Tag Archive: Soma


1. Voices From The Lake – Voices From The Lake (Prologue)

This is an album that has stayed with me since I first listened to it in the freezing early months of 2012. As the year has once again reached the months of dark skies and chilling air, “Voices From The Lake” remains a favourite and a release whose place in pole position for album of the year was never in doubt. The work of Donato Dozzy and Neel is both beautiful and lucid with deep ambient atmospherics and an exceptionally crafted piece of sound design. Listening to “Voices From The Lake” is an immersive experience as the deep wells of ambient sounds develop and unfold at their own pace. Textured beats and unhurried rhythms pour forth with a hypnotic flow, creating an intoxicating sense of tranquillity. Drones and gently pulsing bass drums lead us into soothing pillows of thick ambience against a humid backdrop. The pair’s reworking of the previously released ‘S.T.’ is a revelation. After 30 minutes of bubbling and pulsation, the album’s first proper bass line emerges underneath a gently ascending and descending chord progression, creating the album’s biggest moment of impact while remaining airy and translucent. Rhythm, texture and atmosphere are the key components of “Voices From The Lake”, creating an enveloping physical presence that asks contemplative concentration; a meditative state of listening. Its patterns shift and morph in minute detail, so subtly and patiently that it gives the album an unusual feeling like it is floating while simultaneously surging from the depths of a dense forest. The construction is painstaking, so much so you can’t tell where one track begins and another ends yet, surprisingly for something that has been put together so intricately, it contains warmth that feels inviting and effortless. “Voices From The Lake” is a unique, entrancing release that supplies the closest aural equivalent to waldeinsamkeit since Pantha Du Prince’s “Black Noise”, my top-ranking album of 2010.

2. Shed – The Killer (50 WEAPONS)

“I hate guitar music…because guitars have been out there for hundreds of years now, and I think it’s enough.” Shed (Rene Pawlowitz) the stern-faced German doesn’t care for much, at least that is what his interviews in English depict and with “The Killer”, the producer delivers the tracks on his third album in true German attitude: to the point, straightforward and no bullshit. “The Killer” doesn’t introduce listeners to anything new but by his own admission he doesn’t aim to. For him the best techno was released in the ‘90s and he finds the genre as it is currently, boring. Pawlowitz testifies, “I guess by about 1995 techno stopped being new or innovative and since then it has stayed the same. That’s why I like the past so much, nowadays there is no big change in techno.” What “The Killer” does do is stand as the most visceral and powerful techno album of 2012. Pawlowitz brilliantly drags tracks away from being simple genre exercises by burying nuances and his enigmatic personality among the flashes of brutal intensity. The insistent breakbeats and searing, sinister synths that make up the sadistic throbbing of ‘I Come By Night’ would become tiresome in another producer’s hands but Shed’s nuances are there in the background with the addition of delicately fluttering synths that weave through the track. Making “The Killer” all the more interesting are the feverishly repetitious melodies that flourish underneath the deep, pounding drums, crackles and ambient noise. They are omnipresent yet only really reveal themselves after several listens. Again Shed has pulled the magician’s trick of hiding them in plain sight. Dreamy melodies float through ‘Silent Witness’, Pawlowitz upturns typical techno arrangement by forcing the drums to follow the lead of the billowing melodies on ‘You Got The Look’ and rapturous techno beats are suspended by melodious atmospheric synths on the floating ‘Phototype’. “The Killer” and its producer are refreshing in their directness and techno purity and it is Shed’s individual blend of brutality and subtlety that makes “The Killer” one of the best albums of 2012.

