Monday, October 30, 2017

The Oak Ridge Boys - Favorite Songs

Sony Music Select: 1992

Greetings, Past-Peoples. It is I, once again, 2073 Sykonee, of the far flung son of a past-man. Not a preacher man, though he did often orate to masses large and small about getting down to Swingtown. He was quite Smooth about it too, but alas, his time came and went, the flocks no longer there to hear his sage Messages In Bottles. Eh? Nah, this didn't happen in my-past/your-future – it's already happened, and cannot be prevented. Folks may enjoy a bar band when visiting their local waterhole, but not many proprietors pay for them, especially 'established musicians', who are well past the point of just looking for a chance to play to a live audience for drinks and gas money.

And yes, we still have bands that go on tours by my time, though very few of them bother with actual instruments anymore. Heckles, I recall it being as such even back thenners, almost all the major new big stars singers and rappers and mumblers and criers. These days, we still get singers and rappers, but also crooners, boxers, and acapellers. With most new music generated automatically to our specific whims via streamloads, the only skill that impresses anyone is what they can do with their voice. You're damn skippy, drippy-hippies, that the Mongolian throat singers took over the Cascadian airwaves like a new horde of dorpeness. Vocalizations is where it's all at in the new-modern.

Which helps explain the enduring popularity of The Oak Ridge Boys for so long. For certain they aren't as dynamic as Afro Veldt-Funk, and it's undeniable they're a product of their time and place, back when the American States weren't so fragmented... until they were again. Hey, the group's existed long enough to see it all, y'all, every rise and fall of all the Empires and Global Dominions.

Naturally, a group as long lasting as this has amassed an extensive discography, one ripe for plundering songs into compilation form. And hoo-Nelly, do The Oak Ridge Boys have themselves a lot of compilations, such that it'd take me to the the end of my time within your time to even scratch that surface. Sykonee Prime assures all that he's gathered for me to review contain unique songs among each release, but I don't trust myself there. No way I could have done that extensive of research into this, especially on a budget.

Favorite Songs sure seems like a raggity-tagged assortment of Oak Ridge Boys tunes though. Ten songs long, it features material mostly from their Nauty-Seventies country period, but only two were actual singles (Loves Me Like A Rock and Rhythm Guitar), neither of which were charting hits. Are these favourite songs from the Boys themselves, then? They sure sound like they're having fun singing them, peppy and swinging as that era's country so often goes. Why, some of it even reminds me of an old fav' of mine, Neil Youngman, though with heavier emphasis on the Jesus stuff.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Dag Rosenqvist - Elephant

Dronarivm: 2016

As I trawl through Dronarivm albums, one thing's become clear to me: they don't really have a set roster of artists to their name. Rather, they welcome many a journeyman (and journeywoman) for a release or two, most of which already have extensive discographies behind them. Not that Dronarivm can help it, the Moscow print being in existence for a mere half-decade at this point. Either their A&R are quite efficient in bringing in veteran talent, or they quickly established a rep that made all these abstract ambient, drone-classical dudes and dudettes eager to contribute to the Dronarivm catalogue. Fair play I say, since the label's introduced me to a ton of musicians that I'd never have stumbled upon otherwise.

Maybe this Dag Rosenqvist though, as he's got quite the history in music making. His career started out as Jasper TX, releasing albums throughout the mid-'00s that leaned towards the post-rock side of things. As time went on, his guitar strums grew more abstract and droning, which has acts like Fennesz and Tim Hecker popping up in Lord Discogs' Recommendations algorithms. During this period he collaborated with other musicians under his own name, and when he retired the Jasper TX project in 2011, carried on making music as such. And he's played a part in other assorted groups like From The Mouth Of The Sun and The Silent Set. With over thirty albums to his name, the amount of labels he's appeared on is extensive, with almost none drawing recollection in my eyes (ooh, waz' this Slaapwel Records?). Just how many post-rock, ambient fuzz prints even exist?

So obviously ol' Dag has made more music than I can reasonably take in to give this here Elephant perspective among his works. From what I can glean, it touches upon many facets of his muse, tying everything together under a pseudo-narrative of dealing with tumultuous emotions long after we're told to have moved on from them. Gentle, quiet passages are interrupted with brutal distortion (oh God, does Porcelain ever do this). Touching piano leitmotifs lead to mournful reflections with horns and cellos. Tension is built through muted percussion and twitchy drone, erupting in abrasive climaxes that, even after knowing they're coming, still throws me off with dread anticipation. Throughout it all, Elephant almost cruelly teases, tugs, and toys with your senses, and I have no doubt this album captures a rather bad day for those suffering from crippling anxiety, even while doing something as simple as “out grocery shopping” or “when you ride your bike to work”, as Dag puts it. (he apparently went through some difficult times himself).

The album all plays out like a soundtrack to an intense, psychological drama, scored by an unrestrained Hans Zimmer (he loves tense builds and overbearing crescendos). The track Come Silence even has a little noir feel going for it. It's also nothing I expected from an album called Elephant, but then this little Dronarivm excursion's been chock-full of surprises. What's one more?

The Chemical Brothers - Elektrobank

Astralwerks: 1997

Nope, still haven't gotten Dig Your Own Hole. It's just not high on my priority list. In fact, it doesn't even register on such a mythical list. Like, if I find it super-duper ridiculous cheap, maybe I'd consider it just for the sake of “90s 'electronica' completionist” sake. No, the $0.52 at Amazon is still too expensive (d'at $3.49 shipping, tho'!). It'd have to be pennies, or given away by someone offloading their old CD collection in a beat-up cardboard box. Yes, I remain that jaded towards Block Rockin' Beats and Setting Sun. You cannot understand my annoyance, frustration, irritation, exasperation, and vexation hearing those songs ad nauseam though '96-'97, so desperate the rock world was in getting The Chemical Brothers over as the next Oasis or something. It ruined whatever hype I had in hearing Dig Your Own Hole when it first came out, and soured every playthrough with dreaded anticipation of hearing those tunes one... more... fucking... time.

