Music: Roly Porter – Third Law (Triangle Records, 2016)

Back in late 2015, Bristol based composer Roly Porter released his first piece of new music since is briliant last output “Life Cycle of a Massive Star” from 2013. Porter was one half of dub tech/industrial duo Vex’d. Since his first solo records Porter enters a more experimantal style in his music. It has definitely a lot of sub-bass and modern classical elements in it. Some people call it simple Dark-Ambient.

Porters new one could be his heaviest by now. This observation already takes place on the first track of “Third Law”. “4101” could be easily on the latest Haxan Cloak record. Heavy, dark and totally frightening! On “Third Law” Porter works more with switching elements like on his last one. Some parts are very loud and heavy and others are more quiet and spooky. This leds to an interesting journey. From the punishment of “Mass” and “Departure Stage” to the lumbering cacophony of “Blind Blackening.” This kind of music was created for good headphones! “Third Law” is intensive and frightened at the same time. It could be also a fantastic soundtrack for the next alien movie. “Third Law” trades emotion for physical power and presence. Porter combined on the new one the aggression of his early materials into the maturity and otherworldliness of his solo work, and the result is definitely astonishing. One of the years top list records in 2016!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Movie: Star Wars – The Force Awakens (Episode VII, Lucas Film 2015)

We all know these kind of words: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”. The beginning of each Star Wars chapter. It’s a while since we read these lines. After the sale of Lucas Film to Disney at the end of 2012 they also announced a new Star Wars triology started in 2015. The news generate a massive hype for this new Star Wars chapture. But there are also critical statements about the Disney deal.

Does it looks like Episode I-III? If we look at the tickets and merchandise sales for the prequels they were definitly a success. The critics for Episode I-III drawn another picture. If you look at IMDB you know what I mean. As a fan of the old triology IV – VI you don’t like the massive CGI effects and the comedy elemets of the prequels. In january 2013 Disney announced that JJ Abrahams produced the new Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens”. Abrahams also produced Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. Is he the right one to re-boot this famous brand? I don’t remind any other movie that produced a hype ahead of it’s release like this one. Since Disney showed the first teaser in 2014 it was 100 million times re-watched. The pressure and high expectations to “The Force Awakens” were massive. To massive?

With Star Wars “The Force Awakens” we’ve got new main actors Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) and also old known heros like Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). The new actors takes a central part of the movie. We started with Rey: Rey, played by Daisy Ridley is a scrap collector on Jakku. She earned her subsistence with the collect of spare parts from old space ships. She lives on Jakku and count the days until her family comes back. I’m definitly a fan of the acting from Daisy Ridley. She makes a great job about expressions and feelings for her new role as Ray. The second main actor is Finn played by John Boyega. He was trained to be a Stormtrooper. On his first fight, that’s the opening scene of the movie, he decides that he don’t want to kill for the First Order. The First Order is the succession of the Empire. The movie acts round about 30 years after “The return of the Jedi” (Episode VI) and describes the rise of the First Order with leader Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren is looking for a map with the exact resistance of Luce Skywalker – the last existed Jedi. At the beginning of the film – Pilot Poe Dameron acted by Oscar Isaac gives the information to a droid called BB8 to hide the resistance in front of Kylo Ren. That’s how the story for Episode IIV starts. For me, the story in Episode IIV is one of the main issues. It looks like a re-boot from Episode IV “A New Hope”. Here are some examples: The opposition have plans and doesn’t want that the First Order / Empire takes it – Rey’s adventure starts on a desert planet, like Luke’s and Anakin’s does – Han Solo is again in smuggler troubles – The Empire / First Order creates s ultimate weapon called Death Star / Star Killer Base – The new weapon has one initial weak spot – A new Father / Son story between Han Solo and Kylo Ren (Ben) like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. There are many others but these are the flashy ones. The movie also have some logical issues like the scene with the bounded Ray and the usage of the force for the first time. But that isn’t very bad – it’s still a science fiction movie, so no one expected a realistic one. And humor? Don’t get me wrong, Star Wars was never a comedy movie but it has these elemets of great jokes and cool sayings. On this Episode the jokes weren’t terrible at all but it looks a little bit inflated. On the other hand there are also some great points for “The Force Awakens”. For me, the first part of the movie in general. The introduction of the First Order / Kylo Ren and Ray on Jakku. The look and feel of the new Episode. It looks more like a classic Star Wars Episode. Less CGI effects, more original costumes and realistic places. It looks great. Another good thing: The old main cast and space ships. It was a nice moment when the camara shows the old Millenium Falcon once again in action. And yes, Han Solo and Chewbacca are home. These points are very important and helps the movie to skip some weak moments.

