Saturday, February 29, 2020

Soft Rocks and It's A Fine Line

Behold, a free track from Soft Rocks in loving memory of The Guvnor. Lovefingers' ESP Institute credit this remix with raising the label's profile. It's a great schaffel stomp.

And this. Well, I'm ashamed to say I only came across it for the first time last week. It's a wonderful edit of Wah!'s 'Story of The Blues' by Ivan Smagghe and Tim Paris. Simplicity personified. Blissful stuff.

And here's the original to sing along to.

Neon Leotard - Boy Division (Tici Taci)

Title: Neon Leotard
Artist: Boy Division
Label: Tici Taci
Cat Number: TICITACI059
Genre: Italo/Swirls of Synth/Pianos

A one-track mind, so no need for a tune list. Piano-led arpeggiated bliss. You can just see the neon leotard crew throwing shapes in double-jointed ecstasy. The bass carries this to another level, so when the layers are all in sync it’s a massive head rush that fills your brain full of late eighties/early nineties nostalgia. Another one for the chuggers, but one that will take them out of their comfort zone for a few minutes.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

SPECTRO-017 - V/A (Specimen Records)

Title: SPECTRO-017
Artist: V/A
Label: Specimen Records 
Cat Number: SPECTRO-017
Genre: Electro

A1: React – Arsonist Recorder
A2: 60 Minute Bleeps – Sound Synthesis
B1: Humans Among Us – Francois Dillenger
B2: Genotype 1 – Datawave

I thank the electro gods when a release like this lands in my inbox. Four tracks by various artists, each of them finding their own place in time and space but with plenty of room to maneuver to boot. The first two tunes are the more uptempo of the four with Arsonist providing an acid-inflected, funk-fuelled journey through dystopia and Sound Synthesis a dissonant, wonky excursion into the darkness. ‘Humans Among Us’ is even more off-kilter, relying on gaseous synth farts and spacial sound snatches to navigate its way forward. This brilliant package of robotic beats is rounded off by Datawave’s ominous android-embellished flutter. Lovely stuff! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Grey Skies In A Dear Green Place - Fear E (Dark Entries)

Title: Grey Skies In A Dear Green Place 
Artist: Fear-E
Label: Dark Entries
Cat Number: DE271
Genre: Stripped Down Techno Trackiness

1: Puro
2: Acid Conversion 5
3: Distant Past Still In The Future
4: Craig’s Wee Sweet Shop
5: Approach It Like A 90s DnB Banger
6: The Mouth From The South

Glaswegian Fear-E is next up on Dark Entries. A veteran of Dixon Avenue Basement Jams and Super Rhythm Trax, this release finds him on blistering form with six thumping warehouse-ready twatters which are as subtle as they are effective. There’s variety; from the electro of ‘The Mouth From The South’, to the sonar guided arpeggiated techno of ‘Distant Pat Still in The Future’ and the obvious stylings of ‘Acid Conversion 5’, but the unifying factor of skeletally enhanced, crisp, tracky beats holds sway. It’s always refreshing to know that there are still deranged minds channeling their proclivities to control dance floors somewhere. 

The Pob Routine - Jerome Hill (Accidental Jnr)

Title: The Pob Routine
Artist: Jerome Hill
Label: Accidental Jnr
Cat Number: ACJ131
Genre: House

A1: Pob Routine
A2: Transmissions
B1: More Whiffle
B2: RZ Thing

Released on Accidental Jnr, a sub-label of Matthew Herbert’s Accidental, this four tracker form Jerome Hill contains more than a nod in the direction of the label owner himself. Each track here is a sparse, minimal, sample-laden trip into a whimsical world of shape throwing, where one’s coordination could be seriously called into question. I like everything on here, which is saying something as initially the title track did my head in. However, after a short trip down to the post office to post a Discogs snaffled piece of vinyl, I was converted. ‘Transmissions’ has more than a mere whiff of classic Relief, while the schizoid rhythms of ‘More Whiffle’ and ‘RZ Thing’ raise the bar on the whimsical. House with a capital H.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Orphin Spill - HVL (Hypercolour)

