Monday, 3 August 2020

Digital Digging

I've been looking through my Bandcamp collection and Wishlist in prep of the upcoming Friday, where they're continuing the tradition they've had recently of waiving their cut of the sales for that day. I've been taking advantage of this because it feels nice to do, and also it turns out having a set date to get music on actually makes me actually decide on things instead of throwing them in the pile of "to get to". Anyway, here are the results of that perusal.

Yiannis Tsaroychis - Cafe "Neon" At Night (1965)

I don't even have that much in my Bandcamp collection but already its easy for things to get a little lost, take The Flashbulb's Love As A Dark Hallway, I picked it up some time ago but then never really mentioned it here. I think the main reason for that is that it was an album I'd loved from afar for a couple of years by the time I got it, so while it was new it wasn't 'new' y'know? To cut a ramble short definitely check out The Flashbulb, Benn Jordan is a fantastic musician and his work under The Flashbulb moniker is often a lovely mix of ambient sensibilities and fairly accessible IDM. I'd almost argue it's easier to introduce folk to the genre with Flashbulb (although now I'm writing this, that's not counting the more melodic Aphex Twin pieces!), all the key elements are there just not as face melty as some others. Pastorial Whiskers almost sounds like it could be something from Squarepusher funnily enough, especially the Hello Everything era with those swooping synths and jazzy bass guitar work. One last side note I do like how Benn included different album art for each individual track for this album, it's a nice touch, a shame most music players don't support it fully though.



It's a similar tale with this next album actually, maybe even a longer one than the above. I first fell in with this one back on Grooveshark of all places, back when it would have been a new release in 2013. For all it's flaws I did really like its recommended system, it was better at showing you new stuff than Spotify at any rate which at least for me gets stuck in a loop of the same few albums and tracks, but I'm digressing again. It's been a while since I listened to it properly, the one album is very much lost in my usual MO of shuffling everything I own. Which is a shame because its a very slickly done slice of Ambient and IDM and is totally in line with that techy sounding vibe I've been after lately. There's definitely more than a bit of Burial influence on here and it sounds a lot like there's a touch of Moderat as well, especially the II album, they were only released a few months apart actually! It can get a little long in the tooth for me on some days, but as you might expect with my recent techy kick I'm very much into it today.



Third verse same as the first! I was a long time admirer of Soichi Terada's work on various soundtracks but his solo work was at that point either only on vinyl, out of print or just tricky to get hold of. Thankfully that's changed in recent times and a compilation of his various solo pieces is now easily grab-able on BC, Sounds From The Far East is essentially a 'best of' of Terada's House works, as much as I love his Drum & Bass from Ape Escape he has a real knack for the slower tempos too. Part of the reason I love Terada's work so much is that it sounds like he has so much fun when making them, something you can hear in the production and is reflected in the album art for this comp too. It's an unfortunate casualty of the digital version having a different tracklist curse, but it's not too hard to find the missing / replaced tracks out there if you're so inclined like I was. There are a ton of tracks I could pick but I went with one of my favourite deep house bits in Purple Haze which wastes no time getting into the swing of things, and is full of the hallmarks of Terada's sound of this era: sweeping synths, big kicks and bouncy basslines.



Something new (to me) to wrap up, once again making me further amend my "I don't like minimal" sign to say "I don't like a lot of minimal" (although this is technically tech house but the point stands if you give it a listen!) I checked out Swayzak based off the electro-poppy State Of Grace and I Dance Alone, and was greeted with this and similar tracks instead. I was surprised for sure, but then again this isn't the first time I've seen an artist make a dramatic 180 in sound. I've yet to take a proper dive in but I have found more than a few tracks to catch my ear that are once again scratching that techy itch I have. Low-Rez Skyline is fairly sedate which makes for really good at-the-computer music, there's a lot of little flourishes and switch ups throughout that keep things fresh and interesting for me. It echoes of one of my other favourite Tech/Deep House pieces: Marshall Jefferson's Mushrooms remixed by Salt City Orchestra, albeit minus the absolutely stellar spoken word element. If you asked me originally I'd say that Skyline could benefit from that type of treatment too, but now I'm not so sure. It's a little lengthy at almost 10 minutes, but that makes it one of the shorter tracks from this album, I could see that being a deal breaker for some and on paper I would include myself in that, but I'm only now beginning to feel it growing stale after my fourth or so listen in a row when prepping this post.



And that'll do us for today. Stay tuned this week as both mine and coincidentally the blog's birthday come up on Saturday, I don't know what if anything I'm gonna do yet but I hope to come up with something. There'll be certainly no party this year that's for sure. And on that note, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Friday, 31 July 2020

Delicacies

Wassily Kandinsky - Fragile (1931)


Recently I've been chasing a specific sound, you can hear the partial results of this on the High Tech Dreams mix I put together and ever since then I've been after similar sounding stuff, and there's not a 100% perfect way to describe it. It's a special kind of delicate electronic that I know when I hear but as far as I know doesn't have a specific genre name, and probably won't because of how broad my choices are. So I'm going to share a few more recent additions here today in the hope that someone could maybe enlighten me to more similar, or at the very least you find something that you like as well.

Rei Harakami is an absolute must here, after all it's his productions that led me down this path in the first place. It's Harakami's trademark sound that for me defines this kind of electronic I'm talking about, others I put in that category don't have to match his style 100% mind you, but the overall feeling is the same. Harakami's works is full of gorgeous sounds, lush synths and is frankly just a joy to listen to. I'd hesitate to call it 'ambient' in the purest sense of the word but much like ambient these kind of tracks are perfect for both background play and active listening; listening the the tracks from Lust on speakers and headphones especially are very different experiences, I love the little panning tricks that Harakami does throughout as the sounds effortlessly dance back and forth. I have a love-hate relationship with the ending of this track, it's abrupt in a sense, but the way it just gracefully slides away is also a perfect encapsulation of Harakami's methodology.



