One of the most enjoyable things in terms of music writing is having new music sitting in one's postbox on a regular basis - the usual mailouts sent by professional promo agencies and labels as well as the occasional surprise that's coming in directly from an independent artist, mostly an album uncommented, probably self-released and without any further information given. Well, not only it's nice to be found and appreciated by artists as valuable source within the vast blogosphere but it's also the discovery process of tracking down a possible origin of the incoming music submission as well as the possibility to explore new musical spheres that might lie beyond one's own personal selective perception. With this album entitled "Up The Hill" by an artist sporting the same name who might be better known to his parents under the name of Henrik Pettersson as Soundcloud finally revealed we can only presume the country of origin although the artists real name points towards Scandinavia but for sure we're able to say that we're taken to new territories here. Little do we know about what's going on in the terms of partly Blues-oriented Pop / Rock music these days or what's been happening in that style in the past so it's not that easy to review an album in this field, although the longing and despair felt especially in the opener "Nature"'s vocal efforts defo brings the more experimental Wave / PostPunk approach of the Nuneaton-based 80s outfit Eyeless In Gaza to mind whilst other songs trigger scrappy memories of Chris Rea on the radio in the early 90s and somewhat before that - so more naturally we're going for the Eyeless In Gaza vibe here. Productionwise - and due to the fact that this album is self-released anyway - the overall recording and mixdown seems to be on a proper home studio level and is way beyond demo-only qualities although a professional finish wouldn't hurt for sure - this goes for songwriting as well as a proper single or a stick-in-your-head hookline is missing here. This said, Up The Hill's self-titled album might more appeal to other fellow musicians than to a wider audience but still seems to be an interesting one to check out if your musical taste embraces classic Pop / Rock / Soft Rock and you're looking for things more leftfield than the genres usual suspects.
Grauhandversteinerung - Wir Pfeifen Auf Den Gurkenkönig [Raketenbasis Haberlandstrasse 007 Promo]
There's some heavy stuff coming atcha with the latest limited release put on the circuit via Raketenbasis Haberlandstrasse which seems to be one of the most active German tape labels these days. And - apart from the 16 pages of the absolutely unreadable and fully incomprehensible additional magazine / booklet entitled "Die gegen 0 tendierende Geschichte" (read as: "The totally random, disconnected story that makes no sense at all") - it's the 21+ minutes long opener "Transgendered Childhood Pt. II", a heavily distorted and super noisy hybrid of Hardcore, Industrial Techno and Tribe Tekno, which - from it's very first bars onwards - makes a clear musical statement about how the worlds going down and how we're all about to end up in hell, no exceptions. Merciless bassdrums and twisted cuts provide maximum mayhem in drugged out concrete bunkers here. With the follow-up "Heptagramm (The Phuture)" we're taken further into Rhythm Industrial wars that are mixed up with computer game bleeps, piano lines on Acid and other madness before the short cut "Der Baum" caters the headstrong with echoes of Post Industrial Hardcore. Turning to side B we'll find tracks like "Verrückte Sachen Von Hinten", "Personenschwanzaenderung (So Siehts Aus)", "Kackschlappen (Radio Edit, 2004)" or "Useless (Deine-Fresse-Im-Nagelbrett-RMX)" and many more meandering in between Rhythm Noize, insane loop attacks, dark'ish drones and alien'esque echo signals as well as brutal bass-lacking Noize Rave signals. Plus: there's lo-fi, analogue Speedcore and musical power violence for those who love a bit more of brutal excess blasting through their stereo speakers. Good stuff for sure.
We love concrete from the depths of our hearts so that's one good reason to totally feel "Zurück Zum Beton" - translate as: back to concrete - as played and performed by the long-time standing Kammerflimmer Kollektief - great song, great lyrics and a sweet little video piece.
