I’m reviving an old music blog at the end of 2021?

Maybe it’s foolish, and maybe I’m the only one who misses the blog ol’ days, but I’m gonna give it a shot. I’ll be working on restoring some of the old content, though much of it was lost. If there’s interest, I’ll try to figure out how to safely share some more of the old remix sunday archives.

For now though, you can find all the label’s releases here, on bandcamp, or anywhere you listen to music these days. I’ve also still got copies of some of the old vinyl releases, and I’ve just released the first in a set of charitable cassette compilations to raise awareness about the continued [mis]use of broken windows policing methods.

Plus I’ve put together a playlists section with a handful of spotify lists that hopefully start to capture a [slightly] updated version of the moods we used to peddle. Give those a listen and a ❤ if you would be so kind. If people want me to put together soundcloud playlists, or something else, give me a holler.

– Haldan/Boody

Remix Sunday 164

“So then you’re free?” “Yes, I’m free,” said Karl, and nothing seemed more worthless than his freedom.
– Franz Kafka

Remix Sunday 163

Securing your desired username on a new app is the closest millennials and zoomers will get to owning land.
– @notsofiacoppola

True Faith / Final Cut – Take Me Away (Pinned Up Mix) (1990)
True Faith / Final Cut – Take Me Away (Pinned Up Mix) (1990)

This is one of those songs that has so many different versions, and so many people associated with it, that no one ever seems to agree on its provenance or exact history.

Remix Sunday 162
Remix Sunday 162

Those who invoke history will certainly be heard by history. And they will have to accept its verdict.
– Dag Hammarskjold

Thodén – This Codified Drift
Thodén – This Codified Drift

It was then, floating in the passivity of induced consumption, in which it became clear that this functional mechanism of time was but a codified drift. With our particular indifference to an imposed rationality, all semblance of alterity had been lost […]

Remix Sunday 161
Remix Sunday 161

If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.
– (attributed to) Florynce Kennedy

Remix Sunday 160
Remix Sunday 160

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
– Steven Wright

Kahvi Collective – Tangents
Kahvi Collective – Tangents

I remember in the Napster and Limewire days how often I’d find tracks that were mislabeled in order to mislead people into thinking they’d stumbled across the long lost Boards of Canada or Aphex Twin song, or whatever, and how hard my young ears would have to work to discern if these were in fact […]

Remix Sunday 159
Remix Sunday 159

Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.
– Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot)

Donna Missal – (to me) your face is love
Donna Missal – (to me) your face is love

Donna Missal, who recently put out the best work of her career – an excellent EP produced by Sega Bodega – was dropped by Harvest/UMG shortly after the EP’s release. Subsequently, she posted to twitter a good encapsulation of how preexisting economic privilege is often the most potent ingredient for music industry success: Nepotism and […]

Remix Sunday 158
Remix Sunday 158

Empathy–not squishy self-serving conflict avoidance–is the hand-maiden, not the enemy, of reason and intellectual inquiry.
– Ta-Nehisi Coates

House of Venus – Dish & Tell (Bitch Mix)(1990)
House of Venus – Dish & Tell (Bitch Mix)(1990)

Venus absorbs and tempers the masculine essence, uniting the masculine and feminine in mutual affection. She is assimilative and benign, born of sea foam, a charm, a magic philtre. You’ve no doubt heard this Loleatta Holloway-sampling 1990 classic by the polyonymous Dutch trio composed of Eddy de Clercq, Gert van Veen, and Erik van Putten. […]

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  • Wil Bolton – Null Point

    Wil Bolton is an East London-based artist who’s been releasing textural ambient music for the past fifteen years. His latest album is Null Point, out on The Slow Music Movement. It continues Bolton’s focus on found sound, granularity, and deliberate melodic gradation; however, where much of his previous work has been less concerned with rhythmic elements, this record makes liberal use of organic percussive elements, apparently some of which were sampled from an old 7″ of sounds of the human heart. While these thuds, rumbles, and clanks are present throughout the album’s six songs, it would be inaccurate to describe this as a rhythmically focused record; it’s not. The foci in each song are without doubt the meandering and intersecting melodic lines, and the carefully carved sounds delivering those patterns.

    When the label sent me the record, it referenced Boards of Canada in its press release. That’s always a surefire way to get me to pay attention (I’m one of those who wakes up at least a couple times a month wondering if BoC will ever release again), but when I listened to Null Point, I didn’t hear the reference at first. But I was drawn in nonetheless, and after a few listens, I think I hear the connection. I found myself thinking about Null Point as what it might sound like if the brothers Sandison/Eoin got really into Norwegian Slow TV, or perhaps my personal favorite youtube channel, Kand Hayati (sometimes the only thing that can get my toddler to calm down). I suppose this is a particularly fitting reference, given the name of the label releasing Null Point, but I swear it’s really true. Some of Bolton’s synth patches feel like a shimmering suspended BoC line was taken and timestretched, then chopped, resampled, and reshaped into a pluck or a stab, and then sequenced into a delicate dulcet melody. But where there is often the presence of anxiety in the Edinburgh duo’s music, Bolton seems to have shed that while maintaining all of their penchant for nostalgia. Like if a gazing out the window on a rainy autumn morning was simply replaced by a summer afternoon nap in the backyard under a cherry tree.

    You can find the album for streaming all over, or for purchase on bandcamp (support the artist, do the latter).

  • Mailbox: Haven – I Write Music For Those Who’ve Never Been In Love

    Haven is a singer-songwriter from New York, and she’s current with I Write Music For Those Who’ve Never Been In Love, her second EP, following 2023’s Panacea and a string of singles before that. The record is unabashedly pop, but sits comfortably among the new class of pop and R&B artists choosing uptempo double time UK production styles over the weathered half-time quasi-trap stuff that’s been unavoidable for over a decade.

    The lead single on I Write… is “Better Run”—a pearly two-step romper that evokes early Shygirl records. Vocally, Haven seems to be embracing her youth and femininity, with a lilting cadence that often sits near-falsetto. Lyrically, it seems at first as if Haven is treading familiar woman scorned territory, with a simple chorus in which she repeats simply “you got me missing you” and describes a lover who never really appreciated her (“you never liked me / never thought highly of my face”). But the second verse takes a darker turn, with Haven’s character revealed to be more vengeful than the song’s pink champagne mood would first have indicated. “Don’t run from what you’ve done / I hope your life turns into dust, pass me the knife, this is getting fun” Haven croons, with what one can only suspect is a twinkle in her eye.

    At first blush, Haven comes off as an artist exploring largely straightforward pop, but with a little interrogation, it becomes clear she’s seeking to imbue her music with more than just the conventional female pop narratives, and trying to imagine herself in the shoes of characters with richer emotional lives. That creative modesty is worth attention. I look forward to hearing what she does next.

    I Write Music For Those Who’ve Never Been In Love isn’t available on bandcamp, unfortunately, but you can stream it at all the usual outlets, which you can access here.

    Haven – “Better Run” (sc)

    (Expand)

    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Flex Ariani & Lacy – Tension / Neck

    Flex Ariani and Lacy are both artists from Greensboro, NC. They’re current with this white label maxi, the first release on Less Than Family, a DIY imprint meant to act as a vehicle for the output of a collective of musicians (most based on the East Coast) of which both artists are a part.

