Posts Tagged ‘electronica’

Mille Plateaux – 19th May 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Fase Montuno is the twenty-seventh release by Cristian Vogel. Yes, the twenty-seventh. Depending on which version you get, this one has seven or eight tracks, all reliant on old synth and drum machine sounds, giving it very much a late 70s / early 80s vibe,

As the accompanying notes detail, ‘This highly personal release is a visionary take on the futuristic potential of Latin American electronica, and promises to be a thrilling journey through Vogel’s musical imagination, every track infused with his signature creativity and energy.

Vogel has lingered on the fringes of dance music for the entirety off his career, and Fase Montuno goes very much all out on accentuating the dance elements of the pieces. That doesn’t mean that Fase Montuno is a chart-dance album, not at all. But with its Larin American influences, it’s very much music you can dance to, if you’re that way inclined – and if you’re not, well, it has groove, and that’s something anyone can get into.

The title track is a busy, bleepy six-minute chiptune that builds layers and energy as it progresses. Things get glitchier and gloopier on ‘Temples in the Sky’ with some busy polyrhythms which flicker over pulsing beats and swathes of swashing synths. It’s sparse, but at the same time there is much happening, sometimes incidentally, sometimes simultaneously.

Always, the beats are dominant, even when pitched subtly. ‘Labyrinth and Warrior’ mines a specific seam of techno I find quite oppressive despite its spaciousness, whereby the repetitions are tightly looped and I find myself feeling as if I’m trapped in a nagging glitch of just a second or two and physically can’t move. Ironic, perhaps, that certain dance music should, instead of moving me, render me utterly paralysed and almost suffocating with claustrophobic panic. But there it is. For those reasons, I find this and uncomfortable experience, and difficult to enjoy.

And so it is that the nagging grooves of Fase Montuno lead nowhere other than inside, burrowing into themselves and clanking away hermetically: there is nothing beyond this is and of itself, and while many find release and escape in this form of music, for me, it’s like being zipped up in a bag where I’m unable to move my limbs and then thrown into a darkened room – worse than sensory deprivation, it’s like the drip-drip-drip of water torture.

I can’t blame Cristian Vogel for my extreme and quite irrational reaction to his music: it’s meticulously crafted, and the frequencies, the mix, are magnificent, and evidence – as if more evidence were needed – Vogel’s enduring appeal in his field.



Thanatosis – THT23 – 12th May 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

I might have ordinarily made some quip about my own system and that of many being nervous, but then I read the accompanying notes and thought better of it, as this album, the debut full-length album by Swedish producer Autorhythm, aka Joakim Forsgren, a visual artist and former bassist of several punk and rock groups, comes from, if not from a dark place, then certainly a serious one.

As the notes explain, ‘Forsgren started to work on what was to become Songs for the Nervous System in 2015, after having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The album is a series of intuitive compositions drawing from the latest medical research on how light and sound at specific frequencies has a potential to affect bodily functions, down to the cellular level. The resulting contemporary but surprisingly human electronic music is a dynamic mix of driving rhythms and meditative soundscapes. While the polyrhythmic beats suggest a kinship to some contemporary club music, the work of Brian Eno would be a more obvious point of reference in its genreless amalgamation of music, life and conceptual art.

‘Except for mixing and minor adjustments computers were shunned, with Forsgren instead relying on an assortment of synthesizers, of roughly the same age as himself and thus all members of the pre-digital generation. Conventional sounds and solutions were avoided, as much out of incapacity as imagination. The name and the impetus for the music were born out of the question of what music his electronic devices and machines themselves would play if Forsgren were not able to play them himself.’

The album contains six tracks, most of which sit within the midrange of around four to seven minutes in length. The first, ‘Clairvoyance’ is seven minutes of squelch and pop dance music that has a real analogue vibe and a nagging insistence, as well as a hint of Factory Floor. The beat doesn’t alter, but the tones shift and layers build.

Sequencing matters here, and two shorter compositions, ‘Doom Variations’; and ‘Neuropathic Factors’ – complimentary pieces which perhaps render the album’s objective to present ‘intuitive compositions drawing from the latest medical research on how light and sound at specific frequencies has a potential to affect bodily functions, down to the cellular level’ most apparent: there are some unusual sounds here, and the interplay between them is unusual and not always easy to consume in comfort. It’s hard to explain just how these pieces are affecting – but they are. Perhaps a greater understanding of the theory and practise may help, but listening to Songs for the Nervous System leaves me feeling too drained to do anything much.

