In a musical landscape constantly dominated by hype, trend and the persistence of issuing control from a select few media outlets, we believe our role is to delve a little further and dig a little deeper to find the rarefied gems that operate at a subterranean level. The records often overlooked by mass-media conglomerates who prefer the digestible and the readily popular, over the difficult and obscure, are the records we strive to find. These are the records diligently made and proliferated by the uncompromising music enthusiasts and idiosyncratic artists, who refrain from the limelight and whose sole agenda is the music, which for every Resonant Sounds has its eye on the dance floor, but not exclusively dedicated to its function.
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 obscure gems. In Resonant Sounds The Formant pulls out some of the best finds from the month procured at record stores and over the internet. Vinyl our preferred format, but mostly available digitally, some new and some old, these are the 12 inches and EPs that have made the last couple of months worth living for. This week features records from Manni Dee, Sandy Samuel, Rudow, Umwelt and Adapta.
Since Being and Nothingness from 2013 Manni Dee’s music has perpetually skated that edge between dark, vacuous atmospheres and tight counterpoint rhythms carried over from some crumbling post-dubstep utopia. The UK producer has always favoured an intense energy in his music, one lifted from some intangible dance floor somewhere in the dungeons of a power station. At Dutch label Leyla, it seems he’s been able to harness that power at its most unsaturated stage with three releases combining violent maximalist textures with inventive percussive patterns and progressive club-floor forms.
Your Public Image is the latest of these releases, and what Manni Dee instilled in Human Image, he’s taken to its furthest edge on this record. An interrupted vocal calls in a demanding 4/4 kick arrangement on Insurrection Erection with industrial textures piling on as the track progresses, but careful not to smother the arrangement. The suspense Manni Dee and his collaborator Joke Lanz creates on this opening track through the short passage of a bridge is tantalising prospect for the rest of the record, but it’s actually on Estrangement Between and Combination Acts where Manni Dee’s artistic personality shines through most incandescently.
The opener certainly grabs your attention, but the quirkiness of the vocals slightly undercuts the severity of the sonic atmosphere, and it’s in the following two tracks where Manni Dee consolidates his efforts in fine form. The percussive rhythms are focussed and innovative while everything around them find its space in the mix, no one element encroaching on the other’s domain.
A truly obscure gem from the past, I like Sado Music is a collaborative work between Italian Disco-provocateur Luigi Piergiovanni and 80’s pornography actress Sandy Samuel. This is not some basic producer-vocalist arrangement, and Samuel’s vocals are the fundamental draw to this record, as she yells above the clattering melange of instruments about sado fetishes.
A simple piano riff that goes from the root to the fifth and back, digs itself a hole in the beat through that repetitive bass. It very much sounds like early sampling techniques at play and gittery timing is as much part of its appeal as I suppose it was its detriment when it was originally released. In true Disco fashion Part 2 is an extended instrumental of Part 1, but it’s when Sandy Samuel moans “let me whip you” on the latter where the record’s true seduction lies.
A new club project by Norwegian electronica artist Alexander Rishaug, Rudow combines Rishaug’s adventurous temperament in the electronic music domain with Freakout Cult’s more palatable club aesthetic. Between his sound art work and his albums on Smalltown Supersound to this latest project Rishaug is an artistic chameleon, and at the confluence of his diverse artistic background his music is mesmerising, engaging and innovative.
On the Rudow project his appreciation for atmosphere is tantamount to its appeal, and simple lead- and bass lines tend to expound in the ether where it swathes minimalist percussive arrangements in mystique and intrigue. Not quite as functional as the project will have you believe, Rudow is an independent ravine stretching out from the extensive delta of the artistic identity of the artist, and on the debut record, Rishaug does well to tie a red thread between his other multiple personalities. He calls it an album rather that an EP and there is something akin to a narrative to pull it along.
Where a track like “Manifesting the Unreal” steps within the bounds of the dance floor, a track like “Refraction” treads a line closer to Rishaug’s more soundart projects where elements of drone, noise and ambience reside.
If there were ever an artist and label perfectly suited to the other, you’d have to go to some distance to find anything as compatible as Falling Ethics and Umwelt. The idiosyncratic sound of the French artist which rarely finds its way onto labels beyond his own, is a an uncanny match for the German Techno label of some repute in obscure corners of the dance floor.
Strange Attractor is nocturnal EP, made for darkened corners with Umwelt walking that narrow path between Techno, Minimal wave, Electro and EBM. The voices of irreverent machines echo in the midsts of stomping percussive arrangements, with the producer’s experienced production technique truly a sound to behold. There might be an arsenal of machines behind his work, but each marches perfectly in line with the step of a track.
There’s nothing subtle about Umwelt’s sound, but his work never deals in familiar tropes like the dominating, exhaustive 4/4 kick or the presence of the ubiquitous fearful white-noise. Umwelt’s music operates at those levels without much need for tricks of the trade, and even a slow burner like The Collapsing Empire manages to bring that mood and feeling across with little more than sequenced synth and a spartan Electro beat.
Parental Advisory warns Frustrated Funk on every record they sell with some hint of irony as the brand of Electro they proliferate does little to offend. Obstinately loyal to the Electro genre, Frustrated Funk has brought acts like Der Zyklus and ERP to the fore on the vinyl format, and where others might take a more traditionalist approach to the genre, Frustrated Funk stand their ground steadfast in their progressive resolve.
Adapta brings three squelching cuts to the label on Vohx Continues with the title track the more conservative of the three psychadelic Acid driven Electro pieces on this EP. Vohx Continues is majestic and charming in its repose, while Kord port V2 and Drapse Harmonic kick up the dust in some unscripted machine language for more mind altering moments.