Techno’s Outer Limits :: July 2015

Latest postcard from Techno’s Twilight Zone—recent 12″s/EPs/LPs + notes in the margins. Scroll down for Soundcloud set of selections.

Techno’s Outer Limits :: July 2015

France first, where Dement3d, prime suspect in some of Techno’s shadier dealings, host a return for Polar Inertia, whose debut, The Last Vehicle, was as much a keynote as first foray, Discordance (2011), from abstracted fields’n’beats peddlers, dscrd. The Parisian mysterions passed briefly by Unknown Precept and Field Records, then back to Dement3d for a remix EP. D3d HQ has purportedly been ‘asked a lot of questions lately about Polar Inertia …their mysterious posture has stirred up an unusual curiosity.’ Whether this might be some dragon-esque crouch or an ungainly squat is unclear, but the curious can content themselves for now with double EP, Kinematic Optics, the first bearing the episode’s four pieces, the second a live recording from their expo in Brussels May 2014. The main event is billed as ‘music that seems a soundtrack for oblivion, telling of disappearance of individuals, […] integrating all elements in a contention between darkness and light, between a tale of Earth destroyed by nuclear weapons, and the blinding white-out of the Polar Children’s wizardry.’ Blimey – this ain’t No Party, this ain’t no Disco. Truth be told, on this evidence the Polar boys are Losing some of their Edge, but it’s still intense enough an experience to make it worth the ride for intrepid Techn-auts, for whom further narrative insight may be attained via the suspense-full video (above).

To Italy, where Aboretum have finally brought forth a second record (cf. Drøp’s Vasundhara in TOL – April 2014), the Sycomore EP finding Marco Berardi aka Mogano reaffirming the label’s spiritual experimental brand of techno. Full of Eastern Promise, cinematic sweep, off-kilter drum patterns and nods to mythology (The Tree of Life). “Retama” drops dissonant noise over a deep dub backdrop, while “Anunnaki” slides a brooding sitar through textured grooves. Samuel Kerridge’s blackened version invokes noisier new-wave sub-sects, gritty textures strewn through a heretic percussive ’scape, while the title track appropriates ancient Sumerian rhythms used in sacrifice. More familiar yet still away from the mainstream is Uchronia, a Rising monster from Ness (geddit?). “Chronoscope” gives voice to his inner ambienteer, while “Pantropy” brings on heavy kicks, percussion, distant voices, and a Ness-ier shade of trance coloring. Ben Gibson’s remix splits the difference between his floor-punishing preference and Ness’s more elegant slumming. Ness also enlists compatriot Giorgio Gigli for a fifth instalment in the Black series from Planet Rhythm (which recently gave us the Oxcard EP from Colombian Aleja Sanchez ), their Eon EP turning out three variations on a theme of grainy resonance and prickly pulse. Casa Outis next, where Hypnus adept, Luigi Tozzi, takes on patron Dino Sabatini‘s mythological torch with his Calipso EP, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea. “Calypso” elegantly adds subtly trance-like traits to a classic 4/4 beat, while “Ambrosia” offers a deep refined paean to the Ocean God (yay, ocean God!), the return home theme of the enfolding “Nostos,” which gets a signature Sabatini rework. The tireless Tozzi also has an EP, Faunus, for Mental Modern. More Italian flavour, via Uruguay’s Par Recordings, headed by George Paar, comes from DJ Datch’s Mental Disorder, who has previous form on Etichetta Nera with Kryss Hypnowave on Att Series and Subsist, Natch, and Resiliens with mate nAX_Acid. Still Italian, though less in a Design than an Industry paradigm, is Pasquale Ascione aka Ascion, owner of Repitch and 3TH Records, whose Public Head is more Ambient-leaning techno than the usual racket retailed with dark-industrial partner, D. Carbone. Five tracks ranging from the electro-ish “Landescape” through the atmospheric broken-beat techno of the title track and the self-tagging “Acido Rosso,” to classic techno (“Xlight”) and sci-fi-ism (“Carnival”). In Naples, Etichetta Nera gives Tunnel new ground for The Revenant, an undead man walking with deep treatments from Submerge and Lee Holman hitting home hard and hypnotic. Finally the air gets a little chillier with the arrival of SNTS, whose Scene III, third in the self-released trilogy, is the creepiest yet. While dedicated to the potential of rhythm, these darkroom slabs come smeared in ghostly chords and ominous textures, more for dalliers in Eschatology than Hedonism—from the marching intensity of “15.04.1946” to the neo-industrial horror-show dubscapes of “20.01.1944” (dates of obscure significance, albeit strangely resonant); the latter gets a good seeing to from Shifted, who rams it into straighter techno territory.

