Saturday, 30 May 2020

Going Back To '83 Once More

Bit of a change of tack this time, stumbled across this old post in the archives and was very disappointed in my past self for not at least writing a little about the songs I picked. So I'm writing this now to fix that. Please enjoy a combination of an old post and a new one. For clarity I'll put the original writing in ITALICS, the rest will be in normal font. On with the post!



Long before he was working with Daft Punk, Giorgio Moroder had already made his home in my music library as I loved his soundtrack work for Scarface and Midnight Express. Good news is that in recent times he's fully adopted soundcloud and given us a peek into his works. Alongside the usual b-sides, outtakes and whatnot are unreleased slices from the Scarface soundtrack, and I'm in love all over again. Moroder's production is second to none when it comes to nailing that 80s disco-y vibe. Check 'em out yourself!

That opening paragraph was a bit of a fib, I knew that there were unreleased tunes from Scarface and even have a bootleg version with some of them included, I was just very surprised to see them archived by the man himself(!) on Soundcloud no less (you all know how I am with archiving!). I remember wishfully thinking that this meant that a 'complete' version was on it's way sometime soon but it's not materialised yet. Which is a shame because while I do love the New Wave and Disco that Moroder does oh so well, his other contributions are just as good also. More on that later.

Here's an instrumental cut that, if I remember right, was used in the backing of a few scenes from Scarface, but that doesn't mean he takes it as an opportunity to phone it in. It demonstrates that even without being a producer or having vocal accompaniment Moroder has a real ear for catchy sounds and I'd say a real strong identity to his productions. This isn't just generic disco, there's something about it that is distinctly Moroder, It's no wonder he ended up being so prolific.



But he also shines when making more New Wave style stuff too. By '83 when the film came out Moroder already had more than a few hits under his belt, but Disco was kind of old hat and new wave of electronic infused pop was becoming the in thing. So it's no surprise that the original copy of the accompanying soundtrack album leant heavily on these vocal driven New Wave style songs (You're probably all familiar with Push It To The Limit for example), with only two tracks being explicitly credited to Moroder (Tony's Theme and Gina & Elvira's Theme) being listed. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, hell, I love tracks like this because they are just so fun to listen to; Moroder's production is on point as per usual and Beth Andersen offers a strong performance to back it up.



But that said, I do wish that Moroder's original score was included, he demonstrates incredible flexibility in parts, going from the poppy dancefloor vibes of the above to incredibly atmospheric scene accompaniments. Case in point with No Wife, No Kids, if all you know of Moroder is I Feel Love or Together In Electric Dreams, you'd be surprised to see him pull a very John Carpenter-esque piece on this soundtrack, but he does (and does it well!). If I had to nitpick I'd say that this track is almost a bit too overbearing to be a soundtrack, but if you know the film it twins with the scene that it plays over incredibly well and really synergises the audio/visual atmosphere. You gotta love the trend of including spoilers in the song titles too.



Unfortunately, it's not the complete album on Moroder's SC which means some of my other fave new wavey tracks like Turn Out The Light aren't there. Still nice to see these unreleased tracks available in some form out there, especially considering how old they are. It's nice to see Moroder still around too, the man is in his 80s now and still at it! Here's hoping I can slot a few more raves in if I make it to that age too. As always all, Stay safe and enjoy the music.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Songs In The Key Of Chroma - Revisited

Back in January of 2018 I was in the mood to do some playlist curation, I was starting to commute longer distances and my usual stratagem of putting everything on shuffle wasn't cutting it; ambient drone loops are not a good companion for rush hour trains. So I made it my mission to create some more themed playlists focusing on moods, but rather than title them something trite like 'Jams' or something, I decided to split them into the colours used for industrial printing (which in hindsight may have been just as trite, especially for that pun in the title!). But still, it's easy for me to pick them out of my list of playlists with their unique names and thumbnails.

Why I'm here though is way back then my mission statement was to grow each of these playlists to 100 tracks and then talk about them again, because that's the most the Spotify embedded players will support. Now they actually did this a while ago, and while some of them sat at 99 for a while they are now all over that 100 mark. Not that it was a be-all end all thing, (I am still going to grow these playlists for certain so feel free to follow!) it was more of a milestone kinda thing. Anyway, let's have a look at the new and expanded playlists I have, starting with the first two colours of CMYK, Cyan and Magenta.

Cyan is a bit of a mixed bag, in here you'll find a slightly downtempo leaning collection sprinkled in amongst little bits of electropop, some ambient selections and other various lush sounds. If any of you longtime readers know what kind of sounds I rant and rave about on the chill side of things, you will find plenty of that here! With the expansions to the playlist it has gained a little bit of ambient in there as well with the new Squarepusher EP and some others. As well as a little bit of J-Pop here and there, thanks to me realising there's actually a ton of it on Spotify if you search in Japanese. There's some non-electronic in there for what it's worth but nothing incredibly out of theme. If you like what you hear remember to get the full playlist you'll have to go to Spotify as the embedded players only support up to 100 tracks!
Think artists like: Röyksopp, Ladytron and Boards Of Canada



