If you like to dance or to groove, this is going to be an incredible autumn. In the wide electronic arena, we’re talking an album a day from now through December. From instrumental hip-hop to world music vibe, from programmed synthesizer to random music generator, from techno to industrial, the electronic field is packed with variety; and it doesn’t end there. Hints of drone, ambience and experimentalism abound here as well, proving once again that genre tags may be useful for class, but not for phylum. We’re also seeing some exceptional music videos in this field, the finest of which can be viewed below.
Rich’s Pick #1: PYUR ~ Oratorio for the Underworld
(Subtext, October 10)
It’s rare for us to make a seasonal pick on the basis on one track, especially as we’ve heard so many albums in full. But “Flowers and Silvers” is that kind of track, constantly morphing, perpetually resting on the edge of surprise. PYUR debuted this material at the Atonal Festival, and her “guide through limbo” is an extension of her shamanistic upbringing. Subtext has given us winner after winner, and we’re confident this is the next in line.
Rich’s Pick #2: Shapednoise ~ Aesthesis (Numbers, November 8)
It’s been a long four years since we’ve heard from Shapednoise, and now he’s returned with friends. Rabit, Justin K. Broadrick and more guest star on the foreboding distortions of Asthesis, which sounds like a long, defiant cry against the encroaching night. This is just what we want to hear in November.
Rich’s Pick #3: Telfon Tel Aviv ~ Dreams Are Not Enough (Ghostly International, September 27)
Three picks? Yes, that’s right. Add up this week’s picks and we’ve got a top ten. We thought Telefon Tel Aviv was retired, and for a decade we were right. But instead of replacing the dearly missed Charlie Cooper, Josh Eustis has made an album that honors the duo’s legacy, while adding an undercurrent of mourning. Dreams Are Not Enough floats on an ambient cloud, runs into a frontal system of drone, then produces the thunder and lightning of electronics. It’s one of the season’s most surprising releases, and one of the most welcome.
One of the season’s happiest finds is a crossover album. London’s O’Flynn caught our ears with the “Sunspear” single, and our eyes with the graphics. Now he’s ready to deliver his full-length debut, and Aletheia lives up to the expectation. We expect to hear it on dance floors all season (Silver Bear, September 6). Tunnelvisions‘ new EP Channel Tropico is designed to get the body moving, and its colorful synths succeed (Atomnation, September 13). In a similar fashion, Estiva‘s Metamorphosis was “subconsciously written for Ibiza.” The trance-filled album has already spawned three double-A singles (Armada Music, September 27). Fejká‘s warm Reunion is making waves at retail, sparked by an appearance from Rökkurró (Ki, September 20). But of course if you really want crossover, you’ll be buying Lindsey Stirling‘s Artemis. The album is up for pre-order at Target, t-shirts and posters are available, and the lead video already has 5 million views. Use it as an entry point for your friends who “don’t like instrumental music” (Lindseystomp, September 6).
We’ve already reviewed Flippies Best Tape, the extensive beats project from Odd Nosdam. It’s the culmination of a series that incorporates 70s grooves, spy movie vibes, and a healthy portion of humor. Note: despite the art, it’s not a discount title (Home Assembly, September 6)! Dominik von Senger turns archival tapes into a bizarre collage on the Krautrock-informed Brüsseler Platz (Inversions, September 6). After a sabbatical to work on comics and zines, Lawrence Lindell resurfaces with Afrospacetable. The album addresses race and sexuality in the context of hip-hop, and the hard copy includes a 22-page illustrated zine (September 1). Acid jazz, “dark hip-hop” and skater culture form an uneasy alliance on Hapa‘s Memory Screen, which is loaded with samples and guest stars (Courteous Family, September 6).
When Max Cooper tackles a project, he goes all out. This is once again the case on Yearning for the Infinite, which will accompany an immersive AV experience. The album is inspired by concepts of infinity, and the first single and video are but a teaser for what is to come (Mesh, November 7). Audio-visual duo L’Age D’Or will be releasing the video side of their project on September 18 and the audio side exactly one month later; Orage Magnétique is filled with drama and mesmerizing beats (XVIIIEMEPENINSULE). Looking for something lo-fi, distorted and fun? Dan Friel returns to much Fanfare, now including horns. This is a happy album for tinny ears, perfect to blast at a backyard party, in a car or when you want to wake someone up really quickly (Thrill Jockey, September 13).
