Saturday, 30 April 2011

Interview with Morgan Kibby [M83 / White Sea]

Earlier this week, I got an email from a man promoting an artist. Nothing new here, until I saw that it was the newest project from Morgan Kibby, best known for her work with M83. I kept reading and then I saw that I could interview her. Then I read that bit again to make sure my eyes read that properly, which they did. A couple of emails and an anxious wait and here it is!

Hello Morgan. Thank you so much for doing this interview. So, tell us a bit more about yourself.
Thank you for having me! More about me....hm... I was born in Alaska, I love analog synths, I could live on cheese and wine, I used to restore art, currently reading A Lover's Discourse (it's THICK. Dying.)


When did you start to gain an interest in music and what were the first things you listened to as a kid?
I studied classical piano until the age of 14, and growing up my parents never really listened to the radio aside from public radio. Jazz and classical comprise my first musical memories. It wasn't until about 12 that I started listening to other genres, particularly hip hop.


What instruments do you play? Were you taught how to play them, or is it all self-taught?
I studied classical piano and cello with a teacher, and have self taught on guitar, synths, a little autoharp (though i can't pick very well) and I'm currently trying to learn drums


Tell us a bit more about White Sea. How did it start and who's a part of it?
After finishing tour with M83, I was pretty clear that I needed an outlet when not working with Anthony, hence White Sea.
I met some incredible musicians on the road and ended up working with two of them: Ray Suen, who played with the Killers, Mariachi El Bronx and the Flaming Lips, and Jonathan Bates who played guitar with M83 for a leg of our tour and had/has his own projects, Mellowdrone and Big Black Delta. I also play with Amy Wood and Jonathan Leahy of the band The Broken Remotes. All of them are fantastic musicians and friends, I feel very blessed to have found them.




I know it's been out for a while, but explain to us your EP, This Frontier.
I'm influenced by so many genres, that when I first set out to try and define the White Sea sound, I got stuck. I finally gave in to my love of electronic, pop, 80s, western soundtracks... and just set out to write 5 good songs. I hoped that the common thread that would keep people listening would be my voice and production style.




What is the process of creating a new song? Is it something planned out for a long time or is it a trial and error process?
Sometimes it's the most daunting drawn out process, other times it's easy as pie. I suppose it's just hap-hazard in terms of experience. With the Ep i started songs by programming drums, lots of toms and 808 sounds, and then built vocal loops and melodies on top. For the next record I'm setting out to write songs first and then produce the track around its core. I live in constant fear that i'll never write a good song again.


What equipment are you using right now?
I have two main synths in my studio, a Juno-60 and an MS-2000. I work on a protools rig through a Digi003 and have a really wonderful Pacifica pre-amp. Not to mention the countless instruments i seem to have collected... 6 guitars, a twelve string, basket full of precussion, bass, cello, auto harp, Horner pianet, harmonium...the list goes on and on. I'm constantly experimenting. My next purchase are the Arturia soft synths.


You have a fantastic singing voice. Do you take care of your it often and prepare it before studio sessions or shows?
Honestly...yes and no. Which is terrible, because I know that by not practicing I'm just limiting myself. I do warm up throughout the day before important shows and sessions however, but I'm not consistent which is nothing to brag about.


M83. Saturdays = Youth is a brilliant album. When did you meet Anthony Gonzalez and how is it like to work with him?
Anthony is one of the most visionary and incredible musicians I've had the pleasure of working with. I met him through a french director friend who I've known for many years. She played him my music and he asked me to participate on Saturdays=Youth.




What are your plans for the future?
White Sea is in the midst of writing a full length album, and personally I want to continue remixing and producing for other bands. I've scored a couple films in the past and I plan on trying to do more.


Finally, describe your sound in three words.
Hopefully. Not. Sucky.


It was a fantastic privilege to be able to interview her and I actually quite like this interviewing business.

Massive thanks to Kenny Choe from EchoForward that helped me set up this interview.

Yay, Alex.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A Very Warped History 9: 2001 (1 Of 2)

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2001. Aphex Twin releases the long awaited sequel to the cult classic Richard D. James Album. Press reaction was somewhat mixed upon release, something tells me they were expecting RDJ Album 2.0 (and rule #1 of Aphex Twin is never expect anything). So when it came to picking up this album about a year ago I had the press were telling me it was a letdown, and a friend of mine actually said not to bother with it. But my mind was saying "hey, it's Aphex it can't be THAT bad right? Besides, I've bought a few albums that the press didn't much care for that weren't all that bad". And with that, I dove straight in without even listening to any of the tracks.



