Half moody jazzy tunes, half mid-tempo mellow house beats, nice and relaxing. The title track and Moral Dilemmas are the peak points, the previous reminding me of Miles Davis’ electronic explorations.
All I can think of while listening to this is how much I miss live music. I understand there are way more severe consequences of the pandemic in the world out there, but what makes me go nuts in my little world of my own is that I cannot go to live music events. Jump around at a concert with bodies smashing into one another. Barely hear a friend over screamning guitars and snearing drums with a beer in hand just to cut the sentence when the chorus hits us and shout the words from the top of our lungs. Dance in a barely lit dancefloor with beautiful techno thumping in my ears taking me on so well know but still unexpected journeys. Close my eyes and see what the music paints in the darkness while cosmic peace melts with ecstatic bursts of joy, and open my eyes slowly to let the faint blinking of the neon through and carve illuminating runes in my retina. I miss the people sharing the moment, breathing the sweaty steam of everyone moving at the same time to the same rhythm. I miss these moments, and I miss the people that we share it with so much.
As the first notes started playing on this record I thought Reigns turned to a lighter mood since I fell in love with them with The House on the Causeway. I starts that way. Then they quickly delve into their home territory of eerie land where rock and electronic holds no real meanings—this music is not defined by its instruments but its super heavy atmosphere. It’s a beautiful wondering in a haunted garden with dark crimson roses, piercing thorns, and an ominous yet not at all depressing constant dusk.
This is an album that I’ve been replaying for such a long time that I started resuggesting to friends because I’ve forgotten about the first time. Well, it was released in July so that’s about half a year, not sure if that’s a while or I’m just forgetful. Anyhow point is that every time I listen to it again I feel that rush of hearing something really noteworthy. Some tracks are more light, some are more heavy, some keep a steady pace, some are slower, but they are all moons orbiting around the same progressitve metal planet. I had this idea of comparing it to Tool, although it is not at all in the same vein but I’m thinking about the sophistication of it’s own prog metal sound. And in that sense Haken became one of my new favorite metal bands in 2020.
It is a fantastic nordic metal record with prog, heavy, and black elements mixed in. But whatever it is, the one track Urjotun is one mind blowing single track that is right there amonst the top 3 of 2020 for sure. Right as the synth beat and drum groove starts (and just by typing this it’s clear how non-typical this song is on the album) I get goosebumps, and then it goes into a black metal march just to go clean after a minute and get back to the synth and groove again. It is not at all a nordic metal thing, much rather some industrial rock thing on par with the best of Killing Joke, but then melts it with Enslave’s burning voice making it their own. This song is just epic.
Definitely techno for the dancefloor, but like with trance blended in. It’s not silly but still not serious.
This was the biggest wow moment towards the end of 2020. Huuuge funk and psychedelic rock mixed up, like putting Rage Against The Machine and The Mars Volta in a blender, and occasionally spicing it up with some space disco vibe.
After around the time of Black Angel’s Phosphene Dream I started to get weary of a lot of psychedelic rock records sounding all the same—there was a canon that so many new bands could only follow but show nothing new there. It’s also telling that in the funk rock area one of the best new things I’ve heard in the past decade was Shobaleader One playing live, which is basically IDM played with a different instrumentation. Overall, I rarely hear something that feels new and fresh in these genres nowadays, and Mother’s Cake has definitely one of those moments.
It’s industrial metal with a heavy electronic drag. And most of all, even though it’s presented as a neo-noir cyberpunk aesthetic, I still feel a positive vibe in there. It’s not like one of those doomed self-deprecating whiners who suck all your willingness to live but this one rather pushes you to go go go and if there’s something in your way just crush through it. It has energy and fun.
This is easily one of my most influential albums that I came across in 2020. Modern technoid EBM with bubbling analog synths and tight industrial beats. It has all the dark beauty of any oldschool EBM but without the spotlight mainstreamism of some retro abusing modern electronic music. They are to EBM what Led Er Est was to post-punk goth rock—something new that understands the roots and fully lives in the present. Wonderful, fantastic music, soundtrack of my life material.
Tripping melodic mid-tempo techno and tech-house.
I have a feeling that I became a sucker for something that’s too mainstream with listening to all these Koletzki and Township releases. But I feel like it’s 2008 again and Kalkbrenner is new. Although these releases are from 2016-17, so I’m late to this party. Well, like I was late to the Kalkbrenner party, too, by just stumbling upon him after Berlin Calling came out. And there was Kah-Lo just recently as well. It shows that I’m usually a late adopter for dance music. Except that I’m getting more and more fond of trance, that has to be something different being in a revival time frame. You cannot be late by a few decades. (Or can you?)