Cornelius also occasionally hits this button for me. Point is usually an upbeat electronic-acoustic jam, if you're familiar with Cornelius' debut Fantasma then you already have some kind of idea. But nestled in the middle of the tracklist is this more sedate piece, the acoustic-electric combo is still very much there, but this time with a much more downtempo energy. It's got that DIY electronic sound that I love so much, the kind where it sounds like it could have been recorded in someone's bedroom with just a guitar and a drum machine; think The Knife's self-titled debut album or Erlend Øye's Unrest for similar (Øye's band also remixed Drop from this album, which has a similar vibe too!). Tone Twilight Zone takes a little while to get going but that only further works in favour of the whole atmosphere its going for.



Visiting Susumu Yokota next, another extremely prolific name in Japan's electronic music world. Yokota made a ton of house and techno but switched to almost purely ambient in the later 2000's. 1999/2000's Sakura is when this shift begins to happen (at least in my experience of his discography, I'm not an expert!), it opens with a beautiful ambient pieces and tracks with beats are rare. It's a lovely listen, a little different from the crisp & clean sounds of the last two examples I posted, on several tracks there is this slightly imperfect feel, with some tracks (this one included) even sounding like the synth pads clip a little. That doesn't exclude it from the above mentioned criteria though, while lacking that 'high tech' sound it still evokes the same feelings. it's almost the Boards Of Canada to the other examples listed, much more tactile and handmade than the cool flow of Harakami's work.



Going to take a little turn here, some things I wanted to talk about for a while but aren't available on the usual streaming we use. I don't really like to use YT embeds but sometimes its necessary, so I thought I'd balance it out with the above. Anyway, I'd recently got into some soundtrack work from Kensuke Ushio and after falling for the style he was employing something fierce I was left wanting more. Colour me embarrassed when I didn't do even a basic search to find out that he already had multiple albums of similar stuff under his 'Agraph' alias. I dived right in with the first album under that alias: A Day, Phases and it was exactly what I wanted. It's again slightly different from the above, this is by far the fastest track we'll have covered so far today for one. Despite it's age there was still plenty of what I liked about his solo work to get stuck into, and you can even hear the glitchy skips that come up in said solo work which I why I liked it in the first place. You all know I'm a sucker for juxtapositions in sound and this ticks that box for me. I think his work is really interesting so expect him to come up a couple more times in the near future.



And finally, something that's been swimming in my head for a couple of months now, I've been holding out hope for it to appear on streaming or other platforms but its taking it's sweet time, so apologies again in advance for the YT embed. We're taking a trip back to 1986 for an ambient album fittingly called Soundscape 1: Surround. Hiroshi Yoshimura is a fairly big name in the ambient world, and it's taken me an embarrassingly long time to actually look into his works, especially for someone who claims to be very into the genre. When I finally did though, I'm glad I picked this album, as the opening track immediately made its way into this category from the first bars. The main motif is simply lovely and it very much matches the aquatic theme of the cover too. It may sound a little dated and 'New Age'-y now, but it is almost 35 years old after all. I've been drip feeding myself his works to get the most out of them, but I've let myself play this album out quite a few times while I'm at 'work' and it's been very enjoyable indeed. Check out the whole thing if this is up your alley.



Wednesday, 29 July 2020

In My Restless Dreams

Not to be a one trick pony when it comes to content but yet another very important series of soundtracks are now available to stream and I will be talking about them too. Seems Konami are occasionally in the business of making not awful decisions and have finally put Akira Yamaoka's Silent Hill soundtracks up on streaming (Or at least the big 3, Shattered Memories and one of the movie soundtracks were already there).

Yamaoka's work on Silent Hill is incredible; both his work on the sound design and the soundtrack itself, it's a beautiful mixture of Ambient, almost literal Industrial and bits and pieces of Trip Hop. It sounds scatterbrained on paper but in practice it all comes together to make an overall atmosphere that is very apt for the setting: sometimes lush and dreamlike, sometimes relentlessly brutal. We'll take a look at one bit from each of the big three today, see you after the art from the Second OST!



I believe I've said this on the podcast before, but Yamaoka's Silent Hill 2 soundtrack is legitimately one of my favourite ambient albums of all time. Granted it's not *completely* ambient but the parts that are, are at the top of the list when it comes to my personal list. I normally lean heavy on the trip hop side of things when I talk about the Silent Hill OSTs so I thought I'd change it up this time. The Day Of Night is what I think of instantly when recalling this soundtrack and it's absolutely divine from the get go, featuring that 'rising & falling' motif that is present in a bunch of other of SH2's soundtrack pieces. It's awfully pleasant for something from the soundtrack of a horror title, but you can almost make out a little bit of an unsettling atmosphere nested in there too which just makes the whole thing even more perfect. The way it seamlessly mixes into the next track, the much more industrial Block Mind really drives this home, shame there's no real way for me to simulate that on this page. Definitely check them both out back to back if you get the chance.



Silent Hill 3's soundtrack mixes things up as well, there's definitely more trip-hop influence on here than previously, and some of the pieces are now backed with spoken word both ambient and otherwise, courtesy of long time collaborator Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, she even appears on the end of this track, delivering some lines as one of the game's antagonists Claudia (no relation to myself!). I went with another track I've not mentioned in the past this time, Dance With Night Wind. As mentioned before Yamaoka very clearly takes a lot of trip hop influence when composing for Silent Hill; Portishead being the first and natural comparison (and not a baseless one, there's even a texture of a Portishead poster in Silent Hill 1, here's a better shot of it). And while that's true there's obviously more inspiration to draw from, this one in particular sounds similar very early UNKLE when DJ Shadow was involved. More specifically this one reminds me very much of Spylab's The Call from This Utopia, from around the same time as SH3's release actually. The beats very similar for one, albeit a little more rough on the Spylab track, but there are closer examples throughout the SH OSTs, but what really makes the comparison even more apt is the conspiracy theory laden spoken word accompaniment certainly wouldn't be too out of place in Silent Hill.



