Surface 10 – “Surface Tenstions” – [Din]

Belladonna   7/23/2014   A Library, CD

aka Dean DeBenedictis. Lush and layered electronic ambience and soundscape. Glitchy/IDM moments along with sporadic vocal samples and traditional instrument samples. Mellow beats throughout. This reminds me a bit of Boards of Canada and early Orb but its not really fair to draw comparisons because this is really so much more than that. Addictive rhythms and waves that you can just drift off too. Really excellent!!

Martinez, Cliff – “Only God Forgives” – [Milan Records]

Belladonna   7/8/2014   CD, Soundtrack

Dont let the dreamy picture of Ryan Gosling sway you, this is pure soundtrack loveliness. Scored by Cliff Martinez whose first job was composing for Pee Wee’s Playhouse but might be better known for drumming for Red Hot Chili Peppers, Captain Beefheart, The Dickies, Lydia Lunch and The Weirdos. This is his second project with Nicolas Winding Refns (Drive) and hes Steven Soderbergh’s composer of choice, from ‘Sex, Lies and Videotape’ through ‘Solaris’ and ‘Contagion’. This was composed with help from Gregory Tripi, Mac Quayle and M83’s Anthony Gonzalez (Oblivion ST). This is full of edge of your seat cinematic moments but there are some Southeast Asian inspired pop tracks with actor Vithaya Pansringarm’s ballad on ‘Can’t Forget’ and Actress Ratha Phongam on ‘Falling in Love’ and ‘Youre my Dream’. Also some very cool elements on Track ‘Bride of Chang’ and ‘Wanna Fight’. Its all so amazing, its hard to pick a favorite!!

Phelios – “Gates of Atlantis” – [Malignant Records]

Belladonna   7/8/2014   A Library, CD

A gorgeous Dark Ambient release from Phelios aka German artist Martin Sturtzer who runs the Phobos Dark Ambient music festival in Wuppertal. Thesa are very intriguing and cinematic soundscapes that are both beautiful and sinister. Track 3 picks it up a tad with some tribal-ish drumming but the majority is very dreamy (perhaps nightmare for some). No vocals or samples, just a pure wash of hypnotic sound. Enjoy!!

CV313 – “Dimensional Space” – [Echospace (detroit)]

Belladonna   7/8/2014   A Library, CD

aka Rod Modell (DeepChord, Echospace) and Steve Hitchell. This release had a three year delay after the original masters (recorded 1996-2010) were submerged underwater due to a flood in their home studio, with many reels never recovered. This is very similar to DeeoChord, long lingering trance-y, dubby tracks. There are beats but they are so overshadowed by other shimmery, ethereal elements. Im not even sure if you can consider this techno, more like ambient drone with a beat. According to the Echospace website ‘The culmination of this project leads to synergy, creative experience re-invented and re-imagined, flow of an astral vortex’ and that pretty much sums it up hippies.

Nommo Ogo – “Sea of Night, The” – [Katabatik]

Belladonna   2/5/2014   A Library, CD

Local experimental artists out of Oakland. I appreciate the weirdness that is Nommo Ogo. This is a dark, dusty, cinematic exploration that I really do enjoy. It builds and rolls and throbs and takes you on a droney psychedelic trip. Unfortunately the vocals only detract from the overall release. Some people might really dig the vocals (male, growly) but to me it takes away from the beauty of the instrumentation. I could love them and I could love this, if only it were purely instrumental.

Takamasa, Aoki – “RV8” – [Raster-Noton]

Belladonna   2/5/2014   A Library, CD

Aoki is an Osaka based electronic musician and photographer. This is his first full-length release on Raster-Noton and first release since ’09. An amazing mix of both warm mellow beats and glitchy clicks. Tracks vary from beat driven dance tracks to more melodic idm and crunchy glitch, very reminiscent of Plaid or Boards of Canada. Even though I am not familiar with other works, I can tell that there is a lot more experimental wierdness in his background and I feel like the beats may be a new thing. Either way I appreciate the mix of sounds as I enjoy and appreciate an artist who can do both well. This is excellent.

Move D and Benjamin Brunn – “Songs From The Beehive” – [Smallville]

Belladonna   1/8/2014   A Library, CD

aka David Moufang & Benjamin Brunn. This is their second full length collaboration/project. Both Move D and Brunn have an impressive body of work as solo artists so its no surprise that this is very good. Although they have different styles (which can be picked out if you are familiar with their work) together its quite harmonious. Move D is more Ambient/Space/Trip while Brunn is more quirky acid beats. This is techno but its introspective and trippy, which makes it very KFJC friendly. A few tracks are more straightforward dance tracks but most are long and swirly, a few bordering on psychedelic. This has that sunshine-y raving in a park taking drugs feel or having a super chill out on your couch. Either way there is something here for everyone to enjoy.

