Thursday, 17 August 2023

A Short post about Shorts

Making my way through a big ol' pile of emails that have accrued over time, whittling through the many Bandcamp ones at the minute - part of the reason they pile up is that I never like to bin a 'new release from x' one without at least checking it out first.

I did a double take when I read the description for this one - a new release from Squarepusher x Adam Buxton? An oddity to be sure. A little context for those unaware, Adam Buxton is a comedian, best known for his array of musical earworms - every so often I catch the infectious Moby Song creeping into my skull. Suffice to say, not the first choice that comes to mind when thinking about a collaboration with Squarepusher (though saying that, the Moby Song does have the amen break in it, so maybe not a million miles removed!)



So what's on the menu when Buxton meets 'Pusher's brand of breaks? Well, we're treated to a mashed rework of My Red Hot Car for starters, which is one of my favourites from SP anyway. Here, it's been reformed into a short form sub 50-second number, in keeping with Adam's 'Jingle' format. Buxton's lyrical accompaniment is typically silly - making the whole thing closer to something 'Pusher's brother would make; some of the Ceephax tracks are definitely a bit of a piss-take. Truth be told it works pretty well, the rework of Red Hot Car is brilliant and Buxton's accompaniment retains that earworm-y nature of his other jingles, it's only been a couple of days and I can already tell that the shoutout of "Middle aged man legs!" is going to join the Moby Song in repeating on me randomly in the years to come.



It's not just an audio shitpost though, the reason behind this collab is laid clear on the tune's bandcamp page: "HotBox in Chelmsford, Essex is a welcoming venue for live entertainments and revelry which stands out a nautical mile. It's an essential lifeline for local culture, but like many smaller venues in the UK saddled with post-lockdown debt, it is finding it more and more difficult to stay in business. So please offer a donation and in return we offer this short piece as a token of appreciation. Let's help HotBox remain the local community's top spot!" It's not embeddable so you'll have to visit the page to get the legit player, but at £0.50, it's well worth adding to your own collection.

I've still got other stuff in the pipeline, it's looking like it might be a series of bandcamp-less players unfortunately, but in one case there might be another stream I can use, we'll see when the time comes. In the meantime, I hope you've liked this short look at Shorts - and until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the muisc.

-CVF

Tuesday, 8 August 2023

Birthdays Bonus

Joe Goode - Birthdays (2008)


First things first - apologies for taking such an extended break. Every Summer I give myself a list of things to sort out and then never end up actually doing it, but this year was different. Nothing exciting unfortunately, jut a lot of tedious file management that I'd been putting off for ages and catching up on some other things. The downside to that being I am now behind in other areas, this blog included - so it goes.

At any rate, I have a fair few things planned for this month to make up for it - starting with the annual tradition that is the anniversary post. By happy synchronicity both me and the site share a birthday, I like to mark the occasion with a slightly longer than usual post with some of my recent favourites, so let's get stuck right in.

Kicking off with Ceephax's Christmas gift to us in Baddow Moods. In the past I've characterised Ceephax's output as a bit tongue-in-cheek, which is true - you only have to look at the videos for his tracks to see he's having a right laugh embracing the cheese. Baddow Moods is pretty far from that, it's a gorgeous experience throughout, delving into more Deep House territory, sometimes even ambient at times but still with the eponymous Acid backing it up. Here's one of my favourites from the LP and the longest of the bunch in Ventlaris - to the surprise of no one reading it's this spacey number with flecks of acid as mentioned above and I could live in it's space forever. I may have to give the whole LP a write up one of these days.



There's going to be a theme for this month where I get to nerd out a little, and you're going to see a little bit of that here. Chikada Wasei, one of the men behind the tracks for the Cyberia scenes in Serial Experiements Lain has been making new additions to the series since 2018, with Layer 4 being the most recent one. Wasei is a talented producer, and importantly very flexible with the productions that make it onto these albums - while there are glimpses of the thudding Techno of the original OST, there's a variety in genres on show on the modern Cyberia-s. Really they deserve their own post (another one I'll have to get around to). For now, here's a choice bit from Layer 4



Case in point when it comes to variety, there's a companion album to Layer 03 titled After Hours which is predictably a lot more laid back than the main entries. A cool concept in general really, as Wasei turned to the community for contributions, the Lain community has a massive amount of fan-made music so it was nice to see it recognised. Not to say Wasei was totally hands off though, he too has a few contributions and collaborations throughout the track list, the introspective Last Present being a highlight.