Title: Orphin Spill
Artist: HVL
Label: Hypercolour
Cat Number: Techno
Genre: HYPE083

1: Armadillo Beat
2: u0802 [MX2]
3: No Comply
4: Night Of The Hunter
5: Orphin Spill

It was on account of his album for Organic Analogue ‘Ostati’, that Gigi Jikla, aka HVL, came to global prominence, having hitherto been one of Georgia’s best -kept secrets. And, on Hypercolour’s first release of the year, the Bassiani resident turns in a balanced and varied package which showcases his versatility and deft touch with knobs and buttons. If any one motif is more widespread than the other it’s probably breaks, with ‘Comply’, ‘Night of The Hunter’ and ‘Orphin Spill’ each being underpinned to varying degrees by them. In contrast ‘Armadillo Beat’ is a more abstract, atmospheric stomp into the void, and ‘u0802 [MX2]’
 a more measured battery of beats. All in all a very satisfying package.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Flow to It - DeFeKT (Orson)

Title: Flow To It
Artist: DeFeKT
Label: Orson
Cat Number: ORSON 020
Genre: Electro

1: Flow To It
2: Flow To It (Transparent Sound Remix)
3: Double Tap
4: Hour Zero

Orson, a label which has been in existence for 16 years, has just started to gather pace with a slew of releases over the past year from the likes of Carl Finlow, Mesak and Point B. For their first release of this year they turn to DeFeKT, who has taken a similarly exponential approach to releasing over the past decade. This collision of like minds couldn’t fail to yield golden electro eggs, and there is a touch of the epic grandiose here, particularly on ‘Hour Zero’, where the epic swirl dominates. ‘Flow To It’ similarly uses a tone perfect vocal sample to similar effect. Transparent Sound’s remix of the title track takes it in a more unorthodox direction and is full of twists and turns, while ‘Double Tap’ is a cavernous exercise in space/time continuum disorientation. I have stuff like this banging through my ears while shopping in supermarkets. It makes the journey that bit more bearable.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

James Bangura EP - James Bangura (Vanity Press)

Title: James Bangura EP
Artist: James Bangura
Label: Vanity Press
Cat Number: VPR18
Genre: House

1: Broken Mind
2: Color Of Rhythm
3: Lucid Memory
4: 2129

I’m relatively new to Vanity Press, but better late than never. What I’ve liked so far about what I’ve heard is the unpredictability; not just regarding the relases, but also the various tracks within them. Take this fine effort from James Bangura for example: he does like his spoken word samples, which permeate a lot of what is going on here. Both ‘Broken Mind’, ‘Color of Rhythm’ and ;Lucid Memory’  use them instrumentally to add another layer of foundation upon which changeable polyrhythms operate. The former sounds like Robert Hood on crack, the second a frictional, fragmentary syncopated symphony and the latter a space samba. It’s perhaps the stellar break beat suffused strains of ‘2129’ that hit home the most powerfully though.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Andrew Weatherall

I was at work when I heard about the death of Andrew Weatherall. It came digitally, electronically as everything does these days.  However, its impact was no less severe for doing so. Even though clubbing is something I don’t do much of any more, this isn’t because of any lack of motivation. Circumstance, situation, location, all play a part. I have always breathed it in from afar though, and the more left field and countercultural the better. Andrew Weatherall was a guiding light throughout the last thirty years of my life and he, more than anyone else, embodied a freedom of spirit and lack of compromise essential in anyone who doesn’t want to sell out.  He was also a uniquely British artist who didn't allow his nationality to restrict him. Of all the things he was involved in over the course of his illustrious career, it’s maybe Covenanza, his Carcassonne-based Festival which intrigued me the most.  Apparently inspired by The Guvnor’s interest in the Cathars, I was finally making the journey this year with my French Mrs, whose Dad is from that neck of the woods and who also has a great interest in the heritage. I am so sad to not be going and connecting with everyone there. The festival sold out at the beginning of this month but I got my tickets in early December and it was the highlight of this year. The idea of a festival mixing messy, druggy, chugging house with a journey into medieval French counter culture was inspired and something that only Andrew could have pulled off. This news has hit me hard, like so many others. I met him personally when I interviewed him for 209 Radio, Cambridge , in 2009, and he was great. He took me to a side room in The Fez where he was playing, was very generous with his time, incredibly genuine and just wanted to chat. He was accompanied by a retinue of wastrels who were all on good form by the time they arrived and who could say nothing but great things about him. His last tune of that night was Echo and the Bunnymen’s ‘The Killing Moon’, which was inspired. I’m actually a little embarrassed by the chat we had as I sound overly emphatic and eager, in contrast to his laid-back demeanor, but I think about it often and wish it could happen again. Other times were very early on in Brighton at a Storm rave at The Top Rank, and at a Primal Scream gig in New York. This is a loss comparable to John Peel’s passing, but I feel so much sadder about it because he really was one of us. 

