Skymall: Fooled By Randomness (Beta Bodega Coalition, 2020)

June 21, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Skymall: Fooled By Randomness

I saw Skymall several times during the basement breakcore 2000s (I still have a mousepad he tossed into the crowd) and his sets were always riotous and exciting. He barely released any material (an EP on Doormouse’s Distort, remixes for Otto Von Schirach and Mochipet, this infamous Slayer/Cypress Hill-sampling rager) but now he’s finally released a lost album produced between 2001 and 2008, which means that he’s officially outlived his namesake. Making no attempt at any sort of linear progression, his tracks are stop-start bursts of gabber terror, sharpened hip-hop snippets, dissolving musique concrete interludes, and the odd ambient bit (“Floaters”). “Rubber Cement” sounds absolutely vicious and pulverizing for a few minutes until it turns into a cheery (but still quite lethal) chiptune jaunt… only to be torn down by gunfire. Two tracks with Dino Felipe add some cracked melodic textures to the sandpaper glitches. Any sense of tranquility induced by “Don’t Move” is immediately nullified by the flesh-scorching “Blank Stare”. Fooled By Randomness is a long-overdue document of one of extreme glitch music’s underappreciated artists.

Bay B Kane: Coronavirus Relief Pack (Ruff Guidance Records, 2020)

June 20, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Bay B Kane: Coronavirus Relief Pack

Jungle oldskooler Bay B Kane recently posted this name-your-price collection of over 2 hours of tracks he produced during the past decade or so. Right from the start, the alphabetically arranged tracklist jumps from trap-tinged breaks to chilled-out R&B hardstepping yet atmospheric NYC rap. Kane helped originate jungle, having released his first EPs in 1992, but his sound has always evolved and incorporated up-to-date influences while remaining true to the sound of classic jungle. Both old and new school DJs will find much of use here. Generally, these tracks don’t go for break choppage overload, but they’re still forceful and highly detailed. There’s still some crushing breaks here though, like on the slower, sax-y “River Nijer” VIP, or the killer “Hello Darkness” VIP, both finely tuned ruffage. “Past Tense”, another slower paced track, is a hit of dark, abstract trippiness with slicing, metallic breaks. “Peace & Destruction” sums a lot of this up nicely: some calm atmospherics, but lots of deep bass and killer breaks. I think you get to idea, there’s a lot to savor here if you’re a dyed in the wool junglist.

Kesswa: Soften EP (self-released, 2019)

June 19, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Kesswa: Soften EP

Detroit-based singer/songwriter Kesswa recently played a sold-out concert at Underground Resistance headquarters, which she recorded for a release. I didn’t make it to that performance, but I saw her open for Sudan Archives at Deluxx Fluxx in March (the last show I’ll be able to attend for a long time) and it was fantastic. Soften is her self-released debut EP, and it’s a brief but marvelous showcase for what she does. Her fluid voice matches the lush, hard-to-define sound, flowing between jazz, soul, techno, and broken beat. The incomparable Ahya Simone adds harp throughout, and it’s seamlessly woven into the fabric of Askanse’s earthy yet futuristic productions. “Contemplate” is the most dance-informed song here, but the beat is a muted shuffle rather than upfront banging. “To Find” edges closer to footwork or drum’n’bass, but feels much too expansive to be defined as anything. And then there’s the opening and closing takes of “Open”, which is both empowering and mind-expanding. Recently interviewed for Bandcamp, she said she’s working on her own album as well as the next Shigeto record, which is amazing news on both accounts.

Suzi Analogue: SU CASA EP (Never Normal, 2020)

June 18, 2020 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Suzi Analogue: Su Casa EP

Three new songs from Suzilla, created on a Moog Subharmonicon. The title SU CASA seems to allude to house music, but that’s only a part of the equation — her sound remains as uncategorizable as ever. “LIKE LIKE” is a fun ode to the elements filled with bumpy beats and octagonal melodic sequences. “Way Outta” is a more introspective tune with somewhat stripped-back beats making way for Suzi’s powerful lyrics (“I had to challenge my perspective”). “PPL PWR” is a faster, punkier track closer to last year’s “LOUDR”, but with more of a socially relevant message (“The people should rage/If you’re not coming together/then tell me what are you doing?”). The EP showcases Suzi’s own voice and lyrics more than some of her recent releases, while her rhythmic constructions are as vivid and inventive as ever.

