Reviews

Nobody Knows

A seven year break between full length studio albums has left Joris Voorn fans, myself included, hungry for new material.  Because Joris is such a quintessential figure across the deeper shades of electronic music, it was difficult to predict some centerpiece sound in his latest project.  That being said, I began listening to Nobody Knows with an open mind for anything.  What I found was a breathtaking marriage of electronica and instrumentation — full review after the jump.

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With a brand new home at Pomona’s sprawling Fairplex venue, Gary Richards and the rest of the HARD crew were primed and ready to blow minds this Halloween weekend.  With a handful of dance music events clouding the festival-goers view, they were sure to enlist a remarkable lineup.  Names such as ZHUDiplo, a B2B from Eric Prydz and Deadmau5, and nearly the entire Dirtybird label drew in massive crowds each day, and yet again proved why HARD lies atop the festival totem.

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No doubt names like Huxley and AUS Music have been tastemakers and champions of the UK house/garage scene since their origins, and in 2014 the two venture into new territory in the full-length album Blurred, an LP release that is a first for both the producer and label. While Aus carries the likes of house kids Dusky, Midland, and Bicep in their roster along with more garage oriented names like Appleblim and Joy Orbison – likewise Huxley trips the line between house and garage with a label family that includes Hypercolour, Tsuba, and 2020 Vision. Although Huxley is known to have recently put a stronger focus into his house orients – a strong prominence of low-end basslines in his tunes still lends itself strongly to garage, dubstep, and breakbeat influences. Blurred, for its namesake, traverses across all of these, extending even further to tiptoe into drum & bass and even pop.

The album starts with “I Want You” which reminds me strongly of a record I can’t remember the name of (though my mind keeps telling me Bonobo… but my body, my bodyyyyy.. nevermind). This is perhaps an influence towards me enjoying the track as much as I do, but the muted and melancholic track glows with undulating charm. “Barne Dance” goes full garage, shuffled drums and pitched vocals dancing carefully with a skipping, pulsating bassline. The album then goes into it’s first female vocal feature, a track called “Give 2 U”, featuring FEMME.

It’s here where Huxley’s affinity towards radio-friendly house shows up, and for me a bit underdressed. This continues to be an issue for me in the other vocal tracks, “Road Runner” and “Say My Name,” both of which fall flat on straddling the line between deep house and catchy pop – a line that has seen itself at the top of UK charts several times this year. The tracks are good, well-made, and the vocalists noticeably not without talent. But amongst the throngs of bassline-house vocal-hook tracks that dominate UK radio and charts, I find it difficult to walk away humming any of the hooks. Highly commendable, however, are Huxley’s efforts in tracks perhaps less radio-formatted, like the D&B stunner “MXR”, the grower-not-a-shower “Reassign” and his clubby collaboration with S-Man (aka Roger Sanchez) on “Callin”. It’s actually the tracks with unfeatured vocals that steal the show for me, “I Want You” and “Never Easy” which respectively start and finish the album with glistening plaintiveness. Tracks like “Reassign”, “Cakewalk” and “Wayfarer” click and build into a throbbing wash, exactly what songs like these should do in their moments.

Blurred is a pleasant listen (I actually am on my fourth go-around as I write this), with tracks that are able to cross from a massive club system to your shit laptop speakers without an overwhelming loss of listenability. I applaud Huxley’s efforts in, yes, blurring lines between the club and radio, between genres like breakbeat and house, and for the most part he pulls it off. But where I can remember and give props to someone like Katy Perry for a hook like “You’re gonna hear me roar,” the hook of “I ain’t your road runner, babe” sits uneasily on top of a solid track and falls short of an infectious sing along. A solid first album effort from the English producer, a clear showcasing of his variable talents from a soundscape perspective and bonafide conciseness in skillful music production. Looking forward to seeing him stateside this week and for whatever’s next from the workhorse producer as well as the always enjoyable AUS music label.

 

Buy BLURRED on iTunes

Buy BLURRED on Beatport

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Xinobi, for me, was/is the master of synthesized sounds strung together in unusual and masterful fashions. No two songs really ever sound the same with him, a testament to his creative will at work. All of the above come together in full force for his first ever full length LP, 1975, with one added element: a bit of live instrumentation. Prolific guitar strums, punchy drum kits, and wandering vocals, fused with the familiar warps and wonks that make Xinobi the master of other worldly vibes, make this one of my stand out LP’s of the year. Personal standouts for me were “1975″ and it’s vivacious guitar vibes, “Radio Radio” and it’s electronic arpeggio explosions, and “People” for it’s sonic oddities that stay true to the Xinobi way. A lot of western vibes emanate from this project as well as a bit of MGMT peeking in and out of hooks. It’s weird and wonderful and a major accomplishment for the Portuguese producer.. stream after the jump! Continue Reading

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Full disclosure: Simian Mobile Disco might be my favorite band.  Who can really ever say?