A little bit of my last Bandcamp Friday pickups next, they were a little piecemeal this time around despite me having an extra month to prepare. Garoad dropped another single recently, they are infrequent but always a highlight (but also he seems to be busy with other soundtrack work so I can hardly complain!). Fight On Beat sees a return to form, if like me you just love the VA-11 HALL-A OST then you'll be right at home here. It wastes no time getting right down to it, opening with the exact sounds that put the VA-11 HALL-A tracks on my radar. Surprisingly not the only Fighting Game themed track I picked up on BC Friday either, but that's a tale for another day.



Some Rei Harakami next, and another from my recent BC Friday. I've been slowly drip feeding myself Harakami's works over the past few years in order to make the most of them - I adore Harakami's sound, so the longer I can hold onto having 'new' works to listen to the better. One of his tracks - Pone - is one of my favourites of all time, so it's only natural that I give a little shout out here too. Unrest is his debut, and as much as I like to say he perfects his formula on later albums, most of it is already here from the get go - that playful electric piano that underpins Harakami's sound is still there, it's just trimmed in Techno on this first LP. To the surprise of no one, the more downtempo bits are my favourites, starting with the short and sweet Wreck, an almost prototype of Pone mentioned above, simply gorgeous.



To make up for that one being a little short, one I've talked about before but is the first that comes to mind when thinking of this album - the lovely, dubby Bioscope. It sounds a little different from the usual E-Piano stuff I mentioned before, but the production sensibilities remain the same and shine through quite nicely. I will say if you've enjoyed either of these two, go right ahead and look up Harakami's discography and you won't be disappointed, as mentioned earlier [Lust] is my favourite of the bunch, but you can drop the needle pretty much anywhere and get some more goodness going on.



And finally, one last selection from one of my recent loves - Yagya's Faded Photographs is a wonderfully sedate experience, one that works best when listened to as one whole thing, though this makes it tricky to pick out individual pieces, especially as so many of the tracks flow together. The one-two punch of No Matter What and Melting In The Morning Sun have been my most repeated of the bunch. Here, the instrumentals almost take a backseat, which makes the vocal flourishes shine that much brighter. The album is quite accessible when compared to the Yagya output that I knew from the early 00's - the super stripped minimal where 6 minutes is the shortest runtime. The vocals are a welcome addition for me, they do wonders for the atmosphere and I think really complete that slight melancholy as shown on the album's cover. I've seen some say they aren't a fan, but also a fair few say the production is very similar to the albums before this (albeit minus the vocals) - if that's the case I'll have to pencil a few of them in to check out come Winter.



And that'll be about all for today, thanks for sticking with us for another year, and as I say every time - here's to many more. Stay tuned for more writings this month, some of it can't be on Bandcamp players so I'll have to try and arrange something else - apologies in advance. Shouldn't be too long mind you, until then - as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Tuesday, 11 July 2023

Retro Review: Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Pocket Symphonies For Lonesome Subway Cars

I've been waiting to do this one for a while - I've spent a fair bit of time gathering my thoughts, and now feels like a good time to deploy. Today we're talking Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, a project of Owen Ashworth formed in the mid 90s. For the first few releases under the name, Owen implemented an interesting methodology - those of a similar Film Studies background to myself might be familiar with Lars von Trier's Dogme 95, a manifesto focusing on raw filmmaking by purposefully limiting equipment and techniques. CTFPA's first releases follow their own brand of this doctrine, altered to fit audio. They are as follows: short songs, played in C, on the white notes of Casio keyboards.



The end result is a uniquely intimate experience, one I've found myself coming back to over and over again as of late, as someone who has famously been all about high-tech sounds in the past, it's quite the turn. I've found it quite freeing as a whole, given the dismal state of the tech world these days, each there is comfort in the imperfections embraced on CTFPA's work.

We're focusing on the second album today (and my favourite of the early works) - Pocket Symphonies For Lonesome Subway Cars. The opening track is a fine intro to that methodology mentioned above, fully embracing the pre-sets on the Casio which is a trend that will continue, as will the frank lyrical content. We Have Mice isn't quite as lo-fi as some other offerings from the album, but manages to cram quite a lot into a very short runtime. I end up saying this a lot, but if you vibe with this track, go ahead and dive right into the rest of the album and you will not be disappointed.



It was by track 2 that I knew I would be in love with this album - Tonight Was A Disaster dials the melancholy up to max, an instant juxtaposition to the opening track. There are certain lines that come to mind from this album pretty regularly - "And you'll say that it's no big deal, but it's the shake in your voice gives away how you feel" being one of them. Not sure how I feel about the noodling come the halfway point, my mind changes on it pretty regularly, but I absolutely adore the other Casio sounds on show here.



