Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Prins Thomas - Principe del Norte

Smalltown Supersound: 2016

Along with Todd Terje and Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas formed a trifecta of Nordic producers with a love of chintzy disco music set among the stars. Heck, Thomas and the ‘strøm One started out as a producing duo, way back a decade past, and the trio have mingled off and on since. Prins put out a consistent stream of singles in the meantime, finally biting the solo album debut bullet in 2010, and remaining remarkably consistent in his output since, a fresh long player of music every two years. And lo’, earlier in this Dread Year Of 2016 (when the Dread Year wasn’t so dreaded), Mr. Thomas came correct with another album for our enjoyment, this time a double-LP effort. ‘Cause when five of your nine tracks average twelve minutes long, you gotta’ spread that stuff out over multiple plates of wax.

Principe Del Norte is also a small departure from Thomas’ typical brand of cosmic disco, the first CD casting its eyes to another form of ‘70s music less focused on dancefloors but no less rhythmic: Berlin space synth. Lots of pulsating arps, spritely pads, escalating sequencers, and all that good stuff. What it definitely is not, is ambient – far too much rhythm going on for that – though a nice chill vibe does permeate throughout. A1 provides a solid, throbbing low-end with its contrasting arps, A2 treads towards ambient techno’s domain, while B gets indulgent with effects for much of its running time. On side A of vinyl two, C starts feeding freely off those vintage kraut vibes, and D shows no fear in going as full space synth as one can without kicking out a standard beat – plenty of percussion though.

(note: a truly admire Thomas’ pisstake approach in how he titles his material – one of these days I’ll hear 2 the Limited, mark my words)

Alright, now that ol’ Prins got his artistic wankery good and out, time to turn on disc two for some right-proper club vibes. And Principe del Norte, Part Two doesn’t waste any time providing us with some boogaloo, E reusing elements of A1 and A2 for a bumpin’ bit of deep disco funk out on the moon. F opts for the swelling pads ‘n effects road, so show no shame if you need to reach for those lasers while grooving to this one. And G, well gee, if this one don’t beat all with its steady rhythm and shimmering arps – why, trance, is that you sneaking in again? Don’t worry, the nu-disco hipsters actually like you a little now. H, on the other hand, knows it’s taking us out at that 4am timeslot, and brings a deep tech-house grumbler filled with distant dub. No doubt Berghein approved.

So I liked this double-LP a good deal, as did many folks with more journalistic cred’ than I. No doubt Principe Del Norte is gonna’ feature on all the Very Important Year End lists. Better get this to claim you’re still ahead of the curve, then.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Kozo - Planned Penetration

Waveform Records: 2000

This has been an album that’s long intrigued me based on cover alone. Something about the saturated blues inexplicably tugs at a strange reservoir of nostalgic endorphins I did not know existed. Packed in a family Sedan at some point in the ‘70s, casually cruising a California suburb (or Okanagan road) in search of a place to rest in that brief period in dawn’s early blue-shifted light. I have no actual memory of such an event, not even an implied dream, yet the artwork on Kozo’s debut sparks such imagery within my brainpan just the same.

And that’s not all! Studying the cover a shade longer, a different form of brain matter sparkling starts flooding, that of musical expectation. Forget the lonely suburb street with the humdrum motel – take a gander at those power lines! Coupled with the color pallette, and I’m thinking all sorts of weird, experimental, glitch techno, or fuzzy Boards Of Canada weirdness. Now obviously, this being a release on Waveform Records, such could never be the case, but it intrigued me nonetheless. Who exactly is Kozo? What music might actually be contained behind that curious cover art? Do I really want to take a gamble on a CD from Waveform’s more ‘adventurous’ period, when there’s so much tried, tested, and true grooves found elsewhere within their catalog?

That, above all else, was the reason I held out on Planned Penetration for so long, unsure of what sort of leftfield vibes I might get with this album. But I’m slowly catching up with getting Waveform’s entire discography, so it was inevitable that Kozo would find its way into my collection (Liquid Zen next, finally?). And lo’, it was true there was something quite unexpected within his debut album, though I was not prepared for what awaited me within. For you see, Kozo Ikeno is a trumpeter extraordinaire, and boy does he let his skill shine on through.

Straight up, I am utterly clueless regarding the full scale of trumpet musicianship. I know of the jazz greats (Armstrong, Gillespie, Davis, Baker), but by no means have taken in much of their work. Thus, whether Kozo’s skill on the trumpet is comparatively ace or bunk, I simply don’t know. What I can tell you, is he alternates between open and muted playing (sometimes playing off each other), mostly with a distant, hall effect in place, and in a woozy way that at times sounds weirdly flat and dissonant. He also provides his own electro and acid jazz beats in support, very minimalist stuff with a few glitch stutters thrown in for good measure. At times it sounds pretty cool and otherworldly, like I’m lost in a drugged-up dream haze of a road trip gone awry.

Mostly though, I feel I’m missing something only true students of classic jazz would understand (and have I ever been skipping that class). Once I got used to what I was hearing, Planned Penetration did grow on me, but talk about your dashed expectations.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Segue - Over The Mountains

Silent Season: 2016

While Silent Season doesn’t have any particular core acts, there are a few producers who’ve frequently come back over the years. ASC’s practically made the label his second home now, while Purl, Shaded Explorer, and Edanticonf have contributed multiple times. One name that significantly sticks out for me, however, is Segue, as it was his album Pacifica that first drew my attention (that cover art!). It came out in 2013 though, when the Gospel Of Silent Season was thoroughly spreading out from the ranks of ultra, in-the-know dub techno disciples, so my crossing was inevitable. More interestingly, Segue was among the initial producers releasing material for the label’s 2007 netlabel launch – his Nostalgia EP ranks number two in catalog order. So, in a way, the adored dub techno print’s success might not exist without Segue’s help…? Yeah, that’s a stretch, but a fun little coincidence nonetheless.

Or maybe not, Jordan Sauer, the man behind the alias, originating from Vancouver. Makes sense then, the Silent Season posse would be familiar enough with his work to invite him over for a release or three. He’s floated about several labels since then, very little I’m familiar with (Sem Label, Dronarivm, Dtabloem), though he also had his own shared print in db (Duckbay). A fairly typical floater of a producer, all said, his most prolific output well in the past now. Guess Mr. Sauer was feeling a tad nostalgic for his homeland, returning to Silent Season once more, with an ode to those most rugged of West Coast terrains, the Coast Mountains. Sure, the Cascades get all the hype, what with their sexy volcanoes and geomorphic jewels (mm, Crater Lake…), but for pure, untamed alpine awesomeness, the Coastal Range is tough to beat our here in the West.

