Sunday, July 30, 2017

Various - Waveform Transmissions (Volume One)

Waveform Records: 2007

Considering how successful their initial run of compilations was, it's surprising Waveform Records hasn't returned to that well more often. Even when it appeared they'd struck upon another winner in the Voodoo Roux series, it was kitbashed after but two volumes. A couple one-shots later, and it looked the label was ready to launch a whole new series dubbed (heh) Waveform Transmissions. Hey, that word is in their long-standing tagline of “Another Important Transmission From Waveform”, existing as long as their charming Web 1.0 homepage. Maybe it would tie into their Starstreams radio show too, a yearly retrospective of their never-ending search for “exotic electronica”. We never got much of a chance to find out though, this series lasting only three volumes before it too went by the wayside after 2010. Although, if trends hold true, we could see a fourth volume sometime soon, like we did a Four A.D. seven years after Three A.D. dropped! Yeah, well, maybe not.

As I be telling truths, y'all, I must level that I was initially rather disappointed in this CD, for two totally stupid reasons. One, I was not impressed with the packaging, coming off cartoony and goofy compared to Waveform's usual fare. But judge not what lays within, young scribe, by which adorns yonder face. OK, fine, but problem two arose upon glancing at the tracklist: I already have these tracks, a whole... um, two out of ten. Trouble was Pitch Black[nz] and Phutureprimitive were so thoroughly imprinted on my music membranes that hearing Lost In Translation and Darkness again felt redundant. And it didn't help that the remaining tunes, though decent examples of dubby psychedelic chill, didn't reach the same levels of dopeness as those two cuts.

But hey, as I've said, a good compilation lures you in with a couple recognizable names, all the while exposing new, unfamiliar acts in the process. Waveform Transmissions Volume One definitely does that, although I can't say I'm in hurry to check out further material from Dymons, Flooting Grooves, or Potlatch. Heck, I couldn't even scope out extra music from Warp Factor, on account Lord Discogs lists this as their lone contribution to music ever. As mentioned, it's all perfectly acceptable takes on worldly psy-beat dub-hop, but little that stands out from the pack either.

A few notable names do though. Capsula, who'd get an album deal with Waveform, does the rubbery psy-dub thing that makes him a comfy comparable to Phutureprimitive's Darkness on here, Xerxes' Inhale gets more on that meditation mojo with breathy downbeat in support. The highly prolific Master Margherita gives us a throwback ambient dub outing in O Sole Mio/Sunset, a nice nod to Waveform's roots (heh). And International Observer goes full-on reggae dub on The International, which in of itself isn't remarkable, except that it's a side-project of Tom Bailey. You might know him as a member of new wavers Thompson Twins. Wow, going from that to reggae dub in the span of twenty-five years. Wonders never cease.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Various - Wave Forum

Wave Recordings: 1996

Pretty clear why I got this. Still, obviously I knew this couldn't be a CD from Waveform Records – if anything the big 'Virgin Import' sticker was enough of a clue. Yet while word association's a powerful thing, even that pales compared to packaging, the CD coming in one of the the strangest jewel cases I've ever seen. A shade of... navy blue? Duke blue? Ultramarine? Zaffre? One of those, according to Wiki's 'shades of blue' chart. Add to that an inner casing coloured a hot neon yellow, and there's no way you're missing that packaging popping out at you on the shelves.

Apparently Wave Recordings went to bat for their vinyl releases too, each record painted in marble-blue. Top that off with half-page magazine ads in Very Important UK dance magazines, and you've one aggressive marketing campaign, one that must have miserably failed, as very few Discogian folk have any Wave Recordings' releases in their collections; Wave Forum has less than a half-dozen owners, yours truly included. Top that all off with a mere four items listed in their catalogue, and I wonder if all that fancy marketing somehow bankrupted the label, folding almost as soon as they launched.

The truly tragic thing about all this is the music Wave Recordings peddled, skint though it was, wasn't half bad. Make no mistake, throwing one's fortunes into a bloated trip-hop scene was practically doomed from the start, especially when leading with such no name acts like Cherry Orchard and Wintermute (they're from Bristol too!). Damn though, if Cherry Orchard's No More Nightmares doesn't get to me, what with Deborah Kimberley's 'broken-waif' vocals of feeling lost in her “slumberland” over a steady languid rhythm with slowly escalating acid. Wait, 303 tweakage in a trip-hop song? Sure, I'll go with that, and Wintermute's Black Box gets in on that action too, though it's clear they're aping Tricky in their heroin-paranoia poetry.

It's not all complete unknowns on Wave Forum, though we're definitely in ultra-obscure territory here. Kapta had a micro-hit italo-house single in Shine On, given a trip-hop rub on here. Rama 1, an alias of Caroline Abbey, also had a house non-hit on Cleveland City Records (based in Wolverhampton, West Midlands) called C'est La Vie, given a world-beat reworking here. Cannot deny those sweeping strings and emphatic gospel chorus at the end do rouse the cheese-ball joy out of my cockles, as only Rollo often does. There's a little loose trance on here too, Gravity Wheel another of the very few acts to get the marble-vinyl treatment with Wave Recordings. Tears In The Rain and Mistral are chipper, acidy little numbers, the latter even appearing on one of Rumour Records' Goa Trance collections after the duo signed to Distance. Not long for Wave Recordings, they were.

Wave Forum won't convince you this label was some unjustly ignored print, but it is worth a listen should you stumble upon it. Considering the open-market price for this CD, it can't be that rare.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Various - Water

Altar Records: 2009

Hey, remember Altar Records' Elements series? I reviewed nearly every single one of them (including the 'hidden' sixth element) only, what, two or three years ago now? Eh, I could simply check my archives to verify? Oh, man, that was over five-hundred reviews ago – who has time to sift through that much backlog! Though I'm almost certain, should I skim them over, I'd find a hi-lar-ious claim that y'all wouldn't have to wait too long for Water's review, maybe even a ridiculously optimistic prediction of later that year.

Another thing I should probably do is go back to the other Elements CDs (Air, Earth, Fire & Ether) for a quick refresher in this series' development, but why bother? I have to admit, when I first got the collection, Water didn't stick with me on my initial run of each volume. Not because it lacked dope tunes or anything, but because I knew the other four (plus one!) would require my immediate focus for review, thus letting this one slip by the wayside. Now, with it finally up to the mic' with its chance to shine, Water gets all the solo glory it deserves, none of its elemental siblings crowding it out of the spotlight. At least, I'm assuming that's how I've approached this, because I honestly don't recall Water being this good when I got it way back when. Did I even listen to it before?

Like, the first track is Marianna Falls from Asura, with Charles Farewell executing at his Asuraian best. The languid pace, the spacious sounds, the sense of uplifting cinematic grace... holy cow, how did this song not make the cut on his 360 album the year after? And speaking of Ultimae alum', Aes Dana is here too with Cyan, doing that steady-paced prog-psy thing he often does so well. Androcell also shows up for a rather Balearic bit of psy-dub in Seahorse Dreams, which makes sense given the marine theme of this compilation. Man With No Name's oldie Sugar Rush is also given a lush reworking from a Kanc Cover, more known as Opsy around the time this came out.

But hey, enough about the outside talent, what of the Altar roster, how do they stack up? Pretty good for the most part. Chronos does a widescreen psy-chill thing in Planetarium, AstroPilot ups the pace to prog-psy's chugging domain in Voda, DJ Zen offers up a lengthy goa-breaks-psy-world-chill-trance remix on Zymosis' God Is Mine (it's so long, he kinda' throws everything into the pot), and RA brings Water to a close with a pleasant enough psy-chill cut in Creation Of Tefnet.

If there's any complaint to be had with Water, it's that the elemental theme is only loosely followed upon throughout. Perhaps this collection of tunes have a more 'flowing' feel about them compared to the other Elements, but that's about it. Really, Water is just another solid CD of music from Altar's formative years, which ain't no bad thing at all.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mo-Do - Was Ist Das?

ZYX Music: 1995

It's remarkable that I should know of Mo-Do at all. Not in any post-eurodance, “haha, irony” sense, but when the act was fresh and new, their single Eins, Zwei, Polizei invading European clubs and compilations to such a degree, it breached Canadian shores too. Certainly many eurodance acts made it here, but they always had one thing going for them making it possible: their music was in English. Much like italo disco before it, the native language of the British Isles was somehow decided upon as the de facto tongue of dance club commercial success in Europe, helping it find a foothold across the Atlantic too. Songs sung in Spanish or Swedish or Swissish likely found success in their homelands, but no way they were gonna' make any bank in Canada, nosiree.

Then along comes an Italian pairing of Fabio Frittelli and Claudio Zennaro, the latter of which eking out a tidy career making house and trance as Einstein Doctor DJ. That Fabio fella' though, he had a good look to him, his Austrian heritage lending itself as a natural front-man for modelling or movies or music. He'd even dipped his toes in a couple rock bands, but found dance music more his calling. Hooking up with one Sergio Portaluri led to a couple singles as F&F, though these didn't attract much attention, pretty much standard English-singing eurodance of the day. Sergio co-produced some music with Claudio though, and when Mr. Zennaro was introduced to Mr. Frittelli, they felt enough musical chemistry to try again, only with a different angle: go full Germanic on clubland. Claudio was already making trance with a German bent, and Fabio felt Teutonic speech suited his voice better than English (or, heaven forbid, ragga!).

The result was Eins, Zwei, Polizei, a tune that celebrated the succinct punch of the German language, wrapped up in an earwormy minor-key melody straight out of the German trance book. Despite the absolute glut of eurodance in 1994, it was enough of a unique angle that it propelled Mo-Do to the top of the charts across Europe. Other German producers had hits, but none so wonderfully captured the Teutonic charms of their dance music. And all it took was a couple Italians to get there. Hey, an Italy and Germany allaiance found a way to conquer Europe after all!

The following album, Was Ist Das?, is about as you'd expect from eurodance of the time. A couple follow-up singles recycle the same formula that made the first such a success (Gema Tanzen, Super Gut), Hallo, Mo-Do does that Stadium House thing Scooter would make bank off, and Liebes Tango offers up a tune with a little English in it. There's also the requisite ballad (Fur Dich, My Love), plus a couple attempts at 'artsy' music (Hamlet, Das Konzert). They're fine in spicing the album up, but yeah, you're here for those tasty minor-key melodies and catchy German phrases, even if you're mangling them into 'engrish' as you sing along. Mmm, 'salty cakes'...

Ice Cube - War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc)

Priority Records: 1998

I feel the second volume of Ice Cube's War & Peace duo-album concept was better received than the first, as everyone finally accepted where Mr. Jackson was in his life. Sure, it'd be dope as all Hell if he came out with some fiery social commentary about The State Of The 'Hood, but after so much financial success, was he really the man for the task anymore? By the turn of the century, a lot of elder statesmen of rap were getting well paid, and couldn't realistically keep talking about 'ghetto shit' as a lived experience. Offer insight and commentary, sure, and perhaps provide helpful guidance to the young bucks coming up (but don't y'all think you can dethrone the G.O.A.T.s without a fight, no sir). If you wanted the serious conscious stuff though, there were other acts providing it, and Cube was more interested in maintaining a brand for himself than dropping heavy with the lyrical political.

Thus when he let it be known that The Peace Disc was going to be of a much lighter fare than anything he'd done in the past, folks were at least ready for it. Willing, that's another matter, many old Cube fans all but disowning the product sight-unheard, especially after the dismal reactions to The War Disc. On the other hand, It Was Good Day remained one of Cube's longest, endearing tunes, and he'd shown a somewhat friendlier side in his Friday movies. If anything, the aggro-gangsta posturing of The War Disc came off more disingenuous compared to club-ready singles like We Be Clubbin' and You Can Do It. Considering I heard the latter in even back-water 'clubs' of B.C. hinterland haunts, I'd say he succeeded in providing something fun.

And the bump-n-grind don't stop there, tracks like Can You Bounce? featuring a gnarly bassline, Gotta Be Insanity featuring the vintage P-funk, Waitin' Ta Hate featuring the vintage trunk-thump, and You Ain't Gotta Lie featuring Chris Rock dropping a bunch of hilarious brags. Elsewhere, Cube reunites with Dr. Dre and MC Ren for a little N.W.A. gangsta reflection, while hinting at a possible reunion (which they did do, but with Snoop Dogg filling in for the deceased Eazy-E). He also drops some knowledge on shady label businesses (Record Company Pimpin'), and offers an uplifting outlook for the youth with Krayzie Bone in Until We Rich. Plus a bunch of the usual gangsta crowing and hater grips scattered throughout, but who cares about those.

Frankly, beyond just being completely honest in its intents, what makes The Peace Disc better than The War Disc is the production. Vol. 1 somehow felt cheap and plastic as a lot of late '90s hip-hop does, but in Vol. 2, the beats bounce harder, the hooks land sharper, and the funk flows freer. Even the guest spots are of higher calibre (because who really gave a shit about Mr. Short Khop?). As a trifle hour of escapism then, War & Peace Vol. 2 succeeds, but that's all.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ice Cube - War & Peace Vol. 1 (The War Disc)

Priority Records: 1998

The first Ice Cube record many white metal fans bought, because they sure as Hell didn't know any better. Check it though, that scowling rapper guy, he's on the Family Values Tour, performing with nu-metal bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, Orgy, and weird, angry Germans. They might have even recalled him from other stuff, like movies (Friday, Anaconda, that one about black youths in South Central), and something called Westside Connection where he sampled a Nine Inch Nails song. After pairing up with Korn though, folks well outside Ice-C's traditional scene were finally taking notice of his music output. And a good thing too, because by this point, many in hip-hop circles were writing Cube off as having lost the socially-conscious spitfire of his early work in lieu of lucrative movies and rock tours. War & Peace Vol. 1 all but cemented such notions.

Westside Connection did keep some embers glowing, proving Cube could still throw down lyrical beatdowns with the best of them. However, Common released a crushing dis' in The Bitch In Yoo, plus The Nation Of Islam forced various hip-hop groups to a peace summit so no more senseless deaths would arise from their beefs. It clearly sawed Cube's teeth off, changing focus to take on 'made-man' rap as the Don Mega. He's the king of his West Coast Mountain, yo', running these clubs and gangsta concerns, and like Hell he's gonna' relinquish that throne without a fight. Fine and all, such topics inspiring many rappers to be the best at their game. Trouble is, fewer hip-hop heads were buying it, seeing less of the 'hood narrator Ice Cube, and more O'Shea Jackson, business man and Hollywood actor. 'Don Mega' was just another mogul character, one that was quite played out by '98 in the hip-hop world (see: Puff Daddy, Master P, etc.), and definitely not one fans of older Cube cared to turn to for some social commentary. But hey, it's fun headbanging to crunchy guitars in Fuck Dying, amirite?

Another problem stems from production. There's the aforementioned rock-fusion, including Limos, Demos & Bimbos riffing on The Police's Behind My Camel I think (because sampling 'Sting' was cool). Much of The War Disc consists of Southern rap producers though, including N.O. Joe, E-A-Ski (notable for his work on early No Limit Records – Master P even cameos), and Bud'da, plus Cube on a few cuts himself. It's all got high-grade studio polish, but aside from a couple riffs and basslines, sounds like generic gangsta funk to my ears.

That all said, Cube does remain charismatic throughout, even when rapping about cliche topics. And when he does unleash some captivating narratives, such as the reflective Ghetto Vet, or nuttiness of Once Upon A Time In The Projects 2, it shows he could still tangle with hip-hop's best. Just a shame he so often settled for mediocrity here – good enough for all those metal kids checking him out for the first time, though.

U2 - War

Island Records: 1983

War, hah! What's it good for? Giving a budding Irish band the proper break-out they needed, is what. They'd already made oscillations in new wave circles with their debut Boy and follow-up October, but it was their third album that we hear the germination of what most consider the definitive U2 stylee. Arena rock anthems, political issues... um, wait, something's missing here. Oh yeah, that Eno touch. Right, the true definitive, universally adored sound of U2 didn't manifest itself until subsequent albums, but there's a contingent of O.G. U2 fan-Zs that claim Brian and Daniel Lanois ruined what had been a promising raw alternative rock band. That, if you want to experience Bono, The Edge, Adam, and Mullen (the cute one!) at their honest, roughest best... you should probably go with Boy.

But hey, War was still a Steve Lillywhite produced album, so not quite as arty as Eno would go; besides, they'd already tried that with October. War instead finds the band returning to a purer rock approach – it was only appropriate for such a heavy, politically-driven topic, getting their music into the knit and grit of conflict and the aftermath's ugliness. Plus, just in case you figured they might be going for something more abstract or glorified in selling the notion of war, they used a similarly posed photo of Peter Rowen on the cover, except now replacing the innocent boy of Boy with a stern, aged glower, suggesting the human cost of senseless struggle.

The band doesn't pull its punches either, opening the album with the strident, military march of Sunday Bloody Sunday, a song about the Bogside Massacre, where over a dozen civilian Irish protesters were killed by British soldiers, many more injured. Add in a wailing violin and Bono's harrowing cries of “I can't close my eyes; And make it go away”, and you've a song that definitely sticks in your memory.

It's the lead single though, New Year's Day, that really gave U2 their distinct panache for arena rock. That instantly memorable piano line, the propulsive bass, the jangly guitar work, and Bono's wailing – you can't think of U2 without thinking of this song, even if you don't realize it's from the War album. I sure didn't, the echo, reverb, and polished production having me think it latter-'80s U2 for the longest time.

A criticism often levied upon War is that the remaining eight songs don't reach the same highs as Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year's Day, especially dragging in the back-half. Can't deny that, though they're by no means weak songs either. Two Hearts Beat As One and Like A Song... are strong rockers, Drowning Man features more soul-tugging violin work, The Refugee sounds like something The Police might have wrote, and Surrender climbs close to the same lofty peaks of New Year's Day. It all makes for a strong rock album, but if you come to U2 for their artistic dalliances, perhaps a little one-note overall.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Various - The Wandering II Compilation (Part 2)

Silent Season: 2015

A sorting glitch after downloading from Bandcamp? Silent Season intentionally making digital and physical versions different from one another? A higher power sating my strange alphabetical obsessions? Whatever the case, the track sequencing between the MP3 and CD copies of The Wandering II is vastly different. Whereas the latter stylistically spreads the music out across three discs, the former arranges everything per artist, going from A.P through ASC to Ethernet, Kanthor, Michal Wolski, Segue, all the way to Yuka. And while I'm all for such organization in spicing up a playlist as staged randomness, it doesn't work so well in this case.

The chaps at Silent Season spent a full year in collecting, curating, and crafting this triple-compilation, such that each track had its proper placement on CDs. Playing it out by Artist totally messes that up, and while Silent Season promotes a generally narrow aesthetic range of dub ambient and techno, my digital version still made for some strange transitions. That ten-minute long dark drone of Sonitus Eco's Frost works as a second track on an ambient-heavy CD, but playing out at the forth-to-last position with a few rhythmic tracks following was jarring to say the least.

Whatever, it's just a quirk, one I'm certain Silent Season didn't intend. Nay, the 'proper' way of hearing The Wandering II is per the CDs themselves. I mean, the opening half of CD1 prominently features ambient, and doesn't really return to that style anywhere else. You get a couple different flavors of it too, from the aforementioned drone, to some blissy pad work (Legiac's Jefre Tropod) or ominious field recordings (Birds Of Prey's The Surface, Kanthor's Hegemony). By track six, we finally start hearing intermittent rhythms, some more of a microfunk thing (A.P's Interdimensional 2.0, Aesthes' Amphibians), others doing the soft, minimalist dub techno throb (Inanitas' Tuesday Evening, Ethernet's Reminiscence). Overall a typical warm-up disc for Silent Seasons' preferences.

CD2 is where I get the most bang for my buck though – there be trance here! Right right, it's not trance as you or him or her or they or Them or It might call it. Archist's Photosensitive has a tribal rhythm with soft pads ebbing and flowing throughout. Hidden Element's Edge Off and Michal Wolski's Lunyata provide a nicely thumping dub techno pulse to distant synth melodies. Hydrangea's Ananké works a slow-n-steady techno beat as widescreen pads fill a wide range of timbre. Alfredo Mazzilli's Continuando a Sognare and Tdel's Deep Field sound like they could have been chill cuts on an old Eye Q collection. See, trance!

If all that sounds too uplifting and melodic for you, CD3 goes about as de-e-e-eep into dub techno's domain as you'll ever likely hear. There's occasional touches of pad work (As If's Nærvær, Warmth's Altitude), but yeah, this is a rather clinical disc compared to the other two. Still, Mr. Zu's Retaw takes us out with some vintage ambient techno-dub, which is only appropriate for a massive collection such as The Wandering II.

Various - The Wandering II Compilation (Part 1)

Silent Season: 2015

It's a rare event when Silent Season releases a compilation, their first coming three years after the label launched. Following that initial Wandering CD, they put out a white-label collection called Full Circle, then sat fallow on the format for five years. Not really sure why that is, as they seem to have enough contacts in dub ambient and techno circles to warrant a few favours phoned in for contributions. And while it's lovely and all having spiffy albums and pleasing EPs available, the compilation has long been the preferred format in promoting one's manifesto, a sampler of artists and genres a label wishes to support by luring in the curious passerby. Then again, Silent Season is the sort of print that's long been able to sell itself almost entirely by word-of-mouth, the quality of their releases readily reaching the ears of dedicated disciples of dubbed-out music. Making compilations for the pure purpose of promotion would be a redundant venture, and likely a time consuming effort for a label that prides itself on its minimalist aesthetic.

