30 March 2012

Xosar - Ghosthaus (Rush Hour Recordings RH X-1 - 2012)

It doesn't matter if tiger girl Xosar is closely befriended with Legowelt or not. What matters is her impressive entry to the stage of electronic music with an EP of tropical cruizing on L.I.E.S.
Now the next one: Nice graphic sleeve holds red vinyl containing a power snack consisting of "Ghosthaus" and "Rainy Day Juno Jam". Xosar's originals are carried by foggy synth serpentines, only they are too short for a deeper impact. But Legowelt's helping hand has stretched both cuts into two functional jams. A neat but unpretentious release for Rush Hour by a new ambitious artist, already credited for her live appearances.

29 March 2012

Lone - Galaxy Garden (R&S Records RS1206 - 2012)

Release date is May 2012
When catching SL2's breakbeats and piano hook from the rave classic "DJs Take Control" in "Crystal Caverns 1991", all old-timers will be sold. No wonder the track was chosen for the A-side of a teaser single, which predicts the arrival of Lone's first full-length for the reanimated Belgian label R&S.
But the record is not a nostalgic trip to the foundations of the label, because "Galaxy Garden" offers a trend-conscious showcase of 2012 sounds with a blend of UK garage, house and techno influences, in descending order.
Lone AKA Matt Cutler presents an array of smooth rhythms, like in the opener "New Colour", a jazz-house minded cut that sets the tone for entire album. Other highlights are "Raindance", which hosts broken rhythms and euphoric stabs and "Earths Lungs", adding synthetic Glockenspiel to hefty bass lines.
Machinedrum's hazy vocals are featured in "As A Child" and in "Cthulhu", while Anneka's female voice adds a late night house feeling to "Spirals", for a joyful leadout. "Dream Girl / Sky Surfer" is carried by rainsticks and chords with a Latin note and of two chord intermezzi, "Dragon Blue Eyes" is a sheer beauty.
Apart from floor functionality, Lone's playful tunes would fit to Tokyo game arcades, as would Rustie's sound wise similar "Glass Swords". Lone expresses the friendly face of electronic music and carries certain warmth across twelve tracks, with a clear intention to please the crowds in bigger clubs. Also, I have to say that it's difficult to think of any better sleeve design to depict liquefied and multi-colored sound textures on offer here.

26 March 2012

DUST OFF: Tekonivel - Sirkus (Puu PUU4 - 1996)

Sähkö's offshoot Puu has been mostly a platform for jazz, dub, world and other non-techno productions, but in 1996 Mika Vainio made a guest appearance as Tekonivel. A circus-themed three-tracker is not exactly family entertainment - although not such an impactor like "Osasto EP", "Sirkus" is still designed like Pan Sonic's die-cast artefacts. The opener "Klovnit" ("Clowns") animates the crowd with cold hydraulic bass and distorted hum. "Voimamies" ("Strongman") competes in the heavyweight category but suffers of arrhythmia while the mind of "Taikuri" ("Magician") is focused on repetition.

23 March 2012

NX1 - SR (SEMANTICA 42 - 2012)

Release date is April 2012
Cryptic messaging by NX1 aka Tomas Bernabe for Semantica, with two somber tech exercises called "SR1" and "SR2" respectively. Thunder and drone go hand-in-hand, whereas both cuts discover celestial chords closer to the end. Found some common features with Alva Noto and Pan Sonic here but essentially it belongs to the bulk of similar dubbed-out techno cuts by Milton Bradley, Obtane and others. Fits into a darker DJ set.

22 March 2012

Vapauteen - Weld (L.I.E.S.008.5 - 2012)

Don't be misled by jazzy sax on the label, the record is inspired by industrial noise and welds anything that can be welded. Now when Adam X resides in Berlin, Vapauteen takes the responsibility to radiate the hardest sound outta Brooklyn.
"Weld" is a mean and ugly stuff for strobe orgies, with machines screaming like orks in pain. "Measure" adds some bubbling lines to throbbing bass, like Green Velvet used to have in earlier days, and "Mediate" digs deeper with a hypnotizing acidified and heavy loop. If you like Ancient Methods or Traversable Wormhole, this is the one.
L.I.E.S., or officially Long Island Electrical Systems, has been turning many heads with releases by Legowelt, Marcos Cabral and Xosar - mostly labeled as house. Therefore Vapauteen may seem a very surprising signing, but as label head Ron Morelli told to LWE, "I’ll put out some post-punk shit. It doesn’t matter to me, you know? I’ll put out industrial shit. It’s just got to be good music."
Although Vapauteen means "to the freedom" in Finnish, it's not an artist from the Northern Europe but Shawn O'Sullivan from the Northern America.

