Jones Jones: Just Justice (ESP-Disk’, 2022)

June 25, 2022 at 2:44 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jones Jones: Just Justice

This album of “spontaneous evocations” is played by the trio of Larry Ochs (saxophones), Vladimir Tarasov (drums), and Mark Dresser (bass), who have collectively performed as part of Rova Saxophone Quartet, Anthony Braxton’s group, and Ganelin Trio. All of the song titles have the word Jones in them, making this set feel like a family of sonic siblings. “Call of the Jones” has the most immediate bite to it, with furious bowed strings and feverish drums milling around the sax blurts. “Jones in the Sonar System” starts out more nebulous, then gradually gains some rapid bowl-like percussion, which catches the ear more than anything else. “Jones Free Jones” starts out with kind of a walking groove before it sort of washes itself in acid. “The Further Adventures of Miss Microtonal Jones” is a fitting title for the song that seems to be trying to stretch past physical boundaries the most.

OHYUNG: imagine naked! (NNA Tapes, 2022)

June 21, 2022 at 7:28 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

OHYUNG: imagine naked!

This album’s porn spam-like title is highly misleading, as it’s one of the most creative, serenely beautiful ambient releases of the year. A huge departure from the artist’s previous noisy experimental hip-hop recordings, this one concentrates on lush, fragile loops, with very subtle alterations and drifting field recordings creating faint ripples which end up having a major impact. All of the exclamation marked titles are taken from a poem called “vegetalscape” by t. tran le, and the album does exude more of a playfulness than other ambient/minimal releases. Opener “my torn cuticles!” is the type of highly repetitive 16-minute loopscape that I would have no problem with if it continued for hours and hours. “i’m remembering!” is a series of evenly paced notes hopping gleefully in succession. “to fill the quiet!” is a gorgeous flow of static-laced waves, with melodic variation indicating that this is a living, breathing organism. “yes my weeping frame!” is an entry into the “long, rambling, repetitive piano spiral” subcategory. “philodendrons trail!” seems like it’s going to be a simple dripping, fuzzy sequence until the sounds become magnified and blown out of proportion. Lastly, the non-CD “releases like gloves!” hits the spot if you just need to hear a few simple notes repeated for an indeterminate length of time. It lasts 37 minutes, and it does slow down a little bit by the end, but put it on repeat and play it in the background and you’ll barely notice any difference as it approaches the end and loops back around.

x.nte & Elevation: Singularity Fallout (Deathbysheep, 2022) + x.nte: Aggressive Stereo Sound (Kitty On Fire, 2022)

June 20, 2022 at 3:03 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

x.nte & Elevation: Singularity Fallout

Both x.nte and Elevation have maintained the chaotic, anarchist spirit of breakcore while introducing new elements, and for that they receive a lot of love around these parts. Singularity Fallout is 20 minutes of concentrated innovation, with each artist providing 2 solo tracks in addition to 2 collaborations between both of them. Both of the collaborative tracks brilliantly patch together drifting melodies and cacophonous, rapidfire breaks and noise bursts, ending up with some of the most broken, destructive music that still can be tied to the lineage of jungle and hip-hop. As jumbled and nonlinear as their music is, I find it soothing as well as stimulating all at once. x.nte’s “Wake Up” has a bit more of a consistent rhythm, and again it mixes a hyper tempo and shouted samples with soft, calming pads. There’s also opera vocals and ragga-jungle samples, and they make a strange sort of sense existing in the same track. The Elevation tracks include one that riffs on the Lyn Collins “bad sister” sample, letting its mind wander and throwing in a few harder breaks, but mostly keeping it steady and reflective.

x.nte: Aggressive Stereo Sound

The newest x.nte solo album is another brilliant collection of explosive tracks held together by the artist’s unique sense of logic. The breaks are often fast, abrasive blurs with airtight edits, yet they can still seem splattered and uncontrolled. Occasionally there’s some structural framing to the tracks in regards to which sections have more aggressive kick drums or other intense elements, but this is still far from DJ-friendly. Even the most mellow and transcendent track (“hearts”) isn’t afraid to throw in some lacerating noise-breaks. “rebirth” is simply a stunning expression of an aggressive moment, reflecting on a tense encounter and just bursting forth with concentrated fury. Yet this music never registers as strictly negative and joyless, the mixture of emotions is what keeps it engaging. It might be too random or discordant for a lot of people, but I get it entirely. Both x.nte & Elevation are true visionaries of the current breakcore scene.

