TBR: 30th November
Life is one big party for London music collective GETME! Their record label, radio network, and events management bring everything together so everyone can enjoy. Good music, a quality atmosphere, and a regular media outlet to keep people up-to-date. Since being founded by Lixo himself back in 2006, almost twenty releases fly behind this kite of service like uniquely adorned ribbons and flags. Now the collective stand aside to let Lixo lay one down from his own laboratory of musical experimentation. Cicada EP explores electronic sounds with the added use of studio worked vocals to give a human feel to the digital landscape.
It starts with the sounds of electronic feedback and a drum testing it's capabilities. Soon a rhythmic pulsing cymbal adds a layer of percussion, it's form pushed through a weave of tone as the mixing makes its magic. Wein is a smooth and easy going number, it builds gradually and assuredly, every few revolutions of the record bringing with them a new layer of flow and rhythm that each add something new to the number. The vocal additions sprinkle the sides like blankets of humanity while melodics and drums continue their happy feeling dancing patterns. I can feel The Prodigy in the breakdown, just before the pressure builds to climax the tune.
Whistler enters with another upbeat tempo. Drums and hats combine to roll out a slightly funky beat that is soon joined by, you guessed it, a whistling synth. It is a good melody and the cosmic reverberations on the keys make interesting listening. Again, the mood is set for good and we can sit back to enjoy the piece. More rhythm in the form of amplitude forms a breaking point for the track to evolve. A bass tone begins to craft a distant journey that gradually gets nearer as we continue to listen. The resolution on the bass under score increases and we get to hear a new waveform much closer to us.
Next up is a curious beat, it sounds disjointed and angular to itself however the tempo is absolutely fine. Then a wobbling synthesiser begins to stroke the melody in slow and voluptuous tones. Bass and treble combine to fill the track with a heavy abstract sound. Looping voice melodics spin around on a tight curve while the odd yet regular beats and notes continue on their bifurcate journey. Dromer is more experimental however the atmosphere remains on the positive side with each bar made to sound great despite its unusual structures.
A plucked string sound with heavy distortion builds like mysterious topology through the ambient yet subtly alert fourth number. Wailing notes with distant vocal samples make way for heady drums which keep us moving. Nicely worked atmospheres creep around in dreamy dazes while the track manages to remain awake with continual movement. If we listen, there's actually a lot going on. It does inspire calm though. Phoxi has an oceanic quality, powerful yet controlled by forces greater than itself. Deep synths and high energy drums give the holistic sense of enjoyment.
The whole EP sits comfortably in the middle of the field where everyone can enjoy it. Without going over the top with heavy dance inspiring grooves and never being shy of interesting filling material to keep the beats engaging, it works well to remain accessible yet uniquely entertaining.
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DFFDL & Scenic Recovery
Chemical Imbalance Records
Eclectic underground cassette release label Chemical Imbalance always delve into mysterious waters and uncover superb and sought-after treasures for the electronic sound art scene. Their flavour of crafted and controlled distortions, ambient drone, and splendid fly-bys from space-age technology makes an ideal helipad for this Chinook of a release. Two fifteen minute escapades into the realms of sonic sculpture elevate both DFFDL and Scenic Recovery into the world of collectable music. It's almost Summer in Australia, and as we in Europe and the USA fetch our scarves and gloves, DFFDL and Scenic Recovery can bask in the grace of the Sun and the knowledge of a well deserved landmark title. Featuring an amazing, non-conformist image by artist Brooke Van Der Linden, the Melbourne produced release is limited to 30 cassettes and of course unlimited digital downloads.