Drukqs, while not his "best" album (certainly his longest, clocking in at 30 tracks) it does have it's moments and is also arguably his most personal album, with the skittering beats and everything that makes that sound so uniqley his turned up to 11 (His reasoning being that he wanted to push the new software of 2001 to it's limits.) and the track titles being in Cornish. However these tracks that we've come to know the Twin by are intersected with some lovely poignant piano pieces, (actually programmed to be played by sequencers rather than actually "played") These pieces contrast so much with the tracks proceeding them that it shouldn't flow well at all. But it does. In fact the album OPENS with one of them.



I quite liked the atmosphere the first track gave, this was my first time listening to the album so I had no idea what was coming next. And then it hit me. the first time I listened to the album I was on a very long road trip back from the middle of the English countryside and I had to actually stop myself from grinning like a madman. All the press complaints suddenly made no sense. The mangled and cut up beats, the soft melodic synths, this was still undoubtedly Aphex Twin.



This juxtaposition of sounds continues on later tracks, for example on this one the synths lines introduced at 1:08 just sound fantastic to my ears even more so when it joins the rest of the mix. This is followed by a change in styles around 2:44 where for once Aphex adopts an almost conventional drumbeat, interjected by a brilliantly executed sample after which Aphex resumes his regular beat carving techniques, all leading up to that crescendo of noise at 3:54. A favourite of mine for sure.



Probably the most known piano based track on here, odds are you've heard Avril 14th somewhere before. But that doesn't take away any of the beauty from it, to think that something like this could come from the same guy who made Ventolin is a real testament to his musical flexibility. Oh, and be sure to listen through headphones, for this one and a few others Aphex put microphones inside the piano, so if you listen carefully, you can hear the internal mechanisms working away.



This next one... This next one. I can't even begin to describe it, it's just an eight minute journey though the mindset of Drukqs and perhaps the best track here. filled with ups downs and twists and turns. Just immerse yourself in it.





Another piano piece and the most obviously Cornish titled song on the LP there's not a real lot to say about this one, it's like the others we've heard so far, though this one is a bit more dreamy compared to the sounds on Avril 14th and Jynweythek.

Aphex Twin - Hy A Scullyas Lyf A Dhagrow


QKThr (Or Penty Harmonium, as it's called on the vinyl) bucks the trend with the piano bits, as the vinyl title suggests it's played on a harmonium instead, leading to that rustic seaside shanty sound that plays into the album's "personal" feel



Afx237 v.7 is another tune you might recognise, Chris Cunningham used it in his now infamous short film Rubber Johnny. It also breaks the trend set by other Aphex style tracks so far on the album, moving away from the tried and tested light synths and beat barrages of Vordhosbn and the like, and instead bringing a much more experimental feel to the sounds.



And topping it all off is the final track and yet another piano solo, Nanou 2. the (presumably) sequel to Nannou from the Windowlicker EP ends the LP on the same not it began on, only this is a lot more melancholic, with some sparse keys punctuating the otherwise silent track. In my mind is a perfect closing track for Drukqs, especially since it's the last we've heard from AFX in ten years (Analords excluded).



You'll notice that as we progress through the years a lot less of these releases will be tarred with the "Classic" label. Perhaps they haven't been out long enough to be considered Classic, perhaps that label was thrown around too much in the early 90's, I don't know. The latest record I saw described as a classic from Warp was Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma and while it's a good album, I don't think it's worthy of that title; It just didn't have that same connection with me like the older stuff from Warp, I don't know what it was but it was lacking that something to make it extra special. And I leave you with that thought.

Sounds Of The Post-Millenium,
- Claude Van Foxbat

Monday, 25 April 2011

Public Holiday

Oh hi, again.

Enjoying my 3 days weekend, I thought I'll share with you some new stuff.



So, let's begin by taking sneak peek at the forthcoming Beastie Boys' album : Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 that will be released on May 3rd. If the 30mins film wasn't enough to convince you that they're back, this will.







Because I'm a nerd, obviously - Mortal Kombat - Songs Inspired By The Warriors.

The soon to be overplayed Skrillex song. I don't know how to feel about this track, but I really REALLY like it, in a weird way, is it a guilty pleasure, or simply great ? You tell me, but it might be the best song to listen to while beating up people, honestly.



Another massive track, from Bird Peterson.



Too bad all the songs are not as good as those two, the Sound Of Stereo, Congorok and 9th Wonders are pretty good aswell, the others are pretty average, sadly.

U turn. A new track from Monsieur Adi, I'll make a whole post about this guy, because he diserves it.

Monsieur Adi - Chariot

And I'll end this post with two way smoother songs, by Digitalism and Destronics.