“But wait,” say you, “even if you dislike the two big singles, there's other dope tunes on that album.” I agree. In fact, I distinctly recall having my head forcibly twisted about upon hearing Elektrobank during my initial listen way back when. Those propulsive guitar riffs, furious looping beats, random explosions recalling WipEout's frenetic action, and an instantly ear-wormy sample wherein Keith Murray ponders who might be making manufactured, trippy alpha-beta seti-zappa funkiness. Throw in one of the most badass codas to a big-beat tune I've ever heard, where everything slows right the fuck down and gets cranked beyond the eleven, and you've a classic Chem' Bros. cut that I was almost willing to get Dig Your Own Hole for alone. Almost.

Fortunately, a single option for Elektrobank exists, and for whatever stupid reason, it only occurred to me this year that I should get it. And now I do have it, and can enjoy all that psychedelic funkin' to my heart's content. There's even other cool tunes on this single, so let's dig into these too!

Not Another Drugstore is the official b-side, which you might know from the opener of Brothers Gonna' Work It Out, The Chemical Brothers' DJ mix from the same period. It's got a boozy-woozy arp for a l-o-o-o-ng lead-in before diving into some funky big-beat action and raps from Justin Warfield. Don't Stop The Rock, a surprising techno banger from Dig Your Own Hole, gets an extended Electronic Battle Weapon Version here. And if you liked the Block Rockin' Beats b-side Morning Lemon, you can hear a drab prototype of it with These Beats Are Made For Breakin'.

Then there's the Dust Brothers Remix of Elektrobank. Yes, the same Dust Brothers that The Chemical Brothers initially cribbed their handle from, and were threatened to be sued over if they didn't change their name. It's a funkier outing, heavier on showing off samples than the original, but really, you want to hear it just for the daft scenario of it all. No shame.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Aythar - Dream Of Stars

...txt: 2016

When you think about it, Aythar kinda' came outta' nowhere. Sure, there were a couple teaser tracks on Carpe Sonum's digital-only compilations, and Mr. Tamás' had been self-releasing his music for a while by then. Getting noticed in an overstuffed ambient scene is hard work though, many upon many budding producers flooding the market with their own take on noodly, calming synth pad drone works. It's almost a necessity having some label backing if you're gonna' rise above everyone else – even a compilation spot is enough in getting one's foot in that door.

Think about how many obscure acts contributed to Die Welt Ist Klang, some of which having never released official music before, that found themselves with material on a print with a little more prominence after. And man, Aythar didn't even have that going for him, which is surprising considering he was active when it came out. Maybe he sent in a contribution, but didn't make the cut? Carpe Sonum admitted they had to pare things down some to keep it at a 'minimum' of eight CDs. I suppose a proper album on the label's a nice consolation prize.

As always, Carpe Sonum never has an act they won't share with ...txt (and vice-versa). Aythar would release a new album on Lee Norris' print in due time, but as a primer to Mr. Tamás' work, a compilation of older music was released, Dream Of Stars. That's... actually quite remarkable. Usually one has to build up a little rep' on a label before they start re-issuing back-catalogue, get that hype going so new listeners might have more interest in an extended discography. I mean, what if this new act doesn't connect with the audience? Not that Aythar was in any danger of that, nosiree. It's just a curious road he's taken in getting to this point.

That all said, Norris had a bevy of material to gather from in forming Dream Of Stars. Four of Aythar's self-released albums are presented in this compilation: Cosmic Resonance (2010), A Few Light Years Away, Universe (both 2011), and The Flower Of Space (2015). Nine tracks may not seem a lot in offering an introduction-retrospective, but it does provide a tasty summation of the Aythar stylee up to that point. A Few Light Years Away gets the largest showcase, four tracks making their way in, including the titular tune of both that and this release. There is a distinct similarity between all four, with spacey pads flowing about, though Light Years works in an additional melodic lead, while Dream Of Stars gets more New Agey in its early portions before settling into chipper arps for its finish.

Something Depth and The Flower Of Space (both from the same album) also edge closer to New Age's domain, while two offerings from Universe get that Berlin-School vibe going for them. And as for Cosmic Resonance Pt. 4, well, it's no wonder Fax+ followers have taken a major notice of Aythar's music now.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Profondita - Dracarys

Altar Records: 2017

I keep thinking this act's name is Dracarys, with the album titled Profondita. Obviously that's not the case – I wouldn't be reviewing it in a block of 'D' releases if so – but Lord Discogs lists no artist with that handle, and it's a more eye-popping alias than Profondita. You could dress as kick-ass wyrms on stage, maybe get a little fire show going (safety first, always!), have albums themed around storming castles and dungeon raids. It's not unprecedented in this scene, an adored full-on psy album from over ten years ago being The Misted Muppet's From The Legend, and that one's got a whole bunch o' dragons in its cover art (shamelessly pilfered from authentic D&D sources, I suspect).

But nay, it's a Profondita we're dealing with, another obvious indicator of such being Dracarys is their second album with Altar Records. The first, Ciel, in fact came out just last year, which I totally missed since it was lodged among a pile of items that didn't catch my attention then (too wrapped up in dark ambient, I guess). I think I'll have to rectify that oversight, because if this album is any indication, then Altar Records have themselves another premiere talent in the prog-psy side of business. I mean, they did earn an Ace Track status on that Winter compilation, rubbing shoulders with AstroPilot and Asura. What more convincing must I provide? Ah, an actual review of Dracarys. Yeah, I can do that too.

The main criticism I can levy against this album is that it's rather singular in execution. Eight tracks, roughly eight to ten minutes long, all prog-psy. No room for a downtempo cut or a leftfield breaks option; even the tempo is relatively consistent throughout, though does get peppier towards album's end. Mind you, these gripes can apply to the whole genre of prog-psy, so if you've not a care about this style of music, Profondita aren't gonna' change your mind. Hell, if AstroPilot can't convince you, I don't know what will.

That settled, front to back Dracarys is some of the tastiest prog-psy I've heard in a while! Altar Records has maintained a steady level of quality for much of its run, but it's rare that an album hooks me as solidly as this one did, and holds my attention until the end. It's not even a case of Profondita doing anything significantly different from the Altar norm – they just do it with such astounding skill. Their rhythms have plenty of drive while remaining that steady rudder the best prog always offers. The trancey leads tickle your lobes while sending your consciousness floating out in the cosmos (or high in the canopy if you're at a bush party). There's no excessive samples or over-indulgent effects wank. Just solid track after solid track after solid track.

