Music Reviews



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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: The Chronicles (Volume 1)
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Modular Expansion Records
Distributor: DBH
The Modular Expansion label may have been named after analogue modular synths, but there's a tight, digital feel throughout this compilation. The label clearly has a consistent and targeted musical vision, as there's a homogeneity of sound here that's rare in a various artists compilation.

"Telesto" is a modest unassuming start, a rhythm primer and a mood setter, and it's only halfway through the Scan Mode remix of "Vier Haufen" that a sense of loop progression and chord starts to take hold. "0011010"'s breakdown ups the suspense level and sounds like the kind of techno anxiety attack you can dance to. Label founder George Aspergis' tracks tend to be on the deeper side, with the Lee Holman remix of "Minthe" a conglomeration of a robots-only disco and a distant space battle.

Absent's "Cycle II" has a sense of immediacy to it that snaps you out of your trance and reminds you where your heartbeat is. Module One's "Relay" picks up this baton with some compelling synth stabs and the Invite remix of "Friction Of A Mind" raises the threat level to a code yellow. After a selection of stomping and more aggressive tunes, the routine returns with George Aspergis's "Quelle" rolling like a high-speed train.

Stardice's "Variables By Sound" brings things to a low-key conclusion, with dub-style delays and washes that are strongly attention-worthy.

It's a well-sequenced collection of unmixed tracks, crying out for a DJ to do the simple job of beatmatching it all together into a single hour-long journey into deep, deep, deep space.
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Artist: Conduct (@)
Title: Borderlands
Format: CD
Label: Blu Mar Ten Music (@)
Rated: *****
Even if Robin Andrews and Chris Edwards, the men behind the curtains of Conduct, don't actually wink at dance floors by catchy sonorities, you will easily realize why many well-known big names of drum'n'bass scene - including Noisia, London Elektricity, Reso or Doc Scott, to name a few of them) - keep on supporting their outputs after an attentive listening to their recent release on the appreciated imprint Blu Mar Ten. Their music tries to intertwine more or less fast-rolling patterns, which sometimes get closer to 170 bpm, and masterfully crafted harmonies or soundtrack-like melodies. "Borderlands" could be considered their very first album, but their skills in handling two symbiotic and seemingly contrasting entities in their sound could be more spontaneously feature more trained sound makers as you can easily guess since the opening tune "Meraki" - the title is maybe a reference to the well-known company founded by two former MIT PhD students -, where touching orchestral cinematic samples peacefully share the same nest with more aggressive percussive patterns. Their passion for soundtracks spurts on the following track "Archaic", where echoes of Western movies got evoked by an excellent guitar sound and drum patterns that seem to evoke the battle of two gunfighters while their bullets melts as a consequence of the red-hot temperature of a forgotten desert place, the place where this imaginary scene could occur, and this kind of reverie and sonic interferences occur here and there in many moments of the album, such the brilliant "Bat Country" - a track inspired by a scenic place in between Los Angeles and Las Vegas -. The grandiose appearance of a piano in "Piano Tunes", spiced by robotic hiccups and catchy mid-tempo, and the likewise emotional breaching of African scents over the hyper-real melancholic breezes of "Turmoil" precede the title-track "Borderlands", one of the highest moment of the whole album that is going to meet the tastes of the lovers of the most "scientific" side of drum'n'bass (Photek, Teebee). Tunes like "Faux", "Grand Panjadrum" or the bizarre hybrid between Vivaldi-like aria, alien vocals over smashing hits of kalimba and wooshing synths in "Beta's Error" as well as "Silkworm" - maybe the more predictable moment of the whole album - could resemble the very first steps of The Upbeats or Faun. Last but not least - even doubly important - the final track "Divergence", where the overlapping between natural and artificial sonorities, severe seriousness and light-heartedness, yin and yang, light and shade complete such a bipolar consecration.
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Artist: Godlesstate
Title: Godlesstate
Format: CD
Label: Hagshadow
Rated: *****
I think that if I name to you Patrick Leagas, there's no need to explain his history... you know... Death In June, Sixth Comm, Mother Destruction, etc. Well, as far as we know, Patrick decided to close the Sixth Comm chapter with the "One Mans Hel" album (here reviewed time ago, so make a search on the reviews section) and now he's focusing on the new project called Godlesstate. With this one, he just released a self named CD on Hagshadow containing eleven new tracks.. Influenced by his interest in archeology and social/spiritual history of mankind, Patrick created something deeply connected to nature. Frequently he takes his bike and travels through England just to stop into places that he feels connected to and, there, he passes some time to take inspiration. Because of this process, I see him like a shaman which is creating his own way to talk to gods and tracks like "Cedar Forest" or the following "Enkidu's Wildness" are the proof that he's good into that, because they have an hypnotic effect on me. Most of the track are based on many percussive sounds with layers of electronic effects, blow instruments and chants. "Ice Voyage", instead, is a track on its own, because it's based on orchestral sounds, natural sounds, spoken word and it's really taking you somewhere else. If I should picture it, it's like looking to the ocean from a cliff. Also "Doggerland", is another track where orchestrations are mixed with synth frequencies and it's really breathtaking with its ten minutes of length where a apparent calm is taking you to a journey through time. You know, after listening to "Godlesstate" for the third time, I'm finding myself writing sparse sentences because I'm really into the sounds and into the atmospheres created and this is what music should provoke: a total absorption.
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Artist: Vloyd
Title: Stamp EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Credo
Distributor: Bandcamp
"Stamp" is a throbbing, relentless low-frequency workout with such a deep reverberation throughout that it sounds more like your neighbours are listening to it, rather than you. The "come on let's go" sample is straight out of the classic Josh Wink songbook.

