Friday 31 December 2021

Seeing off 2021 - One more for the road

Maria Primachenko - Father Frost Carries the New-Year Tree (1960)

Another year, another calendar to file away in a drawer. We made it! And I thought I'd celebrate the traditional ilictronix way: a random smattering of tracks from a variety of genres. Not going to be as long as previous years I don't think just because I'm writing this the morning of, but the spirit is there nonetheless.

Let's start with something a little older (shocking, I know) - I dug out the first Commix album a little while ago when a co-worker was asking me from some Drum & Bass recommendations, they liked some liquid funk stuff but found a lot of it to be quite same-y which I can totally understand. I went a little deep with some of the cuts but also put some general must haves in there too, and Commix's first LP is certainly one of the latter. Coming from Goldie's Metalheadz label, it's among good company in the world of D&B, but it can be a little tricky to get into anything from the 'headz as there is an absolute ton of material to get through given how long they've been around - not the worst problem to have but it is a factor. As for Commix, I've chosen the opening track Be True this time around, but there are plenty of massive tunes on it to get stuck into - it's not quite my favourite from the album, that would be Emily's Smile, but it's misspelled on the Bandcamp page and it irks me a bit. Still, what a bloody fantastic way to open an album eh?

Going even older this time around with some Mijk Van Dijk. I fell in love with his brand of techno a few years ago now and I find his stuff a little underrated in my personal opinion, not every track is golden but those of them that are have quickly become mainstays in my rotations. Which brings me back around to that opening point, I keep tabs on Mijk's bandcamp as it has slowly grown over time, it's very far from a full discography but I imagine it's a minefield of defunct labels and super old releases the man himself might not even have access to anymore - not to mention the issue he'd probably have with putting up his tracks from Ridge Racer and Armored Core. Still, he's managed to get some of the big ones on there, including 1996's The Wildlife, released as Mijk's Magic Marble Box. It ain't my favourite from the man but still a jam, I've gone with his own remix of the title track this time - it's not too dissimilar from the original mix, a little slower though. Partially the bias I have from it being included on a great mix compilation of his works called Multi-Mijk but also because the little touches he brings to the remix highlight what I really love about Mijk's works

You know what? Let's go even older still and get some proper full on Italo Disco in there. I wouldn't say I've gained a new appreciation for the genre this year, but I have certainly got my hands on more of it than ever before - that was a deliberate choice on my part as my love for Eurobeat is very well documented at this point - and to oversimply it, modern Eurobeat is pretty much Italo with a much faster BPM, and the early Eurobeat releases are pretty indistinguishable from Italo anyway. We're getting off topic there though, I'll echo what I've said about this one in the past, Spacer Woman stands out in its field because it sounds surprisingly modern given the original is from 1983. Perhaps not like 'released last week' modern as it's betrayed by the vocals a little bit, but certainly wouldn't sound out of place on an early 00's International Deejay Gigolos or similar compilation. I adore tracks like these as well because of that futuristic edge to them, which sounds a bit silly to say now but imagine hearing this in '83, I was fascinated with the wild sounds of electronic music from an early age, and tracks like this are a perfect demo of the kind of sound that set me on this path.

Yet more from ThorHighHeels this time, I keep wanting to post some things from their soundtrack to Umurangi Generation but the main OST is not on Bandcamp I don't think. Still, some tracks from it appear on Positive Yellow, which itself is a fantastic release - I'm linking to the version on bandcamp with a couple of bonus tracks and not the original this time, there's no real difference between the two otherwise. As I've said before, Positive Yellow is a love letter to the early days of 3D, that wild west kind of time where electronic music and low polygon counts collided on the fifth generation consoles. I am obviously mad for this one, as a young'un a lot of my exposure to electronic music beyond my parent's collections was through my PS1 - I think THH has done a great job of capturing that style without it feeling too pandering, they very clearly have a lot of love for this era too and have done a great job of exploring the different styles of the era. All the while still giving it that slightly tongue in cheek feel that they bring to their video work - if track titles like PIRATE_RIP_GHETTOBASS or ':)' didn't tip you off.

Some more from LNS now, this time going back to the first I'd heard from her in Recons One from the EP of the same name. It's a fantastic introduction to her works, one that gets surprisingly ambient at multiple points too. The opening and title track is pretty far from that though, starting out like a regular electro record from the get go - but when that big stab hit at about 14 seconds in, I knew I was in love, and less than a week later I'd scooped her entire digital discography. I just love the hi-tech vibe here, it was just so different to all the other old school style electro I was listening to at the time - and the way it adds additional layers on every 'loop' is just great too and keeps things feeling fresh throughout. I haven't managed to talk about LNS as much as I would have liked this year but I have listened to these EPs plenty - I'll be sure to take a deep dive into what's been released since and report back with my findings to make up for that though!

A little bit of a repeat of last year this time with another from Yuzo Koshiro's soundtracks to Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune. The series of albums is a properly massive treasure trove of trance that I've had a consistent fling with for a couple of years now, I just haven't talked about it much as only 5 & 6 were available on streaming, along with a re-issue of 4. The later entries of the series are still fine, they do start to stray from pure trance though, dabbling a little in Drum & Bass and even Hardstyle in parts. I played the hell out of one of those hardstyle-style ones last summer with Don't Stop - so when I saw the expansion to 6's OST released, it should surprise no one that my favourite was instantly Happy Moment. Leaving all pretences of being hardstlye-like behind, this one is absolutely 100% cut from that cloth - it's just so unabashed I can't help but like it. Not a genre I'd say I was too into in regular times but man I've been really jamming out to this one over the past month or so.

And finally, right on time same as every year, we have The Knife. I do my best to include this on every new year's roundup, as not only is it apt but I will take any and all chances to shine a light on their soundtrack for Hannah Med H that this is taken from. This is them in all their Deep Cuts era glory, down to the steel pan as heard on Pass This On, it was never included on any other album so you'll have to pick up the full Hannah Med H Soundtrack if you want it, some tracks from it were included on re-issues of their first album but this one is an exclusive. That's not a bad thing at all as it's full of great songs, and it's now really easy to come by now they're on Bandcamp.

And that'll do it for this year, it's been pretty wild but I've managed to keep to my word about being a little more reliable posting here. That should continue into '22, I've had a few tech gremlins on the backend I might have to look into as it seems my strategy of 'it all works just leave it alone and it'll be fine' is starting to fall apart a bit. I also have been neglecting the republishing side quite a bit because I've gotten to the point where the posts I'm fixing are all unformatted and it's a real pain to untangle the mess of code and text so it's readable. But otherwise things should carry on as normal, and you don't come here to hear me vent so I'll wrap it up here!

Thank you all for reading - and as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday 28 December 2021

Belated Best Of

I sat down today with the intention of doing my annual bevy of tunes to schedule for the day before NYE - what originally started as my teenage electro-fiend self sharing my own personal playlist of big choons sort of became a cross section of past and present faves from a variety of genres. I still intend to do that, but as I started hashing out some choices I thought I'd change gears a bit and instead share some of my favourites from this year. Time has gone all funny as I had to trim some out that were very firmly from last year but I think I've ended up with a good selection, we'll get into it after the break.

