Minimal and deep with Romania's NTFO

‘Ro-minimal’ is the often used term to describe the unique blend of minimal techno and micro house crafted within Romania’s boarders. Pioneering DJ / producers Rhadoo, Inspirescu and Raresh worked within a tight knit community to build early iterations of the sound throughout the 90s and 2000s. But it wasn’t until 2006 when the wider world began to take notice, thanks largely to Chilean-born techno trailblazer Ricardo Villalobos. Booked to play an event in Bucharest with Raresh as the opener, Villalobos was so impressed with the encyclopaedic musical knowledge of the local producer / DJ that upon returning to Germany he advised Cocoon (his booking agency at the time) to immediately add Raresh to the roster.

Then in 2007, a much-needed platform for the rapidly growing home-grown sound was created with ‘Sunwaves’ festival. A 5 day festival on the picturesque Black Sea Coast in Mamaia, it’s quickly garnered international attention for it’s excellent lineups, lengthy sets and passionate crowds.

As the Ro-minimal sound keeps evolving, it will no doubt continue to be characterized by it’s strong local community and eclectic, drawn-out sonic modulations. And today’s guests- NTFO, certainly fits the bill as being a continuation of this dynamic, minimal Romanian sound.

The duo’s recent release ‘Dobr’ serves as an excellent entry point not only into this unique minimal sub-genre, but also into their already rich personal discography. The EP opens with the title track ‘Dobr’ establishing the clean and technical approach that unfolds throughout release. With just the right amount of coloration within the mechanical framework, Dobr EP is a shining example of not only the underground electronic scene in this region of the world but also of two experienced musicians at the peak of the powers.

Grab the EP- vinyl and digital

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Exploring Far Away Galaxies with Voyager II

Just as various elements continually mix throughout our solar system, London electronic jazz duo ‘Voyager II’ coalesce different sounds and styles into their own unique musical blend. With Eamon Foreman on Guitar and Sergiu Fanica on Drums, the duo take an organic and uncluttered approach to spacey electronica with hints of their jazz roots shining though.

’Falling’ harnesses the spontaneous energy of the duo featuring live takes of both drums and guitar to give the track a kind of natural and unedited energy. With a dynamic and smooth mixdown courtesy of Marcin Cichy, the track really breathes with a kind of coherence while just the right amount of drum saturation keeps the syncopated rhythms up front. It’s the kind of track that achieves that rare balance of technical and musical prowess and reminds us that perhaps it doesn’t take a spaceship to experience moments of weightlessness.

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London's Sleepless finds his Flow state

Enigmatic Jazzy beat producer ‘Sleepless’ swings through the blog once again following up last years release of his album Serene.

And it’s no wonder he keeps popping up on countless blogs, channels and playlists; his sound, aesthetic and consistency in crafting infectious jazzy hip-hop is second to none.

His recent single ‘Flow State’ showcases his own unique take on the genre- forgoing sampling and chopping techniques for a dynamic take of entirely live instrumentation. ‘Flow State’ succinctly expresses that creative headspace that all artists aim to achieve, where logic and rationality give way to instinct and spontaneity. It’s one of those tracks that sounds almost as if it could have written itself, bringing with it an organic groove and natural connectedness of each musical element. But somewhere in between those smooth horns and cascading keys we know there’s a music producer steadily carving out his own air of effortlessness.

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Datach'i finds another way to process death with 'Bones'

Longtime electronic producer Datach’i has a new album coming titled ‘Bones’, and while new music by great producers is usually cause for celebration, for Datach’i, it is a sombre moment. The album is a deeply personal reflection, made during the producer’s father’s battle with cancer and recent passing. The album releases 26th July 2019 on Planet Mu subsidiary label Timesig, but today we get to hear the 4th track from the album, ‘Rockledge 3A.’

