[ Self-released, 2016 ]
The newest album by James Ferraro is somewhat similar to Torn Hawk‘s Union and Return in a way that it also appears to describe the human condition in the 21st century. But while Luke Wyatt’s work seems to be an escapist utopia inspired by 19th century Romanticism, Ferraro is so 21st century it hurts. While Union and Return has a magnificent digital castle on the cover, Human Story 3 offers digital corporate drone wearing an Amazon box on its head. And it only gets more anonymous and dehumanized from here: music videos for the tracks on the album feature computer-generated faceless crowds filling up public spaces and walking in random directions, synthesized female voice recites generative poetry and musings on artificial intelligence and economics (Amnesia Scanner, anyone?), MIDI sequencers pose as a classical orchestra in a series of paradoxically kitschy and emotional passages with corporation-obsessed titles such as “Market Collapse”, “GPS & Cognition”, “Security Broker” or “Plastiglomerate & Co.”. Accept your fate. Embrace the smooth surfaces and location services. The touch screen is warm, just like flesh.
[ Mexican Summer, 2016 ]
The year is 2016, and we’re entering an era of fear and terror. Humanity is in crisis, and the ugly beast of fascism looms over half of the world while terrorists get more radical than ever. Where’s the escape? Luke Wyatt a.k.a. Torn Hawk seeks solace in 19-th century German romanticism, inspired by nature and his residence in Berlin. Even with a cover that looks like a futuristic, digital version of Neuschwanstein Castle the album is a marriage of simplicity and futurism, pushing Wyatt’s distint vaporwave-y downtempo even further, adding modern classical arrangements inspired, again, by German 19-th century composers. It’s an optimistic album, with lots of gleeful, illuminated ambience surrouding the lush inspirational soundscapes. Union and Return will turn every young Werther into a Silicon Valley start-up whiz kid. Recommended!
[ ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ Records, 2016 ]
Short ambients!! Compact ambients! Ambiens that don’t take 20 or 30 minutes but instead are packed into cool, short pieces of relaxation music! The russian sound scientists from ColorFlower managed to creae a set of short, 2 to 10 minutes deeply relaxing suites, perfect for fast everyday life – when you commute quickly to work, when you walk to a nearby shop and it only takes you about 5 minutes or when you drive to work and it’s also short as fuck. Short Ambient for Nadia is a perfect ambient album for today’s busy life, a small island of tranquility in the sea of chaos. Buy now! Pack it in your bag! Or your phone!
[ PAN, 2016 ]
Compared to last year’s supercold, dystopian Piteous Gate, the new EP by the Berlin based producer M.E.S.H. feels almost like a pop record: a much more rhythm and club oriented enterprise, it still feels futuristic and austere, but there are some clearly recognizable melodies and semi-danceable drum patterns, even though if you tried to actually dance to them they would make you look like a paraplegic. Jagged edges and sharp stops make a good deconstruction of club music standards and push it well into the “brainy dance music” territory, leaving much more to the ears than to the body. But you can’t deny that “Victim Lord” has that 2050 gangsta flair. Recommended!
[ Orange Milk Records, 2016 ]
The new era of hyperactive musique concrete is upon us, with Japan’s Foodman (sounds like a silly superhero’s name, doesn’t it?) using footwork as a blueprint for craaaazy sonic cut-ups that feel like being generated by a mad scientist’s computer which has gone mad itself. On Takahide Higuchi’s newest album the “footwork” aspect appears to be stripped to its raw basics, sometimes even abandoned completely, reduced only to its most skeletal structures and rhythms, mostly becoming a strange maze of warped samples, odd time signatures, spoken word snippets (both sped up and slowed down) and colorful splashes of synth wizardry. Ez Minzoku is utterly weird – like a garden gnome making dance music, as someone on Bandcamp pointed out.
[ Constellation Tatsu, 2016 ]
San Francisco based Emmett Feldman a.k.a. Suryummy names some of his influences on Bandcamp and Last.fm: he cites Boards of Canada, The Orb and Tycho as his main influences. And it’s one of those moments when I feel quite silly because I’ve heard the student, but I haven’t heard the teachers. No, really: I’ve heard maybe 2 or 3 BoC tracks, maybe one track by The Orb and never heard Tycho. But guessing from Genesis Clarity, these artist must make some really chill music, because Suryummy beat-based ambient music is just spot-on: ultra-delicate structures glide effortlessly on the soft rhythms that sometimes remind the listener of progressive electronic classics, but without the pretentious titles and album covers. Here we get some GREAT downtempo music which just takes you to the next level.