Tell Me Who Like That (Bedside Manner) - (6:45) 130 BPM
Review: With many listeners still coming to terms with the rush of his Theta Wave Brain Sync long player on Deepblak, Eric Douglas Porter is back with more outer-space wares built to make you question everything you thought you knew about cosmic electronic music. Circuitous has some moments of tender beauty and some moments of fiery experimentalism, but it never stops being thrilling, shocking and captivating. With the spirit of free jazz, the convention-less beats of the Brainfeeder posse and an irrepressible delivery that is all his own, Afrikan Sciences has excelled even his high standards on Circuitous.
Review: It seems whenever you look at it we are always waiting for a Beatrice Dillon LP. Over the years she's built a discography around labels like Where To Know?, Boomkat Editions and Hessle Audio, with other intriguing works coming through Kassem Mosse's Ominira, The Trilogy Tapes and most recently, in album form (2016), a collaborative album with Rupert Clervaux for Paralaxe Editions. It somehow makes sense then that PAN are the ones to release the British artist's most singular and definitive work yet, pulling together her penchant for syncopated and disjointed drums to meet and fill the gaps between tensions and releases of sound and dynamic that reference all matter of contemporary and avant garde compositions and production techniques, with Dillon still treading that precarious line between abstract club music, experimental sound art and conceptual sound design.
Review: As one of the world's more renowned mastering engineers at Dubplates & Mastering in Berlin, Rashad Becker is making that rare leap from post-production back down the signal chain to deliver this long player for PAN. It's an apt destination for the sounds contained within, as Becker twists and contorts a satisfying spread of noises from the ominous to the humourous, wielding a fearsome grasp of sound design and achieving a staggering depth of detail in the lurid netherworld his music creates. There's musicality locked into the fluttering pitches of his devices, whether they might be real world instruments mutated via digital means, or 1s and 0s kneaded into organic matter. Either way Becker's take on noise will grab you by the ears and drag you down into the audible mulch with glee.
Review: With his star in rapid ascent what with releases on Keysound and Tectonic, Beneath broadens his remit from the more funky-influenced material of the last few years to doff a cap to his home town of Sheffield. "Bored 2" definitely sports some of the clanging experimentation of the bleep-era Warp releases, albeit shot through with the sophistication of modern production. "Occupy" may move with slithering steppers rhythms, but there's still a bit of LFO heft to the square wave bassline, while "One Blings" has a curious sideline in micro house with the catchy melodic twirls that hop around in the more typically bleak surroundings of a Beneath production.
Review: Tapping into the more techno-minded of PAN's output, this new collaboration sees Golden Pudel residents F#x and Helena Hauff knocking heads for two tracks of grainy, thudding analogue business that stay true to the label's left-leaning reputation. "Prototype" is undeniable in its sense of purpose, with a measured but insistent Italo bassline buried under a grind of decaying synth filed into a catchy melodic refrain that at once strains at the leash as it falls in line with the unflinching kick. "N313P" is more startling in its layers of bright melody, still spluttering through imprecise processing but coming off equally tough and effervescent after the fact.
Review: The notion of a second record from Black Sites on PAN was first mooted by the Berlin label back in January and finally arrives to sign off another year of fine releases overseen by Bill Kouligas. As Black Sites, the Golden Pudel pairing of Helena Hauff and F#X has exhibited an auspicious talent for delivering mucky, freeform dancefloor beaters that tend to stretch past the ten minute mark in just a few releases. Title track "Unit 2669" certainly continues in this fashion, ripping through almost 12 minutes of grotty industrial strength 303 action, but "MOCKBA" hints that Hauff and F#X have other cards up their collective sleeves. Here the pair dip into the kind of abstract electronics you'd find on a Container record. A great way to sign off 2014 for PAN.
Review: Bill Kouligas' always unpredictable PAN imprint brings forth some cutting edge experimental electronics once again in the form of Erik Wiegand aka Errorsmith. Solo artist, a member of MMM and half of Smith 'n Hack in addition to producing some amazing musical software for Native Instruments. Superlative Fatigue is his first album in 13 years and reflects this tension between over-the-top/hysterical emotions, against more deeply felt expressions of realness. Wiegand has stated that it is a rather accessible and cheerful collection of tracks, compared to his usual work; going from 'ridiculously cheerful' but sincere and emotional all the same. From the broken, tongue in-cheek party techno of "I'm Interesting, Cheerful & Sociable" to the blunted and computerised hip-hop of "Retired Low-Level Internal Server" or the downright indescribable weirdness of "Internet Of Screws" it's all in all a pretty compelling listen.
Review: When two producers at the edges of house and electronica like Fell and Erik 'Errorsmith' Wiegand get together, it is no surprise that the results sound out of this world. The only reference point is Workshop's roster, but Protogravity is situated at the very fringes of that sound. The title track is pieced together from tinny, hollowed out drums and fragmented, spliced vocals. In a similar vein is "Atomic 80", with its dark, drum-led rhythm and subtle samples. However, neither track can compare to "Cuica Digitales". Underpinned by tinkling bells, its chanting vocal sample is more hypnotic than a vat-load of peyote.