You may think that writing music during such a difficult moment in life would produce decidedly darkly coloured music, but Datach’i shows us that there are other ways to process death. The intimacy of Rockledge 3A is readily apparent; however, it is also surprisingly upbeat. Synthetic polyrhythms abound, and warm, analog chords create an all-encompassing optimism, perhaps channeling an appreciation for what once was, rather than dwelling on what is no longer. Like Datach’i’s last album, ‘System,’ Bones was written, sequenced, and produced entirely within his custom-built modular system. Typically, modular-based music tends to lean on the side of dense and technical, but Datach’i’s musical touch instead imbues Bones with an emotionally rich palette. Clearly, he would rather prioritize sensitivity and intuitive appeal over rugged complexity, and it makes for a wonderfully listenable introduction to the album, despite, or perhaps in common cause of, the heaviness of its subject matter.

You can stream Rockledge 3A above, and if you like it, be sure to pre-order Bones via bandcamp for access to limited edition bonus materials, including the chance to win a TipTop Audio 'One' Modular sampler.

— review by autonomy

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Trentemøller aims for something different with 'Sleeper'

At this point in his career, what hasn’t Trentemøller accomplished? Throughout his ouvre, the Copenhagen-based musician has never failed to evolve his sound with each release, while at the same time maintaining the musical sensibilities that has made his sound his very own. That balance of exploring new forms and staying true to himself has only grown his fanbase over the years, as evidenced by a completely sold-out world tour in support of his last album. Today, we get a taste of his first original music since 2017 with the single, ‘Sleeper.’

As you may have guessed from the lush-yet-bleak video above, Sleeper lives far from the banner of ‘indie-electronic’ that has acted as a catch-all for Trentemøller’s various sounds thus far. While he has always had a preternatural knack for arranging compositions that build to satisfying crescendos, Sleeper also progresses in a decidedly orchestral manner. In fact, we don’t even hear a percussive element until halfway into the track, and even then, it is only minimally audible. But Trentemøller hallmarks are yet ever-present, from his signature detuned synths to his lush, harmonic atmospheres. All of these elements coalesce into a beautiful, if subtle, reflection that feels at once melancholic and nostalgic. In other words, it fits its title perfectly.

You can stream Sleeper over on Spotify, or download a copy for yourself on Trentemøller’s Bandcamp.

— review by autonomy

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Abstract Breaks from the Jungles of Switzerland

Born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland and a self proclaimed ‘Junglist’ since day one, it didn’t take long for Dser to find himself behind the decks and in the studio mixing and chopping up some his own breakbeat creations. After buying his first pair of decks in early 2000 he quickly became a resident at Geneva’s famed “Le Zoo” (L'Usine) club and became the driving force behind the regular “Back to Jungle” event series, hosting scene heavyweights like Dillinja, Fabio & Grooverider and Nicky Blackmarket.

But it wasn’t until 2019, when his slower paced, abstract break-driven side productions caught the attention of Swiss electronic label Diffract Records. The label was naturally attracted to this rought-cut and spontaneous sound and worked together with Dser to release his 6 track album ‘Arithmetic Progression’ which dropped just last month both digitally and on 12” vinyl.

Utilizing a variety of old-skool analog samplers and instruments, the album brings with it certain notes of nostalgia akin to early Bonobo, Ninjatune and Mowax productions. From the crunchy drums of the opening track ‘Earth from Space’ to the jungle jazz rhythms of ‘Rise Up’ the album serves as a diverse and varied breakbeat buffet destined to swoon even the most hardcore of amen addicts.

Grab Arithmetic Progression over on the Diffract Records Bandcamp and stay up to date with Dser below.

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Christopher Willits crafts music for experiences with 'Coast'

Fixture of the SF ambient/experimental scene and Ghostly International mainstay Christopher Willits is back with a forthcoming album titled ‘Sunset,’ an apt name for an album that he has given very specific instructions for listening: "Begin the music 15 minutes before the sun sets." The album releases on the 14th June 2019, but Ghostly has given us a peek inside by releasing a track from the album, ‘Coast.’

