Friday, August 7, 2020
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Music Reviews

Glok: Dissident Remixed

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Artist: Glok
Title: Dissident Remixed
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Bytes
Around a year ago I gave “Dissident” a generally positive review, as a decent piece of synthwave work (from the historically non-synthwave Andy Bell, not the Erasure one etc.), with the 20-minute title track earning particular praise but some of the other tracks feeling a little experimental and running out of steam. Now, a year on, Glok have enlisted the help of a stellar list of guests to remix the tracks, and in some cases fully realise pieces that perhaps felt a little bit underbaked on first outing.

Many of the tracks play on the safe side, rolling steady DJ-friendly electro and progressive house vibes that unfold gradually and without drama. Richard Sen’s version of “Dissident” and Franz Kirmann’s version of “Kolokol” are among these, although the latter’s extra dub version at the end of the release is perhaps more interesting than the main mix. Glok’s own extended mix of “Pulsing”- of which there’s a 15-minute version, but the album version has been cut down to 7- exemplifies the patience of just letting a groove, that’s acid and house without being acid house, meander and fade in and out, and the resulting sense of satisfaction- with its exit through the ‘ambient’ door slightly unexpected.

Others allow themselves to break off in different directions. The unexpectedly funky bouncing-bass groove and glitchy dance-rock of Minotaur Shock’s version of “Weaver” comes from the leftfield. C.A.R. takes the trip-hoppy original of “Weaver”, strips it down and spaces it out into something much more atmospheric. Timothy Clerkin’s 90bpm take on “Projected Sounds” elasticates and rubberises the groove and gives it a kind of adventurous swagger, covered in many layers of top-end pretty sounds- though the screaming guitar loop that arrives halfway through does feel a touch noisy and invasive.

Special mention obviously has to go to the late legend Andrew Weatherall, whose contribution to making the electronic music landscape as diverse and rich as it is has been justifiably much discussed, but really can’t be understated. Weatherall mixes were never predictable, and so it is here, with a version of “Cloud Cover” that goes for soft synth-symphonic electro, nicely underplayed but always steadily evolving- and with a fitting and almost symbolic catch-you-out tempo change ending.

The Jay Glass Dubs Reboot of “Exit Through The Skylight”, curiously, ends up sounding a little more old-school-Weatherall-like than the Weatherall remix thanks to its Sabres Of Paradise-ish use of slow delays in its electrodub. The Maps remix of “Pulsing” embraces the synthwave idea most of all, with its bright chord breakdowns, but enough complex production to prevent it from sounding truly retro.

To top it off and add value, an eight-minute edit of the original album’s 20-minute title track, that sounds more and more Tangerine Dream-like the more you listen to it, wraps things up nicely.

There was certainly nothing wrong with the original album, at all, but if anything this remix album manages to make it better- fully realising and fleshing out some of the sketchier tracks, and adding more breadth thanks to the diverse range of contributions. Rather than ‘milking another remix album’ as other labels are sometimes prone to, Bytes (as part of the Ransom Note group) have rolled out an essential electronica work that absolutely deserves to be listened to, even if the original passed you by.


Signal~Bruit: Hyperborée

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Artist: Signal~Bruit
Title: Hyperborée
Format: CD
Label: productionB
Rated: *****
"Hyperborée" is the second album by Signal-Bruit, the second solo project of Celluloide's keyboardist Member U-0176.
"Hyperborée" is also the second release of productionB, sub-label of BOREDOMproduct which is dedicated to the release of projects sounding a bit more experimental compared to what BOREDOMproduct is releasing usually.
This album contains nine new tracks which are chapters of a story based on the journey of Pytheas, a Greek sailor lived in the 4th century BC who embarked toward the northern seas, aiming to prove that the Earth is a sphere and that if someone was standing on the top of it, he should be able to see the sun all day.
Each track is a soundtrack to a different moment of the travel: if "Lacydon" shows the start of the trip, on "Pentécontère I" he's heading to the pillars of Herakles just to pass to the open Atlantic on "Atlantique".
At every stop, he's meeting new people or strange creatures until on "Baltique" he's facing the cold and the ice.
His travel ends with "Nuit Blanche" where the sunset and the sunrise melt in only one moment.
Musically the tracks ideally melt the '70s Berlin/French school of electronic music.
Most of the rhythms are produced by sequencers (if you have in mind the early Klaus Schulze albums, you know what I mean) while melodically I hear echoes of early Jarre and I'm not saying this because Member U-0176 is French.
Think about that mixture of styles and add also a modern production that gives a fresh approach to classic sounds.
Nice release!



Gintas K: Amnesia

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Artist: Gintas K
Title: Amnesia
Format: CD + Download
Label: self-released
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.


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Artist: Darcey Electronics
Title: Hallo
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Plant Life
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.


IIITAIII: Zeros And Twos

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Artist: IIITAIII
Title: Zeros And Twos
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Truthtable
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.



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