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Review: Sapphire Slows Allegoria

Following a handful of releases over the past couple of years, Japanese experimental musician/producer Sapphire Slows (a.k.a. Kinuko Hiramatsu) has finally issued her debut full-length via Not Not Fun. Following on from her last release—the housey "Just Wanna Feel" 12" done in collaboration with 100% Silk affiliate Magic Touch—Allegoria is a textured, psychedelic, and meandering turn for the artist. Even compared to Sapphire Slows' relatively introspective Not Not Fun debut, the True Breath EP, Allegoria is a drifting, murky album, albeit one that manages to strike a balance between an overt dance influence on the one hand and more hypnogogic tendencies on the other. The LP largely leaves Sapphire Slows' sonic formula intact—slow house beats underpin Hiramatsu's languid, narcotic haze—but there's a restlessness to the record that can make it surprisingly difficult to pin down sonically. Alongside the plethora of other Not Not Fun and 100% Silk artists it's possible to draw constellations between when listening to Allegoria, dream-pop and shoegaze influences are also readily apparent, as is the push of house and techno. What ties it all together are Hiramatsu's reverb-laden vocals and her deft ear for rhythm. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 11/07/2013

Review: Earth House Hold See Through You EP

Label: Peach

Operating as Earth House Hold, time-tested producer Brock Van Wey (more commonly known as Bvdub) applies his affinity for hypnotic, ambient-leaning productions to two extremely elongated, blissfully lethargic house constructions on the See Through You EP. Clocking in at almost 24 minutes, the second effort from NY label Peach uniquely interprets "deep house" into a softly glowing brand of lush dance music, complete with hushed soul references and slow-motion rhythms. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 11/06/2013

Review: Noah Pred Third Culture

Having moved in his youth from the Bay Area to the isolated remoteness of Canada's West Coast and later spending time in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto before relocating to Berlin in 2011, Thoughtless Music boss Noah Pred is no stranger to packing up and forging a new path in an unfamiliar place. It's no secret that many of Canada's brightest electronic talents tend to head to Europe when their career reaches a tipping point, and Pred is no different. Four years have passed since Pred's last full-length, Blind Alignments, but his latest LP, Third Culture, is more of a refinement of his style than a total reinvention. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 11/06/2013

Review: Pional Invisible/Amenaza

The name of Madrid-based producer Pional (a.k.a. Miguel Barros) is probably recognizable to even some casual listeners of house music, as his association with the critically acclaimed John Talabot has tangentially thrust him into the spotlight. However, while Pional has recorded and toured with Talabot, his own output has thus far been limited to a smattering of limited-edition 12" releases. That is set to change with Invisible/Amenaza, a four-track EP for the UK-based Young Turks label that finds Pional laying his wistful, pop vocals over amenable, disco-informed beats. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 11/06/2013

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

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