I barely remember this band’s debut, but I reviewed it for the radio station when it came out and apparently I thought it was decent but very hipster, very Pitchfork, very post-this-and-that-and-Animal-Collective. I’ve pretty much forgotten about it, though, so listening to this band with fresh ears, this new album sounds pretty good. It still brings to mind plenty of other things that have been some degree of fashionable for the past few years, but the band seems closer to having their own sound. It just sticks out more, and the songs are more memorable. Some cool trip-hop beats (“Fall In” is just groovy), some sensuous grooves, kind of like a more perky version of the new HTRK album (especially “Foxglove”), and “Holographic” totally sounds like mid-90s IDM, but with vocals and more song structure. This band toured with Purity Ring, and “Something In The Water” reminds me of that band the most. “Mythnomer” has some slow, sick beats and obscured, filthy rapping. “Waiting For The Ground To Open” is an airy ballad with thumb piano and hand drums. “Captcha” ends the album with a captivating drum machine ballad. It’s one of 5 tracks on the album that features harp, but this is the one where it seemed most effective to me, with the second closest being the intro to “Holographic”.
Loose, casual, playful collaborative LP between Jan Jelinek’s most well-loved pseudonym, and the lesser-known but equally prolific James Din A4 (Dennis Busch). Has kind of a gritty, grainy feel to it, and occasionally some trippy rhythms (just try dancing to “Heimkehr Der Vulgaren”). Lots of stray voices trapped in the machine, and looped and processed beyond recognition or comprehension. There’s also a few bizarre beatless interludes, the oddest being the disturbing chanting of “Rettung”. “Please Excuse My Face” sounds like a microhouse track arranged with a part for dot matrix printer, with discordant noise bursts smoothed into a constant rhythm. Otherwise, lots of dubby, bubbly minimal techno which doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Dark Entries vinyl reissue of the first album from Uwe Schmidt’s early-’90s electro-industrial project, which was a far cry from his later work as Atom Heart, Senor Coconut, and close to a hundred other names. Even close to 25 years ago, he still had such an acute mastery of technology, there’s definitely the building blocks for the later hyper-glitchy sound he’d become known for, but instead of fusing it with Latin music, gospel, or classic rock, this is clearly identifiable as coldwave electro-industrial, with distorted monotone vocals and all. The rhythms here change on a dime, this is hard music to DJ or dance to. Even the more ambient tracks like “Transitory” don’t stick to one sound, and change pretty unexpectedly. The first 4 tracks are all over 6 minutes and get pretty sprawling, but everything after than is under 5 minutes, and maybe a bit more accessible. “Mortal Immortal” is maybe the most straightforward track here, with a stomping beat and circuit-bent Speak’N’Spell vocals, which also feature on the slower, trippier following track, “Rotation Mécanique”. “Velocity Life” sounds like Kraftwerk’s “Pocket Calculator” hobbling with a fractured leg, and more Depeche Mode-like vocals. This LP issue contains a bonus 7″, featuring a remix by Pink Elln (Tobias Freund of NSI) and an incredible downtempo track called “Relate”, which sounds way more chillout than you’d expect from industrial music of that era.
This is actually the vinyl issue of an album that came out on CD in 2010 on Artoffact Records, but this version contains half as many tracks as the CD, which had lots of remixes and additional tracks that aren’t on this release. But this is an archival release of music by legendary Canadian industrial band Psyche, recorded in 1983 with Dwayne Goettel, who would eventually be known as a key member of Skinny Puppy, as well as many of their side projects (Hilt, Doubting Thomas, Tear Garden, Download, etc.). As with a lot of Dark Entries releases of early material by bands that would end up becoming more famous and commercial, this is raw, noisy, lo-fi early ’80s synth music, recorded to cassette or 4-track, with primitive drum machines, naive vocals, heaps of distortion, and plenty of isolation-induced panic. Two different versions of the song “Torture” bookend the release, the “alternative mix” featuring a rougher sound and spoken word intro, and both mixes featuring air-raid siren synths and pained screaming. There’s also two versions of “Krieg”, a sleeker, midtempo track that could be from a less active scene of an action movie or show, with spoken lyrics about, what else, isolation. “Eye Of The Hurricane” and “The Crawler Theme” are more soundtrack-like instrumentals (there’s also a vocal version of “The Crawler”), and “Screaming Fire” is an excellent Skinny Puppy-ish noisy industrial-punk song, easily my favorite on the album.
