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EP Review: The Hatch Series - Various Artists

The Hatch Series is the first in a planned annual compilation series from DhARMA, a new label that has already impressed with a couple of their releases this year.

Made up of five tracks from five different artists it's a relatively eclectic set showcasing DhARMA's progressive approach to A&R. The EP opens with a blues-influenced IDM track from Kyson. There is a little hint of Nicolas Jaar to 'Drifting On By', with a soulful vocal and a slow, textured feel to the production work.

Atiko Misaki's 'Do You Remember Me' is all gentle piano chords and relaxed trumpet, pleasingly jazzy and left-field and even slower than the EP's opening. In contrast 'Midnight Travellers' by Tibalt is a little more upbeat, a striking gothic-electro-prog-opera piece. It may be a little less universal than Misaki's track but the pounding drum-set snares and eighties synths aren't without their charms.

Next up is Silly Rabbit with 'Subsonic Sunset'. It is a mildly Germanic glitch-pop piece, full of big ambient noises and synthetic drums but it never quite seems to get to its destination for me..

The EP is rounded out with 'Beta' by Skai Nine, and it's a pretty good summary of where DhARMA ultimately seem to have their heads as a label. It's experimental electronic music that manages to be greater than the sum of its parts, a whirling cacophony of gentle sounds that comes together to create a softly stuttering pop record. It concludes a short, interesting statement of intent with the first two tracks proving particularly enduring.

The Hatch Series is released on 1 October through DhARMA. Preview the release below through Soundcloud or pre-order from DhARMA here.

EP Review / Stream: Glass Cities - Mitch Murder

Glass Cities - Mitch Murder

DhARMA's third release comes hot on the heals of my review of their debut one, Kelly Paven's excellent Alone In The Storm, and they seem to be a little determined to establish some form.

Mitch Murder's Glass Cities is an EP is eighties-inspired instrumental soft-rock and MOR electronics. Listening to this in the same week as Tony Scott's tragic suicide feels more than a little poignant. This whole EP sounds like it could be the soundtrack to Top Gun.

There are plenty of eighties synths then, but it also has the kind of heightened and headstrong emotion you would expect of an eighties Tony Scott movie. Several of the songs are cut through with samples of dialogues from films but it is the music that is largely left to do the talking.

Unusual as it is to hear 80s rock without vocals - the soundtrack is almost as reminiscent of a video game soundtrack as a movie one - but the melodies hold their own. The squealing guitar on 'Best Of The Best' dominates the first half of the track and the synths knock the remaining minutes out of the park. On 'Heading South' the vocal samples and motorbikes create more feeling than a vocal ever could - and anything more would be overkill.

In addition to the five original tracks there are also two remixes - one by Sylvester and the other Nite Sprite - and refreshly both embrace to atmosphere of the originals, sounding like products of the eighties themselves.

Glass Cities is released on 1 September through DhARMA. Stream it below via Soundcloud or pre-order it on Bandcamp:

EP Review: Alone In The Storm - Kelly Pavan

This new EP from French producer Kelly Pavan on DhARMA is one of the best releases to cross my path in a while. It took a couple of listens to really ingrain itself in my mind but stick it on and turn it up and you can't really help but be won over by its glitchy, syrupy melodies and swooping folk influenced electronica.

There are three original tracks from Pavan here and the EP opens with the title track's gently strummed acoustic guitar and a male-female duet. Pavan's production is always there but subtle enough to stand back and let his music stand front and centre.

'Are You There (No I'm Not)’ is dreamlike - wispy and dazed whilst a thick drum beat gives it a sense of momentum and a more electronic feel than 'Alone In The Storm'. The combination recalls the chill wave of early Toro y Moi but nothing there felt quite as pretty as Pavan's sunny day dreams and folk influenced vocals.

The final track, 'Psychedelik Happiness' takes things further still, starting relatively gently before adding crunchy drums and layers of distorted bass and tweaking melodies. It feels distinctively French and yet incredibly fresh - a whole new French take on disco.

The EP is rounded off with a fabulous remix of 'Are You There (No I'm Not)' by live duo Of Norway, who give the original a laid back, organic feeling that plays to both the track's and the duo's strengths. Featuring loose bass, gentler drums and a melody of warm synths it's pure Balearia. And in case you didn't know, that's right up my street.

In Kelly Pavan DhARMA appear to have struck gold - he is definitely one to watch.

Stream and buy Alone In The Storm via bandcamp below: