V/A Manipulation Replication compiled by Dj Archive & Dj Glacial [MMD Records & Replicant Records]
Cover by Scorb: https://f1.bcbits.com/img/a1815899428_10.jpg
Mastering by Scorb @ TRK Mastering
This is possibly the most ambitious review I have ever attempted. It takes a certain kind of dedication to sit down and put your mind to reviewing a release, listening again and again to each track all the while penning down your thoughts. It's a grueling process and there have been many releases where I have just run out of patience despite all my best intentions. Now multiply that times 2 and what you have here is a Double CD release review.
So what drove me to take on this madness? Well I am glad you asked. Every year there are a few releases that literally leave you with a tingly excited feeling in your stomach. It causes sleepless nights and rampant abuse of soundcloud samples, it leaves you in a hyper caffeine fuelled daze while waiting for what seems like an eternity until release date.
All good things come in time they said... To the patient go the spoils of war... Well Djs Archive and Glacial - head honchos at MMD Records (South Africa) and Replicant Records (Australia) might just have delivered a release that backs up these popular sayings; their magnum opus - Manipulation Replication has finally landed!
Alright, now that I have that out of the way lets see how this release stacks up.
1. Artifakt vs Lost N Found - Checkmate (Lost N Found Live Version) [140 BPM]: So this track has a lot of history behind it. Artifakt - one of the founding members of the legendary Timecode Records, and Lost N Found - a bonafied legend amongst the 2nd wave of South African full on/twilight stars - released this collaboration originally in 2008. I didn't really dig the original tune, maybe my tastes then had not matured or maybe 140 was too slow for me, but in any case I was skeptical to hear what this live version had to offer. First was definitely the right place for this track, there is no rushing this beat - it winds and grooves into place at it's own pace; and when the bass rolls forward in full steam - it means business. I can recognize some of the Artifakt sounds the eery atmospheres and melodies and sometimes downright strange FX. The Lost N Found goodness is also very evident given that this is his version of the track his distinctive melodic leads and distorted whips, and the ever changing groovy bass line. What I have come to appreciate over many listens is just how damn crisp this track sounds the level of production is unparalleled. Solid start here. 8/10.
2. Rezonanc3 - Industry [143 BPM]: Rezonanc3 is the collaborative project of well-known Mexican acts - Z3RO (half of Speedball) and Remove. This eases the CD forward into a dark and apocalyptic realm. Picture a cerebral trip, with aggressive leads and distorted robo voices. As with their other releases - this track has a lot of techno influences, it is dark, epic and packs one hell of a punch! You can hear each artist lend their talents to the track in a well thought out manner - whether it be Remove's electric leads or Z3RO's no bullshit basslines. Its a real testament as to how well these guys work together. The acid factor on this track is high and the sequencing of loopy mental sounds, coupled with the electric leads (especially those demented leads towards the latter half of the track) is just sublime. This track leaves me deeply disturbed, and grinning like an idiot. I love it . 8/10.
3. Rabdom L - Souls [146 BPM]: Rabdom L (South Africa) is amongst the founding fathers of Timecode records, and if you haven't noticed - he is one acts that consistently delivers. His last EP "Datasphere" on Replicant Records was hands down one of the best releases of 2014 and will be one that I happily play for many years to come. Following up that was his mind blowing remix to Twisted System's "Business Hippie" on Fractal Records' "Fractal Alliance". If these tracks were anything to go by, "Souls" is all but guaranteed to knock your socks off. And yes - it does that and much more. With this track the CDs insane factor definitely kicks in. The intense rhythms and aggressive leads - all magically entwined with these beautiful melodies that only Rabdom L can pull off stays true to the Timecode sound. The track is wonderfully mature and well thought out; it does a great job at completely immersing listeners with an ever evolving story where the melodies never get repetitive and always change in a fluid manner. This track also has a lot of little start/stops, something that I have noted a lot more of in Rabdom Ls recent works. I am not sure if it is everyones cup of tea but I think it goes well given how raw and aggressive his percussions can be. This one is a sure shot to be played across festivals/dance floors/ bat mitzvah's worldwide. This track is a beauty, and if you didnt already know it Rabdom L is definitely the king! 9/10.
