Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Herbaliser - Same As It Never Was (Studio !K7)

So what exactly prompted The Herbaliser to release Same As It Never Was on the infamous Studio !K7? After all, their deep discography is tied almost exclusively to Ninja Tune [if anyone knows the answer, drop me a line]. Since 1995, Ollie Teeba and Jake Wherry have released five studio albums and two live mixes on Fabric (see my previous review of Fabric.26), not to mention a dozen singles, appearances and remixes. The group has also grown from an original duo into a full 5-piece band - you have to check out the amazing Session One album (Department H., 2000). Same As It Never Was indeed sounds a bit more funky, as the group is attempting to trace the hip-hop roots and bring back the elements of jazz, r&b, and soul. This time they are also joined by the London based "22-year soul diva" Jessica Darling - who lays her lovely voice so smoothly over the grooves - really brings back the fun of the 70s. The track Can't Help This Feeling will validate any doubts. NYC based Jean Grae (aka What? What?) returns with an excellent track, Street Karma (A Cautionary Tale) previously collaborating with The Herbaliser on Take London (Ninja Tune, 2005). Revitalizing the genre, The Herbaliser sparks a wave of nu-soul, if you will, across the continent. It would be a pleasure to watch them live. My typical artist cloud for The Herbaliser would include DJ Food, The Cinematic Orchestra, Funki Porcini, DJ Krush and Up, Bustle and Out. | |

Nostalgia 77 - Everything Under The Sun (Tru Thoughts / Ubiquity)

Listening to Birghton (UK) based Benedic Lamdin's solo project under Nostalgia 77 alias I am reminded once again of his light, playful, and jazzy compositions. The last album I recall hearing was Songs For my Funeral, which I remember being more downtempo with a sprinkle of breaks bordering future jazz. One of those great tracks to compliment a chillout compilation (as a matter of fact, there was a double disk comp, Chilled Beats Sessions, where Nostalgia 77 appeared alongside Skalpel, The Cinematic Orchestra, Bonobo, Blockhead, Daedelus, Plaid, Boards of Canada, Prefuse 73 and many, many others [Sessions, 2005] ). Then there is, of course, The Nostalgia 77 Octet with a great Weapons Of Jazz Destruction release on Tru Thoughts last year. The latter deserves a separate review, but I'll briefly mention that the octet is formed from the Royal Academy of Jazz graduates and NYJO Alumni. For his sixth full length album (including the afore mentioned live project), Lamdin gathers his group of talented jazz musicians to walk up and down the modal scale with ease. Lizzy Parks returns with her lovely voice adding a perfect element to an already wonderful selection of songs. "I wanted to continue developing the ideas I've explored in the other records, to take the emotional moods that are there and to vocalize them. I wanted to write lyrics that reflected them," says Lamden. I personally applaud and enjoy following the artists that continue to not only reinvent themselves, but perfect their musical composition. It seems that many musicians, after consecutive successful releases want something more and end up turning to the roots of live, improvisational, or organic sound - I'm thinking here of The Herbaliser, The Landau Orchestra, and even Amon Tobin. The 2008 double-disk compilation of Nostalgia 77's One Offs, Remixes & B-Sides is a must for any serious catalog collector. | |

Saturday, June 28, 2008

William Basinski and Richard Chartier - Untitled 1-3 (LINE)

LINE is a label of another breed and dimension. Created by Richard Chartier in 2000 under the 12k umbrella, LINE publishes experimental and abstract installation compositions by sound artists exploring contemporary digital minimalism. LINE has a nice roster of signal processing and deconstructing composers, including Alva Noto, Taylor Deupree, Vend and Asmus Tietchens. For the latest limited 2008 release, LINE has re-issued a 2004 acclaimed work by Richard Chartier and William Basinski, Untitled 1-3, first appearing on Japanese label Spekk. The two original Untitled tracks are remastered by Taylor Deupree and complimented by two new works - Untitled 3 and its Reprise. The initial edition of 1300 remained on the market for only two months before completely selling out. Basinski has been working on experimental soundscapes for over twenty five years. His installations and collaborations with filmmaker, James Elaine, have received international exposure and acclaim. Chartier has been producing experimental and minimal work that "explores the inter-relationships between the spatial nature of sound, silence, focus, and the act of listening." His sound works reached international exhibits and digital art/music festivals. Both musicians have appeared on Olaf Bender and Carsten Nicolai's hailed German label, Raster-Noton. In this aural documentary of another planet's lifeform, Basinski incorporates tape loops and elements from an eight voice polyphonic analog synthesizer from 1982, Voyetra-8. Chartier adds thick slabs of frequencies with elements from various sound installations. The piece is dark, haunting, and brooding, with alien feathered beings chirping in the background. Although the ambiance of composition is everlasting, the feeling of uneasiness remains with you well after you've downloaded these instructions into your brain. Untitled 2, at 35 minutes alone, is your guide for examining the album's abstract expressionist artwork by Chartier himself. Bring this album with you while visiting your local contemporary museum, select a dark, minimal, and abstract piece, and dissolve for a half an hour into the essence of being. You will find it... there...

