96 Back: Sugilite (Local Action, 2020)

November 19, 2020 at 8:32 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

96 Back: Sugilite

One of CPU’s primary electro alchemists makes the leap to Local Action with one of his most advanced, club-forward releases yet. “Half a Reach” is the type of ultra-detailed IDM which doesn’t abandoned the funk and places an equal emphasis on breakbeat buggery, haunting melodies, and chippy synth tones. “Hot Tip” starts out a little close to the Bug’s mutated dancehall, but gets more cybernetic from there. “Inclination Fresh” is more funky IDM that always moves in different directions but doesn’t get it twisted. “Waif” has much more of a heavier electro beat, but it’s still filled with corkscrews, drop-outs, and change-ups. Way excited to hear where he goes from here.

Solypsis: Is This Breakcore? (self-released, 2020)

November 18, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Solypsis: Is This Breakcore?

Asking a literal question of whether his music belongs in the scene he’s been associated with for decades, Solypsis’s recent EP also dredges up the never truly answered question of what breakcore really is in the first place. There’s always been so many different approaches to it, usually revolving around fast, complex, distorted breaks, but no real set-in-stone rules or guidelines, which is why it’s always been so fascinating. The first track, “Nostalgia Plunderer”, definitely fills the quota of noisy breaks and heavy kicks, but “Fuck It (Ver2)” is closer to industrial techno which just gets more distorted and terror-filled. “Crumbs of 2003” has a neat trick of combining complex d’n’b breakbeats with slow industrial kicks which accelerate at times. “Break Gourds” is another in-the-red throttler with breaks and kicks so flame-smothered they’re crispy. Final track “I Don’t Make Breakcore” is some of the most hellish drum’n’bass imaginable. To answer the question, I would say yes, because it does have hard, noisy breaks, but also because pushing the limits of the genre has always been an important part of it, and this certainly does that.

Nicolas Bougaïeff: Higher Up The Spiral (Mute, 2020)

November 16, 2020 at 6:37 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Nicolas Bougaïeff: Higher Up The Spiral

Nicolas Bougaïeff’s first album for Mute, The Upward Spiral, is a grand, ambitious set filled with unpredictable twists and rhythmic shifts. Its remix album takes these tracks into several further directions, most excitingly when a few experimental drum’n’bass producers take a crack at them. Overlook’s “The Upward Spiral” starts out as a back-alley creeper and then explodes, bringing the shivers like peak techstep. Sam KDC’s “Nexus” plays with the contorted rhythms of the original and ends up with some heavy, breaky terror-techno. Dusty Kid and Benjamin Damage both remix “Thalassophobia”, and both keep the interlocked yet disorienting patterns of the original but add a heavier thump for the clubs. Other mixes tend to retain the grittiness and some of the percolating sequences but make them feel more straightened out. Kosei Fukuda does something different though, turning it into a slower, more measured ambient techno track which could also be heard as very nuanced drum’n’bass. For something more storming and heart-on-sleeve melodic enough to approach trance, but coated in sizzling static, there’s Aoud’s “Listen Carefully to the Heart Beat”. Surprisingly enough, breakcore OG Din-ST appears with a mix of “Nexus” which honestly doesn’t add much to the original, but it’s still nice to see his name pop up. The title track, a collaboration with Private Agenda, concludes the release, and it’s actually a pleasant, sparkly pop song, yet it has all the tempo shifting and rhythmic contortion of Bougaïeff’s album.

Show #556 – 11/15/20

November 15, 2020 at 10:56 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Borai & Denham Audio ~ Make Me
Thiago Nassif ~ Plástico
Oli XL ~ Mimetic
Metic ~ Matrix Blaster
AceMoMA x Kanyon ~ Omnipresence
Akkord ~ Scalar Wave
Suzi Analogue ~ To See Another Day
Standing on the Corner ~ Angel
Quakers feat. Boog Brown ~ All of It
Mad Professor ~ Black Orpheus Dub
Mort Garson ~ Dream Sequence 1
Oneohtrix Point Never ~ Fourier Ocean Scenes
Os Mutantes ~ Panis et Circenses

v/a: Endangered Species Vol. 1 (Dark Entries, 2020)

November 15, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: Endangered Species Vol. 1

This is the first installment of Dark Entries’ series of ultra-rare curiosities emanating from deep within the past; tracks which may have only been rumored to exist, or may have toiled away in a box in a closet or attic, forgotten about for decades. It starts off with “Munich”, a somewhat garish ’80s Bowie knockoff from a pre-Dust Brothers John King, produced in 1983. The synths themselves are a bit closer to some sort of Italo-new wave hybrid, but the vocals are definitely Bowie-esque. The Actor’s “Picture 210” is lonesome, sequencer-driven minimal wave with shades of Gary Numan, definitely closer to the types of music DE was putting out more frequently when they first started out a decade or so ago. Brazil’s “Tvoj Svojet” is simply the Croatian cover of “Mad World” you never knew you needed to hear. Jamal Khe’s “L’Étranger (Ana Gharib)” is French-Algerian disco sung in Arabic, sounding way closer to Italo than raï, and it’s possibly the biggest revelation here. “Abemus Mind” by Nightless is a slower, more haunted one that unexpectedly features some gentle acoustic guitar and jazzy piano soloing, not to mention layers of sinister vocoders which cackle near the end. There’s lots more strangeness to uncover…

Civic Center: The Ground Below (American Dreams Records, 2020)

November 15, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Civic Center: The Ground Below

Chicago trio Civic Center play a blend of industrial and post-punk that balances claustrophobia with composure. Opener “High Beams” sounds like they’re flailing in the dark and being ravaged by invisible ghosts, but “Fly on the Wall” is much more upright, with very Joy Division-esque vocals and bass guitar, and some squealing noises lurking in the background. “The Prophet” is filled with rabid shrieking and echo chamber paranoia. “You Know What This Means” edges closer to power electronics, but without the harshness, and with acid-drenched effects over the enraged, ranting vocals. “Pencil and Pad” is a surprise excursion into dub, with a melodica lead and vast pools of stormy echo.