Der Meisenknödel Brennt / Als Die Letzte Maus In Barmbek Starb [Raketenbasis Haberlandstrasse 008 Promo]
We all know that the tape-focused Raketenbasis Haberlandstrasse-imprint is an outlet for, well, musical weirdness and heaps of experimental underground sounds but the release of their latest C7-cassette "Der Meisenknödel Brennt / Als Die Letzte Maus In Barmbek Starb" takes even this super leftfield imprint into new territories soundwise. Surely influenced by Musique Concrete, Plunderphonics and early electronic music experiments including the use of tape loops and echoes this weird release is sporting the same track on both of its sides, consisting nearly exclusively of partly layered, echo-heavy vocal loops of unknown origin, possibly taken from very old German Schlager records or - with a little bit of vocal manipulation this is - being produced for the abuse on this cassette. Alongside these vocals we find more loops put in here, mostly quite concrete clicks that sound like heavily scratched vinyl and other mechanical / industrial tones adding their bits to the overall quirkyness of this release. This is a puzzling one indeed.
It's been a while since we reviewed a Dub / Reggae-related album here on these pages but as most of our readers might know we've got a thing going for what's to be referred to as the original backbone and mother of all styles of contemporary Bass Music. So what's been sitting in our P.O. box lately? The sophomore album of Brian May's project Beam Up named "Innerstand", dedicated to the heritage of studio legend Osborne 'King Tubby' Ruddock and due for release via BBE Records on March 9th, 2015 - a thirteen track journey into super solid Dub works, vocally led by Terrence Alfonso Bowry, Jornick Joelick and Katya Tasheva, all rolling out their vocals on top of a vast variety of Dub riddims. Lovers of heavy steppers will be pleased by tunes like "Hanabi Dub" or "Fisherman", the Roots-oriented Dub-head looking for spatial, echo-busting vibes will go for "Dive" or instrumental cuts like "Divers" and "Kick Off", whilst the lover of classic, laid back Reggae will be pleased to come across songs like "No Chains" and "Travelling". "Icchieban", a conjunctional effort with Daisuke Ichihara, introduces some deep and jazzy melancholia that's fused with a dubbed out structure and with "Innocence" we even find a romantic, tender and Dub-related slow jam of a love song on "Innerstand", an album that truly represents all shades of Dub, both classical and modern, in 2015 - showcasing the everlasting fascination of echo, bass and space that's never about to grow old although the foundation for this style has been laid down more than four decades ago. Nice one.
Recently released on February 6th via the ever thrilling Miasmah Recordings label is "The Summoner", the first Kreng album after a four years period of relative silence in terms of new musical works. And, at least according to the album info sheet attached to the promo, it seems like the Dark Ambient / (Neo)Classics composer has been going through some deep personal shit in the meantime that has led to this new album which is dealing with the feelings of grief, loss and mourning on a conceptual level, musically stepping away from a sample based approach in terms of production but relying on an ensemble of 12 string players directed to create unusual droning and plucking sounds on their instruments. Especially the super dense atmosphere created by climaxing Drones is overwhelmingly dark and threatening here whilst the hectic, nervous and often dissonant bow movements create an unresting feel of despair and distress before falling into sudden near silence in tracks like "Anger" whilst tunes like "Bargaining" or even "Depression" serve a more comfy, warm though even melancholia-heavy space in which - this goes for "Depression" only - slow tribalistic drums do trigger ancient memories and subconcious tiers of the human self alongside epic Ambient string arrangements. "The Summoning", a 15+ minutes conjunctional effort created with the help of Amenra, starts out as a cinematic, tension-breathing Ambient / PostPostRock affair before introducing a deep but funky bass guitar repetition that - after about three free-floating minutes - gives way to heavily distorted slo-mo riffing and essential apocalyptic DoomHardcore - an epic musical evolution within 15 minutes and by far the most fascinating tune on this album. After this heavy tournament we see the final "Acceptance" serving a more forgiving musical closing, being a nearly unprocessed piece of calm and tender Piano Ambient that might seem unexpected to some but perfectly makes sense in terms of what the album is all about.
