Argiflex: ∆Orb (Commodity Fetish Records, 2020)

January 17, 2021 at 3:01 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Argiflex: ∆Orb

Celeste Lehr’s live electronics project Argiflex has been amalgamating various styles and aesthetics for over a decade. There’s a bit of a DIY noise scene anarchy to what she does, but it’s clearly inspired by dance music culture more than anything else. ∆Orb is her latest album, and it’s a fantastic set of tightly controlled yet chaotic compositions filled with expansive, atmospheric synths and crowd-moving rhythms. A track like “PURE FLATLANDS” is an excellent example of how her tracks are so transporting. It starts out with 4/4 beats, then acid lines and trancey pads build and become sharper and more ecstatic. There’s a breakdown with a friendly, MIDI-sounding slap bassline, then the atmospheric synths creep in again. Some screeching noises seep in, and then some absolutely crushing Amen breaks take over, and it’s just incredibly raw and exciting. Just the entire way she builds up these dream worlds and then smashes these heavy breakbeats on them and switches back to something more precious and delicate, it’s such a perfect release, like just being pent up with stress and then just screaming your guts out. But also besides that, it sounds absolutely beautiful. Also, it ends with a Primus cover/remix which ends up working way better than the idea sounds on paper.

v/a: MARBLE BAR – PANDEMANIA RELIEF (AN EMPLOYEE BENEFIT COMPILATION) (Marble Wax2Max, 2020)

January 16, 2021 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: MARBLE BAR – PANDEMANIA RELIEF (AN EMPLOYEE BENEFIT COMPILATION)

Marble Bar quickly became one of Detroit’s best venues for dance music after it opened in 2015. I can’t even count how many amazing DJs and performers I’ve seen there: Jeff Mills, Tony Allen, Josey Rebelle, Lone, LTJ Bukem, Titonton Duvanté, AceMo, Color Plus… it’s just the place to be whenever something’s happening there. Of course the venue has been closed since the pandemic started, so they’ve started a label and released an employee benefit compilation featuring dozens of artists, from Detroit and abroad, who have played there. Much of it is techno or house, of course, but there’s a few tracks from other genres. Luke Vibert dons his Amen Andrews moniker for the Jetsons-sampling “riotously rhapsodic rhythms”, which is an absolute blockbuster, like most of his jungle material. I missed him the last time he played at the bar because my car was about to die and I had to drive home and get it repaired the next day. Tracks by hometown legends like Andrés, DJ Minx, Hotwaxx Hale, and Terrence Parker are Detroit house at its most sublime. Anja Schneider’s “Hometown” brings the dark tunnel rave vibes, and producers like DJ T-1000 and Norm Talley similarly get down to business. Ataxia and Mister Joshooa sample Q-Tip’s guest appearance on the Beastie Boys’ “Get It Together” for a cheeky breakbeat funk track. The Brian Kage track is a bit more hands-in-the-air. Chuck Daniels’ “Traffic” turns blaring car horns into techno sirens. Ellen Allien’s “Gender Fluid” is one of the hardest tracks she’s made since the ’90s. Juju & Jordash bring a taste of their live performances with the astoundingly gorgeous “de school”. Rebecca Goldberg’s track is rougher, tenser, and more on edge, and Terrence Dixon works in somewhat of an “Art of Stalking” mode but glances toward another galaxy. Oh, and the indispensable Todd Osborn closes out the track listing. This album isn’t quite a substitute for dancing under a revolving mirrorball skull in an extended boxcar tent, but it’s a great way to support Detroit’s own mini-Fabric, and it’s an excellent stash of fresh tracks for any stuck-at-home DJ.

wzrdryAV: West Coast Systems (Line, 2020)

January 14, 2021 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

wzrdryAV: West Coast Systems

Vancouver’s Kelly Claude Nairn makes ambient dub that feels like a gentle rainbath, yet whisks you away somewhere else when you aren’t paying attention. A longtime close collaborator with the warped dub crew Seekers International, he released two tapes on Digitalis Limited before they fell off the face of the earth (Foxy Digitalis hath returned though!), and his latest album is on Richard Chartier’s drone/microsound label Line. More than anything else, this is just incredibly soothing music, but it’s far from paint-by-numbers ambient. The textures are constantly shifting far off the grid, and there’s always unexpected tweaks, rifts, and drops. It’s super refreshing if you just lay back and immerse yourself in it, but deep listening will reveal just how strange it is, almost restlessly so. And it really does benefit if you turn it up loud rather than let it dribble away at low volume in the background. It just comes at you like waves in multiple directions. In the right performance space this would be astonishing live, but for now we’ll just have to settle with blasting this out towards the sun.

