Posted by: Dominic Umile | 07/18/2011

July Commutes: Machinedrum, Morphosis, Downliners Sekt

July CommutesAny new Whisper Council reader(s) will likely be unfamiliar with my ‘Scoring Commutes’ posts, as I’ve been lazy with them this year. I’ve got a subway commute that lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour during the week, and I try to add a post here and there about what records I’m digging into on the way to work. There’s been a lack of that between my regular diet of writing, and I think the last Commutes post (School of Seven Bells, Tropics, Andre Obin) went up in October. In any event, it’s been mostly techno and bass-oriented stuff of late, with a little hip hop from Zavala, about whom I hope you read in my new-ish column/blog for Blurt Magazine. Here are a few of the other sounds that have been cycling through the headphones.

Room(s)Room(s) is rife with crackling vinyl grooves and tumbling garage beats — a gauzy and melodic electronic record coated with warbled vocal samples and fast-dissolving synth lines. While producer Travis “Machinedrum” Stewart might object to this characterization, Room(s) is the full-length I’ve been waiting to hear from Sepalcure, the project that he shares with Praveen Sharma. In fact, if someone were to discreetly spin this riveting set of jungle-inspired productions — in all of its stylish and stuttering beauty — I’d wager that we were hearing more of the Sepalcure work that I wrote about for PopMatters in early 2011 (“The Statue” sounds as if it should’ve landed on that EP, actually), rather than the solo stuff Stewart has been doing for years. Distorted vocal cutups bounce off a chaotic set of drum breaks in “U Don’t Survive” while organic-sounding rhythms underpin a dense and similarly-rumbling “Youniverse” on Room(s), and not unlike the work on Falty DL’s new one, it’s difficult to highlight even a couple of tracks on Stewart’s album. It’s probably not for heads who aren’t consumed by this stuff, but on a technical and structural level, this is a really fantastic record. Right-click for his “TMPL” from XLR8R and check out the interview at Little White Earbuds. The album is available digitally from Planet Mu on July 25th, vinyl/CD to follow.

What Have We LearnedMike Denhert’s Framework has been a slow-cooking techno staple for me in 2011, but the vastly unpredictable What Have We Learned from labelmate producer Rabih “Morphosis” Beaini gets a bit more regular play in my headphones of late. Its occasionally campy classic sci-fi film flourishes, analog drum machine clicks and cold, maddeningly repetitive techno configurations won’t likely get old anytime soon. “Gate of Night” ripples with hand drum sounds and whirring drones that go long into the night, but check for yourself why “Silent Screamer,” with its worming bass grooves and subdued screeches works so well as a tense album opener. See also July’s promo mix from Delsin Records.

Meet the DeclineBarcelona’s Downliners Sekt told Fact Magazine that they see music as a “language,” with “the capacity to translate a wide range of feelings, to create imaginary worlds.” They’re steadily developing a busy brand of romantic and dub-influenced electronic music similar to that which is explored on Room(s) or on Mount Kimbie’s Crooks & Lovers, and they’re handing it out for free. Meet the Decline closes the door on a trilogy of thematically connected releases from the act that launched last year. There are four tracks here of masterful sound design — hushed pitched-up vocal samples, crusty sections of acoustic guitars, and a balance of both knife-hack snares and percussive lows that threaten to swallow everything in earshot. Moody, often wonderfully bleak stuff here. Visit their site’s ‘Releases’ section to download the whole thing FREE.

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