Friday, 24 September 2021

Bite-sized Bits 09

Mary Pratt - Smears of Jam, Lights of Jelly (2007)


Another reminder for myself because if I've learned anything over the past year and a bit of Bandcamp Fridays is that wishlisting something to get 'soon' is quite often a lie. Still, here we have a recent addition to that ever growing list, the solo project(s) of Ken Tanaka of Hyakkei. Hyakkei were already on my wishlist of stuff to get as I felt like dipping my toes back into the post-rock world again, and another one I was kind of surpised to find on Bandcamp actually.

Discogs is a little misleading if you go to Ken's page - it doesn't list any of his four solo albums that you can find alongside Hyakkei's works. I checked them out expecting more good post-rock stuff, just solo, and I was half-right. Stealing a line from slightly stilted press piece on the official YT upload of this single - "... a sound approach such as post-rock and electronica, what comes to mind is a nostalgic and warm Japanese Landscapes." which is pretty dead on actually.

A mixture of acoustic and electronic a la some of The Flashbulb's stuff, it's a very pleasant listen. Really the closest comparison I could make would be the similar vibe that The Knife were rocking on their debut and on some of their soundtrack work; think tracks like 'Vegetarian Restaurant' but with a little more electronics going on. As you might have guessed from the title this one is very indulgent piece, loaded with anthemic guitar licks, it just absolutley screams 'indie'. Perhaps a touch generic, but I like it enough. To use the analogy I've mentioned before: sometimes you just need a bit of comfort food, and this is the audio equivalent of that for me.



-CVF

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Bite-sized Bits 08

Jacek Yerka - The Moonlight Bed (2002)


A return to a cult classic this time, with another bit from James Stinson's one-off side project The Other People Place. I've already done a big post on this album in the past, which is why I can't believe I hadn't put this one up before. It's a fairly short album too - clocking in at just 8 tracks and just a little over 51 minutes long but for each and every one Stinson absolutely nails the slick melancholy-tinged atmosphere that defines the album.

Let Me Be Me is still my favourite of the bunch, but I love the whole thing - Moonlight Rendezvous came on this morning and reminded me of that - something about it just hit the spot today, think I might be in the mood for this kind of high-tech stuff (no change there then!). You can be forgiven for thinking that it's a little plain and monotonous (though arguably that is part of the album's intention), Moonlight Rendezvous really comes into it's own if you can spare the time to listen on some proper headphones, it really lets all the little delicate touches shine and fully immerses you in that bass line.



The full LP comes highly recommended from me if you like what you hear. Its a shame that we never got more of this project as Stinson sadly died not long after its release - little bits and pieces have come out since though, Laptop Cafe by a one 'Jack Peoples' is the remnants of a follow up mini-album salvaged from DAT tapes. It took me a long time to even find it as they puzzlingly used a new alias rather than The Other People Place name and I haven't actually listened to it in detail yet - but I'm thankful for there to be more, even if it is unfinished demos.

-CVF

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Bite-sized Bits 07

Bernd Luz - Dakar 86 (2015)


Proper flashback for this entry. I still have a lot of love for that golden eras of Electro House of the late 2000s, one that is definitely tinged by nostalgia - after all, that's the time I started seriously writing on here. But for all the love I have for it, there are for sure a couple of tracks I used to be mad about that have lost a bit of their lustre over the years since.

I mention all that to lead into this, I had a Kavinsky tune come on the other day and man, is it as good as ever. OutRun might have been a mixed bag of an album, but I can't argue that the singles from it were all proper belters. It's odd that he just dropped off the map afterwards and hasn't really done anything since, especially considering the massive explosion in Synthwave stuff around that time, Kavinsky was a real trailblazer in that area after all. For my money though, the earlier Kavinsky EPs are still fantastic to this day - at the risk of sounding like a teenager again the SebastiAn remix of Testarossa Autodrive is a straight banger (as is the original, which would even go on to make an appearance on OutRun as well).

Kavinsky's first EP from 2006 Teddy Boy is home to both of them, along with some other oddities like an Arpanet remix of Nightdrive and a chopped up Mr. Oizo remix of Autodrive, but then again this was just before the massive electro house explosion of '07 so a little weirdness is to be expected. I've gone with the original Nightdrive this time - partly because I love an underdog and feel like it gets overlooked but also because it's a damn fine demonstration of how locked in to his style he was from the get-go. Coming back to it, its still a great debut and worth checking out - especially if this is your first hearing of Kavinsky due to his release drought.



-CVF

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Bite-sized Bits 06

Vija Celmins - Mount Holyoke (1987)


A tale as old as time on here - this time we're talking a tune that I found on a compilation. I originally found this one on the We Are The Works In Progress compilation, put together in for Japan Society and Architecture For Humanity after the 2011 Tsunami. It's a slightly eclectic collection featuring some favourites of mine, notable a rare Broadcast offering and a proper unicorn of a solo piece from Karin Dreijer Andersson not in their Fever Ray guise.

My pick of today isn't any of those though (and not just because I couldn't find BC or other legit players for them!), I've gone with one of the tracks that sort of took me by surprise. Nosaj Thing had always been in my periphary, the kind of thing that gets recommended to you all the time when you dip into that side of the hip hop world - think your Flying Lotuses and your Prefuse 73s, but as is the case with so many folks in that category, it was always on the perpetual backburner of stuff to check out. This comp changed that though.

Nightcrawler is not quite as sinister as the name would suggest. The opposite in fact - it's an absolutley gorgoeus piece, and one that's pretty far from the Hip Hop vibes that made Nosaj appear in my recommendeds anyway. I looked up the EP it was originally from on Discogs just becuase I was struggling to pin it down, it's listed as IDM on there which I can kind of see, but as usual with an umbrella term like that I don't think it does a great job of describing it, this one especailly as it errs more on the ambient side. But it is just fantastic through and through, I could live in these sounds forever - that buttery smooth backing is the kind that scratches that very specific itch of mine - and the extra garnishes make it extra sweet as as well. Thankfully it's available on Nosaj's label's bandcamp page, so you don't have to track down either the compilation or the super limited original EP that it originally appeared on - proper value at just 1 dollar to boot.



I do like it when artists do stuff like this, I'm not as heavy into collection as I used to be but it does always irk me when there's these super limited releases - so I welcome any time releases become more accessible like this. I've still got a couple of releases from Nosaj in the queue to check out, one of which is more in this ambient vein as well so there might be more to come in the future. Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Monday, 20 September 2021

Bite-sized Bits 05

Kent Bellows - Kitchen Counter II (Dirty Dishes II) (1984)


If there's one genre that's under represented in my Bandcamp wish list, it's Trip Hop. There's plenty of full on indie hip hop of all varieties sure, but nothing in that specific niche. Chalk it up to the genre not being as popular as it was in the 90's as well I suppose - most of the classic releases are beholden to big labels like Virgin or similar too, so fat chance of them popping up on Bandcamp.

