Music Reviews



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Artist: The Binary Mind
Title: The Bankrunner
Format: 12"
Label: Decoder Recordings (@)
Distributor: Straight
Rated: *****
The intrinsic social and political criticism inside the intriguing sonic code of techno music, which mainly marked the first breeding grounds of that scene before thesome producers become somehow sclerotic on sound technologies, sometimes comes back and the brilliant Dutch producer Christiaan van Tienhoven seems to render money, the most efficient contemporary weapon of mass enslavement, by means of his declension of techno: the pressing progressions of the title-track "The Bankrunner" that ignite the first drop of Decoder Recordings, his newborn label, get more and more overwhelming while the other sonic entities evoke a strangling race against time; the swirling sequences and the metallic friction of the following track "Cold Space Dust" twist listeners into a sort of freezing chokehold, while the highly-energetic hypnotic rumbling of "Moonhiking" and the ghastly atmospheres of "Bugs" draw stunning computational mantras. Good firestarter!
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Artist: deNeuve (@)
Title: Old Bruce
Format: 12"
Label: Blowpipe Records
Rated: *****
deNeuve is André Bach & Mark Tegefoss who have a long history of working together, most notably in the project Det Wiehl, which has been around since 1973, with 9 or so releases on cassette and CD from 1983 up til the present. They were also in Tox Modell in the 80's, a notable band of the Dutch ULTRA scene, remarkable for heavy guitar, bass and vocals, but no drums, percussion or rhythm machines of any kind. I don't think deNeuve's work on 'Old Bruce', a 4-track 12" (plays at 45rpm) is that far removed from Det Wiehl, but perhaps more steeped in the industrial. Title track "Old Bruce" has an industrial beat that could sync up well with a heavy duty washing machine, garbled vocal samples where a phrase can occasionally be made out ("and over time") repeated sample of a piano glissando, various types of noise, and incessant pulse-throb bass. "Les Grande Demis" sounds like the French pixie sisters trapped in a heavy machine shop with a lumbering monotonous beat. "Ruski" features various vocal samples (presumably Russian) in a bizarre rhythmic industrial environment. "Morningboy" begins with a manipulated, echoed vocal sample over a muted machine rhythm followed by other sonic elements, then the heavy machine rhythm kicks in accented by sharp harsh noise shots. Intelligible female vocal samples emerge ("You're a boy"...deaf and blind...I'm sorry...nowhere else to go..", etc.), a repetitive rhythmic sample of thrumming bass strings, and a number of other sonic elements. The whole of 'Old Bruce' is fairly disarming. Experimental industrial no doubt, and most certainly alienated. For me, it was a bit too much, difficult listening to the max. For those of you braver sorts, it's available in either pink or blue vinyl.
Feb 03 2015
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Artist: Necro Deathmort (@)
Title: EP2
Format: 12"
Label: Distraction Records (@)
Rated: *****
When I last heard anything from AJ Cookson and Matthew Rozeik's Necro Deathmort project it was back in 2012 when I reviewed 'The Colonial Script'. The boys have not been idle since then, releasing two more albums and two EPs of material, of which this is the second, obviously titled 'EP2'. I had not heard any of the aforementioned, so I checked out 'EP1' on the Distraction Records site and I must say it's quite different from 'EP2'. Compared to 'EP1', 'Ep2' is quite minimal, but neither of them are anything like 'The Colonial Script'. 'EP1' is like krautrock in hell and full of nightmarish demonic ambiences, while 'EP2' seems coldwave claustrophobic in comparison. First track, "Sundive" employs a minimal beat with noise-pop snare, dark drones, and deep chambered percussive hits. "Mirus" begins with a slow, ominous sustained bass tonal pattern, and eventually a higher drone emerges, then the doom chords and drums come in, crawling, building in intensity, then finishing with the bass pattern. "Channel Fever" begins with a minimal beat accompanied by chittering sequenced percussion (reminded me a lawn sprinkler) with heavy dark drones of various types wafting through the ambience. Beat and percussion stops for a spell, and at one point I think of Tangerine Dream in their more dark ambient moments. Chittering percussion begins again, and then the beat comes back. Dissolve to black. "Bleeding" is a classic doom metal grinder, but not much more than that. "Deadlight" is full of sustained, warped synth chords and drones, atmospheric, but very minimal. Finishing off the EP, "Aer" begins with the repeating mono-note from the tail end of "Deadlight" adding a slow bass and synth progression as well as other ambient and percussive elements, including cymbals. Imagine if the music of John Carpenter was to plunge headlong into doom and darkness and you get some idea. "Aer" is the best track on the EP and worth wading through some of the others to get to. While 'EP2' has its moments, I did like 'EP1' better. Still, somewhere down the line in the future, Necro Deathmort's 'EP2' is likely to be regarded as a minimal electronic doom classic, and there are those out there who will absolutely love it start to finish. I'm kind of a picky bastard, and in light of what I've heard from Necro Deathmort previously, I don't really consider 'EP2' one of their stronger efforts. Available on Limited Edition (333 copies, with only 17 left) vinyl which includes download options.
