Pariah

Here From Where We Are

Pariah’s debut long-player comes six years after his last outing for the Works The Long Nights label back in 2012. The intriguingly titled Here From Where We Are is made up of nine beatless compositions of sublime electronic wonderment. For any fans of Detroit Escalator Company or, going back further, James Bernard, this is your cup of herbal tea.

Opening track ‘Log Jam’ is a nagging, stuttering piece that breathes and grows with each uncurling movement. This is the storm before the calm, as ‘Pith’ strips it back to simple strings and chords with a grainy undercurrent, while ‘Seed Bank’ is classic warm, watery and beautiful ambience.

‘Linnaea’ has a remote feel of early Aphex Twin in among the playful, chilled sounds and this where much of the LP resides, as a homage to some of the great ambient works of the early nineties. That is no bad thing, as high-quality ambient music has existed for decades and with the popularity of modern classical it's great to hear a purely electronic ambient album.

‘At The Edge’ is classic Rising High Records ambient in that it goes on a journey, while ‘Conifer’ is a simple collection of keystrokes dropped through delays and reverbs to great effect. ‘Rain Soup’ and ‘Drug The Lake’ maintain the high standard. The collection finishes with the title track to make for nine superbly executed pieces of horizontal audio on a fine debut album.

Andy Tattersall

Leon Vynehall

Nothing is Still

Leon Vynehall had set the bar high for himself after Rojus was selected Album of the Year by DJ Mag and made Pitchfork’s Top 20 Electronic Albums of 2016. It was probably sensible, therefore, that he didn’t try and replicate those pulsating beats and created something completely unexpected with Nothing Is Still. The nine track album, split into ‘Chapters’ and ‘Footnotes’, features delicate classical touches and carefully crafted soundscapes, far from the dancefloor stirrers ‘Beau Sovereign’ and ‘House of Dupree’.

The first two chapters build through twinkly piano arpeggios and rich strings, and it’s only after three minutes that the more explicit electronics come in. ‘Chapter III’ takes you higher with a crescendo reminiscent of Camel’s 1975 symphonic rock album, The Snow Goose. Like Camel, Vynehall shares a love of birdsong. A National Geographic documentary about Birds of Paradise inspired samples of birdsong for Rojus, and it’s this element of nature in his music that Vynehall hasn’t left behind.

‘Drinking It In Again’ brings us indoors with some seriously edgy lounge music. Vynehall picks up the pace and turns dark with ‘Chapter V’. ‘Chapter VII’ is closer to Vynehall as we know him, featuring exotic drum beats and his signature strings. By ‘Chapter VIII’ we've returned to birdsong and are soothed to the end of the story with lilting, slightly off-key piano chords.

This certainly isn’t an album to dance to, but one to wallow in on a quiet evening. To complete the picture, Vynehall’s work is accompanied by a novella and a short film.

Jennifer Martino

Fleck E.S.C

Discrete Opinion

With a wealth of album and single releases already under his belt, French producer Franck Collin conjures up the latest slice of electro goodness for CPU Records.

Now based in Tokyo, Collin steps forth with a quartet of fine uptempo cuts for a South Yorkshire label that’s championing electro more than anyone else around. The title track starts steady enough, luring the listener into a false sense of routine head-nodding fodder, before it breaks loose of its shackles two minutes in with a masterful science fiction-influenced workover.

Full of overpowering cosmic rain showers of the audio kind, the title track gains the attention of any CPU fans from the start as it glides across the 808 landscape in perfect motion. ‘The Selfix Job’ maintains the hyperspace vibes, taking the tempo up with metallic stabs and more cosmic sounds and bleeps, as the track steps up yet another gear halfway through to good effect. ‘Little Man’ is a patiently slow grower, with a luscious, fat bassline that groans and splutters. It’s as much techno as it is electro.

The finale of the EP is ‘Night And Day’, which feels like the soundtrack to any of the classic arcade driving games of the nineties. Don’t think chiptune - this is way more classy, leaning towards the likes of Juan Atkins’ Cybertron imprint, as pitch-bent synths and motoring beats make this the standout track.

More impeccably high standards from the pristine CPU stable. Don’t sleep on this one.

Andy Tattersall

Naisian

Rejoinder

Rejoinder might be Naisian's first work for five years, but it doesn't sound like they've been gone a single day. This three-track EP shows the doomy post-metal trio from Sheffield at their best – tighter than ever, with each track bursting with intensity and emotion.

Naisian is drums, bass and guitar from Jordan, Michael and Adam respectively, and vocals from all three. The sheer weight of sound they squeeze out of this modest setup is impressive throughout. The secret is bespoke, handmade guitars, pedals and amps courtesy of Michael Aitken's cottage industry workshop, Aitken Audio.

Another key piece of the puzzle is truly masterful mastering from iconic sound engineer James Plotkin. A portfolio including the likes of Sunn O))), Cave In and Botch tells you all you need to know about the kind of fathomless heaviness to expect. Nonetheless, each instrument and voice is crisp, clear and distinct, with plenty of space to assert itself.

Botch were, in fact, one band that came to mind while listening to Rejoinder. Naisian share their approach to rhythmic complexity, understanding the superiority of driving polyrhythms over showy technicality. As Naisian chant in '90ft. Stone', "This could be something big."

Michael Hobson