Saturday, 13 October 2012

A Very Warped Epilogue Five: The End

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So, this is it. One year and a bit, and with a boatload of posts behind me, It's finally time to close the door on Warped. Can't think of a better tribute to a label that's a legendary icon in the electronic world than that. There's still a bunch of stuff I haven't covered (Like Squarepusher's 1998 Jazz record Music Is Rotted One Note) so feel free to check the depths of Warp's back catalogue for yourselves! But before I go, I thought I'd give out one last smattering of tracks, just for old times sake.

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A couple more from the Warp20 (Unheard) Compilation now, starting with Boards Of Canada's stellar contribution: Seven Forty Seven. That absolutely sublime opening is just unreal, and not long after I got my hands on this comp I found out that that same opening had been used previously by the Boards on a rare compilation tape floating around the the internet. It's simply titled Audiotrack 6A, and is vital listening, both as a compliment to the finished Seven Forty Seven and just to see how far Boards Of Canada have evolved in time.

Imagine my surprise when I look up the tracklist for (Unheard) and find a Broadcast track that had slipped under my radar. I had heard demo tapes from their last LP put out by James Cargill not long after vocalist Trish Keenan's death, but this would be the first new material I had heard from them since. The chance to hear something new from one of my favourite voices in music was just amazing. It comes in the form of a cover of Nico's Sixty Forty, judging by the sound it's from the Tender Buttons era, with Keenan on top form as usual. There's a couple hisses on her vocal track like the pop filter was missing from the mic when they recorded, normally that would put me off slightly, but in this case I actually think it really compliments the track. A fitting finale for the band.

Long before Clark became my de facto supplier of melodic noise, he was already releasing LPs with warp under his full name, Chris Clark. His debut from 2001 has some real gems on it,including one of mine and fellow writer Here's favourites; Lord Of The Dance. I just love every little thing about this track: the beats, the melodies, and even that flute that just drops into the mix about a minute in. It shouldn't fit with the sounds there, but it just settles on down and makes it work.

There's a much earlier highlight for me on the LP, and it's the unassumingly titled Bricks. Like Lord Of The Dance before it, it wastes no time cutting to the meat of the track. there's no intro, no steadily paced bulidup with eventual payoff, it's just there. It helps that the track itself is pretty great throughout, showing off plenty of that unique style that Clark is known for. That is to say, pure abrasive sounding noise waves that have a melodic streak in them, lovely stuff throughout.

Another LP I missed was Squarepusher's Hard Normal Daddy which he dedicated to the Chelmsford rave scene, simply 'cos by the time I'd got it, we'd long since passed it in the dates for Warped. It gets a lot of mixed reactions, I'll admit there are a few track I don't necessarily care for, a lot that are really long (6-8 mins mostly). Regardless there is still quality on here, as demonstrated by the opening two tracks, Pusher's Jazzy vibes are much more pronounced on these two compared to his previous releases, starting off with Coopers World.

Rounding off the LP is the one track from it that is in constant rotation by me, Beep Street. The album may have it's less than amazing moments, parts of it may be too long, but what it did give us in Beep Street is quite possibly one of the finest Squarepusher tracks ever made. The track serves as a nice introduction to new listeners as it introduces all the things that make that iconic 'pusher sound.

Drawing things to a close for the final time now, I thought I'd end it with a track I've had sat around for a while, also from the Warp20 series, Leila's sublime and beautiful cover of Aphex Twin's Vorhosbn. True to the style of Drukqs, Leila has recreated the main melody lines from Vordhosbn, a typically AFX experiment in drum programming, on a piano. It's amazing how simply taking the bats away and slowing the tempo slightly can have such a massive effect on the track's feel. Leila more than did justice to the original here, and I can think of no better note or track to end on than this one. So, for the last time, Enjoy.

Warp ∞,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

A Very Warped Epilogue: Part Four

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The end isn't too far away now, but I couldn't just let these last couple of AFX releases go unmentioned. Join me now as we take a slight step back to 1995 in this penultimate edition of Warped, and look at the work of the Aphex Twin towards the end of his first analogue period, before going fully digital for 1996's Richard D. James Album.

Heading the attack have an EP released under RDJ's often used AFX moniker; originally released as a two part vinyl release in 1995, it was given a lovely CD re-issue by the folks at Warp. It sounds entirely unlike the stuff he was making under Aphex Twin at the time, and in fact I think it's closer to Richard D. James Album than ...I Care Because You Do in terms of sounds.

This next one I loved for a long time, it has a lot of sweet melodies in it alongside the now expected beat butchery we know the Twin for. It caps off this EP in impressive fashion with another anagram-ed title no less; my absolute favourite moments being the peak in sound round about halfway through where it sounds like the synths are being pushed to their limits and might just explode at any minute.