Frank Bretschneider - Sinn + Form [Raster-Noton 157 Promo]
Having announced Frank Bretschneider's most recent album project "Sinn + Form" both on these pages as well as via the Psychedelic Kitchen Blog a few weeks ago we're pretty thrilled to review the full album as the theoretical approach behind the whole album is a quite fascinating one. The sound source behind "Sinn + Form" is a system of modular synthesizers triggered by a randomly generated data set influencing parameters like pitch, volume, tone and others - to cut things short, feeding the system with random data, supervising the likewise random or at least unpredictable result whilst trying to influence the whole thing in terms of aesthetics through improvised change of parameters etc.. The final outcome of this more scientific approach towards sound generation is a dazzling array of non-repetetive complexity where shrieking sinewave bleeps meets digital clicks, alarming electronic feedback loops - especially to be found in the nerve wrecking "Free Market" - as well as some random sweet melody bits and highly amusing tongue-in-cheek twists for those loving their Clicks'n'Cuts from the heart. Surprisingly there's even a slightly, yet abstract dubby feel to be found in the deep rhythm foundation of "Funkstille" whilst the alien'esque bleeps and pecking sounds of "Data Mining" and "Wave Of The Week" seem to sonically depict a variation of exotic interstellar communication - remember that weird extraterrestrial pet thing appearing in John Carpenter's "Dark Star" ? If you do and at the same do approve of complex dynamics in experimental compositions whilst knowing and appreciating the sound of early electronics created at places like the BBC Radiophonic Workshop or Cologne's WDR Studio For Electronic Music "Sinn + Form" might be your album of choice these days to expand your collection. But also aside from this we reckon that "Sinn + Form" is about to appeal to a wider audience these days as - after years of DAW-based production - we've seen a decent revival of interest in modular systems lately so "Sinn + Form" might also be used as a reference and inspiration of what to get from Buchla and Serge Analog synthesizer systems soundwise by new modular fans and users.
I've mentioned this on twitter before and I'll use this space to emphasize on this point again. A fuckin' great tune is a fuckin' great tune - no matter what genre it is or whether there are beats involved or not. Based on a sparse skeleton of all embracing, ever floating basslines and the best synth hook ever created Breakage and Detour City cater a blueprint of 23rd Century Pop music that will go down to the history books of electronic music for a reason. Sheer beauty and a mother of a tune in the original version whilst the VIP on the flip transfers this stunning vibe into a classy NuSkoolBreak context without losing any of the great vibes. Massive!
03. Fabio Crivellaro - Comic Sans Terrorist [Self-Released Tape]
See review for details...
04. Jubei (ft. dBridge) - These Things VIP / Artificial Intelligence - Dillirious VIP [Metalheadz]
If there's one label within the whole of Drum'n'Bass that's equivalent to quality and consistency it has to be the Metalheadz-camp that's mentioned first and foremost. Especially the A-side "These Things VIP", a conjunctional effort of Jubei and dBridge, is nothing short of a banger, fusing a futuristic, stripped down and uberly cold approach to Drum'n'Bass reminiscing of late-90s Virus Recordings releases with sparse, longing off-kilter vocals asking "These things - they come and go - I'm here - where are you?" into a super tense break in which each and every sound comes to a total halt. A priceless contrast to all these stab and synth loaden Rave Drum'n'Bass tunes out there and hopefully only the beginning of a rising, minimalistic darkness that's overdue for a reason. On the flip we see Artificial Intelligence providing a dark stepper as well, bringing in deep, threatening tunnel sounds, mean alien basslines and a bit of amen attack here and there to a nice effect but still it's Jubei & dBridge serving the stronger, more impressive tune on this 12".
05. Second Moon Of Winter - One For Sorrow, Two For Joy [Denovali Records 219 Promo]
See review for details...
