TBR 30th April
Following on from the label's debut Decollage EP, which was given a massive leg-up by admirer peers such as the likes of Leisure System's Barker and Jori Hulkkonen, this two track dance floor epic gets down on its knees and makes a massive impact with industrial and grinding techno. There's not a lot of holding back going on in this release, making it highly energetic and full of mind imprints that seem to echo on well after the music has ended. CutOff!CutOff! continue their memorable story with Fluxus which as the title suggests, is a real mover.
The first and title track gives us a quick drum and cymbal fill that's quickly doubled up with extra layers. A clunky synthetic and tone sifting bass note resonates along at regular intervals, it sounds like it's speaking. Some bongo riffs add to the rhythm-fest and the melodic digital sounds begin to make more of a scene. The music crackles back down to where it was before just for a moment and then extra rhythms switch on a new dimension to the sound. The pace is steady and invigorating, repetitive sections evolve at well timed bouts to bring fresh direction and energy to the otherwise constant instruction to dance.
Final track, Hi Red Center, takes that driving force and pushes it into a synthesiser based drum jamboree. Smokey tubular sounds formulate distortions and sub-rhythms that from the perspective given produce a gently flowing fractal sonic image. Even more deep and dirty sludge is applied and the music becomes irresistibly magnetic. Hand movements allowed while this is on, at around half way droning tones pull the atmosphere out in long candied strings. The drum loops are given the nudge with a tone shifter for a few moments, softening the landing of the heavy synths which soon follow. Quick changes to the listening angle and the focus of music section give this a swerving and drifting feel which at high speed can get quite exciting.
This two track single is a double scoop of quality dance floor material. Techno with all the right instruments to get people from all sides of the house involved, Fluxus brings it all home for a twelve minute workout to fresh and inventive uses of rhythm and industrial style music.
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TBR 28th May
The Dutch duo Detroit Swindle prepare to release their second full length album High Life on their own Heist record label. Known for incorporating sounds from across the spectrum of electronic music, the compositional pair create astounding tracks of ambient and ethereal quality that still carry the power and energy of the more upbeat varieties of the scene. By finding obscure records and blending them together with aspects of funk and afrobeat alongside electronic and house, these chefs of sound cook up a tasty display that's prepared enough to call it original. The vector of sound that manifests from the joining of live and studio sounds dances gently on the map as we sit back and enjoy.
The album starts as a keyboard and electro bass gently schmooze at a steady relaxed pace. Some vocal woahs fill the empty spaces while dashes of class coated keyboard frolic like wisping clouds and mist. Subtle feels draw in and moody synths continue to wander and strike meaningful sensations in neat layers. Once the atmosphere is defined and the magic of the groove has done its trick, it's safe to move onto track two.
More earthly sensations swiftly surf on over and a sonic backdrop of a social gathering ices the fingering keyboard melody. There is a definite live quality that brings the music closer and while the electronic drum loops and synths clearly are spinning on disks and computers, the delivery almost gives the presence of a band playing it themselves. This aspect of the Detroit Swindle sound is one of the reasons their project has gained so much momentum with the fans.
Sega Megadrive pops into my head with the style of some of the music that's poured into the rhythmic cups. Cool and mild tempered riffs of funky keyboard dances tap their notations and as rhythms swell and grow the intricacy and richness of the sounds gain more resolution. The next track speeds up slightly, a cowbell making a cosy entrance and a stabbing orchestral throb pules over the top. More catchy bass with funk and jazz infused melodies jam in the mix, and completely new energies begin to merge with what was already present.
Yes, No Maybe features Tom Misch, a DJ and songwriter from the UK. A proficiently strummed guitar opens the number before that traditional funky keyboard sound joins Tom in a unison of song. Grabby beats cause the ears to move towards the speaker, and lyrics about life in general spin a tale that we can identify with. A smooth chorus lingers on with oohs harmonising in the background, and the jazzical bobbing gambols onward. Evolution of song makes it more interesting, and its dynamics keep a mood of excitement and jostle flowing well.