Unfortunately I didn't pick up Donkey Rhubarb in time for the first round of Warped, my reasoning being that it was a short EP. In hindsight though, I do recommended you check it out, the Phillip Glass remix/orchestration of Icct Hedral is something a bit out of leftfield but is most definitely worth your time. Amway, onto the stark raving mental title track: the opening is like condensed happiness, and then the acid style beats and bass roll in and it's a whole 'nother track.

Of course, it wouldn't be an Aphex Twin EP without the token downtempo number. This is Donkey Rhubarb's (which is also another animal + food combo), and it's among my favourites. It has a real lo-fi sound to it that I don't think is present on any other AFX tracks from around this time, normally I'd hate that kind of thing being all about quality an all, but it really does work in this tracks favour.

Finally, we end with the Ventolin Remixes EP. And true to AFX's signature way of taking the piss, all but one of the tracks sound absolutely nothing like the original, abrasive monster that is Ventolin. These practically original tracks are actually quite good, an early favourite of mine being the 'remix' by Cylob: a nice number with a lot of contrast between the rolling beat and the light sounding synth that is introduced later.

Playing us out is the Probus mix, which isn't actually the name of the remixer (there's no credit for it, I'd assume it was RDJ himself), a slice similar to the more downtempo bits on ...I Care Because You Do. It plays out similar to Cylob's mix, albeit with a more distinct AFX touch to it throughout.

Right, bloody hell that was a fairly long one wasn't it? Only fitting considering there's only one or two more posts to go before I'm done with Warped forever. It's been a long time coming, but join me next time where we may close the book!

Armadillo Risotto,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Friday, 14 September 2012

A Very Warped Epilogue: Part Three

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I don't even know how I managed to miss this one out of the main coverage, but at least I'm giving it the go-over now. Along with Richard D. James Album, this EP ranks high in my list of all time favourites by the Twin, once again, like with WIndowlicker with a lot of credit going to Chis Cunningham for his legendary video for the title track.

So what is there to be had here? well quite a lot actually, to the point where it's officially labelled as a 'mini-album' to fit within UK chart criteria for EPs (30 mins and under). It wastes no time in kicking things off with the spectacular bombardment that is the title track, which I'm sure needs no introduction, but I'll give it a go anyway. Like Windowlicker, there's not really a lot of insane beat tampering going on as you'd expect, but at the same time it's the complete opposite of Windowlicker in terms of sound. That was morelaidback and smooth, this is straight up in your face abraision.

The EP turns things 180 for the second track (frequently mislabeled as Film), introducing us to probably one of the lightest tracks outside of the Selected Ambient Works volumes that AFX has ever done. There's no introduction it just dives right in with all the elements already there, but each is just fantastically executed, that drum work and the light 'n airy keys just sound so right together.

I have an interesting story with this one, whenever I heard it I always thought "that's a neat idea" and then skipped it, thinking the entire track was based around the titular bouncing ball-esque sounds. It wasn't until I listened to a live bootleg that I heard the track in full, and that break at around 1:30 just absolutely blindsided me. On the strength of that I gave it a full listen and the rest of it is just quality, I'm still not a huge fan of that intro though.

Something unusual for an AFX EP next, it's a reworking of To Cure A Weakling Child from Richard D. James Album by RDJ himself. I have a similar taste for it as Bucephalus Bouncing Ball, the intro is OK, but the break and everything after 1:20 is downright spectacular, thanks to that updated rendition of the original's melody.

And finally, playing us out is another chilled number in the vein of Flim. Unlike its earlier counterpart, most of IZ-US is based around one melody rather than the back and forth exploration on Flim, but it's short enough and structured nicely so that it works. The ending of it, and with it the EP is a bit abrupt, but like a lot of AFX material released around this time, it's not about flashy endings.

Of course, I couldn't just have all that build up and then leave you hanging without the video could I? no, unlike the EP itself, we're going out with a bang with the infamous visual compliment to the main mix of Come To Daddy. Enjoy.

Stop Making That Big Face!,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A Very Warped Epilogue: Part Two

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Now we come to a whole bunch of stuff I picked up long after I covered them in the main series. There's some real gold stuff here; the beginnings of what would be the 'golden age of Warp. Except this time we're going to start with a release that wasn't on Warp, but leads nicely into the history of the Label itself.

Twoism is the LP that brought BoC to the attention of Warp, and they were signed on shortly thereafter. Despite this they released one final EP on their previous label; Skam Records. I snagged a copy from Discogs, it comes in a paper-thin card case, with only the words "Boards Of Canada" on it, as you can see above. However the picture doesn't let you see the embossed braille on the case (which also just says Boards Of Canada), foreshadowing future weirdness like on the Geoggaddi vinyl. Like Twoism, it serves as a precursor to the trademark BoC sound, with bits of more techno-styled tracks inbetween, give it a listen.

