Maxx Mann: s/t LP (Red Dog Productions, 1982/reissued by Dark Entries, 2020)

April 6, 2020 at 7:14 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Maxx Mann: s/t LP

This is the first-ever reissue of a 1982 obscurity by vocalist Frank Oldham Jr. and producer/musician Paul Hamman. The music is campy, over-the-top new wave with explicitly homoerotic lyrical themes, particularly during the obsessive fetish-fest “Leather Man”. Oldham’s vocals are nearly Broadway-ready, and the music is catchy and detailed, and played with tons of energy. “Like a Killer (True Love Is Always True)” is a perky ode to a love which will live forever throughout the universe, but the definite highlight is “Our Love Won’t Last The Night”, one of those songs that will instantly stick in your head forever the first time you hear it. There’s only four songs, but the instrumentals (with backing vocals) for all of them are included, and “Bloody and Blue” works better as a sleek disco tune without the lyrics.

Linea Aspera: Preservation Bias LP (Dark Entries, 2019)

April 5, 2020 at 11:22 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Linea Aspera: Preservation Bias LP

Linea Aspera were one of the absolute best bands of the minimal synth revival early in the 2010s. They broke up shortly after the release of their 2012 cult classic debut album, but reformed last year. This isn’t a new album but a collection of remastered tracks which appeared on their first 2 cassettes and a compilation. Like the first album, this is absolutely flawless coldwave synth-pop, with icy synth arrangements and black-lipstick vocals. The title track is a different version of a song that appeared on the album, but otherwise these are all unfamiliar to me. There’s several storming darkwave anthems, like “Attica” and “Antipodean Tedium”, but there’s also a noisy diversion in “Kinabalu”, which starts out tense and racing, then surprisingly derails into coarse, pulsating static, stretching over seven minutes. “Detachment” is a brisk, brittle ode to alienation which is also spiked with bits of searing noise. “Royal Straight” is kind of a drifting instrumental which ends with a cartoony gunshot. “Vultures” is another pounder with a commanding “Sound the alarm!” hook. Excited to hear any new material from them, if they produce any.

Fear-E: Grey Skies In A Dear Green Place 12″ EP (Dark Entries, 2020)

April 4, 2020 at 11:59 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Fear-E: Grey Skies In A Dear Green Place 12″ EP

Glasgow’s Fear-E makes house music that’s both menacing and ecstatic, buzzing with fury and excitement. It’s all in the name, really. Last year’s “Jump On The House Train” was a delirious track with a hip-house flavor straight out of the late ’80s, and it’s exactly the type of thing that automatically triggers a huge grin on my face. His first EP for Dark Entries is graced by dystopian artwork by Detroit’s Alan Oldham, legendary for his sleeve and label art for labels like Transmat and Djax-Up-Beats as well as his own hard, stripped-down productions. “Puro” starts the record with a sinister peak-time prowler, which pauses for a moment to build suspense, then launches back at full force. “Acid Conversion 5” is simply a tough acid bath with pounding beats and sample commanding you to get on the floor and dance the night away. “Distant Past, Still In The Future” is tense, prickly techno which barrels through like a steam engine. “Craig’s Wee Sweet Shop” is a piece of hard candy with swirls of sugary rave synths. “Approach It Like A ’90s DnB Banger” isn’t what its title suggests, it has nothing to do with jungle/drum’n’bass, but it does have a lush, sparkling texture which counters the more biting, jacked-up synth pattern. “The Mouth From The South” is a smooth transition into Drexciyan electro — hard, racing beats but some of the calmer synth pads on the release. All of these tracks are strictly club material, riding for a certain amount of bars before switching to another pattern, and keeping the energy at the appropriate level.

TV.OUT: Dusk Till Dawn 12″ EP (Dark Entries, 2019)

April 3, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

TV.OUT: Dusk Till Dawn 12″ EP

Tel Aviv duo TV.OUT produce heavy, paranoid club tracks which make you glance over your shoulder. They recently released two 12″s on L.I.E.S., and this is their first EP on Dark Entries. Immediately, it starts out with the type of dark, creeping electro you might expect from Dutch labels Viewlexx and Murder Capital. “Sun” has a more pounding techno beat, but with jittery sequencers and a continued suspicion that things are heading in a grim direction. “War Zone” is an absolute bomb, just the type of electro track you want to play as loud as possible and make the earth crumble. “Lord” is just straight ahead, stalking EBM techno. “Product of My Environment” has slow kicks and an array of delay-scattered percussive strikes, coming a bit closer to new beat. “Slippery Slope” ends the EP with one more evil electro tune, this time with a spine-chilling siren wailing through it. All tracks are excellent, but the electro ones are truly the ones that stand out most.

