Music Reviews

VV.AA.: 14 Tracks: Crepuscular Electronics

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 17 2013
Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: 14 Tracks: Crepuscular Electronics
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Boomkat (@)
Rated: *****'s 14 tracks series takes you back to the glory of high school mixtapes, except in this case the friend making you the tape happens to be one of the world's leading purveyors of cutting edge electronic music. In short, they have all the good shit, the best stuff. On Crepuscular Electronics, released in October of last year "with an emphasis on slow, squashed beats, half-heard vocals and introspective autumnal atmospheres," (from the press release). I'm happy to report that this music is not seasonally effected, and the greyscale techno and vacuous romance of these 14 songs sound just as good on empty winter avenues.

'Collapsed' from Emptyset, taken from a recent 12" from Raster-Noton, opens the gates with 4 minutes of scouring static and tectonic bass, the slimiest, most earth-shattering industrial techno yr likely to find, before the mood lightens with the robotic salsa funk of Lukid's 'Manchester'. It's a slowly evolving locked groove, engineered to roll yr eyes up into yr head while yr feet pound unyielding concrete. Kingpin Andy Stott shows up with 'Expecting', cavernous echoes like dismembered memories, voices rise from the deep to swallow you whole. He takes his time before cracking the dam; a hefty 4/4 basskick comes on like an unstoppable war engine, loose chains clanking and rattling about its feet. There's slithering slime in the margins, filling the stereofield with details. This whet my appetite to have more AS in my life; the man is a boss, rightfully lauded, and bringing his black-clad comrades with him.

'Salt On The Wound' by Afterhours, from their first vinyl release on LA label Not Not Fun, is a slow groove, a midnight burn. Beatport described Sleepwalker as "like a surveillance camera through shimmering tunnels, glowing skylines and empty streets". Its a dystopian romance, a drunken cab ride into the sunset. It reminds you of Blade Runner's neon apocalypse, if its futuristic cityscape were on a volcanic island. Vessel's 'Aries' is one of this set's highlights, another slow smooth groove, full of buried sex and hidden intentions. Its like a late night tumble, with fractured chemical fantasies. Simultaneously disorienting and alluring, Sebastian Gainsborough pulls you in and fucks with yr head. Vessel is another highlight of the rising current of post-punk electronics.

The heads at Boomkat must've been on a roll at this point: 'Open To The Dark' from 1991 runs 'Charlotte Sometimes' by The Cure through a mangled-tape blender, smashing it together with blissed-out futurist synthesizers, and minimalist computer exotica. Its like a memory of the '80s, collapsed into a singularity. I'm glad to hear the futurism of that decade returning to the forefront, recalling a time when newer was always better, when anything was possible. Even if they are invoking it 30 years later. Canada's No Ufo's (named after a Model 500 song) were a new acquisition from this crop; the grooving, strobing dub techno of 'Petit A At 90' owns up to their namesake, smooth and deep and fierce, slowly growing and dissolving, floating in an amniotic limbo of its own making. Elements drift and reappear at apparent whim, making this a monster of a dancefloor nightmare. This would be right at home in a 3 am set somewhere backlit, guaranteed to put yr revelers in the zone.

It would take too long for me to describe every track in detail. They're all good in their own way. Let me be brief: Porcelain Raft's 'Talk To Me' is a churning, noisy R&B ballad. 'Still Here' by Clara Intelecto is the finest of the second half of this record, climbing high on my list of favorites from 2012, and etching its way into my penultimate pantheon. Its gorgeous, reverb-laden piano hangs over the warm round bass like the Southern Cross. This music sounds timeless, ancient; the strings are straight out of Silver Screen hollywood. This is music for epic romance at the end of time. 'Kiss me yr beautiful/these are truly the end days'.

Silent Harbour's 'Descending Radius Curve' is an unsettling listen, reminding us that industrial music and dark ambiance are still alive and quite unhealthy. 'Brook' by Throwing Snow is a kaleidoscopic journey through a radioactive arcade. 'Impasse' is the second best track of the latter half, brought to you by the intentionally misspelled Ssleeping Desiress. It sounds like latter day Coil, Gabriel Ramos doing his best John Balance (R.I.P.) over Aurora Borealis synth washes, before breaking into a dub reggae groove. This is fine make-out music! 'Bola 4' from Alex Under is 10 minutes of sound poetry, slowly growing into a dance floor bricolage. Not for the faint of heart or for the impatient, but yielding interesting results to the binaural adventurer.

Last but not least, 'Mighton Ogan Lode' from Oberman Knocks is pure paranoid fantasy, all ties from reality severed, floating in a cosmos of broken thoughts, trapped within the prison of unyielding flesh. The last two tracks of this record have mostly foregone any condescension towards the dance floor and the traditional avenues for electronic music. "a place where ideas learned from ambient techno, pop, hauntology, and sound design play out a wealth of affective emotions, textures and groove," (press release).

This is a long listen, and the continuity of tempo, mixed with the abstract electronic and disregard for pop tropes like builds and breaks, means that this will not be for everybody. But for anybody that likes to slap on a pair of headphones and go for a walk in the cold, this is a godsend. Its a useful who's who of a very singular strand of modern Techno. Its often bleak and cold, but its also romantic. This crop of producers are extracting the DNA from all the electronics of the '80s to make mighty mutants of sound. Call it cybernetic, call it futuristic; the cats at Boomkat will never steer you wrong, take you further and deeper than ever before!

Leslie Winer: &c.

