Tag Archive: techno


This is an album that could have very easily passed me by so thanks to Rough Trade Shops and there out this week Tweets for drawing my attention to it. It turns this is Apparat’s (aka Sascha Ring) first album in six years and I can barely remember anything about “Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theatre)” though I think I did listen to it on release. The good news is that “LP5” is a strong return for the now veteran producer.

“LP5” might be Apparat’s most ambient and understated release to date though he still unleashes the techno side of his sound on a smattering of tracks. But this not a boring or static album far from it, Apparat is able to use dynamic song structures and a real attention to detail in his sound design to make the listener is always engaged. Among the shimmering synths pad, soft pianos, picked electric guitar and FX is Ring’s voice as the emotional centre of the album. He’s always had a unique voice and it never fails to evoke emotion in the listener. Two great examples of all the above are second track and lead single “DAWAN” and “HEROIST” the former starts out as a spooky synthscape with it’s beat feeling barely there thanks to reverb and vocals that drift in and out of the mix then Apparat allows for a brief lull in the track only for a driving beat to taken over a push the track into a new space and then onwards to it’s conclusion. On “HEROIST” which starts out restless and adrift before finding it’s way to way the an acoustic beat that again changes course of the track.  ‘LAMINAR FLOW’ and ‘BRANDENBURG’ exhibit Ring’s masterful combining of both electronic elements and organic ones e.g. Strings. hese are just a handful of highlights on an impressive and cohesive album.

I have definitely found “LP5” one of the hardest albums of My Favourite Releases of the Year… so far series to write about. I knew on first listen that I liked it and that it was a great album but expressing how and why it is has been a difficult task. I highly recommend listening to this album and just giving yourself over to it for it’s forty four minute run time. Block everything else and immense yourself in it.

Check out Apparat below and let me know what you think of “LP5” in the Comments.

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This is Part One in a series of posts rounding up my favourite releases of the last three months and writing about them. Part Two will be published next Saturday.

Yak – “Pursuit of Momentary Happiness”

An early contender for Album of the Year comes from this English psychedelic rock band. Yak don’t just recycle the psychedelic (colour projector) wheel this is an album of well produced punchy and catchy songs that don’t out stay there welcome while still having the depth of albums with much longer cuts. Even when they do go long such as on album closer ‘This House Has No Living Room’ (which features J.Spaceman aka Jason Pierce of Spiritualized and Spacemen 3 fame) the song is so good (not to mention a perfect album closer) that you don’t notice the track length. A highly recommended album from a band very much on the up.

 

Cotonete – “Super-vilains”

I first discovered Cotonete when they popped up on a Spotify Release Radar playlist towards the end of last year. I instantly liked this French Funk band, in fact, Spotify is pretty good at finding me groovy music from the other side of the English Channel. I suspect this goes back to all the mid 70s Serge Gainsbourg albums I’ve listened in the last four years!!! Cotonete are influenced by The JB’s (James Brown’s famous late 60’s backing band), Headhunters era Herbie Hancock and Brazilian acts such as Deodato and Banda Black Rio. It’s a potent and funky cocktail with deep basslines, punchy horns, cutting rhythm guitar and a truckload of percussion atop top notch drummer David Georgelet. This is music that is at home on the dancefloor as it would soundtrack the car chase in The French Connection or when the tempo drops it’s perfect music to chill out to. I can’t recommend this album enough and I think it will be one of those under the radar gems that gets overlooked. Don’t sleep on it!!!

 

Malibu Ken – “Malibu Ken”

Ok, so when this album was first announced late last year my initial reaction was 1) What? This is seems like a strange collaboration (Malibu Ken is a collaboration between Underground Hip-Hop MC/Producer Aesop Rock and Psychedelic Electro Hip-Hop Producer and founder of Black Moth Super Rainbow Tobacco). 2) If it works it’s could be awesome. Then I heard the first single ‘Acid King’ and watched it’s accompanying video I was excited about the potential for the album. A couple of months later the album dropped I wasn’t disappointed the album is a fantastic blend of Electro Hip-Hop and Funk tunes with Aesop Rock bring his own verbose lyrical content and amazing flow that have become his trademark since his enter to the music world with his debut album ‘Float’ in the year 2000. This album is in and out in thirty five minutes but you don’t any more music as it’s a wholly satisfying album. If this is the only Malibu Ken album that they’ll have a 100% knockout for us all to love for years to come. If Aesop and Tobacco continue to collaborate and create albums of this quality then we’ll be incredibly lucky. What are you waiting for check it out!!!

