Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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Music Reviews

Artist: Roman Rofalski
Title: Loophole
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Nonclassical
Loophole is a four-track EP that sees Berlin-based pianist Roman Rofalski supposedly channel his love for 90’s underground techno into a piano work- though let’s say from the start that the results are not techno, either piano-techno or otherwise. It’s a fusion that’s been melded before- it draws a lot of comparison to some of Christian Prommer’s works- but while Prommer and other artists have composed fairly purist techno-inspired but traditional pieces, Rofalski instead has adopted a more editing-heavy and processing-heavy approach.

On “Alpha”, the chopping up of the improvised acoustic piano sounds has an abruptness and punchiness that gives it a lot of energy, and it really feels like it has been composed after it was performed. “Sea”, by contrast, is initially a more ambient work, setting sparse individual high notes over a drone and effects bed derived but long detached from the low note sounds, before a gradual and decidedly soundtrack-like tension build-up in the second half, where we’re joined rather unexpectedly by cut-up drum sounds that give everything a more avantgarde jazz feel.

“Nagging” has a tense, unsafe feel thanks to its high string-scratching tones, before final piece “Redemption” is the track that comes closest to the EP’s techno-inspired pitch, with a more rhythmic approach and a nicely constructed repeated pattern of low bass notes and sharp-cut percussion- ultimately it still feels more like modern jazz than techno, but it’s very accessible, with crossover audience potential.

At times, the glitchy cut-up processing is a little reminiscent of Brian Transeau, and if you like his more mature soundtrack work, this will appeal in a similar way. If this were the soundtrack to a short film- and it sounds like it ought to be- I’d watch it.

Artist: Spime.Im
Title: Zero
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: -OUS
Spime.Im- as far as I can tell it’s pronounced as a collision between “space” and “time”, which then rhymes with “I’m”- are a four piece of Davide Tomat, Gabriele Ottino, Stefano Maccarelli and Marco Casolati. It seems Tomat and Ottino are mostly responsible for the music, though Maccarelli’s ‘creative coding’ certainly could have come into play sonically. I’d only encountered one of Tomat’s albums before- the utterly excellent “01-06 June”- so it was a name I was happy to see again.

Zero is a compact and frantic 4-track EP which just explodes with glitchy electronic energy. After the Aphex Twin-ish deliberate false leads and sudden rhythm jumps of “Zero19”, “Zero4” is three minutes of unadulterated mania- the artistic and electronica equivalent of happy hardcore. “Zero8” is somewhat more atmospheric, letting hollow-sounding tones run slightly longer but still with plenty of noise work flitting around on top, and “Zero9” equally pulls between breathing space and the border with insanity.

Apparently the Spime.Im project is as much about immersive audio-video experiences and 3D art as it is about the sonic result. The present day lockdown surely clips their wings somewhat at the moment, but concentrating on the sounds alone, it’s a packed and very likeable 16 minutes that feels like the equivalent of giving your ears an invigorating shower, complete with abrasive scrub. Parts of it ought to be painful but overall it’s very satisfying.

Flug 8: Electric Field

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Artist: Flug 8
Title: Electric Field
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ransom Note Records
After previous releases powered by a more driving techno, Flug 8’s Electric Field album is described as the sound of a rocket which, after the drama of planetary escape, is now floating or orbiting more contentedly in space. Here are eight gentle electronica pieces, averaging around five minutes each without any of them being in a real hurry to go anywhere.

After the particularly floaty opener of “Night Field”, “Arc To Time” sets up the main form for the release, which is built from various layered and looping melodic patterns. Four-chord patterns roll round and round, with sparse synth notes, twinkly decorative sounds and calm, long pads. There’s generally a lot of space at the low end, but at times these structures share so much in common with old-style trance and electronica that it feels like a clubbier remix of these tracks could be done as simply as just sticking some kick drums underneath. Drums do appear later on in “Side Bands”, giving a gentle sense of purpose rather than real industry.

