Friday, April 03, 2020

Dekmantel Selectors 2016: Baris K

This  mix accompanied me on my isolation walk this morning. A Levantine chug through the alleys of your mind.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Generator EP - Assembler Code (Censor Music)

Title: Generator EP
Artist: Assembler Code
Label: Censor Music
Cat Number: CNSRM003
Genre: Electro

A1: Monochrome
A2: Perimeter Inspection
B1: Generator
B2: Lateral Transfer

Very much a man of the moment, Assembler Code once more comes correct with four tracks of intricate machine funk to send you down multiple electronic wormholes and back again. There’s a dense, claustrophobic quality to the four tunes here, as well as a rawness which, together with an overwhelming sense of menace combines to create a dystopian panorama, perfect for soundtracking this contaminated age. The title track is the tetchiest thing here, and could well have come straight out of the UR electro colouring book. ‘Lateral Transfer’, by contrast, is slow motion menace and grinding foreboding. The whole release feels portentous and loaded, with the remaining two tracks falling in between tempo wise. Mind-boggling brilliance.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Jane Fitz & Eric Cloutier - B2B At OHM 25.10.2019

Spykes - Delta Rain Dance (Delta Rain Dance)

Title: Spykes
Artist: Delta Rain Dance
Label: Delta Rain Dance
Cat Number: DELTA3
Genre: Ambient

1: Light box
2: Penta AMB
3: 2 Stones 6 Foot
4: Zooooom
5: A Simple Individual
6: Penta (Bong Mix)
7: Offshore
8: Ladder
9: 1987 (CD Mix)
10: Ghost
11: I.D.E.S.

From what I have been able to discover, Delta Rain Dance is Glenn Astro, (I could be wrong, but there is a reference to this on his Twitter feed.) Whoever is behind this collection, it could come in very handy during this period of enforced isolation in part because of its potential calming influence. Each composition feels like a slight variation of the one before. There are minor inflections on a foundation of organic sounding electronica which means that it feels like you are listening to a more sophisticated Buddha Machine which evokes a lush, tropical ambience. Beats become more prescient as the album is experienced, the intensity building as the end becomes nigh which all adds up to a confrontationally tranquil experience.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Mantissa Mix 148: Ben Boe

First Contact - Volruptus (bbbbbb)

Title: First Contact
Artist: Volruptus
Label: bbbbbb
Cat Number: BBBLP002
Genre: Electro

A1: Tapetum Lucidum
A2: We Are The Cyborgs
B1: Chicxulub Space Rock
B2: Butt Shakin’ Freaks
B3: Top 10 BIZARRE Discoveries Science STILL Can’t Explain . . .
C1: First Contact
C2: Fotafimi
C3: Juggernaut Cosmonaut
D1: Hyperbola
D2: Man In The moon
D3: Algorithm Society

Day three of lockdown. Absolutely knackered from a combination of online work, relative physical activity and starting the day with a fast 5km run that tired me out from 8am. Thankfully, in my hour of need, this masterwork from Volruptus gently beckoned me back to my desk, to fill my brain and body with beats. I like it when albums are as unashamedly upfront as this one is. There’s no pretence, and nowhere to hide. You dance or you don’t. It’s a selection of sound tracks to a world that has lost its balance. The dominant motif is electro, but this is just one piece of the juxtaposed whole. The compositions are sharply produced and have great range and power. The understated title track, with its universal sonic sweep is my favourite right now, but it won't be tomorrow. It might be the compressed, digeridoo-inspired muddy funk of ‘Tapetum Lucidum’, or the unrestrained, panic-inducing ‘Chicxulub Space Rock’. Your wasting your time if you aren’t playing this one loud form start to finish. A superb colligation of the polished and the primitive. It’s tomorrow’s soundtrack to more confinement.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Fum - Annie Hall (CPU)

