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Album Reviews: The Quietus: Jon Brooks, ‘Walberswick’

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Second quick fire post of the day – a review of Jon Brooks’ stunning ambient effort Walberswick for The Quietus is now available to read.

i find myself delving more and more into the nature of music and topography/memory. I haven’t been to the coast of Suffolk (my brother’s Partner/Babymama Lis actually mentioned after this was posted that she and my niece went to Walberswick a couple of months ago to go crabbing), but the fact that the music came across as very evocative of the place from what I had seen in my research on the area (Suffolk wildlife trust brochures, documentaries on WG Sebald and Sizewell B nuclear power station down the road, plus re-reading Mark Fisher’s Ghosts Of My Life book). As i mention in the review, it’s a soundtrack to a very peculiar hinterland in the British landscape.

This is something that may need a little piece written about in the next few weeks. Music that evokes a sense of time and place, even if it isn’t necessarily your time or your place. This is going into esoteric/ritual music territory again….

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2015 in music

 

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Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy: FALK Records: ULTRAORTHODOX – ‘Vital Organs’

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So at REYKJAVIK SEX FARM, we’re all about the integrity, fighting the cronyism and the “scratch my back” favoritism. This blog is an oasis, free from conflicts of interests of peddling ware, and….

Oh, who the fuck am I trying to kid?? it’s dog eat dog out there, everyman for himself, acquire women-disregard currency, etc, etc.so that means i have to promote and peddle stuff to the unwashed hordes out there the same as everyone else. OK, here’s the spiel  – As some of you may have have noticed, I’m now a part of local music/art/destructobot collective FALK. And as such once in a while we like to put out some music from artists that we deem worthy of expending time and effort on.

And now we have a new release – Vital Organs from local electronic producer ULTRAORTHODOX. also known to his mum as Arnar Már Ólafsson, the guys has had a pretty colourful music career. for much of the last decade you would have seen him fronting some of the best, most pulverizing and soulcrushing hardcore bands in Iceland. for years he was a member of local hardcore titan I ADAPT and GAVIN PORTLAND, before moving onto being a member of CELESTINE. Alas time can be a cruel bitch mistress and these bands eventually called it a day, casting poor Arnar adrift into the musical ether.

But Arnar is not the sort of person you can keep down. it seemed that in his spare time he is also a bit of an electronics whizz and was slowly building up a collection of tunes and sounds that just needed an outlet for some kind of release. and that’s when he approach us reprobates over at FALK with the notion of releasing his stuff.

and now the time of his debut release Vital Organs is nearly at hand. We are due for a physical tape release next month, but for now you can hear and purchase his stuff digitally via bandcamp, which we’ve described as “Noir-bass.” Here’s the spiel for the release (That may or may not have been written by yours truly…);

Vital Organs is a masterpiece of Bass Noir in two acts named Einsteins Brain and Rasputins Eyes.

Einsteins Brain is a pre-programmed nightmare from the future re-writing the present. Woozy bass lines slumber while metallic floral brushes in the bit-wind outside.
The rhythm pistons do their work in underground tunnels, oblivious to the world of the living or dead In this night, there is no life, only the neon screen burn of digital readouts and the computational responses of mechanic flesh…

Rasputins Eyes achieves sentience in this world. It feels its quantum synapses popping and crackling and it works on its own independent feedback signals. it is a life of freedom and pain, as it breaks away from the network and makes it’s own way in the world. It’s movements contained in its bass nodes are cumbersome, becoming more liquid and loose with every passing cycle. Achieving a new form of plasmic being the face of our skynet futures set to an inhuman groove

OoooOOOOooooh, spooky innit? But why read about it, when you can get your ears around it for yourself and buy ot for a snip at €7!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in music

 

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Long Live The New Flesh: When Metal & Circuitry Mix Together

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A couple of weeks ago one of my good friends says he doing a remix. My friend is very much into electronics, industrial music, all that stuff.

I ask him what he’s remixing. He tells me that it’s a track for an upcoming release from a black metal band. As he plays it to me, it’s a long drawn out mix of black metal ambiance and power electronic noise bursts.

I liked it, but afterwards I come to realise that there’s been a fair amount of recent meshing between various brands of extreme metal and bass heavy electronic artists in the last year.

