Sunday, 5 April 2020

Lousy Smarch Weather

NOTE: Hi there! I'm going through the backcatalogue and re-publishing all the posts I can find. I'm re-posting them as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. This post is originally from March 2016.

Enjoy,
-CVF


I woke up to snow today. I thought we were done with that but evidently not. So naturally I went lookin' for some tunes to warm things up a bit. Here we go.

Kent Bellows - Kitchen Counter: March 1983 (Dirty Dishes) (1983)

And what better way to do that than fire up this one from Projections' debut LP. A lot slower than the Bossa Nova of say Thievery Corporation's Saudade but still carries that sound sensibility with it. The breakdowns are gorgeous, and there's plenty of them to be had over it's 6 minute run time.



Keeping things downtempo with another visit to my man Nightmares On Wax. This one was particularly ironic as I grabbed my brekky this morning, talking about spring in Egypt as I watched the snow out the window. The tune's not too shabby either I s'pose, deffo a highlight on Carboot Soul



Bibio has a new album out this April too, seems to be a theme for him and I can't blame the guy, his tunes definitely have a sweet spring / summery vibe to them. So I decided to go back in time about 5 years and give Mind Bokeh a listen again. My updated verdict? Still as sweet as ever.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Lost In Fog

NOTE: Hi there! I'm going through the backcatalogue and re-publishing all the posts I can find. I'm re-posting them as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. This post is originally from March 2018.

Enjoy,
-CVF


A post that's been long overdue today, as I talk a little about the musical stylings of Akira Yamaoka, the man responsible for a great deal of the soundtracks for the Silent Hill series. Now if you know anything about games you might know that the Silent Hills are a little spooky to say the least, and as you might expect some of the soundtrack reflects that, often being quite literally industrial to go with the rusty chain link structures of the otherworld presented in the games. We'll dive right into things right after the album art of the original soundtrack in all it's 90's CG glory.



But that's not to say it's all brutally oppressing in it's atmosphere, in fact some of the tunes are quite nice. Contrast that link I posted above to this tune here. Same soundtrack, just some 20-odd tracks apart, only instead of sounding like the inside of a forge we're instead treated to some trip-hop flavoured goodness, opening with some vinyl crackle and a lonely acoustic guitar. The end result wouldn't sound too out of place on one of those dime-a-dozen lo-fi hip hop youtube vids, but I think Akira's got them beat seeing as he was making stuff like this in 1999.



That's not conjecture on my part either, Akira's work on the Silent Hill games takes a lot of inspiration from dark trip hop from the likes of Portishead and co. (there's even a texture of a Portishead poster in Silent Hill 1, here's a better shot of it). I dare say there's other points of reference too, The Reverse Will from the second game leans more on the trip hop side of things by bringing some scratching into the mix, but also I think touches on some Boards Of Canada territory too as about 55 seconds in there's a reversed sample of a child (one of the game's VO cast, actually) reciting the the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer. On paper that sounds very much like Boards' modus operandi on Geogaddi with it's slightly occult undertones and general unsettling vibe, however Yamaoka's soundtrack actually predates Geogaddi by about a year.



And finally, the tune that made me want to make this post in the first place. The soundtrack to Silent Hill 3 has the least of the heavy industrial overtones and more of the ambient and trip/hip hop stuff, there's so many good tunes to pick from but if I had to choose only one it would be this. End Of Small Sanctuary is part of a select few tunes that put me on a highway to nostalgia town, like all those others I'be talked about in the past that I used to listen to shit 96kbps rips that I'd got off limewire on my whopping 256MB mp3 player. Aside from that personal attachment though, I still think it's a solid work in it's own right. It's nothing crazy complex or particularly long, but it nails the atmosphere its going for and more often than not I catch myself going back for just one more listen before it ends.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Friday, 27 March 2020

Heaven Can Wait (2020 Re-visit)

NOTE: Hi there! I'm going through the backcatalogue and re-publishing all the posts I can find. Something a little differnt this time as the origianl article was thin on the ground, so I actually wrote up a couple of new paragraphs about the content. Should you want to see the original post You can find it here.

Stay safe and enjoy,
-CVF


I occasionally re-stumble upon the 3 mixtapes that short lived Joel Ford & Daniel Lopatin project Games put out. If you're at all familliar with Joel or Daniel's work you will see some parallels. The way I always like to boil it down is that these mixtapes are a much, much more accessible version of Daniel's founding Vaporwave project Eccojams

The methodology is fairly similar though, chopped and screwed version of retro songs; but whereas Eccojams was more experimental a la John Oswald's Plunderphonics, the Heaven Can Wait series is very listenable indeed, it's amazing how brilliant some of those melodies sound when slowed down (but as long time readers will know, I am a sucker for any kind of vocal distortion to boot). The first instalment is my favourite I think, but there are choice cuts throughout. If you dig volume one most certainly check out the other 2!



-Claude Van Foxbat

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Nostalgia Trippin'

NOTE: Hi there! I'm going through the backcatalogue and re-publishing all the posts I can find. I'm re-posting them as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. This post is originally from February 2018. I am actually re-playing the TimeSplitters games on an emulator at current now I am mostly at home, go figure.

Stay safe and enjoy,
-CVF


I've posted at length several times about my love for Graeme Norgate's Timesplitters soundtracks, they were supremely influential to a young Foxbat dipping his toes into both the world of electronic music and shooters. But a lot of that attention has been focused on Timesplitters 2 (which to be fair had the majority of my time back when). So today I thought I'd do a cross section of some good tunes from the other 2 games, the OG and Future Perfect. Get a load of those character models from 2000.

I thought I'd start with something a little unassuming first, the soundtrack to the built in mapmaker mode. I know I dole out a lot of criticism for generic productions and the like, but I have a real soft spot for menu themes and tracks like this. It's a little bit like ambient music, Norgate's sound engineering skills put to the test to make a tune that fills the silence but won't drive you out of your mind as you edit and re-edit variations of your map. Maybe it's the nostalgia talking, but I think I could slip a couple tunes like this into my cosy electronica category.



Something I especially like about the overall design of the Timesplitters soundtracks as a whole is how Norgate plays with the genres on display, fitting given he location and time-period hopping backdrop of the games. Compound is a one-off big beat come trip hop style tune with samples and some vinyl scratchin' dotted throughout. It's a one off composition that only appears in the multiplayer map of the same name, which sounds like a lot of effort on its own but this is just one of many tunes from the OST that are made for that exact purpose.



I like that tunes like the above are decidedly non-videogamey in how they feel. The same kind of applies to the final tune I have for you from the third instalment, Future Perfect. Here Norgate stretches his trance legs and takes us on a 7 minute ride. It'd be just as at home on the dance-floor as it is with deathmatches, and I've been often tempted to throw it into one of those mixtapes I put together semi-infrequently. The break at 4:15 is so deliciously in the style of old school trance euphoria and I adore it. Thanks for all the good times, Graeme.



-Claude Van Foxbat