v/a: Lost & Found Vol. 1 (Dark Entries, 2020)

July 9, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: Lost & Found Vol. 1

For the most recent (and final? hopefully not) Bandcamp Friday, longtime TAIITB faves Dark Entries released Lost & Found Vol. 1, a collection of rare and unreleased tracks by ten of its artists. All proceeds go to the artists as well as Black Trans Youth Fund (which I just donated to in addition to buying the album, and I encourage you to do the same). Like much of the label’s recent output, this skews a lot closer to dance music (particularly acid house and analog techno) rather than post-punk and minimal wave, but there’s some of that too. Bézier’s “Fig” is racing, hi-NRG electro drama, then Bill Converse’s “Another Day” is a warm, fizzing bath of sparked-up pulsations. Billy Nightmare’s “106 Miles” is a fun, spooky travelogue filled with suspenseful organ and skittering beats. Borusiade follows her excellent recent album with another entrancing isolation ode. Doc Sleep’s tune is just sunny, day-cruising Detroit-esque techno and it’s beautiful. Group Rhoda resurface for the first time in years with the shadowy, curious “Neptune”, and a lost Detroit electro oddity is resurrected with Magnus II’s “Roctronic (Remix)”, pitting hard early-rap beats and space invader vocals with metal guitar chugging. The Maxx Mann track is a lo-fi synth pop gem and might be even better than the songs on the album that DE recently reissued. The Patrick Cowley track is just a short bit of drum machine covered in swirling effects, more a transition than anything else, but still worth including. Finally, Sepehr’s “Tribalism” is a tripped-out techno banger with dislocated voices flying at you from several angles. Due to both the pandemic as well as the world’s biggest lacquering plant burning down, Dark Entries has drastically reduced its release schedule this year, so until they’re back at something resembling their previous output, this is an absolute must for anyone who appreciates the label (and wants to support a worthy cause). It also might not be a bad time to explore anything the label has released during the past decade that you didn’t catch when it came out, since it’s all too easy to have lost track at some point.

v/a: Music in Support of Black Mental Health (2020)

July 8, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: Music in Support of Black Mental Health

Several fantastic benefit compilations have appeared on Bandcamp recently, often for the days in which the site has been giving all of its proceeds to the artists/labels, or to charity, as on Juneteenth. This one was compiled by Mike Paradinas and Lara Rix-Martin, but curiously they didn’t brand it as an official Planet Mu release or mention it on the label’s website. The proceeds are split between five charities in the U.S. and the U.K., particularly ones that provide therapy for Black queer and trans people, and all of the Black artists on the compilation were compensated for their work. Most of the contributors are from the current Planet Mu family, with a few other techno, IDM, and experimental club artists making appearances. The release kicks off with an excerpt from a collaborative piece by Speaker Music, Ariel Valdez & Catalina Cavelight, with frantic, clattering beats underpinning a righteous speech about the commodification of Black culture and music; the phrase “Let’s make techno Black again!” is repeated several times. For further illumination, Speaker Music’s recent Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry is also recommended. Beyond that, John Frusciante goes surprisingly hard with his storming drill’n’bass composition “Lyng Shake”, possibly a preview of his forthcoming release on Venetian Snares’ Timesig. FaltyDL goes back in sentimental jungle mode, and µ-Ziq attempts to create “Hip House Breakcore”, which somehow never happened before. Vladislav Delay’s “isosusi” continues in the direction of his astounding new album Rakka, delivering a tsunami of scattered voices and manic, distorted percussive glitch. Jlin works her magic on a piece by composer Michael Vincent Waller, and Jana Rush presents the original version of “Divine”, one of the highlights from her still-astounding 2017 release Pariah. Tracks by artists such as Zora Jones & Sinjin Hawke and Kuedo aren’t too different than their usual output (I honestly thought the Kuedo track had already been released before, maybe it’s an alternate version?), but the Felix Lee track is surprisingly bleak and noisy compared to the sadboi trap stuff on his album; I’d call this “cloud noise”, maybe, and I’m down with it. Likewise, the Sami Baha track is a definite evolution from the mutated trap of his underrated 2018 album, sounding much warmer and closer to ecstatic. Bogdan Raczynski’s “Average Banger” (agreed on the second part) sounds straight off of Boku Mo Wakaran, and I couldn’t possibly have a problem with that. Much like his recent Momentary Glow, FARWARMTH’s “Onwards, Forever” is a thing of beauty, with church-like organs and voices manipulated as samples, constantly clashing into each other, then being freed through rhythm and hand claps. An extraordinary amount of excellent music for an important cause, do support if you haven’t already.

