Saturday 31 December 2022

Wrapping Up 2022

Left it a little late to do a year's end roundup, but I'm going to return to a tried and tested tradition: the good old fashioned track dump. I never really felt comfortable posting a sea of players with no commentary, so this one is going to be broken up a little with thoughts in-between, so apologies in advance if it gets a little long.

First things first, if you're after a real Nostalgia-fest, BBC Radio 6 has you covered. That right there is a playlist straight out of the 2010s featuring many of the Ed Banger crew and other indie darlings of the time. It's available here for about a month if you're interested, tho with some limitations if you're not in Europe but I can't confirm that
Michel Majerus - Untitled (2000)

Now with that out of the way, let's take a look at what I've got. I've made no secret of my love of Eurobeat over the last few years - the sugared up evolution of Italo Disco colliding with J-Pop. I had a fair few lined up, but on listening to them back I whittled it down to just a couple - it's pretty hard to find legal streams of a lot of them anyway and in hindsight some of them were a little bit OTT. Which is an absolutely stupid thing to say I now realise, as the whole point of Eurobeat IS that it's over the top! Keeping it low key to start with, Switch really highlights those latent disco traces inherent in the genre, which makes it a good dipping in point for the curious.

I've managed to skirt one of the more silly parts of Eurobeat with these two selections, being mostly written by Italians, you do get some... interesting lyrical choices that don't quite make a whole lot of sense. On that note though, Eurobeat does a fairly decent job of maintaining a good ratio of Male to Female vocalists, it'd be very easy for the genre to fall into the latter much like the Vocal side of trance did way back when. That said, there are definitely tracks that evoke that same kind of euphoric vibe - enter So Fragile

Some Tofubeats next, I picked up some of the man's soundtrack work a while back and had been meaning to check out his works ever since. His Bandcamp is weirdly bare with releases there but not for sale (that clearly used to be as well), and releases like this one here that don't appear on Discogs or anywhere else really. Synthesizer is a prime example of why I felt the need to check his work out, a real head bopper of a slow jam, topped with liberal use of Vocoder to make the whole package complete for me.

Going total nostalgia bomb for this next one, it comes back out to play every so often, and rightfully so as it's damn good. Potentially one of the finest remixes ever from the era - Thomas Bangalter (1/2 of Daft Punk for those not in the know) spins out what was a ~1 minute interlude from DJ Mehdi's Lucky Boy into one of - if not the - electro house anthem. It hurts a little knowing that we won't hear any more Mehdi productions, I always liked the man's style and was excited to see where he'd take it, but what better way to celebrate the man than belting this one out.

Let's go a little deeper next with some Soichi Terada. Terada's return under his own name was a release I was extremely looking forward to, I first got turned his way off the heels of the (legitimately fantastic) Ape Escape soundtrack, and was pleased to find even more Drum & Bass on waiting for me. But the man actually got his start making (equally brilliant) House tracks - and that's what Asakusa Light is all about - paraphrasing Terada's own words: he's trying to capture that same feeling from those days. And on tracks like Double Spire, he really does. It helps I'm a real sucker for pitch bends though!

Speaking of capturing the spirit of yore, we have DMX Krew, who has been dwelling in that space for a long long time now. Now with DMX, you often will get some cheeky playful self aware elements in the mix, evoking old school electro of the early breakin'/electropop era, it's a genre than can be quite funny after all so why not embrace it? (see also: Chromeo). Party Life doesn't really do that, at least on the title track. The thing comes out a little more like an electroclash record, lamenting the shallow nature of the said Party Life. But you don't have to delve that deep into the analysis if you don't want, the Dub mix has an excellent groove on it and is as relentlessly catchy as the original.

Couple more to round us out, starting with what is one of the oldest digital files in my collection - Misstress Barbara's Never Could Have Your Heart. A relic of my first serious forays into the world of electronic music circa the early 00's, the first version I had of this was a naff one I pirated at like 96kbps or something like that! But even then, I was totally entranced with it. That melody (which I would later learn is pretty much a cover/sample of Move D's In/Out) is just gorgeous, and the beat work is surprisingly frantic for a House record, with machine gun hi-hats and flurries of handclaps. I reckon it'll be about 20 years I've had it in my collection next year, and I'm still as in love with it as I ever was.

