Rob Lowe continues to impress with his boldest statement under his own name, this time for Type Records. As he shifted away from the vocal-based incantations of Lichens over the last few years, the first inklings of this sound were unearthed. On last year’s “Terre Plate” tape (Los Discos Enfantasmes), he offered up something new and enticing. But “Timon Ironk Manta” is another beast entirely. The A-Side, “M’Bondo” loops layers of minimal electronics in circular patterns until they all line-up and erupt. The rhythms are sparse and leave you wondering and the analogue modulations are considered and slow moving. These two elements set each other off, making it seem disorienting at first until everything begins to move into place. Catharsis never really erupts so much as it sneaks up on you. As everything has built perfectly, over the last few minutes of the piece you are absorbed entirely and free to take off. The flipside offers up “M’Bondo (Version),” a totally different take on the same idea. The rhythms are more pronounced here, finding a sliver between dub and tribal influence, while Lowe’s chopped & looped vocals take this to a whole different level. Heavy bass blasts and haunted echoes stem the tide acting as the last barrier to the great beyond. As a frenetic synthesizer sequence tumbles in-and-out of the mix, it adds a chilling element to the already dark and twisted proceedings. This is the new ritual. This will haunt you deep into your bones. Highly recommended. - Brad Rose, Experimedia
Operating at absolutely the peak of his powers, “Pro Style” finds Pete Swanson further developing the highly detailed, totally f**kd techno stylings that characterized his superb “Man with Potential” longplayer. The titular cut springs to life with distorted polyrhythms and truly destroyed drum programming. The “VIP Mix” of the track that follows operates in a slightly more stripped down manner, with pulsing white noise and a throbbing bass drum. “Do You Like Students?” closes the record on a note of wonder, with rising, ethereal tones coiling around barely-there rhythms. Truly beautiful stuff here. - Alex Cobb, Experimedia
Yet another essential remastered reissue from the Type label, which, frankly, has become one of the premier preservationists of releases that would otherwise likely evaporate into the digital ether (Clams Casino, Main Attrakionz, etc). Vatican Shadow is the post-Techno project of Dominick Fernow (he of Prurient/Hospital Records notoriety). Sonically, it recalls the aesthetics of UK-based imprints/acts like Blackest Ever Black and Sandwell District (in fact, Fernow will be releasing the debut full-length by a member of the lamentably-now-defunct Sandwell District, Silent Servant, sometime this year). Vatican Shadow has released a handful of highly limited, now highly collectible cassettes via Hospital and “Kneel Before Religious Icons,” along with the three-part “Washington Buries Al Qaeda Leader at Sea ” stands as the best of it. “KneelÉ” is some of the most militant Vatican Shadow material that Fernow has released thus far, with strident drum programming and buzzing synthesizers dominating the productions. Ultimately, it’s a great record that should satisfy fans of Techno and Noise alike. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia - Buy
Experimedia is now featuring original shop reviews for some of the titles we stock… as time goes on our goal is to include original reviews for most if not all of the titles we stock. More to come soon… here are some of the latest so far.
TIP TO LABELS: Get us digital promos and info as early as possible to increase the likely hood of your release receiving a review.
Will Montgomery & Robert Curgenven - Winds Measure 25
This new vinyl presents two sides of summoned sounds, field recordings and treated media by sound artists Will Montgomery and Robert Curgenven. Montgomery’s side “Heygate” transmutes the South London housing estate into an acoustic architecture at times fragile yet as imposing as the modernist concrete blocks now in the first throes of demolition. Montgomery’s composition illustrates a fading modernity, without being overtly literal or nostalgiac, in abstracted field recordings, lo-fi signals and thoroughly sanded concrete sound moving in and out of silence as brief views of an age close to us yet quickly lost.
Side B continues Curgenven’s use (and re-use) of unique dub plates and feedback as previously documented on his “Oltre” for Line. Starting with a blooming series of tones occasionally pocked with small dubplate pops, occasionally wrapped in other wisps of field recordings. Considerably more static than Montgomery’s composition, “Looking for Narratives on Small Islands” hovering sound world slowly unweaves itself, overran and interrupted by natural sound.