Magenta now, which began as a kind of an electro throwback and contemporary bangers playlist, which has now morphed into having a little bit of everything that I get real excited about. Which is why now it's a mish mash of Trance, Eurobeat and Synthwave and even some Metal in the form of the Doom soundtrack. It's probably a little scatterbrained for casual listening but if you're in need of a quick injection of Audio Energy I would definitely recommend you check it out. I am well aware that of all the playlists this one is definitely the most self-indulgent for me and is sickly sweet in parts, so I would absolutely understand if you make your own spin off that skips the Eurobeat cuts! If you like what you hear remember to get the full playlist you'll have to go to Spotify as the embeded players only support up to 100 tracks!
Think artists like: Perturbator, Carpenter Brut, MSTRKRFT and Vitalic



They've changed slightly over the past two years, I'm not trying as hard to limit myself to 2-4 tunes per artist anymore, but still trying to keep things pretty varied. Not sure if I'll be posting the updated other two playlists yet, Yellow and Key, but as of writing they are both over the 100 mark if you would like to check them out. Yellow is home of all things strictly downtempo, with a strong hip hop/trip hop lean to it and some slightly funkier numbers in there for good measure. A warmer feel than Cyan, far from the dancefloor thematics of Magenta. Key is where all the darker parts of my music collection lie, and as such is not as strictly electronic as the other three, and now scrolling over the tracklist I think it may be even more scattered in terms of variety than Magenta, there's a solitary Sinatra tune alongside the expected Burial and Portishead for example.

Regardless, I hope there's somethings in these two (or four, if you click the other links) that you like! In the original spirit of the blog I encourage people to build off these playlists and share them with as many folk as I can, a co-worker of mine practically stole all of Yellow for his own downtempo playlist! As always, stay safe and enjoy the music all.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Ilictromix: Beauty Product (2020 Post)

NOTE: Hi there! This is an archive/re-post of an old series of Mixes that Adam used to get artists to make for us. This post is originally by Adam and is from January 2015. I am going to try and archive all these posts he did in future. I still have all the MP3s so it's just a case of re-doing the HTML and putting them on Mixcloud!

Enjoy,
-CVF


My inbox gets an obscene amount of promos, most are terrible EDM remixes, some are death metal, but once in while I stumble upon something truly remarkable. After hearing the single from Beauty Product and reading their promo I knew that they were on to something unique.




This is how Beauty Product describes the music:

              "Luxury adult contemporary dancefloor heat for rich people who can't be bothered to move very fast. Sometimes too much still isn't enough." 

And the Genre?

"slowhouse, cheesefunk bangers"






The music and art coming from this German project is almost tongue in cheek but catchy enough to keep your attention and wanting more *Think Vaporwave* Its music that drips with style and oozes with total confidence. Its hard to wipe the smile off of my face when I first heard this mix and I know that you all will love it too!



TRACKLIST
Beauty Product - Vulgar Discourse
Space Dimension Controller - BBD Alignment
Kassem Mosse - 578
Juju and Jordash - Schmofield
Beauty Product - We Are The Potraviny
Luke Abbott - Whitebox
Funky Family - Funky Is On (Leo Mas and Fabrice Instrumental Dub)
Lindstrom - Vōs-sākō-rv (Todd Terje Extended Mix)
Joe - Claptrap
Beauty Product - Obscenity With Badminton
Reinhard Voigt - Robson Ponte
Sabla - Spirits (Ital Rework)
Ramadanman - Don't Change For Me
Air Max '97 - Shape Cut
Andy Stott - Up The Box
Beauty Product - Wild Parvenu
Delroy Edwards - Always 
Falty DL - Do Me
Demdike Stare - Eulogy


After hearing a mix like that I had to know more about what exactly is going on with this scene, so I talked with Beauty Product about how this project came to fruition:


So other than the description in your first email how would you describe your style? 

The sound itself is pretty influenced by 80s - early 90s dance music (Italo, boogie, early house) - warm, fuzzy, reverby tracks that can be upbeat party music and kind of sad at the same time. The other influence on the Wild Parvenu track would be AM radio adult-contemporary pop from that same era, which is generally terrible music but also kind of strange and fascinating - stuff along the lines of Captain and Tenille. So from that comes some of the vocals and synth solos as well as the mood - a 1980s over-the-top luxury vibe that's both funky and kind of tacky. A bit like the Scarface soundtrack. All that said, when making music I really love experimenting with new sounds and ideas so the result of that is a pretty wide variety to the overall styles.

So the imprint you are on Strategic Tape Reserve, could you tell me more about it or how many artists are on the roster? 

Yes, Strategic Tape Reserve is a weird, small, very DIY label that sometimes poses as a government organization. It's released music by 2-3 other artist. So far, most of the releases have been more experimental than Wild Parvenu, but coming up is a techno release as well as something which is pretty ambient. And another Beauty Product single before too long.

What was your early production work like and how did you end up with the sound you have now?

My earliest productions were cassette 4-track hiphop instrumentals when I was 15 or so. Very hissy jams. I've been producing dance music in a variety of styles (techno, glitchy electro, etc) for about 6 or 7 years, but the Beauty Product sound is a pretty recent development.I love melodic electronic music, but I don't really care for shiny, highly-produced EDM. So this style lets me make dance tracks with poppy, developing melodies without devolving into epic trance major chords, which is satisfying. I like music that has isn't "perfectly" produced and is kind of rough-around-the-edges (like a lot of early electronic dance music). Studio funk! Also, over the last few years I've been putting together a small analog modular synth and I think the old-school hardware has had an effect on the direction of the music. 

