SOUL FEEDING: a list-with-review of the best releases of the month, selected by our editors.
Cryfelt – Kitana Album Review
Label: Ghost City Collective
Cryfelt is out for Ghost City Collective with Kitana, a markedly ambient five-song EP that diverges a lil’ bit from the attitude of other previous releases of the same label, like Accotica’s or Julinko’s.
Essentially, the EP is quite slow, moderate. The tracks all work in the same manner, the ethereal basis of sound given by the delicate playing of the pad allows them to be a relaxing and serene listening. There should be made an exception for “Grayce”, second to last, which posses a more atmospheric jungle nature.
What’s worth about it is the fact that it easily manages to get out of the banal definition of ambient music thanks to clever expedients and moves, such as a general lo-fi glaze or a sudden use of micro-percussions, glitching and disquieting noises. It is right here that you can feel its half hidden dynamism. The result is that a kind of melancholic cinematographic sound, maybe a bit 90s, comes out, giving character to a definitive dark, unsettling and almost creepy atmosphere.
By Margherita Rho
Demdike Stare – Passion Album Review
Artist: Demdike Stare
Label: Modern Love
I have to admit that when Wonderland came out in 2016, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the new, jungly, dancefloor-oriented sound the Manchester duo known as Demdike Stare had developed. Don’t get me wrong though, the record was indeed good and full of great tracks like “Hardnoise” and “Sourcer”. However, I couldn’t help but feeling something was missing and I wasn’t able to figure it out until I listened to Passion, their latest fatigue. It was the abrasiveness, the rarefaction of every sound, which creates a granular mist both weightless and ear-piercing.
Some may argue that this feature was already present in previous works such as Voices Of Dust, Elemental and the first issue of the Test Pressing series, and it is undeniably true, nonetheless, it assumes a completely different value when it comes to Passion.
The new record, in fact, aims to sonically narrate the history of contemporary UK music (of which Manchester has been the main stage for years), going freely from post-punk and new-wave to acid house, dubstep and ragga jungle, and the abrasiveness become a specific method to portray the past in a more evocative way.
From the mind-blowing drum section to the bass, the synth lead, and the sampled voices, everything gets processed and turn into a ghostly version of its former self, giving the listener the impression of wandering in a haunted venue, in which the phantoms of three decades of music appears and disappears at will of the British duo.
This peculiar approach, which, to me, seems strictly related to the experience Demdike Stare had with Il Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, makes Passion a personal, hear-felt work, that, despite its constant reference to sub-cultures of the past that have been largely exploited in recent years, feels unprecedented and signs a further step in the evolution of the Modern Love’s duo.
By Michele Sinatti
Dinamarca – Emotional Dance Music Album Review
Album: Emotional Dance Music
Seems like centuries have passed since the release of Holy and all the deserved attention Dinamarca gained after the release of such a great EP. His drums sounded so fresh and his synths felt harsh and soft at the same time blinking the eye to trance and rave culture.
Emotional Dance Music is his third follow up and we’ve never been quite as far from the standard we’ve always expected from him. The record is only twenty minutes long with just 6 tracks and it was easy to expect a dense, powerful release but all of this is missing.
It’s hard to find any fil rouge to the entire EP and each track seems to tell a story of its own. There are good vibes, beats and interesting solutions but all of them seem to be just recycled from old projects and tracks. If you love what you’ve always enjoyed by Dinamarca you’ll going to enjoy this release too but don’t expect any revolution in his sound.
We’ve much preferred his previous release Sol De Mi Vida which presented many more convincing beats and compelling fluffy tunes. This said, the record is still fresh and fun and tracks like “Solo” are indeed enjoyable and able to give you a glimpse of what this dude is able to do when he wants you to feel the summer beats up your spine. So don’t just throw it away, you might end up loving it more than we do.
By Thomas Borgogni
Eli Keslzer – Stadium Album Review
Artist: Eli Keszler
Label: Shelter Press
Eli Keszler is recognized as one of the most brilliant and appreciated avant-garde jazz musicians – and more. With a past split between hardcore underground bands and the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, this talented drummer has collaborated with an incredible variety of worldwide famous artists in the past ten years, from Oren Ambarch to Laurel Halo, from the Iceland Symphony Orchestra until the last performances with Oneohtrix Point Never. He is also a well-known sound artist whose installations have been displayed by important museums and galleries such as the Victoria & Albert Museum.