After this EP, the Boards also released an album on their own label Music70, Boc Maxima, but all 50 copies were only distributed to family and friends. However like the Old Tunes tapes it isn't that hard to find online, and a lot of the songs appear on other, later BoC releases, namely Music Has The Right To Children. But there are a few that are exclusive to this release, including one that is among of my favourites of theirs. Whitewater starts off fairly unassuming but at around a minute in, the main melody hits and in that moment it became an instant favourite.

Another exclusive that errs more on the techno side of things is Red Moss, that opening sting really shows off how much old TV and the National Film Board Of Canada (where they took their namesake from) influenced them. However it doesn't stay that way for long, and it soon becomes a techno driven number in the vein of June 9th from the Hi Scores EP, cascading beats and all.

Similarly, fellow Warp mainstay Squarepusher dropped his debut on AFX's Rephlex label. It's an eclectic mix of atmospheres, and is a perfect introduction to all things Squarepusher: the breaks, the bass guitar and the genre hopping are all present here. I'd even go as far to say that the opening track from it wouldn't sound too out of place on one of his later releases such as Hello Eveything or Just A Souvenir.

The trend I noted back in the Go Plastic entry for the 'pusher to put an ambient piece around halfway through his LPs seems to have started here. This track has the honour of being the first I heard from this album,and for dethroning both Tommib and Tommib Help Buss as my favourite ambient Squarepusher tracks. The progression is just perfect.

There's even a little bit of hip hop/trip hop stuff on Feed Me Weird Things, of the two I much prefer the darker sounding U.F.O's Over Leytonstone (in part due to that title), it's got an atmosphere that reminds me a little of cuts from Massive Attck's Mezzanine, there is a lot of variation throughout as sounds come and go into the mix, and even a little bit of a cheeky 303 at about 3:30.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to stop myself here, rest assured I have another part planned, I was going to put it on the end of this one, but it's big enough as it is. So instead, join me next time for what I'm affectionately calling the Aphex Twin blowout.

One Very Important Thought,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 26 August 2012

A Very Warped Epilogue: Part One

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So here we are, the first of a final few installments of the warped posts, I can't say how many posts it will be but I digress. It's taken us a long time to get here and I wasn't sure how I was going to end it, but over the past couple of days I've been thinking, and this is what I came up with. I know the Warped Leftovers posts haven't been too popular, so instead I decided I would give my favourite tracks from the warp crew one final hurrah spanning a few posts.

A track I really wanted to include in the Incunabula overview, but decided it was too long, Windwind holds the same territory as 444, a long instrumental with an incredible haunting intro. Despite being from 1993, I'd say the track still sounds very futuristic, it's not incredibly complex but it more that does the job.

F.U.S.E's debut I mentioned previously is just as amazing, Incunabula and Dimension Intrusion both encapsulate my favourite elements from that early techno sound and are from the same year. It's a shame it's not track 1 on the LP, because that intro and bassline combo is bloody fantastic. In fact, I'd go as far to say as the entire {Artificial Intelligence} set of albums are worth your time.

Likewise, another of my favourite slices from Dimension Intrusion is the 13 minute epic Theychk. Again, there's not much complexity to it, but there's enough variation on that initial sequence to keep it interesting. especially when the samples come in and every so often a concerned voice asks you "What's wrong?".

Similar to Plaid, Seefeel are a band I've admired but could never get 100% into their releases. Their philosophy is great; to create electronic-esque soundscapes using acoustic instruments, there are a lot of sustained sequences and motifs throughout, which I enjoy from a technical standpoint, but not from a listening one. That isn't to say they don't have tracks I don't like however: I discovered this one through an ambient compilation (and was only available on that until it was included on the 2007 re-issue of their debut LP) and since then it's grown to have a firm place in my collection.

Another tune I really dig from them, taken from the Starethough EP (which the original CD pressing unfortunately suffers from CD Bronzing). I picked up on Spangle just before the whole Warp20 thing kicked off, and I just love the floaty, dreamlike nature of the track. An often overlooked gem if I do say so, especially considering most copies have been lost between the bronzing and the Warp warehouse fire.

And that covers up to 1994 in tracks I've missed out while documenting Warp's history. I would take it a bit further, but a few of these are long ones, so join us next time where I'll be covering Boards Of Canada's pre-warp release that got them signed to their current home, and a few other bits and pieces on the way..

Looking Back,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday, 23 July 2012

A Very Warped History 16: 2009

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In the last of the trilogy of finales, it is with both great pleasure and sadness I introduce you to the very last album entry of A Very Warped History. I wanted to take it all the way to number 20 with the whole Warp20 thing but it wasn't to be. It's taken me over two years to get to this point, so stick around as I wrap things up. Bibio is one of Warp's newer acts, although active for a while his big break came around the time of signing on to the label, culminating in the release of Ambivalence Avenue, my first exposure to Bibio (and 'Folktronica', another addition to my silly genre names list). The production is solid throughout, as the tracks explore a curious mixture of 70's inspired guitar licks and contemporary hip hop.