Driftmachine Plays Marien van Oers is exactly what it sounds like ~ a tribalistic interpretation of a classic sound. The trance inducing set is released September 6 on Ongehoord. Shackleton‘s latest incarnation is Tunes of Negation. The ceremonial Reach the Endless Sea is specifically designed to take listeners to a higher plane (Cosmo Rhythmatic, October 17). A mystical vibe washes over Elephant House‘s Chollima. A Koyaanisqatsi connection can be heard in the title “World Out of Balance” (Adaadat, October 12). Octo Octa‘s sample-based Resonant Body seeks to unite dancers through a “message of love,” although lead single Spin Girl, Let’s Activate may remind some of a 21st century “Pump Up the Volume” (T4T LUV NRG, September 6). Forgiveness, healing and positivity are the stated hallmarks of Bed of Roses, the debut album from Violet, who also includes a sideways shout-out to God (Dark Entries, September 20). Function‘s Existenz addresses “religion, sexuality, healing and liberation,” with a heavy dose of 80s cable TV (Tresor, November 29). In contrast, we’re not sure what to make of Tom of England‘s Sex Monk Blues; the title refers to a different breed of religion (L.I.E.S., October 4).
Max de Wardener‘s Kolmar is a fascinating blend of electronics and modern composition, making for an intricate, intelligent listen. The Palindrome EP made a great teaser, and now we’re excited for the full album (Village Green, September 20). Shuta Hasunuma might not be aware that Oa is a planet in the Green Lantern universe; here it’s shorthand for “Old Address.” The album uses multiple textures to paint a sonic picture of Manhattan old and new (Northern Spy, September 27). Fifteen different synthesizers, some borrowed from famous friends, are used on Carl Oesterhelt‘s self-explanatory Eleven Pieces for Synthesizer (Umor Rex, September 6). Astral TV also uses an array of synths, modern and vintage, to create semi-improvised journeys on Travelling the Circuits (El Paraiso, September 6). Santilli plays multiple instruments on the ambient-minded Surface, which produces a peaceful patina (Into the Light, September 20). Balfa makes many of his own instruments, yielding a scrappy sound on Perfecta Analogía De La Decadencia (BLF Lab, September 10); the same holds true for Coatic Sequence, who combine homemade synthesizer with drawn art on Coatic Plates (Fractal Meat Cuts, September 23). Francesco Devincenti is yet another artist who solders and builds; perhaps the three should form a club? Brutal Reality is an ambient dub album that sounds nothing like its title (Pregnant Void, September 30). Multiple styles meet on Face to Phase, the debut album from rRoxymore. The album “invites deep listening,” which of course is what we’re all about (Don’t Be Afraid, September 27).
Ambience and techno shake hands on Rotterdam, the surprise second album from Philippe Cam following an 18-year absence (Traum, September 13). 17 years have passed since we last heard from 808 State, but the duo sound none the worse for wear; Transmission Suite is out October 11 on their own label. Soothing synth can be heard on Any%, the latest offering from prolific artist Mukqs (Doom Trip, September 13). Bochum Welt is similarly calm on Seafire, incorporating light breakbeats in ambient frames (Central Processing Unit, September 6). Piano and synth form a jazzy pair on the Superbloom EP, which is also available as an LP containing Kiefer‘s Bridges EP from earlier this year (Stone’s Throw, September 20). Short, punchy pieces are found on the pleasingly positive Aphantasia, from Julien Demoulin recording as Pandorama, a name which distinguishes the project from the electro-acoustic Revealed, released under his own name (Eglantine, September 15). It would be hard to get more fantasy-minded than Magic Sword on The Awakening EP, which is linked to a graphic novel and sounds like an 80’s/Dungeons and Dragons flashback (Joyful Noise, October 25). Pulsating synth conjures memories of lava lamps on EIV, the latest throwback set from Dallas Campbell, while old horror movies are referenced on Mr Eff‘s Eyes Down (Burning Witches, September 20). Another celebration of the decade can be found in Warm Pad, Sharp Stab, from Phono Ghosts, reminiscent of old TV shows (Phono Lith, September 13). Greeen Linez’ Strange Energy is warm and poppy, with a slightly retro flavor (Diskotopia, September 6).