SH4 has even less ambience to its name, at least on the main album. There are some very short & sweet ambient bits on some of the collector's edition CDs but they are not on streaming so I'll have to skip them unfortunately. The trip hop trend continues onto this album, but with an almost high-tech sound to it in parts, it feels a lot more clean than the rough and rusty beats of before. You can hear it here on Into The Depths Of Self Discovery at around 2:10 where there's a very synthy breakdown type thing, but even before then the whole production is a lot more crisp than before. It keeps that slightly unsettling edge though, and while it does err more closely to traditional 'soundtrack' work than Yamaoka's other productions, it still has a lot of interesting sounds that keep it fresh. This high tech sound isn't a one off either, running through the album in prep of writing this I was reminded of Remodeling which I almost posted instead. It almost borders on Techno in parts (and I would argue the outro is 100% techno with those isolated beats), and could have easily fit into something like Warp's Blech tapes. The whole thing is still very Yamaoka in it's execution, but it's refreshing to hear this kind of experimentation regardless.



Well that's quite enough soundtrack speech from me for this week. Again apologies if this is just re-treading old ground for you, or you're just not interested, I'm just very excited that these soundtracks are now much more accessible to people. The Silent Hill soundtracks helped me define what I liked not only in terms of the hip hop come trip hop stuff but also for more ambient pieces too, I'm of firm belief you don't have to have played the games or have any knowledge about them to appreciate the OSTs. If you do decide to check them out off this post, unlike other soundtracks out there, none of the track titles are spoilers so you should have a good time! As always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Monday, 27 July 2020

Hip Hoppin' Be Boppin'

Great news over the weekend for music accessibility. After what feels like forever (and some drip feeding at the start of quarantine), the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack has finally appeared on streaming platforms everywhere. I was hopeful after Yoko Kanno's Ghost In The Shell stuff appeared not too long ago considering she worked on both but I wasn't expecting it to be so soon.

While not wholly electronic it's a damn fine soundtrack to a damn fine series, it stands well enough on its own that you don't need to know anything about the series to dive right in, and while not all of it is available to stream there's still plenty to get your teeth stuck into. If you're looking for some Jazzy vibes for your Monday morning this is supremely what you're looking for. I'll be covering a couple pieces that I dig and also once again sharing some of the Remix album that has some very interesting artist choices on it. Really, I'm just super stoked that people can access the OSTs more easily, makes discovery (and you know, actually talking about them in post format) much easier indeed.



Starting with a bit from OST 2, playfully subtitled No Disc (though it was also on Vitaminless which has been on Spotify for longer!). If you're at all familiar with Drum & Bass (especially around the late 90's / early 00's when Bebop was around) you'll know that the combination of Jazz and Drum & Bass isn't an incredibly farfetched one; the E-Z Rollers and Flytronix were both doing similar around the same time. The Bebop OST flirts with this combination a bit here and there and even goes full Jungle for a minute on OST 3. Fantaisie Sign takes a more Lounge slash R&B style to the proceedings but the Jazz influence is still very much there, I've loved this track for a long time, but those background pads are really doing it for me today. Slightly unrelated, the combination of driving brass and sultry French vocals reminds me in a roundabout way of Thievery Corporation's Saudade, though that LP took a lot more inspiration from Bossa Nova.



Moving swiftly away to something more fitting for the electronic side of things. There's also an entire remix album called Music For Freelance that I've written about extensively before but I will take any excuse to bring it up again. It's a veritable who's who of the electronic music world of the late 90's, starting with a mix of the opening theme Tank! by none other than Luke Vibert. Vibert's mix doesn't actually do much to the main body of the song (which is more of a testament to the strength of the original opening tune itself rather than a critique of Vibert's mix). It's not the most altered version here, but Vibert's additions are still pretty evident, I love the little breakdown he added around the midpoint too.



I was originally planning to cover every remix on here but in hindsight I think that'll be a little too long. Skipping over Fila Brazillia's remix this time and diving into DMX Krew's mix of Cats On Mars. I wonder if the artists got to choose which track they remixed, because the slightly goofy sounding original Cats On Mars seems like it would be right up Ed from DMX's alley, given his penchant for cheesy electro and all. The end result is stripped of pretty much every element of the original save for Yoko Kanno's nonsense vocal, the rest replaced with cool twinkling synths and an expectedly DMX fat electro bassline. An odd choice but a very fine remix, Ed's personality shines through and it brings some nice variety to the roster of remixers.



Taking things downtempo with Mr. Scruff for the next mix. Once again another choice that would make sense if the artists got to pick which track they wanted to mix, the original Cat Blues sounds like it would be an absolute goldmine for Scruff's style of sampling. And that is definitely true for the mix itself, Scruff takes all the bits and pieces and makes a lovely hip hop style tune out of it. Totally transformed from the original, it doesn't even re-use the melody, a remix in the truest sense of the word. I do think it suffers a little bit from long plateaus of sound like there should be a vocal or something but that's the extent of my complaints (Well, that and the fadeout at the end seems a little sudden). By the time it starts to grate those bombastic opening samples slide back into the mix once again and I can't stay still.