It goes without saying it's been a pretty strange year - as such I've been spending a lot of time with HEALTH as their current electronic infused sound is very cathartic at times: often intense and with a pronounced nihilistic streak as well. While DEATH MAGIC is probably still my favourite of theirs, I've got a real fondness for everything they've done since that pivot to the more electronic side of things (which was always there to be fair, it just got more pronounced with DEATH MAGIC). Some of their latest I haven't been so hot on - on paper the collab with Nine Inch Nails should have been amazing, I don't think it was bad mind you, but I think perhaps my expectations were a little high. Still, you're always going to have moments like that with artists no matter what, and the rest of the singles that have been coming out like DEAD FLOWERS have been more up my street. Perhaps not as electronic as previous, but still a very great example of what I mentioned in the opening sentence.

I'd also been spending a lot more time with Oneohtrix Point Never as well. I'm incredibly behind on the man's output nowadays, but I am more than happy to see him achieve the levels of success he has done. I'm pretty sure if you go back and read my first post about OPN when I first discovered him about 10 years ago I mention his work having that cinematic quality to it, and to see him get soundtrack work is very validating (plus as well noted, I am all in favour of film soundtracks being more electronic and interesting than your usual stereotypical 'cinema strings')

But we're getting a little off topic, I've listened to a ton of ambient this year, much for the same reasons as listed above, and OPN's work is still among my favourites of the genre. I've liked a lot of the direction he's taken since - there's been much more experimental output as of late and I'd go as far to say as the last traditional 'ambient' album he did was R Plus Seven in 2013, and even then parts of that album were totally signposting the more experimental direction he'd take. All of this is to say that there was perhaps part of me pining for a 'classic' OPN tune, perhaps not one loaded with lush Juno arpeggios like the Betrayed In The Octagon era but along the same kind of lines.

The original Nothing's Special (that's included as a b-side on this single and on the main album, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never) came close with it's lush synth-work and mournful treated vocals - but the version that features Rosalía on the vocals is just spectacular. An unexpected collaboration to be sure, one that I've seen written off and bashed for as a result, but one that I absolutely adore. My only complaint is that I would have liked an instrumental version on the single to complete the trilogy.

It's not all doom and gloom though, as I mentioned in my little mixtape last post, I've also been spinning a ton of the soundtrack to Unbeatable, an upcoming rhythm game with a little free demo called [White Label] on Steam and Itch. I'm going to essentially copy/paste what I said last time here because otherwise I would just be repeating the same points anyway - Unbeatable has a totally enthralling visual style that is utterly drenched in nostalgia - it's totally designed to target that [adult swim] generation, if you're at all like me and stayed up way too late watching shows like FLCL as a teen, then you'll find it familiar.

The soundtrack does a downright perfect job of complimenting that aesthetic, aping bands like The Pillows to great effect, with a real rough 'round the edges feel that makes sense in the context of the game but also . I couldn't not mention this one just because it became a swift obsession of mine and made up a big chunk of my listening for this year. While not totally electronic, it does stray into that side from time to time: be it the Avalanches style sampling of Proper Rhythm, or the mandatory lo-fi hip hop joint I chose in Homework Salad By Night - it just wouldn't be the complete [adult swim] experience without it now would it?

And finally, a little bit from LNS. A recent addition to my radar, I ended up scooping her entire discography on Bandcamp not long after first being introduced. Her latest, the punnily titled LNS-id, is as you might expect a much more acidic affair than her usual. Don't be put off by the cover though, despite the cover's design, the sound on here is pretty far from 'ardcore acid stuff - as album opener and my favourite of the bunch Blue Acid does a fantastic job of demonstrating. It's a somewhat menacing beast, the Acid is definitely there in the form of a machine gun 303 arpeggio lurking in the background but it's contrasted with these slow synth sweeps in the background that give it an altogether different feel from the small amount of acid I have in my collection (which isn't saying much because I'm really unfamiliar with the genre beyond broad strokes as a result!). The rest of the album is a more standard Acid affair, I don't mean that as a knock though as it's all lovingly done: even following the standard 'Acid' blueprint of sounds LNS still manages to make some interesting stuff but by far and away the most striking is this intro track. Brilliant.

Honestly, there was even more I could have put here. I did hesitate calling it the 'best of' because A) I am perpetually behind on new stuff, so there could be things I haven't even heard yet and B) You all know I like to talk at length, so at least this way it keeps things more manageable! (Plus, I don't know how many more covers I could have used to make that blended pic I used up above for the post either) finally, C) not everything is available on bandcamp unfortunately, so this was the best compromise. Rest assured it was a bumper year for new tunes, I even managed to get some new Eurobeat as well. I'll try and swing back around again with a big end of year track dump, but if I don't manage that take care and I'll see you all in 2022. As always - stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday 21 December 2021

Staying Frosty - Another Winter Mixtape

Miwa Ogasawara - Kosmos (2010)

Another year, another time where I put together a little something to sort of cap things off. I do normally end up doing another post or two after but I always like to make one of these both as a creative exercise and just out of tradition at this point. This year's winter roundup is a selection of tunes I've loved, discovered or re-discovered over the last year or so - while not as traditionally 'wintery' as the last couple have been, I think it still has a little of that spirit running through it. Part of the reason I started doing these little tapes was to actually get around to putting up songs I love that might not be readily available on your conventional streaming platforms and while there are more that a few of them this year, I've managed to squeeze a little more readily available ones in there too! I was also pleasantly surprised to see Blu Mar Ten digitally re-issue the album that I Wake Up is from - The Six Million Names Of God - an interesting curio of early 2000's 'chillout' records that I think I may have covered on here before, it has some really nice tunes on it.

But we're getting a little off topic there - as is always the case with these little mixtape dealies, I did have a plan for what tracks I was going to use - but that quickly went out the window when I started laying things down. I still managed to get a few choice cuts in there regardless, but there are plenty of choices made on-the-fly too! Overall, I'm pretty happy with it, I will be the first to admit I ain't the best mixer in the world, doubly so when jumping between genres so frequently like I have here. Having said that I don't think it's too bad, and with the sheer variety I have on show it was never gonna be perfect so... Full tracklist and my usual track-by-track breakdown below!

Yoko Kanno - Hanna
Röyksopp - You Don't Have A Clue
Kensuke Ushio - Trace Of Twilight
Peak Divide - Homework Salad By Night
Masafumi Takada - So That The Forms Of Heavenly Maidens Linger Before Me Yet More
Sugar Plant - Simple
Blu Mar Ten - I Wake Up
Moby - Whispering Wind
Akira Yamaoka - Witchcraft
Boards Of Canada - Turquoise Hexagon Sun
Hiroshi Yoshimura - View From My Window
Moderat - This Time

Fully embracing my soundtrack side to start off with, Yoko Kanno's Iceland-influenced soundtrack to Terror In Resonance leading things. Perhaps not strictly 'electronic' to begin with, but I absolutely adore the little glitchy parts in the mid section, and making good on that Icelandic influence, the whole thing builds to a brilliant post-rock style crescendo. Röyksopp follow - another one of my all time favourites. I did almost use Sparks again as it is for me the nigh perfect summary of the style I'm going for with these tapes - but instead I went with a bit from Junior. Featuring the same vocalist from Sparks, Anelli Drecker, it felt like the next best thing. While an intentionally much poppier record than their previous, fans of their style of downtempo will still find a lot to love on Junior, case in point with You Don't Have A Clue.

