Monday, February 20, 2017

Aquascape - Underwater Stranger

Altar Records: 2011/2012

Label raids are good fun and all, but there does come a point where all the intriguing releases run out. There’s only so deep down the rabbit hole one should explore before considering just how necessary total and utter completion of a label collection is necessary. No, it’s true – no single print is one-hundred percent infallible. Plenty are ace, top grade even, with track records shaming many of their contemporaries. A perfect run of platinum quality releases though? Not bloody likely. Even my all-time favorites (Ultimae, Turbo, Waveform …Cryo Chamber yet?) have a few CDs in their catalog that, in hindsight, I really didn’t need to have. To say nothing of other labels I’ve dug into over the years.

Take Altar Records. They’ve a few acts I’m quite committed to scoping out with each album, and digging further has revealed a number of solid CDs along the way. That said, the label’s assorted yoga and meditation offerings definitely are not on my interest list, nor can I say I’m committed to checking out every psy-chill act that gets signed to them. Having exhausted most of the recognizable name, however, I’m left with an alternative selection process: does it have interesting cover art? Well hey, this Aquascape looks unique compared to the usual ultra-mystical stuff Altar goes with - simple, elegant, inexplicable manta ray. Sure, I’ll give this a shot, fits nicely with the ‘water theme’ I was splurging with at the time anyway.

And boy, was I not expecting this. A decent collection of psy-chill, sure, Altar’s early track record pretty spot on for this sound. Aquascape though, they kinda’ slipped by my attention, even after giving their Voice Of The Universe track on the Air compilation an Ace Track honor. The duo, comprised of Andrey Kostomarov and Anton Salikov, didn’t stick with Altar for long though, mostly contributing to Tunguska Electronic Music Society compilations and, more recently, Plusquam Chillout. Lord Discogs tells me they’ve only released one other album since Underwater Stranger, a digital LP on Tiger Grass Records called Sunrise In Fog. Damn, I hope that’s just incomplete information, because if this album’s anything to go by, they’ve got a good sound going for them.

Right, their take on psy-chill does occasionally dip close to the shores of sappy New Age stuff, but never such that I get my cringe on. Mostly, we’re fed a steady diet of dubby grooves, acidy sounds, and guitar solos. Oh yeah, Anton provides various acoustic, flamenco, and spacey guitar work. While not on the level of Steve Hillage, it adds a fresh dynamic to your standard psy-chill tropes.

I won’t deny Underwater Stranger lacks the sort of tunes that leap out and grab your ears by their balls (!?), but it’s an album I find enjoying front-to-back every time, easing me in for a smooth, chill ride as I go about my business. Music good enough as wallpaper, but dynamic enough for those times you want a little zone-out time too.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Murmur - Undertone

Meanwhile: 2007

One more album initially slotted for a spiffy TranceCritic review that fell completely through the cracks. I had no idea what I was dealing with upon seeing that cloud covered cover. Maybe some ambient? I mean, with a name like Murmur, it was probably some really calm, soothing, clever pad work – not exactly the old website’s bread ‘n’ butter, but at least interesting enough that I’d find a few talking points worth exploiting into a cumbersome 1,000 word review. Well, none of that, Undertone turning out as one of the dub technoiest dub techno releases I’d yet heard dub techno go in the year 2007, and there was a lot of dub techno getting all dub technoey on our asses that year, I tell you what. If we were one of those trendy online rags hyping all that dub techno bizz’ness, maybe I’d have gone through with a review, but man, was I ever drawing a blank on this one, groing tired of the endless DeepChord rip-offs and Basic Channel clones.

Still, there must be something to Murmur’s debut LP if I’ve kept it around all this time, sparing it the same indignity of a quick plummet into the Recycle Bin among so much rancid, rubbish hardstyle. Because for all its repetitive faults, I still cannae deny myself a good ol’ bit of dub reverb tickling the hairs within my ears. Plus, I’ve come plenty far in my ability to wax the bull when talking up any ol’ release now, so what fear should I have now in taking on Undertone?

Finding out more about the men behind the alias, turns out. Lord Discogs provides not a clue, a mere link to a MySpace page I’m almost certain is defunct now. Half a dozen releases are tagged to the Murmur handle, finally drying up in 2010. The print they established with Bovill, Meanwhile, continues to this day, though with a ridiculously glacial output – the music Meanwhile makes is minimal, an so is their release schedule! (haha, such waxed bull). Poking about the webs a bit further, I discovered at least four other Murmurs out there, all coming out after this one. Some of them are post rock or metal, another might be the same guys doing drone ambient but could just be a coincidence, and the fourth offers festival bangers with titles like Break Glowstix Not Hearts. Safe to say that’s someone else.

Undertone, meanwhile (on Meanwhile!), is an incredibly clinical study in minimalist dub techno’s attributes. Beats are typically soft, very few hi-hats getting in the way of all that cavernous resonance. Other tracks are your standard explorations in dub-drone, going wherever the reverb takes you. A couple tracks (Bloodclot, Slip) could work as transitional pieces in a deep techno set, but little here is intended for dancefloor rinse-out. Nay, smoke that fat blunt, throw on your best audiophile headgear, and chill the fuck out with this collection of tracks. Peace.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bluescreen - Undercurrents

Shadow Records: 2001

That the label that gave America an early taste of Ninja Tune and all things trip-hoppy, abstract-funky would throw its hat into the trance game was remarkable, daft even, among the most unexpected things I’ve ever come across in my music buying time. Still, with that scene popular enough with young punters, what harm was there in giving it a shot with a couple, nicely-priced compilations in Trance Sessions? Besides, it helped promote one of their signed acts, one Anthony Voitik, or Bluescreen as he goes by here.