Having put Belgium nearer the centre of the Techno map with Inigo Kennedy, Rødhåd, Surgeon, et al., Token gets further coordinates from Tadeo, Ø [Phase], and Antigone. Already with a well-stuffed back catalog, Madrid man tadeo tries out for Token with Terra Incognita, while label regular Ø [Phase] throws a 2-track 12”, Tunnel Vision/Internal Conflict. Parisian Antonin Jeanson (Antigone) trumps them all, though, with Cantor Dust. No newbie he, having debuted with Construct Re-Form (2011), Jeanson’s movements are diverse, leaning to abstract-functional melodic-caustic mixings: “Anna Livia” lounges in a fragrant Schulze bath, ceding to the ’floor imperatives of “Enter,” chugging on to the anthemic “Prime Mover,” with reverberant stabs and low-end prod; the serpentine “Voltage” more sinister and rugged, the gurgling abstract melodies of tough, metallic bangers “Neter”, “Astragal” and “Artefact,” recalling the off-kilter stomp of Joey Beltram and Jeff Mills, wide-sky drones smeared over percussive rasp and sub-throb. “Blue Note” is best—celestial and reflective with distant synths outfolding into a plangent chord progression, melodic shimmer over boom and skitter. Requiem Remixed sees a track cherry-picked from Inigo Kennedy’s Vaudeville, a 2014 Token highlight, have its spindly melodies finely filleted by Efdemin, who drops the mesmeric riff down and hitches it to a synco-house lope, all Dial-tone bleeps, sharp hi-hats, and sulky synth-play. Raster-man Kangding Ray’s rework is a jittery paranoid recast with groaning etherea suspended over broke-beat thud and high-end drone-jag, while Regis harnesses the original’s bulging low-end to some abyssal manoeuvres in the dark, vaporous atmo put to good effect beside a riff warping with the weft of the track. Dasha Rush ends, folding discordant piano and distant voices into queasy ambience, patiently building before letting loose the kicks and hi-hats, cementing a genuinely Outer Limits set of re-thinks.

We dally with Dasha for Sleepstep on Raster-Notontill recently refuge of muscular-cerebral lab-coat lap-top electronica for geek-boy tech-heads. She fits the roster surprisingly comfily. Subtitle, ‘sonar poems for my sleepless friends,’ points the concept—the soundscapes of her alter ego: ‘alienated micro-compositions and sound collages, interwoven with text passages, aimed at creating a dream-like atmosphere’ coming directly from ‘her strange and twisted world where the machineries are the protagonists of a neo-romanticism, weaved [sic] with human dreams’. Leaving the club and the big kicks at home for a suite of tech-nocturnes giving voice to her inner dark ambient-monger in brooding scapes and broken beats infused with spooked vox and eerie melody. Close by in spirit is fellow femme, not so much fatale as recherché, Cio D’Or. The odour of Cologne atmo is in the air in her triptych for Semantica—from string-laden harmonics to pummeling  kicks, first chapter, All In All, is composed of three 4-track suites. The vinyl opens with the warm up side “After And Before,” before picking up speed in the taut bleeps and acid drips of “Floor X” on the next side; final section is a foggy, clanging come-down, Yocta To Yotta, on its own EP. A shorter D’Or OFF AND ON is also out now on Telrae. Still in Germany, Limited, originally a vinyl devotional curated by Andrea Belluzzi, has expanded from Berlin to bandcamp whence it’s digitally doling out its catalog, latest LIMITED.G. 009 one whose artists are various, viz. The Plant Worker, CraftJoseph McGeechan, and Belluzi himself. Berlin-based Synthek, out of Naples via the London club scene, has his Unwise album with Audiolouis (Natch) re-tooled, best on latest Unwise Remix Series 2 being “Something Else (Antigone One Night in Beijing Remix).” Nearby Midgar gives the remix treatment to Ruhig’s Lost In The Instability, with Synthek’s wave-crash on broke-beat re-tool of “Nibelheim” a stand-out; note also a more fragile wistful (Luigi) Tozzi tweak of “Alba” and Wata Igarashi’s re-framing of “Pulse Width” in drone’n’pulse weirdness. We couldn’t leave Berlin without checking the pulse of SA, and the Monad series, where Positive Centre gets out of his Our Circula Sound bubble for Monad XIX. No knackered house, but seriously supine stuff, getting vertiginous for “Great Excavator,” down to the abyssal plane of “Disappearing Trick,” to the horizontally-inclined “Figure is in the Form,” to horizontal ground in the coma-dronezone of “Signal Structure.” Zeitgeber (Lucy and Speedy J.) are behind Monad XX, ‘a creative mixture of pinpoint rhythmic accuracy and tonal depth,’ “Absent Minded” being best of four focused android groove tracts, ‘a successful conjuration [sic] of terra incognita that rewards patient listening with a melange of hidden details.’ Epic conjuration! And Ken Karter incoming for no. XXI!

