Italian duo Agents Of Time have been incredibly busy over the past few years, from releasing a string of classic singles – including their recent single for Afterlife, The Mirage, – to remixing The Weeknd’s Take My Breath. But the biggest news is here now – their second album, Universo, is ready. Elevating their trademark melodic techno with an exquisite pop-ness, Universo has found its ideal home with Kompakt, following their Music Made Paradise 2020 debut EP for the label. It’s a meeting of minds that makes perfect sense.
Andrea Di Ceglie and Luigi Tutolo, the two members of Agents Of Time, used their time during the pandemic to work on Universo, an album loosely conceptualised around their ‘personal universo’, a manifestation of the world Di Ceglie and Tutolo built both within and around their studio. This accounts for the sparkle and brightness of Universo – it’s full of personality, vim and vigour, the duo experimenting with their music, exploring its furthest corners. If you come to Universo expecting just another album of melodic techno, get ready to be pleasantly surprised – there’s a whole lot more going on here, and it’s all equally compelling.
After a typically poetic opening gesture – the swirling, synaesthetic, self-titled intro track – expectations are immediately blindsided with the two-step pop of Fallin’, sung with gentle clarity by guest Audrey Janssens, a dream of a song that harks back to the glory days of early ‘00s UK garage.
Interstellar Cowboy is a confident, lithe, disco-fied strut; the gentle minor-key piano of Liquid Fantasy spirals into a gorgeously melancholy techno-pop epic, Vicky Who?’s voice rich with yearning. Janssens also reappears on the electro-swirl of Poison; Dream Vision revisits their single The Mirage, soft with sweeping strings, loaded with drama; Part Of Life sashays into view with a schaffel-stomp.
This rich variety throws the more dancefloor-focused tracks, like Ciao, into even starker relief – they’re more decisive, streamlined, yet rich with detail, chugging, Moroder-esque bass meeting strobe-lit synths that fire melodies out into the firmament. Universo feels texturally dense, but it still breathes, its sounds so tactile you want to reach out and grab them, its tunes so seductive you can’t get them out of your head. Universo is a fiercely beautiful album, brave in its spirit, a perfectly poised meeting-point of pop melody and stylish, lush techno: Agents Of Time in excelsis.
Release Date: 14th October 2022 on Kompakt
Now Exclusive Download https://kompakt.fm/releases/if_you_leave
Fly into the clouds with “If You Leave”, a highlight single from WhoMadeWho’s collaboration album “Synchronicity” out on Kompakt Written across the miles during lockdown, Robag Wruhme re-worked the band remotely. The result is a soothing dance floor lullaby soundtracking a message of hope through these difficult times.
Videosphere, the debut album by Kompakt’s latest signing, the London-based artist Lake Turner (aka Andrew Halford), swoons into focus with “The Sunbird”, a teasing drift of lilting, ambient tones, riding out a submerged piston-pulse rhythm. Across its brief 109 seconds, it manages to traverse evocative terrain – something mythopoetic, something both humble and grandiose, a glimpse of the other behind the sky’s curtain. “I wanted to conjure up something resembling an ancient ceremony or death procession,” Turner nods. “Like a hymn to the surroundings of a faraway hill.” It’s both sky-bound and earthen, a ritual incantation to call in the music of the spheres.
Turner was introduced to the Kompakt family by his sometime collaborator Yannis Philippakis of Foals. He’d previously made music in post-punk and indie groups Great Eskimo Hoax and Trophy Wife, but Videosphere is the first time he’s fully articulated his own vision of electronic music, aside from one limited lathe-cut 12”, 2018’s Prime Mover EP, on Algebra. The lush ambient-disco-techno dreams of Videosphere were constructed and completed in his London studio and at his parents’ arable and sheep farm in Worcestershire, which might help explain the hazy, unhurried pastoralism of the album.
“There was a slight bittersweetness in finishing the record (in Worcestershire) as my parents were in the middle of selling my childhood home,” he sighs, before quipping, “on the plus, I ended up shearing a lot of sheep over the summer.” A student of archaeology and ancient history, Turner is no doubt carefully attuned to the twisting cogs of history and memory, and it’s no surprise that Videosphere has a nostalgic, melancholic cast; much of its beauty rests in the way it tugs, gently, at the heart strings – see the tear-stained cheeks of the lush, dappled “Honeycomb”, or the sweetly sad electro-roundelay of “No Way Back Forever.”
It’s not all drift-dream hypnosis, though – Videosphere is very much grounded in the now. ““No Way Back Forever” is a nod to the linear nature of time,” Turner explains by way of example, “and the tipping point of the world climate crisis that scientists have now declared.” Jayne Powell’s vocals are sent spinning through the song, wound like candyfloss; she takes centre stage on the techno hymnal title track, too. Throughout, there’s a sense of forward movement, despite the life stasis we find ourselves collectively bound by in mid-2020; there’s also a yearning for the communal, for community, that’s captured in the album title, a nod to an object Turner encountered at London’s Geoffrey Museum, “a television set in the shape of a spaceman’s helmet from the 1970s.”
“The vision I loosely had was to make an electronic record that had a communal warmth and almost ceremonial or ritual feel. I wanted to examine the relationship of our archaic minds in the trappings of the modern world,” Turner concludes. “What the Videosphere also symbolizes for me is the oneness of humanity and community, prevailing.”
Out 23 October 2020 on Kompakt Records – pre-order: https://kompakt.fm/releases/videosphere
Home is where the heart is, and in this case that saying rings true. Though Michael Mayer puts his love, sweat and tears into running KOMPAKT between producing music and DJing, he has managed to evade releasing anything solo on the mothership for the past 8 years (!!). There’s been no shortage of musical output in that time – be it his DJ Kicks, the ambitious collaborative full length “&”, and remixes for Metronomy, Weval, Arthur Baker and Jagwar Ma to name a few. This new decade promises a world of change, and fortunately for Michael (and all of us), his begins with the release of HIGHER on April 24th.
Italo Disco and early 90’s US Deep House (think Nu Groove, Strictly Rhythm, Nervous) are some of the foundation blocks of what motivated Michael to become a DJ and create music. He finds inspiration with the sample heavy tracks from that era – particularly the ones that used the human voice as an instrument to generate freshness, soul and warmth. To those that have seen Michael Mayer DJ will immediately recall the spirit of his sets when first hearing the title track HIGHER. A House number that is playfully serenaded by lyric-less throwback vocals. DOOT DOOT is a deeper acid tinged affair that is carried by wordless vocal melody that recalls a classic Susanne Vega song from an era gone by.
Michael has never been shy of playing a little proto-trance now and then – Take A Stand For Love adheres to the harmonic practice of the genre but changes things up thanks to a growling, gorgeous bass rhythm. Peak time pleasurable.
Belle De Lune is how we know Michael best and an apt finale that is introspective but very much dance floor driven. The track evokes an insatiable steaminess thanks to melodic bass rhythms and haunting synths. Epically lush.
TOTAL 19 will be released on September 27, 2019.
Music: Sascha Funke “Aus Der Lameng”. Order: https://KompaktRecords.lnk.to/Total19YP
Taken from Tom Demac and Real Lies debut EP on Kompakt (out Sept 14). Buy here.
His 7th solo full-length and his 4th for Kompakt, ‘Los Lagos’ finds the German electronic godfather on fabulous form, embracing chance and exploration with vibrant results. A colloquial greeting used between Fehlmann and friends, ‘Los Lagos’ translates literally as ‘The Lakes’ – also alluding to the album’s prevalent air of reconnoitre and striving creatively for a good place.
Attributable to years of experience and honed technique, the 61-year-old grand master can harness a wild grove with ease, riding it on an unknown journey to an unplanned destination. The boundless experimentalist describes this process as “inventing, inverting and changing the emphasis. It’s operating with a lack of borders for an unpredictable outcome.”
This is loose, free-flowing electronic brilliance, where although clearly in charge, he’s more than happy to let the machines control him, in a man-machine interface he calls “allowing myself to techno”.
“To techno is to deconstruct and rebuild again, to set up an area of tension and lose it in the flow of grooves. It’s magnifying a detail out of proportion, or slowly knitting a texture. I wanted to find a structure that’s surprising, disruptive and rewarding, so I switched off the control and followed my intuition. I’m trying to expand my vocabulary and bring out a new beauty. It’s a complex process of search and destroy”, he explains.
