From the first glance of the artwork to placing down the needle on the first cut the Minor Forms EP by Francis Harris generates a warm inviting feel that sure lives up to those preconceptions as the record unfolds. After a short hiatus from his house driven endeavours Francis’s returning record falls on his own outlet Scissor and Thread. The record features two originals on the A side met with a double remix by Valentino Mora on the flip.
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London outfit Berceuse Héroïque have taken little time to set the tone for the year ahead as we step into 2017. BH036 their second release of the year comes from George Thompson, aka 'Black Merlin’, who's catalogue of releases is really somewhat impressive. In this edition the spiritually provoked 4 track EP provides an array of different tones from track to track with high energy dance floor peaks yet also more down-tempo introspective lows.
Tenderloins has spent the past couple of years building his sound with releases on labels such as Sounds Of the Universe, Yoruba Records and of course his own imprint 22a. The vinyl only label was founded in 2013 alongside 4 close friends who are all affiliated to the ever growing Peckham music scene. After the success of 22a001, a split by Tenderlionious & Al Dobson Jr, the label has spent the last few years gaining momentum leading us to their first 'mini' album release.
The thing about 22a is you can never tie them down to one particular sound. This mini album showcases a range of music influences from jazz to break and afrobeat, whilst also maintaining a very contemporary deep house manner. The opening track ‘Ghana’, an afro inspired cut, sets the tone with slick shuffling rhythms, sleazy keys and of course the Tenderlonious signature flute.
Shorter tracks like 'autumn leaves', 'Oedo Bushi' and 'Dales Corner' take you down in tempo and all share similar choppy cuts and scattered drum work. However, the tracks also build tension with deep breaks and hypnotic flute lines making them perfect for the after party. Cuts B.1 (above) & B.2 have a more upbeat, hands in the air, dance floor feel. The progressive keys, ever building drums and bold chords are a nice contrast to the rest of the tracks tying the mini album together elegantly.
Cuts B.1 (above) & B.2 have a more upbeat, hands in the air, dance floor feel. The progressive keys, ever building drums and bold chords are a nice contrast to the rest of the tracks tying the mini album together elegantly.
EYE first come to light last year with her debut release ‘Your Face In Dolby’ which was issued on cassette in very limited numbers and was neatly conceptualised with a mini collage hand stamped b&w poster and booklet with lyrics included. Since then we have seen a couple of follow up releases handled in a similar fashion, however, for this 8 track debut album we are lucky enough to have something we can stick under the needle no thanks to local label Knekelhuis.
The force behind the project is French synth enthusiast Laurene Exposit. Laurene has built a reputation as someone with a great passion for 80’s synth based music and has done a great job of showcasing her diverse influences through her recent project. Based in Rennes, over the past couple of years she has been running her label 'Waving Hands Records'. The labels ethos is to promote artists from there local scene whilst digging out older, missed and forgotten names.
There is a definite sense of narrative throughout the LP, it manages to take you down into slower, dark more thought provoking spaces then knocks you back with 140 bpm’s of pure electronically fueled energy. The tracks are fused together with a distinct distorted color and along with it's gritty slick instrumentals the records an analog delight.
The title track ’Sabine’ is a trippy down-tempo number with gentle melodies and eerie french vocals, tracks like 'Harvest Heart' and 'Your so fine ' also share a very similar softer heartfelt tone. Breaking the ambience are cuts like 'Undress', 'There Is' and 'Nachtwasser' that pack a more fierce Italo meets proto-techno manner using bass filled arpeggiated synth lines and warping modulated stab notes.
The LP is finally tied together gracefully with closing track 'Soft Grey Moon'. A sweet electronic symphony with minimal drum work but layered in peaceful, warm melodies creating a dream like ambience.
When your ethos as a label is to promote unreleased or little known artists you pray to find a diamond in the rough such as TK Lawrence. Lower Manhattan born, Brooklyn raised and now residing in upstate New York, TK steps up out of nowhere to handle the second installment on Cavalier. The all vinyl Irish label takes a buzz from placing new producers into record stores for the first time.
Following the release of his second album on Minimal Wave, Danny Bosten presents 7 inches of downtempo modular madness on his own label Tear Apart Tapes. Dating back to the early 80s, Danny’s musical journey started from a bedroom studio consisting of borrowed synths where he formed Das Ding. Shortly after he started a cassette label electro outfit, Tear Apart Tapes, releasing music to sell and trade. Originally from the south of the Netherlands, Danny moved to Amsterdam where he was involved with pirate radio shows while working on obscure industrial musical projects and pursuing a career as a graphic designer. Although Danny enlightened us, he never stopped making music. It wasn't until Minimal Wave partly re-issued H.S.T.A, an album released in 1985, had his burning passion to make music become more than just a hobby once again.
