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.