Some feedback and a vocal introduction about responsibility within the music and arts scene relaxes the character of the album, organic and improvised guitar and keyboard effortlessly craft a wending transfer which points to the stars. Pitch bending and ambient tones distil a tonic of light-headed mental clarity. The pulse slows down to a sleepy awakening, conscious of note changes and nuances in the guitar playing are just enough to keep focussed. The Girl from Shiraz is a dreamy wander through moonlit corridors of sound.
Seven Davies Jr. makes a guest appearance on Flavourism, his well crafted and soulful sound is borrowed from Ninja Tune and Apron to feed the machine on this side of the water. It begins with a psychedelic drumbeat, laden with effects, and without too much fuss Seven Davies begins his deep and meaningful lines. The soul and r n b direction reveals a new side to the Detroit Swindle coin. A direct and space-age back-track makes a comfortable mattress for lyrical and poetic lines half sung over an increasingly hotting up rhythm section.
The energy meets a high point and the noise within the sound is removed unveiling a sense of skyborn clarity opening out like a viewpoint at the track's peak. Vanilla and cinnamon keep popping up, the tastes building up in my palette, the song is an homage to the sweetness in his woman – or so it seems. With a move of the hand, a new sound is projected from the system. A different set of drums begin to beat their song over a popping synthesiser which is almost hidden in the percussion. Levels increase and the pressure is raised to another bar as the rest of the instruments add their flavours to the rhythm. A much more dance orientated number, Freeqy Poly builds with dramatic surges of polyphonic waveform.
Is it a plane? Is it a train? It actually sounds like a highly effected drum roll. What ever it was the track uses it to kick from and swim out into open water. Mechanical rhythms and industrial sounds form the main section. Another rhythm based number, the tribal beats voiced by modern sounding tools brings the traditional and the new together really well. Synth notes in monotone provide an interesting layer of inert potential, and drums that roll over themselves keep the mood inspiring. Cut U Loose continues the upbeat atmosphere with a snare and kick drum combo that becomes the resting place for some famous keyboard melodies. Reminding us that these guys are working with vinyl as part of their repertoire, spicing the punch with something emotionally relevant always helps to move things along in the right direction.
It all breaks down to a simplicity coined by retro blips and randomly placed notes which begin to form a kind of springboard for the track to bounce back up from. Samples run the show and the way they're portrayed is where the work lays in this number and others. Showing us the other side of the disc jockey's method, we're treated to an expert demonstration. An entirely new dimension finishes the piece, a major key melody glistens like stars in watery reflections. Solid pluck bass keeps the quickly glowing notes pinned down to the earth.
The album ends with a track called Lucky Number 13. Distorted ambience and an eerie backdrop of drooping bass and synth open out like a flower to produce colourful and vibrant petals. Strange twists in the effect almost act like intense sunlight, throwing areas of glare over the summer time drift. Vocal lines of spoken word adorn the mix like tapestries gently lain over prominent sections. This quiet and happy feeling track finds its perfect home at the end of this diverse and very cool album.
TBR 20th April
Satori has developed a diverse signature sound which is demonstrated adeptly on this three track monster. Billed as a single yet with enough scope to adequately sport three definitive A sides, Yam makes the fourth release from this up and coming electronic label something of landmark. After working with Crosstown Rebels to release his Maktub album, Satori lends his hand to the shorter production dancefloor orientated direction of DGTL. Instrumental in the evolution of the label, by returning with new colours Satori and DGTL stand to work their way further into the world of music.
Fauna begins the production with a funky two step bass beat that instantly gets the head bopping. Some strange and energetic throngs pile in over the top and a drum starts to push the rhythm into shape. Formulated melodics revolve around the catchy percussion, throws of compression and effect waver the output of the exciting and upbeat tune. Ethnovox from an African tradition cast their magical wizardry into the cloud, a rising bar of atmosphere pushes ever on and up as the music compels it to. Thrashy snare fills bring froth to the surface while the melodics jitter and adapt into new sounds as the progression sinks into minimal style for a brief interlude. The drum breaks return and the bass beings its time setting again yet the mood of the track is much more in the treble section than before. This dimensional shift in nuance makes an interesting journey, one which was not necessarily anticipated.
