Friday 30 September 2022

Retro Reviews: ADULT. - New - Phonies

Returning to the retro review format for the first time in a long while, this one shouldn't be as draining as the last couple I've done that focused on albums - today I'll be diving back into ADULT.'s New - Phonies, a fantastic introduction to the group and probably one of their finest works. I've been listening to a lot more EPs than albums as of late due to how much more easily accessible they are, and though this isn't billed as an EP, its cut from the same cloth. Last time I brought up this EP it was around 2016, so let's see if anything's changed between now and then.

I have a long and storied history with ADULT. - though it took me a long time to come around to doing a full deep dive into their works, but once I did they fast became some of my favourites in their genre. And that genre is a bit of a sticking point: often lumped in with Electroclash with artists like Peaches, Felix Da Housecat and others, though ADULT. much like Ladytron disagreed with that label. While there is an undenaible element of similarity in their content and execution, I have had plenty of people kick up a fuss when I've posted them under Electroclash in the past. As I've gotten older I've stopped caring as much about labels, but much like with my begruding use of 'IDM', it is very helpful to define the sound beyond just 'electro' as it's listed on Discogs. But I'll put a pin in it there, this isn't supposed to be a rant about genres, let's get into the content.

When I think of ADULT. the first thing that comes to mind is Nicola Kuperus' unique vocal delivery - often stacatto, laden with anxiety and shouty when it needs to be. New-Phonies gives a nice preview of that on the first track New Object, featuring a stop-start-stutter rendition of the title, backed up with some delicious of the era filtered verses. That's not to discount Adam Lee Miller's contributions to their productions, I end up saying that every time but it bears repeating. They perfectly compliment each other, the electronics on show here are lovely and raw, really embodying that DIY punk style that was no doubt an influence on the two. Twin that with Kuperus' slightly surreal photoshoots adorning the sleeves and you complete the duo's iconic look.

Track 2 makes it much easier to see where that electroclash comparison comes from, a suitably sultry track about phone sex. Doubly so with Nicola's decidedly disinterested vocal recalling Miss Kittin's work with The Hacker of around the same time. Coming back to this one, it's a much slower tempo than I usually associate with ADULT., but one that I think works in this context. Despite the cliches surrounding scene when it comes to deliberately smutty content, I can't think of another ADULT. track that is as explicit as this, with Kuperus' vocal breaking the monotone barrier and literally rising to a climax in the final quarter.

By far and away the highest highlight of the whole thing for me however is Hand To Phone. First track form the aptly titled Lipstick Knife side of the vinyl - A track I will admit I am supremely biased towards and has been in my collection in some form or another since the mid 00's or so. Popular enough to warrant two further spin off EPs of remixes, a reputation it has well earned - it is fantastic, definitely one of the standout tracks of that time. The remixes are good in their own way but it is the original that is the highlight. Absolutley hypnotic, it is one of the few tracks I can never seem to tire of, Kuperus' vocal on here is perfectly matched, the subtle melody to it skirts the cliché flat delivery of the time. A perfect encapsulation of the time, wonderful stuff.

Closing track Your Lies always stood out to me as a little odd in comparison to the other tracks on show. Not nesecerially in a bad way though, it's just perhaps not as dark as the other tracks, and the vocal being distant and vocoded after 3 tracks back to back of Kuperus in full effect seems a little odd. Still, I can't knock it - the way the intro layers up and gives way to the main synth riff is lovely, a really nice electro cut. Perhaps not quite as raw as some of the tracks here, or even their earleir works but I think it carries that methodology with it a little. Looking back on other times I've brought this track up I seem to always say it is maybe not the best closing track but I have to disagree with hindsight, while perhaps swapping Your Lies with Don't Talk might have been a nice sort of comedown quarter, I think the four tracks as they are make for a nice "We are ADULT." kind of release.