Some track titles will be instantly familiar to locals, though aren’t necessary to understand the music behind them. Sunshine Coast is all warm and fuzzy with glowing pads Boards Of Canada would swoon over, all the while a lazy hazy dub rhythm floats along. I know the folks around Gibsons are hippies (Green Party 4 lyfe), but maybe Sunshine Coast is a little too on the nose? Sea To Sky goes a similar dub route, spritely melodies sprinkling about as a heavy bottom end grounds the listener. Deep Valley has more a charming jaunt going for it, while Summits & Spires is almost a lullaby with its languid synths and deep dub. And hey, while you’re hanging out on these alpine glaciers, take in a little Aurora, opening Segue’s rich sound into a wide nightscape canvas?

I suppose the other tracks work for the setting, though they’re more generalized to any ol’ mountain range: Celestial, Exposure, Alpenglow. They too keep to Segue’s languid dub techno pace, though with the ample amount of local field recordings Jordan injects into his tracks (so much bird song in Exposure), it helps keep Over The Mountains firmly within British Columbia’s realm. Okay, maybe a little Cascadia too.

Halgrath - Out Of Time

Cryo Chamber: 2012

See, that was a decent little gap between Cryo Chamber releases, at least a week’s worth of time before returning to the dark ambient label once more. The Dread Year 2016, however, demands no less than two morbid musical offerings on my homepage at all times, and woe be unto thee who dare besmirch the Dread Year’s decree. All this suffering I’ve endured throughout the month of November? ‘Tis my penance for indulging a Summer Of Trance, seeking epic uplifting refuge from our dire times. Thus I will not taunt moody serious 2016 any longer, keeping as steady a stream of dark ambient as need be. I mean, I can’t afford to lose hearing in both ears, now can I?

Halgrath (or Agratha Mirrait, if you wish) was one of the earliest additions to Cryo Chamber after Simon Heath launched the label in 2012, back when the print was mostly a means of self-releasing Sabled Sun and Atrium Carceri material. Makes sense Mr. Heath would invite Ms. Mirrait over, as they both were featured on Cold Meat Industry before that seminal dark ambient label folded. In fact, Halgrath’s Arise Of Fallen Conception was among Cold Meat’s final releases. There’s a ‘from death, comes rebirth’ metaphor here, I just know it. Comes with this scene no matter where you go.

Out Of Time marks Halgrath’s debut with Cryo, featuring the sort of dark ambient I’d long associated with the genre as its default stylee. There’s bleak droning pieces (Down, Here, He Led Me Through The Dark Caverns), noisy industrial sonic attacks (Dark Dusty Corner, Lethal Injection, The Resistance), and meditative compositions drawing upon the occult for inspiration (Horoathea Mass Of Aegorath, Deep Underwater).

This last one makes sense hearing on this album, Halgrath having a background in opera – exploring aspects of Dark Ritual is part her whole manifesto. I mean, if an opening track of Summoning Of The Goddess wasn’t enough of a clue, I don’t know what to tell you. I was honestly surprised Out Of Time didn’t have more of that ethereal ambient going for it, offering more variety within its twelve tracks than most dark ambient projects offer in their whole discographies. We even get cinematic orchestral pieces (Follow Eternity, The Light Of The Earth’s Spheres) and melancholic piano dirges (We’ll Go Through Sorrow, Holding Each Others Hands). Pretty sure that’s every sub-category dark ambient indulges in, save outright nightmare-inducing field recordings, though I’m sure Halgrath could do that too if she wanted.

Out Of Time isn’t really the album for that. Seems the themes explored here are about souls lost in limbo, wandering between life and death, uncertain of where their hearts pull forthwith. Or is it about those who’d use a ritual to journey within limbo itself? Such is the narrative I get as this album plays out, each piece another step in going deeper into the nether-realms beyond our own. Aw, it ain’t that bad on this side, is it? *2016 lurks over shoulder*

Friday, November 25, 2016

Space Dimension Controller - Orange Melamine

Ninja Tune: 2016

I thought I’d have talked about Space Dimension Controller well before now, his Welcome To Mikrosector-50 a most pleasant surprise of an album when it came out in 2013. Then again, I thought I’d have nearly completed this massive listening project too, well passed the ‘W’s, and maybe even considering taking on the first few letters again for this blog’s completionist sake. Then again-again, I should have known more music would have come into my collector’s gravitational pull, sucked into my domain like so much cosmic detritus. My desire to consume everything and all knows no bounds, more insatiable than an unholy merger of Galactus and Unicron (Galacticron?). Good God, imagine if I could actually afford all that I wished to buy? I’d probably still be somewhere around the ‘G’s! (so much fabric, so much Global Underground)

Jack Hamill, the young man controlling all this space dimension, has kept a sporadic rate of output since first emerging with the moniker in 2009. R & S Records gave him his first major break in promoting his early singles and proper debut album, but he’s floated among a few other prints in the meanwhile too: Kinnego Records, Royal Oak, and now Ninja Tune. Whoa, talk of unexpected developments – what would the Ninja crew have in mind with a producer primarily focused on electro and loving nods to Detroitism?

Releasing the Space Dimension Controller archives, it seems. Orange Melamine unearths material from Jack Hamill’s teen years, back when he was still figuring things out about where he’d take his wayward muse in love with retro sounds. Seems the UK underground was just as much on his mind, as this album’s filled with jittery, post-dubstep beatcraft, a style Ninja Tune has shown plenty of interest in (at least, much more than R & S). In fact, Orange Melamine has a fair bit in common with all those influenced by Burial’s romanticism of clubbing days gone by, crackling hazy recollection of music from a fondly remembered Before Time. Rather than getting all misty-eared over UK garage and grime, however, Mr. Hamill has his muse set on retro-future sci-fi, as heard through the archaic crusty technologies of the 20th Century. For real, when I first heard The Bad People’s opening warbling distorted arps, I thought my headphone wire had a faulty connection!

