Seixlack, Seu Lugar é o Cemitério (40% Foda/Maneiríssimo)
Hat-tip to Portugal's Photonz for hipping me to a stunning release from São Paulo's Seixlack; there are few things more gratifying to the digital crate-digger than discovering a musical vision this strong from an artist you were unaware of (and from a city you don't think of as a hotbed of experimental techno, to boot). As it happens, Seixlack turned up on a compilation I covered last year, but this EP showcases a much more developed sound. You can really hear him wrestling with his influences here, although that tension takes place beneath the surface of a sound — scratchy, glowing, supersaturated — that's distinctly his own. The title track revels in the overdriven jewel tones and lumpy triplet rhythms of Border Community and Luke Abbott; it also sounds a little like My Bloody Valentine remixed for Kompakt's Speicher series and then left moldering in the dirt for a decade or two. From the worm-eaten high end and omnipresent warble, "Bart" also sounds like a cassette tape that's been exhumed, but this time the music recalls vintage Daft Punk, a filter-disco churn made all the more urgent by the heavy abrasion. "Tele-Sexo" has the choppy, cut-up vibes of Smith N Hack and the lovey-dovey sentimentalism of DJ Koze, but neither comparison quite conveys the way it sneaks up on you, assembling itself out of sandpapered overtones into a towering monument to All That Is Right in the World, like a golden percolator full of sunshine.
The EP is out on a Rio de Janerio label called 40% Foda/Maneiríssimo, which seems to translate to "40% Fucking Awesome/Really Cool." The entire catalog is available on Bandcamp, and it all merits further investigation. Potential tags include "druggy," "Balearic," "the Durutti Column," and "mid-'90s Rephlex"; file alongside Sex Tags Mania, L.I.E.S., Future Times, and The Trilogy Tapes in terms of quality control, psychedelic mileage, and pure chutzpah. Some releases are pay-what-you-wish downloads, and others are CDR with an immediate download option. But the label notes on its Bandcamp page that shipping may be prohibitive to some territories; drop them a line to inquire about a digital-only option.
Sevendeaths, Concrete Misery (LuckyMe)
Amid the cavernous electro, mutant garage, and heavy-gauge club tracks that Glasgow's LuckyMe label gave away as part of its musical advent calendar last December, one track stuck out for its comparative sweetness and light. A world away from Baauer, Lunice, and Rustie's respective offerings, Sevendeaths' "The Forest at Night (CFCF Sevendeaths Version)" was a blissed-out number full of twinkling synthesizers and pulsing repetition. The nods to Steve Reich may have come from CFCF, but the lush, shoegaze-inspired sound design was all Sevendeaths, to judge from the artist's new solo EP for the label. It begins with the kind of bold, declarative fanfare that wouldn't sound out of place in a Hudson Mohawke track, but from there it makes a definitive break with LuckyMe's typical style. There's not a drum beat to be found on the entire six-track EP, although that hasn't stopped Rustie and HudMo from playing it in their DJ sets, apparently; instead, the Edinburgh musician (Steven Shade, a member of LuckyMe signings American Men) dives headfirst into surging arpeggios and rich, resonant drones. The bending tones of "And Another Another" recall My Bloody Valentine, while echoes of Emeralds and Tim Hecker resonate through the undulating synthesizers and organ-grinder fuzz of "Concrete Misery" and "Ghostache." Play it loud and, preferably, while lying down.
Magic Mountain High, Tiny Breadcrumbs (Off Minor)
The members of Magic Mountain High — Heidelberg's Move D and Amsterdam's Juju & Jordash — aren't only crack performers; they're also skilled listeners. They need to be: Their all-hardware live sets are entirely improvised, with each musician handling an array of machines. That's a lot of buttons and knobs, and a lot of opportunities for the sound to spin out of control. These four studio jams are all about control, however. "Suub" wrings maximum expression from its needlenosed squeal and screwface-inducing kicks, suggesting a SETI broadcast turned into an intergalactic war dance; "Avalanche" is another rugged, stripped-down drum track, with rushing, gale-force winds that prove how high their magic mountain really goes. Their improv sensibilities come to the fore on "Riptide," where 808 tom riffs and creamy synthesizer leads are laid on with an almost painterly touch; if that one could be mistaken for a Juju & Jordash production, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina (No Compromise Mix)" has the crisp ethereality of Move D's solo work — just strung out, tangled up, and topped off with a touch of lilting theremin.
Todd Osborn, Michigan Dream EP (Blueberry Records)
"Michigan Dream" has been floating around for a while; it turns up as early as a 2009 Electronic Explorations podcast from Planet Mu's Mike Paradinas, credited to Osborn's Superstructure alias (and flagged at the time as an upcoming Planet Mu release). Four years later, the easy-listening boom-bap song — swelling strings, angel choirs, some real lovers-running-into-the-waves-at-sunset shit — finally gets a release on Falty DL's Blueberry Records. It may be the title track, but it's actually the outlier here. The opening "5thep" is heavier than what he tends to put out under his Osborne alias — and more cartoonish, too, what with its looped yelps and clown-shoed stomp — but the bright colors and squishy analog palette obviously come from a similar place, while the gnarled acid of "What Is Love" flashes back to early Osborne cuts like "Bout Ready to Jak." (He seems to sample a spoken-word phrase from another, more famous song called "What Is Love," but there's no further relation between the two; instead of daisy-age quirk, this one is all icicles and jumper cables.) Finally, with "752am," he cuts loose with harpsichords and an electro-funk groove that sounds like a D-Train 45 played at 78 and suggests the cheeriest moments on Aphex Twin's Richard D. James Album. (Hear samples at Kudos Records.)
Cooly G, Hold Me (Hyperdub)
On her debut album, Cooly G often sounded like she was channeling Sade, her delivery halting and distant over waterlogged electro beats that were a strange hybrid of electro and U.K. funky. As a singer, she's still playing with self-erasure on her new EP. On "Hold Me," her plea is fed through dub delay and spun out into an oscillating wisp of treble until there's nothing left but a ghostly trace of desire. And on "Oi Dirty," a co-production with DVA, her spoken refrain is all but hidden behind the song's clattering hats and booming, pitch-shifted drums. Those drums! There's nothing coy about her digital rhythm section, which jerks and thrashes and yet somehow manages to sound almost elegant. "Molly," the most straightforward cut here, invokes both acid and dub techno without being either, but all three cuts basically thumb their nose at genre; they're just heavy and weird, and guaranteed to sound earthshaking on a good system. (Listen to "Oi Dirty" on Pitchfork.)