“We Are Power”, Galaxian’s first album in over a decade, cuts a new path. On this Foul-Up and Shipwrec joint release, Mark Kastner presents a rumination on the confrontation and power clash between humankind, nature, the spiritual and mechanistic industrial growth societies. What is authentic power? What is granted power? What is innate natural power? How is power accessed, wielded, utilised, felt? On this album the blistering beats and razor-edged rhythms that characterise the Glaswegian’s productions have been softened, the menace melted, the angst soothed (well almost.) Across eleven tracks, distinct audio vistas are surveyed. This album is unmistakable Galaxian, it marks a high-point and brings with it a culmination of intense expression.
Caron debuts on Shipwrec with a four tracker of sheer quality. Off-kilter percussion introduces the breathy pads and grandeur of “Ancestry,” a piece of dreamy chords and acid undertones. The haunting “Common Sense” follows. Drums stagger next spectral vocals in this chilling electro piece. A similar stalking note continues on the flip with the 303 soaked “Lost.” A steady kick offers a bedrock from which looming keys, bitter squawk and dancefloor paranoia take hold. Hopeful shades arrive with the brilliance of “Ruins.” From industrial percussion and metallic rinses, a deep and intricate finale forms to bring “Shattered” to a terrific close.
Ekman is no stranger to Shipwrec. With three EPs and an album, the dutchman’s brand of fire and brimstone has seared a serious impression on the Nijmegen imprint. The fourth 12″ comes with a marked difference. That burning smouldering intensity that has characterised the acid soaked electro and stained techno of past records is present, however it is now sheathed. Beats are still sharp edged, as in “Verdraaide Logica”, yet keys have softened and taken on an introspection. “Kronkel” is cast in a similar mould. From a fearsome kick blooms an incredibly layered and thoughtful track where melodies bob and weave while rhythms rail. Even amidst the sinister sidling synthlines of “Anker Punten”, with its piercing and punishing percussion, there are understated pads to mellow. The glass and steel of “Vast/Los” ends the EP. Angular lines permeate the piece, reflection and refractions arc and bend in this science fiction finale. Depth mixed devilment from start to finish.
Boris Bunnik is no stranger here at Shipwrec, having graced the label with some beautifully deep and textured music under his Conforce, Hexagon and Versalife monikers. It is to his Versalife guise that the Rotterdam based producer returns, this time for a quartet of works in the shape of Vortices. A spectrum of musical radiance from a modern day master.
Noamm is the electronic equivalent of a honed switchblade. With surgical precision the Bass Agenda alumnus incises keys, cuts chords, pierces percussion and razors through rhythms. It is this slicing sound that the Greek artist brings to his debut 12″ for Shipwrec. Seven tracks of machined melodies and frigid fire make up Psychoanalysis. The EP is brimming with calculated fury and clinical rage. From the coursing cruelty of “Ruhestimmung” and the menacing “Dance Macabre” to the future world coldness of “Das Schwarze Korps”, Noamm is direct and straight to the point with his hard hitting style and no-nonsense approach. Few respites are to be found on this 12″, “Into The Abyss Of Changing Subconsious” being the only refuge from the arctic winds and audio blasts that scour this record. Frosted ferocity from start to finish from this exciting musician.
Emile Facey (Plant43) has been at the forefront of electronic for more than twelve years. During that time the British producer has released on a host of seminal labels, expanding his style and sound in new directions. Although Plant43 is typically classified as a purveyor of electro, behind those driving rhythms and steely percussion a tenderness has always been present, an emotion expressed in lilting melodies and complex harmonies. It is these melodies and harmonies that come into focus on Plant43’s debut ambient album. On “From Deep Streams” is a rich and textured tapestry of synth work, a soundtrack that organically unfurls from nightime woodland walks and city stargazing to mindful solitude. The eight tracks offer the listener a calming journey into stillness, an excursion through gentle audio currents and a moment to pause and take in an inspiring vista of sound. Recorded over the space of 3 months, this album gives the quiet, the subtle and the sometimes underappreciated centre stage whilst casting light on yet another side of Emile Facey’s ever-evolving music.
Two miscreants of UK electronics have been drafted in by Shipwrec for a 12″ of techno debauchery. Richard Bevan and Joshu Doherty, aka Posthuman, have been addicted to acid from their first contact with the caustic and cruel chords of the TB303. Since then the two cousins have gone on to curate 10 years of I Love Acid as well as doling out some toxic classics of their own. The duo deliver the soured goods once again, starting the audio anarchy with the ominously titled “Netflix and Kill”. Drum patterns are gnarled and nasty in this slow burning jacker where basslines boil over into a thick syrup of late night revelry. The flip is taken over by the bullying sounds of “The Damocles Syndicate.” The track rumbles with venomous menace. Coils of 303 spite bulge and contract under the strict resolve of a stern beat in this ready made floor filler.
