Music Reviews

VV.AA.: Ingredients:050

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 14 2016
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Ingredients:050
Format: 12"
Label: Ingredients (@)
Rated: *****
The 50th release is always something to celebrate for an independent label, but the somehow strange and almost unusual aspect for Clive's Ingredients, one of the most seminal drum'n'bass label, is the fact that it has never seen any output signed by his brilliant boss, who waited for this important goal before (co)signing his first track. The whole B-side includes "Parasite", an impressive collaborative track by Clive and the evergreen Mancunian producer and DJ Response - a collaborator of the label since 2013 as well as producer of some great tunes on likewise renowned labels such as Commercial Suicide, V Records, and Mars -. These wise beatmakers will let you move your body and your mind over worries that a player of Plague or a brilliantly paranoid mind could understand by inoculating into a foamy kicking roller a voice-over listing the most dangerous threat to humankind: bacteria, viruses, and ideas... Response also co-signed "Code 98" with Pliskin and, as the title could suggest, they dusted off a weaponry of sonorities (including those lovely drumfunk-driven bouncy rhythmical patterns) that will bring d'n'b lovers back to late 90ies. Last but not least, even if it's the tune that open A-side, "Interstate" by Duncan Busto aka Spirit is likewise vintage - I don't hear a so pervasively massive usage of flanger since ages - but similarly energetic. Happy 50th ingredient!

Gregor Tresher: Quiet Distortion

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 12 2016
Artist: Gregor Tresher
Title: Quiet Distortion
Format: CD
Label: Break New Soil
Rated: *****
Three years after the last album "Nightcolors", Gregor Tresher is back on his own label Break New Soil with "Quiet Distortion". Born as a DJ in Frankfurt in the early '90s, Tresher has constantly worked on his own sound, starting in the '00s when he was making music under the Sniper Mode moniker. Tresher fame risen with two EPs released by Datapunk: "Still" and "Neon". Also his remix of Sven Vath's "Komm" and his contribution to the Cocoon compilation "Full Range Madness" helped him getting a wider audience. This new album "Quiet Distortion", contains twelve new tracks that mix techno and electronic music in a great way. Gregor worked really well by building rhythm layers with pounding kicks and syncopated beats which enrich so much the tracks mixing them with catchy melodies that make of this a release to enjoy on a wider palette. If "Numb" opens the album with a dark mysterious atmosphere, "Consistency" blink the eye to the dance floor with its crescendo and the in levare bass line. If the main title is a electronic dance tune, the following "Safehouse" is a minimal soft one with dry beats that create a nice contrast. "The Kraken" is another dance floor monster and it's followed by other two similar ones: "Riot Gear" and "Depend". "Decades" is one of the tracks that along with "Numb" and the closing "Give It All Away", will be able to catch the attention of the audience that is less keen on techno (maybe the people that are into Warp Records). I really enjoyed "Quiet Distortion" and with different listenings you'll be able to catch all its qualities, starting from the nice cover made by 3D-artist Dennis Richter.

Pr3snt: Rakish

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 07 2016
Artist: Pr3snt
Title: Rakish
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ghosthall
Rated: *****
Out on Ghosthall, a relative new label coming from Switzerland and Lithuania, "Rakish", the new EP by Pr3snt is ready to hit the alternative dancefloors. The duo coming from Zurich and formed by Vasco Bachmann and Flurin Gishamer was active in the business since ten years but in 2013 they decided to make their own music and, since then, they released music on Yoruba Records, Hive Audio, Click Records and their own Ghosthall. The EP contains four original tunes plus a remix of the main track made by Lithuanian deep house project called 0rfeo. The EP stands out for its mix of techno and minimal house where melody and sound richness are the roots elements of their sound. Pr3snt know how to satisfy your will to dance as well as feeding your ears with nice tunes where the alternation of rhythms and melodies. If the opening "Arp Test" is a nice dark techno tune, "Boundless" (which is born from a collaboration with Zurich club dj Grauer) has lighter mood with a mix of techno and electro. If "Sunsad" will please the lovers of early Moderat, "Rakish" will satisfy your will of pure Berlin style techno. Orfeo is closing this digital release by destructuring it giving to it a deep house flavor. Check it here

The Phineas Incarnation: Liquid Karma

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 07 2016
Artist: The Phineas Incarnation (@)
Title: Liquid Karma
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
The Phineas Incarnation is Phineas Brady from Iowa City, Iowa, and 'Liquid Karma' is his project's debut album. He calls it Progressive Metal/Ambient, but that's not exactly the genre(s) I would place it in. There's no doubt the music on 'Liquid Karma' is progressive, but metal, I think not. To me, for metal you need guitar(s), and there are none here, as it's all synths & drums. Progressive jazz electronica might be a better tag. Two things should be noted- Brady is only 17, and he's a drummer. You'd know the latter immediately upon hearing this, but you'd never know the former without reading about him. For a teenager, this work is an astounding feat, but I don't judge by age, only talent, which Phineas seems to have in abundance. He makes no bones that 'Liquid Karma' was enabled by Reason 6.0, but who isn't using some sort of computer software these days to realize their electronic musical visions. The Phineas Incarnation uses a lot of arpeggiation on 'Liquid Karma'; in fact, that's the main modus operadi employed with the synths, not exclusively, but it's presence is a major factor in the music. As for the drumming, I'm not sure if it's actually played, programmed, or a combination of the two. One thing is certain, he's quite adept at it whatever the case.

