20 Albums from 2018

With just a few days from the current year left, I’ve compiled a list of 20 albums from 2018 that I enjoyed this year. Among these I have to highlight the much anticipated Mutant Beat Dance debut album, the first ever album from Gerard Hanson under the E.R.P. project, a new Gerald Donald project and a compilation of unreleased Heinrich Mueller remixes, a Silent Servant follow-up on Hospital Productions, a very interesting Fred Ventura compilation of unreleased house tracks, a new Lebanon Hanover, the beautiful debut album of Curses, the impressive Eindkrak album and the debut album of the Romanian producer Șerb.
The list is compiled in chronological order.

Eindkrak – Brullend Staal [Unknown Precept]

Continue reading “20 Albums from 2018”

20 Albums from 2018

Silent Servant – Shadows Of Death & Desire [HOS613]

Now-legendary producer, DJ, and art director Juan Mendez arguably reset techno at least twice. Once with his surreal and Europe-by-way-of-LA ’80s surrealist apocalypse culture aesthetics for Sandwell District, and again–as Silent Servant–with his “Jealous God” imprint that captured the youth-driven mutation of crossover electronics and dark parties churning in the American underground, which followed directly in the wake of his game-changing modern classic, ​Negative Fascination​. Mendez has evolved to more aggressive and stripped-down acid punk electro dance attacks on Silent Servant’s equally vital follow-up,​ Shadows of Death and Desire.​ While many would stall after the success of a now contemporary cult classic, Mendez took his time to deliver a more raw–yet refined–brutalism in his second album.

vinyl / CD

Silent Servant – Shadows Of Death & Desire [HOS613]

Ron Morelli – Disappearer [HOS606]

Ron Morelli has put together a 13 track album for his returning release on the American based label, Hospital Productions. The album digs deep into the punk roots of the L.I.E.S. boss as he touches upon everything from raw industrial techno to mind-bending electronics and sinisterly cold ambience. This is one not for the faint-hearted, get a little taste below. “Composed over the last two years in various foul states, the album is a fusion of base level hardware programming, open room mic recordings and extensive computer processing, all finalized in the Paris studio of Krikor Kouchian.”

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Ron Morelli – Disappearer [HOS606]

Phase Fatale – Redeemer [HOS494]

‘Redeemer’ is the brutally seductive debut album by Phase Fatale, a key player in the recent charge of EBM and post punk-informed industrial techno infecting ‘floors from his home city, NYC to his DJ residency at Berghain. In Dominick Fernow’s Hospital Productions, Phase Fatale finds a fitting home for his personalised brand of clinical, rictus rhythm programming and searing synth and guitar lines, adding a vital streak of black and blue electric energy to the legendary label in its 20th year of cultish operation. In seven parts, ‘Redeemer’ follows the direct, his deeply personal realisation of weaponised sonics, upholding a strong tradition of techno as a prophetic exercise or ritual to gird dancers and listeners for the onset of future war. It presents Phase Fatale as an ultimate emissary of electronic violence and domination in the process, steeling the limbic system and muscle memory thru a fine-tuned disciplinarian approach to pharmacokinetics and biomechanics.

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Phase Fatale – Redeemer [HOS494]

Shifted – Appropriation Stories [HOS470]

How does one appropriate oneself? In the case of Guy Alexander Brewer, the situation is complicated by his various current projects in techno, noise and experimental electronics overlaying a once-hidden past in drum’n’bass. ‘Appropriation Stories’ tackles the matter head-on at length, the endpoint of the mounting inward focus already evident in his work as Shifted. For years shunning his previous work in Commix, more recently Brewer has learned to look back, even making sideways stabs into breakbeat territory with his Covered in Sand alias. The process grows more intricate and subtle on his new album for the Hospital Productions imprint helmed by Dominick Fernow (aka Prurient, Vatican Shadow, et al.). Here rigorous processing and studio treatments transform classic breaks into deeply hidden components that add new layers of character to his highly-developed techno sound.

vinyl / CD

Shifted – Appropriation Stories [HOS470]

Vatican Shadow – Media In The Service of Terror [HOS472]

Dominick Fernow presents another dark and confronting opus entitled Media In The Service Of Terror. Read between the lines of the titles then listen and learn via these harsh textural abrasions on offer. The sombre and brutalist opener “Ziad Jarrah Studied Mathematics” sets the scene well, the tunnelling slo-mo techno of “Take Vows” is great and follows the same path as Vactrol Park or L’estasi Dell’oro have in recent times. “Interrogation Mosaic” shows Fernow still has the knack for some chilling imaginary soundtracks while “More Of The Same (Tunisia)” has the classic outsider techno sound that Fernow has honed on previous efforts like Remember Your Black Day or Ghosts Of Chechnya.

