Music Reviews

Paulor: Spaceship

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 07 2019
Artist: Paulor
Title: Spaceship
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Life And Death
Mexican artist Paulor’s first release on Life And Death is built from two steady floor-friendly house tracks that take the underlying vibe of late 70’s and early 80’s synthy-electro-disco, and gently fuse it with more contemporary-sounding techno and acid sounds.

The title track is instrumental save for the robot-effected “spaceship” phrase repeated at the start of most sections. “Planet Gold” is the more relaxed of the two, with a more gradual progressive outlook and some sparkly arpeggios.

After that there’s a generous helping of big-name remixes of the title track, all of which hit the mark with confidence. Vitalic’s remix tweaks some of the noises and elements, making it a clappier house affair, but keeps the underlying disco attitude very much the same. Fango’s ‘The Suppa Robot Dancer’ remix is a highlight, upping the old-school electro element by a high factor and reveling in breakdance territory, bringing the squelchy bass to the fore.

JD Twitch’s mix focuses on spacey synths, adding more complex percussion and an extra NASA sample and tweaking the core bass groove into something a bit more nasty, or at least sinister. Superpitcher’s remix has two versions, with ‘space trip’ reminiscent of old indulgent 90’s progressive house journeys, eleven minutes of gradual shifting and synth-immersion that studiously avoids any great sense of urgency before devolving into near-ambient territory at the end, and ‘space strip’ which, instead of the dub version you might be expecting, is more like a “part 2” that starts in the hollow synth ambiences that the version mix left us with, and explores them more indulgently, and perhaps less effectively, for a six minute bonus.

Don’t let the frankly bizarre choice of cover artwork put you off, this is a really solid pack of long journeying house tunes, with a nice variety of remixes that keeps things consistent but not too narrow. If you like your instrumental house very sci-fi and laidback, you’ll enjoy this pack a lot.

Jörg Piringer: Darkvoice

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 06 2019
Artist: Jörg Piringer
Title: Darkvoice
Format: CD + Download
Label: Transacoustic Research
Jörg Piringer (of The Vegetable Orchestra)’s “darkvoice” album is pitched as a dark commentary on modern communication surveillance and the act of obfuscating vocal sounds beyond the boundaries of comprehension- all quite sinister and sombre.

The audio that comes out of it, however, seems almost bright by comparison. Though it’s made entirely from digitally manipulated vocal sounds (and “sinister typography”, though I’m unclear what that means), it has a sonic palette that’s electronica bordering on dark slow techno. Steady and crisp rhythm patterns, sometimes industrial-ish but never particularly bass-heavy, are a structural skeleton for low hummed bass, thin higher-end melodic chords, and spontaneously squelchy and glitchy percussive impulses.

Tracks like “peed” and the broody “dig” make the vocal sourcing more self-evident, centring around single vocal sounds that are played with but still identifiable as human, while tracks like “p a” devolve the sound beyond that point of recognition.

It isn’t all happiness and light- tracks like “bbbbb” or the extra-glitchy “raacc” have a decidedly raw edge to them- but it’s offset by pieces like “el sys” which, with its meandering bouncy melody, recalls the fun side of early synthesizer experimentation. Final piece “hoit”, after a tense intro, is almost playful by the end.

Other highlights include the odd three-step of “d-singe”, and the almost dancefloor-friendly groove of “teew”.

Overall, conceptually angsty it might well be, but the reality of it is a dark but detailed foot-tapper from the interesting edges of experimental techno. It’s got a unique character that’s worth sampling.

Locust: Green

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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May 17 2019
Artist: Locust
Title: Green
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Medical Records
This second release in a series of EP’s from Mark Van Hoen as Locust is a four-pack of 130bpm-ish techno with a relentless, semi-aggressive and purposeful bent. It makes heavy use of chiptune-style and lo-bit synth sounds but rounds it off with thick rich kicks and percussion sounds to fill the sonic space and sound current.

Both “Promise” and “Current” make strong use of the trick of having some of the synth arpeggiators and patterns running at different pattern lengths to the 4/4 beat, meaning the root of the melody is constantly shifting and making relatively simple repetitive patterns suddenly more complex in just one move. “Staircase” is more melody heavy, taking a six-note melody and transposing it at unusual and tension-inducing intervals to keep you on your toes.

“Arch Enemy” is the black sheep of the pack, switching to a lighter rhythm that’s in the direction (slightly) of downtempo, upping the emphasis on melody and with good use of vocal ahhh noises for character and texture.

