Music Reviews

Feldermelder: The Sound Of Remixes

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 16 2019
Artist: Feldermelder
Title: The Sound Of Remixes
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: -OUS
“The Sound Of Remixes” is an unfortunately glib title, reminiscent of supermarket-level “best dance music ever” compilation CD’s, but since Feldermelder’s EP was actually called “The Sound Of”, then the title is at least justified. And make no mistake, this is nowhere near supermarket music.

There’s a total of three reworkings. Both Zavaloka’s version of “Another Place” and Shao’s remix of “Shanghai” are short affairs, little packets of broody beat-electronica. The former feels like bold and atmospheric intro music to an EDM album, while the latter sounds like scratchy, suspenseful in-game music, mapping out a heartbeat rhythm under gritty strings and synthesis that feel like they’re conscientiously not going anywhere.

More than half the release is filled by Feldermelder’s own self-reworking of “1st _ 62nd”, a nine-minute exposition of fairly frantic but lightweight industrial beats under rapidly washing metallic-sounding atmospherics that gradually twist and bend their shape.

It’s a strong example of chin-stroking electronica from the borderlands outside dance music, but there is a slight sense of it bringing nothing new to the party, featuring too many sounds you’ve heard before and somehow just falling slightly short of gripping.

The Overlookers: Teenage Wet Dreams

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Apr 15 2019
Artist: The Overlookers
Title: Teenage Wet Dreams
Format: CD
Label: Boredom Product
Rated: *****
Anticipated by the E.P. "Driving Fast", The Overlookers are delivering to the electro-pop lovers, their first album "Teenage Wet Dreams". Containing ten songs (well, that's nine if you count "Porn Night" as a "Prom Night" reprise) of which four we already checked with a different version on the E.P., the album will please the Depeche Mode fan but not only them. Formed by XY (Foretaste) and JB (Dekad), Overlookers took the fifties aesthetic made of sexy cars/girls and transposed it to the 21st century with a blink to the 80s. The duo got inspiration by 80s synthpop/ebm and if you check their other projects, I'm pretty sure you'll find something else you may like. The quality of this album resides in the fact that it's catchy since the first listening and it won't annoy you after a couple of times: the duo did a great job by packing the album with upbeat songs and dark ballads full of catchy melodies, great synth sounds, and top production work. Some tracks will recall some atmospheres and melodies a la Depeche Mode but The Overlookers' sound is personal and doesn't copy the one of the Basildon boys, luckily. If your preferred Depeche Mode period is going from "Black Celebration" to "Violator", what you won't get from Depeche Mode anymore you'll be able to get from The Overlookers! The album is available on streaming, digital download and deluxe six panel digifile CD.

VV.AA.: Bleeps, Beats & Bass 2

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Apr 12 2019
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Bleeps, Beats & Bass 2
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Basserk
The second in the compilation series from constantly reliable Amsterdam label Basserk is another rich pack of almost-entirely-instrumental house, electro and danceable techno that stays just on the right side of wonky and looks out across the view.

There’s an intriguing music-as-product concept behind it, with QR codes linking to every track, meaning for example that you’ll be able to buy your favourite track as a sweatshirt. I can’t vouch for the quality of the shirt manufacture of course, but big chunks of this are serious dancing music, so a lighter, more breathable T-shirt may be required as well...

Musically, it’s a pack with no filler, stacked with potential DJ weapons. There’s the infectious bounce of Sjamsjoedin’s “Corners”, the bright alt-disco clapping of Heart Space’s “Move Aside”, or the breathy, semi-glitched groove of highly-regarded LHISPR’s little track “Closer” that bypasses your higher thought patterns and makes you dance like a robot.

It’s bookended by “Passw123” by Full Monty at one end and “Modderpoel” by Maanwagen at the other, both breezy stepping grooves reminiscent of Luke Vibert tracks, that cheekily imply they’re about to break out into full-verse rap tracks but never do. The former is a definite highlight that’s earned its pole position on the compilation, that one’s getting repeat plays here for sure.

There are also broodier and more introspective pieces for headphone-centric listening. Xyloglotte’s “McKlatchey”- a track you’ll never be able to verbally ask Siri or Alexa to play- rumbles with a gentle kick-led broken beat under counterplaying layers of squeaky synths, while Radio Parkplatz’s “Wormshop” brings a bit of urgency through relentless synth bass notes and gliding siren-like arpeggios that slightly recall a Juhl Krøse track or two.