Nay, better to save the format for celebratory events, which is what Silent Season done did in finally releasing a second volume of The Wandering in 2015. The occasion of note with this item is it marking the label's twentieth release, a feat that... doesn't quite add up when I look over their discography with The Lord That Knows All. Mind, Lord Discogs' cataloguing isn't an exact science, some albums appearing twice under different formats, so I guess I'll have to take it under faith that Silent Season is being on the level in claiming The Wandering II marks their double-ten triumph. I mean, that Dubpression Remix digital release from Rasmus Hedlund was just half a release anyway, right?

And just in case you felt this label's been far too skint in offering compilation options over the years, Silent Season didn't hold back on this one, going with a gargantuan 3CD extravaganza, inviting familiar artists from their past for a dub techno party. ASC is here! Segue is here! Inanitas is here! Mon0 is here! Tdel is here! Yuka is here! Um... is that it? No Vitalis Popoff? Or Shaded Explorer? Mind Over MIDI? Martin Nonstatic? Edanticonf? Refracted? Faru? Purl? Bueller?

Well hey, as I said before, a good compilation should expose you to new and unknown names, and The Wandering II definitely does that for yours truly. While there's a few artists here that I think I've come across in the past (Brando Lupi, Archivist, As If, Slownoise), most of these I'm dealing with for the first time. And since I've clearly almost used up my self-imposed word count now, I'll spend a second part detailing the musical particulars of this release – oh yes, it ain't just twenty-eight tracks of droning dub techno. I'll finish this one off by mentioning the track sequencing of The Wandering II is... odd, artists arranged in alphabetical order. Who even does such a thing? *cough*

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ashtech - Walkin' Target (Original TC Review)

Interchill Records: 2007

(2017 Update:
Ten years ago, almost to the day, this item dropped, and aside from Meditronica in 2009, nothing since - not even a contributing credit under his real name of Andrea Nicoletti. I know Lord Discogs doesn't have *all* the information out there, but surely it'd have something like added bass licks or keyboard jams to a project elsewhere. Yet checking out Ashtech's website now leads to a laser cutting company. It all strikes me as odd, considering the aggressive PR campaign Ashtech had when he was making his still active. I mean, for such a scant discography currently to his name, dude's got quite the Wiki written up. Anyone know what's up with that?

Walkin' Target has gradually grown better to my ears over the years (decade!). True, it's still not doing much different with reggae-dub and dancehall that you can't hear elsewhere, but it does it so well, I don't give a care. Maybe it's that I haven't heard many other albums of this sort in all that time, due to my lackadaisical efforts exploring this genre deeper beyond its shores. Then again, every time I throw this album on, folks within earshot always get their bop on when hearing Essential Credential, so that must mean ol' Ash' and Gaudi were onto something "natural universal" here.)

IN BRIEF: Ready on d’em roots, aigh’t?

The British must feel an eternal bond to Jamaica since the colonial period; it has to be the reason several UK youth are constantly inspired by the Caribbean island’s music. Roots, reggae, dub, and everything in between is as much a fixture with England’s potheads as grime is with the slums of London. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that many Jamaican immigrants bring their musical philosophies with them; one love between two island nations... or such.

Despite being Italian of origin before settling in London, Mr. Andrea Nicoletti – Ashtech - has felt this influence no less; chalk it up to his bass playing background - when you feel ‘d’em riddims’, the bass-heavy production of dub beckons. Long a collaborator, this is the first time he’s taken center-stage on a full-length, and he doesn’t hold back on exploring what roots music has to offer.

...such to the point he almost falls into the trap of merely copying it rather than providing his own spin. If you’ve casual knowledge of this music, you’ll find there isn’t much stylistically unique on Walkin’ Target. Ashtech honors the foundation pioneers like King Tubby laid out all those decades ago, so if this has never held much appeal for you, then it’s doubtful his album will change your mind.

Also, as this is very groove-orientated music, the direction of a given track is typically found in the sub-bass frequencies. As a result, those without the speakers to bring out the full dynamics of the lower end of the sonic realm (I’m looking at you, iPod generation) will be missing out. That extra layer of sound can vastly change your perspective of a given song here: where a run-of-the-mill roots tune will sound ordinary on ol’ laptop speakers, suddenly there’s something rather special going on once powerful sub-whoofers show just how intuitive that bassline really is.

Hmm, two nitpicks right out of the gate. Am I going to say anything nice at all about Walkin’ Target then? Absolutely, but I know you people can be fickle when it comes to dub, so best I clearly establish the generalizations before I get to the particulars, eh?

So... the particulars.

This is as fine a collection of dub as you’ll find these days. Already mentioned are the basslines, which grumble and growl in many cuts, but let us not forget about all the effects that come with the package. Cavernous reverb, endless streams of decay, stuttery echoes: all accounted for and present, with none sounding superfluous or overdone (an all too common side-effect from too much reefer indulgence with other acts). And while Walkin’ Target is mostly Ashtech’s show, the presence of long-time dub producer Gaudi in the studio with him definitely aids in getting the most out of all the production tricks the genre’s been known for. Even if the roots of the music are over-familiar, there are plenty of unique twists and turns provided to keep the attentive entertained.

And Ashtech does dabble in many variations too. There’s bouncy dub (Beat Da Drum, Gringo , Mahayana), darker ambient excursions (Buzz Dub, R.E.M.), grimier cuts borrowing from London’s dubstep scene (While The Music Plays, DNA), and traditional reggae styles (Sun Shines On You, Essential Credential). Even hip-hop and techno get an influential nod (Individuality and Plain Speaking, respectively).

As good as many as these are though, it’s when Cheshire Cat lends his talents to a track that things are taken up a notch on this album. You may recognize him as the guy releasing pressure or chanting about poor men on Leftfield tunes. While most of his toasting here is in support of Ashtech’s tracks, they add that extra bit of quirky roots vitality which is utterly infectious.

Except for the title track itself, where the Cat completely steals the show. Mind, that’s kind of the point, as he tells a harrowing story of inner-city strife: the death of a young man trying to make it big, dying for his troubles, and the anguish felt by his mother as a result. Ashtech wisely produces a backing track to complement the tale, and is the clear highlight of Walkin’ Target.

I suppose there’s little more to say here, as this release really does speak for itself. Revolutionary? Not really. Niche specific? Yeah, pretty much. Good nonetheless? Damn skippy, hippie! If Ashtech displays this much skill in honoring the past, one can only wonder what his future will hold.

Written by Sykonee for, 2007. © All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

King Midas Sound - Waiting For You...

Hyperdub: 2009

Stupid of me sleeping on this when it first came out. I was fiending for more material from Kevin Martin after London Zoo, ready to hear any and all music The Bug had to offer. But not enough to follow developments in his other projects apparently, King Midas Sound making their debut in a flash before receding from the limelight again. Part of that was due to timing, Waiting For You... coming out at the tail-end of 2009, when I was burnt out keeping an ear to the pulse of electronic music for review purposes.

It's also a case of the group almost deliberately eschewing much media marketing, doing a few requisite interviews and tours, but not much else. Even Mr. Martin seemed hesitant in letting folks know that The Bug had a second project called King Midas Sound, one gestating in the background almost as long as his work for London Zoo had been in progress. Waiting For You... went so overlooked, there's no review for it at Resident Advisor, though one for lead-up single Dub Heavy Hearts And Ghosts, plus follow-up remix LP Without You. Still, that makes me more hip than RA now, right?

We did all finally catch up to this conglomerate of Kevin Martin, singer/crooner/spoken-worder Roger Robinson, and singer/artist Kiki Hitomi. It was a slow burn, which makes sense as Waiting For You... has a feeling of needing lengthy time and many play-throughs to simmer into your soul. Those coming into it expecting more of Mr. Martin's crushing bass assaults won't find that here, though the bottom-end is dutifully represented throughout. Plenty of that trip-hoppin' dub action too, utilized in such a manner that it creates a wall of white noise where Mr. Robinson's vocals ride along, like surfing waves of mile-high sound. Other times he's completely enveloped by the layers of timbre, his voice just another instrument to- wait, I've already typed such a description before, haven't I, when I reviewed the Fennesz collaboration Edition 1. Darn it, it's such a good description though.

What's interesting is that Roger wasn't really known for a soulful croon prior to his team-up with Kevin, his prior performance experience mostly poetry over a rhythm. And there are a few tracks that go that route on this album too, such as the punchy, minimalist (and super-preachy) Earth A Killya, and the interlude Sumtime. Elsewhere he edges closer to a dancehall cadence (I Man), but by and large he carries a song with his soft croon. And he'd never done anything like it before! He figured he'd carry on doing the spoken-word stuff, but when Kevin persisted in hearing him sing a little, he realized that was what would make King Midas Sound stand out as something unique in the UK's urban scene. Throw in a few spacey additions from Kiki (Outer Space really does live up to its name), plus a couple dubbed-out instrumentals for good measure, and voila, Waiting For You..., a neo-soul album like few others.

Wu-Tang Clan - The W

Loud Records: 2000

The first proper Wu-Tang Clan album I bought for myself, and not a bad one at that, but I can already hear the “tut-tut”ing from long time disciples. Why not get Enter 36 Chambers first, as you're supposed to do even if you're not a fan or the Wu-Tang Clan? Well, as the first Wu record I ever bought was The RZA Hits, it felt redundant springing for another record that had nearly half the same tracks on it (I was stupid for thinking that). Second, The W came out the following year I fell sway to the charms of hip-hop, so it was only logical I scoped that shit out post-haste, my honeymoon glow still preventing any sense of critical consideration.

The W has gone on to be one of the Clan's most difficult albums to talk about, in that it seems everyone has utterly conflicting feelings about it. They love that it's pared down to an easily digestible hour-long effort, yet surely the group had more to offer than just this? It's nifty hearing guest spots from other prominent rappers, but aren't they taking the limelight away from all the talent already within the group itself? All Clan members sound matured, sharp and on point, with even some of the weaker members finally coming into their own as lyricists, but have lost that spitting Hell-fire of their debut in the process. How great it is to hear the Wu over RZA beats for a full album (save a lone Mathematics cut), but only around half the tracks are actually memorable. Let's detail couple now!

Chamber Music: urgent strings with crackly samples. Careful (Click, Click): herky-jerky, sample-snapping, creepy woodwinds; definitely feels like you're in a claustrophobic gun-toting, warzone. Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off): bouncy, loopy, with a great key-change mid-track, ruined by a lame U-God brag verse. Gravel Pit: even bouncier, a track totally aimed for the club, but at least RZA freely admits its intents, so it's a lot of fun (looks like they had fun playing cavemen in the video too).

