Wednesday 29 August 2012

A Very Warped Epilogue: Part Two

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Now we come to a whole bunch of stuff I picked up long after I covered them in the main series. There's some real gold stuff here; the beginnings of what would be the 'golden age of Warp. Except this time we're going to start with a release that wasn't on Warp, but leads nicely into the history of the Label itself.

Twoism is the LP that brought BoC to the attention of Warp, and they were signed on shortly thereafter. Despite this they released one final EP on their previous label; Skam Records. I snagged a copy from Discogs, it comes in a paper-thin card case, with only the words "Boards Of Canada" on it, as you can see above. However the picture doesn't let you see the embossed braille on the case (which also just says Boards Of Canada), foreshadowing future weirdness like on the Geoggaddi vinyl. Like Twoism, it serves as a precursor to the trademark BoC sound, with bits of more techno-styled tracks inbetween, give it a listen.

After this EP, the Boards also released an album on their own label Music70, Boc Maxima, but all 50 copies were only distributed to family and friends. However like the Old Tunes tapes it isn't that hard to find online, and a lot of the songs appear on other, later BoC releases, namely Music Has The Right To Children. But there are a few that are exclusive to this release, including one that is among of my favourites of theirs. Whitewater starts off fairly unassuming but at around a minute in, the main melody hits and in that moment it became an instant favourite.

Another exclusive that errs more on the techno side of things is Red Moss, that opening sting really shows off how much old TV and the National Film Board Of Canada (where they took their namesake from) influenced them. However it doesn't stay that way for long, and it soon becomes a techno driven number in the vein of June 9th from the Hi Scores EP, cascading beats and all.

Similarly, fellow Warp mainstay Squarepusher dropped his debut on AFX's Rephlex label. It's an eclectic mix of atmospheres, and is a perfect introduction to all things Squarepusher: the breaks, the bass guitar and the genre hopping are all present here. I'd even go as far to say that the opening track from it wouldn't sound too out of place on one of his later releases such as Hello Eveything or Just A Souvenir.

The trend I noted back in the Go Plastic entry for the 'pusher to put an ambient piece around halfway through his LPs seems to have started here. This track has the honour of being the first I heard from this album,and for dethroning both Tommib and Tommib Help Buss as my favourite ambient Squarepusher tracks. The progression is just perfect.

There's even a little bit of hip hop/trip hop stuff on Feed Me Weird Things, of the two I much prefer the darker sounding U.F.O's Over Leytonstone (in part due to that title), it's got an atmosphere that reminds me a little of cuts from Massive Attck's Mezzanine, there is a lot of variation throughout as sounds come and go into the mix, and even a little bit of a cheeky 303 at about 3:30.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to stop myself here, rest assured I have another part planned, I was going to put it on the end of this one, but it's big enough as it is. So instead, join me next time for what I'm affectionately calling the Aphex Twin blowout.

One Very Important Thought,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday 26 August 2012

A Very Warped Epilogue: Part One

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So here we are, the first of a final few installments of the warped posts, I can't say how many posts it will be but I digress. It's taken us a long time to get here and I wasn't sure how I was going to end it, but over the past couple of days I've been thinking, and this is what I came up with. I know the Warped Leftovers posts haven't been too popular, so instead I decided I would give my favourite tracks from the warp crew one final hurrah spanning a few posts.

A track I really wanted to include in the Incunabula overview, but decided it was too long, Windwind holds the same territory as 444, a long instrumental with an incredible haunting intro. Despite being from 1993, I'd say the track still sounds very futuristic, it's not incredibly complex but it more that does the job.

F.U.S.E's debut I mentioned previously is just as amazing, Incunabula and Dimension Intrusion both encapsulate my favourite elements from that early techno sound and are from the same year. It's a shame it's not track 1 on the LP, because that intro and bassline combo is bloody fantastic. In fact, I'd go as far to say as the entire {Artificial Intelligence} set of albums are worth your time.

Likewise, another of my favourite slices from Dimension Intrusion is the 13 minute epic Theychk. Again, there's not much complexity to it, but there's enough variation on that initial sequence to keep it interesting. especially when the samples come in and every so often a concerned voice asks you "What's wrong?".

Similar to Plaid, Seefeel are a band I've admired but could never get 100% into their releases. Their philosophy is great; to create electronic-esque soundscapes using acoustic instruments, there are a lot of sustained sequences and motifs throughout, which I enjoy from a technical standpoint, but not from a listening one. That isn't to say they don't have tracks I don't like however: I discovered this one through an ambient compilation (and was only available on that until it was included on the 2007 re-issue of their debut LP) and since then it's grown to have a firm place in my collection.

