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Martian Arts - Giant Locusts [TIP Records]

How would you rate this release?  

12 members have voted

  1. 1. How would you rate this release?

    • 5/5 - a future classic, a must have for everybody
      4
    • 4/5 - very good, a must have for fans of sub-genre
      3
    • 3/5 - adequate, typical release for the sub-genre
      5
    • 2/5 - poor, uneven, let down by technical issues
      0
    • 1/5 - avoid at all cost
      0


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antic604    470

[DISCLAIMER] I received the .wav files prior to the release from Nectarios for review, but I also ordered my own copy from Arabesque. I encourage you do the same! :)

 

tip1cd819_b.jpg

 

Track list

 

01. Martian Arts - Dali Mountains

02. Martian Arts & Eat Static - Giant Locusts

03. Martian Arts & Radical Frequencies - There Is No Time

04. Martian Arts - Assagao

05. Martian Arts - Velos

06. The Rave Commission - Skunk Funk

07. Martian Arts - Discrete Circuit

08. Martian Arts & Ingrained Instincts - Downward Dog

09. Martian Arts - We Get Out

 

Review

 

Full-on music has always been there within the wider psychedelic trance genre, as a bridge between the “lighter” styles of prog, morning and goa; and the “darker” ones: forest, hi-tech, darkpsy. Over the years that sub-genre took a lot of shapes and forms, but the common denominator was constant: fast tempo, hard sounds, sparse - but present - melodic content and focus on short riffs and patterns. For my personal taste, the British brand of full-on - which I always conveniently labelled just as “true psychedelic trance” - was ticking the most boxes: it was full of funky grooves, acid lines, sonic experiments and …humour! Check back the releases of Green Nuns, Cosmosis from their Synergy / Intergalactic years, OOOD / Voice of Cod, early EVP or Sean ‘Process’ Williams sound design to see what I mean. Today’s full-on either borders on darkpsy (e.g. releases from Sangoma, Wildthings, Bom Shanka), gets dangerously close to prog or ‘normal’ melodic trance (e.g. Dacru, Ovnimoon) or turned itself into a homogeneous pulp, with no redeeming character (Nano Rec.).

 

It was refreshing then, to find out that Nectarios Meidanis aka Martian Arts will finally release an album on TIP Records! Those that followed his career, will likely remember him from two free full-lengths on Ektoplazm as Disco Hooligans (with Jordan Bonyo) released in 2009 and 2010 and over the last 6 years numerous collaborations with the likes of Eat Static, Manmademan and others. His sound fills exactly the gap in today's full-on landscape: it's charmingly funky, groovy and contains the right amount of good melodic riffs, to balance the light and the dark. For those in-the-know there’s an additional twist, because Nectarios is a huge fan of analog modular synths and is eagerly incorporating those sounds in his music, making it very alive, fluid, organic and at the same time otherworldly alien and bizarre. Lots of artist try to recreate that sound via digital software, but there's simply no faking it - the sound of electrons flowing through circuits, tamed by analog gates, shaped by self-oscillating filters and orchestrated by voltage-controlled sequencers is like no other. There's chaos and randomness, there's imperfections and there's life.

 

The album doesn't seem to have any main theme or thread, making it more of a collection of dance(able) tunes - some are more melodic, some are slightly more focused on sound experimentations, but all of them are of very high caliber: usually start with beat and ‘chaotic’ analog sequences, leading into some melodic riffs - either in-your-face or very vague, almost subsurface. In contrast to the British artists I mentioned earlier, it's not very acidic and instead relies more on the scratchy, skipping and stuttering sounds and effects to build the tension. It sounds very cybernetic, but because of the analog gear it's also very gentle, smooth and pleasant, unlike a lot of ear-drilling digital-only music out there. The melodic bits are really well done as well - short and concise (it not goa-trance by any means), but add a lot of lushness to the otherwise aggressive music and take advantage of the hardware, i.e. are cleverly modulated over time, emerge organically from the sonic chaos, are chopped up mercilessly, but beautifully. The music is also varied in terms of feeling and texture - after 2-3 listens I could already tell the tracks apart, which nowadays is rare and praiseworthy.

