Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Prodigy - The Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One

XL Recordings: 1999

DJ mixes were proving rather bankable at the end of the '90s, some shifting equal numbers of units as LPs from established artists. Well shit, son, a few of those established artists were DJs before they made it big with their original productions. Wouldn't hurt to put out a mix or two while between albums, keep the brand out there, maybe drop a little music knowledge on unsuspecting crossover fans in the process. Actually, I don't think that worked. While working at a music shop when such mixes came out, every time a curious costumer only familiar with the radio hits would sample one, they couldn't figure out why there were so many songs all mashed together - they didn't even sound like the radio hits in the first place. (every. time.)

For those more boned up on rave culture, DJ culture, and trainspotting culture though, such mixes were fun items to indulge in. A chance to revisit history, hear the origins of famous samples, discover the influences of a current crop of stars, and be reminded that big acts like The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy had more in their arsenal than a knack for a catchy hook and a beefy beat.

The Dirtchamber Sessions was Liam Howlett's stab at a commercial DJ mix, and is as much a study in everything that created his unique brand of brash, bold dance music. Having come up through the sample-heavy era of DJing, laying out a dozen tunes in a computer-perfect sequence just wouldn't do for him either. There are forty-nine tracks listed in the credits, some barely twenty second snippets, all ranging from classic rave, vintage rap, bratty punk, and Madchester rock. Plus a Barry White tune lodged between Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, because why not?

There's also Bomb The Bass, Jane's Addiction, Frankie Bones, Sex Pistols, Meat Beat Manifesto, Herbie Hancock, James Brown, Ultramagnetic MCs (gotta' get in those Kool Keith verses), Digital Underground, Primal Scream, Renegade Soundwave, LL Cool J, T La Rock, KRS One, and loads more I'm not familiar with. Plus don't forget newer cats like Fatboy Slim, Propellerheads, and London Funk Allstars. The one that threw me for a loop though, was The KLF's What Time Is Love? - at that point I only knew them for their anthem house hits off The White Room. Of course the anti-establishment manifesto of Cauty and Drummond would be something Howlett would relate to, but all I thought was, “wow, never thought I'd hear such a commercial tune in a mix like this.”

As the above attests to, the tracklist is hectic and eclectic, with tons of mash-ups and quick mixes keeping the pace going. The Dirtchamber Sessions is also surprisingly short, not even forty-three minutes long. No sense blowing one's load in a Volume 1 I guess, but we never got a Volume 2. Might be interesting to hear a 'post-Millennium' follow-up, though I can't imagine it containing as dope of tracks as found here.

Canned Resistor - Cyberdrive BTA-MX85

Werkstatt Recordings: 2016

You'd think having a hardcopy release backed by an established label would generate background info I can dig through, but I'm getting a total blank on this Canned Resistor chap, not even a name. Cyberdrive BTA-MX85 is his lone entry within Lord Discogs' archives, the Bandcamp page offers nothing in PR blurbs, and comes up empty. There is a Facebook page that looks to have been set up in promotion for this album, but no biographical content. Well, except a relatively recent disgruntled post regarding dissatisfaction with his association with Werkstatt Recordings, and their lack of promotion behind Cyberdrive BTA-MX85.

Hey, not everyone can be Blood Music, rolling out the multi-vinyl options and whatnot. I imagine it's tough getting noticed in this synthwave scene though, entry level easy but craftsmanship and skill drowning in the swamp of amateur releases. Looks like even getting label backing sometimes isn't enough. Heck, I only discovered Cyberdrive BTA-MX85 because I was browsing through Werkstatt's Bandcamp, clicking on whatever cover art caught my eye. The fact Canned Resistor had enough of an ear-hooking sound for a purchase actually leaves me a bit gutted that his label problems won't see a follow-up anytime soon (if at all).

