Music Reviews

Eyes Of Others: I See You In The Shrubs

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
 Edit (10545)
Jul 06 2018
Artist: Eyes Of Others
Title: I See You In The Shrubs
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Paradise Palms
‘Edinburgh enigma’ Eyes Of Others’ track “I See You In The Shrubs” gets the classic original-and-two-remixes bundle release here.

The original is an unconventional, slow (circa 92bpm) super-soft house track with whispered vocal comments, extremely subtle kick patterns and a soft distant-sounding bassline that, towards the end, gets cut through like a knife by the arrival of some surprisingly harsh and dissonant top melodies which then evaporate into near-ambient atmospherics and birdsong.

The legend that is Andrew Weatherall starts his remix with an unusually conventional-sounding live drum pattern that gives things a more naturalistic flavour that turns almost reggae-soft-rock thanks to the more emphasised bassline. Things take an enjoyable turn for the weird in the dancefloor-unfriendly breakdowns, which go unpredictably jazzy and use the “I see you in the shrubs” vocal whispers and birdsong to the fore, returning to the stability of the drum patterns as the anchor. It doesn’t sound like it’s been an excessive or over-baked labour of love, but it definitely brings the fun out.

The Donald Dust mix does the same job but in a more regular way, keeping quite faithful with fewer surprises, driven on by a steady synth bassline that’s a bit more ordinary but bringing a little character back through some nice use of reverb effects.

The original’s quirky and you can’t go wrong with an Andrew Weatherall remix (even if it’s not perhaps his most inspired remix ever). A little more variety in the remix package might have been welcome but if you’re in the market for some 95bpm house that’s more than a little bit unusual, this may appeal.

VV.AA.: Electro Bass Development (phase II)

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 02 2018
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Electro Bass Development (phase II)
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Subsonic Device
Rated: *****
OK, first of all, I’m late reviewing this one but luckily quality doesn’t expire and on „Electro Bass Development (phase II)“, we have the presence of classic names that helped to define the electro bass genre as a plus. I'm talking about names of the likes of Debonaire (Italian dj relocated in Miami and active already in the 80s), Bass Junkie and Dynamix II (which were already active in the 90s) or Darxid (who came soon after), plus names which are in activity since ten years or so already, like DJ Xed, Dark Vektor, John Robie. The youngest one is the project of a Spanish guy called Roberto Rey who started Negocius Man in 2013 or so. The compilation has been issued by Subsonic Device, Darxid’s label, on double vinyl and it’s still available for you to purchase, but only in this format. No digital files to purchase or download. We have eight tracks/projects as Dynamix II and John Robie are teaming up for „They’re Coming“. If you are already a fan of the genre, for sure you are owning at least some releases by most of them. Probably the surprise of the lot is Otto Von Schirach, because I reviewed his 2004 album „Global Speaker Fisting“ and it wasn’t sounding electro at all, if I remember well. Maybe the last one I had the occasion to check ten years ago titled „Oozing Bass Spasms“, had some electro influences, but in this case, „Bass Low (Down Pitch Out Mix)“, mixes synth stabs and am 80s electro hip hop approach with digital distorted bass lines. The effect is sounding like nice a mutant electro funk tune. Tracks like Bass Junckie’s „Galactic Combat“, DJ Xed’s „Spectral Subspace (Subsonic Mix)“, Dark Vektor’s „No More (Sóc Un Frik Sóc Un Tècnic)“ or Dynamix II vs. John Robie’s „They're Coming“ are sure sounding true to the classic sound of the genre. Darxid with „Hungry“ mix powerful bass and vocals distorted lines with syncopated beats creating a song that sounds fresh and it’s able to stick to your memory immediately. Debonaire’s „Electro Novocaine (Injectable Beats)“ sounds cinematic, menacing and powerful. As approach it seems that Claudio Barrella is remixing himself and this created a nice effect. Good compilation which grows with the listenings. You can check some tracks on YouTube.

Jamaica Suk: Clockwise

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 01 2018
Artist: Jamaica Suk
Title: Clockwise
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Establishment Records
A name like Jamaica might still conjure up accidental cliché connotations of sun-kissed reggae, but this four-track EP is the polar opposite. Suk has left her jazz and metal influences behind and, clearly influenced by her new home Berlin, has produced some very pure thumping dark techno. Low sub kicks, twisting and reshaping hihats, rumbles and effects abound.

