While selecting for the “best” (it’s always partial, you know) albums of April’s second half I couldn’t help but notice how many compilations were being released by cool labels such as SVBKVLT and PDA. After listening to them, I was done for and I thought: “shit, this new SOUL FEEDING will be all compilations!” Which could’ve been a nice idea, maybe. But what about all the “labeless” albums?
With this thought guiding my digital digging, I’ve also found that a lot of talented artists published their music independently this month. And this is basically how this issue of SOUL FEEDING came to life. So you can expect a lot Compilation Label sh*t balanced by self-released sh*t + some regular gemz (you can’t ignore an album like Lorem’s Adversarial Feelings).
Ah, when the stars align.
By Michele Sinatti
Abdu Alì – Fiyah!!!
Artist: Abdu Alì
Abdu Alì is a talented American black queer artist. Their work is strictly linked with contemporary issues such as identity and liberation from oppressive ideologies. You can find these themes also in Fiyah!!!, their debut, self-released album.
It is a work inspired by the artist’s roots: the city of Baltimore, where they grew up, is the starting point of an epic narration. On their Bandcamp page, Abdu Alì themself explains that “this album is a queer’s journey of interrogation in order to discover the seed of my fire. Realizing I didn’t need to go anywhere else but my past for inspiration, I shoveled into my upbringing of living in Baltimore, where as a kid, during humid summer days I often would here in the distance, the go ghetters having marching band practice, or how I would sneak into 17 and over nights at the paradox to be engulfed by the vibrations of the powerful subwoofers the played Bmore club or vogue music all night long”.
The idea is, therefore, to gather all these influences and first-hand experiences and mix them together, transport them in a future where they blend and confuse creating something new.
The intent is ambitious, but it seems fully achieved. Giving vent to the infinite possibilities of the past and present, Abdu Alì creates a new and full-of-energy cauldron that mixes rap, electronica, afropunk, free jazz and obviously Bmore club.
Some moments are pure ecstasy. “Spiraling” for example is an hypnotic track combining afro jazz with deep electronic basses, while the rousing “I’m Here Now (Fiyah!!!)” combines elements of jazz and house with liberating shouted vocal lines, and then “Da Won” is a concentration of energy, between deconstructed club music and experimental rap. A handful of collaborations with artists from the same city such as Jpegmafia and Butch Dawson complete the picture.
By Francesco Cellino
Ayankoko – Kia Sao ກ້ຽວສາວ
Album: Kia Sao ກ້ຽວສາວ
Ayankoko is the stage name of David Somphrachanh Vilayleck, a French-Laotian multi-instrumentalist and composer. Grown up in Europe from Laotian origins, this musician trained in French conservatories but maintained a strong bond with Laos and its troubled history: the Southeast Asia country was, in fact, the most bombed by the United States in the 1970s, although the two countries never officially declared war. It is a wound that has had serious repercussions in the history of the country and its inhabitants, both for the diaspora which ensued and both from the mines and unexploded bombs that still cause deaths after many years.
Ayankoko’s music reflects this synthesis. The album’s title itself is a declaration in this sense: “Kia Sao ກ້ຽວສາວ” is the Laotian for “holding your daughter on your back”, a reference to the cultural heritage of his origins that he carries with him while living in a distant country and culture. The music resulting from this meeting is a collage of styles and languages: from classical to ambient music, from traditional Laotian music to jazz, from field recordings to electronics.
There are moments of pure peace, absolutely abstract, and others decidedly more danceable and chaotic. In “Molan 9” a psychedelic guitar drags towards distant worlds and oriental suggestions, while “Downsides” fuses these melodies with frenetic rave and drum and bass rhythms. “17 2018.5.23llrec11.29.50” instead is a deconstructed track where noises and samples follow each other obsessively, while “Chinh Sae” is ethereal and melodic. They are obvious contrasts, which metaphorically recall the strident conflicts in Laotian history and people, which Ayankoko manages to masterfully blend together, creating a fascinating and engaging sound path.
By Francesco Cellino
BODY MEAT – Truck Music
Artist: BODY MEAT
Album: Truck Music
Label: Body Meat
BODY MEAT, creation of the super extra heterogeneous duo made of Christopher Taylor and Matthew Anderegg, is this week’s regular appointment with the chillout freshness you asked for.
Truck Music is the result of an explosive chemical mixture of different genres, from RnB to funk, passing from hip-hop, which appears to have an half-hidden influence on the whole thing. For the ones who claim sex music is a real issue, this album won’t be a disappointment: this is a sexy ass album. The chill and relaxed rhythms along with low pressured vocals set a perfect mood for enjoying life’s pleasures both in your mind and reality, try “Metal Gear” or “Nairobi Flex”.
