Sunday, July 31, 2011
Absolutely mind-blowing band from Glasgow, Scotland featuring members of Lanterns and Nackt Insecten. Bombast, monumental droning psychedelic rock jams with a touch of free improv and space rock. The guitarwork and the freestyle drumming really remind me of Flower-Corsano Duo. An absolute must have for every fan of the outer limits of psychedelia.
After the cosmic sadness of Our Star, the Sun and the dusted, lo-fi folk ballads of No Becoming, I didn’t believe LA’s Lee Noble is able to surprise me much. So when I got Persona, the newest c40 from Bridgetown Records (including a sticker advertising Horrorism, Lee’s upcoming debut vinyl on Bathetic), I was expecting either lo-fi introvertisms or beautiful synth drones.
How surprised I was when the very first track on side A, “Beached”, started with hazy, tribal drumming and a synth melody snaking its way through the loops, like something straight out of Monopoly Child Star Searcher’s Bamboo for Two! This mysterious tropical illusion brings to mind the numerous side-projects of members of the Skaters, as well as the work of Lieven Martens (aka Dolphins Into the Future). Noble creates a half-forgotten memory of a beach and lying in palm shades on a sunny day without resorting to the tiring murk of many lo-fi psych acts or the clichés of chillwave. The coconut jam seamlessly blends into “Personal Day”, a light-filled ambient journey, bright and clear, with serene synth cascades and gentle acoustic guitar bringing the peace of mind and a calm contemplation, which is somewhat untypical for Noble’s work, who created his style around slightly darker music. Side A is closed by “Carve an Image”, a synth-driven ballad, reflecting the melancholic “hit” from Lee’s previous cassette, “Doesn’t Matter What’s Right”, this time in a purely electronic form.
Side B’s “Skin and Hair” again employs guitar, Lee’s voice and distant synth noises, which create at the same time an intimate, bedroom atmosphere and a vast, ambient-ish atmosphere filled with rumbles and bodiless choirs, like a more intimate, less bombast version of Amnesiac era Radiohead, down to the vocals which sometimes sound a lot like Thom Yorke’s. “Eyes Meet the Night” lies somewhere between the wasteland drone of Noble’s own Our Star, the Sun and the vintage dust of Brother Raven which later turns into a series of shimmering needle-like sounds reverbing all over the tape in a truly kosmisch manner. The closing “Straight Black” stomps on the more traditional Lee Noble ground, marrying massive, dark drones known from his early cassettes with acoustic guitar and narcotic, Brightblack Morning Light-style vocals existing in a state between sleep and waking life. The track closes the cassette in a melancholic tone, creating a full circle of moods.
Lee Noble isn’t afraid to experiment with style and moods, constantly adding new elements to his oeuvre while retaining the distinctly personal style – whether it’s a warm drone or an uplifting guitar ballad, you just know it’s him. And that’s what makes Lee Noble exceptional.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Brand new album by Glaswegian ambientalist Derek McArthur. Going against the grain and refusing to use any computers (except for recording), purely guitar-based introspectives. Personal and beautiful. Featuring Adam Cooley (of Scissor Shock, Robe., etc.) on "Diadem of Blood". Recommended.
Tidal’s Jimmy Billigham of United Kingdom can be seen as one of the representatives of the minimal, raw approach to ambient/drone music. While there are musicians in the scene who go for the 80’s nostalgia, even with a certain flair of kitsch (Oneohtrix Point Never, Emeralds), or the ones who look into the future trying to blend new age revival with glitch or minimal techno beats (Carl Calm, A. Pushkin, Quartz Safari), Tidal goes with the most basic and simplest (and sometimes most effective!) way of solid drone set by the likes of Bee Mask.