Ghostly vocals haunt the cavernous halls of Fabulous Diamonds‘ Plain Songs, but never quite emerge from behind the curtains (ALTER, September 20). Hypnotic synths are the order of the day on Mass Flashback ~ no surprise, as Majeure is half of Zombi. But make no mistake, those live drums make a difference (Holodeck, September 27). Next, the label will turn its attention to VVV, whose punk background shows through on the club friendly Spreading Primrose (October 11). Prog synthesizer makes an appearance on the groovy Pronto Arpeggio EP, from Bawrut. The 11-minute title track makes a great entry point (Ransom Note, September 13). “Drums and feedback” create a rhythmic core on the self-titled album from G.A.M.S., leading to a timbre akin to rock. Mick Harris guest stars, and the 7″ contains a bonus track (Karlrecords, September 27). Percussion is also on display on 走不出的梦境 Walking in a Boundless Dream, from Guzz. The artist utilizes Asian instruments to create an authentically international vibe (September 12). More Asian percussion can be heard on “Prop O Deed,” the closing track of Proc Fiskal‘s adventurous EP Shleekit Doss (Hyperdub, September 13). Cairo and Munich meet on the politically minded Whities 023 (The Act of Falling from the Eighth Floor), from Carl Gari & Abdullah Miniawy. The subject matter may be bleak, but the music is entrancing. The 12″ is the second part of The Trilogy Tapes (September 6).
A curious video is the selling point for Alessandro Cortini‘s Batticuore. The dancers meet, move slowly, finally embrace, seem to wish to speak but never do; it’s all in the body language (Mute, September 27). Audio-visual artist Sabiwa returns to Chinabot with DaBa on October 2, extending the energy of her breakthrough album. A slew of live drums – even bones – join laptops to create a disorienting, yet percussive mix on Zenit & Nadir, from Dengue Dengue Dengue. A performance video can be seen here (Enchufada, October 4). Solo cello meets techno dub on the newest installment of the Decouple series, from Oliver Coates / S P A T I A L. Don’t be fooled by that first track; the others have beats (OOH-Sounds, September 6)! Ryan Teague has traveled far in the course of his career, never content to rest in a single genre. Recursive Iterations places snippets of modern composition in algorithmic settings, calling on the Japanese concept of negative space for inspiration (Morr Music, October 25). A random music generator is the selling point for the album that bears its name; a_d_a‘s random_music_generator (1) lands wherever it chooses, like an 800-pound gorilla (La Petite Chambre, September 15). And complex polymeter is the rule for the tracks on Chris Korda‘s Akoko Ajeji; after setting this goal, the composer proved up to the challenge. The title is translated strange time (Perlon, September 6).
Peaceful techno artist Dominik Eulberg returns after eight years with Mannigfaltig. The artist (literally) hasn’t missed a beat (!K7, September 6). Lindstrøm‘s lovely album On a Clear Day I Can See You Forever is preceded by the single “Really Deep Snow,” reminding us of the season that’s still a season away (Smalltown Supersound, October 11). Amotik‘s Vistār keeps the pads warm and the beats plentiful; it’s the Berlin artist’s first full-length album after a series of shorter releases (September 20). After two singles and a mix, Floating Points is finally ready to release the Buchla and beat-driven Crush, the follow-up to Resident Advisor’s Album of the Year Elaenia. It’s fair to say that expectations are high, but we’re not worried at all (Ninja Tune, October 13). Evigt Mörker blends a bit of ambience in his techno on debut album Krona – like a ribbon of flavor in ice cream (Northern Electronics, September 27). Complete Walkthru‘s “anti-nihilism” album Scrolls uses samples to challenge themes of modern disassociation (Numbers, September 20). After releasing the Icer EP earlier this year, TæT Music returns with the full-length Life Detection System, a robotic, futuristic release (Audiobulb, October 25). Topdown Dialectic‘s trick is to make each track on Vol. 2 exactly five minutes long. Listeners might be grooving too hard to notice (peak oil, September 20). Smooth, steady beats decorate the debut album from Bxentric; Desolate drops September 20 on Nanda. Echoes is the first single to drop from Max Duke‘s My Sins, available with a host of remixes; the album is unveiled September 30 on Redlight Music. Odd Even’s Andre Knonert returns with the banging No One Ever Told Me EP on his own label; the dance begins October 25. “Seek pleasure, do drugs, avoid pain” is not the most original electronic mantra, but it fits the vibe of Barker‘s Utility, which was preceded by a white label EP earlier this summer (Ostgut Ton, September 6).
