“You can read longer things in little chunks. It’s not like reading this giant paragraph at once. No one wants to do that.”
“This kind of corporatized blog with like a YouTube channel for debuting songs all feels like it’s cats lobbying to get a job in PR for Boiler Room or RA or whatever.”
“That’s what I gravitated to…the most gutter music. That’s what I wanted to hear.”
Despite her being in the game for over two decades, I was unfamiliar with the work of UK violinist Laura Cannell and her deeply melodic, post-minimal chamber music before chancing upon her latest album The Sky Untuned on Brawl Records. Composed of seven tracks of profoundly emotional and ecstatic compositions, this album is bursting with all the feelings. Hugely recommended.…It’s shaping up to be a killer month for rhythmic noise. The artist formerly known as Elizabethan Collar returns with five tracks of restless mid-air synthesizer somersaults for Chained Library on the eponymous ELIZA B.C. LP. Contort yourself….After a 2018 that saw him putting out a criminally slept-on LP of Gilroy grime, Anthony J Hart has been on a tear in 2019 under his Basic Rhythm guise. A project focused on de/reconstructing the past three decades of UK rave music, his New Style EP for Sneaker Social Club back in March saw his sound becoming a bit less academic without sacrificing the labyrinthine rhythms and academic chin-stroking that were a hallmark of his Type Recordings releases. Issued by exactly the label you’d expect to be down for Hart’s sound, Planet Mu, On The Threshold suffuses heat-warped house chords with grid-shifting rhythms and diced-up MC chatter/diva vox across ten tracks that reveal an artist most comfortable when operating in album-length chunks. Highly recommended….Future Times continues keeping it weird by linking up with the DC DMV rappers Boost and M. Cherry who spit oddball rhymes over backing from Nappy Nappa and Pat Cain and rounded out by Dolo Percussion on drums and FX, all performed under the Model Homes moniker. I don’t know how much I even enjoy the five tracks on 8, but what they’re doing is different and I’m totally here for it. One for the oddballs….Stephen O'Malley’s always-special Ideologic Organ imprint has shone a new light on the band Kukangendai who proffer a mathy, groovy brand of live group dynamics on their Palm LP. Described by O’Malley as reminding him of “James Brown on a heavy binge of Bastro (SICK!!!!), the four-piece shares Goat’s passion for math rock, but rather than going down a pointillist k-hole, they stick to grooving across the surface in a dune buggy. Very extremely dope….Back in the mid-00s, Nick Edwards’ Gutterbreakz blog helped to stoke my growing love for all things dubwise and bass-heavy. I had largely forgotten about the site around the time the shadowy post-post-bleep (heh) operator Ekoplekz began appearing on labels like Punch Drunk, Perc Trax, and Mordant Music before connecting the dots when he joined the Planet Mu roster in 2013. Basically, my point here is that Nick Edwards is a legend. He’s issued his Kirlian Visionz LP for the perpetually on-point Seagrave label and it’s a deeply satisfying dive into his broken, brainy productions. Get weird with it….It’s hard to imagine that only a few years ago, it seemed like drum’n’bass was destined to stay in the shadows as a niche interest. Clearly, producers both young and old got the memo as they’ve seized upon the resurgent interest in breaks to show how the damn thing is done. Recently, we’ve been treated to the return of dons like Adam F, Peshay, and Dillinja on labels like the resuscitated Deep Jungle. But perhaps the most significant turn has come from J Majik who has dropped his second-ever album—his first in twenty-two years—for his own Infrared imprint and hoo boy, Full Circle is a corker, ten tracks of top-shelf, vaporous junglism. Heavenly…..First issued to wax in July 2018, Fourth Dimension Records has now put out a CD edition of the Weapon Design LP Anthony DiFranco’s (Ramleh) singular JFK project (lol) and it’s a masterpiece of ferociously intentional rhythmic noise brutalism. As tremendous as they come….After putting out the consistently thorny and delightful Sports comp, Manchester’s Youth label has tapped Tokyo DJ/producer Hoshina Anniversary for the Nihon No Ongaku / 日本の音楽」 LP, a dense yet intuitive set of submerged beats, technoid signaling, and dance music impressionism that thrives in the space between experimental electronics and pop music. Lowkey amazing….
