Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Mad Archivist

There's been a running theme in the last few posts of preservation, there's tunes I've found and like that either only exist in one spot of the 'net, or simply aren't there at all. This has always irked me a bit, I've never liked the idea of something just being gone, which has happened over the years I've been out there. Now I realised early on that you can't save every piece of music out there just because there's too much of it to go around but I do my best to grab bits and pieces of what I like, it's a bit of a quirk of mine, one that I've come to define as being a 'digital hoarder' (not to demean any folks with that issue in real life mind).

Richard Hamilton - Archive I (1981)


I have all sorts rolling around on my drive for that very reason. The work of Karin Dreijer's first band in her pre-The Knife days? I have that. I saved one of my favourite game soundtracks of all time in the early 2000s, and I was actually vindicated in that case, the company went bust and the soundtrack wasn't available until the composer put it up on bandcamp. I still have both copies regardless too, because in my mind they're both different though the bandcamp one does have some extra tracks on it. Similarly, I ripped the Soundcloud version of Brian Reitzell & Daniel Lopatin's The Bling Ring Suite because it was at a different tempo AND structured differently to the release version, and that version is no longer on Daniel's soundcloud.

This might seem like a futile effort, but it's super important to me, I believe archival of media is crucial for not only records sake, but to hopefully inspire future creatives too. A few of us are doing our part though, here's a Oneohtrix Point Never mix I posted back in 2010/11, and it exists nowhere else on the 'net than my old soundcloud. I thought about adding it to discogs, but there's really not too much info I could say. It's a CD-R with a little bit of text on that says "Objects In Mirrors Mix" that was a bonus pack-in when I ordered Rifts from Bleep.com back then. I've tried to fill out the tracklist as best I can, but even so it's still thin on the ground (808 State's Flow Coma and Ann Steel's My Time being most prominent.) It used to have downloads enabled but the limit's been hit in the years gone, so if anyone wants to add this to their own archives, you can do so here.



Longtime readers might recognise the name Untra. I certainly do, even before I was on the writing staff let alone running the place they've been around, and who's avatar has always been quite fittingly the word "Revive". And this next tale is actually the reason for this post, as after a quick exchange on twitter, we got our virtual crate digging boots on with a goal: resurrect a long forgotten mix from a dead website (lasermag.net for those curious). Thanks to the Internet Archive & The Wayback Machine, I was able to pinpoint the year and month of the mix being posted, but unfortunately not the page itself. In what was a total crapshoot I tweeted at the author of the mix, who longtime readers might also recognise, GMGN. To my surprise and delight, he came through and happily DM'd me a link to the mix, and (with permission) Untra has archived it among many other mixes from years past (including some from ilictronix!) on mixcloud, where it will hopefully be preserved for many moons to come. And thanks to mixcloud's tracklist system, you shouldn't have nearly as hard a time tracking down individual tunes from it. So with all that out of the way, please enjoy.



It feels like we've come full circle here, after all emailing an artist to get a copy of a long forgotten tune is precisely what led to me getting on the writing staff in the first place. You can still read Jordan's initial posting, and the full tale of how I came into possession of the track in the comments from a pre-blogger account Claude Van Foxbat.. We'll continue our mission to keep records of all things electronic for now and ever, if you have any leads on, or copies of any obscure mixes, drop me or Untra a line, our twitters are: @ClaudeVanFoxbat and @Untra. Super special thanks to GMGN for coming through with the mix, having it stored for all this time, giving us a copy and allowing us to archive it on Untra's Mixcloud!.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday, 9 October 2017

Alive '07 - 10 Years On

I know I bang on a bit about how old some parts of my collection are, waxing nostalgic about getting my lil mitts on anything electronic via limewire in the early 00's. But today's something I've been planning for a while: with all those anecdotes I don't have a solid date for when they first entered my library, there's been at least 3 PC rebuilds since then so "File Created:" is no good, but today's tale is a little different because I know exactly when I got it. November 2007.



It's hard to believe it's been a whole decade since Alive 2007 entered my life. Young Foxbat was a 13 year old high-school student who'd recently gotten together with his first proper girlfriend and was deep into rekindling his love for electronic music. And what a year I picked for it, 2007 was (and remains) and absolute scorcher for all things electric, and it should come as no surprise that Alive 2007 is one of the keystones of it. It's an absolute tour de force of the Punk's discography up until that point, using material from all their albums and a few extras. As seen here with the use of Busta Rhymes' Touch It, mashing it with Oh Yeah From Homework, then transitioning that into Technologic proper, garnished with oddly enough a small part of Voyager from Discovery. Typed out like that it sounds like a bit of a mess, but if for whatever reason you've never heard it before, trust me that it is nothing short of fantastic.