And finally, the one track I post every year without fail, The Knife's New Year's Eve. Taken from the soundtrack to the film Hannah Med H, it's from around the Deep Cuts era so is very much in that extremely electropop style - the one with super sweet synths and the steel pan work as heard on tracks like Pass This On. Does the track have anything to do with NYE? Not really, it plays in a scene in the film that takes place on the night which is the reason for the title. Still, it's become a bit of a tradition, there was many a year where we'd play this while getting ready to head out for the night. And now it's a tradition here too!

And that'll about do it for now, it did end up getting a little long but nothing too ridiculous! That'll be all for this year, but rest assured I'll be back soon enough in '23 with more. Thank you for sticking with us this year, we've had a couple hiccups along the way but I don't know anyone who hasn't. I hope you've found some tracks here to enjoy and will continue to do so in future - and of course, as always: Stay safe and enjoy the music.


Wednesday 28 December 2022

Last Minute Additions

Took some time to catch up on the old release radar, I normally miss a thing or two here and there, but there has been a real bevy of releases as of late. Naturally, in true CVF fashion, not all of these are going to be brand new but hopefully they are still at least new to you as they are me! Let's go.
Jacek Yerka - There is peace in the Block (1994)

The biggest one that caught my eye was an anniversary re-issue of Justice's debut with some bonus tracks - it activated that part of my brain that still loves all things electro house and I dove right in. The album itself is killer as ever, and the bonus tracks are a nice treat if a bit underwhelming - I wasn't expecting to have my socks blown off or anything, but even so, some of these bonuses are just 'OK'. Still, it's always interesting to hear demo versions of the tracks - some of them are wildly different. Out of all of them though, Donna is the one that took my heart. It instantly transported me back to the heyday of this sound, back when I was an absolute Ed Banger fiend. I'd be lying if I said I didn't still have a lot of love for this sound, part of me always thought that was tinged by nostalgia but after hearing this 'new' piece for the first time I'm starting to think that's not so true. Hop in this little time capsule with me!

Keeping in reissue town with a whole heap of remasters from Makoto. Makoto's been on my radar for a long time thanks to LTJ Bukem, I have a long and well-documented love of that era of D&B after all. But it's something I don't go looking for often, plus I do like to support the artists as and when I can, and a lot of Makoto's earlier work isn't readily available digitally. Enter the Yearbook Vol. 4 compilation to see to both of those - a whole heap of remastered versions and a previously unreleased track? Yes please. And you don't have to get far into the tracklist to see the appeal for me - Joy starts off a little heavy, but that sample is just so.. well... joyful you can't help but grin, and it doesn't let up for the full 7 minute runtime. Lovely stuff.

Something else to round out the selections, Ghostly were ever so kind as to email me a 20% off code for things on their bandcamp, so I thought I'd get around to picking up Ghostly Swim 3, the previous 2 I have already from when they were freebies. I do like picking up compilations like this, it's a great way to quickly get a lot of variety and potential new artists to follow in one swoop. I've not gone far in the tracklist for my choice today, but there's plenty of goodness on offer here, from the sinister seven minutes of Redux (GAD Mix) with it's Carpenter-esque stabs to onesix-four sounds like an offshoot of Aphex Twin's Analord series in all it's squelchy glory.

Bogdan Raczynski leads the compilation - another artist who was a mainstay of Aphex Twin's Rephlex records and, like DMX Krew, is now starting to make those Rephlex releases available on bandcamp. Ggowwksstane shares a lot of that AFX mentality actually if the purposefully mangled title wasn't a clue enough. There's a lot of playfulness here without going too hard into proper full on the breakcore side of IDM. Imagine an alternate universe Richard D. James Album and you're in the right ballpark.

And that'll about do it for today, I'm going to maybe put together a little something for NYE which I've missed in previous years, but failing that I'll try and get another regular post out before years end. At any rate, hope you've found something to pique your interest here and until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Saturday 24 December 2022

Feelin' Festive

John Everett Millais - Christmas-Eve (1887)

Let's talk the state of Christmas Music. A good chunk of it is supremley overplayed (my deepest sympathies for those of you in retail or simialr spaces) - be it Macca farting about on a synthesizer to the omnipresent Carey, you've heard it all a million times. Last Christmas is pretty great still, but I do have a love of 80's synthpop so there is some bias at play there. All of this to say let's have a look and see if we can't come up with some alternative tracks from my collection.

