Long-established Lithuania-based sound artist Gintas K has offered up a single-track 44-minute work Amnesia, and it is experimental noise work that really demands the listener’s attention. A controlled chaos of glitches, squeaks, and distorted percussive sounds, played out on a bed of rumbling drones and slow creaks and with garnishes of high-pitched hisses and noise washes, it’s a soundscape with a great deal of texture, that draws you in to listen to the details.
It’s not without structure or form though, by any means, and the relatively violent opening could misrepresent some of the later movement. There are comparatively more measured sections, such as around the nine minute mark- I wouldn’t go so far as to call it ‘calm’, but everything’s relative by this stage. Particular mention is due to the bold drop around 27 minutes, which works as though the motor powering the melée is manually wound down, leaving a hollow ambient expanse which, when it winds back up again, feels consciously changed- more wooden, more mechanical but less of a metropolis.
Sometimes there’s pulsing and throbbing that offers up a rhythm, of sorts, though the other elements seem to go out of their way to avoid it (e.g. sixteen minutes in). There are moments that are alien, moments that are quasi-industrial, and at times it borders in the bizarre. The detuned honky-tonk piano sounds audible around six minutes in seem almost tongue-in-cheek, though later on it does contribute a more conventional abstract melodic element. The cut-up work around 37 minutes is expressive to the point of feeling vocal, one of several “how did they do that?” moments. The alarm clock tones just before the 40th minute are rather on-the-nose and signal the beginning of the final bookend of noise, providing a symmetry with the frantic opening. It’s not all gradual fades and progressions, either- with a little over one minute to go, the waveform drops off a cliff before a nearly-romantic postscript.
It’s a well-executed deep manoeuvre in experimental noise control, with a great deal of latent and hard-nosed beauty lurking under a noisy shell. It’s well worth cracking through that shell and exploring.
A debut in a few ways- a first release from duo Darling and Tracey, as Darcey Electronics, and a first release for the Plant Life label- the Hallo EP sets off in its own direction, very mild and laidback, but still a bit of a statement of intent.
“Morgen”’s light, steppy beats run at about 145bpm, while the perky synth melody and chords amble gently over the top, the classic heart-pounds-while-brain-reflects combination. “Handbird” has a similarly floaty, dreamy top line, but eases off on the percussion- broadly balearic and incredibly mild.
“The Berries” is a little jazzier and quirkier, with a nice build-up, playful keys and some indistinct vocal samples that give an extra bit of texture, before the EP’s strongest instrumental melody line. It’s wrapped up by “Auto Zap”, again a bit perkier, almost Luke Vibert-ish at times, but again with the dreamy arpeggios and floaty chords.
It’s got its own character set as a release, and sits in an unusual hybrid zone inbetween chillout and the lower end of drum-and-bass, whilst keeping everything light and fluffy throughout. Interesting fare for home-listening or the more open-minded and eclectic of DJ’s.
The debut album from the unpronouncable IIITAIII is delivered on the vehemently analogue TruthTable label, and the release makes a point of highlighting that “no software was used for any sound generation on this album”- it’s just analogue modular synthesizers, and vocals, and nothing else. So whilst it’s tempting to call parts of this release ‘synthwave’, the band have taken the hard route towards making this dark synthpop album, and the effort seems to have paid off.
Every track was recorded as a performance, to avoid the temptation for endless post-production layering. This self-imposed restriction keeps the tracks cleaner, but it also contributes to a sense of retro.
After the cold intro and Gary Numan-like vocals of “Humanoid”, it’s second track “When It Rains” that really shows what this act is capable of- a sort of post-EDM with a catchy vocal hook and definite crossover potential. However this pop capability and accessibility isn’t fully maintained for the rest of the album.
There’s a certain leisureliness to most of the tracks, with the title track and “How Will It End” stepping an odd line where it’s neither downtempo nor uptempo, and walks along in a kind of smart casual format. This works better when the sounds being used are more expansive and are allowed to feel epic and fill the available space, such as in the nicely pained “Mindstare”, the tenser and more aggressive “Android Parade”, or the measured noisiness of “Voltage Vultures”. Although that being said, the downtempo “Up & Downgrades” does end up being another highlight.
A bit more drama and dynamic across the 36 minutes would’ve helped elevate this album into something spectacular, as it seems to sit in something of a comfort zone. But for a debut album it’s a good showpiece, with some strong musicianship and a lot of potential.
9cento9 is a solo alter ego of Marco Milanesio of DsorDNE which he invented in the 2000's. Most of the time used for experimental tinged ambient electronic works 'Reflected' is not an exception but an further exploration.
Recorded in May during lockdown in Italy and self-published via his own HUM_an Netlabel this is a fine example of today's independent production and release possibilities.
Reflected is worth listening especially in the quieter moments; interesting movements of electronic layers, carefully arranged beats supporting the moods and shades of harmonies appearing unexpected. Thoughtful Electronica reflecting the times we all have to go through. Self reflection, questionable future perspectives, a little nostalgia.
"Biochemical Reactions" as intro leads into a soundworld where nearly anything can follow, "Structure" promises a way before "Modern Discomfort" uncomfortably chimes in, "Core" dives even deeper before "Perpetual Sound" appears as mixture of soothing and stretching at once before "Slow Motion" as in a hydropower plant sets in.
The final track "Provides Energy" is a strange 10 Minute + outro which leaves me confused - Is it Irony to call it this? It's a troubling, discomforting ride to somewhere entirely else, a bewildering conclusion returning to the themes of "Modern Discomfort" but in it's very exhausting version.
No words can be as meaningful as words for those able to listen closely.
This is the first LP from Montreal-based Hamed Safi as SpeakOf, after a series of shorter releases. It’s from the most emotive and introspective side of melodic house, so that whilst technically it’s dance music, it is focussed far more on tugging your heartstrings than on moving your feet.
Tracks like “Disclosure” follow a relatively well-known progressive house formula- super-soft melancholy chords, very light beats, soft vocal snippets and light sparkly pieces. “Mantra” has the mesmerising step groove, and “Odyssey” even has the long sustained grand piano chords. But just because it’s a familiar format doesn’t lessen it, and this ends up being some of the strongest moody house I’ve heard in quite a while. A strong sense of melody in tracks like “Endless Love”- which teeters close to cliché but manages to avoid it- elevates the tone, and the calm never feels forced.
Four tracks are given an extra edge with vocals from fellow Canadian Kyla Millette. Generally these are the slowest tracks, and they are all highlights, particularly if you’re feeling sullen. Opener “Satellite” is very slow and pensive with post-dubstep shades, an introduction that slightly mis-sells the tone of the album but which certainly has power, but it’s the album’s title track that showcases the beautiful combination of silky vocals and soft electronica to the full. The somewhat Leftfield-like “Florida” is just as rich.
It has to be said that over the course of 64 minutes, there’s something of a chilled indistinct wash about this album at times, but other notable elements include the Public Service Broadcasting-style reportage sampling and unexpected guitar sounds in “Leap” (definitely a gateway track for bringing more middle-of-the-road tastes towards this album), and the more overtly synthwavey “Destiny”. The polished string sound and subtle rhythm changes of “World Inverted” are also a plus.
It’s laidback and unchallenging in many ways, but the unashamed emotion and bright production make this a really enjoyable hour of home-listening mood-house.