Tentacle Loot #19 | Northern Ncounters – Steel City Records 1995​-​1997

When you experience this compilation, it quickly becomes clear that this is not a well-researched subcultural gem from the history of niche techno. These are contemporary witnesses, those who have been there and who look back on an imprinted fragment of their past with a well-deserved and balanced portion of nostalgia.

Over 12 tracks from the back catalog of the few main players from Steel City Records, we explore a pool of acid tracks that are as uncompromising as they are experimental, and to which the sweat of blurred Warehouse Club nights generated by them is still clearly attached.

Anyone who has ever stretched out their sensors between Detroit and Manchester cannot avoid recognizing musical parallels. However, these tracks are far too honest, truthful and stubbornly naive for a result of quotation and imitation. Rather, the same spirit speaks from them, which also drove the disoriented youngsters from Detroit and Manchester. For them (unlike 90s Techno  in Berlin, for example) the awakening of techno was not the soundtrack for (spiritual) liberation, but a tool of escapism from their bleak, industrially colored world. This can especially be recognized from the fact that these producers represented here were striving for a much more driving, minimalist and hypnotic sound. While there are excursions in typical Berlin high-speed techno from time to time (such as Opgang 2 “DeChirico”), the naive testing of musical limits infected by experienced freedom does not occur. These Tracks had a task, a clear function (and still do!)

The attached PDF Liner Notes are very much recommended and yet too quickly overlooked. In the brief history of Steel City Records and the associated techno enclave of Canada it becomes clear that Detroit and Manchester were indeed important cornerstones of the musical orientation. Pleasingly, the written transcript of the SCR history is not a hedonistic celebration of better days, but rather an honest review of missed opportunities, youthful egocentricity and loyalty to ideas. The explanations are also exciting as a contemporary document of the pre-Internet hypes, from a time when the social networking of different local subcultures was still so completely different from today. Especially since we are now at a point where the dream of the Internet as a tool for cultural independence has been swept away in many ways and we are once again asked to reinvent ourselves.

 Without a doubt, “Steel City Records 1995 – 1997” would be worth a vinyl release. But as usual you would probably have to seize the opportunity to create a musical hype. Maybe you should miss this chance a second time? I guess so!

Tentacle Loot #18 | The 36 Chambers of Danny Wolfers

 

Usually, if you are a musician with only half as many identities, you can be sure that you have lost any prospect of any kind of musical career. After all, the musical identity of one’s own alter ego is usually the creatorˋs greatest asset. And once a recipe has been found that will keep your place in the queue of abundance free, you have to stay tuned and repeat formula X-Y until you get bored and get back into freelance poverty.

So it seems that the only conceivable way to escape this creative one-way street is to have a musical output that a single imaginary identity simply cannot cope with on its own. Regardless of the question how a real person can handle this

… because Danny can.

Where (contrary to popular preferences) I enjoy to hear musicians like Kid606 or Mark Pritchard keep breaking their blueprints constantly and pushing me into completely new worlds of sound, the wondrous “Aha!” moment with Legowelt always arises when someone from my musical arena comes back to with something like: “Oh … yeah, that’s good shit, right ?! Thatˋs actually a Legowelt Track.”

All the more I blossomed through a random Bandcamp fanmail thing from Danny Wolfers, which (far too late) made me realize that another incredible treasure trove of musical parallel identities lives on his very personal Bandcamp site. And even more, mostly on a pay-as-you-please principle. While I recently bought one of the records listed there for a ridiculously low price on Discogs, I guess I will be busy looking at this level of musical effusion even approximately for quite a while now.

Overall, Danny Wolferˋs Legowelt Bandcamp site is a little bit of a personal cabinet of loving curiosities.

Among countless hand-painted, fluffy album covers that reflect a uniquely sympathetic, deliberately naive DIY ethos, circulating Tape Acid Jams and warm, analogue ambient treasures abound, which alternately plant stories of elephants in city parks, extraterrestrials in fast-food restaurants or retro-futuristic vampire societies in the listener’s imagination. And probably the greatest achievement of Danny Wolfers is that you can believe all of these stories. Because he believes in them himself. Because he chose to believe all of these stories. And so with each release you understand a little more that Danny is a great role model for the eternal child in us. Someone who takes well-groomed naivety and an exorbitant knowledge of kitschy micotrends of underground culture to create his dream worlds uninhibited. Someone who does not criticize or condemn exaggerated musical clichés like coolness, but simply soaks up everything and let his robots translate his own version of it.

