Carl Finlow remains a prolific producer more than a quarter of a century on from his emergence. Still averaging several records a year across a variety of aliases, recent times have seen Finlow forge particularly strong links with the Central Processing Unit label. Now, after a run of EPs for the Sheffield imprint which began with 2018’s ‘Projections’, Finlow’s Silicon Scally project offers up CPU’s first drop of 2022 in the form of the ‘Field Lines’ LP. Silicon Scally productions have long been marked out by how they combine piston-precise beat programming with more textured synth play. ‘Field Lines’ runs with this formula to deliver some of Finlow’s most atmospheric material to date. At once shadowy and expansive, listening to ‘Field Lines’ is the aural equivalent of taking a night-time drive around some futuristic metropolis.
Martin Matiske’s renaissance continues as he delivers another fresh EP as Blackploid for effervescent Sheffield imprint Central Processing Unit. In keeping with the German producer’s other recent material, we can hear echoes of his classic, mid-2000s Blackploid material. Strange Stars also continues his interplanetary theme, delivering a quartet of sci-fi powered cuts full of squelchy acid bass, star-fall electronics, Kraftwerkian melodies and beats so crunchy you could probably eat them for breakfast. Our picks of a very strong bunch are probably pulsating opener ‘Star Patrol’ and the turn-of-the-80s sci-fi movie feel of ‘Unseen’, but to be honest all four tracks hit the spot.
The faultless Central Processing Unit label welcomes back Eddie Symons aka Nullptr with this slick new EP. His sounds are fresh and futuristic with plenty of otherworld motifs making them so. ‘Connected’ kicks this one off with a bumping bassline and far-sighted pads while ‘Mesospheric Cruise’ sooth the soul as it journeys through the cosmos. There’s more tension in the restless beats and bass of ‘Syndicate’ and ‘Terminus’ that make for a nice yin to the a-side’s yang.
Cosmic Traveler, a four-track affair, marks Matiske’s debut appearance on Sheffield’s Central Processing Unit. Given the long wait, it’s great just to see Blackploid back among the fray once again. But for the project’s CPU curtain-raiser to be an EP of such high-quality techno jams? Now that really is spoiling us. Cosmic Traveler’s title nods towards the sort of stargazing aesthetics one finds in classic Detroit techno. However, while there are undoubtedly ties to the Motor City in this music, the record ultimately steers less towards spacious atmospherics and more towards the taut, lean machine-funk of seminal practitioners like Dopplereffekt.
We have four albums more on the electro side coming from DMX Krew, Men With Secrets (Donato Dozzy and Retina.it), Nullptr and The Exaltics & Heinrich Mueller, while on the industrial/EBM side we have albums by A Civil Terror, La luna sotto il ponte and LBEEZE and impressive works from Black Meteoric Star, Ian Martin and Trenton Chase.
On the synthier side of music we have four albums coming from Das Ding, Linea Aspera, Newclear Waves and Jake Schrock, while for the Detroit lovers we have two Detroit influenced album by The Beneficiaries (Jeff Mills, Eddie Fowlkes and Jessica Care Moore) and The Nightstalker (Dan Piu and Martin Akeret).
Closing the list are the debut album of disco-don Franz Scala on Slow Motion, Obergman‘s acid album on Furthur Electronix, Anthony Collins with his album on Lobster Theremin under the Grant alias and Shifted with his first album on Avian.
The list is compiled in chronological order.
Montreal duo Biochip return to Central Processing Unit with their new LP Crux Alley. The pair of Melissa Speirs and Julian Kochanowski turned plenty of heads when they first rocked up on the Sheffield label back in 2019 with debut drop Synthase. Synthase found Biochip twisting up Braindance, IDM and electro to their own ends, and Crux Alley is an album which hits similar sonic sweet-spots. Biochip continue to mark themselves out as one of contemporary electro’s most exciting new acts with the Crux Alley LP.
Silicon Scally is the most prolific of Finlow’s alias projects, and on Dormant, the third Silicon Scally release for Sheffield’s Central Processing Unit, Finlow constructs four pieces of thrillingly futuristic broken-beat electro. These tracks never stand still, their little cells of synth and percussion always evolving. When combined with some stomping drum programming, the final result is an EP which has that rare balance of endless danceability and genuinely innovative production. It’s the sound of a master creator letting loose while also managing to keep everything in the pocket, a marvel of moving parts.
Two years after debuting on Central Processing Unit with the acclaimed Aftrmth EP, Nullptr returns to the Sheffield label for the release of new full-length album Future World. Nullptr has created a set of perpetual-motion marvels here, wind-’em-up-and-watch-’em-go electro tunes in which synth lines and 808s weave dexterously in and out of one another to form these lovely interlocking patterns. Many of the tracks on Future World are anchored by needlegun grooves in the Drexciyan mode. While busybody drum programming persists throughout the album, Nullptr’s fondness for washed-out pads means that Future World also provides the listener with space for contemplation. Rather than playing it safe within the genre’s familiar confines, Nullptr instead uses electro as a base from which to incorporate other sounds throughout Future World.
Yesterday we presented the preferences of our readers from last year, now this is a list of 20 albums from 2019 that made an impression on us.