But, more technically, what truly amazed me at a point is the majestic use of autotune, definitely not easy to find lately, at least since it became wrongly considered fundamental (I have some records of my autotuned voice saying “ciao mammaaa”). These skills become madly evident when you play “No Garden” or “2 Again” and you feel like listening to those James Blake’s filtered and harmonized melodies. Loose to the right point, the vocals manage to be fundamental without being protagonist, without letting it be labellable and shelving the product on mere pop music’s bracket.
If you need some pump up songs for whatever reason, here they are served. No veggie menu available.
By Margherita Rho
Evitceles – The Substance Of My Fantasies
Album: The Substance Of My Fantasies
Label: Opal Tapes
As Evitceles, the Bulgarian producer Etien Slavchev has already produced several records, with recent releases on Opal Tapes, Seagrave, and Yerevan Tapes. Now he’s back on Opal Tapes for his latest album, The Substance Of My Fantasies. Oscillating between dubby atmosphere, industrial bleakness, and experimental sound design, Evitceles has given birth to a wonderfully nightmarish creature.
As the album title goes, this is a highly personal record, dominated by an overall dark and foggy atmosphere. We can conceive TSOMF as the soundtrack to a journey into the producer’s mind, its valleys, crossroads and labyrinthic paths. The whole album is an affair of dark ambience and rough-edged beats, swallowing up the listener since its very beginning.
Each track stands out in its own way. The tone is set up clearly since the very beginning, as “Take Me To Common Ground” is the perfect mix of dark ambient and submerged bass bursting with submerged tension. Then comes the solemn and ghostly hiccupping techno of “Within My Vulnerable Thoughts”, while “Nightcrawler/Third Night” would perfectly fit in a thriller movie. From the industrial dub of “Devoid” to the otherworldy possessed ambient of “Teach Me Patience”, to “Spit Hearts”, every sonic element seems programmed to make you feel uneasy. Finally, with “Dominating The Matrix” we have the only clubby episode, even though it can be fully enjoyed only in a dark basement with sweat dripping from the walls and hyper-fast stroboscopic lights annihilating your sense of being. Things slow down thereafter on the dark ambient-meets-trap “Collapsing Hybrid”, before the shiver-inducing “Behaviour Exercise” with its lo-fi guitar, ghostly voices, creepy drones and percussions draw the curtain on TSOMF.
Everything is consistent in shaping a narrative of inner retreat and (self)escape, from the album cover (are the two legs running? Jumping? Floating?) to tracks titles. Even the more percussive tracks seem to aim at shaking your thoughts and guts rather than your body. With TSOMF, Evitceles takes you by the hand – ehm, by the ears – and brings you with him in a Dantesque tour downward into Hell. This is not music to dance to, but to unreservedly and irrevocably surrender to.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
Lorem – Adversarial Feelings
Album: Adversarial Feelings
Label: Krisis Publishing & Cargo Music
In case you’re not familiar with it, Lorem is the AI based, experimental project of the Italian musician Francesco D’Abbraccio, already a member of the electronic music group known as Aucan. In April he released his debut AV album + book, Adversarial Feelings, a truly groundbreaking work that explores and expands the artistic and ethical possibility of the human and AI interaction. Realized with the help of the collaborative platform Lorem has built in the last three years, featuring the AI artists Mario Klingemann and Yuma Kishi, the researchers Damien Henry, Nicola Cattabiani and Paolo Ferrari, and the designers Mirek Hardiker and Karol Sudolski, Adversarial Feelings is structured in three thematics areas, and both the music, the videos and the lyrics were produced employing a new generations of Neural Networks working with prepared data sets.
The first chapter focuses on exploring the emotional sides of the machine and sees the network analyzing stories and literary works with a strong focus on the depiction of complex emotional dynamics, classified according to Robert Plutchick’s wheel of emotions. Musically, this section opens up quietly, almost abstract, with just a velvety synth, a few chipping bleeps, cascading spoken words and almost no drums. Then, in the two subsequent tracks, the textures become richer and richer, featuring unpredictable drum patterns, vivid synth pads and riffs, dramatically performing ethnic-flavored melodies.
