Dementio 13 – Imperial Decimal (electronica)

Historically, the music released under the Dementio 13 aegis has been sufficiently consistent to sound like the work of a single project, but it has also developed and evolved in quite striking ways. The earlier work had a more signally electronic sound, and although it involved some remarkable explorations of texture, was notable more for the way that it manipulated relatively simple melodic and harmonic materials to create a very human, outward-looking creative landscape. It did this from a set of premises that might reasonably be expected to yield a more claustrophobic …

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

A combination of electro-acoustic and programmed sounds are used here to create a sound that pays clear homage to African polyrhythmic percussion music, unpitched attacks mingling with sounds similar to idiophones or lamellophones, although they might come from almost any source. Then there are the synths, guitars and lo-fi samples… No Security Through Numbers is far too complex to glibly summarise with a juxtaposition of stylistic labels or a list of other bands I think you might have heard of. Towards the end of ‘Super Symmetry’ a series of fusionesque stabs appear

Various Artists – Album Roundup

Opening with an extended skit inspired by John Carpenter’s Darkstar, it’s obvious from the start that this Strange Gibberish mixtape is going to be heavy on the humour. It’s also heavy on the creativity and experimentation, with some of the beats straying well into avant-garde territory. It’s far too diverse for me to sum it up here, but the quality is consistently high; this is independent music, in every sense of the term, and most of the producers take a pretty freewheeling, eclectic approach to beat-making, while the lyrical themes are varied and unfettered. Although it’s often …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

Concept albums are something that are probably most often associated with complicated rock music and high-falutin lyrics dealing with such themes as the importance of dragons as a symbol of self-realisation. Well, this is very definitely a concept album, but the music it includes is not rock, not complicated, and not endowed with any kind of lyrical content. There is a brief explanation on the Bandcamp page: 4-zero-7 relates the experiences and reminiscences of the eponymous interceptor droid 4.0.7 as it lies on the operating table after sustaining combat damage; eventually the …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

When we get to the fourth track, ‘Womb’, we learn that Cthulhu Detonator is capable of changing tack. There is still noise, in the sense of forcefully stochastic elements within the timbre of the music, but the principal sound is tonal, sonorous and enveloping. ‘Blinding White Light’ takes a similar approach, as does the mid-section of ‘Transmit.Disintegrate’, but most of the rest of the record consists of much harsher noise based compositions, with an avant-gardist structural approach that eschews any easy aesthetic options. It’s hard going, demanding listening, but it’s very creative stuff, and well worth the effort.

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

What I know about Alun Vaughan is limited: I reviewed a very nice solo bass performance album of his, and an EP in a similar vein, and I gather he gets up to quite a lot of jazzy malarkey. This short EP bucks that trend just a little bit. The dominant sound is a raw, punky rhythm guitar, but it gets put to a fair old variety of uses. The opening (title) track is a brief hardcore thrash, punctuated by the ‘Clumpville Borstal Boys Choir’ shouting the title (the only vocals on the EP) and some entertaining instrumental breaks. ‘2013’ retains the instrumental timbres, but it’s much more of a modern prog/math rock affair, with tricksy rhythmic interstices, and plangent lead guitar melodies. ‘Heart Shaped Bruise’ opens with more lead guitar prettiness, against some upper register bass chords…

Various Artists – Album Roundup

Worlds collide in Dementio 13’s latest release, albeit without the biblical histrionics and cataclysmic consequences that usually dance attendance on such events in fiction. There has always been more to Dementio 13 than the electronica with which he has populated his records, and he has always been a musician of unusual erudition, drawing his language from a huge range of sources across a selection of decades (roughly the last four) which have witnessed an unprecedented frenzy of musical innovation and invention. Those that read his frequently updated and always interesting blog will be aware that distinctly electro-acoustic devices have been appearing in his studio of late, such as bass guitars (always a welcome presence to my…

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

Positive vibes abound on this perfectly formed EP produced by the estimable Rich Huxley, whose main gig Hope And Social sits in exactly the same affective territory; clear-sighted optimism is the order of the day, and because the songs are notably lacking in trite sentiment or spurious closure the effect is genuinely uplifting. The musical engine that drives the feeling is a light but deep acoustic groove, which swings hard with an upbeat lift on even the most laid-back of the tunes. The band is locked in so tightly that it’s hard to credit how relaxed they sound, and the dynamics are shaded and weighted with real sensitivity; the mix strikes a perfect balance between separation and integration, or more to the point, it has a shedload of both, so although

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

There are ‘pieces’ that are undeniably rap, and definitely not poetry, such as The Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’, and there are others that are undeniably poetry, and definitely not rap, such as John Donne’s Elegy XIX: To His Mistress Going To Bed. This emphatic distinction is a matter of customary usage however, not of hard and fast definitions, and to look for the precise boundary between the two is to fall into an essentialist fallacy. Nevertheless, many assume the existence of such a defensible frontier, which can make for a strong reaction to its penetration, either of outrage or amazement. The Ruby Kid straddles that imaginary barrier without difficulty; the songs/poems/raps on Strange, Lively & Commonplace are both one …

Pttrns – Body Pressure (electronica)

Simon Reynolds wrote an interesting book about the recycling of culture, particularly mass- and popular culture, particularly music (it’s called Retromania if you want to read it). His central point, that culture is revived and recycled on an every decreasing cycle until it reaches the point at which no new language is possible, a sort of stylistic event horizon, is a valid one. However, underlying this observation is the important understanding that all language, of any kind, has always been concerned with other language; Pttrns make extensive use of established practices and motifs in Body Pressure, but so has every artist in every field. The moments of apparent rupture come in work that is fortunate enough to crest a technological …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

Sufficiently independent not to sound ‘indie’, yet aesthetically straightforward enough not to sound ‘experimental’, Neurotic Wreck’s schtick is a pretty accessible art-pop stew; a predominantly electronic production mashes up trip-hop, electro, shoegaze and other downbeat sources, into a melancholy and and carefully textured soundworld, freighted with nostalgia and regret. The album is all about its songs, which is to say it’s as much about lyrics and melody as it is about production, but the creative textures and arrangements are a central part of the utterance; it’s moderately avant-garde, but it’s also furnished with a pop sensibility, and very well put together. It’s not party music, but it’s very listenable, and indeed re-listenable.

Paragaté – Spaceflight Pharmacology (ambient)

Possessed of a melodic simplicity that invokes naïvety, and a harmonic rhythm that deploys some erudition in the service of fairy-tale inevitability, ‘Friendship’, the brief G. Cook piano piece with which Tom DePlonty opens Spaceflight Pharmacology, is a scene setter. Quickly succeeded by a piece that might more readily be associated with Paragaté’s established interest in ambient music, it serves notice to the listener that they should have their ears open, and that their critical responses should be held in abeyance until they have heard the entirety of this hour long utterance. Many of the pieces that follow are more aurally discursive than is common in ambient music, and although atmosphere is clearly a concern throughout, with a sense of…

Various Artists – Album Roundup

The Interceptor (a creative alias of the musically promiscuous Chris Saunders, a man who seems to join or form a new band every week), is a purveyor of electronic music; there’s a definite 8-bit vibe but these tracks are far from purist chip-tune territory. Looking at the project’s fairly minimal online presence we can discern an interest in soundtrack that tallies with the primarily atmospheric content of the music: specifically, these sounds are intended as a soundtrack to killing zombies, driving through apocalyptic wastelands and fighting cyborgs or serial killers. Which might lead the listener to expect something heavy and harsh, in the manner of electro-industrial or powernoise, or some kind of circuit-bent hybrid like Army of 2600 …