Music Reviews



Total Science presents /VV.AA.: Tuned In 2

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 19 2012
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Artist: Total Science presents /VV.AA. (@)
Title: Tuned In 2
Format: CD
Label: C.I.A. (@)
Rated: *****
More than ten years after the first sampler, which fully uncovered their wide-opened vision on drum'n'bass, one of the most prolific and innovative British dnb producers, Jason Greenhalgh and Paul Smith, who paired up under the lucky moniker Total Science, delivers their renowned perspective by means of their notorious label C.I.A., whose acronym means Computer Integrated Audio and doesn't have any reference to that club of dangerous Peeping Toms, who usually bothers our planet with their megalomaniac spy perversions. Even if the above-mentioned first release was certainly more seminal, "Tuned In 2" seems to suggest many possible sylistical pathways, which sometimes bridge the gap between old school and new sounds besides pleasing many dnb listeners due to the wide range of styles it explores. Although soulful dnb (that stuff some hotheads and imps ironically connects with the sampler which enhances the productivity of gay bartenders) is not my favorite one, I could state the obvious when I ascertain the high quality of such tunes: the astonishing sentimental digression by Sinistar & Grimm, which is going to surprise those ones who knew the couple through harsher tracks such as "Dead Idolz" or other hard tracks by Jeremy Howard aka Sinistarr for the unavoidable influences from Detroit techno, on "Anything" alternates piano-driven sentimental moments with more popping parts, which both mantain a certain "Detroitesque" terseness, and such a duality comes out from other sweataned tracks such as "Lowend theory", a track signed by the impressive collaboration of one half of Total Science, J.R.Greenhalgh, aka Q Project and 8 Bits, who spill acid rains from the initial pink synth cloud, or "Stolen Moments" where Total Science integrate jump-up engines on Riya's enticing singing and synth-piano spotty melodies. Beyond more mysterious and "gothic" tunes such as the gloomy "Dream Demon" by Spirit - integrating Upbeats-like grime with mayhem sounds -, the entrancing "Trust" by French-born producer and MC Proktah, who combines grinding neurofunk beats with a foggy atmosphere, which could evoke a nuclear holocaust, the exquisitely suffocating sounds on Break's "Slipstream" or the nice metallic and gummy beat rolling on Fracture's "The Breaks", there are many tracks, which cling more tightly to my eardrums: my favorite one is the intial remix of Total Science & S.P.Y.'s "Past Lives" by Lenzman, who perfectly balance liquid funk, jump-up, uplifting tones and the vocal floating by Kevin King, but the snapping crystalline jump on "Clipper Man" by Calibre, the somewhat epic Riya's song "Cold Blooded" by Total Science, Break's "floral" contagious remix of Total Science's "Going In Circles" and the final dry and high jumping beats by Beta 2 on "Perceptions" stay at close range in my personal rank. A split version on vynil of "Tuned In 2" is also available. Just turn on, tune in and move out!

VV.AA.: Mise En Place pt.1

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 17 2012
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Mise En Place pt.1
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Ingredients Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Powered by Bramley apples kindky recommended by Kinetic & Mark Recoil for the preparation of Granny Recoil's Apple Cake, the widely respected Ingredients label puts the first part of a series of EPs, wisely called Mise En Place - a French expression, which refers to the organization and the arranging of ingredients a cook needs for his delicacies -, in the oven, and I'm pretty sure these hors d'oeuvres are going to tickle the tympanic palate of many drum'n'bass fans. Beyond two well-known chief cooks of the scene - the former member of the supergroup Bad Company dBridge, who remixes Kodo's "The Jackal" by abounding with dry and trenchant jump-up, and Villem, who dresses Foreign Concept's "Jaipur" with perfect cut-ups and charming female chants which could remind some stuff by Aphrodite -, there are two skilled debutants: while the above-mentioned producers, Kinetic and Mark Recoil, offer a somewhat haunting tune on "Cold Streets", a combination of eerie atmospheres which sound like coming from scaring alleyways of a decadent suburb, Stealth & Stylus raises the air temperature and the buotant force of the montgolfier with airy daydreaming sounds and crunchy beats on "One Way", a title which perfectly describes the uplifting vector which is going to rise listeners up. There aren't any rotten apples in this delicious pie.

The Rum Baba: 80s Animal/Stop Talk

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 15 2012
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Artist: The Rum Baba
Title: 80s Animal/Stop Talk
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ninthwave Records
Rated: *****
There could be a dispute about the true source for inspiration of the name of this beatmaster. According to his own words, it comes from Jamaian rum, but there could be many the true origin could be a delightful Neapolitan cake, which usually gets dunked in rum and filled with pastry cream. The thesis about a possible reference to that Indian funkster who supposedly materialized rings, golden eggs and other jewellery has been borne out, but it's not so convincing... Anyway, the Rum Baba could be one of the potential guru of the newborn tropical bass movement, an infectious style, which whisk Caribbean sounds, bumping loud basses and sonic shrapnels from Jamaican block parties: this delicious sample includes "80's Animal", which could be imagine as what The Bug should play after a temporary love for some Depeche Mode's hits, and "Stop Talk" (no words!), which sounds like a dancehall, ruled by a gringo with the passion for decks and snare, which sounds played by a monkey under the influence of cocaine. A true tropical electrocution, which is going to make you definitively move. Have a taste of this!
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Artist: Pye Corner Audio (@)
Title: Sleep Games
Format: CD
Label: Ghost Box Records (@)
Rated: *****
As we approach Kurzweil's singularity, epochs and eras are running together in a permanent ontological NOW. The future is unfathomable, so we strive to master history, perhaps in an attempt to better understand the times we are living in. We are attempting to eradicate the grievous crimes against taste found in any era, and reinvent ourselves in the process. Ghost Box, the label run by Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly) and Julian House (The Advisory Circle) have been ahead of the curve since the label's inception in 2004, materializing an alternate history located somewhere between the years of our lord 1954 and 1978. With 'Sleep Games,' the most recent and most realized work by The Head Technician, the force behind Pye Corner Audio, they have expanded their template by about 7 years, and allowed in cosmic disco forces into Belbury's town square, lit the pastoral avenues with phosphorescent lights and polished chrome.