I've played prog albums that struggle getting even one memorable tune in, and here's Profondita dropping eight of 'em! Absolutely that's bang for your buck, my friends.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Derek Carr - Distant Systems

Firescope: 2017

When I heard there was a new album from Distant System, I couldn't believe it. I've been keeping tabs on Tyler Smith's wonderful, neglected project for ages now, and to have it suddenly pop up out of nowhere? That can't be right! But the cover art sure looks like something the psy side of music would put out. What's going on with- oh, it's an album titled Distant Systems, from Irish techno producer Derek Carr (not to be confused with NFL quarterback Derek Carr). Well, that's almost as spiffy – I liked Mr. Carr's The Digital Space Race, and was interested in developments his career would take since Psychonavigation Records imploded. Still, unintentional as it was, it's a bit of a tease calling his new EP Distant Systems from where I'm sitting. The struggle is real...

Anyhow, Derek Carr has found himself a new home with an intriguing little print called Firescope, who's parent label is B12 Records. Yes, that B12, they of early UK techno legend with Warp Records. I can't say I've gotten into the duo to the same degree as their peers like The Black Dog and Aphex Twin, for no better reason than none of my compilation purchases ever led me to their music. Yes, it's that stupid a reason, but they've remained active, dusting off their own self-titled print a decade ago to release a bunch of back-catalogue for the digital era. For some reason, B12 set up a whole new label in Firescope to release their newer material (just this past year!), and have started inviting like-minded producers into their fold. We'll see how things pan out in time, but if they keep bringing in talent like Derek Carr, it'll be far indeed.

If you missed that Digital Space Race review, or somehow overlooked the super sci-fi cover art, Mr. Carr does a Detroit techno thing with an ear to the great above and beyond. Distant Systems maintains that tone, a tidy four-tracker that goes down easy-peasy as a space-based pie (popular diner option near Jupiter 2). Artifice 2 has a simple electro rhythm going for it, with little bloopy pings, haunting pads, and rich sweeping synths in the lead. Terrahawk gets a tad funkier in its electro, coupling with gentle trance pads and bleepy-acid leads. 3 3 8 9 reuses the same pads (kinda' reminds me of the ones used by A Positive Life), but opts for the techno groove instead – essentially a 'deep' version of Terrahawk. If you need an even deeper cut though, East Is East has you covered, a simple slice of chill Detroit goodness, good for the afterhours.

Of course, Derek's ear for techno bleeds retro, so if you don't have much use for tunes that sound plucked from the glory years of Artificial Intelligence, Distant Systems may not be your bag. Can't imagine many such folk existing though - maybe those religiously weaned on the minimal monotony of the '00s, and nothing else.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Prodigy - The Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One

XL Recordings: 1999

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

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

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

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

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

Canned Resistor - Cyberdrive BTA-MX85

Werkstatt Recordings: 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Orb - COW / Chill Out, World!

Kompakt: 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Biosphere - Cirque

Touch/Biophon Records: 2000/2016

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Oak Ridge Boys - Celebrate Christmas

Gaither Music Group: 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Olan Mill - Cavade Morlem

Dronarivm: 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Vector Lovers - Capsule For One

Soma Quality Recordings: 2005

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Autumn Of Communion - Broken Apart By Echoes

...txt: 2016/2017

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cyril Secq & Orla Wren - Branches

Dronarivm: 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ajna & Dronny Darko - Black Monolith

Reverse Alignment: 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bicep - Bicep

Ninja Tune: 2017

I wasn't hip to Bicep's brand of vintage deep house from the beginning. Like many folks, my ear caught wind of them with the 2012 single Vision Of Love. If you were down with their tough, bumpin' sound from even their Throne Of Blood days though, give yourself a gold hipster star, because following Vision Of Love, it seemed everyone was hyping these Belfast lads up. And for good cause, Bicep making house that sounded retro, but felt as firm as modern production could take it, like the fully-flexed form of Lou Ferrigno's upper arm. Music that appeals to both the olds and the new heads!

That came out a half-decade ago though, and while Misters Ferguson and McBriar kept a steady clip of singles in that time, the anticipation for a proper LP ran hot. Could they translate their sturdy dancefloor tools into a home-listening experience? Might they have other musical tricks up their sleeve yet unexplored? Could they surprise us at all?

Well, they sure surprised me when it was announced their debut album was coming out on Ninja Tune. The famed label has been branching out of their traditional downtempo scene for a while now, but I never expected them to take on a house act this purist. When was the last time they even released a record sounding like Bicep? Have they ever?

And if that didn't throw me for a loop, then hearing the actual music on Bicep's self-titled album sure did. Apparently the duo had been leaning away from sweaty Jersey clubs towards a more Balearic feel since their Just EP in 2015. I hadn't actually kept close tabs on their recent output though, so hearing such shimmering, echoing synths in opener Orca, coupled with ethnic woodwinds out of progressive house's early '90s playbook, and you'll forgive me for my double-take in this development. Hell, triple-take, considering this is coming out on Ninja Tune!

And the progressive house vibes keep getting sprinkled throughout this album. Spring and Rain both build solid, chugging rhythms, while dropping floating vocals and gated synths leads that'll have you reaching for lasers. Aura sounds more contemporary with its prog-house vibe, but maintains the charm of the retro stuff. Oh my, isn't calling progressive house 'retro' something of an oxymoron?

Elsewhere, the Balearic feels are coupled with shuffly 2-step garage rhythms (Glue, Opal, Vale... holy cow, does the vocal remind me of Snap!'s Rame), while Bicep show they fear no downtempo moments either (Ayaya, Ayr). They even work in a couple leftfield pieces, Drift an ambient work with arps providing a lead. In all, a good variety of tunes nicely spaced out makes Bicep a solid LP playback. Mind, if hearing such light, breezy synths as heard from Ibiza's glory years is a turn-off, I wouldn't blame you for bypassing Bicep. For me, I love hearing their tough, taut beatcraft paired with gurning melodies, because of course I would. Have you seen how much trance I have?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Si Matthews - Aurora

...txt: 2017

After years floating in the periphery, Si Matthews' mythical Tales Of Ten Worlds finally came to light in 2015. Alright, 'mythical' is laying it on a little thick, but it was a good album for fans of '90s ambient techno, the sort of release folks from back when would constantly name-drop as 'must have'. As it'd been gestating in cryostasis before seeing daylight, however, Mr. Matthews had plenty of time to tweak it to perfection upon release. What would he do for a follow-up though? One doesn't drop a debut album that makes it onto 'Best Ambient Of 2015' lists without some expectations in the sophomore effort. Maybe not so much in this particular scene, where commercial aspirations are comical, but a little preconceived hype never hurt no one.

