Tuesday 31 July 2012

Drums And Bass IV: Back To The Future (Part 2)

You may have noticed that the last post kind of just finished. well that's because I looked at the pile of tracks I was gonna post and realised it wasn't gonna all fit in one. Continuing from where we left off, liquid funk is just about on the horizon.

First thing you'll notice about the tracks being produced around this time is they're a lot faster, both in terms of BPM and overall structure. Like in this track, it's only ten seconds before the first drop happens, and there's a breakdown just a little over a minute in, it's not that much shorter than the old school stuff at 5:44, but it's definitely geared more towards speed than jungle was.

Still, even with this new and speedier framework, there are still a few tracks floating around that have elements of the old school in them. This one's probably more famous for the massive Caspa remix, but the original is pretty sweet too. Reminds me just a little bit of some of Calyx's work.

Following suit is Commix, signed to Golide's Metalheadz label, they merge the old and new styles together and the result is pretty spectacular. The opening to their first LP, Call To Mind is nothing shot of amazing, mainly due to that stellar intro and the great sample work, but also because it nails everything I like about liquid funk and old school drum & bass in one track.

Back to the reason we're here, the newer stuff. Netsky used to be an electro house producer, so he fits in nicely with the melodic slant a lot of liquid funk has, and he does it really really well. There's some absolute gold on his self titled debut, but they've been posted enough already. Instead, here's one of my favourite unsung cuts from the LP

And finally, Chase & Status. They may have gone on a more mainstream approach on their second album, but More Than Alot has some of the best examples I have of liquid funk. I've already posted my all time favourites from this LP, but here's another I really enjoy. It's similar to that one BSOD track in that it narrates itself throughout, those little dashes of humour are great and don't detract from the track like you'd expect.

And there we have it, we've come full circle. We've seen new D&B, then the old, then back to new again. There probably won't be anymore of these as I've fallen out of touch with the scene again, regardless, Enjoy!

Can't Get Enough,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Drums And Bass IV: Back To The Future (Part 1)

I recently came into a fair amount of real old school drum & bass. like even older than the stuff I've put up before, we're talkin 1993 up in here. Now, opinions are usually divided about what's better, the old school or the newer 'liquid funk' style. Me, I like 'em both, and I'm gonna whip up a nice mixture of the two, starting with the old.

I can never escape Omni Trio, his production is always solid throughout his catalogue. My first introduction to his brand of drum & bass was the album Even Angels Cast Shadows, and because of that I was skeptical of how this was going to sound, being nearly 20 years old, how much had his style changed? A fair bit it turns out, Feel having some sick rave-styled machine gun stabs from the first break - compared to the lush, almost loungy piano keys and breakbeats that I know Omni Trio for. This one still has that well produced feel of those tracks though; it might not be as slick and modern sounding as OT's later work - but everything from the samples to the breaks has a lot of love behind it.

And of course, I have to include the classic that is Renegade Snares. It's just one of those tracks that is quality through and through. Also it's kinda like a bit of foreshadowing, that piano hook that kicks off the tracks and swings back in every now and then is now what I'd consider Omni Trio's trademark, and he does it really, really well.

I seem to have a thing for liking overlooked B-sides, the A-side to this EP Spiritual Aura is already another of those classics within the scene. But for me the highlight is the introduction to Rhythm. It's up there in my list of all time best intros ever, that effect is unlike anything I've ever heard before (it's apparently a unstretched pitch shifted drum loop) or since. The track as a whole is tidy but that little bit just steals the show, especially when it gets cut up and thrown in the mix throughout.

Of course now we end up in the transitional period, the sound's changed alright, but it ain't quite the liquid funk of today. Leading the pack once again here is Goldie with a slice from the amazing Timeless. It's pretty good at demonstrating the evolution, the drum programming's got a little bit more complex but stuff like the samples and rumbling basslines are still there alright. Speaking of drums, get a load of that 808 about a minute in.

One thing I didn't tell you about Weekend World the first time around is that there's plenty of conventional drum & bass strewn among the jazzy stuff I focused on last time. They're complete opposites in terms of sound to both the jazzy tracks from the album itself and the direction Goldie was taking things in, subscribing more to the old school style. But that's what you get from Moving Shadow, after all they did bring us the OT tracks from earlier.

