May Diem
Oberwave Records

While the music on Moscow-based duo May Diem’s EP Euphorie is sung in German and feels of a piece with many other acts plumbing modern darkwave’s various shadowy corners, there’s also a some broader electro sounds being worked into the mix in intriguing fashion. While most obvious on the cut “Maus” with its old school vocoder and funky doubled up kicks, you can hear it working its way into the wormy synths and halting rhythm of “Es Regnet”. Even thought the title track that seems like a more deliberate homage to neue deutsch welle in its alternatingly punky and icy vocals, there’s still a decent undercurrent of the groovy approach to composition that keeps them from laying down straight four on the floor kicks. Closer “Latex” does perhaps the best job of wedding that approach to programming with their S&M sex club ambitions; you get plenty of breathy vocals and hard-edged synths, but the syncopated rhythm flowing underneath gives it a rhythmic push-pull for extra oomph.

Digital Geist - Traveling Without Moving
Digital Geist
Traveling Without Moving

Don’t let the warm, loping bounce of opening downtempo track “Folding Space” fool you – while that Displacer-like track and a couple of other bracing pieces certainly show off the crisp yet rounded sound design Alex Kourelis has brought to much of his work as Digital Geist over the preceding decade-plus, new LP Traveling Without Moving is a far deeper and more ambient trip than that first blush suggests. Kourelis works with twinkling kosmische programming, rollicking timpanis, and (digitally) prepared piano, but as the record progresses it grows sparser and more abstract, implying a slow drift into the aether, away from any human point. The space of the record (in the stereo mix, that is, not just the cosmic or astral place) is immaculately conveyed, very much carrying the sense of landscape and placement within it we recently discussed in relation to dark ambient, and while it may not formally fit the definition of dark ambient, it’s certainly conducive to the sort of contemplation and reflection that genre connotes.