Music Reviews



Cafeina Kid: NEKO

 Posted by Ibrahim Khider (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 17 2017
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Artist: Cafeina Kid
Title: NEKO
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Pueblo Nuevo (@)
Distributor: Archive.org
Deftly crafted IDM glitchno, Neko is sometimes Alvin and the Chipmunks on the slow-jam tip with glitch/IDM beats; other times it is deep, dubby techno that recalls Swayzak; it is the finer moments of Phonem and early Autechre but with sexy melodies and atmosphere sprinkled with chip-tune accents and more. The production notes on Neko indicate that the album started off as instrumental pieces subsequently cut-up into Franken-tracks, or perhaps the bride of Franken-tracks as they are nuttily put back together, but in a lovely way. Neko is rich in textures, from the instrumentals of the source material, to vocal samples that inhale helium balloons, then cut up and further distorted into Picasso-style fun, to drum machine rhythms accompanied by chip tune beats and lush keyboard melodies. Some stand-out tracks include “Conclusion parcial: cascada inversa”, “Estado del arte: Barco-Inercia”, and especially “Estado del arte: Kid Perro”. “Conclusion parcial: cascada inversa” is a heady bit of atmospheric electronic jazz that flows with the infatuation soaked dreaminess of a perfect date while “Estado del arte: Barco-Inercia” starts off with austere beats before the Swazak-esque dubby elements roll in like a romantic fog out of a classic movie while vestiges of vocals intermingle with spritely keyboard melodies. The golden track is “Estado del arte: Kid Perro” which is glitch-jazz with catchy bass lines, shimmering keyboard melodies, rich-layered rhythms and an overall mood of gradually unfurling euphoria that inspire repeated listens. Cafeina Kid is Pablo Cornejo, a Chilean artist who shows both his zany and charming side on a winsome album to be sure. Neko is available for free download on the Pueblo Nuevo net label in conjunction with Archive.org who adhere to the Creative Commons ethos. Music this good shouldn't come this cheap, download today!

Santa Muerte: Cicatriz EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 13 2016
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Artist: Santa Muerte
Title: Cicatriz EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Infinite Machine
On this short EP, the Santa Muerte duo and a different collaborator on each of the three tracks roll out three short slices of dystopian horror-dubstep.

The first two tracks segue so neatly together that they could almost be considered a single nine-minute-long work. “Void” (with WWWINGS) is a short slice of heavy industrial synth-dubstep with thumping kicks, synthetic scream FX and oceans of reverb. “Hollowed” (with Tomas Urquieta) is an angrier take on the same tone, juxtaposing explosive furious tribal percussive noises against squeaky semi-random arpeggio melodies.

Third track “Dangerous Scenarios” (with Rules adding both vocals and production) is an oddity, adding vocoded vocals that sound like a mediocre r&b track has been brutalised and glitched with glee. I’d like to compare it to Funkstörung’s take on pop music, but unfortunately it’s not quite up to that standard. It’s an ear-openingly unusual slice of anti-pop but not completely successful.

At under ten minutes in total it feels like a sampler, that you could play on a post-apocalyptic radio station broadcasting post-dance music out into barren wastelands.

Kratos Himself: Stay True

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 05 2016
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Artist: Kratos Himself
Title: Stay True
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Youngbloods (@)
Kratos Himself’s second album “Stay True” is a collection of 13 warm, jazzy organic electronica pieces. They’re mostly under the three minute mark and some are more like sketches than fully-fleshed out standalone works, but there’s a consistency throughout that makes it a smooth 46-minute listen.

Much of it has a leisurely, lounge-like flavour, with the Rhodes piano and vibes feeling cosy, relaxed and loosely improvised in parts. The rhythm programming is generally a little sharper but not so much that it plays against the rest of the mood. The mood of it, rather than the sound, reminds me strongly in parts of Cinematic Orchestra pieces, but in a smaller ensemble (Kratos Himself, Jethro Hopmans, is a one-man band besides the guest appearances on two tracks).