Still, there are bits and pieces on there, admittedly we're stretching the label a bit here as this album is after Fila Brazillia started moving away from that sound and into more general downtempo territory, albeit with often a pretty jazzy edge. I came across A Touch Of Cloth when I was big in my coffee shop style downtempo phase and it pretty much instantly found a home. Airlock Homes marks the start of my favourite bit of the album, the next 4 tracks are all great, and having them be back to back like that is a treat too. I always come back to Airlock Homes though, it's got a sleek jazzy feel to it and I can't help but smile at that bassline. I do have a copy of it physical but I should maybe scoop another one from the BC in case my scuffed up second hand one packs in.



So begins the first proper week of Bite-sized posts, the great irony of doing these has been that I've been finding it much harder to find art pieces to go with them - I'm not being exposed to as much of it as I was in my Uni days last time I did a series like this. The tunes I can write about all day though, so worst case scenario I'll cook up a few and then come back to them and put some images or whatever in there. Until next time - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Friday, 17 September 2021

Bite-sized Bits 04

Janet Fish - Preserved Peaches (1975)


A little history this time - Freezepop are a band I've know about for a looooooong time. Another one of those bands I picked up back in the days of limewire when I was searching for stuff to scratch my electropop / electroclash itch around the time (though to be fair, that never really went away!). You might have heard of some of their early work: tracks like Bike Thief, Science Genius Girl or Less Talk More Rokk. Their early work is a little twee to my ears these days, but charmingly so - it's a little quirky in its execution like so many of us were back in our awkward teen years, fittingly that's what they were soundtracking for me.

They then fell off my radar for a long long while, when I checked back in with them I went straight for their then-new album Imaginary Friends, which is a pretty marked development in sound. They still make synthpop, but tracks like We Don't Have Normal Lives feel much more... I suppose refined is the word when compared with their early works. Gone is the sugar fuelled hyperactive feel, the kind that gave rise to their twist of Duran Duran with tracks like Boys On Film. Instead We Don't Have Normal Lives plays out more like the general synthpop of the 2010s era. That's not to say it's generic or anything, but it's certainly closer to that than anything else.

Potentially a disappointment if you were after more of their cheeky and playful electronic of old, but I really like it. Aside from having a soft spot for this kind of sound anyway, I love how it's essentially like looking back at old photos of yourself but in audio form - from the goofy shenanigans of the past to something a little more serious. I will always hold a torch for their tracks that sound like they are from an indie film like Here Comes A Special Boy though, I haven't had a chance to check out their return album released 10 years after this in 2020, but given how they've followed me through life so far maybe I should give it a spin sometime soon.



And that'll do for this unexpectedly wistful instalment of this series - and that also wraps up the first week! It's been pretty good so far, it's much easier to knock out a couple of paragraphs on a random piece from my library than the more long-form posts. I'm still planning to mix it up a bit with a couple of them sprinkled in if I get time, but I'm pretty happy with the process so far. And finally, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music!

-CVF

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Bite-sized Bits 03

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


A bit from Ceephax Acid Crew this time - an artist I didn't check out for a long time just because we never really crossed paths. Always a little undersold as 'Squarepusher's brother', Andy Jenkinson's work is very different to his siblings and stands alone. As the name would suggest, Ceephax dwells mainly within the world of Acid - as mentioned last time I brought up acid it's a genre I'm not super familiar with, I like it at a base level but I ended up bouncing off a lot of it I came across in the wild, not the case here though.

Like DMX Krew, there's a certain playful irony to some of Ceephax's work - again hinted in the name, a play on Ceefax which informs a great deal of his art direction. Look no further than the video for the track I've picked, 'Mediterranean Acid' for proof of that, taking the form of a poorly chroma keyed holiday promotion video, complete with naff effects and Ceephax himself hamming it up with some synths. You can tell he had a ton of fun making it, and that too is reflected in the track itself - a bouncy, more melodic take on Acid than I was used to at the time, I quickly fell in love with it. Dig a little deeper into the Crew's catalogue if you like this one, he has plenty more like it.



I'm surprised I haven't brought this one up more often, this is at least the first time since swapping over to the bandcamp player. I went through a brief period where I wasn't able to stop looping that intro. To this day I think it might be one of my favourite 303 lines ever put down, the base thing is pretty good as is, but I just love how squelchy it gets at points. That'll wrap up today's entry, tune back in tomorrow for more at roundabout the same time - and as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Bite-sized Bits 02

Roy Lichtenstein - The Den (1990)


For volume 2 we're revisiting Mitch Murder, one of the few artists I still keep up with in the Synthwave scene, partly due to Bandcmap reminding me whenever he releases something new, which is fairly often actually. If all the artists operting in that sphere, I find Mitch's productions to be more honest than most - there's always going to be some just in it for the look, as is always the case with genres where the visuals are a strong component. It's easy to overdose on the sound as well, but I also think Mitch does a fantastic job of keeping things varied - take 'Frost' - a Vangelis-esque ambient piece from his latest album Then Again for example.

Today we're going back to his first ever EP, After Hours, or rather, the updated version of it. While I'm usually not a big fan of rereleasing albums with 'new' artwork or other changes that run the risk of George Lucas-ing the whole affair, I must admit it was probably the right choice here. Compared to the original art from 2009, the re-release of After Hours is not only more aesthetically cohesive (if a little cliché), but having the tracks avaialable in lossless or high quality MP3 is a bonus too, as the original release was only 192.

Sporting a funkier feel reminiscent of some DMX Krew cuts and some kickin' rad 808, one of the tracks I always come back to from this EP is Coup De Théâtre, one that has aged quite gracefully all things considered - though perhaps that is because it's from before 'Synthwave' as a whole got established, so it neatly skirts all those potential pitfalls that could make it stale: Discogs lists it as a combo of Synth-pop, Electro and Disco. There are a couple tracks that are in hindsight a little generic such as Square City but overall it's a pretty stellar debut and something I'd recommned even if Synthwave isn't your bag, it's more of a general love letter to retro electronic as a whole.



Unril tomorrow, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Bite-sized Bits 01

I have had an idea. Not a new one, it's something I've done before here actually back when I was stuggling to balance work and non-work. Back then I called it 'A Tune / An Art a day' - almost 10 years ago now. I ended up doing 101 of them and thankfully, most of that series survives - but some of the cuts were just too deep! This one is pretty much going to follow the same pattern - I write a little about one track rather than the 3 or 4 that normally make up a post.

Konstantin Korovin - Paris. Boulevard des Capucines (1906)


It's gonna be easier for me to make them consistent that way - and actually gives me a chance to weed through my Bandcamp wish list at a much faster pace and hopefully start pushing that growing number back the other way a bit. Think I might be able to squeeze some more variety out this way to boot. In short - should be a positive all around. My current plan is to try and get one for every weekday just so there isn't a deluge of spam (which ideally should have started on Monday I now realise), but I might scale it back to one every two days and keep the weekend in as well if it gets a little hectic regardless. But enough about the context, let's get to the content!