Mo Nahold‘s Tremors places aggressive beats next to soothing ambience, mixing dark and light, techno and drone, without a second in-between (Ventil, September 18). Ard Bit‘s Six Scores One plays with percussion in a manner that invites musing and movement. “Clouds” is the early EP highlight (September 25). Suumhow folds ambience and drone into distorted beats on Secuund, due September 20 on n5MD. Avoiding such pesky things as tempo and time signatures, Velf uses electronics to create a phantasmagorical universe on in a sense (Orange Milk, October 25). Ricardo Donoso obliterates the distance between modern composition, electronics and drone on Re_Calibrate, the companion piece to 2018’s Calibrate. It’s yet another dynamic, dramatic set (Denovali, September 27). It’s hard to believe that Hymn to Moisture is Rrose‘s first solo album; turns out all those other albums were collaborations. The project’s clean, clinical sound is tailored for techno clubs, as apparent in lead single “Columns” (Eaux, November 8). One of the fastest releases on the fall slate comes from Monster X. The breakcore EP Ultra is extended to an album in its digital version (Black Opal, September 6). Described as a “low fantasy sleepover,” galen tipton‘s fake meat is a crazy collage of samples, video game beeps and ADD beats (Orange Milk, September 27).
Kompact Total 19 keeps the label’s long-running compilation series going; the vinyl drops September 27. New Arab electronic music can be heard on Under Frustration Vol. 2, with lead tracks from St. Abdullah and DJ Haram (InFiné, September 13). A happy first anniversary to Disintegration State, who celebrates with the compilation Disintegrated Deviations, containing remixes from across the roster. Proceeds benefit the Mermaids and Bloody Good Period charities (September 6). A huge variety of works can be heard on the 33-track compilation forever, from Haunter Records ~ something for every taste (October 4).
Matana Roberts makes a special guest appearance on Klein‘s Lifetime, which mixes electronic genres to form new crossbreeds. Klein describes her album as highly personal, like “giving someone your diary” (ijn inc., September 8). Seasons (pre-din) divides the distance between drone and beats on Distortion of the Cell. This crossbreed is a perfect fit for the label who brought us Angry Ambient Artists (Forwind, October 24). Maenad Veyl offers dark techno beats on the EP Onto Duat, which sports a disturbing x-ray cover (Bedouin, September 20). The title Bloody & Soul belongs to a set of beats and narrative samples; Lars Hemmerling‘s EP is out September 2 on Fullpanda, with a bonus digital track. Drum ‘n’ bass never dies, as proven by the Waveforms EP. Or perhaps old artists never change, as Logistics has been around since 2004 (Hospital, September 13). There’s also a brand new drum ‘n’ bass label called 1985, releasing Alix Perez‘ Phantonym EP on September 13. Modern industrial music can be heard in “Someday You’ll Have This Too,” from Diamondstein‘s Reflecting on a Dying Man. The artist tumbles through styles as he tumbles through thoughts, traveling to see his father one last time (Doom Trip, October 4). We’re intrigued by the sound of Philipp Gorbachev‘s Kolokol, a techno-industrial album that uses church bells as percussion, sampled from over 40 belfries (PG Tune, October 11). Machine Listener makes extensive use of sequencers and synthesizers on Colubrid, an beat-heavy offering on Hausu Mountain (September 27). Don’t be lulled by the sound of Pita‘s “Two Top Five.” This surprisingly accessible drone piece is an entry drug for the cold, rapid beats of Get On (Editions Mego, October 25).
I’m not the only one who misses Front Line Assembly, but the individual players are still in action. Rhys Fulber‘s Ostalgia will make industrial fans nostalgic for the good old days. Now if only we could get some remixes, our lives would be complete! (Sonic Groove, September 9). Sarin sounds more like Front 242, as heard in the teaser for the Moral Cleansing 12″ (BITE, November 15). Sorcery‘s Manufactured Conflicts is heavy on the drums, and the video exudes a classic industrial vibe (Midnight Shift, September 6). Hot on the heels on Mute’s recent Cabaret Voltaire archival finds, Stephen Mallinder has resurfaced with a new, club friendly album. Um Dada is out October 11 on Dais, preceded by the single Working (You Are). 2019 is the new 1989!