    A-side “Tension” lives up to its name perfectly. It’s a patient half-time roller centered around larger-than-life sub and a disembodied voice telling us what’s what. It’s a great example of how a minimalist quasi-drop can be so much more rewind-worthy than a drop that goes big. “Neck” is on the flip, and it’s likely the more versatile tool of the two: a shuffling bit of mongrel UKG with choppy reptilian vocals and appropriately clattering percussion.

    Both tracks (but particularly the A-side) are perfect examples of understated modern dubstep that’s low-end-focused and mid-range avoidant, out at a time when many of the genre’s originators are returning to their old styles in force. It’s really refreshing to see a new generation of artists embracing the elements of dubstep that made it so exciting when it first emerged, before it was co-opted by the EDM machine and maximal-ized for its midrange–and often middling—big room potential. All that midrange wobble worked fine to shred the fuck out of the open air in a stadium, but what was lost was all that wonderful greasy viscous sub, and the power it had to fully engulf a human-sized audience in a well filled basement. That’s not to say there isn’t a role for the shreddy midrange wobble, or that the Skreams of the world shouldn’t strive to fill giant venues with dubstep heads old and new, “real” and “bros” alike. It’s just even more encouraging to me that those events are coinciding with a new wave of producers warming up to the sultrier side of what was once the most ambrosial club genre around. If this single is any indication, Flex Ariani and Lacy—and the Less Than Family crew in general—deserve our continued attention going forward.

    Tension / Neck is available on bandcamp, so go support the artists there. Or for those of you more inclined towards streaming, both songs can be found at all the usual outlets.

    Flex Ariani & Lacy – “Tension” (sc)

    Flex Ariani & Lacy – “Neck” (sc)

  • Hidetoshi Koizumi – Number Face

    Number Face is the new album from Tokyo and Paris-based composer Hidetoshi Koizumi. Koizumi is better known as Hybrid Leisureland, the pseudonym under which he released music between the years of 2007 and 2021, at which point he shifted to using his real name. The new album—his second under his real name—follows closely his previous work, and is primarily concerned with the intersection of serene texture and minimalist, hyper-intricate programming. Over the course of the album’s seventy-five minutes, on songs like “Finale” and “Illusion in Illusion,” Koizumi coasts gently across the tranquil waters of carefully laid pad washes, disturbed only by the delicate insect-wing flutters of serial clicks and blips. He moves from the near-neo-classical territory of “Clowns” and “Second Delight” to songs like “Phantom” and “Misalignment” that almost feel like highly restrained takes on dub techno.

    Koizumi describes Number Face as an exercise in “express[ing] a sympathy with the various movements of the human heart; the thoughts, feelings, and concerns of our daily lives.” This sentiment feels realized here. After a few listens, I found myself hearing the record as the soundtrack of everyday people completing their activities of daily living, if perhaps at times at both lethargic and manic paces. On “Second Delight” I can picture the overworked parent frantically vacuuming their house as soon as they’ve arrived home from work, before rushing to get dinner prepared; “Snow Tiger” could be the soundtrack of someone soaking in the tub until they prune; “Judge” could be the song you hear when you catch someone’s eye for a couple of seconds too long on the street; album closer “So Was Red” could be just for someone eating a meal alone with their thoughts.

    These daily mundanities are easily overlooked, but they carry with them most of our feelings and thoughts, whether fleeting or concrete. As is the case with much of his previous work, Koizumi seems willing to treasure these moments, in lieu of focusing on the more melodramatic or visceral. The result is a record that at first blush is placid, but upon more thoughtful reflection is full of insight into everyday living, the kind of record that can keep you company while keeping you even-keeled — one that doesn’t feed on your agita or lull you to sleep.

    Number Face is available now on all streaming services, and for purchase on bandcamp.

    Hidetoshi Koizumi – “Phantom” (bc)

    Hidetoshi Koizumi – “Illusion in Illusion” (bc)

    Hidetoshi Koizumi – “Judge” (bc)

  • Astrid Sonne – Great Doubt

    Do you wanna have a baby?
    Do you wanna bring people into this world?

    Hope battles doom on Danish composer Astrid Sonne‘s new LP Great Doubt. It’s fair to feel trapped in this tension. There’s so much in the world to be in awe of, and so much simple beauty by which to be captured. But we’re also inundated with information that rightly ought to make us doubt our collective futures, and in turn would make most artists seeking sincerity or posterity to doubt themselves. Sonne puts these contradictions on plain display on her new record, and in doing so, gives the impression of utter confidence–anything but great doubt.

    Sonne’s previous three records were largely instrumental; confluences of heady and often futuristic sound design and measured instrumentation. They were all terribly beautiful at times, but also sometimes bearish. They gave a sense of Sonne as thoughtful and self-aware, but maybe also a touch self-conscious or unfeeling. There were previous glimpses of something else among those records too — Cliodynamic‘s “To Change Is To Continue”, outside your lifetime‘s “Withdrawal”, or Human Lines‘s “Alta” were all moments that made me sure something much more fluid was at work beneath all the virtuosity.

    The new record is so much looser than its predecessors, and it’s wonderful for it. Most obvious is the addition of Sonne’s words; they appear on much of Great Doubt, and they’re almost all full of such a welcoming tender unpretentiousness and intimacy. But I also get the impression that Sonne has become unwilling to hide behind a complicated sound palette. The sound design across the album is skeletal, and at times, almost naive in its simplicity (at least when compared to her previous work). This is a ruse, I think — there’s still plenty of care put into these sounds, but I think that’s mostly just a product of Sonne’s skill in getting at the essence of the recipe, no longer overworking the ingredients. I believe she just had the confidence on this record to let the sounds serve the songs, and not obfuscate her feelings with overthinking.

    Great Doubt is out now on Escho. You can purchase it on bandcamp, or find it for streaming anywhere.

    Astrid Sonne – “Do You Wanna” (bc)

    Astrid Sonne – “Boost” (bc)

  • boerd & Boko Yout – All My Life

    I was fourteen when Massive Attack’s Mezzanine was released, and like many, I bought it at first sight—for that album cover—despite not yet knowing what trip hop was. At that point in my life, I would typically go to my local Tower Records after school to try to find hiphop records I didn’t already have—it wasn’t usually a fruitful task. Even though the genre was fully ubiquitous by that point, mainstream outlets still did pretty terribly to hide their implicit (or explicit) bias against the genre. (And no need to pretend race and class weren’t a big part of that.) Similarly, despite being a huge store with plenty of room for experimentation, Tower wasn’t actively featuring many import records either. But I’m super thankful to whoever the Tower employee was who decided Mezzanine was a worthy record to put on a display rack — I doubt I’d have noticed it otherwise. Because of that discovery (and learning about the existence of Fat Beats a few weeks later), my tastes took a sharp left turn and my life was changed.

