Category Archives: REVIEWS

Delsin Records revive Dutch Techno History with Eevo Lute Muzique reissue

Artist: Florence / Wladimir M
Title: Analogue Expressions / Leaves Fallin’ Recklessly
Label: Delsin Records
Cat No: dsr-eevo001 / dsr-eevo002
Released: 24th April
Genre: Techno / IDM

Amsterdam label, Delsin Records really has developed a flair for reissuing and repressing lots gems. This time they turn their attention to one of the most important and unsung labels in the story of Dutch techno, Eevo Lute Muzique.

Eevo Lute Muzique was established in 1991 by Wladimir Manshanden and Stefan Robbers, (who was already releasing tracks as Terrace and as one-half of Acid Junkies for Djax-Up-Beats). Their early releases were heavily influenced by Detroit techno, even naming their first release “U.S Heritage”, while fusing those influences with their own love for the Euro Synth Pop and 80’s New Wave sounds they’d grown up with.

This release offers 2 albums of 22 complied tracks spanned across a 5-disc set. The first album, Analogue Expressions is a compilation of music by Stefan Robbers under his moniker, Florence. All 11 tracks across these 3 discs offer a divine kaleidoscope of different electronic flavours and styles, while still managing to maintain a consistent level of emotion and innovation. From the opener Exploration; a panicked, bass-heavy, electro driven pep-talk to the closer, Revival; a subtle, emotive stomper, each and every track is quite unique. Despite these tracks being over 25 years old (mostly recorded between 1991 and 1994), the majority still sound as fresh and as forward-thinking today as they did then.

Part 2 of the Delsin x Eevo Lute Musique retrospective is a collection of tracks by Eevo Lute co-founder, Wladimir M, entitled Leaves Fallin’ Recklessly. It kicks off the same way as his 1994 LP, Life is a Short Story, with short spoken word, Autumn Leaves I, followed by the epic Planet E (originally released on the Detroit label of the same name in 1991). Generally though, Leaves Falling Recklessly lacks the same colour and diversity as Analogue Expressions. The highlight here is Wladimir’s track, Evil. Abrasive percussion rumbling below, virtuous synth hovering above, and with Wladimir’s apocalyptic poetry in-between. So good! Canned by everyone, from Dave Clarke to DVS1 over the years, the original is still a highly sort after record.

Most of the early Eevo Lute singles have been well sort after, with record hounds paying up to and even over 100 euros for some discs.
The first five releases have become highly coveted, not just because of the timeless music they contain, but also because the pressing stampers were accidentally destroyed meaning they were never repressed.

Once again Delsin has come through in bringing some unsung heroes of electronic music to the foreground, particularly the highlighting one of the many monikers of the much underrated, Stefan Robbers. Three thumbs!

The post Delsin Records revive Dutch Techno History with Eevo Lute Muzique reissue appeared first on Decoded Magazine.

Original Resource is Decoded Magazine

Sumiko Amethyst Moving Magnet (M/M) Turntable Cartridge Review

Back in the late 1990s, I was facing crippling student loan debts, hernia-inducing car payments, obscene property taxes, and a backbreaking mortgage. Stated succinctly, money was in rather short supply. As an audiophile with a meagre income, Sumiko’s Moving Magnet (M/M) and Moving Coil (M/C) cartridges were what I — literally — dreamed of owning. [...]

Original Resource is NOVO Audio and Technology Magazine

Future Sound of London finally reissue their iconic ‘Mental Cube’ singles

Artist: Future Sound of London
Title: FSOL Present Mental Cube ‎– Mental Cube – Original Recordings From 1990
Cat No: 12TOT49
Released: Out Now!
Genre: Rave, Techno, Breakbeat

Future Sound of London (or just FSOL back then) was the brainchild of Gary Cobain and Brian Dougans. The pair met in Manchester in the mid-’80s. From there they went on to dominate the U.K music scene, and beyond through a variety of different styles using a variety of different pseudonyms. Although their tracks might not be as ubiquitous as they once were, the mystic and awe that surrounds FSOL have never really changed.

