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Dutch psych-musicians Jacco Gardner and Nic Mauskovic create a new take on no-wave, post-disco with their debut LP as Bruxas, Muscle Memory. It’s their third work for the Dekmantel label, following up earlier EPs Mas Profundo (2017) and Sirocco (2018). Immersing themselves in a world of bohemian synth, the duo experiment with vintage machines and cosmic effects, swimming in rhythmic grooves and psychedelic tones. It’s a style that reflects their respective musical backgrounds, and long partnership, one in which that has strengthened their collaborative, musical muscle memory.

After playing together in the revival tour for Zamrock band WITCH, Gardner and Mauskovic struck up a partnership centred around poolside antics, cocktail hours, and a mutual love for late-60s, German kosmische musik. Through their particular style of alchemy, the duo embarked on a quest crafting soundtracks to imaginary forgotten moments.

‘Cógelo, Rápido’ a disco-noire thriller, ‘Mountain Cruise’ playing on an upbeat Jodorowsky beat, while ‘Minitrip’ takes the listener through new, psychedelic planes of existence. Unsurprising then that there is a little bit of Patrick Cowley in this record. A pioneer whose own Muscle Music soundtracks also lent themselves to leftfield synth explorations.

Outside of Bruxas, Gardner and Mauskovic have both found success with their respective careers. Gardner, with his unique take on baroque pop, and Mauskovic with his rhythmic post-punk group solo-project The Mauskovic Dance Band. Together as Bruxas, they found a synergy full of youthful exuberance, that looks to recapture a vintage left-of-center, wave-scene feel. Recorded on a minimalist setup, Muscle Memory is full of such improvisation and psychedelic sound experimentation, proving that with time the subconscious can take over, creating patterns within music that the conscious mind would have otherwise been unable to perform. What one would call, true Muscle Memory. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Emily says: A marriage of squelchy Cowley-esque synthesis with slinky afro-latin grooves and dubbed out vocals. A tasty dose of Menergy best served with an ice cold spritz!

TRACK LISTING

1. Muscle Memory
2. Red Pillows
3. Bodywarmer
4. People
5. Cogelo, Rapido
6. Mountain Cruise
7. Minitrip
8. Crazy Spacey
9. Salt Water Pool

Following 2020’s debut album ‘Zoom’, upsammy returns to Dekmantel with a dualistic four-tracker called ‘Bend’, incorporating familiar sonic palettes and novel paths carved out in times of isolation.

Where Zoom channelled upsammy’s conceptual depth, Bend leans into artistic intuition, juxtaposing the floral and martial, propelling along her signature sound of textured electronica. Lilac chimes rise and fall along the melodic Flutter and Metallic, while the sinister creeps from Spat and Worm’s spacious cracks. All in all, Bend discloses upsammy’s versatility yet again, ever-shifting as the ambiguous modernity she continues to wander - an artist able to shift through the complexity of modernity with rare grace. Early support comes from Ben UFO, Lena Willikens, and CCL.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Flutter
A2. Spat
B1. Worm
B2. Metallic

Frits Wentink & Erik Madigan Heck

Safe Passage

It is often said that the best art comes out of adversity, and so it is that producer Frits Wentink, photographer Erik Madigan Heck and actress Tilda Swinton have collaborated on Safe Passage, a fascinating audio-visual project born out of loss. Consisting of classical, choral, and electronic music in three movements, the gatefold album presented with a 40 page booklet of additional photographs and paintings.
Dutch producer and renowned innovator Frits Wentink helms the Will & Ink and Bobby Donny labels, builds synthesizers and beautiful controllers, and puts out always experimental, left of centre house music that pushes at the boundaries. This project initially started out as him attempting to musically illustrate the photography of American visual artist Erik Madigan Heck. The internationally renowned Heck is known for a lavish and experimental use of colour that has won him the prestigious International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award as well as make him a regular contributor to high profile media such as The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Harper’s Bazaar.

Midway through the project, Eriks mother was hospitalised due to breast cancer complications before also contracting Covid-19. By her bedsides and as a means to ease her passage, he repetitively played the first portion of the score, and then, once she passed, he decided to commemorate the music's function as a soundtrack for her transition to afterlife by naming it Safe Passage. The involvement of Academy Award–winning Scottish actress Tilda Swinton has lent the music an extra dimension of spirituality: throughout the album, she interjects whispered fragments of Heck’s poetry, blurring the lines between one phase of music and the next.