The title track plays the clockwork-regular 4/4 beat against some more varispeed elements, pitch-shifting effects and a counterpoint-rhythm driving synth note. “Two Moons” brings breakbeat patterning to the kicks and more distortion to the growling frequencies which plays nicely against a simple, endearingly idle synth melodic pattern, while “Vision” keeps it 4/4 again with a similar set-up but a slightly increased sense of urgency and alarm in the higher registers.

The Pulse One remix of the title track is quite a shift- against breakbeaty, with a much brighter-sounding arrangement centred on higher-pitched kicks with some claps, it’s brave enough to take the original stems into a different style at a time when too many techno remixes of techno originals sound nearly identical to the originals.

A short EP of solid pumping techno with some dark twists, not destined to be your set’s peak but definitely worth adding to the mix to bring some fresh-sounding textures.

Bawrut: 4x4 (Remixes)

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 29 2018
Artist: Bawrut
Title: 4x4 (Remixes)
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Ransom Note Records
I praised the “4x4” EP as a solid pack of melodic, positive techno tracks with a nice sense of fun back in April, so I welcomed a six-pack of remixes. This pack doesn’t disappoint- neither does it particularly amaze either, but that’s not really the point of this dependable 43-minute pack of DJ friendly laidback positive house.

Lauer’s remix of “I Feel Voices” respects the core vocal ooohs of the original and gives us something bright and feel-good. The legendary Jimpster is always dependable for a remix and his take on “More Cowbell” is again quite faithful, slightly more pulse-driven and dancefloor friendly, with engaging twisty speedchanging FX on the breakdown that add extra character.

Sano’s version of “Ghettoscar” features some nice just-off beatwork that at first sounds like it’s tripping over itself but ends up complimenting the tribal samples and slightly more complex groove rather nicely, before Lossy’s take on the EP’s original opener “Three Sounds” takes the original’s bordering-on-novelty bleepy riff and puts it into a fitting electro context with an exceptionally synthwave-y breakdown in a way that’s light and likeable.

Timothy Clerkin’s take on “I Feel Voices” is the most radical departure, departing the dancefloor in favour of atmospheric slow drumless synthwave with shades of Jean-Michel Jarre about it, anachronistic in this context but in its own way really rather good. Marlon Hoffstadt’s version of “More Cowbell” is appropriately named the ‘aloe vera’ mix as it’s a soothing balm and inoffensively mild house rework with no sting- and it has to be said, not very much cowbell either, but never mind.

A high-quality if not particularly diverse remix pack warranted from a strong original EP.

Marlon Hoffstadt: Human Interpretations Part One

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 28 2018
Artist: Marlon Hoffstadt
Title: Human Interpretations Part One
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Midnight Themes
Hoffstadt’s “Themes From My Future Self” was released in January and I called it “short of unique selling points but well-made, smooth mid-set filler”, but now Hofstadt has roped in six of his friends to do remix work on his productions to, you might think, broaden the scope beyond steady, sparse, arguably somewhat flat instrumental house grooves. But it would seem that these friends of Hofstadt’s are friends due to their very similar taste in music, because the breadth you find on some remix EP’s is not being injected here.

Johannes Albert’s and Bawrut’s mixes of “The Power Of Now” both keep things firmly in downtempo techno territory, with slow builds, soft kicks and gently repeating percussion patterns oozing familiarity. The Bawrut mix opens up rather more with a sudden twist of jungle SFX and some riser drama, giving it a bit more of an edge. Opal Sunn’s take on “Chemical Romance” has shades of acid in its built that play nicely against the jazzy smoothness of the soft breakdown.

The second half of the pack is made up of three mixes of “Cycling Since 94”, but surprisingly this is where the most diversity ends up being found. The Gramcy remix is an urgent-sounding bit of proto-techno with a distinctly 90’s flavour, in a good way, while Shun’s remix brings the brighter more melodic elements to the fore. Leaf Troup’s eleven-minute version winds us back to the steadier house rhythms of the first half, but with an appealing vaguely funky bassline that keeps you attracted.

It’s not one of the most diverse remix packages you’ve ever heard, for sure, but it rolls nicely.

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