Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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Music Reviews

Artist: Tuomas Rantanen
Title: Late Cretaceous Part 2
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Citywall Records
Late Cretaceous Part 2 is the tenth and final installment of Finnish producer Rantanen’s “Prehistoric series”, 100 tracks released over seven years, each album named after a geological period, each track named after a creature found in that period. In a way it’s quite a high art concept, as well as quite an impressive achievement.

But, and I’ll try and choose my words carefully here to avoid offence, there is little that is high-concept art about the actual music, which is hard, percussive, driving techno through and through. Kick drums are the bread and butter, the subbass is rich, the top end effects and atmospherics are reverberant and generally a bit sinister, and it’s all essentially one-note and mostly amelodic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s high quality- but this is music the dinosaurs might have danced to (not really of course), rather than music that would’ve got them thinking (and not just because of the size of their brains).

It’s nicely mesmerising, as good deep techno should be, with a transportative feel to tracks like “Titanoceratops” or the slightly more epic and progressive “Tyrannosaurus Rex” that wraps the whole journey up.

Across 82 minutes it’s a fairly relentless listen, with relatively few changes in tempo or tone to note, and some similarly-tuned sequential pieces can be a bit of a patience test- “Brachyceratops” is perhaps a low point for the impatient. However, highlight moments and interlude moments include the moody breakdown moments in “Quaesitosaurus”, and the marginally more melodic and successfully broody “Maastrictian”. “Achelousaurus” teases with an equally broody, ambient introduction- that lasts all of ten seconds before the kicks jump in.

It’s techno that runs deep, geologically deep. It’s very smartly produced. Some people may wish for a little more progression in the details to keep them interested- there’s a certain irony in the lack of evolution within the tracks, given the evolutionary scale of the titles- but as low-key techno goes, this is rich.

Artist: strom|morts
Title: Coronal Mass
Format: CDx2 (double CD)
Label: Midira Records
Coronal Mass is a pair of long drone works from Swiss multi-disciplinarian three-piece Strom|morts. Low, coarse synthetic bass tones dominate, while waves of other sounds- spacier and sci-fi pads, industrial hisses, occasional crashes and bangs, the odd tinnitus-tingling high note, an electric guitar cameo here and there, and so on- ebb gradually over the top.

With the Alpine connection, they are pitched as “dronemountains”, and the soundscape is certainly thicker than some droneworks- but equally, there is a certain sparseness at play as well, and these are far from being true noise walls. Variously it can sometimes feel like an expression of the top of a mountain where the air is thin, or sometimes more deep space-ish.

The release contains 2CD’s, one containing the track “Ejection”, the other “Injection”. Both tracks could’ve easily fit on a single disc, as the total run time is barely 33 minutes, but the conceptual idea of the infinite loop, and no beginning or end, represented in the artwork from Swiss artist Helge Reumann and even in the palindromic artist name, is behind the two-disc approach where no particular track is first or last. It has to be said there isn’t a spectacular amount of difference between the two tracks anyway- “Injection” has some more overt repeated synth notes and percussive crashes that almost slip into rhythm, as well as a guitar-heavy section about halfway through that slips into post-rock, but the drone tone dominates both equally.

It’s a well executed drone work with a relatively familiar set of ingredients, but executed with polish and professionalism amd ready to take you on a slow journey.

Artist: Julia Bondar
Title: Industrial Symphony
Format: 12" + Download
Label: Endorphin.es Production

BUY from  HERE
To clarify some expectations at first, this is neither Industrial nor a Symphony in the common used sense of these words. From the first hi-hat sounds it's pretty clear where Julia Bondar aims at; the underground dancefloors. Deep Techno with heavy throbbing basslines guides you through the dark of the night. And there are plenty of dark overtones spread on this 7 track album.
"Strength In Softness" is an acidic opener but all doubts are pushed away with the intense bass line. Straight on follows the pre-released Single "Fire" featuring Nero Bellum (of Psyclon Nine and Not My God) with a Twin Peaks reminiscence in hushed Voice and Lyrics. A great track not to be missed.
The tempo given is now even more tightened with the first track Julia recorded for her third album; "Running With The Wolves", 7 Minutes plus and nearly the longest track which could be extended easily into an even longer tribal influenced anthem for my tastes.
A heavy machine beat, delayed echoes of handclaps, an swirling and demanding sequence above an ruthless sub bass. "Power Of Presence" is slightly more playful but again heading straight home, not without giving the listener a memory of euphoria to hold on.
Her sounds are generated nearly complete with a special manufactured analogue modular synth system by endorphin.es productions which is the other side of her interests and adds to the amazing recognisable difference in comparison with many current tracks. The clear production and the full sounds make listening to an audio panorama which reminds me positively of the joy of testing your stereo set-up with the latest Yello.
The broading atmospheres add even more to the movie like experience and I had to take this right away for listening with headphones while moving around the city. While not in Barcelona it was a pleasure as the desire and the urge behind these tracks is capturing and comforting at once.
The second half starts with "Overflowing" which has an unexpected bouncy beat and bumping bass paired with a sequence like a shiny silver-line on the horizon before it gets even more positive with "Best Intentions".
Mellow bouncing beats meet symphonic sounds (finally); all is nice but my attention is getting lost for the first time between synth pop and sci-fi score impressions. A little more vocals could have spiced this up favourable - as it is it's just too longish and then turning sour. The positive up-beat dancefloor is not really her strength and looking at her background from minimal, darkwave to electro and techno it's obvious she's continuously testing out her equipment and possibilities. Remarkably her way of working includes a lot live performing before anything is shaped into a release.
Back to the dark zone where Julia is obviously more comfortable - "Inner" is a mysterious outro, a coming down conclusion without giving any clues away. Like the picture on the cover - this could mean anything or nothing at all, open to interpretations. Anyway, Julia Bondar is an versatile artist shaping her way forwards.
Leaving the distracting title and image besides, Industrial Symphony is a strong Album with only few weak points and a pleasure to listen to.

