Reviewed this week
Lena Willikens is not only the first female DJ to curate a compilation for Dekmantel's Selectors series, but also the first to put the emphasis on previously unreleased music rather than dusty-fingered crate-digging gems. That's not to say there aren't excellent older cuts present - see the decidedly psychedelic brilliance of Sandoz's ambient dub earworm "Morning Star (Dubmix)" and the trippy 2001 industrial dub techno of Vromb's "Amalgame" - just that there are a few more previously unheard killers. These include, but aren't limited too, the drowsy broken techno of Jasss's "Little Lines", Parrish Smith's jacking industrial house shuffler "Minima" and the druggy, mind-altering synthesizer soundtrack throb of Borusiade's intoxicating "Night Drive (An Exercise in Indulgence)".
We are always excited to explore the deeper side of tech-inspired dance music, and with this EP, J Albert has done just that. Straight from the off on 'Designer Life' we are treated to delicious soundscaping, amidst subtle percussive inputs and sweeping atmospherics. The same can be said for 'Desperate Riddim' which takes similar ideals down a more breakbeat route. The title track 'Envy Turned Curiosity' arrives next which embraces a more syncopated drum flavour, whilst the 808 rolls of 'Money Between Friends' provides the perfect plateau to round the project off in style.
New York synth-wizard Tommy Mendel was one of the go-to session musicians of the 1980s, playing for and alongside such greats as Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner, the Clash and the B-52. Throughout the period, he also recorded a swathe of solo synth-pop songs, very few of which were ever released at the time. Here, Canadian diggers Invisible City Editions attempt to set the record straight, gathering together ten mostly unreleased gems from Mandel's vaults. It's a strong collection, all told, with Mandel flitting between electrofunk-influenced pop gems ("You're My Only Lover"), spacey synth-scapes ("Aint Got No $"), fuzzy P-funk ("Music Business"), stylish new wave experimentalism ("I Just Want You To Love Me") and atmospheric, near-Balearic treats ("Kin Tama").
This remix package is quite a coup for Death In Vegas. Featuring tracks from the band's sixth album, Transmission, Drone has managed to secure not just the services of Silent Servant, but also former Drexciya member and Dopplereffekt founder Gerald Donald, working here under his lesser-known Rudolf Klorzeiger alias. Silent Servant delivers two interpretations of "You Disco I Freak". The first remix is a heads down, hypnotic techno pulser, while on his 'Version", the LA-based producer opts for a noisy, take, with the rolling groove laden down with screeching riffs and eerie shrieks. Meanwhile, Donald does his own version of "Metal Box", where found sounds and creaky samples unravel over a linear rhythm.
La Mecanica Popular is the sound that is coming out of the more traditional house and techno equation, filtering through on our charts with a tropical edge that merges just about all the facets of world-dance music possible! Peruvian, Colombian, Cuban, and North American influences are blended up and served to you on a platter, via the currently unstoppable Names You Can Trust label. There are six parts here, all of them showcasing something to do with the carnival atmosphere, at times speeding up into high-tech percussion or otherwise offering moody, seductive waves of pseudo-balearica. In a nutshell, this is the very best of what contemporary world-dance has to offer. 10/10.
Well, this is set to be a rather special affair. For starters, we're big fans of Italy's Stroboscopic Artefacts label; the sound and vision has been both consistent and refreshing since their early records were dropping about three years back. On top of that, they have always associated himself with the absolute maestros of modern electronic music, whether danceable or not danceable. As such, the imprint has grouped the very best Italian producers on the market right now, with Andrea Belfi, Marco Shuttle, Alessandro Adriani, Chevel Lucy, and Neel all making an appearance, as well as Rome's legendary techno master Lory D. However, none of them are in a particularly feisty mood. Instead, this is a wonderful compilation made up of one consistent vibe...a deep and wondrous wave of sonics that never truly evolves into techno, but that at the same time never fully dissolves into total abstraction. Recommended.