The next number transports us to Mexico, in which there is a music festival called Yam. The track, which is named after this audacious gathering of musophiles, draws an abstract and compositional picture of the feel and atmosphere that Satori finds at the Yam festival. It carries an immediate urgency which feels like a magnetic urge to draw in and get closer. The ticking of a grand clock forms a dominant rhythm before vocals add a mystical layering of storytelling. Melodic keyboards wriggle their way up from underneath to create a familiar and uplifting tune. The chord and note combinations thrive on the simple percussion, and swirls of emotion are thrown into the air by various inserts of singing. The track dances around in abstract circles, bringing in new energies and fresh sensations every few bars. It does make me want to go to Mexico and sample the Yam festival. Diverse injections of new musical phrases keep the excitement original while the steady non-evolving rhythm gives a straight edged backbone to this otherwise dynamic piece.
The release closes with a remix of Magharibi by Sahalé, the renowned French electro producer. It starts up as a bass note pulses in a dancing monotone over a bouncing clap and tap rhythm. Vocals from all angles keep showing their colours and marking the subtle progressions in flow. Extra umph is given when a solitary synth begins to cast a sludgy chime over occasional breaks. The driving energy passes through tunnels and past uniform fence posts while spiralling distances travel within us as the onward motion of the music continues. Again, great care has been given to making sure the sounds remain collected yet ever shifting, meaning that every moment of the track is saying something original and intelligent. The dancefloor attitude that is in each of these tracks comes to a pinnacle with this final number, making use of the style brought from another producer and throwing everything he has towards it, Satori has made this version of Magharibi his own. Organic flurries from voice and instrument keep the mood in the heart while the more mental and psychological electronic anatomy allows us to fully utilise the grey matter.
Yam is available to buy/pre-order on Amazon UK
Ghost Tracks EP
Cluster Node Records
TBR: 17th April
Organic and electronic merge for this meditative and stretching calmly extended play. Ingredients of abstraction culminate in passages of musical time woven in unique and delicately textured productions. This debut EP from Ghost Tracks lights a lantern on the new directions made possible by imaginations within electronica.
Perhaps it is a moving train that can be heard, warped and in an oddly cubist vision, it begins a repeating spiral of rhythm. A horn joins the cacophony and begins to resonate with the crunch and swish that creeps alongside. Distant vocals hauntingly decorate the off white noise, tumbling with effects, an intensity is added with adjustments in pitch and tempo before a louder percussive disintegrating thump thrusts the sound into a new level. Reverberating bells and static support each others' breaking points until a fade into quiet leaves us slightly bewildered.
Injuries From Games pushes onward with metallic clangs that could almost be a distorted guitar. A rumbling sub-melody enters with a beating drum which creates a messy yet listenable mush of sonic fusion. Erratic rhythms come to a head when a tinny snare begins to keep time with the now. From the merged dots of sound comes a snaking tempo that weaves a perfect path through chaotic and mind bending apertures of waveform. Soon all that is left is the continual drumbeat and a whining consistent drone formed of several layered voices.
New sensations rise like a brewing mist as Dagger brightens the journey. A simple yet distinctive drum loop sets the scene for more ghostly vocals, this time with defined melody and a guitar pluck which wraps everything in a Celtic blanket. Mantra styled musings cause a swirling up-draft of personal energy, represented here by synths which distort and rage like ocean winds. All falls to a moment's quiet before an engine like peal of deep bouncing growls. Vocals ride like surf angels over a deliciously rich yet lightly sprinkled broken background.
The progression in Strike I and II brings the clarity further in the way a telescope brings the stars nearer. Now with more discernment of sound, less speckles of force and more gently layered escapades form a soft and dreamier side to this release. Thundering objects create a distant sound of urban sprawl while inward facing melody creates a network of restful visions. Swirls of intention and passive action draw in like clouds, nearer and nearer come the clatterings of reality, until close.
The Final number enters with a slinky synth melody that bubbles gently over silent rocks and glints of sunlight start forming rainbows as amplified high notes break the phase. A gentle effect breaks the energy down into a manageable chunk before the whole thing begins again, this time with extra sparkle. This dualistic album begins like a hurricane, drawing us into the frothing industrial ensemble before releasing its fury to the skies above and dropping us down gently in a beautifully upside-down post storm landscape.