Back in soundtrack territory for a double feature - first with a gorgeous almost ambient piece from the 2019 Boogiepop wa Warawanai. It was pretty tricky to not go full ambient with the whole thing in all honesty, especially with Kensuke Ushio's OST work all carrying this same super smooth sound. Between this and his solo work under the Agraph alias, he has fast become one of my favourites of recent times - as evidenced by his inclusion on my last couple of mixtape-likessss. It's not around for long before we take a slow dive into lo-fi town - I've been playing a lot of Unbeatable as of late, a game with a totally enthralling visual style that is utterly drenched in nostalgia, and the soundtrack does a downright perfect job of complimenting that aesthetic, aping bands like The Pillows to great effect. Not totally electronic, but it does stray into that side from time to time, be it the Avalanches style sampling of Proper Rhythm and the mandatory lo-fi hip hop joint I chose in Homework Salad By Night.

From there it's a case of digital crate digging. How do you follow up a lo-fi tune without getting stuck in a rut? Why, a bit from the soundtrack to the videogame tie-in for Samurai Champloo of course - with a slight techy feel, it opened up a lot of choices for the next entry. I ended up going with Sugar Plant, a band that is sort of shoegaze, but in a downtempo kind of way. I fell in love with them hard over the summer, their repeating grooves are really easy to slip into and a joy to listen to, and make the time just melt away - I used the full 6 minutes of the tune for just that reason. Simple actually reminds me a fair bit of some tuff from Morcheeba, look them up if you dig Sugar Plant.

I already talked about Blu Mar Ten in the opening paragraph so let's skip over to the next entry from Moby. I went for a deeper cut this time on purpose, initially planning on it being the 'Slow Synth' version of We Are All Made Of Stars but ended up going with Whispering Wind - originally a B-Side for the Natural Blues single. A hefty dose of my bias for treated vocals is part of that decision or sure, but the whole B-Side album is a nice complimentary piece to Play, partly because the tracks on there haven't been played to death like the main album.

From there we round out with a bit more Silent Hill stuff from Akira Yamaoka. I knew I was going to use something from them but hadn't quite narrowed it down, I wasn't expecting to end up going with one of the later ones from Homecoming in all honesty, but I knew it was perfect when it came on. Yamaoka's ambient and trip hop stuff is gorgeous, and Witchcraft, while a little softer than some of his other works just hit perfectly at that time. From there we get some Boards Of Canada, can you believe I've never used them in one of these tapes before? I would normally have gone for an ambient piece but what better compliment to Yamaoka's work than the more beat heavy bits of Music Has The Right To Children? (Though Turquoise Hexagon Sun actually originally appeared on the Hi Scores EP!)

Rounding out the selections we have a real odd couple - first we dive headlong into ambient with a bit from Hiroshi Yoshimura's iconic Music For Nine Post Cards, beautifully delicate, View From My Window was one of the tracks I knew I was going to use from the start, I was just waiting for the right moment. To be completely honest I was ready to call it there, it's a great send off piece. But I was inspired by the 'moods' that Spotify had applied to me in their year end wrap up: Wistful and Euphoric, so to fit that brief I put Moderat's This Time on the end. It's been a long time since I really listened to Moderat's second album and I had forgotten how powerful this one was. Wonderful stuff and a apt capstone to this whirlwind tour of the last year or so. Covered a lot of ground and yet there were so many that didn't quite make it in, but then there's always next year I suppose!

I hope the tail end of the year is treating you all well, I know that writing here has been a little slice of consistency in a world gone mental - and hopefully reading has for you too. Tune in to this one for just under an hour of calm - and as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Wednesday 15 December 2021

Ç'est Nostalgique

Takashi Murakami - And Then, And Then, And Then And Then, And Then (Blue) (1996)

Couple days ago my brother decided to do one of them Spotify blend thingies - it's actually kind of a cool feature, generates a playlist of both your listens and essentially just compares / contrasts 'em. We have quite different taste but we do cross over from time to time. From there though I got super nostalgic for them halcyon days of the blog - the time where I was an absolute hype fiend who subsisted solely on blog house and constantly chasing the next electro house hit. And there we have the theme of today's post - come on board with me as we take a trip back in time and try not to have an existential crisis along the way.

And what better first stop on that trip than the Justice boys? There were so many choices I could have made and honestly I was going to just pick somethin' from the iconic  because it was (and is to this day) an absolutely stellar album. I chucked on all of my Justice on shuffle to get some inspiration, I ended up going with a deep cut. I wasn't expecting to find this one so readily available to stream in all honesty, but it seems that the Justice boys have been pretty good about archiving most of their releases digitally. I've gone with the B-Side to D.A.N.C.E - predicatably called B.E.A.T. Even if you're totally sick of the original from it being played out I'd give this one a listen, it's more of a remix of the original in reality - but it's a gorgeous tour de force of Justice's sound of the era, one that heavily foreshadows their later funkier progression rather than a straight up electro house chugger. (This one is listed as extended despite being the same length as the original release as far as I can tell)

Keeping that train going with MSTRKRFT - as one friend amusingly put it "remember those years where vowels were really uncool?". Their debut The Looks is actually before the big heyday of the blogosphere in around '07 or so, but only by a year. It's a pretty short album but each of the entries on the tracklist are all hits - 8 tracks on the original, but 9 on my copy with the bonus remix on the end. I've chosen Easy Love for our next stop on this trip, a tune pretty infamous at the time for it's typically cliche 2000's 'dance' video - that is to say, incredibly horny, You can see it in all of it's crunchy 240p glory on YouTube if you'd like. I've got a lot of love for this early MSTRKRFT work, admittedly due to my massive weakness for anything vocoded though, but I'd be lying if I didn't get a little rush of memories every time I hear Work On You or this one come up every once in a blue moon.

Kind of a contrast to the Justice lads - you can find most of Boys Noize's stuff up to a point on Bandcamp as well. I was hoping to get some stuff from Oi Oi Oi on there, as the name might suggest that is an album full of yer classic bangers that I absolutely rinsed back when. But that's fine because Power is on there - an album I don't think is quite as consistent as Oi but is still home to some pretty big shakers. Truth be told it's closing track Heart Attack that might be my most favourite of them all, but that's not keeping with the pumpin' electro of the last couple so I'm going to tweak my choice slightly. I did initially consider either Starter or Jeffer, two early standouts that I had leaked copies of back in the day - Jeffer did almost win out with it's fantastically fidgety feel, but I changed my mind at the last minute to the opening track instead. Perhaps a little bit of a cop out, but it's a really great opening track, one that I think I've heard used on TV as BGM a couple of times to boot. Coming back to it with hindsight, you can really feel the evolution from the Oi Oi Oi era, a little rocky in places but when it shines man does it shine.