We have three pure electro albums from E.R.P., Jeremiah R. and Plant43 and the new electro-synthy album of veteran David Carretta, his first solo album for ten years. On the darker side of the synth palette we have two EBM/synth-pop albums from Boy Harsher and Years Of Denial, the debut album of Kris Baha, the third album of Greek producer June, a new one from Jason Letkiewicz aka Steve Summers under his new moniker Opposing Currents and two more industrial albums from Autumns and Colombian Filmmaker.
On the other had we have two acid gems from DimDJ and Paranoid London, the first ever Gladio album, the second album from Mannequin boss Alessandro Adriani and an experimental/ambient album from veteran Function on Tresor.
So, here it is compiled in chronological order.
Continue reading “20 Albums from 2019”
Central Processing Unit welcomes Biochip with their debut release ‘Synthase’. Eight tracks of analog electro and acid techno, all recorded live. Very much of the Selected Ambient Works Vol. 1 ilk. Beautifully noisy, highly melodic and raw, with those emotional mid nineties IDM tendencies that very few successfully capture. Biochip are Melissa Speirs and Julian Kochanowski from Montreal, Canada. Listening to Synthase you can tell they are huge fans of vintage analogue synths, magnetic tape and drum machines; their sound has a reassuring warmth and human feel to it.
Cygnus aka Phillip Washington returns home to CPU with Deep Analysis. Six tracks of nebulous compositions all containing his signature emotional and melodic electro. Sheffield Bleep is an ode to CPU Records complete with an old school vocoder rap over CR-78 rhythms. Deep Analysis is an answer to one of Washington’s favourite tracks ‘Sleep Paralysis’ by Mikron. Ultraterrestrial, Her Majesty and Descent of Man are beautiful si-fi electronic music without comparison. The E.P. wraps things up with Hallucinate Data cementing Cygnus as a master of the genre.
Plant43 aka Emile Facey, one of CPU’s originators delivers his fourth album ‘Three Dimensions’. Eight tracks of crystalline electro with his signature epic pads and Blade Runner-esque melodies. Facey is one of the most respected electro artists of today and this album galvanises this reputation. DJs will find several weapons amongst this package of beautiful electronic music that rewards both headphone listeners as much as a big room.
Mikron return to CPU with their second album ‘Severance’. The Corcoran brothers refine their critically acclaimed sound which has evolved to be more haunting than the last release. This album is a nostalgic affair with synthetic landscapes washing over you, before propelling you into the distant future. The ambient moments draw parallels with Boards of Canada, Burial and Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2.
Jensen Interceptor & Assembler Code deliver another four tracks of deep hitting electro on CPU. Dancefloor electro, gleefully sprinting between dark, angular and angry fare (punishing but brilliant opener “Abstract Model”), rush-inducing peak-time anthems (the glassy-eyed, fuzz bass-driven bliss of “Kinematics”), Drexciya style workouts (“Extraction”), and buzzing, late night contortions (“VR Escort”). In other words, it’s another killer collection of cuts that should be on every electro head’s shopping list.
Djedjotronic Aka Jérémy Cottereau drops an icy 4 track Electro cut for CPU. There’s a clear Drexciyan influence here with plenty of dystopian drama but things are disrupted with the likes of ‘Tunnel’ serving up raw 4/4.
Modular synthesis wizard Eddie Symons, aka Nullptr [null pointer], lands on CPU with some fine laid back analogue electro. After his debut LP ‘Optical’ on Detroit Underground, Symons has firmly established himself as a class act to follow. Expect spacey wavetable pads, step sequencer conversations and killer modular bass.
From another analogue basement, amidst paranoid conspiracy theories and wild youtube truths, the heat of a Tr-808 and Juno-60, and dreams of forgotten utopias, comes the first Secret State EP, an attempt to rise above the all pervasive, vacuous, decaying culture.
French producer and RAAR co-founder Maelstrom makes his debut on CPU with ‘Alph4’, a seven track electro-leaning mini LP of one-take recordings. Maelstrom’s sound on Alph4 is comparable to Aphex Twin’s more restrained Analord output. Focussed, highly detailed production alongside an abundance of evocative synth melodies will ensure these tracks become firm favourites with forward thinking DJs and electronic music fans.
CPU’s homage to the Roland TR-808, the drum machine ubiquitous on binary imprint. CPU label boss Chris Smith has meticulously rebuilt the drum tracks of classic electro funk records known for their pioneering and influential use of the 808. Strictly for DJs and MCs, this is an essential tool for remixing, looping or laying vocals over. Cut loud and ready for battle.
CPU and dance music’s polymath Neil Landstrumm share a love for classic bleep techno, hence Landstrumm has brought to the table four superb reminders of the criminally short lived genre. With spine tingling melodies reminiscent of 808 State’s best work, and sub-bass worthy of LFO’s bass-bin shaking reputation – A Death, a Mexican and a Mormon perfectly encapsulates not only Landstrumm’s influences but also his deep seated love for bleep. A labour of love which the Sheffield based imprint has been only all too happy to encourage and hopes will keep the genre alive for generations to come.