Next is an interesting one from DJ Vadim. Firstly because the track being remixed, Fe, wasn't actually available on any of the OST releases around the time of this remix album, only appearing on the Cowboy Bebop CD Box in 2002. And compared to the original, Vadim's mix is quite different indeed. We're no stranger to the mixes not resembling the originals by this point but Fe is on another level; going from a Spy-suite style piece to a full on lumbering trip-hop number that has more than a smidge of Portishead influence. I love the slightly spooky turntablist style it brings, it again feels like it should have a vocal or something, but that could just be a casualty of me looping it 3-4 times before writing.



Finally, playing us out is a Remix of Fantaisie Sign by none other than Ian Pooley. It's at this point I realised there's a conspicuous lack of full on house on this remix LP, I could very well see the original getting a Stardust or Modjo style makeover given the style of the time. What we get instead is ironically more in line with the Thievery Corporation Bossa Nova I mentioned in the initial paragraph, not like that's a bad thing but as I mentioned above, the whole album seems to have this downtempo streak and it would have been nice to have one or two dancefloor friendly pieces here. Still, not complaining. Get a load of the bassline on this one.



And that wraps us up for today, again while not strictly electronic definitely check out some The Seatbelts' stuff because it's a great listen and fantastically produced throughout, hopping through multiple genres across the 4 or so OST album for the series. Speaking of, I highly recommend Cowboy Bebop as a series as well, it's a fantastic production and very, very accessible if you've never seen or are generally not a fan of anime; there's no lore or anything you need to know before going in either. I'll stop myself there because that could be a whole other article in and of itself. As always, stay safe and enjoy the music!

-CVF

Friday, 24 July 2020

Destroy Me

Lately I've had a slightly odd feeling. Not a new one, but one that is uncommon to say the least. The best way I can think to describe it is that I have a real need to, and actively seek out media that for want of a better term crushes me. At the risk of sounding like a total edge-lord, every so often it's nice to kinda embrace the chaos for a minute or several. And to tell you the truth I'm not even sure that the description makes it any clearer, so hopefully these music choices make the idea I'm shooting for a little more defined. I've been holding off on putting it to paper (or the web as it were) because the last thing we need right now is me writing about negative stuff but I think I can work it into a nice middle ground. Stick with me and let's explore.

Jimmy Ernst - A Time For Fear (1949)

As mentioned above this isn't a completely new development, in fact you can see streaks of it poking through on a couple posts ago on We Are All Connected. And with that, there have been several artists and tracks in my library I turn to when it strikes me: Clark's The Autumnal Crush, The Knife's Raging Lung to name two. But I was interested in branching out a bit and not just re-treading, so I gathered some recent finds that fit that bill and will be talking about them today.

First we have a crossing of two mediums that definitely are thematically appropriate; Heaven Will Be Mine entered my radar not too long ago and based on what I've seen/read/heard it seems like it's supremely up my alley, just get a load of the store page quote: "HEAVEN WILL BE MINE is a visual novel about making terrible life decisions in the midst of a hot-blooded battle between giant robots.". Between that and the soundtrack I've heard so far it has definitely climbed up the "to-do" ladder very quickly indeed. Terraformer is actually what inspired this post, it's oppressive kickdrums sparking that idea in my head to begin with.



HEALTH predictably make an appearance here, as would make sense given how most if not all of their releases are in ALL CAPS. Any number of tracks from Death Magic or their other releases could go here and would fit the bill just fine, I love the direction they've taken since Death Magic and am more than happy to see that trend continue on the follow up Vol.4 :: Slaves of Fear. Fear Nothing is another one that my mood can change on given the day, sometimes I can leave that intro but if I stick with it until the title drop around a minute in it all clicks together once again. It's not their most intense piece of work for sure, but it's definitely scratching that itch mentioned in the opening paragraph for me at the minute. I cannot overstate how much I love Jake Duzsik's unique vocal stylings, though I don't think this track is the best example of them, but from the lyricism to the delivery I really resonate with them.



It's worth nothing that songs I put in this category don't have to be abrasive or aggressive; we're rounding out today with a much more sedate number, from a recent addition to my library and one that barely missed out being included on We Are All Connected as another Fan Compilation. In this case it's straight up Ambient Techno, and a gorgeously lush example at that, evoking images of Warp's Artificial Intelligence series. On paper it'd be a tune that I would like but definitely consider too long but in practice that hasn't happened. Could be that I'm spending a lot more time at home using headphones these days but there are lots of subtle intricacies that keep it interesting. To admit my bias I just love the smoothness of it all, and the sudden dip in tempo that plays out the last quarter of the song is just divine. It's found itself in a very niche category of 'Songs to play when it's a muggy 3 AM and it's too hot to sleep' along with Boards Of Canada's Slow This Bird Down.



So ends a particularly scrambled selection of tracks. I'm not so sure we actually elaborated on that feeling I mentioned in the first paragraph but we certainly got some good tracks out of it, both posted and linked to/referenced. I hope that some of these tunes piqued your interest and you check the artists featured out further. Just a quick aside before I go, the Wired Sound For Wired People compilation is Name Your Price on Bandcamp so you can scoop it for free if you'd like. It's a solid compilation, a bit too experimental toward the end for my taste but there is plenty of good ambient and the like on there to get stuck into.

And as always, stay safe and enjoy the music,
-CVF

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Back Downtempo

Balcomb Greene - Way Down Blue (1945)


Looking over my recent choices and noticing a distinct lack of that downtempo streak that has been running through my writings since who knows how long ago. Thought I'd remedy that a bit with a cross section of some favourites I've not talked about before. Thievery Corporation kick things off with the title track from their album The Richest Man In Babylon, it's a great jumping in point if you're new to them, all the tracks are solid and a perfect demo of what you can expect from them. Babylon is a real blend of multiple genres, you can hear smidges of Reggae and Dub occasionally peek through, as well as a touch of Bossa Nova as the Corporation occasionally like to do. The whole thing is very slickly produced and as a result actually sounds pretty timeless despite being almost 20 years old now, I absolutely adore the brass on this track. To put it how a friend of mine said, it's "Perfect TV music", take that as you will!



