September 17, 2010

Oval - Oh (2010)

Oval’s Oh signals a significant shift — in both cases to something more melodic, less fractured, than listeners might expect. While Autechre on Quaristice employed recognizable synthesizer sounds (in contrast with rougher tonalities of the past), Oval’s Oh often sounds like broken segments of raw recordings of a post-rock band in rehearsal. And whereas Oversteps was, to me, a slight disappointment, Oh so far is anything but.

Black Devil - Disco Club (1978)

This is a very obscure release by one of the earliest of the euro disco artists who would later personify an entire genre. Originating from France, this release developed a major cult following all over Europe during the last 25 years and it is now considered to have been a major influence on many of the early 80's italo disco and euro disco artists who emerged on the scene shortly after this release.The songs were all recorded in real-time and all begin with that dark and wicked drum beat that sounds less like a disco song but more like the procession of a tribal ceremony in the jungles of Africa. Very bizarre, very rare, and very good music. Get it!

Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers (2010)

This is a great album that really shows the development of sound in this group. The mending of lo-fi guitar and vocal elements coupled with crunchy drum beats and bass make a very dynamic and aurally pleasing experience. The album starts out with "Tunnelvision", a garage-esque beat coupled with sliced acoustic guitar and vocal samples, next up is "Would Know", this track has a lot more dubstep influence than the previous and uses more electronic sounds. Then we have "Before I Move Off", this track starts off very gloomy and out of tune but develops into a deep two stepper that's almost indicative of Burial's style. "Blind Night Errand" is a garage track with heavy elements of electroclash, with a very calming outro into "Adriatic", Adriatic is a very calming track led completely by acoustic guitar and 2 vocal samples. It's simple but calming. "Carobonated" starts out as a disco track, almost acid-like. But develops into a garage track with sliced vocals and looming pads that'll entrance you. "Ruby" is your standard chilled out dubstep track. "Ode To Bear" is my favorite track on this album, it has elements of accordion and simple reverberated effects at the beginning, as it develops it becomes quite a complex and very emotional soundscape, this track will capture you. "Field" is a very guitar driven track with a simple dubstep beat in the back, coupled with vocal samples it's a nice track to keep you uplifted towards the end of this album. "Mayor", this track is one of the fastest paced out of all the tracks, it is almost entirely synth based unlike the rest of the album.

September 11, 2010

Previous Link Problems

Just noticed that all the links were directing to the Railway Raver album, fixed.

VHS Head - Trademark Ribbons of Gold (2010)

Blackpool's VHS Head made quite an impression with his Skam debut Video Club some months back. Now following an acclaimed set for the Mary Anne Hobbs Radio 1 show he presents a remarkable debut album, sounding like something approaching James Ferraro or Daniel "OPN" Lopatin's Games project, as edited by Gescom. Over the twenty tracks he deploys a palette of atypical Skam edits and icy spikes of digital glitch to a barrage of samples - mostly idents, incidental music - presumably lifted from his collection of video tapes. It's a vividly idiosyncratic world he's created here, like being given access to his private den built out of clamshell cases, which actually turns out to be the portal into a videodrome arena of schlocky drama and strangeness on the cusp of the analog-to-digital transition which occurred across the '80s. But that's just one side of his flex, the other relies upon his razor sharp editing skills, hitting that '86 vibe head-on with lethal electro/boogie edits nodding to Arthur Baker and Mantronix as much as Aphex Twin or Autechre. Just check the chops on 'Twitch Of The Nerve' or 'The Murder Cycles' and you could be in the most twisted Blackpool nightclub that never existed. It's blatantly the best thing Skam have released in years and shouldn't disappoint anyone who knows what that means.

Actress - Splazsh (2010)

So what is it that gives this particular album such a hold on me? I could point to the blown-out bass whoomp of “Bubble Butts and Equations,” or the late night tech-soul of “Get Ohn,” like a house anthem repeatedly re-encoded until that gorgeous forlorn melody buckles under the digital haze, breaking the surface among broken steam valves. Then there’s “Maze,” with its cold wave innards exposed on an autopsy table, its beautifully icy synth backbone glowing under fluorescent light. “Purrple Splazsh” takes cues from the flayed 80s fetishism of James Ferraro, the sample that eddies in its cathode ray spatter so damaged it’s almost impossible to place. “Let’s Fly” plays seance over flanged chords, summoning lost voices as if it’s watching The Disintegration Tapes roll in reverse. “Wrong Potion” may be the most disruptive track here, a chaos of overlapping signals that buckle and flail, picking out the patterns of beauty in amongst the white noise and “The Kettle Men” has mechanist swagger that’s buffeted by ambient gusts, like a cyborg revisioning of Sly Stone’s paranoid funk and one of the most head-spinningly dense tracks Actress has put his name to. Although the album touches on all these styles, it’s unified by a particularly Actress approach, a gloriously off-kilter brand of techno that’s driven by dream logic, like music piped in from a reality where the rules are gradually torn adrift from their moorings.

My favorite albums are ones that work as a whole – that don’t just reflect my mood, but shape it. Albums that invite me to walk into the words they conjure. It’s what I love so much about his masterful 2008 debut Hazyville, but Splazsh is even bolder, more assured, more labyrinthine and occluded. It’s a curious record from a wonderful, idiosyncratic producer, and it needs time and space to appreciate. Walking with it is the most intense, the world around soaking up the feeling it exudes.

The Railway Raver - Drop Acid Not Bombs (1998)

Perhaps the most underrated musician on the Rephlex label. I have always been a fan of Aphex's softer minimal acid and acid house selections. The Railway Raver specializes in that sound. Drop Acid Not Bombs is a quirky, positive acid house masterpiece.