Orange Melamine is a conflicting listen, one ear firmly in pulpy futurism, another in nostalgic fuzz, loosely held together with scratchy beats like so much sonic duct tape. Even the track titles flit between such sentiments - Adventures In Slime And Space, Multipass, Melting Velcro Shoes, Leader-1 (wait, the Go-Bots character?). Other times Mr. Hamill dabbles in simpler influences, like freak-out acid rave (Los Locos, Velvet Gentleman), pure electro funk (Gullfire), or Boards Of Canada trip-hop (Volvo Estate). It’s also all rather under-written compared to later works from Space Dimension Controller, but that’s unsurprising consider Jack’s age when making these. Definitely worth a playthrough though, if only for a different take on retro-future sounds.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fear Factory - Obsolete

Roadrunner Records: 1998

How does one follow an album that creates an entirely new form of metal in the process - a unique genre cross-breeding with industrial while never losing sight of its thrash roots, and that few would or could replicate for years to come? By getting super-artistic, naturally, settling for nothing less than a high concept ‘rock opera’ opus, exploring ideas and expanding themes only touched upon in Demanufacture. Fear Factory would fully commit to an LP narrative, with a distinct Three-Act story, all the while pushing their songwriting abilities beyond the full-throttle intensity that marked their prior work – so many different time-signatures, mang! It would be bold, it would be unprecedented, it would challenge metal in daring, new- wait, are those record scratches in Edgecrusher? Oh no, it’s too soon to hop on the nu-metal bandwagon!

Obsolete (or ºBSΩLE†e, if you’re ace with your character map) was ambitious for a third recording effort, one that could have flopped had Fear Factory overreached their ability. Instead, the album would go on to be their best selling record, though clearly feeding off the positive buzz Demanufacture and touring generated (also, that cover of Gary Numan’s Cars, which obviously fit nowhere here). Things were definitely looking toppers for Fear Factory then, but a series of unfortunate incidents following Obsolete’s release put a serious grind on the band’s future prospects. Those are musings for another time though, if I ever review any of their albums between this and Genexus (not very likely).

The setting for Obsolete should be familiar to anyone clued into the band’s dystopian outlook, laying the future-shock stage plainly with opener Shock. Follow-up Edgecrusher gives us our protagonist – or antagonist if you’re cheering for the machine overlords – and aforementioned wiki-wikis aside, is a solid bit of groove-mosh. Stomp-thrasher Smasher/Devourer introduces us to the Edgecrusher’s foe, a police mech run amok (“you’re a loose cannon, Literal Walking Cannon!”), while Securitron (Police State 2000) gives us the ruling overseers keeping the rabble in check. All par for the course in this sort of tale.

The middle portion of the album gets into the society in revolt, ol’ Edgecrusher helping stoke the fires for freedom against humanity’s oppression from the robotic ruling class. This being Fear Factory, the titular cut doesn’t mince words in letting the silly homo sapien populus know their place in this strange forbidding world. Having original robot-fetish singer Gary Numan provide a digitized bit of opening dialog certainly helps sell that notion (hey, you already got him featuring in that Cars cover). Ol’ Edgecrusher seeks salvation of a sort in Resurrection, where the band’s propensity for grand theatrics soar high, ending the album on an uplifting, hopeful outlook for this ruined society.

No, wait, there’s one more track, Timelessness, a mournful dirge complete with backing orchestra (thanks, Rhys Fulber!). Seems our salvation was for naught, Edgecrusher captured and carted off to jail after all. Machinery always wins out in Fear Factory’s world. Resistance is futile.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sound Of Ceres - Nostalgia For Infinity

Joyful Noise Recordings: 2016

It had to happen eventually, genre lines so blurred these days as to fool even studious record store clerks. Yet maybe shoegaze has come far along in its development that it’s abandoned all pretense of being part of the Rock Domain, more content hanging out with dorky ‘electronica’ folk. This may just be the new normal, stumbling upon ‘dream pop’ where I typically hunt for techno and jungle. Still sends a strange shiver over my shoulder though, music that once was out in the indie racks now sneaking into my unsuspecting ears.

Gads, what an incredibly narrow-minded take on music. What if there is something in shoegaze pop that could win me over? Hey, I don’t doubt there is, but it’s not high on my bucket list. Truthfully, I’d probably have never given Sound Of Ceres a chance if I had any prior knowledge of them, or even took a pre-listen in the shop, their tunes just not what I was after that sunny day in Seattle.

But nay, I went in blind, lured by the intriguing cover art and suggested promise of music with a cosmic bent. Such was the idea behind this particular band anyway, the genesis of Karen and Ryan Hover looking to expand their earlier dream pop work as Candy Claws into something grander. It certainly is that, Nostalgia For Infinity the sort of thickly layered shoegaze that’s instantly catchy to the ear, yet contains so many little details, there’s always something new to hear with each playback. Eh, that’s part of the Sound Of Ceres manifesto too? Ah yes, the concept of ‘five orbits’, as presented in the album’s liner notes, each sonic layer a descending orbit for the listener to traverse. I can’t tell if that’s artistically pretentious, or musically playful. All shoegaze is like this, isn’t it?

Still, it’s a concept I can buy into. At first impression, Sound Of Ceres does the dream pop thing as fine as I’ve ever heard (disclaimer: not a whole lot), with Karen’s wispy floating vocals almost subsumed by layers of reverb. I have to pay actual attention if I’m to decipher her lyrics, after which I start noticing finer details in the instrumentation (guitar tones, electro drum kits, field recordings, retro synths, plucky electronics). For the most part, it feels like I’m listening to a long lost slice of Boomer psychedelic pop, all the folksy Americana of Brian Wilson’s best work, but fed through an idealistic, introspective lens with modern production chops. Oh, and final track Dagger Only Run reminds me a lot of Gorillaz’ Empire Ants - very similar cascading synth arp between the two. Or is that just a dream pop staple regardless? I honestly don’t know.

Maybe one day I’ll learn all there is to know of this genre. For now though, Sound Of Ceres provided a pleasant diversion from my same ol’, same ol’. In fact, it came off too sunny for this particular month. Must return to next April.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Tiga - No Fantasy Required

Counter Records: 2016

For someone who seems primed for a glorious run wading through the pop charts, Tiga sure doesn’t like venturing there often. Every time he comes out with a new album with a couple instantly catchy club tunes radio stations wouldn’t have much problem playing, he retreats to the DJ circuit instead. Even after adopting a new live show in support of his third full-length No Fantasy Required, Mr. Sontag’s back to the relatively safe confines of rinsing out records on a regular basis. Not that I blame him for keeping to the scene that nurtured his rise from the early Montreal raves to globe-trotting stardom – the actual pop scene is a vicious, cruel mistress, more than capable of gnawing you to raw pulp before spitting you into a gutter. Tiga has no problem flirting with said mistress, but is wise enough to know any long-term engagement leads to more trouble than it’s worth.

Which in part explains the long wait between Ciao! and No Fantasy Required, seven years in the making. Mr. Sontag had definitely kept busy in the interim, releasing nine singles in that time. That’s almost enough for an LP right there, but only a few show up in this album, primarily the most popular of his quirky club anthems (Plush, Bugatti). Aww, no 100 with Boys Noize? Guess that one was too much of a one-off milestone to make sense in an album context. Also missing are a number of Audion collaborations (Fever, Let’s Go Dancing), but Matthew Dear lends his hand on a clutch of new tracks for No Fantasy Required anyway, so it’s a wash there.

