Category Archives: Electronic

Flowdan – Disaster Piece

(Tru Thoughts, 2016)

After a musical career of about 20 years (as a founding member of the crew Roll Deep among other things), Flowdan stands still strong as one of the most recognisable voices in Grime. After the “Serious Business” Ep and a number of great collaborations with notable producers (such as The Bug) of recent years, the Big Flowdan finally finished work on his new full-length album this year.

The album features 12 songs of quite atmospheric high quality Grime, partly quite minimalistic (and even “safe”) and partly experimental production-wise, but always full of that guaranteed dark and deep Flowdan-feeling.

The production (by Cato, Masro, Swifta Beater, Dexplicit and others) of the riddims relies mostly on a mixture of modern Hip Hop and EDM vibes (mixed with even some Industrial elements) besides the classic Grime-logic when it comes to instrumentation of the synths and drum-beats, with each song consisting of pretty basic and straightforward musical themes (with some songs refreshingly going a bit more progressive than that). Epic orchestrations and percussions colour the etherial and electronic feel of most of the beats, and the overall production and soundscapes of the songs are of much quality and sound professional, altho I would have personally liked to hear a bit more gritty and hard sounds (such as those trademarks of the aforementioned The Bug), which fit Flowdan’s voice and style so well. On the other hand the quite straightforward and articulate feelings of the beats function as a solid whole.

The main emphasis of the album is nevertheless naturally on the voice and deliveries of the man himself, and his strong, deep and dark voice indeed keeps the whole atmosphere of the album intact and unified. The production lets Flowdan speak his mind without too many effects or other gimmicks, which tells of the trust in the abilities and skills of the man, acquired during his many years of involvement in the scene. Two songs also feature old-school friends Manga and Tinchy Stryder (while four songs feature female vox by Animai), but the spotlight is of course on Flowdan.

The lyrics deal mostly with personal and social themes the Grime-way, which are obviously more than familiar to the man due to his  experiences growing up. Flowdan’s lyrics have often been quite dark but very witty, atmospheric, and often straight to the point, fitting this kind of music perfectly. Needless to say, the technical abilities of the man are great as well, making his spitting always a powerful and pleasurable listening experience.

With no clear weak parts in the song-selection, this steady yet much imaginative and always entertaining album is an awesome and much recommended modern look into classic Grime. Honest, hard and simple if you will, but also often complex, emotional and deep. Just like the streets.

Flowdan

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Aymeric De Tapol & Joachim Montessuis / RIPIT – Split

(Ångström Records, 2015)

Noise and Power Electronics are music styles few understand, and even fewer really know how to perform. One might think of ominous dark men in balaclavas shouting in front of a screen showing disturbing video-material, or perhaps some pseudo-militaristic approach to this genre, but fortunately there is so much more to this culture and style than that.

The opening track of this release by Aymeric De Tapol & Joachim Montessuis reminds me of the more modern Noise, such as the recordings of Henrik Nordvargr Björkk, in it’s synthetic and Electronic nature. The sound is extremely sharp yet warm at the same time, like lying in a heated ocean of sharp nails. As the high-pitched screaming distorted vocals enter the scene, I am getting strong nods to Black Metal (because of my background in the style in question), but then again this might not be that uncommon in all kinds of Power Electronics and Noise these days. All in all a very atmospheric and strong track, paving way for the following tracks in it’s intro-like qualities.

The following four tracks by RIPIT are quite different in composition and executions. Although being extremely Noisy (having the same audial aesthetic nature as the first song), they remind me more of Glitchy stuff like Autechre. Lots of bleeps, clicks and thuds, small intense storms of beat-like yet chaotic thumps and basses make up most of the material on these four songs, surrounded by (again) warm and sharp winds and floods of noises. The vocals on the last two tracks are screaming and intense just like the ones on the first track, while having more variation to them.

The overall soundscapes on this release is of high quality, giving multiple mental orgasms to the audiophile most interested in extreme Electronic audio. However, the short length of this release is at the same time cool in the sense the songs are very powerful and strong, giving you satisfaction fast, but at the same time I am left wanting more, since I’d like to make love with these tunes and music like this for a much longer period of time. Then again, considering the nature of split-releases (in the form of 7-inches such as this and so forth), the length is pretty standard and solid. The feeling of the cover-art fits the chaotic yet sophisticated and thoughtfully occult nature of the music perfectly.