Strange days these are and I feel that a bit of change lies ahead in my personal perception of and consumerism towards music, especially new music. The farther I'm away from the regular club circuit both as punter and as a DJ, regarding the fact that my most recent club appearances took place about a year ago and, since then, I've been focusing on embracing the more art-related, audio-visual side of electronic music when taking part in the Berlin-based, experimental television show #lsb_TV, the less I feel the urge to dig for new music, especially when it comes to recently released club music which, in most of the cases, I simply cannot relate to anymore as it either is just another variation of things I've heard thousands of times before or, referring to stuff like SlowHouse, GipsyHouse or the so-called DarkTechno, I simply don't get or embrace. Maybe I've come to a kind of repletion effect being backed by a collection exceeding the 5k-mark widely or it's just a change of attitude towards a kinda collectors point of view, trying to get hold of records I missed back in the day for one reason or another so my focus in buying music is more backwards-oriented recently. Strangely enough, I still feel well-prepared to eventually step up to a club or festival stage again at some point, not necessarily playing what might be called a 'classics set' only but with a more reflected attitude of having been around electronic music for decades now and the ability to present a blend and amalgamation of timeless and worthwhile quality electronic music, fusing things old and new, telling tales of great vibes and deep tunes instead of caring about the latest hype. This said, watch out for further musings in podcast, radio and experimental TV spheres as well as the occasional appearance in the art world.
Within nine years only Will Long's solo since 2009-project Celer has churned out an amazing mass of, mostly Ambient, music with a discogs count of 115 releases in this period including an astounding number of 84 albums alone, including his most recent output "Sky Limits" which has been put on the circuit via the highly recommended Baskaru-imprint and which serves further explorations of Ambient music, this time featuring embedded field recordings taken in the Japanese cities of Kyoto and Tokyo throughout the years 2012 and 2013, bridging the gaps between the slowly floating, organic and possibly healing beauty of Long's compositions like "Tangent Lines", "Equal To Moments Of Completion" or "Wishes To Prolong". But, despite all this beauty, it seems like these small extracts from a foreign countries original everyday soundscape are the more or at least most interesting bits on "Sky Limits" as - a problem well known to the experienced Ambient head in general - most of the genres possibilities have been heavily explored throughout the past two decades, especially when it comes to its emotional, string-loaden and slightly kitschy side, which results in a feeling that one might've come across the musical story told in this album a few times before and at some point in the past. That said we're not about to diminish the musical quality of "Sky Limits" in itself which is well crafted and definitely living up to the genres quality standards but after having listened to a good bunch of Ambient albums before one is not necessarily taken by surprise here. For die-hard Ambientists only.
Second Moon Of Winter - One For Sorrow, Two For Joy [Denovali Records 219 Promo]
Put on the circuit via Denovali Records earlier this month is the first ever release of the Ireland-based ensemble named Second Moon Of Winter which recorded their six track debut "One For Sorrow, Two For Joy" within a few short live sessions only, without any aftertouch of any kind - no editing, computer wizzardry or even overdubs involved here. This said, the result is a pretty remarkable one, swinging around in the field of Jazz Noir, Opera and supercinematic (Neo)Classical music whilst even touching the borders of medieval sounding elements, Avantgarde Music and dark Drones in tunes like "Ghandi Missed The Train" - a piece that not only turns out to feature intense droning but also massive reverb that makes one wonder how large that south Ireland basement must've been in which this thrilling EP was recorded. Compared to the tune mentioned its follow-up "Magpie", despite sporting quite dark'ish lyrics, starts out on a more playful, even slightly romantic vibe before a heavy electric guitar cuts through the niceness, serving a crass, yet not fully disturbing contrast for a while, introducing a part driven by careful improvisations. This same guitar is making a second appearance in "Cigarette"'s first half, complementing the Opera-like vocalisms and later making way for more oriental instrumentations. Closing with "Where The Blue Meets The Green" we're through a thrilling 27 minutes journey that is surely one of a kind, not only due to the fact that it's about to appeal to Avantgarde folks as well as to a more conservative audience usually leaning towards the more traditional paths of Classical concert music. Recommended.