Another tune I really dig from them, taken from the Starethough EP (which the original CD pressing unfortunately suffers from CD Bronzing). I picked up on Spangle just before the whole Warp20 thing kicked off, and I just love the floaty, dreamlike nature of the track. An often overlooked gem if I do say so, especially considering most copies have been lost between the bronzing and the Warp warehouse fire.

And that covers up to 1994 in tracks I've missed out while documenting Warp's history. I would take it a bit further, but a few of these are long ones, so join us next time where I'll be covering Boards Of Canada's pre-warp release that got them signed to their current home, and a few other bits and pieces on the way..

Looking Back,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Thursday 23 August 2012

Music For Films

Concluding the mini-series is my list of tracks that I have on file for fictional soundtracks. This actually turned out to be a little more difficult than I thought it would because I'd posted many of the tracks that stood out to me the most in terms of soundtracking potential, but that was fine because that just means I get to make a whole new list!

Kicking things off I decided to go for a more lo-fi background approach; something that can be barely there in the background. That's when I stumbled across this gem again, I've often said I'd love for BoC's soundscapes to be longer, and this fulfils that. Unfortunatey it only exists in this live form, but the occasional crowd noise is a small price to pay for the quality.

Continuing the early 90's tecnho theme from before, I have a special place for F.U.S.E's (Further Underground Sound Experiments) one and only album Dimension Intrusion. It's a collection of a bunch of stuff Richie Hawtin did before donning his Plastikman moniker. While I don't much care for the minimal vibes of Plastikman, this LP explores a varied array of sounds, my favourite of course being the light and spacey sounding ones that are perfect for soundtracking.

Apparat's Walls was a lovely mix of atmospheres, and a lot of the more dramatic tracks are crying out for visuals to be attached to them, and this one is probably the best demonstrator of that. It all starts off pretty sweet, if a little subdued but that all changes as things get progressively more glitchy sounding and louder until that break around two minutes in. And then a whole new wave of intensity falls over the sounds, only for a short while before slinking back into the background in the lead up to the final fade.

Speaking of atmospheres, Mr. Oizo stirs up a lot of imagery for me, particularly cus from the Analog Worms Attack LP with it's rough, almost unfinished sound combined with the basslines present on AWA just makes me think of urban spaces. Monday Massacre from the Flat Beat EP (which I've posted before) illustrates this better, but the vibes in this one are largely the same.

A Quiet Evening,
- Claude Van Foxbat

Monday 20 August 2012

Music From Films

Reading about Tony Scott's unfortunate suicide got me thinking. He's directed a bunch of films I like and what is both one of my favourite films ever and one that I've analysed a whole bunch for my film studies exams; True Romance. No doubt my strength when it came to film studies was sound, I preferred analysing non-diagetic (fancy film speak for dubbed over) soundtracks because thanks to these posts I was good at deconstructing tracks and applying meaning to them. I'm hoping to do a little of that now, with some of my favourite soundtrack uses and then I'm gonna follow that with a post with some that I just can't help creating imaginary scenes for in my head.

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One of my favourite moments I found when I was searching for examples to assist in our final project was this little bit from Lost In Translation. It plays out pretty much how I'd expected from the sound, and captures that sense of bittersweet, longing melancholy perfectly. The shots in it are pretty great too, especially the transition to the neon soaked streets towards the end. Stellar stuff.

Similarly, I think Tommy B's soundtrack for Irreversible is absolutely perfect, his blend of his solo house work with the more ambient and atmosphere driven soundtrack pieces is spectacular, especially when it's combined like on Paris By Night. I referred to Irreversible a lot when building reference material, most of them refer to the conflicting nature of the soundtrack as heard when the house and ambient combine, and this track is no exception. That intro is just brilliant, swooping synths punctuated by a lone kick, until around 1:50 or so when it just effortlessly slides into a fully fledged house beat.

Bringing it back around to Daft Punk once again, their selected soundtrack for Electroma had some real gems on it, the most famous of which being Sébastien Tellier's Universe played over the bathroom scene. Now that scene is very powerful, and the song is great to boot, but Instead I'm going to put up another of my favourites from the soundtrack, a piece from the granddaddy of ambient, Brian Eno. I can see why they chose this for the soundtrack, the sound is menacing and that guitar is wonderfully haunting.

