Last year long-standing Erased Tapes artist Rival Consoles released the Odyssey EP, his sixth outing with the London-based avant-garde label. We noted its “warm, sumptuous chords” and praised its consistent diversity. In the 12 months since Odyssey, he’s been busy travelling and performing, taking on a US tour and supporting Luke Abbot across the UK in conjunction with the latter’s Wysing Forest release. Sonne, therefore, comes as a weighty surprise, a full body of work after months of silence.
“Sonne” kicks into life with an exuberantly high-pitched synth riff in flighty 3/4, urgent triplets giving the piece pace and nervous tension. A minute and a half in and the track takes on a new life, as rich electronic chords evoke notions of a sort of modern baroque style – a thick swathe of synthetic organ sound coming off like a neo harpsichord. A sheen of open cutoff closes the piece like the blinding light of suddenly opened curtains on a summer’s morning. “3 Chords” is a misnomer, as Rival Consoles does in fact use more than the titular number; that said, the second is only introduced more than two minutes in. Picking different points up and down the line, he builds a steady, growing beat around a single pattern of notes. Bass notes throb while higher pitches glisten and swell. An interesting attempt at minimalism, it succeeds emotionally if not literally. “Helios” is an even greater success – coming off like a slower, more jubilant version of James Holden’s “10101”, it clicks and shakes with rumbling fizz before exploding into an overwhelming barrage of pomp and celebration, rattling drums and a wall of fuzz instilling the feeling of a raucous party atmosphere. “Haunt” is more delicate, then, its warped and elongated synths hinting at deeper yearning, perhaps a telling emotion after such heady delights.
Things head towards a frantic climax with “Think Tank”, which is almost straightforwardly club worthy with its dead-on 4/4 approach. A Boards of Canada-esque wobbling synth line just keeps its heartbreaking mood, while chirruping effects feel like far-off birdsong. “Recovery” closes the release with stacatto synths rolling back and forth, pushing towards a frenetic tempo in unpredictable fashion. While the sonics of Sonne might not be all that different to those of Odyssey, the ideas and emotion that shape each track here demonstrate a clear step forward for Rival Consoles. Developing his sound without straying from his established identity, he’s managed to bring together the head and heart in perfect balance.
Rival Consoles – Sonne is out now on Erased Tapes. Buy here.
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 30 October 2014. Leave a comment
Up from the all but evidently staying rabbit hole of seapunk, the style which the producer at hand is widely accredited for birthing a few years back, is innovator Albert Redwine, better known as Ultrademon, with his latest offering The .XVX Files. Considering the stylistic qualities inherent in the aforementioned aesthetic and the forward thinking ethos of the host label Hyperboloid, ran by a tripartite of Russian artists including Pixelord, this EP seems a just fit, and maybe even over due. Clashing a multitude of genre principles and reorganizing elements into lurid, lively productions—generally speaking, the seapunk M.O., for those under rocks—goes the still maturing legacy of Ultrademon, which is a formula not all that deviating from Hyperboloid. Contrary to the beginning comment regarding attribution, The .XVX Files isn’t explicitly purported by the currently Chicago-stationed producer as seapunk (the title nondescript compared to Redwine’s proper opus Seapunk)—it seems he’s lost care or interest in furthering the mass reception of such an overt pigeonhole, and in line with that, our appeal to artists is often predicated on musical reasons, and not sociological or sartorial in conjunction. That said, this EP is as big of a foot forward for Ultrademon as four tracks can represent.
Funny enough, Ultrademon opens the EP released October 9 with an aquatic-tinged jumper. As the track might titularly indicate, “Try Faking It” doesn’t bother to meander or elude. Here, the producer lays a floating, sticky riff and skitters hi hats off the bat before adding on one more melodic line, this one closely reminiscent of something from Dubbel Dutch or Dre Skull’s dancehall repertoire. “Docudrama,” in which the producer takes a turn to indulge in gun cocks and idiosyncratic break beats, feels less slippery but even more sunkissed and beach-inflecting—it makes Lockah’s habitual neon seem like pastel. As it turns out, the EP in its entirety encapsulates as much as it provokes good vibes and a popping dance floor, as opposed to a presentation of tracks that are spun in garish, emotional ambiguity or even more, apocalyptic in sound (“Wasteland” on the preceding album Voidic Charms for example). The EP takes no break in being juicy, fun, and upbeat.
