Review: Cong Burn made a mighty splash with its first release, clearly flaunting the kind of wares you'd expect to hear from Livity Sound alumni or other such esteemed techno renegades. The second installment is no slouch either, featuring a new cast of crooked creators offering up their wares for the modern mutant dancefloor. BFTT has a weighty low end thrum powering "Public/Private", while Lack takes things in a scuffed and nimble direction. Chekov pushes out into more experimental pastures with the broken beats and displaced sound design of "Celeste" and Howes creates a wonderful strain of mystical deep house for darkened souls. Each one of these tracks is loaded with flair and personality, yards ahead of your average generic knock offs and presenting something with real merit to the convoluted world of dance music.
Review: Just the fact that the Shahr Farag imprint is from Iran is enough to grab our attention. This is both because it feels like a novelty to the scene, but also because that vast majority of arts that come out of the country are always so interesting. This time, label owners Lenta and Ahu are joined by Romanian minimal expert Vlad Caia, who serves an excellent, Eastern-minded quasi-dance rhythm in "Declination", and a purely abstract barrack of drones and low frequencies on "Neptune". Lenta himself drops a fuzzy wash of sounds and disparate beats through "Your Existence", while Ahu's "Blind By The Sun" has something in common with dub-techno, except that here the sounds that flutter up and down are grainy and imperceptible...and wholly wonderful. Tip!
Review: The Isla stable heads far out every time, but they're getting especially adventurous on this new missive from La Fe - a duo made up of Michael Red and Daniel Rincon (also known as Sounds and Ambien Baby respectively). There's a dense, ethnological tone to the percussion sources, with humid atmospherics sticking close to the drums throughout. Quite where the music is headed is unclear - somewhere out on the plains of the Fourth World no doubt - and the ambiguity is part of the charm.
N'ecoutez Pas Tous Les Conseils De Vos Amis (4:45)
Dans Mon Desordre (5:42)
En Retirant (5:52)
Review: LCN is the alias for Le Chocolat Noir, an artist whose thirst for roughneck electro seems absolutely devoid of any sort of replenishment. The man's been active for near ten years now, skipping and hopping from label to label, and he lands on Gooiland Elektro, a subsidiary of Enfant Terrible, with these four stomping bangers. The A-side twists and turns its industrial gears with a fluid motion, bubbling up all sorts of dark energies from the depths of the inferno; the flip is no less magnetic in its look-and-feel, offering up two dicey cuts - "Solitude" and "En Retirant" - the former being a deep excursion into cold-waves and the latter a nasty, vibrating acid hybrid for the warehouse.
Review: Light of Other Days is a Zurich based record label. After great releases previously by Miajica, label boss HOVE and ETHIMM, they now present this lush EP by label co-founder Le Frere. Slow Glass is not only the debut release by him, it is also a very personal diary of the last two years of his life. All four tracks are based on recordings, samples and ideas he collected while travelling the world. With this concept in mind, he tried to catch moments of his life without stripping them of their dynamic and evanescence. Retro tinted ambient journey's for fans of labels like Antinote, rich in celestial FM synthesis and saturated VHS quality offered up here for the most part, with the exception of the lively slow burning groove of "Nttt8" which closes out the EP in style.
Similar Familiar (Ruede Hagelstein & Amin Fallaha remix) (7:02)
Warsaw Street (Scuba remix) (8:21)
Loose Life (Julien Bracht remix) (5:53)
Remember (Thom Alt-J remix)) (3:31)
Review: There's been a fair amount of excitable online chatter about moody synthesizer fetishists Lea Porcelain, a duo from Frankfurt whose work sits somewhere between vintage minimal wave and clanking, modular electronica. Here, the pair has allowed a quartet of remixes to make merry with some of their most name-checked tunes. The headline attraction is arguably Scuba's alternately hypnotic, melodious and trippy broken techno take on "Warsaw Street", though Julien Bracht's doom-laden, lo-fi breakbeat interpretation of 2015 track "Loose Life" is arguably even stronger. Those looking for the ultimate in beat-less, wall-of-sound moodiness should check out Thom Alt J's inspired remix of "Remember".
Cuando Rocio Dispara Sus Flechas (Suzanne Kraft remix)
Posmeridiano (Hatchback remix)
Ukraina (Zavoloka remix)
Review: Cocktail D'Amore showed the breadth of their tastes when they reissued Ukranian composer Iury Lech's 1990 album Musica Para El Fin De Los Cantos last year. Now the label has commissioned a raft of remixes from some label regulars, with wonderful and diverse results. Powder drops her signature snaking rhythmic trysts over "Barreras", while "Cuando Rocio Dispara Sus Flechas" benefits from an abstract, ambient reworking from Suzanne Kraft. Hatchback takes to "Posmeridiano" with a delicate touch, all lingering 80s synth motifs in a beatless reverie, and Zavoloka lays the cinematic intensity on heavy with the icy strains of "Ukraina".
Review: Damn! Dark Entries are on a roll! Their latest reissue is of Scotland's Thomas Leer, an early 80's independent artist who recorded "Private Plane" in his bedroom using an extremely limited set-up...the prototypical '80s experimental kid! The tune is dreary, funky and on the abstract side all at the same time, but our favourite is actually "International" thanks to its wonky groove, driving percussion stabs and bursts of distorted jazz flute. On the B-side there's also "Saving Grace", a more poppy affair in that inimitable 80's Karate Kid flair...highly recommended, a 12" worthy of a reissue.
