Music Reviews

Aug 20 2017
Artist: PIG
Title: Prey & Obey EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
The creativity of Raymond Watts, the man behind the PIG moniker and the mixing desks as a sound engineer of many well-known names of the scenes (Einsturzende Neubauten and Psychic TV) and also known to be one leg of KMFDM, is experiencing a real state of grace: he released a brand new album - "The Gospel" -, a collection of remixes - "Swine & Punishment" and a couple EPs. "Prey & Obey" is one of them and maybe the most interesting for a set of reasons: the eye (and the ear) could be immediately caught by the inclusion of the remix of the title track by another big name of electronic industrial and synth-rock scene as Leather Strip (...and certainly the remix by Claus Larsen - LS's birth name - is amazing, and IMHO I think he noticed - as I did - that the way of singing sometimes could resemble - it sounds unbelievable - the one of Pete Burns in "You Spin Me Round"), but the track could be a very interesting starting point for forthcoming musical blossoms, as it comes from the collaboration between Raymond and an important portion of industrial-techno band Cubanate (Marc Heal and Phil Barry). This is not the only collaborative track of the EP. Actually, the other two tracks came out of collaborations as well: the more atmospheric "The Cult Of Chaos" got handled by former Combichrist member Z.Marr (he also dropped an electronic remix of "The Revelation"), while the cheekily rockish "The Revelation" (many would be tempted to misspell the title as "The Revolution", as Raymond managed to pour the word 'revelation' into a set of common lyrical constructs where the word 'revolution' gets typically matched..) got forged together with Ben Christo (Ghost, S.O.M.). Furthermore, the Berlin-based producer En Esch pushed an interesting remix of the title track by pushing it towards the boundaries of easily chewable adaptation of electronic dance to soundtracks for those series full of murderers, vampiresque entities or zombie killers.

Ikonika: Distractions

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 08 2017
Artist: Ikonika
Title: Distractions
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Hyperdub
Taking sounds from synthwave, the attitude and groove of dubstep and grime, and a bright production quality that’s radio-friendly pop, “Distractions” treads its own distinctive path. It’s packed with unusual sharp-cut rhythms, echoey synth arpeggios, and long rolling bass notes, yet it manages to avoid the arrogant swagger that plagues some modern pop.

It’s mostly instrumental, but with a handful of vocal tracks that end up being highlights. “Noblest” features Andrea Galaxy and is just missing a strong chorus hook, otherwise Ikonika would have a pop hit on her hands. Jammz’s somewhat languid rap on “Sacrifice” has a good synergy with the track.

A few too many of the instrumentals sound like they are craving a vocal or a rap on top, as though the space has been left for that missing part to be applied. Tracks like “Manual Decapitation” and the potentially great “Lossy” don’t quite have enough going on otherwise to make them complete somehow. However there are a handful of others, such as the quirky, slightly 80’s-soundtrack titled “435”, that feel more well-rounded.

It’s a well polished and inventive set of tracks with a lot of polish, but “Distractions” maybe needed a couple more out-there ideas or guest vocalists on board to make it stand out.

Sontag Shogun: Patterns For Resonant Space

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jul 28 2017
Artist: Sontag Shogun
Title: Patterns For Resonant Space
Format: 12"
Label: Youngbloods
“Patterns For Resonant Space” is a relatively familiar-sound combination of reverberant and sparse piano playing, combined with electronic glitches and found sound elements to create a soundscape that’s melancholic and just a little bit spiky. There are ten generally very short slices of cinematic bleakness with a broad but not particularly revolutionary palette. Crisp digital processing counterpoints against pure grand piano tones in a well-tried and reliable formula.

Each piece has both a number (independent of the track number) and a name, as if to try and double-up the distinction between tracks that most comprise the same ingredients, which isn’t wholly necessary as they do already contain a reasonable variety of character, normally created by having one element that’s unique to each track. For example, “Barricade Bleu” adds some more watery noises. “Patient Elegy For Bernr’d Hoffman” adds some vocal ahhhhs reminiscent of M83 or Sigur Ros. “Music Box”, unsurprisingly, adds the distorted and twisted sound of a music box. “Windmill” leaves the piano aside in favour of forming loose looping patterns in the percussive sounds. The bizarrely named “Chopsticks, Motor, Lecture” adds relatively unchopped samples of what sounds like a school science lecture, then “£20,000” adds some quirky vinyl scratches, and so on.

The final and lengthiest piece “Leaves Like Photographs” is the only track allowed to evolve at greater length, existing in several stages and acting like a flavour of what may have been allowed to develop if some of the ideas in the other tracks had been allowed to play out for longer in more sparse and indulgent frameworks.

Fans of listening to immersive, reverb-heavy cold atmospheres who like wearing headphones lying down in dark rooms will really get into this and find 31 minutes too short. For a less focussed listening experience, it washes away into nothingness a little.

Doler: House Mantra

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jul 19 2017
Artist: Doler
Title: House Mantra
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Karmic Power Records
“House Mantra” is a natty little house track which loops a simple untraceable ethnic vocal sample with an Eastern flavour over a classic house structure of house piano, warm simple bass notes and 123bpm light beat with claps.

The vocal gives it a unique element but it still lacks the key hook or USP that would really make it stand out, but it’s a well-made bit of warm-up-friendly, inoffensive formula house. The input of other remixers, rather than just an original, instrumental and edit package, might have helped push it into more interesting directions.

Enderie: Tape 1

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jul 13 2017
Artist: Enderie
Title: Tape 1
Format: Tape
Label: A Guide To Saints
Andrew McLellan as Enderie’s debut “Tape 1” is a mini-album comprising six lo-fi, slightly punky analogue electro workouts of raw-edged samples, thickly distorted basslines, and rapid drumming circa 150bpm. Sonically it’s got at least one foot in 1980’s new wave, with a very grungy aesthetic.

After the bright and rather manic opening track “The System Decides” (the only track where vocal samples are really prominent), “Meal” is a calmer and more stripped back affair, looping what might or might not be dinner party ambience over drums for a while before some proto-techno-style synth loops arrive. “Stopped Memory” takes things deeper still, with vocal loops transformed into an industrial rhythm over which squelchy acid analogue sounds walk ominously.

“Attack The Power Of The Hordes” has a more retro gaming feel to it somehow, with a marching militaristic rhythm and more percussive power. “Sore” sticks out like, erm, a sore thumb, with its seriously pushed distortion screeching crisply over a glam-rock style drum thump. Final track “It’s A Feasible Feat To Be Here” is another bit of focussed heavy lo-fi techno.

“Tape 1” is a really solid debut, a very straightfaced bit of analogue-heavy beat work that manages to shine out from its retro-facing approach and technological restrictions, and could be the beginning of great things.

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