Saturday, February 25, 2017

Various - United State Of Ambience

Moonshine Music: 1994

Though the label that Steve Levy and Dave Audé built got its start in 1992, the Moonshine that came to dominate much of the American electronic music shops didn’t really take form until 1994. The scene’s growing momentum was inescapable, and the print was quick to capitalize on it, expanding the print’s potential while rebranding with a spiffy new logo that’d carry them into the future. They also abandoned most of the hardcore rave that marked their earliest output, taking on other genres that were defining a surging counter-culture. The first of these was an acid jazz collection (hey, it was popular in the early ‘90s!), followed by a progressive house rinse-out from Sasha and Seaman (dude!). Another edition to their already popular Speed Limit 140 BPM series followed that, with a compilation featuring the chill, trendy genre next: ambient.

Only trouble is I don’t think the boys at Moonshine quite knew much about ambient yet. The liner notes open with “Ambient music is the sound of unification, a gathering of tribes.” Que? What’s that got to do with ambient music? Had they not heard of anything from Eno, Orb, Aphex, or Roach? Meditation music, I can buy as having attributes of ambient, but most of the stuff gaining critical plaudits in art houses and chill-out rooms had little association with yoga meets and drum circles. Nay, what Moonshine’s actually peddling here is a world-beat collection, with some meditative, minimalist dubby stuff thrown in for flavor. Makes sense, what with groups like Enigma, Deep Forest, and so on about the closest thing most folks in America associated with electronic ‘chill-out’ music in those days. Throw a pile of public domain ethnic samples into a soup with tribal beats, and you too can have your very own ‘ambient’ compilation on the market!

I shouldn’t be too hard on Moonshine though, as they likely didn’t have much in the way of licensing options at this early stage of their lifespan. Some utter unknowns are floating in this tracklist, a couple of which only made appearances here. League Of Nations’ Impossible Religion sounds like it wandered off from a Pure Moods CD, and Goa: Season Of The Monsoon from Rhythm Method is only marginally better.

Of more interest are way early efforts from Hawke (Gavin Hardkiss) and Dubtribe Soundsystem, both doing ultra-moody, minimalist dub works, coming off like PWoG tracks. Side projects also get a look in, most prominent of them being the Rabbit In The Moon ambient venture LunaSol. Both Dawn’s somber piano-n-pad work and groovy world-beat action of Butterfly are wonderful tunes, almost worth the price of United State Of Ambience alone (especially since you can’t find them anywhere else). Young American Primitive doing his eclectic chill thing in Expansion, and Electric Skychurch doing their prog-house thing in Creation rounds out an… interesting compilation, to say the least. United State Of Ambience at least maintains its manifesto of ‘tribal ambient’ throughout – just a shame only half the tracks hold up though.

Various - United DJs Of America Volume 17: Scott Hardkiss (Original TC Review)

DMC: 2001

(2017 Update:
One of the very, very,
very few perfect scores I gave out while writing for TranceCritic, and I still stand by it. Admittedly, what Scott Hardkiss does here probably isn't as impressive these days what with digital DJing making eclectic sets like these much easier to produce. Heck, such CDs were quite marketable and profitable for a short while a number of years back, kitchen-sink sets earning all the critical plaudits. Just makes Scott's effort here all the more remarkable having done it on vinyl, practically in spite of scene hype focusing its attention elsewhere.

Sadly, Scott passed away some four years ago now. Before then, he'd finally released a full-length album in 2009 called
Technicolor Dreamer, all the while continuing to put out singles and working the DJ circuit until the end. Truly one of San Francisco's legends, taken far too soon.)

IN BRIEF: More house than a suburban district.

United DJs Of America: remember this series? If not, don’t feel too bad - it’s understandable. Despite having a number of highly respected names tied to it (Bones, Bambaataa, Knuckles, Vega, Farina, Craze… loads more), DMC had difficulty maintaining a consistent distributor, flopping around on several during its eight year run. In the end, it folded when the American dance industry entered a mild recession in the year of ‘03.

Shame, then, that San Francisco based DJ/producer Scott Hardkiss should be offered a go at this series so late in its run. Most likely know Hardkiss as that guy behind God Within and White Dove, but he was mixing up acid, breaks, and house on the West Coast scene for longer than that. As something of a recluse from the spotlight, he never quite broke out the way many of his peers did. And when finally given the opportunity to do so, his contribution to the United DJs legacy went largely unnoticed. And that, my friends, is an even bigger shame, as Hardkiss put together possibly one of the finest mixes the series ever saw.

For all its resilience and ace talent, the quality of United DJs often varied. It wasn’t uncommon for a classic release to be followed with an achingly average one, often due to the limitations DJs put themselves in by sticking to their chosen styles. Hardkiss, though, is a wildly eclectic DJ, and wouldn’t be satisfied with settling for a few forms of house. So, he went and made a mix with all of them!

Well, not all of them. Deep house is absent because this isn’t the kind of set for it. Electro house is obviously uninvited to this party either, since this release comes before that sound had really emerged. And of course euro-house is just too poppy. But yeah ...everything else - prog, acid, disco, tech; it’s all here.

So if this is such a varied mix, why did it go unnoticed? First impressions can go a long way, and in this case the opening tracks may have turned many away. Hardkiss starts with prog, and in 2001 this stuff was everywhere, with many sets sounding no different from the next. You’d be forgiven for dismissing this as Just Another Prog Mix based on the beginning.

But unlike many prog sets that drag with tension builders and transition tracks due to the room of two discs, Hardkiss knows he has far less time to get everything he wants in the seventy-four minutes a single CD offers. With no wasted meanderings, he mixes into his trademark funky acid house with Electric Skychurch’s Liberty and peaks the trip with a kaleidoscope of bubbly psychedelia in is rub of Tom Chasteen’s Freedom. And soon after that, we’re off into a festive atmosphere with The Heartists’ Bolo Horizonti, where Hardkiss gives a nod to New York as well with David Morales’ remix of the same track right afterwards.

