Music Reviews

Greenvision: Rambutan

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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May 13 2018
Artist: Greenvision
Title: Rambutan
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: ESP Institute
Minimal in some ways but not in others, the three tracks on “Rambutan” are built on understated house grooves with more than a slight late 80’s flavour, but layered up quite thickly with abstract sounds, ethnic tones and ebbing and flowing effects into pieces that have real character and a relaxed, fairly playful attitude.

Lead track “Banana Paradiso” is the most feel-good, with bright chords and plinky noises, though it’s not as cheesy as the title makes it sound. But it’s B2 “The Color Of Maracuja” that’s probably my favourite of the three, with extra use of jazzy slightly Rhodes-style chords playing rolling over the most determined-sounding of the three grooves, the only one with a notable hint of edge.

All three are perfect for gentle afternoon beach dancing, mellow and toe-tapping- it’s a leisurely, Summery 12” with broad appeal.

Basic Biology: Twilight / Sensational

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 10 2018
Artist: Basic Biology
Title: Twilight / Sensational
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Free Love Digi (@)
Rated: *****
Artists orbiting around the digital label Free Love Digi by the wit and inventive producer Quentin Hiatus keep on pushing interesting outputs by shuffling the cards of its deck of styles. Basic Biology is one of the outputs of this musical/genetic melange, coming out by the crossbreed of two different drum'n'bass producers, who met through their common friend Ghast. On one side, we find Thomas Brinson aka Thomas B, whose atmospheric style, driven by masterfully-built pattern, often goes darker, even if the sonorities that he explores on Basic Biology are closer to the more placid ones he exposed on Sugar and Spice EP (maybe the first or one of the first release on FLD), while on the mother side there's the brilliant multi-instrumentalist Matthew Cassidy, whose sonorities are generally brighter than the one of his counterpart. Just two halftime-dnb tracks on this output: "Twilight" (featuring the sweetly sour voice by Megan McKey) could perfectly fit a pensive chilling or romance in the eventide on the beach, while "Sensational" (vocalised by Matthew Cassidy itself...even if some younger lads could think Alvin or some other chipmunk is on the mic!) is a nice see-saw between chilling Balearic downtempo and sudden acidulous stings.

C.A.R.: Pinned Up

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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May 09 2018
Artist: C.A.R.
Title: Pinned Up
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ransom Note Records
After describing Chloé Raunet’s second C.A.R. album “Pinned” as “a blend of supremely confident post-punk swagger with electronica twiddles, steady-walking house beats and just a dash of synthwave”, Ransom Note Records have followed it up three months later with a 7-track remix collection giving some of the most prominent songs on the album over 50 minutes’ worth of reworkings into deep house and the softer sides of techno, that largely keep the song structures intact and adopt a very classic and always welcome classic extended house mix layout.

Generally I’d say that some remix albums work and others don’t- but this definitely has to go into the former, “it works” category. Raunet’s gentle, slightly husky and not-trying-too-hard vocal work really suits some long deep electronica workouts, and despite the repetition- over twenty minutes of this release is remixes of “This City”- you can listen to it from beginning to end as a coherent house album. It’s one of those that’s perfect for while-you’re-working, or for long drives, but has individual tracks that are properly DJ friendly and will fit well in the middle of relatively leisurely sets.

There are two distinct sections- the first four tracks are generally fairly consistent and uniform house numbers. Michael Mayer’s take on “This City” is a perfect fusion of pop and house piano with steady motorway-friendly progressive house beats and opens the collection on a definite high. Marcus Wargull’s take on “Cholera” is in a similar vein but with somewhat less energy, before Bawrut’s take on “Daughters” adopts a slightly muddier synth bassline and a slightly more tribal flavour in line with the more chanted-rather-than-sung song content.

Jonny Rock’s nine-minute remodel of “Strange Ways” is quite rumbly as well, drifting towards a more synthwave-y sound that allows the vocal to shine through more than others do, and the restrained, held-back use of the bell-like three-note melody has a good impact; DJ’s beware on the last minute of this mix though, which is sparse and acapella when you might be expecting beat-match-friendly beats.

The second part, the final 3 tracks, mixes things up a bit and adds the variety needed to keep you engaged. Timothy Clerkin’s take on “This City” is another highlight, channeling some classic breakbeat samples, acid squelches and rave stabs into something bright and energetic that manages to rework some nostalgic sounds without wandering into cheesy territory, although it’s the one track where you do find yourself wishing more of the vocal could’ve been worked in in less buried, vocoded ways.

Lokier’s version of “Cholera” has a more industrial, attitude-laden groove that’s closer to the sound of the unremixed album, before Man Power’s version of (again) “This City” ends on a high with a bright, lightweight bit of synthpoppy production with synth guitar stabs that takes things into almost Goldfrapp-y territory.

Whilst the original album certainly wasn’t bad, given the choice I’d rather listen to this remix album, especially when looking for something that isn’t demanding my full attention. There’s not a single duff or flat remix in here, which is rare, so full marks for this one.

Begin: Love International Recordings 001

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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May 06 2018
Artist: Begin
Title: Love International Recordings 001
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Love International Recordings
The first EP released on Croatia-based Love International Recordings is intended as an expression of the flavours of the Love International Festival, from which the label has been born. So across four five-minute-long mellow mostly-instrumental balearic house tracks, Begin offers up an advert for what feels like a very relaxed, sun-drenched environment, where the gentle slightly Spanish-sounding guitar on “Wood Trees” and the happy sampled melodic chanting of “Day Pulse” meander over gentle, super-soft rhythms and steady organic bass playing.

The beatless, house-piano laden “Garden Interlude” is an excellent DJ tool before the definite highlight “Into The Fun”, which is an absolutely infectious, slightly Quincy Jones-ish vibe with Rhodes keys and shades of reggae that can’t help but make you feel good.

James Holdroyd (Begin) has a very broad musical CV spanning techno and time as the Chemical Brothers’ tour DJ, but this is a very focussed and specific release that channels a specific type of Ibiza-esque mellowness with respect and precision.

The new label says it will be offering a diverse range of styles on future releases, but in the meantime, stocking up on Balearic? Check this out.
Artist: Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois
Title: Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois
Format: 12" vinyl + CD
Label: Timesig / Planet Mu
Neither Venetian Snares nor Daniel Lanois should need any introduction, and this first full (albeit short) album collaboration is exactly what you might think the sum of its parts would form. Bringing Lanois’ atmospheres and slow reverberant guitar work alongside Aaron Funk’s hard-and-fast unpredictable rhythms, frequency leaps and sample twisting creates something that manages to be both lush and raw at the same time.

Longest track “United P92” is a highlight- a deep and mesmerising affair with a melodic, Eno-like ambient environment seemingly confining and subduing the glitch-laden beats, which gradually begin to grow in confidence and control in a way that technically ought to be described as aggressive yet manages to actually sound genuinely bright and enthusiastic- might Mr. Snares be mellowing with age?- before proceedings get sparser, with sounds imitating distant explosions and the sense that the sonic honeymoon may be over.

Shorter pieces like “Bernard Revisit P81” sometimes have something of a sparser, old-school electronic experimental flavour, all random synth notes, sinister sci-fi pads and harsh hit noises. I might dare to suggest that “Best P54”, with its hardcore acid elements and deeply melancholic guitar atmos, sounds like two tracks from radically different artists that just happen to be playing at the same time, and yet despite that, it still manages to sound brilliant.

People who know exactly what to expect here will be far from disappointed. It’s a powerful and effective collaboration that brings out the best of both worlds.

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