Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Prodigy - No Tourists

BMG: 2018

(a Patreon Request from Philoi)

I may have passed on The Prodigy post-Millennium, but that doesn't mean I didn't keep some tabs on them, the lingering question of “are they still going?” always tugging at my curiosity. Truth is, questions of 'relevancy' were long since dashed after Liam Howlett failed to keep pace with electronic music's mutations throughout the '00s, and it seemed he spent a lost decade of figuring out just where his brand of thrashy-bash stadium fodder fit. I think he eventually sorted it out, and No Tourists finds the Prodge machine running as smoothly as one could expect/hope for in the year 2018.

Which, for all intents, may end up being the final official Prodigy album, what with Keith Flint's passing and all. Yes, Liam was the brains behind nearly all the music that ever came from the Prodigy banner, but as a live act, 'Keef's presence was what catapulted the group from rave favourites to something marketable across the globe. For good or ill, it was Mr. Flint and his iconic double-'hawk hairdo that got him front and centre on Spin Magazine (and lampooned by Weird Al's quickie Lousy Haircut), not Maxim's cat eye lenses, Liam's nose-ring or Leeroy's... gangling legs? Howlett long claimed the tunes he made were just as much in service of Keith's antics as anything ear-catching or club smashing, knowing he'd struck upon a winner if his stage jester went completely ape-shit to it as the tune blasted from stacks of speakers. It's difficult imagining Liam finding the same level of musical confidence without Keith's moshing approval.

And that's the vibe I get from No Tourists, ten tracks designed with maximum thrash appeal for those who still have a fondness for Prodigy of old. Still, I won't deny almost fearing the worst with opener Need Some1, the track sounding like it's cribbing from the school of Pendulum rather than anything Liam built. Fear not, my friends, for follow-up Light Up The Sky brings back the big boshing beats of yore, with red-lined acid thrash and sped-up rasta vocals. Yes, it's way familiar of Prodigy of old, but isn't that what we've always wanted from them anyway?

The other track that treads into contemporary festival cliches is Timebomb Zone, and only because those chipmunk vocals aren't of vintage rave stock. Boom Boom Tap too, I guess, though I sense that one's more a pisstake of trap anthems than a sincere attempt – how else to explain a curt “fuck you” at the drop before unleashing fierce jungle on your ears? As for the rest, No Tourists is all fine, the sort of tuneage intended for quick, explosive release, then just as soon passed on by. There little that sticks with you like classic Prodigy of the past, but for the time you spend with them here (a rather brisk thirty-seven minutes!), it's a fun ride. And, given the circumstances, if this does mark the final Prodigy album, it's a fine final send-off as well. Respect.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Axs - Arctic Circle

Silent Season: 2011

It's about time I accept many of those original Silent Season CDs are well and truly out of my financial reach. Yes, even more so than the elusive early Autumn Of Communion discs. I mean, I shouldn't feel bad about digging into their digital catalogue, most of their initial run released as MP3 or WAV only options anwyay; heck, it was a full year before they even added their distinctive photographic cover art of Pacific Northwest scenery. Such is the way of things now, and if Bandcamp streams remains the best option of hearing items like Atheus' Compile or Purl's Deep Ground, then so be it. Just would be nice to plug that into my main sound system at some point, is all I'm sayin'. Maybe I just need to upgrade my computer speakers too.

Thus it is so with Arctic Circle from Axs (or Dj AXS, or Alexander Gouard), because if I'm finally gonna' dig on me some Silent Season digital, it may as well be the one with the derelict boat. Well, not so much derelict, but sunken, abandoned, left to rot in the foggy harbours of the Georgia Strait. A once proud fishing (crabbing?) vessel little more than a rusting hulk, soon to be home for all manner of barnacles, mussels, starfish, and tiny baby salmon. There's certain themes I like in my cover art, is what I'm saying, and if it ain't blue, then an abandoned boat will do. Landlocked preferable, but I cannot deny seeing this one half-submerged brings the strange melancholy feels just the same. Incidentally, this is possibly the most presence of humanity that's ever graced a Silent Season photo-cover. Figures it also depicts nature reclaiming it.

Mr. Gourard had a fairly productive half-decade of activity (so sayeth Lord Discogs). He floated about various labels like Other Heights, Red Dye, and ZeECc, plus had his own short-lived print called Blue Oranges. Following a three album stint with Recycled Plastics, his output appears to have dried up, going quiet these past five years on the production front. Arctic Circle came out around the middle of all that, his lone contribution to the Silent Season saga.

So we're in dub techno and ambient drone territory, as expected with this label. There's the calm and soothing layers of timbre as found in Empty Sky and Frozen Signpost, plus the slightly uptempo tracks like Compass and Edge Of The Chasm. Meanwhile, Glass Dome touches on some good ol' Biosphere-styled drone dub, with an ultra-long fade-out that would have Geir watching his clock a little. What surprised me though, was when this album cautiously tread into dark ambient's domain. Island At The Brink Of Time is quite desolate and sparse, mysterious and cold as the northern winter skies, while The Dusk Glade creates something of a claustrophobic vibe, as though the empty tundra suffocates you under its overwhelming desolation. I guess that explains the oceanic wreck on the cover art – dark ambient loves its boat ruins.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Swayzak - Avantgarde // Serieculture

Avantgarde: 2006

For a while, this was thought of as the Lost Swayzak Album, a collection of original tunes that never saw a proper release. For sure it looks legit, a sturdy digipak with two CDs and spiffy liner notes detailing the London duo's history. Lacking a barcode, however, makes Avantgarde // Serieculture more a fancy promo, though what it's promoting, I haven't a clue. A new label called Avantgarde? This is its only release (so sayeth Lord Discogs), so if it was made to launch it, that failed.

Best I can tell, Avantgarde // Serieculture is little more than a fun collectible Swayzak was handing out while on an American-side tour. I know this because they handed out a copy to me during their Vancouver show. Recollection's fuzzy now, but after seeing them down at the Lotus Sound Lounge (R.I.P., best underground Vancouver club ever), I started chatting with them behind the DJ booth, as one is wont to do when having a drunken buzz going. Throughout my gabbing, David Brown (I think it was David Brown) handed me one of these, to which I probably said I'd do an online review of it for TranceCritic, because I distinctly recall him saying this wasn't an item for commercial review, just a promo. Funny how certain things stick with you like that.

In any event, what I get out of the original tracks on Avantgarde is a collection of tunes that just couldn't fit on Swayzak's more commercial leaning albums. This is some downright minimal, abstract tech-house here, though done in such a spacious, dubby style, I'm rather enraptured by all the clicky noises, warbly woodwinds, echoing piano tones, and glitchy sonic fuzz. Still, most of these are at best transitional tunes in a proper LP, so I can understand why they were relegated to a b-side option such as this. They did eventually appear on a Japanese-only release as part of Serieculture, which is technically Swayzak's last album, but that's the extent of their exposure.

Another item on here that could never have appeared on their regular albums is Subway Travel, a half-hour long concept composition of ever evolving deep tech-house grooves, minimalist looping synth dubs, fuzzy field recordings, and all that good stuff you'd associate with ambient dub's early days. I also don't know if Subway Travel has ever been officially re-released – unlike the other tracks, it doesn't appear on the Swayzak Bandcamp page. Does make Avantgarde // Serieculture worth seeking out for.

CD2 features a DJ mix as presented by the Swayzak Soundsystem, which was handled by frequent collaborator Roger 23. In keeping with the minimalist click-haus vibe of CD1's tracks, this are a deep, serious set of Room 3 vibes, names like Virgo, Africans With Mainframes, Matthew Johnson, Schubert, Shockt, and Zweikarater making up the track list. It's fine for what it is, though I still rate Swayzak's Groovetechnolgy v1.3 well above this. Hm, wonder how that fabric mix fares. Have yet to hear that.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Autumn Of Communion - Autumn Of Communion 6

...txt: 2015

Well, someone lucked out on not one, but two Autumn Of Communion CDs! My patience continues to prove fortuitous (God, I love that word), and with a little more time and pluck, I just might land myself those other older, rarer AoC albums after all. Have any of them possibly come down in price on the collector's market yet? *checks Discogs* NOPE! It utterly boggles my mind that someone paid nearly CA$400 for Autumn Of Communion 3.5. It's just one track! Sure, in a spiffy metal tin, but still.

While it makes skipping out on the AoC Moonstreams box-set that much more cagey on my part, this highlight another good reason to have done so: I'd otherwise have been forced to write reviews for a lot of AoC albums all in a row, and that would get tedious in a hurry, believe you me. Already I'm struggling to come up with much based on these two albums. Imagine if I had to also cover Autumn Of Communion, Autumn Of Communion 2, Autumn Of Communion 3, Autumn Of Communion 3.5, and Autumn Of Communion 3.9. Not to mention Broken Apart By Sunlight Part 1, Broken Apart By Sunlight Part 2, Broken Apart By Moonlight Part 1, and Broken Apart By Moonlight Part 2. And before you point to Neil Young: Archives as proof I could do it, Mr. Young had a far more dynamic and musically adventurous first decade of music making than Lee Norris and Mick Chillage have had together since 2012. There was more to talk about there, is what I'm saying, whereas I can only reiterate so many times how nice Autumn Of Communion's ambient compositions are before your eyes glaze over. I like this stuff, but boy do I need some space between sessions of it.

AoC 6 does focus Lee and Mick's songcraft some, offering up three digestible chunks of music of comparable length. Why, each piece could have tidily fit on one of those charming mini-CDs, a notion I have to assume they realized with the Broken Apart... series just on the horizon. This would also mark the final numerically self-titled album, going out in stark white style.

Autumn Echo 1 has most of the pleasing synth tones and subtle melodic passages I've come to appreciate in AoC's material, but for some reason doesn't stick with me so well. I don't know why. Autumn Echo 2, however, works a nice gradual build, making good use of its near twenty-four minute long runtime, never feeling like its dilly-dallying in getting to whatever point its trying to get to (a charming ambient techno 'peak', is where). Even the lengthy fade out is somehow engaging, almost making me forget there's a third track after. Autumn Echo 3 is on that sentimental, meditative ambient tip, treading close to New Age territory. I've not much else to say about it.

Now imagine me trying to write similar stuff for a dozen more such reviews. Yeah, not happening with sanity intact.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Autumn Of Communion - Autumn Of Communion 5

...txt: 2015

Over a year ago, Lee Norris announced an Autumn Of Communion CD box-set, Moonstreams, gathering up all the AoC albums up to that point. Cool, as much of their early work is no longer readily available in a physical format, some of which only found for triple-digits in the second-hand Marketplace. Had I not already gotten four of those thirteen releases (!), I would have considered snagging such a collection. Alas, it felt redundant getting double-copies of Polydeuces, Metal, Autumn Of Communion 4, and Broken Apart By Echoes. I resigned myself to holding out hope the remaining nine albums might pop up at a tidier price or, God forbid, succumb to a digital option.

Well, the fates proved fortuitous, as EAR/Rational Music unearthed some unsold AoC albums while clearing out their stock room, and made them available to folks on their mailing list. Hey, that includes me! I'll get on that post-haste and- oh, it's Autumn Of Communion 5, one of the lesser regarded albums of AoC's initial run of albums. I know this because it's actually affordable on the second-hand market, and has never commanded the obscenely high selling prices the previous CDs have. Aside from AoC 4 anyway, though that one likely remains affordable due to still being in print. No one's paying for ludicrous collector's mark-up when one can easily buy an original copy at Carpe Sonum's Bandcamp page (not a shameless plug, I swear!).

