Music Reviews

Artist: Aidan Casserly Vs. Hyperbubble
Title: Fist in the Mirror
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Fellowshipwreck
Rated: *****
Chain D.L.K. readers already know Aidan Casserly as he's the Empire State Human's frontman plus he's been active with different other projects (Figaro, The Garland Cult and The Wazp to name a few). This time I'm talking about him because of his recent collaboration with the American synth duo Hyperbubble. Active since mid 00's, they have four albums on their back plus a new EP in collaboration with Manda Rin. Aidan and Hyperbubble have already collaborated on the duo's album "Drastic Cinematic" in 2011 as Aidan recorded some back vocals for them. Back then, they talked to produce something together and thanks to the Fellowshipwreck net label now we're able to check their single "First In The Mirror". Available as a free digital download, the single has the main track plus a remix as virtual B-side. The song sounds fresh and modern but it also has its atmosphere deeply rooted into 80s/90s synthpop. The remix, without Aidan's melodic touch, reminded me a bit Paul Hardcastle's "19". Nice single that you can have for FREE at label's website!
Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: 14 Tracks: Crepuscular Electronics
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Boomkat (@)
Rated: *****'s 14 tracks series takes you back to the glory of high school mixtapes, except in this case the friend making you the tape happens to be one of the world's leading purveyors of cutting edge electronic music. In short, they have all the good shit, the best stuff. On Crepuscular Electronics, released in October of last year "with an emphasis on slow, squashed beats, half-heard vocals and introspective autumnal atmospheres," (from the press release). I'm happy to report that this music is not seasonally effected, and the greyscale techno and vacuous romance of these 14 songs sound just as good on empty winter avenues.

'Collapsed' from Emptyset, taken from a recent 12" from Raster-Noton, opens the gates with 4 minutes of scouring static and tectonic bass, the slimiest, most earth-shattering industrial techno yr likely to find, before the mood lightens with the robotic salsa funk of Lukid's 'Manchester'. It's a slowly evolving locked groove, engineered to roll yr eyes up into yr head while yr feet pound unyielding concrete. Kingpin Andy Stott shows up with 'Expecting', cavernous echoes like dismembered memories, voices rise from the deep to swallow you whole. He takes his time before cracking the dam; a hefty 4/4 basskick comes on like an unstoppable war engine, loose chains clanking and rattling about its feet. There's slithering slime in the margins, filling the stereofield with details. This whet my appetite to have more AS in my life; the man is a boss, rightfully lauded, and bringing his black-clad comrades with him.

'Salt On The Wound' by Afterhours, from their first vinyl release on LA label Not Not Fun, is a slow groove, a midnight burn. Beatport described Sleepwalker as "like a surveillance camera through shimmering tunnels, glowing skylines and empty streets". Its a dystopian romance, a drunken cab ride into the sunset. It reminds you of Blade Runner's neon apocalypse, if its futuristic cityscape were on a volcanic island. Vessel's 'Aries' is one of this set's highlights, another slow smooth groove, full of buried sex and hidden intentions. Its like a late night tumble, with fractured chemical fantasies. Simultaneously disorienting and alluring, Sebastian Gainsborough pulls you in and fucks with yr head. Vessel is another highlight of the rising current of post-punk electronics.

The heads at Boomkat must've been on a roll at this point: 'Open To The Dark' from 1991 runs 'Charlotte Sometimes' by The Cure through a mangled-tape blender, smashing it together with blissed-out futurist synthesizers, and minimalist computer exotica. Its like a memory of the '80s, collapsed into a singularity. I'm glad to hear the futurism of that decade returning to the forefront, recalling a time when newer was always better, when anything was possible. Even if they are invoking it 30 years later. Canada's No Ufo's (named after a Model 500 song) were a new acquisition from this crop; the grooving, strobing dub techno of 'Petit A At 90' owns up to their namesake, smooth and deep and fierce, slowly growing and dissolving, floating in an amniotic limbo of its own making. Elements drift and reappear at apparent whim, making this a monster of a dancefloor nightmare. This would be right at home in a 3 am set somewhere backlit, guaranteed to put yr revelers in the zone.

It would take too long for me to describe every track in detail. They're all good in their own way. Let me be brief: Porcelain Raft's 'Talk To Me' is a churning, noisy R&B ballad. 'Still Here' by Clara Intelecto is the finest of the second half of this record, climbing high on my list of favorites from 2012, and etching its way into my penultimate pantheon. Its gorgeous, reverb-laden piano hangs over the warm round bass like the Southern Cross. This music sounds timeless, ancient; the strings are straight out of Silver Screen hollywood. This is music for epic romance at the end of time. 'Kiss me yr beautiful/these are truly the end days'.

Silent Harbour's 'Descending Radius Curve' is an unsettling listen, reminding us that industrial music and dark ambiance are still alive and quite unhealthy. 'Brook' by Throwing Snow is a kaleidoscopic journey through a radioactive arcade. 'Impasse' is the second best track of the latter half, brought to you by the intentionally misspelled Ssleeping Desiress. It sounds like latter day Coil, Gabriel Ramos doing his best John Balance (R.I.P.) over Aurora Borealis synth washes, before breaking into a dub reggae groove. This is fine make-out music! 'Bola 4' from Alex Under is 10 minutes of sound poetry, slowly growing into a dance floor bricolage. Not for the faint of heart or for the impatient, but yielding interesting results to the binaural adventurer.

