‘Jalada’ – Daniel[i] (Whispering Signals)

Jalada by Daniel[i]

Aachen based techno label Whispering Signals celebrate their inaugural release with Jalada, a four track E.P. exemplifying the crisp, layered sound synonymous with contemporary techno. Label head Daniel[i] spearheads the release with an original mix and the remix list packs a production punch, calling on Wa Wu We (aka Sebastian Mullaert), Feral and Illuvia.

For the last 18 months, Daniel[i] aka Daniel Danieli has been slowly building a strong discography, with releases on some of the genres most forward-thinking labels (Lowless, Norite and Ritualism). With Jalada, Danieli once again displays his ability as a producer. Each element within the track is seamlessly integrated, from the kicks (which seem to start life as padded kicks, but evolve to dance floor ready rumbles) to the layers of percussive elements (a fusion of different highs work really well together). A faint vocal echoes from the mid-point on, underpinning the production with the ‘whispering signals’ message. It strikes a nice balance – in my opinion equally at home during a home listening session, or in a club setting.

4×4 remixes come in the form of Wa Wu We’s ‘Ventilation’ and Feral’s ‘Night Version’. The former’s offering is grittier and kicks, pads and highs seem denser. The latter exemplifies Feral’s sound perfectly – slightly tribal, with slinky high hats and other worldly sound samples that are interspersed throughout. 

Perhaps better known for his work under the alias Purl, Ludvig Cimbrelius rounds things off with an ‘inversion’ under the moniker Illuvia. Atmospheric ambient brings the release to a somewhat blissful ending – gentle padded kicks provide the backdrop to the numerous samples and recordings layered throughout. Cimbrelius provides a naturalistic feel, with the sound of trickling water mimicked and the faint, ethereal sound of a distant whisper present, seemingly carried along by gentle soundscapes.

According to Danieli, each contributor to the release understands his vision and perception of sounds in general, but was given full autonomy with their productions to respect the ‘Whispering Signals’ message. The result is an extremely well crafted release and in a genre where fledgling labels have to notch a few releases to find their feet, Whispering Signals has clearly hit the ground running. 

Available on vinyl (pre-order) and digitally through Formaviva.

‘Tyyni’ – Cucina Povera (Night School)

Artwork for 'Tyyni' - the latest release from Finnish sound artist Cucina Povera.

Slightly late to the party on this one (released March 27th) but stumbling across Finnish born sound artist Cucina Povera (aka Maria Rossi) and her latest album Tyyni was one of my favourite discoveries to date. Following previous releases; Zoom in 2019 and Hilja in 2018, Tyyni pushes Rossi to a more studio-based experimental sound.

The record begins with ‘Salvia Salvatrix’, where Rossi’s voice sets an almost sacred tone. Powerful, warped synths lay place as a somewhat distorted backdrop – the chaos ensuing whilst spoken word remains calm and unnerved. In ‘Anarkian kuvajainen’, Rossi’s vocals begin as an instrument, complementing a droning synth and glitchy mobile phone transmissions. As the track progresses, a dream like verse is introduced, which allows the listener to slowly drift to an almost meditative state..

‘Teerenpeli’ is possibly the most ‘modern’ sounding track – a minimalist-style tribal drum loop is present throughout and sampled recordings (simulating trickling water, crickets, thunder claps and echoing bird calls) glue the composition together with a naturistic undertone. Side A finishes with ‘Varjokuvatanssi’ – all instruments are stripped away and a haunting monologue is partnered only by quiet spoken-word background murmurs.

‘Polyton Nurkka’s’ distorted synth and heavy kick juxtapose gentle keys and Rossi’s melodic vocals, and in ‘Haaksirikkoutunut’, the record shifts again to a more abstract place, where structure makes way for sporadic drum pads, peppered with a manner of different samples and recordings. 

‘Saniaiset’ allows Rossi’s voice to be pushed to the foreground once more, with half-spoken and half-sung lyrics intertwined to the backdrop of a church bell-esque ringing synth, to stunning effect. Rounding things off with ‘Jolkottelureitti’, scaled synths sweep throughout the 8-minute track, whilst Rossi grants the listener one last show of her beautiful vocal range.

Not normally one for picking a favourite track, but the opener ‘Salvia Salvatrix’ really stood out for me. It’s where Rossi’s stunning vocal range is possibly most highlighted.  

Further reading (and discography) can be found here, whilst a mix recorded by Rossi for alternative music store Bleep, is also well worth a listen.