If you look this movie as a fan of the old episodes (like me) you can pick some great moments. On the other hand this episode will never be a classic one because the movie isn’t independently enough to bring you back in 1977. If you only want to watch a si-fi movie with a high entertainment value you are definitly in the right place. The thing is, it’s not possible to connect all supporters from the prequals and the old triology. That’s one problem of “The Force Awakens”. The other one is his missing own identity. For me it’s not a bad movie and I have a great time in cinema, but I expact more from a Star Wars movie. My hopes are not gone with Episode IIV but I expect more with Episode VIII. And there are some open questions!

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Music: Anthony Naples – Body Pill (TEXT Records, 2015)

Anthony Naples is a musician and producer currently based in Berlin. His music is often described as a raw and left field mixture of House and electronic music. His debut release “Mad Disrespect” was an underground succes and in the early months of 2013, three 12″ were released in quick succession – most notably a slightly abstract four-track EP on The Trilogy Tapes imprint.

I became aware of Naples in a DJ Set from Four Tet. It was his Ray Ban Boiler Room set from last year. He played the track “Perro” an simple but hypnotic house track. A couple days later he uploaded the set on soundcloud but there was no signal about a detailed tracklist. There were also many requests about the tracklist but no words about the played tracks. There were also 1-2 months passed away until a still twitter announcement by Four Tet. In this post he announced the track id and the upcoming ep by Anthony Naples. At the beginning of 2015 Naples released his debut album on Four Tet’s label TEXT Records. “Body Pill” was a rough pice of house music with a litte touch of ambiente. Not that kind of typically club house music. It is definitly more experimental and you need a little time to get into it. It’s a short pice of music the album runtime is about 30 minutes but there is a good variant of tracks. Maybe his debut is not quite as good as his past ep’s but it is still a great record. In my opinion this producer is just in the early stages, so we will see what comes next by him. Until then you can listen to one of his greatest tracks below “Perro”.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

First Spin: Rafael Anton Irisarri

I have never heard before about Rafael Anton Irisarri. Irisarri is an American composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer, interdisciplinary artist and curator. His music is similar to artists like Tim Hecker and Lawrence English. It’s a kind of ambient and drone music. Very unique and very special!

On October 23 he will released his new album called “A Fragile Geography” on Room 40. I’m getting the tip by a good friend of mine! He shared the first track of the record on facebook. Thanks for that! Resident Advisor wrote a view words about the record: “A Fragile Geography was two years in the making, and marks a difficult in transitional period in the American producer’s life. Not only did he move from Seattle, where he was a staple of the local electronic music scene, to upstate New York, but he was robbed in the process and lost almost all of his gear. The record is also said to reflect “the tensions of contemporary America, contrasting passages of great beauty and calm with harrowing waves of density and pressure.” As with past records under Irisarri’s given name, A Fragile Geography will come via Australian experimental imprint Room40.“ Below you can hear the track “Empire Systems”. What a massive drone tune, can’t wait to listen to the whole record..!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Music: Four Tet – Morning / Evening (TEXT Records, 2015)

Kieran Hebden is a very busy men these days. He works as a producer for his long time colleague Jamie XX and for his first solo record “In Colour”. He also plays extended DJ sets on festivals around the world (Dekmantel, Boiler Room…). For his second music project called Percussions (more club oriented like Four Tet) he also releases new tracks in the last months. Now he is back with a new main release as Four Tet.

It’s his first release on the independet online music store bandcamp. There was no press hype and no marketing campaign for the new record. The new record Morning / Evening is very different from his latest releases. It only has 2 tracks with a playtime of 20 minutes for each one. That’s one thing. The other thing is the music himself. On Morning / Evening Kieran goes back to his roots. Hebden is half-Indian on his mother’s side and for the first time, he says, his music finds him considering his roots. And these influences you can listen to just from the beginning of the record. It sounds a lot like a Bollywood record from Side A (Morning Side). And that’s very difficult to get into it. But don’t get me wrong it is not terrible but it’s miles ahed from his latest releases. The second track (Evening Side) has another feeling but also these Boolywood elements in it. But this track has a great gain in intensity. The last third was amazing – these percussions are great – Kieran Hebden at his best! In my opinion it’s not his best record and miles away from his master pice “There Is Love In You” (Dominio, 2010) but with the new release he explores a new format. I’m not sure if his music is ready for these long tracks but we will see what comes next.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

TV Show: Sherlock (BBC One, Season I – III)

The old detective stories from Sherlock Holmes and his colleague Dr. Watson were often filmed in the past. There are two newer movies by Guy Ritchie with Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. John Watson. But one of the main differences between the movies and the new tv show is the time period. While the movies represented the original time era from writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the new BBC TV Show plays in the modern times of London.