Inbetween are situated some more ambient and sombre moments, such as the structureless atmospherics of sci-fi “Bubble Cell”, the nicely plaintive and hollow-sounding “Effective Height”, or the slightly more sinister and robotic elements in “Polarizing”. The weird raspy noises in final piece “Cosmic Noise” are the only point where this set-up feels truly unusual.

It’s space music with its foot firmly off the gas, laden with reverb and for the most part extremely calm and picturesque. It lacks distinctive production touches or melodies that would really elevate it into the musical stratosphere, but it’s a nicely beautiful short electronica album for sure.

Isolated Material: Aliased

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Artist: Isolated Material
Title: Aliased
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ukonx Recordings
Rated: *****

BUY from  HERE
Isolated Material is the project of a mysterious 25 years old French producer who now lives in Berlin and "Aliased" is his first release.
The EP released by Ukonx Recordings contains six tracks that you can file under the electro genre.
The titles "Control Your Mind", "Programmatic", "Dotted", "Ritual", "Root Cause" and "Spinning" give to the idea of a dystopian society and the anxious atmosphere of the tracks are the right soundtrack of such theme.
Musically we have a rich rhythmical sound palette which usually is distorted, where fragmented patterns are joined by warm pads and an upfront bass line which on most of the tracks follows the drum pattern creating a hypnotic dangerous feeling.
The tracks create the effect of being in the middle of a thunderstorm: do you remember the weather in a "Blade Runner" typical day? Ok, something like that, but worse.
Electro, a bit of acid and a pinch of glitch sounds, stir and "Aliased" is ready for you to taste!

Artist: VV.AA.
Title: YuyYu x Infinite Machine
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Infinite Machine
This various artists set is a collaboration between Mexican club night YuYu, and the very reliable Infinite Machine label. It serves several purposes, including to showcase the health and quality of the club and electronic scene acrossMexico, and also act as a fundraiser for the people whose livelihood is in trouble whilst that club scene is closed thanks to coronavirus.

After kicking off in purposeful fashion with the chanting techno of Er Irreal Veintiuno’s “Demagogia”, it quickly twists towards the darker, more sinister electronic sounds I associate with Infinite Machine. I can’t imagine any dancefloors throbbing to the awkward time signature and metallic pulses of Turning Turso’s “Los Dos”, but as a piece of home-listening EDM (and isn’t every piece of music home-listening music at the moment?), it’s got some excellent detailing. A throbbing, sub-bass-heavy techno with above-average rhythm complexity is the home ground here, though Tomas Urquieta’s “Midake”, Undefined Pattern’s “En Contra” and more.

It’s cleverly sequenced. Benfika’s “Torrente” contrasts nicely its plinky, trap-like top end with gutpunching and aggressive rhythms. In turn this plays well against AAAA (not Jimmy Cauty)’s initially lighter and breaksier “Phased Flashing On A Building”, and Microhm’s beautiful and trancey “Kyoke”.

Within the broad umbrella of EDM, it’s generally very consistent in vision, with no real odd-ones-out. It’s dominated by instrumentals so Camila Fuchs’ “Settle Down”, with its “oh it scares me” refrain that’s somewhere inbetween Siouxsie, Yoko Ono and Bjork, comes as a bit of a surprise- but generally, the surprises are few.

Other highlights include OMAAR’s deceptively simple but effective house-acid crossover “Sabe”, the skittish, glitchy “Leitmotiv” from CNDSD, and the nicely meaty brooding progressive of Nico’s “Walk”.

Like most compilations, there’s a sense of a large buffet rather than a full meal. With the majority of these tracks under five minutes, there are points where you’re left wanting more, forced to resort to Googling whether those artists have got full albums out. But there isn’t a single duff one in the pack, and ambitious and very open-minded DJ’s will find a lot to work with (or at least to practice with, at the moment) in this pack.


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