‘Resonance’ – Yumiko Morioka (Métron Records)

'Resonance' - Yumiko Morioka (Métron Records)

Métron Records is the creative project of visual designer Jack Hardwicke, originally from the UK, but now based in Berlin. Since 2015, Métron has been providing ambient fans with mixtapes and podcasts and in 2018, they began releasing records. Their latest offering comes in the form of a re-issue – the 1987 solo album ‘Resonance’ from Yumiko Morioka, originally released on Akira Ito’s ‘Green + Water’ imprint. 

Hardwicke finally tracked down Morioka mid-way through 2017, months after listening to ‘Resonance’ for the first time. Unfortunately, contact was made at a difficult time for the pianist, as she had recently lost her house (along with all of her possessions) in the California wildfires. Hearing the album had generated a wave of new followers through blog posts and YouTube was apparently met with some surprise, as the original release had mostly been used across different Japanese medical centres and commercials, before fading into relative obscurity.

The tracks themselves are beautifully delicate, with Morioka’s solo piano compositions taking centre stage, sometimes complemented with other orchestral instruments (the sweeping strings, joyful percussion and choral esque vocals on ‘Round and Round (I believe) are a personal favourite).

Re-issues tend to divide opinion (not necessarily equally). Some ultra-diggers see a negative side to picking out a relatively obscure EP / LP from history, and marketing it to a wider, modern audience. I have respect for said diggers, who spend hours and hours in dusty rooms unearthing forgotten gems. However, more credit, in my opinion, should be given to the music fan who invests not only his time in finding these pieces, but also energy, money and everything in between to ensure that this music can be shared with as many people as possible. 

This story is particularly warming, in light of the events that Morioka had experienced – contacted by a stranger, thousands of miles away, informing her that people were itching for this album to be re-released – amazing. 

Available via the Métron Records bandcamp page both digitally and on re-mastered 12” (be quick – there was only 72 out of 500 remaining when I placed my order)!

‘Ultraviolet Radiation’ – Feral (Hypnus Records)

Ultraviolet Radiation - Feral (Hypnus Records)

Since 2013, Hypnus records has released some of the most forward thinking techno within the genre, curated under the watchful eye of Michel, who also plays live (and formerly djed) under the moniker of Ntogn.  

During their first year, Hypnus debutised emerging (now established) artists Luigi Tozzi, Korridor and BLNDR, whilst rounding things off with a remix album featuring tracks from Mike Parker, Cio D’or, Cassegrain and Orphx. The years following has seen Hypnus reach nearly fifty releases, with a roster reading like the who’s who of contemporary techno, including; Feral, SKYM, Primal Code and Birds ov Paradise.

The latest release calls again on a label mainstay, italian producer and live act Feral. ‘Ultraviolet Radiation’ is a four track E.P which perfectly embodies the sound that Hypnus has become synonymous with. ‘Polar Sun’ is dark and driving, with acid-esque warps layered perfectly over throbbing, dubby drum loops. ‘Ice Tunnel’ is more stripped back with rasping highs and syncopated toms taking centre stage, under pinned once more by a dubby kick.

Title Track ‘Ultraviolet Radiation’ transitions to break beat and the warped cosmic soundscape certainly shows signs of a Donato Dozzy-esque influence. Ending things with ‘Solar’ Feral shifts again, removing rhythmic kicks and paving the way for dark, powerful drone. 

The vision for the label is clear and considered, with Michel citing intrinsic links to nature and its frequencies, stretching our conscious limits and connecting with each other through creativity and imagination. Vinyl releases occur with each new moon and whilst the visual identity has always been beautifully crafted, the recent use of artwork created by Michel’s partner seems to have taken it to another level – appearing to be another important step in the organic development of the imprint.

Michel also curates The Memoir, a podcast series in which friends and affiliates of the Hypnus label are invited to deliver an hour (sometimes more) of all their own material. A perfect opportunity for artists to lay their creative souls bare and for listeners to delve deeper into a producer’s personal output. Feral’s recent contribution can be found here.

Following the recent Spring equinox, we look forward to a new season of boundary pushing sounds from Hypnus.

‘Solitary Hymns’ – Various Artists (VAAGNER)

'Solitary Hymns' - Various Artists (VAAGNER)

Berlin-based ambient / drone label VAAGNER releases ‘Solitary Hymns’, a nine-track digital compilation. Nine different countries are represented and whilst VAAGNER highlight that some of the pieces were made very recently, some of the tracks were unreleased material ‘that take on an entirely different context in the current, unprecedented situation we all see ourselves in’.

There are some familiar faces; øjeRum’s ‘Your Chest, your hands, your mouth’ offers up beautiful melancholic tape loops, whilst Anthene’s ‘Light Years’ is peaceful, yet hopeful, providing light at the end of a long tunnel. 

