MACRONOISE: Various Species EP DL Crime League
Slovakian born Macronoise is another one of those neat little finds from the Toronto Based Crime League label; who have an ear for music that balances fine harmonic subtleties and odd intricacies.
With a touch of flowing melancholy pervading the entirety of this extended player, there is much to become attuned to; and this produces an emotive response, even when it descends into madness.
Live instrumentation compliments the gently eased electronics, with a nose for clarity and sharp production skills. Touching on IDM, but with a key ear for stylistically placing notes as not to over-exert and force the issue; there is much more to Macronoise than is immediately evident. Individual and personal spaces arise through the sound; and sometimes it’s all too easy to filter out the background noise and get lost in one harmonic moment.
Altogether, this is an impressive micro release and bodes well for any future output we may hear from this young artist. I will be watching with interest.
LARVAE: Ghost Dubs EP DL Crime League
It’s been five long years since we heard anything out of the Larvae camp; and this is the first release for Canadian label Crime League, after the majority of their musical output came via the now missing in action label, Ad Noiseam.
‘Ghost Dubs’ is an aptly named moniker for the five tracks on display. Apparitions of ambience float and glide through a thin veil, as oozing bass lines are the glue for slow, stilted beats and chirping electronics to gloomily trundle along a moody path.
Paying homage to much of the output covered by cult Japanese ghost movies from the 50’s and 60’s; Larvae have got their concept firmly nailed down to a tee. Background whispers, creaks and groans permeate the entirety of this EP, enveloping the listeners’ consciousness with relative ease.
This is a decent re-entry back into producing music and sets the stage for any possible future full-length. I would have appreciated just a touch more horror, given the subject matter involved; but there is little on here to grumble about overall.
PATTERN BEHAVIOUR: Omens DL Crime League
From the duo behind Snowbeasts comes the latest album from Pattern Behaviour; bringing together their first two EP’s which have here, undergone a touch of expansion.
The opening title track portrays the oncoming portent well; with its gradual ominous build of layered electronics, that have glitter with stabs of light amongst its ever-present darkness. ‘Parasomnia’ drips with intermission tension, alongside ‘World’s Apart’; leading to the throbbing bass and soundtrack aura of ‘Conduit’.
There’s nothing over intricate or indeed overstated to Pattern Behaviour’s work; and in this instance it’s a welcome change from the many electronic albums out there that focus solely on complexity, rather than atmospherics. Touching on Sci-Fi that teases with Pop sensibilities, ‘Omens’ satisfies a space where background music fills out a room in which to divulge in other interests.
Whilst not having that one hit to latch onto, this latest collection has the essential knack of killing those lonely silences; when you just want some essential space and solace to think things through, without any overt interference.
DISPLACER: Spirit Guide DL Crime League
A retro sounding bass synth pattern opens up this latest EP from Toronto’s Displacer. Somewhat reminiscent of some of John Carpenter’s works, mixed with a touch of the opening theme to ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Ectenic Force’ slides gracefully into ‘Killer’; which is co-produced with Chase Dobson.
Arpeggiated electronics permeate the entirety of this five-tracker and are solidly layered in Michael Morton’s trademark beds of synths and warm, beat-driven programming genius. The title track (co-written with Snowbeasts) offers a ghostly, drifting apparition of choral effects and slabs of ethereal sensibility; that’s sits well placed between ‘Manifestations’ and the 80’s soundtrack web of intrigue, that is ‘Visions’.
Prolific as ever, Morton is a busy man that never stops giving his listeners ear candy, with strings of downloadable EP’s alongside his full hard copy releases. I would have loved to see this on vinyl, or at least, compact disc; but I am more than grateful to get to hear these tracks on a relatively frequent basis if those options are not available. If anything, they keep his project ever relevant.
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.
DEAD VOICES ON AIR: Did Digger Do Jehovah Ltd CD / DIGITAL DOWNLOAD Crime League
DVOA have been tripping the boards for ages now since Mark Spybey left Zoviet France; and after a lengthy back catalogue it’s quite odd to see him come up with such a limited release. His latest output starts off in fine form with simplistic electronics and airy ambient, with the aptly titled ‘The Skies Sent out a Sound’ coming across as an electronic signal across the ether.
Followed up with ‘I Was Under a Cavalry Cross’, the ever-so-slight shift in sound is a kaleidoscope of cascading colourful notes that spangle amongst a backdrop of breathing momentum, only to be enforced further with a trippy and hallucinogenic ‘As the Sand of the Sea’.
Where I feel Dead Voices On Air works best as a project is when he concentrates his efforts on ranging Dark Ambient. I do like chiming cutesy electronics and I do think they work well over his foundation material; however I am a sucker for bleak pads and appreciated the momentary stand-alone darkness of ‘Shall my Wrath Burn Like Fire?’ along with the n5md-ish ‘The East is From the West’ more than other works on this album.
Overall, ‘Did Digger do Jehovah’, is a peculiar yet solid mass of stable electronics that capture many a mood for a number of occasions. It’s good to see the project still in full flight and long may Spybey continue forwards.
ANKLEBITER: Weight of a Pronoun Ltd CD / DIGITAL DOWNLOAD Crime League
Tanner Volz is another of the Tympanik Audio refugees that has since moved shores to try his hand in other label avenues. Sometimes it’s a necessary, albeit frightening shift in circumstances; but usually pushes the artist out of their comfort zone.
