Reviewed this week
Berlin retro electronics from synth geniuses Thorsten Quaeschning and Ulrich Schnauss. Synthwaves pays homage to the masters of the past, yet feels fresh and enchanting. Rich, neon-lit patterns are modulated and mutated with precision into several post cosmic sounds to drift to. During two intense weeks in the capital, Quaeschning and Schnauss (both students of the great, late maestro Edgar Froese) are said to have locked themselves in a studio full of vintage synthesizers, analogue sequencers and drum machines and here are the impressive results. These tracks are so evocative and life affirming as you'd expect given the credentials of these producers: in particular the dreampop and nu-gaze prince Schnauss' contribution. As with the finest Tangerine Dream soundtracks, it's the kind of music that paints vivid pictures on the canvas of the listeners mind.
Sebastopol's been MIA since 2012, the year in which the electronic nomad released the sublime Hello All Stations, This Is Zero. Given the artist's mysterious behaviours, it's difficult to tell whether he (or she!) has released under any other aliases or projects. However, what we can say is that this new EP, Assassin, has just reminded us of why we dug that debut so damn much. "Assassin" itself is a little masterpiece, a tune which rides at a techno pace but that feels so much deeper and explorative than that; its warm, bubbling glow of a bassline pushes on like a pulse. Mannequin boss Alessandro Adriani reworks the original into a much more sombre, glacial kind of affair, which is absolutely effective and yet still overshadowed by the original. "Manethon" bleeps its minimal slew over a fluid drum machine beat, leaving Privacy enough space to transform it into a grungier, more broken EBM sort of belter.
After blowing us all away with a delightful misfit of a debut for the Domestica label, the Cult Club collective return to the imprint with yet more of their mild-mannered coldwaves for the current generation. Taking inspiration from the best of the synth pop era, this lot provide everything you need to hit maximum levels of neo romantic nostalgia, and it all stats with the house-centric vibes of "All The People", a tune that reminds us of New Order's early experiments. However, it doesn't start and end there; these eight tracks are a perfectly balanced voyage across the more danceable end of the post-punk spectrum, and they'll no doubt please more than one category of digger.
Seth Haley begun has career as Com Truise with a bang, releasing two superb albums on Ghostly International in as many years. Curiously, it's taken him five years to conjur up album number three, the typically spacey, melodious and intergalactic Iteration. As you'd expect, his usual musical reference points - Vangelis's Blade Runner soundtrack, early synth-wave, skewed lo-fi boogie, late night radio instrumentals - are all still much in evidence, as his is passion for dusty old synthesizers, cheap drum machines and ear-pleasing melodies. In effect, it's business as usual, though when the music is this cheery, tuneful and atmospheric, it would be churlish to complain.
Politically, a lot of the UK is feely pretty abandoned at the moment and somehow the ominous sounds of Tronik Youth's trademark moody style seem to perfectly capture this current national mood. The title track is six minutes of taut, gothy bass twang whipped by tortured rhythmic snaps and haunted by ghostly atmospherics. Eerie and intense. Meanwhile the mood is lightened by the lo-fi Chicago inspired, bleepy slammer "Don't Space". Elsewhere the tune is turned into melodic tranciness by Tunnel Signs and hedonist EBM (think early Black Strobe) in the "Man2.0 Single White Female Remix. Funboys also deliver a cool, minimal horror-electro version.