Posts Tagged ‘Electronic’

Rabit

If Communion was producer Eric C. Burton’s real introduction to the world (despite several notable EPs preceding it) then Les Fleurs Du Mal is his grand gesture – an album that cements his stature among those who’d look to move the needle forward to the point of stress. The album embraces much more than Communion‘s stark atmospheres and crumbling visions of an organism eating itself from the inside out. Here, he’s let in air and light and allows them to dance around in the carcass of the beast he’s made his home, then steadily closes out through a process of aural disintegration.

The album is on a larger scale, with sonic debris littering the gritty world he’s built. It’s an album that’s frightening at moments, with heft that can be felt ricocheting through the marrow of the listener if administered through headphones. He’s an adept builder of tone, so when he turns from the airy, sunlit alleys of his opening tracks to the bombstruck nights of “Ontological Graffiti” and “Dogsblood Redemption,” the panic that sets in is real and visceral. He continues through the album like a refugee of sound in a world devoid of hope, picking at the scattered static images of our self-crowned utopia for sustenance. The record feels like a judgement, a montage of hate and hope beamed through to an alien race that speaks only in terms of atmospheric pressure on the skull.

It’s easy to see how Burton’s star has risen (he did just get off a turn working with Björk) as he’s a master of environments and doesn’t feel tethered to the notions of an album’s flow as dictated by beats, pop aesthetics, or accessibility. He’s a producer who’s working art into electronics and vice vesa. What he’s wrought here is probably one of the best futurist visions of the last few years. It’s an album that would work as orchestral doctrine in a world that’s given up on organic instruments. It is a record built for the the scavengers of the scrap heap of our modern times. When we all reach that bleak ecological break that’s been promised, this is the soundtrack that’s going to be in the headphones of the next generation.




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Gökçen Kaynatan – S/T

I’d trust Finders Keepers to get me briefed on anything from the glory days of Turkish psych. The label has already proven their mettle with releases from Selda Bagcan, Gençlik Ile Elele and Ersen and they seem to have a conduit that few Westerners are plugged into. They continue the riffling of the past with a reissue of the compiled works of Gökçen Kaynatan. Already a burgeoning part of the Anatolian rock scene and a builder of custom instruments, he was a pioneer of introducing electronics into the folds of Turkish pop.

His discography spanned just four singles, but with access to a private studio filled with technological wonders of the time he pushed psych-pop out of its fuzz-laden lair and into much weirder and wilder territory than before. There were certainly others doing similar work across Germany and eventually the US and UK, but Kaynatan gives it that touch of Anatolian flair that’s endeared the likes of Barış Manço and Erkin Koray to me over the years. The songs slink with a strange funk and reach for something intangibly cool. Following this work, Kaynatan began a career that would see him shape the sound of programs on Turkish National channel TRT 1. Somehow its not surprising that this auteur wound up in Library compositions as there’s definitely a feeling of that ilk pressed between these nine gems.




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Snapped Ankles

OK, lets just start it out by saying that the “hold a mirror up to us,” Shakespeare-embroiled marketing around this album is a bit heavy handed. Snapped ankles aren’t going to shift your perception on life and bring out the Sun King in all of us. However the album is cherry picking from a great gob of rhythmic-forward electronic, dance and pop music from the last forty-odd years and doing a lot of it quite well. Frog-hopping time and genres from Gary Numan-robopop though Clinic’s reinterpretation of German Progressive ideals then spinning ’round and incorporating a good deal of the bombast that fueled The Chemical Brothers’ vocal-heavy entries – the record is seemingly stuffed but cribbing from a lot of common elements. What those artists sliced like sonic cutlets from the ’70s (or in Numan’s case, just invented) Snapped Ankles rake into the pot for a full press ante on wonky lock-step pop.

So, yeah while they aren’t the first to plow the lane, they’re still widening it just fine. The back to back double kick of “I Want My Minutes Back” and “Jonny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin” are the crest of the album, rolling all their appropriations together, and as I’ve previously mentioned, emulating the aforementioned Numan better than many who’ve knelt at the altar. The rest of the record doesn’t shake out too shabby either. The band is working well in the redline, pushing ecstatic pop that’s looking to jump out of the skin and live in the electrons bouncing untethered in the air around us all. They know how to work the squelch into a hook and wrangle atmospheres over a motorik grind. So, yes while I’m going to call the band out on whatever’s happening in this picture, the record stacks up just fine for all your high-volume hi-jinks needs.




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Teresa Winter

On her sophomore album, Teresa Winter calms down her rhythmic impulses to explore deep introverted caves of sublime atmospheric amble. We are at once trapped, cocooned, holed up inside an echo chamber of thought and sinew. Shut out from the world but glowing with a crystalline green pulse that’s entirely organic, yet seemingly otherworldly, the album is frothing with sounds that are wet and humid. At first blush this would seem to suggest that the metamorphosis is real and brought about by purely natural means. But wander further and there are also mechanical creaks, clicks and crackles that suggest that we’re not at all entombed of our own volition, or without the help of sinister outside forces.

