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Jul 15

Enig’matik Disbands, Gives Away Entire Catalog For Free

After a noticeable period of inactivity, Australia-based internet label Enig'matik Records has officially disbanded. Their once well-designed website is now desolate--completely blank except for the single solemn message, "this account has been suspended."

The label made its announcement via an understated Facebook post:

After considering our future it's apparent that our time is most valued put into our own personal projects. Thanks again for the support. Enig'matik.
There's a silver lining to every cloud though, and as an act of gratitude to fans, you can now download their entire discography for free, which will remain online permanently.

Over the course of its three years as a label, Enig'matik Records became one of electronic music's best kept secrets--an online platform for sound designers and audio geeks who pored over their labyrinthine tracks to the point of obsession. Each artist dabbled in different genres--tech-breaks, broken beats, IDM, glitch hop, dubstep, trip hop, experimental techno, and even ambient. But they all shared a love of extraordinarily hi-fi, manically detailed, hyper-clean production, formed by the call and response of countless glitchy noises, psychedelic wobbles, and futuristic squelches.

The label's founder Jake Rose (also known as Sun in Aquarius) strived to explore the cutting edge of technology, not just with the producers he handpicked, but also in his promotion of the collective's various multimedia side-projects--graphic design, sample packs, sound libraries, critically acclaimed plugins, and interactive art, even some constructed on massive scales.

But the music is ultimately what earned the label its cult fandom. The songs released on Enig'matik were disturbing explosions of creativity, filled with the bipolar moods and sinister experimentations of mad scientists. Production duo Circuit Bent went so far as to wear surgery masks and lab coats when they performed. Slurm from the label's compilation, Painting Pictures On Silence v2, is probably the best example of why, with its madcap vocal cuts squiggling together like worms packed tightly into containers and drenched in sulfuric acid. They make it as confrontational and devoid of harmony as they can, sharing their abrasive gestures with Berlin's Sensient. His track Focalise (from the first volume of Painting Pictures On Silence) tenses all of its muscles together but refuses to release over the course of its eight minutes, even as the veins begin to pop and blood cells start to clot. They were presenting the future as a maniacal sci-fi nightmare waiting for us to enter the void so that it could crush us 1984-style.

At the same time, many of the label's artists never allowed the desensitizing aspects of technology to steal away their sense of humor. There was plenty of fun to be had when Goosebumpz dropped some irresistible swing and funky bass on his debut EP Contact. I challenge you not to smile when you hear the wobble of the decade on Grouch and Hedflux's Reverse Entropy. And there's very few drum and bass builds and drops more ridiculous than the one that begins at the four-minute mark of Auma and Desiseq's Chute.

Even though Enig'matik Records has ended its run, it's given many budding artists an outlet to hone their production skills. The fact that they're now all too busy with their personal endeavors to contribute to Enig'matik anymore means that, at the very least, Rose accomplished one of his goals of jump-starting accomplished producers. Here's hoping that each artist continues to treat us to their unique explorations in sound over the years.

You can grab the entire Enig'matik discography over at the label's Bandcamp.
Grouch - Reverse Entropy (Hedflux Remix) [Enig'matik]
Grouch & Olie Bassweight - Entropath (Whitebear Remix)
Circuit Bent - Slurm (Original Mix) [Enig'matik]
Chris Komus - A Life All Pair Shaped (Original Mix)
Auma & Desiseq - Chute (Original Mix) [Enig'matik]
Goosebumpz - Venom (Original Mix) [Enig'matik]
Quanta - Create Culture (Original Mix) [Enig'matik]
Hypnagog - 3 Pounds of Jelly (Original Mix) [Enig'matik]
Auma - Here and Now (Original Mix) [Enig'matik]
Sensient - Focalise (Original Mix) [Enig'matik]
Desiseq - RetfirdKcab (Original Mix) [Enig'matik]
Jul 08

Bogtrotter Boggles Ears With ‘Catawompus’

Bogtrotter hails from Minneapolis, but it sounds more like he's emerged from a slimy test tube from an Area 51 laboratory. His trippy, drippy downtempo and menacing, experimental breaks have been leaving a soaked trail of grime and slop across Shanti Planti and Merkaba Music this past year. But his latest EP, Catawompus, has completed his evolution into a venomous, technologically powered force to be reckoned with.

