Sunday, 17 December 2017

Feelin' Festive

Eyvind Earle - Black Evergreen Forest (1981)


I was so excited to sit down and write an holiday themed post this year. Last night I could have sworn I had a ton of festive related tunes to share but it seems that's not the case this morning. Ah well, I suppose I can revisit the few I do have just this once. Stating off with a gorgeous piece of synth noodling from the Röyksopp boys. A nice blend of traditional and non-traditional, being a cover of Cantique de Noel and all, and it sure beats the same roster of xmas tunes that have been in circulation for the last few decades.



Speaking of untraditional, something I've been holding onto for a couple years now. Simon Viklund, my favourite Swedish soundtrack source made this EDM infused, Payday-ified remix of Jingle Bells. Truth be told it ain't half bad, putting the irony aspect aside for a minute it's a solid example of Viklund doing what he does best. Keep this one in your pack for any December raves you have coming up, it'll go down a treat.



And finally a turn to the downtempo. Taken from one of the soundtrack albums for Ghost In The Shell: Stand ALone Complex (though I'm not sure it appeared in the series), which are chock full of electronic goodness. I owe Yoko Kanno thanks for not only the soundtrack but for introducing me to Ilaria Graziano through them. She's got a killer voice that shines especially on songs like this, I like to compare it to Homogenic era Björk as a reference.



Sunday, 10 December 2017

Chilly Out (2017 Re-Post)

Note from Claude: Hi all! I'm currently laid up with a intense migraine and the weather's shite, but I've managed to glance up at a screen long enough to dig up this post from 2015 which I'm re-posting to fill in for my usual selections on a Sunday. Thanks to technology for allowing me to write this bit using speech to text, enjoy the trip down memory lane and I'll be back next week with the usual.

Oh boy has the cold come home fast. 0 to frosty mornings overnight, which means it's finally time to do my annual tradition of prepping winter playlists. Let's get right on in.

Gustave Caillebotte - View Of Rooftops (Effect Of Snow) (1878/9)

After my recent trip into the world of what electropop I have in my collection thanks to a soundcloud roundup I've been crushing on my long time favourites Broadcast once again. I've written pretty extensively about my love for them, and I won't repeat myself here, instead enjoy the wintery tones of the penultimate track of Haha Sound.



To that end, a long lost relic from 2008/9 popped back up on that search. Honestly surprised it took so long to come back up, I haven't heard anything from Youth Novels for about 3 years despie daily shuffling o fmy entire library. But it came back, and ho boy these feelings and memories hit pretty hard. I'll have to catch up with Ms. Li sometime soon.



Of course Boards Of Canada were on the lineup for a cold playlist, I'm still amazed at some of the tracks they have tucked away on obscure, often unreleased albums. I've covered a few of the tunes from the aptly named Old Tunes tapes a while ago, but as of right now I'm digging Boc Maxima, and reminding myself of why Whitewater is one of my favourite pieces of BoC.





-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 3 December 2017

A Belated Pod (Or Two)

Apologies in advance for this one, I completely forgot to post the last couple podcasts myself and Adam did. To be fair it was 3 months ago and I was busy in the throes of my new job (and dealing with a broken hand + elbow on opposite arms). We haven't recorded since but we're both fairly busy with life things atm, still I should reach out to him and hopefully we can get another one out before the end of the year (I probably shouldn't have said it won't be so long before the next one in hindsight...).

in the meantime though, here are our two solo episodes we recorded due to schedule issues. First up, Me! Again, apologies for the slightly naff audio quality from me, I'm recording these on my G430s, which might be good for counter strike but not so much Podcast recording. I might sound a little worse than Adam's setup but the tunes will shine through methinks. Tracklist after the embed:

Tracklist:
Intro:
Siriusmo - Nights Off
HEALTH - Stonefist
Leila - Welcome To Your Life
Maya Jane Coles - Over
Funkstörung - Disconnected
Adam's Outro:
Octo Octa - New Paths

And also Adam's. I gave it a listen while I was transcribing the track-list. Adam's tunes are a lot longer than mine but that's not a complaint whatsoever, I enjoy what he brings to the table too, sometimes I feel like you can get stuck in a rut of 'recommended artists' from Spotify and the like, so having Adam come in with cuts like these is refreshing to say the least. My choice pick would be the Addvibe tune, definitely stick around for that.


