Posts Tagged ‘electronica’

29th November 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Ahead of the release his seventh solo-album, Exo, in January next year, Swiss electronic artist Bit-Tuner indicates a significant change in direction with this single release. The two pieces on offer here are brief and – here’s the headline – beatless, as Bit-Tuner goes fully ambient.

It’s also a surprisingly succinct sonic document, the two tracks combined clock in at a mere fraction over seven minutes. ‘Passage’, the press release tell us, is ‘based on field-recordings, synthesizer pads and fluttering arpeggios,’ and ‘resembles a winding descent into a weightless but fragile science fiction world.’ The music in itself conveys almost nothing of this yet at the same time, succeeds in creating its on psychological space through the language of sound. It’ hushed, subdued, fragmented. Sounds like seagull calls drawl across ethereal twistings. Sometimes, abstractions conveys more than anything concrete or specific.

Virtual flipside / counterpart ‘Irisia’ is described as ‘a call from way below’ in which ‘a thunder-like growl from the underworld wraps itself around a floating choir-drone’. At a mere two-and-a-quarter minutes, and consisting of echoed notes and a mist-like sonic mist swirling directionless, it’s barely an interlude. And yet, despite its lack of substance, it has atmosphere and a certain depth.

I am left pondering the oddity of a ‘single’ release in the context of an ambient work that’s most likely designed to be consumed as a single while, but this showcases Bit-Tuner’s latest work in a digestible and readily accessible, bite-sized format, and it works nicely.

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Christopher Nosnibor

The trouble with receiving more shit than you could ever listen to in a week on a daily basis means you lose track now only of what you’ve got, but also where much of it came from. The positive spin is that life becomes a constantly-rolling conveyor-belt of surprises, some of which are pleasant.

What’s pleasant is a matter of taste, of course, meaning not everyone in my position would be enthused on stumbling on the dark, industrial-strength electronica of Kojoohar × Ködzid Goo – less a collaboration than a collision of Ukranian Andrei Kojoohar (who produces industrial / power electronics as Kadaitcha, and synthpop / triphop / downtempo under the Fogscape moniker), and Ködzid Goo from Russia, who specialises in bleak darkwave.

It’s no criticism to say that Дотла represents the sum of its parts. ‘Сулема’ (trans:‘Sulema / (Mercury Chloride)’ sets the tone with churning atmospherics paving the way for a thudding industrial rhythm and shivering electronica. It’s low-tempo, intense and claustrophobic. There’s no space to get comfortable here: there’s barely space to breathe. Its as dark as the black on charcoal cover from beginning to end.

There are dark hip-hop elements buried deep in the songs, too, and the hybridity contributes to the otherworldly distancing that defines the sound.

Whether or not the lyrics lose anything in translation, I couldn’t comment, but there’s something fascinating about their viscerality and potent images, with the opening lines of the final track, ‘Полынь’ (trans: ‘Polyn’ / Wormwood’ being fairly typical:

Eye slits plastered with phlegm completely,

eyelashes sealed with wax tightly

All the humanity has a single mind,

and now it starts getting distracted

Wrapped in food plastic film deceitfully,

it rots in its semiconsciousness

Drowning unhelpfully in swampy lakes,

trudging scarcely through powder dunes

The same song closes off with the equally dark lines:

Dust settled on our senile scalped heads

Successively having turned into powder

We all were born at the wrong time in vain

Blossomed in the wrong place all over

Delivered in a blank monotone, devoid of emotional and humanity, it sits well with the stark, mechanoid instrumentation that thumps and grinds low-end bass throbs welded to dead-hearted beats, overlaid with icy synths.

Hard, stark, cold and dystopian in every sense, this release offers no comfort and no breaks, no hooks and no easy inroads. It’s a difficult and singular work that reminds us that we’re all on the outside, all alone, and all doomed.

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9th August 2019

Gintas K’s bandcamp boasts no fewer than twenty-nine releases. The Lithuanian experimentalist isn’t one to place quantity over quantity either: this almost overwhelming output, as represented by an average two releases a year, is the product of an enquiring mind, a fertile imagination and an unstinting work ethic.

The title gives a hint as to this EP’s creation: recorded live in a single day, without any overdub; using computer, midi keyboard & controller assigned to vst plugins, the three pieces on One Day Journey are exercises in excitable minimalism, skittering glitchtronics and exemplary works in the field of circuitry-based fuckabouts.

The three tracks, distinguished simply in numerical terms, are defined by swampy bleeps, bloops, glops, thumps, pips and pops fly haphazardly flitting and flickering in all directions, surging and swelling, whumping and slumping. Drip, drop, blip, blop, slip, slop, tinkle, tinkle In so many respects, they’re devoid of both structure and substance, and yet it’s this flippant flimsiness that renders them of merit.

Gintas’ flighty, almost fanciful style of experimental electronica is amusing in an avant-garde way, and almost seems intent on being vaguely irritating to anyone who isn’t already entirely on board with this strain of whacky wild synapse-snapping oddness.

