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Telefon Tel Aviv

Dreams Are Not Enough

    The return of storied Southern Gothic electronic entity Telefon Tel Aviv is as unexpected as it is impressive. Their three influential albums of the 2000’s—Fahrenheit Fair Enough, Map Of What Is Effortless, and Immolate Yourself—charted an increasingly turbulent and textured vision of post-IDM synthetic songcraft, until the sudden passing of founding member Charlie Cooper in 2009 ceased the project, presumably forever.

    During the decade since, co-founder Josh Eustis has performed with, produced, mixed, and mastered countless artists, from high-profile institutions (Nine Inch Nails, Puscifer, Apparat) to underground fixtures (Belong, Vatican Shadow, Drab Majesty, Tropic Of Cancer), in addition to his own solo and collaborative work in Sons Of Magdalene and Second Woman. But years of reflection and processing gradually seeded in him a desire to revive TTA and venture a fourth full-length, in the spirit of what they started: Dreams Are Not Enough.

    From the shuddering software oscillations of the opening piece, “I dream of it often,” the classic Telefon palette of hyper-modern sound design and smoky nocturnal emotion feels vividly revitalized. The songs stand apart but belong together, threading a veiled narrative of loss, anger, and age—the crumbling of constancies, shifting sands slipping through the hourglass.

    The album’s fragmented track titles relate a recurring dream that’s haunted Eustis since childhood, based on a murky incident during a family vacation to a remote Alabama coastline when he was eight. In the dream he swims alone through the waves past the sandbar to where the ocean shelf abruptly drops away into a gradient of infinite darkness; awed, he peers into the depths and sees himself down at the bottom, mouth open and eyes blank, floating motionless like a corpse.

    An undercurrent of eerie melancholy flows through the album, manifested in shivering widescreen meditations, depressive twilit modern pop, and devotional industrial abstractions. Melodies emerge and evaporate; rhythms lock in step then fracture and fade; centers cannot hold.

    “A younger version of myself” deftly encapsulates the unique poignancy and shadowplay of this TTA iteration, shuffling on a hypnotic rhythm with the swing of backwards looping tape as Eustis croons a lost, liminal lament about waiting in line and the passing of time. “Standing at the bottom of the ocean” sinks even more minimal, subliminal electricity crossfading into skeletal soul built from ghostly bass, smeared chords, and naked voice, before ebbing away in a cyber-screwed downtempo outro.

    Eustis speaks of wanting Dreams Are Not Enough to evoke a sense of emptiness, of cutting unnecessary elements from each mix, to convey this as a solitary work—framing an absence. A document as much of what’s not there as what remains.


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Limited edition clear & gold splatter vinyl.

    For nearly a decade the story of Com Truise has relied on science fiction and abstract fact. Seth Haley’s singular style of melodic beat music subsists as hazy machinist nostalgia, a mainframe downloaded cosmology. Yet with each release, alongside sonic refinement, comes an increasingly visible vapor trail to Haley’s own ontology. His long-awaited 2017 LP "Iteration" brought to completion a conceptual space saga while also reflecting seismic life changes for the producer and designer. With this mini-LP "Persuasion System", Haley leaves the past narrative behind, settling into a new period marked by change - on this planet, in the present - putting forth his most grounded and visceral work to date.

    The project began as an experiment. Haley switched digital audio workstations, rebuilt his palette of sounds, and tasked himself with simply trying it out. The exercise freed him of expectations and permitted a process that echoed the tones of more immediate external environments. A gravity had seeped in; resulting material shifts between bleakness and sublime suspense, awe at the expanse of existing, in looking back and letting go. 'It’s a sort of sad smile and a wave goodbye but at the same time hello, a 'welcome to your life’ moment,' Haley says. Take the storm pattern sequence from “Gaussian” to “Ultrafiche of You”: a queasy, contemplative vignette rests on a single soft-synth cloud before the latter’s percussion ripples across the sky. With trademark stutters and swells, the composition conjures the sensation of searching in the afterglow. 'It’s a love song, and I don’t write many of those.'

    That duality: melancholy + optimism now permeates this widescreen collection. “Existence Schematic” takes flight at night, 'looking down at the landscape,' explains Haley, 'seeing the lights in a schematic sort of way, wondering who or what is looking back up at me wondering the same things I am, the impact of a single existence, the end, the beginning, where it’s gone and going.' These are observations from this existential "Persuasion System", and Haley hopes the music yields more, for others, that listeners may search for their own tension and release.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Martin says: Wide-screen, technicoloured synthwork from old faves Com Truise who usher forth a new age of optimism-thru-technology.

    Matthew Dear is a shapeshifter, oscillating seamlessly between DJ, dance-music producer, and experimental pop auteur. He is a founding artist on both Ghostly International and its dancefloor offshoot, Spectral Sound. He writes, produces, and mixes all of his work. He straddles multiple musical worlds and belongs to none, now nearly 20 years into his kaleidoscopic career, with five albums and two dozen EPs plus millions of miles in the rearview of his biography.

    Bunny is the name of Matthew Dear’s fifth album. His first since 2012, it bounces into plain sight preceded by two slyly different singles in 2017: the moody, urgent "Modafinil Blues” and the buoyant, blithe, Tegan and Sara-featuring “Bad Ones.” Bunny follows both modes, among others, parading down a rabbit hole of unhinged phrasings, dreams, and interludes. It saunters in the shadows; it stands brightly in the moonlight. Bunny is a dual vision of avant-pop; an artistic reckoning from a 21st-century polymath; persona splintered, paradox paraphrased, a riddle rendered.