I have a thing for early 90's techno, I feel a lot of it is ripe for soundtracking and in my searches I came across the 1995 flick Hackers. And they seemed to have had the same idea. The film itself may not be all that great but that opening sequence is really something. And not just because of the tacky CGI title reveal either. Not just that but the OST is filled with prime tracks including Massive Attack's sublime Protection. The ethereal feel of the tune is great, but for me the defining moment is around 0:34 in that video, where the introduction of the beat is synced up with a cut to a shot of the cityscape.

And that brings this first part to a close, next time I'll be covering tracks that I can't help but picture on OSTs. It won't be as comprehensive as this because I won't have videos to link to and whatnot, but it should be a good one. And maybe I'll chuck in a couple pieces I chose for the actual film project I did earlier this year too!

You're So Cool,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Saturday 18 August 2012

Times Is Changed

Once again, I'm feeling just a teeny bit hippity hop today. Last time was pretty much a mish mash of a couple remixes I found and a mashup, but this time things should be a bit more coherent as luckily I have some new vendors of tracks to shower on you reading folk, a couple I found through YouTube of all places, and the other two are a little more well known in the 'hop world.

I found this first guy Knxwledge though the old 'Tube, and the version that was uploaded had the samples at the beginning and end cut off. The track already had a melancholy feel with just a tinge of nostalgia, but they sealed the deal for me. and like our good friends BoC, while this one is very short at 1:54 it is pretty much the perfect length for it, it certainly feels longer than that. Also, that main synth lines are giving me slight echos of 1983 and Los Angeles FlyLo too.

The second wasn't as clear cut as that unfortunatey, and I had to do some searching to find the name of both the track and the artist, and then a bit more when the first free (legal) download corrupted on me both times I got it, but it was worth it. That old school sample is downright fantastic, crackle and all. There is a trend for sampling old soulful tracks like this in most of the tracks I found, this was by far the best though. And it leaves me thinking a little of Röyksopp's Sparks.

Moving into the mainstream, we have a number from DJ Krush. One of only two tracks on the LP without a featuring... credit, Song 1 stood out to me because I had already heard Krush's Song 2 and had no idea there was a first. I really dig the mellow vibe of it, and there's a good variety of sounds in it to keep it interesting including some samples of applause sprinkled in there, which I thought was a nice touch.

Finally, we return to the label that I've pent the last year detailing, Warp. Prefuse seems to be one of the lesser known acts on Warp, I picked up Surrounded By Silence on a whim not too long ago, like Krush's LP it features a lot of guest vocal work, but the instrumentals are where it really shines. It's like all my favourite elements of instrumental hip hop with that trademark Warp experimentation going on. Cut up samples are the order of the day here, and some of them are spectacular: the jazz impov style breakdown at around 2:30 and the looped to hell transition back into the main track is amazingly done.

And that's yer lot for today, but before I go you can find the album that Can I is from, Muffins, legally over on mediafire and you can buy all of Knxwledge's material over on his bandcamp.

Prequel Sequel,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Thursday 16 August 2012

Just A Bit Rude

Having a loud setup does have its downsides. There are more than a couple tracks in my collection that are... uncomfortable to listen to with an audience. Like watching an 18 rated flick with your parents. But today I'm gonna embrace them and delve into the slightly more than risque tunes I have.

More from Felix's Devin Dazzle this time, with an incredibly suggestive song (fitting actually, considering his ties to the early electroclash scene). I always found this one to be quite funny because on the tracklist, a tune called She's So Damn Cool has 'damn' censored with a tactical asterisk, yet the lyrical content on Hunting Season goes unaltered. You'll see what I'm talking about when you give it a listen.

Of course, Frank Sinatra deserves a honourable mention, I already posted the 2001 remix which is my favourite version, but now it seems suitable to bring the original up. Recorded in 1998 in a dingy record store basement (according to Kittin at least), it sounds pretty rough as a result, and of course the infamous reputation of track proceeds it, there are some pretty classic lines in it such as the titular "You know Frank Sinatra? He's Dead. DEAD!" and that's the cleanest line in the thing.

Dabbling in a bit of sampling now with a bit from the Toybox from his charmingly named Remixes And Other Crap. It's some voice clips cut up and re-arranged to sound rude set to a catchy beat with some chiptune-y synth accompaniment. I can see why it wasn't included on any of his main albums but it is fun to listen to. And I legitimately love that beat.

