And another month is come and gone, but it has definitely left us with tons of good music to listen to and discuss together.
Personally, I think this year has already been kicking ass from the beginning in terms of releases, and February has been full of surprises. Who would have predicted to have a surprise split release between Tzsuing and M.E.S.H. right at the kickoff of 2019? (I wouldn’t, and I’m an asshole who has lost enthusiasm for life in general).
Anyway, while you wait for the releases of March to come out (We’re a bit late, but it’s Berlin’s house market’s fault, for the most part), the whole Soul Feeder squad has tracked down the best records of the second half of February and wrote some nice words about them, so, why don’t you take a good listen and a read? (We both know you don’t have anything better to do with your time anyway, so, come on).
By Michele Sinatti
Architect – Breach
Label: Chow Down
Imagine to go back to 2005, sit down, turn on your old ass TV and tune it to on MTV: Black Eyed Peas, Sean Paul, Timbaland, Usher, and many other R’n’B and dancehall artists would probably pop-up over your eyes. Now imagine that a bio-weapon was used to infect and mutate those musicians while playing and you will get an accurate picture of what Architect new EP, Breach, actually sounds like.
The album’s opener, “2AM”, is a menacing, alien hip-hop instrumental jam, that hits you hard with its slow heaviness from the very beginning able to make you immediately shake with its tribal grooviness. Then “Spartan Laser” (love the Halo reference) kicks in: this track is an absolute gloomy dancehall banger. Rubbery bass, excellently programmed, bashing drums and spectral sound design makes it probably the best track of the whole EP. You hear it, you dance it (hard) and you love it.
“Telekinesis”, the last track (presented in two-different version), instead, is a dembow jam enriched by the use of Lorenzo Senni-like deconstructed trance synths, that brings the album to its end while preserving the heat generated by the previous tracks.
Dark and groovy and the same time, Breach blends hip-hop, dancehall and dembow riddims with haunting pads and venomous synth-leads, that makes it sound like post-apocalyptic 2000’s music.
By Michele Sinatti
Bambounou – Whities 21
Album: Whities 21
Jéremy Guindo, better known as Bambounou, has made his reputation through plenty of releases on 50Weapons. His music fuses house and techno dancefloor functionalism with UK-bass derived drum programming virtuosity. It is this latter approach that he seems to be pushing more at the moment; after last year’s release on Don’t DJ’s Disk, he now lands on UK hottest label, Whities, for its 21st installment.
The British label and the French producer couldn’t have been a better match, as Bambounou further develops the “heads down of the dance” side of his music, where, instead of banging hard, it “pulls everyone into the same collective consciousness”, as the Bandcamp press release goes. These tracks derive from music he previously made especially for his Freerotation 2017 set – and the Welsh Festival feels like the perfect context to enjoy the content of this release.
Whities 21 features three stripped-down tracks, apparently minimalistic on the macro level, but full of shimmering and twirling details unfolding at a deeper listening.
On “Temple” the austere drum programming is given color by gamelan percussions and background pads. It is perhaps the most club-friendly episode on the EP, and it would fit well in UK-based DJ sets. “Tour” foregrounds an obsessively repeated motive and some beeps and distortions, aiming at collective trance-induced abandonment rather than fist-pumping madness.
Finally, “Seize-sept” keeps on with the minimalistic percussion + refined sound design formula, adding more prominent leads and a looped voice which repeats “sixteen seven” throughout the second part of the track.
Bambounou manages to sound abstract and groovy at once, halfway between Pearson Sound’s icy cold skittering drums and Shackleton’s mental tribalism, in line with a certain UK attitude (i.e. the Hessle-Livity-Timedance trinity).
This music is not made to hit you hard, nor will it get you loose in a club. But give it more listens and wait until you hear one of those tracks in the right place at the right time in the right mood and the right DJ set, and it will 100% take you higher places.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
blastah – DOG EP
Album: DOG EP
There was a time, not too many years ago, when the Portuguese scene took club music by storm. Heavily influenced by Angolan music, this movement was represented by local and international producers like Branko and Dengue Dengue Dengue, reuniting around labels such as Enchufada.