Don't get me wrong, I was tickled that I snagged a copy of Autumn Of Communion 5, if for nothing else than proving my foresight in passing on the AoC box-set correct. The music within is fine too, though I can understand why it doesn't get talked up as much as their other works. Three tracks comprise this release, the first of which a whopping thirty-four minutes long. And unless this is somehow your first Autumn Of Communion review you're reading (if so, apologies for a confusing couple of paragraphs), you just know that's thirty-four minutes of spacey, soothing, noodly ambient music. As a thirty-four minute long outing of spacey, soothing, noodly ambient music, it's very nice, and has enough additional elements like spritely synths and shifting passages such that it can keep your attention for most of the duration. If you prefer your ambient music in digestible chunks though, Autumn will likely pass you by.

At a shade under fifteen minutes, Communion is easier to take in, and dare I say a might bit lovelier too. This is more on the meditative tip, with breathing synth pads and relaxing melodic tones that make me want to lazily float down a rural creek surrounded by willow trees. In space! The final track Final Communion is a 're-think' by Stormloop, which has something of an old-school Tangerine Dream vibe going for it. An interesting addition to AoC 5, though doesn't really jive with the rest of the album. Then again, with only two other tracks, how much more is there to jive with?

Monday, March 11, 2019

Louderbach - Autumn (Original TC Review)

M_nus: 2009

(2019 Update:
I was a bit off on that Depeche Mode comparison, but beyond that, everything in this review holds up, as does this album for a little bleak sonic artistry in your life. What boggles my mind, though, is how Troy Pierce essentially faded from music making after this. Not just as Louderbach, but in totality. Aside from a smattering of singles shortly after this album's release, Troy's Discoggian data vanishes - I'm not even sure how much he remained involved with Items & Things after he founded it with Marc Houle and Magda. I know he'd become somewhat jaded over techno's direction, but surely not so much that he'd abandon it completely. Such a shame, as he was one of the few 'minimal tech' dudes I actually liked from that insufferable era. Would have been interesting hearing how his sound developed in a post-Berghain era, or even where he'd have taken Louderbach. As for Gibby, he's kept active in the visual industry, but it seems this project was the height of his vocal career. Oh well.)



IN BRIEF: Feel the gloom.

Hey there, how’s it going? Oh, not bad. Lovely weather today, isn’t it. You know that it’s going to turn to rain soon, right? Yeah, I know there’s not a cloud in the sky, but trust me, it’s going to turn damp and overcast soon enough. It won’t be a nice summer shower either, but a long, soaking downpour that will chill you to the bone. Yeah, I suppose it’ll make the grass greener afterward, but all of that lush vegetation is just the byproduct of artificial growth; it’d be green in a desert with all the chemicals saturated in those soils - which, by the way, will dissolve into the rain water as it seeps into the water table, where it will eventually make its way into our drinking reservoirs and finally into our taps as we unconsciously consume these toxins, allowing them to slowly erode our body’s health with cancer until we die from it. Oh, and your favorite sports team won’t win a major championship ever again.

Alright. Have I sufficiently depressed you, my dear readers? If so, then perhaps you’re now in the proper mood to listen to the new Louderbach album titled Autumn. Okay, so it isn’t really that depressing, but in exploring their inner goths, music-man Troy Pierce and vocalist Gibby Miller have conjured up quite the gloomy sophomore effort.

On one hand, this is actually quite beneficial because it’s different from so much of what you’d expect from the M_nus camps these days; instead of a collection of minimal tech that will be forgotten in a year’s time, there’s actual songs on here! More than that, though, is Pierce has eschewed many of contemporary techno’s clichés, which shouldn’t come as a surprise as he’s been one of the biggest critics of plink-plonk-hiss ‘minimal’ for a few years now. As one of the individuals who helped nurture minimal’s early rise in popularity, it’s a safe bet he’s been patiently hoping all the tourists clear out soon. In the meantime, he's taken the time to indulge in another scene altogether: industrial-goth.

If you’ve ever had a passing familiarity with that scene, much of Autumn will come across as old-hat. The murky atmosphere, Depeche Mode-like lyrics, and choking drone-experimentation seem directly lifted from the late 80s - third track One Hundred Reasons could have easily been an early Delerium tune (back when the group was more known for their industrial project Front Line Assembly). Heck, even the cover art seems heavily inspired by 4AD’s output. And this is all perfectly fine. Pierce adds just enough fresh wrinkles into the sound, especially excellent bass grooves, keeping things from sounding too much of a blatant style-bite; it’s apparent he’s got a genuine fondness for this sound, even if his minimal techno career prevented him from exploring it more.

As for Gibby, he too seems to understand that, when it comes to goth-inspired vocals in dance music, it is best not to take things too seriously. I can honestly say I don’t pay much attention to such lyrics, nor do I have any desire to search for a ‘deeper’ meaning; a lot of it is pretentiously dark poetry anyway. So long as his singing simply adds to the atmosphere of a track, he could be going on about walking his dog for all I care. Aside from the opener Autumn and She, Gibby seems to throw a knowing wink to the audience that this music is meant for light escapism rather than deep contemplation. (at least, I sure hope that’s the case…)

Speaking of She… yikes! I don’t know what got into Pierce’s head, but this is one seriously disturbing track. I can actually feel myself suffocating as this one plays, which either makes it devilishly great, or one I’ll never want to unearth again; rather like one of those psychologically terrifying movies.

There’s a couple other odds and ends to Autumn, like the Juan Atkins inspired Nothing More Than A White Poison, which seems out of place given the theme of the rest of the album, but overall I’ve covered the gist of things. It’s a short album that doesn’t stray far in tone, though arranged such that it doesn’t get dull; that is, provided you buy into the whole goth atmosphere. And that’s where some problems arise.

For the minimal techno groups, Autumn will come as a breath of fresh air (despite that air being musky, damp, and carrying the scent of wood-rot): it is, after all, something different from the norm. Label-honcho Hawtin sure seems to believe in this album, having commissioned a whopping seven remixers for the lead single Shine; even mainstream records don’t get that many right off the bat. Yet despite nothing to fault with the music on hand, long-time goths aren’t going to be nearly as enthralled. Any number of albums released in the past twenty years have touched on these themes and sounds with various results; Louderbach falls somewhere in the higher end of the middle of that pack. Plus, you can’t help but wonder if the goth scene will accept Pierce and Miller with open arms, or figure them as much of tourists as all the ‘minimal’ producers that sprung up a couple years back.

Whatever the case, Autumn is a fun little album to throw on if you want to get in touch with your depressive side, but generally too singular in tone to be a compelling listen in any other setting.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2009. © All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Cosmo Cocktail - Aurora

Werkstatt Recordings: 2017

Huh. Looks like I wasn't out of the Werkstatt woods after all. It's not like I forgot this album was in the queue either, its cover art quite striking in that classic space-synth mould. In fact, that's probably why I forgot it was a Werkstatt release, almost too good for the label. That's not a dig on the Greece synth peddlers, just that they tend to have a certain aesthetic, the sort of pulpy style you'd expect out of dingy cyperpunk enclaves, not airbrushed cosmic vistas. And while the art isn't anything spectacular either, I get more a Dynatron vibe out of it than Retrosynther. To be honest, I was at a loss of where I got Aurora in the first place, and was savouring the reveal of when I finally got to it proper-like. I'd forgotten it was Werkstatt, knew it wasn't Blood Music, but couldn't think of any other synthwave labels I'd raided these past couple years. Aphasia Records?

A few other factors had me thinking Aurora as an album released elsewhere. For one, Cosmo Cocktail isn't an utter blank within the Discoggian archives: there's even a full name provided! Luca Brumat mostly self-released a smattering of digital EPs, though found an additional outlet with 30th Floor Records, another in the endless amount of synthwave net-labels that emerged this past decade. With no physical releases though, naturally I didn't pay that print any mind, and I'm assuming the lure of tapes and CDs brought Mr. Brumat into the Werkstatt fold. His first one was Atmosphere Zero, with cover art featuring what appears to be a cyborg seaman operating the periscope of a U-boat – ah, that's the Werkstatt aesthetic I'm talkin' about.

Far as I can tell, Aurora is Cosmo Cocktail's magnum-opus, even getting a vinyl re-issue through TimeSlave Recordings (synthwave label # 138, 428, but has Futurecop!). It's certainly some high-grade synthwave music in the space-synth mould (SSSSYYYNNNNNTHHH!). The titular proper-opener captures all the cosmic vibes of casually cruising the solar system in tiny model spaceships against matte paintings and neon vector grids. Unfamiliar Skies adds some new wave vibes with a crooning Ideon. The Skylab Odyssey lays the epic synth chords on heavier. Last Call adds a little acid burbling to a strident new beat space groove. Across Orion Nebula ups the pace some while bringing more of a mysterious tone to the party. We'll Never Come Back serves as a lengthy credits coda to the album. Gagarin! Don't Look Back! ...um, severing ties to an evil galactic mega-corp criminal ring? Got nothing there.

What really pushes Aurora over the edge as one of Werkstatt's best releases is the production, everything coming in clear and crisp, with sonic resonance befitting a professional retro-studio rather than a DIY outfit. Heck, it's even better than some of Blood Music's output, which can sound muddy at times. With all these factors in play, can you blame me for initially thinking Aurora wasn't Werkstatt? I think not!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Tristan - Audiodrome

Twisted Records: 2000

A significant album for yours truly, though not for anything to do with the music within. Or maybe a little, though I don't put that on Tristan himself. Nay, Audiodrome was the first CD that I learned to not have any faith in Amazon reviews. It was still early in my 'online buying' days, that fancy new credit card I finally procured providing me access to the largest storefront the world has ever seen. What to buy, though, what to buy? Well, look at that, some handy 'recommendation lists' from Amazon users, and there's even one for trance. I like trance! At least, I think I still liked trance. If it's good trance, at least, and this particular list was reppin' some names that skewed towards the psy side of things. Ooh, Tristan, I know that name, appearing on that Trance Psyberdelic compilation. With adjectives like 'dark' and 'deep' in this reviewer's high praise of Audiodrome, I thought I might be in for another Black Album from L.S.G. Well, not quite.

So this album couldn't live up to the adulation of an Amazon review. Unfortunately, it didn't even live up to my expectation of a psy trance album. True, that's totally on me, as I was honestly unaware that a significant segment of the psy scene had embraced minimalism. In fact, Tristan's work is often cited as among the forerunners of that shift, Audiodrome held up as one of its best offerings. I can jive with that, the music on here definitely better than other examples of this sound from this era – one need only gander at that Alien Dust compilation for proof. Heck, some of Audiodrome is better than what's being churned out in this style to this day - ain't no abuse of triplets here, my friends.

And to be fair, only a couple tracks are of the slower, minimalist plodding variety. Even fairer, I respect Tristan's attempt at doing something quite different from psy trance norms. If anything, Valve is a precursor to the monotonous strand of prog-psy, so you gotta' give him credit for predicting it so far ahead of everyone else. I suppose Reptile Mind isn't too bad either, though constantly fails at shifting into second gear. Is probably the point.

