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Kai Sync

Sailor Winters – “Bipolar Disorder Incarnate” – [Black Noise Records]

Kai Sync   5/4/2016   A Library, CD

 

Sailor Winters is Ryan Cox known as one of the vocalists in The Georgia band Divorce. This is a set of shorter experimental electronica noise pieces with lots of digital effect voice treatment on the singing, dark drone ambience and even two sailor folksong-alikes with an US accent at the end of the CD. The short length of the pieces helps as longer versions might have not had enough power to carry the album. It’s wobbly, dark, distorted, melancholic, variated; it’s short.

Dzang – “Lotion” – [Dzang]

Kai Sync   4/27/2016   12-inch, A Library

Dzang, LA producer Adam Gunther, brings bands and artists together in the studio telling them to play what they want in an open communication, band records unpredictable results and then he samples and edits the results to discrete tracks. Lotion is a good example of where the unpredictability resulted in darkish chillwave with pop-synth influences and an indie attitude where the guitar was invited amongst the synths and drum loops. The track “Need Tongue” even flirts with seventies American folk rock. The lyrics have a frankness with everything including sex with the female singer Molly Sarie providing a very distinct style on the vocal tracks. Take the songs in small doses — they has a clarity hiding behind a facade you need to break through.

Parker, Andrea and Daz Quayle – “Private Dreams and Public Nightmares” – [Aperture]

Kai Sync   4/20/2016   A Library, CD

Daphne Oram was an influential Brittish contemporary electronic music genius, famous for co-founding the BBC Radiophonic workshop and creating the “Oramics” technique where the composer draws an alphabet of symbols interpreted by a machine that produced the sounds on magnetic tape. This album is using sound samples from the Oram archives forming darker and original electronic music. It would have been simple to just add a techno kick and hihat and get the job done but here the re-interpretations work in favor of keeping the sonic spirit as if the original composer would work in a modern studio setup today. It is haunting as if the originator returned back one more time. It’s also a conversation between the electronic past, current and future. Andrea Parker manages to create a worthy and personal homage to one of the true pioneers of electronica, while the album still conveys her own unique vision with the help of cohort Daz Quayle’s studio wizardry. The material ranges from concrete pieces to more contemporary and modern patterns. Haunted good.

Hauff, Helena – “Discreet Desires” – [Werkdiscs]

Kai Sync   4/20/2016   A Library, CD

 

Helena Hauff is an electro revivalist techno DJ, her background being DJ at Hamburg’s Golden Pudel (a punk venue repurposed as a dance club.) Discreet Desires is her first full-length album. She’s a die-hard hardware only sequencer producer so most of the tracks are machines put into motion with murky, dark, cinematic and opaque sequenced soundscape jams. There are traces of lo-fi electro, stiff and slap-dash acidic-techno , and even John Carpenter style sequencer film dramatization. The West Coast Hague sound is also present (post-punk meets raw techno.) When this all does not work is when she let’s the machines loose and they take over their destination. When the album works is when unexpected elements brought forward by a human curries the music. The melodious songwriting parts also surprise in this age of more industrial techno being the norm.

Moderat – “III” – [Monkey Town]

Kai Sync   4/13/2016   A Library, CD

Moderat on their third album are continuing on their track of developing European electronic music into a more soulful and emotional experience. The singing is even more prevalent on this album. The album has lots of modulating melodies combined with unexpected rhythms and synthesizer layers. Moderat is Modeselector (Gernot Bronsert & Sebastian Szary) that provides the rhythmic elements and Apparat (Sascha Ring) that contributes the more ethereal sections and the singing. I might say that the complex and bombastic tracks are more intriguing and the sparse songs more rich by hitting the sonic nerves — both angles work on this album. The singing fits really well within the vision of where the music is directed in forms of song-based electronic compositions. This is very modern music with unexpected arrangements borrowed from other genres and concurrent artists to form something unique. It definitely absorbs the willing listener, as well as provides Moderat with a path for future explorations into soulful electronica.

