This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
White Noise: September 2011

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Braille – A Meaning EP

A Meaning



With only a single release to his name so far (the excellent The Year 3000 from earlier this year), Praveen Sharma found a high place in my good books early on. You can’t really judge an artist from one single, but add to his credentials his place in the roster of the on-point Hotflush label, and the fact that he is one half of NYC bass duo Sepalcure (a White Noise favourite) along with Travis Stewart (Machinedrum), and it wasn’t hard to work out good things were to come from Sharma’s debut EP.

Lead single A Meaning lays Sharma’s intentions bare early on; within 10 seconds the first vocal sample states “House music” with an authority, and in a post-dubstep landscape where two-step is the hot sound (aside from Berlin’s ongoing love affair with the 4/4 beat), these immaculate house constructions are welcome and satisfyingly stable. However Sharma hasn’t abandoned the staples of what Sepalcure’s EPs just so good in the first place, these are house tracks that continue the high standard of perfectly tuned production and brilliantly nuanced details throughout, these tracks just happen to also be more danceable than Sepalcure’s tricky numbers.

Back to A Meaning, we hear a solid beat coupled with a glorious range of percussive detail, best heard on a good system (even better in a club, no doubt). The vocal line’s woozy pitchshift adds crunk flavourings but never derail this precise and simple track. Second track Riverbed offers a pacier and more subtle listen. Out of place tribal drums undermine expectations at the start but rapidly give way to a fantastically driven beat with a gorgeous rising synth-line that knocks the whole composition slightly off-kilter and ups the tempo, just before the track settles into a super-satisfying and beautifully detailed groove. After the first track which was admirable in its simplicity, it’s gratifying to hear a more complex composition that still packs a powerful dancefloor punch.

Things get even better with my personal favourite cut coming next, the emotive and forceful Breakup. The punchy beat contrasts fantastically with sped-up soul keys, and the achingly universal vocal line “why should we break up” gives way to a lush and powerful sound that isn’t quite topped elsewhere on the EP. Final cut Chain Gang is quicker but also contains more space, with rough tones and plinking keys gliding over a deep sub-bass pulse.

My expectations were high for this release but Sharma has proved himself a powerful force without Stewart’s co-production. Especially notable is how successful he is in combining the warm tones of the house beats with the woozy synths and choppy samples of today’s bass scene. It’s a stellar debut, every track has a steady supply of gorgeous details to admire for the bass and house-heads at home, while needless to say it’s an essential release for any DJs looking for something fresh.


Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, 12 September 2011

Hudson Mohawke – Satin Panthers

Thunder Bay


All Your Love

Ross Birchard's first album, Butter, showed a bright new day-glo angle on the choppy weirdness infecting contemporary dancefloors, but the LP was seriously bloated and could have done with some major quality control. It was gloriously strange, but too often the individual tracks felt ultimately dismissable. With this new EP, the hope was that Hudmo could refine his sound and achieve something more coherent, while retaining his indomitable energy and those weird noises that make you shiver. He has in part succeeded, crafting a far more disciplined and impressive release, but it still falls short of brilliance.

It's easy to start positively, there are some really great tracks here, and Hudmo is impressively just as at home with or without vocals. Thunder Bay has a gloriously meaty bass (introduced by a weaker, false bass that mischievously undermines the listener's expectations) and impressively precise percussion pushing the tempo. The track later launches into a dancey synth breakdown, with today's club staple of choppy vocals relegated to a passing (but excellent) detail. It's a concise track with a great deal of force behind it, and shows Hudmo at his best. Follower Cbat is even better, and takes the crown of standout track with its stripped and unnerving composition. Seriously strange synths create a downright dirty vibe (in the best sense of the word), while on-point drums punctuate the weirdness, lending the track a sinuous groove.

Even when the soundfield is fuller, as in follow-up All Your Love, the sounds still have a crushed, electronic aftertaste which goes part of the way to explaining how listening to Hudmo's productions is a little like listening to a sugar rush, and the position the listener will take on this is entirely subjective. One could find the organic house piano that melts into low-bit noise and back again a brilliant touch, courting those fluttering digital synths, but in my own listening I too often feel the EP is more like the darker side of the sugar rush; a shallow energy stretched over an unsubtle emotive drive. Final track Thank You is a full-throttle chopathon, sounding a little like an ADHD kid tried going for an 'epic' vibe, but again I guess whether all the energy is too much will be up to the listener. Meanwhile opener Octan is nice but feels cursory and little more than a warm-up for the EP proper, all shimmering arpeggiated synths and building bass that ultimately goes nowhere.

I do have problems with his general sound, however. Part of this synthetic approach results in a fair amount of unoccupied space besides the main bass and synth lines, with the unfortunate result that when the music slows (like Thunder Bay's breakdown) the whole composition feels quite thin and depthless. I feel this could perhaps lead the listener to think there's not much to these tracks besides the obvious noises, which is kind in a sense true, but again it's up to the individual whether that bothers you or not.

Not to say this is a weak release. Some will welcome his playful energy, and there's certainly an effervescent brightness you don't see in much contemporary electronic music, and Hudmo has stated in interviews he's trying to bring the light back into the genre. But this goes without wondering if perhaps there is a darker streak in electronic music for a reason. Granted, these tracks are upbeat but fantastically composed, yet their out and out happiness (besides the decidedly seedy Cbat) can make them feel unwanted in some moods and also in some ways disposable. It occurs to me that evoking happiness should not cost the music emotional weight, so perhaps it's down to Mohawke's less subtle approach to emotion in his tracks (his production skills are fantastic but not especially subtle either) that these songs feel ultimately a little weightless.

This EP doesn't have the longevity of an electronic classic, but it feels fresh and exciting nonetheless, and it's clearly brilliantly produced. On the first few listens the audio acrobatics on display here alone are dazzlingly wonderful, but I felt the tracks didn't keep me coming back for more. It's clear that Hudmo has upped his game, bringing a new discipline to his already awe-inspiring production skills, but the sound doesn't quite come off as a whole. Perhaps a closer look at crafting music with both an emotional weight and an aural substance would improve what's to come, but his clear drive to reflect and improve upon what he has done before shows that my desire for a rethink may not be in vain.


Labels: , ,