Music Reviews

Sal Solaris: Thresholds

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Sep 04 2016
Artist: Sal Solaris (@)
Title: Thresholds
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
Sal Solaris is the Russian electronic duo of Konstantin Mezer and Ivan Napreenko working in the post-industrial field since late 1990s. Starting its experiments with static sound exploration of unearthly landscapes, the project has embellished upon its distinctive 'modus operandi'. Now it merges powerful noisy ambient with dark techno patterns. 'Thresholds' is the first Sal Solaris solo album in 15 years marked by a variety of collaborations, splits, and minor releases.

To be perfectly honest, when I first heard 'Thresholds' I absolutely hated it. I thought it was a mess with no clear direction or purpose, regardless of the hype/explanation put out by the label and/or artist. Since then though I've reevaluated this work, and figured I must have been in a bad mood ot something, because 'Thresholds' is far from a mess and surely has something to reward the patient listener. I haven't heard anything previously by this outfit so I can't compare this to anything else they ever did, but what you will find here is rampant diversity. 'Thresholds' consists of nine tracks with no two sounding the same. "Cryptosystem" begins by sounding tinkertoy techno but morphs into a noisy beatfest that picks up steam and distortion crescendoing into an industrial flatline at the end. "Limit Value" is an eerie post industrial landscape with beats. Somehow a subtle musical theme develops making this quite an austere, dystopian cinematic piece. "Polygyny Model" is a mechanical fantasia that goes through a variety of permutations before its reductive conclusion. "Displaced" begins with a few minutes of low drone tone, eventually interrupted with some squinky electronics before it goes raving gonzo techno. "Error (Eigen's Paradox)" is a noisy cacophony of twisted sounds with an industrial technoish bent. I could hear this piece being used in Lynch film where something really weird happens. (And just when isn't something weird happening in a David Lynch movie?)

"Dark Adaptation" is the first track with vocals, done by Lusia Kazaryan. It's a medium tempo thing with squiggly electronics and the melody she sings is kind of folkish, but the music is rather gothy. Russian for sure, and the processing on the voice gives it a spooky aura. Although the title of the next track is "Pain," it is not nearly as painful as you might expect; in fact, after it gets into its groove, it comes across as a mixture of tribal and latter-day Tangerine Dream. "From Now to the New De Sitter Space" (YXYWYXY Remix) is pure, beatless post-industrial soundscape. No real surprises here but good atmosphere. Finally concluding with "Tautology" ((Myrrman Remix), an over-the-top techno number that pulls no punches, Sal Solaris proves they are more than capable of delivering the goods on a multitude of levels.

This album may be less likely to appeal to traditional technophiles than those with a taste for experimental dark electronics, but there is ample meat on the bone for those who appreciate a heady musical stew.

Serph: Plus Ultra

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 04 2016
Artist: Serph (@)
Title: Plus Ultra
Format: CD
Label: Noble (@)
Rated: *****
Waiting for the already announced commissioned output for the planetarium program "Planet of Dolphins", Tokyo-based artist Serph sprung out by his first "best of", a collection of more or less modified variations of previously released track and two brand new ones. Some remakes just features a massive addiction of overpitched and frenzy bounced stepping on rhythmical patterns or a reshuffle of mostly rearranged elements belonging to original versions, but the cheerful style, by which Serph got prominently notorious, combining piano phrasing, synth winds, electronic jazz phrasing, a brightly merry dada approach, chiptunes and wisely engineered textures, that reprise the praiseworthy work of many Japanese sound artists, who got acclaimed as music innovators for an almost scientific approach to pattern and sound processing (I could mention amazing people like Cornelius, Nobukazu Takemura, Takagi Masakatsu, Sketch Show - the project by Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi - and so on), keeps on being recognizable and as funny as his previous outputs. If you know previous releases by this inventive composer, you would maybe ask yourself if such a 'best of', whose best moments are Toytronic Version of "Vitt", Pilgrim Version of "Soul For Toys", Cinematic Version of "Pen On Stapler" and the graceful new track "Airplane" - the other new track "Memories" sounds like getting closer to that branch of vocal dnb-oriented UK sonorities, which could be avoided - was really necessary, as you could perceive not so many new ideas, but his music keeps on titillating eardrums by means of easily enjoyable and brilliantly cheeky overlapping of textures and grooves.