Amsterdam’s Knekelhuis imprint follows up solid platters from Zaliva-D and Victor De Roo with a sumptuous collection of astral, Berlin school-adjacent synthesizer music from Wolfgang Reffert’s Dark Star project.
Cryonics: 1989 - 1992 collects a smattering of recordings originally issued on two cassettes and a CD that fuses the sci-fi spacerock of a band like Space Art into a driving, dubby, and industrialized aesthetic that is more entranced by the stars than the smog. A massive collection….There’s only so much overlooked “vintage leftfield electro” out there. If you loved last year’s Black Lodge reissues, the venerable Science City label has done did you a solid by repressing Marvin Dash’s 2000 Dr. Strangelove five-tracker released under the one-off Dead Leaf alias. Originally pressed up in an edition of 100 promo copies, this shining sliver of crunching, brainy, and fun dance music is now available to a wider audience (if they’re paying attention, of course). Scope the samples…Finders Keepers sublabel Cache Cache does it to us again by following up their momentous Plastic Dance Volume One compilation from 2015 with a new selection of “computerised punk” and wave music of all stripes. Plastic Dance 2: Domestic Synth Pop & Patchbay Punk Compiled by Andy Votel & Doug Shipton is ten tracks of neck-snapping beats, cosmic melodrama, and anything-goes DIY electronics that even contains pieces from Parry Music Ltd, 808 State’s Graham Massey (as Beach Surgeons), and Swedish electropunk pioneers Cosmic Overdose. Hugely, massively recommended….Boston’s Get On Down enterprise has been churning out must-buy hip-hop, dub, electro, and jazz reissues since 2010 and they dropped an RSD stunner this year in the form of Ed O.G & Da Bulldogs’ precocious Life Of A Kid In The Ghetto LP from 1991. And while you’re at it, it’d probably be smart to scoop up Dillinger’s seminal roots wrecker CB 200 from 1976….For all you environmental ambient fans out there, WRWTFWW Records is reissuing Yutaka Hirose quiet classic Soundscape 2: Nova on vinyl next month, a welcome pressing considering that the CD is currently commanding ‘Scogs prices north of $140. Go get lost….Italy’s fantastic Black Sweat Records reissued Pit Piccinelli, Fred Gales, and Walter Maioli 1986 album Amazonia 6981 back in 2016 and they’ve now returned to another freewheeling, Sound Reporters-issued record from the trio, Het Jacoba Prieel. One for the rippers….
Considering that DJ charts seems more like a bygone relic than a legitimate way to discover new tunes in an time of follow-the-influencer, I have to smile at the one DJ whose charts I do read: Machine Woman. Thus, I know nothing about the track “Girl Galaxy” by Natalia TBA Bedrize (retouched by TBA) other than it is very, very good spin on the braindance-aissance and you should totally scope it….Rotterdam’s Frustrated Funk throws the gauntlet down with a fiery split from electro OGs E.R.P. and Duplex. In a world still recovering from December’s brainscrambling Afterimage LP, Gerard Hanson turns in a typically accomplished, noir-flavored partystarter with “ZRX” while the Dutch duo takes the BPM down on the nerdishly cosmic “Molecular (Ovatow Reclock)”….Run by Don't Be Afraid chief Semtek and Ben Morris, the Inta label has been quietly carving out a distinctive approach to 2-stepping electro and techno since setting up shop in 2016. The label’s latest comes from Bonka and trades in a post-lo-fi sound not unlike the blown-out electro of Leonardo Martelli. The Cement Block EP’s three tracks cleverly traverse motorik dance music on the hilariously named “Pootek,” Balearic EBM pacing on “whendialupbecameform,” and jammy, dubby vibes on “dosheepdreamofandroidelectrics”for a well-rounded and engaging listen. Solid stuff….Like his B12 partner in crime Steve Rutter whose BrainFog LP from last year was a definite highlight, Michael Golding has started to release new productions under his birth name. The unfuckable-with Delsin label gets the bragging rights by putting out his debut The Beginning EP. Marrying classic IDM tropes with nostalgic yet futuristic sonics, the record’s four tracks inimitably flit between cerebral cogitation and embodied ecstasy. Check it…STL is an absolute legend with a little-rivaled back catalog. After a 2018 that saw him drop a half-dozen twelves with half of them arriving on the fabulous Solar Phenomena label, Stephan Laubner has gotten his 2019 going in earnest by returning to Echocord for the Take Your Seats EP three-tracker and a #rare remix package for Dark Matters featuring a patiently