276 posts tagged electronic
Lakker: Untitled (Stroboscopic Artefacts)
Lakker’s latest on Lucy’s Stroboscopic Artefacts imprint is, for lack of a more eloquent choice of words, fucking fantastic. It is probably my favorite release on the label so far, channeling the same enthusiasm for dark-sided techno but with a flair for something more otherworldly and ambitious atop. The EP is worth the cost of admission just for “Harbour,” a positively brilliant minimal techno number that slowly reveals itself to be a vessel for unusual, microtonal, bending arrangements. The 2nd track, “eeAea,” is comprised mainly of zippy synth leads and nervous, twitchy percussion. The tight attack and release on the track’s synths combine well with all of the shaker sounds in the rhythm track to feel quite claustrophobic to good effect. “Valentina Lane” rounds the release out in style, a more spacious and chill track with a staggered kick and dubby chords, a hook that has a steady 1-2 lurch to it tempered by the more comfortable breathing room of its effects-laden arrangement.
I hadn’t picked up much of Lakker’s repertoire before, but I’m definitely going to go back and investigate; this is one of the most inspired techno records in recent memory.
Autechre: “Perlence Subrange 3” (Quaristice.Quadrange.ep.ae, Warp 2008)
I prefer this track from Autechre in its more blissed out variations on the subsequent EPs that followed their 2007 sprawl, Quaristice. It’s a set of releases, including the album alongside a limited edition bonus disk and this two-and-a-half-hour follow-up “EP,” that I sadly tend to overlook when considering the highlights of Autechre’s varied discography. Like most of their music, however, it rewards with repeated listening, both in the details as well as the larger impression. Their talent and ingenuity continues to wow me.
FIS: Homologous (Void Comms)
Olly Peryman’s latest as FIS feels like an odd skimming off the topmost surface of drum & bass and dubstep; sort of like the lingering effect of perfume after someone leaves a room or space. Each of the three tracks (including “Homologous 01.5,” an interlude between the two other main cuts) has references to the effects trail and decay of dub with some of the nervous energy and syncopation of drum & bass, but none of the obvious tropes. For example, there is no frenetic breakbeat loop, no DJ-friendly mixing, no hook or even a bassline. Instead these are almost abstractions of genre ephemera, still rhythmic and full of life but having mutated somewhat far from the inspirational source. Rather than tucking neatly under any particular genre, these uneasy tracks exist in the outskirts. I especially like the rhythmic stutter “refrain” of sorts of “Homologous 02,” an oddly infectious anti-groove. A similar sort of phenomenon occurs in the A-side, “Homologous 01,” which has more of a shiver to it with lots of attack and decay on its whooshing effects line-up. I like this one for its willingness to eschew convention and opt for something more surprising, less obvious. Well worth a listen.
Cassegrain: Tiamat (Prologue)
With Tiamat, the duo of Alex Tsiridis and Hüseyin Evirgren have crafted a nice suite of minimal, buoyant techno tracks that would make the Basic Channel crowd proud. “Taiga” kicks things off with a great, dense underwater track, recalling the finer aquatic moments of Drexciya’s later material but with the poise and flow of vintage Porter Ricks. “Joule” picks up the pace considerably with a faster clip and more crisp sounds, all anchored by a hypnotic, endless bassline loop and overhead drones and overtones. The title track falls somewhere in between these aesthetics, with an urgency in its arrangement but with a confident and patient stride to propel it forward. For the most part, Tiamat oscillates between this dubbier, slower pace and something more alert and spry, with punchier and more immediate arrangements that rely less on delay and reverb for atmosphere. “Task” is such a case, with a layer of hiss to provide some added bite while bleeping patterns loop over a relentless kick drum. Fans of Sandwell District are definitely likely to approve, with each of these 6 tracks sounding as good on headphones as they no doubt would on a huge system.
