Reviewed this week
Although winding down their Welcome To Paradise series of Italian dream house compilations, Young Marco and A Good Christian continue to release some sublime music on Safe Trip, with the return of Darling and his fourth release on the imprint. This time around though it's a full length effort in the form of Tulipa Moves, featuring a collection of sublime moments and the deepest strains of electronica. It has a celestial/new-age aesthetic all throughout, a trademark carried on from his previous efforts for the label - that sits somewhere between The Abstract Eye's downbeat techno experiments or the aquatic bliss of Move D & Benjamin Brunn's Songs From The Beehive. You will note that the tracks utilise a variety of rhythmic patterns and percussive elements, exploring a range of unearthly but attractive sounds and are capable of stirring different emotions in human listeners.
Since the release of Jon Hassell's last album in 2009, there's been an upsurge in interest in the "Fourth World" style he pioneered alongside Brian Eno way back in 1980. It seems rather fitting, then, that the 81 year-old trumpeter turned experimentalist has returned to show the pretenders how it should be done. Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume 1) is every bit as alluring as you'd expect, with Hassell delivering thrilling new soundscapes that pull the Fourth World template (think combinations of American minimalism, ethnic styles from around the world, advanced electronics and manipulated trumpet sounds) in a variety of directions. It's in turns trippy, hypnotic, beautiful, poignant and otherworldly, with each ambient composition being accompanied by another where Hassell draws influence from contemporary IDM or drowsy experimental jazz.
Montr?al's Fill Spectre inaugurates the Glome Sound label with this slap-up bass excursion, offering us 8 killer bass experiments, each one of them rich in hybrid tendencies and explorative aesthetics. The opening "Distanced", for instance, is techno, bass and electro all at once, while "Save Me From Myself" manages to blend spoken word with industrialist drones, and "Faces Phasing" takes the two-step, off-kilter stutter to new and enticing avenues of sound. In truth, this is forward-thinking bass music that stretches previous notions of dubstep way out into an beautifully unknown territory. Don't sleep on this!
Kate Shilosonova, otherwise known as Kate NV, is breaking through the mould as we speak. Her opening releases have been a revelation, particularly her debut LP for Orange Milk, a lovely synth-wave deviation called Binasu. She returns this week with her follow-up LP, FOR, which we had a preview EP for not too long ago. The vibe and aesthetic are more improvisational here, relying less on known formulas or tactics and, instead, allowing freedom and experimentation to enter her domain. In fact, there isn't much that is predictable about this album; the only way we can describe it is 'tropical', offering gentle waves of euphoria at every turn. Imagine the rainforest in the future, or in hyperspace, and you're one step closer to appreciating Kate NV's vision of rhythm.
Following up some great releases by Pye Corner Audio and Dalhous, next up on Barcelona's Lapsus is local hero Pedro Pina: who has been a key figure in the Spanish electronic underground since the late '90s. The prolific producer has not released on LP format since 2015, and together with "Onda Corta" and "Hum" (both released on Lapsus) this formed his successful and inimitable sound trilogy. From the rabid/bass heavy bounce of "Rassien", the haunting Samuel Kerridge style industrialism of "Krach" (featuring Cora Novoa) or the half-time grey area experiment of "Schall" which calls to mind the street levels sounds as heard on dBridge's Exit Records.
VARG project continues to grow and expand the techno spectrum, coming through with the fifth and final chapter of the Nordic Flora series, out through his own Posh Isolation stable. The producer is no stranger to an album, with this one making it almost two dozen LPs to date and, as per usual, there are all sorts of syles and influences in here, ranging from the utterly vast and beatless, to more dance-minded structures that blend the boundaries between techno and drone. CRUSH is a melting pot of sounds, constantly shifting and pushing the boundaries of what we categorize as 'dance' music, and it seems like our good friend VARG has found the right formula to make this cocktail a lasting and memorable one. In fact, we'd be stuck to find any other album which manages to fade two opposite worlds together - the world of peace and the world of war. It's another killer Varg outing here. Recommended.
Shadowy producer Prequel Tapes returns to the core of his unique sound, inaugurating his new Gaffa Tape label with two new works of modern industrial composition. He stated that after years of producing music, it was some old DAT recordings from his youth that were the impetus to kick start the imprint. Listening to those recordings was like a journey back into his past. Understanding these recordings was to realise why he does what he does. His new EP is his most intense yet- this is the first in a series of releases/performances for the German artist, which were mixed down by Time To Express' Peter Van Hoesen. From the pitch-black factory floor aesthetics of "Core" (Black) to the brooding darkwave thriller "Two Moons" which is a truly haunting excursion via drone frequencies.