psychedelic rework from Sebastian Mullaert alongside a sumptuously romantic deep house treatment by Wa Wu We….There is no shortage of young producers revivifying the forms of golden-era, breakscentric jungle and Bristol’s Western Lore label is at the forefront of 90s-facing genre science. Following that ravedelic album from Sonic back in March, Lore taps long-term dnb operator Coco Bryce for the Beats Like This EP, four tracks of vocal sampling, hands-in-the-air hardcore ebullition, which includes an ace collab with label head Dead Man’s Chest. Get to it….Dark techno overlord and Zhark Recordings boss Kareem always goes in deep—just give this gem from 1998 a listen—and he’s back with a stylistic sequel to 2013’s breathtaking Porto Ronco LP for The Death Of Rave via The Garden of Time’s two side-long journeys into neo-isolationism. Mad respect….I don’t know about you, but I’m utterly sick of records purporting to transport the listener to a producer’s “youth in the British rave scene.” Now, that said, if the tracks bang, well, who am I to bitch?! Spain’s HC Records has tapped Singularity Recordings boss and bona fide dance music doyen Voidloss for the Dominion EP. Built around the astrally euphoric title track and the broken big room thumps of “Imagination Dead Imagine,” both originally released on Singularity, the EP is backed with a stupendous “Truth In Your Eyes Version” of “Dominion” and slightly undercut by the rote breakbeats and EBM bass arps of “When You Remember That Feeling.” Solid….While so much of the neo-trance sound sends my eyes careening into the back of my skull, like anything else, there are bangers to be found and Alpha Tracks once again delivers the goods with four peaktime rave-ups on the Contract Labour EP for Blue Hour. Nothing groundbreaking, just well-made and thoughtful dance music. “Arise” is a fucking CHOON….Upstart producer Tred follows his promising Planet Perth —”To(Night)” is melancholy-tinted italo electro of the highest order, imo—by returning to the E-MISSIONS for Fragments Into Nothing. Adroitly injecting a healthy amount of ethereal energy into his depth-charging sound, the EP veers from ambient-informed euphoric electro on the title before lunging for the jugular on the immense “The Manitou,” closing with a driving EBM-adjacent Solid Blake remix of “Disconnected.” One to watch….The problem with so many contemporary Balearic strains is that most producers seem to lose sight of just how downright weird and experimental the sound was in its heyday as it took a sincerely post-genre approach to dance music decades before the omnivorous, kitchen-sink approach became the norm. Australian label Superconscious Records helps to Make Balearic Strange Again with the debut EP from Simone de Kunovich. Sporting Silver Apples synth squiggles, hand drum-flecked rhythmic chug, and saccharine chord progressions, Mondo Nuovo Vol 1’s five tracks showcase an emergent producer who understands that to successfully subvert the rules of dance music, one must actually learn them. Very promising….In other slo-mo, brainmelting dance music news, Haven co-chief Keepsakes drops four tracks of utter filth in the form of Modern Anxious Vernacular that deeply channel industrial and dark atmospherics without falling into parodic self-seriousness. Opener “Seep” is a triumphant death march atop Millsian arpeggiations while “State of It” sounds like a mildly euphoric big-room banger tripping on codeine. Keepsake’s track title game goes into overdrive on the EP’s second half, metallic tones coursing throughout “Hovel Of Scum” before “Selfies Are For The Weak” (YES!!) serves up a proper broken beatdown that’s as relentless as it is fierce. Pure wow….Existing in some type of liminal space between London and Machester, the ANA label emerged last fall with the loosely lysergic vibe of Beyaz’s debut Felt EP. Clearly possessing a hearty appetite for the tripped-out, the label has dropped its second catalog number with another unknown (to me, at least) producer with Gamba’s Hessian EP and it’s a corker. Calling to mind various strains of post-bass technoid music, but with a distinct dub techno influence, the title track sports a skipping beat and a painterly percussive sensibility while “Lesion” flits about on a Jerseyfied kick pattern and found sound textures. Riveting stuff….Hot on the heels of his stellar Drip EP for Arcola—of which there is a lovely review over at Hyponik, a rare sighting on the internet these days—Lukid revives his Refreshers alias to issue another love letter to UK jungle of the ‘93-’94 variety. Cracking…
