Review: Earlier this year Minimal Wave offshoot provided one of this year's most visceral dancefloor weapons in Kino-I, the debut from Doug Lee's new An-I project. Taking inspiration from techno, jack, industrial and punk, An-I successfully drew a line under some of the Berlin-based artist's previous disco-flavoured endeavours. And then some! If you like the Kino-I 12" you will love the new triplet of An-I productions housed on this appropriately titled Gutz 12". The title track alone should come with a health warning; such is the furious onslaught of machine funk it contains, whilst the unnerving "Rut" is the most schizophrenic production you will hear this year. Best of all id closing track "Save Us" sounds like a cross between in Aeternam Vale and Silent Servant. Pressed on a rather thick and dashing slab of magenta orange vinyl!
Review: Kris Baha had a big year in 2019 with the release of his debut album on CockTail d'Amore and an EP on Pinkman, and now the Australian body music man in Berlin is back with a high-pressure heater for [Emotional] Especial. "Barely Alive" is the kind of sinewy proto-industrial cut that will appeal to fans of Ministry's earlier work, when the synths reigned supreme and there was pop to match the noir. Especial then call on a cast of remixers to interpret the track in different ways, from Timothy J Fairplay amping up the dystopian disco tropes to Das Ding creating a sleek electro-funk twist with the original's gothic undertones intact.
Review: Analogue synthesizer enthusiast Bezier first surfaced on Dark Entries in 2012, delivering the hard-wired retro-futurist fantasy Ensconced. Two years on, he's finally ready to release the follow-up, the similarly sharp and sci-fi themed Telemores. As with his previous output, the influences are obvious - think Radiophonic Workshop, electro, minimal, new wave and Italo-disco - but he smartly steers clear of pastiche and empty revivalism. Instead, we're treated to a range of dancefloor-friendly instrumental cuts, cyborg jams, and intoxicating robot rinse-outs. Closer "Fukushima", in which he doffs a cap to the synthesized horror-disco of John Carpenter, is particularly potent.
Review: Stupendously rare Italo gem from the criminally under-prolific Trieste-based Big Ben Tribe, this quirky poplet first came our way in 1984 on Gong. Last spotted changing hands for hundreds on auction sites, Dark Entries have done the disco world a favour and licensed a reissue. Untouched and naked in all its 80s glory, the synth patterns, abstract lyrics and arrangement were way ahead of their time and clearly influenced many electronic pop and Balearic bands who followed. Vocals just a bit too much for you? No worries, just flip for the instrumental. Tarzan loves summer nights, and we love Dark Entries for unearthing this utter classic.
Review: A special release from Minimal Wave here as the uber rare Irene & Mavis EP from UK synth poppers Blancmange is granted a reissue! Those with a pub quiz winning level of knowledge of UK synth pop will no doubt be familiar with the 80s hits of Blancmange duo Neil Arthur & Stephen Luscombe, yet this debut EP dating back to 1980 will still sound revelatory. The self released Irene & Mavis EP marked Arthur and Luscombe to be fully willing to experiment with DIY electronics, impressing Mute founder Daniel Miller sufficiently to proclaim them "maiden aunts of electronic music," and thus more than suited as a subject of focus from the Minimal Wave label. There are definite similarities between this nascent stage of Blancmange and the output of Cabaret Voltaire from the same era, particularly in the masked and disembodied nature of the vocals, whilst "Holiday Camp" and "Just Another Spectre" are wonderful examples of instrumental synth music. Despite originally being released in 7" format, the six newly remastered tracks are presented here in 10" format by Minimal Wave with the distinctive artwork retained!
Review: First released way back in 1982, Blancmange's "Living On The Ceiling" remains one of the most alluring and eccentric of all new wave-era synth-pop cuts, in part because the unusual inclusion of tabla and sitar parts gives it an unusually exotic, mind-altering flavour. This timely reissue includes the original album mix (B1) and '82 12" version (B2), as well as two brand new reworks from the mighty Roman Flugel. The veteran German producer has delivered the goods, first via a deliciously wonky, otherworldly and analogue-rich revision that brilliantly fuses elements of trippy Teutonic techno and raw, turn-of-the-80s New Wave. As you'd expect, his accompanying dub takes the track further in this direction, delivering a deliciously skewed trip into sparse, heavy, early morning territory.
Review: Gone beyond. That's what they say when an (astro) pilot crashes to earth and takes the journey into the big sky. When Juan Trippe took that last flight little did he know that his re-incarnated self would be an electronic pioneer. In tandem with his co-pilot Guido Zen (his own father also a pilot) and Kyle Martin (from the Land Of Light) they formed Brain Machine and scaled the highest Peaks to bring back music both unearthly and intensely human. Are we all not stardust anyway? This music proves it, takes you out flips you over and rolls you in stardust. Don't try and think it through, make sense of it, grasp it - just wander in wonder and bask in beauty.
Get lost again.