3. John Tejada – The Predicting Machine (Kompakt)

The Austria born, L.A. based producer runs wild, excitedly and purposefully pulling sounds from an assorted catalogue of eras and styles for ‘The Predicting Machine” as it cycles through ten tracks that fluently weave lean electronics and pounding, yet sparse, beats with Tejada’s famously emotionally resonant melodies. It covers a lot of ground yet perfectly summarises his deeply focused approach to production and when it comes to effortlessly and beautifully conveying emotion in music no one gets close to John Tejada’s finely tuned melodies or his instinctive musicality. “The Predicting Machine” moves with pace through sculpted bleeping hooks and thick ambient fogs that rise from aquatic grooves, a Kompakt schaffel-inspired rhythm makes several appearances and the percolating tech house that made Tejada’s name features on the knowingly titled ‘A Familiar Mood’. A moment of magic occurs when the opening bars of the anthemic ‘The Function And The Form’ begin. Its fizzing melody and growling bassline lifts “The Predicting Machine” up a level and the incredibly rich modular synth textures and sparkling arpeggios surrounding it play out joyously. Throughout “The Predicting Machine” long gleaming melodies and spiralling arpeggios mingle with wet, elastic rhythms and effervescent clouds of synths. Every one of his tracks is an inviting and wondrous soundscape filled with luxurious and elegant detail; pure Tejada.

4. Sigha – Living With Ghosts (Hotflush)

After a bundle of 12”s for Scuba’s Hotflush label Berlin-based, UK-born DJ and producer Sigha (James Shaw) delivers his debut album “Living With Ghosts”. The album’s twelve perfectly balanced techno and ambient productions fuse his love of classic techno with the genre’s contemporary sound that is owned by Germany’s capital and over the course of “Living With Ghosts” Sigha shifts between brooding subterranean techno soundscapes and fluid emotive strokes. Album opener ‘Mirror’ slowly introduces the listener to the show with an unhurried sketch of quietly grinding austere noise until the second track ‘Ascension’ kicks in with a throbbing techno beat that almost suffocates its undulating synth. The addition of subtle changes to the rhythm and percussion in the final third takes the track close to breakbeat territory. For the last 30 seconds the drums suddenly drop out to a soft drone that acts as a palette cleanser; refreshing the listener for ‘Puritan’’s 6:40 minutes of a wonderfully unrelenting, thudding 4/4 groove and gossamer synths. A highlight is ‘Scene Couple’, its wet licks of acid rise and swells with force yet feel restrained and intricately textured; a track that will be killer on dancefloors for months to come. Sigha cleverly uses two tracks, ‘Suspension’ and ‘Delicate’, to allow the listener to come up for air, making it even more potent when they are thrown into the techno waves again. Their carefully weaved layers envelop in silky ambience; adding an extra stunning dimension to the release. Hypnotic beats punctuate an enthralling windswept soundscape in the nine minute ʻTranslateʼ. The elegant ‘Aokigahara’ rounds off the album in a ten minute beatless wall of foggy ambience that swathes and soothes the listener. Like “The Killer” by Shed, “Living With Ghosts” is a techno record that contains countless moments of experimentation, depth, subtlety and exhilaration across a format that can be the downfall for many producers who are used to delivering 12”s.“Living With Ghosts”, with its commitment to the motifs of UK and Berlin techno, is a skilfully paced, cohesive, complex and compelling album.

5. Marcel Dettmann – Range EP (Ostgut Ton)

As with last year’s “Translation” and the recent “Landscape” EPs Dettmann’s “Range” shows that though the scale of his material is narrow his resolute, glorious techno still contains many shades within their concrete canvas; 50 shades of grey so to speak. Swirling atmospherics introduce the EP’s title track as an unsettling drum pattern ploughs through sullen, foreboding terrain. The pulsing bass drum on ‘Iso’ only just holds the track together as a dense assortment of spiky and hissing sounds ring out and dissipate above cavernous and unsettling held chords. It feels like it’s on the brink of collapse and reaching out from the depths of this instability comes ‘Push’’s barely discernible pitched down voice intoning variations on the track’s title above a rhythmic dry-hump made up of deep bass thuds, whooshing hats and skittering percussion; a standout. Final track ‘Allies’, which was an important inclusion in Ben Klock’s recent, wonderful “Fabric 66”, is an excellent example of Dettmann’s skill. Essentially a single harmonically-rich chord repeats infinitely while razorblade hi-hats and jacking snares alter every single bar. As with most of his unforgiving slabs of techno, he builds and builds the pressure to almost uncomfortable levels without gifting the listener with any real sense of climax or release. “Range” will still be a favourite on dancefloors twelve months from now.