After disappearing from the electronic scene for a few years, the pair finally resurfaced and eventually set up the label, FSOL Digital. Over the past 15 or so years, FSOL Digital has been releasing new and old material, one of the highlights being last years release of new material under their Humanoid guise.

This record is, in essence, a compilation of singles released by Cobain & Dougans as Mental Cube between 1990 and 1991. ‘In The Mind of a Child’, which was originally released in ’91 under the pairs, Indo Tribe moniker, on the iconic Jumpin & Pumpin imprint, was originally intended to be a Mental Cube release.

‘In The Mind of a Child’ is a great ravey acid number. Stringy looping acid bursts hyped up vocal samples, bouncy bassline, and overexcited 909 snares; brilliant! ‘Chile of the Bass Generation’ brings the drums! Classic break-beat underpins a driving, wormy bassline.
‘So This is Love’ is just pure, classic U.K House. Warm bassline, vintage piano stabs and ethereal vocals. Q was an instant classic when it came out and is the real drawcard. Thick, warm strings shimmer upon you while a fragile, broken (is it a ‘Speak n Spell’?) melody spits out its fractured light. It was the blueprint of Sunrise Trance in the early ’90s and still cuts straight to the soul with the same ease it did 30 odd years ago.

Whether you’re a young buck new on the scene or an old techno fossil with an FSOL shaped hole in your record collection, this release has something for everyone. 4 slices of rave gold for your incomplete record collection.

The post Future Sound of London finally reissue their iconic ‘Mental Cube’ singles appeared first on Decoded Magazine.

Original Resource is Decoded Magazine

PhantomFocus System Studio Monitors Review

PhantomFocus PFM UHD-1000 monitor
PhantomFocus PFM UHD-1000 monitor

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone more passionate about audio than Carl Tatz. Not only is he serious about it, he knows it inside out. I got to know him before Recording Arts, his legendary Nashville studio, wound up in the hands of Sheryl Crow nearly two decades ago. Even in those days, more than anything else, Recording Arts was known for its exceptional monitoring. The fundamentals of the PhantomFocus System (PFS) were developed during Tatz’s Recording Arts tenure. That system has evolved into a portfolio of both physical studio designs and products that hold their ground against anything in the world today. The number of top engineers around the world who use Tatz’s talents to ensure their mixes accurately translate anywhere—be it streaming, on television or in movie theaters—continues to grow every year.

While Tatz often designs recording studios from the ground up, the PFS branding includes various pieces of hardware that are configured and “tuned” by his process, which combines physical properties, hardware design and system settings. Tatz can be hired to build a PFS studio from the ground up, but an existing studio can also bring him in to transform the facility into a PFS space through the integration of specific hardware that he configures via a combination of physics, software and his golden ears.

While the PFS process can be applied to any high-performance studio loudspeakers, Tatz had historically gravitated his clients toward the now-discontinued Dynaudio M1s because of their sound quality and their adaptability to the PFS process. The M1s were never perfect, but Tatz was convinced that they were the closest thing to perfection available on the market at the time.

Never one to settle for the status quo, Tatz began developing his own monitors. After finessing his dream over the years, the PFM UHD-1000 and PFM HD-1000 Professional Reference Monitors and PFM ICE Cube-12 Subwoofer are finally ready for public consumption. Tatz boasts that the monitors’ accelerated response times, phase linearity and tightly controlled mid-bass response result in high confidence, better and faster mixes, and increased enjoyment. My own extensive listening supports my assertion that this isn’t hype.

The Carl Tatz Interview, by Russ Long, Feb. 11, 2015

Carl Tatz Design PhantomFocus Monitor Optimization System (PFS), by Russ Long, Oct. 21, 2011

PhantomFocus PFM HD-1000 monitor
PhantomFocus PFM HD-1000 monitor

Both monitor models are passive and share nearly identical 8.2 x 17.8 x 12.2-inch cabinets with a built-in custom integrated IsoAcoustics pistonic decoupling system with a studio black luster finish. The UHD version, which is designed to be biamplified and features upgraded low-frequency drivers, weighs 24.1 pounds. The HD version is offered in two configurations: the PFM HD-1000A is actively biamped, requiring two channels of amplification per monitor, and the PFM HD-1000P features an internal Straight Wire passive crossover, requiring one channel of amplification per monitor.

