Sunday, September 28, 2008

IJO - (Untitled) LP (self)

Queuing up the self released (Untitled) LP by IJO on my iPod, I find that my collection is already sprinkled with tracks from this Lithuanian artist [currently residing in London]. A few of Audrius Vaitiekunas' tracks appear under my favorite Sutemos compilations: Draumar Um Kalt Sumar (Sutemos, 2006) and Intelligent Toys 4 (Sutemos, 2007). And I find that I have already rated those melodic IDM pieces high within an amazing collection of artists. But now I turn to check out IJO's more experimental work, that originally appeared on Plain Productions as a digital Untitled EP in 2006 (still available from this netlabel as a free download), later to be re-released by Vaitiekunas himself, with four more tracks from Quastic! Tracks (Envizagae, 2007), as a pressed 12" LP (this is a limited edition, and I've got mine right here!). IJO rips through the breaks, twisting up triggered percussion and acid bleeps into a whirlpool of distortion, that deserves to be analyzed under a microscope. The deep well of the brilliant Amen Break cutups still hasn't run dry (neither for me, nor for IJO), and when its mayhem detonates into jazzy and melodic interlude, my evil grin melts into a smile. The unheard (Unknown) track on this unsigned (Untitled) is simply unbelievable. It is the unmeasurable uncredible undarkness... er, sorry, got glitched in a groove there... I was trying to say that the (Unknown) track is the absolute highlight of the album for me. It is everything I ever wanted drill'n'bass to be. Evil grinds in the vain of DJ Hidden, lightning rhythmic patterns in the higher frequency, all phased and mashed up into the finest breakcore, as institutionalized by Venetian Snares, Squarepusher and Jega. Highly recommended. | |

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Squarepusher - Just A Souvenir (Warp)

With his twelfth album, Tom Jenkinson takes even a further departure from his staple Squarepuher sound of broken beats atop slapped bass and twisted triggers of the Amen Break. Warp's own store, Warpmart, categorizes the album as "Drum and Bass / Breakcore / Electronica", but I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth! (kind of misleading actually). Just A Souvenir is more in the realms of experimental rock and future jazz, with a touch of electronic treatment and a few very tasteful drills, where Jenkinson continues evolving (as a true musician should) in his experimentation with abstract accompaniment of acoustic instruments (mostly his custom built 6 string bass guitar once again) and drums that effortlessly morph between organic and digital. With Just A Souvenir, Jenkinson introduces an element of early garage rock, with vocoder and all, and reminds us once again of his amazing instrumentalist skills. First thing's first - I like it! And after only a few listens, the melodies come back haunting me later during the day. A true sign that I will return to the album! Just A Souvenir opens up with a track titled, Star Time 2 (makes you wonder about its first part) with a fun funky synth/clavichord melody and light beats. From then on Squarepusher moves into improvisational, jazzy, and effected bass slaps over barely comprehensible vocoder blurbs. All of it is truly of psychedelic nature with sparking notes in a kaleidoscope of white, red, green, blue and yellow. On his site, Jenkinson explains that "this album started as a daydream about watching a crazy, beautiful rock band play an ultra-gig." He then goes on describing his fluorescent trip which included an Eskimo on the drums and a classical guitar player that could speed up and slow down the time in his vicinity. I recommend you read up on on Tom's blurred delirium before embarking on this trip. Then bathe yourself in this album which is the interpretation of Jenkinson's memory of the daydream which he held on to as a souvenir. Running at (only) 45 minutes long, Just A Souvenir picks up where Hello Everything left off, becoming more organic with every track. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then you'll enjoy this rubber band trip through time. Only the way Squarepusher could. Just A Souvenir hits the streets on October 27th (2008), and is currently available as a digital download (in FLAC as well) from bleep dot com. | | |

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Anders Ilar - Sworn (Level)

