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Old 2012.07.14, 06:29 PM   #1
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Default Mid Year Review

Ok, so maybe its not exactly mid-year but its close enough. I wanna know what your favourite albums have been so far in 2012, what disappointed you and what you are looking forward to....

Best Albums of 2012 (so far) - a very short list

Project UNDARK- Radium Girls 2011-
I'm getting pretty hooked on this album, I'm not even sure what it is meant to be. Just a big experiment methinks. Phew gets to be Phew and the sounscapes created here are grim and industrial. It gets more and more accessible with each listen, though I don't think it would be possible to 'crack' all that is going on here. But yeah, good to hear Phew back on the scene.

Jane Zhang- Listen to Jane Z Live- I'm in love with this recording. Nothing particularly special or experimental about it, just pure pop. But it's Jane's delivery that makes it all worth the while, this girl is pitch perfect, emotive enough to make a grown man shed a tear. Check it out if you wanna hear a good C-pop album.

Tokyo Jihen- Color Bars:
Not the best album on first impressions, maybe I shouldnt even consider it an album, being an EP and all. But I dunno, it has had a much longer lasting appeal than I thought it would have. I like 4 out of 5 of the songs (sorry, Izawa, Kai Horrodust is atrocious) and the production value makes it stand out from all the other TJ releases.

The Shins- Port of Morrow: This album is received pretty mixed from fans and critics, but from a personal level, it's been a pretty good addition to my collection. The album flows well, James Mercer sounds good and there hasn't been a better produced Shins album before this (maybe to their determent, but that's another discussion).

Meshuggah- Koloss- Still the unbeaten metal album for 2012, this is really amazing technical metal at Meshuggah's best.

Old Man Gloom- No: Good comeback album, nice and doom-ey.

Sa Dingding- The Coming Ones:
Now, I've mentioned this around, but I don't really think I've spoken how important this release actually is to me. To me, this is no doubt going to be a tough one to top this year. Hell, I don't even think Ringo could top it. This album is one of those that is highly enjoyable on first listens, but each listen reveals more and more. I dare even say that it is the next KZK.

WHAT?!!!!!
you say, you crazy bro! But in all seriousness, this is the album to check out regardless of what you may think of her before this. Every single song fits, has purpose. The powerful bookends are reminscent of KZK to me. But its the intracacies, the songs woven into songs that make this album amazing. Not to mention Sa Dingdings AMAZING voice that has me choking up on many occasions. If you only listen to one album from 2012, this is the one.

Worst albums
The Smashing Pumpkins- Oceania-
Yeah, nah. This got old fast. I never want to listen to it again.
Koda Kumi- Japonesque- This is the most painful out of the Avex whores for sure. Didn't even finish it in one sitting.

Looking forward to:
Mariko Goto- 299793458-
Yeah, that first single is great, I hope this album is the bomb
Jun Togawa- Mushi no Onna- Mika Ninagawa Selection- sure it's another collection, but you know, its JUN TOGAWA.

Dreading-
Tori Amos- Gold Dust-
Tori's current state of performance doing old songs... yeah.

I'll likely expand this list later, but those are the highlights and lowlights I can think of off the top of my head/
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Old 2012.07.15, 08:07 AM   #2
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I'd definitely be interested in checking out the Sa DingDing album.

No, my list is going to be a very short list. So far these are my only favorites of the year. Maybe I need to try harder:

Matthew Shipp - Elastic Aspects - This reminds me a bit of Equilibrium (2003), my favorite Shipp album so far. Like that one, this has a clear overall structure, so it has a bit of a suite-like feel (broadly speaking). Brooding postmodern chamber jazz. Sorry, but I'm in a hurry and that's the best I can do. (On Spotify.)