    This song by Swedes boerd and Boko Yout (Bård Ericson and Paul Adamah, respectively) is an unambiguous callback to the records of that era. I’m certainly not alone in recognizing trip hop’s quiet return to relevance, but I suspect I’m also not the only one who righteously continued listening to the genre throughout its colder years. It seems to me a sign of being well-adjusted to periodically make room for listening to the milestone records of one’s youth, if for no other reason than to put one’s teen angst in some perspective—and maybe to recognize where a more critical ear would have been deserved in the first instance.

    Boko Yout’s vocals here—particularly in the verses—can’t avoid some comparison to Daddy G’s gravely timbre, but boerd’s production doesn’t strike my ears as particularly close to the lineage of the genre’s more ubiquitous torchbearers, like Massive Attack or Portishead. Consistent with much of his earlier work, boerd’s beat is markedly less ominous or grim compared to those acts. It’s lighter; and that’s not a bad thing. The drums and use of scratching evoke something closer to the open breakbeat style of a Nightmares on Wax record. The walking bassline feels more like Morcheeba. And the pop sensibility of the songwriting and its key feels almost like something Sneaker Pimps would have written. These are all references to be plenty proud of too—trip hop wasn’t all utter darkness, it had its hopeful moments too.

    Unfortunately for all you iPod revivalists, this isn’t on bandcamp (yet), so for now you’ll need an LTE signal to stream this on your commute.

    boerd & Boko Yout – All My Life (sc)

  • nevereven – Cautionary Tale (To Those Who Will Listen)

    “Idaho” is make-believe. Commonly misattributed to the Shoshone or Nez Pearce, the word was the 1860 invention of a delegate of the Jefferson Territory, who proposed its use as the name of the state that eventually became known as Colorado. Instead, it was adopted as the name of a steamboat that transported the thousands of miners up the Columbia river and its tributaries to the gold mines that were springing up in the Clearwater area of what later became the state of Idaho. That Jefferson delegate intended the word to mean “gem of the mountains” — so its adoption by miners was fitting, and it’s probably also the reason Idaho is nicknamed the “Gem State.”

    The state isn’t well known for its music, but the way Lucy Dacus of boygenius tells it, Idahoans don’t want to be known for much, for fear that word gets out about just how beautiful the state is. Nonetheless, I can’t help but feel like there’s something bubbling up there. A few weeks ago I covered the immaculate dungeon synth of Boise’s Viscount and Brutus Greenshield, and that’s definitely the first time I’ve ever clocked any electronic music from the state, much less music so imaginative. So it feels like it can’t be a coincidence that I found another artist from the area releasing equally inventive ambient and experimental music.

    nevereven is Dylan Seibert, from Star, ID—a 5000-pop suburb of Boise. He’s a young artist who’s recently self-released his debut LP Cautionary Tale (To Those Who Will Listen). To take a clumsy stab at categorization, I might say the record sits somewhere in the universes of hauntology, hypnogogic pop, and vaporwave, but none of that quite captures the starkness of most of its songs. Seibert admits an interest in plunderphonics, so references to 0PN or sunsetcorp wouldn’t be altogether inaccurate. Lopatin often shines in his insistence on recontextualizing the goofy and saccharine, but on songs with absurdist titles like “A Honeybee That Poops Out Dinosaurs” or “Stumbling Upon A Chasm That Leads To The Fourth Circle Of Hell”, Seibert’s outlook on fatuous subject matter seems decidedly darker—and the product feels immediately vulnerable as a result. This isn’t to say that he doesn’t wear some of his influences on his sleeve, but this music still feels sincerely exploratory.

    Maybe adventure is what best captures the Idaho sound, if there is such a thing (I’m deciding there is, even if lacking any union). It’s probably reductive to say that 35 million beautiful acres of public land must inspire quests, even imaginary ones; or that little to no attention or scene-iness must reduce the pressure on artists to conform to a specific aesthetic. But I just can’t shake the sense that acts like nevereven are seeking out only what feels right and not presupposing the result. This spirit of exploration is almost literally captured by the foghorns and time-stretched accordions of the album’s closing track, “Voyager’s Lament”, but its implication is inescapable throughout the record.

    Maybe it’s best to forget everything I’ve said about a nascent Idaho scene and let the Idahoans to themselves. Any way you cut it though, this record is a gem.

    nevereven – “A Honeybee That Poops Out Dinosaurs” (bc)

    nevereven – “Idle Soul and the Tale of the Crying Machine” (bc)

    nevereven – “Stumbling Upon A Chasm That Leads to the Fourth Circle of Hell”

    nevereven – “Voyager’s Lament” (bc)

  • Amy Godsey – Regions of Resonance

    My cables are falling apart
    I don’t know why
    I didn’t do anything wrong

    I’ve written about Amy Godsey before–she’s an LA-based artist exploring a largely instrumental sort of gently tactile semi-ambient synth music. Where her newest record, Ananta (which I wrote about previously) attempts to reflect the freedom of nature in its chaos and complexity, her 2020 album Regions of Resonance is more concrete and cerebral. This is likely indicative of Godsey’s divergent circumstances at the times the albums were written. Ananta emerged while Godsey traversed the American wilderness in the aftermath of the death of her best friend. Regions of Resonance, on the other hand, is the work of someone toiling to survive in New York. My home town is glamorous and beautiful, no doubt, but it also has a way of forcing people into their heads and asking them to sharpen themselves to a fine point.

    The results are no less effective. Indeed, some listeners will connect more with songs as tightly and carefully wound as “Geenie in a Bootle” or “Eustatheia”—or as metallic and cement-like as the album’s title track—than they would the more loosely emotive and meandering fare of Ananta. I can’t help but picture Godsey writing some of these songs in her head as she sits on a crowded train commuting home later than she should have had to.

    None of this is to say that the album is morose or sullen. New York is a grind, but it’s also full of possibility. Godsey’s exasperated vocal lamentations on “A Cable Called Blue” encapsulate this tension well. Sure, New Yorkers may be trapped in internal struggle, and may feel like the City is unfairly casting its weight on them alone, but they’re often equally able to fall in love with each of its tiny unclaimed corners and feel like the whole town belongs only to them. For all it takes from us, the City inspires us to energize. The two-track sequence of distorted siren calls on “Honey” quickly leading into the electricity and determination of “Reverie” reflects this tension elegantly.

    Godsey evidently understood the city she spent eight years in, and I imagine that like many who leave it (myself included) she probably misses it a lot of the time. After stretching to meet its vibration, it becomes hard to ever feel quite as virile or fierce once you’ve left. But the evolution between Godsey’s two records also serves as evidence that New Yorkers (including long-term transplants like Godsey) may well better enjoy the opportunity to loosen their belts outside of the pressure cooker. And that relaxed enjoyment can also be the catalyst for greater openness and more honest self-expression.

    Amy Godsey – “Geenie in a Bootle” (bc)

    Amy Godsey – “A Cable Called Blue”

    Amy Godsey – “Eustatheia”

    Amy Godsey – “Regions of Resonance”

  • Viscount – Divine Points

    Viscount is a project by a man named Eric, based in Boise, Idaho. This is music most simply categorized as ambient music, but it’s not for the background. This is stuff most concerned with how palette and structure can tell an actual story; how modern music can exist in the context of myth.