Read FULL Two and a Half Questions With Richard Chartier only on Headphone Commute. | |

Two and a Half Questions with Richard Chartier

Untitled 1-3 is a dark album, would you agree? What are the images that the soundscapes paint for you when you close your eyes?
i think the "untitled1" is a bit dark but not necessarily the rest of the works. william described the first piece as very evocative of dark sky with swirling birds. i think that piece at the same time has moments of brightness.

What is the current state of digital minimalism as an art form?
oh i am not sure i can make any statements about that. i can say i hear less and less that i enjoy. there is a lot of minimalism for minimalism's sake that feels lacking in depth. : )

How has the exposure to sound installations (as opposed to producing albums) has influenced your creativity and composition?
i see installation versus composition very different processes and end products. the works i do for installation often do not have a set ending and are made of shifting loops that change over time. composing is far different structurally.

Read FULL Two and a Half Questions With Richard Chartier only on Headphone Commute. |

Friday, June 27, 2008

Peter Broderick - Float (Type)

Perhaps it's possible to stop comparing some contemporary classical musicians to Max Richter, and instead begin comparing them to Peter Broderick. After a release of a 7" single on John Twells' (Xela) Type Records, Portland based Peter Broderick emerges with a full length album, Float. For this release, Broderick borrows his friends Amanda Lawrence for string and vocal work, and Skyler Norwood to aid in recording and effects from a collaboration on Loch Lomond's Paper The Walls (Hush Records, 2007). Float is immediately bold, familiar, and elegant. As any soundtrack written for a passing life, it transcends its message past the minor key. At first the album sounds too comfortable, like a soft blanket thrown over the frigid winter feet. I feel as if I've heard this sound before, perhaps in a forgotten film, or as a fragment of a beloved prelude. But as I let my mind break down the composition, the messages begin to emerge. I'll let you hear your own details - I'd hate to lock the music into words. Broderick's banjo playing adds an interesting element to the ensemble of the [usual] piano, strings and an occasional guitar. And I can't help but draw a parallel between the ages of Broderick and Ólafur Arnalds - both are only twenty one! With that said, may I claim that modern classical is at the beginnings of a new cycle, with young multi-instrumentalists incorporating both, organic and electronic, leading the way. Highly recommended! A cozy cinematic score. Check out above mention artists plus Harold Budd, Michael Nyman, Alberto Iglesias, Clint Mansell and of course Jóhann Jóhannsson. |

Two and a Half Questions with Peter Broderick

What is your musical background?
I started classical violin training at age 7, and played in various youth orchestras, then in my early teenage years I lost interest in the violin and started playing electric guitar in rock bands. Around 15-16 I realized again how beautiful the violin actually is, and picked it up again. At this time I also became interested in all kinds of instruments, and started collected them and trying to teach them to myself. For a while there it seemed like I was somehow getting a new instrument every week! I would go to friend's houses and search through their attics and say "Can I have this?"

Who are your favorite classical composers?
Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, Rachel Grimes, Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Steve Reich...

Any hints as pertaining to the title of the album?
I think since it's just one simple word, there are many ways to look at it. Hopefully.

I feel that the gap between modern classical, ambient and electronic is slowly closing as led by a new generation. What do you picture the future of contemporary classical music to be?
I think I agree. I consider people like Max Richter to be wonderful classical composers, even though you'd probably more likely find his music in the electronica section, or even rock/pop at some stores...

