Music Reviews

Consequence: Atrium/Box Rituals

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 04 2013
Artist: Consequence (@)
Title: Atrium/Box Rituals
Format: 12"
Label: Pushing Red (@)
Rated: *****
Another musical treat from techno and dubstep focusing Texas-based label Pushing Red by Heath Looney sees the sign of Toronto-born Cameron McLaren, better known as Consequence, who vouches his reputation as a producer with a passion for experiments and sound engineering he gained after many notorious hits and a couple of slightly unconventional albums ("Live For Never" and "Test Dream") on dBridge's appreciated Exit Records, where he managed to melt impressively different styles such as dubstep, drum'n'bass, ambient and pure electronic music. On A side, the initial tuning by metallic pitapat which sounds like the adjustment of a clockwork, claps and other percussive elements evolves into a mellow tune by means of slightly distorted synths and high-pitched billowing harmonics on "Atrium"; the flipside-placed "Box Rituals" features a similar progression as it starts with a terse 4/4 kick and a sort of march before the appearance of melodic effluviums, which evoke an estranging sense of tragic beauty. Some listeners cannot but hope it's a sort of "teaser" which is ready to come.

ASC: Proton/Electron

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 21 2013
Artist: ASC
Title: Proton/Electron
Format: 12"
Label: Pushing Red (@)
Rated: *****
James Clements, better known as ASC, one of the most prolific electronic music producer, who mostly lived and breathed Motown, techno and primeval UK hardcore scene, unclasps a couple of catchy techno tunes on this polarized release for Texas-based label Pushing Red by Heath Looney. Even if I could surmise he mainly seems to build a stylistical bridge between icy sci-fi electro sounds (I could mention some stuff which came from NY-based Satamile) and those hazily narcotic sonorities of some underground UK releases, there's something in the assembly of the rhythmical pattern, in the progression of sounds and in the percussive elements (particularly of the negative pole of this electrolytic cell, the track called "---" or "Electron" where ASC seems to induce radioactivity at a certain point by means of catchy dynamics...) which let me thought about some possible hype revisitation of some techno-trance mantra by obscure Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia by Sabres Of Paradise or Solar Quest. Of the two tracks, I prefer the above-mentioned "Electron", but "Proton" is equally catchy, even if those mashed bumps on pitched buzzes of the first part could sound a little bit banal till the moment he injects funnier legerdemain with bleeps and click on a heady very low frequency.

Vladislav Delay: Kuopio

 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 19 2013
Artist: Vladislav Delay (@)
Title: Kuopio
Format: CD
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
After the appetizer of "Espoo", a sort of sidetrack and bridge between his previous album "Vantaa" and present day, Sasu Ripatti aka Vladislav Delay keeps on feeding his "psychogeographical" sonic series about Finland, his beloved country, by a release named after Kuopio, the second urban area in terms population density after Helsinki. By means of this good album, the mutation of Delay's sound seems to have been completed in the bargain: even if it could sound less irregular and somewhat close to more chewable stuff, Sasu manages to mould a sound, which sound mature and elegant both when he contours more physical sonorities as it happens in the first part of the record in authentic master strokes such as "Avanne", "Hetkonen" or "Osottava", where he almost renders ice, crystal, metal, timber, empty logs or even crumbled stalactites by means of sounds, smoothed with suspended pads and muffled reverberations, and when he tacks towards more bouncing tracks and amazing hybridizations which manage to preserve the typical matchstick structure and modular progressions of his style. There are many gems which seem to be squeezed from Kuopio's spirit - a people-orinted environment, where it seems there's a careful and balanced policy on cultural life, environment, transportation and arts, which probably influences people's mood, as it seems that Kuopio inhabitants are more jovial and talkative and less melancholic and reserved than other Finnish citizens - in order to encrust it on listenable support. I could just recommend to relish and gulp it down like a pleasunt journey with many amazing landmarks such as the puffed telegraphic breakbeat of "Marsila", the floating levitations of "Kellute", the crystalline nibbling and mindblowing sequences of "Hitto", the catchy melting of icy leftover curls of "Kuuluuko", the lukewarm fibrillation of "Hetkonen" and so on... Really yummy record!

The Exaltics: Muted World

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 18 2013
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Artist: The Exaltics
Title: Muted World
Format: 12"
Label: Trust
Rated: *****
Robert Witschakowski has always been really active and also 2013 has started in a good way as The Exaltics already released a split 12" EP and this new "Muted World" EP which has been released by Austrian label Trust. Available as 12" and digital download, "Muted World" blends electro, a bit of acid (like on "Second Phases"), ambient electronica and Detroit techno. As usual the tracks offer hard beat complex rhythmic textures, tense atmospheres and almost a maniacal cure into the arrangement procedure. "Muted World" offers four new instrumentals "Every Beginning Has An End", "Second Phases", "Muted World" and "Broken" plus a remix of "Second Phases" by bristol's Kamikaze Space Programme, the new experimental techno project of veteran drum'n'bass producer Chris Jarman a.k.a. Raiden. On this version, Chris kept the main melodic structure and added distortion here and there, but mainly to rhythmic elements, just to give more boost to the whole track. As usual, for The Exaltics, wait for a quality release!

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!

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