Pregnant Void Records
TBR: 15th March
Making his debut as alter-ego Cleptophonic, this secretive Italian DJ and studio whiz puts down a unique and thorough sound with every turn. Already with a reputation for exquisite attention to detail, something we could all do with a bit more of I would say, we're brought into a rich and diverse world of experimental trip-hop. Cleptophonic gets lost in his productions, when at the mixing desk and vinyl decks, nothing else matters while he's producing his mind warping and adventurous music. Ensuring that all the sounds are full of meaning, Cleptophonic chooses ways of associating with sensations and emotions through his compositions and mixes that draw us in for countless inspirations. The creation of a vinyl musical collage with the help of computer software results in intricate and entertaining dreamscapes built from carefully selected units of music.
It starts on Degrade. Glistening synth pads ring out in warbling tones which scatter fragments of light across the empty space. Wooden drums reverberate and echo to one side, forming a rhythmic pulse to the cushion of glowing sound. Chords begin to form from the solitary notes, extra tones bustle together to fill out the melodic ocean of synthesiser. New tempos build in through the loop of sounds which run together like neatly placed bricks. Undercurrents of sound and trill swirl through the mixture. It closes down and makes way for Space 92. Deep and throaty bass tones gargle in odd tangents while a drum-beat slowly builds into a groovy rhythm. Cymbals, snare, and kick-drum form a neat and calming beat for more wide-reaching and luminous pads to lay their striated atmospheres. Relaxing beats and subtle melodics gather the dream and flatten it out in front of our ears.
A bass and funky tone drum melody follows. Jerky beats on the shaking bass notes mix with tapping quick-drum to let us in on a traditional feel. Rhythmic tones add another layering of quality which progresses into a wide open field on sonics, sprinkled with glittering cymbal strikes and strange breathy sounds. JZz65 slowly moves us along streets of high-rise buildings, their metallic frontages shining in the artificial glow of neon lighting. Turing over the record, the next number starts with a subtle bubbling drum. It's difficult to hear and as we prickle our sensations to catch it, a fruity and wobbly bass-tone breaks through the moss like a plough. Striking beats crumble into the distant background beats, and they're joined by a more classical sounding drum-kit which adds a calm-tempered and consistent rhythm. Dust is a track that feels like we are examining a tiny area of the ground which for some reason has completely captivated us.
Rounded tones strike bell-like melodies while a spiralling treble tone grows up and out like spring shoots. Fingered percussion on tuneful gamelan style notes greet wailing guitar clean yet dowsed in a generous dose of reverb. Enchanting piano melody begins to play over the top of the track, as the guitar and percussion rattle on behind, a violin string adds yet more colour to this beautiful and gentle composition. So I Go perhaps remembers the feeling of putting the dreams away for another day and heading back to the centre. It rolls out and over into Oddissey in a seamless transition. Plucked string and wooden melodics combine to give a soul of a swaying and relaxing rhythm. Breaths of synthesiser tone plant atmosphere and motivational textures to the mix. The music breaks down into just one melody for a couple of bars. Highly warped tones do their best to make effective impacts on the silence and as they valiantly surge forward, extra sections of the mix rejoin the composition to give them a hand.
The second vinyl of the album starts with Five. Steady digital kick drum builds in tempo while a mixture of synth tones play in unison to a two stroke melody. New notes poke through in a rhythm which greets the jostling drums. An evolved version of the initial melody continues to play on through the mix while dub rhythms create a frothy and happy feeling groove. The rhythms merge with squelchy bass tones and the kick pierces the surface in regular intervals. More melody is gained, the harmonies reaching up and down, and interesting sounding tones reach out to the sides with gradually shifting frameworks. Capture opens with a staggered bass drum which gradually gets garnished with extra percussive elements. Synthesiser pads reveal yet more glorious zones of inner intention, each bar effortlessly transmutes to the next, occasionally revealing a new edge and other times climbing on the invisible air left behind. Where does all this energy go? Into enjoyment pleasure.
Distant rumblings of industry mark the opening bars of the next number. As the revolving engineering continues in its process, rhythmic static bursts of energy split the atmosphere like sparks. A vocal sample speaks the title of the track, Wrong Place, and darkly sinister tones twinkle like menacing lights on overbearing architecture. Shadows loom over the busy horizon, yet a sense of pitch darkness gives a grainy and detached quality. The ominous sensations which creep up and tower over us gives us an adventure into areas less walked. Rumbling drums which carry an element of crack and smash shed a new found light on the music for what comes next. BB is the first track of side two on the second vinyl. Skyrising tones climb ever upwards in angelic bursts of perspicuous sound. As the signals of sound grow up and out, rhythmic patterns neatly arrange the slowly evolving array of beats and melody to fit a DJs repertoire.
