29 Oct 2014 — Henning Lahmann
Of the three different stages inside Krakow's decaying late-communist Hotel Forum – the venue where Unsound's main club nights are staged on the festival's closing weekend – Room 3 is probably the toughest to unleash a proper party in, at it's essentially a large bar by design, not exactly a dancefloor. Which is why, I'd argue, it takes some particularly talented or rather ruthless DJs to keep up the excitement for a whole night. Enter Berlin's Janus crew, who took over the room on Friday night, running on a bill commissioned by CTM's Berlin Current project, as reported earlier. Unsound's Polish and international crowd didn't hesitate to buy into the vibe, providing a setting that in its best moments at least came very close to the most relentless nights at Janus' home base Chesters. As per usual, Lotic's hour was especially marked by a dazzling, unapologetic yet infectious eclecticism, and we're happy to exclusively present the live recording of his set below, which was kindly provided by London's NTS Radio.
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29 Oct 2014 — Henry Schiller
Xen is the debut album from London-based Venezuelan producer Arca (Alejandro Ghersi), a follow-up of sorts to last year’s self-released mixtape &&&&&. Just like &&&&&, Xen might be described as a rollercoaster ride. Xen is a twisting, sputtering loop-de-loop of an album, a structure you cannot appreciate until the harness comes down and the wheels start spinning, with jolts and jumps that cannot be anticipated until it's a moment too late. But Xen differs from &&&&& in a very significant way: Xen has a palpable element of relaxation.
Not to say that the music of Xen is itself particularly relaxing. If anything, Xen is more anxious and discomfiting than its more aggressive forebear. But Xen is an album produced by someone who is comfortable enough to step slightly away from the vicious – and brilliant – style of production that got him work on albums by heavy hitters like Kanye West and Bjørk. To bring yourself down from that takes a heaping of “Zen” most people do not have access to.
Xen is not, like the also excellent &&&&& was, a literal projection of tension and hunger. But it does meditate on these and similar topics. Xen is thoughtful and thought-out, at times even solemn (see “Failed” and “Wound”), coming closer to the work of Tim Hecker or Oneohtrix Point Never than the maddash hacking of Ghersi’s earlier work.
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29 Oct 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski
Canadian cooperative label Heretical Objects' latest release Cairns by M B Baker is a slow-burning acoustic guitar long night in the woods. Its dreamy aspects might arrive from cricket sounds, or likenesses to Animal Collective's Campfire Songs. Mostly, the ethereal vibe derives from patient chord progression which is at times beautiful and otherwise dissonant. "Two," the aptly titled second track on the album, bears this quality the most. "Six," another aptly titled track as it is the sixth track, is a raw, ambient scene, shimmering like a winter morning, complete with an effect which resembles snowdrift carried by bitter winds as heard from inside of a dwelling. It is indeed a beautiful track. "Sinister Purpose" is an experimental Cash-esque revenge track, and more straightforwardly structured than most of the other songs. The album as a whole is both vocal and instrumental, folky and psychedelic; I believe Baker's focus really is in delayed guitar cadence and the space between accentuations, the moments of silence between crackling wood.
Cairns is out now and you can download or buy the limited edition cassette here.
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28 Oct 2014 — Richard Greenan
London's Joane Skyler and Bristol's Hamish Trevis, aka Kinlaw, join forces on another fine record from Reckno (and the UK label's first vinyl release). Skyler & Kinlaw finds the producers gleefully one-upping each other in a sort of affectionate sonic tussle. Skyler's fragmented rave sketches are present, as are Kinlaw's more murky, pummeling driftscapes. But the real magic of Skyler & Kinlaw emerges when we lose track of who's doing what. This happens during the majestic, sickly wooz of "くコ:彡", or the triumphant Bollywood daydream "RIPE". There's quite a lot of tape manipulation going on here, and maybe it's Skyler's hand on the speed dial that causes snares and breaks to ebb and flow like a spluttering two-stroke engine. And perhaps the fistfuls of trappy hi-hats, clustering weirdly over snippets of distorted conversation, are hallmarks of Kinlaw. But, as the project sets out, this is less a split, more a combining of powers. Droll as ever, Reckno kingpin Chris Catlin sums it up:
Apparently at one point during a difficult bit of drum programming Joane's skull turned to smoke, Kinlaw inhaled it and blew it back into the mixing desk then poured black syrup over the keyboards while Joane's hands hooked up the perpetual sunset plugin and turned the rainbow filter up to infinity. But I digress...
You can get hold of Skyler & Kinlaw digitally or in the form of a 12" vinyl LP via Reckno.
