Music Reviews

Stray Dogs: And The Days Begin To Walk

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 24 2017
Artist: Stray Dogs (@)
Title: And The Days Begin To Walk
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
I'm not sure if the source for this output on Kvitnu by Belgian duo Stray Dogs (consisting of Frederick Meulyzer on percussions and electronics and Koenraad Ecker, who use electronics together with a set of guitars and a cello) is the same they grabbed in an icy deconsecrated church, which was the base for their previous album "Wasteland" and the soundtrack for the same-named dance piece by the renowned Norwegian choreographer Ina Christel Johannesen, but it seems they forged it as an adaptation of tracks composed for similar purposes that got premiered at Goteborg Opera House, Sweden, where Canadian choreographer Stephan Laks manages the related dancing company. The six tracks they included in "And the days began to walk" actually manage to be evocative by itself without any deserved reference to its origin. The supposed references to ancient myths and its parallelism against present time of the first two tracks play an additional role in feeding imagination. The title of the opening track, "Phaeton" seems to refer to the son of Apollo, who temporarily stole the notorious sun chariot (his father's "car" to enlighten the day according to Greek believers) to show he was a famous scion and almost burnt Earth (according to the myth, Phaeton's stunt caused the desertification of Lybia), and such a mythological reference perfectly fits the massively punching and the rising scorching progression (close to some stuff by Mika Vainio, Kangding Ray or Plaster) of the track, well-defined as "an unabating stream of swirling polyrhythms, cracked gongs and growling low-end, reaching ever higher to its own delirious disintegration" by label's introduction. Similarly the solemn procession of thuds, sinister clashes and the whole eerily menacing atmosphere of the following track "Lethe", including some field recordings these guys grabbed in the northernmost reaches of Norway, could vaguely resemble one of the five rivers surrounding the underworld of Hades, whose water had the power to cause oblivion to the spirits who quenched their thirst by them. The following two tracks have no apparent relations to myths, but both the acid bleeps of "Tokoroa" and the amazing "Pluvier" feature a guessed combination of rising corroded sonorities and tribal percussions, which could get matched to imaginary tribal dances. While listening to "Beacons", a listener could imagine to be in some subterranean laboratory and finding some well-covered dangerous machine, whose destructive power keeps on stay hidden, unchaining on the thunderous mechanical pulsations and the ominous dub echoes of the final "Sour Vanilla".

30Drop: Unusual Extremes EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 14 2017
Artist: 30Drop
Title: Unusual Extremes EP
Format: 12"
Label: 30Drop Records (@)
Rated: *****
The mysterious Barcelona-based producer and DJ 30Drop, constantly hiding his face by a series of polaroids portraying the background of the places where he takes selfies, recently dropped this new technoid bomb using his self-named imprint. It includes just one track and a remix, recorded on a red vinyl if you prefers the physical media. The original track sounds like an hybrid of lengthy hypnotical stuff such as the earlier outputs by Surgeon or Peter Sutton and the declension of minimalism like the one by Robert Hood, as 30Drop lets cook electronic clips, everchanging electric buzzes and other resounding elastic electrons over a massively punching rhythmical pattern, which gets more and more hypnotical. The remix got signed by The Black Dog, a living legend of British acid techno scene, who raised the pressure of the track even further by emphasizing the more oppressive rhythmical elements and dipping them into a quiet storm of toxic draughts and muffled mechanical disturbances. 30Drop's aesthetic research, based on the cross-breeding of a revamped concept of Detroit Techno and the straight minimalism of contemporary German techno, seems to go swiftly well.

Precursor: Desire EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 14 2017
Artist: Precursor
Title: Desire EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Basserk Records (@)
Precursor- labelled as “Precursor (NL)” on some stores to avoid confusion with other Precursors- serves up a 4-pack of melodic techno.

“Kosmos” is the centrepiece, an eight-and-a-half minute gently progressive journey of stuttering synth chords and a rubbery bassline. But for the slightly broken rhythms, you could apply a ‘trance’ label to some of the elements here. The brief breakdown after five minutes, jumping with both feet into a widescreen crescendo, is done with a lot of gusto and polish. This is road trip EBM, mesmerising and with a broad scope.