Focus begins with a roaring wave like a cybernetic ocean. Strange digitisations of swell and current boil around in an amplitude hungry froth, soon giving way to angelic whistle-chimes which, with polyphonic qualities, span the horizon like growing flocks of birds launching from the watery surface. What seems like a never ending barrage of bustling life drills through the illusory notion of beginning and end and while the sound-fare continues on, new passages of waveform begin to sneak in through the amalgam of white-noise. Subtle shifts in tonal sway bring slight adjustments to directions within the piece, and as focus may imply, the resolution of the sound becomes increasingly vibrant. Formulations of synthesised shrill and pitch swerve and mingle in digital and almost organic sounding helices of subtle melodics. While remaining extremely drone ambient with drawn out passages which are never in a hurry to evolve, the shifting and gradual moving around of the entire work manages to keep the piece in a workable and enjoyable progression. Never lingering but not shy of thoroughly exploring each corner of the soundsphere these vocalisations of technology create for us, we have a real mental and sonic map of a vast area of expanding destinations.
The Scenic Recovery track breaks open like a bottle of lamps, each one rising through the opening as if luminous bubbles lighter that air. Blank Paper Spirit perhaps encapsulates the potential energy of a blank sheet of paper when in the hands of a creator such as Scenic Recovery. Admiring the mysterious void of ideas which hooks and anchors onto the desire to be expressed when presented with such a tool for thought, the music spans into directions adjacent to one another forming a three dimensional field of view within sound. Horn like drones with drum sounds which resonate and crumble away as the time lapsed reverberations melt into each other release tensions and shrinking pitches that creep in the undergrowth. This bubbling mass of sound begins to warm up and as gurgles and steam rise from its depths, breaking points on the surface tension reveal new aromas of melded ingredients. It's heavy stuff, with brutal facias of soft noise breaking the view into portions of labyrinthed structure, it reminds me a lot of Park Hill in Sheffield. It's ironic in a way that the cover art shows a tranquil country scene.
Music for thinking to, for drinking tea and musing on the cosmos, or simply something to keep you focused on more important things, this half hour of escapist anthems brings us to new places inside our own minds. Drifting notes and wavering assemblies of various tones allow us to dream away our moments with a fanfare of lucid reality. Is it the future, is it the distant past? Is it right now just a moment away from the horizon?
Split from Chemical Imbalance Records is available on Bandcamp
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Death Of The Ego
TBR: 2nd November
Exploring the vibe left in the wake of Squarepusher's epic post-techno work, Colin Mawson pushes his ego to one side and allows the nature of his talent to really push through. Taking jazz influenced melody and groove with ambient electronica as the backbone, this varied diet of ingredients provides a wash of musical capability. I wonder how much of Colin Mawson made it onto this record and how much of it is the spirit of the scene which of course possesses all who take part in it?
Death of the Ego opens with the title track. A piercing and haunting piano melody sprawls out over the silent mountains. It gathers speed like a gracefully climbing swan, and then settles into lofty buoyancy somewhere just above our heads. Subtle noises sprinkle the backdrop with wanderings of mindfulness while the melody runs through disjointed scales and unisons which dapple like sundrops on forest floors. Shrill yet perfectly mixed tones creep around the top as if they were watching eyes, peaceful but sentient none the less.
Track two revolves and shows a new side of this musical coin. Funky basslines curb the flowing dream sensations and give a platform for swish drumming to melodically play with the metalwork and snare. Chords on the strings with plucked intonations swerve from side to side around the steady beat. Late bar atmospheres build from the floor upwards as the softly distorted guitar and bass jam together in expertly composed frills of sound. Obfuscate progresses really well, as the melody builds so does the music. New sounds join the evolving tones like choral birds while the melody pushes further into the realms of sky.
Enough Rope? Takes a turn into a more gloomy corridor. Echoic drumming with distorted vinyl crackle builds a mattress for oddly harmonised notes to twinkle like distant lights. As the glow approaches nearer, or we approach it as the case may be, resonance and resolution bring out more of the illuminatory semblances. Soon an electric guitar crashes down and with perfectly poised power chords, sets the piece on fire. A chorus perhaps, as it dwindles back into the embers and glows gently in the form of wobbling underscore.
