Ear Influxion

AD Bourke: Equal Turns EP (Five Fold)
Four tracks of fairly streamlined tech-house from Adam Bourke that owe plenty to turn of the century Forcetracks, particularly on the jaunty hook and bassline of “Divvy,” reminding me so much of some of the Digital Disco tracks Forcetracks explored with compilations in 2001-02 or so. This is not a bad thing, either — it’s a slick sound that almost always sounds good to my ears. “Driving Flow” has more of a spacious, late night vibe to it, perfect for night driving in the dark. “Redlight” picks up a bit on Detroit techno with its coursing pads and insistent hi-hats, but I’m partial to the warm comedown of “Naked Eye,” more directly disco and house-inspired with clean piano chords and beatless arrangement, likely to appeal to fans of the smooth disco-infused sounds of recent Daft Punk. But in general, the sound elsewhere is much more techno-leaning, with a nice balance of moods and paces.

Buy it: Bandcamp | Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon

AD Bourke: Equal Turns EP (Five Fold)

Four tracks of fairly streamlined tech-house from Adam Bourke that owe plenty to turn of the century Forcetracks, particularly on the jaunty hook and bassline of “Divvy,” reminding me so much of some of the Digital Disco tracks Forcetracks explored with compilations in 2001-02 or so. This is not a bad thing, either — it’s a slick sound that almost always sounds good to my ears. “Driving Flow” has more of a spacious, late night vibe to it, perfect for night driving in the dark. “Redlight” picks up a bit on Detroit techno with its coursing pads and insistent hi-hats, but I’m partial to the warm comedown of “Naked Eye,” more directly disco and house-inspired with clean piano chords and beatless arrangement, likely to appeal to fans of the smooth disco-infused sounds of recent Daft Punk. But in general, the sound elsewhere is much more techno-leaning, with a nice balance of moods and paces.

Buy it: Bandcamp | Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon

The Flashbulb: Nothing Is Real (Bandcamp)
Benn Lee Jordan’s music as the Flashbulb has really evolved over time, starting off as a somewhat petulant drill & bass producer with ADHD (hot on the heels of Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James style) and then migrating progressively into more and more lush and accomplished production. His previous album Arboreal was my first exposure to his music since 2003’s girls.suck.but.YOU.dont, and it was a far cry — so much more evolved and unique and interesting. Nothing Is Real continues along the same trajectory, with a whopping twenty-two pieces that veer from lush, cinematic ambience to more melancholic disco crossovers. More elaborate, beatless arrangements like “Troubled Plains,” “Mysterious Wall,” and “I Can Feel It Humming” show off Jordan’s talents as a pianist, guitarist, and arranger, with swooning string arrangements and tight, detailed production to seal the deal.

One thing that’s proved so satisfying about recent Flashbulb albums, much like those of Chris Clark on Warp, is that I get the impression that he continually pushing himself to try new things, to be unafraid to tackle new ideas, fuse together conventions in interesting ways, not feel tied to any specific pace, mood, or vibe. And yet Nothing Is Real is a rousing success for all of those reasons, sounding whole by virtue of its variety. Its pieces and parts don’t feel unrelated, but they do offer up a high amount of variety. There are shades of Hauschka or Christian Löffler on slightly pulsing numbers like “Prayers Without Gods” or “Nothing But Lines,” but these are a healthy bridge between the aforementioned more cinematic pieces and more beat-laden works like “Rose Hierarchy” or “Neon Wireframe Landscape.” Only on “Hymn to the Unobtainable” does he appear to fully indulge his drumming skills, with what sounds like a more acoustic kit in the mix (on Arboreal it popped up a bit more regularly). Nothing Is Real is far less IDM-influenced than its predecessor, more at ease with letting the bottom drop out while the more delicate components of his pieces remain in tact more clearly, allowing their own prettiness to flourish fully without the counterpoint of touches of acid or breaks, and instead simply roaming and being the more ephemeral sounds they need to be this time around. It’s a satisfying and twisting and turning hour plus of quality music, worth checking out for fans of inspired electronic instrumental listening. 
Buy it: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon | AlphaBasic (CD)

The Flashbulb: Nothing Is Real (Bandcamp)

Benn Lee Jordan’s music as the Flashbulb has really evolved over time, starting off as a somewhat petulant drill & bass producer with ADHD (hot on the heels of Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James style) and then migrating progressively into more and more lush and accomplished production. His previous album Arboreal was my first exposure to his music since 2003’s girls.suck.but.YOU.dont, and it was a far cry — so much more evolved and unique and interesting. Nothing Is Real continues along the same trajectory, with a whopping twenty-two pieces that veer from lush, cinematic ambience to more melancholic disco crossovers. More elaborate, beatless arrangements like “Troubled Plains,” “Mysterious Wall,” and “I Can Feel It Humming” show off Jordan’s talents as a pianist, guitarist, and arranger, with swooning string arrangements and tight, detailed production to seal the deal.

One thing that’s proved so satisfying about recent Flashbulb albums, much like those of Chris Clark on Warp, is that I get the impression that he continually pushing himself to try new things, to be unafraid to tackle new ideas, fuse together conventions in interesting ways, not feel tied to any specific pace, mood, or vibe. And yet Nothing Is Real is a rousing success for all of those reasons, sounding whole by virtue of its variety. Its pieces and parts don’t feel unrelated, but they do offer up a high amount of variety. There are shades of Hauschka or Christian Löffler on slightly pulsing numbers like “Prayers Without Gods” or “Nothing But Lines,” but these are a healthy bridge between the aforementioned more cinematic pieces and more beat-laden works like “Rose Hierarchy” or “Neon Wireframe Landscape.” Only on “Hymn to the Unobtainable” does he appear to fully indulge his drumming skills, with what sounds like a more acoustic kit in the mix (on Arboreal it popped up a bit more regularly). Nothing Is Real is far less IDM-influenced than its predecessor, more at ease with letting the bottom drop out while the more delicate components of his pieces remain in tact more clearly, allowing their own prettiness to flourish fully without the counterpoint of touches of acid or breaks, and instead simply roaming and being the more ephemeral sounds they need to be this time around. It’s a satisfying and twisting and turning hour plus of quality music, worth checking out for fans of inspired electronic instrumental listening. 

Buy it: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon | AlphaBasic (CD)

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.