Mørkeblå’s Nowhere, OK caught our attention with some vigour earlier this year. A stirring release on the excellent Where To Now? label – it was confounding, nightmarish and chilling. The Italian producer’s latest effort is a full-length cassette release for Reckno called Pisces Sun, Capricorn Rising. It expands on his bizarrely affective approach to droning soundscapes, venturing into dance floor territories and imbuing the whole release with a sense of dread by way of carefully chosen vocal samples from the likes of True Detective. Ahead of its release we’ve been given the opportunity to share a remix from the release by Swedish producer 1991, whose work has featured on Astro:Dynamics and Opal Tapes. “The Coldness Of A Jack-in” is an intense, lengthy techno workout where synth lines shift from minor to major and kick patterns develop and mutate with total disregard for regular structure. 1991’s take focuses on the minor chords, adding layers of grain and sludge and slicing riffs apart before phasing in some thick but understated percussion. It’s narcotic and melancholic in equal measure, and we’re delighted to share it with you.
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 28 October 2014. Leave a comment
Considering Mumdance and Logos have been responsible for some of our favourite productions over the last couple of years, we were particularly excited and intrigued to hear that the trailblazing duo are commissioning a brand new imprint together; Different Circles. Both artists have made significant innovations with their work in and around the grime spectrum, fueling our anticipation of what may become an essential label to keep tabs on. Logos, with his Kowloon EP, helped usher in a new era of experimentalism; exploring splintered drum structures at lower tempos in combination with the icy glint of eski’s distinct palette. His first full length, Cold Missions, continued on this trajectory and presented us with one of the most vital albums of last year. Mumdance, meanwhile, is everywhere you look at the moment, and with the crossover success of the Novelist vocalled “Take Time” on Rinse, he grabbed the scene by the scruff of the neck and helped propel the more abstract and inventive side of grime production to new audiences. The pair have also combined to deadly effect on records for Tectonic and Keysound, and if their output as label curators comes close to matching their stellar work as musicians, we’ll be in for a treat with Different Circles.
Weightless Volume One enlists some of the stars from the vast talent pool of producers that soundtrack dancefloors at nights like Boxed with such a weird and wonderful array of sounds, textures and colours. The “weightless” title is noted as “a term to describe the sound, tracing the liquid space between spectral grime, sound design & electronic experimentation”. Each track is near enough beatless, and though sections of Mumdance’s recent sets have included work in this vein, the theme of the release caught us pleasantly off-guard. The inclusions are even further from conventional club music than you might have expected, especially for a vinyl-only run. The idea of weightlessness in club music is an interesting one, vaguely reminiscent of the almost levitating force you’d experience from the proper physical basslines of classic dubstep on hefty soundsystems. The tracks here, though, achieve the sensation through lacking nearly any percussive structure; melodies and soundscapes drift like falling leaves, unanchored by regular drum patterns. You could draw comparisons with the devil mixes born out of classic grime, but these are detailed, vivid compositions built specifically as standalone tracks, rather than fully constructed with the drums removed retrospectively. Take another virtuoso effort from Dark0, “Sweetboy Tears”, with its soaring riffs and solitary hi-hat every eight bars making you feel like you’re suspended in a glorious three minute intro that never fully breaks, or Inkke’s jaunty, giddy synths on “Love Song” that effervesce over a dubby bassline. They offer up so much in terms of rhythm through melody, harmonies and sound design that they captivate your attention entirely.
The collaborative effort between Mumdance, Logos and Rabit entitled “Inside the Catacomb” distills a darker atmosphere, imbued with pure futuristic menace. This track is the closest the release gets to any kind of percussive regularity. Rabit’s “More Memories” is markedly different to a lot his previously released material, with the wistful drift of the synths and the plunging roll of the bassline providing an altogether smoother ride than some of his jagged club beats. Murlo contributes a rush of liquid energy with “Geist”, perhaps the most danceable track in the EP, and Strict Face’s creates deep space stasis with haunting leads and all-encompassing sub-frequencies on “Python Crossing”. The latter really is a work of art, arguably the best on the record and goes to show why Different Circles are so excited to have a full EP from the young Australian producer earmarked for their third release. These beatless constructions provide such a wicked interjection to sets in a club environment, creating almost surreal, otherworldly moments on the ‘floor, but it’s also great to the tracks getting a release so we can get lost in them in our own time. Logos and Mumdance are definitely onto something here, and whilst the next two releases will be a Logos EP and a Strict Face EP respectively, fingers crossed a Volume Two crops up at some point as well.