If you want to know more about those things called Noise and Power Electronics, or if you are a fan of more modern Noise already (perhaps not the old-school stuff like NON), and Glitchy Electronic stuff (such as the aforementioned Autechre or music styles like Breakcore), you should definitely obtain this release.

Ångström Records

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Amon Tobin – Dark Jovian

(Ninja Tune, 2015)

The Brazilian sound virtuoso Amon Adonai Santos de Araújo Tobin, classified by many as one of the world’s leading Electronic musicians and a classic IDM artist of the nineties, has released nine full-length albums on Ninja Tune (not to mention the long list of EPs and Singles), his last full-length album and an EP being released in 2011. This his latest release goes into the EP category, with five songs and three remixes or reshapes (of three of those five songs).

The EP starts with “Dark Jovian”, which features beautiful, massive, Drony but thick waves of Noisy sound, lower pulsating and higher synths, totally Electronic in nature, crashing in on us with immense intensity, like a breathing organism that is some weird synthetic alien planet. Beautiful choirs join the dramatic scenery towards the end, before the song fades away into “In Your Own Time”, a more calmer piece with ethereal melodies, awesome vintage moogy sounds, and vocoder-like choirs. The third song “Adrastea Contact” changes the atmosphere into a bit more classic IDM, Ambient and even Trance-oriented environments, yet using mainly the same soundscapes as the first two songs. The fourth song “Io” is a minimalistic and calm yet powerful eyeopener of an Ambient-track, bringing to mind the psychedelic interdimensional space-scenes of “2001: A Space Odyssey”. “Encounter On Io” finishes the main-part of the Ep with some jazzy (but simple) organ-stuff and weird insect-like effects, and when the beautiful choirs enter the picture once again, I’m getting strong feelings of a 60’ies artsy Sci-Fi-movie. Halfway through the song we are dragged into a darker and more hostile place for awhile, before ascending towards the surface again towards the end.

As mentioned above, the last three songs on the EP are remixes, which of course give cool perspectives to the songs, with slight changes in the soundscapes, and for example additional beats in the song “In Your Own Time”.

This release is a fantastic display of the imagination of Amon Tobin, and a great reminder of why Electronic music will always be the platform of the future. If you are into vintage synth-sounds, quality Ambient and IDM, and Sci-Fi atmospheres, you gotta give this one a listen.

Amon Tobin

Ninja Tune

Josef Dvorak Feat. Fuckhead + Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand – Sous l’Arbre De Science

(WKN, 2014)

It has been years since Albin Julius went totally Psychedelic with his previously more Martial-sounding band Der Blutharsch, but there are still aspects in the music reminiscent of the previous incarnations, namely the Ambient, cinematic and soundtrack-like elements and general unerring atmosphere. In other words, the latest recordings still sound like Der Blutharsch above all else.

This collaboration-release with the Viennese “Satanologist” (and co-founder of the art-movement  Wiener Aktionismus) Josef Dvorak, and Viennese Experimental Electronic Performance artists Fuckhead, offers partly Ritualistic Ambient sceneries of sound, partly slow-moving (or a bit faster) seventies- and eighties-sounding Rock with strong old-school Electronic elements. Some organic-sounding percussion-sounds and other effects spice up the mix of otherwise quite Psychedelic guitar, bass, and synth-oriented experience. All the sounds are nicely of very vintage nature. The speeches of Josef Dvorak fit the music very well, or vice versa.

For all fans of the previous work of Albin Julius, or lovers of vintage (or “retro”) Psychedelia of Rock and Electronic nature, this release is worthy of purchase in Mini-CD or 10” formats, while waiting for a possible next full-length album and other future adventures of Albin Julius (and comrades).

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I Put A Time Bomb In Your Submarine

(Bearsuit Records, 2014)

This remix album features reworkings of a vast collection of past material by various artists signed to Bearsuit Records, made by an international group of talented producers and musicians.