 

Is it perfect? Not quite - sometimes the arrangements do not work to their fullest and the momentum / energy is lost in second half or last third, other times some sounds are not fully in tune with the rest (an inherent beauty and curse of analog circuitry…). But it's really, REALLY damn close! Favourite tracks? Difficult to tell, because they're all very good, but to my taste “There Is No Time”, “Skunk Funk”, “Velos”, “Discrete Circuit” and "Downward Dog" take the cake for being the closest to that old-school trippiness of Cosmosis & Green Nuns, with just perfect balance between sonic experimentation, twisted acid lines, patchwork-y melodic riffs and funk. The (slight) let downs? Probably “Dali Mountains” and “Assagao” for offloading their - otherwise awesome! - stuff a bit too early and then meandering aimlessly until the end (they’d be perfect at 6:00 duration). Similarly, the titular “Giant Locusts” with Eat Static while instantly recognisable from the lumbering, mechanical and droning acid-housey stabs; seems slightly unfocused - neither here nor there. Incidentally, “Parallel World” with Martian Arts on Eat Static’s latest album was top notch, so I'm looking forward to their albums as Strontium Dogs scheduled for release later this year.

 

TL;DR - if, like me, you appreciate creative, analog sound design and are longing for the trippy sound of British psychedelic trance, defined by funky and groovy rhythms, sprinkled with good melodic riffs, acid lines and emergent beauty found in sonic ‘accidents’; then you owe it to yourself to purchase it this instant! Go now!!! Otherwise, take a listen as well - in my book it stands proudly next to the recent(ish) full-on heavyweights like Master Blasters, Hypnocoustics or PsiloCybian.

 

Extra points for the cover - it's beautiful, colorful and charmingly tacky, in the best tradition of TIP Records :)

 

4/5

 

Samples

 

Purchase here

https://tiprecords1.bandcamp.com/album/giant-locusts

https://www.psyshop.com/shop/CDs/tip/tip1cd819.html

http://www.beatspace.com/9998/Tip+World/MARTIAN+ARTS/Giant+Locusts+/detail.aspx

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StratosOZ    33

Shit, that's a really well-written review.

 

the sound of electrons flowing through circuits, tamed by analog gates, shaped by self-oscillating filters and orchestrated by voltage-controlled sequencers is like no other. There's chaos and randomness, there's imperfections and there's life.

 

Quote of the year!

 

I would never have given this release the time of day, but now I'm super-excited to give it a go.

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recursion loop    402

This hard vs. soft debate drags on from the moment when the first softsynths ever appeared, but it's the first time I'm seeing this in a review of a music album.

 

Actually whenever I hear especially impressive synths sounds in psytrance, going beyong typical squelches and farts (or even exceptionally good sounding squelches and farts), it often appears that the artist who has made them owns some serious hardware. But this may just be that people who invest into expensive hardware are usually more serious about their production or are longer in the game and have better experience, rather than a sign of hardware's inherent superiority.

 

May listen to the album later, the previous Nectarious output was not my thing at all, but just for the sake of the production quality it may be worth listening.

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antic604    470

Shit, that's a really well-written review.

Quote of the year!

I would never have given this release the time of day, but now I'm super-excited to give it a go.

 

Thanks! And indeed you should at least have a listen :)

 

This hard vs. soft debate drags on from the moment when the first softsynths ever appeared, but it's the first time I'm seeing this in a review of a music album.

 

Actually whenever I hear especially impressive synths sounds in psytrance, going beyong typical squelches and farts (or even exceptionally good sounding squelches and farts), it often appears that the artist who has made them owns some serious hardware. But this may just be that people who invest into expensive hardware are usually more serious about their production or are longer in the game and have better experience, rather than a sign of hardware's inherent superiority.

