In a year of epic, and frankly exhausting marketing campaigns for the likes of Daft Punk and Boards of Canada, the surprise release of Blondes' second album is a breath of air as fresh and breezy as its title Swisher sounds. Although still marked out by the duo's fondness for thick, hazy, cosmic sounds and the spaciousness of classic dub techno, Swisher sees the pair expanding on their palette of sounds, though the dreamy, melodic progression of their debut album remains intact, most notably on "Andrew" and final track "Elise". Yet there are times when Blondes sound in significantly tougher mood, with cuts such as "Wire" and "Bora Bora" sounding inspired to some degree by Andy Stott's more recent murky techno deviations. Unsurprisingly, it comes highly recommended.
Australian duo Gardland (a collaboration between producers Alex Murray and Mark Smith) specialise in the sort of linear, psychedelic-tinged house and techno that rarely fails to impress. That's certainly the case with Syndrome Syndrome, their debut album. Sounding like a sparser, spookier, less "maximal" Blondes, crossed with the clanking electronics of Autechre and kraut-inspired rhythms of Factory Floor, Syndrome Syndrome is much more imaginative and entertaining than many techno-centric excursions. Pleasingly, there are aural surprises - be they weird-out guitar samples or unusual percussion sounds - around every corner. That's the sign of an impressive debut.
There's definitely a high surge of experimental music coming out of New York at the moment, with Rvng Intl being at the forefront of this wave. Holly Herndon makes her debut for the label after an interesting first release on cassette for "Third Sex", and "Movement" sees her sound mould into a distinctive mixture of noise and synthesis experimentation. The opener, "Terminal", sets the scene for what is inevitably going to head down dark, unknown territories - its brooding bass howls protruding between glitchy noises. "Fade" adds a more familiar percussion arrangement but is quickly disemboweled by echoing lyrics and swirling polyphonies; not to mention its following track, "Breathe", another apocalyptic bundle of groans and swirling effects. "Control And" is as daunting as it is marvellous, but it's the muffled, delayed techno of "Movement" which truly stands out as Herndon's best work so far. It's her most focused moment yet, one which seems to be heading towards more grounded territories, only to be torn apart by the awkwardly brilliant "Dilato". Highly recommended!
Andrew Field-Pickering is a unique talent. Under the Maxmillion Dunbar guise, he's treated listeners to a string of gorgeously kaleidoscopic releases that join the dots between sparkling electronica, E'd-up disco, next-level Balearica and effervescent deep house. With Woo, his first release for RVNG INTL, he's at it again. "Woo" is deliciously fluid, pitting brightly coloured electronic melodies and darting synths against stuttering drum machine rhythms and cascading chords. The beatless "Shampoo" is similarly lucid, delivering a steamy tropical shower of glistening electronics and synthesized steel drums. It's only the formidably robust "Drift" - a Disco Nihlist-ish exercise in analogue groovery - that breaks the spell. Essential.
Andrew Field-Pickering is a unique talent. Under the Maxmillion Dunbar guise, he's treated listeners to a string of gorgeously kaleidoscopic releases that join the dots between sparkling electronica, E'd-up disco, next-level Balearica and effervescent deep house. With Woo, his first release for RVNG INTL, he's at it again. "Woo" is deliciously fluid, pitting brightly coloured electronic melodies and darting synths against stuttering drum machine rhythms and cascading chords. The beatless "Shampoo" is similarly lucid, delivering a steamy tropical shower of glistening electronics and synthesized steel drums. It's only the formidably robust "Drift" - a Disco Nihlist-ish exercise in analogue groovery - that breaks the spell.
Warped Notions Of A Practical Joke (instrumental) - (1:37) 128 BPM
Dark Side Of Religion - (3:28) 103 BPM
Cosmic Saudade - (4:39) 145 BPM
Cold Nose (part 3 & Movement 2) - (1:29) 146 BPM
Fragments Of Light - (3:07) 140 BPM
Into The Memory - (3:11) 126 BPM
Cold Nose (part 3 & Movement 5) - (1:01) 130 BPM
C'e Nessuno - (4:02) 120 BPM
Map - (4:57) 123 BPM
Moving Particles - (2:24) 148 BPM
Cold Nose (part 3 & Movement 3) - (0:42) 158 BPM
Music Is Painting - (2:55) 102 BPM
Left Side Of Green - (4:11) 110 BPM
Chelsea Hotel (Room 625) - (2:07) 126 BPM
Fix A Water Fountain (instrumental) - (2:31) 100 BPM
Overflowing Ashtrays - (1:13) 86 BPM
Strangelands - (1:54) 82 BPM
Cold Nose Story - (4:03) 102 BPM
Slow Motion Movie - (1:59) 96 BPM
Fortune Teller - (1:43) 116 BPM
Fortune Teller Coda - (2:43) 119 BPM
Crossing Berlin - (5:14) 157 BPM
Darkside 1 & 3 - (3:06) 133 BPM
Darkside 2 - (3:30) 150 BPM
The excellent RVNG have indulged in some niche reissue projects in their time, but this mammoth compilation from obscure Italian trio Sensations Fix might be the most intriguing to date. Rising to prominence in the 70s through several albums released through Polydor over four years, each was self-recorded and produced with a Minimoog, guitar, drumkit, four-track recorder and several keyboards, creating a unique hybrid of progressive rock and kosmische that still sounds unlike anything else since. Moving effortlessly between the drivetime rock of tracks like "Barnhouse Effect" and "Grow On You" and the experimental synth-driven psychedelia of tracks like "Moving Particles" and "Scraping Delay", this album is an essential document chronicling one of the 70s' great lost bands.
Flitting around many sturdy and well-regarded underground institutions such as Olde English Spelling Bee and Black Dirt, this latest release for Stellar OM Source may well be her biggest move yet, signing up to the expansive plains of Rvng Intl, and sparring with the inimitable Kassem Mosse in the remix department. "Elite Excel" is a wondrous excursion propelled on submerged drum machine rhythm firing off in an urgent breakbeat, while psychedelic strands of synth dart around the mix before a more prominent main riff manages to come pealing through the mists and give the track some emotional gusto. It's the perfect jump-off point for someone like Kassem Mosse, who get slow and sizzling on his version with a glorious mural of melodic twists and turns while keeping the mechanical funk of his machines whirring constantly.
Natives/Most Answers Never Unveiled - (7:58) 129 BPM
Elite Excel (Kassem Mosse mix) - (6:03)
RVNG Intl have already served up one of this year's most memorable long players in Max D's House of Woo, and they secure another potential candidate for those end of year lists with the superb Joy One Mile from Stellar Om Source. The French producer has demonstrated an increasing interest in techno that's no doubt informed by her current base in The Netherlands which was explored explicitly on last year's No Label 12" for Rush Hour. It's expanded much further on this eight track set which was apparently laid down live in one take without overdubs, improvised limitations or consequence. Gauldi subsequently handed these recordings to Gunnar Wendel, aka Kassem Mosse, who mixed down and arranged the album in its entirety with little prior guidance. The resultant album focuses in on a loose amalgamation of proper electro and detuned techno, with "Par Amour" an immediate highlight.