Sunday, January 31, 2010

VA - Dubsteppers For Haiti (Betamorph)

On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook Haiti and devastated the country, with death toll rising over 150,000. Humanitarian efforts quickly took place, to aid on site, and to raise money through charities to help with the relief effort. Betamorph Records has partnered with AmeriCares Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Aid Organization to raise money through a multi-volume compilation release, Dubsteppers For Haiti. For this compilation, which, as of this writing, is in its third volume, various artists came together to contribute a track. With 100% of all proceeds donated directly to AmeriCares, each dollar will be able to deliver $35 in goods and services. "In only five days, sales of ‘Dubsteppers for Haiti: Volume One’ have already totaled just under $1000 from Digital Tunes and Juno alone, which means that AmeriCares will be able to provide close to $35,000 in aid to the people who need it most. These two retailers are the first choice to purchase the compilation from, as they release the proceeds every month. This means that the result of Dubsteppers for Haiti’s efforts will come to fruition in visible aid as soon as 1st February. The compilation will also be released on more widespread sites such as Beatport and iTunes in the next week or so to reach a wider audience." On Volume One, Betamorph Records compiled 30 tracks from The Widdler, Zeno, Dubheadz, SymbL, Claw, Robbing Hood, Sinjin, ABZ, Jason C & Metaphase, Mind, Ceeker, Bleed, Chi, 0045 & TDBZ, Bokator, VooDoo Steamboat, Baron Rogue, Mr. Curtamos, Chewie, KzA, Korea, Flexie, Seed Art Ha, RumbleJunkie, S.I.E., Kalbr, and Metaphase. Some of the above artists may only have had a few digital releases on some net-labels, and be labeled as up-and-comers in the underground scene of dubstep. But don't judge the roster by the names - hear the music, think of the message, and participate in the cause. Whether the sound is of high production caliber or not - the money that will help the suffering is real. And you can be part of this as well. "Respect to all of human kind. We are making a difference, no matter the nay sayers... Making a difference, One Dub at a Time"

Buy from Digital-Tunes or Juno Download or Addictech

Woj - Yucca

Back in my past life, when I had a weekly DJ gig and a regular podcast, I met Woj. Sending me his mixes from Poland, Woj and I connected on a pure musical level, challenging each other to create a progressing story with our selections, showcase the latest releases, smooth out the rough transitions, and let the music speak for itself. We may have completely separates lives, but music keeps us connected. A few years went by with a period of silence. Then Woj appeared out of nowhere with a new mix. I am happy to share with you his latest installment of the freshest selections.

See full track listing, plus stream or download the mix on Headphone Commute

Saturday, January 30, 2010

RJD2 - The Colossus (RJ's Electrical Connections)

Producing for over a decade, Ramble Jon Krohn, aka RJD2 is back with his fourth full length studio album, and all of the hype lives up to its expectations! With intricately cut up samples, funky percussion and original soul vocals, Krohn crafts an album full of tracks that have originally captured my attention back with Deadringer (2002, Definitive Jux). Two years later, Krohn has absolutely swept me away with his original take on instrumental hip-hop with Since We Last Spoke (2004, Definitive Jux). In 2007, Krohn got signed to XL and released The Third Hand, which is also available as an instrumental-only version. Getting signed on a major label landed Krohn on the road, touring extensively for two years. The mixed reviews and the constant performing must have been tiring... In 2009, he decided to take it easy, launch his own label, RJ's Electrical Connections, and get back to his original sound. This move is definitely welcome. The Colossus is the first new album for his label, on which he already re-released the extended version of The Horror EP, enhanced with a second disc full of live footage and the making of the music video; and a boxset of 12", reissuing Deadringer, The Horror, Since We Last Spoke, and Tin Foil Hat. The latter is a super nice limited release for all the collectors, titled 2002-2010. The Colossus is immediately solid, fresh, and welcoming to an audience looking for those soulful sounds and laid-back beats. Featuring vocals from Kenna Zemedkun, Phonte Coleman, Aaron Livingston (as well as a few of his own), and the raps of The Catalyst, Illogic and NP, the album lightly skips across songs and instrumentals, demonstrating that Krohn feels back at home, in his own studio, on his own label, doing exactly what he always loved to do! With The Colossus, RJD2 is back, and fans of instrumental sampled funkadelica will not be disappointed! Be sure to also dig up RJD2's obscure funky 39-track mix, Your Face Or Your Kneecaps, also known as Poorboy Lover Megamix, if you can find it in the archives. If you've never heard RJD2 before, prepare to fall in love if you enjoy DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, Blockhead and Prefuse 73. And... start with his earlier output and work your way up to The Colossus.