Okay, it does, in that it ofttimes leaves one wanting in first impressions. Two years after Tales Of Ten Worlds, we finally got Aurora on ...txt. Given the work rate of some of Si's peers, that's quite the gap between albums, with nary a contributed compilation track elsewhere in between. Yeah, not everyone can be like Lee Norris or Mick Chillage with their fifty albums per year (roughly), but I suppose not everyone can dedicate their whole life to constantly releasing music either. It don't pay the bills so good as years past.

Still, with all that time between albums, Mr. Matthews no doubt had plenty in his reserves, tweaking and pruning material for a magnum opus on par with- wait, Aurora is only five tracks long? They're long tracks, the shortest around ten and a half minutes, the longest over eighteen minutes, but that still feels rather slight given the time between LPs. I was expecting more, and I can't imagine me being the only one.

What we do get is five distinct pieces of spacey, dreamy ambient techno that gradually evolve as they play out, never losing the plot along the way. Opener A New Star In The Night Sky is the soft, chill sort that has me thinking of stargazing on a Balearic beachfront. A Portal works a simmering, bleepy vibe as it cruises along comet tails. Aurora itself does the ambient/New Age thing that has me thinking classic Iasos. Celestial Orientation has Apollo-era ambient techno in mind, with dubby, bleepy rhythms from the book of vintage Biosphere, though never going so cold. Twin Pines brings things back to modern sensibilities in its use of soft pads and velvety timbre, wrapping you in a comfy, snuggly blanket of sonic bliss.

As for the airs of petty self-entitlement in this review, I'm just laying my personal bias right in front. It took me a bit to get into Aurora, for a whole litany of stupid reasons not the fault of Si Matthews. Now that I've actually given it the time it deserves, I do enjoy it, but man, was it ever hard letting go of those initial biases. Don't let them control you too!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Oak Ridge Boys - At Their Best

United Artist Records/EMI-Manhattan Records: 1968

Greetings, Past-Peoples, it is I again, 2073 Sykonee, brought back to your time by Sykonee Prime to review music by The Oak Ridge Boys. I know, I know, this doesn't make a lick of sense. I must be nearly a hundred years old - aged and decrepit, like a rusty tin of sardines. Not really, no. Hearty genetic stock notwithstanding, a benefit of the radiation fallout was unexpectedly extending lifespans in several lucky souls. I may be in my Nineties, but I don't look or feel a day over Sixty-Seven.

'Tis true, the Atomic Brotherhood provides mighty fine benefits for those within their influence, not least of which exposing us to music I'd overlooked in my youth. Yes, it's nice that Nuclear Ramjet and Atomic Babies finally got their due, but I never knew about obscure acts like Oppenheimer Analysis, or tech-house labels like Heisenberg. Our musical consumption may be limited to that which honours the Atomic Age, but it's a wide range nonetheless.

Few dominate our tastes like The Oak Ridge Boys though, because few have as massive a discography. The original incarnation of the group, as The Oak Ridge Quartet, started out in the Nauty-Foreties, their first singles pressed by Capitol Records in 1946. Over time, the line-up changed, as did the name of the group from 'Quartet' to 'Boys' early in the Nauty-Sixties (t'was hip to be 'Boys'). Though they sangs the gospel, it was to the tastes of Red Belt America, eventually going country-full once their latter-era line-up was concreted. When they recorded this particular album though, the group was in transition, Willie Wynn and Herman Harper the vets, Duane Allen and William Gordon the fresh chickens of the coup. And boy was Mr. Gordon ever fresh as this point, prim and proper with nary a whisker of beard found on his chin. Hard to imagine him in any other form.

In the grand ol' Opry scheme of things, At Their Best isn't the most remarkable of releases under the Oak Ridge Boys banner – they have tons and tons of gospel recordings highlighting their harmony talents. What makes this one unique from the others is that it came out on United Artists Records, more known for releasing soundtracks of the time (Jim Bond movies, It's A Mad, Mad, Maddy, Mad-Mad World, The Greatest Story Done Told). It was a one-off deal for The Boys, more comfortable releasing records with strict gospel outlet Heart Warming. I guess someone must have liked their full-range vocals to give them a little larger exposure.

Not much to remark upon the music on my end. It's gospel, mangles! Lots of songs about loving Jesus, loving the Lord, loving your home with Jesus and the Lord within. All charming and quaint where I come from, but The Boys of Oak Ridge sound quite pleasant singing these hymns with organs, pianos, soft drums, and electric guitar in support. I'll believe it that it's them at their best, for the time.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Aythar - Astronautica

Carpe Sonum Records: 2016

Aythar is Tamás Károly Tamás, who- wait, his name without the middle is “Tamás Tamás”! Holy cow, that stupid joke in the Super Mario Brothers movie actually has validity! You know, where the Mario Brothers are in the cop office giving a testimony, and so not Italian Bob Hoskins says his name is “Mario Mario”, while John Leguizamo is Luigi Mario. Because they're the MARIO Brothers, get it, so Mario's full name must be Mario Mario! Cripes, was that movie balls. At least the theatre line-up was almost non-existent, a novel experience after Jurrasic Park was busting all the blocks at the time. Good God is this ever a horribly long, dumb tangent. I promise I'll never do this again ...until I do do this again. (hee, hee, 'doo-doo')

Where was I? Ah, right, Aythar. The alias itself first properly emerged around 2010, but Mr. Tamás has made music for much longer than that. Go to his Bandcamp, you'll find “rudimentary and amateur” productions from as far back as the early '90s. When he finally went more public with his works, it was still by independent means, self-releasing five albums in the span of a half-decade. Still, his ear for Berlin-School ambient and space techno was too good to keep under wraps forever, thus now finding himself on two of the most prominent labels promoting the stuff in Carpe Sonum Records and ...txt. This here Astronautica is his debut album with the former print, and his first physical release period. Well, if you discount old tape stuff never meant for commercial release, but if Aythar somehow becomes as adored as Boards Of Canada, you bet those items will fetch stupid amounts of money!