Enjoy
-Here

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Not My Cup of Tea

Hey guys It's Nite again, and Today I'm going to just post a quick one on request of a Mr. Earl Grey. Long story short, I was talking with him one day and he requested me to put up some of his new music on the blog, and I agreed. Unfortunately, he did not grant me permission for downloads for most of them as he is planning to release them on a future EP/LP (not sure yet.) So, the best I can do atm is post up his soundcloud links for you to indulge in. Enjoy!



Kick It by Earl Da Grey

Heavenly Motion by Earl Da Grey





Next Post coming up: Gorillaz-The Fall album review.

Peace,
Nite

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Stop. Listen. Think.

My last post on Locust Toybox got me listening to similar sounding stuff. the kind of tracks that get labelled "IDM" (And as much as I hate calling that I'm going to have to for now) Anyway, as I was browsing through my collection I queued up some of my favourites I had an idea: "I could make a post out of this!" I thought. And I did. So sit back and enjoy a few of my favourite tunes from that ever enigmatic genre known as IDM.




I know I said way back when that I only really liked Autechre's first and second albums. Turns out I lied, I picked up Tri Repetae a few weeks ago, and I was completely taken with the second track. to quote a friend of mine "It sounds like space condensed into music form"



A track from Squarepusher's debut on Richard D. James' Rephlex label. It's more like conventional Drum 'N Bass, well as conventional as you get from Squarepusher at least what with it being nearly 8 minutes long and all. Excellently titled, nice breaks, great sounds. And that's all you need to know.



Another record I picked up recently from Clark. Body Riddle flows from track to track amazingly well and is basically a good album all round. The final track is what sealed the deal for me, not only does it drop TWICE but it eventually descends into a wave of full on abrasive noise. And like the rest of the album, it flows into it so smoothly that I didn't even notice the first time.



μ-Ziq (or Mike Paradinas to use his actual easier to type name) has always been a friend of RDJ, exchanging tracks and creating the collaboration album Mike & Rich: Expert Knob Twiddlers with him. μ-Ziq always seems to be overshadowed by Aphex, which is a shame really because he has some amazing tracks of his own. take this one for example, if the synths at about 2 minutes in don't grab you I don't know what will.



And of course what post would be complete without a dab of Aphex Twin eh? or better yet, AFX. Taken from his Hangable Auto Bulb EP (the EP title and this track's name are also anagrams of Analogue Bubblebath, AFX's first EP) HAB is pretty much the precursor to the compositions and sounds we'd hear a few years later on Richard D. James Album And seeing as that is one of my favourite albums of all time, this track goes down a treat.



And to top it off, one of Boards Of Canada's earlier releases on Skam Records, the Hi Scores EP. The release is a lot more Techno based than the stuff BoC are known for, but is still quite similar to their later works most obviously during the intro, which could pass for one of their shorter interludes. When the intro fades however, this track becomes a different beast, unleashing some thundering beats and menacing sounding synths. The little riff introduced at 3:43 gets me every time.



So there you have it, a few of my favourite slices from this unique niche in the world of electronic music. I Just adore some of the production in these tracks - especially the longer ones, they're the kind of tracks you just get lost in.

And I Still Miss You,
- Claude Van Foxbat

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Locust Toybox

David Firth, Internet animator best known for his infamous Salad Fingers series, also has a number of music based side projects including I'm The Manager and The Grape Digging Sharon Fruits. Locust Toybox is another one of these projects, and unlike the others is a purely electronic affair. If you've ever seen any of Firth's flash cartoons you can hazard a guess at what his tracks sound like. For those who haven't everything ranging from 8-bit chiptunes to full on ambient is covered on his 8 albums. it's quite hard to sum up in words due to the constant change in styles, instead check out my choice cuts below:



















Oh, and since Firth is a really nice bloke, You can download ALL EIGHT of Locust Toybox's albums for free (and legally) HERE that's over 100 tracks for nothing. Enjoy Find Locust Toybox on: Myspace Soundcloud Last.fm There's Trouble A-Brewin', -Claude Van Foxbat

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Z.E.L.D.A

Those of us from the 8bit era are jizzing their pants right now...





Nuf said,

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Mind Bokeh (Album Review)

So Bibio's new album Mind Bokeh is meant to be released on the 4th. wait, what's this in my post today? A package from Warp? No, it couldn't be... surely not...



