“Music is like sculpture. It’s like trying to capture a moment of ultimate momentum, and distill it forever“. These are the words that accompany Chris Clark’s track ‘Unfurla’, released under his Clark alias. If such perspective is to be adopted, then the producer is the Auguste Rodin of his respective field. Drowned In Sound describes him as ‘a cut above most of his peers when it [comes] to sheer technical and compositional wizardry‘. After all it is no easy feat to land an album on Warp Records, an outlet that has released the works of dexterous artists such as Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin & Oneohtrix Point Never. ‘Unfurla’ is his 2014 release on the label, coming from his self-titled album. The Progressive Techno whopper has been adequately described as “a near perfect distillation of his oeuvre“.
What characterises ‘ Unfurla’ the most is the pulsating momentum that breathes with a continuous sense of unpredictability. The introduction combines a wet kick with a heavily-distorted bassline, reminding of Laurent Garnier’s 1997 classic ‘Crispy Bacon‘. Yet one minute in you are introduced to an extract of a grand piano being played through a hallway reverb-filter. The two concepts should not possibly co-exist in theory, and Clark’s ability to combine these is therefore impressive. Such elements manifest the spirit of Electronica and IDM genres, with the influence of Amon Tobin particularly noticeable. The ease at which the tone of the track shifts from Bastinov’s ‘Prisma‘-like leading synth to woodwind instrumentation breakdown is tantalizing. The final third of the track resists the temptation to return to its prior state, opting for a cello-leading outro that is more sombre in its tenor. Despite a runtime that falls below the six minute mark, the listener is left with a three-part story that satisfies the senses akin to a blockbuster flick. Continue reading →
Schneider & Galluzzi feat. Florian Schirmacher – Too Late To Land
In Maceo Plex’s recent Time Warp mix, the American DJ played a track dedicated to the festival’s 25 Year Birthday. He’s certainly not the first to have dedicated a track for such special occasion. Think Da Hool’s ‘Meet You at the Love Parade‘ or Mike Huckaby’s ‘The Tresor Track‘. Heck, type in Berghain into any streaming platform and you’ll come across hundreds of tracks titled after the notorious club. Already having the maestro Moritz Von Oswald dedicate the track of the year to their label, Cocoon really outdid themselves by dedicating a whole LP to the concept, Cocoon Morphs Tokyo. Hosting three parties at Japanese venue Womb, it featured exclusive bangers by Ricardo Villalobos, Tiefscharz and Guy Gerber. The highlight of these cuts, is Galluzzi and Schneider’s weapon of mass Minimal Techno destruction, ‘Too Late To Land’. Hearing the two collaborate for Minimal heads equals the creation of a DC vs Marvel movie for comic book fans.
The LP is also a celebration of the world-renowned German photographer and artist Andreas Gursky and Sven Väth. Andreas has been responsible for the design of Cocoon Club in Frankfurt, as well a many of the set designs featured at the Cocoon Parties. The cover art features a shot of the crowd below a poker-dots laced silver sheened curtain that draps over the dancefloor. The aesthetic is sonically replicated in the track. It starts with an ascending filtered chopper noise that harmonises with the modulation. Clever. Any producer wanting to learn more about the art of subtle glockenspiel percussion needs to rampantly study this track. The two so effortlessly displayed here click perfectly to give it soul. The muddied bass line bobs up and down in toe. Capping the track off though is the metallic, wonky, robotic synth stabs that darkens the tone. Similar to Schneider’s collaboration with Jay Haze ‘Acai‘, these are dialled up fifty notches to give the listener a jolting experience. Coupled with the drawled vocal saying ‘It’s too late to land‘ it leaves you in agreeance that you’ve gone way too far to stop the trip into outer space. Continue reading →
Last year, I got to see what all the fuss regarding Music On Ibiza was all about. That night Marco Carola and Martinez Brothers played to a dynamic and booming Amnesia Terrace filled with jollity. ‘Take Money‘ by Guille Placendia & George Privatti & ‘Mind Bend’ by John Tejada, Justin Maxell & Daniel Bell were two tracks that were so diverse, yet plucked apart the dancefloor like a hurricane that’s hit a beach shack. Big Room Techno is normally be associated with renowned DJs Dubfire & Len Faki. A sound full of reverb, delays, cavernous bass and colossal kick intertwined with a biomechanic theme. Cocoon helped push a more experimental and tribal side of it too. One of the highlights was Ahmet Sisman’s ‘Hey Now‘. A sinister yet funky bassline and killer vocal it was an absolute belter. These attributes are brought onto his exquisite remix of Cesare vs Disorder‘s Queen Atom alias cut ‘Coka Zero’. It is a classy expedition of his signature sound, released in 2013 on the Blue Atom EP on Cesare’s own Serialism Recordings.