And that'll do it for this time around. It's been a long time since I did a bloghouse nostalgia piece like this, I was pretty surprised to find so much of it on Bandcamp actually, so many times I've wanted to do posts like this but ended up on non-official Soundclouds or otherwise dead accounts - I did think about maybe making this one a little longer but I'm pretty content with it as-is, if only for that deep Justice cut alone. Things are winding down IRL so I may be a little more active than usual - there's a mountain of old posts that still need fixing to be re-published so it might not be 'new' content though. Still, I have the makings of another annual winter time mixtape cooking as well so that should be coming up fairly soon, will be a good time. Until next time - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Thursday 9 December 2021

Situational Report

Stuart Davis - New York Waterfront (1938)

Back with a slightly delayed update on Bandcamp Friday pickings up - but if the trains can get away with it then so can I. Not much different to report really, I did end up with pretty much everything that I posted about on the day but with a couple extras but I thought I'd give a little rundown anyway. Let's get stuck in.

Some more Zamilska this time, I did mention in passing last time that it was part of my listening but didn't end up posting any. My definition form last time rings true - Zamilska is an absolute master of her distinct brand of incredibly atmospheric techno - heavy and claustrophobic, usually makes for an intense listen. I've been absolutley addicted to Back lately, cut from the same sort of cloth as Moderat's first album which I've been revisiting as of late. This is the kind of track that is screaming out to be used as an introduction to to a set or mixtape, the steady build and eventual payoff of that lurking melody in the background is absolutely brilliant. A lumbering beast that takes a while to get going, but once it does, it's a perfect example of Zamilska's output.

Another cut from the MSRG EP I picked up as well, one that I only ended up with on my radar to a label email. I've been devouring a whole load of Electro this year and the Afterwork Programming EP was a fine addition to that roster. Fairly short at only 4 tracks, I knew early on that I was going to pick this one up. Following on from the spacey hi-tech of the opening track Dancing Data (that I have a well documented weakness for) we have Keep On Wshn - by contrast a pretty upbeat piece, certainly the fastest Electro track I've picked up as of late, if not the fastest in my entire collection. Reminding me a little of some of the bits on International Deejay Gigolo Records compilations from back in the day actually now I think about it, it has that same kind of MO to the sound. I do love the frantic nature of it, but I must admit the real moment of love happened at about 1:12 when those lush flourishes begin to appear in the mix, they stick around for the rest of the tune thankfully because I can't get enough of them.

And finally a little bit more from Gimmik to round out. Polar opposite of the previous tunes, this one is a much more standard downtempo IDM style affair, this one actually reminds me quite a lot of The Flashbulb's Soundtrack To A Vacant Life in style, both in use field recordings and just generally. Small echoes of Casino Versus Japan's Go Hawaii too, come to think of it. As mentioned last time, Gimmik's work in that early 00's IDM world really shows here, tracks like this would be right at home being released around that time, the majority of this album is very accessible with no proper beat mangling going on but I think All Around The Lake might be the most accessible of the whole bunch - I have a real fondness for them anyway, doubly so at this time of year where I get a little more downtempo than usual. After giving this one a few spins I actually felt a little inspired and jotted down some potential ideas for another of my annual winter time mixtapes, I haven't actually started it yet but stay tuned for that in the near future!

And that'll be all for this time, I'll have to get my head down and get to work on fleshing out that mixtape, surprisingly busier than I remember this time of year but I guess that's to be expected compared to last year. But anyway, I hope you've enjoyed the selections on show here, even if a couple of them are technically repeats! Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Friday 3 December 2021

Last minute checks

Laura Knight - Sundown (1947)

Oh boy it's that time of the month again where Bandcamp Friday has done sneaked up on me again. I've actually been pretty good about it last couple of times so I can't really complain too much - it is my fault this time. With a return to tradition, let's all gather 'round the fireside as I try and find some choice selections from my ever growing wish-list that catch my ear (and hopefully, yours as well).

Kicking off with more from Soichi Terada and his new upcoming LP Asakusa Light. I'd wish-listed it before I even listened to any of it because Terada is among my favourite makers ever since I heard the original Ape Escape OST as a wee one. This album sees him return to House once again rather than the Drum & Bass that introduced me to him - but the man has a long history with the genre and he's damn good at it too. Enter the newest preview track to drop: Double Spire - I was pretty impressed with the last one, Bamboo Fighter and figured I'd take a look at it again, and let me tell you that Terada did not disappoint. Right from the get go, he launches a surgical strike on the deep house loving parts of my brain with a simply gorgeous, luscious pads - and then not content with just that, some swiftly applied pitch bends are there to win me over completely. Garnish with some deliciously retro piano stabs and it only goes from strength to strength. The whole thing isn't out until the 12th of December so I might not pick it up this time around, but if the rest of the LP is of this standard then I may have to do a full-on in-depth dive into it on release. Simply wonderful.

Other than that, I've been keeping up with the trend of the last few months where I've been picking up smatterings of Electro in the old school style. I've mentioned a few of them in passing already, but a new one this time is more from Versalife with the finale of the Night Time Activities series. After loving the first one I listened to the second entry and was kinda lukewarm on it, but there may be time yet for it to grow. Still, didn't want to write off the rest of it without giving it a go, so I put part 3 on just for completions sake - and I'm enjoying it much more than the predecessor, the opening track is right up my alley. Billed on the Bandcamp page as "Dark, sinister and intense!", the first track is anything but: very much of that sleek hi-tech school of sound that you might hear from the one The Other People Place album for example. I think spacing my electro stuff out like this has been a great idea, it can get a bit same-y at times just due to the nature of the genre - but much like my love for that particular brand of early 90's ambient techno stuff, I love to immerse myself in this kind of sound every once in a while.

Other than that, it's been a whirlwind of jumping down my list and sampling bits of it here and there, from the claustraphobic glitch techno of Zamilska to reissues vintage Japanese Ambient records and back again. It's very easy to burn yourself out doing this, I know as I have done it many times over the last year or so and even came close this time.

But to the surprise of no one, I ended up back in IDM territory - I have had a well documented long love affair with the genre (and a hatred of the name). I've added plenty of artists to my wishlist from various early 00's compilations I've gathered over the years and a fair few of them are still active! Martin Haidinger is one of them, with an impressive list of credentials: one half of Abfarht Hinwil and founder of Toytronic Records, the source for a lot of those compilations I mentioned. Back in April he released a new album under the Gimmik alias, Cloudwalker - I posted a track from it back when there was only one available for preview but this was my first time with the whole thing.

I wasn't dissapointed, the track that was up for preview way back when, Carters Final Transmission is very much in my favourite style of IDM - balanced glitchiness with these crisp and flowing synth accompaniment that has an edge of melancholy to it. I've been a little lukewarm on some of Gimmik's past releases but I'm very into this one so far, it sounds very much like the stuff from those early 00's compialtions I was talking about which as I already mentioned isn't a downside to me at all, I will always and forver love this style. Carters Final Transmission might still be my favourite of the bunch, but I've picked out opening track Short Wave Memories to highlight for now as it's probably the most evocative of that old style I mentioned - there's lots of lovely squelchy synths and catchy melodies scattered throughout if you're as big a fan as me. Keep an eye out for more pieces from this one in the near future.