    Do you recall the ‘dungeon synth’ micro genre that emerged in the 90s from Kosmische and Black Metal? Well while I wasn’t paying attention, the genre quietly flourished, and Eric seems to have been part of some of that over the past decade or so. Eric is half of Brutus Greenshield, whose records you ought to check out too. Their work is probably more easily identifiable as dungeon synth than Viscount’s solo material, but neither is by any means the kind of harpsichord-driven medieval cosplay that some 90s metal kids might remember when they hear that term.

    Viscount’s 2022 LP, Divine Points, is less overt in its stylistic references than the Brutus Greenshield material. There’s a subtle vein of pre-baroque dungeony-type aesthetic that gets revealed at times throughout the record, but largely this is not kitsch music whatsoever. To the extent those references do appear (and I’m not knocking them when they do), they feel like a sincere expression of Eric’s personal sensibilities.

    Viscount is a project that succeeds in crafting something sincerely escapist. I don’t throw around the term cinematic lightly, especially when I’m writing about ambient or ambient-adjacent music, but Divine Points really scratches the same itch for me that a good film would.

    Divine Points is available for whatever you’d like to pay on bandcamp, so no excuse not to go grab it there. Apparently new music is due in the spring.

    Viscount – “Cirrus” (bc)

    Viscount – “I Saw How the Planets Gathered” (bc)

  • Mailbox: omniboi – Panorama

    omniboi is a Los Angeles-based producer and composer, originally from Arizona. He rose to some prominence in 2016-17 with a viral video in which he married a Migos acapella with Nintendo-jazz-chic chords, followed soon after by a string of notable singles and albums. He’s current with a new EP, Panorama, out now on Canadian powerhouse label and management group, Nettwerk.

    After listening to a few songs from Panorama, it won’t be hard to gather that this is music heavily inspired by video game culture. But it’s not really 8-bit or chiptune. Instead, songs like “Ghost Town, USA” or “Marathon” feel distinctly 64-bit, and would fit right in on an N64 of Wii score. Music from that era of Nintendo games was deeply charming; these songs carry much of that charm because they’re so clearly the product of omniboi’s sincere love for that music.

    Nevertheless, I’d say omni is strongest when approaching the less overtly video game-inspired fare on the record. The EP’s lead track “Set Apart” (featuring vocalist Dona) and “Omni-Vision” (featuring nelward) both temper the rubber and sodapop aesthetic that omni’s most comfortable in with a touch of red leather and champagne. Neither would be out of place in the context of a late aughts fluokids party in Paris where the DJ was playing nothing but French Touch and bloghaus. None of that is to say these are stuffy songs only for millennials either—they’re not—they just seem aimed at a broader audience. (I caught my two-year-old absent-mindedly shaking her stuff to “Set Apart,” and babies don’t lie, so that might also tell you something.)

    Ultimately, Panorama is omniboi continuing to write the kind of music he loves, but there’s also evidence he might be eager to see his music working a few more dancefloors.

    Panorama is out now. Grab it on bandcamp or stream it anywhere streams are sold.

    omniboi – “Set Apart” ft. Dona (sc)

    omniboi – “Marathon” (sc)

    (Expand)

    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Mailbox: D-Nite – Echoes

    Many people don’t think of Belgium as a place with a rich history of contributions to dance music. Some may only recall 2 Unlimited’s 1993 masterpiece “No Limit” or Technotronic’s classic “Pump Up The Jam”–both of which were extremely formative for me when I heard them as a little kid. Maybe others associate the country with groundbreakers like Soulwax/2manydjs, who are indeed Belgian and not French. The country is no doubt overlooked, despite the fact that Belgians have been raving since before raving was raving, and essentially birthed genres like EBM. But despite its significant contributions, Beligum’s proximity to its northern neighbors means its sound is generally associated with eurodance, gabber, and industrial influences.

    For his new EP Echoes, Belgian producer D-Nite (real name Kevin Dodeur) certainly draws on his country’s history, but leaves most of those typical associations behind, instead opting to deliver a record full of strong global influence and tempo-shifting adventurism. From the rapid-fire kuduro of “Late Night Tale” to the tablas loops of “Calming Mantra” and the chopped jazz rides of “Stuck in a Dream” — Dodeur clearly embraces the breakbeat, but won’t be limited to overreliance on American JB production or UK Amens. (Not to be accused of leaving anyone out though, Dodeur does throw in a few bars of the Think break on the EP’s title track.) Dodeur is a committed travel guide on this record, insisting that the listener follow him around the world from party to party. But it’s a great trip, so who would complain?

    Echoes is out now on Fine Grains records, purchase it on bandcamp now, or stream it wherever you do that sort of thing.

    D-NITE – “Late Night Tale” (bc)

    D-NITE – “Echoes” (bc)

  • Morris Cowan – Notes

    When I got back to the studio with the recording I was satisfied with how it rattled along to all the synths be they smouldering or fully ablaze, the feeling of smoke billowing, whipped up in the air.

    I tell myself all sorts of stories. Sometimes doing so may be in an effort to protect myself, sometimes to cut myself down. Honesty—including honest self reflection—is a noble goal, but we also need to nurture our own fantasy worlds. Without building those internal structures, how do we make sense of ourselves and our feelings? Without imagining what we might want, or what we need, how can we ever achieve anything–or at least how can we feel satisfied once we’ve achieved something?

    On his latest album Notes, Cornwall’s Morris Cowan definitely gets at that comforting ‘writing electronic music in the forest’-type sound that you sometimes hear on a James Holden or Nathan Fake record. The song titles and cover art would imply that was the intention, or even the process. Or maybe, considering all the winds on the Cornwall coast keep forests from taking root, this is music for the rocky green expanse. In any case, this kind of intimacy is elusive for most composers of electronic music. Cowan describes some of the sound sources for the songs on the record: recordings of a cacophonous working wool loom he visited on the Isle of Mull, a 1990s Mattel toy drum machine, found-sound recorded by tapping sticks against trees. But for all of this field recording, it’s the songwriting and synthesis that give these songs most of their tenderness.

    Grab Morris Cowan’s Notes on bandcamp now, or find it anywhere to stream.

    Morris Cowan – “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” (sc)

    Morris Cowan – “Toasting Marshmallows As The World Burns” (sc)

    Morris Cowan – “Boss Music” (sc)

  • Mailbox: RiDylan – Switch 8

    I consistently get the sense that Canadians are underappreciated as producers of electronic music. Sure, a few of them get plenty of well-deserved credit as the groundbreakers they are—looking at you Plastikman, Tiga, A-trak. And even in recent years, deserving folks like Kaytranada and Jacques Greene have made more than respectable careers for themselves. But I’m always amazed that for a country of only ~35 million people, there is such a high concentration of talent up there. This feels especially true with respect to technical prowess. A lot of the producers I run across from north of the border just have major fucking chops.

    RiDylan (real name Dylan Gauthier) is one of those producers. For well over a decade, he’s been releasing music that lives somewhere in the universe between breakcore, jungle, acid, and glitch. Notably, in 2019 he released what appears to have been the next-to-final record on Jason Forrest’s Cock Rock Disco imprint–a real brain-melter collection of fucked up ravey junglism (check that release here).