6. Orcas – Orcas (Morr Music)

Named after the mammal native to the Pacific Northwest where Rafael Anton Irisarri (The Sight Below) and Benoit Pioulard hail from, their collaboration as Orcas blends poignant, twinkling pop songs with shuddering masses of electronic sounds; a fusion of song-writing with ambient minimalism that stands somewhere between the piano-based modern compositions of Peter Broderick, the Field’s highly emotive techno and GAS’ subdued beats and stately atmospheres. ‘Pallor Cedes’ sets the tone of the self-titled album with rising and falling drones and a clipped guitar rhythm sitting under softly picked acoustic guitar and Pioulard’s aching repetition of the phrase “like coming up for air”. “Arrow Drawn”’s clever use of vocal double tracking and harmonies slowly seep into the listener’s ears as quiet acoustic guitar and piano merge into ‘Standard Error”s floating loop of sighs. Calling to mind GAS and Irisarri’s work as The Sight Below is “Carrion”, an unhurriedly evolving hymn that encompasses a distant beat, echoed piano parts, an irregular guitar chord and Pioulard’s gauze-covered sad-eyed voice. A standout is their sublime cover of Broadcast’s ‘Until Then’, a poignant tribute to the untimely passing of singer Trish Keenan. Continuing the album’s use of piano, the track is built on a close-mic’d delicately played piano which frames Pioulard’s reflective vocals. Across the album Benoit Pioulard’s vocals glide along amid quiet piano and guitar notes and backing textures that rise and fall in gentle interplay, vinyl crackle and natural reverb adding an important touch of atmosphere. “Orcas” is a beautifully dignified album that summons a sense of space, understated progression and emotional depth.

7. Deepchord – Sommer (Soma)

Deepchord (Rod Modell) is an artist that continues to reinvent and diversify within the dub techno/ ambient techno genres. “Sommer” (summer in German) has lighter, more ethereal feel than Modell’s previous output but his characteristic manipulation of space and time remains. Effect-heavy textures, sliding and shifting rhythmic elements and intricate production details create a constantly evolving almost vaporous tapestry. Field recordings made on a beach close to Modell’s home generate a balmy atmosphere that breathes underneath the light-footed percussion and bass pulsing from the speakers. Like “Silent Harbour”, “Sommer” creates evocative sound passages. Beautiful, humid atmospheres are drawn in ‘Glow’, ‘Wind Farm’ and ‘Cruising Towards Dawn’, dark fluid journeys are traced with ‘Flow Induced Vibrations’ and ‘Gliding’. The listener travels towards the sunny getaway that ‘Amber’, ‘Benetau’ and ‘The Universe As A Hologram’ propose. The album is an amalgamation of deep, warm organic atmospherics and dance music creating a mood evoking the relaxed warm summer evenings the title alludes to.

