Friday, 24 March 2023

Belated Bandcamps: March

Here I am, near enough a month later with my last `Bandcamp report - I normally like to do these as close as possible but I've let the last couple slip by me. I was planning to catch up with February's first, but that one looks like it'll be a little bit longer so I'm hanging fire for now. Still, I actually can't complain, the extra time has given me time to really think about what I'm going to say - let's get stuck in right after the art!

This month's selection saw me go all in on the Drum & Bass front, the artwork of which being this lovely mix of monochrome and colourful you see above. We have a fair bit to get into today so let's get down to it, starting with the top left. I've held off on getting my hands on the Hospital Records album they released to accompany their in-game radio station for Forza Horizon 4, mainly because the summer it came out I played it pretty much non-stop. Some of the tracks are still seared into my mind thanks to them being included on the loading screens, but there's plenty of them to go at. One thing I do appreciate is (at least at the time) these tracks were exclusive to the game and this release, though I would have liked it if they included the whole track list of the in-game station.

But onto the tracks themselves for now - the opening track does a fantastic job of setting the atmosphere and more to the point, encapsulating the sound I think of when think of Hospital Record's current era. Keeno's While The World Sleeps opens with some delicate tones, but it's not long before that gets twinned with some breakbeats and a subtle shelf wobbler of a bassline - very much Hospital's MO as I mentioned above. It's funny actually, tracks like this have much more depth to them when they aren't fighting with engine revs and tire squeals on the audio front, I certainly appreciate them more in this form.

Moving on to another choice cut - Metrik's Dawnbreaker is one of those burned-into-memory tracks from the loading screens for me, but I've spent enough time away from it now that I can listen to it again. Another textbook example of Hospital's current sound, it's downright euphoric in parts, and wastes no time in introducing those thunderous drums, a perfect compliment to the Summer season both IRL and in the game. I do quite like it, but it's definitely the kind of thing you have to have in moderation - it's a little like sugar in audio form, a little every now and then is fine but it's easy to have a little too much and get sick.

We're sticking with Hospital for now, but turning back the clock to the year 2000 - here Hospital still has that Drum & Bass slant, but as you can see on the artwork, this compilation has a touch of Jazzy Breaks (as was the style at the time) and a little bit of Soul in there as well. This type of compilation is great to get a big dollop of variety and new artists in your mix, I recognised a couple and you might as well. My first choice from the comp is distinctly not Drum & Bass, despite Marcus Intalex & ST Files being behind some of my favourite tunes of the genre. Taking Over Me is very much in that turn-of-the-millennium house style, the kind with that coffee shop groove to it, you know? Best sampled through headphones to get the most of that bassline!

My second choice is Music Makes Me Feel This Way, here we are very much back in the world of Drum & Bass. It's kind of funny looking back like this, listening to tracks like this you can really see (or hear, I suppose) the framework for that contemporary Hospital sound being laid down here. It's kind of hovering between the liquid funk that would come and the Jazzy breaks mentioned on the cover, in parts it reminds me a lot of the kind of sound on the E-Z Rollers' Weekend World. It's a little long at just shy of 8 minutes long, but it's kept fairly fresh throughout, and it ain't particularly dated despite it turning 23 this year!

Sticking around a similar time for the next one as we re-visit some vintage Makoto. One of those artists that always seemed to crop up in my recommended lists and would show up from time to time on various comps I'd pick up (case in point, he has a track on the Forza Hospital album I talked about up top!) I figured it was high time I checked him out in full, and seeing as I was on a bit of a D&B kick anyway, what better time than now? I picked a great time to do it as Makoto is currently in the process of re-issuing a bunch of tracks from the archives in this Yearbook series.

I'd already had a sneak peek at the remaster of Joy and posted it some time back now, the good news is the rest of the tracks here are very much in the same vein. Inside Your Love is originally from 2002's Musical Message EP - it wasn't a Hospital release but you can definitely hear the shared DNA between it and the track above. Lush and Jazzy breaks are the order of the day here and Makoto does a fantastic job with the style, the first 4 tracks of this compilation are all deliciously groovy.

And a little bit of Metalheadz to round us out, another label that has done an amazing job of making most of their backcatalogue available digitally. We're back with Commix this time around, their debut album Call To Mind is one of my favourites of the genre. Dusted as the artwork says, is a compilation of tracks the then-duo made between 2003 and 2008, so roundabout the same era as the album - I remember it coming out and thinking I should pick it up soon, and in true CVF fashion, I didn't actually until near enough 11 years later. We're straying a little from the Liquid Funk and Jazzy side displayed above, Commix's work is often a little more 'classic' drum & bass as it were (and even then, that depends on how 'classic' you go!). Opener Time Has Come A little darker in atmpsphere than the tracks posted so far, there's a heavier focus on the breaks. It's a great jumping in point if you're unfamillair with their work, all the tracks here are solid and there's plenty to get your teeth into.

And I think that'll about do it for this time around, it got a little longer than I originally planned despite me picking up less records this time around, chalk that up to the delay giving me more time to think! Next one might have to be a two parter at this rate. I've got a couple other ideas to write up in the meantime so I've got time to mull it over. Been a while since I took a deep dive into the world of D&B like this and even then we've only really dipped our toes into the world of the genre! Hope you've found something to enjoy here, I can recommend checking out the whole Out Patients compilation series to get a load of the variety on show there, annoyingly Out Patients 2 isn't available on their bandcamp but 3 is. Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Playing Catch Up

I've been falling majorly behind as of late. Nothing major, just the usual tale of life getting in the way meaning I haven't had much time to sit and write something out for a little while. Not to say I'm short of ideas though, I have plenty of stuff in the pipeline and I've been getting new stuff very regularly as per usual, it's just putting pen to paper that's the issue! But with two month of bandamp fridays to catch up on, I've pencilled in some time this week to hopefully get some down. Today's gonna be a litlle short on just as a stopgap, tracks and more after the pic.
I've been trying to put more variety in my mobile selections as of late, I've had pretty much the same rotation for what feels like forever and I felt like it was in need of a shakeup - so I grabbed a bunch of files and threw them all into the mix: a kind of MP3 stew if you will. Enter Sidewalks And Skeletons, an artist that I've not had in my mixes for a long time. I do remember meaning to talk about Forbidden Files way back when but I don't think I ever did. It's a slightly eclectic mix of remixes, some official, some bootlegs - a few of which are totally mangled in that distinct S&S way.

