Music Reviews

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.

Qual: Cupio Dissolvi

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 01 2017
Artist: Qual
Title: Cupio Dissolvi
Format: 12"
Label: Avant! Records (@)
This solo EP from the bassist of Lebanon Hanover is a wilfully and sincerely retro, aggressive industrial techno, mixing sonics that feel derived from the harder side of 1990’s German techno with a more gothic and 1980’s twist in the vocals. Raw, angry relentless energy has been fed into the synths, which pound away over thumping kicks, while two-note melodies and lyrics about digging your own grave flow miserably over the top.

The first two tracks are in the vicinity of 118bpm, the final track steps it up to 135bpm-ish and makes the synths squeal and distort a little more furiously and the formula seems to work better like that.

With wannabe-controversial lyrics, suicidal Latin title, black-and-white promo images, and only the very slightest hint of modern production around the edges, it’s such a familiar collection of elements that you start to wonder if it’s a loving parody. Nevertheless it’s still a very decent collection of three throbbing techno tracks that have somehow cycled round in time.

Pris: Love, Labour, Loss

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 31 2017
Artist: Pris
Title: Love, Labour, Loss
Format: 12"
Label: Avian (@)
Rated: *****
It's the anxiety ray talking or pervading the tracks of the second ring in the chain by British Berlin-based producer Jake Woodhouse aka Pris. Following 'This Heavy Heart', its 4-track landing on Avian, the imprint by Shifted, alter-ego of Guy Alexander Brewer (mostly known to drum'n'bass lovers as a leg of the notorious project Commix together with George 'Endian' Levings and Conrad 'JJ' Whittle), 'Love, Labour, Loss' could be considered its sequel under Pris' own admission. Both of these releases seems to have been inspired by the sometimes painful process of growth, accelerated by the relocation to a foreign country, but I would also argue that the self-evident anxiety as mentioned earlier soaking Pris' sound is an irrational but sometimes logically consistent emotional response to the days we mostly experience. Anxiety sounds like gurgling in between the mechanical stress by which he pack the flailing and ghostly entities of the opening "Ad Infinitum", matching to the controversial ridgeline of technology as a tool of liberation and enslavement at the same time while listening both the excerpt and the extended versions of "Divinity"; it (I mean anxiety) almost becomes a subdermal electrical pulse leading to mystical experience in the ambient track "Crux", wraps the sonic wheezing in the suffocating electronic haze of "Sunk" and awakens the dormant instinctive side in the evoking industrial-veined techno hitting of "Feral Calling". Pris' masterfully assembled textures manage to counterbalance this overflowing of anxiety at least!

Sote: 10inch04

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 27 2017
Artist: Sote (@)
Title: 10inch04
Format: 10"
Label: REPITCH Recordings
Rated: *****
A sympathy for hardcore and gabber sonorities and maybe of the so-called pink elephants by Iranian producer Ata Ebtekar aka Sote was evident since some tracks and playlist he posted and played here and there. As in recent days, we're surprisingly witnessing a reprise of supposedly dead sonorities within techno scene; this outputs including a couple of long-lasting hyper-frenzy tracks, dating back the first of the second half of the nineties when the phenomenon of gabber-fuelled or hardcore-jungle rave parties was still booming. The most surprising aspect of both tracks is its quality, higher than the average one of the outputs orbiting around those sonorities. Sote compressed heavily distorted buzzes, thumping claps, amphetaminic pumping, rattling electronic bleeps and unusual insertion of breathtaking pad-synths in the 10 minutes of the massively punching hardcore techno "Neuroenhancer" (built in 1995), whose expanding decay and entropy correctly flows in "In Music I Trust" (a collaborative track he assembled with San Francisco-based DJ and producer in 1997), a bombing tune in between hardcore-jungle and so-called jump-up drum N bass that becomes more and more elastic and corroded (a spaced-out Prodigy-like yell and the abrasive distortion by which these guys filtered a piano string are really bizarre choices) after a somehow disorienting chilling incipit. Nicely dissonant meditation on conventional sonic fuel for old ravers.

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