Ear Influxion

Magnesii: VD Jam #1 (Voyage Direct Series)
VD Jam #1 is the debut of Magnesii, a previously unknown young Dutch producer. The three tracks on this release for Tom Trago’s Voyage Direct label are smartly dry acid workouts, minimal in arrangement and sequencing, but totally effective. “RZTB Tantra” is the star of the release, starting with a bone dry drum machine loop that only gradually changes, while a percolating acid bassline bubbles to the surface over time. Magnesii slowly turns up the room depth as the bassline grows in body and volume, turning into a more obvious acid riff. It could pass as vintage acid from the late 80s / early 90s, much in the way the music of DMX Krew seems to exist in a time warp that’s unindentifiable.

Magnesii’s tracks here are nearly perfect in this sense, sounding hard to pinpoint in terms of origin, using some reliable and conventional hardware to create tracks that are greater than the sum of their rather spare parts. “Lava Jam” is just as infectious as the A1, again revolving around a repetitive, circular acid hook and a steady, reduced drum track. Add some airy attack pads and it’s a proper nod to vintage acid and Detroit techno all at once. “Van Dyke Island Jam” is the strangest number of the three, full of ratatat snares and a wayward detuned random synth pattern overhead. But its main acid underpinnings and pads tie it together with the other two cuts on the album, giving itself breathing room in and around its more dense moments via a restrained arrangement. Magnesii’s tracks here are unassuming but strangely compelling in their minimalism and understanding of what makes acid so fundamental in the legacy and history of dance music.
Buy it: Boomkat | iTunes | Amazon

Magnesii: VD Jam #1 (Voyage Direct Series)

VD Jam #1 is the debut of Magnesii, a previously unknown young Dutch producer. The three tracks on this release for Tom Trago’s Voyage Direct label are smartly dry acid workouts, minimal in arrangement and sequencing, but totally effective. “RZTB Tantra” is the star of the release, starting with a bone dry drum machine loop that only gradually changes, while a percolating acid bassline bubbles to the surface over time. Magnesii slowly turns up the room depth as the bassline grows in body and volume, turning into a more obvious acid riff. It could pass as vintage acid from the late 80s / early 90s, much in the way the music of DMX Krew seems to exist in a time warp that’s unindentifiable.

Magnesii’s tracks here are nearly perfect in this sense, sounding hard to pinpoint in terms of origin, using some reliable and conventional hardware to create tracks that are greater than the sum of their rather spare parts. “Lava Jam” is just as infectious as the A1, again revolving around a repetitive, circular acid hook and a steady, reduced drum track. Add some airy attack pads and it’s a proper nod to vintage acid and Detroit techno all at once. “Van Dyke Island Jam” is the strangest number of the three, full of ratatat snares and a wayward detuned random synth pattern overhead. But its main acid underpinnings and pads tie it together with the other two cuts on the album, giving itself breathing room in and around its more dense moments via a restrained arrangement. Magnesii’s tracks here are unassuming but strangely compelling in their minimalism and understanding of what makes acid so fundamental in the legacy and history of dance music.

Buy it: Boomkat | iTunes | Amazon

Metrist: The People Without (Resin)
I don’t know much about Metrist as an artist, but I was hooked when I heard the rude sounds of The People Without when skimming new releases on Boomkat. The hybrid of squelchy, abrasive beats and odd, angular sequencing hits a lot of the right spots in my ears, combining industrial grit with an uptempo swing that lends it to the dancefloor for more adventurous DJs.

“Letch” starts things off, with a broken beat that writhes and chugs for the duration, while harsh leads grind away. I’m reminded of the more straightforward rhythmic moments of Ekoplekz or the harder moments of Randomer (but never honoring the impulse to go for a four-to-the-floor kick), sharing that same affinity for distortion and reverb that feels crude and intense but not without some flair. That same broken beat chug appears on “Symphony for the Palpitation,” which is my favorite track of the bunch. Its repetitive synth arps are all the right kinds of intense and gloomy while its beats are chunky and dense, feeling simultaneously urgent and morose. The title denotes the throb at the core of the track appropriately, heaving continuously as the arrangement evolves and flourishes over its duration.

The heaving continues on “Cowlick,” probably the most abrasive of the four cuts here, nary a sound left clean or untouched, all rough around the edges and within. “Stanza for the Weak” is the only track that drops a more expected techno kick, still with that industrial edge and a harrowing lead and bassline that recall the most nightmarish moments of Aphex Twin over a more traditional pulsating rhythm section. All in all, Metrist’s tracks here are likely to appeal to fans of the more industrial-crossover side of techno and dance music, perhaps a kindred spirit to artists or outlets like Perc, Randomer, Stroboscopic Artefacts, or Diamond Version, but with a distinctly crude edge that actively tints and enhances the music. 
Buy it: Boomkat | iTunes | Amazon

Metrist: The People Without (Resin)

I don’t know much about Metrist as an artist, but I was hooked when I heard the rude sounds of The People Without when skimming new releases on Boomkat. The hybrid of squelchy, abrasive beats and odd, angular sequencing hits a lot of the right spots in my ears, combining industrial grit with an uptempo swing that lends it to the dancefloor for more adventurous DJs.

