Music Reviews

Slam: Machine Cut Noise

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 10 2016
Artist: Slam (@)
Title: Machine Cut Noise
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Soma (@)
Rated: *****
Scottish techno label got out of my radar for a long time, due to the plenty of releases for new and old labels and artists that regularly saturates the grid, but I'm glad it traces a route by the new album (their sixth one) by Slam, the well-known duo consisting of Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle, who founded the label as an offshoot of their intense activity as techno party organizers. Less "vaporous" but likewise obscure than their previous album "Reverse Proceed", "Machine Cut Noise" comes with the declaration about the primary source of inspiration by their forgers, who said it's going to explore "the everyday workings of what makes us human" and got mostly composed in and inspired by hotspots of mass transportation and transit such as airports, train stations, and hotels they visited during their frequent globetrotting. The "human" element got supposedly mirrored by moments where the sound seems to render the humanely (entirely justified) grave concern and rising fear of being just a gear of a large and seemingly chaotic mechanism. The rising digital brass and the piercing whisper over the first storm of mechanical beats in "Viginti Quinque", the ghostly kind of choirs grasped in the emptiness dug by square-shaped sequences and whirling electronic punches of "Ecclesiastic", the likewise ghostly entity (sounding like a dilution of the sound that precedes an announcement about some departing train in a station) smoothing the relentless step of "Evite", the sonic particles slowly flowing in the chaotic order of the rhythmical pattern in "Obstacle" are just some samples of such a bipolarity. This output is nothing revolutionary against some of their previous releases, but it could be considered a sort of maintenance task on the already stable tunnel joining Berlin and Detroit techno sonorities.

Mental Overdrive: Plugged

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 04 2016
Artist: Mental Overdrive (@)
Title: Plugged
Format: 3 x 12" vinyl
Label: Rett I Fletta
Rated: *****
I'm happy to notice and notify that many techno producers are removing dust and sometimes reinvent those phunk and IDM sonorities, which got pushed since the first half of the nineties by artists like that fucking genius of Richard James or top labels like Apollo. One of the relatively less known names of the rising stars, that came out of darker lights of that wave, mostly driven by hours and hours of work on the glorious drum machines like Roland TR-808 or 909, was the Norwegian techno-maker Per Martinsen, who was just 23 years old when he signed as his brainchild Mental Overdrive for the legendary Belgian label R&S, after he met its smart boss Renaat Vandepapeliere at Boccaccio club in Gant, Per's temporary hometown, in 1989. After a series of EPs on R&S, Per came back Norway, where he founded Love OD Communications and released "Plugged," the album that 21 years after its launch got reprinted on triple vinyl by Rett I Fletta, sister label of Norwegian disco-house label Full Pupp. This reissue, including original tracks and some alternative takes, will make you clear why some connoisseurs of electronic music consider him the father (and godfather!) of the whole Norwegian cosmic disco, house and techno scene and why many notorious Norwegian producers such as Royksopp, Bjorn Torske, Lindstrom and even Thomas Moen Hermansen aka Prins Thomas, one of the founders of Full Pupp, could be considered his beloved sonic progeny. Per should be around 50 nowadays, but the music he made is still fresh... Years advance for artists as well, but some of their offspring will never die.

Zarkoff & Ikonal: Toxicology EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 24 2016
Artist: Zarkoff & Ikonal
Title: Toxicology EP
Format: 12"
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Layered, relentless acid bassline patterns rule the roost on this 3-track EP, complimented by Leftfield-style synth washes and steady, uncomplex techno beats that have one foot in a 1990’s warehouse but still don’t sound old.

The first side is two six-minute tracks. “Side Effects” is a straightforward number, a little Hardfloor-ish but without the bounce, while the second track on the A-side “Dose Response” is a more atmospheric track with a really strong chord progression wafting over the rhythms and giving it a much more filmic feel. Extra percussive elements appear as the melody starts unfolding into daylight in the final couple of minutes of a progressive track that oozes quality.

The second side is the 11-minute “Lifetime Exposure”, and while you’d expect a longer journey and maybe greater diversity from a longer track, in practice it’s mainly just longer- there’s a darker tone, slower changes, but essentially the same format as the other two shorter tracks. Maybe it overstays its welcome just a tad compared to the well-formed tracks on the A.

For those who have forgotten, or who are too young to remember, it’s still true that everybody loves a 303, and these tracks are a tasty reminder.

Fade: Xenomorph/Wounded

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 13 2016
Artist: Fade (@)
Title: Xenomorph/Wounded
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Free Love Digi
Rated: *****
Faded label boss, the Ukrainian drum 'n' bass producer Fade, should have some interesting in chemical elements, as one of the two tracks by which he keeps on stuffing Free Love Digi catalog, "Xenomorph," seems to have been inspired by the properties of the quoted noble gas. Colorless, odorless, almost undetectable, but incredibly dense, this gas emits an intense blue light when electrically excited. Similarly to xenon, it's pretty impossible to define the style he explored, but as listener can describe the almost physical features of the track and notice the similarities against xenon: Fade filled the pattern by very dense sonorities, hyper-compressed compression as well as a nebulized pad-synth that could resemble the noble nature of this gas as well as its "invisibility". The second tune 'Wounded' will maybe attract attention of DJs looking for exciting and somehow imaginative headbangers: the first part features a switching between a dark electronic melody and a catchy break, that got gradually infected by distorted synth tones; these two elements got gradually (and wisely) merged till a short, obscure cliff-hanger that prepares the ground for the definitive activation of a drum 'n' bass trigger. Very weird bass-oriented bullets.

Nuage: Prints Of You -The Remixes EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 09 2016
Artist: Nuage (@)
Title: Prints Of You -The Remixes EP
Format: 12"
Label: Translation Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
It seems that the idea of a remix project related to Prints Of You, a little masterpiece of the liquid side of drum'n'bass by St.Petersburg-born producer Dimitry Kuzmin, better known as Nuage, was already discussed and planned soon after its release together with the hyperactive guys of American imprint Translation Records. Enhancing the original tracks was a pretty hard mission, but the producers involved in the project somehow managed to reach the goal, maybe as they knew each other very well due to the fact Nuage already did remixes for Blu.Mar.Ten and The Levels and gave some of his tunes to Bop's imprint Microfunk. The remix of "Overseas" by Bop is the one that most impressed me: the Russian producer built an amusing pattern by means of noises that sound like hitting pool and table tennis balls over a sneaking bassline and you could have the feeling that his tic-tac-toe game occasionally breaks the vocals of the original tracks into ecstatic syllables. On the other side both Blu.Mar.Ten guys and The Levels tried to highlight the highly emotional hook and the melodic aspect of Nuage original inputs, but while Blu Mar Ten kept higher bpm on their revamping of "Colors" - clearly influenced by the typical sonorities of the artists belonging to Hospital Records super team -, The Levels offered an assay of the so-called Future Soul Music for the remix of "Shining" (featuring an excellent vocal performance by Veronique J), the style that gave them some notoriety in the scene. The release includes a remix of "Waterfalls" by Nuage himself, who reshuffled the original track by a delicate tribal tapping of claves and a sort of clipped typewriting-like hit in a pool of crispy natural sounds.

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