Early impressions and musings on some recent musical acquisitions, largely triggered by Beatport’s latest series of sales. Thank you Beatport, I was getting stale, but my, I’ve got a lot to listen to. So, let’s begin.
Planetary Assault Systems: The Messenger
The latest incoming from Luke Slater is a mix of ambient and repetitive dark quirky techno, but not as hard as some previous outings. It’s rhythm-heavy and achieves this focus by rarely using a bass line, something I noticed only belatedly from his 7th Plain releases. There is subtle depth here that will emerge from repeated listenings.
Blu Mar Ten: Love is the Devil
The cliche of “long-awaited release” is apt for this one, on the back of Natural History from 2009. While it’s all drum&bass, they have a unique sound that comes from both top-notch production, and intelligent song-writing, and pushes them into overlapping space with techno, electronica, and progressive house. Having said that, while it sounds great, I’m not feeling much yet. I’m wondering if it’s had all the emotion polished out of it.
The Black Dog: Liber Dogma
While Black Dog releases over the last couple of years have been moody beat-driven electronica, this is real techno with a dance-floor focus, with a more stripped back sound, simpler sounds and effects, and less atmospherics. I’m assuming this stuff would work really well at an assertive volume through a wicked sound system, so I should crank it up to get the best out of it.
Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Milk Sea
I’ve been a bit slow getting hold of this 2010 release on Warp. Eno is an effing legend, and this album shows why. It’s an audio journey from delicate piano through angry beats, clever electronica, prog rock, and big dark ambience. Sit back and just go with it. As an aside, if you like the delicate ambient piano, go and find a copy of the sublime 1984 Budd/Eno/Lanois release The Pearl.
Inspired by Japan’s nuclear energy program, before Fukushima, and now made even more resonant. This is lush gentle electronica, with a moody edge like most of Geir’s work, and is what looks like his first full-length (well, 50 minutes) since Cirque in 2007, but with more bass and beats this time around. Nice.
Deadbeat: Drawn & Quartered
This is early 90s Future Sound of London brought forward twenty years, so you know I’m going to like it. Just five long tracks (all over ten minutes) of beats, samples, effects, reverb somewhere between dub, dubstep, and dubtech. Genius. And has it really been seventeen years since FSOL’s Lifeforms? Fuck, where has my life gone.
Extrawelt: In Aufruhr
Back to 2011 Hamburg with the reliable tech-house of Extrawelt. Lots of 4-4 goodness, and I detect a definite nod to techno pioneers 808 State. Maybe track 9 (808slate) is a giveaway, although I’d say it’s the least 808 State-like track on there. Similar to their last album Schöne Neue Extrawelt but perhaps less technical; more feel. Das macht spaß, ja?
This is a re-release of 3×12″ records from 2000/2001 and sits somewhere between Soup and Fyuti in date but is more experimental in style than both. Darker, more complex, and less accessible, but still definitely a Bola sound.
Mihai Popoviciu: The Unexpected Truth
After all that dark complex techno shit I was also wanting some more straight-up deep tech-house, and Mihai from Russia did the trick. A deep sexy 4-4 workout with texture, good for both dancefloor and hanging out.
Gui Boratto: III
Another bloke with strong tech-house credentials, but I dunno, this is getting serious. A bit more intelligent and experimental; less dance-able than previous single material like No Turning Back. I like it so far, but it’s more than I was expecting. Track 10 The Third is a definite star but then I’m a sucker for a warm pad.
Drum. Bass. Liquid, apparently, whatever that is. Either way, this is tight, quality d&b with punch, groove, and edge, and, now that I compare them side-by-side, I reckon it’s a more satisfying album than Blu Mar Ten’s latest from above. Good luck to him, I hope he goes far.
Gravious: Junction City EP
This is labelled dubstep, but in my book it’s less dubby than housey. In fact, what might have been called dub house when this guy was growing up. The man does credit some quality old-school artists like FSOL, Boards, Aphex, and Bukem, and it shows through in his tracks at times. This is a 29-minute 5-track EP with some great production and punch. Aside from some aggravated arpeggiator assault and a couple of dodgy vocal samples, it pretty much nails it.
No surprises here. Plaid doing what Plaid do best. Fucking clever clogs, both of them. Get a Masters degree, you’ll need it to get into this.