Gardland – ‘Syndrome Syndrome’

23 September 2013

Getting a release on eminent independent label RVNG Intl., Australian duo Gardland (aka Alex Murray & Mark Smith) will be releasing their album, Syndrome Syndrome, on Oct 28 in the UK. Harnessing the weird energy of the Australian desert during a ten-day, hardware-based wigout, the outcome exists outside of time -a temporal shift only someone from the empty Southern continent could truly understand.

Lead-single and title track ‘Syndrome Syndrome’ is probably one the album’s most primal, moving over arhythmic percussion, the odd hollow metallic crash and bass bounces that peak with a cheesy impression of a dance buildup. The duo also play Krakow’s Unsound festival in October.

See the RVNG Intl. website for more details. **

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Zenial’s ‘Chimera’ reviewed

18 September 2013

Zoharum Records, a label gathering a significant roster of artists associated with those scenes commonly bracketed as “post-industrial” (Hybryds, Rapoon, Z’Ev), recently released a new album, Chimera, by Zenial, aka – a composer and sound designer linked to the worlds of experimental, noise and electroacoustic music. Initially a member of the demoscene – an early computer subculture based around transcending hardware limitations – he went on to collaborate with the likes of Zbigniew Karkowski, as well as perform in the glitchy duo Aabzu. And yet the multimedia nature of demoscene output has remained a constant element of his solo activity, in which sound is often conjoined with visual installations or augmented by a conceptual framework.

Chimera, a slightly more accessible successor to 2012’s Connection Reset by Peer, comprises just the sonic elements of works originally intended for gallery spaces and live performance. Its most interesting facet (perhaps of Zenial’s oeuvre in general) lies in highlighting the connection between the digital and the occult. In one of his presentations, he tried to induce EVP (electronic voice phenomena) via a network of interconnected portable cassette players (EVP being the unidentified speech-like scraps of sound sometimes woven into recordings, thought by some to be of paranormal origin). On side B of Chimera, a two-chapter composition, ‘Rosora’ is inspired by hermetic magic practitioner Franz Bardon; on a purely sonic level, the track explores the meditative nature of “mild noise” in a manner reminiscent of Kevin Drumm’s recordings with Lasse Marhaug.

The link has been present for a long time. In Techgnosis, Erik Davis wrote about technologies being a modern vessel for ancient beliefs, suggesting that information and communication technology, especially the Internet, are rife with threads of magick and mysticism. This notion developed in numerous ways throughout the last century. The chaos magick movement of the 1970s claimed to introduce the discoveries of quantum physics into a mystical worldview, thereby making magick a less hermetic, more practical art. In the early days of the Internet, the Reality Hackers (founders of influential magazine Mondo 2000) announced their manifesto, according to which they “use high technology for a life beyond limits”, “use media to send out mutational memes (thought viruses)” and “blur the distinctions between high technology and magic”. Early cyberculture, captured by Douglas Rushkoff in Cyberia, was closely related to the countercultural ferment of the same period, assimilating the ideas of Terence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson into its philosophy.

Scaremongering preachers may have claimed that rock music was inherently possessed by demonic powers, but beyond a pantomime correlation, it was actually electronic music that became the true vehicle for ideas of magical transgression. The ritual nature of music (and anti-music) was explored by the industrial and post-industrial scenes, in a manner either cathartic (Throbbing Gristle) or meditative (Rapoon, :Zoviet*France:). The ability to evoke altered states of consciousness by means of electronic sound was proven most convincingly by Coil on Time Machines, the experience of which was said to cause “temporal slips”, and displayed the potential of drone music to affect both ear and awareness.

Compared to these declared musical-occultists, Zenial taps the techno-mystical in a subtle, nearly academic way; magickal elements are present, albeit in an implicit manner. His compositions, woven of drones, distortion, buzzing and bleeps, slowly coalesce into shapes in the listener’s mind, like sonic spectres or the aforementioned EVP, and occasionally –as in the case of the title track –gain an near-melodic quality. In this sense, Chimera is more a scientific experiment in the supernatural qualities of sound than the audio equivalent of an occult artefact. Given that creative pursuit itself can be considered the most successful and measurable act of magic (as explained by Alan Moore in Fossil Angels), Zenial’s approach retains plenty of transformative power.