A mastermind in experimentalism yet leaving an unadulterated jack, Cesare himself is as adept at Big Room bangers. ‘Refuse Greed‘, and his Azimute cut ‘Extravaganza‘ are engineered to incite pure anarchy. The original is full of twangs, random UFO bleeps and what must be the record for the most amount of differing worldly drum samples. Ahmet strips most of it back, leaving a pounding 808 to drive the track. Martin Buttrich wouldn’t complain. Over the top a bongo drum pattern murmurs. It’s a more muddied take on the originals, bringing a sexier slick. What makes it defining, however, is the Turkish DJ’s astute use of vocal samples. The first minute introduces an unidentified vocal ghost in. Further down the track the closing hook of Pharrell and Jay-Z’s ‘Frontin’ glides in. As discordant drums are mixed in, a polished transition takes place. The acappella of Kelis’ ‘Bossy‘ then strikes with verve. This adds thrust to the track with the rhythm of the melody alone. Not the first time either, with the EEE cut doing the rounds. It’s an unbelievable culmination in all the elements, concocted by a true maven. Continue reading →
Hitler. Churchill. Mussolini. Some of the deceased names Latvian writer and intellectual Konstantin Raudive claims to have spoken to. A luminary of his field, Konstantin used Electronic Voice Projection – a parapsychological tool to apparently help hear from the dead. It’s something that must’ve stirred Londoner Oliver Ho to don the moniker Raudive. ‘There’s the idea that certain rhythms used in voodoo can evoke spirits’ he tells The Ransom Note. ‘I love that, and I like to approach making my music in a similar way’. Oliver is a multi-dimensional experimental musical genius. As one half of Post Punk-New Wave band The Eyes In The Heat, his love for Alternative Rock certainly has seeped into his music. He first made belting Techno under his birth name, his debut EP The Gathering being released in 1996. Now making music under his Broken English Club alias he’s playing more Noise and post-Industrial tinged Techno with the likes of Regis, Silent Servant and James Ruskin. Under his Raudive name, however, he strikes some of the most potent minimal concoctions. Steeped in hypnotism, they certainly harks back to the Raudive spectre. His remix of ‘Please Easy’ may not conjure spirits in a supernatural sense, but it certainly will help any DJ tighten their grip on a dancefloor locked in the groove.
Under his Szenario monkier, Ed Davenport’s original is full of plonks, wonks and a bassline synonymous with mid-noughties Minimal Techno. Raudive takes things a bit deeper, using his interlocutor skills to regenerate the track. Stripped back to a off-kilt percussive ‘pop’ noise, it is played in double time, then triple time. Ho has done similar on his Audio EP banger, ‘Turn It Off‘. The bass is perfunctory, but works well with its simple, rippled squelchy jabs. It’s similar to Phil Keiran’s smash record released on Cocoon ‘I Think I’m A Monster’. A presence of random laser shots, bell chimes and alarms jolt at the ear. The USP of the track is the Middle Eastern vocal sample. A bit more than just a vocal, it is twisted to become a chant which Resident Advisor says ‘make the hairs on your neck stand up.’ It is as seductive as a UKIP Leave Campaigner door-knocking in Middlesbrough. Oliver claims to love it when ‘a human voice gets mutated and we loose the linguistic part of it, that the more animal parts of our brains get activated; that we still know it is a voice even when we can’t tell what word is being said’. With the way it’s mixed, these vocal mutations carry the track in this instance. At 124bpm it spellbinds and the DJ will certainly show no penitence for releasing this sultry caprice.