HuSo’s “Tome” is one of those 150bpm-ish tracks with dubbier, half-speed top layers where your body can be shuffling frantically to the slightly jungle-ish beats at 150 while your head chills out at 75.

Kraz’s “Shelter” stands out, not solely for the fact it has a full sung verse-and-chorus vocal on it- with a gravelly, Jan Burton, Rob Dougan-ish affair over a slow beat and synths that seem to want to be guitars, it definitely draws the attention. Baptist’s “Nothing Left” leading into Tholyson’s “Fou Amoureux”- the latter with an extremely OMD-ish synth lead line- form ‘the synthwave section’ towards the tail of the release.

It’s hard to argue with the title of this release. High-quality bleeps, variety in the beats and a tastebud-wetting variety of squelchy bass sounds are on offer. It’s a strong pack with just the right amount of twist.

Pang: Pang

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (10889)
Apr 05 2019
Artist: Pang
Title: Pang
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: oqko
With an artist name and title “Pang” and track names that range from “Pang Pang” to “Pang Pang Pang” to “Pang Pang Pang Pang” to “Pang Pang Pang Pang Pang” to “Pang Pang Pang Pang Pang Pang” to “Pang Pang Pang Pang Pang Pang Pang”, this is a release that could be a music writer’s nightmare or their dream depending on whether they are worried about clarity, and whether they’re getting paid by the word- which I’m not, so here we go…

It’s a title and a singular branding that, to me showing my age, brings to mind “Poing” by Rotterdam Termination Source- and with it, ideas of hard-edged, brutally rough-edged bouncy techno. But what you get is much more ornate and detailed electronica than that- a small but well-formed and naunced half-hour package of glitchy instrumental smart-electronica built from familiar synthetic elements arranged with above-average complexity. Rhythms impart urgently but in broken, keep-you-on-your-toes fashion as if defying you to dance, ready to catch you by surprise at any moment.

It’s got industrial attitude infused into its mix for sure, with the third track a prime example of it. Track 4 does exhibit more of that raw techno brutality I was initially expecting, driven by a heavily distorted and hard-to-predict kick sound that’s more than a little bit Aphex Twin-ish.

The second track is an example of where it all goes a little bit more grime-infused, and it doesn’t stretch the imagination too much to picture a grime rapper- one of the more eloquent and light-toed ones- leaping onto this as a background for some dark narrative. Final track “Pang Pang Pang Pang Pang Pang Pang” opens as though it will be the album’s mellow, thoughtful finale before breaking into the album’s most aggressive and difficult moments, ending with a bang (or a ‘pang’) rather than a gentle whimper.

Nicely packaged, short and sweet, this is thoughtful electronica that ends up being slightly under-sold by the brash and tongue-in-cheek branding.

Kalabrese: Let Me Be Your Princess

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 02 2019
Artist: Kalabrese
Title: Let Me Be Your Princess
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Zukunft Recordings
Zurich-based veteran producer Kalabrese is back with another assured three-track EP taking a fairly familiar but reliable formula. Essentially deep house structures, grooves stripped down and laid out with a confident flatness, are decorated with somewhat indie-ish male vocals (that put me in mind of Chris Rea for some reason), and some squelchy acid bleeps for decoration.

First track “Let Me Be Your Princess” is a steady complete journey that in one way seems to throw back to the classic early days of the extended mix, knowing full well that the right groove and very gradual change is sometimes all you need. With a gender-relaxed lyric which I’m fairly sure is saying “let me be your Santa” quite a lot, I guess it could also qualify as a Christmas record…?

“Dance Yourself Clean” ups the indie flavour, still maintaining the groove but in a more definite song structure with more of a live funk feel, and while the same elements are all still there in similar measure, somehow the result feels more dated. Both this and final track “Ligestuetz”, which foregrounds Lara Stoll’s spoken German tones, wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a mid-noughties ‘indie rocks’ compilation alongside Soulwax or DFA.

The title track is certainly the standout but it’s a confident and fairly satisfying release that falls quite far into the old “dance music for indie kids that don’t like dance music” territory.

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