And that's a theme that will repeat also, while there are certain elements that stay the same - you'll continue to hear that preset drumbeat throughout for one - Owen does a fantastic job of getting a lot of variety out of the limiting factors. Suitcase In Hand shows that off in style, backed with some lovely powerful feeling electronics, especially around the 0:56 mark with a sequence that reminds me of Brian Eno's The Big Ship. Equally cathartic are the lyrics: "I'm at the station, the train is leaving at eight / And nothing's gonna make me stay, hey hey. No room for trouble in this old suitcase". The delivery of the lines is always on point, the lyrics themselves might not be the most complex, but the starkness often makes them all the more resonant.



Caltrain Song is a tender, contemplative number that again shows the relative flexibility of the self-imposed limitations of the Casiotone project at this point. The lyrics continue the melancholy trend, this time focusing on the hurt of words. Dying Batteries, the shortest of the bunch at just shy of a minute long, does the same - with an incredibly stripped back production of jabbed keys really selling that mournful atmosphere. Oh, Contessa! feels more like a drunken meander in both lyrics and production, for better or worse.

Bus Song is the first track that comes to mind when I think of this album. Not as bkeak as some of the other offerings here, instead a little emotional vignette of something as simple as missing a bus. Perhaps a little plain lyrically in comparison to some of the more poetic moments on this album, but still home to some beautiful imagey, I love the description of the sky as Blackening Blue. At any rate, the lyrics aren't the highlight here anyway, I just adore the total explosion in sound around the halfway mark as the melody comes in full force - it's like the Casio is being pushed to the redline and is only barely holding together.



The mages from this era are very lo-fi to boot.

From there we hit a little bit of a downturn, Yr Boyfriend feels almost a little immature in comparison, as the title hints at. Another short one, it definitely feels much more like a one take sketch than the tracks before. Which is odd to say given they're all made with that same methodology, but it sticks out s lot here, especially the way it just ends. Casiotone For The Painfully Alone In A Green Cotton Sweater too is a little immature - my impression from the lyrics is that it feels very teen-y, lamenting a summer fling and "No more rides on the handlebars, no more drive-ins in the backseat of your parent's car". Number Ten might be the most experimental of the bunch, but it creeps up on you - it follows the formula we're all used to at this point, but after the delivery of the final lines "Goodbye, Good Luck, Goodbye" we take a turn into the glitchy part of town for the final quarter. It works, but it doesn't half catch me by surpise every now and then.



Destroy The Evidence leads with a charming peak behind the curtain as we hear the Casio start up, then reset and start over again. It has the distinction of being the longest track on the album at 3 minutes and 42 seconds - it certainly makes use of it, after the last of the surprisingly dark at times lyrics, the final minute and a bit is dedicated to one long Casio noodling session. I can see the plasticy sounds being a turn off to some, granted it's not my favourite from the album but I like it well enough.



Lesley Gore On The T.A.M.I. Show offers a very slight change-up in sound, employing some almost string-like sounds while maintaining that artifical nature inherent to the Casio. Oh, Illinois! is the most upbeat track we've heard (or at least since Yr Boyfriend) - fittingly the lyrics read like a letter and have an interesting flow to them, slowing over time, culminating in the final pause on "And I don't... want to start... missing you again". Having an upbeat song with juxtaposed lyrics is a bit of a cliché, but I think this one skirts around that a little - it's an odd mix of ups and downs as our narrator flips between the negative and positive almost every other verse.



The Subway Home might immediately make me recant that though. In terms of lyrics its the most cliché of the bunch here, you can tell when the opening line is "It gets worse before it gets better". Filled with the usual content you'd expect - being broke, having unhealthy sleeping patterns and working crap retail jobs. I don't mean to be too negative mind you, we're in the tail stretch of the album by now for one, and secondly I imagine that the content wasn't *quite* as trite when it originally released in 2001. The endng synth jam on Subway Home is very nice too, big warbling keys that are almost warm to the touch.



Airport Samba brings things back around to the bittersweet - another short window into a moment, this time seeing somone off at the airport. It's concise, by now the formula is distilled, and this track achieves everything it sets out to in that short ~1 minute window. Not bad at all for what is in essence the final track - the final offering is a reprise of We Have Mice but even more lo-fi, extra tinny and with an alternate, almost mumbled vocal it makes the original feel like a fully mastered studio mix by comparison. A nice bonus and not a bad end to the album, but the original is still my favourite.