Willits’ music has always had a visual aspect to it, but only in the last few years has that become more explicit, such as with his 2014 album ‘Opening’, released explicitly as a visual album. And now, almost as a modal extension, Willits moves from the visual realm to the experiential. The album tracks with the setting sun, moving from warm to cool, and offering a sort of closure to the day. The track ‘Coast’, the 2nd on the album, indeed starts warm and lush, rolling and evolving with layers upon layers of washed out guitar, and ends with just the hint of airy rhythm that surely signals the encroaching darkness to come. We’ve got a few sunsets to go before June 14, but you would do yourself well to accompany those after with this album.

Stream ‘Coast’ above, and head over to the Ghostly International website to pre-order the full album.

— review by autonomy

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Atelier Pink Noise finds solace in quietude with 'Meditation of silence'

Continuing in the rich tradition of Japanese ambient, environmental, and new age music, Atelier Pink Noise releases a brand new full-length, 58-minute long album titled ‘Draw a Sleeps.’ Today, we get to listen to a selection from the album, a track titled ‘Meditation of silence.’ For the uninitiated, pink noise is a mathematical noise function that is perceived very similarly to soundscapes found in nature, such as waterfalls.

Atelier Pink Noise, however, instead of using pink noise in his compositions, goes straight to the source and samples the world around him. The sounds of forests, water, small animals, and more reverberate through his compositions, processed and warped to evoke new aural worlds, excitingly fresh yet still intimately familiar. APN blends these sources beautifully with rich, uplifting synth chords that are nominally abstract, but still manages to provoke a narrative within the mind, if one focuses clearly enough. Indeed, I would invite you to experience this track, as well as the rest of the album, in a peaceful and intimate setting, with the lights low and your eyes closed. Perhaps you’ll even see the natural sources from which these sounds originated from.

Stream ‘Meditation of silence’ above, and listen to the entire album over on Spotify.

— review by autonomy

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octo17 experiments with hybrid forms on 'playtest'

Russian producer octo17 returns to the ADSR blog with a new track titled ‘playtest’, a hybrid form that takes elements from electro, deep house, and hip hop. The rhythm is unmistakably electro, with thick kicks and a boom-bap beat; but the pads and melodic elements are certainly more common in the deeper end of house music. And to round it out, the rap vocal samples give it an extra bit of swagger that will have you bobbing your head to the beat in no time.

Everything comes together to invoke, perhaps, early Drexciya, with their organic-yet-foreign, sunk-in-the-ocean pioneering form of electro. And yet, octo17 still flexes his modern production chops, creating a balanced frequency range that thumps in the lows and tickles in the highs. Combined with some unique atmospherics and well-tuned delays, the track rolls along nicely and would be hard pressed to keep anyone still on the dancefloor.

— review by autonomy

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Dualizm Proves that 'Cheap Whiskey' can still be Sweet

Our regular readers will recognize the name ‘Dualizm’ from our writeup about his release ‘An Ounce of Rain’ a couple months back. And there’s good reason his name keeps popping up. Crisp production, quality samples and a fleeting sense of nostalgia encircle his tracks like slowly drifting smoke rings.

The Berlin-based beatmaker has worked with an impressive lineup of both local and international artists and has written music for film and television productions. Which really all makes sense looking at the quality and quantity of his output, with new music coming out monthly it’s no wonder his tracks have a honed sound and effortless swing.

That unique sound can definitely be heard in today’s feature which Dualizm describes as “one of my most jazzy tracks.” “Cheap Whiskey” was actually supposed to be on his recent album ‘Project R. vol.3’ but feeling that it stood out from the bunch too much, he instead decided to release it as a single.

Whether you like it straight or on the rocks, single malt or blended, “Cheap Whiskey” is definitely the perfect smooth sipper to cap off a long day.

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