Danny Wolfers, the man who makes music faster than others can hear it.

“Word.”

Tentacle Loot #17 | Poisson Chat: Nocturna Træcks I+II

As much as I try to avoid mentioning the C-Word these days, opportunities often do lead to inspiration. And so we start this review with a figuratively clichéd thesis once again:

“Isolation is a warm place.”

Not just since his Nocturna Tracks releases I+II Poisson Chat cultivated a very deep and warm sound. In his minimalistic Deep-House compositions he takes us into the comforting realms of pure emptiness that only someone with a truly introverted mind can empathize.

“What I’m looking for when I’m composing music, is an isolated, quiet, and peaceful environment (like the deepness of the ocean). Going like a fish (-cat) to a new world to express what I feel. With my music, I think people can imagine their own underwater stories, and swim into some nice places.”

This is how the artist himself described his musical world of inspiration in one of his rarely seen web appearences – a DJ-Set Podcast / Interview, which was published for the Italian online magazine Electronique.it in 2014. And these ambitions can still be recognized as a driving force in his releases. In the same interview he also described his efforts to strip down his sound as much as possible in order to archieve a clear idea. And indeed, precisely these ingredients lead him to an amazingly focused sound, well-placed in genre terms such as Minimalism, Deep House or LoFi House, but skilfully eludes the corresponding genre clichés. His driving grooves, warm sound carpets and resting melody sequences, create tracks that work on dreamy, lost dance floor escapades as well as on peacefully exhausted six-hour drives back home from the latest festival weekend (which will definitely come ;).

Those who take the rewarding venture to dive deeper into the Poisson Chat‘s catalog will also discover a handful of downtempo treasures in which he has clear evidence for a fluid connection between the early Lofi masterpieces by Boards Of Canada and contemporary LoFi House Trends. This preference is particularly evident on his Unidata alias (which I almost certainly suspect is his creation too, even if this is not clearly written anywhere).

With a few exceptions from the early days, Poisson Chat consistently published on his own label creations Poisson Chat Musique (PCM) and Wave Memory (VΛV).


 

Tentacle Loot #16 | magnetisme obscur: mondo hybrid

Soundtracks for dystopian cyperpunk movies that don’t exist. In the retrofuturistic realms of LoFi-House and Electro, a lot is already out of stock at the video shop around the corner. Whether as a stringent concept or as a flowing aesthetic of sound. And yet it is always surprising how new and independent ideas and color palettes result from this world of sound.

The French producer Magnetisme Obscur has been concentrating on his well-chosen hardware tool-set of driving drum machines, washed-out synths and grated vocal samples since around 2016 and publishes the results on his DIY in-house label CPSL records.

On the current release Mondo Hybrid, he adds an ingredient to his sound spectrum, which he himself describes as a “liquid aspect”. And indeed, a viscous yellow smear flows through the entire length of the EP, extracted from kitsch and stored in darkness for decades. The poison of an unfulfilled hope that distorts into a nightmare of lonesome dreams . A sound that I only experienced so clearly from Danny Wolfer’s (aka Legowelt) side project Polarius. But while Polarius likes to digress and stroll into the unknown, Mondo Hybrid seems pleasantly focused. Mind Surf in particular comes up with a hookline that winds its way through the entire track without any problems and still nudges your finger towards track-repeat at the end.

Octobird Salad #8 | Super Acid Adventure

It’s cold and rainy outside and I’m not particularly willing to stand up against the gravity of my couch.
Instead, I slide the “Super Acid Bros” cartridge into my NES with pizza smeared paws and give the power button a kick.

The first two levels are still pretty easy. Actually a bit uncommon for a Klasse Wrecks release, who usually turn the difficulty level straight to the top stop. But from level four onwards, things really get going. Led by FRANCO.D’ , whom I’ve already praised in my last Tentacle Loot, past some absolute nobrainers from D’Marc Cantu, LFO and Ceephax until Level 8 finally gets brutal and dirty.