Side A’s “Venusian Tales” begins with what appears to be an ancient (actually, it might be brand new, it is the subject matter and quality that gives it an aged, 60’s feel) recording of a man recalling his astral travels (describing what he saw – a magnificent alien civilization). A cosmic drone with a feel of relentlessness (although not a tiring type of relentlessness) rises from the muffled vocals and takes over the track for 20 minutes. There isn’t much change throughout the track – the sound it at the same time minimal and maximal, barely straying away from the majestic central drone, yet always extremely busy, a sonic equivalent of warm magma flowing into your ear.
Side B’s “Sundial” continues the scheme started on side A, burying the listeners in endless tides of soft, cosmic ambience with pulsing, rumbling bass with almost no change in pitch whatsoever – a sort of lush, lethargic rest music which characterized Fabio Orsi’s Winterreise (one of my favorite albums for falling asleep, ever). Tidal’s The Future of Illusion might become another one of my favorite albums for falling asleep, especially side B. Jimmy Billigham might not be breaking any new ground in his music (so far, but everything can change in the future!), but he does the job right and creates some righteous zones to float in.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
A while ago I received a package containing three CD-R's with hand-made packaging from a Brooklyn, NY citizen David Drucker and his solo Painted Faces project. Three CD-R's filled to the brim with post-everything outsider experimentalism, ranging from bursts of cold, guitar-based noise to bucolic psychedelic folk improvisations and a shitton of guitar effects, reverbs, delays, overdubs and whatever else was going through this dude's head when recording those albums. The closest point of reference in my previous posts would be the work of Bob Bucko Jr, but damn, David Druckner is just so much weirder. Raw, true, densely layered and just impossible to pigeonhole. Channeling the spirits of the original Dadaists and Butthole Surfers. Recommended! All albums available for free on Bandcamp, you can visit his Myspace, too.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Live material recorded during Brian Pyle's performance on the KHSU Radio just a few days ago. Delicious dark sampledelia in the vein of Psychical (worth checking out for "Do You", based around a sample from Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" alone) and a taste of Ensemble Econimique's forthcoming LP on Dekorder.
The beginning of Kraken Mare’s self-titled cassette begins with an al most Morse Code-like sound, which immediately reminded me of the opening sounds of This Heat’s 1979 self-titled album or the Peel Sessions rendition of their “Horizontal Hold”. Knowing how dark This Heat is, I shivered with excitement listening to the cassette, even though I knew it’s not gonna be similar to This Heat at all outside of this similar beginning.
Kraken Mare is named after the biggest lake on Titan, one of Saturn’s moon’s. The darkness and coldness of that place is reflected not only by the sounds on the cassette, two sprawling slabs of alien noise/drone filth, relentlessly cutting its way through the tape; but also by the abstract artwork kept in the toxic green color palette and song titles like “Methane Rain”. Side A’s “Night on Mayda Insula” conjures an image of a lonely research station on Titan, at the shore of Kraken Mare – a battered, sturdy complex of thick metal, looking more like concrete bunkers than the state-of-the-art space technology. Low frequency drone breaths slowly while electronics shimmer and sparkle, collecting and interchanging data about the dark body of liquid. The brooding drone seems to be calling from the lake, from a life-form still yet unknown to the Earth scientists. The track has a heavy atmosphere of mystery, becoming an abstract soundtrack to a non-existent sci-fi movie – while not being as thoroughly planned as Logan Seguin’s “concept” album SS-VNTRX-34000 - Original Film Soundtrack, it has a certain cinematic ambience to it.
Side B’s “Methane Rain” begins with a quiet, ominous hum, like the heavy clouds of methane gathering on the horizon in the endless night of Titan. Gradually, the wall of caustic noise drowns out all the sounds and the echoed outer-space sine waves rise and fall, rising above the methane storm. The haunted, high-pitched pulsations interact with the harsh textures and what appears to be a bird chirp can he heard once in a while – like a bird in a cage brought from Earth to the research station on Titan to provide a relief from the dead surroundings and the metallic confinement of the station, now attacked by the acidic rainfall and violent wind. The wall of noise then dies out, leaving only a quiet hum from the beginning and creating a space full of echoed glitches and malfunctioning electronics, creating all sorts of squeals and washes of white noise. The track ends with the final blast of synthesizer abuse fury.
