Monday, January 18, 2021
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Music Reviews

FAX + Braulio Lam: Mixed Signals

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Artist: FAX + Braulio Lam (@)
Title: Mixed Signals
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Dragon's Eye (@)
Rated: * * * * *
The signals can be mixed without being confused or confusing. I'd rather say that the sonic sources/sorcerers of this output could have been felt fused or fusing, as they sound deeply amalgamated in the diversified emotional set that these two Mexican forgers of this sonic experience manage to lodge in the listener's mind. The name of one of them at least should be easily recognized by electronic music lovers, as FAX (moniker of Rubén Alonso Tamayo) is maybe the second name that comes to mind after the one of Murcof (both artists got invited to the notorious and prestigious MUTEK festival), if someone tries to talk about Mexican electronic music scene. Those, who have a deeper knowledge of that fascinating scene (mostly concentrated in the borderline region of Tijuana) by following some outpout of FAX's imprint Static Discos, could have met the name of the young producer Braulio Lam as well. Yann Novak - the man behind Dragon's Eye curtains - managed to intercept and embed in his catalogue their highly reverberant signals. The dynamics of each track is pretty similar: washed pads sound ether, but as other entities such as shimmering resonances or thin guitar tones, reverberation gets added and those feathery pads sounds like expanding and get more and more hypnotic. This strategy is particularly clear on the opening "Insomnia" as well as on the fleecy lavishness of the following "Focus", whose sparkle is a sort of jingling sound, which could resemble some of those meditation collective sessions evolving into a track that sound pretty close to some outputs by Christian Fennesz. Those pads evoke a sense of tragedy on "Mute", whose syncopated thumps could be matched to an extremely slowed heartbeat to the point that the whole track could let you think to the sonic representation of a near death experience, whereas a vaguely blessed astral touch crops up from the resounding pond of the title-track "Mixed Signals", which, for some mysterious reason, resembles to me a version of "Starship Melody" by Adam Douglas's Deeper Than Space (who follows ambient since the 90ies could remember that project).

Luz1e: Radical Optimism

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Artist: Luz1e
Title: Radical Optimism
Format: 12" + Download
Label: VOITAX (@)
The title of this release landed in my mailbox immediately surmised the one of a recent album by Lawrence English. If the optimism according to that title by the appreciated Australian producer was cruel, the optimism by this young techno-forger hailing from Frankfurt is radical. Getting influenced in her own words by her brother's records orbiting around the big planets of New York and Chicago House (she quotes Kerri Chandler and Larry Heard in particular) and the glorious culture of Detroit techno and all the other "electronic" extensions of house music, but I would also file under Luz1e's sources for inspiration and sonic influences by the interesting sonic entourage of Frankfurt, site of pretty famous venues like Sven Vath's Cocoon, pre and post Dorian Grey clubbing scenes, Andreas Thomalla's pollination, Robert Johnson, Tanzhaus West and many more as well as the electro techno bridging many more or less independent producers from Nortern Europe and Northern America (I could quote labels like Satamile, Planet Mu, Rotters Golf Club or producers like Andrew Weatherall, Alan O'Boyle or Larry McCormick, just to render a frame). After a careful listening to the four tracks of this EP (in particular the opener "Transition" and the harshest follow-up on the same side "Electronic Warfare"), I would say that its geometric electronic cuts, the robotic mumbling and the sudden storms of metallic clangours could be considered a revision of the perfectionist electro revival of another talented "frankfurter", Anthony Rother, in particular all the workouts that were like bricks of Psi49Net. On the B-side, she gets closer to the dynamics of legendary producers like Drexciya and Basic Channel by means of melodies, gradually hacked by electro basslines and funny breaks both on "Emotional Intelligence" and the title-track "Radical Optimism", lighter (or maybe just more daydreaming) face of the moody duality of this nice sonic trinket.

Magic Bullet: Digitalis

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Artist: Magic Bullet
Title: Digitalis
Format: CD + Download
Label: Music & Elsewhere (@)

After getting sidetracked several times Magic Bullet's regular debut Digitalis appeared in late October finally. Not sure what the cover is really about but I guess it hints at psychotropica and a second attempt, but enough guessing here.
Also some of former releases, especially the one hour one track album Solidarietas - gave serious hints this will be really going a road far away from Mick Magic's former band Magic Moments At Twilight Time. No Singer, No Vocals, No Lyrics, No Guitars. "No musical instruments where harmed in the making of this album" can be read in the liner notes.
What is present here begins with an electropunk flair, relentless mid-tempo industrial funk which may be brewed in the same cauldron as 'Drinking Gasoline', leading through the first tracks. Monotounos repetive beats shine through "Single Dimutive Impression" paired with slow drifting sequences echoing through the empty halls of decayed industrial buildings.
With "Chaotic Vector Correction" the intensity reaches back to more raw early experimental electronic before the longish center piece "Sky Dark Shadow" dives into analogue stone age dada chirpings where it captures the listener.
Back in the real World the final trilogy of "In Bitter Repentance", "I Find It Cathartic" and "Crowd Closed Door" rekindles the spirit of the first tracks from a different perspective. A Reflection of the worlds yesterdays and today's electro underground at once. Mankind caught in loops paired with urgent sequences and distorted beats.
Echoes of man in the digital age and heading into an uncertain future; "Where we all going nobody knows, this is the world today" comes to mind. Love And Rockets. No. Temptations. No. This is the other face of space age rock, in a time where no more crowd pleasing is needed.

A limited careful handmade CDR version is also available.

Julia Bondar: Enchanted

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Artist: Julia Bondar
Title: Enchanted
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Production (@)

Julia's new single, mixed and mastered by Glenn Morrison, is an melodic tune between progressive trance and deep techno, a gem for moody late night drifting which more and more becomes her trademark.
An amazing uplifting, etheral and driving track likewise, it keeps in line with the promises of it's title. A great hint that shows Julia is developing her way further and a pleasure to listen to.. sadly a digital only single and in todays fashion there is no 'b-side' nor an remix along with the main track. At least a long live version is featured on the recent full length Video 'Modular Techno Live'.
To be released January, 14th for streaming & download.

Avar Garden: Oopart EP

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Artist: Avar Garden
Title: Oopart EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Univack
Avar Garden runs his own club in Malaga, and this four-pack of melodic techno (two originals, two remixes) is undoubtedly designed as a DJ-friendly pack with that space in mind. Here’s hoping DJ’s will be able to use them.

A somewhat freeform vocal from a singer who’s prominent on the track, yet feels like they’re ad libbing in the absence of a written melody, gives “Oopart” an unusual vibe as that freeformness on top contrasts with a tight, slightly acid 120-bpm-ish techno base. The Animal Logic remix lightens it up a little but sticks remarkably close to the original in form.

“Spirits” foregoes the lazier side of the title track and offers up a more steady driving instrumental dominated by a clarion call synth sound. It’s encouraging and full of purpose. Again the remix barely diverts from the original, with Carsten Halm’s version lightening the melody gently but keeping the same identity overall.

It’s a smart, reliable pack of mid-set melodic techno but it doesn’t sparkle or surprise.