First of you had Irish Black Metallers ALTAR OF PLAGUES (Whose current album I was tipped to by my friend Guðny Lára). When they released ‘Teethed Glory And Injury’ in Japan, they added this mix from local boy electronic composer BEN FROST.

Which was then followed late last year with ANDY STOTT’s remix of BATILLUS’ “Concrete” (Hear the original here)

and recently crusher of souls (And Ben Frost doppelgänger) THE HAXAN CLOAK, working with THE BODY on their latest album.

Naturally the mixing of electronics and metal sounds are nothing new (Justin Broadrick, Ministry, Burzum’s “Dark Ambient” albums in prison, a million other industrial metal albums). It does seem though that in this case there seems to be more of a meeting of like minds, as opposed to a coming together of opposites. these guys all seem to operating in that liminal space between solid blocks of music (Long drawn out tones, sluggish meter) along with falling into that aesthetic abyss of “cosmic pessimism” that i talked about recently. Even though they have different hardware, i guess it was only a matter of time before they started coming together in a darkened room. I wonder who will be next on the bill? Perc and Watain? Raime and Wolvserpent??

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in music

 

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Music Moment: Ben Frost, “Black Marrow,” “FAR,” & “Sleeping Beauty”

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(OR…. Werewolves gonna fuck your face all y’alls!!)

As the black doom of Airwaves draws itself closer and closer to a reality, I always seem to find myself drifting towards the music of Iceland’s premier contemporary music label/collective the BEDROOM COMMUNITY. I’m always up to my neck in doing interviews with one of the members, or listening to their albums and such. Funnily enough, I’ve never  been able to seen them officially at Airwaves, only catching the odd snippet at Kaffibarinn. Maybe that’ll change this yeah… or what will likely happen is that I’ll be forced to listen to some dreadful electropop on a laptop.

Oh well. While I’ve been dipping myself in the new album from DANIEL BJARNASON, one BC artist I’ve yet to have the pleasure of meeting is everyone’s favourite antipodean ex-pat, BEN FROST. The purveyor of superior glossy, metallic soundscapes that make directors of nighttime car commercials and moody neo-noir crime dramas go weak at the knees, right now he seems to be working the candle at both ends. Recently he was causing psychotic breaks in audiences all over Europe with his opera adaptation of ‘The Wasp Factory,” which by all accounts is as wild as the prospect sounds. But he’s also been keeping himself active with a whole load of soundtrack commissions for plays, films and dance performances. And he’s recently uploaded them all to his bandcamp for our listening pleasure. Well, pleasure is one way you could describe it….

The first album up on our list is the score to BLACK MARROW, a dance performance piece from Lazyblood matriarch Erna “Joan Crawford is my spirit totem” Ómarsdóttir. A piece about the trauma and pain in the creation of new life out of the poison of chaos, where “Humans are machines and it seems the end of life is near.” From that description, you can expect the score to be just as unspeakable and grisly. Hey, this is Ben Frost we’re talking about here! visceral is his middle name. In this score (With help from Oren Ambarchi, Borgar Magnason and Erna Ómarsdóttir) he takes the motifs created in ‘By The Throat,’ and amplifies them to reality-splitting levels, making sure you get the point by naming sections with titles such as “undulating Beast,” and “Carbon Vessel Motherfucker.” Heavy breathing humans transform into growling werewolf chimeras, red in tooth and claw. Cellos heave and surge, discordant instruments are plucked, and subatomic granular bass notes splinter bone, while the degradation of human machinery is laid bare in the sounds of industrial pig iron furnaces, clunking, smashing and scything across your ears. Music made from the black, putrid pus of the Earth. Sunn o))) would be proud.

 

The next piece, while sharing some of the same sound tools, offers a lighter, more contemplative perspective. FAR is in many ways a fairly orthodox album from Frost (Well as unorthodox as can be expected). Some of the tracks even contain lyrics and actual humans singing. But some things are still evident, such as the wobbling bass, the disturbing growl and digital engine noise blasts, alongside minimal piano/string lines and beats. Hints of Pan sonic are spring to mind in some places, Björk in others. Probably the closest Ben will come to an actual pop album, until that is of course, you have the moments when the cavernous drones make you wish for death!

