SOUL FEEDING: a list-with-review of the best releases of the month, selected by our editors.
Alex Wang – 0%
Artist: Alex Wang
Label: ZOOM LENS
The number of amazing releases coming from China each year is shocking, the rise of forward-thinking clubs (like Oil Club in Shenzhen or All Club in Shanghai or many others) all over the country is astonishing and the amount of surprisingly talented musicians across the nations is growing by the hour. One of the most promising of the bunch is definitely Alex Wang who has actually been around for a while now and has earned a fair bit of attention thanks to his mesmerizing Black Dragon EP, released for the Beijing based label Do Hits back in 2017. Just two years later Alex Wang is back with what could almost be called a concept album reflecting on the idea of utopian society.
Reflecting on his surroundings, the city of Shanghai, and gaining inspiration from the entire Chinese Sinofuturist movement, Wang delivers his thoughts through distorted and manipulated screams and fascinating deconstructed beats influenced by a surprising amount of genres, from nu-metal to sci-fi and noise. Charming synthesizers pop out of the noise here and there and add an extra appeal to the entire release giving it an additional human touch. To top it all, the cover art was designed by Nicholas Zhu aka bod [包家巷], one of the favourite artists of our Soul Feeder family and a quality mark in general when it comes to art. Alex is hitting the road and is going to play around China for the next month or so, if you happen to be over there you should definitely go and check him out. For the rest of us let’s just hope this review and his music in general get him the deserved attention even over here in Europe and we get the chance to catch up with him too Alex Wang is something we should definitely not miss out on.
By Thomas Borgogni
Amnesia Scanner & Bill Kouligas – Lexachast
Artist: Amnesia Scanner & Bill Kouligas
Label: PAN Records
Less than one year after their brilliant debut album Another Life, Amnesia Scanner are back with Lexachast, this time aided by none other than PAN’s mastermind Bill Kouligas. Originally conceived as a performance at London’s ICA in 2015, it was then released as a 15:38 minutes online-only audiovisual work. Visuals were provided by Harm van den Dorpel, whose algorithm-based work generated superimposing images taken from web platforms such as Deviantart and Flickr (“with a bias towards the NSFW, extreme banality, and ornamental melancholia”), then modified in real time by the software.
Now Lexachast lands on PAN as a fully (un)formed project. Album, mixtape, audio collage; however should you conceive of this record, its main feature is a drive towards the unstable, the rupture, the (only seemingly) random overlaying and unfurling of sonic material.
The work is presented as “a sonic reference to the fallouts of avant-EDM and cyber-drone” and, whatever that could mean, it takes Amnesia Scanner’s highly kinetic post-club music away from the dancefloor, venturing towards more abstract grounds. It’s a return to PAN’s origin as a not necessarily dance-focused experimental label, with Kouligas’ curatorial and conceptual approach to sonic matter densely palpable.
Lexachast is divided into nine parts which play seamlessly, so it doesn’t really make justice to the album/experience to talk about single tracks. It takes you through a sonic journey that evokes the alienating and disruptive conditions of contemporary life. In a time when we have lost tons of certainties, when everything is collapsing or is on the verge of collapse – from nation-states to identities, from economies to our mental health, from music genres to collective faith in the future – it is no surprise that Lexachast comes as a freeform narrative. Moments of droney stasis are replaced by gunfire drums; grotesque looped vocals are spread over motor engine-like noises; chaos and metaphysical trance go hand in hand. The dystopia of the present is filtered through acousmatic means.
It may comfort you, it may scare you, it may excite you or repel you, it can confound you, it can seduce you. Whatever it does to you, Lexachast is yet another tile into PAN’s growing mosaic of contemporary music made to soundtrack contemporary lives.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
Kinlaw – Drax
Label: Haunter Records
Released via Haunter Records April 12, 2019, Drax is the last EP by Bristol-based producer and photographer Hamish Trevis aka Kinlaw. Seeing the light as a follow-up to the well accomplished 2018 Corfe EP, it is a significant release both for Haunter Records and Kinlaw, who finds himself working with the Italian label for the first time.
First off, It is truly remarkable how smoothly Kinlaw mixes genres such as dubstep, deconstructed and UK bass with the addition of a personal touch too, showing a remarkable awareness of the development of the British underground music scene during the years.