 

May listen to the album later, the previous Nectarious output was not my thing at all, but just for the sake of the production quality it may be worth listening.

 

Knowing your taste I knew it's not your cup of tea, like Nervasystem or Hypnocoustics before it :)

 

Regarding the softness (or 'warmth' of analog vs. 'coldness' of digital) I'll just paste what I wrote few months ago: 

 

There are three things for me here:

 

- warm vs. cold sound - it's a matter of control and at the same time of the randomness given by instruments: in old days a lot of parameters - oscillators, envelopes, filters, resonance, etc. - were controlled by voltage, which was analog and wasn't ideally precise, you had musical keyboard keys that responded to velocity and strength of touch, you had knobs that wouldn't be perfectly transmitting the twists; you had mixers, effects and even cables that'd introduce additional noise - all this contributed to the sound being fuzzy ("warm"), with tiny fluctuations and random changes on a micro-level and the notes would sound ever so slightly different every time. This stands in contrast to the very digital, infinitely precise world of today's VST plugins;

 

- sequencing - in the old days, synthesizers and DAWs would only allow you to store basic information about your tune, usually based on MIDI format, which covered broad but still pretty limited range of information; as a result, the synth/computer usually was only generating overall "shape" of the tune (which notes and tracks play when, etc.) and while recording for the CD / DAT tape the artists needed to tweak the individual parameters - faders, filters, effects, routing, etc. - manually. This was leading to music sounding more like live performance, with more unpredictability, soul and "happy mistakes". Contrast it with today, where you usually "dump" tracks to perfect and written-in-stone WAV files as soon as they sound good enough, copy & paste various segments over the time-line, put some highly controlled (i.e. the filter envelopes drawn by mouse) effects on top and there you go.

 

- musical education - this one I'm not sure about, but my gut feeling tells me it is the true - because the point of entry is so much lower today, i.e. anyone can pirate Ableton Live and VST plugins and publish their stuff on Soundcloud or Bandcamp, most people releasing music lack any musical knowledge and their creations are influenced mostly by what they hear around, trying to copy what they like (and are able to). Hence the huge uniformity in sound, resulting in very few artists actually standing out with their own, unique style.

 

As a result of those three factors today's music sounds more cold, precise and technically perfect but more often than not pretty straightforward, without soul, randomness and playfulness. Electronic music - IMO - doesn't need to be clinically clean and robotic to sound otherworldly or alien, quite the opposite actually. On the other hand new tech opens infinite possibilities, as evidenced by huge variety of ambient / chill / IDM music.

 

/rant off :)

 

So, to answer the original question - no, "cold" in itself isn't inherently good or bad. Like anything else, it should be used as a tool to express artist's ideas, thoughts or feelings.

 

I actually experience this very clearly in my own music-making, where if I automate something drawing the envelopes with mouse, it sounds OK but often boring. However, when I record those same modulations tweaking the parameters 'live' via MIDI controller it immediately sounds more exciting, more alive and energetic; even if it's a far cry from true 'analog' way of working, because I'm still controlling digital plugins in a digital DAW, that digitises my tweaking onto a very limited 0-127 scale...

 

But please let's not go off-topic here :)

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Padmapani    342

interesting. i have just given the album a quick listen, so the final verdict may differ, but i am pleasantly surprised. i went in expecting just kicknbass plus some random noises (which is not my really cup of tea. i know that nectarios is pretty good at using his analogue equipment to make interesting random fx so i decided to give it a try nonetheless). but it turns out that the album sticks more to the fullon template than expected (which is: not much and which is also not a bad thing in this case making the whole thing a little more easy-listening), that there are actually melodies twisted together and melted into the fx and that the way everything plays together is more like old hux flux (think cryptic crunch) instead of just messy noise (as in most darkpsy). especially discrete circuit sounds more like old hux flux than the stuff that hux flux posts on soundcloud these days...

