Blisspop Presents: Feedback Friday

Here at Blisspop, we aim to show our audience who’s making their mark upon electronic music culture today. We sort through the good and the bad, bringing you the latest sounds. This brings us to the sixth installment of our new series, Feedback Friday. Our next batch of laptop critics / armchair journalists / Blisspop contributors includes: Patrick Blinkhorn, William Creason, Alex Rubenstein, Justin Barini-Rivers, and Michael Khalifeh. This week’s music includes tracks by Rush Plus, Inkke, Gabber Eleganza, Nu Guinea, and Ross From Friends. Check it out below and send us your suggestions for future Feedback Fridays on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.


Rush Plus – “Quick Release”

Patrick Blinkhorn - I love the kick drum / bass combination in this track. The high frequency sound effects here are also on point. This is a high-energy techno track that is a winner in every sense of the word. Congratulations to the Rush Plus lads — you continue to rep DC techno right! (9/10)

William Creason - A dream link up right here, DC’s top notch producers and exceedingly nice guys Rush Plus on Kevin McHugh’s Valence label (it’s worth noting McHugh’s connection to DC, outlined last year in a great article on  This tune moves in all of the right places, the rolling kick drums disrupting the track’s dusty surface, it’s a body mover from the first minute.  Tack an Ambivalent remix onto the EP and it’s cooking!  Gwan, RP, this one is another winner! (9/10)

Alex Rubenstein - Fuck, this cut goes hard. The relentless, thundering kick keeps this track moving at an almost violent pace coupled with otherworldly effects creeping into your skull at every turn. DC Based duo, Rush Plus, have delivered a techno monstrosity here with “Quick Release.” This is the musical equivalent of graduating from coffee to cocaine. Well done. (9.5/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers - I am very familiar with Rush Plus, yet I was caught off guard by this release. They produced a solid techno track, which is no surprise.The hi hats paired with the kick is all I really need in this tune. That serious groove built off those two elements is what techno is to me and this track has it. The textures they are pushing throughout also are worth mentioning. I love the depth they create in the mix. Looking forward to hearing Patrick rinse this one. (6/10)

Michael Khalifeh - Man, this started out promising, as it just instantly absorbs you into a deep and dark place with an entrancing low-end rhythm. Unfortunately, what you hear at the start is pretty much what you’re going to get for the full six minutes, with little to no variation in the breakdown, build up, and drops. Would’ve loved to hear some acid influence on the latter half on this to take it to the next level and keep the momentum pushing higher instead of staying in the same gear. It’s a good techno DJ tool but I see no real reason to revisit this otherwise. (3/10)


Inkke – “Lazer Combat”

Patrick Blinkhorn - That’s a really bold and aggressive kick drum rhythm to start off the track, but I appreciate that production move. The “lazer” synth lead sounds great. This is a very strong production overall — I would love to hear this in the club. (8/10)

William Creason - This is the perfect combination of VGM and grime, it really doesn’t get better than this.  The drums are ten tons heavy, the melody is simple enough to get your head nodding, but weaves its way through a few subtle variations.  This and 24 other grime tracks by some leading producers were given away by Boxed on Bandcamp.  After hearing this tune, I am literally downloading it as I type. (10/10)

Alex Rubenstein - Boxed has consistently been putting out instrumental grime classics for 5 years now, so I had high hopes going into their 5th anniversary compilation. This week we chose to highlight Inkke’s “Lazer Combat,” an in-your-face production that couples another huge kick with classic a grime riddim to fantastic effect. The sound is incredibly clean, and the synth lead keeps your head nodding while the bass keeps your body moving. This one will be on repeat, no question. (9/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers - I am a huge fan of Inkke. Always pushing creative sound design and arrangements. I love the big synth drunkenly rolling around as the drums throw tons of swing. This song feels like a party. Once the beat develops it really builds into itself adding SFX flourishes and more interesting drum fills. This track lives in a dark room with lots of speakers. (7/10)

Michael Khalifeh - Some proper grime! What a nice switch up. Definitely not enough of these type of sounds being explored amongst SoundCloud beatmakers. The LuckyMe family is always ahead of the curve in electronic music trends and I could easily see this being the next wave. This tune has a reckless nature about it and is just begging for someone to take up the mic and go in. It’s a fun listen in its own right. (6/10)


Gabber Eleganza – “Never Sleep”

Patrick Blinkhorn - After the intro to this track, I was very surprised by the kick drum coming in at 0:53. I really liked the panned low-end elements after 1:20 — they really spiced up the stereo space. I see how this is a well-thought out piece of music, but I probably wouldn’t listen to it on my own and I wouldn’t know how to dance to it. (6.5/10)

William Creason - “Never Sleep” is the latest release on Warp Records artist Lorenzo Senni’s Presto!? label. Similar to Senni’s deconstruction of trance music down to its bones, fellow Italian producer Gabber Eleganza forms a new sound by tearing the gabber rule book in half.  The thudding gabber kicks land in half speed like a fragmented footwork track.  The tension here is palpable, the song feels seconds away from tearing out at nearly all times.  As with Senni’s recontextualization of the often maligned aspects of trance music, I’m excited to hear a similar recontextualization of hardcore techno and “Never Sleep” is a thrilling glimpse into what that can look like. (9/10)