What unites his works is his particular style, a sort of percussionist pointillism made of microsounds that follow each other creating extremely thick polyrhythmic textures. The surprising thing is that this can be expressive whatever the source of sound is: analog or digital, played live or programmed with machines, a simple drum kit or gigantic installations with wires mounted on the Manhattan bridge.
You can listen to this crossover in Stadium, his new album released by Felicia Atkinson‘s Shelter Press: there are plates and drums perfectly blended with long notes of mellotron or analog synth loops. This record has a cinematic flavor, inspired by a personal story of Keszler: his recent move from South Brooklyn to Manhattan. All the tracks evoke Manhattan’s fascinating atmospheres and frenzy.
This Keszler’s album is probably the closest to the more traditional genre of free jazz, and at first listen it almost makes you feel like you’re in a New York club of the ’50s. It is in its own way relaxing and charming, but it does not waive to intrigue and involve you with a myriad of indistinguishable sounds and continuous stimuli. Nothing more apt for the heart of the Big Apple.
By Francesco Cellino
Famous Eno – Music For Clubs Album Review
Artist: Famous Eno
Album: Music For Clubs
Label: Swing Thing
At his first EP release, the prolific London based DJ and producer known as Famous Eno seems to know what he is doing very well. Music For Clubs is a kaleidoscope of genres and sounds with a strong common denominator: paying respect to the classics while trying to move on from them.
The six songs of the album take the listener down the history of club music, starting from the ravey atmosphere of “Make It Clap”, and passing from UK Bass in “Longtime” (featuring grime legend Killa P) and dancehall in “Gal a Bubble”.
The second part of the EP seems to move more into an experimental direction: Ranting is a fast and deconstructed jungle and afro house track, “Money Collector” mixes old-school MCing with a modern tribal beat and “Life”, as one would expect from the collaboration with Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones, perfectly respects the canon destruction of contemporary dancehall.
In its entirety, Music For Clubs is exactly what its name suggests: a collection of six dancefloor bangers, projected into the future but loyal to its roots.
By Carlo Casentini
Guenter Råler – Mobile Energy Album Review
Artist: Guenter Råler
Album: Mobile Energy
Label: Bene Tleilax
Irene Cassarini aka Guenter Råler is an Italian musician, sound designer, audiovisual artist, and cyberfeminist activist. After a few releases, compilation appearances, podcasts, and A/V shows, her artistic vision is incredibly mature and consistent.
Mobile Energy is her brand-new EP, out via Bene Tleilax. Throughout four tracks, Guenter Råler gently lets us dive into a mutant, ectoplasmic sonic landscape where no boundaries are set, and opposites interplay creating something new. You will find as much trance-y high pitched synths as hibernated rave euphoria, weightless penchant for post-digital disassembled bodies flirting with the furious heaviness of sporadic kickdrums, shattered scraps of human voices scratching the surface and then submerged in the midst of hypersaturated soundscapes.
“Xenon” is a symphony of beeps and pads, occasional violent kicks, noises of objects clashing, feral voices and almost-emo lead synths; “Devotion” is all about menacing sounds and whispered words and sighs in UK weightless grime tradition, until percussions break in after the third minute, morphing the track into a mutant R&B beat; “Resistere” starts with airy textures upon which mellow melodies and beats in early-Tri-angle style set the mood for cyber romanticism; “Energy” is the conclusive cathartic rite for the EP: a constant sustain and release of tension whose sharp synths and fluctuating sonic elements intertwine with punchy muffled kicks. Every time the kicks are back in the mix, it’s a life-affirming orgy of percussion perpetuated throughout the ten minutes of this epic piece of music.
Mobile energy perfectly captures the present zeitgeist, and boldly proposes a scenario where the apocalyptic atmospheres we’re getting used to in contemporary electronic music are swept away by (pro)positive (resi)stance aiming at collective emancipation and human-machine fruitful interaction.