Chasing Voices – “Scorn” – [Preserved Instincts]

Belladonna   12/18/2013   12-inch, A Library

Interesting one-sided release of Chasing Voices off NYC’s secretive Preserved Instincts label. Chasing Voices are very elusive, name?location?bio? no idea but I do know that all of their EP releases are one-sided and that the clandestine Chasing Voices collective is a slo-mo rave bomb. This is deep techno with a dark feel, rhythmic and hypnotic. You can absolutely get lost in it. They have been compared to Plastikman and I see the similarities, the secrecy, the dark nature, hypnotic beats etc. I only wish they had given us two sides! Heres hoping for a full length release someday because this is amazing.

Bangers & Ash [coll] – [Styles Upon Styles]

Belladonna   12/18/2013   12-inch, A Library

This is a split on the Styles Upon Styles label/project/collective out of Brooklyn. Lets start with the B-Side with music by “extraterrestrial dance music” artist (read Hip Hop) kuxxan SUUM aka Zach Cooper. Because I listened to this side first and it rocked so hard, the A-side had a lot to live up to. kuxxan SUUMs beats and breaks totally rocked it out hip hop style, this was amazing. A-side features “avant-soul project” King Garbage aka Victor DiMotsis. Typical Brooklyn insipid hipster mediocrity. So disappointing. I know there are people who love this but I am NOT ONE OF THEM. It conjures up a guy in a flat cap with a full beard, wearing an ironic sweater and riding a fixing. Sappy vocals and the intentionally lackadaisical sound that this genre offers. Bleck.
Just play kuxxan SUUM.

Vatican Shadow – “Remember Your Black Day” – [Hospital Productions]

Belladonna   12/11/2013   A Library, CD

aka Dominick Fernow. Although he has many musical projects, he is probably mostly known as the mastermind behind Prurient and the Hospital Productions label. He seems to cater to more of the black metal audience but this project is considered “Techno Industrial” although its as far from Techno as is musically possible. This releases title is taken from a controversial chalk illustration drawn in front of the US embassy in Cairo with “Remember Your Black Day” written in Arabic with a Star of David. Some of the track titles are very political in nature “???Contractor Corpses Hung Over the Euphrates River,??? “Tonight Saddam Walks Amidst Ruins” and “Not The Son Of Desert Storm, But The Child Of Chechnya”. One might expect some interesting samples on this release but it is purely instrumental. Moody twisting murky sounds to more rhythmic industrial tracks and some darker more metal-ish influences (trk 5 for you metalheads). All end abruptly. Its interesting, enjoyable to listen to and even though it feels unfinished, I do enjoy the beats!

Sapphire Slows – “Allegoria” – [Not Not Fun]

Belladonna   11/20/2013   12-inch, A Library

Sapphire Slows (aka Kinuko Hiramatsu)is a a solor artist from Tokyo. All of her music is recorded in her bedroom with a lap top (Albeton Live) and some keyboards. This is dreamy shoegaze-y pop and Kinuko’s vocals have a hushed ethereal sound very reminiscent of Cocteau Twins. Atmospheric with sporadic beats, very minimal and very beautiful.

Oblivion Soundtrack – “Oblivion” – [Back Lot Music]

Belladonna   10/23/2013   CD, Soundtrack

Oblivion is director Joseph Kosinski’s second feature film (his first was Tron Legacy with music by Daft Punk, someone likes to pick their favorite bands to work with). He originally wrote and pitched this several years ago as a graphic novel with a future film project in mind. The soundtrack is touted as having music done by M83 but its important to note that the main M83 guy Anthony Gonzales has some interesting filmography credits already (writing and music composition) and that the score was also composed and orchestrated by well regarded classical and electronic musician/composer Joseph Trapanese. There are no traces of M83 here (vocals on title track 17 and one crazy drum solo on trk 9 are the only hint of any mainstream artist involvement, didnt care for either) this is pure cinematic perfection. Ominous, hopeful, moody, tense, exhilarating, suspenseful etc. All done with full orchestra (see liner notes for full credits). As a huge fan of soundtracks, I absolutely love this. If you enjoy the work of Hans Zimmer etc, you will love this. BTW I loved the film too!

RQ – “Fragment” – [Terrain Records]

Belladonna   10/23/2013   A Library, CD

RQ is Ryan Quinlivan, a New Zealand based artist. While some condiser this Dub Step (or even IDM), its really more on the “Dub” end of things with its super warm and mellow beats and chill out rhythms. This has some very cool clicks and clacks with a full and lush soundscapey-ness. This has elements of all of my favorite IDM-ish artists and manages to sound familiar and new at the same time. Enjoy!