Digging deeper, “Agglestone”, as an opener, enshrines the new connection with the spirit of Haunter Records, featuring gloomy vocals in Italian by Franco Franco.”MG 1666 DD” then, proceeds solemn with its high screeches, while in “Rake” vivid percussive bass lines guide the listener through a shroud of mystery. The obscure “Trtipt“ is a dark industrial track of soft spirit, with a dominant bass groove.
With just four tracks in his arsenal, Kinlaw juggles between grime, jungle and dubstep with ease, guiding the listener through a tribal, intense, but also weightless and hypnotic, nocturnal journey.
A marvelous display of creativity for the talented Bristol-based producer. Best served at night.
By Andrea Alfieri
Logos – Imperial Flood
Album: Imperial Flood
Label: Different Circles
Imperial Flood is James “Logos” Parker’s new album after a six years hiatus. In 2013 he released Cold Mission, the milestone and manifesto of the then-emerging “weightless”, a sensibility voted to excavate sidereal spaces into grime and to drain away UK hardcore continuum’s kinaesthetic euphoria.
Written between 2015 and 2018, the album is paradoxically filled with void, its asphyxiating empty space weighting much more than hard bumping dance music. A sense of claustrophobic oppression looms throughout the album, perhaps reflecting the recent UK sociopolitical climate. On Imperial Flood the sense of place merges with the ghosts of rave culture, making it an imaginary psychogeography in space and time through England’s natural and musical landscapes. At the same time, the sense of dread and paranoia that leaks from it might as well mirror the fate of our current shattered world.
At a first listen, the album sounds as if is coming out of a noise or dark ambient background rather than a dance one. Yet, after deep and repeated listens one can detect relics of the energy that dance music shares with noise; and the focus on mood and atmosphere that dance shares with ambient, soaked in a dark side bath.
Imperial Flood starts with the cold atmosphere and spare percussions of “Arrival (T2 Mix)” and “Marsh Lantern”. “Flash Forward (Ambi Mix)” and “Lighthouse Dub” are Logos’ expedition into acid and dub territories, evoking the ghosts of acid house in the former, and offering a dub reduction of dub itself in the latter. “Omega Point” is a requiem with echoed cawing crows, while the only ‘proper’ dance track, “Zoned In”, features Logos and Mumdance delivering liquefied sci-fi electro bastardized with grime, acid, footwork and techno tropes. After the sound design tempest of “Occitan Twilight Pyre”, the album ends with the otherworldly “Stentorian” and the debris of what was formerly known as mankind wandering into the weightless space of “Weather System Over Plaistow”.
A disquietingly calm sonic fiction depicting planet-Earth-become-alien, Imperial Flood is the sound of UK hardcore continuum updated, dismembered and adapted for the XXI century.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
Mana – Seven Steps Behind
Album: Seven Steps Behind
Label: Hyperdub Records
Italian producer Daniele Mana, formerly known as Vaghe Stelle, released his debut album Seven Steps Behind this month. It is his second release for Kode 9’s Hyperdub label, following 2017’s Creature EP.
In a recent interview for the Italian edition of Rolling Stone, the musician explained the genesis of this new work: “Since I have a very active nightlife, in the sense that while I sleep I have many dreams, some of which are very intense, I decided to make a collection of all the visions I have when I sleep and turn them into music.” So it’s not surprising that the mood of the album is extremely dreamlike. You feel like you are in a state of drowsiness where visions and feelings follow one another.
Differently from the previous EP, Mana’s long length debut shows us a wide variety of solutions. The Turin artist abandons a certain neoclassical formalism, looking for more adventurous possibilities. At the same time, the beats become more marked and less abstract. It is a brave album which stands out in a catalogue as important as that of Hyperdub. Its sound is an hard to classify patchwork that mixes analog and digital elements, still remaining organic and coherent.
It is music made of continuous changes: chaotic noises, ambient pads, melancholic melodies, digital arpeggios, sampled acoustic instruments, weird bewitching voices, guitar riffs and pitched sounds. It could look like a compendium of all the elements characteristic of avant-garde electronic music, but that would actually be reductive. Inside each track Mana traces an unexpected path. Everything creates a surreal and emotional environment. The result is an imaginative and unpredictable LP that blurs the borders between unconscious and reality.
By Francesco Cellino
Massimo Pericolo – Scialla Semper
Artist: Massimo Pericolo
Album: Scialla Semper
At Soul Feeder, we are very conscious of the importance of supporting and promoting the local scenes. In particular, we are your favourite Italian underground plugs, and we are proud of that. The latest rap sensation from the Boot-shaped country is Massimo Pericolo, a dangerous mind coming from the lakes district in northern Italy.