 

Cosey Fanni Tutti – “Tutti”

Cosey Fanni Tutti has been a member of not one but two great Electronic music acts first of all she was a member of Industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle (1975-2012) and then her a partner Chris Carter (also a member of Throbbing Gristle) formed Chris & Cosey (1981-) and pursued a soft Electro/Techno direction. On her second solo album she digs deep into dark Electro/Techno territory but with a couple of surprises. The first surprise is that while you can dance to some of the tracks on this album a majority are slower and feature thicker heavier sounds. This wasn’t what I was expecting after hearing the title track on Spotify. However, this is no negative as Tutti expertly creates these atmospheric and engaging tracks. The other surprise was the use of a Cornet as the lead instrument of the title track Tutti has played violin in the past at early Throbbing Gristle shows but as far as I’m aware the Cornet is a new instrument to her. I definitely think the Cornet adds something to the title track both adding a more human feel and more dissonance. If you like Electronic music you’ll get a lot of “Tutti” it covers Electro/Techno and Ambient music across it’s tightly packed 38 minutes and doesn’t waste a single moment. It’s the sound of veteran showing she still has plenty to offer even in an ever changing world.

Octo Octa – “For Lovers” EP

This EP opens with ‘I Need You’ the most blissful ten minutes of music that I’ve heard so far this year. It’s envelopes you in it’s vocals moans and multi layered synths pads, it’s warm and welcoming and will always put a smile on your face on matter what else is going on or has gone on. Second track ‘Bodies Meld Together’ goes back to the 90’s for a breakbeat techno beat making for a hard beat but no less harmonious and luxurious synth layers and it’s a contrast that really works. The EP is rounded out by ‘Loops For Healing’ which a lilting melody with deep House chords and bass drum throb. Overall this is an EP that works thematically but each track stands alone as it’s own piece quite an achievement. Highly recommended.

 

Kokoroko – ‘Kokoroko’ EP

This is London 8 piece Jazz/Funk/Afrobeat band Kokoroko’s debut release though the band has been playing gigs together for a number of years now. You really should watch their set for The Boiler Room, I’ll embed it at the bottom of this post. The EP kicks off with ‘Adwa’ it’s funky Afrobeat shuffle and with bands every powerful horns taking the lead on this track. There is a break down for a guitar solo and then builds back into a sax solo before returning to the main horn refrain. The goes more down tempo and softer with their playing on the ‘Ti-de’ it’s a thoughtful track but never ponderous and the instruments have equal billing. There are even some nice female vocal harmonies towards the end of the track. ‘Uman’ is up next starting off a little slow but when the drums and bass kick in were back in Afrobeat territory again the horns the real leaders though this time they play sharp staccato lines. The EP ends with ‘Abusey Junction’ which originally appeared on the ‘We Out Here’ (2018) compilation that bought showcased the burgeoning and diverse current Jazz scene in London. The track is down tempo and focus more on the guitar, percussion, bass and electric piano compared with a lot of Kokoroko’s music to date, it’s an excellent track on a great EP. I ‘d really like to see Kokoroko live as I missed my chance last year and I can’t wait to hear what they deliver on their debut album, they are a band that has already shown they can be fantastic and yet still show so much promise.

 

Let me know what you think of these releases and about your favourites in the Comments below.

 

 

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It’s been seven years since Axel Willner released “From Here We Go Sublime” his debut album as The Field and with each new album he has incrementally evolved his sound. “Cupid’s Head” sees him changing his sound the most so far, exploring a darker and moodier side that is in stark contrast to most of his previous work as The Field, though it shares some similarities with his Loops of the Heart project. In fact, the album the seems to taking its cues from his debut’s centrepiece ‘The Deal’ “an intimidating monolith of techno that swells and pulsates over its 10-minute running time.”