Zenial’s ‘Chimera’ is out now on Zoharum Records

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New album from Eric Copeland of Black Dice

29 May 2013

It is really quite amazing how good experimental electronic outfit Black Dice could make their unhinged and asynchronous noise sound. Even more amazing is this cover for core member Eric Copeland‘s latest solo LP, Joke in the Hole.

Out on DFA on July 17, the New York resident presents what could be (almost) quite a literal interpretation of its title for the dirty minded, with a g-stringed derriere and V-sign cartoon hand behind it. That’s as close as Copeland’s come to revealing what the album is actually going to sound like so far but you can see the track listing and listen to a suitably wonky track from Limbo, released on Underwater Peoples last year, below. **

1. Razki
2. Grapes
3. Tinkerbell
4. Flushing Meats
5. Babes In The Woods
6. Bobby Strong
7. Shoo Rah
8. Cheap Treat
9. Kash Donation
10. Little Tit
11. New Leather Boogie

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Transmuteo’s self-titled album reviewed

17 April 2013

Announced as a “transformative journey”, Transmuteo‘s two long suites for the self-titled debut, are yet another plunge into the holographic dimensions of the cybernetic dolphinarium. Belgium’s Aguirre Records, from whom this LP emerges, utilise shades of blue, 3D crystals and marine life as their emblems. On the surface, Transmuteo’s recording is not vastly different from the rest of the catalogue and, while the inspiration of popular New Age and Internet archaeology is slowly evaporating, its still an intriguing formula. Transmuteo proves that there is yet more to be conveyed through those means.

It’s easy to find echoes of the 1990s in the album aesthetic: Nintendo game Caesars Palace, early Future Sound of London or Humanoid videos, and self-help/re-birthing handbooks. Such outdated reference points could easily be disregarded as a prank by web-savvy designers, poking fun at the shortcomings of past technologies but a second glance reveals the content as surprisingly up-to-date. Web design today involves more innovative, higher resolution graphics and 3D rendering, but computers, magical thinking and the cult of success still go hand-in-hand, exactly as they did two decades ago. Browsing through the Internet, I often come across banners advertising the joys of the spa experience, ‘soul healing’, discovering past lives, personality boosts, brainwave synchronisation and many other traces of the esoteric mind-set in contemporary life. I have a lot of fondness for electronic musicians interested in digital folklore, exploring phenomena that thrive on the fringes of popular culture. There is an obvious satirical edge to what they do but, equally, an amount of insight and reflection. In the case of Transmuteo, the exploratory nature of this project also makes it an interesting proposition from a musical point of view, not merely another net-art exercise in style.

The record opens with repetitive, softly spoken affirmations, mantras for financial success, and meditative bliss. Almost unnoticeably, pastiche eventually morphs into an ambient soundscape with the vague echo of a techno beat, the occasional improvised whirlpool and uneasy tones. There is a dark current running through the two long, slowly evolving, multi-layered tracks, and enough unexpected turns to take them beyond the soothing pleasantries of classic New Age. The undertow of tension emerges into focus periodically – an odd hum, a darker, deeper tone –making Transmuteo stylistically closer to the likes of Oneohtrix Point Never over Dolphins Into The Future. Many releases, labelled, ‘vaporwave’ specialise in gliding across the surface, while practising the art of digital sound collage. Transmuteo offers a more expansive take, oriented towards traditional ambient textures while hinting to neighbouring genres, allowing for an escape route once the vaporwave reservoir runs dry.

Transmuteo’s self-titled LP is out now on Aguirre Records.


Header image by: Transmuteo

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Butterclock’s ‘First Prom’ reviewed.

