Saphileaum: Samosi (Constellation Tatsu, 2020)

April 19, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Saphileaum: Samosi

Constellation Tatsu brings us more maximum tranquility with this set of 7 song-length pieces designed as aural cloth for a deep mountain expedition. Superbly comforting ambient music, sometimes with slow rhythms, and sometimes with the natural sounds of a trickling stream, which somehow sound more alien in this context. “Underneath the Godly Sky” is a serene work of beauty which feels like laying back and staring up at the clouds racing by on a sunny day, and then realizing how weird that actually is, at least in modern society. This music is the opposite of busy in a physical sense, but highly engaging mentally.

Dark Day: Darkest Before Dawn LP (Nigh Eve Productions, 1989/reissued by Dark Entries, 2019)

April 18, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Dark Day: Darkest Before Dawn LP

This is a little-known release by Robin Lee Crutchtfield’s Dark Day, recorded around 1985-86 and a far cry from his earlier minimal synth work. This is a collection of Medieval Pagan processions inspired by Moondog and played on a mixture of keyboards, recorders, amplified cello, and numerous types of percussion instruments, bells, and shakers. It feels traditional, but at the same time there’s eerie, carnivalesque atmospheres and some effects trickery. It also gets remarkably tender, with tracks like “Shod With Booths Of Ether”, then playful with others such as “Lost In The Shuffle”. “Giantess” is closer to Coil’s more funureal moments. The whole record is autumnal, but the second side sounds maybe closer to Halloween than the first, although it also has some almost celebratory moments.

Open Spaces: Opening Space (Constellation Tatsu, 2020)

April 13, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Reviews | 2 Comments

Open Spaces: Opening Space

This stunning release pairs breathing, flowing synth drones with natural sounds (lots of chirping birds, possibly some frogs underneath), all best heard on a loud stereo system, so you can feel like you’re at a concert in the middle of the forest. Even given that description, there’s some strange, mind-twisting things happening, with strange unidentifiable sounds swooping in and shifting effects. The title is perfect, as this is music that constantly expands, and encourages the listener to escape confinement, both mentally and spatially. Standout piece “Compassion” is a surprisingly melancholy astral lullaby, with a slow, distant drum pounding and a waterfall-wash of gorgeous vocals by Michelle McCosker.

José Orozco Mora: Formas Aparentes (Constellation Tatsu, 2020)

April 13, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

José Orozco Mora: Formas Aparentes

Here’s four tracks of sparkling synth vibrations from Mexico City (assuming that’s what the tag on the album’s Bandcamp page indicates). “Ramas” rises and eventually settles on a calm, pounding cyber-mantra beat, and an array of playful synth tones frolic excitedly around it. It seems like music for meditation, but also active enjoyment. “Formas Aparentes” starts with a synth pattern imitating a babbling brook, then blooms into a prismatic sequence which radiates with excitement and wonder, eventually gaining more of a jubilant rhythm to take it to another level. “Organismos” starts out as a calmer drone, but then the sequencer rhythm trickles in, then more melodic soloing, all growing steadily like a patch of flowers. “Contemplaciones” is one simple, final thought, ending this short but very promising release.

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.

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