Author: Julia Sachs

Röyksopp
The Inevitable End
Dog Triumph Records
Street: 11.07.14
Röyksopp = a less ethereal Björk + Robyn + Worlds-era Porter Robinson

One of Norway’s more popular electronic groups is back with their second release of the year, though this one is about twice as long as its predecessor, Do It Again, which features Robyn. The album combines synthesized, down-tempo electronic pop beats with ethereal female vocals, which makes for really cool pop tracks on songs like “Save Me,” and “Monument,” but gets a bit darker and more melancholy on tracks like “Rong.” The production on the album is really well done, with great attention to detail and use of various instruments on every track. It’s definitely one to check out if you’re looking to broaden your knowledge of good groups from around the world. –Julia Sachs

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Mkaio
The Devil Lived EP
Purpl Records
Street: 06.06
Mkaio = Heartwreck + Cashmere Cat
 
With production technology that is more accessible and as user-friendly as iOS7, comes an influx of artistic variety that can’t simply be described as “a subgenre of electronic music.” The passion for creativity captured in this EP shows that Mkaio isn’t just there to make music—he’s there to make art. The four-track EP features haunting, ambient sounds in “The Way Down,” that nearly relax the listener into a blissful sleep, while songs like “With Me” feature heavily synthesized R&B- style vocals paired with a slow, ambient soundtrack. Some may recognize Mkaio from the May Localized show at The Urban Lounge, and the EP can be found at mkaio.bandcamp.com. –Julia Sachs
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Bran(…)Pos
Den of Ordure and Iridescence
Resipiscent Records
Street: 07.01
Bran(…)Pos = Infected Mushroom + Sci-fi

Although the production on this album was decent and obviously had a lot of thought put into it, I couldn’t help but sit there and think “why?” while my eyes glazed over as I listened to it. The artist gets into a type of psy-trance that is entertaining and interesting, but not necessarily something I would want to listen to in my free time. The first song on the album, titled “Tin Tract Mine,” has a five-minute introduction of random sounds before it goes into something that sounds like a bunch of aliens attacking in a rhythmic fashion. The slow tempo, electronic-influenced sound that this album had was good, but branched a bit far from what traditional music is. My favorite track (of the three on the album) was “Sawed Off at Plasticized Forest” because of the psychedelic trance sound and slightly faster beat. –Julia Sachs

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Iamamiwhoami
Bounty
Cooperative Music

Street: 06.03
Iamamiwhoami = XXYYXX + Icona Pop
With their dreamy vocals and experimental pop sound, Iamamiwhoami deliver an album that will please many different types of music lovers. The album opens with a slow, repetitive piano beat mixed with a robotic voice that whispers poetic lyrics, while more electronic sounds are introduced. Although a few of the songs on the album sound remarkably similar to a few familiar Grimes tracks, Iamamiwhoami add their own signature twist and make it work. The song “U-2” is an electronic dance track that slows down and speeds up in all the right places, combined with dream-like vocals and a few killer beat drops. Their use of nontraditional sounds set them apart from most of what is being produced these days, and shows that, although it is weird, experimental electronic music can still be very good. –Julia Sachs

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Gelka

Gelka
Comforting Waveforms Mixtape

Café Del Mar
Street: 07.07
Gelka = Robot Heart + Beats Antique

It was interesting to learn that there’s an entirely Ibiza-based label dedicated to chillwave and calming, experimental electronic music—something one wouldn’t expect out of a city apparently more lit than Vegas. Gelka is one of the artists on said label, and their deep house–esque mixtape is a great way to relax after a long day. The mix transitions well from each song to the next, and each track is well made and never distracting.  Unfortunately, there is no track list on this mixtape, as it runs more like a DJ set than a traditional mixtape, but each song is original, new and pleasing to the ear. The downtempo techno and house beats blend nicely with the mixture of male and female vocals throughout, and the bass is just heavy enough to be appreciated. Gelka release new mixtapes frequently, which they announce on their Facebook page. –Julia Sachs