You can always trust Downwards to release unconventional music, and Image Certifies is no exception. Ora Iso is a collaboration between Kathleen Malay and Jason Kudo, and this album reflects on the time that they both spent living in New York. Tellingly, it is also a "love letter to a society dying of its own self-induced cancers". On tracks like "Deep Fix" and "Dead Riot", with their strangled guitars and Malay's troubled tones, it's not hard to hear why they dedicated it to the collapse of every day life. On other occasions, like "No Fish" or "Digital Crutch", the pair veer into the type of abstractions that Sandra Electronics specialise in, but this is still a work suited for troubled times, as the mutant noise and shrieks of "Have I Gone to Far" so ably demonstrate.
Michael Jones and Turk Dietrich's Belong project is surely about to take off, lifting the duo high up on the ever-expanding 'ambient' wave that seems to have swept over the wider music scene. As a matter of fact, their debut for the excellent Spectrum Spools, out of Austria, is a wonderfully thought-out collection of works, and October Language seems to be the best name for it. While this is an album of admittedly loose and explorative sounds, Belong's arrangements, sound, and general aesthetic render these tunes fully capable of standing their own ground, across just about any sort of music enthusiast. Deep with aqueous flair and cinematic glow, this is more of a journey than a one-off collection of tracks, edging ever-closer to what we like to call the 'musical ether'. Breathe some of this in, and you'll see...
John M.Bryden, or Eyes Of Others, as most people know him, is stepping closer and closer to just the right sort of popped-out cold-wave that seems to be striking a chord with folks these days. Up on Mange Moi, the young producer is here with the ethereal sounds of "Lust Unrequited", a neo-romantic anthem, taking the very best influences from the 80s, and reproducing them under a cleaner, more psychedelic aesthetic that feels right for the era we live in. There's plenty of remixes, too, starting off with Mugwump's deeper, dubbier take, then onto Sordid Sound's percussive reinterpretation - an absolute Balearic stunner - and ending up on Maya Dance's pulsating deep house version. Marvellous - including the instrumental, of course!
We recently saw the release of Summer Cottage Soundscapes, a spontaneously recorded debut album from atmosphere-obsessed ambient techno trio Shorelights, AKA Walter Wasacz, Christopher McNamara and Echospace man Rod Modell. Here they pop up on Subwax BCN with a surprise follow-up, delivering a warm, meditative and tactile journey. While they start said journey with a drowsy, sunset-friendly chunk of drifting ambient warmth and end it with a creepy trip into dub techno deep space, in between you'll find two more obviously dancefloor-focused affairs. While these naturally include their usual atmospheric sonic textures and gentle melodies, they're far bolder and more club-centric than the trio's previous excursion.
After making his name on the mythical Dial imprint, probably the most reliable source of organic micro-house on the market, producer John Roberts has instilled his sound further thanks to his own Brunette Editions, and this new EP takes him one step closer to total abstraction. Compared to his earlier deep house work, that is. From the start of the title track "Spill" through to "Wrecked" and "Fluid", we have a incredibly rich picture of what this artist can do in terms of sound sculpting, and the movement he creates with such hollow elements is eye-opening. For peeps who like their electronica to come from a more dance-centric medium, this is the best thing to have landed this month. Roberts on form.
The CLR affiliated German producer Sascha Borchardt aka Monoloc inaugurates his new label here named Unterland - a collaboration with Beauty of Inconsequenz entitled the Storyline EP. Based heavily on field recordings, this collection of brooding soundscapes have a cinematic score throughout. Full of tension and suspense, this imaginary soundtrack is the perfect score to a horror film. Although trying to fit within a very particular aesthetic, there is still quite a variety of moods within their sonic framework: from the dank and dust covered deep-dubstep of "Gentle Shift" or "Thrilling" to the pitch black ambient drone of "Flowing" or the textural noise abrasion of "Unterhalb": brace yourself! Forthcoming Material will come from Monoloc himself and friends, and each release will aim to 'tell a story' throughout their planned productions thus far.
VARIOUS - Selectors 005: Lena Willikens (Dekmantel Holland)
BELONG - October Language (Spectrum Spools)
EYES OF OTHERS - Lust Unrequited (Mange Moi)