Sunday 29 July 2018

Fest Reminisce

Friedensreich Hundertwasser - 626 The Way To You (1966)

Was talking to a friend about his recent fest trip; and in doing so revisited some homegrown bands that I think I often overlook. Starting with Basement Jaxx, this tune in particular falls into that category of so many forgotten dance songs in that I knew it pretty much from the opening but I'd long since forgotten about it. And I love how fantastically unapologetically bombastic it stats out, that bassy synth and Lisa Kekaula cutting thorough the soft strings of the intro in spectacular fashion. Her delivery is on point too, giving the bitter lyrics a rally cathartic edge. Definitely getting an honorable mention in future for sublime album openers.

Second is one of the actual reasons for this post; I've said a million times before I feel like I don't like The Chem Bros. as much as I should, they're always popping up in my recommends over on discogs and the like but I'd say I'm only passingly familiar with them at best. That is apart from Push The Button, which I know pretty much back-to-front thanks to a friend lending me a copy way back when. I've mentioned a bunch how good Surface To Air is as an album closer (and I almost did again) but I think it's time to give another shout out to another of my favourites from the LP. Hold Tight London is one of my go-to long haul travel tunes, (Ironically enough with all my train travel it should've been Star Guitar) it's seen me many places over the years and every time it feels just as sweet as the first.

Another tune I think falls into that same category is Miss Kittin & The Hacker's Hometown. Released a few years before their big comeback with the album Two, it sheds the techno/electro/clash sensibilities of their work prior and embraces this more House-y sound. The outright vulgarity of Kittin's lyrics is gone too for this single, the debauchery of Frank Sinatra replaced instead by more poetic musings. It's up there as one of my favourites from the duo, and much like Hold Tight London it's progression lends itself well to long-haul listening. I will always adore those synths that back the chorus, as much it feels like The Hacker is teasing you with them until they come round again. Get a load of the nostalgia-laden video:

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday 22 July 2018

Back In The Garage

Stuart Davis - Garage (1917)

Lordy help me I'm back on my nostalgic garage kick. Well, I say back like it never really left, and I didn't plan this post but still. Starting off once again with some more soundtrack business, this time more Rom Di Prisco from Need For Speed IV. Any long time readers will be familiar with me waxing poetic about how I love the {Artificial Intelligence} era Warp Records sound because that simple bleepy techno sounded so futuristic to a young Foxbat fascinated with electronic music. Well one of the earliest examples of a tune that made me feel that way is Cygnus Rift, sandwiched away between all the other sci-fi titles on the soundtrack, that intro is a primo example of what I'm talking about. For me it hits the same buttons as when I occasionally get my trance euphoria head on, it's gorgeous stuff. Just be careful turning this one up, that bassline introduced at around 50 seconds in is a real killer shelf wobbler even on low volumes.

Next up is yet another example from Rockstar's in-house productions for Grand Theft Auto III. Like Stripe Summer from last time, it's chock full of cliché 2000's production, obviously taking cues from Daniel Bedingfied's Gotta Get Thru This and the obvious abuse of auto-tune throughout making it a much more clear parody of the pop of the era. While it's certainly more obviously dated than Stripe Summer, it's still actually a very solid tune despite it's satirical origins, fitting in nicely with other tunes I have in a similar style like Felix Da Housecat's Pray For A Star.

And playing us out, another blast from the past. This one gets a lot of fun poked at it for various reasons, but I will stand by it being potentially one of the best remixes of all time when compared to it's source material, as ell as being one f my first ports of call when I need to elaborate to someone what exactly makes Garage its own genre. Coming up on 20 years since it's release and I've yet to grow tired of that bassline, or the sultry vocals of Kelli Ali for that matter. It's a bit long in the tooth at 9 minutes long but I'll be damned if I don't listen to it pretty much all the way through every time.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday 15 July 2018

