DISPLACER: Curse of the Black Vinyl LP Hymen Records / Crime League
As a partner in crime to Michael Morton’s ‘The Curse of the Black Lotus EP, we finally see the curse passed to its vinyl counterpart, that had been scheduled for release for some time now.
This mini album encompasses all that is good with Displacer, with an array of mixes and some unreleased numbers, covering some of the multitude of electronic genres that Morton dabbles with.
The opening Hologram mix of ‘Rzla’ is the perfect introduction, with a tense piano line drawing the listener into the scratching magnetism of DJ Swamp’s tear up of ‘Black Lotus’. ‘Freefall’ takes the simplicity of arpeggiated synth dancing along its merry path, whilst the undercurrent of beats and bass give foundation to its rise and fall; and for me displays Morton at his understated best.
There is an element of cool that permeates Displacer’s catalogue with relative ease. This aura transcends genre; and it is this that provides much of the accessibility he provides to a wider audience. ‘Unbreakable’ rams home this point, as it seals this 7 track long chapter in Michael’s career. Long may it continue.
ÅKE PARMERUD: Nécropolis CD Empreintes Digitales
This is the third solo outing for Sweden’s Parmerud. Throughout the years he has built himself a name as a prominent sound experimentalist; and this of course is a double-edged sword.
On one hand he clearly knows what he is doing; and once again he has the knack of occasionally displaying sparks of brilliance. When delving into soundtrack territory, he creates epic and colossal torrents of bombastic fury. However, on the flip side of the coin, he does fiddle around a little too much with obscurity; and it smacks of someone attempting to appear cleverer than they actually are.
‘Nécropolis’ is one of those albums, that ironically shines at its brightest when his talents are focussed centrally on Dark Ambient undercurrents. Unfortunately these are just momentary leanings; and Parmerud simply cannot help but tear things apart with too much experimentation. The upshot of this is that tracks are not allowed to settle or bed in; and the haphazard nature of his work doesn’t allow the listener to warm to the albums’ strengths.
ASHER LEVITAS: Lit Harness LP/CD Planet Mu
Mainly known for his work with UK experimentalists Old Apparatus; Levitas has here, produced his first solo album, from a project he formulated in 2015.
Basing his debut album on themes of extreme emotion, this translates well into the music on offer. For the most part this is translated as varying degrees of darkness, with layers of pitch resonating alongside the odd vocal sample and organic interplay.
The end result captures waves of Dark Ambient, ethereal electronics and an ability to switch mood into lighter shades of grey as well as the blackest of blacks. Harmony plays its part on expressive numbers such as ‘Waiting by an Open Door’; where the turmoil of previous numbers, are allowed to settle as dust amongst rising emphatic waves of sound.
‘Lit Harness’ is like a boxer that doesn’t do anything spectacular, but wins by generally being good at everything he attempts. Nothing on this release will have you screaming from the rooftops, but it will sit well as a solid safe pair of hands; and in this day and age, that is more than you can ask for when considering splashing out on your hard earned cash.
KONX-OM-PAX: Caramel LP/CD Planet Mu
‘Caramel’ is the follow up to this Glaswegian artist’s 2011 ‘Regional Surrealism; which had a press release that smacked of something out of the film ‘Trainspotting’.
Lighter in tone and mood, no longer influenced by the grim surroundings of concrete flats and junkies; this latest release is openly proud of its cheesy synth sounds, 80’s computer game electronic tinged tunes and a distinct nod to rave culture.
For the most part, this latest album is surprisingly beat free. Concentrating on rhythm created purely by synth, leaves ‘Caramel’ sounding like the soundtrack to a future created by such programmes as ‘Tomorrows World’; which in turn however, does limit the listening appeal overall to a somewhat smaller audience.
This is no less a colourful album, which provides and aural kaleidoscope of sound; occasionally drawing on feel good themes that resonate from a distance, as if hearing them from a faraway stage in a field at dusk in the height of summer. This is in turn one of the albums strongest selling points, even if this means selling it solely to those who live and breathe early 90’s rave nostalgia.
LAWRENCE ENGLISH: Approaching Nothing CD Baskaru
I have encountered many works by Lawrence English; and more often than not, have found myself impressed. Bearing this in mind, I was quite eager to set my ears upon this latest piece of work.
‘Approaching Nothing’, is one long 30-minute track. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t contain any music; and is in fact, one long pointless piece of field recordings.
English has fallen into the trap that so many people have when venturing into this genre. For all the artistic press bumpf that accompanies the work; it all becomes a tiring exercise in nonsense. I cannot even be bothered giving the inane explanation for this recording, as it is nothing but a collection of random environmental sounds; and no amount of artistic posturing is going to make it any other than what it is.
The true disgrace with an album like this; is that there are many talented artists out there striving to get signed to a label, whilst Baskaru are wasting the planet’s resources on drivel like this. If I hadn’t already encountered English and some of the remarkable work he is responsible for in the past; I wouldn’t be giving his name the time of day in the future, if I were just basing his musical career on this travesty.
LAURENT PERRIER: Plateforme #2 CD Baskaru
Perrier has delivered here, the second instalment in his ‘Plateforme’ series. Once again he has created tracks from sound sources submitted by different artists. The first instalment walked a fine line between being something worthy of note, or something that got chucked in the bin; and I cannot help feel but that this is floating on the same ship.
Once again there is more than a fair share of glitch and ambient interruptions to keep this album just about interesting enough. Statically charged bursts of sound tiptoe and trip over rumbling earthy Dark Ambience; and when these excursions come to light, they can be pleasurable.
I will give Perrier credit; he could have destroyed this album entirely with a talentless collection of field recordings. However, he has chosen to sculpt and build the sounds into something more; and in some respects it marginally does a better job than its predecessor.
SOLO ANDATA: In the Lens CD 12k
This is Solo Andata’s fourth full-length album and unbelievably the first I have encountered personally. Taking a bed of Dictaphone recordings and analogue instrumentation, this Australian duo blend and break these mediums into a pleasant and enriching mix of subtle, yet space absorbing ambience.
Along the way, SA play with textures and audio remnants of other genres. As an example, the droning tones of ‘Separate Lovers’, nod at a distant drawn out Jazz key, rather than going the whole hog, whereas ‘Porcelain Blue’ draws on late May Day evenings as silhouettes dance with ribbons in the haze of a setting sun.
‘In the Lens’ is a rich and engrossing affair; and is one of those late afternoon or Summer at dusk recordings where it is all too easy to sit and reminisce about past encounters and what may or may not have been.