So this is a synthwave album, and really, it doesn't do much different from what I look for in such items. It's got the pulse-pounding 'outrun' tunes for your openers (Los Angeles 20XX, Neon Justice), a couple charming synth-pop ditties after that (Paradise, Dreamworld), the odd-ball tune that stands in stark contrast to its surroundings (Virtual Reality), another hype tune for a climax (Neon Vengeance), and the slower, downtempo cut as a closer (A New Dawn). But wait, don't forget that extra bonus hidden stinger uptempo cut at the end of A New Dawn! Almost feels like a teaser to a sequel that we may not get anymore. Oh yeah, Cyberdrive BTA-MX85 has a slight narrative going on – the usual post-cyberpunk thing – though isn't all that overt about it. Just something fun to hang the music off if that's your jam.

I can't say Canned Resistor's approach to synthwave will knock your Adidas off either, a little rougher and unpolished compared to the top-dogs of this scene. His melodies are catchy though, enough such that folks passing my listening sphere can't help but take notice (earned a couple “what's this?” inquiries at work). Virtual Reality has a seriously awesome vocal hook that EBM sorts could enjoy, and that's so weird, considering the previous Dreamworld is such a bouncy, light, heart-warming tune. Such diversity in songcraft shows Canned Resistor has a major leg up on most synthwave acts.

Really, the only significant fault I can levy on Cyberdrive BTA-MX85 is it's only seven tracks long (eight if you include the secret song). It comes off as a delicious appetizer, leaving me craving a full-course meal. That's more a regret than a criticism though, especially if this is all we're gonna' get from Canned Resistor.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Orb - COW / Chill Out, World!

Kompakt: 2016

Can we retire the talking point that every new album from The Orb is their best since [last best '90s album]? Like, obviously it is so, the group on a pretty good run of music making this past decade. We get that it looked as though they were done following [last worst '00s album], that they had nothing left to say or innovation to contribute. Seems though, that with every new LP they come out with, it's the same ol' praises of 'return to form'. How can they keep returning to form when they've been doing it for so long now?

This has been going on since, what, Metallic Spheres with David Gilmour? I'd say even The Dream was pretty good, thanks in large part to Youth's contributions, but I can understand why others wouldn't enjoy it as much as more recent efforts like Moonbuilding and The Orbserver In The Stars. What I'm getting at is we should be talking about The Orb's music as it relates to this current era, and not so much back-tracking to the early stuff. The classics will always be there, but they've enough modern material to judge it within their current phase/renaissance alone, so let's go forward with that, alright? Alright. That all said, COW / Chill Out, World! is probably The Orb's best collection of ambient dub since [last best '90s album].

Sorry, couldn't resist. It can't be helped though, what with the album title almost a direct callback to the O.G. chill out album, Chill Out from The KLF. There's even a cheeky nod to The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, with the final track titled The 10 Sultans Of Rudyard (Moo-Moo Mix). One could even argue this is a long, long, long awaited follow-up to Chill Out, in that COW indulges in that LP-length musical journey of samples, sounds, feelings and vibes. It's less about songs and dancefloor tools, and more about the blissful trip through pastoral scenery and fuzzy imagery.

Actually, what this album really sounds like is another record where Martin Glover is the driving force behind its musical direction. There's ample amounts of trippy dub production throughout, enveloping walls of reverb drone wrapping you in a warm blanket of sound, with no scratchy sample of ancient jazz, twangy guitar, or jungle fauna too divergent a path to take. Not that piano playing in Wireless MK2 and 9 Elms Over River Eno though, that's straight from the fingers of Roger Eno. I don't know what I find more astonishing: the fact that an Eno is playing with The Orb, or that it's taken this long for it to happen. Brian and Roger have appeared on plenty of compilations with The Orb, but is this really the first time either one has collaborated with Alex Paterson? The mind boggles.

COW / Chill Out, World! should definitively put to rest that The Orb are still as good as they've ever been. New narratives now, music journals!

