Review: On his three previous solo albums as Blanck Mass, Fuck Buttons member Benjamin John Power offered up abstract but enjoyable blends of ambient, drone, IDM and electronics. On "Animated Violence Mild", his first full-length for two years, Power has decided to take a far more dystopian path, blending ear-catching, synth-pop influenced melodies with thrusting, doom-laden techno rhythms, growling aural textures, industrial strength noise and hybrid electronic power-pop. It's an ear-catching affair, with highlights including the boisterous, distorted techno-pop of "House Vs House", the post-apocalyptic power-trance rush of "Hush Money", the hypnotic, maximal ambient movements of "Creature/West Fuqua" and the pulsating intensity of "Wings Of Hate".
Venus Covers Mars (Antoni- Maiovvi remix - bonus track)
Under The Red (Leather Strip remix - bonus track)
All You Can Eat (Ant People remix - bonus track)
Review: Synth pop veterans Boytronic - well known for hit single "You" but also for honing their sound at sex shows in Hamburg's red light district - are back after a ten year hiatus. After several personnel changes over the years, the latest line-up features old and new vocalists in Holger Wobker and James Knights respectively, and it could be the first time ever that a replacement and their predecessor have worked together on the same record. Importantly, they work well together, with plenty of 80s influences looming large over a wealth of danceable beats, tinny chords and woodpecker fills.
Review: In 1979, Cabaret Voltaire - then consisting of all three founder members, Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson - recorded a soundtrack for an experimental film "for two projectors" by Babeth Mondini. 40 years on, that soundtrack has finally been given a release. It's similar in tone to some of the Sheffield experimentalists' other soundtrack work from the period, offering discordant, unsettling and otherworldly sound collages that fuse heavily modified and processed instrumental parts (guitar, bass, drums, clarinet, saxophone) with tape loops, sampled dialogue and the band's ever-present electronic tones. Whether you're an obsessive Cabs fan or not, it's well worth a listen. This is, after all, a slice of previously hidden musical history.
Review: Over the last few years, the occasional studio collaborations between Factory Floor's Nik Void and Throbbing Gristle heavyweights Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti have proved to be faultless exercises in industrial music/techno fusion. They're at it again on third album "Triumvirate", a collection of dark, intense and mind-altering concoctions that veers from ricocheting, delay-laden alien funk ("T3.4") and surging, club-ready hypnotism ("T3.2", "T3.3"), to raw, Surgeon-esque assaults on the senses ("T3.5") and clanking, concrete-clad fare that recalls the best of Carter and Tutti's early '80s TG work ("T3.1", "T3.6"). There are few surprises, just a series of angry, on-point instrumental excursions that should delight all of those of an industrial persuasion.
Review: Saxophonist and keyboardist Jorja Chalmers has accomplished much over the course of her career - she's toured and recorded extensively with Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music - but debut album "Human Again" marks the first time she's stood centre stage as a solo artist. She has all the ingredients to succeed on her own, though: a bold look, a supportive label in Italians Do It Better and a signature style that's in turns creepy, claustrophobic, cinematic, atmospheric and seductive. More importantly, "Human Again" is superb, offering a synthesizer-powered mix of dark ambient instrumentals, David Lynch style soundtrack pieces, drowsy and clandestine sounding songs and cuts that wrap her distinctive saxophone solos around the most evocative of electronic soundscapes.
Review: UK experimentalist Chris Clark presents his tenth long-player, and the first not to be released by the mighty Warp. Across the album's 14 tracks he explores a range of downtempo territories, from neo-classical pieces like 'Simple Homecoming Loop' to brooding electro-folk ('Coffin Knocker') to straight-up ambience ('Banished Hymnal'). It's fair to say Clark's work is something of an acquired taste, being much more about sound (and sound design) than it is about rhythm or melody, but a discography as long as his doesn't lie and existing fans will lap this up, even if it's unlikely to convert many new ones.