Im Kellar is probably more of a bonus level with David Vunk as the endboss – the owner of Moustache Records where the only two EPs by the duo Vunk and Spanish has been released. These were duly hyped and Im Kellar is probably back in the basement now. Hopefully not for too long.

Little by Little is another classic Bandcamp stumbling block. While fresh on my radar, the Frenchman already has a pretty busy portfolio, filled with wonderfully functional club standards. But with the special feature that Little by Little has a knack for letting individual elements slide through these pretty pounding tracks with unheard lightness and dynamics. A handwriting that is not only immortalized on I’m Doing My Thing, but also curls more or less through all of his tracks. Next Level Shit!

Well, and then a large portion of Unknown To The Unknown, because life isn’t hard enough yet. A little bit of 808 State, whose comeback has been celebrated properly already, because they do it right and don’t just dust off their party hats.

And last but not least, the absoloute final boss! Rude 66My 909 – exactly 20 years old and still a secret anthem. With such a deep rolling bass that this number doesn’t actually work too well on a home listening set, but it definitely works out there in the wild. Promised!

Ah shit, I ran out of potato chips. Now I have to get up in the end… GAME OVER

TRACKLIST

TRACK
Basical
I Dream About Acid
Let Go Of This Acid
Total
Maddance
Tan Ta Ra (Moby Remix)
South Bank
The Scene
I’m Doing My Thing (Original Mix)
Hell Is Other People (feat. Si Begg)
Tokyo Tokyo
The Black Night Is Calling My Name
Antipodean
My 909

Octobird Salad #7 | Pacific Planets

I tend to go off topic. No 2020 dystopian megafuture, no winterly cold digital abysses. Instead: Which instrument would you bring on a desert island? … on a strange planet … to communicate with people there … or at least to just hang out and watch the two moons …

…fairly stoned.

In the variety of experimental house music, a handful of artists have emerged in recent years, who have given a very own coloring to the washed-out concept of world music. Far from squeezing cultural assets of non-Western cultures into banging club tracks, but also from subordinating themselfes musically to the researched cultural heritage in false humility by simply creating a prettied blueprint. Instead they trace back their own club culture as a contemporary kind of rite and ecstasy to the origins of this music, which functions far from egocentricity and self-expression. Be it as a musical concept or just as an ingredient in experimental club music.

Probably the most consistent in this ranks are Don’t DJ (which I unfortunately stupidly DJed twice in this set … sorry; /). With their percussive polyrhythms and impulsive monotonous structures, they build bridges between non-western tribal music and the raw idea of techno. The 12th Isle label preferably uses color palettes and publishes wonderfully quirky tracks, impregnated with pale pastel memories from a imaginary Caribbean vacation in 1974(ish). And then there are formations such as Groupshow (with Jan Jelinek), Tru West or even Transllusion that are deeply influenced solely by their clearly audible improvisational character.

TRACKLIST:

Pacific
Untitled (Blue)
Fly Timoun
Repercussion
Silent Elektro
Speedway
Chilazon 2
Syrian Rue
Pet Hair Magnet
Alternative Currents
Forget About It
Moment 4
Chasing The Loophole In A Relentless Spiral Of Self-indulgence

Tentacle Loot #12 | Mætadata – Simulacra & Simulation

Simulacra and Simulation is synonymous with Jean Baudrillard’s book of the same name, a thing that’s no longer a thing. Something completely born out of virtual building blocks, refusing any reference point from the real world.

In an already alienated world of electronic music, one searches in vain for crutches, created by the artist to carry us back into the real world. Although it is “Electro” in the distant sense, it does not want to make us believe that it was written on analog sound generators with buttons, rotated by human hands. And although it sounds damn “funky”, every note, every beat is set by artificial intelligence. The only remaining reference is the core of this human tragedy: the loss of any reference point, wandering around in a hyperreality with the remaining question of whether this is the next logical step or the last step…

… and all in all, it’s damn funky, polished and suitable for clubs. Five out of five stars, desperately searching for their place in the vault of heaven.

Octobird Salad #5 | Mind-bending Monotony

Oh my dear Analord! I just realise that it’s been quite a while since my last recorded confession. So forgive me as I have been hiding in dark places jamming out tunes. What actually brought me back into recording another episode of Octobird Salad was a quite significant update in my gear arsenal. I just recently got myself a pretty good deal on an Allen&Heath Xone:DB4 mixer. And as most A&H DJ-Mixer this one is in particular great for straight on Techno music, advancing the gracile art & craft of carving out elements and layer them over a workspace of four decks.

