Tuesday 31 January 2017

An Ambient Moment

Mira Schendel - Untitled (Disks) (1972)

It's been a long while since I went on an ambient bend, so I'm going to break that streak and regale some of the classic ambient I have in my collection. Starting off right with the grandfather of ambient Brian Eno. Granted I can see why the album this is from, Ambient I: Music For Airports might not be for everyone, but I think it's an important milestone regardless. Needless to say I adore it, so have yourself a listen of the 17 minute opening track simply called 1/1

Now I can't go throwing that out there without giving honorable mentions to the man who put ambient on my map in the first place. Selected Ambient Works Vol. II is masterpiece of the genre, one that is sadly incomplete depending on which version you get; the USA versions are missing a track dubbed "Hankie" (as all the tracks are named after a strange pie graph pictorial naming system), and almost all versions are missing the one I'm posting. Stone In Focus is a high point of the album, and one that is sorely missed on the tracklist. Here it is again for posterity.

Oneohtrix Point Never remains one of my current favourite Ambient artists. He may have strayed from his initial Juno-60 based synth sound but thankfully there's plenty of it to go around as is. Blue Drive is incredibly evocative, and I don't think it would have been if it went down an acoustic route like Eno's example above, or some of the more Piano-centric Aphex Twin tracks. It probably helps I'm a lover of all things synth but the atmosphere it creates is almost palpable.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday 29 January 2017

Rephlexive Action

Went through my list of expanding backlog today and came across a little something that I'd long since forgotten about. Yessir this time we're talking Richard D. James' often overlooked label Rephlex, specifically Cylob. I was turned onto Cylob after hearing a couple remixes and appearances on Rephlex compilations, and it's one of the more obvious cases of me picking something out based on album art and names there is; Cylobian Sunset from 1996.

Breaking tradition a little bit this time, we're going to start with the penultimate track from Cylobian Sunset: I Left My Heart In Syntax Error. It's a very smooth piece that nicely contrasts the slightly glitchy album art, once again showing the flexibility of what was termed IDM at the time (the term which Rephlex famously hated), twinned with Cylob's knack for gorgeous synth. I really dig it, I've always had a soft spot for the more introspective parts of these kinds of records, I love me some snare rush breakcore sure but there's always room for something a little slower. Stay tuned for the small encore starting at 4:34.

I Left My Heart In Syntax Error was one of my first picks off the album, mainly because the title stood out for one, but ten again that's not too hard gven a lot of the tracks on here subscribe to the Autechre school of naming systems, usually vaguely techy (sometimes made-up) sounding things with maybe a slight pun. Not to knock Foid before we get stuck in though, it's another downtempo piece but in contrast to Left My Heart... is more subdued, the slow build of those delicate synths, then combined with muted drums makes for quite a cosy yet cold experience. Not awfully complex, but I don't think it needed to be.

And finally Balzouf, yet another downtempo one if you hand't guessed already but with quite a different spin form the first two. While the first two could maybe fit into a trip hop or ambient mold respectively, this one is definitely a prime example of of-the-era experimental electronic stuff. Not meant to disparage it too much, its still chock full of lovely sounds and all but it certainly shows its age and as a result comes out sounding a little bit like a piece from AFX's Melodies From Mars.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Electric Futures

Horacio Garcia-Rossi - Couleur Electrique Lumière (2000)

Kicking off with a slight electro slant this time, I was picking apart my look over Perturbator's LP The Uncanny Valley and seeing if my opinion had changed much. I don't think it has to be fair, the album is still mastered incredibly loudly (or at least my copy is, for good and bad, depending on the situation). But I did manage to find some things I hadn't put in my original post. Assault didn't really grab me first time through, it's not helped by having a real generic title for one, and secondly if you've listened to as much Perturbator as I have it's standard fare at this point. That is until you get to 2:30 of course, somehow I'd forgotten in the time past that there's a massive switch up from a slow and deliberate synthwave tune to more much aggressive feel as befitting an artist featured in Hotline Miami.