This debut album came out a short while before Trance Sessions did, in of itself remarkable. Forget that whole ‘jumping on the trance bandwagon’ angle the compilations kinda-sorta reeked of, Shadow went and signed a totally unknown dude for a trance album. Not just any trance either, but deliberately old-school leaning stuff, tunes that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from MFS’ heyday, a style almost extinct by the year 2001 courtesy of the drudge-Dutch invasion. How’d they even make contact with him? Mr. Voitik hailed from the literal opposite end of the continent from Shadow headquarters, mostly residing in the hinterlands of British Columbia. For a time, only a few streets away from me.

Okay, full disclosure: I know ol’ Anthony. Like, went to the same high school as him. Drank at the same house parties as him. Rode four hours in his car to the same bush raves in Smithers with him. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to those living in major hubs of electronic music (London, Detroit, Berlin, New York City, San Francisco, Montreal… Vancouver?), where talent of all sort mingled with regular joes as they grew up. When I say our hometown is out on the fringes of Western society though, I ain’t kidding. It’s amazing that anyone from there ended up getting a record deal for a trance album, much less on a well-known trip-hop print like Shadow Records.

Thus me saying I like Undercurrents obviously comes with degree of bias, since I quite like the brand of trance Mr. Voitik enjoyed as well. If you fancied yourself some of that Paul van Dyk vibe but hated his turn towards the pop side of things, you’ll probably like this too. There isn’t much in the way of surprises, Bluescreen mostly sticking to an easy-going, traditional template to his tunes. Of notables diversions, he goes a little prog-house with Vanishing, Daybreak has some fun with the acid, and Surfacing works as a nice summation to the melodic points touched upon throughout. Aliendisco is about the only tune that leaps way out of Mr. Voitik’s established comfort zone - it’s speed garage, but with a sci-fi twist. I’ve never heard another speed garage track do this, much less produced by a trance guy. Corsten hasn’t gone there. Lieb sure never went there. Armin hasn’t gone there, and he’s gone to some wack places over the years. Tiësto probably would have though, if there was money to be made.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Fred Everything - Under The Sun

Turbo Recordings: 2000

West coast deep house was growing mighty popular at the turn of the century, especially out here on the West coast (who knew!). And while San Francisco was generally considered the hotbed of funky, groovy chill vibes perfect for lounges and beach parties, Canada had a few talents making inroads on a scene long dominated by Chicago transplants. Fred Everything was probably the biggest of this bunch, slightly odd considering his Quebec origins, not to mention his first major record deal was with UK print 20:20 Vision. Still, his tight, loopy beatcraft fit snugly with the likes of Mark Farina and Miguel Migs, remaining a consistent presence in the deep house scene throughout the ‘00s, eventually finding a natural home with OM Records. No, wait, that deal only lasted a few years, all the while working on establishing his print with Lazy Days Recordings. That one’s lasted a little longer (to this day, in fact), though Fred’s output has slowed as of late (edit: but with quite the uptick this past year!). He’s still truckin’ along though, never abandoning the deep house vibe that defined his early success.

Speaking of that early success, here’s Mr. Everything’s first full-length effort, Under The Sun. Naturally this came out on 20:20 Vision, but as ol’ Fred had ties to the Montreal club scene, tastemaker Tiga was there to offer a Canadian (and thusly American) distribution deal on his trendy Turbo label. Win-win for both players involved, as Under The Sun wouldn’t get lost in cumbersome import technicalities, and Turbo could finally have its first proper album out on the market after a long run of DJ mixes (ADNY’s Selections ’97-2000 was more a compilation, if you want to get finicky technical about such things). And while I won’t complain about the geometric architecture cover photo for Turbo’s release, it does seem odd they’d replace the overhead cross-country ski race shot that made up the 20:20 Vision version. Strikes me as more authentically ‘Quebec’, is what I’m getting at, but maybe Tiga figured that was a little too on the nose for the music’s target audience. Who am I to question Tiga’s judgment, eh?

If you know anything about deep house from the early ‘00s, you’ll be familiar with Fred Everything’s sound. Sometimes he goes funkier (Let You Down, Derby, Universal Mind), other times jazzy (Without), or simply soulful (Another Soul). Nor is he beholden to a strict house rhythm, getting acid jazz shuffly on Good Morning, or having a stab at retro electro with Huggin’Kissin. And speaking of the retro, how about a touch of talk-box action in Revolution, sure to get your Daft Punk triggers flaring.

And that’s Under The Sun, a solid collection of deep, groovy vibes all about, and now a review lo-o-o-ng overdue finally finished. What, don’t you remember I promised this when going through all those Mixed Goods burned CDs of mine? That I basically lifted this album for one of them? Back in… oh wow, that was a while ago now.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Inspectah Deck - Uncontrolled Substance

Sony Music Entertainment: 1999

As a rebel without a cause, Inspectah Deck leads the charge, forever one of Wu-Tang Clan’s most fiery spitters, but rushing into battle with no clear objective. He’ll drop that philosophical bomb atomically, but what of the follow-through? With a half-dozen albums deep of evidence, he seldom seemed capable of sustaining that first-strike verbal carnage into a lasting campaign. At least, that used to be the charge laid upon one Mr. Hunter, but his recent work as Czarface having redeemed a solo career that never delivered the classic record hip-hop heads expected of him. Who knew adopting the persona of a cyborg crime-fighting mafia-don that can shoot frickin’ laser beams from his eyes would do the trick? I think Czarface is all about that, if the art is anything to go by. I should look into it.