I’m honestly surprised Dear’s serious approach to techno worked well enough with Tiga’s more playful style, 3 Rules’ goofy bounce as mischievous as anything Mr. Sontag’s done with Jori Hulkkonen. Less interesting is the Hudson Mohawke collaboration Planet E, the sort of moody acid cut with pitched-down vocals I honestly thought had gone by the wayside as of late. Really, the whole middle portion of No Fantasy Required drags with serious techno groovers, save a light, poppy deep house offering of Tell Me Your Secret where Tiga’s earnest singing shines wonderfully.

It’s these moments that serve No Fantasy Required best, highlighting Tiga’s ease with introspection even as nonsensical faux-posh ‘bugatti’ quips are what folks generally remember him for. The titular opener, Make Me Fall In Love, Don’t Break My Heart, and Blondes Have More Fun offer some of the deepest vibes ever heard on a Tiga LP, and stand in stark contrast to the motionless club tunes that eat up the album’s middle portion. Maybe it’s that Stuart Price factor.

Oh yeah, Price is here too, providing “Musical Assistance” to No Fantasy Required and Don’t Break My Heart. Talk about your ‘set pop stars retreating from the limelight all in together’ narratives! Like, I know The Thin White Duke kept busy with Pet Shop Boys, but you sure didn’t hear about it compared to those Madonna and Killers collaborations.

Perturbator - Night Driving Avenger

Blood Music: 2012/2015

The debut EP from Perturbator, self-released way back in ye olde age of early 2012 (before the dark times… before the Orange Emperor). Naturally, when Blood Music started reissuing his back-catalog, they went to bat with multiple limited-edition coloured records, a standard digipak CD, but no tape for this outing. Huh, guess that collector’s scene isn’t as obsessive as others if they can’t be bothered with singles. Why, back in my day, when tapes were all I could afford, I bought singles, absolutely. Okay, only a few – Bad Boys Blue’s Go Go (Love Overload), Intermission’s Piece Of My Heart, and 2 Unlimited’s Maximum Overdrive - but the market was there even in the waning days of commercial cassettes, so surely it exists in these waxing days of novelty cassettes. I’m honestly surprised Blood Music didn’t offer up a tape option for at least Night Driving Avenger.

I’ve also realized, despite having written three reviews of the chap, I haven’t delved much into James Kent’s pre-Perturbator fame. Right, there isn’t much to tell, but I’ve gotta’ burn some word count with a fresh angle, so here’s a few tidbits. He played guitar in various metal bands prior to adopting synths, which I can definitely hear in the way he constructs his tracks (lots of half-time bridges, which metal adores) - finally that Blood Music tie-in makes sense. His pop’s also apparently a well-known rock scribe, Nick Kent having written about punk music during that scene’s rise during the ‘70s, and publishing articles in all manner of respected rags (NME, Spin… Guardian?). Seems the Elder Kent also got into scuffles with some of punk’s icons, including Sid Vicious and Adam Ant. Hm, does this mean if James wants to live up to his father’s legacy, he’s gotta’ get it on with Simon Reynolds or Philip Sherburne? Okay, that’s enough.

Night Driving Avenger is a handy little primer into what the Perturbator style generally entails, each track touching upon his various types of songs. Opener Grim Heart does the moody, cinematic build, the sort of music you’d expect of credit sequence at the start of an ‘80s pulp film. Electric Dreams goes slower, synthier, and introspective. The titular cut ups the tempo into a pulse-pounding action thrill ride, and Miami Sunsets brings it all together into synth-pop’s realm as our hero/heroine rides off into a neon-soaked boulevard. Oh, plus a charming chiptune cover of Flock Of Seagull’s I Ran, called I Ran To The Arcade. Cute.

What isn’t cute, however, is the mastering on this EP. Dear Lord, but is there ever a lot of muddy side-chaining, with no dynamics to speak of. I know much of Perturbator’s music is generally brickwalled, but it usually adds to the gritty dystopian nature of his tunes. Not here though, the Young Kent clearly still figuring his way around production. Rather remarkable, then, he got the knack of it so quickly with later releases. Shame Blood Music didn’t give Night Driving Avenger a remaster though.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Martin Nonstatic - Nebulae Live At The Planetarium

Ultimae Records: 2016

Ultimae Records has put out a few live recordings in the past, but it’s not one of their main selling points. Even then, it’s mostly via the label’s second-tier acts, like Cell, Circular, and Scann-Tec. And even then-then, such releases are regulated to the digital-only realm, hard copies extremely rare. Their last live CD was H.U.V.A. Network’s Live At Glastonbury Festival 2005, released in 2010. Guess Ultimae was overdue for another regardless, but it feels odd they’d give Martin Nonstatic the honors, a relative new recruit to the French label’s ranks. Then again, it’s not like the print’s fielding a deep roster as of late, options for a ‘second-tier act live album’ exceedingly small. Heck, at this point, Martin’s practically part of the starting bench, one of the few artists with a full-length album out on Ultimae in the last few years.

Previous Ultimae live LPs featured recordings taken from festival performances, but Nebulae Live At The Planetarium comes from a more intimate setting. Aww, no crowd cheering ambience? Of course not, folks at the Zeiss Planetarium in Bochum, Germany likely far too tripped out on the dome projections, man. Unfortunate there isn’t an accompanying DVD video though, displaying the visual splendor of the event as the music within plays along. Then again, how can you replicate a planetarium projection at home? Clearly a typical TV or computer screen won’t cut it. Even a home projector doesn’t do justice, still reliant on flat surfaces like a wall or ceiling. And what about the lasers, man? Everyone knows a good electronic music show at a planetarium’s gonna’ have a far-out laser show. Eh, I’m not fussy, at least some YouTube clips of the event would suffice. No dice? *sigh*

Forget the visual aspect then. At least we’ll get to hear some nifty reinterpretations of Mr. Nonstatic’s tunes. Slight problem in selling that angle though, at least in my case: I honestly can’t recall much of his music. For sure I know I liked what I heard from his Ultimae debut Granite, and should I pop that album on again, I know I’ll enjoy his chilled-out, dub techno vibe just the same. As I mentioned in my review of that CD, however, very little of it sticks to my brain matter, and playing Nebulae back, I honestly didn’t notice any significant differences based on memory alone. I do have sparks of recollection in some songs – the low throb of Granite, the guitars of Distance B, the heavy dub of Out Of Silence - but aside from a more expansive mixdown benefiting a live planetarium show, I couldn’t tell you the difference between these and the album versions without side-by-side comparisons. Which I can’t say I’m interested in doing for this CD.