    Gauthier’s latest release, a five-track EP called Switch 8, still exists in the universe he’s inhabited over the years, but some of the ebullient rave chaos of past releases has been replaced by more of an icy refinement. This is exemplified by a song like “Eternal Minutes” — a stripped-back 150+bpm electro number with tightly EQ’d drums underpinning a bitcrushed acid bassline and a meandering glassy sine wave pattern–who knew a bitcrusher could be used so carefully? The record’s opener, “Balaclava Clouds” also demonstrates how Gauthier is saying something new using familiar tools. The amen break reprogramming is as detailed and complicated as anything he’s produced in the past, but instead of piling mayhem atop the sturm und drang, here the 303 isn’t much more than a single triplet squelch that automates in and out of audibility. Save for the breakbeat kaleidoscope and minimalist acid licks, the track is just a huge cloud of bells and pads. These may sound like simple changes to have made, but capitalizing on the contrast of these disparate elements–and delivering each with such care–ends up functioning as an effective way to communicate a set of nuanced emotions instead of just fire and brimstone or all-out-rave.

    The other three songs on the record are admittedly more reminiscent of Gauthier’s breakcore past–including an absolutely frenzied remix to close out the record by Osaka legend Laxenanchaos. But despite all the breakbeat havoc, these last three still demonstrate an evolution. Even the Laxenanchaous remix elegantly winds itself down in the final minute of the EP from disarray to relative simplicity, ending with a few seconds of what sounds like a field recording of children playing on the street, set to a Vangelis score.

    Gauthier is making music as energetic as ever, but his palette–both sonically and emotionally–is expanding to include subtler shades between all of the primaries.

    RiDylan – “Balaclava Cloud” (bc)

    RiDylan – “Eternal Minutes” (bc)

    RiDylan – Turbocide (Laxenanchaos Remix) (bc)

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    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Solbore – Seemingly Magic Things

    Solbore – “Seemingly Magic Things”

    Tectonic plates move because they’re dragged along as the molten mantle flows beneath them. The mantle flows because of convection currents created by the heat of the Earth’s core. The earth’s core is hot because it’s full of radioactive elements in a state of perpetual decay.

    If the first half of this song sounds like anything identifiable, it’s probably some part of that process. Maybe the crush of the plates colliding; or the drag as they slip off the mantle; or the hyper-rapid boil of the heavy metals in the core; or maybe the embodiment of decay itself. After three minutes of all that heat, the song gives way to a kobyz solo that feels like water pouring into the tectonic gash, eventually petering off like steam disappearing into the atmosphere.

    From Brighton-based Czech/Argentinian producer Solbore, from his yet-released album, Never Alone, Often Lonely (out in Febrary). I’ve also selected another prerelease piece that features one of my favorite artists of the past few years, Varsity Star (I wrote about him last year)–a much sweeter affair, but no less compelling.

    Preorder Never Alone, Often Lonely on bandcamp, or stream the singles all over.

    Solbore – “Seemingly Magic Things” ft. Inwards, Neil Cosgrove, Lachlan R. Dale, Nurbolat Kadyrbayev (bc)

    Solbore – “Back in Time” ft. Varsity Star (bc)

  • Mailbox: Ainonow – Exile

    Ainonow – “Exile” ***Photosensitivity warning***

    Ainonow, real name Kyle Kroeck, is a Boston-based artist seeking to provide catharsis to his listeners. He aims to do this through razor-precise sound design at high tempos. He says he wants his music to allow listeners to embrace their dark sides–recognizing that darkness is part of being human–meanwhile providing a healthy and comforting space to channel those feelings. It’s not so often you hear this kind of emotional ambition from an artist working at the harder fringes of stateside Drum & Bass. And I’ll admit, I’m overall pretty cautious about dipping my toes into the vat of US bass music that includes Neuro, Mainline, and US-breaks. That stuff has just never been my bag. Above 160bpm, I’m just usually far more partial to the UK stuff: the grit and tangle of Jungle, the silkiness of old school Liquid.

    But credit where credit is due, Ainonow is using some of the conventions of those US sub-genres to make something truly refined. This is incredibly intricately programmed music, with an impressive amount of patience and a refreshing lack of reliance on the standard build up+drop+breakdown/repeat structure. This is without doubt music for the dancefloor, but for all that the basslines may growl, they never stay in one place for long or quite repeat themselves. And those drums sound less like the lonely loopy staccato of typical D&B drum programming, and more as if someone spiked a marching band’s gatorade with adderall and convinced them the floor was lava. It’s refreshing to hear this level of thoughtful experimentation in this kind of packaging, especially from a producer so clearly concerned about how his music affects people emotionally. Big pad breakdowns, 90s nostalgia, ePiC dRoPs, and massive over-compression aren’t the only ways for an American bass music producer to coax strong feelings from people, and Ainonow is evidence of that.

    Ainonow is current with two-tracker Exile. Grab it on bandcamp for free, or steam it on your outlet of choice.

    Ainonow – “Exile” (sc)

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    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Mailbox: Amy Godsey – Ananta

    In pursuit of expressing and preserving nature

    Amy Godsey is a musician and apparel designer currently based in Los Angeles. Her latest album Ananta was written in the wake of loss: her best friend died, COVID exploded, and she left New York with just a suitcase and “no plans except to head west.” Despite the tumult of a time like that, Ananta isn’t sad or even what I’d call an exploration of grief exactly, but it does seem to reflect what Godsey was experiencing in its emotional ambivalence. It has an aimless quality about it, as if it was made as a cautious exercise in exploring newly available freedom. Songs and titles like “No Plans” address this notion most squarely, but a song like “Should I Meet You” expresses this peregrination best through a gently bubbling tomtom pattern that you can never quite catch hold of, sitting safely under a constantly undulating harp that keeps intersecting itself and occasionally collapses under the weight of its delay. Godsey is following her nose, letting the process dictate the result.

    Ananta has its more straightforward moments too, no doubt; songs like “Mental Vibrations” and “Heartless in the Sea” rest on grounded drum machine patterns and riffs that feel familiar. But Godsey seems most lucid when she lets down these guardrails and allows the mess to spill out more. The album is strongest at its most meandering.

    That’s not to say this is messy music; to the contrary, it’s meticulous music that–despite its reliance on electronic instruments–seems intended to address nature, both floral and faunal (and human). Nature is chaotic too, for all its perfection and beauty. This dichotomy is reflected on a song like “Windy”, which vacillates between breezy cascades of sine waves and the near-disconcerting babble of what sounds sort of like a digital didgeridoo. This subject matter is no coincidence. When Godsey left New York, she didn’t land in LA right away. The album was written while she was nomadic, living alone surrounded by wilderness. Ananta bottles some of the inspiration and serenity of that kind of setting, but also some of its danger. It’s freeing to breathe in cold forest air, but there are beasts out there too.

    Amy Godsey – “Windy” (bc)

    Amy Godsey – “Heartless in the Sea” (bc)

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    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Mailbox: Dawn Chorus – Parallel Realities

    You might be familiar with the concept of a dawn chorus — the euphony caused by birds’ morning mating and flock return calls. It’s also a term that refers to a naturally occurring electromagnetic phenomenon that occurs shortly after sunrise as a result of energized electrons entering into the inner magnetosphere, which–when converted into audio–sounds an awful lot like the avian dawn chorus.

