Music Reviews

Rob Sparx: Babylonian EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 12 2013
Artist: Rob Sparx (@)
Title: Babylonian EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Migration/NexGen (@)
Rated: *****
Another big little treat for your red-hot summertime comes from versatile UK producer Rob Sparx, who made the 8-bit spotted dubstep his Migration imprint (actually absorbed by US-based label NexGen) got famous for lay up for dub and reaggae roots by means of four impressive tracks. The strategies for this coalescence between dubstep and dancehall sonorities have been diversified: the most dub rooted one is the initial remake of a track by Symbiz Sound with Singin Gold on the microphone, which got wicked by bulldog shots and griming basslines, while the above-mentioned 8-bit sizzles spurt from "Look", second track of the EP, whose Rastafarian sparking rolls along a rising dubstep progression. Eastern melodic scents and ethereal female vocals blend in with Jamaican clouds on the following "Prayer For Life", which precedes another awesome lasso tightening around heart ofdub roots, that got pulled by Rob Sparx and MC Task aka Dubstitutes.

Tonikom: Found and Lost

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Aug 11 2013
Artist: Tonikom (@)
Title: Found and Lost
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Rated: *****
As some may know, Tonikom is the project moniker of New York City based electronic music artist Rachel Maloney, and 'Found and Lost' is her most recent release since 2009's 'The Sniper's Veil' also on Hymen Records. Apparently the 2009 European tour for that album knocked the wind out of her creative sails for a while, but there's no question she got it back for 'Found and Lost' released in September of 2012. Yeah, I know, this review comes very late, nearly a year after the album came out but we're mega-backlogged here and we get to 'em as soon as we can; to put it in the faux-Latin ' 'beta laten evah'.

On first listen I didn't much care for this album at all, so I put it away for and worked on other reviews. Coming back to it though after a while with fresh ears and a new perspective, I found myself hearing the album in a whole new light. Another thing I noticed is that the CD contains a Haujobb remix (how on earth did I miss that??) I think the reason I didn't care for it much the first time was that it seemed scattershot and too diverse. 'Found and Lost' is really hard to pin down. There are all sorts of things going on here, with the music staying in no one (or two, or three, or even four) particular electronic music genre.

For the opener, 'Across its glass surface,' you've got percolating electronics, syncopated tap-dancing percussion, and a cute little melody with icy background ambience. Break-beating drum programming with gated and effected snare and wild synth electronics is the modus operandi of 'Along the rail,' but even that's not a complete description. 'Stumble' is a slower number that changes tempo and time signature within the framework of the rhythm track while spacey streaking synth pads hold down the ambience. 'Detector' opens with old-school modulated electronic oscillations, ethereal synth piano (and other supporting synth-work) before it hits its percussive stride with some snazzy breakbeat programming and heavily processed drum track. This track in particular is reminiscent of artists from the Tympanik Audio label. 'Eternal Internal' sounds like what you might get if you threw Kraftwerk, Knife Party, Delerium and Massive Attack into a blender ' simple melody, wobbling dub-steppy bass, ethereal chorus and a lot of moodiness. 'Hope' harkens back to early (but not too) early Kraftwerk for the simple melody line and electronics but the percussion is straight-ahead drumkit. Rhythm-wise it has a clockwork feel. 'Interlude' is a mish-mosh of all sorts of electronic weirdness and sonic effluvia in the beginning, but becomes dark, dense and lower frequency dwelling by the middle. An echoed brief spoken word sample shakes you out of your complacency toward the end.

'Orbit' is one of two pieces that employs a (broken, beat-up) piano Rachel found in the greenroom of a club in Rostock, Germany on the 2009 European tour. It sets the mood with its wistful melody. 'Lost to the Flames' reminded me somewhat of Haujobb once it got going, in form, progression and style. 'Insense' (redux) once again reminds me of instrumental Delerium, more for its feel and pacing than anything else. 'This is what she felt' is the other track that uses that Rostock club broken piano but not until the middle where it changes the entire mood of the piece from a pleasantly melodic mid-tempo piece with full rhythm to something more melancholy sans rhythm.

I have no basis of comparison for Angina P's remix of '29 degrees' (32 degree remix) not having heard the original, but it's rather rapid percussion programming (approximately 172 BPM) with wailing, moaning, slow pitch-shifting synth in the background, some brief sampled (female) dialogue phrases and a subtle bass and chord progression. It was okay, but nothing thrilling. Haujobb's remix of 'Detector' is a radical departure from the original turning it trance-techno with a pulsing fast sequenced synth pattern, a slower repetitive sequenced synth pattern and other electronic sounds out of the Haujobb tool box. The melodic theme is altered in both melody and instrument, from piano (in the original) to string synth. Also, the rhythm is accented with TR-808 cowbell, a sound I don't particularly care for. Although I liked some sonic elements of the remix, I liked the original better. (Sorry Mr. Myer.) Overall though, 'Found and Lost' is an interesting addition to Tonikom's oeuvre despite its unevenness, and IDM enthusiasts are sure to find worthy material here.