This exploration is ripe from the get go, with the title track featuring all of the above, with the added bonus of Washed Out style barely intelligible vocals. It does a good job of subscribing to the general 70's aesthetic, the hazy atmosphere no doubt helped thanks to Bibio's retro recording techniques. It's perfect in introducing the album, as it lays down all the structure and sounds that will make up the 11 other tracks here.

There are a couple points on the album where the contemporary hip hop element goes out the window and Bibio dons the full retro aesthetic. The first example isn't buried too deep in the albums track list, in fact it's track 2. I was unsure of it fist based on the descriptions, but the first listen was something special the funky wah-wah guitar that kicks off the track is present throughout, but the real highlight for me is the break at around 1:30 that plays the track out, specifically that killer bass line running alongside.

Bibo's said his favourite album of all time is Boards Of Canada's Music Has The Right To Children, and it shows. He covered Kaini Industries for the Warp20 (Recreated) compilation, and did a couple of similar ambient soundscapes on Mind Bokeh. There are a few shorter tracks on this LP that I think are the precursor to those soundscapes, albeit in a more acoustic fashion the first is All The Flowers which, to bring everything full circle, is referred to on More Excuses from Mind Bokeh

Like with Jealous Of Roses, there are times when the 70's aesthetics take a break. This time the hip hop elements are the focus, and it is by far one of the sweetest tracks on the album. in contrast to the duet of retro songs previously, this one takes a heavy electronic slant and is so different from everything before it I wouldn't be surprised if you thought it wasn't even from this LP. Saying that, the drop around 30 seconds in was an early highlight from my first sample, and the track only betters itself from there: the beats introduced around 1:40 are excellent and completely take over the remainder of the run time. Regardless of differences in sound, this is one of the best tracks here.

Likewise, we also get a duet of hip hop stuff this time around. And as with Fire Ant the track itself is very very sweet, as the main bass warble comes in and knocks you off your feet, which is all fine and good but once again the absolute highlight of this track is the breakdown-to-fade-out transition that Bibio nails consistently. Around 2:04 the track completely gets turned around, which is good because it keeps the whole thing fresh.

And finally we hit the most recognisable track here. Like Röyksopp's Melody A.M before it, some tracks from here were destined to be on advertisements one day as you'll hear a 1:27 here, which no doubt helped shift a fair amount of kindles. It definitely deserves it though, both halves of the tune are fantastic, the first reminds me of an old TV show I used to watch when I was a kid, and that transition around halfway makes it one of the best feelgood tunes I have in my entire collection.

After a long stint without, the LP finally revisits the sound of the title track, and is one of my favourites for sure. It feels like the culmination of all the LP's experimentation, and the evolution of the elements throughout is really something to hear: the main guitar hook comes and goes, various synthesized noises slide in and out of the mix and all manner of other things. Of note is the little soundscape on the end starting around 3:15, it's something special alright and probably wouldn't sound too out of place somewhere on Boards Of Canada's The Campfire Headphase.

Ambivalence Avenue is a proper good album, and I highly suggest you check it out. Also, while this is the last album installment from me, I'm not quite done with it yet, there are still a couple of leftovers I'd like to deal with, like I have done so far. And if the original idea I had for this series is still happening, my fellow writer Here should be taking over for his take on Warp, specifically the more modern side of things, we'll see how that plays out.

While Summer's Still Around,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday, 16 July 2012

Warped Leftovers Three: Squarepusher - Big Loada EP (1996)

A quick one today as we hit up an EP I couldn't get my hands on in time for the main entries. I managed to pick this EP up about a year ago from a nice German bloke, and it contains arguably what is the Square man's most famous track, that is Come On My Selector. There's a bunch of other quality sprinkled throughout the 7 tracks here, so let's do this.

I'd heard of the opener a couple of times but never actually listened to it. The first minute or so is fairly slow, with just the occasional drum roll to mix things up. But that all changes around 1:30, where what will soon become the main hook of the track is dropped in spectacular fashion, followed by a liberal slathering of butchered beats before that hook comes smashing back into the mix. One of the 'Pusher's defining moments I'd say.

Retuning to his roots, Squarepusher drops a fuzzy sounding compressed drum loo, which we haven't heard from him since his debut Feed Me Weird Things. This is actually quite close to conventional drum & bass and Jungle starting with the MC (referred to in the credits as MC Twin Tub) with the scene's staple low quality mic at :45. It's a little short,but I think it works better that if it were an extended mix. Saying that, I think the ending could have been handled better.

Skipping over Massif (Stay Strong) 'cos I've posted it before, we get to the main event, the track everyone's here for: Come On My Selector. Like Aphex Twin's Come To Daddy, a lot of the popularity stems from the infamous Chris Cunningham directed video that you can watch HERE. Saying that, it's a very good demonstration of what Squarepusher does, as demonstrated by that sublime bass work at 1:33, and then again at 1:53. It's not my favourite track of his, but those parts make it more than worth the price of admission.