As the tasty retro cover art implies, Astronautica has its sights squarely on space music, the opening titular cut featuring Apollo 11 radio chatter. Yeah, we've heard these recordings many, many, many times in electronic music, but I never tire of 'em, always drawing me out into the cosmos with those intrepid cosmonauts. What I've also heard before are those opening synth pads, almost a direct lift from the old Pete Namlook track of Pulsar as Pulsation. Because if you're gonna' impress the Fax+ community, it's always best to crib from an obscure track, amirite?

Actually, it's a very tasteful crib, Mr. Tamás making it clear it's intended as an homage. I'll buy that. Aythar even provides a dancefloor version as the original Pulsation EP did, though clearly his Deep-Tech Remix is much sturdier than the hard trance of Transpulsation.

And the rest? Mystical Clouds does the beatless ambient-techno thing. Alien Worlds Part 1 goes widescreen ambient that could make AstroPilot gush, while Part 2 goes more blippy-bloopy as a Detroit techno guy would. Reactor and Space In My Heart stretch further back to the Berlin-School era, while Moon Landing returns to dubbier, Fax+ era ambient with more astro-chatter. All in all, definitely scope out Astronautica if your old-school itch needs a strong, satisfying scratch.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Architects Of Existence - Architects Of Existence

Carpe Sonum Records: 2017

Mick Chillage manages a heck of a work rate lately, with an impressive clip of albums released. True, a lot of it is the sort of noodly ambient that's rightly criticized as minimalist musical wanking, but me, I'm perfectly fine with a little ol' mental masturbation, so long as the tone and timbre used sparks something in my cerebellum. And Mr. Chillage's style done does that indeed, but even he must fall back on collaborative help, pairing up with Lee Norris on many occasions as Autumn Of Communion. One is okay, but if Mick has aspirations of becoming a dominate force in the world of ambient (probably not, but let's play the thought experiment), he needs to up his collaboration game. Like, how many pair-ups has Mr. Norris undertaken the past decade?

So Chillage again done did got himself another musician to work with, though from a rather obscure source. His partner in crime for this Architects of Existence project (geez, is that ever a Fax+y name) is Eric “The” Taylor, who hails from Rochester, New York, and has barely any presence within Lord Discogs' archives. He did contribute to the incomparable Die Welt Ist Klang box-set (track 82, on CD8, if you're curious), and is part of a group called The Fragile Fate, who made their debut on the Carpe Sonum sub-label, Carpe Sonum Novum, favouring music that doesn't fit the typical Carpe Sonum ambient mould (downtempo dub, experimental techno). The Fragile Fate lean more krautrock, with Mr. “The” Taylor supplying the guitar work. Ooh, might Architects Of Existence be of a similar vibe then, with spaced out string fuzz complementing weird Moog manipulations? No, no it is not.

Architects of Existence consists of four tracks, the shortest a 'mere' eleven minutes of length, the longest nearly reaching the thirty minute mark. To be honest, the first time I put the CD on, I thought the whole thing was one long track, each Part merely an index demarcation. But no, there are differences with each track, though you likely won't notice them if you aren't paying much attention.

Part 1 features the type of ambient I expect of Mick Chillage, long calm soothing pad work that puts your mind floating in space or suspended in ice caverns, passages of subtle burbling synths coming and going. Part 2 is a minimalist drone piece, very little happening aside from atonal pads and subtle field recordings sounding like you're inside some computer lab. Part 3 gets more old-school, pulsing synths dripping in reverb prominently featured in the first half, with a lengthy lead-out of spaced-out effects and soft space pads. Part 4 is more drone, wind chimes joining midway through, followed by distant field recordings, and a very long atonal lead-out. It's all su-u-u-u-per subtle craftsmanship, and very much not for everyone. Hell, it even tests my patience for minimalist ambient music. It does leave me curious where Mick and Eric might take this project though, if they do any more.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Grey Area - And Then The Clouds

Waveform Records: 2005

I've claimed Waveform Records had a brilliant run in the early portions of the '00s, the first half-decade seeing several releases from fresh faces releasing great debut albums. Right, there were a couple 'meh' offerings too, and a few who never amounted to much else of note afterwards, but the fact the label was giving so many unknown names their chances was remarkable indeed. It makes everything from that period worth at least a check-out, and I've been woefully neglectful of doing so. On the other hand, can you blame me for skipping out on this one for so long now? Compared to the usual unique cover art on many of Waveform's releases, this one is so very plain and drab indeed. Looks more like something you'd expect from the sterile dub techno camps, though given the name of the artist is Grey Area, and a title of And Then The Clouds, what else could you do with it?

I should also mention Grey Area wasn't exactly a new act, nor is this album a debut. Rather, it's a collection of previous works, with a couple new/unreleased tunes added to fill things out. Grey Area itself first emerged in 1997 with an eponymous LP on Psy-Harmonics, the Australian psy trance label you might remember me name-dropping on one of those United State Of Ambience CDs from Moonshine Music. The man behind the pseudonym is Alex Salter, who's done TV music for an even longer period of time.

As Grey Area, he put out three albums, the last one in 2002. I guess after Waveform scoped out some 'down under' acts like Pitch Black, they also came across this Grey Area fella', and found his style of dubby downtempo jived with their own. He wasn't making any new music under the alias though, so here's a 'best of' CD instead. Included are five tracks from his third LP Penumbra, two from his second album Absolute, one from his first album, and two fresh cuts titled Sadness Dub and Avon Dub.

Funny enough, Sadness Dub as an opener basically is a dub techno tune, almost confirming my assumption of what sort of music was on here. But nay, Grey Area sticks to a steady, dubby downtempo vibe. It's rather similar to the style Sounds From The Ground employ, though a little more psychedelic and crusty than their jams. He even gets his nu-jazz beat on with Modular Drift, while Pure & Simple wouldn't sound out of place in a smokey cafe. Elsewhere, Mr. Salter does the ambient dub thing (Avon Dub, Penumbra), or dabbles with sound experiments (Iona, Amphibia, that slooshing water in Ersatz Filament... ergh, makes me have bathroom thoughts).