For those who love the Wild Parvenu project what should we listen to next? 

There will be more Beauty Product music released this year!

Are the people in your local scene receptive to what you are doing? 

I've gotten a really good response from people about this cassette. When I play out live sets, I tend to go for more of a up-tempo, techno sound than the more relaxed Wild Parvenu stuff. I'm working on bringing it all together. In Germany people are definitely enthusiastic about electronic music and also open to new sounds. So this is good.

The imagery with your music is so closely tied together, which came first, and what was the inspiration? 

I put together the packaging and I wanted it to have a kind of Don Helney soft-rock on the beach kind of thing. I think the soft-focus and cursive script goes well with the washed out, reverby, but kind of detailed and ornate sound. The cassette is packaged with a motivational poster, which is a bit of a joke, but I think kind of works with the release for some reason.

Find More of Beauty Product or Strategic Tape Reserve


Adam

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Retro Reviews: ADULT. - Resuscitation

Keeping things slightly electroclash as I cover another album from days gone by in my collection. There was a time not too long ago where I finally took proper deep dive into ADULT., I'd had a couple of their tracks in circulation but every time I'd tried to properly dip my toe in I remember not super digging what I'd found. Turns out I was just looking at the wrong end of their releases and the early work is supremely up my alley. Like so many artists and genres out there it can be difficult to know that though, and that's where I come in (As this post was what I had in mind when I started this series!).

Let's get into it then, allow me to introduce you to ADULT., a duo hailing from Detroit and consisting of Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus, today we'll be talking about their 2001 release; Resuscitation.



Resuscitation is an ideal starting point if you are new to ADULT. It's *technically* not an album, instead being a compilation of bits and pieces of their releases until then, with some alternate mixes put in here and there which makes sense given the title. The reason I think it's an ideal starter is that all the components that make ADULT.'s aesthetic are there, from the slightly surreal photography of band member Nicola Kuperus' that adorns almost all their releases, to the skeletal electro of the opening track Lost Love. While I do love Kuperus' photography I must say that I do think sometimes it doesn't fit the sound of their releases, but it does certainly give them a distinctive aesthetic that is incredibly evocative of Electroclash as a whole (as much as the band themselves dislike that term being applied to them), that slightly seedy high life vibe a la Kittenz & Thee Glitz from the same year.



It's not long before we hit a highlight though, Lost Love might've been a solid demonstration of the vibe ADULT. are going for, but for me Hand To Phone and all it's variants is one of the best things they've done. I'm no stranger to this one, it's been kicking around my library since the mid 00's and I have yet to tire of it. For me, this is potentially an even better example of what the band is all about; slightly rough electro all tied together with the slightly treated dry delivery of Nicola. This along with a few other of their productions around this time like the remix of Tuxedomoon's No Tears are the embodiment of that punky Electroclash sound that was around at the time. The only thing I think it's missing is some of Kuperus' more visceral lyrics, but there's plenty to get stuck into on this compilation yet.



A bit of a cop out here as I shamelessly copy/paste some thoughts I had on this one from a republished post not too long ago, but the truth is even if I'd re-typed this it'd just be the same opinion but with different wording, let's throw it over to past me now: The production on Side-Swiped does a fantastic job of complimenting the vocals and creating the dark and slightly unnerving atmosphere, the way the synth effortlessly slides in after the title drop around 1:40 is just fantastic and makes everything feel like it's plunged into slow motion for a second or two.
Back to original thoughts: it's this darker edge that immediately springs to mind for me when discussing ADULT., though I feel that it's not as pronounced on this compilation as others. I chalk it up to me picking up a whole bunch of ADULT. stuff at once when I was first beginning to listen, so all the releases are kind of amalgamated in my head.



There are a couple of instrumentals scattered here and there too, I've skipped over one so far in Mouth To Mouth, which is a lumbering wobbly number full of hoover style synths. Your Lies by contrast is from the same school of sound as Hand To Phone, which tracks as it's on the same EP, New-Phonies. I haven't given adequate praise to Adam Lee Miller's production outside of that brief mention above yet, ADULT. is a duo after all, and what better time to talk production than on an instrumental. Miller's work with ADULT. is remarkably versatile, jumping between bouncy electropop, downtempo electro and the more Punky sound almost effortlessly, and throughout it all does not compromise the overall aesthetic that makes the band. His production work is distinctive and works excellently either on its own, or twinned with Kuperus on the vocals.



A bit of an outlier in terms of sound, Skinlike lacks that darker edge that say Side Swiped had, and you could almost be forgiven for thinking it was an out of character Electropop piece from the duo if you weren't paying attention to Kuperus' decidedly anxious lyrics. This version is a slightly restructured version of the (Nix Mix) that appeared on the Nausea album, aside from the intro and some extra breakdowns there's not too much different, though this version is slightly longer. This revisiting restructuring is present on a few tracks on this compilation (hence the Resuscitation name). I think it's an interesting if slightly strange approach, these aren't really remixes so much as slightly tweaked versions of already existing ones, but as an artist myself I can sympathise with wanting to rework some older pieces and fix little imperfections you spot here and there. There's certainly no George Lucas-level 'remastering' going on here, and at least they are labelled as different mixes to avoid confusion.



