Ghostly International maintains excellent taste, signing on the Brooklyn duo, Thomas Mullarney and Jacob Gossett, known together as Beacon. The Ways We Separate is a great debut, an airy set of tracks that incorporate hip hop, R&B, IDM, and electro-pop elements. Thomas Mullarney’s vocals are present for almost every track, which was initially disconcerting. However, vox is mixed reasonably well— never overpowering though sometimes just a tad too saccharine. One thing I particularly enjoy is the general feel that Beacon have created an album, not a collection of pseudo-electropop tracks. There is a give/take to this however, with some of the later tracks feeling like auxiliary filler, ideas not fully formed. This doesn’t do the group any favors when the album time is already a mere 35mins. Perhaps that’s just enough time to get Beacon’s sound, but not enough for it to become tedious. In any case this will be a tough album to one-up for the duo, interesting work. RECOMMENDED: 1!, 3, 4, 5!, 6+7(paired), 10! CLEAN
The late 00’s have seen a resurgence of acoustic+electronic idm/techno, with a new set of machines at a producer’s disposal. Andi Otto is the mind behind Springintgut, using his “electronically-augmented” cello, or “Fello” to create a solid swath of eastern influenced downtempo. The results are bizarre and genre-setting if not gorgeous. While the album is first mainly acoustic (modified acoustic, that is), Otto breaks out a great deal of percussion later for some pseudo-break patterns (see Moustache Twisters (4)). Based on Otto’s style, I’m almost certain he is classically adept, which leaks perfectly into his composition. The overall tone of the album jumps from upbeat to drone/downtempo in the span of 2-3 tracks. Heavier synth is an occasional addition as well (7-Banalore Kids) for more techno-influenced tracks. I am thrilled at how well Otto’s fello mixes, something that is a constant challenge for electro-acoustic. I would only critique Otto for his lack of focus; he skids over too many sub-genres to fully develop his unique work, at times blurring his album’s focus. Very interesting artist, and I’m frankly blown away at the originality.
Ed Banger decides that after two years, Breakbot’s 2011 album should go back for adds. Not a terrible thing, especially when the label hasn’t been releasing much else as of late. It isn’t difficult to guess Breakbot is French house with a severe helping of disco (and an occasional smattering of piano ballads here and there). What separates Breakbot from labelmates however is his mastering. Very pop influenced, lacking any of the sharp features found with Mr. Oizo, Krazybaldhead, and SebAstian. I’m not a big fan of this style, but the talent is apparent. Might be a fun addition for FDDF. My recommendations would include Break of Dawn (1) (which can act as an intro for track 2), By Your Side Pt. 2 (5), which is far better than the sappy ballad that is the 1st part, Programme (8) (largely due to the lack of vox), Intersection (14) (ditto), and Track 15 (Far better built that most of the other instrumentals on the album). Heavily Saccharine, dilute generously.
While an old release, it’s absolutely ridiculous that this album hasn’t found itself in our RPM section yet. Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai), best known for his album Xerrox Vol.1, moved to Berlin to found the label Raster-Norton in the early 00’s. Since then, his music has been pulling more from glitch, not unlike the progression Richard Devine has been taking. But Noto is certainly not of the same ilk as aritsts such as Xanocopticon, never venturing too far from 128bpm. You won’t find any ambient work on this album either, separating him from Devine. The synth work is very scratchy and brash, devoid of most humanity. There is one track (Uni Acronym, 8) which features Anne-James Chaton for vox, but even then the lyrics are given pretty despondently. This arid soundscape reflects a bleak technocratic future, and it’s quite the trip.