I can't say And Then The Clouds is one of Waveform's classics, but as a companion album from a time when we saw Sub Conscious, Ape To Angel, Luminal, Prima Materia, Blood Is Shining and Omnimotion, it definitely holds its own in such company.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Oak Ridge Boys - American Dreams

MCA Records: 1989

Greetings, Past-Peoples, I am 2073 Sykonee. Yes, the same writer/reviewer/critic/knob that usually takes up space on this antiquated blooger, but from “The F-U-U-UTUR-R-RE”, as some so quaintly put it. Sykonee Prime made use of his time-dimension machine to take a jaunt forward for once, and despite some really wacky paradoxes even Doc Rick Brown, The Schwifty-Bitch would have trouble explaining, approached I to learn of what developments had gone down in electronic music. I was willing to tell himself this, but he was quickly fascinated by the ponderous amount of social-net music from The Oak Ridge Boys instead. Why them, I asked myself, to which I told me, “They're one of the few officially sanctioned acts by the Atomic Brotherhood.” Young-Blood Me was of course confused – what did I expect from skipping over so much history?

Without getting too over-written, The Oak Ridge Boys are allowed due to their association with the nuclear research base near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, starting out in the Nauty-Forties as a country and gospel group that performed there. For seeing is believing that only music with relevance to our atomic overlords and saviours is deemed worthy of our advanced cochleas.

Sykonee Prime found that fascinating and asked me to return from my time to review some music from The Oak Ridge Boys. “Whatever I can find,” I did say, “for a specifically cheaply amount of course.” Oh, such a naive idea – I had no clue just how extensive a discography The Oak Ridge Boys – in all their iterations – does have. But sure, I can play with myself.

And so it is with my logical but impractical alphabetical approach to reviewing music, up first is American Dreams. This was the last LP The Oak Ridge Boys released in the Nauty-Eighties, a decade that was as commercially successful as they'd ever be (back when such things mattered). Not all was right with the group though, as their iconic 'mountain man' baritone singer William Golden was off on a solo career, replaced by bass player Steve Sanders instead. He has a definite baritone singing voice, but just look at him in that group photo. Doesn't he stand out at odds with that mullet? What was wrong with people of the Nauty-Eighties?

By this point, the boys from near Oak Ridge were settled into a comfortable country sound, the odd gospel harmony thrown in. There's peppy tunes like Cajun Girl and Don't Give Up, humorous sap like If I Was To Start Crying (spoiler: they do at the end), covers of Rod Stewart songs (In My Own Crazy Way), ditties penned by Joey Scarbury (famous for the theme song of the documentary The Greatest American Hero), creeper fantasies in Bed Of Roses, and the mandated Americana odes like An American Family, Turning For Home, and The American Dream. I forget, did every American home have a painting of Jesus In The Garden hanging on the wall? Me memory ain't what it used to be, you know.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Dynatron - Aeternus

Aphashia Records/Blood Music: 2015/2016

When I started branching out from synthwave's shores and away from my Perturbator comfort zone, one of the acts that caught my attention early was Dynatron. It didn't hurt that the Jeppe Hasseriis project sprung from the same digital print as James Kent – Aphasia Records – but that whole 'no CDs in discography' factor put him on the back-burner for yours truly. Still, thought I, should he ever get himself in on that physical format deal, I'd absolutely scope his stuff out proper-like.

And so he done did, scoring himself a re-issue deal of his first two albums on Blood Music. Huh, is the Finnish label gonna' be scouring up all these wayward Aphasia alum then? Might we soon see Protector 101, Starforce, or Judge Bitch on Blood Music too?

As for where Dynatron falls on the synthwave spectrum, ol' Jeppe has his sights set squarely on the stars, EPs and albums celebrating all manner of pulpy sci-fi stylings. Many producers fancy themselves 'outrun' racers tearing up the tarmac, but Mr. Hasseriis is all about that Throttle Up, splitting the spaces between planetary places! Because who needs sissy earthly nitros when you can have literal rocket fuel as your means of propulsion! The cosmos is a dope domain, is what I'm saying. I'll never run out of alliterative abuses, yo'! Never!

Aeturnus is the second album from Dynatron, and has a little more of a narrative going for it than his first of Escape Velocity. For those of you that are Latin impaired, the title roughly means 'eternal' or 'endless', which is a handy, fancy way of describing outer space. And Jeppe doesn't mince words in selling the setting in his track titles (The Outer Rims Of Traversed Space, Towards The Island Universe, Out There). Other times he goes more terrestrial (Travelling The Wastelands), or roaming realms other than our own (Not Of This World, Escape). Basically, we're on a ride where no one's gone before, and it's kinda' scary out there. Can we even make it back home?

All that said, this is just assumed on my part, as the music itself doesn't specifically imply anything from the song titles, beyond the tone and vibe they impart. Some do serve their titles quite well: Hyperion Sunrise is as big and synthy as an opening track should be, Aeturnus Theme is as grand as you'd expect of a synthwave theme song, closing cut A Beacon From Home offers the sort of hopeful denouement credits score as any hectic space adventure should warrant. Tracks are thrilling when needed (holy cow, does Escape kick my ass!), others rightfully mysterious (a lot of tracks with big titles that will eat self-imposed word count).

I really have no gripes with Aeternus as a spacey synthwave album. Yet it feels like it's missing just that extra bit of narrative focus that's made so many of Perturbator's albums winners. Just have to wait and see if Dynatron reaches it with his next album.

Lorenzo Masotto - Aeolian Processes

Dronarivm: 2017

I've bought a few releases from Dronarivm now, but it wasn't with intent to scope the Moscow label out. It just happened that way, me spotting a few eye-catching items, and taking a blind leap of faith that they'd turn out interesting. That they have, so I figured a little stop-over at Dronarivm's Bandcamp couldn't hurt either, see what their full discography looks like. And lo', wouldn't you know it, they had one of those nifty 'bulk CD' deals available too. I sure as shit can't resist one of those, and I may as well spring for the big ol' 10x bundle while I'm at it. Only... there isn't even that many available in one fell swoop, Dronarivm's limited-runs having thus created a stock issue. Ah well, the five-piece it is then, starting with Aeolian Processes from Lornezo Masotto.