Venus Beltran – “Music For The End of The World” – [Turkish Delight]

Kai Sync   4/13/2016   A Library, CD

 

An EP worth of doomy, sloppy and experimental nu-gaze from Venus Beltran, a side project by singer/guitarist Dave Han of the San Francisco based Astral band. One might consider this music dystopian dream pop as well. Echoing and wallowing vocals are drenched between drifty guitar lines and sparse electronic drum machine beats. Some songs reminds me of a drony Jane’s Addiction performing while in sleep — in a positive way. The EP is splendid doomsday music for one of those days.

Uchuu Saru – “Winter Road” – [El Otro Mundo Productions]

Kai Sync   4/6/2016   A Library, CD

 

This is Uchuu Saru’s (formely Uchuu, or Mark Nordstrom) 2015 mini-album released by the Bay area El Otro Mundo Productions label. The style is cinematic sounding reflections on the season of winter. Uchuu is a house/techno DJ so the production style on this record was surprising. Closest and also fruitless comparisons would be Boards Of Canada or David Bowie’s more experimental ambient tracks, but with a more modern and sparse beat production. This is both ambient and subtle jazzy experimental electro dub music that paints subtle pictures such as walking along an icy road on a cold morning when the sun descends. It’s refreshing to hear orchestral chord arrangements on the tracks. Consider this ambient and electronic dub released in cinescope.

Secret Boyfriend – “Memory Care Unit” – [Blackest Ever Black]

Kai Sync   4/6/2016   12-inch, A Library

Secret Boyfriend’s (Ryan Martin) second album, released 2016, is a lo-fi ambient trip into the vastness of live improvisational excursions with synthesizers and drum machines based on melancholia and surrounding desolation. The tracks consist of slow loops and drone soundscapes done with oceans of dark ambient synths with occasional non-traditional electronic drum patterns and vocals that are slightly modified along the way. Or, the musician is trying to detach himself from the actual conscious music making as much as possible to reflect the translucent memories. There’s even a trace of slow post-punk doom and gloom in some tracks such as in the track Stripping At The Nail where a Joy Division like bass strumming and undressed vocals provide the focal point. This is a record that initially sounds sparse but after more listening sequences it opens up with musical vectors pointing out the theme of fading memories and meditational introspection – consider it Zen about unconscious music making on the borderline of fading out of precise existence.

Gel Set – “Human Salad” – [Moniker Records]

Kai Sync   3/30/2016   12-inch, A Library

 

Gel Set, released 2015, is a one-woman band by Laura Callier ((currently residing in Chicago), a quirky electronica artist specializing in airy seduction vocals, hazy synths, lo-fi drum machines and unconventional pop lyrics. Human Salad is her debut album and the music has unexpected dub ambiance across various electronica styles, from minimal and industrial techno to lo-fi electro-clash house music to ambient experimentation. The vocals are sometimes seductive hissing or spooky performance art with clever simpleton lyrics. It sounds like a debut album with the style not yet fully developed, even so, a naive approach to developing tracks makes it interesting listening as well as gives the album production an eccentric and gritty flavor. Oddly enough many of these tracks could even be used in a DJ show, like a 4am in the morning surprise track.

Frost, Ben – “Variant” – [bedroom community]

Kai Sync   3/30/2016   12-inch, A Library

 

Ben Frost is an Australian composer/producer that currently resides in Iceland. His works are minimalistic and experimental tracks with influences from classical minimalism all the way to punk and black metal. This EP is a set of remixes for the Bedroom Community label done by other producers based on his material from the 2014 Aurora album. The Evian Christ remix of Venter is experimental and melodic dubstep, Dutch E Germ’s remix of the same track is more industrial film music with unexpected dynamic changes. The HTRK remix of Venter has a minimalistic slow techno flavor similar to Vatican Shadow. Kangding Ray’s remix of No Sorrowing is a German style techno remix. Finally Nolan mixed by Regis has an industrial doomsday techno flavor. Each track has a very unique style which shows the strength of using producers with different backgrounds to remix the original material.

