Music Reviews

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.

Claude Speeed: Infinity Ultra

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jul 13 2017
Artist: Claude Speeed
Title: Infinity Ultra
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Planet Mu Records
“Infinity Ultra” is like a disassembly of rave and electronica, exploring and meshing with its constituent parts and rebuilding it into something that still retains the structure and the sounds, but which has been pulled completely out of clubland and into a different space. The kicks and crashes are all gone, leaving tracks that at times sound like lightweight synthwave, and at other times like stems ripe for remixing rather than complete tracks. However there are also some deeper and edgier pieces to mix it up a bit.

There are fifteen tracks here, someone of them very succinct and with a slightly raw, unpolished edge. Highlights include “Ambien Rave”, the frantic chiptune-esque stylings of “Entering The Zone” and the odd yet powerful looped vocal patterns of final track “DreamDream”.

Kuedo’s guest appearance on “Alternate Histories” gives things a darker flavour, based around a rhythmic deep pulse and spaced-out curt string noises. Other more atmospheric pieces include “Moonchord Supermagic”- surely a calling card for soundtrack work- and the relentless lo-fi gutpunchers of “Super 800 NYC”.

It’s a release that’s very typical of the Planet Mu label, in a good way- it’s electronica, but not like anybody else does. It’s atmospheric, irreverent, and high quality in a weirdly deceptive way.

Quarta330: Pixelated EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jul 11 2017
Artist: Quarta330
Title: Pixelated EP
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub
Quarta330’s “Pixelated” EP, now admittedly a few months old, is a frantic set of 4 instrumentals where rapid-fire effects, low bitrate synths and a healthy dose of possibly tongue-in-cheek fun are all chucked into the mix.

Opener “Resonate 3” begins as though it’s going to be a flat grime instrumental, before a chiptune-style melody cuts through that turns the track into a bizarre digital-soul number, like Barry White music for robots over frantically gated drums.

“The Fairies’ Homecoming” has a similarly 8-bit-ish flute melody meandering over a glitch rhythm that sounds like a fight between reggae and drum’n’bass- one of those tunes where if you watch the crowd, half of them are nodding fast, the other half are nodding slow.

“Yatagarasu” is the most conventionally melodic piece, with further flute-like synths and chords playing a strong and vaguely Eastern-ish melody over a stepping rhythm that pushes the lo-fi filter even further. Closer “Digital Lotus Flower” is along similar lines, with a more broken beat and subtle, smooth bassline.

I’ve struggled to think of valid musical comparisons. I could mention Venetian Snares (the less angry stuff) or Bassnectar, but it wouldn’t be wholly accurate. The “Pixelated” EP ploughs its own slightly bizarre path, one that fans of glitch or anything 8-bit will definitely enjoy.

Doon Kanda: Heart

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jul 06 2017
Artist: Doon Kanda
Title: Heart
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub
This is a quirky mini-EP of five tracks of post-dubstep instrumental alt-pop. There’s thin, muffled beats, rolling atmospheric bass hums, and squeaky high-end organ-like synth noises with liberal helpings of playful spontaneity. It’s fundamentally odd, part sombre, part daft, as though entirely in a world of its own.

All five of the tracks are under three minutes, making this feel like a sampler. “Womb” feels like a longer, super-mellow glitchy ambient track that’s been squeezed unnecessarily into the three minutes being allowed, while “Axolotl” fits the mould much more comfortably with an almost radio-edit structure. “Wings” and “Feline” both have broken synthwave elements to them, and closer “Heart” is the most straightforwardly atmospheric of the batch- relatively speaking.

A quirky debut mini-release on Hyperdub that’s indicative of a sound that stands on the fence and could go either way- further into EDM-tinged deep atmospheric dub, or the other way into simple barking madness.

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