You’d think these quick transitions between such different types of house (we’ve gone through at least four by the mid-way mark) would clash with abrupt mixes, yet Hardkiss keeps things flowing just fine, each track complementing the next without sounding forced. By contrast, a number of DJ mixes that attempt house sets of this nature sound like an MP3 player put on Random. Either it’s a testament to his skill as a DJ, or most other DJs have just grown lazy over the years by sticking with only a couple styles.

The house music continues jumping all over the place as the set carries on: funk is brought in courtesy of C-Mos’ 6-2 Young; having earned our trust with his track selection thus far, Hardkiss gets away with the goofy fun of Plastika and Conga Squad’s Disco Rockin’; energetic tech injects a dose of adrenaline with Jark Prongo’s Rocket Bass (and yes, that is Push It sampled there); good-natured hip-house from Armand van Helden and Common take us out with class; and sprinklings of San Francisco’s disco funk fill in the gaps.

Critiques then. Surely there has to be something that doesn’t hold up on this half-a-decade old set. Honestly, there’s very little worth criticizing here: track arrangement is superb and the mixing is mostly unobtrusive. A couple technical issues pop up but hardly hinder; in fact, it adds to the charm of this set, giving it a rawer live feeling and thus making Hardkiss’ few DJ tricks all the more engaging. And even if you don’t fancy house music, you’ll nonetheless enjoy the positive San Fran vibes that ooze from these tracks.

Steady readers of this website probably realize these five-star ratings are rare, but Hardkiss’ foray has everything we look for in a release that earns it: diversity, creativity, and - most importantly - enjoyable engagement from start to finish. Don’t miss out on this overlooked gem.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2007. © All rights reserved

Friday, February 24, 2017

Various - Unfold #2: Christopher Lawrence

Moist Music: 2008

It's taken forever to finally get Christopher Lawrence into this blog’s archives! Whatever is the matter with me? Don’t I have any of his CDs in my collection? Sadly not, this one technically an abandoned TranceCritic promo that I neglected to review for reasons that utterly escape me now. As for never having picked up a C.L. mix or album, I have no excuse for it other than inexplicable apathy. I’ve seen his name for almost as long as I’ve been buying trance CDs, the chap a fixture on Moonshine after the turn of the century. Though I didn’t buy them, I generally liked what I heard, a tougher take on trance at a time when most jocks were getting fluffier and banal (or abandoning the genre altogether). When that label folded, he soon set up his own Pharmacy Music print, which he continues to run and promote podcasts through to this day. Along the way, he joined John ‘00’ Fleming in championing psy trance as the new hotness for proper trance t’ings, so aces in that development.

It’s during this period we find ourselves with Unfold #2, a short-lived series from Dutch label Fektive Records, and given an American release by Moist Music. Interesting note about Moist, a number of Moonshine refugees found new homes there, though it’s merely a roundabout coincidence that Lawrence finally ended up there too. Unfold itself was designed to highlight some of trance’s most notable old-school DJs still kickin’ out an underground sound, the first volume of which featuring Fleming (of course). A third edition had Marco V - an odd choice for the late ‘00s as he’d moved on from trance by that point - and that was all she wrote for Unfold (so sayeth The Discogs).

As for ol’ Chris’s go here, yeah, it’s a full-on psy set. Perhaps another reason I wasn’t quick in doing a review of this was my interest in the sub-genre had dwindled when this came out. I’m pretty sure I did like it somewhat, just not enough to inspire fingers to keyboard. Weird, because this stuff is pretty good all things considered. I only recognize a few names here (Mad Hatters, Cosmonet… Spacecat?), and I think I’ve heard some of these elsewhere (Basic’s Toyster and Audio-X’s And We Survive have very familiar, punchy hooks). For the most part though, it’s a classy, energetic collection of tunes for this style, with little of the random wibble the Israeli scene churned out. A few early tracks – Brain Damage’s Waiting For My Angel, Mad Contrabender’s Illegal Hardware and Killer from Gaudium Vs Dualsnug (god, these names) – even get my vintage senses tingling. Unfold #2 isn’t the best starting point for Christopher Lawrence, but it’s serviceable if you fancy the psy of the era.

Eh? CD1 of this two-discer? Oh, it’s just C.L. fitting in with the electro-progressive-plod-house of the time (hey, Mark Norman!). The opening track from Spooky (New Light (Strobelight Mix)) is nice, but the rest… yyy-eeah.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Aquascape - Underwater Stranger

Altar Records: 2011/2012

Label raids are good fun and all, but there does come a point where all the intriguing releases run out. There’s only so deep down the rabbit hole one should explore before considering just how necessary total and utter completion of a label collection is necessary. No, it’s true – no single print is one-hundred percent infallible. Plenty are ace, top grade even, with track records shaming many of their contemporaries. A perfect run of platinum quality releases though? Not bloody likely. Even my all-time favorites (Ultimae, Turbo, Waveform …Cryo Chamber yet?) have a few CDs in their catalog that, in hindsight, I really didn’t need to have. To say nothing of other labels I’ve dug into over the years.

Take Altar Records. They’ve a few acts I’m quite committed to scoping out with each album, and digging further has revealed a number of solid CDs along the way. That said, the label’s assorted yoga and meditation offerings definitely are not on my interest list, nor can I say I’m committed to checking out every psy-chill act that gets signed to them. Having exhausted most of the recognizable name, however, I’m left with an alternative selection process: does it have interesting cover art? Well hey, this Aquascape looks unique compared to the usual ultra-mystical stuff Altar goes with - simple, elegant, inexplicable manta ray. Sure, I’ll give this a shot, fits nicely with the ‘water theme’ I was splurging with at the time anyway.