Biosphere - Cirque

Touch/Biophon Records: 2000/2016

I never thought I'd own a copy of this album. Hear it as some point, sure, as most things old and adored eventually find their way onto streaming services. I might have even bought a digital version - that pile of hay growing on my back can only stack so high. But lo', I stumbled upon an online shop that had actual physical copies of Cirque available, after which I remembered that Microgravity had seen a recent CD re-issue. It didn't occur to me that Geir Jenssen would do the same for his out-of-print material from Touch, but thank lawdy he did, Cirque finally within my grubby hands. Now, about those Namlook and HIA collaborations...

I get ahead of myself. Cirque came out in the year 2000, the fourth official body of work Mr. Jenssen solely released under the Biosphere banner. Not if you include his score for the movie Insomnia, that is. No, not the Christopher Nolan flick with Pacino and Robin Williams; the original Norwegian version from which it was inspired from. Yeah, I can dig the Biosphere stylee fitting with a murder thriller set in the endless day of northern summer. Prior to that, he'd released a little instant-classic by the name of Substrata, to say nothing of his seminal ambient techno work earlier. Tough acts to follow, but considering Cirque is held in the same lofty alpine palaces as its predecessors, there must be something to it.

As with Substrata, the gradual move from pulp sci-fi towards earthly tones is evident in Cirque. You still get that icy, isolationist vibe though, like out in the remote reaches of wintery European realms, though Alaskan can do in a pinch (Cirque has a dedication note to Christopher McCandless, a backpacker that tried to traverse the Alaskan frontier – it didn't go well). Thus we get titles like Nook & Cranny, Miniature Rock Dwellers, Black Lamb & Grey Falcon, Algae & Fungi, and Too Fragile To Walk On. Because if you're inspecting the fauna Biosphere's homestead, you're likely not to find much else more more riveting than lichen.

And like Substratra, that sense of remoteness is accentuated by the minimalist approach Geir applies his craft here. For sure the music sounds full and immersive, but so often impossibly distant too. Nook & Cranny lazily lopes along with a dubbed-out rhythm as gentle strums echo towards the horizon. Le Grand Dôme gets a little groovier and bassy in its beats, but is no less obscured by its dub treatments. Iberia Eterea works in some jazz shuffle with its cold, precise melodies. Even the brisk d'n'b rhythms of Algae & Fungi are strangely obscured by their distant tone, despite their reverb enveloping you as though you're hearing it inside an ice cavern.

Throw in some tasty 'traditional' Biosphere tunes as a bonus with the 2CD re-issue, and you've another mesmerizing piece of work in Geir's discography. Makes holding out for a physical copy that much sweeter for your truly.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Oak Ridge Boys - Celebrate Christmas

Gaither Music Group: 2016

Greetings, Past-Peoples, 2073 Sykonee once again here. Ah, Christmas, I remember it well. The lights, the snow, the merriment, the togetherness. All that, now gone, gone, gone. Lost in a horrible post-apocalyptic Hellscape.

Haha, no, I'm kidding. Of course Christmas still exists in my time. The yearly celebration has endured in some form for hundreds of years, whether as paganistic rituals in honour of the winter solstice, religious rituals in honour of Jesus Christ's birth, or capitalist rituals in honour of defeating Communism. You don't wipe out that much Northern tradition just like that, no matter how much some over-reaching powers may try.

The Atomic Brotherhood understands this, and accepts that we'll find ways to celebrate Christmas in our own, unique ways. Sure, the longer winters have made the pagan history of the holiday redundant, we don't have much need of Christ worship here (that's more a Murican thing anyway), and the wanton need to consume things and stuff in service of a financial war doesn't apply to our way of life. Much of what we need is supplied by the Atomic Brotherhood, and since we don't need a whole lot, Christmas is all about togetherness, bringing everyone underneath a merry dwelling to celebrate that which we most cherish among each other, all under the glowing light of a nuclear powered pine tree. Yes, we still have pine trees. They're sturdy plants, y'know.

Which makes these Christmas albums from The Oak Ridge Boys a weird item to cover for yours truly. Heck, you probably think its weird that we'd all enjoy the country-gospel group at all, but their charming harmonies appeal to more of us than you'd believe. Not to mention relating to their ever-lasting durability as a group. Some theorize The Oak Ridge Boys have lasted so long thanks to the same radioactive alteration that gave us our extended lives. I can believe it.