Preview a track from the album and see a music video on Headphone Commute.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Reflections on 2009 : Phylum Sinter

Experimental electronic music is a spiked frontier, full of anguished political minds that would be better to be called punk, traditional musicians that have grown tired with their normal style or instruments, bored teenagers that somehow believe that peacocking as a producer might get them chicks, and others that are technically brilliant but sound displaced against any setting they might be mashed in with. The genres we cram these artists into have always fallen short of the truth, oversimplifying complex differences, but in 2009 it was funny to see so many well established, unique artists eschew their signature to try their hand at this thing called 'dubstep' -- which is only a vague idea really outside a few staple sounds in the first place -- and more often than not, end up sounding like different takes on the exact same track. I won't get into specifics, but i'm guessing you've noticed something along these lines too. The truth is that dubstep is the new IDM; a publicity-generated movement that will have detractors and pundits but never enough to warrant their own section as permanent as "rock" or "classical" in any record store. Even now both terms are seeing a renaissance and dividing into subsets and back again into the larger umbrella terms.

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Read entire article : Reflections on 2009 : Phylum Sinter.

Also, see more entries in our new Reflections section on Headphone Commute.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beta Cloud - Lunar Monograph (Laughing Bride Media)

It's easy to write about beautiful music. When the ambient pads wash over the gentle picks of a guitar and the distant eavesdropping of radio frequencies, it's easy to write. When the soft piano chords are smothered in a generous dose of warm reverb, spreading over the field recordings of a rainy city street, it's easy to write. When the music itself draws on the images of time slowly passing by as the world is drowning in the Sea of Tranquility, it's easy to write. It's easy to share these words with you about the music of Carl Pace, because it simply speaks for itself. And these words are just the outcome. Composing under the Beta Cloud moniker, Pace has had the pleasure of performing and releasing music with Aidan Baker - An Open Letter To Franz Kafka (2007), and Lull - Circadian Rhythm Disturbance (2008), all being published on Laughing Bride Media. But forget about name dropping for a second, and get immersed in the ethereal drift of weather torn sounds. In between the frequency currents, Beta Cloud's third full length album, Lunar Monograph, stands out on its own, setting up the mood for all the ambient sounds of 2010. The tracks on the album are named after the large, dark, basaltic plains on the Earth's Moon, known as Lunar Maria. This is where the titles for Marsh of Sleep, Sea of Rains, Bay of Billows, and the above mentioned Sea of Tranquility come from. The latter, a 21+ minute ambient soundscape, full of blissful white noise, bird sounds, and acoustic wind, is drenched in a strumming of a shoegaze guitar, organic chords, and ghostlike sounds of the sleeping world. A stunning mediation on our natural satellite. To reveal more of the concept behind the album, Carl Pace explains: in a broad sense, [the album] addresses our own perceptions of our lives; the world around us, the moon above, and what lies beyond that; the waxing and waning of our own personal existences. and in a very broad sense, it addresses the concept of 'lunacy'. there's a quote from carl sagan on the inside sleeve of the disc that reads: "We knew the Moon from our earliest days. It was there when our ancestors descended from the trees into the savannahs, when we learned to walk upright, when we first devised stone tools, when we domesticated fire, when we invented agriculture and built cities and set out to subdue the Earth. Folklore and popular songs celebrate a mysterious connection between the Moon and love." i think that sums it up nicely. The Lunar Monograph, or a concise study upon this very specific single subject, has been composed in the span of about three years. The result is an album with ideas borrowed from live performances, studio pieces, and field recordings, folded neatly into a sonic package, and delivered directly onto the doorstep of your soul. For the source of the material, Pace compiled recordings of "some of the beautiful things in life that we take for granted every day due to sensory overload, subway chatter of several voices in NY and Toronto that become one cacophonous and expressive voice in the process, beautiful thunderstorms that lull us to sleep on summer nights, the sounds of birds in my garden that i watch flourish and wither without fail every year, fireworks displays where people gather almost instinctively to realize that there is something greater than we out there. and others..." With the artwork by Chase Middaugh, and mastering by James Plotkin, Lunar Monograph will surely please the fans of Tim Hecker, Lawrence English, Simon Scott, and of course, Taylor Deupree and his 12k output. If I'm doing another Best of 2010 list the same way next year, then Lunar Monograph, will surely get filed under my Music For Bending Light and Stopping Time category. Highly recommended.

