vt100: Algorithm (self-released, 2021)

April 28, 2021 at 7:35 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

vt100: Algorithm

California’s vt100 makes live hardware techno using analog and digital synthesizers. This is their fourth album, and it seems to somewhat jokingly comment on algorithms taking on a life of their own and controlling everyone’s thoughts and actions. The album doesn’t seem super conceptual if you’re just listening to it without paying attention to the press materials. It’s pretty straightforward techno that sounds a bit simple and retro, but not in a way that seems like it’s trying too hard to replicate ’80s glitz (i.e. synthwave) or the roughness of early techno and house. There’s steadily repetitive beats and melodies, but it doesn’t quite feel as cold and clinical as most minimal techno. The title “Techno Spaceship” sums up the album’s sound nicely, as it often has kind of a gliding feel to it. There’s some lo-bit textures on tracks like “Aztec LEDs” and “Bit Rot” but it’s still more like spacious electro-techno than chiptune. The album is quite long (over 70 minutes) and there might not be enough to hold onto for the full ride, but it’s worth taking a short trip for a few tracks.

Christopher Alan Durham: Peacetime Consumer 7″ (Space Case Records, 2021)

April 27, 2021 at 7:09 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Christopher Alan Durham: Peacetime Consumer 7″

Christopher Alan Durham co-runs the Detroit label All Gone with Travis Galloway (Traag, Siobhan), home to vinyl and cassette releases by Pure Rave, The Intended, Tarpit, and tons of other noise, noisy techno, and crud-rock acts from around the city. He also makes abstract electronic sounds as Church Shuttle and DJ Bando, and has played in several lo-fi rock bands like Quilt Boy and Roach Clip. This new single follows a solo tape on Soft Abuse and a single-sided tape pumped out during quarantine. The A-side, “Gratiot Crawl”, feels a bit slow and slurry even when played at 45, and he has a sort of exaggerated Iggy drawl, but even though he sounds kind of off his gourd, there’s still something pleasant about the way he traipses toward the general direction of the Eastern Market. “50’s House Blues” is way more down in the dumps, as he gets drunk off potato vodka on the porch and laments being broke and stuck in his run-down old home, feeling too burnt out to try and work towards making his dreams come true.

Claire Reneé: Wings (self-released, 2021)

April 26, 2021 at 8:33 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Claire Reneé: Wings

Heartfelt, lovingly crafted neo-soul with lush live instrumentation and gorgeous multi-tracked self-harmonies. Opener “Honey” is a really enticing, inviting song thanking a potential lover for showing genuine interest in her. “Sirens” is more sultry, demanding your instant attention and legs around her waist. “Check On Yo Friends” is more acoustic guitar-based and a bit more hip-hop-influenced with its beats and cadences. “I’m Tired” lets off some steam without getting aggressive. “Just Hold On” is more creative, especially the way the rhythm switches up later on. “Wings” is a bit more intricate and bossa nova-shaded, and it has the most uplifting lyrics on the entire album.

Prolaps: Ultra Cycle Pt. 1: Vernal Birth (Hausu Mountain, 2021)

April 25, 2021 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Prolaps: Ultra Cycle Pt. 1: Vernal Birth

Kill Alters’ Bonnie Baxter and Machine Girl’s Matt Stephenson debuted their Prolaps project last year with Pure Mud Volume 7, a psychotic hellrave explosion stuffed with ideas and manic energy. This year, they’re releasing a quarterly series of 2-hour tapes, and the first one landed at the beginning of spring. Vernal Birth is a bit closer to their Guilted Hexitation mix from earlier this year than the bratty digital hardcore/electro-punk of their album from last year, constantly flowing through ideas like a live set. The gonzo lyrics and kind of gross-out humor of the first album is pretty much absent here, which is fine because I’m more into this project for the beats anyway. But it’s essentially a nonstop train ride of neon-streaked radioactive kick drums and rapidfire triggered samples, for the first part at least. Around the center it dips into slower, sludgier rhythms but then sometimes flips faster breaks on top of them, causing some bursts of dissonance. “Oversoul Deprogammer” is 16 minutes of extreme K-hole tripping which seems to be pulling in several directions in an oblong motion, and the vibe changes a little after that. There’s still energy but they take the long way around rather than bounce and stomp through everything quickly. It definitely feels worn down after a hard night of raving by the end, but even then it’s determined not to stop until everyone’s collapsed on the ground. Can’t wait to do this again when summer hits.

Rich Pellegrin: Solitude: Solo Improvisations (OA2 Records, 2021)

April 24, 2021 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Rich Pellegrin: Solitude: Solo Improvisations

Rich Pellegrin’s last album was performed with the quintet he’s been playing with for a decade, with one piece performed by a contemporary classical ensemble from the University of Missouri. His newest release, however, consists entirely of solo piano improvisations recorded in a church in Washington. The majority of them are brief, encountering a momentary idea and then expressing it and letting it be. Many of them resist easy patterns or melodies and sort of exist in their own space, but a few are more contemplative and have a radiant glow, like “Improvisation VII” and “XV”, and these are some of the standout pieces. “XI” is particularly inspired, lasting a towering 6 minutes and having an almost heroic sort of drive without hammering you with pomposity. “XXIV” hints at a darker mood, but also not in an overbearing way that brings the listener down. I also appreciate how the final piece sounds like a clear ending, a definite “that’s it”.