The next track is called Insane. Edgy drum starts with a motion of progression and soon it's joined by reversed tones that wobble on their own axis. This balance of sound acts like a fulcrum which adjusts in a circular motion, perfectly balanced and ready for the next element of music. Spongy bass tones crunch in ghostly downpours of vibration. The album ends on Bonheur, happy hour indeed, we've had a great journey from start to finish. The track starts with heavenly synths that dance like moving sunlight, strings and vocal effects create an angelic chorus of melody. An ocean vibrates slowly in the background, its waves breaking and receding over a stony shore. Birdsong clamours through the arrangement, pushing all to one side before that too fades into silence.
Cleptophonic ought to be extremely proud of this artistic and far reaching escapade into sound and delight. Ambient and astounding, Movente makes full use of a sonic arsenal of atmospheres, rhythms, and sonic architecture.
Find Music on Pregnant Void on Bandcamp
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Ultra rare music, so enjoy this playlist from parent label OUT-ER.
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Hill Of Vision
Just This Records
TBR: 22nd February
Gloomy and introspective electronic sounds are the forte of Just This, the electric collective based in sunny Milan. This snappy four track release delves deep and mines for those waveforms which reflect the way we can sometimes feel. Hill Of Vision make full use of their companion in composition Alex.Do, who lends his talents for a remix. Uncovering the twilight of the soul and shining dimly glowing lamps on the sinister sculptures etched into the walls of dream, Hill Of Vision and Evolution mark yet another grand chapter in the story of Just This. Named after the classical description of visual perception, once described as a hill of vision in a sea of darkness, it draws our thoughts in to the things that we cannot perceive and if we are really in a position to say either or on any deeper truth.
Murky rhythmic pulses echo and bubble in shady corners as the title track begins the record. Tapping sonics with distorted edges gradually grow into a quickly moving head bopping slurry of sound. High amplitude insertions of disjointed and sampled sound break through like rocks poking from the lapping shore. Vocals and metallic tubular wind sounds dance and build while a subtle intensity loops through the consistent and punchy undercurrent of tempo. Glowing breaths of crystal clear tone start to decorate the otherwise spacious and edgy mix. A heavenly feel overpowers any notion of anxiety that the first half of the track was pointing to. I can see why this is called Evolution.
The second number is a remix of the first. Alex.Do has taken the initial airy and downcast introducing rhythm and pushed it into a new realm of energy. The transition has given the piece a second wind of dance compatibility, having a more grabby and solid percussive effect. Synths gargle and twist beneath the punchy drumming and occasionally push through in singular flurries of form. The gear-shift early on with the addition of another layering of drums is soon greeted by another one, this time as a pulsating synthesiser tone. Twangy beats and repeating drum patterns give rise to a slowly progressing journey through evolving rhythms. The remix of Evolution sounds totally different to the original, and that matters a lot.
The third track is called Signs. It begins with a double layering of kick-drum and synthesiser, and soon these are joined by more eerie sounds. Channels of sonic clarity form around shadows of misty atmosphere. Soon a new pressure is added as another layer of drums gives a double timed beat to the already fast tempo. Distant drums thunder from nearby hills in sporadic bursts of tribal communication. Vocalised keyboard tones waver through shimmering pulsations of tinkling drum and thudding bass. As the progression brings us into new corners of the track, volumes of various elements are nudged up to become dominant parts in the mix while other sections fade into back-seat territory.
Spiralling synthesiser opens the final track on Evolution EP. Land Of Vision opens a vast landscape of sonic topography while a gentle build of drumming brings in a bustling array of vibrant nature. The patterns and gestures within each bar are gracefully balanced on each other while persistent growth and change builds an adventuring spirit through the mix. Chunky bass tones thump through in melodic trunks of tube-like sound while pushes of tone slide around on slinky dance-floors allowing whole groups of people to be swept along by the tidal composition. Surges of drumming and crashing cymbals build on the already teetering peaks of energy which culminate in an exciting yet decisively murky thrust into the mental half of the universe.
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Peter Van Hoesen
Opal Balance EP
TBR: 11th February
Opening the doors to his fresh Center 91 impress, Peter Van Hoesen puts his own mark down as catalogue entry number one. This Belgian soundsmith wants to turn back the clock and explore everything memorable about the late nineties Belgian underground. Electronic music fans, wipe away the drool, enqueue these tracks and take a trip to yesterday's Europe. With rave and techno dominating the scene at the time, it's no wonder that Van Hoesen wants to push the sights towards these epic, room moving sounds.
It begins with a frantic techno beat, thumping bass and jostling hats which project a fast dancing tempo. Soon, subtle electronic sounds bubble up from underneath, they're mechanical and vocal expressions as if our printer were trying to speak. More rhythms build in through the underground, and span new sections of energetic intent. Rumbling drums that move along in a funky melody revolve around the quick and steady atmospherics. Static and synth merge through twisting corridors of rhythmic sound and the surging tones that build and flow underneath become gradually more intense. Gadarene feels like a futuristic yet stripped down rendition of dance-floor history. As it progresses and shifts around, the consistent beat keeps everything together in one forward facing arrow of dance.