Perhaps it’s on the EP cover that we find an effective summary of the music it contains and the moods it evokes: “Permanent movement. Passing limitations. Extended vulnerability. Primary reactions”.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
How To Dress Well – The Anteroom Album Review
Artist: How To Dress Well
Album: The Anteroom
About 4 years ago I went to a How To Dress Well gig at a big international festival. It was one of the first afternoon slots, and the rest of the line up was much less experimental and more appealing to the general public. I was surprised to see so many people, probably intrigued by the long and unusual name, approach the stage and stop to listen.
That experience helped me to better realize the pop strength of this artist: his music is unconventional and innovative, but at the same time it sounds familiar at the first listen. Check out his new album, “The Anteroom”: “Nothing” could be a new wave success by Depeche Mode, while “Nonkilling 6 | Hunger” could be an extremely danceable Disclosure track and “Body Fat” is a touching and catchy ballad. What separates Tom Krell from radio airplay is disturbing noises, ambient textures and moments of pure deconstructed club music. It is something hybrid but nevertheless coherent: it’s like listening to an eclectic DJ set which goes on without losing energy and carried away by music you don’t notice where one track ends and another begins.
Reflecting a dark period in the artist’s life, a brutal sense of tragic pervades all “The Anteroom”’s lyrics: it is all about pain and death without any perspective of religious redemption (“There’s no goal, there’s no God”, he sings), furthermore Krell uses the concreteness of images to materialize immaterial feelings (“Body fat” reference to alchemy is emblematic in this sense). Cultured and profound, he hires contemporary poets Ocean Vuong and Li-Young Lee and quotes Mallarmé. His music, so changing and varied, is the perfect mirror for these feelings, like an X-ray of his mind, a materialization of his moods. “After all, the head is just a skull”.
By Francesco Cellino
LYZZA – IMPOSTER Album Review
Dressed up as a fighter, LYZZA is now ready to arise herself in a society in which she’s not able to find her own space. If Powerplay, her latest work, was intended to be settled in a club environment in which vocals and production worked together to stress rhythms and melodies, IMPOSTER comes in a completely different mood and structure. The stress is now on the vocals and their meanings, with which she reveals her anxieties and struggles.
LYZZA’s intents are clearly showed in the track “Sleeve”, where she expresses a different level of production and singing. For the first time in her works, the production is dragged at a new minimal level where shy fast kicks, a piano, and a cutting-edge synth leave the first floor to a powerful and acute voice which make instantly feel her pain and desire to react.
In “Fraud” she returns to her clubbing roots with an alienating gabber track, in which an anxious and dark synth reflects a disturbing environment instead of the clubbing one described by the dancey fast kicks.
IMPOSTER is not just a fight between LYZZA and society but also an internal one between instincts: the desire to express her internal struggle in the most melancholic way and her natural pulse to set her music on a dance floor, where usually people only care about rhythms and sounds, far from their emotional and life problems.
By Giorgio Maali
Machine Girl – The Ugly Art Album Review
Artist: Machine Girl
Album: The Ugly Art
Label: Kitty On Fire Records
If there is one product that has rightfully survived the end of the DIY digital revolution started by vaporwave, due to the rising of the famous/infamous “Lo-fi Beats To Study/Relax” genre, is definitely Machine Girl‘s debut album (and the rest of his discography too), WLFGRL, which, alongside Death Grips’ early works and mixtapes, is a true digital hardcore milestone, made by a talented artist with a wonderfully f*cked-up imaginary.
The two follow-ups to WLFGRL, Gemini and …BECAUSE I’M YOUNG ARROGANT AND HATE EVERYTHING YOU STAND FOR, despite being really good and giving space to different sounds and ideas, didn’t blow my mind as their predecessor.
After that, their latest full-length, The Ugly Art, came out a couple of weeks ago and, and to put it in simple words: it’s a motherf*ing bomb! You can’t just stand still while listening to it, your body will inevitably move. The drums section is absolutely mental, and it’s made using real drums, which makes it even crazier, considering the complexity of the patterns and the speed at which they are played, and reinforce the (organic) punk hardcore vibes of this work. As for the sharp-as knives and-heavily detuned synthesizers, they are very percussive as well, the only exception being the many interludes, in which they carry on a more melodic role and evoke the mellow-y atmosphere of Gemini, showing how every element of the sound palette Machine Girl has developed throughout the years found its place in this new work.