v/a: GUKUBA – Presented By ANTI​-​MASS Collective x Never Normal Soundsystem (Never Normal, 2022)

June 19, 2022 at 10:53 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: GUKUBA

This long-in-the-making compilation is an exchange between East Africa’s ANTI​-​MASS Collective and Suzi Analogue’s Never Normal Soundsystem, creating hybrids of multiple styles of Black dance music and exploring innovative approaches to sound design. Several tracks arrange choppy beats into hypnotic patterns, with footwork in their DNA but still coming out quite different. Some tracks tap into the rhythmic density of jungle and breakcore while using African percussion instruments (Elevation x Authentically Plastic, No Eyes x Nsasi). No Eyes x Turkana’s track is just absolute breathless mayhem. The Safiyahh tracks mostly revolve around various styles of booming techno, and the Tayhana x Turkana one is closer to batida. Simply an incredible, groundbreaking project.

Golden Feelings: s/t (Impermanent Records, 2022)

June 13, 2022 at 6:56 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Golden Feelings: s/t

Moving beyond the subliminal drone-dub-noise of his previous work as Skin Lies, Dustin Krcatovich make his debut as Golden Feelings, creating music with meditative purposes in mind. The entire album is tuned to 432 Hz, but it’s not the kind of mind massage you’d expect from Steven Halpern, where the music is generally more of a sea of notes designed to heal and soothe rather than stimulate. This is plenty soothing, but it also has its tripped out elements, like all the backwards flowing and note bending during the dusky opener “Body Betrayal”. “Tripper John” also has some slowly dripping drum machines and softly blazing guitars in the spirit of early HNIA. “The Dregs of Me” is a darker, more sideways drift, with an eerie sort of tunneling noise beneath it. Little else compares to the way it levitates, but also feels invisibly ruddered. “‘To’ Is A Preposition” is the 20-minute conclusion, and while it’s the easiest track to zone out and do breathing exercises to, some brighter, hotter, more concentrated sun rays cycle through, especially near the end.

Underground Resistance mega-post

June 11, 2022 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Wavejumpers: The Sunken Treasure EP

Underground Resistance doesn’t release new music very often, so a new batch of fresh releases and reissues is major news. Unfortunately Submerge wasn’t open this year during Movement weekend, but the nearby Underground Music Academy hosted a popup shop which stocked some UR merchandise. The most buzzed-about new UR release is the EP by Wavejumpers, a duo including Tyree Stinson, brother of the late James Stinson of Drexciya. Tyree previously released music on UR as part of the Aquanauts. As expected, this is Drexciyan electro machine funk, although it seems a little more repetitive than that group. The tracks are meant to be played at 33, but there’s pitched down voices and kind of stiff midtempo beats, yet it clearly sounds wrong at 45. The last track has a pretty excellent groove but the ending is surprisingly abrupt. It’s a good record but it isn’t going to surprise anyone who is familiar with Drexciya or UR.

Mano De Fuego: 12″ EP

Mano De Fuego, on the other hand! I had no idea what I was in for, and as soon as I put the needle down on the first side, I was just grinning from ear to ear. Straight up classic UR, at their most positive and uplifting. “Sol” just bleeds sunshine and I could listen to it on loop for hours. “Descenso” is more electro, and “Mito” is another truly joyous, lightbringing UR-style techno-soul track. Just a lovely, amazing record. Essential UR and an excellent first showing from the mysterious Cedillo Brothers.

Mike Ellison: Covalence 12″

I also picked up a new reissue of Electric Soul’s “X²”, a classic Mad Mike electro track originally released on Direct Beat in 1996. I hadn’t even heard this track before, but it was a huge late night radio hit in Detroit back in the day apparently, just a fantastic night cruiser with effects-shrouded vocals and a levitating synth break. The reissue has a remix by Tommie Cool, which I guess must be new, but it’s minimal and barely has any vocals and it’s just not as memorable or exciting as the original. Finally, the other new UR release I picked up was “Covalence” by Mike Ellison. It has four versions of the same track, two on a house side and two on a techno side. Mark Flash’s edit on the house side is the winner, with more UR-style uplifting synth chords backing and elevating the spoken poetry, which touches on Detroit techno’s legacy and its future. The poem is then isolated on its own. On the other side, the Detroit Tech Edit strips out nearly all the words and just sticks to the beats, then the Extended Edit incorporates the full lyrics, but there’s a lengthy instrumental intro so it’s easy to mix. Definitely more of a DJ tool side, I like the fuller emotions of the Mark Flash mix better, personally.