Kres comes next. Starting with an atmosphere piercing rhythm made of high pitched drums, soon new undercurrents of beat join in to build the scene. Bouncy sonics throw themselves like detuned strings on a bass guitar. Joining the dots with elasticated notes, a spongy and wholesome sandwich of tones begins to form the tune. Still more rhythms pile in to keep the energy floating high above our heads. Disorientating bass with fast quick stepping rhythms make this an interesting and mind prompting number. Strange animal sounds begin to form from the distorted synth tones, and soon even these crumble down into something hardly recognisable. Thrusting through the chaotic surge of sound comes another beat, this time at a seemingly greater tempo. Maybe it's all in my head, who knows, it doesn't matter anymore.
Third up is the title track. Funky drums with an infusion of crispy static begin the pulse. Soon another layering of drums gives a secondary feel to the flow. Sonic journeys revolve in a spiralling ascent through dynamic beats and hilly horizons of sound. Rhythmic synths like energy weapons thrust their bolts of charge across the room, from left to right, and their echoing presence assists the forward thrust of the music. Opal Balance wants to increase the pressure, raise the energy, and improve the flow of dance in the room. With intellectual beats and fascinating sounds the dance piece keeps us excited and wanting to move.
Stodgy electro bass begins the fourth and final number on this EP. Subtle hats tap away behind in the background while chompy and multi-faceted tones step around on a pivot of key. Layers of drums sprinkle over at various sections while new and stretchy sounds gently lay over the top. Robotic and industrial atmospheres dominate the whole EP however this time they seem to be the main player. Technological adventures into sonic horizons with a catchy dancing beat seem to be the right cup of tea for this newly founded imprint. Center 91 looks set to blast the past back at us in the guise of accessible modernity.
Catch Peter Van Hoesen on Soundcloud
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We Are All Human
TBR: 25th January
Label co-founder Steve Hadfield takes on the task of exploring what it means to be a human being through the medium of his trademark warm melodies sewn in with Warp style vintage techno. Since the success of Ether Awe from 2018, Hadfield has grown his mindset to encompass more sides to the story. Where as the previous work aimed to offer an escape from the confusing and frustrating world around us, now we're given an opportunity to turn about and make steps towards resolutions. The onset of tension clearly marks a new wave of intent from the artist, and where the music reveals its adjusted energy, the dream crashes down to unveil the reality of the situation. With questions like “is free will an illusion?” and “can people be evil?”, raging through his mind, Steve Hadfield creates a soundtrack to digest some of these big picture questions.
Opening with a wave of squashy synth tones and a crashing techno rhythm that surges with amplitude over the course of a few bars, a sudden blanket of daylight streams through in the form of high pitched tones. The combination is dirty and fiery yet contains an element of surreal clarity which surpasses all else. High-speed thought processes and underlying emotions which govern their direction merge in a twisting composition of two sides. As the music crumbles down during the midsection, elements of consistency push on through and become the fabric to what builds on its weave. Stunning flurries of melody bounce from one side to another while the thumping drums contain it all within something to dance to. Moral Juggernaut is a huge number, and a perfect start to this album.
A cosmic edge pulls in the scenery for act two, Disco Robot starts with a twinkling of lights from distant skies. Metallic beats ground the music in large spaces of reverb and as everything settles, bass tones add a wandering perspective on the formulation. Twiddly melodics spiral upwards in dancing tunes which give rise to mental images of birds twisting over towers. The high reaching buildings made of bass and drum are lined with windows of splashy cymbal which give everything a sunny reflection. Next is The Illusion of Free Will, an interesting concept and an interesting piece. Unlike the theory, this number does stand up in court. It's a composition of graceful bells and harmonies which give a gentle nudge into shiny waters.
Family Friendly Cryptocurrency explores the idea behind itself. Is there such a thing? Making money out of bubbles is commonly seen as wrong, even if the ones blowing in the air are wealthy. Business sense and economic sense meet somewhere in the middle, and good business is sustainable with clear benefits to the wider society. Can we say this about all the things we give money to? Who knows. This amble through stodgy bass and slowed drums gives us plenty of mental room to muse on the state of the world and the priorities people have. I wish I could never worry about money of course, and would love to make a lot of it, but like most people, I feel that it must be done properly. It's why I put a lot of care into my work, as I hope you can tell.
A quirky title gleaned from music theory for the fifth track, Fsus(b#) add(#5) is the name of a chord if I'm not mistaken. The combination of notes would be the ones I'm hearing perhaps. A spooky and eerie atmosphere with a well lit portion of the room makes up the interesting and widely reaching composition. Repetitive tones and bashing drums which, with a cymbal heavy glow, frame a progressive and edgy journey upwards into higher energetic states. The transition energy being greater with each step, we quickly find ourselves balancing on a heighty pinhead of musical force.
