Music Reviews

Bawrut: 4x4 (Remixes)

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 29 2018
Artist: Bawrut
Title: 4x4 (Remixes)
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Ransom Note Records
I praised the “4x4” EP as a solid pack of melodic, positive techno tracks with a nice sense of fun back in April, so I welcomed a six-pack of remixes. This pack doesn’t disappoint- neither does it particularly amaze either, but that’s not really the point of this dependable 43-minute pack of DJ friendly laidback positive house.

Lauer’s remix of “I Feel Voices” respects the core vocal ooohs of the original and gives us something bright and feel-good. The legendary Jimpster is always dependable for a remix and his take on “More Cowbell” is again quite faithful, slightly more pulse-driven and dancefloor friendly, with engaging twisty speedchanging FX on the breakdown that add extra character.

Sano’s version of “Ghettoscar” features some nice just-off beatwork that at first sounds like it’s tripping over itself but ends up complimenting the tribal samples and slightly more complex groove rather nicely, before Lossy’s take on the EP’s original opener “Three Sounds” takes the original’s bordering-on-novelty bleepy riff and puts it into a fitting electro context with an exceptionally synthwave-y breakdown in a way that’s light and likeable.

Timothy Clerkin’s take on “I Feel Voices” is the most radical departure, departing the dancefloor in favour of atmospheric slow drumless synthwave with shades of Jean-Michel Jarre about it, anachronistic in this context but in its own way really rather good. Marlon Hoffstadt’s version of “More Cowbell” is appropriately named the ‘aloe vera’ mix as it’s a soothing balm and inoffensively mild house rework with no sting- and it has to be said, not very much cowbell either, but never mind.

A high-quality if not particularly diverse remix pack warranted from a strong original EP.

Marlon Hoffstadt: Human Interpretations Part One

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 28 2018
Artist: Marlon Hoffstadt
Title: Human Interpretations Part One
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Midnight Themes
Hoffstadt’s “Themes From My Future Self” was released in January and I called it “short of unique selling points but well-made, smooth mid-set filler”, but now Hofstadt has roped in six of his friends to do remix work on his productions to, you might think, broaden the scope beyond steady, sparse, arguably somewhat flat instrumental house grooves. But it would seem that these friends of Hofstadt’s are friends due to their very similar taste in music, because the breadth you find on some remix EP’s is not being injected here.

Johannes Albert’s and Bawrut’s mixes of “The Power Of Now” both keep things firmly in downtempo techno territory, with slow builds, soft kicks and gently repeating percussion patterns oozing familiarity. The Bawrut mix opens up rather more with a sudden twist of jungle SFX and some riser drama, giving it a bit more of an edge. Opal Sunn’s take on “Chemical Romance” has shades of acid in its built that play nicely against the jazzy smoothness of the soft breakdown.

The second half of the pack is made up of three mixes of “Cycling Since 94”, but surprisingly this is where the most diversity ends up being found. The Gramcy remix is an urgent-sounding bit of proto-techno with a distinctly 90’s flavour, in a good way, while Shun’s remix brings the brighter more melodic elements to the fore. Leaf Troup’s eleven-minute version winds us back to the steadier house rhythms of the first half, but with an appealing vaguely funky bassline that keeps you attracted.

It’s not one of the most diverse remix packages you’ve ever heard, for sure, but it rolls nicely.

Whitesquare: In Light

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 27 2018
Artist: Whitesquare
Title: In Light
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Tropical Animals
The team behind Italian club nights Tropical Animals have branched out into their own record label, with this 3-track deep house package from fellow countryman Whitesquare as its debut.

“Limitation” chugs on nicely, a gradually unfolding set of soft beats, plenty of high-end synth pads and arpeggios and a squelchy, classic-sounding acid bass note. The simplicity of it cuts deep, it’s uneventful smooth and pleasant.

“Velvet Room” is a bit brighter, with some meandering synth keys that feel improvised over the top, giving a slightly jazzy touch that replaces the acid. A slightly thicker deep house groove rolls calmly underneath.

“Pressing Points” has a slightly more pulsing synth groove to it, and a catchy and melodic bassline that is the package’s most ‘pop’ moment, but even with that and some soft tribal-like percussive hits don’t raise the energy level too high.

It’s a really smooth, effortless 3-tracker of gentle beats perfect for relaxed sunny days. It lacks the unique selling point or novelty that would propel it any great distance, but if you’re looking for deep house that’s mellow and warm, put this on your radar.

Colossio: Moto

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 26 2018
Artist: Colossio
Title: Moto
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Calypso Records
Fernando Luna here uses his established alias Colossio to put out a pack of 4 tracks (3 on the vinyl) and 2 remixes (one of them digital-only) that have a stylish and fresh take on rolling house grooves, keeping the tempo firmly measured but with smart doses of attitude and invention that keep thing really interesting.

“Moto” has a straight, arguably ordinary house groove but some subtly muted rock guitar chord snippets and the sound of revving motorbike that has been twisted and filtered to become both a riser and a form of melody in its own right are a really nice touch. The Man Power remix is a really strong reworking, levering in just a hint of glam rock groove to the rhythm pattern and making the top end effects harsher and more expressive, while the Jonathan Kusuma remix brightens it up, putting more emphasis on the melodic parts and vocal pads and making it quite breezy with some happy clapping.

The other tracks are along similar lines but arguably a little less distinctive. “Fe” has a slightly more road-movie atmosphere, deep and pensive, though the odd duck-like vocal percussive noise is not like any road movie I remember- and the sinister (Mexican?) voices in the breakdown are seriously dark. “Ansia” makes strong use of a bit of sinister-sounding psychedelic guitar noodling, with a nice build to gunfire-snares that rolls well. “Paranoia”, the digital exclusive, is a touch more overtly synthwave in its sounds, again with just a hint of rock power pushing the beat.

There’s a lovely, walking-beat flavour to this 41-minute pack that’s gentle and quite endearing.

SixTurnsNine: Spinning Numbers

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 25 2018
Artist: SixTurnsNine
Title: Spinning Numbers
Format: CD EP
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
SixTurnsNine is Philip Akot (strings); Lutz Bauer (keys/programming/electronics); and Anja Trodler (vocals) formed in 2015 in Dusseldorf. The genre is trip hop/electronica with an experimental edge. I believe the 'Spinning Numbers' EP is their debut release with only six tracks (and one of them a remix of one other track) clocking in at a little less than a half-hour. The musical ambiance of 'Spinning Numbers' is minimal and stark. Even though Portishead sometimes delivered some fairly stark trip hop, this is way more extreme than anything they ever did. The music is eerie almost to the point of being creepy. Trodler's voice, while melodic is cold with a touch of caterwaul to it. Mournful. Nothing moves quickly in SixTurnsNine's world. It's a slow, almost oozing sort of sludge that just flows over you suffocating any kind of joy or good feeling you might have had previously. While everything on 'Spinning Numbers' is haunting (or haunted), "Threat in the Neck" is particularly unnerving, perhaps because it's just so close to the edge of normal, with a beat to boot. It even gets a remix by Spherical Disrupted, which is kind of puts a completely different spin on it. I think this is the kind of music Jarboe would really like; it's just so twisted I have to recommend it.

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