Title: Fum
Artist: Annie Hall
Label: CPU 
Cat Number: 01010101
Genre: Electro

1: Verd Mar
2: D’un Altre Planeta
3: Fum
4: Promeses De Fusta

In these increasingly unpredictable and dystopian times, it’s nice to have music which anticipates and soundtracks the exponentially-changing environment. And Ana Artalejo Moreno, aka Annie Hall, does that with a deftness which lands itself to the dance floor every bit as much as it does to the mind. This release oscillates between the pensive atmospherics of ‘Promeses De Fusta’ and ‘Verd Mar’, the funktastic ‘D’un Altre Planeta’ and the dampened piston – beating time syncopated phantasm of the title track. A foggy ambience binds the four compositions, thematically unifying them like rich red wine sauce with a nice rump steak and some Yorkshire puddings.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

00005 - Ste Roberts (STE)

Title: 00005
Artist: Ste Roberts
Label: STE
Cat Number: STE 00005
Genre: Deep House

1: The Voices Of Spring
2: Mangrove 9
3: Mangrove 9 (London Modular Alliance Mix)
4: Tribe Records

Wonderfully funky fare this: ‘Mangrove 9’ bounces along in a throbbing, bass-heavy minimal style and has body; an essential quality when deploying a groove. London Modular Alliance’s take on it drops the arse out and fills it with foreboding and room to maneuver. It’s more atmospheric but sacrifices some of the original’s dynamic. ‘The Voices of Spring’ is cuckoo by comparison (see what I did there?). A loping percussive groove is overlaid with an acidic squelch and a shout, while  ‘Tribe Records’ is a syncopated dubbed out linear groove that fades and comes back into focus with tiny tweaks adding subtle increments to its intensity. Lovely stuff. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Born Sad - Luxus Varta (In Abstracto)

Title: Born Sad
Artist: Luxus Varta
Label: In Abstracto
Cat Number: IA01
Genre: Electro

1: Fade Away
2: Souls
3: Drop Out
4: Fade Away (Maelstrom Remix)

The name ‘Luxus Varta’ drips with bittersweet, inner city distortion, as does this release. The three original offerings appear to be built on shaky foundations, but manage to hold their ground. That is to say their collective cognitive dissonance holds sway against the odds. ‘Souls’ feels like space age Thelonius Monk, each chord jars against the other but the result is somehow magical. I’m not as sold on ‘Fade Away’; its emptiness has charm, but it feels like it could do with a few extra bpms. It’s big sky/deserted beach music incarnate; I’ll have it in my headphones next time I visit Holkham Hall. Maeltsrom reinterprets it as an urgent, electro cut, full of insect menace. ‘Drop Out’ weaponises discord dramatically and maybe captures the concept of this release best. Mr Varta really does need to lighten up though. Maybe look at some puppy gifs?

Mosaic Mix Series 042: Dave Stuart

I'm a massive fan of Steve O'Sullivan's Mosaic Mix Series. The idea is that relatively under-the-radar DJs get to show their skills in a Mosaic context: ie dubby, groovy house/techno is the order of the day. This is the latest by Aussie Dave Stuart, but check out the whole collection. They're all great.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Surgeon: Selt Isolation Mixes 1 & 2

Si View EP - 214 (Cultivated Electronics)

Title: Si View EP
Artist: 214
Label: Cultivated Electronics
Cat Number: CE034
Genre: Electro

1: Linolium Or Cardboard
2: It Never Really Ends
3: Earthworms
4: Nocturnal Hikes

214 is enjoying a burst of creative energy at the moment, and Cultivated Electronics are also starting off the New Year in fine style, following up Assembler Code’s ‘Write Pulse EP’ with this. This is also 214’s second release 
of the year, after ‘Rex & Shuffle’ on Klaxon. On first hearing this release feels more subdued than his previous one, with the beats being crisper and the pace slower, funkier and less obviously confrontational. The threatening vibes present on ‘Nocturnal Hikes’ and ‘Earthworms’ are twisted and otherworldly, with ‘Linolium Or Cardboard’ churning out something similar but at a funkier frequency. Standout for me is ‘It Never Really Ends’, which is parallel universe breakdance gear. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Descent - Carl Finlow (Craig Knowes)

