30 April 2011

Nacho Patrol – The Africa Jet Band Experience (M Division MDIV07)

Rating: 8/10
Synth freak Danny Wolfers continues his explorations in soulful disco and funk under the Nacho Patrol moniker, delivering a genuine-sounding fiesta of vintage grooves. Except of the knowledge that this record has roots in black music, the references to Africa remain limited and one should not expect any tribal shakers here.
Both "Stars Over Africa" and "Salambo Funk" are thriving party fare with vigorously working synth lines, known from Legowelt's many productions. "Fuzz Party" and "Ghetto Compressor" move closer to jazz, but real bliss comes in "No Angry People" - such a happy track with fizzy synths and captivating rhythms that bite like snakes and make it an ultimate feel-good tune for the spring 2011. Just cannot get it out of my head. For the end, some Mesopotamian feeling comes up in "Solomonic Dynasty".
For those with serious appetite for patrolling nachos, a limited package with 12-inch, CD album and a mix-CDR would help, to make you stuffed for a while.

25 April 2011

Univac - Radiation (Bunker Records 3092 - 2011)

Rating: 10/10
Calling it party electro would mean we have a misunderstanding right for the start. While maintaining dark shades of Bunker releases, "Radiation" just keeps going with energetic treatment for hips and thighs. Plenty of banging and roaring tracks of good vintage electro style, in almost LP length for full enjoyment.
A1 bears some resemblance with "Numbers" by a famous Düsseldorf collective and A2 is like a armada of jet fighters taking off for a mission. A3 is my pick of this record: a very functional track with memorable stinging sequence and really works on the body, got hooked on that. B2 is another intensive cut with subtle acid lines while B3 smells and sweats like EBM. It makes to think of Univac's Spanish heritage, of El Aviador Dro, Esplendor Geometrico and others. B4 is a menacing builder for the end of this impressive release.
Bunker Records, the label that gave us Unit Moebius, Inter-Ference and other heroes coming from the sewers of The Hague, has found in Univac an artist that made my day.

20 April 2011

Various - HÕFF (Trash Can Dance TCD102011)

Rating: 9/10
Difficult to imagine that Haapsalu, a town at the Estonian west coast, is a thrilling place. But a medieval castle, where White Lady is appearing at full moon in August, makes the spot suitable setting for HÕFF, annual festival of horror and fantasy films that is held at the end of April.
On this occasion, Trash Can Dance has issued a compilation of darker rhythms and voices from the Estonian underground scene. As a small jubilee - 10th release in the TCD catalogue - the sampler provides a good insight into the scene.
Spice Mouse opens and closes the compilation with sad songs about vampires and blood, but otherwise the rhythms are well present. Wave and industrial zone starts with Several Symptoms and energetic pop by Mimicry. "Ratatouille" by Opium Flirt, found on the band's album from 2010, is remixed by 3Pead and carries strong EBM flair while this year's revelation Cosmos Laguna is engaged in technoid "Underwaterwar".
Then I really like Robosapien that keeps a good balance between melodic layers and EBM-like beats and a good find is also Tagasi Tulevikku that combines machine music with Estonian folk rhythms. Imandra Lake, that made big waves in the alternative scene last year, is on an instrumental shoegaze tip and eclectic Aamen plays with motoric beats and sound effects. Two ladies of Shirubi Ikazuchi conduct experiments with beeps and rhythms and Hypnobooster, to issue much-anticipated debut this year, has a lady doing Estonian vocals on somber but functional backdrop. Great job also by blue chip industrialists from Forgotten Sunrise who go back to native roots and perform a shamanic rock ritual.
Coming from manic-depressive department, Morgue's Last Choice and Edasi have doomed all the beauty in life, whereas Milla's echoes and subtle but massive bass is just devastating, partly reminding of Ultraviolence in a dampened mode. Kirst is both majestic and macabre with a meditative contribution of compressor synths.
I would rather spend my time on listening to this CD than sharing not so original observations about it. Full tracklist is here: http://http://www.hoff.ee/programm/hoffi-cd.

