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Reviewed this week
Boost is Future Times boss man Andrew Field-Pickering's third solo album under his familiar Max D alias and the seven tracks stand up as a fine example of the musical freedom currently running through the DC-based artist's veins. Like us, you've probably played the crushing, freeform 808 cruncher "Rhythm Operator" to death on the FT SoundCloud but we are happy to report the other six tracks are just as daring! As impressive as previous long players for RAMP and RVNG were, Boost feels bolder, a fuller expression of Field-Pickering's undoubted musical talent and less beholden to any particular dancefloor trope. Mood Hutter Jack J, Jordan GCZ, Motion Graphics and Benedek all contribute to Boost, but what really shines through is Max D's beaming smile behind those drum machines. Ps we hope this album is named after our favourite chocolate bars!
Vancouver's 1080p has brought up plenty of Canadian house talent over the last few years, first by releasing LNRDCROY's debut LP, and then offering a sublime selection of cassettes by artists like Moon B, SETH, or Feingold. This time they're back with a 12" by newcomer Ex-Terrestrial, who proceeds to drop four absolutely soul-warming house track that contain a distinctively British vibe to them - but not int he current sense of the word, we mean what British house and techno used to sound like back in the 90's, that is, exploratory and cinematic. "Paraworld" is a jittery slice of absolute brain dynamite thanks to its luscious pads, while "Aletheia" chucks in a load of slithering breakbeats among the stomping bass drums and deep-throated baselines. Then you also have the sparse and aqueous drones of "Dreams Of Jupiter", followed by the slo-mo jungle rhythm called "Blue Smoke". a great little EP, coming very highly recommended.
The Gasman is a bit of a worrying talent, to be honest. This is because he seems to drop quality whatever the genre he goes for at any one time, and each and every album that he's released on Planet Mu has been more than memorable. This time, however, he experiments new pastures on Onomatopoeia for the label's 16th instalment, and he's got 12 cuts of supreme balearic-driven machine funk. Preferring to keep to the hybrid formats, Aeriform does't deal in concrete genres, and tunes like "Trip", Zports", or "Inventions" could be played by anyone from Lovefigers, to Theo Parrish, or even Skream, and that is exactly the sort of album we're into. Sickness y'all!
For his third album, Swedish producer Peder Mannerfelt retreats to his own self-titled label. Not much else has changed though and Controlling Body is shot through with the same assured, experimental edge. "Building of the Mountain" kicks off the album with rave stabs breaking in slow motion and Glasser's high-pitched wail, while "Her Move" features an unnamed chanter speeding up and slowing down against robust break beats. There are also moments of real musical beauty - check the warm, enveloping chords of "BZ Reaction" and the ghostly, Biosphere-style radar whirrs of "Coast 2 Coast" - but this would not be a Mannerfelt work if it did not test the boundaries, as it does on the mannequin stuttering 'c-c-c-c-create' on the slowed down tribalism of "Limits to Growth" or the droning textures of "Abysmal".
2015 was a comparatively busy year for Dial, one that saw the arrival of newcomers such as Dj Richard to the scene, and even more material from label boss Carsten Yost himself. The imprint is back in 2016 with a full album from James K, the Physical Therapy and SETH associate with a taste for drones and singing. PET is a large and wide-reading album, where K pretty much visits all the possible corners and angles of ambient music, all the while retaining a sweet and sensual vocal makeover. The most impressive thing, however, is not the selection of tones or how 'dark' the sounds are, but rather how well James K's voice wraps around these hollow sounds to make an additional layer that sounds as if it was woven out of the same cloth. A truly stupendous piece of moody electronica. There's even some classic Dial house for you in there.
We like it when an artist debuts with an album; it demonstrates an inherent confidence and a bursting desire to get one's point across, a clear and coherent idea demonstrated through music. Parc En Ciel are exactly that, and Glasgow's Lucky Me has taken them on in all their starry-eyed glory. Path Integral is a voyage album, ten shards of sonic experimentation that never stick too closely to one genre - or even subgenre, for that matter. Simply put, it's space music, a sort of new-age age that is played by tribes on Saturn. An interesting, wide-eyed release that is definitely worth a listen...or two.
French producer Terrence Fixmer has been working on and off with Douglas McCarthy, the former singer in EBM band Nitzer Ebb, for the past 15 years. "So Many Lies" crawls along at 90bpm, but despite the slower tempo is mightily powerful. Over a grinding, industrial rhythm, it features the tortured wails of McCarthy claiming 'not gonna take any more, I can't take any more'. It's far more potent than anything that the average techno artist channelling EBM influences could muster. In any event, the Instinct remix of "Lies" will appeal to DJs, with the original track's punishing rhythm sped up to create a pounding, relentless affair.
Eugene Carchesio's output has been exclusive to Australia's Room40, and the label have done a marvellous job at keeping this talent on their roster; we love everything about Carchesio's musical bric-a-brac, and each time one of his new LP's drop, we're eager to hear what sort of tip this beat wizard is on. The best way to describe his music would be to reference the infamous Sahko label and artists such as Mika Vainio, because although this is predominantly experimental music with an abstract feel, the beats and rhythms are powered by a distinctive sort of minimalism which hailed from Finland in the mid 1990's. The Planets is a glorious addition to this guy's already stellar discography, and we recommend it to all those looking for a futurist rush in their lives. TIP.
Canadian musician Tristan Douglas first made his name with a slew of digital releases for netlabels like Cocobass and B.YRSLF Division under the name Margaret Antwood. A clear pun on the celebrated poet from his homeland, Douglas has perhaps wisely chosen to lose the Margaret and move forward as Antwood. Getting picked up by Mike Paradinas, Douglas delivers his debut LP as Antwood in Virtuous .scr and delves into the darker recesses of the internet. AI is a central theme to the album's 12 tracks, specifically the idea of whether or not an AI can have a set of ethics, whilst sonic reference points could be video game music and anime soundtracks.
Berlin-based Melbournite Carla Dal Forno, one half of uber cool duo Tarcar and one third of F Ingers, strikes out on her own for the always impressive Blackest Ever Black. Aimed as a taster for a forthcoming solo album, Carla Dal Forno presents two tracks of reduced goth tendencies on "Fast Moving Cars", with her gorgeous vocals backed by a bare bones rhythmic arrangement, subtle synth swells and a raw bassline. Things get even gloomier yet on "Better Yet", where her haunting vocals assist you in drifting away to a dark and lonely place, sounding reminiscent of early Sisters Of Mercy or The Cure.
Up to this day, Nomine has been heavily associated with the mighty Tempa crew out of London - perhaps the most important home to dubstep music - but this time his brooding head-nodders are here on his own Nomine Sound label. "Nomine's Path" is the perfect opener, a mid-tempo drum roll that dilutes perfectly into the steadier kicks and Eastern vocals of "Peace Please". "Lost Girl" is a dubby wave of Space Echo trickery and aqueous chanting, but "Nomine's Mantra" is the final gate to the portal, a mystical bullet of wizard wailing and sparse drum beating. Tip!