8. Christian Löffler – A Forest (Ki)

The forests of Usedom, north Germany in which Christian Löffler lived during the making of the album are the backbone of “A Forest”. Over the twelve tracks that make up the album a rich yet spacious tapestry gradually unfurls as we see an entrancingly atmospheric representation of dense woodland. Warm, organic samples of wooden percussion are underpinned with fragile synth melodies; the chord progressions recall John Tejada’s melancholic, sunset-tinged tracks combined with Pantha du Prince’s percussive rhythms, dense textures and obsessive attention to detail. Although the 4/4 bass drum dominates rhythmically it remains unobtrusive, lying low in the mix beneath hypnotic, dreamlike moods. The three vocalists on “A Forest”, Gry, Mohna and Marcus Roloff, are a new dimension to Löffler’s productions and imbue the album with an even greater emotional resonance. On ‘Swift Code’ lyricist and poet Marcus Roloff’s German spoken word passages alternate between implicit and explicitly threatening verses, Mohna’s  dreamy, fragile voice on ‘Eleven’ is surrounded by buzzing noises and distant bass frequencies. In one section her looped voice sits between chopping hi-hats and a bass line that rolls back and forth like sea waves. The beautiful ‘Feelharmonia’ features the Danish singer Gry whose mournful voice is embraced by shuffling percussion, syncopated drums, tapping wood blocks and a bouncing synth pattern. “A Forest” is a standout in its wonderfully elegant and atmospheric beauty.

9. King Felix – SPRING EP (Liberation Technologies)

This “SPRING EP” by King Felix (Laurel Halo working under a name taken from a previous EP) carries on the thread of the “Hour Logic EP”, notably the accelerated beats and ecstatic cries of ‘Aquifer’. The first three tracks, ‘SPRING01’, ‘SPRING02’ and ‘SPRING03’, are reconfigurations of the same instrumentation and theme, one that heavily references early nineties Detroit techno, in particular Drexciya’s underwater world and the sheen of early Model 500. Their rhythms are restless and shuffle constantly. Halo races the drums forward then scales them back to allow piercing synths to sit atop. The vast organ samples that screech through the opening of ‘SPRING 01’ are anchored by a visceral beat and razor-sharp synth textures. Only on the dramatic ‘SPRING03’ does she let a percussion-filled, 4/4 techno beat dominate. The final track, ‘FREAK’, is a collage of drones. Its sagging bass line looms underneath a quivering synth pattern and Halo’s submerged voice which merges into stretched-out chords. “SPRING EP” is coloured by its immediacy, moments of frightening suspense and an almost aggressive purposefulness. Though the four tracks string together as a narrative arc each presents a different personality and it is Halo’s ability that imbues the collection with cohesion.

10. Claudio PRC – Inner State (Prologue)

The young Italian’s debut album takes us into the abyss. It is a minimalistic world of profound and effortless deep, hypnotic techno and one that is filled with thick atmospheres, foggy dubs and unrelenting beats. Claudio’s love for techno and production skills is displayed with confident poise. In his own words, “In most of my tracks, the electroacoustic side plays the more emotional role, where the atmosphere created by the sound research and processing are my means to tell a story, while the rhythm reveals my natural matrix of energy I use to give life to these stories.” Opener ‘Echoes’ is a pitch black techno track with a relentless bass line that fold into waves of static and hi-hats. Intense, snapping percussion tops a droning bass line and cloudy textures in ‘Transparent’ and beat-less ambient track, ‘Leave’, provides a reflective moment before ‘Radial’’s vitriolic beats kick in. With “Inner State”, Claudio PRC has shown great potential while Munich-based Prologue maintains its output of high-quality techno releases.

Liam’s Reviews

Biggest Disappointment of the month

JJ Doom – “Keys to the Kuffs” (Lex)