See you on the other side.

Embarrassing interview to be found here.

With hindsight I should say that at the moment nothing has been said to suggest that Covenanza won't take place. The above paragraph was a spontaneous outpouring that badly needs an edit. Can't cancel the flight now so I'll be going anyway in memoriam.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

E-FAX005 - Consulate (Art-E-Fax)

Title: E-FAX005
Artist: Consulate
Label: Art-E-Fax
Cat Number: E-FAX005
Genre: Breaks/Rave Simulation

A1: In The Throne
A2: Heraldry
B1: Serpentrising
B2: RZ Canin

Here we have four facets of an imagined dance somewhere in the British rural hinterland which are on the one hand familiar, on the other completely random and disorientating. ‘In The Throne’ is different in that its standard four four unencumbered by any abstract meanderings. The drum and bass overtones of ‘Heraldry’ and ‘Serpentrising’ and ‘RZ Canin’ are hypothetical, embryonic hardcore, albeit restrained and very introspective; spacially fascinating and compelling. Sub bass and high end synthetic vocal stabs weave in and out of the narrative and end up dislocating more than the legs. A sense of dubbed out misdirection prevails, like having your ossicles whittled by a sonic pickpocket.

Error 502 EP - Moy (Batrachian)

Title: Error 502 EP
Artist: MOY
Label: Batrachian
Cat Number: BTR003
Genre: Breaks

A1: Bad Gateway
A2: Wisdom Track
A3: Helkern (Slammer Mix)
B1: Bad Gateway (Almaty Remix)
B2: Megatherium

With the exception of ‘Helkern (Slammer Mix)’, the tracks on this EP are largely distinguished by a delicate range of breakbeats which, while occasionally rising in intensity are mostly restrained and introspective. This is often determined by the accompanying sub bass, which is probably most obvious on ‘Bad Gateway’, but plays no less a part on ‘Wisdom Track’ and the ‘Almaty Remix’. In both cases, however, its use is understated and stable. The aforementioned esception goes all out italo with some subliminal acid flourishes and stands out somewhat.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Edetto EP - Edetto (Apex Music)

Title: Edeto EP
Artist: Edetto
Label: Apex Music
Cat Number: APX001
Genre: Techno

1: Jack Daniels Ain’t Bourbon
2: Choking On Chanel

I still have a soft spot for stuff like this: a particular type of techno which although not as raw as it makes itself out to be, is still visceral enough to do maximum dance floor damage because of its momentum and sense of purpose. It’s a no-nonsense double header then, with two unnecessarily labored titled tracks showing the way. ‘Jack Daniels . . . ‘ strides across the holographic oceans sounding like deranged popcorn on speed with an hallucinogenic witch doctor’s voice intoning god knows what. ‘Choking . . . ‘ is toned down by comparison, but likes building to a crescendo of white noise. It’s all about the breakdown. A pair of weapons in the right hands. 

