Alex Menzies

Order & Disorder

A plaintive piano melody escapes from a tiny speaker into an empty warehouse. A classical quartet tries to work out an arrangement for “Strings of Life,” locking together as four voices to pound out those battering block chords. The second law of thermodynamics has been accepted as an axiom: energy dissipates and matter disperses.

Alex Menzies ghosts through genre boundaries and compositional styles at will. His 40+ item catalog of physical objects under the Alex Smoke moniker for labels like R&S and Soma Quality Recordings showcase his complex technoid production, ornamented with striking harmonies and percussion patterns that bloom and complicate as each track streaks forward under its own momentum. The music he made under his given name for a BBC physics documentary entitled “Order and Disorder” bears evidence of his years of electronic experimentalism, while detailing a combinatory vision of modern electro-acoustic / classical composition — carried over lush piano harmonies, expanses of mechanical drone, and the voice of his cello.

The 22 miniatures that make up the Order and Disorder LP, due April 27 from Ricardo Donoso’s ascendant Kathexis Records each bear their own arc of activity, shifting from entropic grinds into layered systems of multi-textured tones over the course of their brief lifespans. We recognize some familiar voices within the arrangements, as synth and piano eke out chord progressions over hissing field recordings. Stream the entire album in full here, and prepare your brain to parse through the glistening details of Menzies’s song cycle. “Disorder Main Theme 2” pounds out its triumphant arpeggios alongside a rich string arrangement that keeps the harmonic grid twisting back onto itself. “Order Ligeti” channels the Hungarian legend’s dense tone clusters into a pitch black murk of electronically augmented voices. “13 Disorder 4E” clicks and bubbles with a seemingly randomized synth patch that reveals itself, as more layers creep into the mix, to be quite tightly tethered to its attendant elements.

Like Nils Frahm’s recent explorations of the possible intersections between classical performance and the avant electronic tradition, Menzies’ work stretches its tendrils through disparate disciplines without ever sacrificing its eminent listenability, its clear craftsmanship, or its beauty. Split apart from the documentary’s visuals, these pieces create their own illusory worlds, populated with afterimages of atomic diagrams and the staves of manuscript paper.

• Alex Menzies:
• Kathexis Records:


“I Am The Alpha and the Omega”

Shadowy death metal group Abyssal have re-emerged with news of a new album. Ostensibly the follow up to 2013’s Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius it’s called Antikatastaseis and will be released on June 23rd. Not much else is known at this time except the track list and that it will see release in some form by Profound Lore. Here’s the first track from it, which is called “I Am the Alpha and the Omega.” Ruminate on that.

• Abyssal:
• Profound Lore:


Streams Of Rising Air [mixtape]

12z (pronounced “onetwozed”) is a Hungarian electro-acoustic duo and member of SHAPE that has released albums on Farbwechsel and, most recently, Nicolas Jaar’s Other People imprint. In their music, Bálint Szabó and Márton Kristóf channel our soft-focus habits and culture-vulture aesthetics through unpredictable configurations and fluid recombinations, finding a seductive, always-shifting middle ground between improvisation, electronic composition, and appropriation.

For Streams Of Rising Air, a 17-minute work that they call a mixtape, 12z offer “special fragments of the recording process” from their upcoming album, Trembling Air. These fragments unravel slowly and methodically, blending hazily into each other to create a rich tapestry of harmony, melody, and timbre, with repetition, sampling, and processing continually shaping the sounds and, therefore, our reception of them. According to the group, the fragments “somehow reflect the concept of the album not in its entirety but like tiny mosaics and one can still get an immediate taste of how shortly cut and heavily processed traditional music samples from all around the world can be merged with uncompromising yet melodious electronic music.”

12z’s Trembling Air is expected in the fall on Other People. Stream Streams Of Rising Air here:

12z will be performing as next week’s ICAS Festival alongside many other SHAPE-affiliated artists. Since our last story on ICAS, the fest has announced two new waves of artists, including TMT favorites like Lotic and Evian Christ. 12z will be playing SHAPE’s showcase, alongside DJ Nigga Fox, RSS B0ys, Yves De Mey, Borusiade, Chra + Irradiation, Martin Bricelj Baraga & Olaf Bender, Etienne Jaumet, and many others. Check out the full lineup here.

• 12z:
• ICAS Festival:

Alice MIMA

“E U P H O R I A”

At this point on the spectrum of modern glazed eyes, how many genres of -gaze have been made-up and created? Because I’m thinking we could add another, and the honor of its initial inception goes to Alice MIMA’s “E U P H O R I A,” accompanied by a blissed-/hued-out video, as the world’s best first example of bit-gaze. Completely drifted guitar. Bit-cored rythm line with echoing claps. A light bass that antagonizes listeners into the pupil gloss. Staggering yet stable resonance between the drumming and melody. Visuals of each pixilated note. Like grains of color within a color that’s less refracted by light, and more-so generated by intuitive collaboration. “E U P H O R I A” ain’t lying in title. And Alice MIMA ain’t waiting, as their newest release is coming soon to Prefix Tapes. So expect a bit more 10-mile stares coming soon!

• Alice MIMA:
• Prefix Tapes:



It’s no secret that grime has begun to unshackle itself from its once solitary London isolation. Not only are British regional variations beginning to bubble up, international artists like Houston’s Rabit and Australia’s Strict Face have appropriated grimes’s cold, harsh themes and aesthetics.

At the forefront of the expansion of the genre’s instrumental arm has been Boxed, the London club night and scene incubator around which many of the most prominent producers amass. Boxed is run by Mr. Mitch (recent Planet Mu signee and owner of Gobstopper Records), Slackk (lynchpin and now R&S allum), Logos (weightless pioneer and Mumdance collaborator), and Oil Gang. It is to instrumental grime what FWD>> and DMZ were to dubstep: the melting pot of styles when tunes get birthed and tested, when micro-scenes gestate and producers — new and old — mingle with adherents. It is the scene incarnate.

Iglew, a young artist based in Leeds, is the newest signing to Mitch’s Gobstopper label (a now formidable institution that has more eyes on it than ever due to its strong Planet Mu connection), and his debut EP Urban Myth is a good indicator of how grime has evolved from its brash, humble beginnings at the beginning of the millennium to how it sounds today — simple toned, minimal, melodic, exotic yet still brimming with the youthful naivety and energy that was so endearing at its inception.

We have an exclusive stream of the EP’s closer, the ethereal sawtooth and square-wave-powered “Cymatism,” a heady slice of minimalism that epitomizes the direction the genre is heading at this moment in time: weightless, with the same reliance on space that characterised dubsteps first iterations. Take a peek below and cop the EP from Bleep or Redeye. It’s out officially next week.

• Iglew:
• Gobstopper Records:



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CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.