Kraken Mare is an interesting concept – continuing the dark, post-apoc imagery started with Den, Adam transforms the darkness into the synthesizer idiom, infecting the circuits with grime and sludge. No instrument is safe.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Giant Claw’s Keith Rankin, Sarah Wonderling and Ryan Dixon are certainly far more proggy than most of their contemporaries – while most synthesists are satisfied with a simple, yet somewhat catchy melody (or even a skeleton of a melody hidden under lo-fi murk) or a wonderful sequencer setup, for Giant Claw it’s just the beginning.
Side A, “Mortal Earth” is an example of this. Although it’s largely based on sequencers and pads like everyone else’s music, Giant Claw can insert surprising changes in their music, like the sudden, almost baroque break around the middle of the track, giving a bit of a tongue-in-cheek air to the whole cassette, which is rare in a scene where everyone try to create the most seriously zoned out/floating piece of music. Despite its quirkiness (there is even a whimsical flute-like part towards the end!), the music never strays into the pure novelty territory. Instead, it manages to be lighthearted while still being high-spirited and awe-inspiring.
Despite it’s dark name, side B’s “Morbid Earth” is not morbid at all – instead, it’s just as uplifting and somewhat quirky as side A, sprinkling the listener with light and playful arpeggios while a steady rhythm gives the whole side a bright, dancey side, bringing a less drone-based Astral Social Club to mind. Sunny arpeggios roll in and out and melodies keep unveiling. The sound is rich and layered, yet it doesn’t have the tiring “synth overkill” characteristic for, say, the latest Emeralds album. Mortal Earth/Morbid Earth is a rich, joyous progressive synthesizer suite suited for those who want to zone out to vintage electronic beauty without falling into a drone-induced lethargy.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Even without listening to the tape, one can see from the packaging alone that Matthew Akers’ The Elders of New Detroit is ripe with retrofuturistic sci-fi and action film imagery, down to the quote from Philip K. Dick’s Second Variety. What is more, the press release cover the typical plot of an 80’s action b-movie: “Black limousines silently roll into view as dope-slinging shit bags congregate at the docks, poised to pull off the biggest scag deal in Detroit. Everything is going as planned until the shipment barge from Windsor is suspiciously late and the inside guy at the police station is not responding. Gunshots break out from all directions as the Detroit 5-0 suddenly storm onto the scene. Que Matt Akers’s synth grooves to bust in on top of the hailing bullets & gratuitous explosions as we root for a scrappy detective who manages to lay waste to every crooked fucker there & clean up the Motor City, once and for all”. Akers stresses in the liner notes that no MIDI or samples were used in the creation of the cassette, which makes it all the more impressive.
The music itself is both a tribute and a descendant to the movie soundtracks of John Carpenter and his countless followers, the ultra-polished and purely synth soundtracks of so many movies from the 1980’s. Similarly to the modern macabre techno Chicagoans from Gatekeeper or the French horrorists from Zombie Zombie, Matthew Akers fits into the growing crowd of John Carpenter revivalists. While the opening notes of side A might give a false impression of being an atmospheric drift analog ambient track in the vein of Berlin School, they soon develop into something much more sophisticated and evocative, adding the mandatory hard rock guitar riffs to accentuate the manliness of the synth sounds. After the drums kick in we get a full fledged, sweaty and uplifting soundtrack for a non-existant movie. The pulsing synth solo at the end of “The Elders of New Detroit” is simply the icing on the cake, a crowning moment of the opening theme, where we can imagine a dystopian (then) future city (it’s an interesting coincidence – I got the tape just a day after I watched RoboCop, nice).
The first track on the flipside, “The Mercenary”, doesn’t fuck around with proggy openings. Instead, it just immediately plunges the listener into the acid house bliss, a deceptively simple yet effective track with simple synth pads over even simpler drums (including fake handclaps, oh the nostalgia!). The hypnotic disco of this track gives images of an exhausting and narcotized Saturday night in a hot and overcrowded shady nightclub. The closing track, “And Man Lives On” is more relaxed and reflective, a certain toning down from the previous track excess. Still basing on slow drums, the track features ambiental waves of synths, creating an almost meditative ending soundscape.
