Aaron Spectre: Create the Future (Morning Under Leaves, 2020)

October 9, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Aaron Spectre: Create the Future

Aaron Spectre has been on a roll with all of his recent releases, but this one hit me so hard that I think it might just be my favorite thing he’s ever done. He describes it as “🍄 80% chiptune, 20% noise 🍄”, and it’s a whirlwind of LSDJ-processed breaks, Chuck D samples, robot speech, 8-bit bleeps, and screeching noise. It’s hyperactive, rage-filled, funky, convoluted, and just straight-up fun. “Impeach the Prez” might be the craziest one, but really they’re all explosive and mind-blowing. Well, “Take It Back” is shorter and not quite as hectic. The other tracks, though, too much. A definite flashback to the early Amiga days of breakcore, and one of my favorite recent releases of the genre.

ESP Summer: Here + 天国の王国 (Onkonomiyaki, 2020)

October 8, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

ESP Summer: Here

ESP Summer (or E.S.P. Neighborhood, or ESP Continent) is Pale Saints’ Ian Masters and His Name Is Alive’s Warren Defever. The two released a 1995 album which remains well-regarded among dream pop aficionados, a more abstract 10″ EP (which I prefer to the album), and a 1997 7″ EP, and eventually a digital complete discography in 2009. They’ve continued to collaborate remotely (Masters lives in Japan, Defever is a Detroit-area native), and they’ve entirely unexpectedly released two recordings on Bandcamp so far this year. Here is a 4-track EP which is far more dream than pop. Gentle acoustic guitar melodies are threaded throughout, but the tracks make heavy usage of field recordings and strange textures. “Guitar & Mirage” is a bit closer to the noisier moments of HNIA’s Return to Never, but blasted wide open. “Water & Piano & Birds” has all of those things, but there’s also a barely audible phone message which may or may not date from HNIA’s 4AD days.

ESP Summer: 天国の王国

天国の王国 (or Kingdom of Heaven) is more song-based, starting out with Masters drowsily sighing “the kingdom of heaven is within you” while being serenaded by a Cocteau-school drum machine waltz and blankets of guitar effects. “熊虫” alternates between fuzzy dripping, ethereal piano vapor, and (for a brief moment) more of an aggressive stomp, with Defever’s guitars having the same type of raw bite that they did back on Livonia. “宇宙” revisits the lyrical theme of the first track, but surrounds it with a panorama of flutes, knocky percussion, and spindling guitars, then douses it with some frosty feedback. Then it turns into a nostalgic ballroom dream montage, and eventually the windswept guitar comes drifting back in, elevating it all into something dramatic and mournful. Masters delivers his mystic message one final time on the last track, starting out with clear vocals and trippy guitars before drifting to a reserved coda.

Jordana megapost

October 7, 2020 at 7:03 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jordana: Full Colour

Jordana LeSesne is a legitimate pioneer of American drum’n’bass. She was highly active as 1.8.7 throughout the mid-to-late ’90s, played at countless clubs and raves, and received a huge amount of college radio airplay, as well as exposure on MTV’s AMP, which is how I discovered her music when I was in high school. If you aren’t familiar with her back story, her Wikipedia page and this recent-ish interview posted on LGBTQ site them. are essential reads. Also, her old albums and most of her 12″s on Jungle Sky are all available on Discogs for dirt cheap; I noticed I didn’t have The Cities Collection so I just bought a sealed copy for $3. She’s posted tracks on Soundcloud for the past decade, and a couple months ago she launched a Bandcamp page filled with newer work and rarely heard older material. Full Colour is an unreleased fourth album dating from around the same time as The Cities Collection, and like that album, it all has an intense, live-sounding feel, as it was all made using hardware and samplers recorded to DAT. The tracks are complex, elaborate, and HARD. Each track almost sounds like a DJ set condensed into 7 minutes; there’s just so many elements moving in and out of the mix, from jazzy guitars to twisted breaks to phone message samples to filtered vocals to rave riffs. There’s some calmer parts here and there but this is definitely not the type of drum’n’bass that would’ve wound up in car commercials or trendy cocktail bars around Y2K. This is strictly a relic of the underground scene, like her first 3 albums, and it all sounds just as vital today. Favorite tracks include “Strange Bird”, “Tidal Surge”, and “Annihilate”, a bonus track originally released under the name murder0ne on a rare 12″ in 1998. I totally would’ve lost my mind if I’d heard these back then.