While the enthusiasm for Kuduro, Cumbia and Baile-funk slowly faded away, blastah’s young career was blowing. The Lisbon born artist followed the footstep of his predecessors while taking the genre way forward, still drawing on Angolan music but also being influenced by the contemporary urban and club scene.
Dog EP is a brief but intense dive into blastah’s production. In fact, each track seems to explore a different aspect of his work. “Calor” is the piece that recalls more the previous wave of Portuguese Baile-funk, while also sounding like the perfect beat for a contemporary post-dancehall track. The second piece, “Last Wordz”, is very melancholic and romantic, and it takes as its main inspiration the Kizomba dances, highlighting once again the connection between the producer and Angolan music. “Level It”, featuring Don Sinini, is a more grime track, while “Changes” mixes blastah’s style with trap vocals from Le Makeup. After hearing this EP, it’s clear that blastah has what it takes to take Angolan-Portuguese club music in the spotlight again, and we are totally here for that.
By Carlo Casentini
bod [包家巷] – Prelude To Music For Self-Esteem
Artist: bod [包家巷]
Album: Prelude To Music For Self-Esteem
As if all the amenities that the coming of Spring is bringing along weren’t enough, Nicholas Zhu aka bod [包家巷], has decided to bless us with a new two-track EP, named Prelude To Music For Self-Esteem, which acts as an introduction to his forthcoming new album named Music For Self-Esteem, set to be released this Summer.
You may think that I’m out of my mind to associate bod’s music to the Spring-generated bliss that I’m feeling. And, yes, The Recurrence Of Infections, Zhu’s latest fatigue published last year on Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire, was definitely a haunting listening, because of the drastic changes of every switch in tempo and atmosphere. Nonetheless, the two tracks featured in this prelude, are some of the most luminous and open compositions bod [包家巷] has ever produced. “MOTHERHOOD” is a chilly yet emotional blending of traditional Chinese music and digital synthesis, that opens up with a delicate guzheng (the traditional Chinese arp) suite and a placid, minimalist synth pad in the background, and closes on an organ-like, sidereal synth concerto. “RESTITUTION”, on the other hand, is a placid yet super-layered track, featuring Zhu’s singing and field-recorded samples, that numbs the listener and then cradles him with a series of subtle glitches.
Prelude To Music For Self-Esteem creates the perfect soundscape for a moment of personal intimacy and reflection, a meditative suspension that ends leaving us wanting to discover what will come next.
By Michele Sinatti
Lila Tirando a Violeta – Sentient
Artist: Lila Tirando a Violeta
Label: New Motion
Sentient is the follow up of a huge amount of releases produced by Camila Dominguez aka Lila Tirando a Violeta. Her previous works have seen her, at first, embracing the vaporwave aesthetic influence and then experimenting a strong emotive charge based on a hypnagogic pop, psy-trance and neo-psychedelia. She’s now come full circle and her experience definitely shows. Even though we can find some reminiscences of her artistic past in tracks like “Indigold” or “Malo”, “Sentient” looks forward setting up a club-oriented mood driven by charming and powerful disruptive tribal drums. Sensual pads lead the way accompanied by the magnificent rhythmic section and together are able to build up a series of irresistible dancy and charming hits able to conquer the heart of both dancefloor maniacs and more introspective and passionate listeners.
The release is certainly a really interesting breakthrough in Lila’s artistic career and we’re all wondering how much she can push her new style following the ongoing evolution she showed in her past works.
By Giorgio Maali
Modeselektor – Who Else
Album: Who Else
Label: Monkeytown Records
Eight years have passed since the last time Berlin-based duo known as Modeselektor released new music under this moniker. 2011’s “Monkeytown” was an acclaimed album that brilliantly mixed glitch and powerful IDM and featured important collaborations (such as Radiohead’s Thom Yorke). In the following years, Moderat (their historical collaboration with Apparat) became something more demanding than a simple side a project. They deviated their sound to more catchy electro melodies, and some of their tracks quickly became planetary hits. This brought them to release two successful records and to collect sold-out gigs and festival slots worldwide. It was a remarkable ascent, which seemed to have driven the German producers away from the world of underground clubbing.
