Thursday 26 May 2022


Hey all, just dropping by with a quick something - I've been a little sidetracked IRL so haven't had as much time to write as I would have liked. This one is originally planned as a Retro Review (and it still might make the cut yet!) but it's also been sat on the back-burner for ages so figured I'd take a swing at it at the very least.

I mentioned not too long ago that Warp founder Steve Beckett once said that the one record they regretted not releasing was Mark Pritchard's first under the 'Reload' alias, one that he said would have been perfect for the Artificial Intelligence series that they had going on around the time. While they didn't get their hands on that, a few years later some tracks from it would appear on this compilation - The Theory Of Evolution. It's an interesting release for sure, it feels a little out of time in places due to the re-use of older Reload tracks. The opening salvo of tunes is a great selection though - with the thudding techno of Birth Of A Disco Dancer leading the charge.

The opening follows this sequence of a tiny interlude sandwiched between two tracks, so we're skipping over to the next 'proper' track as it were. Another Reload offering, but more acidic this time. Stepping away from the Artificial Intelligence sound a little now, Birth Of A Disco Dancer had a little bit of that atmosphere behind it, but here the 303s are out to play. Not super complex or anything, but as I've said before sometimes a li'l 303 is all you need. Don't worry too much if it's not your cup of tea, there's plenty of more familiar Warp style things to come.

Speaking of, we're hitting up one of my favourite ones next. At the risk of repeating myself, it's tracks like The Biosphere that really make clear what Steve Beckett was talking about - a track like this is very reminiscent of the kind of thing B12 was making, hi-tech sound with a sci-fi edge, and would have been right at home on volume II of the AI compilations. I am very obviously biased toward this sound, but for me this is where Reload really shines. My love for these kind of extended spacey cuts is well documented, and Biosphere is a welcome addition to that roster.

It's mot a flawless compilation though, there are times when the wheels fall off a bit. Take for example one of Herbert's contributions to the tracklist under his Wish Mountain alias, Royal Wedding, 2 minutes and 30 seconds of a distorted Prince Charles reading vows. It quickly wears out its welcome, becoming dull and monotonous before long. I feel like it doesn't really belong on this compilation, even as one of the 'interludes'.

All of which I mention to set up the extreme whiplash you experience if you listen to this compilation in order. You go from by far and away the poorest entry mentioned above, to Amazon Amenity - one of if not the highlight of the whole thing. It's a refreshing change of pace for the proceedings as we change up tempo and enter the world of Drum & Bass. It and IDM are close cousins at certain times anyway but there's no mistaking the out and out D&B style of this one. Very much fashioned after the Jazzy strain of the genre that would remain popular through the latter half of the 90's, Amazon Amenity is full of little flourishes and makes its 9 minute runtime just melt away. It's perhaps a little generic if you're well versed in the genre, I have a lot of love for this style regardless though.

It's a shame that Amazon Amenity is the black sheep of the compilation, it'd have been nice to have a couple more in this style, though the second Link track that follows this is also a prime slice. Opening with some gorgeous pads, it's not long before things take a techno turn again though. I find that Mark Pritchard typically uses different aliases for tackling different genres, but this track once again evokes that same B12-esque methodology, especially on little breaks like the one around 1 minute in.

And that'll be all for today - a quick whirlwind tour. In a nutshell, an interesting slice of Warp history - flawed in places but also home to some nice bits and bobs along the way. I'm thankful for Warp putting a major portion of their output on Bandcamp which allows me to shine a light on releases like this and frees them from being physically limited as well, I still need to go back and update the Warped History posts with the new players actually! The full thing is worth a look if you like what you hear, and certainly check out the early Reload stuff if the IDM style stuff is more your speed. Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Friday 20 May 2022


I've been trying to come up with something to say here about Vangelis after hearing of his passing last night, I'm going to defer to this comment here that summarises my thoughts better than I could:

He could not only compose in the style of vastly different historical periods and cultures, but he could seamlessly blend them... An impossible phenomenon, yet he existed... Everything from Middle-Eastern rhythms to space ambient, prog rock to jazz, early Medieval polyphony to avantgarde, Celtic ballads to Far Eastern ceremonial music, African tribal music to piano etudes... there were no limits. All from one man who never trained formally, never read or wrote music...