Spotify Monthly Selections July

It's incredibly hot here in the UK ATM. So I thought I'd challenge the climate and throw together a only slightly cliché summertime playlist. Kicking off with the sublime and funky intro from Feadz's debut LP, Welcome To Paris, we settle into a downtempo groove that takes an indie turn with Hogh Pressure Dave, a suprisingly sedate offering from noise-rockers HEALTH. Track 3 is one of the new Gorillaz singles, I've been listening to it on and off already and I'm already clicking with it, which is a welcome turn of events after my middling opinion of Humanz. Damon's vocals shine as always, here's hoping the keep this slighty synthy sound a la Plastic Beach and The Fall going!

What would a summer playlist be without a customary tip of the hat to one of my all time fave 10/10 albums Discovery?, Voyager takes us on a more downtempo journey, leading into absolute dubstep classic Summer Dreams from Skream, followed by some supreme lushness in The Infinite Variety from Alucidnation (with an album cover I absolutely love by the way, I miss me some orange street lights). Things take a dowtempo turn towards the end naturally: with a little bit of Pretty Light's sample-laden debut album Taking Up Your Precious Time, my favourite piece from Air's soundtrack for The Virgin Suicides with The Word Hurricane, the explosion of sound towards the end contrasted by the ever beautiful ambient piece that is Tommib from Squarepusher.

-Claude Van Foxbat

A Model's Legacy

El Lissitzky - Flying To Earth From A Distance (1920)

Today's post is going to largely center around one song. Not that I'm going to post it and a bunch of remixes mind, no, today we'll be talking about Kraftwerk's The Model, and the effect its had and will likely continue to have on electronic music. So, for those of you that might not be aware; The Model is from Kraftwerk's 1978 album The Man Machine and would actually go relatively unnoticed until it was released on its own as a single in 1981, then topping a bunch of charts in '82. Chances are you've heard this one before somewhere, either in its original form in in any multitude of covers its had over the years. It, and the album its from (and especially that cover art) have a superb aesthetic, which leads me nicely into my second point.

Ladytron's debut often gets lumped into the elctroclash scene by many, including me. Though I will concede that their debut LP 604 has more of a housey feel to it than your typical electroclash sound, and though the band themselves swears they aren't of the genre it's not hard to see why that they were tagged a such: simple electronics, monotone lyrical delivery, the promotional pictures of the time, which featured them dressed uniform-like against a red background?. But as you've probably noticed by now, all of that aesthetic is pretty much lifted from The Man Machine, and of course so was a lot of electroclash. But Ladytron at least wore their hearts on their sleeves, with He Took Her To A Movie using much of The Model as the basis for its instrumentation, including that iconic melody.

And truth be told I could drag this post out by reeling off more electro/clash examples, I'm fairly sure that Miss Kittin & The Hacker have a tune that works here but I can't remember off the top of my head. So instead I'm going with a much more out there re-incorporation of the Kraftwerk sound that I only came across a few days ago in an incredibly unlikely source. Playing us out is a piece by Hajime Hyakkoku from the soundtrack to K-On!, an anime about an all girls high school band, The music for the show is actually really good for both the OST and the in-show band but I digress. First I chalked this up to just simply aping the Kraftwerk sound, but when that bassy synth comes in at about 11 seconds in it's incredibly clear that The Model's fingerprints are all over this, and the title is actually a nice reference to that (Computer Love being the B-Side to The Model when it was released as a single). I do always like to see that even a good 31 years after its original release, Kraftwerk was still influencing musicians of all kinds and they definitley will continue to do so.

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday 8 July 2018

Soundtrack Sortin'

John Miller - Heat And Dust

It's hot and humid still. Turns out houses designed to trap heat spectacularly backfire when summer comes so I haven't been doing much of anything. So I took the opportunity to sort out my soundtracks folder and found some good stuff while diving in there. Starting with a slightly interesting tale of Saki Kaskas' Callista, which I'd first heard on the (in hindsight, actually banging) Need For Speed IV soundtrack, only to be nostalgia bombed with it some 10+ years later when it made an appearance as club music in Mass Effect 2. I could go into more about how EA put a some other in-house electronic stuff into the club music of ME2 but that's a tale for another day. Long story short; as someone with an affinity for early 00's electronic vibes, sci-fi settings and making up cyberpunk soundtracks I most definitely approve.

