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.