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Vatican Shadow – Media In The Service of Terror [HOS472]

Clay Rendering – We Are Aware [HOS463]

Clay Rendering, the tortured pop project of former Wolf Eyes member Mike Connelly and his wife Tara, pledge three diverse but unmistakably gothic sacrifices to Hospital Productions. Soused in the spirits of black metal, coldwave pop and shoegaze, their new cuts reflect a black indigo spectrum of tastes with an inflamed desire for proper song structures and the kind of hooks that hearken back to teenaged thrills and what allured them to music in the first place -and it makes for perhaps their most realised set of tracks yet. With Dominick Fernow as producer and effectively acting in a 3rd band member role, they triangulate a sound that’s nostalgic for the gothic undertones of ‘80s and ‘90s darkness, getting into gear with the hearse-cruising coldwave pop rocket We Are Aware, and casting a long, northern-pointing shadow of BM toil and shoegaze anguish in Never Pass Away.

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Clay Rendering – We Are Aware [HOS463]

Ninos Du Brasil – Para Araras [HOS448]

Italian pair Nico Vascellari and Nicolo Fortuni have only put out a limited amount of output under their Ninos Du Brasil moniker. The A-side’s A Magia Do Rei displays of rolling techno variant kinked with polyrhythmic shuffles, darkside synth strokes and swooping subs, superbly rounded off by Neel’s mastering work. Turn over, and Algo Ou Alguém Entre As Árvores hits a rather different groove accentuating their tribal influences in a roiling, humid swamp of churning bass, scissoring syncopation and layered voices sounding like an extended offcut from the Cannibal Holocaust OST.

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Ninos Du Brasil – Para Araras [HOS448]

Ron Morelli – A Gathering Together [HOS447]

A Gathering Together is Ron Morelli’s second full-length for Hospital Productions: a ‘techno’ cacophony brought to its granular detail and reduced to its most elemental tonal depths. A cohesive fusion of surreal and feverish deja vu loops, brittle noise, fucked rhythms, scrap metal percussions, pro-one metal synths, and an injection of near-buried, Drano vocal samples, it’s a fearsome celebration of brokenness, of amplified surroundings. Stereo-shifting drones and driving rhythms that tell the stories of those now gone, more a soundtrack for a wake than 4/4 crafted for the dancefloor. There’s a naked anxiety at work that doesn’t turn away from loss, but runs with an excited melancholy that looks to a future that won’t exist. The boldness of the gestures are not to be confused with exuberance. With this effort Morelli has shown remarkable restraint and patience most notably highlighted on title track ‘A Gathering Together.’ An intense cut born from rapid-paced dead-end urban environments that force people together. It’s a calling to do more, include more, and celebrate the many forms within those inconspicuous places. Upon numerous listens, it’s clear the sound design is a reflection of heavy compositional themes that suggest a greater whole. This is hard, dirty techno–humid, reduced, bare bones, yet dense and dissolved to its electronic soil. Heavy without being oppressive, it is the culmination of many elements pulled from all spheres of modern electronics, eaten, digested, and spit back out.

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Ron Morelli – A Gathering Together [HOS447]

Alessandro Cortini – Risveglio [HOS426]

For his last outing on Hospital Productions, Nine Inch Nails collaborator Alessandro Cortini utilized just two pieces of equipment: a Roland MC-202 and a delay pedal. For this follow-up, he’s expanded his toolbox a little, supplementing those hardware pieces with two further machines: a Roland TR-606 and TB-303. Musically, Risveglio inhabits a similar space to its predecessor, with Cortini creating blurry, fluid dreamscapes built around semi-rhythmic loops, distorted chords and fuzzy ambient textures. Listeners may struggle to spot the TB-303 – most often used to create ragged waves of intense electronics – such is the unique way in which Cortini manipulates it. Regardless, the Italian’s post-industrial, half-awake soundscapes are thoroughly mesmerizing.

