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Review: Vermont Vermont

Label: Kompakt

The self-titled debut release from Vermont—a collaboration between Danilo Plessow (a.k.a. Motor City Drum Ensemble) and Innervisions affiliate Marcus Worgull—is one of 2014's most pleasant electronic offerings so far; it's also something of a surprise. Shedding almost every recognizable bit of its creators' usual dancefloor inclinations, Vermont finds Plessow and Worgull crafting an album full of exploratory electronics and Kraut-indebted synth adventures that proves both producers' talents reach well beyond the club. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 03/17/2014

Review: Tensnake Glow

Label: Astralwerks

With the recent commercial success of acts like Disclosure and Duke Dumont, the lines between "underground" and "mainstream" dance music have continued to blur at an accelerated rate. At the same time, the critical tones emanating from those who wish to keep the two camps as separate as possible have only become more rash and dismissive. Glow, the debut LP from Tensnake, is bound to elicit some "gone commercial" flack, as the veteran German producer has tapped guest vocalists for more than half of the record's cuts and moved his output to Astralwerks, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group. Still, those familiar with Tensnake's discography are likely aware that he's not someone who's been afraid to dabble in the more carefree ends of house and disco, which helps Glow feel less like a blatant stab at mainstream appeal and more like a natural evolution of his sound. However, that doesn't prevent the LP from coming off as a misfire, one where its creator's ambition seems to have outstripped his abilities. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 03/10/2014

Review: Deadbeat and Paul St. Hilaire The Infinity Dub Sessions


Over the past 15 years, Berlin-via-Montreal producer Deadbeat (a.k.a. Scott Monteith) has established himself as a bastion of dub techno, though his more recent efforts have found him tilting more toward techno than dub. In particular, last year's Infinity Dub single series found Monteith favoring rolling, four-on-the-floor rhythms more than the laidback, half-time rhythms that marked much of his earlier discography. With The Infinity Dub Sessions though, Deadbeat returns more directly to proper dub techno; he's enlisted the genre's most quintessential voice in Paul St. Hilaire (a.k.a. Tikiman) and crafted a record that channels the sounds of the Infinity Dub singles through the Rhythm and Sound tradition. The formula may not be new, but The Infinity Dub Sessions does seem to prove that there is still plenty of fruitful terrain to be explored in this underutilized corner of the electronic spectrum. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 03/03/2014

Review: Untold Black Light Spiral

Label: Hemlock

Even for a producer like Untold, who has evolved his sound and realigned his production aims over the past few years, Black Light Spiral is a surprising effort. Billed as his official debut full-length, the eight-track album makes only the slightest attempt to connect to Untold's previous work, instead concerning itself with a sound that is unapologetically raw and intentionally stitched together with a loose thread. In truth, what Untold presents here can hardly be described as dance music, yet the LP still counts as one of the producer's most essential releases to date. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 02/25/2014

Review: French Fries Kepler

Over the past four years, Parisian producer French Fries has tried his hand at numerous styles, but he's rarely—if ever—been called out for a lack of talent. Instead, when he has come under fire, it has usually stemmed from a question of his maturity as an artist. This was particularly true in the case of 2012's "Yo Vogue," in which the track's naively plucked vocal samples seemed to undermine the very scene French Fries was attempting to pay homage to. Kepler, however, is a clear indication that his days of hastily echoing club trends are in the rearview, as French Fries' debut LP showcases a more refined production voice, even if it's one that perhaps still isn't quite ready for the full-length format. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 02/24/2014

Review: Perc The Power and the Glory

Label: Perc Trax

A recurring point of interest in the press releases, interviews, and promotional efforts leading up to the release of The Power and the Glory—the second LP from veteran English producer Ali Wells' (a.k.a. Perc)—has been the album's intentional political thread. The record's title could easily be taken to represent the driving force behind political ladder climbers, and track titles like "David & George" (references to British Prime Minister David Cameron and George Osborne, head of the country's economic affairs) and "Bleeding Colours" can certainly lend themselves to political interpretation. However, despite these inclinations, The Power and the Glory is not some kind of a call to arms or a "protest" album of any sort; instead, the blistering, 10-track effort seems to be more about Wells internalizing his own frustration, whether it's with self-serving political systems or the current rise of cookie-cutter dance music in the UK and beyond. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 02/19/2014

Review: Com Truise Wave 1

Com Truise's chrome-plated synth jams have always come across as a kind of musical mood ring. In loose, romantic, wistful moments, the best of Seth Haley's high-sheen outings ("Brokendate" or "VHS Sex," for instance) appeal to a nostalgia-junkie area of the brain over which few of us have much control. However, in harder-nosed, colder frames of mind, the same music's hyper-stylized maneuvers can occasionally seem tiresome. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 02/18/2014

Review: Juju & Jordash "Waldorf Salad" b/w "Third Planet from Altair"

Label: Dekmantel

On their releases for Dekmantel, Golf Channel, and a handful of other labels, Gal "Juju" Aner and Jordan "Jordash" Czamanski have favored abstraction over linearity, the sudden surprise of a wrong note to predictable perfect pitch. Their skill with delirious breakdowns and eccentric timbral shifts peaked on 2012's Techno Primitivism, which satisfied an increasing demand from many listeners for music that sounded like it was on the edge of collapse rather than encased in Lucite. Presenting a warped alternative to the slick-and-sleepy deep house of the moment, the diversity and sheer fun of Techno Primitivism elevated Juju & Jordash to new levels of critical acclaim; the pair's wonky, unrehearsed live sets have even become increasingly common on the international festival circuit. At its best, the duo's music is improvisation without academic suffocation, and asserts abstraction as a capable party-starter. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 02/12/2014

Review: Thug Entrancer Death After Life

Label: Software

Relatively unknown until last fall, Ryan McRyhew (a.k.a. Thug Entrancer) first found his footing as a budding artist in Denver's spirited experimental scene, crafting a range of ambient synthscapes and chilly, percussive workouts for his self-released Tropics Mind EP series. In 2011, he relocated to Chicago's south side; culling new inspiration from the city's bubbling footwork and juke scene, he took some of that intense local energy and injected it into his own conceptual, hardware-based approach. With a fresh artistic perspective, McRyhew then created Death After Life—his debut LP for the Software imprint, a Brooklyn label driven by the meta, idiosyncratic style of its primary curator, Daniel Lopatin. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 02/11/2014

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