I can say, however, that their live show included moments of sheer elation matched by dizzying confusion.  How these two I’ve seen and heard so many times could produce an array of sounds so diverse and surprising is beyond my humble ears.  And I’ve heard some things in my day.  We were recently treated to the full-spectrum experience one night in Los Angeles: electronic soundscape meets very respectful krautrock turns all-out, churning analog techno filth.

I can also say that you, dear reader, owe it to yourself to go listen to their album and go see their live show, and I don’t say that about many acts.  We can begin, for now, by reading more…

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Cassian has all the bases covered in the latest exclusive playlist to drop on the Boomrat platform where he divulges his diverse taste in the music scene. It might come as no surprise that it’s jam packed with a bunch of Auzzie’s, but if any group of people were to be experts on the art of kickin back and going the distance, it’s the dawgs from down under. With tunes from Jessie Ware, RUFUS, Touch Sensitive, and the Bag Raiders, this ain’t one to sleep on!

Stream HERE:

Syro

I have been an Aphex Twin fan for fifteen years. I was fifteen when I first heard ‘Come to Daddy,’ and it was my gateway drug into electronic music. It was him that inspired me to dive into the world that I now immerse myself in everyday as a composer and as a listener. His work has played a vital role in my musical education and formation.

I attended the preview Syro album listening event at Verboten in NYC Saturday afternoon and these are my thoughts.

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Jungle

It’s easy to get excited about a band like Jungle. Their sound is unlike anything else available at the moment, and that’s not to say it doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard before. Their combination of tones and rhythms, though, makes this album an unusual auditory experience, and that’s something I can respect. It’s the funk and soul of our parents time, with their darkened chord progressions and soaring psychedelic vocals initiating their sound into the 21st century. At their core, they’re a collective, a troupe of funkadelic comrades led by members J & T, united by their groovy soundscapes. Continue Reading

It’s a bold move to release an album that was self-described as “cold, bleak, glacial” just after the summer solstice, but it appears as though Anticon co-founder Alias has done just that. Three years post-Fever Dream has put Alias in an almost inescapably frigid place, sonically. His new album Pitch Black Prism is unrelentingly ominous, its barren urgency takes shape in sharp, crystalline form. Truly a metaphorically glacial album – iced, structured, oddly beautiful, and with much to be seen under the surface. If you’re a Boards of Canada / Aphex Twin fan… you’re probably gonna like this one.

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Always Never label head Le Castle Vania is firing up the label (cheesy pun well intended) with his latest EP, Feels Like Fire. In it, Le Castle Vania continues to explore re-evaluations of his old records, as well as showing off more collaborations and vocalists from artists we’ve seen him work with in the past. It’s clear Le Castle Vania puts a lot of time into his tracks… the finesse in his technique is noticeable with the structure and engineering of every track on the release. The EP is noticeably less dark and aggressive than his previous work on mau5trap, the signature is all still there but Feels Like Fire makes more of an adult, emotional statement.

The EP begins with “Nobody Gets Out Alive Part II” – where Le Castle Vania revisits one of his older hits (previously with “Through A Keyhold Part II”). New synths, melodies and breakdowns on the track see Part II with an even clearer focus and an amplification of energy and aesthetic. “Come Together” is the second track and lead single for the EP, instantly enticing you with a haunting yet simple synth line. The track then tunnels into a high-speed adventure with a jumpy and pitched drop. At this point in the EP (and in general) it’s quite clear that Le Castle Vania sonically lives in a super-future universe, it’s TRON with all of the bad-assery and none of the cheese. The third track, “Moving In Time” sees Le Castle Vania collaborating with longtime friend and fellow producer MUST DIE – it’s a thrill ride of saw synths and gut punches colorfully strung along by hollowed piano melodies. Then we see another friend and fellow Always Never associate Crywolf on “Part Of Me” – Crywolf making a prominent appearance here with his signature and poignant piano work. The closer track, “Driving Away” is very appropriately titled, as the mood of the track fits perfectly with the movie Drive‘s theme.

All in all, Le Castle Vania continues to show he has not strayed far from his original sound, but instead progressed to his best form yet within it. These are pieces of work that are intricately and carefully made – every sound and layer tweaked and adjusted to peak form. He’s a master of his craft – and it’s nice to see an artist dust off a major track from their catalog and shed the dead weight off it and polish it to a nice sheen.

BUY THE EP HERE