The PFM ICE Cube-12 subwoofer is a 15.75-inch cube weighing 55 pounds. It incorporates a 700-watt amp that provides 120 dB maximum continuous SPL. It includes typical subwoofer functions including 40–140 Hz LPF with LFE Bypass and 0–180 Phase Switch. It’s important to note that both the PFM HD-1000 and UHD-1000 monitors are part of the PFS turnkey precision monitoring instrument ensemble and can only be purchased with the installation of a PhantomFocus System using the proprietary PFS tuning process.

I’ve spent a lot of time in PhantomFocus rooms around Nashville and my only complaint had been the rapid degradation of sound quality as you move away from the sweet spot. When you’re in the sweet spot, you’ll likely be experiencing the best monitoring situation of your career, but once you begin sliding one direction or another, the sound quickly deteriorates. I had always attributed this to PFS processing, but after spending time listening at The Upper Deck, one of the first studios to install PFM HD-1000 monitors, my tune has changed. The sweet spot of that room is still precise, but as you move in and out of the sweet spot, the transition is smooth, natural and subtle—an entirely different experience than listening in other PFS rooms with other monitor models.

The Ultimate Home Studio? Upper Deck Hits It Out of the Park, by Steve Harvey, Nov. 29, 2018

PhantomFocus PFM ICE Cube-12 Subwoofer
PhantomFocus PFM ICE Cube-12 Subwoofer

This was confirmed when I spent time listening at Doug Sarrett’s Uno Mas studio. Sarrett was an early adopter of the PhantomFocus System, and he updated the Tannoy Super Gold monitors that he’d been using for over two decades to the premium PFM UHD-1000 monitors; the results were stunning. The complete system has excellent imaging, pristine depth of field and accurate, extended low-frequency response regardless of monitoring volume. As is always the case with a PFS implementation, the speakers magically disappear, leaving a detailed sonic landscape. While the difference was subtle, the upgrade to the UHD version of the PFM monitor that I auditioned at Uno Mas in comparison to the HD version that I listened to at The Upper Deck was a definite improvement in both depth and clarity.

The new PhantomFocus monitors and subwoofer elevate monitoring accuracy to yet another level. Regardless of whether you are upgrading a current room or planning to build a space from the ground up, PFS along with PFM monitors and subwoofers should receive top consideration.

Carl Tatz Design •

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Behringer Model D Analog Synthesizer Review

Behringer Model D analog synthesizer

Behringer has started releasing classic true-analog synth designs at a rapid rate; the first one I encountered—and immediately purchased—was the Model D Analog Synthesizer. As an owner of an original Minimoog from the 1970s, I can attest that the Model D is for the most part a dead ringer, with some extra features above and beyond the original. It is, however, more like the Moog Minimoog reissue from 2016, with the inclusion of a low-frequency oscillator and a filter EG modulation source.

On a basic level, it features three voltage-controlled oscillators, filter selectable lowpass or highpass, classic 24 dB voltage-controlled filter with Emphasis, an overdrive circuit, USB-MIDI plus 5-pin DIN In and Thru, Low and High output 1/4-inch outs, and CV connectivity. The classic layout and simple signal path help make this the best bang for the buck I’ve encountered in this new era of inexpensive clones of the classic synths. The CV (control voltage) ins and outs that integrate with Eurorack and vintage synths is what really gives this compact unit a winning profile. Even the Minimoog sound charts book that was shipped with the old Moog Model Ds will fully translate and quickly allow you to get those classic sounds.

Music, Etc.: Craig Leon, by Jacques Sonyieux, May 23, 2019

The firmware updates that have been released throughout its short lifecycle have also been welcome. For me, pitch-bend range was the most useful, in order to closely emulate the original’s bend range. You can set the pitch bend range up to the amount of semitones you desire, including the common +2 default with most synths. True waveforms and noise sources, including the noise mod source, are fully implemented.

