Music Reviews

The Spaceape: Xorcism

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 12 2013
Artist: The Spaceape (@)
Title: Xorcism
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Two of the most memorable situations I experienced during my journeys over our amazing planet are closely related to tribal rites: the first one in a Cuban village between Varadero and Havana was a sort of celebrative Yoruba rite (the people I met there explained there were some Voodoo elements as well) for the oldest member of the community while the second one was an healing Sangoma ritual in a Zulu village in South Africa. This interesting release by Stephen Samuel Gordon aka The Spaceape, whose promising musical path and the visibility he deservedly gained for his impressive collaborations with Kode9 have been suddenly stopped by a 3-years lasting struggle against neurolymphamatosis, a rare form of cancer whose painful and troublesome progress had been mirrored in the lyrics of some tracks of "Black Sun" album - just carefully listen "Black Smoke", "Neon Red Sign" and "The Cure" -, vividly activated those memories. The above-mentioned fight against cancer, which resurface in many moments of this musical little treat (songs like "Your Angel Has Come" and "Palaces" have many references to his period of hospitalization and treatment and many clues of his spiritual clearance have been spread all over the album), gave him new spiritual energy, which permeates his words and emanates from the hypnotical and catchy synthesis of meaningful lyrics and samples taken from traditional ritual musical stuff from Haiti and Kamchaka - Drummers of the Societe Absolument Guinin's "Voodoo Drums", two tracks from "Kamchatka: Tambours de Danse de L'extreme Orient Siberien" by Anastasija Vasileva Gitorovka and irina Khristoforovna Kolegova, a release on Soul Jazz Records about haitian street music and a couple of track from "Rhythms Of Rapture - Sacred Musics Of Haitian Vodouan", an encyclopedic compilation released by Smithsonian Folkways some years ago -, which could awake elemental and hidden forces in the listener. "Xorcism" really sounds like a reinvigorating and healing exorcism, whose effulgent poetic nourishment and synaesthetic sway is so catchy that I really hope there will be a follow up.

Lynx & Hellrazor ft.Kemo: Dive Deep In / Shadowlands

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 10 2013
Artist: Lynx & Hellrazor ft.Kemo (@)
Title: Dive Deep In / Shadowlands
Format: 12"
Label: Warm Communications (@)
Distributor: S.T. Holdings Ltd.
Rated: *****
After the remarkable juggling on Soul:r with Balloons and Passing Time, which already settled inside many dj bags and has been successfully installed in many hard drives, talented dnb producer Lynx keeps on running on the path of thought-ignited stuff by means of his lomg-lasting cross-lifting collaborations with Jimmy Blitx aka Kemo and Richard Scott aka Hellrazor. Together with the latter one, Lynx really seems to strap a razor by whipping snares, disquieting bell-like tunes, menacing bass, scorched patterns, roaring inserts and an "interlude" which reminds Matrix-like settings and some jams by legendary Ram Trilogy, which perfectly fits to the leathery prophylaxis from a somewhat undefined threat from a numerical controlled world (d'you think it's so distant from reality?) on "Shadowland". Another excellent stylistical dnb jewel comes on the other side: an infectious half time rhythmical pattern and a rolling sitar which could remind some stuff by Fanu builds the pedestal for the poisoned vocal treatments by Kemo, whose track manages to reinforce the sonic soldering of these producers which already jacked many dnb clubs on the planet.

Container: LP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Odd / Field Recording
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Jan 04 2013
Artist: Container (@)
Title: LP
Format: 12"
Label: Spectrum Spools/Mego (@)
Rated: *****
Besides the frontline of more fashioned techno makers, who are costantly honing recording techniques and enhancing sounds till the concision of pure frequencies, there's a bizarre rearline of (mainly European) producers and djs who are rediscovering dirty and extremely rough sounds. A detection of historical explanation to this phenomenon could focus on analogous sonic languages such as Detroit techno movement, whose cultural memes could be found in the environment of the first decadent American metropolis, due to the undeniable stylistical propinquity. Such a propinquity is quite clear in the sonic reversed research by Nashville-based producer Ren Schofield aka Container, who flaunts five retrofuturistic tracks on his second LP, osseusly titled "LP". Even if he demonstrates that he can easily handle techno timeless driving forces and brainchildren by many notorious predecessors such as Derrick May, Kenny Larkin, Joey Beltram, Dave Clarke, X-313, Surgeon or even DAF, he prefers a dirtier and rusty sound, which he manages to render by recording it in mono so that it seems he revamped disused old industrial machinery before their final demise. With the exception of the final "Refract" - a devastating electromechanical storm with suffocating fill-in of distorted snare drums and noisy gluts -, most of the tracks have been wisely boned so that their essentiality could remind the overdried structures of some electro-pop relics ("Paralyzed"), the heating coils of the most minimal displays and programming of Detroit techno and acid house ("Perforate", "Dripping") or some industrial techno engines ("Acclimator"). The language which Container's sound trying to translate smells of that kind of archeology of dumped machines (or maybe I'd name it futuristic primitivism) that many listeners could dare to describe as "prophetic".