All these things considered, the return under the name of Modeselektor is itself new. But probably not even the most important one, because Who Else is gonna be one of the most talked about techno LP of the year, especially for its quality.
At the same time, calling it simply techno would be reductive. EBD, breakbeat, IDM, dancehall: a compendium of electronic styles populates the sound constructions of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szarzy.
The work also features guests so distant from the duo but at the same time so well-chosen that the result is even more eclectic: UK grime rapper Flohio’s verses perfectly lie with Modeselektor downtempo electronic in “Wealth”. “Who” instead is a frenetic and flapping track where the onomatopoeic lyrics of TOMM¥ €A$H convey a strong energy. Someone may feel surprised that every track contains a very varied range of dynamics despite their shortness (only one of them is longer than five minutes). It’s a noteworthy skill, putting sound layers on top of each other to create a massive and vigorous sound but always refined in the details. We are more than ready to dance.
By Francesco Cellino
Murlo – Dolos
Label: Coil Records
Murlo’s name has been out there for a while now and he’s already built a solid fanbase in the underground music scene. Each new release has his unique glossy touch and his signature has been a certificate of quality for more than half a decade now. Surprisingly enough Chris has never released a full-length album and his works always seemed to perfectly fit in the EP formula. Time has finally come this year though, and with “Dolos” its finally here and it delivers us a stunning 15 tracks trip summing up all of his talent.
As no surprise synths are always at the centre of his palette and for much of the time percussions are totally absent; but if you were waiting for this record as much as we were you won’t definitely mind that. All tracks work around extremely catchy melodic riffs as only Murlo is able to do and even though many of the solutions and sounds he tries on the record feel extremely familiar the whole album still sounds strikingly fresh. Voice samples here and there add extra drama to the whole thing and the final result is an extremely powerful trip made of bouncy hooks and legendary drops.
The whole record delivers a weird happy paranoia and leaves the listener with a unique sense of sweet alienation as you would get if living in a plasticky fake parallel reality. Most tracks are extremely uptempo but the softer and slower tracks are probably the backbone of the whole thing highlighting emotions and underlining the frequent changes of pace. There’s nothing much that can be said to such a talented producer that has been delivering such great material over the years except to keep on doing his thing as he is, and for those of you who have yet to hear his work this album is an excellent starting point.
By Thomas Borgogni
Neana – Renegade Lakes
Album: Renegade Lakes
Renegade Lakes by Neana is not easy to label. The sounds in the album draw on many different ideas and genres, merging as a flux of data, as the artist suggests on Bandcamp. This concept of fluidity is not only valid as a general description of the project, but it is perfectly fitting for each and every track of the album. The core of Renegade Lakes is represented by dark dancehall riddims and haunting percussions, that follow the development of the whole album. Nonetheless, harsh techno kicks and industrial-sounding synths give more depth to the project, without overtaking its nature.
Moreover, Neana plays also with the juxtaposition of different rhythms, giving a new twist to the “deconstructive” approach to club music that sounds more as a perfectly patterned “reconstruction” of the melodic and rhythmic lines. In this sense, the two most notable tracks of the album are probably “Tyco69” and “Copters”: two very different pieces, both perfectly representing the mentality behind the project (and both being strong dancefloor bangers). What is really striking of Renegade Lakes is how it embodies the spirit of contemporary club music while preserving a distinctive sound, and this is something that could really make Neana stand out in the club scene
By Carlo Casentini
Skee Mask – 808BB
Artist: Skee Mask
Label: ILIAN TAPE
If you follow the electronic music scene even just a little, you probably remember Skee Mask’s Compro, released last year under ILIAN TAPE label. The album was a dreamy, ambient and techno trip that many critics and fans put into their last year’s chart of favourite electronic records.
