Author Archive

SLACKER: Start A New Life (GodLike & Electric)

David Abravanel on Mar 5th 2010 11:40 pm

Slacker: Start A New Life

Start A New Life
GodLike & Electric 2010
11 Tracks. 51mins49secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

We’ve now reached the point that should make anyone over the age of twenty one feel old – the nineties are being cannibalized for nostalgic purposes. Tape labels, Orbital and Pavement reuniting; these a but a few of the signs that that decade is are ancient history now, enough to be retro, and cherished as a memory of how good things were way back when.

Clearly, Shem McCauley is one such person. The story behind his comeback album under the Slacker moniker, Start A New Life, even reads like something from the nineties: tired of his shallow surroundings as a successful progressive house DJ (also producing as Head Honcho, and as part of the Ramp project with Simon Rogers), it was time for a soul-cleansing move to Thailand, where McCauley still resides and (no joke) teaches yoga. Continue Reading »

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KOUTARO FUKUI: Gently Touching The Conception (SEM Label)

David Abravanel on Feb 4th 2010 08:59 am

Koutaro Fukui: Gently Touching The Conception

Gently Touching The Conception
SEM Label 2009
03 Tracks. 44mins00secs

Koutari Fukui is a man of many hats – sometimes film music maker, label owner, commercial sound designer – but a full-time sound sculptor. Sculpture is the right visual metaphor for Gently Touching The Conception, as the three pieces contained within are stuttering, lush monoliths carved from slabs of ambient drone. At nearly twenty minutes in length, Gently starts off as a kind of tease, as Fukui debuts caustic samples of the clicks, scratches, and tones that build out the second half. It’s a bit of a rocky start, and liable to scare away first-time listeners, but allowing Fukui his indulgences yields the stunning progression of the piece. The tonal source material here sounds rather basic – airy squelches, sparse and distant piano, and a sine wave bass loop ambling along. The soundtrack to something contemplative and probably pretentious, surely, but Gently admirably never feels like its been prodded to unnecessary lengths. Continue Reading »

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SND: Atavism (Raster-Noton)

David Abravanel on Jun 15th 2009 05:27 pm

SND: Atavism

R-N 107
Raster-Noton 2009
16 Tracks. 62mins10secs

Icon: arrow SND | Raster-Noton
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Citing a dictionary definition is perhaps the most clichéd way to begin any kind of persuasive piece, but here I am and all I can think of are the reasons why SND have titled this record Atavism. So, here it goes: atavism: the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations.

Keeping in mind that such a title suggests a musical continuum, it’s initially puzzling to hear that this music is as polished and, there being no better descriptor, sanitary as it comes. There’s minimalism, and then there’s minimal techno/microhouse – frequently breaking its own rules for blasts of funk – and then there’s this, the Lysol-coated showroom countertop. By comparison, Monolake sounds like big band jazz. It’s not just that tracks repeat the same themes with small, gradually unfolding variation, nor that that any ostensibly tonal material tends to hit only at the same time as a percussive counterpart. Atavism retreats even further into its own system by using the same general palette of strictly-digital sounds across the entire record. Continue Reading »

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MAUXUAM: Viceversa (Interchill Records)

David Abravanel on Apr 27th 2009 09:32 pm

Mauxuam: Viceversa

Interchill Records 2008
10 Tracks. 73mins06secs

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The world is getting smaller: just ask an electronic musician. True, the concept of “world music” is nothing new, but attempts at harvesting non-Western musics in bite-size pieces for white people to listen to has generally been fraught with (un)intentional exotification and misappropriation of said musical cultures. Good intentions, certainly, but as the saying goes, there leads the path to hell; listen to any of the dime-a-dozen compilations with yawning beats over tambura loops from the mid-nineties and tell me I’m wrong.

