Music Reviews

Feb 19 2018
Artist: Cluster Lizard (@)
Title: Edge Of The Universe
Format: LP
Label: Le Cabanon Records (@)
Rated: *****
The first release of the newly made series Stand-alone by the small French label Le Cabanon (founded by Guillaume Malaret, Clovis 'Horla' Lemée, Pierre 'Bruma' Relaño and Pierre Torrell) got signed by two Ukrainian artists we constantly followed through their label Kvitnu. As many of you immediately guessed, I'm talking about Dmytro Fedorenko aka Kotra and Kateryna Zavoloka, who signs her releases by using her surname only. Compared to their solo issue, the sound of Cluster Lizard is slightly different: the harsh concreteness and the solidity of some of their solo outputs and the riverbed limestone where this harshness coexisted with steamy dark ambient clouds get sharpened by the apparent intent of this release, whose aim seems to be the attempt of propelling listener's mind towards the (other than metaphysical) edges of known or imaginable universe. I like to imagine that the abstract clip I saw the opening "Being Alive Isn't Everything", whose background seems to be taken by a simple cam pointing the journey in an obscure gallery through a window screen, mirrors both the dim light of its sonorities and the moment that sparkled the authors' sonic journey, as if the anguish of our terrestrial lives and the related search for escapism could be the gate to boundless explorations. Such an apparent contradiction seems to be the emotional framework, lingering as the shading of a burnt memory over the whole listening, where this vivid apparent contradiction could also explain the harmonic coexistence of really "terrestrial" (and clashing) entities and ethereal ones, where the first ones get often harmonised to the latter ones on tracks like "Fractal Core", "Afterlife Drift" or "Biomass of Beauty". Highly recommended sonic trip!

Sevensol & Bender: Das Ideale Geschenk

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 17 2018
Artist: Sevensol & Bender
Title: Das Ideale Geschenk
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
“Das Ideale Geschenk” is a three-pack of beautifully mellow, soft instrumental house, comprised relatively simply from lightweight rhythm patterns and long, warm, sunbleached chord pads. Dreamy chime sounds flitter over the top while the production deftly and subtly adjusts EQ’s and layers to keep things moving along.

After the supremely mellow journey of opening track “Mythen Center Korfu”, “Driftwood” adds some appropriately wooden-sounding extra percussion and a faintly harder-edged acid bassline into an arrangement that sounds more conventionally symphonic. “Rhythmus Tool” is, as the name suggests, a bonus 4-minute rhythm pattern DJ tool for running under structured beatless material as a DJ tool.

The most obvious criticism of the bundle is that it’s quite generic- there’s little in here to give proceedings any kind of distinctive character that will stand out from the crowd. But if you’re in the market for smooth, non-attention-grabbing super-dreamy house, check this out.

Aaron Spectre: Roots We Seek

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 14 2018
Artist: Aaron Spectre
Title: Roots We Seek
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Jahmoni Music
“Roots We Seek” is a joyous soundclash of an EP, broadly structured as jungle-meets-drum-and-bass but throwing in generous doses of reggae and rock guitars, Jamaican-style hip-hop vocals alongside smatterings of electronica squeaks and squirls, scratches and record stop sounds. Some of that’s not the regular fodder we’re most often sent at ChainDLK but you can’t help but get into the infectious energy factor that runs throughout.

The title track is the most poppy and radio-friendly, with the most feel-good and positive vibe of the set and a less kick-heavy jungle rhythm, even (less so) on the chorus. I’m not sure where the sample is from but it reminds me of some of LSK’s first couple of albums.

“They Don’t Know We” has a gritty attitude and fury-laden complex drum programming with a decidedly cathartic vibe, and “Three O’Clock Rock” takes things further in that direction with howling guitar feedback and an almost gabba-like mania that gets sharply contrasted by the steady reggae breakdowns. “Hey Natty Dreadlocks” takes the very familiar ‘under mi sensi’ vocal and wraps it on another frantic, siren-laden bit of d&b with serious urgency.

Exhibiting spectacular control over an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sonic arrangement, fans of acts like The Qemists or the more energetic offerings from other sonically open-minded acts like Dreadzone or Afro-Celt Sound System will love this, as will- yes I’m going to say it- the junglist massive.

Marlon Hoffstadt: Themes From My Future Self

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 10 2018
Artist: Marlon Hoffstadt
Title: Themes From My Future Self
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Midnight Themes
Hoffstadt’s second release on his own Midnight Themes label is a 3-track collection of straightforward, thoroughly polished synth instrumental prog house.

The organic hand drum patterns of “Der Merowinger” carry us through a very confident long intro build in which the pads and acid squeaks gradually unfold. Sonically this wouldn’t have sounded out of place on one of the classic Trance Europe Express compilations, but structurally it’s a more predictable and DJ-friendly affair ideal for patient dancefloors.

“Pure Awareness” is a similar arrangement but with a tighter layout, a simple acid bassline and strange Theremin-like lead melody that never quite repeats itself often enough to be catchy. Third and final track “Second Track” is another slightly brighter piece, with a slightly more US house flavour and some cheery claps blending with a bright repeating chord sequence pad that evolves subtly and not extensively.

It’s a solid rather than outstanding pack of three, short of unique selling points but well-made, smooth mid-set filler.

Wagz: Exile / Zodiac

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 21 2018
Artist: Wagz
Title: Exile / Zodiac
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: none60
Rated: *****
One of the well-respected lady of drum'n'bass, the legendary Dj Storm, quoted the name of this Sheffield producer as a next big thing in an interview in 2015. She foresaw (and listened) very well, as Dan Wagstaffe aka Wagz dropped a (not really high, to be honest) number of good tunes (I particularly recommend the elegant emotionality of his EP "Last Breath" on Santorin). He recently dropped a couple of tracks for the catalog of none60, by which Silent Dust's label confirms to be a little, but appreciated sanctuary of atmospheric bass-driven music. Wagz made a couple of tracks for the 24th ring in none60 chain: the first sonic sparkle of "Exile" is a triumphant synth-brass, soon followed by gusts of computational breezes and artificial hi-hats, that he keeps on saturate anytime he adds a sound till the moment (after one a little bit more than one minute) he ignites the clapped pattern, featuring amazing clutches at the end of the fourth beat. In spite of a relative shortage of sounds, Wagz makes a warming track, that could be good as a starter, and transfuse more or less the same feature into the following track "Zodiac" by shuffling elements and adding a quite hypnotic vocal sample, some amazing knocks over a wisely programmed drum pattern.

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