Then there are weaker cuts, like the endlessly looping soul sample from Hollow Bones, and the plodding *thump-thump clap-clap* of One Blood Under W with Junior Reed. Ah well, the famed dancehall toaster gets a better track to close the album out on with the mournful Jah World. Speaking of guests, Snoop Dogg inexplicably appears with ODB in Conditioner with a bog-standard 'pimpz & hoes' verse. Okay, that's not accurate, the Dirt Dawg recording through a jail phone booth, hence the low-grade quality. I guess RZA realized there wasn't enough material there for a track, but Year 2000 Snoop's the last person up to the task of pinch-hitting for the Wu.

Okay, enough gripes. I do enjoy more than dislike stuff on The W, even if it comes off like much of the Clan's best material was now behind them. Then again, some of Method Man's lyrics in hidden track Clap have forever stuck with me. I don't know why.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

EDM Weekly World News, July 2017

Tired of 'fake news' from the lame-stream EDM media? Dejected they never dig deep into the darkest, dank dungeons of Detroit's dons for 'unpresidented' discoveries? Time to return to that always reliable source of unreliable gossip, the EDM Weekly World News, released semi-seasonal as always!

Sadly, we couldn't find out who the new vocalist for The Timelords is going to be before going to print. Rumor has it being Linda Ronstadt.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Refracted - Through The Spirit Realm

Silent Season: 2015

Eh? What's this? I'm still hearing the theme to It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia playing? But... I already made my excuses in the review of Lingua Lustra's Source, a perfectly valid reason for 'springing' on a digital version of a release despite my steadfast mandate that I'll always go hard copy over digital: I initially got it for as a free download, then picked up the CD in a bulk deal from the label. See, perfectly legit. I've remained honest and true in my proclamation of never buying digital if a physical option remains. *Always Sunny In Philadelphia plays, now with title “Sykonee Buys A Digital Version Of A Vinyl Release”*

Oh, fine, 'tis true I caved on this one, but Silent Season is so good at twisting my rubber arm, don't you know. They actually sent out a Bandcamp discount through email, so I figured where's the harm in indulging one of their releases that came out in a physical medium I know I'll never buy. I mean, there's always the ultra-slim chance I might find one of their earlier CDs at a 'reasonable' price on the open market (haha, ha), but vinyl? Oh, Hell no! I don't dare start on the Black Crack addiction. Then again, I caved on my 'never digital' stance in this particular instance – who's to say I won't some day break to vinyl's ever-seductive gleam, its promises of audio fidelity grand and pure... NO! Must... resist...

Refracted is Alex Moya, a relative newcomer to the world of techno. He made his vinyl debut with Silent Season, on the 2013 EP Along A Ghostly Trail, following on that a couple years later with a debut album in Through The Spirit Realm. For some reason, it didn't click for me this was an LP (or 2x12”), figuring I'd simply be getting a single as most records from Silent Season go. It's rather pricey of the fiercely independent print to press wax of this sort, is what I'm saying. But yeah, five tracks hovering around the seven minute mark, an experimental shorty about three-and-a-half, and a ten-plus minute closer - I'd say this constitutes a proper LP.

As we're dealing with Silent Season, you bet the style of techno Mr. Moya brings us is deep, dubby, and filled with field recordings. It's also remarkably tribal, tracks like We Arrive, The Ritual Begins, and the titular cut getting my Psychik Warriors Ov Gaia triggers going. Right, it's not exactly like the PWoG we all know and love – none of that renegade grit in this mixdown – but the techno-kraft is close enough for me to dig it. The two tracks that bookend Through The Spirit Realm are more on that ambient trip though, which is fine if you like your subtle lush pads flush with sounds of the jungle and approaching thunderstorms. Still feels weird trading such rainforest fauna from that which Silent Season's more known for. Unless you wander the Amazon exhibit in the Vancouver Aquarium anyway.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Earth Nation - Terra Incognita

Eye Q Records: 1995

No one disputes Sven Väth was the Head of Eye Q and Harthouse, the face and brains, if you will. Several producers were easily the Muscle, acts that helped build the label into one of the seminal powerhouses of techno and trance coming out of Germany (Oliver Lieb, Hardfloor, Alter Ego, Resistance D, Vernon, Energy 52). One man, however, was unquestionably the Soul, always lurking in the studio away from fame and glory. Who's influence not only helped refine Sven's approach to dance music, but left an undeniable, lasting imprint on how we remember those Eye Q and Harthouse records to this day: Ralf Hildenbeutel. Not only was he behind some of their most successful singles (L'Esperanza, Superstring, My Name Is Barbarella, Desire, Firedance), but his songcraft gave many tracks a charming, retro-futuristic stylee we so often associate with early trance. He never got as much due as he deserved, but its difficult thinking of Eye Q or Harthouse without thinking of Ralf.

He had many projects with both labels, but one seems to have slipped from general discourse compared to his other works: Earth Nation. I suppose part of it has to do with the rather generic name, not exactly the sexiest option when surrounded by stuff like Progressive Attack, Odyssee Of Noise, Icon, Summerbreeze, and Cygnus X. His partnership with guitarist Marcus Deml yielded a few albums though, this here Terra Incognita their second effort. It's also regarded as one of classic trance's last great LPs before the tsunami of Oakenfold changed everything.

Even here, it's clear Ralf and Marcus knew the trends were shifting, Terra Incognita almost devoid of the blistering Frankfurt pace of old. The fastest track on here, The Ikarus Syndrome, features a rhythm that's right out of the Underworld Banger playbook, all the while opening with a lengthy, sweeping, operatic build that could give Cream punters goosebumps. Later in the album, Green Sky Is Red has a nicely brisk pace of its own, though has more in common with goa trance of the mid-'90s than anything Germanic. Elsewhere, tracks Elucidate and The Artificial Dream get more of a proggy groove going, the former with a warm-up set vibe, the latter sounding not out of place in a peak-hour Sasha & Diggers set of the time. Really, the only 'pure' trance cut on Terra Incognita is the opener Way In, a loopy hypnotic number that has as much to do with Frankfurt techno as anything else.

Throw in a few ambient interludes, a requisite 'experimental' track in Transfiguration (breakbeats in goa!), a couple wind-down downtempo tracks towards the end, and you've a remarkably solid trance album for the year 1995, hardly dated at all. Why does this go so overlooked, then? It came out towards the end of Eye Q's run? The 'Earth Nation' handle just too easily bypassed? Not appearing on enough Very Important DJ mixes? Who knows anymore, but if you crave vintage trance, there's no reason for you to ignore this.

Various - Techno Explosion (The Other Stuff)

Jumpin' & Pumpin': 1997

Fifty techno 'giants' has to be among the most ridiculous claims I've seen in the copy of a compilation. What does that even mean? Giant hits? Stakker Humanoid certainly charted, but beyond the FSOL stuff, I don't recognize a single thing. No, check that, there is one song that did significant chart action long ago, Eleanor Rigby. It's practically the same tune too, with the string section and everything, only this time, 'Lonely People' (Chris & Tim Laws) add some generic rave beats and piano fills. Fortunately, that's the extent of trendwhoring 'updates', but nowhere near the end of bandwagon jumping 'techno' cuts.

Though this was released in '97, Techno Explosion doesn't reach much beyond '93, almost entirely sticking to the old school rave era. One track dips a toe slightly beyond that, '95's Burnin' Love from Dutch happy hardcore act Critical Mass, and sounding ridiculously out of place among all the hoover anthems and sampled Amen breaks. What, did Jumpin' & Pumpin' not have enough material culled from EarthBeat, Elicit, and Debut, needing to call in a favour from ID&T to hit that fifty mark?

So there's a lot of rave riffs, proto-jungle, piano anthems and the like throughout Techno Explosion, which probably sounds like heaven if you can't get enough of that era of music. Trust me though, you'll grow tired of it all after four discs worth of non-hits. A huge chunk consist of stitched-together loops of well-worn styles and tropes, few raising above the standard stock of the time. Whenever I heard a cut that sounded a little more polished and intuitive, that there was an musician behind the console and not some hasty hack job, turned out it was a track Dougans and Cobain had a hand in. Man, these guys really were far too good for this shit, weren't they?

Right, it's not all forgotten unknowns rounding out three-fourths of Techno Explosion. The Urban Shakedown posse (Aphrodite, Claudio Giussani) join up with Andy Chatterley for the one-off Prodigy knock-off Feel That Feelin' as T-Boom! Steve Mac, who had a proper 'giant' hit in Nomad's Devotion, appears with a multitude of aliases and collaborations (Clockhouse Hours, Coma Kid, Suzy Shoes, Smak, Bubbles). Jamie Odell, who'd go onto some minor fame in jazzy, downtempo d'n'b as Jimpster, earns his early jungle strips as Flag. Darren Pearce would have a successful run with the Reactivate series (they of the cartoon sea-critter covers), but can't escape bog-standard rave 'ardcore here. There's a DJ Freshtrax with a few scattered contributions, though you might know him as Jon The Dentist these days.

There's not much else to mention. Techno Explosion is little more than a label expunging its back-catalogue in hopes of generating a couple extra bones, with as cheap a presentation as possible (not even an inlay booklet provided). It's like getting a torrent that promises hundreds of classic rave tracks, then discovering most of it is just the same nonsense slightly rearranged over and over and over.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Various - Techno Explosion (The FSOL Stuff)

Jumpin' & Pumpin': 1997

This is a compilation consisting of four CDs, with fifty tracks spread out across them. I bought this for exactly one track, Q by Mental Cube. It's a surprisingly difficult tune to procure on a physical medium these day. In fact, the original version that appears on here was its last official release, disc or digital. It didn't even get represented on FSOL's recent, early-alias retrospective By Any Other Name. Is Jumpin' & Pumpin' stingy with their rights to their pre-Virgin tunes or something?

Ah, I'll take what I can get. Not that Q is some ultra-rare track, having done the rounds on a few compilations back when it was new. Finding decent prices for CDs like EarthBeat, Breaks, Bass & Bleeps, and Techno Dance Party II is strangely difficult though, so upon spotting Techno Explosion for about half-price, for sure I'll bite. I mean, it's got Q on it, possible one of the greatest bleep-E' tunes ever crafted! Never fails giving me the knackered feels, floating on a good gurn when those strings and singing bleeps get to work.

But an even niftier selling point was the inclusion of so much more old FSOL material. Yage is here! Indo Tribe is here! Humanoid is here! Hell, even some of their most obscure alter egos are here. I guess a whole bunch of other tunes from the Jumpin' & Pumpin' library is a nice bonus, but like Hell I'm gonna' spend four reviews detailing all of it. So, despite the FSOL stuff getting spread out across all four discs, I'll just consolidate that material in this review, and save the rest for a second review. Trust me, it'll only take one to get through.