Now that we have “carpentercore” musicians we only need “carpentercore” filmmakers, who will make movies like they used to do, movies with animatronics and matte paintings instead of CGI and oldschool synth soundtracks instead of nu-metal ones. Keepin’ it old school, y’know.
Although Bob Bucko Jr’s name seems to be tailored for a traditional country/blues/folk singer, he prefers to think outside the box and expand to other genres, while often staying in the singer/songwriter territory. The Volte Face CD is a compilation of three EP’s released over the years which show the eclectic and hard-to-categorize style of this Dubuque, IA based musician.
The album can be divided into three parts – probably representing the different style of the EP’s. The first few tracks off the album are deep in the lo-fi noisy free improv category – these are not truly songs, more like random, unfinished sketches with some distorted vocals here, some flanged drums there, some Magik Markers-style guitar mutilation somewhere else (“Driving Eyes Open”) or some droning sax alienation (“Driving Eyes Closed”). Too bad Bob didn’t develop some of those short tracks, because many of them show real promise – like the cold post-punk/no wave feel of “Timing is Something”, which lasts for only a minute and 23 seconds.
The second part of the album reveals the calmer, more melodic, guitar-based side of Bob Bucko Jr. Most tracks are simple, somewhat melancholic drumless guitar improvisations, like the “(Song Written About a) Telephone (Conversation)”, or the 10-minute “Temple Walls/1st War”, which brings to mind an image of the stripped-down (and toned down) Sunburned Hand of the Man jamming. But even here there are surprises – like the summery, front porch ballad “Love Plasm/Luv Psalm”, which suddenly turns into an manic acid techno jam in the middle of the track. Truly a brave move – and it works!!
The third of the album is a sort of a balance between noisy electronic experimentation and guitar passages, where both territories often overlap and interact with each other, creating an abstract, adventurous journey. Again, some short sketches which show real potential – like a densely layered psychedelic folk of “In Such and Such Place We Place Our Trust”, which could easily go for at least 10, yet lasts only a minute and 26 seconds. Here are also some of the most minimal tracks on the whole album – like the scarce field recording collage of “To the West There is a Village” or the folky “Your Mama Was the Backbeat Soul Train”, which gradually turns into a folky noisefest with all sorts of distortions thrown in.
Volte Face shows what an eclectic musician Bob Bucko Jr is and how much he can possibly achieve if he decides to forge a characteristic style, which may combine folky guitar ballads with explosions of noise. Kinda like Kites, but without separating between the noise and the folk.
Friday, July 22, 2011
On his third cassette release, Jason „Stitched Vision” Campbell keeps refining his sound while keeping the characteristic warm sandpaper-y textures to his drones. Every track on Fold follows the similar formula of a beautiful, yet somewhat sour and morose melody emerging from the throbbing drone. The example of this is the opening “Abalone Diver”, in which lonely, sequencer-rich notes rise from the stormy sea of low-frequency pulses, which rises and falls. Or the kosmische “Glass Palace”, where synth pads create an icy soundscape perfect for winter stargazing (well, if I’m not mistaken, it’s winter right now in Australia, am I correct?).
It is on Fold where Campbell finally focuses less on the wall of drones and more on the melodies – the drones are still there, and are still prominent, but now they don’t take the spotlight anymore, they don’t drown out the shy, background melodies. It’s as if he took confidence in his song-writing (or maybe track-writing?) skills – the best example is the apex of the cassette, side B opener “Observation Deck”, where Jason reaches new heights of sad beauty with sweeping sequences and gentle droning a’la early Mist releases or guitar-less Emeralds at their most introverted (think Allegory of Allergies, only less sprawling).
