REVIEW: Client_03 – Ur_Luv / Interpersonal Relationship Assessment (2021)

“It sounds a lot like you’re the one assessing us”, the ‘interviewer’ says. So what does that make this?

B-side track Interpersonal Relationship Assessment is a 12 minute sound play of the character that is Client_03 being ‘assessed’; a therapy-like interplay in which a feminine robotic voice answers a down pitched interviewer’s questions. All and all, it’s a not-so veiled comment on Neo-liberal capitalism (or ‘late-stage’ capitalism as Mark Fisher put it) in which ‘the artist as character’ acts as a comment on our collective humanity drowned out in the pursuit of productivity.

There isn’t much out there on the ‘sentient computer program’ character that is Client_03, and that’s probably how Charlie Fieber intends it to be.

Screenshot taken on 4/08/2022 from video 'Client_03 - Ur_Luv' uploaded 9/12/2021 on Youtube by Supermarkt.
Screenshot taken on 4/08/2022 from video ‘Client_03 – Ur_Luv’ uploaded 9/12/2021 on Youtube by Supermarkt.

Fieber, better known as Fracture, is an electronic musician from the UK and is one of the founders of the Astrophonica label. And while it isn’t immediately confirmable, it seems pretty likely that they’re one and the same. You didn’t really believe AI music programs were flippin’ samples this well, did you?

Nevermind all that.

A-side track Ur_Luv is an absolute Electro jam. Pitched out and glitched out, Client_03’s flip of Collapse’s Hold Me in Your Arms vocal track grabs the listener’s attention by the ears and never lets go. Swishy drum machine rhythms and punchy kicks keep on stepping as a fat synth acts as the minimal but deep groove needed to push this track to perfection.

Ur_Luv is complete Electro bliss.

Go grab it while it’s still online.

For fans of: Fracture, Adam F, DJ Solo

Like Client_03? Give these a listen: A_GIM, Siu Mata, Phasmid

REVIEW: Montel Palmer – Catastropheland (2022)

Catastropheland, despite what its name suggests, instigates a state of dubbed out bliss. From the Cologne, Germany based trio Montel Palmer, Catastropheland is a lo-fi futuristic album full of post-apocalyptic minimal rhythms and tripped out, oil-slick synth ambience.

The album’s low fidelity recording wraps its contents in noisy warmth. Electronics percolate around bumping minimal synth bass lines while the occasional spoken vocal draws out in waves of delay. There’s a delightful degree of absurdity to it all, while still retaining an emotionally accessible tone.

Faintly reminding me of UK Hip-Hop group Strange U, Montel Palmer’s futuristic sound is simultaneously dystopian and relaxing. It’s not entirely uncommon to see people bemoaning our lack of ‘futurism’ as a sign of a dismal societal/global outlook, but perhaps what’s more telling is what we see in what little futurism we do have. It could be argued that ‘futurism’, as an artistic element or mode, could never accurately predict anything to come from the chaotic world we live in. But I believe an audience focusing on what futurism says about the future completely misses the point.

The future really is now.

For fans of: Bill Laswell, Meat Beat Manifesto, Ouxh,

Like Montel Palmer? Give these a listen: skintape, Strange U, Cindy

REVIEW: The Tleilaxu Music Machine – Audrey’s Trance / I Saw Her Die EP (2011)

Remixed film tracks in the days of Witch House, these wonkified reworks of Angelo Badalamenti and Ennio Morricone are representative of a time, a brief moment, standing on the edge of Twin Peaks’ new-found cultural ubiquity, when the previously cult show of the early 90s was only starting to be reworked into contemporary culture. While Twin Peaks’ influence on the Doom Jazz genre cannot go understated, it’s here, at the beginning of television streaming in the early teens, that we begin to see Twin Peaks looked to en mass.

Opening track Audrey’s Trance is a warped and wistful refashioning of Badalamenti’s Audrey’s Dance from one of many iconic R&R diner scenes. The EP as a whole serves as a reminder of the early 2010s’ click-clacky percussion and penchant for side-chaining. The fledgling embrace of a purely-digital tonality may now feel primitive (or video game-esque), but delights in the eerie and off-kilter soothing quality similar to that of Twin Peaks.

I Saw Her Die, a reworking of Ennio Morricone’s theme from the Giallo film Chi L’ha Vista Morire? (1972), ramps up in intensity. Its chopped and warped choir samples fitting for the gnostic aesthetics of a genre like Witch House- the track’s energetic uptick decidedly something out of the world of video games.

At 7 minutes 49 seconds in duration, the EP’s closing track Your Melancholick Touch is a decent Dark Ambient work to close out the album. A dark drag of digital noise stretched out in all its low bit-rate glory. The song’s singular refrain repeats until entropy and eventual unceremonious cut-off. This almost depiction of ‘non-time’ remains fettered to the medium’s boundaries- with Ambient recordings of any kind we may imagine we ‘get lost’, but we’re always brought back. There is a definitive, inevitable end to this which attempts to capture the infinite. Your Melancholick Touch, like most worthwhile Dark Ambient, attempts to depict angst-undefinable.

Witch House was in a lot of ways a digital fashion trend, a commercial quicksilver in our narcissistic consumer culture. But looking back, there can still be pleasant or even worthwhile gems. I would say The Tleilaxu Music Machine (now releasing work under Pink Abduction Ray) has produced one of these gems. But what emotional urgency captured here remains relevant today? By going backward, do we find ourselves? Or do we simply find something to be mined? Perhaps that can only be self-interrogated by the individual listener.

For fans of: Pink Abduction Ray, Sidewalks and Skeletons, Blank Banshee

Like The Tleilaxu Music Machine? Give these a listen: Meat Beat Manifesto, Mikado Koko, Berberian Sound Studio (Broadcast)

REVIEW: Mazut – Sarajevo (2021)

Released in 2021 on the Polish label Positive Regression, Warsaw-based duo Mazut’s Sarajevo is a driving industrialized Techno EP free of the Industrial genre’s tackier connotations.

Reminiscent of the early works of Front 242, Sarajevo’s Industrial framework is a maximalist fantasy built from a plethora of minimalist motifs. The 4 song EP has a clicky analog tonality- plenty of warmth, with cold electronic drafts. Go-Go percussion is pressed into the ‘4 on the floor’ mold of Techno creating driving rigidity with dance persuasion.

Mazut articulate the intrinsic beauty of mechanical function. Countless motifs interlock and counteract in dense, lengthy tracks. In this way, Sarajevo comes across as a spiritual companion to Post-Modern artist Chris Burden’s sculpture Metropolis II, in which hundreds of 1:64-scale toy cars fly around an abstract model city in traffic purgatory.

Art, as artifice, will always have shortcomings if it attempts to react and express in a literal manner (this could be said for derivative works too). It’s important to let our environment speak through us, dictated not by our literal perception of our environment but by the environment’s emotional presence within ourselves. What makes a record like Mazut’s Sarajevo or Ouxh’s Machines in Care worthwhile is their ability to channel the expression of this presence through the appropriate thematic textures and musicality. This is only one tool in the kit of craft, but what does it say about the work itself?

The cohabitation of machine and human is perhaps the definitive trait of our current age. Humanity’s identity crisis between animal and mechanical has been pondered endlessly in sci-fi and horror works, and this doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. In the case of Sarajevo, somewhere between technological and organic, Mazut presents the human identity as it sounds.

Should you choose to watch the Metropolis II documentary, consider re-watching it with the original audio muted while playing this album. It’s incredibly fitting!

For fans of: Front 242, KLF, Filmmaker

Like Mazut? Give these a listen: Ouxh, Schwefelgelb, VOM

REVIEW: Nmesh, t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 – ロストエデンへのパス (The Path To Lost Eden) (2015)

ロストエデンへのパス (The Path To Lost Eden) is the 2015 album by Vaporwave and Electronic psychedelic artists t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 and Nmesh, respectively.

With a 2 hour runtime, this behemoth of a split album forces even the most reluctant listener into its steady molasses groove. Massive layers of synth pads blanket the album in a lush fog, a defining feature I would eventually come to view as an intense dedication to New Age flaccidity.

Interrupting ロストエデンへのパス’s slow serenity are moments of jarring tackiness. E.g. the Nmesh produced 心はシダであります, in which punchy synth flutes dominate all sonic space. Other notably grating moments include a scattershot of speech samples; a litany of gritty male monologues throughout the album and the standout soft-pornographic dialogue of 体熱. 

