Music Reviews

Nov 05 2019
Artist: Giona Vinti
Title: Orc
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Elli Records
“Orc” is a collection of four numbered tracks, or ‘layers’, each being around ten minutes of dynamic and impulsive live electronics work fusing modular synthesis, sound generators, and a litany of effects ranging from the homemade and handcrafted to the (fairly) big budget, mostly arranged on the fly through a 24 track analogue mixer. The result is four slabs of gloriously expressive chaos that jumps around between differently constructed walls of broken noise, and mostly short-lived breathing spaces between them. Rhythm is foregone, but there’s a serialism to the sonic affrontery that acts as a surrogate structure.

To say that the second part is any calmer than the first would be true, but would imply that the second part is in any way calm, which it certainly isn’t. The analogue squeaks come further to the floor, and the noise and distortion is notched down a touch, but it’s still panicky and skittish. The bubbling low electronics of the third part are the nearest we get to an actual rhythm, while part four is the darkest and most sinister, channeling more than a little sense of a Radiophonic Workshop representation of alien threat as expressed through the medium of late 60’s black-and-white TV.

It’s a fine balancing act to work in such a noise-driven and cacophonous way yet to find a way of emoting and building human expression into it, rather than pure randomness, and for the most part, Giona Vinti pulls off that balance here. The sheer unadulterated rawness and relentless energy level of it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but if you like your electronics acerbic, bordering on sandpaper-like, then this is a deep dive into thick soundwaves that you’ll definitely enjoy.

Simon Grab: Posthuman Species

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Nov 04 2019
Artist: Simon Grab
Title: Posthuman Species
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: -OUS
Recently-prolific Swiss sound artist Simon Grab’s “Posthuman Species” is a dark, aggressive, but also detailed electronica work, based around a no-input mixing setup of LFO’s, filters, analogue effects and feedback. Most pieces are underpinned by a steady kick pattern which arguably makes it techno, but the raw and unpredictable layers of noise going on above make it something much more. Each piece is relatively sparse, normally bringing just one or two sounds to the fore and never attempting a full-on wall of noise.

Highlights include the slightly T Raumschmiere-esque “Metanoia”. “Transformation” revels in a saw-like drone noise, bending and pitching it playfully before dropping into an obtuse sci-fi-like soundscape, before “New Horizons” offers a gutpunching stab rhythm with truly high stress levels. Mellower and moodier moments are brought by tracks like the low-heartbeat-dictating “Altered Sleep”.

Most of the pieces are succinct, generally between two and four minutes, exploring one arrangement of sounds to a natural level without ever getting tired. Final track “Posthuman Wonderland” is the exception, a nicely drawn out, flowing and gradually evolving series of pulsed drones and pads that’s an impressive exercise in slow change.

It’s refreshing to hear such a good balancing act that takes distortion and energy and some apparent frustrations and tempers them with details and atmospherics into something that’s engaging rather than affronting. It’s truly dark but very high quality electronica.
Nov 01 2019
Artist: Gareth Davis & Scanner
Title: Footfalls
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Miasmah Recordings
“Footfalls” represents a fascinating first collaboration between the atmospheric contemporary electronics of Scanner (Robin Rimbaud) and the experimental free clarinet work of Gareth Davis.

It’s split into two twenty-minute pieces, classic LP style. “Towards The Door” languishes in waves of sonic ambience for quite some time before gradually introducing more pulsed and occasionally glitched synth elements, giving a sense of slow waking- but without any peak, a point is reached where these elements begin to wane, bringing us back to the warm luxuriant drone arrangement.

“Smokefall” is a slightly darker and busier piece, but only marginally. Steady, crisp and breathy snippets of high noise create a flitting rhythm, while throbbing effects added to the clarinet make it sound more like a didgeridoo at first. Underneath, a slightly rougher texture with guitar-like and wind-like tones, against which the purity of the clarinet sound is sparingly used for contrast and emphasis.

It’s an extremely natural match for the duo, blurring the lines of each sonic contribution and making it sound as though the duo have been working together for years. But it’s also built in a way that plays safe, relying on the alluring resonances of clarinet and drone to offer up something that comes from a position of comfort rather than challenge. The rich experimental texturing oozes confidence, quality and comfort, like a good sonic blanket, but with just enough detailing to keep the more attentive listener satisfied.
Oct 31 2019
Artist: Craven Faults
Title: Lowfold Reworks
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Lowfold Works
In anticipation of the new Craven Faults EP releasing later in November, “Lowfold Reworks” is a pack of three new mixes of tracks from the Yorkshire-based producer’s previous EP’s. While Craven Faults’ electronica is more spaced out, dipping into ambient and broad, understandably these three remixes have their sights set a little more towards the dancefloor- but still manage to retain that trippy and atmospheric tone.

Pye Corner Audio’s version of “Intakes” is a solid if slightly unremarkable bit of progressive spaced-out synth-house with a lovely bright tone. Don’t DJ’s take on “Foddergang” is much more low-end centric, especially in its powerful subbass opener, before it opens up into Tangerine Dream-esque melodic patterns fuelled by a fairly aggressive metallic percussive rhythm.

The President Bongo rework of “Eller Ghyll” is an indulgent 14-minute journey that has certain throwbacks to old 90’s progressive house in its structure, but with a crisp, fresh and almost polite modern production quality. There’s nice use of 3-note patterns performing an audio moiré pattern over the 4 beat underneath, a reliable trick for putting the intelligent and cerebral qualities into your body moving music. Maintaining interest over 14 minutes without major musical shifts is a challenging feat and it’s managed very strongly here, but in a competent rather than revolutionary fashion.

It’s a reliable and high-quality pack of remixes that recommends all three remixers, as well as boding well for the forthcoming new original material.

Steve Hauschildt: Nonlin

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 29 2019
Artist: Steve Hauschildt
Title: Nonlin
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Ghostly International
Steve Hauschildt’s second album for Ghostly International comes from the spacey and sci-fi side of synthwave and electronica, built on lush-sounding pads, super-gentle percussive sounds and thoroughly baked and polished in sonic elegance and reverb. At times it dips into slightly more esoteric and experimental territory, but not for long periods, as exemplified by the title track which rolls a deep rhythm with quirky squeaks and glitchier sounds on top, gradually introducing stuttering chords that unfold into calm, or the tempo-challenging final track “American Spiral”.

The gradually building pulses and arpeggios of “Subtractive Skies” will appeal to Tangerine Dream fans, while “Attractor B” has a more modern, techno-light flavour. “Reverse Culture Music” is an unexpected highlight, making strong use of real string plucking and bowing with a bubble-like electronic rhythm for something really quite captivating.

At times though, it does all sound a little bit too easy. A lack of cut-through melodies prevents any long-term memorability, and tracks like ambient workout “A Planet Left Behind” could, if cynical, be described as synth-electronica-by-numbers. At 42 minutes long though there’s nothing which overstays its welcome and the result is a successful collection of deeper synth work for your more philosophical electronic moments.

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