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

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Music For Films

Concluding the mini-series is my list of tracks that I have on file for fictional soundtracks. This actually turned out to be a little more difficult than I thought it would because I'd posted many of the tracks that stood out to me the most in terms of soundtracking potential, but that was fine because that just means I get to make a whole new list!


Kicking things off I decided to go for a more lo-fi background approach; something that can be barely there in the background. That's when I stumbled across this gem again, I've often said I'd love for BoC's soundscapes to be longer, and this fulfils that. Unfortunatey it only exists in this live form, but the occasional crowd noise is a small price to pay for the quality.



Continuing the early 90's tecnho theme from before, I have a special place for F.U.S.E's (Further Underground Sound Experiments) one and only album Dimension Intrusion. It's a collection of a bunch of stuff Richie Hawtin did before donning his Plastikman moniker. While I don't much care for the minimal vibes of Plastikman, this LP explores a varied array of sounds, my favourite of course being the light and spacey sounding ones that are perfect for soundtracking.




Apparat's Walls was a lovely mix of atmospheres, and a lot of the more dramatic tracks are crying out for visuals to be attached to them, and this one is probably the best demonstrator of that. It all starts off pretty sweet, if a little subdued but that all changes as things get progressively more glitchy sounding and louder until that break around two minutes in. And then a whole new wave of intensity falls over the sounds, only for a short while before slinking back into the background in the lead up to the final fade.



Speaking of atmospheres, Mr. Oizo stirs up a lot of imagery for me, particularly cus from the Analog Worms Attack LP with it's rough, almost unfinished sound combined with the basslines present on AWA just makes me think of urban spaces. Monday Massacre from the Flat Beat EP (which I've posted before) illustrates this better, but the vibes in this one are largely the same.



A Quiet Evening,
- Claude Van Foxbat

Monday, 20 August 2012

Music From Films

Reading about Tony Scott's unfortunate suicide got me thinking. He's directed a bunch of films I like and what is both one of my favourite films ever and one that I've analysed a whole bunch for my film studies exams; True Romance. No doubt my strength when it came to film studies was sound, I preferred analysing non-diagetic (fancy film speak for dubbed over) soundtracks because thanks to these posts I was good at deconstructing tracks and applying meaning to them. I'm hoping to do a little of that now, with some of my favourite soundtrack uses and then I'm gonna follow that with a post with some that I just can't help creating imaginary scenes for in my head.

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One of my favourite moments I found when I was searching for examples to assist in our final project was this little bit from Lost In Translation. It plays out pretty much how I'd expected from the sound, and captures that sense of bittersweet, longing melancholy perfectly. The shots in it are pretty great too, especially the transition to the neon soaked streets towards the end. Stellar stuff.



Similarly, I think Tommy B's soundtrack for Irreversible is absolutely perfect, his blend of his solo house work with the more ambient and atmosphere driven soundtrack pieces is spectacular, especially when it's combined like on Paris By Night. I referred to Irreversible a lot when building reference material, most of them refer to the conflicting nature of the soundtrack as heard when the house and ambient combine, and this track is no exception. That intro is just brilliant, swooping synths punctuated by a lone kick, until around 1:50 or so when it just effortlessly slides into a fully fledged house beat.




Bringing it back around to Daft Punk once again, their selected soundtrack for Electroma had some real gems on it, the most famous of which being Sébastien Tellier's Universe played over the bathroom scene. Now that scene is very powerful, and the song is great to boot, but Instead I'm going to put up another of my favourites from the soundtrack, a piece from the granddaddy of ambient, Brian Eno. I can see why they chose this for the soundtrack, the sound is menacing and that guitar is wonderfully haunting.



I have a thing for early 90's techno, I feel a lot of it is ripe for soundtracking and in my searches I came across the 1995 flick Hackers. And they seemed to have had the same idea. The film itself may not be all that great but that opening sequence is really something. And not just because of the tacky CGI title reveal either. Not just that but the OST is filled with prime tracks including Massive Attack's sublime Protection. The ethereal feel of the tune is great, but for me the defining moment is around 0:34 in that video, where the introduction of the beat is synced up with a cut to a shot of the cityscape.



And that brings this first part to a close, next time I'll be covering tracks that I can't help but picture on OSTs. It won't be as comprehensive as this because I won't have videos to link to and whatnot, but it should be a good one. And maybe I'll chuck in a couple pieces I chose for the actual film project I did earlier this year too!

You're So Cool,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Just A Bit Rude

Having a loud setup does have its downsides. There are more than a couple tracks in my collection that are... uncomfortable to listen to with an audience. Like watching an 18 rated flick with your parents. But today I'm gonna embrace them and delve into the slightly more than risque tunes I have.



More from Felix's Devin Dazzle this time, with an incredibly suggestive song (fitting actually, considering his ties to the early electroclash scene). I always found this one to be quite funny because on the tracklist, a tune called She's So Damn Cool has 'damn' censored with a tactical asterisk, yet the lyrical content on Hunting Season goes unaltered. You'll see what I'm talking about when you give it a listen.



Of course, Frank Sinatra deserves a honourable mention, I already posted the 2001 remix which is my favourite version, but now it seems suitable to bring the original up. Recorded in 1998 in a dingy record store basement (according to Kittin at least), it sounds pretty rough as a result, and of course the infamous reputation of track proceeds it, there are some pretty classic lines in it such as the titular "You know Frank Sinatra? He's Dead. DEAD!" and that's the cleanest line in the thing.




Dabbling in a bit of sampling now with a bit from the Toybox from his charmingly named Remixes And Other Crap. It's some voice clips cut up and re-arranged to sound rude set to a catchy beat with some chiptune-y synth accompaniment. I can see why it wasn't included on any of his main albums but it is fun to listen to. And I legitimately love that beat.



And of course, Peaches. This one's slower than most bits on I Feel Cream, but like most of her catalogue, it shines in the production department. If you're not paying too much attention it seems pretty normal, maybe a bit more if you don't know what the shocker is (though there's a handy Wikipedia article to explain). Saying that this album is home to possibly the cleanest Peaches track ever; Downtown, but that's not why we're here is it?



and that's that. I honestly thought I had more prime examples than this, though I could be forgetting some I suppose. Regardless, enjoy.

Totally Clucked Up,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Cover Stories

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