    Perhaps the natural similarity of these homonymous concepts, and their shared pleasance, make the concept ripe for exploration by musicians. Indeed some fabulous ones have dedicated songs and albums to the idea (e.g., Jacques Greene, Boards of Canada, Thom Yorke, Jon Hopkins, Beth Orton, to name just a few). But Greg Jung, a producer based in Baltimore, has made the Dawn Chorus his name. According to Jung, the project is a celebration of a sense of newly opened doors following several years of self-doubt and writer’s block. It’s fitting, then, that the project is named after two of nature’s early morning rebirth cycles.

    The song that speaks most directly to this sense of a.m. optimism is fittingly titled “Sunbeams” — a skittering wake up call that rests on pillowy pads. That song, as well as the lead single “Changes,” and ultimately all of Jung’s new EP, Parallel Realities, definitely shares stylistic references with the other artists mentioned above who have also been fascinated by the concept of the dawn chorus. Particularly, you’ll hear the instant nostalgia of BoC-style tape warble throughout, and a reasonable dose of jagged Yorke-influenced drum programming. A respectable, if early, rebirth for an artist who claims to never have really let himself open up until now. We should all try to muster the courage to spread our wings and join the chorus.

    Parallel Realities is the new EP from Dawn Chorus. Purchase it on bandcamp. “Changes” is also available separately for download as a pay-what-you-wish.

    Dawn Chorus – “Sunbeams” (bc)

    Dawn Chorus – “Changes” (bc)

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    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Mailbox: darkDARK – Ghost Complex

    darkDARK is Genevieve Vincent and Chris James, the former based in LA, the latter in Austin.

    Ghost Complex is their latest album, a sci-fi concept record about a pair of AI living in a post-human world, grappling with the choice between creation and replication, forced to confront the ambiguity of sentience. Humans left them a set of songs, designed as fables, so that the pair might recreate civilization in humanity’s image. The central question is whether will they accept their role as custodians of the past or choose to become architects of their own future?

    Societal AI OD aside, this is a resonant question for us humans too. Do we use our energy to focus on doing something truly original, or do we accept we are products of our influences and make the most of that? I live primarily in the second camp. I expect Vincent and James do too. The album is delicate and beautiful, but also doesn’t seem to shy away from honoring its stylistic inspiration. Getting too specific with genre or reference points–when we’re ultimately dealing with pop music–is maybe a touch superfluous, but for me, Ghost Complex sits somewhere between the gauzy UK and Scandinavian trip-pop of the late 90s and early aughts, and a minimalist strain of blade runner revivalism; plus probably also with a dose of the graceful quality of a record like Chairlift’s Moth.

    Notwithstanding the satisfying chunk of the bass on songs like “Cult” and “Petals”, darkDARK are best at their most gossamer. Album opener “Face With No Name” is the one that gets me the best. Vincent’s vocal delivery skips over the air, playing carefully with the bed of Rhodes beneath it. The shared fx on both elements automates exquisitely until you’re not quite sure what’s what. It’s all nicely suggestive of the album’s concept of a pair of machines wondering whether to emulate or separate from humans.

    This is high-concept stuff, sure, but far more importantly, the album is really easy on the ears. No bandcamp for this, unfortunately, so go find it on streaming services.

    darkDARK – “Face With No Name” (sc)

    darkDARK – “Cult” (sc)

    darkDARK – “We Had Everything” (sc)

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    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Mailbox: Hot Spoon, Cold Mango – Paws on Ears

    Sometime about 20,000 years ago, a wiry-haired and very hungry pack of descendants of the Miacis decided collectively that they should brave a plea for help from those strange smooth creatures with the strong rumps and weak shoulders. They’d been following these hairless beasts for some time, subsisting on what was left behind in or near piles of burning embers. But with an unexpected glut of healthy members having arrived in the spring, the pack needed more. The alphas of this particular pack were unique in that they were somehow capable of more than brute force; they knew how to demonstrate leadership of a more nuanced sort, the kind that centers strength derived from affection and protection, not only violence.

    These canids were the first to tie themselves to the fate of humans. A few thousand years later, when men and women had stopped moving constantly, and built cities perfect for the proliferation of pest, small wildcats took the cue, and decided to set up shop too. Now we love these animals as family, and they love us.

    Necessity and opportunity can breed sincere connection. It’s not always so different when two people find each other.

    Hot Spoon, Cold Mango is a project from dutch-born artist Stephen Meeker, pursuing a genre he calls Motion Vision — a collage of modern classical, ambient, and post-rock. The project was born of the love between Meeker and his partner while indulging in Mango sorbet together using a spoon fresh out of the dishwasher. Despite these intimate beginnings, his latest album, Paws on Ears is lofty and conceptual; what Meeker terms as “easy listening for weary space travelers”.

    The eighteen pieces on the record aren’t characterized by any single sound or effect. From the plasticine and putty-like woodwinds of “First Dance of Eight Paws”, to the amber-from-sap pianos of “Amongst the Roots of Trees”, to the fairy-buzz chimes of “Walk to Find Trees”. A disparate collection tied together by something ephemeral, but somehow also familiar.

    Meeker describes his inspiration as rooted in his sense of his own existence. He explains that his music is an expression of his “profound lack of understanding of the world that surrounds [him]” and his desire to decipher our collective experience into something narrative. Paws on Ears does indeed strike a narrative chord, albeit an abstract one — not one that’s easily categorized. Maybe it’s that willingness to accept what he doesn’t know that gives the music its nearly-naive-but-surprisingly-complex quality. In any case, the feeling that resonates with me after a handful of listens through is simple the unconditionality of love possible between friends who need each other deeply. Symbiosis as devotion. Take that for what you will; I suspect Meeker wants the meaning to lie with the listener. Paws on Ears is out now for streaming universe-wide.

    Hot Spoon, Cold Mango – “A Beckoning Plea of a Call For Bears” (sc)

    Hot Spoon, Cold Mango – “A Cow Stands Guard Protecting Their Llamas” (sc)

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    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Mailbox: Graffiti Warfare – Revolving Shores

    As she stares into her laces, a bee buzzes and hums in her ear
    is that a tune she remembers? or is it one she should?
    Grampa used to ask her what she expected from music
    whether she thought it would fulfill her
    now as she waits for her ride, she wonders
    if the color is enough to keep her going
    whether things will change for the better or
    if the volume will continue to dim.

    Graffiti Warfare is the nom de guerre of Denver’s George Lattimore. Revolving Shores is his second album under that name. It’s an outright embrace of nostalgia, but broader in emotional scope than the work of some of his contemporaries. Nostalgia indeed, but not just for stoned teenage angst and romance, also for sharp-eyed grandparents, kite flying, and plastic cutlery.

    From the opening song, “To Be It,” which features spoken word recordings by mid-twentieth century perennialist, Alan Watts, the album feels like it must have been a really personal process for Lattimore. I was quick to want to characterize the record as intimate and wooly, and at many moments, it is that. It’s certainly interpretive; some of its references feel like they must be Lattimore’s alone, or akin to the kinds of inside jokes siblings keep–almost indecipherable, but nonetheless totally charming to outsiders. It’s a largely instrumental album, only making sparse use of vocals on most songs, with greater focus on synthesis, pillowy drums, and pedal work. But where some of Lattimore’s nostalgia-seeking colleagues may opt to dive headfirst into fuzz, tape warble, and binaural synth washes, most of Revolving Shores maintains a sense of earnest clearheadedness, at times even bordering on the piercing.

