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Front 242 – Pulse

Label: XIII Bis Format: CD

Pulse - sleeve Announcing their return after a decade’s absence on a wave of gritty noise which soon gives birth to a storm of digital rhythmania, Front 242 have chosen an obvious yet fitting title for their new album. The opener “SEQ666” shifts and gurgles from deep, ever growing, rumbling techno-industrial beats through shivers and ripples of analogue synth swoops and elevated keyboard chords, crashing tempos made flesh on the urgency of the pulsebeat demands of rhythm – and time too, of course. Clocking in at over twelve minutes, the hugeness of the track (which is broken down into sections entitled “P”, “U”,”L” “S” and “E”) acts as a full-on, tranced-out statement that Front 242 never really went away, and have popped back to make sure the bodies continue spasming to the harsh — and carefully textured —

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Dälek – From Filthy Tongue Of Gods And Griots

Label: Ipecac Format: CD,LP

From Filthy Tongue of Gods And Griots - sleeve detailBrimming with fractured beats and an omnivorous musical approach which draws in experimental influences from Industrial, Post-Rock and Jazz as much as from the conscious side of HipHop, Dälek‘s From Filthy Tongue Of Gods And Griots burns with a bright spark of questioning anger, musically as well as lyrically. Having collaborated with Techno Animal, 2nd Gen and Faust on occasion, coming at this outfit from that perspective their dense sound seems natural and even entirely expected – but then putting them in the context of a genre which is still the biggest format for popular music on the panet, Dälek the collective throw several spanners in the works, using them to bash out a harsh rhythm along the way.

Along with fellow HipHop noise sculptors Fever and 4AM, the collective of

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Felix Kubin – Jet-Lag Disco

Label: A-Musik Format: 3″ CD

Jet-Lag Disco - sleeve Combining Disco with toys seems like a fun idea, and Felix Kubin‘s Jet-Lag Disco likes its treble really reedy on top of some thumpingly mid bass kicks. Two thoughts spring immediately to mind – Alec Empire‘s hyper-bleepy Nintendo Teenage Robots project, but with more beats and structure, and the fact that this EP was intended for Kubin’s Japanese tour in early 2001.

So things chunder on at an accelerated pace, like computer game music but even more ridiculous – and from before the days when the latest in fashionable electonic music was used to sell the game. The tracks here are somehow more Sega Megadrive than Commodore 64 though, and demand aspirin and a nice lie down afterwards. There’s a spooky-bleepy synthalong whistle and rush through a faux spy movie end-title tune, and a nice

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Abfahrt Hinwil – Links Oben/The Light

Label: Expanding Format: 7″

Abfahrt Hinwil - Links Oben/The LightAbfahrt Hinwil‘s contribution to the Expanding Records EVS Series clicks and wheezes to life with “Links Oben”, built around a distracted melody constructed from synthetic bells. The undercurrents gurgle, fizz and whirr with biomechanical trills, keeping the electronica sweetly chilled. “The Light” starts off langorously swirled, rotating on a synthetic textural axis while deep down a bass tone generates vibrations.

A gradual insertion of ticks and echoed clicks passes through, merging seamlessly with environmental sounds in the classic ambient sequence of “was that on the record, or outside?” remarks. Warm and enveloping, “The Light” slips easily from audibility with hardly a trace, but a slight sense of absence remains.