I'm aware that despite my obvious love of the vocal side of this compilation, it may not be for everyone. Even if that's the case I would urge you to check out the full compilation, as I mentioned there are a couple of instrumentals and if the vocals aren't for you there is still a lot of brilliant electro to get stuck into. As for the compilation itself I think it's a great 'best of' style collection of the work of ADULT. up until that point, despite being made up of bits and pieces of various EPs and the like it has a real consistency which almost makes me treat it as an album rather than a compilation. That being said I do feel that the first half is stronger than the second, (though the trilogy of Side Swiped, Your Lies and Skinlike towards the end is amazing) but that may be my bias talking as that part of the compilation is made up of two of my favourites of theirs; the New Phonies EP and Nausea.

The compilation is relatively easy to get hold of if you'd like, ADULT. have quite the active online presence and in fact just put out another album this year. Likewise, the label that re-issued this compilation, Ghostly International, is also fairly active so the compilation is super easy to get your hands on: via Bandcamp, directly from Ghostly's site or your digital music vendor of choice. Though do be aware that the while the digital versions have some bonus tracks in the form of additional EP B-Sides, it does omit the instrumental track Private Conversations that was present on the original CD, you may have to do some digging if you want a 'complete' version.

That wraps us up for today, I've been keeping things fairly consistent for a while here but I may begin to slow down a little in the coming weeks, both because I'm finding it a little harder to write but also I think I could space these posts out a little better. Nothing should change beyond it being a little longer before a new post goes up! And as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Monday, 18 May 2020

We'll Do It Live (2020)

NOTE: Hi there! This is an older post that I've re-published and am re-posting as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. Note that the next post will be an original one! This post is originally from January 2016.

Enjoy,
-CVF


This week seems to be going an awful lot quicker than the last, to the point where I haven't even managed to get some tracks lined up on the side to post. Bear with me as I half wing it half shuffle it to find some tunes for this one.

Wassily Kandinsky - Dominant Curve (1936)

Let's start with what got me up this morning shall we? M|O|O|N's Hydrogen is permanently drilled into my skull thanks to Hotline Miami. I can't think of much to say about it in all honesty, it's been a part of my library for so long it's just another piece of the puzzle. Sometimes I think it could do with a little more variety but that doesn't stop it from being a cracking tune.



On the flipside, a tune I have wanted to animate to since I first heard it. I never will because I love it too much, I'd hate to ruin it even temporarily through overexposure like so many other songs I have done projects to. That and I think Pfadfinderei could do a much better job than I could anyway.



I've let Los Angeles back in for another round or two as well, and even then that's only because I get exhausted on my stock of FlyLo so I retire all of it in one go. I'd be lying if I said I didn't adore Los Angeles in all it's noisy glory, it's like an Analog Worms Attack for the 21st century.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Retro Reviews: Miss Kittin - I Com

Another idea I've been toying with for some time, what good is a massive back catalogue of music if you don't revisit it from time to time? (That and I've got the itch to do some reviews, and the last new post on the Boogiepop OST was essentially that.) So with that in mind we're kicking off a new series(?) in which I look back at albums that I've loved, lost, fallen out with and everything in between. And what better place to start than with Miss Kittin. Kittin is one of my favourite vocalists since I heard her on Felix Da Housecat's Kittenz & Thee Glitz in the early 00's. Which sets us up nicely for my opening line. After the art of course.



By the early 00's Kittin was a big name, she'd had a successful run with The Hacker and was featuring on tons of records but seemingly not making many herself. In fact it would take until 2004 for a Kittin solo album to eventually appear, and Kittin is very much aware of this even poking fun at her number of featuring credits on the CD itself with the line "... there should not be a 'Miss Kittin' section in record stores, but a 'Featuring Miss Kittin' one". Not that the time taken is indicative of a lack of creativity, in fact Kittin's output has been very consistent since then, but I imagine there's a great deal of pressure when making your debut record, especially when coming from such popularity, and the longer you wait the worse it would get.

The album opens incredibly strongly, with the punchy punky Kittin we've come to know out in full force, delivering both the lyrical content and style we've become accustomed to on full display (although a little more melodic that her delivery on say, Madame Hollywood and with some questionable rhymes), but we already knew that Kittin had that talent, what we're interested in now is the production side of things. That side doesn't disappoint either and it certainly lives up to its title, something I really love about I Com as an album is the breakdowns; Kittin has this amazing sense of timing and sound and effortlessly injects these moments of calm and euphoria throughout.



Likewise it's not long before the Electroclash side of Kittin makes an appearance; not as vulgar as her & The Hacker's Frank Sinatra maybe, but certainly more than a little raunchy. This is one of the singles from the album and I think it was a good choice, if you've checked out this album based on her previous work with the Hacker and friends you certainly will find yourself in good company. Not to repeat myself either but this one has an absolutely stellar breakdown as well, it's much more focused than the one on Distortion and has some absolutely beautiful keys going on. That is before it all gives way and the track kicks back in at full force with no build up or anything. The second half has this lovely contrast between these sparkly backing synths and the kicks and pulsing bass we've had throughout.