Swinging back to my side of the shores for a little bit of Scruff. It's been a long time since I mentioned everybody's favourite tea-fuelled DJ which is a bit of a shame. We're talking the excellently titled Trouser Jazz today, the sequel to 1999's Keep It Unreal. Unlike the jump between his debut (the similarly punny Mrs. Cruff), and Keep It Unreal I feel like there's more of an obvious development in sound, and one for the better; the lovely jazzy sample work is still there, as are the surprisingly thick basslines Scruff is so fond off, albeit sounding a little more squelchy this time. The addition of Niko on the vocals makes the whole experience complete, both cementing that Jazzy influence that Scruff has in his works but also banishing those moments that I found on Keep It Unreal where the extended instrumentals got a little stale (which is worth noting isn't *always* true, some days I love 'em but it is a sticking point of that album for me)



And finally getting even more local with Fila Brazillia, who despite the latin-inspired name are actually from up t' road from me in Hull of all places. I checked them out initially off the heels of the remix they did for the Cowboy Bebop Remix album "Music For Freelance, and truth be told I think I like their solo works more than the remix. In a sweet twist of fate this album is of a similar era to the other two we've talked about today: 1999's A Touch Of Cloth. This album in particular has a very World-ly influence it touches all kinds of ground: Trip Hop with streaks of psychedelia (if the album art didn't tip you off already!) and even borders on proper full-on Freestyle Jazz in parts. Here's a 4-minute crash course and one of my favourites from the album; Airlock Homes.



Sunday, 19 July 2020

Ilictromix: Fuji Kureta (2014)

A re-post and archival of one of the series of mixes Adam sourced for us a long time ago. There's a couple more of these in the archives but I will spread them out between new posts! In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy the music. -CVF

The temperatures are rising outside and to celebrate Ilictromix is following suit. This week we go all the way to Istanbul for a stellar mix from duo Fuji Kureta. Some lush, sticky, worldly, sounds are weaved throughout some delicious Turkish melodies for this weeks mix. Its a polar opposite from last weeks mix but equally rewarding.




Fuji Kureta consists of members Sahin Kureta and Deniz Ozturk who have only been DJ'ing since 2008. They met while working as translators and both shared a love of Glitch and fellow Istanbul producer,  Ah! Kosmos

They just dropped a new album titled Andrey and its a stellar release. The mix they provided us with feature songs that they listened to while recording Andrey. There are some solid original tracks and some favorites of mine from Jon Hopkins and Little Dragon.



Check out their Album Andrey 
Or their Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook

Tracklist:

Mykki Blanco - Angggry Byrdz
Jaaska - Chinna Chinna
Snasen - Tillop Till Dramatikk (Upland Remix)
Fuji Kureta - The Whale
The Baths - Phaedra
Jon Hopkins - Collider
Tirzah - I’m not Dancing
Moderat - Les Grandes Marches
Stromae - Papaoutai
Little Dragon - Seconds
Mariam the Believer - Somewhere Else
Tokimonsta feat. MNDR - Go with It
Sylvan Esso - Coffee
Matmos - Les Folies Francaises
-Adam

Friday, 17 July 2020

We Are All Connected

If you'll allow me, I'm going to indulge once again in the slightly more niche ideas I've been kicking around in my head. I've been thinking a lot about the concept of fan-works and the inspiration they offer. Fan-works are usually visual art, but sometimes they cross over into audio as well which is what we'll be talking about today, but first a bit of background.

It should come as no surprise to some readers that I am a big fan of Serial Experiments Lain. It's a series from 1998 that only seems to have gotten more prophetic about technology with age and has some incredibly visceral visual depictions of mental disorders that I really resonated with. Anyway, Lain has potentially the most fan-made music out of any fandom I actively follow, which is equal amounts surprising and expected really, and it runs the gamut from a Bootleg remix of the show's opening theme, that was then remixed again by one of the musicians responsible for the series' music, to the usual affair of 'inspired-by' compilations. And this was all before the landmark choice to make Lain "Open Source" until 2028, making the creation of fanworks not only easier, but essentially officially sanctioned. That is an incredible choice, and one very fitting for the source material.



As mentioned before though, people have been making fan works even before that point, and I'm going to talk about a few of them here. First off; I'm Real, I'm Here from Echochamber. This release is a perfect starting point as it doesn't lean very heavily on referencing the source material, making it very accessible if you're unfamiliar. But also playing into my initial point, it's a great fan work because it is very much evokes the atmosphere of the source material but with a more modern and personalised by the artist twist. I'm Real, I'm Here runs through a whole host of moods, from full on hip-hop, straight up Vaporwave and to Minimal House pieces like the one I'm going to post. I listened to it straight through for my first time and the whole experience flows together supremely well. Gorgeously lush in parts, intensely claustrophobic in others, it would definitely be my most recommended LP to check out from this post.



It's a very well balanced LP, despite spanning a ton of genres it never feels like it's particularly weighted one way or the other, save for the more hip-hop influenced pieces. I'm keeping it on he more accessible side for now with another one of my favourites which transports me back to my very short lived Progressive House phase. It's odd for me to describe a tune like this as nostalgic, but that time I was into Prog House is only getting further away! As above there's no obvious nods to its inspiration material here, which is a bit of a blessing as it lets me focus on the content itself. Occasionally when tracks like this come on I begin to vibe with them in an extra special way, a way that reminds me why I love electronic music and more specifically the myriad of House-y offshoots. This one in particular is excellently crafted; I adore that sweeping intro, there's not a single element out of place throughout, and to boot it doesn't suffer from having 3+ minutes of 4/4 tacked onto the front and back like some Prog House tunes in my library.



