Gate – Saturday Night Fever

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[ MIE Music, 2016 ]

Recluse Disco: Michael Morley of The Dead C has been creating music under Gate moniker since the late 80’s, constalty exloring the outer bounds of the lo-fi aesthetic. On 2016’s Saturday Night Fever he flirts with disco and dance music, adding a beat to his rusted soundscapes, something that took listeners by surprise on 2010’s A Republic of Sadness. Here he takes his beat work to the next level, making his tunes almost danceable, on the verge of mutating into a full-on dancefloor banger. But then again, almost. The four tunes on SNF bear the signs of being a dancey records, but Morley makes sure this is his turf: his tuneless singing, washes of white noise, walls of distortions gradually overtake and drown out the funky brass sections or catchy basslines, turning the Saturday night party into something deeper and more primal. If the sound of the Dead C is like regular rock music abandoned on an empty parking lot and left to rot, then Gate’s Saturday Night Fever is a smashed mirror ball left to decay on the dance club’s backyard. Recommended!

Jonas Reinhardt / Jürgen Müller – The Encyclopedia of Civilizations vol. 1: Egypt

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[ Abstrakce Records, 2017 ]

In the first installment of The Encyclopedia of Civilizations, a long-term project by the Spanish label Abstrakce where different artists are asked to present their visions of various ancient civilizations, the land of the pyramids is the focus of two West Coast synthesists. Jonas Reinhardt and Jürgen Müller (the more esoteric side of Panabrite’s Norm Chambers, making his first appearance in the musical world after 2011’s Science of the Sea) split sides on this vinyl LP with their progressive electronic visions that translate the hieroglyphs into arpeggios, sequences and New Age approximations through a series of Teutonic impressions with a mythical edge. I told you man, the pyramids were built by the aliens, man. Synth-wielding aliens. Highly recommended!

Pin Park – Krautpark

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[ Instant Classic, 2017 ]

We Are the Knob Twiddlers: Krautpark by the Polish duo Pin Park is the result of a meeting between Maciej Bączyk and Maciej Polak, who entered the studio shortly after Bączyk’s synth broke down and Polak lent him his own EMS synth. The result a collection of largely improvised, old-school psychedelic electronic soundscapes, with influences ranging from Cluster to Boards of Canada, in the creator’s own words. Sometimes bordering on glitch, at other times getting close to the classic Doctor Who theme, Pin Park push the limits of the old hardware to forge a distinctively retrofuturistic sound.

Chino Amobi – PARADISO

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[ UNO NYC, 2017 ]

The map of Tumult: Emerging from the depths of the Internet, the co-founder of NON netlabel and Richmond citizen Chino Amobi has slowly worked out a personal brand in the world of digital punk through a string of EP’s, singles and mixtapes, resulting in the debut full length PARADISO, out on the NYC based label UNO NYC known for fishing out visionaries and weirdoes such as Fatima Al Qadiri, Mykki Blanco, Gobby or Arca.  PARADISO may be overwhelming not only at the first listen, but also at the second, third and so on… Hell, it may always be a bit overwhelming. But what else you might expect from an album that is trying to convey the sense of disinformation and chaos of the Planet Earth in the year 2017? Sirens wail, speech patterns fly in the air like bullets, the information overload is unbearable while abrasive electronic beats and melodies batter you like riot police during a peaceful protest gone wrong… Disjointed narratives emerge from brutal drones and an industrial atmosphere creates a feeling of constant invigilation. The world is a mess, everyone’s an enemy and there’s no place to escape. Chino Amobi captures these feelings of information war perfectly. Highly recommended!

Caterina Barbieri – Patterns of Consciousness

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[ Important Records, 2017 ]

Italian composer Caterina Barbieri likes to keep things simple: a simple synthesizer sequence here, a massive drone there, add a pinch of some good ol’ reverb and you’ve got a whole musical microcosm in front of your eyes. Or rather, ears. Channeling both Stellar Om Source and early Oneohtrix Point Never, Patterns of Consciousness feel like a soundtrack to the retrofuturistic documentary about some of the newest advancements in medicine, sounding both vintage and incredibly polished and sterile, to the point of being antiseptic. No sound is accidental here, nothing gets off the track. It’s as if Tangerine Dream recorded one of their soundtracks in a laboratory instead of a studio. Surgeon synth for the organized. Recommended!

Carlo Maria – Kenk!

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[ Brutaż, 2017 ]

The diverse EP Kenk! by the Berlin-based Italian soundshifter Carlo Maria explores the different possibilities of the mighty Synthesizer: from the opening piece’s melancholic drone, through the lysergic progressive electronic of “Mirage”, reminiscent of many side projects of Emeralds members (quite possibly the highlight here) to the thumping, relentless techno of “Kenk Kenk”). It’s as if Carlo Maria is torn between the dancefloors of Berghain and the psychedelic trips of the early synth masters and he’s trying to find the golden ratio between the two extremes, with a surprisingly interesting results. Add the fact that it’s released on Polish label Brutaż and you get a truly international mix. Recommended!

Piernikowski – No Fun

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[ Latarnia Records, 2017 ]

The Syny Story, part 2: While 1988, described in the previous post, was reponsible for the beats on the Polish hip hop duo’s debut Orient, the lyrical side of the album was the work of Robert PiernikowskiNo Fun is his solo album, released alongside 1988’s Gruda on the same label. Piernikowski’s deadpan delivery occupies a grey (see what I/he did there?) area somewhere between hip hop and spoken word performance, while gloomy minimal synth soundscapes hark back to half-remembered RPG games with their simple, dungeon synth soundtracks. The album is polarizing, slightly cheesy and depressed at the same time, like a MIDI sequencer with bipolar disorder.

The cover, combined with the album name is also intruging, like a sly commentary on consumerism. Rows of brand new Nike Air Max shoes, here repeated and shown in monochrome represent the spiritual void and ultimate pointlessness of constant pursuit of cool brands to the point it becomes “no fun”. Man, this album makes you think. Recommended!