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The German electronic music pioneer Conrad Schnitzler (early Tangerine Dream, Kluster, Eruption) collected huge amounts of sounds for live performances. After his death the idea appeared to re-construct new materials instead of plain remixes using these audio samples. This is the idea behind the Con-Struct series of releases. Her Schneider TM (indie artist Dirk Dresselhaus) takes this electronic music material and indeed reconstructs it in this 2016 release into various new ambient and intense electronica tracks with a surprising refreshment of the elderly electronic material. The spirit is there, but the sound is contemporary. It’s also trying to mimic the live spirit by on-the spot improvisations with the content. Very enjoyable and inspiring.
This is techno artist Ellen Allien’s 2011 ambient soundscape produced for a dance performance at Paris’ Pompidou Centre. It’s a single 45 minute continuous track. The opening has a guitar loop theme that repeats with female voices smootching in and out. And from this the themes are more variated with darker and milder ambience, even jazz sample montages. There are some beat related techno elements materializing after the half-way point of this musical piece, otherwise it’s an abstract melody collage with pieces coming in and out, honoring the Eno tradition of sound collages. This kind of avant space material could easily devour too much time but there’s an option to pick and choose references. Maybe the ultimate price is to listen and get lost in the music.
Long time ago in another dimension, the Italian duo Fabricio Lucarini and Silvia Innocenti created music with the name of Plath. This was back in 1982. It sounded like power electronica of today, but it was done long time ago. It certainly didn’t sound like anything else at that point of time. And it still does not sound like a cliche power electronics trip produced today. This is lo-fi beat electronica with angst driven female yelling that has certain F-words that most likely are the bad ones. It’s deranged, ugly, sterile, far ahead of its time. It’s certainly noticeable and excellent.
This is Hessle Audio co-founder Kevin McAuyley’s (Pangaea) 2016 debut album, an exercise in modern, contemporary UK left-field house/dance music where nothing is sacred and you don’t know how the next track sounds like. We are dealing with unexpected rhythms and off-the-beaten track synth sounds, edgy loops and stream of consciousness productions. Which is brave rather than doing 10 tracks of techno beater material, each one has its own little world, from tech house to Detroit techno, to wobble and more. Of some odd reason each subsequent track gets more interesting where the last one, DNS, is my favorite – it has shadows of early day dubstep but still takes off into a direction I didn’t expect. Nice, nice!
CD – Workshop
The collaboration between Dave Moufang (Move D) and Jonah Sharp (Spacetime Continuum) are sparse between, this is their second album released 2009. However, each album is a tasty dish, a mixture of tech house with ambience and dubby sonic elements. Graceful synths work together with tasty beats and fanciful arpeggios. The opening track Dinner With Q sets the tone with acoustic guitar splashes moving along dubby synth bubbles and a deep house feel drum pattern. Many of these compositions were actually done during a short visit to a friend’s analog synth studio in Japan — even so there are no obvious traces of jamming along to make something, rather each peace is a nice standalone and excellent composition. The CD ends with a long homage to electronic dub — Du bist hier! (you are here!)
Natural Swing delivers 20 short instrumental and chill hip hop tracks designed as abstract melody concepts with lots of warble, mud, scratched vinyl noise and sonic wobble with this 2016 release. This is very much underground hip hop with a stream of consciousness approach to samples and compositions that could be composed today with various computer tools to extend samples into more dreamlike expansions. This results lead to experiences of short bursts of introspection into unknown areas that maybe even the originators didn’t expect themselves. Some of the highlight tracks — for me — was LFO, Trane and Goodie, mostly due to the jazz influenced chord sequences. This kind of broken beat art maybe works best in small doses.
Hyperdub the label is known for pushing brand new genres even further into the unknown, in this case this 2016 release from DJ Taye pushes footwork, grime and nu-Soul into inter-dimensional music scenarios. There’s plenty of beat-deconstruction which is the new fancy production technique used with many contemporary UK producer releases. Or, drum machine patterns are not considered holy, they could be mutated into any direction wished. Otherwise we have here a loop chopping and mangling set of tracks with melancholy melodies used to formulate the release. As such, honors go to the bravery of unexpected translations of music, kind of a bebop interpretation of electronic beat music today.
