VENETIAN SNARES: Traditional Synthesizer Music 2xLP/CD Planet Mu / Timesig
Aaron Funk has always been guilty of saturating the market he resides in; with what seems to be a million and one releases to his name. The majority of his work is quality though with just a few rare duds to his name and that has to be commended.
This latest album does exactly what it says on the tin. Modular synthesizers are performed live, then treated and folded amongst a bed of breaks and beats; culminating in some of the most musical work I have come across in his lengthy career.
Funk has always been a law unto himself and a key component of his longevity is a haphazard and sporadic variation from album to album. ‘Traditional Synthesizer Music’ is by and large a less in your face and ultimately more tangible release that would also appeal to the more casual observer as well as the steadfast Snares diehard.
Complex, yet understated and less over the top than a lot of what we are used to, Aarons modular weapon of choice makes for a warming and pleasant array of tunes that display a new level of attention to harmonies, that are sometimes sorely lacking within his many breakcore assaults; and here the electronic bleeps and twangs are tinged with a poppy edge, displaying an entire new level of madness.
If anything, this latest output almost parallels Aphex Twin in his path to ‘Syro’, sound wise; and could quite well rank as one of Funk’s most accomplished and enjoyable collection of songs to date.
MLADA FRONTA: Outrun CD M-Tronic
In a lengthy career that has spanned just over 2 decades, Rémy Pelleschi’s Mlada Fronta is back, reinvigorated and rejuvenated with a futuristic sounding album based on retro sensibilities (I am sure I don’t have to go into any formalities surrounding the arcade game, that is this albums namesake, right?)
‘Melt Into the Road’ opens this release with rip-roaring gusto; with symphonic blasts of reverberated emphatic synths and 4-4 beats, that are aplomb with the glorification of riding a highway of digitalised palm trees, toward a seemingly never ending 8-bit US Gold horizon.
‘Outrun’ as a whole has an essential childlike evocative euphoria, wrapped in escapism, awash with essential hook-lines and a crisp production to match. Full-throttle 80’s racing becomes a platform for (what could possibly be) club hit after hit; as Pelleschi never detracts from the concept, nor indeed the essential qualities that will surely have feet stomping on many a dance-floor.
There is a simplicity to this album, but not one that detracts from the technicalities that Rémy possesses and has displayed in previous output. Indeed, the electronic wizardry he has articulately constructed on other releases has set him in good stead, for producing an album that is not the norm for him by any means; and his attention to detail beats many an artist writing in this genre hands down.
Sit back, place one hand on the virtual steering wheel, the other around the shoulders of your pixelated girlfriend; and let your foot hit the pedal hard for this soundtrack to your childhood.
BIT-TUNER: A Bit of Light 2xLP/CD -Ous
This is Bit-Tuner’s fifth full-length release along with a collection of EP’s and I am quite surprised at myself for not encountering his work before today.
Opening up with a mash-up of soundtrack washed pads, modern electronics with twang of slowed down Techno, ‘Ignition’ is an appropriate starting point for a first time listener, with it being an easy track to engage with one to one. Up next, the peculiar hip-hop/tribal hybrid of ‘The Call’, melds well with the following ‘Just’; a well-paced epic film score-like ensemble of futuristic pads with driving urban undertones.
From here on in, Bit-Tuner explores a whole plethora of electronic cultures and appears to have a firm grasp on how this varied meld of styles fits within his own bubble. There is a distinct underlying Dubstep feel to the pace of the majority of the tracks, no less assisted with bass heavy drops. However, regardless of the multitude of genres I could throw in here, there is no denying that there is an undercurrent of sound here at he makes all his own; and that has to be applauded.
‘A Bit of Light’, is undeniably an eclectic mix of sounds that have been transformed into a more tangible listening experience. Overall, this adds to the mix, where in some cases it’s unnerving and unsettling; yet with just enough familiarity to appeal to the fringes of those that like their music a touch more commercial.
LUCRECIA DALT: Ou LP Care Of Editions
Pulling on the works of New German Cinema, the direct filmic qualities have naturally filtered through to this, Dalt’s latest album, ‘Ou’. Indeed, as a reference point, she turned her studio into a screening room for the medium, drawing on influences from directors such as Helke Sander and Werner Schroeter.
