SOUL FEEDING: a list-with-review of the best releases of the month, selected by our editors.
Bulma – Worldwide Destruction
Album: Worldwide Destruction
Some releases hit harder than others and there is no other way to put it. Worldwide Destruction is one of those releases. A banger after the other condensed in just under 25 minutes with no time for a break. Sharp synths and harsh metallic percussions drive the whole play and build up a super distinctive sound that works extraordinarily well with the carefully chosen guests (Kurama, Dirty K and Nahshi). The title itself makes everything extremely clear, we’re talking about Worldwide Destruction, not about cute fluffy pets or an enjoyable tea party, don’t expect to play this release on a relaxing car trip. These tracks were born to be played in a club with people sweating and demand the right setting.
Bulma is definitely one of the hottest names around right now and he seems to be exceptionally inspired at the moment, building up a solid identity made not only of extremely powerful music but also of a 360-degree aesthetic shaped by stunning merchandise, hypnotic music videos and an overall coherent and strong personality. Consistency is key nowadays and Bulma is a great example of how a young producer can draw the right attention towards him, we wish him all the best and we’re sure he’ll go a long way if he continues on this path.
By Thomas Borgogni
Burial – Claustro / State Forest
Album: Claustro / State Forest
There’s no need to make any appealing presentation for Burial. Almost two years since his latest release, he just gave out Claustro / State Forest for Hyperdub, one of the most controversial EPs of the last months. It literally dived into the big cauldron of polemics and came out half idolized and half destroyed.
“Claustro” comes out of the gloom and regains those UK / 2 step garage feelings typical of his traditional earlier production. I want you / I know you want me / You can’t hide / I see it in your eyes: the simplest words in the simplest RnB chorus to bring us back to the early 90s. The last minute in particular perfectly confirms this vision, faking the end and re-starting with some kind of baby voice samples – can’t you see, boy? – which definitely set up a situation that I depict as a neon-colored disco night in some London’s red-brick borough.
Completely different is the direction of “State Forest”. Indeed, it retrieves the somber pattern followed in his most ambient tracks. What’s intriguing about this song is the possible storytelling behind it. There’s a quite acute alternation of an anxiety-inducing intensity and an illusive tranquillity, like a run, an escape through some apocalyptic desolated place. The solemn, cold epilogue may suggest both an idyllic salvation or a catastrophic defeat.
Claustro / State Forest fully sums up Burial’s culture, but still keeping it sharply split. Harmony in terms of cohesion and continuity within the work wasn’t probably on Bevan’s mind, but the tracks in absoluto are an umpteenth proof of his atemporal skills and his high-quality mania.
By Margherita Rho
DJ Loser – Adrenalina Demonica
Artist: DJ Loser
Album: Adrenalina Demonica
Label: Magdalena’s Apathy
Released on June, 25 via Greek label Magdalena’s Apathy, Adrenalina Demonica comes as a follow-up to DJ Loser’s 2018 Industrial techno DJ Loser album. Detaching from the harsher sound which characterized his previous work, in this June 2019 Dj Loser expands his palette of sounds drawing from a more melodic universe.
This four-track EP gets off to a flying start with the title track “Adrenalina Demonica”, with glassy-eyed synth chords and hammering beats, while deep kicks get to break the seal in “Serotonina Discotek”. Violent, vivid and pounding, but still less abrasive and less in-your-face than his 2018 work, with a certain degree of openness for dancefloor thrills and hardcore party bangers.
Looking at ’90 rave culture with his own roots already growing, there is a good chance that he’ll be pursuing a new direction with his next releases.
Therefore, have a listen to spice up your summer playlists with fearless, intense, straight to the point fresh tunes to lose yourself at night.
