JAIME IRLES: A Region of Eternal Night DL Self-Released
One half of underground Spanish electronic wizards ‘Known Rebel’; Jaime Irles has taken the leap here into producing his own solo work to great effect, capitalising on his strengths and snatching lightly at many an influence with the odd smattering of originality.
Electronically speaking, there are nods to the lighter shades of dance music, treated with skipping, woven vocalisations; the most prominent of which being ‘Getaway’, which smacks ever so slightly, of Blanck Mass.
The beats are well rounded; the pads are warm and carry a necessary bounce. Pacing on the album clever intersects between the frenetic and the ability to slow things down when it is needed most.
As expected, the production values provide clarity and weight, where light reverberations are allowed to wash over the listener as the beats shudder welcomingly. A sense of modernisation that flirts with the 80’s, providing a sense of nostalgia that we all experience when summer nights are long and we have space to reflect.
Overall, this is a welcome release that shines with the abandon of what is expected from an electronic musician nowadays; and will no doubt surprise many, especially in the later stages of listening.
GRIMBERGEN: The Passing of Time CD Self released
I couldn’t have thought of a more fitting title myself. Grimbergen, one of the solo projects of Nathan Clemence has been on a self-enforced hiatus for nigh on seven years; after his initial second album, was rejected by the label that spawned his debut, ‘A lonely Place’.
This has actually worked out for the best. In this period, Clemence concentrated his creative output on the noise driven ‘Now Wash Your Hands’. In 2011 efforts were made to get this project back off the ground and the setback has ultimately led to a better album than its predecessor.
‘A Lonely Place’ was a more than competent and enjoyable release, but also one that had its flaws bedded in influences from a steadily stagnating scene, coupled with Nathan’s choice of hardware. Whilst formulating a sound all of his own, this did give a cod sci-fi feel to synth lines that just missed out on being as bombastic as they should have; leaving the project sat without a lift at a musical crossroads, genre wise (a very lonely place indeed).
‘The Passing of Time’ has a natural, organic maturity, which leads to it being a more comfortable listen; and conceptually has a sense of purpose. Genre wise, this still sits on the edges of what he was initially trying to emulate; but benefits from utilising its individuality, rather than faltering into the mire created by an oversaturation of Neo-Folk and Dark Ambient acts, that pathetically stagnate whilst leaning on their right hands.
The Neo-Classical/Dark Ambient scene has a niche following and one that a lot of people simply cannot abide. Grimbergen has here however, produced an album that should interest parties from both sides of the coin; retaining enough for stalwarts not to turn their noses up at, whilst having a form of crossover appeal for those tempted to dip their toes in the water.
RAOUL SINIER: Late Statues CD Self Released
Sinier has been providing underground electronic circles with his eclectic mix of genre crossing genius for well over ten years now; and it’s quite the surprise he isn’t a bigger artist than he is.
‘Stones and Rocks’ crashes through as a wave of electronics, guitar and percussion, with high-end vocals carried well by the swell. Obscure it may be (with overtones of psychedelia), but there is an overall nod of commercialism keeping the tracks head above water.
‘Late Statues’ directly follows on from where ‘Welcome to my Orphanage’ left off. Raoul grabs Indie Rock by the throat and drags it down into an oozing swamp of desperation, with an ever-evident inspiration of theatrics and Opera aesthetics. The pomp and circumstance rides high in tracks such as ‘Camouflage’, with the bravery to go completely off key, plucking on Tangerine Dream sensibilities, with a splash of Hawkwind-isms to boot.
Raoul once again has produced a release that I struggle with as much as I enjoy it; as I hate Prog-Rock and I love Electronica. In splitting me down the middle where I fight with myself over just how much I loathe and like the release in equal measure, this certainly is testament to a level of creative genius in some respects; and for that I commend him.
As a whole this misses the level of enjoyment I got out of past releases, but overall and once again, I cannot knock the musicianship and production skills gone into making the album possible; not to mention the guile.
JUGEM’S CLOUD: Nature Vs Humans CD Self released
This Chicago based trio’s obsession with all thing old school Industrial are more than evident, even without the addition of a press script to read from. Opener ‘Sewerz’ and ‘The Craftenstock Corporation’ play on the Off-Beat culture from way back with rasping vocals and Cold Wave electronics from the get-go; covering a multitude of FLA, Skinny Puppy and Haujobb-isms by the bucket load.