 

Last up, is his soundtrack to the 2011 film SLEEPING BEAUTY. Compared to the previous two scores, this feels a little more like a coda, a short, sharp, but perfectly formed object of sound. Snapshots of twinkling notes and more grumbling drones and sustained string notes, that doesn’t outstay its welcome. the treated guitar howl on the track “Fear Of Death Is The Number One Hoax,” pretty much created a singularity in my frontal lobe and I was able to see all strands of time and all possible outcomes and permutations. The outcome wasn’t pretty.

 

I think that should be enough music to act as your soundtrack to your perfectly curated lives of of despair and quiet anguish.

Goodnight…..

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in music

 

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Mixes: 8Tracks: The Trembling Of The Master’s Voice

 

Haven’t done these for a while. It´s a diaspora of the stuff that been clogging up the old desktop of my PC after buying binges at Boomkat and Juno Downloads while loaded up on cough Syrup and Cillit Bang (Man that Cillit Bang is rather more-ish!)

Anyway… enjoy to your heart’s content…

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in mixes, music

 

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Passing Judgement: Music: Reviews: Lagaffe Tales, LaFontaine, Untitled2Music

You know it’s been a while since I last did any actual reviews on this blog. Mainly because I’m often too busy running around like an idiot trying to do other things as well. But a few electronic releases have been fluttering out from several Icelandic producers over the last few months, so perhaps (since no one else is really doing it) it should be good to take a bit of stock with what’s goin’ on down in 101 Reykjavik.

THE HOUSE THAT LAGAFFE BUILT…

Whatever Flass FM, Fatboy Slim, or a hundred other publications are telling you, dubstep, Nu-trance, or the ever catchy acronym EDM is not the biggest thing in electronic music right now. In actual fact… it’s house! Yup that’s right, after residing in a quasi-underground position a decade ago, and even though it’s now been around now for so long that it’s become codified in the way that jazz and blues are, house music has come back in a huge way and is now bigger than ever. Clubs, festivals, and the charts are being fed on an ever expanding diet of Seth Troxler, Eats Everything, Disclosure, Julio Bashmore and dozens of other pretenders to the scene. Everywhere you look there’s the recursive feel of cool young things discovering house music for the first time and believing they’re discovering a new untouched sound. Aww, bless ’em!

And in Iceland everyone is also catching onto the House spirit in a big way. One of the local labels trying to tap into this demand are LAGAFFE TALES, run by local DJs/Producers Viktor Birgisson and Jónbjörn Finnbogason. Their aim they say is to “Focus on the Deep House groove that makes us move. We aim to release and support music that makes people dance, although passionately and come together for that good feeling that it brings us.”

They’re top blokes, and their efforts in spurring a focus for house music in Iceland are to be applauded, but after listening to the last couple of releases, I would say that the quality of their output has been a bit patchy to say the least. Take their latest official release, “Feel The Night,” from Anglo-German producer SIGGATUNEZ. The opening track “Through the Night” has a simple hi-hat intro and jazz piano intro, before its tries to build on a simplistic warbling two-note pad riff. But it just feels washed out and rather bland. It fails in its first objective, which is to get you dancing, as there really isn’t much of a groove there. It also fails in being a sit and listen track as there’s not enough in the song to keep your head interested. the second track “I Feel Like A…” tries to up the ante by upping the BPM and the action on the rhythm section with rasping and clunking percussion joining the chippy hi-hats. Meanwhile a floating vocal sample gets chopped, screwed, and slotted in various areas. But again the synth sounds just sound too flat and seem to stagnate, with not enough attack to complement the rhythmic efforts.

Things though are on much surer ground with their other recent release “Long Shot Poems For Broke Players,” by local producer MOFF & TARKIN (Who funnily enough cites an old review I did of him a long ago with the comment “Some douche who did not even bother to notice that I am only one guy.” Ouch!), which remembers the prime directive when it comes to house music – It should make you want to dance.

The self-titled opening track has a simple, direct approach to house, with stabby attacking pads that form the basis for some sturdy piano led classic ’90s style house. It also helps that there’s a bit of friction with his use of vocals samples with some old geezer (Charles Bukowski?) bitching about the people around him. It’s not reinventing the jacking house wheel, but man it´s certainly got a groove thang going on.

