Review: Chicago label Chained Library present some contemplative minimal noise experiments courtesy of the mysterious Agnes who presents the 012016002001 EP and it is mastered by the one and only Rashad Becker: which is fitting really. Fans of Becker's recent works will really appreciate these extreme and at times challenging sonic workouts on both sides, approximately 15 minutes each. Both extended pieces are reductionist electronic sound art at its finest. Very intrigued as to what this imprint is up to next.
Review: Ali Wells's Perc Trax has done incredibly well over the years, and in fact, this latest EP (the third in the series) marks the label's ten year anniversary! Patrick Sottrop aka Kareem drops "Just When You Thought It Was Over" on the A-side, unleashing a militant and subtly dubbed-out warhead for the peak time hours, while Wells himself touches down as Perc with the stormy, wide-eyed sound sculpture that is "Volley". Surprisingly, the kick drum - a menacing pound to the head - only pops up well into the track, leaving space for all other sorts of atmospherics and distortion to surface. Excellent, as per usual.
Review: Benjamin Brunn and Dave Wheels are old studio buddies, having worked together on and off since 2006. "2000", though, is their most ambitious joint project yet: a collaborative album for Sushitech that offers up breezy, melodious and cheery fusions of heady dub techno, gentle electronica, chugging sofa-friendly haziness and glitchy late night hypnotism. It's an interesting blend but one that certainly hits the spot. Highlights include the horizontal pulse of "Orainge", the wonderfully hypnotic after-hours throb of "Iratamoto (Version)", the bold and sun-kissed undulations of "In The Club" and the pie-eyed warmth of "Waldeck".
Review: Once every three or four years, Kassem Mosse drops a new record under a new alias. We've loved the producer's mystique, which he has retained since day 1, because it is representative of a true artist and musician, evolving new ideas while remaining grounded in a particular aesthetic that is personal to him. This debut DJ Residue 12" drops on Will Bankhead's TTT, whom he has kept tight relations with over the years, and has hit us pretty hard. In fact, it is the most relevant depiction of techno, or general warehouse music, that we have heard this year, shifting and morphing endlessly, going from the regular to the utterly insane with pure ease. Sludgy beats, eerie atmospherics, and Mosse's intricate percussion patterns form a beautifully dark variety of noise music. Recommended, as per usual.
Review: William J.Youngman's Headless Horseman project has created a new and exciting techno sound that was only an offshoot of EBM and industrial in years past. Stepping out of his own imprint, the dark horseman lands on Tommy Four Seven's excellent 47 label, tearing through the speakers from the get-go thanks to the toxic sounds of "Revelation", and the even nastier sway of "Concussion". Metallic and hard-nosed in absolutely every way, "Locust" follows up on that with a menacing pounce of beats and cavernous bass, while "Gravity" breaks the techno groove for something much more in line with the likes of Powell's Diagonal output. Big boy sounds.
Review: Romania's newest source of experimental minimalist, Listen2Me, digs up a new talent by the name of MGCH, and shoots him - or her - onto our shelves with this small marvel of an EP. "87" is a delightful tune, a glitchy minimal groove that travels between house, noise and electro with utter ease and pure elegance, a sound that is matured further via the rhythmic sway of the moodier, dubbier folds and clicks of "Is This It". There's a trio of leftfield charmers on the flipside, spear-headed by the warm and placid glow of the near beatless "What For", evolved into something of a lounge house mood on "How You See", and tied off by a dubwise reinterpretation of "87" by Serb. TIP!!
Review: Amongst minimal wave and alternative synth-pop enthusiasts, short-lived London band Shoc Corridor has an excellent reputation. Although they released a pair of albums and a gaggle of singles in 1983 and '84, it is '82 debut single A Blind Sign that gets collectors drooling. On this Dark Entries reissue, it's easy to see why. Flipside cut "Sargasso Sea", a fantastically spaced-out combination of heavily dub influenced post-punk bass, minimalist drum machine hits and liquid electronics, is particularly special, while "On Reflection" is a fine slab of swooning, near Balearic electronica. The title track, a Gary Numan-esque chunk of mutant synth-pop that bizarrely includes some jangly acoustic guitars amongst the arpeggio bass and twittering synthesizer melodies, is also inspired.
Le Syndicat - "Prothesis Pack Xtract 08 (1983)" (3:52)
Le Syndicat - "Maximalist" (Ekman remix) (6:05)
Review: Continuing their uncompromising fusions of artists new and old, Contort Yourself return with a punishing array of industrial thuggery from hardware manipulators you wouldn't take home to your mother. Novacom were last seen on Slumdiscs back in 2014 and here bring a fast and gnarly rhythmic tryst to bear before JK Flesh do their own snagging dance with oppressive synths and drums twirling into a heavyweight whole. French brutalists Le Syndicat then dominate the B-side with their confrontational bastardisation of techno and industrial, making the perfect source material for Ekman to get nasty with on his remix of "Maximalist".