But regarding their Christmas material – and there's a lot of it - we're ambivalent about it. We understand this stuff likely had more importance to their original fans back in your times, but we listen to it with historical perspective, as a reflection of a culture now lost. All these celebratory odes to the birth of Christ (Away In A Manger, Joy To The World, Come To The Manger, O Come, All Ye Faithful, Rest In You Tonight) had their place, I'm sure. However, when you play them in front of the Red Belters, a strange, maniacal frenzy seems to overtake them. Puts Cascadians at unease, you see, so it's only selective broadcasts, thank you.

So it's to the secular songs that we turn to more often. I'll Be Home For Christmas, Blue Christmas, Santa Claus Is Real, There's Nothing Between Us (But Love Anymore)... even Jingle Bells, I guess. Yeah, that ridiculous song's survived this long, somehow. The Oak Ridge Boys do all these classics justice in their indomitable, harmonious way. Still no Boney M, though.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Olan Mill - Cavade Morlem

Dronarivm: 2015

Olan Mill makes ambient music with a modern classical mindset. Or modern classical music with an ambient approach. Or drone music with a whole 'lotta strings. Or calm music that has nothing to do with Viking breakcore. I somehow feel that such a description still isn't specific enough, but there's only so many ways one can describe ambient music. It doesn't even have nifty unique 'narratives' I can wax poetic over like its darker cousin. Nay, this is ambient music in its purist form, in that it's relatively formless, abstract art best served as background texture, though accompanying a lovely video of natural settings or garden fauna doesn't hurt either.

As always then, it's up to the info surrounding Olan Mill to fill out my self-imposed word count quota. This is in fact a project headed up by Alex Smalley, who's been releasing music under this guise since way back in 2010 (holy cow, it's been seven years!). He also has another project with one Simon Bainton as Pausal, and while that one's also been releasing music since 2010, it isn't with as much frequency. Still, between the two, Mr. Smalley has accumulated around eighteen albums under his belt, across such labels as Serein, Preservation, hibernate, Barge Recordings, Students Of Decay, plus a DJ mix for Headphone Commute. Oh, a couple items on Dronarivm too.

Of what I can gather from sporadic samples, Olan Mill trends towards the more modern classically minded vein of Mr. Smalley's muse, whereas his Pausal material goes more ambient. Not that your typical layman will notice much difference between either project, but with my highly attuned music critic ears, I can indeed tell there's distinct instrumentation in Olan Mill, whereas Pausal tends to layer the timbre thick in pad and string drone.

Which makes Cavade Morlem a conundrum within ol' Alex' discography, in that it comes off more of a Pausal album than an Olan Mill one, at least with the limited examples of each project I've taken in. The music here started out as pieces performed live in concerts involving violins, guitars, plus samples of organs and voices, which fits the Olan Mill mould. Smalley then reworked those into comparatively serene compositions, where the inevitable Brian Eno namedrop is unavoidable. Heck, Byruck wouldn't sound out of place as a companion to An Ending (Ascent). Also, Gurriva reminds me of the outro portion of First Twilight from Deep Forest. Talk about your obscure callbacks.

While the actual arrangements don't differ much from track to track - flowing stretches of layered synths, strings, and sounds - they do offer differing textures dependant on which leads. Chort features prominent ethereal vocals, Novnal has angelic pads, Feina features shimmering strings, Lighul has an ominous tone, and Live At The Millenium Barn has a surprisingly heavy bottom end on its synths, like the power of a hefty church organ. It's all a rather vintage, classical take on ambient music, which only makes sense given the musician involved.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Vector Lovers - Capsule For One

Soma Quality Recordings: 2005

If I had spotted it in an A&B Sound, or an HMV, or even a (*snicker*) Best Buy, absolutely I'd have bought Capsule For One no matter the cost. Okay, reasonably so – such a CD selling for over thirty Canadian bones is too steep no matter how much I adore an artist. Seeing it at the 'regular price' of twenty-five on Amazon always put this on the back-burner though, longer, longer, longer, until it became a rarity on the standard market, price jacked to stupid amounts of money. Why it never occurred to scope out Soma Recordings own webshop, I can't explain. I just assumed they'd do business through Amazon like so many others, but nope, independent and remarkably affordable. I swear this isn't meant as a plug for Soma, just an overlong ramble-excuse on why I skipped out on Vector Lovers' sophomore album for so long. A very lame excuse, I cannot deny.