The third and final track, ‘Three’ fizzes and foams a mess of electronic froth, foaming and fermenting effervescently over a thirteen-minute sprawl of apparent discoordination. It’s a crazed mass of non-linear noise, an impossible combobulation of sound. And if you are on board with this strain of whacky wild synapse-snapping oddness, One Day Journey has everything going for it.

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Gintas K - One Day

Monika Enterprise – Monika94 – 16th August 2019

Released in December, Moment was one of those albums that grabbed my attention by virtue of its ‘otherly’ take on the conventions of electronica. Gudrun summarised it as being ‘stark, somber, sultry, and clever’, and indeed, it was all of those things, as well as being utterly compelling. How you do improve on that?

Ordinarily, I’d have said you don’t mess with near-perfection, and that you certainly don’t improve on anything with remixes. But then, much as I enjoy my reputation for always being right, I’m sometimes happy to be proven wrong, and with Moment Remixes, Gudrun Gut has found sympathetic remixers who all seem to have honed in on similar elements of the album’s tracks, meaning it’s a stylistically coherent collection, and with only four tracks, it doesn’t feel laboured or like it’s milking the material in any way.

The remixes very much accentuate the stark, minimalist aspects of Moment, as well as the retro vibe that amalgamates early DAF with ‘Warm Leatherette’ by way of a blueprint, and it’s the crisp cracks of vintage drum machine snares that dominate and define the sound here, while everything else is backed off. It’s robotic, dehumanised, and in some respects, challenging in its mechanised sterility. Or, as the press release puts it, ‘4 goose-bump inducing tracks ideal for all floors and moods’.

T. Raumschmiere’s remix of ‘Lover’ launches proceedings as a pumping dance track. It’s energetic and energized, but at the same time sultry and bleak, somehow balancing the seemingly contradictory atmospheres or claustrophobia and spaciousness.

The remix of Gut’s cover of David Bowie’s ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ courtesy of Pilocka Krach distils everything that was quirky and interesting about the album version and brings it together in magnificent style, and Dasha Rush and Paul Frick (remixing ‘Baby I Can Drive My Car’ and ‘Musik’ respectively) retain the emphasis on sparse yet ultimately danceable grooves. I don’t dance, but I do dig.

Gudrun Gut - Moment Remixes

Panurus Productions – 26th July 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Prolific’ is the word. There are a number of artists, with a significant pocket being Japanese noisemakers like Merzbow and Kenji Siratori As Paraponera Clavata, released in March, marked his 41st release since his 2014 debut, it would be fair to place Osaka’s Takahiro Mukai in the ‘prolific’ bracket.

And while Ripples isn’t explicitly a ‘noise’ work, it does find Mukai drilling the listeners senses with some pretty shrill shards of treble atop whupping phased synths. The cover art may depict a perfect tropical ocean, clear and a glorious turquoise / blue washing softly over white sand, but delicate and gentle it isn’t, and Mukai’s approach to minimalism doesn’t equate to quiet or tranquil – simply that less is more.

The first of the album’s four tracks, ‘#437’ is reminiscent of Whitehouse around the time of Birthdeath Experience or Total Sex – only with better production and without the vocals. ‘#436’ follows, and draws abrasion from smooth surfaces. In the distance, a sound like a siren, while an oscillating synth bubbles along, its volume increasing as it moves to the foreground. More phasing pulsations bring a rhythm that stop and starts inconsistently to disorientating effect. The effect is the real achievement here: the compositions on Ripples work in such a way that the component sounds rub against one another to draw the listener’s attention to that peculiar tension that exists in the space in between.

Completely disrupting my sense of order with the non-sequential ‘#439’, Mukai stretches elongated, undulating drones out over some ten and a half minutes to create a deep disquiet, but it’s on the closer, ‘#438’ where Mukai steps up on the noise. Low in the mix, electronic fizzes like shooting stars whistle through the dense droning atmosphere. Over the course of almost nine minutes, the volume and intensity increase, revealing new textures and tones. Stuttering rhythms emerge like desperate messages in Morse code where every sound is a dot. Scrapes and squalls bore into the cranium in the upper frequencies, while a thunderous wind billows through the mid-range, expanding from a rumble to a roar like an approaching helicopter, or an avalanche.

Sitting in my office at home, writing on the hottest day of the year so far, and what may yet prove to be the hottest in the UK on record, the thought of an avalanche carries a rare appeal. But then, whether it be a literal avalanche or merely an avalanche of sound, Ripples fulfils that desire to be submerged and separated from one’s immediate environment.

Takahiro Mukai – Ripples

Panurus Productions – 21st June 2019

Inspector Fogg is Newcastle filmmaker Wayne Lancaster, and his eponymous album threatens ‘ten tracks of warm synth-based stuff.’ For some reason, this makes me think about pissing down my own leg.

