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White Noise

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Q3A - Space Chamber

Hungarian producer Gergely Szilveszter Horváth, better known as Route 8, has made an impressive name for himself over the past few years with his melancholy brand of deep house. Combining raw drum workouts with subdued, emotive melodies, his best work for Lobster Theremin and Nous hits a sweet spot between the dancefloor and the heart.

Last year Horváth first donned his techno-leaning Q3A moniker (apparently a reference to the influence of videogame Quake 3 Arena) on promising new label Black Venison. Now he picks up where he left off for Delsin, on a functional four-tracker that showcases all his best traits.

Horváth’s blueprint is clear: a machine-fed rhythm with fearsome low-end is layered with a dreamy ambient wash and subtle flashes of brighter melody. Each untitled cut here plays out this formula with slight alterations. The A1 is as glacial as they come, with a mammoth kick and glittering keys, while the B1 rides on a swift elastic bassline and a synth melody that soars past like so many shimmering birds in sunlight.

The EP’s other two cuts toy a little more with the recipe. The A2 is the toughest club cut on show, with a crunchy breakbeat and a melody sunk deep into the mix, while the standout final track uses an 808 electro snap and a growling bassline to keep things fresh. Space Chamber’s tracks are solid club cuts but they lack the emotional punch of some of his best work. Still, while they may not break the Route 8 mould, they certainly continue to prove why that mould was so appealing in the first place.


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Monday, 25 January 2016

Shanti Celeste - Being

Label: Future Times

The town of Bristol on the UK’s south-west coast has always had an influence on the electronic scene that belies its size. Following its reggae roots and the birth of trip hop, recent years have seen the establishment of some of the UK’s most essential imprints in Bristol such as Livity Sound and Idle Hands, founded on the fertile tectonic boundary of soundsystem culture and 4/4 dance. A result of this unique intersection of ideas is the central concern with bass found in a lot of the city’s dance music. Bristol’s producers seek to exploit the low frequencies so that they provide more than just added muscle.

It’s not just the old guard who keeps Bristol’s music scene so vibrant. A slew of new labels such as Hotline and BRSTL have been keeping the city’s output fresh and the quality control very high, and local producer Shanti Celeste has had a big part to play in this. While grounded in Bristol’s house sound, her productions have always set their sights beyond, taking in a range of influences and styles from beyond the coastal city.

It is somewhat fitting then that what is probably Celeste’s best record to date has come out on a US imprint, Max D’s reliable stable for new age house experimentations, Future Times. Having contributed one of the highlights on last year’s Vibes 3 compilation, now Celeste brings out her first solo record for the label, Being.

The title track could be a religious rave anthem, its sharp church organ stabs and punchy rhythm all wrapped in an elastic bassline that keeps up a constant pressure and highlights the glittering synthwork. The quality of these melodies comes to the fore on the Ambient Mix as they shimmer through thick reverb, standing strong even without a rhythmic backbone. B-side Good Spirits taps into Celeste’s growing interest in electro, all staccato claps and subtle clicks, where a dramatic intro gives way to a taut snap and searing scifi melodies.

Celeste’s output becomes more assured and impressive with each successive release, as she alights on a personal sound born of, but not limited to, the rich musical history of her surroundings.


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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Bianca Chandon Presents &Co - Best Of Friends

Label: Bianca Chandon

Listen to EP clips here

While it could be said that all great art has a story behind it, this is not always the case in the electronic music world. The best novels and poems can be the fruit of sudden epiphanies, incredible life experiences or years of labouring in obscurity. Rather unromantically, the best dance tracks are often the product of someone sitting hunched over a PC in their bedroom at 5am. But how much does a great narrative really add to our enjoyment of a piece?

It’s true that sometimes our finest records come from an unusual place. One might mention that this EP combines the talents of skater/ society boy Alex Olson, Sarcastic Disco’s Paul T and film composer Alberto Bof. Maybe add that it’s all released under the banner of Olson’s fashion label side-project Bianca Chandon. Or you could just say it’s the work of three friends who’ve spent a lot of time chilling out together on Venice beach. Either way, when the sound is this good, it’s easy to leave the story behind and focus on the music.

Two ten-minute epics occupy either side of the wax, mining a slo-mo disco sound with a tough acid streak. Best Of Friends lays down a tough kick and then contrasts a gurgling 303 with crystalline piano keys, perfectly balancing elegance and menace. B-side Wine Cooler is the real party-starter though, where a long jazzy build drops into an irresistible disco stomp. The two tracks are accessorised with a few filter sweeps and mix-friendly in/outros, but the pure funk coursing through these tunes is more than enough reason to get on board. There’s even a bonus acid workout included, but it doesn’t add much to the original package.

