Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Traveller - Morphology (Firescope)

Title: Traveller
Artist: Morphology
Label: Firescope
Cat Number: FS011
Genre: Electro

A1: Distant Signal
A2: Second Light
A3: Farthest Regions
B1: Hidden Variable
B2: Memory Fragments
B3: Detached
C1: Pod Bay 8
C2: Bipolar Nebula
D1: Kernel Method
D2: Deutoros

The artwork, depicting a brutalist spaceship interior, of the type pioneered by the Nostromo, (minus the darkness), ensures that the music will not be of this world. And indeed it isn’t. Which leads one to speculate whether electro will ever feel earthbound. The track titles support the theory that it won’t happen any time soon, not if Finland’s finest electronic exports, along with Aleksi Perala, have anything to do with it. Concepts come and go, but nothing beats good old space exploration, particularly when it’s handled so sensitively. This album works because it gets the balance right time and time again by playing to its strengths. It never tries to be something it isn’t. It reeks of machine funk efficiency, the beats mainly being hard hitting, pausing for thought during ’Memory Fragments’, ‘Detached’, ‘Bipolar Nebula’ and slouching to a graceful finish with ‘Deuteros’. This is a solid piece of work, whose origins can be traced back to the lack of homework in Finnish schools, and the consequent free time thereof spent practicing on analogue hardware.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

First Floor

Just before I took off for Vietnam at the beginning of last month, I became aware of a new magazine ‘First Floor’, put together by stalwart scribe Tim Gibney. Now I hadn’t been in touch with Tim for a long time, but remember him from such websites as . . . errr, one that I bought an acid house t-shirt from when my youngest son was about three. He’s eleven now. Like many friendships born online, we’ve never met, but that option is still open. In any case, I felt emboldened enough to get back in touch and was very kindly sent a mag in exchange for these few words.

It’s a labour of love. This is apparent not just because of its physical format, but in the lack of advertising. The inside cover at either end is reinforced by the presence of Deep Explorer, but this doesn’t really count, as it’s cover star Dubbyman’s label. Dubbyman looks refreshingly un deep house on the cover, more like one of the Ramones minus the speed or smack. And of course it’s the interview with him which occupies pride of place in the magazine. It’s a long and entertaining read in which Dubbyman’s words are never subordinate to the questions being asked, as it should be. There are other lengthy chats too, with, amongst others,Jonno and Tommo, Johannes Albert, Arnheim and Sensible Soccers, which ends on the not unsurprising note that “Now we don’t play sensible soccer anymore.” 

Well that had me welling up as I recalled my forays into the earl days of gaming and my encounters with Sensi. Almost as affecting though, was the use of an ‘s’ on an uncountable noun, which gives me sleepless nights just thinking about it. 

All in all though, ‘First Floor’ is a fine read and will, I hope, go from Strength to strength. It’s nice to have and to hold something. You can only convincingly sip from fine crystal while holding printed underground dance music media, so lets have the second issue pronto please. Well done everybody involved.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Nemesis EP - Simoncino (Unknown to the Unknown)

Title: Nemesis EP
Artist: Simoncino
Label: Unknown to the Unknown
Cat Number: UTTU083
Genre: Deep House

1: Slave
2: Frontline
3: Oh Baby Now
4: Nemesis

The Unknown to the Unknown production line shows no sign of shirking, so with that in mind Simoncino steps up for his second release on the label. And while it’s a competent piece of work, it does feel a little one-dimensional. ‘Slave’ is the most up tempo track here, and easily stands out because of this. The other three each navigate a mid tempo kick and embellish it with varying degrees of synth- led melancholia. Of the three, I’m the most sold on ‘Frontline’, whose cosmic credentials soar a little higher than those of ‘Oh Baby Now’ or the title track. They’re all good compositions; it just feels like they could have spread their wings a bit more.

Scammell (Jay Bliss remix) - OCH (Autoreply)

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Phoenix - Generation Next (7 Days Ent)

Title: Phoenix
Artist: Generation Next
Label: 7 Days Ent
Cat Number: 7DAYSGN1006
Genre: Deep House

A1: Sundance Kid
A2: Roseland
B1: Jungle (10.10.15)
B2: Gold Scorpion

An EP which is sophisticated, low key and confident. Both tracks on the A side grind in traction at different tempos, making use of house friction to oil their respective gears. ‘Jungle (10.10.15)’ makes use of an answerphone message which opens up to envelop the track (it doesn’t really, but sounds like it’s supposed to). Both it and ‘Roseland’ do a good job of unintentionally redefining a fuggy, funky ambience sporadically reined in by a metronomic tourniquet. ‘Gold Scorpion’ is hewn from the ten commandments of melodic Detroit techno, but lacks the peaks and troughs, as well as the depth, to make it truly memorable.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

.elliot.project.006 - Frazer Campbell (elliot.project)

Title: .elliot.project.006
Artist: Frazer Campbell 
Label: elliot.project
Cat Number: .elliot.project.006
Genre: Deep House

A1 Dream
A2 Cant Handle This
B1 Raising Snakes
B2 Raising Snakes (John Osborn Drop The Sugar Remix)
C1 Exhale
C2 Don’t Ignore Me
D1 Cooper
D2 Final Good Bye

Whether this qualifies as an album I’m not sure. For me at least it doesn’t feel like one, and there’s a remix on it. I come not to bury though, but to praise, because this is a release that doesn’t try too hard and gets it right in every respect. Of course that will very much depend on a liking for momentum building deep house with irresistible grooves and the occasional use of disembodied voices to disorientate the hopefully hopped up dancer or listener. There are a variety of levels to filter one’s consciousness through, and all of the tracks are utilitarian, while being multi-faceted. The tempo is controlled and groovy until ‘Cooper’, which descends into a beat less sunrise ambience and in spite of its simplicity is one of the most affecting tracks on this release. ‘Final Goodbye’ continues the good work while picking up the pace a smidgen. Every preceding composition hits one sort of spot or another with an accurate pebble dashing of llengthened, layered bliss which occasionally borders on the trance – like, while retaining an intricacy that can be mesmerizing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Brainfog - Steven Rutter (Firescope)

Title: Brainfog
Artist: Steven Rutter
Label: Firescope
Cat Number: FS012
Genre: Ambient/Techno

A1: Sleep Gives Freedom
A2: Statuesque
A3: Memories Of You
B1: Cracked Reality
B2: Degenerator
B3: Oracle Unleashed
C1: Squad Free Force
C2: First Degree Anguish
C3: Infinity Engine
D1: Binary Breakdown
D2: Takedown
D3: Hand In Hand

All albums are personal, but maybe this first solo effort from B12’s Steven Ruter is more heartfelt than most. Rutter’s ongoing battle with depression shapes both his life and his artistic output, some of the track titles on this release are proof of this so, I suppose an obvious question to ask may be how is his condition portrayed through his music? I imagine It’s difficult for anyone to say. However, what is clear is that it’s no bed of roses, but there are glimmers of light within the darkness. The pace of the collection picks up a little towards the end, with ‘Infinity Engine’ taking the tempo above second gear. Nevertheless, the dominant feel is intricately structured, introspective and reflective, with the deployed soundscapes maintaining a dignified distance between mind and matter.