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.

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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.

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!

TVLab – Music for Rural Bedrooms

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[ Peace Tunic, 2017 ]

Music for Rural Bedrooms is the debut tape by the very fresh Connecticut based label Peace Tunic. Both the music and the artwork were created by David John DiBella who goes by the truly Fangs&Arrows friendly alias TVLab. The tape has a lovely, lo-fi glaze over its progressive electronic atmosphere and the air or amateurish, unpolished joy of creation. In fact, the somewhat hypnagogic tunes here remind one of the golden era of microscopic tape labels and hazy drone/ambient cassettes coming out by the hundreds of the 2000s/2010s. The psychedelic, lazily tropical atmosphere is strongly reminiscent of classic Brother Raven works, with similarly over-enthusiastic approach to knob fuckery and skeletal structures. Lovely.

Loto Retina – Fiction

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[ Orange Milk Records, 2017 ]

More crystalline internet musique concrete from the always boundary-bending label Orange Milk. Fiction is an ADHD infested mirror hall was constructed by the French glitch conoisseur Loto Retina. The album is yet another pristine labirynth of MIDI deconstructions, momentary microgenre outbursts and snippets of wordless vocals mixed with self governing rhythm patterns. With generative titles like “Canal Xylo Sat1” and “Tension Chrono” it reminds one of the cheerful randomness of Autechre, but Fiction is far more abstract than that: it’s more like a music making software using deep learning via neural networks to create electronic music. The effect is eerie, yet aesthetically pleasant. Sounds from the other side. Recommended!