Music Reviews



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Artist: Sunchase / Detail
Title: Nathnennia / Green Rain
Format: 12"
Label: Utopia Music (@)
Distributor: S.T. Holdings Ltd.
Rated: *****
Both these two new grasps on Bristol-based Stephen Mako's Utopia Music growing tree come from Ukrainian creative fertile grounds. On side A, the surprising producer Alexander Pavlenko, who signed many releases on various labels and an album on German label Drone Audio, delivers "Nathnennia", a delightfully polished track whose emotional warmth, infused by a piano-driven minimalistic melody, a padded sonic envoronment, sudden electric bursts and some occasional abrasive wipes, seems to get validated by the recordings of dropping crystals and cracking sheets of ice, which vividly evoke an otherworldly land of enchantment, whose brightness gets more visible after its thick ice protective shield seems to become thinner and thinner. The images evoked by 20-years old phenomenal producer Daniil Marin aka Detail on his tune "Green Rain" are quite different and not totally Matrix-inspired as the title could suggest: the sinister squeaking of rusty chains, the sudden assaults of drum geysers, the electronic bottlenecks, the dogged tribal steps and other details could certainly evoke some totemic aspects of hacker's communities, but these elements manage to seduce both darker and springier souls of the dancefloors from the stylistical viewpoint.
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Artist: Chroma (@)
Title: Intermission/Knock Knock
Format: 12"
Label: C.I.A. Records (@)
Rated: *****
After the prolific Newscastle-based dnb producers James Smith aka Phobia, Kevin bell aka Sato and Ben Duncan aka Tyrone singly dropped sonic bombs on the catalogues of many eminent labels such as Renegade Hardware, Critical, Symmetry, Ingredients and Med School, they joined their forces on Chroma, a project lauched on Klute's Commercial Suicide, Ram's new label Program and Phobia own Coded imprint by means of very good rollers such as "Always Be", "Acetate" and "So Alone", and have announced a new sonic assault on different labels. This release on the renowned C.I.A. perfectly adheres to the uncompromising sonic policy of Total Science's label: they don't show to be thrifty with bursts of speed on "Intermission", which spits fire by means of a pressurized old-school jungle groove, a foaming sub-bass tone and a sound which seems to come from a marble rolling on a metallic surface and furious tribal fills. The suffocating pressure of "Intermission" has been tempered on the flipside track, "Knock Knock", by the gliding of a sample, which preserves the above-mentioned jungle roasting together with the female vocal sample they inserted and got alternated with hard-hitting moments over a sustained flow of jerking drum rolls.
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Artist: Aoki Takamasa (@)
Title: RV8
Format: CD
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
RV8 could be mistaken for the abbreviation of some glossy and efficient engine, but it just refers to the eight rhythm variations that the talented Osaka-based producer Aoki Takamasa, who already delighted Raster Noton's followers by a similar glitch and rhythmic noise oriented release for the unum series in 2009, built with the complicity of Yoshihori Sunahara, who mastered them in a masterly manner. While listening to Aoki's amazing intense moulding on breaks and the engaging way he pixelates, hones or fulminates loops, listeners could imagine him in the act of grapping with levers, buttons, switches, squirt guns, die grinders, welders, belt sanders and other bizarre gizmos. The high appeal which fibrillating vibes and calibrated extrusions of rhythmical patterns by means of vivid samples, vocal snippets, bumping core drills, pleasingly elasticated synthetic tunes could share with dancefloors could even let you imagine Aoki's activity has more similarities with the one by a puppeteer of robotic marionettes that he inspirits by his own playful crossbreeding of grounds of mechanical loops or electric field with stylistical contraptions from downbeat, house, r'n'b and breakbeat. In spite of the substantial homogeneity, each amalgamation bursts with intriguing fast-moving dynamics: percussive elements such as claps, patters, chimes, bops and clackings gleefully wag around listeners by evoking perpetual motions even on the most chilling (particularly the third and the eighth ones) or the most "technoid" variations and its inner batch processing (as suggested by Kohei Terazono's words to describe this release: "beat clap chop pierce thrust polish warp twist burst squeeze expand cut stick overlap shift bend grate paralyze detach stack slip envelope coalesce vibrate shine dim radiate slice weave converge embrace unravel stiffen tremble elapse sink leap float dance drift swell resonate overflow") never sounds tedious or excessively droning. Check it out!