Now that I have taken in Capsule For One, enjoyed its various toy-box electro melodies, bobbled my head to its various tech-house grooves, skitter-skatterd my brain to its sporadic IDM beatcraft, and double-taked to actual sung lyrics in Melodies & Memory (not even by a robot! Maybe a kawii cyborg tho'), one question remains: would I have liked this when it was new?

Don't get me wrong – if nothing else, Capsule For One would have been a grower, an album that I'd come to appreciate even if it didn't blow my mind right out the gate. I can't understate the degree to which Vector Lovers' did though. An album that featured music and ideas I'd never heard before. Themes that appealed to both my casual enjoyment of sci-fi anime and lonely, lovelorn walks through big cities. Electro and house blended in ways I always imagined they should be, not as they currently were (dammit, 2005).

Capsule For One touches on these too, but not with the same poignancy as its predecessor, Martin Wheeler making room for braindance electro instead. Overall, it's a more aggressive album, getting on that hectic Detroit pace than the easy cruise of neo-Tokyo. When those minty spritely melodies crop up, it doesn't deter the propulsive momentum of tracks like Arrival, Metropolis, Substrata, Microton (that bassline!), Nostalgia 4 The Future, Boulevard and To The Stars. Even the chill moments seem uneasy with their surroundings, less nostalgic for times past and more apprehensive for the future we venture into.

Vector Lovers can still craft a tune that pulls the ol' heartstrings though, City Lights, Empty Building, Falling Rain, Melodies & Memory and Neon Sky Rain carrying similar tones and sounds as found on his debut. They come off a little lost among the tougher electro and techno, however, like characters intended for a different series. They're fine in providing chill downtime, necessary refuges in an ambivalent cityscape. I'm just missing that amazing album narrative from Vector Lovers, is all. Spoiled for choice as always.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Autumn Of Communion - Broken Apart By Echoes

...txt: 2016/2017

The Broken Apart series marked a change of direction for the boys behind Autumn Of Communion (Lee Norris and Mick Chillage, if you're just joining us). After a fruitful run of self-titled albums, the duo consolidated them into a memory stick box-set (mini-box!) as a summation of that period of work. Not that they were done working together, new material still being released at a steady pace after. Can't say I've heard much of it yet, but ooh, what I wouldn't give to nab a CD copy of Polydeuces. Say, 15% above regular retail?

Still, even if the creative embers between the two remained nice and toasty, there had to be an itch to try something unique. What else was there though? They'd both released music on CD and digital, had taken the move into box-sets, and everyone goes the vinyl or tape route as a collectible option (as if ...txt CDs weren't 'collectible' enough). Maybe try their hand at an ultra-deluxe DVD 5.1 recording, or go stupidly obscure with 8-tracks? Instead, they opted for the neglected CD3, otherwise known as the mini-disc. I'm surprised there's even still a market for them, but the computer I built this year still has the familiar indent in its disc tray, so I guess there is.

Thus it came to pass that the next major Autumn Of Communion project would focus on utilizing this format. Two sets would be produced, consisting of five individual tracks running the full twenty-two minute length of five mini-discs, contained within a box-set apiece. Naturally, I totally missed the boat on Broken Apart By Sunlight and Broken Apart By Moonlight, but hey, Lee & Mick had a few leftover tracks that ended up on one of ...txt's Nagual mega-compilation memory sticks. That wouldn't do for AoC completists though, an even extremely limited amount of Nagual sticks produced. So, the two tracks were released separately as Broken Apart By Echoes, first as a digital download, then on CD with an additional track. *whew* I think that finally brings us up to speed on this project. How many words left do I offer myself for the actual music then? Oh dear...