As the flora on the cover might suggest, though, this is an album of self-reflection and well-inclined to the kind of psilocybic experiences that offer up deep dives into the mirror of consciousness. Winter eases us in with the opener, “Oh,” before dropping the ground out from under the listener entirely with each progressive track. It’s not until we reach “Anatomie De Lenfer” that it seems the eardrums pop and with a gasp of breath the room begins to take shape once more. She surrounds the listener with voices. Whose voices? Are they talking to us? About us? The closing track springs back to life and light. The experience behind us. No cocoon, no abrupt descent into the ground. Just, it appears, chemicals working their magic on the brain. The final track crackles with an almost sunny electricity that leaves the previous isolation as not terrifying, but maybe just the respite we listeners needed all along.




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Belief Defect

Sometimes you gotta embrace the dark. That’s the beauty in Belief Defect’s debut LP, Decadent Yet Depraved – its a bottom scraping, fear-chomping ride through the bowels of industrial darkness that embraces, not deflects the most horrific impulses of human existence. The album is purportedly backed by two larger names in electronic music, though they choose to remain redacted with regards to Belief Defect’s origin story. However, anonymity doesn’t mar or mangle the effect that the resulting ten tracks have on the human psyche. This is a listen with the lights on LP that’s cinematic in a vein that some of the best synth slingers are still striving for. Put it this way, if Belief Defect were soundtracking Stranger Things rather than S U R V I V E, those kids would have all been eaten a long time ago.

Still, for all its bracing tendencies, Decadent… is a hypnotic listen, embracing dub caverns like a second home and skittering beats like ball bearings along the eardrums. Whoever is behind this is, in fact, well trained and up to the task at hand. The beats crunch with a bone snap that’s been scant since Ol’ Trenty Rez went high ground and started soundtracking Burns docs and Oscar flicks. The core scent of Belief Defect is wounded blood on the horizon with dawn breaking hours away. There’s panic and a icy grip that’s not far off from tidal breath catching up to overrun your fight or flight mechanisms. Be warned, this on is not for those whose teeth are not sharpened.

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Zola Jesus

If, at this point, you’re on the fence about the greatness of the new Zola Jesus record, then you’ve clearly not heard any or all of Okovi. Nika Rosa Danilova’s codifying moment comes in the form of 40-minutes of pleasure and pain that wrench the very soul from the listener. She then douses said soul in a harrowing darkness that explores loss and mortality, while showering it in the light of one of this decade’s most powerful and uplifting voices.

The record shows a marked return to Danilova’s darker instincts, she blends her exploration of personal tragedies with a shift from Taiga’s pop aspirations and back towards the body flattening atmospheres of the Stridulum EP. However, she incorporates lessons gleaned along the way, injecting the darkness with a stadium sized feeling that’s full of a hope that peeks from the walls of despair. She’s also taken the soaring orchestral swells of her re-interpretive album Versions and applied them liberally to an album proper, giving Okovi a grandness that’s angelic in its exploration of life’s consistent lean towards heartbreak and loss.

Again, I’m by no means going to be the first to tell you this is a monumental achievement by an artist who has spent a career consistently crafting high water marks. If the top 40 was too blind to see what they had in her turn towards accessibility, then they’ll likely miss out here as well, but they’d be remiss. Taiga was accessible in its move towards the light, but Okovi is universally touching in its dive into the dark. We’re all besieged by the despair of familial loss, the hairpin turns of life at any chaotic moment, the overwhelming face of the cosmic inevitable. However, Danilova has distilled those feelings into a glowing beacon of an album that we should all be able to relate to, and deep down, that we all need.




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ToiToiToi

Ghost Box can always be counted on to deliver something that’s both uniquely situated on the sonic spectrum and impeccably dressed from a design standpoint. Sebastian Counts’ debut for the label (following an interesting entry to their Other Voices singles series) is a doozy of an electronic playground. Toying with ideas of acoustic vs electronic, modernity vs folklore and wilderness vs civilization, the album posits field recorded samples into a buzzing, ramshackle wonderland of beats and bleeps. The album isn’t so much an echo of the souring vision of ‘folktronica’ as it is a Radiophonic studio gone to seed in the afternoon sun or perhaps an erector set left to trestle weeds and moss for all eternity.