Shcuro: Particle of Memory 12″ EP (Dark Entries, 2020)

March 30, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Shcuro: Particle of Memory 12″ EP

Part of the same Lisbon club scene as Violet and Photonz, who both released excellent albums on Dark Entries last year, Shcuro makes grim yet sparkling dance tracks joining the circuits of hard electro, techno, and EBM. “Afterlife” kicks this EP off with steely yet bouncy electro, featuring seductive vocals by ELLES. The following “Decadent Dub” of the same song emphasizes the track’s detailed, striking beatwork. “Left at Dawn” is much heavier and snappier, folding some almost shoegaze-like blown-out melodies into its cold, lacerating beats. “Can’t Let Go” has a faster, more restless beat which is made all the more tense with frequent pauses, ending up a sort of future ballroom-electro. “The Predator’s Dream” is haunting, subterranean electro which growls and prowls, but in a chic way. Lastly, “Is It Real” is one of the EP’s spaciest cuts, bouncing with heavy kicks and sideways raygun blasts.

Chris Russell: Destiny (Spotted Peccary, 2020)

March 29, 2020 at 10:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Chris Russell: Destiny

Chris Russell’s third Spotted Peccary release is a frankly astonishing set of slow-moving dark ambient pieces which make you feel like you’re gradually sinking into the chasms of your mind. It’s vast and filled with mystery, and while it could seem cold, distant, or foreboding, it actually ends up being incredibly soothing, especially as I’m stuck at home for an indefinite amount of time. This has definitely been some of my default “getting through all this” music, this and Burial. I feel like this provides the sort of replenishing and healing qualities that new age music is supposed to, but without the yoga instructor cliches often attached to it. It’s dark and light and glowing and strange and beautiful and it’s making me feel like we’re all going to get through this and it’s all going to be okay. “The Path Less Traveled” is the most memorable and probably the most Projekt-sounding piece here, but it’s all equally stunning, and all gives you that “slowly melting into eternity” feeling.

Red Axes: Voom 12″ EP (Dark Entries, 2019)

March 28, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Red Axes: Voom 12″ EP

Previewing their upcoming third album, Israel’s Red Axes bring some steady beats and acid on this 4-track 12″. While their last album was a wild mixture of psych-pop, lounge, and disco, this EP contains strictly DJ-friendly club tracks, edging between new beat and analog acid house with some trance creeping in. “Voom” is direct and slightly breaky, while “Dosa” stretches out a bit more. “Mister Q” is where the record really takes off, however, seeming to break free and just rocket outwards. Easily an entry into the pantheon of classic dance tracks which mention the letter Q (including “The Voice of Q” by Q, and “Theme from Q” by Objekt). “Prblems” is longer and trancier, and feels like a much more gradual transformation to an elevated state.

DJ FLP: 33451 12″ EP (3345, 2020)

March 24, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

DJ FLP: 33451 12″ EP

DJ FLP’s first vinyl release is on a new Vanity Press sublabel, presenting records playable at either 33 or 45 RPM. Or maybe there’s 1 side pressed at 33 and the other at 45? I’m not sure, I only have a digital promo so far, not the actual record yet. Regardless, FLP is Ann Arbor’s #1 juke aficionado, and these are tightly constructed, complex yet smooth tracks balancing footwork with drum’n’bass. “Liquid 2020” is aquamarine holographic rave music, flitting between breaks and hypercharged hi-hats. Ariana Grande glides throughout the slick but slippery “Ariana”, and the more ghetto house-leaning “Kush Cloud” is jittery but euphoria-buzzed. “Save File” (featuring “Ariana” co-producer Joon) is a delicate banger with bubbly watercolor synths and some slamming Amen breaks at just the right moments. Bonus track “Otherside” is much closer to the original, rawer Chicago-style footwork rather than the more hybridized post-Teklife developments. Nothing but quality here, do not miss this one!

{arsonist}: Reality Structure tape (Unifactor Tapes, 2020)

March 23, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

{arsonist}: Reality Structure tape

Part of Pittsburgh’s thriving experimental electronic scene, {arsonist} composes mathematically derived destruction on her first album. There’s some fractured beats and prismatic sounds you might expect from deconstructed club music, but there’s also rich, foliage-like strings and saxophones, growing past decayed electronic noise into a sort of digital contemporary classical music. Her vocals poke out on two occasions, first on the gentle shadowscape “Till Human Voices Wake Us”. “Suppose We’re Hypnagogic Elopers” starts out bright and fluid, kind of like Foxdye’s ambient work, before rushing into a heady noise standstill. Then “Projecting Into Phantasmagoric Subspace” carries out the rest of the album, beginning with soft, swooping vocals and star-synths, then erupting into a fantastic supernova later on. Truly remarkable music for cosmic rebirth.

Little Snake: YADTC (Brainfeeder, 2020)

March 22, 2020 at 11:03 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Little Snake: YADTC

Little Snake’s track on the Brainfeeder X compilation completely blindsided me. Just totally futuristic broken beat sound design mayhem which seemed to be propelling in thousands of different directions. The mysterious artist has released a few EPs, and this newest one is sort of a mini-symphony. Four movements, most of which are around 10 minutes, and they vary in pace from moment to moment, with long stretches of drawn-out beats, periods where it’s fast and frantic, and others where it’s arrhythmic and patience-testing. The artist seems to constantly dare the listener to keep up, and it’s hard to tell where you are in relation to what’s happening — there’s lots of quickly disappearing and re-appearing Cheshire Cat-like sounds and voices. And at least one completely ridiculous drop.

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