How is the weather in Portland?
The Spring and Autumn are perfect -- crisp air and mild temperatures. Sometimes the winter gets just a little too cold, and sometimes the summer gets just a little too hot. Some people complain about the amount of rain there, but I like it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hecq - Night Falls (Hymen)

As I turn my attention from ethereal to dark ambient, it is only appropriate that I cover the latest album from one of my all time favorite artists, Hecq. Last year, I already hailed Ben Lukas Boysen's double disk release, titled 0000, as one of the Best of 2007 albums. It perfectly aligned along my favorite elements of grandiose orchestral sound and punctuated IDM beats. Upon my first listen of Hecq's fifth album, I anxiously await the glitchy breaks that are so prominent in Hecq's previous albums. Alas they never come. And with this proclamation, Boysen creates a new sound in which he instantly excels. Appropriately titled, Night Falls, Boysen drops the rhythmic structure altogether, and produces one of the most inspiring, lush, atmospheric and hauntingly dark pieces I have heard to date. There is a continuous cinematic tension of something hiding right beneath the shadow of a thinly layered sonic veil. Night Falls is an album that stops you dead in your tracks to really listen. What is that brooding sound, and does it have a name? I will not hide the fact, that with each swell of dynamic wave, the emotion within me rises as well, and I fight back the tears at the tip of each crescendo. With outstanding production and masterful control of individual frequencies, Hecq propels his sound techniques from a mere post-industrial IDM producer to a contemporary neo-classical composer. Hymen should be proud. Reminiscent of Murcof, Lusine Icl, Kattoo, Nebulo and Subheim. | |

Two and a Half Questions with Hecq

What inspired you to compose Night, such a grandiose instrumental piece?
even if this might sound like a quote from a b-movie but actually the experience that's nothing's eternal. things just not made to last... which is a thought i had to get used to over several years actually :) putting that vulnerability into an album was something i needed to do last year. it was created in 2-3 weeks actually... it was kind of phase i was in and where all pieces came together by themselves more or less - that again was proof to me that you can't force ideas really - that's why i haven't released an album in 2006...

Is there a story behind this [imaginary] soundtrack?
yeah...actually the story behind it are the reasons in the first answer but to be more precise: the loss of things and persons you wanted to keep, gaining clarity and how these things make you grow. i don't want this to sounds acroamatic really - i guess everyone knows that these experiences happen to us on almost a daily basis but we tend to mask them out (at least i do) so i have to channel these things into something else which helps me to reflect better and focused... It's not always like that though... sometimes i just love to get mental on plug ins :D3.

This is quiet a departure from the "usual" Hecq. How do you personally feel about it, and do you think you'll produce more?
yes it is - i feel that it was a need excursion from the previous work but it wont be the general style from now on. quite the opposite even - the 6th album (which i'm producing these days) will be pretty different from night falls...or better: night falls was the different album - as i'm inspired and motivated by many other things as well, nr.6 will be showing more and different approaches to music.

Do you have a desire for scoring films?
yes i have indeed! the sound design works are being a good outlet for this desire but i haven't had the chance to score an entire film yet - but i promise that this will happen very soon... its in the air :D |

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Drift - Memory Drawings (Temporary Residence Ltd.)

It's almost half way through the year, and suddenly I realize that I haven't listened to any post-rock released in 2008. So, I hit up one of my favorite labels, Temporary Residence Limited, a Brooklyn based source of great artists like Eluvium, Explosions In The Sky, Tarentel, Grails, and of course, Mono... and what's this? A new album from The Drift, that somehow slipped past me. The Drift is a four-piece instrumental band from San Francisco, originally created as a Lazarus and Tarentel side project, which by now evolved into a strong group of its own. Memory Drawings is The Drift's second full length release, following on the heels of an album compiling their previous three EPs, Ceiling Sky, released in November of 2007. Danny Grody from Tarentel literally synergies with the amazing trumpet work by Jeff Jacobs [the first time I heard trumpet blending perfectly with post-rock was on The Pirate Ship Quintet's self titled EP]. The drums and the upright bass more than compliment the intricate phrases and melodies which were recorded directly onto analog tape. The jazz influences are lurking just behind the curtains of the post-rock driven motif, and the tracks on Memory Drawings do not tire out the listener with any previously used and abused formula. Each piece on an album tells its very own story - changing rhythms, tempo, dynamics, and the tone as it evolves into a little cinematic fragment of memory, never forgotten since never was drawn. Yet another step forward for post-rock. Recommended if you enjoy Tortoise, Do Make Say Think and early Tarentel. |