By Andrea Alfieri
DJ Python – Derretirse
Artist: DJ Python
At this point it is no more an insider’s hidden secret, but it’s public knowledge: Brian Piñeyro, better known as DJ Python, is one of the most gifted producers out here, and releasing his latest EP on such an acclaimed label as Dekmantel is a testament to his skills. With only two previous releases (and a handful of others under various monikers, such as DJ Wey and Deejay Xanax), DJ Python has managed to create and establish an idiosyncratic sound which blends the apparently incompatible deep house and reggaeton.
He takes his formula one step further on Derretirse, putting aside the housey template and blinking at IDM. The result is an exceptional EP, more focused on ambience than Dulce Compañia, and with barely a trace of the lo-fi approach first shown in ¡Estéreo Bomba! Vol. 1. Derretirse is the bastard son of reggaeton dismantled into IDM, or of IDM dipped into reggaeton, according to your point of view. Piñeyro explicitly references conventions of these well-established genres but wisely avoids the trap of sounding unoriginal or stale. Kelman Duran might be a contemporary reference point within the realm of producers excavating the soul out of reggaeton and twisting it in slightly conceptual ways; yet, Python is at once more abstract – he’s less attached to dembow constraints than Duran – and more straightforward – his work is rooted in the dancefloor-chillout room tradition rather than in an effort to deconstruct reggaeton tropes.
Sometimes Derretirse leans on proper IDM matter, as in “Lampara” and “Espero”; both have that classic BoC mood of rarefied pastoral electronics, but avoid feeling too nostalgic. Reggaeton comes to the surface on “Timbrame”, its beat backed by background pads, sci-fi effects and stretched ethereal vocals. Drums get punchier on “Cuando” and “Be Si To”, the first with an almost house compositional structure, and the second featuring an ethereal melody that will make you wanna dance slowly on the beach at sunset. The very gem of the Ep, though, is the closer “Pq Cq”: an ongoing 90s melody, skipping drums programming, and other elements fading in and out of the mix make it the standout track.
Always gentle, never too cheesy or pumping, and carefully produced, Derretirse is DJ Python’s definitive giant leap. In between daydreaming and adventurous DJ-sets, let it grow on you during the summer.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
FVBIO – Porphyry
By Andrea Alfieri
Goro – Unbound Forever
Album: Ways of Seeing
“I know that I’m supposed to be, but I’m still becoming”. This words, pronounced in the intro of Goro’s new album Unbound Forever, constitute, together with the title of the EP, a real manifesto. The Bulgarian producer’s debut is an organic, ever-evolving piece of work, forged by countless influences and intolerant to labels and categorization.
The polymorphism of Unbound Forever becomes more and more evident during the listening. “Raw Feelin” is a romantic riddim that mixes dancehall rhythms with eastern sounding synths, while “Big Boi Tearz” is a melancholic and dark drum’n’bass track, in which Goro expresses his feelings with heavily distorted lyrics. But the eclectic soul of Unbound Forever is even more clear in “This Is A Moment In The Matrix” and “European Union”; the first track is a noisy, heavy-reverbed masterpiece, that brings to mind the most recent works from Skee Mask and older tracks from Chino Amobi. On the other side, “European Union”, probably the most successful track of the EP, is a trance-infused, gabber banger, in which eastern sounding melodies somehow manage to overpower the powerful “mittel-european” kicks. This can be one of the keys to reading Goro’s work: an alternative take on contemporary history, a way to counterbalance “westernisation with easternisation”, as the artist states in his Soundcloud bio.
In facts, the Bulgarian producer’s work comes out as strongly personal and emotional, permeated by unsolved differences and conflicts. Just as Berlin, the city where Goro used to live while producing this album, Unbound Forever is a chaotic meeting point of different cultures and sounds that seems to be conflicting and dissonant but somehow end up blending perfectly. How is this possible? Probably, as the artist appears to suggest, by focusing on becoming, creating a common culture conscious of its varied roots but not bound to them. Just like the smallest particles of the universe, that are identified by the path they travelled and by the projections of their direction, Goro seems to be too fast to be bound to the present: his music is constantly heading to the future, while always aware of its origins.
