Ear Influxion

Transfiguration

Matthew Mercer: “Transfiguration” (2014)

Another new piece as I continue to explore the concepts of tension, a lack of resolution, and minimalism. Digging deeper within as I explore how I actually feel and how that is reflected in the sound itself, exploring the nuances of balance, pitch, microtonality, and depth as discrete sounds layer and weave in and out of each other.

Mike Dehnert: Lichtbedingt (Delsin)
Mike Denhert has always been slightly elusive for me. I’d heard numerous tracks on compilations and previewed several of his 12”s before hearing his Fachwerk 25 collection — I think that was the first time his music really resonated with me on a deeper level. Lichtbedingt veers away from some of the more listening-oriented sounds of Fachwerk 25 and instead feels more like a collection of slick DJ tools, but hearing such a block of quality productions and experiments back to back, I feel as though there is more of a method to Dehnert’s madness than I’d originally perceived. These are often minimal, dubby james that bob in time with equal amounts of sleekness and utility; “Emlo” is a prime example, with its undulating sub-bass line and clean rhythm section that never seems to let up. Other tracks are even more tightly wound, like the urgent stride of “Channeled,” a cut that would no doubt sound fantastic on a massive system. The odd, angular shape shifting of “Movement” and the jagged edges of “Single Action” harken back to techno’s most mutant phase around the turn of the century, when rules largely went out the window and yet the music still held together to move dancefloors in new and exciting ways. So I find there to be traces of the warped genius of Dan Bell and vintage Perlon in Dehnert’s productions, even as these are less tidy, more impatient and squirmy.

“Remove” is an exception here, sputtering and bleeping like a machine that’s run out of gas, lending a little extra edge to the album by virtue of breaking tradition so fully. It’s diversions like that, or the beatless forms of “Quadrature,” providing some real shifts in dynamics and pacing. But Dehnert really does save the best for last: “En Outre”’s funky as hell weirdo synth pattern and a shimmying tech house kit make it purely irresistible. Dehnert often skates the line between looped improvisation and utility, but there is a certain urgency and a playful personality behind many of these tracks that gives them their own infectious flair.
Buy it: Delsin Shop | Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon | Emusic

Mike Dehnert: Lichtbedingt (Delsin)

Mike Denhert has always been slightly elusive for me. I’d heard numerous tracks on compilations and previewed several of his 12”s before hearing his Fachwerk 25 collection — I think that was the first time his music really resonated with me on a deeper level. Lichtbedingt veers away from some of the more listening-oriented sounds of Fachwerk 25 and instead feels more like a collection of slick DJ tools, but hearing such a block of quality productions and experiments back to back, I feel as though there is more of a method to Dehnert’s madness than I’d originally perceived. These are often minimal, dubby james that bob in time with equal amounts of sleekness and utility; “Emlo” is a prime example, with its undulating sub-bass line and clean rhythm section that never seems to let up. Other tracks are even more tightly wound, like the urgent stride of “Channeled,” a cut that would no doubt sound fantastic on a massive system. The odd, angular shape shifting of “Movement” and the jagged edges of “Single Action” harken back to techno’s most mutant phase around the turn of the century, when rules largely went out the window and yet the music still held together to move dancefloors in new and exciting ways. So I find there to be traces of the warped genius of Dan Bell and vintage Perlon in Dehnert’s productions, even as these are less tidy, more impatient and squirmy.

“Remove” is an exception here, sputtering and bleeping like a machine that’s run out of gas, lending a little extra edge to the album by virtue of breaking tradition so fully. It’s diversions like that, or the beatless forms of “Quadrature,” providing some real shifts in dynamics and pacing. But Dehnert really does save the best for last: “En Outre”’s funky as hell weirdo synth pattern and a shimmying tech house kit make it purely irresistible. Dehnert often skates the line between looped improvisation and utility, but there is a certain urgency and a playful personality behind many of these tracks that gives them their own infectious flair.

Buy it: Delsin Shop | Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon | Emusic

William Basinski: “D|p 1.1” (Disintegration Loops, 2011)

William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops series is a document of magnetic tape loops actually mechanically disintegrating as they loop on a reel to reel over the course of an hour. Set to actual footage of the collapsed World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, it’s a haunting eulogy to the fallen as much as an expression of the fragility of things.

