Music Reviews



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Artist: Burkhard Beins / Lucio Capece / Martin Küchen / Paul Vogel
Title: Fracture Mechanics
Format: CD
Label: Mikroton (@)
The four-piece behind “Fracture Mechanics” compare their musical processes to an alchemy where base elements are woven into sonic gold. With a mixture of conventional instruments- saxophone, zither, flute- alongside more ambiguous credited instrumentation including iPod, “objects” and “air from another planet contained in terrestrial glassware”, it’s clearly a unique blend of elements, does it achieve chrysopoeia?

After the brief conversational ambience of “Transubstantion”, proceedings start in earnest with 25-minute-long “Pebble Snatch”. Soft electronic interference, buzzes and hums meander in and out. Slowly bowed harsh string tones and gentler bell-like notes plink away with a rhythm that’s extremely slow but definitely present. Metallic scratches become slowly more apparent, as does Paul Vogel’s glassware contributions which give things an extremely faint, strangely Aboriginal-sounding distant blown percussive flavour.

“Pendentive” is a touch more abrasive, with high-pitched squeals and tinnitus-like modulations more sharply juxtaposed with the guttural tubular elements sourced from deep sax notes and single drum hits. Throughout all the pieces there’s a respectful abundance of space and the whole thing is fundamentally quiet, drawing your attention into the sonic details and allowing an interaction with any other sounds that may be present with the user.

This arrangement continues into final, half-hour-long piece “Transmogrification”, which pushes back drops the lower register tones in favour of just the difficult squeals, at times leaving just the high resonance that’s so close to the edge of perception that you begin to question your own ears.

This is a work that’s on the difficult side of avantgarde, lengthy, awkward, and revelling in frequencies that can’t be described as comfortable. It’s a bold work, and while I don’t think the result has an atomic number of 79, fans of extremely fractured, nails-gently-down-a-blackboard-style experimental music will definitely appreciate it.
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Artist: Vlad Dobrovolski
Title: The Drums Of The Fore And Aft
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Kotä Records
Vlad Dobrovolski’s first full-length album under his own name is built purely from modular and analogue synths and a combination of DAW and tape work, giving an overall flavour which blends both the crisp and the digital with something a little fuzzier and warmer. Long synth notes glide and shift slowly along like a melancholy synthetic symphony, while bleeps, whirrs and digital bubbles play around on top. At times, atmospheric sounds like waves crashing on a beach provide a gentle watery bed. Contrary to what the album title might make you assume, there are absolutely no drums in it (with the extremely minor exception of some soft cowbell-like hits in “A Blue And Oily” which eventually morph into xylophone tones).

The sonic range does feel somewhat narrow at times, which to give it a positive spin, means it’s a consistent listen. The glitched delay on “Million Wrinkles of the Sea Under the Moonlight” give it a dubbier tone, at times very reminiscent of some of The Orb’s most relaxed moments. “A Blue And Oily” hops slowly around with a bouncing, semi-random plucked bass sound (and, most annoyingly, a completely out of place siren at the eight minute mark which completely jolts you). Final track “Drifted Past The Bows” is the brightest, with energetic and higher-pitched arpeggios giving a slightly more euphoric and satisfied feeling.