Bertolozzi, Joseph – “Tower Music” – [Innova Recordings]

Kai Sync   3/23/2016   A Library, CD

 

Tower Music is composer Joseph Bertolozzi’s love of work recording sounds from the Paris Eiffel Towel parts using contact microphones released 2016. These ten thousand plus samples were then sorted down to about 1,600 usable parts for playing atonal melodies as well as rhythm parts. The music is rhythmic, the sounds are metallic-esoteric with some corresponding sonic experiences reminding of marimbas, gamelan instruments and other percussive instrumentation. As the amount of audio is restricted by the metal body of the tower and the tower parts, he had to do compromises with for example scales where not all 12 tones could be reproduced. So the limitation also works in favor of creating unique percussion-driven atonal melodies and rhythm patterns. Now, there’s a limit to what could be done so some tracks might sound similar on this CD. There’s plenty of liner notes how this CD was done as well as an audio track where Bertolozzi talks more about the recording process.

Criambique – “Float” – [Self Produced]

Kai Sync   3/23/2016   12-inch, A Library

 

Criambique is a Seattle based band with the intriguing collaboration of Vi the singer/songwriter who is also a head witch and professional glossologist, Alexis (songwriter, rhythm magician) and Wonky (songwriter and Chief Technical Officer.) As the cover and singer information implied female witchcraft I assumed the songs and singings would remind of the haunting style of?? Siouxie Sioux. But this is rather modern beat-based electro pop music with very pretty and trained layered/harmonized vocals; the vocals are maybe even too pretty for a witch image. The melodies resemble Muse-style classical music lieds. You could hear Kate Bush influences with the arrangements without the husky voice, of course. Some of the drum patterns have wicked variations. The arrangements tend to move towards classical influences – they are reliable rather than unexpected. The best tracks are the experimental remixes of which the vinyl only had two of the five provided with the digital release. Also, thanks to the modern remixes and the later tracks the more serious feeling of the album is loosened up at the end.

Aunt Dracula – “Bum Hands” – [Popsicle Pears]

Kai Sync   3/23/2016   A Library, CD

 

Aunt Dracula is the moniker of the Philadelphia Artist Scott Daly so this is a one-man band record. This 2016 album is trippy and sloppy alternative post-psychedelica with some alternative beating Sonic Youth style rock kicking in from time to time. You could even hear in some tracks the inclinations of someone writing pop tunes. The untrained vocals are drenched in reverb and hidden in the mix so that you really don’t know what he’s singing about. The music is personal, you can’t shoehorn it into a specific genre or style. There’s something charming about someone just playing odd and personal music without worrying about keeping the tempo on the drums and other instruments, or how the final arrangements work with all the ad hoc layering and ex tempore studio effects and stream-of consciousness lyrics.

Cheatahs – “Murasaki” – [Wichita Recordings]

Kai Sync   3/9/2016   12-inch, A Library

London based Cheatahs (formed 2008) ls paving the way by taking shoegaze rock to unexpected experimental directions; this is their 2015 12″ concept EP with four tracks inspired by the Japanese noblewomen Murasaki Shikibu’s novel ‘The Tale of Genji’ from the 11th century (sometimes called the world’s first or first modern novel.) The opening track has Japanese vocals over echoing guitars and high swirling synth like guitar arrangements. The two middle tracks are more experimental and playful in nature -which is excellent – as it takes the shoegaze aspect into a new musical territories. The ending track is back to more traditional shoegaze arrangements. The combination of studio experimentation, funhouse rock and Japanese influences makes this EP very unique. Note to myself, avoid playing the track Murasaki at each show..