So what does Techno Explosion offer for pre-Lifeforms tunes? You get a couple tracks that appeared on Accelerator in Pulse State and Innate (aka: 1 In 8). There's also a track called Hard Head, a funky sample-breaks thing that Lord Discogs claims had never been released before appearing on here. Better get on it, completists.

Aside from Q, we also get the Mental Cube dreamy house cut So This Is Love. Hearing Stakker Humanoid again is always fun, a little more bleep action comes care of Indo Tribe's In The Mind Of A Child and I've Become What You Were, and the cuts from Art Science Technology (A.S.T. and Esus Flow) sound like the duo were trying their hand at the rock-influenced Madchester sound. Yage goes experimental tribal (Fuzzy Logic) and ravey house (Livin' For The Love). And, oh dear, are FSOL attempting an 'ardcore track with Space Virus as Smart Systems? Stay in your lane, lads.

While a few from this era undoubtedly retain classic status, they are all quite dated too, nowhere near the amazing production quality of even Accelerator material. Still, compared to what else Jumpin' & Pumpin' was churning out at the time, it's clear the duo was light years beyond their contemporaries even within this limited range of old school techno.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Lingua Lustra - Spaces

Spiritech: 2016

I could have reviewed this a couple months ago, when going through the previous alphabetical backlog. Spaces initially found itself in my library as a download earlier this year, perhaps as a short-term free giveaway from Lingua Lustra's Bandcamp. He has quite a few of those available, though mostly all singles and EPs, not full-length albums. Spaces falls into the latter camp, but there's no way I paid money just for a download. I've forever refused buying digital if a physical option is available. *Always Sunny In Philadelphia theme starts playing*...

No, wait, there's a logical reason for having a CD of this! See, Spaces comes care of Spiritech, a short-lived label helmed by Alireza Zaifnejad (BlueBliss) and Albert Borkent; aka: Lingua Lustra. Mostly dealing with digital, Spiritech started dabbling in CD options this past year, including a 4CD deal of their four latest albums. Spaces was among those, and I thought to myself, “Well, I already have the digital version, I may as well include it in my standard backlog in anticipation of getting the CD.” And while I did listen to this in that batch, I didn't want to 'cheat' reviewing it without first having the physical copy on hand (why do I make things needlessly convoluted!?). For some reason though, the CD order took a long time arriving, over two-months – wasn't Spiritech situation in Saskatchewan? I know we make our 'hicksville' jokes about the province here on the West Coast, but seriously? I can only assume these CDs came from Mr. Borkent's own stash in Europe, what with the label folding and all (more on that later).

Naturally, I'm going on and on (beyond the halcyon) about pointless info because I'm left with Yet Another Ambient Album With Little To Detail. Spaces contains only three tracks, each nearly doubling the length of the previous one. Opener Ruin runs about seven minutes, follow-up Eden hovers around twelve and a half, while final cut Source stretches out to the twenty-six mark. That's actually an interesting concept worth exploring, if you're into technical aspects of music compositions – studies in time signatures, hidden messages in song durations, and the like. It's all a little wanky to my sensibilities, but props to those who dedicate their skills to it. It's like a painter who uses difficult techniques creating a portrait that anyone with rudimentary ability could accomplish. Or maybe not, I dunno' - my knowledge of painting is pathetic. Oh, and I kinda' doubt the whole 'escalating track duration' thing was intentional on Lingua Lustra's part, since these pieces aren't perfectly trimmed to accommodate the concept. Just a curious coincidence.

And the music itself? Ruin is ultra-minimalist with electromagnetic drone, soft pulses, and emergent field recordings. Eden does the bright, layered synth pad drone thing. Source is practically devoid of sound, subtle bleepy electronics, impossibly distant pads, and gentle washes of white noise static leaving plenty of open spaces for a wandering mind. Fits the album theme, that's for sure.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Pet Shop Boys - Please

Parlaphone: 1986/2009

So I've started a Pet Shop Boys collection. Okay, I technically already did years ago, when I picked up Disco 2 from a used shop, but I don't consider that part of their album canon, and neither should you. Aside from that, which ones do I start with? I'm sure every discerning PSB fan tells you that their first five albums are all most haves, even if you're not a fan of the Pet Shop Boys. Fair enough, though my alphabetical stipulation will create a screwy chronology of their work if I buy them all at once. Nay, I'll get them incrementally, spacing things out, going on this journey of discovery as everyone else did when they were among the UK's hottest synth-pop acts ever. Yeah, much more fun this way.

Thus here we are with Please, an album so-titled because Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe thought it funny customers would be forced into a little politeness when asking for the record. They'd made a bunch of track a couple years prior to this, working with famed Hi-NRG producer Bobby O, and while they yielded some club success (Mr. Orlando was unstoppable in the '80s), they didn't reach much attention beyond that. Undaunted, Neil and Chris parted ways with Bobby, found another producer in Stephen Hague, re-recorded those initial efforts, and in short order made lots of money. Holy cow, what a turnaround!

Please was an undeniable, inescapable hit if all that chart action is anything to go by (as high as number three in Canada, and just as successful in their native UK), but it was the lead single of West End Girls that propelled it to such highs. Beyond being an irresistible slice of '80s synth-pop, it vividly paints a portrait of life on the seedier side of inner city existence, an alluring invite to walk on the wrong side of town where the upper-crust fear to tread. In fact, much of Please plays out like that, Neil's lyrics often portraying folks from disparate classes intermingling with each other as they figure out how to exist in the hyper-consumerist '80s. Much has been written of the 'irony' in such songs, celebrations of 'capitalism' by those who totally suck at it, but even if taken at sincere, face-value, they're remarkably effective at appealing to all working classes. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to act out the narrator in Opportunities (Gotta' Get That Chedda')?

What I want to know is, how has Please not been adapted into a creenplay or musical? Intended or not, the narrative is right there, a failing suburbanite looking to escape what he perceives as a falsely-cheery wasteland (Surburbia) into something a little more thrilling (Two Divided By Zero, West End Girls, Tonight Is Forever, Violence) and unpredictable (Opportunities, Why Don't We Live Together?). The music is already exuberant enough for Broadway, and Pet Shop Boys have shown plenty of savvy in stage theatrics. Seems like a sure-win to me.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Mick Chillage - Paths

Databloem: 2016

I spent a huge chunk of my last Mick Chillage review endlessly going on about music formats, nearly rendering (M)odes a hilarious/frustrating non-review. Not this time though. I'm giving Paths all the musical critical hyper-practical attention it deserves. But first, some background on Databloem!

I've name-dropped the label in the past, on account artists I've covered before have released material through them. Finally digging through their catalogue proper-like, I didn't realize how wide a net Databloem casts. They've put out albums from students of '80s old-school ambient (Oöphoi! Tau Ceti! Steve Stoll! Mathias Grassow!) to students of '90s school ambient (Chillage! Norris as Nacht Plank! Segue! Lingua Lustra!), and a whole lot more I don't recognize in the slightest (I think sgnl_fltr appeared on an Ultimae compilation one time). They aren't a large label by any stretch – fifteen years in business, with a half-dozen releases per – but as they came upon that anniversary, Databloem felt a swagger-itch in need of scratching. Their solution was rounding up some artists who'd released prior music on their print, and have them craft whole new albums in celebration. Only, a regular LP just wouldn't do, oh no. To celebrate fifteen years, Databloem shot for nothing less than the double-LP experience for each artist. I... can't say I've ever seen that happen before, so points for unique marketing.

Of course, dealing with ambient producers here, knocking out a couple fifty-plus minute compositions to fill that running length ain't no th'ang. And while Mick Chillage doesn't typically go to those runtimes in his works, he does indulge himself to that degree in the fifty minute long Three Years. Beyond being something of a nod to the '80s school of ambient though, I'm struggling to justify such a length. The opening section has flowing pad synths, and under normal circumstances, tidily wraps up around the thirteen minute mark, a suitable length for this sort of track. But a single, low drone carries on, and we're eventually introduced to spacier, minimalist doodling with piano touches – rather '90s style. That carries on for another twelve or so minutes, then things go brighter with drawn-out strings (I'm hesitant to drop the 'modern classical' tag on it). There's a return to prior elements for the lengthy finish, but man does Three Years ever take its time getting there. And if you feel I've spent too much word-count detailing a single track out of twelve, it's kinda' hard ignoring such a behemoth of a composition.

Three Years essentially eats up the bulk of CD2, with a couple 'shorter' ambient pieces that tread close to the realms of New Age ambient rounding it out (Hearts Of Space, yo'). If you have a craving for Chillage beats though, CD1 should get your fix in, some even getting downright peppy and funky with it (Canis Majoris). It isn't anything we haven't heard from Mick before, but chap's got a solid groove going such that he doesn't need convoluted wheels at this point.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Memex - Memory Index

Carpe Sonum Records: 2016

This is, what, the tenth collaborative project Lee Norris has partaken? Dude's a machine as of late, sucking all nearby producers into his studio. Or Skype sessions. Or whatever musicians use to share ideas and tracks over the interwebs these days. I kinda' hope they still do in-studio sessions though, the synergy between two creative people interlocking their mental and physical beings into a twisting ballet of- and there it is. I almost went five years on this blog without succumbing to a pseudo slash-fic joke.

Anyhow, we all know Mr. Norris' story, so let's focus a bit on the other half of this Memex partnership, one Darren McClure. He's been making music for a little over a decade now, and if his Discogian info is accurate, has seldom released material on a label twice, Impulive Habitat getting the honor. Of his thirteen officially listed albums (including many other collaborations), he has music with The Land Of, Symbolic Interaction, Unknown Tone Records, Dragon's Eye Recordings, Nova Fund Recordings, [Not On Label], and Inner Ocean Records. You may remember that last one as the Calgary print I snatched up a couple CDs from, among them a Porya Hatami LP. He likely hooked up with Mr. McClure through that association (both residing in Japan probably helped), as the two put out a collaborative album called In-Between Spaces on Lee's label ...txt. Ah-HAH, and thus we get our link to Norris! From which the two worked together... under a unique alias? And released the result on Carpe Sonum Records?? Huh, maybe Darren wanted to keep that 'one release for one label' thing going.

As for the music Mr. McClure makes, it's mostly of the soft drone and field recordings sort, at least of the clutch of samples I listened to. He doesn't have much on Spotify, making a splurge there difficult – plenty on Bandcamp though, but Bandcamp binging isn't terribly convenient. Still, having taken in enough for a reasonable overview of his sound, I have to say I'm surprised by how little I hear of it in this Memex project.

