Saturday, 11 July 2020

Time Capsule

As part of the archiving process, you come across little snippets of past you. Sometimes you don't recognise them, sometimes it's like running into an old friend, and today's post is one of the latter. It's a mix (if you can call it that) that I put together to tide things over while I took over the nitty gritty of site ownership from Jordan. It was intended to be a celebration of all things electronic which is why there's a bunch of variety and a whole chunk of throwback blog house near the beginning.



It was certainly ambitious; there are some questionable choices here and there but having listened to it back in writing this post I am still pretty happy with how I managed some of those transitions (but then again I say that about all these mixes I dig up). The song choices are a brilliant rundown of my listening back then, a real clash of new and retro that I suppose is just fully retro now thanks to the passage of time! Still, it's an interesting piece of mine and the site's history that I hope you dig. As always stay safe and enjoy the music, tracklist follows:



Tracklist:
The Knife - The Bridge (Hannah Med H Soundtrack, 2003)
Rex The Dog - Frequency (The Rex The Dog Show, 2008)
Surkin - White Knight Two (Next Of Kin EP, 2008)
Miss Kittin & The Hacker - Electronic City (Two, 2009)
Boys Noize - Frau (PUZIQUE Remix) (Oi Oi Oi Remixed, 2008)
Boys Noize - Shine Shine (Apparat Remix) (Oi Oi Oi Remixed, 2008)
The Prodigy - Omen (Reprise) (Invaders Must Die, 2010)
Teenage Bad Girl - Vacuum (Cocotte, 2007)
Danger - 13H12
F.U.S.E - Nitedrive (Dimension Intrusion, 1993)
Vangelis - Tears In Rain (Blade Runner, 1993)
Orbital - Halcyon + On + On (Orbital 2 (Brown Album), 1993)
Goldie - Timeless (Inner City Life) (Timeless, 1995)
Omni Trio - Sanctuary (Skeleton Keys, 1997)
Commix - Fallen (Fallen (Single), 2013)
Current Value - Into The Light (Into The Light / Deep Digger, 2005)
Venetian Snares - Szamár Madár (Rossz Csillag Alatt Született, 2005)
Sigur Rós - Takk... (Takk..., 2005)


-Claude Van Foxbat

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Return To Form

Having looked over the last few pages of draft posts. I don't think they'll be anymore generic republished ones. I will make an exception for mixtapes and the like but otherwise it will be all Original Content™ from here on out. Partly because I feel the quality of my old writing doesn't reflect who I am now and also because I feel like it's been a bit of a cop out. So if you're OK with maybe waiting slightly longer for posts but having them all be new then good news! I'm also trying to swap over to Bandcamp players where possible if you've noticed, it's actually been fairly painless and means I can write posts not at my desktop too. Nothin' too special this time, just some new and old tunes I've been listening to, just like old times (but new!)

Fernand Leger - Forms In Space (1950)


Fell back into VA​-​11 HALL​-​A something fierce. Everything about it is supremely my aesthetic and it has a sublime OST to boot, how can you not love something that has the official website URL of 'waifubartending.com' ? The great irony of me falling in love with a game about Bartending while I WAS a bartender isn't lost on me, those were... interesting times to be me. The OST remains as solid as ever, I've posted a couple of the big hits from it in the past so instead here's a lesser known one. It still does a fantastic job of setting the mood, all the gorgeous elements that make the soundtrack are there, down to the melodic leitmotif that appears on multiple tracks trhroughout.



It's been a while since I mentioned Mitch Murder, responsible for a large portion of the retro electronic sound in my library (And showing me that the pedantic sub genres of electronic music know no bounds by having some of his releases labelled with 'Yuppiewave'). We're going back in his catalogue here to Selection One, a compilation series (of 5 currently!) of free songs he'd put out over the last year or two. One is from 2012 and is an excellent jumping in point if you're new to the scene; a quick rundown of his productions with some remixes on the end to boot. Mitch's work always hits differently with me, compared to say the Slasher themed high tempo Electro from Carpenter Brut, Mitch shifts around genres and moods regularly: sometimes bordering on full on Vaporwave, sometimes lush but surprisingly powerful slow jams like this:



And finally, an EP from DMX Krew that I narrowly avoided scooping in my last bandcamp haul. In addition to some of the old Rephlex material making it's way to digital platforms, Ed From DMX is also still fairly active and drops new releases on there too. Rest assured it's near the top of the list for picking up next time though, I've been listening to the opening track from Don't You Wanna Play? for a few weeks now but I have to ration it, because it's one of those tracks that I immediately start vising with from the intro alone. Of note, there's no tongue-in-cheek lyrics or self aware irony to the sounds on this one like there has been on other DMX releases I've talked about; it's just super sweet somewhat deep House through and through.



Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Retro Reviews: Circ - Love Electric

It's been a long time since I did one of these, and I've also been holding onto this release in particular for just such an occasion. So with that, let's take another trip down memory lane with another album firmly in that earl to mid 00's electropop revival scene; think artists like Fischerspooner and Ladytron mostly. Circ is a duo consisting of Alexander Perls & Madelin Lane (better known by her stage name, Madelin Zero), much like Golden Boy & Miss Kittin, they only have the one album and a couple of singles to their name, having gone off and done their own solo projects afterwards, with Circ ceasing to be in 2005. And you know I love to talk about semi-obscure one release acts from 20 years ago. Let's get into it after the art.



Not to overuse comparisons much but the Golden Boy & Miss Kittin one rings true once more, Circ's biggest hit is Destroy She Said, though unlike Boy & Kittin it didn't hit number 1 in the dance charts or anything. And part of that is the dated nature of it, which sounds obvious speaking from the far off year of 2020 but there's an interesting tale behind that if you'll hear me out. See Destroy She Said was originally recorded in summer 2001, and if the rumblings on the internet are to be believed the single's release was delayed after 9/11. Lots of pieces of media were affected by that day, but it was definitely the right choice to make here, given the opening lines are "Like towers falling down".

Do I think an earlier release would have made it more popular? Maybe, it certainly would have found more contemporaries in terms of sound that's for sure. By the time of the album's release in 2004 it would have already been showing it's age, never mind how it sounds now. Still, as I've said in other overviews of releases of the era, I have a certain fondness and maybe a hint of nostalgia for tracks like this, they're very evocative of the era. That and you all know I have a bias to anything of this kind of persuasion, I think Madelin's vocals twin excellently with the production on this album throughout, and Destroy She Said is the prime example.



Unlike other retro reviews I'm going to be jumping around the tracklist instead of going in order, for some reason the digital release and Spotify version has a different tracklist than the CD you see, this one was fittingly the final track on the original CD release. Jumping back on the comparison train once again, it's tracks like this that made me make that Fischerspooner/Ladytron comparison in the first place, definitely more 'Spooner especially here; they're both of that school of smooth electronic with surprisingly visceral and a smidge depressing lyrical content (like ADULT. in that respect too, now I think about it). There's an almost electroclash feel to this one too, a track about the post-party depression like this one wouldn't go amiss there.



While I do like the sound of the above two, the album really shines on other tracks. The title track (curiously retitled Electric Love on the re-release) plays out almost like slow Drum & Bass; like a more upbeat sounding but slower tempo Everything But The Girl. It certainly feels more modern than the previous two at any rate. Madelin's vocals work excellently here too, dare I say better than on Destroy She Said (But that's to be expected given the ~3 year gap between the recordings). I think the main issue is it's not as memorable as the others without that edgy side to it, but it was still released as a single which I think was a good choice.



Somewhere is actually the first track I checked out way back when after Destroy, and it very much reminded me of Felix Da Housecat's Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever, doubly so when the same Mac text to speech voice from Felix's Watching Cars Go By makes an appearance on one of the breakdowns here. Tracks like this aren't going to blow you away but I think they're well made, and putting my obvious nostalgia bias aside for just a second, being of that electopop revival makes them very listenable. This album isn't going to be a challenging listen, it's more often than not by-the-numbers House. But sometimes that's just what you need.