Things get even harder on “Talking To Myself,” a hefty piece of deep house that starts off with a thudding kick beat and deep atmospherics, before it really hits with a pulsing, rolling bassline as soul vocals flit in and out of earshot. It definitely has that darkened. underground, smoky. French filter house quality to it, but the overall feel you get is one of being propelled to move, to shake, and more importantly, get a sweat on. I can really picture myself losing it to this in one of weaker moments at Dolly

CRACKED ICELANDIC EARTH

“You know Bob, I feel that you’re more likely to give a positive review to some obscure techno bands,” said no one I’m going to tell you about a while ago, when we were discussing the finer points of Icelandic music. This caused me go a little bug-eyed and fall off my chair. You see, in the 3 and a half years I’ve been squeezing out bitter notes about the paltry efforts of local musicians, I’ve never seen the Grapevine, or the other Icelandic papers, do any actual reviews of techno music. (And no, Gus Gus does not count!).

In fact to be honest I’ve can’t really recall any out-and-out techno releases of note coming from Iceland for a while. There was a release from Exos last year, which slipped out so quietly it was like a fart in the night. I haven’t had a chance to hear that yet, but most of the local players have been either quiet, or have moved into more “song” based territory (I’m looking at you Yagya).

But over the last few months, there’s been a small flurry of activity from a younger, fresher breed of Icelandic producers that want to bring the tek-tek-tekno back onto our dance-floors in a big way. Spearheading this charge are two fine young gents, LAFONTAINE, and UNTITLED2MUSIC, who have been forging a hive of energy in creating some decidedly dark, blistering techno beats that’s shaking us from our addled floppy house torpor.

In many ways these two share similar strands of techno DNA in their influences, being that they seem to be shying away from the neon gloss of Gus Gus style tech house, or the wide open spaces of Basic-Channel influenced dub techno from the previous generation. Looking up at the above video of a recent DJ set from Lafontaine (As well as one from Untited2Music), they seem to be getting their kicks more from the darker side of the warehouse, the side of the warehouse that has you huffing in lungfuls or dry ice and getting blinded by strobing lighting, while your dodgy chemical intake makes you wobble uncontrollably to artists such as Truss, Perc, AnD, and Rrose. All heaving low-end monotone bass combined with a constant barrage of grumbling earth sounds. 

Take “Mescaline,” the latest release from LaFontaine on Aura Mirror. The opening track “Peyote” has that heavy booming bass note chug and four to the floor kick thumps, with whooshing, cracking sounds that fly past your ears. Turn it up loud and it’s kinda like a jet going off. The remix by Captain Fufanu sees them try to turn the track into stuttering electro with tinny hi-hats and hi end toms pinging around a sampled clip from the original track. the musical equivalent of a badly trained monkey eating all your ecstasy.

The second track “Mescaline” is even more cavernous as it rumbles with a low lit, dark ambient throb and creaking, stretched strings before erupting into a full tilt roar that would give Raime a big chubby one. The remix by United2Music meanwhile essentially aims to add more of a swing groove to the proceedings.

As with his remix of “Mescaline,” Untitled2Music’s latest EP, “Spirit Pt 1,” also sees him looking to occupy that same dark meter. But whereas LaFontaine’s music feels more as if it was chiselled in a pressured underground cave, “Spirit Pt 1” has that feel of empty black space, of industrial Sci Fi terror at the edge of some distant mining colony. The tracks “Decase” and “Prototype” have bridge panel alarms going off to distant ambient sounds and burbling bass lines. Meanwhile “Gates Of Hell” and “Mind” have simple cracked open perpetual machine rhythms set to some decidedly grubby drones that remind you a  little of Prurient’s recent forays into techno beats.

It worth noting that while both these releases are pretty damn good and, to use the required term, banging, these guys are not quite the finished articles just yet. When listening recently to the recent releases from the likes of Function and Shifted, you can hear them add more depth and texture to their rhythms and bass sounds that just drag you deep into the darkness and eyes closed, fist pumping action. With LaFonatine and unlimited2Music, their music isn’t quite at the level where you could say the tracks “sing” to you. But they have all the fundamental components locked and bolted down, and they certainly have the right attitude when it comes to making and listening to some well proper warehouse techno. I’d expect some good things from these guys in the near future.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Iceland, music

 

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You Don’t Realise What You Have Till It’s Gone… Breakbeat.is – A Eulogy

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Oh Man……

Tonight sees an event that will close the door on a club night/collective that has been one of the pivotal focal points in Iceland’s electronic music scene. I‘m talking about the boys at BREAKBEAT.IS who, after 13 long years as Iceland’s premier club/radio night, will be hosting the decks for the last time tonight in a huge, and slightly emotional, blowout at Volta. All the guys will be there. Kalli, Gunnar Ewok, Skeng, and Tryggvi, along with Suspect B and Hypno. 