Released only a few days ago via Twin Seed Recordings is "IV", the well-obviously fourth full length album of Midaircondo which the pairing of Lisa Nordström and Lisen Rylander put on the circuit on their very own imprint. Recorded live and in front of an audience without any kind of technical safety net the our-savvy Swedes that have played around Europe, Africa and the American continent since their first album "Shopping For Images" was relased via Type back in 2005 easily flow through their set here, serving a fascinating and unique amalgamation of Dark Jazz and Noir Listening which have to be named as main and most important musical landmarks, uberly precise Downtempo Electronics, super calm Ambient ("Sun Upon You") that seems to be influenced by music for meditation from the Eastern hemisphere, threatening, bass heavy soundscapes ("Solitude") and lovely bits of Future Jazz. But not everything is about pure listening pleasure only here as Midaircondo - similar to their Icelandic sister at heart Björk - also incorporate more physically moving, dancefloor fitting elements in occasional songs like "Veins" which are, although not produced with a heaving audience in mind obviously, impellent enough to set bodies in motion at some point. The fragility and longing expressed in the thrilling Clicks'n'Cuts reminiscing "Apology" brings some tunes of Portishead's "Dummy" back to mind immediately whilst the ultrasparse "Quakes" are as playful and friendly as classic Plaid songs but, like most of the eleven pieces to be found on "IV", layered with a unique vocal approach that includes both classical singing as well as playing around with syllables and sounds created by the human voice - without any specific meaning but athmospheric presence. The closing cut "Closure" does not only sport a great name but brings back the calm Ambient sound and mix it up with elements taking from NeoClassical music and free floating Electronica, perfectly rounding off an album well-remarkable. Nice.
Following Atari Teenage Riot since their early days when we saw them playing live in Hamburg at a rave party around 1994 and bought their "Deutschland (Has Gotta Die)" and "Into The Death" on the legendary Digital Hardcore Recordings compilation "Harder Than The Rest" in late 1995 it's pretty obvious that we're kinda thrilled to get our hands on their new album "Reset" which is causing riots even more than two decades after the bands initial launch. And although quite a lot has changed in their music since these days e.g. the distorted Breakbeat ultraspeed violence has vanished some years ago being replaced by what's to be called a highly compressed electronic StadiumRock- / IndustrialRock-attitude even sporting some melodic, EDM-like breakdowns - see the albums title track for that - that never would've been found in their early works their lyrical message is still as raw, uncompromising and riotous as ever, especially in tunes like the massive cy-war anthem "Death Machine" or the ravaging "New Blood" , both able to shape the minds of a future generation of kids starting to embrace the music of Atari Teenage Riot whilst going through their formative years. Referring to the chorus sequence of "Modern Liars" or "Crash" the band's approach is surely slightly over the top as their adding a total kitsch-overload here, but regarding the fact that "Reset" was originally intended as a Japan-only release it all makes sense again whilst the follow-up tune "Transducer" serves an uncompromising CyberPunk-attitude. Pure grinding, slow-motion evil is served in "Erase Your Face" which might be referred to as equivalent to "Death Star" on their 1997-released "The Future Of War" and the angelic intro synths of the closing track "We Are From The Internet" are playfully abusing Trance cliches only to blow 'em with banging drums, super distorted guitars and a clear lyrical statement on the power and empowerment of a single individual in the digital realms. A high-octane fueled ride this album is and surely one that's about to make people rethink the system and the structures that do surround them.
The man's on a dark Dubstep tip with this tune. Would love to see the aftermath when those twisted basslines touch down on jam-packed floors through a massive rig. Serious damage and destruction guaranteed.