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Alessandro Cortini – Risveglio [HOS426]

Vatican Shadow – Death Is Unity With God [LOVE100]

This double LP album arrives through Modern Love and features a handpicked selection of tracks from the Death Is Unity With God cassette box set Dominick Fernow aka Vatican Shadow issued on his own Hospital Productions label last year. 12 tracks featured here are a balanced blend of broken, ice-cold techno and finely calibrated drone pieces backed by subtle percussive patterns. There’s also plenty of his more raucous beat thrashing and even a few moments of nostalgia.

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Vatican Shadow – Death Is Unity With God [LOVE100]

Function / Vatican Shadow – Games Have Rules [HOS425]

Here’s something to excite those of an experimental techno bent: a collaborative set from veteran producer Function and drone/industrial sort Vatican Shadow. Given the qualities’ of both producers, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Games Have Rules is rather good. Like any good collaboration, it tempers the more outlandish aspects of each producer’s work, delivering a set bristling with icy textures, bittersweet ambience, dreamy atmospherics and, perhaps most pleasing of all, sprawling techno (see the brilliant “Bejewelled Body”). Highlights are naturally plentiful, from the crystalline mood of “A Year Has Passed” (reminiscent of Selected Ambient Works era Aphex Twin) to the murky textures and spooky electronics of “The Nemesis Flower”.

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Function / Vatican Shadow – Games Have Rules [HOS425]

Ron Morelli – Periscope Blues [HOS405]

The LIES bossman delivers the third chapter in his ongoing series of electronic concoctions for Vatican Shadow’s ever-brooding Hospital Productions. Whereas Spit was an LP which wasn’t sure whether it stood in the techno realm or the noise pool, Periscope Blues is firmly grounded in Morelli’s most experimental frame of mind. It feels like a continuation of one concept over 30 minutes, a testament to his obvious passion for beatless, chest-pounding hardware experimentation. Comprised of eight tracks, Periscope Blues is the culmination of a mission gone wrong. Music for the stranded, the lost, those backed into a corner with nowhere to go, or maybe a reflection of sad individuals panicking on a tropical vacation gone awry. Somber yet very tense drifting off radar machine electronics that feel like a blistering sun beating down on decaying beach remains as time crawls on. That or the equivalent to working the grill summers at Jones Beach and stealing from the register just to get a little more.

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Ron Morelli – Periscope Blues [HOS405]

Ron Morelli – Backpages [HOS406]

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Ron Morelli returns to stare down the ‘floor with four pieces written during the stress-busting sessions for ‘Spit’. The muggy, droning welt of ‘Public Consumption’ kicks off with the sound of New York techno shot from the hip, while ‘Another Hit’ vents a vintage era-Regis style built on skull-chipping snares and effluent acid modulation. The album’s writhing batacuda banger, ‘Crack Microbes’ reappears here as an extra-ferric extended Version, sustaining the hypnotic intensity for nine minutes of panic attack acid and febrile cowbells, while ‘’Rushing Again’ escorts us to a close with triplet techno shook down by railgun snares and a grotty synthline.

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Ron Morelli – Backpages [HOS406]

Ron Morelli – Spit [HOS407LP]

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Given his stated role as curator at the head of the ‘non-stop’ LIES, it makes perfect sense that Ron Morelli would look elsewhere to issue his debut album. Gravitating towards the Hospital Productions label run by Dominick ‘Vatican Shadow’ Fernow makes equal sense given their shared appreciation of noise, ambient and industrial music. Apparently the first of three planned releases on Hospital from Morelli, it’s no little surprise that Spit arrives with much expectation. Spend some time with the eight tracks that make up the LP and you’ll begin to understand why Morelli has used such words as pressure, monotony and stress to describe the motivating emotions behind Spit. The corrugated growl of “Modern Paranoia” and the broken metallic rhythms of “Crack Microbes” are considered highlights!