This is a chillout album with a certain degree of timelessness, that, save for a few minor production details, could have been released as part of the chillout boom in the 1990’s. It’s smooth, it’s decidedly out there, and there’s just a hint of playfulness about it. So while it can’t contend that it is breaking much in the way of new ground, as a soporific sonic relaxation, it really works.
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Artist: Daily Planet
Title: Play Rewind Repeat
Format: CD
Label: Progress Productions (@)
Distributor: Border Music
Rated: *****
2017 seems to be a perfect year for friends of Synthpop music generally just if you look on the latest releases of global players like Mode, Erasure, Alphaville, Pet Shop Boys or O.M.D. Although the Swedish duo of Daily Planet doesn't play obviously in the same league than the mentioined veterans, someone could come to the impression to get with "Play Rewind Repeat" one of the true pearls this late spring- / early summer-time has to offer. It's kind of a deja-vu and comparable to the release of their second album simply entitled "Two" in 2014 with which they broke their nearly 18 years longing time-out after their highly acclaimed debut "The Tide" released during the heydays of the long out-of-business Swedish Energy Records label.
Johan Baeckström and Jarmo Ollila surely have found lots of inspiration to return with this new album which features 12 tracks of finest and perfectly produced classic Synthpop music. Baeckströms programming skills surely follow the works of idols like Vince Clarke to his being in Depeche Mode, Yazoo, The Assembly until his successful early years with Andy Bell under the Erasure moniker. But don't think that you'll get a retro-/mid-80s oriented Pop-/Wave-album - the studio perfection of the current times don't allow any reminiscences of long gone days.
You know that phenomenon but it is an unwritten law that Scandinavians still offer the finest and catchiest tunes for this genre and so Jarmo Ollila does his best to provide the required human warmth with his nice timbre into the synthetic sound of his partner. Both are teaming up perfectly and offer usable stuff to the dancefloor-addicts with the faster tunes like "Grains of Sand", "Set Me Free" or "Vicious Circle".
Deeper impressed I am with their more mid-tempo based and richly-detailled arranged tracks like "Fire In Me" (this one must be their secret "Any Second Now"-dedication track...) "Drown" and the brillant balladesque "Weeping" to close this album sentimentaly.
If you have heard the to my opinion excellent new Erasure-album "World Be Gone" and if you miss on it a bit more nostalgia into arrangements and a bit more rhythm-/percussion-work then you should definitely check out this brillant produced album of Daily Planet. Classic Synth- / Electropop cannot be produced much better than on this one.
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Artist: Circa Tapes
Title: Love And Venom
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Medical Records
A richly textured concoction of dark synthwave, Adam Killing (of Kill Memory Clash)’s third solo album as “Circa Tapes” is a moody collection of slightly muddy-sounding, sinister-ish dark electropop that’s quite enjoyably indulgent. Sometimes Cabaret Voltaire-style vocals float over the pop of slowly evolving layers of synthetic loops, light drums and moody pads.

There’s no problem locking into some solid synth grooves here, though the songwriting and structuring does sometimes feel a bit languid. Some pieces, like “SLS”, take the synth work in a more techno direction and leave you wondering what a reworking would sound like with thicker, more club-orientated drums and structures. “Carravo” sounds like it’s desperate to break into a slab of deep house.

A handful of interludes, such as “Alucarda” mixing imitation choral sounds with filmic soundbites, have an almost tongue-in-cheek feel to them.

The modern and brighter production touches, particularly on the bass elements, are what make this sound like a 2017 release rather than something truly backwards-facing. It still has a very introspective, almost shy tone, as though “nervous dark synthpop” ought to be the beginning of a new genre.
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Artist: Lucio Morandi (@)
Title: Academy Of Secrets
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Humanhood Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Lucio Morandi sounds like a new name in the experimental music genre but this recording was made in 1991 as an alias of a prolific sound artist more commonly known as Minóy. Stanley Keith Bowsza passed in 2010, before this, in his time releasing material he released many tapes under his own label Minóy Cassetteworks and many other well-known labels of the late 80's and early 90's.

After his death, a lot of the material that was unreleased was handed over to Phillip Klingler, who may be better known as the recording artist PBK. The material from this digital release was found in one of the boxes and remastered by PBK in 2017.

The release is titled Academy Of Secrets and is broken down into the following parts.

Tracks 1-4 History Is Constructed Through Reproduction. What Is Unreproducible Is Unknown:

This part of the release contains what could be a soundtrack to a Horror or Sci-fi film or TV show from the late 80's or early 90's. Orchestral sounds with some digital effects and some excellent dreamy ambient interludes. This music could easily have been used in more recent shows like Stranger Things or some of the recent 80's inspired movies like The Void.

Tracks 5-9 Giovanni Della Porta And The Hidden Laws Of Nature (Independent Of The Laws Of God).

On this part of the release, a similar but much more menacing noisy theme is apparent through out tracks 5 through 7. Track 8 begins noisy and ends in much more chill ambient / orchestral environment. Track 9 continues where 8 left off and finishes up the release nicely.

Minóy is one of those artists who has a large catalog and was very well established as an excellent musician in the field. With the project Lucio Morandi he has shifted things a little bit into a more orchestral approach. This release is an excellent introduction to the project and I hope that PBK has more releases hidden in his box of tricks.
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