Vocal sample with classic step drumming opens the fourth number. Synthesiser chords vibe with a guitar melody in a duet of breezy melodics. Fresh air after the exploration of the underworld in the previous offering, The Futility of Human Endeavour marks a turning point in the way things face on this album. Now with less sense of permanence, the track relaxes into a world that remembers but not forever. One day in the future, the Earth itself will be consumed by the fire of the Sun, red and furious. If we manage to find somewhere else to live, what will remain? Perhaps only digital copies and a few antiques in museums.
Cobbles takes a dreamy wander through a pianist's imagination, settling the dust from the massive journey already undertaken. Music that changes, evolves, and runs smoothly from track to track is extremely difficult to work well. Colin Mawson did this, and the best pert is that the music sounds good too. Themes from many artists creep through, with sonics reminiscent of DJs to rock bands, the distance from each side of this album is eye wrenching. It's fun and something that can be listened to while working or while sitting and relaxing with a book or with headphones. There's plenty of space to play and plenty to listen to at the same time.
Listen to and buy Death of the Ego by Colin Mawson on Bandcamp
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Body Mechanics EP
TBR: 16th November
San Francisco based DJ and Producer Sepehr Amilagham has worked extensively on the six track acid dance stomper which culminates his many years of performances and studio work into one vinyl offering. Mastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios and adorning beautiful and captivating artwork by Nicole Ginelli, the EP reaches deep into the realms of sonic cartography. A range of influences from Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin to post-hardcore bands gives the Sepehr sound a distinctive edge.
Body Mechanics opens with the eponymous song. A fluffy oscillator beat spans out in a wavery yet stable rhythm. Drums add a new level of tempo that creates a platform for the music to stand on. As the loops roll out, new additions in the mix give extra layers and direction to the piece. Eerie and atmospheric synthesiser gives a wholesome sense of dark rooms and flashing lights. As clever and quirky drum-fills break the beats down into oddly shaped jigsaws, sounds and melodic rhythms ensure we remain gripped by the music.
The next track begins with a resonant bass drum which pulses in an ever so slightly distorted room. It's quickly joined by frantic hats which crackle and pop over the constant throb of bass. New drums give even more rhythm to the already fiery tempo while the occasional vocal sample flies from one end to the other. Befallen seems to take us down to ground level and allows us to observe the lower forces at work within the mind of this abstract yet accessible DJ.
Third up opens with a breathy synth tone which pulses in a slow and sensual flow. Drums then roll up to give a better sense of the dancing tempo and then as we're beginning to fit nicely into the pattern, the bass line spills over the side and into earshot. Bouncy and spongy beats from the frothy deep tones in the synthesiser bass line give a new flavour or enjoyability to the previous dark and scary sounding atmosphere. Velvet Dream seems to settle on the frantic and minimal sounds of synth tones and subtle drum for a fair distance, it's a glorious texture and worth spending time with.
We turn the disk over to reveal the three B side tracks which are actually just as fun and danceable as the previous ones. Roses and Thorns begins with a bouncy quick stepping bass beat on the synthesiser which is quickly dressed by even faster drumming. As amplitudes increase and pressures rise, the sludgy quality of the synth bass is turned up while the drums begin a quick march, continually filled by inner breaks.
Spooky and extra-terrestrial sounding tones make the intro for the new number. Frantik enters with an industrial yet space-age retro sound that when given the right drums creates a deep dancing atmosphere. Sonic samples of distorted voice sprinkled here and there give a flavour of the organic while tone shifting and effects push the music from one side to the other. Non-complex yet full of listenable elements, the track billows in digital winds propelled by bass and resonant tones.
Along with catchy 303 Diaries, the entire record fits nicely in dancehall repertoires and in home collections alike. We can enjoy the album as it is or find ways of mixing it in with other things. Surely many DJs can't wait to get their hands on a copy of this funky and atmospheric blast from the digital past. Although made today with the technology at hand, it tips the hat many times in the direction of the early pioneers who fiddled with analogue oscillators and looping drum machines to make their new sounding music.
Listen to I Just on this video, from earlier in 2018.