Review: Lee Gamble's Diversions 1994-1996 saw the producer construct an immersive sonic landscape from an old jungle mixtape; its ambient, largely beatless compositions a world apart from the leftfield techno contained in his swift follow up, Dutch Tvashar Plumes. An album of heavily processed textures, tracks like "Skorokhodz" and "ExpRand Trace" bristle with a computerized sheen reminiscent of Actress, "Coma Skank" is characterized by its fuzzy, tribal clatter, and "Nowhen Hooks" even provides Gamble's own weird take on house music. Dutch Tvashar Plumes feels very much like a companion piece to Diversions - most obviously evidenced in the cavernous ambient interludes like "Black Snow", but also in the sense that the mangled rhythms feel like the structural skeleton that was ripped out of Diversions. Undoubtedly one of the albums of the year from one of the labels of the year.
Review: Although his computer compositions for the Entr'acte imprint are steeped in the theoretical end of electronic music, some of Lee Gamble's earliest musical experiences were as an active participant in the jungle scene of the mid 90s, regularly DJing on pirate radio. Diversions 1994-1996 sees Gamble take samples of jungle mixtapes from the era and recompose them in an utterly unique way; honing in on the spaces between the breaks he loops and stretches out brief moments of music into haunting, post-apocalyptic soundscapes, allowing the original moments of euphoria to decay on the breeze. Despite its slightly difficult premise, Diversions is actually one of the most accessible PAN releases to date - and should serve as an ideal entry point for those wishing to explore Gamble's work and PAN further.
Review: Such is the standard of material since Steve "Heatsick" Warwick surfaced on vinyl for the first time with the superb Dream Tennis for Cocktail D'Amour last year, you kind of wish some entrepreneurial spirit would look into digging out the Berlin based producer's CDr and c90 back catalogue for reissue on wax too! The Deviation EP further strengthens the relationship between Warwick and Pan, the flawless and attention to detail minded label that released the excellent Heatsick LP Intersex last year, and sees Warwick continue to explore the limits of his Casiotone keyboard on this release, with the title track setting the tone. A deliciously cheeky and off kilter midi riff is at the core, snaking and skanking its way through an arrangement that slips into heavenly machine made incandescence and back.
Review: Utilising only a Casiotone keyboard, a few guitar pedals and not much else, Stephen Warwick creates a unique take on dance music with a charmingly lo-fi naivety . Opening with "Taxi Zum No", featuring the producer humming over the top of a looped sample of The Chi-Lites' "The Coldest Days of My Life", he sets out his stall as a producer of weirdly esoteric music with its tongue firmly in cheek. The 13 minute long "Ice Cream On Concrete" seems to be an attempt to invoke some kind of musical vortex through its hypnotic bossa nova drums and decayed synth tones, while "Tertiary" successfully channels the spirit of Fingers Inc with its mid-tempo pace and gorgeous melody. "Von Andren Ufer" which ends the EP is 14 minutes of beatless, spaced-out musical slurry (in the best possible way), recalling the cracked dub of Ekoplekz.
Review: A collaborator of Stephen Warwick (aka Heatsick) under the Birds of Delay project, Luke Younger has also been producing solo under the Helm alias for some time, clocking up four albums, and several CDR and tape releases to his name. Impossible Symmetry is as good as any place to start; employing electro-acoustic techniques that tap into an industrial sensibility, the album moves from the blasted landscape of "Miniatures", the eternally tortured wails of "Liskojen Yo" and the soothing background hum of "Arcane Matters", interrupted by the tolling of processed church bells before moving to the terrifying interference of "Stained Glass Electric" and finishing on the arcane choir of "Above All & Beyond".
Review: With a particularly expressive, adventurous approach to sound design and abstract composition, Luke Younger's Helm project has matured gracefully over the past seven years. He reaches his sixth album, and second for PAN, in fine fettle, matching eerie patience with studio flamboyance in a balance that few manage to successfully achieve. Olympic Mess moves from cloying hypnotism on the aptly titled "I Exist In A Fog" to unsettlingly spacious tension on "Often Destroyed", but rarely do the tracks idle for too long in one place. It's a pitfall of so much noise and drone music that Younger has side-stepped with ease on his latest effort.
Review: Luke Younger has been steadily amassing a formidable back catalogue of noise and avant garde recordings for many years now, but it was an appearance on PAN that really shot him into the consciousness of the wider electronic community. He returns to the label with another four studies that show off his visceral talent, wielding abrasive textures with abandon and keeping his constructions ever moving and violent. There's a lot of high-frequency distortion whirling around the mix on all these tracks, but behind those sonic weapons Younger has woven a rich spread of tones that add to the clamouring atmosphere.
Review: Luke Younger aka Helm follows his 2017 album Rawabet with this fine album. Collaborating with JG Thirlwell from Foetus and featuring guest cello and saxophone, it is the most rounded Helm album so far. "Capital Crisis" has a sonorous feeling as atmospheric synths emerge from experimental squiggles, while on "I Knew You Would Respond" Younger merges sax squalls with middle eastern nuances. "Body Rushes" is even more impressive, and its layered, immersive textures are up there with Johan Johansson's soundtracks. What's most remarkable about Chemical Flowers however, is the fact that it's an ever-changing, morphing work, typified on the sonic twists and turns of "Lizard In Fear'.