The mostly Experimental material varies from quite Pop Electronica to more etherial Psychedelic or Ambient stuff, with many songs featuring elements of modern and older IDM, soft Noise and gentle Industrial as well (and for example one song featuring awesome Chamberlike Orchestra-sounds and one song cheesy Electric Guitar synth-sounds), with grooves and beats ranging from Glitchy stuff to Hip and Trip Hop and everything in between. Not all song feature vocal-parts, but the ones that do, fit the overall atmosphere splendidly. As the amount of material on this release is so vast, it’s quite pointless to try to categorize this release much in terms of genres or styles.

However, the remixes follow mostly a rather similar fun and groovy mentality, making this a solid and balanced release, perfectly suitable for (for example) background music while working or throwing parties. There are very few boring moments (if none) among the huge amount of material presented. The quality is altogether excellent, reflecting the great skills of the people involved in this project.

It is great to notice there are fresh labels who can compete in quality with well-known labels such as Ninja Tune or Warp Records. As there are so many artists and songs on this release, it’s best to check out the stuff for yourself, if you’re interested in quality playful Experimental Electronic musick!

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[ B O L T ] + Ewaldt – Collaboration Tape

(Wolves And Vibrancy Records, 2014)

The German duo of [ B O L T ] has released a couple of full-lengths, as well as a split, a remix-album of their work made by other artists, and two collaboration-releases, of which this Tape made with Ewaldt is the newer one. On the works of their own, [ B O L T ] has used two basses to create (usually) long and hypnotic Drony Ambient works of art, bringing their abstract world here with them, while Ewaldt focuses more in creating more traditional and beat-oriented style of Electronic music, classy and cool at some parts, soft and beautiful at some, while the rest is quite Industrialized and harsh.

The beats are mostly calm and repeating in a Downbeat-kinda way, nothing too complex, with sounds reminding me of nineties (and why not modern) IDM, sometimes going a bit more aggressive. The synths deliver thin, high and etherial almost howling sounds and beautiful simple melodies, floating and moving above a sea of Drone and quite Noisy Industrial-like clanky rhythmic ambience. The low, humming and crackling waves of sound produced by the basses, synths and effects work extremely well in contrast with the beats, and the softer and lighter music.

Sometimes sounding like a harsh (yet not distressing) factory, sometimes like an electronic forest full of life, these songs deliver different calming and sensitive atmospheres of awesome quality, despite the harshness and kind of black-and-white (grey) aesthetics of the whole. If you’re into bands like (modern) Ulver, Sunn O))), or if the catalogue of for example Warp Records usually pleases you ears, you’ll most likely find this release extremely worthwhile. I also urge you to check out other music done by both artists.

Wolves And Vibrancy Records

[ B O L T ]

Ewaldt

Arca – Xen

(Mute, 2014)

Venezuelan-born producer Alejandro Ghersi, despite his young age of 24, has already been working with artists like Kanye West and FKA Twigs, now joining the well-earned and respected ranks of Mute.

“Xen” features elements from a lot of styles of the past and present, bringing them under one banner (which looks a lot like the cover picture of this album, fitting the music perfectly). Weird samples and hectic drum-loops are placed atop atmospheric nineties club-sounds or electric pianos, Hip Hop beats walk hand in hand with glitchy synths or ambient sounds of bizarre organic instruments, while dissonant classical orchestras are interrupted by groovy ethnic beats from the future.

There is something of that Madlib or J Dilla -mentality found here, but also that chaotic psychedelic logic of artists like Flying Lotus or Prefuse 73. There is something rugged and slightly distorted in the world of Arca, but also something luminous and touching, like a weird moving formless underwater angel. Sometimes quite disturbing or almost anxious, sometimes ecstatic, joyful and beautiful, this album is not for the faint of heart. But for those well experienced in different kinds of electronic and urban music, this might just be the kick you need to get those certain parts of your brain working again.

Definitely a work of a truly gifted artist, I can see Ghersi working with a multitude of artists of different kind, or making soundtracks for film-art, in the future. I’m definitely waiting his next adventures to the far (or closest) reaches of the human psyche with much excitement and anticipation.

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Clark – S/T

(Warp Records, 2014)

This is the eighth album Chris Clark has released under Warp Records during the last thirteen or-so years, and the first I’m hearing, which is a shame, since I really dug his style right from the start.

