Music Reviews

Jan 22 2013
Artist: Worsel Strauss
Title: Unattention Economy
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Vicmod Records (@)
Rated: *****
One of the main criticisms levelled at electronic music is that anyone can make it, the machines do all the work. That is true, just press the triangle and let fly! This then raises the question: What makes good electronic music? Sure, we can listen to the refrigerator hum or blender whine for hours, but does that constitute good 'music'? Worsel Strauss, half of the retro electronics outfit Schleusolz, plugs in his machines, and considers the results.

Inspired by an infamous piece of early electronics, Douglas Leedy's 'Entropical Paradise (with bird call),' a triple-LP of self-generated modular synth music, Strauss wondered if he could make some interesting synthnoise, without resorting to sidelong synth soundscapes. Instead, he wondered if the machines could come up with more conventional 'songs', and set to, armed with a vintage Buchla synthesizer and some other analog electronics. The pieces were composed, straight to tape, and then edited later, in a process he called 'subtractive mixing'. 'If there is a creative process involved at all it is the design of the rules and the final choice of which results to present, and which ones not.' He even wonders if it can be considered music at all.

Which brings us to the mechanical heart of 'Unattention Economy,': Does it sound good? An album reviewers purpose is to report back what he hears, and to alert listeners as to whether a particular piece is worthy of their attention. While 'UE' might be cyberdine techno, it sounds REALLY good. At first i was skeptical: another experimental synth record? How much knob twiddling can a bloke hack? But it is my job, to parse through the datastream and report what i see, and i will not let you down. It is our job, as listeners, to try and remain unjaded, to not let the cultural torrent wash us away. This comes through presence and awareness, and the final analysis is, Strauss' machines sound boss. Bringing to mind a surprising amount of modern electricians (Nine Inch Nails, Autechre, Jessica Rylan), the sounds are all sourced from exquisite components. The drums kick like a Parisian siege, while the analog pads are as warm as a Sahara sun. There's bleepy, gloopy tones, that'll appeal to the retro-fetishists out there, but there's also dance floor fare (Shopping for Antibiotics). 'Swarm Intelligence' is a standout track, killer martial breakbeats and detuned swarming melodies. Its like an instrumental outtake from 'The Downward Spiral' remixed with a Pure Data patch. It brings the body and the head together, and could help introduce some listeners to the world of abstract electronica that's out there.

Vicmod Records could have a real hit on their hands here. Worsel Strauss is worthy of yr time and attention, possibly yr praise. The time and care he took to setup the experiment allowed for some remarkable alleatoric daemons to manifest, and i'll be damned if i don't hear a bit of soul in there. 'Unattention Economy' is very highly recommended.

DVA: Fly Juice EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 17 2013
Artist: DVA (@)
Title: Fly Juice EP
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Hyperdub
Rated: *****
Leon Smart aka Scratcha DVA already demonstrated his fine approach to sound as it were a true gourmet in his acclaimed debut album "Pretty Ugly" (such a title could let you surmise he probably assimilated the rules of British understatement!). That's the reason why Hyperdub always gave him carte blanche with the only restriction of avoiding to prepare mid-tempo dubstep stuff as they maybe noticed that shelves in the supermarket are full enough. The culinary metaphor is not so casual as the modified clap Scratcha DVA often uses could remind the sound of the knife on a wooden cutting board. Moreover his way of cutting samples before putting them in the frying pan reminded some Japanese samurai whose sonic katanas got famous since the end of 90ies such as Boom Boom Satellites, Tatsuya Oe, Ken Ishii as well as some stuff released on David Moufang's Source Records, but DVA's paraphernalia seasons the sound with tasty spices such as hypnotic Detroit techno chords and similar tricks ("Long Street", "Walk It Out"), delicious garage-house nibbles and jazz-funk Rhodes organ appetizer ("Fly Juice"), dogged shuffling drums ("Do It"). All those listener who will opt for digital edition will be delighted by double portion as they could grab four more tracks, including the smoky dub knocking remix of "Ganja" by French Fries, the amazing swooshing garage-dub feast of "Rumors" which features "drunken" delicate vocal guest Inga copeland (Hype Williams), and the catchy "Shook", whose funny lolloping tastes like a sort Mr.Oizo in aspic. Why am I feeling peckish now?