Danny Clay: Ocean Park (laaps, 2020)

July 6, 2020 at 7:15 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Danny Clay: Ocean Park

Danny Clay makes gorgeous, expansive music using seemingly any tools available, including toys and found objects. Ocean Park, the fourth release on laaps (a successor to eilean rec.), is an ambient chamber work which continuously ebbs and flows. It’s played by a string trio and a harmonium player, with Clay utilizing a music box, combs, turntables, and his own voice. Some parts of it are gently frayed as if it’s all being played through an old gramophone or a decaying tape reel, yet it’s largely not as lo-fi-sounding as you would expect. The flowing strings are soothing, and the scratchy static noises are prevalent, but they still let the cleaner elements of the music breathe. I can only imagine audiophile classical music purists listening to this and being thoroughly confused and/or annoyed, but that speaks to my sensibilities. Incredibly lovely, especially the end.

Pauline Oliveros and Alan Courtis: Telematic Concert LP (Spleencoffin, 2020)

July 2, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Pauline Oliveros and Alan Courtis: Telematic Concert LP

This is the first-time release of a 2009 concert recorded at the Deep Listening Institute’s Dream Festival in 2009, virtually reuniting Oliveros with Alan Courtis of Reynols. Oliveros appeared in person, while Courtis was projected on screen behind her, digitally beamed in from Buenos Aires. Even though Oliveros played accordion (and “expanded instrument system”), the resulting improvisation is a far cry from the drone work she usually created using the instruments, and perhaps closer to her groundbreaking early electronic compositions. But it’s still on another level than that. Courtis brings waves and bursts of guitar feedback and noises from other sources; sometimes it crashes against Oliveros’ accordion playing, or outright obscures it, and other times they ride together. While most of the album feels like a gradual push/pull, the last few minutes alternate between eruptions of noise and stiff silence, taking the soundclash in its wildest directions.

The Exaltics & Heinrich Mueller: Dimensional Shifting (Solar One Music, 2020)

June 30, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

The Exaltics & Heinrich Mueller: Dimensional Shifting

The new album from German electro artist The Exaltics is a collaboration with Heinrich Mueller, and for all intents and purposes, it sounds like a new Drexciya or Dopplereffekt album. Okay, maybe it’s not as submerged as vintage Drexciya, but the spirit is there. It definitely has the one-take energy, even if the fidelity is a bit higher. Super-scientific electro that cruises easily through space and time, gliding stealthily on smoother tracks like “Time Aperture” while fizzing heavier on others like “Encoder”. Paris the Black Fu of Detroit Grand Pubahs (and now Techmarine Bottom Feeders) stops by to drop some science on the aquabahn-riding “Dimensional Shift”, and others feel like the rays of alien transmissions are starting to hit the receivers. It’s just incredibly excellent music, a must for all lovers of sci-fi electro.

Black Taffy: Opal Wand (Leaving Records, 2020)

June 29, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Black Taffy: Opal Wand

The newest album from the Dallas beatmaker has speaker-blasting rhythms draped in lavender veils of tape hiss and curdled lo-fi textures, with the melodies supplied by flutes and harps rather than synths, funky guitars, or any other instruments you might normally expect to hear in this type of boom-bap. There’s parts that remind me of the first Colleen album but with thumping beats. It’s a fantasy storybook dream tale which sounds on the verge of drifting away but the heavy bass and blunted drums are what keeps it grounded. Perfect mind-wandering music, but there’s still tracks like “A Foxes Wedding” which just stop you in your tracks due to their sheer beauty. Moments such as “Pillow Urchin” vaguely seem like ghostly premonitions, setting it apart from mere chill-out music. While this isn’t exactly trip-hop, I always feel like downtempo beats of that sort kind of lose the plot when they get too comforting and snug, and this is eerie enough not to fall into that trap, yet it’s also gorgeous as hell.

