Music Reviews

The Japanese Popstars: We Just Are

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 15 2010
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Artist: The Japanese Popstars
Title: We Just Are
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Gung-Ho! (@)
Distributor: Alive/Modulor
Rated: *****
If you were thinking about a collective project between Puffy Ami Yjmi, Ayumi Hamasaki, Do As Infinity and Day After Tomorrow joined together by an undetermined humanitarian spirit after reading the name of this amazing project, you're making a terrible mistake as these Japanese Popstars are neither almond-eyed (but English-speaking... more or less like the real J-pops!) nor MTV-obsessively-broadcasted, but these Irish (coming from the rainy Derry) folks have already won a certain fame and recognition among electronic house djs and disco buffs and well even if they've nothing to share with Puffy AmiYumi, their obsession for madcap and madding 8-to-16-bitted sounds whose treatment and retreatment could be counted among ordinary household chores should be another common trait to young Japanese lifestyle! Hotpress introduced them as a sort of unexplainable mass phenomenon ("Never has an Irish Dance Act created so much hysteria from press and industry alike!"), but surely this nice lads, signed by the same label, Gung-Ho Recordings, which recently launched some creamy releases by Gus Gus and Zoo Brasil, has showed that that (al)chemical way of treating beats, bleeps and grooves invented by people such as Chemical Brothers or Orbital is miraculously effective against usual discrepancies between critics and audience as well as against motor function laziness indeed!

You'll probably argue that titles such as Face Melt could be just an ultra-concrete way for depicting the effect of distorted brass sounds (or alternatively the reaction of a cowardly patient suffering from an annoying tooth-ache after perceiving the noise of a dental drill getting closer and closer... ) craving into an infectious electro-house. And maybe you'll criticize the abuse of such a gummy bumpy beats (such as those bone breakin in Total Distorted Mayhem or Dr.Frenchy Bernard... who's that boy? Hope's not the wrestler!!!), 8bit tips & tricks and Nintendo-maniac pulses (Delboys Revenge), joystick's maneuvered art (it's just their 11th great "tune" Fisb if you believe your neighbor is dropping a bomb through a modified and potentially lethal version of its Atari!!), acid overtones, (The Madness, B.C.T.T.) , clappy lushing (Rise Of Ulysses), that trashy but hilarious make-up featuring some silly house tunes (..or should it be just a J-pop mirroring? ... have a listen to the hilarious the vocal edit of the finalizer of We Just Are... I'd like to comment some tracks with a smiley, but, well, it's not so professional!), but you couldn't say they've not studied the lesson on "how to make a danceable groove" especially when some tracks will literally cause movements in the same way you'll be move if remote-controlled throughout a voodoo-doll featuring your face and you'll easily explain such an hysteric reaction, which let The Japanese Popstars corner in a plenty of awards and nominations in Ireland and in UK! Sometimes I had the impression that the tracks on the first disc are just genetically modifications of the ones included Exclusive Bonus Mix (Eat This!, Sky Channel Flicker and Rebirth-ey clappy whispering TJP mix of Rob Hawk & Mysoul's "So Shockin" should not be missed... really amazing stuff!!!) , but it's easy to realize that this collection of head-bangers (a well-stuffed arsenal which is going to be more dangerous than a North Korean long-ray nuclear nuke in the bag of a dj!) has a real destructive power

. ... but, no shit Sherlock, folks, believe me!!! Their sound is so emphatic you'll easily decide you don't have to loose you time in learned disquisitions in order to dance !!!


 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 14 2010
Title: Allah Hoo
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Vermin Street
Rated: *****
Ex Paranoid Zen collective member Boston native Rob Vector has been exploring the electronica worldly sounds for quite awhile. Long time producer with Blues Guitar to his current explorations of the Tibetan Throat-Singing, Rob has a strong resume of assisting the organization of chill rooms and psychedelic vortexes in loft parties and larger events in New England and beyond. ALLAH HOO is his first release on Vermin Street and it contains the original version of the tune plus on the virtual B-side of the digital single a remix by DJ Melee. "Allah Hoo" is a mid tempo track which mix electronic sounds, Indian percussions and vocal samples. It sound like of a worldly version of old Prodigy. Known for being involved into Boston's Red Bull Music Academy Regional Rep and for his local label Monism (which features releases from the likes of Kid Blue, Simply Jeff, and Si Begg), Dj Melee took the Indian chants and melodies of the original tunes and added an upbeat techno bass line, a 4/4 beat and mysterious sounding filtered piano inserts. Nice one...


 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 12 2010
Title: Skreamer
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Basserk (@)
Rated: *****
Recently we listened to some new Petr Passive tracks on the latest Vermin Street digital releases but Basserk, the first label that issued his music, is now releasing the second Petr Passive album and we can check more new songs. Available as digital download SKREAMER contains eight great tracks where Petr Passive confirms himself master of the 8-bit sounds and digital distortion. Packed with energy and fun SKREAMER has no fill ins and convince immediately about its value. Catchy tunes, bouncing syncopated rhythms, bleeps, distorted fat bass sounds make of this album a perfect one to dance with as well as a great home listening. The key elements are the same of the first album "Fat Sauce": electro, grime, dub and a bit of techno. Don't miss it! Available at the usual digital stores and at Basserk's webstore.

Minus 8 : Slow Motion

 Posted by Royce Icon   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 11 2010
Artist: Minus 8 (@)
Title: Slow Motion
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Compost Records (@)
Rated: *****
For all intents and purposes "Slow Motion" by Minus 8 is a kind of jazz record, a new take on Lounge Jazz with elements of house, trip-hop, pop and other genres thrown in (including a reggae song!). There are a few different vocalists featured on this record, with some instrumental tracks thrown in as well.

The most featured vocalist here is Virág Keszthelyi, who is really great on each track, as she displays a very nice amount of range and diversity. The other vocalists are quite good as well, especially Rachel Montana. I prefer the vocal tracks here to the instrumental ones because while they make be immaculately produced, they just fall a bit flat and fade into the background without the vocals to keep the listener's attention.

All of the tracks here are good, but he highlights to me would be "Close Your Eyes", "Juy" and "Everyone's Gotta Learn Sometime".

All in all I think that "Slow Motion" is a nice record that should appeal to fans of trip-hop, chill out, smooth jazz and dramatic electro-pop music in general. If that is your cup of tea, check it out.

Alphatronic: Sonic Landscapes

 Posted by Royce Icon   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 11 2010
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Artist: Alphatronic (@)
Title: Sonic Landscapes
Format: CD
Label: Everest Records (@)
Rated: *****
"Sonic Landscapes" is a record from Swiss IDM project Alphatronic. There are a lot of very nice textures explored here, and I think that "Sonic Landscapes" is indeed a very apt title for the audio contained within.

There are many different styles explored here, but the general theme is lush analogue bleeps and pads accompanied by nice mid tempo beats and lots and lots of atmosphere. There is a definite emphasis on texture and experimentation via the various synth sounds, but there is also a sense of melody and rhythm that gives the tracks a balance of sorts.

It is most certainly complex ear candy, but it also does not betray your ears or your body. A true IDM record, you can simultaneously shake your head and scratch your beard to this stuff.

Every track on "Sonic Landscapes" is quite good, so it's hard to pick favorites. Standouts for me include "Lhuntse", "Trongsa" and "Autsho".
But they are all really good. If you dig acts like Richard Devine, Aphex Twin or Autechre, you will definitely like Alphatronic.

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