I’ll be completely honest with you. This two-weeks-issue is the result of a common case of Easter holiday laziness, which, like every goddamn year, hit me hard af. I know it and you know it. For this very reason, to review all the cool sh*it that came out in these two weeks I’ve asked my dear colleague editor Carlo Casentini, straight outta Milan, to help me out with this issue.
Now that I’ve confessed my sins and thus absolved myself (admitting to be a lazy f*ck is the first step to continue being a lazy f*ck) we can proceed the same way as the last time. Get ready for some electronic music you hope will help you get laid and look cool but in the end will only make you look weirder than Spider-Man 3’s emo Peter Parker when you get the aux cable and start dancing at parties. This is your Weekly Soundscape.
Artist: AL-90 & DX2OV
Do you remember how last year the outsider house genre has become popular and you couldn’t listen to something on Youtube without encountering tons of unmastered copy-pasted tracks made by green producers in their room hoping that what happened to DJ BORING or Ross From Friends could happen to them one day? Well, I do, and that’s exactly why I’m having a hard time enjoying outsider house these days. But last week I had to make an exception because AL-90 has released a two-track work with his colleague DX2OV on Russian label Fuselab. If you are not familiar with AL-90 all you need to know is that he is a Russian producer who, in 2015, has released Code-915913, probably the most interesting outsider house album you’ll gonna hear in your entire life. And with this new release, he confirms once again that he is not a lazy сука who thinks that putting a reverb and a low-pass filter on every single channel of a track is substitutive for creativity. With well-processed samples, sexy grooves and rhythms, interesting arrangements and tons of variations, all developed with a lo-fi touch that makes everything bittersweet and yet so damn enjoyable, this accessible little work will surely make you move while you look at the world around you turning into a 90’s videotape.
Artist: Ash Koosha
Label: REALMS Records
Ashkan Kooshanejad, aka Ash Koosha, is not a new profile on the radar of electronic music aficionados. Musician, producer, director, political activist, he tries to redefine the present and to shape the future with all the means that his creative mind can supply. And this is exactly the cornerstone of his new work. Humanity and inhumanity, past and future: AKTUAL revolves around these dualities. As the author himself claims, his new album represents his (quite dystopian) vision of the world to be: robotic synthesizers alternate with ancient, almost ritualistic choirs, depicting extended desert soundscapes. AKTUAL is an alien planet, where mechanical lifeforms and old magic coexist, but Koosha manages to avoid all of the steampunkish garbage, developing a sound that is both baroque and elegant. If you are looking for an accessible and yet complex glitch-hop album, with some more dancefloor friendly tracks and are fed up of boring and washed-out music (I’m talking about you, Simon Green! ) look no further: AKTUAL won’t let you down.
Album: Always Yours
Label: Different Circles
If you are familiar with Mumdance and Logos’ label, Different Circles, you know that its catalog consists mostly in experimental, “weightless” (as defined by Mumdance and Logos themselves) takes on very UK-oriented music genres, such as grime and jungle. So when I’ve heard that Italian producer Dario Tronchin, aka Chevel, was about to release an LP for Different Circles I thought: “That’s a match made in Heaven!” And now that the album is out I can confirm that. Always Yours is in fact perfectly in line with the liquid aesthetics of the other Different Circles’ releases but chooses to rely on a different range of sounds and ideas, enriching the label’s field of experimentation with techno, dub techno and glitch (although there are some grimy moments that sounds like an homage), which have always been Chevel’s favorite. The peculiar elements of these genres thus become a stereometric fluid that constantly stretches and tightens itself and, sometimes, gets even solid piercing you directly through your ears with just a single click. It is an unsettling listening that will frighten you and entertain you at the same time thanks to a masterful production capable of drowning a genuine banger into the abyss and still make you want to move your asses (in fear, tho).
Artist: EQ Why & Traxman
Label: Orange Milk Records
I suppose you sometimes need some relax while DJing, like just putting on a record and going to the bar demanding your hard-earned gin tonics. Despite this probably causing a small revolt in the public and seriously putting your life at risk, if you will ever be brave enough to try this WhyTrax is the record you are looking for: one hour and six minutes of varied, hard-hitting dance music, capable of setting any club on fire. Knowing EQ Why and Traxman, one would imagine WhyTrax as a really good juke album, and he wouldn’t be wrong; however, it is so much more than this. Every single track is, in fact, different from all the others, spacing from the robotic and IDM-like sounds of “Computer Ghetto Part 2” and “DSC” to the afrobeat and jungle vibes of “Quimbara”. All of these different influences affect WhyTrax in some way, and this is what makes this album so special: this record is an incredible compilation of dancefloor hits, perfectly merging the syncopated beats typical of Juke music and an endless combination of other genres.
Editorial note: WhyTrax isn’t the only good record Orange Milk Records has released in the past two weeks but since our objective is to give space to more collective as possible we decided to review the one that we liked the most (it has not been an easy choice). You should definitely check their Bandcamp page and listen to the other new records they’ve published, tho.
