Music Reviews

Unsub vs Alexis K: The Misadventures of Pilbourne Delaney

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 28 2019
Artist: Unsub vs Alexis K
Title: The Misadventures of Pilbourne Delaney
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Pure Heart Dirty Mind Records / NexGen (@)
Rated: *****
Amidst many bass-driven music, one of the most interesting is this album by Uk-born, New Zealand-based Lily Luck or this apparent collaborations of Alexis K (under this moniker, she became very popular for her dubstep version of Linkin Park's popular song "What I've Done", which was played almost 7.5 million times on YouTube) and Unsub (a moniker who managed to reach the charts by many good hits), two of her artistic identities, that she almost consider as two different soul sharing the same body. Besides these details that could meet the interest of psychologist obsessed by patients suffering from multiple personality disorder (not so rare between artists, fortunately or unfortunately), she (or they) managed to do a very awesome output, that is going to delight many listeners of hybrid forms of drum'n'bass. To be honest the listening of the opening title-track “The Misadventures of Pilbourne Delaney” (someone could think it's another personality... who knows?) made me think to a clone or something shaping the sound pattern of The Upbeats, considering the fact these well-known and appreciated dnb knights should be neighbours of Lily, and such an impression was just slightly blunted after the listening of the following track "April 12", as it could surmise many melodies of the wonderful album "Nobody's Out There" by the partners in art Dylan Jones and Jeremy Glenn. Things become more and more interesting on the dark-tinged kinda dubbed piano-driven ragtime of "Sophies Breakfast Blues" and on the following "Blindsided", where Lily and her inner friends managed to forge an elegant fusion of that dark-jazz that musicians like Ian Simmonds used to spread and cinematic nuances. The attractive sonic palette of "Candles Under The Sun", that could ideally swagger around the act of chewing gums by a cyber cowboy, get partially eclipsed by the recipes of the following "Osiris", where the distorted swirling on a synth sax is the element that mainly grabs the attention over a flat melody, and the likewise flat dubbish "State Of Play". The quality level dramatically rises on "Empathy" - a track that seems to squeeze the best juices by the more boring episodes that precede it... - and "Blushing Pilgrim", a frantic drum'n'bass track whose sonorities could delight the fans of many Planet Mu champions. Similarly interesting the trippy "Dysania", the lullaby of "Soul Traffic", the mad breaks of "Alive (VIP)" before the adventurous "Wild Tigers I Have Known" acting like an outro and a confession at the same time.

Ghost Vision: Mirdoar / Ozen

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 25 2019
Artist: Ghost Vision
Title: Mirdoar / Ozen
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: P&F
“Belearic slow burners” is what these two tracks are pitched as, and it’s an apt description. Leisurely, organic house grooves, smooth keys and pads that channel 80’s pop ballads, and a jazzy piano that somehow manages to avoid sounding cheesy even when technically it’s definitely cheesy, it’s a confidently relaxed pair of tracks for sunbathing.

First track “Mirdaor” is a fairly simple seven-minute groove without much progression, and fine for it, while “Ozen” is a more ambitious twelve minute number that draws you in with sweet what-world-music-sounded-like-in-the-90’s atmospherics and some nicely indulgent breakdowns that are electronica with an endearingly backwards-looking feel.

Some may find it so close to lift musak for comfort, but for me it’s deftly handled and well-made lounge-house.

Moscoman: Wave Rave

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 25 2019
Artist: Moscoman
Title: Wave Rave
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Life And Death
After catching Moscoman’s “I Ran” release from last year on his own Disco Halal label, a new EP was very welcome. This one’s now on the Life And Death label but the style, and the quality, has remained consistent across these four new tracks of melodic, synthy instrumental house with a warm, analogue but not wholly retro flavour.

The title track is built around a bright chord scheme and enjoys itself, a fairly simple bit of feel-good instrumental electropop in a DJ-friendly format. “Dinner For One” is a little darker and wobblier, with soft rumbling bass, a scratchy, meandering distorted synth lead note, and an unusual and very confident breakdown involving near-silence and light but militaristic snare patterns.

There’s a bouncy, slightly 90’s feel to the slow unfolding and twangy guitar work of “550”, which ends up being my favourite of the pack, while final track “Space Comfort” is another bright number with an almost endearing naivety to it that recalls the heady early days of instrumental synthpop where absolutely nothing seemed to be regarded as cheesy.

Another strong, accessible and surprisingly poppy pack from Moscoman, perfect for filling your set with a bit of bright electro cheer.

Cosmo: Cosmotronic Remixed

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 17 2019
Artist: Cosmo
Title: Cosmotronic Remixed
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: 42 Records / Ivreatronic
Cosmo is a bona fide Italian pop star, though I’ll admit that word of him or his albums hadn’t previously reached me in the UK. He (or his press people) emphasise that he “keeps one foot in the underground”, and on the strength of this 11-track remix package, getting mostly Italian artists to rework tracks from last year’s “Cosmotronic” album, that statement does appear to be valid and true. Across eleven DJ- and club-friendly tracks, we get a fairly consistent set of deep house and synth-electronica which is essentially no longer pop music, and which most of the time completely disguises and hides its pop roots.

The rapid kicks of Not Waving’s version of “Animali” set the tone nicely in terms of synthetic, synthwave-ish atmosphere and slow build, although it draws a harder, grittier rhythm which isn’t indicative of the usually steadier house rhythms that follow it. Bawrut’s steady techno-inflected-house version of “Tristan Zarra”, with its enviable live drum fills and stripped-back ‘polizia’ vocal refrain, is both a great track with broad appeal, and a strong indicator of the rest of the release. The acid tweaks of Elisa Bee’s “Bentornato” provide an appropriate bookend doing a similar job at the other end of the release.

Other highlights include the infectious bouncy synth bass of Fabio Fabio’s “Barbara remix”, and the modern twist on an 80’s jack groove gone dark in Fabrizio Mammarella’s “Attraverso lo Specchio” remix.

It’s not all plain 4/4 either. The odd-step-pop of the Splendore remix of “Tutto Bene” is notably gritty and faintly moombahton-esque, while the Stefano Ritteri version of “Sei La Mia Citta” is a pleasant, if slightly flat, slow Eastern blend.

I haven’t heard the original “Cosmotronic” album so can’t comment on its merits as a remix album compared to its source material, but as a stand-alone package of deep house and soft-edged techno, this really is top-notch stuff.

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.

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