20 March 2012

Ian Martin - Mechanical Rain (Further Records Fur043 - 2012)

Ian Martin comes from Rotterdam and has previously recorded for labels like Bunker and Strange Life. It might create some expectations, but this is not the usual dark electro or synth disco from Holland. Being a visual artist, Martin has dropped a new album of sonic paintings for Seattle-based Further Records, for moon walking in the paths of experimental music.
So, open your third ear and intercept the opener "Moving Activity", which is bubbling under the surface with electronic strings and scrubbing sequence. "Drups" features a lost drone in a grey jungle of plastic wires whereas "Voice Of Space" takes even a longer leap into the abstractions, in a dimmed and interfered transmission from the endless corners of the Galaxy.
With his two synthies Martin has embedded sounds of instruments that may sound surprising in this type of music: Distorted guitar riffs on a backdrop of biting synth work in "Stream" are a compliment to rock'n'roll days while grind organ and xylophone have found a home in "Wires", along with alien signals in this multi-layered track. For the end, "Mechanical Rain" emits sounds of a shining steampunk device, in a minimalistic piece with somber carillon.
The album is not oriented to the dance-obsessed High Street, but to the poorly lit backyards of electronic music. Very different from the label's previous album by Nuel, it displays the searching mind of an experimental musician.

19 March 2012

DUST OFF: 303 Nation - Strobe Jams I (Dance Ecstasy 2001 DE 3001 - 1993)

303 Nation, the name is the program. Acid from the brotherhood of notorious Planet Core Productions (PCP), a stronghold of hardcore techno in the beginning of 1990's. Based in Frankfurt, it united a flock of labels run by Thorsten Lambart and Marc Acardipane, the latter being the artistic engine using dozens of aliases.
But it was not one-man-show because Fernando Sanchez and Patrick Vuillaume were commissioned to spread etching bass lines to the world. Also behind the 100% Acidiferous project, they put out four releases in the "Strobe Jams" series for a PCP sublabel Dance Ecstasy 2001. From 1993 is the first instalment, expressing the harder and faster side of acid. 303 Nation's trademark sound is heard in the opener "Lightning" while a real manic ride is expected in furious "Magic Fingers". Hollow kickdrum in "Voodoo Machine" is almost PCP hardcore. Caution Acid!

13 March 2012

Plant43 - Dreams Of The Sentient City (SEMANTICA 41 - 2012)

Plant43 appeared on one of Semantica's five year anniversary compilations and returns now with a four-track electro EP.
Most of the new material exhibits the melodic and placid side of electro, starting with "Neon", good for nocturnal downtown cruising in a light drizzle. "Stellar Nursery" embarks on a space mission in more upbeat mood, expressed by blooming arpeggios and subtle disco bass, all resulting in a hefty dose of analog harmony.
After futuristic dreaming and little melody played in "Metamaterial Cloaking", the gates are smashed open in "Fluid Reasoning" for a turbocharged cavalry, whereas Plant43 is not afraid adding some trance quotient to this wake-up call.
Although tempted to compare Plant43's new creation with the output of Gerald Donald, and of another Big D of Detroit electro, his handwriting is personal and free of any annoying cliches. Semantica is becoming increasingly a surprise box of electronic candies: Most of its output can be labeled as "techno", but with a strong touch of versatility from ambient via electro to industrial techno. 

09 March 2012

Vedomir - Vedomir (Dekmantel DKMNTL 009 - 2012)

The release is due in April 2012
Increasingly I have the feeling that Mikhaylo Vityk's Vakula phase was a preparation for the real thing. Vakula's productions showcased his talent, but his house tracks were somehow too dry for me - until Vedomir entered the stage. Already "Orthodox Ambient", released at the end of 2011 on Dekmantel, was a strong one and now, proving his musical maturity, the Ukrainian presents on the same label the first Vedomir LP in April.
„Jump In The Past“ is a perfect start with Michael Knight bass line and slinky chords. The ride goes on with „Musical Suprematism“, sounding like Vedomir has picked up hitch-hiking Peter Baumann for a cosmic synth jam with prog rock influences. Here and there Vasiliy Filatov, a talented keyboarder and co-producer, is engaged for some extra stabs.
While "Casserole 80th" rounds up synthetic adventures of the A-side, "Forks, Knives & Spoons" opens the B-side for a deep house chapter with soulful grooves and sultry chords. A statement called "I Don't Aspire Perfection I Accept What I Have" and "Hello" follow the same smooth line.
Loud bass and loud screams kick off jacking "Scream Kind Of Morning" for a more upbeat tune, followed by "Dreams", another highlight of the record with suggestive voice on techy arrangements.   D-side opens with spiritual electric organ and sunflower mood in "Lullaby" and concludes with a bit abstract cut called "Orud'Evo". A very mature album that shows many faces of Vedomir.
And some final notes about the name: I always felt the moniker "Vakula" being a bad joke about the Transylvanian Count, but  "Vedomir" is cool, signaling power and courage of a mythological Slavonic warrior ...

