Friday 13 September 2019

LOFT - sSLABicks

There’s a point about two minutes into the third track off of LOFT’s most recent EP and departt from mono games where a shimmering chord rises from the stuttering and thundering surface of the track. In most writing about LOFT aka Aya Sinclair’s work, this “stuttering and thundering” is described as the producer’s tendency towards “experimentalism.” That is a claim I will not dispute. The more I listen to “sSLABicks,” however, the more I’m convinced that LOFT has turned everything on its head. The more I listen, the more I feel comforted by what might seem to be the chaotic mess of percussion and samples that make up much of the piece. And the more I listen, the more I actually feel overwhelmed by the ultra-clean, shimmering light of the chord that pushes through two minutes in. This is what I love about LOFT’s music. It remains sincere, but without trying to assert a “difficulty” in experimentalism. In “sSLABicks,” I believe that you can hear the joy of experiment. And that joy is what makes this track and the whole EP something worth listening to. 

Contributed by K. M.

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Shards - Unrest

Erased Tapes have done it again. The ‘it’ is to breathe life into another unusual, original, poignant contemporary classical group - and to righteously deliver their music our ears, where it belongs! There was Nils Frahm; there was A Winged Victory for the Sullen; etc…

Now there is Shards: a twelve-member experimental choral group led by Kieran Brunt. Their recently released debut album Fine Sounds is in turns disquieting and comforting, minimal and cinematic, digital and analogue; Brunt’s desire to play, to experiment, unconstrained, is transparent at every point on the album. And yet this free play comes across as neither scattered nor incoherent. Instead, the anchor of the album tying it to worldly concerns is its reverence for the textures of all 12 voices. Eager to celebrate the voices and bring as many effects as possible out of them, Brunt sometimes allows them to collect into a powerful wall that crescendos like a storm gathering; elsewhere the harmonies are delicate and uplifting; and sometimes single, forlorn voices flicker in and out of our path (ehemm “Lost”).

This is an album that ponders if choral music can be deeply affecting and deeply human even when chopped up, filtered, interwoven with synths  effects, with robotic elements, with smatterings of percussion and bass. The answer: a resounding yes. When you open up this album and its tones hit you, you’ll feel you’ve entered a surreal church service at some sort of Hi-Tech Cathedral.

"Unrest" is my favorite track on the album. For ... reasons.


Saturday 7 September 2019

AMAZONDOTCOM - Leopard’s Dream

There are a lot of weird DJ/producer names floating around these days (I’m looking at you, DJ fart in the club). However, in my mind, the king of them all is AMAZONDOTCOM. That being said, I don’t want their name to get all the attention. Their most recent EP, Mirror River, is excellent. It has everything you want out of contemporary electronic music: blips, bloops, blops, squeaks, bird calls and water droplets. Nevertheless, at its core, I think “Leopard’s Dream” has the same appeal as an old school house track. It’s got one interesting, juicy little riff that massages your brain for four minutes as the producer plays with filters and other effects. It’s got a pounding rhythm, but a simple premise that makes it a real joyride of a listen.

Contributed by K. M.

Tomás Novoa - Arrecife


In his latest release “Arrecife” Tomás Novoa bops us steadily, patiently through a blissful soundscape of his own unique construction. If you had to paint that landscape, it would most definitely look like the artwork above. The effect is blissfully estranging – not dissimilar to the experience of listening to Jon Hopkins or Nicolas Jaar. We are treated to intimate textures; at times the beat rests on a bedrock of intimate crackling, elsewhere subtle peripheral whispers paint space. The breathy primary vocal sample seems to beckon us, as a soft heartbeat-like thud underpinning the track gradually feels like our own. Maybe most remarkable is Novoa’s ability to transition dynamically between sections of the track, collapsing it all to a minimum, and then sweeping us back in, again and again, gracefully, like we are witnessing a tide moving in and out.

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Sgrow - Extremes

Sgrow is an electronic duo consisting of Vilde Nupen and Kristoffer Lislegaard. They hail from Oslo. And they have hailed down upon us a new piece of electronica: a manic, galloping track that rushes past your ears like you are racing through a freaky sci-fi landscape in a convertible with the roof down.

 It’s a soundscape that is hard to tie down; they seem to have the same problem, because on their website they cite as musical inspirations "Tim Hecker, Vince Staples, Kelela, Holy Other, Little Dragon and Aphex Twin.” On facebook they add to that list "Four Tet, FKA Twigs, Björk" … and many others. Bjork’s influence certainly comes across in Vilde Nupen's compelling spoken vocal part in the chorus that seems to simultaneously disclose and shield some critical information. Abundant details successfully draw and hold our attention, from the intricate opening synth pattern, to creaky, glitchy textures and tangled vocal samples.

Monday 2 September 2019

Florentino - Latigo

After his debut EP Fragmentos (where he worked with the likes of rising star Bad Gyal), Ilimitado finds British-Columbian producer Florentino continuing to develop his hybrid sound and working with a new cadre of up and coming artists, like Brazil’s MC Bin Laden. The sounds are eclectic and reference reggaeton, cumbia and baile funk as much as they do UK bass and grime. 

Although every track on this EP deserves a mention, I want to draw particular attention to Latigo, the only track without a listed vocalist. Over the course of four minutes, a looming, atmospheric melody trades places with a charging soca beat. There are squeaky blips and synth effects more reminiscent of the UK’s club sound, but the main rhythm of the track is sure to get your hips shaking. 

Contributed by K. M.