Weekly Soundscape: a list-with-review of the best releases of the month, selected by our editors.
Astrosuka – Astrosuka Review
Label: Genome 6.66Mbp
I was not really familiar with Astrosuka last week but when I’ve found out his last EP was released via my favorite Chinese label(you guessed it, folks, it’s Genome 6.66Mbp), I thought that I should definitely check him out.
Russian-born but currently based in Buenos Aires, Sergey Koltsov is a producer, visual artist and founder member of the artistic platform known as TRRUENO. In his works (which you can listen here) under the Astrosuka moniker, he has experimented with Latin music in various way, making it darker, heavier, and his latest, self-titled fatigue feels like the ultimate result of years of researches.
In six tracks this young Russian artist completely crushes and re-builds an entire musical culture, in a way that, especially for the use of the heavily-processed voices and the ear-piercing synths, immediately evokes Amnesia Scanner’s AS.
But if the Berlin-based duo has a preference for exploring a wide range of musical style in the same album, Astrosuka instead chooses to stick firmly to the Latin roots of his sounds from the beginning to the very end, thus crafting a work that is not only coherent but also feels like a new way to think a tradition, a sonic revolution that proposes a chaotic meeting (or should I say warfare) of past and future.
The outcome is a collection of vicious, skull-bashing bangers, (un)shaped with great accuracy and talent and that will make you rave wildly whether you like or not.
By Michele Sinatti
Chevel – In a Rush and Mercurial Review
Album: In a Rush and Mercurial
Chevel, aka Dario Tronchin, is a real creative volcano, as he just demonstrated releasing two album in a row this year, Always Yours and In a Rush and Mercurial.
The latter was part of the art installation Studio Venezia by Xavier Veilhan, and it was entirely recorded in a pavilion of the Venice Art Biennale in 2017. In this double EP, Chevel plays with techno and ambient sounds, with industrial pulses and swift lines of synth.
The music and the creative process go side by side: the whole realization of the album took just four days, and the syncopated and fast beats perfectly express the sense of rush that characterizes the title and probably the recording of this work as well.
It’s also interesting the ostensible conflict between the spacious and sweeping sound of the album and the limited space where it was produced: in fact, In a Rush and Mercurial is perfectly coherent, as it evokes a need to escape, to run as fast as we can out of any border, and to explore the infinite.
It is another proof that Chevel is not only a great producer but also a complete 360 degrees artist, working with the same attention both on concepts and sounds.
By Carlo Casentini
Gaika – Basic Volume Review
Album: Basic Volume
Label: WARP Records
There is no reason to keep it secret: Gaika is one of the personal favourites of the whole Weekly Soundscape crew.
With his previous EPs, Spaghetto and The Spectacular Empire, the Brixton producer impressed the electronic music scene. His music combines the rhythms and vocals of hip hop, dancehall, and afrobeat with futuristic synths and bass lines coming straight from the London underground club scene.
With Basic Volume, Gaika goes even further in the exploration of his urban and tribal dystopia, contaminating with trap-like beats and vocals, as in the first track, and even with spoken word lines. The flawless production of the album is enhanced by the support of great artists like SOPHIE, Dutch E Germ and Buddy Ross, known for his recent collaboration with Frank Ocean on both Blonde and Endless. All of these different influences give birth to a sound that embodies the beauty and the chaos of a real cultural melting pot, highlighting its darkest side.
Basic Volume is a great album, a meeting between tribal mysticism and a hopeless urban hell, that finally defines Gaika’s sound in a unique and unmistakable way.
By Carlo Casentini
Kelman Duran – Moon Cycle III Review
Artist: Kelman Duran
Album: Moon Cycle III
Kelman Duran has blessed us with another gem to dance to hasta las 6 de la mañana.
In his new work, the Dominican producer seems to delve deeper into his reinterpretation of dancehall, partially emancipating himself and his music from the club dynamics and focusing on the experimentation. While you listen to Moon Cycles III, deconstructed dancehall flows relentlessly, the heavy reverb creates a rarefied atmosphere and the chopped vocals haunt you, in a really good way.
The result is a slightly more reflective and less dancefloor-oriented EP if compared to 1804 KIDS, the album (released on Hundebiss) that made me fall in love with the afro-Caribbean rhythms of the Dominican artist. Nonetheless, Moon Cycles III is a really powerful and impactful work, that confirms Kelman as one of the most interesting profiles of the genre.
