Will Ward – Space Bells
Asquith and Deadbeat aren’t names you’d usually put together. The nostalgic nature of the former is a stark contrast of the latter’s dread Dub Techno. What they both share in common is an innate knack to provide a bruising kick. Will Ward’s ‘Space Bell’ is another release that carries such bombast. Described on Leisure System’s Bandcamp as an artist whose tracks portray ‘windswept techno’. Its brash sound serves perfect curation for events like Jaded at Corsica Studios, as is seen in this recorded set of his. Mixing in Truncate, Jones Kopp and Alex Bau, Ward selects cuts for the dishevelled patrons. Releasing EPs on Joton’s New Rhythmic and Audio Doughnuts, Will’s tracks certainly evince that of a seasoned composer. On ‘Space Bells’, however Will provides a cut to to follow a peak-time bomb at a cacophonous party.
One third of Circle Traps, Will was the central character who brought it all together. Speaking with The Trailer TV, he mentions being influenced by Fachwerk Records boss Mike Dehnert. The Berliner is adept at delicately sculpting a track, knowing masterfully where to position each element of sound. His tracks also diligently contain a perfect weight to them. Such influence oozes into ‘Space Bells’. It incorporates a triple note drum programming that is comparable to Leon Vynehall’s ‘Butterflies‘. Interlacing with the forceful drive of the drum, it is gratifying enough to just play the two as a tool. A fuzzy aura surrounds the track. Filtered hats give scents of white noise, creating a galactic atmosphere. The emotive bell patterns provide a petrichor palette similar to the tracks found on John Robert’s seminal LP Glass Eights. Brassy chords clamber, shrieking with trepidation. These sounds all feel grounded by the bass and drums, retaining a permanent swing to the track. Continue reading
2562 – Embrace
Before he became a DC10 mainstay, I saw Skream dosing out absolute piledrivers at Cable years ago, the Dubstep clubbing institution that was under the train archways near London Bridge. Carrying the virtuoso of genre-pioneers such as Benga and Kowton, it was in-your-face brash stuff. Looking at the scene’s most celebrated tracks however, such as Kode9’s ‘Samurai‘, The Bug’s ‘Skeng‘ and Joy Orbison’s ‘Hyph Mngo‘, the genre’s more mellow tracks can be just as commanding. Dutchman Dave Huismans, is the man behind the Dogdaze moniker, as well as the more 4/4 A Made Up Sound alias. Releasing on revered labels such as Tectonic and Delsin, as well as Red Bull Music Academy dubbing him as ‘inimitable’ is certainly an apt branding. Under his 2562 moniker however, you will find an artisan off-beat shake downs. ‘Embrace’ is one such track that stays true to its title, embracing a more finespun approach.
Dropped on fellow compatriot Martyn’s 3024 in 2009, it snuggly feels at home amongst other abstract-leaning musicians such as Leon Vynehall and Trevino. When chatting with Little White Earbuds about his favourite music to play when he feels down, he responded with Detroit’s Deep House legend Rick Wade. ‘Embrace’ certainly echoes such moody, powerful Deep House tropes. Beginning with a minor key, chords are stabbed hurriedly and delivers sentient vibrations. Dubstep is known by its half-time drum patterns, offering clashing BPMs between separated elements, creating a measure of space between the different layers of the track. The drums are raw and hollow, ascending and descending to variant notes on each half-beat. They share the vim of the bulwarking dub bass which drags itself into place like a stone into a quarry. Lastly, dusky pads serenely shimmer over the top adding to the meditative spirit that the chords bring. Continue reading
John Hopkins – Singularity (ANNA Remix)
Jon Hopkins’ ‘Singularity‘ album featured sounds as dense as Beijing’s pollution during peak-hour traffic. Leading from the front, the title track ‘Singularity‘ announces itself more grandly than the UEFA Champions League final. Exploding into the oblivion and giving semblance to its title, the track leaves the listener begging for more. Step forth Brazilian-born artist ANNA. Though the DJ Awards carry less weight than a Trump speech on Russian collusion, her 2016 Breakthrough Artist of the Year award was fully deserved. It was almost impossible to have avoided hearing her Kompakt backed track ‘Hidden Beauties‘ feature in any of the headlining Techno sets of that year. With fine releases supported by labels such as Terminal M, Tronic and Toolroom being delivered since 2012, it was only a matter of time before ANNA reached peakdom. Some can let the pressure of a massive hit get to them – not for ANNA it seems. Continuing her hot streak form, her ‘Singularity’ remix keeps her unequivocally in the limelight.