The following installment, then, put in front of the network a data set made of several sci-fi books about human and AI interaction, including some texts about aliens, to deal with. As a result, it looks like the network tried to learn more about its own nature. Here, the music creates a majestic play of light and darkness, going from the deconstructed beat and dreamy, flute-like synths of “NATURAL READERS”, to the sci-fi dungeon atmosphere of “LATENT SPACES” and then to the cerebral drums and vaporous sound palette of “THE SKY WOULD CLEAR WHAT THE MAN HAD WRAPPED TO THE LINK”
The third and final chapter, instead, was created making the network work on a data set created by Mirek Amendant Hardiker, author of the interactive cyber event Zaum Gadget, with a focus on spiritual machines, primordial noise archaeology, Babel’s architecture, the Zaum Gadget and sacred texts. The sonic textures generated from this data set are ethereal yet layered, featuring the most maximalist drums of the whole album. Listening to it is what I imagine it could be like to attend a cyber-ritual or cyber-Mass created by AI for AI.
A door on the future of non-human intelligences and on their interaction with human on an aesthetic, political and emotional level, Adversarial Feelings is a unique listening experience that, while telling its own story, indirectly asks you questions about your own story as an human being, that by giving you the image of an alien self, makes you wonder about your own self.
By Michele Sinatti
L O S C I – Bubblespeed E. P.
Artist: L O S C I
Album: Bubblespeed E. P.
There is a perceptible mix of communicative urgency and deep, omnivorous connoisseurship of dance music history spilling out from Bubblespeed E.P., L O S C I’s self-released debut EP. After a handful of singles, and appearances on collective releases for experimental labels such as Pure Wool Garden and Antistandard Records, the Italian producer finally steps up with a collection of tracks made between 2014 and 2018, stemming from his love for “timeless club music”.
After a few minutes, it’s already clear that Bubblespeed sits in that borderline area where music made for dancing and home (or commuting, driving, urban wanderings) listening collide. The EP feels clubby without being too jacking and, at the same time, it has a meditative side that combines with – but never overthrows – the groove.
The EP kicks off with the ectoplasmic electro of “Bruma”, featuring atmospheric pads and future garage-like pitched up vocal snippets. “Closeup Club Take” is a colorful bass-house hybrid, whose mood swings between happy and reflective, and with cut-up vocal samples employed as added instruments. With “Diva’s Pit” the 4×4 kick drum flirts with synth stabs and breakbeats, conferring the track a dreamy, slightly melancholic euphoria. “Gnop” starts as a pure sci-fi epic, before turning into liquid breakbeat-electro adapted for high tension videogames.
The best episode is perhaps “Reversoire”, a tasty milkshake of the best tropes taken from already existing genres. It’s a house/bass mutant creature enriched by jungle breaks, with melodies and sampled vocals keeping it rolling restlessly. This track feels like a retroactive anthem and a compendium from rave music heyday, while the subsequent “Skymole” is the perfect soundtrack for HD digital hotel lobbies, then taken over by breaks and dubstep-esque flute. The last chapter is P I T’s Biomix of “Diva’s Pit”; here, Biodiversità Records’ head opts for a synthetic redux of the original, stripping down the euphoric mood and replacing it with trap-derived drum programming and a hazy vibe.
At the end of Bubblespeed E. P., it feels like one has gone through a de-tour among real and imagined club music histories. Overtly drinking from the sources of the past, L O S C I make them fresher with an EP that is just as much dance encyclopedia as it is the product of a very personal vision.
By Lorenzo Motefinese
Sote – Parallel Persia
Album: Parallel Persia
Label: Diagonal Records
Parallel Persia, never a title had been more appropriate. These two words, next to each other, perfectly describe what Sote did with this new album. Basically, Ata Ebtekar, with these seven tracks, created his alternative version of the Middle East.
In fact, Parallel Persia presents a deconstruction of the sonorities of Arabic music. During the listening of this album, the presence of samples of middle eastern chordophones is total. But their homophonic scales are completed destroyed and reassembled in something that sounds like “Persia”, but, indeed, completely new, or better, “Parallel”.
This is a difficult album. I’d rather suggest not to listen to it during your way to work, in a crowded underground wagon (fun fact, as did the first time). I am not saying it needs an enormous amount of concentration, but I think that this product deserves a respectable environment. Sote made as a gift (fun fact 2: Ata in Arabic means gift) and the least we can do is to find a calm spot for our body in order to get our mind caught by this alternative musical world.
By Andrea Predieri
S280F – ALL DOGS GO TO HELL /1 ه҈҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉ه
Album: ALL DOGS GO TO HELL /1 ه҈҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉ه
After a handful of mental EPs, S280F just put out their first full length, ALL DOGS GO TO HELL /1 ه҈҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉ه , this month. The path is the same as their previous works, but here it has been built brick by brick in order to obtain an even more obscure vibe and violate new ears with it.
