Hyperspecific: Dance Music For November Reviewed By Jaša Bužinel

Jaša Bužinel rounds up another month in electronic music, reviewing outstanding new releases from Rhyw, Ayesha, Lenhart Tapes, Adela Mede and more


Adela Mede – Ne Lépj A Virágra
(Warm Winters Ltd.)

In recent weeks, the second album by Slovak-Hungarian musician, singer and producer has been my soul medicine. Aesthetically, it emerges from the hyperspecific Central European sensibilities that inform regional leftfield music scenes between the Baltic and the Balkans. Here, the intersection between folk, modern classical, minimalism, drone, field recording and experimental electronic music has been a go-to area for many artists, including Polish talent Martyna Basta, who also appears on this record on the haunting piece ‘Hol A Tavasz’. I particularly enjoy the intricate techniques that Mede employs to process and expand her vocals around which most compositions revolve. There’s something timeless about it. Singing in Slovak, Hungarian, English and Italian, her voice hypnotizingly intertwines, untangles, harmonises and disharmonises, creating chimeric, sirenic, and angelic vocal lines, at times quite alien, elsewhere more folkloric, even operatic. Compositions fluctuate between melancholy tones conjured via the distinct timbre of the accordion (played by Jakub Smiček) and more "spectral", hauntological vibes, as if ghosts of ancient folk traditions haunt her contemporary creations. While songs vary in arrangements (some more sparse and dynamic, some more loopy and skeletal) there’s a very pronounced narrative structure between opener ‘Sing With Me’ and epilogue ‘Sing With Us’, making Ne Lépj a Virágra a pleasingly transportative experience.

Ayesha – Rhythm is Memory
(Kindergarten Records)

Since her debut in 2020, the Indian-American DJ/producer has been steadily gaining recognition both as an extremely lucid producer releasing gargantuan breaky rollers like ‘We Be Bubblin’ and ‘Dark Matter’, as well as for her eclectic DJ sets. It’s been exciting to see her bloom into one of the outstanding US-based artists of the younger generation, and her debut for the Queens-based label run by duo Ma Sha marks a turning point in her career. I’m glad she decided to opt for the “club album” format, focusing on presenting her captivating DJ-ready productions rather than more heady downtempo and experimental pieces. The range of expression is really diverse, ranging from mutant dancehall (‘Roll’) and bangers in the post-Livity Sound mould (‘Mother Tongue’) to more “tech-housey” jams with seductively alien synth motifs (‘Play’), leftfield acid experiments (‘Tunnel Visions’) and bass-laden peak time bangers (‘Lurk’). Like in the case of compatriot Sister Zo, her adoration of Bristolian bass and techno innovations and the whole hardcore continuum (particularly considering the use of familiar vocal chops from the jungle era) can’t be overlooked. Still, it’s her crispy percussion programming and hip-shaking syncopations that really make Rhythm is Memory a special treat.

Rhyw – Mister Melt
(Fever AM)

Rhyw’s distinct synth lines have always possessed a kind of synaesthetic quality; you can almost see their shapes and colours like a Kandinsky painting. I struggle to find a better way to describe them than to compare them to the “melting face” effect of acid. The title of his latest EP might have something to do with it. Despite being a true master when it comes to sound design, I really rate Rhyw for his humour, and a kind of silliness that he incorporates into his productions. Be it in the way he uses a starting engine sample in the break of ‘Engine Track’ or the ludicrous rhythmic pattern of ‘Spiritz’, there’s something really entertaining about those nudge-nudge wink-wink moments, as also found in certain productions by the Hessle Audio affiliate Joe. The title track is also a beast, a hyper-polished nod to 2000s minimal techno boasting an earwormy synth motif that’ll make ravers go nuts. Hi-tech-house stomper ‘Wolf Town’ also plays with your brain in a funny way. The real “mystery” about Rhyw is how he manages to forge these monstrous big room tunes with flair while still keeping them a bit bizarre, offbeat and disorienting – a skill not many contemporary producers could boast about.