Anders Ilar comes back with an intelligent minimal techno album, full of ambient and glitch elements that compliment the ongoing groove in every single way. And I guess it wouldn't be fair to file Sworn under minimal techno. After all, the only stylistic hint at that category is its four-four beat, and not on every track. The rest of the music is as close to techno as was The Last Resort by Trentemøller (I mean that in a good way). And I don't just accidentally mention that name. The production and experimental IDM touch, which Anders Ilar is so proficient at, indeed reminds me of Trentemøller's excellent work. And it shouldn't be a surprise. The Swedish producer has considerable output behind him on many excellent labels, such as Shitkatapult,, the dearly missed Merck, and its offshoot, Narita. The latter mentioned label survived its parent only by a year and a half, announcing the news that during late summer of this year (2008), it will release its last compilation, sadly titled Terminal (although it also fits within Narita's nomenclature relating to the Tokyo airport). Meanwhile, its last release this past April was none other then a collaboration between Anders Ilar and Fredrik Hedvall, titled Melt. Ilar's 2006 eight-track LP on Merck, Ludwijka, and its extended release in 2007 on Shitkatapult, Ludwijka - Extended Visit, should serve as an excellent base and a great predecessor to Sworn. I usually begin my Ilar playlist with the former and end it with the latter, and I recommend you do the same. This is a great [re]discovery! An absolute must for fans of Trentemøller, Minilougue, Booka Shade, Gui Boratto as well as Deaf Center, Yagya, and Rod Modell alike. | |

Two and a Half Questions with Anders Ilar

I accidentally came across your album in a minimal techno section of my local record shop. Would you prefer it be filed under another category?
No, I don't really care about putting my music in any category. I think my music has more listening value than the average minimal techno stuff. At least I would hope so. In the end its all just plain music. Either it resonates with you or it doesn't. My intent is to make music that takes you in to another world.

Do you think we'll see another experimental IDM album from you (by that I think I mean something along the lines of Ludwijka with a lesser defined 4/4 beat)?
It is most likely. If there is still time.

Tell us more about your collaboration with Fredrik Hedvall on Melt (Narita, 2008)
It was all worked out over the internet. He sent me loops and sounds and I made some tracks out of it.

How has the post-Merck world been treating you?
Hmm... the world is a strange place right now, and it's gonna get real interesting to see how things develop. I would really like to see the end of all this stupid materialism, and that would include the "death" of music industry along with the entire oppressive capitalism system that keeps everyone slaving for money and food. We now have the technology to let the music be free. Everybody is free to create. Personally I think the rEvolution is already in motion, and I trust that the universe will take Everyone of us to where we need to go. |

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Clifford Gilberto Rhythm Combination - I Was Young And I Needed The Money (Ninja Tune)

Squarepusher recently announced a new upcoming album, titled Just A Souvenir (out on Warp on October 27th, of 2008 - and already available via digital download on bleep). But on my first preview of the album, Tom Jenkinson seems to drift even further away from his original innovative broken beats and drill'n'bass, so dominated by the late 90s. Personally, I always applaud the efforts of an evolving artist, and Squarepusher deserves a whole separate hailing review (coming up next). But being nostalgic for that jazzy breaky genre, I dust off a copy of an overlooked album by Florian Schmitt, which cries out to be back in my rotations. Schmitt recorded only a single album for Ninja Tune back in 1998 under the lengthy pseudonym, The Clifford Gilberto Rhythm Combination. He also did a bunch of remixes later under Clifford Gilberto and his real name. But that was a decade ago, and since then, he's been pretty quiet. Nevertheless, the sound of his debut album, I Was Young And I Needed The Money, is fresh and upbeat, after all these years. I did not begin this write up with Jenkinson incidentally, though. Fans of Squarepusher, Amon Tobin, Cinematic Orchestra, µ-Ziq, and The Flashbulb will be absolutely delighted to hear the Schmitt's tracks for the first time, if they somehow missed the album when it first hit the streets. The sound fluctuates between melodic drum'n'bass (closer to a drilling jungle though, then a straight beat) and a jazzy trip-hoppy rhythms with Latin-flavored samples. The Gilberto reference in Schmitt's alias reveals his Brazilian jazz influence... maybe... His biography on Ninja Tune's site claims that he's "the unknown lovechild of Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz", but Schmitt brings to the table much more than the musical genius of aforementioned influential bossa nova artists. Guaranteed to liven up your mood and get you to bop your head. And seriously, if you haven't heard this one, get it! Too many favorite tracks on that one to list. |

Sunday, September 21, 2008

One Starving Day - Broken Wings Lead Arms to the Sun (Planaria/KNVBI)