One thing I will say about this album is that the choices in Singles are impeccable. You have Destroy leading the charge, with Love Electric capping things off which leaves Close Your Eyes in the middle. Does that mean it's forgettable? Absolutely not, it almost stands alone in terms of sound on the LP and seems to have been designed with being a great single in mind. The overall thing gives me very Chemical Brothers vibes (Who coincidentally also have a tune with the same title from Push The Button!), even down to the guitar-y backing on the choruses. The standout moment though is that incredible and obviously euphoric trance inspired breakdown around 2 minutes in. It's a little out of left-field for a track that until now was a distillation of the era's 'dance music' sound, it's an incredible addition and makes me wonder how this LP would have sounded with a little more of that influence throughout.



Closing out with a token slow jam as was mandatory to release a dance music album at that time. It's not the album closer on either version but I think it would have worked well as one. It opens with the same Mac voice as Destroy She Said curiously enough, before giving way to twinkling arpeggios and lonely piano stabs. As always Madelin's vocal contributions very work well here, if anything they're the main focus here, though that focus only highlights that there is some.... questionable delivery of some lines, especially towards the end.



And that wraps that up, as I said before I'm not of the opinion that this album is incredible or anything but I do like it. At any rate it's an interesting curio of it's age that's fun to revisit, but maybe if you're like me you'll appreciate it a little more. To re-use that food analogy that I like to drop in all so often; you can't have the finest steak for every meal, sometimes you just want some comfort food. I'm a firm believer that all media is the same way. I appreciate you reading my thoughts on a very old album and hope you are keeping well. As always: Stay safe and enjoy the music!

-CVF

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Cover Stories (2020)

NOTE: Hi there! This is an older post that I've re-published and am re-posting as a new article too just so there is visible content going up. This is going to carry on for a while as I fix the ~8 years of broken links in the archives, but do note that the next post will be an original one! This one's a lovely case of things staying the same, good art is a large part of me checking out an album or single, but I definitely have some bad examples in my collection too! Please put up with my slightly dated writing, This post is originally from August 2012!

Enjoy,
-CVF


I've heard people say that album art isn't particularly relevant anymore in the new digital age; now that's not true for me, for me the artwork is a big part of the experience and can give you a look at what the album sounds like before you even start listening to it. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of my favourite covers and tracks then shall we?



Opinions vary a bit on Two, but that's to be expected after their debut First Album became a cult classic, and one of the releases that helped coin the term 'electrocash' and I love the artwork for both of their album releases. Two works for me because it's simple, it gets the point across in terms of sound evolution while keeping that retro-ish aesthetic that the two subscribe to on the LP, it's a perfect compliment to the intro track as well.




Moving on to another Two now, with Boards of Canada's debut Twoism. It's still in that nice area before Music Has The Right To Children where BoC still had a slight techno edge to their sound alongside their usual detuned synthesizer affair (especially so on the little bonus interlude on the end of this track that is also on Music Has...). The artwork for this is pretty great, and has a similar story to Memory Vague I posted earlier: it's a screencap of an old 80's sci-fi B-movie called The Killings At Outpost Zeta. I think it works well here, though I'm not fond of the scribbly typeface they used, regardless, enjoy.




Probably the best example in this list of 'it looks how it sounds', Felix's cover for Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever features, fittingly, bright pastel colours, neon flashes and sparking electrics and the man himself in a glittering gold jumpsuit. There's a lot of east/west clashes in the art from the rising sun motif in the back to this famous Japanese woodcut making an appearance on the left hand side and the background, it doesn't really have any significance in respect to the album's sound but it's still a nice small detail. Regardless, I think the art works in complimenting the tunes as they bounce between upbeat and downtempo numbers.




I thought the cover to µ-Ziq's Lunatic Harness was great, and ripe for variations thanks to that flat, easily editable orange background. Turns out Mike had already beat me to it with the covers for the My Little Beautiful and Brace Yourself EPs, which feature the same setup with altered colours and positions. This is a case where I think simplicity works in it's favour, everything in the cover is arranged nicely and nothing seems too out of place, right down to the type. Of course, thanks to some typically speedy and cut up drum programming, it doesn't quite suit the sounds 100%, but it still works to compliment the tracks.



I apologise for the tracks being a bit thin on the ground here, but I didn't want to clutter the post with too many images you see. Besides, odd numbers always look better in a composition, so this gap right here with no picture will make the post look nice and clean! Also it's mine and coincidentally the blog's birthday tomorrow! I suppose you can call this post a reverse gift then?

Rule Of Thirds,
- Claude Van Foxbat