Opening side two, ‘Plasticity’ is a six-minute slow-trip-hop throb kicked along by a vintage drum machine. The bass groove is one you can nod along to, but there are rather more uncomfortable, discordant elements and a strange warping drag that makes time twist and stretch a little. It’s the time signatures: they don’t seem to match up and induce a deep dizziness and a sense of disorientation, of discombobulation. It’s an overload, too much too process. Around the midpoint, amidst laser snaps and synth bass pulations, it slopes down to a point where you feel very much like you’ve stopped for a break before grind an in to our infinite arrival at our, final destination. That final destination is the album’s longest track by far: ‘Intercelular Communication’ presents as an extended audio research piece, and it’s well-realised, but difficult.

Three times I’ve tried to write this review: three times I’ve listened to this album and it’s left me feeling tired and strange and my writing has stalled. Perhaps I’m tired, or perhaps this really does reach the most inaccessible parts, and perhaps it does speak on a very different level.



Möller Records – 23rd March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s clear that while the pandemic is officially over, collectively, we’re still very much coming to terms with it, and its aftermath. Lockdown, in particular, has had a deep psychological impact, on so many. Everyone’s experience was, and is, different, of course. I have friends who almost deny to themselves that it happened, that it was a dream or something, and for some of us, in some respects, it’s as though it never ended. This is how people deal with shock and trauma.

My Heart of Noise is not a pandemic album, a lockdown album, a post-trauma album, but as Elif explains, the album “began with a collection of studio and concert recordings from my travels north before the pandemic. It became like a puzzle: I could hear something special, but also that the pieces didn’t fit together well or feel complete. The breakthrough came in realising that this project was meant to be more about creation than preservation, and that it didn’t need to be a literal document any more. It could still be faithful, but instead to the spirit that inspired this music and my travels in the first place, instead of a particular recording. I created new musical starting points, and invited artists I met on my travels plus others, asking them to choose one to begin to work with together. Some artists incorporated our previous recordings, others set off in a new direction, while I shaped the pieces and found a way to connect them together.”

Recent history, then, is marked not as BC and AD, but BP and AP – before pandemic and after pandemic, and My Heart Of Noise reflects Yalvaç’s attempts to ‘make sense of a noisy world’. And the world is indeed, noisy, and difficult to articulate. There is simply too much noise too much happening all at once. It’s a perpetual sensory overload.

For this, her debut album, Elif Yalvaç involved a number of the people she encountered along the way of her journey, and the title also references this, the way she became the hub in a collective process.

The collaborative aspect means that each track does have a slightly different feel, despite all being centred around eerie ambient soundscapes.

‘Orchestra of Light’, the album’s first track, is a layered composition of dronies and hums and whispers which drift and swirl around some of the mind’s darker recesses. The textures and tones rub against one another and the edges aren’t all smooth, with buzzes and barbed, drilling sounds grating against the grain, meaning there’s a certain friction, a tension, creating a sense of discomfort.

‘Gate Check’, which follows, is softer, but the notes bend and twist and the supple, mellow tones are spun with a sense of the awkward and the uncanny, but nothing so warped as ‘Mielmaisema’, with its collage of human vocalisations and clunking clumps of thuds and thumps Amid whirls and crackles and hums, from which grinding groans of decaying Krautrock creak. It may be less than five minutes in duration but it packs a lot of shiversome strangeness into its short space, in which even chirruping birdsong feels somehow unsettling.

My Heart of Noise is not an overtly collage-based album, but it does assemble many sources and sounds, and often overlaps and overlays them to disquieting effect, and I’m at times reminded of vintage sci-fi and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

‘Cloud Score’ sits somewhere between post-rock and classic drifting ambience, while seven-minute closer ‘Taiga II’ very much feels like the lifting of the clouds and the breaking into light, but at the same time feels like a storm building on the horizon, and ‘Dronasaurus’ indicates that it’s not 100% serious 100% of the time.

My Heart of Noise is a restless work, one which ventures and explores, and never for a moment settles into comfort or conformity. It is not an easy album: whenever things feel like they’re settling into something nice, a cloud of disruption and difficulty will drift over and raise a shiver. You can never really settle or feel at ease with My Heart of Noise – but as a representation off life in the world as is, this is a fair summary. Keep your eyes and ears open: there is always something around the corner.



Kranky – 7th April 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

I had been warned. A fellow reviewer who received this before me had said that this album had made him feel ‘unwell’. It was a compliment, of course. This comes as little surprise: Tim Hecker is an artist capable of creating the most intense and all-encompassing experiences, and while the live performance I attended in 2014 may not have made me feel ill, it did make me feel pretty weird, detached, disorientated. As the only artist I have ever known to use more smoke than The Sisters of Mercy and Sunn O))) combined, filling the room to the extent that it was impossible see your own hand in front of your face, let alone the person next to you, Hecker made me feel uncomfortable, and in some way a little scared in a claustrophobic way.

