Potter Natalizia Zen – Magari [ELP054]

POTTER NATALIZIA ZEN - Magari

Master synthesists Colin Potter (NWW), Alessio Natalizia (Not Waving) and Guido Zen reprise their supergroup for Ecstatic with a seductively serpentine follow-up to their superb debut from a couple of years ago. PNZ’s pulsing, twanging, expansive ‘Magari’ was recorded between 2018-2020 in the slipstream of ’Shut Your Eyes On The Way Out’, which is surely one of the strongest new kosmiche-related albums of recent years. Where that album refreshed classic styles of European synth music for modern ears, ‘Magari’ – meaning “I Wish” in Italian – adapts their style to the unique Afro-Latin lilt of Brazilian music with central use of the Berimbau; a single-stringed percussion instrument commonly associated with the elegant martial art/dance of Capoeira, which the band’s Guido Zen brought home from his travels in South America. Combined with their juicy, almost fleshly arps and Guitar pedal-generated computer voice, the results are wonderfully wide-eyed, embracing bouts of motorik rhythm beside vertiginous noise wormholes and mystic tone poems that speak to a cumulative experience spanning decades spent hunting for life between the wires.
Like their first LP, much of the recording took place remotely or in pairs, and rarely with all three present, before the parts were mixed down at Colin’s studio in Leytonstone. In its journey between the intricate meters and perpendicular vectors of ‘Too Much Traffic’, and their mesh of curdled tones with their phone recordings of a manic preacher in Camberwell on ‘Saved’, they variously recall Craig Leon’s alien invocations of Dogon folk tales as much as the heady dissonance of Alessandro Cortini; producing outstanding pieces of tangibly haptic substance in ‘Sergio’ and infectiously tip-of-tongue Berimbau twang on ‘Gennaio’, and for good measure, something like Phil Collins gently losing the plot after healthy dose of Ayahuasca in ‘Fill’, while ‘Ancora’ sounds like Basic Channel scoring Herzog’s Aguirre.

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Potter Natalizia Zen – Magari [ELP054]

Vactrol Park – Music from the Luminous Void [MTLP003]

Vactrol Park continue surprising, this time with a full LP in the shape of ‘Music from the Luminous Void’. The album sees them delve much deeper into more atmospheric realms. Using modular synths and unexpected drum machine sequencing they leave the 4X4 beats behind in favor of off-world rhythms and ever growing bass.

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Vactrol Park – Music from the Luminous Void [MTLP003]

Potter Natalizia Zen – Shut Your Eyes On The Way Out [E034]

Colin Potter, Alessio Natalizia and Guido Zen regroup along the percussive vectors of ‘Shut Your Eyes On The Way Out’ for the Ecstatic label. Three years in the making, taking cues from German synth rock, cosmic disco, abstract EBM and obscure library sounds, the trio head for seductive new horizons of pulsing rhythms and floating ambient dub tones. The six hands control the mission with masterful skill and sleight of hand, prompting routes for the user rather than signposting the way with cliché. Of course, it’s hard to escape some sense of homage or reverence for the original forms, but they do so with such sensitivity to the material and “the journey” that the results simply transcends that heritage, to arrive somewhere, timelessly, out there.

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Potter Natalizia Zen – Shut Your Eyes On The Way Out [E034]

Vactrol Park – II [ESP026B]

Vactrol Park, the collaborative endeavor between Kyle Martin (Land of Light) and Guido Zen (Brain Machine), returns to the ESP Institute with II, rounding out the second half of their EP series. For this installment, a sojourn was made to Stockholm to record at the computer music mecca, EMS (Elektronmusikstudion), where the artists had the opportunity to experiment extensively with the legendary Buchla 200 Modular and Serge Modular, two of the rarest and most pornographic modular synthesizers in existence. While both instruments originate from California (Buchla in Berkeley as a commission from pioneer Morton Subotnik, and Serge at the California Institute of the Arts), the music Vactrol Park draws from these machines is far from warm and sunny. Akin to their predecessors on the 2015 debut I, these works materialize a level of taste and measure of craft that’s unattainable by most, each retaining an individual cinematic approach yet working collectively toward one consummate goal—paralysis.

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Vactrol Park – II [ESP026B]

Vactrol Park – I [ESP026A]

Vactrol Park is an honest outpouring of thematic obsession, a celebration of championed studio components and the mastery of their nuance, an avant garde collaboration between Kyle Martin (Land of Light, Spectral Empire) and Guido Zen (Gamers in Exile, Brain Machine). Simply entitled “I” (the first of a 2 part series), this debut EP opens the door to a world of ebb and flow, layers of oscillation falling in and out of sync, keeping us on the brink of vertigo and, as cliché as it may sound, we find solace in its chaos. This homogeneous release plays with the notions of systems as beautifully symbolized Mario Hugo’s capsule of cardiology—yet another visually arresting module in the ESP Institute catalogue.

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Vactrol Park – I [ESP026A]

Brain Machine – Alpha Beta Gamma [THR003]

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Epic kosmiche/Italo expedition from Guido Zen and Juan Trippe’s Brain Machine, co-piloted with remixes with Von Spar and Johan Agebjörn! The ten minute vastness of ‘Alpha Beta Gamma’ nods to both Schulze and Moroder and should command any dancefloor it’s sent to, while Von Spar give a neater, pop-sized version still with the triplet rhythm propulsion.  Johan Agebjörn’s productions is kinda like viewing the northern lights from a shuttle above Detroit.

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Brain Machine – Alpha Beta Gamma [THR003]