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 16 2013
Artist: Leslie Winer
Title: &c.
Format: CD
Label: The Wormhole (@)
Rated: *****
Before pre-millenium anxiety and pre-apocalyptic spiffs by Tricky, teardrops, adulterated milk and wantonness by Massive Attack and even before the embryonic maternal heartbeats by Smith & Mighty, a talented beautiful girl, who after a career as a bad-tempered supermodel forged her great artistic personality, put the foundations of that genre which has been labelled as trip-hop to such an extent that she has deservedly been defined as "the grandmother of trip-hop" in spite of the fact she objected to such a definition as she prefers to speak about a sort of mutual influence with above-mentioned musicians. But if you have a listen to this impressive collection which retraces the musical history of Leslie Winer and includes many tracks of the forerunning release "Witch", whose original release date (1993 on Transglobal, featuring Karl Bonnie, Jah Wobble and Helen Terry) got delayed after a white label got printed in 1990 and didn't gained so much visibility just for limited budget, you will recognize both stylistical seeds and themes (including what it will be later labelled as "dazed and confused") which got transmitted in many records in the aftermath as well as a vocal expressivity and a lyrical and poetical depth which haven't so many terms for comparisons yet. That remarkable album managed to stimulate brainwaves in many important musicians such as Bjork, Bomb The Bass, Bill Laswell, Mekon, Grace Jones, who succeeded in grabbing a collaboration with her. Compiled by DCPM and mastered by Denis Blackham in the enchanting set of Scottish Isle of Skye last August, this retrospect about sister Leslie as she got dubbed on the song "If" will be followed by "10 Pomes Fin (Irish Wristwatch)', first volume of Winer's poems. Really unmissable gear.

Rapoon: Seeds in the Tide Volume 01

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 14 2013
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Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: Seeds in the Tide Volume 01
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Zoharum (@)
This new release from Zoharum is the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the moniker Rapoon. This moniker is well known for the impressive use of percussions and his legacy of the fundamental work done by Zoviet France as Robin Storey is one of their founding members. All track were faithfully restored by Maciej Bartkowiak.
This release is made by two cds: the first opened by "Fallen Gods" is completely driven by percussion and, especially in the first half, is clearly influenced by the heritage of the early experiments of Robin Storey. There's also more atmospheric tracks like "Shakaah" but the most important part of this release is from tracks like "Birethen" where the percussions are able to create a trance for the listener as they change the perception of time , The second half of this release relies on constructed ambient textures as in "Exodus" while "Recant" seems a sort of exception with his dark drone but, in fact, is an introduction for the second cd.
"Messianic Ghosts Originals" is the reissue of a CDR and is viewable as a long suite in four part where drone and effects create a fascinating soundscape with at least one amazing track "Babel's Tongues" where loops and drones are in dialectical positions.
This release could be quite outdated in the overall sound, as his most recent track is of 15 years ago, but is valuable as a portrait of one of the artist that has done the history of post-industial music and it depict his fundamental qualities. This release has no rating as it's quite essential.

Mikal: Spiritual/The Chant (Rido Remix)

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 11 2013
Artist: Mikal (@)
Title: Spiritual/The Chant (Rido Remix)
Format: 12"
Label: Utopia Music (@)
Rated: *****
Utopia Music label head Stephen Redmore aka Mako already mouthwatered all those who appreciated the gorgeous stuff by talented Swedish London-based dj and producer Mikael Willett aka Mikal by anticipating this release. On "Spiritual", Mikal's sound still has a strong connection with heavy stomper of his first years on the glorious imprint by Goldie and Kemistry&Storm, Metalheadz, but put the mallet he hit on red-hot iron on his previous "Headbanger" in order to temper the pitting with more pad-driven fluctuations so that getting closer to the sonorities of some previous tracks such as "Lifts Me Up" or "Distance", even if as it happened on thoe tunes, he doesn't opt some mind-blurring dirty spots and drilling metallic purulences out of his sound. A similar operation of chamferring has been made on "The Chant" by Czech producer and dj Pavel Ridosko aka Rido, who seems to apply some dynamics of the original track to the unhuman moan, which marked it, and lean towards more crackles and bumps instead of the "slide" of percussive elements on the grunt of low frequencies by Mikal. Two excellent assays of atmospheric ruggedness.

Bungle: Astral Travel/Aura

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 11 2013
Artist: Bungle (@)
Title: Astral Travel/Aura
Format: 12"
Label: Soul:R
Rated: *****
Another breach in the wall of hearts of drum'n'bass followers from Markus Intalex's Soul:R bears the name of the talented Brazilian musician Andre' Olivera Sobota, better known as Bungle, who doesn't goof up the beat on this lovely release in spite of his moniker. Mr.Intalex already played some stuff by Bungle on the occasion of some dj sets, but he preferred to use the utmost discretion about the author till now and he already announced a series of releases on his label by Andre'. The first track "Astral Travel" is pure bliss for lovers of airglowing stuff: after 40 seconds of routine maintenance of rocket engines, the listener gets pushed upwards by gild synths and aerostatic tunes, whose last descending triplet adds a certain sense of melancholy as well. During this ascension, which seems to be propelled by feverish tickling of astronomical clocks, just don't look down! The second track "Aura" sounds equally uplifting and breezy, but the feathered progression of rhythmical pattern with a stress on the eighth step could remind his Brazilian masters - he got ideally initiated to drum'n'bass by Dj Patife and he sometimes coupled the somewhat legendary Dj Marky -. A really good way to start 2013 for Soul:R.

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