And that'll about wrap it up for today, I have to say this record doesn't really sound its age, which I will admit is true for a lot of releases under the Electrclash banner as they were essentially emulating the 80's anyway, but there have been some less well aged examples from the era as well. Pretty incredible for a record that's coming up on 22 years old this year in my humble opinion - these early ADULT. records might be my favourite of their output, but there's plenty to get stuck into if you're digging this kind of sound, I'd recommend jumping to the Rescusitation compilation for more, not only is it full length compared to this release but it also features some reworked versions of their earlier releases too, including a version of Hand To Phone. I'll try and be back around soon enough with more but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday 27 September 2022

Load Game? (Club PlayStation Vol.6)

Hey all, I'm very aware it's been a while. Work has been kicking my arse as of late in addition to general life things. I do have some posts cooking but it'll be a couple of days yet. So I thought I could do with something nice and quick to post to just buy me a bit of time, and wouldn't you know it, recent friend of us and fellow lover of the PS1 Sean Seanson dropped another entry in his themed series of mixtapes. Volume 6 is a bumper edition of all Namco soundtracks, which gives him an absolute goldmine of material to work with - from Ace Combat to Ridge Racer, from Tekken to Klonoa - there are no shortage of tracks to choose from.

Namco's sound team around that time was absolutely on fire, not just in terms of the sheer amount of work they were putting out but how stellar a lot of it is. Ridge Racer Type 4's soundtrack alone is a masterclass in House and Drum & Bass - Pearl Blue Soul in this mix is a perfect demo of the overall funky vibes that it has in spades. Stay tuned immediately after that for the Tekken block - the mix of Chicago's theme into Nina's Theme from Tekken 2 is excellently done, and Nina's theme itself is a primo slice of sassy 90's house.

Some other random highlights that stood out to me: Times Square from Smash Court 2 is a delicious jazzy Drum & Bass number that wouldn't have been too out of place on some Moving Shadow compilation of the time, fans of my previous Ape Escape posts might also hear a tinge of similarity with Soichi Terada's work as well. Beats From Above from the Klonoa OST is fittingly fit to burst with breakbeats, not the first thing you'd expect from a cute 2.5D platformer, though it is a boss theme if I recall right! Meanwhile Be Warped Time sounds much older, though that's perhaps to be expected as the original arcade version was from 1993 - still, those bombastic, almost 80's drums and euphoric synth riffs give it an air of modern Synthwave.

There's plenty to enjoy here, I highly recommend the full series of mixes even if you're not super into VGM as Sean and I, there are plenty of hidden gems to be had out there. And once again I'm considering making my own bootleg entry to this series, especially as Sean actively encouraged it over on Twitter! I'm going to try and get another post out this week but until then, as always, stay safe and and enjoy the music.


Tuesday 13 September 2022

A Wild Week (and a bit)

Well, here I am again. And what a whirlwind week of weirdness it has been, both locally and internationally (and continues to be, at the risk of jinxing it as it's only midweek) I haven't really had time to sit down and write anything of substance, but I have had the chance to do plenty of listening in the meantime so I'm not short of ammo to detail - so silver linings and all that. Let's take a look at a random smattering of tunes.
Wayne Thiebaud - 24th Street Intersection (1977)

Picking up some leftovers from that spacey post that I still haven't gotten around to making with a little piece from The Exaltics, remixed by Gosub. Fitting actually, as I first got turned onto The Exaltics via Gerard Hanson's E.R.P. project, which in turn put me onto the SolarOne Music label, co-founded by the man behind The Exaltics Robert Witschakowski. E.R.P is one of my go-to examples for exactly the kind of hi-tech smooth electro style stuff I'm talking about - honestly, this one could probably make that list as it very much fits the bill, albeit a little more bouncy electro than the usual stuff I put under that space label. This mix of I.M.O.E.H. is catchy as, and full of lovely little touches to keep it fresh, I'm a sucker for pitch bends and the like as you all know.

Another one that's been sat on the backburner for a while that I haven't had an opportunity to talk about yet: the remastered soundtrack to a 1994 FMV point and click adventure game Burn Cycle. And If you've learned anything about me from my postings in the past you'll know that from the description alone that is supremely my bag. The soundtrack was actually included with the game way back when, but I imagine it's a touch hard to come by these days, making the remastered version all the more important. I'm not entirely sure how this came up on my radar if I'm honest, but probably through the suggestions for one of the many techy playlists I maintain - I do however remember the first track that was recommended, which was Zip. It had me gripped with those twinkling opening stabs, which builds to a thumping techno peak - twinned with the samples from the game itself, it certainly sets a befitting atmosphere.