The record patiently awaits its turn among the large pile of music. Finally it is allowed to play, to shine, to sing, and to scream in its beautiful agony. It's like this: if you are a drooling mischievous apocalyptic follower of Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Mono, as well as Pelican, Neurosis, and Isis, then you absolutely _must_ get this album. One Starving Day is a group of Italian musicians, with a previous experience in some hardcore bands, but what they whip up on their debut album, Broken Wings Lead Arms to the Sun, is beyond metal, beyond screamo and post-nu-post-rock. It is a blend of very melodic and voluptuous swells of unfolding desperation which erupts into the mass of lava... flowing... slowly... All you can do is just stand there, agape, watching it helplessly wash over your ears, consuming everything in its path. Take the intimate lyrics on my favorite track on the album, Leave: "on these tears / lay down, and wait / for becoming / an abandon / to soothe / all your fears / a pure heart / to soothe / and leave". Into this deadly cocktail, throw in the spacey 70s synth sweeps, raw violin screeches, and explosive (excellent) drumming. And I did mention the screamed vocals, right? That may sound discouraging to some listeners (or readers), but it works _very_ well for One Starving Day, and is actually more than welcomed by yours truly (surprise!). The CD was released on Washington DC based Planaria Recordings, and then repressed on a colored 12" vinyl with two extra unreleased tracks on an accompanying 7" by KNVBI Records. Whether you're a collector or not, this record must be in your library for the likes of the above mentioned bands. | | |

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Elite Barbarian - It’s only when you get to the end that it all makes sense (Front & Follow)

With a title over ten words, you'd think that Benjamin Page composed a post-rock or perhaps an ambient album, where track and album naming is something of an art form. Nothing could be further from the truth. Page's solo release under Elite Barbarian moniker, titled It's only when you get to the end that it all makes sense, is an abstract and experimental electronic improvisation utilizing samplers and hardware synthesizers. Listening to this music is a mild demented experience. In a humid summer haze, I put my ear against a hollow, cold, and sterile wall, to eavesdrop on the copulating circuit organisms, dying in the process. At the center of this bleeping pile is a solitary piano, protecting its modesty with ripped out coiled strings. The sounds are kept and twisted against their own will, in a foreign confinement, away from their beloved ones. Only now and then, they are permitted to venture beyond the virtual barricades of their man-made asylum, for a brief glimpse of their abandoned soul. This album makes the first catalog addition to Front & Follow, a new Manchester based label releasing limited edition and attention oriented packaging. The releases are not constrained to physical copies - digital editions are available from a number of online stores (iTunes, Amazon, Bleep). Recommended if you enjoy laboratory electronica from acts like Mr. 76ix, Team Doyobi, Lego Feet, and Metamatics

Be sure to check out this week's installment of Electronic Explorations featuring Elite Barbarian. |

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Silences Sumire - Return Is Selective (Ropeadope Digital)

Silences Sumire sounds as if Arovane remixed the live improvisation of Miles Davis, laying on his glitchy swishing drum patterns over electro-acoustic treatments of jazzy instrumentation. Hailing from Chicago, the group consisting of Thomas Faulds (Mercury Effect) and Charles Gorczynski (Colorlist, Leaves) compose a blend of light, electronic, and digitally crunchy percussion over woodwinds (alto sax) and female vocals. The sound of Silences Sumire is a abstract and modal, featuring extemporaneous saxophone overtones, voicing and glissando, with a continuous playful DSP effects of sample chopping, filtering, and bit-crushing. Chicago has a complex music scene that spans across genres like contemporary classical, rock, hip-hop, blues, jazz, and electronic. The duo skillfully merges the latter two, belonging [perhaps] on John Hughes' (Slicker) famous Hefty Records (with acts like Savath & Savalas, Eliot Lipp, Beneath Autumn Sky and Telefon Tel Aviv). I could even see this track appearing on Compost Records Future Sounds Of Jazz compilation series. Instead [and probably for the better], Return Is Selective is released on Ropeadope Digital label following a couple of EPs from Silences Sumire on Chicago local ears&eyes collective. Recommended for the jazzy glitchy fiends, and for fans of the above mentioned artists. | |

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Ideal Setback - Window Seat (self)