Despite having been making music since high school, the Italian artist has just released his first album, Scialla Semper, now that he is in his mid-twenties. Production-wise, the eight tracks EP shows a remarkable maturity, combining extreme quality and a decent dose of innovation. Each track seems to follow a different genre, from classic hip-hop and trap to more interesting neo-dancehall sounds (as in the eponymous track) and grime. In facts, Scialla Semper is probably the most interesting track on a sonic level: a dark and furious jam that could have been produced by Florentino or Merca Bae. This being said, the real MVP of the album for its productions is surely “7 Miliardi”, the uber-hard-hitting single that took the Italian scene by storm with lo-fi, raw synths, heavy percussions, distorted voice, and ultraviolent lyrics.
Explaining how hard, angry, sad and beautiful the words of Alessandro “Vane” Vanetti to a non-Italian speaker is not easy. The troubled history of the artist and his disillusioned take on the world are the leitmotiv of the album, even in the softer tracks (“Sabbie d’oro” is one of the most melancholic depictions of life in the suburbs ever written). What is really surprising in Massimo Pericolo’s lyrics is the allure of street credibility that surrounds them, combined with conscious, almost existentialist bars; something really different from the majority of the contemporary scene, lost in a lyrical vacuum.
What else can we say? We love Scialla Semper, Massimo Pericolo and his bravery in breaking the standards and delivering something fresh and full of quality to an otherwise stagnating scene, and we sincerely hope that his talent will cross the Italian borders.
By Carlo Casentini
Mini Esco – Life Force Energy
Artist: Mini Esco
Album: Life Force Energy
Label: Posh Isolation
Mini Esco is 100% entitled to join this Soul Feeding’s issue with his latest album Life Force Energy for Posh Isolation. The Danish producer focused on people’s intrinsic need for dancing, of letting mind and body melt together, frivolously.
The album is quite short, half an hour more or less, and that’s why it’s perfectly condensed and solid. The beats are idiosyncratically both loose and steadfast, kind of poppish. What makes it so special however, is the brilliant blending of trap and club music sonorities, such as in the second half of “Somewhere”, which I can only describe as a sidereal trance-trap gem.
Talking about contaminations, “Dreamer” seems to shyly reveal a modern oriental taste, and that’s always good news when it comes to dancing music. My favorite, tho, gotta unquestionably be “Stargazer”. A thousand different sounds are mixed together with some flashing human cries, making it an ever-changing track, to listen with different ears time after time. What’s good about Life Force Energy is that it is gently captivating, you feel involved, really included into the music, but without any kind of pressure. It comes naturally.
By Margherita Rho
Nui Blanc – Strata
Artist: Nui Blanc
Label: perth records
A veil of mystery surrounds Portuguese producer known as Nui Blanc. The only things we got were a fleeting live set a few months ago for perth records event and a handful of releases for the London based experimental label. The release of his first EP, Strata, really surprised us.
The musician has defined his music “polyphonic, unstable and expanded”, and these are exactly the impressions one feels since the first listen. The opener “Under” is an emotional track where the whispering vocal line mixes with industrial synth rugs and downtempo syncopated rhythms. The effect is unsettling, a dystopian, dramatic and contaminated experimental R’n’B song. All this naturally evolves into the next “Real”, which explodes with all its furious emotional charge. “The great love” lowers the tension again but then brings it back to growth, up to the epic and polyform “Viscus”. It is an unusual track that transforms a cloud of chaotic glitches into an eternal and celestial symphony. “Plateaus” then adds to a minimalist and pointillist taste in composition the destructive energy of noise and industrial patterns, creating an infernal orchestra of crazy machinery. It is even stranger for the contrast with “Nausea”, the light and dreamy track that closes the EP. It is a song with a fluctuating gait, with semi-dissonant drunken synths lulled by a carpet of strings and vaporous sounds.
Avoiding the most obvious solutions, Nui Blanc drags the listener and suspends it for the duration of the EP. The singles previously released had already pointed out this mysterious musician. Now, with these new intense and engaging tracks, he better defines his own style, proving his oddness and talent.