Butterclock. Psychic_Paradox.
15 April 2013

Where does inspiration come from? It’s a question that has perplexed and provoked artists throughout history, and, evidently, for the Parisian-born itinerant Butterclock (aka Laura Clock), it comes from contradiction. Confrontational in its vulnerability and beautiful in its ugliness, the staunchly independent producer’s new EP, First Prom, on o_F_F_Love’s own FANTASY Music, April 15, moves away from Clock’s roots in subverted pop and dark RnB, while staying true to a singular honesty, shrouded in illusion.


Continue reading Butterclock’s ‘First Prom’ reviewed.

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Jessie Ruins – ‘Laura Is Fading’.

Jessie Ruins - 'Laura is Fading.
12 April 2013

It’s unclear as to where Japanese performer Nobuyuki Sakuma’s solo project-cum-trio, Jessie Ruins, is basing itself these days but that’s the beauty of a band that inhabits the proverbial ether of post-punk and new wave exploration. With this single, ‘Laura Is Fading’, from their forthcoming album debut A Film, out on Lefse Records, May 21, there are easy comparisons to New York’s Blonde Redhead.

Grown within the glaring light of their heavenly musical projections, haunting vocals add to a firm foundation of a steady drumbeat from Yosuke Tuchida, as Sakuma’s cadenced vocals glide coolly through a synthesised stargaze. **

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DJ Sprinkles – ‘Where Dancefloors Stood Still’.

DJ Sprinkles - 'Where Dancefloors Stood Still'.
15 March 2013

Sadly, we missed DJ Sprinkles’ performance at this year’s CTM Festival but we did manage to catch her thoughts as Terre Thaemlitz in conversation with Electronic Beats editor Max Dax. And, while she might think music is “a petri dish of all that I hate about society” it hasn’t changed the fact that she still produces it. Adding to the irony is this latest LP release, Where Dancefloors Stood Still, out now on Mule Musiq, coming as a protest against Japan’s controversial new “fuzoku” laws, effectively banning dancing after 1am.

As a Japanese citizen, these troubling changes affect Thaemlitz directly but you wouldn’t guess it from the typically ambient rhythms of these smooth deep house tracks featuring the likes of Ron Trent and Fingers Inc. But music is for rejoicing, not griping and certainly not forbidding. If you know anything about Terre Thaemlitz, you’ll know she has an uneasy relationship with download culture, so we could only find a preview listen of the record at Boomkat here.**

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A Hawk and a Hacksaw album coming soon.

A Hawk & a Hacksaw.
12 March 2013

There’s no doubting US duo A Hawk and a Hacksaw‘s excellent musical breeding. Accordionist Jeremy Barnes is a past member of cult group Neutral Milk Hotel and both he and violinist Heather Trost worked on Balkan folk artist Zachary Condon (aka Beirut’s) 2006 album Gulag Orkestar. Like the aforementioned Santa Fe native, they too hail from New Mexico, while working with those Eastern influences centered around the Black Sea. So it’s not really any surprise that their sixth album, produced by John Dieterich of Deerhoof, has the title You Have Already Gone To The Other World: Music Inspired By Paradjanov’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors coming out on their own L.M. Dupli-cation label on April 2.

As the name implies, this is music inspired by the Georgian-born Armenian film director, Sergei Paradjanov, and his  film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. A director working in socialist realism across the USSR (namely, Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia) he, like A Hawk and a Hacksaw was the product of a unifying world order. But where Paradjanov’s was Soviet Russia, there’s is a result of the wonders of globalisation in a Westernised Eastern folk sound that paddles through a Black Sea of accordion, fiddle and rousing staccato rhythm.**

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Brandt Brauer Frick’s ‘Miami’ reviewed.

