One Hundred Billion Sparks
TBR: 20th September
Max Cooper introspects and discovers the self within a universe made of one hundred billion simultaneous neuron sparks. As we are alive and our mind allows us to observe the world around us, feel the body enveloping us, and provides a laboratory of imagination to journey through, this is represented in the physical realm by chemical-electric flashes of potential. Our brains contain a network of unfathomable connections, each one a pathway for various molecules that allow our conscious awareness to connect with the outside world. This in turn is built upon an undergrowth of predetermined ideas and virtues which, like tectonic plates, shift gradually throughout life as we mature and grow in perspective wisdom.
This new album, out in September, is a sound recording of this notion. It's a projection of the inner presence onto wavelength and amplitude via the imaginary framework of this composer of clicks and crescendos. Max Cooper takes the philosophical fulcra associated with the biological reality of human mind and investigates how it affects our feelings about ourselves and our place in the universe that built us. After switching off his technology and removing himself from society at large, Max Cooper was able to dig into the mineral vein of opalescence that is the undivided Atman.
The album begins with Incompleteness, a polyphonic drone of chording harmonies. It builds like a filling pool of glowing liquid, breathy and alight with its own energy. Hope continues the slow moving progression with a blurred line waveform which resonates wildly from left to right over a craggy outcrop of amplitude. A high end helices over and under the lower steady notes to create a dynamic display of undulating vibration. Percussion adds another sleek dimension to the sound in the form of a thrusting inner pulse which quickly gallops over the slower moving melodics. Meditative soundtracks to deep inner focus roll out one after the other to form the holistic work of the recording.
Distorted wobbles give Phi a new edge, wholesome tones craft comfortable harmonies among the reverberating notions of sound. Solid tempo kneels over the fluffy blanket of the well adjusted composition bringing out a glimmering density which grows like rising dough. As Rule 110 enters the playlist, and is followed by eight more. it becomes clear that this album wants to glide over our inner islands of self realisation, touching down on hidden runways that nestle quietly in various aspects of the inner being. Progressive and smooth, subtle additions to the texture and delivery of tone brings layer upon layer of interesting and highly explorable sound.
Second Yard Botanicals
TBR: 3rd August
Berlin born Paul Frick has been an established maker of quality music for over twenty yeas. This fantastic first album from Frick follows a long line of performances as part of the stage based underground supergroup Brandt Bauer Frick. Whilst working with BBF, Paul Frick had come up with some great ideas for experimental electronic music, however with a groove well established it has only been possible to experience the sounds since his recent break. Just like any real creative genius, even when resting they just carry on with something different.
Because of Frick's amazing catalogue of instruments and sounds that he's collated and learned over the years, the album is filled with traditional and out of the ordinary expressions of technology. Taking seeds from every fruit of the forest, the slinky soundsmith brings the flavours and feels from across the garden to culminate in the long play thirteen track record. Frick has created the record to highlight the subtle moments of everyday life in a form of musical poetry inspired by a form called Alltagspoesie (Every-Day-Poetry).
Described as a “sonic collage” this mish-mash of sounds fuse into servings of a many coursed meal of music, each one crafted to compliment the other. Having been a key figure in the electronic music scene for many years and with roots still firmly in the hip-hop days that brought him into the world of professional music, Paul Frick may have taken his time with this album. Once he sat down to make it, two months of solid driving resulted in a great compilation of conjures that show his salt for what it's worth.
Sonically rich and almost unnerving use of sample and tone bring home all kinds of internal feelings normally associated with fairgrounds. Without an intrusive side to the music, like a banging beat or a shrill houser synth, deeply reaching curves penetrate my natural barriers and sink hooks neatly and without resistance. Slow track by track progressions bring dimensions of rhythm,manic tone shifting, and broken samples that all result in a disjoined pecan pie layered with soft sauce that glues the texture together sweetly. This mental journey represented by sound adjusts our perceptions and asks questions of what music is while giving us a pleasant feel good sensation among oddly intriguing noisefare.
Listen to a track from the album on Soundcloud
Woke / Love Trumps Fear
TBR: 14th September
Lighting the way to a future EP, generously stuffed with more than average minutes, ASA 808 marks the occasion with a splendid double A side. Comprising of everything in the house to make music for its namesake, unusual elements such as reverse recorded guitars and old-school basslines engineered from the ground up make this something worth listening to. Maybe we need to be acclimatised to their modern edge before the delicious dollop on the grapevine.
Created over the summer last year, and painstakingly mastered by Atjazz, the white knuckle ride of releasing new music has been worth the drawn out approach. DJs from the floors that count are already using Woke in their playlist, it's been heard from the decks of Whitesquare, George Fitzgerald, Avalon Emerson, and many others. The track begins with a euphoric synth string that crafts a sneaking journey through harmonising tones. A light drum-score adds a seasoning of rhythm to the abstract pulsation of the melodics which builds nicely into a jumble of bass, snare, hat rolls, and a vocal uh! Fruity bass melodies form a chunky and stepped cliff-face of sound that gives a pleasant viewing spot for the frolicking house flow that fills the sky.
