Music Reviews

Roberto Auser: Faceless Future

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 29 2016
Artist: Roberto Auser
Title: Faceless Future
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Despite being called "Faceless Future", this is quite a backwards-facing EP that feels like it could've fallen through a timewarp from the late 1980's. It's a eulogy to prototype acid house, with slightly beefed-up production values but unmistakable noise snares, speak-and-spell-like vocal snippets and super-short, harsh-edged samples.

The accompanying press sheet references Front 242 and Cabaret Voltaire, and it's a spot-on comparison, this could practically be a tribute act. It's raw, aggressive, and sinister. All six of the tracks are between three and four minutes long, giving them an almost pop-song structure that neatly encapsulates the anti-pop sound.

"Fearless" breaks the mould slightly, bringing in a thick, resonant rolling bassline that those pioneers of the sound wished they could've made with the old technology. It's bold and feels almost like a tip of the hat to nu skool breaks as much as anything else. "Speed" is the most brutally angry track in the package.

This is a gritty, retro listening experience and a weird piece of electro-industrial nostalgia, not for the faint-hearted.

stringmodulator: stringmodulator [EP]

 Posted by liv3evil   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 28 2016
Artist: stringmodulator (@)
Title: stringmodulator [EP]
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
German musicians Jan Quednau (bass) and Fabian Chmielewski (guitar) compromise stringmodulator, an experimental music duo limited to ten strings. At 41 minutes, their first EP is quite possibly the longest EP I've encountered to-date, though in fairness the time spent listening flew by.

Lengthy initial track 'flow' does just that; at nearly 19 minutes, a number of motifs and patterns are established for a few minutes, never over-staying their welcome, and enveloping an organic continuance that is steady as a river (flows). At numerous times I found myself marrying 'flow' to an imagined crime-thriller film. For example, I could envision it functioning as dramatic underscore to certain scenes in Michael Mann's 1995 film "Heat," especially during the more pulsating/grooving moments.

Second composition 'OZEaN' is more contemplative and solemn. Almost call-and-response in nature, Quednau frequently sets the tonal stage with highly-treated, wandering basslines which Chmielewski answers with various guitar utterances that range from driven harmonics, feedback yelps, and clean, jazz-voiced chords. And then, somehow, we ultimately end up modulating into a miniature funk workout in the final minutes.

The final track is a live version of 'flow' that coalesces the most brash moments of the studio version and pushes them closer to extremes, alluding to an everyday four-on-the-floor pulse. Though purposefully limited by its instrumentation, the debut EP by stringmodlulator takes enough left turns to be enthralling, and overall satisfying.

Monocorpse: Cease To Exist

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 23 2016
Artist: Monocorpse
Title: Cease To Exist
Format: 12"
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Though every track on Monocorpse's second EP is dark and twisted in its own way, there's a lot of variation between tracks. Opening track "964 Old Topang" channels genuine anger, second track "10050 Cielo Dr" switches to paranoia, yet "12000 Santa Susana Pass Rd" sounds like what you'd get if AI robots in two millenia's time unearthed a book about how to make glam rock and tried to interpret it in a post-apocalyptic underground music studio. "3301 Waverly Dr" sounds like a corrupt MIDI file rendition of "Vienna" by Ultravox, but in the best possible way.

The track names, in case you're wondering, are all genuine US addresses associated with Charles Manson murders. While there's definitely a deep undercurrent of sinisterness running through the whole thing, there are gaps in the visage. The rubbery basslines and the slightly 8-bit robot synths veer some of the production slightly closer to cheap 1980's B-movies than Monocorpse probably intended. Mr and/or Mrs Monocorpse keep themselves tightly under wraps it seems, with their press info and social media showing only the plain covers of their 12"s without any sense of the artist underneath. There's something just a touch too obvious and middle-class about it all, as though it's music that wants to homage David Lynch rather than music that really wants to scare you.

Musumeci: Foundation EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 23 2016
Artist: Musumeci
Title: Foundation EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Engrave Ltd (@)
Distributor: Paradise
At 7 tracks and 49 minutes, this release seems to stretch the definition of an EP somewhat.

Every track follows the formula of opening track "Terminus", quickly establishing mesmeric tech grooves over which the arpeggiating synths can meander back and forth. It's beautifully done, with a strong sense of being in the comfort zone- no tricks, no experiments, just the sense of oozing confidence in the power of simple spaced-out grooves.

"Prelude" is a stand-out track, slightly more dynamic and dramatic than the preceding pieces, with the sense of additional influences drifting in from sci-fi soundtracks, yet it still wouldn't sound out of place in a deep house mix. As the EP progresses, the tracks get shorter and more melodic, with "Melpomenia" carrying a tune that feels like it's yearning for a vocal.

Ostensibly themed around Asimov's "Foundation" series, there's certainly a sci-fi feel to some of the reverberant top-end bell and whistles, but otherwise this 'inspiration' really only stretches as far as being a convenient source of great unfamiliar track names like "Melpomenia" and "Trantor". Sci-fi fans hoping for a narrative journey through Asimov's Galactic Empire might be left a little underwhelmed, but fans of deep tech should lap this up.

Plaster: Mainframe

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 19 2016
Artist: Plaster (@)
Title: Mainframe
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
It's quite strange that this astonishing release by Plaster (dating back last November, but release dates sometimes don't really matter), the Rome-based project by Gianclaudio Hashem Moniri, has not received many feedbacks on well-known zines, even if I think it's one of the best acts from the liminal stylistic territory between power electronics, dark-ambient and IDM. The masterfully forged sounds and the grand strategies by which Plaster intersects superbly shaped noises, rhythmical engines, and abstract minimal flow place this output (the third album signed by Plaster) at the highest levels of electronic compositions reached by better-known names like Mika Vainio or Senking. The evocative banshee-like murmuring/moaning vocals by Valeria Svizzeri, the dark synth-driven flints and the rising harsh sonic talons by which Plaster grabs the attention of listener on the opening melted two parts of "Unicore" perfectly sets the mood for the listening of the whole album. I prefer tracks where this way of organizing sounds that subtly move towards overwhelming tidal of sound, such as "Blade", "Terminal" or the hyper-fragmented codified precipitation tests of "Cluster System" by far, but other configurations are likewise entrancing: the sinister crossbreed of suffocating tribal-industrial and technoid cog wheels of "Lucubra" and "Primal" or the unusual concatenation between "Redshift" and the third part of "Unicore" - a duet which could sound like an abrasive declension of dystopian cyber-industrial stuff, Bladerunner OST and psychotropic stuff by Ron Rothfield's The Infinity Project, Juno Reactor and even Banco De Gaia (the opening sequence of "Red Shift" reminded some things - I don't exactly remember which track - I heard in Toby Marks' masterpiece "Maya") and the unpredictable dark-enlighted sublime epic final "Coiled Heart" are other highlights of this excellent release., whose artwork (cut cardboard sleeve printed with pure silver paint and black abrasive inner insert) says something of the features of its sound!

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