Music Reviews

Sonns & Tavish: Trycksaker

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 27 2018
Artist: Sonns & Tavish
Title: Trycksaker
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: ESP Institute
These two tracks mark a production debut for established LA DJ’s Alexandre Mouracade and Tavish Graham, and it’s a bold and confident opener. Two slabs of bright, confident, steady instrumental four-to-the-floor with bits of synthwave, bits of electro-house, and some aspects of a more minimal aesthetic, this is music you could dance to, or drive to, or work to, or just sit down and enjoy.

At almost nine minutes the A side “Trycksaker” maybe overstays its welcome just a touch for home listening and bouncier B side “Roguish Days”, with its bassline lifted from the funkier side of acid house, seems more compact and well-formed, but they’re both born from the same sonic pod and they’re both highly polished, if borderline uneventful, bits of mid-set feel-good fodder.

Lybes Dimem: Syncleft Chronem

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 24 2018
Artist: Lybes Dimem
Title: Syncleft Chronem
Format: LP
Label: SVS Records
Lukas Rehm, who describes himself as a visual artist before the word musician, opens up a new alias here. The Lybes Diem project is integrally built to be a synergy between sound and ‘moving image artwork’ (or ‘video’ as plebs like me might call it), designed for installations, spatial sound experiences and “synesthetic shows”.

But ignoring all that, what do you get if you buy the LP or the download? You get eight punchy tracks of loud, often aggressive distorted techno and electronica instrumental built on complex and often slow kick rhythms.

“Tachy” is a noisy, abrasive opener that borders on white noise at times, and while “Horizon2020” allows for sparser breathing sections, the noise is never too far away. “Auto Alternative” offers a dark electronic thrum that probably does sound fantastic live.

The second half of the album settles down somewhat, with “Nascent Tenet” a collection of low faintly industrial drones mixed with long synth pads and odd atmospherics. “Double Bound” uses chord patterns that are odd-sounding but more conventionally structured. “Da-Jiang Innovations” reintroduces noisier elements but over more settled pads, before “Powerset” wraps things up in a predictably dark and industrial rumbling manner.

Either cathartic or unwelcoming depending on whether you can get into the sound or not, “Syncleft Chronem” takes some of the sonic qualities of IDM and reworks them into the world of immersive installations and disorientation. The result is one of those albums that manages to be not particularly likeable at times, yet really tempt you to turn the volume up up up nevertheless.

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.

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