Spectrum Spools’ latest uncovering from the American synth underground, this is the newest album from Chicago-based artist Brett Naucke. This is an incredibly diverse modular synth album, which is even more impressive given that all of the tracks were recorded using the same synth patch. “Up From the Sun” starts out sounding like it’s slowly peeling away at something, until it finally reveals a source of light. “Luau” starts with some rocketship-console blips, then happens upon a 3-dimensional abstract rhythm, with floating spectre-like vocals. “Pala” trickles in at first, bumping into a strong, bass-heavy rhythm, and drizzling fluid synth tones and melodies over everything. “Sorrel & Grays” is a more exploratory piece, which uses tabla rhythms, and drifts about wide-eyed in open space. “Lost Inside Your Houses” is more shut-in and paranoid as its title suggests, feeling like it can’t get out of a locked basement, and there’s no light, so it can’t see what’s crawling around the floor. “Harp Of The Evening Garden” has traces of muffled voices and radio dial flipping, and another clicky IDM rhythm. “Transmission From The Evening Garden” feels even more scrambled, with more strange voices and frazzled sounds. “Seed” ends the album with lots of colorful, bubbling Bee Mask-like tones, slowly building up with bright, shimmering waves, and then all suddenly melting away as the album ends. It should be noted that this album is a great headphone listen, lots of strange miniature sounds buzzing from ear to ear.
4th album on Raster-Noton from producer David Letellier. His tracks verge from rough-edged techno to dark industrialisms, providing minimal knocking beats as well as stark atmospheres. Opener “Serendipity March” slowly trudges for a few minutes before a thumping 4/4 kicks in. Two short interludes called “The River” bookend “Evento”, probably the most progressive techno track on the album. But then there’s the glorious void-stare that is “Blank Empire”, a vibrating coil of a track which segues gracefully into the distorted ambient wash of “L’envoi”. “Amber Decay” follow, a dark stomping techno track with a sticky beat which sounds like there’s some (virtual) gum stuck to the kick drum, and features a goth melody along with corroded, spiraling textures. These take over for the ambient “Apogee”, then this tumbles into the downtempo, dubby “History of Obscurity”. The hazy cosmos melody of “Crystal” leads into the fizzing, stumbling “Transitional Ballistics”, and the album ends with “Son”, which pushes a decayed ember of a melody through a light beat pattern which shows up two minutes into the track, before expiring altogether.
Second album from Italian experimental techno producer Luca Mortellaro, who I thought I saw at DEMF last year but I heard later that he cancelled at the last minute, so I have no clue who I saw instead. But he’s playing this year with Speedy J. As with his first album, this is excellent, kind of dark abstract techno, with only a few tracks that can really be called dance music. It’s a lot closer to early ’90s Artificial Intelligence releases on Warp. “Follow The Leader” starts with static-y clicking, then gets a shuffling 4/4 beat, and has all sorts of weird chanting in the background. “The Illusion Of Choice” is the only other track with a straightforward 4/4 beat, and it’s relentless. Other than that, lots of complex, clicky rhythms. “Catch Twenty Two” is a slower tempo and the beat sounds like it’s struggling to get up and walk. “We Live As We Dream” has another static-like beat that sounds like it’s tapping out some sort of code, and abstract, overlapping synth melodies. “All That Noise” is even further out, with cosmic star-trail synths and crushed tribal drums. “The Best Selling Show” has a super-skittery beat pattern, slathered in echo, along with the smeared, gelatinous synth melodies. The album ends with “Falling”, an ethereal ambient ballad (with ukulele!) which is not a Julee Cruise cover but might as well be.