“Primus Motor” sees Ekman return to many of the sounds that gained him a reputation as an artist on labels like Bunker and Berceuse Heroique. Although harsh bucking acid lines, pockmarked notes, brutal beats and eerie echo are all present, a new tone has been added to the caustic palette. A psychological nuance, an undercurrent of the inchoate has been investigated and exploited to chilling effect. Crippling psychoses. Debilitating neuroses. Physical pain. Suffering stalks this first full vinyl album. Sinister sounds encircle the eight offerings, hovering like vultures over inhospitable plains of ashen grey, jagged peaks and dark sweeping swamps. Hope is all but drawn away in this bleached audio landscape, drained by sheer synthlines and reduced renderings. Amidst the sorrow and strain there are pin pricks of joy, albeit bleak and pallid ones. An album that unnerves as it engages, a collection of icy radiance and industrial indifference from a dutch master.
Umwelt returns to Shipwrec for his third 12″ on the dutch label in as many years. Encoding the Future sees the French pioneer deliver five tracks of on point electronics. Umwelt is known for his trademark sound of piercing percussion, serrating synthlines and industrial strength bass. These elements are all present on this latest EP but have been carved back to allow strings to soar and pads to resonate. New plains are explored. Frigid elegance is juxtaposed by coarse chords, deep basslines countered by lilting lines. Encoding the Future opens a new chapter for the Lyons based producer as he dives into new textures and tones whilst remaining tethered to his cold electro roots.
1997. ‘Drexciya don’t have no phone. They’re too busy to do your remix’. Mad Mike’s response was short and to the point, enough to put off some; but not Vincent Koreman. Addicted from an early age, the dutch producer dug deeper and deeper into the mythology and mystery of James Stinson and Gerald Donald. The sounds, images and ideas conjured up by the Detroit electro duo pulled Koreman in, his “fascination” growing ever more “intense” as the underwater dwellers sonically prospered. Fast forward twenty years and that fascination has not diluted one drop, in fact the aquatic dream of the wavejumpers is the inspiration for “Recolonization”. These tracks “would have never had existed,” says Koreman, “if it wasn’t for Stinson and Donald creating that great, energetic, abstract electronic music and coupled it with an original vision on the African diaspora, art and culture.” This music is an homage to the enigma of Drexciya, a tribute to the machine marine men who pioneered electro and a vision. Drvg Cvltvre continues that vision, one of “an underwater race” that has reconquered Earth, overcoming “big business, corporate greed and water pollution” to reclaim the surface from man. Forget mankind. Our time is over, ‘Recolonization’ is here.
Quadratschulz delivers his debut album “WW303”. Ten tracks make up this vision, a vision of lazers, pulsing neon and gleaming chrome. Arcade game memories. Curls of acid. Electrofunk vocals. Synth wave chic. And even some past greats. All are lovingly folded together in this rich and diverse collection. Styles are juxtaposed. 303 bars throb and strings soar in the lilting “Der rasende Roland” whereas “Robotic Dancer” struts to a future-world funk. Quadratschulz sculpts his sound with a wonderfully warm and autumnal quality, as in the cascading synth showers of “Ferrofluid.” Yet there are colder moments, the frigid flows of “Kran” sprouting into the chilly house tones of “Piloten.” a Tribute to the groundbreaking LFO is also included. Bleep festooned chicanery is the offering as “Ring The Bell” takes you back to the infamous warehouse parties of 90s Britain.
Shipwrec is 50 releases old. No mean feat and to celebrate the dutch label is returning to one of its stalwarts, Ed Upton aka DMX Krew. For this very special 12″ the veteran audio alchemist conjures up five tracks of machine music magic. Squirming, acid soaked electro forms and melts in “Bush Baby Bug Eyes” before the shapeshifting “EQShift Trak.” “Language Reponse” goes up a gear, rhythms zipping along on a highway of bright bars as synth lines beam warmth. The flip skids into the corners for the chiptune freshness of “Irrational Momentum” before the wave funk wizardry of the title piece. Ed Upton cracking open the champagne for this Shipwrec milestone and once again proving his undeniable prowess behind the machines.