The album opens with ‘They Won’t See Me’ where a synth sound echoes out before the main beat and stuttering chopped up synth lead come striaght in swiftly followed by a slow moving analogue synth melody. Two and a half minutes the hi-hats double in intensity, there’s no sign of a snare or clap. Three minutes and thirty seconds in a new resonate fuzzy synth melody comes arching over the mix and bring with it another chopped elements that sounds like a vocal loop. While the track glistens on the surface, there’s darkness lurking below. Next up is ‘Black Sea’ which begins with a vocal sample that bounces through a delay over the top of a thin drum machine rhythm and chopped up sound bed. Around forty five seconds in a filter sweep synth subtly enters the mix. one minute thirty seconds in the sound bed of chopped audio shifts in rhythm and the track gains renewed purpose. Again three minutes in there’s a shift a it renews the track momentum, the synths sounded wetter now, coated in delay and with a thicker layered beat underneath. The layered synths start to fade out around seven minutes in giving way to a pulsing synth bass line and techno beat. Shuffling hats drop in eight minutes and fourty five seconds in and the bass line turns more acid techno, breathy vocal sample bounce around the stereo mix. All ready its clear that this The Field’s densest and darkest work to date and despite the shifting sound beds and techno beats it also feels like his least club friendly, this isn’t a criticism of the music, Wilner’s music has always worked in home as well as the club but this time it might just work in the home.

The title track opens with another vocal sample, this time covered in heavy huge reverb. It’s swiftly followed a shuffling hi-hat pattern and thumping techno bass drum. The intensity of the hi-hats doubles one minute in pushing the track forward. There’s a break down around two minutes thirty seconds that leaves the vocal alone apart from an analogue synth bass line, there’s a real impact when everything drops back about thirty seconds later. There’s a static, subtle synth melody underpinning this section. The bass becomes more dominate and overbearing as the track continues towards its climax. It’s a great example of Willner’s skillful use of dynamics and also that his every element of his music can stand of it’s own as well as with the other elements of a track. ‘A Guided Tour’ combines a slow moving melody and synth bass arpeggio bubble up that fade in slowly before being joined by a deep, pulsing bass drum and simple hi-hat pattern. The hi-hat pattern changes after a few bars and is swiftly joined by a new more resonant filtered synth arpeggio. A great rolling bass line/drone comes in around five minutes in, along with a deep, repeatitive vocal sample.

‘No. No…’ starts off with a flapping bass drone and distorted and reverberate female vocal singing ‘no, no,no, no, no…’ a bass line is just audible below the noise drone. New synths slip in subtle around three minutes in and the bring a spiky heavily phased hi-hat pattern kicks in and a slow moving melody emerges. The album finishes with  the epic ’20 Seconds of Affection’ which kicks off with a noise synth and distant glistening synth arpeggio,  before a bass drum emerges from the murk pushes the track forward. A cool subtle synth bass pulse comes in around four minutes in.

With ‘Cupid’s Head” Willner has shown why he’s consider one of the finest techno artists of his generation, yet again he’s provided an album full of detail and heart, all underpinned with analogue sound and techno pulse. The quality level on his releases never drops and “Cupid’s Head” is no different, though this time he’s demonstrated that he can dramatically change the mood of his work without losing what makes it great in the first place. “Cupid’s Head” is highly recommended to techno and electronica fans who what some dark and deeper and those that love dark, dense electronic soundtrack by the likes of John Carpenter, Cliff Martinez and Wendy Carlos.

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I’ve been a fan of Factory Floor since discovering them back in 2009 when The Quietus began championing their cause. Since then the trio have collaborated with the likes of Simon Fisher Turner, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti, released a series of astonishing 12” singles and remixes and stunned many a gig and festival audience. All this has lead to one of most highly anticipated albums of the year and it doesn’t disappoint.

The album opens with ‘Turn It Up’ which sets the scene for the rest of the album perfectly. It opens with electronic percussion that’s swiftly followed by a bass drum, processed male vocals and intense electronic cowbell. Nik Colk’s vocals join the male vocals and the track starts to feel like a minimal Arthur Russell production but more industrial in feel. Chattering techno hi-hats cut in upping the tension. The vocals get increasingly more processed and alien as the track progresses recalling those of Laurel Halo circa ‘Logic Hour’. Next up is ‘Here Again’ which begins with a synth arpeggio that fades in and out of view. Live drums kick playing in a breakbeat style and female vocals echo out. The track reminds me of Chris & Cosey who Factory Floor have collaborated with. There a great clap that comes in around two minutess in. Another arpeggio comes in to play counterpoint to the original in the third minute. the second half of the track is dominated by lots of descending delay effects, rolling toms and chattering hi-hats Colk’s vocals hovering just above.

