Music Reviews

Kouhei Matsunaga: Drawings

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 18 2014
Artist: Kouhei Matsunaga
Title: Drawings
Format: 7" vinyl + Book
Label: Fang Bomb (@)
Rated: *****
Berlin-based Japanese composer, sound artist and illustrator Kouhei Matsunaga aka Koyxen Mattsunagnen seems to have constructed a bridge between his two main skills, the one with drum machines, laptop and synths, which has been extensively rubbed on an impressive number of remarkable collaborations (Merzbow, Asmus Tietchens, Sean Booth from Autechre, Mika Vainio and so on) and a number of very good releases on well-known labels such Raster-Noton, Skam Records, Mille Plateaux, Wordsound, Tigerbeat6, Important Records and PAN and the one with pencil, which has been exhibited for some cover artworks. Curvy black lines got plaited into settings where naked women, deformed suitors, ephemeral figures, donkeys, fowls, sketched birds and other animals come to light from mainly empty spaces. The connection with music on the attached 7" vinyl are strictly related to the suggestions it can inspire: for instance you could imagine that the rhythmical patchwork that Kouhei assembled on the initial "7" could emulate the movement of a pigeon's neck while some syncopated bleeps could come from the garrulity of a hungry seagull, the following technoid dub on "632_" sounds like cheeping over sinuous downy (and somehow feminine) sonorities or the final "540" could let you imagine an electronically-treated coalescence of twitters where the almost mechanical step of crumbled percussions could let you think about bird's act of ransacking into a cup of birdseed. A certain dadaist pulsating vein bonds Matsunaga's binary codes.

Lady Maru: My Secret

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 15 2014
Artist: Lady Maru (@)
Title: My Secret
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Deep Strips (@)
Rated: *****
On this palatable digital tidbit, Rome-based dj and producer Lady Maru, one half of the project Trouble vs Glue, which got already introduced on this zine, properly goes deeper and deeper than previous cheeky stuff and delivers an intriguing and somewhat daydreaming assay of techno-spotted indie-disco. The initial title-track "My secret" seems to groom some nicely candied past stages of (mainly) German tech-house - I could quote some stuff that came from Playhouse or Klang Eletronik such as the very first stuff by Villalobos, Rework, Roman Flugel - where fingersnaps, electronic peppy pinches, slight bongo drums could cause automatic euphoric dances before she begins to bubble deep-house sonorities. The deep-house and almost lush venations are more clearly throbbing on the following two tracks, but whereas she intersects them by means of waving electronic buzzes and frisky drumming on "Out Of Time", the final "The End" revolves on more concise and impactful disco flourishes, roaring kicks and soapy saturations.

Julian & Der Fux: Hin Und Weg

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 12 2014
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Artist: Julian & Der Fux
Title: Hin Und Weg
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Jhruza
Rated: *****
After the Ken Hayakawa collaboration on the EP "Uber Den Dachern", Julian & Der Fux are back with a batch of new songs gathered in the new EP "Hin Und Weg". During the last year, the duo did different gigs in clubs and had the chance to experiment on the audience their songs. The opening of this new release is "Without You" and it's the first with English lyrics. Musically, it moves between seducing house/electro atmospheres with a great attention on arrangements (as you can hear, the rhythm part is formed by a multi-layered web of tiny arpeggios, acoustic guitar pickering, piano chords that added, to the 4/4 beat structure, create a great effect). The main track is present with two versions, "Radio Edit" and a longer one. It is a nice song but in my opinion it doesn't succeed into coupling the awesomeness of the opening one as it moves between the same riff and the same atmosphere. "Magic String" is an instrumental which creates a suspension effect thanks to its melancholic touch. "Unglaublich", like "Hin Und Weg" and the following "Durch Die Stille", is a nice one but it's like a rocket ready to go which you won't see flying. It's strange to say this, but the fact that "Without You" had a richer arrangement and a wider atmosphere made the other songs look a bit weak even if they aren't. This effect will fade away after different spins, so don't be afraid. Check it with your own ears here