Galtier: Myth Codes

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Aug 11 2016
Artist: Galtier
Title: Myth Codes
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Kudos Records
The "Myth Codes" EP is a sparse exercise in blending post-dubstep-ish economical beats and sub-bass with tribal hits and surprisingly twee high-end flutey melodies. It's a consistent formula throughout the three tracks and two remixes, and it works well.

"Chain" is a strong demo of filters and control, and deserves its place as the lead track. "Gold Bones" brings a slightly more dancehall rhythm into play, and is the most club-friendly of the set- my booty doesn't shake much but I could feel it wobbling to this. Third track "Charm Complex" has an attention-seeking staggered groove to it that stands up to analysis but never elevates it beyond B-side level.

Both of the remixes take things into slightly more conventional 4/4 territory but without being extensive re-thinks. The Lydes remix of "Chain" brings the ethereal flute-ish sound even more to the fore, while the Luke West mix of "Gold Bones" gives it a slightly more conventional techno shape, but neither of them stray far from their parents.

This is a consistent if slightly unremarkable package of sub-bass and sine-wave melodies.

Imaginary Forces: Visitation

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 06 2016
Artist: Imaginary Forces (@)
Title: Visitation
Format: 12"
Label: Fang Bomb (@)
Rated: *****
Even if the genre has reached a level of saturation, there are still many impressive outputs in the highly contaminated basins of minimal techno, such as this nice one by Imaginary Forces, the brainchild of London-based Anthony J Hart, who isn't certainly a newcomer due to some notoriety he particularly gained in the underground scene of the British capital city by means of some good releases where he mainly threw drum 'n' bass, jungle or techno sonorities on the barbed wires of power electronics and noise. This record on Swedish label Fang Bomb could get tagged as minimal due to the fact he melts together not so many sounds and noises in each single track, but he did it by following many different strategies where the main glue of these elements got based on a series of subtly stunning and slowly thundering bass pulsations. They could be considered as appropriately thundering in the opening track "Preternatural," whose sound seems to render one of those epic scenes, where listeners could imagine like on the edge of a storm, fed by mysteriously destructive (imaginary) forces. Likewise roaring clangs ignite the hypnotical swirling, the dark trotting and the menacingly sneaking distorted brass of "Enlightenment", while these Imaginary Forces get closer to the abstract alien techno I heard by some artists on Sounds Never Seen, Rephlex and Plasmek on "Visitation" (the looped electrical strains over what could be to matched to the disquieting cries by an alien hymenopterans on this track are simply amazing) and to the deranged overclocking on some "old" experimental techno outputs by Electric Light, Rechenzentrum or Column One on the final (A Drift), whose crosses between convulsive ticking, ligneous and prettily numbing hits and alien frequencies perfectly fits to the lyrical content of the spoken words by Closed Circuits.

Snitch: Skalen EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Aug 06 2016
Artist: Snitch
Title: Skalen EP
Format: 12"
Label: Wavereform
Berlin-based Snitch uses hardware only to generate his "sensible techno music". Don't let the hipster chillout yellow artwork fool you, this is deep impenetrable beat territory.

"Skalen" is a syncopated single-minded thumper, with subtle hollow sweeps the only respite to the relentless short-patterned industrial-strength kicks.

Second track "Kromag" is very slightly lighter on its feet, but still in the same tribal, low-end format. The Laiva remix is a subtle reworking rather than an overhaul, bringing in some extra bleeps to heighten the tension and working out a more measured sonic build-up, and in doing so making itself the highlight track of the release.

This release might not be oozing variety or originality but as a 12" helping of thick kicks and sinister atmospheres, it's got attitude by the bucketload.

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