The other tracks are shorter and accomplish a little less. “Norge” is little more than a rhythmic synth stab pattern, well suited to the age of DJ stems and multi-layering. “Desire” has a similar formula to “Kosmos”, slowly progging warm chords over a kickdrum-heavy breakbeat, still cinematic but without scaling to quite the same heights as the opener. “Still Here” is similar again, milder stabs and a more overt sense of suspense.

It’s a consistent formula that works well, serving up an enjoyable EP of complex rhythm programming and restrained, slowly adjusting synths that will fit very well into a variety of chin-stroking deep techno journeys.

Jeroen Search: Z

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 10 2017
Artist: Jeroen Search
Title: Z
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Figure SPC (@)
Rated: *****
Techno and technival lovers should know both the name of Dutch DJ and producer Jeroen Search (one of the aliases of Jeroen Schrijvershof, named after his imprint Search) and the one of Levent 'Len' Faki, his German/Turkish mentor on this occasion, well-known Berlin-based DJ and producer, artistically grew in Bergheim. The first opened and recently closed the series Figure SPC, titled by each single letter of the alphabet, a subsidiary project of the imprint of the latter, after having signed (and sometimes co-signed) other releases/letters. This one, as you can easily guess, is the last chapter of this supposedly special chain. Honestly speaking, I'm not a great fan of this kind of techno. Furthermore, I heard better-forged things, stylistically close to it, but besides features strictly related to its style (most of you know what they and I mean when referring to minimal techno), there are a couple of interesting details. The first one is technical, as Jeroen prefers to make techno tunes by using hardware instead of software programming and most of his live performances and recordings get built on sounds that get edited in one take and in real-time: that's a somehow risky choice that could let you appreciate his output more and fully justifies the fact you wouldn't find so many edited sounds. A comparison against another kind of software-driven or studio-made sounds is, therefore, inappopriate: it's like attempting a comparison between an elaborate meal coming out of the prodigy of some haut cuisine chef and a fast-food cold delivery, but some fast-foods can do more delicious chips than other, and it's what Jeroen does. The second aspect is more conceptual: there are many interesting references to Buddhist spiritual practices in the title of his tracks as well as in some aural clues (such as the recorded speech in "Uphekka", a word referring to the last stage of a spiritual speech to get ready to nirvana, close to the Western concept of ataraxia and apatheia), which got interlaced to other references to physical-mechanical concepts (a sort of distinguishing mark of many techno outputs). Regarding the listenable part of the release, the nicest tracks are the ones where some apparent influences to Kenny Larkin and Jeff Mills are evident, such as on "Compressive Strength", "Tensile Force", "Karuna" or the final "Mudita" (maybe the best one).

Boris Hauf: Clark

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 03 2017
Artist: Boris Hauf
Title: Clark
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Shameless (@)
This is a re-issue of a 6-track mini-album originally issued on Sijis in 2005, now remastered and reissued on Hauf’s own Shameless label. A jokey and tongue-in-cheek press release accompanies a seriously deep set of tracks that sound like minimal techno that’s been disassembled, then rebuilt in a slightly different order with half a dozen of the pieces missing. Many of the tracks are bookended, front back or both, by slightly industrial sonics and ambiences, but at the core of each track is a faint bassline and a drum pattern from which you could identify the original techno DNA long after it’s been charred, chopped and microwaved extensively.

A steady beat steps in on second track “Mind Tapes” that momentarily suggests we’re wandering into more mainstream house music territory, but don’t worry, everything is under control, carefully metered and always restrained. “Le Chien” is also on the sedate side, a chance to enjoy a softly resonant kick pattern for several minutes, and “Violet Moon” strips things back even further to mere tones and the suggestion of rhythm, before final track “Corona” returns to a kickdrum, now resembling a heartbeat, as the bed for white noises and glitches falling like digital rain, before a distantly apocalyptic finale of far-away explosions.

“Clark” is perhaps as far removed from techno as it’s possible to be whilst still being able to justify labelling it as techno, which I will, but this is an extremely deep, insular journey that benefits from focussed headphone listening. Releases like this have been appearing more frequently lately but for a 2005 release this was well ahead of the curve and its release is certainly justified.

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