With two full albums and a remix CD to add weight to his credentials, Volz has already built up a loyal fanbase that he should be proud of; and ‘Weight of a Pronoun’ will only add a few more to that headcount, along with the collaborative efforts of a few other artists that make an appearance on this disc.
Opener ‘Joey Gladstone’ makes its presence known with an ominous, brooding tone. A steady beat introduces the tracks and is steadily knitted together with harmonious electronics and ranging lead notes; and is followed up with the subtle free-fall that is ‘Self-Esteem is Killing America’, with its dropped bass and beautifully arranged poppy pads that erupt into blooming mass of colour as the track comes to its conclusion.
Along the way we are treated to what I term as classic IDM, compositionally speaking. ‘Tickle Monster’ and ‘Error Peak’ play with beats, well paced sci-fi harmonies and layered electronics that bind the tracks with a steadfast glue. Volume plays a key part on individual sections, pushing other elements to the edge of a collapse that never comes.
Reminiscent of previous works, ‘Weight of a Pronoun’ takes baby shoegazing steps forward rather than bringing an all round change. Cleverly in keeping with his back catalogue Volz proves that leaving the creature comforts of previous label backing is no bad thing; if anything it shows strength of character and this latest album is excellent from start to finish.
RENTIP: Daily Routines Ltd LP / DIGITAL DOWNLOAD Crime League
For me, when having to resort to releasing digital downloads, if there is to be a limited hard copy then this is the best way to do it; vinyl wins every time in these circumstances.
Futuristic electronics are the stable source of material for this act. Movie sampling, off-key pads and straightforward beat programming make ‘The Rules of Collision’ a more than effective opening gambit; punching holes in the stratosphere at every turn whilst twisting ravages of sound hinge on complex industrialisms.
Intricate IDM scatters breaks amongst clinical rhythm patterns on the jagged edged ‘Dodecahedron Strategy’, whilst the straightforward electro of ‘Perfectly Preserved’ carries a series of tuneful pad drops throughout; it’s at this point that you see just how deep the quality and variation runs on this release.
Vocals twist and turn through warped structures on the gliding insanity that is ‘Echoes’; another favourite of mine on the album, showing another of the strings on Rentip’s bow. It’s hard to pin the act down genre speaking, as he covers a great degree of styles. Imagine a cross amalgamation of the music of FLA and Skinny Puppy (minus the vocals), filtered through an IDM cheese grater, and you would be somewhat close.
With this being such a limited release, it’s almost criminal how this act may slip through the radar. With so many less worthy acts out there getting their moment in the limelight, Rentip should be right there in the mix; as ‘Daily Routines’ is a visceral complex album that deserves recognition from every self-respecting fan of Industrial music.
GNOME & SPYBEY: Three Ltd CD / DIGITAL DOWNLOAD Crime League
Mark Spybey of Dead Voices on Air, teams up here with Tony D’Oporto of Gnomes of Kush to create a strange and alluring dilution of sounds, combining soundtrack elements, darker ambience and weird electronic sub textures.
There is a haze over ‘Three’, almost as if you are listening to the album behind a frosted glass filter, watching a series of untold events as shapes that move around; and you can’t quite picture just exactly what is going on.
It would be easy to term a lot of this album as merely nonsensical. There is some argument to that, but there is also a purpose; as the strange squelches and breathing warped noises are the glue tipped claws that grab the disengaged pads in both hands and provide a bridge from one to another, like a musical string of DNA.
It’s no surprise that a lot of ‘Three’ leans more in DVOA territory. I am unaccustomed to the works of Gnomes… but can immediately hear the impact in minor ways throughout this release as brief sparkles of harmony, splicing up the bleak ambient noise.
There is nothing ground breaking here, but then it doesn’t need to be; as one of those albums that is worth listening to when you have heard everything else. There is a lot to enjoy and soak up if you take away the fact that much of this has been played out by others before.
DISPLACER: Curse of the Black Lotus Ltd CDep / DIGITAL DOWNLOAD Crime League
As is the way of reviewing, sometimes you get your hands on a release that came before the bands latest works you have already reviewed; but no less great that this has been sent to review and complete your collection.
I have always been a fan of the works of Michael Morton and ‘Curse…’ fills a space between the wonderful ‘Foundation’ and ‘House of the Dying Sun’, the latter produced with Nimon and both released on the mighty Hymen label.
As a missing jigsaw piece, this EP would be misplaced as the one with all four corners that doesn’t quite slot in; and it’s no surprise that Morton has chosen just to release some other work that differs from the albums that sit either side of it, forever keeping listeners guessing.
With a blistering array of electronics that resonate a warm hum, coupled with erratic beat work and gloriously emphatic pads, from opener ‘Black Lotus’ with some excellent re-worked versions of new tracks and a Monstrum Sepsis mix to boot.
As an ever-evolving project that’s constantly on the move, re-shaping and re-working its image, Displacer keeps his personal story ever relevant, with modern day electronica that’s as cool as it comes. I hate to spout the word ‘hip’, but this is; and not in the sad way you see fashion victims sporting T-Shirts of bands they have never heard of, either.