Monday 28 March 2022

Electronic Immersion

I'm batting around ideas for a new mixtape type deal, I settled on a theme pretty early on but it's gotten a little broader with time. Like most of my mixtape experiments it's mainly going to be tracks that I can't find legit streams for, but there are plenty of others that are in the running that might make it, but they also might not. This post is half to help me make my mind up and half to put the tracks out there anyway on the off chance they don't make it. Let's go.
Janet Fish - Five Tall Glasses, Afternoon (1975)

Some Dopplereffekt to start with, fine purveyors of hi-tech electronics for many a year now. The cover for Cellular Automata will likely look a little odd on your screen - the close knit lines of the cover will make Moiré patterns (though on preview it looks like the tiny version of the cover on the Bandcamp embed has lost the effect, head to the main Bandcamp page to see the effect!). As for the record itself, it's more Dopplereffekt - I don't mean that to sound flippant or anything, they've totally honed their sound by this point: cold and clinical electro. To the surprise of no one, the more ambient cuts are my favourites - technological feasts like Ulams Spiral and Exponential Decay. Isotropy probably tops the list though, I knew from the lush sweeping intro that it was going to be - gorgeous stuff.

Bit of a left turn with my next choice, it is one that definitely isn't going to make the cut because I've already used it twice (I think) so far on other tapes. It does inform a lot of the choices I'm making with the sound direction of the upcoming one - I have a deep love for this very specific kind of early 00's electronic, that sort of downtempo style that I used to label 'Coffee Shop Electronic'. The Tusen Takk Rework of Drop is a surprisingly electronic turn from the usually Indie Kings Of Convenience, but then again this is just before Erlend Øye released his first solo effort which was one big collaboration with various electronic musicians so there is probably some cross contamination there. Very much in that Röyksopp vein (again, no surprise there given Øye's collaboration with them on their first album Melody A.M.), Øye's vocal really suits this kind of vibe and I wish he'd explored that electronic sound of his debut album a little bit more.

In keeping with the theme once again, a little bit of short and sweet from Gimmik. One of my more recent finds thanks to a couple of old experimental compilations, Gimmik's stuff is often very lovely - I've picked up a few album's worth but not actually mentioned too much of it. (Back To Basics) was my first proper full length listen and is a greta jumping in point. If, like me, you also enjoy the Aphex Twin sound circa Richard D. James album then this album will very much appeal to you. Really, the whole album is a sort of amalgamation of all things IDM, there are shades of AFX in there, a touch of Flashbub perhaps, and on tunes like L'Appel Des Cors and my choice for today it's much closer to the work μ-Ziq was putting out in the late 90's. I could live in this little microcosm of sound forever, it's very beautiful but fleeting.

And that'll do it for this slightly eclectic selection for today, of the three I'd say that the Gimmik tune is the most likely to appear in this eventual mix if I get around to making it - I have some free time coming up so time will tell. At any rate, I hope you've enjoyed these selections, I'll be back soon enough with more, Bandcamp Friday is looming as well so look forward to that! Until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Friday 25 March 2022

An Ambient Excursion

Nicholas Roerich - Mount Of Five Treasures (Two Worlds) (1933)

Making my way through the old Bandcamp listings to pre-arrange my cart for the upcoming Friday, the wish list is a bit scatterbrained but there are moments of synchronicity there. I think I'm going to grab a boatload of IDM stuff this time around, but I also have a pretty big section of Ambient releases there too, which isn't a million miles away in the grand scheme of things. So I figured I'd talk a little about them today, it's on of my favourite genres after all.

Starting off with some Carbon Based Lifeforms, another entry in the 'this has been recommended to me so much but I've never checked it out' list. I did try and dip my toe into some of the ambient things I had lined up a little while ago, but they were all quite long, which I understand is kind of the point and all but it does make the task a little daunting when you have 10 15 minute tracks lined up. On that same note, Arecibo takes a fair bit of time to 'get going' as it were. Again, totally daft when you're talking ambient music but hopefully you can see what I mean. Aside from that though, it's very pretty - suitably spacey given its namesake and it's one of many tunes making me want to take up making my own ambience once again.

