Music Reviews

Whitesquare: In Light

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 27 2018
Artist: Whitesquare
Title: In Light
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Tropical Animals
The team behind Italian club nights Tropical Animals have branched out into their own record label, with this 3-track deep house package from fellow countryman Whitesquare as its debut.

“Limitation” chugs on nicely, a gradually unfolding set of soft beats, plenty of high-end synth pads and arpeggios and a squelchy, classic-sounding acid bass note. The simplicity of it cuts deep, it’s uneventful smooth and pleasant.

“Velvet Room” is a bit brighter, with some meandering synth keys that feel improvised over the top, giving a slightly jazzy touch that replaces the acid. A slightly thicker deep house groove rolls calmly underneath.

“Pressing Points” has a slightly more pulsing synth groove to it, and a catchy and melodic bassline that is the package’s most ‘pop’ moment, but even with that and some soft tribal-like percussive hits don’t raise the energy level too high.

It’s a really smooth, effortless 3-tracker of gentle beats perfect for relaxed sunny days. It lacks the unique selling point or novelty that would propel it any great distance, but if you’re looking for deep house that’s mellow and warm, put this on your radar.

Colossio: Moto

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 26 2018
Artist: Colossio
Title: Moto
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Calypso Records
Fernando Luna here uses his established alias Colossio to put out a pack of 4 tracks (3 on the vinyl) and 2 remixes (one of them digital-only) that have a stylish and fresh take on rolling house grooves, keeping the tempo firmly measured but with smart doses of attitude and invention that keep thing really interesting.

“Moto” has a straight, arguably ordinary house groove but some subtly muted rock guitar chord snippets and the sound of revving motorbike that has been twisted and filtered to become both a riser and a form of melody in its own right are a really nice touch. The Man Power remix is a really strong reworking, levering in just a hint of glam rock groove to the rhythm pattern and making the top end effects harsher and more expressive, while the Jonathan Kusuma remix brightens it up, putting more emphasis on the melodic parts and vocal pads and making it quite breezy with some happy clapping.

The other tracks are along similar lines but arguably a little less distinctive. “Fe” has a slightly more road-movie atmosphere, deep and pensive, though the odd duck-like vocal percussive noise is not like any road movie I remember- and the sinister (Mexican?) voices in the breakdown are seriously dark. “Ansia” makes strong use of a bit of sinister-sounding psychedelic guitar noodling, with a nice build to gunfire-snares that rolls well. “Paranoia”, the digital exclusive, is a touch more overtly synthwave in its sounds, again with just a hint of rock power pushing the beat.

There’s a lovely, walking-beat flavour to this 41-minute pack that’s gentle and quite endearing.

SixTurnsNine: Spinning Numbers

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 25 2018
Artist: SixTurnsNine
Title: Spinning Numbers
Format: CD EP
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
SixTurnsNine is Philip Akot (strings); Lutz Bauer (keys/programming/electronics); and Anja Trodler (vocals) formed in 2015 in Dusseldorf. The genre is trip hop/electronica with an experimental edge. I believe the 'Spinning Numbers' EP is their debut release with only six tracks (and one of them a remix of one other track) clocking in at a little less than a half-hour. The musical ambiance of 'Spinning Numbers' is minimal and stark. Even though Portishead sometimes delivered some fairly stark trip hop, this is way more extreme than anything they ever did. The music is eerie almost to the point of being creepy. Trodler's voice, while melodic is cold with a touch of caterwaul to it. Mournful. Nothing moves quickly in SixTurnsNine's world. It's a slow, almost oozing sort of sludge that just flows over you suffocating any kind of joy or good feeling you might have had previously. While everything on 'Spinning Numbers' is haunting (or haunted), "Threat in the Neck" is particularly unnerving, perhaps because it's just so close to the edge of normal, with a beat to boot. It even gets a remix by Spherical Disrupted, which is kind of puts a completely different spin on it. I think this is the kind of music Jarboe would really like; it's just so twisted I have to recommend it.

Sascha Funke: Acatenango

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 21 2018
Artist: Sascha Funke
Title: Acatenango
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: You And Your Hippie Friends
This is a three-pack of measured-tempo instrumental house from established producer Sascha Funke (stalwart of BPitch Control, sometimes on Kompakt). It’s got a leisurely and soft approach, simple pure-sounding bass notes rolling gently and effortlessly over crisp lightweight beats. The melody lines are a little bit retro and synthwave, but pleasant and light.

Despite being called “Aggravate”, the opening track is more likely to soothe- steady one-note bass under sparse, quite jazzy synth melodies and stepping, panning percussive patterns. Title track “Acatenango” showcases a quirky rising flute melody that will be quite divisive, some people enjoying the novelty, other people finding its weirdness a little too arch and not quite pleasant enough. “Surumu” has a more driving attitude, driven by squeaky staccato synth sounds with a refreshing degree of bounce and an oddball ‘ahhh’ melody line, and ends up being my favourite track of the bunch as a result.

The quirkier aspects of it might prove to be either its unique selling point or a turn-off depending on the audience, but this is a hypnotic and elegant pack of deep house tunes with some twists.

Cleveland: Tusk / Aku

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 11 2018
Artist: Cleveland
Title: Tusk / Aku
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: ESP Institute
Calling this an ‘EP’ is a misnomer- it’s two conventional soft instrumental house tracks, both clocking in just under seven minutes, with gentle, slightly broken beats and soft organic percussive sounds running under gentle jazzy keys, sweet plinky noises and skittish little sci-fi sounds. The two tracks have most of their elements in common, with “Aku” having a marginally greater sense of urgency in its groove, but barely so.

Sweet, faintly quirky but a little bit nothing-y, it’s a slick but quite forgettable bit of tempered mid-set mellowness.

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