The past few years have seen an upset in this formula for the positive, however, as increasing Internet speeds and ease of access to digital media has fostered a more universally collaborative global musical realm. Continue Reading »

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MARK PRITCHARD: ? / The Hologram (Ho Hum Records)

David Abravanel on Apr 14th 2009 10:01 pm

Mark Pritchard: ? / The Hologram

? / The Hologram
Ho Hum Records 2009
02 Tracks. 11mins23secs
Format: Digital

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Most electronic musicians have some kind of signature sound – a crunchy clap/snare hybrid, or an acid synth squelch, perhaps. It’s something to signify to listeners that, even if the tracks we’re hearing are from a new pseudonym, it’s still the same person behind the controls.

Not so with Mark Pritchard. A member of Global Communication, Jedi Knights, Harmonic 33, and his recent solo project Harmonic 313 (just to name a few), Pritchard is a true sonic chameleon. The mellotron-heavy noir-museum feel of Harmonic 33 signifies little that it’s the same person who’s behind the lush ambient house of Global Communication or Harmonic 313’s bassy tech-hop. ?, Pritchard’s latest single – this time released under his given name for a change – throws yet another curveball. Continue Reading »

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David Abravanel on Mar 12th 2009 11:01 pm


Guitarist and electronic manipulator Chris Willits is a pioneer and a teacher, exploring new methodologies for signal processing, while publicly sharing his techniques through the video series What You Talkin’ ‘Bout Willits? for XLR8R. The latest EP from Willits’ side project, Flossin, with Zach Hill from Hella, features a who’s who of experimental musicians, from Matmos to Strategy to Wobbly. Willits sat down with themilkfactory’s David Abravanel after a solo show at John Zorn’s New York performance space, The Stone, to discuss advances in music technology, what exactly ‘folding’ is, and whether or not ‘Flossin’ should have umlauts over the ‘o’. Continue Reading »

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THE SUBS: Subculture (Lektroluv)

David Abravanel on Mar 11th 2009 10:44 pm

The Subs: Subculture

Lektroluv 2009
09 Tracks. 47mins23secs

There’s plenty to debate about the current crop of brash electro-house acts. Anyone with an ear from sound has been in pain over the walloping overcompression on their albums (and come on guys, recognize the difference between headphones and a club already), and there’s the argument that this whole movement is all style and no substance, more concerned with donning the latest neon fashion atrocities than making something meant to last. Unfortunately, both these common critiques ring true in droves for Subculture, the debut full-length release from It-group The Subs.

To begin with, The Subs have certainly done their homework. Subculture or overflowing with hoover stabs and vocal rushes that attempt to recapture the energy of the early nineties, the last period of popularity for this kind of big, dumb raver fun. Continue Reading »

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SYNTHEME: Lasers ‘N’ Shit (Planet Mu)

David Abravanel on Mar 6th 2009 12:06 am

Syntheme: Lasers 'N' Shit

Lasers ‘N’ Shit
Planet Mu 2009
20 Tracks. 62mins46secs

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At this point, it’s become standard to assume that any new classic-sounding acid act is, in fact, Richard D. James in disguise. The online chatter about the true identity of Syntheme, coupled with the fact that the latest release under the moniker, Lasers ‘N’ Shit, is an engagingly funky course of acid disco, has done little to quell such suspicions. (And how about those track titles – Thraqqwa? Eqxq? More suggestive evidence). In all likelihood, however, Planet Mu is telling the truth in simply stating ‘Syntheme is Louise Wood from outta Brighton’. After all, this Louise Wood has performed live numerous times as Syntheme; RDJ never went so far as to hire actors to perform as The Tuss.

So, assuming that we’ve got the debut full-length form the 24-year-old Wood on our hands, let’s get down to business: this owns. Continue Reading »

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LITHOPS: Ye Viols! (Thrill Jockey)

David Abravanel on Feb 11th 2009 01:41 am

Lithops: Ye Viols!