Keeping on that trend of easier to access reissues, a slice of deep house that found its way onto my wishlist next. Late Night Basix Vol. 2 is originally from 1998, but this this version is from 2021 thanks to this reissue on Ghostly International's sub-label Spectral Sound. I've been on a bit of a deep house thing lately after diving back in to my collection of Guidance Recordings material, and half remembering sampling some of the tracks on here I figured it might be just the thing to scratch that itch. And right I was, the whole EP is a nice ride, I've gone ahead and picked the fittingly titled Forgotten Track this time around: it wastes absolutely no time at all getting down to brass tacks by hitting you with that classic 4/4 straight away. From there it's a lovely journey of lush pads, catchy stabs and all manner of things Deep House, just when I find it getting stale there's a little switch up to make it fresh again.

And that'll be all for this time, a little more scattered than usual I feel like, but that's also kind of how these past couple weeks have been so it's apt if nothing else. Still, hope you've found a groove to enjoy amongst these choices - I'll be back soon enough with more, but until then - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday 6 September 2022

Catching Up

It's been a little while hasn't it? I originally planned to pen this yesterday but you know how things get, especially at this time of year. Anyway, I thought I'd do a little catch up on what's happened since last time I posted, which as it turns out is quite a bit. Let's not beat around the bush no more and dive right in.

Lajos Tihanyi - Three Trees (1922)

The elephant in the room and one of the funnier stories to come from the electronic music world in recent years involves Hudson Mohwake - his signature brand of wonky beats went a little viral over the weekend due to a Reddit post from some guy who had Cbat on his, quote, 'sex playlist'. I've always found the idea of those kinds of playlists weird anyway, but I gotta agree with the general consensus here that of all songs, of all HudMo's discography, Cbat is a wild choice for such a thing. HudMo is currently revelling in it as you can see from the description on the newly uploaded Cbat video, and in true HudMo fashion found the whole thing hilarious over on twitter, and no doubt appreciated more eyes on his work just as he has a new album out!

In-between all that you'll find a lot of heated debate about the song itself, plenty of the usual arguments that come up with anything electronic "hurr its robot farts" and the like, but on the flipside I bet more than a handful of people have found the man's work through this - and as I've said in the past: be it soundtracks, memes or whatever, more folk into electronic music is always good in my book. I can't really hold it against the negative crew either, Cbat is pretty abstract once it gets going, and truth be told its not my favourite from the Satin Panthers EP. If you're like me though and want more of that rave inspired intro to immerse yourself in, the closing track from the EP Thank You has you covered, and is a little more accessible than Cbat.

If that appeals to you then I'd highly recommend diving into the HudMo archives! Personally, I'm also going to throw in a hearty recommendation for Rising 5 from the man's debut album Butter. I'd actually suggest that as the perfect place to start actually, the whole LP is very nicely balanced and is a solid intro to HudMo's sound. Rising 5 is one of those tracks that I will not hear for a long long time, but fall in love all over again from the first bars of the intro - all the sweeter when it gets to the totally bombastic meat of the track with that eastern inspired hook.

Other than that, the only other thing thats happened is I missed Bandcamp Friday for the first time ever. No particular reason, it did kind of sneak up on me due to the gap between the last one, but I've also been busy so haven't had time to line up releases to pickup - and I was also in the pub for a lot of Friday so that may have been a factor. That doesn't mean I don't have eyes on things though, I make sure to browse my wishlist every now and then just to keep it fresh in my memory. And then I take the opportunity to make a post of the content to further remind myself!

I went a little deeper in my list than usual this time to see if there was anything deep down I'd not mentioned yet. There I found Baths, an alias of Will Wiesenfeld. I first became aware of through FlyLo's Ideas+Drafts+Loops freebie and the delightfully twee animated series Bee & Puppycat, for which he did the soundtrack. The soundtrack is no longer available legitimately which is a shame as they are all lovely little instrumental pieces. I've gone instead for a track from Cerulean that comes sort of close to having the same vibe.

Aminals, if the title didn't tip you off already, is firmly in that territory - a playful piece of cut-up hip hop. If you're a fan of the more hip-hop styled bits of Bibio's work, tracks like this and Maximalist are very much of the same school. Aminals perhaps more so with the samples of rambling children a la Fire Ant, but the samples on Maximalist do very much remind me of parts from Ambivalence Avenue.

And I think that'll be all for today, I did have a couple more tracks lined up but this has fast gotten longer than I anticipated, think I'll pop them aces back up my sleeve for next time! It's kept at least sonically consistent this way. I'll try and write the other tracks up sooner rather than later, but as mentioned up top this is a busy time of year for me so there may be a slight delay. Rest assured I'll be back soon enough with more but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.