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP Info: Very limited white splatter vinyl.

    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    Dabrye

    One / Three

      It was chance that brought about the release of One/Three, Dabrye’s debut album. Early demos were tucked on the B side of a cassette Tadd Mullinix passed to Sam Valenti in 2000 while working at the Dubplate Pressure record shop in Ann Arbor. Mullinix had spent the late ’90s producing jungle, techno, house, hip-hop and more using the All Sound Tracker software as a primary instrument. Each style pulled from a similar sound palette as Mullinix used limitations to define the contours of di erent musical personalities. Dabrye was his hip-hop wildstyle, a captivating collage of sparse instrumentals inspired by the laid back vibes of midwestern hip-hop and east coast boom bap, the futuristic funk of Umma-era Jay Dee, and the calculated subtlety of Detroit dance music. Released in 2001 as the first in an intended trilogy, One/Three announced Dabrye’s arrival with an unavoidable contribution to Detroit hip-hop. Ghostly International is reissuing the album in 2017 for the first time, including a long overdue vinyl edition.

      On its release One/Three was the rare album that appealed to both fans of Slum Village’s smooth yet rugged hip-hop and enthusiasts of the distinct American IDM released by labels like Schematic. Over the following decade, the inadvertent demo submission turned into a body of work that placed Dabrye alongside innovators such as Prefuse 73 amid the cannon of a new generation of producers. Today, One/Three remains a concise and intriguing study in instrumental hip-hop that helps join the dots between J Dilla and Flying Lotus.

      One/Three is a record that says much with little. There are no obvious hip-hop tropes. Instead Mullinix captures the ingenious minimalism of ’90s hip-hop instrumentals to build tracks both supple and hard, joyous and melancholy, full of sharply angled rhythms and warm rubbery basslines: ‘The Lish’ throws a sickly sweet saxophone against digitally fragmented melodies; ‘How Many Times (with this)’ draws you in with an irresistible, clipped guitar groove; the rhythmic stutter of ’Smoking The Edge’ makes your head spin with pleasure. Playing with his inspirations, Mullinix injects omitted downbeats for imagined rhymes and repurposes the intricacy of ragga jungle for breakdowns.

      But what really defines One/Three is the rhythmic sensibility and metric modulation of Detroit’s school of hip-hop production, which Mullinix was a fervent student of. The beats feel like they’re constantly escaping a rigid tempo grid even though they are, in fact, pretty tight. “A lot of it is nuance,” Mullinix explains. “I’ve been known to say that I’m not impressed by spectacle. I think that nuance is what really captivates people.”

      Since Scott Hansen's Tycho project's inception in 2004 with the release of 'Sunrise Projector' (later renamed 'Past Is Prologue' for it's reissues in 2006 and 2010), they have undertaken a wide range of melodic electronic miscellany. Centred around the trio of albums, 'Dive' 'Awake' and onto his latest offering, 'Epoch'. 

      Though they all mine the seam of anthemic electronic music, they have leant in slightly differing directions with regards their emotional pacing and melodic makeup. 'Dive' was very much a morning album, slowly growing into a breathing and optomistic mass through woozy synths and reticent percussion, forming themes through repetition and infinitesimal variations. 'Awake' was much more as the title suggests, a pinnacle of alertness, an effervescent and resplendent rising from the woozy haze of the first. 

      And onto Epoch. A culmination and combination of the previous two iterations, stylistically, and theoretically. 

      Opener 'Division' begins with a hazy crushed electric piano, and growing fade before cutting brutally into galloping toms, and that trademark Tycho bass sound. Not two minutes in and it becomes instantly recognisable, with sliding square wave synths swooning backwards and forwards along with the kinetic rhytmic backdrop. 'Horizon' has throbbing cosmic chord stabs and sidechained crisp saturated drum kit. 

      Pieces like 'Reciever' really move the posts of what has come before, embracing the dusky atmospheres of 'Dive' but with much more of a late-night feel, jazzy rhodes trills and throbbing ambience really lending their mystique before being given a firm but subtle bolstering by some uncharacteristically distant drums and shakers dragging the pace along. 

      Move on further and 'Division' is a complex and fascinating melting pot of instrumental rock, driving electronica and ambience, being based much more heavily upon guitars and rhythm before bringing in the synths in a stop-start cut-up. A brilliantly varied but completely natural progression, made all the more hard-hitting by the lack of crossovers, opting instead for a complete about-turn on more than one occasion. 

      'Epoch' is less about ambience setting the scene than on previous offerings, and much more based on Hansen's mastery of rhythmic foundations and celever melodic arrangement. Moreso than anything else Tycho have done, this is a bracing and rewarding journey, never jarring, but constantly evolving. A masterful culmination of concept and execution, and most of all a great listen. 

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Having been a fan of Tycho's work for some time now, I was wondering how this would come out, and I couldn't be any happier. A brilliant fusion of the unbelievable skill of the previous two albums, and a brilliantly executed continuation and expanding of the themes found on both. Darker, moodier and more uplifting and euphoric at the flick of a switch. Brilliant.


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