And that'll do it for now - I've got some other things lined up to pick up but I'll figure I'll do a follow up post to this one as it might change a bit between now and then. Not sure if Bandcamp Firdays will continue into the new year, the line from BC themselves just said "Will continue for the rest of 2021", it'll be a shame if they stop but I do understand, they are a company after all, waiving your profits once a month probably isn't ideal. Even if they do stop, I'm thankful that I was personally able to support so many artists that I love and make plenty of new discoveries along the way as well - and I hope you have too! On that note, I'll wrap up here - As always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Saturday 27 November 2021

Same Name Game

Claudio Bravo - Coke Love (1971)

Following through on an idea I had years ago and could have sworn I'd already done a few times - wherin I post duets of tunes that have the same titles. Naturally, the ammo you have for this sort of post only increases with time, and amongst my thousands of tracks there was bound to be some crossover. The real challenge comes from finding ones that are readily available to stream from BC though, I've managed to get all of them on there this time though.

Let's start off with a little bit of a easy one - two Berlins from Moderat and Modeselektor respectively. Of course, Moderat is made up of Modeselektor and Apparat so perhaps cheating a bit, but interesting to see the two different takes from each. We'll start with Moderat's Berlin as it was the first of the two to be released - a surprisingly sedate number from the otherwise minimal and glitchy tones of tracks before and after it. Now of course you all know I am a complete sucker for any and all ambient interludes and this one is no different, it's a gorgeous little breakwater that ushers in the final quarter of the album. Apparat's influence is very clear to hear on this one, especially in the final ten seconds or so, which use almost exactly the same tone of synth as on Over And Over from Apparat's Walls some years prior.

A stark contrast to Modeselektor's Berlin - a bombastic slice of electro house from that era that wastes no time in getting going. The album it's from, Monkeytown, is probably my favourite of the bunch that the 'Selektor boys have put out - but I'm more than willing to admit that a big part of that is a sort of nostalgia for the time when it came out, it was an incredible year for this brand of high energy releases: Teenage Bad Girl's Backwash, Rustie's Glass Swords among others leading the charge. Looking over the track list now, I'm hard pressed to pick out any weak points, the whole album is pretty tightly produced - don't be dissuaded by the amount of 'Featuring' credits on it, each one is finely selected and runs the full gamut from Thom Yorke to Busdriver. Perhaps a little short at 11 tracks but that's nothing when they're all so good. Berlin is one of the high points though for all the reasons I mentioned above, I just love the sound that Modeselektor had around this time, and this one (and really the whole album) are absolutely coated in it.

The theme of contrasts continues with the next two - partially inspired by my last post where I revisited Graeme Norgate's OST work. We'll flip the format this time and hit up the uptempo one first with the opening track from Perturbator's The Uncanny Valley. Perturbator's brand of synthwave is one of my favourites, I was aware of them in passing but like so many others out there I only really took a closer look after the Hotline Miami soundtrack introduced me in full, and what a perfect fit Peturbator's sound is, perfectly at home in the slightly psychedelic ultra-violent world of Hotline Miami. The Uncanny Valley continues that trend, much more cinematic feeling than previous releases, but that's to be expected if you read into the background lore of the album: all about a technological cult in the year 2112. With Neo Tokyo as the opening track it'd be easy to assume this is all full power synthwave for the full runtime but there are some real nice downtempo bits nestled in there too - my favourite of which being Femme Fatale. Tune in and log on, get a load of this.

And finally, another bit from Norgate. His NeoTokyo is a very different beast to Perturbator's and takes more than a few cues from Blade Runner (which to be fair, the level itself did as well if the '2019' date on it didn't make it clear enough). The past few times I've talked up Norgate's work it's been upbeat ones but the man certainly knows how to set an atmosphere - tracks like this and the Siberia theme do a fantastic job of setting the tone for the levels in question. Again quite cinematic actually, not bad for the soundtrack to what is on paper an arcade FPS. Having said that it does suffer a little from being a mite cliché at times with the stock samples used to create that kind of generic 'eastern' feel, but in my case the nostalgia overpowers that. Still, even so I think it has a charm to it, the non-sample contributions are as good as ever, though for the complete effect you'll need to play some ambient rain sounds in the background to match how it is in the game!

And that will be all for this time around, I have another couple lined up but they probably won't use the Bandcamp players so I've put them to one side for a potential sequel along with any others that I might come across in the meantime. This one took a little longer than I expected but that's purely down to me meandering a bit, I wanted to finish it up last night but it was one of those Murphy's Law kind of nights you know? Anyway, you don't come to the blog to hear me vent so I'll call it here. Hope all of you folks in the USA have a good Thanksgiving weekend and as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.


Monday 22 November 2021

'Tis the season

Jamie Wyeth - Winter Pig (1975)

That time of year again where I bust out the downtempo stuff (which to be fair, is true for the rest of the year as well, but it does increase around now). Had a quick peruse over my playlist and had a look to see if there was anything I could share - feels a little more limited than usual but I also didn't take a deep dive and see what was available on Bandcamp, I just snagged some that I knew I already owned.

But I digress, let's get into the tunes. First of all we have some more from Flunk - I found Flunk back when I went crate digging (albeit digitally) through the back-catalogue of Guidance Recordings. Guidance, on top of being one of my favourite house imprints ever, also massively dabbled in the downtempo side of things - even releasing a whole series of compilations focused on Dub and Lounge style stuff. The original album For Sleepyheads Only is very fitting of its title, a very fine slice of early 00's downtempo goodness. But this time we're talking about the accompanying remix album called Treat Me Like You Do (the title taken from the Blue Monday cover on the original LP), I've chosen Athome Project's remix of See Thru You - I'm pretty sure I've posted it before but it's probably my favourite of the bunch so it bears repeating. A stripped back and skeletal version of the original that dials up the Trip Hop side quite a bit, it's very fitting of the Vinterdepresjonsmix subtitle - I don't think you need a translation for that one.

Taking things back in a predictable IDM direction next with a bit from Casino Versus Japan's second album Go Hawaii. Actually my introduction to CvJ, it's a fun little album with some real nice tunes on it. I've long since posted and re-posted my favourites from the middle of the album: Local Forecast and Metrobolt respectively, but the rest of the LP is certainly worth your time if you enjoy them. With very faint echoes of Boards Of Canada on It's Very Sunny and the closing track Go Hawaii, the whole album has this kind of lo-fi feel that really sets it apart, the DIY sounding electronics of the two tracks mentioned above being the real highlight for me. I've chosen Over Island this time around, which follows a similar off kilter DIY sound to the above two, but with a much more jaunty feel - a dash of hip hop and the more playful melodies of Aphex Twin circa the Richard D. James Album era will put you in the right ballpark. Most of the album still sounds fairly fresh as well despite it coming up on 20 years old - pick it up if you're looking for some hazy vibes as the seasons change.