By Carlo Casentini
Konx-om-Pax – Ways of Seeing
Album: Ways of Seeing
Label: Planet Mu
You know that game of trying to guess the content of an album just looking at its cover? Well, doing so with Ways of Seeing, the latest album by Konx-om-Pax, would be tricky. You’d be right in expecting a colorful record, but you’d probably be deceived into thinking it might come in the post-Internet-ultra-HD club sound suggested by the artwork 3D inorganic matter.
Instead, what we’ve got here is an album of mainly house and techno music in their most accessible shapes. Beware: simple and accessible don’t mean shallow, uncreative and boring. It stands for music you can tune into at first listen, and enjoy without recurring to conceptual superstructures.
If I had to summarize Ways of Seeing in three adjectives, they’d surely be playful, bright, and melodic. Apart from some exceptions, such as the colourful trap-footwork hybrid “LA Melody”, the beats-oriented “Rez”, and the last three tracks, this is an album of straight 4×4 business. The press release states it is “filled with joy and sunshine, saturated with the classic feel of Berlin Techno” and “imbued with warmth and happiness, a panacea to the darkness and disorientation all around in 2019.”
This can’t be truer, as every track sparkles with catchy melodies, echoing the Berlin sound of the early-mid noughties rather than the darker, bleak techno dominant for the last ten years. In some passages, Ways of Seeing recalls the best output of labels like BPitch Control and Kompakt, or the exuberant playfulness of DJ Koze.
The joy and looseness it radiates is not merely mindless hedonism, but sounds like the attempt to fight the current dark and paranoid times with optimism (and melodies). “Säule acid” sets the tone for what comes next. “I’m for real” and “Missing something” perfectly channel that mid-2000s Berlin vibe, while “Paris 5am” and “Earthly delights” lean towards dubby texture with muffled kicks and regal strings. Together with these latter, “Optimism over despair” is the highlight here, a house hymn to optimism and relief through dance music, perfect for a warehouse party in the 90s.
A rather unexpected record from Planet Mu, Ways of Seeing will keep you good company during the summer, be it dancing in the club, chilling at home, or driving back from the seaside.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
krolik – SPARK PLUGS
Album: SPARK PLUGS
Where will you hide when the apocalypse comes? If I may choose, I’d fancy being wiped out from this planet while dancing and sweating the hell out of me to any of the tracks of this EP. After a couple of releases on the rising Milan-based multimedia collective Heel.Zone, on SPARK PLUGS krolik offers a condensed version of his sound. Comprised of four tracks and clocking at only around 12 minutes, this work is full of stimuli nonetheless.
Each track engulfs you in a merciless sonic overload, and by the time you’re about to process it, here comes the next one to assault you. The metaphor of sonic assault is quite apt, and it is a trait krolik shares with fellow Heel.Zone regular Kuthi Jinani. But while the latter seems more interested in exploring the edges of noisy and harsh breakbeat-science deconstruction, krolik’s work remains steadily pointed to the dancefloor, as insane and genetically mutated as it gets.
Just listen to the nightmarish ride through the gabber-gone-berserk of “Token for the pharaoh”, a restless track which feels like the DNA of several songs and styles crushed and mashed together. “Target lockdown VIP”, on the other hand, investigates the dark side of kuduro and reminds of the experiments on the genre recently made by Nazar. Things slow down on “Take it to the ground”, a cocktail of bleeps and chopped, autotuned vocals. It could have been a poppy hybrid; it turns out to be a devilish, creepy take on catchy tunes. He plays with the voice on the last track as well: “Under certain circumstances, VIP” features prominent chipmunk vocals backed by a beat in which hard bass and jungle collide.