By Francesco Cellino
Réelle – Made For Pleasure
Album: Made For Pleasure
Label: Ashida Park
Tragically passed away last November, Réelle left a blank space in the present underground electronic community. However, the promise of going on with the development of their last album was honored, and Made For Pleasure has finally been released via Ashida Park at the beginning of this month.
As their previous releases, Made For pleasure it’s an anguished self-exploration, halfway in between sound collage and deconstructed club, following the footsteps of the previous full-length Ghamccccxc vRR and the Kisses to Myself EP.
What’s intriguing is that Réelle’s broad emotive range is mirrored by the variety of productions in their last work, evoking crisis, schizophrenia, and unconsciousness. It is a tormented piece of work, sort of an industrial fairy-tale which sees rigid industrial percussions on one hand and shy, candid melodies, on the other hand, contributing to a ritualistic dimension of bitter flavor.
While in Made For Pleasure Arca’s influence is evident, describing Réelle’s music as derivative would be a terrible mistake, since this album definitely presents its own character, as the masterful use of incomprehensible vocal samples demonstrates and the ever-growing tension that Réelle creates track by track.
It’s a heartfelt testament of his growth as an artist and, at the same time, the bitter awareness of what Réelle could have become in the near future.
By Andrea Alfieri
Various Artists – V
Artist: Various Artists
It’s hard to find the most appropriate adjective for V, the last issue of [re]source, the Parisian imprint led by Tommy Kid. The snag lies in finding something that describes heterogeneity with a strong and highly recognizable fil rouge. Every track is different from the others, but, at the same time, there is no contrast at all when the new one starts.
In V every producer expressed himself at his maximum and created amazing tracks: all deserving to be title-tracks. But there are no teacher’s pets in this compilation. All the artists worked as wingmen and oriented their peculiarities towards synergy instead of exhibitionism. I think that we can facetiously imagine the five producers around a meeting table, dressed up as jazz session men, saying: “Ok guys, this is the basic idea, on top of this do whatever you like!”. And, if in jazz you explore solos, in electronic music you explore sound: Jesza looked for a rough dreamlike world; Mamboussa is jocular as a child; Jaymie Silk tried to write a melancholic-thriller ballad; Pl4net Dust shows how underground producers can be catchy too; Tommy Kid spellbinds the listener in a cocoon-like loop. In the end, V, gathering these five producers, is the proof that creativity and synergy can exquisitely work together, and they can create such a solid and distinguished compilation.
By Andrea Predieri
2 Mothers – Live In Brixton
Artist: 2 Mothers
Album: Live In Brixton
Label: Bala Club
“Experimental club music has calcified into an institution that 2 Mothers propose to set on fire so it can rise again from its ashes[…]” this is what the Berlin-based, Bala Club artist Brat Star, one of the two minds behind the 2 Mothers project alongside the label-mate Katie Vick, stated on her Instagram stories to describe the aim of Live in Brixton.
While present technologies and software allow producers to obtain pretty easily a club-like-standard quality of the sound, the six tracks that comprise the album are, in fact, excerpts of two improvised guitar + voice sessions that took place in Vick’s room in Brixton last December, and were recorded with just an iPhone’s microphone, without any mixing or mastering (just a bit of creative sound manipulation).
This peculiar choice has led to an abrasive, lo-fi sound that, in its pure rawness, ends up feeling deeply intimate, as if you were a friend with whom Brat Star and Katie Vick decided to share their music and ideas in the making, via a WhatsApp vocal message.
But it’s not only the sound quality standards to be challenged by 2 Mothers: is the whole concept of what is actually considered an album nowadays, as well as what artists are allowed or not to record and publish. In order to completely cross (and crush) these boundaries, Live in Brixton features, other than music, excerpts from the conversations the two musicians had during the recording session and personal comments to the music they were playing.
In “My Nightmares”, for example, when the track seems to reach its climax, with this gloomy distorted guitar riff and an autotune voice singing a very heart-felted “this if farewell”, it suddenly stops with the person singing saying: “I forgot the rest of the lyrics, fuck!”.
Touching and funny, at the same time, these moments really give you back the humane and vulnerable atmosphere in which these recordings occurred as if you were also there with 2 Mothers, sharing those moments and feelings.
If you ever felt out of place while making music or while listening to it in a club, Live in Brixton is an album you should definitely listen, an emotional punk reminder that “there is no hierarchy in music” and that no one, no industry, scene or market, can impose actual limits to your creativity.
By Michele Sinatti
Artwork by Francesco Battaglia