Music Reviews

Hilde Marie Holsen: Lazuli

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Aug 15 2018
Artist: Hilde Marie Holsen
Title: Lazuli
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Hubro
There’s certainly a distinctive character to Hilde Marie Holsen’s work in taking her own experimental trumpet performances, layering and processing them, deftly and extensively, to derive all the electronica tones on this downtempo and atmospheric release from them. As such it’s a remarkable production accomplishment but also a very engaging listen- one of the more brooding and soulful bits of electronica soundscaping I’ve heard in quite a while.

There’s a deep and sultry tone to some of the trumpet work that makes it sound more like saxophone, particularly on opener “Orpiment”, reminiscent of Rachel Edmondson’s “I Am Calm”. Conceptually there’s a strong connection to painting, with the track titles being minerals that are used to colour paint, and second track “Eskolaite” has an almost-rhythm that feels faintly like brush-strokes. “Lapis” is more faithful to the trumpet as the featured soloist, mostly leaving it sounding pure over a luxuriant warm drone. Finally the ‘main event’, the title track which makes up almost half of the 34-minute running time, is a broad multi-sectioned and quite cinematic work opening with industrial clarion calls, bubbling noise, dramatically strained metallic tones and a real sense of it being the full works, before settling down into more open plains that allow the trumpet to regain focus once more.

It’s a rich and focused mini-album that oozes character, and a virtuoso bit of performance that doesn’t end up being too self-indulgent either. Definitely worth a listen in a calm space.
Aug 14 2018
Artist: A Place Both Wonderful And Strange
Title: The City Smells Like Cat Spit EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****

BUY from  HERE
Elegant and whimsical but dark and uncomfortable at times..."occult electronic" and "doom gaze" are perhaps the terms closest to being appropriate for the Brooklyn duo, A Place Both Wonderful And Strange.

After a successful East Coast/Midwest tour, the band releases their new digital-only EP, The City Smells Like Cat Spit on August 24. The EP features one original track, "Kristae" and 3 re-worked live & studio tracks, "W*tch (Mevius Tour Version)," "Stone (Version)," and "Hex And The City (Resonata Remix)."

"Kristae" is a deeply haunting cut that evokes the image of a ghost-guided dusty LP, perhaps something out of Moby's worst nightmare. The standout track for us is "W*tch (Mevius Tour Version)." Musically haunting in the backdrop but guided by the heavenly vocals of Laura. "Stone" starts off with a cinematic female spoken narration and then moves to a whimsically-nuanced, fluid and moving track that ends before you know it or want it to. "Hex And the City (Resonata Remix)" is a bit of a layered, complex version of the song showing the band's unique mix of electronica and trip-hop.

"Wonderful" and "Strange" they are indeed. But the band is much more than that. They are simply one of the most original, un-classifiable electronic bands out there right now. I can't wait to see what they come up with next. For now, The City Smells Like Cat Spit is a perfect blend of electronica, darkwave and post-punk and then some....

Gavin Guthrie: The Totality

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 31 2018
Artist: Gavin Guthrie
Title: The Totality
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Medical Records
Gavin Guthrie’s second album is a pack of ten DJ-friendly house tracks that gleefully play with acid, techno and synthwave elements in a manner that manages to feel both authentic and fun.

Opener “AciDDD-1” shows the enduring appeal of classic-sounding acid house, while “4 For Blood” also employs the acid squelches but with a more driving sawtooth-synth techno set-up that softens into a very-nearly-house-piano-led melodic second half. The title track has shades of Marshall Jefferson-style US house, to the extent where you keep expecting a deep American voice to cut in and start telling you how to move your body, before “Ectoplasmic Beats” has a more European early-pop-techno flavour to it.

In tracks like “Home Furnishings” there are some glitchy touches that expose the release as a modern production but for the most part it’s kept analogue and ‘real’, close enough to keep the purists happy for sure, an hour’s worth of tunes that inspire mentions of everyone from Adamski (the more underground stuff) to Richie Hawtin to Josh Wink. Some tracks stretch their wings a little further, such as the rumbling “The Impending” or more raw percussive-driven “Sound Mind In A Sound Body” which both have elements of 80’s industrial about them as well.

I’ve got a massive fondness for old underground club sounds- maybe just because I’m old- and that’s why I absolutely love this album. There are plenty of people plundering that era for sounds and ideas but it’s rare to hear it done with both the sincerity and the success of this collection.

Marlon Hoffstadt: Human Interpretations Part Two

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Jul 30 2018
Artist: Marlon Hoffstadt
Title: Human Interpretations Part Two
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Midnight Themes
After describing Hoffstadt’s album “Themes From My Future Self” was ‘short of unique selling points but well-made, smooth mid-set filler’, then the first remix package from it as ‘not one of the most diverse remix packages you’ve ever heard, for sure, but it rolls nicely’, I could fairly expect more of the same from the second remix bundle- and sure enough, there’s no surprises lurking here. But there is 26 minutes’ worth of steady, nicely-produced reworks of instrumental synth-house that happily take you on a steady walk, though not a passionate dance.

You get two versions of “Second Track”, with Eric Maltz’s version a nice combination of light bouncy bassline and jazzy echoing keys, and M Ruffing’s version works a similar mood but with some lightweight drum & bass-ish action.

Between that you get two versions of “Der Merowinger”. The mix by Matteo Luis & DCHM is my favourite of the pack, a combination of energetic rhythm patterns, some decidedly 90’s percussive elements and a well-managed slow evolution of elements in a conventional but entrancing fashion. The Pepe's Electro-Break-A-Rama remix has even more of a retro vibe with its perky Amen break and faintly junglist production touches.

Putting the remix origins aside it’s a nice collection of four light melodic instrumental house tracks, very DJ- and Summer-friendly. Overall, it probably edges it over the first package in terms of appeal, especially if you’re fond of the unabashed old school references in the “Der Merowinger” mixes.

VV.AA.: Perfect Strangers Vol. 1

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Jul 27 2018
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Perfect Strangers Vol. 1
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Disco Halal
The grouping concept behind Disco Halal’s 4-track various artists EP is decidedly vague. Have these artists met? Was there a concerted effort for a uniform release here? Is that the point? It’s hard to tell. On face value it looks like a sampler, showcasing four different artists who’ve all contributed long steady instrumental house and electronica tracks with DJ friendly construction and progressive house tendencies.

Opener “Reflection” from The Organism is a strong number with a slightly synthwavey melody over a very steady foot-moving groove. It partners well with the final track, Mount Kismet’s “Prunes & Dunes”, another rolling synthfest. Both of them are instrumentals with faintly Eastern-sounding melodic patterns that are pleasant, bordering on sweet.

The more overt Eastern music sampled on the Kincaid track has, I’m sure, been sampled elsewhere, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on where I’ve heard it before, to no avail so far. It’s the core port of what’s otherwise a very straightforward tribal house workout, nicely measured but a little uninspired. Soft Metal’s “Mystic Trip To Al-Dzazir” is along similar lines, again built around an Eastern music sample, but with a brighter, poppier bassline and a more feel-good approach that’s somehow more endearing- particularly in the decidedly retro synth breakdown.

A nice package with a pretty consistent flavour, this material won’t blow you away with either power or originality but it’s got a tempered quality to it that’s hard to fault.

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