Bruno Pronsato's excellence and singularity within the minimal techno reign has undoubtedly help him to carve a particular niche for himself. While he used to be closely associated to the likes of Marc Houle, Gaiser and the resto of the Minus wave, the free-spirited artist has dwelt more on the experimental and freeform shade of electronic music in recent years. This new LP on Foom, a great new indie specializing in all things left of field, is named US Drag for reasons which become more and more apparent as its 9 tunes take shape. Very much danceable and handy for a DJ wanting to break the set up with something a bit special, it is still an album that will have to be enjoyed with an open mind. Like a good glass of wine, its ultra minimalistic waves of glitchy beats and loose bass folds are a delight and bring in a breath fo fresh air. We recommend it fully.
Given her stratospheric rise in recent years, it's something of a surprise to find Dust is Laurel Halo's first album since 2013. It's the Michigan native's third full-length excursion and was apparently recorded over a two-year period at the EMPAC performing arts centre in upstate New York. Interestingly, it's even more difficult to pigeonhole than her previous sets, with Halo and collaborators - including Lafawandah, Michael Salu, Maxmillion Dunbar and experimental percussionist Eli Keszler - gleefully fusing elements of wonky electronica, skewed R&B, drowsy synth-pop, neo-classical, humid Balearica, creepy jazz and off-kilter ambience. In other words, it's a hugely vibrant and entertaining set that's more than worthy of your hard-earned cash.
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.
Umfang's spellbinding performances have clearly won favour with Ninja Tune sub-label Technicolour as Light is based on material derived from her live sets. The US producer weaves a tantalising, hypnotic web of sound that veers in form and intensity from the ambient textures of "Full 1" and "Path" into the tough, minimal techno of "Weight" and "Where is She". "Pop" sees her drop a robotic, bleep workout, but Umfang impresses most when she embraces musicality. In particular, the woozy Rhodes on "Full 2" is a thing of inestimable beauty and she applies this aesthetic to great effect on the title track's bubbling groove.
After an uncompromising set of EPs for the justifiably hyped Ancient Monarchy label, which helped to take the imprint out of the deep underground and into the mainstream, Soundman Chronicles' DJ Parris lands on London's mighty Hemlock to deliver yet more of his impressionistic take on house and techno. What we love about this guy is that we never know what we're gonna get from him, and these three tunes are a perfect example of that: "Your Kiss Is Sour" is made up of rotating synth echoes that flutter in and out of heavy bass pulses whereas, on the flip, "Flowering In Threes" adds a little house sensitivity to a similarly aqueous range of atmospherics, while "My Beautiful Fantasy" offers the oddball of the lot, or rather, the one tune that will surely get the heads nodding their head up and down thanks to that dub-leaning bass riding in its underbelly. Yes, Parris. And yes to Ancient Monarchy for stepping into the digital zone.
Bookworms' new LP Appropriation Loops (A Love Story) explores appropriation of music and culture throughout time. Borrowing ideas from modern classical, jazz, minimal techno and granular synthesis, he taps into the feedback loop of contemporary art. Real name Nicholas Dawson, the New York City based producer's been producing music under the Bookworms moniker since 2012. His early work appeared on the Ron Morelli's L.I.E.S. and currently he runs a party and label called Confused House. The party is notable for its focus on hardware techno from NYC and abroad. The label has released collaborative records from Bookworms and his L.I.E.S. cohort Steve Summers. Like William Basinski's tape loops morphing over time, appropriation loops are recurrent, fluctuant feedback loops in popular and unpopular culture. Rae Sremmund talks about how they're the new black rock stars with guitars in 2016's "Black Beatles", but The Beatles appropriated black American rhythm and blues music from the American South to begin with. Kraftwerk's mechanic interpretation of Motown hits of 60s and 70s Detroit was later echoed by Detroit techno producers who subsequently put the funk back in it and made it more minimal. Detroit techno, for one, could never have been without the device of appropriation... but the device is often misused. People want to know where their chicken comes from (free range, grass fed, no antibiotics) but they don't want to know where their music comes from. Where does it come from? Trace the appropriation loops to find out.