Tracklist:
Intro:
Phuture - Your Only Friend
Decoy - Imp Overlord Dub
Addvibe - Sada (N'Dinga Gaba Diplomacy Soul remix)
Johnick - C'mon Give It Up
Pablo Valentino - One (Detroit Swindle Perspective)
Outro:
DJ Red Alert & Mike Slammer - In Effect

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 26 November 2017

My Hearing Is Augmented


I've mentioned in the past how much I adore the original Deus Ex's soundtrack. parts of it are limited and a little dated sounding tanks to being an unreal engine game fro m'99 but the atmosphere is there. Fast Forward to a couple days ago where I was made aware of this little project by OCRemix, I've heard of them in the past but never dug too deep. So I was interested a little, which only increased when I read that one of the original composers was a collaborator too. I checked it out and I'm digging it, so now I'm going to give a rundown of some of my favourites from it!

It kicks off with a drum & bass treatment of one of my original faves, NYC Streets. The original OST had bits and pieces of Drum & Bass style things in it, (after all games like System Shock 2, which was full of techno and drum and bass too also came out in '99) but it's still interesting to compare and contrast the difference in styles, both when freed of technical restraints of being implemented into a game engine and with the passage of time. Oh, and the download comes with a readme of artist comments too which I really, really dig. I'll be putting them in quotes before the players.

"zircon: As with the entire Deus Ex soundtrack, "NYC Streets" is extremely atmospheric and creates a wonderful, dark mood. With this remix, I wanted to expand on that feeling and create a sense of motion, energy, and action befitting of a cyberpunk adventure. Jill lent her voice to the track with airy pads, solo improvisation and melody to help add even more of an organic feel to the heavily electronic instrumental."




It's not limited to the first game however, our next one comes from the (not as well received) sequel Invisible War, which to be fair has a decent soundtrack also. I disagree with some points mentioned by Level 99 in the artists statement. It doesn't feel particularly 'Blade Runner' aside from the title (though I will concede going full Vangelis on this would have been a mite cliche). And second I don't think the tune's very hopeless feeling at all, I could easily (and have) chucked it into a cozy downtempo and trip hop playlist and it'd fit in just fine. Not to dwell on the negativity too much though, the tune itself is very gorgeous to listen to, and I absolutely adore that outro with the final key synced with the thunder.

"Level 99: "Tears in Rain," as implied by the title, was inspired by Blade Runner. Deus Ex has always had the feel of a Ridley Scott movie to me, and I derived inspiration from that as well as from the soundtracks of Thomas Newman, particularly Road to Perdition. There's this abject hopelessness throughout much of the series, and I tried to capture that here. While I didn't play Invisible War as much as the original Deus Ex, this song always stood out to me as being especially gorgeous in its mystique and sound design."




Returning to a more electronically oriented piece for my last pick. That sweeping into ticks all of my electronic, sci-fi and cyberpunk buttons in one stroke, Ma Chérie Nicolette incorporates both the theme of the eponymous Nicolette DuCLare's chateau but also the main theme of Deus Ex itself later on, which combined with the overall synthwavy feel of the thing makes for an interesting rework of the two. Jimmy Hinson doesn't have much to say about the tune in the accompanying artists readme which is a shame, especially given that this is one of the tunes with the original composer featuring too. I can relate though, it is sometimes difficult to talk about your process or any meanings behind your work. Still, the tune's a worthy addition to the compilation.



So those are my choice picks from the comp, I should have maybe started by saying this but here goes anyway: If you've like what you heard here, you can pick up the Sonic Augmentation compilation for the low price of absolutely *free* from this page on OCRemix. It even comes with album art (and multiple choices of album art to boot!) if you're a bit of a stickler for that like myself. I hope you enjoyd and I'll see y'all next week with more selections.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Not As Quiet

Tia Peltz - Personaje pe Calea Văcărești


Back again with another cross section of tunes for y'all. As a quick aside, I've updated the monthly selections over on the right there, there's a whole new track-list for November and I've extended the selections out to ten tracks from the 7 or 8 that it was. Also I'm going to start archiving previous months playlists over on my spotify too, taking it a little closer to the old grooveshark days. Here's my profile if you want to keep up with them.