“Letch” starts things off, with a broken beat that writhes and chugs for the duration, while harsh leads grind away. I’m reminded of the more straightforward rhythmic moments of Ekoplekz or the harder moments of Randomer (but never honoring the impulse to go for a four-to-the-floor kick), sharing that same affinity for distortion and reverb that feels crude and intense but not without some flair. That same broken beat chug appears on “Symphony for the Palpitation,” which is my favorite track of the bunch. Its repetitive synth arps are all the right kinds of intense and gloomy while its beats are chunky and dense, feeling simultaneously urgent and morose. The title denotes the throb at the core of the track appropriately, heaving continuously as the arrangement evolves and flourishes over its duration.

The heaving continues on “Cowlick,” probably the most abrasive of the four cuts here, nary a sound left clean or untouched, all rough around the edges and within. “Stanza for the Weak” is the only track that drops a more expected techno kick, still with that industrial edge and a harrowing lead and bassline that recall the most nightmarish moments of Aphex Twin over a more traditional pulsating rhythm section. All in all, Metrist’s tracks here are likely to appeal to fans of the more industrial-crossover side of techno and dance music, perhaps a kindred spirit to artists or outlets like Perc, Randomer, Stroboscopic Artefacts, or Diamond Version, but with a distinctly crude edge that actively tints and enhances the music. 

Buy it: BoomkatiTunes | Amazon

Miles: “Lustre” (Facets, Modern Love 2011)

This track from Miles Whittaker, perhaps better known as one half of experimental electronic duo Demdike Stare, included this dreamy number on his solo debut, just one of four solid tracks that show off his versatility as a producer and creator. Like those of Demdike Stare, many of Miles’ tracks have a dark shadow looming overhead, something ominous but not yet defined. The slow groove that develops makes “Lustre” one of my favorites of all of his cuts, splitting the difference between Demdike Stare’s more harrowing soundscapes and Modern Love cohort Andy Stott’s slow, deep jams.

Liebe Ist Cool: “Liebe Ist Cool” (1, 2004)

I’m not actually sure if this Liebe Ist Cool track is eponymous or not, but I’m going with that based on their discography and what little I could find online. I have always treasured their second album (aptly named 2), and I was looking for tracks from it on YouTube when I discovered this one. I never acquired the full first album, only some singles, so this was new to me. This track represents everything lovely about them, infectious and charming and alien and sweet.

Mark Wundercastle: Cell (1080p)
New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based producer Mark Wundercastle’s blend of techno influences feels at once euphoric and claustrophobic, dense with sound and often clipping in the red, a little added distress of distortion on the top layer. It recalls the harder techno of the turn of the century, combining some nods to vintage hardcore with renewed enthusiasm. Opening cut “AC” isn’t the best benchmark for what’s to follow, but it does show off Wundercastle’s love of Detroit second wave techno, with clear nods to Carl Craig and company. (Free download of “AC” on SoundCloud!)

However, it’s on the subsequent tracks that his hybrid of coarser sounds and jacked-up beat making really comes together with style. Right out of the gate, “FDRM” is far more aggressive and punchier than the opener, with a distorted hardcore kick and a bit of industrial bite in the arrangement, with a bulbous acid bassline and skittering 909 hihats. He still demonstrates plenty of love for Detroit in the momentous pads that move it along, still sounding uplifting even amidst the more crowded production and effects that characterize his palette. I think what makes Wundercastle’s music sound so nostalgic is that it appears that he’s largely using tried and true gear to make these tracks, with nods to acid, established reliable hardware like the TR-909, and cleverly timed nods to 90s party culture, particularly in the relentless piano licks of “Piano Jakker.”

“NAP” is built primarily around a languid, looping sample and a punchy, aggressive 909 drum track, all thick piank noise snares and big, slamming kick drums. It’s a welcome change-up when its drums fall out to allow for some sense of space, and it’s that push and pull between maximized, filled-in sound and more spacious resting points that makes Cell a dynamic listen. At times that aggressive, pummeling rhythm reminds me of vintage Prototype 909, working with some similar sounds but through the lens of passed time. My favorite might be “Gute Zeitan” (“Good Times”), which has a spirited, anthemic refrain that’s tempered by some ruder, more aggressive drumming, pounding away but with a big fat smile the whole time. It seems to epitomize Wundercastle’s love of late 90s techno and a touch of the rave spirit with delight and a wink, both harsh and joyous.
Buy it: Bandcamp

Mark Wundercastle: Cell (1080p)

New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based producer Mark Wundercastle’s blend of techno influences feels at once euphoric and claustrophobic, dense with sound and often clipping in the red, a little added distress of distortion on the top layer. It recalls the harder techno of the turn of the century, combining some nods to vintage hardcore with renewed enthusiasm. Opening cut “AC” isn’t the best benchmark for what’s to follow, but it does show off Wundercastle’s love of Detroit second wave techno, with clear nods to Carl Craig and company. (Free download of “AC” on SoundCloud!)