    What might seem at first like a weedy and cozy lay in grass (see early standouts like “Just Follow” or “DejaBlue“) pretty quickly turns into more of a healthy not-quite-micro-dose on a brisk autumn beach. There’s plenty of flirting with melancholia, but also an apparent attempt to tackle concrete family anxieties, grief, and insomnia. I’ll admit I’m usually more of a weedy lay in the grass type, but the album is probably strongest when it embraces the colder and more frenetic — the collage slap bass of “Volume” or the stop/start-synthesized-shrill meets soft underbelly of the album’s closers “Missing the War” and “Seashell.”

    Revolving Shores is Lattimore’s own personal moment on a cold bright day in wet sand, but most listeners will find themselves feeling welcome to join him.

    The album is out now for streaming on all major outlets.

    Graffiti Warfare – “Just Follow” (sc)

    Graffiti Warfare – “Volume” (sc)

    Graffiti Warfare – “Seashell” (sc)

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    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • Davis Galvin – Otsinni

    For months now, I’ve meant to post about Pittsburgh-based Davis Galvin. Their output over the past few years has been nearly faultless, and just as regular. They recently put out a new record, Meratana, a tight set of “(fun)ctional” tracks that are strange, but still well-woven for the floor. But while I really enjoyed that new one, I’m still playing catch up on Galvin’s bountiful discography. The release I’ve been stuck on lately is Otsinni, which came out in May ’21 (Galvin has no fewer than 8 releases since, if you’re in doubt about their prolificacy). It comprises a trio of skittering breakbeat moods that I can’t really choose between — they really work best in tandem. Galvin is an enormous talent, and with such a fast-growing collection, do yourself the favor and get started on absorbing their work.

    Galvin seems to avoid streaming services, so go support them on bandcamp instead.

    Davis Galvin – Otsinni (bc)

  • Mailbox: Macro/micro – Things Will Never Be The Same Again

    Sharp, clenched, grand electronica from LA-based Tommy Simpson, aka Macro/micro. Simpson recently stopped work as an engineer for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, where he assisted on the last two NIN albums and their recent film work, including that excellent score for Watchmen.

    Simpson’s own work as Macro/micro definitely exists in a similar space as does that of Reznor and Ross, particularly in his use of tightly controlled distortion (see e.g., “Awe” and “He’ll Be With You Shortly”). But there’s also an evident generational divide. Despite its general darkness, this is not dour music, there’s plenty of optimism to be found here too (see e.g., the closer, “Gratitude” which is probably my choice from the record). As a much younger artist, Simpson seems more willing to open the blinds more often and let in some light.

    Check out the whole album, released this past July. It’s out now on bandcamp, and streaming everywhere else.

    Macro/micro – Things Will Never Be The Same Again (bc)

  • Mailbox: Digital Artifact – A Quantum Entanglement of the Mind

    I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the divisions of the autonomic nervous system, particularly the parasympathetic and enteric, and the ways in which the branches of the trigeminal nerve may be affected by changes in the rate and consistency of peristalsis. Could it be that the chronic migraines I’ve experienced since I was a teenager might be affected by finding a way to change the pace of peristalsis and/or attaining better conscious control over general parasympathetic function? No easy answers to questions like these.

    Digital Artifact is an artist who clearly spends time trying to feel out the answers to difficult questions. Not only because he’s a computer engineering student, an experience which I can only imagine bears with it a fair share of challenges, but also through his music, which is distinctly explorative. Most of his music is iterative–as in, it’s made by applying the same set of rules a number of different times, and recording the outcome. That’s a heady endeavor, no doubt, but all of it manages to maintain touch with an emotional nerve. These are explorations worth following along with.

    I’ve selected a couple of songs for you here, but he’s got a wealth of material available to stream on his soundcloud and spotify profiles, so I really recommend going there, hitting shuffle, and letting the material take you where it may.

    Digital Artifact – “A Quantum Entanglement of the Mind” (Iteration One)

    Digital Artifact – “A Hollow Blue Cube In The Sand” (Iteration Two)

    Digital Artifact – “An Involuntary Hallucination” (Iteration One)

  • Tano – Clockworx

    tano clockworx

    Two perfectly forward cuts of leftfield bass from Brooklyn-based Tano, from his recently released five tracker on his own In Armatura imprint.

    Did you know that a clock works in much the same way that a synthesizer does? It depends on an energy source controlling an oscillator that marks intervals. In the case of a synth, those intervals become the relationship between notes on a scale; in a clock, the intervals are equal temporal units–seconds. I recently learned this, and it feels appropriate to share in the context of this record, since “Clockworx” is my pick of the bunch. Pure and distinct grime references in that lead line, carefully refined breakbeats, it feels like a timeless and timely record (I’m full of bad puns, get at me). Also check “Step Into Vesuvio” — a tight bit of percussive broken beat techno. But really, the whole EP is extremely strong, and should not be slept on.

    In Armatura 003 is out now for streaming or on bandcamp.

    Tano – “Clockworx” (bc)

    Tano – “Step Into Vesuvio” (sc)

  • Thodén – This Codified Drift

    It was then, floating in the passivity of induced consumption, in which it became clear that this functional mechanism of time was but a codified drift. With our particular indifference to an imposed rationality, all semblance of alterity had been lost

    Music–especially electronic music–is usually a feeling exercise. It’s for dancing, for crying, for running.

    Most artists just want their art to make you feel something. I’ve always subscribed to the idea that the worst reaction art can evoke is indifference. As much as I hope my own music gives people good feelings, I’d ultimately much rather a song I write elicit a strong negative reaction like disgust rather than boredom or indifference. But some of my favorite music is also thinking music. Music can have tremendous activating effect on the occipital lobe and frontal cortex — it can conjure not just emotion, but also give us visions, trigger complex thought and academic inspiration.

    Thodén (real name Kris Rehfeld) is a Danish artist whose music has that desired substantial emotional effect, but is also full of visual stimulus. This may be by design– Rehfeld’s debut album, This Codified Drift was written during the first lockdown, at at time when we all had more time for thinking, and maybe a little less room or willingness to feel.

    The album doesn’t hit you over the head with meaning. It’s bursting with imagery, but it’s all cloaked — it’s left to the listener to decide what this music means. Listening to a song like “Hyperreal”, I find myself fantasizing about the patterns of wasps nests and the organization of anthills. “Gush” feels like the frustration of new lust; when you’re feeling intense magnetism, but trying to play it cool. “Signal on Baikal” is a swamp boat right after you turn off the airdrive fan and let it coast towards the mouth of a cave. All eight songs on the album are full of these kinds of feelings and imagery. But they all mean what you make of them, so go make them mean something.

    This Codified Drift is out now for streaming or on bandcamp, via French label Electroménager.

