Appearances from Jitterbug come too far and few between, with just three previous releases on Uzuri reaching back to 2009, and more recently we have been treated to his collaborative work with Scott Ferguson under the JBSF moniker on Ferrispark. Now though, the first solo Jitterbug EP in two years drops on the (latterly) equally slow-burning Uzuri imprint, and it’s brimming with six red-blooded cuts that cram all manner of different ideas onto two sides of vinyl.
The release schedule of French producer Lauren Prot reminds this reviewer of being reliant on the public bus transport system – you for wait for years for one to arrive and then they all come along at once. Since Veronica Vasicka’s Minimal Wave label put out its first In Aeternam Vale release back in 2009, the Lyon-based artist has been at his busiest since his mid-80s to mid-90s tape release activity. So is it time again for Aeternam Vale’s music or is Prot’s work music of this time? Certainly, with a renewed focus on anything with even a whiff of an industrial or wave undercurrent, it should feel like this latest record, Prot’s debut on the post-Sandwell District concern Jealous God, represents an alignment of the stars.
Despite the quality of the material they’ve released, Dean Meredith and Ben Shenton’s Mind Fair project has always been a little puzzling. While there are constant threads in their work – a love of live instrumentation, warm but sparse mix-downs and notable nods to dub disco, Baelarica and folksy psychedelia, for example – they have so far steadfastly refused to stick to one style. It’s almost as if they’ve yet to settle on one groove, or have far too many ideas than they know what to do with. Certainly, their shared inspirations are manifold, and to date they’ve dabbled in most of them.
Working as The Exaltics, Robert Witschakowski may be just as prolific as some of his peers, but he doesn’t make the common mistake of releasing records that all sound the same. To highlight this point, the German producer’s latest release and debut for Shipwrec bears little relation to the brooding electro of his recent record for Clone West Coast Series. In fact, with the exception of some of the material that appears on Perc Trax or Power Vacuum, Twelve is unlike anything else being released at the moment. Inspired by the hard acid of Woody McBride and his Communique label and the sewer techno stomp of Bunker, Twelve is a nasty, distorted release that constantly threatens to spiral out of control.
Is it possible to truly be depressed in Los Angeles? Sure, there’s the agonizing traffic, omnipresent smog, and smoothies with baffling $14 price tags, but traditionally, it’s a city that gets portrayed as a slacker’s paradise – days spent surfing and getting stoned, nights spent hiccuping down the boulevards shaded by palm trees. This wasn’t true for Brighton-born, half Egyptian, half Scottish producer Kutmah, who had his door randomly kicked in several years ago by armed federal agents, and imprisoned him for two months on immigration-related charges.
The concept of hype in electronic music seems particularly skewed right now, a burden that labels and artists have to carry that is generally generated, measured and dissected by others; be it general shifts in online editorial coverage, views on YouTube or hiked up prices on Discogs. In the case of Mood Hut, this seems especially true with claims of ‘hype’ out of sync with their low key approach; when was the last Q&A you read with Aquarian Foundation or the last monotonous list dripping with the bitter taste of content from the Hashman Deejay used as a means to promote an upcoming release?
Deborah Eisenberg’s short story Twilight of the Superheroes gives us a glimpse into the life of Passivity Man, the world’s most passive aggressive superhero. He sleeps when he’s stressed, chain-smokes constantly, and sports the dismal catch phrase “but, like, what am I supposed to do about it?” as if it means something. Eisenberg is trying to show that it’s much harder to believe in superheroes in a world riddled by inequality, terrorism, Ebola and suffering, and her writing seems like an oddly apt descriptor of Talaboman, who sounds like a cape-sporting vigilante in name only. Instead of providing humanity with something to believe in, the duo of Axel Boman and John Talabot are much more concerned with lurking in the shadows of dingy dancefloors worldwide; mixing a prickly dystopian discomfort with unexpected adrenaline-inducing moments of energy. If the duo were a superhero, it’s much more likely that they’d be some scraggly, unshaven incarnation of Doctor Strange than a do-gooder like Spiderman.
One of the chief joys of a TTT release is that the reputation and ‘avant’ status hovering as a marker above the label often infers that the producer involved – even highly-esteemed or established ones – will be presenting a slightly different aspect of themselves. Take Anthony Naples; often included within a set of contemporary producers marketed for their roughened and experimental edge, it wasn’t until El Portal for Will Bankhead’s label last year that the tendency first started to actually show.
If there’s one thing that London’s House of Trax parties have nailed since their inception, it’s the deceptively hard task of making a good flyer. Utilizing rough-edged aesthetics from late ’80s Brooklyn house label art and borrowing images from Robert Crumb and Keith Haring, their art thrums with a vibrant secrecy - much in the same way that finding out the local Vietnamese dance studio in your city actually doubles as an after hour club gives a certain thrill. It’s a party whose imagery is familiar enough to be recognizable, while simultaneously promising you something that you haven’t experienced before - It’s the same feeling one gets when flipping through a used crate of records to find a white label adorned only by weird marker scrawls or a fading handstamp.
Glance at the cover of Glasgowian newcomer Inkke’s first EP on Local Action Records, and you may be struck by a bit of deja vu – after all, the image of a crumbling subway station taken over by nature moss and grass certainly owes a lot stylistically to London’s Night Slugs crew, who’ve often made the contrast between brutalist architecture and uncontrollable organic growth the focus of their aesthetic work (see the eerie trailer for L-Vis 1990′s Ballads EP featuring a city block submerged in water, or the sectioned-off wilderness of the “Melba’s Call” video).