It feels much more like something you'd get from a random Mediafire link or something similar rather than a full Bandcamp release, like Flying Lotus' demo tapes of old, especially with how cryptic some of the titles get. My first pick of the day is a pretty clear cut one, Crystal Castles' Violent Dreams gets the Skeletons treatment. One of the least surprising ones on this list, both CC and S&S have both have a similar aesthetic if the album art didn't tip you off already. This remix takes things in a very electro direction, very bright sounding and almost synthwave-y in parts. It's proven pretty popular, to the point where a quick search will often bring you the remix before the original. If you've never come across any Sidewalks & Skeletons before, this track does a fantastic job of outlining the MO you can expect.

Some of them are a little plain but it's hard to complain too much when the release is pay-what-you-want. The remix of Ic3peak's I'll Be Found gives plenty of room to flex that Witch House sensibility. Truth be told I'm not too familiar with the genre beyond Sidewalk's works so I don't feel like I can comment too heavily on it (and shamefully I haven't really heard too much of the original until right now). Not quite in the same style as the electro-infused Violent Dreams but still sticks quite close to the structure of the original - there's plenty of peaks and valleys throughout, it does feel like it cover a lot of ground in its relatively short runtime, clocking in around half the length of the original.

That's not the only thing I've been spinning from my collection though, there's also three Volumes of EP to get stuck into as well - also pay-what-you-want. It's a bit of a minefield when it comes to the track list as there's a whole heap of Unicode characters and symbols in there to complicate things. I've got a solitary selection from Volume 1 for now - it's perhaps not the best representation of his current work as it's just turned 10 years old as of 2022, but if you've liked what you've heard so far you'll still find a lot to like here.

And that'll be all for today, as I mentioned up top I'm going to try and get some down and scheduled out so the gap *shouldn't* be as long in future, but with the couple of weeks I've had who knows. But enough of IRL stuff, like I also mentioned up top there's tons of stuff to look forward to, I'm going to try and catch up with the Belated Bandcamps ASAP but there's also some other cool stuff in the pipeline too. Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday, 28 February 2023

The Power Of Memes

A shorter one this time around, a little later than I anticipated because I had a hell of a week last week, but I also made a point to not bring my IRL stuff onto the blog so much this year so I'll put a pin in it there. A real fun one this time for a post theme - I've made multiple comments over the years that it doesn't matter so much *where* you discover some music and in fact sometimes the most random sources can be the greatest treasure trove of that kind of thing. So we come to talking about the internet meme, I have tons of songs in my collection that have been memed or featured in memes over the years, so I thought I'd shine the spotlight on a few.

This is a topic I can see myself revisiting, but today's entry is going to focus on two main examples. Electronic Music and memes go waaaaay back, we're talking back to the YTMND days, from Coburn's We Interrupt This Program soundtracking the NEDM meme, to Max Coveri's Running In The 90's being many a non-Initial D fan's intro to Eurobeat on 'lol internet' to the entire Caramelldansen phenomenon, it's been a phenomenon for a long, long time - and for a lot of folks (like me), it was often the first time hearing these tracks.

So colour me surpised when around 2015 I began to see a massive uptick in memes of a song I already knew - Bag Raiders' Shooting Stars. I'd already become quite familiar with Bag Raiders through all the electro I was consuming around the time it came out, but there were just so many questions about the whole thing. Why that specific track? Why so long after it's initial 08/09 release? That's a whole other discussion that could be a post on its own, though there was a bump in popularity in their native Australia around 2013 or so. To put all that aside, Shooting Stars was already one of my favourites from the album so I was ore than happy to see 'em get more exposure. I can highly recommend the album as a whole if you like what you hear here, the whole thing has this very fun almost pop-like feel to it that really sets it apart from all the other Electro House that was making waves around the time. Think more Chromeo than Justice.

The other one comes from Vine (cor, remember Vine?) Back in the heydey of syntheave was a clip of a woman and her cat set to HOME's Resonance. I didn't really give it much thought at the time, years later I'd run into some HOME tracks through another source and think that I recognised the style - sure enough with a little reasearch I was proved right. Between that and We're Finally Landing being used as the opening theme for SummoningSalt's deep dives into Speedrunning history, there's a good chance that you may have heard HOME before without realising. Another case of me heartily recommending the album this is from if you like the sound of this one, HOME's brand of synthwave has this lovely lo-fi streak running throughout that gives it a real comfy feeling that makes it stand out in my collection.

And it's tracks like this that remind us all of the importance of including the source with anything you make because remember: your next shitpost could be the first step on someone's musical journey. Joking aside, I do my best to credit tracks wherever possible, and it seems like on the whole people are getting better at it too (and there are song identifying bots to fill in the gaps too). It's incredible the reach that a silly viral vdeo trend can give a track, I'm willing to bet more than a handful of people had Bag Raiders become one of their favourite artists off the heels of the meme - and I'm more than happy to welcome them to the world of electronic music. There's plenty of room in this tent for all of us, and a massive list of genres to peruse and find something that suits you! And of course, until next time - stay safe and enjoy the music.