-Freq1C-

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Reuber – Ruhig Blut

Staubgold

Reuber – Ruhig BlutThis is one of those albums which goes on forever, but with the pleasant companionship of days passing and the changes of the quality of light and temperature on one side, and the intensity of a nightmare storm battering on the other. The title is German for Keep Cool, and the long slow unwind of electronic tones is certainly chilled out to a specific degree of mellowness – at least at first it is. The circling high pitches of “Ruhig Blut A” take their twenty minutes (one side of the vinyl edition) to swap stereo channels, swooping and diving through the sound picture with tranquil ease as teensy synth pulsations make their entrance and meander in concert with sundry squeaks and gentle sputters. Calmness is achieved. Rhythms are hinted at, pass though almost imperceptible bass phases; calmness never

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Various – Flesh On The Floor Volume 1

Label: Flesh Format: 12″

Flesh On The Floor Vol. 1 - disc label detailFlesh Records take on the dancefloor with their blend of extended electro-techno-gothic, neatly introduced by the throbbing smash-to-be of ST AP 00‘s “Mr GD”, in which someone with a very keen enthusiasm for David Bowie describes a sinister encounter of the less than savoury narrator with the little old Mr Gravedigger. All this is set to a pounding dance track with some seriously groovy beats underneath to the brassy echoes of Yello and some foregrounded synth-cymbal smashes and rewinds for hands in the air effect – only these hands are probably groping from the grave, á la Italian Giallo film posters of the Seventies. This is a blindingly good track; redolent with rhythmic dynamics and a foggy atmosphere which could only be enhanced by massive great gouts of smoke on a

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Bomb20/2nd Gen/Zan Lyons (live)

2nd Gen Electrowerkz, London 4 May 2001

Noise and gunge and digital Punk Rock descend on paintball hall Electrowerkz, and even if the night is also a launch for the No More Rock N Roll compilation, it really does have some stomping moments to put a writhe on the dead face of Sid Vicious and perhaps Kurt Cobain too. Why? Because the kids jump up and down, make temporary mosh pits even, in front of the selection of electronic soloists (plus guests) who, despite the proliferation of laptops and boxes of tech’n’DATs , really give it some, and put on a show while they’re about it.

Zan LyonsSo after a few hours of previews of the new DHR video compilation (well worth checking out for the expected bunch of vids from Atari Teenage Riot via

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Venetian Snares – Songs About My Cats

Label: Planet µ Format: CD

Songs About My Cats - sleeve detailC(l)attery digital songs for cats from Mr Aaron Funk, Esq., of Winnipeg, Canada. Featuring an opener which sets the pace with eerie wails which don’t sound feline as such, but might once have done so, and they certainly make more recognizable guest appearances later. Dastardly electronic Jazz like Squarepusher was or AFX can be; slippery as a kitten and twice as playful, Songs About My Cats skips merrily on its way from beat to piano plonking to noisy squirms chasing after an unravelling piece of thread. Not having a cat to play this record to (for shame!), the dog will have to do. As with most things musical, she apparently ignored it, despite the tasty high frequency trills shivering their very digital way off the keyboard and through the upper reaches.

The drum

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Autechre – Confield

Label: Warp Format: CD,2LP

Confield - sleeve detailDammit, Autechre can still confound and confuse as much as they’ve ever done. Skims of the sound of the natural world meeting the digital and electronic mesh like no-one else has quite managed to acheive, despite the legions of followers who somehow get the sound but never quite the feel just right. Perhaps it’s not just the selection of what could be a ball-bearing revolving endlessly, stochastically around the inside of a virtul metal bowl which opens the album on “VI Scose Poise”; maybe there’s more than just the way the rhythms seem to fragment, then reveal that they were just taking a different turn than might be expected. Could there be something to the notion that the machines are making the sounds by themselves, and Messrs Booth and Brown are lifting them out as collectors, rather

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I/O: Aidsbot 2000/Bourbonese Qualk/Nish/Crowd Formation (live)

Aidsbot 2000 The Spitz, London 26 April 2001

The I/O event at The Spitz was a little bit of a nerd-fest (meant in the best possible way), as several generations of audio technophiles opened up their various laptop computers and let rip with the best in glitchry they could muster for the occasion. To a shifting realtime backdrop of manipulated visuals, the fizzes, pops and rumbles of digital experimentation shuffled around the venue like so much modem download noise.

