As Face + Heel, the duo of Luke Taylor and Sinead McMillan creates intricate electronic compositions with an acute focus on songcraft. "Dragging Your Chains" has been streaming for some time, but is now being offered for download, most likely to help drum up excitement for the pair's forthcoming debut on Warm, the No Stars EP. The tune incorporates an assortment of found sounds, empty-bottle percussion, and mournfully detuned synthesizers, all of which provide a lush framework for pitched-down vocals to punctuate their densely constructed aesthetic. The central focus of the track, however, settles on an undulating bassline and its somber piano counterpart, as the two work together to fuse the song's varied elements together in a smooth display of songwriting and sound design. One could fathom comparisons to The xx and other pop-focused electronic projects of recent memory. With that in mind, keep your eyes peeled for No Stars, which drops on May 7, both digitally and on limited-edition 10".
Normally, announcing the tenth anniversary of Korg's Micro synthesizer line wouldn't make for the most tantilizing of news. But considering that the Japanese company has decided to pair this news with word of a monthly contest—in which it gives away a free product from its Micro line (such as the MicroKorg XL pictured above) every month for the rest of the year—we couldn't help but get a little excited. Read more »
This contemplative, synth-driven number comes courtesy of Vaghe Stelle, an Italian producer honing in on a sound that falls somewhere between the kosmische-laden experiments of John Elliot's Spectrum Spools imprint and the lush, deeply felt techno of the Kompakt camp. "Ciclo 4" begins with a distorting, spacious melody shifting its filter envelope until a thumping beat kicks in with hypnotic shakers and a sidechained synth tone leading the festivities. Before two minutes have gone by, we're introduced to a slowly disintegrating arpeggio, which carves a melancholic hole into the center of the song and ultimately results in a drowsily delirious effect. Vaghe Stelle released an EP this past March on Shabu; you can listen and read more on the six-track offering (including a remix by XLR8R podcast contributor BNJMN) here.
Last week, in our profile of the new album by UK experimentalist Actress, we noted how producer Darren Cunningham had a distinct method to creating his tracks, which includes tapping into his subconscious à la Salvador Dali. Despite how curiously romantic it sounds, the act of maintaining creative productiveness whilst approaching sleep seems all too unlikely, but here we are again, with an LP from an artist who claims to have made it while drifting in and out of consciousness. Sleep, the aptly titled record in question, was crafted by the prolific Aaron Funk (better known as Venetian Snares) under his rarely utilized Last Step moniker, and features nine cuts of woozy, slowed-down acid which aren't completely dissimilar from AFX's massive Analord series. It's also probably the best thing Funk has released in recent memory. Read more »
World of Wonders, the Gemmy-fronted sub-label of Bristol's Multiverse camp that also includes Pinch's Tectonic and Joker's Kapsize imprints, is preparing a compilation that charts the history of the Purple WoW sound from 2008 to the present. Read more »
Dublin's Clu (a.k.a. producer Sean Cooley and visual artist Kevin A. Freeney) delivers this bubbling bit of synth play that recalls the beatwork of Shlohmo or post-dubstep vibes of Mount Kimbie, albeit with a more straightforward approach that emphasizes melodies over rhythm. The tune's main focus is on the pitch-bent vocal samples that rise and fall throughout the track, first accompanied only by long synth notes, and later by shimmering chords and UK garage-style drumwork. The song builds slowly, with the first instances of drums and bass not occurring until nearly halfway into the track. By the song's end, however, the sparse intro has given way to a full and complex musical arrangement.
Friends of Friends, the California label with an intriguing artist roster that includes Shlohmo and Ernest Gonzales, is preparing the debut album from Danish producer Tomas Barfod (a recent XLR8R podcast contributor) and has just put out a video for the LP's lead single, "Broken Glass." Read more »
Barcelona's Hivern Discs, a label piloted by mysterious producer John Talabot, is taking a unique approach to promoting its latest act, Mistakes Are OK. Before the producer drops a single track, Hivern has chosen to give his pending debut LP the remix treatment, releasing an EP with an impressive cast of characters that includes Kassem Mosse, Downliners Sekt, and BNJMN. BNJMN's "Remix2" of "Koala," featured here, is a second BNJMN rework that won't appear on the EP, and the cut is a focused techno composition. Each aspect of its arrangement, from its mallet-like sampling to its springy bass, feels precise and calculated. The track weaves in and out of time as its components challenge one another rhythmically, engrossing the listener in a nearly eight-minute trance. It remains to be seen how much of its brilliance can be attributed to Mistakes Are OK's production, but the remix sits alongside some of BNJMN's best work.
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