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Neel – Phobos

by on at 09:27am

Wet rocks. Throw a handful down a dank well whose dark abyss leads to the uninhabitable cracks between earth’s tectonic plates, record it (somehow), and the results I imagine would sound like Phobos. Giuseppe Tillieci, as he’s proven, is a versed producer of modular electronics; a producer whose name continually follows Donato Dozzy’s when their Voices From The Lake collaboration is concerned. He is, however, a formidable DJ, as well as the go-to mastering engineer for Prologue, Northern Electronics and Morphine Records. And after years of self preservation from the centre stage of electronic music – as lauded as his work with Dozzy is – Spectrum Spools finally bring to light the lone talent of Neel.

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Talamanca System – Balanzat

by on at 15:38pm

It wasn’t so long ago that Mark Barrott, the man behind the International Feel label, was thinking of calling time on his much-loved, Balearic-minded imprint. In fact, around the release of the label’s third anniversary compilation in 2012, he went on record as saying that “this could be the end”. Of course, the imprint’s hiatus was short-lived. After recharging his batteries and recording a serious amount of music at his Ibiza home – he relocated from Uruguay, where he founded the label, around the same time – the former Future Loop Foundation man returned with a string of new records. There was the slow acid-meets-Berlin techno chug of the Sonic Aesthetic 12”, then his first solo album under his given name – the decidedly ambient and picturesque Sketches From An Island. At the same time, he felt confident enough to reveal what most dedicated listeners already knew: much of the label’s “mysterious” output – those hard-to-find 12” singles by EFEEL, IFEEL Studio, Rocha, Bepu ‘N’ Gali, Young Gentlemen’s Adventure Society and Panda 88 – were all his handiwork.

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Torn Hawk – Let’s Cry And Do Pushups At The Same Time

by on at 09:50am

In Native mythology, Torn Hawk (aka Luke Wyatt) might fit the archetypal “trickster” persona – the Coyote whose hunger leads him to cleverly deceive those around him, or the shape-shifting Nanabush, whose duplicity comes from a knack for survival. Wyatt has skirted around dance music’s fringes for years now in a number of morphing identities- sometimes taking the form of his “video mulch” productions for Steve Summers, or directorial collaborations with Aurora Halal & Ital. Other times, his creations extend to the verbose, drunken prose that accompanies Juno Plus mixes and interviews, as if the keyboard he’s typing from is soaked in bourbon, regret, and decades of memories.

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Vladislav Delay – Visa

by on at 16:30pm

Sasu Ripatti means different things to different people, but even for a man with a whole lot of names and friends to bounce creatively off and 15 years to set out a slightly intimidating breadth of work, there’s always been a plasticity and a connecting thread that makes each new thing sound strangely familiar. Some shared sensitivity in the way textures and composition is handled perhaps – maybe a hallmark of the oft-touted jazz percussionist training – that focuses on micro-detail and macro-beauty and tends to make even the more complex or niche turns of his hand unusually accessible. Even Ripatti’s takes on austere genres like glitch or minimal tend to exude an elegant delicacy and refinement, a sense that the music is there to challenge but not defy the listener. Quite frankly, it’s still a rare and wonderful thing.

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Shinichi Atobe – Butterfly Effect

by on at 08:55am

How many secret, forgotten techno artists can be left out there to rediscover and re-release? It’s perhaps one of the great justices of the reissue culture and information exchange that once unsung heroes are getting their dues left right and centre where once their craft lingered in obscurity or at best cult status, and there’s certainly plenty of them lurking about in dusty corners of seminal labels and far beyond. Shinichi Atobe is one such character with one highly revered single on seminal dub techno imprint Chain Reaction from 2001, leaving a wake of fervent collectors wondering who he might be (an alias for Vainqueur seemed to be a popular theory).

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Pyramids Of Space – Pyramids Of Space

by on at 09:56am

Shrouded in the kind of mystery that has kept the electronica scene thriving with nerdy fervour since its inception, this album by Pyramids Of Space has been issued with not-a-lot-of fanfare on Mordant Music. As the noble Baron Mordant would have us believe, this is an archive recovery from a dusty vault long-since forgotten by an unspecified collective of Cornish artists. Throw into the mix that these tracks were supposedly recorded between 1992 and 1996 and pulses set racing thinking about who could be responsible, and listening to the music doesn’t help stem that flow. After all it’s fun to speculate when you can atleast think of messrs James, Vibert and Middleton knocking around the area at the time. Whatever the case, we may never know the back-story and it may never matter, because regardless the music alone is worthy of some serious shouting about.