Review: Thomas Leer was mainly active in the late 70s and early 80s, dropping two singles on Cherry Red that provided the source material for the two original tracks on this Emotional Rescue reissue 12". Opener "Saving Grace" is a rich, bombastic blast of synthwave, all chugging arps and massive leads, while "Tight As A Drum" heads into more psychedelic territory, using strange gating techniques and deft FX to create a wondrous, shimmering bed for Leer's poetic chat over the top. Bringing an inventive angle to the release, the label signed Bullion up for two wonderfully warm, wobbly remixes. Honing in on the weirder qualities of Leer's work, these modern interpretations make a perfect bridge from the old to the new - highly recommended!
Review: After the first split release from Lenta and Ahu last year, Shahr Farang is back with another intriguing, enveloping take on minimalistic electronics for the true meditators out there. With not a dancefloor concern in sight the listener is transported into evocative soundscapes populated by broad strokes of pad and detailed found sounds, while the most delicate pulses of rhythm fall in patient measures that would make Jan Jelinek feel somewhat hyperactive. "Love Is Silence" is the most steady 4/4 track on the release, while "Divine Light" spins off into anchorless swirls of hum and shrieks from no definable source. "Bare Shoulder" flexes on a reduced beat tip, while "You Still Come To Me In My Dreams" worms some wistful samples into the intricate and dusty surroundings to great effect.
Review: Second Circle's latest mini-album comes from the previously unheard Giuseppe Leonardi, a "young Viennese musician" whose heady, synthesizer-heavy style is reminiscent of some of the curious obscurities reissued on parent label Music From Memory. While experimental in nature - think skewed combinations of lo-fi analogue keyboards, sparse and dusty drum machine hits and all manner of manipulated voices - each of the five tracks is pleasingly melodious. Combined with a range of left-of-centre influences from the early-to-mid '80s (think new wave ambient, new wave and British post-punk dub), it makes for a heady and arresting collection of tracks that actually gets better with each successive listen.
Review: Lhasa is the brainchild of Alain Raes from Siegen, Germany. As a teenager he was inspired by Tubeway Army's "Are Friends Electric" and Art Of Noise's "Beatbox". In 1985 he began collecting analog equipment (Prophet-5; Oberheim OB-X; Linn LM-1) as digital synthesizers had started to become more popular. In 1986, New Beat was born in Belgium. Dancers tapped into the darker side of synth pop, and DJs would play 45 rpm records at 33 with the pitch control set to +8. Alain was playing in New Wave bands and had started production work and synth programming for other acts.
In 1988 he self-released the debut Lhasa single 'Acetabularia' / 'Acetatechno', with help from Kris Tremmery on vocals and concept. The record combined the icy melodies of Gary Numan and John Foxx with with the mechanical rhythms of Detroit techno and EBM. Thematically, both tracks revolve around the end of life on Earth, and include samples from 'Dr. Strangelove'. For this first time reissue, we've added 4 bonus tracks rescued from a 1990 recording session DAT tape. These demos show further development of the Lhasa sound with updated instruments (Roland D-20, Yamaha TX16W, Korg 707), faster tempos, and menacing proto-rave energy. All songs have been mastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Each copy includes an 11x11 poster with photos and liner notes by Alain.
Review: Second time around for South Florida noise-niks Life In Sodom's 1991 debut single "The Stains", which here comes accompanied by a 21st century rework from Mannequin big cheese Alessandro Adriani. His mostly instrumental version adds a little rubbery electronic funk and weightier bottom end into the mix whilst retaining the drum machine driven, guitar-fired sense of impending doom that marked out Life In Sodom's original mix. That celebrated cut comes in slimmed-down album and extended versions, with the latter working better on club dancefloors. Also worth checking is bonus cut "Phantasmagoria", a much more downbeat and melancholic affair that sounds like it could have been made at any point in the early-to-mid 1980s.
Review: 2MR is a curious label, indeed. For starters, its founders Mike Simonetti and Mike Sniper have released just about all sorts of electronic music on it. The second release by Russian artist Kedr Livanskiy is just as nutty as her debut, except that this time we have even more sound experiments to play with. Mixing up lo-fi techno through the likes of "Razrushitelniy Krug" or "Winds Of May", together with grainy shades of house on "January Sun", and even broken-down echoes of post-hardcore with "Otvechai Za Slova" the artist has managed to create a truly captivating record, and perhaps also one of the freshest and most daring pieces of music that we've heard since the turn of the new year. Warmly recommended.
Review: 12th Isle's latest must-check chunk of entertaining experimentalism comes from Lo Kindre, whose dub-wise 2017 debut on Optimo Music was arguably one of that year's most overlooked EPs. "Chlorophytum", the producer's first solo missive since then, is another lo-fi electronic dub treat. Of course, it's not all gentle bass-heavy rhythms, endless delay trails and cute electronic melodies - closing cut "For Sleep" is a buzzing electronic raga, for example - but it's on these bass-heavy excursions that Lo Kindre most frequently hits the spot. Highlights include the extraordinarily sub-heavy shuffle of "Sounder", the ambient dub wooziness of "Aibell" and the creepy alien-dub oddness of "No Hiding".
Review: Musical (and real life) couple Local Suicide has been in fine form of late, delivering a series of solid collaborations with the likes of Curses, Franz Matthews and Theus Mago. Here they go solo once more via a first outing on Lumiere Noire. Title track "Leopard Gum" is dark, woozy and feverish, with the pair wrapping curiously off-kilter vocals, intoxicating electronics and ghostly chords around a slow, sparse, bass-heavy groove. It's given a throbbing, darkwave inspired makeover by regular studio buddies Smagghe & Cross, before Local Suicide serves up the clandestine and atmospheric new wave chug of "Already There". In typical fashion, synthesizer fetishist Phillip Lauer offers up an Italo-disco influenced interpretation that turns the track into a cheery chunk of Balearic disco goodness.