Friday, 17 February 2023

Digital Ephemera

Having gone through the archives of this blog, I've been no stranger to dead links, deleted SoundClouds and artists that seem to have just disappeared - that's just the way things go in this age really, some things are lucky to be archived but there's bound to be tons of stuff that's pretty much lost forever. That's why I'm always vocally in support of artists and labels doing their best to make sure their work is as available as it can be. Today we're looking back at Ford & Lopatin (formerly known as Games) and the curious case of their SoundCloud.

I was (and am, I suppose) a big fan of all things that Ford & Lopatin put out, from their spiritual successor to the pioneering vaporwave Eccojams tape with the Heaven Can Wait mixtapes, to the love letter to the 80's that was their album Channel Pressure, there's not a dud release to be had.

They were pretty popular at the time too, the That We Can Play EP made waves at the time, which makes their eventual drop off all the more unusual - they had a mad flurry of releases in 2011 under the new 'Ford & Lopatin' name and then... nothing.

There's something a little sad about seeing the last upload date reading '11 years ago' (but at least they *are* available I suppose). It's a bit like walking through a dead mall - fitting, given the vaporwave underpinnings of the duo. And speaking of 'Vapor', as in something that's announced but is never actually released, their final upload is a tune that I'm pretty sure doesn't appear anywhere else in their discography. Which is a shame because it's a lovely addition - a crash course in Games/Ford & Lopatin's style with some divine sample work.

I thought while I was there I'd talk about some of their other work - MIDI Drift is one of those tracks that comes up once in a blue moon and just blindsides me. The explosion of sound that signals the beginning is just lovely - some synth power chords and that ripped from the 80's bassline set you up for the experience ahead. It may sound a little cliché now, but at the time these two were at the cutting edge of that sound. To quote a release page for the EP: "That We Can Play is a six track EP to soundtrack a midnight ride in the Delorean, stereo aflame, racing down moonlit avenues; all strobing synth-bass jams, gated drum pads and starkissed, monophonic melodies."

Playing us out is Strawberry Skies, one of my all time favourites since its release, a standout on the tracklist as it's the only one with vocal accompaniment. Laurel Halo's voice does wonders for the atmosphere here, between the lyrical content and her delivery, she really completes that hazy, dreamy feel - especially on that distant sounding intro, which you could be forgiven for thinking is a sample from a movie. I imagine it also lets the production side flex a little bit more as well, between this and Kavinsky's Nightcall released the same year, I was all ready for a full on retro synthpop revival at the time.

It's still a fantastic EP and definitely worth going back to, or checking out in full if it passed you by the first time. The label the early Games releases were on - Hippos In Tanks - is sadly defunct, but their backc atalogue is readily available digitally from what I could tell. I would recommend Bleep personally, but other distributors are available. As much as I'd love to hear a new Ford & Lopatin record, I think the two stopped at the right time, just before the synthwave and general 'chillwave' overexposure explosion. For what it's worth, I love a lot of what Lopatin has been putting out under his main Oneohtrix Point Never alias, and Joel Ford has plenty of synthpop stuff to check out with Young Ejecta. So in a way, the two of them never really left my collection.

And that'll about do it for this post, got a little bit more poetic in parts there, but I have been meaning to stretch my legs into that territory again. Hope you've found something to enjoy here, I'll be back soon enough with more, but until then - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday, 14 February 2023

Happy(?) Valentine's

Remember how I was supposed to schedule out a couple posts for both mine and your convenience? Yeah, well life has a funny way of turning things around on you, so some IRL things have gotten in the way. But I ain't here to mope, I've been keeping notes for a little while about the semi-annual Valentine's post and now is the time to deploy them. This year, I've chosen to fully embrace the kitsch - we have a cross section of throwback French Touch, some Italo Disco and of course, a little Eurobeat to finish.
Burhan Doğançay - Sweet Hearts (1972)

If you're in need of a little pep in your step, this here post will do it for you. Kicking off with a refreshed relic of a time long past, long time readers of the blog will maybe remember Power Glove Records, headed by former writer Boba (who is still active, now under the name LUIN). I've been meaning to do a sort of recap post on the releases of PGR for a while - they're not hard too hard to find as you might expect given their age and netlabel status, but embedding them can be a little tricky. Luckily I've found (what I presume is) a reconstruction using the same samples over on Bandcamp. Subtly different from the original, but a prime piece of that 'French Touch' revival era.

Speaking of retro relics, Italian label Goody Music Records and its eventual offshoots and sub-labels have been doing a fantastic job of making tons of their catalogue available over on Bandcamp. Originally from 1982, Capricorn's I Need Love got the re-release/re-master treatment in 2019 - actually Claudio Simonetti of Goblin fame indulging in his disco side. It's quite a bit different from other 'Italo' stuff I've posted before, there's definitely more of an Electro thing going on here, which actually does wonders to make it feel pretty fresh. Behind the skeletal electronics there's some real funky bassline work going on which is a joy to listen to.

And of course, we can't have a loved-up post without some Eurobeat. It's almost cheating really, you can pick pretty much any Eurobeat release and find a tune with the word in the title - I actually put this to the test with the Eurokudos series below, I think of all of them that I opened there were only 1 or 2 without a single track containing the word 'love', and that's not counting the lyrical content. Eurobeat really does wear its heart on its sleeve: it has but one purpose - to be supremely catchy and invite you to dance, as you might expect from a genre evolved from Disco. And it succeeds a lot of the time, good luck getting the main vocal hook from this one out of your head anytime soon. Granted it can sometimes be a little too bubblegum sweet, but I think this one hits a nice balance between the two.

And that'll be all for today, a little shorter than I originally intended but I'm pretty happy with the selections, and I'm trying to get this one down ASAP before something else unexpected comes my way again. Still, I'll be back when I get a minute, even if it's just to share one single track. Hope you all have a lovely love day, especially with these tunes to accompany you. Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Just missed

Jack Youngerman - Black/Red (1962)

Prepping to write out a big rundown of my Bandcamp Friday scoops, thought it best to do a quick 'honourable mentions' that didn't quite make it this time around - I've found it serves as a pretty good reminder come next time plus it's plain fun to talk about those almost records, let's have a look. First is some Machine Girl, with some bootleg mixes of cuts from the Jet Set Radio soundtracks. Between the track titles, the art and the description over on Bandcamp it can come across as a little obnoxious - this is the duo leaning heavy into their 'web-core' aesthetic. My favourite mix of the bunch is the one of Electric Toothbrush, which was already a favourite of mine from the OST anyway, this version given a Juked up makeover. Part of why I think it's the best mix of the bunch is it feels the most seamlessly intertwined, Electric Toothbrush isn't as sample based as the other tracks they chose to rework, iconic though they are.

I've been trying to take deeper dives into my Wishlist, one of the pitfalls of it is I usually end up scooping a release or two from the top so some things inevitably sink to the bottom. Way down there is a bunch of Misstress Barbara stuff, from her poppier album work to the proper full on House stuff. I have been finding some of it a little hit and miss, but there are moments that take me back to the tracks that put her on my radar to begin with. Talk To Me being a primo example, incredibly hypnotic and endlessly catchy, it's exactly the type of track I would come across in the early days of my electronic exploration, tucked away in some bootleg DJ mix without a tracklist. Misstress Barbara has recently overhauled her BC page and is still dropping new releases to boot - with older EPs like this one going for a lowly $2 Canadian, it won't be long before I grab a couple next time I stock up.

And finally, Gimmik. This one stings a little as I've *almost* copped this album about 3 times now, but I always end up putting it down again. Part of the reason it pains me is all I've heard from it has been great, all of Gimmk's work is the kind of IDM that is almost tailor made for me, very much in the same kind of vein as the work he was doing on Toytronic in the early 00's which first put him in my collection. The title track was the one used in the teaser trailer for the album and it is a damn near perfect example of what I just mentioned - I simply adore the sound on show here. That intro is deliciously techy in that slightly off kilter way, but the real star of the show for me is that sweeping melody introduced at around 50 seconds or so, it adds this whole layer of electronic emotion to things that I just cannot get enough of. By the time the big swell at 1:23 came around I was already grinning ear-to-ear. Simply wonderful stuff. If this is your preferred kind of IDM as well I would highly recommend other Gimmik releases, with my personal suggestion being (Back To Basics).

And that'll be all for this super quick tour of what might have been, I'm going to try and find time to do my Bandcamp scoops sometime soon, I figure I might split it out into smaller posts like this in order to make it easier to write (and potentially more focused too, I know there's at least one record I picked up I want to spend a fair bit of time talking about). Until then, I hope you've found something to enjoy here and as always: stay safe and enjoy the music.


Sunday, 5 February 2023

A Dry Spell

This is a post that made a little more sense back when I first started writing it, but there was a bit of a shake up through January so it ended up being a little later and isn't as applicable anymore, so take the next section with a big 'ol asterisk! January is a pretty dry season for any new media, there's never many new bits of music, film or really much of anything coming out - so here's a couple newer things that have come my way.
First things first we have Thorne - an old friend of the blog under his old moniker of Magna, a name he has since retired. And it's not without reason - I had a conversation with him a long while ago now and the long and short of it is that he feels he's sort of outgrown it, which I can sympathise with, as much as I love my Fake Internet Name™ I must admit there are times where it feels a little immature. There's a marked change in sound and visuals as well to go with the new name, even in the Magna days the visual direction was on point and that has not changed here - now with an injection of leet speak and liberal use of Helvetica to compliment that.

It's been a long time coming for me to talk about Thorne (and if you're reading I'm sorry it's taken this long!), but I do try and keep tabs on what former blog staff and acquaintances are up to these days. So let's talk these new sounds then - we're still in in the sphere of House, but it's a far cry from the filter house of old. There's an undeniable Burial influence on the pitched and chopped vocal samples that form the backbone of Where It's Bright, and the accompanying visualizer echoes the Vaporwave videos of old in parts.

There are times where it reminds me a fair bit of Machine Girl as well, albeit a much less frantic version. Machine Girl's work is more jumped up footwork for the most part, whereas tracks like Much 2 Love feel positively sedate in comparison. It's not an unfitting comparison on the visual front either, though Machine Girl's art is usually a little more psychedelic on the whole, there's a hefty chunk of Vaporwave and general early 00's internet culture in there as well, as is the case with Thorne. I am keeping tabs on the project and am interested to see where it goes, his most recent contribution being a (fake) BBC Essential Mix from 2003 - calling back to the roots with Crydajam's If You Give Me The Love I Want opening the proceedings.

The other example I have for you today is something a little different from my usual affair. There was a time where I was militantly against any and all things pop (take a peek back into the archives to see that!), and that was true for most of the other blog writers at the time as well. I do still have some holdout opinions from that time - I still maintain that Calvin Harris' early work is a lot more fun and interesting than the soulless stuff he'd go on to make - but the reality is that I've loosened up with time, partly an age thing and partly due to expanding my musical horizons over the years as well.

What I've come to realise in that time is that my hate for the radio wasn't for the content, but the fact that it's the same pool of 5-8 songs on repeat (admittedly slightly hypocritical if you've seen some of my library!). Hell, I'll even hold my hands up and admit some of the stuff folk like The Weeknd have put out is incredibly catchy, especially in the synth department, but has also been ruined by sheer overexposure. All that to say we'll be taking a look at Will Weinbach next, and more specifically his latest release.