It is obvious now, over the course of three cassettes, that Stitched Vision is constantly refining his skills, constantly looking for a personal, immediately recognizable style which will be purely his own. Jason Campbell might be a pearl diver, looking for the one special pearl under the stormy sea of vintage drones.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Time for a little self-promotion. This is my first album ever (well, actually second, if a pretty boring EP recorded under my real name is counted). The quality is very lo-fi, and it's rather forced than planned (I was recording straight from computer in real time with no overdubs to the cassette player and I used a recycled cassette - from 1991, no less!). Most of the tracks are simple vintage analog synth ambience with simple melodies and lots of sequencers, with the exception of the first track, which is more in the drone/noise territory (a sort of a "tribute" to my very first "musical project" Lux Rectum back in 2006 and early 2007). Enjoy the listening, any opinions and criticisms are very welcome, I'm gonna keep working to release more and better stuff! Personally, I like how nice the tracks "Overlooking the Valley" and "Chrome Lodge" turned out, considering it was recorded in real time.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Frank Baugh, the driving force behind Sparkling Wide Pressure and Kimberly Dawn Recordings put the vast majority of his recordings on Bandcamp. Baugh plays calm, soothing, mostly guitar-based (but synths are no exception) music in the vein of Sean McCann, often basing on dreamy explorations and improvisations. Let the sound sink and in and let the float begin.
If Brandon Knocke's album isn't what Keenan described as "hypnagogic pop", then I don't know what is. Maybe it's something more - eschewing the hazy, lo-fi sound for a crystal clear, sprawling and lush production. The music of Discoverer is a sort of ambientalized, instrumental minimal synth/synth pop, with slow beats giving pace for retrofuturistic synth sounds. The closest reference would be Dan Lopatin's (aka Oneohtrix Point Never) remix of Chris de Burgh's "Lady in Red", but here the songs are 100% original and not sampled/remixed etc. Like playing GTA Vice City on your drug of choice. Ultra fucking highly super recommended.
Originally released on cassette on Overland Shark
Discoverer - Gestures from Heuback on Vimeo.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Justin Marc Lloyd gradually made his name in the Baltimore underground through his massively prolific noise/harsh noise project Dim Dusk Moving Gloom, later renamed Pregnant Spore. With Dementia and Hope Trails he decided to take things in the new, less noisy and more floating direction. While his Depress still had a lot of harsh ambience to it, Ethereal Hurt is much more polished and smoothed out. Two 10-minute long sides of textural, echoing drone much in the vein of Geoff Sexton’s Suburban Sun Births, although not as dark. Lloyd creates an otherworldly thick fog with God knows how many effects, creating that familiar “what the fuck did he use to create this sound” feeling, which I had for the first time when I heard Super Minerals’ “Abyssal” off their The Pelagics.
The first of the two tracks, “Go” (or at least I think it’s the first, the sides are not labeled A and B), conjures up what appears to be a synthesizer equivalent of shoegaze, the extremely stretched out variety of shoegaze that is. It’s hard to recognize the melodies in this – if there are any – all the note changes are in such a distance from each other that it might also be a skeleton of a melody – or no melody at all. The endless washes of gentle white noise and distant high-pitched apocalyptic sounds add further to the confusion. The flip-side, “Dead” is clearer and somewhat faster, with a recognizable melody and a clearer sound similar to the likes of Marble Sky, Pale Blue Sky or Sky Stadium; a perfect rest from the snowstorm of the previous track.
Justin Marc Lloyd's tape is not exactly reinventing the wheel, but it's rather like a well-done homework in ambient and drone music. However, I have a feeling that if Justin will be able to master the hazy sound presented on "Go" and make it more personal and recognizable, he might be seriously going places.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Here's the discography of the Californian wunderkind ambientalist Carter Mullin's project Reedbeds. Filed under: good things to listen to in the morning.
The latest Rotifer batch includes the brand new cassette by Reedbeds entitled Slippery Elm. Get it while it's still there!
