We err on the dark side, with beats bearing teeth and sonic landscapes that’s dark and ominous in their delivery. These are the records forged in the brimstone basin of perdition, delivering punishing blow after blow and negating the obvious without straining the listener’s conscious capacity. These are records made for flesh and bone, but avoiding the obvious for an elevated sinister pleasure.
This edition of resonant sounds is inspired by new releases from the likes of Phase Fatale, and Helena Hauff, emboldening us to share some of our more recent dance floor pleasures in the dialect of those artists. Yet again we are reserved yet determined in our approach for finding new and new-old music to enrich our record collection and as music swims in banality our reserve has only strengthened in finding those rarefied gems. The Formant pulls out some of the best finds from the month procured at record stores and over the internet and highly recommended by the Oslo DJ community. Vinyl our preferred format, but mostly available digitally, some new and some old, these are the 12 inches and EPs that have made up the last month’s soundtrack.
Bjarki’s bbbbbb label continuously astounds with artists that show nothing short of contempt for musical platitudes. These are artists that strain the Electro, IDM and Techno genres to such lengths where they remain just in reach of their nucleuses, but almost completely unfamiliar to their origins. Bbbbbb deal in excessive tempos, fantastic soundscapes and untested forms through a crop of uncompromising artists.
Volruptus marks the latest edition to this catalogue, and his/her debut Homeblast is yet another refreshing take on electronic music. Forging a path through an old school sound that lends from various genres, at impressive tempos Homeblast is probably the most digestible EP to be released on the Icelandic label yet, with the track Alien Transmission a tested floor filler. Combining elements of Acid with electro, a 303 bassline squawks over a skipping beat while a vocoder stutters through the title of the track. Volruptus’ quirky video for the track is also worth a mention…
Industrial sonic landscapes driven through urgent rhythms and an atmosphere that lingers in the dusky hue of the nefarious, Schwefelgelb, are EBM personified. Immoveable 4/4 kicks, marching on a determined rhythm accent metallic synth lines that make up the beating pulse of the tracks. Schwefelgelb might merely be dealing in EBM platitudes on this release, but their experience in the genre certainly shows. There’s no subtleties trying to engage with the listener, and everything operates at a corporeal level with Dahinter Das Gesicht. It’s instinctive and primordial and refuses to pander to anything other than a dance floor. Industrial percussive elements join shouts of “pressure” on tracks like Focus and what sets Schwefelgelb apart from their peers is the way they are able to progressive through a song , switching through different parts, without losing that essential drive of the track. Where music like this can often get “loopy”, Schwefelgelb show that it doesn’t have to be, and they expertly manipulate their parts around progressive forms that keep the tracks moving.
Originally released in 2003 and then repressed in 2013, this split record on Börft came to us via Filter Musikk in Oslo, after the Swedish label delivered a box of backstock to Oslo’s favourite record store. It’s the Smea side that catches your attention, with those big gated-reverb drums crashing over some minimalist atmosphere. With there being some focus on EBM, and eighties inspired industrial Techno, this record feels very appropriate indeed. Smea moves from the floor to the living room, with Ambient/Drone/Noise pieces interjecting the more functional moments of Koala Grip, and Gott med Kaffee with sonic explorations undermining popular electronic clichés.
Frak is slightly cleaner in his approach, and through two of the three tracks he keeps it quite loopy, but it’s the second tracs, Malad that really stands out. A schizophrenic electro track twists the fabric of the genre, expanding the horizons of the genre to a modern musical palette, even by today’s standards. Wispy electronic sounds swell around that determined kick with that bassline continuously chugging along the course of the track.
Reaching out from Techno’s underworld where acts like Schwefelgelb and Broken English Club dwell, Phase Fatale has reached a level that’s caught the ear of Ostgut Ton’s Unterton label and Jealous God. His Unterton release, Anubis has been a highlight amongst this year’s releases, and with his debut album coming out on Hospital soon, Phase Fatale looks to make even more of an impression. Human Shield premiered this week, and where Anubis’ attention was directed at the floor, Human Shield is certainly an album cut.
Modulating between industrial percussive arrangement and ominous atmosphere, Human Shield churns more than it drives and echoes similar productions by Broken English Club and Benedikt Frey. A lethargic, progressive track that grows from the foundational percussive part to a whirlwind of texture, snaking it’s way up a rabbit hole where it spills out into to upper frequencies leaving that beat to trudge along through its persistent routine.
Two contrasting pieces of the same coin, Dusk & Dawn are forged in the ether, with subtlety at its core. From the urgent Dusk, with its feet firmly planted in Techno, to the slow moving Dawn, the two very different tracks that make up Thule are tied together by their sound design, which looks to the upper frequencies, where astral melodies counterpoint the focussed unrelenting rhythm section and pull the tracks out of banality. Where Dusk’s relentless progressive buildup eventually falls away Dawn appears in a blissful ambient arrangement that feels like it can just go on forever.