Elio Villafranca/Arturo Stable - Dos Y Mas - Honestly, I need to listen to this one more before truly making up my mind. I'm not into Latin jazz much at all, but I think I tend to prefer it when it's stripped down like this. I hear some pretty adventurous things going on hear rhythmically, at times, but it's hard to put them into words. Villafranca is a great young piano virtuoso from Cuba, and a charismatic performer live. Stable is a similarly talented percussionist. (On Spotify.)

Zaki Ibrahim - Every Opposite. This one too I need to give some more time, but it's impressed me enough I'm willing to go with it. Ibrahim is a Canadian singer with South African roots. I've already posted a great dance remix video for one of her songs that nobody responded to, so I may be alone here in caring about this. Incredible voice over R&B/dance/pop/dance-pop, etc. Feels very independent to me. The full album is streamable here: http://zakiibrahim.bandcamp.com/

Looking forward to the new Janelle Monae, I guess. Also will check out the archival collection DJ Q is putting out, since he played a big role on my favorite album from last year. Probably a bunch of other stuff I'm looking forward to but have forgotten.

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Old 2012.07.16, 10:10 AM   #3
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Like the movies, I don’t think anyone expects to be blown away by an album in January or February. When it happens though, it’s always exciting as a fan. Normally the early year is full of smaller, more personal, more resonant work and not a whole lot of bombast. That’s why Pepe Deluxe’s Queen of the Wave was such a surprise in January. Pepe Deluxe is a Finnish electronic band that previously focused more on hip-hop or break-br sounds, but this time with Queen of the Wave they crafted a true pop epic. They borrow liberally from the past to make a grandiose, symphonic, fun listen. Of Montreal’s Paralytic Stalks is another early year album that is extravagant that I have great fun listening to, though its subject matter is certainly heavy stuff. Paralytic Stalks probably has some of the juiciest hooks this year while still being very experimental. The album rather deftly transitions from its more traditional front half to the more abstract and sprawling back half, while being utterly engaging throughout. Another January album that sweeps me up, engrosses me is The Boats’ Ballads of the Research Department. The Boats are a neo-classical, ambient, duo from England (I believe.) They move further away from their electronic past, which is a move I vastly prefer. The sounds here are so warm and wrap around me, and they either fill my heart or cause it to ache. I know the genre sounds scary, but it’s also very accessible.


Probably the first really remarkable album to hit me this year was John Talabot’s Fin. If you like fun, danceable music, with some real teeth and weight, this is a must listen. Albums more like what I come to expect in the early year is an album like The Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit. I’m not really sure what it is about Swedes and Americana, but it’s a combination that seems to work really well. The Soderberg sisters produce some really beautiful harmonies on this record and sweeping melodies. The title track has been a favorite of mine all year. In the same vain, La Grande by Laura Gibson is another indie-folk record to look into. Gibson’s voice is so sweetly applied to each song, and she covers many different corners of her genre, that you can’t help but fall in love. A surprising record came from New York act The Act of Estimating as Worthless in their debut Amongst these Splintered Minds/Leaden Thoughts Sing Softly. I had to make sure this wasn’t actually The Moldy Peaches because that is unquestionably who they sound like. Nevertheless, the songs speak above their obvious influences and the album became something that has definitely stuck with me unexpectedly.


Spring sets in pretty early where I live and it rolled I with The Men’s sophomore album Open Your Heart. I slept on their debut the year before and Open Your Heart has made me regret that. The Men try on almost every shoe in the Rock and Roll closet and make a fun record out of it with a devil may-care attitude. Screaming Females’ Uglyis narrower in scope but puts a premium on hooks and riffs. Some of the best traditional rock guitar work this year comes by way of front-woman Marissa Paternoster. To bring up hooks and guitar work, I would be remiss in not mentioning the flip-side of the same coin: Lotus Plaza’s Spooky Action at a Distance. Definitely smoother and more mellow than the previous, but at times also feels more epic. If you liked Deerhunter’s last record or last year’s Real Estate record (even if it lacked any “umph” whatsoever,) this is up your alley.