XXX - Current Obsession (Butter Sessions)

Title: XXX
Artist: Current Obsession
Label: Butter Sessions
Cat Number: BSR027
Genre: Breaks/Electro/Acid

A1: Drop Down
A2: Flipp It
B1: Reverse It
B2: Drop Down (Reptant’s Lizard Tech Remix)

This is “The by-product of Roza Terenzi’s signature sound fused with Furious Frank’s acid fanaticism” according to the press release. Well, I woudn’t know about that. It’s pretty freaky though. ‘Drop Down’ is a transcendent piece of full-bodied club tackle which rides the crest of an impulsive wave, drifting in and out of a parallel consciousness. Reptant’s ‘Lizard Tech Remix’ is stripped down  by comparison, and a different beast altogether; urgent, scatty but lacking the original’s depth. A similar type of momentum comes across in ‘Reverse It’, but the bass is sensurround. ‘Flipp It’ breaks new ground in the electro/breaks/disembodied voices fusion stakes and adds to the impression that the four tracks on this release embody a very fertile area of sonic cross-pollination indeed.

Seyla - David Lohlein (SK_Eleven)

Title: Seyla
Artist: David Lohlein
Label: SK_eleven
Cat Number: SK11X002
Genre: Techno

A1: Ilyane
A2: Seyla
B1: Muesca
B2: Ritmo

A functional four tracker this, and I mean that in the nicest way. The music is funk fuelled and rubberoid in places, the bounce factor being extremely high and pervasive. The tracks also strike the right balance between clarity and vagueness, there being a healthy degree of opacity within them there grooves. ‘Muesca’ is a standout for me, with its concentric, tribal steel drum peals it sounds like a squadron of flying saucers coming in to attack. Obvious nods to Mills and Ruskin make this a very useful release.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Dirt Nap EP - Joonam (Balagan)

Title: Dirt Nap EP
Artist: Joonam
Label: Balagan
Cat Number: BAL001
Genre: Electro

1: Dirt Nap
2: Dirt Nap (Silicon Scally Remix)
3: Halo Effect
4: Strobe

Well, I’ve just been on a shopping trip to Tesco and back, during which I was listening to a recent DJ Stingray mix and I’m happy to say that ‘Dirt Nap’ carries on where much of it left off. It’s an electro pounder, as we say in the trade. Karl Finlow’s interpretation is less confrontational, but more full-bodied, like that last Cahors I quaffed at the weekend. ‘Halo Effect’ and ‘Strobe’ round off this release in fine style; the former being the funkier, the latter slightly more off kilter. Lovely stuff.

Joy Of Missing Out - Zopelar (Apron Records)

Title: Joy of Missing Out
Artist: Zopelar
Label: Apron Records
Cat Number: AC05
Genre: Evocative Funk Episodes

1: Sozinho a Noite
2: Boia de Neve
3: Looking Back
4: All I Want
5: Driving to The Sun
6: Azy
7: Hobart
8: Travel
9: Jazz da XV
10: Welcome Stranger
11: Phobia
12: Brasilidade
13: Look at Me
14: Tesourinha
15: Praia
16: Vision
17: Locked

This is a collection of mini soundscapes, vignettes I suppose, most of which hover around the three minute mark leaving the listener to imagine what may be about to happen next. There’s also a feeling of what went before; another thread running through is that of an analogue eighties jazz funk future; a time when fusion and improvisation was starting to be tamed by nascent hip-hop and dance. The backdrop shimmers and hazy summer evening feel from beginning to end. There is clarity also, the on point production ensuring this, and a pervasive nostalgia which draws on vibes already experienced, as well as those that are just coming into a cycle of renewal. 

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Connection Error - Cygnus (Craigie Knowes)

Title: Connection Error
Artist: Cygnus
Label: Craigie Knowes
Cat Number: CKNOWEP23
Genre: Electro

A1: Ebony Starlight
A2: My Secret Data
A3: Metroid C64
B1: Connection Error
B2: Votoms

Cygnus, aka Philip Washington, (along with sundry other American electro affiliates), hails from Texas; a part of the United States which sees itself as that little bit different from the rest and sits just north of the Tropic of Cancer. Conscious or not, the climatic influence is strong on this one, as Cygnus’ music contains within it panoramas of humid, nocturnal ambience and, in its funkier moments, (which are ever-present), feels tailor-made to cruise around dark, wide avenues while being bumped. Not only is Cygnus prolific, but he’s also endlessly inventive. His mood setting is masterful and way with synths sublime. Impossible to pick a favourite, but the evocative keys of the title track have stayed with me.