Mangled synths open the sixth number, their oddly angled journey and knotted individualities combine to form a punchy high reaching stab into the mists of uncertainty. Rhythms with extra melody crunch in like the teeth of time, masticating the bits too big to swallow. Synchronise Your Dogmas reminds us that all policy in the world is about social harmony and political cohesion. anything else is just unnecessary. Twisting beats with shifting sands of synthesiser bring a space infused chaos to the sonic toolkit of intentions. Manic branches of melody span into the air like the newly forming twigs on April trees, and birdsong glistens in the cloudy upper section as the newly flown in activity settles in the canopy of sound.
Not My Problem Not My Problem is a less than a minute reminder that this is also a way people feel. Unfortunately, so often one person's problem becomes another's and eventually, no matter how it's dressed, it comes knocking on your door too. Airy and sinister warbles of sound briefly garnish the album until they slink back into the shadows. And from here we meet Gloom Funk. Swirling chimneys of sound climb into the murky distance while tense rhythms cast an unfamiliar sense of adjusted reality. It's dark in here, and if we stay too long, we may end up as one of those giant factories in the distance, cold and lifeless yet full of bustle.
Next track is We Are All Earthlings. Including the tress and the flies, who knows if there's anything here that originated in outer-space? Maybe we all did, I mean, it's still unknown how self-replicating molecules formed and how they became sentient. One theory is that everything is sentient in its own right, and wants to be able to experience more deeply so naturally progresses towards intelligent life. What ever the situation may be, we are here and until we die, we have to make the most of it. What we do here is up to us, no-one signed a life contract that agrees to anything, but of course we do have consequences too and no matter what we do they will always arise. So lets plant positive everywhere, it's a good start. Not blind positive, where we close our eyes to the negative, but constructive positive which builds on what good there already is. We are all earthlings, after-all.
Track ten begins with melodic bells which remind me of a child's toy but in a newly found key. Twisting elements in the key bring on a wavering sensation that eventually brings on digital winds of static. These begin to drown all out in a torrent of chaotic flash flooding noise, until they dissipate into nothing, once again revealing just the bells. Nationality Is Coincidence is short and snappy, and a least from a non-Buddhist perspective, it's true. This peels away to reveal The Creation Of Ends, and it strikes a sombre tone with deep and thoughtful synths that dig down and down. A vocal sample cracks the sky like lightning, and it gives rise to a dancing beat. Tappy drums and interesting fills give an artistic quality to the sinister yet strangely pleasant composition. The track swells and progresses into a head heavy surge of sound and energy. It washes out all resistance to loving Steve's music, not that there was any for me, I know a good hook when I hear one.
Finishing with a tranquil feel, the second to last instalment takes us on a swooping journey through lush and colourful soundscapes. Give Me A Replay, I Can Work Harder sounds like a plea, however I feel like it's an acceptance that every day is a new start and what ever happened before is just the rehearsal. We of course can't expect people to forget their experiences of you but thankfully there's billions of new ones to get it better this time with. We are all human, after-all. Soaring melodics with feedbacking tone swirl into the dusty corners of our consciousness and remind us that we're still there. In amongst the clippings and sound-bytes, the black and white reruns and the misremembered sections, there's something real too. Something present, something now.
The album ends with Hope, and with a plucked melody and plunging electro-drums, we're greeted with a slow return to where we started yet this time with a little more insight on the global situation. Steve Hadfield has remarkably explored some of the biggest issues we face as global citizens and expressed his feelings through music. By listening we get to think on these things for ourselves, and if you're like me, write about your findings.
We Are All Human by Steve Hadfield is available on Bandcamp
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From the author: Alternative Fruit – Exploring the alternative arts scene and spreading knowledge around the world.
Also, you may enjoy Mars by 1980: The Story of Electronic Music by David Stubbs
Auf Togo, Becker, and Mukai
Auf Togo Meets Becker and Mukai
TBR: 25th January
When these cutting-edge music producers met up in Shoreditch at Sounds And Sons Studios during 2018, they gave their all on this collaborative project. After a couple of long sessions of making, mixing, and mastering, the combination of hours, talent, and direction of the day resulted in this four track ability demonstration. It's always a unique experience whenever we play along with a new musician and the groove that naturally fits each group of people always sounds different. Auf Togo are comprised of Sasa Crnobrnja of In Flagranti and Clement CachotCoulom from The Fabulous Penetrators. On the other hand, Jean-Gabriel Becker from Lux Prima and Susumu Mukai from Zongamin make up the natural force that is Becker and Mukai. This nod towards 80s underground dance with a space-age twist makes full use of the vintage and modern sounds these artists are known for.