Review: Returning to PAN for the first time since 2011's 19-minute sound piece How Wheeling Feels When The Ground Walks Away, New York-based conceptual artist James Hoff presents Blaster. Based around an intriguing concept to say the least, Blaster is described as a "document of his explorations of computer viruses as agents within the composition process," using the computer virus of the same name to "infect" 808 rhythms and construct all-new shapes out of the resulting audio mulch. As you might expect from such a concept, the resulting audio is extreme to say the least; glitchy, abrasive and wildly unpredictable, each of the eight tracks splutter and misfire like a jammed machine gun. While PAN's recently released Miseri Lares from Valerio Tricoli showed the label's more delicate experimental side, Blaster is very much PAN in full on sonic assault mode.
Review: The marvellous PAN kicks starts 2013 with yet another unusual and relentless medley of deranged sonic brutality. This time it's a debut release from Jar Moff, an elusive Athenian who has put together a vast landscape of melodies, bridging the gap between harsh noise and gentle, desolate harmonics. Both sides of the wax plate are a near fifteen minutes each and in all honesty, it's a rather daunting task to condense them into suitable words: the first side "Tziaitzomanasou" is so diverse that it could almost represent different scenes of a film, where broken shards of glass and spine-chilling screams rapidly evolve into desolate synth keys, only to be swallowed once more by a merciless wave of sparse crackles, bubbling glitches and field recordings. The title track "Commercial Mouth" retains a similar superficial coating of organic noises and sinister arrangements, except this time the heart of the piece is embedded in a musical, almost jazzy vibe. Its looped samples contain a myriad of musical strands, from trumpets to synthesizers and drums - it's an ingenious reincarnation of what happens when classical styles meet with the sheer force of the world's many sonic facets. Warmly recommended.
Review: Rummaging through a veritable dusty attic of creaks, groans, tinkles and tumbles, Eli Keszler has poured all manner of sounds into a cauldron already bubbling with scraped guitar strings and loose drum-bothering for this lengthy exercise in sound crafting. While these compositions may not be the most relaxing of listens, there's no arguing with the sheer scale of the production. Every tiniest detail is beautifully rendered, with the spacing in the mix wielded for a startling impact which finds these swarms of noise daggering into your head like acupuncture needles. Utterly fascinating as per usual from PAN.
Review: You might recognise Konrad Sprenger from his Jorg Hiller moniker but, if that still doesn't ring any bells, then we can can tell you that this fine electronic artist doesn't release all too often, so this is a special appearance indeed. Stack Music comes through the excellent PAN imprint from Berlin and, as you can see, Bill Kouligas knows exactly the right thing to do when recruiting new faces onto his catalogue. "Opening" is a fantastic, folky sort of ballad in which guitar strings dissolve and bond magnificently to an ocean of sparkly electronics, while "Finale" opts for a much more brooding, introspective sort of approach where bells and drones combine to form a new sort of sound. On the flip, "Rondo" experiments with piano keys, except that they've become almost unrecognisable here, and "Largo" flutters pleasantly across an upbeat sort of landscape. This is PAN's Spring-Summer look. Recommended.
Review: PAN deliver a quite wonderful album in Lifted, a rather special collaborative project initiated by Andrew Field-Pickering of Future Times. Working with Matthew Papich, aka Co LA, the man known as Max D called on some highly talented friends to contribute to this debut Lifted album with Jeremy Hyman, Motion Graphix, Gigi Masin, Dawit Eklund and Jordan GCZ all featuring. Unlike much of their personal outputs, Lifted only use house and techno as a tool on which to base their diverse and abstract range of sounds, a primary base or starting point if you will. Tracks like "Intoo", "Bell Slide" and "Mint" are loosely held together by a pulse which resembles a beat, while much of the rest of the LP is coated in a deeply rich and deeply melodic air, verging onto almost jazzy territories in parts. It's certainly an interesting new project and a perfect addition to the PAN dynasty.
Review: Berlin based American DJ James Whipple aka MESH is well known as a member of the city's notorious JANUS crew alongside Lotic and Kablam in addition to his well received releases for the likes of Dyssembler and PAN: which he's fast become a staple of. His contorted take on club music has been heard on 2015's impressive Scythians LP, in addition to his most recent Damaged Merc EP with its derivatives of hardstyle, Jersey club and grime. This follow up takes you further down the spiral, awash in bass heavy futurism ("2 Loop Trip"/"Coercer"), complex webs of field recordings ("Signal Ride Drum"/"Blurred Cicada II") and deep rendered sampling like on "Nemorum Incola" or "Blurred Cicada". Recorded in Berlin and Umbria, Hesaitix LP sees Whipple 'firmly engaged in a kind of sonic worldbuilding, a place where the unconscious and the alien intersect.' A compelling listen.