Music Reviews

Jojo Blue: First On Air

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 08 2013
Artist: Jojo Blue
Title: First On Air
Format: CD
Label: MENU (@)
Rated: *****
The hyperbolic ascending directrices that the sound by talented Slovakian producer Jozef Miklos aka Jojo Blue on his debut album, released by Czech label MENU, are clear since the introductive track "Hactba", where some seagull cries, a sort of fairy angelic choir and the sea breeze confuses with the enthralling suavity and the veiled melancholia of harp, strings and a bassoon by evoking a mysteriously holy and naturally mystical dimension, which he manages to integrate with his sampledelic dubstep and its possible variations over the album, even if the initial chod progression on that kind of organ which was widely used by garage-house producers on the following "Apocalypto" could mislead listeners before the heavy and skeletal step and the typically dubstep grinding bass burst into the sequence of instrumental sketches he progressively adds. Jojo Blue's skills in bouncing beats and samples (mainly extracts from movies, old songs and vocals under exstatic raptures) is quite evident since these first rushing beats but become clearer and clearer over the listening: the puffed dry beat of the catchy "Blue Down" got enhanced by dropping samples (particularly amazing that sort of banjo), which on the following "Jocker" have been used to make the portrait of a devilish jester; on "Anthem Of Science (for Lilien)" - maybe the best track on "First On Air" -, Jozef builds splashes of bubbly dub which sounds performed by researchers during laboratory tests, while he peppers the following "Cybersex" with sizzling computational fibrillations, which surface in the initial part of the following "Goral Cut" as well, where you could surmise he awoke some Carpathian female vampires and the mummy of some monk who conducted a Gregorian choir by means of some spell casted from the handbook of an unknown necromancer, before narcotizing them again for the definitive eternal sleep on the soulful "Fusion", where he seems to reprise some "vintage" sounds of the last 90ies. Even if some rhythmical patterns could be still improved and in spite of its nostalgic halo, Jojo Blue managed to suggest a possible way to the so-called and somewhat undefined post-dubstep. Have more than one listening.
Artist: Yu-chi/Anata Wa Sukkari Tsukarete Shimai
Title: The Original Magnetic Light Parade
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Bearsuit records (@)
Rated: *****
"The Original Magnetic Light Parade" is a very nice sonic knick-knack from Scottish label Bearsuit with an heavy dosage of Japanese aesthetics. The first part of this split mini-album features the fuzzy dadaist electric folk Japanese multi-instrumentalist Yu-chi, whose sound smells of lovely rustic crispness and somewhat idyllic innocence: the opening with saddening strings on "Bustle, Conflict and Me" and the carillon of croaks, chatter, guitars and percussive splash-down, which manage to change the emotional set of the song till a sort of euphoric hebephrenia, the delicate melodic lines by plucked guitar with pitched chutes, which emphasize the reverie, and the following reprise on honky-tonk piano on "The First Star" and the amazingly childish "Toy Joy", whose amalgamation of accordions, barking dogs and clicks, reprised by the delicate final guitar phrasing, seems inspired by typical tunes coming from itinerant ice cream vendors' vans or circus tents, could let listener think about a sort of nostalgic recollection, as it seems to be partially mirrored by the self-introduction by his own words, according to which he was "brought up listening to the music of Bach, Chopin & Debussy. I bought up my first guitar in junior high. After many family illnesses I gave up my education in other to return to the farmwork I grew up with in order to support my family". On the second part of this magnetic mini-album, there are three interesting remixes of tracks by the international file sharing band/collective Anata Wa Sukkari Tsukarete Shimai (Japanese expression meaning "you are completely tired") by _ (Japan), Gnomefoam (England) and Bunny (Scotland), which explore different stylistical grounds: the lovely remix of Cataract by Gluid (Netherlands) tacks towards an entrancing mellow downbeat whose despondent mood and contemplative halo loom nearby the borderline of musical territories with garrisons by Radiohead, Blue Foundation or Future 3, while the remix of "Lost in the forest of blank sportswear" by Scottish producer Jim Child could resemble to some dozily hallucinated stuff by Mum wrapped in scorched tapes and encircled by buzzing insects, which precedes the final disquieting remix of "My Drive" by Rune Martinsen (Norway), whose insertion of recordings from news report and radio broadcasts, lopsided guitars and disturbing noises emphasizes the sinister and mysterious atmosphere evoked by the monotonous repetition of the sentence "nobody knows it". I'm not sure if this release is available on vinyl or cd yet, but I'm sure you can find it as a digital release on most notorious providers (Amazon, I-Tunes, Spotify and so on).

