GAS – Narkopop

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[ 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!

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.

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!

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!

1988 – Gruda

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[ Latarnia Records, 2017 ]

Debut solo album by Polish hip hop producer 1988, and 1/2 of the lo-fi hip hop band Syny is “dedicated to the fearless dreamers”, as inscribed on the cover. Following the aesthetic of smog-clad, hazy anxiety exemplified on the duo’s album Orient, the new work by Przemysław Jankowiak is a slow-paced urban vista of decaying synths and brutalist textures. A bit like hip hop’s answer to shoegaze, it’s a highly intimate and emotional affair that staggers and stammers, but keeps going on, soaked in distortion and uncertainty. Skeletal melodies and shy rhythms peek from beyond the wall of sleep, giving a dreamlike feeling to the whole album. Hypnagogic hip hop for the sensitive OG’s. 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!