Looks like someone finally got an idea to add the lyrics and vocals to the whole analog synth revival. I Come to Shanghai's album is definitely more poppy (and more beat-driven) than your usual, say, Lunar Miasma, Emeralds or Oneohtrix release, but it's definitely catchy. But it also features a lot of more synths, great clean vocals and interesting interplays of psychedelic-ish synth nirvana and traditionals instruments, like guitars or drums. This duo from Oakland, CA have quite a chance to make it big. In the words of the musicians themselves, people who like
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Debut release from the American-Norwegian collaboration between Robert Thompson (aka Mohave Triangles) and Sepehr Nabi. 40 minutes of psychedelic ambient, full of processed and glitchy guitar improvisations and occasional field recordings, not unlike the certain moments of Christian Fennesz. Recommended! Also available on cassette on Rotifer.
Monday, July 11, 2011
When listening to Patrick McBratney’s Lovebrrd, I couldn’t shake the feeling I’m listening to the electronified version of Russian Tsarlag, my little lo-fi crush from Providence, RI. Not only is the sound of both projects extremely crunchy and low quality, but there is also a serious teen-goth-loner-creep vibe to both of them. But whereas the Tsarlag’s Carlos Gonzales uses two or three stringed electric guitar and the most basic drum machine possible, McBratney constructs his music on cheap Casio keyboards.
The creepozoid pop sounds of Patrick McBratney’s songs are combined with an almost 8-bit drums – the basic drums from the aforementioned Casio synths are reduced to a mere glitch propulsion against which extremely distorted vocals a’la Wet Hair are placed. It is not to say McBratney tries to hide his lack of songwriting skills under the lo-fi synth haze – the songs are well written and most melodies are catchy and easy to remember (after a few listenings, though, at first the murky sound might make it hard to get through the tape in one listen). The titles of the songs might show an interesting creative process behind the cassette, as the tracks on side A are marked only with mysterious letters and numbers, giving them a sense of alienation and anonymity (4T1, 4T2 etc.), whereas the songs on side B are more “human”, having regular song titles (“Miss Cleo”, “Feeling Blue”, “A Place to Call My Home” etc.).
I have to say, Patrick McBratney managed to nail down the characteristic “bedroom loner” pop sound, so often talked about when describing various amateurish records recorded at home. McBratney’s vision is hazy and crunchy, but behind all the grime there is a certain beauty. Oh, and bonus points for adding a collectible card with naked Betty Page wearing fishnet stockings. I’m a sucker for fishnet stockings.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Isards is a Spanish (Barcelona based, ot be exact) free-form experimental psychedelic collective, specializing in sprawling, amoebic trippy compositions based on the "traditional" instruments like electric guitar and drums. For fans of Sunburned Hand of the Man or Golden Jooklo Age.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Summer is here. If the scorching sun or the high temperatures were not enough of an argument to convince you, the Lawrence, Kansas based pop combo Karma Vision are more than eager to make sure you notice that it’s the vacation time and enjoy it to the max with their infectiously catchy psych pop/rock.
While the somewhat cliché name might bring to mind the images of deep shamanic hippie improvisation or analog synth New Age invocations, the guys from Karma Vision are all about FUN. The opening “Rabbit Hole” seems to a tailor-made indie world summer hit, down to the handclaps and “la-la-la” choirs. Karma Vision completes the set with a saxophone solo. The saxophone appears on almost all tracks, often getting in front and shaping the mood of the whole track, like on the mischievous “Russian Chanting”, in which, together with a piano and the drums it creates a seedy, bombast atmosphere. If you’re a fan of the movie director Wes Anderson, you can’t help but imagine a slowed-down scene from one of his movies when listening to this track. So vintage, so hip.
It seems that Karma Vision were influenced by Animal Collective in the vocal territory. The whimsical, wailing vocals on “Teeter Totter” sound so similar to Panda Bear and Avey Tare that you start thinking the band actually invited them to record vocals for that track. Similarly, “Fuzzle Muzzle” sounds like an AnCo album outtake, with less weird and more straight-up rock. There are more influences audible throughout the entire album, though, like the balladic VU & Nico worship “Price Meltdown”, or the darker and slower “Cone Doo Womp” channeling Religious Knives with its distorted vocals, droning guitars and organ parts.
