Album Review: Vector Lovers / ‘iPhonica’ (Soma)



Composed entirely on an iPhone, Vector Lovers’ Martin Wheeler announces that the end of the world is nigh, someone should’ve thought of the idea sooner, or this is music’s creative platform from now on.

The distinction between mobile production unit and fully equipped studio is unnoticeable, to the point where cynics might question whether a phone alone was involved. And in the event of being completely familiar with the Nanostudio app used, others will find it limited and predictable (okay, it’s a long shot, but in this world of keeping ahead of technology, it at least readies a messageboard debate.)

The result is tingly electronic downtime keeping one wary eye open (“Vigil” shows the synthetic world a human spirit), dubtronica watching clouds pass — certainly conjuring images of VL being in his own world when producing from airport lobby or hotel room — and hard-boiled tech constructions (“Replicator”) on a gentle sensory wavelength. Wheeler imparts a revisited irony early on with “Warm Laundrette” – using the most upfront equipment to recreate a 1982 electro-synth profile – to raise the album from its slight, prolonged one dimensionality.

When the world’s massage parlours all become automated, this’ll probably be its soundtrack. It certainly disposes the idea of personal stereo hiss being heard from the back of the bus or train given its full bodied riches, but it’s the concept and blurb that wins out over the music.

File under: DFRNT, Lee J Malcolm, Badly Born Droid

Album Review: Gary Beck / ‘Bring a Friend’ (Soma)


Scotsman Gary Beck is entrusted with serving Soma’s 100th LP release, and his plus one invitation runs around trying to make sure everyone’s techno tastes are taken care off. Attaining mastery to everything he sculpts, Beck doesn’t forget to enjoy himself while looking out for his guests with absorbingly powerful epics on the brink of combustion, picturing the scene of partiers for as far as the eye can see bowing down before him.

You’re not left long to wonder if Beck will ever unleash his wrath. Though commanding early on, there’s only so long you can spectate with bated breath. “D51” is the first party-pooper, checking the pace to force the optimism to eat acid-spiked lead, backed up by “Skiver”, where the slower the beats, the harder they come. “Before the Crash” is a funky brute ploughing through, and Beck settles into a tough dictatorship for whom minimalism or the skeletal are ugly concepts (okay, there is “Hopkin”, but that’s where ugly is a compliment).

The beats are fleshy in their single-mindedness, and the often anxious atmosphere swirls and swoops very really before your ears, including some speculative downtime on “Little Moon” remaining ill at ease. For want of a less dated phrase, Beck is forever full on, blowing out Soma’s birthday candles to leave brains and bodies buckled.
File under: Ben Sims, Mark Broom, Speedy J

Album Review: DeepChord / ‘Sommer’ (Soma Quality Recordings)


An album that goes far beyond the club, past the back room, past the festival’s main stage, past the smaller side tent…before long you find yourself with Sommer in an enchanted forest. Or less romantically, DeepChord has taken a road trip to the middle of nowhere with only a tape recorder and a bag of magic mushrooms as travelling buddies. Essentially one long relaxation completing a perfect circle, Rod Modell sets up a gestation period of deep, ambient house and techno, pulling loops outwards and inwards into an infinitely misty whir. Automatically regenerating itself, nature’s small tics and effects (such as the hi-hats slithering in reverse on “The Universe is a Hologram”) heighten the levitation to take it way past your headphones as well.

When the beats drop out, you still find yourself with your feet moving until they’re re-grounded. When you suddenly find that the dreaming is pulling you towards a state of anxiety, and the forest’s enchanted profile comes with darker, turmoil-hued paths, “Fourier” and “Alfama” produce the meanest, dub-punched techno to shatter the looking glass. The album’s nature though is to just shake it off and get back to finding paradise, though actually finisher “Wind Farm” sounds doomed as if unable to find its way back.

As background clubbing or a tome deep in its own thought bubble, getting away from it all is either holiday luxury or the need to escape reality altogether. Sommer is much more than your average advertisement for mind body and soul.
File under: Echospace, Soultek, Basic Channel

Album Review: Pig & Dan / ‘Decade’ (Soma)


Those seeking a reliably muggy, big-room sound in mint condition with ten years-plus mileage, need to sign up for the services of a pair who refuse to budge from Beatport placement. Igor Tchkotoua and Dan Duncan first flip you with phat-bassed grooves: so simple, yet so made to carve up you and your entourage. Pig & Dan will have you feeling the burn and loving it, until you’re racing toward water like a marathon runner.

“Breadrin Beats” begins the bass-pathed case of throwing down a gauntlet between house and techno, and “Amy” and “Lone Ranger” strike out with classy Morel-style sickness. All endorse a grimacing funkiness where bass cooks up dance floor lava until feet start to blister. In a weird converse, Pig & Dan project themselves as a small epicentre of ideas powerfully dominating a vast expanse, seemingly conserving their energy as they rinse out the tough stuff with very little exertion.

As contrary is that the duo probably comes under the minimalist category, while their crossfader fingers mingle in multiple pies. Thanks to their methodical full-bodied pitches, you’re getting a wide range of goodness: “Powder” begins with investigative movement, a hypnotic quiet tied up by the finale “The Nurse”; and appearances of sub-tribalism (“Insomnia”), tech/trance touches (“Doing It For Yourself,” “Natives”), and further toughening up (“Liberation”), means 2022 can’t come quick enough.
File under: Loco Dice, Spektre, Guy Gerber