Tuesday, April 14, 2009

electronic music round-up

Recently, i have found a lot of electronica albums waiting for me in my queue, thanks largely in part to the rather excellent Double Avenue blog, which seems to be sadly dormant. I'd get home from work, late at night, reverentially slip on my ear-muff headphones, and go sight-seeing. What i have found is a bevy of new, excellent albums that rock body and mind simultaneously, and i was transported to a time when techno imbued every molecule of my life. Tripping out to Coil in the dark was the holiest of holies to me, in my adolescence, and the exploration of interior landscapes still thrills me.
What these three records have in common, stylistically very different, is magnificent production sound design. Every detail, and particularly the beats, are crisp and clean and clear, this sonic alchemists pay so much loving detail to how their albums sound. Perhaps the intention of playing their music through loud-ass systems at clubs makes them extra careful, but i have recently been blown away by the amount of creativity and care existing in this scene.

Photobucket Witchman - Explorimenting Beats
First up is a release from Witchman, the alias of John Roome. Here, he takes you on a guided tour of all things dark and dirty and dangerous, effortlessly gliding through genres: dubstep, d'n'b, hip-hop. The beats are the tenuos silver thread that keeps the vision cohesive, and they are stunning! I can't figure out why this isn't better known, being screamed from the rooftops along the likes of Burial or Kode9. The bass is ferocious and nasty, heavy yet oddly soothing, twitching yet graceful, pummeling and caressing in equal measures.
This album is just one long string of awesomeness, each track more staggering than the last, unfurling like a perfect strand of black pearls. The epic trilogy that makes up the torso of the body, 'Hammerhead', 'Chemical Noir', and 'Order of the Dragon', are the best initiation into the mystery, and would sound at home on any nocturnal mix or on the floor at 3 am.
I am completely and under his spell. Get this now!
320 kbps part 1 part 2

Photobucket Byetone - Death of a Typographer
Next, we have a more minimal affair, brought to you by Olaf Benders, the graphic designer for the Raster-Noton label. Apparently, his taste and economy apply sonically as well, and every element seems in place. Thankfully, the presence of some sawtooth oscillation, some analog equipment, gives a refreshing body for this intellect to reside in, and gives it more immediacy than much minimal house music, which sort of streams by, without leaving much of an impression.
The album starts off with 'Into bios', with about 40 seconds of field recording before bleeding into the single, 'Plastic Star (session)', that is truly a dancefloor anthem (djs take note). The rest of the album sort of blends and blurs, at times succumbing to a warm, analog drone, suggesting the influence of chemicals taking hold in the heat of the night, at the club; finally winding down into the trail-out, 'Heart', a womblike fluttering pulse, like coming home to clean sheets and daylight, at the end of the night. Very impressive, and original. Can't wait to hear more from him.
get it

Photobucket V.V.V. - Endless
Last but not least, V.V.V. is Alan Vega of Suicide pairing up with classic minimalists Pan Sonic. "How do these old guys school kids these days so easily," one of my friends wanted to know. A good question. Chalk it up to life experience or something. Thankfully, age does not seem to have mellowed Vega one bit, and this album is full of his razor-sharp criticism of almost everything, his vitriol mostly aimed at aspects of American life, politics, religion, etc. The wonderful thing about his work is his ability to humanize social themes, like the classic Suicide single 'Frankie Teardrop', telling the story of a factory-worker caught in the rat-trap of a grinding, repetitive life, until he snaps, killing his family and himself in the end. There are moments on this album that are almost as harrowing.
Some have accused Pan Sonic of merely providing 'Backing Tracks' for Vega's rambling on this project, and i think that's unfair. I think, if anything, Vega is providing a human accesibility to their stark noisy world. The added lair of vocals provides a foundation, something else for the ear to latch on to, and lets them stretch out and get downright MEAN at times, degenerating into almost formless noise. Again, i think the addition of analog equipment and effects give their normally sleek, chilly sound some warm-blood, and makes it that much more menacing, not to mention raw. Its great to see such accomplished musicians stretching out, not giving a fuck, loose and ragged and organic, in an otherwise clean and clinical scene. Stands up well to repeated listening, creeping into yr subconscious, drilling down into yr id. Bring some nightmare into yr night life.
320 kbps part 1 part 2

Thanks so much to Double Avenue for the killer tunes. I do hope you come back someday.

No comments:

Post a Comment