The Micronaut: Panorama

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 11 2014
Artist: The Micronaut
Title: Panorama
Format: CD
Label: Acker Records
Distributor: Kompakt
Rated: *****
Stefan Streck is the guy behind the Micronaut monicker and "Panorama" is his second album which comes after "Friedfisch" that has been released back in the 2012. On "Panorama" we find thirteen new tracks that already at a first listening, to me, sound more focused and efficient. On this one the tracks succeed into balancing melodies, atmospheres, rhythms and vocals (here as guests you'll find Arpen, Maria, Moritz Fasbender and Flipstar) and they convinced me at a first listening. If with the term "micronaut" Stefan was meaning a mix of micro and astronaut, that I read like a sort of traveller of tiny rhythms, sounds and atmospheres, well, this time to that term we have to add melody, because each track has layers of melodies which help a lot to get the listener acquainted to his music and to enjoy it immediately. Moving his sound between, electronica, dubstep, house, techno, electro and a bit of dub (like on "Light On The Scene") "Panorama" sounds perfect for whom loves lush atmospheres, rich sounds palette, upbeat rhythms and I think that it really fits well the catalog of its distributor Kompakt.

AntiQuark: Rags to Riches

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 10 2014
Artist: AntiQuark (@)
Title: Rags to Riches
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
AntiQuark has been releasing albums and performing in the USA and Europe since 2001, created by Ant Dakini, an Italian keyboardist and sound-engineer. Vocalist Sergio O. joined the project in 2006, having sung in a number of rock and metal bands prior to AntiQuark. The music is an electro-techno hybrid with a certain 'quarkiness' to it. (One little side-note: our own Marc Urselli remixed one of their tracks, 'Planet X' from their 2009 'Skydancer' CD.) 'Rags to Riches' is the project's 6th release as far as I can tell, and although I've heard of, I'm not sure I've actually heard AntiQuark before.

The album starts out interestingly enough with a snippet of traditional Japanese (or Chinese?) music then charges into the body of 'El Bus' with Sergio wailing 'they patiently beat us to death' between nearly whispered verses over a driving dark-electro rhythm. It's a promising start. 'Medavog' has a Shameneque groove (think 'Ebenezer Goode') but nothing like those slap-happy EDM Scotts. Things pick up immensely with 'Shameless' (Floor Anthem Remix by Red Flag) , a track that could be equally at home at a huge rave or a goth club, not far removed from VNV Nation, Covenant, Assemblage 23, et al. Actually could have been a bit longer. 'The Man from Mars' (Lunar Remix by Electrovot) is somewhat along those lines as well; less vocals, more techno-electronics, and kind of trancey, but no less good. AntiQuark shifts gears for 'The Attaq' (Electronic Kraut Remix by Steve Morrell) with former vocalist Maren on lead here. It harkens back to the band's more experimental times; less big beat, more sequenced-synth driven, with an unforgettable terrorist-infused vocal line ' 'we did it for Allah'¦white face down'¦we did it for Allah'¦the white place down'. Simple but effective, and I didn't even mind the drum machine cowbells that I usually loathe. This is the track that actually made me really perk up my ears!

'Shameless' reappears with a Phantompowerdrill remix by Phantom Power, but I prefer Red Flag's more muscular interpretation. 'King Vulture' is given an Electro-lounge Remix by Hotrebor & Syrob, with a funky bass bottom and future synth chords on top. Kind of reminds me of Leeb's Noise Unit project. 'Model Zero' gets an Electro Remix by Hotrebor, somewhat similar to the previous track. AntiQuark switches gears again in the Like Lindsey Lohan Remix of 'Nuklear Suicide' by Don Bleezy and the Tleilaxu Music Machine. I cared for Bleezy's rappish style about as much as I care for Lindsey Lohan (which is not at all) so obviously this track didn't do it for me. 'Drawer 4' has a Hard Techno Remix by Traumahead Society that may actually be an improvement on the original with a relentless crunchy beat. 'El Bus' gets the Extended Mix treatment by Giulio Maddaloni, exempting most of Sergio's vocals. Neat dancefloor fodder that could easily be slipped into any DJ's set. 'King Vulture' has an Industrial/Terror Remix by Traumahead Society, and yeah, it's pretty much hardcore of the type that would be at home on the Industrial Strength label. Never heard the original but I doubt the remix bears little resemblance to it. There's one more brief (unnamed) hidden 13th track- solo vocal outtakes by Sergio from 'El Bus'.

While 'Rags to Riches' is essentially a remix album (a good amount of the material coming from their 'Skydancer' album), it is no less engaging and might bring AntiQuark to the attention of an audience who has not yet discovered them. Although there were a couple tracks I didn't particularly care for, the bulk of it is pretty damn good. You can find the album lots of places ' iTunes, Spotify, CDBaby, Amazon, and of course, the band's own website. Definitely worth checking out. I just hope they never lose their quarkiness.

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