Among other things, I find the music of Factory Floor to be perfectly suited to exercising on a rowing machine. The relentless, mechanistic rhythms, alloyed to punctilious electronics and disembodied barking, put me in the right frame of mind for regimen, discipline, and the pursuit of excellence. If this makes my response to their work sound emotionless, you’re mistaken. Music that seeks to elevate the sounds of the assembly line from mere repetition to mantra is, in my book, praiseworthy. (See my thoughts on the essential albums of Kraftwerk.) Which goes some way towards explaining why I have hankered to see them in a live setting: music this ritual and kinetic deserves to be united with its creators. Continue reading Ergo sum fabrica
I’ve written previously about Noah Lennox’s way with clockwork rhythms that sit behind assorted musical mischief. On his latest album as Panda Bear, Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper, the rhythms are more indebted to psych rock, but here and there (as on the nonsensical anthem “Boys Latin”) the older, dubbier affectations slip in – and on these songs, the chaos unfurling above is all the more effective for it. Continue reading Waves of Brazil
For anyone with more than a casual acquaintance with Aphex Twin‘s 1990s output, the first hearing of “minipops 67 [120.2] (source field mix)” is a sobering experience. There’s the healthy dose of weirdness—disembodied voices, a constantly shifting structure, wonky tunings and a random diversion into jungle—that denotes this is the work of Richard D. James. But there’s also a classical sense of proportion and beauty—think of those celestial synths, the timely intervention of piano—that feels unexpected, and unexpectedly comforting. Continue reading Our love, our music
I wrote previously about Floating Points’ ambitious techno, which aims for a cerebral corner of the galaxy, and doesn’t mind getting jazzy. “ARP3” is perhaps the most syncretic cut on his recent Shadows EP, with foreboding bass peregrinating between delicate pulses of synth. Beneath it all a snazzily Leslied Rhodes piano plants down the chords, while the first half rides along a shaker- and hi-hat-heavy rhythm track.
Halfway through, the beat drops out, the synths get more granular and fuzzy, and then there’s just the mother of all drops. It’s like standing on a platform attached to a space station, and then having that platform pulled out from beneath your feet.
“ARP3” is taken from the Shadows EP by Floating Points, released on Eglo Records in November 2011.
There’s a young Barcelonan called John Talabot, who’s making waves in techno like he’s our generation’s Ricardo Villalobos. Well, he’s not nearly so minimalist, but there’s certainly an economy to his production style that gives his work a capacious quality. His début, the conclusively-titled ƒIN, explores a diverse range of styles, flirting with chillwave and glo-fi (two genres I usually think pale in comparison to their illustrious forebear, Panda Bear) but also reaching far-out places that evoke comparison with someone like Floating Points.
“Journeys”, which features a guest turn at the microphone from Ekhi, takes the Panda Bear connection a step further—not only are the vocals a facsimile of Noah Lennox’s, but the music has a bouncy, carnivalesque feel reminiscent of Animal Collective. Opening track “Depak Ine” (see above), meanwhile, is more expansive, with a combination of croaking frogs and intergalactic rhythms that’s part Gang Gang Dance, part Matthew Dear. Elsewhere, things are geared more explicitly at the 2AM dancefloor, with “When The Past Was Present” giving off a Balearic headrush, and the closing track “So Will Be Now…” riding along squirming acid house bass, rather like The Rapture’s “Olio” back in 2003.
The range displayed on ƒIN makes it a sometimes disjointed listen; however, it’s to Talabot’s credit that it sounds even half as self-contained. Taken individually, his tracks bear traces of specialness that we associate with someone who is surely going to hit the big-time pretty soon. Prophetic listening is advised.
In a previous, improbable life, Matthew Dear wrote “Hands Up For Detroit“, a small vocal phrase of which wound up serving as the backbone of the mother of all exercise anthems. Then he flirted with virtually every kind of music he loved, topping all he’d done before with 2010’s Black City, a sleazy slice of downtempo minimalism with a spiritual debt to Bowie’s Low (profile).
This year, he returns with the long-player Beams, which is preluded by the Headcage EP. The title track (see above) takes the noirish, oily grooves of Black City and gently sculpts them into something more softly polyphonic. The song bounces and trots where it might previously have oozed. The beat is more muffled too, a step away from the clattering, misfiring drum machines of old. And Dear’s vocals—always the Marmite factor in his work—are, while still digitally ameliorated, there to invoke a very different mood. The smearing lead voice is backed up a ghostly beatbox more in the vein of some of the songs on 2007’s Asa Breed.
In the final third, a synth patch not dissimilar to Fever Ray’s ethnic flutes  plays a lead riff which provides a brief and subtle nod to rave. All too soon, it vanishes, and the breathy outro makes sure the take-home message is a sensual one.