Hailing from Berlin on the 50 Weapons label, Cosmin Nicolae has already made quite a name for himself, first starting out as simply TRG on Hessle Audio. His music is odd to describe; it certainly refects on both Detriot classicism while still fitting reasonably well with the IDM community. His music is a bit of a blend of both, separating him from labelmates such as Benjamin Damage who make IDM and Techno, but never an amalgam. Erie, methodical, and experimental techno is what Gordian consists of, and it’s a stellar trip. A lot of his synth work either pulls from 90’s Warp or Brainfeeder specifically, though it really can be all over the board at times. In the spirit of the genre, Cosmin TRG has released an album equally both parts armchair and dance floor, with 7, 1, 4, 5, 8 the latter and 6, 2, 3, 9, 10, 11 the former.
Jennifer Marquart is [n.], owner of the cae-sur-a label. [n.]’s work is dark ambient with a heavy leaning to classical. Tracks are remarkably short for this type of work, with the longest track being less than 6 minutes. Side a of the original LP features a four part ambient/drone piece incorporating other-worldly choirs and samples. Side b features most eastern string work, though retaining the same wall of drone present on the first side. While all of this music is interesting and certainly worthwhile for airtime, I feel that a lot of the tracks could have been embellished upon; the album feels too much like a sampler rather than a cohesive work. For example, part 4 of side a feels like an afterthought than the piece’s true ending. Interesting stuff nonetheless, just not nearly memorable enough.
Colonge based electro-pop duo COMA release a very well-produced multi-genre album. Not the most original album, but that isn’t too terrible a sin for an electro-pop group. Tracks flow relatively well throughout the list, and there are certainly some keepers. Track 1 works very well as an opener; a catchy, but standard house track. Track 2 introduces some funk and vox, even a brass section. Lyrics are creepy however (About some woman in a red jacket that the singer wants to get with), but not indecent. 3 is a ‘clap track’ with some fun electro bits. 4 is a bit more indie-electro; great prod. value I suppose. 5 uses more tribal percussion and pulls a great deal from soul and funk. 6 is a floppy attempt at IDM (I guess), but a lot better than everything off that shitty comp by BPitch that I gave up reviewing. 7 sounds like MOSH if his sampling pallet was a tad lighter; frantic driving line. 8 is straight-up electro-pop; stupid fun. 9 is an ambient intro turned house filler that continues to build all the way through. If the entire album was like 10 (maximal MINIMAL), I would be thrilled. Very syncopated house that builds ingenuously. 11 is lofi radio/ambient filler with some dainty middle-school level scale stuff. Does its job as an intro for 12 really nicely though, which is a solid outro. No vox (I couldn’t be happier) and in general just a cute feel-good house track. Same vibe as Strobe. Good stuff COMA, but you should have stepped it up a couple of notches.
Maurizo and Reborto Opalio rerelease Ascends The Sky under a different label. Their work, recorded live on November 19th 2005 cin Italy with no outtakes, pulls a lot from drone, dark ambient, and isolationism. An assortment of electric and acoustic guitars along with various “space toys” and “sky percussion” make their appearance quite frequently across the album’s three ~20 minute tracks. Ramona Ponzoni additional plays the Japanese wind chimes on track 1. An interesting theme is that the sparse vocal work found scattered across each track pulls many of its lyrics from Willian Blake’s poem “To Morning.” Track 1 is considered “Meditations on ‘Ascends the Sky’” while tracks 2&3 are “Ascends the Sky parts 1 and 2” respectively if you’re looking for track titles. Track 1 is the most instrumentally diverse on the album and seems to say more than the other two tracks do; chimes and acoustic muck around over a banner of drone until the backdrop eats them alive. Track 2 starts with a bit of cushy acoustic work that slowly becomes more and more ominous with the addition of drone. Track 3 builds into some great acoustic melodies mixed with Roberto screaming “ascends the sky” before reverbed frantic bamboo fretting overtakes him.
RECOMMENDED: ALL, 1!
Couldn't find a link on youtube, but I found another track that sums the group up fairly well.
