Planet Mu

Artist:Venetian Snares
Title:Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett
Label:Planet Mu
This 2005 album has continually been one of the top sellers in Planet Mu's digital catalogue, and after many requests is now being returned to print in the physical realm. Inspired by a journey to Hungary, the album title and all of the track names are in Hungarian; 'Rossz Csillag Alatt Szuletett' translates as 'Born Under A Bad Star', a Hungarian expression meaning "cursed from birth." Stylistically, the album consists of classical strings and brass combined with Venetian Snares' precise breakbeats, sampling heavily from composers such as Bartok, Stravinsky, Mahler, Paganini, Elgar, and Prokofiev. The concept of the album came when the artist imagined himself as a pigeon on Budapest's Kiralyi Palota. Its third track 'Ongyilkos Vasarnap' is a version of the song 'Szomoru Vasarnap' ('Gloomy Sunday') by Hungarian composer Rezso Seress, which has been referred to as the Hungarian suicide song. According to urban legend, Seress's song has inspired many suicides, including that of his fiancee. Allmusic guide says "typically uncompromising and unsettling, although it is certainly constructed with great technical skill and maintains an abrasive beauty throughout. The result is a dynamic musical and spiritual tension - and an awesome listening experience for those who can handle the strong stuff". Venetian Snares says "These are love songs and grief songs".
Artist:Keep Shelly In Athens
Title:Campus Martius EP
Label:Planet Mu
Greek duo Keep Shelly In Athens' first EP for Planet Mu is in keeping with a consistent level of odd synth-pop that the label has released from Tropics to Vezelay, and Heterotic to Solar Bears. They first came to the label's attention with their remix of Solar Bears 'Cub', an awesome re-imagining of the track from SB's 'She Was Coloured In' album. The remix is a monumental slice of cold but blissful synth pop, with stadium-sized reverbs and punched-in repetitive vocals over rumbling guitars and punchy drums. 'The Chains' has all the off-key atmosphere of an Italian horror film soundtrack with the band's female singer intoning a melody that could come from a 'Violator'-era Depeche Mode song. The whole song breaks down towards the end into an intense finale. The EP's title track 'Campus Martius' has a giant humming bassline, with electronic drums scratching away like insects flying at windows, as a gentle piano line ripples over the top painting a feeling of airy pleasure while vocal samples drop a melody at altered pitches in a scene of tentative bliss. Finally, 'Struggle With Yourself' pits Sarah's raw singing over a weird acidic bassline that could easily sound at home on a Coil record along with loose guitar strums, before the track breaks into light spoken word and angelic vocals, finishing off as it started, but with a stark warning.
Artist:Dream Continuum
Title:Reworkz EP
Label:Planet Mu
This three track EP from the aptly named Dream Continuum is a collaboration between Travis Stewart a.k.a. Machinedrum and Jim Coles a.k.a. Om Unit, who was the mind behind the Philip D Kick 'footwork jungle' tracks in 2011. The meeting came about when Travis and Jim realised they were working in parallel on the same concept of finding the sweet spot between mid-90's euphoric jungle and footwork, so naturally they set about working out how to find it together. The 'Reworkz EP' moves backwards and forwards in time with 'Be Free' treating jungle's diva samples with footwork pitch bending and repetition while adding huge uplifting chords that capture the euphoria of rave perfectly. It's then laid over tough, rolling 808 kicks and snares at 160bpm with a carpet of pumping, rhythmic sub-bass resulting in a new hybrid that is both fresh and energetic. 'Give A Lil Luv' is, if anything, even more euphoric, like rolling thunder with an intense, melodic use of samples and chord stabs with metallic breaks building into a spiky mesh of rhythms. On side B 'Set it' draws classic dancehall, soul and reggae samples across a perfect mix of fast juke cymbals and jungle amens, each part casually camouflaging the other, tempering footwork's sometimes intimidating sparseness and filling it with rich, warm and sincere rave energy.