Playing us out is what is an underrated track from SP's catalogue. I think the main problem is that it doesn't grab you from the get go like most of the tracks on here. I'll admit I wasn't a fan of this one until like Rotate Electrolyte from Hello Everything I forced myself through it. And like Rotate Electrolyte, my opinion soon changed. The breakdown at 1:43 caught my attention, But the deal sealer for me was the same sounds that made A Journey To Reedham at 2:02, I love that sound so much. Unfortunately after about three and a half minutes they're gone, but the track's rebuild in that section is pretty great too, before ending with the same phonecall bits from Reedham.

There is a little interlude that rounds off the album, but it's only 50 seconds long so I'm not going to bother with it. Back to the EP: it's got plenty of gold on it, definitely some of the best Squarepusher has to offer in handy bite-size form. Give it a listen and get your hands on it if you can.

Il N'a Pas De Chance,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Very Warped History 15: 2008 (2 Of 2)

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Last post was the final Squarepusher album of the series, this one's the last Nightmares On Wax one. And it's a biggie let me tell you. Like I said on that Felix post a few weeks back, I love me an album with a story behind it, and Thought So... has probably one of the best examples of it in my collection. The ENTIRE album was recorded while the wax man moved from our shared hometown of Leeds to a villa on the sunny isles of Ibiza. Now that's all well and good by itself as a concept for an album, there's a lot of tracks here with funky acoustics because of where they were recorded. But there's a video of it taken by the man himself that also serves as a preview of the album! get a load of it. glorious accents and all. So before we dive in have a gander at this mini documentary to get you in the mood for this LP, you can find the first part HERE along with a bunch of other NoW's videos. Really, go watch it

With that out of the way, let's get to the meat of this LP. Nightmares has never been one to disappoint on intros, and Thought So... is no different right from the get go the new feel, an evolution and mixture of both In A Space Outta Sound and Mind Elevation is showcased along with the trademark NoW funk. I said way back when doing Smoker's Delight that it was a very social album, but I think Thought So might top it in terms of social listening, thanks to the road trip the whole album has a real social atmosphere present within the tracks, and that oozes out into the room when you play it.

The Wax man doesn't put vocals to his tracks a whole bunch, but this time there's plenty to go around and they're damn fine to boot. My description of it being like a clash of his last two albums rings true, as you've got the beats from In A Space Outta Sound combined with the vocal slant of Mind Elevation. Speaking of which, The social aspect of the album continues here, with Ricky Ranking laying down some catchy bars reminiscent of an MC at a soundsystem, all tied together with Nightmares' excellent production.

Mr. Evelyn says he was brought up on a steady diet of soul and early R&B, and the influences show on his choice in samples. This track however, is like his own way of giving back to the scenes that influenced him. The styles are fairly easy to spot throughout, and there's even a sax solo chucked in there for good measure. This track is also notable because it features the first of a few little excerpts from the road trip on the end scattered across the album. This one's Nightmares and some other bloke talking about a 'little black book' he was given.

At the risk of putting too many callbacks in this overview, this track reminds me of the swelling orchestral intro Les Nuits that was the sublime introduction to Carboot Soul. It's not long before it ventures back into hip hop territory though, rolling beats punctuated sparsely by a little bit of guitar, capturing that island feel. I was absolutely sold on this track by that point anyway, but then the intro fades back in and carries the song for another couple of minutes before the final fade. Lovely stuff.

As we approach the finish, the instrumentals become more and more frequent, kicking off with Pretty Dark, a track that stole the show for me early on when listening to this LP, purely because of the little electric guitar flourishes at 56 seconds in. The song knows it too, after their initial appearance, you're teased with snippets of them until their final, dramatic return at 3:25.

Nightmares makes another callback, this time to a more reggae style beat. it's unlike anything NoW has ever made before save maybe African Pirates and for that alone it's worth a listen, just to see how NoW interprets and then mixes up his own little reggae/dub ditty, and it is a cracking listen. I'm a big fan of the title too, punctuation doesn't get used in track titles so much these days, and they give a nice feel-good vibe like the one present throughout the whole thing.

And finally, what cemented my love for this album. I said way back on Smokers Delight that Me + You was one of my favourite tracks ever, it has a great bassline, amazingly well done sample and is jut generally well produced, it was a shame it was only 54 seconds long. Now, imagine my surprise when I play this track. I'm thinking "oh cool, a nice little ambient outro" but then the beats and oddly familiar bass hit. And I think I recognise those piano snippets too. And then, at 1:52 exactly, my suspicions were confirmed. The break allowed me to get a good listen of that sample. And there it was. Nightmares On Wax had sampled his own track, one of my favourites no less, and made an entirely new song out of it. I couldn't help but smile. I think it samples bits from his other albums too, hence the title, but I can't confirm any outside of Me + You. Not that it matters as Nightmares really really hit out of the park with this one.