According to Resident Advisor, the original track utilised field recordings of thunder. ‘The track is supposed to have a dangerous, foreboding sound to it‘ explained Hopkins in his ‘Machine Love’ feature. It’s a thing of uncanny beauty in the way the elements drone. On her remix, ANNA decides to paint a picture of the entire world encountering an apocalyptic thunderstorm at once. The track starts with the use of the original’s swelling drones. While Hopkin’s version unravels in swelling, the bass of the remix drops harder that Thor’s hammer in Ragnarok. It’s a ditto of the ‘Hidden Beauties’ bassline, played in a clockwork rhythm. In conversation with Ask Audio, ANNA recalls that her take was made using the Furthrrrr Generator module. Describing it as mightily powerful is an understatement of titanic proportions. Dropping in a hulking kick and swelling cymbals, the original’s classical organ line simmers over the top. It is a brooding end of the world sound native to a movie such as The Day Earth Stood Still. Stabs of the modulated bassline kick in louder and louder before being held in distortion. It’s heinous, akin to Leatherface obliterating your face with a shotgun. The breakdown retains the instrumentation of the original waiting for the kick to usher back in the remaining elements of the track. This leaves the listener picking up the pieces back together. The end result? Dancefloor destroyed. Continue reading
Igor Vicente – Mystericordia (Ryan Crosson Remix)
Being part of a collective that was once referred to as “House music’s most lucrative supergroup“ is some feat. Such was the title given to Visionquest in the early 2010s. Part of the renowned ensemble alongside Lee Curtiss & Shaun Reeves (as well as formerly Seth Troxler), Ryan Crosser has always shared his crews ambition to push the boundaries of textures, while retaining an enthralling rhythm. His own production can be best described as a liquefaction of Techno, Tech-House and Minimal. None is more evident than in his 2014 remix of Igor Vicente’s ‘Mystericordia’, an unapologetic revelry of the mind-expanding sounds.
Igor Vicente’s original takes a more subtle approach, maintaining alluring mellowness throughout. Crosson’s interpretation on the other hand awakens the spirit of modern Detroit, elevating the intensity into benumbing levels.Conjuring up his contribution to Visionquest Records Bricolage EP, Crosson claims to source sound samples from the mundane, everyday life. “I used field recordings from the street, sometimes people would be doing construction on my building” he explained to Vice back in 2014. Nonetheless, the DJ’s processing in the studio interprets the banal in a aphotic fashion. The first half of the track is an amalgamation of white noise, isolated grand piano notes and comatosed vocal echoes. A misty, aquatic atmosphere often associated with his longtime collaborator and friend Cesar Merveille has clearly rubbed off on Crosson. Meanwhile, the spaced-out thumping of a kick repeatedly increases in tempo. This is almost a reflection of the dancer’s heartbeat, about to enter a delirious state. Once the standard 4/4 looping of the drumming percussion clangours into the mix, its impact is thunderous. The heavy sidechaining of the choleric bassline dynamites the listener into the extrasolar. Continue reading
Upsammy – Another Place
You’ve got to hand it to those YouTubers who are the heroes we need but do not deserve. A vehicle for upcoming artists to get their music promoted, it certainly has its uses on the other side of the spectrum. Frontleft365 covered some of these in their fantastic feature that included interviews with Houseum, Slav and CMYK. Growing in number, such channels have offered not only exposure for those looking to get their name out, but also serving as inspiration to fellow producers. These have been in particular rich in genres of early 90’s IDM, ambient, breaks, jungle, techno and trance. Thessa Torsing aka Upsammy’s 2018 Dekmantel set was a beautiful, meandering sound safari covering the aforementioned genres with a retro tint. Hailing from the Netherlands, her ascendency has been no short of paramount, rapidly moving from playing in local clubs to nights at Panorama Bar. Her productions have been cherished and treasured, bringing a mix of breaks, Techno, IDM, ambient and Trance. Releases on Whities & Die Orakel gathered great attention, called upon by Mr Fingers for a remix alongside Joey Anderson and Kode9. ‘Another Place’, the titular cut on her 2018 debut EP on Rotterdam Label Nous’Klaer, is a mutative beast that is utterly mesmeric.
