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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

Review: Deetron Music Over Matter

Label: Music Man

It's taken eight years, but Swiss techno producer Deetron (a.k.a. Sam Geiser) has finally released his sophomore album. In that nearly decade-long stretch, his sound has changed considerably, moving away from the Detroit-inspired sci-fi techno and deep house that characterized his work in the late '90s and early '00s. The past few years in particular have seen him embrace a more pop-oriented approach rooted in traditional songcraft, with collaborative works alongside artists like Seth Troxler and Hercules & Love Affair. Music Over Matter is an extension of this recent side of his discography, emphasizing these qualities by incorporating a large number of guest vocalists and co-producers to make an LP that feels like his most accessible to date. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/30/2013

Review: Mount Kimbie CSFLY Remixes

Label: Warp

Considering the critical hosannas that met the duo's first album, Crooks and Lovers, the reception for Mount Kimbie's second album has been a bit lukewarm. These CSFLY Remixes seem almost like a corrective, recruiting three purposely of-the-moment remixers—Detroit's hyped MPC mangler Kyle Hall, Hamburg's evergreen DJ Koze, and crushworthy reshaper Lee Gamble—to put any doubts about the pair's relevance to bed. This EP doesn't fully succeed in this regard, and is more interesting for this shortcoming. Granted, nothing in particular was wrong with Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, which neither stagnated nor pushed into uncomfortable territory outside of the group's wheelhouse; the LP was essentially another installment of Mount Kimbie's sweet, quotidian, yet rhythmically involved contribution to the mournful side of UK bass. This EP is guilty of overreaching in a way the album wasn't, but it's not without its delights. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/30/2013

Review: Benjamin Damage 4600 EP

Label: 50Weapons

Benjamin Damage is a pretty good techno alias, though it's somewhat misleading considering the UK-born, Berlin-based producer's music. It may deliver a cinder block to the head, but he's taken the time to hand-felt the surface. That means we're just as likely to encounter one of his cuts in Cassy's sublime, Ibiza-informed Fabric 71 mix as in the company of Modeselektor's hand-picked 50Weapons rave-wrecking crew. Given that, we can either choose to read the toughened-up sound of his 4600 EP as a reaction against certain reviews of his debut LP, Heliosphere, which accused him of sacrificing depth for range, or simply as the kind of concentration demanded by an EP, particularly one based around the sound of the rare ETI 4600 synth. Either way, it's hard to argue with the results, as the record offers three tracks of Damage at his most punishing and one of him at his most lulling. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/30/2013

Review: Simian Mobile Disco Tong Zi Dan

Label: Delicacies

Tong Zi Dan. It’s a name that seems innocuous enough. However, on close inspection it's much more grotesque; translating to "virgin boy eggs," it's a Chinese delicacy that consists of partially cracked eggs boiled in the urine of prepubescent school boys. This is the latest acquired taste that UK duo Simian Mobile Disco has decided to use for its Delicacies imprint, a label whose tech-house-informed EPs are all named after nausea-inducing edibles—past works have carried titles like "Casu Marzu" (a maggot-infested Italian cheese) and "Hakari (Shark Cheese)" (an Icelandic rotten shark dish). These names suggest something different from the norm: something special, abrasive, or differentiated by cultivated taste. However, the music contained within this EP is much less distinct. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/29/2013

Review: Skream "Rollercoaster"

Label: Rinse

The recent transition of Croydon dubstep pioneer Skream (a.k.a. Oliver Jones) towards disco and house has been greeted with a fair bit of consternation in some circles. It's not particularly hard to see why this is the case, given the magnitude of the producer's departure from dubstep and the coinciding resurgent popularity of house and garage in the UK, but in many ways, the move shouldn't be all that surprising. The producer has already experienced substantial commercial success with Magnetic Man—the trio consisting of himself, Benga, and Artwork—has remixed Duke Dumont's huge pop-house hit "Need U," and has spent most of his recent interviews banging on about how tired he is of playing dubstep while professing his love for disco and house. If the buoyant disco beats of "Rollercoaster"—which features Sam Frank on vocals—don't come entirely as a shock though, what is surprising is just how conventional they sound. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/29/2013

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