House of Jezebel: Back in DogTown USA (Voyage Direct)
Danny Wolfers aka Legowelt revives his House of Jezebel project with a new two-track EP for Tom Trago’s Voyage Direct Series for Rush Hour. For me it’s his strongest showing in a very long time. For whatever reason, my interest in his Legowelt records waned over the years, despite some of his early 00s 12”s being my favorite of the whole Dutch electro and italo revival scene.

Each of these tracks fuses Wolfers’ signature style of repetitious patternmaking with a slick nod to 2nd wave Detroit techno in its use of clean synth sounds and airy pads. “Back in DogTown USA” shows off some fairly classic Legowelt acid squiggles in its arrangement, but the production feels cleaner, lighter, clearer. “I Took a Train in 1976,” on the flip, is a jaunty nod to early techno and house with its clear, repetitious organ line and flanged strings that recall some of the more soaring vintage tracks by Model 500. Great stuff!
Buy it: Boomkat | iTunes | Amazon

House of Jezebel: Back in DogTown USA (Voyage Direct)

Danny Wolfers aka Legowelt revives his House of Jezebel project with a new two-track EP for Tom Trago’s Voyage Direct Series for Rush Hour. For me it’s his strongest showing in a very long time. For whatever reason, my interest in his Legowelt records waned over the years, despite some of his early 00s 12”s being my favorite of the whole Dutch electro and italo revival scene.

Each of these tracks fuses Wolfers’ signature style of repetitious patternmaking with a slick nod to 2nd wave Detroit techno in its use of clean synth sounds and airy pads. “Back in DogTown USA” shows off some fairly classic Legowelt acid squiggles in its arrangement, but the production feels cleaner, lighter, clearer. “I Took a Train in 1976,” on the flip, is a jaunty nod to early techno and house with its clear, repetitious organ line and flanged strings that recall some of the more soaring vintage tracks by Model 500. Great stuff!

Buy it: Boomkat | iTunes | Amazon

Zoltan: Pardon, What? (Hum + Buzz)
Hungarian producer Zoltan’s 6-track EP for Ikonika’s Hum + Buzz label is both fascinating and relentless, an odd amalgamation of post-dubstep grit, techno bob, EBM muscle, and chiptune noise. It comes on strong with a pairing of pummeling machine gun tracks, stuttering and sputtering mechanically in time like Secondo put through an Amiga. I read a review of this online that claimed that his tracks run too long, and I’m inclined to agree, though if that’s his worst offense it’s a pretty minor one. The intensity of his tracks lends itself to brevity, but most tracks approach or exceed the six-minute mark. The front half is definitely my favorite if I had to pick, because these tracks’ cut-up samples and machine gun repetition feel less typical of what’s en vogue lately, almost at odds with dance music, but still likely to liven up a more adventurous DJ set in more capable hands.

Zoltan shares some of label boss Ikonika’s love of chintzy sounds, dated computer nostalgia, and dry rhythm arrangements heavy on syncopated rapid-fire claps and/or kicks, and all of it is showcased on “Pardon, What? (Msc),” a welcome reprise of the EP’s signature weirdness that was missing on the more conventional “Saturn.” That said, Zoltan does offer up some more conventional rhythm for techno sets on “Saturn” and “Phobos,” with the latter still having enough weird triggering and stuttering in its arrangement to give it the same weird flair found on records from Errorsmith, Soundhack, and the MMM crew. Even when sometimes the results are abrasive (particularly in such heaping helpings), Pardon, What? has some unique and unpredictable elements that set it apart from the pack, in all the right ways.
Buy it: Boomkat | iTunes | Emusic

Zoltan: Pardon, What? (Hum + Buzz)

Hungarian producer Zoltan’s 6-track EP for Ikonika’s Hum + Buzz label is both fascinating and relentless, an odd amalgamation of post-dubstep grit, techno bob, EBM muscle, and chiptune noise. It comes on strong with a pairing of pummeling machine gun tracks, stuttering and sputtering mechanically in time like Secondo put through an Amiga. I read a review of this online that claimed that his tracks run too long, and I’m inclined to agree, though if that’s his worst offense it’s a pretty minor one. The intensity of his tracks lends itself to brevity, but most tracks approach or exceed the six-minute mark. The front half is definitely my favorite if I had to pick, because these tracks’ cut-up samples and machine gun repetition feel less typical of what’s en vogue lately, almost at odds with dance music, but still likely to liven up a more adventurous DJ set in more capable hands.

