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 →
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-Activityis 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 →
Matt Whitehead fooled us all. If you play ‘We’re Bombing’ with an absence of context, you’ll most like guess the release year to be situated in the early 1980s. Roland TR 808 drum patterns. Check. Miami Vice soundtrack inspired synths. Check. Toms akin to Nairobi’s 1982 release ‘Funky Soul Makossa‘ are also to be found. Above all, closest similarities can be drawn to the New York-raised DJ Hashim’s production. The computerised use of processed robotic vocals played a major part in the Electro scene, justifying the name of the subgenre. Collectively, this Super Rhythm Trax release just like the label aims to bring back the old school sound while ironing out the unpolished lapses of its predecessors.
Coming from his Bombing EP, the track brings the raw thud kindred to the distant cousin genre of Miami Bass. Drum loops intervene in rotation like breakbeats. The slaphappy snare drums are given room to exercise their drive. Yet, just as important to the track’s identity are the neon atmosphere created by the soundscapes. Deep analogue strings & an arpeggio that sounds like it comes from PPG Wave synthesiser, unite together to give the track its soul. In such, ‘We’re Bombing’ avoids falling into the trap of sounding like a bootleg of a rejected Robocop soundtrack compilation. Music Radar has published a breakdown of tips for creating a electro banger. It demonstrates the amount of detail is required behind the scenes. Blawan has placed his stamp of approval on Matt Whitehead’s production before, and that’s an endorsement to treasure. Continue reading →