4. Scorb vs Octagona - Cylindroid [145 BPM]: Having raised the energy level with last track, we have another legend - Scorb (UK) - pitching in his first contribution to this release alongside Octagona (UK). This is the latter project's first release, but don't let that fool you - he is also one half of the Antispin (UK) duo, whose relentless pursuit of the classic Ambivalent Records/Trick Records sound has given birth to many a monster. Scorb is amongst the most versatile acts out there - he has given us beautiful melodies, angry stompers, and deep downright creepy stories. This track falls in the latter category - from the very get go you know this is going to be a relentless journey. What really strikes me is the way these 2 crazy Englishmen wonderfully incorporate the use of atmospherics and soundscapes - a great example of the idea that less is more. This track terrorizes and whips itself forward sparing no one - an effective weapon to deal with dance floor zombies and howling werewolves. I especially love the organic FX they use, they are unique and remind of what we have heard in the past from Scorbs alter ego Phibian - especially the spiraling leads around the middle of the track. The culmination of this track is a near maniacal and demented meltdown of melody that would make the Addam's family proud. I initially did not like this track very much, but after many listens its sinister cerebral trip has won my stomping stamp of approval. 8/10.
5. Shehoor - Replicant Device [147 BPM]: Next up we have Shehoor (France) lending their special brand of demented psytrance to the CD. For those of you who haven't heard these guys before, well you should really do yourself a favor and check their stuff out. Raw, edgy, and powerful - their music is not for the faint of heart and is characterized by the use of metallic leads and deep atmospheres. On that note, this track does a wonderful job of taking that creepy spooky feeling from the previous track forward. At 147 BPM it also raises the energy levels, and where I was allowed to lose myself in my thoughts a little while listening to the earlier track - this track is more structured and engaging in its approach to madness. The growling melodies accompanied with the low rumbling bass line hooks listeners from the very first beat. The track unfolds itself in a mature manner, never letting you lose attention. Imagine a big mean kid just screaming and demanding your undivided attention well replace the kid with a growling monster and what you have then is the Replicant Device. A worthy follow up to their last release, "Kamaitachi" on MMD's "Banzai" - this track is bound to be a favorite for many. 8/10.
6. Wired vs Shuumat Plan 9 [147 BPM]: The high energy madness introduced earlier, now continues in the trusted hands of Portuguese mad men Wired (aka half of Sinful Reactions) and Shuumat - both known for their hi-tech sound. In this case these guys dont waste any time, and now any kind of introspective vibes that the previous tunes kept alive have been dropped. Its time for battle royale! These guys attack the senses through a series of whip/metallic leads that only gets more ruthless and demented the longer you listen. Where this track gets interesting is towards its final build up, which explodes in a ruthless ball of energy with bass line changes that will leave you smiling and jumping with joy. I will be honest, I find most act hi-tech acts these days try too hard and in this pursuit they end up just being noisy for the sake of being noisy losing sight of the main aim delivering something engaging, energetic and full of fun. Fortunately for us these guys deliver the goods! 8/10.
7. Zion Linguist Trust me [148 BPM]: Zion Linguist is making a comeback after taking a hiatus for a few years. As one of the founders of MMD records it is only fitting to have him feature on this release. The BPM level is raised yet one more notch as this mecha beasty wastes no time to start rolling full steam ahead. Zion Linguist may have been out for a while but he has not lost his signature sound. This beast is unrelenting, the bass line hums like a finely tuned machine, and the story is glitchy, screechy and damn unnerving. Trust is the last thing it evokes. Zion Linguist dwells an interesting space between foresty vibes the likes of expected from Bom Shanka records, while staying true to his own sound. All in all though, this is the weakest offering yet in my opinion. I have never really been too fond of Zion Linguists tunes but hey, if you are a fan of his older work then fear not! This track is for you. 6/10.
8. Tryambaka Predator Mode [146 BPM]: So ever since I heard the short sample of this track many months ago I have been eagerly awaiting its release. Tryambakas solid EP Rule of Two on Global Army earlier this year only served to raise the expectations even more. With time his style has only gotten more refined, clean and the melodies more beautiful. Take this winning combination and add samples of Bain from Batman to the mix and what you have in your hands is Predator Mode! The bass line and percussions are his signature hypnotic sound, reminded me a lot of Apprentice of the last EP. What I have almost admired about Tryambaka are his abilities as a story teller, and this track is no different. It evolves wonderfully, with the melodies lending it an almost opera like feeling especially towards the middle of the track. The best part is towards the final climax when all sense of control gives way to reckless abandon and the melodies just come pouring out! Another solid track from Tryamabaka. 9/10.
9. Deviant Species March of Cephalopians [144 BPM]: To finish CD 1, we have a true legend Deviant Species! Over the years this elusive producer has only ever released on a handful of labels regularly, Ambivalent Records first, and now Trick Music. Seeing him have a track featured here gives me hope that perhaps, just perhaps, well see more releases from him in the future. Now before we continue, I had to look up what a Cephalopian was. Unsurprisingly, and you would understand more if you had seen some of the artwork on older Deviant Species releases as well as the fact that he has a side project with Scorb called Squid Inc. Cephalopod is basically the class of mollusks which comprise of squid, octopus, etc. Well now that piece of trivia is out of the way, lets dig in! Much like other Deviant Species tracks this is very minimal and takes the approach of less is more. Kind of feels like a sonic tentacle tickling my brain. It builds at a steady pace, with a spacey vibe to it. Its always leaves a sense of foreboding, that that the chaos is going to ensue at any moment but it does not! This is definitely a more cerebral track and it bounces about with ominous stabs and well-timed deep atmos that only made me look over my shoulder like 10 times. Not the most of engaging but it does a good job of finishing up things, albeit on a creepy note. 7/10.
