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Hyperspecific: August And September's Electronic Music
Christian Eede , September 22nd, 2017 13:19

For the latest edition of Hyperspecific, Christian Eede picks out recent mix highlights from Vladimir Ivkovic (pictured), Eris Drew and Jon K, and also reviews new releases from Ziúr, Machine Woman, Chekov, Perlon and more

In the last edition of this column, back in July, I used the usual introductory gambit to look back over some personal favourite mixes from the first half of the year featuring the likes of Objekt, Call Super, Anastasia Kristensen and more. Rather than use this latest column to make weeks-late cheap shots at Jeremy Underground's penchant for saunas or look at Levon Vincent's latest tone deaf social media faux pas, I thought it only right to use the space to do the same again and highlight even more great music in addition to the usual run of reviews and recommendations that follow below.

Dekmantel last week began their yearly tradition of sharing sets recorded at the Amsterdam-based August festival with a collection of sets from their Selectors Stage. Featured amongst those sets was a recording from Offen Music label head Vladimir Ivkovic, who also seriously impressed earlier this year with his contribution to Resident Advisor's weekly mix series. The recording is a journey through sometimes moody and deep, and otherwise playful, cuts heavy on psychedelia and foot-stomping percussion. As ever with Ivkovic's mixes, many of the tracks featured within are unknown to my ears - often it's hard to decipher whether he's indulging in his much-loved trick of playing obscure '90s trance records at 33rpm as was also the case during a low slung extended back-to-back with Ivan Smagghe which I had the pleasure of witnessing at last month's Houghton Festival. Opening out on the trippy synthwave of a recently released record from Komodo Kolektif and pulling it a whole host of mightily satisfying basslines as well as a considerably slowed down Joy Orbison record across its two hours, Ivkovic's Dekmantel set certainly fills the chug quota.

Moving onto a mix that actually appeared online before the publication of the last edition of this column, Smart Bar Chicago resident Eris Drew's contribution to The Bunker's mix series is a masterful journey through breakbeats, house and freestyle ranging across the last near-three decades. Across 90 minutes, Drew effortlessly places club music from 1988 next to brand new cuts from Yoshinori Hayashi, Person Of Interest and more. Unafraid to drop more well-known classics such as Gat Decor's 'Passion' and Orbital's 'Monday' in alongside lesser known material, Drew's approach to this mix firmly places the party and dancefloor as her focus. Her set at the Club Toilet party in Detroit during Movement Weekend earlier this year led to many friends raving about her skills as a DJ to me, and this mix is said to be inspired by events that occurred during that set, as well as her appearance that same week for The Bunker's own party. With a growing profile, hopefully it won't be too long before we start to see her playing before the US.

The final recommendation comes courtesy of Jon K mixing the 509th instalment of Resident Advisor's mix series. Having become a familiar fixture in his base of Manchester over the course of the last two decades, it's only recently that the DJ has been picking up the attention he deserves, playing regularly at Manchester's Hoya:Hoya parties as well as local venues like Soup Kitchen, and picking up more and more international bookings including a storming back-to-back with Joy Orbison at Dekmantel last month, which was one of the weekend's standout sets. He describes the idea behind his Resident Advisor mix as a "simple" one, saying "I play the tunes I love and try to create something that's about how the mood develops regardless of BPM or genre". The resultant mix sees Kraus navigate through EBM-indebted material by Charles Manier, forthcoming sounds from rRoxymore, spacey UK techno by Tessela and classic Warp-released music from Kenny Larkin, offering a fitting encapsulation of Jon K's DJing - unfussy but considered.

Ethereal Logic - Tales From An Extraordinary Trip
(Slow Life)

Based out of Berlin and helmed by a six-person Spanish-Italian group of DJs and friends, Slow Life has built gradually over the course of the last three years, with their 11th release, an album from Ethereal Logic, further demonstrating the label’s propensity for showcasing music that doesn’t just aim for the dancefloor. Having delivered sleek, minimal-leaning house music in recent years from producers such as S. Moreira and 100 Hz, the debut album from Ethereal Logic, the project of Indi Zone and the aforementioned S. Moreira, is an entirely ambient affair, built around immersive drones and rich, warming melodies.

Opener ‘Final Adjustments’ finds the pair twisting and contorting guitar chords around otherworldly sound design, while ‘Hidden Path’ plunges us into a sun-dappled forest with distant birdsong buried deep in the mix amongst twinkly synths and bursts of noise. ‘The Lobster And The Crab’ rather aptly takes us underwater, the track permeated by submerged, bubbling sound effects, the loops sounding like they’re gradually disintegrating as they progress. ‘Asteroid Field B121’ ticks along, underpinned by rafts of bass and blunted beats, with the later ‘Moon Turn Tides’ adding further bassweight to proceedings, the kind usually reserved for the most pleasing of DMZ records - no doubt it’d sound even better on the most capable of soundsystems. Tales From An Extraordinary Trip certainly lives up to its names guiding the listener through a number of different moods and settings across its 13 tracks, the pair that make up Ethereal Logic proving that ambient music can be equal parts odd and comforting.

Chekov - Rotlicht EP
(Peach Discs)

The debut release from Leeds-based producer Chekov marks a significant departure for its home label of Peach Discs, moving away from the shimmering house of previous records from Fred and label owner Shanti Celeste and towards a more sleazy take on techno. The record’s title track is a gnarly peak time monster, built around chunky, driving percussion and fits of harsh noise. ‘Bierce’, meanwhile, finds the producer moving into chuggier territory, driving the tempo down to a cool 116-BPM, once again making use of bulky drums that sit alongside a subtle earworm of a melody.

‘Toothru’ is the slowest of the record’s three tracks, once again making use of subtle changes over its near-six-minute runtime to make an effect. Listening through the record, Chekov’s ability to create standout dancefloor moments without resorting to obligatory builds and drops in the traditional sense of club music is particularly significant and certainly very welcome. It’s no surprise, for that reason, that Lena Willikens has been championing Chekov’s music in her DJ sets for some time with his debut on Peach Discs tapping into a sense of primal energy that proves slower dance music doesn’t have to be reserved for warming up the dancefloor.

Species Of Fishes - Trip Trap

Launched as an offshoot for her always on form трип label, Nina Kraviz’ new label GALAXIID is slanted towards more experimental and psychedelic electronic music, moving away from the hypnotic techno of its parent label. A number of reissues and new releases are promised in the future, but for now the label kicks off with a reissue of a 1996 album from Moscow duo Species of Fishes. The duo of Vitaly Stern and Igor Kolyadniy have been producing together since 1993 with Trip Trap having originally preceded a collaborative release between the pair and Muslimgauze in 1999.

Fans of Kraviz’ mix CD for fabric released late last year may recognise two of the record’s tracks with ‘Bfg9000 Vs. Barons Of Hell’ and ‘Crash Recovery’ having both made their way into the extensive list of tracks that made up her mix. The latter offers one of the record’s most serene moments, its skittering IDM drums and woozy synths making for one of the album’s highlights stretching out across 12 minutes. The former, meanwhile, is a collision of harsh drums and doom-laden drones. Elsewhere, opener ‘[Init]’ is made up of sound effects reminiscent of malfunctioning electronics, while much of the album wouldn’t have sounded out of place amongst Warp’s back catalogue around the time of the record’s release. As the debut release on GALAXIID, Trip Trap suggests Kraviz could have a lot of criminally forgotten goodies in store for the future.

Ziúr - U Feel Anything
(Planet Mu / Objects Ltd)

U Feel Anything is the debut album from Berlin-based Ziúr which sees her continue her connection with the Objects Ltd label following an early EP release, called Deeform, with the label last year, the label sharing release duties in this case with Planet Mu. Opener ‘Human Life is Not a Commodity’ pairs operatic bursts of song with distant, unintelligible voices and synths primed for a dystopian sci-fi thriller - it wouldn’t sound out of place in a Blade Runner scene. The title track following it is a more fiery beast laced with scattergun beats and warped vocal samples forming much of the track’s melodic basis.