It's no surprise that such a surreal and psychological series like Lain, that also is steeped heavily in technology attracted the more... extreme side of electronic music genres. We're not going to dive straight into the deep end yet however. Let's talk about the self-published compilation Subhuman. True to the Dōjinshi format, Subhuman was available in limited supply from a comic market on December 30, 2009 (and I think from the label's site in limited quantity too?). Despite this the compilation is not incredibly difficult to get your hands on, and it's definitely worth a look. The opening track, fittingly called 'Depersonalization', is a lovely slice of dark and gloomy IDM tinged trip-hop. The breakdown at about 4 mins in is absolutely delightful.



I'm totally betraying the opening sentence of the last paragraph though because I'm not posting the more abrasive tunes from this comp. Tracks like "The Accelerator" for example have Current Value style hard Drum & Bass as the dish of choice, but the artist behind that track and the Compilation at large; 3x6, also has a more traditional drum & bass appearance on this comp. Both I'm Real, I'm Here both sport samples rom the series scattered throughout (though none of the tracks I've picked do!), on paper I'd be inclined to call this a little on-the-nose but in practice it works incredibly well; none of the samples feel forced or shoehorned into make it more of a fan-work, operating more like a knowing wink to those who know the source material. One last thought here: truth be told I remembered this as being one of my lesser liked tunes from here, but something about it is just hitting slightly different today.



Rounding us out for today I will now take a dive into that extreme side! The final compilation I'm talking about is La-Incarnation, from Otherman Records, a tiny (seemingly defunct) netlabel from Japan, who in their own words are "Leading Japanese Breakcore Scene". This one is the real mixed bag of the bunch, I can't recommend it as easily as the other two as it is often a challenging listen, but I still like it (it's also name your price if you want to scoop it for free). It's taken me a good while to narrow it down to a couple of songs actually, trying to strike a balance between a good demonstration of that atmosphere and not being too experimental. First example is fairly tame, what I really like about this album is that it feels very distinctly like when you used to stumble into weird websites way back when; full of strange screen-names and site-specific slang. There's plenty of Chiptune on this compilation but this might be my favourite example, the smooth intro giving in after a minute or so to slightly glitchy bleeps and bloops that are straight out of a Keygen song only cements that technology fuelled atmosphere.



The intro and main body having wildly different flavours is a trend in my picks, at the risk of spoiling the experience it's why this one won out. It reminds me an awful lot of when I first listened to Clark's The Autumnal Crush, specifically being completely blindsided by the sheer intensity of it. If you're playing the song as you're reading this you've probably raised an eyebrow. "Intense?" I hear you say "Seems like it's just a regular downtempo type tune" and you would be right, but there is a sudden switch up after about 3 minutes that certainly lives up to that breakcore quote the label said initially. It's definitely an experience that is better if you're NOT expecting it like I wasn't on my first listen but I couldn't really talk about it without spoiling. On some days it really hits something inside of me and it's incredible, other days I have to reach for the skip track button when I remember that part approaching. Today I can appreciate them both in their chilled and face melting moods respectively.



Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Tune In, Drop Out

Postponing another post as I needed to get this out ASAP. Some of you may remember how much I love Miss Kittin's compilation/mixtape thingy Radio Caroline, Vol. 1, I've posted about it plenty in the past! It's finally made it's way to digital distribution (as have a lot of her mixes) via bandcamp, which I was surprised at because I thought it'd be a licensing minefield. I long ago picked up a second hand physical version anyway but it's nice to see it accessible like this.

Radio Caroline a real treasure trove of rare tunes, myself and Kittin's music taste sometimes clash, I've listened to a few of her other compilations like this and none of them have quite gripped me the way this one has. It's not just the track choices either, Kittin injects a little bit of uniqueness to the compilation/mix by overdubbing herself musing in spoken word about a variety of topics, it makes the whole thing feel a lot more personal and twinned with the excellent track choices you really get a feel for her personality through it. Let's get right in.



It doesn't take long before we hit a highlight, after a brief intro we hit the gorgeous melodic IDM of Delarosa & Asora, this track is one of many that made it onto my 'must pick up' list off the back of this compilation (though unfortunately some are a lot harder to come by than this) it really sets the mood for things to come, even down to the little spoken word interlude from Kittin towards the end as it mixes out into the next track. I may yet write a full Retro Review of this compilation because it totally deserves it, and being a mix it might be a little disjointed with me just picking my favourites. That said, listening to it in prep for writing this, a lot of the tracks stand pretty well on their own, the only giveaway they're from a mix is usually on the outros and not the beginnings which is a testament to how well the tracks are picked.



Back to the rarities, here's one that pretty much only exists on this compilation. It's another one of those instances where mine and Kittin's music taste doesn't quite align, but where I would become quickly bored by tunes like this in a regular mix, Kittin's spoken word gives it a little edge that keeps it fresh and the best part is how effortlessly it's put in there, Kittin's voice doesn't seem like an out-of-place addition, you could almost mistake it for being part of the studio track. And bonus points for the absolutely gorgeous mixing out into Marshall Jefferson vs. Noosa Heads' Mushrooms (Salt City Orchestra Out There Mix), which is one of my favourites of all time, never mind from this mix!



Keeping things rare with a piece from Plaid alias Repeat, and you can definitely hear the Plaid influence in there once it's pointed out, though it is very different from their usual melodic semi-IDM style. This is again another one of those tracks that would have been super obscure were it not for this mix, this isn't Kittin flexing on how many rare records she has in her collection though, it's something a little more wholesome. I know I'm repeating (ha!) that point a lot but it bears doing so: part of the reason I got into blogging and the reason I adore mixes like this is that you get to shine a light on so much stuff that you enjoy and hopefully others will as well.



