Robot Orchestra leads the way to space with 'Strange Beauty'

Like a rocket launching to space, brand-new German label Block Opera hits us with a kick-off compilation titled ‘Cosmic Void’. Seemingly inspired by the Voyager spacecraft’s iconic golden records, a send-off to would-be extra-terrestrials, Cosmic Void collects tracks from artists from around Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, to be pulled from the march of time and held in posterity for some unknown future. The compilation releases the 5th of July, but today we get a sneak peak at one of the tracks, Robot Orchestra’s ‘Strange Beauty’.

Germany’s thriving beat scene can trace its roots back to LA in a myriad of ways, but the track from Cologne producer Robot Orchestra, ‘Strange Beauty’, seems almost directly connected to the sound that was defined by the recently-defunct institution Low End Theory. Artists such as Lorn and Dorian Concept spring to mind, the latter of whom is also Austrian himself. The beats have a west coast swagger, the lead synth is pure retro-space-future, and the harmonies are sidechained to the moon and back for a lurching composition that certainly lives up to the Robot Orchestra moniker. If, like Sun Ra, space is your place, give a listen to Strange Beauty above, and keep an eye out for the full compilation from Block Opera, dropping digitally and on double-LP vinyl, 5 July 2019.

— review by @autonomy

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David Löhlein delivers broody, driving goodness in 'Exo'

David Löhlein is a producer, DJ and promoter from Stuttgart Germany. Starting his love affair with music at twelve years old by playing the trumpet, his passion for music grew into full realization when he discovered electronic music in his late teens. From there he decided to become an active member of his community by throwing events before developing into a well rounded DJ and producer. You can find many of his releases on; Vision Ekstae, Gynoid Audio, Translucent, and Counter Pulse. 

David has crafted a trademark sound for deep and dark driving techno and In his latest title track from his ‘Exo’ Ep, David delivers a groover that is perfect for building tension and atmosphere in any big room setting. ‘Exo’ would not be out of place on a release run from labels such as Bush, Blueprint and Drumcode back in their heyday in the mid-late 90s. ‘Exo’ is full of warmth while remaining broody and full of purpose. Field recorded ambient sounds give a sense of danger while the chopped and delayed vocal offers a sultry and grounding release from the darker elements giving the track a well rounded feel while still being singular in its intension to forge atmosphere.

‘Exo’ working perfectly as a reliable builder for moments before you plan to take the roof off the place. A solid release from a consistent producer who has a strong focus on delivering exciting, high energy, dynamic techno. Perfect for your library of weekend bangers. 

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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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Sublime simplicity from Berlin Composer Jonas Hain

WIth the almost unlimited sonic possibilities at the fingertips of today’s producers it’s refreshing to hear a composer go back to the basics of strictly expressive instrumentation and emotive musicality. And this is exactly what 27 year old Berlin based composer and pianist does with his recent track MMXV.

Originally written for a director friend’s film project with an imminent deadline, the track was quickly composed in 2015 over a single night of spontaneous creative composition. Afterwards, Jonas still felt that something was missing, so he recorded a synth and added a bassline to serve as the counterpoint to the stark, organic piano arrangement.

Although just a brief 2 and a half minutes long, MMXV serves as an excellent introduction into the music of the young German composer. Emotive piano notes fall like a blanket of fresh snow as the electronic counterpoint provides some synthesized heat. Excellent use of panning as the piano and synth lines communicate back and forth for a memorable lesson in sublime simplicity.

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Tape-tinged techno from audio/visual creative- Daniel Brandt

London / Berlin based filmmaker, composer, and musician- Daniel Brandt, is set to release his second full length solo album ‘Channels’ on October 12th via London imprint- Erased Tapes. As co-founder of the infamous ‘Brandt Brauer Frick’ trio which has been dubbed by the BBC as “concert hall compositions for the clubbing generation”, Brandt is no stranger to intricate and impeccably executed studio productions and live music performances. As both a filmmaker and musician, this multi-disciplinary creative approach ensures an inventive and original artistic output where boundaries are blurred and inspiration spontaneous.

