Music Reviews

Cristian Vogel: Classics Remastered 1993-1998

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 09 2017
Artist: Cristian Vogel (@)
Title: Classics Remastered 1993-1998
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
The very first seconds of the very first track ("Machine") from the very first vinyl album ("Beginning To Understand" released by Mille Plateaux in 1994, following some releases on cassettes and the sudden landing on Tresor planet - he was the first and maybe the only UK producer to get welcomed in that legendary German techno community) by Brighton-based Chilean producer Cristian Vogel starts by that piercing Doppler sound, widely used as a starter in some tracks of that period (I could mention Bourbonese Qualk's "Traffic"), before the mid-techno engine of the track and its vaguely dystopian melody begun to flow. Filling the first part (four tracks) of this vast collection of remastered tracks, taken from the album mentioned above, has been a wise choice, as you can listen how original was Cris' sound in a period, when it was tough to state which producer and music maker used to be the "influencer" and which one was the "receiver". The chronological order of the track will give you an idea on the way how it evolved: a remarkable space has been granted to tracks taken from "Absolute Time", Vogel's debut album on Tresor (7 of the 8 original tracks have been remastered for this occasion), and attentive ears will notice how both the unusual combination of more danceable tunes and a considerably heightened touch of industrial sonorities sound could be easily played on contemporary techno clubs in a moment when (luckily) trance booster shots get gradually replaced by more "Detroitesque" and industrial ones. You could have the same impression of the studio-driven transplant of other tracks, mostly covering Vogel's evolution over the nineties: four tracks and a remix of "(Don't) Take More)" by Jamie Lidell extracted from the contaminated body of "All Music Has Come To An End" (1996, Tresor), two tracks from its follow-up "Body Mapping" (1996, Tresor), two from the abstract ambient-like album "Specific Momentific" (1996, Mille Plateaux), an impressive remastered version of "General Arrepientase" (1999, Tresor), the piercing sneaking distortions of "Sarcastically Tempered Powers" (1999, Loaded Records) and the experimental techno smashing of "Information:Power:Revolution" (1995, Force Inc.). This projection of Vogel's classics in the age of augmented "realities" is a wildly successful sonic surgery operation. Check it out.
Artist: Scheerling, Thaumaturgist (@)
Title: Vertoeven LVI / Mysteries Van De Droom
Format: Tape
Label: Oggy Records (@)
Rated: *****
Let's dig deeper in sonic world's underbelly that is often so 'under' that some of you could think weird things related to them (occultists, aliens, mad psychiatrists making experiments, ghosts or whatever omitted to get credited as producers...). Fans of the darkest side of drone-driven music and gloomy ambient will be maybe delighted by the listening of "Vertoeven LVI" on side A of this split tape release, filled by Dutch sound artist Bert van Beek aka Scheerling with four acousmatic drones (lasting five minutes each) - mostly driven by effected scorched guitars, but also featuring whisper-like sounds, whooshing noises that got often used by tape art and metallic hits -. The abrasive first track "Schemmer" sets the ground for the hypnotical "Guurn", where some of the above-listed aural entities have been immersed into a dilated reverberation, which makes them feel like coming from some parallel dimension. The third movement "De Danne" - my favourite one - is a combination of tricks of the first two ones, as both slightly scorched guitars and reverb-puffed bubbles got joined, and precedes the final "Tehoape", which sounds like a cathartic reprise of the initial "Schemmer". I read somewhere it got inspired by the translation of some poetry of Dennis Gaens, but it's a detail that doesn't help me in explaining nuances I didn't catch due to the fact I didn't find anything in English or other languages I understand, so that I can only say it's an entirely recommendable listening. Likewise absorbing the sound that Thaumaturgist spread over two 10-mins lasting tracks on "Mysteries Van De Droom": this guy used some briquettes and pellets of acid-house and Berlin techno to develop a seemingly lo-fi sound (more sedated and uplifted on this first part, slightly morbid and psychotic on the second one, landing on those fractured bleeps you can hear when some old Korg drum machine is close to tilting), that could vaguely surmise some industrial techno experiments of the late 80ies.

Cybereign: Dangerous Mind

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 21 2017
Artist: Cybereign
Title: Dangerous Mind
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Battery Park Studio (@)
From the sound to the name to the artwork, Cybereign’s “Dangerous Mind” is old-school electro through-and-through- a clipped programmed breakbeat, catchy stabbed bassline, thoroughly digital synthwave pads and a deep spoken word faintly Bambaataa-ish slow and sinister vocal. All the ingredients are present and correct in such a way that it’s practically a walking cliché, but at the same time it’s got a confident sense of minimalism and space about it that means it still works. It’s lacking a major hook or unique selling point to really get your attention, but retro electro fans won’t skip this one.