    Thodén – “Hyperreal” (bc)

    Thodén – “Gush” (bc)

    Thodén – “Signal On Baikal” (bc)

  • Mailbox: The Fear Ratio – Spinning Globe

    Unexpected submission from the legendary techno label Tresor. This is not what you’d expect from Tresor — it is not techno, it’s glitch hop. But in context, this makes a lot of sense. First of all, The Fear Ratio is composed of UK techno heavyweights Mark Broom and James Ruskin, so it’s not surprising they’d have the attention of Tresor (Ruskin released two seminal albums on the label). And second, Tresor is not just a label — it’s club in Berlin that has been open in various incarnations and at various locations around the city since 1991. Berlin is not a city unfamiliar to this glitchy branch of hip hop — after all, the godfathers of this sound, Modeselektor, came up in the city, and have undoubtedly played plenty at Tresor. I’m just glad to see Tresor championing stuff like this.

    Featuring fellow Brit King Kashmere, “Spinning Globe” sounds a bit like what I imagine we might be hearing if Company Flow had never broken up and had instead moved across the pond at the turn of the century (and maybe El-P’s EPS-16 had been lost on the way, forcing him to start using a cracked version of Acid Pro and whatever thrift shop drum machines he could get his hands on). It’s sci-fi hip-hop for a new decade; and the production is sharp as nails.

    The song is the first single from the upcoming album Slinky out on June 24th. Pre-order the album now on bandcamp and get the first two singles straight away.

    The Fear Ratio – “Spinning Globe” (ft. King Kashmere) (sc)

  • Jaxxtone – Ad Astra

    Venezuelan Jorge Antonio Alfonzo Arteaga, aka Jaxxtone, is another one of those names whose music you’ve probably heard without knowing it. Signed to Mad Decent publishing, Arteaga has worked as a songwriter and producer for the likes of Diplo, Steve Aoki, and Puerto Rican superstar Rauw Alejandro. These may not be the kinds of references you’re used to seeing on this site (or at least not anymore), but Arteaga’s work as Jaxxtone is as varied as it is strong.

    While maintaining the kind of sheen and round bottom end of his previous productions, his latest release, Ad Astra, is thoughtful and deliberate work. The first two songs I’ve shared below rely largely on the kinds of rimshot-driven shuffling 2-step I like so much, and–while minimalist–are full of emotive sweetness. I’ve also included a third song for good measure, and this one speaks much more than the other two to the kind of main room post-trap sound with which Arteaga has had so much success–put plainly in the language of yesteryear, it’s a fucking banger.

    Ad Astra is out now for streaming. No bandcamp on this one, but you can grab the mp3s for free on hypeddit.

    Jaxxtone – “Inicio” (sc)

    Jaxxtone – “Kūsō 空想” (sc)

    Jaxxtone – “What’s Da Drill” (sc)

  • Past Palms – Ambient Music for Watering Plants

    Past Palms is an artist from Richmond, VA. Each song from Ambient Music for Watering Plants focuses on one typical tropical houseplant, in hopes of capturing the simple serenity of watering that life “while living in a gray, nature-less city”, as the artist describes their project.

    An ode to Eno’s Music For Airports, the substitute subject matter here could perhaps not be more fitting for the typical modern millennial’s adjusted outlook. Where boomers had the optimism to look to the skies, and the naive privilege to imagine themselves as post-colonial explorers, we are a generation generally more resigned to preserving a sense of peace in our own spaces. Where boomers once imagined themselves as the realists, concerned by a belief their children lacked boundaries, it turned out we were the ones more aware of our own limits and willing to live without some of the global excess our parents took for granted.

    Of course there are countless exceptions to these rules, but I can’t help but think about the heaps of trending instagram images featuring cozy plant-filled and sun-drenched studio apartments–and the millions of millennials navelgazing into their phones instead of out the window of a plane. And while Eno was concerned that we should ensure airports were more pleasant places to be, we all accept most of modern life just isn’t, and instead hope for a little slice of that pleasance at home.

    The whole record is beautiful, and is available today–on Earth day–to stream, or on bandcamp. I’m probably partial to “Philodendron” — but then again, I love the sweetheart plant that hangs from my bathroom ceiling.

  • Nancy Mounir – Khalif Khalif

    Softly softly
    An arrogant man
    Has made my nights darker than carob

    Nancy Mounir is an Egyptian composer, part of Cairo’s new wave. This is from her debut album Nozhet El Nofous (translated to “Promenade of the Souls”), out June 3rd on Simsara Records. Using archival recordings of once-famed singers from Egypt at the turn of the 20th century, and seamlessly adding her own ambient arrangements, the album explores the tension between modernity and the warmth of familiarity. To hear a culturally sincere exploration of harmony against the backdrop of these traditionally monophonic styles is deeply refreshing, especially when it’s done without the slightest hint of novelty.

    This song uses as its foundation a lost recording of late singer and kanun player Saleh Abdel Hay, and I suggest you fall down the rabbit hole and listen to more of his recordings after you preorder Mounir’s album. As lovely as Hay’s old recordings are, on “Khalif Khalif”, Mounir really succeeds in bringing out a rich sense of the harmonic current within the innate nostalgia of this old recording — and without overdoing it, or caricature of any kind. Really captivating stuff, this.

    Nancy Mounir – “Khalif Khalif” (with Saleh Abdel Hay) (bc)

  • Catnapp – time on me

    Catnapp – “time on me”

    Three years after her debut LP, a new single from Berlin-based Argentinian artist Catnapp ahead of her Trust album release, out on Monkeytown on May 20. The press release for this seems to acknowledge that connections will inevitably be drawn to artists like 100gecs, etc., but attempts to cut through that noise a bit:

    Trust does border on overload, but again, that’s by design. The LP arrives at a time when attention spans are short, interruptions are constant, multi-tasking has become routine and practically the entire history of music is now accessible at the push of the button.[…] Call it hyperpop if you must, but pop concentrate might be a more accurate term.

    I agree with the sentiment; it’s hard to keep a listener’s attention these days, and especially hard to draw them in to a new full length for long enough to appreciate a narrative. But Trust makes a valiant attempt to achieve this kind of focus. Anchored by the pleasant contrasts inherent in Catnapp’s delicate voice and energetic delivery, the album strikes a balance between the sound of the new guard of hyphenate hyperpop-gabber-trance producers like Aamourocean and established progenitors of what might now fairly (though reductively) be called proto-hyperpop, Modeselektor (who feature on two songs on the album).

    In a vacuum, I’d call this album (and its lead single) a great addition to the never-named Berlin electro-hop genre for which Modeselektor have been such emphatic and sincere torchbearers. But outside that vacuum, it’s certainly also fair to say this will appeal to a new generation of listeners who, perhaps without knowing the context, would lump this in with hyperpop, a genre that itself lacks any truly defined borders (and really that’s not a bad thing). Ultimately, what counts is not how distorted the 909 is, whether there are enough supersaws, or if a head is adorned with blue dyes versus fitted caps–rather it’s whether the music gets its listeners to respond. I’d say this definitely ought to.

    Trust is available for preorder directly from Monkeytown. The lead single is streaming now, and is downloadable with preorders via bandcamp.

    Catnapp – “time on me” (bc)

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