Opium Flirt + 3Pead sounds like this:
Opium Flirt - Ratatouille (3Pead Remix)

Extended example of Hypnobooster's style:

17 April 2011

AU - Zero (Bunker Records / Panzerkreuz 1001-2)

Rating 7/10
The music for trees that die standing tall. From the darkest corners of ambient comes utterly minimalistic drone that does not have much motion or emotion.
Cold embrace of "Angel Of Death" makes clear that the playwright has decided to let gloomy frequencies play with abstract noises. In "For Jupiter" distorted voice is overrun by rumbling semi-percussion carrying the power we do not know.
The anxiety eases in the first part of "Zero" that covers more than 16 minutes of the B-side. In the beginning it is breathing cold air in the vastness of Mongolian steppes, before strange exotic voices and more dramatic sounds emerge. "God Bless Us All" is a brief conclusion of the release.
Having keen interest in extremely stripped and threatening soundscapes, the AU release felt very promising during pre-listening. But for fully getting into it, the record has to be played loud or listened with top headphones. In my view AU's "Zero" is written for open-minded home listening, because "dance" is hardly associated with this kind of creation.
As expected, following the evaporation of voluminous Panzerkreuz Mantra Box from the stocks of Godspill, fans of Bunker get a second chance with pricey single releases. AU and Toner High are the first available and probably others are in the pipeline.

11 April 2011

MD0 - Sepone Wisdom (SD Records 19)

Rating: 8/10
First it made me think of UND, the duo that produced theatrical tech-house with tongue-in-cheek attitude. MD0 turns an eye to Asia having captured voices from the life on young Japanese ladies who are fond of designer clothes and chic jewellery. Sound wise it is quite eclectic mix of techno, house and electro.
The A-side reveals its qualities in time as the second half grows into hectic acid house. Ladyships have fun and keep the party going while the sounds are pretty schizo. The B-side is, despite of girlie giggling, is heavier and delivers compressed electro funk that we know from former SD releases. Because of swaying percussion it reminds of Louis Guilliaume and of The Drum Club. Oh-la-la, quite a naughty thing and not for techno purists.
SD Records had several stellar moments some years ago, with releases by Syncom Data, Guilliaume, Roswell Return and others. The label is still in business and this anonymous artist, carrying the quality seal by SD, has succeeded in doing a playful release of a different kind.

10 April 2011

Tropic Of Cancer - Be Brave (Downwards 8)

Rating: 9/10
This is like a garage band performing in front of black-clad indifferent youth. Although ignorance reflects in distorted vocals and droning sounds of the Tropic Of Cancer, this is a release with passion and attitude.
This is not a well-polished production as even the voice of Juan Mendez is in unshaven mode when pushing post-punk thing with Camella Lobo. First ten seconds of "Be Brave" made me think about the return of The Cure, but despite of some rock feel the monotone track is an electronics monster with bass support.
Gloomy vocals of the original are gone on the B-side. It is reduced to one ever-present bass riff and a real legend is behind this vertiginous interpretation - Richard H. Kirk.
If a Downwards fan would wake up from a ten-year cryogenic sleep, he or she would immediately see that the world has changed. Instead of classic techno bangers the label is seeking new ways and with Tropic Of Cancer it has another example of forward-thinking electronics. The band will continue the travels with another EP due out mid-April and published by Blackest Ever Black.

07 April 2011

Moritz Von Oswald Trio - Horizontal Structures (Honest Jon's HJRLP54)

Rating: 9/10
This is a little provocation. Firstly, for well-scented audiences that share the passion for opera and Wiener Symphoniker and despise anything that sounds even a little bit electronic. Secondly, a provocation for club kids who may accept dub techno, but believe that classical music is crap.Two different worlds could get closer when listening to this all-star-team of electronically minded musicians.
Moritz von Oswald, Max Loderbauer and Vladislav Delay, plus Marc Muellbauer and Paul St. Hilaire on guitars, provide musical excursions not only for the fans but also for the open-minded in both groups described above. The band has created a colorful carpet of sounds, derived not only from dub techno but also jazz and blues. The music flows like in a broad river with muddy waters. The release makes an introvert impression but it is something to be enjoyed at a fireplace and in a DJ set alike.