In what’s been called "More or less an homage to (very) early Kraftwerk” the EP is available to buy on 7”, a format not so commonly associated with Tear Apart Tapes. As always, the record is accompanied by graphic work done by the man himself in what seems to be in honour of the machines. Take a minute to watch the music video accompanied with the A side as it provides an insight into the creative work Danny does outside of music.
The A-side ‘Nerds’ is a therapeutically repetitive, club-ready, sinister new wave journey. In its five extraordinarily minimal minutes, the track features solid but basic drums with all the punch loaded into a dominating gated snare. Its exceptionally cemented bass line carries an industrially raw sound that takes us from start to finish, accompanied at times by subtle subterranean notes which add to the lower end. Its floating synth lines and gritty guitar riff fit nicely around the centrepiece taking the track to different heights throughout, creating a feeling of being lost in time and space.
The flip side is a total contrast to the A, carrying a sort of dawning of the day feel: chirping birds with a dream-like refreshing essence. The cut starts off with a singular bass note falling into rhythm which holds the body of the track throughout. A heavily modulated square wave runs up and down its scale giving the track depth while holding the low-end together alongside the bass. Again, the track features a huge gated snare that together with the rest of the drums brings a consistency much like, and linking nicely back into, the A side; simply does it. The comments regarding the homage to very early Kraftwerk are definitely more apparent on the B-side, which are displayed in a spectacular fashion.
Alongside people like Flemming Dallum and Greg Wilson you are another
artist whose work in the 80’s is being relived and opening the door to
possible new musical adventures. After nearly 20 years how are you
enjoying it and did you ever think you could be in this position?
I like it, of course, it's great. It's like, lots of people have this
nagging sensation that they should 'do something', or, you know, 'make
something', then someone comes along and says 'hey, you already did
that!'' So it feels good and certainly boosts your self-confidence. For
that I can thank Veronica Vasicka and Frans de Waard.
Minimal Wave reaching out and reissuing part of H.S.T.A. alongside some
unreleased tracks played a vital part in this. Up until then what was
your involvement with music, did you still get behind the knobs much?
I never stopped making music, played in bands, did pirate radio, made
soundscapes etc, etc.
Aside from the minimal wave releases you have also reincarnated Tear
Apart Tapes, what can we come to expect from the label in the future?
I will alternate my own tracks (on 7-inch only) with work by others.
Next up we'll do a re-issue of Les Yeux Interdits' 'Prison', which was
on a Minimal Wave 7-inch but has long since sold out.
Although you now call Rotterdam home you had previously lived here in
Amsterdam working on pirate radio shows. How was your time spent in
Amsterdam, what memories can you share and what were your reasons for
Yeah that was nice. I was sideways involved with the squatter scene, witnessed some riots, went to art school, made some good friends, was part of an artist collective called 'STORT' which did some outrageous shows. I wrote the speeches. I got a job and it moved to Rotterdam eventually, so... Now it's cancelled due to the budget cuts in cultural funding and I'm unemployed again. Never thought that 80ies-revival would be so literal!
In the last 20 years the industry has changed in many ways, the digital
era being the most significant. Although some might say things are
starting to even out slightly I’m sure you can see a massive difference.
Do you feel a need to change your approach or will you continue to let
things unfold in an organic manner?
It's good to be part of a network, whichever form it takes. I'm lucky
to have fallen in with a good crowd here in Rotterdam. Besides that,
Bandcamp is nice, Soundcloud is OK, but artists being ripped-off is a
phenomenon that will never go away I think.
That being said, how is your studio looking now compared to the early
days? Have there been many additions over the past three decades?
Things have come and gone. I like the cheaper Roland stuff, 606 and 202
and 101, those will always stay. Besides that I build a lot of modular
stuff that is slowly taking over my studio. So it's a lot bigger and
more organised than in the old days.
And finally, please leave us with a track that still to this day inspires
you to make music?
New Order's 'Ecstasy'
After releasing on the likes of Bunker, Chiwax and Boe recordings, Perseus Trax’s (Nigel Rogers) is back with a three track release on the new imprint - Secret Gang.
Nigel’s influence of late 80’s Chicago and Detroit set the back-bone of this release and is taken a step further with a modern synthetic and twisted touch.
Nightlife in Tokyo is a great Solid 4/4 track to kick things off, full of retro overlaying background synths you could imagine hearing on the intro of your favourite 80’s cop show accompanied by arpeggiated aquatic riffs which compliment the song’s wavey sound.