In conversation with DeSchool, Upsammy recalled her father having “loads of electronic mix CD’s, like Tiësto’s Forbidden Paradise, so [Torsing] listened to those.. growing up. Another major influence was MTV Lounge Vol. 3, with artists like Moby and The Future Sound Of London‘. ‘Another Place’ is an emotion-led, retro futuristic track, cut with a different cloth that uses the same blueprint. Pick any track from the nostalgic YouTube Channel, 2trancentral and you’ll find the same esoteric tropes written all over. Indulged in delay from the off, chimes and a bleep knock echo and streak through both ear canals. An drum pattern that goes into double-time on the second 4/4 beat keeps things off kilter. This all happens before a razoring dubstep & techno hybrid bassline, akin to one found in A Made Up Sound‘s (aka 2562) ‘Crisis’ enters. It also carries the same urgency as of Shed’s ‘Wax 1001B‘ acid lick. Blissful and alien synth-lines supersaw and oscillate, sounding straight out of a Roland J-8000 or Access Virus A/B textbook. Droplet sounds play out in assorted patterns in the background, before a minute long breakdown set ups the most euphoric of atmospheres. The bass then drops combined with the precision of the cymbals to truly transport the listener to a place far distant. Continue reading
Tominori Hosoya – We Are Here
‘Background music can be inspiring if it influences your mental state in the right way’. Only so recently, Anthony Fantano gave ‘Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980 – 90‘ album a ‘decent 8’. Not bad for a guy who is usually deemed as a fairly harsh critic. For a mainstream YouTube reviewer to have their sights on such music you know it must be that damn good. Japanese Ambient has seems to have hit the crest of a wave. Crack Magazine ran a feature covering the hype. It featured Hiroshi Yoshimura, Yasuaki Simizu and one of our favourite, Midori Takada. Resident Advisor commenters went gaga over the rerelease of Takada’s ’Through The Looking Glass’. Tominori Hosoya is not an exclusively Ambient artist, but he’s a bloody good one. The label boss of TH Pressing, his productions have been expansive – ranging from Progressive Techno to House. Finding his releases on Brothers Vibes, Mixx Records and Snail Juice Records, his niche for all things deep has also landed him on Frank & Tony’s Scissor & Thread. Released in early 2019, ‘We Are Here’ is the third, Ambient cut on a mostly deep house EP release. Whatever feeling it was trying to evoke such titling, it is a track that definitely matches up to Fantano’s quote.