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28 Oct 2014 — Dave Power
A large amount of current ambient/electronic music consists of beautiful slow-moving chord progressions on processed strings like Stars of the Lid or more experimental/noise mediums like Tim Hecker. This is not the case for Panabrite’s newest album Pavillion as it is heavily made up of new age-style synth lines and, according to the man behind the Panabrite, particularly influenced by the minimalism and prog of 70s-era Italy. Panabrite is the solo project of Norm Chambers based out of Seattle. Similarly to M. Sage, Chambers melds together electronic soundscapes of synths and electric keyboards with organic instrumentation like acoustic guitar, xylophone, and bells. Panabrite’s main sound combines that late 70s synth sound with heavily tangible instruments to create a very ambient, new age landscape.
Pavilion blends electronic and living worlds. The opening track “Veil” begins with the sound of steady rain while sparkling synths gradually join the mix, echoing and bouncing off of each other in the background. A slowly moving line is added, reminiscent of Gregorian chants of 10th-century Europe, causing the album’s opening to convey a steadily sacred and solemn atmosphere. Another notable track is “Memory”, which starts with a continuous Rhodes piano line that gives way to vocoder-effected vocals that loop and pan into a tremendously ethereal synth drone.
The whole album invariably floats through space as a slow, methodic drone. At the end of “Balsam” we are momentarily dragged out of this extraterrestrial world and back to our own planet where a distantly running industrial fan is heard underneath echoing wind chime bells. Pavilion moves in waves, rising with the electronic architecture and falling back with earthly transitions. The closing track “Quartz,” ends with an incredibly emotional pad of synth strings, maintaining and solidifying Chambers’ love for new age ambient recordings. It’s a short track that ends in decaying, warbled synth whistles, abruptly ending the 44-minute journey through the cosmos, 1970s-era Italian minimalism, and synthetic new age soundscapes.
Step onto the Pavilion that Panabrite has meticulously constructed, out now on Immune Recordings.
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27 Oct 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski
The atmospheric sounds of a dentist's office are comparable to the metallicity and searing audio mutations of Katie Gately's work. Her new movement, "Pivot," out on Fat Cat October 27th as a part of the Split 12" Series, displays the usual Gately melodies which lead listeners to unexpected places while being followed by surreal lyrics and indiscernible buzzing that originated with Gately singing into her at home studio microphone. Around eight minutes into the track, we are left alone to some dissonant timpani-sounding drum being struck at a rate that reminds me of the ticking of a giant universal clock, before medieval vocal cadence enters, followed by all kinds of silly blaring horns and rhythmic banter. Just let it suck you in.
Since the FC Split 12" Series focuses on emerging artists, and because we've been interested in Katie's style for some years, I felt that this elevation would be a great opportunity to sit down with the artist and pick her brain. As it turns out, Katie is a friendly, funny, and exceedinly cunning individual. Here's our conversation held via Skype chat.
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16 Oct 2014 — Henry Schiller
DoublePlusGood are a pop group from Portland, Oregon, and last month they released their first album in three years, You Can Master Life, on SoHiTek Records. Now, the group has collected some of their best Portland music pals to remix four tracks from the album for an EP titled – perhaps cleverly, certainly playfully, and maybe even a little bit obviously – You Can Remaster Life. You can listen to the exclusive stream of the EP after the jump.
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15 Oct 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski
While studying Sadie Plant's brilliant Zeroes + Ones, I came across her interpretation of how net programming and social media are rearranging our uses for hierarchical structures. Plant establishes that hypertext is a non-linear, weaved form of footnoting. By surfing the net and following hyperlinks, one does not abandon a main text but instead is presented a macrocosmic idea and its backing details in a more spiraling way. Such easy-access cross-referencing has begun to lessen our thinking rectangularly, limited to the edges of the page.
Hypertext programs and the Net are webs of footnotes without central points, organizing principles, hierarchies.... Such complex patterns of cross-referencing have become increasingly possible, and also crucial to dealing with the floods of data which have burst the banks of traditional modes of arranging and retrieving information and are now leaking through the covers of articles and books, seeping past the boundaries of the old disciplines, overflowing all the classifications and orders of libraries, schools, and universities (Plant 10).
If hypertext is another form of narrational text and editing protocol, it is safe to say that telling the same story through a different lens, or sending the same information through a different grid, is indeed informative as well as expansive. Undoing the straight and narrow, single-strand perception as the standard doesn't only benefit our experiences as perceptual beings; it also speaks to the circularity and mysticism radiating off of the internet, which is being absorbed by this eager stage of cultural history.
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