Somehow Todd Chappell managed to squeeze out another ambient release this year. Maybe "squeeze out" is not such a great term. He simply opened the windows and let the inspiration fly in. After all, this Memphis artist seems to write a couple of tracks a week. In Window Seat, Chappell creates lighter melodies with an uplifting character of a major chord. Personally, I like things a bit darker and gloomier, a note with which Chappell closed up his debut, Dream Dialogue. With Window Seat he promises a glimpse of a better day. The sophomore release for Chapelle, composing under the alias The Ideal Setback, opens up its petals in a morning glory after a heavy midnight storm. For me, the two albums encompass the yin and yang of Chapelle's awakening to the complex beauty of the simplicity within minimal ambient sound. One, measured with darker and brooding dissonance; the other, with basic ratios of baroque tonality. Both are in play, depending on the mood. In Window Seat, Chappell attempts to touch the essence within Brian Eno's words: "Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting." These words were printed back in 1978, within the liner notes of Eno's Music for Airports - one of my all-time favorite ambient pieces till this day. Thirty years later, Chappell keeps these ideas going. Recommended for super early mornings, when you haven't slept all night, and your mind is overly tired, but still awake. |

Two and a Half Questions with Todd Chappell

Tell us about the transformation from Dream Dialogue to Window Seat in your approach towards production and composition.
When I first sat down and recorded Dream Dialogue, I felt like I was a baby trying to learn to walk. I knew what ambient music was, and how some ambient artists sounded, but I had no clue about how to approach it musically or how to put it together. A lot of what came out on Dream Dialogue was an accident. I basically came up melodies and chord progressions, and let the rest come out naturally. It felt like I took a stab in the dark. By the end of it however (having spent 4-5 months straight studying ambient music while recording and refining my own), I felt like I had a much better understanding of how to put together an ambient song/ambient record. Tracks like "For Once", "Gestalt", and "A Home of Walls" were some of the last I recorded for Dream Dialogue, and I felt like I was hitting the mark I had made for myself with those. By the time Dream Dialogue was actually released, I was well into recording Window Seat. I feel most if not all of Window Seat is better composition and production wise, because I felt I knew more of what I was doing (how to manipulate sounds better, as well as evolving each song individually in a way that made more sense).

What is the unifying theme of Window Seat as an album?
I think the theme for both Dream Dialogue and Window Seat can be up for interpretation to each person individually. What the music means to me may mean something completely different to someone else. The listener should know, however, that after hearing Window Seat in it's entirety, there is a definite feel of hope and empowerment - something that may not have come across so clearly with Dream Dialogue.

You seem to be still exploring your own sound - who do you look up to musically?
I am most definitely still exploring my sound. I don't want to be limited to anything just because I'm an "ambient artist", but I think it will take me a few more well thought out records to actually settle down on a sound I can fully feel comfortable with. There is a huge variety of bands and artists I look up to musically. I think it varies between me as a person and me as The Ideal Setback. As an ambient artist, (the role I play as The Ideal Setback - and for Window Seat especially), I really enjoy and draw a lot of inspiration from bands and artists such as Sigur Ros, Stars Of The Lid, Pausal, Windy And Carl, Eluvium, Rachel's, and Hammock, to name a few.

Look around! Tell us something about your studio in which you compose your music.
My "studio" is actually just my room in my house. I basically just use a MIDI keyboard set up to a few programs on my computer. When I look up, on the wall behind my desk, I see a Sigur Ros "Takk..." poster. I also have two other posters by a photographer that passed away this year, named Scott Mutter. He did some really cool surreal stuff, and I relate a lot to his pictures when I make music, to try to give it that "out of the normal" feel. Hopefully as time goes on I will be able to get my hands on some more of his work. For my style of ambient music, I feel like a picture that takes you a few times looking at it to understand makes for a better atmosphere than a hallmark-card-picture of a waterfall. |

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Slow Dancing Society - Priest Lake Circa ’88 (Hidden Shoal)

Hidden Shoal delivers once again! There are instant gems in my collection from this Australian label, including albums by Sankt Otten, Wes Willenbring and now the latest from Slow Dancing Society. To listen to Priest Lake Circa '88, I retreat into my solitary bedroom, fall over the covers, and press play on the player. It's not that I am ready for a nap. But I do want to close my eyes and let the sound swirl around me, like little specs of dust rising towards the ceiling in the ray of sunlight. With my eyes closed I can truly hear. There are no distractions by the scrollies or the blinkies. With my eyes shut I can see the music. And it perfectly blends into an atmosphere of my surroundings. Somewhere a dog barks. A pigeon flutters. And my neighbor is working in his garden. The trees sway in the wind, softly brushing their leaves against my window. Or perhaps it is the sound of a washing waves on one of the tracks, accompanied by a subdued strumming of a guitar. Soon I see the water. Drifting away on my hastily made raft I am slowly approaching the center of the lake. Getting closer with every reverberated feedback, going farther into my saturated dream. Priest Lake Circa '88 is Drew Sullivan's third album on Hidden Shoal, serving as a conclusion to his double-album which began with The Slow and Steady Winter. The main theme of the album speaks of the nostalgic concept of "home", encompassing the things we leave behind and return to, within our short journey into this time slice wer call "life". With Brian Eno serving as the main influence for Sullivan's work, I could attempt to classify the music as abstract ambient meeting experimental shoegaze. Or I could just name a few of my favorite artists that come to mind immediately upon my first listen: Stars of the Lid, Hammock, and Bitcrush. If those are the names on your watchlist, then you better rush out to secure a copy of the latest (and all) from Slow Dancing Society. And let me know about _your_ trip. |