The music has three movements across two sides: Side A, Safe, has a sense of hope and reflection as it undulates from minimalist string and brass arrangements to ambient and dissonant classical piano. Side B, Passage, then depicts the start of the transition into the afterlife as the voices of a choral madrigal ensemble gradually diverge, then break down entirely before a grand tonal expansion leads into a frenzied crescendo of choral vocals, hardened dub techno and anxious rhythms that convey the violence of the soul’s exit from this world. Finally, a cathartic Epilogue resets and bids farewell with the gentle sounds of a piano.

Because of the global on-going loss of life as a result of Covid-19, Safe Passage has become a soundtrack in which many people will find solace as they remember the sad transitions made from this life to the next during this unprecedented time in history.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Movement 1
B1. Movement 2
B2. Movement 3

Profondo Nero compiled by Cinema Royale

Profondo Nero narrates a storyline that goes beyond the borders of Italy’s musical legacy. Cutting across the face of Italo disco’s leftfield musicians between the early and late ‘80s, Profondo Nero champions a multi-faceted sound that nods to the blueprint of Italo disco but tries to dig deeper. The music is unmistakably Italo disco but moves away from the familiar classic sound. Amsterdam based collector Cinema Royale stitches together eleven tracks from 1983 – 1989, celebrating a sound he fittingly describes as ‘leftfield Italo’.

The compilation connects the dots between soulful disco (Louise Freeman – Mirage), synth-pop (Mark – Dreamland), electro-rap (Loukas Thanos – Jazzburger), breaks (Santoro – Lover Message), 80s dub disco (Jet Set – Love Break), Balearic (Isamar & Compañia ‎- No Estas), boogie (Tom Hooker – Talk With Your Body) and proto-house (International Music System - An English ’93).

Profondo Nero’s title salutes the legendary oeuvre of Italian horror director Dario Argento. His Profondo Rosso (1975) is a classic example of exquisite cinematic storytelling, boasting courageous colors, expressionist camera angles and an unforgettable Goblin score forming the ingredients for an intriguing piece of art. Profondo Rosso’s music, created the spark for a new Dekmantel Records endeavor led by Amsterdam based experimental film score connoisseur, record collector and DJ Cinema Royale.

For those in the know of underground Amsterdam music culture, Arne Visser aka Cinema Royale is among the city’s longest standing record collectors. Born to an Italian mother and Dutch father, Arne was brought up on a diet of Italo disco in the 80s. Cinema Royale explains: ‘For Profondo Nero I took a plunge into the lesser known fringes of Italo disco. From there I tried to connect, among others, San Francisco boogie, Balearic, Japanese late era Italo-electro and synth-pop funk. I hope you can hear what I had in mind: an infectious showcase of my take on traditional Italo disco that will hopefully get a lot of listeners itching for a spin. It’s fair to say that lately this particular sound has seen a reappraisal and renewed interest.

As a party-starting collection for entry-level connoisseurs or suave but lazy types, I hope Profondo Nero can be an education. I’m not claiming I’m the first DJ or collector to do so, but I did try do present something special by digging deep.’ It wasn’t my goal to unearth the most obscure tracks, instead I wanted to compose a compilation that takes you on a journey.
‘In my opinion the best DJs create something extraordinary out of illogical selections by combining music against all odds and showing different kind of moods along the way. There’s a certain amount of arrogance involved: you take the music out of its original context. But by doing so in a very conscious way, you might be able to enhance the power of the individual records. Hopefully each song on Profondo Nero provides an intimate and memorable experience.’

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: All manner of deep and dope cuts on this Dekmantel comp, digging deeper into the sounds of the Italian clubs than your usual Italo comp. There's lots to love on here, but it's probably worth the entry fee for the I.M.S. and Tom Hooker alone.

