It’s been a while, eh? The Waveform Transmitter’s Ste Knight returns with a new edition of his Editor Selects series, featuring three singles and one album from the past week or so, that he thinks you really need to get your ears around…
I realised, while listening to the audio-book last night, that we are less than two years off the date in which Philip K. Dick‘s dystopian masterpiece Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep takes place (well, the revised version, at least). And while we are heading more towards a The Man in the High Castle style scenario, it got me thinking – what kind of music was Dick imagining would be played in 1992/2021?
He wrote the book in 1968, when musique concrète had been doing the rounds for 20 years or so, and music produced solely by electronic genesis had been developing since 1953. Jump forward to the modern day, and we have all manner of contraptions, both physical and virtual, to break through the barriers that limit our creativity. I wonder if the author had imagined that when he was dreaming up his post-apocalyptic worlds?
Probably not, but it can be argued that the worlds of science fiction and (at least some) electronic music share a similar theme. Both rely heavily on technology, for a start, and then there are the themes that run through the narrative of each medium; concepts dealing with futurism, rebellion, Armageddon, space travel, and much more, are all prevalent in both.
Why am I banging on about this, you are undoubtedly asking yourself as you stare at whatever screen you spend your time staring at, a look of puzzled bewilderment on your face. Well, like literature, music has the unending capacity to make us feel and encourages us to imagine. The frequencies that resonate from speakers, or through headphones, or whatever, vibrate within us, and the sound takes us on a journey…
…which brings me onto this week’s releases. All of the music contained in this installment of Editor Selects is there because it made me feel something, and brought certain imagery to mind. Without further ado, lets take a look at the three singles/EPs and my album of the week(ish).
Stefanie Chew by Chris Everett
Stefanie Chew Eyes on Fire
26th July saw Liverpool-based DJ and producer, Stefanie Chew, release her mesmerising Eyes on Fire single. The track is equal parts electro and EBM, taking the motor funk down a distinctly Stygian path before breaking out into a blast of wonderment.
The single kicks off with a menacing synth that underpins the layers, while crisp-ass claps penetrate through like the stings of giant mutated hornets. The computer processing tone that asserts its presence every so often gives the track a retro-futuristic vibe.
This takes us nicely into the final third, which offers some beautifully haunting pads. This is the kind of shit I’d lose it to; Eyes on Fire hijacks your motor control relentlessly. I can’t wait to see what Chew comes up with next if this is the standard of her work. Get it, now.
Sam Skilz Underworld
Sam Skilz goes biiiig with his huge new one-tracker, Underworld. The Luxembourg producer delivers some pure progressive house, the arrangement featuring a trancey synth line that is surefire arms-raised tackle. If you’re looking for something to make your peak time eruption take on a ferociously Vesuvial character, then Underworld is it.
Equal parts brooding and blissful, Sam takes us through two breaks with monumental drops at the back end of both. That aforementioned synth is infectious to say the least, and releases a flood of endorphins at the culmination of the track, as top end percs skitter across the surface of the mix like sparks across concrete.
Definitely one for the warehouse, Skilz draws on tropes from the golden days of prog, serving up a healthy dose of dancefloor nostalgia that will delight progressive house fans new and old. You can buy your copy, here.
James Welsh D974/Boltmaker
Continuing this week’s nostalgia tip, Phantasy host label mainstay James Welsh for his two-pack single, D974/Boltmaker. The a-side, D974, is drenched in 90’s rave synths, as Welsh brings out the big-room bombs. A solid 4/4 groove will have you rushing before those stabs even kick in, but when they do…oh shit, prepare for launch into hyperspace as you are fired off on a collision-course with atomic sound.
The flip features Boltmaker; an exercise in high-energy analog techno. Pushing his hardware to the limit James takes us on a Detroit-heavy journey, with a track that lays down a hypnotising beat from the off, as the bassline arpeggiates gloriously around the bottom end. Definitely a track to close your set on for a truly grandiose fanfare.
Phantasy touch gold again with their latest release, and Welsh has found the perfect stable from which to release his beasts. You can get hold of a copy of D974/Boltmaker here.
Audio Pervert Extinction
Never before have I come across an album so pertinent to the current climate, and in the case of Audio Pervert‘s Extinction long-player, quite literally so. The work deals with the harsh reality of the ‘sixth-extinction’ and the finality of the human race as we know, it.
It is worth mentioning, before we look at the sonic side of the record, that all proceeds from the sale of this record will be used to further the work of climate justice and environmental protection activism. I am sure you will agree that this is of utmost importance as the future of our planet hangs from a very fine thread that, each day, become barer.
Onto the music, then. Audio Pervert, AKA Samrat Bharadwaj is a resident of Valencia, having been born in New Delhi. The album has been constructed in a minimal fashion, with Samrat masterfully utilising synthesis to craft a narrative that extols tales of the biological.
We begin with the wise words of Ilhan Omar, America’s first black Muslim congresswoman, who imparts insight as she tells the listener “they can colonise the land, but they can’t colonise your mind”. This segues us into Birth, which draws on the sound of Chicago for inspiration, a deft acid line drawing us deep into to the sound to be engulfed by a miasma of pads, carried along by a pulsing kick.
Ambient techno is the order of play for track two, Never Too Small, which holds a melancholy tone once the track has fully budded as it reaches the final third. Beautifully lush synths open up like a field of wildflower on a hazy dawn, as the track closes out with climatic synth work that echoes the intensity of birdsong, and the start of a new day. Greta Thundberg delivers a stark warning that this will no longer be if we continue to push the limits of our planet’s ability to inhabit us.
Extinction, despite its morose nomenclature, is an energetic track. Perhaps it is that huge release of energy that will be released into the ether upon the arrival of the 6th Mass Extinction and the demise of our physical bodies. We are swept upwards and along with Extinction, in a way that seems almost uncontrollable, again mirroring the end of life as we know it. Acid-synths are once again given centre stage, as samples whoosh around the headspace in wind-like fashion.
The penultimate track, Omnicide, takes on a more industrial feel. Apparatus pops and snap throughout the productions, as we look through the window at our own consequences. It is our own actions that are set to bring about the total extinction of the human race, industrial included, so the track gives us a snapshot of industry (with steam train samples rushing through the production) as haunting synths wail like lost souls, oscillating wildly out of control.
We finish with the jubilation of Post-Extinction. The track is almost certainly an interpretation of the healing of our beautiful rock, the Earth upon which we were once stood floating through the vast abyss of space, free of its human shackles and the devastation they caused. Pads ebb and flow through the arrangement, as a synth evokes images of a celestial body taking healing breaths and throbbing with renewed energy.
This is the 7th of Audio Pervert‘s independent albums, and I urge you to buy it ASAP; your life will be all the better for it. Promise.
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