Ye Viols!
Thrill Jockey 2009
11 Tracks. 45mins28secs

When done properly, live collaborations between visual and audio artists are something special, possessed of the irreplaceable energy of a multi-sensuous experience grabbing the participant. Divorced not only of its live setting, but further of its visual aid, it’s a gamble as to whether the music will be merit its own, isolated appreciation. Jan St. Werner, half of ever-evolving electronic duo Mouse On Mars, takes such a chance by releasing Ye Viols!, a collection of his solo works meant to soundtrack visual artworks, released under his Lithops moniker.

To begin with, Ye Viols! is more experimental than anything from Mouse On Mars. Think of Autechre’s drone-heavy collaborations with The Hafler Trio, then add some glitches and the occasional beat, and a bit more silence, and you’ll have a decent idea of what this record sounds like. Continue Reading »

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MELODIUM: Cerebro Spin (Audio Dregs)

David Abravanel on Jan 27th 2009 11:18 pm

Melodium: Cerebro Spin

Cerebro Spin
Audio Dregs 2008
11 Tracks. 50mins40secs

Melodium is too polite.  Laurent Girard, the man behind the moniker, is a master of gentle suggestion and microscopic whisps of mystery.  Girard consistently seems to be asking nicely for an audience, rather than demanding to be heard.  It’s a trite analogy, but like the budding of a rather colorful flower in the middle of a forest, the melodies of Melodium need to be sought out by listeners with patience, an ever-rarer trait in the current musical climate ridden with flash-in-the-blog din. Continue Reading »

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THE 2008 REVIEW: David Abravanel

David Abravanel on Dec 21st 2008 08:21 pm

The 2008 Review

My 2008 best-of list is one of the more eclectic I’ve assembled.  As usual, I owe much to themilkfactory writers and readers for introducing me to some delightful sounds, including Leila, Alexandre Navarro, and Minilogue.  Other factory favorites just missed the top 20 and bear honorable mention, including Ólafur Arnalds, AGF, and B12 and The Black Dog.

2008 was a good year for interesting surprises, from the hard data dots of Ryoji Ikeda to Hauschka’s gentle prepared-piano pieces.  A number of old favorites came through again as well, from Jamie Lidell’s soul-stomping Jim to Jason Pierce’s gorgeous meditations on Spiritualized’s Songs In A&E.  Perhaps the best story comes from Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who many-times-upped Radiohead by releasing The Slip, easily his best record since 1999’s The Fragile, for free, in a multitude of high-quality formats.  Rounding everything out are the playful albums, The Dream seeing the Orb return to silly form, and Supreme Balloon charting Matmos’ lush, synthesized excursions.  In the end, Italian producer Populous and his understated emotional pieces, with Doseone-esque vocals from Short Stories, takes number one.

Populous With Short Stories: Drawn Basic1.

Drawn In Basic
Morr Music

Header: line Continue Reading »

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GAISER: Blank Fade (M-nus Records)

David Abravanel on Nov 21st 2008 01:22 am

Gaiser: Blank Fade

Blank Fade
M-nus Records 2008
13 Tracks. 89mins15secs

2008 has been a landmark year for Minus, celebrating a ten year anniversary.  Started by Richie Hawtin as an outlet for his own projects, the label has come to embrace a small, focused clique of like-minded artists who plumb the dark (and sometimes sexy) depths of minimal techno.  Being honest, Gaiser’s productions have never grabbed me as much as label mates Heartthrob and False.  There’s a subtle, difficult difference between an expertly crafted minimal track, and a boring loop repeated for far too long.  Jon Gaiser (don’t the cool ones always have the neatest last names?) certainly had potential, and singles like Egress displayed a knack for funky rhythms, if not the most innovative of evolutionary track structures – a must for anything 4/4 and minimal.

Blank Fade sees Gaiser kicking it up a notch, and is one of the best full-length albums under the M-nus label, sitting comfortably alongside False’s techno speedway, 2007. Continue Reading »

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