However, it’s on the subsequent tracks that his hybrid of coarser sounds and jacked-up beat making really comes together with style. Right out of the gate, “FDRM” is far more aggressive and punchier than the opener, with a distorted hardcore kick and a bit of industrial bite in the arrangement, with a bulbous acid bassline and skittering 909 hihats. He still demonstrates plenty of love for Detroit in the momentous pads that move it along, still sounding uplifting even amidst the more crowded production and effects that characterize his palette. I think what makes Wundercastle’s music sound so nostalgic is that it appears that he’s largely using tried and true gear to make these tracks, with nods to acid, established reliable hardware like the TR-909, and cleverly timed nods to 90s party culture, particularly in the relentless piano licks of “Piano Jakker.”

“NAP” is built primarily around a languid, looping sample and a punchy, aggressive 909 drum track, all thick piank noise snares and big, slamming kick drums. It’s a welcome change-up when its drums fall out to allow for some sense of space, and it’s that push and pull between maximized, filled-in sound and more spacious resting points that makes Cell a dynamic listen. At times that aggressive, pummeling rhythm reminds me of vintage Prototype 909, working with some similar sounds but through the lens of passed time. My favorite might be “Gute Zeitan” (“Good Times”), which has a spirited, anthemic refrain that’s tempered by some ruder, more aggressive drumming, pounding away but with a big fat smile the whole time. It seems to epitomize Wundercastle’s love of late 90s techno and a touch of the rave spirit with delight and a wink, both harsh and joyous.

Buy it: Bandcamp

Imprints: Data Trails (Serein)
Imprints is a trio from London, and Data Trails is their second release after a two-part self-released debut. It’s their first for Welsh label Serein, and my first exposure to both the band and the label. The album is broken up into five pieces, some quite long, and it starts off beautifully with the twelve-minute “Horror Birds.” Patient listeners will no doubt be rewarded as it progresses from a faint, droning murmur to a gorgeous, understated arrangement for guitar, bass, and electronics. To me this sort of splits the difference between post-rock acts like Tortoise (in their most spare, early incarnations) and the gliding vibe of Emeralds, but without the jazz leanings of the former or the synth arps or guitar sprawl of the latter… so these are perhaps oblique touchpoints at best. The two longest pieces here are probably my favorite, wherein the trio has plenty of room to roam, taking their time as their ideas unfold gradually. It’s an album best experienced in proper sequence, start to finish, as the group takes listeners on a journey with peaks and valleys along the way that are well worth attentive listening.

After “Horror Birds” reveals itself to be quite lovely as an opening piece, it’s complemented heartily by a slow, patient upright bass on “Longshore Drift” (appropriately named), its strings buzzing against the casing while harmonics and some light sequencing quietly glide in the periphery. But perhaps the most stunning piece is last, succeeding largely by virtue of its relationship to the four that precede it. “The Sea & Electricity” reveals the trio to be quite capable of lovely, melodic, and harmonious sound as delayed guitar and bass recall the most gorgeous moments of Mogwai’s repertoire, a live drum kit revealing itself over time as it builds into a full-bodied, sweet finale. Given the plethora of post-rock and experimental rock groups making music these days, it’s satisfying to hear Imprints make their mark so strongly with this concise, well-crafted album. Highly recommended listening.
Buy it: Bandcamp | Boomkat | iTunes | Amazon

Imprints: Data Trails (Serein)

Imprints is a trio from London, and Data Trails is their second release after a two-part self-released debut. It’s their first for Welsh label Serein, and my first exposure to both the band and the label. The album is broken up into five pieces, some quite long, and it starts off beautifully with the twelve-minute “Horror Birds.” Patient listeners will no doubt be rewarded as it progresses from a faint, droning murmur to a gorgeous, understated arrangement for guitar, bass, and electronics. To me this sort of splits the difference between post-rock acts like Tortoise (in their most spare, early incarnations) and the gliding vibe of Emeralds, but without the jazz leanings of the former or the synth arps or guitar sprawl of the latter… so these are perhaps oblique touchpoints at best. The two longest pieces here are probably my favorite, wherein the trio has plenty of room to roam, taking their time as their ideas unfold gradually. It’s an album best experienced in proper sequence, start to finish, as the group takes listeners on a journey with peaks and valleys along the way that are well worth attentive listening.

