The collective post-new-year hangover stings just a little bit harder and longer in Scandinavia. Short days and bitter temperatures plummet the soul to the depths of despair where pessimism and melancholy create miasmic web of hopelessness entanglement. Abandoned on the gloomy moors of resigned wretchedness, our only companion is the empty wail of silence that gapes in ugly contorted disconnected shapes from the fog, but hardly makes a sound, gnawing at our eternal discomfort. Serenity now! Our only salvation is music and in Oslo there is only one man and place that can save us from this desolate wall of silence. Roland Lifjell and Filter Musikk is to the rescue with a new year and a new box of records.
While the entire industry is still incapacitated from the festivities, writhing on the floor, looking to reassemble any semblance of a record, Filter Musikk has already unpacked the first batch nothingness, but Roland Lifjell has got just what we need to get through this trying annual period. Records with no “official” release date or in some cases no official release title, live beyond such trivialities whenever the arrive at Filter Musikk. They take on a timeless quality maturing with age as they continue the lineage of electronic music through the format that started it all… vinyl. A record encased in the physical format at these prices are not things that encourage the throw-away culture of digital consumerism.
“Vinyl import continues at a steady pace” this year says Roland Lifjell and he guarantees that 2019 will also “be a fine musical year.” That remains to be seen Roland, but in the first shipment of the year he sets yet another uncompromising tone and it’s hard to argue with the music. With Roland’s expert help, we sift through these records in an effort to find just what kind of music will take us forward through this year. Broken Beats and a tougher sound all round looks set to continue to dominate the releases, but it will undoubtedly be an eclectic musical year ahead judging from these releases.
Aleksi Perälä – Sunshine EP (Djak-Up-Bitch (DUB)) 12”
Finish producer Aleksi Perälä first caught the attention of the world through a couple of releases on Aphex Twin’s Rephlex imprint, a suitable home for his expressive electronic sound that loiters in the melodic depths of genres like IDM and Electro. Bold percussive arrangements and visceral arrangements have marked his fooray in electronic music with prolific effort. His releases (not counting EPs or singles) count into the twenties since 2007 mostly on his eponymous AP label.
The Sunshine EP, which is more like a mini-album, is the most recent, coming off the back of several releases in 2018, including the 2018 LP of the same name. The tracks on the EP are a mastercraft in sound design and production, and even though somehow everything is louder than everything else, there is a natural balance between the parts. Perälä’s percussive treatment dominates tracks with kick drums, irrelevantly pile driving their way through the centre of vast electronic textures, disturbing the surface of the tracks only for a moment, before they resume their natural state, like a footprint in wet sand.
It’s in Perälä’s playful dichotomy between the severe beat arrangements and beatific melodic parts where the music thrives and engages with the listener. The dark timbral quality of those kicks is counterpointed by melodic textures like fairy dust, neutralizing the functionality for something cognitive.
Unknown Artist – Unknown (EEE 004) 12″
You’ve got to love a whitelabel. A simple pencil etching on the inner disc is the only clue to what lies concealed on the grooves of this record. A vocal sample from Madonna’s back catalogue is prominently featured, and naturally for fear of litigation the artist has very wisely chosen to conceal his or her identity.
The curious choice of this particular vocal sample suggest a younger artist though, but the vocal sample apart, it’s actually what lies behind it that made our ears prick up. A deep, rolling bassline modulates like a tsunami through the vacuous space with a sparse percussive ensemble tweaking around the edges. Once you’ve heard the first sixteen bars of this record there’s very little left to be discovered, but it will make a great DJ tool for anybody with a penchant for turn-of the-millenium-madonna. (not sure how it’s still on youtube)
Various – Panorama Bar 07 Part I (Ostgut Ton) 12″
Taken from the latest Panorama Bar mix with nd_baumecker at the helm, this is the first of two EPs with exclusive tracks for the mix. While the second is surely going to be the favourite amongst fans, featuring House darling Ross from Friends, Dave Aju and Duplex, with three deep, expressive House tracks, it’s first EP that caught our attention… uhm well, first.
Specifically, it was Falty DL’s broken beat House contribution that first catches the ear. The airy familiar vocal sample used across nineties rave tracks and the horn synth repeating that familiar yet distant memory of a melody stored way back in the banks of the mind, sets an evocative mood of the past. Accentuated with the pads that weave their way through the arrangement and in the end, there’s a dream-like quality to the track that carries on through the rest of the EP.
Nd_baumecker is known for sets that proffer a little more than the functional. Never one to shy away from a pop reference or an uplifting melody, the music he selects wanders far across the musical spectrum and on this particular collection of tracks he selects three tracks that set a very salacious tone. Jinjé and Glenn Ludd expound on the Falty DL track with elements of House, Techno, Trance and Disco coming together in very much the same way Baumecker’s sets come together. The three tracks are taken from different points on the recorded mix, but hey work well together on this EP.
Various – Eel Behaviour: Moray (Earwiggle) – 12″
It’s only the second in a series of compilations from Earwiggle, but truth be told we’re a little bit late on this one, because since this came out at the end of November, the label has already released three more editions! While the “Eel Behavior” series is already on “Onejaw” we’ve had to remain content with “Mooray” – better late than never.
This uncompromising electro compilation bears a sharp-toothed grin like the aquatic serpent from the title. Umwelt, The Advent & Zein, Replicants and Galaxian all contribute to the compilation with demanding uptempo Electro cuts. Umwelt and The Advent & Zein set a dystopian tone with darker, lysergic movements around skipping Electro beats, while Galaxian and the Replicants offer a more retro approach to the Electro genre with beat arrangements closer to the Hip-Hop origins of the genre and melodic expressions lifted from eight-bit video games, played through eighties synthesisers.
999999999 – Rave Reworks (NineTimesNine) 12”
This is a repress, in fact the entire record is something of a repress. Hoovers and glassy staccato synth stabs take us back to the ninety nineties rave culture through this release.
The Italian duo 999999999 update the antiquated sound with a focus on atmosphere and the tonal percussion in true Techno fashion in its earliest traditions. It is a kind of Techno that started seeping into dance floors in 2018 and looks set to dominate Techno dance floors for the year ahead. Happy new year from the Cut with Filter Musikk!