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Artist: Big Hare
Title: Evening Rites
Format: 10"
Label: Blowpipe Records (@)
Rated: *****
Big Hare is the duo of Luuk Ottenhof (vocals, korg er-1, percussion, montessori bells, acoustic guitar, window) and Tim Fraanje (korg ea-1, monotribe, electric guitar, ukelele, plant) from Ultrecht, Netherlands, and 'Evening Rites' is presumably their debut EP on Blowpipe, a six-track 10" on white vinyl. I know enough from other artists on the Blowpipe roster to expect the unexpected, so I wasn't completely caught off guard like I was when Rooie Waas threw me for a loop. Big Hare produces quirky synth-pop that isn't totally synthesizer oriented, although it's still a major component of the music. To a degree it reminds me of the Residents gone pop, but with cartoony vocals in harmony. Lyrics are pretty off the wall - "don't you look at mirrors with your disembodied eye, I would like you to be my spy in disguise, let me strangle you so we can maintain the lie, let's all get liquid and lucid and deny" (from "Liquid & Lucid"), but fortunately, they do sing in English. As far as synthop goes, it's fairly minimal, yet infectious. "Headphones" makes me think of Massive Attack gone bonkers. Sometimes things are just goofy, like on "March Hare" with a marching beat, odd harmonies, and lyrics that would have Lewis Carroll scratching his head. Backing vocals on "Evening Rites" sound like a chorus of kitties meowing the word "now". While Big Hare's peculiar brand of low-key synthpop may not appeal to everyone, there's no doubt in my mind these lads are doing something quite different, and that's something to be appreciated.
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Artist: Mokhov (@)
Title: Future Hope
Format: CD
Label: Sun Sea Sky Productions (@)
Rated: *****
Mokhov is Russian-born, American-raised, Las Vegas-based electronic musician-composer Oleg Mokhov, and 'Future Hope' is his fourth album, the first on Sun Sea Sky. Mokhov makes music in a similar vein to Bonobo, Röyksopp, Four Tet and Boards of Canada. I have never heard any of his other works before, so 'Future Hope' is my introduction and only frame of reference. In reviewing other Sun Sea Sky artists (Melorman, Northcape) I know them to favor the melodic-ambient, or melambient as I call it, and to that extent Mokhov fits right in, although different to a degree, which is a good thing. For one thing, his rhythms are more trip hopish. There is more of a Nu-jazz vibe here too. On many tracks, a sequenced synth riff is at the heart of it, and everything plays off that, almost improvisationally, except for the rhythm. That's symptomatic of composing from the top (melody) to bottom (bass and rhythm). The jazz element is especially noticeable in Mokhov's bass lines, which are melodic and elaborate. Compared to other arists on the Sun Sea Sky roster, Mokhov is a lot less laid back, although there are plenty of mellow moments. For a laptop composer he has a nice varied sound palette too. Compositions are generally rich and engaging, upbeat and happy too, like Boards of Canada, but without the dialogue samples so often employed by them. Melodically, nothing stands out as ultimately memorable, but the music of Mokhov seems to be more about the groove and the vibe. This is the kind of stuff that would play well at a hipster wine bar; people would really like it, but they wouldn't know why. In the future, I'd hope to hear what Mokhov would come up with if he collaborated with a vocalist (preferably female), but for now I'll take my Mokhov with another glass of Malbec please.
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