Emphasis has been placed on layering up electronics in much the same way SP used to do in years gone by. Puppy provided a master class in this field, and if you cut one of their tracks down the middle you would see layers that resembled a perfectly baked cake; and in trying to emulate their peers JC seem to have left the temperature on their oven, up way too high.
Now don’t get me wrong, Jugem’s Cloud know what they love and want to be part of that and I commend them for going out there and giving it a shot. For me though, that ship sailed many a moon ago and whilst I still love hitting the decks with all my old records, a lot of these acts have moved on to different pastures. It would take something exceptional musically, from a new act to come along and drag any acclaim for their efforts; and if JC are doing this for the sheer pleasure of playing, then more power to them. If they’re out for stardom, then they lack the necessary clout as a whole to make any impact on the scene.
Overall, if this album had come out a good 20 year ago, then this would have sat as a competent addition to a multitude of bands that were part of a quickly developing genre that had finally reached out to a newer audience. As it stands, ‘Nature Vs Humans’ is just another release that should please some and still appeal in a live environment; but sadly has been left at the docks, whilst a heavily loaded liner of experimentalism sails unchartered oceans of originality.
EKS. CENTER: Red Blossoms CDr Self released
Conjured up from the mind of David Vallée, his latest project differs greatly from the distorted beat led project, Lith that he is more likely to be recognised by. With upbeat IDM, breaks and surging electronica it’s ultimately something that is more to my palette too.
Opener ‘Aurora’ is a stirring amalgamation of driving beats that are chopped intermittently between child-like, playful electronics and tempered emotions. Coupled with the harmonious ‘Transition’ that slows the pace somewhat, this is the perfect aural partner to take with you on a long summers drive through the countryside.
David approaches his IDM much in the same way he approaches his works with Lith. An artist usually finds a model to work with and the outcome is all the more interesting in this case, as what transpires is a very different take on a genre as opposed to those who have come solely from that stable; It’s little surprise that Vallée’s EKS. Center emphasises rhythmical programming above all else.
There is an overtly sci-fi feel to the pads and electronics utilised along the way providing a poppy feel to the proceedings that fits in with the overall aesthetics of the album. With intersections of blistering breakbeats and glitch casually tearing away at the basic framework of majority of the tracks, there is little time to sit and ponder the emotive thought processes that are teased along the way and the listener is urged to just go along for the ride, experiencing every emotion at fast-forward.
‘Red Blossoms’ is a great album; nothing mind blowing in the grand scheme of things, but an enjoyable romp from start to finish that serves a key purpose for those that like their music with a little less pomp and circumstance.
AND UTERO DOMINAE:Bleeding Machines CDep Self released
Fresh, new (not ‘nu’) metal output from this US duo consisting of one Sam Geiger (nice name) and Justin Brink (of Pneumatic Detach fame). An interesting EP, but not one that immediately grabs you unfortunately. When I listen to metal I want it to make me clench my fist, get in the mood for going out and having a tussle, maybe cause a riot. Bleeding Machines does none of these.
Okay I am being a little harsh. Dominae do have some interesting ideas, some generous hooks and some sense of what they want to achieve. However, they don’t capitalise on these elements, the production is lacking, the power is dampened and it does all sound a little like a bands first demo. The double bass does remind me of the production we expected from Scott Burns when he worked on every man and his dog from the Floridian death metal scene in the early nineties, especially so with the title track. The trademark clicks may have worked then, but not here. The necessary punch is missing, and this is a big downside to the CD considering just how brutal Justin is on his own releases with the mighty Pneumatic Detach, something he is famed for actually.
The want of good choruses has been abandoned here as well and they could have lifted the songs into something more special and involving, something to scream along to. All is not all lost though. Final track ‘The Inverted’ does have strains of something worth grabbing hold of with help of Steve Austin of famed ‘ Today is the Day’ doubling up the vocals and giving this pair the edge they so need. A curious opener to a band that could evolve into something great with a little more attention to detail. Lets see what the album brings.