I came across this piece in Current Affairs and just had to laugh, as I do whenever I read something where I think, “Oh, this is describing the past ten years of my life.” I worked in marketing for over a decade as a “creative” and eventually learned that such a line of work is living death for someone who is actually creative. Also, can’t not share the Dan Lyons piece that’s linked in the CA essay, especially if you’ve ever found yourself on the receiving end of Hubspot’s email marketing. So dark…..As someone who’s successfully used cannabis to treat my depression and anxiety for years while being ignorantly lectured by people who haven’t done their homework, this NYTimes Magazine article on CBD is a nice summary of why it’s taken people so long to open their eyes. I’ll be the first to say that cannabis is absolutely not for everyone, but for those it is for, it’s life-changing….Ryan Diduck wrote an entertaining and thoughtful critique of Moby’s synced-to-death 1999 album Play over at Fact that holds the producer accountable for helping to popularize the notion that “that techno is a cheap and trivial pastime for white men.” Like most music-cultural thinkpieces, its argument feels a bit overblown at times, but that said, it’s very much worth reading….Pitchfork’s Sunday ‘classic album’ reviews are a genuine delight and they’ve hosted a couple of exceptional reviews over the past few weeks. Philip Sherburne’s beautiful synopsis of Aphex Twin’s SAW II and Aimee Cliff’s social-historical analysis of the Spice Girls Spice are both must-reads….While I’ve never had much of a personal connection to the music of Holly Herndon, I really appreciate the fact that she thinks and massively enjoyed reading this recent Jezebel interview, particularly this sentiment: “If a system was trying to please my 16-year-old self forever I never would have developed the aesthetics I have today because my 16-year-old self wasn’t exposed to that much! You sometimes have to encounter things that make you uncomfortable or that you don’t understand in order to grow….we have to be able to go outside whatever the consumer expectation is.” Preach….This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been watching this decade’s various music-cultural drifts, but still a fascinating factoid to consider: The state of Michigan’s tourist agency has commissioned an ambient album entitled Pure Sounds of Michigan that features the likes of Windy & Carl and John Beltran alongside eight other artists. And honestly, the most shocking aspect of all this is that an American state is investing in its local musicians. Talk about revolutionary for the times….Lastly, a painfully on-point meditation on why freedom is more desirable than freedom by Tim Kreider.
Flora FM - Chaos Light EP (Kalahari Oyster Cult 2019)
Huh. Well, this is, like, realllllly good! Although Taylor Hawkins has only been releasing psylocibin house as Flora FM since last year, previously releasing a handful of records as Community Corporation, his is a name that has seemingly been on the tips of many a heady tongue over the past twelve months. And, it turns out, all with good reason. One of those records that would be overwhelming and impenetrable if it wasn’t so expertly executed, every second of Flora FM’s Chaos Light EP for Dutch label Kalahari Oyster Cult is bursting with a kaleidoscopic array of ideas. This is straight ADHD techno, if you will. The bar is set unrealistically high with opener “Hallucinogenic Worm (Wave Mix),” a deliriously upbeat barnburner that calls to mind Derrick May’s most brilliant moments, while also moving beyond his shadow with the inspired choice to drape muffled, incoherent vocals across the detailed beat. Maintaining the nonstop adrenaline rush of ideas is the “Watermelon Man”-referencing flutes of “Chrome Grass,” gaseous rave stabs engaging in an endless waltz to the death with Hawkins’ maniacal, relentlessly inspired drum programming before giving way to the requisite beatific breakdown. As this is a dance music EP released in 2019, the breaks come out in full force on “Storm Cleaned” to underpin a lowkey rude af hook and crying synth chords that are as uplifting as they are emotionally devastating. Where the rave sounds of Detroit and the UK reign supreme over Chaos Light’s first half, a particularly insatiable breed of Chicago house gets trotted out on the starry-eyed “Insist On You (Brain Mix)” before ratcheting up once more on the post-jacking rhythms of “Inc Stop.” I’m not sleeping on Hawkins’ output anymore, that’s for damn sure.