Some more from Bonuts to start with, I've been hanging onto this one for a while for just such an occasion. Christmas Morning is, much like the rest of Bonuts, a short, sweet (if a little raw) treat. Starting off surprisingly pschedelic with a wave of hazy noise, that soon gives way to some lovely keys drizzled with distortion. Sprinkle a nice beat on the backend of it and you have your first of many Bonuts. The things comes out feeling a lot like some of FlyLo's demos, especially with the sloooooow doooooown outro.

And what's Christmas Morning without some Sledding eh? By comparison this one shares much more similarities with the actual Donut County OST, following that tried and tested formula of guitar based noodling that gave the original that fittingly indie feel. Surprisingly frantic in parts, Sledding feels very much more fleshed out tham much of the other content here on Bonuts, especially in comparison to Christmas Morning. There's a lot of layers to get stuck into here that I've only really come to appreciate on repeated headphone listens, a lovely little addition to the Bonuts list.

I am admittedly strethcing the definitions of 'Christmas Song' a little, but that's part of the fun! That's going to continue for a little while longer with the next track I have here, a little bit from Susumu Yokota's Love Or Die. The first thing you'll probably notice about Lov Or Die is that all the track titles are especially wordy - some of them even read like cliché light novel titles, but that's something that Yokota only did for this album. Look beyond the titles though, and there's lots of lush electronics to get stuck into here - A Song Produced While Floating Alone On Christmas Day being the one in question here. I just adore it, that main synth melody is a total earworm and has this lovely warmth to it.

Let's get a little serious for the last one with some actual, factual Christmas song content. Released as part of Röyksopp's 'Track Of The Month' series some 12(!) years ago now, it's one of the first tracks that came to mind when thinking up content for this list. Hailing from that Junior / Senior era of their sound, the ToTM series has a nice balance of poppy moments and the more subdued, alomst ambient they;d explore on Senior. And this track is a prime example of that: it builds slowly over the first minute and a half before a simple, almost whispered "Happy Christmas" ushers in a blizzard of electronics that is just divine. This is Röyksopp doing what they do best.

And that'll about wrap it up for now, hope you've enjoyed some of these alternate offerings free of twee sentimentality and overplayed guff. We've only really scratched the surface this time around, but that just means more to go at come next year! And I'm sure there's plenty more to discover between now and then as well. On that note, I'll be back soon enough with more but until next time - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

Tuesday 20 December 2022

Warming Up

Rupprecht Geiger - Leuchtrot orange - leuchtrot warm (1965)

Things are warming up after a touch of really cold days - which is fitting given the first track on this list. It's one that I've been sitting on for a while and isn't part of some grander theme though, this is gonna be a return to the good old fashioned roundup of random tracks as in days past.

Starting with some Mitch Murder from one of the Selections series. I say every time Mitch comes up that his work feels very sincere in its love for the genres that so clearly inspired it - Melting Point really captures that retro anime ending theme vibe on its intro (as displayed on the cover art, doubly so going by the original cover art), which is what made it stand out to me on a recent shuffle. From then on, it's a standard Mitch Murder affair. Not to sound too reductive mind you, Mitch is one of my favourite Synthwave artists and is very, very good at what he does.

Dwelling in similar circles for the time being, a little bit of Macross 82-99. I mentioned Sailorwave III way back in some Bandcamp Friday summary but not so much since, not for a lack of things to talk about though. Macross' anime influence is a little more pronounced if the name didn't give it away already, but as I've said in the past when I've covered the other Sailorwaves, you don't need to be a fan to enjoy what's on offer here - the Sailor Moon trimmings are mainly for show. Macross' style is a blend of lotsa genres, a touch of Vaporwave, a bit of disco and a splash of House to name a few - the highlights from III for me are the slow jams like this one here, they do a fantastic job of demonstrating what Macross is all about.

Rounding out with a couple from ThorHighHeels' Positive Yellow, specifically the slightly expanded DX version that has a couple bonus tracks on it. The whole idea behind Positive Yellow is that it's one big love letter to the world of soundtracks from the fifth generation of video game consoles. Think low-poly 3D models set to techno and Drum & Bass and you're mostly there. THH does a fantastic job of embodying that sound without feeling too cliché IMO, and also shows a fair bit of variety in the genres beyond just endless breakbeat or techno. Case in point here with Final Yellow, very obviously taking some cues from the soundtracks for Silent Hill with it's hazy trip hop-esque execution, it feels like it could be the OST from a survival horror results screen.

And, just because that one is a little short, another little bonus to see us out. This one also feels like a results screen theme, but from something a little more action oriented. I'm actually specifically reminded of the Ape Escape 1 results screen soundtrack, though THH's take is a little bit more rough sounding. This track acually originally appeared on a mini EP called Moom, a soundtrack to one of their YT videos. It's inclusion on this expanded release of Positive Yellow doesn't feel too out of place though, and brings things to a nice close - even if it does betray me saying the album isn't too cliché with that "GAME OVER voice clip sample at the end.

And that'll be all for this time, a little more upbeat that usual this one feels like. I'll be back around soon enough with more, I may take a little break towards the end of December but I will definitely get a couple more things written before year's end. Hope you've enjoyed the selections today, even if they were a little brief in parts! Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Friday 16 December 2022

Break Time

Had this post waiting to go for a while, I'm about wrapped up for the year, so I figured I'd kick back with some fittingly foodie tracks. Tracks I could have sworn were on Bandcamp or otherwise readily available... only to find out they weren't. Well, kind of, I've managed to work around it. Still, wouldn't be 2022 without some last minute disruptor to a plan would it? Let's get into it.
Ralph Goings - Coffee and Donut (2005)

Kicking off with the initial inspiration for this post, the soundtrack for Donut County. I originally wanted to post Slackers and maybe a couple others, only to find my memories of a Bandcamp release were apparently wrong. However, there IS an album of bonus cuts that is on BC that I can use instead. Bonuts carries with it the charming indie vibes of both the game and its OST - especially here, but that's no surprise as it features the other half of the OST and Game's team after all. Cruising is a little hot compared to the main OST, feeling more like an unmastered demo in parts with the bassy parts almost clipping. Still, it's a great listen, even if you're not familiar with the game, a lovely if a little short number.

I thought I'd pair some of Coffee Talk's OST with the above to keep that food theme going, but once again it seems my memories of a bandcamp release were wrong, and I had a heck of a time finding some sources for this one that weren't Youtube. Coming from that era where a YT playlist from the devs was the only way to listen to the OST outside of grabbing it from Steam or whatever. The full ost is pretty hefty, 27 tracks with an average runtime of around 6 mins a piece. It can get a little cliché in parts as well, it leans heavily on that 'lo-fi beats' angle that was again quite popular some years ago. But as with all things, there are some real nice bits here and there - thankfully I was able to find one of the tracks I had in mind on the publisher's soundcloud of all places. Tenderhearted stood out from the title alone and fast became one of the standout pieces from the OST for me, it sets a lovely, delicate ambience.

Stretching the food angle a little bit for this last choice, but it is a game about farming (among other things) so I'd say it counts. Stardew Valley is an indie success story, and one that's well earned. Largely made by one person over the course of many years, it's a real passion project that you can almost feel the care and love that went into it. With updates over time the OST has hit 100 tracks so there's not shortage of tracks to get into. I've gone ahead and picked a couple favourites

The first thing that springs to mind with Stardew for me is the various Mine themes due to the sheer amount of time you can spend down there. They range from beautiful ambient to more upbeat tracks like the one I've chosen. Channeling its pixel art into the audio side, Icicles starts off with some characteristically bleepy stabs, but around the 40 second mark we get a beat and bassline introduced, quite heavy considering the rest of the OST! A nice but brief little number.

Rounding off with my original choice and probably my favourite track from the entire OST, Maru's Theme. This one could have honestly gone on the previous post, it's a lovingly crafted piece that feels oh so delicate. It's been a mainstay of my ambient playlists ever since it found its way into my collection with the rest of the OST. Simply wonderful, it even channels a little bit of Vangelis' Heaven And Hell as famously used as the theme to Sagan's Cosmos to my ears - fitting, given the title and all. Brief but ever so sweet, I'll catch myself rewinding this one for just one more run whenever it comes up.

And that'll be all for today - I should be back to a fairly regular schedule now that things have all been ironed out, maybe I'll even remember to do an NYE wrap-up or other seasonal post this year. At any rate, hope you've found some tracks to enjoy here, or even the games that the audio comes from too! I didn't really talk about the games themselves too much but I had fun with them all, give 'em a look if you're after something to play this winter. Until next time - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday 13 December 2022

Feelin' Fragile

'Bout that time of year where everything catches up with me and it all just feels a bit 'eh' you know? Not helped by Friday's night out I imagine, but also this year in general. Still, things are winding down so I'm taking the time to sit and write a little bit more than usual. I've been keeping rolling lists of stuff I've been listening to and have plenty to go at, so let's dive right in.
Sam Gilliam - This Time (2008)

To match the title, I've chosen a selection of fitting songs to go at - not all ambient but all very much under that kind of fragile umbrella. Starting with some Arovane. Lilies is an album that I keep thinking I should do a full deep dive on, Arovane pretty much disappeared for about 10 years after it came out which makes for an interesting tale. At any rate, plenty of tracks from this album could have gone here - it's a gorgeously produced album, very accessible and never straying to hard into hardcore IDM territory. Tracks like Passage To Nagoya are what spring to mind for me, especially considering the content of this post, but this time I've gone with the hauntingly beautiful Tokyo Ghost Stories. The sparse piano soon gives way to something that sounds very Trip Hop in its execution, I've been playing this one a lot as of late.

It ain't all doom and gloom though, the intro for DMX Krew's December Darkness sort of fits this bill as well. Tucked away around the midpoint of the unassumingly titled Bass Drop EP, it quickly became one of my all time favourites from DMX's catalogue, and remains so to this day. Once again it's like DMX had my number completely, this kind of luscious deep house vibe is supremely up my alley. I'm a total sucker for the slow introduction of new elements too, just when I think I could be getting a little tired, something new drops into the mix to inject it with a fresh coat of paint. The EP is wholly instrumental (save for some vocal samples on the title track) so there's no tongue in cheek lyrical content like you might expect from DMX if you've heard his other work. That said, this EP is still very much a love letter to his influences, there's a whole heap of electro and acid to get at on here.

And finally, I've fallen back in with Everything But The Girl, as I seem to do every winter. Tracey Thorn's delivery is impeccable and twins oh-so-well with the Drum & Bass direction they took toward the tail end of their releases. Walking Wounded is the obvious highlight, and an album I've talked about at length before, it's the album that marked that hard shift into the electronic side of things. Unfortunately it's a little difficult to post legitimately, EBTG are one of those artists where a lot of it is gated off behind Soundcloud premium otherwise I'd probably mention them more - I'm going to make do though. I've gone with Above The Law once again, a previously unreleased demo of what would become Before Today given the shared lyrical content. It's a little more raw feeling than the rest of the album as you might expect from a demo, but it sounds incredible regardless - the production and Tracey's vocal are absolutely perfect together.

And that'll be all for now, as I mentioned up top I'm going to try and write a little more in the coming weeks, I have plenty to go at as usual - I still have to do this month's Bandcamp findings after all! I might even try and get something a little more long-form down as well, I'm starting to feel the itch a little again. But I'm going off track once again so I'll wrap up here - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday 6 December 2022

Playing catch up (November's Friday Results, continued)

Yes, I am well aware it's December, but between tech issues™, life™ and being a li'l sick for the first time in a long while over the weekend I am way behind schedule. An entire month later, here I am finishing up the November's Bandcamp Friday scoops. To be fair, it was always going to be two parts because November was a particularly big entry but I never expected it to be delayed this much. But at any rate, let's get stuck in.

Maynard Dixon - November in Nevada (1935)

Keeping in theme with heavily delayed, here's an artist I've been meaning to post here for months - Sound Synthesis. Long enough that I don't quite remember how they came up in my recommendations, but I knew from the get go I was going to enjoy pretty much everything I'd hear from them. Much like E.R.P., it's that very specific kind of spacey electro that really really appeals to me. There are releases where the two are quite close in terms of sound, on Orbital Frequencies though, Sound Synthesis does a fantastic job of carving their own image. I was torn between choosing Thinking Of You or this track - this one keeps that hi-tech vibe but feels a lot brighter than the other electro I've posted in this vein in the past. Lovely stuff.

I got around to picking up some more from Sense too, another artist on the more obscure side of the IDM world. I've gone back to A View From a Vulnerable Place this time, his debut - coming to us from Neo Ouija circa 2001 originally, I knew what I was getting into from those facts alone. It's a label with a short, sometimes sparse release history but equally is home to some real quality among those few. Coming back to this LP, it's perhaps a little generic in parts, but it is the better part of 20 years old by now and as you all know by now I have a lot of love for the genre either way.

There's still plenty to get at here though, the main barrier to entry is going to be the length of a lot of these tracks which average around the 6 minute mark. The track I've chosen, View From Another Place, is no exception to this rule, clocking in at a hefty 12 minutes. It is by far and away one of the standouts though, despite me saying it suffers from being generically IDM, this one in particular sounds quite a bit different from the rest of the LP. Among the classic juxtaposition of broken beats and airy synths are lots of lovely delicate touches and flourishes that make it a joy to listen to.

Swinging from hi tech to something comparatively lo-fi - Komëit have been on my radar for a while, hot off the heels of my lo-fi dive into the world of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone I was ready for more. Komëit's work is a lot less raw than CFTPA's, but still carries that unmistakable bedroom production. Following a tried and tested formula of simple, sampled guitar backed with these tinny drums that lovingly contrast with the acoustic elements. Top with some distant, incredibly softly spoken vocals and I don't think you could come up with a finer recipe for a indie electronic pop record from 2000.

It can be a fairly intimate experience, sometimes cinematic in parts, I've very much enjoyed my time with it. As if to illustrate how thorough the formula is, I wrote the above with the intention of posting Thanks + No, but changed my mind just now to Don't Call and I haven't had to alter a single word. Don't Call is the track I first heard from the duo actually, and I think is a fantastic intro to the album as there's a lot going on beyond my basic description above. The rest of the album comes highly recommended if you like this one naturally, you'll find yourself in familiar sonic spaces throughout!

And that'll be all for this quick roundup of last month's scoops, I still feel like I need to take a deeper dive into the other releases I mentioned in the prelude post, but in the interest of catching up I think we can swing back around to them some other day. It's been pretty enjoyable to write this up after my little break, doubly so as I didn't really get to immerse myself in these records too much before wading into the sea of tech issues - it's been a bit like putting on an old jacket and finding a bit of cash in the pocket! I'll be back soon enough with more but until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Thursday 1 December 2022

Flying Visit 2

Monique Orsini - Untitled (from Collection Resonance) (2011)

Another quick one to tide things over - I'm probably not going to get my last Bandcamp Friday roundup done before the next one comes around! No matter, that just gives me even more to talk about as and when. I've got a couple others in mind as well, I'm going to see if I can finish them up and schedule them out over this weekend. In the meantime, I've been drawing up a list for this upcoming (and final) BC Friday of this year. I don't think it's going to be as big as last times, but it is shaping up quite nicely.

I've been diving back into the archives and seeing if there's anything major I've missed - and n5MD makes up quite a significant chunk of that, they keep coming out with albums faster than I can pick them up! A great roster of artists and a fairly complete archive of their entire label on BC means that I have plenty to go at for a long time to come. I've gone way back to the very first thing I picked up from the label, before I really looked into them and saw that they were the current home of many of my favourite artists operating in the 'IDM' sphere. Light As A Feather is an album I found way back in the Grooveshark days. There are a few tracks that always stand out to me from it, and I'm surprised I haven't posted Resonance as of yet - it embodies the sound I think of when I remember this album, a unique kind of gritty yet airy IDM. This one in particular reminds me of some of Clark's work, albeit a little lighter on its feet than the sometimes grinding melodies of Clark.

Keeping things in an IDM style lane for now, with another cut from Touched Two, the massive charity compilation I've mentioned a few times now. I am still no closer to plumbing the entire depths of it's 200+ strong tracklist, but every time I come back with more gold. There's no shortage of big names on the comp, but I'd like to shine a light on Ochre - another discovery from my Grooveshark days, go figure. Ochre is the one who actually put this compilation on my radar way back when with Rowing to the Riverhead. The player on the original post is broken now, so I thought why not talk about it again here? A lovely meld of glitchy percussion and gorgeously smooth melodies, if you are at all a fan of IDN, you will find yourself in good company. My only complaint is the same one from that past post - I would have liked to have spent a little more time in this space.

And that'l be all for today, another short one I know - but I promise I will be back soon enough with more. After all, like I mentioned up top I owe you all a full breakdown of last month's Bandcamp scoops, and I will be adding even more to that come tomorrow! Until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


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.