The music of this self-titled album is made mostly with deep and reverberating bass-sounds, hissing hats and thick kicks, drony and soft but heavy synth-leads, glitchy and glimmering (sometimes percussive, sometimes noisy) vintage Electro-synth-aesthetics, bongos below the floor and steelpans and pianos like stars glittering in the roof of some dark damp chamber, and everything in between. If the hallways of some ancient temple were made of futuristic metal decorated with scriptures in neon, this album would be their audial version. I’m also getting House- or Techno-versions of Calypso-music in some outer space night club.

The music rolls on nicely, song after song of personal and unique pieces of art. The amount of material and sounds on the album makes it a highly entertaining masterpiece with lots of re-listening value. This stuff works amazingly well played both from your headphones or at a club. Classy as hell, a must for fans of for example Aphex Twin, Daft Punk, Flying Lotus and Lone.

9/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

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Utu Lautturi – Arcane Pyres

(Cursed Tapes, 2014)

On this cassette-release Finnish experimental artist Utu Lautturi collaborates with two other artists, 45:KO and Faces Of BÈlmez, with both collaborations on their own sides of the tape.

Side A (with 45:KO) inspects the atmospheres and customs of the Aghoris (the aescetic holy men of India living amongst the dead, conquering their fears and Egos by performing taboo-rituals) and serves as an audial offering to Kali Ma. It has four songs of amazing quality Ambient conjuring very authentic atmospheres and sceneries of India, the Ganges River, with bodies floating in the water and funeral pyres filling the air with smoke. Flutes, bells, chants and other organic sounds unite with electronic Drony walls of soft Noises to create one of the best ritual music I’ve ever heard in my life. The quality of the textures and the spaces of the sounds is very good, giving a multi-dimensional feel to the music.

Side B (with Faces Of BÈlmez) features even more Ambientlike stuff, with a bit more Psychedelic and Noisy approach. The nature of these songs is a bit more aggressive and harsh than on the other side, but nevertheless a similar Eastern feeling can be easily found here. This may well fall into the Ritual Music category as well, although being a bit more darker and frightening perhaps. Not as easy of a trip than the first side.

The long one hour running time of this release makes it totally worth the money, for every Electronic (especially Ambient, Ritual, Noise, etc.) music freak with a cassette player. As far as I understand, these songs are not planned to be released on CD, so this is truly a rare gem!

9/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

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Darkspace – Dark Space III I

(Avantgarde Music, 2014)

During it’s 15 years of existence, Swiss band Darkspace has released original and much admired albums of a combination of intense Electronic music and Black Metal. On this their fourth album they continue along the same path. Consisting of three long songs (going over an hour in total), it is not an easy trip to take, demanding a lot of your attention, since stuff this intense does not work well just as background music.

After a very ominous cinematic intro of dark ambient sounds and something which sounds to be a laser-battle (or perhaps just some strange machines making noises), we are pulled into a black void of very warm synthetic sounds but cold feelings, melodic synths and massive guitars. The drumbeats are often very EBM or Goa Trance influenced, sometimes just ultra fast Industrial blasting. The guitars serve mostly as background rhythm, very technical and damping in nature, while the synth leads make most of the melody in the songs. The vocals are typical Black Metal screaming mostly, but sound extremely menacing and unforgiving. Like being at the presence of a higher intelligence not of this world.

Sometimes the walls of sound which make the music are so damp and dark, in that Teitanblood kind of way, it’s hard to make much out of the material, but you get the impression there are very cool things going on in this darkness. Without knowing for sure is this because of bad mixing, or deliberate atmosphere, all I can say is that it works mostly. The atmospheres of this album are immense. This is nothing like Samael’s “Passage”; this is totally dark and “underground”.

Perhaps the dark nature of the mix might scare away certain people, but those used to listening stuff like Portal or Teitanblood are at home in this futuristic Cyberpunk dark world. The music itself is not that complex, and this album relies heavily on the vast dark atmosphere of the hypnotic space-themes, but this is nevertheless a very entertaining ride.

This is of course music for the generation into video games and Black Metal at the same time. Every fan of dark sci-fi, extreme Techno, spacy cosmic themes and aggressive Black Metal will find solace in this unforgiving cold dimension of Darkspace.

8/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

Darkspace