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Artist: Acid Washed
Title: House Of Melancholy
Format: CD
Label: Record Makers
Rated: *****
Three years ago Acid Washed, the French duo formed by Andrew Claristidge and Richard d'Alpert released their self titled debut for Record Makers and instantly had their first two opening tracks off that album echoing into the dance floors. "General Motors, Detroit, America" and "Snake" were mixing electro to house and early 80s dance music (the title track is a retro blast) in a fresh and energetic way and just loved their way of creating catchy melodies with a good taste for warm synth sounds. Now the wait is over and Acid Washed are delivering always through Record Markers their new album "House Of Melancholy". The new ten tracks mix house, electro, late 70s early 80s electronic influences of the likes of Philip Glass, Vangelis, John Carpenter and much more. The opening track "Heartbeat Makes" is solemn like an electronic version of "Also Spratch Zarathustra" and it's followed by an instant electropop hit "Fire N' Rain" sung by Blaq Shampu. The first time I listened to it I thought about a mix of 80s pop (like a George Michael dance hit) and 90s seducing techno house. It has it all: sensuality, melody and a catchy refrain! "Golem's Dance" is a particular track: it's based on a nice piano upbeat melody coupled by 808 drum beats, synth pads and it has a certain cinematic atmosphere. "Prince Acid" starts with a 4/4 beats and a cool dark atmosphere and plays around nice melodies and arpeggios alternating in crescendo moments. "For Your Eyes Only" is another instrumental track which reminds me of 80s synth soundtracks. "Gasoline" is a melancholic synth ballad with a deep male voice. "Hello Universe" reminds me of Air for its soft atmosphere and it's a beautiful electro tune with the female voice of "Miss Kittin". "Celestial Choirs Of Barbes" is an atmospheric instrumental mid tempo with pads and nice acid intuitions (bass lines and some rhythms). "Nautilus" is a spacey tune inspired by 90s house and techno with 70s synth melodic solos. The main track closes the album and it's the one I found less immediate as at first sounds like a patchwork of dance, jazz piano chords with classic orchestral intuitions. Anyway, I enjoyed "House Of Melancholy" and thanks to Joakim at the production board, Yan Wagner, Miss Kittin and Ahmad Larnes on vocals, the comrades Hypnolove, Turzi or La Mverte playing around with keyboards and stuff, Andrew Claristidge and Richard d'Alpert may be happy about the final result. The album will be out on June the 3rd in France and then on July in Uk and rest of the world.
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Artist: Mike Cooper
Title: White Shadows In The South Seas
Format: CD
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
Both the title of this intriguing album by 71-years old Mike Cooper and some semantic clues which lend a narrative structure too its fourteen tracks evoke "White Shadows in the South Seas", an old silent movie by Californean director Woodbridge String "Woody" Van Dyke Jr., focused on the vicissitudes and adventures of an alcoholic doctor Dr.Matthew Lloyd (the "Dr.Derelict of the initial track?), who got tricked by his employer to embark on a ship with a deceased crew due to the obstacle the doctor's aversion of exploitation of Polynesian natives by white people was causing to his marauding purposes. A storm will deliver Dr.Lloyd to a community of natives on an unknown isle, whose inhabitants had never seen a white man. There're undoubtedly many references to the personal experiences of Mr.Cooper, who has spent a lot of time in tours and explorations of Oceania, a fascinating continent which digged a groove on his musical and artistic production, including a sort of radiophonic documentary "Beach Crossings - Pacific Footprints", commissioned by Italian and Australian radio, which retraces history from the colonisation of the Pacific isles by Europeans to Pearl Harbour and the dropping of nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, so that you can draw an imaginary parallel between Dr.Lloyd and Mr.Cooper, who can certainly make waves about his venturous wit into musical and cultural fields (there are many remarkable highights on his resume... his very first band The Blues Committee gained support by proper blues legends such Jimmy Reed, Howlin Wolf and John Lee Hooker, he recorded many session with John Peel from 1969 to 1975, he shaked London music scene by his free music group the Recendents in the 80ies and many recordings by himself have been reissued by many labels across the globe) and kept his creative spirit pristine to reshape some memes of the so-called exotica generation and whisk "white music" ingredients and Tahitian, Balinese and Hawaiaan ones in an original way, which generates overlaps of tropical sonic and rhythmical blushes, pacific slide guitars and tricky crossbreed (many listeners could surmise that "traditional" motifs like "Po Mahina" and "Hilo Hanakahi" could evoke Bizet's Carmen!). The above-mentioned narrative consistency and the insertion of atmospheric field recordings, which could let the listeners feel the soaring of birds, the rain on lehua forest or even the scent of the blossoms of hala, could dispel that faux aura, which this kind of stuff may evoke. If Mike cannot be considered an old and wise minister of the cult of Tiki as there are not so many hedonistic, stereotyped and somehow holy elements which deeply marked exotica and lounge music production, his sonic brushstrokes can turn him into a sort of Matisse for ears.
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