That's not to say the rest of Audiodrome features a ton of tear-out trance, the remaining tracks generally minimalist as well. They show greater use of tension and build though, such that when those vintage psy-trance peaks hit, Tristan's getting maximum efficiency out of minimal sounds (and hey, if I need something more classical-goa, there's always Dreamtime). Naturally, I didn't 'get it' at the time, but have come to appreciate the songcraft in these tunes, especially in lieu of future repeated examples of how awful this can go. Audiodrome still isn't recommended for novice psy heads, truly a slow burner of an album. If you've been lurking about those 'forest trance' sorts though, give this one a go to hear its roots.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Various - Audioworks Various Artists V1 (Original TC Review)

C.I.A.: 2004

(2019 Update:
Well, is this ever an eyesore. I know there's still a few track-by-track reviews lurking in my archives, but the older they get, the harder they are to read. Not that they were well-written in the first place, but my eyes can't help but glaze over once the supposed meat is getting detailed. Looks like a bunch of fat and gristle now. Some folks out there like fat and gristle, but not me. I likes my steak lean an' mean.

Of course, the biggest oversight in this review is the total absence of any Pendulum name-drops. True, this compilation came out before the Down-Southerns changed the d'n'b game forever after, but I was writing this at peak Pendulum-mania. Frankly, though I knew they existed, and Jack Moss had reviewed them for TranceCritic, they never registered on my radar until much later. Just goes to show how out of the loop I really was from jungle at the time, so take whatever I had to say here with a boulder of sodium carbonate.)



IN BRIEF: Rough’n’ready jungle for all.

Got’dang’it, but do I ever have a hard time starting these jungle reviews. I only dip into that scene whenever I feel the urge to bust out some frantic dancing or be absorbed by sub-whoofer assaults. The cultural nuances hardline junglists cling to with life-or-death intensity fly over my head, just because I’ve never been subservient to any one small niche of music-dom. Yes, I do my research for the necessary background info on the subject, but the personal insight a highly anticipated release on the jungle ‘mah-siive’ isn’t something I feel. I am, for all intent and purpose, a passive fan of the music, and that’s about it.

Perhaps that’s why we don’t cover as much jungle as some of the other genres. We know we can’t bullshit our way through some of the more underground acts, as junglists would see right through us. Alternatively, just dryly covering a release’s details is awfully boring, and can probably be read anywhere anyways.

Take this release for instance. I’m sure a hardline junglist could go into great depth about Total Science, their impact on the ‘deebee’ scene, and the particulars about their C.I.A. label. Of course, I could do the same, but the nuances junglists have come to know from fellow scensters would undoubtedly be missing from my interpretation of this info. While events are just historical dates to me, to the junglist they are defining moments in their lives.

Does this make me qualified to review jungle? As a review of jungle for junglists, maybe not. However, as a general music fan writing for other general music fans, why certainly.

That convoluted disclaimer out of the way, let’s dive ourselves into some breakneck drum’n’bass, yes?

So yeah, Audioworks is basically a showcase of the C.I.A. family (the C.I.A. stands for Computer Integrated Audio, your fun-fact of the day). Everyone has a moment to flex their muse here, and while the tempos are fairly consistent at their rapid pace, there are still plenty of flavors to be had.

Hive & Echo get the party started with some easy going street funk and synthy strings. Of course, the rhythms are as frenetic as ever, but never feel as though they’ll derail at any moment. As for the bassline, it doesn’t try to bludgeon you with its presence, simply bobbing along at sub-frequencies that’ll rumble in your gut when played on adequate sound-systems.

However, if you prefer your jungle with the basslines dominating, then Baron’s Meet The Creeper will be right up your alley. After a bit of a tease in the intro, the beats come in slammin’ with a grimy bass riff. Nothing pretty about this track; it knows its role and performs it admirably. DJ Friction’s follow-up Shockwave indulges with the formula a little more though, making use of a bleepy hook to play off the main bass hook. Additional sound effects complete the package, making Shockwave a well-rounded slice of niceness.

Wisely, Audioworks doesn’t overindulge in these tracks for long, and takes us into more soulful territory with Total Science’s own offering of Picture Perfect. The bassline still has drive, but the additional synth hooks and vocal samples help carry the song to mellower pastures. The next couple of tracks follow Picture Perfect’s lead quite nicely, although Booty Conspiracy began to wear a bit thin with its repetitiveness.

Invaderz aim to change the mood of this compilation once again, giving us a taste of the paranoid sci-fi soundscapes of Control. With more attention payed to the atmosphere rather than the rhythms here (the beats tend to be quite repetitive, and are arranged in such a manner that isn’t the easiest to dance to), this track may not be up your alley if you prefer your jungle soulful or energetic. Still, as a diversion form what we’ve heard so far on Audioworks, Control is a welcome bit of moody music.

The Spirit’s Midnight Run retains a similar atmosphere to Control, but the beats are more ‘bang-on’, making it easier to groove to. It also marks a return of the dominating basslines as heard earlier in this compilation, although intermittently. It makes for a nice segue though.

Why? Because follow-up Friday is absolutely killer, that’s why! The intro beats to this track are already some of the most intense heard on Audioworks, but when Friday briefly breaks down to introduce the main bassline hook in a nice build, the energy it creates is off the fucking chart! This is head-banging, balls-to-the-wallz, pummel you senseless jungle business here. And like crafty producers, Drumsound and Smith only makes use of it sparingly, making you hungry for it to drop back in but never for so long you get sick of it. Fucking wicked, this track is.

After that burst of nitro, we’re taken into a blissy bit of drum’n’bass with Digital’s 3 Point, hinting at an easy-going outro for this compilation. Follow-up Divine Intervention seems to support this idea for a bit, but takes a 180 by unleashing a growling, abrasive bassline with terrifying results. Heh, nothing like a little ‘bait’n’switch’ action to snap you out of your stupor. Q Project does come correct though, offering us a dubby slice of ragga jungle to take us out.

In all, I quite enjoyed listening to Audioworks. While individually these tracks may not be breaking any new ground, their arrangement here is very good. At no point did I feel the flow lagged or came to an abrupt halt, and each track managed to sound different enough from the last to keep me interested. In fact, even after listening to this constantly for the last few days to write this review, I’ve never grown bored of it, and will probably still have it on my current rotation.

Audioworks is a solid compilation of jungle. Even if you’re only a passive fan of the genre, do check it out.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2006. © All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Various - Fade Records Presents: Audiotour - Chris Fortier

Benz Street US: 2004

It's amazing how Chris Fortier repeatedly kept the 'trance' faith alive for me. I've already gone on a tonne over the hopelessly obscure Trance America mix from him, and wouldn't you know it, he did it again with an almost equally obscure mix CD, this little Audiotour item. Right, this isn't trance, but progressive house, or prog, whichever you prefer in the year 2004, though even then there were a number of notions of what prog-house was anymore. Was it the deep, dark, dubby tribal stuff Digweed had been championing for a while? Or was it the slighter, poppier stuff as heard from Gabriel & Dresden's various works? Was it some mutant hybrid with twinkly melodies and chugging rhythms? No one knew for sure, thus the scene was set to fracture in such a fashion that it still hasn't found common ground again. All I knew at the time was most of the mixes I was sampling weren't doing it for me, leaving me wondering whether I'd ever buy another prog-house CD.

And honestly, I wasn't expecting a revival or something from Chris Fortier – I was surprised enough seeing this release sitting idly in an A&B Sound that browsing day. I knew he'd done a mix for Digweed's Bedrock series, but had heard little else from him since Trance America. For all I knew, he had jumped on the McProg bandwagon too, or maybe pulled a Steve Porter and gone funky house! And hoo, did I fear the worst with the opening track A.B.E. from Motive, a short-lived project from Tom Anderson and Mark Hunt, featuring the vocals of Abegale Fishcer, and among the cheesiest prog-breaks tunes I've ever heard. Just... eugh. I'm flabbergasted that the label behind Fade would release such a track. Then again, they also were the first to remix Delerium's Silence.

Forget the first track. It has nothing to do with the rest of the mix, a total misdirection of where Audiotour takes you. Yes, this is basically a Fade Records showcase, and wouldn't you know it, Fortier had kept his label on the straight and narrow, releasing tunes like it's still the year 1999. Or 2001. Whenever you figure 'peak dark prog' was. Point is you get those tasty vintage deep dubby chuggers like Blackwatch's rub on Luigi's Creation, The Ally Qats' Talk To Me Goose (that breakdown!), and Chris Micali's L' Èvasion (complete with creepy sample of Dr. Loomis describing Michael Myers in the insane asylum).

The moody groovers out of the way, Fortier unleashes a few fun anthems for the close-out, including a cheeky collaborative remix with Steve Porter on D'Shake's old-timey Yaaaah! (that's four 'a's, yo'). Chris's own cut Wateveritis works the classic prog-house vibes as wonderfully as any tune from the '90s, while the final run of Fade tunes are fine, though strangely sound a tad dated compared to the tracks that came prior. Still, when it comes to '90's sounding mid-'00s prog-house, I'll take dated any day!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Autechre - Incunabula

Warp Records: 1993

(a Patreon Request)

It's clear I've neglected Autechre, and I have my reasons. Fear, disinterest, embarrassment... all worthy factors (no joke, for the longest time, I thought their name was pronounced “aur-toosh”; I don't know how that happened). Honestly, it was probably a singular Muzik Magazine review that led me astray from the music of Rob Brown and Sean Booth, in that they were lamenting how 'un-musical' they'd become since their first three records. An exaggeration, perhaps, but the stuff I was hearing from Autechre at the time was indeed super serious IDM experimentalism. Cool if you dig on technical wankery, but it wasn't something I was interested in. Still, those first three albums were highly recommended. Maybe one day, I'd check them out. One day, one day... one day...

Oh hey, one day is here! And if I'm gonna' dive into Autechre, I may as well start from the beginning, as it's apparently the easiest leaping on point. Incunabula came out at the tail-end of Warp Records' Artificial Intelligence run, the last of the original artist albums under the banner. Warp would release one more compilation, then essentially mothball the series, as all these weird ambient techno 'doods' had enough clout to stand on their own without a concept linking them all together. Besides, with so many other labels now getting in on this 'intelligent techno' trend, I'm sure the label wanted to distance itself from such a gimmicky tag. Good luck on that, mates.

As for Incunabula (ergh... keep wanting to type 'innocuous'), yeah, it's definitely an early ambient techno album. I can hear why latter-era Autechre followers aren't too fussed with this debut, as it really sounds like the lads from Rochdale are still influenced by their peers rather than embarking on any drastic sonic journeys themselves. I'd even be so willing to say this might be the least 'Autechre-sounding' album in their discography, if I had any clue what the majority of their discography sounds like.

For sure it's one of the finer examples of early ambient techno, and you can hear plenty of sonic markers still being emulated by modern producers of this sound – Aphex Twin didn't have a monopoly on inspiration, after all. By the same token though, a track like Bike sounds like it could just as easily appeared on a B12 EP, Aut Riche just as easily on a Black Dog collection, Brochus 2 as a Speedy J fill, and Lowride as a ...wait, isn't that DJ Premier In Deep Concentration?

Still, there are glimmers of the complex drum programming Autechre would come to known by, tracks like Maetle, 444, and Basscadet showing they were willing to think outside the traditional techno box. Meanwhile, Windwind, Eggshell, and Doctrine have nice warm melodies countering the harsher electronics, which is what we ever wanted out of our ambient techno anyway. Incunabula may not be a terribly challenging record compared to later Autechre works, but it's enjoyable on its own merits just the same.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

OutKast - ATLiens

LaFace Records: 1996

Now this one, I was under no delusion it'd sound like Stankonia. No one in hip-hop sounded like Stankonia in the mid-'90s – heck, very few sounded like Stankonia when that album dropped, though I'm sure there's an outlier or two that could be pointed out as the true originator of 'southern trap-rap crunk-jungle soul'. Point being, though Stankonia kinda' numbed the enjoyment I should have had with Aquemini, I knew fully well ATLiens would be its own beast, meaning I could take it in under its own terms, expectant hype be damned.

No, wait, that's not entirely true. I knew ATLiens had its own high amount of praise, though for different reasons. An album that showed there was something creative and ingenious brewing in the lands of Georgia. An album that proved southern rap could be more than a bunch of booty bass and ghetto-cheap beats. That Wu-Tang Clan didn't have a monopoly on comic book iconography. Okay, maybe not so much that last one, but man, doesn't Big Boi look like he'd fit right in with a team-up with Method Man or Ghostface Killah? Right, they settled on Raekwon in Aquemini, but for sure the seeds of a major coastal crossover event were planted here. Also, Andre 3000 as a genie, but there were wacky sorts in hip-hop before him. He just started flying his own freak flag for ATLiens.

So if there's any disappointment to be had from my end regarding OutKast's sophomore album, it's that they didn't push the envelop quite as far as I was led to believe. The package screams ultra nerdcore concept outing, and given the general plaudits heaped upon it, I figured it a game-changer not just in the lexicon of southern rap, but all of rap. Nay, it's instead treading ground already being charted by the likes of the Hieroglyphics crew and other 'backpack rappers' of the time. And hey, totally a departure of what was expected from the south, so that's good enough, right?

Right. I don't need to hear Boi and 3000 rapping about their intergalactic escapades as portrayed in the booklet's comic. Hearing them waxing tales about living in Atlanta is good enough when the flows are this dope and the beats are this fine. ATLiens is best served as a deep southern fried slice of chilled-out vibes, perfect cruising material for hot 'n muggy days just trying to get by. There are moments of introspection, moments of booty chasin', and moments of good ol' simple head-boppin' – all under a thick THC haze as imported from somewhere beyond the outer reaches of your being. Or something.

It's a strange journey I've taken in exploring OutKast's discography. I came in when they were crossing over, but before they'd truly broken through the mainstream. The further back I dug, the simpler they seemed, but somehow more interesting too. Still, not sure I'm up for Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. That one seems too straight-forward, and I need my OutKast a little askew.

Friday, March 1, 2019

ACE TRACKS: February 2019

So this past month, I've had to do something for work that I haven't had to do in a very long time. It's something I've dreaded could come about again, the nature of my work somewhat fickle in where I must go for periods of time. See, the nature of living in Vancouver is you should never, ever commute over a bridge or through a tunnel. Unfortunately, the expense of living in Vancouver often means one must find residence out in the 'burbs, across the bridges and through the tunnels. I have not done this, as my means of living has left enough financial fluency such that I can live within Vancouver-proper, where my work has been for the past decade.

At the start of February, however, I was 'loaned out' to another place to work. A place that's on the other side of a bridge. One that I must commute to in an opposite direction. Actually, the commute there is pretty easy, as I leave rather early in the morning and is a breeze, the time just a shade longer than the time it takes me to get to my regular working area. That commute back, on the other hand. Dear God, it'd almost be just as fast for me to walk the distance, the traffic so congested. Of course, if I had my own vehicle, this wouldn't be such an issue, but if I don't cheap out with transit, how can I continue living in my Vancouver paradise? Oh well, what's an extra 45 minutes home from work, when you got a fresh ACE TRACKS playlist to jive on?


Full track list here.

MISSING ALBUMS:
Motorbass - Pansoul
Paul Oakenfold - Perfecto Presents Another World
Bandulu - Antimatters
Pitch Black - Ape To Angel
The Angling Loser - Arena Of Apprehension
Morgan - Arrakis

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 11%
Percentage Of Rock: 26%
Most “WTF?” Track: any of the Asia songs (whoa, they were actually good!)

Yep, that's another pile o' tune missing from another playlist. Ahh, just like old times, eh? Getting down to the final stretch of 'A' album though, which means we're in for another massive backlog of newer music to get through. Don't worry though, that Viking Metal I've hinted at is put off for much further down the road.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Skua Atlantic - Atlantic Fusion

Databloem: 2018

This is an item I've had sitting mostly neglected since I got it, however long ago my last Databloem splurge was. I didn't know anything about it, only that it had a blue cover art, the best colour for cover art. I threw it on once, passively listening to it in the background, and generally liking what I heard though not significantly enough to get me hotly anticipating digging into it proper-like for a review. Re-listening to it now, and sure enough more of it sinks in, the sort of ambient techno that reaches deeper into the electro and Detroit lineage, though with plenty o' nods to the mellower side of early Warp Records too. Like Selected Ambient Works 86-92, without the lingering alien synth tones or lurking mad-genius behind every uniquely construction rhythm section.

So I go to Discogs to get my requisite additional info and who's name do I see as part of Skua Atlantic but Mick Chillage. I swear to God, Allah, Vishnu, Buddah, and Spaghetti Monster, I did not know this going in. It was just the blue cover art that caught my attention! And it's not like I would have name-dropped Skua Atlantic when talking about other collaborative projects Mr. Gainford's been part of. Autumn Of Communion with Lee Norris remains his most prominent one, and there was that lone Architects Of Existence a couple years back. This is comparatively new, so you'll forgive me for having not paid attention to everything Mick's been up to – I can only do so much keeping up with his solo works and Autumn Of Communion.

Besides, there's another name here I should talk up, Árni Grétar, more commonly known as Futuregrapher. Okay, maybe not 'commonly', but the guy's had a tidy career under the alias, all the while running the Icelandic print Möller Records (the... Bandcamp... calls...). He mostly sticks to the ambient techno lane as well, but has been known to mix things up with jazzy drum programming and even a little jungle action. Not the most obvious pairing with Chillage, then, but sometimes you need someone outside your main sphere of influence to find truly inspirational sparks of creativity.

And that's what I'm hearing in Atlantic Fusion, as much a meshing of differing approaches to songcraft as flowing along similar senses for sound. I've heard Chillage create retro ambient techno plenty of times, but never retro in this fashion. I can only assume this is Grétar's contribution to the project, though taking in a little of his other works, I notice his ambient markers as well. It's strange how this album can sound futuristic, yet Balearic (ocean waves and seagulls help). Where I'm backpacking across Europe, but hitching rides from flying cars. Take an acid house club stop-over (Metro West (Acid City)), just for the kicks. Atlantic Fusion almost sounds like it should have come out on B12's FireScope label, though I'm glad Databloem released it just the same. T'was a tad cheaper from them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Flowers For Bodysnatchers - Asylum Beyond

Cryo Chambers: 2017

I had a couple angle ideas going into this album from Flowers For Bodysnatchers. A brief recap on the project from where we'd left off. Something about the history of messed-up asylum stories. A quip about how it's been so long since I last wrote anything about Cryo Chamber. As I sat down to commit fingers to keyboard though, I got an email notice informing me that Duncan Ritchie is set to release a brand new Flowers For Bodysnatchers album in a week or two. Well that's cool, thinks I, Alive With Scars perhaps providing me with some additional tidbits of info I can use for this review.

I scope out the Bandcamp link, intrigued by the picture of an upright human nervous system seemingly wandering an abandoned Victorian garden. Definitely something I've never seen before, making me wonder what the concept behind the album is. Multiple Sclerosis is the concept, the PR blurb informs, a wasting away of one's body by its own immune system. A condition Duncan has lived with for the past decade. Oh. Oh my!

Suddenly making an album about 'the Suicide Forest' takes on a whole other light. Not that this has much to do with Asylum Beyond, but it's difficult shaking all that from my head. Must move on for now though, lest I use up any talking points for whenever I do get around to discussing Alive With Scars proper-like.

Asylum Beyond has plenty 'nuff material to dig into, a 'ripped from the headlines' tale of antique shop keepers, occult rituals, lunatic hospitals, and mass murders. Fairly traditional horror fiction topics, all told, but something of a departure for Mr. Ritchie, who's albums tend to deal with mood music and psychological depression. With its ample field recordings and sparse ambience, Asylum Beyond comes off one part film soundtrack, and one part radio drama, though lacking much dialog beyond your requisite Latin chanting; can't deal with the occult without that Latin chant.

And thus I've come to yet another dark ambient album conundrum, wherein talking about it seems a futile effort. Sure, I could detail all the creepy things that go on, like heavy, echoing footsteps in abandoned warehouses in Midnight My Dearest Midnight, or discordant string swells in Ravenfield (the asylum's name), or the cheeky sample of an old-timey symphony recording at the end Phantasma, but my detailing lacks context without hearing it as part of the album's narrative whole. Asylum Beyond is bookended by creepy piano pieces, but without taking the journey of deepening madness from beginning to end, they lack the poignancy Duncan's tale offers.

Dark ambient isn't generally the most musically inclined of genres out there, usually settling for mood and atmospherics. Strangely, it's even rarer to hear an album that's this detailed in its storytelling. Simon Heath definitely indulges it with his Atrium Carceri and Sabled Sun projects, and I'm sure there's others, but it's a treat to hear another take the challenge on just the same.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Astral Projection - Astral Projection

(~): 2002

Track List:
1. Liquid Sun
2. Astral Projection vs Trilithon - Burning Up (Psychedelic Burn Out Remix)
3. Searching For UFO's
4. People Can Fly!
5. Let There Be Light
6. SFX - We Are Controlling Transmission
7. Anything Is Possible
8. Aurora Borealis

If some of y'all have wondered why goa trance legends Astral Projection have been conspicuously absent from my music collection, this is why. Absolutely I knew of them, and when cruising the AudioGalaxys and MP3.coms of the web two decades past, they were among the first names to crop up when my inquiries of 'goa trance' and 'psychedelic trance' were sent into the ether. And wouldn't you look at that, plenty of seeds for quick downloads! Absolutely I'll nab myself a bunch of those, thanks. Eventually I had enough cool tunes for a burned disc of strictly Astral Projection music, the result of which being this myself-titled compilation. Simple enough explanation, right? Oh, not so fast, I'm afraid.

Truth is, I did this with a lot of artists, including such names like Juno Reactor, Spicelab, Aphex Twin, and Biosphere. Some of those early discs simply deteriorated, but as I found myself more gainfully employed and with easier access to the CDs I wanted, I went out of my way to actually buy the albums proper-like. Who wants to settle for crummy MP3 rips on burned CDs when you can have the real deal, right? Only... I never did the deed with Astral Projection. I've forever kept this lone disc as all that I need from the famed Israeli duo, and honestly don't have much inclination to rectify that. I like the A.P. stylee, just not enough to spring for their albums. Frankly, I feel like I've heard about all there is to them with the selection of tracks I did settle with for this compilation. Sans Mahadeva, of course.

I'm sure their REAL fans could create a more authentic CD, but considering I didn't know much about them at the time, I'd say I did pretty well assembling these tunes. There's two from Trust In Trance, two from Dancing Galaxy, one from Another World, one from (then current) Amen, plus some assorted compilation-only goodies. Oh, and the Astral Projection tune that's technically not an Astral Projection tune, We Are Controlling Transmission, released just prior to them adopting their lasting alias. It certainly is more indebted to German trance than anything from the shores of Goa, and is honestly my favourite cut of the lot here.

