Music Reviews



Hirsute Pursuit: Tighten That Muscle Ring

 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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Sep 04 2012
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Artist: Hirsute Pursuit (@)
Title: Tighten That Muscle Ring
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
The presence of notorious, appreciated and defiant American sound artist Boyd Rice on three tracks (including the initial snappy cover version of David Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging", a song which was very successfull in a period when British middle-class conformism was one of the favorite target of many pop singers) of this second explicit act by Hirsute Pursuit, straight gay music project by Harley Phoenix and Bryin Dall, brought his definition of "unpop" to my mind. Referred to the artistic movement Boyd Rice co-founded with Brian Clark and Shaun Partridge, the adjective 'unpop' could be sticked on every cultural product based on "the application of pop aesthetics, stylings, or techniques to unpopular, unpleasant, repressed or otherwise censored ideas" and "Tighten That Muscle Ring" could be tight to that definition alike. The inclusion of recordings of whimperings, orgasms and other copulatory sounds as well as the use of straight and sleazy language cannot be considered innovative, but their integration on pretty conventional musical structures - many cues from trip-hop, break house and rock have been mainly revised...and most of them sounds so good (definitively better than a plenty of wacky stuff, born from marketing experts' mind, which sounded really offensive against gay people), particularly when they blend sleazy downbeat sounds and trip-hop stepping together like in "Daddy Bear" "You're Here To Pleasure Me" or contextualizethe sound within a set like in the sloppy and sad accordion-driven "One Sleazy Night In New Orleans", co-performed by Peter Martin Christopherson - famous founding memeber of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV -, that they gained an astonishing circulation before an official release without advertising or promotional campaign with more than 140000 plays on myspace - looks like follow footsteps of similar showy transplants on "pop body" and hooplas such as "Je T'Aime, Moi Non Plus" by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin or Rod McKuen's "Slide...Easy In". If you're excessively susceptible to male nudity, just close your eyes when taking cd out of its digipak sleeve. If I say there are some puckered sheets printed on it, you should guess what you are going to find below it.

Tastatur: Electric Lounge Machine

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 03 2012
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Artist: Tastatur
Title: Electric Lounge Machine
Format: CD
Label: Everest Records (@)
Distributor: Broken Silence
Rated: *****
Another interesting release from snow-capped Swiss higher grounds comes from the sound machines of a couple of friends of long standing, Bern-based producers Jakob Stoller (aka Dj Ramax) and Daniel Wihler, whose releases with aliases Alphatronic and Mustfuzz (or Muzzfuzz, the name I remember the first time this collaborative project with Tom Vedvik landed on my hi-fi system on the occasion of the issue of "Electro Commando 1 - Welcome to Psicity", an opulent compiation by Anthony Rother's Psi49net) could have already reached your headphones. The circumstance they come from relatively different fields and have a different approach to music production (whereas Stoller is more "dance-oriented", Wihler has a taste for more atmosheric music) have repercussions on the direction their co-signed project Tastatur (German word for "computer keyboard") follows. The album could be ideally splitted in two parts as the first tracks sound more "atmospheric" in spite of the insert of deep bass lines and phat slowed beats, so that weird electro and thessaloniki martial electro influences look like tallying with a sonic research whose high quality and dramatic hooks could be vaguely associated to some stuff issued by Ant Zen or Brume (Flint Glass, S:Cage or similar stuff), those sonic epic tales some Greek electronic performers often evoke throughout their music or even some interesting episodes related to the first waves of technoid ambient-trance (Brain Pilot, Model 500, Beaumont Hannant), even if in many track this Swiss project lean towards viscous and pasty sonorities ("Rolldose", "Dandanchak"), which some nice addictions of old-fashioned electronic dub stepping (in tracks such as "Eierkuchen", "Pepadsh" or "Swirell" - one of my favorite track of the whole album -), contemporary dubstep declensions ("Daemmerzustand", the fuzzy gleeful clicks'n'clocks of the title track or the nervously wired "Broadband" - another highlight - ) and occasional mongrels with Teutonic standard minimal techno ("Hausgang", "Bubble Control") make their sound punchier and snappier. Their hybrids include so many elements that some tracks are quite difficult to file under some precisely defined style, but this aspect cannot be considered a defect, but the authentic driving force of Tastatur instead.

Four Tet: 128 Harps b/w 128 Harps (Anthony Naples Remix)

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 04 2012
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Artist: Four Tet (@)
Title: 128 Harps b/w 128 Harps (Anthony Naples Remix)
Format: 12"
Label: Text Records
Rated: *****
So often it seems like the real virulent strains of dance music's DNA are most visible in the 12" format. They're quick and easy to produce, and it gives the DJs something to hold on to. When coming to grips with the status of Techno worldwide, one must take into account what is actually being played in the clubs, what're people dancing to.