Title: Descent
Artist: Carl Finlow
Label: Craigie Knowes
Cat Number: CKNOWEP24
Genre: Electro

A1: Descent
A2: Undertones
B1: Cascade
B2: Displaced

In which Carl Finlow goes down a route paved with portentousness and foreboding. It’s a great record because of its precision and atmosphere. The pervasive feeling that drama is wrapped around every beat; the claustrophobic, drenched domain that, conversely feels flexible and illusory is suspenseful and stirring. ‘Descent’ feels like the background to a cold war caper playing out in a park under gaslight to which you have an uninterrupted view. ‘Undertones’ deals in similar currency and is distinguished by a double-barreled mini synth explosion which propels it along like a metallic fart. ‘Cascade’ breaks ranks tempo-wise, dabbling in the same capaciousness but with more insect menace, while ‘Displaced’ is a sparse, delicate, otherworldly glide. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

AMS>PIT - Shawn Rudiman & Jordan GCZ (Love What You Feel)

Title: AMS > PIT
Artist: Shawn Rudiman & Jordan GCZ
Label: Love What You Feel
Cat Number: LWYF-008
Genre: Techno Improv

1: Catnip Freak
2: Hole in The Ground
3: Too Many Teef In My Mouf
4: Down To Biz

A very fresh quartet this which manages to span techno, dub, space jazz and electro without flinching. Nothing stands out here because it’s all so damn good. Each tune boxes something off with great aplomb: There’s the electro-inflected ‘Catnip Freak’, the fifty fathoms deep dub of ‘Hole In The Ground’, the pearlescent optimism of ‘Too Many Teef In My Mouth’ and the abstract hip-hop disco of ‘Down To Biz’. The whole package represents a creative pinnacle of sorts and I’m in thrall to it because I have no idea how these things are conceived.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Temper Tantrum - Tripeo (Blueprint)

Title: Temper Tantrum EP
Artist: Tripeo
Label: Blueprint
Cat Number: BPD01
Genre: Techno

1: Temper Tantrum
2: Narcissism Of Small Differences
3: Implicit Bias
4: Shatter that Glass Ceiling

So loaded these track titles. I have the feeling that this could be a difficult listen, with all that implicit worthiness. However, that these tunes mostly fall into the category of “Millsian fairground barrel organ on crack” does help somewhat because they come from a zone that I am familiar with due to years of pervasive subconscious soundtracking. A functional foursome, each example of which should find its niche within the mix, but while being competently delivered, nothing really stands out; aside from ‘Shatter That Glass Ceiling’, which makes me recall Tan Ru’s excellent ‘Purple Heart’.

Monday, March 16, 2020

686.719 - Syrte (Science Cult)

Title: 686.719
Artist: Syrte
Label: Science Cult
Cat Number: SCAS1
Genre: Electro

A1: Obedience Paradox
A2: Simulation Assimilation
B1: Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions
B2: Mechanical Matriarch
B3: 1815350400

When ‘Storm Dennis’, (or should I say rebranded winter), is battering a path to your door, there’s nothing better to do than sit in the comfort of your own home listening to electro. And, as you look out across the rain-sodden wasteland in which you live, wandering if anyone else out there is lucky enough to have a similarly amazing soundtrack to their life. This is a particularly hard-hitting collection of industrial, sci-fi tinged robo funk. The beats are crisp and clean, the vocoders pipecleaned, and mandatory disembodied voices carefully picked. This is a great release, with the first four tracks aggressively, but not crassly, making their presence felt in a collage of organised chaos. The best is saved for last though, as ‘1815350400’ leverages the turmoil to a invoke a more emotive sense of spectacle.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Purplewave - Rico Casazza (Dionysian Mysteries)