And boy, was I not expecting this. A decent collection of psy-chill, sure, Altar’s early track record pretty spot on for this sound. Aquascape though, they kinda’ slipped by my attention, even after giving their Voice Of The Universe track on the Air compilation an Ace Track honor. The duo, comprised of Andrey Kostomarov and Anton Salikov, didn’t stick with Altar for long though, mostly contributing to Tunguska Electronic Music Society compilations and, more recently, Plusquam Chillout. Lord Discogs tells me they’ve only released one other album since Underwater Stranger, a digital LP on Tiger Grass Records called Sunrise In Fog. Damn, I hope that’s just incomplete information, because if this album’s anything to go by, they’ve got a good sound going for them.

Right, their take on psy-chill does occasionally dip close to the shores of sappy New Age stuff, but never such that I get my cringe on. Mostly, we’re fed a steady diet of dubby grooves, acidy sounds, and guitar solos. Oh yeah, Anton provides various acoustic, flamenco, and spacey guitar work. While not on the level of Steve Hillage, it adds a fresh dynamic to your standard psy-chill tropes.

I won’t deny Underwater Stranger lacks the sort of tunes that leap out and grab your ears by their balls (!?), but it’s an album I find enjoying front-to-back every time, easing me in for a smooth, chill ride as I go about my business. Music good enough as wallpaper, but dynamic enough for those times you want a little zone-out time too.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Murmur - Undertone

Meanwhile: 2007

One more album initially slotted for a spiffy TranceCritic review that fell completely through the cracks. I had no idea what I was dealing with upon seeing that cloud covered cover. Maybe some ambient? I mean, with a name like Murmur, it was probably some really calm, soothing, clever pad work – not exactly the old website’s bread ‘n’ butter, but at least interesting enough that I’d find a few talking points worth exploiting into a cumbersome 1,000 word review. Well, none of that, Undertone turning out as one of the dub technoiest dub techno releases I’d yet heard dub techno done go in the year 2007, and there was a lot of dub techno getting all dub technoey on our asses that year, I tell you what. If we were one of those trendy online rags hyping all that dub techno bizz’ness, maybe I’d have gone through with a review, but man, was I ever drawing a blank on this one, growing tired of the endless DeepChord rip-offs and Basic Channel clones.

Still, there must be something to Murmur’s debut LP if I’ve kept it around all this time, sparing it the same indignity of a quick plummet into the Recycle Bin among so much rancid, rubbish hardstyle. Because for all its repetitive faults, I still cannae deny myself a good ol’ bit of dub reverb tickling the hairs within my ears. Plus, I’ve come plenty far in my ability to wax the bull when talking up any ol’ release now, so what fear should I have now in taking on Undertone?

Finding out more about the men behind the alias, turns out. Lord Discogs provides not a clue, a mere link to a MySpace page I’m almost certain is defunct now. Half a dozen releases are tagged to the Murmur handle, finally drying up in 2010. The print they established with Bovill, Meanwhile, continues to this day, though with a ridiculously glacial output – the music Meanwhile makes is minimal, an so is their release schedule! (haha, such waxed bull). Poking about the webs a bit further, I discovered at least four other Murmurs out there, all coming out after this one. Some of them are post rock or metal, another might be the same guys doing drone ambient but could just be a coincidence, and the fourth offers festival bangers with titles like Break Glowstix Not Hearts. Safe to say that’s someone else.

Undertone, meanwhile (on Meanwhile!), is an incredibly clinical study in minimalist dub techno’s attributes. Beats are typically soft, very few hi-hats getting in the way of all that cavernous resonance. Other tracks are your standard explorations in dub-drone, going wherever the reverb takes you. A couple tracks (Bloodclot, Slip) could work as transitional pieces in a deep techno set, but little here is intended for dancefloor rinse-out. Nay, smoke that fat blunt, throw on your best audiophile headgear, and chill the fuck out with this collection of tracks. Peace.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bluescreen - Undercurrents

Shadow Records: 2001

That the label that gave America an early taste of Ninja Tune and all things trip-hoppy, abstract-funky would throw its hat into the trance game was remarkable, daft even, among the most unexpected things I’ve ever come across in my music buying time. Still, with that scene popular enough with young punters, what harm was there in giving it a shot with a couple, nicely-priced compilations in Trance Sessions? Besides, it helped promote one of their signed acts, one Anthony Voitik, or Bluescreen as he goes by here.

This debut album came out a short while before Trance Sessions did, in of itself remarkable. Forget that whole ‘jumping on the trance bandwagon’ angle the compilations kinda-sorta reeked of, Shadow went and signed a totally unknown dude for a trance album. Not just any trance either, but deliberately old-school leaning stuff, tunes that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from MFS’ heyday, a style almost extinct by the year 2001 courtesy of the drudge-Dutch invasion. How’d they even make contact with him? Mr. Voitik hailed from the literal opposite end of the continent from Shadow headquarters, mostly residing in the hinterlands of British Columbia. For a time, only a few streets away from me.

Okay, full disclosure: I know ol’ Anthony. Like, went to the same high school as him. Drank at the same house parties as him. Rode four hours in his car to the same bush raves in Smithers with him. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to those living in major hubs of electronic music (London, Detroit, Berlin, New York City, San Francisco, Montreal… Vancouver?), where talent of all sort mingled with regular joes as they grew up. When I say our hometown is out on the fringes of Western society though, I ain’t kidding. It’s amazing that anyone from there ended up getting a record deal for a trance album, much less on a well-known trip-hop print like Shadow Records.

