Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Bug vs Earth - Concrete Desert

Ninja Tune: 2017

First Kevin Martin made shockwaves as The Bug with London Zoo. Then he retreated from the alias to focus on a new project with Roger Robinson as King Midas Sound. That did awesome-sauce as well, and it looked as though he'd find a way to flit between the two projects, dedicating his Bug works to the dancehall and grime side of his muse, while working out the dubby, droned-out soul portion of his brain with King Midas Sound. He even got started on a running series with the latter (Edition), inviting like-minded artists in for a little collaborative work. A couple years pass, and it looks about time for either another Bug effort or a second Edition. Figures Mr. Martin opted for a little of both in Concrete Desert, giving us a Bug album that also serves as a collaboration with a prominent drone musician.

Said drone musician is Dylan Carlson, he of the drone metal band Earth and member of the Rasputin Look-Alike Club. Seems they're credited as kicking off that whole scene within the metal pantheon, getting their start sometime in the early '90s. Hey, Kevin Martin was also doing rock music of a sort back then, though more of a post-punk, noise thing that led him to exploring all things dubby later that decade. They have different approaches to their chosen craft, but the endgame seems the same: finding the musical nuances in the empty spaces between notes and sounds.

And Concrete Desert definitely does that. Something of an ode to outer Los Angeles as viewed through a David Lynch lens, there's plenty 'nuff drone tones to go around. In fact, the longest cuts on here go entirely beatless, American Dream and the closing titular track both breaching the ten-minute mark as Misters Martin and Carlson feast off of each others feedback fuzz, sustained guitar timbre, and heavy dub production. These could fit snugly in the dark ambient camps in how bleak and dispiriting they come across. Even the ambient opener City Of Fallen Angels, while a tad more melodic and calm, still comes off suffocating, as though choking on desolate urban heat.

That's all well and good, but folks coming into a Bug album expect some crunchy, bass-heavy beats too. For sure he delivers, though even these come off sparse, more in service of Dylan's evolving drone. Gasoline has a strident march that Dylan's guitar rides on, Snakes & Rats assaults you like a sonic cannon, Don't Walk These Streets quickens the marching pace as all manner of tonal wickedness lurks in the shadowed alleys, and Broke... kinda' reminds me of a NIN interlude.

Nate Patrin of Pitchfork calls Concrete Desert “neo-neo-noir music”, to which I say, “fuck off, Pitchfork, and your retarded hyper-hyphenated genres.” They are right in saying that it “draws you into its discomfort” though. These are far from inviting tones to hear, but Bug and Earth craft such a seductive, sonic dance, you can't help but wander these desolate streets regardless.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Autumn Of Communion - Autumn Of Communion 4

Carpe Sonum Records: 2014

I've been buying music from Mick Chillage. I've been slowly getting up to speed on Lee Norris. Seems I've no choice but to finally spring for an Autumn Of Communion album, the collaborative project between the two. No, wait, this shouldn't sound like a chore, though it does feel like a challenge at times. They made their debut as AoC on Fax +49-69/450464, which wound up being among the last albums the label released before Pete Namlook's passing (apparently the last). You bet that's made it a tantalizing collectible now. The project wasn't homeless for long though, finding a comfortable spot in Mr. Norris' newly established ...txt print, where they've released several albums since. But as ...txt typically has ridiculously short-runs of CD pressings, finding affordable hard-copies of such albums has proven most difficult for late adopters (damn, wish I hadn't missed out on that Polydeuces ...mmm, Saturn beauty shot...).

Fortunately, Misters Norris and Gainford did contribute an LP to another fledgling label that spun-off from the epic-mega Namlook Tribute project, Carpe Sonum Records. Seeing as how Autumn Of Communion were honorary Fax+ alum, it was only appropriate that they'd offer up some new tunes for the Carpe Sonum crew, who tend to have lengthier CD runs than their ambient techno brethren. Praise the Techno Gods!

Even more appropriately, AoC produced a clutch of tracks that fall in line with Fax+ of old, all the while keeping things sounding modestly modern in the process. Autumn Of Communion 4, so named because it's the duo's forth proper album under the handle (d'uh), makes no bones about the style you're in for. I mean, just look at that cover art! My God, is it ever lovely, losing your gaze in a star-studded field of winter twilight, a leafless canopy serving as silent sentinels to the secrets above. And damn if the twenty-minute opener Ocean Of Religion doesn't feel like you're actually out there in the wilderness, losing your gaze in the great beyond. Distant percussion echoes from afar as lovely pads and soft timbre weave in and out, subtle astral-chatter meshing with field recordings throughout. I want to actually play this piece in such a setting, though the local park field at summer midnight might do in a pinch.

The rest of AoCIV is taken up by two longish tracks (Leaving Island, Zren Keen), and two shorterish tracks (Through The Motion, Animated Religions), which honestly sound like from different sessions than Ocean Of Religion. While still featuring lovely synth work, they're less spaced-out, coming off more grounded in songcraft, though Religions does reach some upper atmosphere vibes. Island mostly performs as a pure ambient outing with sporadic dubbed-out beats, Keen gets a little heavier in its rhythm department, and Motion is... groovy ambient? Is this a thing? I think this should be a thing.

But yeah, Autumn Of Communion 4 is as wonderful an album as you'd expect with the players involved. Miss at your own peril!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Harold Budd & Brian Eno - Ambient 2: The Plateaux Of Mirror

Editions EG/EMI: 1980/2009

How does one follow-up a genre- nay, scene-defining album? Carry on with business as usual, I guess, and that's what Brian Eno did in the immediate aftermath of Music For Airports. It's not like he had plans to create ambient music as a critical benchmark and cultural touchstone, 'music as abstract art' ideas already explored throughout the '70s. All Music For Airports really did was crystallize those concepts under an easily identifiable banner. It wasn't Eno's manifesto to be the vanguard of an entirely new approach in music-making, more content playing the role of producer for numerous new wave bands emerging out of Britain and New York. Then again, one does not title an album Ambient 1 without some inclining this was a concept that would see future interpretations as a series. Kinda' committed yourself there, Eno ol' chap.

He couldn't tackle this wide-open field of potential music exploration on his own though, hence calling in one Harold Budd for a little collaborative work. Mr. Budd, having worked behind the scenes with jazz and minimalist musicians as a composer since the mid-'60s, released a proper debut album in 1978 called The Pavilion Of Dreams, released on Eno's own Obscure print. In fact, ol' Brian helped produce it, finding Budd's lengthy and sustained 'soft pedal' approach to piano playing gelling nicely with his notions of abstract minimalism. If anyone should join the ambient jamboree Eno was itching to set off, Harold was a perfect pairing. Having an actual pianist making the music instead of manipulating tape-loops is always preferable, right?

And yet, it was the looping nature of Music For Airports that gave it such a distinct characteristic that it spawned an entire genre of music. With Harold Budd laying his feathery touch upon the ol' ivories though, The Mirror Of Plateaux comes off less an ambient record, and more a modern classical one, where traditional musicianship remains in charge of a composition's direction. It's still very loose and improvisational, mind you, but you can't help but see Budd performing it, whereas ambient music typically prefers removing the notion of a musician at work altogether. At least, that's how it evolved over time – ironclad genre rules were still in the process of development at this early stage.

As for how Ambient 2: Plateaux Boogaloo sounds, it's fairly similar to Budd & Eno's later work on The Pearl, though with less of a coherent theme going on beyond music making for its own sake. It's mostly delicate piano noodling or soft organ diddling, with some synth pad in support. Not Yet Remembered breaks mould with a choir pad, and Wind In Lonely Faces adds bell and bowl tones, but that's about as adventurous as this album gets. Pleasant? Yes. Calm and soothing? Absolutely. Essential listening? Eh, The Pearl was a better pairing of these two's talents, but Plateaux Of Mirrors is a fine effort all around, a fitting companion piece to Eno's Ambient series.

Tangerine Dream - Alpha Centauri

Ohr/Esoteric Reactive: 1971/2011

Any chronicler of Tangerine Dream claims every album of theirs is an Important Stepping Stone in the band's development throughout the '70s, how each LP led to another new wrinkle in their sonic tapestry. And that remains true for their sophomore effort Alpha Centauri, though consensus states this one isn't as important as the others that came later. I don't agree with that entirely - at least on a conceptual level it's a significant change of direction from their debut Electronic Meditation. Even by title alone, you can tell this one's aiming for sending you on a journey somewhere specific, no matter how abstract and psychedelic the music gets. It just so happens space was the place everyone thought was the new hotness at the time, moon landings and Stanley Kubrick movies inspiring folks with their own takes on cosmic exploration. Plus, you can totally get away with sounding all weird and shit, because does anyone know what music at Alpha Centauri actually sounds like? Heck, we didn't even know what sounds Saturn could make yet! Freeform imagination songcraft abounds!

First up, because this is way-early Tangerine Dream, don't come into this album expecting anything like their mid-'70s genre-defining Berlin-School synth-wizardry sound. Nay, this is the band still in their psychedelic rock phase, though definitely pushing the boundaries of what could still be technically classified as 'rock music' within this nascent kraut offshoot. Opener Sunrise In The Third System serves as an intro of sorts, only four-and-a-half minutes long while building upon organ operatics and spaced-out guitar sounds. If this doesn't sound like you're out on the fringes of an extra-terrestrial planet, then you don't know your kosmische.

That one's fairly straight-forward as songs go on this album though. Second track Fly And Collision Of Comas Sola settles for nothing less than musique concrete abstraction for a good two minutes of its start, all pinging synth zaps and shimmering laser-lights; it's like you're riding the comet itself! Oh yeah, Comas Sola refers to a comet passing near Jupiter at the time, so this piece wants to recreate a journey on said comet, and potential collision with the big ball of temperamental hydrogen. I'd say they pull it off, much of the track a meandering, dithering piece of synth strings, organs, and almost inaudible guitar strums. Two-thirds deep, drums emerge, flutes be a tootin', and the track erupts in a cacophonous, psychedelic freak-out. If you feel that's too rocky for your Tangerine Dream music, check out the 2011 bonus track Ultima Thule Part One, where the band does a full rock-out as any psych-band could.

Still, the titular cut is the main attraction, running twenty-two minutes long. Yeah, it's one of those pieces, where the band seems to be fluffing about for an endless amount of time. Some weird synth noises here, an extended flute solo there, a little choir action and spoken German radio-chatter elsewhere, not much linking it all together. Methinks some refinement in their song-writing is still required.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pantera - Vulgar Display Of Power

ATCO Records: 1992

The only Pantera album you're supposed to have, even if you're not a Pantera fan. Any metal fan worth their salt will have this though, for no other reason than that cover. Imagine what it was like being a longhair back in the day, wandering into your local shop in search of something that was keeping the thrash fire alive. The standard bearers, Metallica, had left a void with their deliberate crossover effort the year before (the black album), any number of metal bands potentially stepping to the plate to take over. But Megadeth aimed to follow Metallica's lead, Slayer was between albums, and Anthrax was getting all chummy with hip-hop. No, someone new had to take the mantle, and believing their fresh, groove-orientated take on thrash could do the trick, Pantera aimed to drop the heaviest metal album ever with Vulgar Display Of Power. And to make sure they got your attention, they dropped the most fucking metal cover art ever onto store shelves, something you just couldn't look away from and had to hear what lay within. Paying a dude $10 a punch for the perfect shot never had such rewarding dividends.

More than anything, Vulgar Display Of Power marks a flashpoint in the way metal would be approached in the '90s. No more falsetto singing, Phil Anselmo instead bringing that underground hardcore growl to the forefront and never relenting, save a pair of obligatory ballads. And that bassline needs pitching right the fuck down, practically buried in the mix, so that it grinds like a machine – many subsequent thrash and death metal bands lifted this technique wholesale, such that the Pantera clones forced the band to go even heavier in Far Beyond Driven, just to keep pace.

But those guitar riffs, mang! Dimebag Darrell showed plenty of skill in albums past, but in unleashing their inner beast with Vulgar Display Of Power, he went to a whole other level (a new level!). For sure he let's Pantera's groove carry the load, his guitar tones featuring some of the heaviest crunch and feral snarl ever heard in the genre to that date. But he gets to solo time, and geez'it, the guy's just gone, mang, just gone. Gander at Rise, already an intense tear-out session, taking shredding to glorious highs. It's about the only remnant of '80s thrash on this album, everything else feeling '90s as fuck. Hell, even the 'ballad' This Love comes off more Gen-X pissed-off than whatever passed for sentimental in the decade prior. Other 'ballad' Hollow feeds more off '70s melodrama before getting to the punchy stuff to finish out.

Aggro-groove stompers dominate the album (A New Level, Walk, Live In A Hole, Regular People, By Demons Be Driven), with furious tear-outs breaking any potential monotony (Mouth For War, Fucking Hostile, Rise), though Pantera aren't hesitant to change tempo mid-track either. Something for every metal-head on here, then. Get it, and storm that lacrosse field with the fury of a thousand moshers.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Enigma - Voyageur

Virgin: 2003

I can't say Enigma fell off after this album, Michael Cretu having released three additional albums since, including one this past winter after an eight year absence. And while hard sales are no where near what was enjoyed at the start of this project, he's retained enough of a dedicated following that his streaming figures remain respectable (so sayeth The Spotify).

Yet ask casual electronic music followers these days what they think of those albums, and they'll answer you with “Who's Enigma?” Then you'll try to educate them on albums like MCMXC a.D., and singles like Return To Innocence, and maybe they'll mention hearing their moms play those when they were kids, to which you'll realize you're getting just so very old and want to retreat to comforting sounds. Like the familiar, seductive, soothing refrains of classic Enigma, yeah, that'll do the trick, and by the by, have they released anything new lately? Ooh, here's some stuff on Spotify, may as well check that out.

Not that I blame folks for figuring Engima's time had passed. By the fourth album, The Screen Behind The Mirror, it felt as though Mr. Cretu was stuck recycling old habits; at least even he recognized the sound had grown stale. Following a greatest hits package proclaiming closure on the first chapter of Enigma's story, he came out with this album, Voyageur, a stated deliberate change in direction and song-writing. What that was supposed to lead to remains anyone's guess.

Rather, the main talking points surrounding Voyageur almost always bring up what it lacks compared to Enigma of old. No more ethnic chants and Gregorian sampling, gone are the vintage woodwinds that always immediately identified a Michael Cretu production. Both “Curly” M.C. and his wife still provide a few vocals, but more vocalists have been added to the table too. In fact, this is the 'poppiest' Enigma's ever sounded, songs short, concise, and radio-ready should any of them catch on. Only two did, the titular cut and Boum-Boum, both dancier options. Not so dancey as Look Of Today though, with one of the catchiest hooks I've ever heard in the Enigma canon (and well it should, being an interpolation of ABC's The Look Of Love).

Elsewhere, Incognito gets rockier, Page Of Cups aims for a little chill-out compilation action (it failed), and tracks like Weightless and The Piano dip closer to the New Age side of Cretu's muse. Meanwhile, In The Shadow, In The Light and closer Follow The Sun shoot for the emotional, spiritual feels, and I can't say I'm getting the feels from them like other Enigma tunes. There's something lacking, the same strident confidence you'd hear from Cretu's production no matter how overblown the music could get. Maybe its the result of trying something different, a feeling-out process after so many years relying on familiar songcraft. And Voyageur is fine enough on that regard, but that's about the only lasting impression this album ever generated. Ain't no one humming Boum-Boum, even then.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Craig Padilla - Vostok

Spotted Peccary: 2002

As usual when confronted with a different language than Canadianese, I had to do a quick search online for a 'vostok' definition. Like, I assumed it had something to do with a cold, wintery climate, but you never know with these musicians, so often unearthing obscure minutiae for inspiration. Eh, I can simply check the liner notes to find out? Ah, that would be handy, if I had the actual CD to do so. Besides, where's the fun in that? I should attempt some pseudo-sleuthing 'round these here parts. To the Wikisaurus!

And wouldn't you know it, I've turned out some unintended nuggets of knowledge-drop gold here. 'Vostok' is general term in Russian for 'east' (in reference to the Orient), but has many other references too. The Vostok rockets, for instance, which included the Vostok 1 mission, mankind's first ever spaceflight. It's also one of the craters on Mars that the Opportunity rover explored. Plus, here on good ol' terra firma, there's a Vostok Bay way out on Russia's eastern shores. There's also Vostok watches, Vostok Gas, Vostok Games, and Vostok motorcycles. I now know more about 'Vostok' than I do the artist behind this album, Craig Padilla.

Mr. Padilla has floated on the periphery of the ambient world for two decades now, getting an early start on the old MP3-dot-com website. After a few years there, he found other prints to release music on, including Space For Music, Groove Unlimited, and Spotted Peccary, Vostok being his debut with the latter. He remains a steady producer to this day, though no where near the level of output some ambient composers generate. Incidentally, this isn't my first brush with Craig Padilla, having touched on a contribution of his to the first volume of Ultimae's Fahrenheit Project. I didn't even recall that until I was checking out the chap's Lord Discogs entries, though you can't really blame me for it. His Beyond Beta was a nice piece of layered pad ambience, but didn't stand out so much compared to- what, I gave him ACE TRACK status too? Oh dear... um, I have no excuse for him slipping my mind then. Shame on me.

And yes, Vostok is in reference to Lake Vostok in Antarctica, a body of water submerged beneath many layers of ice. Due to the overwhelming pressure above, it isn't frozen solid, instead slowly melting and refreezing over vast expanses of time. Padilla aimed to recreate what it might be like trapped within that deeply isolating place, with nothing less than the single-track LP form doing the trick. Running over fifty-one minutes long, Vostok is quite the minimalist piece, gradually adding and building layers with droning thrums, distant rhythms, and glistening synths lazily meandering along. Some two-thirds in, the track retreats for some spritely synth doodling, but soon brings everything back for a... well, not a climax – this is ambient after all. Wait, lengthy build, breakdown, return, lead-out. Oh my God, Vostok is 'epic ambient', isn't it!

Ceephax - Volume Two (Original TC Review)

Rephlex: 2007

(2017 Update:
I haven't delved into Andy Jenkinson's material as much as I'd like, and that's almost entirely due to his discography's lack of CD options. Vinyl, digital offerings, tapes... absolutely, but the compact disc is a rare beast when it come to the Ceephax Acid Crew story. Not having a steady label doesn't help either. After the pair of albums on Rephlex, it appeared he'd taken a further step up the IDM ladder in releasing
United Acid Emirates on Mike Paradinas' Planet Mu.

That was 2010, and he's barely touched the LP format since. A few singles have cropped up though, almost all through Andy's own Waltzer print, so at least the project has kept going in some capacity. He might be moving on from the Ceephax stuff though, dipping his feet into the soundtrack business this past year on the Troma film,
Essex Spacebin. Eh, never heard of Troma? They of Toxic Avenger infamy? Yeah, that studio. How on Earth did Ceephax hook up with those wackos?)

IN BRIEF: An acidy timewarp.

If rumors are to be believed, acid is on the verge of a huge comeback. Really, it’s already been burbling just under the radar of clubland. Acid house, in sharing a similar aesthetic, can often be heard in ‘minimal’ sets. Meanwhile, the whole maximal techno camp shows no qualm in letting the ol’ TB-303 loose. And of course those wiggly-squiggly lines never left the psy trance scene. Now that it’s been twenty years since the sound first exploded into British consciousness, you can be rest assured there will be a flood of retrospective releases celebrating everything acid.

In the meantime, we have Andy Jenkinson, one of the new breed of IDM producers who fell in love with acid and honors it like it’s still the early 90s. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. As the younger brother of Tom Jenkinsion (aka: Squarepusher), he seems to also enjoy making other leftfield sounds like ‘drill’n’bass’, analogue ambient, and even casiocore.

Initially the Ceephax moniker was established to deal with that side of his work while the more cumbersome-named Ceephax Acid Crew tinkered with trance. Hah, no, of course it’s acid. Anyhow, upon getting signed to Rephlex (founded by some guy named Richard D. James - perhaps you’ve heard of him?), Andy merged the two together and released two albums dealing with these different aspects of his productions: Volume One, from earlier in the year, featured his IDM side of things, while this here Volume Two takes on the TB-303 and ambiance.

And while he doesn’t stretch the sound too far off the beaten path, he struts his acid stuff with winning results. Tracks like Snifter’s Acid, Scary Pollution, and Cold War Acid has it bubbling and squiggling along. Elsewhere, Andy cranks the tweakin’ up a few notches in Acid Schroeder, Acid Breezer (have I typed ‘acid’ enough yet?), and Vulcan Venture. In all, it’s a fun assortment of 303 indulgence, but there is an elephant in this room that also has to be dealt with: production quality.

When I say Andy honors the early 90s, it isn’t merely with fanciful aesthetics; I mean it literally. Rhythms are incredibly tinny by modern standards, with under-powered sounds and arrangements that don’t stray far from techno’s raw roots. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear this was a release from Rephlex’s birth-year rather than fifteen years on. At some points, you have to wonder just what these may have sounded like had he brought his production into the 21st century. For example, Vulcan Venture is a smashing exercise in pounding techno, a beast of a tune as is. Yet what if it had been made with modern equipment? Monstrous is what it would be!

Still, once the album does gets a few tracks under its belt, these production limitations don’t seem to matter as much. It’s rather like watching a classic sci-fi movie: yes, the special effects are hilariously primitive by today’s standards, but when the plot is solid enough to grab your attention, you don’t even notice it. And the plot in Volume Two is indeed solid.

Or rather, Andy’s tracks are good enough to enjoy even with the unapologetic restrictions he places upon himself. Whether with funk or with reckless energy, all of his acid workouts will hook you in (well, aside from the go-nowhere loopfest that is Scary Pollution). But especially so with the lovely melodies he interjects into his tracks, proving there’s more to his work than a love of what acid can do for you.

These melodies manifest themselves more prominently in his ambient excursions, which bookend the album. Opener LW Traveller is interesting but noodles a bit too much. However, as a somber minimalist piece, closer Ravenscar is quite nice, even if Andy does get a tad over-experimental towards the end of it. Still, at least it isn’t quite as wank as the stuff he does in TX Ogre.

Ultimately, your decision to commit debit to disc with Volume Two will depend entirely upon whether you enjoy old school acid techno. As easy as it is be fooled into thinking so, this isn’t a throwback album; Andy simply likes vintage equipment and makes ample use of it - warts, limitation, and all. If you do too, then by all means hop on the ride with the Ceephax Acid Crew.

Written by Sykonee for, 2007. © All rights reserved

Sunday, June 11, 2017

L.S.G. - Volume Two (2017 Update)

Superstition: 1996

(Click here to read my original TranceCritic review.)

I may have overstated Netherworld's importance. I'm sure there were other records around the time that did a better job defining the progressive trance template than this one. Do any of them kick as much ass as Oliver Lieb's mini-opus though? I think not. What were some of its competitors in the year 1996? X-Cabs' Neuro? De Niro's Mind Of Man? Transa's Prophase? Bangers for sure, but comparatively simple and straight-forward when stacked against all the stuff happening in Netherworld. Who else had the balls to include an electro bridge in the middle of an anthem? Yeah, it's a feature that goes overlooked since most remixers jettison it in their rubs, no matter what direction they take it - it's all about the vocal sample and those gated pads, man. What I wouldn't give to hear a late '90s electro hero take this tune down their gnarly paths though. Anthony Rother, maybe? Dopplereffekt? Boris Divider? Boris...? Boris...?

Speaking of unexpected remixers... Holy cow, did you know Banco de Gaia did a remix for Volume Two? I sure as Hell didn't! Not in all the years I've followed both Toby Marks and Oliver Lieb (two decades strong) did I hear of this. Yeah, I knew Lieb offered a rub on the Kincajou single, but I had no clue the remix favor was returned. Yet there it is, included on a supplemental record full of remixes and Vinyl Cuts care of L.S.G.'s original home of Superstition. Ah, hm, I think I see the problem there. Netherworld was the only real EP to emerge from Volume 2, and that was handled by Hooj Choons - I'd almost argue Netherworld was specifically custom-made for that print, so out of sync it was with the rest of Lieb's L.S.G. works around the time. Any other remixes of Volume Two tunes would undoubtedly get way overshadowed in this marketing scenario, so Jules Verne must thank his lucky stars Hooj picked up his rub as well. Hey, more Netherworlds, amirite?

As for Banco though, he took on the industrial-breaks of Get Out for his rub, and it's... okay, I guess. Right, so there's another reason I never heard of this before: no one really gave a toss about it. Lieb's go with Kincajou was already a stretch, and while ol' Toby brings some tribalistic drumplay in his take with techno, it's no surprise he seldom ever tried his hand at it (think Gnomes Mix of Kuos).

Another surprising remixer in that original vinyl collection is Terry Lee Brown, Jr.; aka: Norman Feller; aka: another classic German trance producer that shared some songcraft attributes with Lieb. Obviously they ventured on drastically different paths from this point, but it's cool seeing the two on the same record nonetheless. Mr. Feller even does something different with his rub, a typical Terry tech-house cut he was producing at the time, but with snippets of various tracks from Volume 2 thrown in. He called it Terry's Patchwork Of V. 2. Cute.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

36 - Void Dance

3six Recordings: 2015

Anyone worth their ambient salt these days knows about Dennis Huddleston’s 36 project, but it still feels like he flies under the radar. It’s that name, y’see, one of the most ambiguous handles you’ll ever come across in the world of music (remarkably, Lord Discogs states this is the second (2) usage of a ‘36’ alias). Good luck doing a Googling without the ‘ambient’ accompaniment, though why anyone would search for such a thing without that context is beyond me. It would be much easier if Mr. Huddleston wrote his musical nom de plume as it’s intended to be said: Three-Six, or even offered as his label, 3six Recordings. Ah, ahh, bet you were saying it as ‘Thirty-Six’, weren’t you! Okay, not you, who is all in the know about this stuff.

Name aside, Mr. Huddleston has built himself a tidy career this past decade, making his debut in 2009 with Hypersona, and steadily gaining all the plaudits along the way. He’s released nearly twenty albums and singles across various formats, been featured on Very Important Ambient blogs such as Headphone Commute and A Strangely Isolated Place, and playlisted by AstroPilot, ASC, and Ultimae Records. Not bad for a chap who’s somehow built his ambient mini-fiefdom primarily through independent means.

That said, I can’t comment on much of his music, as I’ve only taken in a few releases thus far. For some reason, I want to savor the mystique with the guy’s work, feeling his discography is an embarrassment of riches I shouldn’t binge on too soon. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the 36 brand of ambient is some sort of revolutionary, groundbreaking, immaculate sort, but damn if it doesn’t hit all the blissy triggers my brain-matter desires. His sound has been described as ‘glowing melancholy’, and I’ll say it’s apt.

Void Dance is 36’s seventh album (or eleventh if you want to include a series of tapes), which Mr. Huddleston claimed as culmination of his music writing up to that point. For an LP that is about as singularly ambient as ambient can get, there is a decent amount of diversity too. For sure you get the standard layered pads and droning timbre, but each track offers something different enough such that Void Dance doesn’t come off like an endless loop.

Hold On and the titular cut go the bright synth route, Equinox and Endless take a more modern classical path, while Stasis Eject, Nova, Diamond Rain, and The Last Light do the old-school, warble-crackly ambient sound. A couple tracks show a little rhythmic potential, Pulse Drive adding hi-hats and Tomorrow’s World getting its Berlin-School arps on. And let’s not leave Sine Dust out of this recap, such a lovely slice of melancholy ambient that includes ghostly vocals like so much future garage goes.

Oh yes, get yourself some Void Dance if you’ve yet to sample the 36 stylee. It’s a tasty entry point, even for folks unfamiliar with the genre.

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Things I've Talked About

...txt 10 Records 16 Bit Lolita's 1965 1966 1967 1969 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2 Play Records 2 Unlimited 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 20xx Update 2562 302 Acid 36 3six Recordings 4AD 6 x 6 Records 75 Ark 7L & Esoteric 808 State A Perfect Circle A Positive Life A-Wave A&M Records A&R Records Abasi Above and Beyond abstract Ace Tracks Playlists Ace Ventura acid acid house acid jazz acid techno acoustic Adam Freeland Adham Shaikh ADNY Adrian Younge adult contemporary Aegri Somnia Aes Dana Afrika Bambaataa Afro-house Afterhours Agoria Ajana Records AK1200 Akshan album Aldrin Alex Theory Alio Die Alphabet Zoo Alphaxone Altar Records Alter Ego alternative rock Alucidnation Ambelion ambient ambient dub ambient techno Ambient World Ambientium Ametsub Amon Tobin Amplexus Anabolic Frolic Andrea Parker Andrew Heath Androcell anecdotes Aniplex Anjunabeats Another Fine Day Antendex anthem house Anthony Rother Anti-Social Network Aphasia Records Aphex Twin Apócrýphos Apollo Apple Records April Records Aqua Aquascape Aquila Arcade arena rock Arista Armada Armin van Buuren Arpatle Arts & Crafts ASC Ashtech Asian Dub Foundation Astral Waves Astralwerks AstroPilot Asura Asylum Records ATCO Records Atlantic Atlantis atmospheric jungle Atomic Hooligan Atrium Carceri Attic Audion AuroraX Autistici Autumn Of Communion Aveparthe Avicii Axiom Axtone Records B.G. The Prince Of Rap Babygrande Balance Balanced Records Balearic ballad Banco de Gaia Bandulu battle-rap Beastie Boys Beat Buzz Records Beats & Pieces bebop Beck Bedouin Soundclash Beechwood Music Benny Benassi Berlin-School Beto Narme bhangra big beat Big Boi Big L Big Life Bill Hamel Bill Laswell BIlly Idol BineMusic BioMetal Biosphere BKS Black Hole Recordings black rebel motorcycle club Black Swan Sounds Blanco Y Negro Blasterjaxx Blend Blood Music Blow Up Blue Öyster Cult blues Bluescreen BMG Boards Of Canada Bob Dylan Bob Marley Bobina Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Boney M Bong Load Records Booka Shade Botchit & Scarper Boxed Boys Noize Boysnoize Records braindance Brandt Brauer Frick breakcore breaks Brian Eno Brian Wilson Brick Records Brodinski broken beat Brooklyn Music Ltd Bryan Adams BT Buffalo Springfield Bulk Recordings Burial Burned CDs Bush Busta Rhymes Calibre calypso Capitol Records Capsula Captured Digital Carbon Based Lifeforms Carl B Carl Craig Carol C Caroline Records Carpe Sonum Records CD-Maximum Ceephax Acid Crew Celestial Dragon Records Cell Celtic Cheb i Sabbah Cheeky Records chemical breaks Chihei Hatakeyama chill-out chiptune Chris Duckenfield Chris Fortier Chris Korda Chris Sheppard Christopher Lawrence Chromeo Chronos Chrysalis Ciaran Byrne cinematic soundscapes Circular Cirrus Cities Last Broadcast CJ Stone Claptone classic house classic rock classical Claude Young Clear Label Records Cleopatra Cloud 9 Club Cutz Cocoon Recordings Coldcut Coldplay Colette collagist Columbia Com.Pact Records comedy Compilation Comrie Smith Connect.Ohm conscious Control Music Cor Fijneman Cosmic Gate Cosmic Replicant Cosmos Studios Council Of Nine Counter Records country country rock Covert Operations Recordings Craig Padilla Crazy Horse Cream Creamfields Crockett's Theme Crosby Stills And Nash Crosstown Rebels crunk Cryo Chamber Cube Guys Culture Beat cut'n'paste Cyan Music Cyber Productions CyberOctave Czarface D-Bridge D-Fuse Dacru Records Daddy G Daft Punk Damian Lazarus Damon Albarn Dan The Automator Dance 2 Trance Dance Pool dancehall Daniel Heatcliff Daniel Wanrooy Dao Da Noize dark ambient dark psy darkside darkstep darkwave David Bickley David Morley DDR Deadmau5 Death Row Records Deejay Goldfinger Deep Dish Deep Forest deep house Deeply Rooted House Deepwater Black Def Jam Recordings Del Tha Funkee Homosapien Delerium Deltron 3030 Depeche Mode Der Dritte Raum Derek Carr Detroit DFA DGC diametric. Dieselboy Different DigiCube Dillinja dirty house Dirty South Dirty Vegas disco Disco Gecko disco house disco punk Discover (label) Disky Disques Dreyfus Distant System Disturbance DJ 3000 DJ Brian DJ Craze DJ Dan DJ Dean DJ Gonzalo DJ Heather DJ John Kelley DJ Merlin DJ Mix DJ Moe Sticky DJ Observer DJ Premier DJ Q-Bert DJ Shadow DJ-Kicks Djen Ajakan Shean DJMag DMC DMC Records Doc Scott Dogon Dogwhistle Dopplereffekt Dossier downtempo dowtempo Dr. Atmo Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Dragon Quest dream house DreamWorks Records Drexciya drill 'n' bass Dronarivm drone Dronny Darko drum 'n' bass drunken review dub Dub Pistols dub techno Dub Trees Dubfire dubstep DuMonde Dune E-Mantra E-Z Rollers Eardream Music Earth Earthling Eastcoast EastWest Eat Static EBM Echodub Ed Rush & Optical Editions EG EDM World Weekly News electro Electro House Electro Sun electro-funk electro-pop electroclash Electronic Dance Essentials Electrovoya Elektra Elektrolux em:t EMC update EMI Eminem Emmerichk Emperor Norton enCAPSULAte Engine Recordings Enigma Enmarta Epic epic trance Erik Vee Erol Alkan Escape Esoteric Reactive ethereal euro dance Eurythmics Eve Records Ewan Pearson experimental Eye Q Records F Communications Fabric Fade Records Faithless Fallen fanfic Fatboy Slim Fax +49-69/450464 Fear Factory Fedde Le Grand Fehrplay Feist Fektive Records Felix da Housecat Fennesz Ferry Corsten FFRR field recordings Filter filters Final Fantasy Five AM Fjäder Flashover Recordings Floating Points Flowers For Bodysnatchers Flowjob Fluke Flying Lotus folk footwork Force Intel Fountain Music Four Tet FPU Frank Bretschneider Frankie Bones Frankie Knuckles Fred Everything freestyle French house Front Line Assembly Fugees full-on Fun Factory funk future garage Future Sound Of London g-funk gabber Gabriel Le Mar Galaktlan Galati Gang Starr gangsta garage Gas Gasoline Alley Records Gee Street Geffen Records Gel-Sol Genesis Gerald Donald Get Physical Music ghetto Ghostface Killah glam Gliese 581C glitch Global Underground Globular goa trance God Body Disconnect Gorillaz gospel Gost goth Grammy Awards grime Groove Armada Groove Corporation Grooverider grunge Guru GZA Haddaway Halgrath happy hardcore hard house hard rock hard trance hardcore Hardfloor hardstyle Harmless Harmonic 33 Harold Budd Harthouse Harthouse Mannheim Hawtin Hearts Of Space Hed Kandi Hell Hercules And Love Affair Hernán Cattáneo Hi-Bias Records Hic Sunt Leones Hiero Emperium Hieroglyphics High Contrast Higher Intelligence Agency hip-hop hip-house hipno Hooj Choons Hope Records horrorcore Hospital Records Hot Chip Hotflush Recordings house Huey Lewis & The News Human Blue Hybrid Leisureland Hyperdub Hypertrophy hypnotic records I Awake I.F.O.R. I.R.S. Records Iboga Records Ice Cube Ice H2o Records ICE MC IDM illbient Imperial Dancefloor Imploded View In Charge In Trance We Trust Incoming Incubus indie rock Industrial Infected Mushroom Infinite Guitar influence records Infonet Inner Ocean Records Insane Clown Posse Inspectah Deck Instinct Ambient Instra-Mental Inter-Modo Interchill Records Internal International Deejays Gigolo Interscope Records Intimate Productions Intuition Recordings ISBA Music Entertainment Ishkur Island Records Italians Do It Better italo disco italo house Jack Moss Jam and Spoon Jam El Mar James Horner James Murray James Zabiela Jamie Jones Jamie Myerson Jamie Principle Javelin Ltd. Jay Haze Jay Tripwire Jaydee jazz jazz dance jazzstep Jean-Michel Jarre Jefferson Airplane Jerry Goldsmith Jesper Dahlbäck Jive Jive Electro Jliat Jlin Joel Mull Joey Beltram John '00' Fleming John Digweed John Graham John Kelly John O'Callaghan Johnny Cash Johnny Jewel Jonny L Jori Hulkkonen Jørn Stenzel Josh Wink Journeys By DJ™ LLC Joyful Noise Recordings Juan Atkins juke Jump Cut Jumpin' & Pumpin' jungle Junior Boy's Own Junkie XL Juno Reactor Jurassic 5 Kay Wilder KDJ Ken Ishii Kenji Kawai Kenny Glasgow Keoki Keosz Kerri Chandler Kevin Braheny Kevorkian Records Khooman Khruangbin Kid Koala Kiko Kinetic Records King Cannibal King Midas Sound King Tubby Kitaro Klang Elektronik Klaus Schulze Koch Records Koichi Sugiyama Kolhoosi 13 Komakino Kompakt Kon Kan Kool Keith Kozo Kraftwelt Kraftwerk Krafty Kuts krautrock Krill.Minima Kris O'Neil Kriztal Kruder and Dorfmeister Krusseldorf KuckKuck Kurupt L.S.G. Lab 4 Ladytron Lafleche Lange Large Records Lars Leonhard Laserlight Digital LateNightTales Latin Laurent Garnier LCD Soundsystem Leama and Moor Lee 'Scratch' Perry Lee Norris Leftfield Legacy Leon Bolier Linear Labs Lingua Lustra liquid funk Liquid Sound Design Liquid Stranger Live live album Loco Dice Lodsb London acid crew London Classics London Elektricity London Records 90 Ltd London-Sire Records Loop Guru Loreena McKennitt Lorenzo Montanà Lost Language Loud Records Loverboy Luaka Bop Luciano Luke Slater Lustmord M_nus M.A.N.D.Y. M.I.K.E. Madonna Magda Mali Mammoth Records Marc Simz Marcel Dettmann Marco Carola Marco V Mark Farina Mark Norman Mark Pritchard Markus Schulz Marshmello Martin Cooper Martin Nonstatic Märtini Brös Marvin Gaye Maschine Massive Attack Masta Killa Matthew Dear Max Graham maximal Maxx MCA Records McProg Meanwhile Meat Loaf Meditronica Menno de Jong Mercury Mesmobeat metal Method Man Metroplex Metropolis Miami Bass Miami Dub Machine Michael Brook Michael Jackson Michael Mayer Mick Chillage micro-house microfunk Microscopics MIG Miguel Migs Mike Saint-Jules Mike Shiver Miktek Mille Plateaux Millennium Records Mind Distortion System Mind Over MIDI mini-CDs minimal minimal tech-house Ministry Of Sound miscellaneous Misja Helsloot Miss Kittin Miss Moneypenny's Mixmag Mo Wax MO-DU Moby Model 500 modern classical Moist Music Moodymann Moonshine Moss Garden Motech Moving Shadow Mujaji Murmur Music link Music Man Records musique concrete Mutant Sound System Mute Muzik Magazine My Best Friend Mystica Tribe N-Trance Nacht Plank Nadia Ali Nas Nature Sounds Naughty By Nature Nebula Neil Young Neotropic nerdcore Nettwerk Neurobiotic Records New Age New Jack Swing new wave Nic Fanciulli Nick Höppner Night Time Stories Nimanty Nine Inch Nails Ninja Tune Nirvana No Mask Effect Nobuo Uematsu Nomad Nonesuch Nonplus Records Nookie Nordic Trax Norman Feller Northumbria Nothing Records NovaMute NRG Ntone nu-jazz nu-skool Nuclear Blast Entertainment Nulll Nurse With Wound NXP Octagen Offshoot Offshoot Records Ol' Dirty Bastard old school rave Ole Højer Hansen Olga Musik Olien Oliver Lieb Olsen Omni Trio Omnimotion Omnisonus One Little Indian Oophoi Oosh Open Canvas Opus III orchestral Original TranceCritic review Ornament Ostgut Ton Ott Ouragan OutKast Outpost Records Overdream Pantera Pantha Du Prince Paolo Mojo Parlaphone Paul Moelands Paul Oakenfold Paul van Dyk Perfect Stranger Perfecto Perturbator Pet Shop Boys Petar Dundov Pete Namlook Pete Tong Peter Benisch Peter Gabriel Peter Tosh Phonothek Photek Phutureprimitive Phynn PIAS Recordings Pink Floyd PJ Harvey Planet Dog Planet Earth Recordings Planet Mu Planetary Consciousness Plastic City Plastikman Platipus Plump DJs PM Dawn Poker Flat Recordings politics Polydor Polytel pop Popular Records Porya Hatami post-dubstep Prince Prins Thomas Priority Records prog prog psy Progression progressive breaks progressive house progressive rock progressive trance Prolifica Proper Records Prototype Recordings protoU Pryda psy chill psy dub Psy Spy Records psy trance psy-chill psy-dub psychedelia Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia Psychonavigation Psychonavigation Records Psycoholic Psykosonik Public Enemy punk punk rock Pureuphoria Records Purl Push PWL International Quadrophonia Quality Quango Quinlan Road R & S Records R'n'B R&B Rabbit In The Moon Radio Slave Radioactive Radioactive Man Radiohead Raekwon Ralph Lawson RAM Records Randal Collier-Ford Random Review Rank 1 rant RareNoise Records Rascalz Raster-Noton Ratatat Raum Records RCA React Red Jerry reggae remixes Renaissance Rephlex Reprise Records Resist Music Restless Records Rhino Records Rhys Fulber Ricardo Villalobos Riley Reinhold Rising High Records RnB Roadrunner Records Robert Miles Robert Oleysyck Roc Raida rock rock opera rockabilly rocktronica Roger Sanchez ROIR Rollo Rough Trade Rub-N-Tug Rumour Records Running Back Ruthless Records RZA S.E.T.I. Sabled Sun Salt Tank Salted Music Salvation Music Samim sampling Sanctuary Records Sander van Doorn Sandoz Sarah McLachlan Sash Sasha Scandinavian Records Scann-Tec sci-fi Scott Hardkiss Scott Stubbs Scuba Seán Quinn Segue Sense Sentimony Records Sequential Seraphim Rytm Setrise Seven Davis Jr. Shaded Explorations Shaded Explorer Shadow Records Sharam Shawn Francis shoegaze Si Matthews SideOneDummy Records Signature Records SiJ Silent Season silly gimmicks Silver Age Simon Berry Simon Heath Simon Posford Simple Records Sinden single Sire Records Company Six Degrees Sixeleven Records ska Skin To Skin Slinky Music Sly and Robbie Smalltown Supersound SME Visual Works Inc. Snap Sneijder Snoop Dogg Solar Fields Solaris Recordings Solarstone Solieb Soliquid Solstice Music Europe Soma Quality Recordings Songbird Sony Music Entertainment soul Soul Temple Entertainment Souls Of Mischief Sound Of Ceres Soundgarden Sounds From The Ground soundtrack southern rap southern rock space ambient Space Dimension Controller Space Manoeuvres space synth Spank Rock Special D speed garage Speedy J Spicelab spoken word Spotify Suggestions Spotted Peccary SPX Digital Squarepusher Squaresoft Stanton Warriors Star Trek Stardust Statrax Stay Up Forever Stephanie B Stephen Kroos Steve Angello Steve Miller Band Steve Porter Stijn van Cauter Stone Temple Pilots Stonebridge Stormloop Stray Gators Street Fighter Stuart McLean Studio K7 Stylophonic Sub Focus Sublime Sublime Porte Netlabel Substance Sun Station Sunbeam Sunday Best Recordings Superstition surf rock Sven Väth Swayzak swing Switch Sylk 130 Symmetry Sync24 Synergy Synkro synth pop synthwave System 7 Tactic Records Tall Paul Tammy Wynette Tangerine Dream Tau Ceti Tayo tech-house tech-step tech-trance Technical Itch techno technobass Technoboy Tectonic Terminal Antwerp Terra Ferma Terry Lee Brown Jr Textere Oris The Beach Boys The Beatles The Black Dog The Brian Jonestown Massacre The Bug The Chemical Brothers The Clash The Council The Cranberries The Crystal Method The Digital Blonde The Dust Brothers The Glimmers The Green Kingdom The Grey Area The Hacker The Human League The Irresistible Force The KLF The Misted Muppet The Movement The Music Cartel The Null Corporation The Offspring The Orb The Police The Prodigy The Shamen The Sharp Boys The Sonic Voyagers The Squires The Tea Party The Tragically Hip The Velvet Underground The Wailers The White Stripes themes Thievery Corporation Third Contact Thrive Records Tiefschwarz Tiësto Tiga Tiger & Woods Time Warp Timecode Tobias Todd Terje Tom Middleton Tomita Tommy Boy Ton T.B. Tone Depth Tony Anderson Sound Orchestra Tool Topaz Tosca Toto Touch Tourette Records trance Trancelucent Tranquillo Records Trans'Pact Transformers Transient Records trap Trax Records Trend Trentemøller Tresor tribal Tricky Triloka Records trip-hop Trishula Records Troum Tuff Gong Tunnel Records Turbo Recordings turntablism TUU TVT Records Twisted Records Type O Negative U-God U2 Überzone Ugasanie UK acid house UK Garage Ultimae Ultra Records Umbra Underworld Union Jack United Dairies United DJs Of America Universal Music UOVI Upstream Records Urban Icon Records V2 Vagrant Records Valiska Valley Of The Sun Vangelis Vap Vector Lovers Venetian Snares Venonza Records Vermont Vernon Verve Records VGM Vice Records Victor Calderone Vince DiCola Vinyl Cafe Productions Virgin Virtual Vault Virus Recordings Visionquest Vitalic vocal trance Wagram Music Warp Records Warren G Water Music Dance Waveform Records Wax Trax Records WEA Weekly Mini-Review White Swan Records William Orbit Willie Nelson world beat world music writing reflections Wu-Tang Clan Wyatt Keusch XL Recordings Yello Yes Youth Youtube YoYo Records Yul Records Zenith ZerO One Zoo Entertainment Zyron ZYX Music µ-Ziq