Posts Tagged ‘electronica’

Constellation are releasing three stylistically diverse electronic albums throughout May and June: the dazzling polychromatic avant-jazz-driven Familiar Science by JOYFULTALK (out now); the psycho-geographic glitch-noise minimalism of Gap/Void by Automatisme & Stefan Paulus (out May 20th); and the pulsing corrugated mantric-alluvial Miracles by T. Gowdy (out June 3rd).

The Montréal label has shared a video from each of these fine albums. Check ‘Üble Schlucht’ from Gap/Void by Automatisme & Stefan Paulus here:

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Coming from the playfully intangible modular synth and multi-instrumental collective The Utopia Strong, is ‘Castalia’, a new taster of the voyage to come from their second full length International Treasure (Rocket Recordings, 10th June).

Here, the band share their thoughts on the second single and album closer:

"Castalia was one of the first tunes we started for International Treasure, it felt so optimistic and forgiving which was such a tonic during the somber period in which the album was recorded. Castalia initially felt at odds with the rest of the album which generally has a much bleaker, melancholic tone – to our ears at least – but by putting it in as the last tune it somehow makes sense of everything that went before.

Kavus continues, "It has this end of the night kind of feeling, it put us in mind of Orbital’s Belfast or Ashra’s Sunrain. Steve and I thought it would sound perfect as the last tune we’d play in a DJ set, in fact initially I wanted to call it ‘Last Song Of The Night’ but thankfully Mike wasn’t having any of it! The vocal at the end once again comes from Katharine Blake who sang on the last piece of our debut album, Moonchild. We liked the conceptual continuity of that but also, along with the use of acoustic instruments, the way it humanises the track too.

"Mike Bourne, who created the video, has been a friend before we were even a band. It was he who inspired Steve to take up the modular synthesiser in the first place. We loved his work anyway and he’d created an astonishing video for The Holy Family, another Rocket band Mike York and I are involved with, so we were very keen to work with him. He’d specifically asked to do the video for Castalia and knowing his work we gave him a free hand. I think the end results absolutely crystallise the vibe and atmosphere of the piece, we couldn’t be happier."

Watch the video for ‘Castalia’ here:

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Photo credit: David Ryder Prangley

Kohlhaas Records – 22nd April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Simon Whetham’s notes which accompany (II)ntolerance – the sequel to his 2017 collection, InTolerance – are informative, albeit perhaps more so when reading between the lines: ‘InTolerance consisted of a selection of combined scenes and activities in various global locations. Through the process of constructing the piece, it became clear that it was as much about my ability and fortune to be able to travel and cross borders with relative ease as it was about the situations I was able to document. (II)nTolerance is a sequel and a response to InTolerance. It is a personal reaction to the global pandemic and its wide-reaching effects through suffering, fear, misinformation as much as confinement and curfews. It is a personal response to the (somewhat incorrectly named) United Kingdom leaving the European Union and all the resulting events that are continually unravelling.’ He continues: ‘Travel has been limited when not impossible. Cultural exchange is only possible through mobile, online, remote communication. Tactile contact is feared. Families and friends have been divided physically, mentally, politically.’

The pandemic but a block on everyone’s lives, but everyone was affected differently, and while I struggle to find sympathy for those bemoaning their inability to take their 204 kids on their half-term skiing holidays and the like, touring artists who depends on mobility for their livelihood, it’s a different matter, especially as that transit and a shifting geography is integral to the creative process. Reading Whetham’s notes, it’s clear that his obstacles have not been purely pandemic-related: The ‘United’ Kingdom has degenerated into a cesspit of division where not only ‘tactile contact’ is feared, but so is anything from ‘outside’. Never has this felt like a smaller, more isolated, island, and not just geographically.

Tolerance is something many of us – mostly those of us who wanted to remain – can now only dream of, as we hide our faces behind our hands as we peep at Twitter and Facebook, where it’s bordering on a virtual civil war.

Whetham describes (II)ntolerance as a personal response to all of this, and ultimately, that’s the only real response any artist can make. The idea that we’re all in the same boat has been proven untrue, for while we all endured the pandemic, everyone experienced it so very differently: home schooling while working from home was, for example, in no way comparable to living alone or in a shared house while on furlough. Similarly, the effect of Brexit for a container driver, versus that of, say, a hedge fund manager is simply not comparable. But this in itself is an issue: increasingly, it seems people have become unable to relate to experiences and situations which differ from their own.

As an artist, of course, one can really only represent oneself, and hope that through the personal there is an element of universal therein, and on this level, (II)ntolerance succeeds, containing as it does fourteen abstract compositions that state nothing explicitly, and yet convey so much implicitly.

