“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 →
‘What you sew you shall reap’ as Jesus Christ states repeatedly in the bible. After recently attending their Afterlife party at Hi Ibiza it was amazing to see the fruit of Tale of Us’ hard graft. Incredible sets from Maceo Plex, Adriatque and KiNK alongside second to none production, it was a display of acute attention to detail. Wade through all the hip of Afterlife itself, and the root of it all is the Life and Death co-founders. As my friend claimed, they went from being the influenced to becoming the influencers. What a contrast they are from their break out druggy ‘ket house’ cuts like ‘Dark Song‘ and their remix of Who Made Who’s ‘Every Minute Alone‘. Fast forward to now and their at times beatless, ariose, brand of techno has sprouted new talents such as Mathame, breathed new life into old heads like Stephan Bodzin and drawn in purveyors of harder styles like Kevin de Vries. Trawl any profound music blog comments section, and you’ll quickly find this style has it’s detractors due to it’s perceived cannibalism of itself (similar to 2010-2012 tech-house craze). None the less, when it works, it is cataclysmic. Alex Smoke is renowned for his abstract brand of minimal techno mostly on Soma and Vakant Records. Here, as DJ Mag state, they recalibrate Smoke’s ever-morphing original into a ‘driving and hypnotic remix, complete with wonky synths.’ A 2016 release on R&S Records, it’s peak Tale of Us showing their production prowess at its best.
‘Dire Need’’s monotone drawls and rich moody soundscape is fertile land for Tale of Us build upon. It’s Depeche Mode or an EBM low-pitch style vocal that merges perfectly with it’s Ellen Alien lurked beat. Where the original is like a hulking mechgiant taking strident steps across a dystopian land, this remix is like a USS Starship Enterprise hurtling through space. A pulsating beat kicks the track off alongside a staple stringed pad causing stress to the senses. Like Joris Voorn, Smoke is a well know classical musical loving instrumentalist. And the brassy toned, railing synths that punish in the original are stretched to taking the remix to a more euphoric landing spot. There’s a sense of iciness to the track, with the cold knocks of the percussion. As the breakdown hits, the anarchy taking place in the vocals add to the solemn nature. ‘Why do they notice/Why do they listen’ he chants with it’s political undertones. It is extra pronounced during the breakdown daring to assimilate the dancers to freedom its seeking. The charge of the ravenous sonic palette as it ascends back in brings an air of cogency in its exhilaration. Continue reading →
The subconscious state of dreaming has never failed to titilate humanity. As Steven Kloves writes “In dreams we enter a world that’s entirely our own”. The state of lucidity, irregularity and incertitude has led some of the more avant-garde underground artists influence their production. Fittingly named Italian trio, Agents Of Time, take the concept of alternative dimensions even further in this track titled ‘Lost Dreams’. Andrea Di Ceglie, Fedele Ladisa & Luigi Tutolo come together in their debut track released by the New York label Stone Records in 2013 to create an experience that’s emerges the innermost self.
Noticeably, the introduction of the track features an electric guitar strumming over a Cliff Martinez-inspired ambient prologue that’s underlined by a satiny kick loop. The resulting sound parallels the outro track of an action melodrama from the late 2000s. The delayed lower ends tabs are reminiscent of their fellow countrymen Tale of Us label Afterlife‘s soundscapes with their molded asymmetry. Plagued with contorted chord progression, the freeroam of the leading synth is kept in line by the insomnolent bassline that dances in reversal. The breakdown, absent of a kick, does eventually enter the picture around the midpoint. It is more more sonically expansive, tampering with an element of elixiring cosmos. Refusing to dwell upon the outer space for too long, the primary baseline kicks back-in, returning the capering groove that zeniths the track to its destiny. Continue reading →
The term ‘a trip’ is associated with tracks & sets that offer extended playtime. With scientific research concluding that listening to electronic music for a prolonged period of time modulates serotonin & dopamine levels in your brain, invested listening sessions can be rewarding. Blond:ISH’s ‘Laberinto’ is a treasured pearl in this category. Collaborating with Bahramji, a veteran Kurdish musician hailing from Iran, the Canadian DJ duo capsulise their entrancing hippie spirit with an export of progressive techno that takes the Western listener to a foreign world.
