Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Playing catch up (November's Friday Results, continued)

Yes, I am well aware it's December, but between tech issues™, life™ and being a li'l sick for the first time in a long while over the weekend I am way behind schedule. An entire month later, here I am finishing up the November's Bandcamp Friday scoops. To be fair, it was always going to be two parts because November was a particularly big entry but I never expected it to be delayed this much. But at any rate, let's get stuck in.

Maynard Dixon - November in Nevada (1935)

Keeping in theme with heavily delayed, here's an artist I've been meaning to post here for months - Sound Synthesis. Long enough that I don't quite remember how they came up in my recommendations, but I knew from the get go I was going to enjoy pretty much everything I'd hear from them. Much like E.R.P., it's that very specific kind of spacey electro that really really appeals to me. There are releases where the two are quite close in terms of sound, on Orbital Frequencies though, Sound Synthesis does a fantastic job of carving their own image. I was torn between choosing Thinking Of You or this track - this one keeps that hi-tech vibe but feels a lot brighter than the other electro I've posted in this vein in the past. Lovely stuff.

I got around to picking up some more from Sense too, another artist on the more obscure side of the IDM world. I've gone back to A View From a Vulnerable Place this time, his debut - coming to us from Neo Ouija circa 2001 originally, I knew what I was getting into from those facts alone. It's a label with a short, sometimes sparse release history but equally is home to some real quality among those few. Coming back to this LP, it's perhaps a little generic in parts, but it is the better part of 20 years old by now and as you all know by now I have a lot of love for the genre either way.

There's still plenty to get at here though, the main barrier to entry is going to be the length of a lot of these tracks which average around the 6 minute mark. The track I've chosen, View From Another Place, is no exception to this rule, clocking in at a hefty 12 minutes. It is by far and away one of the standouts though, despite me saying it suffers from being generically IDM, this one in particular sounds quite a bit different from the rest of the LP. Among the classic juxtaposition of broken beats and airy synths are lots of lovely delicate touches and flourishes that make it a joy to listen to.

Swinging from hi tech to something comparatively lo-fi - Komëit have been on my radar for a while, hot off the heels of my lo-fi dive into the world of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone I was ready for more. Komëit's work is a lot less raw than CFTPA's, but still carries that unmistakable bedroom production. Following a tried and tested formula of simple, sampled guitar backed with these tinny drums that lovingly contrast with the acoustic elements. Top with some distant, incredibly softly spoken vocals and I don't think you could come up with a finer recipe for a indie electronic pop record from 2000.

It can be a fairly intimate experience, sometimes cinematic in parts, I've very much enjoyed my time with it. As if to illustrate how thorough the formula is, I wrote the above with the intention of posting Thanks + No, but changed my mind just now to Don't Call and I haven't had to alter a single word. Don't Call is the track I first heard from the duo actually, and I think is a fantastic intro to the album as there's a lot going on beyond my basic description above. The rest of the album comes highly recommended if you like this one naturally, you'll find yourself in familiar sonic spaces throughout!

And that'll be all for this quick roundup of last month's scoops, I still feel like I need to take a deeper dive into the other releases I mentioned in the prelude post, but in the interest of catching up I think we can swing back around to them some other day. It's been pretty enjoyable to write this up after my little break, doubly so as I didn't really get to immerse myself in these records too much before wading into the sea of tech issues - it's been a bit like putting on an old jacket and finding a bit of cash in the pocket! I'll be back soon enough with more but until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Thursday, 1 December 2022

Flying Visit 2

Monique Orsini - Untitled (from Collection Resonance) (2011)

Another quick one to tide things over - I'm probably not going to get my last Bandcamp Friday roundup done before the next one comes around! No matter, that just gives me even more to talk about as and when. I've got a couple others in mind as well, I'm going to see if I can finish them up and schedule them out over this weekend. In the meantime, I've been drawing up a list for this upcoming (and final) BC Friday of this year. I don't think it's going to be as big as last times, but it is shaping up quite nicely.

I've been diving back into the archives and seeing if there's anything major I've missed - and n5MD makes up quite a significant chunk of that, they keep coming out with albums faster than I can pick them up! A great roster of artists and a fairly complete archive of their entire label on BC means that I have plenty to go at for a long time to come. I've gone way back to the very first thing I picked up from the label, before I really looked into them and saw that they were the current home of many of my favourite artists operating in the 'IDM' sphere. Light As A Feather is an album I found way back in the Grooveshark days. There are a few tracks that always stand out to me from it, and I'm surprised I haven't posted Resonance as of yet - it embodies the sound I think of when I remember this album, a unique kind of gritty yet airy IDM. This one in particular reminds me of some of Clark's work, albeit a little lighter on its feet than the sometimes grinding melodies of Clark.

Keeping things in an IDM style lane for now, with another cut from Touched Two, the massive charity compilation I've mentioned a few times now. I am still no closer to plumbing the entire depths of it's 200+ strong tracklist, but every time I come back with more gold. There's no shortage of big names on the comp, but I'd like to shine a light on Ochre - another discovery from my Grooveshark days, go figure. Ochre is the one who actually put this compilation on my radar way back when with Rowing to the Riverhead. The player on the original post is broken now, so I thought why not talk about it again here? A lovely meld of glitchy percussion and gorgeously smooth melodies, if you are at all a fan of IDN, you will find yourself in good company. My only complaint is the same one from that past post - I would have liked to have spent a little more time in this space.

And that'l be all for today, another short one I know - but I promise I will be back soon enough with more. After all, like I mentioned up top I owe you all a full breakdown of last month's Bandcamp scoops, and I will be adding even more to that come tomorrow! Until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Saturday, 26 November 2022

Flying Visit

Domenico Gnoli - Unbottoned Button (1969)

Apologies for the big gaps once again, I've been busy and not really felt like writing too much. I've been keeping notes on tracks I do want to talk about though, so let's get stuck in. I've been revisiting HEALTH's Death Magic once again, it's a record I love a whole lot. There are a couple of tracks on it that break with how I remember the full thing though - when I think HEALTH, I picture their noise-infused sound with lyrics streaked with nihilism. LIFE however, feels much more lighter in execution.

The noise element is still there with that deliciously distorted opening hook, but the delivery and lyrical content here feels much more... indie, for want of a better term, The kind of track that would break onto the radio every now and then - the chorus of "I don't know what I want, but I know that I don't know what I want" being that kind of clever rhythmical wordplay that is catchy as all get out. It's a feel it shares with LA LOOKS, a track that actually did appear on some indie compilations of the time.

Next is a track I've talked at length about in the past, the closing track for The Chemical Brothers' Push The Button: Surface To Air. Coming back to this album has been a bit of a mixed bag, I loved it way back when a friend loaned the CD to me way back when but some of the tracks have fallen prey to overplaying. Tracks like The Big Jump and Galvanize for example. Now that isn't a knock on the album, hell, it's not even the Chem. Bros' fault - those tracks have just been licensed and soundtracked a million times since release.

But that's maybe why I've fallen in with tracks like Surface To Air. It's a masterclass in the way the Bros build up tracks - perfectly placed as the final track of the album, it really feels like a complete journey over the 7 minute runtime. It takes a little while to get going, but I can't help falling in love all over again come around the 1 minute mark. It doesn't leave you hanging for the entire runtime, it only takes until roundabout the halfway mark for the full effect to come into play. signposted with a lovely almost post-rock-esque crescendo. And even then it's not done, adding a lovely bass line not long after and continuing to evolve over the rest of the runtime! It's a fantastic piece, frustratingly only available on the premium Soundcloud legitimately so I'm including a YT player as well for the full thing.

And that'll be all for today, I am going to try and be a little more active soon as things are winding down, I have plenty to write about but it is finding time that is the issue! I may change tack and do some more of these smaller posts in future to mitigate that a bit, but it shouldn't be long before I can return to my usual ones. At any rate - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Charting the Stars

Getting around to writing this, I was waiting until all my tech woes were sorted out. A little bit of a retrospective this time, after seeing that Justice's Planisphere is now available as a separate release, I thought it'd be good to take a closer look at it once more. It's an interesting curio of the duo's discography - originally a promo CD for a Dior show back in '08, it'd see another release on the digital version of Audio, Video, Disco in its entire long form version (that replaced other bonus track Presence from the other versions) as well. And here we are again with another standalone release, coinciding with Ed Banger's new Bandcamp push, complete with updated artwork to boot. Let's take a look.

And speaking of that artwork, it should tip you off to the kind of experience you're in store for here. On the four parts of Planisphere, the Justice boys wear their hearts on their sleeves - a 17 minute epic that encapsulates all their influences. Personally I think the whole saga works better in parts than as one continuous stream, but I suppose the full length version is more in line with the very clear prog rock influence on display, see the extended jams of say, Tangerine Dream for reference.

Part I sets the stage - channeling the cinematic opening of Genesis with some dramatic piano stabs... for about 45 seconds or so before we land both feet firmly in that Cross-era sound. If you rinsed that record as much as I did back then you'll immediately hear the similarities. Personally I find Part I to be a bit plodding in terms of pacing for the first half but then again it is supposed to be the soundtrack to a fashion show so we are missing an integral part of the experience. That all changes in the second half though, where things take a very Valentine turn around the 3 minute mark - and it is brilliant.

Part 2 leans heavily on the duo's penchant for slightly spooky soundtracks (as they did previously with the Goblin sample for Phantom) at the very beginning, before settling back into that Valentine-esque groove. At the 50 second mark we start to take off and we launch back into something that shares more in common with the heavier sides of their debut LP, very Waters Of Nazareth in execution. The shortest of the Tetralogy, it does feel very much like a bridge between the two parts, especially given the sudden change at the very end that ushers in part III.

III continues that trend, leading with that grinding, almost engine revving sound that underpinned the Justice sound of the time. I think it might be my least favourite of the bunch, but not for any particular reason - looking over my 'played' stats for them all it is the lowest of the four but that's not a great metric to measure that by as Part IV is heavily skewing those numbers, but we'll get to that in due time. Because in reality, as good as the rest of the parts are, IV really, really steals the show.

And it wastes no time making that clear from the get-go. Opening with a frankly decadent display of guitar shredding. It is between this and SebastiAn's bootleg of Killing In The Name Of I was able to get a few metal-heads into electronic back in my high school days. The crescendo of this extended jam is up there as one of the finest tracks the duo have ever made, an exclamation mark at the end of an already killer tracklist. All these years later, the build up and break at 1:10 still makes me a little excited, catapulting me back to my days of chasing the next electro banger of the week. I've said in the past I'm not the biggest fan of guitar noodling, especially in electronic music - but I'll be damned if it doesn't work wonders here. For the final 3 quarters it is a non-stop barrage of furious fretwork, an absolute tour de force.

I might not have kept up as much with Justice or the rest of the Ed Banger crew, but coming back to tracks like this never fail to bring me right back to that heyday. Planisphere has aged a little more gracefully than some other examples of the era, partly because it's not out there to be this week's hot thing for the dance floor, but even so I'm sure that it'd still get the floor filled as it is. While not as pervasive as their debut album Cross, Planisphere is widely held up as one of Justice's finest hours, and hopefully as you've heard, rightfully so. Predictably the Vinyl version sold out pretty rapidly, folks on Discogs have been begging for it for literal years if you go back and look. It might have been in stock if I'd have posted this when I originally intended to, but between tech issues and Life™ it's been delayed slightly.

Even so, I hope you've enjoyed this little look back, whether you're a Ed Banger Veteran or this is your first time. I still have to write that full breakdown of last month's bandcamp Friday, and if I don't hurry up I'll end up having to do two back to back! I'm gonna try write a couple quicker ones in the meantime too but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.