Music Reviews

Artist: Arovane + Porya Hatami
Title: Organism_evolution
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Karlrecords
I reviewed “Organism” last year, and “Organism_evolution” is essentially more of the same. The exchanging-sounds-by-post process continues between Berlin-based Uwe Zahn and Iranian Porya Hatami continues in much the same way, resulting in a collection of 23 short soundscape pieces of electroacoustic noises, organic-sounding burbling and gurgling, gentle clicking, processed found sounds, and soft windy drones, pads and echoes. The alien-womb-like theme of the previous release continues.

There are a lot of short ideas here, many only lasting a minute, at times being reminiscent of Radiophonic Workshop experiments in sound which were regarded more like sound effects than music, evidenced in pieces like “Creature_517”. “Stimuli” is a prime example of a short environmental piece, event-free as a self-contained atmosphere. Longer pieces like “mata_evolve” allow more breathing space and show how exquisite some of this ambient soundscaping can be when allowed to spread and allow the mesmeric properties to come forward.

“Nucleotide” is an anachronistic piece, dismissing the organic components in favour of electronic arcing and feedback that sounds like it could be a single layer from a Cabaret Voltaire track.

If you loved “Organism”, you’ll appreciate the second chapter in the experimental collaboration, although whether it moves anything forward compared to the first installment may be debatable. And if you like the sound of this in principle, dip in at any point in the process- form and order isn’t the order of the day here.

Serph: Aerialist

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 20 2018
Artist: Serph
Title: Aerialist
Format: CD + Download
Label: Noble
It’s rare at ChainDLK to hear electronica that’s so upbeat and unashamedly optimistic-sounding. It’s 67 minutes of quite poppy mostly-instrumentals broadly categorisable as drum & bass for the most part but with plenty of glitch and other musical influences thrown into the mix. Vocal and orchestral elements are the rich upper layers, with a generally lush and super-soft sound, while the rhythm programming is crisp and often seriously energetic but never aggressive.

It’s a proper genre-spanner that seems to revel in defying expectation. The guitar effects on “Airflow” are almost U2-like in parts, but not in a bad way. Halfway through the mellow and atmospheric layout of “Nightfall” we start getting Burial-ish dubstep beats, then perky, jazzy piano. “Ignition” features some helium-pitched vocal noises, yet played against sincere-sounding acoustic guitar sounds. The trailer-esque gutpuncher distortion very sparsely used on the bass on “Artifakt”’s intro makes way for a bit of proper electrofunk with slap bass, before the bright piano chords of “Weather” and “Popp” sound like they’re only one boyband-style vocal line away from the pop charts.

Thankfully it never comes across as excessive showing off, because it ought to, and it never loses track of the album’s overall positive vibe.

The Tokyo-based Serph also puts music out under the alias Reliq, and as half of N-qia, and in both those cases there’s at least a hint of a darker edge- but here, brightness and enthusiasm is the order of the day. And it’s seriously refreshing.

Lossy: Gated Soul EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 19 2018
Artist: Lossy
Title: Gated Soul EP
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Boot Cycle Audio
Lossy’s fourth release “Gated Soul” is a collection of four tracks (plus one radio edit) from the jazzier side of electro-house, with some relaxed grooves, crisp but measured beats, languid pads, and Rhodes-style piano work that sometimes borders on the cheesy. It’s feel-good vibe stuff that sits in that gray area where it’s danceable, but you could also lie back and chill out to it.

“Blues For Jekyll” is a strong walking-pace number with gated pads, easy chords and one of those lovely sine wave subbass tones that makes everything feel nicely pure and simple. At five and a half minutes long, a four-minute radio edit feels a touch unnecessary but there’s no harm in it.

“Last Raver” is a little more energetic, with soft breakbeats and some nice rolling synth flavours that give it a decidedly Orbital-like feel. The slightly Groove Armada-ish trumpet (samples?) introduced in the second half of “Hocus Pocus” are a smooth touch, one of those little touches that shows you’re listening to a confident composer who knows exactly what he’s after.

“To The Woods” finishes things off with an unusual two-speed approach where the soft synth-organ arpeggios and rich-sounding flute melody sound like they want to be a ballad, while the beat underneath feels more two-step and garage-pop, but it’s a combination that gets pulled off pretty well in the end.

A strong, luxuriantly flavoured EP of jazzy electro-house.
Artist: Christopher Ledger & Luigi Ranghino's Trio
Title: Cielo Intonato
Format: 12"
Label: CL Series
“Cielo Intonato” is a vinyl-exclusive set of sparse minimal electronica, with gentle rhythmic patterns treading with extreme softness under long, slow atmospheric pads and environmental sounds in a lush, mellow way. Luigi Ranghino’s Trio add organic and acoustic piano and woodwind sounds that give proceedings an exceptional elegance.

The main pieces are just three parts, each less than four minutes long, with the first setting the tone, the second adopting a slightly bubblier flavour, and the third a more conventional ambient affair.

The B side of the vinyl is taken up by an eleven-minute remix of the whole work by Ion Ludwig, who adopts a clubbier but still gentle approach that’s quite Ricardo Villalobos-ish in style- steady, minimal, progressive house where the elements of the original performance are looped politely over the steady drum machine bed.

This isn’t a release that vies for your attention, but instead is happy to sit on a wall and aspire to be beautiful sound art, flitting at the edges of electronica. It works well, it’s certainly very pretty, and leaves you wondering what it would sound like realised on a larger scale.

Zonk't: Banburismus

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 16 2018
Artist: Zonk't
Title: Banburismus
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Sound On Probation
Laurent Perrier, who I last encountered using his Heal alias to produce a very focussed single-concept experimental album, has come up with something much more expansive and expectation-defying here- long, drawn-out part-electronica, part slow techno, part electronic dub.

The first side is completely comprised of one 18-minute piece “Square”. Opening with a very long and sombre synthetic drone, the listener may at first begin to think they’re getting 37 minutes of heartrate-lowering mellowness, but what unfolds after the misleading opening third is a much more complex arrangement of nicely odd electronica, gentle synth stabs bouncing around in lakes of decay and delay with meandering glitching pads and a barely audible bass note that manages, to some degree, to keep proceedings vaguely grounded.

The second side is in three parts, with first “Chronogyre”, which introduces a steady, almost dubby sub-bassline over which plays some increasingly sparky sawtooth-edged synth notes that gradually build in chaoticness, but the underlying groove stays rock-steady. Although it starts with some cheery baby giggling noises, “Colussus” goes darker, laying some cinematic synth pads over another steady rumbling bassline. The dubby themes continue into short final track “Conditional Probability”, which is the track that sounds most like recent The Orb tracks, in the best possible way.

It’s strong, warm, dubby electronica with a lot of variety and a real sense of journey and purpose, and it ought to command a lot of attention.

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