Chicks on Speed and their cohorts from Spain, No Heads, deliver a mixed sandwich of indie pop, punk, punk-techno, industrial and beats spiced with sexual politics messages of all kinds. It’s both charming and confusing due to each track taking its own life form. The singers seem to be stuck in the high school punk scene which could be considered either a cliche or then a deliberate production technique from the producer Cristian Vogel. Each track delivers an energetic revolution of some kind. There are some reflections pointing at various bands like LE Tigre or Tackhead or a multitude of punk bands that discovered drum machines in their later career. And sometimes it’s just plain weird with no rhyme or reason pushing the boundaries — and that’s where the interest level starts to blink green. It’s definitely a self-contained universe of music. I suspect multiple listings will unravel the mystery. Meanwhile have fun with these tiger noise kittens. Watch out for megaphone FCCs.
This is a 2005 release from Drone Records, the label’s goal was a concept to embrace the prospect of infinite possibilities for artists, especially noise artists to embrace various forms of expression. In this case this drone music release has mild noise terror even if the A side has a solid wall with various shredding frequencies intersecting, is slowly increasing in volume with a sudden unexpected short end. The B side is more like taking a trip to the local cemetery where noise artists do an improv on the spot four in the morning. Consider this gothic noise about the unknown.
Ryan MacRyhew, or Thug Entrancer, is the story of an experimental producer that moves to Chicago and discovers electronic dance music and changes his tune to fit this form. This is his first 2014 full-length album, even a double album. The tracks are roman numerically named to give the listener space to figure out the meaning behind each track. The style is techno but also has subtle influences from juke (footwork), computer games, dub dubstep, acid and other intelligent dance music genres. The patterns are frantic but sometimes restricted, giving each track some isolation from each other. Part V spirals up to the 160 beats per minute world. It might be a studio jam due to some repetitions happening, but fortunately each tracks gives the album a distinct flavor. This certainly is more adventurous dance music.
This re-release of material from 1992-1996 is a fascinating and diverse soundscape concerning the 1990s UK electronic beat IDM scene covering even the ambient world of music. Producer and master music mind Mark Van Hoen is also known as Locust and Autocreation as well as a co-founder of Seefeel. The opening track 1967 uses a clever looping concept of a female voice which turns into its own digital language as the slower DrumNBass track progresses. The A side has faster, DrumNBass influenced material. However, when the B side kicks in, the tone moves into more introspective electronic dub and ambient techno. The C side then is dedicated to even more ambient looping material similar to Aphex Twin experiments. Last track on the D side is a long, beautiful and harmonic ambient piece which is perfect for ending a show.
Jacktone was an San Francisco based label that moved to Berlin and Berlin where the pasture for modern electronic music resides. This Exillon EP showcases this contemporary merge of techno elements with mind-bending off-world productions. Especially enjoyable was the off-best breakdowns that didn’t follow the typical formulas designed for DJs. I heard also some James Holden influences on the B side track. If techno has to evolve, is has to pick up elements from other influences and as such Exillon manages this well to make two tracks that are as exiting as future time travel as well as still produces the music of the future which makes techno immune to staleness.
Book Of Dogma is a set of re-releases of early day The Black Dog productions — an influential intelligent electronic music trio that later morphed into Plaid by some of the members. The first three tracks is their first EP called Virtual of which the title track has been present in many DJ mixes; instant rave de-ja-vu when listening to these early 1990s tracks. The other EPs present is The Ago Of Slack with electro samba and other whacked out electronic funk. The passage of time has dulled down some of the material such as the emulation of Detroit techno sounds and Kraftwerk blips. And some material is amazingly fresh like the Weight and Glassolalia that I would not hesitate playing at a modern club today. Some of the tracks also have a feel of early day Drum and Bass experiments that were then finessed by other UK producers. However, this is a good time capsule of an important IDM band who pioneered a lot of styles that were emulated, still today as an homage to the genre-bending tour-the-force which was The Black Dog.