Nipping to the Netherlands, Dynamic Reflection’s Paul Boex and Dave Miller mobilize their Abstract Division for the Metropolis EP. Avowedly homage to Detroit, the title track channels the spirit of that city’s techno fame through melodic rhythmic minimalism, with retools from Trolley Route (alias Oscar Mulero), Function, and Marcel Fengler, shaking some Berliner action. DR also prescribed I/Y’s Objection EP, a set bundling bonus re-tweaks by Acronym. Madrileña Kuroi, whose Lmnts and Environments presented on  nAX_Acid’s Aconito (see March’s TOL), sneaks her way onto DR’s Refracted Landscapes EP beside The plant worker, Uncode, and A.Morgan. Next up, Flight to the Moon Revisited by Jeroen Search and Dimi Angélis on their own A&S features uncut straight-to-vinyl transfers of selected tracks from Flight to the Moon live; while the album was more of a storied affair, these re-fits can drop into any DJ set. Planet Rhythm not only gives Nicolas Pravel his head for the Anvel EP, but also gets Kryss Hypnowave, fresh from his Genetika EP for Somewhere, to mix up the medicine for Pharma; over in France, kindred spirit chemical research is pursued by Arnaud Le Texier’s Children of Tomorrow through the agency of Moteka with his  Trimethoxysilyl EP. The low lands of course gave us Speedy J., whose Electric Deluxe has a Remix Edition (plus 2nd instalment) of AnD’s Cosmic Microwave Background feat. Sleeparchive, Zeitgeber, Rich (Orphx) and Huren (Teste) as O/H, among others.

Next, to that hotbed of electronic exploits, Spain, where Oscar Mulero may well look down from on high at the herd struggling to attain full length, while he’s just eased out a fourth LP in as many years! Muscle & Mind is the kind of pumped up cerebral set you’d expect from him—ambient moments like “Mental Causation” and the immersive chords and found sound of “Unconscious” offset by maximal loop-heavy beat gear replete with percussive skitter, psychedelic motif and white noise patina. Possibly PoleGroup’s finest, Exium, slings Rotating Frames, a substantial slab of Zeitgeist-riding techno fuelled by heavy sub-bass action, scything hi-hats, and nagging sequenced mutations. Flangers and phasers on stun! Briefly exiting Exium, Hector Sandoval moonlights under cover of Tensal for a roiling remix on Pfirter’s Procyon EP (MindTrip). Deepest Iberia, León, is our next stop-off, where Newrhythmic offers Joton a digital platform for the Casting out Nines album and Svarog a space for his Substraction EP. A UK-Spain crossover is effected for Psyk (aka Manuel Anós) via Luke Slater’s Mote-Evolver. His Human is a stout slab of elemental techno that sits well within M-E’s in-house style-sheet of precision-tooled mesmerism with a figure of angst-y sequences and a field of luminous mystery. Next, Circular Limited, whose prime purpose is trailed as ‘researching the audio possibilities, underground textures and other avant-garde elements into Techno.’ Dubious syntax aside, some decent proposals are made, not least Riddance by Ukrainian Svarog and Circular 20 from Italian Dorian Gray. Moreno Mariotti adopts the alias from the Wildean Gray, who trades his soul for an eternal life of sinful debauchery, archly suggesting ‘and indeed the heady world of underground club music can sometimes feel like this!’ Moreno keeps a solicitous focus on ambient loops moving into rhythmic tech-gnosis, purportedly nodding to ’80s dark wave with jazz tinges  in his so-called ‘afro-futurist techno.’ His Nyctophilia for Android Muziq may be about ‘sitting in the corner of a dark room and feeling comfortable…,’ but it’s all mean and moody, again, ‘a strong focus on ambient loops’ and, yep, you guessed, ‘hypnotic techno rhythms’ (cf. Frames of Darkness too). Circular also has the intriguing Field Experiments by I.F.R.a trip through electronically alienated micro-compositions and sound collages that, interwoven with text passages, aim at creating a oppressive environments.’ A work for restless minds full of abstract and experimental textures. Still Circular, but more conventional, though no less intriguing, is Concept of Thrill whose Dypt EP is a deal niftier than the nom de disque might suggest (see also newest EP Vrede—for Italy’s Sonntag Morgen). Before leaving Iberia, Spaniard-in-Berlin Refracted has launched the new Mind Express label with his own Mind Express 001 EP, a display of tech-mesmerism diving into Atlantean depths turbulent with some of his signature synth-atmo and polyrhythmic shift.