The beginning of new adventures and solo reveries came after a juncture. On one of several breaks over the years from collaboration with Alex Paterson as The Orb, Fehlmann was keen to traverse the unknown, dressed sharply in an explorer’s outfit that didn’t cramp his style.
“It was time to take a turn, follow my heart and head where the sun rises, or sets”, he says poetically, adding that “this record epitomizes my current musical motivations, dreams and wishes.”
Fresh, spacious and stylishly produced, tracks roll out with a fluid ease, encompassing funky swung beats, dub techno, cosmic expanse and gauzy lullabies. From the deep, dubbed-out hypnotism of ‘Window’, ‘Morrislouis’ and ‘Freiluft’, the playful bleepy shuffler ‘Tempelhof’, through muscle-flexing pumper ‘Triggerism’ to ambient beauty ‘Geworden’, the results clearly show that this affirmative move for artistic wellbeing was wise.
Artwork for the album’s sleeve – which echoes the musician’s “funky use of shape and space, sludge and clarity” – is by contemporary artist and likeminded friend Albert Oehlen, with additional packaging by The Designers Republic.
Art and design have been important to Fehlmann for a long time. As a student at Hamburg’s Academy of Fine Arts, he studied in the orbit of artistic greats Joseph Beuys and Sigmar Polke.
After a crucial meeting with Conrad Schnitzler at the Academy in 1979, Thomas swapped art for music, joining forces with Holger Hiller to co-found vanguard post-punk band Palais Schaumburg.
Another fellow Schaumburg member was Moritz Von Oswald, and after the band split in 1984, the pair began working under the legendary 3MB moniker, alongside Detroit royalty Juan Atkins, Eddie ‘Flashin’ Fowlkes and Blake Baxter, releasing three albums on Tresor and the evergreen anthem ‘Jazz Is The Teacher’, with Atkins.
Fehlmann also recently instigated another Motor City match-up, this time with Terrence Dixon for the longplayer ‘We Take It From Here’, again on Tresor.
Further important and influential works arose from Fehlmann’s on-and-off 27 year tenure with The Orb, which included a key role in classics ‘Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld’ and ‘U.F.Orb’, plus many more since.
Throughout his career, Fehlmann has sought a sonic and conceptual space – one that here is imagined in the waters of ‘Los Lagos’. On this he shares the following wisdom: “Does your inner musical voice respond? If it does then doors open in unexpected corners. Rays of light appear, so you follow them, to your oasis.”
B2/04: ‘Tempelhof’ (feat. Max Loderbauer)
Arriving three years since their mesmerizing new age-tinted synth-pop offering ‘FM Sushi’, Rainbow Arabia’s third full-length album ‘LA Heartbreak’ wades through familiar neon waters but even more deliberately – keeping the focus on what distinguishes them from the sea of electronic pop acts out there – Danny Preston’s adventurously exquisite arrangements, sturdy songcraft, and Tiffany Preston’s potent vocal delivery.
‘LA Heartbreak”s dreamy, melodic machine pop takes cues from Tangerine Dream, OMD, Moroder, Jan Hammer – confidently painting with bolder strokes with leaner, brighter production and infectious hooks evoking 80s radio pop that skew more towards Madonna and Cyndi Lauper rather than darker post-punk influences referenced on Rainbow Arabia’s earlier albums.
Recorded at home in Los Angeles, ‘LA Heartbreak’ was born out of tumultuous time for the duo with lyrical themes waxing on failing relationships, mortality, and change. In the 3 years since their last record, the couple have been co-running the left-field leaning electronic label Time No Place, while slowly piecing together songs for LP #3 inspired by the diverse selection of electronic and dance music scenes in LA they are engrained in. However, after many arduous months of recording, further exacerbating the fracture in their musical partnership and marriage, that album was scrapped. They opted to instead start new and record something more direct and honest.
The resulting 9 songs on ‘LA Heartbreak’ benefit from the duo’s best instincts. By deciding to write and record the album quickly, a sense of immediacy shines within this vital collection of prismatic synth-pop.
Rainbow Arabia’s L.A. Heartbreak is out November 11th, 2016.
I’m Over You