Artist:Kuedo
Title:Severant (LP + free MP3 download code)
Label:Planet Mu
On his debut long-player 'Severant', Jamie Teasdale aka Kuedo has made an album of dreamlike music, loaded with his own preoccupations with futurism and escapism, and one that's very different from his musical past as one half of Vex'd. With his intentions re-evaluated for the making of this album, his process to capture them has evolved to a more automatic way of creating tracks, cutting back on the endless technical options available to the modern producer and rendering them at a quicker pace to reveal a lighter, more truthful music, as he puts it: "On the side of modernism". In terms of feeling, 'Severant' explores the space between the detached world of the imagination and the real-time world; that feeling of coming out of a daydream, on the edge of the drift from the day-to-day grind. Jamie says of this moment "As reality shapes imagination and escapism affects your choices in the real world, there is a strange relational loop between the two and the space in between the two. There's a bitter sweetness in that gap, it has a certain emotive quality, kind of in between being and non-being". Again, musically 'Severant' is inspired by related themes. It sounds as if it's in a sweet spot between the emotive, innately futurist synth soundtracks of Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, borne from a time when the very idea of futurism was more prevalent, in combination with musical ideas and inspiration from the emotionally ambivalent, materialist fantasies of 'coke rap' such as The Clipse. Rhythmically the record is influenced by what Jamie calls "the two ultra modern musics of modern times", footwork from Chicago, which Planet Mu has explored in depth on its recent releases, and again the drum machine grids of coke rap. Jamie says "I wanted to capture a really futurist sentiment, kind of melancholy and grand luminescent, so I used the instrument that most evokes that for me - that sweeping Vangelis brass sound." And on coke rap he talks about the emotional "half being" of the music, the energetically charged, detached ambivalence of the MCs, and the admission that the MCs could be "fantasising without admitting to doing so." The title 'Severant' refers to stark changes of circumstances in Jamie's life when the album was made and the music works strangely like scenes from a film: tracks are concise and direct and one of the albums great and unusual strengths is that on repeated listens different songs rise to the surface and the album repeatedly changes and develops in the listeners ears and mind.
Artist:Tropics (LP + free MP3 download code)
Title:Parodia Flare
Label:Planet Mu
Tropics is Chris Ward, a British producer and multi-instrumentalist in his early 20s who came to Planet Mu's attention last year. During the time the label signed and released his first single 'Soft Vision', his early unreleased tracks and remixes were being given attention from the likes of Pitchfork and others, so they knew they were on to something special. Since that time things have moved on. He's released two singles and the synth-pop of his early tracks has evolved into a more substantial and personal sound on this, his debut album. 'Parodia Flare' features Chris as a multi-instrumental auteur, playing drums, guitar, and a range of synths and electronic boxes, as well as singing on these songs. Coming from a family where music was always played, it made sense as a musician for Chris to act almost as a conduit by wiring the sounds he enjoyed growing up with into his own creations. The music he makes weaves vintage sounds, principally the Rhodes keyboard - an instrument most associated with Jazz Fusion - alongside banks of old synths, software and guitars, live drums and electric bass. Tropics is a suitable name for Chris' music as each song is like a warm analogue jungle of sounds, drawn into focus by his unrefined singing voice and his knack for a lush melody. Given that the album was recorded in a walk-in wardrobe at home, the steamy heat that it gives off is a testament to his imagination. The opening short 'Navajo' sets the scene with atmospheric clouds of reverbed chords and electric guitar, quickly followed by recent single 'Mouves' with its gently sung verses disappearing into clouds of echoey Rhodes chords and floating synths with low-slung New Order-esque bass and soft drums keeping the track in shape. Next up 'Parodia Flare' majestically stretches shimmering keyboard tones and a light guitar over a tight bass and drums, gently teasing out the serene atmosphere. 'Going Back' features a keyboard refrain borrowed from a 70s jazz fusion track, with a low bass and Chris snowy voice cutting through the middle of phased guitars. 'Wear Out' is the morning after, sounding like an exhausted take on late period Beatles, with a lolloping drum beat and horns that sound like they're drunk, interrupted by shimmering marimbas while cold keys screech in the background. 'Celebrate', revised for the album from its original 12" incarnation, is a vortex of aerial dub, with echoes and reverbs layering and looping over a very minimal drum and sub-bass, the whole track moving in glorious slow motion. 'Figures', meanwhile, delicately projects Chris' whispered vocals o nto a chord borrowed from late 80s Detroit techno, inside a chilly electronic atmosphere that gradually breaks into an 80s electro-funk bassline. 'Telassar' is a soft focus 80s synth epic, while 'Playgrounds' is more upbeat, with lyrics remembering the past. 'After Visiting' is made out of a strange airy atmosphere, full of tiny dropped-in details and smudged synths stretched over minimal drum pads borrowed from dubstep, while 'Sapphire' is based around a repeating piano refrain, guitar, sax and vocals. Final track 'On The Move' sounds like prime Chicago post rock but with the Mizell brothers on production, making a musical mix that tidily book-ends the album.