For sure it crops up here and there among the seven tracks that make up Memory Index. Swing Strings has flowing water sounds and mechanical drones, Just Wake Up utilizes ghostly passages like being lost in a robot park, In Advance has twittering birds and crunchy static, and Steps In The Way bubbles with shoegazey fuzz. Short ambient piece Disengage is about the only track where it feels like McClure's style dominates though. Mostly, this album is led by Norris' ambient techno beatcraft and bleepy melodica, ofttimes coming off rather retro in a HIA sort of way.

Which is fine where I'm concerned – can never get enough of that vintage 'bleep ambient' action. I just figured I'd hear more of Mr. McClure's aesthetic in this effort. Or is he also down with the acid-chill sound, but with little opportunity to explore it before? Freedom to indulge rhythms at last!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Gorillaz - Humanz (Proper Review)

Parlaphone: 2017

I wonder what comes first when Albarn and Hewlett reconvene for another Gorillaz saga: the music, or the concept. Like, I imagine ol' Damon would have a few demos kicking around, and ol' Jamie would have a few sketches laying about, but what's the process coming up with all the intriguing backstory for their multi-media creation. I mentioned in the Kayfabe Review of Humanz that Russel Hobbs, the Gorillaz drummer with a myriad of urban American influences and North Korean incarceration, was a dominating force in how the album turned out, but was that just the story Albarn and Hewlett concocted after the fact, or did they adapt the music to serve the narrative?

Another example: there's not much of 2-D/Albarn's singing voice on Humanz. That's because the Gorillaz cartoon front-man was lost on a Mexican beach, subsisting on rotting whale meat and coarse sand (it gets everywhere). Luckily, he eventually found his way back to the studio to offer his vocal talents, but in his absence, guest vocalists Murdoc and Russel rounded up (re: Albarn connected with) took over most of the singing duties. Was 2-D's story planned this way, or made up on the fly when Damon realized his voice was taking more of a backseat on Humanz. It's a fascinating conundrum, the Gorillaz process.

Much has been said about the musical drift from 'mutant pop' of older Gorillaz albums, instead going for more of a funk, house, and soul fusion. Can't deny it was a little off-putting for yours truly, having repeatedly consumed their previous works rather voraciously in anticipation of this one. Then again, when I first heard Plastic Beach, I was initially put off by it as well, sounding very little like Demon Days. And even Demon Days I put off for years, figuring it couldn't possibly match the dubby, erratic fun of the debut album. Yet I've replayed all those albums multiple times now, as I'm sure I will with Humanz. Albarn never gives us the same thing twice with Gorillaz, and while that can be frustrating for those hoping for retreads of Clint Eastwood or DARE or On Melancholy Hill, they clearly aren't paying attention to the project's expectation-dashing intentions.

Fortunately, as I already have an affinity for house beats, and can dig the funk and soul if its got that Motown or Chicago vibe going, I warmed to Humanz quite quickly. Saturnz Barz is just as catchy as any of the band's previous dub-fusion tracks of years past, it's nice hearing Jamie Principle in the slinky electro of Sex Murder Party, and who can resist the uplifting swing of Peven Everett's vocals in house jam Strobelite? Plus ending the album with pure jubilation collaboration of We Got The Power (Jarre! Jehnny! A Gallagher!!), whoo! Ending it with such a musical cliff-hanger does leave one expecting though, but fortunately there's a 2CD version with bonus tracks that carry the party on a little longer. Of course I sprung for it!

Gorillaz - Humanz (Kayfabe Review)

Parlaphone: 2017

This is a band that always flies too close the sun with each release, co-existing just long enough to make great music, then utterly flame out as tensions, strife, demons (figurative and literal), distractions, and ego get in the way. True, it's almost always the fault of Murdoc Niccals, but then again there wouldn't be Gorillaz without his unholy deals vision – I mean, have you ever seen 2-D, Russel, or Noodles put out a proper solo album of their own? They may hate and resent his guts, but they cannot deny Murdoc provides them opportunities too.

But in this case, it seemed that Plastic Beach truly was destined to be their final work. Details are 'sketchy' over what happened at Point Nemo (because, haha, they're literally sketched in the Rhinestone Eyes video, hahaha!), but we finally do know where everyone disappeared to after the Boogieman's assault on the trash island, each involved on their own personal journeys of introspection, self-reflection, emancipation, and incarceration. This last one is most important, for we probably wouldn't have this Gorillaz album without it.

Murdoc could outrun pirates, gun-runners, and devils no problem, but one entity he could never escape is the record label, specifically EMI. They somehow tracked him down after his escape from Point Nemo, throwing him into a dungeon underneath Abbey Road studio, offering freedom on the condition he get back to making another contractually obligated Gorillaz album. That left him a pickle though, as all his former bandmates were missing elsewhere. Fortunately, resourceful sod that he is, Murdoc kidnapped aggressively invited a number of musicians to help make the album until he could find the other Gorillaz members (cyborg option outlawed in the UK?).

By chance, one of these musicians was guitarist Jeff Wootton, whom was letting a returning Russel crash on his couch. Seems Mr. Hobs had quite the experience after swimming all the way to Point Nemo, being mistaken not only for a whale, but also a North Korean kaiju, such that the isolationist nation captured him and put him on display. The experience helped him lose almost all the his mutated weight however, and upon being released and returning to London, heard word Murdoc was in the process of crafting another Gorillaz record. Mr. Hobs immediately joined him in studio to write and record for the album.

Humanz is thus filled with a fair bit of American-inspired funk, house, and soul. For sure there's other elements at work too, but for the most part it seems Russel's influence gave us the final result. About time, as he hasn't had much chance to share his muse throughout the Gorillaz discography since the first record. His time spent in a dictatorial country also apparently gave him a unique perspective in what sort of theme to approach the album with. For instance, what if Western society was also overrun by power-hungry lunatics at the highest levels of government, all the while allowing our culture to crumble around us. No way that could happen here though! Haha, ha.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Jiri.Ceiver - Head.Phon

Harthouse: 1995

Jiri.Ceiver strikes me as one of those techno producers that could have gone down as Very Important, had things gone just slightly differently for the chap. For sure appearing on Sven Väth's lauded Harthouse print gave him plenty of exposure, but he had some tough acts to follow from the label's opening salvo (Hardfloor, Spicelab, Der Dritte Raum, Alter Ego, Koxbox). Couple that with the fact Frankfurt's brand of techno was coming off a tad dated by 1995, the blistering BPMs and hypnotic melodies falling out of favour in lieu of the functionalist warehouse tools Detroit and Berlin had started cranking out. Harthouse was finding ways of adapting with these changing trends, stating they sought producers on the cutting edge of “creativity and experiments that do not necessarily originate from the Techno/House scene.” - essentially an “idea tank”, though clearly they couldn't commit full-stop to the manifesto, the IDM wonks leagues beyond anything Väth's label would churn out.

Head.Phon comes close though, for good and ill. One Arno Paul Jiri Kraehahn was already an odd sheep out of the Harthouse flock, his debut single Multiplex a weird mishmash of Frankfurt techno and bleepy electro. He followed that up by getting deeper into the acid action (Hardfloor's influence was inescapable), but eschewed anything remotely resembling a hook or melody in the process. He was on a mission to feed you weird machine sounds whether you liked it or not, functionality be damned. Hey, not a bad idea, as techno had gained a reputation for being dominated by mechanical fetishism, though always in a far-flung futuristic aesthetic, not as a contemporary sound – wasn't that what Industrial was for anyhow?

Maybe Head.Phon would have been better received with that in mind, making no illusion you're in for a challenging trip into the experimental side of techno. Half the tracks are sonic doodles and abstract noises, some like Isolate, Retrospect, Sleeps, and Tne Poise so minimalistic and quiet you'd be forgiven in thinking the CD had prematurely stopped playing. What even is the point of these? I'm not gaining any deeper appreciation for electronic abstraction with them, and musique concrete was hardly in need for a revival in the '90s when so much else kept pushing electronic music forward. They honestly come across as begrudging filler to reach a full-length album, as the main techno cuts weren't enough.

And as for these, they're a strange, esoteric bunch. Hvb and Vacui offer up bleepy, squelchy Frankfurt acid, Trental400/5 is eight minutes of soft, minimal crunchy noises and bloopy beats, Ratio sounds like proto psy-trance of around the time, and Osiac... hey, this is actually at a reasonable pace, with reasonable acid and reasonable techno toolism. Probably could have been rinsed out ten years later if Very Important Techno DJs had the single.

But yeah, because Head.Phon was too Frankfurt for techno purists, and too weird for trance fiends, it got lost in the shuffle, as did most of Jiri.Ceiver's work. A shame.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

ACE TRACKS: June 2017

So June was a busier month than anticipated, mostly having little to do with things bloggy related. For one, it finally came time to get a new computer, one completely built on my own. Okay, with an assist from a friend who's more knowledgeable about these things than I. And all the actual physical building was done at a computer tech shop. But for the first time ever, I went into that shop and told 'em the specs I would need to get as modernized as possible, just so I wouldn't have to worry about this stuff for as long as possible. Prior to this, I'd either get used hand-me-downs, request some basic box from a repair shop, or win laptops in raffles (for reals!). And what precipitated my need for a new piece of hardware with all the trimmings? Um... I was still running Vista, and after that whole Ransomware scare, realized I couldn't upgrade that OS due to Microsoft's abandonment of it. Yeah, I'm one of those 'why bother upgrading if you don't have to?' sorts. Not with my headphone gear tho'!

And what else? Oh, another small trip. Getting a bout of sunstroke (playing b-ball in the open sun isn't a good idea, who knew!). Enjoying the NBA Finals (haha, suck it, Cavs). Finding my [Hot Shots] golf game again. Fixing a coding glitch that affected a significant chunk of my cover images (one... by... one...) Buying a Bluetooth wireless speaker for use at work, which is boss for taking into whatever area I'm working in that day, but has also proven quite the hog on my streaming data, but that's alright 'cause I already pay a max plan that I seldom got full use of anyway. You know, the usual malarkey. Hey, enough of that, here's ACE TRACKS for this past month.

Sense - A View From A Vulnerable Place
Ceephax - Volume Two

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 0% (not even from Gorillaz!)
Percentage Of Rock: 14%
Most 'WTF?' Track: Either Pantera or Stuart McLean, depending whether hard metal or spoken word gives you more of a musical whiplash in this playlist.

Do you like Gorillaz? Sure you do! But do you like Gorillaz b-sides? Well, you better, 'cause this playlist is full of 'em. Plus the usual assortment of ambient new-and-old, with a little smattering of house, techno, trance, and wherever you want to lump 808 State's style this particular day.