Kangding Ray: The Pentaki Slopes

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 02 2013
Artist: Kangding Ray (@)
Title: The Pentaki Slopes
Format: 12"
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Distributor: Forced Exposure
Rated: *****
Carsten Nicolai's label Raster-Noton ends 2012 with a bang by means of David Letellier aka Kangding Ray, one of the most interesting scions from Berlin electronic music garden. In spite of the temporary restraint of the experimental vein he let palpitate on his previous releases, with the exception of the track on the ridge, "Plateau (A Single Source Of Truth)", which vaguely retraces the subtly ethereal haziness of "OR", and its temporal conciceness, "The Pentaki Slopes" could be properly considered as a mini-album due to its structure and conceptual framework. Named after the fabled Pentaki mountain, the fictional cypher of the releases focuses on its imaginary climbing: according to the tale, the troublesome hike from northern slope gets rewarded by the reaching of a place called the "single source of truth", all-desired destination for lonely sould and spiritual gurus, which cannot be reached by way of the most luxuriant southern slope, which represents the illusory path. Such an allegorical adventure looks partially mirrored by the tracks of the release: while the initial "North" sounds abrasive, steep, hypnotical and somewhat vertiginous and the following above-mentioned "Plateau (A Single Source Of Truth)", which has been blended seamless, sounds fuggier and somewhat mysterious, the precise 4/4 cuts, the suffocated bumps and the choo-choo-like electromechanical movement on "South" could let the listener imagine an endless train trip which stops on lower and lower altitudes even if their traveller made it to reach the summit.

VV.AA.: Remixen: 20 years of Hardcore

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 02 2013
Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Remixen: 20 years of Hardcore
Format: 2CD (double CD)
Label: Industrial Strength Records (@)
Rated: *****
Industrial Strength Records was the world's first Hardcore Techno label. Founded by New York native Lenny Dee in 1991, and he still heads the label. At its inception, Hardcore Techno was the fastest, most abrasive form of electronic dance music and ended up spawning a lot of hybrid genre offshoots. Often sounding like a stuttering synth & sample machine gun paired with a piledriver on meth, there is so much frenetic, manic energy in the music, it sometimes comes off as cartoonish, for surely no human being could keep up with this on the dance floor'¦but wait, not really true, because I've seen these ultra-rivetheads take over a dancefloor like a swarm of locusts when an adventurous DJ spun some of this stuff. Hardcore Techno, Gabber, and related styles are by far not my favorite genres of electronic music, but I'm game. What the hell, lay it on me!

The album is called 'Remixen' for a reason: most tracks are remixes. As to how the remixes might compare to the originals, I have no clue; I've never heard the originals. Unless you're a real genre purist though, it shouldn't much matter as these remixes certainly get the point across and probably add some spice to the tracks as well. As for tracks by the artists, Lenny Dee has 5 (one with DJ Gizmo), ISR has 3, English Muffin has 2, Tymon gets 2, Temper Tantrum 2, DJ Skinhead 2, and the rest (Marc Arcadipane, Stormtrooper, Wavelan, Disciples of Annihilation, Strychnine, UVC, Nasenbluten, Manga Corps, Satronica, Mindcandy, Jappo & Lancinhouse, Delta 9, FUHD, and Dirty Fingers Licked) have one each.

One of the hardest most brutal tracks on the album comes courtesy of DJ Skinhead - 'Extreme Terror' (Neophyte Mix). But if it's speedcore you're looking for check out the Akira Mix of DOA's 'Wanna Be a Gangster'. While Strychnine and UVC is really just Sal Mineo from DOA, Wavelan is Carl Carinci & Tony DiLorenzo, the other guys from DOA. A good part of the first CD is dominated by them as their boot-prints are all over the ISR Live tracks (mostly mash-ups), and if you don't like it, I guess that's too fucking bad. Regardless of the remixes, it still sounds rather old-school.

Lenny Dee charges right out of the gate on CD2 setting the pace with 'Forgotten Moments' (Ophidian Rx Re-edit) and things get more interesting at this point. You're still going to get bludgeoned, but there's a good deal more going on and some nice pacing in the process. Maybe it's just me, but I felt that the tracks on CD2 seemed a bit more creative and less old-school than the first one overall, with less speedcore elements. Not to say that some of the tracks didn't get tiresome quick; some certainly did, such as Lenny Dee's "Tranzformer" (Attic & Acesome Remix), but in Mr. Dee's defense, his other tracks on this CD were pretty cool. A lot of the hip-hop elements used in some of the tracks weren't exactly my cup of tea, especially evident on tracks like FUHD's 'Koncrete Jungle' (FUHD Re-edit), and Dirty Fingers Licked's "Sex Fiends" (Lenny Dee Mix) just sounds like a bad hardcore punk band.

Overall it will be a testimonial to your stamina if you can make it through both CDs in one sitting (I did, multiple times, and that has to count for something), but maybe a little at a time goes a long way. Some DJ's might find these tracks useful for shaking things up a bit, but like chile peppers in a spicy recipe, a little can go a long way. In case you're interested, the album is also available on vinyl (3 records) and digital download with bonus tracks. I can't say 'Remixen: 20 years of Hardcore' is the be-all and end-all of hardcore techno, but it is quite relentless, and has enough creativity (for this genre anyway) to keep things interesting in spite of some tedious moments.

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