With a live set that inspires feverish responses from any lucky enough to witness them, Donato Dozzy and Neel’s collaborative project is a celebration of everything the techno experience should be. Best heard on a loud soundsystem, constantly searching and surging forwards and avoiding staid rhythms, there’s an undeniable spiritual quality at work on anything the pair have turned their hands to, with their recorded offerings making a neat precursor to the chance to have them rain down upon you over a PA.
Although there are plenty of people who will tell you that jungle never really went anywhere, nobody could deny that the amount of critical attention paid to producers like Special Request, Tessela, Mumdance and Mark Pritchard last year for the way in which they seemed to take inspiration from the genre to create new musical forms. However, its did seem somewhat revisionist that most of the discourse around this hybrid sound seemed to forget that the likes of T++, Dave Huismans and Modern Love duo Andy Stott & Miles Whittaker’s Millie & Andrea project had been doing something similar several years before.
Given Tobias Freund’s post-production work on Function’s debut album last year, it is natural that listeners might draw comparisons between that release and the German artist’s own new album. Such perspectives are not lazily arrived at, and at its outset A Series of Shocks practically invites such comparisons. The album starts with the dreamy, textured ambience of “Entire” and the gentle hisses and ticks of the unobtrusive groove of “Heartbeat”, both of which suggest that there is some overlap in the 90s ambient techno sources that shape both releases.
Those beloved miscreants at Power Vacuum are never ones to take the soft approach, leaving them carving out a roughshod space as frontrunners in the field of amped, distorted and unhinged techno abandon. Considering the competition in these times, that’s no mean feat. After a series of stellar artist EPs and the double pack from Bintus, it’s time for the label to widen the net and invite some other guests in to play. After all, the style of the label screams tear-out fun to anyone listening, let alone an artist looking to let off some studio steam.
Last year’s Into The Light compilation, the first release on Ilias Pitsios and Tako Reyenga’s label of the same name, did a terrific job in highlighting the little-known world of early Greek electronic music. Featuring artists whose careers invariably stalled before they got started, or at least made little impact outside of Greece, the compilation featured all manner of oddball electronic treats, with prog rock, ambient, new age, disco and synth-pop being twisted into intriguing new shapes. One of the more notable artists to feature on that collection was Vangelis Katsoulis, a composer/producer whose 1980s work – a melodic blend of new age melodies and ambient soundscapes with distinct jazz and soundtrack influences – is held in high regard by crate-diggers.
Is autumn the most beautiful season? Phillip Sollmann seems to think so, and his third album Decay focuses on the slide from summer into the later half of the year. It’s no lazy conceptual ploy; Sollmann started work on the project during an artistic residency in Japan and finished the tracks back in Berlin as the leaves turned brown on the trees.
For listeners of a certain age, there’s nothing particularly new about the stargazing, psychedelic techno antics of West Country man-of-mystery A Sagittariun (a pseudonym for a 40-something house producer whose identity is an open secret in his home city of Bristol). His style – all thickset techno rhythms, tight breakbeats, dreamy chords and intergalactic electronics – offers a thrilling blast from the past for anyone who lived through the “intelligent techno” boom of the early ‘90s. Think Megadog parties, chill out rooms, Day-Glo drapes, tie-dye t-shirts, astrological wall charts and car loads of frazzled crusties heading to illicit raves in Somerset fields.
In some ways it’s easy to overlook just how much Ed Upton has contributed to the furthering of electro in his time as a producer. Since emerging in 1996 when the likes of Drexciya were still positively active, the man has been on an unstoppable quest to keep machine funk alive in the hearts and souls of b-boys and girls everywhere. His label Breakin’ Records has been a reliable outpost for true-school continuations of the sound, while aliases such as Ed DMX and Computor Rockers have delivered varying shades of club-ready cuts rich in full-fat synths and pristine drum machine breaks.
Panoram is the epitome of a curiosity. Since first making waves with his 2012 debut 12”, the beguiling Accents on Scenario, he’s very much kept himself to himself. There have been occasional interviews and a sporadic trickle of new material on his Soundcloud profile, but little else. He cherishes his anonymity, refuses to release pictures of himself, and generally makes music that’s bafflingly hard to pigeonhole. We know this much: he’s Italian, based inRome, and once attended the Red Bull Music Academy. That’s pretty much it. He’s a man who delights in flying under the radar, occasionally releasing music that impresses with its simple beauty and impressive inventiveness.
Using the tagline “nautically inclined” for your SoundCloud profile may dredge up all-too-recent memories of sea punk, but fortunately Lumigraph’s music doesn’t rely on twittering dolphin sounds or sea foam blue hair dye to leave an impression. Instead, the term might apply more accurately to his geographical preferences: Scroll through his tumblr and you’ll see vistas and wide-open spaces overlooking bodies of water: Shots of tourist-filled Montauk Point, photos taken out the window of airplanes, the glimmer of sunlight reflecting off the surface of swimming pools. That same nautical influence was very traceable in recent EP for Mister Saturday Night, which walked the line between breezy house on “Yacht Cruiser” and the claustrophobic improvisational crunch of “Playing My Numbers”.
Artist trajectories can be a curious thing to observe, often sorting the wheat from the chaff between those with a sonic identity in constant development and those suffering knee jerk reactions to trends and hype. Nick Edwards certainly exists in the former camp, and his latest album as Ekoplekz is a fine case in point. The signs were already there with the likes of his Plekzationz LP on Editions Mego, which saw his grimy nightmare-dub calling card peppered with occasional blasts of light (read: melodic tones). Still though, the focus was on atonal pulses, echoes and reverbs of a distinctly obtuse nature, as has been his artistic raison d’etre since the word go.