Mr. Masotto hails from Italy (shock!), and is more of a classical musician than the drone ambient sort I've often found on Dronarivm. Not that this is some anomaly with the label, as they do offer outlets for modern classical composers. As this blog's a testament towards though, it's not a style of music I typically indulge in, but as the more minimalist strains of the genre can tread into ambient's territory, I'll cross paths with it on occasion. That all being said, I cannot deny it was the cover art that drew me into Aeolian Processes, a windswept tree shorn naked by atmospheric forces a striking image among Dronarivm's usual fare. You'd almost expect it a dark ambient release. All that's missing is an abandoned boat laying at the base of the tree's trunk.

Lorenzo primarily specializes in piano compositions, of which makes up the bulk of the music here as well. Again, I'm no expert on this aspect of modern classical, though I do know this is a wide open field of expertise, several pianists across the globe plying their trade to captivated audiences. Martha Argerich! Vladimir Horowitz! Evgeny Kissin! Sergei Rachmanioff! Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli! Maurizio Pollini! Yuja Wang! Krystian Zimerman! Mikhail Pletnev! Vladimir Ashkenzy! These are all great piano players, because Ranker.com tells me they are. I'm not sure how Lorenzo Masotto stacks against them, but I bet they don't add subtle electronic drones and burbling synths to their compositions.

His electronic treatments provide each track with their own flavor beyond being another lovely piece of melancholy piano music. Space Flowers, When The City Sleeps, and the titular cut have little bloopy arps playing in the background. My Great-Grandmother Lived In The Mountains makes use of pulsing synths playing in reverse. Geyser features blobby burbles bubbling out. Desert and Repeater indulge a little pad drone in support. Drone even features something approaching percussion.

I can't say Aeolian Processes is the most exceptional album of piano music I've ever heard, because I'm hardly well-versed in the genre to give such a definitive statement. For those rather grey days, however, I do find it most pleasant indeed.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

JāFU - Add To Cart

Waveform Records: 2012

For so very long two acts have dominated Waveform Records: Sounds From The Ground and ZerO One. Their material maintains a consistent level of quality, sure, but likely isn't for everyone, even those who vibe on ambient techno and dubby downtempo. And while some labels get by with a couple core acts, they tend to remain ultra-niche. I don't want Waveform to be ultra-niche – I want more folks to hear their early wonderful releases, their amazing five-year run after the turn of the century. They need new blood to bring in new ears though, so if scoping out a dubstep album will get the ball rolling again, so be it. Besides, my Waveform Records CD collection can't be completed if I skip out on non-redundant items.

And hey, maybe this will turn out as one of those mythical 'good' dubstep albums that I've heard much rumour about. The PR blurb already proclaims this falling on the chill side of the genre, and I've liked a little bit of what I've heard in that spectrum, mostly care of Liquid Stranger's offerings on Interchill Records. James Fuller, the Canadian lad behind the Jafu moniker (or JāFU, if you want to get fancy with it), even appeared on the Saltspring Island label, as well as Dubstep For Deep Heads, and his own conglomerate print Chord Marauders. Waveform was where he got his start though, with this debut album Add To Cart. Man, just how many careers has Waveform launched anyway? Or at least provided that initial push out the door.

Add To Cart opens with a few tunes doing the sort of chill dubstep I don't mind one bit: music that's actually deep and dubby, with a simple, solid downtempo bounce that never loses the plot. Yeah, Jafu still does that over-compressed half-step snare, while tracks like Escalation and Encountering Intruders feature those mid-range wobbles one can't help but associate with the worst aspects of dubstep these days. Mr. Fuller at least rides his rhythms with some finesse and flow though, making them sound none too shabby. All too often producers throw in a bunch of randomized wub-wubs that serve no musical purpose other than wanking off the effects plugins.

Like when he does it in tracks like Subways, Fish Headz, Terminal, and Surgery. Or just go overboard in showboating some 'dope' sound they came up with, as in Yeasaw. Geez, does this ever sound corny. But I get it, I really do! For a generation of kids, this is their distorted guitar solo, or their acid knob tweakage, or their gated supersaw pad, or their flanged hardstyle kick – it's their jam, man! Fair enough, but why can't it stay on rhythm, like in One Lined Face? That shit gets my shoulders boppin', it does.

For as many tracks I like on Add To Cart, at least another third I'd sooner 'add to bin'. At eighteen cuts though, that's still a decent ratio to come away from. On a dubstep album, anyway.

ACE TRACKS: September 2017

Five years now, and I still haven't finished going through my entire music collection. Well, technically six, since I started the listening process a year before I decided writing about the experience could turn into a blog. But the end is on the horizon for sure, the last of the large letters in 'W' now finished. Just a casual little jaunt to the finish line for the remaining three letters. Except there's that alphabetical backlog accumulated over the summer, a much heftier amount of material there. Like, nearly two months worth. I think I can get it all finished before the end of the year, but man, is it ever gonna' be tight.

Then what after that, I wonder? Do I go back to those missing albums from the start of my alphabetical arrangement? I'm starting to feel obligated to, just so it doesn't look like I'm deliberately avoiding items. Like all those ambient dub compilations, various entries in the Balance series, plus a few bona-fide classics that this blog would feel incomplete without me reviewing them (Big Men Cry, 6 Feet Deep, 604, Alter Ego, Blue Moon Station, Blade, CB4). *sigh* I'll never end this, will I? On that cheering note, here's the ACE TRACKS for September 2017.


Full track list here.


MISSING ALBUMS:
Sounds From The Ground - Widerworld

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 20%
Percentage Of Rock: 13%
Most “WTF?” Track: The live Hybrid bits, if you 'd forgotten just how dope these guys used to be.

It may feel like there's a lot of Wu-Tang Clan on here, but really it's only two album's worth – an album and half even. What can you expect from the back-end of the letter 'W' anyway? The Wu dominate that realm, no matter what type of music you listen to. A decent variety of classic rock, modern psy-chill, mid-era downtempo, and Golden Era 'electronica' rounds out the rest, with the entirety of Hybrid's Live Angle set lumped at the end. Seriously, if you haven't heard it yet, you've no excuse now! Well, unless you just don't have Spotify, which kneels the question why you're even bothering with these Ace Tracks updates in the first place.

