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.


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