Cementing Spanish-Swedish relations, Svreca brings Abdulla Rashim & Axel Hallqvist back to his (Semantica) for Sorunda Remixed; best remix comes from constant quester Korridor, whose Taotast is just out too, making for a chilling double served up by Stockholm’s best Techno brewers, Northern Electronics. Landlords Abdulla Rashim and Varg, whose Ursviken is still steaming from the press, curate Acronym’s June–deep mesmerism suffused with cool, misty ambiance and rhythmic hip-gnosis. Readers of our past postcards will know of our sneaking regard for neo-Gothic New Age-spiritualists, Hypnus. Now I note Kabalion, another branch of shadowy Swedish activity with webpages clad in black with white gothic font, billing themselves as a guild of techno mystics and alchemists.’ It transpires that this newly founded band of initiates is a part of the lunar snake-cult Hypnus.’ Apparently, ‘whilst Hypnus operates in the realm of astrology, Kabalion continues on the next Hermetic path by honoring mother Gaia with alchemic transmutation of body, mind and soul.’ So that’s all sorted then. Shaded Explorer’s Resonance from the Abyss was the last distant emission, and now after nearly a year in abeyance, a third Kabalion ‘elixir’ is finally delivered in the form of Periskop‘s Immerse, crafted between 2000-2008 by Danish electronic music veteran, Danny Kreutzfeldt (once sgnl_fltr, for those with tastes outside the Techno zone). He describes the nature of its genesis as involving ‘the subtle deep repetitive pulsations of the early dub techno scene’ and ‘the dark ritual emotional/cathartic approach of the industrial soundscape movement of the 80s and 90s.’  Color us intrigued. Lastly, there’s a new Swedish imprint in town courtesy of Ida Matsdotter, who brings together several knowns and unknowns under Nordanvind for the heady pulse’n’atmo of the inaugural Sagas: Hypnus adept Skymn brings a restlessly syncopated kick, wooden-sounding percussion and low growling timbres to “Memory,” while Minilogue man Marcus (Henriksson) makes with the moniker Nobodyhome to spool out “Speglar,” a slow-swelling ride through thick acid squelch and synth flutter. Matsdotter’s own Fjäder is in more meditative mien with “En Liten Saga” rolling percussive patter under foggy pads and birdcalls. And Korridor, again, completes a fine inaugural release with a typically tense tenebrous twister, “Somnolence.”

Over to the NW Coast of the US, where we find Blankstairs, ‘a systematic platform for proliferating the musical, visual, written, multi-media or other works of its peers both regionally and internationally.’ The Portland-based label lets Seattleite Josef Gaard up ’stairs for his Obsidian Falls EP. The EP blends ‘traditional techno tendencies and freeform ambient composition and experimentation,’ with each track referencing the other, lending a sense of cohesion while maintaining progressive motion. Blankstairs alum, Archivist, who contributes “Obsidian Falls (Archivist Remix),” has played an integral role with Gaard in the development of the foggy, seemingly bleak, techno-inclined sounds coming out of Seattle and the surrounding Pacific Northwest. Archivist has his own ‘multi-dimensional exploration and experiment in sonics and uses of sincere emotional movement to elicit listener feedback’ in Migration EP for Blankstairs. To London before closedown where SleeparchiveAlderaanColdgeistPEARL, and Dax J, to name but five, are assembled by Weekend Circuit for Ground-Fault-Interrupt Vol.1. And while we’re there, a more esoteric excursion for you… er… by Yu, rather. That’s Yu Miyashita, author of the first in a run of 12″s from fellow scribbler (sometime audio-dabblerTheo Darton-Moore’s online publication, sometime label, Stray Landings. Grind Analysts combines the artist’s two sides, ‘A’ bearing the off-kilter glitch-techno of his Yaporigami alias, ‘B’ a platform for the jarring mix of ethereal soundscapes and abrasive noise pursued under his given name. Analyze the grind!

There are selected tracks in the Soundcloud set below and in the latest mix in the albient series, Dalliance #11.

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