If a tendency towards grim, noisy and industrial sounds is permeating certain electronic music hidden spheres, it’s been usually done with a focus on the head (and the guts, of course). With SPARK PLUGS, Krolik seems to stay slightly aside, embracing this devotion to aggressivity and abrasiveness but redirecting it to the whole body and translating it in order to fit into a hybrid clubbing environment. SPARK PLUGS is cheerful nihilism for wild machines, a collective jouissance (be)for(e) the imminent end of the world.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
Leif – Loom Dream
Album: Loom Dream
When was the last time a record fully transported you into its own world? I don’t remember exactly, but listening to Loom Dream on repeat is taking me elsewhere like few other albums did. One of the most beloved electronic music unsung hero, Leif is associated with the hippy-gone-rave Freerotation festival, and is best known for his idiosyncratic blend of ambience and off-kilter rhythms. He lands on Whities for his new (mini) album, comprised of six botanically-inspired tracks pressed on vinyl as two continuous suites.
This an on-spot choice, for as much as we can tell subtle changes and differences between each track, Loom Dream fully reveals its lush synesthetic potential only if experienced as a whole. It gently takes you into its soundscapes of bucolic psychedelia, where meandering rhythms become abstract entities and ‘ambient’ comes alive and physical, mostly thanks to naturalistic field recordings underpinning each track. Here more than in any of his previous records, Leif hints at ambient, IDM and fourth world but Loom Dream is neither of them, at least not in an orthodox way.
The nature theme is explicitly addressed in the release notes, although this music doesn’t need words to transport the listener in a parallel sonic landscape. Every single sound is tangible and evokes images of nature. It’s not so much about the awe of the sublime, but rather about the warm, inner calm brought by immersing oneself in the surroundings, and the awareness of the hidden beauty in everyday trivial events. It’s the sound of idle walks in grass fields, of lying in a meadow with your lover, smoking a joint with your friends or daydreaming by yourself. Picnics near the lake, watching the sunrise on an empty beach, feeling relieved from routine worries and in harmony with the world.
Throughout its 34 minutes, Loom Dream features perpetually gurgling tribal rhythms, pastoral and vaguely orientalist melodies, interwoven with warm pads and bucolic field recordings. Even at their most syncopated or pronounced, the percussions don’t oppose the ambiance; they’re part of it.
It’s a very immediate record, yet it glitters with micro details which reveals themselves listening after listening. Like an eco-friendly fortress built with thin, graceful layers of sounds, Loom Dream radiates sheer beauty, polished and polite. And it confirms Leif’s renowned mastery in building sonic worlds.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
Sebastien Forrester – Salvo
Artist: Sebastien Forrester
With the new EP Salvo, Sebastien Forrester confirms us that we are witnessing his rise in the underground club music. The most laudable fact about this artistic development is its speed. In fact, only one year ago, in February 2018, the French-British producer released on Nowadays Brontide, his very first album, fruit of three years of work, concerts and collaborations of all kinds. Then Sebastien Forrester pushed his research for modern club music further with the EP Waylay last October followed, on June 14, by the sequel: Salvo.
Salvo is an EP with a dualistic soul. At the same time, in these five tracks, there is a an extremely analytic description of the outside (i guess Paris in this case) and a strong introspective point of view. While listening to this work, it feels like being Sebastien himself with his headphones on looking at the Paris’ skyline, or clubbing around his city. The ability of Forrester as a producer, in this work, is to manipulate his sound in order to create a bond of empathy with the listener. Interviews and press kits are useless in this case. All the Sebastien’s emotions such anger or doubt are crystal clear, and flows throughout the music directly into a dance with the listener emotions. No explanation is needed.
For this reason, despite the harsh and masculine sound, Salvo is permeated by a delicate and feminine nature, well represented by the acid-green orchid on the cover. Here again a dualism, the gentleness of a flower and the violence of its color. It’s like Sebastien wants to point out how the most intimate and vulnerable parts of our ego are constantly mingled with their opposites, Never in music such hard percussions are, at the same time, such soft caresses as in the track Muted.
