Music Reviews

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.

Die Tödliche Doris: Sprechpause

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 13 2018
Artist: Die Tödliche Doris
Title: Sprechpause
Format: LP
Label: Fang Bomb
Digging out the source recordings for the final track of your 1982 debut album and reworking them into a new 15-minute EP for 2018 may seem a very self-indulgent thing to do. Add to that the overriding concept of ‘pause music’ and the fact the second side of the vinyl is completely blank, and it does seem quite conceited. But luckily the 15 minutes of audio has the merit to excuse that, if not justify it.

Heavily processed analogue tape recordings and found sounds are extensively reprocessed through both analogue and digital effects modules into a relatively warm, somewhat fuzzy bit of experimental electronic bathing with emphasis on low tones and fuzz.

Opening track “Sendepause” is a strangely impenetrable array of detuned radio noise and electronic bubbling. The dark sinister sci-fi rumblings of “Payment Pause” are a highlight, with the lo-fi rhythmic proto-techno of “Acht-Jahres-Pause” of definite note as well. “Schweigeminute” sounds like an unearthed bit of 1960’s BBC Radiophonic Workshop off-cut, invoking images of clunky black-and-white robots slowly approaching. Final track “Pausenmusik” is predominantly just a wall of random noise- not actual white noise, something more shaped with occasional ghosts cutting through, but essentially a noise wash to round it off.

It’s audio with a distinctly dated and lo-fi feel as far as electronic experimentation goes, but the middle tracks are certainly worth checking out if you’re in the mood for something analogue and raw on the electronics front.

Ricardo Tobar: Luturgia

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 14 2017
Artist: Ricardo Tobar
Title: Luturgia
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: ESP Institute
“Liturgia” is an EP of four eight-minute-long, gentle and atmospheric instrumental house music taking some organic-sounding rhythms and blending with quite melancholy slow chord pads and smatterings of electronica bleeps and clicks. Both sides of the 12” pair a clubbier tune with something a little more out-there.

Opener “La Dormida” has a faintly South American percussive flavour and feels steady and determined, whereas “The Lake” is distinctly more glum, with an interesting use of sawtooth-edged, semi-patterned, slow-rising high synth line. “Liturgia” is a more regular, bass-driven steady house track, and then “Star Alliance” wigs out somewhat with a really unusual lead line that sounds like a pitched-up didgeridoo, but, erm, better.

It’s a really strong and immersive EP- or at 36-minutes perhaps I ought to describe it as a mini-album- with a quality imbued with confidence. Definitely one to check out for fans of thoughtful deep house.

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