KiloWatts: Ground State
Native State

Krill.minima: Nautica
Native State

Krill.minima is the less well-known alias of Martin Juhls whose orchestral-styled Marsen Jules recordings have given listeners countless hours of listening pleasure (for the record, he also records dance tracks under the Falter guise). Krill.minima is designed to showcase Juhls' ambient side and the debut collection Nautica does so in spades. In many ways, the recording can be heard as the Dortmund, Germany artist's take on the reverberant digi-dub style perfected by Basic Channel-Chain Reaction and, recently, Deepchord. “Octopus and Sextant,” “Princess of the Undersea Gardens,” and the title track are all marvelously oceanic, lurching, and echo-drenched settings that are stylistically kin to the material presented on last year's superb Deepchord Presents Echospace production The Coldest Season. Sunnier and uptempo by comparison, “The Escargots Dream” is graced by a lovely main theme that warms the lulling flow of the billowing background rhythms. The album's nautical theme is well-chosen given the materials' deep character, whether it's the rhythm-based dubs or the epic beatless flow of the framing tracks “Submarine Poetry” and “Surface from the Groundless Oceans” whose submerged tones drift in slow motion through bottomless seas. Juhls' artistry and sophisticated handling of his material is evident at every moment of this hour-long collection.

James Watts' fifth album Ground State breathes new life into the downtempo electronic funk genre with eight cuts that are equally warm, gritty, and tight. Though the average piece is about seven minutes long, Watts keeps the interest level through the sheer force of the tracks' deliciously stoked grooves. The crisp snap of the snare and punch of the bass drum provide a strong anchor for wayward tapestries of warm synth patterns that unspool over top. “Astral Accident” opens the set promisingly with a beautiful soul-funk sampling and the cut's slamming groove is infectious. Other standouts include “Old Twisted Trees,” which pummels with its bottom-heavy, lumbering flow, and “Azure,” which escalates in its final moments to a blazing climax. Changing things up, “Dub Serious,” goosed by a scratchy backbeat swing, shuffles slinkily through humid climes while “Hang Gliding” opts for funky, nimble-footed breaks. Watts ' accomplished breakbeat sculpting and intricate programming focus aligns him to Lusine in terms of overall approach but Ground State, while polished, is grittier than Jeff McIlwain's customary material. Very nice indeed.

March 2008