As to be expected from Winds Measure, this slab of white vinyl comes with elegantly crafted letterpress art designed and printed by Ben Owen. - Billy Gomberg for Experimedia
Black To Comm - Earth - Destijl
Stunning new full-length from the prolific Marc Richter, curator of the fantastic Dekorder label. Richter is a man of many hats, as evidenced by the sonically diverse yet consistently rewarding body of work he’s released under the Black to Comm moniker. “Earth” proves to be a particularly arresting listen right from the start, with the spooked “Sticksoff II,” a track that features bizarre, warbling vocals and ominous held chords that are augmented by metallic whirring and percussive tones. It’ s these bizarre, almost “John Gavanti”-esque vocals, which appear on each of the album’s tracks, that make this BtC release truly unique in Richter’s discography. A surreal and quite beautiful album. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Death And Vanilla - Self Titled - Hands In The Dark Records
With Death and Vanilla, it’s easy to get caught up in that vintage drum sound — really, that vintage sound in general. Needless to say, their self-titled debut album is dropping at just the right time, with the inevitable Library Music craze just around the corner. We also get a healthy dose of old-school pop, complete with breathy female vocals and ‘dreamy’ instrumentation (that means lots of jangly guitar and vibraphone) all seemingly etched on slowly disintegrating 8mm tape. The question becomes, what elevates this above a coarse homage to all things vintage? Indeed, Death and Vanilla might have come off as mere aesthetic window dressing, but they are luckily imbued with a composition wit and melodicism that makes the record irresistible. - Keith Rankin (of Giant Claw, Orange Milk Records, and Tiny Mixtapes) for Experimedia
Nicholas Szczepanik - We Make Life Sad - WeMe Records
New album by Chicago-based Nicholas Szczepanik following up from last year’s Streamline release, “Please Stop Loving Me.” This effort finds Szczepanik operating on a bit of a smaller scale, conceptually speaking, presenting ten song-like pieces over the course of the record’s two sides. Hovering digital synthesizer tones, processed strings and what sounds like time-stretched, fx-laden orchestral (and otherwise) samples make up much of the palette here, with Szcepanik setting his sights on concision and tonal diversity rather than the single-minded, pathos-driven bent that characterizes his previous full length. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Panabrite - Sub Aquatic Meditation - Aguirre
Beautiful new album by Norm Chambers’ Panabrite project. Once again Chambers’ knowledge and interest in library/cosmic disco imbues his own output with nuances that allow it to transcend “synth music” proper and become something bigger. Pop sensibilities and rhythms abound on “Sub Aquatic Meditation,” with Chambers’ deft hands pulling pulses and arpeggiations from his array of exotic electronics. A superb record. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Pulse Emitter - Aeons - Aguirre
Daryl Groetsch’s Pulse Emitter project must be one of the most underrated synth acts in North America, consistently putting out high-quality offerings (his Meditative Music Series still gets a lot of play around these parts- someone release this on vinyl!). He’s in fine form here, offering cycling, lush, crystal clear modular synthesizer tracks composed with the focus that we’ve come to expect from this project. “Spaceship” in particular is one of the more beautiful pieces I’ve heard from Groetsch to date. Pitch perfect stuff. - Alex Cobb for Experimedia
Ian Martin - Mechanical Rain - Further
Superlative new work by Rotterdam’s Ian Martin, “Mechanical Rain” proves to be a subtle but affecting listen. Pillow-soft drones ebb and flow as rhythmic ticks and sputters (evocative of the album’s title) coalesce all around them, coming to a head on the dizzying, beautiful “Wires.” A cold, bleak minimalism pervades throughout the album, conjuring lonely landscapes, claustrophobic spaces and sleepless nights. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Main Attrakionz - 808s & Dark Grapes II - Type
Fantastic public service release of Main Attrakionz’ genre-defining 2011 mixtape “808s & Dark Grapes II” on double LP, an album which, alongside the duo’s work with LW Hodge and Julian Wass on last year’s “Chandelier,” stands as the best they’ve laid to tape. With the striking diversity of its production credits, “808s…” in some ways functions best as a primer on the aesthetics of the MA sound, referred to by many critics as “cloud rap.” Friendzone provide hazy, ethereal and slow-moving tracks over which Squadda and Mondre’s laid-back flows sound entirely at home, while Marlee B and Giorgio MoMurda offer up lusher, more funky productions. “Take 1” features current it-rapper A$AP Rocky (it also appeared on last year’s “Live.Love.A$AP” mixtape) and showcases the epic, brooding production of Clams Casino, whose “Instrumentals” mixtape also received the vinyl treatment by Type. A terrific set and really a must-buy for anyone interested in the current state of rap music. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Belbury Poly - The Belbury Tales - Ghost Box
A quite accomplished concept album from Ghost Box co-founder Jim Jupp’s vehicle that works equally well as both homage to British prog rock of years past (think Soft Machine circa ‘70-73) and as a thoroughly immersive, enjoyable listen in its own right. The release of the “The Belbury Tales” marks the welcome arrival of the superb Ghost Box label to our domestic shores. Jupp is joined here by Jim Musgrave on drums and Christopher Budd on bass/guitar, fleshing out his unique sound (which makes use of analog synths, percussion, melodica and other instruments) perfectly. The press release notes that the album was composed by way of “taking in medievalism, the supernatural, [and] ideas about the re-invention of the past, childhood, initiation and pilgrimage (both spiritual and physical),” and the depth of intention and influence is striking throughout. Fans of the Canterbury sound/Cuneiform records and forward-thinking rock as such take note. - Alex Cobb (of Students of Decay) for Experimedia
Nicholas Szczepanik - The Truth of Transience - Isoundscore
During the final stretch of The Truth of Transience’s first side, the pervading eerie drone cools down and drops all menacing pretenses. Everything opens up, and slowly a bright, shimmering major chord invades the entire range of sound, hanging like a bird in mid-air. Needless to say, the moment is beautiful and unexpected — the exact kind of shift that sets certain ambient records apart from the flock. The Truth of Transience is Nicholas Szczepanik’s first official vinyl release and is limited to 300 copies. - Keith Rankin (of Giant Claw, Orange Milk Records, and Tiny Mixtapes) for Experimedia