The Head Technician, aka Martin Jenkins, is a self-proclaimed John Carpenter devotee, and the predominant mood of 'Sleep Games' is akin to escaping from New York in The Fog, while someThing follows ominously, just beyond the halo of yr taillights. But Jenkins is also obsessed with early Detroit Techno: Carl Craig, Juan Atkins, Drexciya, Underground Resistance. He adorns the '80s plasticine sheen of horror movie synth explorations with a pillowy thump and colorful sequencer arpeggios, making a cyberpunk superbeast of atmospherics and danceability. Its a way forward for Ghost Box, who could flounder under their own archaic electronica, if they weren't careful.

'Sleep Games' is an exciting listen; its supposed to sound like movie music. It seems as if something is going on. With track names like 'The Mirror Ball Cracked,' 'A Door In The Dry Ice,' and 'Underneath The Dancefloor' 'Sleep Games' conjures mysterious visions of night drives and haunted discotheques. Some have referred to PCA's sound as 'Spectral Electronics'. It sounds like someone driving a speeding Delorean to catch the library before it closes, with churning fog obscuring the fields and barns of sleeping Belbury, in an attempt to subdue the sleeping demon beneath the haunted dancefloor, so that the good townspeople may dance and take pills and make merry in safety and splendour.

All of the drum machines and synths are lovingly sources from analogue, giving an old school crunch and warmth to the proceedings. As the Earth is riddled with neat, meticulous ADD-addled bedroom producers, rough hewn homemade electronica seems to be coming back in fashion, things which are personal and irreproducible, that seem like they COME from somewhere. The soul of the circuitboards, and the chi of the vacuum tubes are captured and transmitted in the stygian troughs of the spinning vinyl, an ineffable specter that is increasingly mandatory, in the dense oversaturated music industry. Martin Jenkins gives a loving touch to everything he produces, and has found a spiritual home in the town of Belbury, as part of the Ghost Box coven. Mark Fisher, aka K-punk, one of the patron saints of Hauntology, has even given his blackened benediction to 'Sleep Games', acting as a creative consultant for the haunted tenement cover art, lovingly created by labelhead Jim Jupp. Every mark of excellence is present and accounted for, proving Pye Corner Audio and Ghost Box to be at the peak of their powers, taking risks and creating worlds. It is exciting to watch their world grow and shift, and it is a magickal world to lose one's self in. With '80s movie scores gaining visibility and respectability, starting with 2010's Unsound Festival in Cracow, Poland, which focused on horror-themed music, to seeing classic scores lavishly re-issued on vinyl by the likes of Death Waltz Recording Company, perhaps people are finally ready to hear Pye Corner Audio's mouldering electronica. Its his best work yet, and a triumph and a new direction for Ghost Box, which continues to set the standard for Victorian Techno.

Chemical Ally & Lady Flava/Fade: Imagination of Yourself (Spirit remix)/Insider

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 10 2012
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Artist: Chemical Ally & Lady Flava/Fade
Title: Imagination of Yourself (Spirit remix)/Insider
Format: 12"
Label: Rooted Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Just like new buildings need solid foundations, Rooted Recordings, the newborn label by veteran Welsh producer and dj Chemical Ally, opts for a massive appetizer as a way of presenting itself to a scene, which cannot be but ready enough to similar stuff. According to Chemical Ally's words, he founded Rooted not only with the intent of producing sonic stuff he likes to spread out, but he's also taking account of it as a possible launching pad for his music, which you can taste on this release through "Imagination Of Yourself", a roaring track he co-signed with Lady Flava, long-time lasting fellow dj on Rude FM; they both got inspiration from the style of the evergreen and prolific Duncan Busto aka Spirit, a sort of miliar stone for tech-oriented and dancehall-igniting drum'n'bass, so that they immediately took the opportunity to give him the track for further retouch when they learnt about sich a chance. The final result perfectly suits recent dancehall tastes, which seems to turn darker and darker without dropping the possibility to jump, by means of eerie sounds, high speeds (they also included a sample of a racing car, which spins across catchy rhythmical patterns, distorted brasses and infective basses). On B side, there's a track, "Insider", by the young Ukranian prodigy Fade, which sounds quite simple and mannered, but highly effective, while digital release comes with a very catchy tune by Saint-Petersburg-based duo 2Sides (Jack Ivanov and Ivan Evdokimov), whose "True Skull" sound like combining some of the grimest influences by Upbeats-like "esoteric" dnb and highly energetic trancey breakbeat. Definitively a good way to be welcomed by many dnb djs and supporters!


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