TRACK LISTING

1. Louise Freeman - Mirage
2. Mark - Dreamland
3. Loukas Thanos - Jazzburger
4. Galvanica - Nightlights In Japan
5. Santoro - Lover Message
6. Robert Sandrini - Occhi Su Di Me
7. Silvia Dheve - Night Ranger
8. Isamar & Compania - No Esta
9. Jet Set - Love Break
10. Tom Hooker - Talk With Your Body (instrumental)
11. IMS - An English 93

For Dekmantel Festival 2019, The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s RE:VIVE initiative and Dekmantel teamed up for the third time to invite four artists to bring fresh music to a curation of Dutch archival films. As debuted live in Amsterdam’s Eye Filmmuseum, 2019 featured new scores from Safe Trip eclectic left-of-centre DJ / producer, Max Abysmal, 80s pastiche, keyboard wizard duo, Lamellen, Italian contemporary composer and saxophonist, Laura Agnusdei and heavy-hitter, Identified Patient. 2019’s films were as diverse as the invited artists. Three of the films come Academy Award winning Dutch producer, Nico Crama whose collection is held by The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision while Comeback (Poppenfilm) was made by amateur Dutch filmmaker, Otto Laan.


TRACK LISTING

A1. Identified Patient - Comeback
A2. Max Abysmal - Quod Libet
B1. Lamellen - De Stuiter
B2. Laura Agnusdei - Fuga

Nerve Deposit is the new EP from Identified Patient on Dekmantel’s sub-label UFO. The record is a lysergic stew of industrial, electro, breakbeat hardcore and synth-rock, with the purpose to get under your skin and set your nerves tingling. While extending his signature sound, the Dutch producer upgrades his process and marshals a new complexity from his machines. The result is five tracks which stalk shadowy hallways but never lean too far into the darkness, at once menacing and lively. With a laboratory’s worth of sleazy synths, bubbling effects, raking textures, plunging bass and rhythmic left-turns, Nerve Deposit suggests we are in the court of a Professor, not a Patient. Tantalisingly, the best feels yet to come.

TRACK LISTING

Low Kust
Secretary
Lust Mountain
Visualize It
Territory Doubt

The second edition of Dekmantel’s foray into the era-defining, trans-Atlantic, cult techno label that is Djax-Up-Beats, comes another re-issue of classic 90s cuts.

The label say 'The Dutch label was responsible for releasing some of underground’s most foundational dance music, mixing together Chicago and European artists alike, and acting as the launchpad for some of today’s biggest producers. Featuring offerings from luminaries such as Felix Da Housecat, and Glenn Underground, alongside veterans such as Steve Poindexter, and DJ Skull, this second EP highlights the classic label’s old-school’s sound, while showcasing its diverse range, from dubbier, ambient moments, to wall-thumping, body crushing house force. Timeless music, repressed, and re-released for a new generation of DJs who covet the classic machine music.'

This second volume offers a more introspective look at the label’s earlier releases. Terrace’s "Bewitched" kicks us off, to which DJ Richard has described as being the defining track of the label’s beginnings with its dreamy, Detroit-style techno mixed with the harder rave elements of Northern Europe. Glenn Underground’s bass-roller "Real Space" weaves together soulful passion and primo beats Chicago beats, while Felix Da Housecat’s "Temptation" - originally from 1993 - gets a well earned re-release, reminding us of the soulful, deep and lustful energy the producer once had. China White, whose name doesn’t get banded around as much as it should nowadays, see their ethereal hit "Theme from the Underground" get another opportunity to bliss out the more upbeat rave community before disc one comes to a close...

The energy turns darker with Frank de Groodt’s The Operator alias, breaking the outer-most barriers of electro-techno, with "The Mind Strike". Chicago and Dance Mania’s Steve Poindexter turns out the shoulder-rolling, dance-energy bomb "Body Jam", while Mike Dearborn’s deliverance of unreal, dry techno in "Deviant Behaviour" runs aplomb with classic drum-machine pulses, claps, and uncomfortable, yet punishing melodies. DJ Skull’s "Don’t Stop The Beat" rides the EP with gushings of hand claps, and gentle, early 90s warm techno color, that transport you back to a time of more informed, and conscious electronic musings, a feeling that embodies Djax’s heyday.

Founded in Eindhoven at the turn of the 90s, Djax-Up-Beats quickly earned an international reputation for being a key source of Chicago house, acid techno, and floor-filling, heavy-hitting, straight up underground 12”s. 


