Friday, 20 May 2022

Vangelis

I've been trying to come up with something to say here about Vangelis after hearing of his passing last night, I'm going to defer to this comment here that summarises my thoughts better than I could:

He could not only compose in the style of vastly different historical periods and cultures, but he could seamlessly blend them... An impossible phenomenon, yet he existed... Everything from Middle-Eastern rhythms to space ambient, prog rock to jazz, early Medieval polyphony to avantgarde, Celtic ballads to Far Eastern ceremonial music, African tribal music to piano etudes... there were no limits. All from one man who never trained formally, never read or wrote music...


Beyond just that though, the man's influence cannot be overstated - the Blade Runner soundtrack being the most obvious point to start with. Laden with beautiful ambient and dripping with atmosphere, its an incredible listen and one that's gone on to influence electronic musicians of all genres, cropping up as samples in Drum & Bass tracks and appearing on compilations - you'll have no doubt heard Blade Runner Blues before, its an icon. The soundtrack surprisingly took a good 10+ years to come out after the movie, and there has been an expanded re-release since with even more extra tracks that are lovely too.



I've picked another of my favourites in Wait For Me - at the risk of repeating myself the same applies here, gorgeous atmosphere and all in all just interesting soundtrack work. The electronics on Blade Runner not only fit the setting but do so much to create that neo-noir feel. I don't want to harp on it too much as the man has a vast body of work beyond just Blade Runner, but at the same time it'd be a mistake to not mention it - the soundtrack has earned its reputation and is a great stepping in point if you're unfamiliar.



And then just a random smattering of selections, there's not as much here as I'd like but as I mentioned I've probably only explored a fraction of the man's releases. I had a quick look at the opinion on this one just as a frame of reference and I found a mixed bag. One complaint that stood out was that this album was loaded with 80's cliches which I kind of get, but it was released in 1988 after all - plus if you're like me then you don't mind too much. The intro of Intergalactic Radio Station is lovely, the kind of song a very young me would have marvelled at, the kind that got me interested in electronic music in the first place.



And a little bit of something a bit more Ambient to play us out, for me this kind of sound is when Vangelis really shines, a real talent for these sparse and delicate pieces are lovely - enter Rêve. It's been a long time since I got back into the world of this style of 70's electronic, but in sampling them for this post I think it might be time for me to take a look at them again. Its definitely an under-represented part of my collection and there is a load of it out there to explore. Perhaps a summer project for me.



And that'll be all for today, first time I've had to use Spotify players for a while, I know they aren't great so I've also included official YT uploads as links in the text as well. I hope you enjoy some of these tracks as much as I do, and maybe even take this opportunity to explore Vangelis' discography in more detail, I certainly will. And of course, as always, stay safe an enjoy the music.

-CVF

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Summer Somethin'

Finally time to get around to putting this up now that things are warming up for those in the Northern Hemisphere. Some cuts that didn't make it onto the Cosy Collection of last time, spun off into their own thing. A little more eclectic in terms of selection, there were plenty that didn't make it in that I will hang onto for next time - I hope you enjoy the selection. As usual, tracklist in plain text and a full rundown of the selections below: (Both players above are the same, but the picture one doesn't show the tracklist like the compact player so I included both!)







Tracklist:
Maria Yamamoto - Venus to Chiisana Kamisama (Instrumental)
Lina Ohta - Puzzle-Riddle
Boom Bip - Last Walk Around Mirror Lake (Boards Of Canada Remix)
Kensuke Ushio - Flare
Kensuke Ushio - Speed Of Youth
Ghostlight - Fantasy Complex
Susumu Yokota - Nothing Time
Sugar Plant - Simple Dub


Pretty happy with how this one turned out for the most part, some of my intended selections didn't make the cut (Röyksopp and Air to name a few) which was disappointing, but I think I've been guilty in the past of forcing tunes in, so I tried to be a little more loose this time. Kicking off with a semi-obscure but of J-Pop from Maria Yamamoto - this is exactly the type of song I had in mind making this mix and I chose the instrumental to highlight that, Maria's vocal is fine but I just had to let that fantastic instrumentation by Tsuneo Imahori shine, it's just gorgeous. From there we keep things in a similar vein, with Lina Ohta's very brief and only foray into music - it's a similar story here as with the last one - produced by Haruomi Hosono of Yellow Magic Orchestra fame, he has an incredible talent and an incredibly vast discography, his pop productions like this one are always a treat.

Moving more into traditional territory next with the sublime Last Walk Around Mirror Lake Remix from Boards Of Canada. Very much in the Campfire Headphase style, that whole album could easily have made up the entire tracklist here. It was a different spin on the typical nostalgic BoC sound, trading analog weirdness for more acoustic elements (though still very firmly retro in style), but that makes a perfect match for Boom Bip around this time. Wonderful stuff, and one of the best tracks in the BoC archives.

A double feature from Kensuke Ushio next - he's made plenty of appearances in my recent mixy posts, both under his real name and the Agraph alias. I fell in love hard with his stuff a few years ago now, his brand of IDM on the Agraph albums is a lovely balance between the glitchy and melodic that I instantly clicked with - more recently he's been doing a bunch of soundtrack work, and with it exploring whole other genres. From full on synthwave for Devilman Crybaby to his more usual Ambient / IDM for Boogiepop wa Warawanai, I have loved it all. His work for A Silent Voice is no exception, it's a beautiful movie with an equally beautiful OST. I couldn't pick just one so I went with the sparkling duo of Flare and Speed Of Youth - the former showing off the ambient side while the latter gets just a touch of that IDM influence on it. Fantastic works.

Rounding out we have Fantasy Complex from Ghostlight, a tune I was randomly recommended one day, and it wouldn't stop recommeding me it. So I stubbornly gave in one day and gave it a spin. It's very nice, all of Ghostlight's work has this real nice lo-fi feel to it that I don't have a ton of in my library, though I wish I knew what was the content that made the algorithm decide to send them my way. From there we have a little more Susumu Yokota, this time from the Sound Of Sky album that I opened one of my winter mixes with. I've yet to hear the man's full discography - there is a lot of stuff to get through and that's before you look at his many aliases - but even so, Sky is up there as one of my favourite offerings from the man. Chill lounge house tracks like this are the order of the day, so Nothing Time was right at home here.

And finally, Sugar Plant. Another recent love of mine that has been sadly relegated to thse mixes due to them noth being readily avalable on streaming that isn't Spotify. They're sort of difficult to pin down, on paper they are an indie / alternative rock band, but that label feels like sort of a disservice - their works feel quite electronic, sort of like Seefeel in that respect - creating these lovely loops with actual instruments - though Sugar Plant is much more downtempo that Seefeel's droney shoegaze. Highly recommended for fans of the Trip Hop stuff I've posted in the past, they feel very much like Morcheeba to me. I've chosen the Dub version of Simple to play out, it's not massively changed from the orignal, just with lots of lovely dub delay and other elements added for good measure, a fitting finale I thought.

And that'll do for today, pretty fast turnaround on this one, thanks mainly to me having a draft tracklist to hand for a few months now! I'm going to drop by with more Final Bandcamp Friday stuff throgh the week hopefully, but I hope until then you can find plenty in this selection to tide you over - and of course, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Speedy Replacement Service

Started writing a big in-depth Retro Review post only to find the record in question isn't being re-released for a couple of months yet. Oops. With my plans thoroughly scuppered I decided to throw together a quick one to tide us over - not a dive into my final Bandcamp pickups this time, but more bits and pieces that I sort of skipped over at the time.
Ken Danby - Charter (1978)

A little more Italo to kick off - I've been trying to not overdo it when it comes to the genre, it can be easy to have too much too quick as I found out with its eventual evolution in Eurobeat. But that love is easily transferable between the two - I like to joke that Eurobeat is just Italo but faster but there is a lot of truth to it. But I digress, I think a lot of Italo is just plain fun to listen to, even when (and especially when) it gets a little dated like on this one here. Truth be told I still think Notte Divina that I posted before is the best of the first volume of obscure tracks, but I like this one a whole lot too.



Taking a bit of a turn in genre next, it's been a hot minute since I talked about Gerard Hanson and his work under the E.R.P. moniker - its fast become some of my favourite electronic in my collection. The spacey electro really captures my favourite elements of the stuff Warp was putting out in the early 90's for the Artificial Intelligence series, most specifically the work of B12. It's all lovely stuff, but I never really covered the more electro-leaning parts of the discography. Part one of the Evoked Potentials series is best at demonstrating this, both tracks err more on the electro front than the spacey tech I mentioned above - that feel is still there of course, most prominently on the intro of Sensory Process but this time it's much more the way of say Drexciya, or the one Elektroids album if you want to keep it in the Warp family - with perhaps a touch of Dopplereffekt for that slightly darker edge - all of which share a common link in the form of Gerald Donald!



Returning to commuting after so long and getting an upgrade in storage capacity on my daily driver phone has meant a resurgence in Returning to commuting after so long and getting an upgrade in storage capacity on my daily driver phone has meant a resurgence in all things musical on my side, and that's where Swayzak come in. Snowboarding In Argentina keeps the techy theme going, Bueno has been a recent hit for me, its driving tech house that really helps keep the momentum up when hoofing it around - helped further by the fact that the shortest track on this album is still 7:30. Between this and a recent pickup from the final Bandcamp Friday that I haven't talked about yet, I'm enjoying a bit of a Tech House renaissance so expect more like this to come soon.



And that'll be all for now, not too bad for something I whipped up last minute with no plan I don't think. Shame that the Retro Review has had to go on the back burner but it'll have its time to shine eventually. I'll come back around with more selections soon enough but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Saturday, 7 May 2022

The Final(?) Friday - Part One

Hasui Kawase - Starlit Night, Miyajima (1928)


Hey there, it's been a while - apologies ofr the slight delay, the first half of this week got a little chaotic. But I am here now, and I bring the results of what may be the last ever Bandcamp Friday - it's hard to tell, the statement from the start of this year only lists them happening until May, but I suppose time will reveal all. I've had an exceptional run with them since they started running them though, and it's been a nice nudge to pick up some music once a month or so. We'll save that talk for later though, there is a lot of stuff to go through this time so I am going to split it into a couple (or more) parts. So, let's get stuck right in.

Some Garoad first off - you might have seen me talk at length about my love of their soundtracks for VA-11 Hall-a, the two were a match made in heaven and complimented each other nigh perfectly. From My Star To Yours is cut from the same cloth, if you were at all a fan of those OSTs you will immediately find common ground here. I have a lot of love for the sound here, it's retro 80's infused electronic without getting too deep into Synthwave territory, Garoad's inspirations lie elsewhere if the artwork didn't tip you off already - From My Star To Yours is very cinematic in its execution, like it's an insert song from an 80's Space Opera OVA (hence the artwork!), lavished with synth noodling and power chords and the mandatory of-the-era guitar riffs, and even an extended outro reprising the main motif on piano - all that's missing is the vocal accompaniment to complete that vibe. It's been a long time since Garoad released anything, I'm more than happy to hear more from them and am hoping there is more in the pipeline, as someone who is a big fan of the soundtrack of Bubblegum Crisis, I welcome any and all artists bringing back this style.



We're sticking in that same vein for the time being though, both the retro and Japanese influences. Enter Macross 82-99, who is still going strong all these years later. 82-99 first caught my ear with their unique blend of the kind of House that brought me here to this site in the first place, with a hearty helping of anime fandom for good measure (if the name Macross and the title of this release didn't make that obvious enough already). On the early mixtape releases this was twinned with vaporwave so it was a perfect macth for me circa 2012 when I was getting deep into that kind of thing.

I can understand it feeling gimmicky to some, (hell, I even thought as much when I was first exploring their work, chalk it up to my expeirnece with a ton of one-off vaporwave acts) but Macross is still going strong to this day, with Sailorwave III releasing just a couple months ago. Despite the name this isn't a Sailor Moon bootleg remix album, but the latest in a string of sequels to the albums that made Macross so popular in the first place. I've chosen That Music thing time around, purely because it transported me back to that time in my life when I first met Macross - cast your mind back to the Summers of the early 2010s, and think of the French Touch stuff that we used to post around that time - that's That Music, a little nostalgic sprinkle of sunshine. I don't dip my feet into the world of Future Funk often anymore, but I can always count on 82-99 for tracks like this.



Speaking of nostalgia, some Au Revior Simone next (and also another case of me misplacing something so picking it up again). The Bird Of Music is another record steeped in memories for me, again from around that same era. Not to get too sentimental or anything - I was heading off to University and my go-to convo starter for those first few awkward weeks was to get talking music. There was a bit of crossover with some (after all I think students are legally required to listen to Aphex Twin and Boards Of Canada when entering University!), and acts like Au Revior Simone were there to bridge the gap where there wasn't, so both this album and Still Night, Still Light were instrumental in that.

I tended to lean a little more towards this one for suggestions at the time as it's a little more folky in parts which I thought made it more accessible for some - Fallen Snow was one that I remember suggesting a lot, I think it balances that folk style with the electronics quite well. I liked Still Night more at the time, but coming back to this one after all this time I've gained new appreciation for it, somehow I always end up remembering the slower tracks more and completely forgetting that the album also has tracks like Dark Halls on it as well which has been a welcome return to my library. Its been a while since I've had some good energetic electropop, even if it's not techically 'new'.



As mentioned in the opener, this is only a portion of my pickups for this month, so stay tuned for part 2 and maybe more after that too. This one managed to be fairly sonically consistent, the next one(s) might get a little bit more eclectic but should prove very interesting as well, one I might even spin off into my first new 'review' in who knows how long. Things have quieted down again so shouldn't be too long until the next one, until then, as alawys - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Bits 'n Pieces of the past

As the Final Friday™ approaches, I've been looking over my 'collection' tab on BC - I'm going to try and make this last one quite a big one (and also non-electronic in parts potentially as well) so I thought a 'things I am looking at' post would be either too long or not super relevant. Instead we're taking another dive into the archives for a cross section of songs of yore, let's take a look-see.

Takashi Murakami - Mr. DOB All Stars (Oh My The Mr. DOB) (1998)


Something short to start off with, it's been a hot minute since I talked about ThorHighHeels - I picked up Positive Yellow off the heels of the great soundtrack work they did for Umurangi Generation. Some of the tracks from Positive Yellow actually appear in that OST as is, so I had a feeling of what to expect going in. In short, this whole release is one big love letter to 90's videogame OSTs (which will come as no surprise if you've seen any of Thor's YouTube content) - it'd be very easy to make kind of twee or overly pandering, but I think it does a great job of being 'inspired by' rather than just retreading. I've gone with a super short bonus track of the 'DX' version of it to illustrate - just under a minute long but it will sum up the whole experience in that time, though the 'GAME OVER' sample at the end is a li'l cliché, even if it is the actual end of the album.



Warp coming to bandcamp has been great, they were pioneers of the digital space back in the early days with Bleep so I was surprised that it took them this long, but then again they have enough capital to run their own service well enough anyway. Regardless, another reason I've come to love it is that it makes talking about their releases new and old much easier than using the naff Spotify previews like I was doing before. But enough tech - Welcome To Your Life is a tune I've mentioned a few times over the years, dating back to my first year of University I think. It's one of those that I'll forget about for a while but have a nice moment when it crops back up. And what an entrance it makes - that bass is so thick you can almost feel it in the air. Mount Sims features on the vocal front, his solo records are good listens if you are a fan of Electroclash stuff, Welcome To Your Life shares a little bit of sound DNA now I think about it. His voice works really well on tracks like this, shame we haven't heard anything in a while from his camp.



I feel like I didn't talk about Then Again too much - what was then the latest Mitch Murder LP. I've got a lot of love for Mitch's work, every time I think I'm done with retro-inspired synth stuff he comes along with something to pull me back in. Last time I mentioned this album I think it was focussing on the Vangelis-esque Frost, we're sticking with the slower side of things once again this time with the final track Someplace Else. An almost contender for the mixtape of Cosy Tracks that I made, it's chock full of synth power chords and the like. There are times where I think Mitch gets a little close to your stereotypical archetypal 'synthwave' vibe, and this is one of those times - but even so I can't help but get into the groove of this one. A fantastic album closer as well, very cinematic in its execution.



I think that'll do for now, I'm going try and swing by with a couple more before the Final Friday, but I'll try my best to make it a bumper edition when the final roundup does come. In the meantime, I hope you've found something to enjoy here and until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Monday, 25 April 2022

Back To The Punk

Going to get wistful for a bit here if you'll indulge me. It's been about a year since Daft Punk announced their split, and I figured they'd just slip back into the background as they always did anyway, and they sort of have - but recently their YT channel has been updating pretty regularly with some interesting stuff, more on that in a minute.



So what have we missed in the last year or so? Well, The Daft Club, the fan-site that I used to be on as a tween shut down upon the news. Sort of sad really as it could have still carried on I feel, they sure as hell managed fine without any news at all between the release of Random Access Memories and the split - but then again I was really only ever lurker anyway. The real reason it hurts a bit is that TDC was actually how I found this site, with a promo post by former owner Jordan - and if I hadn't then you probably wouldn't have been reading this right now.

A 25th anniversary edition of Homework was released which features a ton of remixes including previously super rare mixes of Around The World, though disappointingly the Armand Van Helden rework of Da Funk isn't included - but that was the B-side to the Musique EP I suppose so not part of Homework technically. Nice to see, but if you've been a longtime fan you either have or have heard all those mixes already.

Anyway, the focus of today is going to be the recent influx of 'from the archives' footage and content that's making an appearance. The archivist in me loves seeing stuff like this, it's a great resource and seeing it like this, freed from the old probably VHS/DVD sources of yore is fantastic. It's all to do with Around The World today, and we kick off with the video itself with audio commentary by director Michel Gondry. The late 90's to early 00's were a wild time with superstar directors putting out weird and wonderful music videos of all kinds - Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham and of course Gondry himself being but a few. Around The World is one of those iconic videos - the kind that gives everyone an 'oooooooh' moment when you realise that each group of dancers represents an element of the song (A concept which Gondry would re-use for the Chemical Brothers' Star Guitar), super interesting to hear this commentary.



Expanding on that even further we have a ton of behind the scenes footage from the set as well - which really highlights some of the things Gondry mentions in the commentary such as the computer setup for the lighting. As someone who works in a similar sphere, its humbling and a bit quaint to see the monstrosity of a setup needed to do something like triggering lights. The editing feels a little fast, sometimes too fast IMO - no idea if that was how it was originally or it's been re-edited for the 2020 world of social media. Either way, a very interesting look into the process, one that the archivist in me again really appreciates.




One last one to complete the archive, a very animated Gondry discussing the video and process. Another interesting slice from the archives, albeit one that kind of covers the same ground as the initial commentary. Not too sure about the weird filter on it but that is apparently how it is on the DVD anyway. Here's hoping that the rest of D.A.F.T is next, the videos for Revolution 909, Da Funk and Fresh are all equally iconic in their own right (and also boast Spike Jonze among others on the directing front) and I'd love to see the BTS footage and content for them again. That goes double for Interstella 5555, the duo's collaboration with Leiji Matsumoto that is essentially one giant music video for the whole of Discovery!



Having a flip through and reading the descriptions I actually think these were all just DVD extras from D.A.F.T but I don't mind too much because in the grand scheme of Daft Punk stuff I feel like it's a little unknown. And besides, as I've said many times in this post: the more sources there are for these things there are, the better. The Daft Punk superfan version of myself circa 2007/8 would have loved all of this content being so easily accessible and would have no doubt made an appearance and influence on my brief dip into the world of Filmmaking.

I realise now that there hasn't really been any 'music' in this post as of yet, so I leave you all with one final mix - the 'official video' for the KenLou (Kenny Gonzalez & Louie Vega of Masters At Work fame) mix. It's made up of clips from the above so there's not a lot of new content - likewise for the mix, the two take a fairly hands off approach, injecting Around The World with a little bit of funk but keeping most of the main body. I do wonder if they'll do similar for other mixes and behind the scenes footage, it'll be interesting to see which mixes get picked for the official treatment - Around The World has tons of mixes by itself after all. Well that'll about do it for this time around, I'll be back soon with more but until next time - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.



-CVF

Monday, 18 April 2022

Bank Holiday Bonus

What to do with an extra day off? Well, I thought I'd compile a miscellaneous post of bits and bobs I've collected over the last week or so that might not fit anywhere else. Let's start with a little somethin' I've been meaning to put up for a while, I've talked about Sean Seanson a couple of times already this year - champion of old school Playstation soundtracks and a man of similar tastes to me, as evidenced by his mixtapes I've mentioned.

But this bit of the post isn't about him, instead we'll be talking about Dedeco (whom I found through Sean's feeds), another fine purveyor of soundtrack electronic. As I said last time I talked about Sean's mixtapes, soundtracks are an absolute goldmine of tunes for mixes and such: from cult classics like Ridge Racer Type 4 with it's blend of Drum & Bass and Diva House to the slightly more obscure like Mijk Van Dijk's chilled remix of a track from surreal Dreamcast survivial horror D2 I have plenty of examples to go at. But I have to concede to Dedeco's absolute mastery of the soundtrack world, as he is consistently putting out mixes with tracks sourced for a massive variety of titles and genres. I may still have a go myself, but in the meantime, I'll be studying these for ammunition. (aslo stay tuned for cat cameo at around 24:10!)



A couple of random tracks next - the other day I decided to un-shuffle some of the Touched Two compilation as I'm pretty sure I have still yet to hear all of it. The artists are in alphabetical order which helps a little when it comes to making notes for posts like this given that there are 256 or so tracks on show here. First is Temp Cadet, a surprisingly House-y number considering the vast majority of the Touched compilations err on the IDM/Experimental/Ambient side of things. It still has that feel to it though, it comes out reminding me more of the Karsten Pflum track I posted a little while ago.



In a surprise to no one, my next pick is again reminiscent of the Artificial Intelligence era Warp sound. I know I repeat myself but it might just be my favourite sound styles of all time, and I swear that I didn't know about this one going in! At any rate, you all know the score by now - hi-tech spacey electronic is the order of the day here, reminding me a little of Gerard Hanson's work under his E.R.P. alias, although less electro and very much rooted in that ambient techno side of things. Come to think of it, it's a little closer to some tracks from Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85-92 now I'm writing this, which while released at the same time as the Artificial Intelligence stuff, wasn't actually part of the series or on Warp! But I digress, get a load of this one for some smoothy techy goodness.



And now... switching gears to something not strictly electronic, as I like to do from time to time. I'd say I'm not super versed in the world of psychedelia, but thanks to Broadcast and a co-worker of mine being into all kinds of rare, eclectic and otherwise experimental stuff from New York and beyond, it is slowly creeping into my library. Enter this morning where I awake to a couple of tweets from Kongress - a group with real heritage that I vaugeley knew in passing from a compilation that Future Sound Of London did under their Amorphous Androgynous alias. The Broadcast comparison rings true, as I've been listening to a lot of their final live sets recently that were moving in a more freely structured improvisational route, and such is the methodology behind Running With The Wolves - to quote the description: "two improvs that turned into two amazing recordings - 'Running With The Wolves' & 'Wink of an Eye'.". I highly recommend watching the video to get the full experience, the audio alone doesn't do it justice!



And that'll be all for today, the most varied post I've done in a while! I've got some things to try and sort on the backed, and I'm back at work this week as well so things might slow down a little, but I'll be back soon enough with more, even if it means a couple of bite-sized posts to pad things out. Until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Throwback Thursday

Let me take you all back in time, back to when a younger Foxbat was your stereotypical blog surfer with a headful of House. It's not that long ago in the grand scheme of things, but it's all documented on this site for all to see, going back and reading my (incredibly self conscious and very obviously the product of a teenager) writing is always interesting - to see what's changed and what hasn't. I tend to focus on what hasn't when I've previously brought this up - I'm still a fiend for all things IDM for one - but there are also more interesting changes in opinion as well; somewhere on here you can find a solitary post where I moan about not gelling with Portishead - fast forward a decade or so and I adore 'em
So Me - Triple Trouble (Crowd) (2009)


This time though, if the art didn't reveal all already, we're paying another trip to the archives of Ed Banger - a formative label for me as a teen and one of the major reasons I ended up writing here in the first place. I won't dive too deep into that this time though as I already did earlier this year, naturally there is going to be a lot of crossover though! First of all what being what spurred this post on in the first place - my last complaint about a lot of Ed Banger stuff not being on Bandcamp is now null and void, as a little while ago a whole heap of the catalogue appeared on there, including a whole bunch of DJ Mehdi stuff - including that remix of Signatune by Thomas Bangalter.

Instead of retreading ground I thought I'd put another favourite up (that I'd actually forgotten about a bit) - Mehdi put out a compilation of remixes called Red Black & Blue back when, and I think we might have even done some kind of preview/review of it at the time too. A real highlight for me was his reworking of Chromeo's Waiting 4 U, one that I am surprised didn't end up appearing anywhere else other than this comp. Chromeo and Mehdi were an almost perfect match anyway as demonstrated by their collaboration on I Am Somebody and this mix only cements that further. Unlike that though, this mix of Waiting 4 U feels much more raw by comparison, the Bass that slams in after the li'l break at 0:45 sounds super distorted, like its clipping slightly, giving the whole thing this lovely bedroom bootleg feeling.



This whole post, like my last Ed Banger one could be 100% Mehdi in all honesty, but I am going to have a little bit more variety this time around. Just after one final Mehdi offering! B-Side to the Pocket Piano EP, Tunisia Bambaata always felt a little underrated to me in the grand scheme of things, it's very much in that 'Nu French Touch' style that was in vogue at the time after all. Doubly so after myself having explored the world of Future Funk, this would fit right in that scene no trouble, though it's maybe a little slower than my favourites from that genre. Anyway, my real favourite part of Tunisia Bambaata is the 'bonus track' included at the end - after the final fade we get a little 1-minute instrumental interlude that lets Mehdi show off his hip hop leanings. As a teen obsessed with Adult Swim bumps, I was all about little instrumentals like that, but I'd be lying if I didn't still have a lot of love for that style of lo-fi.



SebastiAn's remix compilation is also there, though the track list is a bit of a minefield and a lot of them aren't tagged properly with either the artist or the fact it's a SebastiAn remix. At any rate, at the time there were some real juggernauts of remixing - MSTRKRFT was always a favourite of mine, but SebastiAn got a lot of the limelight thanks to his bold choices in what to remix. Rather than just remixing whatever was new at the time, SebastiAn did a lot of paying tribute to his influences with bootleg mixes of Rage Against The Machine and others - it didn't take long for some of them to go legit however, a trend that continues to this day with Metallica commissioning him and other artists to remix the Black Album. I've chosen his remix of Klaxon's Golden Skans because it is not only one of my favourites ever, but also highlights another thing I loved about this time - there was a great crossover between folks from the Indie scene getting into Electronic music and vice-versa, I made a lot of friends that way!



There is still a distinct lack of Ed Rec. available on their bandcamp however, there are some real gems on there (especially Volume 3, but I am biased!). In light of that though we're going way back in the chronology of Ed Banger for this one here, with a catalogue number of ED010: Mr. Flash's Champions / Disco Dynamite. It's funny going back to these early releases, you can hear the direction that the 'Ed Banger' aesthetic is going to take but it isn't quite fully formed yet, there's a certain charm to it, though it's not quite aged as gracefully as the later entires of the label. Still, those early releases are still important, and an interesting listen if nothing else. Personally, I enjoy a little bit of Disco Dynamite once in a while - there are days where it hits the spot.



And that'll be all for today, I hope you have enjoyed this little time capsule we've had today - as I'm becoming all too aware of it might be the first time hearing tracks like this for some of you depending on your age! Maybe over the summer I'll do another historical dive back into the early days of Dubstep and become some kind of digital archaeologist. Anyway, I'll be back soon with another entry for you all but until then, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Monday, 11 April 2022

Getting 'round to it

Hey again, I'm back again with the first of hopefully a few instalments this week. This one has been baking for a while - I've been making note of specific tracks that I'd like to talk about but don't necessarily fit in with whatever I have writing at that moment. What I do is wait for a fair few of them to pile up and then put them all together in an odds & ends post like this. Despite the method behind the madness, these ones are actually fairly cohesive in terms of sound as you'll see - let's have a look!

Neil Welliver - Night Scene (1982)


Starting with a deep dive into the Warp archives here with a little compilation called The Theory Of Evolution. A little backstory first though: In the early days of working from home I went on a deep dive of interviews and such to have on in the background, one of them I ended up putting on was of Warp co-founder Steve Beckett at the Red Bull Music Academy. It's a very interesting talk in general but there was one bit that caught my ear: Steve's response to any signings that they missed out on. He calls on Mark Pritchard (who is conveniently in the crowd, and also would eventually end up on Warp anyway), saying that his first album as Reload - A Collection Of Short Stories should have been part of the Artificial Intelligence series.

Which is true, the album is very much of the same kind of philosophy behind that series after all - some tracks from it would appear on this compilation a couple of years later. The compilation itself is a bit of a mixed bag in all honesty, but this has gotten long enough already so I'll save it for another post. The real highlight of the bunch is the Chameleon remix of Amazon Amenity, a delicious slice of Drum & Bass in the middle of the tracklist. Not quite the same as the Artificial Intelligence stuff, but not a million miles away in terms of the theory behind it.



Next, we revisit The Flashbulb for the first time in ages. I feel like I bring up Flashbulb a lot, but it's normally as a point of comparison with other artists (which to be fair, is very useful due to the sheer variety over the Flashbulb discography) - so its high time I saw to make that right. I've gone with track 2 from Love As A Dark Hallway, which rather interestingly on Bandcamp has different album art for each track which is nice. This one blindsided me about a week or so ago after coming up on shuffle, I live for those moments when a song comes back into your life after a long absence and it's almost as sweet as the first time, such is the case with Pastorial Whiskers. It is lovely - to reverse the record and play comparisons for The Flashbulb, there's streaks of μ-Ziq here, but by far and away the closest comparison I could make is the kind of stuff Squarepusher was making for Hello Everything, there's also plenty of Squarepusher-esque Bass work on this one too if the album art didn't tip you off. Lovely stuff.



And finally, something new. I haven't been up to date on new releases for a long long time now, but thanks to the magic of Bandcamp I have a better handle on it than before! Gimmik has been a bit of a mainstay recently after finding his and other former Toytronic artists on Bandcamp, really it's just nice to see people still making my favourite style of IDM into the modern era. Omicron Acid, as the name might suggest, sounds like a bit of a departure at first listen (and not particularly Acid either). Stick with it though, and around a minute in some lovely spacey touches emerge to counterpoint the punchy kicks. The Acid doesn't really show up until 2:50 but it doesn't disappoint, I'll never complain about a swift delivery of 50ccs of 303, doubly so when it is mixed with the hi-tech lushness that is everything else. It is my favourite of the two versions available, which is curiously listed as 'name your price' on Bandcamp, so you could theoretically get it for free (at least as of the time of writing)



And that'll be all for today, as I mentioned up top I do have a couple of other posts planned for this week - another like this one and hopefully finishing up a quite long one that's been sat on the back-burner for far too long. Based on my thoughts about the Evolution compilation it might be time to revive the Retro Reviews as well. But I stray from the point, not a bad start for this week, I hope you like each of these selections as much as I do and until next time - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Friday, 8 April 2022

A Cosy Collection

Hey all, I was going to post today anyway but I originally had something else in mind - I managed to polish up that mixtape that's been sat on my drive for a few weeks now so that got bumped up the schedule. Same theme as always: this is a bunch of tracks that I can't find legally streaming (though that's not quite 100% true this time around!) But I'd still like to share them, and try and get a little creative at the same time.

So what's the theme this time? Well, just a selection of my comfort tunes - the kind I can come back to when I need a little bit of a break. There's no real genre limit here, but it does lean heavily on the IDM / Ambient side especially towards the end. Some of my choices didn't actually make it in so I've got a second list for a potential sequel sometime soon. Full track list and breakdown after the player!



Tracklist:
Takako Minekawa - Milk Rock (Cornelius Remix)
HASYMO - Weather
Gimmik - From A-5310 To TW2 7Q7
Console - Conti.nue
Rei Harakami - Come Here Go There
Kensuke Ushio - Fire Witch III
Agraph - Quietude
Mitsuto Suzuki - The Sheep That Lived A Million Times
Hiroshi Yoshimura - View From My Window

Like an old friend. Like a warm wraparound. Like a Sunday morning where you wake up and it's raining. We kick off with Cornelius' remix of Milk Rock, showcasing my favourite sound of his - a fusion of Shibuya-kei and quirky electronics, I can never get enough of that intro. It gets surprisingly heavy in parts with lavishings of IDM-style breakbeats, but overall a lovely and smooth mood setter. HASYMO follow, a revived line-up of the Yellow Magic Orchestra. They provided some tracks for the second Appleseed movie, which all have amazing soundtracks regardless. YMO's reputation proceeds them, having already been huge influences in the world of electronic music since the late 70's - I adore the sound that they have with Weather, it's one of the few tracks that I knew would be in this mix when I started coming up with track list ideas for it, that Swedish(?) vocal really gives it a bit of a Tangerine Dream feel too, especially tracks from Exit.

It's not long before we enter IDM territory though, with a tune I already talked about earlier - and I'm just going to paste what I said last time because it's all still applicable! If, like me, you also enjoy the Aphex Twin sound circa Richard D. James album then the album that From A-5310 To TW2 7Q7 is from - (Back To Basics) will very much appeal to you. It's much close in style to the work μ-Ziq was putting out in the late 90's on Lunatic Harness, I could live in this little microcosm of sound forever, it's very beautiful but fleeting. A more recent addition next, I fell madly in love with Console's 14 Zero Zero a while ago now, the EP its from is super solid and features the track I've chosen, Conti.nue as a B-Side. I've got a lot of love for this style of DIY skeletal chill kind of electronic, another tune that I knew would make an appearance here.

A return to more up-tempo territory with Rei Harakami. I've talked at length about how much I like Harakami's work and his signature electronic piano sound - naturally I had to go with one of my favourite examples from [Lust] with Come Here Go There. [Lust] is my overall favourite Harakami work still, but my heart will always put Pone as my all time favourite of his, a fantastic talent gone too soon. Another recent addition next with a 2-in-one deal from Kensuke Ushio, both under his real name and the Agraph alias. He seems to be using his actual name more often when making soundtracks, as is the case with my first choice - Fire Witch III from the Boogiepop 2019 OST. It was that OST that turned me onto his work, as bot his solo albums under the Agraph name have a similar style to them. I love the weaving of lush electronics with subtle glitches and other IDM-adjacent elements - which hopefully is on full show by the time we transition to Quietude.

An ambient duet to see us out, first with Mitsuto Suzuki. Better known for working on Final Fantasy OSTs, his two solo albums are a treasure trove of electronic in a similar style to the other songs in this mix - they're not all fully ambient like this one. It can be a little hard to find but I recommend seeking it out, there are odd tracks on YT such as Clear which should give a pretty good first impression. That's a big reason why I do these little mini-compilations in the first place, to shine a light on obscure and otherwise hard to find tracks! We round out with a piece from the iconic Music For Nine Post Cards from Hiroshi Yoshimura. View From My Window is a divine piece of ambient, one that embodies Yoshimura's sound philosophy around this time. Relatively short considering the vast breadths that Ambient tracks can stretch to, it's a gorgeous capstone to this selection.

And that'll be all for today, I'll be back soon enough with the post that was *supposed* to go here, but in the meantime I hope that you enjoy this selection and hopefully find some artists to check out as a result. Until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Monday, 4 April 2022

Friday's Sounds

Another month, another chance for me to drop a bunch of recent purchases on you. Not sure how much longer that will be the case though, the announcement of Bandcamp Fridays continuing into 2022 ominously stopped at 'May', and with the recent acquisition news it's entirely possible that they will stop then too. But let's not dwell on that, instead lets take a look at my digital bag! This time around I had a pretty solid idea going in and ended up picking up a whole heap of records you could quite easily put under the 'IDM' umbrella, let's take a look.
Charles Sheeler - Windows (1952)


Starting with something that's been on my wishlist for ages at this point, what was seemingly Arovane's final album - Lilies. Arovane's work is a very delicate touch compared to some other operators in the 'IDM' world - there are some tracks from Tides that wouldn't sound out of place on the trip-hop style parts of the Silent Hill OSTs, and the same is true here, quite fittingly with Tokyo Ghost Stories being the most like that, but it appears early on too - after an ambient intro you enter that same sound space with Windy Wish Trees. It's just after that the the album really hits its stride for me though - the twinned approach of Passage To Nagoya and Cry Osaka Cry is divine. Osaka is still my favourite of the bunch, but the title track comes close - I've picked that for today as I've already posted Osaka before and I think it also does a very good job of demoing Arovane's relatively soft but engaging sound.



Getting a little deeper into the realms of obscurity we have Karsten Pflum, a name I'm pretty sure I've heard before but may be getting confused with Abfahrt Hinwil. At any rate, a lot of artists like this have put their work up on Bandcamp now that the original labels are long defunct (Worm Interface in this case) which I always like to see. Tracks is a very fun album, one that explores the more 'fun' side of IDM - think Plaid and co. and you'll end up in the same area of sound. It's been a long time since I added something like this to my collection, as someone whose favourite AFX tracks are the super melodic ones, I can't help but grin at tracks like Te that fully embrace that lovely squelchy electronic sound. Very impressive for a debut, beautifully balanced between abstract and melodic, it's fast entered heavy rotation for me. Thankfully Karsten has plenty of other releases to get stuck into so I will have plenty to come back to in time.



Rolling back to 'Something I've been meaning to pick up for ages' once again for this next one, I think I first heard this track on some kind of mix or compilation - and after seeing a Metamatics album be one of the many 'Xth Anniversary' releases of other IDM records by Lapsus Records in their Perennial Series, I wish listed a couple of them for future reference. And the wait, while a little too long perhaps, had been worth it - coming back to Vanishing Point was like falling in love all over again, I just can't get enough of the vibe here. It's quite far removed from what comes to mind when I think 'IDM' but I'm sort of beyond labels at this point. I highly recommend NeoOuija in general - it's a very refined experience, even at times where it gets a little out there as with the off-kilter melodic passes on So Many Ways. If you're after more of the same feel as Vanishing Point though, look no further than Beautiful Mutations to enter that hi-tech lounge zone once more.



Ending now with the release that made me decide to go all in on the IDM stuff this time around, flicking through n5MD's back catalogue and I found plenty to grab my attention, the label has a pretty impressive roster. Loess' self titled debut has a fairly unassuming cover but it's at least sonically appropriate - this album dwells a lot more on the darker, slightly melancholic side. Not to say it's super dreary or anything, in fact I'd say there's a bit of warmth to it - take opening track Chariv Canopy for one, it's fairly short but serves as a fantastic intro to the album as a whole, and tracks like Pleuston also evoke that sort of 'Artificial Intelligence' sound to a degree, though not quite as bleepy as the Warp originals. Another reason I've chosen the very first track is because the entirety of this album is designed to flow together - a bit of a rarity for this kind of electronic. It makes for an interesting experience, as someone who usually shuffles my entire collection doubly so - I've had it on in the background while writing and it's almost totally seamless.



And that'll be all for this time, I have a bit of free time over the next couple weeks so I'm going to try post a little bit more than usual - perhaps even finish up some of those longform ones, it has been a while after all. Still, I hope you've enjoyed this month's entry - I'll be back soon enough with more but until then, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Monday, 28 March 2022

Electronic Immersion

I'm batting around ideas for a new mixtape type deal, I settled on a theme pretty early on but it's gotten a little broader with time. Like most of my mixtape experiments it's mainly going to be tracks that I can't find legit streams for, but there are plenty of others that are in the running that might make it, but they also might not. This post is half to help me make my mind up and half to put the tracks out there anyway on the off chance they don't make it. Let's go.
Janet Fish - Five Tall Glasses, Afternoon (1975)

Some Dopplereffekt to start with, fine purveyors of hi-tech electronics for many a year now. The cover for Cellular Automata will likely look a little odd on your screen - the close knit lines of the cover will make Moiré patterns (though on preview it looks like the tiny version of the cover on the Bandcamp embed has lost the effect, head to the main Bandcamp page to see the effect!). As for the record itself, it's more Dopplereffekt - I don't mean that to sound flippant or anything, they've totally honed their sound by this point: cold and clinical electro. To the surprise of no one, the more ambient cuts are my favourites - technological feasts like Ulams Spiral and Exponential Decay. Isotropy probably tops the list though, I knew from the lush sweeping intro that it was going to be - gorgeous stuff.



Bit of a left turn with my next choice, it is one that definitely isn't going to make the cut because I've already used it twice (I think) so far on other tapes. It does inform a lot of the choices I'm making with the sound direction of the upcoming one - I have a deep love for this very specific kind of early 00's electronic, that sort of downtempo style that I used to label 'Coffee Shop Electronic'. The Tusen Takk Rework of Drop is a surprisingly electronic turn from the usually Indie Kings Of Convenience, but then again this is just before Erlend Øye released his first solo effort which was one big collaboration with various electronic musicians so there is probably some cross contamination there. Very much in that Röyksopp vein (again, no surprise there given Øye's collaboration with them on their first album Melody A.M.), Øye's vocal really suits this kind of vibe and I wish he'd explored that electronic sound of his debut album a little bit more.



In keeping with the theme once again, a little bit of short and sweet from Gimmik. One of my more recent finds thanks to a couple of old experimental compilations, Gimmik's stuff is often very lovely - I've picked up a few album's worth but not actually mentioned too much of it. (Back To Basics) was my first proper full length listen and is a greta jumping in point. If, like me, you also enjoy the Aphex Twin sound circa Richard D. James album then this album will very much appeal to you. Really, the whole album is a sort of amalgamation of all things IDM, there are shades of AFX in there, a touch of Flashbub perhaps, and on tunes like L'Appel Des Cors and my choice for today it's much closer to the work μ-Ziq was putting out in the late 90's. I could live in this little microcosm of sound forever, it's very beautiful but fleeting.



And that'll do it for this slightly eclectic selection for today, of the three I'd say that the Gimmik tune is the most likely to appear in this eventual mix if I get around to making it - I have some free time coming up so time will tell. At any rate, I hope you've enjoyed these selections, I'll be back soon enough with more, Bandcamp Friday is looming as well so look forward to that! Until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Friday, 25 March 2022

An Ambient Excursion

Nicholas Roerich - Mount Of Five Treasures (Two Worlds) (1933)


Making my way through the old Bandcamp listings to pre-arrange my cart for the upcoming Friday, the wish list is a bit scatterbrained but there are moments of synchronicity there. I think I'm going to grab a boatload of IDM stuff this time around, but I also have a pretty big section of Ambient releases there too, which isn't a million miles away in the grand scheme of things. So I figured I'd talk a little about them today, it's on of my favourite genres after all.

Starting off with some Carbon Based Lifeforms, another entry in the 'this has been recommended to me so much but I've never checked it out' list. I did try and dip my toe into some of the ambient things I had lined up a little while ago, but they were all quite long, which I understand is kind of the point and all but it does make the task a little daunting when you have 10 15 minute tracks lined up. On that same note, Arecibo takes a fair bit of time to 'get going' as it were. Again, totally daft when you're talking ambient music but hopefully you can see what I mean. Aside from that though, it's very pretty - suitably spacey given its namesake and it's one of many tunes making me want to take up making my own ambience once again.



On a similar note, the work of Hiroshi Yoshimura isn't far away whenever I get into this sphere. A prolific name in the world of Ambient and enjoying a resurgence in popularity thanks to the internet at large and from Light In The Attic Records attaining the rights to re-issue some of his works to make them more accessible. Yoshimura's work can get a little New Age at times, especially his later entries which can sound a little dated as a result - but I just adore the sound he has for the first 5 or so albums. The man has a very extensive back-catalogue, but the records available through Light In The Attic are a great starting point - Music For Nine Post Cards is his debut and is a touch less New Age styled than the one I've picked today, but both it and Green are must haves for any Ambient collection.



And finally, some more from Hinako Omori, a recent addition to my listening rotation after appearing on some compilation work. Her new album A Journey... came out not too long ago and I've been keeping tabs on the singles as they come out. There's an interesting move towards spoken word and vocals in general on it - my favourites being the The Knife-esque pitch bent self duets (but I am a sucker for any and all distorted vocals so I will admit I'm biased). Title track 'A Journey' is a perfect demo of this and also shows off my favourite sound of hers as well - cut from the same kind of cloth as early Oneohtrix Point Never, drenched in arpeggios with a cosy analogue hum. It's not quite as high tech sounding as OPN though, Omori's work is a lot lighter and has this lovely floating feeling to it.



And that'll do it for this time, I was tempted to put a couple OPN tracks on the end here but I figure I can hang onto those until next time. I hope you all enjoy this very relaxed instalment, I don't often go full ambient like this but I do really enjoy it. I appreciate it isn't everyone's cup of tea but I'll be back again soon enough with another entry. And of course, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Monday, 21 March 2022

Charity Run 03 - Degaussing

Hey all, another quick one for Monday - meant to put this one up last week and unfortunately time is a factor here. Another charity single, but with a twist this time: it's not really a 'single' and the charity part is sort of external, more on that in a minute. SDEM is the focus of today, one of the few musicians I know IRL but haven't actually talked about on here as of yet. His work is very firmly rooted in the 'IDM' world but on the opposite end of the spectrum to the stuff I normally post under that umbrella - more akin to Autechre's later work than my recent melodic streak.



The Deguass mixtape is pretty much a crash course introduction if you're not familiar, it comes in thick and fast. It is a free download, per the Artist's request in lieu of payment, consider donating to the Voices Of Children chairty - there are links on the Bandcamp page to that and several other charity resources. The mixtape will be taken down after a month, which as of today gives you another 3 weeks to get hold of it. In addition, any proceeds from SDEM's other releases will also be donated to Voices for the rest of this month.

While I'm here (and just so this page isn't a dead embed in a month's time), I thought I'd cover some of SDEM's catalogue. We'll kick off with what was the first SDEM release I heard, the Index Hole EP on CPU Records. If you're coming to this post after the one-month deadline for the mixtape has passed, then this EP equally serves as a great intro. If you've dipped into Autechre's later discography then hopefully my comparison in the opening paragraph rings true, there's also potentially a dash of Clark-esque intensity in there, albeit less 'gritty' than Clark's work.



SDEM works bring that same sort of dystopic, oppressive feel that Zamilska does, especially on 6448 as above. But the rest of the EP orbits all around the 'IDM' sphere, opening track Arc Rail is by comparison a much more traditional affair, it has that 'Drill & Bass' sense to it. It's a much more intense listen as a result, but balanced with some lovely melodic touches means it's not out and out abrasion.



But if that's your bag, there's some of that on here too. We've been steadily getting more expeirmental with my selections, and that culminates in the mangled Mitherer. If that Autechre comparison wasn't 100% apt before this point, it sure will be by now. Not my usual go-to for sure, but sometimes it's nice to get absolutely dissolved by sound.



And that'll be all for today, I'm going to try and drop by again with another before week's end but I hope this is enough to tide you over in the meantime. Until then, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Continue?

Hey all, just a quick one to tide you over for today, Sean Seanson is back at it again with another 'Club Playstation' Mixtape, beautiful slices of era ephemera in which Sean does his utmost to take a deep dive into that Playstation sound, I covered the first volume a little while ago. There is no singular genre that takes the crown - across the three volumes we've dabbled in House, Techno and of course, Drum & Bass. Volume 3 continues that trend, with once again some choice deep cuts from the library. Highlights include tracks from Square's street racing RPG Racing Lagoon - I've posted a couple from that OST here before actually, the whole thing is a super stylish experience and the OST is a deliciously 90's mixture of jazzy breaks and House grooves.

It opens with yet another cult classic advert for the console, this time the 'I have lived' one. It's got a certain charm to it, and is also much less surreal than Chris Cunningham's Mental Wealth one from last time (I've skipped over it for the embed below, but it's definitely worth a look). From there it's a whirlwind tour of the little grey box's library - kicking off with some vintage FromSoftware in the form of Armored Core, a series with plenty of great soundtrack entries. Fans of current FromSoft games will find themselves in similar territory with the choral accompaniment, but unlike in your Souls-like games, there's a thudding 4/4 backing it up!


Fast forward to 14:48 or so if you want to get to my favourite section, three back to back slices of primo jazzy D&B style stuff. If you're at all a fan of Moving Shadow's output as I am, you will find a lot to like here. And that's a massive part of the appeal of these mixes for me, Sean's pulled some right corkers out for this one, I'd never even heard of Aironauts before this mix! The tune in question that Sean's chosen comes out sounding like a blend of the E-Z Rollers work, the rolling jungle of tracks like RS2000 mixed with the jazzier parts of Weekend World , quality stuff.

From there the South Yokohama theme from Racing Lagoon takes us in a cooler, more Gran Turismo-esque direction. A great intro to the soundtrack, seek out the whole thing if you like that one - it's pretty beefy at a massive 2CDs and 62 tracks. Cap that all off with a little bit from Sheep Dog 'n' Wolf (as Sean recently covered on his channel) and that whole section is just a treat to listen to. Not to repeat myself but once again that only highlights Sean's selections - who'd have thought there was a great piece of D&B tucked away in a Looney Tunes game of all things? Such is the wonder of the PS1 era!

And of course, what would a Club PS mixtape be without the token licensed song? This time it's Sasha with Xpander - a popular tune in its own right regardless, but I'm willing to bet it's hard wired to Wip3out in more than a few folk's heads. There's still so much more to delve into as well, I've been slightly tempted to try my hand at it myself in all honesty. If Sean is reading this and taking recommendations - the soundtracks to Need For Speed III and IV have some real gems on, and the soundtrack to Tomorrow Never Dies has some pretty chill stuff on there, maybe a bit too chill for the club vibe but certainly worth checking out!

That'll be all for now, I'll be back soon enough with more but I hope you get as much fun out of this mix as I did, and be sure to check out Sean's channel for more of them - and some interesting deep dives into the world of the Playstation (and as of recently, the Dreamcast too!). Until then, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Digital Deep Dives

Falling down the rabbit hole once again, I am back with another tale of random stuff I've found on my travels around the 'net. We're once again dipping into the world of the Serial Experiments Lain fandom - an anime series from 1998 that only seems to have gotten more prophetic about technology with age, combine with some some incredibly visceral visuals and excellent soundtrack choices and you have the recipe for a cult classic. The unique atmosphere of Lain still inspires creative works to this day (no doubt helped by recent anniversiary events): everything from fanart, albums and EPs to even whole websites, one of which even emulates the PS1 game in its entirety.

Naturally, it's the albums we'll be focussing on here - these take many forms given the themes and visuals of the series: incredibly abstract, lush ambient, face-melting breakcore and of course, your more traditional 'IDM' sound all get represented across the various fan made productions out there. We'll be going fairly middle of the road here with the latest addition to my collection of fan works in Virtual Cyberia Experience. Cyberia is the name of a nightclub in Lain, so you might expect it to be in the style of the techno stuff made for the series by Chikada 'JJ' Wasei and others. While it's not quite the same as those primo pieces of 90's tech, the team behind this one does a decent job of updating things in their own way for the first quarter or so. An early highlight is Matterflow, which wastes no time in getting down to business. Fully embracing that 90's vibe a la ThorHighHeels, please enjoy some breaks that would be right at home playing next to some low poly VJ visuals.



Ther person behind most of the tracks on this compilation, Neurolucifer, isn't totally unkown to me though, they previously appeared on another Lain fan compilation - Wired Sound For Wired People. By contrast a much more experimental record, exploring noise and minimal atmospheres fairly regularly, they're all thematically appropriate for sure. Neurolucifer's contribution is one of the more conventional tracks on here - I don't mean that as a knock or anything, part of the reason this one stands out so much is that it is that in a sea of experimentation. It's pretty much what I'd expect from a pitch of the concept, of course a Lain themed compilation has to have some IDM infused stuff on it. Mesh fits that bill to the T, it reminds me a lot of some of the stuff that comes out from Touched Music - not too wild with snare rushes or anything, but certainly more techy than your standard electronica affair.



Some contributions play in the space in interesting ways - Navi starts out fairly haunting, but by the midpoint becomes a kind of trap infused remix of an Operating System tour theme, which is again very fitting considering the naming of the track. The switch up at around 1:20 reminds me a little of the more melodic ambient pieces Mike Morasky made for the Portal soundtrack with the similar hi-tech arpeggios. These two selections also do a really good job of being 'inspired by' without relying too heavily on the source material - you don't need any knowledge of Lain to enjoy them - there are a few samples from the source mateiral here and there but they're more like subtle nods than anything, they won't stand out as particularly out of place even if you don't recognise them. Some of the fan works out there don't strike this balance as well, but I sympathise as it's something that I too have stuggled with when making my own productions, it's a fine line to walk between paying homage to your influences and avoiding coming across as overly pandering.



Which brings me back around to the other inspiriation for this post, it wasn't supposed to be all Lain stuff but I added some to pad things out, to make up for me having to source this through less professional means. Another random artifact I found on my travels, one from a super small scale Japanese label that I can't find much info about called 'Aerophonon'. They only had 14 releases and each one is some kind of remix album/EP of game music, originally on CD but as of 2014 or so you can get most of them for free from their site, which makes this actually fairly easy to get your hands on these days (I'll link it later). We don't upload music directly to the site anymore though, so I've had to go with a YT embed for this one. It's for the full EP but I've timestamped it to my track of choice.

Hyuponia is made up of tracks from Klonoa, another cult classic but this time from the videogame world. As with the Lain pieces, you don't need to know anything about the source material to appreciate - my first choice of the lot is the Howling Desert Dub, which comes out sounding like a slightly dubby Ulrich Schnauss track, surprisingly heavy given the cutsey mascot platformer source material. Honorable mention also to the final track Turn In as well, again quite a hefty tune with some thundering bass behind it, something about it reminds me of all the various 'chillout' stuff I was consuming circa the early 00's, I think there's the spirit of that sound running through as an undercurrent. Lovely stuff, and you can get it yourself for free from the label's own page here, along with all their other releases - FLAC or MP3.



And that'll be all for now, this turned out a little longer than I originally had planned but I think it's worked out OK, sort of a return to form as well with me using a not-art image for the first time in however long - the art I used for this one is by Lain's creator Yoshitoshi ABe, taken from the original run of the An Omnipresence in Wired artbook for those curious, get a load of all that vintage tech! Hope you've enjoyed this small online excursion with me, I'll be back soon enough with more but until then - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF