Music Reviews

Fractional: Blood

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 18 2010
Artist: Fractional (@)
Title: Blood
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Rated: *****
I've near heard anything before by Belgian Breakcore artist Fractional but his new album 'Blood' sure got my attention with the amphetamine charged beats and simple but melodic content of the first track. Speed isn't what Fractional is all about though; pacing, timing and strategic sonic placement surely is. Even though there is good amount of repetition within these largely instrumental tracks, there is shading and variation within the context of the form to keeps things from getting stale. And that breakcore isn't non-stop either; Fractional allows plenty of room for you to catch your breath between the frenzied pace of the percussive programming. On third track, 'Sie,' Fractional not only slows it down a bit, but also inputs critical little spaces of silence that add to the dramatic tension of the piece.

'Wo' is delightful four-on-the floor piece that would fit comfortably in any dance club, yet the big beat isn't incessant, and often broken up by synth sequences and breaks. Even though it is somewhat repetitious there are enough sonic interjections to keep it interesting. There is a lot of IDM influence on this album, as mood shifts and strange tonalities often enter the picture. One minute you seem to be floating in a netherworld, the next you're racing to somewhere at breakneck speed. Still, every shift, every break, every change of atmosphere is appropriate and doesn't seem awkward or forced. From track to track, there is an incredible amount of variety. One thing for sure is that you won't get bored listening to 'Blood'. I was surprised at every turn.

For the most part, the melodic form is simple throughout the album, but the way it is put together certainly isn't. Themes are well developed and supported; nothing gets in the way of anything else. Even sparse sections when not much was happening (like on 'Niv') added to the dramatic tension. Fractional uses a quite a few ascending minor key sequenced progressions which also tends to keep the listener on edge. Yet, it never comes across as heavy-handed or overblown. Even when the percussive pace is warp-speed like on 'Ofue,' and the melodic theme is somewhat heavy, the rest of the music manages to keep up and support it.

There isn't anything that isn't good on 'Blood,' and it should hold up to repeated plays. Fractional has done an outstanding job with this one.

Sutekh: On Bach

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 14 2010
Artist: Sutekh (@)
Title: On Bach
Format: CD
Label: Creaked
Rated: *****
Seth Horvitz aka Sutekh (the Egyptian version of his real and enviable name!) is not a newcomer in musical operations concerning the restyling of classical music: he never neglected his passion for classical music and in 2005 he issued on his own label, Context Free Media, a 12' including one bizarre rhapsody inspired by Paganini. His obsession for classical composers slightly restrained for his love for sequencers, computers and other stuff belonging to industrial age (!) should have been noticed by the art directors of the historic Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, who invited him to perform for Bach To The Moon, an event dedicated to the 'original father of harmony' ' those ones were the words Beethoven used to describe the genial German composer J.S.Bach -, being the only electronic musician alongside a plenty of classical ones to join this sort of conclave and the industrious Sutekh astonishingly used some shibboleths belonging to his musical territories by acting almost as an eraser of conventional music standards in order to use Bach's intuitions and tunes for the hard-working fertilization of his creative fields! Well'¦many organ or piano students could consider such an operation a kind of personal revenge against fearful exercises on Bach's scales, responsible ' I'm not joking!!! - for many tendinitis, wrist dislocation or phalanx cramps, but the electronic surgery by Sutekh is definitively a brilliant opus even if it could sound like a daredevil outrage to certain puritanism still surviving in music schools.

It's not correct to speak about remixes or cover versions of Bach scores, as they act more as seeds feeding its logical and creative process, so that you can hear to excellent samples of manipulated MIDI data of Bach's chorales ' it borders on most demented Kid 606 tunes on tracks such as The Lips Of The Foolish Way ' or funny grafts of Bach's arpeggio on quirky mechanical monsters (in tracks such as The Glorious Day Has Downed ' you'll wonder how Toccata and Fugue in D Minor descending scales' samples could sound so aciiiiiiid -or Repulsion By Slit And Roundabout, Sutekh highlighted the obsessive aspect of Bach's music you could easily recognize even in some of the most famous scores by the German composer, insisting sometimes in a spasmodic way on the same note'¦) or freaky sound setting (have a listen to the way the Fugue for Organ in C Minor - or maybe it's the Passion Chorale'¦?!?!? - seems to resurface from the muddy depths of pond, full of sometimes dreadful sound life'¦).

In the intricate web of noisy balls where you can sometimes uneasily listen to Bach's traces, I appreciated the presence of a sort of tribute to one of the most bizarre Bach's interpreter of almost contemporary ages, Glenn Gould, and you'll enjoy the presence of some bubbling vocal samples by this crazy performer in All Men Must Die, the track tribute to this eccentric character! Sutekh's cannot end but with what seems an immersive remake of Come Sweet Death (Komm susser Tod BWV478), entitled The Last Hour, where a single organ chord grows in volume, intensity and is gradually enriched of different tones till it towers above the sound space by skimming over the initial crystalline and obsessive set of church bells. Evocative and sometimes sublime opus!