There are a number of pieces that form sequences, namely the ‘Angry Earth’ pieces and the three ‘Kinetic Readymade’ pieces, which give the album a sense of cohesion and thematic unity (while making a small nod to avant-garde greats like Marcel Duchamp). And (II)ntolerance is an album of movement, of turbulence: the first piece, ‘Angry Earth Seething 1’ sounds like a harsh deluge of rain, and the lashing precipitation sets the tone for a stormy sonic journey, riven with growls and gulps and crashes of static and ominous drones and clicks and stammers.

(II)ntolerance marks a shift from field recordings and a focus on geography to shift the focus inward in a response to a shrinking environment, and the result is claustrophobic and uncomfortable. ‘Moving Sentry 2 – Angry Earth Seething 3’ is a gurgling mess of abrasion, while ‘Reception – Windpipes’ whips and gurgles in a fog of phase. Oftentimes, such as on ‘Angry Earth Seething 4’, Whetham conjures a dark, gravel-shunting grind of uncomfortable noise, while ‘Kinetic Readymade (Turbine)’ embraces all shades of difficult, dominated by churning, scraping noise – and as a whole, (II)ntolerance is not an ‘easy’ album. It’s noisy, with serrated edges and low-end growlings that unsettle the intestines. A difficult album for difficult times.

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This is it Forever – 25th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There are many artists who can boast bodies of work that are solid, and illuminated by outstanding gems along the way, but there are few artists with bosies of work as consistent as worriedaboutsatan. Fifteen years into the project’s existence, that’s a significant achievement. Some artists go off the boil or seem to struggle with maintaining that level once they achieve a certain degree of success, whether it’s simply through a perceived pressure to deliver something or create something that will replicate whatever it was that achieved that success, or simply diminishing returns, but worriedaboutsatan, despite having tracks featured on Coronation Street and Adam Curtis’ Hypernormalisation documentary, not to mention radio play on both 6Music and Radio 1, and the very vocal support of one Ian Rankin, remain unstinting in their path.

Operating solo since 2019, Gavin Miller has maintained a constant flow of output: so constant that since Providence last May, Miller’s slipped out a brace of album-length single track releases (Circles I and Circles II) and an EP Live from the Studio that entirely bypassed me while I was, well, I don’t know, what was I doing?

The thing about consistency is that it absolutely does not equate to sameness, and worriedaboutsatan’s output is defined by its evolution, incorporating wide-ranging stylistic elements from delicate post-rock to pounding beats within the overall sphere of haunting, reflective ambience of varying shades of darkness and light. And while satan’s sounds exist in a rarefied space all of their own, no-one lives in a complete bubble. We live in dark times, and not insensitive to this, this latest offering finds Gavin channelling that global turbulence through his work.

Bloodsport promises a departure, and it delivers. Miller describes it as ‘still very much a worriedaboutsatan album, albeit a fairly angry one.’ It’s a fair summary. The intro piece, ‘Je Suis Désolé’ is a classically ‘electronic’ composition with oscillating waves cutting across one another, but the treble tones sound like sharpening knives, and it has an edge that scrapes at the skull quite unexpectedly.

Making a linguistic and stylistic switch, ‘Bis Ich Komme’ is slow and dubby, a dense bass and backed-off beats holding the structure of a drifting ambience, before it solidifies and hardens around the mid-point. There’s a tension, a simmering aggression in the tone of the barbed synths, something uncomfortable and uncertain in the samples, before jungle beats hammer through the woozy, stomach-clenching undulations like machine gun fire

Released ahead of the album as an EP with three remixes, ‘Sigourney Weaver Fanclub President’ is the theoretical lead single, and it’s a brooding eight-and-a-half minutes of echoes guitar sustain and crashing sheet metal. It’s the sound of shattering destruction and trepidation. It’s classic ‘satan in that it’s all the layers, all the atmosphere, but it’s also steelier, with a certain bite previously unheard.

The two parts of the centrepiece, ‘An Absolute Living Hell’ are definitive and are a statement in themselves. Dark, dank, oppressive, bass-heavy and bursting with shards of extraneous noise, rippling in deep, deep echo, this diptych is the soundtrack to this bleak moment in time. ‘Part 2’ goes full industrial with a throbbing bass and crashing percussion worthy of Test Dept or Neubauten.