Brain Rays & Quiet: Butter (Seagrave, 2020)

June 26, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Brain Rays & Quiet: Butter

The low-end duo also known as Baconhead returns with some ace footwork/jungle hybrids. Brain Rays used to make breakcore as Ebola, and he released albums and EPs on Sublight, Wrong Music, Mutant Sniper, and a business card CD-r on Here’s My Card (!), so he has loads of experience making heavy, mutated breaks, but this is much closer to legit jungle/hardcore with a modern bent. “Hemlock” layers tons of complex polyrhythmic breaks over pads that are just calm enough to make it all glide smoothly. “Creeps” is firmly in footwork territory, with zero jungle throwback-ness, and it has a low-down swing which makes it feel like it’s walking on air. “Emeralds” starts out similarly, but then launches into high breakbeat pressure later on. “Crewcut Apex” builds up to more jumbled, crushing breaks and sets it off, and “Draco Mills” injects more of a rave flavor while retaining more current-sounding bass. “Delilah” is a little more washed out but still hyped. Really excellent stuff from two artists who work in a lot of other modes; Brian Rays has also released grime with London MC Louis King and a few EPs with wonky techno master Neil Landstrumm.

Nailah Hunter: Spells (Leaving Records, 2020)

June 24, 2020 at 7:24 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Nailah Hunter: Spells

The six tracks on the first release by Los Angeles-based artist Nailah Hunter all represent different spells and incantations. While all of the pieces are brief, they’re all carefully constructed, with every subtle sound and note carrying meaning and purpose, and they all transport the listener into a different yet familiar world. Her wondrous harp playing bubbles up to the surface on the mystifying opener “Soil: Song from Silence”, then “Ruins” is a tranquil lullaby with bending synths, chirping insects, and of course more delicate harp playing. “Enter” has some comforting vocals buried beneath the thin textural layers, and Hunter’s magnificent voice is a bit more audible on the ambient dream pop gem “White Flower, Dark Hill”, easily the highlight of the release. “Talisman” is sort of an aired-out, slightly blurry new wave bit which ends the release. Astonishingly beautiful music, hopefully the first of many transmissions from this world-conjuring artist.

Skymall: Fooled By Randomness (Beta Bodega Coalition, 2020)

June 21, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Skymall: Fooled By Randomness

I saw Skymall several times during the basement breakcore 2000s (I still have a mousepad he tossed into the crowd) and his sets were always riotous and exciting. He barely released any material (an EP on Doormouse’s Distort, remixes for Otto Von Schirach and Mochipet, this infamous Slayer/Cypress Hill-sampling rager) but now he’s finally released a lost album produced between 2001 and 2008, which means that he’s officially outlived his namesake. Making no attempt at any sort of linear progression, his tracks are stop-start bursts of gabber terror, sharpened hip-hop snippets, dissolving musique concrete interludes, and the odd ambient bit (“Floaters”). “Rubber Cement” sounds absolutely vicious and pulverizing for a few minutes until it turns into a cheery (but still quite lethal) chiptune jaunt… only to be torn down by gunfire. Two tracks with Dino Felipe add some cracked melodic textures to the sandpaper glitches. Any sense of tranquility induced by “Don’t Move” is immediately nullified by the flesh-scorching “Blank Stare”. Fooled By Randomness is a long-overdue document of one of extreme glitch music’s underappreciated artists.

Bay B Kane: Coronavirus Relief Pack (Ruff Guidance Records, 2020)

June 20, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Bay B Kane: Coronavirus Relief Pack

Jungle oldskooler Bay B Kane recently posted this name-your-price collection of over 2 hours of tracks he produced during the past decade or so. Right from the start, the alphabetically arranged tracklist jumps from trap-tinged breaks to chilled-out R&B hardstepping yet atmospheric NYC rap. Kane helped originate jungle, having released his first EPs in 1992, but his sound has always evolved and incorporated up-to-date influences while remaining true to the sound of classic jungle. Both old and new school DJs will find much of use here. Generally, these tracks don’t go for break choppage overload, but they’re still forceful and highly detailed. There’s still some crushing breaks here though, like on the slower, sax-y “River Nijer” VIP, or the killer “Hello Darkness” VIP, both finely tuned ruffage. “Past Tense”, another slower paced track, is a hit of dark, abstract trippiness with slicing, metallic breaks. “Peace & Destruction” sums a lot of this up nicely: some calm atmospherics, but lots of deep bass and killer breaks. I think you get to idea, there’s a lot to savor here if you’re a dyed in the wool junglist.

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