Peter Coccoma: A Place to Begin (Whatever’s Clever Records, 2022)

June 7, 2022 at 7:50 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Peter Coccoma: A Place to Begin

Ambient composer Peter Coccoma’s first album was inspired by a trip to a frozen island in the far north part of Lake Superior, following the near death of a loved one. Coccoma worked on music there as winter turned to spring and the lake gradually thawed away, and eventually the water burst forth into motion. His music seems to capture that seasonal awakening, from the rising of “Opening” onwards. Reverb stretches the keyboard notes and strings (by Clarice Jensen and Oliver Hill) outward, dissolving them into mist and regenerating. “A Connection to All Things” has a much deeper bass swerve than you would expect for an ambient piece (that one Stars of the Lid track notwithstanding), and “Towards Light” has some similar rumbling at the beginning, reminding me of Thomas Köner’s best work. “Clouds of Understanding” has richer strings, turning into more of a neo-classical meditation. The short but sweet album ends with the cloudy, slightly warbly tone poem “Begin”.

µ-Ziq: Goodbye Remixes (Planet Mu, 2022)

June 6, 2022 at 6:08 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

µ-Ziq: Goodbye Remixes

Right in front of this Friday’s release of the new µ-Ziq album, I figure I’d better post something about his latest EP, which is remixes of the EP built around the album’s first single. Magic Pony Ride is intended to be a sort of sequel to Lunatic Harness, which is getting a 25th anniversary reissue soon, so it’s a return to the more jungle and breakbeat hardcore-influenced side of µ-Ziq, but not quite the type of inspired madness present on his most legendary album. “Goodbye VIP” is basically just a bass-heavier variation on the single. The remixes come closer to the footwork influences of his work from the 2010s, and the Planet Mu label as a whole, since that sound is generally missing on the album proper. Still, footwork-adjacent producers like RP Boo and Jlin incorporate more breakbeats than on their usual work, and DJ Manny seems to toughen “Goodbye” up a little bit without losing its essence. Newcomer Xylitol helps the track bloom a bit more, giving it more springlike synths as well as harder breaks and more biting acid.

Raphy: You Can Have A Piece Of My Soul For The Lows (Bruiser Brigade, 2022)

June 4, 2022 at 11:51 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Raphy: You Can Have A Piece Of My Soul For The Lows

A member of the Detroit Lines collective as well as Danny Brown’s Bruiser Brigade, Raphy presents this mixtape made up of 16 vignettes, each of which seem to be fashioned from old soul records played with a needle that constantly skips. The tracks are slowed, stuttered, and played at shifting speeds, and there’s also a sort of morse code beep pinging through it all. It’s just a masterful example of how to take broken, malfunctioning “mistake” sounds and incorporate them into something that sounds complete and deliberate. Glitch-hop rarely ever sounds this soulful.

Saajtak: For the Makers (American Dreams, 2022)

June 3, 2022 at 8:51 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Saajtak: For the Makers

Detroit electro-prog band Saajtak have finally released a full-length after putting out several mesmerizing EPs and becoming a must-see live act. Their songs are unpredictable collisions of hard-to-contain rhythms, synth cascades, and Alex Koi’s operatic, expressionist vocals. “Concertmate 680”, early on in the album, is the type of Saajtak track that catches my attention, with fast, rattling drums and tumbling synth notes and glitches, plus vocals that soar and re-sample and fold in on themselves. “There’s a Leak in the Shielding” is one of the album’s progressive epics, flowing from poetry to dream pop to freewheeling drum alchemy. Detroit saxophonist Marcus Elliot guests on the prismatic funk jam “Borders”, then “Oak Heart” is a time-dilating duet with the stunning David Magumba. “Mightier Mountains Have Crumbled”, the final 8-minute suite, has space for both tender, floating vocals and abrasive noise-spiked frenetic, physical percussion. I’m absolutely amazed to see the progression this band has made, landing on a well-regarded label like American Dreams and expanding their collaborative circle.

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