Artist: Flame 1
Album: Fog / Shrine
A team-up between Burial and The Bug is without a doubt the ultimate wet dream of any UK Bass fan (only way to make it better would be to add Andy Stott to the mix, I think), and since the planets aligned or some sh*it, William Emmanuel Bevan and Kevin Martin have decided to create a new alias, known as Flame 1, and release a two-track record, turning this dream into reality. I would be lying if I say that I wasn’t a little bit worried when I’ve heard about it, because the latest works of both these artists, despite being interesting and fun to listen, seemed to miss some consistency and felt more like the search for a new direction than a proper stylistic statement. But, my God, in this new release these two beautiful English bastards know perfectly what they are doing. The fat, persistent, bass and drums, a trademark of The Bug, are thrown into Burial’s echoing ambient spaces and continuously filtered in an anxious variation between bulky and bony, giving you the impression that the tracks are actually dissolving themselves while you are listening. So if you love one or both of these artists (as I do), you should just sit your ass down and listen to the perfect mix of two of the sounds that has defined the last decade of UK electronic dance music that is Fog / Shrine and hope that the first Flame 1 LP will take less time to be released than Burial’s third LP.
Artist: Sega Bodega
London based producer Sega Bodega is well known to often gift his fans with free-download mixtapes, like the two very enjoyable releases of the Soundtrack Series (also known as SS), in which he pays homage to his favorites movies reworking with his own abrasive style short parts of their soundtracks. With Vs. Sega offers us a series of brilliant mash-ups between very popular pop songs, such as Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” or Nicki Minaj’s “Your Love”, and underground club bangers, like Niki Istrefi’s “Chambers” or Pan Daijing’s “Very Uncomfortable, Please”, that will got you hooked no matter what. Moreover, the subtlety of the selection has the amazing power to remove the boundaries between mainstream and underground, giving a new complexity to a material that is by definition accessible while making what is uncommon and less-known familiar as well. I know that including a release which basically consists in a work of mixing and filtering in a series of review may seem a little unorthodox but, since I consider mixing tracks as a proper art, I think that Vs. (which I hope to become a serial release as well) undeniably deserves a spot on Weekly Soundscape for the fantasy and the creativity behind it (other than the technical skills necessary to realize such a smooth mix). And since we are all poor af and need good music to dance our sadness away go here and download it for free!
Artist: Soft As Snow
Album: Deep Wave
I don’t know about you, but I personally grew tired of the synth-pop/synth-wave revival that has progressively hit the indie rock scene since 2004 and made a horde of white kids leave their Fender Telecaster behind in favor of KORG microKORG (or an Arturia Minibrute) and cheap drum-machines. Not only because just like Stranger Things and other recent product of the die-hard 80’s revival (please, make it stop) has made millennials think that the music of that decade was all good (it was not, watch the season finale of South Park twenty-first season if you don’t trust me), but mainly for the fact that, in time, the banal use that has been made of these “new” instruments has started to completely flatten the music palettes of an enormous amount of bands and musicians. That is why I have fallen in love with the debut album of the Norwegian duo known as Soft as Snow has released on Houndstooth: because their approach to the genre and the instruments that define it is fresh. Although they have a clear love for dark, cold atmospheres, they rely on a great variety of solutions to create them, choosing an approach that is raw, essential and daring, instead of the polished (and boring) minimalism that many uses to mask the lack of ideas. The preferences for dreamy voices, dirty drums, noise, drones and abrasive filters also reveals that their source of inspiration is not only limited to the 80’s new-wave (read New Order) but also comes from the late 70’s industrial and krautrock, the 90’s post-industrial, old-school techno and IDM, which they have introjected and re-elaborated into an original, avant-(synth-)pop sound that doesn’t feel derivative at all. If you feel just a little bit like me about the state of synth-wave nowadays, you will definitely adore this thirteen-track dose of dark euphoria to dance until your feet hurts.
Label: Collapsing Market
During his prolific music career Belgian producer ssaliva has distinguished himself for his ability to shift between a lot of different musical styles, re-inventig his sound release after release but if I had to find a constant element in his discography (other then the changing itself) I would definitely pick the warm dynamism that pervades even his less house-y works. That is why I’ve been surprised by the pensive stillness he has developed in WYIN, his latest fatigue, released via the French label Collapsing Market. All the elements of his music palette get tinier, more opaque, and are led to do a series of small movements, creating a microscopic cascade of pads, percussions, and drones, that placidly caress your ears until it collapses. However, there is not only delicacy in this but also an increasing sense of anxiety constantly echoing in the background, that explodes at the center of the album and then slowly fades away as it ends. All these elements contribute to creating a strong sense of intimacy and depth and will allow you to dive gently into the inner world of this poliedric artists. To listen with care.