Yesterday was a day for relaxing, but today is a day for dancing! Our Electronic preview covers all pulse and melody-dominant releases, from retro synth to modern techno, glitch to grime. This season is marked by the return of some old veterans, along with a wide slate of exciting debuts. No other genre we cover has so many releases listed for spring. So start talking to those HomePods ~ you’re in for a treat!
In case you’ve been away from all media for the past two weeks, our cover image is a still shot from Spike Jonze’s amazing HomePod video, featuring FKA Twigs. Apple may not have received the best reviews for this product, but they continue to make the best videos. And now, without further ado, here’s what to look forward to in the electronic realm this season!
Rich’s Pick: Hatis Noit ~ Illogical Lullaby (Erased Tapes, 23 March)
Fans of Katie Gately, Holly Herndon and even Lisa Gerrard may find their next favorite artist in Hatis Noit. This astounding Japanese artist uses her voice to imitate nature, and can shift from a swoon to a siren call in a single second. Erased Tapes snapped this sparkling EP up for wider distribution after a limited release in Japan. A Matmos edit seals the deal. We were instantly enchanted; this is a must-hear.
Also on Erased Tapes we discover the diverse Rival Consoles, whose Persona is inspired by the opening image of a Bergman film. With releases such as this and the one above, the label makes a serious play to be known as a two-pronged threat, continuing to expand its roster far beyond its base in modern composition. Yet the composed aspect can also be gleaned in these grooves, as this is far more than simple dance music (13 April). Ben Frost continues to mine his 2017 album The Centre Cannot Hold for inspiration; the EP All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated includes an Alva Noto remix as well as some new tracks. The multi-release approach reminds us of what NIN once did with its Halo series (Mute, 23 March). Tri Angle continues to find sparkling new talent, the latest of which is mmph. The Dear God EP is a fine addition to its roster, a close relative to Lotic, Rabit and Roly Porter (13 April). While percussion plays a big part on Third Eye Foundation‘s Wake the Dead, the most apparent quality of Matt Elliot’s music is its drama; it’s good to have him back. On his new project, he’s joined by Gaspar Claus on cello, along with many other guests (Ici d’ailleurs, 30 March). Prairie continues to exude a Western vibe on After the Flash Flood, a cinematic collection that hints of the apocalypse (Denovali, 27 April). Die Wilde Jagd draws inspiration from Flemish art and choral music of the 14th and 15th centuries, making Unrwald Orange a lesson in sonic discovery (Bureau B, 6 April). Another of the season’s originals is Owain Gwilym‘s Terminal Flow, which maps the degradation of glaciers through electronic sequences. The cover is striking, as it appears to be a human being in the path of oncoming ice, when it is actually the opposite (Owlet Music, 30 March).
Peace, Tranquility, and Calm
bvdub is back under the guise of Earth House Hold, exposing his dubbier side. Yet the hallmarks of the artist, including stretched samples, warm keys and an ambient base, are still present on Never Forget Us. Even without the reveal, we would have guessed (A Strangely Isolated Place, 9 April). Shorelights also operates in a liminal realm, and Ancient Lights is constructed as a seamless hour-long journey into electronic ambience (Subway Bcn, 20 March). Ambient techno is lovingly represented by Nadia Struiwigh, who decorates her productions with generous beats, but uses them to calm rather than to agitate WHRRU is out on Denovali 27 April (pictured right). The beautiful Mü-nest label returns with Dae Kim‘s Solace, an album as comforting as its title, including a guest appearance by Okamotonoriaki and mastering by Chihei Hatakeyama (21 April). It’s hard to resist an EP inspired by a child, in this case Kwes.‘ Songs for Midi. His 2-year-old niece even had a hand in the cover (Warp, 6 April). Deadbeat samples inspirational messages from friends and uses them as the basis of Wax Poetic for This Our Great Resolve. If the message were not clear enough, the teaser video features a woman hugging a tree (Blkrtz, 27 April). Fluxion is the latest to combine electronic dance beats with a filmic sensibility; Ripple Effect is out 6 April on Vibrant Music. Tabla is one of the main instruments on 2 Tone, the new album from Shuta Hasunuma & U-zhann. Melodies abound, while the overall feeling is one of unity (Birdwatcher, 23 March). Daniel Avery announced his upcoming Songs for Alpha with a four-track EP, Slow Fade, which included three b-sides and was followed by a second EP of remixes. Now the full album is finally ready to be revealed (Phantasy Sound, 6 April). Another returning veteran is Jon Hopkins, who has been quiet so long that Spin magazine called the upcoming Singularity his “second album.” They were only off by a decade and a half. Expect the album to cross over to larger markets (Domino, 4 May). stanleystanley has been remixing artists from Rhianna to FKA Twigs, and is now set to release his debut EP, in light of everything. His positive vibe continues to shine, with two of the titles referencing hope and joy (Parnell Supply Co., 16 April). And XXXV Gold Fingers combines folk, ambient and electronic influences on Logica Aggregazione, hearkening back to the days of Buddha Bar (tape tales, April).