However, there are also some new (to me at least), which piqued my interest. Japanese ambient artist Hakobune provides the seventh track ‘March 28th’, and takes the release in a somewhat doom-filled direction. Vast soundscapes provoke a feeling of emptiness – really powerful and interesting composition. Following this is ‘(Windowpane) Nowhere Nearer’, a reflective, peaceful piece by Zen Zsigo – whom, until further research, I was unaware is an alias of UK producer Cremation Lily (his release ‘In England now, underwater’ was one of my stand out releases of 2018’). 

The compilation offers up a journey of emotions, with each artist seeming to encapsulate what these times mean to them. We are all in this together, but all of us have our own journey, and our own story to tell.

Available digitally via the VAAGNER bandcamp page.

‘Humility’ – Tekra (Northallsen Records)

'Humility' - Tekra (Northallsen Records)

Dark, pulsating techno from UK-based Tekra (aka Andrew Kater) forms the latest release from Columbia label Northallsen Records, the endeavour of rising native DJ Aleja Sanchez. ‘Humility’ is available both digitally and via limited edition cassette (I believe this to be the first release the label have offered in this format) and follows incredibly strong works from Kater on leading labels including Circular Limited and Warok Music.

‘Humility’ opens with ‘Connection’, an atmospheric drone scape, perfect for a peak time set starter and in this instance, a perfect introduction to the rest of the release. Title track ‘Humility’ moves the release into a 4×4 format, peppered with sonic plucks, before a low rumbling bass line kicks in.

‘Kerid’ continues to build tension (a tight syncopated hi-hat is one of my favourite music components) and then ‘Ybbob’ shifts the release in a slightly harder direction, with Kater adding layer upon layer of immersive sounds, including an ethereal sounding synth. ‘Geysir’ continues the heads-down, 4×4 theme, before he kicks things back up a notch with ‘Exception’. A Shifted-esque heavy drum roll almost purrs along and is complemented by punctuated cosmic bleeps and grainy (almost noise like) synths.

Penultimate track ‘Skogafoss’ is an extremely tight production. Crisp drums and highs form the backdrop, as an orchestra of different percussive elements fade in and fade out. To round things off, ‘Amiga’ sees Kater slows things down and shifts to a break-beat, with a dnb twist to the drums and hi elements, further exemplifying his range as a producer. 

Mega release and interesting to see an established label move into outputs on tape – hopefully a sign of things to come! 

Available via Northallsen Records Bandcamp page


‘Maslyanino’ – Nikita Bondarev (Self-Released)

'Maslyanino' - Nikita Bondarev (Self-Released)

Whilst we all attempt to traverse these difficult and unprecedented times in our own ways, I personally have found solace in ingraining music even further into my daily life. It can spark moments of joy (unearthing a new-found gem of a producer or release), moments of reflection (music and memories go hand in hand) and sometimes, moments of pure distraction (digitising a 12” collection!).

I came across this gentle, long form composition from Russian musician Nikita Bondarev yesterday and felt it too beautiful not to share. Soothing piano provides the body of the piece, complemented by familiar field recordings. It transports me to a beautiful Spring morning – a gentle stroll in the local park, listening to nature as it awakes from its winter hibernation. 

No further description required. Over the coming days allow yourself to switch off for twenty six minutes and fifty eight seconds and let Bondarev transport you to that familiar place. The piece is currently available on a ‘name your price’ offer, through the artist’s Bandcamp page.

‘A Blue Wing’ – Canadian Rifles (Eastern Nurseries)

The latest addition to the impressive discography of ambient / experimental Porto-based tape label, Eastern Nurseries, comes in the form of ‘A Blue Wing’, an emotive three tracker from Canadian Rifles (the solo moniker of label head Rui Andrade). 

The label first came to my attention in July last year, when Andrade released the second EP from the then fledgling label – ‘Of course I still love you / Geranium’ a limited run two track tape, whose interior was sprayed with the 2003 fragrance ‘Hugo Boss Baldessarini’ (the scent of a long lost lover perhaps?). 

Since then, EN has operated at the indie-like efficiency I love and admire, releasing seven E.P and L.Ps in as many months. Initially, Andrade predominantly issued his own works under the Candian Wings moniker, but recent outputs by Nonchalant (‘I wish I could be somewhere with you’) and Lift Aym (‘Rare Earth Exposure’) have hinted at a slight change in direction.