Jordana: Numerology

The second release on her Bandcamp is Numerology, a collection of tracks from 2003, when she was living in England and spinning garage as Lady J. She explains that she was descending into poverty and had limited equipment to record these tracks, but there’s no sacrifice in quality. The title track is a lush roller, perhaps with a bit more space to breathe than some of her earlier work, but still swift and exciting. “Chemistry” (with vocalist Gabriella Hardy) and “Finalé” are glimpses into Jordana’s pop side, while “Without a Trace” is a turbo-charge darkside rave nightmare, and the two tracks surrounding it are breathless future-ragga blasters. “Dirty Basses (aka Boo’s Tune)” indeed has some vicious, filthy bass, hard as anything she’d done prior.

Jordana: Resistencia E.P.

Finally, Resistencia E.P. is a preview of Jordana’s upcoming album, consisting of tracks mostly written a few years ago. These are all strong, intensely detailed tracks in the newer, more hi-definition d’n’b style, filled with even sharper details and a grander, more epic feel. “Rainbows Not Enough (It All Goes Dark)” is a particular tour de force, especially during the middle where it flicks between metal guitars, softer guitars, dubstep roars, electro breaks, and then of course there’s her lyrics directed at the source of her misery. “OVNI (Ever Present)” is a 9-minute epic revisiting the UFO-related themes of her first album, When Worlds Collide, filled with levitating trance synths and loads of samples of military and airline communications. All of these releases are quality and well worth supporting. Black Trans Lives Matter.

KTL: VII (Editions Mego, 2020)

October 6, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

KTL: VII

The seventh studio album from Stephen O’Malley and Peter Rehberg’s KTL project is a completely stand-alone work unrelated to theatre, film, or installations. It consists of five disorienting pieces which merge sickly strings with hazy feedback and electrifying noise, sliding and swirling like a sort of gigantic radioactive lava lamp. “Lee’s Garlic” is the only short track, and it’s one of the more busy, destructive ones, but the others stretch out for extended mind alterations. The first side is much more caustic, trippy, and frankly quite head-spinning at times, particularly “Silver Lining”. The second side calms down for a while with the 14-minute “Tea With Kali”, but then “Frostless” edges back into the brain-frying zone again, applying a heady layer of fuzz to warm, oscillating drones, with the results being more pleasant than frightening.

Crushed Soul: Family of Waves 12″ EP (Dark Entries, 2020)

October 5, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Crushed Soul: Family of Waves

Electro innovator and longtime Ostgut Ton/Panorama Bar regular Steffi revisits an obscure alias for her first release on Dark Entries, fitting in with the label’s ethos and exploring her dark new wave and EBM-influenced side. “Gravitational Field” has a sprightly metallic bounce with shades of ominous clouds overhead, and “Scalar Property” is more of an injection of cruising Detroit electro-funk. “Family of Waves” is where things get grittier, with a rigid minimal-synth beat kicking the track off, then gets elevated with creeping, bubbling synths, keeping paranoid thoughts in the back of its mind but losing itself in club energy. “Diffusion of Heat” has more of a steady house beat, and similarly keeps a balance of effervescence and sinister feelings.