And that's the crux of what's prevented me from diving any deeper into their discography, a sense that there really isn't much more to their sound that what's here. For sure there's differences between tracks, but when an older tune leaps out as more distinct than all that followed, I reckon there's a minor issue in your songcraft. Still, folks enjoy Astral Projection for a dependable, spacey goa trance vibe, so all the more power to them in delivering it time and again.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Asia - Asia

Geffen Records: 1982

You'd forgive me for thinking this would be better. Given the pedigree of the players involved, how could anyone initially think otherwise? The band Yes guitarist Steve Howe ended up on? Hell, I'm sold already. Geoff Downes may not be the definitive Yes synth player, but he was involved enough to be considered honoured alum, so I'll dig on what he's doing too. That John Wetton dude, long time session bassist with Yes, King Crimson and Uriah Heep: sounds like as fine a prog-rock resume as anyone of the time. And those Palmer and Lake chaps, of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, they have a darn good reputation among prog-rock heads, especially Greg Lake from his time in King Crimson. Throw in some nifty Roger Dean cover art, and I'm ready to throw this self-titled debut album from super-group Asia on. Screw what all the haters have said about this band over the years, this is gonna' rock my socks off the clock on the corner block. Hollycock!

Then opener Heat Of The Moment starts, and my face drops. Oh... That song. They were behind it. I... honestly had no idea. Absolutely I've heard it tons on the classic rock radio, the ultimate '80s radio, and the generic pop hits radio, but it never clicked for me it was by Asia. Like, the distinctive Howe guitar action I'm familiar with is almost utterly absent. No, that's not it, he's there, but buried in the mix, on equal footing with Downes' synths, Palmer's drums, and Wetton's bass. Rather, it's all about Wetton's lead vocals, which makes sense for a radio-friendly tune – no time for technical prog-rock wankery in a three-to-four minute jangle. Same goes for Only Time Will Tell, another song featured aplenty on all the aforementioned radio stations. For sure you get some solos from each player involved, but as brief seconds-long spurts, not minutes-long exercises.

How? How could Howe and co. stoop to such commercial pandering? As always, my old man had a nugget of wisdom when I inquired him about it. After the previous decade was spent getting dicked by shady labels and making little scratch for all their artistic endeavours, shooting for the charts had to be an enticing offer for these guys. I'm sure their deal with Geffen Records was a lucrative one, David Geffen snatching up anyone he could with promises of favourable contracts to establish his hip new label. Just, y'know, make sure you get some hits on the radio while you're at it. And Asia certainly delivered that.

And guess what! Once past those obvious arena rock anthems, Asia turns into the sort of prog-rock outing I was expecting, with plenty o' musical showcases and highlighted Howe guitar action among the power-pop choruses. Yeah, there's cheese, production's a little too studio polished, and it ain't a touch on their '70s stuff, but it's not so embarrassing as other '80s prog-rock went. At least on par with Yes' 90125, if you will.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Timestalker - Arrival Of The Stalkers

Werkstatt Recordings: 2016

Okay, I'm almost certain this is the last Werkstatt Recordings item I have left to review. I've gone through my backlog, and am positive nothing's among the 'B' albums. I don't want to say this will definitively close the door on my coverage of Toxic Razor's print, because there's some chance another release from there will catch my eye (always the eye before the ear with Werkstatt). No more thematic bulk buys though, nosiree, bobski. Finally, I can say I'm closing the book on this odd chapter of my blog's history, wherein the promise of more synthwave than I could shake a Yamaha DX7 at was there for the taking (also: sweet stickers).

Arrival Of The Stalkers is as fitting a cap on my Werkstatt saga as any, a release that seems to encapsulate what I initially found so darn cool about the label, but eventually worn down by too. It's got the striking cover art, in this case a Judge Dredd future-shock depiction, though set in bright neo-Tokyo rather than the grimdark slums of the original comic – always what is thought represented that decade, not what was. However, Timestalker is mostly a Discoggian blank, though at least has a follow-up album listed and a Bandcamp link leading to a couple more releases. It looks as though he's developed a tidy if small career for himself, which is more than can be said for nearly half the Werkstatt alum I've thus far covered. And if the Bandcampian algorithm is suggesting GosT in association with your music, you must be doing something right.

The titular opener also perfectly hits all those tasty attributes my enjoyment of synthwave craves. The 'ripped from a Cannon Film Group newscast' sample, the crunchy darksynth low-ends, the bright, ear-wormy synth leads, and ooh, some added string pads at the peaks. It's nothing I haven't heard before from this genre, but it does it exactly the way I like it, which is the least I ever ask for in the music I like.

Follow-up track Rise Of The Pariah hints at another winner, with that good ol' Carpenter influence going in the rhythm. Unfortunately, the bright lead synths accompanying the tough low-end is a serious clash of tones, and the tune struggles to coalesce into anything memorable. Outbreak Of Evil suffers for this too, a strong opening of aggressive darksynth ideas, undone by a clashing lead synth; also, whoof, that keychange. And did I ever want to like Ultra-Violence, getting in on that outrun Perturbator stylee, if only the chirping synths meshed better.

And that sums up my experience with much of Werkstatt's catalogue, don't it? Excitable initial lure, a tune or two that captures my fancy, but a bunch of niggling things that reminds me there's a lot of amateur producers still finding their feet. Still, I'll always give the label credit for giving these aspiring musicians an opportunity, some of whom have gone onto bigger careers. Gotta' start somewhere.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Morgan - Arrakis

Lotek Records: 2002

Quite a few people feel David Lynch's Dune is a lot of bad things. Incomprehensible. Impenetrable. A gross misrepresentation of the novel. A meandering mess of inner monologues and dated special effects, a ton of wasted acting and costuming talents. An inglorious mess of a film, that's constantly being pillaged for memes, parodies, and samples. Wait, is that a bad thing? I've gotten plenty of giggles and guffaws from the memes and parodies, while much of electronic music is indebted to Dune's dialog. Where might Ian Loveday as EON have gone without that movie? Not to mention the voices of Virginia Madsen, Kyle MacLachlan, and Random Robo-Computer Spacing Guild Voice endlessly being used in trance tunes. Frank Herbert's visionary space-opera with cool sounding names like Arrakis and Kwisatz Haderach is forever enthralling folks new and old alike. Even those who's muse don't really jive with Dune's aesthetic.

Maybe it's Brian Eno and Toto's contributions to the Lynch movie soundtrack forever setting the template, but when I think of Dune, ominous mysterious music always springs to mind (y'know, trance!). I don't think high energy club-stomping circus clown music, with basslines that have a bangin' donk on it. I've no doubt Morgan's heart and intent was in the right place – a bad-ass name for a bad-ass mix, with bad-ass samples from a bad, ass (?) film – but man, it's such a whiplash going from the well-worn, ethereal Prologue of the movie, straight into an OD404 track.

Let's backtrack: who is Morgan? One of the premier NRG and UK hard house jocks in America, he was instrumental in developing its scene on the Pacific side of the continent, even going so far as to establish one of the earliest labels supporting domestic artists with any consistency. It didn't last much past the '00s, but for a genre that was always rather fringe 'round these here parts, Lotek Records had a good run. Morgan's Discoggian info mostly dries up this decade as well, though I'm sure he's called into service for the odd gig here and there. Despite massive shifts in electronic music interests and demographics, this music has retained a surprisingly sturdy, devoted following to this day, with folks remembering Morgan's contributions in its early rise.

Which doesn't have much to do with me, if I'm honest. This is a form of music I'm fine with upon its initial thrust of enthusiasm, but wears down on after about twenty minutes of the same ol' formula over and over. Uncreative DJs are usually to blame for that, and credit to Morgan, he does mix things up between the hoover-tastic NRG cuts and the goofy, donk-y tracks, all the while throwing in Dune samples throughout. The concept may conflict with my sensibilities, but Morgan commits to it. An hour of this is more than I'm willing to take before my interest wanders though, and had Arrakis not been part of another person's former CD collection, I wouldn't have gotten it at all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Angling Loser - Arena Of Apprehension

...txt: 2016

That's another Lee Norris project ticked off the list. Yet, I'm still barely half-way through 'em all, and who knows if I'll ever find a copy of Orphic Signals' Sounds Of The Neutron, or Tone Language's Patience Is the Key.This one's a little more involved than just another pairing with a producer for a singular jam session though. Nay, The Angling Loser is a conglomerate of musicians Lee happens to know and are all over for a jam. Sir Cliff is here! Porya Hatami is here! Shintaro Aoki is here! Martin Hirsch is here! Wil Bolton is here! Or might be here, depending on the album. Maybe they only all appeared in the first 2013 album, Author Of The Twilight, because I don't see all those names in Arena Of Apprehension's liner notes. Eh, who are all these names? Oh c'mon, I've reviewed a couple of them already. Porya for sure. Uh... Bolton, maybe? No? Hmm.

Anyway, that initial session must have worked out well enough for most of the players involved, as Lee, Porya, Shintaro, and Sir (Gordon Jones) reconvened a few years later for another. Not a huge one, mind you, Arena Of Apprehension running just five tracks long, averaging between eight and ten minutes in length. That's only forty-four minutes total, an astonishingly low number for guys making ambient and modern classical. Surely there were a few extra drone-scapes lurking in their minds. Were they all only available for a single day? Hey, it's possible, the scheduling of artists from various locales conflicting with one another; places to be, gigs to perform, families to care, other jobs needing attention. It was probably a small effort just to get enough of the O.G. Angling Loser posse in for at least one more outing under the project name.

So, of all the myriad Norris ambient projects I've taken in, what differentiates The Angling Loser, beyond the increased performers? At first ear-glance, acoustic guitar, as played by Gordon “Sir Cliff” Jones. Ain't heard no six-stringer strumming on Memex or Moss Garden, that's for sure. Maybe on an Autumn Of Communion album, but I haven't heard all those yet (no box-set of that duo for me, thanks). Along with the usual minimalist ambient pads and textures you hear in almost everything Lee's a part of, there's also piano, field recordings, and crackly treatments giving the music a lived-in, rustic, pastoral vibe.

Which makes sense, given that the whole idea behind The Angling Loser is capturing the mood of solitude out in the wilderness, nothing better to do than lounge by a small river, the futile hope of capturing rainbow trout the extent of your worries. There's even some cheeky instructional dialog towards the end of Rain For The Oblivious pointing out the inherent silliness of it all. Still, given the cover art, I must quibble that the music is almost too summery and tranquil. Ain't no way you'd hear so many chirping birds in the middle of a slushy snowfall.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Delerium - Archives, Vol. 2

Nettwerk: 2001

I know the album Poem from Delerium has its fans, but for me it was a watered-down retread of Karma. After learning that Rhys Fulber had 'left' the partnership to pursue his own Conjure One project, I figured Delerium done. Joke's on me, Leeb and Fulber reconvening and adding four more albums to the Delerium discography since. Can't blame me for such an assumption though. When retrospective compilations hit the market, it's only natural to think a group is moving on.

Thus were my thoughts with Archives, released just after Poem, and seemingly as a stamp on the Delerium saga. Archives Vol. 1 would naturally cover all of their cross-over material (three albums is usually enough to cobble together a greatest hits package), while Vol. 2 would take a surprising dive into Delerium's pre-Nettwerk era. At least, that's what I assumed, hence why I only sprung for this collection and not Vol. 1. Turns out Vol. 1 reached even further back, when Leeb's pairing with Fulber had just started Delerium as little more than a side-project to Front Line Assembly, material only the earliest followers of their music would be aware of. That's remarkably bold of Nettwerk, assuming interest in the group had grown so substantial, they could capitalize on stuff in stark contrast to radio-friendly ethno-chill tunes featuring Sarah McLachlan. Maybe Leeb curried favours from the label, resuscitating stuff from his defunct Dossier print before Cleopatra somehow claimed total ownership over it.