It's certainly the kind of thing I wouldn't just stuble across in my usual music explorations, the algorithm has been both a blessing and a curse in cases like that. But - Will was kind enough to ping me a press release around that time so I had a vague idea of what to expect going in. The intro sets things up as I mentioned above, it's potentially a little too in that mainstream vein for my taste (but I am willing to admit there is also that lingering bias as I mentioned above). Having said that, I was pretty glad to have stuck it out, come the full introduction around the 1 minute mark things get very interesting indeed, surprisingly heavy I'd say as well given what came before.

Naturally, I checked out a couple other of his tracks as well just to get a feel for things, Safe And Sound being my pick of the bunch. I have a well documented love for all things slow jams so you won't be surprised on that front from the intro - those piano stabs and handclaps taking me right back to 2010 in the best way possible. Will's productions typically hover just under the 3 minute mark, in this case I wish there was a little more to get my teeth into though, it carries a nice energy. Even with the very small pool of tracks Will has out right now, it's clear that he has a talent for this kind of sound, I'd be interested in seeing him tackle some longer tracks and maybe explore a little more variety, but that's hardly a complaint when the man only has a handful of releases right now.

And that'll be all for now, a bit of a departure from my usual I know, but I do have a buncha posts on the backburner to go, including what I got in the first of 2023's Bandcamp Fridays. A busy couple of weeks on the radar at the minute but I'll try and get some things out here and there - until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Peaks & Valleys

Rochelle Blumenfeld - Desert Canyon (2015)

What a week of ups and downs it has been, seems like there's always something waiting just around the corner, for better or worse. Still, given me a chance to catch up on some writing, which I am sorely behind on. the list of post ideas keeps on growing, but I'm going to try and schedule them out over this weekend - bit of a change from my off-the-cuff mode of operating I'd been using for a while! But let's pin that for now and talk tunes. Going a little thematic with this one for the selections, let's go.

Kicking off with some of Ben Prunty's solo work. I just missed a January sale on his Bandcamp page unfortunately, but they're on my radar now at least. Fans of Prunty's suitably spacey OST for FTL will find themselves in similar company here - Dusty Road opening with those lone, almost chiptune stabs. It soon evolves though, and by the 1 minute mark is quite similar to some of the Battle themes from FTL, building to an almost post-rock style crescendo come the 2 minute mark. I'm doing the track a bit of disservice by giving it the bullet point treatment, give it a spin to get the full effect.

Taking a trip back to 2007 next - it's been a little while since I did some nostalgia-posting about the days of electro house but here we are again! Very occasionally a track will come back up out of the blue and just blindside me, I was listening to Ed Banger's Ménage-À-Trois mix CD from Mixmag earlier this week, which pretty much did that on every single track. The real highlight was a little something from PUZIQUe, a short-lived duo of Boys Noize and D.I.M. They had a few killer remixes out around that time but I had pretty much forgotten about 'em in all honesty, until Don't Go Reminded me. A real tune, a shining example of the sound a li'l teenage me would go mad for, much like Surkin's White Knight Two later in this same compilation. Annoyingly a but tricky to get a legit stream of, so I'm splitting the difference once again - one legit, one knock-off soundcloud upload.

And finally, a little something that I picked up a while ago but just plain didn't mention. Not for any particular reason, I like to hold onto things every now and then for occasions like this. Astral Engineering is an alias of Simon Rees that's one of those delightfully obscure tales of electronic music - self-releasing 2 albums in 1993, then disappearing for nearly 20 years before coming back with new material in the 2010s. Music For Insomniacs gathers some of the 90's material that was never before released. It's a nice experience in all, reminds me a bit of Alter Ego's debut from 1994 in terms of it being one big continuous techy ambient jam. Drifting sets up that vibe nicely in all it's spacey, dubby glory. The end's a little abrupt as it's supposed to mix into the next track, I highly recommend the whole thing if you need a little bit of a midweek float. You can get the album for free if you'd like to boot.

And that'll about wrap it up for today as I said I have a few more ideas in the pipeline that I'm going to try and get out soon enough, but for now I hope you've enjoyed this slightly eclectic selection. I'll be back soon enough with more but until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Like the deserts miss the rain - the return of Everything But The Girl

Colour me surprised to find a new upload on the official Everything But The Girl channel last week. First things first I didn’t even know they had a channel and second I haven’t even browsed that much EBTG content there so who knows how the algorithm decided to suggest it my way. This post was supposed to go up last week but I postponed it a little while I ironed out those previously mentioned tech issues, it was the right move to make in hindsight as I’ve had a little more time to spend with it and think on what I was going to say. So let’s get into it.

First, some backstory (albeit an extremely condensed one). EBTG started out as a folky kinda pop band duo back in the 80’s. Around 1995, hot off the heels of the now legendary Todd Terry mix of Missing they would take a more electronic approach - it’s here that most of the stuff I’ve posted of them comes from: 1996’s Walking Wounded and ’99’s Temperamental leaning heavily on the side of Drum & Bass.

And that’s about where the story ends, outside of some album reissues with old demos included and some solo albums from both Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt, there hasn’t been any *new* EBTG material since 1999. Until now, that is. They have a new album penciled in for April 2023, having been recorded in 2021 (which despite what you might think, isn’t a product of lockdowns so say the band). First single is the first track off the album Nothing Left To Lose, a fittingly melancholy title given the content of previous EBTG albums. More thoughts after the video itself.

It sounds cliché to say, but really it is like they never left, from the jump we’re back in 2-step garage town and there’s some proper shelf rattling bass backing it up as well, sort of retro but with a distinctly modern feel. The 24 year gap has done nothing to dull the duo’s production chops. EBTG’s work, especially Temperamental had a real focus on city spaces which I think the sound reflects very well.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a return to EBTG without Tracey Thorn’s vocals. Her delivery on some of the previous records is among my favourites, and her lyricism is usually full of colourful wordplay hiding the bleakness in the content. On first listen, I wasn’t sure it was her on the vocals, but after a few more listens it became more and more clear that it is. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about phrasing this part, her voice has changed quite a bit since the Temperamental days (but again, it has been *24* years, so that’s to be expected), feeling a lot more mature than the fragility of, say, her guest vocal on Massive Attack’s Protection. To be perfectly clear I don’t mean that to be negative at all - her vocals are still incredibly effective and evocative, and twins excellently with the sounds on display here. I find myself replaying the explosion in sound at 2:54, backed by Thorn’s plea to “Kiss me while the world decays” over and over again.

I’m interested to see where the rest of the album goes, previous ones weren’t always strictly Drum & Bass so this change in sound isn’t too unexpected, I would love to see an update to the ‘classic’ sound in future singles but I also wouldn’t complain if it were all in this vein. I’ll certainly be keeping tabs on it going forward, and if I’m feeling up for it might actually do a review when the time comes.

I’ve got this far and not even mentioned the video at all! It’s a fairly simple setup all things considered, but the camerawork and choreography is pretty great. Feels like a bit of a callback to the days where music videos were more common on TV than they are now - where artists like Aphex Twin and such would make wild videos to get the people talking. Slightly unrelated but my favourite of their previous ones is the video for Five Fathoms, which is just a bunch of guerrilla footage of a town center’s denizens on some night out in 1999, with a pretty heavy focus on a DDR machine for extra nostalgia!

But that’ll about do it for today, hope you dig the tune as much as I do, I’ll be back around soon enough with more but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Saturday, 21 January 2023

Tech Troubles

Y'know, there was a time when a bug or glitch would pop up and I'd say 'ooooooh', crack my knuckles and set to work troubleshooting. That's a passion that's faded with time, maybe it's an age thing, maybe it's to do with my IRL job having quite a lot of that in it as it is. At any rate, there's been a few issues come up this week that have really made me just go 'UGH' - like downloading 100GB+ worth of game only for there to a massive remote code execution exploit come out only days later. There's also been a couple with this site actually, so you may have seen some weirdness during the week (which is also why this post is a little delayed). But let's put a cap on that for now and talk some tunes instead.
Pictured - how it be with technology sometimes

I put Moderat's debut back into rotation a while back, and I've been enjoying it more than I remember. For a record I've always had kind of mixed feelings about, I will say it starts off incredibly strongly - there are times where it feels like the trio of Modeselektor and Apparat are trying to find their feet, especially in comparison to the eventual later albums under the Moderat moniker - but the one-two punch of A New Error and Rusty Nails are both perfect examples of their collaboration. For both you can distinctly tell the parts that each brought to the table: Apparat's lyricism and delivery of course being the most prominent on Rusty Nails, but there are also shades of his Walls work on the opening track too. Today though, I'm feeling the classic Modeselektor bass that is all over A New Error

I've been revisiting a lot of The Knife lately as well, specifically their respective offshoot solo efforts. I did always end up paying more attention to Karin's rather than Olof's, but he has also done a lot less solo work than his sibling. A string of EPs under the name Oni Ayhun are the main offering from him - a collection of four releases over about 3 years. There's some real gems among the tracks, and today I'm going with probably the most popular one of the bunch, the B-side to OAR003, creatively titled OAR003-B.

A staple of many a mix around the time of its release, it still crops up from time to time, most recently in the DJ mixes included with GTA V's nightclub update. I has a bit of that Silent Shout style to it, but overall it's very different. You could be forgiven for thinking it's older than it is, in parts it definitely feels like that is the case. Despite it's quite hefty runtime of 11 minutes, it's not hard to see why it's popular - I love the constant working and reworking of the melody and I have a well documented weakness for key changes too. Unfortunatley it's not readily available on legit streaming, so I'm going to split the difference with a hooky soundcloud upload and a legitimate YT one.

Also in the pipeline are plans to do a few more Retro Reviews in the near future, including the bits of the Artificial Intelligence series I missed during my massive History of Warp series (which I am going to edit soon to replace the spotify players with Bandcamp ones where I can). I know I go on and on about those albums and that sound specifically, but I've never actually covered the main compilations that bookend the series of albums! And I never got around to covering Speedy J's Ginger either come to think of it.

J's contributions to the compilations are very nice indeed, I've gone with Symmetry for this one as it's a bit of a rarity, only appearing on the Japanese version of G Spot as the closing tune. And what a good closing tune it is, it would be my personal choice to cap off te AI series, an ambient trek with spacey arpeggios and swirling synths - it encapsulates that Hi Tech feel that underpinned the entire series, only in this very skeletal ambient fashion, building to an eventual crescendo in the final quarter or so. Lovely stuff and a textbook example of the 'Electronic Listening Music' Warp were shooting for.

And that'll be all for now, like I mentioned I've got more than a few ideas waiting to go, it's just a question of finding time to type them up! There might be a couple short ones I can pepper throughout to make the gaps shorter though. I hope you've found something to enjoy from the selections today, I'll be back soon enogugh with more but until then - as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.


Monday, 16 January 2023

How does it feel? (Blue Monday 2023)

It is THE Blue Monday, so I'm going to use that as an excuse to talk about all things Blue Monday. I don't think there's many singular tracks I could make an entire post out of - I know I've done it or similar for Kraftwerk's The Model way back when - but that is a testament to the lasting impact some of these tracks have.

Blue Monday is nothing short of iconic, and not just in the electronic music world either, much like The Model mentioned above, BM is one of the early examples of electronic music breaking through into popular culture. A quick breakdown for those unaware: New Order was formed from the tragic end of Joy Division, and would continue in a similar sort of style until around 1983 where things would take a decidedly electronic turn.

It's from this era that Blue Monday comes about, and it made a massive splash - with the original '83 pressing, the '88 re-release and 1995 version selling a cumulative total of approximately over 10 million. And it's not hard to see why, if there were a recipe for 80's synthpop, this would be it: the opening kickdrum flurry sets the stage, a moment that has become a pop culture icon on its own, and the catchy melancholy is of course another defining feature, and one that comes back into fashion every now and then (see: Electroclash around 2002). It's a bit of a pain to find a legal stream of, so I'm doing my usual routine of the crimped soundcloud player (which to be fair in this instance at least plays one of the most prominent bits of it), and then the whole thing on YT. The video is at least pretty cool for this one rather than just a static thumbnail!

And that could have been enough for today on it's own, a celebraation of this sepcific track. But I'm feeling a little inspired so I thought I'd put a couple more examples down just off the top of my head. First things first we have Flunk's cover from their debut album For Sleepyheads Only. Covers can be a divise topic at the best of times, something that is especially true with a track as massive as Blue Monday.

I can certainly see people crying blasphemy at this trip hopped version but it's pretty inoffensive, once it breaks free of the breathy-indie intro around 1:25 it becomes a lot less cliché and sets into a nice groove. Even so, it's very much in that vein of early 00's 'chillout' which has sometimes dated things a little more than usual, I have a well documented love for that style, plus added nostalgia glasses for this one so you'll have to take my opinion with a grain of salt!

It would spawn an accompanying EP of remixes, expanding the genres to include Drum & Bass, Electro, Disco and more. A couple of my favourites ended up on the compilation remix album Treat Me Like You Do, the remix album is pretty unique in that some of the tracks still mix together seamlessly rather than being standalone, so I'm using the EP for this next bit for a cleaner cut. Of them all, the second mix by Jori Hulkkonen might take the cake.

It turns it back around in the direction of the original with some 80's throwback synth to start off with, all coming to a peak with a re-interpretation of that kickdrum kick-off. It'd be easy to turn the whole thing into a retrofit remix and just emulate the original to a T, but after than initial nostalgia burst it does find it's own feet, bursting into a funky house infused number that's more Disco than it is New Wave. An interesting approach to take, but I like the inclusion of the knowing wink to the original before going off in a new direction.

And finally, HEALTH's version made for the Atomic Blonde OST, which I have very mixed feelings about. I've loved the new electronic direction HEALTH took since 2015's Death Magic, and on paper a version of BM with that sound would be very nice indeed, it could put quite an aggressive spin on things. In reality though I was expecting something more in line with the poppier approach they took for their cover of High Pressure Days made for the GTA V OST.

The end result though is a pretty by-the-numbers cover, incorporating all the key identifiers of the original - those kicks, that melody and even the synth choral accompaniment, just filtered through a HEALTH lens. The vocals feel a little flat, which I guess is in line with the original, but I feel like given some of HEALTH's other output it could have been a little more dynamic. There's a great breakdown in the middle section which spices things up a touch and gives it a little more of the edge, but otherwise it's played pretty straight - given that it's only appeared on the OST album that could be at the label's request, but that's conjecture on my part. Not my favourite cover, not my favourite HEALTH track either, but still fine.

Not to end on such a dour note, but then again I suppose that is on brand for the 'Blue Monday' after all. The concept itself might be total tosh but I'll take any and all opportunities to talk about a bit of New Order and relations. This one was a little off the cuff and I feel like it's gotten a little long, but that's OK as the next post in the pipeline is going to be a fair bit shorter, no ETA on it as of yet but you can probably expect it by the end of the week if all goes well. Until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Friday, 13 January 2023

Down the rabbit hole

Interesting tale this time around, got talking with a coworker about the repress of the original Artificial Intelligence compilation Warp put out late last year, and in the process of seeing of bleep had any more left in stock, I accidentally stumbled across Doris Norton. Now here's some album art to grab your attention.

It's a reissue of a 1985 release, but the Bleep page lists the reissue date, so you could be forgiven for thinking it was a modern one emulating the style much like Ford & Lopatin's Channel Pressure. Curiousity took hold and off a reading I went. And what a tale it is, with Doris being actually sponsored by Apple - a fact that is shown prominently on the album cover for Personal Computer, embalzoned with the Apple logo, not to mention the Apple II featuring front and center on Artificial Intelligence, both albums I'll be posting from today.

Between it and the mouthful Nortoncomputerforpeace, and the previous album Personal Computer you have a blitz of 1980's electro. It's all good stuff, helped by the relatively bite size portions of the albums - each clocking in at around a half hour apiece. I've been trying to explore more vintage electronic as of late, so this has been a fun, if unexpected, journey. Here are some of my selections:

On paper it's sort of by-the-numbers electro, but for it's time it will have been pretty novel. It's a little like going back and watching an old horror flick, it's full of clichés going back to it - but the only reason they're clichés are because they originated from that film! The other highlight has been Personal Computer. Frustratingly the repressing label only has this 20min preview of the full thing rather than individual tracks, but it's certainly worth a spin - the whole album is only about 33mins after all so it's actually a pretty big 'preview'! Check out title track Personal Computer for some surprisingly grungy hi-tech electronic goodness, or head over to my personal favourite A.D.A. Converter for some wild synth and atmospheric noodling.

And that'll be all for today's electro excursion, hope you've found it as interesting as I have. Just goes to show you what can come of a botched search! Not sure how long it would have been until me and Doris crossed paths otherwise, but it seems like we were destined to at some point. A string of represses means her work is more readily available than if it were stuck in the 80s, but sadly there's no digital version of them to accompany. Still, happy to have found it either way. Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music


Wednesday, 11 January 2023

One of them days...

Not long into the new year and we've already hit the first lull - you know, one of those days where it feels like nothing's going your way? Yeah, here we are baybeeeee. To be honest it's pretty mild all things considered but it still feels a bit naff. But enough miseryposting, lets 'ave some tunes instead.
Miwa Ogasawara - Bed (2008)

Going a bit all over the place this time around, kicking off with some actual vintage Nosisa. I hadn't kept up with them too much to my shame (what else is new though?), as it turns out with a quick glance over at Discogs they've been wildly active with 4 releases in 2022 alone. Rolling back to the far off year of 2007 AD with their fist ever release on their own label Division Recordings, the incredibly of-the-era titled Yellow Brick / Raar. Another one of those tracks to file under 'you've probably heard this somewhere without knowing what it was' - Yellow Brick would be right at home next to my electro bangers collection of the time, between those thunderous kicks, hoover synths and that deliciously 'electro' lead melody. A little long in the tooth at 7 mins, but sometimes the grind just hits right you know?

Moving on to something new-er, a little something I found from someone else's 3D showreel. I've always liked hearing other people's choices for that kind of thing, you really get an insight into not only their visuals but their music taste too, though I may be slightly biased as I was in the business of making music videos & live visuals way back when. No surprise a fair few of them are aping the early 00's aesthetic a la ThorHighHeels or similar, if you hadn't already clocked that from the image below and the overall aesthetic of the track title and artist name. Though the art on this one feels much more cliché than the others being a literal screenshot of one of the Project Zero/Fatal Frame games - I can't argue with the sound. This one has a lot of charm to it, I've said before I have a lot of love for the 'menu theme' style and this has it in spades. A short and sweet demo, and as a result another release I've put under the 'to check out' label.

Next on the docket is Machine Girl, who've always been in the periphery of my radar, but with a wishlist as long as mine some things are bound to get lost. The tale is quite similar though, a quick browse through their album art and you'll see all kinds of vaporwavey goodness (doubly so for Gemini, where each track has it's own unique artwork as you'll see below). The duo of soundtracks for Neon White last year was the kick I needed to really take that dive into the discogs, their tracks an excellent compliment to the speedy shooting of the game. Gemini is an excellent jumping in point for the curious, a decadent display of their craft - a hyped up blend of Breakcore and a Juke - with the occasional plunge into full on euphoria as heard around the 1:28 mark on C_MGIRL.

And just because that was a little short, an extra one to put on. A touch more obviously vaporwavy this time on the intro, but it's not long before we're in the land of gunshot kicks and sugary sweet synth. Truth be told I ain't got much footwork-y stuff in my collection - Adam was my main source of that being the Chicago connection and all. It's not for want of not liking it, and I can definitely see this album reminding me to explore that area a little more, certainly feels like a genre you could overdose on though - though that could very well be a feeling enhanced by MG's take on the genre!

And that'll be all for today, I've taken to writing a couple of posts in advance so I should be able to pepper some over the rest of this week/next week. I even managed to get one mostly written while I was waiting for a delayed train, we're on a whole 'nother level of efficiency in 2023! With that in mind, I'll be back soon enough with more but until then - as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.


Wednesday, 4 January 2023

Welcome to the world of Tomorrow

Doesn't seem that long ago I was putting together the NYE track dump, but I figure the sooner I get my head down and writing again the better. What a wild few days it has been so far eh? Every year since 2019 it's been funny seeing which Sci-Fi dates we're passing, from Blade Runner to TimeSplitters, there's plenty of 'futuristic' dates that are now in the past. So with that in mind, let's revisit some of my favourite futuristic sounding tracks!
Jackson Pollock - Number 23 (1948)

We've got two feet firmly planted in the world of what's termed IDM today, a longtime favourite sound of mine partly because of that super hi-tech vibe and the occasional glitchy aesthetic. Kicking off with a recent addition I mentioned not so long ago onesix-four by Superstructure from the third entry in the Ghostly Swim series. And my thought are pretty much going to echo what I said about it in passing last time: I am madly in love with this one, it sounds very much like an off-cut of AFX's Analord series. It had been a long time since a track made such an impression on me so quickly, it wastes no time getting down to things and I knew from that intro I was in for a good time. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

Delving a little deeper into the more obscure side of things with Karsten Pflum, another artist I found via Worm Interface's back-catalogue, which I in turn found from Toytronic. I've taken to searching Bandcamp for releases like this, despite them being from decades old defunct labels, a lot of them do appear on Artist's pages, as is the case with Karsten. I started with his debut album, the unassumingly titled Tracks. As you might have guessed from the cover, Karsten's brand of IDM fits into that more playfully eccentric type of IDM - more Plaid than Autechre, lots of squelchy detunes and lovey light sounds. Alberts Dag is exactly the tune I'd point to for a quick summary, wonderfully melodic throughout but especially so here, I can wholeheartedly recommend the full thing if you like this one.

Rounding out with one of those Toytronic releases with Links Berge Rechts Seen. Another case of the above, I had a hooky copy of it for ages before finding it on Bandcamp one day. It's a fine little album, one that is for sure more on the techy glitchy side as you might have been able to tell from the artwork. Much like the artwork, there are times when it feels very much like it's channeling Autechre circa Amber or Tri Repetae or so. That isn't a bad thing at all mind you, but it does mean that most of my choices were a little too glitchy in comparison to what I've posted so far today. Luckily there are plenty of lush examples on the album to go in their stead. From the spaced out ambience of The Light to the subdued Artificial Intelligence-esque Phase 4. I've gone with Planquadrat this time though as I feel like it shares the most in common with the other tracks above, albeit a little more frantic. Still, if you like your IDM a more melodic, give this album a spin and you won't go too wrong.

And that'll do it for the first post of the year! hope it's treating you all well so far, I'm planning on trying to get the remaining few hundred archived posts republished soon enough, though as I get further back the more and more of the tracks featured aren't available anymore. At any rate, I hope you've enjoyed today's selections and I will be back around soon enough with more. Until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.