And yeah, another letter down – told you 'V' wasn't much to get fussed over. 'W' should be just around the corner (next month), and after the requisite backlog following that letter, it's on to the final stretch. Why, I might even get it all finished this year! How much is my building backlog right now anyway? Oh... oh dear GOD!! *is buried beneath Bandcamp bulk deals*

Things I've Talked About

...txt 10 Records 16 Bit Lolita's 1963 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 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 2018 2019 20xx Update 2562 3 Loop Music 302 Acid 36 3FORCE 3six Recordings 4AD 6 x 6 Records 75 Ark 7L & Esoteric 808 State A Perfect Circle A Positive Life A-Wave a.r.t.less A&M Records A&R Records Abandoned Communities Abasi Above and Beyond abstract Ace Trace Ace Tracks Playlists Ace Ventura acid acid house acid jazz acid techno acoustic Acroplane Recordings Adam Freeland Adham Shaikh ADNY Adrian Younge adult contemporary Advanced UFO Phantom Aegri Somnia Aes Dana Afrika Bambaataa Afro-house Afterhours Agoria Aidan Casserly Aira Mitsuki Ajana Records Ajna AK1200 Akshan album Aldrin Alex Smoke Alex Theory Alice In Chains Alien Community Alien Project Alio Die All Saints Alphabet Zoo Alphaxone Altar Records Alter Ego alternative rock Alucidnation Ambelion Ambidextrous ambient ambient dub ambient techno Ambient World Ambientium Ametsub Amon Tobin Amplexus Anabolic Frolic Anatolya Andrea Parker Andrew Heath Androcell Anduin Andy C anecdotes Aniplex Anjunabeats Annibale Records Anodize Another Fine Day Antendex anthem house Anthony Paul Kerby Anthony Rother Anti-Social Network Aoide Aphasia Records Aphex Twin Apócrýphos Apollo Apple Records April Records Aqua Aquarellist Aquascape Aquasky Aquila Arcade Architects Of Existence arena rock Arista Armada Armin van Buuren Arpatle Arts & Crafts ASC Ashtech Asia Asian Dub Foundation Astral Projection Astral Waves Astralwerks AstroPilot Asura Asylum Records ATCO Records Atlantic Atlantis atmospheric jungle Atomic Hooligan Atrium Carceri Attic Attoya Audion AuroraX Autechre Autistici Autumn Of Communion Avantgarde Aveparthe Avicii Axiom Axs Axtone Records Aythar B.G. The Prince Of Rap B°TONG B12 Babygrande Balance Balanced Records Balearic ballad Banco de Gaia Bandulu Battle Axe Records battle-rap Bauri Beastie Boys Beat Buzz Records Beatbox Machinery Beats & Pieces bebop Beck Bedouin Soundclash Bedrock Records Beechwood Music Benny Benassi Bent Benz Street US Berlin-School Beto Narme Beyond bhangra Bicep big beat Big Boi Big L Big Life Bill Hamel Bill Laswell BIlly Idol BineMusic BioMetal Biophon Records Biosphere Bipolar Music BKS Black Hole Recordings black rebel motorcycle club Black Swan Sounds Blanco Y Negro Blasterjaxx Blend Blood Music Blow Up Blue Amazon Blue Öyster Cult blues Bluescreen Bluetech BMG Boards Of Canada Bob Dylan Bob Marley Bobina Bogdan Raczynzki Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Boney M Bong Load Records Bonzai Boogie Down Productions Booka Shade Botchit & Scarper Bows Boxed Boys Noize Boysnoize Records BPitch Control braindance Brandt Brauer Frick Brasil & The Gallowbrothers Band breakbeats breakcore breaks Brian Eno Brian Wilson Brick Records Britpop Brodinski broken beat Brooklyn Music Ltd Bryan Adams BT Bubble Buffalo Springfield Bulk Recordings Burial Burned CDs Bursak Records Bush Busta Rhymes C.I.A. Calibre calypso Canibus Canned Resistor Capitol Records Capsula Captured Digital Carbon Based Lifeforms Carl B Carl Craig Carol C Caroline Records Carpe Sonum Records Castroe Cat Sun CD-Maximum Ceephax Acid Crew Celestial Dragon Records Cell Celtic Cevin Fisher Cheb i Sabbah Cheeky Records chemical breaks Chihei Hatakeyama chill out chill-out chiptune Chris Duckenfield Chris Fortier Chris Korda Chris Sheppard Chris Witoski Christmas Christopher Lawrence Chromeo Chronos Chrysalis Ciaran Byrne cinematic soundscapes Circular Cirrus Cities Last Broadcast City Of Angels CJ Stone Claptone classic house classic rock classical Claude Young Clear Label Records Cleopatra Cloud 9 Club Cutz Club Tools Cocoon Recordings Cold Spring Coldcut Coldplay coldwave Colette collagist Columbia Com.Pact Records comedy Compilation Comrie Smith Connect.Ohm conscious Control Music Convextion Cooking Vinyl Cor Fijneman Corderoy Cosmic Gate Cosmic Replicant Cosmo Cocktail Cosmos Studios Cottonbelly Council Of Nine Counter Records country country rock Covert Operations Recordings Craig Padilla Crazy Horse Cream Creamfields Creedence Clearwater Revival Crockett's Theme Crosby Stills And Nash Crosstown Rebels crunk Cryo Chamber Cryobiosis Cryogenic Weekend Cryostasis Crystal Moon Cube Guys Culture Beat Curb Records Current Curve cut'n'paste Cyan Music Cyber Productions CyberOctave Cyclic Law Cygna Cyril Secq Czarface D-Bridge D-Fuse D-Topia Entertainment Dacru Records Daddy G Daft Punk Dag Rosenqvist Damian Lazarus Damon Albarn Dan The Automator Dance 2 Trance Dance Pool dancehall Daniel Heatcliff Daniel Lentz Daniel Pemberton Daniel Wanrooy Danny Howells Danny Tenaglia Dao Da Noize dark ambient dark psy darkcore darkside darkstep darkwave Darla Records Darren McClure Darren Nye DAT Records Databloem dataObscura David Alvarado David Bickley David Bridie David Guetta David Morley DDR De-tuned Dead Coast Dead Melodies Deadmau5 Death Grips Death Row Records Decimal Dedicated Deejay Goldfinger Deep Dish Deep Forest deep house Deeply Rooted House Deepwater Black Deetron Def Jam Recordings Del Tha Funkee Homosapien Delerium Delsin Deltron 3030 Depeche Mode Der Dritte Raum Derek Carr Detroit Devin Underwood Deysn Masiello DFA DGC diametric. Dido Dieselboy Different DigiCube Dillinja dirty house Dirty South Dirty Vegas disco Disco Gecko disco house Disco Pinata Records disco punk Discover (label) Disky Disques Dreyfus Distant System Distinct'ive Breaks Disturbance Divination 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 Soul Slinger DJ-Kicks Djen Ajakan Shean DJMag DMC DMC Records Doc Scott Dogon Dogwhistle Dooflex Dopplereffekt Dossier Dousk downtempo dowtempo Dr. Atmo Dr. Dre Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Dr. Octagon Dragon Quest dream house dream pop DreamWorks Records Drexciya drill 'n' bass Dronarivm drone Dronny Darko drum 'n' bass DrumNBassArena 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 Eastcost EastWest Eastworld 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 Electronic Music Guide Electrovoya Elektra Elektrolux em:t EMC update EMI Emiliana Torrini Eminem Emmerichk Emperor Norton Empire enCAPSULAte Engine Recordings Enigma Enmarta EP Epic epic trance EQ Recordings Erased Tapes Records Eric Borgo Erik Vee Erol Alkan Escape Esoteric Reactive ethereal Etnica Etnoscope Euphoria euro dance eurotrance Eurythmics Eve Records Everlast Ewan Pearson Exitab experimental Eye Q Records Ezdanitoff F Communications Fabric Fade Records Faithless Falcon Reekon Fallen fanfic Fantastisizer Fantasy Enhancing 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 Firescope Five AM Fjäder Flashover Recordings Floating Points Flowers For Bodysnatchers Flowjob Fluke Flying Lotus folk Fontana footwork Force Intel Fountain Music Four Tet FPU Frank Bretschneider Frankie Bones Frankie Knuckles Frans de Waard Fred Everything freestyle French house Front Line Assembly Fugees full-on Fun Factory funk future garage Future Sound Of London futurepop g-funk gabber Gabriel Le Mar Gaither Music Group Galaktlan Galati Gang Starr gangsta garage Gareth Davis Gary Martin Gas Gasoline Alley Records Gee Street Geffen Records Gel-Sol Genesis Geometry Combat Gerald Donald Get Physical Music ghetto Ghostface Killah Ghostly International glam Gliese 581C glitch Global Communication Global Underground Globular goa trance God Body Disconnect Gorillaz gospel Gost goth Grammy Awards Gravediggaz Green Day Grey Area Greytone Gridlock grime Groove Armada Groove Corporation Grooverider grunge Guru Gustaf Hidlebrand Gusto Records GZA H2O Records Haddaway Halgrath happy hardcore hard house hard rock hard techno hard trance hardcore Hardfloor hardstyle Harlequins Enigma Harmless Harmonic 33 Harold Budd Harthouse Harthouse Mannheim Hawtin Hearts Of Space Hed Kandi Hefty Records Helen Marnie Hell Hercules And Love Affair Hernán Cattáneo Hexstatic Hi-Bias Records Hic Sunt Leones Hide And Sequence Hiero Emperium Hieroglyphics High Contrast High Note Records Higher Ground Higher Intelligence Agency Hilyard hip-hop hip-house hipno Home Normal Honest Jon's Records Hooj Choons Hope Records horrorcore Hospital Records Hot Chip Hotflush Recordings house Howie B Huey Lewis & The News Human Blue Hybrid Hybrid Leisureland Hymen Records Hyperdub Hypertrophy hypnotic records I Awake I-Cube i! Records I.F.O.R. I.R.S. Records Iboga Records Ice Cube Ice H2o Records ICE MC IDM Igorrr illbient Imperial Dancefloor Imploded View In Charge In Trance We Trust Incoming Incubus Indica Records indie rock Industrial Infected Mushroom Infinite Guitar influence records Infonet Ink Midget 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 Ishq Island Records Islands Of Light Italians Do It Better italo disco italo house Item Caligo J-pop Jack Moss Jackpot Jacob Newman Jafu Jake Stephenson Jam and Spoon Jam El Mar James Blake James Horner James Murray James Zabiela Jamie Jones Jamie Myerson Jamie Principle Jamiroquai