Category Archives: Thug Entrancer

Chicago Sprawl

Featuring : Thug Entrancer


This is a post about mid-90s Asian cinema, late-80s cyberpunk and Footwork.  This is how it goes down.

Though Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express was often pilloried for its sentimentality, its true calling was as a mainline to a vision of Hong Kong beneath all the hyper-capitalism.  While the idea of Tokyo as a living embodiment of Cyberpunk was pretty well established as a trope by now, it was the street level bustle of Hong Kong that nailed the feel.

Cyberpunk’s appeal was never really its science.  Wetware and the Matrix were undoubtedly fucking cool but it was the characters that sprung up — as a fleshy mirror to the brutality of the trans-national corporations — that felt like the ‘big idea’.  As pulp-y as they often were, the placeless, de-socialised privateers that populated Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy were the hook.  For every conniving Zaibatsu there was a nihilistic punk destroying their body for love and/or profit (thus making them a terrible nihilist).

Chungking Express had plenty of this.  Characters spirited away from their neighbourhoods at the whim of global corporations.  Vague, disinterested and displaced people, coalescing briefly around a single place.  What the film captured was just that, an unerring sense of place and that place felt like The Sprawl.  A warren of memories and sounds and machinations and chance.  It’s opening sequence: a nervous repetitious melody and an overcast sky couldn’t have encapsulated this better.

To Chicago and a machine assisted quest towards complexity for complexities glorious sake.  Footwork could sometimes sound like dark AI’s computing the Universe but it was the street-level hacking of sound that perhaps allows it to most seamlessly slip into this patchwork.  Snatches of nostalghia over something hyper-modern.  Attempts to bend dancers to its will with varying degrees of success.  The beauty is in the game though, the battle between the machines with their programmers and the rhythmic battles that they fuel.

Sometimes all I ever want to do is listen to Footwork.

Thug Entrancer‘s Death After Life -1 is at the heart of all this.  As achingly sad and grandiose as Wong Kar Wai’s super-urban melodrama; as brutally light-footed as anything out of Chicago and as evocative of The Sprawl as I’ve heard in a long time.  The reverb heavy horns are the thing, the hook, the single sound that wrenches me back to Hong Kong, back to a childhood idolising hackers and that weird brand of fin de siecle tech utopianism.  The hand claps are the thing,  reminder that this is dance music, that dance can be attrition and war and exhilarating.

Thug Entrancer – Death After Life – I

Thug Entrancer’s latest EP, Death After Life, is out now on Laser Palace.  You can pay-what-you-want here.

Best of 2011, part II: Resurrection of the Synthesist

Given our name, it’s no secret that we gorge on electronic sound, be it discomforting or transcendent.  Guttural or sublime.

We’re forever wary of confirmation bias but this year does seem to have seen wave upon wave of synth based music.  Not just music that features a synth but music that’s built around the synth, great cathedrals constructed to encapsulate the idea of making synthetic sounds that by their design are alien and other.  Except, they’re not anymore.  Thirty years of indoctrination has made the music of the synths mean something else.  A piece of retro nostalgia at one moment, something transgressive the next.  Often extremely beautiful in that airbrushed way that was once cliche but now — as the world folds in on its credit default swapped self –seems aspirational; utopian.

So this then, is our loosely assembled collection of synth focussed tracks which, like a good Bela Tarr movie, create a world and give us time to think within its borders.


Jonas Reinhardt: Eos, the Dawn In 2011, Jonas Reinhardt returned to these warm zones: constantly maintained by solar winds and the unfathomably complex gravitational dance moves of the planets.

Speeding through the heavens of blue refracted light that bounce freely off of vast glassed worlds, before slowing to take in the cresting of a sun over its many orbiting bodies.  Eos, the Dawn holds itself in a perfect moment before the god of arpegiated synth pulses rises from her slumber to usher in a new day.  Below a strange planet populated by sentient piers springs into life, their symbiotic Wurlitzers emerging out of the wooden decks like budding flowers to pipe a salute to the new day.

Jonas Reinhardt – Eos, the Dawn

Buy: Music for the Tactile Dome


Gatto Fritto: S/T Beachy Head is a beautiful suicide spot in the Sussex coast not far away from Brighton. It is the place depicted in the front cover of Throbbing Gristle’s 20jazzfunkgreats, and soundtracked in a most foreboding manner in the selfsame record. It also seems to be a place that Gatto Fritto, one of the most accomplished sages of the neo-Kosmische diaspora has given some thought to. His Beachy Head is a wonderful quantum waltz that stares not at the maelstrom swirling below, but at a night sky above, where subtle shifts in the luminosity of the constellations reveal a soothing message of galactic rebirth.