This scenario brings a lot of new possibilities for the stories of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Another difference is the format. Normally a TV Show episode provides a length of 40-60 minutes but the Sherlock episodes has the lengh of a feature film (90 minutes). I would like to introduce just the basics of the show and avoid some spoilers. The main actors will be played by Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness, The Imitation Game) as Sherlock and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, Fargo) as Dr. John Watson.

At the beginning of the series the main characters set up a commune in london city. The new home of both, the traditional 221b Baker Street. The stories are mainly based on the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with a modern touch. At the beginning of the show they introduced the main characters. Holmes a intelligent young man with the ability to known things much earlier then his colleagues and Dr. Watson an old war veteran with a trauma. The great strengh about Sherlock is the interaction between the main characters. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman interact perfectly together. But that’s not all. Sherlock has also an older brother called Mycroft played by Mark Gatiss and he works for the government. In some cases he needs the help of Sherlock to solve problems. The small desputes of both brothers were represented very enjoyable. But every hero needs a miscreant. In this way it was played by Andrew Scott as Jim Moriarty. I will not reveal to much about Moriarty but what I can say is, he is definitly crazy! And there is also room for a small love story between Sherlock and Mooly Hoper played by Louise Brealey, a pathologist at St. Bart’s Hospital occasionally assists him in his cases. It is very clear that Mooly has feelings about Sherlock, but he is not very interessted in love.

One of the main problems of the show is like every other good tv show: If you are into it you can’t stop to watch it. Yes the format is different you’ve got 3 episodes per season, but that’s all and you have to wait more than 2 years for another season because the main cast has also other movie projects. But this year there are good news for Sherlock fans like me. In December Sherlock comes back to the program with a special episode. This episode is excluded from the main story and acts in the vicorian era of london. I’m very exited about the setting. Hopefully this new epidode can cut down the time until Season 4 comes out.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Concert: Berlin Atonal 2015

This was my first time at Berlin Atonal Festival and it was totally impressive. Unfortunately I have missed it last year. I was a little bit frustrated because the line up from last year was very good (for example artists like Miles, Vessel, Roly Porter and Tim Hecker). But this year I don’t miss it!

Wasteland by Pedro Maia

I would like to start my short review with a quick overview about the organisation and location. First, organisation: In front of the main building there was a nice area to hang out and taste all the different kind of street food offers. There were more than 6 different stations. I have tried the gorilla burger and it tasted very good. It was no problem to stood outside because it was a late summer day in august. Next up, the location: In the past years I’m attended to many concerts and visited different locations, but this one was totally outstanding. From the outside this old heating plant doesn’t looks very special. It’s just a big industrial concrete building. It is much more impressive if you go into it. There were 3 different areas: the main stage, the stage null and the schaltzentrale. If you go into it you can see at first a few spotlights and an old projector with different screenings at the first floor. The whole decoration was very minimalistic and simple.

Setup

In this case it makes totally sense because the atmosphere is very special and unique. If you go up to the second floor you can reach the schaltzentrale and the main stage. The schaltzentrale is a small factory control room with a bank of modular synths stationed. It was used for intimacy live sessions. Very unique!

Schaltzentrale

And than, the main stage. From there you can see how big this location actually is. There is nothing else besides the bar on the left side and the stage in front of the building with the large projector. But now, my concert impressions: The doors opened at 8 pm with Ryo Marukami an minimal techno artist. I don’t know him before, but his performance was not bad. Maybe I should give that kind of music another try in the future. After that I also give me a short break until my favourite artist Alessandro Cortini started his set at 10 pm.

Alessandro Cortini

His set was impressive as expected! He presented one of his previous records “Sonno” live. And yes, it was fantastic. The combination between the tracks and the screenplay works perfectly together. It was also nice to hear how the tracks works live. Up next was Sheckleton, but at this moment I feel my legs the first time. It was no fun to stood more than 2 hours on concrete. And yes I’m not more in the 20s! Shackleton’s show was more beats oriented. More effects and no screenplay. I knew a few tracks of him and there were also not bad live.