Things I've Talked About

...txt 10 Records 16 Bit Lolita's 1963 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2 Play Records 2 Unlimited 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 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&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 Project Alio Die Alphabet Zoo Alphaxone Altar Records Alter Ego alternative rock Alucidnation Ambelion ambient ambient dub ambient techno Ambient World Ambientium Ametsub Amon Tobin Amplexus Anabolic Frolic Andrea Parker Andrew Heath Androcell Andy C anecdotes Aniplex Anjunabeats Anodize Another Fine Day Antendex anthem house Anthony Rother Anti-Social Network 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 Asian Dub Foundation Astral Waves Astralwerks AstroPilot Asura Asylum Records ATCO Records Atlantic Atlantis atmospheric jungle Atomic Hooligan Atrium Carceri Attic Audion AuroraX Autistici Autumn Of Communion Aveparthe Avicii Axiom Axtone Records Aythar B.G. The Prince Of Rap B°TONG Babygrande Balance Balanced Records Balearic ballad Banco de Gaia Bandulu battle-rap Bauri Beastie Boys Beat Buzz Records Beatbox Machinery Beats & Pieces bebop Beck Bedouin Soundclash Bedrock Records Beechwood Music Benny Benassi 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 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 braindance Brandt Brauer Frick 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 Bush Busta Rhymes Calibre calypso Canibus Canned Resistor Capitol Records Capsula Captured Digital Carbon Based Lifeforms Carl B Carl Craig Carol C Caroline Records Carpe Sonum Records CD-Maximum Ceephax Acid Crew Celestial Dragon Records Cell Celtic 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 Cor Fijneman Corderoy Cosmic Gate Cosmic Replicant Cosmos Studios Cottonbelly Council Of Nine Counter Records country country rock Covert Operations Recordings Craig Padilla Crazy Horse Cream Creamfields Crockett's Theme Crosby Stills And Nash Crosstown Rebels crunk Cryo Chamber Cryobiosis Cryogenic Weekend Cube Guys Culture Beat Curb Records 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 Wanrooy Dao Da Noize dark ambient dark psy darkcore darkside darkstep darkwave Darla Records Darren McClure DAT Records Databloem David Alvarado David Bickley David Guetta David Morley DDR Dead Melodies Deadmau5 Death Grips Death Row Records Decimal Dedicated Deejay Goldfinger Deep Dish Deep Forest deep house Deeply Rooted House Deepwater Black Def Jam Recordings Del Tha Funkee Homosapien Delerium Delsin Deltron 3030 Depeche Mode Der Dritte Raum Derek Carr Detroit Devin Underwood 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 Dopplereffekt Dossier downtempo dowtempo Dr. Atmo Dr. Dre Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Dr. Octagon Dragon Quest dream house 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 Eat Static EBM Echodub Ed Rush & Optical Editions EG EDM World Weekly News Ektoplazm electro Electro House Electro Sun electro-funk electro-pop electroclash Electronic Dance Essentials Electrovoya Elektra Elektrolux em:t EMC update EMI Eminem Emmerichk Emperor Norton Empire enCAPSULAte Engine Recordings Enigma Enmarta EP Epic epic trance 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 experimental Eye Q Records F Communications Fabric Fade Records Faithless Falcon Reekon Fallen fanfic Fantastisizer 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 footwork Force Intel Fountain Music Four Tet FPU Frank Bretschneider Frankie Bones Frankie Knuckles Fred Everything freestyle French house Front Line Assembly fsoldigital.com 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 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 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 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 Hi-Bias Records Hic Sunt Leones Hide And Sequence Hiero Emperium Hieroglyphics High Contrast High Note Records Higher Ground Higher Intelligence Agency hip-hop hip-house hipno Home Normal Hooj Choons Hope Records horrorcore Hospital Records Hot Chip Hotflush Recordings house 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 indie rock Industrial Infected Mushroom Infinite Guitar influence records Infonet Inner Ocean Records Insane Clown Posse Inspectah Deck Instinct Ambient Instra-Mental Inter-Modo Interchill Records Internal International Deejays Gigolo Interscope Records Intimate Productions Intuition Recordings ISBA Music Entertainment Ishkur Ishq Island Records Islands Of Light Italians Do It Better italo disco italo house Item Caligo J-pop Jack Moss Jacob Newman Jafu 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 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 Jørn Stenzel 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 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 Kurupt L.B. Dub Corp L.S.G. L'usine Lab 4 Ladytron Lafleche Lange Large Records Lars Leonhard Laserlight Digital LateNightTales Latin Laurent Garnier LCD Soundsystem Leama and Moor Lee 'Scratch' Perry Lee Norris Leftfield Legacy 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 Loud Records 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 Marc Simz Marcel Dettmann 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 Method Man Metroplex Metropolis 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 Moist Music Moodymann Moonshine Moss Garden Motech 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 N-Trance Nacht Plank Nadia Ali Nas Nashville Natural Midi Nature Sounds Naughty By Nature Nebula Neil Young Neon Droid 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 Nomad Nonesuch Nonplus Records Nookie Nordic Trax Norman Feller Northumbria Not Now Music Nothing Records Nova NovaMute NRG Ntone nu-italo nu-jazz nu-skool Nuclear Blast Entertainment Nulll 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 Canvas Opus III orchestral Original TranceCritic review Orkidea Orla Wren Ornament Ostgut Ton Ott Ottsonic Music Ouragan Out Of The Box OutKast Outpost Records Overdream 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 Phonothek Photek Phutureprimitive Phynn PIAS Recordings Pink Floyd PJ Harvey Plaid Planet Dog Planet Earth Recordings Planet Mu Planetary Assault Systems Planetary Consciousness Plastic City Plastikman Platinum Platipus Pleq Plump DJs Plunderphonic PM Dawn Poker Flat Recordings Pole Folder politics Polydor Polytel pop Popular Records Porya Hatami post-dubstep 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 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 Resist Music Restless Records RetroSynther Reverse Alignment Rhino Records Rhys Fulber Ricardo Villalobos Richard Durand Riley Reinhold Rising High Records RnB Roadrunner Records Robert Hood Robert Miles Robert Oleysyck Roc Raida rock rock opera rockabilly rocktronica Roger Sanchez ROIR Rollo Rough Trade Rub-N-Tug Rumour Records Running Back Ruthless Records RZA S.E.T.I. 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