Medical Records continues to grow a strong track record of techno releases with a twist and this is another solid example.

VV.AA.: Tombstone Trance Vol. 1

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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May 02 2019
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Tombstone Trance Vol. 1
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Stabudown Recordings
Stabudown’s compilation album isn’t purely ‘trance’, in any generational use of the word, but a fairly broad collection of almost-entirely-instrumental EDM that spans synthwave, modern electro, synth-industrial, techno and, to a lesser degree, trance in the more early 90’s, less mainroom hands-in-the-air sense. Initially there’s a musical commonality that comes from some heavy and not-just-4/4 percussive elements that provide most of the tracks with a distinct bang, but as the tracks progress, things get more beat-free, introspective and spacious. The result is an earnest pack of tunes that’s so remarkably consistent and planned out that at times you could believe this is an artist album.

TML’s “Goshun” is one of the heavier pieces, thick kicks with stuttering vocal sounds, while CLAWS’s “Scrappy Industrious F.U.” also has the banging attitude but with a production approach that’s so bright it ends up feeling feel-good possibly by accident. Kerridge’s “Death Is Upon Us”, Long Bastard’s “Send” and Bad Tracking’s “Arnos Veil” form a mini-industrial section (the second of those with some vocals, just to mix things up a bit).

Highlights include Koehler’s “Beyond Andromeda”, a deceptively grouping of semi-breakbeat and playful high synth arpeggios that’s strangely infectious. East Side Ancients’ upbeat but coarse-edged dub track “New Happy Fortune” is oddly nostalgic, but in a good way, and it runs nicely into the deeper reverbing delays of Grey People’s “Mourning Etiquette”. This in turn flowers smoothly into the ethereal tones and heartbeats of “Absolute Other” by Organic Dial. The two final tracks, from Vanity Productions and The Rancor Index, complete the descent into downtempo ambience, bordering on drone, and the journey is nicely complete.

It’s a well curated compilation that’s more thoughtful and diverse, and less in-your-face, then the artwork and branding may possibly suggest. Definitely the sound of life at the more interesting side of EDM.

Unsub vs Alexis K: The Misadventures of Pilbourne Delaney

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 28 2019
Artist: Unsub vs Alexis K
Title: The Misadventures of Pilbourne Delaney
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Pure Heart Dirty Mind Records / NexGen (@)
Rated: *****
Amidst many bass-driven music, one of the most interesting is this album by Uk-born, New Zealand-based Lily Luck or this apparent collaborations of Alexis K (under this moniker, she became very popular for her dubstep version of Linkin Park's popular song "What I've Done", which was played almost 7.5 million times on YouTube) and Unsub (a moniker who managed to reach the charts by many good hits), two of her artistic identities, that she almost consider as two different soul sharing the same body. Besides these details that could meet the interest of psychologist obsessed by patients suffering from multiple personality disorder (not so rare between artists, fortunately or unfortunately), she (or they) managed to do a very awesome output, that is going to delight many listeners of hybrid forms of drum'n'bass. To be honest the listening of the opening title-track “The Misadventures of Pilbourne Delaney” (someone could think it's another personality... who knows?) made me think to a clone or something shaping the sound pattern of The Upbeats, considering the fact these well-known and appreciated dnb knights should be neighbours of Lily, and such an impression was just slightly blunted after the listening of the following track "April 12", as it could surmise many melodies of the wonderful album "Nobody's Out There" by the partners in art Dylan Jones and Jeremy Glenn. Things become more and more interesting on the dark-tinged kinda dubbed piano-driven ragtime of "Sophies Breakfast Blues" and on the following "Blindsided", where Lily and her inner friends managed to forge an elegant fusion of that dark-jazz that musicians like Ian Simmonds used to spread and cinematic nuances. The attractive sonic palette of "Candles Under The Sun", that could ideally swagger around the act of chewing gums by a cyber cowboy, get partially eclipsed by the recipes of the following "Osiris", where the distorted swirling on a synth sax is the element that mainly grabs the attention over a flat melody, and the likewise flat dubbish "State Of Play". The quality level dramatically rises on "Empathy" - a track that seems to squeeze the best juices by the more boring episodes that precede it... - and "Blushing Pilgrim", a frantic drum'n'bass track whose sonorities could delight the fans of many Planet Mu champions. Similarly interesting the trippy "Dysania", the lullaby of "Soul Traffic", the mad breaks of "Alive (VIP)" before the adventurous "Wild Tigers I Have Known" acting like an outro and a confession at the same time.

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