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Reviewed this week
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Red Axes affiliate Moscoman impressed with his first outing on I'm A Cliche, 2013's self-titled debut EP. It set out his stall as a producer to watch: a creator of humid, exotic electronic music dripping with vintage new wave, EBM and Italo-disco influences. This follow-up continues in a similar vein. There's a notably murky feel to the bubbling but strangely foreboding "Dark Horse" and weirdly sensual "Rerotica", but it's the more live-sounding "Ego Trippin" - all Hammer horror organs, punk-funk bass, backwards vocal samples and Turkish melodies - that hits home hardest. Optimo Music's The Twins provides a magical remix, layering their ghostly vocals over a hypnotic bed of drum machine hits and woozy synthesizer riffs.
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It would be fair to called Joined Ends, Oliver Thomas Johnson's second album under his familiar Dorian Concept alias, "long-promised". It was being touted for release back in 2011, soon after he signed with Ninja Tune. Interestingly, it's a very different beast to his 2009 debut album, When Planets Explode, and the club-friendly singles that followed. A veritable technicolour blast of warm chords, shimmering synthesizer melodies, dream-pop vocals and skittering low-end rhythms, Joined Ends ripples with unfussy positivity. It's far from a straightforward set - Johnson is too imaginative a producer for that - but it certainly has a singular vision. It may not be the album we were expecting, but it's an impressive set nonetheless.
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After the meteoric impact of his self-released singles and spots on Hessle Audio, Power Vacuum and Bleep, the electronic music world has been waiting patiently for TJ Hertz to step up and share a wider vista of his sound world. This debut LP for PAN does not disappoint, channelling the electronica quality of his most crushing club music and giving it a chance to roam that bit more freely. The beats still hit hard on the likes of "Ratchet", but that's not their only purpose. With sound design and general production fireworks at the forefront, whether you can dance to this or not is unimportant; what matters is how completely edge-of-your-seat thrilling it is to listen to, from every space age sweep to each grubby reverb impulse. We always knew he had it in him, and Objekt has more than delivered on that promise.
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Finally, a reissue of Boards Of Canada's seminal Hi Scores LP from 1996! Along with the likes of Aphex Twin, LFO and Squarepusher, Boards of Canada have helped to define how we see electronic music today, and Hi Scores is arguably their most complete when it comes to the dancefloor. The title track is a twisted, floaty bundle of breaks and beats, but it doesn't end there. Tracks like "Nlogax" are inherently Detroitian in nature thanks to the bleepy drum machines; all we can say is that if you haven't gripped this album yet, you shouldn't miss the opportunity to cop it now.
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New to Sahko and releasing in general, Finnish band Modern Feelings are here to send your head spinning in a whirlwind of free jazz and noise. Their debut album was purportedly recorded along to an inspirational soundtrack of muzak, giving rise to this polar opposite melee of tumbledown drums, strangled guitars and every other possible sound source that can be thrown in the arrhythmic blender. Within this chaos comes a delicacy and dexterity that may be applied to each individual player on their own insular journey rather than the band as a cohesive whole, but somewhere in the mix something magic is created. With the noisier elements moving away from the band dynamic to a more electronic focus and then moving back to a more grounded instrumental foundation, there is quite a range of frequencies expressed on Modern Feelings, but they're unified in their power to confound.
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Ambient-drone legend Fennesz has been a pioneer in the science of sound for many years, and London's Touch has been responsible for releasing arguably his best and most important work to date. For its latest release, Touch has reissued the inimitable Venice as a 10th anniversary edition, and the album still sounds as fresh today as it did 10 years ago. It's ambient, for sure, but of a certain variety and quality. Filled with organic sounds and field recordings, tracks like "Rivers Of Sand" have become the blueprint for much of the work made in the same genre today, tailor-made for fans of Oneohtrix Point Never and a lot of the output on Bill Kouligas' PAN label. Unmissable.
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Girlhood is an acclaimed new French movie about a disillusioned young girl who joins a female gang in order to escape her dead end life. To add to the drama French electronic producer Para One has been drafted in to score the flick. It's a richly rewarding 10-track listen that fully complements the film's highs and lows: from the sweeping synth emotion of beatless opener "Neon" to the glass chime whimsy of closer "Girlhoood (reprise)", taking in the otherworldly synthpop of "Slow Down" along the way.
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In what's being described as a year of rebirth for Peder Mannerfelt, the Swedish synth specialist has put his previous work as half of Roll The Dice and his housier inclinations under the The Subliminal Kid alias to one side to focus on a new avant-garde solo career. Collected here digitally are the first two releases on his Peder Mannerfelt Produktion label, which see the Swede experiment with sonics in a manner that will appeal to fans of Mike Parker, Emptyset and Donato Dozzy, delving into a world of humming signal paths and discombobulated synth patterns, with emphasis toward sound sculpture over traditional rhythmic groove.
