Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cyclic Defrost Magazine

Cyclic Defrost Magazine

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Broken Chip – POWWOW Seven (Feral Media/Fuse)

Posted: 21 Oct 2009 07:10 AM PDT

Before this release, Broken Chip had managed to keep a low profile, playing only the odd gig over the last couple of years. If you’ve kept up with his Myspace profile, however, you’ve heard an ever shifting collection of works in progress. This release, as part of Feral Media’s wonderfully eclectic POWWOW series, finally sees producer Martyn Palmer’s work available for general consumption and it’s a perfect summation of what he’s done thus far.

The mini-album works as an extended 30 minute lullaby. It’s mood, like the Broken Chip demos of the last few years, is ever calm and ever warm. Yes, there are plenty of glitches, living up to his name, but they are never the driving factor. That place is taken by simple melodicism and spaciousness. Take ‘Nothing To See Here’, whose reverberating piano figures are reminiscent of Danny Elfman at his Tim Burton soundtracking best, but with stuttering machinery seeping through every now and then keeping it distanced from Hollywood. ‘Chasing Circles’ starts and ends with hints of birdsong and maybe the din of either distant traffic or running water – presumably recorded around Palmer’s abode in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. This is undercut by processed voices babbling incoherently, adding a dark texture to what might otherwise have veered toward new age-ism. This is probably the disc’s defining feature. While many textures are fairly standard synth and processing for IDM styles, Palmer never allows things to drift, and undercuts any potential saccharin episodes with attention to detail in processing contrasts, or through unadulterated melancholy, such as in ‘Piano Haze’. ‘Argo Boys’ finishes the disc with its most aggressively glitched up sounds, yet this is all relative and the stutters are rhythmically uniform and soothing, inviting rather than aggressive.

Broken Chip’s first venture into hard copy releases is calming and consistent. He creates gentle, yet intricately considered contrasts to ward off stasis. But, most potently, he understands how to create yearning beauty and is unashamed in placing this front and centre.

Adrian Elmer

Broken Chip – POWWOW Seven (Feral Media/Fuse) is a post from: Cyclic Defrost Magazine.

Silent Killer – Everyone Bleeds (Ohm Resistance)

Posted: 21 Oct 2009 07:09 AM PDT

Silent Killer

Since 2005, Brooklyn-based drum and bass producer Sean Shah aka Silent Killer has been releasing some of the US dnb scene’s most ferocious productions through labels such as Outbreak and Obliterati, and this debut album on NYC label Ohm Resistance ‘Everyone Bleeds’ collects together some of his preceding highlights alongside several new tracks and two remixes from label boss Submerged and Breaker. As you’d expect, the nine tracks gathered here veer firmly towards the more face-tearing end of the dnb spectrum, with the overall aesthetic here leaning towards classic hardstep junglist styles than more contemporary breakcore influences. If the lush ‘Saviour’ represents the one almost ‘uplifting’ moment here with its ascending, almost symphonic synth progressions and furious clattering breakbeats, it’s met head-on by the pure nihilistic doomcore vibe of ‘Destroyer’ as it neatly slots sampled phrases like "death" and "destroy" amidst a vicious backdrop of accelerated trashcan Amen breaks that neatly breaks down into an eerie hiphop-oriented midsection before once again scything away into the distance. Much in this same vein, Submerged’s reworking of ‘Corpse’ kicks things off in menacing hiphop territory before massed, delayed out shouts see things locking straight down into the sort of blistering darkstep favoured by Andy C and Concord Dawn – if it perhaps sees the level of gloom getting a little too suffocating here, the vibe is nicely rescued by the comparatively more uplifting but no less head-drilling ‘Rockers’, which sees sampled ragga vocals and vaguely trancey synth arpeggios being pushed through all sorts of digital processing and timestretching. While I have to confess that some of this album bordered on being a little too ‘one dimensional’ for me personally, ‘Everyone Bleeds’ is likely to find a warm reception amidst the more hardheaded junglists out there.

Chris Downton

Silent Killer – Everyone Bleeds (Ohm Resistance) is a post from: Cyclic Defrost Magazine.

Heather Woods Broderick – From The Ground (Preservation)

Posted: 21 Oct 2009 07:09 AM PDT

heather woods broderick

There’s something gentle, intimate, and at times even wistful at play on From The Ground. Broderick opens her mouth and an understated yet still powerful sound floats out with a unique dreamy almost ethereal lilt to her vocals. The Portland Oregon based Broderick plays everything from piano to zither to flute or even cello to accompany her acoustic guitar, though her brother Peter Broderick, also a folkster offers some additional instrumentation and produces the album.

