Music Reviews

Eva 00: It's All About The Attitude

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 09 2019
Artist: Eva 00
Title: It's All About The Attitude
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Tropical Animals
Given the title, track names like “Panthers” and “I Don’t Care, I Don’t Care, I Don’t Care”, and the skeleton on the artwork, you might understandably assume that French producer Eva 00’s first EP for Tropical Animals is a bleak and gritty affair, infused with anger and rumbling tones- but in fact it’s nothing of the sort. Instead, it’s a 5-pack of bright and bouncy instrumental house tracks, full of light beats, cosy-sounding slow chords, and with a warm fuzzy and sometimes Balearic vibe.

Opening track “Panthers”, with its gentle The Beloved-esque patterns, running water effects and French conversation-sampling breakdown, is perhaps the simplest track on offer here, and the most open throwback to that pre-sellout Ibiza beach house sound.

Other tracks work out from a similar underlying tone but wander off in different directions. The slightly breakbeat kick of “VR Instrumental”, which brings the subbass very much to the fore, sounds more ‘now’, while “I Don’t Care, I Don’t Care, I Don’t Care” brings to mind the jazzier side of 90’s US house, with some treatments of the standalone vocal sample reminiscent of MK remixes.

“It’s All About The Attitude” is a deeper, and at times slightly muddy-sounding, house affair with a smooth approach, and final track “OK I’m A Thug, But A Thug Needs Love” is along pretty much the same lines but with a more positive EQ and more emphasis on a nicely moderated vocal sample that feels like it’s been borrowed heavily from hip-hop, but washed heavily before use.

It’s not strong on unique character or distinct memorable elements (again, despite the perhaps misleading title and artwork), but if you like your house chilled but not over-simplified, this is worth a listen.

Hüma Utku: Gnosis

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 05 2019
Artist: Hüma Utku
Title: Gnosis
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Karlrecords
After putting out releases under the alias R.A.N., Hüma Utku has now come forward with a full album in her own name. Sonically the approach is still the same, in principle- taking the sonic palette of techno and stretching it into darker environments, with thicker rumbling atmospherics and low drones. And that’s absolutely fine, because it works very well indeed.

For most of opener “Vulnerary” and the first part of “Black Water Red”, we get only low gutpunching bass noises and scratchy atmospherics. It’s only part-way through the second track that more elements begin to emerge and a broader techno-scope is revealed, with muted chanting samples and tribal percussion sounds.

There’s a ‘passing the baton’ feel where each track seems to take elements from the previous track and bring something new- the third track temporarily keeps the chanting elements and adds a more upbeat delay-driven rhythmic pulse, as though the first 20 minutes of this release are all an epic build-up to something- though no punch-through or big reveal ever arrives.

“All The Universe Conspires” brings with it vocal pads that up the emotive level. “A Gift From The Dark Ages” brings with it extremely slow bell-like sustained notes that are so slow in developing and transitioning that you find yourself skipping back through the track to check whether the melody really is changing or whether you’re going slightly mad- some slightly screechy EDM tweaks to bring things back in line at the end. Final track “All-one” almost entirely ditches the rhythm in favour of crisp impulsive muted bursts of white noise that feel like a natural deconstruction of the elements, as a conclusion of sorts.

It’s 41 minutes of thickly textured techno and deep dark electronica, frequently arhythmic and broody but not overtly sinister. It makes excellent use of a fairly minimal approach at times, resulting in something that’s captivating in its detail, and not built for casual or incidental listening. If you’re willing to don the headphones, dip the lights and close your eyes for 40 minutes though, it’s a deep sonic journey worth your full attention.