The Brooklyn based artist Nat Hawks releases his fourth album to date with Burnt Offerings, a great big drone muddling of acoustic guitar, synthwork, and a bit of electric violin-- not mentioning a truckload of sampling. Ddiigduuggg starts of the album with a four minute unhealthy dose of high pitched drone before finally breaking into a reasonable accompanying acoustic melody. Interesting approach, and pretty we all said and done, but it will certainly annoy listeners a great deal. Canopic Fog is ambient mixed with distorted piano and audio recordings, which again takes a while to pick up but is gorgeous once it does. Just watch the ending as it does not fade out in the slightest. Pelts starts off with an acoustic guitar trio that eventually picks up some whirlwind field recording of some sort. Never Let Me Go is by far the most melodic and rather ridiculous at times with the electric violin and synth that near ruins an otherwise the decent track. Shoeg starts with the acoustic picks up the electric violin and then puts a mess of distorted radio signals into the mix, one of which is running in reverse. Never Let Me Go (reprise) is another take on the melody of track four, and by another take I mean Hawks just f-ed it up more. It then jumps into this really pretty ambient to industrial piece that has little to do with the original. Best thing on the album. Green Plastic Prism (G.P.P) is the creepiest and most experimental of the tracks and provides a wonderful contrast to the adjacent track. It jumps all over the place, but comes out of the clouds in the end.
James Buttery, Aiden Whalley, and James Young are the trio behind Darkstar, a new age/electro-indie group from West Yorkshire. At first, I wanted nothing to do with this album as soon as I heard how pervasive the perversely saccharine vocals were across almost every track. For those who love indie, “those” referring to a group sans myself, the vocal work shows a considerable amount of talent, especially with all the various modulations distinct to almost each track. Personally, I think that this is an album that should have stayed instrumental. Its tracks like “A Day’s Pay for A Day’s Work” that infuriatingly making my point: Gorgeous synth and piano work over a reasonable structure that all manages to die at the hand of cringe-inducing vox. People will disagree with me, which is great because this trio’s production skills deserve a bit of payoff. If anything, Darkstar will appeal to Animal Collective fans.
Composers Guiseppe Ielasi and Kassel Jaeger collaborate to produce two drone/ambient pieces, both clocking just over the 18minute mark. Melodically speaking, both tracks are none too friendly, heavily turning towards more isolationist and industrial notions that openly reek of unnerving samples. There is a set of movements to be found in each piece. Parallel begins in a dirge of war horn drone. At ~ 6:10min, our floor drops out and we are left with a minimal, two note, half step piano line, introducing a cacophony of electric muddle out of nowhere. This slowly settles into an oddly metered typewriter rhythm at beginning around the 9min mark. Our piano line from 6min makes an additional rendezvous over the squeals of an electric pig bubbling in some lo-fi stew. At 14:20, we are introduced to Eastern drone with the only percussion being the skittering of tin and sounds of gun fire in the distance. And that’s just Parallel. Grayscale begins far softer with a seaside of crusty metal that slowly introduces a pinging, give and take melody standing out from a sea of distorted strings. Around 5:20, things become more sinister, unsure. Around the 6:30 mark I swear I hear what sounds like a really muddled swing tune, low-filtered. 7:47 begins a section that leaves a cavern space to be filled with a melody very reminiscent of either Triosk or Jan Jelenik. The 12min mark relieves the percussive ticking, and the work pushes into something Biosphere might have produced. A solid trip through sound. Recommended: ALL CLEAN
Unfortunately, I couldn't find either of the tracks, but here is another piece by Giuseppe
