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.

Kesswa: Soften EP (self-released, 2019)

June 19, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Kesswa: Soften EP

Detroit-based singer/songwriter Kesswa recently played a sold-out concert at Underground Resistance headquarters, which she recorded for a release. I didn’t make it to that performance, but I saw her open for Sudan Archives at Deluxx Fluxx in March (the last show I’ll be able to attend for a long time) and it was fantastic. Soften is her self-released debut EP, and it’s a brief but marvelous showcase for what she does. Her fluid voice matches the lush, hard-to-define sound, flowing between jazz, soul, techno, and broken beat. The incomparable Ahya Simone adds harp throughout, and it’s seamlessly woven into the fabric of Askanse’s earthy yet futuristic productions. “Contemplate” is the most dance-informed song here, but the beat is a muted shuffle rather than upfront banging. “To Find” edges closer to footwork or drum’n’bass, but feels much too expansive to be defined as anything. And then there’s the opening and closing takes of “Open”, which is both empowering and mind-expanding. Recently interviewed for Bandcamp, she said she’s working on her own album as well as the next Shigeto record, which is amazing news on both accounts.

Suzi Analogue: SU CASA EP (Never Normal, 2020)

June 18, 2020 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Suzi Analogue: Su Casa EP

Three new songs from Suzilla, created on a Moog Subharmonicon. The title SU CASA seems to allude to house music, but that’s only a part of the equation — her sound remains as uncategorizable as ever. “LIKE LIKE” is a fun ode to the elements filled with bumpy beats and octagonal melodic sequences. “Way Outta” is a more introspective tune with somewhat stripped-back beats making way for Suzi’s powerful lyrics (“I had to challenge my perspective”). “PPL PWR” is a faster, punkier track closer to last year’s “LOUDR”, but with more of a socially relevant message (“The people should rage/If you’re not coming together/then tell me what are you doing?”). The EP showcases Suzi’s own voice and lyrics more than some of her recent releases, while her rhythmic constructions are as vivid and inventive as ever.

Toiret Status: Otohime (Orange Milk, 2020)

June 16, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Toiret Status: Otohime

Isamu Yorichika’s first vinyl LP is a bit less beat-crazy than his previous cassettes, which sometimes flirted with mutated footwork; these tracks often resemble more of an implosion of rhythm. The rhythms are there, but the drums on opener “#86” are replaced by splashes, squeaks, and sometimes just silence. “#67” starts out sounding like it might be easy to follow, filled with pops, squishes, and chattering voices, but at some point the rhythm bunches up like a rug underneath a cartoon character trying to scurry away but staying in place. “#76.5” goes the other way, actually gaining more of a steady beat as it progresses, until it almost sounds like Bogdan Raczynski (in gurgly voice mode) making trap… and then bouncing squeaky toys off of the beat. “#78” is an arrhythmic sequence of short, blippy cartoonish sounds, sounding like a video game where you have to hit a lot of fast-moving shapes and they all trigger different sounds, and then that turns into bursts of rhythmic buzzing and distant, hazy vocals. “#65” is the biggest, most vivid explosion of drums, which get derailed by chattering voices at the end. Co La (NNA Tapes, Software, Orange Milk) assists on “#77”, a jittery click-dub piece filled with chattering voices and digital ribbits, as well as an atmospheric guitar break which ends up being the album’s most serene, relaxed moment. “75.5” is a colorful dance of minimalist patterns outfitted with computer clicks and bubble pops. The album ends up being less of an explosive neon rush than it starts, but it’s still fun, strange, and surreal.

Deyeying: Living (El Cuco Recordings, 2020)

June 13, 2020 at 7:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Deyeying: Living

Redhat’s newest project is sort of a resurrection of witch house, with gigantic neon synths and trappy beats crawling along. It seems to express the pressure of being alive on a dead planet, not quite feeling at home here, or having the will to live, but not ready to find out what’s on the other side, either. Or maybe not sure what side you’re on, hence the opposite artist/title. Super uneasy, but also balanced, and it expresses this inner existential turmoil splendidly.

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