Nobusawa: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 22 2019
Artist: Nobusawa
Title: s/t
Format: 12"
Label: Token (@)
Rated: *****
Most of the lovers of "exotic" techno scenes (out of the notorious circuits, like the ones of Berlin and Detroit) know the peculiarity of Japanese underground techno movement. Besides the techno-euphoria of producers like Ken Ishii - maybe the real first pusher of J-techno out of his boundaries - or the flirt with housey sonorities by Satoshii Tomie, many techno producers (unlike most of Berlin related ones) features an almost maniacal obsession for forging precise digitally cut sounds through mixing technique and Bitta boss and skilled promoter of Future Terror party Dj Nobe, one half of this forthcoming output on the Belgian imprint TOKEN, is one of the best knights riding this style. The other leg of this brand-new techno freak they named Nobusawa is Katsunori Sawa, co-founder of 10 Label and also a leg of Steven porter project with Yuji Kondo and BOKEH with Anthone. Ideally joining together the east and the west coasts of Japan (being Nobe from Chiba and Sawa from Kyoto), the release features four tracks (two collaborative ones and one by each half). I preferred to listen to the solo ones before that the collaborative tracks in order to appreciate the stylistic weigh of each forger: Sawa seems to opt for a limited set of elements that he melted over the length of the track on his "Call Scope" - a sort of squeak that pierce the engine, based on a fast but pretty flat kick and some distant percussive echoes, riding and flowing respectively on a slightly elasticized sub-bass lead sequence -, while Nobu prefers a softer way of kicking listener's mind along the 7 minutes of "Peppercorns" by means of homogeneous gills of muffled metallic hits, a sort of flanger filter that could surmise some industrial techno stuff by Riou Tomita and a kick that gradually gets less and less cushioned. The bicephalous tracks are the one that I prefer, and they are also the more aggressive: inspired by warehouse spaces, the opening track titled "Raspberry" is the darker one, blending together menacing computational gurgling, which they gradually vaporize in the first half of the track before turning them into blunt crystal clusters, while the closing "Decorative 17" fits to mad main rooms by a feast of FXs on percussive units (including a sort of "ghostified" clapping that could be really hallucinogenic in the dance hall) and a sort of acid babbling.

Kamran Sadeghi: Under The Peace Flag

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 20 2019
Artist: Kamran Sadeghi
Title: Under The Peace Flag
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: CL Series
Kamran Sadeghi’s “Under The Peace Flag” EP consists of a 12” of three original tracks, all falling broadly under the umbrella of deep techno but with a softness of touch that’s infused with calm and the titular peace. It’s bolstered by a second 12” with a pair of remixes that stay firmly in tone with the original tracks.

First track “Spiral” samples spoken word thoughts from artist Hanne Lippard’s installation “Flesh”, with the sonic qualities of the voice being projected into a hollow room underpinned by an entrancing beat that melds electronic clicks with more organic-sounding low drum and hand drum sounds in a manner that’s decidedly Underworld-esque, but softer. It’s not exactly maximal as it is yet the Sateq remix turns it into a much simpler and deeper journey, unusually losing the distinctive spoken word flavour in favour of spacious and sparse sci-fi atmospherics.

“Melting Point” is softer still, with more languid rhythmic patterns and what sounds like looping found sounds of everyday life, transposed and decontextualised so that they ‘melt’ into a track that’s quite loose, relaxed and bordering on formless. Steve O’Sullivan’s keeps the pressure eased off for a further ten minute bathe in light techno.

“Return To Tender” has more of a sense of urgency underneath it, a 132bpm twelve minute exercusion of tweaking filters, dubby delays and a simple yet effective sorrow chord.

It’s deeply pleasant beat work that, save for the vocals on the first track, has the potential to be a little bit backgrounded in your consciousness too easily, but it has top quality production.

Kiwi: You Want Her Too / Peeling Oranges

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 12 2019
Artist: Kiwi
Title: You Want Her Too / Peeling Oranges
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Paradise Palms
Alex “Kiwi” Warren’s first contribution to Paradise Palms’ 7” series somehow squeezes a couple of 12”-length DJ-friendly house tracks onto a smaller piece of vinyl.

“You Want Her Too” uses the classic sound and structure of Chicago House, complete with piano and husky repeated vocal refrain, but slowed down to 105bpm for a more sultry and jazzy groove.

At around 120bpm, “Peeling Oranges” is more upbeat, built around a slightly Moroder-ish rolling synth bass groove with a slightly quirky synth-flute melody dancing over the top, again in quite jazzy fashion. The long drop-out of the bass synth extends the mellowness, then plonks back in to satisfying effect.

It’s a nice warm pair of grooves that’s old-fashioned dance music, in a good way, and should do well at infusing a sense of foot-tapping peace and satisfaction on sophisticated dancefloors.

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