Lenhart Tapes – Dens
(Glitterbeat Records)

Tape-hissed traditional ethno samples from the Balkans, shiver-inducing vocals with a distinctively Slavic melos, and saturated industrial beats? Sign me up. Belgrade maverick Vladimir Lenhart has been tirelessly honing his unique "ethno noise" sound for the past 12 years. His mind-blowing four-Walkman performance at MENT Festival some years ago was one for the books. After trial and error, hours of tape experiments and tentative live performances, he seems to have finally found a perfect format for his music, and it’s telling that his second album is out on the celebrated Ljubljana-based label Glitterbeat Records. The ethnic samples come from his extensive cassette collection slowly gathered from flea markets and beyond, but while his earlier outings occasionally felt half-baked, the musicality of Dens really makes its source material shine brightly. Saturated melodies of various traditional flutes, a guitar and collaborator Tijana Stanković’s unorthodox violin parts add to the abrasive quality of the record. Along with Svetlana Spajić and Zoja Borovčanin, Stanković is also responsible for most vocal parts on the album. Their hypnotic voices, full of pathos, really get your blood pumping. Imagine if Coil, Muslimgauze and the legendary Romani singer Esma Redžepova met in the elevator of Hotel Yugoslavia in Belgrade and recorded an album of indigenous ethno-industrial for a full kafana.

XEXA – Vibrações De Prata

Despite the short, “sonic vignette” format of the electroacoustic pieces found on this “mini album” by the Portugal-born artist XEXA (apart from the 9-minute epilogue ‘Clarinet Mood’), there’s something movingly ethereal and mysterious about these tiny pieces of music. A motto that accompanies the album, “like a flower about to bloom, we can detect first glimpses of colour and form but can’t yet divine its final form,” beautifully encapsulates the non-finite, open-ended quality of these compositions, as if they were bound to play on and on even after they end. In terms of sonic trajectories, the release is quite different from the signature club sounds of Príncipe, reminding me a little of the eclectic output of artists like Venus Ex Machina. Every piece sets a different mood and evokes a different mental space, or perhaps a fictitious physical space. The hypnagogic nature of Vibrações De Prata brings to mind one of my favourite films, Kurosawa’s magical realist masterpiece Dreams in which he guides us through eight different dream-like segments. It’s worth noting, though, that there’s this fourth world dimension to XEXA’s artistic vision – you can’t really pinpoint any specific folk music reference, nor any defined musical template.

Jurango – Isle of Crass EP

Following the extraordinary first Re:lax project by Laksa, and the first instalment of their tape mix series by fellow co-founder re:ni, the young London label presents another powerful release by Bristolian talent Jurango. Interestingly, the perimeters are set between around 150 and 190 bpm, exploring uptempo zones in an ingenious way and connecting the dots between pointillistic IDM-tinged singeli and fast-paced, high-definition, sound design-heavy mutant bass/techno à la Djrum, Batu, Metrist, Rhyw and so on. It marks a new direction from his more meditative debut, released on Dnuos Ytivil in 2021, but he already proposed this fresh speedy and rather acidic aesthetic on his May split release with Glances. Strong hallucinatory undertones permeate all four tracks, as on Laksa’s release – something we could call hyperactive dancefloor psychedelia. It’s not just about finger-gunning and headbanging, but also about drawing from the sinister, mystifying atmospheres of early dubstep and beyond. The balance between bassbin pressure, crystal-clear rhythmic programming and mind-expanding synth lines is on point, particularly in the sturdy deep roller ‘Sleeper Hold’ and the Rian Treanor-esque expansion of singeli tropes of the title track. Definitely a top pick for DJs trying to push the boundaries of dancers’ bodies and minds.

Call Super – Eulo Cramps
(can you feel the sun)

There’s always been something very personal, introspective and intimate, almost in a singer-songwriter way, about “techno expressionist” Call Super’s albums, be it due to the airy nature and intricately minimalistic arrangements of their productions, the inclusion of their father’s clarinet playing or the use of their own poetry. With Eulo Cramps they delve even deeper into the alleys of their mind in a self-exploratory, autobiographical way. The album’s arch somewhat reminds me of OPN’s latest, a one-on-one with their past selves. Call Super’s album is also tinged with nostalgia, reminding me of the Suzi Ecto days. With that album, I discovered a different understanding of electronic music through their harkening back to the Black Dog and B12 “home-listening” techno era (‘Raindance’ still gives me goosebumps). Guest vocals by Eden Samara, Julia Holter and Elke Wardlaw add even more depth. An effervescent dialogue between ambient tones, leftfield house beats, pop flirtations, contemporary jazz techniques, spoken word excursions and experimental music trends, Eulo Cramps is a contender for Call Super’s most compelling artistic achievement so far. Due to a complex and dynamic tracklist, however, it requires a number of replays before you can really absorb it and understand Eulo Cramps as a whole.