What's interesting about Archives Vol. 2 is it also captures Delerium in transition. It covers three albums from their discography: Spiritual Archives, Spheres and Spheres II, the former essentially capping off their dark ambient period. And boy does it show on the track Drama, creepy industrial clank and melodramatic orchestration the name of the game there. Ephemeral Passage goes for the ominous yet angelic mood music, whereas Aftermath and Awakenings sound like the Front Line Assembly downtempo b-sides Delerium was.

Spheres, meanwhile, found Leeb and Fulber moving beyond the dusty catacombs and gothic planes in search of the outer realms of their muses. For sure it's still dark ambient, but spacier, emptier; music for traversing the Stargates of the Old Ones. Look, they ain't subtle about this, one of the tracks titled Monolith, and using the air ventilation sound effects from 2001: A Space Odyssey. To say nothing of the failing life supports beeping at the end of Hypoxia. There's some interesting ideas floating about the two Spheres showcases (almost the entirety of Spheres II is included on CD2), but some tracks seem to go on and on with no clear focus. Lots of weird sci-fi sound-effects, decent trip-hop beats, some toying around with acid and Delerium's distinct ethereal synth pads. The pure ambient pieces are quite lovely though.

Still, the most interesting take with the Spheres portion of Archives Vol. 2 is “they were making this concurrently with Semantic Spaces?” Makes you wonder what their future would have held had the Nettwerk debut flopped, doesn't it.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Planetary Assault Systems - Arc Angel

Ostgut Ton: 2016

It's not that I became so enamoured with The Messenger that I just had to get Arc Angel right after. Like, surely if that album wooed me so, I'd have dug into the past of Planetary Assault Systems albums - say the more highly regarded Temporary Suspension, or even all the way back to The Drone Sector. Nay, I simply felt if I was gonna' pop my head ears-first into Luke Slater's recent music, I may as well double up my purchases, and Arc Angel was right there to greet me (also: L.B. Dub Corp ...hey, a new album from that project too? Oh, no Bandcamp option. Pity).

Still, I feared a double-LP of minimal techno would end up overkill, too much monotonous rhythms and non-existent melodies to endure. For sure I had some faith that it wouldn't be a bunch of plinky-plonk wank – 2016 is well removed from that era of dreadfully tedious 'minimal' – but even seventy-three minutes of utilitarian Berghain tools is just too much for a home-listening experience. In a dank, sweaty warehouse with lights low, booze cheap, and pills pure, yeah, let's have eight hours of the stuff!

And yet, I somehow found myself enthralled by Arc Angel for its duration. Don't get me wrong, it is a fairly one-note album, each track essentially doing the same thing throughout. Relentless, cavernous techno rhythms, deep sub-bass frequencies that you don't so much hear but feel (proper sound-system a must), and loopy, bleepy sounds serving as the hook for the worms in your ear. Slater made mention that he wanted this album to have more of a melodic focus, which seems odd for a collection of minimal techno, almost a betrayal of its ethos. Plus, these aren't exactly jingles you can hum in the shower, melody more of an abstract idea than anything conventional.

Melodic is what Arc Angel is though, after its own fashion. While I'm certain creative DJs have used some of these tracks in their sets, I don't get a sense these were strictly intended as clubbing tools. If Slater wanted to make those, he'd release them as EPs, and the smattering of records coming out in the same time frame as Arc Angel had nothing featured from here.

Ultimately, I feel Luke's goal was achieved, for no other reason than this is a solid home-listening collection of minimal techno. Absolutely it helps the 2CD outing has various ambient-drone Interlude doodles to break up any monotony, but even beyond that, I find myself lost in a hypnotic headspace more than feeling an urge to move my body (much less hit the skip button). I'd still prefer a couple explorations outside this particular strict genre exercise, but if I want to hear that from Slater, there's plenty of aliases and projects of his that do the trick. Like that new L.B. Dub Corp album, Side Effects. Surely that's on Spotify, yeah? Yeah! Mmm, dubby tech-house with none of that German haus business.

Friday, February 15, 2019

OutKast - Aquemini

LaFace Records: 1998

Like many, this was my first introduction to OutKast. Unlike many, I didn't actually hear this until well after I'd heard their follow-up album Stankonia, the first OutKast record I listened to. The logic in this admission is Aquemini had been a major hit in the little corner of Canadian hinterland I lived, the local populace quite enamoured over that Rosa Parks jam.

Upon returning to the music shop I worked at after a year away in The Big City, that snappy Aquemini cover art was there to greet me, one of the store's hottest items at the time. Interesting, thinks I, in that when I'd left the year before, it was Puff Daddy's tribute to the dead Biggy that was our hottest item. I was curious what could have supplanted that gargantuan single, but didn't throw it on before we sold through our stock, and forgot about it. Then I heard Stankonia, my head a'sploded from its awesomeness, and I remembered, oh yeah, they had that Aquemini album a couple years back too. I should check that out, if I ever find it again.

I bring all this up because context is key in how one forms an opinion on something, and because of my ass-backwards journey into OutKast's discography, my initial impressions of Aquemini wasn't so high. For sure I eventually dug what I heard, but it wasn't what I was expecting. Stankonia's wild genre fusion had me thinking the Atlantian duo were always doing such stuff, and instead I got a solid rap album with some southern soul and a smattering of dalliances outside the norm. Man, how I envy those who were listening to OutKast from the beginning, hearing Aquemini proper-like as yet another bold step forward in their musical evolution.

Honestly though, I don't have much to gripe with this album. I feel it drags a bit too long, my attention drifting after the two-parter Da Art Of Storytellin', but that was a complaint of almost ever hip-hop album in the late '90s: too much bloat. Still, it's hard denying Aquemini winds significantly down in the back-half. Prior to that, you have the aforementioned club hit Rosa Parks, the Raekwon guesting Skew It On The Bar-B (a big deal, considering few from the East Coast felt Southern rap had much legitimacy), the ultra-psychedelic titular cut, and the electro-leaning Synthesizer (George Clinton, yo'!). Damn, even without comparing to Stankonia, that's still a hot opening salvo of songs! Slump and West Savannah take things back to the easy-vibin' groove, while Da Art Of Storytellin' Parts 1 & 2 have some of the catchiest production on the whole damn album (the rappity-rap parts are pretty dope too).

What I'm trying to say is, Aquemini was a real slow burn for yours truly. It didn't mesmerize me like Stankonia did because how could it? I had to take it on its own terms, which I stubbornly did after too many years. My brain did a bad on this one.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

U-Recken - Aquatic Serenade (Original TC Review)

Dooflex: 2006

(2019 Update:
Haha, I was such a chronic back in the day, wasn't I? There I go, smoking d'at dank kush, all for the means of a review that I assumed few people would read because really, who'd care about Yet Another Full-On producer in Israel's overcrowded scene? Oh, wait, a lot of you, apparently. Uh, didn't see that coming, all the hits this review received on TranceCritic. Not to mention just how much some folks are willing to pay for this on the Discogs market. Like, I knew this was generally well regarded at the time, but didn't think it'd be a superstar launch or anything. I could hear the potential though, Yaniv's songcraft at creating psy trance with some intelligence and skill behind it. He just needed refinement, or at least an editor, someone to shake off the useless fluff he littered so many of his tracks with.

And wouldn't you know it, he seems to have taken the advice I offered here, even if he likely never read it. I checked out his latest album, 2017's
Nothing Is Sacred, and most of the things I liked about Aquatic Serenade has been retained, with none of the naff randomness I found distracting. Just simple, spacey, morning psy vibes. Almost tempted to buy a proper copy.)


IN BRIEF: A full-on olive branch to goa? Perhaps...

The genre wars in the psy scene is probably at an all-time high. The old goa guard has been moaning over full-on’s raise to supremacy for most of the 21st Century, claiming it’s destroying psy’s initial spiritual connections in favor of clubbing appeal. To the old goa guard, I say this: welcome to the world of music.

No matter how hard some may try to protect and cultivate their scenes, electronic music has a way of being heard by outsiders: separate scensters, business opportunists, even those who don’t consider EDM ‘proper’ music. When this happens, it attracts new folks, and thus new ideas. Some stick and become new sub-genres, attracting even more new folks who dig the new sound over the old. I’m sure everyone knows what this leads to, so I won’t dwell on it.

Still, even if full-on is super-popular in psy strongholds like Israel and... um...er, other places (does psy have huge followings anywhere else?), if it doesn’t try to innovate or change its formula, it will suffocate on its own bloated self-worth. As much fun as driving rhythms and catchy psychedelic hooks can be, endless copycats only dilute the scene, leaving it to collapse from excessive weight.

Yaniv Ben-Ari may realize this. As U-Recken, he seems to show interest in crafting songs using the full-on template merely as the foundation rather than to get popular with the kids.

I know the term ‘subtle full-on’ sounds like an oxymoron but that’s honestly the feeling I get from Aquatic Serenade. Despite the trappings, there’s few moments that succumb to full-on’s clichés. The tracks have mellow, flowing synth melodies that guide you between typical wiggly, squiggly bursts of acid. In fact, with such attention paid to the melodies rather than the climaxes, I’d almost be inclined to say some tracks hold elements of goa rather than full-on.

A couple by-the-book tracks aside, the main thing that helps U-Recken distinguish himself are the rhythms. Yes, there’s plenty of full-on’s characteristic ‘duggita-duggita-duggita’ bassline throughout, but it doesn’t always dominate. Some tracks even forego it altogether (Pitch Of Mind being the most apparent example). Most of the time this happens when the standard bassline begins to overstay its welcome, making the differing basslines most welcome.

As with most psy trance, Yaniv fills his tracks with many hooks and sounds; one can sometimes hold more musical ideas than half an hour of an epic trance set. This seems to be the result of his improvisational approach to the tracks, and will often keep you guessing as to where he’s taking a song. It sounds like a good idea: unexpected surprises keeps music exciting if you crave diversity. Something seems amiss though, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Fortunately, I have a handy aid which allows me to pay diligent attention to music in such emergencies like this.

Sykonee gets stoned; listens to Aquatic Serenade in such state. Eighty minutes pass...

...see, what I don’t get is why the Machines would send a Terminator back in the first place. Surely they would have realized if they had to send one back to kill Conner at all, that the T-800 failed. If he’d succeeded, there would be no Resistance to begin with. But then I suppose if they didn’t send the Terminator, the Resistance might spring up anyways. But then we’re just back to the illogical assumption sending a T-800 to the past if its mission was pre-determined to fa- Wait, what was I talking about again?

While listening to U-Recken’s debut under a THC haze, I find the biggest problem is it just doesn’t maintain its focus. A big number of tracks have wonderful little melodic or psychedelic moments (opener Lost Paradise, Tania being good examples), then are never heard from again. Various themes are often dropped after a good minute or so, and aren’t even revisited again later in the track. I don’t mind musical tangents in a song, but at least have some kind of unifying narrative, otherwise it can turn into a big mess of rando-

Wait, what was I talking about again?

I have to admit a part of me fears technology is slowly but surely taking over our humanity. I mean, just look at the most recent party trends of raving. Synthetic music; synthetic stimulants; synthetic lighting; hell, even the synthesizers are synthetic (word to laptop symphonies)! Maybe there won’t be any need for an apocalyptic war between man and machine; they’re already doing an excellent job of subverting us. Is it such a bad thing though? After all, if we as a species are ever to travel to the stars, we’re gong to have to rely on technology. Flapping our arms has proved fut-

Wait, what was I talking about again?

