Music Reviews

Sascha Funke: Acatenango

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 21 2018
Artist: Sascha Funke
Title: Acatenango
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: You And Your Hippie Friends
This is a three-pack of measured-tempo instrumental house from established producer Sascha Funke (stalwart of BPitch Control, sometimes on Kompakt). It’s got a leisurely and soft approach, simple pure-sounding bass notes rolling gently and effortlessly over crisp lightweight beats. The melody lines are a little bit retro and synthwave, but pleasant and light.

Despite being called “Aggravate”, the opening track is more likely to soothe- steady one-note bass under sparse, quite jazzy synth melodies and stepping, panning percussive patterns. Title track “Acatenango” showcases a quirky rising flute melody that will be quite divisive, some people enjoying the novelty, other people finding its weirdness a little too arch and not quite pleasant enough. “Surumu” has a more driving attitude, driven by squeaky staccato synth sounds with a refreshing degree of bounce and an oddball ‘ahhh’ melody line, and ends up being my favourite track of the bunch as a result.

The quirkier aspects of it might prove to be either its unique selling point or a turn-off depending on the audience, but this is a hypnotic and elegant pack of deep house tunes with some twists.

Cleveland: Tusk / Aku

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 11 2018
Artist: Cleveland
Title: Tusk / Aku
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: ESP Institute
Calling this an ‘EP’ is a misnomer- it’s two conventional soft instrumental house tracks, both clocking in just under seven minutes, with gentle, slightly broken beats and soft organic percussive sounds running under gentle jazzy keys, sweet plinky noises and skittish little sci-fi sounds. The two tracks have most of their elements in common, with “Aku” having a marginally greater sense of urgency in its groove, but barely so.

Sweet, faintly quirky but a little bit nothing-y, it’s a slick but quite forgettable bit of tempered mid-set mellowness.

C.A.R.: Pinned Down

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 08 2018
Artist: C.A.R.
Title: Pinned Down
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Ransom Note Records
The story so far: so after being very positive about Chloe Raunet’s album “Pinned” (““a blend of supremely confident post-punk swagger with electronica twiddles, steady-walking house beats and just a dash of synthwave”), I was equally keen, if not more so, on the first remix package “Pinned Up” (“not a single duff or flat remix in here, which is rare, so full marks for this one”). Now for stage three- the second remix album, milking a good album just that little bit further.

After the dancefloor-friendly offerings of the first remix album, this one is described as “an entirely different kettle of fish, taking Raunet’s compositions in a number of weird and wonderful directions”, and there’s some truth in that, but don’t expect utterly weird and wonderful reinterpretations- steady 4/4 house beats and DJ-friendly structures are still the order of the day almost without exception.

As with the first release, it’s the track “Daughters” that gets the lion’s share of the remixes, making up 50% of the 8 tracks here. Peaking Lights do a downtempo disco-dub number that sets the tone and remains quite faithful to the original song structure. Khidja’s remix stays on the same lines, taking vocal slices for a bit of percussive patterning and switching to a two-note bassline that underpins a nice slow evolution in sound over the nearly ten-minute-long mix. Kasra V places the vocal into a new melodic arrangement that’s broad and brooding, while Moon Temple’s approach is squelchier and more introspective.

Inbetween every “Daughters” remix there’s a reversion of a different track. Fantastic Twins’ take on “This City” is another downtempo long disco-dub version with some nice percussive touches. Anna Lann’s version of “Cholera” is in the same wheelhouse but somewhat rumblier and slightly more techno.

Hologram Teens’ remix of “Heat” revisits the mid-2000’s heyday of indie-rock crossover (think DFA, LCD Soundsystem et al) with the poppiest track of the set, while Sutja Gutierrez’s version of “Strange Ways” also has shades of that indie-rock-dance crossover atmosphere, still thoroughly respecting the vocal (until some final twists) over a marginally flat indie-band-does-disco groove.

The album has probably been milked well and truly dry by now, but not before this second package of solid, downtempo remixes was created. It’s a probably enjoyable 54-minute bundle of long version excursions that won’t set your heart alight, but is still a great mood-setter.

Tresque: Vai e Vem

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 06 2018
Artist: Tresque
Title: Vai e Vem
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Care Of
Minimal techno infused with an attitude derived from musique concrète, “Vai e Vem” is a five-pack (one track digital-only) of rumbling but soft sub-bass kicks, electronic pulses, smooth-edged digital-industrial atmospherics and a confident steadiness.

Rhythm patterns play inbetween each other, in fairly complex, mildly brain-taxing and DJ-unfriendly ways on tracks like “Tre Cavalli”, while “Cikade” initially starts with simpler layouts but shifts abruptly into more interesting 12/8 patterns part-way through. “Mwen Se Be” borders on the forgettable, overshadowed in purpose by its predecessors, before mellower track “Tendresse” adopts a more atmospheric flavour, with a bell-like looping tone that’s the closest the album comes to intersecting with melody.

Bonus track “Afoxç” is a distinctly harder affair, with more emphasis on the industrial sounds and just hints of Underworld-esque notes in the slightly more driving rhythm pattern- I can see why it’s only regarded as a bonus track but it’s got a different kind of strength.

It’s an almost entirely sub-bass workout, minimal to a fault, and it’s hard to imagine anything going much deeper whilst remaining audible. This will appeal to fans of Monolake, The Field or some of Autechre’s softer moments will definitely find an appreciation of this.

Eliezer: The man from 94

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 01 2018
Artist: Eliezer
Title: The man from 94
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Unterman
The debut EP from Tel Aviv-based Eliezer is an EP made up of two original tracks and a remix of each. It also marks the first release for the Unterman label. And it’s a debut that’s polished and competent rather than outstanding.

“Frani” is a steady house groove over which squelchy synthwavey noises gradually twiddle their way across. The rocky, aggressive spoken word sample feels to be at a higher energy level than the rest of the track and ends up a little disconnected, save for when it’s being cut up and played with. Gabriel Ferreira’s remix is a stripped-back and deeper affair that turns those cut-up vocal parts into soft percussive tones sparsely sprinkled over a thick kick and simple throbbing bass.

“No Tears” is also a little darker, a moodier synthwave affair of long pads, sustained strings and analogue arpeggios. The Naduve remix is quite faithful, brightening the rhythm up a bit and adding a decidedly 80’s bass sound but falling very close to the tree as remixes go.

Confident and leisurely, it’s a nice pack that shows promise rather than brilliance.

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