This month, German producer Brian Müller comes back with a new EP released with the same label. It is called 808BB and you will not find it on Spotify or any other streaming platform. ILIAN TAPE decided to distribute it only via Bandcamp and a limited edition vinyl. It is a choice that well identifies the musician’s target: the dancefloor. It is dance music, ready to be played in a club rather than comfortably heard on the sofa at home.
And in fact, the A-side “Trackheadz” is an heavy club banger, with a powerful kick and hammering drum machines. Even when vaporous pads make the atmosphere more open, these obsessive rhythms give no respites. On the B-side instead, “TH808” is a deep track, softer than the previous one but always charming. The soundscape changes a lot in its 5 minutes duration, carrying listeners to different moods almost without giving them the chance to realize what’s going on. “808AA” is also an intricate IDM track with a strong dreamy appeal.
Rhythmic patterns are the key element that makes Müller production so captivating. Formed as a drummer, he actually gives sense to the term breakbeat, literally breaking rhythmic structures that are constantly changing. This creates a strong tension in his tracks. You can perceive a great energy in them, which never actually explodes, leaving you in a state of ecstasy.
By Francesco Cellino
Taso & Siete Catorce – Grandes Éxitos Vol. 1
Artist: Taso & Siete Catorce
Album: Grandes Éxitos Vol. 1
Label: N. A. A. F. I.
If you know the producers involved in this release, chances are your thought while reading about – and listening to, of course – their collaboration quickly went from “Why the hell are these two guys collaborating?” to “why the hell haven’t they done it before?”. We are talking about Grandes éxitos vol. 1, a joint EP by Teklife member Taso and Mexican producer Siete Catorce, released by Mexico City-based N.A.A.F.I.
While the two come from different backgrounds and are affiliated with different scenes, their collaboration on this project is not completely a deviation from their respective musical paths. In fact, both Taso and Siete Catorce have kept themselves busy playing around with rhythms and crossing genres. As a member of the Teklife crew, Taso is pushing the juke/footwork sound, often leaning on hip hop tropes. Siete Catorce, on the other hand, infuses Mexican traditional rhythms with modern dance music structures and sounds. This release doesn’t sound quite like their trademark style, instead, it’s a testimony of two skilled producers experimenting (and having a lot of fun) with beats construction and deconstruction.
Here you’ll find the frenzy of footwork and the grooviness of Latin dance, yet it isn’t strictly Chicago footwork nor the average Latin-inspired bunch of club tracks. The most exciting thing is the compositional dynamic of each track. Although three out of four don’t even reach the 4 minutes mark, they show a great diversity with the beat often changing every 8 bars. This allows the tracks to be ever evolving, from the tribal percussion-focused “California sunshine”, to the latin-house-meets-UK-bass “2 for $20” with its thumping breakbeats dropping in halfway through. There are the Caribbean beats and technicolor synths of “Gotas”, which also features vocals by Lao & Adrian Be. The closing track, “Aceite”, is perhaps the best of the lot: a techno mutation filled with tension build-and-release, subtly developing like a living organism.
Mixing their specific backgrounds and flirting with house and techno, Taso and Siete Catorce here deliver an all killer no filler EP, ready to set fire to dancefloors worldwide.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
Triad God – Triad
Artist: Triad God
Label: Presto!? Records
Presto!? Records is one of the labels that really lie close to Soul Feeder’s heart, so here we are with its latest release: the long-awaited Triad by Triad God. Such as many artists we’re reviewing lately, he’s involved in a net of cultural connections (he’s Vietnamese of origins and London-based at the moment) that make it possible for him to range from one experience to another.
The whole work seems to be very meditative and reasoned. Almost every song leads you into an abyss of peace and individual tranquillity supplied by a pleasant voice having a one-way convo plus a soft non-invasive beat, as it happens in “So Pay La” or “Gway Lo”: a magical combo! But still, the feeling I got while going deeper into some other songs of this album is something like being trapped in a late 90’s trip-hop spiral, loyal to the tradition of spoken word rap – even more suggestive than the usual since the language’s not (usually) ours to know – on a freaky dreamlike beat. The song the album opens with, “Babe Don’t Go”, is exemplary in these terms. My brain processed the music the same way it does, for instance, with “Inertia Creeps” by Massive Attack. Later in the album, “BDG”, which again stands for Babe Don’t Go as the lyrics clearly suggest, works basically the same way.