And that about wraps it up, been a long time since I've done one of these and I kind of dragged my feet a little by my own admission, but it's been fun to revisit. I did find it a little tricky to talk about this album in spots - the stripped down instrumentals make it a little difficult to pick out new elements the furhter in we got for one, and the length was a pretty big factor too as the whole thing clocks in at 34 minutes which is incredibly short for an album. Personally I fel in love with it hard, and I think to an extent that length works in its favor - if you're not a fan of the current track, just wait a minute and a new one will come along. It's readily available from CTFPA's bandcamp, bundled with his first album which also comes with some bonus tracks, if you've liked what you've heard here I'd definitely recommend the package. That about does it for today, I'll be back soon enough with more but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Monday, 19 June 2023

Pit Stop Hero

Mitch Murder is back at it again with another of his 'Fictional Soundtracks'. There's never a long gap between releases from Mitch but it has been a while since he's put one of these out. In an era where N64/PS1 nostalgia is king, especially the Drum & Bass side of things, I find it interesting that Mitch always goes a little more out there with his choices - there's a trio of Wii themed albums, but both this one and the first one I heard focus on the underdog of the console world in Sega - last time the Sega CD, this time the Saturn, rival to the PS1 and N64.

I'm not going to spend too much more time on the tech side of things, but one final thing I will say is it's very on brand for Mitch's work. It's safe to say he's nailed the vibe totally - the opening of the album immediately evoking Daytona USA with a bit crushed vocal sample shouting out the title. Laden with almost gratuitous electric guitar, it certainly feels like it should be blasting out of some really tinny arcade speakers over an attract mode video.

One downside to these 'soundtracks' is that all the tracks are fairly short - that's kind of understandable if you're emulating menu loops I suppose but can make it tricky to post like this. Select Course is one of the ones I knew I was going to put up upon hearing it though, keeping that trademark Mitch Murder sound while channelling that overall theme excellently - I can already see the low poly previews of the tracks spinning in my mind.



Mitch also gets to dip back into the vaporwave side of things a touch as well, again fitting given the style he's emulating here. Head Office has much more in common with the intentionally Vapor-as-hell Salary Man Simulator trilogy - All of which are on Bandcamp as well: One, Two - Corporate Retreat and Three - Remote Business. Coming out sounding like a hybrid of Japanese environmental music and soft jazz hold music, it's a great mid-point lull for the album that up until now had been full on arcade spectacle.



It's not long before we get back to that though, Victory Lap bringing a fittingly triumphant sound, loaded with the same MIDI guitar as the title track. Oddly enough it doesn't sound nearly as bombastically in yer face as the opening title, you can certainly hear the older-school Mitch sound on show here - I'm thinking Hollywood Heights style, which if it wasn't clear enough by now is something he excels at.



If I had one complaint other than the length, it'd be that the tracks feel a little... 80s? Kind of hard to pin down as I never owned a Saturn - but if it's emulating Daytona USA I can kind of understand as the arcade version of that is from the early 90's, perhaps we can head canon that this is a home port of Pit Stop Hero. That complaint goes by the wayside with End Titles which moves things forward in the decades a touch. Coming out a little more like the mellower sides of the Ridge Racer OSTs at the off, and taking things in a more house-y direction by the end. It would have been a perfect capstone IMO, but there's a little 40 second track to come after this one. A fun little release, it's pay what you want over on BC so you can scoop it for free if you'd like - it comes with some neat easter egg images in the .zip file as well!



Mitch has been moving away from Synthwavy kind of stuff recently, I can understand why, as I've mentioned a few times on here it's a genre that is a little oversaturated and can sometimes be a little stale - but I can't help but smile when Mitch drops something new, he's a real master of his craft. Saying that, his non-synthwave excursions have also been pretty special too, I might have to drop one or two of them here sometime soon. But that'll about wrap it up for today, I'll be back soon enough with more but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Friday, 9 June 2023

As is tradition

There's no shortage of tracks out there with dates attached - now, I'm not normally one for date-posting over here, but I usually make an exception for this one - It's not the only one the Boards Of Canada boys have either, but I like to shine a light on it around the date in question. Hailing from their early pre-Warp days on Skam records, it perhaps a little less known than their later works. Annoyingly, this also makes it very hard to post a legal stream of it.

Normally, I'd go for a hooky Soundcloud upload but I don't quite feel like it this time, so instead we're reverting back to the old tried and tested YT players. With a twist this time! The first video is from an old community video contest that was judged by the band themselves, which ended up coming second. The years passing (16 of them!) haven't been kind to it and it looks crunchy as all get out, but it makes a nice change from the usual cliché BoC fan-vid which leans heavily on the 70's nostalgia, but then again this track is quite different from your usual BoC affair as it is. It comes out looking a little more like the hi-tech Warp videos of old, think Chris Cunningham's video for Autechre's Second Bad Villbel.



Of course, I gotta follow that up with a newer upload, if only for the infinitely better audio quality. It was remastered/repressed in 2014 which in my head makes me think "oh that wasn't too long ago" before realising it's coming up on almost a decade ago... The rest of the Hi Scores EP is worth a spin, there's other bits on there that are more 'BoC' like in execution if the thundering tech of this one isn't for you.