Highlights include the partner pieces “For Me” and “For You”, and the slight ethnic flavours of the title track “Stay True”. Copasetic’s guest vocal on “Float” lasts barely 90 seconds and is something of a teaser of how brilliant it could sound if Kratos Himself explored the possibilities of vocals more fully. “Your Body” is something inbetween romantic and sleazy, in a good way. Bev Lee Harding brings soft vocal layers to “Bits & Pieces”, as well as very faint, not-entirely-sure-if-it’s-there hints of the kitchen sink instrumentation that she employs in her solo work.

If this album hadn’t already got a solid home on the Youngbloods label, it could easily have found a home on the Leaf label or even the jazzier side of Warp. It’s out December 9th as a pay-what-you-want download as well as on vinyl, and this is absolutely a release worth clicking more than a ‘0’ button for.

VV.AA.: Bleeps, Beats & Bass - 10 Years Of Basserk Records

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Nov 17 2016
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Bleeps, Beats & Bass - 10 Years Of Basserk Records
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Basserk Records (@)
Basserk Records doesn’t want to pigeonhole itself into one genre, and this compilation of ten brand new tracks from ten different artists on the label certainly has a broad span, but the compilation’s title gives you a good idea what ballpark we’re in- the core DNA of it all is relatively mainstream electronic house music.

Three out of the first four tracks are ‘full length’ journeys of six minutes or over, the rest of the tracks are essentially radio edits, emphasising the fact that this really is a buffet sampler rather than a tightly-planned ten track musical journey.

Doctr’s “Ballet Comique” is a bouncy, leisurely, bright house instrumental that would be well suited to TV sync as it’s a little bit thin on foreground elements. HuSo’s “Lump” is subbass-heavy trap, pitching towards hip-hop, while U Know The Drill’s “Bust It” has strong retro flavours that take me very fondly back to the days of 187 Lockdown and Todd Edwards.

Decay’s “Van Pi” and Levintquatre’s “Headlight hustle” are the two closest-related adjacent tracks, both moody, atmospheric electrosynth. Other tracks, such as the Nuaru and BoeBoe x Subp Yao offerings, have more of a electro-dancehall flavour like early Major Lazer.

Kuenta i Tambu’s “Big Trombone” stands out as the final track, thanks to its full vocal, cheesy innuendo rap, and carnival versus broken beat groove. It’s an anachronism but it’s also a decent pop song.

Apart from “Big Trombone” it’s instrumentals agogo, but many of these tracks are so centre-ground in club and pop culture that I’m surprised Basserk don’t stick catchy vocals on them and pitch for major radio. Otherwise this is a solid, super-polished collection of impressive, mostly-instrumental club-pop.

Kalab: Ank

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Nov 09 2016
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Artist: Kalab
Title: Ank
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Noland
This relatively short album is an instrumental tale of industry, sounding like a small army of mostly content automatons frantically building and bleeping in a style that I could describe as ‘glitch’, yet actually sounds like the supremely methodical, but definitely not 4/4-rhythmed, complex programs of a busy assembly line. Complex patternless fast-repeated hits and beats jump around, clearly with much work to be done. As the album progresses, hints of dissent and discord encroach, but the production line never stops.

With the exception of “meta1” and “meta2”, all of the tracks are named using a numeric keypad only, “12”, “78”, and the closing track “+”, keeping well in tune with the mechanical theme and making you wonder whether you’re supposed to be listening to this album, or doing arithmetic with it. The numbers are, I'm told, associated with the underlying rhythms, but not in an obvious way, and "+" really is an additive remix of the whole album.

A video for the track “4”, set to visuals from Eric Erre, is certainly worth checking out. It’s not quite a typical track from the album- it has stronger 8-bit synth influences than most of the rest- but it gives you a reasonable flavour of it, coupled with some fascinating CG work.

The “meta” tracks are different pieces, respite from the building and quite incongruous in the context of the album- “meta1” distant, violin-like daydreaming loose melodies floating around in nothingness, “meta2” a padding, lo-bit spontaneous rhythm, both acting as short interludes from the main work.

The track “69” is the most noticeable shift of tone, adding a sinister edge with building discordant pulses and processed snare stabs implying trouble at the mill. “+” is the most complete standalone piece, a growing cacophony of metallic clangs and echoes that drops away into a more traditional-sounding and spacious experimental percussion piece, before a short build to a last (just slightly underwhelming) crescendo.

In fifty years, this is what the inside of a solar-powered car factory will sound like when something is going slightly wrong...


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