 

so while i'm not yet ready to give the album a thumbs up, i can say that it's definitely worth checking it out, especially if you like old hux flux, psilocybian or nervasystem. 

 

favourites up to now: discrete circuit and downward dog.

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antic604    470

...there are actually melodies twisted together and melted into the fx and that the way everything plays together is more like old hux flux (think cryptic crunch) instead of just messy noise (as in most darkpsy). especially discrete circuit sounds more like old hux flux than the stuff that hux flux posts on soundcloud these days...

 

Indeed, that's one similarity that I haven't thought of but it's definitely there! The album is on constant rotation here and my preference likewise moved towards the latter half of the album, the trio of "Skunk Funk", "Discrete Circuit" and "Downward Dog" in particular. Really lovely stuff!  :wub:

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MrAnarchy    214

Production wise good, which goes for basically all modern releases. Very linear and not in a good way. Uninteresting and anti-climactic ride to which I wont go back to. 3/5 for meh

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antic604    470

Production wise good, which goes for basically all modern releases. Very linear and not in a good way. Uninteresting and anti-climactic ride to which I wont go back to. 3/5 for meh

 

Ok, I appreciate and value every opinion, but "linear" or "anti-climatic"?! And somehow both Proxeeus and Vaesna - that are much more linear, flat and predictable than this - ended up in your Top10 for 2016?!  :blink:

 

Still can't wrap my head around how those "taste" and "opinion" things work...

 

And this very  comment is the best example of that :P

 

Thanks for feedback, anyway :)

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MrAnarchy    214

I would appreciate it if you would stop doing that after every post I make. Every time you dont agree with someone, you search for a way to disprove other people's opinions. My rating is empirical, so deal with it.

 

Proxeeus is fun for me, this is boring, flat and linear for my ears, as I said. I dont have a need to justify why that is.

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IronSun    37

So discussing something on a forum is not your thing? Then what's the point? Isn't discussing opinions & tastes what makes this place interesting?

 

If you just want to dump your opinion and never get called on it, why bother in the first place?

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MrAnarchy    214

What about the word "taste" dont you undestand? What is the point of discussing different tastes? If I said something against it's technical aspects that I was actually wrong about, then yeah, he can say that Im wrong. But when he comes and pisses on my posts every damn time its negative or against his own opinion, it gets very annoying. 

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antic604    470

...Every time you dont agree with someone, you search for a way to disprove other people's opinions. My rating is empirical, so deal with it....

 

God no! I try to understand the other point of view because I think it's equally valid and actually very useful for my music reviewing - I like to understand how people perceive music (https://www.psynews.org/forums/topic/72612-what-are-you-looking-for-in-music/)

 

...But when he comes and pisses on my posts every damn time its negative or against his own opinion, it gets very annoying. 

 

Wow, OK  :blink:

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Richpa    829

Skunk Funk got really nice groove :) Enjoying that track a lot!

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Imba    278

Sorry for not reviewing but it's top notch psychedelic!
 

 

Keep rocking and happy birthday  :P

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mars    133

I have to say, I expected this album because Martian Arts seems to be an authentic music lover, his performances are cool and he's also a long time visitor of Psynews :)

Well, this album is very enjoyable! It's not following full-power-banging recipe used by so many other artists. It's not knocking you off....

...It is breathing :)

That's no suprise TIP released it.

Very intelligent psytrance. Very good collabs too.

Good job Martian Arts !!!

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antic604    470

Listening to it pretty much on a daily basis still and I need to upgrade it to the full 5/5.