And that'll about do it for today - I'll be back soon enough with more but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Sunday, 4 June 2023

Sealed with a kiss



Dropping by with a quick one for ya all - longtime readers might remember the name Magna - an alias of Jake Decoteau that he has since retired. I've posted about what he's up to these days, he's now making web 2.0 as hell things under the name Thorne which brings us to our tale today. About a week ago he posted a series of videos all to do with tracking down a 'mystery' house song', not entirely out of the realms of possibility, previous site owner Jordan would occasionally put out requests for rare tunes back in the day after all.

If you watch the other videos it's actually pretty impressive, leading to a found discogs page where it just so happens that there is one solitary copy available for sale. If you haven't cottoned on by now, the videos are actually an elaborate announcement countdown - with the final video revealing that it's actually a new release from a duo consisting of Jake himself and Owen Hobson.

And what a release it is - as you might have guessed already from that initial video linked above that specifically namedropped Stardust, this is a love letter to that specific kind late 90's house sound - you know the kind, it's gone by many names over the years and about as many revivals. I don't mean that to sound too negative mind you, it should be obvious to anyone reading that I have a massive place in my heart for that style, the blog was practically founded on it and I wouldn't have discovered it (and of course end up here now) if it weren't for it. Per the bandcamp description, the two are trying to recapture "that summer heat from the mid-2000s", which I think they've done admirably (at least for those in the northern hemisphere who are entering Summer that is!) I think it's a good time to drop something like this, after a bleak couple of years, I think we could all do to cut loose to some throwback house.



There's only one thing that I do hope, and that's that this duo doesn't end up too closely emulating that era of house and only putting out one release! Rest assured I'll be keeping tabs on any future developments out of that camp, and you'll hear as soon as I do. That'll be all for today, I'll be back soon enough with more but until next time - as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Sunday, 21 May 2023

Of Cults and Crystals

For the first time in a long while, I picked something up from Bandcamp when it wasn't a Friday. I should do that more often really, the main reason I don't is I normally get side-tracked until the Friday reminds me to pick up some records. But I digress, label Creme Organization was offering a 40% discount code, so I went digital crate digging once again.

Legowelt was the one on my radar this time, like so many artists I have a smattering of tracks from compilations that marked their first appearance in my collection. I had a couple of freebie albums that Legowelt had put out, but I figured it was high time I dive in. Crystal Cult 2080 has been in my wishlist for a while, one of those albums where I heard the opening track and said to myself "oh, I'm saving this one for later!" And then the list inevitably grows and it gets a little lost. Saying that, I do like it in cases like this where I come back to the album, and my feelings towards the first tracks are still the same.

We have to talk about the elephant in the room first of all, the obvious occult trappings. There's something I find charmingly humorous about the album art - the image of a robed wizardly figure just going to town on some synths is brilliant. It doesn't reflect too much on the tracks content bar a few vocal samples, but I think that's OK, it can be easy to overdo something like that. Of course, if you're after something that taps into that a little more - electronic music and the occult have a long history that could be a post all on its own: Mort Garson's self described electronic impressions under the Ataraxia moniker, to the modern resurgence of fantasy synthwave dubbed 'dungeon synth' to name but two.

But let's get into the album itself, starting with that first track I've mentioned a few times already, Experiential Awakening. You will know from the get go if the album is for you, as an opening Awakening does an excellent job of setting the stage. From its 8:08 runtime, the combination of hypnotic backing and that deliciously thick bassline and of course, those previously mentioned occult-y vocal samples, it weaves the forms that will make up the rest of the LP.



Track 2 lays it on even thicker, sporting the title Ancient Rites Demoni Mundi. While that intro had me enticed from the get go - I was a little on the fence about it for a while. The backbone being the suitably hazy descending melody which can get a little tiresome, but that's mitigated by the action happening in the background again that keeps things interesting. Not meaning to come off so negative mind, I've come to love parts of it in time - the little breaks that introduce lovely analogue elements starting around the half way mark are lovely, and there is some fantastic synth noodling in the last quarter too.



The techy titled Excalibur R8MK2 starts off a lot more intense than anything so far, but it soon settles into that same hypnotic groove, the shorter runtime once again helping it stay a little fresher. Infused with that high tech sound I love so much, this one has been a mainstay since I picked it up, I find the "Drink from the chalice" line creeping into my head disturbingly often. There are times where the album feels like a 'best of' from an extended jam session, definitely thematically appropriate given the aesthetic surroundings - that's something I've also found with Legowelt's Teac Life, though Crystal Cult feels tighter overall (and also clocks in at about half the length of the extended Teac Life too, which no doubt helps).