With Autechre’s new EP L-event just released, Charlie Frame catches up with the veteran electronic duo’s Rob Brown to discuss music and memory, this year’s sprawling Exai album, and the methods and ideas that underlie each of the new EP’s tracks
The Quietus published a fantastic new interview with Rob Brown of Autechre today.
Orbital: “Satan” (III, 1991)
"And by the way, if you see your mom this weekend, would you be sure and tell her…"
Physical Therapy: Whitelabel (Grizzly)
Physical Therapy is an act about which I know very little, outside of the obvious reference points on Discogs and what not. This four-tracker on Sinden’s Grizzly imprint sounds like a love letter to 90s dance music and rave culture, only reinterpreted through a distorted or fish-eye lens. “Whitelabel” is a joyous pseudo-rave anthem, with its buoyant, unchanging bassline and strange happy house chords that are filtered to give them a shifty, unusual quality. Add in some wailing vocal samples and it’s a full-on party track, albeit one that skews left of center.
"Rolling on Sunday" continues the trend, although its rhythm section is more crisp while synth oscillators swoop up and down in each channel. Halfway through, pitch-bent chords resonate overhead, lightening the vibe into something more party-like in contrast with the slightly darker sound of the arrangement that precedes. "That Horn Track" is again an oddly joyous dancefloor number; its reverbed melodic hook is complemented well by a goofy, squiggly acid bassline that is undeniably fun. The mix of reverb, less typical drum sounds, and nostalgic convention (particularly the happy house chords and acid touches) works well in feeling simultaneously nostalgic and slightly off-kilter, yet still functional for a dancefloor. Nautiluss contributes a remix of "Whitelabel" to round it out, ditching most of the sensibility of the original and instead infusing it with airy pads and breaks that feel nostalgic in their own right, touching on early breakbeat and jungle but adhering to a four-to-the-floor mid-tempo format.
It’s a handsome addition, albeit a more sedate one, to a rousing grouping of tracks that demonstrate a nice combination of nostalgia, humor, playfulness, and leftfield sounds.
Squarepusher: “Venus No. 17” (Ultravisitor bonus disc, Warp 2004)
Every time I think I may be tired of Tom Jenkinson’s music, I give it a listen and it sounds as fresh as ever.
Emptyset: Recur (Raster-Noton)
It’s always intrigued me how “industrial” as a musical genre shifted focus from the more atonal experimentation of Throbbing Gristle and Industrial Records into essentially dance music with vocals pumped through distortion; the end result is closer to an angry Depeche Mode instead of anything having to do with the images the label conjures up. Recur, on the other hand, sounds like industry to me. It chugs and grinds and writhes its way across nine tracks in a way that is far more compelling to me than their previous output. James Ginzburg and Paul Purbas’s latest starts with series of blistering blasts of noise. Indeed, there’s something primal about the progressive stop and start of “Origin,” setting the stage for the full-on assault of “Fragment.”
Rhythm and noise are the key elements of Recur, whose themes of repetition and recurrence are built into even the title. But the stop/start nature of many of these tracks removes them completely from the techno flirtations the duo has exercised in the past, with a couple exceptions. “Order,” the fourth track, is the longest and one of the most regular, grinding in rhythm like an industrial strength can opener, while “Instant” could almost work its way into a leftfield DJ set with its plodding kick drum and undulating rolls of feedback (not unlike Pan Sonic).
But just as much as Emptyset are concerned with the visceral qualities of presence and noise, they are enamored with the spaces between; “Absence” sounds like the prolonged shudder of amplified hush, nervously fluttering its signal for a few moments, serving as sort of a halfway point of demarcation. The second half is again rhythm and noisy, but it seems less concerned with the full-on blast of raw sound that characterizes the first few tracks. Instead, there is a disjointed groove about them, like the repetition of the title track or the aforementioned pulse of “Instant.” Closing track “Limit” pulls it all together, with some heavy-handed syncopation while a variety of noisy signals battle it out. The whole thing is over and done within 35 minutes, making it quite short by current album standards. But Emptyset get it right in that sense; it’s the right length for the confrontational nature of the music. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it might leave you a bit bruised on its timely way out.