For now though, let’s check out Uncontrolled Substance, Inspectah’s debut from 1999, four years overdue and coming out when Wu-Tang hype was on the wane. Even getting the whole Clan in to help on a project was proving difficult at that point, most members focusing on solo work while building up their own protégés. Compounding problems further for the Rebel INS was the fact the early demo beats RZA had written for his debut were lost in a studio flood, forcing that album to be scrapped and started over. Yes, we were denied vintage mid-‘90s RZA beats with Deck undoubtedly spitting fire over them all, with the full Clan in support.

Instead, we get okay beats from RZA protégés 4th Disciple and True Master, though Deck’s own productions outshine most of theirs. RZA himself provides a pair of beats too, though are far from his glorious early, gritty sounds. Guest spots from the Wu fam’ are sadly minimal, with U-God and Masta Killa only offering a couple verses, and a few additional guest spots from second-tier affiliates like Street Life and Killa Sin.

Ultimately, it’s all on the Rebel INS to carry Uncontrolled Substance, and he does excel there, mostly dominated by battle-raps no one else in the Clan can top, with other stuff mixing things up throughout. There’s hood tales like Word On The Street and Trouble Man (with Pete Rock funk at the board on that one); clubbier offerings like R.E.C. Room and Movas & Shakers (why can’t I ever get Deck’s lyrics of “Bartender! Two Kahlua and milk with crushed ice in the blender” out of my head?); conscious diatribes like The Cause and Elevation (with a Deck beat that was reused in Ghostface’s Supreme Clientele); and some jams for the ladies too (Lovin You, Forget Me Not, and the slinky noir-funk of Femme Fatale… wait, that’s two reviews in a row with a Femme Fatale… the odds, mang!). Strangely, it’s a couple interludes, where Inspectah’s freestyling over a pounding 808 beat, that get me charged the most. They’re only ten seconds each, but damn if I wouldn’t pay good money to hear a full record of that!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Perturbator - The Uncanny Valley

Blood Music: 2016

I keep bringing this up with every Perturbator release now, but I can’t help it, fascinated by Blood Music’s dedication to their artist. They go bananas in the various ways you can own a physical copy of Mr. Kent’s music, putting most labels to utter shame with their swag. Even top-ten producers of electronic music don’t get such a roll-out as this synthwave maestro does. Lord Discogs currently lists fourteen different releases for The Uncanny Valley: this includes the usual coloured records and tapes Blood Music offers, but multiple box-set versions too, with patterned artwork on the vinyl itself (the blood splatter one appears particularly popular). And did I mention the graphic novel? There’s a graphic novel with The Uncanny Valley! Me being CD-me though, I had to settle for the lone, requisite digipak option that- wait, there was a deluxe CD option that included the graphic novel and a bonus EP? Well f

I have to wonder whether James Kent always had ideas for a comic or novel or short film series with this ongoing tale of Perturbator: Night Driving Avenger before settling on music. Because if The Uncanny Valley is any indication, he must be sitting on a wealth of material for future use, continuously building upon his future-shock dystopian universe with every release. This time out, he’s added a fembot cyborg partner in his avenging exploits, plus a whole new antagonist in the Cult Of 2112. Seriously, are there any other electronic producers as dedicated to story arcs as Perturbator? Metal bands, sure; some hip-hop projects, definitely! But techno or house? Hardly, producers content at making tools for dancefloors or headphone commutes. Who’s got time for ongoing narratives when there’s singles to sell?

Of course, having a story arc linking your albums together might seem as little else than a gimmick, one that falls flat on its face without the music to back it up. And synthwave, a scene often filled with shifty retro-gimmickry, doesn’t lend Perturbator many favours without some evolution in his sound. Fortunately Mr. Kent is well up to the task, The Uncanny Valley his strongest album-album yet.

It’s got all the hallmarks of a strong musical narrative, with opening settings, reflective interludes, pulse-pounding climax, and philosophical denouement. Whereas his previous outing, Dangerous Days, was relentless in hitting you with the action, The Uncanny Valley spaces things out more, exploring different moods and tones while leaving plenty of room for those mint Perturbator high-octane cuts (holy cow, that Assault on The Cult Of 2112!). The opening tracks throw some wrinkles in his style too, Weapons For Children and Death Squad slowing things down some, treading into EBM and New Beat’s domain in doing so. That’s followed upon by a noir-jazz outing in Femme Fatale, because of course he’d go there eventually. Meanwhile, little beatcraft tweaks and sonic twerks add extra dynamics to his productions, leaving The Uncanny Valley some of Pertubator’s most accomplished song-writing I’ve heard. No pressure topping this one, lads.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

2562 - Unbalance (2017 Update)

Tectonic: 2009

(Click here to read my original TranceCritic review.)