Eventually, Triad is a solid work which shows the maturity of Triad God, through the risk he takes in every track and his will to do something new while paying his respect to the traditions of the genre.
By Margherita Rho
Tzusing / M.E.S.H. – Tzusing / M.E.S.H.
Artist: Tzusing / M.E.S.H.
Album: Tzusing / M.E.S.H.
Label: PAN Records
In the past few years, PAN has definitively solidified its reputation as one of the top experimental electronic music labels out there. Whether exploring more abstract fields or leaning closer to the dancefloor, PAN releases have always retained a certain leftfield attitude. It’s just not music you simply play (or hear) in clubs. It may come as a surprise, then, that the label has announced a series of five vinyl-only club-focused releases.
The first one – 300 copies, sold out in less than one day – is a four-track split by Tzusing and M.E.S.H. While the former is mostly known for his affiliation with L.I.E.S. and his personal blend of techno, industrial and EBM, the latter is PAN’s mainstay, having released killer EPs and two widely acclaimed albums with the label.
Tzusing’s tracks are an ideal follow up to his album, retaining the same sinister and claustrophobic atmosphere but leaving behind the 4×4 kick drum in favor of more broken patterns. “Circa Taipei” presents oriental-style synth melodies unfolding on sparse kicks and snares that sound like exploding bombs. Different vocals – among whom a Lil Jon-esque “hey” – are also brilliantly used as rhythmic tools. On “The whistle” Tzusing goes for a broken techno and dancehall hybrid wrapped in menacing drones, metallic and almost dissonant synths, and high pitched monstrous screams. That’s what you call a horror club tune.
On the flipside, M.E.S.H. provides mechanic reggaetón on “Atemlos”. Instead of the synthetic glacial take on dancehall of his label-mate STILL, the American producer opts for a machinic and industrial approach, the sonic palette akin to that of abrasive techno. Shattered moans and hiccups, and a minimalist bassline build a rhythmic tension that is maintained also by the last track, “Festival circuit”. M.E.S.H. winks again at industrial-tinged beats and claustrophobic sound design, although atmospheric pads bring (just a glimpse of) light and air midway through the track.
This split may not do justice to the duo’s artistry as much as their previous solo material did, but it’s going to be a certified weapon in the bags of the few DJs lucky enough to get it.
by Lorenzo Montefinese
7038634357 – Love Unbound
Album: Love Unbound
Label: Genome 6.66Mbp
If you’re a fan of the Shangai label Genome 6.66Mbp, 7038634357, moniker of the New York-based musician Neo Petal, is probably not a new name for you. Their debut on Genome, XPETAL, released at the beginning of 2018, was a stunning blending of noise, samples, glossy, trance synths and deconstructed beats, that well represented the label’s mutant sound and stylistic freedom. Their return on the label with Love Unbound, however, seems to put XPETAL partially aside and starts from where No Hate Is A Cold Star, a more ambient-oriented, self-released EP that came out on March 2018, left.
The writing of Love Unbound in fact, seems to rely much more on looping trance-y synth leads and pads, processed with subtlety as they keep looping, on which the other elements of Neo Petal’s, sound palette (such as noises and samples) emerges unexpectedly yet in order, like elements of a landscape set in motion as you press play. But rather than a natural landscape, what 7038634357 seems to have brought to life with Love Unbound, is an emotional landscape (as the title itself suggest), in which love is set free, assuming different forms, some delicate like “A Ribbon for Red Lana”, and some violent like “Bedchamber”, which haunts with its death-metal-ish screamed vocals.
An intimate and enigmatic work that, in its shortness, ask you to get back it again and again in order to go deeper in the emotive exploration 7038634357 is offering to you.
By Michele Sinatti
Artwork by Francesco Battaglia