Toiret Status: Otohime (Orange Milk, 2020)

June 16, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Toiret Status: Otohime

Isamu Yorichika’s first vinyl LP is a bit less beat-crazy than his previous cassettes, which sometimes flirted with mutated footwork; these tracks often resemble more of an implosion of rhythm. The rhythms are there, but the drums on opener “#86” are replaced by splashes, squeaks, and sometimes just silence. “#67” starts out sounding like it might be easy to follow, filled with pops, squishes, and chattering voices, but at some point the rhythm bunches up like a rug underneath a cartoon character trying to scurry away but staying in place. “#76.5” goes the other way, actually gaining more of a steady beat as it progresses, until it almost sounds like Bogdan Raczynski (in gurgly voice mode) making trap… and then bouncing squeaky toys off of the beat. “#78” is an arrhythmic sequence of short, blippy cartoonish sounds, sounding like a video game where you have to hit a lot of fast-moving shapes and they all trigger different sounds, and then that turns into bursts of rhythmic buzzing and distant, hazy vocals. “#65” is the biggest, most vivid explosion of drums, which get derailed by chattering voices at the end. Co La (NNA Tapes, Software, Orange Milk) assists on “#77”, a jittery click-dub piece filled with chattering voices and digital ribbits, as well as an atmospheric guitar break which ends up being the album’s most serene, relaxed moment. “75.5” is a colorful dance of minimalist patterns outfitted with computer clicks and bubble pops. The album ends up being less of an explosive neon rush than it starts, but it’s still fun, strange, and surreal.

Deyeying: Living (El Cuco Recordings, 2020)

June 13, 2020 at 7:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Deyeying: Living

Redhat’s newest project is sort of a resurrection of witch house, with gigantic neon synths and trappy beats crawling along. It seems to express the pressure of being alive on a dead planet, not quite feeling at home here, or having the will to live, but not ready to find out what’s on the other side, either. Or maybe not sure what side you’re on, hence the opposite artist/title. Super uneasy, but also balanced, and it expresses this inner existential turmoil splendidly.

scrap.edx: People of the Longhouse (Voidstar Productions, 2020)

June 13, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

scrap.edx: People of the Longhouse

Based in my home state (Connecticut), scrap.edx has been producing high-quality breakcore, rhythmic noise, IDM, and what have you for around 20 years now. “People of the Longhouse” is a technoid track with some industrious percussion and some glitching, but it’s all very precise, clean, ordered, and functional. A sample during a pause in the rhythm projects a message against police-state surveillance, and the beat gets stompier, injecting just the right dose of energy for the message at hand. The other track on this single is by Children of Men, a hip-hop project scrap.edx’s Joshua Colella, and it sounds something like Aesop Rock recording in a cave with a broken beatbox. The beat drips like water from a stalactite and the emcee’s rapidfire rhymes bounce off the cave walls, getting more tragic and macabre as they progress.

Enduser: Timeline EP (Inverted Inhumation, 2020)

June 12, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Enduser: Timeline EP

One of several Enduser releases so far this year, Timeline is a 30-minute cassette released by a label based in Rotterdam. It’s a mixture of live tracks plus bits from collaborations and field recordings, each mixed into a side-long track rather than separated out into distinct songs. It starts out with some choppy, oldskool-leaning breakbeats with atmospheric post-rock guitars and continues in a sort of dark yet breezy direction. The beats are persistent but there isn’t any heavy, growling bass charging hard, it’s way more reflective than that. And then just a few minutes before the end of the first side, divebombing breakcore erupts out of nowhere, elevating what already seemed grand into something transcendent. The start of side B dices up some voices (an investigative report, maybe?) then drives breaks through some landmine fields. It picks up a bit more than side A and feels a bit more like a chase through different dimensions. Distant transmissions from Thailand and Malaysia add a ghostly presence to the mix. It gets a bit more storming by the end, but still keeping a gentle melodic feel. I should probably also mention Enduser’s song “Collapse”, another recent Bandcamp upload, which instantly became one of my favorite works of his on first listen. So destructive, so furious, so much going on. Instant classic.

Bogdan Raczynski: Debt EP 12″ (Unknown to the Unknown, 2020)

May 24, 2020 at 11:50 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Bogdan Raczynski: Debt EP 12″

I absolutely love the fact that there’s suddenly demand for old Bogdan Raczynski material. This resurrects tracks from before he signed to Rephlex, and it’s mostly fizzy, hacked-up hardcore that could still be mixed into a techno set, but would probably make most ravers’ skin crawl. He was still leading up to the bonkers brilliance of his IDM/breakcore stuff, there’s no funny voices or mutilated breakbeats, but it’ll still make you bounce around and crash into things. Hopefully since he’s excavated so much past material, he’ll find someone willing to release his newer, modular stuff.

Addison Groove: Fred Neutron (Gutterfunk, 2020)

May 20, 2020 at 7:11 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Addison Groove: Fred Neutron

Addison Groove’s third album is a potent soundclash which hybridizes dub, juke, breakbeat hardcore, and much more. “Bass Trips” is some steady U.K. bass pressure, with complex beats digging ever deeper. “TeknoJuke” is directly halfway between both, like a more stripped-down, pumped up “Jaguar” with a pinch of breaks thrown in. “Dreamscape 12” is sprinting breaks with a sneaking garage bassline, and “Laguna” is lush, ecstatic ambient footwork. “n(y)o͞oträn” is just as knotty as its title, while “Rale Dawomey” is an earthy flute-and-percussion track featuring Haitian musician Chouk Bwa. Near the end, “Out of Nowhere” is one of the album’s most direct doses of blissful yet melancholy atmospheric juke.

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