Music Reviews

Moscoman: Wave Rave

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 25 2019
Artist: Moscoman
Title: Wave Rave
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Life And Death
After catching Moscoman’s “I Ran” release from last year on his own Disco Halal label, a new EP was very welcome. This one’s now on the Life And Death label but the style, and the quality, has remained consistent across these four new tracks of melodic, synthy instrumental house with a warm, analogue but not wholly retro flavour.

The title track is built around a bright chord scheme and enjoys itself, a fairly simple bit of feel-good instrumental electropop in a DJ-friendly format. “Dinner For One” is a little darker and wobblier, with soft rumbling bass, a scratchy, meandering distorted synth lead note, and an unusual and very confident breakdown involving near-silence and light but militaristic snare patterns.

There’s a bouncy, slightly 90’s feel to the slow unfolding and twangy guitar work of “550”, which ends up being my favourite of the pack, while final track “Space Comfort” is another bright number with an almost endearing naivety to it that recalls the heady early days of instrumental synthpop where absolutely nothing seemed to be regarded as cheesy.

Another strong, accessible and surprisingly poppy pack from Moscoman, perfect for filling your set with a bit of bright electro cheer.

Cosmo: Cosmotronic Remixed

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 17 2019
Artist: Cosmo
Title: Cosmotronic Remixed
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: 42 Records / Ivreatronic
Cosmo is a bona fide Italian pop star, though I’ll admit that word of him or his albums hadn’t previously reached me in the UK. He (or his press people) emphasise that he “keeps one foot in the underground”, and on the strength of this 11-track remix package, getting mostly Italian artists to rework tracks from last year’s “Cosmotronic” album, that statement does appear to be valid and true. Across eleven DJ- and club-friendly tracks, we get a fairly consistent set of deep house and synth-electronica which is essentially no longer pop music, and which most of the time completely disguises and hides its pop roots.

The rapid kicks of Not Waving’s version of “Animali” set the tone nicely in terms of synthetic, synthwave-ish atmosphere and slow build, although it draws a harder, grittier rhythm which isn’t indicative of the usually steadier house rhythms that follow it. Bawrut’s steady techno-inflected-house version of “Tristan Zarra”, with its enviable live drum fills and stripped-back ‘polizia’ vocal refrain, is both a great track with broad appeal, and a strong indicator of the rest of the release. The acid tweaks of Elisa Bee’s “Bentornato” provide an appropriate bookend doing a similar job at the other end of the release.

Other highlights include the infectious bouncy synth bass of Fabio Fabio’s “Barbara remix”, and the modern twist on an 80’s jack groove gone dark in Fabrizio Mammarella’s “Attraverso lo Specchio” remix.

It’s not all plain 4/4 either. The odd-step-pop of the Splendore remix of “Tutto Bene” is notably gritty and faintly moombahton-esque, while the Stefano Ritteri version of “Sei La Mia Citta” is a pleasant, if slightly flat, slow Eastern blend.

I haven’t heard the original “Cosmotronic” album so can’t comment on its merits as a remix album compared to its source material, but as a stand-alone package of deep house and soft-edged techno, this really is top-notch stuff.