Deutschmann has put out a number 12-inches dating back to 2007 on labels like Polytone Recordings, Aim and Konsequenz. In this time he's developed a reputation as a somewhat under-the-radar purveyor of heavy yet atmospheric house and techno, both in his productions and DJ sets. Most of his work doesn’t stray too far from that descriptor, with Out of the Dark quickly jumping between roots at an unhurried and erudite rate. Tracks and melodies do not maintain composure for very long, and the build is something Deutschmann is known for. One track that certainly showcases this would be “siem reap 2013,” a bolstering rave inducer with a thrilleresque melody. His work can sometimes move into the realm of IDM (“die tiefe”) but it is only for several tracks or so, quickly returning to the producers more well-known roots. Deutcshmann’s synthwork is also something to be admired, best seen on tracks like “Space Desert”, “They bleed guitar”, “Fever”, “New World Order”, and “Sadness Descends.” Oliver’s work isn’t groundbreaking, but it is very well produced and easily speaks for the breadth of his german techno repertoire. Recommended: 5!, 6!, 1!, 7!, 2, 3, 4, 10, 9 CLEAN
Another debut album for the stacks from Irish Producer Mano Le Tough, who previously made a fantastic EP on the Internasjonal label. His style could be considered atmospheric house/modern disco, but the producer obviously pulls from a great number of sub-genres and producers. Lines are very complex for your typical dance-album, one that should appeal to club and pop-trained ears alike. The album incorporates a number of layers of tuned percussion, snatches of guitar, and emotionally naked vocals churning reasonably on top of unmistakable house. Mannion isn't a technically gifted singer, but he does a fairly reasonable job remedying this by modulating his voice a great deal for several tracks. It doesn’t fix the problem, as Mannion would probably do better just by leaving his voice out of the equation. One would then argue that Mannion’s goal of creating a house/pop hybrid wouldn’t be realized, so we’ll stick through them even when they run the risk of turning rather sour. The last few tracks certainly feel a bit more like filler than the first, but I commend Mano’s efforts on an interesting approach to a dance album. Recommended: 3, 1, 4, 5, 7, 2
Cracktime is the fifth release by Dalessandro, a mammoth in the Chicago-style scene. And with all the German techno currently ruling the coop at the Kompakt label, a dash of American house is unquestionably a healthy hiatus. That being said, his labelmates have certainly left their mark on Dalessandro’s style, with melodies that branch into more minimal than is expected of his genre. A bit of dub, 303, and acid are also present here and there, blending genre lines even further. Vox isn’t always present, but when it is, it can be slightly suggestive, but never explicit. My personal favorites would include the acid influenced tracks “La Deux”, “Here Comes The Bankster” “Urban Decay”, and “It’s Not Your World” as well as the dub of “Hypersleep” and the minimal atmosphere of “Sirens of Titan.” “Barnacles Pt. 2” acts merely as an intro for “La Deux” so use it as such if you see fit. All in all, a great genre-compiler of an album that has its shining moments. Recommended: 2, 8, 11, 10, 12, 13, 9, 4, 5, 6 CLEAN
The argument for the parameters of techno is an unwinnable one, especially when you have the brother duo Wolfgang and Reinhard Voigt pushing the same boundaries they had a hand in setting. "The Magical World of Others" or Die zauberhafte Welt der Anderen is a humorous and unsettling journey into experimental techno, or something of that ilk. There is no neutrality to this sound, you will either enjoy their odd brand or will pass it off as pretentious. Their sizable section of samples seems to illustrate a story of sorts, one that probably exists only in the heads of its creators. Stylistically, the album incorporates a few breathers, including the electronic smooth jazz “Sozial”, the Eastern drone “Akira”, the Old EBM style of "Triplychon Nummer 7," or the haunted bass/bell crawl of “Die Glocke (Endstation Wiener Platz).” “Intro Konig” is a brilliantly bizarre ambient piece that acts as the intro to the album and can easily stand on its own two feet. Unfortunately for these two, I felt their individual catalogs are more immersive than their collaborative work. Instead of augmenting each other’s style, I feel as though they slightly detract from one other. It is a wonderful attempt and a reasonable introduction to the rest of their sound if you’re interested.