As we head into the 2000s, things go quiet for a while. That is until Pudendum come along and bring D&B back to the mainstream. To their credit Hold Your Colour was a petty nice album but that's something for the next part to cover. Join me next time as we travel through the millennium to explore the depths of contemporary D&B.

Amen Brother,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday 23 July 2012

A Very Warped History 16: 2009

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In the last of the trilogy of finales, it is with both great pleasure and sadness I introduce you to the very last album entry of A Very Warped History. I wanted to take it all the way to number 20 with the whole Warp20 thing but it wasn't to be. It's taken me over two years to get to this point, so stick around as I wrap things up. Bibio is one of Warp's newer acts, although active for a while his big break came around the time of signing on to the label, culminating in the release of Ambivalence Avenue, my first exposure to Bibio (and 'Folktronica', another addition to my silly genre names list). The production is solid throughout, as the tracks explore a curious mixture of 70's inspired guitar licks and contemporary hip hop.

This exploration is ripe from the get go, with the title track featuring all of the above, with the added bonus of Washed Out style barely intelligible vocals. It does a good job of subscribing to the general 70's aesthetic, the hazy atmosphere no doubt helped thanks to Bibio's retro recording techniques. It's perfect in introducing the album, as it lays down all the structure and sounds that will make up the 11 other tracks here.

There are a couple points on the album where the contemporary hip hop element goes out the window and Bibio dons the full retro aesthetic. The first example isn't buried too deep in the albums track list, in fact it's track 2. I was unsure of it fist based on the descriptions, but the first listen was something special the funky wah-wah guitar that kicks off the track is present throughout, but the real highlight for me is the break at around 1:30 that plays the track out, specifically that killer bass line running alongside.

Bibo's said his favourite album of all time is Boards Of Canada's Music Has The Right To Children, and it shows. He covered Kaini Industries for the Warp20 (Recreated) compilation, and did a couple of similar ambient soundscapes on Mind Bokeh. There are a few shorter tracks on this LP that I think are the precursor to those soundscapes, albeit in a more acoustic fashion the first is All The Flowers which, to bring everything full circle, is referred to on More Excuses from Mind Bokeh

Like with Jealous Of Roses, there are times when the 70's aesthetics take a break. This time the hip hop elements are the focus, and it is by far one of the sweetest tracks on the album. in contrast to the duet of retro songs previously, this one takes a heavy electronic slant and is so different from everything before it I wouldn't be surprised if you thought it wasn't even from this LP. Saying that, the drop around 30 seconds in was an early highlight from my first sample, and the track only betters itself from there: the beats introduced around 1:40 are excellent and completely take over the remainder of the run time. Regardless of differences in sound, this is one of the best tracks here.

Likewise, we also get a duet of hip hop stuff this time around. And as with Fire Ant the track itself is very very sweet, as the main bass warble comes in and knocks you off your feet, which is all fine and good but once again the absolute highlight of this track is the breakdown-to-fade-out transition that Bibio nails consistently. Around 2:04 the track completely gets turned around, which is good because it keeps the whole thing fresh.

And finally we hit the most recognisable track here. Like Röyksopp's Melody A.M before it, some tracks from here were destined to be on advertisements one day as you'll hear a 1:27 here, which no doubt helped shift a fair amount of kindles. It definitely deserves it though, both halves of the tune are fantastic, the first reminds me of an old TV show I used to watch when I was a kid, and that transition around halfway makes it one of the best feelgood tunes I have in my entire collection.

After a long stint without, the LP finally revisits the sound of the title track, and is one of my favourites for sure. It feels like the culmination of all the LP's experimentation, and the evolution of the elements throughout is really something to hear: the main guitar hook comes and goes, various synthesized noises slide in and out of the mix and all manner of other things. Of note is the little soundscape on the end starting around 3:15, it's something special alright and probably wouldn't sound too out of place somewhere on Boards Of Canada's The Campfire Headphase.

Ambivalence Avenue is a proper good album, and I highly suggest you check it out. Also, while this is the last album installment from me, I'm not quite done with it yet, there are still a couple of leftovers I'd like to deal with, like I have done so far. And if the original idea I had for this series is still happening, my fellow writer Here should be taking over for his take on Warp, specifically the more modern side of things, we'll see how that plays out.