Nu-disco with actual substance, acid that doesn’t leave behind the funk, it’s a surprising and well-executed release that leaves us hoping that this unlikely trio will get together more often.


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Monday, 18 January 2016

Khotin - Baikal Acid

Label: 1080p

Few local scenes have caused a stir in recent years like the house sound coming out of Canada’s west coast. There’s a gentle, daydreaming quality to the hardware jams that have coalesced around labels like Mood Hut and 1080p that proves irresistible, with producers eking out the softer fringes of acid, jazz and new age.

Vancouver transplant Dylan Khotin is a strong example, announcing himself with releases on 1080p and Normals Welcome emotionally situated between dewy melancholy and misty-eyed optimism. While local affiliates such as Pender Street Steppers, Project Pablo or Florist keep a touch of humanity front and centre in their productions, using voices and acoustic instrumentation, there is something decidedly mechanical about Khotin’s productions, like the songs of love and loss that machines would write to one another.

 In Recycle (5AM Reflection Mix) everything is descending: hollow drum hits and glistening synthwork, a burbling acid bassline and a distant whirring like a spacecraft failing to take off. It’s wistful material, the synths flowing into a pool of shimmering reverb, emphasised on the beatless Drift Mix beside the lapping of waves on the shore.

The B-side holds material more primed for the dancefloor, with highlight Human Voice beaming out new age synthwork over clattering cymbals and the distant sound of celestial chipmunks. Meanwhile the final title cut is more introspective, a busy rhythm writhing under an uncertain synth motif, before a yearning melody emerges for the track’s second half. It’s a convincing statement for both Khotin and 1080p for the new year, wintery music for contemplating grey skies and hushed dancefloors.


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Friday, 15 January 2016

Omar Souleyman - Heli Yuweli

Label: Trilogy Tapes

The rise of Omar Souleyman in the western musical world is a kind of cross-cultural fairy tale. A Syrian performer known for raucous dabke improvisations at weddings, Souleyman achieved international recognition in 2007 on an American compilation and now, exiled from his conflict-riven homeland, he tours the world’s music festivals and collaborates with some of the dance scene’s brightest stars.

This ascent has born two albums, ‘Wenu Wenu’ in 2013 and last year’s ‘Bahdeni Nami’, the first produced by Four Tet and the latter with a range of producers including Modeselektor and Gilles Peterson. Thus far these European names have steered clear of changing too much of Souleyman’s sound, tidying the production here, beefing up a kick there, elongating the track times to suit western dance tastes. This is perhaps due to respect for the artist and the conventional role of a music producer, but the fact that the crème of European DJs didn’t leave any fingerprints on Souleyman’s sound also feels a little like an opportunity missed.

When real remixes have emerged, rather than production credits, from the likes of Legowelt or Crackboy, they’ve worked well, and hinted at new avenues in the emerging exploration of Arabic sounds in European dance music. Enter Trilogy Tapes and their shadowy lofi militia Rezzett, who, in a willingness to rip the original apart without respect for its fidelity or structure, have made something exciting and new.

The Souleyman original takes up the A-side, and it’s as good as the best cuts on his 2015 LP. On Heli Yuweli (“let him leave”) Souleyman wishes somewhat cruelly for the departure of a girl who has hurt him, accompanied by a slamming 4/4 and some typically dextrous keyboard workouts by affiliate Rizan Sa’id. It’s sweaty party music that shows exactly why ‘the other Omar S’ has gone down such a storm at western clubs.

On their first remix, Rezzett lay the acapella over a crushed rhythm and grainy synths that bubble to the surface, showing just how well the duo pair a punk approach to audio fidelity with curiously emotive keys. They do one better on the Rerezz, which turns Souleyman’s voice into distant radio crackle as wistful pads haunt the snare-heavy drumwork like mist. It’s spacey, mesmerising, and totally Rezzett. More confirmation, as if it was needed, that the most interesting results of artistic collaboration often come from a willingness to tear it up and start again.


Rough translation of the lyrics (the 'him' that Souleyman is addressing is his love for a woman):

‘Let him leave/ he filled my heart with wounds/ I’ll let God punish him, he deserves it / I gave him my heart and my soul / let him leave, so I don't see him/ so my hand doesn’t touch his/ let him leave, so I don't see him / let him live the rest of his life crying in grief / regret is useless / why does he want to cause me more grief and pain, let him leave, let him leave’

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