Mysteries (personal favourite) is a trip of its own. The driving one note bass line blends effortlessly with the overlaying breakbeat and afro inspired percussion resulting in a late night track taking your mind to dizzy new heights (especially with the cheeky haunting vocals on the breaks).
Track three takes you even further down the rabbit hole. Night terror is a squelching mash of melting acidic bass lines (very reminiscent of Josh Wink’s - I’m Talking To You) , trippy synth lines and rawkus hand claps showcasing perfectly Persues Trax’s ability of pushing his production hardware to the limit and creating almost unimaginable sounds.
Diffuse Arc is back with his fourth release on the Spanish electro label Caustica Waveform. However, this time Arc is joined by Arcanoid (previous releases on Transhuman Records) for a four track EP of pure synthetic and rhythmic joy, titled Constant Pulse.
On the A side are two very distinct tracks which take a more chilled out and relaxed approach.
A1’s “Inner Tour” provides you with a very melancholic experience wrapped up in the format of a well crafted pop song with its distinctive chord progressions, structure and floaty piano melodies and trills.
This vibe contains on the second track “School Life” which is complimented by a hard but soothing bass line and a beautifully composed piano break to build up the groove for the end of the track.
The B side carries more beef with some harder but still charming groove to help notch things up.
B1 “Set it Out” effortlessly blends that early Chicago sound with a sun bliss Miami feel complimented by the timeless melody sample ft on Omar S' - Set it out.
Finishing off the EP is “Funky Heroes”. This track is a beast of its own and can only be described as acid funk with its hard groove and brain melting acidic bass lines.
"Constant Pulse" describes this EP perfectly, it's professional but almost experimental approach to the art of the groove showcases Caustica Waveform’s growing form of quality releases.
South African born, New York-based producer Echologist isn’t messing about on his latest Lanthan.audio-released five track EP. His unflinching, invigorating tracks and the remixes that elevate them to expansive new heights make this EP a must.
The opening cut, “Dead Men Tell No Tells” pulses with an unrelenting beat that swells with rhythmic basslines and slithers of white noise. The interplay between these different tones and textures creates transcendental soundscapes that belie the mesmerising repetition of thudding, solid bass loops.
This heavy-hitter is followed by “Dusted”, which adopts a more low-key slant through throbbing, industrial bass, shuffling percussion and chromatic chimes. It’s a journey as trippy as it is unnerving, plunging the listener into mental states that force the heart to pound and mind to race.
The rest of the EP is made up of remixes that prioritise a real adrenaline overload. Deepbass takes a contemplative approach to “Dead Men Tell No Tales” by engaging with the track’s hypnotic potential to produce a compelling interpretation.
Antonio Ruscito begins his first remix in a serene vein only to build into a crushing climax of unwavering synth noise and engulfing static. His second helping, in the form of a bonus remix, centres around menacing and incessant chimes that fluctuate between background and foreground as they interact with the surrounding ambience that captivates and unsettles in equal measure.
This EP is evidence of the intoxicating exhilaration unique to Techno which will have your neurons firing on all cylinders.
Cale Parks is a percussionist and producer based out of Brooklyn, NYC whose thoughtful floor-fillers have helped him to carve out an established fanbase and unique position within electronic music, external to his day-job playing drums for Yeasayer. Released on cult record label Rothmans, who name their releases after legendary footballers, this EP sees the fiery Argentinian dynamo, Diego Maradona, taking his turn to grace a title.
Diego Maradona is an EP as progressive as it is dynamic, both in terms of its exploration of new sonic territory and its ascent from the serene to the hectic. The first track, “The Big Dust”, effortlessly blends tranquil synth sounds with thoughtful staccato piano to blur the lines between the artificial and the organic, creating soundscapes that settle and delight the listener in equal measure.
Cale Parks’ flair for percussion comes to the fore in “9G” with the interplay between rising and falling arpeggiated synths, house-inspired four-to-floor drums with shuffling hi-hats and syncopated, melancholic piano melodies developing to create textures, tones and rhythms that push the boundaries of emotional expression in his genre.
The final track “9G (Eddie C Remix)” kicks this rhythmic experimentation into overdrive, breathing new life into the original through cacophonies of shimmering cymbals and pulsing breakbeats that give way to blissful moments of calm. The highs and lows are felt much more extremely in this track, with all the features of Cale Parks’ established sound… cranked to eleven with Eddie’s fine remix work.
This is an EP that flourishes in the hard-to-define spaces in-between the lines we use to draw up boundaries in music: between artificial and organic, loud and quiet, euphoria and melancholy. Diego Maradona occupies a unique space that reminds us of the value of finding balance in life, never investing too whole-heartedly in established conventions that can be so stifling to creativity.
Check out the rest of Rothman's super squad right here.