Music Reviews

Yoshinori Hayashi: Uncountable Set

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Feb 01 2018
Artist: Yoshinori Hayashi
Title: Uncountable Set
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Disco Halal
Yoshinori Hayashi’s four-track EP is a collection of tracks from the more wigged-out side of trip-hop and casual walking-pace electronica. Over some lovely and complex yet quite organic-feeling drumming and steady basslines, a procession of unexpected layers roll out and combine to create something with a really quite distinctive flavour that seems intent on wanting you to nod your head comfortably yet feel slightly confused at the same time.

Opening track “Palanquin Bearing Monkey” centres around some drunken, tape-warped piano forming the weirdest jazz groove you’ve heard all week, joined by strangely infectious clapping. The real low string sounds on “Stepping On Dewdrops” are a lovely touch, the improvised and super-quirky vocal evocations perhaps just a touch too knowingly weird.

“Pneuma” is a stand-out track that commands attention. The use of gradually building and seemingly arhythmic choral sounds over a steady and seriously funky bassline is one of those inspired arrangements that ought not to work, yet does. Final track “Chember” is the darkest and most experimental offering, again focussing on vocal ahhhs and wails but this time with a deeper and harder-to-follow rhythm that seems to want to run away from the listener.

An early contender for one of 2018’s most standout weird-and-wonderful, sort-of-electronica offerings.

Mother Of Mars: Seed 2 Sky (Remixes)

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 31 2018
Artist: Mother Of Mars
Title: Seed 2 Sky (Remixes)
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ransom Note Records
I reviewed Vito & Druzzi’s original “Seed 2 Sky” back in November, then coupled with an A-side “Hera In The Valley”, calling it “exemplary electronica”. Now, Ransom Note Records have followed it up with six remixes to pull the synthy, subtly progressive house with tribal percussion pattern sounds of the original into half a dozen different directions.

The outstanding version here is from C.A.R., who’s used the instrumentation of the original as the basis for writing a brand new song that sounds completely coherent and like it ought to have been the original version all along. A slow, slightly proggy vocal over the steady, faintly Kraftwerk-y original groove with added more dramatic percussion as the song demands, it’s on the edgier side of dream-pop and works exceptionally well- hopefully an indicator that the two parties should collaborate more in future.

Justin Robertson uses his Deadstock 33’s alias and takes the track on a twelve-minute journey of slowly knob-twiddled staccato acid bassline with delay-washed higher elements, slowly layering up more and more percussive patterns and introducing the melodic elements one-by-one to raise the energy level with expert care. By comparison Ess O Ess’s is a very mellow and straightforward house take with rich pads and feel-good synth washes, holding back a slightly more driving bassline until over three minutes in to good effect, but overall somewhat more modest.

Graintable’s remix is a stripped-back breakdown, focussing solely on the synths and pads and completely percussion-free. The liberal use of a tape warp effect is strangely disconcerting and, for me personally, spoils what would otherwise be a very smooth and simple wave of calming synth noise.

Leaf’s remix is another ten-minute adventure, this time with a slightly more indie-electronica vibe reminiscent of DFA. Again it’s heavy in washes and slow builds, but is perhaps the remix that doesn’t sustain its running time quite as well as the others. Finally Malestripper’s version adopts a similar vibe but with a thinner and more electro rhythm and some dramatic, faintly novelty synthwave tom hits and a slightly weirder structure that’s less interested in evolving normally.

It’s a great packages of remixes, and one of those with enough variety and quality in it that it becomes a worthy 51-minute deep house listening album in its own right, which is rare.

Ken Karter: Plaisir

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 23 2018
Artist: Ken Karter
Title: Plaisir
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Undogmatisch
Though credited to Ken Karter as the artist, this is actually a remix of a track from Mirco Magnani and Ernesto Tomasini’s album “Madame E.”, which will in course lead towards a full remix album, of which this is just the first taster- a one-sided 12” issued in a run of ten- yes, ten- copies.

And detached from the remix album context, it’s an odd track, a hybrid of experimental elements, white and softened noises, drones and synthetic wails, with EDM elements like a harsh, acid-tinged single-note bass gutpunch, a rolling subbass tone, and a relatively complex soft kick pattern, that drop in and out with a brusqueness and spontenaiety that will never ever be dancefloor-friendly. On top of that is occasionally littered some operatic samples that I have to presume are the Magnani and Tomasini source material. It’s awkwardly structured and unpredictable, strictly home listening stuff.

It certainly bodes well for a remix album but on its own, it perhaps doesn’t have the distinctiveness or the merit to warrant the reverential limited edition 12” treatment.

Coppé: Milk

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 19 2018
Artist: Coppé (@)
Title: Milk
Format: CD
Label: Sweet Rice
Rated: *****
The eccentric martian Tokyo-based artist known as Coppé relentlessly keeps putting out little jewels of electronic music, this time mixed with her beloved jazz influences (something she loves doing). After her 20th anniversary record of last year, her new album "Milk" is a collection of electronic renditions of jazz standards from the 20es and 30es such as "My Funny Valentine" or Gershwin's "The Man I Love" plus some original material. Aside from her rich sultry voice and her electronic production, several tracks feature live double bass by Jeff Curry and one track has drums by Zak Bond and piano by Fredric Viennot which adds to the overall jazz charm of this release. Other unique moments are the opener, which was recorded with 73 various microphones, and a few collaborations with MCs and other electronic producers from Japan and the US. When listening to some of these tracks one can't fail to draw a parallel between the smokey atmospheres of trip hop bands such as Portishead and electronic female-fronted artists such as Bjork, so if you can imagine what those two artists would sound like if they collaborated, you might have a decent idea of what "Milk" sounds like.
"Milk" is available on CD (with a sleek die cut cover art work), very limited edition vinyls (every copy has a unique design with color on color pressing and colored vinyl) and as a download. Check it out!

Sextile: Albeit Living

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 18 2018
Artist: Sextile
Title: Albeit Living
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Felte
Sextitle are about to embark on a European tour, with a brand of energetic attitude-laden grungy punk-meets-synthwave that would lend itself well to the live-gig-in-a-smoky-room environment. Ten fast and punchy songs, most staying under three minutes, feature Brady Keehn’s reverb-laden, mostly-shouted vocals over a lo-fi arrangement of tight drumming, more freeform guitar clanging and electronic squeaks.

“Ripped” is a highlight, with the acid squeals interjecting between the lyrics to give it an ever-shifting energy. “Situations” has a slightly more laidback swagger that brings the songwriting to the fore in a positive way.

Other tracks, like “Floored”, are a little bit less successful and end up sounding like bedroom demos from mid-80’s Depeche Mode wannabes- certainly not awful but just a little bit too raw to be truly recommendable. Weird mixing decisions on “Das Cat” bring an extra weirdness.

Every track’s a thick ball of energy and attitude and it definitely feels better suited to live performance than a studio album. So definitely try to catch them on their early 2018 tour- though since the album’s 27 minutes long, I hope you get better value from the gig.

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