Modulations from the future with Romania's 'Electrons in Slow Motion'

Electrons in Slow Motion (EISM) is a cross-genre electronic project developed by Bucharest-born artist/producer Marius Copel. Combining analog synths with sparse soundscapes, Copel weaves immersive audio environments rich in dissonant drones, field recordings, and far-off arpeggiations. One part sci-fi dream world and one part distant dystopian universe, EISM dabs from his monochrome palette to create a sound that is uniquely his own.

His recently released debut album ‘Ecstatic Technologies’ boils down these central themes and concepts into a cohesive 8 track journey into the abyss. The album opens with ‘Breaking Eleusis’ which Marius describes as a “virtual pilgrimage to an ancient site”. Electronic chatter contrasts with reverb-soaked keys to slowly draw the listener into this mysterious and enigmatic world. The journey continues through a number of environments ranging from the subdued sounds of ‘Nyonoksa’ to the more tumultuous, beat-driven ‘Satomi’.

I would even go so far as to call the release a kind of ‘concept album’ as the tracks flow so well together and feature a steady narrative throughout. Marius describes the tracks as some sort of “sonic vehicle” or “machine” each with a unique initiation stage, environment and context. Regardless of the descriptor, ‘Ecstatic Technologies’ by Electrons in Slow Motion shows us that perhaps the future is closer than we think.

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A Delicate Discourse with Richard Luke's 'Glass Island'

Glasgow-based composer and producer Richard Luke joins forces with violinist Amira Bedrush-McDonald for what can only be described as a neo-classical tour de force with their latest album ‘Glass Island.’
The 12 track release explores the tensions of living on an island in the wake of referendums on leaving the EU and Scottish independence. Such real-world uncertainties can be felt directly through the sombre-yet hopeful tone of the delicately crafted album.

Tackling such complex emotional-political issues isn’t an easy task, and the album largely triumphs due to it’s diverse sound design palette. Combining the strengths of both acoustic and electronic instruments, ‘Glass Island’ achieves both a visceral depth and immediate sensitivity that only such a wide range of musical language can bring. Seemingly contrasting vibrations are carefully crafted and placed in a such a way that these traditional and modern elements cease to exist as separate entities.

The diverse elements ebb and flow throughout the album, creating a listening experience that is both innovative and enchanting from start to finish. From the rich analog synthesizer notes in ‘Décembre’ to the largely acoustic soundscapes of ‘Time Moves’ and ‘Last to Let Go’ the album unfolds naturally and organically combining colours and tones throughout the journey.

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Jakspin consults the heavens for new EP series 'Zodiax'

German producer Jakspin harnesses the power of the stars for the first of four EPs entitled ‘Zodiax’. The release series focuses on ancient knowledge presented through the 4 basic elements alongside traditional aspects of astrology. The first instalment of the series entitled ‘Zodiax I’ takes pisces, cancer, scorpio and their common element of water and boils them all down into easily digestible lofi landscapes.

Featuring not only a well-thought out cohesive concept but also some tightly-knit sonic terrain, ‘Zodiax I’ cruises through a series of 4 tracks, each with their own unique shimmer and shine. Water, being the unifying element, seems an appropriate opener to the album and serves as a firmly rooted beat amid layers of well-crafted distortion and melodies. ‘Pisces’ then continues the interstellar experience with a steady foundation of low frequencies set against a backdrop of bubbling aqua and gently placed textures. ‘Scorpio’ finally concludes the orbital journey with a thumping beat next to floaty xylophone notes tied together with an overall air of repose.

You don’t have to be an astrological expert to know that the future of this series brings nothing but solid listening and good vibes.

