Music Reviews

Eric Maltz: Pathway

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 07 2018
Artist: Eric Maltz
Title: Pathway
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Flower Myth
New York-based Eric Maltz describes himself as a producer and pianist foremost and is a relative newcomer to techno, but from this 3-track 12” you wouldn’t tell. Here are three confident if straightforward bits of gentle techno that sound like they’ve come from somebody who’s been working in the genre for many years- in fact, if anything there’s a suggestion of lethargy and going-through-the-motions about these.

The title track is the strongest, with a simple slightly-sawtoothed synth melody dancing back and forth over a steady groove. 808-ish style rapid clapping and a bassline sounding like low piano notes give proceedings a decidedly late 80’s flavour.

“Ah-Shu-De-Ohu” revolves around some stuttered vocal samples looping round, which personally I’m not that enamoured with, I’m all for stuttering and experimentation but there’s something about this result that just doesn’t grab me. For the first three minutes it feels like it’s building to something, but that something never really arrives.

On the B-side, “Line Through” is a mellower affair of slightly balearic chords and gradually ebbing plinky chords swimming through reverb and delay over a steady-as-clockwork rhythm.

It’s smooth, quite satisfying, but it won’t really stand out in a crowd- a sort of everyday techno.

HMOT: Permanent Imbalance

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 31 2018
Artist: HMOT
Title: Permanent Imbalance
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Oqko
Siberian HMOT’s five-track, 22-minute “Permanent Imbalance” EP has the sonic properties of dark, raw techno- sharp-edged percussive electronic hits, super-short noise cuts, distorted industrial rumbles, EQ’ed hammering and dark synthetic minor chord pads.

But rhythmically and structurally, the title track is anything but 4/4 or DJ friendly. Playing with counterpointed time signatures, sudden drops and abrupt speed changes, on the rare occasion that these tracks do end up forming a techno-esque structure it feels more like coincidence than design.

The other four tracks explore the same tenets but in different recipes. Second track “Dieback Machinery” is on slightly more familiar ground but is still a wilfully obtuse bit of techno seemingly on a mission to catch you by surprise. “No Innocence” is angrier than it is quirky, playing nicely against the slower and more atmospherics-led “Logos”. Final track “Collapse” sounds like the harshest-sounding drum and bass has been triply deconstructed to leave only the fills, the warps and the far edges of the sonics.

It’s considered and intricate stuff with a very solid energy, and if you like your electronica dark and very broken-sounding, this is worth checking out.

Tom Blip: Rez / Crazy Arps

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 30 2018
Artist: Tom Blip
Title: Rez / Crazy Arps
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Paradise Palms
Tom Blip offers up a couple of warm slow house music instrumentals, nicely stripped back.

Toddling along at something like 110bpm, both tracks use SH101 acid noises as a jazzy centrepiece, bouncing quite drolly over a crisp steady walking beat, with a few subtle pads (and, unsurprisingly, a few arpeggios in “Crazy Arps”). “Rez” has the slightly squelchy sound of the two but otherwise they’re a solid pair.

It’s mild, feel-good and inoffensive, potentially a little wallpapery and very Spotify-friendly but well baked for what they are.

Bawrut: 4x4

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 27 2018
Artist: Bawrut
Title: 4x4
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Ransom Note Records
Madrid-based Bawrut offers up a 4-pack of quirky, bouncy techno, where simple one-note synth basslines and 4/4 drum patterns are the DJ-friendly vanilla base for a variety of playful electronic wibbles that dance over the top.

Lead track “Three Sounds”’s bleepy riff borders on novelty but it’s the kind of hook that should keep it coming back for repeat plays. “More Cowbell”, referencing but not sampling the apparently quite litigious Saturday Night Live’s Christopher Walken sketch, predictably adds a cowbell layer to the fairly tribal rhythm pattern, over which a quite synthwavey bassline slowly grows.

“I Hear Voices” takes sampled vocal ooohs of different lengths and plays a catchy melody with them over mellow house groove of long lush pads and the occasional spoken-word sample of somebody who sounds like Björk saying “I hear voices”.

“Ghettoscar” is something of an odd one out, eschewing the usual DJ-friendly building intro in favour of showcasing a folksy sample of African chanting with its own inbuilt rhythm, which is treated quite reverentially and not cut up very much while the drums and acid bassline slowly get added.

A really enjoyable set of four melodic, positive techno tracks with a nice sense of fun.

Kalbata: Yamaha Acid

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 26 2018
Artist: Kalbata
Title: Yamaha Acid
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Brush & Broom
The press shot for this release puts a TB-303 centre-stage in the image, and this is a solid indicator of what you’ll hear. Here are four acid workout instrumentals, with the bass tones centre stage, slowly tweaking and evolving over steady house beats that drop layers in and out with measured composure and DJ-friendly timing. Cold sparse synth notes and some longer meandering pad sounds decorate the top end.

Think Hardfloor, but with less emphasis on the ‘hard’. There’s a timelessness to it all, or a datedness to it depending on how you look at it. Sonically there’s very little to distinguish the four tracks- “Suzuki” has slightly harder percussion, “Toyota” is a bit less clubby in tone, but there’s very little in it.

The tracks may be named after motorbike manufacturers- or, as I prefer to look at it, three manufacturers of sensible small city cars and one manufacturer of good pianos- but there’s no roaring sounds or racing urgency here- this is all steady foot-tapping fayre.

I’m fond of the classic 303 sound so this release can’t really go wrong, and while it has to be scored as well below average for originality, it’s still a set of lovely warm grooves that will put a smile on your face.

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