Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Architectural - Architectural 05 [Architectural]
Juan Rico is by no means a newcomer to the scene. He's been releasing techno music since 2003 and has seen through many different trends and styles within techno music but it feels like he's come of age in the past few years. His 12"s both as Reeko and Architectural have been outstanding recently with the highlight being his double alias full length The Blue Album last year. An hour of exquisite sound design and techno composition it was one of the highlights in a year when techno felt particularly drab and stagnant with the return to a more aggressive, harder sound. His alias Architectural has showcased his (slightly) more restrained side to his productions, specializing in a kind of beefed up dub influenced techno (but this is by no means a Chain Reaction worshiping copycat). His release under that alias for Svreca's Semantica imprint was one of the finest techno double trackers of recent memory Rico starts off 2014 with the fifth release of the self titled series and it's a three tracker of glacial synths, dubby warmth and expert sound curating. The tunes seem to get progressively harder as the release goes on. The first cut is a beatless soundscape with a reese like baseline that threatens to break into something bigger but somehow stays restrained. The second one is a piece of dubbed out techno that uses the main chords in a way that sounds like they've come straight from a Levon Vincent tune. The last one is the most dance floor friendly with a pulsating, whirling main synth that propels the song like a psychedelic helicopter.
DJ Spider & Franklin de Costa - Genetically Modified Tracks [Killekill]
New York based DJ Spider has been releasing more collaborations than solo efforts recently, exploring the possibilities that lay within combining two different artistic approaches. His career has felt very much like an exploration. DJ Spider tracks are like experiments into dance music form by exploring, testing and pushing the boundaries of what's feasible. His Plan B imprint has long been a bastion for challenging house and techno with releases from various American artists that are seeking to change the norm. This one is a joint effort between the man himself and German producer Franklin de Costa and what they've come up with are four slices of rough and tumble house. Each cut has a sense of play in how they approach rhythm. The beats are still four to the floor, but they place various twitches and quirks in the music. An off beat hat, a sudden stab of a conga, stuttering kicks. The rhythm constantly threatens to trip itself over, yet they manage to keep the whole thing cogent. When combined with the idiosyncratic sounds on top (the screeching noises, threatening vocal samples and heavy bass) the effect is enthralling and shows two producers at the top of their game.
Edanticonf- The Boundary of Nowhere Land [Silent Season]
Canadian imprint Silent Season has long been flying the flag for the best that contemporary dub techno can offer. They have an exquisitely curated roster of artists that have consistently maintained a high quality approach to organic electronic music that blurs the boundaries between house, techno and ambient. They've been active since 2007 but it seems that the past two years they've made a big step and started a kind of renaissance period for this niche of music. They provided two of the highlights of 2013 with incredibly beautiful full lengths from Segue and ASC and they start off 2014 in similar style. Edanticonf has previously released an album on Silent Season back in 2012 that was an hour or so of techno music that sounded like it came from the forest. The Boundary of Nowhere Land continues along this path. It's an exhilarating mix of soft percussion, dubbed out chords and Namlook inspired ambient curiosities. These elements are combined together to create a completely immersive and tripped out landscape. Wolfgang Voigt spoke about doing hallucinogenics and tripping out in the German forests and you get the sense that this it what those journeys might of sounded like. This is a great four tracker that's great for quiet contemplation at home, but would also add something special to adventurous selectors looking to make people's night a bit more special.
Escape Force - Confused House 4 [Confused House]
Confused House is a boutique label set up by L.I.E.S affiliate and all round badman Steve Summers last year and have released a string of collaborations between him and fellow compatriot Bookworms. The music so far has been a broken version of a kind of analogue dub house. The songs are ghosted fragments of lost house tunes, like a liquid emulsion print on a piece of torn fabric. Their most recent effort and the 4th in the series is a collaboration between those two and Terreke released under the name Escape Force. Muffled would be a good adjective to describe this music. The songs sound like they're underwater, floating in an aquatic tripped out haze. You can hear Terreke's influence most obviously on the first cut. The whole song sounds like an extended outtake from his amazing 12" from last year YYYYYYYYYY. The second tune is a little more in focus, with strange acid lines and broken orchestral samples that could of come straight from a Caretaker song. The last cut is by far the strangest tune on this release (and that's no small feat). With a kick that glides in and out of pitch and a strange warbling main line it feels like these 3 artists are deconstructing house music to see how far out you can go without verging into straight ambiance.