And one final repeat just because. We revisit the soundtracks for the TimeSplitters series once again, they had a profound impact on me as a young'un - Graeme Norgate (previously of Rare fame and behind some of the OST for Perfect Dark and GoldenEye as well!) proved to be incredibly versatile when making tunes for the time-hopping setting of the series, ranging from full on swing for a 1920's nightclub to pulsing techno for the year 2401. Sometimes I do wonder if some of it is just blinkers from nostalgia, but then sometimes a track like the Spy Fi Tileset theme comes on and I can't help but feel like I'd fall in love regardless. Norgate has a real ear for melodies as frequently demonstrated on his OST work, and freed from the confines of audio having to fit on a cartridge, his work shines even brighter. In-game, the Spy Fi theme appears as the 'Industrial' theme which is a pretty apt description actually, at least for the opening portion. I'm forever grateful that Norgate and Free Radical put this soundtrack up for download way back when - they were ahead of the curve in that respect, and to Norgate for continuing to keep it alive via his Bandcamp.

Righto, that'll be a wrap for today, things are quieting down roundabout now as well so I should be able to put these posts out a little more reliably, I still have some bite-sized ones in the draft pile that I might put out as well, in addition to one really long post that needs a bit of a tidy that I might try and put out come the holidays. But there I go digressing again. So, until next time, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday 16 November 2021

Random Handful

Peter Alexander - Contoy (1988)
Swinging by with a handful of tunes - wasting no time in getting down with some of the latest from ThorHighHeels, a video producer with a unique aesthetic who also occasionally dabbles in the music world. Their work has that same effervescent, unserious feel that permeates their video content, as seen most prominently on the latest music release Skung with track titles like "FRAME RATE SINGLE DIGETS LETS GOOOOOOOOO". Surprising no one, my favourite from it so far is very much in the vein of Positive Yellow that I have posted before. The kind where Thor taps into that latent mutual love that we share for that very specific PS1 Demo Disc style sound: that weird hybrid every techy genre that was out there at the time - techno, jungle and the like. I do quite like the closing track as well, the aptly named PS3 Beat, a great twist on the masses of tunes out there that sample the PS1 and 2 startup noises.

One of the few times that Bandcamp's 'new from' feature has failed me, I only knew of this one because the artist in question sent out an info email with it on. Sense returns, his work I'm most familiar with is that certain kind of early 00's fragile ambient come IDM style stuff that is very pretty. But those albums I know are either 20 years old, or are coming close to it, so what does Sense sound like now? Well, I can't speak for his main releases, but the title of Grey Sky Dub kinda gives away the game for this latest one. Much more in the style of say, Swayzak in terms of tone and sound as we enter the world of dubby techno, this release is made up of "...a collection of various live jams over the years that we have restored and remastered" and it certainly feels like it. I don't mean that in a negative way, I do have a bit of a fondness for stuff that sounds like an extended jam session. Gathering sounds like you've just dropped into the middle of a set with how it starts, a little minimal for my tastes in all honesty - but I do sometimes like to take a deep dive into this world and that is especially true right now.

Speaking of, I was actually putting some Swayzak back in rotation actually, I haven't mentioned them much just because a lot of their stuff is pretty hard to find legally streaming - though the bandcamp is full of hidden gems and other gubbins too. Their debut is over there which is a great place to start, it does have a slightly different tracklist from the original release but even so it's a great crash course in Swayzak of the era - super long techy house stuff. Snowboarding In Argentina is a hefty chunk to get stuck into, even though its only 7 tracks the shortest of them clocks in at a still fairly hefty 7 mins 30. I've already posted my two all time faves from this album, but in reality the opening trio is a solid introduction to the sound. Burma Heights is probably the least minimal of the three, the massive squealing chords that back up most of it can get a little obnoxious at times but I'm kinda into it at the minute, and I just adore the smooth swimming sounds of the intro that are persistent throughout.

And that'll do it for this slightly eclectic roundup of what I've had on over the past day or so, hope they appeal to you as much as they do me. It's a pretty wild selection, but then again these are wild times. Git a quiet tail end of the week so I may cue up a couple more posts as well, might be time to do the last instalment (for the time being) of the bite-sized bits. Keep an ear out but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Friday 12 November 2021

Charity Run 02.3

Been a while since I did one of these - the whole point was to be a series after all. It's been a good few months since I got around to picking up the Touched Two compilation, a massive 250+ track compilation and I'm pretty sure there's more than half of it that I haven't heard. But every now and then a track or two will pop up and it's most of the time a great addition. The sheer amount of variety it's added can't be overstated! So I figured I'd go through and pick out some recent highlights that I remember from it - Honestly I think shuffle is the best way to listen to it, the tracklist itself is arranged alphabetically by artist anyway so it just ups the variety even more. There's plenty of big names on there as I've said before, so I figured this time I'd focus more on random finds I'd made instead.

Starting off with a suitably cyberpunky bit from Anodyne in Off World Blues - a lot of the crew on Touched Two operate in the more experimental side of the electronic music sphere, there's boatloads of IDM and Ambient spread across the 200 entries. Anodyne's works fall into the former category mostly, but as I always say 'IDM' to too broad a term to really get an idea of how something sounds. Off World Blues is fairly middle of the road, it's not going to blow your away with crazy complex snare rushes for one, though there is still a glicthy side to the beat work. Backed with some suitably Blade Runner brassy synths given the title, it's one of many standouts from the whole thing I've come across recently.

Shifting gears down next with Music That Brings Good News from Midimode, a number that I think I can best describe as Jaunty. As if to further illustrate my point above, we're still very firmly in IDM territory here but with a wildly different sound: much more off-kilter than the steady thump of Off World Blues and with a kind of whimsical sound to it that is present on a couple of Aphex Twin tracks from the Richard D. James Album era like Fingerbib. Add in a dash of vintage sampling as on the intro a la Mr. Scruff's Ambiosound and the package is complete, perhaps not Plone levels of cheery playfulness, but it's still more than enough to raise smile on a dreary day - befitting of the title really!

And finally, something a little more on the ambient side to round things out, I've not actually touched on (ha!) that side of this compilation yet, not for lack of material to go at though - all the ambient bits I've heard on here have been beautiful. The latest one to catch my ear is this one from Port-Royal, I'd seen their name around on my travels through n5MD's catalogue but never took the time to look at their work in detail. And truth be told it's not strictly ambient, the first part is for sure, but it is in reality an extended intro to what eventually segues into something a little more like a hybrid between Post-rock and general techy IDM. I don't mean to sound dismissive when I say that, it's a great experience overall, the opening ambience lusciously swells and twins with the glitchy electronic elements beautifully - and when the drums come slamming into the mix around the halfway point (at roundabout 4 mins exactly) it is just divine. Great stuff and another one to add to the ever-growing 'to check out' list.

And that'll be all for this time, apologies for the slightly bigger gap between posts than usual, it's been a bit of a busy week. I think the tiny bite-sized posts may take a backseat for a while now, I am very much enjoying the return back to multiple players per post and feel like I have a little bit more time to dedicate to the long-form ones now anyway. There may be one or two more just before I file them away, but you can pretty much expect a full return of this format going forward. Anyway - I hope you've enjoyed our brief dip back into this compilation today, I can highly recommend picking up the full thing if you'd like an absolute buffet of new music, it's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content you get, and it's all for charity too! I'll be back soon enough with more but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Sunday 7 November 2021

Days of Electropop

Feels like it's been a long time since I did my last Bandcamp Friday roundup post, I already had an idea of what I was gonna pickup for this one so it wasn't too much of a scramble to find somethings to get this time around. As the title says, this time I took a deep dive into the world of synth/electropop - every so often I'll get the itch (normally after revisiting some of my favourites like Röyksopp's Junior), and I took this opportunity to fully indulge.