The slow, soft wash of sound that marks the album’s arrival in the form of ‘Fuyu’ isn’t nearly as embarrassing or as uncomfortable, the drones swelling and rising in and out of step to forge fluidly fluctuating rhythmic ebbs and flows. Although very much of the album is ambient to the point that structures are lost in the drift, each composition has a distinct identity and mood.

‘The View Across the River’ begins as a delicate strum before yielding to polyrthymic bleepery, while ‘Strange Tales’ is dark and vaguely sinister. If ‘ominous’ sounds like a similar descriptor, it’s different enough to mark the subtle shift in atmosphere as ‘A Year From Now’ casts reflective shadows between held breaths.

There’s more substance to ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’, an insistent beat and pulsating synth behind a rolling piano creating a groove that evokes an action sequence in a film. But its erratic stops and starts are jarring, and it’s almost an act of self-sabotage as the one piece that seems to be going somewhere is simply gone in just over two minutes.

The pieces become shorter and seemingly less evolved towards the end of the album, with ‘Oil on the Road’ and ‘Case Closed’ being sketches of around a minute each. The former is driven by a grimy, buzzing synth bass overlaid with 80s-sounding electronic keys that threatens to go all Harold Faltermeyer before an abrupt ending, while the latter is a piano-based outline that has infinite scope for expansion.

Assuming this gradual diminishment of development is all part of a plan of sorts, the logical analysis would be to attempt to unravel its purpose or meaning. But this is art, and art so often defies logic. And while the snippety pieces are vaguely frustrating, the album as a whole is satisfying in its balance of variety and cohesion, and its infinitely preferable to pissing down your own leg.

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Inspector Fogg

COdA / Lonktaar – 20th March 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

This release came my way via master purveyor of noise and drone and occasional collaborator of mine, Dave Procter. The man with more pseudonyms and projects than possibly anyone I’ve ever met – with Legion of Swine, Fibonacci Drone Organ, Wharf Street Galaxy Band, Hundbajs, Dale Prudent, and Trouser Carrier being just a few of his outlets – he’s immensely well-connected (and deservedly respected) in this niche corner of difficult experimental music (with forays into poetry and spoken word and with an angular post-punk band in the mix). I’m therefore assured that anything he recommends will be suitably obscure, and challenging, and probably very good and right up my alley. This is very much the case of Systemet’s När Vintern Kommer Till Sverige.

According to the press sheet, ‘Systemet is a collective that challenges the architecture of a standard band. While the sounds have their roots in early industrial, dungeon synth, dark ambient and noise drone music, only a segment of Systemet is a harsh reinterpretation of the mix of these genres.’ And it is harsh. Meanwhile, according to Dave, it’s a ‘beast’. And it is a beast.

I learn that ‘the aim of this album is to recreate the sensations of the Swedish winter, based on a one-week off-track trek in the Sami area north of mount Kebnekaise, where the cover picture was taken, in the period between autumn and winter 2018.’ Having never experienced a Swedish winter, I’m ill-equipped to comment, but if it really is anything like När Vintern Kommer Till Sverige, I can only conclude that Swedish winters are seriously tough.

I also learn that ‘all sounds were produced by ELI and ELQ synthesizers’ – which, being custom-made, you won’t find in the shops or emulated on-line – on a quadraphonic system, and recorded in dual stereo. The effect is deep, wide, immense.

‘Čievrrajávri’, the first of the album’s four pieces – I’d be reluctant to call them compositions, begins as barely a whisper of wind, a delicate breeze laced with almost invisible, inaudible traces, before the low-gravity bass notes begin to amble and moan in rumbling undercurrents that set an uneasy tone.

Things don’t get lighter or easier from thereon in: ‘Glaciären Brinner’ brings more space-age pulsations, oscillating rhythmic throbs of distorting low-end and murky mid-range over which whistles and screeches. But mostly, it’s about dark washes out found, swirling gurgles that spiral and whip the air. It’s an ever-shifting soundscape of swirling, pulsating darkness, a vortex which sucks the listener in. and it only become s progressively more difficult. It’s perhaps a cumulative effect: scrapes and drones in small doses are simply scrapes and drones, but over the course of almost forty minutes, it slowly becomes increasingly torturous, and När Vintern Kommer Till Sverige offers no respite.

The ‘extended version’ of ‘Gaskkasvággi’ is 11:11 of elongated, grating drone and what sounds like heavy breathing up close to a mic amplified and looped. It’s a shade hypnotic. It’s followed by the final piece, ‘Vy Över Visstas’, Which is the sound of collapse and a protracted final meltdown; circuitry slowing, fizzling to a halt, howling and braying like slain robots in an uncoordinated wash of distortion and stuttering analogue froth.

När Vintern Kommer Till Sverige is indeed a beast: challenging, uncompromising, bridging the gap between Tangerine Dream, Throbbing Gristle and the vast field of contemporary dark ambient / industrial / electronic crossover, it succeeds in pitching unsettling layers of unease in the pit of the stomach.

Systemet – När Vintern Kommer Till Sverige