Two and a Half Questions with The Drift

I have to ask - who are your current favorite artists and influences?
well the list is long and varied when it comes to influences, but if if we had to distill it down it would have to be something like: the necks, fela kuti, miles davis, fugazi, konono no. 1, ryhs chatham, cymande, dub of all kinds, SF, traveling, food, and most of all our friends and loved ones making art and music.

Any good stories from your tour across Europe?
well the tour was a good story in it of itself, but some stand out's would be playing the all tomorrow's parties festival that our friends explosions in the sky curated, being amongst many friends there - mono, eluvium, lazarus. it was a family event. our shows in poland we're outstanding (!)... the warmth from the people and generosity from our hosts was just incredible all-around. playing in a veranda in Esslingen Germany was surreal. having our friend cj boyd as a travel companion was also a real treat for us.

What's next in store for the band?
we've got a few exciting festival's in the works... LOLA Festival in London Ontario this September, the SF based annual Mission Creek Music Festival in July, and the Tanned Tin festival in Castellion Spain in November. we'll also be working on a string of us dates in the fall so keep your eyes peeled! |

Sunday, June 22, 2008

DJ Walkman - Milk Und Herring (Sutemos)

Sutemos is a Lithuanian net label releasing free music from an eclectic collective of artists since 2004. The most notable of the releases is a series titled Intelligent Toys which spearheads the electronic music scene with underground highlights from Vladislav Delay, Near The Parenthesis, Esem, Sleepy Town Manufacture, Machine Drum, Praveen, Funckarma, Quench and Sense just to run through of a few names from the last, fourth volume. This time around, the founder of the Sutemos label, who goes by the name of DJ Walkman, has released a mix, titled Milk Und Herring. When I pick up a DJ mix, I look not only for the flow of tracks, but also the selection - the most important aspect. I could care less how perfect your beat-matching and transitions are, if the tracks were clearly chosen only to compliment the mix. DJ Walkman demonstrates that it is possible to skillfully accomplish both. The tracks on this excellent compilation range in genres and span over a decade of releases, collecting some of my favorite releases of all times. The first three tracks are from Burial, Coldcut, and Thom Yorke. And that's just a start. DJ Walkman effortlessly queues up Photek, followed by Radiohead, Squarepusher and Underworld, creating extra long mixes [exactly how I like it]. Then we move into Plaid, Speedy J, and Nautilis. By the time Plastikman, Poligon Window and the Surgeon come on, you begin to understand what the meaning behind the title is, and how this stylistic variety can be consumed in one sitting, of mixing such diverse ingredients like milk and herring. You know you want to hear it! Especially because it's FREE! Download directly from the Sutemos site. |

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I Monster - Neveroddoreven (Karma/Dharma)

Thanks to my DVR, I never watch commercials these days. But there was this one ad, from AT&T, which got me to hit pause. It displayed flowers opening up, containing the cell phones inside. But it was also the music that stopped me. After the second time I saw the ad, I jumped on Google and sure enough, the first hit was people asking "what's that song on that commercial..." [I used the lyrics as keywords]. I've never heard of I Monster before, and after previewing a couple of tracks I just threw the whole album into the shopping cart. I was truly surprised to enjoy the entire album. It is now on its sixth rotation, and thus, deserves a write up. I Monster is a British group creating fresh, fun and bouncy trip-hop with very catchy samples and melodies. The two members are Sheffield based Jarrod Gosling and Dean Honer. Honer is also a member of All Seeing I and worked on some Add N To (X) albums. Together with Barry Smith (aka Barry 7), Honer founded a label, Cercle Records, on which the original 7" vinyl single of Daydream In Blue was released. In 1998 the duo has released their debut album, These Are Our Children. The track that got me all hyped up after hearing it only twice, Daydream In Blue, climbed the charts as a single, and soon after, the second album, Neveroddoreven, was released by Instant Karma and its sublabel, Dharma Records. [In 2004, Neveroddoreven, was also released on Atlantic]. I caught up with I Monster to get the spiel on their upcoming album. Here is the 411 - it is finished, no title or release date yet, a 7" vinyl single of a track titled A Sucker For Your Sound is coming up. Meanwhile you can preview the song on their myspazz. I seriously can't stop listening to this. Recommended if you like Moloko, Lovage, Portishead, Lemon Jelly, and Télépopmusik. |