Saving my all time favourite for last. If we wanted to talk about flexing rarity this would be the track to do it on. Taken from Walking Endustries one and only EP called "Relaxation II - The Era Of 'Mental Hip Hop", of which there are only 500(!) copies. This record has been a great source of pleasure and pain for me, between Radio Caroline and another compilation I had a total of two tracks from it and they were both super gorgeous. I saw rumors a while ago now that it was going to get a digital release but nothing seems to have materialised yet. After literally years of fruitless searching I finally got my hands on a copy (digitally that is) not too long ago and it's everything I could have wanted. I love the inclusion of Makkee on this mix, it stands out amongst the minimal and house we've heard so far and is generally just a lovely slice of Hip Hop. What really makes it complete though is that tempo switch up in the latter half, kicking in at around 3 minutes in, and it's subsequent mixing out into the final track [Kinesthesia - Flicklife (µ-Ziq Mix)]. I could have written the whole article on this track alone, but the whole compilation has been an incredible chapter in my music listening history and I cannot recommend it enough. Especially now it's super easy to get your hands on via bandcamp.



Be sure to check out the full thing on Bandcamp! I skipped over many a track, including a couple favourites not mentioned here (If you've been reading long enough to know my taste you might be able to spot them! ). Worth noting if you love a bargain like me, Kittin is currently offering a coupon code to get 80% off anything from her bandcamp (until July 16), the code is "happybd" (minus the quotes). Get out there and support your favourite artists!

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Time Capsule

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



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



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


-Claude Van Foxbat

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Return To Form

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

Fernand Leger - Forms In Space (1950)


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



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



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



Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Retro Reviews: Circ - Love Electric

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



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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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

-CVF

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Cover Stories (2020)

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

Enjoy,
-CVF


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



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




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




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




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



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

Rule Of Thirds,
- Claude Van Foxbat

Friday, 3 July 2020

Remembering To Remember

Current events have given me a mass of time to catch up on that ever-growing list of things to pickup that I maintain. And on top of that I've managed to find a couple things that I had resigned myself to never finding. While this is a positive however, it too has fallen victim to the wishlist problem. Much like my Steam account, I am incredibly guilty of wish-listing EVERYTHING that I might even have a passing interest in (or worse still, just that I think the album art looks cool). Which brings me to the purpose of today's post; a rundown of things I've wishlisted that I must get around to picking up soon.

Paul Klee - Remembrance of a Garden (1914)




Occasionally I'll check out what Spotify recommends I add to some of my playlists, more often than not they're misses or just more tracks from albums aledy in them, but sometimes you get some goodies in there. Take this one for example; I haven't heard anything from Kölsch before, and even though I may have stubled across it via checking out Tiga's releases I'm sure happy that I cam across it. My taste has changed a bunch since teenage me was trawling the net for his next electro house fix but there are times when that part of me reawakens for a little bit, and this tune does exactly that to me, something about this sound evokes those same feelings as when I first tuned into Electro-Choc, (although it's tech house now and not straight electro). Regardless, I am in love with everything about this one.



It's worth keeping tabs on Bandcamp too, since last year some of the more obscure or hard to come by releases of old have come back there which is a delight to see. Case in point with DMX Krew, albums previously only available physically on Aphex Twin's Rephlex label and never re-pressed are now making their way to the digital frontier. I'd already picked up We Are DMX second hand before it came to bandcamp, but now it and the album before it (Nu Romantix) are now readily available. And they are the two I would recommend as a great starting point if you're looking to explore the sound of the Krew, the sound is of the same Chromeo school of old school but self aware which often reflects in Ed from DMX's choice of lyrics. Here's one of my favourites from We Are DMX, it's not as full of self-aware irony as other tracks on there but other than that it's a solid intro to DMX Krew. I could live in the sounds of that short intro bar forever.



Finally, another album I'd been waiting on to make it's digital debut. Seems like it did a long time ago but I could never find it in my searches. That's one of the downfalls of bandcamp when you end up with stores run by labels and artists' there is a version of this LP available from one of the Funkstörung folk, but it's the edition with interviews and commentary spliced into the tracks which, while neat, isn't what I'm looking for. Anyway, Disconnected is a lovely slice of mid 2000's downtempo; electronic meets acoustic with just a smidgen of IDM influence. I was going to go with the title track of the LP, but changed my mind last minute. Not to sound like a broken record but I love this one so so much, I forget about it every now and then but some spark will ignite in my head and I seek it out. Mainly the music video was a massive inspiration to me when I was making live visuals for Artists and DJs, which I think might make me a twinge nostalgic.



As always, stay safe and enjoy the music all!

-CVF

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Downtime (2020)

NOTE: Hi there! This is an older post that I've re-published and am re-posting as a new article too just so there is visible content going up. This is going to carry on for a while as I fix the ~8 years of broken links in the archives, but do note that the next post will be an original one! This post is originally from November 2014.

Enjoy,
-CVF


Hello all, gap in my schedule so I can lay down an actual post and not just some soundcloud players. Full winter mode engaged as practically every single piece of upbeat music I own has been put away for storage, here's what I got on ATM:

Jeremy Mann - Rooftops In The Snow

100th Window is essentially perfect for this, a much more cold and artificial experience then say Mezzanine was. The dark patch the band was going through reflects very well in most of the LPs tracks. The intro for this one is gorgeous, and Massive's regular vocal guest Horace Andy shines bright too.



Winter wouldn't be complete without OPN now would it? Every December since my first listen back in 2010 I dust off the Rifts compilation and warm myself up on that sweet analogue fuzz. The opening track is the one that sold me, and one that still stands tall in my stack of ambient to this day. A perfect introduction to Oneohtrix Point Never if you're new, check out the Rifts compilation for more, they re-issued it a couple years ago with some extra tunes.