Leafcutter John: “Untitled #10” (Microcontact, Planet µ 2002)
Diamat: I Can Only Love You If You Don’t Love Me (n5MD)
Diamat make music that seems relatively unconcerned with trends or the bite-size media nugget culture we live in. Most of this album’s eight tracks exceed the seven minute mark (some closer to ten), taking their time to evolve patiently rather than jumping headlong into a hook or refrain. I certainly don’t mean to take away from the trio’s ingenuity as producers or collaborators by making the comparison, but I can’t help but mention Ulrich Schnauss’s first 2 albums as a touchpoint; if I didn’t know this was a different trio, I’d have assumed Herr Schnauss was behind these lush arrangements. Instead Diamat is the brainchild of Attilo Bruzzone of Port-Royal alongside collaborators Andrea Zangrandi and Christos Garmpidakis. Most of these tracks are spacious, with plenty of room for effects and atmosphere. They also tend to include generous lead-in and -out, with pauses between tracks that feel almost too long at times, but such is the patient nature of Diamat’s music. The opening intro and subsequent swoon of “I Can Love You Only If You Don’t Love Me” that leads the album is a handsome indicator of what lies ahead. Second track “Kraloclk” is a dead ringer for vintage Schnauss (paritcularly his sunny debut), but it’s not all such an easy comparison, thankfully. “Heliotrope” is a hazy, shimmering beam of diffuse light, while the two part “Misunderstood” is its own mini-epic. It starts faintly and builds over the course of four minutes before a glorious thunder of classically crunchy IDM beats crashes in. It’s an awesome cartharsis and just one of several on this album, which relies fairly liberally on such high crests and low valleys to tell the story.
The same goes for “Shane Vendrell,” a track whose backwards vocal loops remind me of classic Orbital; before long it reveals itself to actually be a punchy club-compatible track, with a pronounced kick stab and a big sweeping arrangement behind it. “Painkillers,” over ten minutes long, also bobs along with a 4/4 beat eventually, but again, it’s all layered in such a way that it honors the shoegaze and lush underpinnings of the trio’s style. ‘Hartes Herz” is a nice beatless post-rock outro, reinforcing the narrative arc of the album; indeed, this is music meant to be heard in sequence as a larger, sprawling idea. They keep the tracklist short and the tracks themselves are long, so it’s about an hour of music altogether, one that rewards repeat listens with intricate details and its rich majesty. Recommended listening.
Crystal Castles: “Plague” (III, 2012)
Fantastically dark lead clip from Crystal Castles’ third album. The video is inspired by the cult horror film The Possession (1981) which recently played at our local art-house theater.
Bola “Magnasushi” (Fyuti, 2001)
This track from Bola also appeared on the All Tomorrow’s Parties 3.0 double-disc, and it was mis-labeled in my iTunes library as Autechre’s track until I finally realized the mistake last night. (It took me a while to figure out who this was, then — imagine my surprise having had the track lingering in there for a decade.) It summarizes everything great about Bola’s music — timbral, emotive, melancholy, rhythmic, glitchy, and, most of all, gorgeous.
Machinedrum: Vapor City (Ninja Tune)
Travis Stewart’s follow-up to his stunning 2011 album Room(s) has taken some time to win me over. One reason it’s taken time to take hold of me is that Room(s) really wowed me in just how wildly different it sounded to me from Machinedrum’s early 00s material; I’d missed at least a couple along the way, and so I still had associated his sound largely with Prefuse 73-esque cut-up hip hop and downtempo tracks. Vapor City builds on the same lush palette of sounds Stewart explored with Room(s) and with Praveen Sharma as Sepalcure, touching on a variety of micro-genres like footwork and juke but this time fusing them with different elements like nods to jungle and chillwave.
