Music Reviews

Graeme Truslove: Intuited Architectures

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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May 10 2017
Artist: Graeme Truslove
Title: Intuited Architectures
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Crónica
Graeme Truslove’s sonic mosaics use glitchy, electronic sounds to create gently disquieting ethereal soundscapes full of synthetic bubbles, clicks and pitter-patters. Exploring automation techniques, Truslove generates music that seems to be disassembling and reassembling itself.

The opening “Suite II”, in three parts, is generally quite frantic. Tones and layers shift impatiently, never settling into one arrangement for more than a few seconds. It’s a sometimes unpleasant bath to wallow in, often abrasive, yet at other times pretty.

“Elements” is somewhat simpler and darker, with some John Carpenter-esque elements as low impossibly-sustained piano notes underlie ghostly noises.

“Concrètisations X” is mellower in tone and puts the emphasis back in the micro-cut noises, complex, mechanical and challenging the distinction where one person’s ‘deconstructed’ is another person’s ‘broken’. At the beginning and end there are crunching, biting notes, but the second half certainly returns to the underwater feeling, with waves of slow breathing and muddy, deep rumbles.

Longest piece “Strata” is more audibly dominated by strained and rapid sounds sourced from a guitar- objects being dragged up the strings, guitar bodies being tapped and pulled and so on. The energy of this appears to run out after five minutes so we move to an environment of light industrial drone, one that makes you realise the importance of the space inbetween which is sometimes a little bit overlooked in these arrangements. The manner in which the guitar, and other new elements slowly reintroduce themselves is the most beautifully controlled section of the album, before another drop after fifteen minutes with guitar tones bringing us full circle to a close.

The self-devised digital instruments and processing give “Intuited Architectures” a character that’s unique, yet not a country mile from the well-trodden paths of sonic experimentation of this kind. It’s a little too manic too often for my tastes but it does exude quality and care.

v1984: Pansori

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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May 09 2017
Artist: v1984
Title: Pansori
Format: 12"
Label: Knives
“Pansori” is a 5-track (well, 4-track-and-1-interlude), 14 minute EP that wants to be simultaneously a cinematic sci-fi score and glitchy, alt-clubby electronica. Stepping light yet complex dubsteppy beats underpin coldwave-style synth chords and slow looping melodic bleeps.

The production is polished and bright, if a little un-dynamic in parts, for example in “Too Much”. The energetic use of found sound and short dramatic string samples in “Aria Of Dawn” works well, although the melody that arrives is a little aimless.

The awfully-titled first track “SPfiNAL TAP re-JUVENescence” is a highlight, an impressive prelude that the remaining tracks don’t quite live up to, bookended with the final track “beauty __ IT5INYR-H3D” (yes it’s really called that) which plays beautiful sweet piano melodies against loud and abrupt vocal and explosive sample speed shifts.

Overall v1984’s second EP is very shiny, but there’s a slight feeling of unfinished hit-and-miss experimentation about it.
Artist: Psyclon Nine
Title: Divine Infekt (re-release)
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Metropolis recently re-released one of the most impressive albums by Psyclon Nine. I'm one of those, who has never considered this band as controversial as some reviewers did in the past, when too many people still filtered anything surrounding them as rightwing, leftwing, communist or fascist, according to a blind and blinding watertight compartment-like vision of the world that came and keeps on coming in handy of well-known manoeuvres. In spite of the helpful clarification "No computers were used during the composition of this album", reprising some known messages that wink at animal rights activists, "Divine Infekt" is massively computerized: dating back 2003, it featured a higher dosage of synth-pop, aggrotech (particularly in the use of voice by P9's frontman Nero Bellum) and electro-industrial and just some traces of black metal (more clearly listenable in other outputs of the band). Specialists in synths will readily recognize the typical taste of some synth-squeezing such as the dynamics of the highly performative Nord Lead (maybe the 3 or the 4), the choruses on brass pads typical of EBM or the pre-delay of 30-35ms combined to some impressive sets of Pitch Shifter on the glorious Boss SE-50 to make the voice harsher. I won't say it could be considered still innovative from the technical viewpoint, but the content of its anguished lyrics could certainly be. This inflamed ring starts and ends on the title-track "Divine Infekt", whose refrain - a recorded voice repeating "We all deserve a life in hell" in a viscous web of synth-driven arpeggios and kicks - is the hypnotical motif of both the original opening version and the Aggrotech-oriented remix by Anthony Mather's band Tactical Sekt. A ring of fire, whose more interesting blazes are the more danceable "Clinik" (its medley "Bludgeon abortion/Lethal amputation/Onslaught of torment/Embrace the offering/Necrotic flesh/Design of tainted surgery/Cold steel blade/Neutralize mortality" could be echoed in your mind for a while), the brilliant synth programming that got forged for a genuinely provocatory song like "So Be It", the almost romantic "As You Sleep" (maybe the most melodic moment of the whole album) as weel as those songs (particularly "Clinik" and "Slaughter"), where you can hear the first bricks of the bridge joining electro-industrial and symphonic black metal, whose building would have been completed on their following album "INRI". Also available on a limited vinyl edition.