Thus me saying I like Undercurrents obviously comes with degree of bias, since I quite like the brand of trance Mr. Voitik enjoyed as well. If you fancied yourself some of that Paul van Dyk vibe but hated his turn towards the pop side of things, you’ll probably like this too. There isn’t much in the way of surprises, Bluescreen mostly sticking to an easy-going, traditional template to his tunes. Of notables diversions, he goes a little prog-house with Vanishing, Daybreak has some fun with the acid, and Surfacing works as a nice summation to the melodic points touched upon throughout. Aliendisco is about the only tune that leaps way out of Mr. Voitik’s established comfort zone - it’s speed garage, but with a sci-fi twist. I’ve never heard another speed garage track do this, much less produced by a trance guy. Corsten hasn’t gone there. Lieb sure never went there. Armin hasn’t gone there, and he’s gone to some wack places over the years. Tiësto probably would have though, if there was money to be made.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Fred Everything - Under The Sun

Turbo Recordings: 2000

West coast deep house was growing mighty popular at the turn of the century, especially out here on the West coast (who knew!). And while San Francisco was generally considered the hotbed of funky, groovy chill vibes perfect for lounges and beach parties, Canada had a few talents making inroads on a scene long dominated by Chicago transplants. Fred Everything was probably the biggest of this bunch, slightly odd considering his Quebec origins, not to mention his first major record deal was with UK print 20:20 Vision. Still, his tight, loopy beatcraft fit snugly with the likes of Mark Farina and Miguel Migs, remaining a consistent presence in the deep house scene throughout the ‘00s, eventually finding a natural home with OM Records. No, wait, that deal only lasted a few years, all the while working on establishing his print with Lazy Days Recordings. That one’s lasted a little longer (to this day, in fact), though Fred’s output has slowed as of late (edit: but with quite the uptick this past year!). He’s still truckin’ along though, never abandoning the deep house vibe that defined his early success.

Speaking of that early success, here’s Mr. Everything’s first full-length effort, Under The Sun. Naturally this came out on 20:20 Vision, but as ol’ Fred had ties to the Montreal club scene, tastemaker Tiga was there to offer a Canadian (and thusly American) distribution deal on his trendy Turbo label. Win-win for both players involved, as Under The Sun wouldn’t get lost in cumbersome import technicalities, and Turbo could finally have its first proper album out on the market after a long run of DJ mixes (ADNY’s Selections ’97-2000 was more a compilation, if you want to get finicky technical about such things). And while I won’t complain about the geometric architecture cover photo for Turbo’s release, it does seem odd they’d replace the overhead cross-country ski race shot that made up the 20:20 Vision version. Strikes me as more authentically ‘Quebec’, is what I’m getting at, but maybe Tiga figured that was a little too on the nose for the music’s target audience. Who am I to question Tiga’s judgment, eh?

If you know anything about deep house from the early ‘00s, you’ll be familiar with Fred Everything’s sound. Sometimes he goes funkier (Let You Down, Derby, Universal Mind), other times jazzy (Without), or simply soulful (Another Soul). Nor is he beholden to a strict house rhythm, getting acid jazz shuffly on Good Morning, or having a stab at retro electro with Huggin’Kissin. And speaking of the retro, how about a touch of talk-box action in Revolution, sure to get your Daft Punk triggers flaring.

And that’s Under The Sun, a solid collection of deep, groovy vibes all about, and now a review lo-o-o-ng overdue finally finished. What, don’t you remember I promised this when going through all those Mixed Goods burned CDs of mine? That I basically lifted this album for one of them? Back in… oh wow, that was a while ago now.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Inspectah Deck - Uncontrolled Substance

Sony Music Entertainment: 1999

As a rebel without a cause, Inspectah Deck leads the charge, forever one of Wu-Tang Clan’s most fiery spitters, but rushing into battle with no clear objective. He’ll drop that philosophical bomb atomically, but what of the follow-through? With a half-dozen albums deep of evidence, he seldom seemed capable of sustaining that first-strike verbal carnage into a lasting campaign. At least, that used to be the charge laid upon one Mr. Hunter, but his recent work as Czarface having redeemed a solo career that never delivered the classic record hip-hop heads expected of him. Who knew adopting the persona of a cyborg crime-fighting mafia-don that can shoot frickin’ laser beams from his eyes would do the trick? I think Czarface is all about that, if the art is anything to go by. I should look into it.

For now though, let’s check out Uncontrolled Substance, Inspectah’s debut from 1999, four years overdue and coming out when Wu-Tang hype was on the wane. Even getting the whole Clan in to help on a project was proving difficult at that point, most members focusing on solo work while building up their own protégés. Compounding problems further for the Rebel INS was the fact the early demo beats RZA had written for his debut were lost in a studio flood, forcing that album to be scrapped and started over. Yes, we were denied vintage mid-‘90s RZA beats with Deck undoubtedly spitting fire over them all, with the full Clan in support.

Instead, we get okay beats from RZA protégés 4th Disciple and True Master, though Deck’s own productions outshine most of theirs. RZA himself provides a pair of beats too, though are far from his glorious early, gritty sounds. Guest spots from the Wu fam’ are sadly minimal, with U-God and Masta Killa only offering a couple verses, and a few additional guest spots from second-tier affiliates like Street Life and Killa Sin.

Ultimately, it’s all on the Rebel INS to carry Uncontrolled Substance, and he does excel there, mostly dominated by battle-raps no one else in the Clan can top, with other stuff mixing things up throughout. There’s hood tales like Word On The Street and Trouble Man (with Pete Rock funk at the board on that one); clubbier offerings like R.E.C. Room and Movas & Shakers (why can’t I ever get Deck’s lyrics of “Bartender! Two Kahlua and milk with crushed ice in the blender” out of my head?); conscious diatribes like The Cause and Elevation (with a Deck beat that was reused in Ghostface’s Supreme Clientele); and some jams for the ladies too (Lovin You, Forget Me Not, and the slinky noir-funk of Femme Fatale… wait, that’s two reviews in a row with a Femme Fatale… the odds, mang!). Strangely, it’s a couple interludes, where Inspectah’s freestyling over a pounding 808 beat, that get me charged the most. They’re only ten seconds each, but damn if I wouldn’t pay good money to hear a full record of that!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Perturbator - The Uncanny Valley