I’ve had a few records which have had a physical effect on me: listening to PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me for the first time with a brutal hangover is one standout experience, its raw and up-front lurching guitars punching my head and stomach simultaneously with puke-inducing results which went far beyond the post-booze discomfort. Because listening to music is not a passive activity, and as well as requiring focus, it would seem also degree of compassion – you feel its force physically as well as psychologically.

The notes which accompany Tim Hecker’s latest album are bold, to say the least, describing the Canadian composer as ‘a beacon of unease against the deluge of false positive capitalist ambient currently in vogue’ and continues, ‘Whether taken as warning or promise, No Highs delivers – this is music of austerity and ambiguity, purgatorial and seasick. A jagged anti-relaxant for our medicated age, rough-hewn and undefined.’

Clearly, this is exactly what I need, having felt tense and on edge, unable to catch my breath properly for several days now. If the album’s title sets the initial expectation, the track titles reinforce the album’s mood: ‘Monotony’; Pulse Depression’; ‘Anxiety’; ‘In Your Mind’; ‘Total Garbage’ – all the shades of dark, of bleak, of miserable, of self-questioning, panic.

The aforementioned ‘Monotony’ pings a single note back and forth for almost eight and a half minutes. Drones build sonorously behind it and swarm the mind as the volume grows and then shrinks again, and the buzzing and extranea become siren-like. And so, there is movement behind the tedious repetition, but it’s tense and unsettling. Moments of levity which appear to suggest tranquillity is within reach prove to offer nothing but false hope as we’re soon plunged into the gloaming, or otherwise into glitchy, lurching passages of unease. Soft sounds which ought to be mellow and soothing are rendered uncomfortable, or mournful, or both.

‘Lotus Light’ initially intimates a Krautrock pulsation, but some bending frequencies and melting notes swiftly take this trip on a rapid descent. If the lotus flower is supposed to signify rebirth and enlightenment, then this is one which is wilting, poisoned, and if eating the lotus is supposed to provide a conduit to pleasure, this is the soundtrack to picking the wrong plant, as everything rushes forward too fast and you’re not in control. You don’t feel right: you feel drugged, delirious.

‘In Your Mind’ picks and stabs away with tempo changes galore, surging and sweeping this way and that, echoing reverberations around the cranial cavities before booming stabs of synth blast through the drifting haze, before ‘Monotony II’ returns like a waking memory of a traumatic dream from the night before. The trilling saxophone does nothing to calm the mind or the mood. And over the course of more than eight minutes, ‘Anxiety’ recreates the experience if that increasing heartrate and the clenching of every muscle perfectly. That is to say, it’s brilliant, and also brilliantly difficult, and potentially triggering to some. The flickering, fluttering electronic throbs are practically Jean Michelle Jarre reimagined as a fibrillation.

No Highs is a difficult album, but how difficult depends on our headspace: from a certain perspective, it’s a cinematic electronic set, but from various others it’s the soundtrack to being unable to settle, to relentless tension, to jitters and fretting, and worse. The notes oscillate and you clench; sudden spurts of sound burst and you jump momentarily., before ‘Sense Suppression’ pulls you down, slowly, into a sea of sound, before the album drifts away to nothing on the drifting tides of ‘Living Spa Water’.

No Highs is sad and dark and deeply affecting, and not necessarily in the ways you’d expect. Listen and share the suffering.



Christopher Nosnibor

I get a lot of weird shit come my way. I guess it’s to be expected: I review a fair amount of weird shit and it just snowballs: weird shit finds me. And this is very much weird shit. Despite some serious deliberation, I can’t decide where the emphasis lies in that statement.

Details about the artist or the release are practically non-existent, but it doesn’t take too much digging to establish that the Tom Belushi Jazz Trio aren’t a trio and they don’t play jazz.

Having released an EP (also entitled Death Mast) and deleted it almost instantaneously, Tom Belushi Jazz Trio seem determined to render themselves as evasive frustratingly obscure as is conceivably possible. But this is clearly not simply a musical project, so much as an exercise in postmodernism that revels in ephemerality. With CD copies of this release being limited to single figures, I’m reminded of various crackers projects by Bill Drummond and The KLF, among others, whereby the objective seems to be to create an objet d’art that’s so scarce it’s beyond reach even before it’s released, essentially only existing in legend.

Slapping synths, gloopy stuttering beats, warping irregularities and groaning keys redefine the sound, along with snippets of robotic, autotuned vocals. Oriental motifs are dominant in this instrumental album’s ten exploratory tracks, which appear to be largely AI in origin. Because yes, it’s taking over the world. Think you can hide or linger on the peripheries now? You’re simply deluding yourself.

There are some nice sounds – and some naff ones – all balled together in an eclectic hotchpotch of ersatz electronic collaging. ‘Traitor’s Gate’ is a droning shanty that’s actually got human vocals; it’s woozy, disorientating in an uncanny sort of a way.

The titles are daft, absurdist, Dadaist or abstract, and littered with references, many of which are obscure – ‘Luke Haines. I Have Your Hat’; ‘No Mark Wynn’;(a particularly cheesy and overly synthetic slice of r ‘n’ b); ‘Stairwell Crooks Shutterstock Dust Jacket’ but ultimately seem to present as little true meaning as the music itself (and I can’t ever recall having experienced any dilemmas over purchasing avocados).

Death Mast is one of those albums that was probably more fun to produce thana it is to listen to. It does have considerable novelty value, and it does have lots of ideas, but few seem to be explored in any real depth or fully realised, and as such, the main idea seems to be the concept for the creative process – or should that be ‘creative’ process?- rather than the end product. But with the ideas and even the passages within the tracks being as fleeting and as ephemeral and impossible to locate as copies of the album itself, what are we really left with? Ultimately, Death Mast presents more questions than answers, a point of discussion more than a musical project. But, if there is one conclusion we can draw from this it’s that there is no need to worry that AI will bring about the end of music as we know it. At least, not this week. Welcome to the post-postmodern age.



24th February 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

This Oxford based act describe themselves as ‘Techno Western New Wave Electroclash’ and ‘Synth lovers’. Unfortunately for me, this description conjures images of moustachioed hipsters circa 2009. The pair may well, be, choosing to keep their mugs off the record, and I’m all too aware of just how the field of instrumental electronic music is very much the domain of middle-class white guys tinkering with expensive toys. This lack of cultural diversity may be a leading factor in there being so much sameness stylistically.

Sameness isn’t really a criticism one could level at this album, for while it does assimilate many common tropes of contemporary synthesizer music – in that its inspirations are often retro in origin – stylistically, Errors offers a broad range.

‘Science of Errors’ is a punchy piece of electropop with some big, bold proggy sections that surge along in a rush, and it’s a strong start. ‘Conga Cop’ is very much a tune of 80s TV show vintage style. It’s extremely busy in terms of arrangement, stabby synths shooting over a hectic rhythm and samples flying around there and there, before going altogether more minimal on ‘Phil D’Ophear’, a much darker slice of techno where the dense bass dominates. Elsewhere, ‘Wibli Wobli’ packs a driving, energetic groove.

Errors is big on ideas: it’s positively bursting with them, and consequently, there is a lot happening, sometimes, if not all at the same time, then densely packed together, to the point that sometimes it feels as if there’s too much happening. And not all of the ideas necessarily work perfectly: the Clangers whistling over a microtonal waltz on ‘Satomi’ is novel and fun, but little more, but it’s Bruno Muerte’s willingness to experiment and the mix-and-shake approach to making music that’s a large part of the album’s appeal.

As they write in the accompanying notes, ‘One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist without errors.’ It’s refreshing to hear: Errors, then, is not a quest for perfection, but a celebration of imperfection and the joy of being creative. And ultimately, it’s joy that Errors brings.



Karlrecords – 10th March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

When I started out reviewing, I always thought how cool it would be to get to hear new releases by acts I like in advance, and to opine on the latest releases by acts familiar to many. But I’ve come to realise that the real joy – and what I now see as my purpose – is to discover and share new and lesser-known artists. It is a gift which keeps on giving, for I hear so many people in my demographic moan about the lack of any decent new music. It’s simply not true: they’re just not looking in the right places (and their idea of ‘decent’ music tends to be rooted in their youth and coloured with nostalgia, which is sad really. Opening one’s ears and opening one’s mind is the key to keeping young. Or something). Of course, it’s always subjective, but there is a rare exhilaration and delight in – after all this time – hearing something that doesn’t sound like anything else.

And so here we have the debut EP from Sara Persico, which prefaces a full album in the pipeline. It doesn’t remind me of anything – but it does give me a rush, but also chills me to the bone.

It’s dark and it’s stark, and it’s challenging.

According to her bio, she was ‘born and raised in Naples, Berlin-based sound artist/vocalist Sara Persico cut her teeth experimenting on the fringes of Naples’ fiery underground experimental/noise scene, developing a technique that would integrate her voice with analogue electronics, field recordings, and samples.’