Albrecht Behmel - Singer (2015)

Starting off with Freezepop again. I did mention this album not too long ago, but I ended up scooping it again digitally on Bandcamp as it came with some nifty bonus tracks, and Freezepop do a lovely thing where they include a PDF of the liner notes which I really appreciate. I'm going to echo what I said last time in that this album is markedly more mature sounding than the twee electroclash of earlier Freezepop (which isn't a criticism, long time readers will know I am an absolute fiend for kitschy electroclash of all kinds). That said, it still has it's moments that recall that slightly tongue-in-cheek sound of old, most prominent on Lose That Boy - it not only has that spoken-word style delivery of the Electroclash days but also features cheeky asides like "And not to be shallow or anything, but you are way cuter than him too" at the end of the second verse and "In all fairness, maybe you're a crappy girlfriend too. I don't know, I just met you" at the very end, which is a cute little bit of nostalgia.

Where the album really shines though is on those more contemporary tracks. Very much in the vein of Junior as mentioned in the opening lines, it's a very poppy approach that was in fashion at the time, one that I hoped would leak its way onto the radio what with the popularity of La Roux and company at the time. And that's really most of this album in a nutshell: it's full of great wordplay as most Freezepop releases are, backed with some real catchy melodies and I am very much back in love with it at the moment. It's been tricky to pick just one tune from here to summarise it, but I think Strange does a fantastic job - I could live in that chorus forever.

What would a list like this be without some Au Revior Simone? They always seem to appear whenever I take a trip into this sound, but their place is well deserved. After singing the praises of Move In Spectrums for so long I figured I'd jump back a little for this one. Still Night, Still Light still has some of the indie/folky trappings of their earlier work, but having said that the electronics have always been a constant, just be aware that this album is distinctly less electronic than Spectrums. My favourite feature of Au Revior Simone tracks is how they often feel very... DIY, for want of a better term - skeletal keyboards and plastic drums give the proceedings this cosy, indie feel. And that is very much on show here with Knight Of Wands, which I fell madly in love with years ago upon hearing those delicious pitch bends introduced around the 55 second mark.

It's been quite a while since we've heard anything from the Simone gals - they haven't released a full length since 2013 (14 if you count the remix album of Spectrums), but they did put out some solo singles on their Bandcamp in 2020, including a studio version for one of the tracks they performed on the Twin Peaks reboot, so there may still be hope yet. I'd love to have some more new material from them but I also know you can't force these things either. Until then, there's plenty to listen to as-is.

And finally, an addition that's been a long time coming - Young Ejecta (Formerly known as just Ejecta). I first found Young Ejecta when I went looking up Joel Ford when writing a post about Ford & Lopatin's Channel Pressure album (Ford & Lopatin also previously known as Games) and found it listed among the groups he's in alongside Leanne Macomber.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect going in, Joel Ford has dabbled in many genres over the years, from the 80's inspired synthpop of the Ford & Lopatin project, to the full-on Vaporwave of the predecessor Games, even at times venturing into proper house territory. Dominae, the first album from (Young) Ejecta dwells in much the same space as the previous tracks in this post though in that it's straight up synthpop. Don't be put off by the cover, all of the covers for Ejecta releases feature a nude Leanne Macomber, Dominae is probably the safest of them all though - the sound isn't hard or edgy like the covers would suggest though. Leanne's soft vocals throughout make for a slightly dreamier experience than the other examples I've posted here, and once again it was hard to pick just one track to summarise the experience. After much back and forth I decided to go for the opening track Mistress, not only because it's a great intro tune but I think it nicely encapsulates the whole album. At the risk of sounding cliché, if you like the sound of this one you could happily pick up the rest of Dominae and not be disappointed. It's lovely and I plan on adding the rest of their releases to my collection soon enough.

And that'll be all for today, I've thoroughly enjoyed my dive back into the world of this sound, and I hope you have too. Each of these albums I've picked are all from around the early 10's which doesn't sound too far away but is fast approaching nearly 10 years ago which will never fail to rattle me a little. Still, I enjoy them quite a lot, part of me will always have an affinity for this sound that I like to treat myself to from time to time. I'll be back soon enough with more words and music for you all but until then - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday 2 November 2021

November Has Come

Francis Bacon - Head VI (Year)

Had grand ideas about starting up another week of Bite-sized Bits and all that but you know what? It's only Tuesday and I've already had enough, people up to their usual bullshit and it's frankly baffling. But you don't come here to hear me vent, so let's get into the meat of today. In what's fast becoming a roundabout once-a-month trend I've decided to just chuck down some more cathartic tunes down instead, a return to the more classic post format really.

Grabbed a random selection this time but there are some usual suspects in there. Some of which I think have come up before, the first one definitely has - Clark's recreation of Milanese's So Malleable. A Very different beast to the original: fully loaded with Clark's trademark grit but with a proper old school Drill & Bass edge that recalls classic Warp, especially early Squarepusher. The last quarter takes a total ambient turn as well, which operates as a nice cooling off period after the bevy of breaks. Pretty wild to see Clark tackle some hard Drum & Bass compared to his usual works, but he does real well.

More from Alec Lambert next, with one of the more soundtrack-y bits from Heaven Will Be Mine. I've been enamoured with it for a while as you might have been able to tell from the repeated appearances it keeps making - it does a fantastic job of setting the mood even separated from the visuals, particularly for Electrotoxin, I'd say you could hazard a guess at the style of it from this alone. This one is at home being actively listened to as it is in the background, which I suppose goes without saying when it comes to soundtrack work but the point stands. Full of great little touches throughout - tiny digital glitches that make the whole thing feel off kilter for one, but my favourite is the super time-stretched breakdown starting around 2:10 or so, I've always been a sucker for that kind of effect anyway but the way the mix drops back in like a sucker punch afterwards makes it all the more visceral to boot.

Some Dopplereffekt now, this one has a nasty habit of coming and going in and out of availability on other streaming services, but thankfully Bandcamp is always there as a backup. The A-side of the Tetrahymena EP is a masterclass in my favourite bits of Dopplereffekt. Cold, clinical, calculating electro / techno stuff. Dark waves of plunging bass and ethereal almost MIDI voices make it by far and away the standout track on here. Not to say the other tracks aren't as good though, the high tech vibes of Gene Silencing are also trademark Dopplereffekt as well, albeit the softer side when compared to the all out darkness of Tetrahymena.

And finally a bit of Noisia, with a release I thought I wish listed but didn't. Noisia have done a fair bit of soundtrack work over the last few years or so, and thankfully they have most of it collected on their label's page for easy access. Not so much their older releases, but I figure that's just red tape from before they made their own label and/or releases that weren't on their own anyway. Regardless, I'm going to steal a bit of the BC page description here to set the tone: 'Armajet is a game with its roots in 90’s twitch shooters. Hardcore, unforgiving, instant, inhuman.' between that and the actual shoutout to the soundtrack of Unreal Tournament '99 from them in their description, I was on board before even hitting play.