The vocals, both sampled and performed, also make a great comeback in The Ugly Arts, being present in almost every single track, and contributes to give the album a bodily feeling, thanks to the constant fight they engage with the drums in terms of volume and intensity. On the other hand, the lyrics, which are very difficult to understand due to the frenetic diction and the raw-processing, explore different thematics, from sexuality to politics, drugs, and paranoia, in a frenzied exchange between a crude, manifesto-like declaration and a stream of consciousness on drugs.
The Ugly Art is a work both vicious and visceral and, with its mature combination of acoustic and digital means, its imaginary and contents might be the first real cyber-punk (hardcore) album to date.
By Michele Sinatti
Sega Bodega – self*care Album Review
Artist: Sega Bodega
If there’s a young label that has captured the attention of many of us in the past year, that is definitely NUXXE. With a catalog that counts only five releases and a distinctive sound that sapiently mixes industrial, grime, rap, trap, pop and club music, this restricted group of talented young artists, namely Sega Bodega, coucou chloe, Oklou, and Shygirl, has conquered its righteous spot on the underground electronic music scene.
self*care, Sega Bodega’s latest work, is yet another proof of the novelty of the London-based label and a sort of epitome in terms of sound.
The six tracks of the EP, in fact, carry on the bold exploration of the possibilities of mixing pop, easy-listening sonority with more abrasive and raving elements, both in terms of composition and internal organization, and the result is just amazing.
For eighteen-minutes, self*care will literally mesmerize you with its brilliant alternation of avant-R&B emotional yet sensual tracks, like “cowgirl”, whence the clean, melodic guitar is disturbed by squishy noises and the female voice (which sounds a lot like Oklou) so processed to become almost robotic, and more dance-floor oriented pieces of music, like “daddy!”, which is a mixture of Latin rhythms and industrial, hardcore sounds.
Heavy and delicate, pop and visionary, self*care is an eclectic work that you will inevitably end up listening in loop (as it happens with many of the NUXXE’s releases, to be honest) and enjoying it, whether you’re raving, making out, or just sitting alone in your room, and at the same time offers you a glimpse into what the future of both club and pop music may sound like
By Michele Sinatti
Slugabed – Pandaemonium Album Review
Label: Ninja Tune
Some records have the perk of being enjoyable whether you’re listening to them in the club or in the privacy of your room, and Pandæmonium, Slugabed‘s last effort, is one of those.
Released via Ninja Tune on October 12, as a follow-up to 2017’s Inherit the Earth, it brings you wonky basslines, deconstructed club vibes, a touch of UK Bass, flavored with an alternation of heartfelt sounds and hot drops. From the first listen, it feels emotionally intense and sapiently calculated at the same time.
Tracks like “Stalker” and “Winter”, with their slow but bashing drums and detuned basses, surfed by their dreamy melodic lines, immediately evokes an unsettling atmosphere, the idea of a relentless cycle of violence and delicacy.
A Multidimensional experience that teleports you into a dystopian dream, built with syncopated beats and violated synths, that thanks to its high-quality production and sound-design, becomes heavily stereometric, catching your ears throughout its whole twenty-six minutes run.
Slugabed shows a great talent in baking infectious melodies with an imaginative mind that keeps you returning to it and Pandæmonium can be rightfully considered one of his best work to date.
By Andrea Alfieri
Sxrrxwland – Buone maniere per giovani predatori Album Review
Album: Buone maniere per giovani predatori
Label: Asian Fake
As we keep telling you, the Roman scene is quickly becoming the central hub of the newest and greatest shit in terms of freshness and non-conformity. Buone maniere per giovani predatori is the first EP by Sxrrxwland, an emerging experimental (t)rap (if you care about labeling and stuff) trio that’s literally enthralling our minds.
