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Review: Nguzunguzu Skycell EP

Over the past few years, LA production duo Nguzunguzu (which comprises Daniel Pineda and Asma Maroof) has established itself as a leading proponent of the hybridized, polygenre tendencies that dominate a particular segment of today's bass-music underground. The pair keeps its release schedule sparse—the Skycell EP is the duo's first offering since last year's Warm Pulse EP—seeming instead to prefer to work on a diverse array of projects, most notably and recently producing two tracks on Kelela's stunning Cut 4 Me mixtape, and also collaborating with Fatima Al Qadiri and J-Cush as Future Brown. Still, Nguzunguzu's latest is a refreshing reminder of exactly what makes everything the duo touches so appealing—it's an intoxicating combination of agile, polyrhythmic beats, meandering, grime-indebted synths, and a specifically bass-minded headiness. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 11/05/2013

Review: Red Rack'em "I Trusted You" b/w "Converse"

Label: PTN

If one could level a criticism against UK-bred, Berlin-based producer Red Rack'em (a.k.a. Danny Berman), it's that on occasion, he can sound a little divorced from the music he's making. To be fair, this could be said about many producers—plenty know which buttons to press, but not necessarily how to make a track that presses buttons. Berman regularly shifts from style to style, and perhaps this has compromised his ability to really hone in on a sound. Although formally very well done, "I Trusted You" b/w "Converse," his latest 12", doesn't help this reputation much. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 11/05/2013

Review: Gardland Syndrome Syndrome

Label: RVNG

Perhaps more than any other electronic genre, techno has long been an especially functional form of dance music, largely serving its primary purpose when utilized in the confines of a club or any other dancefloor setting. Oftentimes, this is exactly how it should be; the kind of high-tempo hypnotism and bespoke repetition techno offers is a nuanced experience meant for those seeking the meditative state of mind it can induce. But in recent memory, the less functional ends of the genre have also been explored at length, with artists like Actress, Vessel, and Andy Stott contorting its structure and smearing its edges into a more album-appropriate style of music, a permutation of techno suitable for the kind of concentrated listening that the bustle of a dancefloor doesn't usually allow. Young Australian duo Gardland operates in a similar vein on its debut LP, Syndrome Syndrome, though what producers Alex Murray and Mark Smith actually managed to uncover is a sweetspot straddling a techno middle ground that relies as much on form as it does function. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 11/04/2013

Review: BD1982 Casings

Label: Diskotopia

Brian Durr (a.k.a. BD1982, a moniker that combines his initials and year of birth) is a producer, label co-owner, touring DJ, and a man familiar with foreign environments. The artist's latest EP for his Diskotopia label, Casings—which is available in a four-track vinyl version and a more substantial seven-track digital version—presents itself as a pastiche of his diverse musical tastes; the record finds him pulling from dancehall, grime, techno, and '90s-era rap, and fashioning them together into his own particular strain. Coming shortly after Durr's return to his native New Jersey following an extended stint in Japan, Casings offers an intriguing formula, but the results sometimes come across like a work in progress. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 11/04/2013

Review: Sano Sano

Label: Cómeme

One of the most laudable aspects of the Cómeme label is its dedication to songcraft. It's hard to think of another electronic imprint, especially one with such a leftield bent, whose artists are so invested in crafting "songs," as opposed to merely turning out tracks that are suitable for DJing. This has been especially true with Cómeme's LPs, which have previously all come from the larger artists on its roster: Matias Aguayo, Rebolledo, and Daniel Maloso. The self-titled debut full-length from Sano (a.k.a. Sebastian Hoyos) represents something of a departure then, not in terms of its dedication to songwriting, but because the relatively unknown Colombian producer first appeared on the label only last year. Still, Sano's 10 tracks show Hoyos to be an artist whose work flirts with more interesting structures than most. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 11/01/2013

Review: Baio Mira EP

Chris Baio's main gig as bassist for Vampire Weekend has little to nothing in common with his solo work as Baio, aside from one factor: an intense attention to detail. Baio's latest EP, Mira, proffers four bombastic, Balearic house cuts that testify to Baio's aptitude as a producer while showcasing his honest enthusiasm for exploring a wholly different arena than the one occupied by his indie-pop dayjob. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 11/01/2013

Review: Autechre L-event EP

Label: Warp

Autechre has a rare standing among the canonical acts on Warp, as the group continues to confound fans and impress newcomers, even after its stylistic preferences have fallen out of fashion. Inextricably linked with Warp's foundational experimentalism, the duo of Sean Booth and Rob Brown didn't stagnate after the early success of twitchy classics like Incunabula and Tri Repetae; instead, the outfit has put forth a new Autechre LP practically every two years since 1993. L-event is the follow-up to Exai, the pair's mammoth double album from earlier this year, and it's akin to a tank of freezing water to the face in subzero weather. Even in a community currently saturated with purposefully raw and ragged productions, the artillery on L-event is an affirmation of Autechre's continuing caustic individuality. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/31/2013

Review: Tom Trago The Light Fantastic

Label: Rush Hour

Tom Trago is the kind of producer who's unafraid to mix things up stylistically. Over the past few years, his discography has included a surprising degree of variation, especially considering he's most known for his explosive, sample-based disco-house material. Nowhere has this diversity been more apparent than on his albums, which, though cohesive as works on their own, have served as a way for him to stretch out and show off the extent of his interests. His latest LP, The Light Fantastic, is his third so far, and while it's billed as a return to the more focused rootsy dancefloor divaism of his 2009 debut, Voyage Direct, in actuality, it might be his most eclectic effort yet. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/31/2013

Review: Ø [Phase] Frames of Reference

Label: Token

Listening to an album like Ø [Phase]'s full-length debut, Frames of Reference, feels like waiting for the hammer to fall. It doesn't explode, instead favoring a slow, twisting burn, and it's worth our time to the same degree that it's out of step with techno's current trend toward harder, scuffed sounds. But at its core, this is still pure, tightly wound techno, even if it lacks the claustrophobic vibe that often gives music in the category its tension and drama. Ashley Burchett has been active since 2000 and, like we've seen with recent full-length efforts from Drumcell and Function, he's given himself a long lead time for this LP. However, as compared to those other 2013 debuts, Frames of Reference could more easily appeal to non-techno heads. Applying lessons learned from Robert Hood—whose influence has been an incredibly fertile force as of late—Burchett straddles all the classic polarities between humans and machines, melody and abstraction, forward movement and peaceful stasis. Frames of Reference is in an intense dialogue with techno's philosophy, but the results are hardly exclusive. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/31/2013

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