Music Reviews



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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

She's Drunk: Subclubsciously

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 17 2018
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Artist: She's Drunk
Title: Subclubsciously
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Through My Speakers
She’s Drunk (a man) have offered up here a very club-friendly 12” mixing the sounds and structures of minimal techno with African-style rhythms and catchy percussive patterns that are just great fun to dance to.

“Visions” has hints of Major Lazer about its sampled chant hits, but like all these tracks, they all run at a much faster BPM than the moombahton or dubbier sounds that they might otherwise have been compared to. South African artist Sho Madjozi’s part-Tsonga part-English rap on “Amadoda” has hints of M.I.A. and plenty of attitude, a potential pop crossover hint and it’s a surprise it was relegated to second place on this release.

“Dancing Doubts” pares things back and lets the pounding rhythm do the work with just occasional vocals shouts and cuts to keep things interesting. Final track “Heart Burns” is something a little different, with a pop-music-like arrangement formed out of tiny pieces of a female soul vocal laid over an oddly frenetic and sub-bass-heavy rhythm.

To my ears this is a properly unique release that pulls from several genres to create something truly distinctive that’s also exceptionally listenable and as colourful as its artwork. All that’s missing is that one catchy hook or that one crucial radio play that would catapult She’s Drunk well into the mainstream where it belongs.


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