Collin Sherman: Arc of a Slow Decline (Ex-Tol Recordings, 2020)

January 12, 2021 at 7:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Collin Sherman: Arc of a Slow Decline

New York-based jazz musician Collin Sherman is essentially a virtual band, recording improvised multi-tracked pieces with the discipline of a full ensemble. His twelfth album is a double-disc set, with the first containing lengthy pieces filled with sax and clarinet solos and modular synthesizers, although the electronic elements aren’t always obvious unless you’re paying close attention. Vibraphones give opener “Prey Upon the Flock” a bit of a loungey feel, and other moments sort of touch on klezmer, although maybe my brain is just programmed to think “klezmer” whenever I hear jazz clarinet. “Sycophant Parade” is less melodic and more ominous than other tracks on the first disc, but overall, these pieces are structured enough so that the improvisations coherently follow a guided path, and it’s not free jazz cacophony. After the raucous “Federal Occupation” ends the first half of the album, the second disc is starker and less rhythmic, usually just focusing on naked soloing and patient but less commanding drumming, with some synth textures contributing to the atmosphere. Two pieces include bowed gamelan in their instrument lists, with “Caesium Sculptures” being a swampy collage of strange plucks and burbles. “Sequestration Blues” brings back the drums, and is kind of a sleazy, untethered swing tune, and the concluding “Polar Ticks” is a mellow lament with vibraphone, although it rumbles a bit more towards the end.

Machinecode: Every Ones & Nothings (YUKU, 2020)

January 11, 2021 at 10:16 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Machinecode: Every Ones & Nothings

Drum’n’bass heavyweight Current Value has been joining forces with Dean Rodell, British techno-turned-d’n’b producer and owner of several labels, as Machinecode since the late 2000s, exploring everything from industrial techno to seismic dubstep. Their newest album is on the outer limits of drum’n’bass, with complex beat patterns which seem to tiptoe around danceability, but stop short of going full throttle. It keeps you guessing, in other words. It’s propulsive, to be sure, but it’s never obvious where it’s going. They’ve left the really bombastic bass behind, but there’s still some seizure-inducing moments like the spiraling bass quavers of “MJ-12”. “Everyone’s & Nothing’s” flips the tempo upside down, maintaining the atmosphere of d’n’b but moving at sort of a stunned hip-hop speed. Aside from the rhythms, there’s usually more spacious drones than melodies, combining to create a sensation that’s tense but also unmoored.

Show #564 – 1/10/21 – RIP MF DOOM

January 10, 2021 at 10:56 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

1-10-21 RIP MF DOOM
King Geedorah ~ Fazers
MF DOOM ~ Rhymes Like Dimes
Madvillain ~ Money Folder
MF DOOM ~ Kon Queso
Viktor Vaughn ~ Raedawn
DOOM ~ Lightworks
King Geedorah ft. Gigan ~ Krazy World
KMD ~ It Sounded Like a Roc
Madvillain ~ Space Ho’s Coast to Coast [the Madvillainy 2 version]
JJ DOOM ~ Guv’nor
MF DOOM feat. MF Grimm ~ Tick, Tick…
Czarface & MF DOOM ~ Captain Crunch
KMD ~ Constipated Monkey
King Geedorah ft. Jet-Jaguar and Rodan ~ No Snakes Alive
Madvillain ~ Meat Grinder
MF DOOM ~ I Hear Voices (Part One)
Czarface & MF Doom ~ Don’t Spoil It
DOOM ~ That’s That

Time Being: An Ocean of Time (Spotted Peccary, 2020)

January 10, 2021 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Time Being: An Ocean of Time

Third album from the space music duo consisting of Jourdan Laik and the considerably more prolific Philip Wilkerson. Generally, this is the sort of slow-moving but richly textured ambient music which seems determined to dissolve the boundaries of time. Much of it is similar to Steve Roach’s relaxing space-scapes, while acoustic-sounding melodies pop up during others, with some moments sounding closer to Forrest Fang. The last 3 tracks are long space epics, and there’s not much else to say other than that this is good to relax, dream, or meditate to. “Momentary Illusions” sounds like it has guitars similar to Slowdive’s Pygmalion.