Real-World Review: Roland SE-02 Analog Synthesizer, by Bruce MacPherson, Nov. 1, 2019

The filter EG as a pitch modulation source is wonderful to see, and, of course, the ability to blend the sources simultaneously give this synth its incredible power. A High pass filter is included, as well as a hardwired “output to input” feedback circuit, which help adds cool harmonic distortion and saturation. The trusty, old A=440 sound source makes it easy to tune your three oscillators to unison with a slow, smooth phasing sound and big fat detuned unison, or to tune to intervals for parallel chords.

The Model D is a great educational tool that not only sounds great, but will give you a solid foundation for subtractive synthesis without breaking the bank.

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Techno giants, Ilian Tape and Surgeon kick off 2020 with three gems

Artist: Surgeon
Title: The Golden Sea
Label: Ilian Tape
Cat No: IT043
Released: Out Now!
Genre: Techno

If Ilian Tape hadn’t already cemented its place as one of the leading techno labels today, adding Surgeon to their already impressive list of artists doesn’t hurt the argument. For this author, the 2 seem like a good fit. They both produce and provide the world with a diverse blend of techno and electronica, and both can be as unpredictable as the other. There are moments on this Ep that sounds nothing like Surgeon, let alone anything you would expect to hear on Ilian Tape. Feeling more like US House sometimes than Birmingham or German techno.

With its fat, bouncing kick drums, mischievous basslines and warped acid hooks; sonically The Golden Sea EP feels like the logical evolution from the styles and sounds propagated in 2019’s, Rax Trax; a series of releases on Surgeons own, Dynamic Tension label and also from his 2018 full length, Luminosity Device.

The title track, ‘The Golden Sea’ bursts onto the scene with a thumping kick and a funky, darting bassline. Some warm, floating synth-action keeps everything relatively subdued; evoking more spring afternoon vibes than winter nights. This is not UK techno. In the end, a quality jacking number that lands somewhere in between Dan Curtin and Derrick Carter. Again on ‘Aqua Marina’, the energy feels more like tweaked, jacking acid house. With its Landstrumm style, burnt-out acid loop, splashy hats and choppy snares. With just alone, stark light of synth to guide your path. Tune! ‘Hostages of the Deep’ is the most straight-up techno track on offer, even harking back to Tony’s Force + Form days. Masterfully maintain tension with a very clean, clear and precise sonic arrangement. Shuffling itself into a pleasant state of organized chaos.

Either way, it’s a solid start to 2020 for both Surgeon and Ilian Tape.

The post Techno giants, Ilian Tape and Surgeon kick off 2020 with three gems appeared first on Decoded Magazine.

Original Resource is Decoded Magazine

Sonus Faber Olympica Nova III Loudspeaker Review

In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian hammered the Bahamas. That historic storm wrought a catastrophic death toll and an untold amount of suffering. I can only wish the survivors the speediest of recoveries for what was (hopefully) a once in a generation disaster. If you can afford to, please donate funds to any of the entities [...]

Original Resource is NOVO Audio and Technology Magazine

NORDOST QRT Power Products Review. Part 2 of 3: QKORE Ground Unit and QKORE Wires

Perhaps you have been waiting for this second installment in my Nordost QRT Power Products Series review. Yes, this is Part 2 but who says sequels can’t be just as exciting? Afterall, there was Aliens and The Empire Strikes Back, not to forget The Dark Knight. Anyone disagree…? And, now it’s time for our second [...]

Original Resource is NOVO Audio and Technology Magazine

Dynamique Audio Shadow 2 Interconnects, Power Cords, & Speaker Cables Review

Dynamique Audio’s Shadow 2 Cable Review The game of cable one-upmanship seems to be never ending. Perceived value for money in anything is, of course, a personal thing. While some drooling audio dorks might see a power cable with a $20K USD price as a “bargain”, for most audiophiles, spending $100,000 USD on a cable [...]

Original Resource is NOVO Audio and Technology Magazine