Revisiting Perturbator's The Uncanny Valley (which as a forewarning is a super loud album, I've certainly jumped a couple times when it's come on my headphones.) Sticking with the album's title track, the cinematic influence on Perturbator's sound is plain to see here, and it doesn't take a massive leap in imagination to see this alongside a finale into credits roll, complete with a fade at the end for a teaser for the next installment of Perturbator's adventures.



Another piece from the Subhuman compilation this time. And it's a far cry from the fairly smooth sailing of Ginrei's Hello, Weather I posted last time. Depersonalization is the compilation opener and it spares no time setting up the gritty undercurrent of the whole experience, the glitchy opening slowly building into a thundering industrial style monster. There are some brilliant touches in there too, I love the small break at 2:15 or so, which gives you a small respite before building back up to the main structure again. The whole thing really hits its stride around the 4 minute mark, where another break introduces some lush backing synths that inject a nice contrast in sound to play us out.



And finally, some more of Apparat's IDM style work. This is another highlight of the Shapemodes EP for me, it strikes a lovely balance between the skittering chaotic nature of IDM and the smoother accompaniment as seen on Walls and the like. There's even some vocal cut-ups that make a brief appearance toward the end that I wish Apparat would have experimented with more on other releases, they compliment this tune so well and it's a shame they aren't around for just a smidgen longer. Not a huge fan of the title but when everything else is pretty much on point I think I can overlook that.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday, 9 October 2017

Alive '07 - 10 Years On

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Back On (Sound)Cloud 9

My usual soundcloud ventures dried up a while ago, simply because my feed was getting pretty scarce, an most artists I went looking for had all the premium shenanigans I don't like to faff with. Now it seems like SC is going to be with us for a little while longer (hopefully) I thought I'd take another crack at it for old times sake.





This one comes to us from Twitter (the submissions system is still a mess I'm afraid, so in the meantime I've opened my DMs), I was a little hesitant at first because sampling/reworking of real old tunes can be a little bit pants in hindsight, see that obnoxious dubstep treatment of The Marvelettes I posted circa 2010 or so. This ain't old blue eyes though for one, and for two does a decent job of working with the production unlike The Marvelettes example. A little more mainstream than my usual affair, but I dig it, has a slight Rustie feel to it methinks and that main lead is pretty bombastic too. I do think that the change up in sound at 1:45 doesn't really work, the combination of tempo and just overall atmosphere change just feels too extreme, going from this summery upbeat style to some slightly sinister bass feels like two completely different songs. It does only come up twice briefly throughout though so it doesn't drag the experience too much. Keep an eye out for this one coming up on your local indie electronic youtube channel twinned with some Evangelion footage and some AfterEffects VHS & CRT presets overlaid.



With that in mind I thought I'd pop back to see what Macross 82-99'd been up to, last I saw was a tweet of their soundcloud stats when it was still in fairly uncertain times. Well good news is that the platform hasn't been abandoned, and there's a couple new pieces of that unique house/future funk and the like to get stuck into. Artists like Macross are the reason why I wanna see SoundCloud stick around, I wouldn't have ever come across tunes like this these, and Macross has gone on to carve a nice little niche in my library. So here's to many more years of digital crate digging on the cloud, I'll be sure to share all I find with you.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday, 10 July 2017

A Pod For You: Episode 4

As promised: the latest full length installment of the ilictronix podcast thing that me and Adam do. Not going to be typing a lot as mentioned previously, but you can still expect a tracklist after the player.