Gatto Fritto: Beachy Head

Buy: S/T.


Eric Enocksson: Apan Ramble through the hazy palace of your past, and into a cellar of gentle ruins where you collect memories of those pets that grew up with you, and grew old and frail and one day, died.  Bask in the portentous sadness of a wordless farewell, sweetened by the remembrance of the joy that was, and your ability to love, which is also the root of all your tears.  Now picture a dynasty of galactic shepherds whose flock is of planets and constellations, and of the races that thrived and decayed and perished therein, their affection and ache as great as yours, but stretched over aeons of blackness, interrupted by a blinding light, once in a while, once in a while.

Across which echoes a song like this.

Erik Enocksson – IV

Buy: Apan.


Borden/Ferraro/Godin/Halo/Lopatin: FRKWYS Vol. 7 One of the many strands that compose our love of music made with synthesisers is its ability to describe nature in a medium that is completely abstracted from.  As the sounds become more sythesised the creator’s intent is more nakedly revealed and in this instance, the feeling of drifting into night — which let’s face it is pretty fucking abstract — is conjured from the minds of the song’s participants.  Droning waves of synths layer each other like laser coloured veils until more excited flourishes tweet their arrival like thousands of birds of pure light arising for the gloom.

Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo & Lopatin – Twilight Pacific

Buy: FRKWYS Vol. 7


Harald Grosskopf: Synthesist (Reissue) Picture the collection of delicate vibrations through which sound is transported across air as a nascent civilisation of golden-skinned homunculi toiling in barren lands, developing in a super-compressed evolutionary process a theory of the mind and language. If the stars are our destination, then we must be theirs, for they populate our sensory system with awe-inspiring structures that will thrive long after a supernova of silence has obliterated the system whence they arrived. Harald Grosskopf is the Deus-ex-Machina behind this beautiful infiltration, the all-knowing watchmaker that set this process in movement. He is their God, I wouldn’t be surprised if he became ours too.

Harald Grosskopf- Synthesist

Buy: Synthesist


Food Pyramid: Food Pyramid III Food Pyramid don’t (need to) mention anything eluding to German 60s/early 70s music in their email to us, but as with the Boredoms, Juan Atkins, Holy Fuck, Death in Vegas, Fuck Buttons, The Time and Space Machine, Deerhunter, Gavin Russom, Oneida, Lindstrom or P.I.L. – reading between the lines gives us great delight.

Food Pyramid – E-Harmony

Buy: Food Pyramid III.


S.C.U.M.: Again into Eyes When teenagers making epic industrial goth by way of southend on sea make a first album on Mute records team up with the combined production talents of Ken and Jolyon Thomas you might expect something interesting. Again into Eyes goes beyond anything you’d expect as a first album, beyond the combined age and wisdom of all involved. If this is their first offering, then personally we cannot wait for more.

S.C.U.M – Whitechapel

Buy : Again into Eyes


Rene Hell: The Terminal Symphony Rene Hell gives us large hadron collider tickets to an abstract universe where Andrei Tarkovski directed Tron, and Terry Riley teamed up with Aphex Twin to make the soundtrack. BLAM.

Rene Hell – Lighthouse Marvel

Buy: The Terminal Symphony.


Moon Gangs: S/T Moon Gangs  plug a whole array of synthetic apparatus into the output devices of our planetary sensory system, thus generating a tape, the latest episode in an invisible collection of factual documentaries through which generation after generation of stargazing weirdoes (Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Terry Riley, Ligeti, Lindström, OPN, etc.) have attempted to reveal a truth that can’t be spoken.

Moon Gangs – Sea

Buy: S/T (sold out soz)


IFEEL Studio: Morgengruss III IFEEL Studio stretches fingers of gold into the core of the galaxy, and the deepest recesses of the human heart to grasp the mysteries of love, and scatter them into the wind. From these seeds grows a mighty tree under whose shadow we rest in a furious summer afternoon, eating cheese and bread like humble and satisfied shepherds, humming a melody of beauty and peace.

IFEEL Studio – Watching Stars Over The Rubicon Beltway

Buy: Morgengruss III


Zombi: Escape Velocity Escape Velocity is a new instantiation of our manifesto: numinous motorik disco for emergent new era cults, party music for the post-singularity hivemind, the blueprint of an interstellar motorway where a suicidal priesthood accelerates its sexy silver machines towards the ultimate event horizon.

Zombi – DE3

Buy: Escape Velocity.


Mist: House Mist’s House is a collection of prophesies about the day-to-day of our poly-mathematic future, and a tribute to the pioneering work of the Kosmische school that first calibrated its main parameters, and anticipated its sentiment.

In it, the fundamental relations in the science of harmony are expressed mechanically by marshalled regiments of numbers marching with irresistible power

Mist – Twin Lanes

Buy: House


Deep Earth: House of Mighty Deep Earth lash out with the pent-up energy of a zillion Zenta laser panthers as they lunge forward, not to snap your neck with mighty fangs of antediluvian vintage, but to carry you dangling from their mouth into exotic lands of strife and illumination like a psychedelic version of He-Man’s Battle Cat, dreamed up in some German progressive commune circa 1976.

Deep Earth – House of Mighty II

Buy: House of Mighty


Thug Entrancer: Case  Mounting a late surge into this list Thug Entrancer’s email popped into our swamp-like inbox linking us to Volume 1 and 2 of Tropics Mind.  Pulling in Carpenter synth workouts, Juke influences and more ambient meanderings they’re nothing if not superbly ambitions explorations of synth driven dance music.

Whereas initially they volumes seem arbitrary, volume 1 soon reveals itself as a finely honed, low key Juke inspired, bubbling gem.  With only Spiritual Growth losing the frantic rhythm of its peers, opting instead for a spot on the Carpenter/Goblin axis of tension/terror.  Volume 2 seems more focused on the aforementioned Carpenter/Goblin/(slowed)-Italo synth driven genre…we still haven’t got a suitable name for.  [We suck at genres]  From which Case comes.

Thug Entrancer – Case

Buy: Tropics Mind


Throbbing Gristle: all of it (re-mastered reissues) All of them.  On vinyl.  Get them now.  Even if they’re not really ‘synth’ albums — in the same way that David Lynch isn’t really a pop star.


The Land is a Dangerous Place and the Sky Wants You Dead


Maxmillion Dunbar – Slave to the Vibe

After several hours of walking you find yourself at the edge of a clearing deep in an ancient wood.  This is the first time you’ve been able to see the sky, obscured as it has been by the tree’s smothering canopy.

Way Through – Imber Tyneham

The sky burns blue like fire.  A searing blue that begins to cut into your skin like an infinity of laser beams.  You wrench yourself from its line of fire and dart for the cover of the trees.

Your burning arm brushes against one of the many large flat leaves that sprout from the bark.  Instead of the bite expected of molten flesh against, well, pretty much any solid object; your brutalised nerves instead report a cool, calming sensation.

Thug Entrancer – Death After Life I

As you wrap your burns with the antiseptic leaves, you scan the tree line.  The same strange species stretches out forever.  The massive trunks holding up a shield of green, protecting all below from the sky.  The endless symmetry of the trees: a hymn to Mandelbrot played out across countless acres.  Easy then for your eyes to make out the rare exceptions.  The fleeting glimpse of colour, movement and shape that goes towards identifying the shy inhabitants of this land.

You move through the forest warily now.  Eyes keenly aware of the pools of light that signal death.  You approach these pools at oblique angles, using the gap in the trees to track your approach to the looming mountains.  The mountains that will block out the sky.

Moan – Summer Camp ’79

The incline is stepper now.  The trees still grasping the ground and sheltering you from the sky.  The uniformity of your view is starting to fray.  The grey slate of the hills beginning to pepper your peripheral vision.

Philip Glass Ensemble – Music in Twelve Parts (part 3)

As the trees thin further it is time to make a choice.

Above sits a monastery.  You climb the steep cliffs and wearily you push open its great doors.

Below lies a path that leads to a gorge; to lands hidden by the mountain’s many folds.  If you chose this route, go here.


Wearily you push open the door to the monastery, go here.

2013 References

We have spent a substantial part of 2013 in heaven i.e. Maxmillion Dunbar’s gorgeous Woo, and studying the tribal socio-geography of Way Through’s Clapper is Still. Thug Entrancer’s Death After Life is here. We never got time to write a review about Moan’s incredible Bookshelf Sanctuary, but we’ll do so in 2014 because we can travel in time, thanks partly to the super-powers we gained when we were exposed to the cosmic radiation of Philip Glass’ Music in Twelve Parts live at the Royal Festival Hall.