While Summer's Still Around,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Thursday 19 July 2012

48 Hours Of Electrics

I spent the last couple of days with a friend, and we spent a lot of that time waxing nostalgic about when we were beginning to explore Electro. We were lucky that it was around 2006-7, which is pretty much the time when every track out there was golden and new stuff was out every week or so. And after spinning them both on vinyl and from files I was feeling pretty inspired, so now I'm putting together another list of my Electro favourites, both old and new. An Electrospective if you will (sorry.)
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Vitalic's OK Cowboy is a stonking release, especially when you find out that three of the album's biggest tracks (Poney Part 1 & 2,La Rock 01) were originally recorded/released in 2001. They held up well enough not only to still be fresh when included on OK Cowboy in 2005, but like the whole album, is still bloody good even now.

I had a pretty terrible vinyl rip of Kavinsky's Teddy Boy EP for a long long time, it wasn't until I previewed it on JunoDownload that I realised what I'd been missing. I thought the rip I had sounded pretty good, so I was blown away by the DL, by far the highlights are the two Testarossa tracks. I love 'em both, but Nightdrive gets nowhere near as much press as Autodrive so that's my pick for this one.

I got turned on to Shinchi Osawa from his brilliant remix of Felix Da Housecat's Radio and never looked back. Pretty much all of The One is quality,and when I finally picked up the re-issue with a boatload of remixes on it, I was surprised to find this extended mix of The Golden on the tracklist. I was kinda disappointed at first 'cos I liked the original, but then I hit play.

I'd heard of Siriusmo through remixes and that, but never paid much attention to his EPs and such. Then when Mosaik dropped I decided to check him out. I've commented on his unique brand of electro and posted a couple of my favourite cuts from it before, so I'm just gonna cut to the chase and leave you with another nice bit from Mosaik

Likewise, I knew of Modeselektor for a while, but outside of a couple tracks here and there I could never get into their releases too much. I gave them another go around when Monkeytown was coming out and I was sold. The intro track left such a good impression I could have gone out and bought it then and been happy, the progression throughout is solid and the album as a whole is top notch, definitely one to check out if you missed it the first time around.

And that'll be all for today, hope you enjoyed my less eclectic mix of tracks this time, I can't promise it'll stay that way for much longer though!

The World Over,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday 16 July 2012

Warped Leftovers Three: Squarepusher - Big Loada EP (1996)

A quick one today as we hit up an EP I couldn't get my hands on in time for the main entries. I managed to pick this EP up about a year ago from a nice German bloke, and it contains arguably what is the Square man's most famous track, that is Come On My Selector. There's a bunch of other quality sprinkled throughout the 7 tracks here, so let's do this.

I'd heard of the opener a couple of times but never actually listened to it. The first minute or so is fairly slow, with just the occasional drum roll to mix things up. But that all changes around 1:30, where what will soon become the main hook of the track is dropped in spectacular fashion, followed by a liberal slathering of butchered beats before that hook comes smashing back into the mix. One of the 'Pusher's defining moments I'd say.

Retuning to his roots, Squarepusher drops a fuzzy sounding compressed drum loo, which we haven't heard from him since his debut Feed Me Weird Things. This is actually quite close to conventional drum & bass and Jungle starting with the MC (referred to in the credits as MC Twin Tub) with the scene's staple low quality mic at :45. It's a little short,but I think it works better that if it were an extended mix. Saying that, I think the ending could have been handled better.

Skipping over Massif (Stay Strong) 'cos I've posted it before, we get to the main event, the track everyone's here for: Come On My Selector. Like Aphex Twin's Come To Daddy, a lot of the popularity stems from the infamous Chris Cunningham directed video that you can watch HERE. Saying that, it's a very good demonstration of what Squarepusher does, as demonstrated by that sublime bass work at 1:33, and then again at 1:53. It's not my favourite track of his, but those parts make it more than worth the price of admission.

Playing us out is what is an underrated track from SP's catalogue. I think the main problem is that it doesn't grab you from the get go like most of the tracks on here. I'll admit I wasn't a fan of this one until like Rotate Electrolyte from Hello Everything I forced myself through it. And like Rotate Electrolyte, my opinion soon changed. The breakdown at 1:43 caught my attention, But the deal sealer for me was the same sounds that made A Journey To Reedham at 2:02, I love that sound so much. Unfortunately after about three and a half minutes they're gone, but the track's rebuild in that section is pretty great too, before ending with the same phonecall bits from Reedham.

There is a little interlude that rounds off the album, but it's only 50 seconds long so I'm not going to bother with it. Back to the EP: it's got plenty of gold on it, definitely some of the best Squarepusher has to offer in handy bite-size form. Give it a listen and get your hands on it if you can.

Il N'a Pas De Chance,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Friday 13 July 2012

Weekend Randomness

Hey guys

I probably won't have time to post anything, so here are some good tunes that came out this week. No particular order or theme, sorry!

Let's start with Justin Faust's new gem.

Vanguard's remix for the Tekken Tag Tournament remix contest, anyone that owned a Playstation probably played Tekken so there's no need to introduce it I guess.

An old guilty pleasure remixed by Cyril Hahn, it sounds really good, don't worry.

From Rusko's new EP : Thunder.

Directly from Australia, Moonchild's remix for Shelby Grey.

I'm not the hugest fan of The Bloody Beetroots, and I don't really know Gigi Barroco's stuff, but this was a pretty decent banger.


Thursday 12 July 2012

Slow This Down

Today's been a quiet one, been tracking down some demo cassettes. It's been nice though, after the past couple days I was ready for a little bit of doing nothin'. And that meant what a day off usually means for me: a bit of catch up on things I meant to do resulting in an art and sound binge. And it's that that I'll be taking select pieces from today.

After my last post about old school dubstep, I picked up the latest free EP dropped by Suspect and Stenchman (Together appearing as Suspicious Stench) cleverly dubbed The Fr33 EP and the opener is pretty special. It almost, just almost tops my all time favourite chilled dub track: Pangaea's absolutely stellar Router

Suspicious Stench - Faith In The Future

It's been a while since I've mentioned our Norwegian pals Röyksopp, this one's from The Understanding, which I initially thought was a lacklustre sequel to the now cult Melody A.M, but over time it grew on me. There's plenty of quality to pick from here, but this one's especially great for those do nothing at all kind of days

I can't quite make my mind up about Plaid, they have good songs but I can never listen to them one after another after another. That doesn't matter too much to me because I swear by the shuffle button, but regardless sometimes a track just grabs you you know? like Autechre's Nine before it, the spaced out echoes in this track meant that this jumped straight into my favourites list and will stay there for a very long time.

An old track I found buried in my library but thanks to the magic of shuffle came up again one day. I didn't remember who it was by, so after about a minute I check and I was surprised. It's a little known bit from Zombie Nation's debut Leichenschmaus The beats are pretty great but the icing on the cake for me is that vocoder. I loves me a good vocoder.

Last one is another from Pretty Lights. His debut album is very very sweet hip hop through and through that just hits the right spot for me, and the man himself is giving it out for free on his website so you can get it right now! It's a shame he moved away from it for the sophomore, but that's what second albums are for right? and there's still plenty of nice material in the fifteen tracks from Taking Up Your Precious Time anyway.

Future Proof,
-Claude Van Foxabt

Monday 9 July 2012

How to nicely start the week

Hey guys.

Some great tracks came out this weekend, here are those who really got on my mind.

I couldn't not start with this track. Frank Ocean gives us another track from his soon to be released album Channel Orange. A magnificient mix between poetry, hip hop, electro and jazz.

Louis La Roche is best known for his disco house skills, he diverges from his usual style here, going for something a bit more clubby/techno, still pretty strong though.

Pyramid decided to try his hand at Logic, he usually makes his tunes using FLstudio. For a first shot, that's pretty impressive! As usual, everything is about the atmosphere, the progression slowly getting to your guts...

Pilotpriest's back with some synths that'll keep your mind in the clouds for a few minutes, while slowly coming back to reality because well, it's monday.

Let's close this post with a catchy remix of Anoraak - Made-Up by the 3 guys officiating under the name of Les Loups.


Sunday 8 July 2012

Dubs Gone By

A while ago I was sifting through my dubstep collection, it's mostly older stuff before the whole 'brostep' thing happened, and listening to them again I found they are still quality tracks. This was meant to be a mixtapey type deal, but it decided to crap out and delete half of itself right before I went to post it. That and I'd like to revisit the old type of posting for this one to talk more about the tracks themselves.
I've mentioned before how the 'step pays homage to its reggae roots, there's no shortage of it flying around within the genre. The couple I've posted before put a more modern spin on the Dub sound, like replacing the organ melodies with bass rumbles instead. This one however, stays fairly true to the source material and is all the better for it.