All five of the remixes are stylistically pretty close to the original, so much so that as a listening EP, you do wish there had been a remixer or two willing to spread their wings a little further. The Nessbeth mix pares things down, with a fun rubbery bassline and liberal use of delay.

The Dez Williams remix uses many of the stems practically unchanged, with only a more abrupt and staccato bassline and rhythm to distinguish itself, while the Coherer remix pulls in the other direction and makes things a bit brighter, heading (slightly) in a more funky, party-electro direction.

TechControl steps up the Kraftwerk-y groove. N-Ter’s version- probably the best of the mixes- is still pretty faithful, with a bit more urgency, more gating and more acid squelch, and is most notable for the reprocessed (possibly even re-recorded) vocal.

A fun bit of old school electro, but a broader and more ambitious remix package would have helped.
Mar 10 2017
Artist: X-Navi:Et (@)
Title: Technosis
Format: CD
Label: Instant Classic (@)
Rated: *****
Despite the fact the phenomenon is still evolving, the theme of consequences of technology on humanity and the (also biological) mutations related to this unprecedented technological acceleration as well as the development of an addiction to technological devices is not so new as a plenty of sociologists, anthropologists, psychologist and many other expertises in different branches of human knowledge wrote a lot about this subject, but the way by which such a fear got translated into sound in this last output by Polish producer Rafal Iwanski (I already introduced many projects he's taking part of such as HATI, Innercity Ensemble and Alameda 5) is fascinating. The title "Technosis" itself is a quotation of the definition ("civilization disease related to technology"), taken from "Philosophy of Civilization", an essay by Polish philosopher and educator Jozef Marian Banka, who keeps on studying this phenomenon. The opening track "Matnia" (Polish word for the French expression "cul de sac", referring to a path of no return) immediately sets the mood by a well-balanced mix of rising crippling percussions and thrilling sounds (close to the ones you could hear in horror movies when the watcher expect the appearance of a dangerous entity from some dark place of the scene); the breath you'd hear in the following "Ex Homo Sap" seems to render the above mentioned human mutation with the burden of concern that it could imply, while the following "Oto Technosis" sounds like the summoning digitalization of some old African tune. The whispered murmuring of Ewa Binczyk in the sinister mist evoked by the sonorities that Rafal assembled in "Medium" could mirror that diaphragmatic phase when the expected changes are still in progress but could let you guess what the next stages are going to bring about. Rafal wisely absorbs different ethnical influences in this unusual rendering technology-driven civilization disease: besides the previously sketched connection of the described tracks, it becomes clear in the following "In Extremis" as well as in the disquieting chimes of "Orient: Melancholia". All ethnic percussions you could recognize in his melting pot (an Irish bodhran, a South African mbira, a Chinese hulusi, an Egyptian zummara and a Moroccan bendir) are real, but the whole release is made by real entities: a relevant feature of Rafal's sound in "Technosis" is the total lack of field recordings, synths, samples or drum machines (besides the list of ethnic instrument I already mentioned, he just used Shanti chimes, bells, metal objects, contact mics, analog filter machine, a tone generator, a loop system and so on ) and such an aspect can be logically related to the conceptual framework of the album. The natural soundscape in "Pseudo Ambient" could be considered as another claims of forgotten human roots, while the final "Alchemy of Sounds", whose length (23 minutes and 23 seconds seems to be a desired aspect, due to the "esoteric" meaning of number 23), could keep on feeding the in-depth meditation a listener could be absorbed by. Do you remember the "fearful symmetry" of William Blake's tiger? Well, "Technosis" could be the roaring of that tiger in a sense. After its genetical mutation, of course...

Andrea Natale: Time To Go Back

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 09 2017
Artist: Andrea Natale
Title: Time To Go Back
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Basserk Records (@)
“Time To Go Back” is 4 tracks of heavy-footed, steady techno, all taking acid riffs, simple kick-and-hihat drums and plenty of slowly twiddled effects and producing something with simplicity and drive.

The title track has a supremely dark but brief dark electro breakdown before looping back into a spoken-word “time to go back” vocal sample that has hints of the 90’s about it, but with 2017-level subbass.

“Ouch” employs that classic heart rate monitor beep for tension above a flangey, busy synth line and a strangely infectious tempo-stepping bassline. A rave-era vocal scream is used sparingly to good effect.

“Unexpected Places” is a simpler and weaker affair, a constant sequenced synth loop squealing over a more lightweight rhythm, brightened a little by some percussive sonic frills and a vocal snippet which you’ll be unsurprised to hear says “unexpected places”.

By contrast, final track “Vault” is much thicker, a throbbing and pulsing kick and an alarm-like bell sound kicking in with immediacy and not relenting for six minutes. Muted synth stabs wander in and out in this tightly-focussed track.

This is no-nonsense stuff that’s as dark as the artwork suggests, with an appealingly heavy thump.

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