Saturday, 26 November 2022

Flying Visit

Domenico Gnoli - Unbottoned Button (1969)

Apologies for the big gaps once again, I've been busy and not really felt like writing too much. I've been keeping notes on tracks I do want to talk about though, so let's get stuck in. I've been revisiting HEALTH's Death Magic once again, it's a record I love a whole lot. There are a couple of tracks on it that break with how I remember the full thing though - when I think HEALTH, I picture their noise-infused sound with lyrics streaked with nihilism. LIFE however, feels much more lighter in execution.

The noise element is still there with that deliciously distorted opening hook, but the delivery and lyrical content here feels much more... indie, for want of a better term, The kind of track that would break onto the radio every now and then - the chorus of "I don't know what I want, but I know that I don't know what I want" being that kind of clever rhythmical wordplay that is catchy as all get out. It's a feel it shares with LA LOOKS, a track that actually did appear on some indie compilations of the time.

Next is a track I've talked at length about in the past, the closing track for The Chemical Brothers' Push The Button: Surface To Air. Coming back to this album has been a bit of a mixed bag, I loved it way back when a friend loaned the CD to me way back when but some of the tracks have fallen prey to overplaying. Tracks like The Big Jump and Galvanize for example. Now that isn't a knock on the album, hell, it's not even the Chem. Bros' fault - those tracks have just been licensed and soundtracked a million times since release.

But that's maybe why I've fallen in with tracks like Surface To Air. It's a masterclass in the way the Bros build up tracks - perfectly placed as the final track of the album, it really feels like a complete journey over the 7 minute runtime. It takes a little while to get going, but I can't help falling in love all over again come around the 1 minute mark. It doesn't leave you hanging for the entire runtime, it only takes until roundabout the halfway mark for the full effect to come into play. signposted with a lovely almost post-rock-esque crescendo. And even then it's not done, adding a lovely bass line not long after and continuing to evolve over the rest of the runtime! It's a fantastic piece, frustratingly only available on the premium Soundcloud legitimately so I'm including a YT player as well for the full thing.

And that'll be all for today, I am going to try and be a little more active soon as things are winding down, I have plenty to write about but it is finding time that is the issue! I may change tack and do some more of these smaller posts in future to mitigate that a bit, but it shouldn't be long before I can return to my usual ones. At any rate - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Charting the Stars

Getting around to writing this, I was waiting until all my tech woes were sorted out. A little bit of a retrospective this time, after seeing that Justice's Planisphere is now available as a separate release, I thought it'd be good to take a closer look at it once more. It's an interesting curio of the duo's discography - originally a promo CD for a Dior show back in '08, it'd see another release on the digital version of Audio, Video, Disco in its entire long form version (that replaced other bonus track Presence from the other versions) as well. And here we are again with another standalone release, coinciding with Ed Banger's new Bandcamp push, complete with updated artwork to boot. Let's take a look.

And speaking of that artwork, it should tip you off to the kind of experience you're in store for here. On the four parts of Planisphere, the Justice boys wear their hearts on their sleeves - a 17 minute epic that encapsulates all their influences. Personally I think the whole saga works better in parts than as one continuous stream, but I suppose the full length version is more in line with the very clear prog rock influence on display, see the extended jams of say, Tangerine Dream for reference.

Part I sets the stage - channeling the cinematic opening of Genesis with some dramatic piano stabs... for about 45 seconds or so before we land both feet firmly in that Cross-era sound. If you rinsed that record as much as I did back then you'll immediately hear the similarities. Personally I find Part I to be a bit plodding in terms of pacing for the first half but then again it is supposed to be the soundtrack to a fashion show so we are missing an integral part of the experience. That all changes in the second half though, where things take a very Valentine turn around the 3 minute mark - and it is brilliant.

Part 2 leans heavily on the duo's penchant for slightly spooky soundtracks (as they did previously with the Goblin sample for Phantom) at the very beginning, before settling back into that Valentine-esque groove. At the 50 second mark we start to take off and we launch back into something that shares more in common with the heavier sides of their debut LP, very Waters Of Nazareth in execution. The shortest of the Tetralogy, it does feel very much like a bridge between the two parts, especially given the sudden change at the very end that ushers in part III.

III continues that trend, leading with that grinding, almost engine revving sound that underpinned the Justice sound of the time. I think it might be my least favourite of the bunch, but not for any particular reason - looking over my 'played' stats for them all it is the lowest of the four but that's not a great metric to measure that by as Part IV is heavily skewing those numbers, but we'll get to that in due time. Because in reality, as good as the rest of the parts are, IV really, really steals the show.

And it wastes no time making that clear from the get-go. Opening with a frankly decadent display of guitar shredding. It is between this and SebastiAn's bootleg of Killing In The Name Of I was able to get a few metal-heads into electronic back in my high school days. The crescendo of this extended jam is up there as one of the finest tracks the duo have ever made, an exclamation mark at the end of an already killer tracklist. All these years later, the build up and break at 1:10 still makes me a little excited, catapulting me back to my days of chasing the next electro banger of the week. I've said in the past I'm not the biggest fan of guitar noodling, especially in electronic music - but I'll be damned if it doesn't work wonders here. For the final 3 quarters it is a non-stop barrage of furious fretwork, an absolute tour de force.

I might not have kept up as much with Justice or the rest of the Ed Banger crew, but coming back to tracks like this never fail to bring me right back to that heyday. Planisphere has aged a little more gracefully than some other examples of the era, partly because it's not out there to be this week's hot thing for the dance floor, but even so I'm sure that it'd still get the floor filled as it is. While not as pervasive as their debut album Cross, Planisphere is widely held up as one of Justice's finest hours, and hopefully as you've heard, rightfully so. Predictably the Vinyl version sold out pretty rapidly, folks on Discogs have been begging for it for literal years if you go back and look. It might have been in stock if I'd have posted this when I originally intended to, but between tech issues and Life™ it's been delayed slightly.

Even so, I hope you've enjoyed this little look back, whether you're a Ed Banger Veteran or this is your first time. I still have to write that full breakdown of last month's bandcamp Friday, and if I don't hurry up I'll end up having to do two back to back! I'm gonna try write a couple quicker ones in the meantime too but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Sunday, 6 November 2022

November's Friday Result: Prelude

Just a quick post here before I dive into the full fat of my last Bandcamp Friday. It was a pretty big haul, more-so than usual and I'd like to take my time with a full writeup. But, I am also aware it's been a little while in my last post, so I figured why not cover all those bases (and the added bonus of troubleshootin' the old Hype Machine again) in one swoop with a little quick update? Let's go.
Sarah Morris - The Mirage (Las Vegas) (1999)

As I mentioned up top, a fairly big haul this time, a few records I've been eyeing up for a while, one of which I think may pan out into a Retro Review down the line. There were some last minute additions as well in the form of two more compilations from Touched Music, the charity label I've talked about before. I scooped their absolutely massive second entry Touched Two some months back and I've still yet to full digest the depths of it's 255 tracks. I've had a few more in my wish-list since then, including the Found Sound series, a much more 'IDM' focused set of compilations from what I'd read. The label mentioned via email that for a limited time the two of them would be 'pay what you want' as they also announced an upcoming third entry in the series too, so at the very last minute I gave both of them a spin and added them to my cart.

Much easier to get into than the big 255 tracker one, the two Found Sounds clock in at a much more readable 59 tracks. It's early doors yet so I don't have any absolute favourites to report back with as of yet, but there are plenty of contenders. From volume one I've chosen Fxmas mod DAISY CHAIN 25o [brkn rotary hesitant snr] which sounds like some of the names I give my project files. It's a playful little number that evokes that Aphex Twin vibe circa Richard D. James Album. It's been quite a while since I delved into the 'fun' side of the IDM world, my favourites tend to be a little more cold and technical feeling, so having this one come on was very refreshing indeed.

From the second entry we have something more in line with what I just mentioned, as the title Beta might give away. It's perhaps a little generic if you're fully immersed in the world of IDM, especially as the original release this track appeared on is from 1999, but it's a style of sound that I have a lot of love for. It's been quite a long time since I really sought out anything that sounds like this so I will admit some bias there as well! I just can't help but love that really specific brand of hi-tech sounds like this that was coming out around the late 90's to early 00's, which makes sense as my last real deep dive into this sound was a combination of releases on Toytronic and early net-label pioneers Monotonik. That's part of the appeal of the Touched releases for me actually, you get a whole heap of new names to check out if you dig their stuff.

One last track to round things off, I had the lone Reporter EP I talked about a while back come on - Seasonal Rhythms - which spurred me on to get some more. It's a very pretty release and I'd plain forgotten to wish-list some other Reporter releases so it served as a good reminder. I settled on the Guggenheim EP, originally released as a CDr in 2004. I must say the updated artwork is much nicer and very much suits the slick electronics contained. Each track named for a location, they really could all go here quite comfortably. I've chosen Vegas this time around - by far the darkest sounding of the bunch, it's much closer to that cold and artificial feeling I described really enjoying a few paragraphs back. Not sure it's my favourite of the lot, but you can certainly expect to see not only more of this EP, but more Reporter in general in the posts to come.

And that'll be all for today, I know I said up top I'd left it a little longer than I'd like between posts but that might not be as bad as I made out, this post felt really speedy to write! That might be due to the sheer amount of new music I got recently though come to think of it, but maybe an extra day or two isn't so bad. At any rate, I'll be back soon enough with more - a full writeup of the rest of my Friday scoops coming up next with some more from the releases mentioned here and some others that I haven't brought up as of yet. There's some public transport carnage in my neck of the woods this coming week so no doubt I'll find some time to sit and do a full writeup. Until then, as always: stay safe and enjoy the music.


Saturday, 29 October 2022

Almost There

Good news is the issues on *this* site are fixed. I think. I'm not sure how things were set up before, couldn't make heads or tails of how it was set up or what went wrong so I've gone with an alternate solution that *should* have the same outcome. I finished fixing it up a couple days ago and you shouldn't have seen any changes, bar from a brief window where I needed to fix the naked redirect, which isn't as fun as the name would imply. But enough about tech, let's talk tunes.

The Understanding has a much more surreal cover than the super clean modernist look of Melody A.M.

Seems that every year around this time I go back to Röyksopp, I'd like to say it's to synchronise with the seasons but really I think it's just I get the itch every few months or so. I have a lot of love for the Röyksopp lads, they are one of the longest serving acts in my collection after I picked up Melody A.M. sometime in the early 00's - as did many people, Melody A.M. is one of those albums that was everywhere at the time, much like Moby's Play a couple years before it, it is one of those albums that even if you think you haven't heard anything from it, you absolutely have. From advertisements to the soundtrack to the setup program for OS X Panther, it popped up everywhere.

While they have never really reached the same levels of mainstream success as that time, their output since has been consistently a highlight for me. The Understanding was the immediate follow up to Melody and a marked a subtle maturation in sound, there's a lot more acoustic elements on this album as the melancholy piano of opening track Triumphant shows off from the jump. It's not long before things take a familiar turn around the 30 second mark. Towards the end things take a bit of a turn towards the cinematic, but that's not entirely unexpected given some of the cuts on Melody A.M. I'll be posting both the Soundcloud and YT embed here just for coverage.

Beyond just the instrumentals though there is plenty more to get stuck into, there is of course the incredible What Else Is There?. A collaboration between Röyksopp and Karin Dreijer of The Knife, it should come as no surprise to you reading that it is probably my overall favourite from the album. That melancholic streak is much more pronounced here, and backed up by Karin's incredibly powerful vocal makes it an absolute experience. It was off the heels of this and some other The Knife tracks that Karin quickly became one of my favourite vocalists, and seeing them reunite with Röyksopp again on Junior was a real treat. The success of this track no doubt amplified by the equally evocative video, it's a shame that the file hasn't been updated with a more HD version and it is stuck in its crunchy 2008 form, but even so it remains iconic.

Completing my whirlwind tour of this album we have Dead To The World, the penultimate track. It brings the album to a nice close with its dreamy vibes, it reminds me a little in parts of the more country inspired parts of Brian Eno's Apollo - Atmospheres & Soundtracks, but that could also just be a by-product of the sample from Camel's Who We Are that comes up in the mix. This track also showcases something I've not yet talked about with this LP, I believe this album is the first time that Röyksopp themselves do some of the vocals, with Melody A.M. featuring all guest vocalists. At least, on a released album as the live shows from around the time have them on vocoders if I remember right. They do a fine job, perhaps a bit mumbly and difficult to make out in parts but by no means bad, and they would only improve on later releases.

And that'll be all for today, the soundcloud set actually includes the 5 bonus tracks from the limited edition which are all great instrumental additions, but I think they can wait for another time, I've mentioned them in the past on here anyway. I have plenty more to write about so I will be back around soon enough, now a lot of the tech troubleshooting is out of the way it should be a little more consistent as well, but I don't think I've been delaying things too much even with that barrier in place. At any rate I'll catch you all again soon and as always: stay safe and enjoy the music.


Sunday, 23 October 2022

Not Quite

So some things are still broken, but I'm making baby steps every time I sit down and take a look at things, it's fast becoming one of those tech troubleshooting tales where it could be one of a million things at hand - compounded further by the fact I inherited this site and really don't know anything about the inner workings AND having to troubleshoot across multiple sites. Still, I'm trying to keep active despite it all. I think I can do this, I just need a hand is all.
Friedensreich Hundertwasser - The Endless Way to You (1967)

So this one is gonna be extra short as a result, here's a selection of troubleshooting tracks I've had on in the background. They're all of a specific type, each one very fitting for scrolling through bug reports, fixes and everything in-between while neurons fire and my eyes glaze over a bit. Starting with a bit from the massive Touched Two compilation, a fittingly hi-tech almost ambient piece - a perfect accompaniment and another high quality offering from the compilation.

Moving back to more familiar faces next with Boards Of Canada. A piece from The Campfire Headphase that I initially wasn't too hot on but have since come around to in time. To paraphrase myself from ages ago: Slow This Bird Down captures a muggy, close night in audio form. On the whole Headphase is not as sinister as Geogaddi, it's been a long time since I listened to it as I completely burned myself out on all things BoC a little while back, but coming back to both this and Tomorrow's Harvest has been a real delight.

And finally some Washed Out. I have mixed feelings about Within & Without - from the artwork down to the songs themselves, it's Washed Out at his most twee 'indie' chillwave style - drenched in reverb and with distant almost mumbled vocals. And yet I can't find myself disliking it. Yeah, the content is a little dated but I've got a lot of love for the formula - I do prefer the version of this track that appeared on the 2010 edition of the Adult Swim Singles Program, I'm not sure if it's the lower bitrate playing tricks but it sounds a little rawer in execution, giving a nice extra lo-fi feeling to everything. A fun record to dig out once in a while, if a bit formulaic, especially if you've come off the heels of the Life Of Leisure EP

And that'll be all for now, a very much cut down post compared to my previous efforts, but once all this mess is sorted out I promise I'll be back to the regular jaunt! I'll be back around soon enough with more but until then - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Thursday, 20 October 2022

Fixed Up(?)

Back again with another test, just got word back from the powers that be that the site should be indexing again. Or at least, I assume so - they added the missing posts to the page at least but didn't really mention any cause or if I needed to do anything more on my end... So the more I think about it the more unsure I am, but then again I am also a chronic over-thinker. At any rate, I figured I'd do a quick one to test that theory and also just keep me otherwise occupied. Truth be told I haven't really been in the mood to write too much, there's been a lot of bullshit going on my end and it's killed any desire I might have had to really sit and write as before - so this one might be a bit short overall!
Peter Phillips - Select-o-Mat Tempest I (1972)

In keeping with the dour mood here's some more Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. These first two albums are perfect for this actually - I adore each short little vignette, and the distortion on tracks like Bus Song and this one is a joy to listen to, there's a beauty to the rawness that I am very much into at the minute. The first couple albums are a little simple (which I can understand being a bit of a deal breaker for some what with the literal preset Casio sounds and all) but if you appreciate the songwriting like I do, give the later CFTPA albums a listen as they branch out in terms of instrumentation. Owen Ashworth, the man behind the project has since retired the CFTPA name, but is still producing music with the same feel under the moniker Advance Base - definitely worth a look if it appeals to you.

I might as well round up the last bit of the Ian O'Brien EP as I've posted the rest of it. Each track is a highlight in its own regard, but the last one is lovely and a fitting end to the EP, a short and sweet ambient piece that brings everything to a nice close. Not quite as hi-tech sounding as the rest of the EP but a gorgeous warm listen nonetheless. It reminds me a lot of the softer parts of Röyksopp's Sophomore LP The Understanding which I haven't revisited in a long time. Perhaps its time to give that one a re-spin.

It's the time of season where I dig out more downtempo stuff in the same vein as the cosy vibes above. I've gone with a bit of a deep cut this time with some Reporter - an act with an incredibly difficult to search name to begin with, but I've also chosen a release that isn't even on Discogs in Seasonal Rhythms. I knew when I saw the cover it'd be very much up my street, and it wasn't long util I was proved right. It is lovely cosy electronic that leans slightly on the IDM side - think again the more ambient bits of The Flashbulb's discography and you're in the right kind of area. I've been hanging onto this release for exactly that reason, it is the perfect soundtrack to the tail end of the year, highly recommended if you're after some comfy electronic.

And that'll be all for today, hopefully we should be back to regular programming from now on, I do plan to do a bit of tinkering over the weekend which may break things further but with any luck at least some of it will work for the time being. Hopefully after that the only limiting factor will be how busy I am IRL! Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Saturday, 15 October 2022

Then & Now

Hey all, another quick one this time just because I found a window of opportunity. It's going to be very short as a result though so apologies in advance. A quick one-two punch, starting with a fragment of the Rubber OST. My days of being a fanatical Ed Banger are long behind me so I haven't kept up with Oizo's new films or the accompanying soundtracks, but both Steak and Rubber have some real nice bits on them I've gone a little deeper this time though, normally I mention the heavy hitters like Tricycle Express or other more electro cuts that came out on that EP before the full OST - but here I've gone for Everything Is Fake. And if you weren't aware already it was a collaboration between Gaspard of Justice and Oizo, you will be when you hear this one, equal shades of both their sounds can be heard here with perhaps a slight bias towards the Justice end of the scale. A lovely little atmosphere piece that stands alone from the film itself.

Next we have something that I have been meaning to post for a while, out of nowhere in 2020 or so MSTRKRFT returned with another new album, I put some tracks from it in my playlists... And it seems that pretty much the entire internet pretty much forgot about it, it's not even listed on Discogs. It's a real shame because it's a very cathartic album, one that I definitely played a fair bit in the more chaotic times since '20. I'd been holding back on posting it thinking it would eventually appear on their Bandcamp but never thought to check Soundcloud, so think of this as making up for lost time.

If you're looking for Electro House as they were known for back in the 00's you'll be disappointed, but then again their newer releases have been straying from that model anyway. That's not to say it's bad though, in fact the opposite! It evokes the same feeling I used to get when listening to their latest banger of a remix way back when, it's pure punch-you-in-the-face electro infused techno of the highest order. Those almost obnoxious hoover synths of the intro giving way to a thunderous 4/4 that pretty much does not let up. It's a bit of a wild direction for the 'KRFT to take, but one I've found myself warming to. The album does stray into more house-y territory on ALEXYSS and IROC if you're looking for something less sonically brutal, but I can highly recommend the full thing if you're looking for more like Black Gloves here.

And that'll be all for today - told you it was going to be a short one! Looks like I might have some tech gremlins to look at as a result but I'm going to try and keep active in the meantime regardless (or at least until I get saddled with more work again). Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Bug Testing

Hey all, another quick one to iron out some things (and also because I had some free time) - seems the ol' hype machine didn't archive the last post I did so I'm wanting to see if it was a one off or not, it has happened before but normally when I accidentally publish then un-publish a post which I didn't do last time. But enough of the boring technicals, let's have a look!
Alighiero Boetti - Bugs Bunny (1992)

Let's start with one entry I missed from my Friday scoops, a long lost Mitch Murder track that has resurfaced back on Bandcamp. Originally from 2013 from Mitch Directly and re-released on Mad Decent the year after, it is a proper vintage slice of synthwave, to the point where the Discogs page lists it as Electro/Disco as it was before the genre was really coined. Mitch's early sound here is still very much a love letter to the era, complete with fiery synth noodling solos. Perhaps a tad dated now as he's had 10 years to evolve his sound in the interim, but it's still a lovely listen, pop this one on to inject a bit of sunshine into your day.

A game I've slowly been getting worse at is pinning down where the songs playing are currently from - one of the pluses and downsides to shuffling everything is occasionally you get treated to something you'd long forgotten about. Such is the case here with the incredibly hard to google C/C compilation from Ghostlight. After spending some minutes flip flopping between it being some Flying Lotus B-side I couldn't remember or something off one of Nujabes' Hydeout compilations turns out it's one of two tracks I have from Hiroto Kudo, both from the two C/C compilations. I do remember the whole thing having this dreamy ethereal feel - usually staying in a sort of chillwave / downtempo valley with a touch of pop, but Only You is a little heavier than I recalled. Very nice though, one I might have to look into further in future.

It's been a long time since we've heard anything from the Au Revior Simone camp, every so often I'll fall back in with them and ache for more. I absolutely adored Move In Spectrums when it came out, and every so often it'll come out to play and I'll remember why all over again. This time around it's opening track More Than - it's been a while since I really sat and listened to it, the slow build is beautifully done for the album opener, I've been looping the final quarter over and over as of late, the cascade of synths and bombastic drum hits are lovely. It does seem to come to a sudden stop, but if you're listening to it in album format it's not long before you're swept into The Lead Is Galloping

And that'll about do it for now, slightly shorter than I would have liked but I had a small window to write this in (and I interested to see if it's archived as well, so less tracks makes sense). I'll be back soon enough wether it be bugged or not, it's just finding time to do it these days! Until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

Sunday, 9 October 2022

Friday's Findings

After a month's absence, I managed to not miss this month's BC Friday! And actually because of that I feel like I had a much easier time of making selections, a lot of these were just things I was listening to anyway that had made it onto my wish list as a result. Let's dive right in and take a look at what's in store.
Jozsef Rippl-Ronai - A Park at Night (1892/95)

First things first we have some Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, a now defunct alias of Owen Ashworth. I've been listening to a lot of the early works he did under that moniker as of late, they have a really neat methodology underpinning them: much like the rules behind the Dogme 95 in filmmaking, these early songs have a simple recipe: short songs, played in C, on the white notes of Casio keyboards. While later CFTPA albums would move away from this ruleset, these early tracks have a lot of charm to them. They are the epitome of lo-fi, what one reviewer called 'bedroom pop', combined with stark lyrics that are never happy - one-sided infatuations, messy breakups and even just missing the bus - each track its own tapestry of melancholy, be it large or small.

If you've ever had your own Casiotone keyboard (or even just known someone who has, as in my case), the heavy use of the default presets might be a bit of a turnoff which I can totally understand, even if you're not as familiar with the equipment it can come off as a bit Kitsch anyway. Likewise with all of the lyrical content being on the depressing side, though that's helped a bit by the songs being short, which also keeps things varied throughout the track list. I've quickly come to love tracks like Bus Song - that raw melody keeps ringing in my head in the most lovely way, and it reminds me a whole lot of Brian Eno's The Big Ship

Moving on to Ian O'Brien next - an artist I have shamefully little of in my collection. This EP was an easy choice, each of the 3 tracks are gold in their own ways. I've already posted the bouncy techno of opening track Harmonix some months back, and the closing track The High Frontier is gorgeously cinematic ambient in a bite size package. We're going to be talking the middle one this time though, Scenarios For Exodus, a twinkling almost IDM number - think the lighter side of The Flashbulb, or Mitsuto Suzuki's solo works and you're in the right area. Clocking in at just shy of 15 minutes total, this EP is short and sweet, and if anything leaves me wanting more!

Returning to Rei Haramkami for our next stop - I've ranted and raved about my love for his works for a long time now, and as with all artists I have a strong passion for I've been slowly working my way through the discography to A) avoid burning myself out and B) Keep that 'falling in love' feeling as long as possible. Enter Wasuremono, follow up album to the incredible [Lust].

Really, it's a logical evolution from that album - as before Harakami has refined his now signature E-piano sound to a fine point - the first 30 seconds of Niji-Zou will demonstrate that very effectively indeed, those iconic sounds and lovely pitch bends out in full force from the jump. I normally like to dive a bit deeper into albums than the opening track, but this intro is a perfect encapsulation of Harakami's sound - playful melodies and electronic flourishes throughout, it's just plain fun to listen to. I can highly recommend jumping into the man's discography if this is your introduction, you will find much more like this to enjoy.

Returning to my recent Electro excursions next with a touch more from Versalife and another entry in the Late Night Activities series. As you might expect from the title, this series is all about dark and slightly sinister vibes with a hi-tech edge. In short, very much relevant to my interests. After The Future sets this up brilliantly, a classic electro 4/4 backed with synthetic menacing warbles later joined by some lush pads and a sparse distant distorted vocal. Perhaps not quite as dark as say, some of Doppelereffekt's works, but the atmosphere is certainly there. My second favourite of the EP is closing track Unsolved Mysteries, which true to the name feels a little more mysterious in execution - the melody making it feel like the soundtrack to an investigation more than anything. The first entry in this series might still be my overall favourite, but I've not really been disappointed with any of them, check it out if you're looking for a little more electro like this in your collection.

And that'll be all for now, feels like it's been a long time since I wrote something like this, but then again this is the time of year where my work/life balance takes a bit of a hit so I suppose it has. Still, hope you've found some new things to enjoy from my pickups here - not quite as eclectic as past installments but I still think there's a fair bit of variety here! I'll be back soon enough with more but until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Chipped! (Unofficial Club PlayStation Mix)

Well, here we are. It was only a matter of time really, after being inspired by Sean Seanson's own work on his own Club Playstation series and then him giving his blessing for fan-made ones I started to flip through my collection of soundtracks to put somethin' together. And here we are. As usual with the mixes I do, I ain't a professional by any stretch, but I am quite happy with how this turned out. Stay tuned for full commentary and the tracklist below!

Mixcloud has added quality tiers since I last used it which is a bit of a let-down, I'm looking to get it mirrored elsewhere in the meantime. It's a very careful line to walk when making a mix like this, in the end I think I hit a nice balance of tracks without going too heavy on the nostalgia factor. They are all still tracks I have a lot of love for, and in hindsight I have gone hard on the racing game angle (which may or may not have influenced the cover). I have bent the rules a little in some cases - two tracks here aren't from the games themselves: the remix of Missing Perspective from Parasite Eve is from the aptly named 'Parasite Eve Remixes' album, and the arrangement of Never Let Me Down from GT2 is from the 'GRAN TURISMO 2 EXTENDED SCORE ~GROOVE~' album, but even so they're not hugely out of place, bringing a fine dose of Deep House and even more Drum & Bass to the table respectively.

The Grooverider remix of EBTG's Blame has been rattling around in my head since then as well, one of the few licenced tracks from the GT2 score, you could look forward to it playing multiple times as the whole OST would loop on the longer endurance races. Back then the NTSC and EU versions of GT would have different licenced songs on the OST, so I've gone ahead and labelled the tracklist just to be extra thorough!

Looking back I may have gone too heavy on the NFS and R4 OSTs, but man oh man are they all so good, I've been in love with Rom Di Prisco's hi-tech stuff from the series since release, and as mentioned in the previous post the entire soundtrack to Ridge Racer Type 4 is still fresh as ever over 20 years later. Scattered between are even more favourites new and old - the entire soundtrack to the Ghost In The Shell game could have gone here in all honesty, a far cry from the moody philosophy of the 1995 film, the PS game OST is non-stop pulse pounding techno from some pretty big names from the time. Racing Lagoon makes a couple of appearances, an interesting Racing Game / RPG hybrid curio from Square that never released outside of Japan (but recently received a translation fan patch). It has an incredible sense of atmosphere and the Soundtrack is of course a huge part of that, if you look it up off the heels of this post you'll quickly see why I am a fan.

I am pretty happy with how it turned out, there are some transitions I think could have been handled better but the tracks themselves are all good as. As with every time I get the itch to make one of these mixes there are some tracks that don't make the cut - either because I couldn't find a place for them or the direction of things changed. That is the case here as well, but there are some other interesting tracks that I cut for other reasons, you can find a list of honourable mentions that didn't make it below! I hope you find something to enjoy here even if VGM isn't your thing, I think this selection does a great job of not sounding overly-'video gamey'. I'll be back soon enough with more but until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Smackdown 2 Intro (WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role, 2000)
Johnathan Colling - Colin McRae Rally 2 Theme (Colin McRae Rally 2.0, 2000)
Rom Di Prisco - Paradigm Shifter (Need For Speed High Stakes (US) / Road Challenge (EU), 1999)
Everything But The Girl - Blame (Grooverider Jeep Dub) (Gran Turismo 2 (EU), 2000)
Yoko Shimomura - Missing Perspective (Dan K's Late Night Session) (Parasite Eve, 1998)
Rom Di Prisco - Cygnus Rift (Need For Speed High Stakes (US) / Road Challenge (EU), 1999)
Rom Di Prisco - Menu (Need For Speed II, 1997)
Keiichiro Segawa - Circulation (Armored Core, 1998)
Hardfloor - Spook And Spell (Fast Version) (Ghost In The Shell, 1998)
Noriko Matsueda / Takahito Eguchi - Loop Demo (Racing Lagoon, 1999)
Hiroshi Okubo / Asuka Sakai - Quiet Curves (R4: Ridge Racer Type 4, 1999)
Masahiro Andoh - Never Let Me Down (Arrange by Tohru Arakawa) (Gran Turismo 2, 1999)
Noriko Matsueda - Save & Load (Racing Lagoon, 1999)
Soichi Terada - Time Station (Ape Escape, 1999)
Tetsukazu Nakanishi - Lucid Rhythms (R4: Ridge Racer Type 4, 1999)
Asuka Sakai - Epilogue (R4: Ridge Racer Type 4, 1999)

Honorable mentions that didn't make it:
Smackdown 2 Menu Theme
Bjorn Lynne - Wormsong '98 (Worms Armageddon, 1999)
Mark 'TDK' Knight - Gabbag (Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown, 1997)
Simon Boswell / Chris Whitten - Zip (Burn Cycle, 1994 - was supposed to be ported to PS1 in 1996 but never happened)
Omni Trio - Secret Life (Rollcage Stage II, 2000)
Rom Di Prisco - Demo 1 (Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit, 1998)
Rom Di Prisco - Esprit (Need For Speed II, 1997)
Saki Kaskas - Callista (Need For Speed High Stakes, 1999) - this track is also in Mass Effect 2!
Chuck Doud - Syphon Filter Theme (Syphon Filter Series, 1999-2001)
Akira Yamaoka - Eternal Rest (Silent Hill, 1999)

Friday, 30 September 2022

Retro Reviews: ADULT. - New - Phonies

Returning to the retro review format for the first time in a long while, this one shouldn't be as draining as the last couple I've done that focused on albums - today I'll be diving back into ADULT.'s New - Phonies, a fantastic introduction to the group and probably one of their finest works. I've been listening to a lot more EPs than albums as of late due to how much more easily accessible they are, and though this isn't billed as an EP, its cut from the same cloth. Last time I brought up this EP it was around 2016, so let's see if anything's changed between now and then.

I have a long and storied history with ADULT. - though it took me a long time to come around to doing a full deep dive into their works, but once I did they fast became some of my favourites in their genre. And that genre is a bit of a sticking point: often lumped in with Electroclash with artists like Peaches, Felix Da Housecat and others, though ADULT. much like Ladytron disagreed with that label. While there is an undenaible element of similarity in their content and execution, I have had plenty of people kick up a fuss when I've posted them under Electroclash in the past. As I've gotten older I've stopped caring as much about labels, but much like with my begruding use of 'IDM', it is very helpful to define the sound beyond just 'electro' as it's listed on Discogs. But I'll put a pin in it there, this isn't supposed to be a rant about genres, let's get into the content.

When I think of ADULT. the first thing that comes to mind is Nicola Kuperus' unique vocal delivery - often stacatto, laden with anxiety and shouty when it needs to be. New-Phonies gives a nice preview of that on the first track New Object, featuring a stop-start-stutter rendition of the title, backed up with some delicious of the era filtered verses. That's not to discount Adam Lee Miller's contributions to their productions, I end up saying that every time but it bears repeating. They perfectly compliment each other, the electronics on show here are lovely and raw, really embodying that DIY punk style that was no doubt an influence on the two. Twin that with Kuperus' slightly surreal photoshoots adorning the sleeves and you complete the duo's iconic look.

Track 2 makes it much easier to see where that electroclash comparison comes from, a suitably sultry track about phone sex. Doubly so with Nicola's decidedly disinterested vocal recalling Miss Kittin's work with The Hacker of around the same time. Coming back to this one, it's a much slower tempo than I usually associate with ADULT., but one that I think works in this context. Despite the cliches surrounding scene when it comes to deliberately smutty content, I can't think of another ADULT. track that is as explicit as this, with Kuperus' vocal breaking the monotone barrier and literally rising to a climax in the final quarter.

By far and away the highest highlight of the whole thing for me however is Hand To Phone. First track form the aptly titled Lipstick Knife side of the vinyl - A track I will admit I am supremely biased towards and has been in my collection in some form or another since the mid 00's or so. Popular enough to warrant two further spin off EPs of remixes, a reputation it has well earned - it is fantastic, definitely one of the standout tracks of that time. The remixes are good in their own way but it is the original that is the highlight. Absolutley hypnotic, it is one of the few tracks I can never seem to tire of, Kuperus' vocal on here is perfectly matched, the subtle melody to it skirts the cliché flat delivery of the time. A perfect encapsulation of the time, wonderful stuff.

Closing track Your Lies always stood out to me as a little odd in comparison to the other tracks on show. Not nesecerially in a bad way though, it's just perhaps not as dark as the other tracks, and the vocal being distant and vocoded after 3 tracks back to back of Kuperus in full effect seems a little odd. Still, I can't knock it - the way the intro layers up and gives way to the main synth riff is lovely, a really nice electro cut. Perhaps not quite as raw as some of the tracks here, or even their earleir works but I think it carries that methodology with it a little. Looking back on other times I've brought this track up I seem to always say it is maybe not the best closing track but I have to disagree with hindsight, while perhaps swapping Your Lies with Don't Talk might have been a nice sort of comedown quarter, I think the four tracks as they are make for a nice "We are ADULT." kind of release.

And that'll about wrap it up for today, I have to say this record doesn't really sound its age, which I will admit is true for a lot of releases under the Electrclash banner as they were essentially emulating the 80's anyway, but there have been some less well aged examples from the era as well. Pretty incredible for a record that's coming up on 22 years old this year in my humble opinion - these early ADULT. records might be my favourite of their output, but there's plenty to get stuck into if you're digging this kind of sound, I'd recommend jumping to the Rescusitation compilation for more, not only is it full length compared to this release but it also features some reworked versions of their earlier releases too, including a version of Hand To Phone. I'll try and be back around soon enough with more but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Load Game? (Club PlayStation Vol.6)

Hey all, I'm very aware it's been a while. Work has been kicking my arse as of late in addition to general life things. I do have some posts cooking but it'll be a couple of days yet. So I thought I could do with something nice and quick to post to just buy me a bit of time, and wouldn't you know it, recent friend of us and fellow lover of the PS1 Sean Seanson dropped another entry in his themed series of mixtapes. Volume 6 is a bumper edition of all Namco soundtracks, which gives him an absolute goldmine of material to work with - from Ace Combat to Ridge Racer, from Tekken to Klonoa - there are no shortage of tracks to choose from.

Namco's sound team around that time was absolutely on fire, not just in terms of the sheer amount of work they were putting out but how stellar a lot of it is. Ridge Racer Type 4's soundtrack alone is a masterclass in House and Drum & Bass - Pearl Blue Soul in this mix is a perfect demo of the overall funky vibes that it has in spades. Stay tuned immediately after that for the Tekken block - the mix of Chicago's theme into Nina's Theme from Tekken 2 is excellently done, and Nina's theme itself is a primo slice of sassy 90's house.

Some other random highlights that stood out to me: Times Square from Smash Court 2 is a delicious jazzy Drum & Bass number that wouldn't have been too out of place on some Moving Shadow compilation of the time, fans of my previous Ape Escape posts might also hear a tinge of similarity with Soichi Terada's work as well. Beats From Above from the Klonoa OST is fittingly fit to burst with breakbeats, not the first thing you'd expect from a cute 2.5D platformer, though it is a boss theme if I recall right! Meanwhile Be Warped Time sounds much older, though that's perhaps to be expected as the original arcade version was from 1993 - still, those bombastic, almost 80's drums and euphoric synth riffs give it an air of modern Synthwave.

There's plenty to enjoy here, I highly recommend the full series of mixes even if you're not super into VGM as Sean and I, there are plenty of hidden gems to be had out there. And once again I'm considering making my own bootleg entry to this series, especially as Sean actively encouraged it over on Twitter! I'm going to try and get another post out this week but until then, as always, stay safe and and enjoy the music.


Tuesday, 13 September 2022

A Wild Week (and a bit)

Well, here I am again. And what a whirlwind week of weirdness it has been, both locally and internationally (and continues to be, at the risk of jinxing it as it's only midweek) I haven't really had time to sit down and write anything of substance, but I have had the chance to do plenty of listening in the meantime so I'm not short of ammo to detail - so silver linings and all that. Let's take a look at a random smattering of tunes.
Wayne Thiebaud - 24th Street Intersection (1977)

Picking up some leftovers from that spacey post that I still haven't gotten around to making with a little piece from The Exaltics, remixed by Gosub. Fitting actually, as I first got turned onto The Exaltics via Gerard Hanson's E.R.P. project, which in turn put me onto the SolarOne Music label, co-founded by the man behind The Exaltics Robert Witschakowski. E.R.P is one of my go-to examples for exactly the kind of hi-tech smooth electro style stuff I'm talking about - honestly, this one could probably make that list as it very much fits the bill, albeit a little more bouncy electro than the usual stuff I put under that space label. This mix of I.M.O.E.H. is catchy as, and full of lovely little touches to keep it fresh, I'm a sucker for pitch bends and the like as you all know.

Another one that's been sat on the backburner for a while that I haven't had an opportunity to talk about yet: the remastered soundtrack to a 1994 FMV point and click adventure game Burn Cycle. And If you've learned anything about me from my postings in the past you'll know that from the description alone that is supremely my bag. The soundtrack was actually included with the game way back when, but I imagine it's a touch hard to come by these days, making the remastered version all the more important. I'm not entirely sure how this came up on my radar if I'm honest, but probably through the suggestions for one of the many techy playlists I maintain - I do however remember the first track that was recommended, which was Zip. It had me gripped with those twinkling opening stabs, which builds to a thumping techno peak - twinned with the samples from the game itself, it certainly sets a befitting atmosphere.

Keeping on that trend of easier to access reissues, a slice of deep house that found its way onto my wishlist next. Late Night Basix Vol. 2 is originally from 1998, but this this version is from 2021 thanks to this reissue on Ghostly International's sub-label Spectral Sound. I've been on a bit of a deep house thing lately after diving back in to my collection of Guidance Recordings material, and half remembering sampling some of the tracks on here I figured it might be just the thing to scratch that itch. And right I was, the whole EP is a nice ride, I've gone ahead and picked the fittingly titled Forgotten Track this time around: it wastes absolutely no time at all getting down to brass tacks by hitting you with that classic 4/4 straight away. From there it's a lovely journey of lush pads, catchy stabs and all manner of things Deep House, just when I find it getting stale there's a little switch up to make it fresh again.

And that'll be all for this time, a little more scattered than usual I feel like, but that's also kind of how these past couple weeks have been so it's apt if nothing else. Still, hope you've found a groove to enjoy amongst these choices - I'll be back soon enough with more, but until then - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Catching Up

It's been a little while hasn't it? I originally planned to pen this yesterday but you know how things get, especially at this time of year. Anyway, I thought I'd do a little catch up on what's happened since last time I posted, which as it turns out is quite a bit. Let's not beat around the bush no more and dive right in.

Lajos Tihanyi - Three Trees (1922)

The elephant in the room and one of the funnier stories to come from the electronic music world in recent years involves Hudson Mohwake - his signature brand of wonky beats went a little viral over the weekend due to a Reddit post from some guy who had Cbat on his, quote, 'sex playlist'. I've always found the idea of those kinds of playlists weird anyway, but I gotta agree with the general consensus here that of all songs, of all HudMo's discography, Cbat is a wild choice for such a thing. HudMo is currently revelling in it as you can see from the description on the newly uploaded Cbat video, and in true HudMo fashion found the whole thing hilarious over on twitter, and no doubt appreciated more eyes on his work just as he has a new album out!

In-between all that you'll find a lot of heated debate about the song itself, plenty of the usual arguments that come up with anything electronic "hurr its robot farts" and the like, but on the flipside I bet more than a handful of people have found the man's work through this - and as I've said in the past: be it soundtracks, memes or whatever, more folk into electronic music is always good in my book. I can't really hold it against the negative crew either, Cbat is pretty abstract once it gets going, and truth be told its not my favourite from the Satin Panthers EP. If you're like me though and want more of that rave inspired intro to immerse yourself in, the closing track from the EP Thank You has you covered, and is a little more accessible than Cbat.

If that appeals to you then I'd highly recommend diving into the HudMo archives! Personally, I'm also going to throw in a hearty recommendation for Rising 5 from the man's debut album Butter. I'd actually suggest that as the perfect place to start actually, the whole LP is very nicely balanced and is a solid intro to HudMo's sound. Rising 5 is one of those tracks that I will not hear for a long long time, but fall in love all over again from the first bars of the intro - all the sweeter when it gets to the totally bombastic meat of the track with that eastern inspired hook.

Other than that, the only other thing thats happened is I missed Bandcamp Friday for the first time ever. No particular reason, it did kind of sneak up on me due to the gap between the last one, but I've also been busy so haven't had time to line up releases to pickup - and I was also in the pub for a lot of Friday so that may have been a factor. That doesn't mean I don't have eyes on things though, I make sure to browse my wishlist every now and then just to keep it fresh in my memory. And then I take the opportunity to make a post of the content to further remind myself!

I went a little deeper in my list than usual this time to see if there was anything deep down I'd not mentioned yet. There I found Baths, an alias of Will Wiesenfeld. I first became aware of through FlyLo's Ideas+Drafts+Loops freebie and the delightfully twee animated series Bee & Puppycat, for which he did the soundtrack. The soundtrack is no longer available legitimately which is a shame as they are all lovely little instrumental pieces. I've gone instead for a track from Cerulean that comes sort of close to having the same vibe.

Aminals, if the title didn't tip you off already, is firmly in that territory - a playful piece of cut-up hip hop. If you're a fan of the more hip-hop styled bits of Bibio's work, tracks like this and Maximalist are very much of the same school. Aminals perhaps more so with the samples of rambling children a la Fire Ant, but the samples on Maximalist do very much remind me of parts from Ambivalence Avenue.

And I think that'll be all for today, I did have a couple more tracks lined up but this has fast gotten longer than I anticipated, think I'll pop them aces back up my sleeve for next time! It's kept at least sonically consistent this way. I'll try and write the other tracks up sooner rather than later, but as mentioned up top this is a busy time of year for me so there may be a slight delay. Rest assured I'll be back soon enough with more but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Sunday, 28 August 2022

Retro wRitings

Postponing that planned spacey sequel for a bit, as with many things I've just been a touch scattered and working on other things - the best laid plans of mice & men and all that. I figured I at least owed something to tide y'all over in the meantime, and what started as a quick one/two track post became a little longer. So let's dive in shall we?
Frank Stella - Eccentric Polygons - Effingham (1974)

I've almost become a mirror of my younger self lately, dipping back into the world of emulation and nostalgia fuelled by the content creators I've mentioned in previous posts. Helped along as well by the Retro Achievements website I've been playing old favourites, weird imports and things I missed. That comes in handy from time to time though - case in point here as Kohta Takahashi has released an album on Bandcamp that is a look back at the Ridge Racer Type 4 soundtrack through a modern lens. As with Rom Di Prisco's similar look back at their old work there's a definite charm to it, and fans of the original OST will very much find things to love here. It's not a simple re-tread though, as Takahashi notes on the Bandcamp page this is more about capturing the vibe of Type 4: the whole genre gamut is on show here from the expected House to Dubstep and then back again. Surprising no one given my recent posts, my favourite of the bunch is this could-have-been menu theme.

It ain't all low-poly stuff though, I've also been revisiting Midnight Club 3, which dedicates a large chunk of its soundtrack to Electro, Detroit Techno and Drum & Bass (the latter not really surprising as Moving Shadow and Rockstar have been close since GTA2 back in '99, and they appear again in MC3). The Midnight Club series has serious pedigree when it comes to soundtracks: the theme to the first one was classic Techno/House anthem Strings Of Life. The second game dug deep for its intercontinental USA, French and Japanese settings, treating us to an absolutely choice selection of House and Trance - including some of Thomas Bangalter's solo work!

All of that to say I've been flicking back through my archives and checking out more techno and Drum & Bass. These are usually one of albums or EPs that I note down and then get lost with time, but make for a nice surprise when you find them again, like digging out an old jacket and finding some cash in the pockets. Enter The Silicon Dawn from Dan Curtin. I can't remember how I came across this record in the first place but it doesn't take long to see why it was on my list, from the title and cover art alone I could tell it'd be the kind of record for me. Lovely melodic techno with that sci-fi edge, if your taste is at all similar to mine then a dive into Curtin's work will do you no wrong. Once again surprising no one, I've gone for the track that sounds the most like it could be from Warp's {Artificial Intelligence} Series - It Tastes Like. Absolutely gorgeous stuff.

Now onto the second half of that upper paragraph, as we visit the D&B side of things. you'll be surprised some of the things you can find on Bandcamp! It's gotten to the point now where no matter how obscure the thing I'm looking at is, I'll give a cursory search just in case it's found its way there. Inperspective Records is one such example of that, having most of their backcatalogue available on there. I've noted down some bits and pieces from them over the years, and it's always a nice surprise when I look them up to remember why. In keeping with the theme here, Stature feels again very much like a credits or menu theme! Admittedly not quite as Drum & Bass as the other parts of the EP but you can still hear flecks of it now and then. Check out the A-side Windchime for some more intense breakbeat action, contrasted with some smooth hi tech vibes.

And that'll be all for this fairly quick writeup, we wandered around a bit but I think I kept it mostly on topic (though behind the scenes I have since fallen down several more rabbit holes that may or may not result in posts). That sequel post I mentioned last time is still in the pipeline so keep an eye out for that but until then - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Sunday, 21 August 2022

Back Into Space

This post originally started out covering a completely different artist, but yesterday I watched Sisters With Transistors and it took a bit of a turn. I could still make a post of the artists featured, but this time I'm going to focus on one of the unsung highlights - the credits song by the aptly named The Space Lady

Fernand Leger - Forms In Space (1950)

I've talked a bit recently about DIY sounds and lo-fi recordings - this forms a big part of the aforementioned documentary but also is a perfect embodiment of the kind of sound The Space Lady employs. A Casio MT-40, a battery powered amp and a headset microphone is pretty much the extent of her gear setup. Unlike the bedroom melancholy of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, who employs a similar setup - the end result is a quite psychedelic experience, the track I've chosen to illustrate this Synthesize Me does wonders to show that off. Those of you that are big fans of Broadcast like myself will find yourself in familiar territory here, especially if you've hears some of the demos from Tender Buttons. Synthesize Me is a lovely listen, the perfect capstone to the documentary and the kind of track I could see myself discovering on one of Oneohtrix Point Never's mixtapes from around 2010 or so.

The majority of the other content on that album consists of covers from various other artists (befitting, as The Space Lady started as a street performer). These stripped and re-contextualised covers have a real charm to them, though I have always found that with electronic covers of otherwise not-electronic material. The most left field example on here might be this one of Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild. I still like it, but it's not quite as enthralling as Synthesize Me. I imagine part of the experience is being lost, given her street performance roots - I think I might prefer the recording from that video to the version on the album, but even so it is not without its moments.

In keeping with the theme of this post, there's also a cover of Major Tom on here - though not the Bowie version as I originally thought, rather the Peter Schilling single from 1983. This and Synthesize Me are perhaps the two tracks I would point to for a crash course in this kind of sound, as they sound exactly like the off kilter early experiments in electronic pop, The kind that a very young me would stumble across in my dad's tape collection and be entranced by (But perhaps thats the recording quality talking). Specifically I'm thinking of tracks like Polyphonic Size's Girlscout, albeit through a more psychedelic lens are where my mind goes first.

There's some other interesting bits on there too, the cover of Sweet's Ballroom Blitz sounds like it could have been made in that 70's era, sort of in the vein of Switched-On Bach. I'm going to call it a day here though, I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at this album, it's a bit different to my standard fare but if you've got similar taste to me I'm sure you'll find something to enjoy. As mentioned up top this post was originally going to focus on a completely different artist but I repurposed it into this one! I'll try and knock up the second one soon enough but until next time: as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Sunday, 14 August 2022

Tracked Down - An Inbox Tale

Let me tell you all the tale of a bit of a wild experience that I had a couple of days ago. Enter James Varghese of Quiet Love Records, who if nothing else was absolutely resolute in getting in touch with me - going as far as to reach out on a whole bunch of platforms where I share the screen name (Which to his credit, he did apologise for it it came across as a bit weird - if you're reading James, don't worry about it, that's most of the reason I share the CVF name everywhere!). We eventually had a bit of back and forth on Twitter and I said I'd take a look over things when I had some time, and now is that time.

Further credit to James, he was also kind enough to get in touch with a ton of detail about what he's working on - All of which I imagine was in the original email that he sent but passed me by - that happens when you've ended up on a million different promo lists over the last decade or so). So for this next section I'll be cribbing a lot from the info he sent over to me. James in his own words is a "jazz bass player with a masters degree from the jazz school of Zurich turned pop bass player turned indie-producer turned founder of «Quiet Love Records» turned electronic music artist."

His first solo release is due out September 14th after a few years working on other projects in the background at Quiet Love, a release called Ambient 1, the result of a few years worth of tinkering. I'm a sucker for all things ambient anyway, and based on James' description (and some extra details that we'll get into a little later) it sounded very much what I could get into at the minute. I've had the pleasure of listening to the thing on a private Soundcloud playlist and it didn't take long to appeal - "Short and soft" is the descriptor I was given in the accompanying text, and sure enough the solitary tones of 222 fit that bill. A lush wave swoops in to join the lonely pulsar around the halfway mark, and after some time in the spotlight the two come together in harmony, if only for a moment or so.

You'll have to take my word on that one as you can't hear it (yet!), but that isn't the case with Juno Fades, which nicely sets me up to talk about the other bit of the promo text that piqued my interest. To quote James directly: "Most of it was recorded in the biggest synthesizer museum in the world here in Switzerland. It's called SMEM and is located in Fribourg." - which must be a dream come true for any kind of electronic musician or even if you have an interest in the gear in general - doubly so if you're into the archiving process as I am! If you're at all keyed up on your synths (no pun intended), you might have already clocked the Juno reference in the title there. I find it interesting to hear differing modern takes on ambient with this retro gear, I've loved the work of Oneohtrix Point Never for a long time, and his early work was full of downright gorgeous Juno 60 sounds, James' take on the other hand is a little... brighter I want to say, most prominently in the latter half where there's an explosion of triumphant brassy stabs. OPN's work has this decided melancholy to it, whereas Juno Fades feels a little more in the middle - befitting James' line from the description of the private playlist: "I often experience very ambivalent emotions. It’s never black or white."

James' work also feels much more like a Jam session than OPN's work too - and I don't mean that as a knock, if anything it's befitting of his Jazz roots and, after all, I'd probably make the same kind of thing if I had access to rows and rows of weird and wondrous synths like that, and in fact I know that I did back when I was experimenting with my first ambient releases. There's a definite charm to the proceedings, no doubt helped by that background information. Final track Fairfield Rd. however, does remind me quite a bit of OPN's work - drenched in analog hum and with a wistful air - which tracks as its a tribute to the Street James used to live on in East London. I've been listening to a lot of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone recently and the execution of this one very much reminds me of that. They both share a real home made lo-fi feel, even something as simple as the sound of stopping the recording intruding adds a little something to it. Off the top of my head it feels a lot like Tonight Was A Disaster.

Ambient 1 looks like its shaping up to be a lovely little record - as mentioned above this kind of sound is very much in rotation for me at the minute with Casiotone and friends. I appreciate the songs being short as well, last time I tried to explore some more ambient releases I ended up bogged down in a sea of releases ranging from 15 mins to a few hours long and found myself quickly burning out - much like how I feel about Boards Of Canada's more ambient pieces, sometimes short and sweet is better. I've also been working on finishing up the remnants of my own half finished EP from years ago, and hearing James' tale (and of course hearing the results) have given me a little kick to finish things up proper, I'll be sure to drop by when and if I finish it up fully. Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Find more from James and Quiet Love at:
James' Bandcamp
James' Soundcloud
James' Twitter
Quiet Love's Bandcamp
Quiet Love's Soundcloud
Quiet Love's Twitter