Starting with a recent addition thanks to the metric ton of electronic injected into my collection from the Touched Two compilation - Alexander Ananyev under his 'Dirty Owl' alias. He's not done a lot under the name but I liked the sound of his contribution to the Touched comp so went on to check out the eponymous Dirty Owl LP. Honestly, it was pretty much what I wanted - more of the sound that sold me in the first place - a little IDM in patches and with some decidedly brassy synths here and there. I'm underselling it as usual because those are my favourites, there is a fair bit of variety in there, but tracks like Bill Gilbert Was Here really make it for me. A little bit Flashbulb sounding overall, with maybe a hint of the more melodic stuff from the likes of Plaid and Global Goon - if you're at all into the more mellow bits of 'IDM' like myself, tracks like this are more than worth adding to your repertoire.



And that'll do it for today, tune in tomorrow for another electronic entrée of choice from me. Until then, as always - stay sfae and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Flash Back

Another quickie post, another one that has had to be all YT players - some because there is no official stream that I'd like and works for everyone, some because they're frankly a bit more obscure - they are all at least from legit sources though, so with any luck should survive, I'll be namedropping them anyway just in case some great filter wipes them out. Theme of today is basically me taking a little dip back to the 90's, roundabout smack dab in the middle as all tracks today are from '95-'96 Let's go.
Enrico Prampolini - Landscape (1918)

Starting off with more proper vintage Moby. Taking a rare trip to the pre-Play era this time with a bit from Everything Is Wrong - even before Play he was a pretty big name, to the point where you'll probably recognise some bits on here from the sound alone even if you don't know the name.

At one point I considered doing a Retro Review of it but I ended up shelving it, it's a very odd album in terms of sound - almost as if Moby can't decide which direction he wants to take: you have ambient tracks that flirt with what would become his signature style on Play like the opening track Hymn, rubbing shoulders with speedy garage rock tracks where Moby pretends to be a punk like All I Need Is To Be Loved. They're not absolutely awful or anything but it's a baffling choice to say the least. Nestled between those two is my choice for this time, the surprisingly hard Feeling So Real, which if all you know of Moby is Natural Blues might come as a bit of a surprise. These euphoric 'ardcore cuts are by far and away the highlights of the album for me, and I wish there'd have been more. All I could find on the official front is the incredibly 90's video for it, so apologies in advance for the shirtless Moby.



A little dip back into the world of trance next with Mystery Land from Y-Traxx. Mystery Land has a bunch of mixes of it (and even some modern ones on a re-release EP), but there are two always competing for the top spot for me: first we have the cult classic Sickboy's Courtyard Remix - which is admittedly overplayed (but at the same time rightfully so), it does fall into the classic Trance pitfall of essentially being one big buildup to a massive payoff, but everything about that second half is heavenly. The other is the Original Mix, it doesn't spend a massive amount of time getting to the meat of the tune unlike the other mix, but doesn't skimp on the lush euphoric bits neither. It's a little bit different from the usual brand of Trance I post - more subdued than the belting anthems of the later 90's, but listen close and you can still catch some familiar elements here and there. Proof positive you don't have to be a full on dancefloor chugger to be an amazing tune.



Jumping back to the very early days of DJ Hell's International Deejay Gigolos label - back when they still used pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger on their labels and comps, without permission naturally, there's a distinct punk DIY aesthetic to the label. Gigolos was home to tons of electro and techno of the era, I'm personally more familiar with their stint in the Electroclash world circa the early 00's - a genre that perfectly aligned with their visual branding and overall vibe.

But I'm here today to talk about Jeff Mills' EP Shifty Disco. It should come as no surprise that Gigolos saw many big names pop up on the label over the years: folks like Vitalic, DMX Krew, Kittin & The Hacker and even Zombie Nation circa the Kernkraft 400 blow up in '99 were all Gigolo records. But what is surprising is pulling a massive name out so early in the labels history - Shifty Disco is the second ever release on the label, and what an impression it makes. The Sun is my pick of the lot because it just doesn't waste any time, as soon as you drop the needle you are taken straight to what I think is a perfect intro to the EP, and a great demonstrator of what International Deejay Gigolos was all about (and still is to an extent, they do come out with things every now and then). It's very short, but I think it does all it needs to in that time, though I wouldn't say no to an extended cut of this one if I was still mixing like I used to do. Brilliant stuff.



And that'll be all for this slightly shorter post. I'm getting more used to the idea of using alternate embeds, recently had a spanner thrown in one of the long posts I'm working on as an artist featured has since wiped their Bandcamp, nothing that will delay it by much but still. That is still in the works by the way, I've just been trying to keep stuff coming out short-form in the meantime - it's just easier for me at the minute as IRL stuff starts happening again. I'll cut it short here but until next time - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Trip Report

I am back with a sit-rep on what I actually got around to getting on Bandcamp Friday. No massive changes in plans this time though, I did end up subbing out the Arpanet LP for some other stuff though, as well as getting the ADULT. EP thingy I talked about last time but didn't actually post about. Let's get stuck in.
M.C. Escher - Blocks of Basalt along the Sea (1919)

First major change was I decided to listen to a couple of other LNS releases just to feel them out, I ended up on her latest LNS-id first of all - the pun in the title is stretching it a bit, but as it suggests, this is much more Acid flavoured than the track from Recons One I used last time. I do like Acid, but I don't have a right lot of it in my archives, I feel like it's one of those genres that can suffer from being quite same-y in its execution (but admittedly, I haven't gone too deep into the genre so take that with two handfuls of salt). Most of my Acid comes from Squarepusher's brother's project Ceephax Acid Crew, his work tends to be quite creative in the boundaries of Acid and as you might have guessed from some of those album covers, often very much embracing the sillier side of things. I thought that maybe this one might be the same, what with the massive Acid smiley over LNS' frog logo on the cover and all.

So with that in mind, I wasn't really sure what exactly to expect going into this one - would it be some tongue-in-cheek Acid? A straight up tribute to the style that fully embraces all the clichés like Luke Vibert's Luke Vibert Presents UK Garave Vol. 1 maybe? Not quite as it turns out, the opening Blue Acid grabbed my attention straight away with its ambient techy vibes, the frantic 303 that you might expect for an Acid track is very subdued at first and it gives the whole thing this very different feel than I've ever encountered in the world of Acid before. LNS nails the production side of things here too, just when I find myself thinking that it needs a little something to spice it up, something that changed up the formula would drop right in. I can understand the 303 being repetitive to some, and there are some times where I feel it too - I'd have liked that ambience lurking in the background to have more time to shine like it does around the 4:10 mark - but overall I'm very into it, even if the EP has given me 200% of my recommended dose of 303 for the next few weeks.



Turning around in terms of sound with a bit from that ADULT. EP I brought up last time. One thing I love about about ADULT. is that they are doing a fantastic job of making most of their discography available on Bandcamp, including things that were super rare before. The extremely on brand titled Let's Feel Bad Together EP was previously a Beatport exclusive - but you could also get an 'Official Bootleg' CD of it from their website that they would sign with a little personal message for you too. It's from 2008, so just after the release of the nihilistic and intense punk of Why Bother? - though that LP would sometimes leave the electronics behind, Let's Feel... is very much in the vein of ADULT. releases of old.