Father Murphy is actually the name of the Italian trio comprised of Reverend Freddie (vocals, guitar), Chiara Lee (vocals, keyboards, percussion) and Vittorio De Marin (vocals, drums, strings). Stinging strings, lo-fi bit crush, crazed vocals, religious-foreboding, and a base of dark ambient/industrial make Anyway Your Children Will Deny It – 8 Heretical Views a ridiculous 8 track journey. This is actually a reworked version of the original album, with remixes by Happy New Year, W.H.I.T.E, Zulus, Thulebasen, Yvette, Noel V. Harmonson/ Sic Alps, Black Dice & Ema Greg. Saunier’s (of Deerhoof) production assistance was a solid benefit to the dark and frantic tone of the original, and his work still shines through in this release. The band recorded a structure and Saunier mixed a fine veneer of psychedelic drone for each track. Oddly enough, Father Murphy tagged the two tracks from Two Views (a single that is part of a remix series) to the top of the album, bringing the tracklist up to 10. This portion features Indian Jewelry’s reworking of "His Face Showed No Distortions", and Philippe Petit’s mix of "Diggin the Bottom of the Hollow”. Both are fantastic.
RECOMMENDED: ALL 1!, 2!, 3, 5!, 6, 7!
Two of the contributing artists. Unfortunately, no such luck finding any tracks from the reworked album itself on youtube.
Damage is an odd breed of electronic; his samples and progression for many of his tracks would have him fit right into UK IDM, but there’s always a track or two that breathes 50Weapons, Modeselektor’s rapidly rising German techno label. And damn, this guy can juggle those titles effortlessly. Heliosphere is Damage’s second album to date, with a sizable two year gap filled with mostly collaborative work and the occasional dancefloor single (Swarm, track 9). As much as I would like to disagree, his being compared to Black Dog Productions isn’t entirely unwarranted. Ridiculously reminiscent of the 90’s; semi-revitalized, not preachy-nostalgia. His sampling pallet is all his own for the most part, which is surprising for a 50Weapons artist. I could go on. I won’t, but damn this shit is awesome. For IDM, hit up 1, 5, 6, 8, and 10. For techno 2, 3, 4, 7, 9. Easily my favorite release this year.
Black Beauty is the second album released by Metope off of his own label. Similar in sound in comparison to Kobol, Black Beauty is a mix of house, minimal, and techno that jump around into a series of various dance floor moods. Plenty of leftfield fodder to be found. Arrangements are surprisingly complex melodically for the house genre. Contributing to this catchy monster are Sid LeRock, Undo, Stiggsen, and K_Chico. “No Self-Control”, “Deep Sheep”, and “Alive” are the darker tracks on the album while tracks such as “So Cutoff” and “Rough Romance” pay homage to soul and blues. While tracks are technically interesting, it pains me to say that I don’t feel that this album is experimenting with any new sounds, instead rather embellishing on well paved musical ground. Perhaps that’s not a terrible sin for a dance album, but it does mean that Metope’s work can be largely overlooked without missing too much. A shame really for such a well-produced album. I enjoyed it nonetheless however.
RECOMMENDED: 1!, 4, 5!, 7!, 9, 10!
