Weekly Soundscape: a list-with-review of the best releases of the month, selected by our editors.
Artist: Gabber Eleganza
Album: Never Sleep #1
Have you ever been to one of Alberto Guerrini a.k.a. Gabber Eleganza’s Hakke Shows? Have you haver ever seen four shaved-heads gabberini, all dressed in sportswear, dancing wildly on stage while a giant flag with a “NEVER SLEEP” pill printed on it waves over your head? No? Then you definitely missed one of the most mesmerizing experience the dance-floor has to offer nowadays. But wait, do not despair: the Italian rave-culture blogger and DJ has released his first EP on Lorenzo Senni’s label! What? This is not the old-school gabber you were excepting? Of course it’s not and this is exactly what makes Never Sleep #1 so good: it is not a mere tribute to a dead subculture but the expression of a young cultural movement which today is alive and well, the post-rave movement.
Yes, you can hear the powerful echoes of Thunderstorm’s releases all over the record, the distorted kick drums and the stabbing-ear synths, but the way these classic gabber elements are organized and interact with each other is completely unprecedented and brings to life a new form of hardcore dance music, born from the deconstruction of hardcore itself.
In the end you’ll still have to attend one of Guerrini’s Hakke Shows if you wanna have a taste of what the past might have sounded like, but if you have any interest in what the dance-floor might become in the future you won’t be disappointed by the three-track gem that is Never Sleep #1.
Artist: Go Dugong
Label: 42 Records
Alessandro Cortini, Lorenzo Senni and Caterina Barbieri. Even if you’re not Italian if you follow the underground electronic music scene you’ve listened to at least one of these Italian producers once in your life and probably liked it, and with good reason since they are really, really good (and, well, one of them plays with NIN). But what if I told you that there are other really good Italian producers and one of them is called Go Dugong and has released an amazing LP called Curaro in which he collaborates with tons of other very capable Italian artists? Well you’d better believe me and dive into this sonic exploration of the myths and mystery of ancient tribes.
The theme of the record is in fact tribal mythology and, in particular, some of the ancient theories around the existence of comics entities, a theme that influences Curaro structure directly. Every track sounds like a different myth told in front a a fire while the shadows are dancing, and every time an artists is featured (as a different narrator or maybe as new character) the tone of the tale changes along with the musical style, in a constant shifting between tribal, dub, psychedelic, dancehall and house. And although it is hard to deal with so many different genres, Curaro’s atmosphere always remains coherent, due to its very strong concept and to the right balance between all these influences. So, are you not in love with the Italian electronic music scene yet? Listen to this, then. You are already in love and want more? Also listen to this, then.
Artist: Golin & Buga
Label: Genome 6.66Mbp
US-Japanse singer and producer Golin and Belgian Dj and producer Buga are currently two of the most interesting artists of the Brussels underground music scene and this week they decided to beat my musical team-up fan-fiction and released a collaborative EP on the Chinese underground electronic label Genome 6.66Mbp (which, if you don’t know yet, is one of the label you should definitely keep an eye on this year). And although this three-track work is less then seven-minutes-long it is pretty damn layered and, as the title may suggest, is a constant surprise (if Google hasn’t scr*wed up this time, Fushigi should in fact mean “wonder, surprise, marvel, ecc.” in Japanese), thanks to arrangements that gets constantly more complex song after song. But the most curious fact is obviously how Golin’s high pitched Japanese singing (and mellow production) combines with the sweet dynamism of Buga’s composition. The result is a well balanced, smooth, bubble-gummy mixture, sonically close to some of A.G. Cook releases for PC Music, surely less (wonderfully) corny but still very enjoyable and quite relaxing. If you’re feeling stressed you now know what you have to do for the next seven minutes, and don’t worry if they suddenly become twenty-eight minutes due to the fact that you are probably going put this lil’ EP on loop, it has happened to me to.
Artist: Pavel Myliakov
Album: Eastern Strike
Label: Rassvet Records
If your not familiar with the works of Pavel Myliakov (a.k.a.buttechno) all you need to know is that not only he is one of the most active and prolific artists of the current Russian electronic music Renaissance, having founded the Moscow independent label and collective known as John’s Kingdom in 2014 and the label Rassvet Records last year, but he is also the artist behind all the soundscapes of Russian fashion designer Gosha Rubchinskiy’s fashion shows.
Eastern Strike is in fact the soundscape he has produced for Gosha’s F/W 17/18 collection, presented in St. Petersburg at the old Soviet Palace of Culture last year. In line with the fashion designer’s creations, it is a five-track exploration of the sounds and atmospheres that hit Russia in the late 90’s and started the Russian rave revolution. Techno, breakbeat and especially trance are broken trough glitch and looping then rebuilt in a new, brilliant way, to evoke and reflect on a very precise (and delicate) moment of the recent Russian history, which was marked out by a great lack of spaces for young people, thus becoming, alongside Gosha’s works, an expression of how the young post-Soviet generation is building the future in a constant confrontation with its past. Needles to say that you should check out one of Gosha’s fashion show to experience the whole thing fully.
Artist: Proc Fiskal
Album: Hello Boss
Label: Cosmic Bridge
Last year Scottish artist Proc Fiskal debuted on Hyperdub Records with an interesting EP that mixed grime, wonky, acid and techno. To be fair not all the tracks on The Highland Mob got me hooked due to the fact that all those influences weren’t always mixed smoothly, but the record showed nonetheless that the 21-year-old producer knows how to compose a proper banger, and also that he is a voracious listener with a preferences for UK music, as proven by his new EP, Hello Boss. Slightly reducing the wonkiest elements of his previous production, this time Proc Fiscal has decided to add a new ingredient to his grimy mixture: mid’90’s ragga and dark jungle. And yes, from the very first track you can tell it was the right choice. The interaction between bass-lines so fat that it is impossible to keep your ass steady, the dirty, syncopated drums going at 160 BPM and the grime synthetic strings sounds is just so well executed that all these elements are recognizable individually but at the same time they don’t feel like they are separated. As a consequence the record doesn’t sound derivative at all, which is always a big risk when it comes to relying on musical styles of the past and could easily turn a potentially good record into a boring-to-death revival sh*t. But rest assure, this is not the case, it is all fresh in Hello Boss.
Artist: RUI HO
Album: Becoming is an Eventful Situation
Label: Objects Limited
When I’ve said you should definitely keep an eye on Genome 66.6Mbp I wasn’t kidding. Is in fact with this very label that the Chinese, Berlin-based producer known as RUI HO has released their debut EP, 戰記, a marvelous mix between modern club music and traditional Chinese music. A sonic contrast used to cathartically tell the tale of an imaginary war “that has never happened, but has happened many times inside my head” has stated by RUI HO theirself.
As a direct follow up to 戰記, Becoming is an Eventful Situation uses a very similar composition method but chooses ambient and trance to combine with traditional Chinese music instead of techno and grime, thus relying mostly on synths and less on drums, which previously have had a major role. The result is a much more spatial work that brings you progressively into the cosmos, thanks to an atmospheric cascade of synths and little percussions, and then leads you right in front a trembling star about to explode with rhythmic synth’s riffs and a minimalist drum kick that strike delicately. Therefore the album allows you to think about these phenomena without anxiety or fear but just for what they are: a change, a becoming.
For musicians it is often hard to create a proper narrative inside their own work but RUI HO seems able to do so naturally and besides, every time they does, they explore new languages, new way to telling their own story, refreshing their music palette with every release.
Artwork by Edoardo Maccari