Two and a Half Questions with Drew Sullivan

What can you tell us about Priest Lake as a physical location and more importantly, the year 1988 in relation thereof.
Priest Lake is a beautiful lake in Idaho where I spent almost every summer at as a child. These past few years after moving back home from Los Angeles I've gone back to Priest Lake and spent the last few days of Summer there. The year 1988 was simply the era of the 80's that I look back on with the most affection. I was 8 years old and for some reason it seems to me that most of the music that I loved as a kid and that was coming out of that time was just really great. Lots of the cliche'd and played out 80's sounds were getting fused with a lot of the up and coming 90's sounds and it was done quite well and felt like a really nice balance.

How do you think, you've matured your production for this third release?
To avoid being funny, I've actually become quite immature for this release as I really played a lot of sounds on this album that were more youthful and less sophisticated as compared to something like a really deep Eno album. The way I made this album believe it or not was that I recorded an 80's Hair Metal/Stadium rock album and then pretty much delayed/reverbed and droned the hell out of it. If you heard the initial tracks before the effect treatments were added you'd be listening to an album by Warrant, Poison or Def Leppard!

Do you think you related closer to acoustic or electronic, and where do you think the lines vanish?
I'd have to say Electronic simply because of all of the manipulation that goes on with the various sounds that just can't really be obtained in a tangible/real world situation. If you were to perform my music live with nothing but acoustic instruments that aren't treated at all you'd need to have a room the size of Madison Square Garden to get the reverb effect as well as multiple other guitarists to create the chorus/delay effect... etc. I think the line vanishes just at the point where sound manipulation occurs. An acoustic guitar that is reversed I feel takes on an electronic feel since that is just not possible in an acoustic/analog setting.

Who is the protagonist in the movie of your life?
In an existential way of answering it I'd have to say that the state of 'wistfulness' would be the protagonist in the movie of my life. I've always been a bit of a daydreamer who's longing for that 'it' that is unreachable in this waking life. Now if I had to pick someone of fame, I'd have to say Owen Wilson. Just a laid back funny guy who seems a bit down but somehow finds a way to put a comedic and endearing spin on life and sees the beauty in everything. |

Saturday, September 6, 2008

:papercutz - Ultravioleta Rmx's (Apegenine)

I'm in the mood to catch up on some EPs highlighting the upcoming releases. Here comes a single from a Portuguese musician, Bruno Miguel, going by the name :papercutz with a vocal help by the lovely Melissa (Mell) Veras, and multi-instrumentalist Francisco Bernardo. The clicky IDM elements of Ultravioleta and the breathy female voice, triggers a memory of Telefon Tel Aviv's remix of Bebel Gilberto's All Around. I think the Portuguese lyrics play a huge role in that as well. But before I give my mind a chance to travel to the past, it is snapped back with four more remixes from a great roster of artists. First up is a remix by The Sight Below, a Portland based ambient-techno artist who just landed a deal with Ghostly International. His melding loops accented by the riding beat will keep the Gas fans happy (see my separate review on his No Place For Us EP). On Violet of Ultra Neotropic Remix, Riz Maslen (appearing on Ntone and Ninja Tune), blends organic instrumentation with machine-like rhythms and needle skips vis-à-vis Radiohead's darker tracks, adding her own vocals (an English translation of the original) into the mix. Spandex's (Matt Southall) treatment of Ultravioleta, brings it closer to the dance floor, with a minimal techno beat and a touch of electro, packed in the Kompakt container (for some reason I'm picturing Eric, the yellow puppet, nodding his head to the Flat Beat of Mr. Oizo in Levi's commercial). Finally, Bevan Smith (aka Signer) wraps it all up with a convoluted twist of an ambient soundscape paired by a deep bass pulse. Signer is known for his releases on Carpark and his own label, Involve; he also records under Skallander with Matthew Mitchell for Type Records. All in all, this is an interesting collection of remixes where each one shines in its own domain. And as such, it is difficult to encompass all tracks within one writeup. But back to :papercutz. Ultravioleta Rmx's EP should wet your appetite for his upcoming debut album on Apegenine. And I'm looking forward to the day it hits the street. | |