It waxes and wanes though, tracks like Dance Avoid feel more like their Resuscitation-era sound and shares some DNA with the album immediately after this The Way Things Fall, whereas album closer Sideways feels much more like the fidgety anxiety of Why Bother>. There's not a dull moment on this EP, each of the four tracks are pretty relentless and don't let up until the timer runs out. They feel a little less fleshed out than the mainline album tracks or even some of their other EPs, but I don't want to make out like that's a negative - it makes everything here feel like the 'best of' of an extended jam session or even some live improv.

This is most easily spotted in Nicola's vocals, there aren't really verses to speak of here so much as her playing around with the titles of the songs, most obviously on Dance Avoid with lines like 'Dance avoid, dance avoid, dancing in a void', but again that just plays into what I mentioned above, and even if the content is much more simple than usual, her trademark delivery does an amazing job of matching that Punky atmosphere. I've picked both Today and Dance Avoid here because I think the two show off the two 'moods' of the EP really well (and because Avoid came on as I was typing and I fell in love with the intro all over again).





I also got around to getting the other two thirds of the Evoked Potentials series from E.R.P. (AKA Gerard Hanson or Convextion). They're super small and bite sized at two tracks each, I feel like the label could have compiled them into one, especially considering the original vinyl releases were limited to a couple hundred copies but hey ho. About the tracks themselves though - E.R.P. has fast become one of my favourites over the past year or so, the brand of hi-tech electro slash techno released under the name just really appeals to me in the same way all the early 90's Artificial Intelligence series from Warp does. I know that's a comparison I trot out all the time when talking about this kind of sound but it's more apt than usual this time, parts of the Evoked Potentials series sound a hell of a lot like the stuff B12 was (and continues to) make.

And you'll find yourself among good company if you're into this style of electro - Discogs recommends stuff like Drexciya, The Other People Place and early Underground Resistance - that's especially true here, of all the E.R.P. I've posted so far, Repose most certainly feels more in line with that kind of style. I just adore the spacey vibes on this one, it's very easy to get lost in - the stripped back ambient turn in the last quarter is just divine. It's not quite dethroned the Alsoran EP as my favourite release from him (But there is some bias there as it was the first thing I'd heard as well), but I will happily snap up more of this sound whenever I find it. My only complaint is a very nit-picky one: for some reason there's a good chunk of silence on the end of this one, it ends at around 6:40 for reference.



And that'll do it for this time. I'm a little late on this one because I took an easy day off yesterday because I was feeling a little sick, but that actually gave me time to listen and hash out some thoughts on these picks so it wasn't *too* bad I suppose. I'll be back soon enough with more but until then - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Coming Up

That time of the month where I look over my ever expanding list of things to get and attempt to make some choices for the rapidly approaching Bandcamp Friday. The most recent additions to the wish list have been a a bit all over the place, normally they follow a theme, but I've chucked a couple on as of late that are just there as reminders really, biggest example being the Warp stuff - it's cheaper direct from Bleep but I find Bandcamp easier to browse. But I digress, let's have a look at some potentials for this round.
Rosalyn Drexler - Men and Machines V (1966)

It's not been as tricky this time, I seem to have managed to catch some stuff way in advance so it means I'm not scrambling for options this time. Quite a techy edge to it this time, but I think it's come together semi-naturally from other things that just missed the cut last time. Starting with another alias of Gerald Donald with Arpanet - as both names suggest it's quite high tech electro stuff, albeit in that early 2000's way. It can get a little long in the tooth at times (but I feel that way about a lot of Donald's other work as well), but the moments where it shines are very bright indeed. Album opener The Analyst waxes philosophical about technology in text to speech tones - some still relevant, the extended parts about 'wireless information transfer' with lines like 'people can now transmit electronic mail (...) from their mobile cell phones' not so much. It's a great mood setter for sure, but the real highlight comes in track 2 - Illuminated Displays, an encapsulation of my favourite of Donald's styles, and the perfect soundtrack to the far off year of 2002.



In a similar kind of vein we have Versalife. Recommended to me because I've really liked the stuff that Convextion has put out under the E.R.P. alias - that kind of spacey techno slash electro type of deal (and bonus points for what is I assume a Deus Ex reference in the name). I initially wanted to start with his debut album but opted for an EP instead - easier to digest that way I thought. And I wasn't disappointed as Night Time Activities Pt. I starts incredibly strongly with Solenoids Of Insomnia, and it would have probably been the track I chose for this post but it has strong competition from the one I actually did pick in Tales Of The Unexpected (or Tales From the unexpected if you're going by what's actually on the vinyl sticker). If you're at all like me and are a big fan of the E.R.P. I've posted before, you'll find yourself in familiar territory here: I'm going to echo something I read about E.R.P's work here: it's all real atmospheric techy stuff - I keep feeling like this one reminds me a little of the more downtempo bits on Aphex Twin's Analord series, though not quite as acidic. I'm liking it a whole lot, it seems like my requests of posts past for more things in this style have been answered.



Another tale from my "Wishlist for later, sounds cool" trips is LNS' Recons One - volume 2 is slightly puzzlingly missing from her Bandcamp but there's plenty there to get stuck into as-is. Speaking of puzzling, her releases make ample use of the now-defunct Bullfrog Productions logo, which I'm very familiar with from my younger days, but enough of that, let's talk about the tunes. I wasn't sure how to feel about the title track at first, the beat was good but I wasn't sure where it was going to go, when that first stab at 0:14 took me by surprise in the best way. It builds upon that solid base as it goes on naturally, but I think those stabs may still be my favourite thing about this one. It's a lot less space-y than my previous two picks, much more bouncy and... well, kinda funky to an extent - it reminds me quite a bit of the instrumental DMX Krew cuts in places, but not as out and out funk as those from DMX. I'm a couple of years late on this one, but I'm looking forward to diving into the rest of LNS' releases and seeing what else she comes out with in the future.



And that'll do it for this time, there is an ADULT. EP I've got lined up as well, but it doesn't quite jive with the others posted above so I'll hang fire on that one for now. As is tradition I could end up picking up a bunch of completley unrelated stuff, only time will tell. It might be a day or so before I actually get around to posting the scoops from this time as I have a busy weekend coming up but I'll try and get it written up and scheduled for some point next week. Until then, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Going Italo

Another quick one this time that's been brewing for a while, going to have to be Youtube players just because we're going a little deep this time but I can deal with it every now and then. Today we're taking a trip back to a genre I've given plenty of shout-outs to over the years as it is the precursor to one of my favourites in Eurobeat - Today we're talking some Italo Disco.

Giorgio Moroder (minus trademark moustache) illustrating the vibe. Though Moroder made straight up Disco and not Italo!

But even if you're not into Eurobeat, Italo has a lot of relevance to electronic music on the whole, it along with plain old Disco were both partially responsible for House too. Don't be discouraged either if all you've heard of Eurobeat is the sugary sweet 160bpm side of it that I've brought up in the past, the truth is that it runs the full spectrum of tempos, and the early examples that people point to as the initial Eurobeat releases are incredibly similar to Italo as it was.