Rui Ho blends modern club music with traditional Chinese sounds on Becoming is an Eventful Situation, her upcoming EP on Objects Limited (23 March). Ambient segments abound on Mokona‘s Love in Restricted Areas, but there’s also a manga influence ~ a wide swath of sounds folded into the mix (Templar Sound, 30 March). There’s a little bit of trip-hop and a whole lot of bass on Fábel‘s The Wick, a varied set that keeps the energy going through variety and verve (Haunt Music, 27 March). Gosheven continues his experiments in alternate tuning on Bivaq, the natural outgrowth of a collaboration with choreographers and dancers (Opal Tapes, 13 April). Sometimes acoustic, sometimes ambient and sometimes dub, the music of Aquarius morphs from track to track; Soulquencies is out 30 March on Scrub a Dub. The sound of Shakarchi & Straneus has evolved over the past seven years, as heard on Steal Chickens from Men and the Future from God. Their debut album includes a generous amount of classic samples and is dually infused with house and dub (Barn, 23 March). Audiokern draws from various styles on the EP A Personal Way, but never gives up on the beats (Klangkeller, 11 May). Call Fluids krautrock, space rock, or what you will; we’re mostly enamored by the fun look of Jesse‘s picture disc, displayed to the right (Höga Nord, 30 March). Rave, electro, dancehall and a host of other styles decorate FabricLive 97, a curious new mix from the aptly-named Holy Goof (Fabric, 23 March), while Maceo Plex‘s Fabric 98 incorporates new wave and electro (20 April). Will Saul (DJ-Kicks) attempts to “blur the lines” between artist and mix albums on Inside Out, a multi-artist club set on Aus Music (30 March).
Caterina Barbieri leads the 10-artist lineup of Flowers from the Ashes: Contemporary Italian Electronic Music. The synth-heavy compilation is a fine starting point for those interested in the scene (Stroboscopic Artifacts, 13 April). Guitar and synth both feature prominently in Earth Loops, the debut album from BEAK>’s William Young under the guise of Moon Gangs. The positive vibe sings of the outside as the new season blooms (Village Green, 30 March, pictured right). Similarly upbeat is The Sound Path, a shimmering set from Aera (Permanent Vacation, 6 April). A summer sensibility is present on Willie Graff & Darren Eboli‘s EP The Tribeca Tapes, out 30 March on Music for Dreams. Amsterdam club and house sounds decorate Bergen, the fourth album from Tom Trago (Dekmantel, 2 April). Those who enjoy retro synth music are directed to Galactic Sounds, the nostalgic album from Retep Folo on the always-reliable Clay Pipe Music. Even the instruments date back to the 60s and 70s (23 March). Fléau offers Goblin-esque synth on II, a taste of Halloween half a year early (anywave, 29 March). Those who enjoy frightening vibes are directed to Macro/micro‘s EP A Grain Of Sand in the Blue Mist, which explores the power of dreams (20 April). Umwelt may concentrate more on synth than beats, but Abandon in Place can still be categorized as industrial; the club-friendly album is released 28 March on New Flesh. Detroit grooves dominate Thomas Fehlmann & Terrence Dixon‘s We Take It From Here, due to appear 20 April on Tresor.302. Egyptology returns on 23 March with Sur les Autres Mondes (Hands in the Dark), a melodic set that comes across like a sunrise. A hint of trance can be found on Nur Jaber‘s The Spirit Molecule (OSF, 14 May). A remix package is due in June, and the involvement of artists such as P.E.A.R.L. may take it in an entirely different direction.
One track, two versions: one ambient, one techno. That’s the blueprint for Liziuz‘ Geschichten des Lebens, due 23 March on Hospital. The question is, which do you prefer? Here’s an easier question: who is SCB? The answer is Scuba, whose intricately designed Caibu is out 13 April on Hotflush. The artist also appears on IMF10 along with Alva Noto, DIN and others; the album will first appear as a series of monthly 12″s before appearing in collected form this June (IMF). Surgeon follows a month later with Luminosity Device, a pounding set released 25 May on Dynamic Tension. Irish samples abound on MNTNS of SLNC, an audio-visual project from Christopher Coe. The set also serves as a convincing travel advertisement, simultaneously highlighting scenery and the techno scene (Awesome Soundwave, 4 May). A couple guest vocalists appear on Davide Squillace‘s Once Upon a Time in Napoli, but for the most part, the album is instrumental, and designed directly for the club experience (Crosstown Rebels, 30 March). Roman Poncet keeps the beats going throughout Gypsopila, but adds chants and hints of dub as well (Figure, 23 April). Whenever we read the title Insomnia, we remember Faithless, but a generation has passed since then, leaving the door wide open for Niereich. While the theme is the same, there are no cover versions here (DUBIKS, 26 March). And veteran artist Tensal is prepping his solo debut album Graphical for Soma, after making his fame as half of Exium (11 May).