As the wall of cassette tapes grows on my desk, teetering in ever more haphazard fashion, the feeling that some of the music contained within them would benefit from a wider release swells too. Repeat listens to Lily’s Modern Malaise tape for No Corner or Luke Wyatt’s new automotive project Infiniti on 1080p lead the mind to wander how great it would be to brandish this music on wax. It’s not been made clear why Diagonal boss men Oscar Powell and Jaime Williams have decided to reissue a Streetwalker track from a 2011 Catholic Tapes cassette, but it’s tempting to visualise the mental dots aligning as the spools on their copy of Ooze wore themselves ever closer to all out degradation.
If the press release which accompanies Owen Darby’s debut album for Keysound is to be believed, then Signals gets its name from the producer’s use of vocal samples in the album, each of which is a “signal” in its own right, a “node in a spacious neural network; bursting into the moment only to swiftly retreat.” “Power, locale, identity, intent, inequality, sexuality, gender, diversity, energy” are all supposedly encoded into these transmissions, which, in being sampled from London slang and live pirate radio see the album fitting quite neatly into contemporary bass music’s current fascination for all things nostalgic.
First known for her role in the pioneering post-punk band Young Marble Giants, Alison Statton continued making music after the group dismantled, operating under the name Weekend. Teaming up with Spike Williams of Z Block Records and Reptile Ranch, as well as Simon Booth (later of Working Week) they signed to Rough Trade in 1981 and released one studio album, called La Variete, along with three EPs. Later discovered in the mid-90s, a collection of demos revisiting Weekend’s early days appeared on The ’81 Demos, a 1995 CD release by the Vinyl Japan label, while also emerging as bonus material in the 1992 Cherry Red reissue album of La Variete. The ’81 Demos now form the latest focus in Blackest Ever Black’s occasional dalliance with archival matters and offer Weekend listeners the first vinyl edition of these early recorded works. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most entertaining aspects of the Blacknecks project was the fact that its perpetrators convinced some people that they had worked as garage producers back in the day. It’s exactly the kind of narrative that would wash with sections of the music media – former doyens of glitzy clubs rehabilitated as an industrial techno act – so kudos to Truss and Bleaching Agent for keeping the backstory alive for as long as possible.
Italian-in-London Alessio Natalizia has already proven himself to be something of a master when it comes to creating evocative, off-kilter music that joins the dots between fuzzy analogue electronica, krautrock, dreamy ambience and droning, industrial-influenced abstract sonics. He’s perhaps best known for making up half of Kompakt regulars Walls, whose dreamy, shoegaze-influenced voyages into sound benefit greatly from his ear for layered guitar textures, pastoral sounds and hypnotic, pulsating rhythms.
The Swedish techno onslaught continues unabated as Kontra Musik dig up another slab of essential peak-time fodder from Rivet to blow away the fogginess of a new year. The emergence of Mika Hallbäck has been a measured one, with just a handful of appearances on Skudge, Kontra and Naked Index since 2011 suggesting an artist taking time to issue out just the right material, rather than the tidal onslaught that can befall some emergent musicians in these times. There is a sense listening to Hallbäck’s music that care has been taken to pick the most distinctive tracks, to work as much character into each element, to mould a sound that pricks the ears and delights the mind.
Like Peter Van Hoesen, his collaborator in the Sendai project, Yves De Mey follows an unconventional artistic path. Both producers trace their roots back to the art/experimental scene of Brussels. While Van Hoesen went on to gain recognition on techno dancefloors with bass-heavy warehouse tracks on his Time To Express label as well as for a number of other European imprints, most recently Tresor, before reverting temporarily to abstract compositon, De Mey decided to follow a more singular path. Arguably, this may have been a less rewarding approach in the short term, but it has yielded releases on Sandwell District, Opal Tapes and now Semantica. Read the rest of this entry »
I stumbled on my first Golf Channel Record years ago in a tiny, humid 3rd floor Osaka record shop. I was making awkward small talk with the owner in my best half-assed Japanese when I found a copy of M.E’s “R&B Drunkie” – a white, unadorned sleeve with their instantly recognizable mountaintop logo peeking out. The memory of finding that record stays with me, and not only because I still pack “R&B Drunkie” in my vinyl bag on a regular basis. Instead, it spoke to how Golf Channel manages to preserve their work in a vacuum of intrigue – not a “who-could-this-masked-DJ-possibly-be?” sense, but instead, every project takes joy in a degree of anonymity and obscurity: the joy of unearthing something unhinged from time and place.
With his affiliation to the Giegling imprint as well as his regular appearances on Oskar Offerman’s White imprint, Gilles Aiken’s profile as Edward has risen noticeably in the past year after a slow and steady emergence that stretches back to 2007. His approach to 4/4 electronic music sits at an interesting intersection at certain points in thrall to the cinematic shimmer and pronounced thump of the Innervisions crew, at others reaching to avant-garde sampling and organic instrumentation to create a wild and evocative soundworld. Certainly his recent side-project Desert Sky has yielded some truly out-there material with only the faintest whisper of four-to-the-floor in favour of a rich tapestry of ethnic percussion and abstract tones.