I recently put the Half Life 2 soundtrack back into my collection after a long absence, I've gotten to know them pretty well in the decade plus they've been around. Still though, there are little pieces that I will forever adore, one of which being Sector Sweep from Episode 2. That pulsating intro is a joy to listen to and perfectly captures the track's title, I especially enjoy it being used as a basis for the rest of the elements to be built around, it's not often you see a soundtrack have so much symbolism with the media it's accompanying.

And we can't be talking futuristic soundtracks and not give nod to perhaps my favourite opening theme of all time, Inner Universe. Ironically enough after speaking about soundtrack symbolism, Inner Universe nails it also, the contrast between the electronics and Origa's unique vocal contributions matches the world of Ghost In The Shell incredibly well. It's been a long time since Stand Alone Complex ended, and Origa herself passed sometime ago now, bet her work and the world of Ghost In The Shell will be forever entwined.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Monday 23 January 2017

S'all About The Money

Leading on from last time, it's probably for the best that I scheduled these out. I wanted to wait a couple of days before covering this one for obvious reasons (and to see if they'd bob it up on soundcloud or whatever but no such luck yet.) Anyway, as you may be aware, there is a nee Gorrilaz tune out after some months of teasing and a few years of waiting. Now you notice I said tune and not Single, for some reason people have bee nsaying it's the first single off the new album but it's not actually *said* anywhere that it is. (and I'll admit I was one of those folks until doing a bit of reading for this).

So, let's get the elephant out of the room shall we? Damon's definitely taking a political angle with this one. Not that it's strange territory for Gorillaz to tackle, see Fire Coming Out Of A Monkeys Head or Dirty Harry from Demon Days for example, or even the one off collaboration with D12 about 9/11 if you want to get obscure. I've seen some people be kind of disappointed about that and it's a tad confusing, granted the few examples I've just mentioned perhaps aren't as explicitly on the nose about their issues but still. I'm not going to press it anymore because it's all over the bloody news these days and the last place you want political discourse is a music blog of all places.

Right, now that's out of the way how is the tune? Well you'd be forgiven if you thought this was a leftover from Plastic Beach or The Fall, the style is quite similar but that isn't a bad thing at all, it's just I thought some of Damon's solo LP might have slipped in there. Saying that though, I am very much enjoying the return of the backing choir, something I've missed from the penultimate parts of Demon Days which made them shine. Speaking of choir contributions too, a high point of new Gorillaz things coming out is seeing who Damon's lined up for collaborations this time, ad Benjamin Clementine doesn't disappoint here, his delivery compliments the overall production very well indeed, and is a nice counterpoint to Damon's vocal too. I remain tentatively excited, I'm not blown away yet, but there's certainly more to come.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Saturday 21 January 2017

Back @ It

Peter Phillips - Spectrocoupling (1972)

Re-instating an old policy to try and git more content out there. So have a storm of posts I'm writing over the course of a couple days and then scheduling out over a week or so. Starting with yet another song that's been drilled into my head. Compound is surprisingly chill given the series its from and all. Pretty much know it note for note only without the odd "PERFECT!" and shotgun noises from many tries at Behead The Undead.

Bibio made an unexpected return this week too, some folks I was talking to were interested in retro aesthetics for their video projects and I mentioned it might be a bit difficult to reproduce them exactly with software and brought up some Bibio videos for reference. The video for Excuses remains one of my all time faves, I remember watching it when it debuted in 2009 and it's still in that list.

And finally, to commemorate this increase in productivity, a tune from Simon Viklund with a fitting title. Between this and Phoney Money the man clearly has chops in the hip/trip hop department, and as much as I love his electro based output I'd definitely not qualm if he came out with some more for us.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Saturday 14 January 2017

Lines And Lines

Karl Benjamin - #14 (1965)

Slightly off schedule again, though I count that as a good thing seeing as this week I had my first proper go at software instruction to a class, so only being off the usual routine by a day is pretty on point given I've missed more time over less. Anyway onto the tunes, as per us this is mostly going to be made up of things that have stuck out to me on shuffle in the past week or so. Starting off with another slice of goodness from Timesplitters, not by Norgate this time but still just as good, actually had to do a bit of detective to find out who actually made this one but it paid off in the end. I can't get enough of the main motif running throughout this one, it's just so catchy.