Review: If you've ever wanted some straight-up italo disco but then wondered where to find it, where to start, who to ask, then Dark Entries have sorted you right out. As usual, the label come through strong, and this time they reissue an italo disco classic by Brand Image (T.Scarfone and M.Scarabelli) originally released in 19983, and representing the genre with flying colours. "Are You Loving?" contains the 1980's in every sense of the word: quirky, melancholic vocals riding over a grainy drum machine beat, and accompanied by massive synth stabs and an inimitable sort of groove - simply lovely. There's an instrumental on the flip just in case you love the sounds but are slightly scared by the power of the vocals...
Review: Emergent duo Broken Arrows were previously spotted lurking around Giallo Disco back in 2015, so you should have some idea of the kind of lurid late night machine sleaze they like to get their hands dirty with. They've now slid over to the sympathetic but marginally more techno-minded Vivod imprint with a new clutch of deviant heaters for those adventurous dancefloor spaces where B-movie sounds reign supreme. "Female Predator" is a tough EBM-tinted workout with plenty of jack in its stack, while "Fear Eats The Soul" takes a more synth-wave approach with some speech samples thrown in for good measure. "Edge Of Darkness" is a more tense affair that pings arpeggios around a minor key refrain, and then "Basic Structure" whips out the hardest track on the record, a lithe industrial stomper laden with rhythmic noise and a mean synth bassline that will hit your solar plexus like a battering ram.
Review: Music From Memory's first retrospective of obscure Brazilian electronic music, "Outro Tempo", was arguably one of the strongest compilations of 2017. There's a second volume on the way, with curator John Gomez this time focusing on music made between 1984 and '96. First, though, we get this taster EP featuring two previously cassette-only cuts. On the A-side you'll find Bruhaha Babelico's "Bruhaha II", a ghostly and mind-altering chunk of delay-laden new wave/industrial funk fusion full of fuzzy bass, echoing female vocals, dubbed-out electronics and psychedelic yelps. Turn to the flip and you're greeted by Individual Industry's off-kilter, outer-space synth-pop jam "Eyes". Like its predecessor, it's an unusual, intoxicating treat.
Review: Emotional Rescue and Malka Tuti serve up another round of top shelf remixes and revisions of John Rees Lewis' mid-late 80s project C Cat Trance, following in the wake of the Screaming Ghosts compilation. First up to bat are Red Axes, who bring a seductive line in loose and limber drumming to "Shake The Mind" that should suit the Fourth World dancefloor massive just fine. Jamie Paton brings a tough, clamouring intensity to "Take Me To The Beach," while Prins Thomas takes a truly spiritual approach when weaving the intricate arpeggios and percussion of "Sudaniyya." Khidja and Borusiade team up on "Simple Helen," presenting a dense and hazy trip into exotic territory with sinister undertones.
Review: Maryjane Dunphe and Laurent Dagincourt's debut as CC Dust, the Night School released "Shinkasen No. 1" 7", was impressive enough to mark them out as an act to watch. This eponymous EP delivers on that early promise, offering synth-pop cuts that gleefully reference some of their favourite bands. "Tonopah", for example, features synths and guitar motifs that recall early New Order, while "Never Going To Die" has the sort of low-slung bass and evocative vocals that will be familiar to fans of The Futureheads and Franz Ferdinand. Intriguingly, flipside cut "Mutiny" sits somewhere between those two tracks, while "Abra" is a synth-driven blast of emotion-rich pop melancholy.
Review: The mighty Cherrystones originally dropped the crackling party heat of "Blood, Campari & Sand" on his own Bandcamp page, and now he's doing the right thing and committing it to wax via Duca Bianco. It's a vital, funk-rooted jam that revolves around dusty drum licks and piano, as badass as it is considered. "Meta Weta on the flip is equally cool in its execution, this time using some uneasy synth pulses that reverberate between the laconic step of the beat. Drawing on library music, Giallo and deep-digging grooves from the outer reaches, Cherrystones once again demonstrates his knack for off-kilter tackle to get the freakier party set moving in approval.
Tam Tam (Daniele Baldelli & Marco Dionigi remix A) (4:40)
Tam Tam (Daniele Baldelli & Marco Dionigi remix B) (4:40)
Tam Tam (Whatever/Whatever remix) (7:13)
Tam Tam (Whatever/Whatever extended edit) (5:30)
Review: Many should already know Codek's "Tam Tam" (sometimes known as "Tim Toum"), a peerless Afro-cosmic classic from 1981 that fused minimalist tribal drums with spaced-out female vocals and sparse, intergalactic electronics. Here it gets the remix treatment for the very first time. Fittingly, it's cosmic disco stalwarts Daniele Baldelli and Marco Dionigi who kick things off with two tasty interpretations: a percussive and hypnotic take that successfully throws some acid-funk guitars into the mix ("Remix A"), and a more spacey, synth-laden affair rich in analogue electronics ("Remix B"). Over on side B, New York duo Whatever/Whatever re-imagine it as a fuzzy slab of coldwave/house fusion, before offering up an extended, club-ready re-edit of the original version.