The anthem for Love that is Love Trumps Fear begins on a wobbling bass tone and solid kick drum. The bass increases in pressure, surging in electronically metered wavelengths. In the distance, an angelic howling whispers in from the corners and slowly fills the sound-space like it was an empty cup. The intensity builds further, this time from the top end, and subtle drums add the clarity of progression like wingbeats. Uplifting and pleasant, both of these tracks take the greatness from high energy music and add the delicious river of musical smoothness that keeps everything under the lid.
TBR 6th July
It's been a long four years of silence for HTRK, after their Psychic 9-5 release and all the happening that followed, finding the strand to follow has been worth waiting for. Now on Ghostly International, the vocal/electronics know-how of Jonnine Standish and the guitar wizardry of Nigel Yang fuse once more in an outskirting suburb of Melbourne. This two track traditional single release marks the on-coming of a much awaited album. Plenty of us will want this for the B-side too, not to mention fulfilling the desire to hear more of this group's imagination.
The single begins with a vibrant resounding bass tone which flops like sunny arms over a perfectly balanced fulcrum. Moody words drizzle over echoic muses of string and gradual tempo. Shakers, hand drums, string scratches, grungy fret changes, and emopoetic charge slurries in a blending pit of sonic depth. Just a little longer before the Sun rises and falls... feeling this song is a pleasure. Relaxed and choked up on the lack of human touch when we love each other over the internet, a dualistic blissful hell that creeps into all of our lives. When we seem to be desperate for attention online, the basic need for human touch manifests in the desire to be acknowledged for being alive too.
Along with More To Enjoy, about not giving up, maybe on life, music or love, we're treated to a couplet that with splendid clarity, sounds haunting and delicately brushed. This remarkably gothic sounding release spells a noir dream of digital reality, hope, and breath-taking organic quality.
Listen to the A-side Mentions on Soundcloud
Tommy goes solo for the first time and takes on the impress of Civil Disobedience to make his musical mark. This record label loves free spirits, the rough and ready talent of the millennial generation. Here we find Tommy taking us through a role play of his early years as a wayward youth on the streets of Dublin, Ireland. A kindred spirit, who like me, engaged in firework wars (see A Poet, on Park Hill?), however unlike me, I guess Tommy was also giving what he got. I think I've only ever let off one firework. I have worked as a security guard for the Sheffield firework display though, back when I was a Park Ranger. Enough about me, let's get to Holohan's sound, rich with fuelled emotive surges and dynamic electronic soundcraft.
Discordant, mysterious sounds spurn into amplitude as wavering and stretched cassette style distortions turn up the experience. A neat and minimal percussive section is injected at the time when we begin to wonder where it's going, and as its progression slowly evolves, the genius of the funfair emerges. Organ tones resound through the disharmonious flames of key and project a heavenly light through the broken horizon. When we're taken to Seamos Gaf, track two on this four track offering, a silence begins the piece with haunting thereness. A tight beat pulls out of the blank canvas on a needle of slight arpeggio and rhythmic melody. Strange spacey effects decorate the sounds with cosmic long distance reverb. A phaser brings the tone from one side to another as the continually pressurising drum-score brings each bar to a new level of energy. We're asked to dance, and dance hard. I imagine this can also be mixed with something pounding and heavy. The housey element in the percussion, with a lightness and non insistent quality allows for the undertones and effects to stand out to be enjoyed.
Crackling rumbles instantly revolve into being as track three breaks the scene. South Beach Burnin Bins' has a campfire quality not only in the name but in the jostling of make-shift instruments that forms its being. A crooked bassline fills a void and on each side of the resonant beat-tone sits various sounds and samples. Soon keyboards layer the spaces with techno styled melodics which pound and push as their metallic orchestral hits splurge in fastly paced rhythms. An interesting break happens when all boils down to hefty bass and keyboard for a few bars and then, wham, a new angle to the catchy and sticky rhythm. As we finish with Remaining Rogerstown, ghostly samples echo through displaced drums to knit a blanket of strange colours. As we gradually hook onto the repeating tempo, the jazzical flurry of tones and drum is softened when a slow paced keyboard inserts an angelic melody, simple yet all encompassing. An experience of ending the brief record is definitely added to this final number, and by this time it's okay to go back to the beginning. The rich and diverse toolbox that Tommy draws on has allowed the first and latest Holohan release to map out quality directions and areas of exploration ripe for the taking.
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Listen to and follow Tommy Holohan on Soundcloud
Rowan Blair Colver for the Homunculus Media Group
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