Jeff Mills – Mind Power Mind Control – Axis Records

Maybe it’s the title Mind Power Mind Control, maybe it’s the searing intent fuelling this incapacitating listen as dangerous electronics hardwire themselves into your consciousness. Maybe it is simply because this is outstanding Art or music, call it what you will. It’s so tempting to ignore the labels added by the mainstream mind-set to categorise music so I am going to do precisely that for the simple reason that music of this standing deserves more than that basic impulse to dissolve real meaning.

The album’s name refers to the set of circumstances we find ourselves in, voluntary or otherwise, and as you listen to the brooding intensity evolving throughout you can reach your own conclusions in that process. You could certainly suggest the psychological dark arts are at musical play. Take the ten plus minutes of Hatsumi which combines tantalising landscapes of provocative sound, heavy bass and dubbed out drums feeling like the band has perhaps taken something they shouldn’t have to elicit something that is quite so potent, so trail blazingly wonderful.

The sky outside may look like its closing in but there is always light to be found if you look in the right places. There is a connection to be found as this collection of disparate pieces joins the synapsis of what ifs and just maybe’s. This most certainly is sublime in the sense of wonder that changes night into day sowing a rich tapestry of thought together with the threads of human emotion we have remaining to call our own. A depth charge of excellence.

Release: May 20
https://www.axisrecords.com/

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Van Bonn & Luis Baltes – Temptation EP – Freund Der Familie

If the appeal of grainy, analogue holds sway then this is most definitely something you will want to experience. Temptation is all about the soul of machines and their consequent human interaction, which in this case positively smoulders offering deep drums offset by cosmically charged future echoes. The Mathimidori interpretation is likewise excellent adding a definite spring in the step of the rhythm section while its breezy use of vocals sprinkles extra magic across all the heavy-duty Jamaican inspiration.

Release: May 20
Buy https://freundderfamilie.bandcamp.com/album/temptation-ep
https://www.van-bonn.com/
https://www.facebook.com/luis.baltes.music

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Jake Beautyman – Mareen Life EP – Analytic Records

The word rugged was built specifically for this production. After all who doesn’t love bass. Mareen Life is all about bubbling low-end theory, thumping kicks plus reverberating synth lines hinting at an incendiary melodic charge, complimented by an array sizzling sound effects. Good remix from Audio Analysts too who transform it via a heavy dose of Acid, while second track Afters Journey contrasts nicely feeling suitably deep, reflective of late nights and smouldering grooves galore. Terry Francis then supplies a hot and fiery remix working the filtered stabs alongside its crisp, rolling rhythm section into cool distraction.

Release: May 20
Buy / listen https://www.beatport.com/release/mareen-life-ep/3705589
https://www.instagram.com/jakebeautyman/

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Lucas Alexander – FM Dial – Four Thirty Two

Beats and Bass. This is pirate radio calling. Created by Lucas Alexander the original FM Dial echoes classic sounds of yesteryear, alongside a voice from the past proclaiming that you need to tune into this brutally compelling production. Then we come to Seb Zito’s devastating remix which reworks the elements while the introduction of grinding, killer stabs transforms it all provocatively into 2022. Collaborating with Joey Rich & Harrie Summers next for Move It another killer slice of House takes effect. Leaving the excellent Itchy Feet featuring Fernquest to hit upon the 90’s once again like tomorrow never happened. Back to business.

Release: May 20
facebook.com/DjLucasAlexander
instagram.com/djlucasalexander

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Calibre & Chelou – Dissolve In The Rain – Signature Recordings

I listen to a lot of electronic music which more often than not configured around the movement of dance. Then I listen to Dissolve In The Rain and wonder why the leap of faith expands way beyond words, why you would produce club music to exist as being simply functional rather than seeking out true longevity and excellence. That is not just with regards to the qualities of modern song writing, though that certainly raises some doubt whenever you feel the brutal impact of modular instrumentation at its most radically creative.

This piece of music however talks directly to your heart in ways that are intensely personal, arousing an authentic sense of empathy if you’ve ever found yourself hanging around in such as lonely position. Words drift in and out plotting a course over the uncomplicated yet devastatingly emotional musicianship that touches upon the spirit of Jazz and Blues alongside a contemporary electronic impulse. Maybe that in itself is one of the answers as these sounds have nourished our collective souls for what seems like an eternity. Stunning melancholy redefining what is called beautiful.

Smartlink https://ffm.to/calibre-chelou
https://www.instagram.com/calibresignature/
https://www.instagram.com/cheloumusic/

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Pierre Boulez – Composer Conductor Enigma – Él Records

Where does one note begin and another end. Think about Pierre Boulez when he greets you with Sonatine for Flute and Piano, Op. 1 (1946; revised 1949) as danger dances in the air mere moments after the end of the Second World War. Why should music remain the same. The safety of nostalgia never seemed so tempting. The intensity is almost terrifying, yet completely engaging and thrilling.

