Saturday, June 26, 2010

Access to Arasaka - Oppidan (Tympanik / Spectraliquid)

Once introduced to that delicious, sweet nectar, the addict constantly searches for more. Just another hit, another bump, another tweak to get one smiling. In my case, the choice of drug is music. Whether it be a melodic harmony within the player's piano keys, or nasty glitch within his framework - I ... WANT ... MORE! Hungrily consuming every minuscule release by a handful of favorite artists, I'm also on the lookout for new names. Who will be the next dealer of bliss, of poison, and of true love? Yessss... Give it to me... Inside these headphones, a digital structure gets transformed into a swallowed pill, an inhale of ambiance, a prickle of a crunchy beat. A newcomer to the scene, Access to Arasaka wishes to remain anonymous, hoping to have his real name "erased like unwanted hentai pictures on a 3.5 floppy disk." With Oppidan, his unique output has been finally picked up by Tympanik and Spectraliquid in one shot. Prior to signing, he has released a few digital EPs all on his own: Korova EP (2006), Cassiopeia (2007), and Vessel EP (2007); with a few additional free releases on Danish illphabetik net label: METAX (2007) and :Port (2008). Oppidan is his debut full length, featuring vocal contributions by Beau Jestice and Jamie Blacker (aka ESA). This is the delicious clicky, crunchy, and super melodic IDM that your brain has been craving. Luscious pads, modulated synths, and sporadic percussion will keep you at the edge of your seat, as you attempt to hold on to the kaleidoscope of sound thrown up in the air like abstract confetti, only to be arranged back into intricate designs before it lands on the floor. And this incredible intelligent complexity is what makes Oppidan an exciting and entertaining listen that begs for multiple returns. It's like finally solving a challenging puzzle that only reveals to you one side at a time. Highly recommended if you are a fan of Gridlock, Kattoo, Hecq and the purveyors of digital organisms that eat through the neural network of your brain. Be sure to check out AtA's entertaining Matrix-like geeky web site where you can also download his latest digital EP, ==null for FREE.
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p.s. On June 2nd, Spectraliquid announced its demise. With only nine releases by this Greek label, Spectraliquid introduced the world to Blackfilm, Frank Riggio, Cardopusher, and of course, Access to Arasaka. Their farewell letter ends with promises of new albums, remixes and contributions by Xsoz, Mobthrow and Subheim. I wish Kostas, Angelos and John the best of luck... We will miss you...

See also Two and a Half Questions with Access To Arasaka |

Two and a Half Questions with Access to Arasaka

- Where did the name Access to Arasaka come from, and what does it mean?
::Access To Arasaka, quite directly, came from Netrunner. It was a card game shoot-off of the Cyberpunk 2020 roleplaying game. When attempting to find a name to fit this project, that one leapt out at me. It felt like a call-to-arms for everyone interested in dark futurism, in a way.

- How would you describe your music?
::I don't entirely know. The style is really just a mixture of every influence I've ever had, past and present. As the general idea of this project is a way to describe the future I anticipate, the sounds and styles themselves are an homage to every song that has already taken me there.

- Who are some of your influences?
::Many of my influences seem to be split between the newer IDM and glitch-oriented music (Autechre, Clark, etc), and the electronic music from the 90s (Orbital, Spacetime Continuum, etc). And, as I am unashamed to admit that I'm an 80s child, I am still inspired by Pet Shop Boys, Visage, Depeche Mode, and the like.

[ - s n i p - ]

Read the entire interview on Headphone Commute

See also Headphone Commute Review of Oppidan

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sound Postcards : Malibu Mountains, Coffee Maker, and Indoor Pool

Yes, I've dropped a few captured sounds before, and here are some more for your enjoyment. Just point your clickers to Headphone Commute and hear the sounds of Malibu Mountains, Coffee Maker, and Indoor Pool... with screaming children... It's kinda fun sharing these with you, so I hope you enjoy. Oh, and send me a Sound Postcard back from wherever you are out there!!!

Podcast : bvdub - 2 hours and 20 years

This weekend we have another outstanding mix for you! 2 hours and 20 years has been put together by Brock Van Wey, releasing under bvdub, exclusively for Headphone Commute. It is indeed special, since this is Brock's first mix made in 15 years with moments of elation. It was made on a 2-hour morning bus ride from Shanghai, where Brock reflected on the last 20 years immersed in electronic music. Carried by his emotional ups and downs, the mix incorporates a verity of tracks along the memory lane...