ALL DOGS GO TO HELL /1 ه҈҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉҉ه has a metronomic stride, it is a record that has got pins and needles, made of trills, rings and wheezes, built on ten harsh ‘unicode-friendly-titled’ tunes, with their experimental, futuristic and spooky tone
To start off, the album opens with the dramatic piano melody of “keep precious things inside you or you will lose them”, with a delicate industrial crescendo that will come back later on to reinforce intentions.
With “fear hidden as anticipation PAIGE 3 – LOCKPICK 3” you really get going through the ghostlike rhythmic section presented throughout the record until “PAIGE” brings some deconstructed elements to the table to spice things up.
On a final note, S280F rarefied experimentalism is sucked in by the dark ambience of their airy synths and metallic melodies and its industrial guidelines. Suffocating at times, Boa Constrictor at others.
By Andrea Alfieri
Various Artists – cache 01
Artist: Various Artists
Album: cache 01
The Shanghai label SVBKVLT, founded by Howell, presents this month cache 01, a very dense playlist of a wide range of artists, among the ones we gladly find Tzusing & Hodge, Zaliva-D and Gabber Modus Operandi. Not surprisingly, the Asian game is once again taking a step forward into the underground panorama of electronic music.
The whole work is homogeneously glued together with a connective tissue made of climaxes, contrasts and cohesions combined to provide an active and dynamic opportunity of listening. A beyond doubt representative track is “Nailz” by Swimful, a long-time affiliated artist of the label (go check PM2.5 and its remixes), in which the general feeling appears to be a continuous tugged and released situation. The same happens in “Sinking” by Hyph11e, maybe even better. The song gets on an unceasing crescendo of items that are progressively added with acceleration to the composition, like a kind of agglutinatio of sounds. Anyway, the ball game can also get more vanilla (in the most positive sense) with “Arp Kicks” by Gooooose, featuring some hyper-relaxing whispers, and “Reverie (Day Version)” by Scintii, whose tender low voice lyrics discover a new form of lullaby for grown-ups.
The meticulous research of quality combined with innovation is evident. You can really feel the enthusiasm and the sincere interest in offering something that can actually work on a two-way communication, raising the awareness of the listener towards the artists and the label, and viceversa.
By Margherita Rho
Various Artists – Linkflow: Matrix Warfare
Artist: Various Artists
Album: Linkflow: Matrix Warfare
Label: United Standard
Fashion has always been heavily linked with music, and, in the last decade, particularly with experimental electronic music. This harmonic combination, often opposed by the purist of the scene but in some way fundamental for the development of the movement itself, is evident in the cities where the fashion industry thrives. One of these cities is Milan, beating heart of Italy and house to United Standard. A fashion brand, a label, a creative hub: it’s not easy to categorize the work of Giorgio Di Salvo, renowned designer and artist. What is clear though, is the absolute top quality of United Standard catwalk soundtracks and label releases.
The latest one, Linkflow: Matrix Warfare, is a compilation that hosts some of the best contemporary electronic music artists, including tracks from Kareem Lofty, Croatian Amor, and Varg, a whole EP from Jesse Osborne-Lanthier and contributions from some of the Haunter Records artists, such as Petit Singe and Sense Fracture.
This compilation is not centered on a common theme, but on the refined taste and research of the two curators, Daniele Guerrini and Giorgio Di Salvo. The absence of limits and parameters allowed the artists to fully express themselves, and the result is an outstanding sonic art exhibition. The twenty-four minutes long EP from JOL stands out as a true industrial gem, while the Haunter artists hit hard, moving on a more deconstructed ground. One of the best tracks on the album is probably “only u / storm” by FLORA, the joint project of AnnaMelina and Varg, following the sound of their latest releases. Another favourite is “2hiding”, a brilliant avant-pop rework of a Rihanna track by Croatian Amor.
Varied and deeply layered, Linkflow: Matrix Warfare creates a thrilling flow, channeling together the different creative approaches of some of the most cutting-edge artists of our time. A further evidence of how the marriage between fashion and experimental music can still give wonderful results.
By Carlo Casentini
Various Artists – PDA COMPILATION VOLUME 1 – AND THE BEAT GOES ON
Artist: Various Artists
Album: PDA COMPILATION VOLUME 1 – AND THE BEAT GOES ON
Let me be a stereotypical Italian, and allow me shouting “Oh, mamma mia!”. Mischa Mafia, Crackstevens and Carrie Stacks said that with And The Beat Goes On they wanted to celebrate PDA’s years in clubland, and took the matter quite seriously with this compilation. Thirty tracks from different producers and DJs bunched up in an explosive album, with only one purpose: to party. Door Girl, coucou chloe, Shygirl, James Massiah, Arca and cktrl are only a few names, among the many, that should trigger your attention.