See also Two and a Half Questions with Beta Cloud | |

Two and a Half Questions with Beta Cloud

What was your inspiration behind the concept of the album?
the concept came to me one particular summers' eve; i was walking my dog and i had a lot of heavy shit on my mind. i stood there for a minute looking up to the sky as my dog was sniffing for rabbits in the park... i then peered the blue gaze of the moon staring back at me and thought, "every person in this world has looked up at you. you were here before me and my life, and you'll be here long after i'm gone. and after all this around me is gone."it made me feel so small; yet it put my place in the world in context. i was just a person; just like every other person in the world. with the same problems that all humans have. and all of a sudden i didn't feel so alone after all; it just seemed so comforting to me. so i thought i'd compose a short study about it; a monograph.

Read entire interview on Headphone Commute |

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jasper TX - From Midnight To Sunlight

Another exclusive mix prepared for Headphone Commute! This time, it's Dag Rozenqvist, aka Jasper TX, mixing up his favorite tracks to keep you warm in the night... In the past few years, Rozenqvist has really stepped up in his production of dark ambient and acoustic drone pieces. Jasper TX 2008 release on Miasmah, titled Black Sleep, received critical acclaim from all purveyors of minimalism. Last year, collaborating with Anduin, he released The Beinding Of Light (SMTG Limited, 2009), as well as one of my favorite albums of the year, Singing Stones (Fang Bomb, 2009).

Read a mini interview, see full track listing, plus stream or download the mix on Headphone Commute

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Talbot & Deru - Genus (Ant-Zen)