The hi-fi detail and sheer relentlessness of these six tracks should make lovers of psychedelic sound design begin to count Bogtrotter among the best artists who take influence from the scene's unofficial godfather, Tipper. Cephalopod Shuffle shows this more than any of the other tracks, with delayed vocal cuts and goofy, digital tom bumbling recalling Tipper at his quirkiest. Ultimately though, all the playfulness can't neutralize just how sinister and frightening everything comes off. I haven't been this creeped out since I stumbled upon the bug tunnel scene of Temple of Doom as a kid.

On Cosmojig, buzzing mosquito-like noises and slurpy synths take turns sweeping around your head in stereo, while rapid clicks and pops keep everything rhythmic. Bogtrotter has a knack for juggling all sorts of different dizzying leads while still keeping everything tight and clean. On the other hand, he can achieve the same amount of command and power when he focuses all of his energy into a single beefy sound. If you close your eyes when the lightspeed stabbings arrive in the middle sections of Rhythms and Catawompus, you'll feel giant caterpillars crawling about and completely blanketing your face. But they wouldn't feel nearly as enveloping if Bogtrotter didn't clear out all of his other synths and carve out an enormous pocket for them to fully occupy your senses like he does here.

If you enjoyed playing with bugs when you were a kid, you can grab Catawompus over at Bogtrotter's Bandcamp.

Bogtrotter - Cosmojig (Original Mix) [Shanti Planti]
Bogtrotter - Catawompus (Original Mix) [Shanti Planti]
Bogtrotter - Rhythms (Original Mix) [Shanti Planti]
Jul 04

Tim Shiel Puts Up His ‘Time Shield’

You may not have heard of Australian producer Tim Shiel, but he's closer to your radar than you think. He's good friends with Gotye, and has become an essential part of his live show, helping to set up the mapping and controllers that allow the band to put on such an engaging performance. He's also created a series of quirky and eclectic electronic pop releases as Faux Pas, although those are mostly still unknown and underrated gems. But nothing that he's done before sounds quite as unique as his latest EP Time Shield.

Essentially one song split across five movements, these tracks sound like they could be leftovers from David Byrne and Brian Eno's My Life in The Bush of Ghosts. Shiel similarly obsesses over African percussion, found sounds, and hypnotic polyrhythms. Combine that with all of the arpeggiating synths and guitars, and you've got something swirling and repetitious enough to make you dizzy. Philip Glass would be proud.

The sequences themselves are somber and cinematic, but just when you're starting to feel sad, Shiel likes to throw in a humorous sample, like the 80s hip hop shout on Vincent Cassel, or the over-the-top hollers on 8pm Eternal. It's also pretty hard not to laugh at just how wonky Shippedmy is.

You can pay what you'd like for this spinning EP at Shiel's Bandcamp. Try your best not to lose your lunch, though.

Tim Shiel - 8pm Eternal (Original Mix)
Tim Shiel - Vincent Cassel (Original Mix)
Tim Shiel - Shippedmy (Original Mix)
Jun 25

Bassnectar Plays With Extremes On ‘Noise vs Beauty’

Bass-heads rejoice--Lorin Ashton, aka Bassnectar, has returned with Noise vs Beauty, another full-length album to add to his already massive discography of bass-heavy home runs.

You can tell that Ashton put a lot into this one. He took a six-month break from touring. He took a cue from Skrillex's last album and filled up a clown car with countless friends and producers to work with--Zion I, Fashawn, Rye Rye, Lafa Taylor, and many more. He even went so far as to provide individual liner notes for each and every song. In interviews, he speaks of the album with religious fervor, even framing it as a sort of concept album. He intends this to be his magnum opus, something that defines his career. So does it live up to his hopes?

The most distinctive feature of Noise vs Beauty is how sprawling it is, quickly veering from billboard-worthy hooks to bone-shattering bass. On one hand, Bassnectar has already made himself known for his eclecticism, mixing breakbeat, dubstep, trap, drum and bass, downtempo, glitch hop, and even electro pop within a single album. But even for him, Noise vs. Beauty is White Album status. He covers all the extremes and gives them all equal attention.

