Sunday, 2 May 2010

Reviewing Kontext

Russian producer Kontext's new album 'Dissociate' for Immerse builds on the promise of his early releases for the same label and delivers some inspiring and dark techno/dubstep material. Consisting of six new and four previously released tracks, the album is underpinned by a uniquely atmospheric sound seemingly inspired by Kontext's St Petersburg hometown.
Album opener 'Impossible Being' sounds like Nathan Fake or James Holden jamming with Martyn; blippy, squelching, with swirling clouds of synths underpinned by stuttering broken beats. 'Bilingualism' and 'Aerial Monarch Attacks' explore the edges of dubstep and techno; in the first, spoken word combines with dripping sounds, layers of atmosphere are added before a simple melodic line reaches out. The scurrying 'Clinch' and the previously released 'Hometown Swamp' up the pace, before the blissful 'Searching for the Transcendental' wraps the listener in waves of cotton wool synths. Further on into the album is 'Plumes', a track underpinned by a lethargic and bass laden 4/4 beat, drawing from the classic experimental techno of Basic Channel. Final track 'On the Bottom of the Glass' is a beatless piece of electronica that uses discovered sounds and liquid textures to create a spacious and ethereal final piece.
Kontext's 'Dissociate' cements his place as one of the most exciting exponents of dark, experimental dubstep that fans of T++, Monolake or Shackleton should keep an eye on. This album sees Kontext exploring techno, dubstep, drum and bass and electronica within the boundaries of his densely atmospheric sound, combining rolling techno influences with syncopated rhythmic experimentation. For anyone who enjoyed this album, Kontext has recently released two mixes that are well worth a listen; firstly is a mix for that includes Fluxion, Plastikman, BVDub and Pole, and a second pure dubstep mix for Electronic Explorations.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Sneaking around with Cool House

Cool House's recent Birthday bash review with DJ Sneak is online on RA, check it out here.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Spring Oblique Mix 2010

From new to old to new. Peter Van Hosen to Robert Hood.

Track-list to follow.

march mix 2010

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Robert Hood - Alpha / Omega (End Times), M-Plant

As the mist gathers density outside my window, the resolution of the world is reduced to a few essences of form. It seems somehow fitting that at this present moment, when I think I ought to have written something new for the Angle, that this visual reduction coincides with a remembrance of what minimal means to dance music. It's not bleeps, clicks and hisses repeated and looped in an endless layering of tired repetition. It's something more machinic. More reduced, yet so much more expanded.

Robert Hood's latest release on M-Plant Alpha launches into a unremittingly tough four-four beat. It holds this just slightly too long before snapping the synaptic response into gear with a tough clap and a gradually emerging, tightly looped, stuttering and analogue sounding clipped snare. Then it comes. The simplest, most basic high-hat cascades down on the beat and envelopes everything in a euphoric moment that is the sound of Ford's demise. The sound of the Motor City gone wrong. And this - this is the reduction.

The mist grows thicker. It's fog now and all I can see are the spherical glows of the street lamps. The form of light and technology. The minimalism of the city at night - reduced to it's essential format: Electricity, material and space. This is techno. This is minimal. 8 minutes 42 seconds. This is Robert Hood.

Omega (End Times) is destructive. A futurist-dystopian vision of decaying production lines and the repo-man. Toxic-debt amassing and Devil's Night hallucinations - Omega sounds like the hymn for a post-post-industrial, neo-apocalyptic city scape of empty chances and departed dreams. Equally, if not more, relentless in its pursuit of the absolute zero of Detroit-minimalism than Alpha, the cataclysm that is predicted in this track is epically dark. Spartan, stunningly-repetive and with a palette limited to four distinct sounds that are gradually modified and machined to a self-destructive peak, this piece of entropic programming goes nowhere. There's no redemption, only an onward march of unstoppable technology replicating itself ad-infinitum, resisted only through the homeopathic application of the same to cure the ill.


Saturday, 13 March 2010

Pre-album teasers

2010 is going to see albums released by two of the most exciting techno talents to have emerged in the past few years. Between them, Peter Van Hoesen and Marcel Dettmann have shaped their own unique sounds: One Berlin, one Belgium. One cavernous dynamics, one reverberant, burbling basslines. Both looking backwards for inspiration while driving forward, forging their own take on classic sounds.