Artist:Kuedo
Title:Videowave EP
Label:Planet Mu
The 'Videowave EP' is an “End of Phase One” sign-off for Kuedo, aka Jamie Teasdale, formerly of the influential production duo Vex'd. After two brilliant and very well received EPs, this is almost an addendum before a change in style with his forthcoming album. Collected together here are the best of his remaining original tracks from the first phase, together with remixes by friends of three tracks from his last EP 'Dream Sequence'. 'Take Off Remix' was originally conceived in 2009 as a remix of Slugabed, but it doesn't have much of the original left in it, so Slugabed has kindly let him use it as his own track. It's a cosmic attack of spiralling, flickering arpeggios and aerial synth lines over crashing half-step drums. Illum Sphere remakes 'Starfox' by laying it out with warm orchestral strings and soft bleeps, making an incredibly inviting and gentle version. Chris Clark from Warp takes 'Glow' and turns it into a weightless symphony with long spaces, held together with gas-like drones in complex arrangements. 'Shutter Light Girl' is remixed by Heterotic (aka Mike Paradinas & Lara Rix-Martin), bathed in the washed out, gently pulsing and bending synths of the kind you might find accompanying the suggestive cut-aways of an 80s soft porn VHS. Lastly 'Oh' is a mini anthem that mixes boom bap drums and claps with a lush upbeat synth melody that walks the fine line between melodic and abstract, previewing the forthcoming material, but also signing-off on his original hip hop sound and finishing the EP in triumphant form.
Artist:Floating Points
Title:J&W Beat
Label:Planet Mu
First released in July 2009, this one has been unavailable for the better part of a year, but you still keep asking for it, so here it comes again. When this came out, Floating Points' only previous release had been a 7" on their own Eglo label, but already they had developed a strong reputation as a production unit to watch. This 12" delivers two slices of psychedelic soul and synthfunk squiggles, underpinned by squashed up 2-step rhythms and compressed hip hop drums, easily on level terms with the likes of Hud Mo or Mike Slott.
Artist:Swindle
Title:Airmiles
Label:Planet Mu
Londoner Swindle is one of the most versatile and exciting producers to emerge over the past few years, taking influences from grime and funky to create a new synthed-out funk. His CV reads like a who's who of the UK MC scene, having worked with Chipmunk, Roll Deep, Asher D & Mutya Buena, Double S, No Lay and more. His profile has been on a steady upward swing since the start of the year thanks to his well-received releases on Butterz, but Swindle is no one trick pony though and feels equally at home building UK funky tracks that evoke the soulful sounds of Masters At Work but which at the same time totally destroy dancefloors with pulsating basstones, as this mid 2010 outing for Planet Mu ably attests. The energetic lead track 'Airmiles' was hammered on 1Xtra and Rinse FM by Mistajam, Target Brackles and Oneman when first released, and the rest of the EP doesn't let up either, with the twisting bass tones of 'Daredevil', and the hyperfunk of 'Coffee' among the highlights.
Artist:Falty DL
Title:Phreqaflex
Label:Planet Mu
Phreqaflex' is the first of two 2010 EPs which show Falty DL apply his sound and signatures to two older types of music; in this case, 2-Step. The three tracks here are as tough as hell, built for tearing up dancefloors, which make them a step away from Falty's previous Planet Mu releases. The bold 'Phreqaflex' has keyboard stabs, shuffling drums and glassy pads while 'Because You' uses triggered samples that fade and warp into the background over stormy chords, a huge bassline and a stop start melody backed by razor sharp drums. Last but by no means least is 'My Friends Will Always Say...', the most experimental and poppy track on the EP with a straightforward sampled melody line over off-key chords and worldless vocal lines slipping in and out of the track, while all kinds of details fight for attention in the mix.
Artist:Solar Bears
Title:Inner Sunshine
Label:Planet Mu
Solar Bears' music is a many-faceted soundworld that hangs together through a mix of the rich colours of hip hop inflected analogue electronica with touches of the shimmering neon synths of late 70s / early 80s Kosmiche music. It's warm and organic with a languid, pastoral grace that intertwines acoustic and rock instruments with electronics. Their tracks twist through prog rock's structures and sounds, occasionally making sharp turns into noisier, tense post rock territory. Check the way 'Trans Waterfall' gently builds from its synth lead melody through passages of tense guitar building into gentle acoustic guitars and flutes. Or the way 'Photo Negative Living' rolls along dreamily on a 4/4 beat before the slicing guitar riffs crash in. This is gorgeous stuff. On Side B, 'Crystalline' gets a remix by Letherette which deconstructs the original and spins it through a head nodding hip hop remix, whilst Lone gives 'Twin Stars' a pulsing, atmospheric, upbeat Detroit techno influenced rub.