Sunday, 29 March 2020

Lost In Fog

NOTE: Hi there! I'm going through the backcatalogue and re-publishing all the posts I can find. I'm re-posting them as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. This post is originally from March 2018.

Enjoy,
-CVF


A post that's been long overdue today, as I talk a little about the musical stylings of Akira Yamaoka, the man responsible for a great deal of the soundtracks for the Silent Hill series. Now if you know anything about games you might know that the Silent Hills are a little spooky to say the least, and as you might expect some of the soundtrack reflects that, often being quite literally industrial to go with the rusty chain link structures of the otherworld presented in the games. We'll dive right into things right after the album art of the original soundtrack in all it's 90's CG glory.



But that's not to say it's all brutally oppressing in it's atmosphere, in fact some of the tunes are quite nice. Contrast that link I posted above to this tune here. Same soundtrack, just some 20-odd tracks apart, only instead of sounding like the inside of a forge we're instead treated to some trip-hop flavoured goodness, opening with some vinyl crackle and a lonely acoustic guitar. The end result wouldn't sound too out of place on one of those dime-a-dozen lo-fi hip hop youtube vids, but I think Akira's got them beat seeing as he was making stuff like this in 1999.



That's not conjecture on my part either, Akira's work on the Silent Hill games takes a lot of inspiration from dark trip hop from the likes of Portishead and co. (there's even a texture of a Portishead poster in Silent Hill 1, here's a better shot of it). I dare say there's other points of reference too, The Reverse Will from the second game leans more on the trip hop side of things by bringing some scratching into the mix, but also I think touches on some Boards Of Canada territory too as about 55 seconds in there's a reversed sample of a child (one of the game's VO cast, actually) reciting the the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer. On paper that sounds very much like Boards' modus operandi on Geogaddi with it's slightly occult undertones and general unsettling vibe, however Yamaoka's soundtrack actually predates Geogaddi by about a year.



And finally, the tune that made me want to make this post in the first place. The soundtrack to Silent Hill 3 has the least of the heavy industrial overtones and more of the ambient and trip/hip hop stuff, there's so many good tunes to pick from but if I had to choose only one it would be this. End Of Small Sanctuary is part of a select few tunes that put me on a highway to nostalgia town, like all those others I'be talked about in the past that I used to listen to shit 96kbps rips that I'd got off limewire on my whopping 256MB mp3 player. Aside from that personal attachment though, I still think it's a solid work in it's own right. It's nothing crazy complex or particularly long, but it nails the atmosphere its going for and more often than not I catch myself going back for just one more listen before it ends.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Friday, 27 March 2020

Heaven Can Wait (2020 Re-visit)

NOTE: Hi there! I'm going through the backcatalogue and re-publishing all the posts I can find. Something a little different this time as the original article was thin on the ground, so I actually wrote up a couple of new paragraphs about the content. Should you want to see the original post You can find it here.

Stay safe and enjoy,
-CVF


I occasionally re-stumble upon the 3 mixtapes that short lived Joel Ford & Daniel Lopatin project Games put out. If you're at all familliar with Joel or Daniel's work you will see some parallels. The way I always like to boil it down is that these mixtapes are a much, much more accessible version of Daniel's founding Vaporwave project Eccojams

The methodology is fairly similar though, chopped and screwed version of retro songs; but whereas Eccojams was more experimental a la John Oswald's Plunderphonics, the Heaven Can Wait series is very listenable indeed, it's amazing how brilliant some of those melodies sound when slowed down (but as long time readers will know, I am a sucker for any kind of vocal distortion to boot). The first instalment is my favourite I think, but there are choice cuts throughout. If you dig volume one most certainly check out the other 2!



-Claude Van Foxbat

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Nostalgia Trippin'

NOTE: Hi there! I'm going through the backcatalogue and re-publishing all the posts I can find. I'm re-posting them as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. This post is originally from February 2018. I am actually re-playing the TimeSplitters games on an emulator at current now I am mostly at home, go figure.

Stay safe and enjoy,
-CVF


I've posted at length several times about my love for Graeme Norgate's Timesplitters soundtracks, they were supremely influential to a young Foxbat dipping his toes into both the world of electronic music and shooters. But a lot of that attention has been focused on Timesplitters 2 (which to be fair had the majority of my time back when). So today I thought I'd do a cross section of some good tunes from the other 2 games, the OG and Future Perfect. Get a load of those character models from 2000.

I thought I'd start with something a little unassuming first, the soundtrack to the built in mapmaker mode. I know I dole out a lot of criticism for generic productions and the like, but I have a real soft spot for menu themes and tracks like this. It's a little bit like ambient music, Norgate's sound engineering skills put to the test to make a tune that fills the silence but won't drive you out of your mind as you edit and re-edit variations of your map. Maybe it's the nostalgia talking, but I think I could slip a couple tunes like this into my cosy electronica category.