“I believe you can only tell that something is harsh when you have a soft side to compare it to,” Ziúr says of the record, adding: “If everything is amazing then nothing is, right?” It’s an idea she explores across the album as she pairs moments of intense serenity with gut-punching drums. Aïsha Devi shares productions duties on ‘Body of Light’, which is lit up by a synth refrain that sits somewhere between trance and Jamaican dancehall. As the record progresses, the producer’s interest in placing the ‘soft’ alongside the ‘harsh’ continues to push through in slamming cuts such as ‘Don’t Buy It’ and ‘Fractals’, the latter sounds like a hybrid between emo rock and deconstructed club music. On ‘Laughing And Crying Are The Same Things’, meanwhile, Ziúr pairs strings with some of the record’s most straight-up songwriting courtesy of vocals from Zhala. U Feel Anything is an astounding debut album from a producer with only two previous EPs to her name, cementing Ziúr’s placing as one of the most remarkable voices working within the perimeters of experimental club music.

Various - Superlongevity 6

The most extensive yet of Perlon’s ongoing Superlongevity series, sitting at 18 tracks, the German label calls upon faces old and new to contribute for the sixth volume, and there’s not a single dud in sight. That’s business as usual though from a label that has consistently been delivering the best minimal-rooted techno for some two decades now. Highlights come from all corners, with Bodycode’s ‘Synchronized Sleep’ built around a finely crafted, shifting acid line, while Margaret Dygas follows her excellent 2016 release with the label with a playfully hypnotic cut, all trippy bleeps and blunted drums.

An all-star cast, there are also efforts from Ricardo Villalobos, Binh, Soul Capsule, Baby Ford and Thomas Melchior. Villalobos’ contribution, ‘Gono Fuznk’, is one of the record’s most far out moments with its garbled vocal samples), while Binh's ‘Wochenbett’ sees him continue to explore the territory between electro and minimal techno as he has done on recent releases for Perlon, My Own Jupiter and his own Time Passages label. Elsewhere, Soul Capsule’s ‘Them Yeah’ proves that a monstrous bassline can go a long way, while Sammy Dee’s ‘Marvin Goes Savage Deep’ offers a moment of introspection. Ultimately, Superlongevity 6 proves that Perlon still very much has it 20 years into its existence, the new class rubbing shoulders very harmoniously with the old guard.

Machine Woman - When Lobster Comes Home

On her 2016 record for Where To Now?, Genau House, Machine Woman took inspiration from failed Tinder dates and the disappointment of being turned away from Berlin clubs, but the opening track on her latest record, marking her first release with Ninja Tune offshoot Technicolour, suggests she’s somewhat more comfortable in the city’s clubs now. ‘Camille From OHM Makes Me Feel Loved’ is a dazzling dancefloor cut filled with defected vocal samples, crisp kick drums and dreamy pads that call to mind recent Joy Orbison material, with the Russian producer sounding more accessible than ever and pulling it off with style.

Outdoing herself in the track title stakes on the record’s flipside, ‘I Want To Fuck Tech House’ sounds like a 21st century bastardisation of ‘90s rave music in the best way possible, finding satisfaction in the repetition of its bass loops coming off like a Sheffield bleep-era deep cut. The record’s third track, ‘But It Was Like 30 Intros In A Row’ is apparently named in response to a negative comment left on Facebook about a live performance by the producer. Here, she aptly serves up the most esoteric of the record’s offerings, letting loose with what sounds like a more abstract jam in contrast to the EP’s other two tracks. Above all, When Lobster Comes Home sees Machine Woman find a perfect balance between not taking herself too seriously while also delivering three killer techno cuts primed for dancefloors that don’t solely rely on humour to do the talking.