Batu - False Reeds (Timedance 2019)
Rhyw - Biggest Bully / Felt (Fever AM 2019)
Two of bleeding-edge dance music’s media ‘darlings’ continue to march to their own hyperfunctional drums via Timedance head Batu’s False Reeds EP and Fever AM cofounder Rhyw’s (Alex Tsiridis) Biggest Bully / Felt. Ever the coy-boy contrarian—and that’s 1000% a compliment, mind you—False Reeds sees Batu scaling down his tempos from the 150+ mania on the Rebuilt EP for XL and honing in on his sensually psychedelic approach. At this point, I find myself often combatting a weird form of dashed expectations when encountering a new release from Omar McMcutcheon and his fellow Timedance bredren, not unlike the sensation of having to adjust one’s eyes when taking in a particularly splendid slice of nature or, well, actual art. Of course, that disappointment is really just my brain catching up to all the ideas being dished out alongside reckoning with my own unknown biases. It’s the opposite of listening to Spotifycore and I live for it. OK, getting to the actual music at hand, the titular opening track saunters at a deep Detroit house pace and a soulful melodic minimalism that calls to mind Patrice Scott’s more astral brand of dance music, the pacing confident and the concepts cogent. Pushing ever-further into the pocket, “Satin (Dub)” exhibits a solemn playfulness that’s the right proportion of goofy and intentional with a one-drop rhythm that’s as hypnotic as it is charming. Perhaps it’s the comforting familiarity of the floating vocoder notes that open final track “Shiratani” or simply its patiently unfolding structure that’s vintage Batu, but whatever it is, the track is an absolute ripper and worth the full price of admission alone, broadcasting the young producer’s preternatural confidence and emotional vulnerability in 4K detail.
Moving onto the Fever AM label run by the prolific Tsidiris and the obscenely talented Mor Elian, the heavy press attention for the latter made the label a bit too easy to ignore given my active distrust of 90% of music journalists. Always stoked to admit when my gut instincts fail me, the label has already released an early favorite of 2019 via Gacha Bakradze’s velutinous Monument EP, following it up with the second release by Rhyw who takes the exaggerated triplets of ghettotech and footwork to dizzying extremes on the monstrous A-side cut “Big Bully.” Existing within the currently discontinuous zone of the nuum, the track’s intro recalls DJ Zinc’s “Dirty” informed by a healthy dose of Dopplereffekt before splicing the central vocal down to molecular proportions and stringing it into a skipping, spellbinding sequence of DAW-charged rhythm science. A uni big room banger in the best sense. Kicking off with an EBM rave rhythm and a cautious half-time lurch, “Felt” on the flipside is decidedly less showy, but no less essential in its looking back to post-dubstep’s rhythmic dexterity and echoic ecstasy while giving the sound an unmistakably 2019 sheen. Two top-shelf dispatches from a nexus of producers eschewing trendy low-hanging fruit in favor of playing a principled long game. Respect.
[Mouth drops open, hands clasp mouth] Holy cannoli, dudes. So, you know you’re a record nerd when you can distinguish between affected and real Boomkat mailer hyperbole. The Mancunian record store did us all a favor by calling attention to the quasi-anonymous, industrial/experimental Hamburg band Werkbund and whose stupefyingly inspired catalog seems, to these ears, like the missing link between Coil and Chain Reaction. The similarly shadowy Walter Ulbricht Schallfolien label has now repressed up the group’s 1997 double seven-inch Tanz Und Andacht and 2010’s Neue Rungholter Tänze. Both can be ordered via email on the label’s site. If you live for hearing the sonic approximation of the invisible natural reactions that make up reality, this is your shit. Nuff said.