06 April 2011

Out soon: Iori - Lapis EP (Prologue 019)

The countdown has begun - in 30 days a real techno rocket takes off. Fire and thunder are united in the new EP by Japanese producer Iori. The sound samples tell that this will be a much anticipated release and another killer by Prologue Music. Iori's "Lapis 3" was already my favourite track in the Smoke Machine DJ mix by Prologue boss Tom Bonaty.
My review is here.

Emptyset Feat. Cornelius Harris - Altogether Lost (CLR 042)

Rating: 9/10
In my view a surprise collaboration on Chris Liebing's label CLR. Emptyset did the album debut a few years ago, searching for experimental hardness and since that not much have been heard about the duo.
Would not have tipped CLR the label that welcomes new material by Emptyset but the job Ginzburg and Purgas have done here is excellent. Having on board Cornelius Harris, a member of the UR camp and known as The Unknown Writer, adds special meaning to the release and, with the voice and rhyme part by Harris, the result can be filed under Techno Meets Poetry.
Harris's suggestive performance rules the A-side where intense textual part is complemented by Emptyset's bassful and distorted music that partly sounds like a giant insect crawling on a sheet of thin paper. B-side is remixed by the label boss himself who reformatted the track for big-room purpose. Indeed, this is a release that has power within.

05 April 2011

Out soon: Tropic Of Cancer - The Sorrow Of Two Blooms EP (BLACKEST003)

This graphic does not depict any visuals of this record
The other face of John Mendez. Known as Silent Servant (Sandwell District) in the world of techno, Mendez and singer Camella Lobo are digging deep with the experimental project called Tropic Of Cancer. The band will release the third twelve-inch mid-April 2011.
Instead of Downwards, a techno-label-turning-experimental, "The Sorrow Of Two Blooms" is published by London outlet Blackest Ever Black that has rapidly gained recognition as a platform for gothic electronics.
Tropic of Cancer - A Color
Buy vinyl

03 April 2011

Thomas Fehlmann - Live With Strings And Percussions (Kompakt 224 LTD)

Rating: 8/10
Fehlmann's every new release is significant. After world-changing days in The Orb, and before that in Palais Schaumburg, one can expect the gentleman would spend quiet days in the Caribbean, after a man's work in the world or music. But Fehlmann is still around and returns to Kompakt with a live recording.
Yes, it's live and you can hear crowd noise in the background. Two-track single is dedicated to beautiful electronic music with strong acoustic elements. Strings, horns and subtle percussion follow to the beatless ambient intro in "Titan One". Violins and repetitive patterns add some intensity to the second half of the composition that reminds of modern classical works. It is not a far-fetched statement because "Titan One" is inspired by the 1st Symphony of Gustav Mahler, the sleeve notes say.
Strings and percussion are also well present in more mechanical but bright "DFM" that runs with a bundle of chords. It contains well concealed trippy elements of The Orb, or is it just my imagination. Well-constructed mature music that could address the audiences who prefer concerts starting well before midnight. I hope Mr Fehlmann does not think about retirement yet.

Octave One Revisited Series 2 (430 West 4WCL002)

Rating: 8/10
Unlike rebellious UR, house-oriented 430 West that was set up and run by Burden brothers of Octave One, showed the intellectual side of Detroit electronic music and was soundwise closer to Planet E. The label's extensive catalog contains many evergreens, but for me it has been difficult to find real faves among Octave One's output.
With one clear exception - "I Believe", co-written by Anthony "Shake" Shakir, has been a memorable track, for bright days and early hours at parties when it felt like a light breeze after harder techno beats.
To hear Sandwell District remixing "I Believe" might seem pretty unexpected. Techno masters of the moment have added boom and bass making it harder sounding tech-house but still handle the tune with care, maintaining the ambiance and lightness of the original. The track gets quite rough before the fadeout.
On the flip "Daystar" is another Octave One classic and redone by Aril Brikha, now back in the spotlight with a reissue of "Deeparture In Time". Brikha complements the grooves of the original with deeper bass but remains mostly true to his warm and chord-driven style. Somehow a record that is difficult to miss for any Detroit lover.

Video: Lucy And Xhin - LX3 (CLR 044)

Have to return to "LX3" that keeps spinning in my head. Lucy and Xhin have made a real masterpiece for the techno floor and the video captures mechanical spirit of the track.