Syncopix - Icarus (Syncopix)

I just love dark and dirty drum'n'bass. But... I also love its jazzy, organic, and carefree flip-side. That is the sound of Syncopix. You walk out the door, on a crisp summer morning; the sun casts off the sharp shadows of the trees; and with the headphones on you trot to the beat. The light and upbeat rhythms tickle your eardrums with the high frequencies of snares, hi-hats and cymbals. You get into the groove with the minor chords and melodic pads. And just when things get rolling, the deep bass kicks in. An uncontrollable smile creeps in. This is what I'm talking about. Hamburg (Germany) based Roland Bogdahn, has been producing drum'n'bass under his Syncopix alias since 2001. Along with Yaw O. Afram (MTC Yaw) he founded Form Recording, and then spun off Syncopix Records sublabel, on which he already put out about half a dozen of his own 12-inchers, and finally his debut full length album, Icarus. All the years past, Bogdahn has been mostly releasing two-track DJ friendly vinyl on London Elektricity's London based Hospital Records and its sub-label, M*A*S*H; as well as Integral, Dutch Fokuz Recordinngs (sub-label of Citrus from Triple Vision), and Berlin based Hard:Edged among the many. There are also numerous collaborations and remixes - too many to mention for this writeup. But this is Bogdahn's first album. Even though it is unmixed, it flows very well, and is worthy of being a standout release apart from being just a collection of tracks. In fact, it only has two out of thirteen pieces which previously appeared on vinyl. The rest are all new (as far as I know). Geared more towards the listener, rather then the nightclub, Icarus is an album to add to your d'n'b archives. Recommended. Favorite tracks: Nightlistener and Disc Go! |

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Sight Below - No Place For Us (Ghostly)

Entering the domain of ambient techno producers, is a newcomer by the name of The Sight Below. Ghostly didn't think twice (and better for it), and snatched TSB for his first three-track EP, titled No Place For Us. The fact that I'm even taking the time to mention a digital single should tell you how excited I am about the upcoming work from this Seattle based musician [yes, I like to pretend that I'm very busy ;) ]. And before I forget to mention - this is a free release, so go download your copy directly from the label's site. During the first track, No Place For Us, the ambient washed out sweeps yawn and stretch in swells of shoegazer's agonizing obsessiveness over thick guitar and pad layers. The tonality of these resonant chords remind me of Lusine Icl's Language Barrier (Hymen, 2007) and Murcof's Cosmos (Leaf, 2007). Soon enough the kick drum comes in over the lazy vapors of sound. Like the soothing whispers of a river flowing through the dry lands, pumped by a steady heartbeat of the earth. I quote when I can't say it better: "The music of TSB conjures half-remembered dreams and soft-focus sentiments with elegiac beauty; his video art works similarly, blurring snippets of film until they're recognizable only as organic objects: black-and-white amoebas milling about, or a sunset rendered in grayscale." The knowledge that the three pieces were performed live, only excites my neurons further. Really looking forward to The Sight Below's first upcoming full length release on Ghostly, so that I can stop looping only these three tracks! Recommended for the likes of Yagya, Gas, Vladislav Delay and Echospace. | |

Two and a Half Questions with The Sight Below

How did you get into producing this type of music?
I enjoy music that is repetitive in nature, but also contains multiple tonalities, and on further listening keeps captivating your attention. Similar in a way to how "film noir" feels - the more you focus, the more elements you uncover. The ancient Greeks argued whether an occurrence is perceived the same exact way twice. Brian Eno theorized a little about this: "repetition is a form of change," he said. I ascribe to that theory. These days music seems to be me very ephemeral (and interchangeable). My intent is to create something that grabs your attention today, but also still feels interesting tomorrow.