U-Recken can’t go eight bars without throwing in some random, superfluous sound effect or sample. It’s like, “Can’t have a moment’s breath; this is psy trance, and we gotta keep this baby chaotic!” Frankly, I tuned out most of these inconsequential fills very quickly, and primarily focused on the meat of the tracks. Of this meat, there’s some good and some bad, but de-

Wait, what was I talking about again?

Since all energy transfers from one state to another, where does the left-over energy generated by our body go when we die? I can see it slowly fading away as we get older, but what about quick deaths, like a bullet to the head? Our body is generating energy as always right up to that point (sometimes even more if adrenaline’s surging through your body), and I highly doubt a penetrating bullet sucks it all up. Is this why some people twitch after they die, as a means of releasing residual energy stored in the body? Or might it be that energy is what gives us our conscious thought, and when we die, that conscious thought moves on into other forms? Frankly, I’m too scared to find out for my-

Wait, what was I talking about again?

When U-Recken settles things down toward the latter half of Aquatic Serenade, the tracks start to show some tighter musicianship of which was lacking in the first half (opening track notwithstanding). Songs like The Other Side and Misery hold a definite themes together - even if the melodies aren’t always synced, at least the general atmosphere is. Normally, a melancholy mood is felt as we head into the final stretch of this album, which makes for an interesting contrast given full-on’s typical gung-ho approach. The self-titled downtempo closer to Aquatic Serenade is quite nice as well, ending on a gorgeous bit of singing from Slay (nope, don’t know who that is either).

Generally, Yaniv displays an interesting take with full-on. It’s a blessing and a curse though, as he creates some nice melodies and hooks but without the focus needed to make them enduring. You get the impression he has tons of smart ideas floating around in his head, and let them all out in a big burst of driving rhythms. With luck, his next offering will show more restraint. It’s already apparent in the latter half of Aquatic Serenade, so we know he has it within him.

Anyhow, time to raid the fridge.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2007. © All rights reserved.