Karma Vision is a band of great songwriting and musical skills, who employ a staggering number of instruments into their music. The addition of a saxophone to the standard rock instrumentarium is a fresh, bold move. Which works!
Monday, July 4, 2011
5 Cologne, Germany based musicians. Densely layered, amorphous free improv skronk with no overdubs. Sax, drums, guitars and noisy electronics. Like a condensed version of Supersilent. Dada's not dead.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Saåad is the musical project of Toulouse, France based graphic designer and photographer Romain Barbot. Romain's music is unsettling, cavernous ambient bordering on dark ambient, which can also reach moments of almost unbearable beauty and melancholy. Saåad's music relies heavily on (relatively) low frequencies, so it's good to have a nice subwoofer or a good pair of headphones to enjoy his music the most.
Denmark's Johan Heinsen's fourth album, more confident and focused than ever before. On Kingfisher Exile Johan keeps exploring the possibilities of guitar drone, this time soaked in desert-like atmospherics, ritualistic psychedelic folk, occult spoken word passages and the general dead-man blues feeling of Ulaan Khol or Barn Owl. Recommended!
While the “New Weird Russia” term is used to describe the wave of Russian musicians corresponding the work of their imperial friends with their own, Eastern brand of psychedelic folk and organic ambient, there is a slowly, yet steadily growing scene of psychedelic electronic music makers parallel with the trippertronic artists from the US of A. Alexey Pushkin, more well-known under the pseudonym Analog Concept, as whom he has already released Soviet-synth curios on such heavyweight labels as Stunned Records, has prepared a tape under his real name collecting years of work in many genres of electronic music (the label page describes The Figure as a “portfolio of sorts”). At 60 minutes long, the cassette is an exhilarating ride through many faces of electronica, from vintage synthscapes to glossy Germanic techno.
What is probably most surprising about the tape is how rhythm-heavy it is – ambient and drone is in minority here, it’s the thumping sounds of techno, minimal techno and microhouse that seem to be taking the spotlight here. Out of twelve tracks on the entire tape, only three can be considered ambient: the “Green Charm” and “Green Beauty” on side A, both based on a gently rolling, slightly layered bassy drone and the two minute interlude, “Rumble” on side B, which is simply a raw, pulsing, low-frequency drone. Pushkin seems to be fascinated by minimal German electronics of the 90’s and 00’s, as well as early IDM, like “Camera”, a track featuring fractured drum patterns and on-the-fly effect experimentation which sounds not unlike Autechre circa LP5 or AFX. Sometimes Alexey will go into the more familiar territory, like in field recordings soaked “Ambient Conception”, which sounds almost like something to come out from the studio of some Kosmische Musik visionary in the early 1970’s.
But it is where Pushkin sounds the most modern where he is also the strongest – like on sterile “Technology (Part Two)”, a glitchy, minimal techno pearl reminiscent of the Clicks & Cuts compilations, or the absolute pinnacle of the entire album, a nearly 8 minute “Blue Up”, a futuristic microhouse dream setting subliminal, soothing pulses to a wall of hazy ambience, which appears to be inspired both by Wolfgang Voigt’s legendary Gas as well as Jan Jelinek and his Farben outfit.
In the scene full of nearly cookie-cutter new-New-Age-zoned-out-calm-ambient releases, Alexey Pushkin (together with Eric Lanham’s Carl Calm project) might bring the psychedelic electronic tape scene to the dancefloor. I really hope Alexey Pushkin (and other musicians) will keep working their bridge from the psychedelic drone tape scene to the ultra-polished glitch/minimal techno/microhouse scene. The result might be more exciting than we expect.
If you liked what you heard in digital form, make sure to buy the tape on the Avant Archive website!