A couple of absolute belters for you today. Both great tunes, both from albums due for release and both created by two of the most exciting electronic producers plying their trade in the North West of England.
Afternaut – “Glass” (from the album Balance out June 9th)
Afternaut is Adam Rowley a Liverpool-based electronic producer with some pedigree. Having earned his stripes playing with the likes of Oneohtrix Point Never, Beak, Walls, Patten, Jam City, Ghosting Season, Sun Glitters and Labyrinth Ear as well as festival appearances, he has returned with a stunning album of depth and atmospherics.
Adam has been designing sound in video games for Sony, Disney and Sega for the last ten years but also creates music for the ears of mortals, music that achieves escape velocity, punching holes in the space-time continuum. Afternaut is the kind of artist you expect to keep evolving and through his latest offering Balance we hear this.
Whereas in previous releases Afternaut has concocted dark, spacial landscapes with sparse detail, on Balance he has added layers of beautiful, buzzing, humming and twinkling cosmic soundscapes. Balance flows, warmly drifting through rhythmically unfettered synthetic sound washes and gentle grooves pushing the album along in soft-focus analogue glaze.
Tracks like “Glass”, “Memory”, “Movement” and opener “Low” are cuts of melancholic melodies and subtle edgy rhythms. This is Afternaut creating his own world of hypnotic loops that spin and swirl into the ether. Balance is bursting with ideas, chopped beats, glitch-edged electronics, spacey synth beds and pulsing arppegios. The blend of ambience with skittering sequencers constantly shifts textures and the densely packed layers of electronics carve out a definite narrative throughout the seventeen tracks punctuated with minute-long vignettes.
Released on June 9th Balance is going to be one of the highlights of summer and already one of my albums of the year.
Neil Scrivin – Natural Power (from the album Tomorrow’s World out June 9th on Fonolith)
Neil Scrivin operates under a number of different guises, most notably as cut-and-sample sound collagist Phono Ghosts and Meatbingo but here he has re-released an album under his own name and it is an instant retro/vaporwave classic.
Tomorrow’s World is a neon-lit glide into the burgeoning technological scene of the 1980’s. Using samples and clips of science and technology shows of the time it paints the story of an optimistic view of a utopian future driven by gleaming synthesizer melodies and fusions of synth funk, synth pop and Italo disco.
Tomorrow’s World, like it’s TV namesake, deals with future-tech and the optimism of progress tempered by a cold war paranoia bathed in neon nostalgia. Like much of Neil’s work it brilliantly combines technoculture with nostalgia to completely immerse the listener in a world of his construction. It is a love letter to the glare of the 80’s; tracks like “Less of an Art”, “More of a Science”, “Telecommunications” and “Tomorrow’s Babies” are impishly playful, glistening with retro-futuristic sci-fi sensibility.
Other styles and forms are investigated; album opener “Lifestyle” plays with a fusion of jazz and digi-funk hinting at what is to come. “Natural Power” is dreamy and cinematic while “Inner Space” resembles Mike Oldfield’s Incantations filtered through early 80’s Tangerine Dream. “Leisure is a a Serious Business” evokes the journey into the heart of the machines, beckoning in a new era of synthesis; all bleeping machines and 8-bit chirruping.
Throughout, the production is clean and crisp with spacious sonic arrangements. At times hypnotic, Tomorrow’s World uses elements of 8-bit, chillwave and kosmiche-disco to create a fully immersive listening experience. It is easy to lose yourself in the flickering kodachromic swirl of images and sounds and the tracks are sure to inspire YouTube users to upload unofficial videos incorporating fuzzy, dreamlike images from early- to mid-‘80s television and film clips.
Tomorrow’s World is released on Fonolith Records June 9th on cassette tape as well as digitally, but I’d go for the tape, far more in keeping with the retro vibe.