Evian Christ – Revanchrist
(Warp Records)

Tranceheads of the world unite! The release of Evian Christ’s highly anticipated debut album is in a way continuation of the Warp-endorsed exploration and expansion of trance tropes via the likes of Lorenzo Senni, but it’s a also heartfelt, unpretentious, “2.0.” take on the stadium trance of 2000s superstar DJs such as Tiësto and Armin Van Buuren. Forget the more intellectual and studious, tension-building, “no drops methodology” of Senni as Evian Christ really goes full on maximalist euphoria. Self-irony and a hint of parody might lurk beneath, but his fascination with and dedication to trance comes across as sincere, perhaps similarly to Danny L Harle’s Harlecore project. A good example is ‘Yxguden’, featuring Swedish rapper Bladee from Drain Gang, a collective who have been seminal in the globalisation of these “emo-meets-trance” sensibilities amongst millennials and zoomers. Importantly, Evian Christ discharges the typically more high-leaning sound image of his “ancestors”, rather opting for a fully exploited, bass-heavy frequency spectrum, majestically produced synthworks and hauntingly beautiful Enya-esque vocals as found in ‘Nobody Else’ and ‘With Me’. Perhaps the most exciting thing about Revanchrist is that he’s able to play with trance tropes with such electrifying passion, never really directly relying on hackneyed euphoria-inducing mechanisms in the Sensation White mould. Rather, he prudently exploits listeners’ expectations and anticipations so that even the most hardcore haters of trance should be willing to lend an ear.

Salamanda – In Parallel
(Wisdom Teeth)

If we put K-Lone’s and Facta’s full lengths next to the new album by Seoul duo Salamanda, which follows their label debut on last year’s compilation To Illustrate, it’s immediately clear that label Wisdom Teeth have evolved a rather specific trajectory: restrained, sun-soaked, new agey, bare-boned, minimalistic and delicately psychedelic… In Parallel places emphasis on soothing melodies and saccharine vibes in a way that could be compared to some of DJ Python’s output. The diversity of musical traditions they nod to is fascinating, especially considering the fact they are able to forge them into something completely theirs. The duo take cues from the tradition of post-Four Tet “indietronica” (‘Paper Labyrinth’), post-Reich minimalism (‘Nostalgia’), Fourth World electronica (‘Sun Tickles’, ‘Sending Ritual’), lo-fi pop (‘Homemade Jam’), Japanese ambient (‘Full of Mushrooms’) and club music (‘Tonal, Fluid’), proposing an enthralling vision of classical-meets-club with a recognisable Wisdom Teeth touch. The uplifting force and positive vibes of In Parallel make it an ideal companion for early morning or late evening rituals.

Various Artists – LI$037
(Low Income $quad)

The Zagreb-based DIY powerhouse Low Income $quad, established in 2015 at the height of the lo-fi house craze, has been instrumental in bringing underdog producers of “outsider house”, leftfield techno, ghettotech, hard “trance-not-trance”, guaracha, baile, electro, juke and footwork to new audiences. It also put the Croatian scene on the European dance music map. Years before the explosion of the speedy and trancey “HÖR aesthetic” in internet circles, the LI$ collective was at the forefront of the “not so serious” club music strains and tongue-in-cheek edits. The hilarious happy hardcore-adjacent sense of humour is most visible in their extravagant artwork. The label has introduced dozens of talented new artists, creating a vast transglobal underground network in the process and functioning as a steppingstone. Their latest compilation represents a continuation of their genuine efforts to shed light on rising artists. Out of the 22 presented tracks, the saccharine nightcore tune ‘Clouds’ by DJ Hristos, the Latin-inflected footwork track ‘Putaton’ by Shhron & Somnolent Works as well as the acid techno stomper ‘Kasharrr’ by DJ Hamam really stand out. With LI$ it’s never been that much about sophistication or invention, instead they prize high-spirited playfulness and a sound sense of irony. I also recommend their NTS show, a great entry point for any newcomer to the eccentric Zagreb label.

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