On a similar note, the work of Hiroshi Yoshimura isn't far away whenever I get into this sphere. A prolific name in the world of Ambient and enjoying a resurgence in popularity thanks to the internet at large and from Light In The Attic Records attaining the rights to re-issue some of his works to make them more accessible. Yoshimura's work can get a little New Age at times, especially his later entries which can sound a little dated as a result - but I just adore the sound he has for the first 5 or so albums. The man has a very extensive back-catalogue, but the records available through Light In The Attic are a great starting point - Music For Nine Post Cards is his debut and is a touch less New Age styled than the one I've picked today, but both it and Green are must haves for any Ambient collection.

And finally, some more from Hinako Omori, a recent addition to my listening rotation after appearing on some compilation work. Her new album A Journey... came out not too long ago and I've been keeping tabs on the singles as they come out. There's an interesting move towards spoken word and vocals in general on it - my favourites being the The Knife-esque pitch bent self duets (but I am a sucker for any and all distorted vocals so I will admit I'm biased). Title track 'A Journey' is a perfect demo of this and also shows off my favourite sound of hers as well - cut from the same kind of cloth as early Oneohtrix Point Never, drenched in arpeggios with a cosy analogue hum. It's not quite as high tech sounding as OPN though, Omori's work is a lot lighter and has this lovely floating feeling to it.

And that'll do it for this time, I was tempted to put a couple OPN tracks on the end here but I figure I can hang onto those until next time. I hope you all enjoy this very relaxed instalment, I don't often go full ambient like this but I do really enjoy it. I appreciate it isn't everyone's cup of tea but I'll be back again soon enough with another entry. And of course, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Monday 21 March 2022

Charity Run 03 - Degaussing

Hey all, another quick one for Monday - meant to put this one up last week and unfortunately time is a factor here. Another charity single, but with a twist this time: it's not really a 'single' and the charity part is sort of external, more on that in a minute. SDEM is the focus of today, one of the few musicians I know IRL but haven't actually talked about on here as of yet. His work is very firmly rooted in the 'IDM' world but on the opposite end of the spectrum to the stuff I normally post under that umbrella - more akin to Autechre's later work than my recent melodic streak.

The Deguass mixtape is pretty much a crash course introduction if you're not familiar, it comes in thick and fast. It is a free download, per the Artist's request in lieu of payment, consider donating to the Voices Of Children chairty - there are links on the Bandcamp page to that and several other charity resources. The mixtape will be taken down after a month, which as of today gives you another 3 weeks to get hold of it. In addition, any proceeds from SDEM's other releases will also be donated to Voices for the rest of this month.

While I'm here (and just so this page isn't a dead embed in a month's time), I thought I'd cover some of SDEM's catalogue. We'll kick off with what was the first SDEM release I heard, the Index Hole EP on CPU Records. If you're coming to this post after the one-month deadline for the mixtape has passed, then this EP equally serves as a great intro. If you've dipped into Autechre's later discography then hopefully my comparison in the opening paragraph rings true, there's also potentially a dash of Clark-esque intensity in there, albeit less 'gritty' than Clark's work.

SDEM works bring that same sort of dystopic, oppressive feel that Zamilska does, especially on 6448 as above. But the rest of the EP orbits all around the 'IDM' sphere, opening track Arc Rail is by comparison a much more traditional affair, it has that 'Drill & Bass' sense to it. It's a much more intense listen as a result, but balanced with some lovely melodic touches means it's not out and out abrasion.

But if that's your bag, there's some of that on here too. We've been steadily getting more expeirmental with my selections, and that culminates in the mangled Mitherer. If that Autechre comparison wasn't 100% apt before this point, it sure will be by now. Not my usual go-to for sure, but sometimes it's nice to get absolutely dissolved by sound.

And that'll be all for today, I'm going to try and drop by again with another before week's end but I hope this is enough to tide you over in the meantime. Until then, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday 15 March 2022


Hey all, just a quick one to tide you over for today, Sean Seanson is back at it again with another 'Club Playstation' Mixtape, beautiful slices of era ephemera in which Sean does his utmost to take a deep dive into that Playstation sound, I covered the first volume a little while ago. There is no singular genre that takes the crown - across the three volumes we've dabbled in House, Techno and of course, Drum & Bass. Volume 3 continues that trend, with once again some choice deep cuts from the library. Highlights include tracks from Square's street racing RPG Racing Lagoon - I've posted a couple from that OST here before actually, the whole thing is a super stylish experience and the OST is a deliciously 90's mixture of jazzy breaks and House grooves.

It opens with yet another cult classic advert for the console, this time the 'I have lived' one. It's got a certain charm to it, and is also much less surreal than Chris Cunningham's Mental Wealth one from last time (I've skipped over it for the embed below, but it's definitely worth a look). From there it's a whirlwind tour of the little grey box's library - kicking off with some vintage FromSoftware in the form of Armored Core, a series with plenty of great soundtrack entries. Fans of current FromSoft games will find themselves in similar territory with the choral accompaniment, but unlike in your Souls-like games, there's a thudding 4/4 backing it up!

Fast forward to 14:48 or so if you want to get to my favourite section, three back to back slices of primo jazzy D&B style stuff. If you're at all a fan of Moving Shadow's output as I am, you will find a lot to like here. And that's a massive part of the appeal of these mixes for me, Sean's pulled some right corkers out for this one, I'd never even heard of Aironauts before this mix! The tune in question that Sean's chosen comes out sounding like a blend of the E-Z Rollers work, the rolling jungle of tracks like RS2000 mixed with the jazzier parts of Weekend World , quality stuff.

From there the South Yokohama theme from Racing Lagoon takes us in a cooler, more Gran Turismo-esque direction. A great intro to the soundtrack, seek out the whole thing if you like that one - it's pretty beefy at a massive 2CDs and 62 tracks. Cap that all off with a little bit from Sheep Dog 'n' Wolf (as Sean recently covered on his channel) and that whole section is just a treat to listen to. Not to repeat myself but once again that only highlights Sean's selections - who'd have thought there was a great piece of D&B tucked away in a Looney Tunes game of all things? Such is the wonder of the PS1 era!

And of course, what would a Club PS mixtape be without the token licensed song? This time it's Sasha with Xpander - a popular tune in its own right regardless, but I'm willing to bet it's hard wired to Wip3out in more than a few folk's heads. There's still so much more to delve into as well, I've been slightly tempted to try my hand at it myself in all honesty. If Sean is reading this and taking recommendations - the soundtracks to Need For Speed III and IV have some real gems on, and the soundtrack to Tomorrow Never Dies has some pretty chill stuff on there, maybe a bit too chill for the club vibe but certainly worth checking out!

That'll be all for now, I'll be back soon enough with more but I hope you get as much fun out of this mix as I did, and be sure to check out Sean's channel for more of them - and some interesting deep dives into the world of the Playstation (and as of recently, the Dreamcast too!). Until then, as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.


Wednesday 9 March 2022

Digital Deep Dives

Falling down the rabbit hole once again, I am back with another tale of random stuff I've found on my travels around the 'net. We're once again dipping into the world of the Serial Experiments Lain fandom - an anime series from 1998 that only seems to have gotten more prophetic about technology with age, combine with some some incredibly visceral visuals and excellent soundtrack choices and you have the recipe for a cult classic. The unique atmosphere of Lain still inspires creative works to this day (no doubt helped by recent anniversiary events): everything from fanart, albums and EPs to even whole websites, one of which even emulates the PS1 game in its entirety.

Naturally, it's the albums we'll be focussing on here - these take many forms given the themes and visuals of the series: incredibly abstract, lush ambient, face-melting breakcore and of course, your more traditional 'IDM' sound all get represented across the various fan made productions out there. We'll be going fairly middle of the road here with the latest addition to my collection of fan works in Virtual Cyberia Experience. Cyberia is the name of a nightclub in Lain, so you might expect it to be in the style of the techno stuff made for the series by Chikada 'JJ' Wasei and others. While it's not quite the same as those primo pieces of 90's tech, the team behind this one does a decent job of updating things in their own way for the first quarter or so. An early highlight is Matterflow, which wastes no time in getting down to business. Fully embracing that 90's vibe a la ThorHighHeels, please enjoy some breaks that would be right at home playing next to some low poly VJ visuals.

Ther person behind most of the tracks on this compilation, Neurolucifer, isn't totally unkown to me though, they previously appeared on another Lain fan compilation - Wired Sound For Wired People. By contrast a much more experimental record, exploring noise and minimal atmospheres fairly regularly, they're all thematically appropriate for sure. Neurolucifer's contribution is one of the more conventional tracks on here - I don't mean that as a knock or anything, part of the reason this one stands out so much is that it is that in a sea of experimentation. It's pretty much what I'd expect from a pitch of the concept, of course a Lain themed compilation has to have some IDM infused stuff on it. Mesh fits that bill to the T, it reminds me a lot of some of the stuff that comes out from Touched Music - not too wild with snare rushes or anything, but certainly more techy than your standard electronica affair.

Some contributions play in the space in interesting ways - Navi starts out fairly haunting, but by the midpoint becomes a kind of trap infused remix of an Operating System tour theme, which is again very fitting considering the naming of the track. The switch up at around 1:20 reminds me a little of the more melodic ambient pieces Mike Morasky made for the Portal soundtrack with the similar hi-tech arpeggios. These two selections also do a really good job of being 'inspired by' without relying too heavily on the source material - you don't need any knowledge of Lain to enjoy them - there are a few samples from the source mateiral here and there but they're more like subtle nods than anything, they won't stand out as particularly out of place even if you don't recognise them. Some of the fan works out there don't strike this balance as well, but I sympathise as it's something that I too have stuggled with when making my own productions, it's a fine line to walk between paying homage to your influences and avoiding coming across as overly pandering.

Which brings me back around to the other inspiriation for this post, it wasn't supposed to be all Lain stuff but I added some to pad things out, to make up for me having to source this through less professional means. Another random artifact I found on my travels, one from a super small scale Japanese label that I can't find much info about called 'Aerophonon'. They only had 14 releases and each one is some kind of remix album/EP of game music, originally on CD but as of 2014 or so you can get most of them for free from their site, which makes this actually fairly easy to get your hands on these days (I'll link it later). We don't upload music directly to the site anymore though, so I've had to go with a YT embed for this one. It's for the full EP but I've timestamped it to my track of choice.

Hyuponia is made up of tracks from Klonoa, another cult classic but this time from the videogame world. As with the Lain pieces, you don't need to know anything about the source material to appreciate - my first choice of the lot is the Howling Desert Dub, which comes out sounding like a slightly dubby Ulrich Schnauss track, surprisingly heavy given the cutsey mascot platformer source material. Honorable mention also to the final track Turn In as well, again quite a hefty tune with some thundering bass behind it, something about it reminds me of all the various 'chillout' stuff I was consuming circa the early 00's, I think there's the spirit of that sound running through as an undercurrent. Lovely stuff, and you can get it yourself for free from the label's own page here, along with all their other releases - FLAC or MP3.

And that'll be all for now, this turned out a little longer than I originally had planned but I think it's worked out OK, sort of a return to form as well with me using a not-art image for the first time in however long - the art I used for this one is by Lain's creator Yoshitoshi ABe, taken from the original run of the An Omnipresence in Wired artbook for those curious, get a load of all that vintage tech! Hope you've enjoyed this small online excursion with me, I'll be back soon enough with more but until then - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Saturday 5 March 2022

The Results Are In

It's that time again - here's my BC Friday roundup for March. A slightly weird one this time (but they all are to an extent), no massive diversions like the past though. Slightly disheartened by the announcement they did re: the merger with Epic Games because I think they are a bit of a shitty corporation first and foremost, but also because I worry about corporate intrusion into what was one of the best independent music platforms out there, historically things have a nasty habit of turning sour when acquisition happens. But I'm not going to let that overshadow the post too much, I thought it deserved a mention though. Let's take a look inside my digital bag then shall we?
Hasui Kawase - Tsuchizaki, Akita (1928)

I actually remembered to check my email the day of the Friday this time around, though there weren't as many new release notifications as there have been in previous months, it still highlighted some interesting stuff. Enter LNS - I picked up her entire discography a couple months back and I've been keeping an eye out ever since for more. She dropped a solitary single in Misiats, the title track from the EP of the same name that should be coming out later this year on Counter 99 - though according to LNS herself it was recorded a couple of years ago. If you caught any LNS on my previous posts you sort of know what to expect going into this one, a culmination of her influences - the bandcamp page is tagged with Techno, IDM, Electro and Ambient, each of which you can hear show it's influence throughout parts of this single. It's based around a Ukrainian folk song "Oy, ty misyatsyu / Ой, ти місяцю", I recommend checking out the Bandcamp page as LNS goes into more detail and shares more of her personal experience. All proceeds for this release go to the World Central Kitchen charity.

Other than that, I picked up a ton of Italo Disco records, I've been following the Goody Music bandcamp for a while now - it's a publishing label that's doing great work in not only re-releasing a ton of vintage Italo records but also remastering them too. My favourites have been the ones under the Mr. Disc sublabel - home to stone cold classics such as Charlie's Spacer Woman. It's a real treasure trove of grooves, if you're looking to begin exploring the world yourself, Mr. Disc have helpfully put togetehr a couple of compilations of Obscure Tracks to help you along. They're a great starting point in all honesty, it took me a long time to really branch out into Italo just becuase there is so much of it (and some of it is of questionable quality to boot). Look no further than track 1 of this compilation to set you on the path, a slightly later addition than any previous Italo I've covered, Notte Divina was originally released in 1990, but it's still full of my favourite elements of Italo. Catchy melodies and Piano stabs aplenty in this one, this is an instrumental version of the track which really brings all of that to the forefront too.

I mentioned they do a lot of re-issuing and remastering as well, a lot of times on re-releases they'll also include some more modern mixes in addition to the originals. These mixes are usually pretty good in their own right, they don't re-tool the formula of the original too much or needlessly try to shoehorn it into another genre. A lot of the time it's pretty much the original track with a fresh coat of paint and some subtle switch ups to keep the variety going. Such is the case on the Heritage mix of Dharma's Plastic Doll - given a slightly more House-y feel and extended out a minute longer than the original. It's a nice take on it, I feel like it'd be very easy to go too 'Nu-disco' with these mixes, but each one I've heard so far has been fairly faithful. It's a great thing they're doing with the labels to make these old records more readily available again, the market for some of them on vinyl has been ridiculously inflated so it's nice to be able to get hold of them legitimately in some form, even if it is only digital.

And finally, as promised on my last post - I did in fact get some Rei Harakami and Susumu Yokota. For Harakami I actually went backwards from the one I posted - I've had a partial copy of Opa*q for years that I can't even remember how I picked up but suffice to say it wasn't the best quality, so I figured it was high time to put that right. While my favourite is still [Lust], Opa*q is still a great place to start when it comes to Harakami's work - it's his second album so the sounds are already beginning to get more refined and you can in fact hear bits of what would become his later works on here too. There's plenty of good tracks to choose from, but to perfectly summarise his style, you can do no better than 300ml (Milk).

Dig out your headphones for the intro, it kicks off with a left-right pan of what would become that trademark electronic piano sound - and from there it only goes from strength to strength. A quality piece of that late 90's - early 00's 'downtempo' kind of sound, though a little bit more techy sounding than most examples I've posted of that in the past. Harakami's work is also a little bit more... quirky than that too, these tracks are full of fun, almost circuit bent melodies. If you're like me and really dig the style of tracks like this, and the more downtempo Poof, the immediately set sail for his later works, as that would become the staple of his works.

For Yokota's entry, I decided to go with one of the more Harakami-esque bits from Love Or Die - A Song Produced While Floating Alone On Christmas Day is of that similar school, with a very IDM style melodic streak to it. The intro is absolutely lovely, but in true Yokota fashion, it's not long before some surprisingly heavy kicks come into the mix, evoking his House & Techno roots. Don't let that dissuade you though, when the main melody comes back into the mix around the minute mark it fast made it's way onto my favourites list. A very cozy addition to the slightly eclectic tracklist.

As I mentioned before the Discogs page for this one is very misleading, Yokota explores a ton of genres across the runtime of Love Or Die, from the House of the track in question, to Trip Hop on the final track The Destiny For The Little Bird Trapped Inside A Small Cage For Life, to a whole Drum & Bass styled piece in The Scream Of A Sage Who Lost Freedom And Love Taken For Granted Before. And yet the whole thing still feels very cohesive, on paper it might sound a bit all over the place but in practice that's not the case. Another interesting addition to the man's very expansive release catalogue, one that you'll no doubt hear more about as I continue to work my way through it.

And that'll be all for today, a slightly extended one this time, but it's been a while since I wrote so it was nice to get all stretched out again. I even managed to line up a couple more for next month's Friday as well, with it being a longer month as well it shouldn't be as much of a scramble this time. I've got my eye on a couple of other things that I might cover in the meantime as well so I should be back before long - hope you've found some things to pique your interest here today and as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.