Locked Groove Records
TBR: 2nd November
Following on from the dual artist release from earlier this year, in which Locked Groove worked with Inner Shades, Oscillate turns up the voltage and pushes the sound frequencies further. Testing the unique style that Locked Groove has crafted over the years, sticking to the system yet tweaking all components allows the artist to increase his level of distinction. This two-tracker takes long bows in the direction of influences and also creates a continual sound brand that's growing on all of us.
Straight away the music brings in a hard and quick rhythm, it's gritty with pushed boundaries teetering on the edge of the red zone. New waves of tempo slide in gracefully and a synth tone pulses into amplitude, bringing with it a dancing pressure that pulls us in. Sweeping melody of simple notations revolves in a looping build that along with drums and the pulse-synth bring an atmosphere of enjoyable mystery. Oscillate seems to want us to physically express ourselves in what ever way possible and it gives us the perfect soundtrack for it.
Time Travel does seem to take us back in time with its introduction. What has been a stable back-bone for electronic music since its conception in the mid-twentieth century has been the drum and tone. Sounds that could have been made in the early days make a re-appearance for a retro inspired beat. Soon though, modern technology makes itself known with inserts of studio wizardry and know-how which creates a driving and slightly sinister sounding track. Then some angelic voice synths begin to gently chant in slow drawn out breaths while a garbled speech sound builds gradually from beneath.
It's an interesting two track release with plenty of sounds resulting in twelve good minutes of well-made dance worthy electronic and experimental music.
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Check out this video podcast of a Locked Groove appearance on the radio
Cannibals At Sea EP
TBR: 26th October
Multi-faceted Kayla Painter extends her musicality even further with this stunning five track extended play. Known for her in depth electronic work with elements of her English Bristol scene and Fijian dual heritage, Cannibals At Sea explores the next level on from where she left off. The deep and interesting character of Kayla Painter’s sound gets even more intriguing as this quintet of quality plays out. While digging up the bones of Fiji’s cannibalistic past and tying into various folklore surrounding the islands in the Pacific, this work brings a mysterious and exotic destination to temperate Britain.
Sentimental Swagger begins as a breezy tone, low and wood flavoured, and its then joined by polyphonic additions which adjust in texture. Odd instructions of sound break the waves like beautiful static and as the poetry of sound spirals onward, a loose rhythm forms on the rattling tempo. Tightening its hold with each passing loop, the rope brings the track together as percussive elements start to knead everything into a homogenous piece. Pulsations of note and voice mingle with jostling beats and sampled strangeness while the sonic pressure slowly builds. Trumpeting and horns all the while sprinkle a human edge over the otherwise space-age and steam-punk ambience.
Soon a new twist brings further static infused melody to the table. More rhythmic this time, track two takes a corridor into gloomy lights and protruding angles of sound. Mechanical grindings softly spoken with percussion and ghostly wails meet in a triad of computerised yet organic feeling sway. Greeting Your Enemies perhaps has a dark and hidden sense to it, one of suspicion and of unspoken thoughts. Heady beats dominate yet without being intrusive, the backdrop of the piece remains part of the integral focus. The periphery to this is the sounds in themselves, all flattening out gently from the middle.
Sacrificial Magic has an echoing quality that tingles with cymbal taps and aerated reverb. Wistful tones meander from the ground up into spirals of phantasmagoric opulence. Harmonising vocals twist and turn around each other’s thread while additions of melodic voice plump the vocals with their passions. The male and female timbres meeting in the music allow for a sense of completeness and homely relaxation. The scene is set and while the ceremony proceeds, it’s perhaps not apparent what is intended next.
A jittery tapping rhythm breaks the quiet for the fourth track on this selection of five. It pauses in between pulses and as the loops gather momentum, new sounds gradually enter the room which remove the uneasy breaks. Breath, computerised percussion, sampled sounds, and the humanity in the mix all come dressed in costume for Eating Your Enemies. Tense and suspicious sounds revolve and repeat while ever growing in amplitude and intensity. Suddenly it crunches down into just the plain breathing and then quiet.