It’s always dangerous to assess the quality of a label on the basis of a handful of releases, but so Lobster Theremin hasn’t put a foot wrong since launching last year with Palm Trax’s brilliant Equation EP. Indeed, you could say Lobster Theremin has established itself as a must-check imprint not afraid to shake things up at every opportunity. In the last 18 months, the label has various delivered murky, acid-flecked techno from Snow Bone, the hazy, sub-aquatic deepness of Steve Murphy’s largely overlooked Relax EP, humid, new age-influenced goodness via Route 8 and wonky, bass-heavy, pitched-down Detroit techno from Crisis Urbana’s Rawaat.
Beau Wanzer goes back to Traxx’s Nation imprint for his latest 10″ Power Outage. The Chicago native has stayed loyal to the Nation cause since his appearance on the 2008 Modern Electronic Element EP, gracing various follow up releases, as well as developing the Mutant Beat Dance project with Traxx. Power Outage is a release that offers the same kind of hefty analog rhythms and mechanical precision that might be expected from Wanzer, but this time with a more experimental edge than some of his (equally excellent) dance-ready cuts on L.I.E.S. and Russian Torrent Versions as well as his Streetwalker project.
In the early days of digital downloading, some net labels used to release vinyl versions of tracks that were popular online. While the same approach does not apply to Avian’s re-release of Auto Body – originally available as a limited cassette edition of 42 copies on Hospital Productions – it does nonetheless raise the question about whether increasing numbers of cassette-based releases will eventually make it onto wax.
When Italian trio One Circle first appeared on left_blank last year with Flight To Forever, it was difficult to know where to place their music. Brandishing an experimental sound somewhere between abstract dubstep and melodic Border Community-style techno, the trio’s hard-edged yet woozy sound could perhaps be best loosely described as “trance”, something that makes sense in relation to the respective solo projects of its members. Lorenzo Senni for example made an album of “deconstructed trance” for Editions Mego, Vaghe Stelle is becoming increasingly known for his lysergic high definition melodies, while soundtrack composer A:RA arguably added a touch of baroque atmosphere to their sound.
With the usual lack of fanfare that accompanies Shackleton’s missives on his own Woe To The Septic Heart! imprint, here a new series is birthed with no specific outline of theme or concept, other than the title Deliverance. Whether it conjures up some kind of spiritual salvation or an ill-fated back-country expedition is entirely in the mind of the beholder, and there’s no doubt the man at the controls would prefer to keep it that way. Instead, we’re left to draw conclusions based on nothing but the music, and as ever the musical evolution of one of dubstep’s true auteurs finds him progressing gracefully, following the thread set out by the Drawbar Organ EPs and this year’s previous Freezing Opening Thawing while avoiding the trap of repeating the same trick twice.
Void Vision appeared from the murky filigree of 2010 in which we kept getting great records from the States and wondered what on earth was happening over the Atlantic. You may even recall an article in the Guardian (!) attempting to figure out some sort of socio-cultural background to what appeared to be a New York-based revival of an extremely European death-drive. At the time Void Vision were just another duo from the Wierd scene. They released In Twenty Years on Blind Prophet – a strong, nightmarish tune – and disappeared back into the darkness they came from. After a forgettable split with Vice Device last year, it seems Void Vision – now a solo female artist, and swept up by the more muscular ways of Mannequin Records – might finally have her time.
What must it be like working at Hard Wax? Do records suddenly materialise on the shelves like something out of a Harry Potter movie? It seems so. Last week there were four, Shackleton’s Deliverance Series No. 1 and three Hidden Hawaii 12”s, all appearing out of thin air. It’s spectral releases like these that refreshingly give fans and followers the contingency to draw interest to the music, not PR campaigns or the media. Samurai Music head Presha is one such example, expressing on Twitter how much he loves the way Hidden Hawaii releases “just pop up out of nowhere,”.
“Fusion” is a word that draws grimaces when used in conjunction with food, jazz, or yoga, but if there ever was an acceptable use of the phrase, it might be applicable to Mangiami. Translating quite simply to “eat me”, Gianfranco Costa’s Lower East Side venue combined guest appearances from folks like Horse Meat Disco, Justin Vandervolgen and Bicep, all while serving artisanal and affordable pasta over the six-year course of its existence.
The ‘Detroit-Berlin alliance’ was a term used in the title of an early ’90s Tresor compilation to describe the connection between the two cities’ techno communities. Arguably, the same term could be applied to London due mainly to Lost’s nights and labels. Steve Bicknell and Sheree Rashit were booking Detroit DJs like Jeff Mills and Robert Hood from the early ’90s onwards for their parties. In a metropolis where every few months heralds the arrival of a new micro-genre, it’s impressive that Lost has remained a go-to event for electronic music artists from Detroit and Chicago for the best part of a quarter of a century.
Todd Osborn is a versatile producer. While some of his fans know him for his drum’n’bass releases as Soundmurderer, he has also carved out a distinctive path as a house producer. In some instances, as Osborne, that voice is positioned in the direction of Chicago-style box jams – witness Bout Ready to Jak – or the eternal, infectious summer grooves of the Ruling EP (one of this writer’s favourite modern house records). For his return to Gerd Janson’s Running Back label, Todd reverts to his given name and puts his focus on sparse and basic rhythms.