Eric Lanham’s first album under his own name, having been previously playing under aliases such as Carl Calm, Palmetto Moon Electronic Group, and part of the duo Caboladies. The album was commissioned back in summer 2011 and was finally recorded in March 2012. Unlike some musique concrete where one is consistently wondering whether the composer truly spent that much time manipulating his collection of noise he announces as “tracks,” Lanham’s work very obviously from the start reflects a good deal of dedication and precision. Tracks range from haphazard monsters spewing rhythms and lines at the listener without care to cloudy analog melodies that occasionally break through the noise. Side A starts with Handling Noise, a perfect opener with some neat dark ambient influences, crackling and corrupting into the first true track. A2 is heavily jazz influenced; a lone synth just strutting along in a cave of reverb. A3 is the title track and a true cacophony of noise. All with a ~180bpm that never loses focus despite the ridiculous rhythms and ideas being thrown this way and that into a tornado. Really, really cool. A4 sounds like a lamenting machine, with considerable drone influences. A5 is gabber for industrial concrete lovers. Side B starts with Amer Jos, a track that sounds like similar to the Sci-Fi computer noises used in 80’s cartoons, noises that would suggest calculations being checks and measurements beings obtained. B2 is almost industrial, with the static lo-fi so precise at times that its individual jabs constitute a rhythm that Junglists would feel right at home with. B3 clears up the mess with a solid melody that really indeed is quite pretty; nostalgic even. One of my favorites off the album but at a solid 8’16 it’s also the longest. B4 ends the album with another track sure to melt Aaron Funk’s face clean off. Extremely precise and angry, it’s not for the faint of heart or the casual listener. SUGGESTED: ALL!! A2!, A3!, A5!, B2!, B3!!, B4!! CLEAN
Olan Mill is actually a group comprised of Alex Smalley and Svitlana Samoylenko, who have released two other albums collectively to date; Pine (2010) and Paths (2012). The arrangement was predominantly Smalley’s work this time around, who is also featured on the album for his guitar and field recordings. Genre-wise, this is ambient with classical roots; and it is absolutely gorgeous. Each track is its own ethereal field, blending so solidly into one another that it’s hard to discern tracks unless you’re following the timer. Violins, operatic vocals, flutes, and even a pipe organ work their way in and out of a wall of sound that Smalley provides. Track 1 (La Senda Verde), begins the meditative journey by starting listeners out in a tunnel, where various work and machinery are soon lost in steam and finally a lo-fi bitcrush. The latter might as well be the sound of death, because the next 33 minutes afterwards feels like Smalley’s interpretation of the afterlife. I cannot praise this album enough. RECOMMENDED: ALL!!! CLEAN
Kane Ikin is one member of the group known as Solo Andata. His solo work is very raw in comparison to his other project, with Sublunar not following proper recording techniques, keeping tape hisses and warped noises to go for, as he puts it, “Quality of the sound, over quality of the sound.” His work is largely downtempo/ambient with a strong adherence to musique concrete as well as experimental jazz. White-washed and filtered melodies move around a haphazard collection of percussion and noise. Tracks don’t stick out, but rather just meld into one another in an easy movement, making Sublunar relaxing, but not sleep-inducing. A nice cohesion of west and east percussion, especially with “Titan” (6). Some tracks that particularly wigged me out would include “Europa” (ethereal/brooding melody over ~ UK dubstep), “Slow Waves” for a neat build from nothing to a slow walk with plucked strings and tape hiss), and “Hyperion” (More industrial ambient that ends with a deep archaic sound). I loved most if not all of this album and would also recommend playing some of the shorter tracks back to back. SUGGESTED: ALL
The IDM pioneer duo is back with their 10th album, WOW, a ridiculous conglomerate of various EDM styles and ideas all meshed under some bizarre screams and shouts by Dao Anh Khanh, Las Kellies, and Eric D. Clarke. Sampling is not quite as good as their other albums, but that says nothing when comparing them to the stock sample exchange that is most EDM. Tracks transition beautifully, build abruptly , and are mostly dance floor worthy; that is, if your passengers on deck are flexible and interesting enough folks. But hell, its a idm group taking a shot at standard EDM of all forms and flavors. What did you expect? UK Dubstep, Fidget, Techno, and IDM blends are all featured on this album, along with a number of transition tracks filled with noise and verbal spewage. The latter make for some great entrances into their subsequent tracks, so by all means pair some of this fantastic junk together! Oh, and the general theme is “three letters,” in case the tracklisting wasn’t apparent. My pickings would include DOG (2), HYM (3), VAX (4), ACD (7), and CAN(9) (which is the only thing that could possibly represent their old work to a degree). RECOMMENDED: ALL