Stream Vedomir LP 

07 March 2012

Panabrite - Soft Terminal (Digitalis DIGIV036 - 2012)

If a composition called "Rainbow Sequence" opens the album titled "Soft Terminal", it heralds tranquilizing moments and coziness. Having heard only occasional samples from Panabrite's previous work, the new album by Norm Chambers gives a clear proof of his craftsmanship and lets to perceive the lightness of the sound. Eight episodes of the goodnight fables for the young and old to make people dream in color.
Panabrite's music is from a wildlife preserve where wolves and lambs are drinking from the same source. My favorite is "Index Of Gestures", a piece where essential elements of Panabrite's sound creation are crystallized - it's like breathing oxygen-rich air under clear skies. First tones in "Janus" make to think about a guest appearance by Simon & Garfunkel, and the guitar plays a central role along with yearning synth waves, reminding of Nuel's "Trance Mutation", as does the concluding "Sound Softly". In "Beta Axis Terminal" oscillating blobs transform into a synth feast with subtle vocoder and "Microlife" is a deep blue meditative piece.
Some (vocoded) parts of the record remind of Mitgang Audio's excellent album from 2003, but in a much slower note. It's soft and safe, a true example of wellness music. The album would be a good educational tool for anybody having strong prejudice on electronica.
Panabrite and Ricardo Donoso, both under Digitalis umbrella, are the main contenders for the throne of the Lord of Synths in 2012.

06 March 2012

Esoteric - Scarlet Enterprise (Curley Music 08 - 2011)

When the gang of Spiral Tribe ravers swept over the Europe about 20 years ago, Dutch-born youngster Curley Schoop aka Esoteric was one of their associates. His untimely death in 1998 abruptly stopped the career having started already in 1991 when Schoop was a member of a Djax Records signing called D.I.C.E.
To commemorate Schoop and familiarize younger generation with his output, French label Expressillon launched Curley Music for reissuing Schoop's works. On the "Scarlet Enterprise", released under Esoteric guise, especially the A-side is a real gem with rudeboy breakbeats and blatant kick drum. Like a blend of early hardcore and The Drum Club's tribal, it works as a crusty anthem to praise hedonistic lifestyle. The feeling of bonfires and hippie vehicles dominates also the B-side where medium-paced bass drum offensive stomps big time. Two long tracks of old school bliss.

01 March 2012

Music for free: Streaming is believing

Legowelt's recent stunt to offer free download of his album "Teac Life" seemed a compliment to his long-standing fans. It was as unexpected as was subsequent news of the same album being pressed on quadruple vinyl, seeming a silly kind of luxury after the content was, and still is, shared for free. Though, I don't believe the vinyl freaks and Legowelt's true fans will let the LP package gather dust.

But it's not only about Legowelt. It works as a good example where the music, ahem, industry is going to. An increasing number of artists, and not only those seeking the very first recording deal, allow streaming of substantial parts of their releases on Bandcamp or Soundcloud. Given the state of the wired world one can easily fill the living room with new music without paying a penny for it. Also free downloads of selected tracks are more common in order to introduce a release.

Here starts the paradigm shift - either falling in love on the first streaming or discovering the qualities of the release later, the "buy" button will be hit if the music is convincing. The purchase is even more likely when the release comes out on quality vinyl pressing with great artwork.

This form of promotion is for brave ones, artists who believe having put out music that wins hearts and minds. Musical test drives might sound naive in the world of Internet piracy where the artists are stolen of their work and income. What's free is free and nobody gives a damn, or? Obviously we can't fight the piracy overnight, but self-confident artists can offer free rides to strengthen and expand their "client base". Maybe even some of ripping-zipping morons would be reverted back to normal world.

Datura Dilema - Parque Universal Fin (Subsist sub-d10)

When a new artist comes with a 76-minute album it warrants some attention. Datura Dilema is hailing from Valencia and has produced ten cuts of dubbed out and droning techno, released digitally on the Spanish label Subsist. Given strong track record of Semantica, Prologue, Zooloft and other outlets releasing this type of music it’s a serious challenge. Especially when the peak of this sub-genre fell on the year 2011.
Unlike many albums, “Parque Universal Fin” gets better closer to the end. Opening tracks like “Crater” and “Gas Espiral” prefer to stick to stereotypes and don't stand out from the bulk of similar releases. Thereafter  the compositions gradually become more impressive. “Sistema Orion” is already a serious tool making exposed to centrifugal force, although feels shortish with five-plus minutes, while “Planeta Azul” moves in synthetic dreams. Then “El Lado Obscuro De La Luna” prints giant steps on lunar dust in action-packed ten minutes of throbbing bass and alien effects. This is a damaging interplanetary trance worth to be released on vinyl. The selection for lighter moments would be „Gira Sol Gira“, shuffling tech house-flavored cut, and “Asteroides” with hints of acid. Tenebrous voice samples in “Analisis Espacial” turn the thing quite mental for the conclusion. A rather ambitious debut by an artist with concealed identity.