Fans of Room(s) will find a lot to like here, and the shifts Stewart has made in his production are incremental and measured. Still, the skittery breakbeat of drum & bass is pronounced even as it takes a backseat to the uptempo bass music motifs that characterize many of its tracks. He also continues to exploit pitch-modulated vocal fragments and phrases in a way that is sounding less fresh every time to anyone who was surprised by Burial’s debut, but that doesn’t matter to me; the vocals always service his arrangements for the better, in my opinion. And so any lack of a powerful first impression is made up in patient listening with some really intricate production and effective arrangements. It’s also a very wise move that Stewart culled the track list down to only ten out of a purported 70 or so pieces he made in these sessions (the version I have includes a bonus track, “Overcome”). Only in closing track “Baby Its U” does it sound like a retread of his last outing; it certainly has plenty in common with the plucked and strummed guitar fallout of Room(s)’s “Come1,” but here it works quite well as an extended conclusion to the album. Elsewhere, smooth jam sounds find their way into subtly infectious tracks like “Center Your Love” and the downright jungly “Infinite Us.” At the core, though, Stewart’s knack for ascending chords and change-ups really guides the album. The most inspiring track of all perhaps falls in the center of playback; “Rise N Fall” soars with its nervous rhythm section and gliding vocals over a really satisfying low-end bassline. A downtempo chill-out track like “U Still Lie” is well positioned, preceding the more harrowing, frenzied arrangement of lead single “Eyesdontlie,” another stand-out among many.
Vapor City is another triumph from where I sit, an album that is best approached with a good pair of headphones and some patience to let it surround you. I’m curious to hear the trickle down of his other tracks — supposedly he may release more EPs or web-only content from these sessions — but as a fairly concise grouping of tracks and ideas, Vapor City is another resounding success.
South London Ordnance: He Do The Police In Different Voices (Aery Metals)
The latest deluxe EP from South London Ordnance builds and expands on the dark vibes of his Witch Hunt 12” from last year, with sounds that fall further outside of traditional dancefloor boundaries for the maiden voyage of his own new Aery Metals imprint. In that sense, He Do The Police has sort of two separate identities. Perhaps the closest match to the sounds of that previous outing are found in “Floating World,” with its swirling chords and deep bassline coupled against a clattering, almost industrial rhythm section.
A close second is the big room sound of “Obsidian,” a collaboration with Femme en Fourrure that ought to work well getting any ‘floor’s sweaty bodies moving.
In sharp contrast to that is “Black Acre,” a collaboration with vocalist Brolin, falling closer to 90s trip hop than any of the warehouse sounds of SLO’s other tracks I’ve heard. Chris Carter delivers a dubbed out remix of the track, pulsing with a dense treatment of the original’s groove and reverberated synths, ditching Brolin’s vocal completely.
There are two remixes of “Modular Splash” (the original is nowhere to be found), handled by Factory Floor and JD Twitch. Factory Floor’s remix is a prolonged tease, all delicate sequences with the suggestion of an impending anthem that just never happens. It’s awesomely tense and fairly bold, a remix that pines for the dancefloor but which is fundamentally less than compatible. JD Twitch delivers a typically stunning rework, though, aimed directly at the dancefloor and smartly touching on all of the various areas that the other tracks on the EP do. Vocal snippets stutter in time with a persistent, layered, dense set of sequences, anchored by a steady kick and a crisp snare. Its squirmy bassline and bright high-end synth patterns are what seal the deal, lending it that almost-off-the-rails crescendo and energy that he’s known for. It’s a somewhat schizophrenic release then, with so many different sounds and approaches colliding in a seemingly random order. But each track is engaging in its own right, and well worth a listen. If anything, it greatly expands my perception and expectations of SLO, far more than the couple of tracks I’d heard previously. An interesting and varied set of sounds for clubheads and beard-scratchers alike.