Music Reviews

Sascha Funke & Niklas Wandt: Wismut

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 14 2019
Artist: Sascha Funke & Niklas Wandt
Title: Wismut
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Multi Culti
A collaboration openly contrived by A&R rather than pitched as a musical love story, this collaboration between techno stalwart Sascha Funke and multi-percussionist Niklas Wandt is the confident sound of two professionals who can roll out laidback, jazzy and slick mid-tempo house work with their eyes closed. The result is a four-track EP of long steady grooves, measured progressions and all the right bits in all the right places. Organic percussion sounds meet light techno kicks and claps while some sometimes bizarre-sounding melodic elements wander quite freely over the top.

The opening couple of tracks feature spoken-word German vocals which, more by association than design, evoke thoughts of 80’s experimental and industrial, and very predictably Kraftwerk of course, particularly with the lo-fi stylophone-esque melody of “Die Sage” and the rhythm pattern which opens up “Lobotomie”, before “Umarmung Aus Holz” seems to put more emphasis on the modern production touches instead, with its wandering and pitch-shifting ghostly pads. “Fur Die Paar Heller” is the highlight for me, the longest track that draws out a pattern of gradually increasing urgency that’s beautifully well handled, and which adds slightly more sci-fi synth noises into the mix, before a nicely odd and very assured near-silent breakdown.

A very steady EP built from regular perspiration rather than inspiration, it’s certainly a product of quality, excellent music to walk to.

FYI Chris ft. DJ Morris: Songs About People's Feelings

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 22 2018
Artist: FYI Chris ft. DJ Morris
Title: Songs About People's Feelings
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Toy Tonics
I’m going to stick my neck out here and suggest that “Songs About People’s Feelings” isn’t about people’s feelings, other than the specific feeling of wanting to dance. This is deep house music built from steady kicks, clean low basses, short melodic and atmospheric patterns and the odd decorative snippet or sample. Short phrases like the words “it’s okay to escape” that repeat in “B Glaser” don’t really qualify as a deep psychological study of people’s feelings- but you can definitely dance to it.

DJ Morris appears on “Encounters”, which starts out as though it’s going to be a full-on spoken-word-narration house record, but then wanders into deeper territory, cutting up the conversation into short breakdown pieces and peppering light synth stabs around over a sweet kick sound.

“Flat Psych” is a simple one-groove affair with nice measured use of a vocal-ish melodic loop over rolling, fairly Belearic beats. Despite its name “Just Atmosphere” is one of the more complex pieces, with a jazzy organ sound getting twisted and glitched playfully over a marginally more industrial beat (and an ending that will trip up DJ’s not paying attention).

And with the name “FYI Chris feat DJ Morris”, in case there are any Brits who might for a moment have wondered if controversial DJ Chris Morris was involved- I’m pretty confident he’s not.

Yani Ani: Yalla Bo

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 14 2018
Artist: Yani Ani
Title: Yalla Bo
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Unterman
Yani Ani’s debut EP on Unterman is a fairly casual and confident affair, taking fairly relaxed beats and organic, natural-sounding guitars and synths into fairly simple, mid-afternoon-slow-dance friendly instrumental grooves.

The title track is a fairly simple affair, relying on a slightly Peter Hook-style guitar riff over a steady house beat for an enjoyable, semi-lo-fi pattern that works, without wowing. The D.Y.O.R. remix of that track is the highlight for me, precisely doubling the length of it and adding a bunch of dynamism and rhythmic energy that makes it shine. The gentle one-chord synth patterning of “Ohevet” is nicely mesmeric, while as the name suggests “Hectic Living Rhythm” is the most urgent-sounding of the set, with a slightly faster BPM and some active bongos adding a bit of breadth.

It’s a steady debut, neither a record-breaker nor a ground-shaker but a winner for people who like their mellow house with just a little bit of guitar in it.

Jacuzzi General: Dreams Of The Tropics

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 11 2018
Artist: Jacuzzi General
Title: Dreams Of The Tropics
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Paradise Palms
This is the first time I’ve reviewed a towel, and unsurprisingly, ChainDLK’s system doesn’t list “towel + download” as a known music format, but that’s what this is- a limited edition hand towel, where the download code has been printed onto the washing instructions. As a promo item I only received the MP3s, not the actual towel, so sadly while I would like to comment on the quality of its fabric, its absorbency and its resilience to frequent washing, unfortunately I can only comment on the music.

The music that’s reminiscent of towels. Specifically, large beach towels draped across sun loungers by a pool which you relax on while a DJ plays a steady and relaxing selection of steady, light electronic house which is kicky enough to dance to but melodic enough to wash over you if you prefer. “Dreams” epitomises this, even adding some birdsong for good measure, with a gentle hummable melody, while “Eurostar” is obviously intended to imply more of a travelling theme yet mood-wise it certainly leaves you inclined to sit back and let other people do the work.

“Pool Shark” refers to a different kind of pool, of course, with the EP’s only vocal sample, a spoken-word affair which is, like the track itself, slightly sleazier than the rest, while “Prelude” is just a touch more dramatic, with a nice building, synthwave-ish intro that will serve as a great set-opener for just a hint of the music-storytelling intro that the title suggests, without going too ostentatious.

A velvety sonic towel of gentle house, certainly not too musically threadbare.

Ripperton presents Headless Ghost: Breakthrough EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 04 2018
Artist: Ripperton presents Headless Ghost
Title: Breakthrough EP
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Drumpoet Community
After taking a step towards chin-stroking home listening with his excellent (but slightly over-indulgent) “Sight Seeing” album earlier in the year, Ripperton has put out a 4-and-two-halves-track instrumental 12” which keeps thinks thoughtful but turns firmly back towards DJ’s and the dancefloor.

A1 “Real Smile Fades” is a gentle and bright-sounding simple house number with an endearing soft bassline, a mood that’s revisited in the equally dream-like B1 “See You Yever” which adds a nice line in jazzy keys.

A2 “Abandon” is a little harder and grittier, a fairly timeless and relentless light techno workout which sticks firmly to one groove and nails it, while B2 “One Day OK, One Day Not” is the quirky one of the pack, sampling gospel singing warm-up and audience claps and pulling the tambourines and claps into a nice walking rhythm that runs alongside a stepping melody that feels like somebody was making it up as they go along.

It’s described as a six-track release but the final two tracks, B3 and B4, are something of an oddity- both under two minutes long, both little unfinished grooves that form sweet DJ tools that fade out long before their full potential is realised.

A warm and lovely bit of instrumental house with a nice sincerity to it.

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