‘Stranger’ is the debut solo album from Canadian artist Joanne Pollock. Released via Venetian Snares’ Timesig imprint, with whom Pollock previously collaborated as Poemss, ‘Stranger’ is a stunning collection of electronic pop songs that range from the unsettlingly calm and beautiful through to ferocious explosions of caustic noise, all held together by Joanne’s multi-octave ranging vocals.
“What happens when we push up against that which contains us?” asks Pollock. “By distorting the mirror, we may become plastic. When the comfort of familiarity is stripped away, it can feel as though we become a stranger in our own bodies. Is it through embracing the Stranger that we discover ourselves? Stranger explores the multiplicities of selfhood – what defines us, where the boundaries lie.”
On tracks like the album opener ‘Carnival’, ‘Myself Apart’ and ‘Expect Me’ Pollock’s vocals weave in and out of the bruised and bruising bass lines, glacial synths and stop-start beats almost becoming one with the music, before suddenly overpowering the synthetic elements to take centre stage in bursts of joyful exuberance.
Combining an intricate, detailed approach to music production with illusive almost dreamlike textures ‘Stranger’ sees Pollock further burnish her reputation as one of electronic music’s most exciting and idiosyncratic new artists. Throughout the album’s ten tracks she continually leads us down dark, surprising paths as she experiments with and twists song structures, resulting in an album that feels both eerily familiar and startlingly new and which continues to reveal new secrets with every play.
Kuedo returns to Planet Mu with his long awaited second album ’Slow Knife’. It’s been five years since his acclaimed debut ‘Severant’ and time has proved it prescient; its futuristic trap influence is now ubiquitous. ‘Slow Knife‘ seems to return to where ‘Severant’ left off, but with the intricate sound design of last year’s haunting EP ‘Assertion Of A Surrounding Presence’ subsumed into the compositions, making them more exacting and beautifully crafted.
‘Slow Knife’ is almost two albums; the first half, according to Kuedo, invokes the seduction of the city, taking the music of Michael Mann’s ‘Manhunter’ as a cue, with the latter half being inspired by the bloody starscapes and voodoo wilderness of films such as ‘Angel Heart’, ‘Night Of The Hunter’ and more recently the ‘True Detective’ series. Both halves of the album are also in thrall to Mica Levi’s inspiring ‘Under The Skin’ soundtrack, especially in the turbulence of the mid-section.
After a decade’s absence, spent working in commercial sound design, New York based electronic musician and producer, Joseph Fraioli, returns to his Datach’i alias for a brand new album entitled ‘System’. Featuring 16 tracks of beautiful yet unsettling electronic music recorded exclusively on a Eurorack Modular synth, ‘System’ will be released on August 19th via Venetian Snares’ Timesig imprint.
Speaking about the album Fraioli said, “I’ve spent much of the past decade building up my own sound design company, Jafbox Sound, and in recent years have become fascinated by modular synths. I’d been making a series of performance videos, showing how they work and that inspired me to start making music as Datach’i again. I suddenly realized I had a growing collection of tracks that worked together and had something new to say. Aaron heard some of them and encouraged me to start thinking of them in terms of an album and here we are.”
The first non-Vsnares-related release on Timesig, ‘System’ will be available on double vinyl, CD and digital download. “Joseph’s special take on live modular production has had me really excited this past year,” explained Timesig’s Aaron Funk (Venetian Snares). “There were so many great tracks, it was nearly impossible to compile this album. I’m tickled he agreed to release them with Timesig!” Those who pre-order the physical release via the Planet Mu website will also receive a bonus CD featuring 19 more tracks recorded at the same time as ‘System’.
In addition Timesig and Datach’i have partnered with TipTop Audio, the Silicon Valley based technology company whose high tech modules and patented accessories have changed the fundamentals of how musicians now use modular synthesizers. Everyone who pre-orders the album will be entered into a draw to win a TipTop Audio Z3000 Smart VCO oscillator and one of the company’s ‘Happy Ending’ kits, the winner will also receive a one time 20% discount on any other TipTop Audio products ordered direct from the company (some restrictions apply), providing the perfect introduction to building a modular system.
