Debugger: Thread Safety EP (Beatnik Boulevard, 2019)

July 19, 2019 at 6:39 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Debugger: Thread Safety EP

Microhouse is back!? This EP is a flashback to the sort of micro-edit-riddled click-house you probably haven’t even thought about since Akufen’s heyday. This artist doesn’t do the “surfing the dial” random samples the way Marc Leclair did, but he has a similar knack for twitchy yet danceable rhythms which slip in the occasional jazzy organ, soul vocal, or other traces of humanity into the android deep-house rave. Certainly this sound has been done before, but it was such a niche style then, and it’s been dormant for so long that it just ends up sounding like the future again.


Minimal Violence: InDreams (Technicolour, 2019)

July 19, 2019 at 6:17 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Minimal Violence: InDreams

Vancouver duo Minimal Violence have made the undisputed best dark rave album of the year. Using nothing but analog hardware, they play fast, heavy, nightmarish techno that seems designed to trigger fear and excitement in equal measure. They mix vaguely trancey synths and gabber-ish beats on tracks like the punishing “June Anthem” and it never sounds contrived or cheesy. Then there’s “New Hard Catch”, which is somewhere between EBM and breakbeat hardcore, and just as awesome. “InDreams” is the album’s anthem, with an instantly iconic melody, and a remix by Cardopusher is rawer and more goth. Fantastic stuff.

Sam Hooker: On the Water (self-released, 2019)

July 19, 2019 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Sam Hooker: On the Water

Well known throughout the Detroit noise scene for his solo project Tarpit, Michigan Underground Group member Sam Hooker’s latest album bears his own name. This is a disorienting set of pieces filled with ghastly tape loops, murmuring voices, and a constant feeling of being distracted and swept away, yet you’re still right in the center of everything. After the nearly nightmarish opening track, “Moving in the Way” is a flurry of detuned clatters and clangs with a sinister, tape-smudged monologue buried underneath. “On the Water” is a bit less musique concrete-sounding, with bells floating around scratchy, drawn-out guitar notes and resonations. “Smoke Downstairs” mixes creaking sounds with swerving bass and the vaguest hint of a bubbling melody, and sounds really bizarre, mysterious, and beautiful. “Seven Cars” had lots of wayward echo along with its lumbering thumps and sinister muttering. “Dock” feels like it was recorded on one during a coming storm, with splashing joined by booming noises with accelerate near the end. “Warm Down” is one of the trippiest tracks here, filled with ominous piano notes and some absolutely mutilated noises. A must for anyone who appreciates Aaron Dilloway, and other noise artists who focus more on tape manipulations and voices rather than harshness.

Rafael Anton Irisarri: Solastalgia (Room40, 2019)

July 12, 2019 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Rafael Anton Irisarri: Solastalgia

Rafael Anton Irisarri continues to tower over everyone in his ability to build these dense, overwhelming, abundantly emotional musical environments. The title Solastalgia refers to mental or existential distress caused by environmental change, and that could refer to the entire globe, but it takes on a more personal tone knowing Irisarri’s recent past (all of he and his wife’s belongings were stolen when they were preparing to move a few years ago). Either way, this is heavy, devastating stuff, compounding gloom and hope and anger and despair until it all just becomes this giant all-consuming force. If you’re familiar with his other Room40 releases like The Unintentional Sea and A Fragile Geography, this is a similar type of experience, and just as vital.

Pas Musique: The Phoenix (Alrealon Musique, 2019)

July 12, 2019 at 8:11 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Pas Musique: Phoenix

Pas Musique’s latest mixes several types of rhythms with improvised sounds and vocals. It’s industrial, Krautrock, noise rock, and techno all at the same time, and while it could be overwhelming or messy, it works. There’s a few sampled snippets (including a bit about an electronic brain, and one assuring that you’re among friends), but the actual vocals are all stretched, contorted vocalizations rather than lyrics. You think they’re saying something just outside of your comprehension, but it’s all an illusion. But it still feels like they’re speaking in some sort of code and this is a transmission from a top secret lab somewhere. Not to mention, there’s a song on here called “Miss Globule”, which I assume is a takeoff on a certain Stereolab song, and anyway it’s just fun to say globule.

