v/a: HOA010 + HOA011 (HAUS of ALTR, 2020)

July 12, 2020 at 11:01 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: HOA010

This past Juneteenth, New York label HAUS of ALTR released a massive compilation focusing on “the future of Black electronic music”. The proceeds for HOA010 are split between three organizations (For The Gworls, Afrotectopia, Afrorack) and the artists themselves. This one looks huge just glancing at the track listing — 27 tracks, and lots of artists who have been blowing up the club world lately, including many artists who have been on Towhead RecordingsNew York Dance Music comps. AceMo and MoMA Ready are both well represented, delivering ecstatic diva rave as well as fun, bashy breaks with an Aaliyah sample cruising in the middle. L.I.E.S. alumni Bookworms delivers crunchy, polyrhythmic breaks with the distorted goodness of “Dehydration”. DJ SWISHA’s giddy “New Luv” is like juke and happy hardcore meeting on the dancefloor and unexpectedly falling in love with each other. James Bangura (recently on Vanity Press) impresses with his breaky, shifty “Same, But Different”. Continuing her victory lap from her groundbreaking album last year, Loraine James gets in reflective mode with “Now”, which is filled with refracted trap beats and scattered R&B vocals. Russell E.L. Butler proclaims “You Think We Ain’t Have To Go This Hard, But We Really Do”, but their skittering drum’n’bass isn’t so much hard as persistent, scrambling forth in a constant search for justice, acceptance, clarity, answers, meaning, really a great number of things. Speaker Music’s “The Stamp of Color” features a powerful speech by Salenta, telling you how every Black person you see walking down the street is a miracle. Plenty of lesser-knowns impress as well. Amal’s “Pyschopass” mixes interstellar melodies with hard, crushed breakbeats, sort of approximating intelligent jungle with much more of an emphasis on feeling than scientific calculation. Escaflowne’s “The Blenda” is an effervescent house track with its waving hands pointed straight at the sky at all times. BEARCAT’s “Emergency” shows that there’s other ways to construct a powerful house groove, with a constant whooshing, whirring sound and percussion which sounds like shakers, hand drums, and clinking dinner glasses. “Dreamscape” by DONIS is built on a classic house foundation, but a slightly more complex twist to the beat, and a bit of Detroit cityscape synth. Max Watts’ “Hesitancy” is a new mutation of the speaker-demolishing freight train techno which has been fueling Brooklyn raves since the dawn of humanity. Then at the end, TAH’s “Breathe” is a potent shot of high-octane hybrid club music for getting down in a factory.

v/a: HOA11

I got around to buying HOA010 on the most recent Bandcamp Friday at the beginning of this month (hopefully they’ll do more of these?) and as soon as I did I noticed that the label had also snuck out HOA11, so naturally I had to grab that one too. Much of the same cast reappears, starting with a burning jungle reflection from AceMo. Amal’s “Go!” is a heady space journey which tactfully deploys hard, banging beats, NRG-spiked breaks, and rocket power. AshTreJinkins’ “Not My Problem” also goes super hard, with gabber-y beats and frantic arpeggios crumbling into each other. DJ Autopay’s “More Femme, More Masc (It’s Pride Black Pride Mix)” is an anthemic 2020 club update of Nice & Smooth’s “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow”, with a big emphasis on its all-important interpolation of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”. Escaflowne provides another highlight, with the tumbling hybrid jungle of “My Mind”. Huey Mnemonic’s “Respect My House (I-94 Mix)” is straight up classic-sounding acid house, with its mix title nodding to the highway connecting Detroit and Chicago (a road which happens to be right by my house). Other gems include MoMA Ready’s defiant “The High Cost of Living”, the jacking disco loops of Max Watts’ “Flowin”, trippy tunnel techno from James Bangura, and so much more.

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.

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