Dettmann's album taster, 'Dettmann Remixed', consists of four tracks from the depths of the Dettmann archives, dusted down and remixed by Bergain resident Norman Nodge and new talent Wincent Kunth. Nodge's stark remixes of 'Shift' and 'Unrest' combine his instantly recognisable raw industrial sound with Dettmann's drive. Meanwhile, the debut of the Swiss Wincent Kunth adds a lush depth and hint of melody that I find lacking in Dettmann's releases; on Vertigo, a wandering baseline dissolves into Detroit styles synths, while 'Wound Up', the more potent of the two tracks, wouldn't sound out of place as an EQD release. This brave move by Ostgut to introduce a new talent of such a high profile release pays dividends, introducing a new and highly successful take on Dettmann's trademark sound.

Van Hoesen has had a busy year to date, providing mnml ssgs with a sublime session for their 50th mix, releasing a free EP of remixes and album taster 'Entropic Minus Six'. The latter has recently been reviewed positively by Richard Brophy on RA, while the free 'Variable Parts' EP is for me the more intriguing of the two releases. Reworking two album tracks, the devastating 'Face of Smoke' and new ambient track 'Second Law', this release shows a more experimental side to Van Hoesen's sound. The Casual Reconstruction of 'Face of Smoke' drops the tempo of the original and produces a deeply atmospheric version with a similar sound to Prologue Records or some of Donato Dozzy's releases. The original's synthline struggles to emerge from foggy, heaving soundscapes, before being overcome and sinking without trace.

Album tracks 'Strip It Boost It' and 'Terminal' get reworked in a similar style. The Markov Layout of 'Terminal' converts the dettmann-esque orignal into a less insistent but more layered composition, again building a strong sense of atmosphere throughout. 'Strip It Boost It' Entropic Dub stays true to the original but removes the riff to create a driving percussive rework. Final track 'Second Skin' creates a melancholy and haunting soundscape that could be a lost Mika Vainio number, layering scratching, hissing white noise with hints of life surfacing from the gloom.

So all in all two excellent EP's that are a mouthwatering taster for the albums dropping soon. For a taster of PVH's 'Entropic City', previews are online at the Entropic City mini-site, with the album due to drop on the 22nd, while the self-titled 'Dettmann' will be launched at Berghain on 24th April with Shed and Ben Klock providing support.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Reviewing in the Big Smoke

Sorry for the lack of blog action recently, we're both a little busy with work/study at the moment. As I've got a few minutes, i thought I'd post a couple of links to RA reviews Ed wrote following a recent outing to Londontown. First up, a review of Ben Klock, Steffi, Lee Curtiss, Jamie Jones @ Fabric, read it here. Following that almighty knees up, our intrepid reviewer dashed to Cable to catch Konrad Black, Geddes, Ali Kuru and Rossko play at Found afterhours- read about that here.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Oblique Mid-Winter

Oblique mid winter feb 10 by mj_oblique

A new deep and dark mix from Oblique- a mix of dubstep and techno I've been enjoying over the winter. I have to say, this is perhaps the darkest mix I've recorded- the bleakness of this one scared me a little when I listened to it!

As ever, feed back more than welcome, I'll post a tracklist in a few days.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

From music to mosaic

parkour motion reel from saggyarmpit on Vimeo.

Now for something a little different... a superb piece of traditional animation- found on the blog of clothing label Droneboy Laundry. I can't imagine how long this must have taken to plan!

Friday, 5 February 2010

A Friday Mix Up

I've not posted much in the way of mixes for a while, but there's some good stuff around at the moment that I feel it's my duty to share. I'm really enjoying much deeper sounds recently, and these mixes have been particularly suited to my recent trip to the snowy Alps. As usual, a mixed bag of genres and artists- several new mixes from OA favourites, and a few new faces as well:

Ryan Elliott Presents "Marking Measures" by user495866

This first mix by Ryan Elliot is a deep house and techno mix that gradually moves from the lovely Detroit house of Delano Smith's 'This Heart' through a trio of Rick Wade tracks into deep melodic techno with Technasia, Dettmann, DVS1 and Robert Hood. A superb mix that builds nicely.

Sigha Breezeblock mix by Sigha

Sigha apparently played a really dark early doors techno set at Colony's Christmas bash, and if it was anything like this mix it would have been fantastic. Properly moody, almost industrial techno that wouldn't sound out of place on the Berghain floor, combined with a dubstepper's swing.