Review: Cold Beat is a San Francisco-based quartet fronted by Hannah Lew (synths, vocals) with Kyle King (synths, guitar), Luciano Talpini Aita (synths) and Sean Monaghan (guitar). Formed in 2013 the band has released three albums and two EPs. 'A Simple Reflection' is a 7-song collection of Eurythmics covers, yet feels just as personal as any of their original material. While digging through a collection of 12?s for her record shop Contact Records, Lew stumbled across the earliest Eurythmics B-sides and was floored. This lead to the discovery of their debut album 'In The Garden'. Annie Lennox's abstract and poetic lyrics really struck a chord with Hannah. What had started out as a single cover quickly snowballed into a full blown obsession. The synth and drum programming resonated with her songwriting process, so reimagining them was very creatively fulfilling. The covers on this EP are simultaneously dynamic and atmospheric post-punk that plays to Lew's ethereal vocals and King's crystalline guitar. All songs have been mixed by Mikey Young (Total Control) and mastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. The record is housed in a jacket designed by Eloise Leigh, which features pink and purple clouds that evoke a dreamy softness and DIY playfulness and photos Lew in her best Lennox-inspired drag. Each copy includes a postcard with photos and notes. "Sometimes a song seems to sing just for you, as if someone knows your most inner thoughts and feelings and has found a way to describe them effortlessly" - Hannah Lew
Review: Speak to anyone who lived through them about the glory days of IDM and German producer Arovane (aka Uwe Zahn) is probably one of the first names they will happily reel off. Between the late '90s and his apparent retirement in 2004, Zahn was responsible for birthing a clutch of classic IDM longplayers like Tides and Lillies, the 2004 LP for City Centre Offices that seemed to signal his withdrawl from music. However, the production bug bit him again in 2013 and there has been a steady stream of Arovane output leading up to this Aarlenpeers EP. Issued on the Touchin' Bass label operated by self professed Arovan fan Andrea Parker, these two cuts bristle and pulse with abstracted electronic life in a manner one expects from Zahn. "Il_Eth" is quite epic.
This Terrible Virtue Of Forgiveness (GIL remix) (4:23)
Review: After almost a year hibernating (presumably within the dystopian ruins of a once proud Industrial city), S S S S man Samuel Savenberg returns with more angry workouts, noisy soundscapes and creepy ambient interludes. Surprisingly, much of the material is more melancholic and unsettling than it is forthright and insanely intense, with only the fuzzy, high-octane crunch of "Stripped" having any serious dancefloor intentions. This is not a criticism, though. In fact, the EP's more considered soundscapes and music concrete style collages are uniformly inspired, with the droning lament of "This Terrible Virtue Of Forgiveness" and yearning "Absence" standing out.
Review: Lhasa is the brainchild of Alain Raes from Siegen, Germany. As a teenager he was inspired by Tubeway Army's "Are Friends Electric" and Art Of Noise's "Beatbox". In 1985 he began collecting analog equipment (Prophet-5; Oberheim OB-X; Linn LM-1) as digital synthesizers had started to become more popular. In 1986, New Beat was born in Belgium. Dancers tapped into the darker side of synth pop, and DJs would play 45 rpm records at 33 with the pitch control set to +8. Alain was playing in New Wave bands and had started production work and synth programming for other acts.
In 1988 he self-released the debut Lhasa single 'Acetabularia' / 'Acetatechno', with help from Kris Tremmery on vocals and concept. The record combined the icy melodies of Gary Numan and John Foxx with with the mechanical rhythms of Detroit techno and EBM. Thematically, both tracks revolve around the end of life on Earth, and include samples from 'Dr. Strangelove'. For this first time reissue, we've added 4 bonus tracks rescued from a 1990 recording session DAT tape. These demos show further development of the Lhasa sound with updated instruments (Roland D-20, Yamaha TX16W, Korg 707), faster tempos, and menacing proto-rave energy. All songs have been mastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Each copy includes an 11x11 poster with photos and liner notes by Alain.
Review: The Kimochi label has been steadily releasing quality output over the last four years and they've been responsible for introducing us to a pool of new talent from the ambient corners. This latest beautifully presented 12" comes in their usual house style and comes from UD, an unknown artist who has already released one EP for the label last year. "Muy Casera" starts things off with colourful minimalism thanks to its glitchy sonics, while "Meticulous" breaks the groove and takes the beeps to an irregular tempo. "After The Cremation" is looser and more heavily focussed on cinematic pads, whereas "Pankow" takes subtle bursts of noise and places them above grey-scaled low frequencies. There's some special appearances on the B-side in the form of two remixes by Leipzig's Mix Mup and Sued's SW: the former gives his own version of "NFL CC DUB", a slow and chuggy beat burning below mild pads, whereas the latter interpretation of "Dewy" contains that classic SUED sound, a bag of rickety percussion and rich soundscapes. Don't miss it, gone before you know it.
After The Cremation (Area Green Green Grass version) (4:23)
Pankow (SW Electrofunk mix) (5:36)
Steamed Up Window (Skookum Reminiscence) (4:06)
Review: Mystery production unit UD returns to Kimochi, one of the more overlooked imprints of the last few years, with four new cuts and a rather fine selection of remixers to boot! The mood is pensive and the sounds are atmospheric throughout, where tracks like "Lollipop Robot" or "Adapter" stand somewhere between ambient and electro-acoustic. The remixes give the tracks slightly more dancefloor weight, and both Area Green Grass and label regular Skookum contribute with a set of pretty killer reinterpretations a-la outsider house, but the silent killer is most certainly SW's remix of "Pankow". The SUED records co-owner fixes up a wonderfully bizarre concoction of sounds and shapes, moulding them into a dubby, sparse and cinematic twister. Another fine slice of Kimochi, beautiful artwork and all.