Plenty to chew on this week as The Waveform Transmitter‘s Ste Knight presents another of his Editor Selects column, featuring singles and EPs from Dead Pop Stars, Almaty International, Cosmo Vitelli, and album of the week comes from Carl Craig.
Music, I find, is always a great place to turn to when a bit of positivity is needed. And after the week we’ve had here in the UK and further afield, across Europe, a dose of good-feeling is almost certainly what we need right now.
The past week or so has been full of musical plus-points that should perk you up, even if your particular bag is gloomtronica (the credit for that term goes wholly to Nemone, describing Warriors of the Dystotheque). Crank up your amp as we take a look at this week’s heady mix, with singles and EPs provided by: Dead Pop Stars, over at Hottwerk Records; Almaty International, who dropped her EP on Naïve; and Cosmo Vitelli, who lands on Malka Tuti.
Our album of the week comes, this time, straight from Motor City, as Carl Craig bestows us with the second installment of his Detroit Love concept, following up Stacey Pullen‘s impressive series launch which hit stores last year. Volume 2 is mixed by Carl himself and is quite the journey. More below…
Dead Pop Stars Hell is Just Around the Corner
The enigmatic Dead Pop Stars arrived on Hottwerk records with an EP of melancholic electronica, the title of which couldn’t really be more apt in the current global climate.
The three-track Hell is Just Around the Corner EP opens with Water Spirit; a track that enchants from the off, as the growling bassline and organic percussion, ripe with hissing top end, are mollified by the silken aria that drapes itself effortlessly over the top of the mix.
The synth-heavy title track comes in collaboration with EasyBeatz. The track takes on a dystopian quality thanks to the skittish drum patterns and haunted vocal. This is permeated by a smoky lyrical interlude from EasyBeatz – ‘Hell is round the corner, where I shelter…’ – lending the track a sound reminiscent of early Massive Attack and, later, Tricky‘s solo output. There’s even some 808 in there for good measure!
The final of the three tracks, Fire in the Sky is a fantastic example of poppish electronica, as an arpeggiating synth dances around the upper octaves, intertwining with the lilting delivery from Dead Pop Stars‘ vocalist, the odd string swell creeping through the layers of sound that are laid out before us. Get your copy of Hell is Just Around the Corner, here.
Almaty Sonic Signature EP
Sweden’s Almaty International (or Almaty in this case) brings her outrageously brilliant Sonic Signatures EP to Naïve; a label who, it would seem, can do no wrong with their signings. This is yet another fantastic release from the imprint, and we can’t see them running out of steam any time soon if they continue with this calibre of release.
The four track record sees the Copenhagen resident – who also operates as part of electronic duo, Cloud Communications – delivers a selection of productions that offer what can only be described as the ‘full package’. Kicking off with the title track, one could be forgiven for assuming that they had been whisked off to a 90’s warehouse rave. Careful use of breakbeats, acid flourishes, and moments of total arms-raised imploration ensure that Almaty‘s EP gets off to a flyer.
Gen4 is next off the blocks, as the producer opts for a more foreboding track – a perfect mood builder for any set that seeks to explore the darker edges of breakbeat techno’s sound. Again, we have deft manipulation of the little silver box to give this track an apprehensive tone, before a killer electro break kicks in to accompany the string swells and stunning pad work.
Those who enjoy productions with a trancey vibe will be transfixed by Tulips. The opening elements of the track, sonically, are the perfect representation of a breaking dawn. Pads burst open, slowly at first, in reaction to almost vocal synth that heralds in the new day at the start of the composition. This ushering in a veritable cloudburst of breakbeats which rain down upon the listener’s eardrums.
We close the release on the minimalistic Are You Really, which features sparse percussion, instead relying on the choral pads that sweep through the track like an apparition. Not for long, though, as the quiet is disturbed by the frantically stepping synth sequence, laced with lysergic, which dissolves back into the far reaches of the track. Get a copy of Almaty‘s fantastic record, here.
Cosmo Vitelli Holiday in Panikstrasse Part 1
The first time I recall hearing Cosmo Vitelli‘s music was back in 2002, when he released his Robot Soul EP. I remember being particularly enamoured with the Blackstrobe remix of the track, and I would play it with the kind of obsessive frequency that many would get bored with, but I just loved the track and it’s playful nature (and that complete time change about a third of the way in – ooph).
I had a bit of a quandary about whether or not this should be included as an album. Vitelli has produced a long player that is to be delivered in two parts, via the Malka Tuti imprint, and this is the first. As it features four tracks, though, I’ve lumped it in with the EPs and singles. Besides, I’m the editor, I can do what I like. Plus the other half isn’t out yet…
We start proceedings with the computerised chirrups of A Brand New City; a track that Vitelli has produced in collab with Fantastic Twins. The twinkling synth is slowly built upon, with Dessagne‘s vocals floating around the mix in a mesmerising fashion as Cosmo introduces new elements to the lugubrious sonic tapestry.
We then head into more dancefloor-friendly territory, as Groupe Surdose takes on a solid krautrock groove. Toad-like synths chatter around the bassline, punctuated by an infectious liquid-drip pattern, moulding a track that would easily sit in any of Andrew Weatherall‘s DJ sets.
Die Alraune follows suit, and showcases more of the Germanic influences in Vitelli‘s repertoire. Keep an ear out for the noir-ish saxaphone that this track makes perfect use of. If you were to soundtrack futuristic espionage with anything, it would be this track.
The first part of Holiday in Panikstrasse ends on a track that is loaded with eastern promise. A mysterious synth sound enters the fray about halfway through the production, which has been built up to this point with authentic instrument sounds that evoke the sights, sounds, and smells of Morocco’s souks. The album closes in a discombobulating fashion as the track is enveloped in an almost supernatural sandstorm, shrouding us in a dense cloud of swirling, muffled eastern electronica.
Album of the Week
Carl Craig Detroit Love Vol. 2
There are very few people who can assert to being as influential on the electronic music landscape as Carl Craig has. Founder of Detroit’s iconic Planet-e label, and a highly respected producer and DJ, Craig has undoubtedly been one of the most important figures in electro, house and techno, since their sounds first started to permeate the public conscious.
It is therefore a delight to bear witness to what makes a man like Carl Craig tick, musically. The latest instalment of Detroit Love‘s (a creation borne of both Planet-e and !K7‘s joint efforts) Detroit Love series see Craig taking to the decks himself, delivering a masterclass that sees fresh cuts nestled in-between timeless underground classics. This follows on from the first edition, which was released in May 2018, and was manned by the equally impressive Stacey Pullen.
90s rarities such as Rhythm is Rhythm‘s It Is What It Is sit comfortably alongside unreleased Claude Von Stroke track, My Love Check. There is even a little room for Rosalie; a track produced by Carl Craig and Green Velvet back in 2015 as part of their Unity LP on Release Records. This, of course, means you have the opportunity to grab these releases on a nice slab of the black plastic, because all three are included on the unmixed vinyl version of the album, alongside five other fine selections.
Fans of Matthew Dear will also be pleased to hear that his Brain moniker gets a run-out on Detroit Love, with the track Boss leading the charge for the final quarter of the session. This is an absolutely fantastic mix album and I have been rinsing it since the promo landed in my inbox. Fans of the Detroit sound will undoubtedly be as enraptured by it as I, and the little curveball at the end – Detroit garage rockers The Dirtbombs – sees the mix out in inimitable Carl Craig style.