JJ Doom first came into being after MC Doom was sent some beat CDs on his label Lex Records. Most the beats he chose to work with were created by New Orleans based experimental hip-hop producer Jneiro Jarnel. “Keys to the Kuffs” is the result of the collaboration between the two artists. Its all new ground for Doom, completely different to all his previous projects and while this is a breathe of air at times the project feels like two disparate styles that don’t meld together. However, its by no means an album without its moments ‘Guv’nor’s truncated riff, speech samples and Doom’s rhymes all mesh nicely, ‘Banished’ matches penetrating bass with electronic atmospherics and a lo-fi beat  that expertly underpin Doom’s usually speedy flow, ‘Bite the Thong’ provides lyrics on music industry politics and a twisted flow from Doom and the mournful strings and piano chords of ‘Winter Blues’ are well up their with Doom’s best tracks and adds an extra emotive edge to his complex verbiage. Jneiro keeps things interesting with a variety of styles and beats employed and even a few false endings that then lead on new sections that seem completely unrelated to what’s gone before, unfortunately I feel that though he’s by no means a bad producer, his style doesn’t suit Doom’s unique lyrical style and delivery. I’m also disappointed that I cannot hear the the contributions of Damon Albarn, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and Beth Gibbons (Portishead) as those collaborations seemed like they’d create a contrast to what Doom and Jarnel were expected to provide. Though I’m sure fans of both these artists will find tracks they enjoy hear, I feel overall the album is flawed.

Teengirl Fantasy – “Tracer” (R & S)

The new album by Teengirl Fantasy doesn’t quite live up to expectations but is by no means a massive let down either. The album highlights are ‘Pyjama’ with its broken beats and brittle oriental melodies, ‘End’ with its longing pads, light arpeggios and reverb heavy piano melody, ‘Vector Spray’s tribal beats and sweeping synthetic strings, ‘Do It’ featuring Romanthony of Daft Punk fame with it funky thumping, uplifting house beats and album closer ‘Timeline’ with it glassy arpeggio, knocking beats and Acid style 303 bassline. However, the album lacks variety and fails to convince on the remaining five tracks. The repetition is found in the overuse of glassy synth arpeggios and oriental melodies which grates over the course of the whole album. It also feels like while the duo can deliver thrills aplenty with a track like ‘Do It’ they have a tendency to work their way into an awkward cul-de-sac on other tracks e.g.  ‘Orbit’ and ‘EFX’. Some tracks also suffer from sounding too similar to the duo’s peer particulary Laurel Halo whose sound is recalled throughout the album with no variation on her unique style apparent. As I said at the start of this review its not  all doom and gloom as when the album hits it heights it either delivers in spades or demonstrates great potential for the duo’s future release. Teengirl Fantasy are still a project in development but I await their next move with much anticipation.

Dan Deacon – “America” (Domino)

This very much an album of two halves the first stuffed full of short pop songs, the other a four part classical music style suite. Both are linked to together by Deacon’s concept of writing about America’s greatest geographical vistas and simple experiences. The whole album concurs up images of America from the Grand Canyon to riding on cross country railways and everything in between. This is by far the grandest conceptual and most hi-fi record of Deacon’s career in which he has abandoned traditional instrumentation and studio based recording for circuit bent toys and synthesizers and grotty lo-fi 8 bit sound quality. This lead the album a lush and more detail sound as well as broader sound palette all of which showcases Deacon’s skill as an arranger that may have sometimes been hidden by the noisy natural of his previous albums. The first half opens with the familiar corrosive noise and pounding bass drum that is Deacon trademark before a melody emerges halfway through the opening track ‘Guildford Avenue Bridge’, leading to a temporary blissful ambient section before everything piles back in. Next up is the album’s purest pop song ‘True Thrush’ with its acoustic guitars, and gentle synth arp and piano and mallet riffs that recall the Beach Boy’s finest moments set to a hip-hop beat and given a modern 8-bit twist. ‘Lots’ is an 8-bit electro punk pop stomper complete with sugar rush melodies that blows through your brain and is over before you know it. The first halve finish with the Tangerine Dream-esque ‘Prettyboy’ and ‘Crash Jam’ which channels some of fellow Baltimore oddballs Animal Collective into Deacon’s noisy electro pop song. The second half beings with large arching strings before slowly gather pace and intensity that brings with it 8-bit synth riffs and pounding tribal drums along with complex reverb heavy vocal harmonies and Deacon’s own heavily treated lead vocal. ‘USA II: The Great American Desert’ gives the listen a brief rest bite opening with fizzing and buzzing lead synths and synth bass drone before the entrance of rolling acoustic drums, thundering synth bass, jarring 8-bit melodies and huge vocal harmonies join the party!! The previously mentioned railway trip is evoked on ‘USA III: Rail’ with its complex rhythmic interplay between violin plucks, piano notes and what may or may not be real horns. The album finishes with the immense bass drone and tumbling drums and percussion of ‘USA IV: Manifest’ these elements are later joined by a corrosive synth sound similar to one from the opening track, which bookends the album and ties it together sonically and conceptually. There’s no doubt that “America” is a complex and ambitious work that takes more than a single sitting to digest and though it definitely has some musical success, it’s an album that we’ll be figuring out for a while yet.