Blood Music: 2016

I keep bringing this up with every Perturbator release now, but I can’t help it, fascinated by Blood Music’s dedication to their artist. They go bananas in the various ways you can own a physical copy of Mr. Kent’s music, putting most labels to utter shame with their swag. Even top-ten producers of electronic music don’t get such a roll-out as this synthwave maestro does. Lord Discogs currently lists fourteen different releases for The Uncanny Valley: this includes the usual coloured records and tapes Blood Music offers, but multiple box-set versions too, with patterned artwork on the vinyl itself (the blood splatter one appears particularly popular). And did I mention the graphic novel? There’s a graphic novel with The Uncanny Valley! Me being CD-me though, I had to settle for the lone, requisite digipak option that- wait, there was a deluxe CD option that included the graphic novel and a bonus EP? Well f

I have to wonder whether James Kent always had ideas for a comic or novel or short film series with this ongoing tale of Perturbator: Night Driving Avenger before settling on music. Because if The Uncanny Valley is any indication, he must be sitting on a wealth of material for future use, continuously building upon his future-shock dystopian universe with every release. This time out, he’s added a fembot cyborg partner in his avenging exploits, plus a whole new antagonist in the Cult Of 2112. Seriously, are there any other electronic producers as dedicated to story arcs as Perturbator? Metal bands, sure; some hip-hop projects, definitely! But techno or house? Hardly, producers content at making tools for dancefloors or headphone commutes. Who’s got time for ongoing narratives when there’s singles to sell?

Of course, having a story arc linking your albums together might seem as little else than a gimmick, one that falls flat on its face without the music to back it up. And synthwave, a scene often filled with shifty retro-gimmickry, doesn’t lend Perturbator many favours without some evolution in his sound. Fortunately Mr. Kent is well up to the task, The Uncanny Valley his strongest album-album yet.

It’s got all the hallmarks of a strong musical narrative, with opening settings, reflective interludes, pulse-pounding climax, and philosophical denouement. Whereas his previous outing, Dangerous Days, was relentless in hitting you with the action, The Uncanny Valley spaces things out more, exploring different moods and tones while leaving plenty of room for those mint Perturbator high-octane cuts (holy cow, that Assault on The Cult Of 2112!). The opening tracks throw some wrinkles in his style too, Weapons For Children and Death Squad slowing things down some, treading into EBM and New Beat’s domain in doing so. That’s followed upon by a noir-jazz outing in Femme Fatale, because of course he’d go there eventually. Meanwhile, little beatcraft tweaks and sonic twerks add extra dynamics to his productions, leaving The Uncanny Valley some of Pertubator’s most accomplished song-writing I’ve heard. No pressure topping this one, lads.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

2562 - Unbalance (2017 Update)

Tectonic: 2009

(Click here to read my original TranceCritic review.)

That old review opens with an attempt by yours truly at cataloging dubstep’s myriad permutations into neat, tidy sub-genres, and for the year 2009, it made some sense. ‘Wobble’ had yet to morph into the now-commonly accepted nomenclature of brostep, mainly because it had yet to go full-bro on all our asses (but oh was it ever just over the horizon!). There definitely was an ‘atmospheric’ side to the scene, though most now refer to it as post-dubstep, or future garage if they don’t want their sound associated with the ham-fisted bro anthems dubstep at large ultimately catered towards. And finally I brought up ‘funky’ as a refuge for UK garage fans missing the glory days of Artful Dodger, or some-such. Yeah, I had no idea what the 2-step I was talking about there – UK funky is more an Afro-house thing, and I’d have known that too if I’d ever listened to the stuff back then. Dammit though, the UK bass ‘n’ urban scene was splintering into so many dozen-and-done micro-genres at the turn of the decade. Like I had much time, interest or care to sample all of it, no matter how much Pitchfork or Guardian were telling these were Very Important developments in music culture.

Still, the techno-infusion dubstep was seeing towards the end of the ‘00s intrigued me a little. Between Scuba, Sigha, Shackleton, and 2562, it seemed the genre was leaping out from the urban alleyways into bold, brittle dystopian cityscapes, all the hot journals just as quick at hyping this new development as any other. Alas, t’was as short lived as most hype goes, hotter hotness replacing their names, all the while dubstep soon regarded old, stale, passé, and poo after the bros invaded everything. Some went onto other genres, while others carried on despite the turning tides of fortune, retaining loyal fanbases within dedicated scenes, rather glad the spotlight no longer shone so bright upon their careers. Can’t say 2562 is one of the latter, however.

In the years since I originally wrote that TranceCritic review, Dave Huismans kept himself busy, but as with many of his ‘post-dubstep’ brethren, slowly moved on from the broken beatcraft of his early works. Shortly after releasing Unbalance, he took his 2562 alias out from his Tectonic deal, and started self-releasing material on his own When In Doubt print. Lord Discogs lists his last release as 2562 being The New Day back in 2014, a record with as much techno going for it as anything dubstep. Given how techno-leaning his music was already, it’s hardly surprising he’d go all the way with it eventually. His other alias, A Made Up Sound, has kept him more active in the singles market to this date, with a double-LP retrospective coming out just last year. That one’s gone as techno as anything coming out of Berlin now, so it must be serving Mr. Huismans’ career well enough. After relistening to Unbalance though, it does leave the current creative possibilities a little wanting.