The stark robotix of the brief but claustrophobic ‘Perfekt’ makes for possibly the least WAS-like track of their career, before the metronomic thud of ‘Slur They Words’, dives headlong into the territory darkest hi-hop: the origins of the vocals are unclear, but they’re abrasive, and ‘Apex Redditor’ draws the curtain in a bleak fashion, but with a redemptive hint of a rippling piano and twitchy percussion that – I hope – alludes the prospect of a new dawn. Because surely, surely, there has to be a light at the end of this tunnel.

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Mille Plateaux – MP40 – 11th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The last time I engaged with the work of Cristian Vogel was when his double-disc compilation, the archly-titled Classics in 2016. This retrospective covered his 90s output, and traced his evolution as an innovator in underground techno and electronica. His catalogue has doubled in size since then, and it’s apparent that Vogel isn’t only prolific, but an artist who doesn’t like to retread old ground, constantly questing and striving to develop and explore new directions. 1Zhuayo explores many new directions, all at once.

Penning notes to accompany the release of this album, Lain Iwakura and Achim Szepanski wrote that ‘The new Cristian Vogel album 1Zhuayo sounds as if non-musicology & ultra-blackness is not an end or a destination to be arrived at, but as if it is the point of departure, much like tomorrow relates to the day after tomorrow. As if we have left the space of certainties and are moving instead into one of manifold possibilities. They are anticipated in the micro-structures of sound, which is the process of playing with and against the software.’

But then I start to get lost when they continue to explain how Vogel ‘creates a rhythmight that is constructed from the anticausality of Rhythm as counter-counted, the tracing of the rhythmicity of Rhythm in the creation-in-Rhythm. Rhythm is foreclosed to hearing. Non-music radicalizes this notion by subtracting hearing from the framework of experimental music, which claims that everything is heard from Rhythm. The material of music is the continious flow itself. Cristian Vogels method for this way of creating sound is called Rhythmics.’

I feel as if I’m wandering through Deleuze and Guatarri’s A Thousand Plateaus while drunk and on drugs. Words lose meaning – as does sound. It’s bewildering, disorientating. 1Zhuayo is, on most levels, a dance album. But it’s not an easy one, and it’s pretty dark and dense in the main.

The album starts as a churning roar, scraping feedback and industrial machinery grinding away like a tumble drier full of broken bricks, before ‘Hyphadelity’ plunges into booming bass groove-orientated dance. But it’s not comfortable or commercial: the vocals are menacing, half-submerged as they are amidst the busy layerings and the surges of extraneous noise. ‘Astrocumbia’ sees things turn nasty: dance music you can’t dance to, a frenzy of distorted beats exploding all over amidst a gruelling churn or super-low, super-hectic bass that pounds at the pit of the stomach and crushes the cranium. ‘Emanations’ slows it down with an almost dubby vibe.

Things unfold differently on ‘S18’. Again, the dance tropes are prominent, but they’re fractured, pulled apart, before a tsunami of solid sound crashes through on ‘1Zhuayo Express’, which swells to immense proportions, like Godzilla rising from the deep, flexing its muscles as a wall of sound, gloopy bass and grating mid-range pulsating in a monstrous behemoth of power electronics.

The Strom Stadt remix of ‘Transferenz’ is a brutal exercise in monster hardfloor techno that makes The Prodigy’s later works sound like bouncy chart pop, while the Disintegration Mix of ‘Angle Phase Life’ is a brutal mesh of noise with mangled beats partially submerged by the successive detonations of low-end. It sounds like an erupting volcano and missiles launching in slow motion. And amidst it all, electronics pop and squelch like fireworks.

‘Cables’ isn’t a cover of the Big Black song: in fact, it’s quite the opposite being stark and minimal, stuttering glitchy, with a crunching bass drum thudding mercilessly throughout, before the last piece, ‘Serpent Acid’, a splattering blast of jamming percussion and nagging, repetitive, cyclical synth motifs.

Less is more, and this is largely minimal, but at the same time, builds up later from unexpected angles to create something different. It leaves you feeling somewhat dazed – in a good way.

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Musician and actor, Eric Oberto has just unveiled his new video and single release for the song, Closer Than Ever Before. The song appears in the forthcoming Hollywood theatrical film, Malibu Horror Story due out in late 2022.

‘Closer Than Ever Before’ paints the dark picture of a man running from himself and racing against his own mortality. While being stalked by “Death” himself, he encounters memories from his past and startling entities that chase him closer to that final closing door.

The music video for ‘Closer Than Ever Before’ will mark the second collaboration between Eric Oberto and Erik Gustafson of the band, Adoration Destroyed!

