Lotic-Power: Album Review

I’m always interested in how electronic musicians insert humanity into their mix.  There’s space for pure militancy in the minimal techno of Robert Hood or Studio One, but the best IDM cats always knew how to craft a good melody, and DJ Shadow’s lust for analog gives him his undying psychedelic appeal.

Today’s moment sees a lot of artists clashing the electronic and human elements into a more blurred mix, a texture making the divide between electronic drive and melodic/vocal work inseparable.  Along with the likes of FKA Twigs, Arca, or even Death Grips, Lotic falls into this categorization, crafting a world that is at once viciously inhuman and fully alive.

“Hunted” enters with a whisper: “brown skin masculine frame, heads a target/Actin’ real feminine, make em’ vomit.”  In a world where femininity and black masculinity are both frowned upon, I’m sure one can feel like a whisper among caustic electronic violence when walking down the street.  Aside from that juxtaposition, the music also incorporates eerie vocal oohs that are matched by plucked keyboard sounds and broken up by bubbling artificial bass pulses.  Another aspect of queerness is how one feels like the world is just built differently from them so this blurring of electronics and vocals also reads into that feeling as the human opening erodes into something other.

Towards the end of “Bulletproof,” the vocals are doubled with one take deep in Lotic’s range and lightly auto-tuned, “I’m a bulletproof ni**a,” again blurring the space.  The title track opens with shimmering electronics, before disruption in the form of a drum sample—perhaps a bit further removed from a specifically human feel, but still in the vein of colliding worlds.

Power isn’t quite like Laurel Halo’s obsessive recalculation of the human voice Dust, however, the work shatters song-form, colliding artificiality and human touch to capture the violent erosion of feeling other.

-Donovan Burtan 8/10


The Internet-Hive Mind: Album Review

The Internet have always had a bit of a bedroom feel.  Syd Bennett’s voice is so delicate and the music surrounding it has kept a sense of intimacy, generally resulting in a beautiful landscape that lacks a sense of punch.  Steve Lacy’s famous iPhone production video is a much watch that showcases a similar emphasis on subtlety to Syd’s vocal approach, but also perhaps highlights another talent in need of fleshing out as their music career flourishes.

Single “Come Over” sees a band more committed to song form than fluid space.  Drums enter way laid back; Syd’s vocal leads are doubled up an octave yielding a perfect balance of brightness and impact; and Lacy enters on a soft but purposeful guitar solo in the bridge.  Syd commands the space even more on “La Di Da,” supported by a lush, active drum pallet, a starburst guitar chord pattern, and additional vocals from Lacy.  A spoken word outro from Outkast collaborator Big Rube and a verse from the band’s own Patrick Paige II round out the album’s dynamic feel and again emphasize the band’s growth.

The back half of the record sees Syd out in open space a great deal , culminating in the last track “Hold On,” a six minute stew of loose instrumentals and vocals that ends the record on a bit of a slow note.  Still, the group doesn’t feel like they’re entirely falling back on old habits as these five young talents continue to hone their songwriting craft.


-Donovan Burtan


Palberta-Roach Goin’ Down: Album Review

In some fashion, Palberta’s music operates on a small scale all the time.  The trio adds layers to their thrashy instrumental and vocal swirl in the studio, but their songs are outbursts, rarely lasting more than 90 seconds, and never feeling particularly lush or big. Still, the band looks to new territories on their latest album, occasionally parsing things down to let the music breathe and more tender melodies bloom.

“In My Fame-Jug!” starts rather on brand.  Rough, syncopated instrumentals juxtapose unison group vocals. Then, things shift for the back half of the tune as the guitar moves to a slow, swaying melody–almost in the fashion of early Modest Mouse–evoking a delicacy that shifts the temporal sense from the usual fleeting feeling to a more elongated, emotional place.

Single “Sound of the Beat” also summarizes this shift in the band.  The lyrical couplet “Hey! that’s the sound of the beat/I can hear it now-ow-ow-ow-ow” sees first a grimey vocal feel before swapping over to a harmonized, soft trio.  It’s that manic sensibility that makes the group so fun to watch, but matched with the newfound delicacy, making for a more dynamic feel.

Coming together a little over a year after the release of Bye Bye Berta, the band doesn’t seem to have completely shifted gears, but the album sees a wildly underrated live act again seeking new sounds in the studio setting.

-Donovan Burtan




Looking Ahead: July 27th

Underworld and Iggy Pop-Teatime Dub Encounters

Depending on your view of legacy acts and the movie Trainspotting, a crossover of these two acts conjures eye rolls or tears of joy.  Pop’s track record is generally pretty damn good and though this may not be some earth shattering occurrence, the punk strains that connect these two acts seem to have aligned in this wordy, slow burn single for an EP.