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Various Artists – Rhythms Of The Pacific Volume 1

by on at 16:25pm

It would be foolish for an outsider sat at a desk across the Atlantic to proclaim any sort of movement happening in Vancouver right now, but it’s clear there is a certain vibrancy among the Canadian city’s underground resulting in some excellent music. Pacific Rhythm is the latest label to highlight this strain of talent, borrowing artists affiliated with both Mood Hut and 1080p for a fine debut 12” in Rhythms Of The Pacific Vol 1, the first of several planned split releases.

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Mind Fair – Mind Fair

by on at 09:22am

There’s something particularly fitting about the minute-long blast of carousel organ and fairground sound atmospherics that gently ushers in Mind Fair’s debut full length. With this aural shorthand, Ben Shenton and Dean Meredith are promising a trip to the musical funfair of your dreams. In many ways, it’s a bold objective. While the reality of travelling funfairs is fairly seedy and disappointing – dodgy rides and rigged sideshows, some flashing lights, loud music and copious amounts of candy-floss – the picture postcard fantasy remains alluring, regardless of your age. Framing an album around this unattainable funfair fantasy is a bold move, but a clever one; straight away, Shenton and Meredith have carte blanche to go in any direction they want, safe in the knowledge that they have a narrative device to draw all their disparate strands together.

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DJ Qu – Raw 7

by on at 16:00pm

There is a patience to the release of Ramon Lisandro Quezada’s music which is befitting of the sounds contained within. Rather than a dizzying salvo of fresh material charting the artistic peaks and troughs of the producer, a gentle trickle of timeless material bolsters the cohesive body of work that Qu has built his name on since first emerging some eight years ago. This is not to say he is a static artist, but rather one that seems unmovable against the whims and trends of contemporary house music as he pursues his own singular, otherworldly vision.

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Various Artists – Down To The Sea & Back Volume 2

by on at 09:25am

Emblazed on the sleeve artwork of Balearic Mike and Kelvin Andrews second Down To The Sea & Back Volume compilation is the subtitle The Continuing Story of the Balearic Beat. While this may not mean much to most, it’s a reference – presumably willing, given the two DJs’ veteran status – to a release that effectively introduced the Balearic musical ideal to a wider audience. 1988’s Balearic Beats Volume 1 remains a landmark collection. Put together by Pete Tong, Paul Oakenfold and Trevor Fung, it was primarily made up of tracks that rocked the Shoom parties in London, and before that DJ Alfredo’s various residencies in Ibiza. It was the first serious attempt to define what could be considered “Balearic” – a ragtag, anything-goes hotchpotch of baggy house, loved-up pop, humid electronics, forgotten Italo-disco, throbbing EBM bangers, the Woodentops and Mandy Smith.

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The Durian Brothers – Das Macht Modern

by on at 09:05am

It’s no bad thing when an artist or group has a little more to their creative manifesto than, ‘I just make stuff that sounds cool to me’. No-one gets off on the sound of anyone getting overly pretentious about their own work (perhaps apart from those guilty of it), but a little concept can set interesting boundaries for the music-making process to push up against, whatever the idea might be. In the case of The Durian Brothers, a trio of Düsseldorf artists who are not in fact related, their hook is customized, prepared turntables used as instruments.

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Geena – On The Top Of A Deep Hearted Fern

by on at 15:46pm

There’s a lot to admire about Quentin Vandewalle’s Antinote label, not least his steadfast refusal to pander to DJs. That’s not to say Antinote records can’t be played in clubs – far from it, in fact. It’s just that the majority of the label’s dancefloor successes have come from records that eschew the tried-and-tested in favour of more left-of-centre thrills, like the wonky tribal rhythms of Albinos’ bizarre but brilliant Ritual House series, or the scratchy techno experiments of Iueke’s archival Tape 12″s. These aren’t records for DJs, but rather records DJs can play: imaginative electronic music to dance to, rather than out and out “dance music”.

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Anxur – Anxur Takes Vol. 1

by on at 09:24am

Donato Dozzy’s latest project is Anxur with fellow Italian Marco Shuttle on the London-based artist’s Eerie label. Unlike Dozzy’s previous collaboration with Neel as Voices from the Lake, Anxur Takes Vol. 1, the first in a series of planned records with Shuttle, focuses squarely on the dance floor. Irrespective of what the accompanying blurb to this release had claimed about abstract influences insinuating their way into the recording process, to this listener’s ears, Dozzy and Shuttle have succeeded in delivering two distinctive but ultimately functional tracks.