It is subjective to paint a description of ambient music but very tempting, indeed. Based on an initial quick glance on the title names I got a hunch in my sub-consciousness that then blossomed during listening to these seven track — basically you are on a sailing boat on a quiet ocean; watching the night turn into morning just before the sun goes up. This 2016 release by Robert Rich is a continuation of his celestial and down to earth majestic ambience with natural instruments baked into the aural soup which just makes sense. Everything has its place, it’s like listening to a composer that is painting just the right parts in his mental ear to produce something serene as well as intriguing. It is a challenge to lift oneself out from the tidal pools of new age music — this was indeed a rocket blast, a quiet one. Highly recommended.
Detroit-based Moon Pool and Dead Band’s David Shettler is an in-demand musician and producer, playing with legendary outfits SSM, The Sights, Rodriguez, Paul Collins, Scott Morgan and many more. Nate Young is known for his work with Wolf Eyes, Regression, Dan’l Boone, Demons and many more. Oddly this music is techno electronica meets the psychedelic eye, in a positive way rather than being a cliche hippie group trying to be hip in the age of electrons. This 2016 release has a variety of directions from swirdly arpeggiator electronica to Detroit 2016 techno to blippy noise montages to slower UK style electronic patterns to retro eighties drum machine and analog synth extravaganza to a detuned synth symphony overture. And those were the six tracks.
Kholstomer (Strider) is a famous story by Leo Tolstoy that was never finished by him but was reworked and published anyway. This 2016 release by Ryan Huber starts with a non-organic ambient track but then the industrial techno and noise takes over for most of the album. The more techno centric track open up nice avenues into machine dreaming. The non-techno and more industrial harsh tracks moves into the nightmares of machines. The atmosphere is what the AI factory producing androids are creating. Fortunately there are coffee breaks for the more tonal listener.
This Kassem Mosse’s (Gunnar Wendel from Leipzig) second album, a double album, continues his trade of unexpected click and tics and patterns concerning modern Intelligent Electronic Dance Music, breaking dance patterns to electronic dust and re-applying the material back to the sonic canvas. Even if many of the tracks have an anchor point in house beats or other dancy beats, he manages to surprise within the tracks, sometimes by a repetitive figure that is close to Grime than dance, or otherwise smearing in pentatonic scales of stripping down the material to a sharp angle. It’s a puzzle and if you manage to solve the mystery, it just means that the solution was intangible but at the same time the journey was the reward. And all you did was to follow along his path. The best parts are the cases where Kassem breaks down synth patterns to scratchy molecules and re-arranging them. The last side, D, has three locking groves.
Matter’s (Italian Fabrizio Matrone) Paroxysmal is an exercise in tech-noise industrial electronica where distortions beat and it feels like you are inside a big shipyard where huge icebreakers are constructed and as as side effect you get noise music, too. The concept was to go through the four states of matter (solid, liquid, gas and plasma) forming the theme of the tracks staring with fluid and ending with Ash. The sonic damage is sometimes intriguing but sometimes also somewhat boring due to the typical noise beats arrangements. The less stressful and IDM-like tracks are more enjoyable even if also the ambient aspiring tracks have tons of grimy elements. There’s a limit to sonic destruction where the harshness has its surprises and its monotony causes mental yawns.
This is a two track EP from 2015 with ambient synth material washing in and out style cassette compression wobble style. Somewhat like Boards Of Canada didn’t include drums to two tracks. The first one – Broken Chip – Kind — is mellow and introspective, the second track — Klangberg’s 0.5 — has an ending where more energy is introduced in forms of Tangerine Dream style arpeggiator synth waves at the very end.
Prefuse 73′s 2015 release continues his journey to asynchronous glitchy electronica loops intermingled with voice manipulations and sudden jazz-inspired movements into the unknown sphere of musicality. This is hip hop and also not hip hop due to the spectrum of possibilities explored on this album, maybe this is psychedelic triphop just to make up another genre on the spot. The splitting of small pieces of loops forming a coherent yet unexpected result is the key to untangle Prefuse 73′s music. This EP size, close to an album size, is perfect for exploring this world without getting into filler space or repetitious pattern copying. The collection of parts forming unique structures combined with female voice mangling makes this release a trip to another sonic consciousness.
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