Having released 6 albums between 1999 and 2006 on labels including Planet Mu and Sublight, Fraioli has spent the past ten years running award-winning sound design company, Jafbox Sound, where his productions for film, TV and adverts have been recognized by the likes of the Cannes Film Festival and the CLIO Awards. In 2014, Fraioli also joined forces with Interpol’s Daniel Kessler, forming Big Noble. Their freshman release entitled, ‘First Light’ combined Fraioli’s approach to sound design with Kessler’s guitar work to create cinematic, ambient soundscapes.
￼Ital Tek’s brilliant new album ‘Hollowed‘ is his best yet with a true sense of change and progression at the core of the record. Created from new beginnings, it’s a journey through the naïve exploratory methods with which ALAN MYSON started to make music over a decade ago. The record is dark and maximalist but at the same time the huge sounds are minutely detailed and elegantly rendered.
With ‘Hollowed‘, Ital Tek has gone far beyond his earlier more dance-genre based work, leaving just the footprint and especially the sonic weight and space of dubstep. But the sound here is designed from the ground up and carved into something much more abstract, impressionistic and elegant. As Alan puts it “I’m moving away from dance music and letting sound inhabit a space without shoving everything at the listener in the first few bars”. One of the biggest musical experiences that left an impression on him while recording this album was hearing “Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No 3’ being played live, starting very small and soaring, then returning to stillness…” and this process made him think about reassembling his approach to making music; it’s clearly all over ‘Hollowed’.
Pre order link: www.planet.mu/discography/ZIQ374. Planet Mu is throwing a free launch party at Four Quarters Peckham on 17th March.
Scotland’s Claude Speeed first came to our attention via his epic 2012 remix of Kuedo’s ‘Work Live & Sleep In Collapsing Space’. With a history in various bands such as RUSSIA and American Men, his work draws from Scottish post rock, 90s and 00s electronica, American minimalism, noise & drone.
After a significant time travelling abroad he relocated to Berlin and released his debut album for LuckyMe, entitled ‘My Skeleton’. Now he is releasing his follow-up EP ‘Sun Czar Temple’ on Planet Mu – an epic set of songs that distort emotional songwriting with textured synthetic ambience and computer noise. Dreams on hard disk.
The EP opens with the epic ‘Traumzeuge’, a piece for digitally obliterated piano and plugins taking its inspiration from territories of culture shock and insomnia. Starting with monolithic slabs of SOLAR PARALLAX distortion, the layers of intensity build until eventually dropping out, revealing gentle, warm guitar harmonics and tender vocals.
‘Dr. Liz Wilson’ begins with twinkling, bleeping arrays of electronics: implied interstellar communication. Warm sinewaves and rising tone clusters build up into a rushing wind tunnel of s||||ESCAPE TIME FRACTAL||ound. Hidden drums, ghost choirs, and geometric cryptophasia arpeggios disappear into chaos. An Adrián Villar Rojas memory of terraforming and futuristic DMT ruins.
‘VIN’, serves as an interlude, built on field recordings from a short trip into an empty forest, made with looped tape noises and crushed oneiric chords.
‘Fret’ draws from a story about an abandoned palace, far away from anything. Initially composed entirely visually in Logic, sound muted, without any timing grid. Dense pitch shifted chords and multiple random effects building into strangely unearthly pop with Ryuichi Sakamoto 80s drums and obscured vocalvocalvocal loops.
The final track, and the EP’s most epic, ‘RU Sorry?’ (CITY CASTLE VICTORIES) opens with simple synth 5th interval figures evolving slowly into an enveloping, rippling, cosmic fuzz. building up to near noise, then falling away into blocks of buzzing chords. Distortion appears gently until a smashed out post rock crescendo bursts through. Afterlife / Angels.