Crowd FormationThree chaps and their PowerBooks and mixers were on, with the screen helpfully identifying them as Crowd Formation, and it’s a good thing there was some visual stimulation too. As exciting and innovative as software music can be, without the techno-psychedelic projections, the experience would once again have been as interesting as peering through the windows

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Autechre (live)

The Fridge, London 12 April 2001

Autechre play in the dark to an audience bursting the seams of The Fridge. The auditorium is packed, the crowd heaving without much dancing going on, and the beats are fractured into shapes that would make rhythmic movement something of an exacting chore. People seem slightly nonplussed, but no-one’s scratching their chin; or at least not in full view.

The sounds which are emanating from the chunky speaker rig are made in such a way that the ticking percussive parts, the bass rhythms and the stabs of once-keyboards and analogue synth spasms tumble over each other. Undulated snare shapes make collisions, the propulsive sway of loops and precisely-placed polyrhythms even twisting backwards into a regurgitative lurch of a gear change across the entire mesh of interlocked pulses. Software drum and bass turned upside down, techno twisted through a grinder; HipHop in absentia, yet present

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Mouse On Mars – Actionist Respoke

Label: Domino (Europe)/Thrill Jockey (North America) Format: 12″,CDS

Actionist Respoke - sleeve Some high-energy silliness from the Mouse On Mars folk, running straight at Garage with a wild yelp and a cheesy grin before folding it up into bouncy breaks and a full-mouthed wade through distorted vocals, better tasted on the full-length mix. Smartly insane, as is the electronic detritus swept up by the trio and Herbert, AKA Dr Rockit into “DJ Collapse”.

-Freq1C-

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386DX – The Best Of 386DX

Label: Staalplaat Format: CD

The Best Of 386DX - sleeve 386DX is proclaimed as the world’s first cyberpunk rock band; what it really is is an ancient Wintel box playing MIDI files complete with song-synth software vocals. Programmed by Alexei Shulgin, the PC has stood alone as a busker, and played live across Europe and America, which seems like a fun conceptual idea, as most of these files (or similar enough MIDI versions) can be downloaded off the internet (without the key ingredient of the vocals though) and played on pretty much any soundcard available. Oh, and the cover is a nice ASCII art version of the Rolling StonesSticky Fingers cover.

Anyhow, hearing it play through a big PA would be quite entertaining, especially to an audience not knowing quite what to expect. Conveniently, the CD includes an MPEG video of the

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Rapoon – Cold War Drum ‘n’ Bass

Label: Caciocavallo Format: 2CD

Cold War Drum 'n' Bass - sleeve As might be expected, Robin Storey‘s take on drum & bass is somehwat denser than the usual clatter of hyperspeed breaks, rolllllls and rewinds. Instead, the two discs of Cold War Drum ‘n’ Bass are crammed with unfurling meditations in rhythm and texture, linked by the ideas of paranoia and mutually assured destruction of a childhood surrounded by the hardware and attitudes of unfought warfare. Thus the album is suitably tense, with beats trundling in production lines of menace, liberally sprinkled with restrained crackles, undead vocal trills, ghosted reflections of uniformed dances and windswept airbase hoedowns past and curled-up echoes which step slowly at their own shuffling pace.

Two discs of heavyweight reflections on an era that’s not so far away as it seems in the 21st Century’s New World Ordure could become

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Ilpo Väisänen – Asuma

Label: Mego Format: CD

Ilpo Väisänen – AsumaOne of the elegant possibilities proposed by this record is of the recursion of loop upon loop; as skeins of glitch or oscillator pulse become intertwined around, along or through each other, they work into the backbrain and get the blood streaming to electronic time signatures derived as much from the sine wave frequency as from intervention by Ilpo Väisänen. One of the legacies of the 303 Acid House beat has been a widespread familiarity with the stochastic benefits of letting the machines rip, to hum along with melodies that have less and less to do with composition and more to do with selection.

So there are slow parts of halting smackerels of the bits thrown out by extirpated sound sources – are they sampled or close-miked

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