We're branching out in terms of topics, and I'd like to take this opportunity to say that us here at ilictronix want the show and site to be welcoming to all. We joke about mispronouncing things and offending the corresponding nationalities a bit in this episode but I want you all to know; if we ever step on anyone's toes, or phrase something poorly or otherwise offend a group of people please do not hesitate to let me or Adam know ASAP and we'll do our best to rectify things. Electronic music is for everyone, and we strongly believe in that here, but we're only human and may make mistakes sometimes! Anyway, onto the show:



Opening:
Gnork – No Gravity

Claude’s picks:
Misstress Barbara – I'm Running
DMX Krew - Get With You
Erlend Øye - Ghost Trains
Ford & Lopatin - Too Much MIDI (Alan Braxe Bonus Remix)

Adam’s Picks
Kamixlo – Paleta
Force Mass Motion - Explosion
Cybonix - Make This Party Live
24 Hour Experience - Take Me Up To Bed (Filthy Dub)
Above The Clouds – Sunshine Productions (DJ Vibes & Wishdokta Remix)

Outro:
Casino Versus Japan - Local Forecast


And while I remember, I'm trying to cover things I say I'll link to Adam or co, and actually include them in the show notes, so: The Erlend Øye cover of the smiths can be found here, the songs being sampled Adam talks about are: Lotic - Heterocetera and the original source for both is: Dr. Baker - Kaos (1989)

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Inde-pod-ance

You might've noticed I'd gone quiet again as of late, with reason this time though, as behind the scenes me and Adam have been refining the Podcast recording process. So to give it a test run, we recorded a very special independence day episode; with Adam managing to get it edited and put up on our mixcloud the same day(!). It's going up a day late here because I was out of town last night but that's no reason you can't enjoy our selections still. Tracklist after the player:



Opening:
When Johnny Comes Marching Home (Matzzz Remix)

Claude’s Selections
The Chemical Brothers - Star Guitar
Shinichi Osawa - Maximum Joy
DJ Mehdi - Tunisia Bambaataa

Adam’s picks:
Frankie Knuckles & Jamie Principle - Your Love
Adonis - No Way Back
Maurice - Get Into The Dance

Outro:
This random remix of Yankee Doodle Dandy we found

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Checkin' In With Bothan

I always like to see where artists take their directions after being out of the loop with them for a while. Enter our most recent example, Bothan, formerly Dr. Snus. The most recent of his I was sent really threw me off at first, that slightly off kilter intro made me think I was going to get some kinda Plug style stuff, albeit at a slower tempo. Imagine my surprise when instead I get a dark shelf wobbler that wouldn't be out of place in Stenchman's arsenal. I only wish some of that intro bled into the rest of the tune and not just the bridge, though that does happen on it's own towards the end anyway.



I was happy to see the Plug style vibes were not a one-off too, and it's like my mind was read as I was writing the above, with Mr. Bothan pretty much resolving all my (admittedly small) gripes in one fell swoop. the whole formula of small self-contained instrumentals and (what I presume) movie samples is a tried and true one for sure, as shown by Flying Lotus way back in 2006. Funny how I mentioned not too long ago I haven't felt the need to go looking for instrumentals in a while and then all of a sudden a bunch fall in my lap. That isn't me complaining mind.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday, 29 May 2017

Mecha Activated

Continuing the Japanese theme of the last couple posts, I went looking at Mijk Van Dijk again, specifically the Tokyo Trax EP, which is filled with amazingly of-the-era track titles like Little Lonely Otaku. Oversimplified takes on the culture aside, the tunes contained within are quite good. While looking though I found the sequel to the Game Trax Vol. 1 EP I posted not too long ago, and this time it wasn't Ridge Racer, it was Armored Core.



Naturally I was interested, cos Armored Core 2 had a quality soundtrack. Imagine my surprise when I find out that he's been behind that tune all along. Seems that somehow the tune names got swapped on the official release of the full OST, and what's listed as Robo.Com.Bat is actually the theme, and the tunes took a bit of finding as it's not sorted on his soundcloud like vol. 1 too. Not that Robo.Com.Bat is any worse by any stretch of the imagination, I'm a sucker for early 00's 'techy' tune titles as-is, and I absolutely adore those high pitched backing synths.