Kenopsia takes the tone down to relaxation once more. Sublime strings and keys combine with birdsong and voice to brisk the cobwebs away. Lush melody shines like a morning sun and as if glistening on blue tranquil Fijian waters, this Bristol based musician sinks us deep into the soul of tranquillity. Cannibals At Sea is a great EP that takes us from here to there in style, a little spicy and a little strange, the genius is in the amounts. They seem to be just right.
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Watch this video of Kayla Painter Performing a couple of earlier tracks in Bristol
Shall Remain Nameless
TBR: 11th October
The secretive and alluring electronica project Shall Remain Nameless is about to release their third album. Earth, Texas is a concept based on the small town in the state named after our beautiful planet. When discovering of its existence, Shall Remain Nameless decided to imaginatively explore then knit together sensations, stories, and motivations which can be expressed through ambient music. Dedicating an entire work to this mysterious yet entirely accessible location allows track titles to point to various Earth, Texas based themes and information. Although unclear from first glance, I’m sure it will be fun to go and find out exactly what they all pertain to.
The album begins with 79031. An eerie wave of deep background provides an undercoat to the initial blank canvas. A vocal sample of a political sounding statement echoes over the base tone like a ghostly reminder of the flying times. Melodic wind synths bring an airy sensation which radiates as if illuminated by some inner core. As amplitudes increase, more sample gives that in touch with the past quality which draws the listener in. Resonating and reverberating sounds mix and mingle as if a body of birds in the blue Texan sky. Oddly disorientating yet warm and effortless, the music opens into wide fields and large gentle horizons. Bright Morning Star brings the feeling into ever increasing luminosity.
Uranium On The Moon takes a step down from the cosmic heavens, although perhaps not on this Earth entirely, the view is still fantastic. We’re given depth as metallic sounds and electronic feedback weave delicate tapestries of sound among strange and occasionally organic musical additions. A keyboard melody strikes the backbone of 299 792 458 m s, it revolves like a vinyl record hammering home the notes in a catching and mood building way. As pressure builds around the sound in adjoining walls of compression and volume, sections of the wave-form spill over and create interesting edges. Whispered vocal samples tread carefully between the cracks in the sound and they’re soon joined by more melody which works to dismantle the initial multi-tonal chime.
1109 sounds a distant horn from mist sheathed mountains as clattering percussion mimics the sounds of life close by. As the far-off melody gradually builds, crackles and distortions flood the mix in a slow and rising tide. Computerised ambience drifts across like synthetic clouds, coloured and shaped to perfectly resemble the dream. Angelic emotions craft a mysterious journey across the backdrop of infused notes. Subtle and relaxing greets the jigsaw like quality with the odd electronic distortion that makes it seem strangely more real. A guitar plucks, the music drifts in solitude, Blue Cloud Project spins off into vortices of abstract space.
A trill stitches two track together, Blackwater Draw opens with a siren like tapping of high-pitched notes. Although not intrusive or alarming their direction seems like a tangent from the so far slouching and dreamy mood. Perking up a little, if only to reveal more interesting and mind seeding synthesiser tones which harmonise and dance with the motions of the track. A mammoth number at twelve minutes long, it dwarfs the other offerings in its spatial dimensions. As it progresses, more layers of tone and electronic melody are gently laid on top of one another. Homeward Bound and Hyatt Earth end the album, a graceful and elegant ascent into the realms of the music collection will follow.
This experimental yet entirely accessible work of art explores not only the destination of Earth, Texas but the interesting and evocative sensations brought together by carefully selected and positioned sounds. For ambient and abstractica fans this album really is something to take home.
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Watch this video of Untitled III from Shall Remain Nameless's second album Untitled.
You can find all music by Shall Remain Namesless on Bandcamp.
Also, connect with Shall Remain Nameless on Soundcloud
Rowan Blair Colver for the Homunculus Media Group
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