Show #579 – 4/24/21

April 24, 2021 at 1:55 am | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Vapour Theories ~ Unoccupied Blues
Yaya Bey ~ september 13th
Yoshinori Hayashi ~ Shut Up
Nero’s Day at Disneyland ~ Family Lying Face Down in Living Room
Caterina Barbieri/Baseck ~ Fantas Hardcore
Thomas Fehlmann ~ Umarmt
Asmus Tietchens ~ Fast Food
Algebra Suicide ~ One Night I Fell in Love
Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt ~ The Thing Itself
Jihee Heo ~ Trust
Phelimuncasi ~ Sesi Gora (Prod by DJ MP3)
Suzi Analogue ~ W0RK XPERIENCE
Biosphere ~ The Clock and the Dial

Rodney Whitaker: Outrospection: The Music of Gregg Hill (Origin Records, 2021)

April 23, 2021 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Rodney Whitaker: Outrospection: The Music of Gregg Hill

Rodney Whitaker, a Detroit-born musician and Professor of Jazz Bass and Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan State University, arranges several compositions by Lansing’s Gregg Hill, with musicians from MSU’s jazz faculty. The record was made under COVID lockdown with all the musicians socially distanced in different booths, but it still sounds cohesive. Whitaker’s daughter Rockelle, who has a deep, sultry voice in the tradition of all the classic jazz divas, sings her own lyrics on four songs. Apart from those, “Dollah Hollah” is uptempo and short and dedicated to Abdullah Ibrahim (aka Dollar Brand), plus the title makes me think of “dolla dolla make ya holla”. “Bridge to Nashua” is longer but also energetic. “J-Quest” has a good bit of lead trombone by Michael Dease (who also plays on opener “Outrospection”). “Cadillac Club” is just a really sweet post-bop tune which just goes. “The Peace Song” wraps it all up with a joyous (instrumental) plea for unity — relaxed and unstrained, but budding with love and hope.

Andrée Burelli: De Sidera (American Dreams, 2020)

April 22, 2021 at 8:34 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Andrée Burelli: De Sidera

Previously known as Bodyverse and based in Berlin, Andrée Burelli recorded her newest album in her native Italy. All of the songs have Italian titles, but the two songs with singing are both wordless. The lush, hypnotic music patiently unfolds, with sparse piano notes shrouded in mist and reverberating in a huge, empty, white space. “De Sidera” has a bit of a sensuous bassline and synths which twitter like insects surrounding Burelli’s enchanting vocals. “Aquilone Perduto” is short and sweet with a curious, piccolo-like melody. “Cum Sidera” has another slithering bassline and is closer to a sort of goth/new age/downtempo hybrid than the rest of the album. If it was still the ’90s, some producer would’ve slapped some slowed-down breakbeats and Gregorian chanting on it in an attempt to be the next Enigma, but thankfully it’s left to shine the way it is. The next two tracks feel a little bit like a step back for reflection, but “Leggeri Come Cenere” (the final one) has a trace of a bassline, giving something to hold onto before the album drifts into the ether.

Tech Level 2: Depths EP (Avalanche, 2021)

April 21, 2021 at 6:37 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Tech Level 2: Depths EP

Justin Broadrick briefly made extremely hard-edged drum’n’bass as Tech Level 2 during the late ’90s and early 2000s, then revived the alias for a new EP last year. This is a set of shelved productions originally meant for release on Danny C’s Teknological imprint. It is, honestly, some of the absolute best work Broadrick’s ever done, in my opinion. Ultra-aggressive d’n’b with bass that absolutely smothers, probably too overloaded for most typical DJs and fans of the genre, but fuck ’em. The first track rocks well from the depths of hell, and the second out-menaces Future Forces/Bad Company. “Suspended” is heavily tense without exploding as much as the others. “Returned to the Depths”, though, no kidding — sheer terror assault at 100 miles an hour.

Nils Wülker: Go (Warner Music, 2020)

April 19, 2021 at 6:13 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Nils Wülker: Go

Completing a trilogy, the newest album from trumpeter Nils Wülker is a very studio-driven fusion of jazz and electronics, with plenty of arpeggios and percolating melodies. The drums feel live but also technology-enhanced, and they often feel closer to rock or electro than jazz rhythms. It does get a little clean and background-y, but at least it feels more adventurous than radio-friendly smooth jazz, with vaguely glitchy beats on “Distorting Time” and some psychedelic phasing on his trumpet during “The You of Now”. I feel like this album would appeal much more to fans of downtempo electronic acts like Tycho than most jazz audiences, however, as it doesn’t really have the swing or flow one would normally expect from jazz. But it works as a sort of hybrid of jazz trumpet and instrumental pop; I haven’t listened to any of Herb Alpert’s latter-day work but maybe it sounds close to something like this. “Seat 47” starts out sounding almost like synth-funk but ends up with a more sentimental melody (which isn’t too different from that of the preceding track, “Hybrid”). “Highline” is a remote duet with fellow trumpeter Theo Croker, and one of the more upbeat songs here, but in an ’80s smooth funk way. “Blow Up” has more of a cold minimal techno pulse to it. “Perlage” brings things back into the light with a warm, rimshot-heavy groove. “Faced With a Choice, Do Both” seems to have a tentative dual nature but ultimately does what it says and goes forward, with two trumpet lines singing out over lightly skipping synth arpeggios and clopping drums.

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