Earth Leakage Trip: Authorised Leakage

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 10 2013
Artist: Earth Leakage Trip (@)
Title: Authorised Leakage
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: NexGen
Rated: *****
I could introduce "Time For Disclosure", the introductive track of this new release by EDM pioneers and Downbeat surfers Earth Leakage Trip by means of the words of a notorious vocal sample they grabbed from "Happy Monsters - An Adventure in the Land of Ooog" childplay and inserted in their famous track "No Idea", released by legendary Moving Shadow in 1991: the doors are where the windows should be. You can believe what the supposed revelations about extra-terrestrial beings and related matters Dreddmarc toasts about or you can ignore them so that you can quietly enjoy your refreshing toothpaste or bottled water without caring about fluorides and their effect on neural system or follow your favorite newscast and believe that smiling news anchor is telling you the truth, but the conceptual framework ELT which embraces the omnium-gatherum many followers of conspiracy theories and some possible variations of the theme daily chews feeds an interesting stylistical upgrade, which sounds quite far from some chilling and somewhat easylistening downbeat Tony Lobue and Neil Sanford made. On this EP, they melt what "humans called Dubstep" and sci-fi accurate sonorities, which cannot but sound somehow disquieting, dusky and intriguing due to the above-mentioned premises: they combined unearthly exhalations with skyrocketing dubstep devices on "Space People", gargles and dim adumbrations on "Reptile" - evoking old and new hearsay about reptialians or maybe their supposed noisy digestion -, overstretched sinister frequencies, heavy clunks and other sonic gashes on "Hyperdimension", which got inspired by the reports of strange loud eerie siren-like noises being heard all over the world (alien invasion or just tinnitus?). This bunch of amazing stylistical variations could let you surmise the most persuading secret file ELT disclosed lies in the "augmented dubstep" they roll on this good release. If they managed to awake or soothe your consciousness in the bargain, that's a far cry from a listening experience, but...beware of my presumed skepticism! I could be a reptilian!

Andyskopes: True Chord Redux VIP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Aug 09 2013
Artist: Andyskopes (@)
Title: True Chord Redux VIP
Format: 12"
Label: Utopia Music (@)
Rated: *****
London-based drum and bass dj and producer Andrew Lawrence, better known as Andy Skopes, already showed his devotion to both old and new school of the genre on his releases, collaborations and recently at the popular Fizzy and Technicality nights, but what he made on "True Chord" was a surgical junction between the last phase of jungle, the one which many junglists rolled before the advent of drum'n'bass, and organic and melodic slopes of bass music (I could mention the seven volumes of the notorious series "Earth" by LTJ Bukem 's Good Looking Records) acording to well trained ears. Andy reprised that astonishing track on this very first jungle drop on Utopia sea and enhanced both the amazing juggles on typical amen break, vocal samples and sonic details, which are going to overlap the evergreen dreams of junglists, before giving cues to the listeners about how contemporary (or if you prefer, you can even call it "nu") jungle could sound like on the flipside by means of the striking "True Human Emotion".

Moderat: II

 Posted by Alissa Hooper (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 07 2013
Artist: Moderat
Title: II
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Mute Records (@)
Rated: *****
Moderat, the brilliant combination of Berlin electronic artists Apparat (aka Sascha Ring) and Modeselektor (aka Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary), have teamed up for an incredibly atmospheric, well-polished, and aptly-titled second album, II.

Any stand-alone Apparat or Modeselektor release is a treat. As forerunners in the contemporary and eclectic electronic music scene in Berlin, as well as former mainstays signed to the influential label BPitch Control, the acts have run the gamut of genres from IDM, glitch, hip-hop, electro house, minimal techno, to everything in between.

Apparat's solo releases and approach to songwriting, most noteably 2011's stunning The Devil's Walk, have tended to fall into moody terrain, particularly with longing vocals and lyrics, minimalist off-beats, and atmospheric vibes, all of which are cleverly and clearly demonstrated throughout II. Modeselektor have tended to focus their experimental techno more in mirth and fun, particular on the early (and very exclamatory) releases Hello Mom! and Happy Birthday! The combination of the two creates a nearly inexplicable, complex, and headphones-recommended experience.

While vocals on Apparat releases have typically only been those of Sascha Ring's and vocals on Modeselektor's tunes, when present, are largely attributed to a slew of special guests including Otto von Schirach, TTC, Puppetmastaz, and even Radiohead's Thom York, II contains several tracks that are either instrumental or contain chopped up, sampled vocals, yet never lacking in melody and addictive hooks. The tracks in which Ring soulfully sings are just as appealing ('Bad Kingdom' and 'Gita'). 'Let In The Light' reminds us that dubstep, despite numerous criticisms and stigma in recent times, can still be done while sounding new and refreshing.

A hybrid of a large number of experimental techno subgenres, II is the newest wave of Berlin's ' and beyond ' electronic music scene.

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