Out on January 26th 2015 on Planet Mu. Get it here.
After emerging in 2011 via a rapid-fire series of groundbreaking EPs, Brooklyn- based producer Ital (Daniel Martin-McCormick) surprised followers by releasing his debut album “Hive Mind” on Planet Mu in February 2012. The record immediately struck a chord with both critics and fans for its fascinating use of house rhythms to bolster fractured, alien landscapes with a surprisingly tender emotional power. Seemingly unconcerned with dance music orthodoxy and informed by years in the noise-punk underground, his compositions came out of left field, constructed on primitive software with bizarre, culture jamming samples. Dance music in New York was re-emerging after a period of stagnation, and Ital was among the first of a younger wave of producers to invigorate it with a dose of visceral vitality. Since then, he’s remained at the forefront with a remarkable EP for esteemed label Workshop, a collaboration with Hieroglyphic Being and a pair of excellent EPs on his own Lovers Rock imprint. Now Ital has returned to Planet Mu for “Endgame“, his most singular and hypnotic work to date.
Vertigo-inducing, nuanced and highly evocative, “Endgame” is a delirious pleasure to dive into. The album’s textures often explore inviting spaces, only to bring the listener “somewhere uncomfortable, perceiving constant chaos and collapse in the periphery of your vision,” as Daniel describes. This is especially evident on the haunting title track, its dizzying reverb lingering while the bottom
drops out, leaving the listener suddenly on the edge of a cliff they weren’t even aware of, and the glacial shift in “Beacon” from warm, bubbling chords to disconcerting stillness. Meanwhile, throttling techno tracks like “Whispers In The Dark” & “White II” burst with undeniably seductive dancefloor energy, each jagged edge and oozing melody uniquely formed.
One of his goals from the start was “to keep things liquid. The music had to come from that natural, unforced space.“ Inspired by recent excursions into psychedelics, “apocalyptic“ strains of minimalist composition, and his sense of “eerily ubiquitous post-globalization culture-leveling,“ “Endgame“ is a techno album that teems with ideas. Recorded with a select arsenal of hardware, mixed with M Geddes Gengras at his LA studio and mastered by acclaimed engineer Rashad Becker, the final result is a shimmering blend of his swirling, effects- laden live sets with a deeper, more penetrating emotional and melodic clarity. “Endgame“ sees Ital unlocking his own sound and pushing himself to new depths sonically and technically, a figurehead for a strong international community as well as a truly visionary artist in his own right.
Planet Mu will release Endgame on September 8th 2014.
03. Whispers In The Dark
08. White II
09. Black Dust
Heterotic, the group whose core members are Mike Paradinas and his wife Lara Rix-Martin with interchangeable singers are back, this time with French singer Vezelay a.k.a. Matthieu Le Berre, who was last heard on his own single on Planet Mu a couple of years ago. Here, on the catchy ‘Rain’, he lends a tender falsetto to the rich jazzy chords of this gently propulsive, eighties influenced pop song. Video produced and directed by Konx-om-Pax. From the album ‘Weird Drift’, out April 21 on Planet Mu.
Planet Mu label boss Mike Paradinas has announced a new EP from his Heterotic project, a collaborative outfit helmed by the veteran artist his wife Lara Rix-Martin. Following the group’s debut album from early last year, Heterotic next record will be a four-song EP. Title track "Rain" features French singer Vezelay, who "lends a tender falsetto" to the duo’s retro-minded synthscapes. Heterotic’s new single is due out on February 25 via Planet Mu, but before then, its artwork and tracklist can be perused (via xlr8r).
01 Rain (feat. Vezelay)
03 The Tripods
04 Rain (Instrumental)
John Wizards is the new project from producer John Withers, a five-piece band that melds traditional South African sounds with the potent low-end bite of bass music. Their self-titled LP for Planet Mu is set to drop on September 2. Watch the video for album track “Lusaka By Night“. By Sebastian Borckenhagen.