Check out Ghost Tracks on Soundcloud.
Done listening? Get acquainted with Das Keyboard.
The Sound Path
TBR: 6th April
Musical journeys come to their pinnacle with this wide reaching artist. Inspired from the entire shape of soft skinned electronic music, elements of genre sneak and stitch their way into inspired musings and mixes. Beautifully orchestrated and produced, with a refinement and flow that captures time taken and mountains climbed, The Sound Path is Aera's second album. It works with new ideas and on aspects from before to craft a bright new phase of comprehensive composition.
A combination of retro epic cinematica with soaring horn melodies introduces this peaceful work, To The Edge of the World is a beautiful capsule of slightly charmed emotive song. Wordless yet saturated with feeling, a distinctive sense of majesty is revealed. As The second track breaks, a blippy quick timed random inspired melody creates a bubbling effervescence which allows plunging synths to drive deep with hammered key strokes.
A Child's Dance progresses gently, with new drum tones enlivening the soothing rhythm ever so slightly and emerging bass swells causing the final bars to bring the heat down to low. As Flowers Under Water enters with a beautiful wobbling hum, a flurry of sparkling notes bring light to the piece and jumping playful phrases lay over the jolly and colourful drum and bass loops. Echoes and side to side phasing give the effect of submerged landscapes and the lively melodies do resemble the colour and delicacy of flower petals.
The pace quickens and a thumping 4 step beat takes the centre position which a lightly strummed instrument twangs deep and rich notes underneath the blanket. Synthesiser injections of tone come from the top and repeating phrases in key with the string sounds keep a high end rhythm. Logic and Kindness are probably two of the most important things we need to consider in any situation, and as a track title, it inspires philosophical mental soliloquies. The track peters out into abstraction before a catchy beat and pulsing tone pricks the ears.
With a dancing rhythm the progression takes a gear change and pushes the listener into a straight road drive-by full of passing trees, pillar boxes, and people walking their dog. Vocoder gives a lyrical channel an element of digital, melody in the voice brings a human taste yet the words are so crackled and metallised that it's difficult to distinguish them. Moving rhythms are joined by fast moving digital sounding scales and arpeggios that take a random walk around the main key. The high energy throb that hangs in the air like a self created orb of intent and potential gradually fades as the heartbeat rhythm of Distance Beyond slows everything down. Up and down licks on an electric piano are joined by rapid triangle sounds which make way for tubular bass notes which resonate and circle like low flying caramel buzzards.
Something more sparkly washes over the scenery with the onset of Looming Lights. Sunken depths of sunlit underwater grottos spring to mind as the twinkling notes froth around bass tones that jump like perspectives in moving water. Minimal sprinkles of sound adorn a deeper and full undertone which swivels and rotates on a grinding axis deep in the roots of the piece. Nostalgic melody from fruity synths rise like a dawn sunshine over awkward and interesting screws and twists that leap from various crevices of sound. Something like a distant cello creeps closer until its drawn notes break open to give a thumping and toe tapping beat.
May Your Heartflame Continue is a happy and inspiring track which has a crazy sounding submelody, icing the choppy and bass driven main body. Rhythm plays an important part, drum and bass infusions craft spiralling standing points for distinctive and oddly vibrant effects. Additions of flute bring a lovely warmth towards the end, as frozen glitches of electronic expression attempt to steal the show. All goes quiet for a sample, an emotional woman speaks before a pretty and haunting piece of music takes over. Dramatic runs of notes and droning grinds of bass amalgamate to form a slice of strange orchestrated beauty.
The mood is brought down to a new lighter pitch with the next number, All The Birds holds a dreamy sensation that is made even more apparent when the echoing reverb drums make their appearance. Melody in percussion gives a particular flavour, tribal feels and an alternative to other forms of melody, layers of rhythm bring new levels of meaning to the repeating tune. A smooth and cool addition with a twanging bass and riding synths underneath grant a background of big city lights and high end living.