(The LP is going to be released on September 16t, pre-orders are possible)

Artist: The Post Spiderhole Ensemble (@)
Title: False Alarms and Excess Baggage
Format: Tape & Digital Download
Label: Kitchen Leg Records (@)
Rated: *****
There is something alluring, at least to me, about a cassette-only release of well-constructed noise. The Post Spiderhole Ensemble is just one dude, a German named A.K. (Andrew Kemp), but damn if Herr Kemp doesn’t make some delicious and decidedly beautiful sonic trouble here on False Alarms and Excess Baggage. The word “collage” comes to mind as you dive in here. There are bells and whistles and motherfucking melody, too. “Precious Fragments” kicks things off with some nifty little indie rock (imagine a bunch of super stoned music nerds holed up in a basement somewhere doing bongs and making magic) walled in by killer sad clown horns and buzzy machinery. If you dig old Fly Ashtray, you’ll love it.

As the record progress, Kemp adds in touches of goth-y drone that is reminiscent of the kind of babies Tones on Tail and Coil would have had if they were on a codeine binge. So good. I really like this cassette a lot. It’s got that familiar lo-fi buzz crackling all through it that reminds me of an old Sears stereo I had growing up. Everything I listened to on it sounded warm and loving and imperfect. False Alarms and Excess Baggage has been in the making for the past 15 years and that both bums me out and makes me smile. I’m bummed because it tells me I could have been enjoying some of these nuggets for the past decade and a half and I’m smiling because Kemp cares enough about his art to be thoughtful in how he releases it.

“Shattered Knees” is all bassy throb, weaving in and out of distorted treble heavy guitar-ish noise. The vocals add to the hypnosis of it all and lend to the languid head bobs I can’t help but do as I listen. A.K. gets you moving on this record. I wish there was a chronological order as to when the songs were recorded because there does seem to be progress here as around track 8 (“ShipsIn The Sand”), which is one of the few slightly forgettable tracks on here, there does seem to be a shift in production values.

It would also be great to have information as to how A.K.’s influences expanded over the 15 years these songs were being made. “Grin At The Sun,” for example, sounds like a deconstructed Strokes song. Was he listening to a lot of Strokes when he made this? I’d love to know! The rock and roll ecstasy that is “Trust The Dollar” is all new wave, fuzz, and we’re back to the indie rockers in the basement, although the weed has worn off and the caffeine has kicked in here. Is there anything better than a great riff that is kinda backwards and weird? This song is kinda like something corporate Beck, not young, cool Beck, would have written and then thought, “No, the record label won’t go for this.”

Perhaps the greatest thing about this cassette, though, is that it gives hope. It is filled with hope, really. The hope for more of The Post Spiderhole Ensemble music in the future. The hope that anyone with some good ideas and the patience to learn some tech and put it all together can make a wonderfully fun and clever record. The hope that it will never end, even though “Paris, With the Same Age On His Bathtub” ends this cassette perfectly.

Artist: Italo Brutalo
Title: Knight Fever
Format: 12" + Download
Label: Bungalo Disco
Although it’s not the overt tribute to the Pontiac Trans Am or the Stuart Phillips theme of “Knight Rider”, the Knight Fever EP is a more open-ended slice of retro. It’s instrumental italo-electro-disco style material with a thoroughly 80’s make-up, but with modern production values and a genre-open approach that allows the inclusion of acid squelches and other elements of varying levels of anachronism. And yes, it’s kind of synthwave, sort of.

The bright infectious riff of “Taniacid” is unashamedly feel-good and is a highlight. When “Trust Doesn’t Rust” takes a similar attitude but over a lazier groove, it doesn’t quite shine as brightly. “Knightmares” is also at more of a walking pace, but its more aggressive throbbing light-industrial bassline and nicely quirky melody carries it through- but when “Not A Drop To Drink” sets off at the same tempo, with another old school simple Italian-ish bassline, in a few ways it does start to feel like it is a single musical idea that has been stretched and filled out somewhat even just to fill a 4-track EP.

It’s strong synthwavey production with some really strong melodic elements, but it doesn’t constantly sparkle.


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