That old review opens with an attempt by yours truly at cataloging dubstep’s myriad permutations into neat, tidy sub-genres, and for the year 2009, it made some sense. ‘Wobble’ had yet to morph into the now-commonly accepted nomenclature of brostep, mainly because it had yet to go full-bro on all our asses (but oh was it ever just over the horizon!). There definitely was an ‘atmospheric’ side to the scene, though most now refer to it as post-dubstep, or future garage if they don’t want their sound associated with the ham-fisted bro anthems dubstep at large ultimately catered towards. And finally I brought up ‘funky’ as a refuge for UK garage fans missing the glory days of Artful Dodger, or some-such. Yeah, I had no idea what the 2-step I was talking about there – UK funky is more an Afro-house thing, and I’d have known that too if I’d ever listened to the stuff back then. Dammit though, the UK bass ‘n’ urban scene was splintering into so many dozen-and-done micro-genres at the turn of the decade. Like I had much time, interest or care to sample all of it, no matter how much Pitchfork or Guardian were telling these were Very Important developments in music culture.

Still, the techno-infusion dubstep was seeing towards the end of the ‘00s intrigued me a little. Between Scuba, Sigha, Shackleton, and 2562, it seemed the genre was leaping out from the urban alleyways into bold, brittle dystopian cityscapes, all the hot journals just as quick at hyping this new development as any other. Alas, t’was as short lived as most hype goes, hotter hotness replacing their names, all the while dubstep soon regarded old, stale, passé, and poo after the bros invaded everything. Some went onto other genres, while others carried on despite the turning tides of fortune, retaining loyal fanbases within dedicated scenes, rather glad the spotlight no longer shone so bright upon their careers. Can’t say 2562 is one of the latter, however.

In the years since I originally wrote that TranceCritic review, Dave Huismans kept himself busy, but as with many of his ‘post-dubstep’ brethren, slowly moved on from the broken beatcraft of his early works. Shortly after releasing Unbalance, he took his 2562 alias out from his Tectonic deal, and started self-releasing material on his own When In Doubt print. Lord Discogs lists his last release as 2562 being The New Day back in 2014, a record with as much techno going for it as anything dubstep. Given how techno-leaning his music was already, it’s hardly surprising he’d go all the way with it eventually. His other alias, A Made Up Sound, has kept him more active in the singles market to this date, with a double-LP retrospective coming out just last year. That one’s gone as techno as anything coming out of Berlin now, so it must be serving Mr. Huismans’ career well enough. After relistening to Unbalance though, it does leave the current creative possibilities a little wanting.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Various - UK Space Techno, Vol. II

Millennium Records: 1996

Cheeky Millennium Records, marketing their sixty-percent goa trance compilation as ‘space techno’. They also had the balls to promote it as an ongoing series right out the gate, giving us a Vol. I no matter how successful the first one sold. It probably did reasonably enough, lasting all the way to a Vol. V in 1998. I somehow doubt even piss-poor sales would have prevented this Vol. II from hitting the CD shelves though, coming out the same year as Vol. I - Millennium was super-go on this no matter what! Oddly, I never saw the third or fourth editions over here in Canadaland, and I wasn’t invested enough in this series for a single disc’s worth of UK Space Techno to buy the fifth. Guess no one else was getting hype to that tag anymore either. If it sounds like acid and tastes like acid, just call it trance!

Hell, there’s no way to hide just how trance some of these tracks are, goa or otherwise. As with Vol. I opening with the classic Neuro from X-Cabs, Vol. II opts for a big, recognizable anthem from another hot, new act, this time care of Transa. No, it’s not Enervate, but the single that came before that one, Prophase. What do you mean you’ve never heard it? I know Enervate overshadowed nearly everything Transa ever did, but Prophase (plus b-side Transphase, included on CD2 here) were totally early progressive trance hits. Okay, should have been. Speaking of X-Cabs, there’s another pair of tracks from the famed Chris Cowie project on here (Avalon and Adena), both blistering cuts in that vintage Cowie stylee. Man, was that guy ever on fire in the mid-‘90s.

Goa trance obviously gets its tunes in, Cosmosis, Zart, Endora, Power Source, Mosti, and Ectomorph doing the business. Some crackin’ tunes from Cosmosis, Silicon Drum, Zart, and Power Source, but little else to recommend there. Hard acid has its obligatory tracks thrown in too, Dr. Octopus (alias of D.A.V.E. The Drummer) being the best of the lot. A young Lab 4 appear, though their Transformation is pitched down significantly for some daft reason – what, too hard for a ‘space techno’ CD? Spacer IV shows up again with yet another way out of place progressive house track, Jetson almost a precursor to the genre’s evolution into ‘prog’. And even regular ol’ Detroit techno gets a couple tunes thrown in, care of Darren Price’s Blueprints and Skeleton Crew’s Skeleton Coast. Actually, I’m not sure what to call Skeleton Coast, and nor does Lord Discogs, because it sure as Hell ain’t tech-house.

Overall a more memorable assortment of tune in the UK Space Techno franchise, even if the concept is straying further from whatever Millennium Records figured ‘space techno’ could be. Like, those two try-hard progressive trance anthems in V’s Anjuna (The Incredible Journey Mix) and The Bubble’s Squeek!. Good God, no! What’s so spacey about a lame breakdown with saxophone solo ripped from the ‘80s?

Various - UK Space Techno, Vol. I

Millennium Records: 1996

Yeah, I get why Millennium Records would eschew the ‘goa’ tag for its new compilation series. The European market was already flooded with tons of CDs offering trippy, acid-drenched dance music, with many a label rushing out to capitalize on hot buzzwords goa, trance, and the like. And fair enough, a lot of folks thought of early trance simply as ‘space techno’ (or ‘space house’, LOL), so it’s not that great a leap in logic in taking this angle. I dunno though; it still feels disingenuous promising ‘space techno’ from the UK, and having a good sixty percent of the tracks still feeling that rush of psychedelia from the shores of India. I sure wasn’t expecting so much goa trance when I picked this up way back when, nosiree.