The album's opening quarter is where it's strongest for me, which is why I've gone for the opening 1-2-3, but there is plenty more to get stuck into if you like this little slice. It's been a little odd to explore this side of Legowelt, my previous exposure being Disco Rout from the Tangent 2002: Disco Nouveau compilation (which I adore, being the electroclash fiend that I am) - but in fact, coming back to that track after spending some time with the Cult, it's not a million miles removed. I'll have to see about looking into Legowelt's older works at some point and see if that rings true across the board. That'll about do it for today, I'll be back around soon enough with more but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Sunday, 7 May 2023

Bandcamp Friday - May

Reporting in with this month's offerings. I thought it was going to be a little thin on the ground as I didn't have much lined up, but I managed to get some done in time. In a surprise twist, it also features a fair amount of new releases too! Let's take a look.

Kicking things off with some DMX Krew - Ed from DMX pretty consistently drops New releases to the point where it can be tricky to keep up. I heard the first track from Return To Jupiter when it was up for pre-orders and I knew then I'd get my hands on it soon enough. This is Ed's second release on Peggy Gou's Gudu Records, the first being the equally nice Don't You Wanna Play? EP. It seems to be that when DMX makes stuff for this label he switches focus to pure instrumental, there's no cheeky playful vocal as seen on some other DMX releases here. The title track is the one that sold me - it very clearly takes heavy inspiration from Underground Resistance, especially the Galaxy 2 Galaxy material. The end result is this fine slice of retro-futuristic techno, bouncy and airy, it's a lot of fun to listen to.



Next up is Yaga, yet another artist that until now I'd only really had bits and pieces from scattered across miscellaneous compilations. My experience up until this point was mainly bits from Rhythm Of Snow - all pretty minimal, at the border of my taste in the genre, anything further is a bit too minimal for me. I don't remember exactly how Faded Photographs came onto my radar, but I do remember being entranced by the one preview track at the time No Matter What.

Now, having spent a fair bit of time with the whole album, I can happily confirm the rest is very much in the same vein. I've seen a lot of discussion from fans of Yagya saying that this vocal-oriented shift he's taken isn't for them, but I quite like it, granted it is my first real experience with it beyond his older works.

It's an album that is pretty antithetical to my listening habits, my usual MO is a set of speakers and my entire collection on shuffle all at once. Faded Photographs by comparison is a much more intimate experience, one that benefits greatly from immersing yourself completely in it. I was a little on the fence about it until I threw on a set of headphones and listened to it front-to-back, it all flows together in a lovely way.

That said, there are still tracks that stand alone, my favourite still being No Matter What, but I'm really liking the whole thing, you can spend a lot of time picking out the delicacies on repeat listens and I just adore the moments of melodic vocal flourishes. It can end up sounding a little same-y in parts, but I'd definitely give it a spin if you're in the mood for some quieter, introspective listening.



Third is a compilation I'd had my eyes on for a while, one I'd assumed wouldn't be available digitally due to the label, Musik Aus Strom, being defunct. Turns out it was revived in 2022 by one of the founders and has almost all its back catalogue available, with more planned to come!

The compilation in question, the punnily titled MAS Confusion is a goldmine of lesser known IDM vendors and if you're a fan of then sound, especially around the early 00's when this compilation released then it is certainly worth checking out. There are some early highlights: the opening track from Metamatics that I've talked about before is beautiful, and Adamn Johnson's tracks are almost perfect encapsulations of what makes the 'IDM' sound. My choice for today though is Xela's Streetlevel, a lovely bit crushed nostalgia trip that also embodies all things IDM. Xela has a pretty extensive list of releases too, if you like this one I highly recommend For Frosty Mornings And Summer Nights for more in the same style (in addition to the rest of this compilation of course!)



Finally, a last minute addition in Sachi Kobayashi. It's been a little while since I picked up any ambient, so I went looking through my past purchases to check up on some artists. I'd only had a couple EPs from Sachi Kobayashi, but I very much liked them all - turns out there'd been plenty of releases between mow and the last time I checked in so I was a little spoilt for choice. I went one up from where I last checked in, Weathervane, a release inspired by the surviving Weathervane after the Notre Dame fire. For me, Kobayashi is at her best on tracks like Symbol, very roomy soundscapes with a hint of melody carrying throughout. A lovely closer to the experience, Weathervane is an ideal jumping in point for Kobayashi's work and it is currently 'name your price' over on Bandcamp, so there is no price barrier to entry if you enjoy it.



And that'll be all for today, so much for 'thin on the ground' after all eh? Part of me is considering doing a full review of the Yagya LP, but I also put most of my thoughts into this post here (hence the length!). At any rate, I hope you've found something to pique your interest here in this slightly eclectic selection. I'll drop by again with more in due time but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Monday, 1 May 2023

Bibio-graphy

I talk a lot on here about the importance of archiving (and further to that, accessibility), it's something I feel very strongly about if it wasn't clear enough already. There's plenty of artists out there making an effort to preserve bits and pieces in some form or another, and this time we're going to take a look at some of these offerings from Bibio.



You might know Bibio from his works with Warp Records - 2009's Ambivalence Avenue no doubt comes to mind, a fantastic introduction to Bibio, chock full of hip-hop jams and folky infusions. Bibio had been hard at work before then though, releasing a steady string of albums until that point.

Unlike some of his Warp cohort, Bibio doesn't have a million and one aliases with different releases and seems to have settled on the name very quickly. Or at least, it seems that way - but tucked away on his Soundcloud are some self-proclaimed jams under the (somewhat unfortunate these days) 'Duckula' moniker.

They hail from 2007 - the period between Hand Cranked and Ambivalence Avenue, which is audibly apparent. These tracks would feel right at home next to some of the tracks on the latter, particularly the Jazzy, [adult swim] bump style beat that is on Take Time. It's not readily obvious why these tracks went unreleased, this one in particular feels very complete, much more than a simple sketch or a cool sounding idea that didn't pan out. Though if he's anything like me, it's could just be one of many that just happened to slip through the cracks.



Mine You Are fits that bill (no pun intended) a little more, way shorter and it certainly feels much more like some fooling around with a sample than the above. It still would have fit in with a little tweaking, some of the tracks on Ambivalence Avenue have distinctly separate outros for example. Not a complaint though, it certainly is a neat sounding jam, and I'm happy we at least got to hear it in some form.



I do always appreciate a little peek behind the curtain like this, it's always fun when an artist shines a little light on their process after all. At the same time, as someone in the creative world, I admire them for doing so in the first place - I imagine there's a pressure to only put out the super polished final pieces. I know in my case there are plenty of old, unfinished works that will never see the light of day, but maybe one day I'll resurrect something kind of cool I was playing with but didn't pan out, much like Bibio has done here.

I'll be back soon enough with more but until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Sunday, 16 April 2023

Delicate

Wayne Thiebaud - Reservoir (1999)


Bit of a quick one for now as I was feelin' a little inspired. I'm back on my usual again - I've always had a leaning toward the ambient side of things, something you'll well know if you've been around here long enough. Today I figured I'd shine a light on some favourites old and new from the collection. Starting off with some Hiroshi Yoshimura, whose works are a distilled version of what I love about this kind of music. His work has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance recently due to the internet - reaching people it otherwise wouldn't have done decades after the original release. I've gone with yet another piece from Music For Nine Post Cards this time, it's thankfully readily accessible thanks to a repress and digital re-release. I would say Nine Post Cards is absolutely essential if you are at all interested in Ambient Music - it is fantastic throughout but I fall in love all over again from the opening bars of this one right here.



Moving away from pure ambient for the next one, I posted one track from the enigmatic Astral Engineering a while back and here we are again. Living more in that ambient techno sphere, the needle is sometimes firmly in one area, sometimes in another. Singularity is more ambient than techno to begin with, but sways that way over time with some suitably hi-tech arpeggios in the latter half. It's very much of-its-era in terms of sound, sound a little bit like an off cut from Alter Ego's debut from 1994, though this track originally appeared on this compilation from 1999, so it's a little out of time in that regard. Still, it's a lovely hypnotic listen, the ending is a little abrupt but that's because all the tracks on this album are meant to be played sequentially. It's a free download over on Bandcamp so definitely worth it if you like what's on show here.



And finally, I couldn't write a post like this without mentioning Boards Of Canada. Feels like it's been forever since I mentioned them, there are any number of tracks from their catalogue that could go here, but I had one specific in mind when writing this up. The original Olson from Music Has The Right To Children ranks among my favourite ambient pieces of all time, but I've talked at length about it many times over the years. In it's stead I've gone with the version from the Peel Session EP they put out - helpfully re-issued a few years ago by Warp. It extends the original by about double, and somehow manages to lay on the analogue warmth even thicker. It is wonderful, and compliments the original brilliantly - neither is 'better', they're more like different shades of the same colour, there are times when one will feel more apt than the other.



And that'll be all for today. I feel like it's been a good while since I went all in on the ambient side of things, I was hoping to swing it more in a techno direction with the Astral Engineering track, but I'm still happy with what's on show here - I hope you've found some things to enjoy here. As usual, I'll be back soon enough with more but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Saturday, 8 April 2023

Bandcamp Friday - April

It's that time again, and I'm actually on time this time! Bringing me down to only 1 month outstanding (which I'll get to in due time). Felt a little lighter this Friday, I had a couple of things lined up I knew I was going to get, but there were a couple of curveballs along the way and it fast became a little too much. So I settled for some smaller selections instead - wasn't a waste though as those other choices will no doubt come up again. Let's get stuck in.



Leading off we have Goldie's rebuild of his classic Inner City Life, part of the trio that forms the title track on his debut album Timeless. It's not too altered from the original but frankly it didn't need changing at all, and its thematically appropriate as well as this re-release is dedicated to Diane Charlemagne, the iconic voice behind the track. Inner City Life was always my favourite piece of the Timeless parts, so I will admit some slight bias there, but this version is very nice regardless. The Burial remix on the B-side is fine as well, it's not his finest work for me and predictably contains very little of the original. Not to rag on it too much though, there are some lovely moments in there, especially in the last quarter or so. It's fairly inexpensive as well, clocking in at £1 a track, I've found most of Metalheadz's library is very reasonably priced.



Keeping it Goldie for the time being, I picked up a copy of Sine Tempus again. I had a hooky one some years back but I'd lost a lot of the tracks over time, and it was a naff VBR rip if I remember right. It's been a long time since I talked about Sine Tempus actually, it has a bit of a tale behind it. In the early 00's Goldie announced he was working on a film - a coming of age story about an artist - which is no doubt semi-autobiographical if you know the man's history. The film has yet to materialise, but in 08/09 Goldie would release an album of the same name, billed as the soundtrack to the film. It certainly is very cinematic in parts, sometimes to its detriment, but there are also plenty of highlights - the opening track Letting Go has stuck with me through all this time, you can definitely hear that cinematic influence on the extended intro that sets up this foreboding atmosphere. It's soon pierced by Jenna G's signature vocals, coming to a peak around the 2:15 mark when the D*B kicks off in full force.



Moving into more IDM territory next, I've become a fast fan of Reporter, as mentioned a couple times in the past BC Posts. The brand of almost-IDM on show here is very much up my alley, as you no doubt know if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time. Opening track How Much More To Take fits that bill in a nutshell, this lovely combination of high-tech vibes and this fragile melody will always get top marks from me. That deceptively deep bassline is a lovely bonus to boot. There's not a ton of Reporter releases out there, but I have very much enjoyed my time with all of them. In a nice turn of serendipity, I found this wordpress through my research, detailing the work he's done in the past which as it turns out is a ton of audio work on some of my favourite bits of media.



I did end up picking up some non-electronic stuff, and this next one I didn't actually get *from* bandcamp but the artist's own website, but I'd stil say it counts. Some years ago now I talked at length about the weird, wild, wired world of music made by fans of Serial Experiments Lain, through both unofficial and official channels they've been making related works for many years now. Well, they've not let up in the interim - the man behind some of the original series' OST, Chikada "J.J" Wasei, has been putting on real life live events and releasing new entries in the Cyberia series (named for the club in the show) since 2018 or so, his latest being in December last year. After the release of Layer 3, Wasei teamed up with fans across the world to release a companion album fittingly titled After Hours. Covering a whole host of genres from the expected Techno to Synthwave and full on ambient in parts. It's a great way for Wasei to repay the community and shine a light on some indie artists in the process. I have a full extended Cyberia post cooking up in the background, but for now have the bouncy Replicant Funk to tide you over.



And that'll be all for today, I've been busy behind the scenes republishing old posts and I hope to get another post out soon-ish. I hope you've found something to enjoy here today in this admittedly eclectic selection! I'll be back soon enough with more but until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

Monday, 3 April 2023

Sweet R&R

I've got a chunk of time off as of today, so I'm going to use that time to catch up on so many things I've been behind on, starting here. It's only gonna be a short one to kick things off, but I'm planning to write a whole bunch over the next few days so I can just schedule them out over a longer peroid. But enough of that, let's get into today's tune.

And what better way to kick things off than with a bit of Underworld. They've been in the game a long long time and to my discredit I haven't mentioned them too much over my tenure here - so many iconic tracks to their name, least of which the timelessly euphoric Born Slippy. They gave out a free copy of this version of Two Months Off some time back, and it never fails to entice me with its hypnotic rythms. I've included the soundcloud streamer and a video for 2 reasons: 1) it's one of those tracks locked behind the premium soundcloud, so this way you can hear the full one either way and 2) you have to see the live performance. I loved this era of Underworld because of how understated it is, beyond the lighting setup it is in essence just two blokes and some gear, but you have to see how much fun they're having with it.





Stay tuned for more to come but until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.

-CVF

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.

-CVF

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.

-CVF

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.

-CVF

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.

-CVF