Title: Purplewave
Artist: Rico Casazza 
Label: Dionysian Mysteries
Cat Number: DM005
Genre: Electro

1: Purplewave
2: Rainmaker
3: Enada Mello
4: Purplewave (No Moon Remix)
5: Purplewave (Silicon Scally Remix)
6: Supercluster

This opens momentously; a big sky and sweeping, emotive belches of sound accompanied an emotive arsenal of percussion. It feels like shoegaze in a centrifuge. Artfully done with a large side salad of melancholia. Both remixes offer something a little different as might be expected: No Moon’s is a restrained horizontal electro chug, while Silicon Scally sticks a bit closer to the original, retaining a lot of its depth. ‘Rainmaker’ dabbles with electro, and the result is a pleasing, sub-aquatic journey, while ‘Supercluster’ and ‘Enada Mello’ branch out into the realms of breaks and acid respectively, the latter soars while the other is cloaked in layers of fog. All in all a very versatile and skillful piece of work which shows great promise and imagination.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Darkness & Light

Darkness & Light: Mixing and Attitude In An Era Of Bellendery

The fallout from Andy Weatherall’s death will be around for some time and has taken everybody by surprise. Not just the outpourings of grief (none of it maudlin, or cloaked in cloying sentimentality, btw, but heartfelt, genuine and life-affirming), but the unexpectedness of it all. That is to say, the reactions of a lot of those who came into contact with the man, either personally, through his music or because they identified with his outlook. (Not unexpected in the literal sense, but in the weight and feeling of it all), Irreplaceable as he was, hope is now on the horizon to allay any fears that his life was in vain and that the baton will be passed; not to any one person you understand, but to a whole raft of fellow travellers, infected forever by the Guvnor’s words, deeds and philosophy. There is light at the end of the tunnel and the show will go on.

This post was going to be about extreme transitions which make sense, but has typically veered off that road and gone up a mountain track, led by a lonely goat herder, whose convoluted way of doing things means we won't be back for tea. It has become one whose multi-faceted sensibilities are simultaneously random and systematic, reliant on memory and invention for their oxygen. Like a poet, the DJ is a figure of both quantifiable and liquid worlds; someone whose art is on the ne hand superficial, on the other profound. When I was much younger I used to think that true art was a spontaneous ejaculation of feeling and intent and that in order to be an artist you had to take mind-altering substances as a matter of course. This was always a more credible way of doing things and you were a more interesting person by definition of having done such things. I still think that, but my days of getting blitzed are, by and large, behind me now. 

