Music Reviews

Christopher Ledger & Luigi Ranghino's Trio: Cielo Intonato

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 18 2018
Artist: Christopher Ledger & Luigi Ranghino's Trio
Title: Cielo Intonato
Format: 12"
Label: CL Series
“Cielo Intonato” is a vinyl-exclusive set of sparse minimal electronica, with gentle rhythmic patterns treading with extreme softness under long, slow atmospheric pads and environmental sounds in a lush, mellow way. Luigi Ranghino’s Trio add organic and acoustic piano and woodwind sounds that give proceedings an exceptional elegance.

The main pieces are just three parts, each less than four minutes long, with the first setting the tone, the second adopting a slightly bubblier flavour, and the third a more conventional ambient affair.

The B side of the vinyl is taken up by an eleven-minute remix of the whole work by Ion Ludwig, who adopts a clubbier but still gentle approach that’s quite Ricardo Villalobos-ish in style- steady, minimal, progressive house where the elements of the original performance are looped politely over the steady drum machine bed.

This isn’t a release that vies for your attention, but instead is happy to sit on a wall and aspire to be beautiful sound art, flitting at the edges of electronica. It works well, it’s certainly very pretty, and leaves you wondering what it would sound like realised on a larger scale.

Kiwi: Mountains Of Dew

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 14 2018
Artist: Kiwi
Title: Mountains Of Dew
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Disco Halal
“Mountains of Dew” is an unusual single- well technically they’ve called it an EP, but with a radio-length version, a B-side and a club mix, that pretty much the definition of a good old-fashioned single to an 80’s kid like me.

The main version of opening track “Pine Marten” is a really unusual blend, with a 105bpm groove that’s slightly 80’s funk meeting some unorthodox Celtic atmospherics and some quite cinematic and slightly synthwave-y melody work that feels a bit heroic.

“Daubenten’s Bat” is in more familiar territory, around 125bpm with a steady house beat over which sampled tribal chanting and folksy guitar loops gradually fade in, and filter and effect themselves up, before the ‘real’ house beat and faintly acid bassline kicks in three minutes in to strong effect.

The club mix of “Pine Marten” also pulls it up to around 125bpm, with a heavier beat and turning the bass synth pattern into something quite Moroder-ish- or reminiscent of Vangelis’ Blade Runner theme- but retaining everything that’s good about the melodic heart of the track.

Described as a tribute to the highlands of Scotland, you might be hard-pushed to identify the cultural origins of a lot of these sounds- you could even argue they sound more sun-drenched and African and Ibizan in parts. But for a nice bit of dreamy mid-set house meandering, this is a nice package.

Naum Gabo: Naum Gabo EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 09 2018
Artist: Naum Gabo
Title: Naum Gabo EP
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Belters
The duo of Naum Gabo (Jonnie Wilkes and James Savage)’s self-titled EP is 5 tracks and 30 minutes of accessible bouncy acid instrumental techno.

The squelchy groove of “They’re Decent Sweets” makes nice use of a organ-like melody as a breakdown inbetween dancefloor-friendly, smile-inducing bass squeaks. “Qara” has a slightly more retro and synthwave tone to its synth work, somehow managing to be reminiscent of Cabaret Voltaire in tone yet good fun at the same time, again making a strong play between the rich melodic breakdown and the functional, stripped-back groove.

On the B-side, “250914” is a glitchier, breakbeat offering with a less predictable structure and more of a sense of urgency. “High On Cat’s Milk” is also a more direct and driving one-note number with a lead synth that begins to sound like an alarm. “Bim Bap” wraps things up with a bit of classic 303-style low rumbling, crisp claps and one-syllable vocal noises used like crashes and seems to just revel in the fun of making music this way.

Stuff like this is why techno is lovely.

Mazut: Atlas

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 08 2018
Artist: Mazut (@)
Title: Atlas
Format: CD
Label: BDTA (@)
Rated: *****
The sample of the famous words by American theoretical physicist (known as the "father of the atomic bomb") Julius Robert Oppenheimer, who spoke about his crisis of conscience that justified his refusal to collaborate on the project to make the hydrogen bomb by quoting the well-known line of Bhagavad-Gita syaing "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds", quoted in the title of the opening track of this album, perfectly ignites this good album by Warszaw-based duo Mazut, whose bitterly ironic cover artwork depicts the mythological Atlas, a Titan who was condemned to hold up the sky and the whole planet, while despairing as the planet slipped out of his giant shoulders. The kind of techno, that Pawel Starzec and Michal Turowski (the real names of the guys upholding Mazut) forged by a wide set of drum machines, synths, vintage radio receivers, a 4-track cassette recorder, samplers, a toy keyboard and a truckload of other gears (according to the wide list of equipment they wrote in the line notes), could fit a world blown to smithereens like the one we're experiencing. The nine tracks of this album run fast on the rails of some industrial-tinged progressive techno makers (Terence Fixmer, Derrick Carter, Mount Sims, Metro Area, Underground Resistance) and vague resemblances of some harsh sonorities of EBM (DFA, Bigod 20, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb), where you can feel like travelling on a train getting close to destruction while running at insane speed. Dirty lo-fi acid techno patterns over squealing metals, piercing signals, obsessive thumping and synth-driven engines - I particularly enjoyed the one quoting the brave Canadian suicidal activist Malachi Ritscher, the short but intense "Perverse Incentive", the obsessively menacing "Treatment Resistance" as well as the sweltering tentacles of "make A Threat", preceded by the two minutes of "That's a Razor and You" - the soundtrack for a suicidal temptation? -) are not elements of the usual way of escapism but are savagely anchored to our ferocious reality. Do not eject it out of the CD reader when "Blunted Affect"(the last track) the ghost track you can hear a sort of rudimentary sonic representation of the primitive elements, mirroring the urgency to begin something new through the debris left by the collapse of the world we uncontrollably forged?

Out Of Fuel: Isolation EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 08 2018
Artist: Out Of Fuel (@)
Title: Isolation EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Translation Recordings
Rated: *****
This is the second EP (after the interesting 'Ghost Notes' in 2016) for Washington DC-based label Translation Recordings by the Finnish duo Out Of Fuel. As far as I can understand by listening to this "Isolation", the drops of fuel by which Otto Andelin and Matti Kaivanto fed this new sonic engine are mainly atmospheric. They forged really good and immersive sounds and such a skill sometimes make them forget to handle the rhythmical pattern in a more structured way, as you can hear since the opening "Minus 25", whose masterfully made sound and the whole icy dub-like movement really render the idea of a machine flooded by extremely low temperature, but where the percussive elements manage to make the track a little bit warmer, but without any staggering variation (maybe a choice arising from the paralyzing frost...). We find similar dynamics and configuration on the following tracks "Cabin Fever" and "Chain Reaction", where these guys get closer to the style of some dub techno entries that people like Lars Fenin, Daniel Meteo and Deadbeat were dropping ten years ago. My favorite track is "Hypersensitivity", the one where the catchy atmospherics of the sounds gets intertwined with a likewise catchy and finely crafted rhythmical pattern. The package also includes a very good remix of "Ghosts", where Resound, another knight of Translation Recordings seems to chew acidulous low frequencies and distant smokey reverbs in a rising feverish way.

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