Things I've Talked About

...txt 10 Records 16 Bit Lolita's 1963 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2 Play Records 2 Unlimited 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 20xx Update 2562 3 Loop Music 302 Acid 36 3FORCE 3six Recordings 4AD 6 x 6 Records 75 Ark 7L & Esoteric 808 State A Perfect Circle A Positive Life A-Wave A&M Records A&R Records Abandoned Communities Abasi Above and Beyond abstract Ace Trace Ace Tracks Playlists Ace Ventura acid acid house acid jazz acid techno acoustic Acroplane Recordings Adam Freeland Adham Shaikh ADNY Adrian Younge adult contemporary Advanced UFO Phantom Aegri Somnia Aes Dana Afrika Bambaataa Afro-house Afterhours Agoria Aidan Casserly Aira Mitsuki Ajana Records Ajna AK1200 Akshan album Aldrin Alex Smoke Alex Theory Alice In Chains Alien Project Alio Die Alphabet Zoo Alphaxone Altar Records Alter Ego alternative rock Alucidnation Ambelion ambient ambient dub ambient techno Ambient World Ambientium Ametsub Amon Tobin Amplexus Anabolic Frolic Andrea Parker Andrew Heath Androcell Andy C anecdotes Aniplex Anjunabeats Anodize Another Fine Day Antendex anthem house Anthony Rother Anti-Social Network Aphasia Records Aphex Twin Apócrýphos Apollo Apple Records April Records Aqua Aquarellist Aquascape Aquasky Aquila Arcade Architects Of Existence arena rock Arista Armada Armin van Buuren Arpatle Arts & Crafts ASC Ashtech Asia Asian Dub Foundation Astral Projection Astral Waves Astralwerks AstroPilot Asura Asylum Records ATCO Records Atlantic Atlantis atmospheric jungle Atomic Hooligan Atrium Carceri Attic Audion AuroraX Autechre Autistici Autumn Of Communion Avantgarde Aveparthe Avicii Axiom Axs Axtone Records Aythar B.G. The Prince Of Rap B°TONG Babygrande Balance Balanced Records Balearic ballad Banco de Gaia Bandulu battle-rap Bauri Beastie Boys Beat Buzz Records Beatbox Machinery Beats & Pieces bebop Beck Bedouin Soundclash Bedrock Records Beechwood Music Benny Benassi Benz Street US Berlin-School Beto Narme Beyond bhangra Bicep big beat Big Boi Big L Big Life Bill Hamel Bill Laswell BIlly Idol BineMusic BioMetal Biophon Records Biosphere Bipolar Music 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 Bluetech BMG Boards Of Canada Bob Dylan Bob Marley Bobina Bogdan Raczynzki Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Boney M Bong Load Records Bonzai Boogie Down Productions Booka Shade Botchit & Scarper Bows Boxed Boys Noize Boysnoize Records BPitch Control braindance Brandt Brauer Frick breakcore breaks Brian Eno Brian Wilson Brick Records Britpop Brodinski broken beat Brooklyn Music Ltd Bryan Adams BT Bubble Buffalo Springfield Bulk Recordings Burial Burned CDs Bush Busta Rhymes C.I.A. Calibre calypso Canibus Canned Resistor Capitol Records Capsula Captured Digital Carbon Based Lifeforms Carl B Carl Craig Carol C Caroline Records Carpe Sonum Records CD-Maximum Ceephax Acid Crew Celestial Dragon Records Cell Celtic Cevin Fisher Cheb i Sabbah Cheeky Records chemical breaks Chihei Hatakeyama chill out chill-out chiptune Chris Duckenfield Chris Fortier Chris Korda Chris Sheppard Chris Witoski Christmas Christopher Lawrence Chromeo Chronos Chrysalis Ciaran Byrne cinematic soundscapes Circular Cirrus Cities Last Broadcast City Of Angels CJ Stone Claptone classic house classic rock classical Claude Young Clear Label Records Cleopatra Cloud 9 Club Cutz Club Tools Cocoon Recordings Cold Spring Coldcut Coldplay coldwave Colette collagist Columbia Com.Pact Records comedy Compilation Comrie Smith Connect.Ohm conscious Control Music Cor Fijneman Corderoy Cosmic Gate Cosmic Replicant Cosmo Cocktail Cosmos Studios Cottonbelly Council Of Nine Counter Records country country rock Covert Operations Recordings Craig Padilla Crazy Horse Cream Creamfields Crockett's Theme Crosby Stills And Nash Crosstown Rebels crunk Cryo Chamber Cryobiosis Cryogenic Weekend Cube Guys Culture Beat Curb Records Curve cut'n'paste Cyan Music Cyber Productions CyberOctave Cyclic Law Cygna Cyril Secq Czarface D-Bridge D-Fuse D-Topia Entertainment Dacru Records Daddy G Daft Punk Dag Rosenqvist Damian Lazarus Damon Albarn Dan The Automator Dance 2 Trance Dance Pool dancehall Daniel Heatcliff Daniel Wanrooy Dao Da Noize dark ambient dark psy darkcore darkside darkstep darkwave Darla Records Darren McClure DAT Records Databloem David Alvarado David Bickley David Guetta David Morley DDR Dead Melodies Deadmau5 Death Grips Death Row Records Decimal Dedicated Deejay Goldfinger Deep Dish Deep Forest deep house Deeply Rooted House Deepwater Black Def Jam Recordings Del Tha Funkee Homosapien Delerium Delsin Deltron 3030 Depeche Mode Der Dritte Raum Derek Carr Detroit Devin Underwood DFA DGC diametric. Dido Dieselboy Different DigiCube Dillinja dirty house Dirty South Dirty Vegas disco Disco Gecko disco house Disco Pinata Records disco punk Discover (label) Disky Disques Dreyfus Distant System Distinct'ive Breaks Disturbance Divination 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 Soul Slinger DJ-Kicks Djen Ajakan Shean DJMag DMC DMC Records Doc Scott Dogon Dogwhistle Dooflex Dopplereffekt Dossier downtempo dowtempo Dr. Atmo Dr. Dre Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Dr. Octagon Dragon Quest dream house DreamWorks Records Drexciya drill 'n' bass Dronarivm drone Dronny Darko drum 'n' bass DrumNBassArena drunken review dub Dub Pistols dub techno Dub Trees Dubfire dubstep DuMonde Dune Dusted Dynatron E-Mantra E-Z Rollers Eardream Music Earth Earth Nation Earthling Eastcoast Eastcost EastWest Eat Static EBM Echodub Ed Rush & Optical Editions EG EDM World Weekly News Ektoplazm 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 Empire enCAPSULAte Engine Recordings Enigma Enmarta EP Epic epic trance Erased Tapes Records Eric Borgo Erik Vee Erol Alkan Escape Esoteric Reactive ethereal Etnica Etnoscope Euphoria euro dance eurotrance Eurythmics Eve Records Everlast Ewan Pearson experimental Eye Q Records F Communications Fabric Fade Records Faithless Falcon Reekon Fallen fanfic Fantastisizer 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 Firescope Five AM Fjäder Flashover Recordings Floating Points Flowers For Bodysnatchers Flowjob Fluke Flying Lotus folk footwork Force Intel Fountain Music Four Tet FPU Frank Bretschneider Frankie Bones Frankie Knuckles Fred Everything freestyle French house Front Line Assembly fsoldigital.com Fugees full-on Fun Factory funk future garage Future Sound Of London futurepop g-funk gabber Gabriel Le Mar Gaither Music Group Galaktlan Galati Gang Starr gangsta garage Gareth Davis Gas Gasoline Alley Records Gee Street Geffen Records Gel-Sol Genesis Geometry Combat Gerald Donald Get Physical Music ghetto Ghostface Killah Ghostly International glam Gliese 581C glitch Global Communication Global Underground Globular goa trance God Body Disconnect Gorillaz gospel Gost goth Grammy Awards Gravediggaz Green Day Grey Area Gridlock grime Groove Armada Groove Corporation Grooverider grunge Guru Gustaf Hidlebrand Gusto Records GZA H2O Records Haddaway Halgrath happy hardcore hard house hard rock hard techno hard trance hardcore Hardfloor hardstyle Harmless Harmonic 33 Harold Budd Harthouse Harthouse Mannheim Hawtin Hearts Of Space Hed Kandi Hefty Records Helen Marnie Hell Hercules And Love Affair Hernán Cattáneo Hi-Bias Records Hic Sunt Leones Hide And Sequence Hiero Emperium Hieroglyphics High Contrast High Note Records Higher Ground Higher Intelligence Agency hip-hop hip-house hipno Home Normal Hooj Choons Hope Records horrorcore Hospital Records Hot Chip Hotflush Recordings house Huey Lewis & The News Human Blue Hybrid Hybrid Leisureland Hymen Records Hyperdub Hypertrophy hypnotic records I Awake I-Cube i! Records I.F.O.R. I.R.S. Records Iboga Records Ice Cube Ice H2o Records ICE MC IDM Igorrr illbient Imperial Dancefloor Imploded View In Charge In Trance We Trust Incoming Incubus indie rock Industrial Infected Mushroom Infinite Guitar influence records Infonet Inner Ocean Records 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 Ishq Island Records Islands Of Light Italians Do It Better italo disco italo house Item Caligo J-pop Jack Moss Jacob Newman Jafu Jam and Spoon Jam El Mar James Blake James Horner James Murray James Zabiela Jamie Jones Jamie Myerson Jamie Principle Jamiroquai Javelin Ltd. Jay Haze Jay Tripwire Jaydee jazz jazz dance jazzdance jazzstep Jean-Michel Jarre Jefferson Airplane Jerry Goldsmith Jesper Dahlbäck Jiri.Ceiver Jive Jive Electro Jliat Jlin Joel Mull Joey Beltram John '00' Fleming John Acquaviva John Beltran John Digweed John Graham John Kelly John O'Callaghan John Oswald John Shima Johnny Cash Johnny Jewel Jonny L Jori Hulkkonen Jørn Stenzel Josh Wink Journeys By DJ™ LLC Joyful Noise Recordings Juan Atkins juke Jump Cut jump up Jumpin' & Pumpin' jungle Junior Boy's Own Junkie XL Juno Reactor Jurassic 5 Kaico Kay Wilder KDJ Ken Ishii Kenji Kawai Kenny Glasgow Keoki Keosz Kerri Chandler Kevin Braheny Kevin Yost Kevorkian Records Khooman Khruangbin Ki/oon Kid Koala Kiko Kinetic Records King Cannibal King Midas Sound King Tubby Kitaro Klang Elektronik Klaus Schulze KMFDM Koch Records Koichi Sugiyama Kolhoosi 13 Komakino Kompakt Kon Kan Kool Keith Kozo Kraftwelt Kraftwerk Krafty Kuts krautrock Kriistal Ann Krill.Minima Kris O'Neil Kriztal KRS-One Kruder and Dorfmeister Krusseldorf Kubinski KuckKuck Kurupt L.B. Dub Corp L.S.G. L'usine Lab 4 Ladytron LaFace Records Lafleche Lange Large Records Lars Leonhard Laserlight Digital LateNightTales Latin Laurent Garnier LCD Soundsystem Leama and Moor Lee 'Scratch' Perry Lee Norris Leftfield Legacy Legiac Legowelt Leon Bolier Les Disques Du Crépuscule LFO Linear Labs Lingua Lustra liquid funk Liquid Sound Design Liquid Stranger Liquid Zen Live live album LL Cool J Loco Dice Lodsb London acid crew London Classics London Elektricity London Records 90 Ltd London-Sire Records Loop Guru Loreena McKennitt Lorenzo Masotto Lorenzo Montanà Lost Language Lotek Records Loud Records Louderbach Loverboy Luaka Bop Luciano Luke Slater Lustmord M_nus M.A.N.D.Y. M.I.K.E. Madonna Magda Magik Muzik Mahiane Mali Mammoth Records Marc Simz Marcel Dettmann Marco Carola Marco V Marcus Intalex 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 Memex Menno de Jong Mercury Mesmobeat metal Method Man Metroplex Metropolis Miami Bass Miami Beach Force Miami Dub Machine Michael Brook Michael Jackson Michael Mantra 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 Mistical Mixmag Mo Wax Mo-Do MO-DU Moby Model 500 modern classical Modeselektor Moist Music Moodymann Moonshine Morgan Moss Garden Motech Motorbass Moving Shadow Mujaji Murk Murmur Mushy Records Music link Music Man Records musique concrete Mutant Sound System Mute MUX Muzik Magazine My Best Friend Mystery Tape Laboratory Mystica Tribe N-Trance Nacht Plank Nadia Ali Nas Nashville Natural Midi Nature Sounds Naughty By Nature Nebula Neil Young Neon Droid Neotropic nerdcore Nervous Records Nettwerk Neurobiotic Records New Age New Beat New Jack Swing new wave Nic Fanciulli Nick Höppner Night Time Stories Nightwind Records Nimanty Nine Inch Nails Ninja Tune Nirvana nizmusic No Mask Effect Nobuo Uematsu Nomad Nonesuch Nonplus Records Nookie Nordic Trax Norman Feller North South Northumbria Not Now Music Nothing Records Nova NovaMute NRG Ntone nu-italo nu-jazz nu-skool Nuclear Blast Entertainment Nulll Nurse With Wound NXP Oasis Octagen Offshoot Offshoot Records Ol' Dirty Bastard Olan Mill Old Europa Cafe old school rave Ole Højer Hansen Olga Musik Olien Oliver Lieb Olsen OM Records Omni Trio Omnimotion Omnisonus One Little Indian Oophoi Oosh Open Canvas Opus III orchestral Original TranceCritic review Orkidea Orla Wren Ornament Ostgut Ton Ott Ottsonic Music Ouragan Out Of The Box OutKast Outpost Records Overdream Paleowolf Pan Sonic Pantera Pantha Du Prince Paolo Mojo Parlaphone Patreon Paul Moelands Paul Oakenfold Paul van Dyk Pendulum Perfect Stranger Perfecto Perturbator Pet Shop Boys Petar Dundov Pete Namlook Pete Tong Peter Andersson Peter Benisch Peter Broderick Peter Gabriel Peter Tosh Phonothek Photek Phutureprimitive Phynn PIAS Recordings Pink Floyd Pitch Black PJ Harvey Plaid Planet Dog Planet Earth Recordings Planet Mu Planetary Assault Systems Planetary Consciousness Plastic City Plastikman Platinum Platipus Pleq Plump DJs Plunderphonic PM Dawn Poker Flat Recordings Pole Folder politics Polydor Polytel pop Popular Records Porya Hatami post-dubstep Prince Prince Paul Prins Thomas Priority Records Profondita 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 psychedelia Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia Psychomanteum Psychonavigation Psychonavigation Records Psycoholic Psykosonik Psysolation Public Enemy punk punk rock Pureuphoria Records Purl Purple Soil Push PWL International Quadrophonia Quality Quango Quantum Quinlan Road R & S Records R'n'B R&B Rabbit In The Moon Radio Slave Radioactive Radioactive Man Radiohead Raekwon ragga Rainbow Vector raison d'etre Ralph Lawson RAM Records Randal Collier-Ford Random Review Rank 1 rant Rapoon RareNoise Records Ras Command Rascalz Raster-Noton Ratatat Raum Records RCA React Red Jerry Refracted reggae remixes Renaissance Renaissance Man Rephlex Reprise Records Resist Music Restless Records RetroSynther Reverse Alignment Rhino Records Rhys Fulber Ricardo Villalobos Richard Durand Riley Reinhold Rising High Records RnB Roadrunner Records Robert Hood 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 Sakanaction Salt Tank Salted Music Salvation Music Samim sampling Sanctuary Records Sander van Doorn Sandoz Sarah McLachlan Sash Sasha Scandinavian Records Scann-Tec sci-fi Scooter Scott Grooves Scott Hardkiss Scott Stubbs Scuba Seán Quinn Seaworthy Segue Sense Sentimony Records Sequential Seraphim Rytm Setrise Seven Davis Jr. Shaded Explorations Shaded Explorer Shadow Records Sharam Shawn Francis shoegaze Si Matthews SideOneDummy Records Sidereal Signature Records SiJ Silent Season Silent Universe Silicone Soul silly gimmicks Silver Age Simian Mobile Disco Simon Berry Simon Heath Simon Posford Simon Scott Simple Records Sinden Sine Silex single Sire Records Company Six Degrees Sixeleven Records ska Skin To Skin Skua Atlantic Slaapwel Records Slam Sleep Research Facility Slinky Music Sly and Robbie Smalltown Supersound SME Visual Works Inc. Snap Sneijder Snoop Dogg soft rock Soiree Records International Solar Fields Solaris Recordings Solarstone Solieb Soliquid Solstice Music Europe Soma Quality Recordings Songbird Sony Music Entertainment soul Soul Temple Entertainment soul:r Souls Of Mischief Sound Of Ceres Soundgarden Sounds From The Ground soundtrack southern rap southern rock space ambient Space Dimension Controller Space Manoeuvres space synth Spacetime Continuum Spaghetti Recordings Spank Rock Special D speed garage Speedy J SPG Music Spicelab Spiritech spoken word Spotify Suggestions Spotted Peccary SPX Digital Squarepusher Squaresoft Stanton Warriors Star Trek Stardust Statrax Stay Up Forever Stephanie B Stephen Kroos Steve Angello Steve Lawler Steve Miller Band Steve Porter Stijn van Cauter Stone Temple Pilots Stonebridge Stormloop Stray Gators Street Fighter Stuart McLean Studio K7 Stylophonic Sub Focus Subharmonic Sublime Sublime Porte Netlabel Substance Suduaya Sun Station Sunbeam Sunday Best Recordings Supercar Superstition surf rock Sven Väth Swayzak Sweet Trip swing Switch Sylk 130 Symmetry Sync24 Synergy Synkro synth pop synth-pop synthwave System 7 Tactic Records Tall Paul Tammy Wynette Tangerine Dream Tau Ceti Taylor Tayo tech-house tech-step tech-trance Technical Itch techno technobass Technoboy Tectonic Telefon Tel Aviv Terminal Antwerp Terra Ferma Terry Lee Brown Jr Textere Oris The Angling Loser The Beach Boys The Beatles The Black Dog The Brian Jonestown Massacre The Bug The Chemical Brothers The Clash The Council The Cranberries The Crystal Method The Digital Blonde The Dust Brothers The Field The Glimmers The Green Kingdom The Grey Area The Hacker The Herbaliser The Human League The Irresistible Force The KLF The Misted Muppet The Movement The Music Cartel The Null Corporation The Oak Ridge Boys 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 Third World Tholen Thrive Records Tiefschwarz Tiësto Tiga Tiger & Woods Time Life Music Time Warp Timecode Timestalker Tipper Tobias Tocadisco Todd Terje Tom Middleton Tomita Tommy Boy Ton T.B. Tone Depth Tony Anderson Sound Orchestra Too Pure Tool Topaz Tosca Toto Touch Tourette Records Toxik Synther Traffic Entertainment Group trance Trancelucent Tranquillo Records Trans'Pact Transcend Transformers Transient Records trap Trax Records Trend Trentemøller Tresor tribal Tricky Triloka Records trip-hop Trishula Records Tristan Troum Troy Pierce TRS Records Tsuba Records Tsubasa Records Tuff Gong Tunnel Records Turbo Recordings turntablism TUU TVT Records Twisted Records Type O Negative U-God U-Recken U2 U4IC DJs Überzone Ugasanie UK acid house UK Garage UK Hard House Ultimae Ultimae Records Ultra Records Umbra Underworld Union Jack United Dairies United DJs Of America Universal Motown Universal Music Universal Republic Records UOVI Upstream Records Urban Icon Records V2 Vagrant Records Valiska Valley Of The Sun Vangelis Vap Vector Lovers Venetian Snares Venonza Records Vermont Vernon Versatile Records Verus Records Verve Records VGM Vice Records Victor Calderone Victor Entertainment Vince DiCola Vinyl Cafe Productions Virgin Virtual Vault Virus Recordings Visionquest Visions Vitalic vocal trance Vortex Wagram Music Warp Records Warren G Water Music Dance Wave Recordings Wave Records Waveform Records Wax Trax Records Way Out West WEA Wednesday Campanella Weekend Players Weekly Mini-Review Werk Discs Werkstatt Recordings WestBam White Swan Records Wichita William Orbit Willie Nelson world beat world music writing reflections Wrong Records Wu-Tang Clan Wyatt Keusch XL Recordings Yello Yes Youth Youtube YoYo Records Yul Records Zenith ZerO One Zoharum Zomby Zoo Entertainment ZTT Zyron ZYX Music µ-Ziq