Review: The opening track on this album consists of a rough-edged descending synth stab that repeats over and over for a full two minutes. That, plus the lack of track titles, tells you right away that there are no artistic or commercial concessions being made here whatsoever: imagine Swans and Cradle Of Filth getting together in Squarepusher's studio to create a tribute to 'Metal Machine Music', and you're getting close to just how dark and deranged a collection this is. Don't expect: to hear any of these tracks on drivetime radio. Do expect: the 199 limited-edition copies to sell out quickly, mostly to folks who dress in black and own multiple Diamanda Galas albums.
Review: Talk to anyone about Stranger Things and it will only be a matter of minutes before the sensational soundtrack is mentioned. The future retro synths of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein have a huge impact on deepening the occult feelings you experience when watching the show and that continued through Series 3. Now you can grab the accompanying tracks on this mysterious CD, which features the vulnerable "You're A Fighter", celebratory 80s synth pop stomps of "Starcourt" and meditative charms of "The Ceiling Is Beautiful" amongst other nuggets of gold. The producers themselves have said this is less a score and more a series of cues, and it certainly got us thinking.
Review: Since she burst on to the experimental music scene three years ago, percussionist, composer and sound designer Sarah Hennies has proved particularly adept at creating conceptual pieces that are more accessible and breathtakingly beautiful than similar exercises devised by her peers. "Reservoir 1: Reservation", is a fantastic example. Apparently part of a trilogy based on "the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind", the piece sees Hennies and her fellow Meridian collective members take turns to deliver unique percussive sounds and textures to the accompaniment of Phillip Bush's mesmerizing piano motifs. It's undeniably minimalist in its approach, but utterly beguiling: a beautiful work that may one day be spoken of in hushed tones.
Review: Chicago-based experimentalists HIDE built their reputation on a handful of releases - including an inspired debut album - built around densely layered sound collages, intense rhythmic snapshots and manipulated electronic noise. On new album "Hell Is Here", the American duo has opted to pursue a slightly different sound, with intense, screamed and - in one bizarre instance - vomited vocals rising above distorted, brain-melting sub-bass, mangled percussion, Nine Inch Nails style guitars and unsettling redlined electronics. It makes for intense listening, but there's little doubt the pair has produced a thrilling piece of work that should find favour with all those of a punky, leftfield disposition.
Review: Given that five years has passed since the last HTRK full-length, "Psychic 9-5 Club", it's perhaps not that surprising that the duo's new album, "Venus In Leo" sounds notably different from its predecessors. While the pair's emotionally charged, melancholic approach remains in tact, the dubbed-out downtempo pop that marked out "Psychic 9-5 Club" has been replaced by a drowsier, ethereal sound seemingly inspired by a mixture of the Cocteau Twins, The Durutti Column, Massive Attack's "Mezzanine", David Lynch film soundtracks and sunrise-ready, slow motion dream pop. The results are uniformly inspired, with Jonnine Standish's heart-felt, soft focus vocals sounding particularly emotive and evocative this time round.
Review: "The Practice Of Love" is Jenny Hval's seventh full-length, and it's the sort of listen that can wash over you while you get lost in a reverie, or take you on a deeply involving inward journey if you tune in to the lyrics. Her voice is angelic, and muses on subjects like growing old, our place in the world, and the notion of intimacy. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the fantastically strong title track with its vulnerable and tender spoken words, folky synth lullaby "Thumbsucker" and "Accident", which could well be a rave comedown with its lilting trance chords and dreamy keys. Quite the trip.
Review: Ionnalee's 2018 debut album "Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten" was superb, so hopes are high for the artist's similarly minded sequel. "Remember The Future" is a little bolder, shinier and more upbeat than its predecessor, though stylistically it still sounds like a 21st century update of Kate Bush's distinctive early '80s sound circa "The Dreaming" and "Hounds of Love". It's a dreamy, ethereal and otherworldly take on electronic pop that's always alluring and often memorable. The album's plentiful highlights include "Some Body", the superb Zola Jesus collaboration "Matters" - a deep, bubbly and intoxicating affair - and "Mysteries Of Love", an echoing, Royksopp-produced cover of a song from David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti's "Blue Velvet" movie soundtrack.