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10 Records 16 Bit Lolita's 1965 1966 1967 1969 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2 Play Records 2 Unlimited 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 20xx Update 2562 302 Acid 4AD 6 x 6 Records 75 Ark 808 State A Perfect Circle A Positive Life A-Wave A&M Records A&R Records Abasi Above and Beyond abstract Ace Tracks Playlists Ace Ventura acid acid house acid jazz acid techno acoustic Adam Freeland Adham Shaikh ADNY Adrian Younge adult contemporary Aegri Somnia Aes Dana Afrika Bambaataa Afro-house Afterhours Agoria Ajana Records AK1200 Akshan album Aldrin Alex Theory Alio Die Alphabet Zoo Alphaxone Altar Records Alter Ego alternative rock Alucidnation Ambelion ambient ambient dub ambient techno Ambient World Ambientium Ametsub Amon Tobin Amplexus Anabolic Frolic Andrea Parker Andrew Heath Androcell anecdotes Aniplex Anjunabeats Another Fine Day Antendex anthem house Anthony Rother Anti-Social Network Aphasia Records Aphex Twin Apócrýphos Apollo Apple Records April Records Aqua Aquascape Aquila Arcade arena rock Arista Armada Armin van Buuren Arpatle Arts & Crafts ASC Ashtech Asian Dub Foundation Astral Waves Astralwerks AstroPilot Asura Asylum Records ATCO Records Atlantic Atlantis atmospheric jungle Atomic Hooligan Atrium Carceri Attic Audion AuroraX Autistici Aveparthe Avicii Axiom Axtone Records B.G. The Prince Of Rap Babygrande Balance Balanced Records Balearic ballad Banco de Gaia Bandulu battle-rap Beastie Boys Beat Buzz Records Beats & Pieces Beck Bedouin Soundclash Beechwood Music Benny Benassi Berlin-School Beto Narme bhangra big beat Big Boi Big L Big Life Bill Hamel Bill Laswell BineMusic BioMetal Biosphere BKS Black Hole Recordings black rebel motorcycle club Black Swan Sounds Blanco Y Negro Blasterjaxx Blend Blood Music Blow Up Blue Öyster Cult blues Bluescreen BMG Boards Of Canada Bob Dylan Bob Marley Bobina Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Boney M Bong Load Records Booka Shade Botchit & Scarper Boxed Boys Noize Boysnoize Records braindance Brandt Brauer Frick breakcore breaks Brian Eno Brian Wilson Brodinski broken beat Brooklyn Music Ltd Bryan Adams BT Buffalo Springfield Bulk Recordings Burial Burned CDs Bush Busta Rhymes Calibre calypso Capitol Records Capsula Captured Digital Carbon Based Lifeforms Carl B Carl Craig Carol C Caroline Records Carpe Sonum Records CD-Maximum Celestial Dragon Records Cell Celtic Cheb i Sabbah Cheeky Records chill-out chiptune Chris Duckenfield Chris Fortier Chris Korda Chris Sheppard Christopher Lawrence Chromeo Chronos Chrysalis Ciaran Byrne cinematic soundscapes Circular Cirrus Cities Last Broadcast CJ Stone Claptone classic house classic rock classical Claude Young Clear Label Records Cleopatra Cloud 9 Club Cutz Cocoon Recordings Coldcut Coldplay Colette collagist Columbia comedy Compilation Comrie Smith Connect.Ohm conscious Control Music Cor Fijneman Cosmic Gate Cosmic Replicant Cosmos Studios Council Of Nine Counter Records country country rock Covert Operations Recordings Crazy Horse Cream Creamfields Crockett's Theme Crosby Stills And Nash Crosstown Rebels crunk Cryo Chamber Cube Guys Culture Beat cut'n'paste Cyan Music Cyber Productions CyberOctave D-Bridge D-Fuse Dacru Records Daddy G Daft Punk Damian Lazarus Damon Albarn Dan The Automator Dance 2 Trance Dance Pool dancehall Daniel Heatcliff Daniel Wanrooy Dao Da Noize dark ambient dark psy darkside darkstep darkwave David Bickley David Morley DDR Deadmau5 Death Row Records Deejay Goldfinger Deep Dish Deep Forest deep house Deeply Rooted House Deepwater Black Def Jam Recordings Del Tha Funkee Homosapien Delerium Deltron 3030 Depeche Mode Der Dritte Raum Derek Carr Detroit DFA DGC diametric. Dieselboy Different DigiCube Dillinja dirty house Dirty South Dirty Vegas disco Disco Gecko disco house disco punk Discover (label) Disky Disques Dreyfus Distant System Disturbance DJ 3000 DJ Brian DJ Craze DJ Dan DJ Dean DJ Gonzalo DJ Heather DJ John Kelley DJ Merlin DJ Mix DJ Moe Sticky DJ Observer DJ Premier DJ Q-Bert DJ Shadow DJ-Kicks Djen Ajakan Shean DJMag DMC DMC Records Doc Scott Dogon Dogwhistle Dopplereffekt Dossier downtempo dowtempo Dr. Atmo Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Dragon Quest dream house DreamWorks Records Drexciya drill 'n' bass Dronarivm drone Dronny Darko drum 'n' bass drunken review dub Dub Pistols dub techno Dub Trees Dubfire dubstep DuMonde Dune E-Mantra E-Z Rollers Eardream Music Earthling Eastcoast EastWest Eat Static EBM Echodub Ed Rush & Optical Editions EG EDM World Weekly News electro Electro House Electro Sun electro-funk electro-pop electroclash Electronic Dance Essentials Electrovoya Elektra Elektrolux em:t EMC update EMI Eminem Emmerichk Emperor Norton enCAPSULAte Engine Recordings Enigma Enmarta Epic epic trance Erik Vee Erol Alkan Escape ethereal euro dance Eurythmics Eve Records Ewan Pearson experimental Eye Q Records F Communications Fabric Fade Records Faithless Fallen fanfic Fatboy Slim Fax +49-69/450464 Fear Factory Fedde Le Grand Fehrplay Feist Fektive Records Felix da Housecat Fennesz Ferry