Weightless Volume One will be released on the 17th of November and can be pre-ordered here.
Words by Oli Grant, 23 October 2014. Leave a comment
Sasu Ripatti is, by definition, a veteran of electronic music. His work as Luomo saw him lauded at the turn of the century with the seminal vocal house LP Vocalcity. He has also ventured into minimal techno as Sistol, but it’s as Vladislav Delay where the majority of his work lies. It’s also arguably his most captivating work. The fantastic Multila would pave the way for much of Ripatti’s later work, mostly glitchy ambient techno which perhaps peaked at 2007’s Whistleblower. VISA, however, takes a step back from the glitchiness and the beats that defined his earlier works and takes Vladislav Delay to the most decidedly ambient it’s been as a project for a very long time.
We’re told that VISA was created by Ripatti after he was denied entry to the United States for a tour. He took the opportunity of having a few weeks free to create new music and VISA was the product. The album is came about as a result of his excess creative energies following the tour cancellation, “a valve broke open… and I collected what came out the pipes” is how Ripatti described the process of creating the record. VISA is undeniably full of interesting ideas and creates textured soundscapes and head spaces that feel stuck somewhere between a forest in winter and a dream-like mechanical afterlife. In other words, it achieves in creating sounds that feel as organic as they do artificial and this contrast makes it a mesmeric record.
Clocking in at nearly 23 minutes, the album opener “Visatron” is an indicator of the mindset that Ripatti was in when the album was created. It’s melancholic, droning, looping, at times discordant and at times not, but it is without a doubt engaging for the duration. It’s comprised mainly of a number of different loops that are blended into each other, somewhat akin to Ripatti and others’ live sets. With the narrative behind the album, that he’d been deprived of performing his live sets for a few weeks, its understandable that he’d construct something that isn’t too dissimilar from one. That continuity is present in the whole album, it flows and transitions almost seamlessly as we’re taken into “Viaton”. It’s full of contrasts as the track starts as muted and organic and builds into mechanical, glitchy drone before ebbing back to calm.
“Viisari” feels like the most urgent track on the record. Here you really get the sense of Ripatti trying to capture his brimming ideas which bounce and click with sublime exigency. That Ripatti “collected what came out the pipes” to create the album is none more evident here. But while that might suggest that Viisari is simply ideas thrown together, it is instead rather cohesive. “Vihollinen” (and indeed the whole record) has shades of Tim Hecker’s Radio Amor with its thunderous drones punctuated with static, ominous repetitive piano chord and indistinguishable vocalisations which could well have been lifted from radio airwaves. The tail end of the ten minute track descends into distorted gunshot-like stabs creating an atmosphere in the track that is in equal parts unsettling as it is beautiful. It isn’t surprising that the track title translates from Finnish as “The Enemy”, showing Ripatti’s aggravation with the situation. Ultimately the piece stands out in the album as feeling the most personal and emotional, a quality that has often distinguished Ripatti’s music from his peers (“Tessio” from Vocalcity being a masterclass in how to make house music dripping with emotion). The final track “Viimeinen” (figuratively ‘The Last’ in Finnish) is the shortest and most understated on the album. It’s lush, light and looping and bring the record to a satisfyingly calm conclusion. It doesn’t feel dragged out and that can be said for VISA as a whole. None of the tracks feel superfluous at any point, nor do they overstay their welcome.
It’s not very often that an artist as established as Ripatti delivers one of their finest works to date, seemingly out of nowhere, but he’s done exactly that with VISA. Ambient music can at times feel like it veers too far into the abstract which for some can be off-putting, feeling too detached from reality to create any emotional connection with the listener. The record being borne of frustration means that VISA feels like an inherently personal record. It eschews this emotional detachment that can plague ambient records that may theoretically be solid but ultimately lack that certain something. Ripatti has the uncanny ability to make 10 minutes feel like half that, creating intricacies and details that may be missed first time round but are what keeps the listener captivated. Ambient has enjoyed a stellar year so far with the likes of Kyle Bobby Dunn, M. Geddes Gengras, Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet all providing ample listening as the nights begin to draw in, but it’s Vladislav Delay who has provided what could well end up being the finest ambient record of the year. He is undoubtedly back to his very best and we couldn’t be happier about it.
Words by Antoin Lindsay, 22 October 2014. Leave a comment