Fabio Crivellaro - Comic Sans Terrorist [self-released tape]
Cassette tapes are a big thing these days, making a slightly unexpected underground comeback and so we were pretty pleased to see this little limited self-released sucker in our postbox today, bringing us the (non)-music of Fabio Crivellaro which was - according to the inlay "...produced, arranged, recorded and poorly engineered" throughout the period of 2011 to 2014. Issued as a hand-numbered edition of 50 copies only we see the artist exploring a wide spectrum of sounds within a range from grooving Rhythm Industrial / Power Electronics to feedback loops, excursions into Tracker Drum'n'Bass and even Lowest-Fi ItaloWave that, for some reasons, brings bands like Troimucha Croupisuldos or the legendary "We Don't Care About The Haircut" Nik Kershaw tribute compilation back to mind which both were released on the great Augsburg-based Dhyana Records imprint back in the days. Furthermore we'll find Ingenious Dilletantes crossing over with Drum Machine- / Feedback Jazz, Lo-Fi Electronica sporting all-embracing sinewave bass modulations, distorted TrackerCore, nerve-wrecking feedbacks, Minimal Wave and other treats nursing the needs of true underground aficionados (and ultra-nerds) with a vast musical variety that is, in most of the cases, pretty unlikely to be served by a single artist these days. Especially watch out for the, well..., uberhit of this rare album which is the pretty obscure Industrial Wave-cover of The Swans "I Am The Sun".
Starting into a new year with a collaborational album we see the French label Baskaru serving "Calibrated Contingency" these days, a 47 minutes live performance recording of a conceptual show set up in 2011 by Bernhard Schreiner & Achim Wollscheid. At this show which happened in Graz both artists - wall-separated - were performing a show each on two stereo speakers in front of an audience which, and here things start to get remarkable, happened at the same time. Doing the maths this is 1 show = 2 artists / sets = 2 x 2 speakers = huge cacophonia depending on where one's location with the double stereo would be - a setup that fits the artists well as both Wollscheid and Schreiner are well-familiar with the art world as the main body of their creative work is to be found in exhibitions or installations rather than in music only releases. With "Calibrated Contingency" the stereo field aspect is emulated through a stereo recording of the performance, including a bit of talk coming from the audience at the very beginning before the sound even is on. But, although the intention is charming and a proper documentation of such events a cultural must, it seems like this recording works best for those that were present at this very place when all of this happened, able to recap certain situations, moments or sound events throughout the whole performance as - especially in the first part of the recording - not everything falls into place and harsh eruptions, cuts or dynamics seem to be of a more interfering, kinda random nature rather than to complement each other. So we see more decent droning and ambient'esque spheres presumably created by Achim Wollscheid with his set-up of computer and boundary microphone collide with Bernhard Schreiner's raw sounds created with computer, induction coil and radio, more often to an irritating than pleasing effect, sometimes just like a two random field recordings clashing or - and supposedly this is to happen more often when one's listening to "Calibrated Contingency" over and over again - at its very best moments creating something really interesting like it happens around minute 27 when some gluey alien sounds emerge out of nothing, creating a sudden thrill whilst some artificial sci-fi flies are exploring a muddy extraterrestrial environment. Possibly a grower for lovers of experimentalism in its most experimental form but for sure not a release that the vast majority of even those usually listening to Drone or ElectroAcoustics will fall for.
01. Champion & Mele - Get Down EP [Formula Records 009]
02. DJ Haus - Helta Skelta [Clone Jack For Daze 024]
03. Umwelt - Guts Of The City / Drug Culture - Horned Be The Hunter [Rave Or Die 003]
04. Larry Levan's Paradise Garage: The Legend Of Dance Music Vol. 2 [Salsoul Records]
05. Der Meisenknödel Brennt / Als Die Letzte Maus In Barmbek Starb [Raketenbasis Haberlandstrasse 008 Promo]
06. Grauhandversteinerung - Wir Pfeiffen Auf Den Gurkenkönig[Raketenbasis Haberlandstrasse 007 Promo]