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Ron Morelli – Spit [HOS407LP]

Vatican Shadow – It Stands To Conceal [HOS369LP]

In it’s third year of operations Vatican Shadow became an unavoidable issue on the international noise and techno agenda. Following Type, Blackest Ever Black and Modern Love editions, Dominick Fernow aka Prurient aka Vatican Shadow ploughed forth with his project, resulting in three tapes ‘Jordanian Descent’, ‘Ghosts Of Chechnya’ and ‘Atta’s Apartment Slated For Destruction’, collected here on vinyl for the first time. Disc one features both sides of his extended ‘Jordanian Descent’ meditations, some of his longest in this guise and given to incredible, unfurling loop repetitions; Disc two holds ‘Ghosts Of Chechnya’, one of his most concise and varied issues, eight tracks wide and tending towards gloomy, urgent, cinematic arabesques including the outstanding ‘Voices Came Crackling Across A Motorola Hand-Held Radio’; Disc three comprises the four parts of his amazing ‘Atta’s Apartment Slated For Destruction’ including the impeccable darkness of ‘Once This Fire Gathers Strength’.

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Vatican Shadow – It Stands To Conceal [HOS369LP]

Hipodrome’s 2012 Review (Part III)

Finally we are at the last part of the 2012 review. In the first part of our review, the preferences of our followers are shown, according to the number of click and stars. Top 3 albums of the years, top 3 EPs, compilations and mixes loved by our followers can be seen here.

In the second part, I presented some of my favorite events and performances from last year. For more details go here.

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Continue reading “Hipodrome’s 2012 Review (Part III)”

Hipodrome’s 2012 Review (Part III)

Vatican Shadow – Ghosts Of Chechnya [HOS361]

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The heavily sought after “Ghosts Of Chechnya” cassette finally sees a digital release. Vatican Shadow is unstoppable at the moment, his alchemistic beats and military themes marking him out as a singular talent. This LP champions the sound of Vatican Shadow, with its dubbed-out, reverberant noises, that make him stand out among his peers. The aptly named “Voices Came Crackling Across A Motorola Hand-Held Radio” is another beast, where chugging kick drums meet ominous pads and crackling static. “Chechnya’s Ghosts Loom Large In Death Of Former Spy” is another fine example of his creative ability to mould techno into any shape he sees fit; but it’s the filling spaces made up of eerie melodies and stripped beats, like “Snipers As A Breed Tend To Be Superstitious” which make his recordings so enchanting. Highly recommended as usual.

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Vatican Shadow – Ghosts Of Chechnya [HOS361]

Silent Servant – Negative Fascination LP [HOS357]

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Silent Servant (aka Juan Mendez), a member of the now-defunct minimal/dub techno collective Sandwell District, makes his stunning album debut with the poised fusion of epic techno, primitive post punk, and industrial electronics on Hospital Productions. Now nine months since he stopped recording with Sandwell District, Mendez has explored his divergent yet compatible tastes to their fullest, recognising and reconciling their congruent rhythms, atmospheres and intentions with alchemical ability. If you’re familiar with his previous trajectories you’ll no doubt be seriously impressed with his balance and contrast of time-honoured elements, from the bellicose sci-fi romance of ‘Process (Introduction)’ to the full flight techno escapism of ‘Utopian Disaster (End)’, and if you’re new to his sound – whether you’re a noise freak wondering what the f*ck Hospital Productions are doing releasing a techno album, or a techno head who’s baffled by the raspy drums – you should be quickly realising that this stuff is the way forward. From the wave-scanning intro he spins a bleakly noirish narrative, slowly building tension with ‘Invocation Of Lust”s acid hypnosis and the stoic deployment of drones and agitated drum machine slaves on ‘Moral Divide (Endless)’ that resolves with gritted techno determination on ‘The Strange Attractor’. Yet perhaps our favourite moment is ‘Temptation & Desire’, sounding like the converged darkroom visions of Front 242 and Stephen Morris, but if any cut shocks us the most, it’s ‘A Path Eternal’, revealing SS at his most unreservedly sublime and vulnerable without his usual, armour-plated chassis of beats. It all surely adds up to one of the most impressive examples of modern industrial techno you’ll hear this year, one which doesn’t merely pay deference to its roots, but nourishes and augments them with the kind of vision that imparts the strong feeling that he’s really been biding his time, ’til now…

“Negative Fascination” is a 7-track affair said to couple Basic Channel vibes with post-punk and shadowy industrial cues.

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Silent Servant – Negative Fascination LP [HOS357]