Albums: In Season
It’s album season. That time of year where electronic musicians drag their sullied souls back from the livin’ large drudgery of the festival circuit and try to re-establish themselves as serious artists with meaningful things to express over 60 odd minutes or so.
Of course the naysayers will desperately crow that the album’s been dead for about ten years, and techno long players are nothing but collections of dancefloor bangers with twiddly segues, and attempts to go abstract invariably end up in self-indulgent twaddle, but on the contrary there’s actually some music worth getting genuinely excited looming on the Autumnal horizon. After all, in between the prevalent equality issues and the proliferation of shite middle of the road music, a little positivity about the good stuff wouldn’t go amiss.
These days it is quite normal for an emergent herbert with four months Ableton experience to launch a debut triple-pack opus, so it’s nice to see that some producers still attach a value to taking their time. Pangaea’s debut album In Drum Play lands nearly ten years after he first started putting out jams on Hessle Audio. Admittedly he has dropped a couple of double 12”s in his time, but overall it feels like the result of an artist that has worked out balancing his progression from left-of-centre 2-step oddball to loopy techno fan in a mature yet utterly fun whole.
Parisian micro house dude Cabanne has been in the game even longer, which makes his own debut album Discopathy more of a surprise. Stylistically, it’s perhaps less of a revelation as it deals in more of the sleek and refined 4/4 groove that he’s been turning out for years. It’s the kind of style that, if you’re a fan, you’ll happily shuffle away to at Visionaere or any other such bastion of funky reduction, but this is atleast a dancefloor record where the experimental diversions such as “Pope Korn” are actually standout pieces.
Roman Flügel meanwhile has gone in the opposite direction with his impending All The Right Noises LP for Dial. After the more structured houseplustech of Fatty Folders and Happiness Is Happening, this new album sees the Frankfurt polymath taking on a pleasingly experimental bent that deals in melancholic electronica in the vein of old UK heads such as Jega. Benjamin Brunn too has pinged his own plush synth stylings into fertile new territory with Plastic Album on Third Ear, dealing in some sharp angles that cut into the rich pleasantries of his melodic content. In the more fatiguing moments scrabbling up the new music slag heap they’re the kind of artists you can take for granted, but both records serve as welcome reminders that familiar names still have the ability to throw a curveball.
RVDS is a producer who’s particularly adept at throwing curveballs without making it obvious. His sound is warm and fuzzy, somewhat rooted in classic drum machines and synths but loaded with personality. Shadows, self-released on his It’s label, feels like the perfect Autumnal album, dealing in reflective downtempo jams and slightly peppier tracks but all easy on the ears. It’s surprising that such an approach could be noteworthy, but in the end his personality shines through.
That’s surely what albums are about after all – personality. Jay Daniel has definitely done a bang up job of that on Broken Knowz, where his youthful age belies the fact that he’s made a staggeringly mature, and quite frankly weird, record. There’s a focus on off-kilter percussion and that quintessential Detroit house vibe lingers heavy in the mix, but it certainly doesn’t sound like anyone else out there. With only a few singles behind him, he’s the exception to that aforementioned rule about debut albums.
Still, Daniel’s weirdness is modest compared to Georgia, the NYC duo who last frazzled minds with Like Comment on Meakusma. There’s a kind of free jazz spirit running through their new album All Kind Music, which starts off in pretty wild territory before heading into more transcendental pastures. It’s the kind of starkly original music that feels so refreshing, which could equally be said for Andrew Pekler’s latest effort on Jan Jelinek’s Faitiche label. Tristes Tropiques is a trippy concoction that aims to create an exotic atmosphere without resorting to textbook jungle sounds, instead synthesising them. Pekler’s the kind of artist who takes on different themes with each album, with Cue on Kranky being a particularly great work, but here he excels in his mission to create an abstract yet engrossing sound world that reminds me in spirit if not sonics of Ramzi’s awesome Houti Kush album on 1080p.
That’s but a mere snapshot of the great work being ladled onto our over-piled musical plates over the coming months. If you can get those selections alone into your aural digestive systems, it should provide satisfactory nourishment as the days grow shorter.