TBR: 6th July
Parisian Morgan Blanc has been quietly dominating the decks at renowned dance venues all over Europe. Petit Bain, Badaboum, and Katerblau have all hosted this esoterically moving mixer of darkness and light. Austeric melody gives away portions of emotion while sonic gardens interspace moments of nurtured sound ecology. Bipolar inspired progressions from overshadowed gloom within experimental resonance bring forth a musicality of pleasure and moving energy.
As Awake opens the four track EP, a sullen bass tone progresses alongside cymbal snaps and retro inspired percussive resonances. Crumbling deep and far reaching intensities are pegged down to grassy material by a matrix of almost organic drum formulations. As a gothic symphony plays out in a distant corridor, the compression and remnants of its gloomy energy project into interesting curbs and tangents of squashy dark dance.
A sudden lunge of effected drums allows Keep Moving to bring track two across to our ears. An interstellar space battle of sounds ensues with crafty bass lines and catching drum loops which continually evolve. Crunchy tones of under reaching bass reverberate as padding for whistle like submerged vibrations and montages of electronic riff. Pulsing melodics in simple patterns give the sometimes chaotic amalgamation of mindfully mixed sounds a framework that fits.
Synthwave shininess escapes from the bottle as Pressure unveils the third mix. A progressive bass beat with experimentally crafted drums pans out into a walking pace tromp through lush chords and intense breakdowns. Vocals add a whispery element of humanity while a digital symbiosis of sound and rhythm gradually evolves into various spectacular shapes. Retro phonics from the synthesiser sprinkle the sound in glowing energy that's vibrant and dowsed in warmth. These grow in amplitude until their sparkling backdrop covers everything in a fruity and fun summertime beach scene.
Along with the bass driven Whisper Me A Secret, Confidences marks an epoch in the timeline of heavy duty electronic music. Excellent listenability combined with dirty and dusty lines that roof and carpet the thunder gives out to these four nuggets of deliciously dark and deeply morish mixes.
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TBR: Digital Out Now, Vinyl 4th June
Dark Matters chief of the deep Amirali returns to the music press to demonstrate how releases on this evocative and far reaching record label should sound. Building on the works portrayed in Fearful Stay and Chromatic Dreams, this number three production shows sculpture of sound in new levels of textural definition. The spatial arena that builds from the ground up and from the sides in creates an inverse square of dynamic experimental art-core electro. Alongside whisperings of a grandiose live show in the making with all kinds of fantastic projects making a scene, Amirali amazingly finds the time to gift us with these instant classics.
The title number and first up on the EP, Odyssey, takes the quality of vocals and frames them within statues of sonic emotion. Complicated waveform explorations allow for eddies and undercurrents that project each section of the song in various technically perfected forms. Jungle sounds with moving water trickle in while atmospheric keyboards strike chords with pangs of the heart. Mixtures of sound mingle and dance in slow moving tranquillity before the onset of voice casts a dreamy experience of sound. Cleverly built progressions of ambience walk in easily flowing downcast patches of sunny peace. Lowering of the intensity yet building a high within subtle energies of quietly powerful compositions allows a diverse range of sounds to creep in and out while the pace and advancement remains pleasantly static.
Track two ebbs in with a slowly building tone. As it progresses in amplitude, an arpeggiator brings in an old-school sensation of wobbling beats. Drowning out the retro nuance with synth strings and spacey sounds, a clear tempo begins to shine from the cloudy mix. As we understand and appreciate, the drum track starts to validate what we had begun to imagine in its stead. Now as the rhythm and tone is set, starry eyed twinges of sound rain down from above while bassy bounces push up from beneath. As if laying on a bed of nebula gas and allowing distant starlight to illuminate our semi-conscious comprehension of our surroundings, the beings from the dark matter begin to make their angelic voices heard. We are transported through epic scenes of sound and energy while tempo and tone keep our senses in focus and perspective.
Hidden Past is repeated for the second time as track three. This time it's been remixed by Fort Romeau. The entire atmosphere has changed. Rather than a dreamy soundscape for us to bath in while absorbing speckles of brightly glowing intent, we're plunged onto a dance floor and invited to listen to the heartbeat of the track through a computer that makes it sound good on its own. It's as if we're listening to a negative image of the original, a complete swap over of intention and force has given the piece a brand new sound. Same in name only, it's not the same piece of music. In fact, this three track EP stands tall as over twenty minutes of quality and unusual electronic music. Well worth the time it takes to download or wait for the vinyl in the post, there's nothing wrong with a bit of escapist far flung electronic sound sculpture.