Daft Punk - Touch It xx Technologic |HTML5|


It's not ever a one off though, as immediately it's followed up with Television Rules The Nation with a touch of Around The World (and as the title says, Crecendolls later). One thing I've seen about Alive 2007 but never really understood is the people who say they didn't like Human After All until this album. I'll admit I'm a little biased as I was in the throes of an electro overload at the time but nothing much about the HAA songs is really changed on these early tracks so I never could understand it. That's not to say that these live versions aren't bloody fantastic regardless though. This is one of the tunes I use to test out new soundsystems, when the full grit of Television Rules The Nation comes in at 1:00 is pretty special.

Daft Punk - Television Rules The Nation xx Crescendolls |HTML5|


Safe to say my little mind was pretty happy with the events up to this point, but the Punk weren't even close to started yet. This one marks the first appearance of some original accompaniment, the backbone of the entire song doesn't appear elsewhere on their discography (and came to be dubbed Aura Rock by the community IIRC), you can find a million and one re-creations and edits to remove the crowd sound on the 'net but I don't think it needs it personally. The album was up there to begin with, but this was setting it well on it's way to becoming a 10/10, I try not to swear too much on here but if you've never heard this I urge you to, for it's nothing short of fucking fantastic.

Daft Punk - Too Long xx Steam Machine |HTML5|


Not content with just that, the album rockets straight into the top 10 of all time with a live version of perhaps the two most famous Daft Punk songs to ever exist. Oddly enough it was also released as a single from the album, but the full fat one here beats the radio edit by a long way. If the last few tracks haven't convinced you yet, Alive 2007 is more than just a glorified Daft Punk DJ set with some extra stage design, It's just an absolute masterpiece, and a milestone for electronic live albums.

Daft Punk - Around The World xx Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger |HTML5|


If I had it my way I'd do a full track-by-track breakdown but I don't fancy getting into yet another copyright headache, so skipping forward a little in the track-list to perhaps one of the more creative re-samples on the album, Face To Face here is backed with a cut & pitched up version of the vocals from Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, it even gets a little solo time to shine around 2 minutes in or so. It's not a floor shaker like the previous examples but it's still a damn fine listen. Oh, and the ending portion of Short Circuit is one of my favourite breaddowns/outros of all time, and it's put to masterful use here, I will never not love that slow decent into glitchy-ness.

Daft Punk - Face To Face xx Short Circuit |HTML5|


I'm skipping a few more tunes to finish off (including the Aerodynamic/One More Time mash up, which is almost criminal). Instead I'm going to leave you with the Encore to the show,which does a fantastic job of summarising my initial point of it being one huge discography tour. The Encore starts off with a reprise of the Human After All motif from the very start of the album, incorporates some bits from Para One's remix of The Prime Time Of Your Life before adding the vocal hook from short lived Thomas Bangalter & DJ Falcon collab Together. It all goes off at 5:24 though in amazing fashion, if you're wondering why the crowd goes mental, here's a video of the light show at that time (this was before the Tron OST too!). AND THEN on top of that One More Time makes another appearance, and so does Stardust's Music Sounds Better With You to boot. Absolute perfection.

Daft Punk - Encore |HTML5|


I'm in love with it still even after 10 years, the same can't be said of the girlfriend I had at the time though. I still can't really wrap my head around how long its been, safe to say a whole lot has changed but the album has always been a constant, and I'm showing no signs of getting tired of it anytime soon. Here's hoping I'll be back here in another 10 come 2027 to write about it's 20 year anniversary. Until then stay tuned, stay safe, and I'll see ya soon.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Nil Locales

Time to check in with my favourite roof-based band, the Celiling Demons. They're back with their latest offering, this time an album by the name of Nil. Things are going to get a little serious from here on out, so I'll leave you with the accompanying text for the album:
"In our time, depression and suicide litter the land like the broken bottles under our feet. Anxiety and detachment leave us feeling like ghosts. We turn to methods to cope, in bad habits and goodbyes. Amid this cold scenery, alternative hip hop group Ceiling Demons return to confront the emptiness"


I've no shortage of tunes dealing with a similar subject matter, be it the brutal honesty of Aesop Rock talking about his nervous breakdown on 'One Of Four', the resolute pessimism of The Mountain Goats asking life to do it's worst, Trent Reznor's idle rage on 'Everyday Is Exactly The Same', and the thick melancholy of Beth Gibbons of Portishead. And hell, even from unexpected sources such as ADULT. with lines like "Just when I think I'm in control, I fall apart again".

