Music Reviews

m1nk: m1nk = em one en kay

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 14 2019
Artist: m1nk (@)
Title: m1nk = em one en kay
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Seja Records (@)
Rated: *****
Man, it's been a really long time since I've heard any good, new trip hop music, and while m1nk's debut album (the title of which is to get you to pronounce their name correctly, instead of calling them "mink") isn't exactly classic trip hop, it's still downtempo and noirish enough to be genre receptive, and remind you of the best things such as Portishead, Massive Attack, Anne Clark, Bowery Electric and the like. Erika Bach's voice slithers snake-like coiling in the darker recesses of your brain while Barry Snaith's instrumental Pandora's box unleashes all manner of strange in a soundscape you can't escape. There are times Erika's voice is just so Beth Gibbons, but her lost soul persona wanders in terrain far darker than Gibbons' milieu. One of the tracks on the album is titled "Psycho Erotic," (third track, actually) but that could be applied to the music on this album in general. Most of the music (instrumental portion) is more atmosphere than any traditionally defined music form, but that's what makes it work so well. You might be able to dance to some of it in a hipster, Audrey Horne, Twin Peaks roadhouse sort of way, but it's more conducive to an opioid stupor (not that I'm promoting that sort of thing; neither are they I imagine) than any potentially strenuous activity. Erika Bach (aka Lola Demo) is from Ithaca (Greece, not New York) and Barry Snaith is from Wakefield, UK, but they sound like they could be from anywhere...Soho NYC, Berlin, Paris, Slovenia, wherever, that has a passion for the underground. As slow as this stuff moves (and it is very downtempo and sloooowww) the ten tracks over 47 minutes go so fast you'll wonder where the time went. It is rare that a debut album is so deviously, perfectly delicious that it shoots to the top of my chart like a carnival high-striker, but 'm1nk = em one en kay' is such an animal.

UPDATE: When I originally posted this review I though the format was CD & download (likely because what they sent me was a CD, but it's actually Limited edition (300) VINYL (12") and download, with a bonus CD added with a vinyl purchase. This is sort of better in my estimation because vinyl definitely trumps CD, but you get the CD anyway. You just can't loose, and since this is as good as it is, I wouldn't expect stock to last very long.

Calculon, Dave Owen, Jaybee and Neve: Comfort Zone / Leads

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 07 2019
Artist: Calculon, Dave Owen, Jaybee and Neve
Title: Comfort Zone / Leads
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: none60 (@)
Rated: *****
By the corner of a living room, as Silent Dust (Andy Hobbs and Daniel Blishen), the folks behind the label none60 sadly (but proudly) describe their place, you can keep on transmit some good tunes throughout the known (and sometimes unknown) channels. This short and intense release saw many hands and many sound heads working on a couple of excellent tracks, sliding over the stylistic path tracked by label's previous releases (a sort of futuristic upgrade of bass driven music by means of smart grasps of old school jungle and dub seeds) into remarkably more energetic soup. The first one "Comfort Zone" - signed by respected Indianapolis-born drum'n'bass producer and DJ Dave Owen, the skilled phat beat forger Nikolai 'Calculon' Bordokoff and Tampa-based D'N'B dj Jaybee (featuring many impressive collaborative releases) - has many of the previously mentioned recipes such the tricky reaggae-dub ignition, a pad-driven bitonal melody reminding 90ies garage, a vocal sample grabbed by old jungle sound banks (but often used by gabber and rave techno makers of the first 90ies) and many stylistical clues in a bombastic rhythmical engine. A similar sonic strategy got followed by Calculon and Jaybee juggling together with Neve on "Leads", the second track, where they add impressive rhythmical stunts by sudden accelerations and decelerations to the pattern. Test it on dancefloors... or on the corners of your living room!

Fred Und Luna: Im Tanzrausch

 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 22 2019
Artist: Fred Und Luna
Title: Im Tanzrausch
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Compost Records
Acting as a sort of companion piece or footnote to their full-length album “Im Tiefenrausch”, “Im Tanzrausch”, from the still relatively new but profilic mysterious figures of Fred und Luna, is a dancefloor-friendly pack of 4 deep house tunes (“elektrakraut/krautelecktro” if you go by the press release) with an optimistic and bright synth top layers that make them very likeable.

The undoubted highlight is “Compostonikum”, which foregrounds some laidback chanting over warm chords and a bunch of lower rubbery squelches in the bass area, into a result that’s genuinely entrancing. “People Mambo” adopts a similar approach with similar-ish vocal samples but a more laidback attitude and that’s truly effective as well.

Opener “Der Elektrolektor” is a purposeful and driven bit of light electro-house with some nice percussive touches, but without a hook to really set it alight. Third track “Es Ist Heiß” is the weak spot, a somewhat cheeser-sounding affair with a spoken-word German vocal that ends up sounding faintly Yello-ish but a touch on the corny side, lacking the thoughtfulness of the tracks around it.

Leisurely toe-tapping stuff with a definite broad appeal.

Hvmble: Textures 2/4

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 21 2019
Artist: Hvmble
Title: Textures 2/4
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
The second part of Hvmble’s “Textures” series evolves slightly from the first pack, with two six-minute-ish instrumental synth-house grooves that are just a little bit harder and more resolute than on the first, but it’s not a major shift.

“Deadvlei” starts off with an intent-laden kick over which slightly teethy synth patterns gradually fade in then wander about, curving around fairly undramatically, while “Danxia” is a mellower affair with a hint of the Balearic about it, watery sound effects and silky synths tapping away over a light clapping groove, following a very similar pattern to its predecessor.

Gentle walking-and-working music or afternoon mid-set fodder, it’s a simple pairing that’s endearing and relatively simple and honest.

Did Virgo: Rise & Shine EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 07 2019
Artist: Did Virgo
Title: Rise & Shine EP
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: La Dame Noir Records
Did Virgo has been DJ’ing in Marseille since the first night of the city’s first techno club, and further afield of course, for decades, and been involved in music production since the early noughties, but this is only his second EP release under that name, with the first five years ago- so it’s a bit of a rarity.

This is steady, generally 110bpm-120bpm house music with a supreme steadiness and a confident lack of drama. Synth bass steps reliably and unambitiously over simple 4/4 drum patterns, and a variety of synth details higher up to give texture. Opener “Show Me”, with its two-word vocal mantra, sets out this template very accurately. The lengthier spoken word work on “Glass Wool Acts” is strangely Yello-ish, while “Rise & Shine” has a more guitar-driven aspect to it that slightly recalls Rinôçérôse or perhaps a more American-ish EDM flavour.

“Kiss Me, Kill You” has a female vocal that’s English language but very French in pronunciation and stereotypical delivery, languid, soft and vowel-driven. It’s the closest intersection to pop, especially when the quite synthwave-ish arpeggios arrive. It’s the only track to get a remix, from Max Pask, whose re-take on it is rather straightforward- changing the sounds, making things sound a little brighter and poppier, but essentially it’s a remix that doesn’t venture very far from its parent track.

It’s a decent, steady, and DJ-friendly EP that will keep you relaxed but moving, without really rocking your world.

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