The final tune, the also 2000's techy titled Robo@Tek is probably the most conventional of the trio, and would be easily at home on the dancefloor as it is on the OST. It actually reminds me a whole bunch of the Ghost In The Shell game OST; Megatech Body Co., which is probably unsurprising as Mijk also appeared on there (though truth be told some of his tunes on that were too minimal for me). Enjoy yet another time capsule back 16 years or so.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Checking In

Please mind the mess in the in-between period where I figure out how exactly I'm going to take submissions as a one man band without being swamped. That't not deterring some of you mind, here's a recent one that came into my inbox after a bit of a runaround with contact info (again, my bad and I apologise!). I Don't Do Crowds (you and me both brother) got in touch with a little remix for me. I always find it kinda hard to be too critical in cases like this, a remix being your first exposure can be a bit of a boon, you never know if it's a one off style for the remix or whether parts you like or dislike are from the original or the mix but I digress and I'll do my best. It seems to hail from the sweet sounding school of Celadon City and co. which is never a bad thing especially with summer round the bend, always takes me back to the summer of 09's fantastic selection of tunes. Gripes are small; I almost want a hazier Washed Out treatment applied to the whole thing but that's a personal thing, on a similar note The lyrical content gets a little cliche at times but I guess that goes with the territory and isn't a mark on the remix so much as it is the source material.



After last posts 90's anime streak and the above, I went out to see what my favourite future funk fiend Macross 82-99 was up to, and the answer was slightly surprising in the best way. As the genre tag says, Victoria Harbour At Night is a far cry from the disco influenced sweetness of Macross past, and scratches a very specific itch that rarely gets hit; the two examples I can come up with off the top of my head fro reference are the (coincidentally also Japanese) Bran-New Lovesong by The Pillows and Akira Yamaoka's End Of Small Sanctuary. The soundcloud description says Macross is looking for a vocalist for this one, but I think it's near perfect as-is.



And a quickie revisit for those that missed the last time I mentioned Macross, here's the kinda thing I was used to hearing coming out of that camp. As you can hear from the get go, the retro influence is very apparent. Get a load of them drums and machine gun high hats. Although in hindsight even this is pretty far from the more Disco influenced stuff that pointed me in that direction to begin with, I'd recommend checking out the likes of Fun Tonight for that, doubly so if you'd like a fast track back to the days of French Touch and Bloghouse.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday, 22 May 2017

Mech Hunting & Hunting Mechs

Remember how in a bunch of previous posts on Synthwave and the like I've said things sound like they could be a soundtrack to a Sega CD game? Well late last night I was treated to probably the most apt example of that yet. I don't have much from Mitch Murder in my library, my first exposure being Hollywood Heights, which embraces the clichés of the retro aesthetic in full earnest (which a friend of mine lovingly described as 'Deliberately crap'). A far cry from the cyberpunk vibes of Perturbator, and even further from the likes of Carpenter Brut's occult laden pieces for sure.



The art was the first thing to catch my eye, that is certainly some co-opted Masamune Shirow art up there, which being a fan of all things Ghost In The Shell and Appleseed isn't a problem at all. Speaking of though, I was going to just jump right in and post some tunes I like from the thing, but I think it would do a disservice if I didn't point you to the teaser Mitch put up on soundcloud for the thing. Not only is it a solid preview of all the tracks, but it's full of lovely little touches from the word go, the little CRT noises splitting the tunes and the digitized "SE-GAAAAA" at the intro making clear this is a love letter to the style, and one Mitch is certainly having fun with.



Going against what I said in the opening paragraph here, we're going to start with Runners, just because you've probably heard the first couple tunes if you listened to the soundcloud player above. Runners is far and away what I call the least soundtrack-y tune on the EP, from the way it's structured it clearly has more in common with Mitch's usual synthwave output than strictly sticking to the 'OST' theme. That's not a bad thing at all however, and though it may stray in structure the sounds remain very Sega CD-esqe, my favourite being that bouncy bass which kicks the whole thing off.



It should come as no surprise to longtime readers that I dig the latter half's more down-tempo tunes a whole bunch too, Sneakers sees a return to more thematically appropriate song structure, albeit with a few deviations here and there. After quite the foreboding intro, the tune becomes something more akin to some of the tunes I've posted from VA11 HALL-A in the past, and those little background flourishes definitely give me a little bit of a Snatcher vibe, so mission accomplished on the Sega CD front then.