Marc Houle: Drift

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 11 2010
Artist: Marc Houle
Title: Drift
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Minus
Distributor: Rough Trade
Rated: *****
In the filmic intro of this 'seasonal' album by the Canadian techno-maker Marc Houle aka Run Stop Restore in duet with Troy Pierce (I'm a big fan of their mono-page web site!), one of the most talented protégé of Richie Hawtin (Marc has gained a certain notoriety at Hawtin's club 13 Below for his New Wave night, where he delighted clubbers by spreading refined tunes as well as vintage video games to entertain them) and one of the flagships of Minus pithy roster, you're going to listen to the heavy pattering of some unknown person coming back home shocked by the harshness of Berlin winter ' the one between 2009 and 2010 was the source for inspiration for Marc'¦and I can confirm it can be considered one of the harshest Berlin ever experienced as I expected some iceberg falling down from the sky when my face was slapped by chilling breeze at almost -20°C'¦ - and compelled to stay at home in a sort of voluntary self-confinement. During the listening, you could imagine this sort of fictional character in the act of perceiving a frozen reality beyond windows, totally misted up by frost (Inside), getting depressed by the vision of leaden sky (Seeing In The Dark), daydreaming warmer days in the well-heated coshering cosiness of domestic place (Sweet), flowing and falling headlong into and onto mental gorges induced by freezing wintertime (Drift'¦definitively the most stomping track and my favorite one for the immersive experience Marc is able to give to the listener) and so on towards dilatations and contractions of perception of time resolving in the final moments (Melting, Hammering) where it clearly appears that Marc's bluesy pain melts as the springtime sun begins irradiating Berlin streets. Even if Drift doesn't stand as a revolution of techno scene, the vivid experience Marc offers throughout an immersive as well as stylish sound ' deep-rooted onto Detroit fertile ground but with its dry branches pointing to the contemporary cerebral techno coming from the heart of Germany'¦ - and the seasonal contextualization are going to whet the appetite of different kind of listeners, including those ones which still don't know Minus precious furrows on electronic music encyclopedia! If you don't want to drift off next winter, I warmly suggest to let Marc Houle's sound drift!

Atone: Live and Love Your Life

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 03 2010
Artist: Atone (@)
Title: Live and Love Your Life
Format: CD
Label: Sheebeen /Vitamin Records (@)
Rated: *****
As you press play, you could be grabbed by a sort of synaesthesia injected by the even-tempered chilled beats (if you enjoyed the soulful branch of electronic lounge and chill-out beats which were ubiquitous in the collection for modernist bars and clubs as they appeared on almost every selection issued after 2000, you will easily recognize some samples used by this Australian project) of Live & Love Your Life, the title-track of Atone's tribute release to Ali Bin Mohammed Omar Al Muscati, better known as Ali Omar (R.I.P., man'¦), one of the most respected and well-known producer in Sidney, who left a remarkable dental impression on the fast-growing Sidney club scene even after its recent decease due to its nonchalant musical mark and its witty personality, distinguished by a deep sense of humor and an acute attitude in music and life according to all musicians and common people which shared some moments when he was still alive. Both Ali and Andrew Fitzgerald (Atone's name at vital records office) come from Uk, but they got rooted in Sidney after they intuited the lively Australian capital was among the most fertile grounds of the planet for the birth of a renowned club music scene, so that Ali's studio, sweet-scented by burned straw (!), become a sort of lighthouse on that music scene and by listening this release you could perceive the airy breeze of the eventide, those dub/breaks tunes which slightly move the flames of the beacons on Sidney's seasides or adding that be-all recipe to the musical stylish food served in Sidney's clubs. I personally prefer those tracks when Andrew tacks nearby dubstep and reaggae coastlines as episodes such as the electronic muddy dubstep of Caffeine, the rocky Cold Sweat ' quite close to the funkin-up style of Salmonella Dub or Zion Train- , the Noran Re-mix of Look At The Stars ('international and sensational' by paraphrasing the whimsical Ali's words, partially evoking the stylish dub style pushed up by labels such Different Drummer some years ago'¦) or the delightful hip-hop haze of Free Yourself or the afro-tinged exotic gear circling in Let The Light Come In, but any listener will easily enjoy other juicy candies caromed in the list by Atone ranging from some sugary drops such as the above-mentioned title-track, the piano-toned Shine ' slake your tympanic thirst by Gina Mitchell's vocals as well'¦- or the exciting downtempo of I'm Back, You're Right to the gusts of melancholy in tracks like Lost You, from the catchy electro-pop step of Brown Rice to the emotional transmissions you'll find out in dazzling tracks like Paradise No2 . Ali will surely enjoy it hereafter!

Pip Williams: Resistance Is Futile

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Sep 28 2010
Artist: Pip Williams
Title: Resistance Is Futile
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Binalog Productions (@)
Distributor: Juno
Rated: *****
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE is the newest release by a Londoner guy called Pip Williams (his real name is Phil Ventre). On this EP released digitally by Binalog Productions, he delivers five new tracks in balance from old style electro, a bit of Detroit techno, Miami electro and spaced out atmospheres. Opening with the menacing self titled tune based on vocoder vocals, spacey synth sounds and syncopated electro rhythms, the EP follows with "Scanners" and "Ozone Layer", two upbeat electro tune in balance from old style electro and ambient atmospheres just to end with "Spiralled Out Of Control" and "Future Past", two tracks that thanks to their lush atmospheres make me think of Miami. Check this release at the Soundcloud Pip Williams' page and purchase it exclusively at Juno here

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