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Album Review

Black Van Records Presents: Machine Punk
Black Van Records
Mastered by Rick Essig at Master Cutting Room

4 out of 5 mics

Black Van Records is a fairly new label on the electronic and dance music scene. Based in Brooklyn, Black Van's artist roster reaches clear across North America, from NYC to San Francisco and Vancouver.
Machine Punk, the labels first release, is a 6-song electro/techno/acid/downtempo compilation, with cuts offered up by The fFormula, Kamoni, Alonzo, Erland, and Nolan Fisher.
While there's certainly a lot of electronic music out there today in the shops and in the clubs, there isn't much like Machine Punk. The artists on this compilation are pushing their genres and almost forming new ones, by creating their own sounds via strange new, sometimes homemade, gear.

The first cut on the album, 'Cold Blooded ((Acid Cleanse))' is by The fFormula. This cut is some really nasty acid-house. This is not chilled out, Luke Vibert style acid ((not that there's anything wrong with that)). This track pounds the dancefloor and everyone on it with sick, distorted 303 synth and bass. Basically, lookout.

The second cut follows right up with some equally ripping sounds, but at a slower tempo. You can thank both Nolan Fisher and The fFormula for this one. They combine their styles to come up with 'Electroshock', and a sound that I can't even categorize. Definitely makes you move, but also makes you keep one eye over your shoulder. Dark electro sounds.

Erland allows everyone to catch their breath with the third track on the album 'Weed Makes Boredom OK'. Best song title I've heard for quite some time. Erland tweaks the whole downtempo/trip-hop style, using sounds that must have been created by a robot in his basement. This track sucks you in and bounces you along on a catchy melody provided by a snarly synth bass-line.

Kamoni gets everyone dancing again with the banging house track 'Kinetik Fanatik'. Kamoni is throwing down house that the Basement Jaxx wish they could be producing. This is hard 4/4 stuff combined with a fantastic sense of melody and dynamics. He brings you up, slams you down, picks you up again. Quite a nice guy overall.

Alonzo reaches into his back pocket and pulls out some Miami bass, reaches into his hoodie pocket, pulls out some 80's electro & and lets us have it. This is dirty, sweaty, 3am dancefloor stuff. Wicked vocoder sounds, mean booty-bass/kick. You have not heard anything like this.

'Highly Confrontational' from Nolan Fisher, finishes off the album. Far from being confrontational, this track is a head-nodder, and leaves you feeling good about the whole experience you just went through. Fisher is brethren to Erland in his downtempo style, but brings the hop-hop through to the front, leaving the electro a bit more to the background.

Very good sequencing on this 6-song comp. Overall sound is nice and rounded, though maybe a tad shy in the low-end. Crisp highs with no tin. Solid mids with no harshness.