Zoltan shares some of label boss Ikonika’s love of chintzy sounds, dated computer nostalgia, and dry rhythm arrangements heavy on syncopated rapid-fire claps and/or kicks, and all of it is showcased on “Pardon, What? (Msc),” a welcome reprise of the EP’s signature weirdness that was missing on the more conventional “Saturn.” That said, Zoltan does offer up some more conventional rhythm for techno sets on “Saturn” and “Phobos,” with the latter still having enough weird triggering and stuttering in its arrangement to give it the same weird flair found on records from Errorsmith, Soundhack, and the MMM crew. Even when sometimes the results are abrasive (particularly in such heaping helpings), Pardon, What? has some unique and unpredictable elements that set it apart from the pack, in all the right ways.

Buy it: Boomkat | iTunes | Emusic

Happy birthday: Microfilm: Aggropastels

Microfilm’s 3rd studio album is one year old today! To mark the occasion, we’ve dropped the price on Bandcamp to a mere $6 for 14 tracks of music (including Andrew Edwards’ stunning orchestral rework of “Romeo Rorschach,” exclusive to Bandcamp). Check it out, and thanks to all who listen, stream, purchase, share, and support our music.

Get it now on Bandcamp

Throwing Snow: Mosaic & Pathfinder (Houndstooth)

Ross Tones’ debut album as Throwing Snow is not so far off the path from his collaborative project with Hannah Cartwright, Snow Ghosts. At a first pass listeners might find Mosaic to revisit the tried and true ground of mid- to late-90s trip hop, but upon closer inspection, I’d say that Mosaic is far from a mere throwback. No doubt Tones has a production style that’s simultaneously organic and detail-oriented, using electronics, samples, and programming to create a lush world of sound that is as accessible as it is rich. Only four of Mosaic's eleven tracks are instrumental, but I think those are crucial to the album's success as it plays back. By way of its vocal collaborations, Mosaic does recall trip hop (though I’d say it treads closer to the grey area inhabited by late 90s Locust), but Tones also has his ears and fingers in all kinds of current sounds and trends, without being slavish to any one of them. Tinges of footwork, garage, IDM, and hip hop rise to the surface in various permutations over the span of 11 tracks.

Having those wordless excursions between vocal songs here and there lends an added depth to the variety, not to mention focusing on Tones’ production chops exclusively. And he’s quite good, channeling some of the same organic electronic sounds of Four Tet (“Linguis”) or Various Production (“The Void”) but with a more sensual, human touch. Occasionally Tones sets his sights more directly on the dancefloor, such as in the melancholic house touches of “Saltare,” but more often than not he and his chanteuses focus on something more evocative or seductive. Adda Kaleh sings on a couple tracks, and one of my personal favorites is “Maera,” incorporating skittering, busy footwork rhythms with a smooth vocal and a nice treatment of reverb.

The Pathfinder EP preceded the release of Mosaic and includes two tracks from the album (“The Tempest,” again with vocals by Kaleh, and “Pathfinder”). It’s curious that his lead single from the album is instrumental because so much of the album is vocal, but it’s not surprising that he kicked off the EP with “The Tempest,” one of the stronger tracks from Mosaic.

The other two tracks are instrumentals, but show off Tones’ production skills effectively. “Caedis” is a funkier mid-tempo groove that recalls some of the clatter of recent Amon Tobin, while “Summus” is cleaner with a buoyant stride and nice rhythmic details, heavy on cymbals and syncopation. Houndstooth has done a great job releasing music that often doesn’t easily fit into categories or genres, especially in a day and age where labels seem to often have a signature sound wherein many artists tend to sound alike. Throwing Snow breaks the mold in that sense, touching on sounds both familiar, new, and old, but in ways that feel personal, compelling, and rich.

Buy Mosaic: Houndstooth Store | Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon | Emusic
Buy PathfinderHoundstooth Store | Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon | Emusic