Running with the Colony theme, this is the seventh mix in their resident's series, mixed by MB who was recently featured in Random Circuits' Random Residency. The mix has a great sense of atmosphere and manages to combine dubstep, techno, drone and d&b into a flowing two hours. For me the first half hour is the standout with some of my recent favourites from Sigha, Scuba and Shackleton's superb Moderat remix. If anyone was looking for nights pushing the dubstep/techno boundaries right now, I'd highly recommend checking Colony out.

Thirdly, a new mix from OA favourite SMA. As usual, 'All the Time' is a finely tuned mix of deep house and techno. While some of SMA's mixes focus more on smooth deep house, this one starts really slowly, deep, deep in the groove, mixing some new cuts and some old from Larry Heard, Prosumer, Vladislav Delay and Tobias Freund. Flippin' gorgeous throughout- SMA proves he is a superb selector.

Finally I can't finish without mentioning Neel's Sunday Sounds mix for Mnml Ssgs- although I'm sure most people will be aware of this blog and this mix, It's such a fantastic set that I feel the need to point it out. A really warm, mellow mix, great selection and well mixed.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

WAX Launches this week!

This Saturday sees the launch of Wax, a deep house night at the Cardiff Arts Institute. We'll be there alongside Kit Grill of the excellent Vessel Music (the Nick Hoppner mix on the site is fantastic) and the cream of the South Wales deep house community. I'm really looking forward to this, it's a chance to play a really deep set that's a bit different to the usual techno at Oblique.
To get people in the mood here's a couple of super deep offerings from those involved. First up a mix by Owain K that includes some nice deep vibes from Cheap and Deep, Soul Minority, Carl Craig, Levon Vincent and Owain himself:

Owain K - Club Wax Mix by owaink

Finally, Swansea's Hot Property has posted this promo mix on the Wax Facebook page, which sounds great, a real mix of deeper flavours from MCDE to Tensnake to Andy Vaz:

1. Mark E – Slave 1 (running back)
2. 6th borough project – Miss world (oof...t remix)
3. Ooft – sound (instruments of rapture)
4. Tensnake – Holding back (running back)
5. Motor city drum ensemble – Raw cuts 3 (mcde)
6. Sebo K & Metro – Saxtrack
7. Dicowboys – To the mountain top/ Two armadillos remix (dessous)
8. Andy Vaz – Hurry, hurry remix/ Rick Wade remix (yore)
9. Flora Cruz – Let the sunshine out (Ibadan)
10. Sound stream – Dance with me
11. Eddy meets Yannah – Solid ground/ Crazy P remix (compost)
12. April March – Attention Cherie/ Ashley Beedle’s heavy disco mix (out hear audio)
13. Marcello Giordani – Respect yourself/ dj naughty remix (mule musiq)
14. Hercules and love affair – Blind/ Frankie Knuckles dub (dfa)

That's all for now, hope to see you there!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Monolake Interviewed

The Wire has posted a full version of Derek Walmsley's interview with Monolake which is an excellent read, covering a huge range of topics: Monolake's involvement with Ableton, his live performances, Monolake Surround Sound, his approach to the hardware v software debate, working with visual artists, and a hell of a lot more. It's an interesting peek into the mind of a master, I'd highly recommend it. A lot of food for thought....

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Reagenz : Lunar Landing Live

reagenz - lunar landing live by Move D

The past couple of weeks have seen Cardiff blanketed under varying amounts of snow. An unusual occurrence for the city, snowfall and freezing temperatures have made travel treacherous. Living close the the city, I've unfortunately not got out of work, but every cloud has a silver lining- I've meandered the quieter than usual route to the office every morning and enjoyed this uncommon weather. A landscape blanketed in snow an amazing sight- all detail is obscured and only the most elemental features of the landscape remain- the rise and fall of the land, the line of a wall, the height of the trees. I think this unique sight (I can't remember this much snow in Cardiff, and I've lived here for ten years) requires a unique soundtrack, and I think I've found just the thing.