Copy from the album’s Bandcamp page sells Nmesh’s use of speech sampling as the following: “Fans of Nmesh will recognize his narrative-like composition techniques, with use of quotes to maintain a sense of cohesion between the different tracks and new age vibes…”, which posits that the most finely crafted art in relation to this album is the art of good copy.

By track 9 I had wished the album had ended by track 2. Nmesh never quite breaks away from or expands upon this sound, which by the time the album nears the 1 hour mark I can only pejoratively call it a ‘formula’. Chord progressions feel like an afterthought with each snippet of speech acting like a marker of time- more so a palette obstruction than a much needed palette cleanser.

I couldn’t have been more bored by the time the Telepath b-side takes hold. Not the ideal mentality to be in for the slow textural works of Vaporwave, particularly for a near 7 minute long soundscape.

Tacky synth flutes carry over to the album’s b-side, much to my disdain. But while remaining sonically complimentary to the Nmesh a-side, Telepath creates a degree of vigor which had previously been lacking. 

The third Telepath song 東京の夜 blends percussive folly and synthetic instrumentation into a lush and rewarding track not topped anywhere else on the album. The use of processed vocal samples are intriguing here, especially after so many milquetoast speech samples across the a-side. 

I wish Telepath’s contribution could have been more of a saving grace to ロストエデンへのパス, yet still has the shortcomings of a repetitive hour long work by itself. Perhaps if released on its own my view of the Telepath b-side would be more complimentary, but what doesn’t fix an hour of slow synth pads is more of the same.

In total, ロストエデンへのパス (The Path To Lost Eden) acts as a work of New Age Exotica by two white men- Nmesh, or Alex Koenig from Kentucky, and Telepath, or Luke Laurila from Ohio- and which at times uncomfortably strays into Orientalism. 

While individual tracks have at times been intriguing to me, the album itself fails to expand upon ideas and emotions within the aesthetics both artists have stringently adhered to. There’s plenty of other meditative works out there to be explored, don’t worry about getting through this one.

For fans of: Macintosh Plus, Mandragora, Cobalt Road

Like Nmesh, t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者? Give these a listen: 식료품groceries, Heaven Drugs, Tim Hecker

REVIEW: VTSS – Identity Process (2019)

If relentless pounding Techno is your jam, you better get out the toast for this record. Not to be confused with the goofball festival that is cyber goth, Identity Process sounds Industrial in quite a literal way.

Bring The Noize opens the album with its rough and relentless mechanical tonality and textures. It’s beautifully hypnotic in a way that’s similar to a high functioning fully-automated assembly line. The whole album is like this, though finds its softer side (albeit still pounding) by closing track Devil-may-care.

Warsaw-born, London-based DJ and producer Martyna Maja started putting out music under the moniker VTSS since 2018, releasing their debut EP Self Will on the German label Intrepid Skin that same year. Identity Process is an exciting listen both as a stand alone record and as a release only 1 year into Maja’s trajectory as a producer. I look forward to hearing the many avenues which VTSS may go down in the coming years, and their interpretations and distinctions as an artist in an Electronic medium.

VTSS’s forthcoming 12” EP Projections is slated for an early 2022 release and is now open for pre-orders on Bandcamp. You can go stream 1 track from the album, Trust Me, right here.

For fans of: Regis, Front 242, Schwefelgelb

Like VTSS? Give these a listen: Ouxh, Tommy Holohan, Choking Chain

REVIEW: Jacek Sienkiewics – Mirrors (2007)

Mirrors is a 2007 EP release by Polish electronic artist and Recognition Records label founder Jacek Sienkiewics. Working as a suite of mood pieces most cohesive on the record’s B-side, Mirrors is repetitive nearly to the point of being hypnotic- enjoyable, though not particularly engaging.

A-side and titular track Mirrors is a quickly revolving showcase of small motifs which sit atop the track’s underlying soft arpeggiated synth-lines, aggressively cut into with glitchy kicks and abrasive synth pads. All of this comes across a bit busy, with no one motif ever quite growing to a greater power within the song. It’s a track that could have ultimately done a little more with a little less.