Take the most immersive, club-ready track ‘Sailboats III’ from the album for example. As Brandt explains:

“The song is named after a painting by Roy Lichtenstein which is not one of his typical ones but rather a kind of abstract cubist painting of sailboats on the sea. I wanted to make a song that feels like an electrified sailing voyage and tried to imitate the feeling of this imagined trip.”

This type of cross-disciplinary creative communication is a common thread throughout the album, with many of the tracks referencing rich visual palettes. The blossoming cosmos of ‘Cherry Dream’ is informed by Tangerine Dream’s iconic soundtrack to the film Risky Business, a compelling reinterpretation of Love On A Real Train replete with darker, electronic elements and live orchestration. ‘Daze’, co-written with guitarist Pascal Bideau, chimes with an acoustic melody and is carried by a rhythmic percussive pulse, whilst the understated ‘Ltd’ was stylistically inspired by Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint.

As we can see the album draws from a variety of sources and creative ideas, but still manages to remain original and organic, with an almost effortless spontaneity to it. Perhaps Lichtenstein said it best when he stated “Art doesn't transform. It just plain forms”.

Pre-order ‘Channels’ over on the Erased Tapes Bandcamp

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New release from Cristian Vogel's live-to-tape alias 'NEL'

Vogel first came to prominence in the techno scene when he issued two EPs on Dave Clarke's Magnetic North Records label in 1994. After further solo EPs and collaborations with emerging UK techno artists such as Neil Landstrumm and Dave Tarrida, Vogel released his debut full-length, Beginning to Understand, in 1994 on Mille Plateaux, and subsequently became the first UK techno artist to be signed to Berlin's Tresor Records. He also started the vinyl only label ‘Mosquito’ with Si Begg, on which he released both his own music and other artists', and is considered to be one of the main founders of the No-Future collective that was active in Brighton during the mid-nineties. Alongside Jamie Lidell, he formed the group Super Collider, who released two albums and Cristian also sang and played guitar in his band project Night of the Brain, whilst continuing to maintain a presence on the underground techno scene. 

Over a 20-year career, Vogel has been sought after as a remixer and album producer, having worked with artists such as Radiohead, Maxïmo Park, Chicks on Speed, and Thom Yorke. With further studio albums released on Novamute in the late noughties and albums for Sub Rosa, his most recent run of ‘techno’ productions culminated in a trilogy of long-players for Shitkatapult, ending with ‘The Assistenz’ in 2016. 

His NEL project (NeverEngine Labs) was launched at the beginning of 2018 on EPMMusic, which has seen Cristian develop a different studio process to his album work and recent sound design compositions. While work under his own name will continue to explore new stylistic and experimental territories, the NEL tracks bear a closer resemblance to his earlier production style. The new pen name will be used for studio sessions created in a hands on, live-to-tape process primarily using Modular synths. “The sound is characterized by analog rhythms, textures and beats with an improvised flow.”

This spirit of improvisation and raw rhythms are summed up perfectly in his recent release ‘Jelly Vision EP.’ 4 tracks of live and eclectic recordings from Vogel’s studio, rich in rough, uncut textures, rhythms and soundscapes. The release skillfully balances spontaneity with coherent arrangements, clever sound design, and undeniable infectious grooves. Vogel proves with his ‘NEL’ alias that going back to basics is not only about drawing from the past, but is equally about the limitless creative potential of the future.

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Idm-tinged ambient-techno from German duo 'qrauer'

Creating a variety of left leaning electronica, from micro house to ambient techno, Christian Grochau and Ludwig Bauer aka qrauer are a breath of fresh air in the often formulaic world of modern dance music. With a 4/4 framework driving their tracks, the duo’s productions are heavy on lush sound design and sonic experimentation while remaining reined in enough to sit comfortably within an eclectic DJ set.