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S. Olbricht – A Place Called Ballacid

by on at 12:21pm

If you take a peep at Hungarian producer Stephan Olbricht’s discography, it reveals a sizable body of work issued forth since 2010, and yet this appearance on the ever-strengthening Lobster Theremin represents the first excursion he has had on vinyl (at least under this moniker). Instead the man from Budapest has been more concerned with cassette-based releases, including a decent salvo of LPs, for the likes of Opal Tapes and his own Farbwechsel, but it was the collaborative release with Norwell for Cleaning Tapes that flew him onto the radar of this particular reviewer. There’s no escaping the fact that Olbricht’s sound is a snug fit on spools of tape, with all the dusty trappings you would expect of a contemporary lo-fi producer, but with this latest release there is a sense that some consideration has been made to nudge at least some of the music towards a more public, shared experience away from the private trappings of his usual format.

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Plant43 – Scars of Intransigence

by on at 09:29am

Arriving soon after Jo Johnson delivered her fine debut album for the Further label, another Bleep43 operative, Emile Facey, returns with a second Plant43 long player Scars of Intransigence. While Johnson’s Weaving is a subtle, ambient work, this Plant43 album is a different matter entirely. Inspired by Facey’s beliefs about the state of the world, it seeks to raise awareness among the listener about issue such as privatization, the use of fossil fuels and the imbalance between the wealthy and everyone else.

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Andras & Oscar – Café Romantica

by on at 15:12pm

There’s no doubt that Andras Fox (AKA Melbourne-based producer Andrew Wilson) is on a roll right now. This year alone, he’s treated us to a slew of sinewy, seductive releases that variously touch on new age ambience with the brilliant Overworld LP under his alternative A.R.T Wilson alias, toasty modern boogie for Omega Supreme Records and  the classic deep house influenced instrumental Balearica of the Vibrate On Silent EP for Mexican Summer. All three of these releases – and the latter in particular – make great use of vintage synthesizers and drum machines, while focusing attention on Wilson’s superb use of melody and manipulation of mood. Put simply, Wilson is become a masterful exponent of electronic melodica – the kind of melody-rich, occasionally dancefloor-friendly music that mixes Larry Heard, Sound Source, Lamont Booker, Bobby Konders and Ben Cenac influences with echoes of Balearic synth-pop, Vangelis, Gigi Masin and soft focus ‘80s soul.

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Bass Clef vs Frak – Bad Trip

by on at 09:49am

Evolution has left us with some weird junk code over the years; goosebumps which mimic the rising fur of angered animals, ears that some of us can still wiggle, and the perplexingly useless yawn. While it may not be linked directly to the continuation of the human species, being able to sense when the atmosphere in a room changes is one that, inexplicable as it may be, many of us claim to possess. Pinning down the feeling isn’t easy – ask performance artist Marina Abramovic and a local reiki practicioner, and you’ll get two very different answers what affects the energy of a space. Ask a Hardwax employee, and the word “vibes” will likely find its way into the answer.

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Skanfrom – Postcards

by on at 09:06am

To anyone unfamiliar with Roger Semsroth’s work outside of the Sleeparchive project, Skanfrom could indeed come as quite a surprise. It’s fair to say that Sleeparchive commanded its fair share of attention throughout the peak of the minimal techno era, and is still held in reverence by those carrying a torch for the more creative manifestations of the genre. Skanfrom meanwhile predates those spacious and unsettling bleeps and bloops, although the project was put on ice in 2002 following a retrospective release on Suction Records (also home to the likes of Solvent and Lowfish).

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Various Artists – Permanent Vacation 3

by on at 09:03am

Back in 2006, the launch of Benjamin Fröhlich and Tom Bioly’s Permanent Vacation label wasn’t marked with a single from a new signing, but rather a taster 12” for the imprint’s first compilation. Few labels choose to begin life with an EP of licensed material, but in many ways it made a lot of sense. What better way to outline your new label’s approach than to gather together material that sums up your musical outlook? Certainly, the Permanent Vacation 12” and the full-length CD that followed did just that, gathering together evocative Balearic, nu-disco and deep house cuts from the likes of Maurice Fulton, Kelley Polar, Ilya Santana, Manhead and Lindstrom.

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Transllusion – The Opening of the Cerebral Gate

by on at 13:23pm

I interviewed Drexciya’s James Stinson twice. The first occasion was for the release of 1999’s Neptune’s Lair, the second was ahead of the original release of The Opening of the Cerebral Gate in 2001. Both interviews are no longer available; the first was published on a website that ceased operations in 2002, the second appeared in a print magazine that suffered the same fate around the same time. Stupidly, both pieces were on a computer that gave up the ghost and was not backed up.

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