Voide: Electric Jungle

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 14 2013
Artist: Voide (@)
Title: Electric Jungle
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: CDBaby
Rated: *****
After the teaser freebie 'Agents and Radios', the Swedish Electronica-producer David Almgren releases his all new studio album. With 'Electric Jungle', David continues to explore his vision to produce attractive, spacey, futuristic-sounding Synthesizer-Electronica music, which is still authentic enough to avoid a dangerous approach to any Pop-related meaninglessness. After a dark sounding introduction, the title track comes up and features all of David's talent discovered through previous 4 album releases. Also again involved is his female partner behind the microphone, Mrs. M. Craven, and she does her best to provide a smooth and warm sounding vocal performance to oppose with David's cold and mechanic Electronica efforts. Both, Craven and Almgren, have teamed up a while back and know each others talent well. Wouldn't be there such a huge distance between Sweden and Australia, they could have been united for a real band project. Also 'Haunted House' works excellent with both talents included and it isn't at all that 'haunting' as the title may suggests. This track can be counted asides the hit smashing tune 'I Am There' and the already known, earlier released 'Side By Side' to be the most important tracks available on this album. In between we have again David's own instrumental compositions. 'Green Solitude' impresses with its nearly Lounge-/Late-Night-Electronica inspired instrumentation, while 'For Savannah' could work well as being the title-melody of a sports TV-broadcast format. 'Electric Jungle' consumed as a whole album doesn't leave any wishes of the listener unfulfilled, in case that Synth-/Futurepop-inspired Electronica music with a Spacesynth-undertone counts to your preferences. Unfortunately this album ends abruptly after only 37 minutes, which is definitely a bit too short. 2 - 3 more tracks available on this well designed album (art/photos by Are Eidet, wouldn't hurt any of the listeners, because none of the featured 12 tracks sounds unattractive or provides boredom. Christmas we've just survived, but I still have wishes: more stuff and a lesser short pause for the next album, Mr. Almgren!

The Spaceape: Xorcism

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 12 2013
Artist: The Spaceape (@)
Title: Xorcism
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Two of the most memorable situations I experienced during my journeys over our amazing planet are closely related to tribal rites: the first one in a Cuban village between Varadero and Havana was a sort of celebrative Yoruba rite (the people I met there explained there were some Voodoo elements as well) for the oldest member of the community while the second one was an healing Sangoma ritual in a Zulu village in South Africa. This interesting release by Stephen Samuel Gordon aka The Spaceape, whose promising musical path and the visibility he deservedly gained for his impressive collaborations with Kode9 have been suddenly stopped by a 3-years lasting struggle against neurolymphamatosis, a rare form of cancer whose painful and troublesome progress had been mirrored in the lyrics of some tracks of "Black Sun" album - just carefully listen "Black Smoke", "Neon Red Sign" and "The Cure" -, vividly activated those memories. The above-mentioned fight against cancer, which resurface in many moments of this musical little treat (songs like "Your Angel Has Come" and "Palaces" have many references to his period of hospitalization and treatment and many clues of his spiritual clearance have been spread all over the album), gave him new spiritual energy, which permeates his words and emanates from the hypnotical and catchy synthesis of meaningful lyrics and samples taken from traditional ritual musical stuff from Haiti and Kamchaka - Drummers of the Societe Absolument Guinin's "Voodoo Drums", two tracks from "Kamchatka: Tambours de Danse de L'extreme Orient Siberien" by Anastasija Vasileva Gitorovka and irina Khristoforovna Kolegova, a release on Soul Jazz Records about haitian street music and a couple of track from "Rhythms Of Rapture - Sacred Musics Of Haitian Vodouan", an encyclopedic compilation released by Smithsonian Folkways some years ago -, which could awake elemental and hidden forces in the listener. "Xorcism" really sounds like a reinvigorating and healing exorcism, whose effulgent poetic nourishment and synaesthetic sway is so catchy that I really hope there will be a follow up.

Lynx & Hellrazor ft.Kemo: Dive Deep In / Shadowlands

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 10 2013
Artist: Lynx & Hellrazor ft.Kemo (@)
Title: Dive Deep In / Shadowlands
Format: 12"
Label: Warm Communications (@)
Distributor: S.T. Holdings Ltd.
Rated: *****
After the remarkable juggling on Soul:r with Balloons and Passing Time, which already settled inside many dj bags and has been successfully installed in many hard drives, talented dnb producer Lynx keeps on running on the path of thought-ignited stuff by means of his lomg-lasting cross-lifting collaborations with Jimmy Blitx aka Kemo and Richard Scott aka Hellrazor. Together with the latter one, Lynx really seems to strap a razor by whipping snares, disquieting bell-like tunes, menacing bass, scorched patterns, roaring inserts and an "interlude" which reminds Matrix-like settings and some jams by legendary Ram Trilogy, which perfectly fits to the leathery prophylaxis from a somewhat undefined threat from a numerical controlled world (d'you think it's so distant from reality?) on "Shadowland". Another excellent stylistical dnb jewel comes on the other side: an infectious half time rhythmical pattern and a rolling sitar which could remind some stuff by Fanu builds the pedestal for the poisoned vocal treatments by Kemo, whose track manages to reinforce the sonic soldering of these producers which already jacked many dnb clubs on the planet.

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