“Here we have new music by an artist you may have heard but have never heard of, reason being the Austro-Balinese surf goth formally known as The Hands would now like to be referred to as Dully. Yes, Dully. The ESP Institute proudly presents his second oﬃcial release which can only be described as independent gothic technotic antipop. Enjoy!” –DJ Harvey.
Afrikan Sciences hold time in one hand and space in the other. This is his first offering for the ESP Institute. Side A’s 'Have It Tall' boasts the characteristics of an improvised jam session. Tipped-off in a theme of rapid-fire percussion and an innocent chord progression, each instrument ventures into its own loosely carved space, allowing squelching sporatic bursts of bassline, rhodes piano twinkles and a frenetic funky drummer pattern that haphazardly cuts in and out, to coexist without ever stepping on one another’s toes. The production is simultaneously aggressive and mesmerizing, bright cracking punctuations alternate with a fat rolling bottom end, all elements dry and present. On side B’s 'Daily Gates', things are a little slower to get rolling. Currents of swirling synth chords carry over from the previous side, but here we’re dragged across a long and thumping upright bass intro. The fabric of instrumentation casually weaves itself over a 5 minutes of liberally syncopated rimshots, hi-hats and snaps, before a guitar interjects with a triumphant and otherworldly melody, a brief shot of glowing optimism before returning us to a heavy cosmic slop. These two songs have built the end into the beginning.
STAFF COMMENTSMatt says: Decidedly future-focused and refined, modern dancefloor exotica here from technology purists Afrikan Sciences that'll appeal equally to fans of electro-acoustic luminaries Burnt Friedman & Jan Jelinek.
Benedikt Frey makes an anticipated return to the ESP Institute. After leisurely toying with themes around this fourth release with the label, which follows his 2017 debut album 'Artificial', a dense nihilistic fog seems to have enveloped his creative process and undoubtedly informed his frame of mind. The approach here is perhaps more minimal than the artist’s previous endeavors — reducing music to skeletal loops, allowing their character to develop and fluctuate over the course of each piece — a confidence that exemplifies an artist hitting their stride, but in no way does he rely on the trope of “less is more”. Whereas a minimalist embellishes the importance of elements through their isolation and negative space, Benedikt fills every facet with granular measures of sound and sifts them, in a cyclical motion, through his spectral arrangements. The title 'Cells' speaks to the unadulterated path from which Frey cultivates complex gestures utilizing limited means — stretching singular organisms to their furthest limits, breaching their brink of stability and inciting cancerous mutations — proving time and again his mastery of tonal nuance and fearless embrace of distortion. Each of these four songs deliver a despondent poetry, predominantly abstract, but occasionally complimented by verbal commands from dystopian futures, such as the blanketing repetitive chants in 'Interlinked' that conjure images of labor, assembly lines and infrastructural erosion, or the intercom punctuations throughout 'Substance B' that refer to the “world’s future” which, when juxtaposed over such dark melodies and gritty drums, allude to science fiction, Film Noir and a post-apocalyptic existence. As the winter approaches, the melancholy grows very real, and we swoon.
STAFF COMMENTSPatrick says: Benedikt Frey has been smashing it of late, producing one of my favourite 12"s of the year in typically low key fashion. Here he brings his dark, EBM tinged synth slap to ESP across four detailed club tracks. On the A-side, 'Interlinked' is abrasive and break-led, while 'Pilot' is slow, low and subby, keeping the tension high throughout. Flip it for the steely motorik groove of 'Substance B' and my personal favourite the 85BPM grind of 'Pedal To The Metal'.
Following Jaguar Mirror [c.2016] and Night School Of Universal Wisdom [c.2017], psychonaut Thunder Tillman and his personal shaman Pontus deliver another sublime EP, completing an illustrious trilogy with arguably their most expansive work to date, Condor Sunﬂower. The title track is emotionally overwhelming, a drum procession that carries a righteous battle hymn to epic heights, accumulating primitive instrumentation, ceremonial chants, emotive chord changes and Beach Boy harmonies before exiting on a tear-jerking coda. The intermediary track Sväva is just as vulnerable, a modestly-arranged and leisurely-paced lullaby, where angels coalesce with a droning organ and eventually unfurl into the warm glow of rapture. Before we hit rock bottom, Thunder and Pony halt the elevator, abandoning any sense of melancholy and climbing to new heights with Creation Discoteque, an 11-minute Prog beast that chronicles a myriad of their musical adventures. This retrospective of altered states does seem designed to drop the curtain on their meticulously-crafted narrative, but not without foreshadowing their future and throwing in an air-shaking rave-up that sprints toward the ﬁnish line. What we ﬁnd enviable, spanning 3 glorious Thunder Tillman EPs and short ﬁlms, is the duo’s creative simpatico, something that many artists in collaboration never truly behold. It’s not their joint musical intuition, their intrinsic understanding of one another’s craft, or even the power of their improvisational tether, but their spiritual alliance that nobody can touch. It’s as if they share a tandem bicycle ride on the highest plane of consciousness to lounge in the members-only spa where they telepathically discuss secrets of high-grade musical alchemy.
STAFF COMMENTSPatrick says: ESP's resident shaman Thunder TIllman switches into ayahuasca folk mode here with Condor Sunflower, a pastoral and proggy jam which could be Fleet Foxes, if they'd arrived on a spaceship rather than the Mayflower. "Sväva" is a super chill and transcendental, man as well be called Blaine brah and "Creation Discotheque" will play nicely with Amaringo, DJ Ground, Whodamanny and a drug addled Empire Of The Sun.
Greenvision is the collaborative brainchild of two ESP Institute artists, Juan Ramos and Luca Trentini AKA Trent, both longtime fixtures of Berlin’s infamous playground known as Cocktail d’Amore. Separately, these two explore their own very personal avenues of expression, putting their time in the trenches and endlessly polishing their works (this is Juan’s third release with the label), but when their efforts overlap we’re gifted a view into their uncanny synergy. Juan and Trent channel an exorbitant amount of smoke-fueled creativity, building layers upon layers into music so dense that the bulk of their studio time might then be spent navigating and formalizing their output into tangible tracks. Greenvison’s collective debut with the ESP Institute showcases three intense cerebral workouts, "Banana Paradiso", "Rambutan" and "The Color Of Maracuja", an array of experiments pulling from all the corners of the duo’s imagination - it is disorienting, cacophonous, introverted and psychedelic, but at the same time playful, melodic, euphoric and undoubtedly arresting - guaranteed to induce hallucinations under proper circumstances.
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