Music Reviews

Netherworld: Zastrugi

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 26 2015
Artist: Netherworld
Title: Zastrugi
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Netherworld is classified as a 'techno glacial album' confirming the aesthetic focus of this label in an imaginary made out of polar landscape where iceberg is one of his icons.
The deep and dark drone of 'Mapsuk' opens this release and slowly evolves, rather than in an ambient track, in a techno track when the beat emerges and became the gravity centre of the track. 'Bergie Seltzer' is really close, in concept, to best moments of Biosphere while 'SÃérac' tries to eliminate, for a while, the beat for the construction of a subtler soundscape. 'Dry Andes' is a concentrate and fast track more focused on impact than the rest. 'Uikka' closes this release with a more complex rhythmic part closer to the first Autechre but without the details on timbre and with more vehemence.
This is not a easy release to rate as it has as obscure elements as remarkable ones; perhaps is a transition release. Fans will love it but the average listener of this genre will remain puzzled. It's worth a listen.

Glacial23: s/t

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 20 2015
Artist: Glacial23 (@)
Title: s/t
Format: 12"
Label: Savage Quality Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Glacial23 is Sam Harmon from Cleveland, Ohio, an electronic music producer, instrument builder, noise explorer, etc., and this self-titled 12" is his vinyl debut, although I think he's previously done other things with Glacial23. The record is five tracks - two on the A side, three on the B side. The digital download gives you an extra three tracks, but if you like what I'm going to tell you about the record, you'd better not hesitate because the website says there are only five copies left. This is an entirely instrumental work. The album starts off with "...the last evenings of summer", a mid-tempo number with a repetetive bass line and fairly straightforward drum machine. Light filtered synth chords permeate the mix that seem more for atmosphere than melody. Burbling sequenced synth is also in evidence. It's a Kraftwerkian type of minimalism employed throughout. Very Euro. "Warning Star" picks up the pace a bit and has a typical German techno vibe, with claps in the forefront. Overtly sequenced minimal synth and a strong beat, a club-worthy track. "White Cloud" keeps up the beat and employs lighter echoed sequenced synth, then a complementary lower mid-range sequence. Snare-play appears occasionally, and so far, this is the breakout from minimalism in terms of texture; it's still pretty minimal as far as form goes. "Cheval de Frise" starts with kicks, hats and claps, then sequenced filtered bass. Synth chords provide a hint of melody, and other synth sounds arise to fill in the gaps. For some reason I'm reminded of Marty Rev's (1/2 of Suicide) solo recordings, although it's been quite a while since I've heard them. Last track on the record, "Laminar Techno" is Acid Techno, pure and simple, and that's all there is to say about that. For those more interested in the digital download, I might as well cover those tracks. "Down" keeps true to the style and form of what came before but is a bit more eerie. "taperunner" is a little under 2 minutes of thick, low, growling filtered synth, no beat, no rhythm. "Down (alternate AB-Version)" is a remix of the previous "Down" obviously, sounding even more ominous than the original, and slower, and consequently longer too. It's somewhat noisy, and I found the claps really annoying this go-round, mixed up, while the spooky synth was submerged. In my estimation, the extra track were a bit superfluous. If you like minimal Acid Techno or Acid House, go for the vinyl. Personally, I prefer music that has a bit more substance, and to me, this sounds just so 25 years ago, but for those of you feeling nostalgic, you might want to check this out.

Birdcage: Shogyomujo

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 15 2015
Artist: Birdcage
Title: Shogyomujo
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Shabu Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Unlike most progressive techno producers, who are mainly digging into anxious or frightening emotional and spiritual territories in order to drain some inspiration, Sapporo-based Birdcage taps into "The Tales of the Heike" (13th century), the oldest known novel of unknown autorship. In particular, he tried to turn the concept of "Shogyo Mujo" (a Buddhist term which could be translated as "impermanence") into sound, an idea which was going to become a topical aspect of Japanese culture and got developed on the final part of the story of samurai Heike family. It sounds evoked by the gentle hovering of sonic elements after five minutes of bass-driven pressure - the genuine and proper stoic element of this release - on the initial "Shorea Robusta", a sort of hybrid between progressive techno and Gamelan music, as well as by the electronic whispers by which Birdcage gilds the wiggling jelly of "Atma"'s slightly distorted hypnotic basslines and the mid-tempo break of the granular techno tune "OP-88 Transience", whose unstable balance bites the dust after more and more anxiously chaotic swirls. The three reximes that got included in the release are more dancefloor-oriented so that the elements of "Shorea Robusta" got spin-dried on the stunning tribal blurs of "Alternate Version" and get closer to psychedelic trance bangers on the remix by Jesse 'Borealis' Somfay, while Scott 'Avus' Edwards, another esquire from Sharu stable, remove the nostalgic peel from the original version of "Atma" in order to highlight the dynamic and Acid-driven (I'm referring to the notorious music software) nature of the track on his remix.

Fre4knc: Chain of Command/Sinjek

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 07 2015
Artist: Fre4knc
Title: Chain of Command/Sinjek
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Plasma Audio
Rated: *****
The third release from Melbourne-based label Plasma Audio, which seems to focus on quality rather than quantity, got signed by brilliant Dutch dj and producer Bertran Van Den Hoff aka Fre4knc - he already signed many good tunes and breaks on renowned labels like Dispatch, Samurai and Noisia's imprint Invisible as well as a plenty of great parties in Groeningen and followed broadcast on -. He shoot two banging tracks, whose style is in between the above-mentioned Noisia, Black Sun Empire and the darkest stuff from producers like Loxy and Icicle. The first seconds of "Chain of Command" could let you think the track will move towards atmospheric drum'n'bass before the pattern begins to roar like a cyber lion by means of roasting pinwheels of hi-hats and kick drums, electronic spit-up and fast stacks of churning stop'n'gos. Fre4knc's artillery fires got increasingly dark and curt on the following track "Sinjek", but it's likewise punchy in spite of a shabbiest list of recipes.

Dexta: Tempest Dub / Mukky Riddim

 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 07 2015
Artist: Dexta (@)
Title: Tempest Dub / Mukky Riddim
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: None60
Rated: *****
London-based producer Chris Royle, mostly known for his moniker Dexta and as one of the most active heads behind well-known label Diffrent Music, the label of the pink giraffe which became one of the most interesting in the overcrowded bass-driven music scene, recently landed on None60, the imprint by the excellent d'n'b duo Silent Dust, by means of a couple of good tracks, which swirl on the boundaries between electronic dub and drum'n'bass. Both the title and the heavily echoed vocal sample of "Tempest Dub" are the same of the track by which the brilliant Brighton-based duo SpectraSoul made their debut, but the sound of Dexta is quite diff(e)rent as youc an imagine if you followed some of his recent releases on his own imprint as distorted low-frequencies and puffy synths makes the dub stepping really viscous and catchy, while the speed significantly increases on the balanced dosage of hitting claps, blunt beats and bass worms of the following "Mukky Riddim".

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