[ Kompakt, 2017 ]
17 years after Pop, Wolfgang Voigt, the fearless visionary behind the timeless techno project GAS and co-founder of the legendary German label Kompakt is back with new material, aptly named Narkopop. Now, if you’re familiar with the music of GAS, you know exactly what to expect: orchestral samples stretched into ambient oblivion, sometimes also complimented with a relentless, hazy techno beat that just goes on and on forever. The music of GAS has no beginning and no end, the lengthy tracks on Voigt’s albums are just tiny glimpses of the endless processes that take place somewhere deep, deep in the primeval woods of Germany, like the hearbeat of Mother Nature herself. Just naming it “ambient techno” doesn’t cut it. At all. This is something much more abstract and primal. This is some Twin Peaks kind of stuff. Highly recommended!
[ Orange Milk, 2017 ]
On his second full-length for Orange Milk Records, Darren Keen achieves the escape velocity that plunge him beyond the clichés of footwork, setting him free of endlessly repeating spoken-word samples that, let’s face it, can get quite annoying after a longer while. The drum patterns are as tight, fast and complex as ever. But here, Keen manages to slow down sometimes, providing a much-needed rest from the sensory overload of the genre, while proving that he’s able to break the mold and look further without locking himself into the safe zone. The album is full of politeness, which is also a welcome thing in the world of ubiquitous trolling and constant middle fingers toward everybody. Keep being polite, Mr. Keen. It works very well. Highly recommended!
[ Jeunesse Cosmique, 2017 ]
Another one from O Canada, this time by Montreal syntesist Charles Barabé, who goes more adventurous and experimental than his last year’s effort Les dernières confessions on two side-long pieces, throwing MIDI vocals, jagged rhythms and modern classical aesthetics into a blender, resulting in an ADHD-addled soundscapes that is at the same time pefectly musical and completely disorienting. Cut-up samples jump up all over the place while a piano plays a simple melody in the distance just to give way to some horns and xylophones. And the whole map changes every several seconds, while never losing the dynamic. How the hell does he do it!?
In case you considered this review tl;dr, here’s a shorter and more concise opinion from the RYM user _nkb:
“what if Phillip Glass contributed avantgarde psuedo-rave music to the Age of Empires 1 Soundtrack?”
Make of that what you will. Age of Empires were fucking cool, and so is this EP. Recommended!
[ LapFoxTrax, 2016 ]
Darius is one of numerous aliases of the Canadian electronic producer D. Halley, mostly known as Renard. FRAMEDRAG is a collection of loose ideas, mostly resolving around airy progressive electronics and MIDI structures, channeling the cheesy hauntology of 80’s science documentary soundtracks and easy listening tunes. The overall effect feels like being stuck somewhere between a lab, a shopping mall and an arcade. There are moments of contrast here: while “OSC Tuning” sounds like Software, “Have You Been to the Tower?” sounds like a schizophrenic metalhead doing an old video game soundtrack and “Strings Fashioned From Old Souls” could easily be an extra track on OPN’s Garden of Delete. Don’t let the cartoony artwork fool you: this thing is closer to CERN than Anthrocon. Recommended if you enjoyed Discoverer, Documentaires or early Giant Claw.
[ 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!
[ 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!
[ 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.