As if all fades to night and darkness, the stars come out as a tambourine and wooden drum rhythm crests the airwaves. Stitch in Time takes us to a place of memory and hazy introspection. Chills and feels swing on neatly positioned ropes that allow graceful movement in and out of shadow. Smooth bass rhythms on drum and synth are joined by oddity and strangeness in the form of jumping treble end volleys of glassy sound. Energy is added and the music swells to a crescendo, all to gather in once more allowing final track Old Lighthouse to close the album.
The Sound Path is available to buy/pre-order from Amazon UK
And Amazon US
Grabyourface and Mantle
We Live (Single)
Scrabbling in the dark for a sense of independence and relevance in a dystopian reality of technological post-enlightenment, is a wickedly industrial track by Irish dark-core siren Grabyourface. Indulging in the realms of sex and shadow, DJ Marie Lando writes and produces grinding slasher techno which has roots in goth and industrial. Broken lyrical distortions of voiced poetry with clunking dirty rhythms formulate a passionate and wonderfully creepy sound.
A sullen and grimy throng of metallic crunching forms a rhythmic crush and swell, it's one to dance slowly to, skulking like a sinister darkling waiting for the moon to come out from behind a cloud. A sense of angst and an undertone of anger seeps through the network of phrases which cake together to make up the meat of this track. As Grabyourface does what it says on the tin, the vocals shimmer with a passive sense of disgust, robotic yet deliciously human.
Exploring the sense of rejection that goes hand in hand with being one step or more outside of the normal boxes people create, the pangs of a dissolved desire for validation simmer in a wallowing mire of forbidden feelings. Deep to think of and catchy on the ears, along with the darker and heavier Black Death remix that comes with it, We Live is an entertaining and splendidly gothic track of the modern day.
Available for download on Bandcamp
A Deafening Silence
Chemical Imbalance Records
Out Now (Very limited)
Barcelona born experimental electronic musician Subespai released an EP a couple of years ago. Carrers de Sydney was a definitive piece of musical art, shaping the philosophy of noise and drone experimentica further. A small opening for a niche sound allowed Subespai to next work with Sydney music label Chemical Imbalance, who specialise in micro-markets by releasing one of a kind batches of a few dozen cassettes. Something strangely unfamiliar in the music world, however the eclectic value and social status symbology within such things is intangibly undeniable.
This two track release begins with Overtime. The title brings forth mental imagery of unhomely surroundings perhaps with artificial lighting much brighter than the usual lamp. It enters with a multi-layered static. It distorts and fizzes in novel directions yet remains calm and almost unmoving. Clicks and taps break through subtle gaps in the background noise, and as we listen intently to distant phrases hidden in the abstract hum, pitches of intense brightness slam into our awareness and crash over the senses.
Slight rhythms begin to form pattern from chaos, yet the pulsing seems almost removed from the droning electrical personalities. New tones that occupy different audible spaces penetrate previously untampered walls of craggy quietness. Where are we? Perhaps behind a desk that overlooks a room of hard-drives. Sudden organic injections appear to add a human being at the scene of the sound, or perhaps it's a trick played by the resonant machinery.
Silence fades over the sound like a blanket of sleep, allowing the final number to clear its throat. As the airwaves become ever more still in between the art, reflecting on the music allows a non-judgemental appreciation of the uniqueness and novel element from which it grows. Although many artists work in abstract and experimental sound, it takes a lot of courage to strip it down to bones such as these.
As silence fades into noise art once more, thin scrapings of sound make their way over the nothingness to produce a definite something in the space where nothing once was. Although indistinct and perhaps adverse to definition, amplitudes increase until a groaning electrical resistance begins to pile on top of static discharge. Low inclusions deepen the whole experience and breathy windswept metallic swings signify the rising pressures. A thumping bass tone appears from the shadows to strike an eerie chord before sublimely evaporating into the thickening yet formless void.
Abstract sounds for relaxation, art in the air, this EP stands out as something extremely unusual and yet brilliantly workable and palatable. Crafted from the innards of experimental idea and made into something that sits neatly on the shelf of quality material, A Deafening Silence EP writes another page in the book of ambient music.
Available on cassette and digital from Bandcamp
Rowan Blair Colver for the Homunculus Media Group
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