Beyond just that though, the man's influence cannot be overstated - the Blade Runner soundtrack being the most obvious point to start with. Laden with beautiful ambient and dripping with atmosphere, its an incredible listen and one that's gone on to influence electronic musicians of all genres, cropping up as samples in Drum & Bass tracks and appearing on compilations - you'll have no doubt heard Blade Runner Blues before, its an icon. The soundtrack surprisingly took a good 10+ years to come out after the movie, and there has been an expanded re-release since with even more extra tracks that are lovely too.

I've picked another of my favourites in Wait For Me - at the risk of repeating myself the same applies here, gorgeous atmosphere and all in all just interesting soundtrack work. The electronics on Blade Runner not only fit the setting but do so much to create that neo-noir feel. I don't want to harp on it too much as the man has a vast body of work beyond just Blade Runner, but at the same time it'd be a mistake to not mention it - the soundtrack has earned its reputation and is a great stepping in point if you're unfamiliar.

And then just a random smattering of selections, there's not as much here as I'd like but as I mentioned I've probably only explored a fraction of the man's releases. I had a quick look at the opinion on this one just as a frame of reference and I found a mixed bag. One complaint that stood out was that this album was loaded with 80's cliches which I kind of get, but it was released in 1988 after all - plus if you're like me then you don't mind too much. The intro of Intergalactic Radio Station is lovely, the kind of song a very young me would have marvelled at, the kind that got me interested in electronic music in the first place.

And a little bit of something a bit more Ambient to play us out, for me this kind of sound is when Vangelis really shines, a real talent for these sparse and delicate pieces are lovely - enter Rêve. It's been a long time since I got back into the world of this style of 70's electronic, but in sampling them for this post I think it might be time for me to take a look at them again. Its definitely an under-represented part of my collection and there is a load of it out there to explore. Perhaps a summer project for me.

And that'll be all for today, first time I've had to use Spotify players for a while, I know they aren't great so I've also included official YT uploads as links in the text as well. I hope you enjoy some of these tracks as much as I do, and maybe even take this opportunity to explore Vangelis' discography in more detail, I certainly will. And of course, as always, stay safe an enjoy the music.


Sunday 15 May 2022

Summer Somethin'

Finally time to get around to putting this up now that things are warming up for those in the Northern Hemisphere. Some cuts that didn't make it onto the Cosy Collection of last time, spun off into their own thing. A little more eclectic in terms of selection, there were plenty that didn't make it in that I will hang onto for next time - I hope you enjoy the selection. As usual, tracklist in plain text and a full rundown of the selections below: (Both players above are the same, but the picture one doesn't show the tracklist like the compact player so I included both!)

Maria Yamamoto - Venus to Chiisana Kamisama (Instrumental)
Lina Ohta - Puzzle-Riddle
Boom Bip - Last Walk Around Mirror Lake (Boards Of Canada Remix)
Kensuke Ushio - Flare
Kensuke Ushio - Speed Of Youth
Ghostlight - Fantasy Complex
Susumu Yokota - Nothing Time
Sugar Plant - Simple Dub

Pretty happy with how this one turned out for the most part, some of my intended selections didn't make the cut (Röyksopp and Air to name a few) which was disappointing, but I think I've been guilty in the past of forcing tunes in, so I tried to be a little more loose this time. Kicking off with a semi-obscure but of J-Pop from Maria Yamamoto - this is exactly the type of song I had in mind making this mix and I chose the instrumental to highlight that, Maria's vocal is fine but I just had to let that fantastic instrumentation by Tsuneo Imahori shine, it's just gorgeous. From there we keep things in a similar vein, with Lina Ohta's very brief and only foray into music - it's a similar story here as with the last one - produced by Haruomi Hosono of Yellow Magic Orchestra fame, he has an incredible talent and an incredibly vast discography, his pop productions like this one are always a treat.

Moving more into traditional territory next with the sublime Last Walk Around Mirror Lake Remix from Boards Of Canada. Very much in the Campfire Headphase style, that whole album could easily have made up the entire tracklist here. It was a different spin on the typical nostalgic BoC sound, trading analog weirdness for more acoustic elements (though still very firmly retro in style), but that makes a perfect match for Boom Bip around this time. Wonderful stuff, and one of the best tracks in the BoC archives.

A double feature from Kensuke Ushio next - he's made plenty of appearances in my recent mixy posts, both under his real name and the Agraph alias. I fell in love hard with his stuff a few years ago now, his brand of IDM on the Agraph albums is a lovely balance between the glitchy and melodic that I instantly clicked with - more recently he's been doing a bunch of soundtrack work, and with it exploring whole other genres. From full on synthwave for Devilman Crybaby to his more usual Ambient / IDM for Boogiepop wa Warawanai, I have loved it all. His work for A Silent Voice is no exception, it's a beautiful movie with an equally beautiful OST. I couldn't pick just one so I went with the sparkling duo of Flare and Speed Of Youth - the former showing off the ambient side while the latter gets just a touch of that IDM influence on it. Fantastic works.

Rounding out we have Fantasy Complex from Ghostlight, a tune I was randomly recommended one day, and it wouldn't stop recommeding me it. So I stubbornly gave in one day and gave it a spin. It's very nice, all of Ghostlight's work has this real nice lo-fi feel to it that I don't have a ton of in my library, though I wish I knew what was the content that made the algorithm decide to send them my way. From there we have a little more Susumu Yokota, this time from the Sound Of Sky album that I opened one of my winter mixes with. I've yet to hear the man's full discography - there is a lot of stuff to get through and that's before you look at his many aliases - but even so, Sky is up there as one of my favourite offerings from the man. Chill lounge house tracks like this are the order of the day, so Nothing Time was right at home here.

And finally, Sugar Plant. Another recent love of mine that has been sadly relegated to thse mixes due to them noth being readily avalable on streaming that isn't Spotify. They're sort of difficult to pin down, on paper they are an indie / alternative rock band, but that label feels like sort of a disservice - their works feel quite electronic, sort of like Seefeel in that respect - creating these lovely loops with actual instruments - though Sugar Plant is much more downtempo that Seefeel's droney shoegaze. Highly recommended for fans of the Trip Hop stuff I've posted in the past, they feel very much like Morcheeba to me. I've chosen the Dub version of Simple to play out, it's not massively changed from the orignal, just with lots of lovely dub delay and other elements added for good measure, a fitting finale I thought.

And that'll do for today, pretty fast turnaround on this one, thanks mainly to me having a draft tracklist to hand for a few months now! I'm going to drop by with more Final Bandcamp Friday stuff throgh the week hopefully, but I hope until then you can find plenty in this selection to tide you over - and of course, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday 10 May 2022

Speedy Replacement Service

Started writing a big in-depth Retro Review post only to find the record in question isn't being re-released for a couple of months yet. Oops. With my plans thoroughly scuppered I decided to throw together a quick one to tide us over - not a dive into my final Bandcamp pickups this time, but more bits and pieces that I sort of skipped over at the time.
Ken Danby - Charter (1978)

A little more Italo to kick off - I've been trying to not overdo it when it comes to the genre, it can be easy to have too much too quick as I found out with its eventual evolution in Eurobeat. But that love is easily transferable between the two - I like to joke that Eurobeat is just Italo but faster but there is a lot of truth to it. But I digress, I think a lot of Italo is just plain fun to listen to, even when (and especially when) it gets a little dated like on this one here. Truth be told I still think Notte Divina that I posted before is the best of the first volume of obscure tracks, but I like this one a whole lot too.

Taking a bit of a turn in genre next, it's been a hot minute since I talked about Gerard Hanson and his work under the E.R.P. moniker - its fast become some of my favourite electronic in my collection. The spacey electro really captures my favourite elements of the stuff Warp was putting out in the early 90's for the Artificial Intelligence series, most specifically the work of B12. It's all lovely stuff, but I never really covered the more electro-leaning parts of the discography. Part one of the Evoked Potentials series is best at demonstrating this, both tracks err more on the electro front than the spacey tech I mentioned above - that feel is still there of course, most prominently on the intro of Sensory Process but this time it's much more the way of say Drexciya, or the one Elektroids album if you want to keep it in the Warp family - with perhaps a touch of Dopplereffekt for that slightly darker edge - all of which share a common link in the form of Gerald Donald!

Returning to commuting after so long and getting an upgrade in storage capacity on my daily driver phone has meant a resurgence in Returning to commuting after so long and getting an upgrade in storage capacity on my daily driver phone has meant a resurgence in all things musical on my side, and that's where Swayzak come in. Snowboarding In Argentina keeps the techy theme going, Bueno has been a recent hit for me, its driving tech house that really helps keep the momentum up when hoofing it around - helped further by the fact that the shortest track on this album is still 7:30. Between this and a recent pickup from the final Bandcamp Friday that I haven't talked about yet, I'm enjoying a bit of a Tech House renaissance so expect more like this to come soon.

And that'll be all for now, not too bad for something I whipped up last minute with no plan I don't think. Shame that the Retro Review has had to go on the back burner but it'll have its time to shine eventually. I'll come back around with more selections soon enough but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Saturday 7 May 2022

The Final(?) Friday - Part One

Hasui Kawase - Starlit Night, Miyajima (1928)

Hey there, it's been a while - apologies ofr the slight delay, the first half of this week got a little chaotic. But I am here now, and I bring the results of what may be the last ever Bandcamp Friday - it's hard to tell, the statement from the start of this year only lists them happening until May, but I suppose time will reveal all. I've had an exceptional run with them since they started running them though, and it's been a nice nudge to pick up some music once a month or so. We'll save that talk for later though, there is a lot of stuff to go through this time so I am going to split it into a couple (or more) parts. So, let's get stuck right in.

Some Garoad first off - you might have seen me talk at length about my love of their soundtracks for VA-11 Hall-a, the two were a match made in heaven and complimented each other nigh perfectly. From My Star To Yours is cut from the same cloth, if you were at all a fan of those OSTs you will immediately find common ground here. I have a lot of love for the sound here, it's retro 80's infused electronic without getting too deep into Synthwave territory, Garoad's inspirations lie elsewhere if the artwork didn't tip you off already - From My Star To Yours is very cinematic in its execution, like it's an insert song from an 80's Space Opera OVA (hence the artwork!), lavished with synth noodling and power chords and the mandatory of-the-era guitar riffs, and even an extended outro reprising the main motif on piano - all that's missing is the vocal accompaniment to complete that vibe. It's been a long time since Garoad released anything, I'm more than happy to hear more from them and am hoping there is more in the pipeline, as someone who is a big fan of the soundtrack of Bubblegum Crisis, I welcome any and all artists bringing back this style.

We're sticking in that same vein for the time being though, both the retro and Japanese influences. Enter Macross 82-99, who is still going strong all these years later. 82-99 first caught my ear with their unique blend of the kind of House that brought me here to this site in the first place, with a hearty helping of anime fandom for good measure (if the name Macross and the title of this release didn't make that obvious enough already). On the early mixtape releases this was twinned with vaporwave so it was a perfect macth for me circa 2012 when I was getting deep into that kind of thing.

I can understand it feeling gimmicky to some, (hell, I even thought as much when I was first exploring their work, chalk it up to my expeirnece with a ton of one-off vaporwave acts) but Macross is still going strong to this day, with Sailorwave III releasing just a couple months ago. Despite the name this isn't a Sailor Moon bootleg remix album, but the latest in a string of sequels to the albums that made Macross so popular in the first place. I've chosen That Music thing time around, purely because it transported me back to that time in my life when I first met Macross - cast your mind back to the Summers of the early 2010s, and think of the French Touch stuff that we used to post around that time - that's That Music, a little nostalgic sprinkle of sunshine. I don't dip my feet into the world of Future Funk often anymore, but I can always count on 82-99 for tracks like this.

Speaking of nostalgia, some Au Revior Simone next (and also another case of me misplacing something so picking it up again). The Bird Of Music is another record steeped in memories for me, again from around that same era. Not to get too sentimental or anything - I was heading off to University and my go-to convo starter for those first few awkward weeks was to get talking music. There was a bit of crossover with some (after all I think students are legally required to listen to Aphex Twin and Boards Of Canada when entering University!), and acts like Au Revior Simone were there to bridge the gap where there wasn't, so both this album and Still Night, Still Light were instrumental in that.

I tended to lean a little more towards this one for suggestions at the time as it's a little more folky in parts which I thought made it more accessible for some - Fallen Snow was one that I remember suggesting a lot, I think it balances that folk style with the electronics quite well. I liked Still Night more at the time, but coming back to this one after all this time I've gained new appreciation for it, somehow I always end up remembering the slower tracks more and completely forgetting that the album also has tracks like Dark Halls on it as well which has been a welcome return to my library. Its been a while since I've had some good energetic electropop, even if it's not techically 'new'.

As mentioned in the opener, this is only a portion of my pickups for this month, so stay tuned for part 2 and maybe more after that too. This one managed to be fairly sonically consistent, the next one(s) might get a little bit more eclectic but should prove very interesting as well, one I might even spin off into my first new 'review' in who knows how long. Things have quieted down again so shouldn't be too long until the next one, until then, as alawys - stay safe and enjoy the music.