Never say never though. Which leads us onto the transcendent powers of music and the mix. When is a blend not a blend, and the same goes for transitions too. My own approach to mixing has been to do what excites me and to not stay in my comfort zone too much. That doesn’t men much though, as I am a player of records rather than a technical virtuoso. I’ve always learnt from my mistakes, but that hasn’t stopped me making them again. At first, like many I suspect, I was of the opinion that anything could be mixed with anything of a certain tempo, and the more eclectic the better. Somehow everything would be ok if it were under the same vague umbrella. It wasn’t and rarely is, except in the delicate hands of a master. Weatherall was one such; Harvey is another, and maybe it’s him who now shoulders the burden of the world’s most multi-faceted DJ and seer. This doesn't mean that there aren’t other DJs with similar capacities to remain ahead of the curve, but few have such elevated positions according to their fans. The darkness and light thing has always intrigued me: it’s a simple statement of sequence. Draw the listener in with something somber and then release them from it with a burst of happiness. I remember going to see Moodymann play his first ever English gig around twenty years ago on August Bank Holiday weekend. He really wasn’t very good at all and was outshone by Theo Parrish. Rick Wilhite was there and I remember him opening his set with Carl Craig’s ‘The Wonders Of Wishing (For You).’ A strange curtain raiser as it fairly twats itself out of the blocks. It’s the breakdown that everybody doesn’t expect that does the trick though. With momentum kept up the track becomes drenched in a sun kissed ambience that acts as a wonderful bridge to somewhere less disturbed. A lot of Weatherall’s mixes pursue similar objectives but not as flagrantly. There’s a more skilled transitioning from one mood to the next. His first Essential mix is forever etched into my sonic consciousness purely because of (is it an edit) Killing Joke’s ‘Millenium’ getting the ball rolling. That mix only features nineteen tracks over two hours but is a masterpiece of the long blend. Tracks come and go and the listener is none the wiser. It’s one of those formative listening experiences that I will never forget> Listening to it live at my friend, Mike’s, flat in Glasgow having accompanied him up there in November 1993. He’s still there too. CCL is another DJ I have been very much enjoying listening to recently for similar aforementioned reasons. She seems to be able to blend multiple styles effortlessly and is technically gifted. Her ‘Unsound Podcast 56’ is a great example of this approach, as is ‘Discwoman 84’. I don't think that it’s nearly as necessary to go into detail as it is to listen to the mixes. I probably listen to more than most and can honestly say that while I do like things to be torn apart occasionally in a set, there’s no substitute for subtlety. Something that comes to mind when listening to Ciel’s recent Melbourne Deepcast, which is just over an hour and a half of deep, dubby vibes, the temperature of which is raised but it never boils over. A third of it is almost downtempo, before you’re moved into a realm of more metallic angularity, finishing things off with an object lesson in restraint and breakbeat polyvalency. Around the 80 minute mark it also sounds like classic turn of the century Californian dubbed out tribal house a la H-Foundation. Definitely a sound in need of a revival. So I mostly survive by listening to online mixes these days, as well as recording my own. And while I understand the need for some DJs to preserve a sense of anonymity and mystery, I very much disagree with Villalobos’ stance regarding not posting his sessions online because it would stop people coming to see him in the club; as if everybody who wants to can. It’s a similar approach to that of the football league not allowing the broadcasting of football at 3pm on a Saturday. What if you’re poor, agoraphobic, claustrophobic or just don’t like clubbing. So many things wrong with that stance. The DJs he has probably had the most influence on, the Romanians: Raresh, Rhadoo and Petre Inspirescu, aka [a:rpia:r], are some of those closer in spirit to the Croydon. South London/Surrey tech house sound ever. They do add a more transcendent element though, overlaying their selections with all manner of mysticism, imbuing them with a constant metaphysical wonkiness. I suppose what I’m trying to get through within this ramble is that playing records well is not something anyone can do. It takes a comparative lifetime to do it and anyone who says they know it all is a bullshitter. I am in awe of those who are at the top of their game and unique, and there’s lots of them out there. Each doing their own thing in a very effective, enjoyable way. Anyway, I’m ending this outpouring with a nod to someone I’ve been digging for a while now, Baris K. This Turkish delight knows his onions and lives in a parallel Levantine dimension which chugs along, powered by middle eastern through-the-looking-glass ALFOS optics. Lovely stuff. Here’s his Dekmantel Selectors mix from four years ago.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Discogs Arousal 1 Futurefunk - Mandroid (Dominance Electricity)

Title: Futurefunk
Artist: Mandroid
Label: Dominance Electricity
Cat Number: DR-031.014
Genre: Electro

A1: Jupitor
A2: Population Overdrive
A3: Beyond Space Beyond Life
B1: Ikon Symbol
B2: Sinister Overtones
B3: New Wave Freaks
B4: Futurefunk

