Music Reviews



Locust: Green

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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May 17 2019
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Artist: Locust
Title: Green
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Medical Records
This second release in a series of EP’s from Mark Van Hoen as Locust is a four-pack of 130bpm-ish techno with a relentless, semi-aggressive and purposeful bent. It makes heavy use of chiptune-style and lo-bit synth sounds but rounds it off with thick rich kicks and percussion sounds to fill the sonic space and sound current.

Both “Promise” and “Current” make strong use of the trick of having some of the synth arpeggiators and patterns running at different pattern lengths to the 4/4 beat, meaning the root of the melody is constantly shifting and making relatively simple repetitive patterns suddenly more complex in just one move. “Staircase” is more melody heavy, taking a six-note melody and transposing it at unusual and tension-inducing intervals to keep you on your toes.

“Arch Enemy” is the black sheep of the pack, switching to a lighter rhythm that’s in the direction (slightly) of downtempo, upping the emphasis on melody and with good use of vocal ahhh noises for character and texture.

Medical Records continues to grow a strong track record of techno releases with a twist and this is another solid example.

VV.AA.: Tombstone Trance Vol. 1

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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May 02 2019
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Tombstone Trance Vol. 1
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Stabudown Recordings
Stabudown’s compilation album isn’t purely ‘trance’, in any generational use of the word, but a fairly broad collection of almost-entirely-instrumental EDM that spans synthwave, modern electro, synth-industrial, techno and, to a lesser degree, trance in the more early 90’s, less mainroom hands-in-the-air sense. Initially there’s a musical commonality that comes from some heavy and not-just-4/4 percussive elements that provide most of the tracks with a distinct bang, but as the tracks progress, things get more beat-free, introspective and spacious. The result is an earnest pack of tunes that’s so remarkably consistent and planned out that at times you could believe this is an artist album.

TML’s “Goshun” is one of the heavier pieces, thick kicks with stuttering vocal sounds, while CLAWS’s “Scrappy Industrious F.U.” also has the banging attitude but with a production approach that’s so bright it ends up feeling feel-good possibly by accident. Kerridge’s “Death Is Upon Us”, Long Bastard’s “Send” and Bad Tracking’s “Arnos Veil” form a mini-industrial section (the second of those with some vocals, just to mix things up a bit).

Highlights include Koehler’s “Beyond Andromeda”, a deceptively grouping of semi-breakbeat and playful high synth arpeggios that’s strangely infectious. East Side Ancients’ upbeat but coarse-edged dub track “New Happy Fortune” is oddly nostalgic, but in a good way, and it runs nicely into the deeper reverbing delays of Grey People’s “Mourning Etiquette”. This in turn flowers smoothly into the ethereal tones and heartbeats of “Absolute Other” by Organic Dial. The two final tracks, from Vanity Productions and The Rancor Index, complete the descent into downtempo ambience, bordering on drone, and the journey is nicely complete.

It’s a well curated compilation that’s more thoughtful and diverse, and less in-your-face, then the artwork and branding may possibly suggest. Definitely the sound of life at the more interesting side of EDM.

Unsub vs Alexis K: The Misadventures of Pilbourne Delaney

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 28 2019
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Artist: Unsub vs Alexis K
Title: The Misadventures of Pilbourne Delaney
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Pure Heart Dirty Mind Records / NexGen (@)
Rated: *****
Amidst many bass-driven music, one of the most interesting is this album by Uk-born, New Zealand-based Lily Luck or this apparent collaborations of Alexis K (under this moniker, she became very popular for her dubstep version of Linkin Park's popular song "What I've Done", which was played almost 7.5 million times on YouTube) and Unsub (a moniker who managed to reach the charts by many good hits), two of her artistic identities, that she almost consider as two different soul sharing the same body. Besides these details that could meet the interest of psychologist obsessed by patients suffering from multiple personality disorder (not so rare between artists, fortunately or unfortunately), she (or they) managed to do a very awesome output, that is going to delight many listeners of hybrid forms of drum'n'bass. To be honest the listening of the opening title-track “The Misadventures of Pilbourne Delaney” (someone could think it's another personality... who knows?) made me think to a clone or something shaping the sound pattern of The Upbeats, considering the fact these well-known and appreciated dnb knights should be neighbours of Lily, and such an impression was just slightly blunted after the listening of the following track "April 12", as it could surmise many melodies of the wonderful album "Nobody's Out There" by the partners in art Dylan Jones and Jeremy Glenn. Things become more and more interesting on the dark-tinged kinda dubbed piano-driven ragtime of "Sophies Breakfast Blues" and on the following "Blindsided", where Lily and her inner friends managed to forge an elegant fusion of that dark-jazz that musicians like Ian Simmonds used to spread and cinematic nuances. The attractive sonic palette of "Candles Under The Sun", that could ideally swagger around the act of chewing gums by a cyber cowboy, get partially eclipsed by the recipes of the following "Osiris", where the distorted swirling on a synth sax is the element that mainly grabs the attention over a flat melody, and the likewise flat dubbish "State Of Play". The quality level dramatically rises on "Empathy" - a track that seems to squeeze the best juices by the more boring episodes that precede it... - and "Blushing Pilgrim", a frantic drum'n'bass track whose sonorities could delight the fans of many Planet Mu champions. Similarly interesting the trippy "Dysania", the lullaby of "Soul Traffic", the mad breaks of "Alive (VIP)" before the adventurous "Wild Tigers I Have Known" acting like an outro and a confession at the same time.

Ghost Vision: Mirdoar / Ozen

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 25 2019
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Artist: Ghost Vision
Title: Mirdoar / Ozen
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: P&F
“Belearic slow burners” is what these two tracks are pitched as, and it’s an apt description. Leisurely, organic house grooves, smooth keys and pads that channel 80’s pop ballads, and a jazzy piano that somehow manages to avoid sounding cheesy even when technically it’s definitely cheesy, it’s a confidently relaxed pair of tracks for sunbathing.

First track “Mirdaor” is a fairly simple seven-minute groove without much progression, and fine for it, while “Ozen” is a more ambitious twelve minute number that draws you in with sweet what-world-music-sounded-like-in-the-90’s atmospherics and some nicely indulgent breakdowns that are electronica with an endearingly backwards-looking feel.

Some may find it so close to lift musak for comfort, but for me it’s deftly handled and well-made lounge-house.

Moscoman: Wave Rave

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 25 2019
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Artist: Moscoman
Title: Wave Rave
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Life And Death
After catching Moscoman’s “I Ran” release from last year on his own Disco Halal label, a new EP was very welcome. This one’s now on the Life And Death label but the style, and the quality, has remained consistent across these four new tracks of melodic, synthy instrumental house with a warm, analogue but not wholly retro flavour.

The title track is built around a bright chord scheme and enjoys itself, a fairly simple bit of feel-good instrumental electropop in a DJ-friendly format. “Dinner For One” is a little darker and wobblier, with soft rumbling bass, a scratchy, meandering distorted synth lead note, and an unusual and very confident breakdown involving near-silence and light but militaristic snare patterns.

There’s a bouncy, slightly 90’s feel to the slow unfolding and twangy guitar work of “550”, which ends up being my favourite of the pack, while final track “Space Comfort” is another bright number with an almost endearing naivety to it that recalls the heady early days of instrumental synthpop where absolutely nothing seemed to be regarded as cheesy.

Another strong, accessible and surprisingly poppy pack from Moscoman, perfect for filling your set with a bit of bright electro cheer.


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