31 December 2011

Stingray - Enters The Unknown (UTTU 005)

Rating: 8/10
After strong releases on Viennese label Trust and his own imprint Micron Audio, Detroit's Stingray313 strikes again, now in collaboration with DJ Haus for the Unknown To The Unknown label.
A1 is for speed racers as it runs like on 45 and offers wild breakbeat staccato with deutsch vocoder. "The Sadist Pt 2", a fatter version of the original with vocoder interference and melancholic synth hooks in the background. The B-side is conquered by remixers who disintegrate the original into two fine versions - Dopplereffekt scientist Heinrich Mueller is lost in micro schemes and Cestrian's work is an interpretation in classic electro vein.
Stingray313's recent output confirm him going his own way and the media should stop crediting him as "only" a DJ of a legendary Detroit electro act, which name starts with D.


23 December 2011

Rrose - Merchant Of Salt (Sandwell District SD19)

Rating: 9/10
Sandwell District is rocking again, one year after gorgeous "Feed-Forward" album, and with Rrose's second single expands the catalog with another push of turbo-charged techno. A signing of 2011, Rrose delivers two taut cuts, starting with flashlights and subtle drones in "Shepherd's Brine". Dramatic breaks and evil synth serpentines are applied to irritate any residential area.
"Waterfall" on the B-side drops the speed, but this steak is served as raw. Patients carving for lobotomy are admitted from the four-minute mark onwards, being before hit by huge copper-plated sonic pendulum. Love the title, "Merchant Of Salt", too - it expresses both hope and despair.


20 December 2011

Drexciya - Journey Of The Deep Sea Dweller I (Clone Classic Cuts - C#CC22CD)

Rating: 10/10
"Journey Of The Deep Sea Dweller I" is for Terminal 313 and any other electro head the most anticipated reissue of 2011. In fact a compilation, it catapults us back to the 1990's when enigmatic Detroit act was still around. No need to repeat numerous superlatives that have been associated with James Stinson's and Gerald Donald's project over the years - just give us the music.
It's like meeting old friends again, with most tracks known from original releases and "The Quest", so far the only CD compilation of Drexciya's work. Included are "Wavejumper", an anthem of aquatic commandos, "Bubble Metropolis" with it's radio drama intro and smooth electro beats, B-boy boogie in "Take Your Mind", mathematical vocoder in "Rubick's Cube", lab-sterile Dopplereffekt soundbites in "Dehydration" and many others. Exclusive to the release is "Unknown Journey I", a fine daydreaming electro piece with background boom-boom and a real hidden gem.
Starting a series of four compilations, Rotterdam's Clone label has made a monumental step in sharing the legacy of Detroit's electro innovators. Vinyl is on order, but decided to go also for the CD in nice digibook case, especially when the track lists are identical.


19 December 2011

Nuel - Trance Mutation (Further Records - Fur 038)

Rating: 10/10
Close the door and enter the relaxation chamber with oil massage and fish therapy. Manuel Fogliata a.k.a. Nuel operates a spa of sounds to purify minds and bodies. After a couple of technoid releases, most recently for enigmatic Aquaplano Limited series, it's quite unexpected to hear the Italian on such a esoteric tip. Looking at the publisher, Further Records, the absence of booming drones is not a surprise, if we just think on fellow Italian's Donato Dozzy's album on the Seattle imprint last year.
At first sight the orange vinyl in silk-screen printed Ancient Egypt cover depicting ibis-headed god Thoth - one extra point for that - may possess a low techno quotient, but the album, as an uninterrupted hommage to repetition, gives another perspective how to perceive techno. Downtempo polyrhythmic excursions with guitars and analog percussion lend to "Trance Mutation" a new age feel without drifting away from the rhythm structures of floor-targeting ammunition.
Listened to the album three times in a row, which happens rarely, and not because of finding it difficult to access, but because with its hypnotic loops and well-dosed melodies it gradually became a part of ambiance. If asked about favorite tracks then I would mention "Correspondence", "Polarity", and especially "Rhythm", which is like a journey up to Machu Picchu, but essentially it's one entirety.
By making "Trance Mutation" feeling very live and acoustic, it might find wider audience even among those who see electronic artists as ambassadors of soulless noise. A soothing experience for this time of the year.

18 December 2011

Alva Noto - Univrs (Raster-Noton - r-n 133-2)

Rating: 9/10
Pff...dff...zhlkk...ghzz. A rational mind has spoken and composed fourteen interpretations on the theme "Uni". Despite built on metallic loops and particle noise, the album sounds very sterile, coming like from a whitewashed, even clinical environment.
Among the tracks you find experiments with Balinese bells and asymmetric sound channels, will be exposed to the low bass strewn with Morse signals and followed by the hydraulic steps of a rhythm giant.
My favorite is "Uni Acronym", a monotone cooperation with voice performer Anne-James Chaton, who recites three-letter-abbreviations like KGB, NGO, TGV, UPS, etc.
Occasionally reminding of Pan Sonic and Autechre, the album is a a fine example of machine rage. In this manifestation of pedantic conceptualism nothing seems to be accidental.