What I was expecting was a whole lot of unknown names giving me another crash-course in all this ‘techno’ business going on overseas. I definitely got that, what with names like X-Cabs, Green Nuns Of The Revolution, Jon The Dentist, Darren Price, and Chris Liberator (as Star Power) appearing on this double-discer. Okay, so they weren’t outright unknowns, but who here remembers tracks like The Attic, or Neuro, or Desert Storm’s Scoraig 93, or Kenny Larkin’s rub of LA Synthesis’ Agraphobia? Hm, that’s all techno that’s rather spacey too, isn’t it.

I swear UK Space Techno Vol. I is filled with obscure goa trance, honest and true! Cosmosis’ rub of Disco Volante’s El Metro, for instance, or Monosphere’s Elysian Fields, or the Spectra Mix of Optica’s Alkaline PH9. And who can forget such forgotten gems like Isomise’s KHO Phang Gain, or Head-Doctor’s Train å Medellin, plus Polyploid’s Coaster Prefix? Certainly not I, since I’ve had this CD for two decades now (holy cow!).

Since this compilation tries to have its acid cake and eat its goa trance too, it creates an odd dichotomy of tunes that no amount of ‘space techno’ branding can overcome. CD1 isn’t too bad in this regard, hitting you early with simpler, recognizable tunes like Neuro and Spacer IV’s Arc 3 (I think it was) before moving onto psy leaning cuts, the odd acid techno tune breaking up any potential monotony along the way. CD2, on the other hand, opts for pure techno tracks for the most part, some of which are regarded as classics in terms of UK offerings (Scoraig 93, Agraphobia, The Simirillion (Svenson’s Trip To Gondor Remix), others not so much (Skintrade’s Andromraxess, Integrated Circuits’ Ghost 843). Having them assorted with trippy goa and hard acid from the Stay Up Forever posse doesn’t do them any favors either, coming off rather basic and monotonous compared to the busier cuts. I often don’t even remember much of what’s on CD2 until I throw the disc on again. Such is the case with so many double-disc compilations from the mid-‘90s though: a couple classics, a few unheralded gems, and a pile of agreeable filler lost to the ravages of raving history.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Lingua Lustra - Uhadi

Psychonavigation Records: 2015

Albert Borkent has been releasing music as Lingua Lustra for over a decade now, but started really cranking the releases out after the ‘10s took form. Guess that partnership with Databloem helped fuel the ol’ creative synapses just fine, to say nothing of the near twenty assorted digital EPs he spit out under his co-owned print Spiritech (Alireza Zaifnejad; aka. Blue Bliss also handles the print). In the meanwhile, he’s put out a few albums on assorted labels like Anodize, Lagerstätte, earthMantra, Bakshish Music, Electronic Soundscapes Records under his Sol Tek side-project (guess what music they release!), and finally Psychonavigation Records. And yes, I’d never have stumbled upon Mr. Borkent’s material had it not been for that discount haul on the part of the Ireland print, but oh is there so much tempting Lingua material to trawl through now.

That’s for another time though. For now, I’m left with yet another predicament of taking on yet another artist for the first time with yet another hefty discography I’ve nary the time to fully immerse myself in. I’m just gonna’ have to take Lord Discogs’ word that most of the Lingua Lustra stylee consists of similar ambient and drone soundscapes as I’m hearing on Uhadi, though clearly with less uhadi involved. And what is an uhadi, pray tell? Why, it’s that charming musical bow you heard on Leftfield’s Afro-Left, though that was the Brazilian version of the instrument (berimbau), whereas an uhadi is the original South African contraption.

It’s also a titular cut on this album, and most definitely the centerpiece clocking in just a shade under thirty minutes in length. What’s strange is there’s very little use of the instrument in that runtime, at least in any traditional sense that I can hear. Plenty of field recordings though, including passing airplanes and bird song, plus lengthy passages of pleasant synth pad and drone. Some mild tapping of an uhadi does emerge in short order, providing a minor rhythmic backbone to the track, but gradually fades out by the ten-minute mark. It comes back for around five minutes near the end, then the track completely changes course into something darker and dubbier. I should also mention I’m only assuming the gentle tapping is an uhadi. Doesn’t make sense to name a track like that without making some use of the instrument.

It’s a nifty piece of music all said, though clearly for ambient-lovers only. Frankly, I was more intrigued by the opening thirteen-minute piece Rise, what with its ultra-dubby groove, night forest field recordings, and lazy, hazy cascading bell tones – reminds me of something I’d hear out of the Silent Season camps. A few ‘shorter’ cuts round Uhadi out, including trip-hopper More Than Words Can Say, a tune that wouldn’t sound out of place on an older Shadow Records CD. Siren gets more experimental in the trip-hop vein, and closer Run brings the lowdown beatcraft into proper murk as foreboding strings play out. Holy cow, this really is Shadow Records revisited!