Beginners Guide To Magic EP
Returning from their massive Autarkic I Love You, Go Away Remix rendition from earlier in the year, Simple Symmetry take a left hand turn with this occult influenced three track offering. When elements of the unreal and supernatural meet their digital compositional skills, the sounds crafted from these mental ingredients allow for sudden plunges into psychedelic soundscapes.
Straight away the reverberations of our tribal roots weave their patterns and textures across the silent horizon. Modern percussive instruments mingle with the traditional, with each push of the music another rhythmic voice adds to the dawn chorus. Trance inducing pulsations of timing and grain form a dreamy bubble to sit in. Gamelan bells cascade into the long and rumbling jostle of drums. Their melody carries the much loved shades of tone which penetrate our traditional hearing rule sets. Organic swells find their way into the music via flutey breaths and expressive projections of sound. As the pressure builds and melody keys in to the looped and dynamic drumscore, a dancing energy is allowed to flourish.
As the second number enters, a buzz saw style bass tone builds a neat and wholesome foundation for interesting rhythms to sit upon. Multi-tonal drums build a driving style beat which progresses with vibrancy and amplitude. As vocal lines cast their humanitarian spell over us, an electronic digital beat adds a frantic and energy rich dose of crowd pleasing prepossession. Dervish Euphoria does indeed bring with it an uplifting sense of having a good time which would be an essential ingredient to any gathering.
On the final incantation of this triple goddess of sacrificial music, an outdoor themed sunshine fest is crafted gently but with a firm stability. A heavy bass tone similar to the roar of a prehistoric creature resounds over the happy tones of people enjoying themselves. Could this be a warning, a psychic reminder that when we're having fun our backs are always turned? Deep and meaningful syllables echo through the under tone of the sound. Tinny and metallic melodic percussion brings a sensation of anticipation and eerie happenings waiting to coalesce and envelope who ever happens to be listening in.
Add an energy of the mystical with these three tracks, upbeat and interesting, Simple Symmetry's Beginners Guide To Magic can and will entertain and inspire all kinds of mental adventures. It's got an attitude that will keep you on your feet in the club and will allow you to find the motivation to do what ever it is you do at home.
DJ Sprinkles & Hardrock Striker Skylax House Explosion 1 Under The Garage Skylax Records | The Electro Review
DJ Sprinkles & Hardrock Striker
Skylax House Explosion 1
Under The Garage
TBR: 4th June
Can you believe it's been twenty years since Skylax Records set sail for musical worlds of electronic sound dominion? For those who have been keeping up with the scene for all that time it may seem like a stone's throw away now, however a lot has happened in that time. Not only concerning the artists themselves, but also the available technology on offer as well, with more reachable kit finding its way into the hands of those without a NASA style budget.
Marking the score is an exclusive vinyl only release of a set of records made especially for this anniversary. Under The Garage is the first of such releases. The three EP set contains material collated by DJ Sprinkles and Hardrock Striker over the years, previously confined to private listening only. Opening the vault for us fans to explore shows that times have changed and the world of Skylax Records is a powerful entity on the scene. Now we get to hear brand new sounds and appreciate some of the foundation elements within this house label.
D Move takes the first number with a track called Outer Rim 64. It enters with a breathy tone which is punctured by a digi-tribal drum beat. The far away quality of the music allows it to circulate in the air around me for a brief moment before the drum and cymbal track draws a line right down the middle. Spacey whistles drag down from the top side and poke, like lights in darkened spaces, around in swirling manoeuvres of pitch. A break down gives way to an echo landscape of interesting drums and bass which clang and pump like a woodwork machine. Fascinating effects and sounds are crafted into the mix, which gives the track an ear pricking sensation which truly serves to make it sound good.
Next up is a higher party energy, funky vocal and drums combine over a lush keyboard backdrop. Layers of voice make a comfortable resting place and danceable drums allow for shaking or moving around. Jason Grove and Merwyn Sanders present Deep In Your Heart, and it asks if we're feeling free? I think so. How about you? State of mind and philosophical point alongside really great summer time tunes, top drawer material. Pushes on jazzy chords keep the music afloat and playful mixes on vocal and drum fly like kites in an open breezy sky.
