Reviewed this week
NYC's The Golden Filter, a duo made up of Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman, are naturally infused into the genetic code of Glasgow's Optimo imprint. Not to be confused with Golden Teacher, the pair also delve into the depths of dance music, merging the boundaries of house, techno and outernational. Their recent EP, End Of Times, is what has produced this latest outing, also on Optimo. Dub Of Times, as you can imagine, is a three-version offshoot that developes and evolves the title tune into some pretty killer territories, with the Golden Dub deploying a warm, driving bassline that's rich with a hedonistic euphoria all too often forgotten these days, and the Silver Dub ups the tempo, while the accapella does its duty with some fine voices and wondrous drones. Absolute magic.
Much like the works of contemporaries Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, Burt Friedman's work has been a pillar of the modern German electronic sound. Forever exploring the lines between outernational music and more rigid hardware structures, the artist has always remained true to his vision. First coming through with sparse, explorative rhythms back in the late 80s, he has racked up an incredible amount of releases by now, many of them through his own Nonplace imprint. This new anthology is the first official compilation of his most defining work, and comes as an absolute breath-taker given the vastness of the catalogue. Spanning the best of his works between 1980 and 2017, the comp gives us a vivid image of his steady progression as a sound engineer, constantly dipping and diving between tribal percussions, technoid ballads and dub-filtered downtempo. If you've come here looking for the truth, then this release should come before anything else. Unmissable and highly recommended.
Norway's Geir Jenssen is one of ambient's true pioneers. A man who has done nothing but good to the scene, stretching its boundaries across different sounds and harmonic landscapes since the early 90s. He's so renowned, in fact, that even his albums from the post 00's era are worthy of represses, such as this 2002 outing on London's Touch, the solitary and immersive Shenzhou. It is an impossible task to condense its freeform structures into words, a wide-eyed horizon that blends field recordings and reverb-laden pools of sonics into neatly executed frameworks. Rich with drama and suspense, it glides elegantly from beginning to end. This is all about feeling and mood - it's what Biosphere thrives in. If there was ever a runner up to Vangelis for the Blade Runner, we'd have chosen this guy.
French soulful techno expert Agoria returns to his Sapiens imprint with yet more surefire dancefloor drama. "Boomerang" is a fitting name for this woozy and hypnotic cut that features a trippy sub bass snarl that veers to and from you within its sonic spectrum. We are then presented with the trilogy that is "Directory". The first part being a brooding sonic landscape that reaches near psychedelic moments, likewise the second is also a modular based drone piece. The third and final part of the puzzle is without doubt the most avant -garde and passive aggressive - calling to mind the work of Thomas Ankersmit or Morton Subotnick. This fine release follows up a real winning streak for the label in recent times courtesy of scene favourites Eagles & Butterflies, Dino Lenny and fellow Frenchman Oxia to name but a few.
"Phantom Brickworks III" is the lead single from Bibio's new album and it is a haunting yet evocative neo-classical experience. Fans of Erased Tapes, Nils Frahm or Olafur Arnalds should take note. On the album, the artist has stated that he doesn't believe in ghosts, but in places haunted by meaning. Places can change for a variety of reasons, he says, and are charged with atmosphere because of what they have been through or what they have been. Deep and intriguing stuff! Moreover, it is a collection of mostly improvised musical pieces that for some time have provided him with a 'mental portal' into places and times that are somewhere between illusion and reality. Bibio is the alias of Stephen Wilkinson from the West Midlands: Phantom Brickworks is his sixth album on UK electronica institution Warp, based in Sheffield, UK.
Liverpool's Matthew Barnes returns to London's Ninja Tune outfit with a one-off single from his new LP, Compassion. "Exalter" perfectly captures the mood and vibe of the album, a rhythmic assortment of ethnic harmonies that have been collated under a more rigid electronic framework. With fleeting, miasmic vocals, and a loose range of hollow electornic sounds, Forest Swords gives the term downtempo and whole new meaning. Deep and majestic, tenebrous and uplifting. All at once.
Adam Winchester's roaring output has taken the experimental scene by surprise. After all, there aren't too many UK artists who are delving into the darker, more deranged iterations of drone and noise. Appearing on the ever-impressive Osiris Music, Interferenza kicks off with the steely power electronics of "Surface", before dissipating out into the ether on "Terminal Transition", and the more mechanical "Resurrection Effects". "Figure Ground" bleeps and clicks to its own, oddly-balanced beat, and both "Blue Ghost Tunnel" and "Extant" duck deep down into the ambient quarters. What a masterful collection of sounds - highly recommended!