Oh boy that was only 1 CD! And that is already 3 whole pages! I must be going crazy well what the hell forward and onward!
1. Antispin Tentacle [144 BPM]: Picking up where Deviant Species we have new kids (well relative to Deviant Species) on the block Antispin! These guys have been pushing their polished version of the Ambivalent Trick sound since 2010, and I think say this for a lot of people when I say that it has been a pure joy! Where the last track was minimal yet rough around the edges, this one is a polished well-oiled beat machine. Fuller bass line, and spacious atmospheres with an almost tangible sense of electricity in the air this track is going to be a sure shot for djs and parties everywhere. Production value on this is very high and they do an awesome job of working in melodies and atmospherics together to create something very cinematic and towards the end, a spiral of madness! Nice way to open CD 2. 8/10.
2. Iron Assault The Haunting [145 BPM]: Iron Assault is the combined of effort of Iron Lotus aka Critical Mass and Sonic Assault from South Africa. Both have been on the scene a few years now, and their releases are pretty consistent in delivering quality twilight music with haunting melodies. Their last 2 releases, Insane Games and Mental Diagnosis were huge! So lets see how The Haunting stacks up. I have always felt that these 2 have great chemistry together, where Iron Lotus brings his melodic touch to the darker deeper sounds that Sonic Assault specializes in. This track is no different, and has a nice balance between melodic and heavier elements. Starting off on a dirty groovy trot from the get go that this track means some serious business, but it teases and winds and plays around until the 6th and 7th minute when shit really gets serious. But when it gets down and dirty it will leave you smiling and grinning like an idiot. This is some grade A stuff! 9/10.
3. Scorb & Deviant Species Stromatolite [145 BPM]: So we have these 2 legends coming around for their 2nd appearance on this CD. A quick trip to Wikipedia tells me that Stromatolite is a kind of fossil formation. I am learning so much today . This one has a seriously delicious bass line that I can only describe as Scorby goodness. Again on the minimal side, but it does remind me of an angry yelling giant of some sort. Maybe its that fat bass line, or the plain outrageous leads but this is one chunky monster that was meant for some serious dance floor mayhem. And these two guys know it, the track proceeds to evolve in a fun and in your face way always keeping the tension on the upswing, and never letting up. The leads only get more over the top, and more outrageous! This one is another cerebral trip the story not so obvious and it might not be everyones cup of tea, but that bass alone had me hooked from the get go. 7/10.
4. EMP The Cake Is a Lie [148 BPM]: Next we have South African act EMP. He has been around the scene for a while now, albeit not releasing as often. He also recently started a collaboration with Rubix Qube called Mad Science which if I am to understand correctly, has been causing many a wave in the South African party scene. At 148 BPM, this one definitely takes things up a notch. The bass line is pretty damn fat and groovy and does a good job taking over from where the previous track left off. It is quite reminiscent of older Rubix Qube tracks in my opinion especially the outrageous bass line. As is his signature sound, the track has nice melodic hooks which keep listeners hooked in. The bass line could benefit some with more variation but the work on the melodies helps keep the story interesting. All in all though, the track spends too much time and energy building and winding without a space for the melodies to really speak and sell the story. I do enjoy the squelchy melodies towards the end but it was not enough to save this one in my opinion. 6/10.
5. Karma Crop Split the Atom [147 BPM]: This is the super powered duo of Sidhartha and Khopat the all-stars hailing from Portugal. I have always enjoyed the work these two put out individually and together. This track was actually also featured on Sidharthas last album Timeless Relics. It is a pity that they have since parted ways on the Karma Crop project now but if this is the last we here from this project, then its a fitting farewell. At 147 BPM this beast leaves no prisoners behind. From the get go you know that this track is meant for some serious damage. It has this vibe of just pure madness that flashes from time to time especially the acid tinged spiraling leads they use. This track is an ever changing mystery and the evolution in story is a joy to behold. What I especially enjoy is that amidst all the dementia these guys evoke a catchy and dare I say beautiful melody. Both Khopat and Sidhartha are masters of their art and I have always thought their take on the whole hi-tech sound has always been the most enjoyable and true to the original spirit of that genre - back to the early 3D Vision days, when it was all about high intensity energy driven music with awe inspiring melodies. Kudos guys! I will miss you guys working together 9/10.