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The Prince Of Rap Babygrande Balance Balanced Records Balearic ballad Banco de Gaia Bandulu battle-rap Beastie Boys Beat Buzz Records Beats & Pieces Beck Bedouin Soundclash Beechwood Music Benny Benassi Berlin-School Beto Narme bhangra big beat Big Boi Big L Big Life Bill Hamel Bill Laswell BineMusic BioMetal Biosphere BKS Black Hole Recordings black rebel motorcycle club Black Swan Sounds Blanco Y Negro Blasterjaxx Blend Blood Music Blow Up Blue Öyster Cult blues Bluescreen BMG Boards Of Canada Bob Dylan Bob Marley Bobina Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Boney M Bong Load Records Booka Shade Botchit & Scarper Boxed Boys Noize Boysnoize Records braindance Brandt Brauer Frick breakcore breaks Brian Eno Brian Wilson Brodinski broken beat Brooklyn Music Ltd Bryan Adams BT Buffalo Springfield Bulk Recordings Burial Burned CDs Bush Busta Rhymes Calibre calypso Capitol Records Capsula Captured Digital Carbon Based Lifeforms Carl B Carl Craig Carol C Caroline Records Carpe Sonum Records CD-Maximum Celestial Dragon Records Cell Celtic Cheb i Sabbah Cheeky Records chill-out chiptune Chris Duckenfield Chris Fortier Chris Korda Chris Sheppard Chromeo Chronos Chrysalis Ciaran Byrne cinematic soundscapes Circular Cirrus Cities Last Broadcast CJ Stone Claptone classic house classic rock classical Claude Young Clear Label Records Cleopatra Cloud 9 Club Cutz Cocoon Recordings Coldcut Coldplay Colette collagist Columbia comedy Compilation Comrie Smith Connect.Ohm conscious Control Music Cor Fijneman Cosmic Gate Cosmic Replicant Cosmos Studios Council Of Nine Counter Records country country rock Covert Operations Recordings Crazy Horse Cream Creamfields Crockett's Theme Crosby Stills And Nash Crosstown Rebels crunk Cryo Chamber Cube Guys Culture Beat cut'n'paste Cyan Music Cyber Productions CyberOctave D-Bridge D-Fuse Dacru Records Daddy G Daft Punk Damian Lazarus Damon Albarn Dan The Automator Dance 2 Trance Dance Pool dancehall Daniel Heatcliff Daniel Wanrooy Dao Da Noize dark ambient dark psy darkside darkstep darkwave David Bickley David Morley DDR Deadmau5 Death Row Records Deejay Goldfinger Deep Dish Deep Forest deep house Deeply Rooted House Deepwater Black Def Jam Recordings Del Tha Funkee Homosapien Delerium Deltron 3030 Depeche Mode Der Dritte Raum Derek Carr Detroit DFA DGC diametric. Dieselboy Different DigiCube Dillinja dirty house Dirty South Dirty Vegas disco Disco Gecko disco house disco punk Discover (label) Disky Disques Dreyfus Distant System Disturbance DJ 3000 DJ Brian DJ Craze DJ Dan DJ Dean DJ Gonzalo DJ Heather DJ John Kelley DJ Merlin DJ Mix DJ Moe Sticky DJ Observer DJ Premier DJ Q-Bert DJ Shadow DJ-Kicks Djen Ajakan Shean DJMag DMC DMC Records Doc Scott Dogon Dogwhistle Dopplereffekt Dossier downtempo dowtempo Dr. Atmo Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Dragon Quest dream house DreamWorks Records Drexciya drill 'n' bass Dronarivm drone Dronny Darko drum 'n' bass drunken review dub Dub Pistols dub techno Dub Trees Dubfire dubstep DuMonde Dune E-Mantra E-Z Rollers Eardream Music Earthling Eastcoast EastWest Eat Static EBM Echodub Ed Rush & Optical Editions EG EDM World Weekly News electro Electro House Electro Sun electro-funk electro-pop electroclash Electronic Dance Essentials Electrovoya Elektra Elektrolux em:t EMC update EMI Eminem Emmerichk Emperor Norton enCAPSULAte Engine Recordings Enigma Enmarta Epic epic trance Erik Vee Erol Alkan Escape ethereal euro dance Eurythmics Eve Records Ewan Pearson experimental Eye Q Records F Communications Fabric Fade Records Faithless Fallen fanfic Fatboy Slim Fax +49-69/450464 Fear Factory Fedde Le Grand Fehrplay Feist Fektive Records Felix da Housecat Fennesz Ferry Corsten FFRR field recordings Filter filters Final Fantasy Five AM Flashover Recordings Floating Points Flowers For Bodysnatchers Flowjob Fluke folk footwork Force Intel Fountain Music Four Tet FPU Frank Bretschneider Frankie Bones Frankie Knuckles Fred Everything freestyle French house Front Line Assembly Fugees full-on Fun Factory funk future garage Future Sound Of London g-funk gabber Gabriel Le Mar Galaktlan Galati Gang Starr gangsta garage Gas Gasoline Alley Records Gee Street Geffen Records Gel-Sol Gerald Donald Get Physical Music ghetto Ghostface Killah glam Gliese 581C glitch Global Underground Globular goa trance God Body Disconnect Gorillaz gospel goth Grammy Awards grime Groove Armada Groove Corporation Grooverider grunge Guru GZA Haddaway Halgrath happy hardcore hard house hard rock hard trance hardcore Hardfloor hardstyle Harmless Harmonic 33 Harold Budd Harthouse Harthouse Mannheim