m1nk: m1nk = em one en kay

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 14 2019
Artist: m1nk (@)
Title: m1nk = em one en kay
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Seja Records (@)
Rated: *****
Man, it's been a really long time since I've heard any good, new trip hop music, and while m1nk's debut album (the title of which is to get you to pronounce their name correctly, instead of calling them "mink") isn't exactly classic trip hop, it's still downtempo and noirish enough to be genre receptive, and remind you of the best things such as Portishead, Massive Attack, Anne Clark, Bowery Electric and the like. Erika Bach's voice slithers snake-like coiling in the darker recesses of your brain while Barry Snaith's instrumental Pandora's box unleashes all manner of strange in a soundscape you can't escape. There are times Erika's voice is just so Beth Gibbons, but her lost soul persona wanders in terrain far darker than Gibbons' milieu. One of the tracks on the album is titled "Psycho Erotic," (third track, actually) but that could be applied to the music on this album in general. Most of the music (instrumental portion) is more atmosphere than any traditionally defined music form, but that's what makes it work so well. You might be able to dance to some of it in a hipster, Audrey Horne, Twin Peaks roadhouse sort of way, but it's more conducive to an opioid stupor (not that I'm promoting that sort of thing; neither are they I imagine) than any potentially strenuous activity. Erika Bach (aka Lola Demo) is from Ithaca (Greece, not New York) and Barry Snaith is from Wakefield, UK, but they sound like they could be from anywhere...Soho NYC, Berlin, Paris, Slovenia, wherever, that has a passion for the underground. As slow as this stuff moves (and it is very downtempo and sloooowww) the ten tracks over 47 minutes go so fast you'll wonder where the time went. It is rare that a debut album is so deviously, perfectly delicious that it shoots to the top of my chart like a carnival high-striker, but 'm1nk = em one en kay' is such an animal.

UPDATE: When I originally posted this review I though the format was CD & download (likely because what they sent me was a CD, but it's actually Limited edition (300) VINYL (12") and download, with a bonus CD added with a vinyl purchase. This is sort of better in my estimation because vinyl definitely trumps CD, but you get the CD anyway. You just can't loose, and since this is as good as it is, I wouldn't expect stock to last very long.

Calculon, Dave Owen, Jaybee and Neve: Comfort Zone / Leads

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 07 2019
Artist: Calculon, Dave Owen, Jaybee and Neve
Title: Comfort Zone / Leads
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: none60 (@)
Rated: *****
By the corner of a living room, as Silent Dust (Andy Hobbs and Daniel Blishen), the folks behind the label none60 sadly (but proudly) describe their place, you can keep on transmit some good tunes throughout the known (and sometimes unknown) channels. This short and intense release saw many hands and many sound heads working on a couple of excellent tracks, sliding over the stylistic path tracked by label's previous releases (a sort of futuristic upgrade of bass driven music by means of smart grasps of old school jungle and dub seeds) into remarkably more energetic soup. The first one "Comfort Zone" - signed by respected Indianapolis-born drum'n'bass producer and DJ Dave Owen, the skilled phat beat forger Nikolai 'Calculon' Bordokoff and Tampa-based D'N'B dj Jaybee (featuring many impressive collaborative releases) - has many of the previously mentioned recipes such the tricky reaggae-dub ignition, a pad-driven bitonal melody reminding 90ies garage, a vocal sample grabbed by old jungle sound banks (but often used by gabber and rave techno makers of the first 90ies) and many stylistical clues in a bombastic rhythmical engine. A similar sonic strategy got followed by Calculon and Jaybee juggling together with Neve on "Leads", the second track, where they add impressive rhythmical stunts by sudden accelerations and decelerations to the pattern. Test it on dancefloors... or on the corners of your living room!

Fred Und Luna: Im Tanzrausch

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 22 2019
Artist: Fred Und Luna
Title: Im Tanzrausch
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Compost Records
Acting as a sort of companion piece or footnote to their full-length album “Im Tiefenrausch”, “Im Tanzrausch”, from the still relatively new but profilic mysterious figures of Fred und Luna, is a dancefloor-friendly pack of 4 deep house tunes (“elektrakraut/krautelecktro” if you go by the press release) with an optimistic and bright synth top layers that make them very likeable.

The undoubted highlight is “Compostonikum”, which foregrounds some laidback chanting over warm chords and a bunch of lower rubbery squelches in the bass area, into a result that’s genuinely entrancing. “People Mambo” adopts a similar approach with similar-ish vocal samples but a more laidback attitude and that’s truly effective as well.

Opener “Der Elektrolektor” is a purposeful and driven bit of light electro-house with some nice percussive touches, but without a hook to really set it alight. Third track “Es Ist Heiß” is the weak spot, a somewhat cheeser-sounding affair with a spoken-word German vocal that ends up sounding faintly Yello-ish but a touch on the corny side, lacking the thoughtfulness of the tracks around it.

Leisurely toe-tapping stuff with a definite broad appeal.

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