In ‘A Blue Wing’, Andrade uses layer upon layer of powerful drone soundscapes. Opener ‘Two Women’ begins almost contemplative and somewhat ethereal, in contrast to the powerful, atmospheric title track which follows. To round things off ‘She proceeded to blindly tell fragrances apart at the airport duty free’ to me evokes a certain sadness, perhaps distraction, from an upcoming journey away from a loved one. 

Perhaps just my viewpoint, but I seem to pick out several references to love, and more so, loss in a number of the releases that make up EN’s discography. Some subtle, in the instance of ‘Old and New Bridges’ by HRNS and some much more upfront; ‘I saw his plane taking off to the clouds’ by Tbilisi based FH HF.

As highlighted with other independent tape labels, the whole package is brought together beautifully. Releases are complemented with artwork in different mediums (photography / collage / graphic design). For ‘A Blue Wing’, Andrade uses a beautiful piece by designer Laura Costas (unfortunately I couldn’t find any further information – will continue the search).

‘A Blue Wing’ is available digitally via the Eastern Nurseries Bandcamp Page. We eagerly await their next release and wish Rui and all affiliated to the label a safe passage through these difficult and uncertain times.

‘Can you ear me?’ – Antibodies (Steep Gloss)

Can you ear me? release by Antibodies

Release number seven on Wigan (UK) based experimental tape output Steep Gloss, comes in the form of ‘Can you ear me?’, a boundary-pushing seven track collaboration between interdisciplinary artist and musician Brandstifter and word-and-sound artist (Dirk) Huelstrunk, collectively known as Antibodies.

All seven tracks see Huelstrunk’s skittish poetry given centre stage, with Brandstifter creating a complementary soundscape each time, with the use of unusual instruments, erratic noises and rhythms. All culminating in what sounds like the inner ramblings of a psychotic state.

‘Send Receiver’ is a short intro track – a taste of what’s to come if you like. A strained spoken word beginning sweeps along with an under current of near acid like synth. A minute in, the words make way for the awakening of a sketchy orchestra, a variety of noises providing almost sensory overload. Title track ‘can you ear me?’ does an amazing job of building tension right from the off. A quiet, tribal-esque drum rhythm is solitary for around a minute, until Brandstifter again begins to introduce an array of conflicting noises with Huelstrunks input coming in the form of elongated oral drones. The ‘buzzing fly’ also adds another layer of unease. 

‘Mic robes’ begins with an almost distressed sounding monologue, which progresses into manic laughter, with the accompanying soundtrack stripped back to an almost medical metronome. Calm before the storm perhaps?

Indeed. If the previous three tracks were good at building tension, then ‘dis cushion’ is all about uncomfortable apprehension. The ‘mad man’ has become angry and the solemn, somewhat contemplative monologues make way for screams, shouts and everything in between. Again the music is abstract and minimalist – doing an amazing job in providing a jittery backdrop to the intermittent ramblings.

‘Yesnow’ is slightly ‘calmer’, with Huelstrunk’s voice twisted and manipulated to create an array of noises and rhythms. ‘Flamengo’ rounds things off on a reflective, but sinister note. I love releases like this – where I find myself creating my own story in which the release soundtracks. ‘Can you ear me?’ allowed me to create my most vivid yet.

Steep Gloss is definitely a label to follow. Although only launching in December of last year, their output so far has consisted of some of the most weird and wonderful experimental music coming out of the UK at the moment. A perfect musical accompaniment to seemingly endless isolation!

’13 Monotonousness’ – Yosuke Tokunaga (AVA – Audio Visual Atmosphere)

'13 Monotonousness' - Yosuke Tokunaga (AVA - Audio Avisual Atmosphere)

Experimental musician Yosuke Tokunaga’s latest output comes in the form of ‘13 Monotonousness’, a 13 track limited edition cassette run on Antwerp-based label AVA (Audio Visual Atmosphere). In the release notes, Tokunaga states that close attention to the ‘sounds, clear isms and perspectives that AVA has presented to date’, resulting in my opinion, as one of the most interesting experimental albums that have come out in 2020.

The album drifts through different moods, with some presenting a somewhat harsh, industrial listening experience (e.g track 6 – Monoto nousness’) and some offering up gentler ambient soundscapes (e.g. track 13 – Monotonousnes s’). 

Tokunaga’s back catalogue is full to the brim of all round creative cohesion. More often than not, the music pushes the boundaries of electronic experimentalism and the media format (CD or cassette) is presented in a hand made package, with some nod to the title of the album (for example, 11 buttons contains a small bag of buttons affixed to the outside of the DIY sleeve). Small runs, little details and amazing tangible representations of an artists dedication (and love) of their art. Well worth exploring.