Music Reviews


 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Aug 06 2017
Artist: HOM
Title: A$X
Format: 12"
Label: Isounderscore (@)
Rated: *****
HOM is the solo occult techno project of Ashley P. Svn from Seattle, Washinton and a debut release under this name as far as I can tell. Svn has released and performed as a part of Olympian psydust group Thee Source as well as the UV Acid project across the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest over the years. 'A$X' clocks in at 27:30 total time in just three tracks - "Xanoptor," "Xeremonial," and "XYN." All three tracks explore a different trancey groove carried throughout each piece with subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) synth and rhythm variations. The grooves are okay, with "Xanoptor" possibly being the best, although the variations are more subtle than on the other two tracks. Although I have a great love of electronic music, I'm not a big techno guy as I've found it to be one of the less interesting electronic music genres. Still, HOM manages to maintain some level of fascination in each of the three pieces, albeit to varying degrees. Described on the one-sheet as "Pure live unapologetic psychic schism West Coast hardware acid," that might give technoheads all the justification they need to purchase this 12". The fact that it's on vinyl and limited to 250 copies might be some additional incentive. You can get it directly from San Francisco-based label Isounderscore.

Martin Jenkins: Dance Cave EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 27 2017
Artist: Martin Jenkins
Title: Dance Cave EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Medical Records
Some techno tracks are so deceptively simple that when you first start listening to them they feel very “instrumental techno by numbers”, just the standard formula of house beat, simple one-note bassline and faintly tribal percussion that slowly layers up, drops elements out to introduce some gentle chord pads exactly when you’re expecting them, and then gradually strips itself away to a predictable close. The four tracks on “Dance Cave EP” are like this.

But it would be doing them a disservice to slate them as predictable (even though they are) because that’s exactly what they’re designed to be. Steady, calming, slowly shifting but never challenging, these tracks do exactly what they set out to do. Under pseudonyms like Pye Corner Audio, Martin Jenkins has done some pretty esoteric stuff, but this is deliberately straight-faced, line-toeing classically structured techno- no more, no less.

The title track is sonically reminiscent of early 90’s trance, while “Horror Hole” is just a tad darker and more pounding. “Sub Space” has just a touch more urgency in its looping pattern. Final track “Your Love Is Crawling All Over Me” is just a touch more melodically ambitious, heading (very slightly) in a direction that feels like it would lend itself to a wistful vocal that isn’t there.

Nothing on here is a classic by any stretch of the imagination but if you’re collecting solid, reliable, middle-of-a-techno-set-friendly rhythms on vinyl, this is an easy one.

Maanwagen: Wagenpark

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 26 2017
Artist: Maanwagen
Title: Wagenpark
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Basserk (@)
“Wagenpark” is an EP of 5 radio-length slices of acid bigbeat and dark sample-stacked squelchy hip-hop. It evokes comparisons with Luke Vibert (particularly his Wagon Christ alias) and DJ Shadow, but it’s a little darker and more distorted. Sampled live drum loops roll under deep and funky basslines, while vocal snippets and jazzier instrumental elements pop in and out on top. Occasional scratches and fills keep the energy up.

The tracks are arranged alphabetically, but the sequencing kind of works. After the rather poppy light-stepping “Denkteek” comes the slightly more sparse, 70’s-tinged instrumental groove of “Dolksteek”. “Mandaat” has a full rap vocal on it and starts developing that electro-heavy breakbeat groove akin to what it’s sounded like when Chemical Brothers try doing hip-hop. “Wanbeleid” is a slower and quirkier appear revolving around a weird lethargic bassline on which some anachronistically rapid-fire toasting samples have been interjected. Final track “Welkoop” is the most Vibert-ish, revelling in analogue acid squelch with some atmospheric chords chugging along for good measure.

There’s not a lot out there that sounds like this at the moment. It’s full of character, endearingly a bit strange, and well worth checking out if you never agreed with the ‘four legs bad’ instruction that bigbeat is supposedly a dirty word.