Both Eric and Erik co-directed the music video shoot. Eric Oberto also took on the role of Producer with the invaluable help of Video Shoot Production Manager, Micha Marie Stevens. Erik Gustafson Cinematography brilliantly handled all of the post-production and editing work. Watch the video here:

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Not Applicable – 4th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Instant disorientation is the effect of hitting ‘play’ on Isambard Khroustaliov’s Shanzhai Acid. What the hell is this? Woozy drones and amorphous waves or warping wisps ripple and blur, and hums like a swarm of drunken bees weave precariously through an alien soundscape. I’m accustomed to experimental and sci-fi, but this… This, I was not fully prepared for. By fully, I mean at all.

It’s vaguely sci-fi in its strangeness, and I find myself blinking and bewildered in a lack of comprehension as to what it’s all about.

Welcome to the world of artificial intelligence, which may well be intelligent, but in a way that’s so artificial as to have taken leave of intuition. To unpack that, the liner notes explain that Shanzhai Acid is an album ‘produced through artificial intelligence design and interaction with modular synthesisers. Reminders of the complex, granular music of Autechre, Fennesz’s reimagined environments, the deconstructed dance music of Lorenzo Senni, and the expanse, gestures and sheer reach of Gerard Grisey’s spectral master-work: Les Espace Acoustiques, Shanzhai Acid exists in its own intersection of art, design, music and technology where process and function are transcended to produce an album of extraordinary auditory allusions’.

My initial reaction was, if I’m honest, ‘hell yeah!’ Because innovation in music seems to have slowed so badly over the last decade. No, that’s not my ageing and being stuck in the past. I’m not saying there’s been no good or exciting new music. But innovation stalled: I believe that to be pretty much fact. Because it’s pretty much all been done by now. Guitars have been taken to their limits and beyond, meaning most significant advances since the late 70s have been driven by the use and abuse of technology, and while hip hop and dance music have certainly exploited technology, we’ve not seen anything as radical as the advances made by Throbbing Gristle and the like in the last forty years.

There are points during Shanzhai Acid that both Throbbing Gristle and certain dance tropes are evoked, with crackles and fizzes and static shudders and glitches pop and hum and there is circuitry in interplay, whirring and wowing. It’s hard to tell how much meaning to attach to the titles of these pieces, or even how seriously to take it. But then serious music can have a playful element, and ‘Experts v. Shamans’ sounds like R2D2 in communication with a nightmarish fairground ride. It’s a journey – and a disorientating one at that – that leads to the seven-minute slow-grinding drone and stirring swirls and hums that build layer upon layer on ‘Meanwhile Cephalopods’. Meanwhile, cephalopods what? No, there is no what. It simply is.

Shanzhai Acid is a remarkable abstract work that delves into microtonal and glitch territory, swerves wide into drone and ambience, and scratches at the shores of early industrial and vintage avant-garde. With such wide-ranging elements scrunched together, it’s a unique hybrid and a refreshing, if at times challenging listen. And while you should supposedly never judge a book (or album) by its cover, Shanzhai Acid sounds like the cover looks.

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Lifted from their recent AA-approved Slowburn EP, Dissonance have released a lyric video to accompany the Smoke and Mirrors Mix courtesy of James Reyna, aka Melodywhore.

It’s a slowburn indeed, and you can watch it here:

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Audiobulb Records – 2nd March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Experimental and underground music, particularly of the electronic persuasion is a broad field, but, it would seem, a small world.

During lockdown, the Nim Brut label hosted a series of virtual gigs, where performers would submit sets accompanied by visuals, and the resulting streams were varied and eclectic, in the best possible way, presenting the full breadth of the melting pot of a diverse and disparate milieu. As is so often the case with events of this ilk, everyone was not lonely accommodating, but welcoming toward one another, celebrating the differences in style and approach.

Feast 5, back in August of 2021, was a belter, and not only because as half of …(Something) Ruined I got to unleash new brutal noise in a safe environment, but got to do so alongside some remarkable artists, notably Omnibael, who have featured a number of times here. Also on the bill was a performance so brief as to barely be an interlude, something I described as a ‘shifting wave of glitchronic ambience’ courtesy of Neuro… No Neuro, of whom I knew nothing, until today, when on the arrival of Faces & Fragments in my inbox, I learn that NNN is ‘a moniker of the electronic musician Kirk Markarian, an avid synthesist, drummer, abstract painter, and graphic designer residing on the alluvial plain of the Sonoran Desert, in dry and dusty Tucson, Arizona’.

The title is a fitting summary of the album, both its input and outputs, and the lived experience of listening to the thirteen pieces, which are as much collages as compositions.

As the liner notes explain, ‘Each track illuminates fragments of memory and speech, as they wander out of focus in the growing aperture of time.’