Exaggerating until the absurd we can ironically say that with this EP we are in front of the birth or something that could be a new electronic music sub-genre: the condensilim. The title-track Salvo could be the manifesto of this new genere, incarnating the quintessence of the style of its founder: condensing all the human emotions and schizophrenic dualism is some music that has echoes of minimalism.
By Andrea Predieri
V/A – Outro Tempo II. Electronic and contemporary music from Brazil 1984-1996
Album: Outro Tempo II. Electronic and contemporary music from Brazil 1984-1996
Label: Music from Memory
We are so used to the word ‘compilation’, that we may easily overlook what a compilation is first and foremost. The word itself evokes the image of one or more compiler(s) caught in the act of compiling, that is carefully choosing the right pieces to fit into the puzzle-compilation. It’s a matter of choice, taste, and often bravery. All three elements can be found in Outro Tempo II. Electronic and contemporary music from Brazil 1984-1996, which follows the successful first volume, released in 2017 by the always-top-notch Music from Memory.
The 20 tracks presented here offer a portrait of Brazilian music that will be at odds with the idea of it we are mostly accustomed to. Yes, there are palpable influences of bossa nova, samba and musica popular brasileira; but they are rerouted towards an interconnected and contaminated musical landscape. A landscape where traditional music meets pop, and together they are blended with avant-gardist and experimental spirit. It somehow maintains a local flavor, but shows how experimenting within pop realm is a universally spoken language. Indeed, the music in Outro Tempo II is infused with the same irreverence and openness to the unexpected typical of New York’s no wave and experimental scene of the 80s. In the detailed sleeve notes, compiler John Gomez writes that Sao Paulo was a vibrant city and the epicenter of experimental Brazilian music during that same period, gathering a fiercely DIY scene.
This music has to do with politics as well: 1985 marked the end of a dictatorship which, in previous years, was nurturing the countercultural and oppositional climate represented by Brazilian most famous singers of the 60s and 70s. Having no dictatorship to rebel against, young middle-class musicians went looking for new sonic templates to update and expand the very concept of Brazilian popular music.
Some found inspiration in nature, many looked to the exciting stimuli offered by the city. The result is a vibrant community, mainly based in Sao Paulo, which gave birth to a mix of cosmic new age, weird synth pop, percussive minimalism, no wave, electronic beats and spoken word, all in constant dialogue with Brazilian heritage.
It’s not a coincidence that MTV arrived in Brazil in 1990, exposing the youth to the new global sound of pop heavily infected by the electronic virus, and feeding their imagination. This is the sound of people challenging widely accepted notion of Brazilian (musical) identity and re-inventing their popular music.
In a historical moment witnessing the resurgence of discourses on national identities and integrity, Outro Tempo II is the perfect reminder of how teasing and crossing boundaries is often for the best.
by Lorenzo Montefinese
Yoong – Into Character
Album: Into Character
Label: Genome 6.66 Mbp
If you’re into extremely soothing and charming melodies you’re going to love Yoong’s latest release. A slightly over 15 minutes long, laid back, elegant and graceful EP released on Genome 6.66Mbp, a label that in just a bunch of years has been able to gain great attention thanks to the incredible number of fantastic releases under its name. Into Character adds up to the great collection of the Chinese label and shines through no particular hit song, delivering instead a solid and dense EP that is so coherent and breathtaking it could almost consist of one unique continuous track.
All melodies sound extremely soft, delayed and graceful, driven by dreamy, watered-down synths able to depict fascinating romantic scenarios. Everything is held together by amazingly minimalistic percussion sections giving all tunes the chance to breathe and evolve freely, instead of being caged by tight beats. The vibe of the entire release is extraordinarily ambiguous going from joyful to nostalgic, to melancholic, to contemplative, to romantic, leaving a strikingly unique impression on the listener. All tracks flow so perfectly on this EP its so hard to avoid putting it on heavy rotation, only to realize later you’ve been through it more than a dozen of times in just one day. Clap clap to Yoong.
By Thomas Borgogni
Artwork by Francesco Battaglia