By Carlo Casentini
Lorenzo Senni – The Shape Of RemixXxes To Come Review
Artist: Lorenzo Senni
Album: The Shape Of RemixXxes To Come
Label: WARP Records
Lorenzo Senni’s – the man who doesn’t need any kind of introduction –The Shape Of Trance To Come occupied a special place in 2017’s dance music releases panorama, and still does: WARP Records just released The Shape Of RemixXxes To Come. The first track of the original EP, “XAllegroX”, has been reworked by the visionary hands of Dj Stingray and the twisted mind of Florian Hecker, whereas the second one, “The Shape Of Trance To Come”, by the Berlin-based Italian duo known as Tale Of Us, the non plus ultra of sapiently built communicative music.
Dj Stingray’s approach is quite unexpectedly cautious. The work made on the track consists in maintaining almost the same sequences with an addition of some good deep basslines that slightly changes the initial intent, shifting it to something even more danceable and sped up. Hecker, instead, does something completely different. The first part of his twelve-minute-long remix consists in an accurate work of deconstruction in which the sequences move along different but parallel lines, like an intentional system error that puts in absolute terms every sound.
The second part kinda still follows this pattern but the division is less evident and the general sound becomes more soothing (for your brain, not certainly your ears). Finally, Tale Of Us’ result is undoubtedly extreme good quality electronic music, but I cannot feel the same spice as the original one. The solid and zippy sounds present in Lorenzo’s track, that I personally love and always associate to those 90’s and early 00’s video games I used to be obsessed with when I was like nine yo, seem to have melted together in a more melodic motion. Nevertheless, you can still feel the trance coming.
Editorial note: All us editors are fans of Lorenzo’s work, but one of us in particular never misses one of his live shows, he even plays Persona while we’re having our usual naif and bored lunch in his tiny apartment ins Milan. I think he gets a boner with Superimpositions. The two of us recently went to a talk held by some masters of electronic music, including him. Once ended, he evidently had one can of beer too many so when I saw him getting closer to Lorenzo I decided not to miss a single instant of that conversation for my own pleasure. The nice and pacific mood, initially set by greetings and compliments, turned into a burning terrestrial hell in which we all were victims except for our colleague who played the role of an actual devil who told one of his favorite artists he’s an idiot because he doesn’t listen to Kanye West.
By Margherita Rho
object blue – REX Review
Artist: object blue
Label: Let’s Go Swimming
Chinese-born and currently London-based producer and DJ, object blue is a young and talented artist who’s quickly gaining herself (a rightful) space in the electronic dance music scene.
Highly sensitive towards women rights in the music industry and specifically towards the universe which involves her at the highest degree, aka the electronic music scene, earlier this year she dedicated her first EP, the excellent Do you plan to end a siege?, “to all the women on the dancefloor”. In two words: Backbone and class.
Her latest work, REX, out for the English label Let’s Go Swimming, is a four-track experimental-hammering block of relentless and devoted to 4/4 beat, which object blue manages to keep always interesting until the closing track. This work also includes a re-issue of her very first techno track “(time to) WORK” which features a sample from Aaliyah that adds a sensual vibe throughout the album.
In the end, what transpires from this release is a summary of everything that makes object blue so freaking great: a blend of dance-y techno and experimental shades, energetic and metallic. Different points of view not often matching on the dance-floor but that she manages to mix smoothly anyway, enhancing the beauty of this release even further.
By Andrea Alfieri
Oneohtrix Point Never – The Station EP / We’ll Take It EP Review
Artist: Oneohtrix Point Never
Album: The Station EP / We’ll Take It EP
Label: WARP Records
Some artist doesn’t just make music. They don’t simply compose songs or produce tracks. They create worlds through their music, and this sonic way of world-making is usually aided by records artworks, lyrics, titles, the artist’s public image (Bjork and Arca) or elusiveness (Drexciya and Burial).
In the last ten years, and particularly since his 2013 debut on WARP Records, Daniel Lopatin a.k.a. Oneohtrix Point Never has kept himself busy with imagining and giving shape to his world. From R Plus Seven, via Garden Of Delete, to the latest Age Of, OPN’s music conjures our hyper-accelerated and technology-driven present times. Sometimes it seems that nothing happens, sometimes too much is happening at once.
Sometimes faux new age, sometimes frantic, abstract yet hyperrealist, OPN took the giant step on Age Of, adding proper lyrics and sounding more ‘organic’ without losing touch with the technological here-and-now.
Now he delivers two EPs for “The Station” and “We’ll Take It”, already appeared on Age of. While the titles and the main songs are different, the other three tracks are the same for both. “Monody” is all about tension and release between synths and percussions; “Blow By Blow” starts as gasping downtempo before a piano, a distorted guitar and white noise make everything soothing and disquieting at once, ending with a celestial drone; and “Trance1” sounds like a trance requiem for pads and white noise.