Review: Cold Beat is a San Francisco-based quartet fronted by Hannah Lew (synths, vocals) with Kyle King (synths, guitar), Luciano Talpini Aita (synths) and Sean Monaghan (guitar). Formed in 2013 the band has released three albums and two EPs. 'A Simple Reflection' is a 7-song collection of Eurythmics covers, yet feels just as personal as any of their original material. While digging through a collection of 12?s for her record shop Contact Records, Lew stumbled across the earliest Eurythmics B-sides and was floored. This lead to the discovery of their debut album 'In The Garden'. Annie Lennox's abstract and poetic lyrics really struck a chord with Hannah. What had started out as a single cover quickly snowballed into a full blown obsession. The synth and drum programming resonated with her songwriting process, so reimagining them was very creatively fulfilling. The covers on this EP are simultaneously dynamic and atmospheric post-punk that plays to Lew's ethereal vocals and King's crystalline guitar. All songs have been mixed by Mikey Young (Total Control) and mastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. The record is housed in a jacket designed by Eloise Leigh, which features pink and purple clouds that evoke a dreamy softness and DIY playfulness and photos Lew in her best Lennox-inspired drag. Each copy includes a postcard with photos and notes. "Sometimes a song seems to sing just for you, as if someone knows your most inner thoughts and feelings and has found a way to describe them effortlessly" - Hannah Lew
Review: After appearing on the first Calypso Records release out of Mexico last year, Colossio returns to the fray with a whole EP of sleazy jams for the warm up crowd to get nasty to. "Moto" is a grinding crossover track that features dirty garage guitars to match the low-slung synth undulations and sizzling disco beat, while "Fe" throws the windows open for a ranging cut centred around all kinds of instrumentation played with a post-punk looseness. "Ansia" keeps things nervous and atmospheric without skimping on party energy, and then Man Power swoops in for a remix of "Moto" that keeps things spooky while injecting a swinging groove into the mix.
Review: Notorious Discodromo helmed session CockTail D'Amore celebrate their 10th birthday with a compilation that highlights many different aspects of the much loved and musically adventurous Berlin party. The Cosmic Hole is the corner of the club that champions slower, freakier sounds, and the corresponding 12" kicks off in style with the throbbing acid chug of "Mount Anal" by CPI. Juan Ramos brings something of a nightmarish industrial clamour to "Skincrawler", while Kris Baha gets bombastic on the full-fat "Paralleled". Bezier completes the package with "Starpoint", a mystical affair shaped out by yearning strings and subtle rhythms.
Review: The Dark Entries label continue their impressive run of form with another killer reissue LP, this time by The Prefects member Joe Crow. Compulsion was Crow's first solo work from the early '80s and has been a digger's favourite for a long time, its itchy drum machine beats and disjointed guitar riffs being utterly singular at the time of the album's initial release. "Compulsion" itself is a mid-tempo beat jam containing Crow's own dreary vocals and beautiful synthesized keys. "Absent Friends" is slower, full of languish and life at the same time, while on the B-side, "Each To His Own" is the winner thanks to its punky aesthetic surrounded by that early 80's electronic oddity. A masterclass piece of music and an essential collector's item.
Review: Snap, Crackle & Pop does the business once again as Berlin-based producer Curses steps up with the distinctly 1980s new wave stylings of "Another View". It's the kind of track that will have lovers of early The Cure, Sisters Of Mercy et al dancing in a hazy fever dream where early goth and indie meets with contemporary beats. "Together In The Dark" makes the point even clearer with a brooding trip through languid guitar, beyond the grave vocals and scuffed drums. Inga Mauer takes an entirely different tact with her remix of the latter track, conjuring up a particularly chilling acid daemon to jangle the nerves before The Golden Filter spook out "Another View" with heavy doses of reverb.
Review: Though now famed as a top-drawer live performer with a string of acclaimed albums to her name, there was a time when Marie Davidson's music was less widely appreciated. In fact, when this eponymous EP first appeared on cassette in 2013, she was pretty much unknown. As you'd expect, it's perhaps a little more lo-fi than some of her more recent work, but that's what makes the EP so appealing. Check, for example, the sleazy vocals, distant drum hits and cascading melodies of creepy opener "Ma Vie Sans Moi", the unsettling lead lines, ricocheting cymbal hits and powerful drone bassline of "L'unique" and the dystopian, high-tempo minimal wave-goes-bleep techno trip that is "Le Lieu Ou Vous Voulez Vous Rendre"; all three remain amongst Davidson's most arresting cuts to date.
Review: Dark Entries has truly become a sensational imprint over the last few years, and they are showing no signs of stopping. In fact, they've just gotten better and better with each new release. We have a special one on our hands this time and, although the label have reissued a whole heap of glorious material, this is NEW music from the very best out there. Chicago industrial-tech-goth Beau Wanzer teams up with Unknown Precept's Maoupa Mazzocchetti, and the dup get on like a house on fire under their new De-Bons-En-Pierre moniker. Crepes is a gnarly little EP, blurring the lines between techno, EBM and industrial, but doing so in a way that makes the three genres sound like they should never ever be apart from one another. "Whole Body Irradiator", for instance, has all the beat elements of techno and yet the sounds are drenched in a punky, fuck-you kinda style that would make the Berghain faithful run for their lives, while we could easily imagine the torn, glitchy beats of "Francine" residing on some long-lost post-punk 7 inch from the likes of Pete Shelley. This is some mad gear - don't miss it.