Analog Tara-Fundamentals EP

A pulsing techno sound-quest drawing on mean bass activity and warm, emotional synth clouds alike.  Check out her book while you’re at it.

Phantastic Ferniture-Phantastic Ferniture

Australian Julia Jacklin takes on a new band sporting fun, driving guitar leads for the road.










Looking Ahead.

Don’t have any finished album reviews this week, but here’s what I’d like to look for next Friday.

Released on the ever-texturally stimulating Tri-Angle records, Berlin’s Lotic explores violent electronic terrains with lyrics that hint at black, queer existence in a hetero-normative world.

The Internet-Hive Mind

Having slowly latched onto pop’s subconscious, Syd and Steve Lacy return to their stomping ground for the band’s fourth proper record.

Palberta is what I imagine a blizzard in Ithaca, New York to feel like.  An artsy, upstate safe-haven hit with a hectic mess of estranged grooves and raucous vocals.  Maybe I’m just projecting my Montreal experience onto a slightly less ambient-obsessed sonic landscape. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯



We’re about halfway through 2018.

I was pretty consistent at the very beginning of the year, then fell off the face of the earth with the end of University/finals/moving to Rhode Island, but of course I’ve still been listening to music.  Here’s my midway list of songs and albums!


1. kacey musgraves-golden hour

2. Snail Mail-Lush

3. Janelle Monae-Dirty Computer

4. car seat headrest-twin fantasy

5. Sophie-Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-sides

6. charli xcx-pop 2

7. Against All Logic-2012-2017

8. Porches-The House

9. DJ Koze-knock knock

10. Goat Girl-Goat Girl


1. snail mail-pristine

2. car seat headrest-bodys

3. frank ocean-moon river

4. charli xcx-femmebot

5. ought-desire

6. cardi b-I like it

7. kacey musgraves-slow burn

8. Ravyn Lenae-4 Leaf Clover

9. Troye Sivan-My My My

10. Sophie-immaterial

11. Migos-BBO

12. andersen paak-bubblin

13. The Carters-Apeshit

14. Janelle Monae-Pynk

15. sidney gish-Sin Triangle

16. soccer mommy-cool

17. hop along-how simple

18. westerman-confirmation

19. natalie prass-short court style

20. drake-nice for what

21. empress of-trust me baby

22. cupcakke-duck duck goose

23. Jorja Smith-Teenage Fantasy

24. rae sremmurd-Powerglide

25. illuminate hotties-Patience

I’m graduated now and although I have other goals in life/career, music journalism is something I think will be a big part of it so I want to beef up my credibility and consistency.

Here’s my plan.

Brevity is key, so I’m going to reward roughly one 8 out of 10 per week, giving it a 400-600 word review a week after release.  This is my main recommendation of the week.

Then, I’ll probably have a 7.5 review weekly which is a secondary recommendation and perhaps another review of something that I’m interested in writing about.  Both of these will likely be less than 200 words.

I want to post everything on Fridays so I can have the whole week to look at some releases, compile my ideas, and get them out there all at once at a specific time rather than feeling like I could always be posting something and feeling overwhelmed all the time.

Also I would like to post the singles for the albums I’m interested in for the next week on Friday, maybe write a blurb about the big ones.

My biggest thing right now is I feel overloaded all the time with blogs talking about mountains and mountains of good albums that you NEED to check out so I’m trying to be really precise with recommendations.  Also, I’m inspired by John Oliver.  He basically releases a video every Sunday evening so I know that Monday morning I have a story to watch on youtube every week.  I want my blog to be a place that people know to visit at a specific time and get a few things to check out, then come back next week when they need more recommendations.

Also, summer tends to be pretty slow so maybe I’ll try and catch up on the albums on my midyear list that I’ve given you no explanation for yet? I probably won’t write a review with a number of say Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves because I feel like it’s key to review albums that get swept up into the PR frenzy when they happen because they become these massive cultural things so quickly and I want to be able to formulate my own opinion BUT I could ruminate on my personal relationship to it or something like that.

Music that doesn’t get a shit ton of buzz… if it’s good it’s good and I’d like to be open to taking a look at it whenever. IF THIS APPLIES TO YOU send your music to me on twitter @burtandonovan my email is a mess and I don’t get any music from it anymore lol.

If you read this, you’re my GOLDEN HOUR.

Also check out my new Snail Mail t-shirt, and please text me your thoughts on Pristine, it’s a gay anthem, the “Chanel” of 2018 in my humble opinion.