As such, each piece is formed, sculpted and layered, from an array of sounds and sources, snippets, and scatterings, fleeting and ephemeral; chiming notes ring out over soft washes, sporadic glops and plops, like drops of water falling in a cave, overlaid with brief fragments of voices. On ‘Everybody is Out to Get You’, those voices slow, distort, blur, into a nightmarish nagging. It drags on the psyche, against a skittering, jarring backdrop what warps and tugs unsettlingly, and makes for awkward, queasy listening.

Neuro… No Neuro’s own comments on the album’s formulation and function bring us closer to the heart of the state of confusion it creates, explaining, “Each track shares the ‘fragments’ of speech/memory, the growing aperture of time and loss of thought. While forming sentences via type has not declined (because there is time available), speech and recollection are steadily decaying into simplified phrases and poor playback for quick address.’

As William Burroughs said, the function of writing is to ‘make us aware of what we know and don’t know we know’, and this was particularly pertinent in the context of the cut-up texts he produced, essentially collages of other texts designed to recreate the real-time experience of memory and sensory awareness, and the simultaneity of events. We do not live in linear time; we experience multiple sensations simultaneously; thoughts, sounds, conversations, things happening around us all occur on the same timeline, in layers, and our memories record these experiences. This is the sensation that Neuro… No Neuro recreates with Faces & Fragments, from the stop start jittering of ‘Slice of Mind’, to the trickling sedation of ‘And the Energy Goes Back to the Ground’.

The faces blur into anonymity after a while; people look alike and are strange or strangely familiar, and things can get confusing after a while. Faces & Fragments may not – and probably doesn’t sound just like your internal monologue or the soundtrack to your life, but structurally, the resemblances are clear once you step back and reflect. Our thoughts are a jumble of intrusions and overlaps, with memories and recollections triggered by the most random associations and events, sometimes with seemingly no trigger at all, and all flitting through at the same time as you’re watching TV or scrolling through social media shit on your phone as messages and emails ping in and there are conversations and the radio or TV is dribbling away while dinner’s bubbling away in the oven. Life never stops: it happens constantly and all at once, overlapping, overwhelming. Faces & Fragments is a slice of life.

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Postpunk-darkwave-electro trio VONAMOR presents their pulsating and enthralling new single ‘You the People’. Recalling the best dark pop of the ‘80s, this is the second taste of their impending debut VONAMOR album, an 8-track collection produced by Lucio Leoni and being released via Time To Kill Records (TTK).

The hypnotic fast-paced videoclip features dystopian imagery depicting the messed-up and borderline world in which we live. The sound weaves together stories of men, power and protest worldwide to sharp dialogue between male and female, voiced in English and Italian. Colours and pounding images mesh with archive footage of clashes between people and power, men and progress, technology and freedom, as flashes of our modern world strike your retina.

“Through our darkwave music and words, we search for the question, the ambiguity, the multiform influence of a variety of demons. We feel the urgency of questioning ourselves, our fellow human beings and the reality around us," says Giulia Bottaro.

“At first it may seem you are watching the videoclip for ‘You the People’, but the more you go on, you may feel that the video itself is watching you – and you are there, at the very intersection between we and you, between past and present, between desire and fear, between sound and colour.”

‘You The People’ underlines VONAMOR’s dialecticism and style, as well as their will to convey originality and sensuality, even when menacing, with passion and intensity. Eternally playing with words and sounds, they never lose sight of the rhythmic, Dyonisian and captivating soul of their electro dark, post-punk vision.

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This single follows the lead track ‘Take Your Heart’, which has been met with international acclaim, and its intriguing video, directed and edited by Fabio Santomauro. Last year, the trio released the singles ‘Never Betray Us’ and ‘Fast-Forward Girl’.

VONAMOR is made up of sisters Giulia Bottaro, Francesca Bottaro and Luca Guidobaldi, with Francesco Bassoli and Martino Cappelli joining the trio for live performances. The band’s roots date back to 2016 in Rome. Initially focused on communicating images and composing scores for short films, they morphed into the trio we know today with their style, literary echoes, imperious art-pop and enigmatic aesthetics.

“VONAMOR is an escape plan, our treasure island, a thick and savage jungle that gives you the chance to let your prayers and whispers reverberate like a church. We used the music in this album to walk paths that we hadn’t known before, to connect Rome to Paris to Berlin to Beijing, to mix techno music with folk, to let our voices and bodies mingle and dance to an incredibly weird yet familiar beat, and finally to search for a boom of love and light into the dark of our everyday life: yes, VONAMOR is a boom!” says Luca Guidobaldi.

Watch the video here:

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