This is an overview of the music that the 909 crew are feeling this month. Not focused on new releases, it serves as an insight to our musical journeys and the discoveries we make on the way.
The Bermuda Triangle – Redshift 7
It’s hard to find the words to convey the beauty of this song. I feel that only a sonnet or some douchey Bob Dylan lyric would do it justice. This is taken from the Sketches From Space LP released this year by The Bermuda Triangle. Yes, that same Bermuda Triangle who produced the italo-house classic Mary Celeste all the way back in 1992. Although that song is great, this album is just so much better. It will undoubtedly fly far under the radar of most music heads – what with so many other great albums coming out from much more hyped producers – but I actually think this album surpasses pretty much everything else that has been released this year. I know that Jane Fitz feels the same way, as she declared similar enthusiasm for the album on her Rinse FM show, and I trust Jane on pretty much anything music related so I know I’m not getting overly gassed. I doubt anyone would blink if they were told that this was made by Hans Zimmer or any other superfamous composer (I confess I do not know many). The power of those strings and the delicacy of the piano chords work together so harmoniously. They arouse contrasting emotions, as the emotional tug of the piano chords lean towards melancholy and nostalgia, whilst the momentous strings demand optimism and reflection. What is perhaps most interesting about this dynamic is that they are playing the same chords, but their message is completely different. I listen to this song and I feel regret, hopefulness, wistfulness and clarity. Creating such emotional depth with such simple chord progression by utilising different instruments is quite simply masterful. There really aren’t enough superlatives to compliment this song, so I beg you to just listen and get lost in its beauty.
Bruce – Æon
There is no doubt that Bruce’s new album Sonder Somatic on Hessle Audio is impressive. His innovative sound design and abstract concepts are excellent, and it is refreshing to see a producer so young be so confident in producing an album this unique. It would have been much easier to play it safe and to make a set of club ready tracks that everyone would lap up. Even for a release on Hessle Audio – a label synonymous with unconformity – no one would have blamed Bruce if he had put out a series of accessible weapons and tools with that Hessle edge. He therefore deserves a lot of credit for Sonder Somatic, as it deviates massively from this formula. What is probably the only song on the whole album that could really be played in a club. My only criticism of the album is that it I don’t think it quite qualifies as a home-listening album. It is a very interesting LP, but I found it difficult to really get into its groove because it was so conceptual. I found an absence of warmth that I would usually expect to complement music so mechanical and alien. It’s harsh to compare, but if you listen to Objekt’s Cocoon Crush I feel that it works better as a home listening album precisely because it is warmer and more melodic. The reason why Æon is my favourite song on this album is precisely because it contains that unquantifiable warmth that I am looking for. It is more rigid than other songs on the album, in that it follows a set tempo and doesn’t vary very far from it, but there are a lot of clicks and weird sounds going on to keep you interested. The focal point of this song, and its true triumph, is the breakdown. It is euphoric and cinematic, yet darkly twisted and mutated. It is in these moments where the album works best, when the oddball sound design collaborates with more traditional melodic moments. I’m very much looking forward to warming up for Bruce and Skee Mask with DJ Paramedic at the next Unbound party at the Cause next month. I hope he doesn’t hate me for daring to criticise his album. But I’m not here to blow smoke up anyone’s arse and I think my criticisms are a sign of respect, because it shows that I expect so much from him, precisely because he really is one of the most intriguing talents in the UK music scene.
Chris & Cosey – Walking Through Heaven
I heard this song in the garden of De School during ADE, where Interstellar Funk and JASSS were playing b2b. Interestingly, both were sitting down on a sofa DJing, which I thought was something that only Frankie Knuckles and Marco Carola did… As you would expect, the set was mainly a mix of electro, EBM and the usual chuggy, druggy Interstellar Funk flavours. However, the set was made more interesting because it was punctuated by several more euphoric moments, with this being my personal highlight. This song works for me because it feels so analogue. The synths feel like they’ve been made by a machine, not a computer. This is important, because modern music definitely doesn’t feel like this. Those that try simply sound inauthentic and a bit try-hard, and fall under that woeful category of retrofuturism. I don’t think that music has ever quite been able to replicate the magic of certain 80’s electronica. This song is an embodiment of that; futuristic and mechanic, yet distinctly human. That melody is a journey and a story, I absolutely love it. For some reason it reminds me of the crescendo of Andronicus’ Make You Whole. Listen to both tunes and see if you agree with me. Even if you disagree, they’re both sick tunes so I’m doing you a favour and making your day that slightly bit better regardless.
Ariadne’s Labyrinth – Enigm Part 2
Ariadne’s Labyrinth is perhaps my favourite artist at the moment. I have been so impressed by the variety and range of genres displayed across her discography, and indeed within individual songs. This song alone is a wild mix of DnB, electro and gabber, all tangled together seamlessly. I don’t usually stray too far into 160bpm territory, but with songs like this, it makes me think I’m missing out big time. The melody at the start is strong enough to be the centre point of the entire song. It is joyful and welcoming without being too cheesy, and I appreciate its subtlety in contrast to the rapid fire electro breaks. However, rather than utilising this melody throughout, the song goes on about three separate tangents where the melody morphs into something new and more exciting every time. When the gabber part starts the melody becomes a lot more string-focused, and in response the song feels like it is building up to something tremendous (and God dang it definitely does). The relentless drum beat is so urgent it feels like it is dragging you forwards. Importantly however, the speed of this beat doesn’t feel comedic, as a lot of gabber and donk tends to be. This is serious, forward thinking electronic music. Once the gabber ceases, there is then a large breakdown and build up. The violin feels threatening and discomforting, yet raises the tension expertly towards the song’s crescendo. The drop is amongst the most energetic and exciting I have heard in a while. I absolutely love how the strings go up an octave as the beat comes back in. It is pure pandemonium, and would cause utter devastation on a dancefloor. If this song doesn’t have you headbutting everyone within a 5 metre radius then you’re doing it wrong.
Djrum – Waters Rising
How this album hasn’t got more attention and recognition I do not know. It is absolutely fabulous. The cover art by itself is exceptional. The colour palette is really inviting, but the illustrations have the same menace of a Ralph Steadman drawing. Somehow, the contents of this album is even better. Every song is wildly different in vibe, tempo, pace and genre. It is a testament to Djrum’s production in that he can produce superb music in every single genre that he touches upon. It is hard to define what genre this song is, but people on discogs have called it ‘future-garage’ so I’m going to steal that for now. My contribution is that I think it sounds like something Chase and Status wished they made. I love the fractured vocals, and the beat pattern and bassline give it that suitably epic feel which means that this would absolutely dominate big rooms. I really enjoy the more subtle moments within the song, where all else fades but the soft piano chords. The album itself is clearly a homage to the classical influences that Djrum is inspired by. It is an invigorating experience to go from cataclysmic breaks and big-room euphoria to a singular piano melody within thirty seconds, but I think that these moments juxtapose each other well. I envisage this album getting a lot of recognition in the next six months as tracks begin to filter into the wider music scene by more and more DJs dropping them. Take my advice and immerse yourself now, because the only regret you’ll have when you listen to this album is that you didn’t find it sooner.