If It Pleased Me To Appear To You Wrapped In This Drapery
Review: Prolific Canadian composer Sarah Davachi shows no signs of slowing down. 2019 is barely six months old and she's already offering up her second set of the year, her seventh in total since the start of 2017. This time round, the Los Angeles-based experimentalist has returned to her roots, delivering a set of two distinctive halves. The A-side "Perfumes" suite is startlingly simple in concept, with Davachi creating a dreamlike mood via sustained, slowly shifting church organ chords and gentle piano motifs. It's little short of stunning. Turn to side B and you'll be treated to an exercise in avant-garde modern classical, where slowly vibrating strings and minimalist movements slowly evolve over 21 spell binding minutes.
Review: Earlier in the year, modern minimal wave and coldwave hero Marie Davidson signed a high-profile deal with Ninja Tune. Here, she makes good on that contract, following a couple of killer singles with what could be her strongest album to date. After setting the tone with clandestine, tongue-in-cheek opener "Your Biggest Fan" - a creepy spoken word cut taking aim at stalker-line fans to the accompaniment of heavy analogue synth bass and creepy computer bleeps - Davidson giddily flits between elastic dancefloor workouts (the brilliantly sleazy "Work It" and mind-altering "Workaholic Paranoid Bitch"), attractive post-EBM instrumentals (the psychedelic and fizzing "Lara"), meditative ambient melodiousness ("Day Dreaming"), bizarre experimental weirdness (the suitable dystopian "The Tunnel"), and stylish analogue pop (the whispered vocals and off-kilter early morning funk of "So Right").
Review: Normally found weaving their reflective ambient orchestrations on Type, Norwegian duo Deaf Center have been snapped up by Sonic Pieces to offer up a haunting two-sided release that demonstrates their continued mastery of arresting instrumentation played out at a funereal pace. "Follow Still" is particularly haunting with its plaintive piano notes lingering long in the mix while the most subtle drone accompaniments drift listlessly around them. "Oblivion" has a more evocative tone that conjures up noirish scenes with carefully treated horn-esque sounds, buffing down the individual notes to create a more fluid melodic whole.
Review: Michigan by way of Texas producer Matthew Dear has had an illustrious career, spanning nearly 20 years producing techno and minimal under such alises as Audion and Jabberjaw. But it's under his birth name that he has created his most thoughtful and innovative work that has resulted in several studio albums - this being his sixth. Bunny is said to have been inspired by an objective view of his career thus far, as well as becoming a father, being inspired by his collaborations and just knowing what works musically - coming from experience. Bunny certainly has its moments: from the low slung Bowie-esque pop of "Calling", the smooth neon-lit noir of "Modafinil Blues" or his collaborations with Canadian duo Tegan & Sara - particularly the irresistible lead single "Bad Ones".
Review: Since Demdike Stare released their last album in 2012, the world seems to have got altogether darker and more shocking. It certainly seems a fitting time for the Lancastrian duo to return with their sixth full length. Wonderland naturally boasts a number of typically clandestine, pagan outings - see the dense, industrial influenced "Curzon", fearlessly distorted "Hardnoise" and mutant jungle fuzziness of "Sourcer" - but also moments of frenzied funk and quiet contemplation. In the latter category you'll find sublime album closer "Overstaying", where shimmering synth melodies and ghostly chords rub shoulders with elastic bass and skittish drum machine percussion. However dark and bleak things may seem, there's always hope, even in the intensely unsettling world of Demdike Stare.
Review: Between the mid 1970s and the early '80s, legendary Factory Records producer Martin Hannett exchanged tapes through the post with Delia Derbyshire, one of the BBC Radio Workshop electronic experimentalists who inspired him most. The tapes contained cutting-edge synthesizer tracks and electronic soundscapes that were meant to form the basis of a joint album that never materialized. To coincide with the 40th birthday of Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" - one of Hannett's most groundbreaking productions - this album offers up those previously unheard compositions and collaborations. Variously weird, wonderful, quirky, cute and unbelievably creepy (Derbyshire did work on Doctor Who after all), the set is inspired and essential in equal measure.
Review: In some ways, the impact of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein's soundtrack to Netflix's Stranger Things was more important than the music itself. Certainly, it helped to reignite interest in synthesizer-heavy TV and movie soundtracks from the 1980s, in the process inspiring a swathe of imitations. The duo's work on this soundtrack from the recently released second series offers more of the same, delivering attractive, heavily electronic music that subtly doffs a cap to a variety of synthesizer-loving composers and artists. It's naturally cinematic in nature - all the music was written to enhance or emphasize the on-screen action, after all - but far quirkier and head turning than more neo-classical scores. In other words, it's another fine selection of atmospheric synthesizer soundscapes.
Review: Eight years after Teufelswerk, an album in which Hell called up giants like Bryan Ferry and P Diddy for creative adventures, International Deejay Gigolo Hell presents his fifth album Zukunftmusik. A much more personal affair, written and created with Peter Kruder, the album takes a deep dive into Hell's psyche. His inspirations, fears and fascinations all laid bare as we glide and slide from the poignant ballad of "Anywhere Anytime" to sinewy, sinister 6am acid ("Guede") via orchestrated cinematic synthesis ("K House" and "Inferno") to strident slices of evocative and highly narrative house music such as "Wild At Art". Hewn together with shades of experimentation and timeless pop science, Hell's created something incredibly special here.
Review: Four years on from his album - the chamber music-inspired "Joined Ends"- Dorian Concept returns with a set said to be a tongue-in-cheek "parody of nostalgia". This concept manifests itself in the curious and off-the-wall way in which the album was made, with the critically acclaimed producer not only drawing influence from a variety of vintage styles - think '60s jazz, '90s IDM, '70s prog rock and '80s jazz-fusion - but also using traditional methods (live instrumentation, old fashioned tape recording) to recreate modern digital sounds. Thrillingly, he also decided to use his own voice more, manipulating it and adding layers of lo-fi noise to give a warm but out-there feel. As a result, The Nature Of Imitation is an impressively experimental and thoughtful album that's also inspired, entertaining and bags of fun.