Solvent – Pattern Recognition (2015)

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New Ways: Music from the Documentary I Dream of Wires
Two part deluxe edition out August 14 on Ghostly International
Physical x2CD edition available from Suction Records (suctionrecords.com)

Suction Records is pleased to announce the release of Solvent’s sixth full-length LP, New Ways: Music From the Documentary I Dream of Wires. Solvent is the venerable recording alias of Toronto’s Jason Amm, and after more than a decade of releasing music through esteemed labels Ghostly International and Morr Music, New Ways marks the return of Solvent to his own Suction Records label, his first album for the label since 1999.

For the past 3 years, Solvent’s obsession with synthesizers and electronic music has taken him on a new path, a journey deep into the world of modular synthesizers. Serving as producer, co-writer and interviewer for I Dream of Wires, a documentary about the history, demise and resurgence of the modular synthesizer, Solvent’s Jason Amm has played a pivotal role in creating one of the most talked-about and revered electronic music documentaries in recent years. Currently making the rounds (on Blu-Ray/DVD) is the 4-hour Hardcore Edition cut, with the theatrical cut of I Dream of Wires set to premiere in the spring.

Before he came on board as producer, Solvent was commissioned by I Dream of Wires’ Director to create an original soundtrack for the film. At the time, Solvent’s relationship with modular synthesizers was conflicted. Of course, he had long been lured by these elusive, esoteric machines, but was also weary; he wondered if these instruments would be a step away from music making, towards a lifetime of expensive, obsessive tinkering. So many electronic musicians have fallen into the modular “black hole,” never to be heard from again…Solvent took on the soundtrack LP as a challenge; determined to expand his synthesis palette with the new possibilities of modular, but with a firm focus on completing a body of work. The result is New Ways, heard prominently throughout the film, and created, programmed and composed entirely on modular synthesizer systems. Through some generous loans, Solvent was given access to several large-format modulars during the course of the album, including a classic vintage Moog System 15. But the real revelation came from his own newly-acquired, contemporary Eurorack system; for the first time in many years, Solvent found himself thinking outside the “vintage synth” box.

The album title is not only a continuation of I Dream of Wires’ nod to Numan. New Ways also pertains to Solvent’s all-new modular synthesizer toolkit, introducing many new forms of synthesis to his arsenal of electronic sound. In many ways, the modular synthesizer caused an artistic reset, bringing Solvent’s sound full-circle; as on his late-90s Suction Records albums, New Ways doesn’t revel in the classicist synthpop motifs or vocoder-pop of Solvent’s Ghostly catalog, but instead on focusses on making strange sounds sing. New Waysis Solvent’s return to instrumental, headphone electronica. From the harsh, IDM/hiphop hybrid of Burn The Tables, to the Radiophonic menace of Sender, Solvent showcases the modular synthesizer as perhaps the ultimate tool for noisy, alien soundscapes. Alternately,Solvent’s penchant for sweet, heartbreaking melodies can be heard clearly alongside the intricate modular sound design on standout cutsKing Vincent, Pattern Recognition, and LPGs Over Hawaii. New Ways also includes I Dream of Wires’ theme song, Themogene, a soaring piece of epic synthesizer minimalism already heard by the 250,000+ people who have seen the documentary trailer to date.
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released 11 February 2014

Written and produced by Solvent (Jason Amm, SOCAN).

Wassermann – Eisen Mein Herz (2015)

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For TOTAL 15, the return of Wolfgang Voigt’s concept rave alter ego WASSERMANN certainly is one of the biggest showstoppers – his EISEN MEIN HERZ is an instant leftfield classic, coupling deconstructed text excerpts from Thomas Mann’s “Confessions of Felix Krull” with a vintage beat ‘n’ bass combo in all its raucous glory .

Helena Hauff – L’Homme Mort (2015)

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Helena Hauff will release her debut solo album via Werkdiscs/Ninja Tune on 4th September 2015. Titled Discreet Desires, it’s the most in depth summation of the Golden Pudel resident DJ’s improvised one-take machine-funk to date.

Making her recording debut just two years ago in 2013, Helena’s first release was a 3-track EP – Actio Reactio – on Actress’ Werkdiscs imprint. She has since partnered with PAN (as Black Sites alongside F#x), Lux Rec, Bunker sublabel Panzerkreuz and Texan cassette imprint Handmade Birds to share her overtly analogue excursions into techno’s shadowy fringes, improvised and recorded in her bedroom studio in Hamburg. Fully embracing her love of hardware, Helena joined James Dean Brown’s legendary electronic improv outfit Hypnobeat (founded back in 1983) in 2013, blazing a trail across Europe with their intense polyrhythmic jam sessions on the TB-303, TR-707 and TR-808.

