Tuesday 27 March 2018

Dive In The Sky

Koshiro Onchi - Diving (1932)

Coming as no surprise to anyone, I've been digging things of a more downtempo persuasion as of late. But in contrast to the usual lo-fi trip hop / hip hop I usually post when I'm in one of these moods, I've been on a more 'space-y' kick. I'm dipping my toes into some writing beyond the blog and I've been looking for some suitably thematic accompaniment you see, and like so many times before, the Röyksopp boys were there to deliver.

Next, the tune that actually made me settle on the space-y descriptor, the opening from Ben Prunty's sublime soundtrack to indie darling FTL. It plays every time you launch the game, butunlike some other misguided attempts at that idea (looking at you Burnout Paradise), I'm not at all sick of this theme some 6 years later. The opening stabs create this isolated feel that goes hand in hand with the quieter parts of the game, before giving way to a slightly IDM backing beat after some time. The album even comes with a .txt file from Ben himself detailing the process behind the compositions. He says:
"So I tried to merge two ideas. The first is an overt retro aesthetic, with fun melodies, arpeggios and simple synthesizers to evoke that feeling of playing an older game. The second is a calculated, cinematic atmosphere, with high-quality percussion, ambiences and deeper textures. The intention is to suggest that the game's world is bigger than you can see and there's more going on in the universe than just your own adventure."

And finally, some of Wisp's reworking of Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2. I remember stumbling across these years ago when I was a mite more snobbish than I am now, what blasphemy was this, reworking SAW 2? Never mind it was perfect already, how would reworking ambient music even work out?. Well as it turned out, especially in the cases of more melodic tunes like Z Twig, pretty damn well. There's even a little bit of Blue Calx mixed into this rework too which is a nice touch. The end result comes out looking more like a tune from The Flashbulb or Casino Versus Japan which is fine by me, I can appreciate both the moody original and this rework just fine, they suit different contexts after all.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday 25 March 2018

Guest Night Tales Vol. 4 (2018 Version)

Another week and another revival. Long time pal of mine and former partner in film going by his online moniker Thousandcats' selections are equally eclectic as those we've had so far. Though it's missing a fair few tracks than the original Grooveshark one, the structure is very well crafted; with peaks and breaks throughout before taking a left at the last hurdle with the excellent Avril 14th from Aphex Twin's Drukqs and a little bit of the Little River Band. It's again a fantastic way to inject some freshness into your listening library, there's some real class tunes in there by some artists I'd never have come across in my travels, including a then fairly obscure CHVRCHES when he originally put this list together in 2013. Me and Thousandcats might not always see eye to eye when it comes to music, but we've do share some common ground, and that's where the gold is to be found.

Like Jamie's from the week before, it's a short but sweet entry this time, and like last week again I'll try to balance it out with a regular post come midweek, keep an eye out come Tuesday. And as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Lost In Fog

A post that's been long overdue today, as I talk a little about the musical stylings of Akira Yamaoka, the man responsible for a great deal of the soundtracks for the Silent Hill series. Now if you know anything about games you might know that the Silent Hills are a little spooky to say the least, and as you might expect some of the soundtrack reflects that, often being quite literally industrial to go with the rusty chain link structures of the otherworld presented in the games. We'll dive right into things right after the album art of the original soundtrack in all it's 90's CG glory.

But that's not to say it's all brutally oppressing in it's atmosphere, in fact some of the tunes are quite nice. Contrast that link I posted above to this tune here. Same soundtrack, just some 20-odd tracks apart, only instead of sounding like the inside of a forge we're instead treated to some trip-hop flavoured goodness, opening with some vinyl crackle and a lonely acoustic guitar. The end result wouldn't sound too out of place on one of those dime-a-dozen lo-fi hip hop youtube vids, but I think Akira's got them beat seeing as he was making stuff like this in 1999.

That's not conjecture on my part either, Akira's work on the Silent Hill games takes a lot of inspiration from dark trip hop from the likes of Portishead and co. (there's even a texture of a Portishead poster in Silent Hill 1, here's a better shot of it). I dare say there's other points of reference too, The Reverse Will from the second game leans more on the trip hop side of things by bringing some scratching into the mix, but also I think touches on some Boards Of Canada territory too as about 55 seconds in there's a reversed sample of a child (one of the game's VO cast, actually) reciting the the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer. On paper that sounds very much like Boards' modus operandi on Geogaddi with it's slightly occult undertones and general unsettling vibe, however Yamaoka's soundtrack actually predates Geogaddi by about a year.

And finally, the tune that made me want to make this post in the first place. The soundtrack to Silent Hill 3 has the least of the heavy industrial overtones and more of the ambient and trip/hip hop stuff, there's so many good tunes to pick from but if I had to choose only one it would be this. End Of Small Sanctuary is part of a select few tunes that put me on a highway to nostalgia town, like all those others I'be talked about in the past that I used to listen to shit 96kbps rips that I'd got off limewire on my whopping 256MB mp3 player. Aside from that personal attachment though, I still think it's a solid work in it's own right. It's nothing crazy complex or particularly long, but it nails the atmosphere its going for and more often than not I catch myself going back for just one more listen before it ends.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday 18 March 2018

Guest Night Tales Vol. 3 (2018 Version)

Jamie's addition to the series gets the 2018 revival treatment this week, kicking off with the sublime opener to Burial's Untrue before going the complete opposite with a contribution from the Jackson Sisters before returning to it's chill slant for the remainder of it's run. It's a short one at only 8 tracks, but the ground covered in them is phenomenal, leading nicely to the explosion in sound that is White Chords for the finale.

