Bubblegum Octopus: Big Battles (Mysterious Friend, 2020)

August 20, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Bubblegum Octopus: Big Battles

This is a selection of tracks that Matthew Morden wrote for Battle of the Bits, an online chip music competition based in Detroit but including participants from around the world. They aren’t properly arranged BGO songs with vocals and hooks and the like, they’re more like instrumental MIDI demos, but they’re every bit as complex, twisted, and blindingly fast as his usual work, and their sheer creativity and virtuosity puts a hell of a lot of other musicians to shame. Opener “Tough Guys’ Club” is a demented fusion of jazz-core and triple-speed city pop, and “Lake Gusts” is something like sparkly magic forest drill’n’bass. “Ark” is not battle music at all, more like something to soundtrack a calmer transitional scene, possibly one filled with some dialogue, but also exploring. Other tracks start out strange and confusing in one way and then suddenly switch into hyper-break combat mode with no warning — just watch your guard during “Dumper Robo 2026”. “Outdoor Fridge” (awesome) is the most overtly 8-bit-sounding track here, but if it had been composed 30 years ago, someone would’ve thought their Game Boy was slightly malfunctioning. The Bandcamp download also includes MIDI files of several tracks, should you happen to find a use for them.

Somatic Responses: Explorer // Stayin’ home vol 2 (self-released, 2020)

August 18, 2020 at 7:45 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Somatic Responses: Explorer // Stayin’ home vol 2

Somatic Responses have been taking advantage of the lockdown and social distancing, using the time to work on even more music, and unleash older unreleased material. This is the second Stayin’ Home release, although like the first, it appears to be a Paul Healy solo work. Like much of their recent work, it blends advanced modular synth arrangements with blasted breakbeats, sticking to the drum’n’bass/breakcore mood for much of it, while still having more of a live jam feel than much music in these genres. There’s other directions explored, though, such as the suspenseful signal calls of the aptly titled “B Movie”, the horror electro of “Sanctuary in Chaos”. or the crystalline acid of “Zenith”. But most importantly there’s just a bunch of straight-up slammers like “Cold Overlap” and “Proton Breaks”. And there’s a gorgeous 12-minute ambient track at the end. Don’t know about you, but I definitely have not been this productive and creative during COVID-19.

Show #543 – 8/16/20

August 16, 2020 at 10:57 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

The Answer Is In The Beat In Exile 8/16/20
Foul Play ~ Finest Illusion
Machine Girl ~ POSTGEM SHIT -2015 DEMO-
Krome & Time ~ This Sound Is For The Underground
Tim Reaper ~ Lite Speed
Renegade Android ~ Swords And Daggers
Suzi Analogue ~ Conversation Starter
Public Enemy ~ State of the Union (STFU)
Felix Lee ~ Cold Steel
River Spirit ~ Constant Lullaby
Ron Zakrin ~ Burgertime
Forest Drive West ~ Isolation
Loraine James ~ ALB19 12
LUCKER ~ Headache vs. Corona
Andrew Pekler ~ Wichita Forever

XBass: Second Bass (Ruff Guidance Records, 2020)

August 16, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

XBass: Second Bass

Longtime Bay B Kane collaborator XBass released this 21-track monolith on Bandcamp back in May. The Ruff Guidance label’s Bandcamp houses dozens of releases dating back to the halcyon mid-’90s, and as with a lot of the newer jungle coming out, it can be hard to tell exactly when it was produced, as so much of it updates the classic elements of jungle and drum’n’bass. This one dips into a bunch of different modes: the atmospheric roller “She Walks”, the hip-hop drum’n’bass of “Friend or Foe”, the tear-out ragga-jungle of “Can’t Stop the Mission”, “Rude Bwoy Forever”, “The Last Junglist”… and just to cut to the chase, there’s plenty of tracks with obscenely huge, roughed up breaks that just trample over everything like elephants. “Dan in the Blues”, “You’re Missing”, “Night Worker”, “Roots and Culture”, “Young Blood”, all guaranteed heavyweight sound system killers. Nuff respect!!

REQ & Smudge: Smudge’s Coffee 12″ EP (Seagrave, 2020)

August 15, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

REQ & Smudge: Smudge’s Coffee

Former warp signee REQ recently started making music again thanks to inspiration from his close friend Smudge, whoever that may be. The original tracks on this EP owe way more to early ’80s beatbox electro than any trend that’s been excavated recently, with midtempo cavernous booming beats and lo-bit samples tapped out furiously. “Change le Beat” obviously alludes to the ffffffresh 1982 Celluloid classic, and makes the melody a bit more dazed and spangly. The Fear Ratio’s mix of “Smudge’s Coffee” is as Skam-sounding as one might expect, pumping in some breakbeats but largely keeping things stripped down and steady. Best of all is the ETCH remix, which has some heavier bass pressure and tougher breaks, sounding a bit more futuristic than the other tracks. Very excited to hear that ETCH has signed to Moving Shadow, glad to hear one of the leaders of the new jungle/hardcore scene be recognized by the originators.