Aquamarine Puzzle marks a new step in the sound of Luxus Varta. Six paths are etched for this journey into time, space and the machine. A spectrum of sound is allowed to roam, to wander into strange worlds of galvanised synthlines, serrating snares and soulful strings. The 12″ is perfectly balanced, astral melodies countered by crisp and precise rhythms, distant harmonies tethered to absorbing bass. A renewed partnership with machinist in arms Paris The Black FU of Detroit Grand Pubahs is formed for the mechanical dreamscape that is “Globb.” A complex and utterly compelling encounter with the Luxus Varta nebula.
Roel Dijcks, better known as Ekman, is no stranger to Shipwrec. Following his Heimwee EP and Synaptic Feedback Loops comes a two tracker of serious proportions. “Sturm un Drang” gets the ball rolling. A rasping beat cuts into thick bass. A pool of liquified notes shimmers as an isolated world unfolds, a tactile world of arcing strings and clean complexity. If “Sturm un Drang” is a glimpse into an alien realm, “First Mover” is surely the beast that inhabits it. Bulbous bars trudge through a swamp of static, distortion drips from cymbals leaving melodies buried in the marshland.
Boris Bunnik dons his Hexagon scuba gear before diving into electronic abstraction and aquatic electricity. Counter Utopia brings together three works of machine textures. “Cerebral Trauma” is submerged in a simmering liquor of smelted metal, molten melodies bubbling to the surface as ball bearings fizz and rattle. Industrial experimentation undercuts the entire EP. Soulful chords are stretched, contracted and contorted against the clean percussion lines of “Utopia.” Machines echo in the finale. Gears groan against a backdrop of soaring synths and pulsations in the depths of “Paranormal.”
It seemed like Neo Ouija, a Norfolk based IDM imprint, had closed up shop. Four years of silence suggested that founder Lee Norris, aka Metamatics, had decided to call it a day. But looks can be deceiving. 2016 saw the boss release a CD album of fluid acid, squelching electro and heartfelt electronics. Shipwrec are now bringing four choice cuts from Bodypop to the vinyl faithful. Proudly sitting on the “difficult to define” shelf, Norris seamlessly shifts from frigid winter moods to warming autumnal sunshine. Old-school sounds are rewired, softened by delicate keys and steady beats. Machine music morphs into organic matter. Acid coils, echoed bleeps and clicks grow and blossom into vivid audio vistas with Metamatics, once again, proving his musical mastery.
Emile Facey aka Plant43 is back on terra Shipwrec. On skeletal rhythm supports strings and bass intertwine, link and disappear. Facey performs audio alchemy, transforming cold chords into organic warmth, transfiguring electrical impulses into palpable emotion. Frigid currents flow through bright bars, ephemeral percussion snap at heels of soaring keys as Plant 43 draws you deeper and deeper into the bare and beautiful brilliance of Grid Connection.
Composite Profuse, aka Valerio Lombardozzi aka Heinrich Dressel, breaks radio silence after seven years in the shadows. Cold winds curl and otherworldly atmospheres abound for Unalaska Ice Files. Arctic tundra and ice are the inspiration, frozen vistas dappled with warming light, subtle shifts and sinister shades. Teslasonic take on the title track, injecting electrical pulses and an underhanded edge. Shipwrec stalwart, Robert Witschakowski aka The Exaltics, gives his own icicle encrusted interpretation, one of stark percussion and expansive horizons.
Following his acclaimed North Bend album of 2015, Chris Roman, known as 214, is back on Shipwrec with the third in their series of single sided odysseys. A haze of bass descends for “I See What You Did There”, a clipped drizzle of percussion falls before thick acid bars tremble into position. Echoes, reverb and decay merge, groan and bend as the preconceptions of ambient, electro and techno are pulled apart. In one breath dense and complex, the next grooving and future funk dipped. An epic example of 214’s talent. Single sided 12″ with a silkscreen printed B side.
It’s fair to say that Boris Bunnik has made an impact in his short career. In less than a decade this dutch man, under monikers like Conforce and Versalife, has scaled Electro and Techno with subtle ambient touches and IDM echoes. And that’s exactly what he’s doing for the Singularity EP. Lush pads and flowing bars punctuated by crisp percussion, “Shine Eye” sets the scene. “Autobots” adopts those same brittle beats, this time using them to send dreaming strings skyward. Northern winds swirl around the colder chords of “MILnet”, chords that dawn into absorbing swirls of “Transgenics.” Masterful machine music.