Broken Apart By Echoes Pt. 1 does the grand, wall-of-sound synth ambient drone thing, gently fading off in the back third into something a tad less opulent sounding. There's also a twitchy, oscillating transistor tone running throughout most of the track. Pt. 2 is a calmer, soothing piece of ambience compared to the former track, a little astro-chatter sprinkled in here and there among the gentle tones and blissy melodies. Pressure your planetarium DJ to play this one at some point. Pt. 3 brings the dubby ambient techno beats for half its runtime, then moving onto more conventional space ambient stylee for a lengthy lead-out. Think I like this one best, just because there's more going on in it than the other two. All are solid offerings though, as can be expected from Autumn Of Communion at this point.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cyril Secq & Orla Wren - Branches

Dronarivm: 2016

Can't say I've ever taken in an album of classical guitar music. Have I even dabbled? The closest I can think of is Michael Brook, but his Cobalt Blue was more an ambient thing, his guitar work another layer of timbre (especially that sweet 'Infinite Guitar' layer!). I must have a couple stray examples of the stuff lurking in this pile of music o' mine, yet the fact I can't instantly recall any doesn't bode well for its prospects. Like, is Jam & Spoon's Hispanos In Space really the best I can think of?

And yeah, all those prog-rock dudes for sure lay out some complicated, classically inspired segments in their works. They're still doing it within the confines of prog-rock though, with fellow band members contributing to the overall songcraft. No, I'm talking solo, acoustic, non-folksy, improvisational technical works. With such greats as... um, okay, I don't know anyone in this field. Even bringing up Wiki-Lists draws a complete blank on yours truly. Julian Bream? Xuefei Yang? Craig Ogden? John Williams? (no, not that John Williams) Yeah, I know shit all here. But hey, even doing this cursory research into the subject has jacked a solid info-dump into my brainpan, so there's that.

Which finally brings us to Branches from Cyril Secq and Orla Wren. The former formed the experimental French folk group Astrïd, while the latter often pairs up with acoustic string musicians to make clicky fuzzy abstract ambient folk-pop. I'm assuming the two were at least aware of each others work, as somewhere along the way, Orla roped Cyril into providing guitar work for his 2013 album Book Of The Folded Forest. Mind, several musicians contributed to that one, as is often the case with many Orla Wren albums, but the creative synergy must have held stronger between the two, going into a collaborative project together. Cyril will provide the strings, and Orla will provide the treatments.

No, really, that's about all there is to Branches. Mr. Secq's finger plucking is spacious and unfussy, the very definition of music as like a meandering stream of conscious flow. Or exploring the branching paths on the limb of a tree, as it were. Of the eight tracks, Troisième Branche uses violin strokes rather than acoustic strumming, while Sixième Branche and Huitième Branche mixes the two together. Regarding the types of guitar Cyril uses, 'fraid I can't help you there. As said, I'm woefully under-educated in the intricacies of classical acoustic music. It does all sound quite pleasant though.

As for Orla Wren, it seems as though he's taken a step back in this partnership, his minimalist sounds consisting of static burbles, clicking pops, sprinkling tonks, airy feedback, weird echoes, and the sort of random electronic noises you'd expect of musique concrete. You know, pretentious art! Heh, no, I'm ribbing - Branches doesn't come off nearly as stuffy. It is extremely avante garde though, clearly intended for intellectual sorts more interested in studying minutiae than a little easy-listening enjoyment.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ajna & Dronny Darko - Black Monolith

Reverse Alignment: 2017

I never intended to get into dark ambient. It was, at best, the type of genre that I happened across if an established act I enjoyed dabbled in it (Delerium, Juno Reactor, Bill Laswell). Still, I found it interesting, some cursory research into prominent albums intriguing me for sampling, but never would I have considered immersing myself into the scene. Then along came a happenstance crossing with Simon Heath, discovery of Cryo Chamber, and you all know the rest of the story. After two years of strictly following this one label though, I've grown itchy to hear if there's more out there I can vibe on. Is there ever a lot out there to sift through though, a scary intimidating domain one can easily get lost in, giving up in despair from the futility of it all. I need some guiding hands, artists within the Cryo Chamber fold who contribute elsewhere. Ah, Dronny Darko, he'll do.

I've gone over Mr. Darko's history well enough, so let's touch upon his partner for this particular project, Ajna. A bit of a busy-body the past half-decade, he's released nearly twenty digital EPs, a few albums, and has material on labels such a Petroglyph Music, Kalpamantra, and... Treetrunk Records? Heh, unusual name. Do they by chance specialize in 'roots' music? Haha, haha, ha- oh, it's experimental ambient (described as fractal/generative... g'uh?), phonography, and field recordings. Okay then. I can expect Mr. Ajna to be one of sorts of dark ambient composers then, with lots of spacious, empty drone, with subtleties drawing you deep within your sub-conscious. Sounds like a right proper pairing with Dronny Darko then.

Indeed so, the two collaborating a couple time prior to the release of Black Monolith. In fact, CD1 of this double-discer consolidates a couple of their singles released on Petroglyph Music, the three track EP Facing The Void, and the single track EP 1000 Years Of Cryosleep. At over forty-three minutes of empty desolation, broken up by intermittent discordant sounds and forlorn tones, the latter definitely feels like you're locked away in forced, perpetual slumber.

I'm not sure whether this was all intended as a prelude, but as those singles created a mini-narrative to hang off (essentially falling into a black hole, surviving the trip through cryosleep), it's nifty that Ajna and Darko followed it up, with Reverse Alignment presenting it as a two-CD feature. As expected, disc two of Black Monolith is what we find on the other side of this one-thousand year trip to the unknown. Seven tracks, each a perfect eight minutes in length (oh, Oleg), offer mysterious drone, claustrophobic sci-fi sound effects, and that general sense of unease one gets when exploring realms unfamiliar and unknowable.

Yeah, it's all rather 2001: Beyond The Infinite - what can you expect of an album titled Black Monolith? That sequence remains ripe ground for creative sorts, and while Ajna and Darko are treading concepts well explored, their complementary styles provide another worthwhile entry in this field.

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Things I've Talked About

...txt 10 Records 16 Bit Lolita's 1963 1965 1966 1967 1968 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 Ajna 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 Architects Of Existence 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 Aythar 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 Bicep big beat Big Boi Big L Big Life Bill Hamel Bill Laswell BIlly Idol BineMusic BioMetal Biophon Records 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 Canned Resistor 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 Christmas 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 Cryobiosis Cube Guys Culture Beat cut'n'paste Cyan Music Cyber Productions CyberOctave Cyril Secq 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 Darren McClure Databloem David Bickley David Guetta 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 Distinct'ive Breaks 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 Dusted Dynatron E-Mantra E-Z Rollers Eardream Music Earth Earth Nation Earthling Eastcoast EastWest Eat Static EBM Echodub Ed Rush & Optical Editions EG EDM World Weekly News Ektoplazm 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 Etnoscope euro dance Eurythmics Eve Records Everlast 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 Gaither Music Group 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 Grey Area 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 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 Jafu 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 Jiri.Ceiver 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 LFO 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 Masotto 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 Memex 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-Do 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 Nervous Records 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 Olan Mill 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 Orla Wren 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 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 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 Refracted reggae remixes Renaissance Rephlex Reprise Records Resist Music Restless Records RetroSynther Reverse Alignment Rhino Records Rhys Fulber Ricardo Villalobos Riley Reinhold Rising High Records RnB Roadrunner Records Robert Hood 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 Spiritech 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 Oak Ridge Boys 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 Wave Recordings Waveform Records Wax Trax Records WEA Weekly Mini-Review Werk Discs Werkstatt Recordings 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 Zomby Zoo Entertainment ZTT Zyron ZYX Music µ-Ziq