bit warmer, but without any staggering variation (maybe a choice arising from the paralyzing frost...). We find similar dynamics and configuration on the following tracks "Cabin Fever" and "Chain Reaction", where these guys get closer to the style of some dub techno entries that people like Lars Fenin, Daniel Meteo and Deadbeat were dropping ten years ago. My favorite track is "Hypersensitivity", the one where the catchy atmospherics of the sounds gets intertwined with a likewise catchy and finely crafted rhythmical pattern. The package also includes a very good remix of "Ghosts", where Resound, another knight of Translation Recordings seems to chew acidulous low frequencies and distant smokey reverbs in a rising feverish way.
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