Re-visiting Röyksopp's output after my last post has been a great experience. Tucked away on the end of The Understanding is this gorgeous tune which gives me the same warm fuzzies that they did with Sparks from Melody A.M. back in 2001. As a penultimate track it's almost perfect. I wouldn't say it summarises this album's content so much but that's fine by me, I do love when they end on a downtempo note.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Out Of Character

Breaking the trend with two new posts back to back just to mix it up a little. That and my old writings are very dated now, some of them carry extremely powerful 2010's teen energy. Anyway, this is just another rundown of tune I like at the mo, and as the reason for the title is twofold: One, it's odd to have back to back new posts in this hellscape of a year. And two, we're starting off with a recent addition that is of a genre that I very much am unfamiliar with.

Roberto Aizenberg - Character (1968)


If these past few years have taught me anything it's not to say with complete confidence that "I don't like X", which is something I should have come to terms with after my Eurobeat and J-Pop jaunts. Yuzo Koshiro takes a break from his usual Trance MO on this LP, experimenting with Drum & Bass and other genres along the way. Today's order is Hardstyle (I think?), I have some Hard house and Trance but me and Hardstyle and by extension Gabber never really gelled, could be that I have just heard some bad Gabber in my time! This one has taken me by storm though, every time I hear that intro I get a little bit hyped. It's a little surreal to be sending work emails to tunes like this but it's keeping me sane. Or at least what passes for it around here.



Next up is Cylob. I've been meaning to take another deep dive into Cylob since the Rephlex days and some solid remixes he's done over the years. This one is slightly reminiscent of another favourite of mine from him Rewind purely because I love love love the Mac text-to-speech voices. They have a slightly omnius vibe to them always, and more often than not are used as monotone accompaniment to a track (not that I'm complaining about that!), from my brief foray into that world myself I'm pretty sure that you can add parameters to do interesting things with the pitch and the like (See the old Moonbase Alpha memes from years ago for a not so practical demonstration). And that's exactly what Cylob does here, I love those voices at the best of times but making them 'sing' like this is absolutely brilliant!



And finally, an obscure compilation I was surprised to find a legal stream of, the suitably German compilation of Hambrgeins. If the Helvetica on the cover and minimal design didn't tip you off, this compilation is exactly that: a bunch of Ambient, Tech House and Minimal all put together in one big turn of the millennium package. This has been an important listen for me as I try and scope out what I like potentially branch out into that world. Some of them are hits, some of them are misses, some of them are hits that are too long in the tooth and need a bit of variety, but I digress. This one is of the former, scratching my glitchy / smooth juxtaposition itch all so commonly hit by Apparat or The Flashbulb. Take this as yet another note to self to check out Pawel further in the near future.



-CVF

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Cross Section

Apologies for the slight delays recently, I've been on a bit of a roll with restoring a bunch of blog posts (over 600 republished as of writing!) but unfortunately we're hitting the era where a lot of the posts either have broken soundcloud links b/c they've been taken down (Which I am still republishing, just with a note that they're broke) or even worse have no formatting which makes it an absolute headache to fix the links. Here's a screenshot so that all of you can share my pain as well:



Yeah. So I thought I'd return to form with this original post as I just talk about the kinda stuff I'm listening to as of late. Let's get right in, my techno itch came up something fierce a little while ago as you might have notice from the High Tech Dreams mixtape I did a little while ago, I used that as a springboard to dive further into the work of Mijk Van Dijk. Van Dijk's stuff has been hit and miss with me in the past but the hits have been incredible hits. I chose the album 'Teamwork' as I hadn't yet heard anything from it, as the name suggests it's an album of collaborations, each track is Mijk with another producer. I picked the opening track with Humate (who I'm slightly familiar with from Love Stimulation) so it was looking to be a good time. I love that intro something fierce; partially the gorgeous synth accompaniment that is very Van Dijk, partially the nostalgic if a little cliché Tomb Raider samples that make up the backbone of the track.



Not to play out the High Tech Dreams post again, but I recently replayed Ape Escape 3 for a slice of nostalgia and the soundtrack still holds up incredibly well. It marks the return of Soichi Terada after being absent from the sequel, I always want to describe his soundtracks as suprising given the subject material. They're cutesy games form Japan about catching monkeys, I certainly wouldn't expect it to be home to some absolutely gorgeous Drum & Bass and House, but I suppose that's what you get when you bring an electronic musician in as a composer (And I am not complaining at all!). Gorgeous skittering beats, lush synth pads and a surprisingly thick bassline are the order of the day here, with the fittingly titled Eversummer Island. It cuts off abruptly as do most of these OSTs, mostly because I think they're designed to loop back into themselves.



A recent addition to my listening repertoire, Swayzak were supposed to appear in some form in that High Tech Dreams mixtape mentioned above, but were cut last minute. Currently making me eat my words a little as so many other bands have with my "I don't really like minimal" stance. They also cross over into the world of electroclash a bit in the early 00's which as you all may know is essentially scoring a critical hit on me (Doubly so when one of their works is a collab with Nicola Kuperus of ADULT.). A little lost on where to begin I jumped in on 2000's Himawari which is a suitably high tech treat. I chose State Of Grace to best represent this, I can see how people would lump this in with electroclash, there is a kind of Fischerspooner-esque style to the proceedings, and even some German thrown in there toward the end to suggest that Euro vibe of labels like International Deejay Gigolos. It sounds surprisingly modern for 20 years old now, though Kirsty Hawkshaw Of Opus III fame on the vocals is a bit of a throwback for sure. At least in that department I will say it's a least a little early-mid 00's, regardless it's an all around solid production.



-CVF