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Review: Plaster – Transition (2018)

I've been a longtime fan of Plaster's work: it's usually dark and brooding with a harsh industrial edge that I really like. The occasional times when light breaks into the gloom benefit from still having an edge to their treatment. Here are some examples that show what I mean: Component and Intersection from Platforms (2011).

When he announced that there would be another release in 2018, I was pretty stoked. Expectations were high, and I was not disappointed. However, I was certainly surprised. While not all previous Plaster releases that I have heard have beats, most of them do. Transition is an entirely beatless affair, and that caught me totally off guard. I like it when an artist is able to challenge my idea of what their music is like, and succeed. It also makes more use of melody than much of Plaster's previous work. It's not that melody was never used, but it was not common.

In order to give the reader a broader idea of the change this release represents, I&…
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Sometime around 2011, I bumped into Waveform Transmission's "V1.0-V1.9" release, which is a really interesting Dark Ambient album. It's quite obscure and hard-to-find, so I found a download on an obscure music blog in order to listen to the whole thing before trying to hunt down a CD to buy. Rod Modell worked on that, and when I hunted for his other stuff, I first found Dub Techno. Going back to the music blog, the author had just posted that he was listening to some quality Dub Techno by Ohrwert, called "Yesteryear".

This was my first introduction to the musical world of Arjen Schat, a composer from the Netherlands who works in several different genres of electronic music. Over the years since finding his music, I've been quite interested to see how his styles have evolved. Recently I felt I had enough understanding to do an interview with him to get some inside information on how he works. He was kind enough to answer my questions; many thanks to him …

Track Analysis: Mikrokristal & Echo Delta – Summer Rain (2015)

A while back, a netlabel whose music I like to listen to mailed me to say there was this release:

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It starts with something that is pretty common in music that includes field recordings: 30 seconds of rain. It sets the mood well for what is to come. The type of rain in the recording and the first hints of percussion suggest light summer rain, as opposed to a deluge.

The first two synth elements to arrive are in minor key, and continue the gentle nature of the sounds. The first is a little sharper, the second has a cleaner and more rounded sound. Already there's a nice mix of sound types, and that variety continues as it goes.

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Around 1:30 the rain is fading out, as yet another synth element is added to the mix. This one is a harmonic …

Review: Mingle – Ephemeral (2017)

I found this album because it was recommended by Plaster ( on Facebook, as it's composed by someone he knows. I feel pretty lucky about that; I'm not sure how I would have come across this otherwise!

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A bunch of electronic EPs

In the various worlds of the different kinds of Techno, EPs are common. 2-4 track mini-albums that the artist felt was a compelete set for whatever unknown reason. It's hard to write a complete review of these small packs of music, but I feel several of them are worthy of attention. So I'll list several here with brief comments about why I think they're good. They're in reverse alphabetical order; no ranking is intended.

Yernesto - In Too Deep (Dub Techno)

Dub Techno rides a line between Techno and Dub, and there's a certain sweet spot that I really like. I prefer no vocal samples, and few to no Roland 909 ( samples. The 909 has been ubiquitous in popular music since its introduction in 1983, and I'm just tired of hearing those sounds over and over.

Yernesto's release "In Too Deep" hits all the right buttons for me to like it. Deep grooves, …

Review: Optical Frameworks – Vertigo (2014)

Vertigo by Optical Frameworks is a quiet Dub Techno record that gives me the strangest feeling that it's been in my collection for 20 years. I don't know why I get this sense of familiarity and nostalgia when I play it; this isn't something I've experienced before. I love this strange sense it gives me every time I hear it. This is the work of one Martin Dlabaja, whose artist page lists the Czech Republic as his place of origin.

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In the early 90s, I discovered that there were certain threads in the Hip Hop world that I liked. Eric B & Rakim, Ice T, Method Man (well, the first album anyway), and some others. As the genre drifted further into the mainstream, I found I liked less of it, and have been away from that universe for quite some time. Maybe my problem was just that I didn't know where to look. At any rate, DJ Storm has released a collection of tracks that recall that era in Hip Hop, while maintaining a more modern sound in terms of its recording engineering.

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From the first track, "Back", we have a good sense o…