Tropical rhythms strike the opening phrase of Cruiser which carry a swirling digital twist of staticy fuzz. A drumbeat layers over like a well-fitted bed-sheet and the groove opens out to allow for steady dancing. Rhythmic melodics flow through the open doors in bursts of distorted colour before a choral burst of voices start casting a majestic spell. After so many bars of easy going beats, in pours the bass. Like dewdrops on huge blades of grass, liquid globules of sound quiver all around. A misty spray of melody begins, in harmony with the chunkier bass. The entire mix is pinned down to a tight beat which makes sure every element is kept on the drum. With each passing moment, the track progresses further, bringing new instruments into the flow. There's even an electric guitar.
Then, a riding tone brings along a thumping bass drum which then entices percussive melodics to follow in turn. The drums evolve and gather pressure with new additions to the mix. New bass tones drag in a heavy section which fits in a perfectly balanced 3D sonic space. Squidgy notes bounce around in rubbery spaces which become jamming prompts for chuggy guitars. Layers of synthesiser sprinkle rapidly moving journeys of spatial ceilings which trickle down like falling leaves to greet the spongy undertones. Before Time makes us think of a universe where time did not exist. As light makes up the nature of time, due to the fact it must travel at a set speed no matter how fast we are going personally, it becomes clear that light-speed is more tangible than time. In order to preserve the speed of light, time speeds up or slows down depending on our speed in the universe. Light-speed Vs. Time and Light-speed wins every time. Is it all in the mind?
Melodic rhythms begin New Dawn. A funky drum-beat and bass lick roll in to bring in a new feel to the music. Rhythm guitar lays down psychedelic grooves to bring out a stylish and nostalgia inducing layer to the track. Drums increase in variety, pounding bass sections with shakers and wooden blocks all combine to let out a full-on moving tempo. The bass keeps inserting powerful section of beat while the music drifts along in well-mannered variations. Strange sound-effects begin to sparkle and whistle in the background, growing louder, a jungle of music starts to glisten before us. It's a catchy progressive number that has a highly memorable composition.
What sounds like the ticking of a disco-clock springs open the last track on this EP. More melodic drums add a layer of movement to the stable clicking of the metronome style percussion. Digital bass notes begin to bounce on stable plinths, elevated from the humming of the dance-floor, while even higher tones perform acrobatic tricks and artistic poses while flapping long silken scarves. A retrotastic feel drips from the seams of this one, the choice of voice on the keyboards brings home memories of 16 bit computer games while the strict dancing formulae continually bring home the club. High Sweat is a great number, one that ends the EP perfectly, and invites us to do it all again.
Watch the video for Cruiser on Youtube.
Buy/pre-order Auf Togo Meets Becker and Mukai from Amazon
Plus 8 Records
TBR: 1st February
Sliding in on the dance-floor after three years of musical silence, Plus 8 Records unleash the power of Fabio Florido on the masses with this high energy and resounding EP. The multiverse is massive, and with every idea and notion catered for in the infinite realm of possibility, the beats can only go down a corridor of truth. One of Tuscany's finest DJs, and a fresh bread hot producer, Fabio Florido knows exactly what he's doing when it comes to rooms of people who need to dance. The seemingly endless hours of sessions and sets in Italy, Ibiza, and beyond all culminate in the ability of the day which goes down on permanent impress for everyone to enjoy and remember.
The EP begins with a swirling bassline that's engineered to fill all the corners and gradually reach out to encapsulate the whole room. A thudding bass drum acts like a central vector, from which the throbbing synthesiser bass notes find, cling to, and scale. Once they reach their desired pace, the drum pauses briefly to ensure the new sound structure has stability. A few moments pass and everything keeps going as it ought to. That's when a heightened form of the bass drum rolls in with hats and snares entwined which ultimately result in a huge rhythmic progression into techno inspired rave mentality sounds. A real mover after a minute or two, title track Multiverse has that same feel we find in stuff like Cosmic Gate with Exploration of Space. (Follow the link for eBay rarities.)
The Long Fall opens with another pounding bass drum mirrored by a double-timed resonator which could almost be a sports car. The revs increase in amplitude and they're joined by cracking cymbal strikes which smooth the top end into a curvy and sleek run-off. Swirling undersounds grow from the edges and create wholesome and fluffy sonics which gather the individual elements into one place. The beat evolves and with each new pass of the vinyl deck, another push of motion is given room to breath. Having a more hedonistic flavour than the first track, that same dance energy is pushed upwards into more cerebral zones.
Much like the first track, third up Omniverse starts off with an experimental sound delivery of warbling tones. These grow to create a section of bass drum rhythms which are sprinkled with percussive strikes in various places. These gather and fade like groups of cool kids looking for the right place to be seen. As they each find their sweet-spots, the mix grows in intensity with every culmination of settled beats. Forming a big picture over several layers with every passing corner of the sound, the rhythm remains addictive and catchy, and as we're led down the path of dance, a floor shaking synthesiser rhythm pushes everything to one side in order to fuel the movement.
