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Electronica for audiophiles (Part 3)

  • The trouble with websites peddling free electronic music is you have to wade through a lot of chaff to get to the wheat. I have an aversion to anything that brushes up against new-age (you can keep your crystals and dolphins) and 145 bpm psy-trance (oonce-oonce-oonce) dumbness.  Best to stick to the likes of paid site lies Bleep and Boomkat.  Even if you are handing over cash, they act as a much-needed filter.

    In the last 12 months, I’ve been sipping on ice-cold beverages from the fridges of the Sandwell District collective (Function, Regis), Actress* (above) and the Raster Noton label.  However, in selecting electronica for audiophiles #3, I’ve focussed on Bandcamp-hosted artists – where lossless downloads are standard practice but music is purchased direct from the artist.

    A couple of non-Bandcamp artists get a mention too. The guys that release music as Dadub are themselves mastering engineers and imbue all releases on their Stroboscopic Artefacts roster with super high-quality production values. Their You Are Eternity album is monstrously dense – beats and bleeps caught in an aural asteroid belt, itself being pulled into a black hole-d bass bin. Kangding Ray has just dropped his new Tempered Inmid EP via Stroboscopic Artefacts but it’s the Pruiit Igoe EP from 2010 that gets the nod here. Grab it solely for Ben Frost‘s white-noise laden demolition.


    Talking Ben Frost** (above), this Aussie takes away the cleverest-electronic-track-title-of-all-time award with “Forgetting You Is Like Breathing Water”. You’ll find it closing out Frost’s claustrophobic Theory Of Machines long-player.

    Ceephax‘s Cro Magnox flirts with some of the grooviest acid lines since Luke Vibert ‘s Lover’s Acid (2005) – perfect home listening material.  Nerdy side-note: Ceephax (Andy Jenkison) and Squarepusher (Tom Jenkinson) are real-life brothers.

    Banco De Gaia are old favourites – ‘world’-inflected techno. This year’s Apollo has a very Magical Sounds Of vibe to it – wonderful. If you like this, you should move to the similar (but more ambient) Blamstrain next. He’s ditched the industrial soundscapes in favour of a dubby left turn.

    Voices From The Lake is Donato Dozzy and Neel’s insistent, 60-minute head-nod whilst Sigha‘s Living With Ghosts is some of the most intelligent club-focussed techno I’ve heard for some time.

    Here’s the list.  Links click through to Bandcamp or Soundcloud previews.

    1. Ochre – National Ignition (2013)
    2. Segue – Pacifica (2013) 
    3. Dadub – You Are Eternity (2013) 
    4. Voices From The Lake – Voices From The Lake (2012)
    5. Sigha – Living With Ghosts (2012)
    6. Ceephax – Cro Magnox (2013)
    7. Kangding Ray – Pruitt Igoe (2010) 
    8. Ben Frost – Theory Of Machines (2007)
    9. Blamstrain – Sunday Dub (2013)
    10. Banco De Gaia – Apollo (2013)

    Photos by John Darko.  *Actress @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney 2013.  **Ben Frost @ I’ll Be Your Mirror/ATP, Melbourne 2013.

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. Hey John, Cant believe you mentioned Ben Frost. I love his work and wondered if people even knew about him. “By the Throat” another of Bens albums plays like an eerie, thriller/suspense/horror soundtrack with wolves, so awesome.

      Id like to add the band “the Knife” Shaking The Habitual, an excellent electronica/experimental album, not sure if its on Bandcamp though…

    2. I could not resist this quote:
      ” I have an aversion to anything that brushes up against new-age (you can keep your crystals and dolphins) and 145 bpm psy-trance (oonce-oonce-oonce) dumbness…”

      The New Age, and nature worship, the symbols of ancient civilizations and cultures and the emulation of these, are in reality phallus worship. I write a conservative newsletter that covers such themes – outside of audio obviously. Without the humor, we’re dead.

      With the humor we’re dead too, only it’s a far better way to go.

      Kumbaya, y’all!

      • The people we should fear the most are those with no sense of humour…so said Robyn Hitchcock. I concur.

    3. YES, and the new Knife is ILL!
      Dave Clark turned me onto Ben Frost (I love Theory of Machines – just got it on vinyl for Dave).

      Great list John.

      I’ve been turning some philes out here onto the likes of Pinch & Shackleton, Nosaj Thing, Shlohmo and Drumcell lately!!

      Just say Drumcell TEAR it.
      Those guys are doin some serious hard techno

      • Michael Mercer,

        I can’t tell you how much I love Shackleton’s work. Pinch is great too. Love anything that exhibits dark textures and low frequencies.


    4. Thanks for the recommendations John. I just listened to all of them and I will purchase most, if not all them.


    5. Thanks for the selections. As mentioned above the new knife and Nosaj thing albums are great, the best “Audiophile” electronica that I have heard in a while is “HD” by Atom TM on raster Noton. Amazing production.

    6. I am gonna have to check out some of the things on this list. I have been trying to get my mitts on a cd copy of that Segue album with no luck. Will check the Kangding Ray release as I thoroughly enjoyed OR. I’m also curious about Dabub; Stroboscopic Artifacts blew me away with Xhin – Sword and mastering engineers making techno is something that has worked brilliantly in the past (Monolake.) Great to see Voices From the Lake get plugged, as it is really an amazing album when listened to on a quality system. I tried to listen to it in my car and it’s not the same at all.

    7. Thanks a lot for the tips. There is so much boring music in electronica.
      Ever heard of Parov Stelar? I sometimes use his 2008 Album daylight to stir up listening sessions at hifi shows 🙂
      Especially when they play guitarchicks music…
      Parov Stelar does a mix out of house, jazz and downbeat. And he’s a genius with electroswing. Listening recomended!
      Greetings from Austria!

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