Mirrors‘s B-side, on the other hand, consists of tracks Drunken Master and 350. The former is a delightfully wonky work of arcade-esque foot thumping and hatcheting hi-hats which carry the punch reminiscent of early 8-bit video games. Continuing this drive albeit with a much more smooth sound is closing track 350. Previous arpeggiated blips now seemingly float away to the sonic periphery in a wash of darkening reverb. The sleek and cool 350, along with the rest of Mirrors, continues to work best as backing mood piece to a would-be video game rather than dance floor worship piece.

Ultimately, Mirrors‘s disinterest in engaging the active listener keeps the album from being a particularly worthwhile listen, but finds strong footing in repetitive and passive listening environments. I recommend giving it a spin the next time you decide to bust out a bullet-hell side-scroller.

For fans of: Aphex Twin, Rhode & Brown, Casiopepe

Like Jacek Sienkiewics? Give these a listen: Ouxh, DJ Seinfeld, Mom$

REVIEW: Ouxh – Machines In Care (2019)

Stealthy office park chic for your listening pleasure.

Machines In Care is the 2019 release by the enigmatic Ouxh. Released on Melbourne based LKR Records, Ouxh delivers 3 finely crafted Electro dance tracks over a 17 minute run time.

Titular track Machines In Care sidesteps Electronic music’s fantasy of the singularity for the tranquil co-habitation of our shared world with the man-made, that is to say, printers and the machines used to create the music on this record.

Middle track Birdman opens with the reverberating echo of a dull alarm until kicks and snare get the rhythm flowing like the first lurches of traffic on a cold city morning. Electronic chirps begin to punctuate the track’s cold atmosphere as Birdman’s sweet sunrise melody works its way into focus. Textural warmth of crackles and pops blanket the track as small melodic motifs gradually reveal themselves. It’s sonically serene yet supplies dance floor rhythm worth getting up for.

Much like Ambient music, Machines In Care rewards both active and passive listening by striking a balance of active drive and hypnotic slow growth across much of the album. Throughout, Ouxh utilizes what stereophonic technology has to offer, pushing the bilateral dynamics of each track without waning to cheap psychedelic auditory tricks.

Closing track Coma Void does exactly this with a chopped and processed vocal loop and a delightfully dizzying Kraftwerk-esque staccato melody which swirls around its captive audience. Having traded in winter mornings for a more hyped-up driving force, Coma Void may not necessarily keep the cool tranquility of former tracks, but remains harmonious in Machines In Care’s city-sonic palette and dance floor operations.

For fans of: Aphex Twin, Adam F, Goldie

Like Ouxh? Give these a listen: Joe Koshin, Radioactive Man, The Disciples of Jovan Blade

REVIEW: Meth Math – Perreando Y Llorando (2020)

Meth Math’s Perreando Y Llorando single is the spiritual successor to the Space Age Pop exoticism of the late 1950s. Layers of extraterrestrial vocals and soft blips of synthesizers twist and pull apart with great elasticity, grounded by the track’s sensuous pounding mechanical rhythms. Meth Math demands the forfeiture of oneself to the music, creating a truly cerebral detachment from our humanity worn earth.

For fans of: Dream Affair, Tricky, Massive Attack

Like Meth Math? Give these a listen: Xordox, Cold Choir, e•motion

REVIEW: Ghösh – Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em / Beelzebub (2020)

Is this America’s answer to the UK’s notorious Grime school? If so, I’m along for the ride.

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em is weird, truly. Ghösh brings the “Rap Rock and the Jungle” in a sort of inverse Pop Will Eat Itself fashion. Sonic aesthetics that seem strange and out of place at first meld together better and better with each listen.

The single’s samples blur your surroundings as they spin by. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em is an Atlantic hurricane of grime and grit, ecstaticized by its EDM elements and delivering Rock and Industrial aggression. You can feel the electricity in the air.

B-side Beelzebub is perhaps the most American song I’ve ever heard (in a good way). It may be difficult to see anything that’s not more overtly political (such as leading track Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em) as encapsulating the current American cultural milieu, but someone may need to show their grandkids this song in about 50 years and lay it out for them. Right now, it’s the Nu School’s world, and we’re just living in it.

For fans of: Machine Girl, M-Beat, The Crystal Method

Like Ghösh? Give these a listen: Wiley aka Eskiboy, Pop Will Eat Itself, this Techno remix of WAP…

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