The album consits of 9 tracks with a unifying theme- "the concept of eternal motion; the cycle of cosmic growth and decay, evolution and involution." The album opens with "Void: Emergence" with light, sequenced synths (some arpeggiated, of course) before the ferocious proggy drumming comes in. The timing nuances are impressive, and so is the compositional quality of this opening track. "Void: Design" takes it even further into prog-jazz-rock territory, this time the sequenced sythn seems less arpeggiated but has a mechanical element to begin with. Other melodic lines grow out of it, with a stuttery bass holding down the bottom. Phineas brings it into breakbeat territory (old school, I might add) after a ferocious drum battery then melodic synth pads support the piano-like arpeggios of the melody. All the while interesting time changes are taking place but only support, never subvert the melody. I've heard may a keyboard-oriented prog-rock band that aren't half as good as this! "Life: Quasimortality" opens with a rapid blippy arpeggio over subtle synth pad before some hard prog cooking. Phineas uses bass more as accenting stabs than a bass player would normally do. The track goes through a variety of rhythmic and synth changes playing with dissonace, yet retaining a melodic quality. One thing I noticed - Phineas seems to love cymbal bashing almost as much as Keith Moon at times. There's a portion on this track where a pretty synth arpeggio melody backed by organ presents a very lovely passage. The drums lay out for "Life: One Becomes Two" with beautiful ambient synth pads and the eventual arpeggios, which is the only rhythmic component in the track. "Life: The Divine Paradox" begins with an urgently climbing bass sounding like a later day King Crimson rhythm section jam session. Phineas adds ascending piano chords with a following synth to the mix then stops cold and synth arpeggio, synth pads stutter-bass take it in a different direction, yet still ascending until it stops. Then crazy fast arpeggios, sample and hold style, herald in the next section, like ELP's 'Tarkus' but twice as fast. Jeez- where'd that come from?

Fortunately, Phineas slows it down a tad for "Life: Birth of Omniscience" with some calming ambient synth pads. The calm doesn't last for long though as weird breakbeat percussive elements emulate strange creatures. The cymbals keeping time on the downbeat weren't particularly to my likeing here; I would have chosen something else. More sequenced arpeggios lead into the next (heavier) section, then a very prog-rock section interspersed with, and finally concluding on ambient synth pads. After some introductory synth arpeggio "Truth: Ego Death" begins hard and heavy with a rabid, bass-led killer progression, dissolving momentarily into dreamy arpeggios, then blasts back into rapid sequencing with high speed locomotive drumming, and a light little melody line. Seems incongruous, but it works. After a strange staccato break, the track finds it's happy place in a pretty mid-tempo pattern, and ironically enough, I'm reminded of Happy the Man here. It's really sweet. Phineas builds some nice tension with a rhythmic single note sequence with a prog-jazz melody laid over the top. Ambient pads add nice texture, then it fades into wind-chimey ambience which carries through to the end. Final track, "Truth: I, Infinity" begins with machine-gun sequenced synth before going into some crazy alternating ascending/descending synth lines, then calms down with some beautiful synth pads before the drums come in. The track then proceeds to go through a variety of progressions and changes before drifiting out on a cloud of tonal ambience. Wow!

It's hard to imagine another band or artist that could achieve this. Think Bill Bruford and Philip Glass with synths programmed by Larry Fast and Tony Levin sitting in on bass. Then again, this is sui gereris, it's own duck so to speak. While 'Liquid Karma' is a remarkable achievement that all who enjoy progressive electronica should hear, there are a few things I would advise The Phineas Incarnation to consider in its next outing. Lay back on the crash cymbals in keeping time; cut down on arpeggios for melodic content and and use more non-repetitive melodies; and give the bass more melodic freedom. This kid is on fire though, and his next work is likely to burn down the house!

Bone: Radiation 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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May 28 2016
Artist: Bone (@)
Title: Radiation EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Faded Music (@)
Rated: *****
Recently landed on Poland-based imprint Faded Music owned by Ukrainian producer Fade, the first solo release of this year by Estonian producer Marek Ratassepp aka Bone could easily meets the likes of the followers of producers like Fanu, Klute, Commix and The Upbeats, as you can easily understand since the listening of the opening tune "Brawl", where his machines seem to channel ghostly howls and stealthy draughts over noise disturbances on well-greased percussive gears. The air got even more rarefied in the very first seconds of "Form And Void", where only a precisely cut groove shakes the elastic structure of its rhythmical body before the sudden raid of laser beams and mechanical forms fill the void! Skirting junk sonorities by finely twinkling melodic pins and hovering pads on the title track "Radiation", Marek gives the very best of his art of filling spacey sonic spheres by flowing particles of amen breaks in the excellent "Pulsate", the best moment of this release. Check it out.

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