 

ADMX-71 – “Coherent Abstractions” – [LIES Records]

Kai Sync   3/9/2016   A Library, CD

Industrial techno from Adam Mitchell a.k.a. Admx-1 released 2015; the bleak and atonal sounds with sparse electronic drum patterns are amazingly accessible for listening purposes. The dark side of the album has spotlights such as Phenomenalist Arrival into Unchartered Territory that give release to the industrial dread. Otherwise we are dealing with a future with machines controlling the planet and humans are hooked to multimedia stupor stations. The last tracks actually give hope to humanity ascending into another existential plane escaping the machinery drones. This kind of music could easily end up becoming cliche techno but Admx-71’s approach with ebbs and flows gives the album a chance to breathe. Well done.

 

ALSO – “EP03” – [R&S]

Kai Sync   2/24/2016   12-inch, A Library

 

Also is Appleblim and Second Story from Bristol’s collaborative project. This is bleeding edge modern UK dance music where any ideas of conforming to a specific electronic dance genre is thrown out through the window and instead the attempt is to push boundaries left and right. This is their third EP with this moniker.

Raves has a nice shuffly drum beat with a hollow bass line and unexpected chord and melody changes. Blyford bass is a modern dance-floor fast track with deliberately over-produced drum machine patterns and gnarly sub bass sequencer with a subtle homage to Detroit techno. PGs is a more intimate track with evolving pads and lo-fi bass growls. This is a good example how electronic music in UK today is alive, well and moving into new territories.

Weed – “Thousand Pounds/ Turret” – [Lefse Records]

Kai Sync   2/24/2016   7-inch, A Library

 

Weed is a a shoegaze slop-slop band from Vancouver. This 7″, released 2013 with the A side track from their first album “Running Back” is more masculine shoegaze similar to Swervedriver. Thousand Points has all the hallmarks of shoegaze with vocals burrowed in the mix, plenty of guitar chords moving in unexpected directions and deliberately recorded feedback and noise from pedals The B-Side Turret is an odd one with no drummer but still slower drony shoegaze (actually an unheard cut from their first ever recording session.) Cool nostalgia single.

Matmos – “Ultimate Care II” – [Thrill Jockey]

Kai Sync   2/17/2016   A Library, CD

The washing machine fills with water and thus starts the 38 minute long track with the only sound source being a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II model washing machine — however the sounds are deconstructed and manipulated with pitch shifting and other computer audio tools into techno beats, ambient soundscapes and much more. Matmos is Dan Deacon, Jason Willet and members of Horse Lords were also involved in this experimentalist album. Soundscapes of gurgling water, beating wet clothes, accelerating electric machines — you will experience this sonic journey of a track differently each time you play it, free jazz, marimba-like sequences, drone, Eno-like ambience, organic squeals, hypnotic ambient techno, electronic beeps. This album is a moire pattern of sound possibilities using a single household device. The album ends with the final fast spin cycle. Highly recommended.

Frith, Julie – “Electro” – [Ladd-Frith]

Kai Sync   2/17/2016   A Library, CD

Julie Frith is a member of Psyclones, but unlike Psyclones this album is more of a collection of 22 shorter electronic music tracks, resembling something Aphex Twin would do by uploading unreleased material online. “rough cut” is the only industrial rock style track, the rest are electronic tracks with loops, beats and leitmotifs creating various textures that sometimes are intriguing, sometimes not. The album cover a wide range of styles from funky beat compositions to ambience to techno style material to industrial electronica to electro. Wish this album would have included more experimental tracks such as simplymad1 and rhythem.

Sleeping Cell, The – “s/t” – [Suoni Liberi]

Kai Sync   2/10/2016   A Library, CD

The Sleeping Cell is an Italian duo that seems currently to be back in sleep mode. This is their only CD from 2011. The singer Zaionair was the frontgirl for the electro project Minimod and for the Dub-System Almamegretta. Misterection aka Mario Grimaldi worked with Italian underground projects like Valderrama 5, Supervixens and Nista. Their music has traces of Prodigy, Nine Inch Nails, Lady Gaga and occasionally tiny bits of soundscape, lo-fi synths and blip explorations. This kind of anger/fashion synth-pop walks a thin line between cheese and intrigue — but here the lack of originality made the listening experience less rewarding. But good as a sudden ‘sugar fix.’

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