‘Laberinto’ combines coloured refractions of an Öona Dahl set with the pacific instrumentation of Lee Burridge. In fact this Kompakt Records release would feel very at home on an All Day I Dream label compilation. The use of stringed instruments that synergise with a reversed sound sample brings to mind Nicolas Jaar’s production. Filtered kicks allure, cofunctioning with a two-step bass that gives a sense of a cassette player stuck on the loop. Bahramji’s singing completes this mosaic influenced by the Orient. His lamenting, echoing vocals lead the meditation as if he’s a yoga guru struggling to come to terms with his vocation. The total cutoff of percussions towards the closure of the song the track leaves the listening crowd with the sole voice of a Kurdish vocalist accompanied by Qanun, a Persian instrument. The completion of a transportation to a new sphere undertaken by the listener. Continue reading →
At times, you come across track are shaped with a clear vision in mind. ‘Invitation To Love’ is a prime example of such, being crafted perfectly as a track to be played within the first 30 mins of a summer festival. Taking influence from Moby’s ‘Go‘, the track sounds like a 2013 remix from the Italian DJ duo Tale of Us. The original sample comes from Twin Peaks OST’s “Laura Palmer’s Theme”. The sense of TV’s mystique is combined with tints of acid and 808 drums. Channeling the ambient synths, the track maintains its core purpose throughout.
Released in 2012 as part of Hiverned # 2, it serves as a more expansive partner to Marc Piñol’s claustrophobic ‘Arrebato‘ cut. Mastered by Andreas, supported by such as Guy Gerber at his Chicago rooftop Rumor parties. The track maintains a consistent downtempo rhythm of around 110 BPM, aiming to hypnotize you into waltz. It offers a less kaleidoscopic vibe than contemporary Hivern Disc releases from producers such as Pional or Alejandro Mosso for example. Yet this elevates the essence of the track’s enticing scent. Continue reading →
Afterlife is a label which claims to be ‘an odyssey through the realm of consciousness’. Keeping with this ethos, on this track Italian duo Mind Against ensure they’re working for their money harder than Jordan Belfort did in Wolf of Wall Street. Except there’s no shame in this instance, as ‘Cloud Nine’ is not just injected soundscapes for the sake of it. Sure, the white noise displayed flourishes but unlike that on show within ‘business techno’ this track has rhythm and soul. Berlin-based duo understand the importance of essence.
Crosstown Rebels favourite Francesca Lombardo put out this scenery, minimal techno banger late last summer. Part of an EP that also featured an equally as sublime ‘Fragole‘. Released by the Israeli label Echoes Records that is run by DJ Osho. Francesca Lombardo – Terra offers a feminine, flirty interpretation of minimal that elevates summery vibes, and is one-with-earth. Definitely a track Damian Lazarus and Guy Gerber would play on a mysterious village up a mountain somewhere down in southern Spain.
Though Terra hasn’t seen enormous play volume online, don’t let put you off. It provides a consistent vibe to be reckoned with. Smart DJs will pick up through the summer festivals of 2018 as it is a track that would equally go down well in Burning Man as it would at Sónar. With the summer on the horizon, here’s a track to give you a preview of what’s about to come.
Newcastle-raised DJ & producer Jobe has been laying low on the edges of the progressive techno upheaval that has taken momentum over the last two years within the underground scene. I’ve come across his productions due to my occasional listens of the Berlin-based STEYOYOKE Podcasts. These offer an hour set of melodic, so called Ethereal Techno. It seems that here Jobe has finally found home, contributing to several releases which compliment his style well. We wonder what could have been had the producer made the move to settle in Germany a few years earlier.
The choice for title of the track is deliberately elaborate, Lissome being a synonym for ‘limber’ or ‘elegance’. This is a fair reflection of the structure of the track that is locked in barrel, never really pulling the trigger. You’ll find no big drop, or room-filling bass. Instead, the track gives centre to a delicate, empyrean melody loop that is given an uplift by a simple bassline halfway through. The track never begs for your attention, instead inviting you to join in this serene circle of dance. This would fit smoothly in any given Sasha‘s Last Night On Earth label night. Continue reading →