After “Horror Birds” reveals itself to be quite lovely as an opening piece, it’s complemented heartily by a slow, patient upright bass on “Longshore Drift” (appropriately named), its strings buzzing against the casing while harmonics and some light sequencing quietly glide in the periphery. But perhaps the most stunning piece is last, succeeding largely by virtue of its relationship to the four that precede it. “The Sea & Electricity” reveals the trio to be quite capable of lovely, melodic, and harmonious sound as delayed guitar and bass recall the most gorgeous moments of Mogwai’s repertoire, a live drum kit revealing itself over time as it builds into a full-bodied, sweet finale. Given the plethora of post-rock and experimental rock groups making music these days, it’s satisfying to hear Imprints make their mark so strongly with this concise, well-crafted album. Highly recommended listening.

Buy it: Bandcamp | Boomkat | iTunes | Amazon

Machinedrum: “Now U Know Tha Deal 4 Real (Lando Kal Remix)” (Room(s) Extended, 2012)

Lando Kal’s remix of Machinedrum’s “Now U Know Tha Deal 4 Real” is a hidden gem tucked away on the second half of the expanded re-release of Machinedrum’s excellent Room(s) album, which also happened to be Ear Influxion’s favorite album of 2011. Instead of the skittering, syncopated footwork of the original, he takes it in the direction of a deep, acid-tinged throb. 

Akkord: HTH020 (Houndstooth)
Akkord follows their stellar debut album on Houndstooth with this addendum of 4 new ones. One of the things I loved about their first EP and album were that they seemed unafraid to assimilate en vogue sounds of the moment with gestures and flourishes from the past as well as technically perfect and occasionally askew production that recalled the studio chops of Autechre. “Gravure,” the first track, starts off unassumingly with a crinkly dub treatment, all sparse beats and little drum & bass synth zaps enhanced by surface noise, reverb, and delay, with a keen sense of patience and space.

With “Continuum,” they change the game up a bit more, though. It’s built around a patient breakbeat rhythm pattern that recalls the dubby underpinnings of mid-90s Meat Beat Manifesto with more nods to drum & bass’s insurgence around the same time, particularly with stuttering vocal bits, bass zaps, and rhythmic flourishes. “Typeface” is all rims, tapping away steadily like a leaky faucet before it settles into a syncopated groove, mostly dry and no nonsense, with only the slightest suggestion of a bassline and no melody to be found whatsoever. It takes cues from some of the percussive grooves on Hessle (for example, Joe or Pearson Sound) but dries them out and slows them down, giving the track a cold aloofness that feels somehow inspired.

“Greyscale” is another dubbed out dark track, with a halfbeat moving about half its usual speed, and drones swirling in the background with dizzying effects. Nothing on the EP really matches the clip or intensity of much of their self-titled album, released late last year, and I find these more spacious excursions to be picking up on some of the same dark inspiration behind the music of Demdike Stare, but with a cleaner aesthetic and crisp execution. It’s a fitting corollary to the higher energy of the album, turning up the darkness and slowing down the meter as the night plunges on.
Buy it: Houndstooth | Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon | Emusic

Akkord: HTH020 (Houndstooth)

Akkord follows their stellar debut album on Houndstooth with this addendum of 4 new ones. One of the things I loved about their first EP and album were that they seemed unafraid to assimilate en vogue sounds of the moment with gestures and flourishes from the past as well as technically perfect and occasionally askew production that recalled the studio chops of Autechre. “Gravure,” the first track, starts off unassumingly with a crinkly dub treatment, all sparse beats and little drum & bass synth zaps enhanced by surface noise, reverb, and delay, with a keen sense of patience and space.

With “Continuum,” they change the game up a bit more, though. It’s built around a patient breakbeat rhythm pattern that recalls the dubby underpinnings of mid-90s Meat Beat Manifesto with more nods to drum & bass’s insurgence around the same time, particularly with stuttering vocal bits, bass zaps, and rhythmic flourishes. “Typeface” is all rims, tapping away steadily like a leaky faucet before it settles into a syncopated groove, mostly dry and no nonsense, with only the slightest suggestion of a bassline and no melody to be found whatsoever. It takes cues from some of the percussive grooves on Hessle (for example, Joe or Pearson Sound) but dries them out and slows them down, giving the track a cold aloofness that feels somehow inspired.

“Greyscale” is another dubbed out dark track, with a halfbeat moving about half its usual speed, and drones swirling in the background with dizzying effects. Nothing on the EP really matches the clip or intensity of much of their self-titled album, released late last year, and I find these more spacious excursions to be picking up on some of the same dark inspiration behind the music of Demdike Stare, but with a cleaner aesthetic and crisp execution. It’s a fitting corollary to the higher energy of the album, turning up the darkness and slowing down the meter as the night plunges on.

Buy it: Houndstooth | Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon | Emusic