To start off, here's an early example from Vanessa, one of many aliases of a one Clara Moroni who would go on to co-found one of the big labels of Eurobeat in Delta and more than earn her reputation as the Queen of Eurobeat - she's featured her vocals on literally hundreds of tracks over the years. Moroni's voice is one of those cases where a vocalist and genre are just perfect for each other, her delivery and overall style perfectly suit both these more Disco style tracks, to the full fledged Eurobeat of tracks like Tell Me Baby (though admittedly some Eurobeat tracks are just Italo with the BPM increased, so that makes sense!). Back to the song in question though, Just A Game is from 1989 originally and has all the hallmarks of Italo Disco as well as parts of the contemporary dance music sphere of the late 80's to early 90's.



The use of really plain pseudonyms in Italo and Eurobeat has always been amusing to me, you have artists like Chiara De Pieri choosing things like 'Norma Sheffield' as their stage names, which would sound more at home in a bingo hall than on a Disco record. Which brings us to Katy Gray - who you'll find nothing about on the internet save for the picture that was included on the sole EP released under that name. And even then, that could not even be a picture of the actual vocalist, as Eurobeat and Italo have the slightly concerning practice of using different models for the visuals than the vocals. But I digress, out of the small pool of Italo I have in my collection, Hold Me Tight might be one of my all time favourites - it's a bit of a cult hit that you might recognise from elsewhere: it was given a Vaporwave treatment by Oneohtrix Point Never & Joel Ford on the first volume of their 'Heaven Can Wait' mixtapes, and the vocoded vocal and break at 2:40 among other elements were sampled by Teenage Bad Girl on 'Hold Me Tight' from their second album Backwash. The original track is great on it's own for me, but I really like showing off those samples of it as I think it makes the connection between Disco and other branches of Electronic music all that more clear.



That trend is going to continue with my final two picks, both from Gary Low. You might know of Low's work from the oft-sampled I Want You, most famously getting a chillwave rework from Washed Out on Feel It All Around, but also a more contemporary House update in the early 00's from Miss Kittin & The Hacker with The Beach. But I've told that story a bunch already, so I've gone ahead and picked out some other Gary Low tunes for this time - starting with Play The Game (I'll Do The Same). I'm going to echo what I said earlier and say that coming back to this one after consuming a ton of Eurobeat over the last year and a half or so makes the genealogy all that more clear. Likewise for a multitude of other genres as well, listen to the basslines on this one and compare them to the House of the late 80's and you can draw a line between the two. I find the whole thing quite charming, especially the warm vinyl crackle on the opening. I can't deny there is a bit of humour in it though, get a load of Gary's pensive steely eyed look (naturally making sure to flash the watch as well) on the cover of this one!



To round us out, the opening track from Low's debut album Go On in 1983. I feel like the House connections are even easier to spot on this one, especially on the opening. It does meander a bit with it's 7 minute runtime, especially as the verses disappear in favour of repeated bits of the chorus, I feel like even repeating the first two a couple more times would have done wonders to spice it up a bit. But I suppose that's just a casualty of hearing it out of its intended context, I'm sure it went down a treat on the dancefloors of 1983. Even so, the final quarter where the instrumentals get a moment to shine makes up for it a bit - the showcase of retro sounds is an absolute treat to listen to, and is actually the part that inspired me to finally sit down and write this post up in full. I definitely need more Italo in my collection, I've yet to come across any that I don't really care for - but it's one of those genres that is incredibly vast, I've got Ishkur's (of Electronic Music Guide fame) mixes lined up to listen to sometime soon which I'm hoping will give me some leads to follow up on and maybe do a sequel to this post as well.



I actually came up with the original idea for this post back in the days of the podcast, it was originally going to lead into that oft-promised Eurobeat episode of mine. I still might make a solo podcast of it sometime soon where I run through some Eurobeat in chronological order so you can see/hear the evolution - Claude's Eurobeat Essentials it was going to be called! Still, I'm more than happy for this quick history to be in text format instead, I just wish I had other streaming options to include. Regardless, I hope this little time travelling trip has been interesting for you and maybe you've even gained a little love of Italo Disco along the way. Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

In The Queue

Mel Bochner - Rules of Inference (1974)


Hey all, just another quick post with a rundown of things that are as the title says, in my queue. Starting with a fairly recent addition - the Celebrating Aphex Twin show on BBC Radio 6 (That link should let you listen, but you might have to be in the UK though and sign in/up, but you can see the tracklist in text on the page - and it'll only be available for 20 days as of this post as well!) from a few days ago was pretty great and managed to squeeze a decent amount of variety in there beyond just back-to-back AFX.

An early highlight is Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan with Gateway To The North. If the album art didn't already tip you off, this is more in the vein of Boards Of Canada than it is AFX - replacing the tinges of Americana that BoC with a full-on British version. I have to admit, based on the title of the album and everything else, it does come across as trying a little too hard at first - the tunes themselves are great though. When Gateway To The North gets going around the 30 second mark it's lovely - while it is evocative of BoC it doesn't completely rip them off, there are echoes of Oneohtrix Point Never's early work in there as well with the analogue arpeggio making up the main body, a little like the Tron Legacy soundtrack as well now I think about it. Annoyingly, it's one of those bandcamp releases that doesn't let you preview all of the tracks, but if the rest of it is anything like this I'm sure I'll love it.



Speaking of previews, I decided to check in with Ocoeur again after bringing him up not too long ago - today we're talking the upcoming LP from him called Connections. It's always interesting to see which tracks get chosen as previews for an album, they can change wildly in sound from one track to another and that goes double for the kind of electronic that N5MD usually works with. From the two preview tracks on offer: Opposite Sides and title Connections, the experience seems to be a lot more delicate than the earlier albums I have in my collection.

A marked movement away from the glitchy electronics of Light As A Feather, though still with a hint of that roughness of those previous releases as well (most prominently on the title track Connections). But that's not a complaint from me - Ocoeur's melodies remain as beautiful as ever on both the sample offerings here. I've gone with Opposite Sides as my pick as it very much feels like an intro track (though according to the page it's actually the second). At the risk of repeating myself from the previous paragraph, if the rest of the album is at all like the small glimpse we've been given so far, I will very much like it.



And finally returning to something a little more local with a bit more from Ceiling Demons. It's been a while since the last time but they've returned with a new full length slated for a little later this year. Perks of the job mean I've had the privilege of hearing the full thing, but the rest of you'll have to wait until the full thing comes out on the 22nd. Snakes & Ladders makes a strong impression from the get go with the folky All Let Go heading things up, reminiscent of an old drinking song, complete with violin accompaniment. It's not long before returning to more familiar Hip Hop ground on track 2, Let The Currents Carry You Home. With a slight Jazzy feel that reminds me of Weekend World-era E-Z Rollers (albeit with a slower tempo) and it's catchy shout along chorus continue that strong impression.