14 December 2011

San Proper - Groundfloor Afterlife (Studio Soulrock STUDIOS006)

Rating: 9/10
Good thing about record stores is that you end up buying artists that you consider "unknown" until the act of purchase. San Proper did not ring any bells until listening moments at Rush Hour Amsterdam, now it seems to be among best releases of this month. Home spinning confirmed the choice to be excellent with Amsterdamer's scarce beats and stripped-down house arrangements.
On the A-side San Proper has sneaked into financial district elevators with his field recording equipment to examine the charms of lower spheres of high-rises. Hypnotic humming-along and bony percussion mixed with noises from the world of motors and sultry voices make "Groundfloor (UpfromdaWall&on...)" a good choice for any demanding dance floor.
"Berlin Afterlife" combines aircraft noise, xylophonic bells and public transport-related voice samples for a tranced-out deep house cut. Two extra long tracks between Giegling, Kassem Mosse and Hauntologists. Einsteigen, bitte!


11 December 2011

Falke - Undermyarms (Kann Records KANN 09)

Rating: 8/10
Kann Records from Leipzig made a debut with impressive double pack in 2008 and current vinyl by Falke confirms the label on the top German deep house scene.
"Undermyarms" is a track with two faces: first minutes are dominated by heavy bass heralding a tribute to darker acid house, but then piano and panpipes are unveiled for a smoother trip. Grooves get so dreamy and even trancy that Cosmic Baby or DJ Dag would be obvious choices for remixes.
"Late Night" combines the deeper sides of house with simple, but consistent acid lines while "Flying" is built on a unpretentious bass moves reminding of italo patterns, so here I would invite Nancy Fortune to lend her sexy voice to a vocal version.
Innovation is not the strongest feature of this record, but Falke has managed to combine a puzzle from colorful elements of the house music history. A positive release that brightens up your day. This spot in the skies of house music is in fact a falcon carried by strong protein-filled wings.


05 December 2011

KPLR - Untitled (Digitalis Recordings digiv037)

Rating: 9/10
KPLR has enslaved technology to conduct high-end acid experiments with punishing repetition and whirling EQ-effects. It's pure unlimited programming that systematically avoids looking into the books of current techno idols. Occasionally the tracks remind of early Bunker output like Acid Planet, but those looking for bass-driven 303 slammers will be surprised. Also, the act has shown courage to resist the bass obsession by finding attraction in treble levels of the sound. It seems KPLR has noticed tiny elements in acid patterns, picked them up and built entire tracks around them.
No ambient intros, no gradual introduction to the theme, because the opener "cirkuit syntax" is a short but drilling exercise that is followed by a twin brother called "timespan". "tny mzk" has lost all the vowels and sounds like a small vicious bird, while "tny mzk (cw bll)" fuses mutilated voices and cymbals.
If you think the LP is uneasy home listening for weirdo tech-heads, then please meet a bundle of three tracks related to "cirkuit". All of them are for moments when the floor asks for a little extra after a straining techno night. Armada of synth effects and rusty analog loops rule in "cirkuit rn#1", mixed with cacophony of short-wave radio bands. "cirkuit rn#2" reminds slightly of early UK techno, e.g. "House Of God", while "cirkuit rn#3" is stamped with hardcore and punk textures. Finally, deep bass enters the stage in "Sub Hype", in unison with beeps and creaks.
KPLR's previous release "TEK NO MUZIK" made old raver's heart beating because of retro techno semantics and made to anticipate the duo's further explorations in the sound. The new album confirms KPLR (now Dexter Brightman only, earlier release were done together with Jair Espinoza) as an artist who does not pick up common templates.
Digitalis, a label that ventures on exciting paths of the contemporary electronic music, has been an essential outlet in 2011. The label policy is very unpredictable, if we only compare KPLR's fireworks with ambient and synth excursions by Jürgen Müller or Ricardo Donoso, whose "Progress Chance" belongs to my favorite releases this year.

01 December 2011

11/2011: Darkestral, Sandwell District, Kann

November was a month of several quality releases that required to extend the Terminal 313 top at Juno to twenty entries. Label of the month title goes to Darkestral that tops the ranking with "Last Train To Lexington", a raw electro two-tracker by Transportation AAD. In the third spot is "Darkestral EP", a various artists release featuring Grey Goo, Vaalhaala and Transportation AAD with tracks ranging from fine-painted electro to dark ambient sounding cuts. Another winner is Sandwell District, recently excelling with high-voltage techno by Rrose ("Merchant Of Salt") and by Silent Servant ("Hynosis In The Modern Age").
Since its launch I've kept an eye on the output of Germany's Kann Records that adds another beautiful deep house release "Undermyarms" by Falke. More train themes come from Ex-Cabaret Voltaire man Chris Watson, who (field-)recorded in Mexico a concept album for Touch, which issued two remixed tracks on a nice EP called "El Tren Fantasma".
Good stuff also by K Alexi Shelby, Karl O'Connor, KXP and many others. Although I usually do not add represses/reissues to the ranking, the 2011 release of Boo Williams's classic "Home Town Chicago" is worth a special mention.
Direct link to the chart.