And of course, Peaches. This one's slower than most bits on I Feel Cream, but like most of her catalogue, it shines in the production department. If you're not paying too much attention it seems pretty normal, maybe a bit more if you don't know what the shocker is (though there's a handy Wikipedia article to explain). Saying that this album is home to possibly the cleanest Peaches track ever; Downtown, but that's not why we're here is it?

and that's that. I honestly thought I had more prime examples than this, though I could be forgetting some I suppose. Regardless, enjoy.

Totally Clucked Up,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday 13 August 2012

It's Gonna Be A Long Time

Afternoon folks, gonna be a short one today, you'll soon see why. So I got curious and filtered my collection by length; holding the number one spot is a near two hour bootleg of a Mr. Oizo set, and a ton of others. In fact it's a while before you get to the actual tracks, but there is some gold when you do finally get down to it.

First is the 48MB monster that kicks off Goldie's D&B classic Timeless. Well, it's actually three tracks in one (Inner City Life, Pressure and Jah) but it is one of the best intros to an album I have. When it all kicks off around 2:40 you know you're in for a hell of a ride.

Follwing that we have the penultimate track from OPN's Rifts, this isn't gonna be for everyone and I'll admit this one does go a bit overboard with the whole layered arpeggios, in fact I sed to find it annoying. Then one day I it came up n shuffle and I had it quiet enough that the apeggios functioned as quasi-percussion and I kinda liked it. The track really shines in it's second half around ten minutes in, and the sounds towards the eventual climax are just fantastic. In summary: great title, rocky start, gets better as it goes on.

Ah, good old Moroder. E=MC² has a ton of synth work in it, as you'd expect from Giorgio. Being from 1979 and all, a lot f the vocal disco stuff hasn't aged well, but the end to this LP is something real special. A quarter of an hour instrumental that's chock full of guitars, synths and more. An early highlight is about 5 minutes in, where everything peaks and there's a complete change in sound, a guitar solo and even a little cowbell in the back.

And I'm afraid that's gonna have to be it, that's 107 MB of stuff and if I brought anymore to the party that would only get bigger.

How're You?
-Claude Van Foxbat

Saturday 11 August 2012

Up & Output

You know that new soundsystem I mentioned last time? well over the past few days I gave it the first few runs. Obviously I couldn't pick just anything to play, oh no. This had to be special, to inaugurate it into the collection I made a few selections The first of which being Bangalter's timeless rework of DJ Mehdi's Signatune (which I'm not going to post), and the rest? well let's just see about them.

Well of course a bass test was in order. So I chose the kind of track that sounds completely different through say, laptop speakers than it does a sub. The first ten seconds of this are just plain inaudible through my phone, but it's a different beast altogether on my new setup. No doubt thanks to those rolling sine waves bliss running alongside.

So I'm feeling some more hip hop stylings, and I turn to good old FLyLo for my fix. This tune has always been a favourite, though it's more like two tracks actually 'cause at about 1:30 the breakdown gives way to some whole new sounds and beats that (dare I say it) sound just a little bit dubstep.

Something a bit faster now, as we move closer to Drum & Bass territory with Skream's love letter to the Jungle scene. It reminds me a lot of Omni Trio's Feel (Feel Good) I posted a little while ago thanks to that well executed vocal sample. There's not much different here actually, there's liberal usage of amen break throughout, and it's a little slow for a proper full on 'ardcore Jungle inspired beat.

It wasn't long before I planted myself back in familiar experimental and electro territory though, kicking things off was a track from Clark's debut Clarence Park for way back in 2001. The LP is home to a track that has one of my favourite sounds ever on it. That main melody sounds amazing anyway, and when it starts to get cut up and spliced it really is something else.

And bringing it all to a close is a track from way back when that I had long forgotten about. MSTRKRFT's The Looks got plenty of play from me then, and coming back to it everything is still just as sweet. I remember my first listen of this one, it was good and all but it needed that extra something to bump it up to proper quality status. And that was answered with the key change at 3:10, which I could tell was leading to something big. and then 3:40 rolls along and we get some tasty guitar licks to go with our electro. And the end result is a pretty sweet deal.

And that pretty well documents the first 48 hours of my new speaker setup, I only hope they last as long if not longer than my old ones. Take this selection for yourself and give your soundystem a treat!

The Green Wire,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Cover Stories

I've heard people say that album art isn't particularly relevant anymore in the new digital age; now that's not true for me, for me the artwork is a big part of the experience and can give you a look at what the album sounds like before you even start listening to it. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of my favourite covers and tracks then shall we?