MINUS regular Matador takes a hold of Multiverse for the fourth and final offering on the high energy EP. This remix track throws everything Matador has at the already excellent composition to invoke a slightly different and more trance flavoured version of the number. Fruity basslines and spiralling synths spell a cloudy journey through mountaintop avenues of sound while pinpoint bass and drum throw a fixative blend of percussives down to keep everyone within the edges.
This four track floor-filler is one for the decks and of course for those who like to party in the living room, like me, it's one for the mp3 player too.
Out January 11th
While out exploring the sonic spaciousness within experimental and digital sounds, Mute Branches stumbled upon a delicious dereliction. Nestled within the decrepit hulks of sonic youth, he encountered a mineral vein of such beauty that it became his calling. Knowing that he had to mine it and bring it home in the form of this album, Mute Branches took on the task of chiselling out the glistening music from the solid mass that is intention. Spacious zones of retrospective whist scatter the landscape like broken buildings and untamed gardens playing host to all manner of nature's wonder. This Lichfield sound technician gladly draws on inspiration from eclectic electronic avenues including Beach House, Fennesz, and Oneohtrix Point Never.
Beginning with Acceleration Pact, an eerie melody played with retro style oscillator tones casts a mysterious sensation. Joined by casual twisting percussive elements and atmospheric keyboard additions, the music soon adjusts into a dreamy encounter with the surreal. Playful harmonics resonate from the mixing sounds and chord progressions made from different tone families and what sounds like a shadowy guitar bring ingredients from many meadows to this mildly bubbling cauldron. Experimental adjustments in the direction via tone and scale towards the track's finale slenderly usher us into the next phase of the album. It closes on cosmic drifts of sound like dispersing smoke from a distant fire.
A new organic feel emerges from the delicate chaos of before, a guitar picking oddly tuned melodies to an intermittent drum opens another door in this warm vintagesque recording. From the wings, choral voices and brass instruments plough solid notes through the wavering delivery of the musician, almost as if in a slightly different dimension, the watery barrier distorts the combination on otherwise foundation frequencies, leaving a teetering feeling on what remains. Zoner I sounds like an improvisation that gradually became so much more. The progressive backdrop of drums uncurl to bring out a thumping intersection of rhythm that causes the track to shift up a gear. We're still encapsulated in dream, nudged along imaginary story lines that don't always go the way we want them to.
Nightspot Pigeon Toilet begins on a feedback like wave of metallic tones which wail together in a one direction passage into our minds. Not long after, a beat begins to churn out the music in moving chunks while synthetic bird sounds dash the sides with their odd chirrups. Static in the background grows to meet the middle while new additions of synthesiser tone splash like buckets of warm water over the floor. This shorter number breaks down to reveal a tropical sounding melody played on wooden sounding drums. A deep chiming keyboard breaths chesty tones from the depths into the picture. Riding on the wave of clarity comes a violin style voice, singing in its teased string vibrations to a sad tale of the sea. Gutterclog Economics is a mournful number, bemoaning the loss of free-flowing money perhaps. Rivers dry up and new wells are dug elsewhere, business sense and passion are not the same unfortunately. That along with greed, not paying it forward, which is the other side of the equation. It's good to reward musicians, put it that way.
The fifth number takes us on an underwater dive through glistening turrets and windows which lend their openings to shoals of brightly coloured fish. The Sunken Restaurant takes us down into the depths, where scuba equipment produces streams of bubbles which glint in the dappled light from the well lit surface. As we're drawn in, and greeted by the ambient surroundings, we sit back and enjoy the peaceful tranquillity offered here. Zoner II follows on from the previous title, and follows the story on from the last track. New rhythms break through the heavy yet soft musicality of the number and provide solid foundations for the guitar to joyously explore the underwater landscape around us. Another lengthy title, well over ten minutes of dreamy discovery unroll while under the gently moving waves above. Sunlight pours in through cavernous spaces in the architecture around us and detailed interiors describe lives lived and lives to come in one self contained story of human endeavour.
Ending on This Used, an intense build-up during Zoner II leaves us feeling a little dazed. It's a good feeling, music that draws us in like this is always a skill to produce. The track spreads open like an empty beach with a solitary ice-cream van hidden behind a rolling landscape of dunes. Ghostly music with haunting bells and chimes dissipates over the windswept landscape. As we wander, aimlessly and perhaps even lost, the whispering glow of the nearby ocean keep us on our bearings. Unless, that too, is a mere mirage on this dreamcrest of sounds and intentions of sensation. Closing with a hungry rumbling, fictitious beings from the oceanic core reveal their presence from the undercurrents of our darkest visions. Rather than hurtling up the sands to devour us, they merely sit atop the waves, observing us as we stumble towards the end of the album. I can taste the wow factor.
You can listen to and buy Notanymore by Mute Branches on Bandcamp
Also you can follow Mute Branches on Soundcloud
From the author of The Electro Review - Rowan Tree Poetry Blog. Enjoy!
