Porter Ricks.

biokinetics.
type records.


Reviewer - ben dorey.


I wouldn't usually prioritise a re-release over new music to review, but this record really is something quite special. The brainchild of Berliners Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig, 1998's Biokinetics could be seen as the seminal dub techno record - still recognisably techno but shifting the focus from rhythm and melody to the design of individual sounds. Köner's attention to detail combined with Mellwig's highly esteemed mastering skills work together to create a truly immersive record with a strong under-the-sea aesthetic rising to prominence. In the realm of high-quality headphones this record gives many releases proclaimed as landmarks for sound design in 2011 a run for their money.

We start with 'Port Gentil', heavily affected field recordings whirring and straining at the edges of the soundscape, slowly morphing with the muted kickdrum and industrial clatter in a strangely serene way. There are no drops here, just 12 minutes of meticulously executed evolution, with rhythm elements slowly establishing themselves out of the mush of background noise and key changes catching you by surprise. Next up is the throbbing 'Nautical Dub', an abrupt change in atmosphere from the serene to the brooding. This is like the sound of a Basic Channel showcase in the late 90s, but underwater, your head bobbing above the surface just enough to catch some razor sharp synth rhythms. Incredible.

'Biokinetics 1' continues from where the previous track left off, another exemplary piece of hypnotic loop making that you could listen to forever (until going completely insane). This would sound bang up to date even now, and the newer generation of techno fans may find that after listening to this the Ostgut Ton back catalogue seems a little less groundbreaking. 'Biokinetics 2' takes us back to the slightly more relaxed atmosphere - rolling sub kicks, subdued industrial noise and evolving ambience. If the first of the pair is underwater Marcel Dettmann, then this is subaquatic DVS1.

'Port of Call' marks a return to a throbbing straight up techno beat underpinning oceans of eerie field recordings and interweaving synths. 'Port of Nuba' is the least aquatic feeling of the bunch, all wonked out groove and glitching rhythm, again sounding well ahead of its time. 'Nautical Nuba' is a continuation of the same subaquatic aesthetic of the rest of the record, while 'Nautical Zone' reintroduces the shimmering pads of the opening track combined with a deep and subby groove. Sublime.

This record already gives me the chills, but on vinyl it will be otherworldly. Go and get it.

Three Trapped Tigers.

Numbers 1-13.
Blood and Biscuits.


Reviewer - Tommy Poulton.


From the age of about 15 I thought it was cool to try and look like Charlie from Busted. I thought stupidly dark eyebrows and poorly bleached hair which ended up dark ginger was cool, but surprisingly I got mocked. Then I got into my Dad's favourite band, Dream Theater. Again I was mocked, this time for liking 'twiddly guitar crap', but I persevered. Gathering together musicians who like playing mental music just makes sense. Now I have even more faith in this music as I have found Three Trapped Tigers, a ridiculously twiddly band that I love almost everything about. They have produced an album worthy of Dave Gilmour and more brilliant than looking like Charlie from Busted.

The Londoners create more noise than you would expect a trio to be capable of. With their album Numbers 1-13, their three previous EPs are pieced together, remastered and presented in their original order. The tracks are reliant solely on the music and do not falter due to the absence of vocals. There's a perfect balance between the keyboard, synthesizers, guitar and drums, creating a unique sound with differing time signatures, offbeat rhythms and extremely progressive elements.

'1' starts with an awesomely technical guitar riff and complementing drum beat leading to an explosion of prog bliss. As the album progresses, there is a real variety of sounds, such as on '2', which combines consistently loud drums with a more mellowed keyboard over the top. '3' shows off an aggressive and electronic style which works nicely alongside more subdued but no less technical songs like '4', '5', '9' and '13'. '12' is beautiful, sounding like Cinematic Orchestra meets Aphex Twin.

As a set of EPs, these tracks laid the foundation for Route One or Die, Three Trapped Tigers' first full-length album, consisting of eight tracks of equally good material. 'Creepies' shows they have kept a similar sound for their upbeat material, while downbeat tracks like 'Ulnastricter', 'Zil' and 'Magne' reinforce this consistency.

Portico Quartet.

Portico Quartet.
Real World Records.


Reviewer - Gordon Barker.


Press play and this album swells in to life with a fuzzy ambient tick. Like your favourite Four Tet or ambient album, you are introduced with a warm and captivating blend of electronics and bowed double bass that builds to a Fennesz-like crescendo and then fades into the first song of the album. Instantly you can tell this is going to be a very different experience to the rest of Portico's work.

Forgive me for the trite references, but I believe this is one of the major strengths of this album. On Knee Deep in the North Sea, and more so on Isla, Portico showed that they were no ordinary quartet. Contemporary music, especially modern electronica, was definitely a major influence on their compositions and production, including dabbles in effects and electronics on record as part of the overall texture. On this, their third and self-titled album, they take the next logical step by actually incorporating electronic elements and stylings into the songs and their live set-up, with the drummer using sample pads and an MPC, bringing glitches and sample loops to a strong yet equally subtle drum kit. Another new addition to this album's line up is the hang player Kier Vine, who replaced Nick Tulvey when he left in early 2011. Kier also plays keys, adding an additional layer.

A very important fact about this shift in the band's sound is that it is all still played live. There are no pre-made arrangements, backing tracks or even layers of overdubs. Go and see Portico live if you can, because they can recreate these tracks to the letter.

You can feel the depth of effect that so-called "bass music" has had on this album. Each track has a distinct groove and with tracks such as 'Lacker Boo', it's almost impossible to deny the garage beats that are littered throughout. Even songs like 'Steepless', featuring vocals (another first) from Cornelia, which is massively stripped back - consisting mainly of clicking, micro sampled vocal loops, wide plodding piano chords and her beautifully quirky vocal - still oozes with the groove of a James Blake EP.

Portico have hit on something really quite special here, a sound that bridges the gap from Isla to modern dance and electronic music. It is simultaneously a jazz album you can give to the youngsters in snapbacks and a dance album you can give to your parents without them being unimpressed.

Low Duo.

The EP of Truth and Regret.
People Are Strange.


Reviewer - Ebony Nembhard.


Despite having being together for little more than a year, it's been a busy few months for Low Duo. Having toured with the likes of Karima Francis and Courtney Pine, Low Duo have pleased the ears of many, gaining widespread media praise along the way and putting to bed any questions surrounding the ambiguity of their minimalistic concept as people familiarise themselves with their music.

Staying true to this vision, The EP of Truth and Regret sees the disclosure of a pure, clean and ethereal sound, resulting in a great sequel to the angstridden heartbreak of tracks from their two previous releases, The EP of Fear and Failure and The EP of Hope and Despair.

Gentle but at times emphatic, Leigh further proves his versatility as a lyricist and songwriter as the duo embark on an eerie diversion into a more expansive sound, while still seeing through the continuation of their onevoice one-guitar concept.

The EP opens with 'Ambulance', which tells a story of guilt and helplessness where the softness of Leigh's vocals are tempered by the fevered licks of the guitar.

Penultimate track 'Secret Matters' demonstrates a dark sound elevated by the addition of a bass guitar, creating a looming sense of urgency and alienation reminiscent of the brooding anti-pop of the early 90s.

Whimsically romantic yet fatally doomed, 'Waltz with Her' speaks of unattainable love. The ballad encapsulates poetic lyrics laced within a slowly drawn anguish, possessing a forbidden sense of intimacy. Strikingly emotive and lyrically coherent, the track leaves a harrowing last impression as an album of beautiful songs which further demonstrate extensive growth draws to a close.