 

I mean I got it together with Pogo's "Rock Your Soul" for which I was pretty hyped up and that one - relative to its pears from Nano Rec. - is a good CD on its own. But it has NOTHING on Martial Arts. In here, after just a few listens I could tell the tracks apart - they're similar in style obviously, but sufficiently different from each other. The tracks themselves have a clear direction or progression path. The sounds are really fresh, some of the melodic or acid passages are mindbogglingly good. In a lot of psytrance the incidental or one-off sounds (like all the 'farts', 'squelches') feel very forced, sometimes awkwardly placed and not really enhancing the experience. Here on the other hand it's very organic, very natural and fitting. Can't tell if it's because of analog / modular synthesizers or "just" the skill and I suspect it's both, but it is indeed very unique. The only track that still disappoints is "Assagao" that's incredible in its first 4 minutes and then somehow dies out... but I can live with it.

 

Love it!  :wub:

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Mozza    9

When I heard first samples I didnt notice Dali Mountains at all but now this groovy and funky track is one of my favorites.

I remember Velos from his set at EXIT festival in Serbia, great track with some "Etnica touch" :)

Also Assagao and collaborations with Radical Frequencies and Ingrained Instincts are tracks that I'm playing on repeat :)

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Drosophila    86

Such a great album, and I can see how it will make some dance-floors vibrate, so much energy, depth and umpf, while still maintaining room for mid and top layers. It's hard to find even a slightly weak track on here, although it is not the most coherent release, but it is very enjoyable, also if you have a high-end'ish hifi system at home, well even more so  :P the production is superb!

 

I have been avoiding TIP release for quite a while since I have felt my time was wasted, but this is such a great surprise. Highly recommended 5/5 :)

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antic604    470

I have been avoiding TIP release for quite a while since I have felt my time was wasted, but this is such a great surprise. Highly recommended 5/5 :)

 

Indeed, they seem to be on a roll recently - the V/A "Avant Garden" and albums from Mad Tribe and Outsiders in 2015, while not as good as this, are head and shoulders above almost anything that Nano Rec. put out in recent years.

 

Also looking forward to Ajja's "Spira Mirabillis" to be released in two weeks!

 

Hope those are sign of the revival of this (once) great label :)

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Themaniac    69

Liked tracks 1 and 3..The rest are not to my taste.

Tip is coming out with Electric Universe and Raja Ram Ep "Gateway" tomorrow 31st. Typical Full-on electric universe style.

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antic604    470

Liked tracks 1 and 3..The rest are not to my taste.

 

Out of curiosity, what is similar between 1 and 3 which you liked, that you couldn't find in other tracks? For me, the defining feature of #1 ("Dali Mountains") is further developed in "Skunk Funk", while the psychedelic madness of #3 ("There Is No Time") is expanded on in "Velos", "Discrete Circuit" and "Downward Dog". So my natural thinking would be that if you liked #1, you should like #6; if you liked #3 you should like #5, 7 and 8, etc. :D

 

Sorry for being inquisitive. I don't mean to criticise your taste and choices, just genuinely curious (check here for more: https://www.psynews.org/forums/topic/72612-what-are-you-looking-for-in-music/):)

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Themaniac    69

1) Music that makes me go - Aaaaaww yisssss!!!

2) Music that makes me wonder - Will I be able to create stuff like this ever??  :o

 

Do i look for certain elements in every song? (eg. where the fuck is the 303? Why is this kick not hard enough? Needs More 303 Dammit!!). Nope. If the song has the qualities of 1 and 2 then I'm sold. What are those qualities that define 1 & 2 for me? Hard to say, it can be anything in the song, intro, the rhythm, even 30sec part in an entire 6-7 min song is enough sometimes.

 

I had posted this in that thread.

Pretty much sums up my answer

1 & 3 made me go aaww yiss.. the others didnt. Simple.

You said if I liked track 1 I SHOULD like track 6..not necessarily. Every track is different imo and must be taken as is. I hate comparisons and similarities. Sure you can find two tracks similar but you may not like one of them and that is completely acceptable and normal.

This is when I'm sober. When I'm high I find even a sine wave interesting  :D

Just my thoughts!

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Starkraver    852

Funky, playful & Groovy. A very nice album by Martian Arts.

 

Need to spend more time on this release for sure.

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