About the title track(s), “We’ll Take It” is the perfect match of dark ambient, industrial and library music, whereas “TheSstation” is the real gem here thanks to the interplay of Lopatin’s auto-tuned vocals, a guitar melody, and the usual apocalyptic synths. A solid addition to an instant classic album, welcome to the age of Daniel Lopatin.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
Rosen & Spyddet – Memoria Review
Artist: Rosen & Spyddet
Label: Janushoved x Posh Isolation
If you happen to follow this section of Soul Feeder regularly, you know that I’m not a huge fan of synth-pop/wave/rock/whatever for reason that I can’t bear to explain yet another time. What you should also know is that I’m not a total ass(only at 77%) and I know that there are some worthy exceptions in the genre like Memoria, the latest album of Rosen & Spyddet.
Most of the works the Danish duo has released via Janushoved up until now could be described as instrumental lo-fi-synth-pop, but with Memoria, released via Janushoved in collaboration with the Danish label Posh Isolation, they’ve shifted toward a more polished sound, cleaning up their music palette completely. And although I’m a big fan of their previous (dirtier) sound, I must say that this choice fits Memoria perfectly since, as Rosen & Spyddet stated on their Bandcamp page, the whole album is a “celebration of summer”. All the sounds they’ve chosen for their depiction of this season, from the celestial synth pads to the delayed guitar and the dry 4/4 drum kick, are in fact so joyfully limpid that, while listening to this thirty-seven-minutes-long ode to summer, you can’t help but feel like you’re out in the open, maybe staring at the see as you inhale the salted air that comes from it.
A truly accomplished work that mesmerizes the ears with its delicate simplicity without ever getting banal or boring.
By Michele Sinatti
Xzavier Stone – Stone Review
Artist: Xzavier Stone
Label: Fractal Fantasy
Gummy basslines marked out by puffy and ultra-vivid basses: this is THIRST, the debut album of Xzavier Stone, released via Fractal Fantasy, the Barcelona label founded by Zora Jones and Sinjin Hawke. And one hell of a debut for him, coming in through the front door with a solid set of 13 tracks of pure avant-R&B.
His participation on the Visceral Minds 2 compilation with the collaborative track “All Black” last year had already gathered attention around him, and with this new full-length Xzavier definitely proves he’s an artist you should keep an eye one. There is, in fact, not a single moment where this new full-length go down: it’s an absolute banger, from start to finish!
A very sensual record, where R&B flirts with a wide range of genres, like dancehall, Uk bass, and trap, shifting constantly from bright tones to dark tones, seducing your ear track after track, sometimes with delicacy, sometimes with impetus.
The production is absolutely top-notch, able to be deeply elaborate and yet immediate, perfect for the dance-floor and yet appealing even to the most demanding ears.
No wonder it took Xzavier two years to get this record done, between audio and visual features. If you enjoyed any of the other releases of the Fractal Fantasy, you can’t absolutely mix this mesmerizing avant-R&B manifesto.
By Andrea Alfieri
Yona – C Review
As I’m trying to find a proper and impactful way to start this review, my mind can’t help but think about the fact that C is an album – and I’m pretty sure the first and only album – entirely performed by an AI. To be precise, Yona is an “Auxuman” (Auxiliary Human), an Artificial Intelligence “that functions via a variety of generative methods/softwares, collaborating with the ‘human’ producer to present a virtual performance similar to human performers/idols.”
Behind it there’s the Iranian-born and London-based multidisciplinary artist Ash Koosha, who implemented the software and gave the AI life. All vocals and instruments are credited to Yona, though. If Koosha’s goal was to thin out the distance/difference between human and machine and their relative music-making capacity, he successfully (and eerily) made it. C blurs lines and identities, opening new and unpredictable possibilities for the future of creativity.
When it comes to the music itself, it stands firmly in the multiform soundscape of hi-tech music with its menacing synths, cinematic pads, and jittery beats, and feels like a natural addition to Koosha’s brilliant catalog. Yet what’s most striking is Yona’s voice: the AI sings on all eight tracks adopting different timbres and vocal alterations, without sounding more inhuman, cold or detached than your average autotuned trap hit. Instead, I found a breathtaking warmth and ambiguous closeness in Yona’s voice, akin to vocal experiments conducted by avant-pop singers over the last decades. Maybe C’s true beauty lies here, in it being the most adventurous and fascinating form of songwriting the present has to give us, whose seeds are ready to be spread in the upcoming future.
I’m not a tale to be told / not a song to be sung / not a song to be heard / or something you can see / or something you could know / I’m common pain / cry me out / give me your hands / your hands know me well / for my voice is / infinitely yours
By Lorenzo Montefinese
Artwork by Francesco Battaglia