Tadd Mullinix returns to his more experimental Charles Manier guise and follows up 2015's demonstrative sophomore American Manier with another politically galvanised trip into the darker, starker, fringe-frolicking pastures of electronica. Coated in his own artwork and burning with fusions such as a fuzzy kraut stew of "Lions Of Rojava", the swampy, insistent 99 percenter "Truest Coffer" the experience gradually builds in momentum and shape as we hit the final floor-focused throes where impenetrable weaves of molten machine funk entwine and tangle with uncompromised hypnotica. Another stern statement from the man like Cotton.
Well, here's a new artist coming through on a new label...something we like to see week in and week out here at Juno Digital. Thankfully, this particular release is also drenched in a wonderfully bizarre sort of electronic glow that stands apart from its competitors; recalling some of Pekka Airaksinen's experimentations, newcomer Man From Uranus presents the endlessly pleasing Alien Flowers through the newly found Re-Alignment Of Magnetic Dust. So far, so good. But it's the music in here which we should focus on, and believe us when we say that this is some pretty killer material, particularly for those looking to get a total refreshment! Through a blend of strange and fascinating synth experiments, the album shifts and turns into something more reminiscent of the post-punk era, running loose drum machine beats over sparse instruments and indie vocals. It's a truly singular piece of music, and one which should not go overlooked. We love it, and it comes warmly recommended.
Nina Kraviz' label takes a trawl through Thule founder and deceased producer Sigurbjorn Porgrimsson's archive of unreleased material to deliver an album that could only be described as schizophrenic. Halogen Continues veers wildly in styles; at one end of the spectrum, there's the gentle ambience and hazy textures of "Autofloat" and "Lag 7", while at the other end, there are mental, Liberator-meets-gabba workouts like the mental acid of the aptly-named "160 Techno" and the sluggish bass and hyperactive jungle / break beats of "Borealis" and "Lag 9". It's not all extremes however, and some of the most impressive tracks come when Porgrimsson provides his own interpretation of classic styles, eg on the robotic, stark electro of "Lag 24". It's a fitting tribute to one of electronic music's most maverick artists.
Those with a passion for drone textures and off-kilter ambient recordings should already be familiar with the work of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. The New York-based Californian multi-instrumentalist has spent the last decade sauntering between labels, releasing a string of well-regarded albums in the process. On The Echoing Green is his second full-length for Mexican Summer. It sees him expertly blurring the boundaries between drone, ambient and dub techno, presenting a range of cuts that flit between clandestine moodiness, sparkling beauty and mood-enhancing bliss. Check, for example, the shoegaze-influenced brilliance of "Echoing Green" and "Tenderness", the distorted, intergalactic noise of "Vulgar Latin" and the layered field recordings of "Door To Night".
Different Circles imprint, Mumdance and Logos' have now turned to Rob McAndrews' Airhead project. Since setting his stall out with a number of lauded EPs on R&S records a few years back, McAndrews has been relatively quiet on the solo front but kept busy in his capacity as guitarist for James Blake. "Kazzt" is quietly impressive, with trippy electronics, delay-laden percussion hits, out-there textures and fizzing builds creating energy atop a sparse but weighty kick-drum. Mumdance provides the obligatory flipside remix, increasing the low-end pressure and percussive intensity - mostly via machine-gun drum bursts - while retaining the sparse weirdness of McAndrews' original.
After their first few outings, which included the efforts of Mumdance and Logos, Different Circles are back with their third release, this time an EP from Rabit (Soundman Chronicles) and newcomer Strict Face; the latter has only put out a handful of tunes to date. Bass wizard Rabit dominates the A-side with "Tearz", an aptly moody experimentation into piano keys, sparse bursts of noise and percussion - perhaps the oddest tune form the man yet! Strict Face comes through with the beat-heavy, hip-hop-leaning "Into Stone", followed by a dubbier, beatless version from Widows. Enticing and fresh.