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Renfro - Mathematics (Meltwater)

The recipe for Renfro requires a variety of carefully scavenged ingredients. Locate field recordings of wild animals and sonic atmospheres. Add fragments of material ranging from NASA feeds of deep space to burning credit cards. Mix in some static, glitch, and a pinch of distortion. Now slowly fold in a melancholic melody and Tim Branney's hushed falsetto voice as he sings intricate lyrics over Atom-James Draper's electro-acoustic manipulations. That's Renfro, "meld[ing] experimental electronic musical techniques with dream-pop songwriting", and doing a damn good job at it too. I'm not big on vocals (haven't I said that before?), (I think it's something to do with constrained concepts), (or perhaps the forced structure of a 'song'), but Renfro breaks out of boxed rules and layers voice as another instrument over ambient soundscapes and light percussion fused from cliky flippity-flop bleep lo-fi pops. The duo formed in late 2005, and is based in East London and North Devon, where they have been playing with microphones and "poetics of isolation, difference and collapse". Along with the release of Mathematics, Meltwater Records will also promote with two remix EPs with contributions from Marsen Jules, Porn Sword Tobacco, AGF/Loeb and Christian Fennesz [that alone should excite your appetite!]. The instrumental sound is reminding me of Xela, Skyphone, Julien Neto, and Swod. Like Thom Yorke singing over William Basinski with dying circuits driving the beat. Favorite track: Half-Life Of Happiness. |

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nautilis - Are You An Axolotl (Planet Mu)

One day in a record shop, I saw a Planet Mu logo on a record with incomprehensible green reflection. Being a fan of pretty much everything Mike Paradinas puts out on his label, I grabbed the vinyl as one of those random finds. Back at home I played the record over and over. I was struck by its ingenuity of combining instrumental hip hop beats with jazzy breaks and glitchy elements of IDM. But it was the melodies and the intelligent micro rhythms that kept on ringing long after in my ears. Skyler McGlothlin's fun and confident approach to creating his first LP, Are You An Axolotl, is still refreshing and exciting to listen six years later [and not just once in a while]. Based out of Texas, McGlothlin followed up his critically acclaimed debut with a second full length, Sketches. In 2005, however, McGlothlin moved to Florida based Merck (RIP, sigh...), and produced more downtempo and instrumental hip hop, under Malcom Kipe alias. The two quick releases were Breakspiracy Theories and Lit. I thoroughly enjoyed both, but must admit that I dig his Nautilis sound a lot more. It's a bit tighter, DSP-driven, production that continuous to unravel new elements within each listen. Since Lit, however, McGlothlin has been silent. I attempt to catch up with Skyler to see what he's been up to, and if we'll hear from him again. And in case you were wondering, yes... I am ... actually... an axolotl. |

Two and a Half Questions with Skyler McGlothlin

You've been quiet lately. Not including the mini limited EP on Cactus Island Recordings, "Stonch", what have you been working on?
Shapes Have Fangs.. My laptop was stolen in 2006 and this inspired me to quit making beats for a while. Since then I've been focusing all my time on our band Shapes Have Fangs.

Who do you like more, Nautilis or Malcom Kipe; and more importantly, why?
Nautilis, because it is a collection of information that originated from 5th dimensional information sound waves that were retrieved by pleiadian spirit crystals given to me by Billy Meier.

What are your feelings on your earlier work when you listen to the album now?
I'm quite surprised by some tracks and can not listen to others. Certain tracks from Axolotl are used every day to 4th dimension wave gates.