Hawtin Hearts Of Space Hed Kandi Hell Hercules And Love Affair Hernán Cattáneo Hi-Bias Records Hic Sunt Leones Hiero Emperium Hieroglyphics High Contrast Higher Intelligence Agency hip-hop hip-house hipno Hooj Choons Hope Records horrorcore Hospital Records Hot Chip Hotflush Recordings house Huey Lewis & The News Human Blue Hybrid Leisureland Hyperdub Hypertrophy hypnotic records I Awake I.F.O.R. I.R.S. Records Iboga Records Ice Cube Ice H2o Records ICE MC IDM illbient Imperial Dancefloor Imploded View In Charge In Trance We Trust Incoming Incubus indie rock Industrial Infected Mushroom Infinite Guitar influence records Infonet Insane Clown Posse Inspectah Deck Instinct Ambient Instra-Mental Inter-Modo Interchill Records Internal International Deejays Gigolo Interscope Records Intimate Productions Intuition Recordings ISBA Music Entertainment Ishkur Island Records Italians Do It Better italo disco italo house Jack Moss Jam and Spoon Jam El Mar James Horner James Zabiela Jamie Jones Jamie Myerson Jamie Principle Javelin Ltd. Jay Haze Jay Tripwire Jaydee jazz jazz dance jazzstep Jean-Michel Jarre Jefferson Airplane Jerry Goldsmith Jesper Dahlbäck Jive Jive Electro Jliat Jlin Joel Mull Joey Beltram John '00' Fleming John Digweed John Graham John Kelly John O'Callaghan Johnny Cash Johnny Jewel Jonny L Jori Hulkkonen Jørn Stenzel Josh Wink Journeys By DJ™ LLC Joyful Noise Recordings Juan Atkins juke Jump Cut Jumpin' & Pumpin' jungle Junior Boy's Own Junkie XL Juno Reactor Jurassic 5 Kay Wilder KDJ Ken Ishii Kenji Kawai Kenny Glasgow Keoki Keosz Kerri Chandler Kevin Braheny Kevorkian Records Khooman Kid Koala Kiko Kinetic Records King Cannibal King Midas Sound King Tubby Kitaro Klang Elektronik Klaus Schulze Koch Records Koichi Sugiyama Komakino Kompakt Kon Kan Kool Keith Kozo Kraftwelt Kraftwerk Krafty Kuts krautrock Krill.Minima Kris O'Neil Kriztal Kruder and Dorfmeister Krusseldorf KuckKuck Kurupt L.S.G. Lab 4 Ladytron Lafleche Lange Large Records Lars Leonhard Laserlight Digital LateNightTales Latin Laurent Garnier LCD Soundsystem Leama and Moor Lee 'Scratch' Perry Lee Norris Leftfield Legacy Leon Bolier Linear Labs Lingua Lustra liquid funk Liquid Sound Design Liquid Stranger Live live album Loco Dice Lodsb London acid crew London Classics London Elektricity London Records 90 Ltd London-Sire Records Loop Guru Loreena McKennitt Lorenzo Montanà Lost Language Loud Records Loverboy Luaka Bop Luciano Luke Slater M_nus M.A.N.D.Y. M.I.K.E. Madonna Magda Mali Mammoth Records Marc Simz Marcel Dettmann Marco Carola Marco V Mark Farina Mark Norman Mark Pritchard Markus Schulz Marshmello Martin Cooper Martin Nonstatic Märtini Brös Marvin Gaye Maschine Massive Attack Masta Killa Matthew Dear Max Graham maximal Maxx MCA Records McProg Meanwhile Meat Loaf Meditronica Menno de Jong Mercury Mesmobeat metal Method Man Metroplex Metropolis Miami Bass Miami Dub Machine Michael Brook Michael Jackson Michael Mayer Mick Chillage micro-house microfunk Microscopics MIG Miguel Migs Mike Saint-Jules Mike Shiver Miktek Mille Plateaux Millennium Records Mind Distortion System Mind Over MIDI mini-CDs minimal minimal tech-house Ministry Of Sound miscellaneous Misja Helsloot Miss Kittin Miss Moneypenny's Mixmag Mo Wax Moby Model 500 modern classical Moist Music Moodymann Moonshine Moss Garden Motech Moving Shadow Mujaji Murmur Music link Music Man Records musique concrete Mutant Sound System Mute Muzik Magazine My Best Friend N-Trance Nacht Plank Nadia Ali Nas Nature Sounds Naughty By Nature Nebula Neil Young Neotropic nerdcore Nettwerk Neurobiotic Records New Age New Jack Swing new wave Nic Fanciulli Nick Höppner Nimanty Nine Inch Nails Ninja Tune Nirvana No Mask Effect Nobuo Uematsu Nomad Nonesuch Nonplus Records Nookie Nordic Trax Norman Feller Northumbria Nothing Records NovaMute NRG Ntone nu-jazz nu-skool Nuclear Blast Entertainment Nulll Nurse With Wound NXP Octagen Offshoot Ol' Dirty Bastard old school rave Ole Højer Hansen Olga Musik Olien Oliver Lieb Olsen Omni Trio Omnimotion Omnisonus One Little Indian Oosh Open Canvas Opus III orchestral Original TranceCritic review Ornament Ostgut Ton Ott Ouragan OutKast Overdream Pantera Pantha Du Prince Paolo Mojo Parlaphone Paul Moelands Paul Oakenfold Paul van Dyk Perfect Stranger Perfecto Perturbator Pet Shop Boys Petar Dundov Pete Namlook Pete Tong Peter Benisch Peter Gabriel Peter Tosh Photek Phutureprimitive Phynn PIAS Recordings Pink Floyd PJ Harvey Planet Dog Planet Earth Recordings Planet Mu Planetary Consciousness Plastic City Plastikman Platipus Plump DJs PM Dawn Poker Flat Recordings politics Polydor Polytel pop Popular Records Porya Hatami post-dubstep Prince