Music Reviews



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Artist: Imaginary Forces (@)
Title: Visitation
Format: 12"
Label: Fang Bomb (@)
Rated: *****
Even if the genre has reached a level of saturation, there are still many impressive outputs in the highly contaminated basins of minimal techno, such as this nice one by Imaginary Forces, the brainchild of London-based Anthony J Hart, who isn't certainly a newcomer due to some notoriety he particularly gained in the underground scene of the British capital city by means of some good releases where he mainly threw drum 'n' bass, jungle or techno sonorities on the barbed wires of power electronics and noise. This record on Swedish label Fang Bomb could get tagged as minimal due to the fact he melts together not so many sounds and noises in each single track, but he did it by following many different strategies where the main glue of these elements got based on a series of subtly stunning and slowly thundering bass pulsations. They could be considered as appropriately thundering in the opening track "Preternatural," whose sound seems to render one of those epic scenes, where listeners could imagine like on the edge of a storm, fed by mysteriously destructive (imaginary) forces. Likewise roaring clangs ignite the hypnotical swirling, the dark trotting and the menacingly sneaking distorted brass of "Enlightenment", while these Imaginary Forces get closer to the abstract alien techno I heard by some artists on Sounds Never Seen, Rephlex and Plasmek on "Visitation" (the looped electrical strains over what could be to matched to the disquieting cries by an alien hymenopterans on this track are simply amazing) and to the deranged overclocking on some "old" experimental techno outputs by Electric Light, Rechenzentrum or Column One on the final (A Drift), whose crosses between convulsive ticking, ligneous and prettily numbing hits and alien frequencies perfectly fits to the lyrical content of the spoken words by Closed Circuits.
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Artist: Snitch
Title: Skalen EP
Format: 12"
Label: Wavereform
Distributor: Decks.de
Berlin-based Snitch uses hardware only to generate his "sensible techno music". Don't let the hipster chillout yellow artwork fool you, this is deep impenetrable beat territory.

"Skalen" is a syncopated single-minded thumper, with subtle hollow sweeps the only respite to the relentless short-patterned industrial-strength kicks.

Second track "Kromag" is very slightly lighter on its feet, but still in the same tribal, low-end format. The Laiva remix is a subtle reworking rather than an overhaul, bringing in some extra bleeps to heighten the tension and working out a more measured sonic build-up, and in doing so making itself the highlight track of the release.

This release might not be oozing variety or originality but as a 12" helping of thick kicks and sinister atmospheres, it's got attitude by the bucketload.
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Artist: Attaché
Title: Edinburgh EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: International Day Off
Distributor: DBH
This is a really polished, layered EP from the Polish-or-possibly-Czech Attaché. Whilst the press release makes a point of referencing the house sound of '90's UK, I don't agree- this is bang-up-to-date deep progressive 4/4.

Opening track "Atoll" is a measured, quite leisurely stroll across techno's more daytime side. The Blazej Malinowski remix brings it back into the darkness, with a slightly sinister twist, though the remix does end up feeling like the most ordinary track of the pack.

"Berliner Blast" is a beautifully-handled eleven minute journey, mesmeric and captivating. It's always a class piece of work when an essentially repetitive form like this can turn tricks and progressions that make eleven minutes of a single track not feel in any way repetitive for a second. It's the stand-out track.

Title track "Edinburgh" is more discordant and faintly jarring, with its offbeat and seemingly off-key, almost jazz-like cut-up groove samples. It's a little harder to make friends with this track. The PLEBS remix of "Edinburgh", however, with its thick rolling tribal kick drum patterns, that's a whole other story, where everything makes sense. I would love to hear the remix on a big system.

Not every track is brilliant, but it's worth the price of admission for "Berliner Blast" alone and the other tracks are all strong too.
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Artist: Denite
Title: Everything I Know And Will Ever Know About You
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Denite's album on his own Redlight Music label is electropop masquerading as deep moody, occasionally-vocal techno. It may seem to fit the mould of the achingly cool Berlin temperament, but there are times that you feel like it's only a few extra BPM and a bit of house piano away from being shameless electropop. Not that there's anything wrong with that, whatsoever, but there are times when the album feels like a sheep in wolf's clothing.

It's hard to pin down but there's also something about tracks like "Berlin" that feel just a little like they're going through the motions, really than bringing out truly emotive electronics. The synths are too warm and the vocals are too unchallenging.

"Namura" is a strong track, with its crisp gentle breakbeat and faintly acoustic-sounding elements, but it's followed by "Going, Going, Gone" which initially seems very focussed on a one-chord progressive journey, yet somehow manages to lose its way by the time we get to what sounds like an improvised stylophone solo in the middle. "The Art Of Letting Go"'s saw-wave-heavy pads and slightly fuzzy bassline sound like an attempt to arrange 2016 techno using 1990's technology. "Every End Is A New Beginning", apart from the vocal sample towards the end, takes that even further and sounds like an extract from an unreleased soundtrack from Knight Rider where David Hasselhoff is creeping round a warehouse talking to his watch.

At three and a half minutes, "Lost Connection" is almost an interlude rather than a track, yet with its open-air soul vocal sample and piano chords, there's more than a whiff of Moby's "Play" album about it. Cutting-edge it might not be, but it's an example of how a bit of diversity and experimentation can really lift proceedings.

All the elements are all in the right places, and some tracks like "When You Lose Yourself" are borderline beautiful, but too many tracks on this release are not quite one thing or another- not quite filmic, not quite minimal, not quite pop, not quite house.
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Artist: Slobodan Kajkut
Title: Terrible Fake
Format: 12"
Label: God Records (@)
Rated: *****
According to the linear notes by the label, this output by Slobodan Kajkut - the brilliant man behind GOD Records - "explores rhythmic relationships between drums and piano in the context of the somewhat crippled art of trip-hop". Maybe tagging it as "trip-hop" could be deceitful, but this exploration is somehow trippy. The very first seconds could perhaps resemble the exercises on piano (played by Anton Polk) and drums (hit by Istok Klemen) of someone who never played them before with a vague (almost unexisting) sense of rhythm and melody, but the deeper you get into it, the more pleasantly unsettling us the listening experience he offered. The above-sketched element - the supposed musical illiteracy of the composer - could be the very first fake one of this release, as Slobodan studied composition with quite a renown Austrian music theorists and academic teachers such as Clemens GadenstÄtter, Gerd Kühr, and Georg Friedrich Haas. The most genuinely controversial aspect lays in the fact he artificially unmatched piano and drums, which are considered two "harmonizing" instruments in a composition (their presence could let a listener perceive even a bunch of nonsensical noises as something appropriately musical). Piano and drums got turned into two entities, whose sparse and disarticulated voices seem to mirror the lack of communication as well as their intimate isolation. By reprising the explanatory linear notes about the first of the two 20-minutes lasting part of this release: "[Terrible Fake] is mostly based on irregular beats to create kind of fragmented groove. Different characters are also emphasized through mostly chromatic movements of the piano in various registers, producing either undefined tonal system or droning wall of sound". The presence of compositional elements in the second part, titled "terrible Dub", are even more rarefied, as it "is nevertheless a "dub" version of the piece which minimizes Terrible Fake to its fundamentals regarding time and pitch, where both parameters are stretched. A slow movement based on the core of dub music itself, which are bass and drums...". The crippling sense of detachment, which oozes out of the first part, is remarkably stressed in this second half by every single rarefied percussive or tonal blip to the extent that a listener could be not so sure these resounding entities could be accurately labeled as tones or beats.
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