Corsten FFRR field recordings Filter filters Final Fantasy Five AM Flashover Recordings Floating Points Flowers For Bodysnatchers Flowjob Fluke folk footwork Force Intel Fountain Music Four Tet FPU Frank Bretschneider Frankie Bones Frankie Knuckles Fred Everything freestyle French house Front Line Assembly fsoldigital.com Fugees full-on Fun Factory funk future garage Future Sound Of London g-funk gabber Gabriel Le Mar Galaktlan Galati Gang Starr gangsta garage Gas Gasoline Alley Records Gee Street Geffen Records Gel-Sol Gerald Donald Get Physical Music ghetto Ghostface Killah glam Gliese 581C glitch Global Underground Globular goa trance God Body Disconnect Gorillaz gospel goth Grammy Awards grime Groove Armada Groove Corporation Grooverider grunge Guru GZA Haddaway Halgrath happy hardcore hard house hard rock hard trance hardcore Hardfloor hardstyle Harmless Harmonic 33 Harold Budd Harthouse Harthouse Mannheim Hawtin Hearts Of Space Hed Kandi Hell Hercules And Love Affair Hernán Cattáneo Hi-Bias Records Hic Sunt Leones Hiero Emperium Hieroglyphics High Contrast Higher Intelligence Agency hip-hop hip-house hipno Hooj Choons Hope Records horrorcore Hospital Records Hot Chip Hotflush Recordings house Huey Lewis & The News Human Blue Hybrid Leisureland Hyperdub Hypertrophy hypnotic records I Awake I.F.O.R. I.R.S. Records Iboga Records Ice Cube Ice H2o Records ICE MC IDM illbient Imperial Dancefloor Imploded View In Charge In Trance We Trust Incoming Incubus indie rock Industrial Infected Mushroom Infinite Guitar influence records Infonet Insane Clown Posse Inspectah Deck Instinct Ambient Instra-Mental Inter-Modo Interchill Records Internal International Deejays Gigolo Interscope Records Intimate Productions Intuition Recordings ISBA Music Entertainment Ishkur Island Records Italians Do It Better italo disco italo house Jack Moss Jam and Spoon Jam El Mar James Horner James Zabiela Jamie Jones Jamie Myerson Jamie Principle Javelin Ltd. Jay Haze Jay Tripwire Jaydee jazz jazz dance jazzstep Jean-Michel Jarre Jefferson Airplane Jerry Goldsmith Jesper Dahlbäck Jive Jive Electro Jliat Jlin Joel Mull Joey Beltram John '00' Fleming John Digweed John Graham John Kelly John O'Callaghan Johnny Cash Johnny Jewel Jonny L Jori Hulkkonen Jørn Stenzel Josh Wink Journeys By DJ™ LLC Joyful Noise Recordings Juan Atkins juke Jump Cut Jumpin' & Pumpin' jungle Junior Boy's Own Junkie XL Juno Reactor Jurassic 5 Kay Wilder KDJ Ken Ishii Kenji Kawai Kenny Glasgow Keoki Keosz Kerri Chandler Kevin Braheny Kevorkian Records Khooman Kid Koala Kiko Kinetic Records King Cannibal King Midas Sound King Tubby Kitaro Klang Elektronik Klaus Schulze Koch Records Koichi Sugiyama Komakino Kompakt Kon Kan Kool Keith Kozo Kraftwelt Kraftwerk Krafty Kuts krautrock Krill.Minima Kris O'Neil Kriztal Kruder and Dorfmeister Krusseldorf KuckKuck Kurupt L.S.G. Lab 4 Ladytron Lafleche Lange Large Records Lars Leonhard Laserlight Digital LateNightTales Latin Laurent Garnier LCD Soundsystem Leama and Moor Lee 'Scratch' Perry Lee Norris Leftfield Legacy Leon Bolier Linear Labs Lingua Lustra liquid funk Liquid Sound Design Liquid Stranger Live live album Loco Dice Lodsb London acid crew London Classics London Elektricity London Records 90 Ltd London-Sire Records Loop Guru Loreena McKennitt Lorenzo Montanà Lost Language Loud Records Loverboy Luaka Bop Luciano Luke Slater M_nus M.A.N.D.Y. M.I.K.E. Madonna Magda Mali Mammoth Records Marc Simz Marcel Dettmann Marco Carola Marco V Mark Farina Mark Norman Mark Pritchard Markus Schulz Marshmello Martin Cooper Martin Nonstatic Märtini Brös Marvin Gaye Maschine Massive Attack Masta Killa Matthew Dear Max Graham maximal Maxx MCA Records McProg Meanwhile Meat Loaf Meditronica Menno de Jong Mercury Mesmobeat metal Method Man Metroplex Metropolis Miami Bass Miami Dub Machine Michael Brook Michael Jackson Michael Mayer Mick Chillage micro-house microfunk Microscopics MIG Miguel Migs Mike Saint-Jules Mike Shiver Miktek Mille Plateaux Millennium Records Mind Distortion System Mind Over MIDI mini-CDs minimal minimal tech-house Ministry Of Sound miscellaneous Misja Helsloot Miss Kittin Miss Moneypenny's Mixmag Mo Wax Moby Model 500 modern classical Moist Music Moodymann Moonshine Moss Garden Motech Moving Shadow Mujaji Murmur Music link Music Man Records musique concrete Mutant Sound System Mute Muzik Magazine My Best Friend N-Trance Nacht Plank Nadia Ali Nas Nature Sounds Naughty By Nature Nebula Neil Young Neotropic nerdcore Nettwerk Neurobiotic Records New Age New Jack Swing new wave Nic Fanciulli Nick Höppner Nimanty Nine Inch Nails Ninja Tune Nirvana No Mask Effect Nobuo Uematsu Nomad Nonesuch Nonplus Records Nookie Nordic Trax Norman Feller Northumbria Nothing Records NovaMute NRG Ntone nu-jazz nu-skool Nuclear Blast Entertainment Nulll Nurse With Wound NXP Octagen Offshoot Ol' Dirty Bastard old school rave Ole Højer Hansen Olga Musik Olien Oliver Lieb Olsen Omni Trio Omnimotion Omnisonus One Little Indian Oosh Open Canvas Opus III orchestral Original TranceCritic review Ornament Ostgut Ton Ott Ouragan OutKast Overdream Pantera Pantha Du Prince Paolo Mojo Parlaphone Paul Moelands