Really, I was hoping for more tunes from Martin’s back catalog, but ultimately Nebulae is just a remixed version of Granite. A fine downtempo, dub techno album for sure, but hardly necessary if you’re not interested in the sound.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Souls Of Mischief - Montezuma's Revenge

Clear Label Records: 2009

I always wondered what ‘Montezuma’s Revenge’ meant, figuring there was more to it than a kick-ass ride at Knott’s Berry Farm (The G-forces!! The G-forces!!). I thought it was fanciful Mexican folklore, the famed ninth Aztec emperor Moctezuma II arising from the dead to exact vengeance on the Spanish Conquistadors who killed him and murdered his people. So when I heard Souls Of Mischief had an album out of the same title, my first thoughts was something along those lines, except it was a case of indie, conscious hip-hop making its revenge upon the oversaturated ‘pop-rap’ of the time – everyone was bemoaning hip-hop’s death by the late ‘00s, after all. Then I discovered the general meaning of ‘Montezuma’s Revenge’ in today’s society, which yes, I admit, has eluded me all this time (count my blessings, yo’). Ah, now it all makes sense when asked about the title’s meaning, Tajai quipped, “The deeper meaning is the album will make you crap yourself.”

However you read it, Montezuma’s Revenge was seen as something of a rebirth for the Hieroglyphics foursome, their first album together after nearly a decade of simmering solo projects. A-Plus, Phesto, Opio, and Tajai didn’t have plans for a reconvention of their MC powers, but a passing Prince Paul expressed interest in working with the Oakland crew, which sounds like an all-star project the likes backpackers around the globe could only dream of. One of the preeminent producers of indie hip-hop paired with one of the most respected groups from the Golden Years, all hanging out in the same studio, unleashing all their potential creativity into a mega-reunion collaboration super-project! Or not.

I admit the Adrian Young project There Is Only Now spoiled me some towards what a Souls reunion could truly entail. For sure there’s nothing to find at fault with Montezuma’s Revenge, as the group sound as fine as they ever have, and Prince Paul handles the dials with sleek professionalism while throwing a few trademark quirks in for good measure. And when compared to what hip-hop was doing on the charts in 2009, the laid-back beats and witty verbal dexterity on display must have been a welcome respite for the old-school heads. It’s just, with all the players involved, one kinda’ hopes for a little more than what we got here. A new modern-classic rather than experienced vets giving us acceptable examples of their tried and true abilities. Even Prince Paul has a bit of a pisstake with it all, a guest “Mr. Freeman” calling into the studio telling the lads they need to drop that “old-school shit, son”. And indeed Souls Of Mischief would, after teaming up with Adrian Young for that new modern-classic everyone had been dying for since ’93 To Infinity.

Montezuma’s Revenge feels more like a warm-up to the Souls’ resurgence in the current decade, a trial-run before all the members embarked upon bold new territory. Lord knows they needed it, and Prince Paul was more than capable in lending a hand.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Aegri Somnia - Monde Obscure

Cryo Chamber: 2015

Oh, dark ambient, may you wrap your bleak, inky tendrils over my confused being, leading me into dreams, reflections, and realms that are as twisted reality to our own. The Dread Year Of 2016 shows no remorse, but it cannot compare to the strangeness your scene provides in a multitude of ways. Near futures where we blew it all up (us maniacs!), peaks into dimensions perverting our hypercritical sense of moral decency into twisted parodies upon ourselves, inner and outward sojourns into extreme isolation from humanity’s failings, pondering how the self can carry on in the face of so much strife and decay. Forever searching for those specks and glimmers of light and hope in an unyielding chaos of black.

I did not intend for this genre to provide so much escapist solace this year, but damn if it doesn’t do the job better than most of my traditional standbys. Or maybe it’s that whole ‘new novelty’ factor, sounds and songcraft that is fresher for yours truly. Oh, but that’s just so much less poetic.

Anyhow, Monde Obscure is yet another Cryo Chamber album I’m reviewing, because of course it is. I promise though, this will be it from the label for… a little while? There’s only a few left in this endless backlog, so they gotta’ be spaced out better than this last batch of EVERY. OTHER. CD. Though I’m quite enraptured by a lot of this label’s output, a little more variety needs to kick in soon. I didn’t undertake this wacky listening project just to hear the same ol’ over and over.

ANYhoo, this album comes from Aegri Somnia, or Jurica Santek to the Croatian Crab-Lovers Committee [citation needed]. The Latin alias translates to ‘The Patient’s Dreams’ in Google, referring to fever dreams, or dreams induced from madness – something to do with a suffering sickness. And while the project has existed in some capacity over the last decade, Mr. Santek hasn’t done too much with it, a sprinkling of a smattering of released material over that time. Still, with digital albums like Nothingness and Script, he developed enough of a cult following (yeah yeah, ‘cult’, ‘dark ambient’, har har), that Cryo Chamber gave him the greenlight to put out a new album under their banner, spiffy hardcopy CD and all.

With cover art of a burnt-out husk of an apartment tower, you’d expect Monde Obscure some post-apocalyptic business, but the tale behind this album is a much different. Rather, this charred building serves as a portal to another realm, one not for the faint of heart. As dark ambient records go, this one is heavy on the field recordings, music almost incidental to the whole. There are snippets of piano, pad, choir, and tonal drone, but Mr. Santek would rather guide you through creaking infrastructure, dripping water, burning hallways, and distant echoes of crowds shuffling beyond this mortal coil. Feels like I’m playing one of the good Silent Hill game while listening to this.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sounds From The Ground - The Maze

Waveform Records: 2010

It took nearly fifteen years, but Elliot Jones and Nick Woolfson had finally found a way to evolve their sounds from the gound. They had to have been itching for something new after all that time, but their craft with ambient dub was so skill, there wasn’t much need to mess with the formula. True, they did some nu-jazz and trip-hop explorations too, yet so did everyone else in the downtempo scene around the turn of the century, so their efforts mostly got lost in the glut. Perhaps that’s why they ended up back with Waveform Records shortly after, a sturdy, steady print with a small enough roster they wouldn’t be buried in the process. Only drawback may have been Waveform’s dedication to the spliff’d side of chill vibes, but Sounds From The Ground maneuvered those waters far better than most throughout the mid-‘00s, milking the style nearly up to our current decade.

As I said though, changes were afoot, required even. Waveform itself was moving ever so slowly into contemporary sounds found on the crusty festival circuit, new cats on the scene embracing digital production over the sample-heavy style of the ‘90s. After so many years doing the dubby trip-hop thing, Sounds From The Ground finally embraced a comparatively ‘plastic’ aesthetic as well. The Maze was their first effort in this bold new realm of psy-dub electro!