Oh. A full two days early? Yup, and since the US has had it since the 29th I'm gonna review it real quick. Mind Bokeh is UK Based electronic musician Stephen Wilkinson A.K.A Bibio's sixth studio album, and his first after 2009's Ambivalence Avenue, though fans of that record's "Folktronica" sound will find little to pique their interest here, to quote the man himself: "I'm looking to move away from that, I don't simply want to be repeating myself". In fact, as well as having little connection to the sound of Ambivalence the tracks on this LP have almost no connection to each other, either. A few reviews have complained about this lack of cohesion, I personally don't mind it but I can see why it's been criticised. If you approach it with an open mind it shouldn't be too bad, to quote Bibio again: "I called the album Mind Bokeh because I'm interested in the effect of defocussing your mind"

Onto the tracks, the only single so far and the first track: Excuses, a tune that's less like Bibio and more like one from James Blake's recent self titled debut. Well, that is after the 2 minute melodic intro. after that though is fantastic, establishing the experimental nature of the album. Stay tuned for the sonic onslaught at 4:21.



Another dive into the experimental, with Bibio expanding upon his known style, with some discordant keys and off kilter beats thrown in, which I wasn't a fan of a first but I grew to like them the more I listened to it. It gives the whole thing a hazy 60's psychedelic vibe that he does oh so well.



One of my favourites from the album, I knew from the first 30 seconds or so that Anything New had all the workings to be my spring/summer jam for this year, lighthearted and catchy with smidgens of the "Folktronica" stylings, it's definitely an early highlight and one of the standouts on the album.






Wake Up! sounds like it would be an excellent track to do just that to, if the intro is anything to go by. The main focus here is on his own vocals which fans will know he does very well, not much goes on in the background until about 1:50 where there's a sort of psuedo-breakdown with some synths. This part doesn't really do it for me, in my opinion the track works better with his vocals than without.



Light Seep could pass as a B-side from Bibio's past with the heavy use of that ever so funky wah-wah guitar, but like so many other tracks on this album it deviates from that style with some synth hits here and there and even a solo about halfway through. Another one of my favourites.



This track has been compared to French rockers Phoenix, and is destined to appear in some flashy advertisement some day. Coming in exactly halfway through the album, it's another example of him trying to cover as much ground as it can within it's 12 tracks. In a lot of reviews this track is critiqued for not sounding like anything before or after it, and while that's true, I like it. It's nice to see him try something outside of his known style, same could be said for the whole album really.



Artists' Valley treads familiar Hip Hop ground, reminiscent of earlier tracks like Excuses and Anything New. The majority of this track is instrumental, and a damn fine one at that, everything flows so well I can't think of any particular elements to pick out. Clocking in at six minutes, it's quite lengthy, but true to the album's concept I've found myself surprised by it ending, feeling like it had only been on for about 3 minutes instead of 6.






I was unsure of this next track for a long time, the sampler video didn't really give a lot of insight into what it sounded like, and I was divided while actually listening to the track. It was good, but it needed that extra something to push it over the edge. I wasn't disappointed, the excellently executed squelchy synth solo at 1:51 pushed this track from good to amazing in a heartbeat. Absolutely brilliant stuff.




Bibio lists one of his major influences as Boards Of Canada, and his favourite album the classic Music Has The Right To Children. And it's particularly evident on the title track of the album, a brief soundscape similar to the ones BoC are famed for. This is sort of an opposite though, not because it's bad, but because while BoC's soundscapes feel (and are) short, this one is short but feels like it lasts forever and that isn't a bad thing at all.



More Excuses is well... More of Excuses. albeit with different lyrics and backing, this time sounding less like James Blake and more like the Bibio we know. Like it's bigger brother, it also has an amazing ending section, from 2:40 onwards a storm of breakbeats is unleashed along with the now mandatory synthesizer accompaniment.



Another track that the press didn't really like, Feminine Eye is the shortest track here, just shy of two minutes. Because of that there's not a real lot to say about it, it's got that lovely 60's feel we've heard earlier and even some sax towards the end. It's not amazing, but it's not objectively awful either, I'd call it decent.



The final track is another ambient-ish piece, the main guitar riff that forms the melodic backbone of the song gets cut up, distorted and more over the six minutes. While the track is fantastic as a whole, I wouldn't recommend it for repeat listening, I really dug it the first time and I still do, but around 5 minutes or so I always find myself looking for other tracks to put on.



It's a brave move to release something so varied, with no real reference point. Bibio pulls it off, if only just. While I like the album, I feel it would have been better to have more hip hop based stuff thrown in to break up the more experimental stuff, à la Aphex Twin's Drukqs. That said, there are some real gold tracks in here, and you should definitely check it out. Though if you're new to Bibio I'd highly recommend you start with Ambivalence Avenue and then move onto this, if you're already a fan just dive right in.

Final Verdict: Overall decent album, a bit ropey in places. Enjoyable though incoherent. 8/10 Love it? Hate it? tell me what you think in the comments :)

How Was I Supposed To Know?,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Friday, 1 April 2011

Korn/Skrillex collab forthcoming

3 in a row. I'm on a roll. This says a great deal about the future of dubstep. Betcha can't wait for the track to come out, right?