Burial – “Untrue” – [Hyperdub]

Belladonna   10/23/2013   A Library, CD

This is the second full length release of Burial (aka the elusive William Emmanuel Bevan). Although this is considered Dub Step and theres a lot of UK Garage, Jungle, break beat etc influences, he really has created a sound that is truly unique. Its gloomy, dark and somber but still dreamy and romantic. There is a heavy use of vocal samples, mostly pitch shifted and time stretched which adds to an otherworldly element and do all of the storytelling. “Cinematic” is used quite a bit when describing his work and I definitely agree. This really is amazing.

Stoker Soundtrack: Music By Clint Mansell [coll] – [Twentieth Century Fox]

Belladonna   10/16/2013   12-inch, Soundtrack

“Stoker” is a creepy English thriller by director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) and stars Nicole Kidman, Mia Waskowska and Matthew Goode. The score is composed by Clint Mansell (long time collaborator of Darren Aronofsky) and includes an opening by Mia Waskowska, two beautiful songs by Emily Wells, an original piano piece by Philip Glass, Stride la Vampa (from Il Trovatore) by Giuseppe Verdi and “Summer Wine” by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood. The entire soundtrack is beautiful and dreamy, much like the film but not creepy (like the film). Everything Clint Mansell creates is amazing and this is no exception.

Andrea Parker DJ Kicks [coll] – [Studio K7]

Belladonna   10/16/2013   A Library, CD

This an amazing remix CD was released as part of a box set on the iKZ label (and not a solo release). Although there are 20 tracks, its really one long remix that tracks very seamlessly. This offers more diverse sounds than her “Nothing Much” release although there is some of the classic Andrea Parker thumpy sounds. The diversity on this release reminds me of DJ Rupture. Here she mixes everything from Afrika Bambaata to Gescom, Renegade Soundwave, Depeche Mode, Piece (Carl Craig) and Dr. Octagon to name a few. Everything on here is nice, heavy, thumpy rhythmic, intriguing. Hip hop, electronics, funk, so many sounds here. A couple of the stand outs for me are Dr. Octgagon and Depeche Mode but its hard to choose favorites. Andrea is known for her mixing skills particularly mixing hip hop with electronics so this will truly blow your mind.

Tectonic Plates Vol 3 [coll] – [Tectonic (2)]

Belladonna   10/2/2013   A Library, CD

Tectonic Recordings is headed by Pinch (aka Rob Ellis, Bristol’s leading man of dubstep) was one of the first Dubstep labels. This is the third installment of the Tectonic Plates compilation series and features interesting and lesser known (to me) dubstep/techno/electronic artists. This is not mainstream blown out dubstep, this is all carefully crafted and unique sounds. Super mellow, grooves, beats, zigs and zags. This is all outstanding. Just like Tectonic is moving towards being more than just a dubstep label, this release is more than just a dubstep compilation, there is a huge range of sounds here. Check it out!

Blackhouse – “Beyond The Gates of Good & Evil” – [Self-released]

Belladonna   10/2/2013   A Library, CD

Blackhouse describes this release as “An unusual collection of grooves, beats and unfinished songs” which is really the perfect description. I might have also said “Lounge Noize”. 25 short tracks that are anywhere from 20 seconds (the rule) to five minutes (the exception). Its a mix of beats, lounge, barfly, rhythm, noize and general experimental electronic weirdness. This does not have the dark nature that I associate with Blackhouse at all. There is a playfulness and sense of humor here. Enjoy!

Agnes – “S/t” – [Field Studies]

Belladonna   8/14/2013   A Library, CD

Limited edition of 70 copies of this mini CD from the elusive and mysterious Agnes. Hushed clicks, clacks, hums and sonic hisses. This is quiet noize, muffled buzzes and thumps and pulse manipulation with a steady beat (that you absolutely cannot dance to). This is noize lite for those who have dainty delicate ears.

Asc – “Nothing Is Certain” – [Nonplus+]

Belladonna   8/14/2013   A Library, CD

aka James Clements a British electronic music producer now based in San Diego. I was unfamiliar with ASC, which is strange because he’s been making/producing/releasing (on his own label) electronic music for over a decade. Regardless I love this glacial, dark and somber release. Minimal, stark cinematic beats, heavy thunk and gloom with darker elements that remind me of old industrial releases like early Delerium, Forma Tadre or even Phallus Dei. Also reminicent of Loess and Deaf Center. This is cold, crisp and delicate, my only issue is the vocals on tracks 4 & 7 which are off-putting, completely unnecessary and ruin perfectly good songs. Otherwise this is holy grail status.

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