Keeping in that 90's shooter theme we have Wallhack. It, like Electrotoxin, is quite soundtrack-y as far as Noisia productions go - straying a little from the Drum & Bass you might know them for, bordering pehaps more on the Dubstep side of things. But it's been a while since I've touched anything of that kind so I'm into it a little bit, a proper little stomper this one, a fine finale to this selection.

Man, it has been a while since a longer one like this hasn't it? Can't guarantee it'll stay like this for long just because this time of year is super busy for me but I might make an effort to put more of these down, it's been a fun switch up. Can't say when I'll be back with another post but it shouldn't be *too* long. But until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Saturday 30 October 2021

Some Short Spooky Selections

Finally making good on an idea I've had for some years but always just missed or plain forgotten about. Every year I think 'I should make another Halloween tape thing' - made a good compromise that one year with a Spotify playlist but as with a lot of things in my collection - some of the stuff just plain isn't available to stream legally and will probably never be. Not this time though, I've gone ahead and compiled a suitably spooky selection of tunes for this year. I'd hesitate to call it a mixtape like I have my other ones but I have tried a little bit to do some creative transitions where possible - kind of needed to with the abrupt end of the TeddyLoid tune after all. I'll be posting a full tracklist and mini-breakdown after the player!

TeddyLoid - Zombie (TV Version)
Mr. Oizo - Pourriture X
Alec Lambert - Silly Game
Sidewalks and Skeletons - VALLEY OF WOLVES
Kensuke Ushio - Empty Eyes
Akira Yamaoka - Heaven's Night
Akira Yamaoka - Alone In The Town

We kick off with my No. 1 provider of Electro House nostalgia in TeddyLoid. His soundtrack contributions for Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt go hard (no pun intended!), Zombie is a bonus track included on a pack-in CD with a volume of the show so it probably won't be available on streaming like the other albums from the show are, if you're after some delish electro house circa like 2010 I highly recommend them all. Given it's sudden end I had to come up with something, and I settled on the spookiest version of Oizo's Pourriture series - 'X'. It's not my favourite of the lot, I think that would have to be Pourriture 7, but I can't deny the change up in sound on this one makes it feel like it's from a horror flick.

A new addition next with a bit from the soundtrack to Heaven Will Be Mine - not a spooky game but a lot of it's soundtrack is haunting. And Silly Game strikes a nice balance between the two especially in the latter half. Next we get some classic witch house style vibes from Sidewalks and Skeletons. Originally one of the few artists on my list with no specific track in mind - as the name might suggest a great deal of Skeleton's output is of that particular spooky vibe. I ended up picking something a little less well known from them - as much as I love tracks like Drifter I felt it better to shine a light on other tracks this time. If you enjoy that, you'll not put a foot wrong by picking up the whole album.

And a soundtrack roundup to play things out, a beautifully atmospheric piece (among many others) from Kensuke Ushio's soundtrack to the 2019 Boogiepop And Others. Ushio's work has fast become some of my favourites in recent times, both under his own name and his Agraph alias as well - gorgeous glitchy IDM offerings aplenty from him. Of course, what would a spooky selection be without some bits from Akira Yamaoka? The man behind some of Silent Hill's most famous soundtracks and sound designer for the original 4, his works are sometimes unsettling but sprinkled throughout are lovely bits of ambience and sometimes even full-on Trip Hop stuff. I've chosen a couple of those Trip Hop pieces from Silent Hill 2's soundtrack to play things out - the two in question play back-to-back on the official released soundtrack and flow together near seamlessly. Yamaoka cites Portishead as an influence and I think that's plain to see on these two. And that wraps the selections for this year, it was fun to finally get them down for once - hopefully I remember to do the same next year!

I'll be back sometime the middle of next week with another regular post, but I hope yo enjoy this little tape in the meantime. And of course, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music!


Wednesday 27 October 2021

Bite-sized Bits 24

Sophie Taeuber-Arp - Rising, Falling, Flying (1934)

James Stinson has made more than a few appearances as of late - never under his actual name, usually under one of his many guises. One of the enigmatic members of Drexciya, Stinson is behind many of my classic electro favourites, and today I thought I'd bring up one that I haven't actually touched on before. What I especially admire about Stinson's work is the theming that often comes with them - you have the high-tech melancholy of The Other People Place's Lifestyles Of The Laptop Café, the self-professed love letter to Kraftwerk that is the Elektroids' Elektroworld (though the exact membership of the Elektroids was never fully estabished, a 2008 Warpmart listing had "Produced by Drexciya's late James Stinson" as a bit of promo text), to the very obvious aquatic influence that underpins the entirety of Drexciya's output.

Continuing that trend we have an album I haven't actually mentioned before from another alias of Stinson's: Transllusion with The Opening Of The Cerebral Gate. Cerebreal is a perfect descriptior of it, a little more esoteric than the other examples I've listed, loaded with themes of mentality and psychedelic touches - to quote the bandcamp page directly for a moment: "hypercharged arpeggios and driving pulse patterns, morse-like tones and chord stabs, huge, über-booming tympanic kicks and grainy snares"

My favourites, surprising no one, are the more airy tracks. I've chosen Dimensional Glide for this time, those of you familliar with Stinson's other works will immediately clock the shared sound DNA between this and his other projects. Glide is the longest track on the whole thing, but when I get really into it those 7 minutes pass by like nothing. It's a wonderful piece and defintely is my absolute favourite of the lot, but if you dig this I can highly recommend not only the full thing but pretty much everything that Stinson ever did.

I've got a little somethin' different lined up for the end of this week so expect a break from this format, but I must admit I have enjoyed being able to just go all in on one specific track like I have done here. Until then, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.


Monday 25 October 2021

Bite-sized Bits 23

Robert Cottingham - Don't Walk (1991)

A very quick 'the morning of' post this time - I knew for a while I was going to cover some DMX Krew stuff but I wasn't sure which one to pick and I figured it'd be pretty easy. Famous last words though isn't it? I had a quick run-through of We Are DMX to pick something as I think it's the album I've represented the least - which is pretty surprising because it was my first dive into full length offerings from Ed DMX. There are so many ones I could have picked from the album though - and that's doubly true for the slightly expanded edition that's now on Bandcamp.

I mention it every time DMX comes up but he has a very playful approach to his works - there is a lot of deliberate irony and embracing of the cheesier side of genres that inspire him - breaks, funk and electro. I think of all the albums he has, We Are DMX has the most examples of that: with tracks like Street Boys and Konnichi Wa! back to back and honourable mentions scattered throughout the track list like Twenty Minute Affair and Good Time Girl. The one I've chosen for today is more middle-of-the-road as it turns out, the instrumentation is still decidedly retro but there's no cheeky self-aware lyrics like the ones I just mentioned - in fact the vocals appear only once in the entire thing at 1:20, but they do wonders to compliment that retro feel. Truth be told I think they could have done with a couple more appearances throughout, but the fact it's a one-off makes the payoff that much sweeter.

And that'll be all for today, this week is pretty hectic so I will try and keep to the schedule, but anything could happen in the meantime! Until next time, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.