3:00 AM Oneohtrix Point Never ~ Music For Steamed Rocks ~ Commissions I ~ Warp
3:04 AM Mind Over Mirrors ~ Emblem ~ 7″ ~ Dirty Knobby
3:08 AM Lost Here… ~ Waiting For The Morphine To Start Working (The TV Is Full Of Bad News) ~ Hospital Music ~ Fur Tuxedo
3:13 AM Christopher Bissonnette ~ Entanglements ~ Essays In Idleness ~ Kranky
3:16 AM Brett Naucke ~ Lost Inside Your Houses ~ Seed ~ Spectrum Spools
3:21 AM Fennesz ~ Bécs ~ Bécs ~ Editions Mego
3:26 AM Orcas ~ Petrichor ~ Yearling ~ Morr Music
3:32 AM Connect_icut ~ 74 Guitars ~ Small Town By The Sea ~ Aagoo
3:37 AM Known Moons & Cloakfern ~ Noonenoone ~ tape ~ The Venue Child/Diagram Diagrams
3:46 AM Jonas Reinhardt ~ Airhouse ~ Ganymede ~ Constellation Tatsu
3:51 AM Golden Retriever ~ Flight Song ~ Seer ~ Thrill Jockey
3:57 AM Koen Holtkamp ~ Crotales ~ Motion ~ Thrill Jockey
4:01 AM On A Clear Day ~ live at Modular Equinox 3/22/14 ~ .wav ~ adhoc.fm
4:24 AM Jon Porras ~ New Monument ~ Light Divide ~ Thrill Jockey
4:29 AM Lewis Fautzi ~ Other Planet ~ The Gare Album ~ Soma
4:36 AM Millie & Andrea ~ Spectral Source ~ Drop The Vowels ~ Modern Love
4:43 AM Chrome Sparks ~ Star Step ~ Goddess ~ Future Classic
4:47 AM Trees ~ What’s Left ~ Rootwork ~ Lovemonk
4:52 AM Dorval & Devereaux ~ Solar Surfing ~ Dorval & Devereaux tape ~ Moon Glyph
4:55 AM Schonwald ~ Mercurial ~ 7″ ~ HoZaC
4:58 AM Kangding Ray ~ L’envoi ~ Solens Arc ~ Raster-Noton
5:01 AM Fear Of Men ~ Atla ~ Loom ~ Kanine
5:03 AM Heterotic featuring Vezelay ~ Lumber ~ Weird Drift ~ Planet Mu
5:07 AM The Space Lady ~ Slapback Boomerang ~ The Space Lady’s Greatest Hits ~ Night School
5:10 AM Half Japanese ~ High School Tonight ~ Loud (from Volume One: 1981-1985 box set) ~ Fire
5:12 AM Psyche ~ Screaming Fire ~ Re-Membering Dwayne ~ Dark Entries
5:16 AM Lassigue Bendthaus ~ Velocity Life ~ Matter ~ Dark Entries
5:20 AM Crash Course In Science ~ Flying Turns ~ Signals From Pier Thirteen ~ Dark Entries
5:24 AM SSLEEPERHOLD ~ Ruleth ~ Ruleth ~ Holodeck/Light Lodge
5:30 AM Lucy ~ Leave Us Alone ~ Churches Schools And Guns ~ Stroboscopic Artefacts
5:37 AM Krokofant ~ Thispair ~ Krokofant ~ Rune Grammofon
5:42 AM Blaerg ~ Recursive Iteration I – Benevolent Charlatan ~ Stimulation Over Stagnation ~ Reject Records
5:48 AM Squarepusher x Z-Machines ~ Sad Robot Goes Funny ~ Music For Robots ~ Warp
5:53 AM patten ~ Agen ~ ESTOILE NAIANT ~ Warp
5:57 AM Todd Terje ~ Alfonso Muskedunder ~ It’s Album Time ~ Olsen
This one’s been a Crush Collision favorite of mine lately. Total staring-into-the-void techno. Minimal, pounding beats, drifting atmospheres, machine tones, no melodies, no emotion. Actually, “The Other Side of Reality” has a slight bit of an eerie melody, and kind of a skippy beat. And there’s a few shorter, more interlude-y tracks (“Signal”, “Opaque”, “Psychiatric”) which have little to no beats. And then the final track (“Other Planet”) is a stunning step onto another planet’s soil, reminiscent of the best non-dancefloor experimental ’90s techno. Sounds very soothing to my ears.
Second album from UK DJ/producer who made his name doing disco edits, and on this album is doing minimal tech-house with analog synths. Mostly steady midtempo tracks, slowly building over long time periods (all but 2 tracks are between 5 and 10 minutes). Vocals come into play subtly, with the cafe conversations bookending “Kultra Kafe” and “Myth of Tomorrow”, and the Matthew Dear-like grunting during “Smoke”. “Being Hiding” is the only track with full vocals, and even those seem pretty sparse, not verse/chorus song structure. As for personal favorites, “Persia” worms its way into your brain starting with looped skipping textures, then building up some rising horn sounds. “Eganix” is a slow, trippy, staccato take on the classic Kompakt minimal sound. “Leaving Osaka” updates ’80s synth-pop (think “West End Girls”-era Pet Shop Boys) for the minimal house dancefloor, with plenty of jazzy keyboard solos.