But, what the PDA’s guys mean with celebrate? Of course, letting loose, but not only this. Firstly, And The Beat Goes On succeeds in reminiscing the sounds of PDA. The second track, “SHE HUNG UP HER EGO! FEEL GORGEOUS’N’VULNERABLE HOT MESS” by Cõvco, is emblematic. It’s not a catchy or danceable track, but, with its smooth sound, clearly states what is the idea behind such a solid project. Solid, but not homogenized, I’d rather say. Basically, In this compilation the listener is slammed thirty times from a style to a different one. You want a creepy and ethnic track? Here you have “Traitor meet Taal” from Manara. You prefer to experience how a melodic piano and voice are deconstructed? free at last’s I’m Sorry (I Don’t Want to Know) suits your needs.
For this very reason, And The Beat Goes On surpasses the idea of a common compilation, transforming itself in something that can be pinpointed as the PDA’s party manifesto. And with the Door Girl’s interludes, acting as a break between the album’s many change atmospheres, you actually have the feeling of being in the club partying.
Moreover, all profits from the compilation will be donated to a project PDA co-founder Carrie Stacks has started together with April Brown and Emmanuel Balogun called A.Q.E.M (Association of Queer Ethnic Minorities), and we can hardly wait to listen what this project has to offer us!
By Andrea Predieri
Various Artists – UNIT I • UNTRANSLATABLE MUSIC
Artist: Various Artists
Album: UNIT I • UNTRANSLATABLE MUSIC
Label: The Spiritual Triangles
UNIT I • UNTRANSLATABLE MUSIC is the first compilation to be released on The Spiritual Triangles, collating post-genre electronic music tracks (which were specially conceived for the occasion), from both upcoming TST artists and great friends of the label.”
It is with these words that the Portuguese label presents its first track collection. As a matter of fact, this is a collage of post-genre electronic music in which it is possible to find a huge variety of different stuff, with charming textures and genuine experimental lunges on one side and tracks that head towards more enlivened territories and arcade hellholes, that definitely give this compilation a standout approach.
Starting with the delightful trance-inducing opener “Sol” by Felinto, and then moving on to “Implante” by Sturqen, you soon realize that, like title and album cover portray, the language spoken by this record is not only one, due to a lot of different influences varying between industrial, glitch and dark ambient just to name a few.
The same can be said for the album tempos and atmospheres. While Sofía Bertomeu‘s “(On) Rythm” is definitely an ear-catcher, UNITEDSTATESOF‘s “Hands up” is a soft and delicate breath under the rain. And if “AmenWorld(Spirit and Flesh)” by Superalma Project is a spiritual synth-driven track, IDKLANG “On a White Horse Into The Flood”, instead, elevates the mood to an unworldly state of upsetting consciousness.
But for everyone, the meeting point is the anxiety for a terrible, overwhelming near future that awaits around the corner and the sense of acceptance and resignation that follows. With Untranslatable Music, it really must be said that the Portuguese label really got the name just right. Other than the music, of course.
By Andrea Alfieri
Virgen María – G.O.D.
Artist: Virgen María
Label: perth records
Virgen María is one of those names that every electronic music fan has heard or seen somewhere in the last two years. The Spanish artist built a real cult around her live shows, characterized by a mesmerizing post-gabber harsh sound, a spiritual aura and by the raw nudity of the performer, willing to deconstruct the sexual taboos around the feminine body.
Those unusual and overwhelming shows created in the audience a lot of expectations for the release of an official debut by the Madrid-based artist. Now the time has come, and Virgen María just released G.O.D, her first EP, in collaboration with production wizards perth Daijing. Well, the expectations were not failed, as G.O.D is one of the most interesting projects of the year so far. The majority of the album is characterized by hardcore drums, that create a ravey texture on which Virgen María builds her soundscapes: Trance synths, poppy samples and deconstructed neoperreo rhythms that perfectly blend with gabber atmospheres and eerie choirs.
The influences and similarities with other artists of the scenes are many, from the ritualistic choirs in “Número de Oro” resembling the latest works from Kelman Duran, to the deconstructed poppish sounds of “Love”, recalling the Charlie XCX of the PC Music era. But It’s great to see how the Virgen María managed to create her own personal style, living up to the premises set with the last two years of performances and giving yet even more substance to an already interesting project. With G.O.D. The Spanish artist perfectly demonstrated her artistic maturity, and we can’t wait to hear more from her soon.
By Carlo Casentini
Artwork by Francesco Battaglia