Opinions vary a bit on Two, but that's to be expected after their debut First Album became a cult classic, and one of the releases that helped coin the term 'electrocash' and I love the artwork for both of their album releases. Two works for me because it's simple, it gets the point across in terms of sound evolution while keeping that retro-ish aesthetic that the two subscribe to on the LP, it's a perfect compliment to the intro track as well.

Moving on to another Two now, with Boards of Canada's debut Twoism. It's still in that nice area before Music Has The Right To Children where BoC still had a slight techno edge to their sound alongside their usual detuned synthesizer affair (especially so on the little bonus interlude on the end of this track that is also on Music Has...). The artwork for this is pretty great, and has a similar story to Memory Vague I posted earlier: it's a screencap of an old 80's sci-fi B-movie called The Killings At Outpost Zeta. I think it works well here, though I'm not fond of the scribbly typeface they used, regardless, enjoy.

Probably the best example in this list of 'it looks how it sounds', Felix's cover for Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever features, fittingly, bright pastel colours, neon flashes and sparking electrics and the man himself in a glittering gold jumpsuit. There's a lot of east/west clashes in the art from the rising sun motif in the back to this famous Japanese woodcut making an appearance on the left hand side and the background, it doesn't really have any significance in respect to the album's sound but it's still a nice small detail. Regardless, I think the art works in complimenting the tunes as they bounce between upbeat and downtempo numbers.

I thought the cover to µ-Ziq's Lunatic Harness was great, and ripe for variations thanks to that flat, easily editable orange background. Turns out Mike had already beat me to it with the covers for the My Little Beautiful and Brace Yourself EPs, which feature the same setup with altered colours and positions. This is a case where I think simplicity works in it's favour, everything in the cover is arranged nicely and nothing seems too out of place, right down to the type. Of course, thanks to some typically speedy and cut up drum programming, it doesn't quite suit the sounds 100%, but it still works to compliment the tracks.

I apologise for the tracks being a bit thin on the ground here, but I didn't want to clutter the post with too many images you see. Besides, odd numbers always look better in a composition, so this gap right here with no picture will make the post look nice and clean! Also it's mine and coincidentally the blog's birthday tomorrow! I suppose you can call this post a reverse gift then?

Rule Of Thirds,
- Claude Van Foxbat

Friday 3 August 2012

Memory Vague

I recently got back into making art with Photoshop again, and as always the almighty shuffle has been present throughout. However, yesterday I found MP3s of what is one of my major influences and inspirations at the minute: the soundtrack to Oneohtrix Point Never's Memory Vague DVDr.

Now, there's a lot of Oneohtrix's usual synth-rife affair on here, but there are a couple tracks that stand out to me from both a visual and audio standpoint, but I'll elaborate more on those when we get to them, but for now enjoy some of that synthesized sound that OPN does ever so well (note: this is the Rifts version of the track, which is longer and better quality)

This was the first standout I was talking about, it deviates from OPN's usual MO and is mostly sample based, something he'd come to again on his latest LP, Replica. But what stood out to me the most was the sample itself, it's only a few seconds long, but the things done to it sound amazing. After doing some snooping I found that OPN makes stuff like this mostly in Audacity, which got me to thinking I could do it too. But once again, more on that later.

There are a couple other tracks that deviate on here, adding some beats into OPN's usually melodic productions. This is the first and also my favourite of the two, Chandelier's Dream. It reminds me a little of the Arcade High LP I posted a bit on not too long ago, and to a lesser extent OPN's other side project simply entitled Games.

It's not long before some synth heavy stuff comes along again though, this time with an almost early 90's videogame vibe. It still revolves around OPN's tried and tested arpeggio based production, but that is in no way a bad thing because he very consistently pulls it off, and this track is short enough that it's not too obnoxious.

Finally, the other standout track to me, and an almost perfect end to the LP. This and the stuff OPN made for the Eccojams Vol. 1 tape have been in constant rotation by me while making art things. I definitely advise you to check out the dvd, or even OPN's YouTube channel, which has slices from the DVD on it. You can find him at SunsetCorp.

I've dabbled in a few of these sample based jobs myself, I have the basic sound down but I can't quite manage any further edits without it sounding strange, if you're interested you can find it over on my SoundCloud. Also if you are interested, give it a crack yourself, Audacity is a free program and isn't massively difficult to learn.

- Claude Van Foxbat