Liam’s Top Release of the Month

Matthew Dear – “Beams” (Ghostly International)

Matthew Dear returns with his fifth album under his own name and “Beams” is another great work from an artist who has consistently delivered the good over the years. “Beams” differences from Dear’s previous solo albums as its not produced by him but Van Rivers and the Subliminal Kid, most famous for their work with Fever Ray and Blonde Redhead, of which Dear is a fan. The album combines the dark sounds of Dear’s last album “Black City” and the Talking Heads influenced techno-pop of his masterpiece “Asa Breed”. Due to his superior production and songwriting skills Dear makes combining these two different but not unconnected sounds seem like child’s play and the result is an effortless feel throughout the album.  The album begins with the singles ‘Her Fantasy’ and ‘Earthforms’ the former a tropical sounding techno pop track of the highest quality the latter Dear self described ” deepest delve into a straight rock song”. The album swiftly moves on to another tropical sounding track in ‘Headcage’ the groove led title track of Dear’s EP from January this year. Two more upbeat groove based tracks in ‘Fighting is Futile’ and the Talking Heads influenced ‘Up and Out’ whizz by and give up the more electronically inclined second half of the album. This starts with the Surging synth bass line and techno beat ‘Overtime’ that are barely contained by speakers. ‘Get the Rhyme Right’ returns to similar territory to ‘Earthforms’ but with the emphasis on twisted synths and distorted guitars that smother the drums and bass in their electric filth! Things get more sparse and downtempo on ‘Ahead of Myself’ with Dear’s breathy vocals given minimal synth and drum machine backing. Then album enters the home coming straight with ‘Do The Right Thing’ a song that starts with just a bubbling and bouncing groove topped with lo-fi simple melody but steadily and subtly develops into a full and rounded track thanks to Dear’s masterful arranging. He finishes the album with the one-two punch of ‘Shake Me’ a dark torch song that recalls Depeche Mode of their most moody and magnificent and ‘Temptation’ a slow burner that repays the listeners patience tenfold! All in all “Beams” is a great album from an artist well into his career showing that he can still learn and keep the listen guessing  and satisfied even after all this time.

Vier’s Reviews

Deepchord – “Sommer” (Soma)

Following on from last year’s darkly intense “Hash Bar Loops“,Deepchord (Rod Modell) continues to reinvent and diversify. Traces of the previous album remain on “Sommer” but there is a lighter, more ethereal feel. Deepchord’s characteristic manipulation of space and time remains, which is an integral part of “Sommer”‘s soundscape. Effect-heavy textures, sliding and shifting rhythmic elements and intricate production details create a constantly evolving, vaporous tapestry. Rich field recordings, made on a beach close to Modell’s home, imbue “Sommer” with an aqueous character and create a unified atmosphere that breathes underneath the fluttering percussion and bass pulsing from the speakers. Owing to their airy and aquatic textures, the songs seem like a hybrid of Porter Ricks’ “Biokinetics” and “Merriweather Post Pavilion” by Animal Collective.

Modell explained the reason for “Sommer”‘s relaxed delivery in a recent interview, “This one is different than my previous work. It’s got a lighter feel. The music lacks the tension in other DC projects. Generally, 85% of my recording sessions have been done during the middle of the night. This one was recorded during more daytime hours. Strange as it may seem, I think this affected the outcome. Summertime was in the air. My home is 30 metres to the water/beach, and as I sit in the house, I can see sailboats going by all day and people on the beach. It was stress free. I think this was channelled into the overall feel.” Modell’s new-found guiding practice of “work during the day, by the sea and quickly” (avoiding what he calls analysis-paralysis: a destructive spiral of re-thinking and re-playing of the recorded material in to which many producers fall) results in 13 techno tracks that provide a new view of the ambient Detroit techno that Deepchord has made his own.

“Sommer” captures evocative sound passages. Beautiful, humid atmospheres are drawn in ‘Glow’, ‘Wind Farm’ and ‘Cruising Towards Dawn’, dark fluid journeys traced with ‘Flow Induced Vibrations’ and ‘Gliding’. We travel towards the sunny getaway that ‘Amber’, ‘Benetau’ and ‘The Universe As A Hologram’ propose. In short, “Sommer” is an amalgamation of deep and warm organic atmospherics and dance music. The mood evokes warm summer evenings when the sunset takes on an ethereal and introspective nature. The emotive, atmospheric warmth and intuitively produced layers of details are what makes “Sommer” another essential Deepchord album.

Vier’s Top Release of the Month

Silent Harbour – Silent Harbour (Echochord)

Operating on the cusp of ambient techno and electro-acoustic music, “Silent Harbour”, the new project from Boris Bunnick (who is best known for producing exhilarating techno as Conforce) explores deep-sea submersion and aquatic environments and all the ambiance and isolation such places involve. The concept of “Silent Harbour”: travelling through that great, deep unknown, shines through immediately. From the opening seconds of ‘Aquatic Movement’ the listener is gently lowered below the sea’s surface. Steady pulses guides us past tinkling glass and through gentle washes that sway and shimmer as specks of sounds float by.  Sun rays occasionally beam down from above; sometimes you’re in warm water, other times it’s colder. ‘Cascade’ speaks of danger, suggesting a brewing storm. An attacking beat, which hints at a predator swimming towards prey, builds tension above booms and drones. Further below the surface is ‘Scintillans In The Port’ where we’re met by abstract ambience and gloomy water. Bunnick shapes diffuse sounds until the listener glimpses hallucinatory tones in the dissonant ambience. 4/4 anchored rhythms are fractured and percussions survey the perimeters while the vast space between becomes a playground for radiant metallic timbres and shimmering electronic apparitions. “Silent Harbour”’s structure can be divided into four sections. It takes the listener from the initial submersion down to the gloomy territory of predators then further down to intense, suffocating depths then gradually lifts us back up to the water’s surface during the album’s last four tracks.

‘Geometry’ is the closest song to outright techno on “Silent Harbour”. Bass drums and hats push along; warm bass frequencies soothe and embrace in the warm water. A synth acts as sunrays warming the water’s surface. There is a great focus on details and while it still has a slow tempo (the average BPM is 106) it feels lighter and optimistic. Somehow Bunnik manages to soundtrack what seem like underwater shipwrecks. ‘Dock Operations’ evokes rusted metal and swarms of ocean floor-dwelling vertebrates within dark, murky surroundings. A standout comes in the form of the album’s eighth track ‘Saltwater Intrusion’. Light percussion and sonar-like bleeps introduce a hollow drone that gradually rises to invoke a sense of creeping forebode. After nearly two minutes a determined bass drum cuts through, propelling us further down into the sea. Additional gleaming drones appear and float by.  Shimmering water swirls around the listener as the percussion glides through the expansive ocean. ‘Profundal Zone’ glides the listener through a slow and delicate soundscape. Meditative warm water is recreated with bouncing bass drums, tapping percussion and bubbling synths. The immersive bass frequencies of ‘Descending Radius Curve’ surge and roll as atmospheric sounds appear and dissipate regularly, evoking an exploration of shallow water that bursts with growing coral and flowering aquatic plants. “Silent Harbour” is so brilliantly evocative you will soon forget you’re standing on terra firma. As Kompakt describes it, this is music “for techno heads to fall into when the kicks are too much.”