J. Pavone String Ensemble: Lost and Found (Astral Spirits, 2020)

November 14, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

J. Pavone String Ensemble: Lost and Found

The latest album from Jessica Pavone’s unconventional string quartet (two violins, two violas, no lower octaves) contains four pieces which mix traditional notation and improvisation. It was recorded at New Haven’s Firehouse 12, a venue always described as “intimate”, and that’s all too appropriate for an ensemble meant to be “lightweight and compatible”, according to the composer. That said, this isn’t gentle, easy background music. The pieces are all around 10 minutes each, and they all seem to slowly creep from one side to another. It’s almost suspenseful, particularly the somewhat ironically titled “Nice and Easy”, but then there’s no real sense of attack, it just sort of slides away from the action when you expect it to go all in. Even when it all seems like it’s slowly melting and becoming disfigured, there’s still brief moments when it hints at a more traditional sense of beauty, like the more harmonious notes near the end of “Nice and Easy”. “Pros and Cons”, however, could make the listener feel seasick if they play it loud enough. “Lost and Found” is a bit more glacial and actually the most relaxing piece here, although it’s still probably too dissonant to play around your grandparents.

S8JFOU: Cynism (Parapente Music, 2020)

November 13, 2020 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Reviews | 1 Comment

S8JFOU: Cynism

S8JFOU is a French electronic musician who lives in a small, self-built, solar-powered cabin on the side of a snow-covered mountain, where he pretty much does nothing but make music all day using self-designed digital synths. Basically, he is living the life we could only dream of, and his music is fascinating. He’s released a few albums since 2016, but Cynism is the first I’ve heard. It’s generally describably as wondrous yet playful glitch-heavy IDM, with lots of spluttery analog effects. He has an amazing way of making sharp, frigid beats mix with gentle, icy melodies, yet it doesn’t sound quite like any of the other artists doing pretty melodic IDM, post-Arovane, Morr Music, Kettel, etc. He definitely has a more Ilian Tape-inspired way of incorporating breakbeats, but it’s less club-driven than that, even if there’s some fractured garage-ish rhythms. There’s even some moments where he plays dusky trumpet solos. The song titles point to childhood nostalgia but he doesn’t cover well-trodden territory and sample the voices of playing children or emulate grainy public television show soundtracks or anything like that. It’s just highly original electronic music which follows its own whims. I’m in awe of this artist.

Pure Rave megapost

November 12, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Pure Rave: community Comparator Night at Don’s

Detroit collective Pure Rave make oblong rhythmic improvisation collages using multiple turntables, prepared records, effects, and drum machines. They were basically the house band at the Trip Metal Fests a few years ago, and while they seem perfectly fitting within that context, they’re highly confounding outside of it. One of the members once told me about the time they spun in between sets when Yellowman played at El Club, and angry patrons were all “We paid to hear reggae music tonight!”, and they still weren’t feeling it when the DJs played a Scientist record instead. Anyway, Pure Rave recently put a few things up on Bandcamp, starting with a live gig at Donovan’s Pub from earlier this year which featured Cy Tulip and Dave Shettler on Modular Synth. Basically, they recorded a multi-hour session, cut it into chunks, titled them, and arranged them in mostly alphabetical order, so some bits re-emerge at different parts of the album, making it more indeterminate than it already would be. Throughout the album you hear old techno, house, reggae, jazz, and R&B records hobbling in circles, sometimes creating counterrhythms when the records skip. At some points, they’ll just happen upon a perfect vocal/beat sample loop and just go to town with it, dousing it with echo and effects — try not to smile during “Meowdular RnB”. The sequence of “Trip” tracks (and really any other ones that sound like hybrid genres) all point to possible new directions for a successor to Trip Metal, further applying the already limitless concept to other corners of the musical map.

Pure Rave: № 113

A much more concentrated burst of Pure Rave NRG was released on cassette and Bandcamp by Nostilevo. № 113 is 24 minutes of electro claptrap broken breakdance, convoluted tekno acid bells, and a welcome burst of technofied African Head Charge. The B-side is a freewheeling, head-spinning highlight which starts to feel like it’s digesting itself after a while, before youthful voices clamber out, and then it flows into trip rave mode.

Model Home x Pure Rave

Additionally, Pure Rave were handed two copies of DC noise-rap duo Model Home‘s One Year record on Disciples, and the label released a mixtape of the results. Model Home x Pure Rave takes the fracture Dadaist rap tracks and holds them in place, turning them into abstract techno building blocks. Beats hobble, pitch-shifted vocal bursts cut in, key phrases from the album jump out and repeat, but clipped and jumbled. It all stops on a dime, seeming to be another slab of an endless mix session. One assumes that Pure Rave could easily fill up an entire evening using the same album as source material.

Omni Gardens: Moss King (Moon Glyph, 2020)

November 11, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Omni Gardens: Moss King

The boss of Moon Glyph presents a plant-themed synth album that’s warm and fuzzy and full of sunlight, but otherwise brings different types of cheery feelings than Plantasia. These tracks gentle sway in the air, and they also embrace the cool of the water; you can practically hear them absorb nutrients in real time. It’s super mellow, but at the same time, it sings out and feels genuinely expressive rather than just safe wallpaper music. And there’s just enough of a touch of trippiness to make it stand out. The nature sounds all help greatly, especially the frogs on “Golden Pothos”.

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