Reagenz aka Move D and Jonah Sharp recorded a live set in Heidelberg in July to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the lunar landing. Punctuated by warped excerpts from the landing sequence, the live set features a mix of new and old Reagenz material. Now the parallel between the moon landing and a snowy landscape may seem obvious-snow is white, so are the images you see of the moon's surface. Footsteps have more potency on the moon and in fresh snow. But, what appealed to me about the mix is the careful way in which sounds build and the delicately constructed sense of drama that runs throughout. Snow is about drama. Snow dances and plays as it falls. And this is the feeling I get from this mix- sounds emerge from a fog of ambient atmospherics before being dragged back into swirling clouds, creating a strong sense of tension and release throughout the mix. It's almost like being in the midst of a blizzard (and several times me and this mix have been). After about an hour, a meandering baseline changes the mood, stepping the mix up a gear. The last twenty minutes see the mix peak in luscious deep house, finishing with a menacing track taken from their recent Workshop release. Finally, the mix dissolves into Neil Armstrong saying those famous words to finish the mix.

All in all, inspiring stuff from Johan and David, a beautiful and sensitive concept mix and one that has fitted my experience of the world perfectly over the past week. If I was taking my first steps on the moon, or equally my first steps into a snowy Cardiff, I'd want this to be my soundtrack. Enjoy.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Colonising the Capital
Colony Christmas Party

The Rhythm Factory, London, December 19 2009
Kevin Gorman
Millie and Andrea

If the past year has proved anything, it’s the truth behind the old axiom: big is not necessarily beautiful. Systems and structures of a super-scale have visibly crumbled, supported only by injections of non-existent cash.  The capital of the consumer society has been pummelled hard, and currently sits under a blanket of snow. London is a dirty old whore of a city (certainly big, and with a decidedly ambiguous relationship to beauty). But, beneath the skin of this heaving metropolis, behind the thick matt of commercial mediocrity, lie some small, but perfectly formed set-ups. And this is where things are currently thriving, proving resilient to the ‘bottom-line’ mentality of the late-capitalist machine. You see, here, profit is defined in terms that are not singularly monetary. Profit is pleasure. Profit is release, abandon, and that indefinable thing that is a ‘fucking good party’. And, as we at Oblique well know, margins (in singular ‘cost’ terms) are tiny. But success isn’t defined by the total of the balance books. It’s defined by something else, something intangible but equally, if not more important: Fun. Happiness. People dancing, smiling and sometimes finding something new. So, in this time of mean-spirited cost-counting, thank God for guys like Lost Souls, and Colony - whose events over the past year have seen some of the leading lights of underground electronic music brought to the Capital. And what better a way for Colony to end the year and fill the bank account with an over-abundance of cultural-capital, than with Kevin Gorman, Sigha, Millie and Andrea and Ben UFO – a line-up that reads like a room at Free Rotation?

The Rhythm Factory, a great venue on Whitechapel Road in East London, felt like a return to Berlin for me: simple, unadorned and with a relaxed atmosphere helped by the cafĂ©/bar style room fronting the street and with a fittingly uncompromising and decidedly chilly bouncer (it’s part of going to a nightclub… why should they be friendly?). Arriving around twelve, just in time to hear the end of MB’s set, the place took a while to warm-up, not helped by the altogether appalling weather and mini-snow storm that blew across the city. However, by the end of Sigha’s set (a tough, deep and unrelenting mix of straight-up techno) the club was getting into its groove and settling in for Gorman’s live-set. Marred only by a slight technical hitch halfway in (seems even a Mac can’t be trusted 100% of the time), Gorman played a string of reworked tracks into a stunningly executed hour and a half of contiguous music. Fast, clinical and simultaneously groovy, The Rhythm Factory was, by this time, getting on with the task in hand and the clearly appreciative crowd had swelled to fill the dance floor towards the end of his set. This, however, was the time I had to make my departure. The bleak weather, combined with the fact that the night bus journey would take around two hours, forced my hand and it was with heavy heart that I left a party that felt like it had really started to get going.

What Colony are doing (and, I sincerely hope, continue to do so), is provide a community feel within a city that has so much in the way of talent and potential but that suffers through the city’s high-prices. Outfits like Colony have defined the parameters of their ‘profit motives’ in a way, however, that outsmarts the restrictions of London: they obviously care about the music, the atmosphere and the nature of the ‘party’ and weight these factors far above the bottom line.

Sorry if this review has seemed like a small exercise in economic reappraisal. But it’s just that if there is one thing that is called for, and that I believe to be of critical importance to the future of this genre of music in a landscape of commercial behemoths, then it’s the judging of success based not on cash-outputs. And that’s where Colony are doing something important, something with integrity. Here’s to more colonisation.