Right off the bat, he explores those extremes and pits some noise against beauty with the album opener F.U.N. The beauty comes from Seth Drake's symphonic arrangement, and the noise comes from the vertigo-inducing drops and razor blade bass that's as grimy as swamp scum. After that, it seems like noise takes control of the battle, with the insanity of Loco Ono making you understand what it might feel like to babysit Satan's youngest hell spawn for a night. The manic build hypnotizes before a filthy barrage of off-rhythm wobbles hits in the drop to remind you of Ashton's metal influences. Lost In The Crowd, Don't Hate The 808, and Noise all continue to pummel you into the ground with tight dosages of trap and evil G-funk synths, and if that's not enough aggression for you, just wait for the slamming drum and bass of Gnar.

But beauty fights back with You & Me, on which the spirit of Edge from U2 plays a gorgeous guitar riff over which W. Darling delivers her childlike vocals. A wall of sound and light erupts after the chorus, and the two main characters sit on a hill to hold hands Banksy style while the world meets its end with a nuclear hellfire of destructive square waves. And beauty might have the last laugh, because the one-two punch of Flash Back and So Butterfly (2014 Version) closes the album; the former finds Bassnectar in classic downtempo form, and the latter sparkles and glistens enough to wash away all the leftover filth from the earlier tracks.

There's a chance that Noise vs Beauty might divide fans because of how drastic the stylistic changes from track to track are. But Bassnectar has always hinted at this level of diversity, remixing everyone from Ellie Goulding to Gogol Bordello, and when you talk to Bassnectar followers, you'll quickly find that they're some of the most devoted fans in the electronic music world. They tend to be willing to follow Ashton wherever his mind leads, which I can imagine must be a very liberating feeling for him. The positive effect of that freedom shines here and is bound to only make his future albums even more interesting.

Diversify your collection, and grab Noise vs Beauty on Beatport

Bassnectar - Loco Ono (Original Mix) [Amorphus]
Bassnectar feat. W. Darling - You & Me (Original Mix) [Amorphus]
Bassnectar - So Butterfly (2014 Version) [Amorphus]
Jun 23

Lone Practices ‘Reality Testing’ On New Album

The ever-prolific Lone dropped his sixth LP Reality Testing June 16 after months of providing sneak peeks left and right.

Continuing the trend of 2012's Galaxy Garden, Reality Testing is obsessed with nostalgia. Lone gives a lot of attention to early '90s hip hop, and plenty of people will pigeonhole the new album into the J Dilla worshipper camp, especially after hearing 2 is 8 or Coincidences. But a whole host of '90s rave music gets referenced just as much--there's frantic jungle rhythms, skittering techno textures, breakbeat stops and starts, and a couple of straight house tracks, all compiled to make this yet another fun addition to Lone's already eclectic discography.

More than trying to replicate any specific genre, Lone just wants his music to sound old. Time and time again in interviews, Lone talks about how much he wants to use music to capture and relive memories. He opens up Reality Testing with static and then proceeds to sprinkle all of its songs with enough vintage dustiness, radio wave ringing, and vinyl crackle to make you think your speakers are reaching the end of their lifespan.

But what makes the dustiness more than just a tribute is the gorgeous contrast between it and Lone's choice of luminescent textures--twinkling, sparkling, fluorescent synths; jingling chimes, and spritely Rhodes pianos, all arpeggiating and swirling together in an otherworldly, sun-soaked daze. The intros and outros of each song make you feel like you're in one of the flying scenes of Waking Life, equipped with an old school Walkman playing early Boards of Canada songs.

The ghostly moans at the one-minute mark of Cutched Under will dissolve your body into star matter. Faint, disembodied voices in the background of Jaded make its already-mystical progression even more mysterious. Airglow Fires gets jazzy, but uses heavenly pads to keep itself from coming back down to earth. By the end of the album, you'll be pinching yourself and looking at your surroundings just to make sure you're not dreaming, which is pretty appropriate for an album named after the first step you have to take toward being able to lucid dream.

If you want to practice lucid dreaming yourself, grab the album over at Beatport.

Lone - Cutched Under (Original Mix) [R&S]
Lone - Jaded (Original Mix) [R&S]
Lone - Airglow Fires (Original Mix) [R&S]