TRACK LISTING

Terrace - Bewitched
Glenn Underground - Real Space
Felix Da Housecat - Temptation (Color Mix)
China White - Theme From The Underground
The Operator - The Mind Strike
Steve Poindexter - Body Jam
Mike Dearborn - Deviant Behaviour (Instrumental Mix)
DJ Skull - Don't Stop The Beat

Bufiman

Peace Moves - Inc. DJ Normal 4 Remix

    Piccadilly favourite, video game fanatic and former breakdance champ Jan Schulte makes his Dekmantel debut with "Peace Moves", an EP of percussive soul, that captures the Salon Des Amateurs resident in full, tribal swing. Blasting out the A-side with tough body moving breaks, rasping vocal idents and skewed synth riffery, the main mix of "Peace Moves" harnesses the 5 a.m. insanity of a mushroom fuelled romp, deploying a Tri Atma style 12 string riff to totally trip the hippie dancers out. Breakbeat king and previous collaborator DJ Normal drops by on the A2, taking the intensity up a notch with a 'back to the oldschool', 'carpark in North Manchester', 'pocket full of pingers' 'ardcore mix complete with nagging bass, synth strings and more energy than a whizzed up all nighter at R&S HQ, 1993. Over on the flip, Bufi brings the euphoria with a medicated, manipulated dream-house flip on "Peace Moves", infusing the OG with doped up sequences and sultry incense tinged pads. Saving my personal favourite til last, Jan hits us with "Graffiti Moves", a kaleidoscopic vision of cut up funk breaks, tribal percussion, ring modulated leadlines and well wonky fx abuse. Expect to hear this on the Talking Drums dancefloor very soon.

    Now for a trip into an impossible land, generated on a hacked copy of Populous, wrought out of melting circuitry and bootlegged YMO LPs, projected on early green screen and filled with failed CGI from the Waterworld era. Panagiotis Melidis and Stathis Kalatzis are Territroy, the newest member of the Dekmantel family, and the creative insanity behind the newest UFO release, "Skulls & Plants". Now, I don't recall taking a massive dose of 4-AcO this morning with my cornflakes, but that may well have happened, as this is one trippy listen. At various points EBM, tropical house, machine voodoo and shamanic breaks are twisted, warped and frazzled, all achieving the demented sound signature of this lunatic Grecian duo. Rhythms collapse, stutter skip and slur, crispy distortion coats otherwise healthy melodies and oddly exotic idents flutter across the landscape, though you could never be certain they were there. Highly psychoactive electronics and primal rhythms for fans of Helena Hauff, Detlef, Lena Willikens and the Silk Road.


    TRACK LISTING

    Delirium Vivens
    Wax Smiles
    Non Sayers
    Sleeping Fury
    Instar
    Upside Down Sinner
    I Meant You, Not You
    Their Menads
    Bold Like A New Sun (Ft. Olympia)
    Prosopagnosia

    Randomer

    Slicing

      UK DJ and producer Rohan Walder, aka Randomer furthers his exploration into deep, spatial techno on Dekmantel’s UFO imprint. Fusing together two-step rhythms, cavernous beats, distortion, layered kicks, and an attentive detail to sound design, Randomer delivers an uncompromising array of abstract and destructive techno tracks.

      Randomer’s approach to techno has always maintained a bassier, obtuse approach to sound, with polyrhythmic beats that have helped set his sonic identity apart from his peers. Having released the "Running Dry EP" on DKMNTL UFO in 2016, Randomer is firmly establishing himself as one of the label’s favourite artists, with a resounding appearance at the Dekmantel festival in São Paulo, and a prime slot awaiting for him in the UFO tent at this year’s festival in Amsterdam (happenin' this very weekend! - ed)

      Kicking off with "Van Pelt", which skips along at just over 130bmp and textured with kicks that sound like two robust, metal dumpsters being hit together. Littered in the background are gongs, random percussive sounds, and something very alien, making it the perfect track for the UFO tent. "Shadow Harp" is quintessential UK techno, with yet more thudding, dark-kicks layered against a syncopated plucked and jarring bass. Birmingham would be proud! "Dissolve" drips and oozes with a sunken undercurrent of dystopic-melancholy, driving in ruptured reverb with a tribal percussive foundation. Final track "Slicing" dares to take things a little further, as the rounded-hollow kicks punctuate against more metallic, and analogue sounds - like a war of machines, set to a rhythm of abstract, free-flowing gust of techno cuts. Throughout the four-tracks, Randomer showcases his innate ability to excite and surprise with dynamism, and cutting sounds, with a technique that has been well-honed throughout the years. As he stated in an interview with Resident Advisor in 2016; 'Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.'



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