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Having first appeared on Phantasy Sound as part of BTU last year, the somewhat mysterious U makes his solo bow for Erol Alkan's label with the Heaven In A Heartfelt World EP. Previous releases from U on Man Make Music have shown the producer is capable of aligning the dancefloor and home listening worlds, an approach he also adopts here. There are shades of Boards Of Canada or patten to crunchy IDM opener "The Kids Will Take Care Of Themselves", whilst the minimal plink of "Monogamy" feels set deep in degraded tape. There are two further exercises in rueful sonics in the shape of "Shame" and "Pilgrimage", leaving you with a lasting feeling the rumoured major label LP deal for U will result in some interesting listening.
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Comprised of two brothers who worked on their music in relative solitude, Woo is one of those cult offerings in the unclassifiable junction between all kinds of music that Emotional Rescue thrives on reissuing. There is a very sweet natured soul murmuring away at the core of this remastered LP, but never does it feel saccharine (thanks no doubt to the resoundingly lo-fi nature of the production). With its dreamlike repetitive mantras and more fleeting, fluttering elements, there is something quite beguiling and meditative about the sound of Woo, whether in their more tangible acoustic guitar moments or their most light and airy synth jams, but what comes through the most is the overwhelming romance of the music.
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Finally Torn Hawk (aka Luke Wyatt) provides us with a digital release of his second full-length for Valcrond Video. While the attention to detail, and particularly melody, that marked out early L.I.E.S. release Tarifa is present, it's masked in all manner of curious, clandestine effects, industrial rhythms and mutant noise. At times, 10 For Edge Tek comes on like a latter-day Steve Reich with drum machines and effects units; at others, it's more akin to early '80s noise albums or droning techno. Such wild swings and leftfield intent makes for a fascinating listen.
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In a glorious celebration of sour-faced, distinctly British punk poetry, Ekoplekz and Mordant Music get together once again for this short album of abrasive dub pulses and stream of consciousness wordplay. It's a potent combination that certainly has its roots in the dark side incantations of live Throbbing Gristle, albeit made richer with Ekoplekz's masterful arsenal of otherworldly squelches and splats. If anything his production gets channelled into a more focused structure when it has the words to work with, and it's no bad thing. Lyrically Mordant Music hits straight to the point, picking out contemporary references and drenching them in modern malaise in a tone fit for these sinister times.
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It's safe to say that German imprint Shitkatapult can now be classed as a pillar of modern techno music. Over the years, Shitkatapult artists such as Apparat and Cristian Vogel have been very important for the development of dance music and the label has always managed to reinvent themselves. This time, it's the third edition of its Werkschau compilation, and it features some of the hottest names in the game, as well as some of the darker sonics currently being made. Inside, you'll find the likes of TTT and Killekill's Eomac, Phon.O and of course, all the label's regular stars. Ace.
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The sublime Important imprint has done it again here with another blast from the undiscovered past. Zurich was a test project by various different artists during the '80s and '90s, including a member of Warp act Seefeel. As you'd expect, there's a little bit of everything in here as far as styles and influences go, but it's all pretty cutting-edge nevertheless. Tracks like "Tzarist" or "Odessa" sound fresher than ever, recalling the sounds of luminaries such as AFX or Autechre, to name a few. Unmissable stuff.
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As 2014 has rolled on, Powell's Diagonal label has really gathered a sense of momentum and direction with its succession of releases. With the Juno office stereo still in recovery from the most excellent Shit & Shine LP Powder Horn, this new double pronged noise sermon from the masterful Russell Haswell only adds to their impressive year. Comprised of two 10-minute tracks, Double A is at times as bracing as anything else from the Haswell canon, with the scratched, spasmodic improvised sonics of lead track "Foxy" potentially capable of scaring Richard D James back into hiding. "One Take Dub No Edit" is described by Diagonal as a "flashback to a vital time when futurist Latin freestyle and industrial funk were the dancer's choice" and is perhaps the closest concession to the dancefloor from Haswell yet.
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Greece's George Issakidis returns to the inimitable Kill The DJ imprint with a second EP of wavy electronics and silky digital beats. The title track "Cherry Red" is a proper groover, where the glitchy percussion sits tighly next to one hell of a bassline, reminding us of dBridge's more recent 4/4 output. There's a few remixes inside, too, where It's A Fine Line transforms the title track into a bleepy, Kraftwerk-inspired number, while Dzir retains the humongous bass conjured by Issakidis albeit for a noticeably deeper turn in the beats and percussion. Brilliant stuff - don't miss it.
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Comprised of spare material from his recent Human Voice long player, Dntel offers a few more gems of emotive electro up to Leaving Records for a cassette and digital release that should fill his fans boots comfortably. "Enid" comes on in warm swathes with its gently pitch-bending synth lines and relaxed funk, while "Unease" inhabits a more hectic albeit beatless space made up of darting and whirring arpeggios moving at a peppy pace. There's more angular house styles at work on "Boredom" as it moves from paranoid rubber tone squeal to smooth pad and back again, and there's even something approaching footwork in the snagging groove of "Pepper Shake", proving that Dntel can nail a whole spread of styles and make them his own.
Exclusives
VARIOUS - Werkschau03 (Shitkatapult)
TORN HAWK - 10 For Edge Tek (Valcrond Video US)
U - Haven In A Heartfelt World (Phantasy Sound)