recent (to me) electronics from the some-audience underground

March 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Posted in musings, new music | Leave a comment
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A while ago I reported that I was was going to stop using the internet to steal things and instead pay for what I wanted.  The idea was to rekindle the joy of discovery, deepen my commitment to stuff I was hearing and sharpen my skills of discernment.  The latter had grown flabby having gorged on instant access to everything.  And whaddayaknow: it’s working.

It ain’t all drone cdrs and noise cassettes here at RFMHQ.  Occasionally I may put down my whittlin’, pick up my ear trumpet and pay attention to what is happening in electronics.  What with the FACT mixes, the Bleep and Resident Advisor podcasts and the Boomkat newsletter I certainly have enuff information coming in to mitigate the worst of my confused-old-uncle-syndrome.  The following releases were all bought as mp3s from either Amazon (forgive me, I had a voucher) or Boomkat.  The links are to the latter, who are probably more deserving of your dough.

Three singles by Lone


Having awarded Lone the prestigious RFM album of the year for 2010’s wonderful Emerald Fantasy Tracks I felt duty bound to check out the rest of Matt Cutler’s back catalogue.  The earlier stuff, like 2008’s Lemurian, is well worth hearing but contains too much Flying-Lotus-style skittering wonkiness for my liking.  I admire that genre – I’m sure the  programming is technically demanding and time consuming – but I can’t love it.  The problem is that I am a fairly unreconstructed head-nodder when it comes to beats.  I find it impossible to maintain an emotional connection with a track unless it allows me to get my groove on.

Obviously sensing my uneasiness, Mr Cutler wisely decided to jettison that approach around the time of the Joy Reel/Sunset Teens single and everything he has released since has pushed my buttons faultlessly.  Whilst contemporaries such as Zomby are harking back to early 90s ‘ardkore and jungle, Lone takes the vocabulary of rave and double filters those tropes through a woozy, soft-focus nostalgia.  Both Pineapple Crush and the sublime Once in a While have a perfectly realised utopian better-living-thru-dry-ice-and-ecstacy vibe.  Both contain knowing nods to the daftness of the genre – Pineapple Crush dares to reclaim that ‘wow! yeah!’ sample that plagued every bloody pop dance record released 88-91 – but both are as heartfelt, warm and sincere as anything by Boards of Canada.  A six track EP released by the resurgent R&S records is coming in April and I am very excited at the prospect.  Get me: I’m following a band!

I may write more about the rave revival at a later date.  For now I will just urge you to watch the video to Blind Faith by Chase and Status which reduced me to a blubbering wreck with its point perfect recreation of the era in question…

Mika Vainio – it’s a muthang/mutant midnight

Buy here

I slept on this when it came out last year but a serendipitous bit of clickery made sure I didn’t miss out.  Two tracks, originally on a 7″ single, by that bloke from one-time heroes of mine: pan sonic.  ‘It’s a muthang’ is three minutes of hissing hi-hat substitutes, distorted submarine sonar pings and a slimy, stomach-churning bass noise with the consitency of plasticine mixed with axle grease and toothpaste.  Great fun.  Mutant midnight is a bit of inconsequential post-industrial plinky-plonk noteworthy for being in 3/4 time.  Not many noise waltzes out there.

Deaf Center – Owl Splinters

Buy here

Deaf Center’s Pale Ravine from 2005 (available for the comically low price of £3.99 from Boomkat) has been one of my favourite albums for years and this belated sequel may be even better.  Deaf Center produce cinematic instrumental music, ambitious in scope, full of emotional resonance and immensely dramatically satisying.  An extensive palette of sound – fragile cello to gristly slabs of electronic noise – is blended with delicacy and assurance.  There is no need to write more – googling ‘deaf center owl splinters review’ already produces 13,000 hits – just go and have a listen.  Record of the year so far from outside of the no-audience underground.

Two singles by Blawan

Ah, the joy of discovery!  This is exactly what I was after.  Blawan, or Andrew Ryce as his mam calls him, gave me my first ‘what the FUCK was that?!?’ moment of 2011, my second favourite of all the sensations music can provoke.  Fram/Iddy from last year are a pair of rhythmically ingenious dubstep tracks with beautifully programmed and recorded drums made mysterious by a layer of whispered vocals.  Great stuff but nowt compared to what was coming next…

The three tracks that comprise the Bohla EP show that drum programming can be breathtakingly elastic but still totally feet friendly.  Take note all you skittering hipsters – this guy is as good as you *and* you can dance to it so HE WINS.   The bass drop about a minute into Bohla, ingeniously using a kettledrum for added impact, had me laughing out loud with delight.  The 303 line is given new space and vigour by the percussion programming and tweakin’ acid hasn’t sounded so fresh for yonks.  The humour, inventiveness and sheer brain-pummelling thump of these tracks calls to mind the very early Aphex Twin 12″s collected together on the ‘Classics’ compilation.  A comparison made all the more apt because the two releases share a label in R&S.  And he’s from Yorkshire too.  Famous.

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