Asfast: Peace In Drifts

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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May 02 2017
Artist: Asfast
Title: Peace In Drifts
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Ventil Records (@)
Much of Leon Leder aka Asfast’s album “Peace In Drifts” sounds like moody dubstep with the main bassline and the kick removed, leaving just the looping dark atmospherics and glitches. This is dark unsettling electronica, with wailing synths, sub-bass thumps and crisp, edgy, slightly languid percussion. Sample the track “Draft” for a fairly clear idea of the agenda here.

The press release compares each of the mostly short pieces to haikus, but this is overstating things; firstly they’re not all that short, 39 minutes across 11 tracks makes them more like radio edits than miniatures, and secondly there’s a bit of a lack of the whole poetic structure and twist that the best haikus have mastered. Many of them are single ideas, single scenes or moods, evolving slightly through switching layers on and off. Only a handful of pieces, such as “Bump Cut” and “Poser”, have a real sense of dramatic change.

The slight swagger of “Drift” starts off surprisingly close to a grime instrumental without the bass- it may be missing the gut-punching but it still has that cockiness and loopy lyricism, before edgy sawtoothed synth sounds fade in to fill the space. “More” with its regular percussive crunch sounds like an intro to a heavy EDM album that doesn’t arrive. Conversely, tracks like “Well” have a more complexion, with ambient, glass-like tones. Final track “Peacepie” is abruptly glitched-up ambient tone that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Leaf or Planet Mu labels.

It’s a very polished collection of tracks, but the succinctness that is extolled as a virtue in the promotional material may actually be a hindrance, curtailing pieces and preventing them from evolving into something with a sustained mesmerising effect.

Mr. Mitch: Devout

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 20 2017
Artist: Mr. Mitch
Title: Devout
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Planet Mu Records
Firmly at home on Planet Mu, “Devout” is a polished bit of electronica, bordering on dream-pop but with a sometimes grimy side. Rap tracks like “Priority”, which starts out sounding like any other vanity rap but develops into something much more introspective. In fact the whole release is tinged with a melancholy reflection and a deep honesty about relationships and parenthood. While it’s not a concept album, there’s a strong theme of devotion and longevity.

“Fate” is a lush ballad with lovely Denai Moore vocals, arguably lacking the strong hook that would make it truly powerful. The flanged Asian-sounding synth sounds of “My Life” (featuring Miles Mitchell’s own voice) are a quirky highlight, as is the faintly moombahton-grooved ballad “Our Love”. The instrumentals are strong too, with a playful levity in pieces like “Black Tides” robotic whirr patterns (and a bassline that sounds like it’s about to turn into Fleetwood Mac). “Honor Oak” treads a fine line close to sounding a little silly, like a kind of electro-lullaby, as though some of these tracks are as much for the child as for the parent.

“Devout” is a succinct and deeply heartfelt emotional bit of electronica with an unquestionable sincerity. At times it is a little lethargic, but if you’re looking for romantic and vulnerable electronica that really works, you’ll find it here.

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