Eshu - Chlore [Eshu]
Eshu is a Dutch production team and label that have a rotating cast of four members. As a label they release music from different collaborations between these four members under various aliases. Under the Eshu name however, is when it's all four of them together. The music they release is a trippy, slow burning version of techno who's nearest comparisons would be the psychedelic landscapes of Prologue or the intricate delicacies of Frozen Border. Chlore is their release to kick off 2014 and it's four cuts of cosmic, hazy techno that have enough quirks and turns in them to make it stand out from the deluges of similar music. Cesium is a fragile, spaced out number with high frequency main pads that sound like electronic raindrops that get progressively more layered and interesting as the song develops. Sulfur is a harder tune with a deep pulsating bass and tension building synths in the background. The song completely changes half way through when arpeggiated synths come rising out, shining rays of light over the darkness. Mercury is the straightest, most 'Berghain' tune of the release and the hardest cut on here. A strong, stoic kick is balanced by a tripped out, metronomic synth line that twists and turns throughout the seven minutes. All the elements in this tune are finely balanced to harness the psychoactive and mind loosening effects that these sounds can have and the result is stunning. The last tune and title cut Chlore is the strangest one of the four. A whirling, machine line bass seems to furl over itself as various tape drenched sound effects swirl over the top. The whole song sounds like the engine of a factory working in complete harmony.
Juju & Jordash - Waldorf Salad [Dekmental]
Live improvisation and dance music is something that on paper should be like jam and bees. The Reichian quality of club music often cries out for extended jams that is highlighted by the on-the-fly aspect of DJing. But often artists go too far down the rabbit hole than is interesting and live improv can often lead audiences cold and detached from the artists. House legends Juju & Jordash don't make that mistake. Their live performances can be at best transcendent and as part of Magic Mountain High with Move D they create a kaleidoscope sound scape of quirky, leftfield house. (their Live at Freerotation album on Workshop is worth checking out if you're want to hear them at their full powers). They start off 2014 with a release for regular collaborators Dekmental with a double tracker of their strange and eclectic style of house music. Waldorf Salad is a spacey jam with flowing synths and squelchy beeps and bloops, underpinned by a rugged groove underneath. Third Planet from Altair has a tougher beat but once again aims for the night sky. Heavy 909s, fluttering chords and stepping hats create this locked, ethereal bounce that's sure to send you into a dizzy state of pleasure at 5 in the morning. On these two cuts you can imagine the duo locked in their studio at the early hours of the morning, playing with their collection of esoteric sound machines churning out weird house music like mad scientists.
Scape One - Planetoid [brokntoys]
Contemporary electro never seems to get the kind of press it deserves. Outside a select group of producers (Gerald Donald, Stingray, Drexciya reissues), a lot of artists seem to get overlooked in the flood of reviews and features that scour music websites. It's a big collective misstep as some of the most enthralling and original music being made at the moment are by these seemingly crazy artists, tinkering away with their machines and create sonics that are as unholy as they are beautiful. Scape One is a big name in the British underground electro scene with releases going back over a decade. His first release of 2014 Planetoid sounds like it's been beamed from a far away planet and interfered with by cosmic radiation. Each of those four cuts are tinged with cosmic synths and heavenly bleeps that can either be bringers of darkness or tear jerking lightness depending on your mood. The pick of the bunch has to be the last cut Right Acension. A slow moving groove is layered by jazzy licks, melancholic drones and some of the most interesting sound design that you'll hear all year. A trip to the cosmos and back again, Planetoid is something that you should check out if you want to hear something a bit different from the fashionable norm at the moment.