Darius – FRAMEDRAG

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[ LapFoxTrax, 2016 ]

Darius is one of numerous aliases of the Canadian electronic producer D. Halley, mostly known as RenardFRAMEDRAG 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 DiscovererDocumentaires or early Giant Claw.

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!

WWWINGS – PHOENIXXX

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[ Planet Mu, 2016 ]

Post-Soviet Hyperfuturism: WWWINGS is a trio of (post)electronic producers coming from the different regions of Russia and Ukraine who are pretty much leaving the rest of the musical world far behind. Hiding under the aliases GXXOST (also known as Lit Internet), AWRWSW (Lit Daw) and Lit Eyne, they seem more like a group of elusive hackers straight outta cyberpunk fantasies than actual musicians, juggling data packets and gliding through bleeping, cut-up sounds like digital ninjas. If Berlin acts such as Amnesia Scanner or M.E.S.H. provide a glimpse into the future, these guys are a fully paid, all-inclusive trip to the world of “unthinkable complexity”, to quote William Gibson himself. After listening to this album, who cares if it’s grime, post-industrial, or whatever else? It’s the Future, with a capital F. Highly recommended!

Artykuły Rolne – Dobrze to już było

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[ Self-released, 2016 ]

Last year’s album by the Polish noise rock unit Artykuły Rolne (which could be translated as “Agricultural Commodities”) is a shackled beast, which is struggling to free itself and sometimes spews scorching fire. The amount of energy and layers contained on this LP could be given to a few albums by a few bands, and the sheer, cosmic lysergic energy is conjured by heavily effect-laden walls of guitar noise and heavy, doomy drumming. When you name one of your tracks “Kosmos”, you gotta go huge. And goddamn, they do. This amount of heady, wide-eyed psychedelia is rarely to be seen. It’s almost like an anomaly. There should be more anomalies like this. Highly fucking recommended.

KURO – KURO

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[ Rocket Recordings, 2016 ]

A primordial fog rises above this genre-bending dark masterpiece by the Bristol based duo KURO. With its minimalistic artwork (and name) referring to the masterpieces of Japanese psychedelia and avant-garde, the thickly layered drones bring to mind the music of Tetragrammaton or Yoshi Wada (although not that minimalistic) with an occult twist. Referring to ancient cults and religions, KURO creates a dense, thick atmosphere that sounds like a preparation for a conjuring of a forgotten deity about to emerge from a trans-dimensional portal. This is a work of psychedelic beauty to get lost in. Recommended!

Rangers – Texas Rock Bottom

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[ Self-released, 2016 ]

A praise of very ordinary living: the newest album by Joe Knight a.k.a. Rangers makes you check all the info on the Bandcamp page twice while thinking: “Wait, is this the same guy who made Suburban Tours and Panama Stories, which shaped hypnagogic pop with its hazy, druggy aesthetics!?”. Yes, it is. At first, it might seem almost dull by comparison – the songs here sound a bit like something a small town rock band might record to be played on a local radio, but with each repeated listening the intriguing stylistic shifts and occasional breaks in almost pop rock song structures become more and more prominent. Turns out, there’s quite a lot of Meat Puppets love under the soft melodies and easy rhythms. It’s a kind of sly, secretive psychedelia that only emerges after a few listens or when one completely blends into the music. A bit underwhelming at first, but very rewarding after a while. Recommended!

Black Bananas – Spydr Brain

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[ OSR, 2016 ]

The Brooklyn based label OSR might be one of my favorite new finds with its colorful gallery of musical avant-weirdos with their crazy approach to music making and the creative process. One of the newest releases by this label is Spydr Brain EP by the neo-psych unit Black Bananas featuring Jennifer Herrema or the Royal Trux fame. Now if you think this sounds anything like, say, Twin Infinitives or Accelerator, you should chuck such thinking out of the window. Spydr Brain is a hyperkinetic, incredibly busy trippy electric jazz funk fusion, but with a sleazy, punky twist – like a drug addicted medium channeling Miles Davis. It’s wonderfully warped and meaty and the same time, the kind of freak funk Sunburned Hand of the Man would be proud of if they did amphetamines instead of shrooms and acid. Highly recommended!