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.