Music Reviews

Nobusawa: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 22 2019
Artist: Nobusawa
Title: s/t
Format: 12"
Label: Token (@)
Rated: *****
Most of the lovers of "exotic" techno scenes (out of the notorious circuits, like the ones of Berlin and Detroit) know the peculiarity of Japanese underground techno movement. Besides the techno-euphoria of producers like Ken Ishii - maybe the real first pusher of J-techno out of his boundaries - or the flirt with housey sonorities by Satoshii Tomie, many techno producers (unlike most of Berlin related ones) features an almost maniacal obsession for forging precise digitally cut sounds through mixing technique and Bitta boss and skilled promoter of Future Terror party Dj Nobe, one half of this forthcoming output on the Belgian imprint TOKEN, is one of the best knights riding this style. The other leg of this brand-new techno freak they named Nobusawa is Katsunori Sawa, co-founder of 10 Label and also a leg of Steven porter project with Yuji Kondo and BOKEH with Anthone. Ideally joining together the east and the west coasts of Japan (being Nobe from Chiba and Sawa from Kyoto), the release features four tracks (two collaborative ones and one by each half). I preferred to listen to the solo ones before that the collaborative tracks in order to appreciate the stylistic weigh of each forger: Sawa seems to opt for a limited set of elements that he melted over the length of the track on his "Call Scope" - a sort of squeak that pierce the engine, based on a fast but pretty flat kick and some distant percussive echoes, riding and flowing respectively on a slightly elasticized sub-bass lead sequence -, while Nobu prefers a softer way of kicking listener's mind along the 7 minutes of "Peppercorns" by means of homogeneous gills of muffled metallic hits, a sort of flanger filter that could surmise some industrial techno stuff by Riou Tomita and a kick that gradually gets less and less cushioned. The bicephalous tracks are the one that I prefer, and they are also the more aggressive: inspired by warehouse spaces, the opening track titled "Raspberry" is the darker one, blending together menacing computational gurgling, which they gradually vaporize in the first half of the track before turning them into blunt crystal clusters, while the closing "Decorative 17" fits to mad main rooms by a feast of FXs on percussive units (including a sort of "ghostified" clapping that could be really hallucinogenic in the dance hall) and a sort of acid babbling.

Kamran Sadeghi: Under The Peace Flag

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 20 2019
Artist: Kamran Sadeghi
Title: Under The Peace Flag
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: CL Series
Kamran Sadeghi’s “Under The Peace Flag” EP consists of a 12” of three original tracks, all falling broadly under the umbrella of deep techno but with a softness of touch that’s infused with calm and the titular peace. It’s bolstered by a second 12” with a pair of remixes that stay firmly in tone with the original tracks.

First track “Spiral” samples spoken word thoughts from artist Hanne Lippard’s installation “Flesh”, with the sonic qualities of the voice being projected into a hollow room underpinned by an entrancing beat that melds electronic clicks with more organic-sounding low drum and hand drum sounds in a manner that’s decidedly Underworld-esque, but softer. It’s not exactly maximal as it is yet the Sateq remix turns it into a much simpler and deeper journey, unusually losing the distinctive spoken word flavour in favour of spacious and sparse sci-fi atmospherics.

“Melting Point” is softer still, with more languid rhythmic patterns and what sounds like looping found sounds of everyday life, transposed and decontextualised so that they ‘melt’ into a track that’s quite loose, relaxed and bordering on formless. Steve O’Sullivan’s keeps the pressure eased off for a further ten minute bathe in light techno.

“Return To Tender” has more of a sense of urgency underneath it, a 132bpm twelve minute exercusion of tweaking filters, dubby delays and a simple yet effective sorrow chord.

It’s deeply pleasant beat work that, save for the vocals on the first track, has the potential to be a little bit backgrounded in your consciousness too easily, but it has top quality production.

Kiwi: You Want Her Too / Peeling Oranges

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 12 2019
Artist: Kiwi
Title: You Want Her Too / Peeling Oranges
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Paradise Palms
Alex “Kiwi” Warren’s first contribution to Paradise Palms’ 7” series somehow squeezes a couple of 12”-length DJ-friendly house tracks onto a smaller piece of vinyl.