Are you an axolotl?
Well the title is based on 'Axolotl' by Julio Cortázar. The short story deals with existentialism - the individual is entirely free, and, therefore, ultimately responsible.I am not an axolotl, I am human. But I do not claim to be 'of earth'. |

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cujo - Adventures In Foam (Ninja Tune)

Before Amon Adonai Santos de Aravjo Tobin shortened his name to simply Amon Tobin, he released his debut album under Cujo alias (indeed borrowed from a Stephen King novel), on a small south London label, Ninebar Records. Soon after, Ninja Tune noticed the Brazilian born artist, and signed him in 1997 for his critically acclaimed Bricolage. The rest, as we say, is history. Covering Tobin's bio and discography is a lengthy task, so I'll leave the research up to you [and shame on you if don't know the artist already]. In 2002, Adventures In Foam was re-released on Ninja Tune, this time as a double CD, containing previously unreleased material. Here's a statement from the label: "[The] fact remains that "Adventures In Foam" was a really good record, one that deserved to be heard, so when Ninja were offered an opportunity to re-release it, they jumped at the chance. Not least, because a rather unscrupulous company in the States have been circulating a version of the record with a changed tracklist, different (and unapproved) cover art and mis-titled tracks". So this should settle it once and for all. If you first fell in love with Amon Tobin after hearing his Bricolage, full of jazz infused, Latin influenced downtempo and drum'n'bass breaks and broken beats, then you'll definitely enjoy another round of Tobin's signature sampling techniques. You'll even smile after recognizing familiar sounds and beats, later reused in his subsequent albums. Definitely still enjoyable after all these years, as a first or repeated listen. A must for collectors. Artist cloud includes DJ Food, Funki Porcini, Bonobo, Wagon Christ and The Herbaliser. Favorite unreleased track: The Brazilianaire. |

Monday, June 9, 2008

Manic - 1986 (Summer Rain Recordings)

Summer Rain Recordings is a digital net label that has already released over 30 EPs from independent artists, covering everything from IDM, glitch, and breaks to trip-hop, downtempo, ambient, and jazz. The label itself has another honorable mission: every signed artist donates a portion of his royalties to NextAid ( or a charity of their choice, to be matched by a donation from the label's profits. So with every purchase, you and the music you support, make a difference in the world. Manic's debut is the fifth Summer Rain release. The four track 1986 EP is a light, breezy, and upbeat stroll. The very first track, Spring, had me bopping my head with the hip-hop beat, as I walked along the street with blooming flowers, and I smiled at the synchronicity of track's title. The jazzy percussion and the hard-cut-off, lo-fi, and looped MPC sound remind me of the early, crate-digging, sample-based works by Amon Tobin, DJ Shadow and DJ Krush. And those are all the great things. When Manic takes it down a notch, and the beats recede into a lounge-like smokey downtempo with melodic piano chords, I can not help by think of Dictaphone. It is also worthy of mention that this San Francisco based artist works for Beatz, "a non-profit organization that teaches inner city and disadvantaged youth how to dj and make music using turntables and samplers". Really enjoyed the entire EP. Jump to the label's site, and grab yours from the many supporting outlets. | |

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fraction - Superposition (Infiné)

Superposition is a delicately packaged EP, with intricate designs and CMYK offsets that at first looks like it's going to deliver some club sounds from a French label, Infiné. And the first track from Eric Raynaud, aka Fraction, hints a little bit of that. With a light four/four beat the headlining A1 begs for the dance floor. But for me things start getting interesting right afterward. For the next four tracks on the EP, Raynaud drops minimal techno inspired rhythms, and instead twists and turns through some dark and experimental IDM, from steady flow to glitchy hip-hop flavored hiccups. Since I'm a bigger fan of the latter, this is where Fraction truly shines for me. Eric Raynaud turned his attention to electronic music after a decade of playing in an indie band. After moving to Paris from Boston, Raynaud pursued electronica production, drawing from inspirations like Aphex Twin, Monolake, J. Coltrane, and even John Cage. While on US tour of 2005, Raynaud got to meet Marco Haas (T. Raumschmiere), who invited him to release some tracks on his own label, Berlin based Shitkatapult. His track, Waiting For Josh, appeared on a compilation 12-incher with Apparat, Magnum 38, Soap & Skin, and T. Raumschmiere himself. My favorite tracks on the Superposition EP remind me of that Warp Records sound from Clark, Prefuse 73, Plaid and of course, Autechre. If this is just a teaser of things to come, than Infiné (who also has released a remix EP from Apparat) may be in as much anticipation for a full length from Fraction as I am. Favorite track: Supermarket of Soul. | |