And that wraps this up! Nightmares is working on a new album, and has been since late last year, you can see snippets of him working on it on his youtube channel i linked in the intro. Rest assured as soon as there's word about a release, you'll hear about it a soon as I do. Until then, enjoy all his contributions to the Warp catalogue. Until next time.

The Feelin' Is Real,
- Claude Van Foxbat.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Warped Leftovers Two: Autechre - Tri Repetae (1995)

Evening all, I just remembered I made one of these a long time ago to show off Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85-92, which while not on Warp is a downright essential album. Basically imma go through stuff I missed while writing a very warped history, mainly because I didn't get them in time or I bought them after I posted about their respective dates. Up first is the album that made me eat my words after saying "I only liked Autchre's first two albums", Tri Repetae

And yes, that is the actual cover. Some come with a sticker on, but mine was on the outside of the shrink wrap so I got that. This is also unfortunately where I draw the line with Autechre, everything after this point just doesn't appeal to me. But enough negativity, all you really need to know is that it's a damn good evolution from Amber, featuring a lot more techy sounding stuff that's pretty unique for when it was released 1995. And the rolling bass waves in this opener seal that deal.

Now I've posted this track before but it seems to have dissapeared from the Hype's records. So I'm gonna post it again! Clipper for me is where the LP really hit is stride, Dael was a brilliant intro to this new sound, but it gets taken up a notch here. There's lots of swooping light sounds, and then around 1:40 a wave of bass rolls up and takes them away. that moment right there cemented this track for me. To quote my friend once again from the last time I posted this "It sounds like space condensed into music form". And that's pretty much the entire album.

And it doesn't let up, the first minute or so of this track is what we've come to expect, but then 1:30 rolls around and everything goes a little bit orchestral sounding. This little bit gets me every time. Especially the little progression sequence starting around 2:50. And it only gets better towards the end when they start glitching it and messing with that pulsating bass that until then was just a background bit. Stellar work.

Many times I've been stung by my impatience with tracks. Stud used to be an ordeal for me, but like many others before it, I decided to give it a chance one day. And after the bit at 3:30 where the main synth is separated from everything else was that moment. Since then I've grow to love the track, it sounds a little bit like a early chilled out dubstep tune. Oh, and the ending is pretty great, as everything fades away and all you're left with is the analogue hum of the recording equipment.

We've reached Autechre's token ambient piece. Well, sort of. Unlike those on Amber, this still subscribes to the albums overall sound, as the bass kindly demonstrates at around 50 seconds. That's the turning point, after that things get all glitchy, the main riff you'd grown used to during the first minute or so is chopped and switched around, and there's some nice drum programming lathered over the top to tie it all together. It's easily the most accessible track here, so if you've not been feeling it so far, give this one a try.

The accessibility continues on this next one, also foreshadowing for Autechre's later titles that were just letters and numbers. Anyway, back to the accessibility: like Eutow it's just over 4 minutes long, compared to the 7/8/9 minute tracks of before, and it's not too experimental. This and some of the tracks off Amber are the way to go for the beginner's introduction to Autechre.

Finally,the last track will play us out. The accessibility is gone, we're back to a whopping 10 minutes as the tune slowly builds itself in AUtechre's unique way. he main riff in this one reminds me a little of Aphex's Digeridoo. It's a shame that it fades out around 9 minutes in, leaving the last minute or so in silence. You don't even get some nice analogue hiss like on Stud.

And that were that. I may have lied a bit when I said that last post would be the last of the Squarepusher, I have quite a few EPs and a couple albums I missed so I'll be upping them soon. Suppose it wasn't a lie though because this is a different series

-Claude Van Foxbat.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A Very Warped History 15: 2008 (1 Of 2)

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We're back on the final stretch now. As I've said before opinions get more and more divided as we move closer to the modern era, but as always I'll just call it as I sees it. This time it's Squarepusher again with the follow up to the pretty damn sweet Hello Everything. As you may already know from previous Warped entries and my Shobaleader One review, this is far from the Square man's original material, which I didn't include in this series just because I didn't own the albums/EPs. I might go back and give 'em an overview when this is done but for now: Just A Souvenir

Right off the bat you'll notice this feels a bit looser than Hello Everything, and is an evolution on the framework set down by the bonus tracks on Hello Everything, Hanningfield Window and Exciton. It's not too shocking if you listen to the albums sequentially, but I imagine it would be quite jarring to jump from Come On My Selector to the much more jazzy tones of this LP.

Just A Souvenir also has a certain degree of humour to it, especially on these vocoded tracks. Now, I've already posted A Real Woman, so this is all that's left. Both tracks have flourishes and sections that make them actually decent despite their slightly strange premises, though I feel this track doesn't have as many standout moments as A Real Woman, but it's early doors and there's more quality to come, so I'll let it slide.