“I have the feeling it’s more one-to-one – you do something and then the machine reacts. The machine has its own mind too, so it gives something back.”

Ten tracks deep, Discreet Desires is the embodiment of Helena’s deep-seated beliefs about music as a radical force and unifying movement. Something that is evident from her growing stature as a selector and her enthusiasm for musical subcultures from punk to nu wave, industrial, krautrock and avant garde electro – all of which were rooted in raw experimentation and existed in polar opposition to the perfect, polished mainstream.

“Perfection is pretty boring. It doesn’t really exist anyway… only in death. Death is perfect.”

Track taken from the album ‘Discreet Desires’, released 4th September 2015 via Werkdiscs / Ninja Tune.

Heathered Pearls – Abandoned Mall Utopia (2015)

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For Jakub Alexander, the languages of music and visual art are permanently intertwined. And he’s always been this way—from his birthplace in communist Poland, to growing up outside of Detroit, to his current home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. “When music like Gas, early Dial Records, and Mille Plateaux releases in the 2000s popped up in my headphones,” Alexander begins, “it was completely visual for me. Something clicked from collecting pages out of old Architectural Digest magazines and being completely overwhelmed with inspiration for my own visions of interior architecture.” The concept carries on still, now as an integral part of Body Complex, his second album as Heathered Pearls. Body Complex represents a new form of Alexander’s visually inspired sound creation, but just as it points to changes in direction for the ambient-inclined producer, it also revisits the past experiences that make his music possible.

Perhaps the most important era referenced in Body Complex is Alexander’s mid-teens, when he was a 15-year-old DJ going to raves with the older kids. Sure, the parties themselves were influential, but it’s the afterhours that resonate the strongest onBody Complex. “I remember those mornings better than the holidays during those years, the drives home from Detroit at 7AM were always stimulating. Everyone was so content, we’d usually listen to something deep and easy on the ears. This was a perfect time to let your mind wander.” It was also an opportunity for him to discover the likes of Terrence Dixon and Lawrence, artists who would eventually offer encouragement to Heathered Pearls as he moved into a new beat-centric sound. “I respect [Terrence Dixon and Lawrence] because they can ride the same thin lines of what I love: electronic music that is heavily repetitive, melodic, and deep. They both can find this elegance in techno beyond the dark warehouse.”

Body Complex doesn’t necessarily aspire to recreate the music of Alexander’s youth. But while taking inspiration from !K7’s classic audio-visual mix series, X-Mix, and early-aughts techno compilations, Heathered Pearls has moved himself closer to the dancefloor. “Loyal was these indirect, huge, heavy, slow ocean waves off in the distance at night,” he says of his beatless debut album, “and Body Complex is a stunningly bleak, uncharted landscape of man-made cement and artificial foliage.” Take a track like the desaturated “Sunken Living Area”, where flickering synths and chrome-plated drum patterns sketch out Alexander’s conceptual backdrop. You can almost envision the sounds as columns and plateaus protruding from a dusk-lit valley. “Personal Kiosk”, an exuberant ambient-techno highlight with The Sight Below (who also mixed and mastered Body Complex), might best represent everything Heathered Pearls brings to his second album: whorls of deep texture, abstract melodic drifts, elegiac beauty, and illusory dance music.

Of course, the artwork is another integral aspect of Body Complex, especially as it was conceived around an object designed by Alexander. “The shape came from wanting to create an imperfect sculpture that, from a distance, looks like a display piece,” he shares, “but when you get closer and you have more time with it, you see its flaws.” And that sort of ever-changing perspective reflects how the album itself can be heard differently in various contexts. Put on the Shigeto-featuring “Abandoned Mall Utopia” at home, and it’s a softly pulsing current of astral dust; put it on in a DJ set, and the music becomes a heady balm for the dancefloor. “You’re given this body and mind to build on, and everyone has their imperfections they don’t love,” Heathered Pearls explains in regards to the double meaning of his album title. Indeed, Body Complex is an elaborate expression of personal memories and visual metaphors as nuanced electronic music, and just like any fully realized body of work, it’s best understood from more than one vantage point.