The accompanying booklet contains a number of quotes from the composer whose defiance is both parts refreshing and informative. Likewise the notes expand and inform on the story of this iconic, disruptive figure in full. In ways the music spanning his early works feels found somewhere in-between the expression of black and white and the explosion of technicolour. While each story is being told it is constantly caught off-guard. His experiments with magnetic tape conjure up a whole other abstraction that is as timeless as it remains radical: Deux études de musique concréte For Magnetic Tape (1951-2). However these words do little justice to the sheer exhilaration of pieces like La Symphonie mécanique musique concrète, for a film by Jean Mitry (1955) as his involvement with France’s Groupe de Recherches de Musique Concrète testifies.

As an addition this brilliant four disc compilation includes music from other composers who occupied a similar orbit, as well as his work as a Conductor – a word that perhaps best describes Pierre Boulez.

Release: May 6
https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/pierre-boulez-composer-conductor-enigma-4cd

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NETHERWORLD – Vanishing Lands – Glacial Movements

Thinking can be a dangerous business demanding a definitive response without thought for consequences. I sometimes wonder whether the radical nature of music that seeks to engage the mind rather than a response to the rhythm of movement suggests one is more important than the other. I do know the imagination is limitless whereas the structures of dance music are often not…

Vanishing Lands as the title indicates proposes alternative questions about the nature of our continued existence, given the destruction all around us, as everything we consider is stripped bare. This is a soundtrack to accompany that series of enquiries created by the labels own Alessandro Tedeschi. The opening title Last Sunset captures that revolution perfectly as hints of heavenly melody get twisted out of shape and yet you can’t help but fall in love with the idea. The album proceeds in the same vein combining cosmic wonder with hints of the eternal, while contrasted by darker replies. Each counterbalancing the other. Each beautiful in their own right. A magnificent album that finally stretches out the possible.

Release: May 6
Buy http://www.glacialmovements.com/music-news/netherworld-vanishing-lands

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Phil Kieran – Nightride (soundtrack) – Phil Kieran Recordings

Turning the key in the ignition may seem like an everyday occurrence but in the hands of this ingenious noir suspense is the critical starting point. Unlike most cinema the horizon closes in, rather than opens out, as night proceeds to provide cover for illicit activities following the twists and turns of Belfast tarmac revealing as much of the characters as they do about the intrinsic history driven into collective consciousness. Written by Ben Conway and Directed by Stephen Fingleton.

Like all modern moving pictures the accompanying soundtrack can make or break the tension which in Phil Kieran’s case isn’t even in question. Feeling suitable edgy throughout an underlying unanswered question fuels the nervous storyline with tales of explosive electronic energy never finding time to capture breath. There are standalone tracks such as Last Train To Drums, powerful enough to drive any dancefloor in one direction, while more reflective moments like It’s All Gone Wrong and the opening Nightride Theme capture your attention in more introspective ways. Completing the picture is Le Carousel – It’s All About The Balance, Phil’s live act, who feature a contrasting uplift to the soundtrack while ending on a white line high.

Release: May 6
Buy the soundtrack https://philkieran.bandcamp.com
Watch Nightride https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81553860
https://www.philkieranmusic.com

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Phil Kieran Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Phil. Let’s start with the soundtrack you have created for the Netflix film Nightride (due out on PKR). How would you describe the film? How did you create the accompanying score: to go with individual scenes, or to match the overall atmosphere? Was there a particular synthesizer which lent itself to the feel of the film?

It’s a thriller all shot in one take around the streets of Belfast, quite tense and grimy, it has a hyper real feel to it. The music was inspired by thinking about what would Budge (the main character), a drug dealer in Belfast, maybe be listening to.

As a one-shot, mostly one character movie, there is less visual imagery than most films. We knew it would rely heavily on music to tell the story and set the tone. There was a long period of trial and error. Originally, we thought all the music should sound like it was coming from the car’s stereo system or from background nightlife but a strictly diagetic approach wasn’t working out. I took a break, listened to a lot of Tangerine Dream, watched a lot of 80s films especially anything with an electronic feel to the score. An early Michael Mann picture called Thief is even referenced in Nightride’s script. I decided to start afresh and at that point things fell into place quite quickly. At that point I was really starting to enjoy myself, along with all the other classic 80’s influences I tried for a motif or a recurring “theme” influenced from the music of John Carpenter films but I tried to do it in a contemporary techno sounding way.

To my delight everyone went for it, the “Nightride Theme” that’ appears first on the album is taken from the actual opening scene in the movie and the “original” version later in my album is the version I first made in the studio. I took a less is more approach to synchronisation, putting in just what’s needed to serve the atmosphere and give impact, but I also wanted to create a coherent body of music, not just a series of musical accompaniments to a cue sheet. I want listeners to be able to listen to it with their eyes closed, almost imagine the story and climb inside the emotions involved.  Apparently, the script writer Ben Conway had me in mind when he was writing the script, so it made sense to use a few tracks that I’d already released but the rest were created to go with particular scenes.

Your studio is currently housed at The Strand Arts Centre which originally opened in 1935. How did that come about? Does making music in such a historic building add any qualities to your music? And what are feelings about Art Deco architecture as opposed to the more modern buildings currently being built in Belfast?