The single ‘Fall Back’ combines a thumping acoustic bass drum, throbbing synth arpeggio and slap in the face electronic snare and toms during its intro. Colk’s vocals cut in coated in  thick effects (pitched shifted, with maybe some reverb). The chattering hi-hats kick in around 2 minutes in and give the track extra forward momentum and a faster feel. I love the way the intensity builds and when the acid bass that kicks in part through with its great spluttering, squelchy sound. ‘Two Different Ways’ is an great track that shows off the band ability to make you dance as it does their industrial intensity. It starts off with electronic bass drum and snare, backing huge synth arpeggio, toms roll in and out and hi-hats tease, the female vocal drops in coated in reverb. Wood blocks kick in with a funky rhythm around three minutes in. Wet, gloopy delay effects drip over the mix around the four minute mark, then the track finds yet more momentum with the synth bass arpeggio growing stronger and stronger as the track progresses.

The album finishes with the one-two punch of ‘Work Out’ and ‘Breathe In’. The former picks up where ‘Two Different Ways’ left off as electronic drums and percussion thump and patter while a stabby bass synth plays over the top. Tom-toms fall all over the place. Colk’s vocal echoes out creating a harmony. In second half there are more delay effects and an arpeggio that add variety and intensity, as does noise mixed in with the hi-hats and synths. A funky more resonate synth enters around 5 minutes adding extra movement and impetus to the track. The latter is the perfect end to the album and strongly recalls Cabaret Voltaire in their mid 80’s electro prime.  A thick bass synths starts things off before being swiftly joined by a tough acoustic four to the floor beat and intermit processed vocals. The vocals are used as samples rather than typical use of lead vocals.

All-in-all Factory Floor have created a great debut album that both lives up to the four years of hype that preceded it and is also surprisingly accessible compared to what I (and most critics) had expected. Go out and get yourself a copy of “Factory Floor” you won’t regret it.

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New York duo Blondes released their self-titled debut album last year to much acclaim, it even made number seven on my Top Ten Alternative Releases of 2012 list. That album tapped into influences ranging from Steve Reich’s minimalism, to house music via Cluster kosmiche musique. On “Swisher” the duo take a subtly different direction leaning much harder on more obvious dance beats and sounds.

The album opener has a familiar feel to the first album though the percussion is heavy and grows in intensity as the track climax’s giving way to the techno shuffle of ‘Bora Bora’. The track combines a techno beat complete with distant snare, deep bass drum and insistent hi-hats with busy percussion, a minimal bell-like synth melody and creaky yet metallic synth slivers. Despite its title, alluding to tropical climbs ‘Bora Bora’ is one of the darker tracks that are sprinkled across the album. ‘Andrew’ takes things to a more upbeat and house vibe with it lithe four to the floor beat and sighing female vocal sample. The track’s main melody appears after a couple of minutes suggesting a different emotion, sadness, though the track swings back to a more positive feel with the riser and filter sweep effects that dominate its final minutes.

Next up is ‘Poland’ arguably Blondes best track to date to. It begins with an echoing acid synth bass line and four to the floor bass drum, swiftly followed by chattering, fast hi-hats and a synth arpeggio. Around three minutes in a glassy synth melody and new purposeful blocky synth bass enter giving the track remained purpose. The track continues to grow and oush forward until around six minutes in when everything drops away leaving just the drums, synth bass line and the delayed occasional synth swirl to slow ease the track out. Its followed by the energetic and incredibly percussive ‘Clasp’ (even the synths are percussive) which is another track that has a darken, colder edge than previous Blondes tracks. ‘Rei’ takes the dark edge to its logically conclusion with a punishing almost industrial techno beat playing beneath rushing synth arpeggios and pads that whooshing and bubble up over the top of the beat. Definitely a track that could hold its own in techno Mecca Berghain. The album closes with ‘Elise’ with its fizzing and whirring synths, a four to the floor bass drum (woody, acoustic), a sunrise synth pad and insistent electronic cowbell. Later in the track s synth bass line drops, swiftly followed by a clap, creating a house feel.

Though “Swisher” doesn’t feel as good as Blondes debut track for track and I miss the kosmiche musique touches “Swisher” is a solid collection with a few great highlights (‘Poland’, ‘Clasp’ and ‘Rei’). The duo have both made steps forward towards a new darker direction and shown they can make more conventional dance tracks but maybe lost a little of what made them stand out in the first place.   

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