Music Reviews



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Artist: Anne-James Chaton & Andy Moor
Title: Tout Ce Que Je Sais
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Unsounds
The second part of their “Heretics” series continues to fuse together Anne-James Chaton’s French-language freeform and sometimes quite frenetic beat poetry with Andy Moor (The Ex)’s looped and layered improvised and mostly rhythm-driven experimental guitar work.

It’s recorded live, though you wouldn’t tell from the sound quality, which is very rich and deep- only the appreciate audience responses between tracks give it away. A curious bit of anachronistic soundscaping after the first track, seemingly featuring bees and tractors, is shortlived and not fully explored, with the release focussing almost exclusively on guitar and voice.

Being unable to speak French, the voice here is just another instrument to be judged on sonic rather than lyrical quality, but it stands up well in that regard. It’s dramatic, well-performed, both evocative and strangely authoritative, though there isn’t necessarily a great deal of variation between pieces which is highlighted more when you don’t understand what’s being said.

The guitar, meanwhile, generally has one particular sound, but does adopt a variety of playing styles- “Coquins coquettes et cocus” being more than halfway to full-on rock guitar, “Clair Obscur” being a little more folksy, “Casino rabelaisien” being somewhat darker.

Final track “The Things That Belong To William” (again a French-language track despite the title) stands out for being more freeform, using timestretched vocal recordings as a throat-singing-style atmospheric bed and using the guitar for spontaneous and dynamic clanging rather than the beat patterns that dominate most of the other tracks.

It’s a strong piece of guitar poetry in a relatively conventional style, and thankfully you don’t have to speak French to appreciate it.
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Artist: Eliezer
Title: The man from 94
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Unterman
The debut EP from Tel Aviv-based Eliezer is an EP made up of two original tracks and a remix of each. It also marks the first release for the Unterman label. And it’s a debut that’s polished and competent rather than outstanding.

“Frani” is a steady house groove over which squelchy synthwavey noises gradually twiddle their way across. The rocky, aggressive spoken word sample feels to be at a higher energy level than the rest of the track and ends up a little disconnected, save for when it’s being cut up and played with. Gabriel Ferreira’s remix is a stripped-back and deeper affair that turns those cut-up vocal parts into soft percussive tones sparsely sprinkled over a thick kick and simple throbbing bass.

“No Tears” is also a little darker, a moodier synthwave affair of long pads, sustained strings and analogue arpeggios. The Naduve remix is quite faithful, brightening the rhythm up a bit and adding a decidedly 80’s bass sound but falling very close to the tree as remixes go.

Confident and leisurely, it’s a nice pack that shows promise rather than brilliance.
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Artist: DVS NME
Title: Neural Chain
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ukonx Recordings
Rated: *****
Founded in 2011 in France by the electro producer Stephane Bastien which is also active under the moniker of Deemphasis, Ukonx Recordings, after four years of pause, is back on track with its ninth release. After releasing music by Fleck ESC, Micro Control Unit, Deemphasis itself plus a compilation, for its come back Ukonx Recordings picked up DVS NME. At Chain D.L.K. we already talked about the project of Johan Sebastian Bot and also for him this is a sort of come back, as in the latest four years he focused his efforts mainly on his weekly radio program Dark Science Electro broadcasted on Intergalactic FM. After releasing tracks on some compilations, "Neural Chain“ is his newest EP. Available at the Bandcamp page of the label, the EP is a collaborative project with Meta Complex, Franck Kartell and Deemphasis. The first three tracks born from the collaboration with the aforementioned projects and they all sound mysterious, robotic and inspired. The classic electro influences, which are going from Kratwerk to Detroit electro, are there, but they are really well dosed and you’ll find yourself wanting for more. After an appetiser of three tracks, as dessert, we have "Departure“, an original mid tempo tune composed by Johan alone. This track is a mixture of melancholy, mystery and it has a sort of "suspended in time“ feeling. You can check and purchase this really good EP at this link: https://ukonx.bandcamp.com/album/neural-chain
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Artist: Shy Layers
Title: Midnight Markers
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Beats In Space
Despite being described as “between darkness and light”, light is undoubtedly the victor on this jaunty, laidback and confident genre-defying album that could loosely fit under the umbrella of poppy electronica.

Tracks like “Gateway” are fully fledged pop songs, plucky percussive grooves running under sparky guitar twangs and a variety of boldly sampled instrumentation with a soulful, often heavily-vocoded vocal sitting politely on top. The influences are broad- 70’s funk, 80’s pop with a touch of soul, modern electronica, there are aspects of all of them in there. “Lover’s Code” even has a sound which would have to be described as funky synth sax stabs- but which aren’t nearly as bad as that description might imply.

Other tracks are a little sparser and more lightweight, but still bright and breezy, such as the Rhodes-esque keys-laden instrumental “Test Pattern”, or the radio-friendly open-air vibe of “No Road” on which the vocoding is so thick that the lead vocal becomes almost completely indecipherable and becomes a notes-only, lyricless instrument and letting the backing vocals come to the front in an unusual fashion.

It’s a relaxing and feel-good Friday afternoon sort of an album with a refreshing, almost naive optimism to it, and I hope it does well.
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Artist: John Tilbury / Keith Rowe / Kjell Bjørgeengen
Title: Sissel
Format: CD + Download
Label: Sofa
Recorded live in 2016, “Sissel” is a sombre, single 48-minute live performance from the trio who seem to avoid describing the instrumentation they use- to my ears it’s almost exclusively piano and analogue electronics, with hints of found sounds and atmospherics. Soft and very sparse piano notes and simple repetitive chords play both with and against hard-edged raw electric sparking, gritty rumblings and percussive noises. Prolonged periods of emptiness or near-emptiness, particularly towards the end, give rise to phenomenally awkward silences.

Performed a few weeks after one of the artists suffered a great personal loss, there’s undoubtedly a sense of eulogy and space here, with sorrow worn firmly on the sleeve. To the retrospective listener this gives it a decidedly cathartic function. It’s a properly sobering listen, and not altogether enjoyable from an emotional point of view. But it’s remarkably calm, never angry, and that’s why it’s likely to find a place in other people’s hearts as well. But it’s not for the emotionally faint-hearted.
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