An Expresso's A Club Called The Garage makes track number three. A steady beat replaces the sunshine, it's wholesome and tonal. Soon a new tone matches it, adding more depth to the forming beat. Bass melody snakes in underneath and drums with keyboard finish the recipe in another funky but more underground feeling serving. Late bar sensation with suited males chatting to each other fills the atmosphere during a small break, and soon after they're joined by a party of more upbeat and colourfully dressed people of all shapes and sizes. Digital bass melodies and clappy drums make a great combination, with the addition of the sonics and keyboard flurries, the music sits excellently on the ears.
The final mix begins with a really high energy kick and hat beat which is almost irresistible to move to. Wobbly keys surf in on waves of drum bashing which work hard to not overpower the rest of the sounds. Proficient percussive tunes reverberate from the walls and give the spinal column of looped one twos a coat and shoes. Some vocal is put on the top like a serving of garnish, and they're neatly mixed up with various singers whose nuances and qualities are harnessed through the power of the sample. Signal ST with Bongo Trax ends this remarkable release on an incredibly morish high.
This is a brilliant EP and for those serious enough to invest in limited edition commemorative vinyl from well respected electronic music labels, it's a nod and a wink from those in the know that this three set must be in your collection. If number one is anything to go by, and it usually is, the other stuff is going to progress and compliment something of real quality.
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Monoloc / Jonas Landwehr
TBR: 22nd June
The river Styx has a dual personality, either the river that marks the boundary between the world of the living and the underworld or a beautiful and enchanting river goddess, this EP reflects the double edged blade with a split artist production. Almost a various artists production, but not just one contributor, we're treated to a three course meal each from two acts of the Unterland label. Sharing is caring after-all, and when we consider how long it takes to make just a few minutes of quality electronic music, combining our efforts makes a lot of sense.
Monoloc began work as an established artist just under two years ago. The fresh sounds on offer have been given a home under the wing of Unterland, a label he created to represent his work. Knowing that one artist isn't enough for a record label, getting Jonas on board was something vital for this second record from the newly born music company. Unterland describe themselves as having a Stygian sound, which to me throws me into the realm of Conan the Barbarian or even the heavy metal universe of Bal Sagoth. Applying the term to electronic composition allows for mysterious and strange sonics that represent the mystery and illusion brought to mind by such places and things.
Cosmic synthesiser sounds spell out a distance of extreme magnitude in the opening bars of this out there EP. Collisions between large rocky bodies form explosions and rumbles that fill the spaces drawn out before us. An intense beam of sound thrusts itself into the mix at various points, bringing new and terrifying energy that distorts and bends all around it. New drum sounds enter the mix as all fades to a horizontal quiet, a beating echo drum twinges on the real before everything slowly disappears.
When the next track begins, the drum is given front row seats and as an electronic clipping and bass drum synchronously form an eerie soundtrack, digital nuances creep in over the top in pulsating tones and scales. Breathy noises swirl and dissipate, like summer clouds high up in the atmosphere, the icy tingles of glitter shine in tiny lights. The collapsing and growing sensations that the sounds invoke draw closer as a bass tone begins to waver around a key pitch. As all sounds gel into one slowly moving river of liquid amplitude, the blend creates an interesting venue for all kinds of mental stimuli to feed from.
Thrive is the final Monoloc mix on this six track release. Spooky and illuminatory, the furthest places are reached out for and gestures as to what lays beyond are carved into sound and silence. White noise and bass drum combine with a construction of polyphonic runs of tone that seep in and out of existence. A brassy tone in the bass section begins to add a buoyant reverberation in short expulsions of deep airy pressure. Revolving around the continual phasing of tones and percussion is a sense of togetherness and clarity although it's hard to point to it precisely. Simple match-making in the crossing of intentions within each inserted instrument pin together the pieces of a dreamy sunrise.
When we make room for Jonas Landwehr, we move right along into a new section. Not one to shy from his own art, the once tranquil and spacey soundscape painted for us is filled with mechanical life. Quick buzzing pitches and tones knit into a twine of up and down moving sounds. Melodic inputs gently craft a topography from the neatly ordered chaos, piano taps in various learned places give a backbone to this newly formed organism. Once the initial intensity settles down, a rhythm protrudes from within and points out the peaks to newly garnished mountains. From Cerulean and Beyond really does whisk us into something already there and willing to show itself to our passing ears.