“You Want Her Too” uses the classic sound and structure of Chicago House, complete with piano and husky repeated vocal refrain, but slowed down to 105bpm for a more sultry and jazzy groove.

At around 120bpm, “Peeling Oranges” is more upbeat, built around a slightly Moroder-ish rolling synth bass groove with a slightly quirky synth-flute melody dancing over the top, again in quite jazzy fashion. The long drop-out of the bass synth extends the mellowness, then plonks back in to satisfying effect.

It’s a nice warm pair of grooves that’s old-fashioned dance music, in a good way, and should do well at infusing a sense of foot-tapping peace and satisfaction on sophisticated dancefloors.

Paulor: Spaceship

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 07 2019
Artist: Paulor
Title: Spaceship
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Life And Death
Mexican artist Paulor’s first release on Life And Death is built from two steady floor-friendly house tracks that take the underlying vibe of late 70’s and early 80’s synthy-electro-disco, and gently fuse it with more contemporary-sounding techno and acid sounds.

The title track is instrumental save for the robot-effected “spaceship” phrase repeated at the start of most sections. “Planet Gold” is the more relaxed of the two, with a more gradual progressive outlook and some sparkly arpeggios.

After that there’s a generous helping of big-name remixes of the title track, all of which hit the mark with confidence. Vitalic’s remix tweaks some of the noises and elements, making it a clappier house affair, but keeps the underlying disco attitude very much the same. Fango’s ‘The Suppa Robot Dancer’ remix is a highlight, upping the old-school electro element by a high factor and reveling in breakdance territory, bringing the squelchy bass to the fore.

JD Twitch’s mix focuses on spacey synths, adding more complex percussion and an extra NASA sample and tweaking the core bass groove into something a bit more nasty, or at least sinister. Superpitcher’s remix has two versions, with ‘space trip’ reminiscent of old indulgent 90’s progressive house journeys, eleven minutes of gradual shifting and synth-immersion that studiously avoids any great sense of urgency before devolving into near-ambient territory at the end, and ‘space strip’ which, instead of the dub version you might be expecting, is more like a “part 2” that starts in the hollow synth ambiences that the version mix left us with, and explores them more indulgently, and perhaps less effectively, for a six minute bonus.

Don’t let the frankly bizarre choice of cover artwork put you off, this is a really solid pack of long journeying house tunes, with a nice variety of remixes that keeps things consistent but not too narrow. If you like your instrumental house very sci-fi and laidback, you’ll enjoy this pack a lot.

Jörg Piringer: Darkvoice

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 06 2019
Artist: Jörg Piringer
Title: Darkvoice
Format: CD + Download
Label: Transacoustic Research
Jörg Piringer (of The Vegetable Orchestra)’s “darkvoice” album is pitched as a dark commentary on modern communication surveillance and the act of obfuscating vocal sounds beyond the boundaries of comprehension- all quite sinister and sombre.

The audio that comes out of it, however, seems almost bright by comparison. Though it’s made entirely from digitally manipulated vocal sounds (and “sinister typography”, though I’m unclear what that means), it has a sonic palette that’s electronica bordering on dark slow techno. Steady and crisp rhythm patterns, sometimes industrial-ish but never particularly bass-heavy, are a structural skeleton for low hummed bass, thin higher-end melodic chords, and spontaneously squelchy and glitchy percussive impulses.

Tracks like “peed” and the broody “dig” make the vocal sourcing more self-evident, centring around single vocal sounds that are played with but still identifiable as human, while tracks like “p a” devolve the sound beyond that point of recognition.

It isn’t all happiness and light- tracks like “bbbbb” or the extra-glitchy “raacc” have a decidedly raw edge to them- but it’s offset by pieces like “el sys” which, with its meandering bouncy melody, recalls the fun side of early synthesizer experimentation. Final piece “hoit”, after a tense intro, is almost playful by the end.

Other highlights include the odd three-step of “d-singe”, and the almost dancefloor-friendly groove of “teew”.

Overall, conceptually angsty it might well be, but the reality of it is a dark but detailed foot-tapper from the interesting edges of experimental techno. It’s got a unique character that’s worth sampling.

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