Following up a pair of great collaborative albums by Suzanne Kraft - with the Antinote affiliated D.K. last month and the wonderful Passive Aggressive LP with label boss Jonny Nash, Melody As Truth now present Danish producer Palta. Probably most known to people under his real name Natal Zaks, he also creates music as Aebeloe and as Central - the latter has seen him release on tastemaker labels such as Dekmantel. With his debut release for the label, entitled 'Universel', Palta was best described as a sound painter, of sorts. That talent is on display again here on this new EP. From the tripped out tribal tropicalism of "Tabt Optagelse", the cavernous free fall of "Pa Gensyn" to the the 10 minutes of complete and utter bliss that is "Optagelse 16A" which is a highly detailed and evocative journey into the soul that will have you craving for more.
Brainwaltzera's escapades for the Film imprint have opened up a new and interesting channel for ambient music, one which cautiously steps into more structured territories. As such, this remix EP makes total sense, and so does the line-up that appears on it; legend Luke Vibert's wonky beat reshuffle perfectly enscapsulates the oddities found on "Muddy Puddle Trot", and the same goes for both Eva Geist's and Guavid's remixes - two curious amalgamations of outsider sounds. Ignazz ignites "Marzipan Leftovers" with a more house-centric approach, lifting the air with a mechanic drum machine groove, while Philipp Otterbach's version of "Triangulate Dither" opens the doors to a magnificent plane of ambient landscapes. Almighty.
Morgan King is a bit of a UK legend. Having first come though in the late 80s, he was on everyone's radar, including greats like Depeche Mode. He has never gone away, and his spirit is still firmly felt in the music that's being made today. This new LP, Grains & Grams is more liberatory compared to his previous output, with the producer going beyond the more predictable synthwave jams being replicated today. The mood is, indeed, somber and pensive, but King's voice is an uplifting affair, touching down on the speakers with the confidence and vision of an artist who was around during the height of the UK electronic scene.
It's safe to say that Finland's Bjarki is one of the TRIP label's most important artists, that is, Nina Kraviz's own imprint. The techno deviant likes to dwell on his own variant of the style, often blended up with eerie ambient sonics and all things beatless, so it's always a pleasure to have him on our charts. He's actually appeating on the misanthropic bbbbbb imprint this time around, back with his predictably shape-shifting take on dance music. "Soda Sugarlicious" just about holds a groove together amid deep, eerie synth waves, while "Klobbalegt_it_" heads into AFX territories thanks to its raucous beats and free-firing use of distortion. "Drab 2" dissipates the noise into a lonesome pool of harmonies and sonic decay, whereas "2 Mewtwo 5 [GRX230P018] B-) Aprilgabb2" is difficult to decipher as it is to spell. What a banger - warmly recommended!



Diggers everywhere rejoiced when Echovolt Records boss Ilias Pitsios and celebrated selector Tako Reyenga of Redlight Records fame got together to form Into The Light, with their inaugural compilation of Greek Electronic Music, Classics & Rarities a sublime introduction to a world of lesser known musical excellence. Into the Light return with an eagerly awaited second release that narrows the focus to Vangelis Katsoulis, a man daubed the 'king of Greek electronics'. The Athens born Katsoulis was one of the artists featured on that 2012 compilation and remains active today across numerous disciplines. As the full title alludes, The Sleeping Beauties focuses on the late '80s period when Katsoulis was beginning to increasingly incorporate electronics in his compositions, with material from his Tchaikovsky riffing 1988 album The Slipping Beauties featuring on the collection along with four unreleased works, two of which Katsoulis recorded last year. Fans of poignant electronics should check this!
The latest release from Into The Light demonstrates once again few can match Tako Reyenga of Redlight Records fame and his Echovolt counterpart Ilias Pitsios when it comes showcasing the sublime musical pioneers of '70s and '80s Greece. Much like last year's Vangelis Katsoulis retrospective, the focus of the latest Into The Light release falls on another artist to feature on their classic debut compilation in the shape of George Theodorakis. Son of Mikis, the legendary composer responsible for scoring Zorba The Greek and Serpico, Theodorakis issued only a limited amount of music over a 20 year period, but was known for his intense studio habits which resulted in a vast archive of unreleased material. Much of that features on The Rules of the Game: Original Studio Recordings (1978-1995), with the 16 tracks rolling deeper into the new age synthesizer vibe of the two Theodorakis compositions that featured on the label's debut compilation.
Exclusives
GEOFFREY LANDERS - 1 By 1 (Music From Memory) - exclusive 10-11-2017
GAJEK - 17 (Monkeytown Germany)
TROPAR FLOT - Crimson Leaves (Ilisho) - exclusive 31-12-2017