6. EarWorm Evolving Cycle [148 BPM]: Following suit is Israeli maestro EarWorm. He has been around the scene for a long time now, first signed with 3D Vision and now signed with Timecode records. Known for crisp production, groovy beats with deep twilight melodies EarWorm for me always represents mature well thought tracks. This track is no different. At 148 BPM its likely the fastest track I have ever heard from him, and for sure among the most energetic tunes. In that respect, this track definitely keeps adrenaline levels going. The spacey melodies are a pure joy to hear and puts me in the mind of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The bass line is unrelenting and you can tell a lot of time has been invested in thinking the evolution of track through. The melodies around 4.33 are magical, and the sequencing of the varied melodic elements is worthy of admiration. All in all this is another stellar track from EarWorm. 9/10.
7. Technicolor Heisenberg [144 BPM]: Technicolor is the combined project of South Africans Deliriant and Mad Piper. With a number of EPs and numerous singles from their individual and combined projects, these guys are no strangers to the scene. Looking at the 144 BPM count, you might be tempted to think that the CD is taking it easy with this one. You cannot be more wrong! This is a tightly written groover with a snazzy hit hat arrangement. After having heard so much of Deliriants last album The Journey this is a nice change in sound from him. You can very much here those signature leads of his, and on the whole the track has a lot of fun stuff going on to make it memorable and enjoyable. The Breaking Bad samples are inevitable and to fans of the show are a bonus! The section with the tripples is fun although sometimes I feel like maybe that whole trick is overplayed these days. These guys pull it off rather tastefully none the less. I look forward to hearing this on a BIG BIG rig sometime soon 8/10.
8. Rubix Qube Higher Frequency [143 BPM]: Rubix Qube is amongst my favorite producers from South Africa. Among the second generation of twilight acts from South Africa he has always maintained a unique sound with fat grooves and roaring leads/melodies. At 143 BPM, the counts gone still lower but you would have no idea having heard the rock solid bass line this track comes packed with. The track evolves and opens up at its own pace, with bass line changes that are interesting and upbeat. Around 3.15/3.20 mark, we are treated to a feast of Rubix Qube goodness. The leads are chopped, sliced, diced and sequenced using the signature Rubix touch and yet this track is still something new and unique. I think its the way it keeps itself in check where the focus is on uplifting feelings and not so much on the squelchy brand of mayhem we are normally accustomed to from Rubix Qube. Well that notion only lasts till the 6th minute, at which point a less demented version of Rubix Qube erupts. When I first heard this track I did not really like it. But having heard it loud and few more times, it has certainly grown on me and its refreshing to see Rubix Qube do something different, yet true to his style here. 8/10.
9. Orca vs Iliuchina Perfect Drug [144 BPM]: And we are finally here, the final track of this long long journey. And to finish things off, we have two well-known names from Israel coming together for a first time collaboration. Orca has been changing his style for some time now moving away from his older aggressive sound to something different, whereas Iliuchina has been maturing her aggressive and deep brand of twilight psytrance so this was bound to be interesting from its very conception. At 144 BPM, we are looking to going go out with a bang and the bass line does not miss a single step here. The track story evolves at a nice even pace, and some nice atmospheric pads are used to lend a nice warm sound. I am not a big fan of the Perfect Drug samples but thankfully it isnt used to the point of annoyance.What I also like is the way that the bass line is changed up in a way to drive home the feelings the melodies evoke. The bit around 5:00 is a pure joy with a heavily processed voice sample leading to the main melody of the track. These two have a very good thing going on between them and I hope they find more studio time together in the future Without further access to any more Perfect Drug samples! All in all though, this is a nice way to end this epic ride. Rock. Solid. 8/10.
What year is it? I swear I started writing this in 2015 sometime but I fear it is now at least 2020 . Wait its still 2015?! Damn time flies hehe. On a serious note, this has been a most certainly daunting task but its a testament to the quality of music here on how quickly you make it through 155 minutes of sonic mayhem with 18 blasting twilight tracks! To answer the first question on everyones mind was this release worth the long long wait? Yes - absolutely. I would consider it a great way to introduce a newbie to the variety of sounds present in the night time / twilight psytrance spectrum. It is very evident Glacial and Archive have put a lot ofthought, love and effort into this release and in the end this has culminated into a very special release. On an additional note, I must express my immense respect for Scorb whose contributions to this release are numerous and significant asides from his 2 tracks here, he is also the mastering engineer for this release as wellas responsible for the sick artwork.
To finish off things, I will end this review on a quick and easy note if you are even remotely entertaining the idea of checking this release out then do it! Helldo it and buy it and make sure to buy an extra copy just in case the first is stolen, because it is going to be the crown jewel of your CD collection for a VERY long time to come.
CD 1: 2, 3, 4, 5, 8
CD2: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
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