Opening Line

The last one I have seen was Berlin DJ and producer Rene Pawlowitz alias Shed. The first time I have listened to Shed was in 2010. At that time he has released “The traveller”. The approach from Shed was totally different to Shackleton. The set was heavy bass oriented and also minimalistic in light effects. It was definitely nice to look at. At the end of his set it was round about 2 am in the night and I was totally exhausted because I feel my painful legs and feets again, so I have decided to end up here. Berlin Atonal was definitely a great experience because you can not compete it to any other festival. I’m looking forward to the next year…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Music: Nils Frahm – Solo (Erased Tapes, 2015)

After his great live album “Spaces”, Nils Frahm returned with a new effort called “Solo”. He released “Solo” as part of the celebration of the Piano Day, a day created by Frahm to pay a homage to this intense instrument. You can get “Solo” as a free download or on vinyl.

The new piono-based tracks are more intimate and reduced as his live shows. You can call “Solo” definitely as a personal record. It’s the perfect music for a relaxed sunday morning. But that’s not all about Frahm. If you have the chance to see him live, you should buy a ticket. His live shows are totally different to his studio records. I have seen him in May this year in Hamburg and it was phenomenal. The switches between the intimate piano tracks and the heavy synthesizer stuff are a totally success. It’s the art of Nils Frahm to create a rising suspense. For me, he can’t play a better closer track than “Toilet Brushes – More”. It was absolutely gorgeous! Yes I like the new record, but I also like his electronic stuff. Hopefully we will hear some new tracks in the near future. But Frahm does not only create new music by his own, he also create the soundtrack for the one-take movie “Victoria”. The soundtrack reinforced the feelings in the movie from Sebastian Schipper (Absolute Giganten, Ein Freund von mir). The movie is about a spanish young girl, which is new in berlin and there experiences on one special night. I haven’t see the movie yet, but I will do it in the future and will share my feelings about it here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Music: Nicolas Jaar – Pomegranates (Other People, 2015)

There is a kind of mystery in the music of Nicolas Jaar. The American-Chilean musician is the head of the label Clown & Sunset and also the owner of the subscription-based imprint Other People. Jaar’s music is ruminative and emotional (he calls it “blue-wave”), drawing inspiration from fellow Chilean Ricardo Villalobos and minimal techno.

My first contact to his music I’ve got with “Space Is Only Noise” his debut record in 2011. I can’t say that I like it from the beginning but it grown on me after the time. But Jaar is not only a great composer, he is also a fantastic dj. One of the greatest dj sets I’ve ever seen is his Boiler Room set from 2013. It was mindblowing! In 2014 he released the debut album from Darkside with longtime collaborator Dave Harrington. And now he’s back with another solo release by his own. “Pomegranates” is an alternative soundtrack for the classic avant-garde movie “The Color of Pomegranates” by Sergei Parajanov from 1969. The soundtrack included 20 tracks and in combination with the pictures by Parajanov it is very intense and dramatic. No word, this movie is not for people they can’t see blood or have generally weak nerves. The power from Jaar’s music is impressive. In some tracks he remind me about Ben Frost and otherwise like in the ending score “Muse” he sounded like pianist Nils Frahm. This soundtrack by Jaar is definitely a masterpice but maybe it takes some time if you into it. But it is worth it!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Music: Alessandro Cortini – Risveglio (Hospital Productions, 2015)

At the beginning of this year two of my best friends recommended me Alessandro Cortini. First, I never listened to his music, so who is that guy? What I know is that he is a member of the alternative group Nine Inch Nails. His primary role in the band was to play the keyboards. He also formed the band SONOIO as his first solo project in 2010.

The newer releases by himself are comes under his own name. One or two month ago I have noticed that he will release a new record called “Risveglio”. I’m listening to the first teaser song “La Sveglia” via his soundcloud page and was blown away. This song has a special dark and hypnotic John Carpenter style in it. I love it! After that I have no change to ignore the past releases from him. I decided to start with the direct predecessor “Sonno”. After the first tracks I’m into it. Very intense atmosphere! Cortini is a master in the usage of the synthesizer. For the sucessor “Risveglio” he also create his intense drone sounds by only one instrument, the Roland MC-202—a monophonic synthesizer/sequencer. “Risveglio” is a immersive record and you should listend to this via good headphones. The first three tracks are massive until the short sequence of track four. It’s a little bit strange that this track stoped suddenly after 30 seconds. But yes this is a planned cut according to Cortini. This kind of music is definitely not suitable for standard listener. You have to be into that kind of drone music. If you like artists like Tim Hecker, Roly Porter or Lawrence English you will also like the work of Alessandro Cortini. There is no way to ignore his work. For me “Risveglio” could be one of the best releases in this year, but we will see what comes next.

Rating: 4 out of 5.