There's a pretty steady rhythm of jazzy interludes and typical Hello Everything era Squarepusher experimentation. The latter are by far the standout here, and this is their first formal introduction. The thundering guitar takes center stage here, and the combination of it with the actual percussion running alongside it leads to a strange outcome. There's no crazy drum rolls or rushes, and the guitars aren't tinkered with as much as on Hello Everything. This has no elements that are trademark Squarepusher, but you can still tell it's Mr. Jenkinson behind the production.

The balance is restored once again with a jazzy interlude. Unfortunately on this album they never really exceed 3 minutes, which is a shame because then they pale in comparison to their speedier tempo-ed brethren which can be anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes a piece. They aren't bad, they're just not especially memorable thaks to their shortness

But its not long before normal programming resumes and everything gets real loud and real fast. I really like the juxtaposition of the dreamy synths and the grinding guitar riffs that is featured on a lot of these tracks, unfortunately there's not a lot to say about them until 'pusher changes it up a bit later. Once again, not bad but there's nothing much to say that I haven't already.

Here's where things get a little bit more interesting and that's a good thing. After the formula laid down by the first two uptempo bits from this LP, the Square man carefully avoids stagnating with one of my favourites that grabs you from the get go. Tensor In Green shares sounds with the other two, but fiddles with the tempo a whole bunch, there are breakdowns, fakeout breakdowns and resurgences up and down this one, all leading up to that glorious face melting climax starting at around 2:50

I have two minds about this track, I properly love the juxtaposed sounds a bit like those on Rotate Electrolyte from Hello Everything, I love the breaks and whatnot that were introduced in the last track. I really, really love the peak when it all comes together a 1:10. Problem is unlike Rotate Electrolyte where the track teases you with that peak, but then plays it out for the rest of the song, this one gives you the peak pretty much straight away and then leaves you wanting it back. This wouldn't be a problem mind, if it wasn't so bloody long! more than a minute is spent on a fadeout that just drags its heels Regardless, it's well worth the price of admission for that part, because it does come back eventually, in brilliant form.

As we pull in the final stops, there's nothing really that signifies an ending, other than the return of back to back interludes, I give it a pass this time though cos it had probably my favourite jazzy bit in there, which I'm gonna use now to play us out. Ending on an entirely different note from the first track is alright and all,but I wish there were a few more Star Time styled tracks on here.

And there you have it, the last Squarepusher album of this series! It's not bad, it's just... spaced oddly. Like you have these psuedo-jazz joints with vocoders and whatnot for the first four or five tracks and then they're gone. There's definitely less memorable material on here than Hello Everything but it makes sense from a sound evolution perspective (the openers are gold). The LP has its moments, they're just a bit all over the place in the tracklist.

A Member Of Society,
-Cladue Van Foxbat.

Friday, 3 February 2012

A Very Warped History 14: 2006 (4 Of 4)

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Rounding off what has been the biggest entry in the Warped series so far, we have Clark. I picked this LP up on a whim after listening to it a while ago, and since then I've come to love Chris Clark's unique take on the world of experimental electronic. Clark is probably one of Warp's less popular acts, so have a seat and enjoy!

I love that album art to bits. Anyway, The opener pretty much outlines Clark's style; an equal mix of rattling beats and spatterings of twinkling synths in the background. It's not gonna blow you away, but that's not the point. At least, not yet anyway.

Frau Wav is where things get intersting, the usual formula you heard previously is still followed, but with some violin action thrown in for good measure. It's like some tracks on Apparat's Walls or even a slower paced imagining of Venetian Snares' Rossz Csillag Alatt Született

The strings don't last long however and we're soon back in synthesizer territory. This LP has some great sounds on it, and this is a prime example as the synth line gets chewed up and spit out over and over again, becoming a distorted shadow of itself around the halfway point. And it's great.

I've posted this one before, but it more than deserves putting up again. Ted is short but very, very good, it's the tune I'd use if I were trying to sell someone on this album. The drops in this one get pretty intense, especially if you're a headphone user.

Speaking of intense, Vengeance Drools has you pretty much covered on that front. I like to think of it as a claustraphobic strain of hip & trip hop, cos this one's all about the beats that hit hard and pretty much never let up. especially so during the properly mental breakdown starting around 1:50.

The trend continues with Matthew Unburdened, which also sees the return of the strings we heard earlier. They start off fairly quiet, mingling with the synths slightly, until they slowly come to the foreground of sounds. I hadn't even noticed that before, which goes to show you how smoothly Body Riddle handles trasitions.

A brief respite, this time with something that reminds me just a little of Aphex's Logan Rock Witch from the Richard D. James Album. I wasn't a massive fan of this one at first, but grew to like it the more it came up, it makes a nice change from the usual makeup of tracks we've heard so far.

The Autumnal Crush will always have a special place in my playlists as up until this point I was digging the album, but nothing really knocked my socks off. Then this track started. I could tell it was gonna be pretty sweet from the intro, and then that drop completley blindsided me. And before I had a chance to recover, it dropped AGAIN. It was then that I was sold on this LP, and I recommend you check this out.