Unearthed Sounds describes ‘We Are Here’ as a ‘powerfully restrained piece that merges woody percussion with low key pads and field recordings to create a magical whole’. ‘Magical‘ is an understatement, maybe try ‘bewitching‘. Field recordings of waves crashing and birds chirping give an instant calming resonance. Brooding string pads then kick in sweeping back and forth as if it were chamber music for meditation purposes only. Echoing oriental percussions knock panoramically, stimulating the mind before it diffuses at the breakdown. Our first encounter with Tomi was on Nick Hoppner’s RA.463 mix. ‘Chihiro‘ carried a crystalline charm over the top of a frantic verve. Halfway through we are here, piano keys are played with subtlety in the same manner. It kindles emotion, and absorbs the listener into a deeper realm of consciousness should they choose. The track then peters out with layered chimes and wooden percussions. Running at 6 minutes 30 seconds, one can definitely wish Tomi had been influenced by an hour long experience on this one. You’ll be left optioning for the replay button on this one. Continue reading
MR TC – Golden Gate
Retrofuturism is used to define “the use of a style or aesthetic considered futuristic in an earlier era“. Artists such as Bruce McCall, Frank R. Paul and John Harris painted their visions of the new world. At times, the concept is used for stylistic vision found in Hollywood narratives. The film industry has produced movies like ‘Metropolis‘, ‘Brazil‘ and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘, each offering their interpretation of the future. A sci-fi environment, of course, needs its own soundtrack. Progressive, psychedelic rock bands such as Pink Floyd formed space-age worlds full of anachronisms. Pioneering Jazz musicians such as Herbie Hancock propagated the branch of Afrofuturism. His 1975 album titled ‘Flood‘ features an album cover featuring an African-American astronaut. Yet none of the music genres come close to fitting as well as the electronic genre. The futurist world of technology gave birth to its soundscapes. Kraftwerk’s album Radio-Activity is an artefact in this respect. Forty years down the line, faint echoes of its phantasm can be traced in modern releases. Judging by his tracks Thomas Clarke, also known as MR TC, is a cum laude student of the German collective. ‘Golden Gate’, his release on Jennifer Cardini’s Correspondant 06 Compilation. The LP combines “palpitating ambience [with] chuggernaut technoid trips“. It is this year’s time travel back to 1970s Düsseldorf.
The track begins with drum instrumentation best described as downtempo Carl A. Finlow. The underscoring arpeggio moves along in an ascending order. Its analogue sound comes close to matching the 1980s soundtracks of Halloween 3 or Videodrome. The lackadaisical tempo gives of a sense of banality. One can imagine a scene of a lonesome robot carrying out its duties on an abandoned starship galaxies far away. All the while random spurts of ray gun and machinery samples lurk in the background. Then enters the liquid sine bells, accompanied by echo and reverb. The nautical sound feels almost doleful, contrasting with the dispassionate laser stabs. The dichotomy between emotion and enginery is united by the kick. The question, however, arises whether this kick belongs to the beating of the heart or the motor of the machine. This concept of man vs. machine was explored by labels such as Dubfire’s SCI+TEC. Using presets that intentionally sound nostalgic, MR TC creates an exhibition of retrofuturist aesthetic that is captivating. Continue reading
Skatebård – The Bells of Mist
Norwegian DJ and producer Bård Aasen Lødemel has had a long-lasting career that traces back to 2002. Deep House Amsterdam have defined his sounds as a combination of “Emotional techno, neo-italo, electro from an alternative future and a Scando-cosmic reinterpretation of pure Detroitian house“.The online community has noted that his strong facial hair draws comparison to Hip Hop artist Action Bronson. He’s also been described as being Santa Claus who brings tunes instead of presents, or Gimli on his day off. While often DJs carry a persona that feels detached of emotion while mixing, Bård’s body language emits bliss. Something that also this emanates in his production. Associated with a sound that’s ethereal yet groove-inducing, His 2016 Boiler Room set brought spaced-out electro grooves. The track that kicked-off the vibes was The Bells of Mist, his own production that epitomises his gossamer sound. Skatebård certainly brings a gift in this track