Something I especially like about the overall design of the Timesplitters soundtracks as a whole is how Norgate plays with the genres on display, fitting given he location and time-period hopping backdrop of the games. Compound is a one-off big beat come trip hop style tune with samples and some vinyl scratchin' dotted throughout. It's a one off composition that only appears in the multiplayer map of the same name, which sounds like a lot of effort on its own but this is just one of many tunes from the OST that are made for that exact purpose.



I like that tunes like the above are decidedly non-videogamey in how they feel. The same kind of applies to the final tune I have for you from the third instalment, Future Perfect. Here Norgate stretches his trance legs and takes us on a 7 minute ride. It'd be just as at home on the dance-floor as it is with deathmatches, and I've been often tempted to throw it into one of those mixtapes I put together semi-infrequently. The break at 4:15 is so deliciously in the style of old school trance euphoria and I adore it. Thanks for all the good times, Graeme.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Vintage Oizo (Part Two)

NOTE: Hi there! I'm going through the backcatalogue and re-publishing all the posts I can find. I'm re-posting them as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. This post is originally from August 2016 (which should hopefully explain some of the dated references!)

Enjoy,
-CVF


Moving more into familiar territory for part 2, just one year on from his debut #1 EP, Oizo's output here should be incredibly familiar for anyone with any knowledge of either Flat Beat or Analog Worms Attack. From the artwork down to the structure and sounds, Oizo is really finding his groove when it comes to slightly off kilter Electro stuff.



And he wastes no time letting you know that, with a turntablism infused rework of Kirk from the #1EP, something that'd later appear on the Analog Worms Attack LP, only with later Ed Banger bloke Feadz on the scratching duties.



And it's not long before we get stuck into that crunchy Electro goodness that made Flat Beat, in fact when Levi's jumped on the Oizo and Flat Eric hype train for a series of advertisements, this is one of the tunes that featured. With Eric making the electro burbles with his mouth of course.



That's not to say that the minimal edge from the previous EP is all gone however, it's there a little bit on M-Seq but Tweeter Trouble has it going on in spades. Speaking of tweeters too, this one's a pretty good shout if you're looking to test the bass side of your setup. I have it playing now at about 3/4 the usual volume and it's still rattling my desk a fair bit.



It's not all gritty mind you, there's some little funky side pieces going on as well. This one feels like a precursor to the very Oizo titled Last Night A DJ Killed My Dog, which I suppose is very fitting in itself given the title of it.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Vintage Oizo (Part One)

NOTE: Hi there! I'm going through the backcatalogue and re-publishing all the posts I can find. I'm re-posting them as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. This post is originally from August 2016 (which should hopefully explain some of the dated references!)

Enjoy,
-CVF


With Mr. Oizo's new LP All Wet looming on the horizon I'd like to take a minute or two to dive into his extensive back catalogue. Now of course most of you are familiar with Flat Beat, and Flat Eric has been a constant presence in his work, even appearing in pixellated format on the cover of All Wet, but we're going to a time before all that. Back to Oizo's debut in fact, with a little EP simply called #1.



This is 1997, a good couple of years or so before Flat Beat and Analog Worms Attack, and the most striking thing of all about this EP is the difference to the sound that's prevalent on both those. Those a whole lot of straight up conventional house tunes on here with perhaps a little bit of a minimal streak too. Which, while a far cry from his later work are still solid.



Not to say there aren't more than a few hints of the direction he would take, immediately after Kirk you're greeted with the same sinister electro come hip hop that ran throughout Analog Worms Attack. It's not quite there yet, which is a given if the year in the mix title is anything to go by, but the rough drums and scattered samples are definitely hallmarks that would come up again.



There's some middle ground too, upon revisiting I could easily see Ke-Ele appearing as a B-side to one of the Analog Worms Attack singles, though it sounds a lot smoother than anything on either there or this EP so far. It's aged incredibly well, and I definitely recommend both this and the full EP if you're into Oizo.



Signing off with the penultimate track, Krumpf is the opposite of all I've just said. There's no hints of the future Oizo to be had here, and the whole thing does sound like a late 90's house record. But that's not to say it's bad (I actually dig it a whole lot), even if it's not for you it's still interesting to hear, especially considering it in comparison to Oizo's releases since.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Uncertain Times

Hi again. I'd apologise once more for the extreme delay on any post but I'm sure you're all aware we have bigger issues on our collective plates at the moment. With that in mind I am going to try update here now and then to just give y'all something to read that isn't doomy. Starting with a reminder that my Ambient releases are available over on Bandcamp, for free if you would like. They have always been Pay What You Want and will continue to be so. I know personally how much music can mean, and I am a firm believer in accessibility to music (especially if you don't have the means to pay for it), so don't feel like you have to give me anything for them at all, and I hope you enjoy. (if you don't want to use bandcamp, there are direct links to my releases at the bottom of this post!)









Don't want to use Bandcamp or would prefer a direct download? no worries, I have you covered. Here are links to get the above releases from our own hosting as .zips!:

Compiled
Near Future Blues EP
Dive EP

Stay safe out there folks,
-Claude Van Foxbat