Javelin Ltd. Jay Haze Jay Tripwire Jaydee jazz jazz dance jazzdance jazzstep Jean-Michel Jarre Jefferson Airplane Jerry Goldsmith Jesper Dahlbäck Jimmy Van M Jiri.Ceiver Jive Jive Electro Jliat Jlin Joel Mull Joey Beltram John '00' Fleming John Acquaviva John Beltran John Digweed John Graham John Kelly John O'Callaghan John Oswald John Shima Johnny Cash Johnny Jewel Jonny L Jori Hulkkonen Joris Voorn Jørn Stenzel Josh Christie Josh Wink Journeys By DJ™ LLC Joyful Noise Recordings Juan Atkins juke Jump Cut jump up Jumpin' & Pumpin' jungle Junior Boy's Own Junkie XL Juno Reactor Jurassic 5 Kaico Kay Wilder KDJ Ken Ishii Kenji Kawai Kenny Glasgow Keoki Keosz Kerri Chandler Kevin Braheny Kevin Yost Kevorkian Records Khooman Khruangbin Ki/oon Kid Koala Kiko Kinetic Records King Cannibal King Midas Sound King Tubby Kitaro Klang Elektronik Klaus Schulze Klik Records KMFDM Koch Records Koichi Sugiyama Kolhoosi 13 Komakino Kompakt Kon Kan Kool Keith Kozo Kraftwelt Kraftwerk Krafty Kuts krautrock Kriistal Ann Krill.Minima Kris O'Neil Kriztal KRS-One Kruder and Dorfmeister Krusseldorf Kubinski KuckKuck Kulor Kurupt Kwook L.B. Dub Corp L.S.G. L'usine Lab 4 Ladytron LaFace Records Lafleche Lamb Lange Large Records Lars Leonhard Laserlight Digital LateNightTales Latin Laurent Garnier LCD Soundsystem Le Moors Leaf Leama and Moor Lee 'Scratch' Perry Lee Burridge Lee Norris Leftfield Legacy Legiac Legowelt Leon Bolier Les Disques Du Crépuscule LFO Linear Labs Lingua Lustra liquid funk Liquid Sound Design Liquid Stranger Liquid Zen Live live album LL Cool J 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 Lotek Records Loud Records Louderbach Loverboy Luaka Bop Luciano Luke Slater Lustmord M_nus M.A.N.D.Y. M.I.K.E. Madonna Magda Magik Muzik Mahiane Mali Mammoth Records Mantacoup Marc Simz Marcel Dettmann Marcel Fengler Marco Carola Marco V Marcus Intalex 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 Metamatics Method Man Metroplex Metropolis MF Doom Miami Bass Miami Beach Force Miami Dub Machine Michael Brook Michael Jackson Michael Mantra 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 Mistical Mixmag Mo Wax Mo-Do MO-DU Moby Model 500 modern classical Modeselektor Moist Music Moodymann Moonshine Morgan Morphology Moss Garden Motech Motorbass Moving Shadow Mujaji Murk Murmur Mushy Records Music link Music Man Records musique concrete Mutant Sound System Mute MUX Muzik Magazine My Best Friend Mystery Tape Laboratory Mystica Tribe Mystified N-Trance Nacht Plank Nadia Ali Nas Nashville Natural Midi Nature Sounds Naughty By Nature Nebula Neil Young Neo-Adventures Neon Droid Neotantra Neotropic nerdcore Nervous Records Nettwerk Neurobiotic Records New Age New Beat New Jack Swing new wave Nic Fanciulli Nick Höppner Night Time Stories Nightwind Records Nimanty Nine Inch Nails Ninja Tune Nirvana nizmusic No Mask Effect Nobuo Uematsu noise Nomad Nonesuch Nonplus Records Nookie Nordic Trax Norman Feller North South Northumbria Not Now Music Nothing Records Nova NovaMute NRG Ntone nu-italo nu-jazz nu-skool Nuclear Blast Entertainment Nulll Nunc Stans Nurse With Wound NXP Oasis Octagen Offshoot Offshoot Records Ol' Dirty Bastard Olan Mill Old Europa Cafe old school rave Ole Højer Hansen Olga Musik Olien Oliver Lieb Olsen OM Records Omni Trio Omnimotion Omnisonus One Little Indian Oophoi Oosh Open Open Canvas Opium Opus III orchestral Original TranceCritic review Origo Sound Orkidea Orla Wren Ornament Ostgut Ton Ott Ottsonic Music Ouragan Out Of The Box OutKast Outpost Records Overdream P-Ben Paleowolf Pan Sonic Pantera Pantha Du Prince Paolo Mojo Parlaphone Patreon Paul Moelands Paul Oakenfold Paul van Dyk Pendulum Perfect Stranger Perfecto Perturbator Pet Shop Boys Petar Dundov Pete Namlook Pete Tong Peter Andersson Peter Benisch Peter Broderick Peter Gabriel Peter Tosh Phantogram Phonothek Photek Phutureprimitive Phynn PIAS Recordings Pinch Pink Floyd Pioneer Pitch Black PJ Harvey Plaid Planet Dog Planet Earth Recordings Planet Mu Planetary Assault Systems Planetary Consciousness Plastic City Plastikman Platinum Platipus Pleq Plump DJs Plunderphonic Plus 8 Records PM Dawn Poker Flat Recordings Pole Folder politics Polydor Polytel pop Popular Records Porya Hatami post-dubstep power electronics Prince Prince Paul Prins Thomas Priority Records Profondita 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 psy-chill psychedelia Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia Psychomanteum Psychonavigation Psychonavigation Records Psycoholic Psykosonik Psysolation Public Enemy punk punk rock Pureuphoria Records Purl Purple Soil Push PWL International Quadrophonia Quality Quango Quantum Quinlan Road R & S Records R'n'B R&B Rabbit In The Moon Radio Slave Radioactive Radioactive Man Radiohead Rae Raekwon ragga Rainbow Vector raison d'etre Ralph Lawson RAM Records Randal Collier-Ford Random Review Rank 1 rant Rapoon RareNoise Records Ras Command Rascalz Raster-Noton Ratatat Raum Records RCA React Red Jerry Refracted reggae remixes Renaissance Renaissance Man Rephlex Reprise Records Republic Records Resist Music Restless Records RetroSynther Reverse Alignment Rhino Records Rhys Fulber Ricardo Villalobos Richard Durand Riley Reinhold Ringo Sheena 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 Ruben Garcia Rumour Records Running Back Ruthless Records RZA S.E.T.I. Sabled Sun SadGirl Sakanaction Salt Tank Salted Music Salvation Music Samim Samora sampling Sanctuary Records Sander van Doorn Sandoz SantAAgostino Sarah McLachlan Sash Sasha Saul Stokes Scandinavian Records Scann-Tec sci-fi Scooter Scott Grooves Scott Hardkiss Scott Stubbs Scuba Seán Quinn Seaworthy Segue Sense Sentimony Records Sequential Seraphim Rytm Setrise Seven Davis Jr. Sghor sgnl_fltr Shackleton Shaded Explorations Shaded Explorer Shadow Records Sharam Shawn Francis shoegaze Si Matthews SideOneDummy Records Sidereal Signature Records SiJ Silent Season Silent Universe Silentes Silentes Minimal Editions Silicone Soul silly gimmicks Silver Age Simian Mobile Disco Simon Berry Simon Heath Simon Posford Simon Scott Simple Records Sinden Sine Silex single Single Gun Theory Sire Records Company Six Degrees Sixeleven Records Sixtoo ska Skare Skin To Skin Skua Atlantic Slaapwel Records Slam Sleep Research Facility Slinky Music Sly and Robbie Smalltown Supersound SME Visual Works Inc. SMTG Limited Snap Sneijder Snoop Dogg Snowy Tension Pole soft rock Soiree Records International Solar Fields Solaris Recordings Solarstone Solieb Soliquid Solstice Music Europe Soma Quality Recordings Songbird Sony Music Entertainment SOS soul Soul Temple Entertainment soul:r Souls Of Mischief Sound Of Ceres Soundgarden Sounds From The Ground soundtrack southern rap southern rock space ambient Space Dimension Controller space disco Space Manoeuvres space synth Spacetime Continuum Spaghetti Recordings Spank Rock Special D Specta Ciera speed garage Speedy J SPG Music Spicelab Spielerei Spiritech spoken word Spotify Suggestions Spotted Peccary SPX Digital Squarepusher Squaresoft Stacey Pullen Stanton Warriors Star Trek Stardust Statrax Stay Up Forever Stephanie B Stephen Kroos Steve Angello Steve Brand Steve Lawler Steve Miller Band Steve Porter Steven Rutter Stijn van Cauter Stone Temple Pilots Stonebridge Stormloop Stray Gators Street Fighter Stuart McLean Studio K7 Stylophonic Sub Focus Subharmonic Sublime Sublime Porte Netlabel Subotika Substance Suduaya Sun Station Sunbeam Sunday Best Recordings Supercar Superstition surf rock Susumu Yokota Sven Väth Swayzak Sweet Trip swing Switch Swollen Members Sylk 130 Symmetry Sync24 Synergy Synkro synth pop synth-pop synthwave System 7 Tactic Records Take Me To The Hospital Tall Paul Tammy Wynette Tangerine Dream Tau Ceti Taylor Tayo tech house tech-house tech-step tech-trance Technical Itch techno technobass Technoboy Tectonic Telefon Tel Aviv Terminal Antwerp Terra Ferma Terry Lee Brown Jr Textere Oris The Angling Loser The B-52's The Beach Boys The Beatles The Black Dog The Brian Jonestown Massacre The Bug The Chemical Brothers The Circular Ruins The Clash The Council The Cranberries The Crystal Method The Digital Blonde The Dust Brothers The Field The Gentle People The Glimmers The Green Kingdom The Grey Area The Hacker The Herbaliser 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 Sabres Of Paradise The Shamen The Sharp Boys The Sonic Voyagers The Squires The Tea Party The Tragically Hip The Velvet Underground The Wailers The White Stripes The Winterhouse themes Thievery Corporation Third Contact Third World Tholen Thrive Records Tiefschwarz Tiësto Tiga Tiger & Woods Time Life Music Time Warp Timecode Timestalker Tipper Tobias Tocadisco Todd Terje Tom Middleton Tomita Tommy Boy Ton T.B. 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Records Warp Records Warren G Water Music Dance Wave Recordings Wave Records Waveform Records Wax Trax Records Way Out West WEA Wednesday Campanella Weekend Players Weekly Mini-Review Werk Discs Werkstatt Recordings WestBam White Swan Records Wichita Will Saul William Orbit Willie Nelson world beat world music writing reflections Wrong Records Wu-Tang Clan Wurrm Wyatt Keusch Xerxes The Dark XL Recordings XTT Recordings Yamaoko Yello Yes Ylid Youth Youtube YoYo Records Yul Records Zenith ZerO One Zoharum Zomby Zoo Entertainment ZTT Zyron ZYX Music µ-Ziq