Which comes first in your production, the ambient layers or the deep grooves?
I have a very primitive setup in my studio: a few guitars and 12-bit effect units (old Lexicon reverbs and delays). I play either by barely touching the strings with a pick or with a viola bow and run everything thru a few loop pedals to create a few layers. I record everything live with minimal editing - mostly to fix fadeouts or adjust levels.

Which musicians do you draw your inspiration from?
I listen to a lot of old Creation, Factory, 4AD, Chain Reaction records. Kevin Shields is obviously a huge inspiration - to me it is perfect music.

Tell us more about your visual artwork.
I work inversely, trying to visually recreate the series of emotions that were going thru my head while I created the music. I predominantly use found footage, which I manipulate and rearrange to the point in which the images become subverted and de-contextualized.

How do you think, getting signed to Ghostly, will change your career path as a musician?
I love working with Sam, Jeff and the rest of the crew there. Ghostly reminds me aesthetically of Factory (one of my all time favorite labels). I'm really proud to be part of the Ghostly family.

So when will we see the debut album?
November 10, 2008 |

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ginormous - At Night, Under Artificial Light (Hymen)

It's not enough for Bryan Konietzko to be large. To be enormous. Ginormous suits him better. Extremely digital and artificial in all its glory, the sound of sharp saw waves and crisp percussion cuts right through the trippy hip-hop beats. Listening to At Night, Under Artificial Light, I feel like I am crawling through a neon illuminated passageways under a futuristic city. Beneath the surface of a metal casing, I hear a granular and twisted meow. The animal unfolds itself from underground conduit and hastily escapes on its mechanic legs. Cling, cling. Yet I remain, impeccably, still human. The melodies are dark and harmony is morbid. With every track I swallow prickly copper balls. And as they make their way into my stomach, the ancient medicine for pain begins to work. The beats of Konietzki's third full length on Hymen are punchy and assured (the 2006 double CD on Hymen titled The Endless Procession and Our Ancestors' Intense Love Affair is actually two albums). Besides producing artificial beats in his studio, Konietzko is also a co-creator and executive producer for Avatar: The Last Airbender, an Emmy award-winning animated television series that lasted three seasons on Nickelodeon!! There's more on Bryan on Wikipedia or IMDB (many will be delighted to learn that he worked as a character designer for Family Guy). It's tough to classify this album. But if I was pressed, I'd file it along my dark, and experimental IDM collection. As is common with my favorite Hymen releases, Ginormous shoves his way into the circle of Lusine Icl, Hecq, Kattoo and Gridlock. | |

Two and a Half Questions with Bryan Konietzko

You seem to drift further into digital sound. Do you incorporate any "organic" elements in your production?
This new album is definitely the most "digital" of my three, but I still used a lot relatively organic source elements. I think every track started as a recording of one of my stringed instruments, lots of acoustic and electric guitars that were subsequently edited and processed, a kalimba, frame drums, a metallophone... But even though the tracks were born the same, I intentionally embraced a more synthetic sound overall. I picked the title "At Night, Under Artificial Light" very early on in the process and tailored the tracks to suit that aesthetic.

Some artists absolutely despise the umbrella term "IDM". How do you usually explain your music to your relatives?
Yeah, I feel no connection between the term IDM and my music. I certainly like some music that falls under that category, but I don't think it applies to Ginormous. I just focus on emotional content over heady "intelligence." As for describing it to my relatives, I gave up on that years ago! I just give them the CD if they are interested. My sister thinks ice skaters should perform to it, which I take as a compliment. I usually describe it as emotive, dynamic, cinematic, instrumental, industrialized electronic music. Or something...

What is the relationship between your work as an electronic musician and your production and character design for animated television series?
For the last 6 years, my music has worked as the counterbalance to my animation career. Making "Avatar" was great, but a very slow, collaborative process. Making music alone at home is a very immediate, intimate form of expression. Having the two was a good mix for me – it satisfied the polar aspects of my creative needs. Now the show is finished and I am sort of experimenting with a new musical direction. I guess I'm looking for a new balance.

Tell us about your next album on Hymen.
My next record is "The Sound of Love Impermanent." It started as a score for a contemporary dance piece by Maria Gillespie of Oni Dance. In that regard, it is the most collaborative album I've done yet, since the music was made with someone else's purposes in mind. It was a fun project and it got me to work in a different way that ended up influencing "At Night, Under Artificial Light," since I made them both at the same time. It is a more spacious, ambient collection than my first three records. |