Many of our readers were still unborn when Mr. Fingers (Larry Heard) released his last album a quarter century ago. The influential producer finally returns on 13 April with Cerebral Hemispheres, having lost nary a step (Alleviated Records, pictured right). Tech-house can be found on Paradise Sold, a new collaborative set from scene stalwarts Steve Bug & Langenberg (Poker Flat, 6 April); Mind Palace, from Hidden Empire (Stil Vor Talent, 23 March); and mini-LP Word Color, from Gacha Bakradze (Lapsus, 13 April). Territoire are politically charged on Alix, a loose concept album centered around the life story of a slave (Envelope Collective, 13 April). Graham Dunning revisits his “mechanical techno machine” on the EP Way Too Much Time (Adadaat, 27 April). Laurent Garnier guest-stars on Madben‘s percussive Fréquence(s), due 6 April on Astropolis. Alexander Kowalski returns to “hard techno” on Cycles, a triple 12″ on Mord that exudes a strong side order of industrial music (25 May). And Efdemin offers a 29-track album featuring many collaborators and approaches, all melted into a continuous mix; Naif is out 20 April on Curle.
Remember µ-Ziq? We certainly do. And if Challenge Me Foolish still sounds a lot like 1998, it’s because that’s where it’s from: found music beamed into the 21st century, ahead of its time then but still relevant now (13 April). The computerized glint of Ficture‘s Filled Spaces EP is evident in the sliced shapes of the cover art. The music follows suit, with shiny pieces of sound reflecting tiny bits of light (Audiobulb, 12 April). Processed street sounds are mulched and rearranged on Nonturn‘s Territory, due 16 May on the same label; Tokyo comes to life in a brand new way (pictured below). Odeko combines piano, breakbeat and IDM on the intriguing Rose Tinted Vision Implant, out 13 April on Gobstopper. If “ambient glitch” were a genre, that’s what we’d call Steven Rutter‘s Brain Fog, out 2 April on FireScope. Eomac‘s Reconnect comes hot on the heels of the artist’s recent EP, and is preceded by the single Resist All Dogma (Eotrax, 27 April). Danish female artist Gel makes her debut with the often abstract yet always intelligent Drama Tools. The music reflects her background in modern dance, but is for adventurous dancers only (NESM, 4 April). With track titles such as “Sunset Ibiza” and “Balearic Horse” and the album title Pure Country, one would be likely to overlook Boothroyd. But then one reads the press release, only to find the artist compared to Aphex Twin and Oneohtrix Point Never. Yes, those titles are tongue-in-cheek (Fnord Communications, 13 April).
Big bass and samples collide on the rollicking debut from the appropriately named Woolymammoth. Filling Spots is so loud it may break your speakers (Alpha Pup, 23 March). Berlin’s Portals Editions has two releases scheduled for 23 March: Arikon‘s dark and drone-drenched The Artist’s Blood Is Boiling and ~raw‘s glitched and fuzzed EP Hyperlucid Gaze. Daniel Ruane loves the sound of pounding drums, but he’s also a master of texture; Twitch is a perfect name for his uneasy album, which juts in multiple directions at once (Infinite Machine, 3o March, pictured right). Chevel‘s Always Yours is the first artist album on Mumdance & Logos’ label Different Circles. The title track alternates between quiet and loud, sampled and instrumental, and more is to come on 23 March. It’s easy to hear the snare in Max Eilbacher‘s A Crude Explanation of Russell’s Paradox, but not so much the piano. The crudeness is evident in the harsh processing that turns kind instruments mean (Purely Physical Teeny Tapes, 6 April). Terminal Sound System displays a near-industrial flavor on The Endless Sea, set for release on Denovali 6 April, the concluding part of a trilogy. ‡Starving poet§ may be hard to spell, but there’s nothing tricky about the artist’s sound: her music is pure red-level revelry. Imperial Cafe is out 4 April on Far East Sound. Introducing an album with an f-bomb is not our favorite tactic, but it does get our attention. Elysia Crampton‘s self-titled album tells the story of a trans revolutionary, and is out 13 April on Break World. “Drunkcore” gets its day as La Bile releases his debut EP La Sublimation du Poulpe on Tripelium (20 March). The sound is a blend of hardcore, bass and rave ~ don’t expect it to be subtle! Audio-visual artist Lybes Dinem shows off his aural side on Syncleft Chronem, a fusion of beats and noise with a synesthetic angle (SVS, 27 April). Rebekah‘s hard techno is booming and intense; the title End of Trauma is a misnomer. Her double EP is out 13 April on Mord. And how’s this for a collaboration: Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois release the fruits of their shared vision on 4 May on Planet Mu. The preview is impressive, and we’re excited to hear the rest.