There is a gentility to Lucrecia’s work that makes it immediately listenable and approachable. This is no mean feat considering the array of obscure noises and abstract oddities that she samples; however, this is offset with cherub like harmonies that draw on sub-IDM influences, allowing the cryptic noises to become more perceptible.
The last album I listened to by Lucrecia was the fantastic ‘Syzygy’; and in a lot of respects this latest album follows on from that slab of excellence. ‘Ou’ requires a touch more patience as it plays out as one long track if you let it (a little bit harder on vinyl I admit); but Dalt is aware that you cannot meander on one theme for too long, drawing on the more easy listening of sounds, before anything too weird capitalises on its chance to take over.
Once again I am impressed with her work and for me she is one of the unsung heroes out there in the world of understated electronic and ambient music. A truly glorious release in its entirety.
TRONDHEIM JAZZ ORCHESTRA/CHRISTIAN WALLUMRØD: Untitled Arpeggios and Pulses CD Hubro
Commissioned to compose work for the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra for the Kongsberg Jazz Festivals 50th celebration (yes, 50th); Wallumrød has rallied the throng to produce one 50 minute long ensemble of slowed down grinding pulses, that seep through a bizarre and sporadic stop-start collection of beats and brass instrumentation.
It is as bizarre, but unfortunately as drab as it sounds on paper. I applaud the effort made in coming together to produce such work and there is no doubt in my mind as to the collective, as well as individual skill each person brings to the table; it’s just that as a whole, this is quite a ludicrous soul-sapping spectacle to endure.
As much as I laughed out loud at certain points (which I am sure is not the result they were after) there was little for me to enjoy on a personal level. For once, I am also at a loss to how this works live, unless they’re billed as Kongsberg’s answer to alternative comedy.
IVAR GRYDELAND: Stop Freeze Wait Eat LP/CD Hubro
Grydeland’s second full-length solo album is strange beast overall and one that is quite hard to pigeonhole. Considering the array of instrumentation at his disposal and numerous press reports pencilling him as Jazz; I was more than surprised to find much of this album falling into Lo-Fi, ambient and glitch territory.
Guitar delays looped over loops make for a hypnotic journey; and a key element in Ivar’s success at this, is knowing when to stop and change course. There are moments on ‘Stop Freeze Wait Eat’ that leave the listener hanging in an aural cavern of nothingness, as wisps of machine head harmonies occasionally flutter past sporadically.
There is a method to the numbing serenity that Grydeland brings to the table; and whilst this might not be up everyone’s street, there is a lot to be said for listening to this album whilst sat looking outside a window on a miserable rainy day, such as I am now. If nothing else, it makes for a fitting soundtrack.
JOE EVANS: Elemental States CDr/DL Spectropol Records
The title of Evans’ latest work is pretty apt and the music on show does indeed fit the concept. The Tibetan chimes of opener ‘Fire 7 Plasma’ didn’t entirely endear this to me as it my immediate reaction was to think of Z’ev (and I hate the majority of his work). In fact most of the album does concentrate its efforts on chimes and gongs filtering their way through the element targeted for each particular track (for example: ‘Water 5 liquid’ has the source sound of running water).
I have no issue with concept albums; indeed I have no issue with the field-recording base to this (which may come as a surprise to anyone who reads my reviews, knowing I hate the medium). Evans has ensured that each recording is utilised to the degree it is needed to convey his conceptuality on the listener (and therefore done his work well).
My main issue with this release is that it’s all far too similar (maybe that is the idea), apart from the ambient overlay of ‘Ether 11 Virtual’ (which he could do more of for me, as this raised his game). Overall, this isn’t a bad release, not in any sense of the genre with which it resides in; but it does have a very limited audience and only a small few will read through the very lengthy press bumpf that comes with it, which does explain everything in great detail. If you appreciate the works of the aforementioned Z’ev and such like, then you will adore this. My score just reflects how this isn’t for me, nothing more.