Counts throws a ton of ideas into the pot, from clattering Raster Norton minimalism, to Scientist-styled dub and noise breaks that feel very akin to labelmate The Focus Group. That his Rube Goldberg triggered Speak n’ Spell rhythms end up lodged in your brain is a testament to the overarching complexity and talent of the author here. Its not just a hodgepodge of sound, but an electro-organic beast that’s constantly trying to win human approval – a Frankenstein’s Monster with a flower to share. Of course the whole set is dressed up in the unparalleled design of Julian House, echoing the record’s themes of city vs country. It’s seldom that the Ghost Box crew will steer ya wrong, and this is no exception. Come for the high-minded concepts, but stay for the oddly charming pop melodies bubbling long after the record clicks to a stop.




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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

On his last album for Mexican Summer, veteran noise sculptor Cantu-Ledesma took a step towards accessibility. The album was still steeped in decaying waves of noise but it squinted into the sun every so often with a kind of shimmering beauty that let in a crossover of fans of shoegaze or more straightforward brands of electronic music. He doubles (maybe even triples) down on the concept for the follow-up and with On The Echoing Green he creates his most overtly pop album yet. The step towards pop is properly enabled by Green being his most collaborative work in a long time.

Chief among those collaborators is the siren call of Argentinian singer Sobrenada, whose voice fades in and out of the compositions on On The Echoing Green, blinking between the beautiful shards of Cantu-Ledesma’s sonic ruins. The album bleeds into the shoegaze world wholeheartedly this time, no half-measures. The slow, contemplative builds of the songs use noise as a trowel to shape their wall of sound, rather than seeping some shimmer in through the cracks of a house of noise, as was the case with A Year With 13 Moons. The result is a gorgeous, fragile, and tender record that occasionally lets itself be lacerated by Cantu-Ledesma’s past.

While there are some contenders, this might be the headphone record of the year. Cantu-Ledesma’s horizons of quaking bliss wash over the listener like a cocoon of lost emotions. He’s always been a master of soundcraft, but here he proves that he can let a little sun shine in without letting his carefully curated world crumble.

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Flowers Must Die

UK psych outpost Rocket Recordings roster is full to brimming with Marshall-stacked amp toasters, but Swedish six-piece Flowers Must Die vary the formula by adding a touch of deep bench influences to their sound. Not totally divorced from fellow Swedes Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation, who bend pop instincts through the prism of Krautrock and a fog of psych, Flowers Must Die are cherry picking bits of bottom-down disco dipped in space-rock swirls for a record that’s decked out in psych’s finery but feeling frisky with the notion of pop. The band has a habit of dipping the ends in free jazz squall and haunting Eastern drones as well and blending the styles subtly rather than throwing wholesale styles into a hodgepodge pot.

The extra hands make it possible to flesh the sound out with vintage keys, flourishes of flute and a clattered clutch of percussion. The hard to pin down styles mesh together nicely, not unlike some of the more outre soundtrack work of the ’70s. “Why?” seems like it might hold sway among some of the pieces from The Holy Mountain, with its ecstatic moans and chugging percussion. The band flips from Ash Ra Temple to Lindstrøm and finds space for both to butt against the ozone fry of dry ice riffs that feel like a Logan’s run dreamscape. Its a banner year for the psychedelic folds and Flowers Must Die are pushing things out of heavy riffs and into a heady haze that’s far more than the sum of its parts.

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Tomutonttu

Following on last year’s Trarat, Finnish experimental luminary Jan Anderzén returns with a more ambitious take for the Alter imprint. The record blends his past and future to great effect, nabbing some of the roughed-up plucks from his days with Kemialliset Ystävät and working them into the fabric of his slinking, mechanized dreamscapes. Kevätjuhla is certainly one of the most realized works that Anderzén has put together and while it may sound slightly rickety on the surface, walking a few steps back to appreciate the album as a whole pulls it together like a gorgeous patchwork quilt of sounds.

The dreamlike quality to the album can’t be overstated. It’s disorienting in the best way – Willy Wonka fever dreams letterpressed in full color. Sounds materialize, fade and flutter before being supplanted by new aural delights. Beats jerk along with Rube Goldberg rhythms, knocking one sound into another with strangely whimsical precision. There’s a pop aspect to the album, despite its experimental bent, but it’s less playlist fodder and more hummable commercial snippets fed through a fax machine on the blink. Anderzén knows how to entertain and bemuse in equal measure and here he’s letting his visual art background lead the way in Kevätjuhla’s creation.

In fact the album was meant to accompany the artist’s installation work. The meaning behind the piece was “inspired by the multitudes of mold and the microbial life, and served as a listening station that sought a bond between sound, the earth and organic matter. Sound was sent to speakers through cables sprouting like stems from a pile of dirt with a single coleus growing on top.” While the first thoughts that come to mind might not be microbial life, it’s easy to imagine how a backdrop so alien and yet so common could have led to the record’s pulsating core. If you’ve nodded off from the Finnish scene since psychedelic folk faded to the horizon, this should be the release to bring you back to the fold.





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