The Negativity Bias: Whatever You Want

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 23 2017
Artist: The Negativity Bias (@)
Title: Whatever You Want
Format: CD
Label: Audiophob (@)
Rated: *****
A rather mysterious release with a serious lack of information, 'The Negativity Bias' is an electronic project by German music producer Chris Dupont (real name Christoph Lemke) and 'Whatever You Want' is the project's debut release. According to the Audiopho label, The Negativity Bias is "inspired by the musical output of SCUBA, Marcel Dettmann, Planetary Assault Systems and S.W.Z.K.," and "works as an emotional bridge between artist and listener. Warm Deep House structures are combined with cold effects known from the Industrial/Noise sector." Okay, well there are a lot of influences here in this cross-genre project - IDM, techno, psy-trance, quasi-industrial, etc. The beat-richness of the compositions make for some decent danceability, the techno aspect should please the technoheads, and the psy-trance element should delight the spacers. 'Whatever You Want' is likely a truer form of IDM than most stuff that gets called IDM. There is little attention to melody in these compositions, and rhythm is the dominant factor. After the jittery opening track titled "Black Coloured Trauma" most of the following tracks take on a groove-oriented motif that generally stays throughout when the beats begin. (The wobbly, synth-effluvetic "Neon Light Force" is one exception, but even that has its own groove.) I should mention that Mr. Lemke is no newcomer to the scene, being involved in projects such as Kleqq, MRDTC, Mr. Dupont, NordarR, and others. One track, "Sweet Little Pershing" features Blac Kolor, a likely enough ally for this type of music. 'Whatever You Want' is the kind of music you'd expect to hear at raves and at EDM clubs when the crowd is rally worked up. So if you're that kind of DJ, you should really check this out. Another exception though is the patently weird "The Wind Carries," a beatless track that goes through a number of strange permutations with industrial sounds and warped strings that sound like a sick mellotron. But most of the album is inspired beat-o-tronics meant to move your body and maybe even your mind. Not my favorite mix of genres, but exceptionally well done.

Rapoon: My Life as a Ghost

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 16 2017
Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: My Life as a Ghost
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
After "Rhiz", Zoharum reissues "My Life as a Ghost" which is a release based on the same principle but, instead of IDM, it's based upon hip-hop rhythmic structure and this mark a basic difference as, instead of being centered upon the beats, the samples are used to divert the attention from the beat.
So, the voice which starts "Adrift" marks the first part of the track while the second one uses drones and noises. "The Sky Was Blue" is an evocative soundscape based on loops. "Neyyatt" is a partial return to the territories of "Rhiz". With "Terrain Sounds" emerges the primary flaw of this release, as the beat fundamentally never change and the tracks are long it's neither hypnotic nor interesting; a static rhythm needs a wide musical movement, as in "Adrift" to be effective, and only in the final two minutes of the track this is achived. This lack marks the central part of this release with only the last two track "I Think I Was Happy", with his static foreground and his crescendo, and "Tell Charlene", with a clever use of samples, to try to raise the score of this release.
Usually the bonus cd is something avoidable but used to persuade collectors with the mirage of something unreleased, but this bonus cd is something different. As Robin Storey has constructed new tracks from the original tapes with new material, he has corrected the flaws of the original release so
"Vertical Moonlight" seems based upon one of the layer of "Terrain Sounds" buried in the mix and this time with a quiet first part, an hypnotic second one and the return of the beat of "Adrift" in the final part, the result is impressive. "Not Knowing" is basically a remix of "Adrift" with a more developed sound spectrum and more sound movement. "Tremors" is a remix of "Terrain Sounds" but this time the rhythmic structure is in the background so it sounds as a completely different track as the atmosphere is more present instead to be a sort of musical wallpaper. "What's Been Happening?" is the same process applied to "Tell Charlene". "In Marakkesh" takes elements from "A Strange Land" and " BIG land IN" but they are almost unrecognizable as they are blended with new material in what is perhaps the best track of this release. "Terminus Gris" reworks a fistful of samples in a short coda relinking to the industrial elements of the project.
While the original release is something only for collectors, the bonus cd is something really enjoyable and it's not so far away from the best material of this project as it could seem. Almost recommended.

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