Bård’s sound transformed over the years, losing its tints of techno along the way. His first EP ‘Skateboarding Was A Crime (In 1989)’ featured zealous tracks like ‘Sgnelkab‘. However, since the late 2000s, he has pushed a sound that is an amalgamation of Norsk Disco & Italo Disco. The Bells of Mist incorporates a distinct ambience that communions with the late 1970’s producer Cerrone’s arp bassline. For a man who hails from the land of the viciously conquering Vikings, the concave pads used bring a sense of harmony. As the track title suggests, the heavy use of reverb creates an atmosphere of brume. A 111BPM contributes to the overall feelingness of haze akin to a mellow dream, in which the dancer loses themselves in. Speaking to Ransom Note the DJ claimed to ‘see a lot of the colour red, meaning I try to make music that is “warm” in a way‘. Here, the warmness comes from the echoing bells that oscillate, substituting for a topline synth. Synths are given an opportunity to introduce themselves to the presiding ambience at the breakdown of the track, before the bassline and the drums join the jamboree. The tracks unique selling point is the ability to throw a party at a leisurely pace. Continue reading
Tale of Us – Alla Sera (Kettenkarussell Triangle Player Remix)
When Tale Of Us dropped their debut 2017 LP, Endless, it wasn’t what the public had come to expect. Resident Advisor claimed it contained ‘meandering music that tries desperately to tug at your heartstrings, but never quite gets a good enough grip’. Released on Deutsche Grammophon, a classical label starting in 1898 that has also released Moritz Von Oswald and Carl Craig’s classical reshapes of their electronic tracks, Tale of Us’ was a first fully original electronic release. Whatever your thoughts on it was, you can’t fault the effort of the duo trying something more beatless. Dropping on the remix LP, featuring remixes Rødhåd, Scuba, Sebastian Mullart plus other Afterlife label mates, Kettenkarussell x Tale of Us was a match made in heaven. Their brand of quaint, mystical house you can normally find in Giegling‘s roster that has included Edward, Dwig & Traumprinz, leaks its way on ‘Alla Sera’ to provide a sanctum for deep contemplation.
We first heard Kettenkarussell, a duo consisting of Herr Koreander & Leafar Legov, in 2010 on a Little White Earbuds podcast. They describe their music being ‘so easy to develop tunnelvision listening to their calming, organic style of hypnotism — maybe a bit like ‘witnessing the scenery shifts on a lengthy train journey atop that constant click-clack’. This hypnotism is found from the off, with the moody classical piano line, enveloping the ears with gravitas. It adds a nonchalant aura than to the originals as-hoc sullen, morose nature. Soundscapes pan across the track, with a nimble version of the IDM style bass found on Plastikman’s Closer LP. Hats latter across the top, quiet enough to give the other bleeps, thunder strikes and tiger screeches time to add to the abstract nature. The brooding pulsations before the breakdown truly makes this a homelisteners delight. Letting the piano do the talking again, in a minor harmonic. The track then takes a deep dive into the abyss of the mind, as the swirling, ghostly pads create a parabola around this magical world. Continue reading
Ramadanman & Appleblim – Void 23
In his recent Resident Advisor Exchange podcast interview, Blawan stated that the post-dubstep releases of the late 00s and early 2010s sound dated if listened to today. A fresh rewind does in many cases explain why a pioneer of the genre like Skream progressively adopted tech-house scene as his home. However, ‘Void 23’ the collaboration between Bristol’s Appleblim & Ramadanman is one of a few surprising exceptions to the rule. Released in 2010 on Will Saul’s and Ninja Tune’s Fink Aus Music label, it’s a collage of house, techno, electro and dub that stands the test of time where many have failed.
The intro gives the listener a hint that this is not your standard track, the first 30 seconds substituting a 4/4 drum beat loop with an extract of an airport background noise. The soundscapes that simmer into the picture are eldritch yet atmospheric. The eerie ambience invoked is reminiscent of Akira Yamaoka’s Silent Hill soundtrack. Slowly but surely the drums affix unto the energy created. Once the aura is brewed, a zesty bassline fizzes under the surface, never taking claim of the protagonists role. The breakdown that dissolves the existing elements into oblivion is crafted in a way that was ahead of its time. The use of indigenous percussion reminds you of an Innervisions release coming from the last few years. Rampa mixed with ÂME and a tint of Marcus Worgull. Yet the ‘drop’ which turns the track on its head dispels such direction. It rumbles with a rolling lick that funnily enough reminds of Benny Bennassi’s ‘Satisfaction’. However, the sound here is unapologetically underground, the second half of the track being a gift sent down by the tech-house gods.