Welder - Vines And Streams (Cyberset)

Brendan Angelides is the man behind his solo project under the name of Welder. With his debut on a San Francisco based collective, Cyberset, Angelides demonstrates that he's just as proficient at downtempo as he is at breaks under his other alias, Eskmo. Following this full length release, Welder got picked up by a West Coast downtempo label, Native State Records, for a digital only Bamboo Snow EP. The Purple and Orange track gets upgraded to another EP with additional remixes by Bluetech, Fanu, Dov, and Audiovoid. Ranging from world music to orchestral glitchy instrumentation, Vines And Stream is simply a fun album to listen to. From the very first track, you're enveloped in easy bopping beats, that take you on a ride in a country with the convertible top down and your spirits up. The production is tight, the percussion is crisp, and the broken melodic patterns get stuck in your memory. The uplifting and organic mood of this IDM-meets-trip-hop album, reminds you that mother nature doesn't have that something that we call "bad weather", and as it rains outside you'll feel delighted to embrace the falling drops. And you'll smile. I place Welder somewhere between Portishead, Tricky, Banco de Gaia and The Orb. Favorite track: Rain. |

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Subheim - Approach (Tympanik Audio)

I first came across Tympanik Audio, a Chicago based label with the dark electronic roster, late in 2007, with their first double compilation release, Emerging Organisms. In the first months of 2008, I reviewed an intelligent rhythmic industrial album by Totakeke, ELekatota. But with this fourth catalog release, I can shamelessly proclaim that Tympanik has struck gold. With the release of Approach, Tympanik is quickly gaining momentum to the ranks of the beloved Hymen and Ad Noiseam. Subheim is the brainchild of Greek composer, Kostas K, whose complete biography is shadowed by the haunting sounds and occasional sighing voices of Katja. The organic elements of piano, cello, and ambient atmospheres are struck with slow building crispy beats and bitcrushed digital sounds. Approach is Subheims debut album. It perfectly encompasses all of my favorite elements: orchestral, cinematic, dark, crunchy, rhythmic, and extremely musical. "Moved by subjects such as urban isolation and the outburst of mankind's deepest emotions, Subheim delivers the ideal soundtrack for those moments of chaos or melancholy reflections." After half a dozen listens and consecutive ratings of five stars on my playlist, I give up and throw my hands in the air. I refuse to rate music with numbers, so hopefully these words will speak for themselves, as I attempt to contain my excitement for Subheim. Being filed right along my top favorite artists in the genre, Architect, Kattoo, Hecq, Lusine Icl, Arovane, Gridlock and Aaron Spectre. Highly recommended! Do not miss this next step in evolution of electronic music. | |

Two and a Half Questions with Subheim

Your album is full of emotion. What is the story behind the music and Subheim?
I guess emotion had always been the main inspiration for me all the way from the start. Quite extreme and harsh at the beginning and really ambient, downtempo later, however always chasing after those passionate moments... started off with a blackmetal band around 2000 and later on continued with atmospheric post rock / trip-hop and so on. In 2006 I came up with the idea of forming the Subheim project, which was meant to be an absolutely personal expression of my deepest feelings and inner thoughts. The beginning of 2007 until the recent days was the most important period for my musical vision, since it was the period when "Approach" was conceived, composed and took its final form. There was no original plan or guideline as to how it should finally sound like, I was just mixing up sounds, images, feelings and elements that move me.

Katja's voice perfectly brings out the melancholy in some tracks. How did you meet and decide work together on the project?
We know each other for about 4 years and from the first moment, I strongly believed she could deeply feel what my music is about and put the perfectly matching emotion into it. We had previously worked together on a few tracks that were mostly into trip-hop/ambient style and I knew we had to be on this together as well. She is a wonderful singer and a very talented artist that has a unique and incredibly passionate way to make things sound very sensitive and deeply emotional. "Voces Perdidas" would actually be nothing without her... which I have to mention is my favourite track... What is 100% sure is that the next Subheim album will feature much more vocals by Katja and you should expect a lot more aspects of her genuine talent to unfold ;)