I'd say it's an emotionally charged record, but then again truth is that all the Demons' releases so far have been - for Snakes & Ladders this comes to a boil on Freedom Fighting Dystopia (which is also our first hearing of Lee "Scratch" Perry(!) on this record - more on that later), stripped back to a lone guitar and some frankly cathartic delivery, culminating in the two accelerating to destruction in the final quarter - the vocals do a fantastic job keeping pace with the rising tempo until it's just not possible anymore too.

I could go on, but I best save it for A) When it actually comes out and B) When you can actually hear what I'm talking about as well. Couple final points before I leave it: there's a great Eastern influence (ironically) on the instrumentation of Dust Of The North and my favourite is the gentle treatment on the main Lee "Scratch" Perry feature and closing track Reprise Of Light. Until then though, here is one of the two previews From The Womb To The Grave.



One final note before I wrap up, Snakes & Ladders is on Bandcamp twice but with good reason: cheaper shipping rates on the physical releases if you're in the USA! The link for the USA Bandcamp page is here - and just for redundancy's sake the EU / UK one is here as well. And that'll do it for this round, time got away from me a little bit again, but you can pretty much expect future posts to kind of be on this schedule for a while - they might even become sparser in the coming weeks because things will be getting busier IRL. But until then, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Friday, 20 August 2021

One o' them days

Remember back in May where I did a real super short post as a change of pace? I thought it might be a more common feature than it actually turned out to be - it was this one right here, the one with the bit of a soapboxy rant that in hindsight was a bit out of leftfield and potentially ill-advised? Yeah, that one! Well, today I'm feeling that kind of vibe again, though a lot less wordy this time. In summary: people are shit.

Dora Maar - Double Portrait (1930)


I actually put togetehr this tracklist before getting the link to the old one, only to find I'd picked stuff from pretty much the same albums as last time for you fans of serendipty out there. They're a bit more consistnet this time, there's no left turn into techno town at the very end, though we do get a bit IDM with a touch of melodic grit from Clark's Totem's Flare instead. It would have been last in the list but I moved the Perturator album down one as it has the uncensored cover on the Bandcamp page and I thought I'd give you a heads up before you scrolled into it (though I guess it might already be on your screen depending on how big it is) - might be alright becuase it's thumbnail sized but you may want to save this one for when you're on a network that's not monitored by your school/employer or whatever!









And finally as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Wandering the Boards

I had another one of those moments the other day where shuffle deals me a hand I wasn't expecting - hitting me with some Boards Of Canada. It wasn't like I haven't been listening to them or anything, it was more one of those cases where you only notice something missing after it returns. BoC are near and dear to me as you all may know, but the same can be said of all big Warp acts really. It has been a while since I've actually posted anything from them now I think about it, but I did do a runthrough of all their albums pre-Tomorrow's Harvest way back when as part of the Warped History series. At any rate, immediately afterwards I went on a quick dip back into some of my favourites from their works, and thanks to Warp's appearance on Bandcamp, I can now easily make it into a quick post as well - so let's go!

Eyvind Earle - Three Horses (1987)

We're actually going to start with a bit from Tomorrow's Harvest, their latest release not counting the big rebranded reissue of the Peel Session. I didn't actually review this one when it came out unlike some other Warp albums which is probably for the best in hindsight - it's certainly a grower (no pun intended). It's not my favourite of their albums, but don't take that as harsh criticism, it's still BoC doing what they do best. If you needed proof of that, look no further than the one-two punch of the album's opening Gemini, where the BoC boys lay out their 70's soundtrack influences bare - and how it leads into the second track Reach For The Dead. The whole album is a much... darker affair than usual, but not dark in the same way as Geogaddi was - it's a much more gritty, granular experience. Having said that, it is similar to Geogaddi in that the whole album is laden with foreboding atmospheres, but even so there are moments of beauty on there and Reach is one of them - one that I think stands alone even if the rest of the album leaves you wanting.



We'll be going backwards through their discography from here on out, I've chosen a couple from Geogaddi just to fill things out as my immediate first choice Over The Horizon Radar is lovely but fleeting. A trend that will continue with the rest of my picks actually, these small ambient interludes are some of my favourites they've done, and due to the bite size length I usually find myself saying 'just one more time' when they do come up. Over The Horizon Radar ushers in the final quarter of the album which is a pretty good summary of the whole thing honestly, it has the balance of ambient and slightly sinister trip hop thing that runs through the album down perfectly.



And speaking of, 1969 would be one of my go-tos for the flip side of the album - comforting yet unsettling. The beats are surprisingly heavy on all of Geogaddi, but 1969 seems to stick out a lot more than the rest to me at the moment - top it all off with some deliberately cult imagery (the sample here is "Although not a follower of David Koresh, she's a devoted Branch Davidian", just with Koresh's name reversed) and you have pretty much the album's MO in a nutshell. It's hypnotic but doesn't outstay it's welcome at a (nice) 4:20, the final quarter when the track title's namesake comes into play it's magical - I cannot get enough of that vocoded 1969, in the sunshine.



But if I had to pick just one single piece from BoC's vast discography that I could listen to forever, it would be this. I've brought it up a bunch of times before but I think it's been long enough that I can bring it up again - to me, Olson is the distilled essence of the Boards Of Canada sound, at least on the pure ambient front. Their work is very evocative of a moment in time, and they do a fantastic job of capturing that nostalgic, wistful feeling here - the analogue hisses and warbles are refined to perfection to capture that moment in time that influenced them so. It's maybe a little late to say it in the post, but if by chance you're new to BoC and like what you hear here, I would recommend starting with the album that Olson is from: Music Has The Right To Children and working your own way from there, forward or backward in their discography and you'll probably find even more that appeals.



And that'll do it for this slightly hastily written post, apologies for the widening gaps between them these days, things are getting busier IRL, I'm going to try and continue this short post trend just because it's easier to manage with the current climate and all. I have something else lined up that I haven't started yet so there may be another one out by the end of this week, but if not I'll drop by with it when I can. And as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Please Hold

The post in question I mentioned last time is taking a little longer than I want it to, but as I said last time I kind of expected that. Nothing major - just it's a very broad topic and I'm tackling it like a proper article instead of these usual quick-fire posts. I've been a little busier IRL too to boot. Still, that's why we plan for these things isn't it? And besides, I didn't want to do two fairly big posts back to back anyway.

Helen Frankenthaler - Robinson's Wrap (1974)

So I've got a little selection of things I'm eyeing to get my hands on soon, a fair warning we are heading back down IDM lane once again though - starting with Arovane, another find from my deep dive into the genre many years ago. My introduction delicate, almost ambient Tides, an album full of delicate electronics and for my money potentially the most accessible 'IDM' album of all time - there's no hyper-technological abrasiveness here, the tracks with beats come out sounding more closer to Trip Hop (particularly the kind of stuff Akira Yamaoka makes for the Silent Hill soundtracks), a great stepping stone if you're looking to get into the genre.