Jesper Kyd has also been a long time recurring member of my soundtrack collection; having going from a demo scene to a mainstay of soundtracks you'll find his name in all sorts of credits these days, from Borderlands to Warhammer. I'd not really given the soundtrack to Codename 47 much thought, but it's chock full of lovely quasi-industrial electronic pieces that set the atmosphere well. The demo version of the Hotel theme takes a little while to get going, but when it does it's super sweet, it's electronics laced with a subtle hint of menace that fits right into a Hitman game. I haven't kept up with his more recent soundtrack work, but after this dive I'm thinking maybe I should.

The soundtrack to Silent Hill 4 is in the same boat, being one I hadn't played of the PS2 games. After digging out the soundtracks to 1-3 not too long ago I thought I'd scratch my itch for more Yamaoka by checking it out. And I wasn't disappointed, keeping on track with the progression of the 1-3 soundtracks there's not a lot of the metal-on-metal industrial noises this time around either. I haven't spent as much time with it as I would have liked, but Fever Chill is one of my favourites as of now, as is to be expected if you've seen me write about the other Trip-Hop style offerings from Yamaoka's soundtracks. The thing I love the most about it though i the almost muzak-like feel the sounds have, if I hadn't already said where it was from who would've guessed this comes from a Horror soundtrack of all places?

-Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday 1 July 2018

Chill Plz

George Ault - New York Night, No. 2 (1921)

The heat continues. Compounded by me thinking it would be a good idea to render out all my old AE projects too, it's been a inclement week to say the least. But it does have it's upsides, I haven't been skipping stuff on shuffle so much these days just because I ain't going into the sweltering rendering room or I just can't be arsed to move. Which brought the Alpinestars back into my awareness, I think I've mentioned my mixed opinions on the White Noise album, I picked it up in the early 00's when I was on my chill electronica kick. It's a bit of a mixed bag in hindsight, and this tune is a perfect example of that: it's your standard generic early 00's electronic sound, there's nothing really remarkable about it at all. But that's not a mark against it at all, in fact I think there's a place for stuff like this in anyone's collection, it's few and far between in mine so it's always nice to have an injection of variety now and then, even if it's not pushing any boundaries.

Similarly on the list of "Random albums I picked up in the early 2000's" is Blu Mar Ten's The Six Million Names Of God. I think I've talked a bit about this in in the past too, it's similar to the Alpinestars situation I mentioned above, there's a few songs that I will hold up as quality to this day but also a fair bit of filler in there too. This is one of the strong opening salvo of songs, but even then it also kinda falls into that same generic category too (though I will admit I am also slightly biased due to memories tied to this song). Worth mentioning as well however is that Blu Mar Ten's output around this time (and to this day) leans heavily on the rum & Bass side of things, so them coming out with a downtempo and slightly housey in parts album as their debut was a bold move, and one that they did quite well at if I do say so myself.

And let's finish with probably my favourite album of that category; Röyksopp's Melody A.M.. A masterful debut, a short sharp and sweet LP that landed the Röyksopp boys on the map. It like the others here also starts incredibly strong, the first half of the album regularly making it on my essentials lists. I'm fairly sure I've talked about all of them in the past too, but surprisingly one of the more popular tracks on the LP I haven't mentioned until now. One of two tracks featuring Erlend Øye (of Kings Of Convenience fame), Remind Me is a solid example of whats in store on Melody A.M., even if it gets a little Muzak-y at times. Those of you reading this from the states might know this one from being featured in a bunch of Geico ads around the time it was released!

-Claude Van Foxbat