The sound is born out of electric static, slowly penetrating through the thick veil of noise until it rolls over a thump. The tremolo affected voices grow into a ten part choir consisting of members of Tenebrae professional chamber choir. The strings provided by The Duke Quartet become rhythmical, accentuated by a pulsing metallic micro beat, until with a swoosh of white noise, resembling a raging storm, this progression evolves into something bigger, stronger, and primordial. Enter the sound of Genus - an electro-acoustic score for the ballet choreographed by award-winning Wayne McGregor. Commissioned by The Paris Opera Ballet, the work is based on Charles Darwin's discovery of evolution. Hence the growth, the organic development of the sound, and "the musical evolution of [its] own", as adopted throughout this eight-part composition by Joby Talbot and Benjamin Wynn. Since I started talking about the composers, let's get all the credits over with. Los Angeles based Wynn should be already known to the electronica and IDM community as Deru. He has released two solid albums, Pushing Air (Neo Ouija, 2003) and Trying To Remember (Merck, 2004). Both of these, along with a 10" single, Pushing Soil (Delikatessen, 2004) are among my top absolute favorites. Wynn's ability to create crispy, glitchy, hip-hop influenced rolling-bass rhythms got me bopping my head, and hunting down everything that he touches. Genus is no exception. It's no wonder that Ant-Zen picked up this amazing release. No wonder at all. Talbot is a British film and TV composer. With numerous commissions from the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and the BBC Proms, Talbot is known for his musical arrangement for The League of Gentlemen and a soundtrack for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Talbot's previous ballet score experience includes an orchestral arrangement of music by The White Stripes for Chroma. His education in composition at both Royal Holloway and Bedford New College completes the qualifications required to produce this haunting piece, and I have no doubt that Genus will be added to his further list of outstanding accomplishments. Spread over eight tracks (and 44 minutes), the released score is actually made up of three movements: The Transmutation of Species, Genus and The Great Tree of Life. Each part is considerably different then the previous. On Genus, for example, Louisa Fuller picks up her violin and guides us towards the mathematical passage of neo-classical progression with a slight touch of time-based effects. Released by Ant Zen in collaboration with Dear Oh Dear Records, the CD edition is limited to 100 copies, including a hardcover sleeve and a 20 page booklet. The disc also contains two video clips and a digital document. This is a marvelous release. And when it rolls over you with its top notch production, expert composition, and overwhelming concept, you can't help but play it again. Be sure to also keep your eye on Deru's upcoming album, Say Goodbye To Useless, which is scheduled to hit the streets sometime in early 2010 on Mush Records.

See also Two and a Half Questions with Deru | |

Two and a Half Questions with Deru

Genus is a serious conceptual work. What was it like working within the set parameters, trying to interpret a central theme of science into music, that will in turn be interpreted by dance?

It was great really. One of the most successful collaborations I've been a part of.

I should back up though and give some background on the piece I realize. Genus is about Charles Darwin and evolution. So that was our first (and possibly main) inspiration. Wayne McGreggor, the choreographer, gave us some other clues as well. He knew that he wanted it in three main sections. The first should be primordial and hard, the second a duet with two dancers, and the third a large finale with many dancers. He told us what he wanted with the lighting for reference, when there would be video (at one point all of the dancers leave and it's just video - an amazing moment), and some emotional cues. And he knew that it was going to be 45 minutes. We started working from there. We made a map of dynamics and instrumentation showing how long each section should be. We divided those 3 sections into 3 more. The 45 minute piece was then in smaller 3-5 minute chunks. I'd never worked that way and it was great. You can refer to the chart whenever you're lost and know what needs to be done.

We also we wanted to give the composition an evolution of its own. We started with static, then little snippets of sound break out from it. You then realize it's voice, and after the voice takes over it becomes chords. Then the static comes back in the form of rhythm. Then this whole first section concludes with a large dysfunctional sort of climax where everything falls apart. This is the first entrance of the violin, which later becomes a quartet. The third section sees choir and strings, then eventually electronics, and so on... Joby also found lyrics from one of Charles Darwin's secret (at the time) notebooks. These are the phrases that the choir sings.

Read entire interview on Headphone Commute

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

DJ Hidden - The Words Below (Ad Noiseam)

Noël Wessels wants you to think everything's going to be okay -- that the storm has passed, the survivors are carefree and strong, and that, should trouble rear its ugly head again, there's a good chance of escape. Turns out, the kind locals are killers. And, surprise surprise, the lovable protagonist is secretly mad, and growing madder. What could have been so perfect, so hopeful or so noble is now utterly screwed up, and we never saw it coming. This is how DJ Hidden wanted it. It doesn't feel like two years have passed since the Dutch d'n'b producer's directorial debut The Later After (Ad Noiseam, 2007), because 2009's sequel, The Words Below, appears to have picked up the narrative exactly where the former left off. The world is still vastly in disrepair, but the dust has settled some, and from it emerges a new, more powerful threat. A hunter-turned-scavenger, Wessels picks through the rubble of his own devastation with an even craftier, time-tested set of breakbeats, basslines and breakdowns. His drum'n'bass DNA has mutated to the point where it can not only withstand the new wilderness, but match its hostility blow for blow. It's a minute-thirty into "Broken Seconds", and I'm being chased down. I didn't get a good look at it, but it's big and it's fast. I'd take refuge in an abandoned building if it weren't for the fact that the buildings here aren't completely abandoned. It wasn't enough that I was on my guard. Planned a strategy. It got the better of me anyway, and now I've dug myself a dank little trench here in the dark. I'm as still as the grave, but I'm sure my scent will give me away. Dear God, I can feel its breath on the back of my neck. This is it. Like its predecessor, it's impossible not to weave some story around each track on The Words Below. From its epic opener to introspective, quasi-dubstep moments like "It Feels Wrong," to the packaging of the album itself, care has been taken to inflame your senses, string you along, and make you get your hopes up before vivisecting you while you watch. Even those who enter cautiously are sure to be toyed with. Repeated listens may well land you dribbling in a padded cell, nightmare and reality fused, begging for mercy. DJ Hidden offers only one kind, and it's permanent.

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Review prepared by Autodestruct exclusively for Headphone Commute

See also Two and a Half Questions with DJ Hidden | |

Two and a Half Questions with DJ Hidden

Can you describe your temporary departure from hardcore, how drum’n'bass was able to fill the void, and your current work with your/Eye-D’s hardcore label, Genosha?

Roughly 11 years ago, my first explorations into the world of drum ‘n’ bass were quite literal escapes from hardcore, which had been taken hostage by its glow stick variant. Concurrently, Jungle/Breakbeat was getting darker and this turned out to be very appealing.

Nowadays, I tend to simultaneously operate in both styles. Just as long as they are not associated with fluorescent flowers, contain pitched up pop choruses or feature staccato piano melodies that sound like they are being played by jesters with ADHD, I’m happy.

Working on “The Words Below” was never really a departure from hardcore as I prefer to have several projects going at a time. By allowing myself to work with multiple genres, it consequentially might make it harder to categorize my tracks. The blend of elements might not always be what listeners have come to expect. The freedom to experiment has enabled me to come a lot closer to the way I want my music to sound though. Every song I write, I consider part of a learning experience in which I am applying my previously attained knowledge and I am hoping to gain more. It is an interesting never ending process in which I strive to translate my ideas in such a way that they are perceived creative yet do not come across unnatural.

The reason we started Genosha Recordings was simply to have a higher level of creative control. Although we have a small roster of artists on the label now, it initially started off as an outlet for our own material and still fully represents the kind of hardcore we would like to hear. Once again, this music is a mixture – taking cues from drum ‘n’ bass, techno and idm.

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Read entire interview only on Headphone Commute

Monday, January 18, 2010

Corey Fuller - Seas Between (Dragon's Eye)

Opening in mist, with disassembled activity both hidden and continuous, Seas Between is a work containing the solemnity of temporality, trembling tenderness, and the brightest side of sightless imagination. Corey Fuller was born in the United States, but while still very young, he relocated with his family to Japan, where he spent the next 20 years, before returning to the United States to live in Washington state. December 2009 marks the release of his first solo album, and his return to Japan with his own family, to live and work. The album represents both a literary and imaginative vision of home and the distances between, a document of the placement and creation of a convolved third-culture reality. Seas Between was created using an expansive assortment of acoustic instruments, including piano, prepared piano, Rhodes electric piano, pipe organ, pump organ, vibraphone, pianica, accordion, acoustic/electric guitars, Gamelan bells, Thai finger cymbals, assorted percussion, and found objects. Field recordings were given delicate attention, including room tones, contact microphones, hydrophone recordings of both shores of the Pacific Ocean, field recordings from Japan and Washington, reel to reel tapes, cassette tapes, and analog tape delays. Custom software was also employed to create a convolved, indeterminate blend of instruments. In addition to the above mentioned palette, a group of collaborative musicians contributed work, such as John Friesen on cello, Tyler Wilcox on saxophones and bass clarinet, and Tomoyoshi Date on piano and electronics. Their contributions further complete a graceful warmth, to an already startlingly pronounced recording of poetic allusion, uncertain acceptance, and hazed mystery. Throughout the 45-minute work, clarity is demonstrated through swelling, warm tones, acute instrumentation, combined with the chill of the ocean breeze, and the indistinguishable traits of swirling, impermanent images. Beside crisp crescendos of the early morning dawn, foamy field recordings are hidden in the fine clouds; a formed, thin film, hidden in winter's winds. In Seas Between, here falls the shadow, between essence and descent, longing and fulfillment, wholeness and brokenness. The sense of separation and constant longing is ever-present, in our surroundings that are unwavering, but often unpredictable as the sea.

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Seas Between is released by California based Dragon's Eye Recordings, owned and operated by Yann Novak. The above text was written and contributed by Will Long, who along with his recently departed and dearly missed wife, Danielle Baquet-Long, released numerous albums as Celer.

See also Two and a Half Questions with Corey Fuller

Two and a Half Questions with Corey Fuller

The Seas Between captures intercontinental distance between US and Japan. Tell us a bit about the concept behind the album, and how you came about creating this work.

The title 'Seas Between' came from the idea and realization that the sea, specifically the Pacific Ocean, has been one of the only and few constants in my life. I was born in the US, but moved to Japan when I was five years old with my family. I lived there until I graduated from high school, moved to Bellingham, WA for university, and moved back to Japan following graduation. Then some years later, I moved back to Bellingham again to live and work. Now I am in the midst of another move back to Japan with my wife and children. As a consequence, my sense of home is very fluid, like the sea. People always ask me where I feel most at home, and I respond by saying somewhere in between, which I suppose is most literally right here in the seat on this airplane over the pacific (where I coincidentally am writing my responses to these questions) as I'm on my way back to Japan, but also metaphorically, the sea between. The concept also speaks not only to distances without, such as geographical distances, but also to distances that can exist within – within our own person, our own identity, our own being. When I am living in the States, I often feel like half of me, my Japanese side lies dormant, below the surface as one side of me takes precedence and vice versa when I am in Japan. The sea has always helped me to reconcile these distances within and without. The sea extends, touching both shores, filling a void and yet creating one at the same time.

Musically, the album is composed of songs that were created from recordings made on both sides of the Pacific, both field and studio, and I felt that this was integral to the concept of the album. For my first solo album, I wanted to create something that was personal and meaningful both conceptually and musically. Which leads seamlessly to my thoughts on the next question…

Read entire interview on Headphone Commute

Also, see Headphone Commute review of Seas Between

Klimek - Random Noise Ballads Vol 3

Prepared exclusively for Headphone Commute, Sebastian Meissner, aka Klimek, mixes up his third installment of Random Noise Ballads. This 70 minute trip through a selection of hand-picked tracks is actually a composition of exclusive edits performed by Meissner to create an overwhelming acoustic journey via a less traveled territory of music.

Read more, plus stream or download the mix on Headphone Commute

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Headphone Commute's Best of 2009 [part 5]

One final list for you from Headphone Commute's Best of 2009. Enjoy this installment, and I'll be back with more reviews for 2010!

Music For Synergizing The Synapse Of Ideas

Music For Grinding Your Teeth At Night

Music For Caffeine Free Car Chases

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Headphone Commute's Best of 2009 [part 4]

Apologies for failing to keep this blog mirror up to date with Headphone Commute's Best of 2009 lists. Got a bit overwhelmed and distracted, but here are three more, if you missed them!

Music For Sonic Installations In The Cavern Of Your Skull

Music For Missed Friends, Barbecues And Turntables

Music For Vibrating Your Neighbors’ Dusty China