I could go on, but why have I even bothered to list those examples you ask? Well as a fellow inhabitant of the mental health issues boat, it's an issue very close to my heart (that and me and the Demons share a Northern background and all the associated trimmings to come of that too) And the Ceiling Demons have offered their own arrow to the quiver of media in this vein. And it all begins in a much different fashion than we're used to, The Rose with a stripped back acoustic approach accompanied with what I can only describe as wounded delivery. It's a fantastic mood-setter and a brave move to open with something so different in terms of sound to boot, with the added bonus of establishing the light/dark theme running throughout.

It's not long before we hit the first counterpoint, Chasing Dreams in Nightmares, a return to more familiar territory, albeit a much more aggressive angle than the last few we've covered so far; to quote a Gorillaz title, Spitting Out The Demons. As someone who turns to things like writing these posts, or re-visiting my 1001 side projects in times of strife, the bars at 1:44 resonate with me pretty deeply.

My feelings towards March Forward remain much the same as last time: I touched on the positive vibes last time, and it's present again here which I appreciate a heck of a lot. After all, this is what made me draw the comparison between Aesop Rock's One Of Four and themselves in the first place (particularly towards the end when Aes and the text to speech voice start looking up again). Unfortunately the positive angle can be a difficult one to do without sounding glib, but as I said last time I think the heart shines through here.

A return to a more skeletonised structure on Dust, I'm of two minds with this one, as I was listening I thought I'd quite like it to be an instrumental introspective bit around the middle ground of the album, but as it went on things got more intense and the intention finally clicked. It's difficult for me to listen to, not because it's bad or anything along those lines but rather it touches upon some real and raw areas for me. It's more of a compliment than anything when you frame it that way, that they've managed to capture the mindset so accurately. Not to say my instrumental wishes weren't granted mind, towards the end we have the almost-ambient Scattered by the Squall, which in hindsight is a better place for it, nicely setting up the epilogue Elegy of Nil, book-ending the whole experience and in keeping with the theme of contrasts, is a complete 180 from the minimalist intro, instead we're treated to an explosion of strings a la Don't Get Lost In Heaven / Demon Days.

It's an intense experience, perhaps one that may not be for everyone, especially for casual listening. But naturally not all music is for that, on the whole the LP is well structured and is thematically consistent throughout, and through that I think they've well achieved their aim of confronting the emptiness. And hopefully it'll connect with and lend a metaphorical hand to some people that were in that same place as me a few years ago.

You can find more Ceiling Demons on:
Bandcamp
Soundcloud
Spotify
Twitter
Facebook

-Claude Van Foxbat

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Lost & Found

You ever find some tunes you like, but they seem to have disappeared of the face of the net, legal or otherwise? I have a few of those strings to my bow, be it Alexander Polzin's remix of Rippin Kittin, to my most recent foray into techno with Mijk Van Dijk's 'Magic Marble Box Vol. 2: Tokyo Trax EP. It seems as the years go on I'm finding exceptions to the rule of 'if it exists, it's on the internet' which is a bit of a shame. Still, it's been a productive few days for me picking up some tunes, some rare and some not so (and some not suitable for the blog). Let's get stuck in.


Friedensreich Hundertwasser - Island Of Lost Desire (1977)




Starting with another rare J Pop addition to my collection. I did have a few already (and let's be real, it was only a matter of time after being bitten by the Macross 82-99 bug). I think it has a lot to share with other easy-going, cosy electronic I've mentioned in the past like Plone, though without that slightly lo-fi edge that Plone had throughout their stuff. Longtime readers of the blog might hear a little in common with Celadon City too, in fact I tweeted this at him a couple days ago for that very reason.

Sasaki Sayaka - Zzz (Instrumental) [click to download] |HTML5|


Keeping things in Japan for the time being, tracked down the name of another one of the surprisingly electronic pieces on the Jormungand OST. Sandwiched between proper orchestral soundtracks and some more acoustic moodsetters is this lovely little bit of IDM flavoured goodness. A little more ordered than your standard glitchy IDM fare, but man do I love those sounds, only complaint is that I do wish it panned out a little more, but it is meant to be a soundtrack piece after all.

Taku Iwasaki - Explain Music [click to download] |HTML5|


And happy accident to finish us out, these two flow together pretty well (albeit unintentionally thanks to the shuffle) and fits one last Japan mention in there to boot; a revisit from the last podcast with Casino Versus Japan's Local Forecast. In hindsight this album, Go Hawaii, could also fit into my newly coined cosy electronic category, tunes like this Metrobolt and Warm Windows all have that lovely slightly lo-fi edge to them that I think qualifies. Definitely check out those if you're looking for more in this vein.

Casino Versus Japan - Local Forecast [click to download] |HTML5|


-Claude Van Foxbat