Tomotsugu Nakamura: Literature (LAAPS, 2020)

August 13, 2020 at 7:15 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Tomotsugu Nakamura: Literature

Beautiful album from a Tokyo-based artist who arranges acoustic sounds into a series of soft but snapping glitch melodies. Gentle acoustic guitars are made to sound much bigger and more resonant without much in the way of effects, just very careful, deliberate editing. “Copenhagen” is one of the most tuneful pieces here, assembling a staccato but smoothly flowing rhythm and making the vibrations and slides as deeply felt as the melodies. Other tracks like “Along Together” find just as much beauty in sounds overlapping, mismatching, and breaking down. Comparison-wise, this somewhat reminds me of the astounding Dorine_Muraille album from 2003, except far less dense and fast-moving, and without vocals. It’s just an incredibly lovely album which feels like a series of refracted views of simple but breathtaking nature scenes.

Show #542 – 8/9/20

August 9, 2020 at 10:55 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

The Answer Is In The Beat In Exile 8/9/20
Squarepusher ~ Midi Sans Frontieres Avec Batterie
Skymall ~ Rubber Cement
Vladislav Delay ~ isosusi
Rafael Anton Irisarri ~ Fright and Control
Jon Hassell ~ Timeless
The Koreatown Oddity feat. Jimetta Rose and Corrine Atkinson ~ The World’s Smallest Violin
R.A.P. Ferreira ~ Doldrums
Kamaal Williams ~ One More Time
Horse Lords ~ Against Gravity
East Man feat. Ny Ny ~ Who Am I?
Cocktail Party Effect feat. Redders ~ Talking to Bricks
Sofie ~ Happen 2 B There

Ron Zakrin: Wait for Tomorrow (Equal Recordings, 2020)

August 9, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ron Zakrin: Wait for Tomorrow

Detroit painter and musician follows 2017’s One in a Million with a more sprawling set of retro-futuristic electro and techno-pop tracks. First and foremost, this album is worth hearing because Zakrin wrote a bouncy italo-disco style song about BurgerTime, which might be the best oldschool arcade game ever made. Not the easiest, that’s for sure, but absolutely one of the funnest, and the song matches the silliness and jovial spirit of the game. Aside from that, we have songs like “Storm the Ramparts” which are kind of tough and militant but also kind of playful. Like it’s a bit too cartoonish to really feel threatened by. And then others like “Cyber Boulevard” and “Beyond the Milkyway” are just fun and delightful space disco mini-journeys. “Slow Command” and “Cosmic Swamp Ass” are slower and much lengthier, and require more patience, but they both travel to some distant, fascinating worlds. Then at the end of it all, he channels Skint-style big beat with the chunky, lo-bit breakbeat-driven kung fu crime caper “Revenge”.

Renegade Android: Downtown (D-Trash, 2020)

August 8, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Renegade Android: Downtown

Renegade Android has been releasing IDM/breakcore hybrids on various netlabels since the late ’90s, and his new album finds him returning to D-Trash, which put out his first album in 1999. The tracks are all short and filled with glitchy/grindy beats and simple innocent/angry melodies, and they all refreshingly sound cut from the cloth of breakcore’s original lo-bit Amiga aesthetic rather than the more hi-definition direction some of the genre’s bigger names have gone in. No giant, glowing modular systems here. Instead, there’s fast, twitchy hyper-jigs like “Flailing Extremities”, which requires way too much caffeine to accurately dance to, but has a kind of cute melody behind it. “Malfunctioned Robby Robot” does in fact sound like something a little plastic droid with worn-out, defective circuits would try to dance to. “Obvious Threat” has some of the biggest, most destructive breaks here, and it’s one of the funnest tracks. “Swords and Daggers” is even more massive, and easily the most ambitious production on the album. Simply jaw-dropping. The album ends with a remix by Venetian Snares, but it doesn’t come close to overshadowing the preceding tracks, it’s more of a brief ambient coda, riddled with thin, chattering noise textures which end up devouring the track at the end.

Octavcat: Arbourne (VLSI Records, 2020)

August 7, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Octavcat: Arbourne

Mysterious U.K. artist Octavcat isn’t a new name by any means (Discogs lists several releases dating back to 2003) but this is my first exposure to their work. It’s the type of braindance which would be at home on post-Rephlex labels like Central Processing Unit, constructing sturdy electro beats and spiking them with acid-tinged melodies. Some of it gets weirder, with Autechre glitches riddling the trippy “Otheracid”, and while “Charcoal” seems to walk the line between danceable and chillable, there’s still some remote flashes of noisy fury. “Wrong’n'” has funny, ear-tickling synths wibbling atop its smooth-Drexciya beats, and “Polygonpad” is closer to trip-hop, with vocoders over crunchy midtempo beats (yeah, it does sound a bit like BoC). Mostly slick and not too hard-edged, this sounds like it was made for cruising through a virtual neon galaxy.

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