Every one of the six tracks deserves to be analyzed. The first one, “Piazza Polonia”, embodies the perfect tool to open an album. It sets the mood since the beginning, although it doesn’t reveal nor spoil what’s coming next (that is incredibly great): a general sense of sadness is conveyed by the piano joined with melancholic lyrics, the whole framed by a slow and sinister merging of muffled sounds. The next ones, “Cattedrale” and “Facebook”, which should, in my opinion, be considered together because they best represent the fineness of the production of this work.
There’s a usage of infinite different sources, from the piano to the violin, from industrial and glitchy sounds, to wonky rhythms. All this effort brings to something deliberately raw and aggressive, almost destructive, which is sophisticated and not foregone.
“La città” and “Lasciami qui” are like those trippy images that change shape depending on the perspective. The lyrics would perfectly fit in an emo rap track, while the beats instead, especially the one of “Lasciami qui”, are eclectic. There’s no answer to this auto-asked dilemma.
Last but not least, “Eli Lilly”, even if no one gives a shit, is my favorite: I can feel the steps of the construction of the whole song, which is kind of a kink of mine. It starts with some electronic sounds and some simil-humanized cries that, along with depressive spoken lines, slowly get stronger and eventually even disturbing, positively invading. A superb climax is served.
What’s really crucial about this EP is the impelling need of expression, communicated by both the experiments on the music itself and the words, that in this case form a fundamental integral part of the artistic product.
By Margherita Rho
Vril – Anima Mundi Album Review
Album: Anima Mundi
One of the reasons I love techno music is because sometimes it can reach transcendence-like peaks, conveying an otherworldly feeling that stimulates at once physical responses in your body and emotional ones in your brain. German producer Vril is one of the few and key contemporary techno artists able to find this rare balance of body and mind, matter and spirit. It’s no surprise that he is so elusive, letting his consistent musical output speaks for him.
Anima mundi (‘soul of the world’ in Latin) is his third album, the second for the Dutch institution Delsin. Actually, this album is an edited and reworked version of a highly sought after (and priced) cassette with the same title released last year on Giegling, so let’s first thank the guys at Delsin for having made such a mesmerizing work widely available.
We may identify Vril’s musical spectrum as stretching through techno, dub, and ambient, even though it would fail to do justice to his craftsmanship and personal flavor added on all the ingredients used. Sure, there are ambient passages, but they never sound like the filler-beatless-tracks you’re most likely to find in every average techno LP. Then there is techno, for the most part, and here Vril provides us with some tracks more dancefloor-oriented and other designed for home listening; but listen deeper and that clubby track could be the perfect soundtrack for your bus ride after work, and the headphones-only ones would create a magic atmosphere among sweated dancers, if played at the right moment. Last but not least, we have dub: not so much as a genre, but rather as an aesthetic. That is, drowning sounds in reverb, rendering every chord and melody almost mystical, as if coming from another galaxy and opening up undiscovered spaces – both physical and imagined.
To highlight single tracks would weaken the coherence and beauty of Anima mundi as a whole, intense, timeless, listening and moving experience. If there exists such a thing as the soul of the world, Vril has given us his interpretation of how it may sound like, and it’s something I would never stop cherishing.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
33EMYBW – Golem Album Review
Last year the Chinese artist know as 33EMYBW’s, left us with her first EP, Medusa, which was really interesting and well produced, and just needed something to spice it up to be considered great.
Now she is back with Golem, her debut Album, published via the young Shanghai-based label SVBKVLT.
The album conveys the paradoxical impression of a being in a space so full of different and complex constructions that, rather than feeling claustrophobic, evokes a weird sense of void and need. While the deep bass and knocking programming of Medusa are still there, Golem shows, in fact, a great care in sound-layering, sounding more spacious yet defined, as an imposing statue. Organic as a human body, the record also features well-executed transitions from a track to the other. Don’t get me wrong though, is nothing but a relaxed work, far from it. It feels like an eternal, hammering, cyber-nightmare, that haunts track after track, maybe with different paces but always relentlessly.
Superior to Medusa in every way, however, the album still feels like 33EMYBW is looking for her identity in the post-club music scene but is definitely a huge step in the right direction and make us look forward to her next release. In the meantime, If you find the idea of having your brain cells bashed in during over an apocalyptic scenario alluring, this ready made-monster here is right up your alley.
By Andrea Alfieri
Artowork by Francesco Battaglia