Review: Trailed as a direct sequel to his previous solo album, 2017's "Avanti", "Volume Massimo" sees Nine Inch Nails member Alessandro Cortini offer up another immersive trip through droning guitar textures, repetitive synthesizer motifs, exotic sitar parts and fuzzy electronics. It's effectively a series of "maximal" instrumental soundscapes with sounds so large and layered they rise above the "meditative" tag pushed by Mute's PR team. This is no criticism, though, just a reflection that while contemplative at times, one of the most joyous things about the album is Cortini's ability to build thrilling walls of sound.
Review: Apparently inspired by 1980s computer game soundtracks and the synth-heavy scores to fantasy films, M83's "DSVII" is slated as a sequel to the band's 2007 set "Digital Shades". If so, it's a rather belated one, especially considering the French outfit has released three studio sets and a swathe of soundtracks since then. Regardless, the material here is deliciously evocative, emotion-rich and atmospheric, mirroring the ebb and flow (and peaks and troughs) associated with soundtracks whilst relying entirely on i80s-sounding synthesizers and drum machine hits. It's basically synth-wave, with Symmetry's "Themes From An Imaginary Film" - itself based on music initially intended for the "Drive" soundtrack - being an obvious comparison.
Review: When it comes to slow-burn electronic minimalism, few can match Eleh, an "analogue and modular synthesis" enthusiast who has released a wealth of inspired music on Touch and Important Records over the last two decades. The artist's latest album, "Living Space", was written over a period of seven years and sees Eleh deliver five sparse, alien and ear catching soundscapes. Some of these sound sparse and almost skeletal - see the elongated melodic tones of the opening track, or the bassbin-bothering pulsating sub weight of "Lo, Fr Ega" - while others are more layered and intricate despite their minimalist design. In the latter category you'll find standout cut "Lighter Touch", an epic journey into kosmiche-style ambient music reminiscent of some of Terry Riley's synthesizer-based works.
Review: Two years ago, Joakim surprised us all by releasing a superb compilation of contemporary French ambient music on Tigersushi. Mixing academic ambient, neo-classical, music concrete and electronica, "Musique Ambiante Francaise" tapped into France's long and illustrious experimental music history while offering a decidedly 21st century perspective. This second volume offers up more of the same, fitting between meditative electronic minimalism (Fil Unique), trippy and dubbed-out weirdness (Krikor), sustained-note paranoia (67Yarc), gentle new age synth-scapes (Trypheme), Pete Namlook style intergalactic electronics (Smagghe & Cross), stark piano pieces (Numerous Aurus), freaky weird-outs (Bambounou) and much more besides. Some of it is more unsettling that chilled-out, but without fail each and every track is superb.
Review: Since joining the label at the turn of the millennium, Scott Morgan AKA Loscil has become one of the admirably experimental imprint's most prolific artists. "Equivalents" is Morgan's ninth album for the label and sees him offer up eight meditations on a hazy, spaced-out theme. It's a slow-burn affair, where processed melodic elements, held-note chords and drone style aural textures slowly move across the sound space. It's a formula that guarantees goodness from start to finish, with the pulsing "Equivalent 3", ghostly "Equivalent 6", Mr Cloudy-esque "Equivalent 2" and the becalmed and poignant "Equivalent 8" standing out.