And that is that. We're coming up to the final few Warped posts now, I'll be sad to see them go eventually; they've been a constant source for posting for a year and a bit now. But enough sentimentals, enjoy the tunes and I'll be back soonish with more!

Riddle Me This,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Last Broadcast

I've been meaning to get around to this for a while. At first I wanted to post some of Broadcast's B-sides and rarities after covering their three main albums in the Warped posts, but then while searching for recordings of Broadcast live (which are very hard to come by) I found this. A bootleg of a show in Australia, and of their last ever performances. It's been just over a year since the untimely death of lead singer Trish Keenan, who continues to remain one of my favourite voices in music. Broadcast were underrated for their entire recording career which I feel is a bit unfair, So I ask you to give them a listen, they absolutely deserve it.

Broadcast Live @ HiFi Bar Australia, 2010

Winter Sun Wavelengths
In Here The World Begins
Black Cat
Lunch Hour Pops
Royal Chant
The Be Colony/Dashing Home...
A Seancing Song
Untitled (Children)
Untitled (Eyes Open)

You And Me In Time

The real 'wow' moment for me is that encore, it's just so beautifully poignant. James Cargill announced late last year he's working on making an album from leftover demo tapes left by Trish, rest assured you'll hear more about it as soon as I do.

Seasons Mean Nothing,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 8 January 2012

A Very Warped History 14: 2006 (3 Of 4)

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Another entry, another LP that I really love, as before this one has some tunes I've been told appear on [adult swim] ads so look out for them. Funnily enough I picked this one up shortly before I started writing so it's still quite recent in my mind, especially because I pretty much always have at least one track from it in my rotation. Hello Everything marks the end of the out and out experimental thrashing that made up his last few albums, it has some jazzy bits in common with Ultravisitor (notably Tetra-Sync) but is a new sound direction that I really, really like.

Hello Everything wastes no time in kicking off things while at the same time establishing that for the most part this record is a lot lighter than the speedy claustrophobic nature of Ultravisitor even with that classic 'Pusher Amen Break styled beat running alongside it.

As always, what Squarepushing LP is complete without a lil' jazzy interlude? Theme From Sprite is another instalment in the Theme From X series that we last saw on 1998's Music Is Rotted One Note which is the Sqaure man's album of Jazz which I didn't cover in this series because I didn't own it at the time, but I might go over it at some point.

The third track plays out like a combination of these two: it has the light jazzy stylings of the previous track, and the hypnotic backing rhythm of the first. It takes a bit of time for it all to come together, but when it does it's pretty great, even if it is all over too soon. Again it's much much more easy going than anything on Ultravisitor

See that last line there? yeah that kinda stops being as relevant here. We take a dive into more "proper" Squarepusher tracks as it were; Planetarium also highlights one of my favourite sounds ever that crops up a whole lot on this album, that distorted springy sounding thing just makes these tracks for me, every time.

I wasn't too impressed with Rotate Electrolyte at first, it just didn't seem to go anywhere especially considering it's length. Then one day I decided to listen to it all just to see what was in there. After a nice & interesting breakdown I was treated to perhaps my favourite moment on the whole album: when those same sounds that made up Planetarium's main melodies return in spectacular fashion at around 3:35 or so. I love that part so, so much. Even more when the drums come back in.

Welcome To Europe was the first ever track I posted here, and it fills the same niche as the last two. I just love it every time that elastic sounding synth (or whatever it is) comes up, though unfortunately this is the last time it appears on the album.

This track always stood out as a bit of a wildcard to me. In a blind test I'd probably guess it was from Ultravisitor and it's not until a while later in the song that it sounds more like stuff we've heard so far on this album. It's still Squarepusher on very good form though, stay tuned for the bass guitar!

The same applies for this, although it sounds more like a mix of Go Plastic era 'Pusher combined with the new sound. It's very all over the place, but it has it's own moments: the first minute or so is just great all round, and the light ending arpeggio is sweet as.

Rounding it off we have the two Japanese bonus tracks (that were released as singles along with Welcome To Europe) shortly before the release of Hello Everything. Hanningfield Window is interesting in that it sounds an awful lot like the sounds the Square man would adopt for his next album Just A Souvenir

Exciton however, is exactly the opposite. The only way I can really describe this is if you imagine Squarepusher soundtracking an arcade side scroller or something like that. It's by far the harshest sounding track here, but that's more than alright because it's a quality tune.

Hello Everything is by no means a perfect album (I don't really care for this album's two drone-y ambient styled tracks: Vacuum Garden and Orient Orange) but it's still a very good place to start if you're looking to get into Squarepusher mainly because it has a nice blend of all the elements that make that iconic Squarepusher sound, be sure to check it out if you like what you hear.

Give Us A Snare Rush,
- Claude Van Foxbat