Paul Oakenfold Paul van Dyk Perfect Stranger Perfecto Perturbator Pet Shop Boys Petar Dundov Pete Namlook Pete Tong Peter Benisch Peter Gabriel Peter Tosh Photek Phutureprimitive Phynn PIAS Recordings Pink Floyd PJ Harvey Planet Dog Planet Earth Recordings Planet Mu Planetary Consciousness Plastic City Plastikman Platipus Plump DJs PM Dawn Poker Flat Recordings politics Polydor Polytel pop Popular Records Porya Hatami post-dubstep Prince Prins Thomas Priority Records prog prog psy Progression progressive breaks progressive house progressive rock progressive trance Prolifica Proper Records Prototype Recordings protoU Pryda psy chill psy dub Psy Spy Records psy trance psy-chill psy-dub psychedelia Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia Psychonavigation Psychonavigation Records Psycoholic Psykosonik Public Enemy punk punk rock Pureuphoria Records Purl Push PWL International Quadrophonia Quality Quango Quinlan Road R & S Records R'n'B R&B Rabbit In The Moon Radio Slave Radioactive Radioactive Man Radiohead Raekwon Ralph Lawson RAM Records Randal Collier-Ford Random Review Rank 1 rant RareNoise Records Rascalz Raster-Noton Ratatat Raum Records RCA React Red Jerry reggae remixes Renaissance Reprise Records Resist Music Restless Records Rhino Records Rhys Fulber Ricardo Villalobos Riley Reinhold Rising High Records RnB Roadrunner Records Robert Miles Robert Oleysyck Roc Raida rock rock opera rockabilly rocktronica Roger Sanchez ROIR Rollo Rough Trade Rub-N-Tug Rumour Records Running Back Ruthless Records RZA S.E.T.I. Sabled Sun Salt Tank Salted Music Salvation Music Samim sampling Sanctuary Records Sander van Doorn Sandoz Sarah McLachlan Sash Sasha Scandinavian Records sci-fi Scott Hardkiss Scott Stubbs Scuba Seán Quinn Segue Sense Sentimony Records Sequential Seraphim Rytm Setrise Shaded Explorer Shadow Records Sharam Shawn Francis shoegaze Si Matthews SideOneDummy Records Signature Records SiJ Silent Season silly gimmicks Simon Berry Simon Heath Simon Posford Simple Records Sinden single Sire Records Company Six Degrees Sixeleven Records ska Skin To Skin Slinky Music Sly and Robbie Smalltown Supersound SME Visual Works Inc. Snap Sneijder Snoop Dogg Solar Fields Solaris Recordings Solarstone Solieb Soliquid Solstice Music Europe Soma Quality Recordings Songbird Sony Music Entertainment soul Soul Temple Entertainment Souls Of Mischief Sound Of Ceres Soundgarden Sounds From The Ground soundtrack southern rap southern rock space ambient Space Dimension Controller Space Manoeuvres space music space synth Spank Rock Special D speed garage Speedy J Spicelab spoken word Spotify Suggestions SPX Digital Squarepusher Squaresoft Stanton Warriors Star Trek Stardust Statrax Stay Up Forever Stephanie B Stephen Kroos Steve Angello Steve Miller Band Steve Porter Stijn van Cauter Stone Temple Pilots Stonebridge Stray Gators Street Fighter Studio K7 Stylophonic Sub Focus Sublime Sublime Porte Netlabel Substance Sun Station Sunbeam Sunday Best Recordings Superstition surf rock Sven Väth Swayzak Switch Sylk 130 Symmetry Sync24 Synergy Synkro synth pop synthwave System 7 Tactic Records Tall Paul Tammy Wynette Tangerine Dream Tau Ceti Tayo tech-house tech-step tech-trance Technical Itch techno technobass Technoboy Tectonic Terminal Antwerp Terra Ferma Terry Lee Brown Jr Textere Oris The Beach Boys The Beatles The Black Dog The Brian Jonestown Massacre The Bug The Chemical Brothers The Clash The Council The Cranberries The Digital Blonde The Dust Brothers The Glimmers The Grey Area The Hacker The Human League The Irresistible Force The KLF The Misted Muppet The Movement The Music Cartel The Null Corporation The Offspring The Orb The Police The Prodigy The Shamen The Sharp Boys The Sonic Voyagers The Squires The Tea Party The Tragically Hip The Velvet Underground The Wailers The White Stripes themes Thievery Corporation Third Contact Thrive Records Tiefschwarz Tiësto Tiga Tiger & Woods Time Warp Timecode Tobias Todd Terje Tom Middleton Tomita Tommy Boy Ton T.B. Tone Depth Tony Anderson Sound Orchestra Tool Topaz Tosca Toto Touch Tourette Records trance Trancelucent Tranquillo Records Trans'Pact Transformers Transient Records trap Trax Records Trend Trentemøller Tresor tribal Tricky Triloka Records trip-hop Trishula Records Troum Tuff Gong Tunnel Records Turbo Recordings turntablism TUU TVT Records Twisted Records Type O Negative U-God U2 Überzone Ugasanie UK acid house UK Garage Ultimae Ultra Records Umbra Underworld Union Jack United Dairies United DJs Of America Universal Music Upstream Records Urban Icon Records V2 Vagrant Records Valley Of The Sun Vangelis Vap Vector Lovers Venetian Snares Venonza Records Verve Records VGM Vice Records Victor Calderone Vince DiCola Virgin Virtual Vault Virus Recordings Visionquest Vitalic vocal trance Wagram Music Warp Records Warren G Water Music Dance Waveform Records Wax Trax Records WEA Weekly Mini-Review White Swan Records William Orbit Willie Nelson world beat world music writing reflections Wu-Tang Clan Wyatt Keusch XL Recordings Yello Yes Youth Youtube Yul Records Zenith ZerO One Zoo Entertainment Zyron ZYX Music µ-Ziq