With both Christian and Ludwig coming from strong musical backgrounds, Christian being a virtuosic percussionist and Ludwig being a skilled pianist, composer and multi-instrumentalist, the two are able to find the perfect balance between danceable musicality and genre pushing electronic aesthetics.

Their debut EP ‘Aracus’ fully harnesses the duo’s creative powers and concentrates them into 4 tracks of organic sidewinder rhythms and awe-inspiring moments of cinematic brilliance. Brokebone is the concluding track of the album, with an off-kilter chorus of impressively honed percussive elements and richly coloured brutish leads, the track wraps up the EP nicely while leaving us hungry for the next sonic ‘tour de force’ from the ingenious German duo.

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Synth-rich slow house from Berlin's- Brigade

Berlin producer/DJ duo Brigade release new single "From Dogs We Come", an entrancing synth-heavy groove which takes the listener on a meandering journey through primal beats and muted guitars. 

Moving past Berlin's standard fare of industrial techno and monochrome fashion, Brigade's music is a breath of fresh air in the creatively saturated German capital. Performing spontaneous and funky livesets the duo's music is jazzy, eclectic, and just plain fun.

As an active part of the Berlin based 'Keller' label family, Brigade maintains a steady schedule of creative collaborations and live performances. The creative collective shares the mantra of 'Breaking down the barriers between melodic techno and deep house, our releases explore the unknown territories of sound.' 

Aside from Keller, Brigade has also released on a number of quality German imprints such as Parquet Recordings, 3000 Grad, and now also Majestic Casual. 

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Seattle's Anomie Belle 'Flux' album gets remixed

Anomie Belle is an American multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter and producer from Seattle who has been making music for about as long as she can remember. Growing up playing violin and writing songs, Anomie has developed a unique musical style resulting from the amalgamation of a number of genres and sounds. Incorporating elements of electronica, pop, experimental and soul, Belle creates unique sonic patchworks of complexity and emotion. 

Her 2017 multimedia album and artbook entitled 'Flux' made waves within domestic and international music circles gaining high praise from KEXP, BBC6 and Exclaim. The concept was perhaps as interesting as the result, with each track of the album paired with a different work of art from an international array of painters and illustrators. 

Now 'Flux remixed' aims to recreate the magic once again, aiming high with an all start cast of artists and musicians ready to reinterpret the seminal album. With a deep and varied remix roster made up of names such as: Antibalas, Prefuse 73, Blockhead, Robot Koch, Daisuke Tanabe, Monolake and more. the remix album promises to be just as innovate and groundbreaking as the original.   

Today we present a special sneak peak of the upcoming album set to release this December. The remix coming from an artist who requires no introduction; German born, LA based composer, producer and artist - Robert Koch aka Robot Koch. The west coast based producer takes a tastefully minimal approach alongside Belle to weave a sonic narrative full of bassy kicks, plucked strings and textured atmospheres. 

Flux Remixed is set to release Dec. 7 on Diving Bell Recording Co. 
Stay tuned to their website for upcoming announcements.  

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Indie Electronica from Hamburg's Lukas Oppenheimer

Lukas Oppenheimer is a musician originally from Hamburg, Germany currently studying computer science and making music on the side in Berlin. Growing up with an American mother and German father gave Lukas a unique cultural perspective from a very young age. Whether it be his open-minded approach to music or travel, his family upbringing exposed him to both European and American walks of life. 

Throughout his youth, Lukas always enjoyed playing instruments and experimenting with music. Whether it was bass, guitar, drums or old synths, Oppenheimer naturally took to being creative with sound. But it wasn't until he was 11 and got a copy of FL Studio that he began down the path of an electronic music producer.

Starting out making unconventional music and sound experiments, it was more the process of creating than the result that intrigued Lukas. To this day he carries that same kind of curiosity and creative energy, often incorporating new outboard gear and workflow into his production setup.

'Never Thought' certainly contains this creative spirit and unique, inquisitive approach.  The track is a 6 minute sonic adventure, progressing through experimental atmospheres, deep rhythms and emotional keys. 

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