And finishing up fittingly enough with the End theme. Which if I was being pedantic sounds more like a N64 soundtrack, or even closer to something like an early PS1 JRPG but I digress. I think this style really has legs and would love to hear more of it, I fear I may have to wade through a sea of low effort vaporwave for that to happen though. If you're into the sounds on show in this post, I'd definitely recommend check out Mitch's catalogue in full, he's got quite a few releases over on his his Bandcamp, and some of them (like Mech Hunter OST) can be nabbed for free.



Regardless, I really dig the idea of imaginary OSTs, it's something I've had a crack at before and think it' a good creative task for any musicians out there, anyone looking for a more high profile example might want to check out Passengers' Original Soundtracks 1, a collab between U2 and Brian Eno which consists of music for films that do't exist. Ironically some ended up being used in actual films, including One Minute Warning as the credits theme to the 1995 Ghost In The Shell movie to bring us full circle.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Reconnected

Back online after an unfortunate router explosion last Friday. It was cracking on a bit but I never expected it to leave in such a dramatic fashion, still over the years it provided me with no end of material to work with, and I only see fit to pay it tribute with somethings I've been playing in the meantime.

Chicote CFC - Knives In Honor To Love (2012)

There's going to be a running theme of Drum & Bass today, from an unlikely source actually, I loaded up on soundtracks to see me through the period of having no 'net. And as it turns out, Trigun's is still real good. Tsueno Imahori weaves a fine tapestry of all sorts of genres throughout: bits of Blues, Jazz, small touches of hip hop and all sorts crop up throughout. The highlight of the first OST album is by far and away Philosophy In A Tea Cup, the combination of Piano & breakbeat scratches my itch something fierce (although it's usually Omni Trio doing the scratching), it could have easily been something that appeared on an early Ninja Tune comp, it has that kind of DJ Food feel methinks. Which wouldn't be too far fetched considering Imahori's work on the Cowboy Bebop OST, which in addition to having a legit remix of the theme by DJ Food, also had a spin off remix album with the likes of Luke Vibert and Mr. Scruff.



Been revisiting the mid 90's drum & bass on offer from Everything But The Girl. Ironically enough this tune doesn't show off any of the melancholic lyrics that I remember the album for, but it's apretty good demo of the overall sound. I do have a li'l bit of a soft spot for tunes like this, I remember thinking they sounded crazy futuristic as a young 'un which is kinda funny looking back, because now I'd describe the whole of the Walking Wounded LP to be pretty par the course for D&B of the era. Not to knock it though, I still really like it and I think that Tracey Thorn's vocal accompaniment works great with the production.



Swinging back around to my earlier point about Piano & Breakbeat combos, I'm going to give Omni Trio another nod. Even Angels Cast Shadows is chock full of examples of what I'm talking about, and is an album I should probably credit more as it only barely doesn't make my list of 10/10 albums, 16 years on from release and I'd argue it still sounds pretty fresh in the grand scheme of things.. I absolutely adore that combo of deep basslines and twinkling piano and some strings even get involved towards the end which are a treat too. Check it out if this kinda thing is your bag as much as it is mine.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday, 1 May 2017

The Humanz Condition (Gorillaz Album Overview)

Seven long years after we were spoiled with 2 Gorillaz albums in one year, they're back with another offering in Humanz. I like to try and remain impartial when it comes to the look of albums, but I really aren't feeling the art for Humanz at all, the rendering of the characters is treading a little bit into the uncanny valley, especially 2D. While we're on the subject, I'm not big on the title either, but I said the same about Plastic Beach just before that came out and now I don't think twice about it, and this is far from the first time we've had weird looking renditions of the band so I'm going to keep that gripe to a minimum. Let's get stuck in.


From the get go you'll see that the selection of collaborators is a little more eclectic this time. Which sounds funny of me to say coming off the heels of Plastic Beach with the likes of Bobby Womack and Snoop Dogg but the point stands. The second thing that had my attention is the amount of 'Interludes' there are, seven of the 26 tracks to be precise. Seems Damon Albarn's taken a leaf out of early 00's rap albums when it comes to structure.