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Enter the Hi-Tech Lounge Life of Yarck with 'Untangle'

Yarck kicks off a brand new music project with a single entitled “Untangle,” which you can stream above. Yarck draws inspiration from all the big cats of IDM and experimental electronics like Aphex Twin, FlyLo, and Björk, (I also hear elements of early Amon Tobin or Autechre) which is surely evident in his approach to glitchy percussion and unpredictable rhythmic lurches that evolve and coalesce throughout the track. but what I find most striking about it are the melodic elements. Evolving pads glide in and out and bird-like stabs float about, invoking an unmistakable lounge music vibe. But while the ‘lounge’ descriptor has always had a slightly pejorative connotation to it, for its tendency to be inoffensive filler music, Yarck elevates the motif and places it somewhere in the future. This is music that would grace the gritty blue-collar lounge of an off-world trading post.

Yarck has a lot planned for the future, including a self-made music video for Untangle, which will be out in the near future. Keep up with him on the socials and you won’t miss a beat.

— review by Autonomy

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Emancipator & 9 Theory stick together like buds on 'Cheeba Gold'

What happens when two of the most reliable stalwarts of the west coast indie beat scene come together for a collab? You find gold. Cheeba Gold, that is, the result of a 4-day studio session between Portland’s Emancipator and LA’s 9 Theory. The collab makes a lot of sense musically; these two have been pushing lush, organic, laid back beats for so long now that it’s become one of the signature sounds of electronic music in the PNW, gracing festival stages and outdoor events for over a decade.

On the EP Cheeba Gold, no doubt a product of the title’s slang allusion, the two musicians find effortless rhythms with rich percussive elements, and lush timbric harmonies that showcase both their sense of musicality and deft instrumental skills. These guys know exactly the kind of sound they want to make, and it’s clear on Cheeba Gold that they are operating in top form.

RIYL: Bonobo, Tycho, Thievery Corporation

Cheeba Gold is out now on digital platforms, and if you really like it, a 12” vinyl is available from Loci Records.

— review by autonomy

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Quebec city's Gramofaune blends the electronic and acoustic in new album 'Fear Not'

Gramofaune is the project of Gabriel Gagné, a musician and producer based in Quebec City. Originally a classical guitarist, it wasn’t until Gabriel heard artists like Bonobo and Four Tet that he started experimenting with more electronic soundscapes. His compositions are characterized by their diverse sound design palette ; melding acoustic and electronic elements to form deeply moving emotive collages.

His new album ‘Fear Not’ is a smattering of finely tuned electronic environments to lose yourself in. 10 tracks of tastefully prepared landscapes rich in micro percussion, voltage charged melodies, and the occasional acoustic expression. The album is a definite start-to-finish listen that offers up a new sonic treasure around each twist and turn. Featuring a number of musical guests such as: Étienne Masson (drums on "Trails") Philippe Gagné (handpan on "Grande Faune") Pascal Ouellet (dulcimer on "For Pascal") and La Renarde (voice on "Entanglement") - these collaborations add another dimension to an already stellar album.

Support ‘Fear Not’ on Bandcamp or stream it on Spotify

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Audio of the Urban with Sweden's Victor Öberg

Victor Öberg is an urban planner and musician residing in the southern most part of Sweden. His music goes hand in hand with his research, and focuses heavily on interpreting urban issues mainly concerning urban alienation and identity creation of both people and place in urban society.

Utilizing an array of hardware effects and modular synths, Victor designs and configures sonic environments to reflect these urban issues. His Instagram features a variety of dawless jams and sketches pleasing to both the audio and visual palette. Today’s track ‘Insula’ serves as a progression from these shorter jams into what will be Victor’s first solo album set to release later this year.

Insula features a minimal landscape of plucked arpeggiation, undulating clouds of noise, and rich resonant harmonies. A kind of playful utilitarianism permeates throughout the track, which really shows Öberg’s concept coming into fruition. ”The song itself is a brief sketch of the insula as a building type; part home part business. A concept that has shaped the way we think of city centers throughout history."

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Robot Koch delivers an elevated piece of emotive electronica in 'Movement I'

Robot Koch is a Berlin born, Los Angeles based artist/composer who has cultivated a dream list of career achievements that would humble most successful artists these days. I could easily write pages about the gigs, collabs, labels, and awards but instead will leave this upto the inquisitive reader. I will however reference a quote from the late John Peel who described his music as “Strange and wonderful pop music from the future” because it’s a good segue into my impressions of his music. 

‘Movement I’ is simply a highly emotive piece of electronica that grabs you from the first note and wraps it's arms around you in the most intense embrace and doesn’t let go until it’s last phrase. The opening three repeating notes almost have the same reverence as a John Williams or Carpenter theme. There is something profound and transcendent about the repeating notes and their effect on our senses. While it would be easy to reference the impact of this kind of notation from such iconic, classic 70’s horror sound tracks it wouldn’t be an accurate comparison because these theme tunes are minimalistic and draw on a sparse sensibility to create tension and dread. ‘Movement I’ does quite the opposite, it creates warmth, melancholy and hope. Offset from the somber melody and opening urgency are lush layers of reversed vocals, soaring synth lines and flourishes of orchestral rapture that whisk you into a frenzy until it’s abrupt end. What you are left with is a piece of electronica that has the emotional range of a film score while being rooted in genre production styles that gives a piece of music like ‘Movement I’ that kind of awe that warrants all of the above dream list achievements. 

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Neu Balance wears his heart on his sleeve for 'In my life I've loved them all'

Neu Balance, one of Vancouver’s great breakout artists from the heyday of 1080p recordings, is back with a second full-length album, this time for the Seattle label Budget Cuts Records & Tapes. Despite retaining the name Neu Balance, however, this album is anything but the same rubbery, lurching, hazed out sounds of the first album, “Rubber Sole.” After the departure of Sebastian Davidson for solo works, Sam Beatch seems to have taken the opportunity of full control at the helm to branch out and collaborate in all directions. This new album, titled “In my life, I’ve loved them all,” includes a whole host of features by fellow producers, session musicians, and vocalists. They all work in tandem to expand the NB sound palette considerably, and coalesce into a polished, coherent, and smooth listen right from the first play.

The sound is still unmistakably PNW, but where Rubber Sole felt idiosyncratic and rhythmically experimental, In my Life, I’ve loved them all finds a confident unification of ideas. Track arrangements feel much more natural, the production is precise, and the emotional resonance of the compositions shine bright through it all. This is intuitive music; it prioritizes feeling over thinking, and the result is entirely sumptuous to consume.

Get a taste up above by streaming “I left my body alone with you,” featuring vocalist Forever, and hop over to Budget Cuts’ Bandcamp to get a copy for yourself.

— review by autonomy

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A modern made in Japan classic with Sweet William's 'Jasmine Instrumentals'

Born in 1990, producer / beatmaker from Aichi Prefecture Sweet William took the Japanese hip hop scene by storm alongside Okinawan MC 唾奇 (Tsubaki) - with the release of their album ‘Jasmine’ in 2017.

The release received widespread support, largely for it’s smooth, expertly-crafted beats and head-nodding lyrical wordplay. But in many ways, it is the album’s deep and personal approach that makes it an honest gem of Japanese modern music. The album’s title ‘Jasmine’ refers to the local tea of Okinawa, which has been a favourite drink on the islands since the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom for hundreds of years. The title sums up the sound and feel of the album well: a refreshing and fragrant experience with notes of nostalgia. The release is an invigorating start to finish listen with guest appearances from Fukuoka-born singer Kiki vivi lily and Tokyo rapper Jinmenusagi.

Following up this modern day classic is a recently released fresh perspective on the album - Jasmine Instrumentals. Stripping away all the extras to let Sweet William’s meticulous productions speak for themselves, the album contains velvety keys, crunchy beats and crisp samples. There’s even a bonus beat ‘Walkin’ (above) not previously found on the original album.

’Jasmine Instrumentals’ is highly recommended for any hip hop head, beat scene fan, or someone who just needs a good chill after a long week.

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