Be sure to check out bvdub's Return To Tonglu (Quietus, 2008), We Were The Sun (Quietus, 2009) and his amazing White Clouds Drift On And On released on echospace [detroit] in 2009 under his real name.  If you have time, read also Headphone Commute's Conversations with Brock Van Wey.

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

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sound Bytes : Planet Mu Special

I really enjoyed covering Hyperdub in my last special edition of Sound Bytes, so this time I'm turning my ears towards Planet Mu. I'd rather not spend the time on words praising this amazing label, run by none other than Mike Paradinas (aka µ-Ziq). What's interesting to note though, is that in the last few years the label not only adapted to the latest trends in dubstep, but rather grabbed the reins of this unstoppable machine and began seeding the scene with some outstanding quality titles. Even Meat Beat Manifesto put out a dubstep record on Planet Mu (see Autoimmune, 2008). And it was the same label that brought us compilations from Mary Anne Hobbs, as well as the excellent latest releases by Slugabed, Boxcutter, Kuedo, and many others. I think I've said enough, so let's dive into this installment of Sound Bytes, covering the latest 2010 twelve inchers from Planet Mu.

Ital Tek - Moment In Blue EP
Alan Myson, releasing under Ital Tek, joined the label back in 2007, with his Blood Line EP. Since then, iTAL tEK (an inverted capitalization version of his moniker), dropped his debut album cYCLiCAL in 2008. Last year, we saw his Massive Error EP, and now Myson teases us with another EP, titled Moments In Blue. In addition to the two tracks (also appearing on the album), the 12" features two remixes by Ikonika and FaltyDL; while the digital release contains an extra track, Moment In Blue V.I.P. This is a solid dubstep release, with deep rumbling bass, chirping glitchy twists, minor chords, and a heavy kick. FlatyDL's remix, comes in with a solid beat and ghostly vocals, approaching 4/4 territory towards the end of the track. While Ikonika's remix features her staple syncopated snare rhythms (almost Latin sounding - I think I hear marimbas in the background!). Make sure to pick up Myson's sophomore release on the label, Midnight Colour, dropping on the street on June 7th, 2010.

Swindle - Airmiles EP
Blending elements of UK Funky with grime and dubstep, Swindle layers pulsating bass with almost tribal percussion and driving dance floor rhythms, creating his own flavor of synthed-out funk. On this Airmiles EP, the tracks, "Coffee" and "Molly" in particular, feature a vibrant confetti of funkadelic kaleidoscope, in stereo-sound of spacey guitar, lo-fi filters, 80s soaring synths and all. Super smooth! Quoting influences by Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, George Benson, Bob Marley and even Michael Jackson, it's no wonder that his style leans heavily towards a blend of reggae and jazz. In the past, Swindle [who's real name remains a mystery] has released a grime compilation, The 140 Mixtape (2007), and an album, Curriculum Vitae (2009) on his own, Swindle Productions. Let's hope Planet Mu serves as a cannon to catapult this rising artist onto the scene. See also Swindle's remix of Terror Danjah's track, "Zumpi Hunter", appearing on Industry Standard Part 4 (2009).

Rudi Zygadlo - Resealable Friendship
In May, Glasgow (UK) based producer, Rudi Zygadlo released his debut album, Great Western Laymen, but right before that, in late March, he teased us with a four track single, Resealabel Friendship. For this installment of Sound Bytes, let's concentrate on the EP. Let's see, how do I describe Zygadlo's sound? It's as if Frank Zappa started baking pop pastries within the dubstep cookie cutter's template, twisting and stretching the dough in every direction, then slapping you upside the head. This release is complimented by two remixes from Planet Mu's rising stars. Starkey neatly folds the track into a deeper bass dance track, while Slugabed drenches the vocals in a mixture of 8-bit synthed out potion, that spices up the flavor and kicks it up a notch. BAM! So don't forget to pick up that full length, Great Western Laymen, ok? I don't want to ruin it, but the credits contain contributions by musicians on trumpet and alto sax.

FaltyDL - Phreqaflex
On this three track 12", NYC based Drew Cyrus Lustman, aka FaltyDL, returns with a flavor of housey minor chords, glassy pads, and shuffling 2-step rhythms. Gearing up for yet another full length, Planet Mu will release another EP, Endeavour, scheduled for September 2010. Meanwhile, Lustman's last year album, Love Is A Liability received some critical acclaim, including a selection for Headphone Commute's Best of 2009 : Music For Vibrating Your Neighbors’ Dusty China. On Phreqaflex, Lustman flexes his freakishly versatile muscles to squeeze out some nostalgic garage, sub-bass rumbling frequencies, with dusty fading vocals, and heavily layered vibe. Fans of Burial will be in for a treat once they hear "My Friends Will Always Say..." - I particularly dig the use of lip smacking in between the words, which are usually muted out by the producers from their tracks, leaving something empty, non-human, behind... This is a dance floor hit for sure!

Oriol - Coconut Coast
Wrapping up this installment of Sound Bytes on Planet Mu Special, is a newcomer to the label, Oriol. On his very first EP, Coconut Coast, Barcelona born and Cambridge based Oriol Singhji mashes up grimy beats with saturated synths, syncopated rhythms and elements of 70's soul, disco, and mid-80s electro. Preparing for his debut album, this four track teaser release features a remix by FaltyDL as well as an appearance by Mike Paradinas himself, disguised behind his Jake Slazenger alias. We are also treated with a remix by Shortstuff who released a collaboration EP with Geiom last year, No Hand Signals (2009). "[Oriol's] music connects the dots between his musical tastes, from the 70’s fusions of Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder to Theo Parrish, and Larry Heard to Recloose, drum 'n' bass and dubstep". This is something completely out of this world, so you better keep your eyes out for Oriol's upcoming, Night And Day hitting the streets this summer.

Be sure to read this entry directly on Headphone Commute for audio track samples.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Milhaven - Milhaven (Valeot)

I remember when I first discovered the sound of post-rock with the inevitable introduction to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. And I thought that I'd never get into 'rock' music. Since then, I dug through countless albums, each with their unique elements, building up on the foundation laid down by the masters. I don't want to say that after a while the sound got dull. That would be the wrong word. Nevertheless, it just stood there, still, in all its beauty, unhindered by change. The formula staked into the stage and jagged by every band in different directions. But always bouncing back to the original sound. And the problem with that is that you either sound like the originals, or you don't. Which one would you prefer? Enter Milhaven - a four member band from Bochum, Germany, consisting of Christoph Freudenberg, Jens Reichelt, Hannes Zagermann, and Andreas Fanter. Milhaven doesn't care about being labeled, or further experimentation, or ... that always sought out individuality... They just care about making great music. And if it means that their sound is more traditional, and in a sense classical, then so be it. Perhaps that's precisely what makes it sound so fresh - finally someone recording great post-rock with zero regrets. This is the band's second full length release, self-titled Milhaven, after the debut Bars Closing Down (12rec, 2004) and I. M. Wagner EP (12rec, 2006). A quick note here for the collectors - the aforementioned music was released on German 12rec net label, which means that you can download the music legally for FREE! And the music is worth your time! Beautifully crafted guitar riffs and melodies soar above precision controlled drums, and just enough reverb to create that floating feeling... Unapologetically delicious flashback to the warm currents of nostalgic 90s. Flawlessly executed. Recommended if you like Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Mono, and Stars of the Lid. Milhaven is released on Austrian Valeot Records, owned and operated by Alexandr Vatagin, who also introduced us to Port-Royal's Afraid To Dance (Resonant, 2007 / Valeot, 2008). Be sure to pick up Vatagin's own release, Shards (Valeot, 2009), as well as releases by a band Slon [where Vatagin is also a member] - Antenne (Valeot, 2009) and Nachtnebel (Valeot, 2009). Keep your eye on this label for more solid output to come. This album is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies in a hardback cover, available in the US through n5MD, and in UK through Norman.

See also Two and a Half Questions with Milhaven |

Two and a Half Questions with Milhaven

- Can you tell us how Milhaven was formed?
Milhaven was founded as a trio in 2001 by Christoph, Jens and Johannes (b). Three years later, we played a live show at our home town, where we met Andi, a former school mate of Christoph. Andi (g) joined us on the second guitar to provide more melodies. 20 days later, we performed our first show as a quartet.

- Where does the name come from?
It is borrowed from a Nick Cave Song. But irresponsibly and obviously misspelled.

- I see the image of the whale on your album, and I always confuse your name with Melville (who is the author of Moby Dick). What is the symbol of the whale?
The whale is the most powerful creature living on earth, something to be feared and adored past belief and, finally, the downfall of Ahab and his crew.

[ - s n i p - ]

Read the entire interview on Headphone Commute

See also Headphone Commute review of Milhaven

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Track of the Week : Four Tet - Angel Echoes (Jon Hopkins Remix)

Alrighty... Trying out something new here. In an attempt to bring you even more music, here's a section which should not be a novelty to anyone - Track of the Week. More music, less words! We pick a track, you hit play! And don't forget to leave here some comments on this selection! So let's get to it.

Our very first installment is a Jon Hopkins remix of Four Tet's Angel Echoes:

For those of you not familiar with Hopkins' sound, check out his 2008 album, Insides released on Double Six / Domino. As followers of Headphone Commute it was actually _you_, who have chosen Insides as one of the Best of 2009 in Readers' Selections. Jon also released two more EPs, Light Through The Veins and Seven Gulps Of Air in 2009, both on Double Six.

Four Tet's single, Angel Echoes, comes out on July 19th in the UK as a 12" and a digital download. Besides Jon Hopkin's remix, there's also a Caribou remix of the same track on this EP. More info and pre-order on the Domino. |

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Clyde's Treats : Peanut Butter

Hey there! Before we get into my special treats, let's get the cat out of the bag. My name is Clyde, and I'm an English Bulldog. OK, I'm just a dog, get over it! HC may not talk about me much, but that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy the music. I spend a lot of time in the studio, laying on the floor close to the sub. And I've got my own opinion! Personally, I prefer when the bass vibrates my itchy butt! So it's no wonder that I'm a fan of deep rumbling clydestep. When I'm in the beasty mood to rip up some of your mailed in promos, I love to run around and growl to clyde'n'bass. I'm a big fan of modern clysical, and I also enjoy the soothing sounds of clybient. I snore to it for hours! And pretty much anything else clytronic. And peanut butter! I loves me some peanut butter!!! Enough about me. So what's the purpose behind my column? Well, while HC is too busy gathering the factoids about another upcoming review, a few albums that are played on these speakers never make it to this page! So this is my time to take control and summarize a few things that get my booty moving. These bits are like the fallen food crumbs off the dinner table! It's clyde'o'clock! Get it? Oh, and peanut butter! Oh, man, I can lick a tablespoon full of peanut butter! Just give me the whole jar!

[ - s n i p - ]

Read entire entry on Headphone Commute

Podcast : Sysyphe – Under the Wood

This weekend we are very excited to bring you a chilled out, psybient mix by Philip Contamin, who records some lush downtempo under the name of Sysyphe. Check out his debut album, Running Up That Hill released on French Hadra Records. We've been meaning to introduce you to some of our favorite psychill artists for a while! And Headphone Commute’s Best of 2009 : Music For Awakened Spirits And Open Minds, has been a testament to that endeavor. So it's a pleasure to have an artist select his [and our] favorite releases from labels like Aleph Zero, Space Baby, Blue Hour Sounds, and of course, Ultimae. Hope this takes you on a journey...

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

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sound Bytes : Blue Hour Sounds, Mille Plateaux, and Sutemos

In this installment of Sound Bytes, I wish to cover a few compilations that recently grazed on the cones of my speakers. I've got some ambient, downtempo, and IDM here for you to munch on. And what's more delicious about this organic cocktail is that a lot of it is FREE! Bon appetit!

Made of Dawn (Blue Hour Sounds)
Kicking off this label's birth is a chill-out 10-track compilation titled Made of Dawn. This very first release from the Italian Blue Hour Sounds label features many well known artists in the downtempo scene, as well as a few newcomers. Followers of psychedelic and morning trance should recognize a few names on here, such as Sebastian Taylor (Digitalis, Kaya Project, Shakta etc.) appearing here as Hibernation; Eliot Morgan Jones and Nick Woolfson appearing as Sounds From The Ground; Michael Hodgson and Paddy Free as Pitch Black; René Gundel Nielsen & Martin Spanner Zimmermann as Beat Bizarre and many others... This is a beautiful selection of psybient vibrations, perfectly curated for the fans of Headphone Commute's Best of 2009 Music For Awakened Spirits And Open Minds. The founders of the label, Luca and Jasmine plan on following up this downtempo release with a psytrance compilation, The Garden of Delights. And if you're not a fan of psychedelic music, well maybe now is the time to check it out, because this compilation is 100% FREE!!! A 128kbps MP3 version is available for download in exchange for your email.

Clicks & Cuts 5.0 - Paradigm Shift (Mille Plateaux)
Mille Plateaux is back!!! That's right, kiddies, this is the influential German label that introduced us to genres like click-hop, glitch-pop, clicks and cuts! Kicking off back in 1993, Mille Plateaux brought us compilations like Modulation & Transformation with appearances by Aphex Twin, Cristian Vogel, and Air Liquide. In 1996, the label released the infamous Gas record, and in 1999 they catapulted SnD. In 2000, Vladislav Delay joined the roster and introduced us to the Clicks + Cuts series! And Alva Noto's debut, Prototypes also came out on Mille Plateaux. In 2004, the label went into hiatus, and now, four years later, it's back with it's fifth installment of Clicks & Cuts, subtitled Paradigm Shift! Now it should be no wonder to you, why I am so excited about this release! Many new and familiar names on here, like Kabutogani, Aoki Takamasa, Kiyo, Gultskra Artikler and of course, Ametsub! As the series suggests, this is a selection of fresh glitch sounds: "from Minimal Clicks to IDM-/Dub-ish tracks via Ambient and Sound Art to the 2 'Evac' tracks going to the Artcore and Organic extremes" that should get your taste buds wet for all the music to come!

Intelligent Toys: We Make Music (Sutemos)
I'm going to start off and state outright that Sutemos is one of the most influential net-labels! A lot of new and established talent has come through the doors of this Lithuanian purveyor of electronic and experimental sound! Its ability to spread the music far and wide, is what makes it 'influential' in the scene - especially since all of the releases can be downloaded for FREE! What better way of putting the music in your ear? The very first volume of Intelligent Toys series was released back in 2004. Eight years later we say the fifth installment, featuring artists like AGF/Delay, Deer, Monoceros, Ulrich Schnauss, Yagya, Swod, Miwon, Funckarma, Sense, Praveen, Kero, IJO, Ruxpin and many many others! This sixth entry, subtitled We Make Music is a three volume compilation with over 50 tracks! That's right, it's over 4 hours of music available to you for free! And the roster? We've got AGF, Monokle, krill.minima, Maps And Diagrams, Jan Jelinek, MINT, Sabi, Esem, Sleepy Town Manufacture and more than a handful of debuts - I can't possibly list all of them here! As with all Intelligent Toys, this release is accompanied by a gallery of nearly 30 images, which in itself makes this compilation a collector's dream. So don't delay, and experience the sound of evolving electronica for yourself! Remember, it's FREE!

Be sure to read this entry directly on Headphone Commute for audio track samples.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wisp - We Miss You (Rephlex)

Wisp makes laptop music in the same way an armorsmith fashions plate mail, with structural integrity and superb craftsmanship. For the huntsman, it deflects the arrows of the enemy and makes thorny underbrush traversible. For the artisan, it speaks volumes of the wearer's lineage, a coat of arms woven into the filigree. It is a noble work. After all, dragons don't slay themselves. Drawing from his personal experience in the wilderness of Niagara Falls and his reverence for medieval fantasy, Reid Dunn (Esq.) has, fresh from the adventure of his LP The Shimmering Hour (Rephlex, 2009), bestowed us with another chapter in his ongoing braindance epic. We Miss You is Dunn's third release from Rephlex, and has been made available digitally, though it may as well take the form of ink on dried parchment. In this scrolling screed is a collection of bard-y ballads and honour beats, delivered sometimes in haste ("Pogonip"), other times in requiem ("Four Thistles") and even in jest ("Happy Sneakers"). When all appear on a single track ("Moss On Stone") the result is pure wonder. Like his contemporary Benn Jordan (The Flashbulb), Dunn is at home in his element, never once letting formula get in the way of personal expression. What comes through in the music can best be summed up by the six D&D attributes : strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom and charisma. Wisp's character levels up with each album. Recommended if you also dig Kettel, µ-Ziq, Ochre, Squarepusher and of course, AFX. It's about time that Dunn got signed to Richard D. James' Redruth (UK) based label, Rephlex. Welcome home.

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Review prepared by Autodestruct exclusively for Headphone Commute

See also Two and a Half Questions with Wisp |

Two and a Half Questions with Wisp

Before your first physical releases on Sublight, you personally distributed a slew of mp3 material. Do you consider "We Miss You" to be a return to your roots? Was the format switch your decision or Rephlex's? Can we expect future releases to follow suit?
It wasn't a particularly conscious decision to simply release "We Miss You" on the net... In fact, as far as I know, there are still plans to release some of the tracks from the album on vinyl. I think that the album going up on the Rephlex store was simply a product of the excitement and enthusiasm of getting the net store up and running, and have something brand new to offer listeners, as sort of a grand opening surprise. Considering that the album is a bit of a compilation of what I was producing pre-Rephlex, it was good to just get the tracks out there and in the open. I like having physical releases of my music floating about, but I don't feel particularly tethered to hard copies in any way. I am just glad to get the material out there and circulating a bit, which I suppose is a bit of a return to my early days of how I was releasing albums.

[ - s n i p - ]

Read the entire interview on Headphone Commute

See also review of We Miss You

Thursday, June 10, 2010

MUTEK 2010

I'm officially back from MUTEK. Five days of experimental electronic music and four nights of pumping beats. Words could not describe this experience... But I try... See my in-depth coverage of the event!

Preview | Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four and Five | Reflections