Spring saw two humongous records land onto the music scene: Beach House’s Bloom and Death Grips’ The Money Store. Beach House is the kind of band where if you’ve heard one of their records, you’ve kind of heard them all. But on the same page, how many times have you followed an artist and they put out a new album that you just wished was more like the last one? I think Beach House is a kind of experiment in that dream. Compared to 2010’s Teen Dream, Bloom is the less immediate record but is also the one that seems to bloom larger. (Get it?? With the shit??) With Beach House the operating sound is gentle. Death Grips, abrasion. Death Grips is an amalgamation of thirty years of sound. Hip-hop, hardcore, EDM and the result is pure excitement. Deplorable subject matter, but a thrilling listen that’s amazingly accessible. MC Ride has such a smooth flow and great character; you can’t but bop up and down.


Maybe the record I was most excited about, and lived up to my own hype is Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny’s debut, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose. Beth Jeans expands that pop sound with baroque influences and fully realizes each song, balances emotion and catchiness. Why more pop records aren’t as realized as this, I don’t know, but I’m very appreciative when there is one. Sweet Heart, Sweet Light is another grandiose pop-rock record. To me Spiritualized sounds like Oasis with indie-cred. I don’t quite get why one is critically favored over the other, but I can’t say no to that sound. One that was a bit of a grower on me was the Chromatics Kill For Love. The Chromatics take a slow-jam approach to the Beach House sound. Not gentle though, brooding and moody. A great record to chill out to. Pg.Lost’s Key is another record that, like Kill for Love, I can just put on and can’t help but play through every time.


Summer so far has seen many of the 90’s acts I love re-emerge with new albums. Guided by Voices really hit their stride with their second 2012 release Class Clown Spots a UFO; Garbage and Smashing Pumpkins new albums also worth checking out if you have fond memories of them. But from this glut, the album that towers over the others is without a doubt Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel… Fiona Apple’s record is just so raw and immediate, I get sucked in and it feels like I’m there in her living room as she performs these songs off the cuff. Another 90’s throwback: Wonky by Orbital. I’m certainly not one for Electronic Dance music, but Wonky wins me over big time – as does Twin Shadow’s Confess. My body just resists that obvious 80’s sound, but ultimately succumbs to the songs. If EDM is music that’s not traditionally my style, then industrial music would be out-and-out alien. Yet Transverse, the live collaboration released under Carter Tutti Void is breath taking. Its heavy, but not overwhelming, and just approachable enough to draw my ears.


Not 90’s, but Phil Elverum returns to his Mount Eerie project with Clear Moon. Phil Elverum is a guy like Beach House, like Spiritualized, you kind of know what you are going to get. You’re going to get mainly acoustic songs about life and about nature. You’re going to get that “Phil Elverum sound” but that’s not to say you’re always going to love it. Clear Moon though is an album that when I return to it, just gets comfier and comfier to put on. David Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors, I thought I had pegged as well, and then came Swing Lo Magellan. I thought that for sure, after Bitte Orca’s acclaim, the Dirty Projectors were going to swing back away from tradition. But with Magellan they push further into more accessible songs. The lavishness is still there, but more controlled and focused. This time around The Projectors push out some of the sweetest, most inclusive, songs they’ve ever made. I love it.


Two summer debuts to get excited about: Dope Body’s Natural History and the much hyped Channel Orange by Frank Ocean. Dope Body is a Baltimore rock act that defies any label other than “pre-cambrian.” They have a dinosaur-stomp quality to their songs that add up to a fun, kick-ass record. The most recent release of this post is Frank Ocean’s. Being part of the Odd Future troupe, I can’t say I had high hopes for this thing as Odd Future consistently fails to meet the expectations they set. Not the case with Channel Orange though, it remains remarkable throughout it’s nearly hour duration. Everything about the record, the production, his voice, the songs are, in a word: smooth.


That’s twenty-five picks from 2012 so far, and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. And that’s only my picks of what I’ve heard. So much to get to, and so much yet to hear.


Where to start? Pepe Deluxe: “Go Supersonic”, Of Montreal: “We Will Commit Wolf Murder”, The Boats “The Ballad of Indecision”, John Talabot: “Last Land”, First Aid Kit: “The Lion’s Roar”, Laura Gibson: “The Fire”, The Act of Estimating as Worthless: “Massive Windows”, The Men: “Open Your Heart”, Screaming Females: “It All Means Nothing”, Lotus Plaza: “Stranger”, Beach House: “On the Sea”, Death Grips: “I’ve Seen Footage”, Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny: “Atlas”, Spiritualized: “So Long you Pretty Thing”, The Chromatics: “Kill for Love”, Pg.Lost: “I am a Destroyer”, Guided by Voices: “Starfire”, Fiona Apple: “Regret”, Orbital: “Beezledub”, Twin Shadow: “Golden Light”, Carter Tutti Void: “V2”, Mount Eerie: “Through the Trees pt. 2”, Dirty Projectors: “Swing Lo Magellan”, Dope Body: “Weird Mirror”, Frank Ocean: “Pyramids”.
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Old 2012.07.17, 06:14 PM   #4
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Honorable mentions tiem. Yeah, even with twenty-five in my last post there's still a few albums I find at least worth mentioning. Awe Naturale by Thee Satisfaction. The Only Place by Best Coast is unjustly underrated, as is Regina Spektor's new one What We Saw from the Cheap Seats. Real Punks Don't Sing About Girls by Bronx Cheerleader, Reign of Terror by Sleigh Bells I thought was pretty good. Kindred by Burial, A151 by Kishi Bashi. One that I have marked down that I really like, but always forget until I listen to it is Memoryhouse's The Slideshow Effect. There's no Leaving Now by Tallest Man on Earth. Something really out there, The Nihilism by Torturing Nurse. Not saying I "Love" it, but I don't think that's the point on that one. And lastly: Ornkey Symphony of the Magnetic North by The Magnetic North. Just more stuff to google if you're looking for something else.

Now on to Son I am Dissapoint!
Grimes - Visions: Very dissapoint on this one. I heard the first two songs to drop from this album, "Genesis" and "Oblivion" and was pretty psyched and was actually checking the blogs and trackers to see if and when this thing was going to come out and then when it did -- nope. I just feel it lacks any real emotion at all. Her singing is okay, the sounds are mostly good, but its just sort of all hazed together into a wrinkly, but ultimately flat listen. Doesn't connect with me at all, and I've tried multiple times.

Tokyo Jihen - Tokyo Collection - Son I am dissapoint! Ugh. You may tell me to temper my expectations on a live compilation, but I have been advocating for a live Tokyo Jihen release for years. Nearly a decade. Even when the band was bad, they were still pretty good live. Then it finally happens and it's this joyless, perfunctory coaster. Once one of my aunt's made Caldo for my family's sunday get-together and one of my cousin's commiserated how the soup tasted like it was made without any love. That's exactly how this felt.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - The Lion, The Beast, The Beat - woof. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have been on my radar for a while and I've always wanted to sit down and listen to one of their full works. When I saw they recently released an album, I relished the opportunity. And what a sour time that turned out to be. The record just seemed paint-by-numbers, nothing unique going on. The band has always looked and sounded from a specific time in the past, but they never sounded so past their expiration either.

Metric - Synthetica - Metric is pretty consistent. Sure they never really wow you throughout an entire record, but the lows are quickly forgotten amongst the very tall highs. This album lacked those highs. Dissapoint.

Ty Segall and White Fence - Hair - Ty Segall has all the hallmarks of an artist I dig. Guitars, garage rock, fuzz, rasp. But for some reason for Ty Segall, it never comes together for me. I liked the title track off of his album last year -- and that was about it. I even enjoyed White Fence's own release this year (Family Perfume Vol.2) but for some reason I just don't find myself coming back to a Ty Segall record. And this guy is indie-royalty at the moment. He's like early 2000's Ryan Adams, releasing, guesting, starting new projects left and right. Maybe I'll revisit this again and enjoy it more later, maybe I'll like his Slaughterhouse release. But for now, I'm still not on the Ty Segall train.

Son I am EXCITE!! I am pretty excite for the impending Cat Power record. My girl, Beth Orton just dropped a song and announced an album due in October, got that puppy pre-ordered. As do I have my pre-order for Centipede Hz the new Animal Collective album (I'm secretly hoping that too is in the trend of Swing Lo Magellan.) Aimee Mann has got something on the way that just leaked, should probably listen to that. I'll check out the new Ariel Pink record, Ben Folds Five has something coming out. Really? I'll check out the Kenderick Lamar LP and of course the second Mount Eerie release.

2012, is that all??
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Old 2012.07.17, 08:59 PM   #5
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I would like to add La Sera's Sees the Light. It's a pretty fantastic album full of power pop hooks and a punk-y production. I was very impressed. All of the songs are really short so they each have a good burst of energy in them. It's not experimental or deep or anything, but it's really, really fun.

I have also enjoyed new Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple, because you know how much I like quirky women and their pianos.

Reign of Terror doesn't quite hit the noisey heights of Treats, but it is still very enjoyable.

I'm not yet going to listen to new Dirty Projectors because I still haven't finished Bitte Orca (it's simply not an album I can listen to in one sitting).

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Old 2012.07.18, 03:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Superficial Fan View Post
Zaki Ibrahim - Every Opposite. This one too I need to give some more time, but it's impressed me enough I'm willing to go with it. Ibrahim is a Canadian singer with South African roots. I've already posted a great dance remix video for one of her songs that nobody responded to, so I may be alone here in caring about this. Incredible voice over R&B/dance/pop/dance-pop, etc. Feels very independent to me. The full album is streamable here: http://zakiibrahim.bandcamp.com/
I listened to your CLT post when you posted it, and checked out the album. The power of lurking. I have a feeling this happens often with CLT.
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Old 2012.07.18, 05:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TurtleFu View Post
I would like to add La Sera's Sees the Light. It's a pretty fantastic album full of power pop hooks and a punk-y production. I was very impressed. All of the songs are really short so they each have a good burst of energy in them. It's not experimental or deep or anything, but it's really, really fun.

Reign of Terror doesn't quite hit the noisey heights of Treats, but it is still very enjoyable.
I really enjoyed the La Sera album too! My only problem with it is that every time I listen to it, I get interrupted. I really gotta come back around to it.

I agree about Reign of Terror. Its good, but to me the band sounds really conscious about what kind of songs worked on Treats.
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Old 2012.07.18, 09:43 PM   #8
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Sheesh, way to make me feel like I haven't listened to anything guys. I've been sooo lazy about following and/or listening to new releases this year, but a couple have really stood out to me:

Beach House - Bloom (album)

Loved it the first time, got bored the second time, can't get enough of it twenty spins later. I wouldn't love it half as much as I do without "On The Sea" and "Irene" and the wonderfully hidden track that sounds like a Devotion outtake to carry the second half. They really do have an "every album sounds the same" thing going on, but they're only making necessary tweaks to make music exactly how they want.

Originally Posted by Tokyo Jihad View Post
Beach House is the kind of band where if you’ve heard one of their records, you’ve kind of heard them all. But on the same page, how many times have you followed an artist and they put out a new album that you just wished was more like the last one? I think Beach House is a kind of experiment in that dream. Compared to 2010’s Teen Dream, Bloom is the less immediate record but is also the one that seems to bloom larger.
Thank you for summing up exactly how I feel about this album! It's amazing how they keep things the same in so many aspects, but make giant leaps of progress at the same time. Also, I'm so glad that I love Devotion now since it didn't click back when I jumped on the Teen Dream bandwagon.

Galileo Galilei - PORTAL (album)

Originally thought it was sloppy compared to their debut album, but after a few more listens (and the removal of "Aoi Shiori") I grew partial to this one. They seem less hesitant to show their Foals/Two Door Cinema Club/Foster the People influences this time around and it really pays off. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending how you see it, all the standout tracks ("Sayonara Frontier" "Freud", "Good Shoes" and "Asu e") are jammed back-to-back right in the middle.

Modern Rivals - Sea Legs (EP)

I still cannot fathom how these guys can give this away for FREE. It's all very Vampire Weekend meets Arcade Fire meets Arctic Monkeys meets the Morning Benders meets Animal Collective but still stands on its own.

Sakanaction - Neptunus (song)

This was such a relief after the single's hospital drama tie-in a-side "Boku to Hana" ended up being a total clunker. If I was the shaking and crying type, the first time I heard this I would have had a shaking and crying moment. They've really perfected that anthemic chorus business; the transition from the second chorus is seamless. It's gotten a lot of comparisons to Radiohead if that'll get anyone here to check it out.

SHINee - Sherlock (song)

I give my sister so much shit for listening to One Direction yet I love a Korean boyband. Whatever, this song is awesome despite the obvious copy and paste verse-chorus dynamic. The EP would have been fine if they hadn't marketed said copy and paste practice as a "hybrid song" gimmick and included the redundant "Clue" and "Note" tracks.

Various Artists - Moonrise Kingdom (soundtrack)

The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe, Parts IV-VI

I'm looking forward to upcoming albums from Grizzly Bear, Bat for Lashes, Tokumaru Shugo, BoA, along with Sondre Lerche's live album. It'd be pretty awesome too if Vampire Weekend and Sakanaction's new album came out by December. Hopefully Annuals can get some backing to distribute their long-awaited Such Fun follow-up too.

The only real letdowns for me have been the new albums by Purity Ring, Friends, Amuro Namie, and Tokyo Jihen's EP. I still need to listen to the new Dirty Projectors album, and what I've heard so far from Channel Orange sounded fantastic.

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Old 2012.07.19, 08:39 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tokyo Jihad View Post
Metric - Synthetica - Metric is pretty consistent. Sure they never really wow you throughout an entire record, but the lows are quickly forgotten amongst the very tall highs.
100% agreed so far.

This album lacked those highs. Dissapoint.
I've listened to most of their albums quite frequently in the past 8-9 months, because I didn't know them before and I kinda came to like their sound (even if I could never say so about the singer's voice) and compared to the others, I think Synthetica doesn't have less highs - IMO there is no significant difference in quality of the songs.
I do have to say, though, I was quite surprised by Lost Kitten. It's a sound I'd have never expected from Metric and it suits them well - as long as it's not overdone (Moon-Kana anyone?).
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Old 2012.07.20, 09:25 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Tokyo Jihad View Post
If EDM is music that’s not traditionally my style, then industrial music would be out-and-out alien. Yet Transverse, the live collaboration released under Carter Tutti Void is breath taking. Its heavy, but not overwhelming, and just approachable enough to draw my ears.
I'm really baffled by this. I'm not trying to turn this into a competition at all, but: how much industrial music have you heard (especially of the "roots industrial" sort, as I like to call it, before it became more formulaic later on)? You obviously listen to and have listened to a ton of music, but Transverse seems extremely close to a number of Throbbing Gristle and related things I have heard over the years. I guess the absence of a screaming Genesis P-Orridge could make it a little more approachable. I used to listen to Psychic TV and Throbbing Gristle all the time, and this sounds very much of a piece with what I used to listen to. (I don't actually care for most of it now.) How much Throbbing Gristle have you heard? If anything, the Chris & Cosey stuff I've mostly heard has been a lot less abrasive and more dance oriented than this Transverse project. Maybe you are missing out on some other (mostly older) music along these lines that you'd enjoy.
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