How does your experience as a visual artist and graphic designer compliment your musical production?
Pictures, images, people, places I've been to affect me in so many ways that couldn't be separated from my music. I could never imagine my compositions without bringing to mind this desperate world we live in... the feelings of emptiness, despair, the struggle to stay alive in this neverending urban madness and so many issues that keep my mind active, urge me to incorporate sceneries that captivate as much as possible the moments that keep me going. My next project will be a video-clip for Subheim. Video Design has always been a fascinating art to me and I'm impatient to start working again on it. |

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Nebulo - Kolia (Hymen)

I'm really trying to be unbiased when it comes to one of my favorite labels, Hymen, but there's just way too many great releases from this German offshoot of And-Zen, and I can barely keep up. While I'm refreshing my memory with Nebulo's 2006 debut, another artist that I blindly "collect" everything by, Hecq, has released his fifth album (more on that later, I don't want to digress). Nebulo is an alias of French composer Thomas Pujols. Pujols received a degree from Bordeaux Conservatoire, and began producing the dark and melodic crispy IDM after embracing noise from electro acoustic composition courses on experimental and avant-garde sound. He also works with several agencies as a sound designer, composer, and audio consultant for various media. Nebulo has previously contributed remixes to Hecq's 0000 and Architect's Lower Lip Interface. The tracks on Kolia are full blown compositions, each with a unique story transforming the listener into a world of surreal dreamscapes painted with tears and sometimes even with blood. The gentle harmony and calm melodies are offset by glitchy percussion and rhythmic labyrinths carefully deconstructed and molded back into one whole. I was last this excited about an outstanding production when I picked up Kattoo's Hang On To A Dream (coincidentally [?] on Hymen as well). Kolia is a perfect soundtrack for the imagery within a melancholic soul, locked in the prison of a troubled mind. The intelligence and complexity of the sonic onslaught immediately catapult Nebulo to the ear-candy's favorites. And I want more! Recommended for the above mentioned names as well as Lusine Icl, Gridlock, Keef Baker and Somatic Responses. |

Two and a Half Questions with Nebulo

There seems to be a lot of different names for this genre of music in which you excel, and frankly, the umbrella term, "IDM" does not capture it well. How would you describe your music?
I don't feel close to any particular term. I'm just a musical human sponge, every musical / sonic material is welcome to feed my brain's idea box. Then I make this kind of "ambient / sub-stretched drones / soundscapes / ghosts melodies / sculptured textured & sudden beats", but in fact it's simply electronic music.

What do you think the future will be for this genre?
Electronic music now belong to the pop culture. Sampling technique is everywhere - you can hear IDM things on TV, people mix influences and explore the sonic textures, melting genres. A lot of people that were initially into pop/rock stuff have been attracted to electronica (Radiohead is a famous good example), and I think it's interesting because it opens up the doorway. So I think that all of this is just going to blur more and more of genre's frontiers, creating a sort of global digital hybrid music.

What artists do you draw your musical inspirations from?
Hmm... As I've said before, I'd define myself as a sort of mental sponge - I don't exactly know who inspires me, I think it's a mess of influences. Listening to music, reading, watching films, hearing sounds in the streets or elsewhere give my brain ideas. I quite often take notes about a passage of a film or music, or a sound I've heard, an image that amazed me. Sometimes I only listen once to a particular piece, and it can inspire me, an idea comes true and I try to make it concrete quick, before it escapes. It makes sense in the present, but if I let it go, I won't understand later what I've found "so" interesting. It changes with time. And of course there are the artists that have an aesthetic universe which I find inspiring. For this check out my influences on myspace page.

Tell us about your upcoming album.
I'm still working on it. I should have everything finished by June. It should be titled "ãvutmã" and will be released early September, 2008 on Hymen Records. It' ll contain more or less 10-12 tracks. It 's a bit different from my first album "Kolia", maybe a little less rhythmic, more ambient/hypnotic approach, darker and more complex in my opinion... some tracks don't have any beats at all. I'd say it's also a bit more noisy/crunchy imperfections generally in the sonic textures. One track can be only made of processed flutes / voices and organ, another one is focused on musicboxes, one is almost piano solo with clicky beats, changing textures... I'm really happy with the relief of the whole thing, each track has a specific play and it gives a particular and coherent mood to this album. I'll be uploading some previews on myspace page. |