As the name suggests "Zen" is milder, but everything's relative; it's still a dark and brooding six-minute drum cycle, except that the percussion issues at least a passing acknowledgement to the higher frequencies. The other ingredients, such as the deep breathing and the resistance to change, closely follow the title track's formula.

The Alex Bau remix of "Stamp" notches up the urgency and re-orders things in a slightly more progressive way, but stays so close in spirit to the original that the remix and original are interchangeable.

Alex Dolby's take on "Stamp" ramps up the tempo a lot, adding claps, filters and electrotech flavours and ditching the vocal. The long breakdown works a treat but it can feel a bit frantic if you've already been lured into the walking pace of the previous three tracks. At the end it drops sharply off a cliff as if the money ran out, giving an abrupt end to an otherwise very consistent package.

This is a solid and single-minded clutch of stomping tracks on Credo.
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Artist: Ardan Bel
Title: Ganshi EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Redlight Music
Distributor: Dig Dis
This is a confident, assured and also quite relaxed package of leisurely tech-house instrumentals. Everything ticks along with an impressive amount of polish and grooves that could definitely be described as being on the smooth side. The basslines are long and straight, like a long cross-contintental drive. Wave your arms and let it wash over you, these are solid mid-set numbers that keep your feet moving without ever troubling you with any real highs or lows.

Things get more melodic and synth-heavy as it progresses, with title track "Ganshi" arguably a stronger and more memorable track than the opener "Aquilegia".

Ironically, since the EP is named after track 2 and it's track 1 that was given a remix as track 4, it's track 3 that's probably the stand-out of the bunch. "Mankib", with its mellow looping chords, is the poppiest number of the package and the one that seems to be most beginning out for a vocal. As the chords start getting higher and more anxious four minutes in, there's a sense of building tension which is otherwise absent from the laidback demeanour heard through the rest of the EP. Six minutes is your lot though- it drops off a cliff at the end, as if there were some law about making tech-house that reached the seven minute mark. The Liquid Mirror's remix of "Aquilegia" stays in the same ballpark, switching things around a little but staying fairly faithful to the overall mood.
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