I’ve just had the wonderful idea of turning my Discogs purchases into a series, as if I didn’t fill this blog with enough froth to start with. So, although this is not my first ever acquisition on said site, it is my first this year and a great one to get the ball rolling. More like a mini album than a single, ‘Futurefunk’ is a concise evocation of future days long gone and those yet to come. Mandroid, aka Adrian D. Rataj, is, according to his Discogs profile “A breakdancer / producer / plasterer from Barnsley in South Yorkshire. Mandroid is the old-school master, he is the prince of the vocoder. He makes beautiful funky melodic brooding electro music and drives a turbo Mini.” If that doesn’t get you interested there’s no excuse. This release reeks of symphonic eighties electronica; ‘Beyond Space Beyond Life’ sounds like the theme music to a seventies science show on steroids. ‘Ikon Symbol’ has its vocoders in order and its electro credentials throbbing. Yu can imagine being behind the wheel of a Ford Granada in 1983 at midnight. ‘Sinster Overtones’ intones itself in rhyme with “Shake you down to the bones”. It’s corny at times, but irresistible in its funky grind. ‘New Wave Freaks’ has echoes of ‘Micro Phonies’ era Cabaret Voltaire. ‘Jupitor’ emphasizes the grandiosity of its subject, as well as the space around it, while ‘Population Overdrive’ goes full on sinister, eerie soundtrack with more vocoders. It’s a composite, but complete release that deserves to be blasted out from analogue car sound systems everywhere late at night while racing around industrial estates.

Here’s an interview which was conducted with Mandroid around the time of release of ‘Futurefunk’.

Monday, March 09, 2020

March 2020 Chart

Critical EP – Janeret (Omike)

One of my go-to producers at the moment, Janeret’s latest is a little bit more robust than his other recent releases, but the hallmarks of dubby, echoey, passing through the eye of a crab nebula synth wash are still there. The electro cut, ‘Axis’, is a stand out. 

 Reverie EP – James Shinra (Analogical Force)

James Shinra’sname is more widespread than the Corona virus at the moment, and this EP is a good example of why. Sitting somewhere between electro and braindance, this release emphasizes melody above anything and the result is an artful exercise in brain-melting.

 The Locks – Sixtyone (Verdant)

The three original tunes on the A side are all understated excursions into the techno twilight. The remixes on side B raise the temperature and are perfect foils for their more subtle counterparts. The drums on ‘Stojche(’s) Reshape’ are perfectly compressed beats of Bedlam.

 Hermeneutica – Hoax Believers (Ferox)

I doubt that Ferox have ever released anything less than essential, and this is no exception. The four tracks here are distinguished by their individuality. I’m going for the aquatic electro stylings of ‘Hermeneutica’ as my pick.

 Turboss EP – IO (Mulen) (Drumma)

A two tracker with each composition weighing in around the eight minute mark, perfect for long involved mixes where the groove is dominant and funky. An essential purchase for those wishing to add backbone to any set.

Music Angel – YS (Pace Yourself)

The title track is en electro/breaks/bass hybrid with funk in spades and is the highlight of an inventive, varied EP whose four tracks each offer a slightly different gaze into machine funk’s anatomy.

 Mental Manipulation EP – Pyramid Of Knowledge (Hard Beach Entertainment)

A split electro/techno release with overlapping rave tropes. Dense, wet and as full on as I can be arsed with these days.

Radiant Process – Cignol (Lunar Disko)

One of the best as far as the stellar electro slant is concerned. Four tracks of peerless deep space driving music to keep you company on those interplanetary missions.

Paranoid Android – Illektrolab (Brokntoys)

A darker, more grinding take on electro. Illektrolab does this better than most and is ahead of the pack where disorientating, wormhole disembidiement is concerned. Add a side order of rampant insect menace and you’ve got a schizophrenic Captain Nemo at the controls of an unruly organ trying to overrule the ensuing chaos.

Black Hole EP – Ara-U (No Static/Automatic)

A lovely package of grinding electro from Ara-U, finished on lurid, dayglo green vinyl. Closer in spirit to Illektrolab than the other similar releases in this chart, plus it’s got vocoders! (‘Disintegration’), and yet another Carl Finlow remix (‘Arvo’s Sound Speech’), which smashes it. All round brilliance.