Brandt Brauer Frick. Apocalypse Now.
7 March 2013

This isn’t the Miami of beige shorts and Hawaiian t-shirts. It’s the imaginary dystopia that one envisions after the end of days that is in fact lingering just below the surface of reality. Brandt Brauer Frick are the Berlin three-piece of free jazz musicians experimenting with acoustic techno arrangements since their 2010 debut Make Me Real, begun with the meticulous mimickry of ‘Bop’ and perfected with ‘Pretend’ featuring Emika on 2011’s Mr. Machine. At that point the heads behind it, Daniel Brandt, Jan Brauer and Paul Frick, had brought the archaic instrumental oddities of a marimba, timpani, tuba and more to a lavish ensemble numbering 10, creating something only electronics could manage. But with their latest release Miami, out on !K7, March 11, they’ve stripped back to a three piece, included several interloping vocals accompaniments and loosened up the compositions to allow for the simmering sense of doom that all bodily electronica harbours.

Brandt Brauer Frick.
Brandt Brauer Frick.

Continue reading Brandt Brauer Frick’s ‘Miami’ reviewed.

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Co La – ‘Melter’s Delight’

21 February 2013

The fact that Baltimore sample-based electronic project Co La (aka Matt Papich) sounds like it could be a soft drink isn’t far removed from its sound. With a second album, Moody Coup, due for release on Daniel Lopatin’s Brooklyn-based label, Software, May 6, the lead-single, ‘Melter’s Delight’ is an effervescent trip of asynchronous poly-rhythms and fractured dub vocal samples.

Where Papich’s 2011 album, Daydream Repeater (on NNA Tapes) was an exuberant frolic through the gilded dancehalls of reggae and 60s pop, ‘Melter’s Delight’ is an abstracted portrait of music at its most modern. See the album track listing below. **


1. Sukiyaki To Die For
2. Melter’s Delight
3. Remarkable Features
4. Deaf Christian
5. Un
6. Suspicious (Sandman Fix)
7. Baby’s Breath
8. Head in Hole in Space
9. Sympathy Flinch
10. Make it Slay (Barbershop Solo)

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CocoRosie – ‘Gravediggress’

CocoRosie - Gravediggress.
19 February 2013

CocoRosie are a live act to be reckoned with. Occupying that divine space between visual art and music (if there even is a distinction these days), they presented one of aqnb’s top performances for 2012 at last year’s Meltdown Festival. Luckily, they’re not too shabby on record either and it feels like the further they move along their line of creative evolution, their sound is becoming fuller and more complete by the day.

Announcing a new album and dropping the propulsive sway of lead single ‘Gravediggress’, it’s apparent that growing production values and those otherworldly ideas that made CocoRosie famous are more integrated and fully formed than ever. The follow-up to 2010’s Grey Oceans, Tales of a Grass Widow, is out May 27 on Berlin-based label City Slang .**

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Slava – ‘On It’

14 February 2013

Rightly placed on the inculturally-aware line-up of Fatima Al Qadiri and Nguzunguzu at last year’s Unsound, Slava Balasanov (aka Slava) was a close contender in most visceral mind (and body) scramble. It’s just as well too, considering the Moscow-born, New York-based producer has had several fierce releases already, not least on Heiroglyphic Being’s Mathematics label and a little-known appearance on Coral Records Internazionale’s #Seapunk Volume 1, along with aqnb favourite Le1f .

Slava’s upcoming album debut though, Raw Solutions, is out on Daniel Lopatin’s Mexican Summer imprint Software, April 23, and it will be the second with the Brooklyn label since 2012’s Soft Control EP. With one less Britney sample and plenty more brutal beats, it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.**

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Night Works – ‘Long Forgotten Boy’

8 February 2013

Ex-Metronomy man Gabriel Stebbing has his album under his Night Works moniker coming out via Loose Lips on March 4. This will be the solo debut from Stebbing since leave the Mercury Prize nominated band in 2009 and, although a looser, more ambient listen it’s still steeped in the rhythmic compositions Metronomy, by virtue of its very name, was founded on. The last of three Daniel Brereton-directed films for Night Works, ‘Long Forgotten Boy’ sees Stebbing galavanting across areas of London and Paris -a perfect summation of what aqnb is all about. **

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