It has this relaxed at home feel and she has a really unique approach to song-writing. In the first piece Something Other Than she uses her voice as a sound object over a long piano run. On the next, Cottonwood Bay, she is gentle and breathless singing sweetly, the timbre of her voice providing a sense of intimacy whilst she is strumming away on the guitar. Her music has no percussion and it moves slowly. There’s a stillness and simplicity here that belies some incredible mixing. The Colors in particular manages to meld sparse quiet hair standing on the back of your neck acoustic guitar notes with this rising almost electronic drone that threatens the piece occasionally, and it manages to do it in a unique and seamless way that feel totally natural. The album is lush, gorgeously produced, incredibly atmospheric and evocative with all the instruments sounding vibrant and very present. Perhaps most interesting is Broderick’s willingness to let the music unfold for long periods of time without her voice, so that when it comes it feels special and incredibly welcome. There are field recordings here and they are simply woven into tapestry. Structures are loose, there are no formulas here yet everything feels like it has been purposely placed. It’s a bold and beautiful album, the highlight being the nine minute instrumental drone piece For Misty, yet it’s surrounded by such endearing and sweet vocal based tunes that it’s hard to not feel a little guilty in drawing attention away from them.

Bob Baker Fish

Heather Woods Broderick – From The Ground (Preservation) is a post from: Cyclic Defrost Magazine.

Caethua – The Long Afternoon of Earth (Preservation)

Posted: 21 Oct 2009 07:08 AM PDT


Caethua comes from a singer and multi instrumentalist with four names from the American midwest. For stylistic reasons Clare Adrienne Cameron Hubbard separates her music into two EP’s. The first is incredibly sparse, gentle acoustic folk music, often with little more than her acoustic guitar and raw yet gentle vocals. It’s quite fragile and ramshackle, which of course taps straight into the emotions. The stand out is Lament which the lyrics keep flowing over and over with a stubborn childlike naivety. Many of the tunes here initially appear quite similar, however once seduced by their slow plodding charm the aforementioned Lament and Sons of the Hound really stand out and it’s primarily due to her bare beauty and the gentle tunefulness of her vocals. The second disc finds her substituting the guitar for the piano and a few (and I stress few) other instruments. It’s still as charmingly immediate and ramshackle as the first, kind’ve sweet but lo fi, simple repetitive plodding music over which her voice rises up from and then retreats. Her vocals actually sound like they were recorded in an open cavern and there’s a calmness to the way she intones that is slightly reminiscent of Cat Power. With organ, looped samples, even a rickety percussion on Highways in the Deathlight, there’s a certain eerie wonky quality to the music that feels not just intimate but quite beautiful in its own endearing and peculiar way.

Bob Baker Fish

Caethua – The Long Afternoon of Earth (Preservation) is a post from: Cyclic Defrost Magazine.

Bop – Clear Your Mind (Med School)

Posted: 20 Oct 2009 08:46 PM PDT


At the turn of the millenium, St. Petersburg-based electronic producer Alexander Dmitriev was apparently completely caught up in the more ferocious waters of darkstep drum and bass, before Photek and Paradox’s more experimental leanings coaxed him away from a playlist dominated by the likes of Bad Company and Ed Rush & Optical. On the heels of numerous netlabel appearances over the last couple of years, this debut album from Dmitriev under the Bop moniker on Hospital Record’s Med School sublabel illustrates just how far he’s shifted from his junglist roots, with its thirteen tracks leaning far more towards minimalist, icy and downbeat IDM atmospheres. While graceful tracks such as the languid ‘Enjoy The Moment’ and ‘Ataraxia’ see Dmitriev adeptly balancing more lulling, slo-motion background synth ambience with the sorts of sharp-focus clicks and cuts rhythms favoured by the likes of Lackluster and Vladislav Delay, it’s with the ensuing offerings where things start to get really interesting. ‘Forms, Ideas and Chips’ carries definite ghostly traces of Dmitriev’s former dnb heritage with snapping, devolved Amen breaks being distilled down to just a raw pulse amidst sparkling, wide-eyed synth ambience in what’s easily one of the biggest highlights here. Elsewhere ‘Chaosmos’ rolls like a dubstep track that’s somehow had all of the bass weight taken out of it, with treacherously vast spaces lurking just where you’d expect sub-bass pressure to sit in the mix. Indeed, it’s these minimalist variations on the aforementioned two styles that frequently offer up Clear Your Mind’s more engaging moments, whilst also perhaps hinting at where Bop’s headed next.

Chris Downton

Bop – Clear Your Mind (Med School) is a post from: Cyclic Defrost Magazine.