KRAUS — SEAHORSE WEDDING (MUSIC FOR FLOAT TANKS)
2023. Lockdown projects have established themselves into various nooks of various scenes, and so saw the rise of the bedroom producer. I’m secretly convinced the bedroom-guitarist-dreams of being a lil shredder are now more often branching out into dreams of the patching whizz and synthesizer rabbit-holer, despite not having quite the same ring to them, but that’s a yarn for another time.
With all of social media’s downsides, it is undeniable that inspiration is now within reach more than ever, and with this world of knowledge and accessibility to producing grows, as does the output of exceptional electronic artists.
So here are six electronic releases from Aotearoa for you to get inspired by that you may have missed in 2023.
VARIOUS ARTISTS - TAUTOKO GAZA
Tautoko Gaza is a compilation showcasing all previously unreleased tracks by twenty three Aotearoa electronic artists in solidarity with the horrors inflicted upon Gaza.
Released in November, the compilation was hastily put together in a staggering three weeks, with names such as Samara Alofa, Mokotron, Amamelia and so many more. All funds go towards Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), an NGO working to support growing critical health needs resulting from Israel's ongoing bombardment and complete siege on Gaza.
From the release notes:
The artists on this compilation are horrified by the current situation in Palestine and the recent escalation of violence by the Israeli state. The genocidal blockade and repeated airstrikes have resulted in mass loss of civilian life on an unprecedented scale. These atrocities form part of a long legacy of forced displacement, which began under British imperialism and has continued under the Israeli apartheid regime since 1948.
We stand in solidarity with the struggle for Palestinian liberation and join the calls for an immediate ceasefire and end to the illegal military occupation. There is absolutely no justification for the brutal crimes and genocide being carried out against the Palestinian people.
Available exclusively as a digital release via Bandcamp, all funds raised from the compilation will go to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), an NGO working to support growing critical health needs resulting from Israel's ongoing bombardment and complete siege on Gaza. This siege has dramatically escalated since October 7th, and we recognise that much of the aid is currently not entering the region. We therefore ask listeners to engage in a range of actions in solidarity.
These actions include but are not limited to:
- Writing to politicians and various cultural institutions urging them to call for an immediate ceasefire and sever diplomatic ties with Israel.
- BDS - Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions. E.g. boycotting brands who have shown support for Israel (such as Starbucks, McDonalds and Disney).
- Sharing online content made by Palestinians to counter the pro-Israel bias in mainstream media coverage.
- Contacting media organisations to challenge particular instances of misinformation and/or disinformation.
- Joining and/or organising local rallies and protests.
- Staying up to date with the latest calls for action.
Favourite Track: mHz - 'If You Had Any Heart in You'
Sounds like: The most intense amplification of a speech through electronics ever heard
Listen and purchase the compilation HERE — all funds raised from the compilation will go to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), an NGO working to support growing critical health needs resulting from Israel's ongoing bombardment and complete siege on Gaza.
BJ LEO - MUTUALS
An October release, MUTUALS by BJ Leo is nothing short of a masterful tapestry of sounds. Off-axis, on-point and intoxicatingly wobbly, the five track EP was curated in uncharted methods of composition, originally composed for 16 channel spatialisation as part of the sonic arts programme at Te Kōki - New Zealand School of Music. The works were released digitally on Tāmaki Makaurau label Related Articles, the label’s eight release.
Drawing from Albert Bregman’s work on sonic fission and the Spectralism movement of the 1970s, BJ Leo deconstructs and reconstructs samples and digital synthesis to reimagine their spectral qualities, often resulting in stretched out, gluey layers alongside the more sporadic. I love the EP’s unpredictability. There is simply no telling what any next move will be, and the only logical action is really to embrace the fluid and extremely detailed gestures that guide you to the end.
Favourite Track: 'PRISM (Pt. 1)'
Sounds like: Glitter falling intermittently on a glitching video tape
You can listen to and purchase the EP via Bandcamp HERE.
MODNIY - MUSIC FOR PERENNIAL PLANES
The impeccable sonic collection blends elements of nature into every track, including native birds of Aotearoa, streams and footsteps. There are definitely others, but it’s often difficult to discern the natural sounds from the synthetic, further adding to the album’s depth. When playing in the background, I found the album infused every nook in my physical environment with a huge sense of calm. Yet during a more intentional listen, thoughtful features shone. Music for Perennial Planes offers insight into lush tiny worlds full of warmth and clarity.
Favourite Track: 'Neem'
Sounds like: Basking in the joy of an extended view of natural environments
KRAUS - SEAHORSE WEDDING (MUSIC FOR FLOAT TANKS)
Tear open the invisible wall between realms and peek in, for Seahorse Wedding (Music for Float Tanks) is a wholesome embrace of a pixelated world. Perfectly balanced and completely analogue, the album is filled with Mort Garson-esque dreamscapes of lush hypnotic arpeggios and beautifully jagged edges. At times brooding chaotically and at others playful, Kraus has translated the feeling of suspending in a void into sound, striking the difficult balance of detail and space with various fantastic textures.
Originally a commission by Pōneke’s Pyramid Club, the Tāmaki Makarau artist stated that inspiration for the album came from various natural wonders such as geothermal mud and tropical seabeds, 80s ambient duo Emerald Web and his own childhood explorations in coastal rock pools.
Elsewhere, Kraus aka Pat Kraus is the independent project organiser of the Musical Electronics Library (MEL), hosted by the Audio Foundation. MEL is a free lending library of electronics, which includes hundreds of pieces of gear ranging from pedals to sequencers and more, while encouraging community building through DIY electronics.
Favourite Track: 'Celebrant Crustacean'
Sounds like: Raindrops racing to the bottom of my bedroom window, gathering others as they go to further their gravity
You can listen to and purchase the project via Bandcamp HERE.
SYNTHETIC CHILDREN - EVERYTHING'S PERPETUAL
Captivating from the get go, Synthetic Children released her third album Everything’s Perpetual in May, where 2-step gets dark, chaotic and with a touch of 2000’s to haunt us. Raw and club oriented, the album tells the story of being trans on the dark and wide streets of Te Papaioea Palmerston North, the artist said.
To me, the second track 'body' undeniably feels like the core of the album. I can’t help but focus on the repetitive pulsing voices, as if they’re inside my own head. The tension grows into gritty techno and the rest of the album pours out.
Everything’s Perpetual is full of raw electronics filling the foreground with an often smokey darkness, and was later accompanied by an equally strong remix album with cuts from 11 artists such as Fern, ABG, and WET MOUTH.
Favourite Track: 'bad way to god'
Sounds like: I can’t tell if that shadow is my dressing gown hanging up or someone standing in my room and I know it’s my dressing gown but I’m still freaking out
You can listen to and puchase the album via Bandcamp HERE.
SILVA SPIRAL - COMPENDIUM OF COLOURS
The Pōneke artist’s debut release Compendium Of Colours is beautiful and spellbinding, with an ominous warmth in every track. In an early 2000s Grimes flashback, the GarageBand-produced album fuses the mystical with the stripped-back club, and Silva Spiral takes the listener on a dissonant journey through it all. She achieves a sonically rich blend of dark techno and earthy ethereal sounds, with many indistinct vocal layers to bask in.
I personally took great pleasure in drinking in all of the beautiful track names, with titles such as 'Underpainting of an Angel' and 'Wisteria Delerium', perfectly articulating the songs paired with them.
Favourite Track: 'Compendium Of Colours'
Sounds like: Retired machines living softly somewhere under the ocean’s surface
You can listen to and purchase the project via Bandcamp HERE.