On that note, Humanz wastes no time getting down to business after the first interlude, with the bombastic trap stylings of Ascension kicking things off with a bang. Not really my cup of tea, but I appreciate Damon's flexibility all the same, and I do dig the vibe it's setting up. I'd always felt that an electropop direction would be the next stop for Gorillaz after the likes of Doncamatic and the Little Dragon features of Plastic Beach, and Strobelite is pretty much what I'd pictured as the result of that, albeit a little more on the house side of the spectrum. I want to say it's quite different so in a blind test you'd have trouble discerning it was Gorillaz, but I think that can apply to all their albums really, at this point in their career the defining feature is the variety on offer. Before we move on, it reminds me a whole lot of MSTRKRFT's So Deep from Fist Of God, which is a gap I've been needing filled since 2009.

I'm going to gloss over some tunes form here on out in the interest of brevity, starting with Saturnz Barz because it's been out there so long I'm not sure what input I could have on it. I will say that if the production is all Damon's he's done a cracking job with it, and I think his vocal style offers a nice contrast in songs like it, I'd like to see him stretch his legs back into the rap world like back in the days of Deltron 3030. On that note it's nice to see De La Soul again on Momentz too.


Submission is doing a bang up job of taking me back to the heyday of late 00's dance in the vein of La Roux and Kelis' brief foray into Electro by way of Crookers. An early highlight, Damon's talent for picking guest vocalists shining through once more, definitely going to be keeping this one in rotation for a while. Charger is a bit of an odd one, a complete 180 form the smooth electropop style of previous. Me and a coworker were talking about it on Friday and both said that it sounds very Blur-y, part of that is definitely Damon turning up the accent up to 11 like on Country House, and part of it is that deliciously crunchy guitar present throughout.

Not going to say much about Andromeda because it's been out for so long again. I will say it's nice to hear Damon mostly on his own here, and I'm surprised it took so long in the track-list to have one. Similarly, Busted And Blue is downright fantastic too. I'm a sucker for downtempo numbers sure, but the combo of hazy, dreamy electronics and Albarn's delivery is a combo that I think is pretty special, something that's a refreshing change coming off the heels of his more acoustically oriented solo LP. Sex Murder Party sounds like it could be remix left off of The Fall, it's got that stripped skeletal sound that was running motif of that album, backed once again with more trademark Albarn vocal delivery.



Segueing to the last 4 tunes of the album: I was expecting a more punky sound to She's My Collar, based on the title and opening instrumentation. I like the tune as is, I think Damon's vocal is on point as usual and I'm in love with the synths towards the outro, but given the surrounding atmosphere and all I'd like to see him get a little shouty like on, well, Punk from their self titled. My opinion of Hallelujah Money remains mostly the same: I am very much enjoying the return of the backing choir, something I've missed from the penultimate parts of Demon Days which made them shine. Benjamin Clementine doesn't disappoint here, his delivery compliments the overall production very well indeed, and is a nice counterpoint to Damon's vocal too. We Got The Power is a slice of feelgood from the usually melancholy Damon Albarn. It's downright fantastic if oddly placed in the track-list, not sure it's what I'd pick for an ending tune (for the basic edition of the album anyway) and it does sort of abruptly end which is a bit of a let down. But it's catchy as all get out, and is bound join the lineups of the songs the crowd sings along to when it makes a live debut.



It seems that my theory of a politically charged album were off mark a fair bit, still there are some pretty powerful verses contained within no doubt. After spending some time with it, I think that the length of the track-list is a double edged sword, while I welcome the plethora of Gorillaz material to get stuck into, it can be quite easy to get lost in the sea of sound, doubly so for any new-coming listeners. My biggest issue is that there was no reason the interludes couldn't have been merged into the tracks themselves, especially in cases like Interlude: Elevator Going Up, making a 4 second voice clip it's own 'track' is a silly move and just ends up looking like padding the numbers. All in all, I'd be hard pressed to pin a numerical rating on it. Not because it's particularly bad or good mind, more that every album post Demon Days has been a grower with some standout tracks for me personally, and Humanz looks like it's going to continue that trend.

-Claude Van Foxbat