Batty Bass Records
TBR: 11th February
Experimental dance music is Batty Bass's forte, and what better than to release this rave techno inspired EP from the DJ and producer Hannah Holland. Her celestial back-catalogue of influences spans several generations of genre, and they all get a look in as she creates her own unique sounds. Hannah Holland knows all about the comfy and sweaty atmosphere found in late night basement techno and rave clubs, she's been in the crowd at plenty of parties and behind the decks at several more. It's as if she's making music for herself and it just so happens lots of other people like it too. Genuine musicianship like this deserves to be remembered.
The EP begins with a vocal sample and a breathy synthesiser. It slams us in the ears with something pleasant, so at first we're startled into listening and then almost with immediate effect, we allow the sounds to flow in our minds. Catching rhythms on drums thrown in at various angles merge with the backdrop of melody, which then shifts from one aspect to another without looking back. Street Person links together many forms of groove and dance inspiration via a consistent tempo which, like the backdrop, is in continual motion of delivery. Chunky bass and driving percussion bring the music home straight away.
Title track Mutualism takes the number two spot on the running order. It starts off more progressively than the initial opener. Shadowy beats with compressed elements hurtle along the floor and they're greeted by Boards of Canada (get the t-shirt) style atmospherics that dress them like loosely fitting linen. Soon, a stuttering bass and blip melody enters the scene, and they're soon accompanied by a frantic cymbal bash rhythm that adds sparkle and colour to the already varied palette. Drifting bells begin to carve a notch in the sound, making room for themselves and shifting everything else over to the edges. Then more retrotastic synthesiser tones curdle over the top in streams of twisting melody while stodgy bass tones fill out the floor with social encouragement.
Melodic percussion makes up the introduction for Artist. This third track is again brought into being gently, as the drums spell out a repeating phrase. New vocal samples flutter in on gentle wings before a progression in the drums brings out a shining beat on more traditional sounding instruments. Flurries of sound swing across on vines of key, and in the sky a host of chiming colours spread out in aerial acrobatics. Impressive combinations of instrument, beat, and sound-effect bring on a jungle of delicious and enjoyable sounds. The track evolves to accommodate more tones and melodies which all seem to suit the heart of the piece. It's in there somewhere, behind the immense orchestra of beauty.
Joyce Muniz takes hold of the controls to give us a rendition of the previous track, Artist, from a new perspective. She's adapted the delivery to suit an electronic music crowd who appreciate stripped down beats and intellectual waveforms. Driving bass and cracking drum fills bring about a hard edge to sky-facing synths which soar overhead. Drawing out each section in repetitive yet progressive bars, the track is extended and made more dance compatible than it was before. A key thing to consider is that although it's the same track as the one before, the remix creates a completely new experience. This allows the EP to form a mirror image of itself down the middle.
The Alinka remix of Mutualism starts on a quickly moving drum which continues the theme of retro-progressive keyboards. Soon this all boils down into a static bass rhythm that pounds away until something breaks open. New lights of digital worming tones spew from the open cracks in the sonic egg that's been laid for us. Jerking rhythms with quick stepping bass-lines revolve around a continually shifting sand of melody. Springy notes drift along in the treetops while cutting and harsh synthesiser tones splice through the spongy textures. Massive dancing beats keep emerging from the spiralling sounds which drift away from the core in comfortable and experimental tangents.
To finish, a remix of Street Person is offered up by Carry Nation, a name borrowed from a century old female icon who preached the prohibition of alcohol. It takes us in gently, with smooth keyboards revealing a slinky melody and rhythm. Soon a flurry of blippy tones begin to dance like raindrops over a brick sculpture, each level manifesting in various related notes. Casual drumming makes an appearance following some affirming vocal sample work, and soon all the elements of the track are brought in to party with each other. The combination of direction is a fantastic way to finish off this splendid EP.
Follow Hannah Holland on Soundcloud
Out-ER (Electronic Recordings)
TBR: 20th February
Chugging away beautifully on the back burner for many years, prolific yet deeply underground techno musician Aubrey makes a jump for the well-lit waters of the upper scene. Taking on a physics and astronomy edge for his latest pressing, naming the forces behind the Einstein ring effect in which stars bend the light of those behind them to form arcs, and if we're lucky, a complete ring. Proving that space-time is actually a fabric that is susceptible to warping through high concentrations of mass and energy, which are actually the same thing, really blows the cobwebs off the mental faculties. If the cosmos is a sheet, who makes the bed? If music can provide any answers, I'm sure Aubrey stands a great chance.
Since the early 90's, when techno and acid house were inaugural sounds to the dance-floor scene, and pioneers in electronic rhythm music made huge waves in each and every direction, Aubrey has been throwing in his penny's worth. Adapting with the times and honing his skills into a personalised sound, every dabble in the music pool seems to have established another foothold on that epic mountain that is recognition for, what is generally the case, uncountable hours of work. DJs such as Carl Cox and Eddie C have shared the decks with Aubrey, as he has made a genuine effort year on year to find a stage that suits his newest direction. Those truly in the know have had their eyes on this one for many years already. That's the beauty of the underground.