It’s tempting to say, “There are no rules in dance music.” But that’s not exactly true. Rather, dance music has a lot of rules and one has to learn them, intimately, if they wish to subvert them meaningfully. It’s like throwing a molotov cocktail. Anyone can do it, but if you want to start a riot, you have to throw it with intention and burn down something important. For instance, take downtempo. In the sampledelic heyday of the nineties, hip-hop gave way to chill-out room headnodders, illbient’s blunted daydreams, and trip-hop’s morose dirges before getting rhythmically castrated/amputated by hotel lobbies and car commercials, becoming the preferred soundtrack of mindless urban professionals (and those who want to be them). It makes sense, then, that two of contemporary dance music’s most accomplished samplers would turn their attention to making downbeat tempos weird again with exceptional results: Flaty and Oleg Buyanov/OL. The last time we checked in with Muscovite producer Buyanov, he was basking in the glow of the wildly successful Перепад высот album for Gost Zvuk released under his birth name. Since then, he has issued a stout EP of stoney deep house brother for the Sakskøbing label last year alongside the Saigon Special Room seven-inch for the always essential Muscut label back in March. Meanwhile, his production brother from another mother has kept a slightly higher profile, releasing records under his Wrong Water and АЭМ Ритм-Каскад monikers for Gost Zvuk and Muscut in addition to a ten-inch for Gost Instrument and production work for Kedr Livanskiy’s Your Need album. Needless to say, these two princes of the modern dance have been busy af and now graced us with a long-awaited collaborative album as Serwed, not to mention the first OL album since 2016! Exciting stuff…let’s get into it.
Released on Buyanov’s newly-launched Asyncro label, Serwed opener “Initial” hip hops and boom baps its little tooshie across a low-gravity surface, serving as a stark reminder of how easily a downtempo rhythm can go from rote and mindless to lifelike and joyful. True to its title, “Titular” provides a stark yet dreamy IDM reboot to an overused 90s indie buzzword, its jazzy looseness and sonic open-mindedness neatly converging with its soporific and wide-eyed narrative arc. A smartly swinging drill’n’bass-referencing bump initiates the captivating “Ceramic,” its circular motion recalling the joys of spacing out while staring at a potter’s wheel and listening to samba. The instructively adjectival titles continue to taste as advertise on the brightly trembling Dreyblatt-esque strings and salsa rhythms of “Radiant,” which sequences perfectly into the halcyon harmonics of “Ground.” Considering just how accomplished either producer is at 4x4 dynamics, a steady kick doesn’t appear until the start of the album’s third act via the delectably spaced-out “Linear,” nicely setting the stage for the post-motorik freak-out of “Bias.” For such a sublimely experimental album, the jagged rhythms and subdued chaos of “Rrand” is a fitting closure, showing two producers who excel at articulating an intimate and personal approach to dance music conventions while carving out their own unique coordinates on the map.
On Dismeteo, issued by the super solid Motion Ward label, the first thing that will likely strike a hardcore fan of Перепад высот during the swampy slog of opening pair “Purant Chaos Voices” and “Realm” is that Buyanov’s samples seem to all be melting into one another, the resulting picture looking much more smudged and abstract. The Latinx-adjacent rhythms underpinning each track lends the album’s opening moments an amorphous indistinctness that is perhaps a bit challenging at first blush. But there’s a method to the madness. Call it ‘getting into the groove’ because things become clearer over the seven minutes of structured anarchy and mindful hypnosis that is early highlight “Morph 21,” which forgoes the orderly metropolitan rhythms of his earlier work in favor of something much more organic and environmental. Employing a similarly syrupy, slowed-down brand of whirled music as Serwed’s “Ceramic,” “Mt Sonix” pushes deeper yet into the amniotic depths of the producer’s sound world while going in on the album’s general heads-down mentality on the stepping, squiggly “Hive Mind.” As a fractal approach to sampling and production courses throughout Dismeteo, there’s a sense of the producer almost collapsing under the weight of his ideas on the top-heavy and fractured 2-step of “Shatter Dub,” but every time the listener starts to feel overwhelmed, Buyanov pulls back on the close-ups to reveal an eye permanently trained on the bigger picture. The album ends with the after-dessert mint that is “Rep Air,” two minutes of media/um-textured tonal drift that captures the producer’s fascination with the intersection “where correct geometry and mathematical constructions meet with organic forms.” Momentous efforts all around [applause].