Slikback: /// + /// II (self-released, 2020)

January 9, 2021 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Slikback: ///

For certain fans of experimental electronic music, Kenyan superpower Slikback releasing 60 tracks within a week was one of the major events of the year. He later played several of these tracks during his blinding set as part of Nyege Nyege 2020, but they’re just as powerful by themselves. /// is particularly fascinating, and has some of his most fiery work overall. He’s impossible to box into one style, but there’s beat rushes similar to footwork (“FIO”, “WAXFIGURE”, “WEINASSETS”), speedcore with African drum rhythms (“WA1023”), and experimental pieces that sound like amplified sharpening knives (“DESCEND”). With a handful of exceptions, all of the tracks are short, and some of them are acknowledged as being sketches rather than finished works, but even as rough snapshots, they demonstrate an enviable level of creativity. The second third has a stretch of tracks that seem like trap, but add heavier details, switch tempos, combine with other club rhythms, and ultimately just become something else. Tracks with STSK and Swordman Kitala (the skeletal dancehall cut “CARDIBLACK”) show his inventive approaches to producing rap as well.

Slikback: /// II

/// II has a few more collaborations and remixes/edits of other artists. It’s also a bit shorter and feels more outtakey than the first part, to be honest. It also leans a bit harder on trap-style beats, which I’m not really the biggest fan of. But there’s still more than enough interesting material to make it worthwhile. Tracks like “NCPA” are intense enough to be gabber but have their energies directed differently, and I appreciate stuff like that. “RUKIA” is one of the definite highlights, accelerating from footwork with scattered ribbons of voices. “HEADLESS” is one of his better club tracks, and his Bamba Pana remix is a somewhat more functional club-tooled version of the hyperspeed singeli sound.

Monogoto: Partial Deletion Of Everything (Vol 1) (12k, 2020)

January 8, 2021 at 6:57 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Monogoto: Partial Deletion Of Everything (Vol 1)

The first release by the trio of Ian Hawgood, Porya Hatami, and David Newman is a 35-minute piece titled “Iuxta Mare [deletion 5]”. While all flowing down the same stream, the piece melds a lot of different sounds and approaches, from acoustic plucks to tattering effects and modular synth textures, and it sounds both carefully assembled and dreamlike happenstance. The decaying downward swoops and the intricate reversed notes, among other sounds, all give this one some character. It also floats far away from where it starts and goes through lots of changes which are hard to pick out individually — no hairpin turns, just subtle, constant evolution. It unmistakably sounds like a collaboration, as there’s such a wide range of ideas that one person seemingly wouldn’t have come up with on their own, but it’s a cohesive one that promises more paths yet to be taken.

Coco Bryce: Ma Bae Be Luv EP + Deep Into The Jungle EP (Lobster Theremin, 2020)

January 7, 2021 at 8:18 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Coco Bryce: Ma Bae Be Luv EP

Much like fellow Dutch producer FFF, Coco Bryce is one of the leading lights of the neo-jungle scene, yet he’s actually been mashing it up in a bunch of different styles for decades. His two recent EPs on Lobster Theremin both feature tracks that are warm and comforting but still have a dark side to them. The cartoon artwork on the labels fit, but it’s still sincere rather than jokey or ironic. Ma Bae Be Luv starts off with a Supremes-sampling title track, which is cuddly enough, but “Blue Tile Lounge” and “Smoke Screen” are a touch darker, with the latter crossing acid synths with hardcore breaks and Reese bass. “Get Shwifty” has heavier beat choppage and some punchdrunk horn samples, and just a little more junglist fire than the other tracks on the EP.

Coco Bryce: Deep Into The Jungle EP

Deep Into The Jungle is ruffer and darker from the beginning, with “Flight Six Six Six” built around samples of a doomed flight, and the synths a bit more warped and menacing. “Vegan Library” isn’t so heavy, and quite delectable, but “Deep Into The Jungle” is filled with crickets and swarming breakbeats, and a child’s voice saying “I wanna stay in the jungle!” “Only When I’m Dreaming” floats rather than crushes, and sums the EP up nicely: this is jungle for dreamers rather than roughnecks.

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