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Nick Names
Wasteland EP

Nameless Media
Street: 10.09.15
Nick Names = Datsik + Zedd + Infected Mushroom

Utah absolutely loves EDM, and this release from local artist Nick Names pays homage to that love. Wasteland intricately bends genres like techno, dubstep and—forgive me for saying this—big room to create a wild and exciting ride through a psychedelic-fueled taste of the rave. Repetitive and entrancing, tracks like “Mr. Names” manage to create a catchy beat that would be a hit in any club scene while tracks like “Powerslut” provide more of a psychedelic element. This is the kind of music that the Utah rave scene goes wild for—so check out Wasteland if you find yourself at the The Great Saltair often. –Julia Sachs

Bassnectar
Noise vs. Beauty
Amorphous Music
Street: 06.24.14
Bassnectar = Excision + Beats Antique + Steve Angello on acid

This album progresses in the way I would imagine someone with a split-personality disorder would function day to day. By juxtaposing absolute garbage (noise) with ambient, well-produced music (beauty), Bassnectar delivers an album that makes me want to pop an aspirin one minute and take a bubble bath the next. Good ol’ Lorin explains this right in the description of the album on his Soundcloud: “A 15 song journey which spans the spectrum of music from hardcore hysteria to lush, ethereal beauty…”.The album isn’t entirely good—there are points where I had to skip to the next song halfway through while muttering, “What the fuck is this?” under my breath, though it did fit with the concept of the album. That being said, my opinions of the album highlights are irrelevant—there’s something to please everyone. Having seen the DJ/producer/hair model quite a few times over the span of a few years in multiple places, he’s never going to give you anything but himself. This album completely reflects everything the Bassnectar brand is, and that’s why it’s a great album.  –Julia Sachs

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Sparx
Ignition LP
Self-Released
Street: 05.25
Sparx = Flux Pavilion + Datsik

Despite being personally convinced that most people try to make electronic music just to be able to say they do—if I hear “Hi, I’m a DJ” one more time I may scream—there are exceptions when someone can legitimately produce something worth listening to a few times, which is the case here. Though the album didn’t tell me much about how he uses music as his creative outlet other than that he’s inspired by South London dubstep, Sparx can make music. With vocals supplied by a local rapper, the album contains both the instrumental and complete versions of each song. I personally preferred the instrumentals, as the vocal additions seemed to take away from the production and left me wishing the producer chose a different vocalist. –Julia Sachs

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CSS
Planta
SQE Music
Street: 06.11
Planta = M.I.A + Icona Pop

CSS may be one of the more iconic groups to come out of Brazil, but they are not very comparable to the other synth pop artists of today. The up-tempo electronic beats in their music are catchy but not very intricate as far as production goes. Anyone can synthesize a drum beat and add some snare and call it music, but that doesn’t make it great music. The vocals in their tracks are a bit dry and don’t blend very well with the music, but are still decent, as displayed in “Honey,” the first track on the album. Despite the bad review I just gave of their music as a whole, they did have some good tracks on this album with “Teenager Tiger Cats” and “Frankie Goes To Hollywood,” which were more comedic and sounded like they should be on the soundtrack to some quirky Michael Cera movie. –Julia Sachs

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Little Boots

Nocturnes

On Repeat Records

Street: 05.03

Little Boots = Lights + Madonna + La Roux

Little Boots deliver an album stocked full of synthpop electronic-style tracks with catchy vocals. I enjoyed the album a lot, but it sounded a bit too similar to a lot of the pop music made in the late ’70s and ’80s (if you’re into that sort of thing, then this album is for you). “Shake,” along with other tracks like “Every Night I Say a Prayer” and “Broken Record,” are faster-paced songs with repetitive lyrics that lean more into the disco genre than they do electropop. However, she comes back into 2013 with the song “Crescendo,” a slower pop song that sounds similar to Ellie Goulding. I enjoyed her use of synthesized vocals in the song “Strangers,” but still have mixed feelings on the album in its entirety. The pacing was relaxing and entertaining, but it didn’t show me anything to make it stand out from things I’ve heard in the past. –Julia Sachs


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