Chafik Chennouf & Katsunori Sawa - Fragments of Reference (The Stone Tapes 2019)
4 6 2 5 - 002 (4 6 2 5 2019)
When it comes to a post-genre music world, what is the difference between inspiration and pastiche? Sometimes the problem seems to be that for a lot of musicians and producers, the post-genre approach is tantamount to fast casual’s illusion of choice. Pick any three ingredients, but only three! Four is extra! In a decade that has seen hope sabotaged by the human condition and reality platformed into premium mediocrity, the promise of music after genre has given way to the MCU-ification of electronic music. We’re told adherence to canon is everything and that there is some type of freedom in a world of curated mix-and-match, which itself is a type of soft fascism that Antifa is oblivious to (amongst so much else). And yet, there was a real promise in this digital dark age in which we find ourselves, but it required a humility and vulnerability lacking by those who code the rules. Group polarization is for real, y’all.
In an age of willful deafness and prideful anti-intellectualism, Ruffhouse and Gremlinz’s UVB-76 label family serves as a potent reminder of the world-creating power of curation and the way a distinct voice can be made by a polyphony of creative voices. Yeah, I’m getting a bit hamfisted here, but when so much contemporary art seems to be lacking any actual agency, I’ve got to celebrate those individuals getting the damn thing done. To me, the label represents pure difference and repetition and the beauty of ingesting a thousand different shades of grey. Detached out of necessity but certainly not apathetic.
Having released on Voidance Records and Opal Tapes Chafik Chennouf and Katsunori Sawa author catalog number two for sublabel The Stone Tapes with Fragments of Reference’s four pieces of “deeply unnatural sound.” A rattling, rhythmic foley sound meets a quietly ferocious bass growl on opening meditation “False Paradigm,” the cast of moving parts resembling a tensely improvised radio play. On “Growth of Inequality,” the cautious kick pattern and vaguely acidic bass ripple patiently build a phantom framework that is pierced by a deeply reverb-soaked clank ” crafting an indelibly dubby groove in the process. Clearly possessing an unrivaled ear for sounds, the loose groove of “The Jonah Complex” is heightened by a brief sleigh bell cameo in the song’s final minute that disappears as quickly as it emerges, extinguished by the sound of rain on the roof. Orchestrated feline growls are quickly punctuated by an 808 Mafia-styled voice intoning “trap music” before being run through the plunderphonic playbook on closing composition “Heat Death,” a bed of lovingly rendered bass tones ebbing and flowing through a hauntingly detailed memory trip.
Meanwhile, following on from last year’s post-dnb state of the union 4625-001, the shadowy collective comprised of UVB-76’s core players known as 4 6 2 5 return to their eponymous sublabel with 002, containing two tracks of organic breakbeats and sinister sonics. “Sedition” on the A-side takes the clear-cut liquid dnb rhythmics and soaks them in layers of droning atmospherics while “Crown of Nails” steals the show with a bombastic martial depth-charge that is equal parts disciplined and unhinged. Top-shelf, grey-scale techno/dnb atmospherics.
Diasiva - Thirst (Instruments Of Discipline 2019)
Although EDM (somehow) is the place where most listeners will have encountered DSP synthesis in its most superficial form—but hey, at least they’re encountering it!!—its textured nuances sit at the forefront of much of the most accomplished contemporary dance music releases. And I’ll be first to admit that I really know very little about DSP technology, but can always spots its nuanced textures and constant movement a mile off. Anyway, with an MO centered around “a love for obscene, high-octane sound and ten-tonne sub”—sup?!—Diasive is the duo of Monolog and Swarm Intelligence, two producers who excel at exacerbating extremes. Their latest EP, the bone-rattling Thirst, is representative of a new breed of industrial-minded producers who also seem to recognize how mind-numbingly dull most industrial techno is, in turn holding onto the greyscale atmospherics while operating at the rhythmic and conceptual fringes. Channeling the shattered rhythms embraced by the likes of Fret, Kerridge, and many others, opener “Pimeosons” rides atop an aslant, post-halftime beat and menacing distortion, a charming carnivalesque melody emerging from the track’s upper register in its ear-catching final moment. Aggressively digging in their dub-loving heels, the maniacal downbeat underwriting “Meson” opens up considerable sonic space for the duo to chase their imaginations within, unleashing one noise-addled hook after another in an apparent attempt to blow up the dance floor. The ghost of breakcore continues to rear its head across the 90/180 axis on the Mandelbrotian rhythms of “Vapor Consruct” before Diasiva indulge their inner junglists on the shoulder-shuffling halftime strut of“Debris.” More, please!