Whoa, wait, that’s way too much overselling for this album. Its different compared to their prior work, but on a song-writing level, not that much different. There’s still an undeniable sense of dub groove Sounds From The Ground navigate with ease throughout, sections still filled with floating chill-out bliss (Temple Steps, Midnight Crossing, ambient leaning Afterglow), plus room for excursions into oddball electro explorations (Delphine, Acid Cornflats). Though never the hookiest of music makers, Jones and Woolfson come up with a couple nifty earworms befitting their legacy (A Thousand Colours features a lovely little swaying melody with its dub groove, This Land works in a grumbly, gritty bassline that has me wondering if the duo were feeling the dubstep itch as well). And just in case you still craved some of their jazzy influences, The Lenox gets some of that lounge vibe going with muted trumpets and spritely keyboards jamming alongside chill acid. Also, is it just me, or does the title of this song have you imagining Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, but staring Annie Lennox in the titular role? What a bizarre book that would have made, featuring an androgynous synth-pop singer over a grumpy Wilfred Brimley stand-in. Future consideration for the 2071 100th Anniversary reboot!

And that’s about it for The Maze. Like so many Sounds From The Ground albums, there’s little at fault with their songcraft, though if you don’t fancy the dubby side of downtempo chill music, you probably won’t be fussed with this album. Still, in adapting a few new tricks to their trade, The Maze is one of the higher recommendations in their discography.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tricky - Maxinquaye

Island Records: 1995

Tricky was my first exposure to trip-hop, via Deep Forest of all groups. The world beat duo provided music for the 1995 cyberpunk thriller Strange Days, and Teenage Sykonee being the throes of ethno-pop at the time, eagerly checked the movie out. Cannot deny I was also quite intrigued by the Kathryn Bigelow film on its concept, a look into the near future of the year 2000, and what the End Of The Millennium might hold.

It seems so quaint now, the fear that things would somehow catastrophically and abruptly end just after 11:59pm of December 31, 1999, and I’m not just talking that silly Y2K Bug thing. Nay, Strange Days depicted a society where, with the right kind of angle, seemed on the verge of utter collapse, a powder keg of racial strife and decadent decay, easily lit with but a single, reckless act of senseless, bigoted brutality. I have to admit Ms. Bigelow teased such an eruption so expertly throughout the movie, I actually believed the prophetic Millennial Apocalypse was nigh at the movie’s climax. Yet, clearer heads prevailed, the ‘eruption’ but a ‘scritch’ overall. Ms. Bigelow was smart, knowing Y2K paranoia was much ado about nothing. No, the real problems wouldn’t start until 16 years after! (Sorry, but it’s difficult not getting topical and political right now)

Tricky’s debut Maxinquaye is hailed as one of the shining moments of trip-hop’s mid-‘90s peak, in large part because it’s barely a trip-hop album at all. True, he helped Massive Attack set the template of the genre, and there’s definitely some all-time classic trip-hop class on here. Overcome, the opening track - and tune featured in the Strange Days soundtrack (relevancy!) – works a sultry, dubby, tribal thump, losing itself in the grit of inner city lust and doubt. Aftermath, his debut single, was initially intended for Massive Attack, but the lads behind Attack said ‘nay’ to that one, a shame because it would have fit marvelously into their canon.

That rejection, plus feeling generally stagnant within the group, prompted Tricky to pursue his solo ventures. He had plenty of ideas in his head, but not much production capability on his own though. Enter producer Mark Saunders, who somehow stitched together Tricky’s wayward muse into comprehensible music. Soul, punk, hip-hop, dub, and all manner of sample-heavy abstraction fill Maxinquaye, leaving you unsure where it’s going at any given time. The vocal dynamic between Tricky’s subdued conscious raps and cooing of singer/life partner Martina Topley-Bird fuels the sense of life on the skids, a scattershot collage of hopes and paranoia, lust and despair.

I probably can’t prop this album up any more than the UK press did at the time (holy cow, the hyperbole!), but as one of the seminal trip-hop albums of the era, this “not trip-hop” record definitely earned its spot among the Blue Lines and Dummys. It’s confrontational compared to the others, but that makes it all the more intriguing as a whole, as you decrypt the angst within.

Monday, November 7, 2016

protoU - Lost Here

Cryo Chamber: 2016

Yeah yeah, another Cryo Chamber album. I’ve said before such is the result of a label splurge, and when said label offers such lovely bulk deals on their music, label splurging is easy indeed. Heck, remember when I covered that pile of Psychonavigation Records material earlier in the year? Or even all those Fabric and In Trance We Trust mixes? And it’s not like I haven’t gathered massive amounts of material from other labels either: Hypnotic, Waveform, Turbo, Ultimae… um, Columbia. Of course, the difference there is that music was gathered over a course of two decades before taking on this blog in earnest, spreading their entries more fluidly as I trek through everything now. If Cryo Chamber had existed prior to 2012, we wouldn’t have such an overabundance of albums now. Then again, I wasn’t as open to a dark ambient label either. It still stuns me how my interest developed towards Simon Heath’s print.

On the other hand, ProtoU provides the sort of sound that might have eased me into the genre if I’d preferred a gradual transition from my general ambient interests. The lady behind the moniker, Sasha Cats, is relatively new onto the scene, almost completely barren of information at Lord Discogs. does provide a bit more background, touching on her prior influences (violinist, choir, traditional classical) and some dabbling in contemporary genres (d’n’b, ambient, noisy experiments). T’was not long before she found kinship with dark ambient sorts though, soon enough making her debut on Cryo Chamber in the collaborative album Earth Songs. A short while later, Ms. Cats made her solo debut with this particular album, Lost Here, one of the few records on this label to have so much white in its cover art. Ooh, contrasts!

The titular opener features field recordings of flowing water and open spaces, all the while a rather calm and reflective pad tone drones in support. Hey, wait, didn’t the last ambient album I reviewed (The Longing Daylight) also open in a similar fashion? In what must be attributed to complete coincidence considering the disparate musical worlds between Mr. Norris and Ms. Cats, absolutely yes! Still, I’m always intrigued by common links within genres, so that was a cute coincidence to behold with my listening arrangement.

Similarities end there though, Lost Here much more vivid in the portrait it paints – it really does feel like I’m wandering about an empty area, alone with my thoughts. An abandoned city? The rubble of ancient ruins? A foggy seaside beach? Who’s to say, but there’s something strangely comforting about the tones ProtoU guides you along. They’re spacious, but never so empty you feel lost in desolation. Final tracks The Sea and Believe even offer hopeful tones, inching closer to the reflective nature of ambient-proper, though with a layer of gritty soot in this case. Lost Here isn’t reinventing any wheels, but should serve as an easy entry point for those looking to dip their toes into dark ambient’s opaque waters.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Lee Anthony Norris & Porya Hatami - The Longing Daylight

Carpe Sonum Records: 2014

This is now the third alias of Lee Norris I’m reviewing, his seldom used eponymous pseudonym. Seriously, the scant few times he’s gone by his own name for an album is when he’s paired up with this Porya Hatami. He also put out a double-LP collection of prior works under his other projects (Nacht Plank, Autumn Of Communion, Moss Garden, plus others), a semi-retrospective titled Italian Works released through his own …txt print. Speaking of …txt, damn is there ever a lot of tasty looking music there, so much only available in extremely limited CDr if you’re a hard-copy connoisseur. Dammit, I’m breaking the bank buying from Carpe Sonum, Cryo Chamber, Silent Season, Ultimae, Altar, whatever stray Fax+ albums float my way. How many more nifty ambient prints can my finances take?

I’m not sure why Mr. Norris uses his own name solely for this collaboration with Porya Hatami, especially when he’s never shown fear in doing the Pete Namlook thing in creating a new project alias with every producer pair-up. Is there something in particular that makes Porya Hatami special? The Iranian has definitely been a busy chap these past few years, plying his trade in twee ambience and static-drenched field recordings across many labels (Dronarivm, Tench, Dewtone Recordings, Flaming Pines…ooh, Inner Ocean Records?). No surprise Lee would find a common vibe with Mr. Hatami, pairing Iran and Italy like no other ambient project before! Add Irish Mick Chillage, and they can form a super group called Triple-I (obscure Transformers joke).

Norris and Hatami first paired up for the album Every Day Feels Like A New Drug, initially on Unknown Tone Records, then again on …txt; good luck finding that one at a reasonable price anymore. A couple years after, they reconvened for The Longing Daylight on Carpe Sonum Records, a tidy five tracker of ambient music lasting less than forty minutes of runtime. Um, super-short much? I mean, it’s nice having a collection of pleasant, calming synth melodies that don’t pointlessly meander for unnecessary lengths – Norris and Hatami craft concise pieces that say all that needs saying within each. Just seems guys as prolific as these two would have more to offer than a quintet of tracks averaging around seven and a half minutes each.

Particulars, then. Opener Druid Liquid features field recordings of various flowing water sources as gentle, reflective pads play in support; towards the end, the water recedes, letting the pads shine on their own. Follow-up Rune Stoned gets old-school ambient with its soft piano work, lonesome pads, and night insects. Finally, Alchemy, The Longing Daylight, and Moon get all Planetarium Ambient in our ears – I can easily imagine watching shimmering stars slowly rotate while this plays. Rather preferred the reflective pieces early though. As far as this sort of ambient goes, they had more character, morphing as they played along, the rest mostly remaining static. Look, with this much ambient music out there, I can afford to be picky.

Randal Collier-Ford, Flowers For Bodysnatchers, Council Of Nine, God Body Disconnect - Locus Arcadia

Cryo Chamber: 2016

Scaling back from the super-mega-ultra concept of ‘ALL The Roster Work On Singular Label Project’, we have ‘A Few Guys On Label Work On Concept Album’. Not under a group pseudonym though, nor with any specific collaboration between each artist beyond working around the theme as laid out by Bruce Moallem (God Body Disconnect). Cryo Chamber's done something similar as this before, an album called Tomb Of Empires, and I can’t help but continuously marvel at how much creative freedom Simon Heath offers all these morbid musicians from across the globe. Still, despite each contributor providing a single (long) track to Locus Arcadia, this is more than a compilation. Applying the trusty ol’ ‘dark ambient as storytelling’ analogy, each piece is rather like a short story set within a specific setting, though whether we’re dealing with the same protagonist throughout, I’m not sure.

Locus Arcadia is the brain-child of Bruce Moallem, whose backstory I’ve detailed in the God Body Disconnect album Dredge Portals. Along for the ride is Council Of Nine, one Maximillion Olivier, whom I’ve also detailed to some degree with his two albums Dakhma and Diagnosis. Flowers For Bodysnatchers joins the haunted sci-fi party, though I didn’t get as heavy into Duncan Ritchie’s history while writing up his Aokigahara album (the forest history ate most of my word count). And finally there’s Randal Collier-Ford, who’s making his debut with this blog! Well, technically he did on the Cryo Chamber Collaboration of Azathoth, but who could tell where his portions of that jumbo project began and ended. Ah, maybe if I’d taken in some of his prior work, I’d figure out what his particular dark ambient attributes are. For now, all I’ve got to go with is the opening piece on Locus Arcadia.

Into The Maw Where All Men Die certainly is an auspicious title to kick off a dark sci-fi outing, and the music within is suitably apt. Menacing drone, mechanical breathing, claustrophobic mood, with a touch of wonderment at the end as you take in the grandeur of whatever deserted, orbiting super-structure you’re wandering about. Flowers For Bodysnatchers opts more for a pure ‘haunted house’ vibe with his piece, Black Echo Of Morgues And Memory: lots of distant clanking across empty halls, creepy sounds clawing at metal chambers nearby, all leading to an unleashed cacophonic fury of whatever horror lurks erupting on your senses. Mr. Ritichie’s use of natural instruments definitely plays a crucial role in his piece. Council Of Nine, meanwhile, brings things down to a steady ambient drone, Pale Sister Of Sanctuary Lost an almost calm and soothing respite from FfB’s intense outing. He still maintains the desolate space drone that permeates Locus Arcadia though, for God Body Disconnect must take us out in an incredibly cinematic piece. Using a Death Star-tonne of sci-fi sound effects, Prisoner’s Sacrifice Facing Arcadia could be a mini-movie in its own right, complete with soaring score and gentle piano denouement at the end. How Spielbergian of Maollem.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dopplereffekt - Linear Accelerator

International Deejays Gigolo: 2003

Dopplereffekt is Gerald Donald (and a rotating partner), a darn important person in the world of techno. Mostly for his contributions to Drexciya and Underground Resistance, though this project is held near the same reverent breath from Detroit electro disciples. Heck, some could even point to this act as a precursor to electroclash, the minimalist, sleazy Pornoactress from the 1996 single Infophysix oozing all sorts of detached, deadpan cool. DJ Hell must have thought so, signing Mr. Donald to his International Deejay Gigolo print. Instead of more Dopplereffekt material though, there was Virtual Geisha as Japanese Telecom, a kitschy electro album at the height of electroclash’s kitschy dominance. Then there’s Der Zyklus’ II, which contained some classics of the electro revival in its own right (d’at Discogs Market price, tho’!).

For all intents though, it seemed Mr. Donald was done with Dopplereffekt after making his debut on Hell’s label with the 1999 retrospective Gesamtkunstwerk. But maybe there was enough demand from the Gigolo faithful to hear more under that particular guise, hence the eventual LP we have here. That, or ol’ Gerald was contractually obligated to provide a proper album of new material as Dopplereffekt before moving on. I mean, it’s mighty suspicious this is his last release with Gigolo. It would go a long way into explaining why Linear Accelerator is a rather challenging record.

For sure earlier Dopplereffekt had a hard sci-fi element to it, a fascination with lab experiments and high-end technology. Linear Accelerator takes that to the extreme though, with track titles like Myon-Neutrino, Higgs-Mechanism, and Niobium Resonators. And the music? It’s a long wait for anything resembling a tune on this album. The opening track Photo Injector is over twenty-one minutes of clanking machinery, miniscule bloops, and all sorts of musique concrete abstraction. Niobium Resonators follows, nearly fifteen minutes of clicks, pops, and blast-processing noise. Third cut Graviton runs an additional fourteen minutes, has a muffled, garbled synth running through it, while clicks, pops, and static do the experimental glitch thing that was increasingly in vogue around this time with artsty techno sorts. In case you haven’t kept tally, that’s a whopping forty-nine minutes of this album spent experimenting with electronic sounds. Linear Accelerator has a runtime of seventy minutes, mind you.

The final three tracks do offer some melodic yin to the difficult yang of the first three. Myon-Neutrino has a groovy acid bassline with a haunting sci-fi hook, Z-Boson goes more spritely in its choice of synths, while Higgs-Mechanism offers the closest thing to an electro cut out of anything on here, though significantly muted compared to Donald’s other works.

Obviously Linear Accelerator isn’t an album for the faint of heart - only those who thrill at the intense potential of electronic experimentation need apply. I’m just confounded at how such an abstract release found its way onto Gigolo. Either DJ Hell was aiming for a trendy Mille Plateaux rub, or Donald was having a pisstake with the whole electro revivalist thing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Aveparthe - Landscapes Over The Sea

Cryo Chamber: 2014

Time for my favorite type of dark ambient, that which gets geographical up in the house. Looks like this one’s got it all: cool coast lines, groovy ground carved by glacial processes, fluvial flows, probably all hanging out in some northern fjord too. Man, fjords are just awesome, all wavy and curvy and shit. They add so much coastal perimeter to your nation, several hundred or even thousands of kilometres of traversable landmass, all with impossibly steep hillsides plunging strait down into the deep black of cold oceans. Sure, the Oregon Coast may have some nifty dunes and eroded lumps of large rocks dotting its path, but there’s so little of it in total. Vancouver Island’s many fjords easily give the region a complete advantage in eroded lumps of large rocks. Look, it’s important for the lucrative postcard and wallpaper trades!

Okay, enough of the silly. While it’s true the concept of ‘untamed wasteland drone’ does appeal to me, it’s more for that sense of urban displacement than any sort of geographical porn. As with dark ambient focusing on deep space, there’s something captivating about unshackling your psyche from any and all human influence, losing oneself in the desolate emptiness of your surroundings. All from the comfort of my home, that is. Sure, I could make the actual trek to the Yukon tundra or alpine snows of the Coastal Mountains if I wanted a true isolation experience, but I like having a choice of six sushi restaurants within walking distance too.

The group Aveparthe hails from a fairly remote region of the world though, so they have some inkling of what it’s like having few ties to civilization at large. While info on Sádon is scarce, not so is the case with the other portion of this project, the charmingly named Astral & Shit (Ivan Gozikov). Hailing from the Russian city of Nevyansk, an administrative town on the eastern side of the Ural range, Mr. Gozikov has idled his time away making copious amounts of experimental noise and drone pieces under the A&S guise, some eighty-plus releases in the past half-decade alone. Throw in an additional eighty-plus releases as Demiurge Urizen, and you’ve got one ridiculously prolific producer. How nice of him to make time to collaborate with ol’ Sádon for a new project like Aveparthe.

Landscapes Over The Sea is their debut, on Cryo Chamber and in general. It consists of five tracks, two lengthy pieces breaching the seventeen minute mark (Nimbostratus, Full Of Sun), two shorter compositions running about three-and-a-half (Fog Machine, 1600), and a final eight minute track titled Turn. These are all straight-forward as far as ambient drone goes, growing and escalating with layers of pads, synths, field recordings, reverb, and timbre. There’s an ethereal quality to them all, especially Full Of Sun which utilizes chants as well. 1600 has a sparse tone going for it, Fog Machine obscures distant sounds, while Turn comparitively sounds luminous. Quite an abrupt ending though. Floating Points would approve.

ACE TRACKS: October 2016

I know I’ve said it a few times now, but I’m still gobsmacked in how much of a backlog I accrued over the summer. Granted, a fair chunk of it was purchased during the previous backlog trawl as well, making my current queue sort of a double-length one. If this one’s taking so long, by God the backlog I’m currently building must be all sorts of ginormous by now. Ah, no, not really. Kinda’ cut back on music buying for a while, in part because finances dictate as such. Besides, I’d like to make some actual progress with my regular alphabetical cue at some point before the year is out. Dammit though, so many cool new releases coming out. No, no… control, I must learn control. Ah, who am I kidding? Better spending spare money on this than booze, I guess. On that cheery note, here’s a nice little Playlist ace tunes covered for this past month of October in our dread year of 2016.

Full track list here.

Various - Hed Kandi: Deeper
Omni Trio - The Haunted Science
enCAPSULAte - Fetal Position
Shaded Explorer - Empatia
Cosmic Replicant - Landscapes Motion

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 0%
Percentage Of Rock: 5%
Most “WTF?” Track: Floating Points - Peroration Six (seriously, that ending, tho’)

Fairly straight-forward collection of tunes here. Lots of deep vibes, chill vibes, jazzy vibes, groovy vibes, plus some euro dance and metal too. Unfortunately, a couple of the truly intriguing items I reviewed this past month aren’t practical for a Playlist such as this. I mean, how can I select just a few indexed pieces out of 70 Minutes Of Madness when Coldcut’s mastermix opus is best served as a whole. Same goes for a couple of those dark ambient, the sum integral to its whole. And why on Earth isn’t Omni Trio’s Haunted Science on Spotify? I know old Moving Shadow is essentially in streaming limbo these days, but poor form losing that gem to such nonsense.

Things I've Talked About

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