Music Reviews

Prangman: Chamber EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 29 2017
Artist: Prangman
Title: Chamber EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Migration
Rated: *****
I wouldn't say this output by Prangman (real name Dan Meldrum), recently out on NexGen Music sub-label Migration, is a stroke of genius, but its way of melting apparently listenable influences is funny at least. Musically grown in his father's pub in Newcastle upon Tyne, where he used to entertain hosts by djing, you can easily guess the tastes of this guy were orbiting around the grand Uk garage style, that he seems to reprise in this EP. The mellow electronic tubular organ sonorities, inserted after the opening percussive stapling, before the smoothly alluring vocals by Lindsay Murray and over its rising hypnotical refrain, in "Far Away (Haarlem)", are the first clue of such a liking. Similarly the interbreeding of thuds and claps and the bouncing repetition of a male voice inviting to 'get up' could be a cliche of Uk garage sound, but Prangman revamped it by slightly distorted electronic drum buzzing noise in the following "Sonics". My favourite moment of this release is "Kremlin", a tune where those garage influences collide up against a catchy mid-tempo break and some sci-fi synth-driven stabs (bizarrely the moment when Prangman adds a spacey echo to them at the end of the tracks reminded a some relatively electro-break old tune by Phil 'Schizoid Man' Holmberg's forgotten project Schematix), a collision that gets more and more colloidal by means of some nice percussive tricks, that got reprised in the final track "Chamber".

Bungalovv: Luz Mala EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 28 2017
Artist: Bungalovv
Title: Luz Mala EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Infinite Machine
Bungalovv’s “Luz Mala EP” is a 6-track, 21-minute micro-album of dark beats with the sonic palette of dubstep but the pace and energy of electro and breaks. Tribal drum loops, percussive effects and sinister glitched samples swirl over impulsive kicks and low subbass notes.

After the bold overture of opening track “Ulna” with its bright synths playing against sudden rhythm cuts, second track “Tregua” is a standout, a driving deep but crunchy bassline jumping in and out with sudden drops and glass smash effects. “Fémur” is interesting too, managing in less than three minutes to progress from sparse pseudo-ethnic near-ambience to rapid-fire kickdrum-led panic.

Things initially ramp up in the second half. The manic wails, jungle sounds and spontaneous thumping of “Healing Snakes” sounds like Tangerine Dream’s “Wahn” on speed before leaping into a surprisingly regular pounding heavy house rhythm, a format which continues through “Fúrcula”. Final track “Herido” settles down into a more sinister rumbling atmosphere to close.

All in all it’s a very impressive EP. The curtness of some of the tracks make this seem somewhat like a sampler, as though it contains six radio-edit-like extracts from a full-length album, but if that were true it’s an album I’d absolutely want to hear.

Filterwolf: Permanently En Route

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 20 2017
Artist: Filterwolf
Title: Permanently En Route
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Filigran (@)
The title track of this synthy tech house EP from Filterwolf has that very stripped back, slow and sincere arrangement that’s become very popular in pop at the moment; stick a Jess Glynne or London Grammar-style vocal on top and what you’d have here is a radio-friendly pop record. As an instrumental it does feel like it’s perhaps missing an element, but it’s a steady and smooth number that’s great walking-with-headphones music.

“Dream Brother” is a simple groove with a filmic synthwave flavour and a straightforward, fairly lightweight 4/4 kick. It’s one of those tracks where the slow introduction of new layers teases a crescendo which never peaks.

“Ultra” has a slightly thicker electro stomp, with a determined acid bassline and a short female “feeling” vocal sample that gives proceedings a bit of a 90’s vibe, in a good way. With its rich claps and “uh!” noises, this ends up being a highlight of the EP.

“Nights In Eivissa” by contrast has a more leisurely step to it. A plinky Royksopp-ish melody twinkles over a steady simple bassline, making this a bright and cheery carefree track, and the glitched orchestral stabs that arrive halfway through are worth waiting for.

Perhaps I’m being shortsighted but as they stand, these tracks are good quality, slickly produced and fresh-sounding, but lacking the unique selling point that could make them really attention-grabbing.

M:Pathy: Anticipation/Pressure

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 17 2017
Artist: M:Pathy (@)
Title: Anticipation/Pressure
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Skalator Music (@)
Rated: *****
Some days ago, Portuguese d'n'b label Skalator Music add the eight input in his relatively young catalogue, signed by the likewise young producer Michael Mahfouz aka M:Pathy. Hailing from the vibrant Birmingham scene, Michael already signed many good tunes (mostly for Terabyte Records) in the past, which meet the tastes of many drum's bass diggers over Internet. Most of the listeners has risen their thumbs up for his skills in combining almost tribal beats, eerie atmospherics, straight patterns and murky vibes (close to the style of other nicely nasty producers of the scene such Random Movement, Spectrasoul, Ivy Lab, Lenzman and Villem). The two tracks he included in this new gear of Skalator Music is an evidence of the reason why he already received the support of prominent names of d'n'b such as Noisia, LTJ Bukem, Zero T or Counterpoint Crew. "Anticipation" is the typical track where listeners has the feeling the author provoked some ferocious robotic beast, whose roars sounds muffled and guttural. I enjoyed the way he masked hi-hats in the feline pattern of the track as well as its dynamics. The atmospheric side of M:Pathy is listenable in the other half of this tidbit, he titled "Pressure", an excellent roller built over intriguing pads and well organized ticking percussions, a simple synth stub and a prestressed set of punching thumps.

Psychonautilus: Notopia

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 17 2017
Artist: Psychonautilus
Title: Notopia
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: GiveUsYourGold (@)
“Notopia” is the second of a trilogy of Psychonautilus EP’s releasing in quick succession on GiveUsYourGOLD. The title track is an odd affair, involving horror movie-esque harpsichord synths, a squelchy vocal-like acid melody line, slow-stepping light breakbeat rhythms and the occasional deep spoken word sample talking about derelict spaces. It pertains to a dark atmosphere yet some of the instrumentation is like an inverted, almost tongue-in-cheek electropop in parts.

Second track “Hierophantiasis” is only marginally less quirky. Pierre Henry-like short analogue electric squeaks dance over a hollow arrangement of heavily effected dreamy guitar plucking and synth organ stabs, drum-free but with a steady beep keeping time like a heartrate monitor. Again, a synth melody line is almost poppy in its structure.

Final track “Dysphoria” is more conventional- a 105bpm throbbing kick drum, gritty bass notes and a few messed-up speech snippets declaring that things aren’t what they used to be (I knew that already) give it a flavour that harks back to both 80’s disillusioned industrial music and the underbelly of 90’s techno. Halfway through there’s a bizarre breakdown involving yet more organ noises, which works well though could perhaps have been produced with a greater contrast to what preceded it. This ends up feeling like it ought to have been the lead track of the release.

A distinctly odd bit of backwards-looking not-techno with a raw energy and a disregard for convention that leaves it bordering on daft- but mostly in a good way.

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