But my choice this time is actually from the follow up to that album with Lilies, a much more technological feeling album but no less organic on the melody front. Which is actually thematically relevant as there is a very strong Japanese influence on this album, first appearing on Passage To Nagoya, which features a sample of the Shinkansen announcer detailing the route to Shin-Ōsaka Station. My pick from the track list also shows this influence on the title, Cry Osaka Cry - by far and away the most conventionally 'IDM' of the lot, which is actually why I've chosen it this time. As long time readers will know I have a real soft spot for this style, it can be a little generic at times but I think Arovane skirts that nicely here, his melody work here is great and I just love that those delicate elements get their moment in the sun to stand alone in the final quarter. Lovely stuff.



Returning to early Apparat for more of the same vibe with his debut album: the delightfully german Multifunktionsebene. It was a bit difficult to find on streaming or otherwise legally on the web for a while, though unfortunately that's still the case for a few earlier Apparat releases like one of my favourites from him in the Shapemodes EP. Back on topic though, I do like it when there are little blurbs on Bandcamp pages about the albums in question, the one for Multifunktionsebene details the process behind the creation, which according to the bandcamp page is as follows:
at variable intervals, audio data are manipulated by using random modulation algorithms. the result is relaxed electronica, "de-beautified" by (severe) exceptional sound errors.
I'm not sure I 100% buy that, as someone who's worked with a similar kind of process before, that normally gets you some good bases that you then need to refine, but then again mine was for still images and not audio so maybe you can kind of stitch the good bits of randomness together easier in audio form. At any rate if there were a single track that would make me believe that it would be Multifocus, that squeaky synth making up the backbone of the track does seem pretty random in its excecution, and I will admit Apparat does a great job of contrasting it with some really smooth backing, pop it on some decent headphones and you can pick out the intricacies. While most of my favourite Apparat works are his later ones, I do have an appreciation for tracks like this, it's a striking debut at the very least, and Apparat builds on this foundation in really interesting ways in the releases afterwards.



Ocoeur to close out - I'm sure I say this every time I talk about them but they are yet another find from my Grooveshark days, one of the few recommended artists underneath The Flashbulb if I remember right. My introduction was Light As A Feather which is a fantastic album in its own right and an ideal intro to the man's work, it has an almost palpable textural feel to it that is on show in full force throughout that album. Truth be told though it's a little reductive to just label Ocoeur's output as just IDM - while it does fit under the broad umbrella of the term it doesn't give you a great idea as to what exactly it sounds like, which is one of the main reasons I don't much care for the 'IDM' name: Boards Of Canada and Aphex Twin are two wildly different atmospheres.

For example, there a lot of Techno influence when it comes to Ocoeur - not so much that the tracks come close to being full-on Techno mind you but it's certainly there, and I can think of no better example than the one I've chosen here. When it all comes together you get traces of the likes of Burial and Moderat too as First Highway breathes to life over the first couple of minutes. The sparse kick drums tease, coming in to full force around the 2:35 mark - underpinning the gentle weave of melodies and sounds that Ocoeur plays with over the rest of the runtime. I would still recommend Light As A Feather as a starting point, but if you like what you hear there then A Parallel Life will make a fine addition to it.



And that'll do it for this time. I don't have an exact ETA on when the bigger post I'm working on will be done, but I'll try to put a couple more of these smaller ones out in the meantime if it takes longer still. In the meantime I hope you find something in these selections that really appeals to you, I'd recommend Light As A Feather even if you're not into the genre, it's has some really great atmospheres on it and isn't too avant garde in its stylings, making it a much more digestible listen than you might expect given the IDM label. And with that, all that's left to say is - as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Plus One More

That time of year again where synchronicity shines through and by happy coincidence both myself and the blog tally getting one more year older on the calendar on the same day. I hope I don't sound especially sentimental when I say that this blog has been a massive part of my life - I think I'm coming up on 10 years of writing this year? It's pretty wild to think about. But that's part of the appeal to me, sure I might wince a bit at my teenage writings - but what I have here is a written log of my electronic music journey, one that's going to continue for many more years to come.

Sir Terry Frost - Umea, Sweden (1979)


We've both come a long way since the days of bloghouse where I got my start. Genres have come and gone in the years since, but I like to think I've been pretty consistent. Though we are going to take a break from my usual format this time and do what I normally do around the blog's birthday (and some seasonal holidays) a good old fashioned track dump like it's 2010. Basically I'm just gonna be throwing down a whole bunch of tracks from across the genre spectrum - some classics that I've had for longer than I've been writing here to new(ish) stuff and everything in-between. Thanks for reading, and here's to many more of these to come.

Kicking off with a bit of synthwave from Carpenter Brut. Brut's stuff has a lot in common with the electro house of old in terms of sound, his brand of synthwave (at least in this Trilogy era) is free of the more super cliché bits that can be pitfalls of the genre - Brut's slasher film aesthetic is a nice change of pace from the usual pink grids, pastel sunsets and cocaine white Countaches that come with the territory. I'm not as into the scene as I was back when this was new circa 2015 so take that comment with a grain of salt and all. The entire Trilogy compilation is a fantastic crash course into the world of Brut, gathering up his first three EPs into one tight package that I would say is near essential if you're at all into the genre.

While I do love his more abrasive work on tracks like Turbo Killer and the first of his I ever heard, the brutal sounding Roller Mobster - I've gone with a different pick this time. Looking For Tracy Tzu has much more of a cinematic feel than those two (not entirely unexpected though, given Brut's obvious horror flick influences), but even so still finely demonstrates Brut's mastery of his own style, one of my favourites and just a fantastic track from a fantastic compilation.



A find from my eary bandcamp days (and one that's been on my wishlist for a shamefully long time as well), when I started to broaden my horizons a little bit in the vast and infinite world of bandcamp. One of many tracks that have made me eat crow and walk back my "minimal isn't really my bag" statement (one that's still kind of true) - Antigone & François X's We Move As One. The title track is a woozy sea of arpeggios, and my choice for this post Journey Home follows that same methodology but with a thudding 4/4 instead of the hazy ambience of the former. A colossal 7 minute number, it's utterly hypnotic in its execution, effortlessly building to peaks and crashing down into valleys - another one of those tracks that again make me fall in love with electronic music all over again with it's atmosphere. A stellar piece that makes me all wistful for the dancefloor.



Onto one of the older ones here, Misstress Barbara's Never Could Have Your Heart. This one came into my life when I was beginning to branch back out into the world of electronic music, back then I was only really listening to stuff that I'd picked up from when more electronic stuff would bleed onto the radio - your Daft Punk and friends kinda deal. I don't know the exact year I found this one but it can't be later than the early 00's, it was one of those magical moments where it solidified why I liked electronic music - I instantly could tell that I loved this sound and wanted more of it. I dig it out from time to time, and the love I have for it is still strong - that melody is so, so good and it was so much heavier than the more disco-influenced house I was familiar with at the time. And it all came full circle eventually, as I learned that the melody that I liked so much from this one is actually sampled or otherwise taken from Move's D's In/Out (Initial Mix) (around 2:20 if you want to skip straight to it) which is also another great record.



