Is it 2020 again? There’s some joke about hindsight here, but I feel like it’s been done before. We seem to be stuck in some perpetual groundhog day, going through the motions like zombies kowtowing our way to an edge of an imperceptible cliff. It seems that one of us should by now be able to see it coming, but we’re all so busy following the leader that we’re gonna be oblivious until we’re free-falling towards a fast-approaching bottom.
Perhaps we jinxed it by bringing the cut with Filter Musikk back… we were tempting fate just a little too eagerly; returning to familiar favourites a little prematurely. Fate, she deals a cruel hand, and she’s something of a grump, because just as we got used to having a dance floor again and could afford to buy a few records, she said; “NO! We will have none of that.” It’s back to the chairs with you and time to tighten those purse strings again – on that note does anybody want to buy a slightly used Jesse record?
Even Filter Musikk’s 50kr bargain bin seems a stretch right now, but perhaps it’s the inevitably doomed spirit of this yuletide or a complete disconnection with reality, but what the hell. Gaze upon my fields of fucks, marvel at how they grow. The common consensus might be to start hoarding for your ablutions, but if we’re gonna be stuck in doors for another 3 months, we’re gonna need some music to get us through this one. There’s something about the therapeutic nature of listening to a record; the physical motion of it all, that brought some calm during the last lockdown. We’re going to need that again and we’re going to need some new records to listen to.
Record shelves and playlists have been exhausted, and what new things we’ve obtained have already taken a few turns. We’re definitely going to need some new music to see this through. So, there’s nothing for it… Let’s get stuck into some new records…
Lowtec – Easy To Heal Cuts (Avenue 66) LP
The first cut is indeed the deepest…We don’t know where Lowtec would’ve come by that dual meaning of the cuts, but we approve! It’s as if the producer has had a premonition, or perhaps it’s just the mood that permeates our whole scene at the moment. We need some healing cuts and Lowtec delivers with this deep House record via Avenue 66.
A collection of tempered House pieces featuring Lowtec’s characteristic machine aesthetic. The accompaniment offers a stark, metallic backdrop as detached machines spring to life in Lowtec’s work. Unlike traditional House arrangements where samples or organic instruments offer a humanised dichotomy between machine and human, Lowtec’s work favours an approach in anthropomorphising lifeless machines.
It’s when left to their own devices and a glitch appears in which he finds that human aspect in this electronic music and Easy to Heal Cuts is an excellent example of this at work. Instead Lowtec creates warmth in the deep confies of the bass register and charming melodies, as if a computer learns to sing. The title track and “Nature thinks for you,” offers the repose and the solace, while the rest of the album seems to focus on an early or non-existent dance floor with repetition and familiarity playing the key role.
It’s in those quirky “glitches” that come from indolent machines that Lowtec’s tracks come alive on “Easy to Heal Cuts.” It shies away from the conformity of the dance floor and offers something a little more unique in what remains dance-floor focussed music.
SusTrapperazzi – Return From Shibuya (Ilian Tape) 12″
Is 2022 the year we Make Dubstep Massive Again? Ilian Tape might have gotten a headstart on that with their latest. SusTrapperazzi joins the forward-thinking label for a record that although wildly divergent from the labels percussive-heavy sound, maintains that alternative ideology. Always ready to highlight a different side to Europe’s four-on-the floor dominating dance floor, Ilian Tape introduces this new artist to the dance floor in their Ilian Beat Series.
Falling between margins of Dubstep, Grime and Trap, SusTrapperazzi’s music folds in elements of Funk, Jazz and Soul in his stark beat constructions. Big undulating sub-bass movements underpin “Return form Shibuya” as snippets of samples, calling to mind Burial’s earliest work, dust the slow moving arrangements.
It’s all about that bass. Sustrapperrazi carves deep trenches from a synthesiser vibrating around the lower registers. At times like “Date Night,” it teeters on the edge of a precipice that’s about to enter IDM territory, but it always returns to the legato bass, moving along in sedate figures across the bottom end of the tracks.
John Beltran – Aesthete (Furthur Electronix) 2xLP
Look no further than John Beltran if you’re looking for soothing melodies and a warm electronic aesthetic. A Detroit original, John Beltram has been making this kind of music since the birth of Techno. Where most of his contemporaries however have suffered at their own hubris, he has hardly wavered from those original Techno, Electro and Ambient sounds of the early nineties.
Why mess with perfection?
“Aesthete” confirms this position. Ethereal melodies play against drum machines breaking step with conformity. Wistful broken beats create lovely atmospheres in which happy synthesisers frolic in major keys and uplifting harmonies. John Beltram plays in a sound that has matured beautifully, as analogue components find a new voice in a digital realm. It sounds like a 90’s Techno record should in our era; developing on those rudimentary ideas without stretching the limits of patience.
Aesthete however is closer to an ambient record than the youthful indulgences of the original Techno provocateurs, but in that way it proves how Techno could find a place in contemporary pop music if you let it. As a composer with some success in film and television, John Baltram is able to manipulate these cold lifeless machines into something accessible without reverting to tawdry motifs or styles. It’s a record you’re able to swim through, and you don’t need to be an electronic music nerd to enjoy it.
Chris Moss Acid – 5G Weaponized Bats EP (Furthur Electronix) 12″
Further Electronix are in a class of their own at the moment. Carrying a torch for classic Techno, House and Electro, they’ve provided a platform for a sound that maintains a strong connection with origins of those genres, very often from those original pioneers, like John Beltram above. Never one to pander to the obvious, they’ve shone a light on the margins of electronic music over the last four years with artists that continue to work in the more obscure corners of these styles.
Case in point Chris Moss Acid. You don’t assume the moniker “acid” likely, but Chris Moss owns it after a couple of decades of proliferating those original sounds of acid. Still based around the Roland x0x series, those tools that first established Acid House, “5G Weaponized Bats” is another direct descendant of the original House and Techno sounds. Favouring a broken beat and an ambient mood, the EP is densely orchestrated with bold pads and delicate melodies. There’s a transcendental quality to the record when it comes to tracks like Bayt Al-Hikma and and Beat String, but it’s interrupted often by a hefty broken beat as it tries to break through the graceful synths or pads.
By the end of Beat String, we’re almost in Trance territory, but luckily the record refrains otherwise from such blatant cheesy pursuits even though happy melodies and uplifting progressions dot the record throughout. It’s yet another future classic Furthur Electronix has added to it’s already stunning catalogue.