And with that out of the way I'm gonna give a rundown of some gems I found during the making of the ultimately failed mixtape, first up is Caspa with the charmingly named Custard Chucker with some lovely wobbles suiting that title. And it actually DOES have a reggae style organ in it!

More reggae stylings to come as we pay a trip to Benga's neck of the woods have a gander at the couple of fine examples he has for us for us on his album Newstep. That main hook is damn catchy, and it manages to stay fresh throughout, especially when it starts to get cut up around 1:50.

Joker has gotten more popular in recent years, I have a spattering of his tracks here and there, and this is one f my favourites along with his remix of Snake Eater from MGS3. Following a similar path to Dubstep Dreams, this track is centered around a single hook and variations upon it, and like Dubstep Dreams it's incredibly catchy and overall just good dub

Rusko was one of my favourite producers way back in '08. That all changed around the release of his first album, and now the tracks he makes these days are geared towards the mainstream and just don't have that same vibe that his early productions had, and they remain quality examples even to this day. The evolution from Garage (the UK Garage that is, stuff like this track) is clear on this one, which is the kinda tunes I grew up with, and is something I'd like to see the scene revisit one day.

I can't really jive with much of the new dubstep scene, it's so far gone from the original sound that it's not even the same anymore. Saying that there are a few producers who stick to the old sound and do it well, or have evolved their sound in a way that makes it more modern, but also y'know, good. You can find quality in dubstep, you just have to look, or sometimes go backwards.

A Rainy Day,
- Claude Van Foxbat

Friday 6 July 2012

Zedd - Spectrum (Magna Remix) [Soundcloud Player broken as of 2020]

Hi there

Magna just released his entry for the remix contest Zedd started for his track Spectrum.

I'm happy to finally be able to post it, it's a terrific remix, very different from the original. Magna embraces dubstep with talent here, creating two very impressive drops, using that death vocoder I love, keeping his original sound while adding those sweet "madeonesque" harp notes that add so much to the whole thing.

Be sure to vote for him if you enjoy his work!


Tuesday 3 July 2012

Arcade High - The Art Of Youth

Good afternoon internet, I just stumbled across an album that I think you're gonna dig. It's by a one Arcade High and is summed up by the man himself as: "It's been described as a cross between the kinda of SynthWave we are used to, influenced by ‘80’s TV and Movie themes, and the adrenaline chaos of video game arcades a couple of decades ago." that got me thinking of Kavinsky. And Miss Kittin & The Hacker to a lesser extent, so I went and scooped myself a copy.

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Ok, so the cover art may have had a bit of an influence on me too, you know I love a good cover. After the chiptune-y and new wave melding of the intro, I was treated to this. It's more 80's than Kavinsky, a whoooole lot more. Whereas the K man is sort of a mash between New Wave and Electro this is a straight up love letter to the 1980's, as the first airy synth hits told me.

Speaking of lighthearted synths, I love me some good lines, and this track has them in spades. And this just happened to scratch my itch that I didn't know I had, as those keys twinkled away I just couldn't help but smile. And the break at 3:35 is pretty special those are some excellent pads right there in that little break. And the arpeggio that leads it back into the main mix is pretty stellar too.

Adding to my list of tracks called 1980 something (coincidentally featuring both Kavinsky and Kittin & The Hacker) is this little number. The beat kinda reminds me of Calvin Harris' Flashback but with the plastic drums and synthesizer working that we've come to expect from Miami Nights. I honestly don't own anything else like this in my collection.

It's just not an album without a downtempo interlude to break things up. And this is The Art Of Youth's answer to that. it's like if Washed Out started working with synths instead of sampling old disco records, at least that's the vibe I got from it. Anyway, it's very, very nice. You know I love me a good chilled number and this also has the bonus of featuring everything about the album I've come to love so far.

I'll leave you with this, a more upbeat number that was the track that initially sold me. I was drawn in by that title, which is damn sweet. The synths hit, and that made the deal sweeter. But the deal maker? that has to be hands-down (no pun intended) the claps. When that first one hits at 0:44 you know this ain't nothing but a good time.

So that's a quick rundown of Arcade High, I gotta say it pretty much fits the description he gave out with the info for it, and it is pretty damn special. I highly suggest you check it out, or even buy the album! I'll hit you up with the links now.

As We Were In '82,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Find Arcade High at:
Arcade High's Bandcamp
Arcade High's Soundcloud
Aphasia Records' Soundcloud