A bit of Soichi Terda surprised me again this week in a nice way. The gorgeously smooth Yokozuna Beach Chillin' was a nice counterpoint to being blinded by snow flurries trying to cross the road. It's a lovly glimpe back into mid 90's drum & bass too, it's got a very specific sound that I adore. Would love to see more in this kinda vein nowadays, it's a shame this one cuts off so abruptly but that's just a casualty of Sumo Jungle seamlessly mixing tracks when listened to in whole.

And finally, somethin' I usually skip over but left on this time due to not wanting to take my hands outta my pockets and into the cold. There's nothing wrong with Interlude, but man oh man does it take a long time to get going. And moreso than usual too, as in 2:23 of the 5:26 runtime is introduction. Still, it's a nice dollop of synthwave goodness if you've got the patience for it, I wouldn't blame you if you skipped forward.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Tuesday 10 January 2017

There & Back Again

Going to share some more recent things I happened across in the run up to and in 2017, Starting with Macross 82-99. I'd heard and seen bits and bats of the stuff via twitter but never really sought it out until hearing it used as interlude music on some streams I frequent. And there I was puzzled to find people calling it Vaporwave, when it's quite clearly a different vibe altogether (and never mind much faster bpms), it's billed as future funk but I can't be too fussed with genre names these days. But I digress, onto the details.

The main reason I've been wanting to share this with y'all is that those of you in for the long haul will remember when we were riding that beautiful wave of french touch, bloghouse or the multitude of other names slapped on it, as well as having a major appreciation for the likes of Roulé and co. Where does this come into Macross 82-99 you ask? Well I think that it might fill that void in our music collection when bloghouse fell from faour. Fun Tonight for example, is giving me the kinda feelins that I had when I listed to The Peach EP back when.

There's even some more slightly downtempo early 00's feelgood house influences in the mix too, as heard on Have Hope. I'm incredibly happy to see this kind of sound come back, as it was the original tunes back when that were formative in my falling in love with electronic music as a whole, as well as having the bonus of being a nice introduction anyone looking to make their first steps into the world of electronic. I do kinda wish they were longer but given the rate that the tunes go upon soundcloud you'll have enough to get you by if you keep tabs on it.

While I do have some gripes with the name 'future funk', there is at least a measurable funk influence in there too. Maybe not as pronounced as say Chromeo or the like, but certainly there. The tune I heard being used as an interlude 82.99 AM does a good job of showing off a good cross section of Macross' sound, and is definitely an exercise in sample spotting if you're so inclined. While not my favourite of the examples I've posted, I have to give it props for turning me onto it and I will be ccetianly keeping an eye out in future.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday 8 January 2017

Welcome To 2017

Hello! It's been a little while I know, I took some time off around the holidays as usual but some life things came up like always. In fact they did again just last night but I thought I'd at least drop by with a little something. You may notice we've had a slight redesign, it's not the massive overhaul that I wanted but it does look a little nicer. Anyway, let's revisit some tunes for the new(ish) year.

M.C. Escher - Merry Christmas & Happy New Year (1961)

Used to be that I'd post a NYE track dump every late December. Missed the mark a little bit but I did have one planned (that I've since forgotten). Normally I kinda cop out and open it with The Knife's New Year's Eve because why not. Well I'm not going to do that now so instead have another of my all time favourites from the same album, get stuck into the acoustic goodness on offer.

I've been binging on ADULT. too, it's reviving the early 2000's Foxbat in me. This slightly reworked version of Skinlike has seen me home a few times so far this year, the high energy electro hiding Nicola Kuperus's moody monotone melancholy will probably be a mainstay of things around here for a few weeks to come.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I've been looking over Royksopp's whole discogs since the last podcast. Junior remains a highlight, and an easy avenue for both newcomers and those who aren't too into electronic. It's been a while since Junior came out, but the production and Anneli Drecker's accompaniment remain as sweet as ever.

-Claude Van Foxbat