Alex Rubenstein - This is my first time listening to anything by Gabber Eleganza and it’s definitely got me feeling some type of way. The bass smashes its way into your head along with the stuttering rhythm creating a disorienting effect for the listener. Somehow, this still really resonates with me as the sound design is incredibly unique, particularly in the last minute as everything comes crashing back into focus. I will definitely be on the lookout for more Eleganza! (8.5/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers - I haven’t personally listened to gabber in quite some time. This was a quick trip to raves of past days. Nostalgia aside this is not the gabber I grew up on. It is slow and built more around rolling vibe than the stiff-necked head banging I am accustomed to. I expected something different from the title, but this does offer an interesting view into what the scene is pushing at the moment. A nice slow tempo gabber track with some creative sounds instead of the classic ones. (6/10)

Michael Khalifeh - We’re really pushing the boundaries of our palettes on this week’s panel! I dig it. I also dig this track, although I really don’t know why. I think the minimalist approach this gabber track takes makes for easy listening of this banger. It really doesn’t demand too much of the listener yet before you know it you’re caught up in letting this tune soundtrack your life. I can’t think of a more suitable name for the tune than “Never Sleep”. It just sounds like it was made by an insomniac lost in thought. (8/10)



Nu Guinea – “Ddoje Facce”

Patrick Blinkhorn - I love that subtle percussion in the intro alongside the lead. The bass, keys … all the instrumentals in here are gold. I don’t understand what the vocals are saying, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest — they have a great timbre and work well for me. I want to go somewhere south of the border and sip on a piña colada while sitting poolside with this track on replay. (9/10)

William Creason - This year I’ve been trying to increase my knowledge of Italo Disco, which is admittedly pretty poor. “Ddoje Facce” is exactly the sound I want to hear.  The bassline is effortlessly cool, the chunky analog synth is full of character, the vocals have an untrained and naive feeling to them which make them feel all the more soulful, and, my God, an excellent saxophone solo.  The Balearic vibe is so strong here, I can’t imagine someone not vibing with this. Wonderful! (10/10)

Alex Rubenstein - From the opening notes of this italo-disco exercise in funk, I knew there was something special here. This groove is slinky as hell and has me dancing around my laptop as I think of how to best sum this up. Can I claim this as my super hero theme music? Nu Guinea have an understated hit on their hands here, bravo! (10/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers - I hope by now you know I love disco. The slower disco vibes here with smooth vocals really keep me going. I imagine the small town pictured on the album full of the most laid back people enjoying some smooth music, but I digress. The reason I picked this track is the saxophone and the vocals. The saxophone easily fits in these jazz style movements instead of the usual horn fills seen in disco. The vocals seems to slide in and out of this smooth song and I wish I knew what she was saying. She got me from the first word. I look forward to hearing this on a rooftop somewhere this summer. (8/10)

Michael Khalifeh - Ah, this is a tough one for me. I like the homage to older sounds of disco and funk that are obvious in this tune, and I LOVE that the vocals are authentic to the place that it is from. Unfortunately the actual song itself just never clicked with me. It all feels too manufactured and precise in the sound and because of that it loses some flavor and character. For bands like this I like to feel like the music happened in one take, and this feels like it was all polished and put together in a mastering session. In addition, the song was also a little too rich and bubbly in melody for my tastes. (2/10)



Ross From Friends – “John Cage (Edit)”

Patrick Blinkhorn - I normally am not so into background noises like crowd noise or birds chirping, but the seagulls in this track work for me. I’m not in love with the snare sound or the pitched vocals in this track, but I can tolerate them. I think this track’s greatest strengths are its structure and overall vibe. I probably won’t have this in my rotation this summer though as the track didn’t click with me 100%. (6/10)

William Creason - Having heard Ross From Friends and John Cage, this is 100% not what I would have expected, but I like it and it perfectly fits the vibe of Brainfeeder.  The beach boardwalk through candy colored glasses vibe of this one reminds me of Lone’s 2008 album “Lemurian”, a chunky midtempo rhythm adorned with new age synth pads.  Now I’m intrigued to hear the rest of the album! (8/10)

Alex Rubenstein – This track is actually pretty fun. It’s got a laid back vibe to it and is a lot more straightforward than most of the stuff you tend to hear from Brainfeeder. The last minute or so captivated me the most and the bulk of the score comes from the exuberance displayed in this end section. I am not completely sold on this whole “lo-fi house” movement and was genuinely surprised to see Flying Lotus’ label pick this one up. Nevertheless, I put my trust in FlyLo and will still be checking out the EP when it drops next week. (7/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers - I didn’t know what to expect at all with this track. The drive on the kick is nicely paired with a smoother jazz style snare creating an interesting groove. It sounds like a Sade remix. Once the seagulls and spoken word come in this song is definitely rolling in some retro vibes. I feel like at times it pushes a little too weird for me, but I am able to stick with it. The full track is worth a listen as it builds out into something more uptempo and bouncy. (7/10)

Michael Khalifeh - Known primarily to this point for being a leader in the lo-fi house movement, Ross From Friends takes a big step forward in this lead single off his upcoming project on BRAINFEEDER. This track feels like the artist is opening himself up a bit to his fans, personally and creatively, to show a little more of his versatility and influences as an artist both aesthetically and in sound. The presentation of this track almost mirrors the exact progression seen in Peggy Gou’s most recent release as well. This is in no way an abandonment of his original style though, as “John Cage” still possesses the dreamy, intimate listening experience that his previous work did. All together it’s a complete song, fully thought out and leaves me super excited for what’s to come. (10/10)


The Winners and Losers:

Inkke – “Lazer Combat” – 8/10

Nu Guinea – “Ddoje Facce” – 7.8/10

Ross From Friends – “John Cage (Edit)” – 7.6/10

Gabber Eleganza – “Never Sleep” – 7.6/10

Rush Plus – “Quick Release” – 7.3/10