Eduardo De La Calle: Mindfulness Hipernormalisation (Konsysttenzia Records, 2020)

October 4, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Eduardo De La Calle: Mindfulness Hipernormalisation

The Madrid-born producer adds to his discography of well over 100 releases with a full-length of paranoid abstractions accompanied by ultra-creepy cover art (although the vinyl version has a generic white sleeve with a sticker at the top). Way different from the various forms of techno and house he usually makes, this is far closer to Y2K-era IDM, with skittering beats and calm ambient melodies, resembling dozens of thoughts at once, some more still and contemplative, others racing ceaselessly. When things calm down and straighten up a bit, it’s for a peppy ode to cryptocurrency called “Get Used to Electronic Money Happily”. Following a slightly twisted requiem called “End of a Generation”, the album returns to braindance-y beats and melodies with “The Getaway”, then later mellows out a little with “Chords From My Own Narcissism”. The album is based on a documentary called The HiperNormalisation which I haven’t seen, but it stands on its own as an inventive, hyper-aware soundtrack to a changing world.

мхи и лишайники: Нассать на мир (Not Not Fun, 2020)

October 3, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

мхи и лишайники: Нассать на мир

Absolutely crushing minimal wave misanthopia seemingly transmitted from a Soviet bunker in 1987, but actually banged out a couple years ago around New Year’s Eve. This being on NNF, it’s not quite as cold and forbidding as most coldwave of this sort; it’s actually quite playful, even with the demented samples (the screaming, “your move creep”, and “you’re under arrest”, all ominously pitched down, during the second track) and fuck-all attitude (the title translates to “Piss on the World”). The third track ends up being fit for a hazy, gas mask-required rave, and the fourth is more of a melted synthwave fever dream. Then there’s the muddy, disorienting, prismatic, stun-laser final track, which thuds on and on for ten minutes before the tape runs out abruptly. I’m down with this sort of smudged, melting neon dystopia.

Grapefruit: Light Fronds (Moon Glyph, 2020)

October 3, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Grapefruit: Light Fronds

Grapefruit’s first tape in a few years is a mesmerizing set of instrumentals which intricately weaves complex guitar arrangements and radiant synthwork. It really makes audio light burst from the speakers and permeate the entire room. The viola and harpsichord-sounding textures add a warm touch. Final “Transmigration” is a multi-movement trip which blasts into a few different dimensions, with a pause between each one, giving you time to soak each one in before transporting to the next. It’s also pretty concise, so it just constantly delivers energy without going stale or losing its course.

Coral Club: Nowhere Island (Not Not Fun, 2020)

October 3, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Coral Club: Nowhere Island

NNF-style exotica from Moscow, with swarms of crickets and cacaws flavoring delay-heavy electronics with a preference for digital bongos and milky textures. “Peace Place” has one of the most gentle Amen break usages I’ve ever heard, almost making it sound like it’s been beat out of a big frame drum or something. “Tribe” is a nice little calabash dance with some blown-out-of-proportion bass, and “Island Haze” is heavier as well as chirpier. Bonus track “Glowing Dusk” is filled with frogs, what else needs to be said? The ideal soundtrack to transforming your autumn COVID bunker into a weird indoor tiki hut; be creative with your interior decorating.

V. Kristoff: Sydra (Not Not Fun, 2020)

October 1, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

V. Kristoff: Sydra

One of the owners of Jungle Gym Records makes his NNF debut with this mesmerizing tape of murky brightness, if that makes any sort of sense. It’s shrouded in tape hiss and crackle, but the melodies are often curious, mysterious, playful, soothing. Also, some of it was made on an iPhone, I’m guessing the songs without so much tape hiss, but who knows. “Inland Hymn” has a sort of aquatic dub-techno feel but without the beats, with rawer bass, and faster, blinky arpeggios. “Efficacy” has melodies that play hide and seek to try and reveal themselves. “Semblance” is more of a gorgeous space waltz drifting out into the ether. “Majolica” is alert splendor which washes up into haze, but “View of Death” is jittery and very close to cracking apart. “Earthen Nova” has some simple notes mangled with delay effects and it also has a neat “on the brink” type feel, even if it’s essentially more calm and relaxed.

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