Beginning with a throaty synth which gargles and swells in the under-tone, a melodic blip begins to scale steps in a spiral around it. Like clouds trapped in a cone, the two forms collide in an unusual manner, revealing a strangely shaped object which manifests more unusual 'scapes as we ascend. Throbbing metallics with glistening keys that tap simple yet beautiful frills into the air coalesce in ever higher reaches. Aerglo Visible is a dreamy introduction to this LP. Floating to Rigel jumps straight in with a rhythm section. Clanging cymbals and drum tip-tap their way in a steady and simple beat while unusual space-age sounds begin to grow like spring shoots from the soil. Orchestrated sections with sonic explorations of whistle and synthesiser tone combine to bring an interesting medley of directions.
Next up is Doctor Portia. The tribal feel in the introducing rhythm encourages movement, while as soon as we're settled into it, a vocal sample of a telephone call shrills out over the top like a low-flying helicopter. Funky melodics swish in from the side to replace the tension with a smooth sway into a nicely lit living space. A wobbling guitar strums disjointed chords over a trembling bass and drum section. Filling sounds of splashing cymbal and wooden feeling taps sure up the quiet bits with intent. Soon, the telephone call begins again and this time effects make it even harder to distinguish the words. With the following number, a lounge feel pushes in and covers up any feelings of discomfort. A major key melody and a happy energetic drumbeat establishes an easy going groove that we can slide into. Cosmic sounding synthesiser tones add an extra layer of futuristic to the mix. Journey To The Blue Planet (Part 2) drifts along in a watery and sunshine infused progression.
A darker feel escapes from the mixing desk as the next number enters the airwaves. A sinister two note bass line on a breathy synth dabbles with a growing intense rhythm which spirals and turns like a manic dancer. As the swell grows into a bloom, petals of springy sound spread out in all directions. Shadowy beats with oddly angled sonic plateaus grow into the spaces like slowly creeping starlight. Saros Cycle reminds us that even the sun can be eclipsed by a humble moon. Title track, Gravitational Lensing is up next. A highly motivated synthesiser spans long distance scale journeys on a simple pivot while a steady beat thumps down the pace at which we ought to progress. Galactic sounding spirals of sound span the whole of the mix with reaching arms in which individual blips of drum and tone craft delicately painted pictures which reach from one side to the other. Somewhere in the amalgam, there will be countless examples of waveform and matter interacting with our minds.
A slinky melody crunches in over the previous number. Taking strips in an up and down fashion, the notations give us an easy time for dancing. A catchy rhythm spells out the steps which the dynamic upper section directs the feet in and out of the central location. It progresses in waveform, slight adjustments bring out newer shining beams from the repeating passes. Elara Passes is a transition from one to another with a casual step and a smiling attitude. UDFJ-39546284 breaks out the bubbles with melody and drum, unwrapping the energy for even more orbital dancing. Synths which spread out like sunrises on planetary horizons cusp over enlivened and invigorating rhythms. Sporadic and jumpy cymbals add an extra quality of creativity to the fast moving track.
Orbit Of Oberon begins with a crafty bassline with funky elements that rumbles through the undergrowth like a python. A skyward synthesiser spells out combinations of well-lit windows and wide-open doors while the music gradually progresses into a richer and more wholesome experience. New elements of sound find their way in from behind the trees and steadily saunter in through the open portals. After we have settled in to the dreamy and motivational sounds of the previous track, it's replaced by a jazzy melody on the keyboards which is kept afloat by a surprisingly bouncy underlay of tone and rhythm. Jingly cymbals and sludgy quick-stepping drums give a degree of buoyancy we're not often treated to with this kind of mind music. Binary Jazz perhaps wants to culminate the album with a direction of fun and excitement as we draw to a close.
Another high energy tone begins with the next track. Second to last, a digital frenzy of sonics brings out a new direction of dance-worthy fusion. High-speed drumming with repeating melodic phrases give a transcendental sensation to the ever-changing backdrop in the sounds. Subtle shifts from one tone form to another give a new window quality to the music which keeps us exploring the track and looking around. Lost In Tucana is a short and snappy run through starry eyes observation. It makes way for the final track, EXO 0706, 1 + 5913. It takes a slower turn through dreamy and thoughtful synthesiser tones which creep around in an almost oriental fashion. New worlds and distant shores conjure images of the furthest reaches of our own world perhaps. This highly progressive album takes us on a cosmic fantastic journey through science, mathematical rhythms, and artistic compositions that mirror the reality of the universe exquisitely.
Listen to the track Orbit Of Oberon on Soundcloud.
Buy/Pre-order the album on Bandcamp, cool vinyl still available!
Rowan Blair Colver for the Homunculus Media Group
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