With the advent of the internet, designated streaming services such as Boiler Room & Be.At TV have allowed limited amounts of FOMO to take place for those who couldn’t make the party. DJ Mag, Mixmag, and Resident Advisor have even jumped in on the act and ramped up their hold on the wall streams. Rarely do DJs get the chance to record live, nor purely of their own tracks. And it is hard to think of this ever taking place at a Cocoon Ibiza party. Eric Estornel, the American DJ more commonly known as Maceo Plex, Maetrik and Mariel Ito bucked this trend. In 2012, his Live at Cocoon Ibiza Mix CD did just this. ‘The Reason’, also released on Cocoon hits just after the crescendo of the mid point of the mix. Placed perfectly, it’s a belter ensuring serious dancefloor vehemence.
The track starts off with a low end synth stab lightly throbbing as though it’s a malfunctioned alarm of a spaceship. Panned, but slowed hats sit alongside groaning of shapeshifting mechanical clamour. Strenuous sub-bass, akin to a hydraulic breaker give the track serious poundage. Bells, which more sound like Notre Dame Church bells are struck hard. With the force of a MBL player hitting a home run it’s sequenced to help balance that nasty low end. Like on 2017’s smash ‘Ninex 7-C‘, Estornel displays exquisite, pulsating modulations. Grumbling and gurning, this heavy mid range has serious piercing venom. At it’s peak it shrills reverberates with so much power so much you get a cardio vascular workout just by listening. Maetrik loves a mutated vocal just like on ‘Herb House‘ or ‘Crush On Me‘. Amongst other ‘Reasons’ this one says ‘You’re the reason I can’t breath’, anybody listening live probably would be saying this back to Estornel. Supporting interstellar noises are paraded around to help this track stick to its extraterrestrial blueprint. Continue reading →
Even though he’s been releasing music since 2005, not much can be found on the German producer Rico Puestel. Being the face behind one of the tracks of Summer 17 ‘Caravel‘ however ensured that it was a name Techno Heads couldn’t forget. An absolute monster of a track boasting a huge expansive bass that capers playful with melody over the top. In staying fun, it is also a gateway track to introduce punters to techno. This year Rico has maintained his grizzled yet innovative style with ‘Astrayed Reshaped‘ and now this recently released EP on Cocoon. It reflects the wonkiness of ‘Caravel’ with the added white noise used to keep that big room sound.
A key theme of this track is clustering of the synths. Whether that be highs or mids they all seems to sprout in their own directions at blistering pace. One sounding like a broken accordion, another reminding of a flute. Gigantic big room hats appear alongside the sub bass to match. Clinking percussion is peppered in the background before the whole batch is mixed. Overall it sounds like a scrambled transmission from an ecstatic robot, which is then regurgitated back into proceedings. As Cocoon puts it, ‘The mini breaks and prolonged dramatic pauses are all pieces in the puzzle of Puestel’s arrangement’. And it’s this that makes the dancer go on a wild ride. The following breakdown features a brief rising harp arpeggio. This element is then bred with the scrambling of the synths, filtered with fervent recklessness of a madman.Glum and echoed chords are dolloped making allowing your mind to breath just a bit.It’s an intoxicating effect guaranteed to liquify any bystanders on the dancefloor. What a ride. Continue reading →
Lots of Tech-House these days have the druggy funk baselines seen on a Hot Creations Release, or a more heady approach by Get Physical. Independence, by Italian duo Doomwork flips the script a bit like a Christopher Nolan movie in the director’s prime.. The 2012 Cocoon release has a latin vibe, but a heady vibe making one feel as the title says, Independent.
Crafted for the 8pm timeslot of an outdoor rig in the height of summer, right when things are starting to heat up, in rolls a simple dubbed bassline with swaying Congos and percussion over the top. Added into the melody are two minor key mediterranean sounding melodies, filtered guitar loop Instead of using the bass for the low slung nature, Doomwork drench the rest of the surroundings with a vocal that creeps in with the drawl of Playboi Carti and Future. Continue reading →