Vier’s Recommendations

Silent Harbour – “Silent Harbour” 6th August (Echochord)

Dutch producer Conforce debuts a new alias by the name of Silent Harbour with an accompanying eponymous album on 6th August. Best known for dreamy, warm techno, Conforce’s decision to work under an alias is explained by a desire for him to “explore more cerebral and conceptual sounds” with a theoretical focus on “isolation, deep-sea submersion, [and] aquatic environments.” It will be released on the Danish label Echocord. Conforce’s Delsin-released album “Escapism” from November 2011 is highly recommended for fans of techno’s lower BPM side.

DeepChord – “Sommer” 27th August (Soma)

Heir to Berlin’s Rhythm & Sound is the Detroit-based Deepchord. Active since the late ‘90s Deepchord (Rod Modell) has been tweaking the dub-techno formula for years, trying out various balances of muffled beats, hazy ambiance and field recordings. This is precisely what the press release says you can expect from “Sommer” (German for summer): meditative electronic compositions enriched with organic sounds, many of which Modell collected at the beach near his home. “Sommer” comes barely a year after “Hash-Bar Loops” and like that album it will be released on Glasgow institution Soma Records.

Liam’s Recommendations

JJ Doom – “Key to the Kuffs” 20th August (Lex)

JJ Doom is the latest collaborative project to be announced/rumoured for release in 2012 by underground hip-hop legend MF Doom (in addition to Madvillian, Doomstarks and his collaborations with Johnny Greenwood and Thom Yorke from Radiohead) and features producer/rapper Jneiro Jarel. Guests on the album are Beth Gibbons (Portishead), Damon Albarn and Khujo Goodie (Goodie Mob). Check out ‘Guv’nor’ below plus ‘Banished’ from the album here and Dave Sitek’s remix of ‘Rhymin’ Slang’ here.

Teengirl Fantasy – “Tracer” 20th August (R&S)

For their second album “Tracer” Teengirl Fantasy have abandoned their sample based approach and bought in a number high profile guest vocalists Laurel Halo, Panda Bear and Romanthony (most famous for his guest slots with Daft Punk). Moving to Belgian dance label R&S suggests that 4/4 dance beats may more to the fore and so far the three pre-release tracks have demonstrated a good understanding of modern house and Hyperdub dubstep influenced sounds, this could rival Blondes self titled debut album for leftfield dance album of the year!

27th August

Dan Deacon – “America” 27th August (Domino)

The long awaited follow-up to “Bromst” (2009) is Deacon’s first release to use primarily acoustic instruments after many years of creating electronic 8-bit synth music that sounded like a delightfully deranged Atari game soundtrack. This change in direction was prompted after touring “Bromst” with a 13 piece acoustic ensemble. Deacon changed focus on this record making the lyrics and their more positive but still political content front and centre. The album is split into two sides, Side A is full of straight forward pop songs, while Side B is a 21 minute cinematic suite in four parts. The early signs are good with pre-release tracks “Lots” and “True Trush” sounding like wonky pop summer anthems. Whatever the rest of “America” sounds like you can’t doubt Deacon’s ambition.

Matthew Dear – “Beams” August 27th (Ghostly International)

Now a firm fixture on the dance music scene Dear returns with his fourth solo album, the follow up to “Black City” (2010) which featured in Sonic Fiction’s Albums of the Year 2010. The pre-release tracks that have emerged suggest that as with the transition between between “Asa Breed” (2007) and “Black City” Dear continues to subtle evolve his sound rather than completing a revolutary turn around on each new album. This is no bad thing and as he’s always proven in the past, Dear is very much the master of his unique sound.

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