Preeminently I went for a certain style of Techno I think I first encountered through the one and only Developer. A hypnotic and driven sort of music, embedded in evolving textures and floating hi-hats, worn by a straight four to the floor kick drum. It vehemently refuses catchy hooklines and replaces it with repetitive textures and sequences to drill itself a path into ones subconscious.

Another representative of this guild is probably Luke Slater under his alias Planetary Assault Systems. Unbelievable he only managed to get on my radar two or three years ago. Especially on his recent releases on A-tone Records (a very courageous, offbeat offshoot of the Berghain label Ostgut-Ton) he indulges these style elements with immense sensitivity. His current release Plantae is no exception from this development.

And just before it might get a bit too repetitive, we take the branch into the relatively sluggish rhythms of electro. Not only to carry the current release of my trusty companion Vortex Traks into the world. With Kafkactrl’s “Entropy Model” they travelled again into harsher areas, which are personally always my favourite.

Last but not least, Animistic Beliefs deserve a mention. While the finally played track still makes use of the usual tools of electro, particularly on their current release Mindset: Reset they managed to give the genre a very personal touch. Perfectionist, smooth and yet playful enough to let both sides of your brain play table tennis together.

TRACKLIST:

1 Etienne Jaumet: For Falling Asleep (Christian Vance Slow Burning Saxless Remix) [Versatile Records]
2 NHK yx Koyxen: Parallel Displacement [-ous]
3 S Olbricht: T
4 Donato Dozzy: Back [Tresor]
5 Staffan Linzatti: Dizziness [Balans Records]
6 Planetary Assault Systems: Give It Up [Mote-Evolver]
7 Developer: Over the Eurphrates [Coincidence Records]
8 Simon Haydo: Contortions [MindTrip Music]
9 Israel Vines: Afterever [Interdimensional Transmissions]
10 DJ Spider & Franklin De Costa: F Planet [Berceuse Heroique]
11 Ekman: Doomsday Argument [Crème Organization]
12 Kafkactrl: Occam’s Razor [Vortex Traks]
13 Animistic Beliefs: Digitone X005 [Solar One Music]

“Tram Komputer” out on Zanderhythm

Tram Komputer is the first compilation put together from a vast number of eight-track-sessions recorded at Vodor L. Zeck‘s Studio over the last five years. On a regulary basis Vodor L. Zeck, DBH and Octobird (and who ever else wanted to join in) came together, simply to create portions of energy made with electronic machines, press record and catch some magic.

The tracks captured on this tape were cut and edited as less as possible and then mastered by Octobird. While all these sessions over the years spit out a vast variety of sounds and styles ranging from Hi-Speed Acid to Trippy Downbeats to Speed-Ambient, this first release represents the more melodic Brain Raves.

A special note of thanks also goes out to Vertical67 for the Tape Cover Design visualizing the different Tram stations it took to get to the Zanderythm studio in Berlin Marzahn.

Tentacle Loot #8 | Oxvac – Partials

As part of the American electronic music collective Pr0gramma Oxvac has been releasing his music since about 2015.

On his latest release “Partials” he clearly demonstrates references to abstract rhythm constructs as they were cited by greats like Autechre in the Warp era . However, he neither tries to make himself comfortable in homage nor in practising some kind of beatmashing-competition but adds a very personal coloring. Which, in its warmth, happily stands out from the cold, mathematical IDM sound. The warm analog origin of the modular system responsible for most of the synth sequences is clearly audible and the background noise that accompanies us throughout the whole album sets itself like a little piece of meadow under the tracks so that the organic melodies may writhe on it. The beat structures also seem to hover between complex patterns and a wide-breathing 4/4 bass drum.

So yet again another happy accident to find such beautiful electronic music from the U.S. of A. From this side of the Atlantic’s perspective I can  just say it’s nice that you’re no longer necessarily get overpowered by EDM-Metal-Dubstep, but can also lift the actual treasures (which have always been there!). At least on platforms like Bandcamp and Co.

Inhalts-Ende

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