Last but not least, 'Mighton Ogan Lode' from Oberman Knocks is pure paranoid fantasy, all ties from reality severed, floating in a cosmos of broken thoughts, trapped within the prison of unyielding flesh. The last two tracks of this record have mostly foregone any condescension towards the dance floor and the traditional avenues for electronic music. "a place where ideas learned from ambient techno, pop, hauntology, and sound design play out a wealth of affective emotions, textures and groove," (press release).

This is a long listen, and the continuity of tempo, mixed with the abstract electronic and disregard for pop tropes like builds and breaks, means that this will not be for everybody. But for anybody that likes to slap on a pair of headphones and go for a walk in the cold, this is a godsend. Its a useful who's who of a very singular strand of modern Techno. Its often bleak and cold, but its also romantic. This crop of producers are extracting the DNA from all the electronics of the '80s to make mighty mutants of sound. Call it cybernetic, call it futuristic; the cats at Boomkat will never steer you wrong, take you further and deeper than ever before!
Artist: Leslie Winer
Title: &c.
Format: CD
Label: The Wormhole (@)
Rated: *****
Before pre-millenium anxiety and pre-apocalyptic spiffs by Tricky, teardrops, adulterated milk and wantonness by Massive Attack and even before the embryonic maternal heartbeats by Smith & Mighty, a talented beautiful girl, who after a career as a bad-tempered supermodel forged her great artistic personality, put the foundations of that genre which has been labelled as trip-hop to such an extent that she has deservedly been defined as "the grandmother of trip-hop" in spite of the fact she objected to such a definition as she prefers to speak about a sort of mutual influence with above-mentioned musicians. But if you have a listen to this impressive collection which retraces the musical history of Leslie Winer and includes many tracks of the forerunning release "Witch", whose original release date (1993 on Transglobal, featuring Karl Bonnie, Jah Wobble and Helen Terry) got delayed after a white label got printed in 1990 and didn't gained so much visibility just for limited budget, you will recognize both stylistical seeds and themes (including what it will be later labelled as "dazed and confused") which got transmitted in many records in the aftermath as well as a vocal expressivity and a lyrical and poetical depth which haven't so many terms for comparisons yet. That remarkable album managed to stimulate brainwaves in many important musicians such as Bjork, Bomb The Bass, Bill Laswell, Mekon, Grace Jones, who succeeded in grabbing a collaboration with her. Compiled by DCPM and mastered by Denis Blackham in the enchanting set of Scottish Isle of Skye last August, this retrospect about sister Leslie as she got dubbed on the song "If" will be followed by "10 Pomes Fin (Irish Wristwatch)', first volume of Winer's poems. Really unmissable gear.
Artist: Billy Roisz (@)
Title: Walking The Monkey
Format: 12"
Label: Mego (@)
Rated: *****
This solo debut album by Austrian experimental video and sound artist Billy Roisz, known for her talent to render experimental music into visual imagery, sounds like a sort of anarchic transposition of suprematist praecepts from plastics to electricity after yuppifying them by means of contemporary treatment of frequencies and an impressive weaponry of instruments and unstruments, i.e.remote-controlled instruments where a device (normally a computer) goes between instrument and performer, such as electric bass guitar, kakophonator, kluppe (a linux-only open source loop-player and recorder, developed by Dieter Kovacic aka dieb13, who already collaborated with Billy), Flower Electronics Jealous Heart (a small battery-powered modular synthesizer, which is quite good to produce chatic clashing sounds) and a set of audible video devices. On "Walking The Monkey", she manages to organize corrosive flow of noises by tantalizing vortexes of spooky mid-frequencies ("Blue Hairy Tongues"), progressive saturations over tonal curves which look like following hyperbolic trend ("Spinning The Ecstasy"), sonic peptic ulcers (the distant smooth jazzy excerpt on the incipit of the title-track "Walking The Monkey" could let you imagine the possible mishap of an heavy drinker after many drinks), fermentations of stunning drones ("Feeding The Monsters"), thunderous flashes of noises which broaden over the sonic sphere (particularly on the track "Wave Your Hand To Sleepy Land", whose title conveniently quotes Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow"...a possible reading which could match the listening of Roisz's sonic sculptures) and high-pitched sharpening death throes of sound ("Under The Influence"). If you appreciate modulations of noise and similar stuff, just give heed to this stuff.
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Artist: Whitehorse (@)
Title: Live Ritual : July 25th 2011
Format: CD
Label: Small Doses
Rated: *****
When I put this cd in, I had no idea what to expect to be perfectly honest. I reached deep into my bag of material to review and decided for today, to skip over all of the items I knew to be calmer, ambient and soundscapes. Today I required something darker, more chaotic. So I chose Whitehorse's 'Live Ritual : July 25th 2011' based solely on the cover which utilizes their unholy beast design. I had never heard of them prior and based on the rest of what I had in the bag, was expecting more noise than anything. Well, I definitely got some noise, it was just wrapped in a buffalo skin blanket of crushing doom metal. Whitehorse seriously have perfected an absolutely brutiful sound. It blasts through in a thick wall of hate and fuck; truly an epic storm of devastation has been brewed here. The guitars just grind the soul into powder, and the underlying layer of noise washed through the brain like boric acid (in an awesome way). The vocals had a really great middle ground; not to deep and hollow but not too high and thin as some bands tend to do. They didn't get me as worked up as the music itself, but definitely better than the average. Definitely a monument for the ages, this Live Ritual brings the thunder.
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