VV.AA.: Rise of the Under Dogs vol.1

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 30 2013
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Rise of the Under Dogs vol.1
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: IM:Ltd (@)
Distributor: Triple Vision
Rated: *****
Parisian label IM:Ltd by dj, producer and graphic designer Caine has been one of the most wondrous and stylistically labyrinthine of the scene in the last years, so that a retrospective compilation which could furnish an immediate and concise proof of such a strain on sound machines cannot but suit to a T. All ten tracks, which have been included in this selection, make a good impression and encompass the wide stylistical range IM:Ltd's trying to thrust. From the initial glitchy and somewhat sinister witchcraft by young Polish dnb producer Mortem on "Whispers" to the final aerostatic lyrical "Above The Clouds" by Glen E.Ston, an array of pleasures will delight listener's cochleas: the beeping computational arcane sonoritires of Belgian producer Meersman Olivier aka Atmospherix on "CPU", remarkably edgy shots of "Elektronic Angels" by talented producer Alex Judd aka Soul Intent, the amazing crossbreed of glitchy clicks and wicked bass of "Surrealism" (already a classic!) by Italian Arp Xp, the catchy bonebreaking flows of "Monopole" by London-based trio Future Signal, the crisp blown claps and beats of "Sabbah" by Hibea, the flying kicks of kung-fu inspired "Travelling Man" by Mad Rabbit, the melancholic blurred shades by Hobzee & Zyon Base on "Black & White Movie" and the demimonde waxed song "Universe" by Gunston. "Rise of The Under Dogs" includes so many palatable tunes that you cannot hope the label will keep on paving its way.
Jan 22 2013
Artist: Worsel Strauss
Title: Unattention Economy
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Vicmod Records (@)
Rated: *****
One of the main criticisms levelled at electronic music is that anyone can make it, the machines do all the work. That is true, just press the triangle and let fly! This then raises the question: What makes good electronic music? Sure, we can listen to the refrigerator hum or blender whine for hours, but does that constitute good 'music'? Worsel Strauss, half of the retro electronics outfit Schleusolz, plugs in his machines, and considers the results.

Inspired by an infamous piece of early electronics, Douglas Leedy's 'Entropical Paradise (with bird call),' a triple-LP of self-generated modular synth music, Strauss wondered if he could make some interesting synthnoise, without resorting to sidelong synth soundscapes. Instead, he wondered if the machines could come up with more conventional 'songs', and set to, armed with a vintage Buchla synthesizer and some other analog electronics. The pieces were composed, straight to tape, and then edited later, in a process he called 'subtractive mixing'. 'If there is a creative process involved at all it is the design of the rules and the final choice of which results to present, and which ones not.' He even wonders if it can be considered music at all.

Which brings us to the mechanical heart of 'Unattention Economy,': Does it sound good? An album reviewers purpose is to report back what he hears, and to alert listeners as to whether a particular piece is worthy of their attention. While 'UE' might be cyberdine techno, it sounds REALLY good. At first i was skeptical: another experimental synth record? How much knob twiddling can a bloke hack? But it is my job, to parse through the datastream and report what i see, and i will not let you down. It is our job, as listeners, to try and remain unjaded, to not let the cultural torrent wash us away. This comes through presence and awareness, and the final analysis is, Strauss' machines sound boss. Bringing to mind a surprising amount of modern electricians (Nine Inch Nails, Autechre, Jessica Rylan), the sounds are all sourced from exquisite components. The drums kick like a Parisian siege, while the analog pads are as warm as a Sahara sun. There's bleepy, gloopy tones, that'll appeal to the retro-fetishists out there, but there's also dance floor fare (Shopping for Antibiotics). 'Swarm Intelligence' is a standout track, killer martial breakbeats and detuned swarming melodies. Its like an instrumental outtake from 'The Downward Spiral' remixed with a Pure Data patch. It brings the body and the head together, and could help introduce some listeners to the world of abstract electronica that's out there.

Vicmod Records could have a real hit on their hands here. Worsel Strauss is worthy of yr time and attention, possibly yr praise. The time and care he took to setup the experiment allowed for some remarkable alleatoric daemons to manifest, and i'll be damned if i don't hear a bit of soul in there. 'Unattention Economy' is very highly recommended.

DVA: Fly Juice EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 17 2013
Artist: DVA (@)
Title: Fly Juice EP
Format: 2 x 12"
Label: Hyperdub
Rated: *****
Leon Smart aka Scratcha DVA already demonstrated his fine approach to sound as it were a true gourmet in his acclaimed debut album "Pretty Ugly" (such a title could let you surmise he probably assimilated the rules of British understatement!). That's the reason why Hyperdub always gave him carte blanche with the only restriction of avoiding to prepare mid-tempo dubstep stuff as they maybe noticed that shelves in the supermarket are full enough. The culinary metaphor is not so casual as the modified clap Scratcha DVA often uses could remind the sound of the knife on a wooden cutting board. Moreover his way of cutting samples before putting them in the frying pan reminded some Japanese samurai whose sonic katanas got famous since the end of 90ies such as Boom Boom Satellites, Tatsuya Oe, Ken Ishii as well as some stuff released on David Moufang's Source Records, but DVA's paraphernalia seasons the sound with tasty spices such as hypnotic Detroit techno chords and similar tricks ("Long Street", "Walk It Out"), delicious garage-house nibbles and jazz-funk Rhodes organ appetizer ("Fly Juice"), dogged shuffling drums ("Do It"). All those listener who will opt for digital edition will be delighted by double portion as they could grab four more tracks, including the smoky dub knocking remix of "Ganja" by French Fries, the amazing swooshing garage-dub feast of "Rumors" which features "drunken" delicate vocal guest Inga copeland (Hype Williams), and the catchy "Shook", whose funny lolloping tastes like a sort Mr.Oizo in aspic. Why am I feeling peckish now?

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