Prins Thomas Priority Records prog prog psy prog-psy Progression progressive breaks progressive house progressive rock progressive trance Prolifica Proper Records Prototype Recordings protoU Pryda psy chill psy dub Psy Spy Records psy trance psy-chill psy-dub psychedelia Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia Psychonavigation Psychonavigation Records Psycoholic Psykosonik Public Enemy punk punk rock Pureuphoria Records Purl Push PWL International Quadrophonia Quality Quango Quinlan Road R & S Records R'n'B R&B Rabbit In The Moon Radio Slave Radioactive Radioactive Man Radiohead Raekwon Ralph Lawson RAM Records Randal Collier-Ford Random Review Rank 1 rant RareNoise Records Rascalz Raster-Noton Ratatat Raum Records RCA React Red Jerry reggae remixes Renaissance Reprise Records Resist Music Restless Records Rhino Records Rhys Fulber Ricardo Villalobos Riley Reinhold Rising High Records RnB Roadrunner Records Robert Miles Robert Oleysyck Roc Raida rock rock opera rockabilly rocktronica Roger Sanchez ROIR Rollo Rough Trade Rub-N-Tug Rumour Records Running Back Ruthless Records RZA S.E.T.I. Sabled Sun Salt Tank Salted Music Salvation Music Samim sampling Sanctuary Records Sander van Doorn Sandoz Sarah McLachlan Sash Sasha Scandinavian Records sci-fi Scott Stubbs Scuba Seán Quinn Segue Sense Sentimony Records Sequential Seraphim Rytm Setrise Shaded Explorer Shadow Records Sharam Shawn Francis shoegaze Si Matthews SideOneDummy Records Signature Records SiJ Silent Season silly gimmicks Simon Berry Simon Heath Simon Posford Simple Records Sinden single Sire Records Company Six Degrees Sixeleven Records ska Skin To Skin Slinky Music Sly and Robbie Smalltown Supersound SME Visual Works Inc. Snap Sneijder Snoop Dogg Solar Fields Solaris Recordings Solarstone Solieb Soliquid Solstice Music Europe Soma Quality Recordings Songbird Sony Music Entertainment soul Soul Temple Entertainment Souls Of Mischief Sound Of Ceres Soundgarden Sounds From The Ground soundtrack southern rap southern rock space ambient Space Dimension Controller Space Manoeuvres space music space synth Spank Rock Special D speed garage Speedy J Spicelab spoken word Spotify Suggestions SPX Digital Squarepusher Squaresoft Stanton Warriors Star Trek Stardust Statrax Stay Up Forever Stephanie B Stephen Kroos Steve Angello Steve Miller Band Steve Porter Stijn van Cauter Stone Temple Pilots Stonebridge Stray Gators Street Fighter Studio K7 Stylophonic Sub Focus Sublime Sublime Porte Netlabel Substance Sun Station Sunbeam Sunday Best Recordings Superstition surf rock Sven Väth Swayzak Switch Sylk 130 Symmetry Sync24 Synergy Synkro synth pop synthwave System 7 Tactic Records Tall Paul Tammy Wynette Tangerine Dream Tau Ceti Tayo tech-house tech-step tech-trance Technical Itch techno technobass Technoboy Tectonic Terminal Antwerp Terra Ferma Terry Lee Brown Jr Textere Oris The Beach Boys The Beatles The Black Dog The Brian Jonestown Massacre The Bug The Chemical Brothers The Clash The Council The Cranberries The Digital Blonde The Dust Brothers The Glimmers The Grey Area The Hacker The Human League The Irresistible Force The KLF The Misted Muppet The Movement The Music Cartel The Null Corporation The Offspring The Orb The Police The Prodigy The Shamen The Sharp Boys The Sonic Voyagers The Squires The Tea Party The Tragically Hip The Velvet Underground The Wailers The White Stripes themes Thievery Corporation Third Contact Thrive Records Tiefschwarz Tiësto Tiga Tiger & Woods Time Warp Timecode Tobias Todd Terje Tom Middleton Tomita Tommy Boy Ton T.B. Tone Depth Tony Anderson Sound Orchestra Tool Topaz Tosca Toto Touch Tourette Records trance Trancelucent Tranquillo Records Trans'Pact Transformers Transient Records trap Trax Records Trend Trentemøller Tresor tribal Tricky Triloka Records trip-hop Trishula Records Troum Tuff Gong Tunnel Records Turbo Recordings turntablism TUU TVT Records Twisted Records Type O Negative U-God U2 Überzone Ugasanie UK acid house UK Garage Ultimae Ultra Records Umbra Underworld Union Jack United Dairies Universal Music Upstream Records Urban Icon Records V2 Vagrant Records Valley Of The Sun Vangelis Vap Vector Lovers Venetian Snares Venonza Records Verve Records VGM Vice Records Victor Calderone Vince DiCola Virgin Virtual Vault Virus Recordings Visionquest Vitalic vocal trance Wagram Music Warp Records Warren G Water Music Dance Waveform Records Wax Trax Records WEA Weekly Mini-Review White Swan Records William Orbit Willie Nelson world beat world music writing reflections Wu-Tang Clan Wyatt Keusch XL Recordings Yello Yes Youth Youtube Yul Records Zenith ZerO One Zoo Entertainment Zyron ZYX Music µ-Ziq