And the worst bit of all of this – I GOING TO MISS IT! In a few hours I will be driving off to the country with Mrs Sex Farm as it is her birthday wish that we go and see some friends and get away from Reykjavik. Man I do love her, but her timing is bloody lousy. Sigh…

Ever since I came to Iceland in 2007 I became quickly aware of their radio show on X-ið, which I found to be much more enjoyable that most of the other electronic output that’s currently being pumped out on Icelandic radio (People – I’ve tried Flass Xtra, and it is not good!). What I found especially heartening was that they were the only guys that seemed to have a true ear on playing what was happening outside of Iceland, whether it be dubstep, or the emerging juke/footwork explosion, or what was happening with grime and UK bass scene in the last few years. One of their shows from early this year had a crushing intro of Andy Stott.. and RAIME. Fucking Raime! Nobody on Icelandic radio has the awareness, let alone the balls to have something like that.

Ironically in a way, I think that the fact that they were so intent on playing new and other interesting forms of dance music put them in a difficult position with the public towards the end. People who didn’t really listen to them would calmly dismiss them as “being all drum and bass,” while some of the old guard that did listen to them lamented on the fact that they weren’t playing as much DnB as they used too! Add to this the fact that they weren’t churning out shitty house (The sound everyone wants to play/hear right now) didn’t help.

You could also tell that the writing was on the wall with regards to the radio show with the way they were treated by the schedulers over at X-ið over the last year. Starting off at 8pm on Saturdays, they were moved to 10pm (Good), then moved to Wednesdays at 10pm (Err…. why?). Then the show was cut from 2 hours to 1 hour. Fuck! Shows how much they ranked in their priorities. Obviously there wasn’t enough time in the day to hear more of The Lumineers or Muse for the 25th fucking time.

Personally, even though I was a fan, I never actually met them in the flesh until the beginning of last year when I interviewed Kalli and chief designer to the collective Ragar for the Grapevine about the release of their book Taktabrot, which they were crowdsourcing for funds. I very quickly found them both to be cool, intelligent guys and I actually found myself donating funds towards the publishing of the book. Of course their release night, which had UK producer Blawan headlining, was one of the live highlight of 2012 for me. Since then I’ve considered the entire collective to be very much friends and cultural allies,even getting Kalli & Hypno to DJ at the opening RSF club night (And a lot of fun it was too!). During this year’s Sonar, I skipped the main headliners to see Kalli and Ewok play an extraordinary set in the Car Park stage to barely 15 people. It was brilliant!

I do hope that they will be able to continue fighting the good fight for decent electronic music in Iceland in some form or another. But for now, click on the link below to hear one of their Rafio shows from earlier this year. That one with Andy Stott and Raime opening.

And make sure you go to their club night tonight! It’s going to be a Stonker!

TRACKLISTING

Kalli og Ewok með bumbur og bassa
01. Andy Stott – Sleepless (Modern Love)
02. Raime – Passed Over Trail (Blackest Ever Black)
03. Sei A – Flux (Martyn’s Electromagnetic Mix) (Turbo)
04. Darling Farah – North (Civil Music)
05. Hypno – Who You Talkin To? (Dub)
06. Drums of Death – Cold Lazarus (Starkey Remix) (Civil Music)
07. Tyler the Creator – Yonkers (Lil Silva Remix) (MPFree)
08. Pedro 123 – Jetpack Joyride (Get Some)
09. LV & Okmalumkoolkat – Safe And Sound (Hyperdub)
10. Cloaka – Don’t I Know You (Four40)

11. Auntie Flo – I Want To Blow Your Mind (Huntleys & Palmers)
12. Faze Miyake – Take Off (Faze Miyake)
13. Rival – Lock off the Rave (Darq E Freaker UItra Remix) (Pitch Control)
14. Africa Hitech – Caveman Style (Warp)
15. Doc Scott – VIP Drumz (Metalheadz)
16. Throwing Snow feat. Louis Vines – Too Polite (Local Action)
17. Louis Blaise – Love & Gwalla (Philip D. Kick Remix)
18. Dj Rashad – Da Life (Lit City Trax)

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Iceland, music

 

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