Fiery would be a fair description of the six tracks on Boundary, released on cassette. It’s big on bass and beats. Big big big. The percussion bashes at the cerebellum and kicks the cerebral cortex, while bass resonates through every fibre of the body. This dense and weighty stuff. It’s the elements of dance music slowed to a glacial crawl. Instead of making you want to move, it absolutely freezes you solid, tense, immobile. And as for Persico’s voice – it’s something else. She sounds tortured, trapped, and transcendental.

Stripping things back to a stammering, glitched drone on ‘Exit’, she switches between ethereal lilt to banshee howl, and the two are overlaid in a sonic collage that’s compelling and terrifying simultaneously. ‘Under the Raw Light’ is tense, aggressive, even, in its ferocious beats and Persico’s voice that sounds as if it’s coming from the other side, frenzied, tortured. In contrast, the closer, Umbilical’ is a disconcerting spoken word work pitched against a thudding heartbeat and muffled bass. It leaves you feeling… what? Detached, in some way.

Despite being built around familiar elements, Boundary doesn’t sound like anything else, and launches Sara Persico as a unique and exciting voice.



Human Worth – 10th March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s something of a tightness around the noise scene , especially around a nexus of London acts who swap members for side projects and collaborations on a remarkably frequent basis. This is a good thing, for while all of these projects share much common ground, each offers something distinctive and unique, too, a different twist or angle from the others.

Human Worth has given a home to a number of releases from acts which have emerged from this mini-melting pot, notably recent output from Remote Viewing and Fucking Lovely. And now they’re really spoiling us with the latest endeavours from The Eurosuite, who, their bio informs us ‘consist of 4 lovely people who make disquieting no wave songs that will equally pierce your ear drums and move your hips’ and whose ‘previous musical endeavours include USA Nails, Nitkowski, Screen Wives and Mister Lizard.

What Sorry has in common with both the Remote Viewing and Fucking Lovely releases is, that like most Human Worth releases, it’s noisy. It’s also absolute class.

But it’s also very different, with electronic elements not only incorporated, but highly prominent. The first track, ‘Cup of Water’ is sparse and atmospheric, with glitchy mechanised drums bouncing about, and it’s intriguing and really quite gentle – and then they bring the noise with ‘BODY’ where it really does all kick off – and kick off it does, with frenetic drums and guitars blasting away like crazy.

The electro/noise rock crossover is unusual – while they’re by no means the first act to do it, their approach means they don’t really sound like anyone else, not least of all because the range across the album’s span is quite remarkable. Noisy as it is, the noise is quite contained for the most part, or otherwise countered by the synths to conjure an equilibrium of sorts – or, at times, a jarring, jolting contrast.

‘Seven’ showcases just how hard it can hit when everything’s cranked up and going full-tilt, but then again, ‘LIB’ throbs and pounds and nags like a melding of DAF’s ‘Der Mussolini’ with I Like Trains’ latest output, but as performed by Big Black. They leap and lurch between jarring, jolting blasts to rather more accessible structures, and I’m variously reminded of Killing Joke, Selfish Cunt, and Daughters – the latter not least of all because of the manic energy and intensity, as well as the skewed angular noise that cuts across the rhythm section.

‘Total’ throws it all into the mix as it goes big on a mathy post-punk vibe while packing on some dense guitars and thudding bass into its two-minute duration, with hints of …Trail of Dead, and again, it positively crackles with a frenetic energy. The last song, ‘The Dream’ is truly climactic, an explosion of squalling guitars, thudding drums and sparking electricity.

Sorry is an album of contrasts, of variety, and an album that doesn’t give a fuck for genre or convention. For these reasons, Sorry is an exciting album. It’s an album that doesn’t sit still for a second, and it’s impossible to predict where it’s going to go from one bar to the next, never mind one minute to the next. It’s dizzying, but also – to use a phrase popular in the tabloid press – jaw-dropping. Sorry is a sonic frenzy and endlessly inventive, and if it leaves you feeling punch-drunk and giddy by the end – Sorry, not sorry.



BEBORN BETON reveal ‘Last Chance’, a cool new clip taken from their forthcoming full-length Darkness Falls Again. The performance video of the groovy synth pop hit ‘Last Chance’.

BEBORN BETON comment:”Troubled boy meets emotionally depraved gynoid beneath silvery moon which then, for no adequately explored reason, fails to explode”, vocalist Stefan Netschio writes on behalf of the trio. “Last Chance!”

Watch the video here:



Beborn Beton by Chris Ruiz