CVN: I.C. (Orange Milk, 2019)

July 12, 2019 at 7:01 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment


CVN is
Nobuyuki Sakuma, formerly of Jesse Ruins, and this is his second album for Orange Milk. While representative of that label’s hyper-detailed, surrealist output, this is notably more pop-influenced, especially on the opening track, a sweet R&B/rap tune featuring NTsKi. A few tracks have trap or club beats, but there’s also more abstract pieces like “Snippets of Heaven”, which set sporadic glitches and samples against a blank background, similar to Seth Graham and other Orange Milk artists. “Local Pain” is more wistful and has some smooth waiting-room guitars. “Zen of Equilibrium” is sort of relaxed, spring garden techno, while “Ikasama” has harder beats without getting too aggressive, then switches to a more dramatic beatless section during the second half. Throughout the album, CVN’s productions are intenselt designed, but there’s always enough human feeling so that it doesn’t sound too clinical.

Kompromat: Traum Und Existenz (Clivage Music, 2019)

July 12, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Kompromat: Traum Und Existenz

Vitalic’s “Poney Part 1” is an all-time goth-rave classic, but most of the stuff he’s done since that first single hasn’t really been quite as exciting. However, this first album from his duo with Rbk Warrior is electrifying. Very solid dark electro-pop with French and German vocals, alternating between hard stompers and a few slower, dreamier tunes. The more pumped-up tracks absolutely bang, particularly “Herztod”, which I can’t get enough of. Check that one out if nothing else, but the whole album is really well done.

Ben Hall & Don Dietrich: Tiger Swallow Tail LP (Radical Documents, 2019)

July 10, 2019 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ben Hall & Don Dietrich: Tiger Swallow Tail LP

Detroit percussionist Ben Hall and free jazz/noise improv legend Don Dietrich (Borbetomagus) divert from New Monuments (their trio with C. Spencer Yeh) for their second album as a duo. This is two 15-minute sidelong improvisations, and they’re both absolutely fantastic. The first side is a constant rush of tumbling drums and frantic sax which blurts, squeals, and squiggles. Side B gets even better, as Dietrich plugs his horn into a bunch of juiced-up distortion pedals, and basically duets with himself, trading off solos that alternately sound like razor-sharp guitars and harsh noise bludgeoning. Hall is there thrashing away in the background, carrying it all along in some sort of haphazard manner. It’s just incredible. Viciously recommended.

Grave Nature: Ascending (Lotta Continua/Flag Day, 2019)

July 7, 2019 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Grave Nature: Ascending

Former WCBN DJ Chris Matthews plays in the dream pop group Distant Creatures, but here he branches out with his instrumental project Grave Nature. This is vast, deep stuff filled with strings, guitars, synths, acoustic percussion, and even power tools. It’s somewhere between Barn Owl and Stars of the Lid — dark and doomy but not exactly approaching metal, with space rock and neo-classical influences. The album was built over 2 years from several sessions (some improvised), and it’s so layered and detailed. Just witness the subliminal voices buried underneath “Ephemeris”, or the way “Azimuth” erupts into noisy storm clouds. But then there’s more delicate moments, like the pianos on “Barco” and “Pale Blue Dot”. “Twin-Bodies” is where it gets a bit cosmic, but not quite in the same way as every band in the last decade who tried to sound like Tangerine Dream — this sounds more like blasting off into space using a rocket assembled in someone’s back yard. “Plotting One’s Course” is mellower and sways to the rhythm of hand drums. “Aligning Instruments to Astral Coordinates” is one final convergence of strings, horn, and heavenly feedback. CD and download available from Bandcamp.

Huey Mnemonic: EP 12″ (Vanity Press, 2019)

July 4, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Huey Mnemonic: EP 12″

Flint’s O’Shay Mullins surfaces on Vanity Press with a four-track EP of varying moods and styles. “Healing Chamber” is the type of light, skittery electro track that sounds both underwater and up in orbit, bubbling and gliding with equal ease. “Hydrocity” is more braindance-y electro-techno, with a nice subdued yet sharp melody, and it’s over and out without causing much of a fuss. “Vibrations Radio”, however, isn’t about to let anyone pass without getting down and enjoying themselves. Breaks, banging rhythms, energetic vocal samples, a piano/string breakdown — it’s all here, what else do you need? “Emissary” is just pure joy, with bright, springy bass notes and those 808 State loon sounds, nailing that late ’80s/early ’90s sound without sounding like a pointless rehash pastiche (of course, that type of sound is more up-to-date than it has been since it was brand new). Fantastic, beautiful stuff.

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