I wrote the music for a play called “East Belfast Boy” that was shown in the MAC Belfast about 5 years ago, written by Fintan Brady, produced by Prime Cut and directed by my friend Emma Jordan. After the play finished in the MAC there was an opportunity for it to be shown in The Strand Arts Centre about six months later when we were looking around the building to find a rehearsal space I noticed a disused room that was originally a studio which wasn’t being used.

To cut a long story short I was asked to be the artist in residence there for one year and now I have been there nearly four years. It’s been the best time of my life creatively and I’ve been the most prolific I’ve ever been while I’ve been there. During the pandemic, the studio was the one place I had any sense of control over the world around me. I was being told to DJ on live-streams and podcasts but for me, this was the perfect time to follow a passion that has been bubbling for a really long time, to make music for film and visual media. I guess being in a cinema everyday helps me stay focused on that dream. During lockdown I was practically the only person in the building but now it’s open to the public again,  I love hearing the bass booming from screen one as I walk up the stairs and it just fills me with excitement every time. 

Outside of music what provides your main motivation?

My family are my main focus outside music, I have a very patient wife and two lovely children.  I’m motivated by everything in life and constantly trying to work out why we exist and what meaning music and art has within that. I believe the two things that make you happy are love and creativity.  

Talk us through where your love of cars came from and their restoration? Has there been a favourite to date?

 I’m obsessed with old VWs, in particular pre-79 VW Beetles. I’m not sure where it all started but I know that from very early childhood I was just obsessed; aged 10 or 11 I was buying any magazines I could get my hands on reading every single page again and again. I bought a really cool one when I was about 15 and started to restore it. I almost got it finished but then I discovered techno music and the Beetle was neglected for years until my early 30’s. Nowadays I have a green one and a turquoise one. Neither of them are on the road at present but will hopefully be driving again very soon. 

As time goes by would you say your tastes in music have changed at all? Have you discovered anything that has surprised you liking?

 A lot of the time I’m digging into the past to find things I’ve never heard. I love trying to go back as far as possible and hear where ideas first started and where they started to influence other music. I like music that gives me escapism, I don’t want reminded of what’s going on around me now, I want to be transported to another world or parallel universe. I tend to get obsessed with one band or one artist for a while as well and try to listen to everything they’ve ever done until I move on to the next discovery. I try not to repeat listening to things, I can’t see how you can learn anything by listening to the same album all the time. I do have my faves that I revisit like KLF’s Chill Out or Brian Eno/ David Byrnes My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, but they are few and far between.

What are your thoughts on Techno, how its history has been perceived and where its future lies?

I’ve watched techno go in and out of fashion so many times, currently it seems to be in fashion and a popular term to label yourself with. It’s hard to figure out what’s real or fake. Tech advances have made it easier for people to have a go at making music but they’re not all in it for pure reasons.  I think we have to learn how to drown out the noise around us and just find the interesting stuff, which is maybe a little harder to find but has an honest passionate sound to it. I hope the future will see more people focussed on being an artist and less about trying to be popular.

Are DJ’s still as important as they once were given the easy access to music online?

I think most of what being a good DJ is about is just having good music taste and instinctively knowing how to curate a night, give it a thread and bring the crowd on a journey with you. It’s not exactly very difficult to mix two tracks on CDJ’s these days. The tune selection is everything. 

You are creating an archive of the rise of club culture in Belfast and NI at the minute. Did you discover anything that surprised you about that history? Can you tell us about any further plans for the project?

I began interviewing friends who’d been involved in music since the late 1980s just as a way to record memories and put them on record for future generations to use. It snowballed and I’ve been surprised by just how many want to share their stories. I now hope to work with Queens University in creating a fuller archive over the coming years. My friend Sara Gunn’s film production company is interested in creating a feature film using the archive. It’s all very early stages but everyone’s getting older and there are people whose memories I’d love to have captured who are sadly no longer with us. What’s surprised me is just how early the first signs of what we’d call dance music were creeping into nightclubs in NI, often being played side by side with punk or rock music.

Belfast is thought of as a very conservative city, but I’m finding that young people and music lovers will always find a way to create their own scenes and tribes, express themselves and have fun. One thing that might surprise people is how risqué the aesthetic and outfits were. I’ve got photos from Jules Nightclub in 1980s Belfast that’d make Berghain clientele look demure.

What was your pivotal moment in a club or a life altering record that you heard?

Hearing Dave Clarke’s Red one for the first time, David Holmes playing House Nation in the Art College, hearing Nitzer Ebb for the first time, Richie Hawtin playing in the Rotterdam Bar in Belfast. All in the 90’s. 

And finally. What advice would you give to someone starting out in music or as a DJ?

Be yourself

https://www.philkieranmusic.com

Watch Nightride www.netflix.com/gb/title/81553860
Buy the soundtrack https://philkieran.bandcamp.com

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Local Suicide with Curses – Whispering – Iptamenos Discos

Get excited about Local Suicide’s forthcoming album, Eros Anikate if this single release is anything to go by. It’s got sexy, syncopated bass coupled with tempting vocals, hot staccato guitar plus a whole bunch of sassy attitude. A lot like life.

Release: May 3
https://www.instagram.com/localsuicide/
https://iptamenosdiscos.com
www.cursesforever.com

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