What is there to say about Nightmares on Wax that I haven't already said over the years? A hometown hero of mine, generally nice bloke and provider of solid downtempo stuff for well over 20 years at this point. I've picked one from Smokers Delight again, one of the trio of albums that I have signed by the man himself and a quite easy and comfortable entry on my 10 top 10s list. An early highlight, Pipes Honour remains one of my first go-to tracks from the album, from the get go it establishes itself as one of the heralds of what the albums all about - if the title of it and the artwork didn't give enough indication already. Together they make for one damn near essential piece of downtempo history, whether you partake of the titular smoking or not - if you are at all into anything downtempo I can highly recommend both this and the follow up album Carboot Soul for your collection. Another one with a deceptively thick bassline, run this one through your sub for a quick and easy way to dust your shelves!



Closing out this section with another easy entry on my 10 10s list, The Knife's Silent Shout. Another exercise in aesthetic perfection, the complete polar opposite of the bubblegum electropop of Deep Cuts, Silent Shout is a much moodier affair - loaded with cool electronics and a melancholy tinge to the lyrics and delivery. Silent Shout draws from a much wider sound pool than Deep Cuts, there are fragments of all kinds of genres on here from Trance to Ambient - but as seen through the lens of The Knife.

Silent Shout also sees Karin & Olof refine their work on the vocal front, on the previous two albums there were a few tracks that played around with Karin's voice, pitch shifting it around in order to play different roles - it's a technique that worked really well (and would continue to do so on Karin's solo project Fever Ray) but here it's refined even more, and the duo lock in to a sound that not only compliments the sound and atmosphere of the album, but lends weight to the lyrical content and themes as well. There is no better demo of what I've just mentioned than the title track itself: they synths are just fantastic, and the sound of Karin dueting with her simultaneously pitched-down and pitched-up selves is a strong contender for my favourite vocal treatment of all time. It's transitioned into track 2 of the album as I type this and I cannot overstate how much I love this album, the opening combo of the first four tracks is just flawless and an incredible experience. The Knife came to me at a weird time in my life but I'm ever so glas to have found them.



Rounding out with two more entires to bring things full circle. Warp has been a major staple of my listening history over the years and as a result a big part of my history with the blog as well - I spent an entire year writing album reviews of classic Warp albums not long after I first started after all. I've not been the best at keeping up with what's new from them as I used to just because I'm a heck of a lot busier these days than when I was a teen, but I've made the effort to rectify that recently and I have not been disappointed.

Squarepusher's latest EP Lamental was an early hightlight of me getting back on the Warp train, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect going in though, as anyone with a passing knowledge of Squarepusher's work can tell you he can swing wildly in sound from one release to the next. Still, I had heard Midi Sans Frontieres a while back when he was giving out the stems for it, so I checked it out based on the strength of that. It's a very solid EP and serves as a whirlwind tour of Squarepusher's many sounds over the years - opening with The Paris Track, evocative of his older Drum & Bass style works a la A Journey To Reedham from the Big Loada EP but twinned with those new squelchy synths he's so fond of. A downright beautiful ambient piece in Detroit People Mover, which I appreciate a whole lot as the rare times he does take on the genre it is always beautiful - see Tommib for proof of that. A solo guitar piece rounds out the retrospective tour, Les Mains Dansent could easily have been one of the handful of classical guitar bits featured on Ultravisitor, it's most similar to the closing track Every Day I Love in my opinion.

I'm not going to lie, the sort of look back over his discography has tinted my opinion of this EP quite a bit as it made me all nostalgic for those days when I was exploring all that Warp had to offer (and loving it!). I've chosen Midi Sans Frontieres (Avec Batterie) this time, it and it's ambient-style cousin (just called Midi Sans Frontieres) close out the tracklist and I adore them both. This version with the beat recalls bits of Ultravisitor again, the jazzy nature reminding me of Iambic 9 Poetry. It's far from his 'Drill & Bass' of old, but I really like the sound of this EP and am interested to hear where Squarepusher goes next.



I did the same with another of my Warp favourites - Daniel Lopatin's long time ambient / avant garde project Oneohtrix Point Never. I first found OPN via the Rifts compilation released in 2009, a gathering of his first few albums into one huge set. I actually bought my copy through Bleep, Warp's official distributor that used to deal only in digital music but merged with the physical store Warpmart a while ago now. I distinctly remember thinking at the time that OPN would make a great addition to Warp's roster, a feeling that only got stronger as I dove into his previous works and the Rifts comp started making waves. It wasn't long before that actually happened, and since then Lopatin has gone from strength to strength - even branching out into film soundtracks in recent years. OPN's work can be experimental to a fault at times, though I think both the Rifts compilation and R Plus Seven are fairly accessible if you want to get into his overall sound (and personally I think R Plus Seven is some of his finest work).

But we're getting away from the point, I haven't really checking in to a full release from Lopatin since around the release of R Plus Seven which is coming up on nearly 10 years old at this point. I think I did check out his two follow up albums in passing when they came out but like so many other records I intend to look into ended up on the back burner - so this time I did the same strategy as I did with Squarepusher and dove right into the latest EP of his, Nothing's Special. It's not a long one at just two tracks, one of which is just the album version of the track so I thought it'd be an easy entry.

It is just fantastic. I was rapt from the opening alone but that only continued as the track went on, I'm totally in love with it. e OPN has played with vocals previously in the past - normally heavily distorted as on the original version of Returnal or the cut up samples of the Replica album - though his work for the Good Time soundtrack featured an almost spoken work collaboration with Iggy Pop in The Pure And The Damned that sort of leads directly into this one. Damned is fantastic in its own right, the small bits of that iconic Juno sound from OPN's early work never fails to make me smile.

But as I mentioned, Nothing Special feels like a refinement of that. The original has more in common with Returnal as mentioned above, albeit not as distorted - this time the vocals getting a melodic auto-tune-esque treatment and some great subtle and not-so-subtle glitch artifacts that sound amazing too. For me though, the real highlight is the new version for this EP, a collaboration with Rosalía taking over the vocals. Of the two, I think this one is easily my favourite (Shocking, I know given my bias towards treated vocals), there's nothing wrong with the original but Rosalía makes the whole thing feel so much more passionate. OPN's subtle and delicate treatment of her voice is nothing short of brilliant as well, rather than swimming in autotune as the original was, here it's more selectively applied along with the subtle glitch artifacts as well, the whole thing comes across like a merging of humanity with technology which I just love, I've been unable to stop coming back to this one over the past week or so.



Perhaps not a track dump in the traditional sense, but more than I normally put up and of a much wider variety as well. Plus, I let myself write more than usual this time too, so apologies for the big gap between the last post and this one. As I close out this post I just want to drop a quick thank you to all that read - whether you're fairly new or a long time veteran, your interest is greatly appreciated! I love being able to write out my thoughts like this on all kinds of electronic music, the blog has been a major rock for me over the years and now more than ever have I needed it, and my music collection as a whole. Likewise, I hope that it's provided some consistency and levity in your own lives as well. Not to get too overbearingly sentimental or really parasocial on you or nothing though!

Once again, here's to many more years of these to come. I'll be back around soon enough as usual with more tales and tunes but until then - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF