RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

Net Decks 22

img  Tobias

**********
reviews

One hundred releases are a proud number for any record company. In the netlabel world, it’s an unprecedented success story. The history of thinner is a long and winding road. It started in the earliest days of the internet with communication channels like “#trax” and bizarre file formats, stormed through the heydays of the mp3 revolution and discharged into a bright future with great music and lots of meaningful content. So, while there’s every reason to stay in the moment and celebrate “100”, the latest digital sampler from thinner, there’s already a lot to look forward to: The integration of high-quality downloads for a small fee to allow artists to financially benefit from their music, the relaunching of the autoplate site as well as the thinnerism blog with inquisitive and journalistically demanding interviews and articles, for example. And for everyone who hasn’t visited the thinner labelsite for a while, the new design has been more than worth the wait – clear, elegant, slick, futuristic and functional, it raises the bar extremely high in terms of usability and aesthetics. So does the music – again. “100” is a release which few others would even consider offering to the public for free and which would make for an absolutely stunning vinyl release which I’d order blindly. To mark the occasion, a lot of the artists which have made the past seven years or so such an agreable time are part of the package –some of them family members since the earliest days and others recent additions. As always, the stylistic outreach is both eclectic and coherent: Trace keeps the tension simmering with a hypnotic slow-trance raindance, benfay (whose first release with thinner dates back to 2001!) explores the space between echo and tribal minimalism, while others contrast dub with adjacent genres: Unit21 mix it up with warm house, Sensual Physics whisk it with sensous synth chords and quirky bleeps and Daniel Blomqvist slows it down to a drugged heartbeat. It is not the individual track that define something new. Rather, the combination of well-known elements with unusual, but completely organic styles which awards a sense of excitment to “100”. Even an experimental vocoder fantasy like “Polaroidmanteaux” by Jason Corder’s Off the Sky and Gyges does not seem out of place here, but makes for a great post-orgasmic musical cigarette. It is the grand finale “The Crush”, though, which takes the biscuit (or the cake, whatever pleases you most): A roots-reverie full of sentimental allusions and heavenly guitar pluckings, this is a a picture postcard from a place where time stands still and the wind blows gently through the leaves of the palms. Raise your glasses, let’s toast to another 100 releases!
www.thinner.cc

An artist missing from the fold of “100” is Alex Q. Interestingly enough, his latest release with “No Response” offers listeners a similar brew of dub and house as well as of relaxing and experimental sounds. “Wake Up” is a powerful EP full of energising, contageous, chilled-out yet brimming, snapping and pumping rhythms, bubbly bass lines and lots of ambient delay, washing out the depths of the subaquatic cave this music must have been composed in. Alex delivers five concisely arranged tracks of haunting intensity, which sooth the mind but make it hard to stay on your sofa. Trained as a pianist, his work always yearns for harmonic resolution, for cinematic width, thematic appeal and for a combined magnetism of grooves and melodies. “Wake Up Alex” is the best example of this approach, a high-caliber dance anthem and a dreamy piece of smart electronic listening, this is a good indication, where party music can go to if unafraid of extending its borders. There is not a single schematic or formulistic track to be found here, even a programatically titled tune like “Kukuo Dub” caresses the imagination with an analog offbeat dot and an insistent rubber bass. As if all of this weren’t enough, Alex Q also organises his own label, Farb-Ton, based in Berlin and dedicated to his own oeuvre and that of colleagues like Julia Lautner. It’s about time the world woke up to him.
www.no-response.org

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic divide, the scene is not marking time either. Archipel have returned with a string of new releases, some of which are still only available at beatport (including “Serendip” by Somfay, which we’re looking forward to especially since it contains a 27-minute closing track!), some of which can however already be downloaded for free from the archipel site. The one to check out under all circumstances is “24h Counspiracy People” by Vincent Casanova. Casanova (I wish I were born with a name like that) heads Subtropica Records, releases with digital and physical record companies, deejays, is always on the lookout for breathtaking events and produces tracks which immediately attract attention because of their blend of rich textures and puristic drum beats. “24h Counspiracy People” sails on the wings of locked and pumping electro grooves and slow four to the floor beats, yet uses them as a framework for sweet, concentrically spiralling and magnetic melodies. “Travelling with Felix” and “Graveyard Romance” are all percussion and pleasing harmonies, visions of trance from the perspective of a romantic, dance anthems approached like ballads. “Breezy”, on the opposite, builds from an angular bass muscle and animalistic tweeterings and groanings, suggests an atmospheric tightening, then eschews it in  favour of dry minimalism. Vincent Casanova’s pieces are like loveable pet animals, his “24h Counspiracy People” a sort of amicable audio zoo. Certainly a refreshing break from the usual grey-toned garage nihilism and my personal release of the week.
www.archipel.cc

One of the latest offerings from Ukraine’s Nexsound label is made of an entirely different cloth (well, in fact the others are too, but we’ll get to that at another time). On the other hand, this is an trivial statement, considering the label considers their music ideally suited for private listening and stresses the fact that these sounds are meant to envelope the listener, rather than serve as aural wallpaper or to get a party started. “Vibrating Portraits” is yet another great example from their extensive discography of stylistically eclectic and conceptually ambitious works. While most people simply take it for granted, that a sound can appear to be “sweet”, a composition “dark” or “colourful” or a texture “granular”, Nexsound is interested in what factors are crucial when trying to emulate other senses with music. Their questions reach far beyond whether it is possible at all, focussing on aspects of philosophy, as well as concrete methods and tools. The lineup on “Vibrating Portraits” is impressive, ranging from 12k artists Autistici and Motion as well as Room40 label boss Lawrence English to Italian composer Elio Martusciello - and the approaches are consequently plentiful: While Gregg Kowalsky takes the sounds of a giant sealiner as his starting point, Martusciello approximates the 1912 eruption of Katmai, the largest volcano activity in North America for over 100 years. The results are hugely divergent: Kowalsky stays close to his source material, using it as an immediate reference point, but turning it into a billowing drone to describe the elegant majesty of the ship. Martusciello’s piece, on the other hand, is a programmatic, yet metaphoric work with rolling timpanis and staccato orchestra stabs amidst a fluent sea of complex inner movements. Contrasts between the various moods are equally disturbing: Lawrence English balances between harmonious undulation and perplexing madness, He Can Jog dig out their rhythm machines and go all soft and easy to sketch “Saint Paul” and (etre) go from spoken word to noise in their concisely titled “Reprocessing the voice between memory, drone-memory, frequency-memory as a painting”. Do these pieces serve to prove that music can deliver fully-fledged portraits? The answer is yes, even though there seems to be disagreement on whether it needs to lean towards concrete sounds rather than abstraction to achieve this. Or maybe everyone agrees that there are many different ways. In any case, it’s a rewarding compilation with plenty of food for thought.
www.nexsound.org

By Tobias Fischer

**********
about

“Net Decks” is a weekly feature of tokafi.com covering Netlabel releases from the techno and electronica scene. It is published each Monday. For including your infos, having your releases reviewed or joining the reviews team, please contact us at tobias@tokafi.com



Related articles

flag
Net Feature/ Gabriel le Mar: "Dubwize"
Prods the ear with gentle ...
2009-02-10
flag
James Ruskin: The Dash ends 6,5 years recording retirement
British producer James Ruskin is ...
2008-02-06
flag
Net Feature/ Craque: "Density Operator"
Beats as discreet pacemakers: Like ...
2008-01-26
flag
Net Feature/ Sudio: "Sheets of Sound"
Outbursts of ectoplasma inside a ...
2008-01-22
flag
Richie Hawtin celebrates: No releases! No concerts! No appearances!
Richie Hawtin has declared the ...
2008-01-21
flag
Net Feature/ Suokas: "Candy_Man"
More than just cool body-movers: ...
2008-01-20
flag
Vital Weekly 602
Frans de Waard presents the ...
2007-11-30
flag
Net Decks 23
Techno & Electronica, Ambient & ...
2007-11-25
flag
Vital Weekly 601
Frans de Waard presents the ...
2007-11-25
flag
Getting Thicker
More content, more options: Seminal ...
2007-11-16
flag
Net Decks 19
Our regular look at the ...
2007-10-28
flag
Net Decks 15
Our regular look at the ...
2007-09-30
flag
Net Decks 14
Our regular look at the ...
2007-09-23
flag
Net Decks 13
Our regular look at the ...
2007-09-16
flag
Net Decks 11
Our regular look at the ...
2007-09-02
flag
Net Decks 7
Our regular look at the ...
2007-08-06
flag
Net Decks 1
Our regular look at the ...
2007-06-25

Partner sites

ad