But here is where we get critical. Not critical in a negative sense but certainly an analysis. We're coming off one single and onto the next, and this is one of the parts of I Com that I think is a little odd and that is it's structure. We've just had 2 absolutely bombastic tracks back to back, track 3 however is a super sedate number that takes a solid 10 seconds plus to fade in. I have no complaints with the track itself, Kititn's flexibility really shines here and it begins to solidify the album's overall techy sound. Was it a good choice for a single? Yeah actually, Kittin's more downtempo stuff is often gorgeous to listen to and gives her more to her sound identity other than "Her that does all those features and makes Electroclash" but it does demonstrate the album's biggest downside and that is pacing and structure. I have nothing against these more mediative tracks, but it certainly could have been placed better on the album, as it stands right now it's right in between two really fast paced tracks and it just feels slightly out of place with no wind down. More on that in a second.



The next track immediately betrays me saying that the album was defining it's techy sound with a return to more of an punky acoustic instrumentation a la Professional Distortion on the very punnily titled Meet Sue Be She (It's about cars, get it?). But that leads into a track that I think could have nicely set up as an introduction to Happy Violentine. Here Kittin tries a more conventional and perhaps slightly poppy sound, showing potentially the most vocal variety so far on those choruses, definitely far from the monotone musings of tracks like Madame Hollywood where she made her name. Nowhere near as edgy as her electroclash contemporaries here but that's not really a detriment, the track is supposed to be something lighter, which is again why I think it could have been used to structure the album a little better.

,

On Allergic you can really feel Kittin's heart behind the production, it may be a little minimal at times for my taste but there's no doubt this is the kind of record she wanted to be making at the time and still holds up as one of the stronger pieces of the album. The breakdowns aren't quite as dreamy as the other tracks mentioned so far which means that while minimal, it keeps a fairly consistent structure. It's one of the more familiar sounding pieces too if you're here from her previous collaborations and featuring credits, it's the kind of thing you can imagine a solo project to sound like based on them, especially compared to the opening tracks.(Ed Note: This version on Spotify seems to be from a mix for some reason? No real effect other than it plays slightly faster than the album one and has a bit of Happy Violentine at the beginning)



Dub About Me rings in the last few tracks of the album, and it's another one of my favourites. It's an extended downbeat number that I think really shows off that side of the album very well, the way it builds to that peak at around 3 minutes in is pretty spectacular, and I adore the contrasting combination of the wobbly synths and Kittin's vocals. The other set of vocals always sounded a little out of place to me; they're from the original track that this is essentially a cover/remix of: Smash TV's What About Me. It's perhaps a little long at 7 minutes but I can't say I've ever felt like it was overstaying it's welcome, I can definitely see that 3 minute buildup turning some people away though.



It pains me to do so, but I am skipping over some tracks here, including the brilliant Soundtrack Of Now (again featuring an amazing euphoric breakdown!) but also some of the more... experimental I suppose is the right word, these end tracks feature stripped back electronics and in the case of I Com.com is a spoken word piece where Kittin whispers sweet nothings to you about technology. Again these tracks are good, I do actually really like the way I Com.com builds up to its crescendo for example but they are once again oddly placed. The album can't seem to make up it's mind whether it wants to be on the Dancefloor or be more for home listening, the two different contexts are equally important to her, as she mentions on the Miss Kittin & The Hacker track You And Us, as well as in spoken word form on her Radio Caroline compilation and I admire her for including them both regardless and for what it's worth Kittin's later albums do manage to structure this better.

As a first venture I Com is a fine album, and you can definitely feel Miss Kittin's personality bleed through in both the tracks themselves and her playfully illustrated and annotated liner notes. I suppose it all loops back around to her message on the CD itself; this isn't a 'Featuring Miss Kittin' record, it's a Miss Kittin record, and you can't go in with any preconceived ideas about what it's going to sound like based on her past collaborations alone. Her sound only got more refined from here as is to be expected, but even on this debut you can see the kind of vibe that she's carving for herself, and continues to do so to this day.

-CVF

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Little Blue (2020)

NOTE: Hi there! This is an older post that I've re-published and am re-posting as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. Note that the next post will be an original one! This post is originally from December 2015.

Enjoy,
-CVF




Miwa Ogasawara - Gang 1 (2014)

Leading off with the final non-remix track from Walking Wounded. Don't think it's as fresh sounding as the other ones I've posted from the LP, but I remain a sucker for their breed of melancholy Drum & Bass, and of course it's one of my few time capsules I like to take part in from time to time.



Another final track, this time from UNKLE's follow up to Psyence Fiction. Never, Never, Land also ends in a suitably downbeat trip hop fashion. Couldn't find a credit for the vocal on this one but methinks it may be Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack again, whoever it is nails the delivery, and the production goes hand in hand with it extremely well.



Working on a psuedo-retro project at the minute, and OPN seems only fitting. He's blowing up in popularity as of late and I still have to get around to checking out his latest, but in the meantime I have a couple dozen cassettes worth of his older works to see me through, here's one of my favourites I first heard on Rifts.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Acieeeeeeeeeeed

Pierre Alechinsky - Discovery of Acid (Act I) (1968)


Been taking this time to dip my toes further into some genres I've only a passing relationship with. As mentioned on the poscast moons ago, entering any new electronic genre is a bit of a minefield, there are so many sub-genres and jargon it can be hard to find your way. I've tried my best to do a quick rundown here of all things I like that are Acid. What kind of Acid? Well, all kinds really (apart from Jazz). Let's 'ave a look.

Kicking off with a bit from Ceephax Acid Crew. Yet another artist that kept cropping up in my recommends but sorely overlooked. Ceephax is Andy Jenkinson, brother of Thomas of Squarepusher fame, in fact some of the early Squarepusher stuff (Especially under his Chaos A.D. alias) is quite Acidic. Ceephax has stuck to those acid guns though, hence the name. I really dig his stuff, mainly because there's interesting things happening beyond squealing 303s, not that I don't like that mind you but it's definitely refreshing to hear this kind of approach. Ceephax also gets full on DMX Krew style irony when it comes to the visual side of things, really going for that Ceefax aesthetic that he takes his name from. Get a load of the video for this one for example



That of course isn't where I got my start with Acid however, we're going back to the acid heyday of 1988 here for one of, if not the first, acid tunes I had in my collection. Hailing from 'round my neck of the woods is Gerald Simpson, better known by his stage name the beautifully understated A Guy Called Gerald. A far cry from synths that sound like they're about to explode that comes to my mind when I think of Acid, Voodoo Ray is in contrast a rather sedate piece. But all the hallmarks are still there, and the house influence is much more clear. This is a time where a lot of releases blur the line between House, Acid, Garage, Techno and so on (Strings Of Life springs to mind). Totally understandable as genres evolve and get more popular, but as mentioned above Voodoo Ray is unmistakably Acid, albeit in its early form! You can totally hear the similarities and influence on the Ceephax track and there's a good 24 years between them.



And finally rounding things out, a new one I picked up along the way. Heard this one on some random Acid mix I ended up on and I was a little disappointed when I looked it up. Not because the tune's bad or anything but it was played faster in the mix, and honestly I think it sounds better a little quicker. I found that was the case for most of the tracks in that mix actually, but still good to have to hand. Perhaps a little generic in parts but that's not necessarily a bad thing (see my post on Eurobeat for proof!). And as I've said in previous posts, music is a lot like food, sure you will appreciate a really well done dish but sometimes you just want a bit of greasy comfort food. And to me, that's tunes like this.



And so ends our brief foray into the acid world. I hope I showed enough variety here, it does feel a little shorter than other posts. Regardless, keep reading as there will still be content to come, reminder that next post will be an old one republished and then back to a new one after that. As always; stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Sunday Service (2020)

NOTE: Hi there! This is an older post that I've re-published and am re-posting as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. Note that the next post will be an original one! This post is originally from February 2016.

Enjoy,
-CVF


Apologies for the slight delay with this 'un, some things happened and I got carried away. Today's sesh is gonna be back to the chill side of things because that's what I'm feelin' ATM because of things that happened, more after some art fer yer eyes.

Edward Hopper - Early Sunday Morning (1930)


Been diggin' Thievery Corp's Saudade LP once again; the albums a bit of a departure from their usual trip hop modus operandi, instead opting for a return to a Bossa Nova style sound. The whole album is very relaxed, with perhaps some hints of sadness given the LPs title. This one comes with the added bonus of feeling extra cultured with the french lyrics.



Had a little chat with Evan a while back where we discussed our favourite Gorillaz songs, and as it turns out we both have a penchant for the more downbeat side of the project. I got around to getting the bonus tracks for main Gorillaz man Damon Albarn's solo effort Everyday Robots the other day and was quite surprised to be treated to another of Albarn's downtempo experiments.



And finally some Boards Of Canada. It took me a while to get me hands on this one back when, the Hi Scores EP I picked up came just a card sleeve with some Braille on. Everything You Do Is A Balloon takes a little while to get going for me, but once it does it earns a spot in the top of BoC's works.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Friday, 8 May 2020

Portraits In The Darkness

This time we're going to focus on yet another soundtrack that means a lot to me, the story is pretty much the same as last time! Something I've been holding onto for a while that I'd been meaning to mention and that I was pleasantly surprised to find on streaming!

Enter Boogiepop Phantom, a series that I'd looked at for a long time but not really taken a deep dive into. When I eventually did though it really resonated with me, at least thematically: centring around things like memory, change and escapism and how those things define who we are. Which is pretty much what informs my own art and occasional musings like this one so it was quite an experience. Heads up to those who check out the show based off this post, be aware I am talking about the 2000 version of the show and that it is based of a series of light novels that the series expects you to have knowledge of. You can watch it without, but do expect a couple of "what" moments and maybe a re-watch before it makes total sense. You can always read a breakdown on the net I s'pose too. Also be aware that there is some content in there that you may want to avoid, I'll detail in the final paragraph after the music Anyway enough of that, onto the songs!



The soundtrack is incredibly up my alley to boot (and in fact is what initially turned me onto the series). As you all may know I am a big supporter of electronic music in soundtracks, obvious bias aside because I think they are just so much more interesting than your standard cinematic strings or whatever. Boogiepop Phantom has that in spades, the soundtrack goes through a variety pack of genres and even features some very well established names for the time! Case in point with track 1 by Flare, an alias of Japanese techno veteran Ken Ishii, who delivers some gorgeous semi-ambient techno.



Track two is one of my favourites, I will be forever haunted by that intro and I wouldn't have it any other way. If there were a perfect audio accompaniment to the absolute bleakness of parts of the series, this is it. In stark contrast to all those other turn of the millennium tracks I talk about that have this sense of optimism, SiLC seems to have taken more than a page from the world of Trip Hop and the end result is super gloomy. It does sound a little dated now, which is to be expected coming up on 20 years old now, but I keep finding myself coming back to this one.



Skipping over the first instalment of Drum & Bass on the soundtrack to bring you another piece from a very established name of the time; Susumu Yokota. Both this and the opening track are interesting to me because they do not appear elsewhere other than this OST, whether that was a contractual thing or something else I can't say. Anyway, with Yokota's contribution that melancholic atmosphere of the previous tracks takes a backseat, instead being replace with a slightly funky house number as one might expect from Yokota's output (though his album released around this time Sakura was much more ambient, go figure). As I say whenever I talk about a soundtrack, I think what makes it particularly strong is that it can absolutely stand on its own separate from the media it's a soundtrack to.



Skipping over another of my favourites (A Furrow Dub by Sugar Plant for those interested, it is like the title says a Dub tune) to take a trip into the Drum & Bass side of things. Again from an artist normally know for ambient & techno, instead Snow Coast comes out sounding a little more IDM in places with those techy sounds sprinkled throughout. It's biggest influence is definitely D&B and Jungle though, with thick basslines running throughout. One of the longer pieces on the album at 9 minutes, I feel it does suffer a little from a lack of variety but I do like the sounds on show here.



And finally playing us out, another big name in the world of Japanese Techno; Rei Harakami. Harakami's works are always lush and full of life, and are some of the productions I point to whenever I encounter that classic 'Electronic Music has no emotion' argument. Pone is no different, incredibly delicate and beautifully constructed, and arguably the most 'soundtrack' style piece so far to the point where you can already picture the accompanying visuals in your head. The way it builds is so smooth, I've sat and just listened to it through around twice before even writing this out. Harakami's work is a beautiful reminder that once in a while you just have to slow down and appreciate the moment. And much like the themes of the series; the tune just comes to an end, not super abruptly but in a way that deliberately leaves you hanging.



Again just a note for anyone checking out the series; be prepared for a little confusion as mentioned in the opening. But also be aware that the series contains content that you may find troubling and wish to avoid; the series contains depictions of self harm, mental illness, body horror and parental abuse towards the end. Not to end on such a downer note but I feel that it is important I at least be up front about it. Regardless, I hope that you've found some things you like on this soundtrack, definitely check out the whole thing on Spotify, youtube or wherever you stream music if you like what you've heard.

And as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Midweek Downtemp (2020)

NOTE: Hi there! This is an older post that I've re-published and am re-posting as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. Note that the next post will be an original one! This post is originally from January 2016.

Enjoy,
-CVF


It's Wednesday again. Last night was an absolute farce thanks to a combination of poor web design and faffing around with general information forms. So I'm afraid the more upbeat synthwave wave of posts may be over for a while. Sorry in advance, but for now lets take a walk on the slower side of things.

Roy Lichtenstein - Crying Girl (1964)

It's no surprise to any of y'all now that I do like me some Oneohtrix Point Never. But I'm gonna give you all a break from the usual synthy arpeggio picks and instead show off this massive collab again. The rest of the Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo And Lopatin EP is pretty artsy and airy, after all it was recorded as one big jam session if I remember right. Still, I can always count on this one to be a good time, it's far and away the most conventional one on there but it keeps all the gorgeous elements present in the others.



I have a troubled relationship with Birds, most of the time that intro bothers me and I end up skipping it, The rare occasions where I let it play out are worth it though. I don't know if I've ever praised Apparat for his vocal contributions on his own stuff but he deserves it, does a great job of matching the atmosphere.



Been paying The Understanding a few more visits as of late. The bonus tracks included on the deluxe edition are a little hit and miss in parts, but the hits are especially good and provide an instrumental edge that was a little lacking on the main album.



-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday, 4 May 2020

Above and Before

It's been a long time since I've put one of these together, here's a cross section of things I've been listening to recently loosely tied together sound wise, a sort of sequel to the old Shuffle posts I used to make. Some are new, some are old but either way I hope you find something to pique your interest. Let's go.

Ivan Aivazovsky - Clouds above a sea calm (1899)


Starting with something new; finally got around to picking up the expanded edition of Everything But The Girl's Walking Wounded, which comes with a whole host of demos, remixes and live recordings. As 'deluxe editions' go it's a solid package, the album alone is great never mind with all the extras.

Of that second disc there are some real highlights, the live recordings are lush for starters but what we're here to talk about today is this demo that I've been unable to get out of my head. Presumably a demo version of what would become opening track 'Before Today' based on the lyrical content, it's practically a completely different song minus the shared lyrics. Tracey Thron's vocals are incredible as always but something I've really come to like on recent listens is the slightly lo-fi edge to this one: Walking Wounded as an album is crisp, clean and high tech, so hearing these rough around the edges breaks here makes for a very different listening experience and compliments Thorn's vocal delivery incredibly well. It maintains that melancholy feel that makes up parts of the album with an added layer of intensity.



Something about this one just hits me in the gut with a massive nostalgia wave. Which is odd because I didn't pick this one up with most of the stuff that hits me with that same wave (Though they are similarly related, bands like Röyksopp for example). Anyway, to actually introduce the track; it's not my favourite piece from Erlend Øye's debut, and depending on the day I can feel like it's really long in the tooth at 7 minutes, but recently it's been a mainstay. Øye's vocals remain his strong suit, and he gives the slightly nonsensical lyrics a real palpable feeling, and it's a shame they disappear for the latter half of the song. The sound of the album is fairly simple but works oh so well, I could sit and listen to that stripped, lo-fi DIY electronic in combination with Øye's voice all day.

The reason for that DIY sound is explained by the process behind the album which is a neat story too. its just Øye travelling around Europe and collaborating with various producers along the way. The end result is a lovely listen and still sounds surprisingly contemporary for something released in 2003. I'd love for another album in this vein, or with this type of sound.



Swinging to Röyksopp after that brief mention above, an older tune of theirs that is more readily available thanks to their 'Lost Tapes' series, a bunch of rarities and B-sides occasionally dropped onto Spotify. I've got a lot of them already from my collecting days, but it's nice to have them in an accessible location finally, as you all know I'm a bit mad when it comes to archiving stuff. Anyway, here's their cover of Depeche Mode's Ice Machine featuring Susanne Sundfør. It was originally made for their entry into the 'Late Night Tales series of compilations, tradition is every artist who does one includes a cover on it. It's pre-The Inevitable End, but there is definitely more than a few signposts of the direction they'd be taking on that album here, even down to Sundfør's guest appearance.



Rounding things off with something old, I mentioned a few posts ago that I remember writing the review for Shobaleader One: d'Demonstrator when it came out. That's coming up on 10 years ago now and to this day I adore the opening track Plug Me In, it i style distilled essence of the sound Squarepusher was going for on this album; a sort of electro meets spacey jazz. I personally still like the album, even if it is a little short. I can see it disappointing some folk expecting more Drill & Bass, but that's part of the reason Squarpusher made this album with the idea of Shobaleader One being a separate band, shame that wouldn't become clear until they made the follow up in 2017.



And that wraps us up for another post, next one will be an old re-post but I hope to maintain a one-old-one-new pattern going forward. I appreciate your readership during this time and I hope my music musings have given you something to pass the time with, as always stay safe and enjoy the music.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Friday, 1 May 2020

Ever Expanding

Michael Sowa - Their Master's Voice


Over the past year or so, I think I might have come into more music than ever before. Which is surprising to me as there was a time in my teens when I was picking up 4+ albums a week, I've tried to get a little bit more selective over the years but the collection is always growing in one way or another. So let's have a look at some recent additions that I've been liking, starting with Console. I found this one off the heels of DMX Krew and there are definite similarities between this one and Ed from DMX's quirky, playful and ironic brand of electronic. It's a lovely time capsule back to a certain era of sound too, that time at the turn of the millennium where it looked like new wave and synthpop were going to come back (and they kinda did in Electroclash!). Surprising no one however, the main appeal here for me is that computerized vocal that you know I adore.



Part of this recent expansion has been me either looking up artists I made note of ages ago then promptly forgot about or artist's who I've heard on compilations or whatever and never bothered to check out. Now I have time to dedicate to that kind of thing it's been a really nice experience actually! Enter Akufen, an artist who I probably kept dodging due to their history of Glitch, which I wasn't a huge fan of based on what I'd heard. But that's when I learned that Akufen didn't just do Glitch, but had a fair few releases under the 'Microhouse' label which I thought I'd heard about in the past but I wasn't sure. To cut a long story short, Microhouse is essentially Deep House meets Glitch, I am particularly fond of this track Skidoos, which I think strikes a great balance when blending those two genres. Those little vocal cuts dancing around in my headphones are super nice.



Moving onto another artist in that "Need to check out but forgot" category, I finally got around to checking out Rei Harakami in depth. We had a post on his work a long time ago here, and he was always showing up in my recommended artists but I never took the time to deep dive, now that I've found his works easily accessible via Bandcamp and with Harakami appearing on a few soundtracks in my collection I figured I may as well. His brand of downtempo techy sounds are lush as ever, the intro on this one is a little harsh but stick with it and you enter a world of gorgeous downtempo. Like the non-soundtrack work of Mitsuto Suzuki in that respect actually, even down to the same use of panning sounds that I really like at the minute, definitely pull out your headphones for this one.



And finally, keeping things in Japan with another recent addition and quite possibly the most stereotypical Japanese name in my artist collection: Technoboys Pulcraft Green-Fund. The name comes with an equally weird origin story; they were called TECHNOBOYS on their initial formation in 1994, but were renamed in 2005 after merging with the group Pul-craft. Checked them out based on a couple of remix contributions I'd heard (and some slick looking album art which helps!) and it very much is up my alley with lush sounds abound. Interestingly though, like Akufen above, bands like this are slowly introducing more of a glitch sound to my library that was missing before (which would be a surprise if you've even seen my Artwork or Video pieces!), part of which is due to the Glitch I had heard being quite abrasive, this and Skidoos above are quite nice and almost melodic. I am enjoying this new dimension of sounds I have going on right now, and I'm hoping that you find a thing or two here that you like too!



Apologies for the slew of reposts recently, I am trying now to balance them with new & original posts (like the one you're reading now!). Like many of you I have a ton of free time so I got a little too invested in restoring the blog back to how it was, when I should have been trying to write more as well. There are still some more old reposts to come but I will do my best to mix it up a bit. As always, stay safe and enjoy the music!

-Claude Van Foxbat