Sillage brings a faster beat with it, a nicely progressing intro starts the drum first, then synth and cymbal hand in hand join the show. Pulsing sounds add to the tempo while gently speaking notes begin to slowly make a bed in the music. As the sound of chirping synthesiser grows in volume, more voices of sound are given air to breathe. Something pulls the string, and most of the initial form vanishes leaving only the recent additions of waveform which are soon used to build on more layers and towers that change everything just enough to notice. A driving sensation pulls the music forward and grumbles of underscore push everything up in places that seem to beckon them. The progression moves again and the metallic surges of energy begin to dominate just for a few moments. It brings everything back to the bass drum it began with to rebuild what has disintegrated under its own pressures.
Aenea's Return features Charlotte Weber. The final number on this EP begins with piercing abstractions that change the direction and grain as fluidly as gusts of wind on an icy lake. Soon it's as if we go under the water itself as new distorted wobbles gather in bubble like groups as we delve deeper into these mysterious audial surroundings. Now the jumpy timbres seem to be shafts of light darting into view from behind reaching jungles of underwater plants. Are there seductive sirens calling to us in the distance? Perhaps, maybe we should just admire this forest of light and bubbling reality. I think they're drawing in closer, move like the reeds and maybe they wont see us.
Like physics and biology, these two artists share a chemistry between them which works well progressively and compliments each other on many levels. The work as itself brings in a brand new energy and awareness on new realms of dark yet sonically enlightening areas of digital space. Honey and pot, these two composers of out of the way sounds need to be given our focus and studied with the telescope because inside this nebula is something glowing and hot.
Simple Symmetry and Red Axes
I Love you, Go Away The Remixes
Autarkic's release from last year gets the all star treatment with a new release of remixed tracks. This triple instalment of disco infused post-punk and new wave brings the party to your house and beyond. With Middle Eastern influences running through the veins of Autarkic's sound, this Tel Aviv based artist has already established his musicality around the world. Particular highlights are made on Golf Channel from New York and Turbo from Canada. Now as Autarkic works with Disco Halal, new doors of sound have been opened for interpretation.
The first number on this EP is prepared for us by Simple Symmetry. The Moscow based siblings released their debut record last year. Plane Goes East EP made a real impression and it's no wonder they've been invited to take the A side of this party anthem reworking. Bongos And Tambourines is a seven minute mover that shows off both the prowess of Simple Symmetry as well as the compositional quality of Autarkic.
As the title suggests, it enters with some rhythmic and melodic bongo fills which are soon topped by silverware and shakers. Funky blips pile on a dancing pulsation which brings out the colour in this fun rendition. Echo infused vocals arrive in a flurry of uplifting organ and looped lines. Tuneful scores of sound dash around the emphasis of song for a moment before a new found dancing energy pushes into the first position. More looped lyrics reveal a mix in the two horns of this beast as while they rotate on their axis, ever more pressing rhythms are piled in.
The final two tracks on this release are taken care of by Red Axes. This Tel Aviv based tour and studio outfit recently released an album called Beach Goths. Their reworking of Gibberish Love Song forms a bass heavy drum and tone-fest which begins to ascend in tone with every few bars. Repetitive fills of monotonous percussion jump across the lines of the stave in quirky and enjoyable fragments. The sound of a firework display gives the sound an element of the exciting and some under the blanket vocals bring on a heady warmth that threads through the soft and cushioned backdrop.
Wipe The Shame Featuring Xen finalises the offering, starting off with a twangy string and clappy drum combo that's given new energy by means of heavy thudding bass. Darkly does it, some sinister synth strings add an undertone of the mysterious and with the chimes of cowbell like clamours the fresh insights brought into the evolving track pay attention to what's happening in the corners. Lyrics reveal themselves well over half way through the seven minute mix. They almost take me by surprise. I had been expecting to hear from Xen though. Captivating melodic chimes resonate through the closing moments like little reflected ghosts.
Twenty minutes of danceable and listenable fun, with meat on the bones for those who want it and a simple rhythm and melody based heart for the rest of us. We're invited to enjoy these three tracks in a brand new way and perhaps go out and seek the originals as well, if you haven't already.
Rowan Blair Colver for the Homunculus Media Group
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