Four Tet, aka Kieran Hebden, has been releasing a string of 12"s in anticipation of his newest long-player, Pink, released digitally on August 20th via Hebden's own Text imprint, and will be released on CD in Japan on August 22nd on Hostess Entertainment. On "128 Harps" Four Tet expands upon his glorious glowing signature sound, beats that could've been sourced from the electric company with millions of myriad mechanical intricacies that whirl around yr head like a cloud of gnats, and gets a little low-down, a little funky. "128 Days" is built around a clobbering bass-line that would sound at home on some of Scuba's recent Techno forays, but off-kilter and full of freaky syncopations. The negative spaces of the prime beat are filled with the ringing harp sounds that are the record's namesake, and it sounds like walking around in a music box museum in yr dreams. The two main elements are fleshed-out and surrounded by precise clicks and whirrs that just go to show that while this may be some of Hebden's more dance friendly work in a while, his music still demands some headphone devotion.

The B-side is a tasty remix from Anthony Naples, a DJ from New York's Mister Saturday Night club, who straightens out the beat to create a tribal-tech stomper, that sounds like an electro party under the sea. Churning organ repetitions mix with plasticine 606 percussion to create something that is both ancient and modern.

Four Tet is a great example of a new breed of electronic artist, that is not afraid to cop from every source, borrowing stratagems from Dubstep, Drum 'n Bass, minimal wave electro, and abstract hip-hop to create the ultimate groove mechanism. Production is tight and sharp on this one, and i can hardly wait for the full-length to drop.

Vladislav Delay: Espoo

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 01 2012
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Artist: Vladislav Delay (@)
Title: Espoo
Format: 12"
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
We should count lucky that Sasu Ripatti didn't come up to his resolution to stop watering any solo laptop-driven project after the notable success within Moritz Von oswald Trio, so that after the issue of Vantaa on German label Raster-Noton, Sasu with his well-known moniker Vladislav Delay puts a new release of this series of sonic canvas inspired from and named after municipalities belonging to Huvudstadsregionen (Helsinki Metropolitan Area) into print. Whereas Sasu mainly binded a series of recordings from natural fields and techno-dub samples on Vantaa, his intricate textures sound more level-headed and rubbed down on this 2-track record, inspired by Espoo, one the most renowned technological and scientific centre in Europe, where VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Nokia, Tekla and other high-tech companies have their headquarters. Listeners will notice a certain specularity of the two halves of Espoo, just like Vladislav Delay traced a sort of Gaussian curve, as the first track, Olari (the central district of Espoo, known for having been one of fulcrums of almost unknown Finnish hip-hop scene), shows a gradual sonic saturation after a leisurely start based on looping sequence of a smooth electonic-dub sound, whose delicatee treatment is almost a badge of some Finnish dub-tinged stuff (just to make a comparison, have a listen to "Hard Like A Rock" by Nuspirit Helsinki) and the typical sound of an electric train makes when jumping on rails, while the B-side track "Kolari" (meaning "crash" in Finnish!) starts with an intense and persistent (like the knocking of a woodpecker) staccato beat and evolves with the gradual mutation and blurring of the underlying sound carpet, which gradually ferments without blanketing the main pulsation. Nice stuff.

Cooly G: Playin' Me

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 27 2012
cover
Artist: Cooly G
Title: Playin' Me
Format: CD
Label: Hyperdub
Rated: *****
Merrisa Campbell's moniker, Cooly G, has hitherto been associated to funky and house London scene, but her forthcoming release, which curiosly comes with no particular hype from Hyperdub - well-known label, which got quite notorious for the support to excellent musicians such as Kode9 and Burial -, shows an intriguing stylistical approach: her sound is very crystalline and fluid at the same time - that's maybe the reason why Tate Gallery asked her to make music for young Nigerian/British painter Christopher Ofilli's retrospective - and even when she set her jewel-like smooth voice within chilly dub, reaggae and retro-flavoured - due to the vintage elegant touch added by garage and embryonic jungle sounds - downbeat, it doesn't undergo either heavily baroque sonic gewgaws or pedantic mannerism. Such an elegant and snug wrapping fits like a velvet glove to her warm and alluring voice, so that many Coldplay fans and zealots will spare her for the blurred clocking cover of "Trouble" shee sings, even if the most mischievous ones will say it seems a cover from a junior web-marketing trainee on trouble. It's really difficult to pick some highlights up, but I particularly enjoyed the controversial dim tones of "Sunshine", the nostalgic and romantic combination of an airy piano, 808 cowbells and seducing Arp strings of "Come into my room" (a sort of reminder this album was entirely recorded in her home studio?), the daydreaming atmosphere as well as uplifting and refreshing strings of "What this world needs now", hooks to some breathtaking ambient episodes on Earth (I'm not referring to our beloved Planet, but the parent label of LTJ Bukem's Good Looking records) on "Trying" as well as the most "instrumental" final tracks of the album, where vibrations keep on feeding the flow and reactivating some musical memories such as Nicolette's intricate textures in the lovely "Up In My Head", some primordial soup with Metalheadz imprint on "Is It Gone" as well as "What Airtime", whose style gets closer to the one of some label-mates such as Laurel Halo and DVA, and the twisting tribal-like set of "It's Serious" with the precious featuring of Baltimore house legend Karizma.


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