Once again an eye opening, genre crossing peep into other people's listening. I'm having a lot of fun revisiting this series, rediscovering some memories tied to tunes that I didn't know I had or had long since forgotten about. Accompanied by some vertical slices of some paintings from Avis himself, Vol. 3 might have been the shortest one of the lot but it had a lot of soul in its carefully selected and structured tracklist.

With the playlist begin so short I am going to do what I said last week and break the once a sunday schedule I got going on to write a little post to go up in a couple of days to make up for it a little, and it's going to be a non-spotify one to make up for the deluge of playlists I've been putting up latley (it's so convenient though!) Anyway, look for that post going up come Tuesday and as always, until then, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Thursday 15 March 2018

Spotify Monthly Selections March

I've been on much more of a downtempo kick as Spring takes its time to set in. This month's playlist starts with a piece Massive Attack made for a soundtrack that I'd somehow never heard of until now, it gets a bit cliché cinematic soundtrack in spots for my taste but I'm very much into Polaroid Girl. Followed by another trip hop act I recently started seeking out; Fila Brazillia, who despite the exotic name and lush sounds actually come from Hull of all places.

Some electropop sprinkled in too courtesy of another two recent additions to my listening roster; Cornelius and Erlend Øye. Both of them scratching my itch for what a friend of mine lovingly calls "Napoleon Dynamite Electronica", they're fairly simple and full of DIY-esque sounds that I am currently loving.

Getting a little nostalgic too, with a bunch of Housey tunes from one-album-wonder Mylo, Rex The Dog and of course, Daft Punk. Taking yet another turn into the downtempo towards the end, I'm trying to structure the playlists to have nice peaks and valleys see, The Knife's Vegetarian Restaurant is also from a film soundtrack oddly enough, and it is probably one of my all time favourites from the Swedish sibling duo, a far cry from the dark and cold electronics of Silent Shout for sure. I'll see you all next month with the next installment!

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday 11 March 2018

Guest Night Tales Vol. 2 (2018 Version)

The revival continues, the week sees the return of the first true proper 'Guest' offering, this one was made by a friend of mine at Uni and it was the first moment I realised this could be a series, and pretty much what I said last week still stands: I was really into seeing other people approach the same prompt, and since I don't get to see that as such these days now that my art college days of briefs & crits are behind me, it's been refreshing to revisit this idea.

Grim's offering is a slightly eclectic mix of Hip Hop, Dubstep and Reggae, and just a smidgen of Demon Days era Gorillaz. It's straying form our Electronic label quite a bit, but that was the reasons why I ran with the idea of the Guest Night Tales in the first place. Unfortunately just like my list there were some casualties in the tracklist but I think the meat of it is there and it works just fine. It's only now looking back I see how many tunes I swiped for my own collection from this list, which is another bonus of looking into other peoples collections I suppose: despite the differences mine and Grim' lists might have we had common ground in terms of the Dubstep and Drum & Bass we liked. It's good to step out of your world for a little while, you might just find some tunes and artists you really dig, after all "You Might Like" and "Users Also Liked" algorithms can only take you so far.

There's still a couple more of the Revivals before we hit new ground, the next couple have pretty slim track-lists due to spotify not having the infinite variety of grooveshark, I'm thinking those weeks I might make a second normal post mid-week to make up for it a little. Regardless, stay tuned for more and as always stay safe and enjoy the music!

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday 4 March 2018

Guest Night Tales 2018: The Revival

Cleaning up my HDD this week I found some remnants of art I did for the 'Guest Night Tales' series I did back in 2013. +I still really adore the idea behind it, it's shamelessly ripping off the actual real Late Night Tales compilations but still I like peering into other people's listening, and ultimately their different approaches to the same prompt: "What's your perfect late night playlist?"

So back then I ended up with a bunch of grooveshark playlists that I asked friends to contribute some art and a track-list to. Grooveshark kicked the bucket in 2015 and since then the posts have just consisted of a list of the few songs I could salvage from Grooveshark's recovery option at the time. Until now. I've decided to give them a new lease of life as spotify playlists this time. Now there are some downsides, some tunes straight up aren't on spotify so some of the playlists re missing anything from one or two songs to whole chunks in some cases. Still, it's nice to have them back and functional again.

Starting with my contribution, 2015 me helpfully didn't list the entire playlist when GS died, so I rebuilt most of it and added even more songs to it, it made sense to given the time that's passed anyway. Some alterations were made: I swapped out the Plaid Mix of All Is Full Of Love for the Guy Sigsworth one, and one of the linchpins of the ambient section, The KLF's Madrugada Eterna is missing but overall I'm still happy with how it came out.

I tried to really capture my listening progression over the playlists runtime, starting with a little bit of 80's stuff, slowly changing into the electropop block by way of Chromeo, which gives way to more of a downtempo / electropop combination with The Knife and friends before going full on trip / hip hop with a little help from the likes of Nightmares On Wax and Blockhead before finally beginning to wind down with the more ambient block featuring the likes of Boards Of Canada, culminating in the rhythmic ambience of Charlotte's Mouth and Nightvision.

Nothing too surprising for longtime readers, but stay tuned in the coming weeks as I resurrect the other playlists in the series and add a few more to the stock. It's gonna be a good time. If anyone reading would like to make their own Guest Night Tales list, please feel free to do so! Whether you make it and send me the link or just give me a tracklist to work with I'd love to have it featured here.

-Claude Van Foxbat