Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge - Twelve Reasons To Die II

Linear Labs: 2015

Aawww yeah, you knew this concept was too good for just one album's worth of material. It was clear as a desert day that Adrian Younge and Ghostface Killah had great chemistry together, that they should work together on another project. So they reconvened a couple years later to tell another tale about twelve ways to die, this time with Ghost's old partner in prime, Raekwon. For the spirit of Tony Starks (Ghost's mobster alias) could not completely rest, his soul still trapped in those vinyl records his body was cremated into, waiting to emerge again should some poor sap spin them once more.

Fast forward a few years, and while tales of the Ghostface Killah taking out members of the DeLuca family in Italy persist, it didn't impact their syndicates across the globe, including a stronghold in New York City. As the '70s took hold and inner city black communities started gaining more influence, one man rose through the ranks to create his own mob fiefdom, Raekwon's character of Lester Kane in this tale. Gee, the Chef playing a mafioso type? Who'd have thought!

Natrually, a turf war breaks out. One of Kane's raids lands him a treasure trove of stolen goods from his enemies, including the legendary records said to hold the spirit of the Ghostface Killah (who's been idling away watching events unfold – this is technically a Ghostface album, so things are mostly told from his perspective). Also captured is Logan, the woman who betrayed Tony Starks to the DeLucas, plus her son who just may be his illegitimate child. When the DeLucas retaliate, however, they wipe out Kane's family too, urging Rae' to strike a deal with the devil: he'll release Ghostface from the record, and in exchange for gaining his power to exact his revenge, the spirit of Stark will take over Kane's body, killing him in the process.

Considering how tied the two have been throughout their careers, the symbolism of Ghostface and Raekwon merging into a single being to do dastardly deeds seems appropriate. In a surprise twist though, Ghost' reneges on the deal, instead taking over the body of... his own son! Hey, this still is a gothic horror tale, in the end!

*whew* Quite a recap there, and if it seems I skimmed over details, I didn't that much. Twelve Reasons To Die II is shockingly short as an album, barely a half-hour long. I was honestly slightly disappointed I didn't hear more from Rae' on this, nor was I too fussed with the guest rappers (mostly playing roles of each crime family's goons). Still, Adrian's score of blaxploitation funk and spooky soul remains ace, playing all the instruments, at times sounding like vintage RZA with Ghost' riding the beats. A couple more tracks of Ghost'kwon (Rae'face?) enacting their revenge would have made this better, but it's still a gripping ride nonetheless. Not sure where they can take the story after this though, if Starks is resurrected and all.

Jamiroquai - Travelling Without Moving

Columbia: 1996

The only Jamiroquai album you probably have, if you're American. Or Canadian. Or Australian. Or New Zealandian. Yes, Travelling Without Moving was the band's major global breakout, finally cluing the planet Earth into what the Brits had known for a few good years – that acid jazz thing is rather quite cool an' funky, y'know. What's funny is despite being their best selling album by several leagues, Travelling Without Moving never hit the number one on the charts, not even in their native UK. Granted, competition was fierce for such a coveted spot that year, including The Fugee's The Score, Spice Girls' Spice, Kula Shaker's K (um, who?), George Michael's Older (he was still popular there), and... wow, Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill? She was obviously huge in Canada, but I had no idea the Brits also loved her that much.

So everyone knows Virtual Insanity, because everyone has seen the video for Virtual Insanity. Quite a few folks also know the retro-disco single Cosmic Girl, because cars. Some people might know the retro-funk of Alright and High Times, though I feel these singles would be better received in recent times, after hipsters and Bruno Mars made listening to such music culturally popular. Most of us on the Western side of the Atlantic weren't ready to accept non-ironic funk-n-soul back into our lives though (t'was all about that G-funk).

That's the singles, but if you're drawing a blank beyond the tracks that “had that cool video” and “was in that episode of Daria”, you can imagine how the rest of the album fared with general audiences. And that's a crying shame, because listening to Travelling Without Moving, you can hear there's some insanely talented musicians at work, fearless in their genre fusion even as the big, bold Billboards beckoned them.

Like, Didjerama, a pure tribal-dub outing with a didgeridoo lead! Then they follow it with more simmering didjeridoo action in the chill funk-soul session of Didjital Vibratations. Who does that on a 'pop' album, especially on the cusp of Spice-mania? Oh yeah, acid jazz guys, because they're all about finding the funk in whatever ways they can (it's not really a jazz genre).

Then there's funky Latin vibes in Use The Force, boppin' reggae vibes in Drifting Along, more disco vibes with the titular cut, more funk vibes with You Are My Love (wee, Moog action!), plus a couple soul outings too (Everyday, Spend A Lifetime). Because you need that love-makin' downtime when there's this much freakin' funk funkin' around. And just in case you forgot what year this came out in, Do You Know Where You're Coming From? gets in on that trendy jazzstep action. Can't be an acid jazz album without d'n'b, I guess.

Given it's sales numbers, it feels weird to say that Travelling Without Moving is an overlooked gem of funk and soul music. Considering the only thing most folks remember from it is an associated video though, that's sadly the case. No more excuses!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

SiJ - The Time Machine

Cryo Chamber: 2017

Did you know SiJ does solo albums too? Of course you do, because I've said as much in the past, though even these aren't technically always solo either. When Vlad Sikach initially launched the project, he had help from a couple associates, including Anna Vorobyeva on synths and Alena Perepadya on field recordings and photography. Hey, the design aesthetic was just as integral to the SiJ manifesto as the sound aesthetic, so it counts! Anna and Alena have remained a consistent presence, but many others have joined Vlad for collaborative work under the SiJ banner.

For instance, the Way To Dream album is loaded with 'em. Alena's there! Anna's there! Textere Oris is there! Robert Rich is there! Creation IV is there! Leon Milo is there! Owl is there! Zebraphone Collective is there! Toiletrolltube is there! AMK, jmggs, & Sala are there! Even Endless Meloncholy is there – the producer, not the mood, though given this is a dark ambient project, probably that too. Point is, whether it's Vlad on his own or with a bunch of help from his friends, the SiJ name can represent a lot of people if need be.

And so it goes with The Time Machine, which looks like a solo album from SiJ, but definitely is not once you dig into the credit notes, many tracks having an extra hand in the production. Anna's back for some synth action on two pieces, as is Textere Oris on one. Keosz pops up to add some flute tones to Vision Of Hell (credited as a sample, so maybe not him specifically), plus a bunch more I'm not immediately familiar with. However, Vadim Grin (Dream Twice), Stanislav ToSo (Particula), Tanya Lieben, and Anna Sikach have all worked on prior SiJ releases, so Vlad's at least in familiar company with this outing.

The Time Machine is about taking a trip through time, obviously, letting the listener in on some sights and sounds of past and future. And since this is a dark ambient release, you bet it's gonna' be all grim and desolate and self-reflective. Can't wait to hear how SiJ sucks you in with some creepy, ominous foreshadow with opener Forwards In Time. Uh, wait a second... this, isn't creepy or ominous at all. In fact, it's downright calm and lovely, like ambient-proper. Yeah, there's a tiny amount of twitchy field recordings in the background, but man, I'm feeling right blissed out by this opener. Are we sure this is a Cryo Chamber release?

Nah, guy, the rest of the album playing out as expected with the players involved. Minimalist, barren, melancholic ambient music with plenty of field recordings to spare. It's all absorbing stuff, though I almost have to skip the first track to vibe on it, Forwards In Time putting me in such a conflicting headspace compared to what follows. Interesting that the peaceful closer Shrine Of Dark serves as a nice contrast though, as if SiJ has sandwiched his bleak soundscapes in hope.

Rainbow Vector - This Way

Spiritech: 2012

I should have known this when I started this mini-dig of Spiritech's discography – any tiny bit of 'journalistic investigating' would have unearthed it. Hell, if I'd just started with this particular CD instead of succumbing to my alphabetical OCD, I'd have the facts staring right in my face-hole, liner notes explaining things plain as day. But no, I gotta' do things my way (in my time, my ti-i-i-ime!), out of logical, chronological order. Thus, what under normal circumstances should have been the first CD I reviewed from Spiritech's catalogue ends up being the last.

Within the liner notes of This Way, a blurb informs that the players behind Rainbow Vector – Alireza Zaifnejad (BlueBliss, who you may know from Ovnimoon Records and Altar Records) and Albert Borkent (Lingua Lustra himself) – met over Soundcloud, shared some ideas, shared some sounds, and realized they should make them available over the cloud. Or Bandcamp at least, and hey, why not make their efforts the inaugural CD on their new label? What struck me about this knowledge is that Lingua Lustra had already been releasing music through Soundcloud for some time, which would explain why so much of his stuff on Bandcamp is offered as free downloads as well. Makes sense, not requesting monies for music that was already free in the first place. It's not a huge revelation, but does clear up a factoid I didn't know in the first place. Yay discovery!

So Rainbow Vector, the combination of a psy-chill guy and a noodly ambient guy: what could go wrong? A lot, but nothing did in this instance, so that's good. Depending on the track, each producer's style will generally dominates over the other's. For instance, shorter pieces like Nexus, Glass Onion, Aqueous, and Lemniskating go more the psy-chill route, including groovy rhythms complementing the spaced-out synths and pads. It honestly reminds me of early Ultimae, which shouldn't be a surprise since BlueBliss ran in similar circles from that era (oh hai, Altar!).

The other bulk of tracks lean towards Lingua Lustra's lane of lengthy ambient outings. Sometimes they'll do the widescreen layers of sound (Newsflash, Flower Of Life), or a simmering, glitchy drone (Raybow), but mostly stick to the minimalist stuff with dubby field recordings and distant harmonies (Light Circle, Spiral Time). It sounds nice and all, as I'd expect with the players involved, but the track sequencing kind of buggers the album experience.

This Way opens with Newsflash, eleven minutes of loud, provocative sonics, before easing us into the psy-chill stuff for a bit. Then a huge stretch of the album's taken up by the ambient material, music that's fine in of itself but totally derails whatever momentum the earlier tracks provided. It honestly makes getting to the remaining, shorter psy-chill tunes a challenge, a feeling like This Way should have wrapped up well before the end. It's never a good idea putting your longest, calmest tracks smack in the middle of an album. Ah well.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Various - Techno 3: Still Tripping (Compiled By Chris Sheppard)

Quality Music: 1992

Before Club Cutz, before Groove Station. Before Love Inc., before Destination Dance Floor. Hell, even before Pirate Radio Sessions, though about the same time as Rock Em Sock Em 5, there was The Techno Trip. Or Trip To The Moon. Or Have A Nice Trip. Or... just Techno (2)? Is that really what you're labelling this series, Lord Discogs? Whatever. To all Canadians, the compilations were simply known as Chris Sheppard's Techno Trip, and it was our first real taste of rave music on a commercial level. Sure, there were enclaves and outlets savvy heads knew about (mostly in Montreal and Toronto), but none had the national exposure Quality Music provided (MuchMusic ads helped).

And yeah, despite the name, there isn't much in the way of techno on these CDs, mostly exercises in old school rave and hardcore tracks. Give Shep' some slack though, the early '90s still a wild west of genre breeding, with only a few established, accepted terms around. It was called techno because it certainly wasn't house, and rave was the place you went to, or something. Look, there wasn't any internet (much less a music guide) to hash out these debates – heck, there was barely even any 'journalism' going on regarding this scene. It's not Shep's fault Canada was seriously lagging behind on rave music (but oh, did we ever have it goin' on with EBM!).

As for his third 'trip' into 'techno', it's an average affair of vintage tunes, with the usual assortment of overplayed samples and hoover sounds. The opening cut from Shep's BKS project (with his DJ moniker Dogwhistle on the rub) even nicks the bleepy goodness of LFO, plus throws in a couple children rhymes, because that was the trendy thing to do at the time. It honestly isn't that bad, provided you haven't much exposure to rave music before, and I reckon the Canadian audience that bought this hadn't.

Notable acts such as Acen, Shut Up And Dance, Joey Beltram, N.R.G. (they never lost their hardcore) and Voodoo Child (aka: Moby) also show up, with a few lesser known acts rounding things out. Dream Frequency's Feel So Real and Rhythm Quest's Closer To All Your Dreams gets in on those rolling piano anthems, while Bass Construction's Dance With Power and Project One's Roughneck will get your Prodigy triggers going.

And then there's the back-end of Techno 3 – Still Tripping, where all the novelty tunes are lumped. Apotheosis' apocalyptic choir anthem Obumbratta makes another appearance, sans booming gabber beats, while Poing from Rotterdam Termination Source hints where Dutch hardcore would eventually go (sadly). And let's not forget Harajuku, who made a career of doing dance covers of famous opera and musical numbers, breaking out here with Phantom Of The Opera. And what's this Back To Jack Your Body from Steve “Silk” Hurley at the end? It doesn't sound like rave or techno – much too slow, what with that funky acid groove and all. It sullies this compilation's genre purity!

Legowelt - TEAC Life

Nightwind Records: 2011/2017

In the era of electroclash and music that wasn't electroclash but was getting called electroclash (*whew*, what a mouthful), one of the biggest anthems of the time was Legowelt's Disco Rout. Looking back, one could make the argument the tune was a precursor to the outrun branch of synthwave, though I'm sure Danny Wolfers would be rather embarrassed by such a claim. In any event, Disco Rout was definitely a fav' for yours truly, after which I promptly digested any and all Legowelt mus- no, wait, that's not right. As the tune never appeared on a subsequent album, I promptly forgot about Legowelt, moving on to other things. Well, no more. Time to get me caught right the fuck up on his music proper-like, and I remember hearing good things about this here TEAC Life album when it came out in 2011. Sure, let's see what sort of Bandcamp deal I can get with this. Oh... oh my! Dude's literally giving it away!

Even when it was brand new, The Teac Life was a free giveaway, which boggles the hindsight mind. A double-LP of vintage Detroit techno would fetch ludicrous sums of money in physical formats, and has in the few vinyl runs Mr. Wolfers has released over the years. Still, the fact it remains a free download in digital suggests one of two things: either ol' Danny is just a real generous guy, or he didn't think it would garner enough interest to warrant regular financial compensation for his efforts.

I'm honestly kinda' leaning towards the latter, at least initially, because who'd ever want to hear a two-plus hours of throwback Detroit techno when minimal, dub, and the tough, functionalist Berghain sound were the dominate forces in Technoland. Seems to me that Legowelt just had a bunch of tracks he made for fun and gave it away since ain't no way DJs would play these in all the Very Important clubs. Funny thing is not only did he underestimate people's desire for pure, true-blue Detroit techno in the modern era, but he may have released his best album in the process.

There's not a duff cut in these seventeen tracks. Not one! This is Detroit techno that sounds as sourced from its early '90s heyday as it does plucked from the futurelands it draws influence from. It's retro in all the right ways, never navel-gazing so much it sacrifices solid songcraft, but never deviating from what makes Detroit techno so beloved in the first place. The simmering electronic funk, the sci-fi synthy leads, the singing soul of the robot underclass, it's all present and correct.

My only complaint is that even seventeen tracks of mint Detroit techno does get tiring. Mind, that's a complaint for any singular genre exercise extending beyond ninety minutes, by which point I usually tap out. TEAC Life though, it makes me want to keep pushing for those extra few cuts, those extra couple miles, those extra dozen reps. You know it's worth it in the end.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Geometry Combat - Tanz Der Schatten

Werkstatt Recordings: 2014

The appeal of ancient industrial is just how grimy it sounds compared to most music. You get the sense it's a total grass-roots scene, musicians with little technical know-how making use of whatever third-hand gear they could get their hands on. Obviously this isn't always the case – ain't no way Trent Reznor is forced to cheap-out on his studio any more – but like its sister scene punk, industrialists take pride in how under-produced their music comes across.

It does make me wonder, though, whether it's grown ever more difficult to 'keep it real'. For sure it's possible if you use authentic gear from the '70s and '80s, but that shit don't come cheap anymore, and modern versions will always carry some upgraded polish with them, no matter how much gravel you think throwing in the chassis will help. Compounding things is the fact so much music production is done digitally now, with no amount of plug-ins hiding the fact that the music's being made on a computer. Okay, so anything electronic is technically being made on a computer, but you know what I mean – circuit boards with knobs versus DAWs. It just seems to me that EBM dudes, dudettes, and everyone in-between have to work harder than ever to sound authentic, lest they find themselves in the realms of futurepop.

Not to say Geometry Combat is one such chap dealing with such issues, as such. I honestly had little success finding any information about him (I'm assuming He, because it's quite clearly a very masculine voice going on about darkness and hammers and shit), not even a name included with liner notes, Bandcamp write-up, Lord Discogs text, or Facebook blurb. Thus, I'm not sure what his set-up is. I wouldn't be surprised if he's using old-school machines for his EBM beats, but man, hearing how low in the mix these vocals are, I'd almost be more impressed if he's using computer programs to get that sound. Anyone can bellow and snarl into a crappy mic and claim it's being vintage – try doing it with spiffy-new devices and get the same result.

When not pitting the fates of Pythagorean Theorems and Arc/Circumference Ratios against each other, Geometry Combat specializes in a fun blend of EBM and darkwave. We get the aggressive sounds of the former, with lyrics that come off more melodramatic as befitting the latter, titles like Silent God, Darkest Sins, and Deadly Armour Ceremony pretty clear in their intent. A couple pure EBM cuts make their way in the back half (Body Hammer, Striding Command), which is a nice little monotony breaker.

Most tracks are brisk and to the point, as good EBM usually is. The big outlier is a seven-plus minute long 'downtempo' cut called Teeth Of Steel Grasp At The Barriers Of Humanity, which sounds closer to the realms of proper industrial than everything else, sludgy, meandering with growling vocals and crusty guitars. All a bit too pretentious for my liking, though.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Wednesday Campanella - Superman

Warner Music Japan: 2017

The cover art to 水曜日のカンパネラ's Superman doesn't seem like much at a glance. If anything, it reminds me of Garth Brooks' weirdo-concept Chris Gaines album, and given this group's predilection towards famous people references, I can't help but suspect that's deliberate. The image, however, is but one piece of a larger canvas ...or rather, the top corner of a huge, 3x4 panel poster, revealing lead singer KOM_I (I think?) suckling a foot's large toe. Oh, and when I say huge, I mean it, one panel looking like it could hold a 7” record rather than a CD. Also, Superman didn't even come in a regular jewel case, but rather as a fold-out with a little rubber nub in one panel to hold the CD, and a cardboard insert so it doesn't flop about. This is one of the few times I've actually kept the wrap cover, just so it doesn't get damaged. And boy howdy, could I ever go on about the backside of this poster, if I had any hope of reading geometric shapes and swirling pools of kanji.

After their kinda-sorta debut mini-album Rashōmon, Suiyoubi no Campanella found themselves a fair bit of fame in their motherland, and a growing following the world abroad, such that one of the Big Important Labels came a'knockin' to hear what the fuss was about (and whether they may capitalize on it). Definitely a surprise it was Warner Music that took them in – was Sony not available?

Anyhow, bigger, slicker label backing means Wednesday Campanella's proper sophomore LP is... well, not exactly bigger, but definitely slicker. Their previous album Zipangu stood out for its free-wheeling genre fusions, and while Superman indulges itself in similar fashion, it's got a cleaner, poppier sheen to it too, smoothing out many rougher edges, as though fully expecting to capitalize on an audience in Western lands. It didn't surprise me the slightest when a co-worker heard some playing and remarked it sounded like Kygo.

And the peppy, anthem house that's marked much of their work returns in tracks like アラジン, 一休さん, and オードリー. Elsewhere, the house beats go more chill, as in チンギス・ハン and アマノウズメ. They're fine, with Kenmochi's production maintaining a solid groove while throwing in tons of little sonic fills without being obnoxious about it. I'm still more interested in the tunes that break the beats up some, even getting tribal at times as in チャップリン and カメハメハ大王. Reminds me I'm listening to something authentically foreign, rather than something trying to sound local. Not that KOM_I's playful raps and Far East harmonies don't constantly remind me either, still resolutely Japanese even with a few English words thrown in. Despite having some translations, I still don't have much idea of what she's singing about, but that doesn't really matter, the band freely admitting their lyrics are less about their content than what just sounds good for the tune. Hey, works for jazz, man.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Marnie - Strange Words And Weird Wars

Disco Pinata Records: 2017

It was never outside the realm of possibility that the members of Ladytron would strike up solo careers. A four piece synth-pop group would undoubtedly get offers to work independent here and there, especially one fronted by two ladies. It's a testament to their commitment as a band that they resisted the allure of individual fame for as long as they did. However, as the years wore on, so did the time between albums, their current hiatus since Gravity The Seducer now lasting seven years. Plenty room there to pursue some solo projects then, which members of Ladytron have done. For some reason though, I never thought Helen Marnie would try her hand at it.

I mean, if either of the frontwomen of Ladytron would go solo, I expected it to be Mira Aroyo. She always seemed the more animated of the two on stage, even back in the band's 'dispassionate synth-bots' phase. When they broke away from the unisex outfits, Mira's fashion was extroverted compared to Helen's more conservative look. Heck, Ms. Aroyo was sporting a skull bikini on the cover of Softcore Jukebox! Then again, such a pursuit would have undoubtedly further conflicted with that whole genetics studies thing, plus becoming a mother kinda' takes away from music time.

So it falls to Ms. Marnie as the great 'breakout solo star' hope of Ladytron's legacy, a narrative that seriously doesn't exist but oh you know some lazy scribes are itching at creating. Nay, seems she wanted to keep the creative fires going while Mira was doing motherhood and Reuben was doing photography. Fellow Lady-member Daniel Hunt helped her out on her first album, Crystal World, which lent it some Ladytron aesthetics, just in case the old fanbase wasn't too sure about a solo outing. For her sophomore effort though, she brought in fellow Glasgowian dummer-producer Jonny Scott, who supported her first solo tours. He's also played in groups such as Olympic Swimmers, Strike The Colours, and Take A Worm For A Walk Week. Dear Lord, are those ever some indie-sounding band names.

And that's about where we find Strange Words And Weird Wars, an indie-leaning synth-pop outing of ten tracks, each mostly in support of Ms. Marnie's pipes. Right, Helen's vocal range was never huge to begin with, so don't go expecting some power-pop diva singing here. She has her lane, she knows her lane, and she drives it as expertly as she ever has. Meaning, I'm listening to a Marnie solo album for more of those bittersweet tales of people fumbling through life, lyrics that appear simplistic on the surface but pack remarkable emotional punch should you dig further, and that cotton-candy lisp. *swoon*

Musically, we get the sort of big, shiny contemporary synth-pop that I don't often partake in (Bloom, G.I.R.L.S., Electric Youth, Invisible Girl), some slower, tasty synthwavey cuts (Lost Maps, Summer Boys, Heartbreak Kid), and, oh man, what a haunting ballad in A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. Northern lights catch her coming down indeed.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Tholen - Sternklang

Cyclic Law: 2007

I've been collecting CDs for a quarter-century now, a good two-thirds of my lifespan. In most of that time, they come in standard jewel cases or digipaks, with an occasional spiffed-up box-set thrown in for good measure (cardboard, vinyl, wood). About the oddest things I've gotten were the metal tins from Fabric and the recycled jackets from Silent Season. These past couple months though, my God have the packaging variations ever exploded. The weird plastic cases from Spiritech, the stitched cover photos from Slaapwel, not to mention a truly bizarre offering in Wednesday Campanella's Superman (soon...).

Of all my recent hauls, however, Cyclic Law has proven consistently inconsistent, running the gamut from thick hardcover photo book (Vortex's Morloch), ultra-shiny digipak (Psychomanteum's Oneironaut), and now this for Tholen's Sternklang. What is this, exactly? I've never seen anything like it before, a simple six-panel cardboard sleeve, with an extra inch of height. Dear me, that'll never fit in a CD tower! Good thing I've long since converted to open shelving for music storage. Impracticality aside, I cannot deny it does provide better cover art.

Enough about packaging – what do we have here in Tholen's Sternklang? For that matter, what does sternklang even mean? *seven... minutes... later...* Geez'it, that Wiki page sure is filled with highfalutin music theory. Apparently “Star Sound” is a three-hour piece composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen, to be performed in an outdoor setting and involves five choirs, intoned harmonic sounds, ninth partials of the overtone series, and in proportions of the constellations Boötes and Coma Berenices. I... think Tholen's piece just uses the title as his own point of inspiration. It's definitely not as long as the Stockhausen composition.

According to Lord Discogs, Tholen – previously Rostiges Riesenrad to the folks at Grottenvolk Rundfunk – hasn't released much, this being his debut album under the alias. It's an ambitious outing, a single seventy-one minute long track taking up the CD, though the Bandcamp option breaks it up into three Parts. It probably could have been indexed further, clear segments and passages different from one another as it progresses through, but then you wouldn't be forced to hear Sternklang as a whole, as intended by the artist.

Throughout it all, Tholen takes you on the sort of dark, cosmic sojourn I've come to expect from Cyclic Law (and, er, Cyro Chamber): droning, cinematic, claustrophobic, empty, enthralling. Most of the early portions are taken up by spaced-out dark ambience, with ghostly whispers and distant sounds echoing from the infinite black. Things grow more tense by Part II, with heavier emphasis on abrasive guitar tones and piercing sonics. Part III returns to the drone for a while, indulges some minimalist mechanical menace (no, I don't want to go into cryosleep!), eventually capping off with prominent forlorn synths and melancholic melodies, as though whatever sights we saw on this cosmic journey forever fade from memory, lost to the ravages of an indifferent universe. So it goes with dark space ambient, doesn't it.

Lars Leonhard - Stella Nova

Ultimae Records: 2013

I liked 1549. I liked Passengers At Night. Why haven't I gotten any Lars Leonhard musiks since? Dude's gone mostly independent, is why, which mean self-releasing his work now. Fine and dandy, but that also means he no longer has that label backing for manufacturing hard copies, and for too long I was a stubborn bastard about buying digital. I'm now a new man though, with new perspectives and new facial hair, including lightening my spending reigns on Bandcamp options ...if there's a discount code involved at least. Thus it's only appropriate that when Ultimae offered one, I picked me up a non-physical copy of the EP that first introduced me to Lars Leonhard, Stella Nova. Finally get to hear what's behind those shiny reflective spheres!

And if anything, holy cow do these three tracks mark as close to a 'ground zero' in the label's shift into dub techno's domain as any. Right, the spacious, dubby downtempo sound was already part of Lars' style, but glancing over the surrounding releases in Ultimae's catalogue is illuminating in hindsight. Prior to this, you had stuff like Solar Fields' Origin #2 (to date still his final release), Aes Dana's uptempo Pollen, and final entries from Carbon Based Lifeforms (plus Sync24), Cell, and Hybrid Leisureland (as Connect.Ohm). After Stella Nova, you find that Passages compilation, Aes Dana's collaborations with Miktek, and eventually Martin Nonstatic. Circular's Moon Pool feels like an outlier where Ultimae went after this EP.

The titular opener is about as you'd expect of downtempo dub techno, reverb and echo tones drifting in endless space with sub-bass frequencies a guiding rudder. There's a tiny, spritely melody some two-thirds deep, reminding me of an old Alter Ego tune called Chinese Eyes. Wow, Stella Nova's a modern minimalist-dub version of that, now that I think about it.

Whispering Colors has more breathing room at nine-minutes in length, and follows in a similar path as Stella Nova, though with a flowing, swaying swing to its rhythm. There's also more melody present in this tune, but the dubby stabs still dominate most of the frequencies. Hidden Places gets on that bleepy techno vibe with cascading echo effects pinging about. It's about as far from what you'd expect from the Ultimae sound of yore, but definitely what you'd expect from Ultimae of yeh'e. I don't know what the present-tense of “yore” is.

That's all there is to this EP. If you're at all familiar with Lars Leonhard's brand of dubby downtempo techno, you're in safe hands here. Stella Nova comes more off as an introduction of the man to the Ultimae faithful, testing the waters whether his sound would jive with a label known more for its psy-chill output. He did release another EP with them the following year (Burning Clouds), but by the time he came out with another full-length, he'd gone back to BineMusic for the deal. Kinda' feels like ol' Lars was one that got away from Ultimae in the end.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ishqamatics - Spacebound

...txt: 2013

Finally focusing on two projects for the first time, for the price of one! ...kind of. Lee Norris, I've obviously talked up plenty now, but haven't gotten into the alias that started it all for him: Metamatics. Maybe I will at some point – it's not like he's put it into mothballs – but dude's got so much music out there, I gotta' prioritize a little. As I've only 'discovered' Mr. Norris a couple years ago, of course his recent projects get my attention first. As for Ishq, I've heard a track or two over the years, have seen the name dropped in many familiar labels and compilations. The main guy behind the project, Matt Hillier, was something of a journeyman in the early '90s before breaking out with Ishq, and has had a rather productive career ever since.

So, Ishqamatics, yet another Norris pairing from that fruitful year of 2013, when he was hooking up with nearly everyone for some collaborative work if they released music on his ...txt print. That included Ishq, so naturally Lee looked over in Matt's direction and said, “That's a mighty fine sound you have there – wanna' connect?” So they did, even contributing a track to the indispensable Pete Namlook tribute set Die Welt Ist Klang (it always comes back to that, doesn't it). By the end of 2013, two albums resulted from the Ishqamatics sessions, one for the label Anodize (Earthbound), and another for ...txt, Spacebound. The latter sold out quickly, because of course it did, but demand was so high that another run of copies was manufactured. Hurrah, I could get me a copy as well! I mean, I ought to check it out, what with it being the default music on the ...txt homepage and all. Must be Very Important Music for such an honour.

Well, it's space ambient, that much is sure, which is something of a surprise where Ishq is concerned, having built a rep' for Earthly zen music and all. Hillier's tones do come through often, contrasting quite nicely with Norris' more frigid electronics. Sometimes the Ishq stylee dominates, as in the lengthy Bound To Earth featuring sitar drones for much of its duration (whoa, getting Shaikh flashbacks). Lots of noodly, droney, spacey ambient follows that track, field recordings coming and going before being sent back out into the cosmos. Sometimes there's glitched-up radio chatter, and a little jazz ditty plays from an overhead speaker in Round The Ringstone, but if I'm honest, there's little to detail, droning synth tones and minute melodies the name of the game here.

Spacebound is alluring, engaging, and flowing as an album, always leaving me like I'm drifting out in space while remaining tethered to terra firma. At the same time though, not much really leaped out at me either. It's an odd one, where everything I hear is exactly what I like to hear, but imprinting little upon my brain afterwards. Maybe there's something to be said for the unexpected.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Various - Sounds Of The Seventies: The Late '70s

Time Life Music: 1993

This was volume thirty-four out of a series of thirty-seven, and don't this come off like the crusty teat of a withered cow. Sounds Of The Seventies had already given the late '70s ample representation with two rounds of yearly spotlights. Following that, titles such as Seventies Top Forty, Guitar Power, Dance Fever, Punk & New Wave, plus several featured looks into FM Rock and AM Pop rounded up the stragglers, plus three more CDs of AM Nuggets after this. No other compilation in this series highlighted such nebulous ideas like “early '70s” or “mid-'70s”. What gives?

Time Life Music gives their reasoning as thus: “The late '70s was a schizophrenic time for pop music.” Basically, this CD is intended to showcase the myriad genres hitting the airwaves, much of which had little to do with each other. When your opening three songs include Donna Summer's true-disco hit Last Dance, The Village People's camp-disco hit In The Navy, and Boston's silly rock anthem More Than A Feeling, it does impart a sense that things were going a little kooky towards the end of that decade. America, if you thought that was weird, you should have heard the synthy sounds emanating from Europe and Asia too!

Seriously though, there are some interesting contrasts on this CD. The theme to Happy Days is on here, and that's followed by the MTV defining Video Killed The Radio Star from The Buggles, which I always assumed was a 1980 tune because of MTV. Nope, 1979 was when it was released, a technicality but still fits with a Late '70s theme. Punk gets a look-in by way of Blondie's Dreaming, which is followed upon by the... country soft rock (?) of Dave Mason's We Just Disagree. The sultry side of funk-n-soul gets repped by Marvin Gaye's I Want You and The Manhattans' Kiss And Say Goodbye, and rockier outings from John Stewart's Gold, Andrew Gold's Lonely Boy, and Bob Welch's Ebony Eyes show up. Um, yeah, most of the kick-ass rock tunes were already used up in prior Sounds Of The Seventies CDs.

That's one thing I'll give some props to this series though, always featuring fresh tunes with each volume. I sifted through each one, and didn't spot a single repeat, a remarkable feat considering not one instance of Neil Young showing up (da'fuq!??), not to mention nearly no synth music included – Hot Butter's Popcorn did show up though, because how could it not? I suppose there's a couple examples of synth on this CD too, like The Buggles, and the Moog solo on Alan O'Day's Undercover Angel. And let's not forget Minnie Riperton's Lovin' You! While that tune's about as un-electronic as it gets, it found a new generation of interest after The Orb sampled it in their breakout A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That you know the rest of it. So in true 'begging-chosing' fashion, rave music finally gets its nod in Sounds Of The Seventies.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Various - Sounds Of The Seventies: 1977

Time Life Music: 1990

Anyone remember those mail order music collections? They'd advertise on TV with a huge, scrolling playlist, and you'd hear some familiar tunes that they just don't play on the radio anymore, plus your original record or tape of the album has kinda' deteriorated over the years, but you never bothered to buy that new-fangled CD replacement because you just weren't sure of the format yet? Yeah, those ads. At least, I assume that was the pitch with them, letting Boomers regain all their favourite music for a low-low price of $6.99 per CD (or tape), with a new one being shipped every month, like music Christmas every thirty days. I'm not saying Time Life Music's series of The Sounds Of The Sixties/Seventies/Eighties was an example of this – I honestly don't recall any ads of the sort back then – but it sure comes off that way. Lack of barcode on these discs suggests so.

And no, I haven't come into possession an entire collection of these, but a former owner was offloading some, so being the CD hoarding-whore that I am, nabbed a couple because why not. Logically, Sounds Of The Seventies started off with a rundown of music per year. It then went on to a Take Two round of yearly options, giving twenty volumes of '70s music. The initial run lasted up to thirty-seven releases, and the excuses to keep feeding you music from this decade ran lame towards the end, believe you me. According to Lord Discogs, they stretched things even further past the original thirty-seven, because why end a steady revenue stream, eh? Since most of these tunes were coming from the Warner Music Group, they could keep milking it into the new millennium. They didn't, thankfully, but they could have!

So let's dig into the year 1977. Of the twenty songs in this track list, there's no Kraftwerk, no Vangelis, no Tangerine Dream, and no Can. Well, so much for keeping my interest. Fail.

Haha, just kidding. Of course weird, experimental synth music from Europe has no place in a compilation such as this. We're only after the tunes Americans were digging in the year 1977, which includes rock, funk, country, and soul. Maybe a dash of disco too.

There aren't many surprises then, most of the songs the light-weight, easy-going stuff that's impossible to offend on the radio. Fleetwood Mac's Dreams, Steve Miller Band's Fly Like An Eagle, Foreigner's Cold As Ice and Feels Like The First Time, Linda Ronstadt's It's So Easy and Blue Bayou, and Manfred Mann's Earth Band's Blinded By The Light (“revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night”). The filler stuff features artists like Glen Campbell, 10cc, James Taylor, Al Stewart... a lot of songs I've probably heard before, but don't get my blood pumpin', y'know?

Frankly, 1977 is rather milquetoast, save the glorious opening beat of Bee Gee's Stayin' Alive towards the end. Astounding how that rhythm can carry such a punch forty years on.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Andrew Heath - Soundings

Disco Gecko: 2017

I've been neglectful of Andrew Heath. It's not like he's been absent, releasing music at a yearly clip, but it's been a few albums since I last talked him up. Thing is, though I generally like his minimalist ambient works, it's also something that's reliably just there, not terribly fussed about getting attention. I can go back to it whenever I feel, comfortable that it'll sound exactly how I expect it will, and that'll be that. Seeing as how it's been two years (!) since I last reviewed one of Mr. Heath's records, it stands to reason my attention's been diverted elsewhere in the meanwhile. Absolutely so, labels like ...txt, Dronarivm, Cryo Chamber, and, er, Psychonavigation having lured my ambient explorations away from Disco Gecko in that time. Well, better get caught up on ol' Andrew then, starting with his most recent offering, Soundings.

One thing Mr. Heath has started putting more focus on is his use of field recordings, making them the guiding backbone of his compositions rather than sonic texturing. That is no more prominently displayed than with the opening track Wanderlust, where the good ol' clackity-clack of a typewriter greets us. More often than not, when I hear an album open with a typewriter, I expect the person at the machine to proclaim he's taking his work back underground (to keep it from falling into the wrong hands), but I suspect Andrew's manifesto isn't so renegade. Instead, this piece features distant footsteps, crackling static, soft synthy timbres, and those distinct, sparse piano tones that will always bring the Harold Budd comparisons, though Heath's use of them goes into abstraction. Halfway through the fourteen-minute piece, acoustic guitar plucks and muted dialog take the lead, though the typewriter/piano combo does return for the final leg. If Wanderlust was about capturing the feeling of one's mind drifting while trying to get proper-work done, it certainly does that. You've no idea how many times I got distracted even writing this paragraph!

For as much Andrew made in the liner notes about his field recordings being his primary source of inspiration, from which he crafted his music around, I don't get that sense from the rest of Soundings. For sure there's more throughout, the usual assortment of open areas, intimate settings, and the like, but nothing quite so significant as the typewriter of Wanderlust. Rather, he's given more time and space for the guest musicians to do their things. This includes clarinet from Bill Howgego in A Break In The Clouds, cello from Stéphane Marlot in Days In-Between, and the usual instrumental accompaniments from Anne Chris Bakker, whom Heath's been working with for some time now. They're all fine pieces, though does edge the music closer into modern classical's domain than ambient.

And in the end, I still found myself more enthralled by Andrew's 'traditional' songs, such as the Bandcamp bonus of The Painted Surface, something of a sober reflection of Wanderlust. Navigating art halls never felt so isolating.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Various - Soma Records: 20 Years (Slam & Silicone Soul Mixes)

Soma Quality Recordings: 2011

A 20-Years party ain't complete without a couple DJ mixes thrown into the, um, mix, and Soma Records has plenty of tools in their arsenal to do the deed with. As is typical in such an event, one set handles current material, while the other digs deep into the archives, and the results are about as you'd expect. No matter how 'cutting edge' or 'forward thinking' or 'better produced' current material may present itself, it simply cannot hold a candle to the bonafide classics standing the test of time. It is what it is, so you can only hope that the upfront tunes at least don't embarrass themselves too much in relying on gimmicky trends of the era they came out in.

And Slam's set (the 'current' one) mostly avoids such pratfalls. The Soma owners grant themselves some leeway in plucking tunes that have been a part of the label's history by presenting them with contemporary remixes. This includes Diabla (Christian Smith & Wehbba Remix), Stepback (Adam Beyer & Jesper Dahlback Remix), Passage Of Time (D'Julz Remix), Lifetimes (Pan-Pot Bass Times Mix), Right On, Right On (Nick Curly Remix), and Positive Education (Zero T Remix)... kind of. That last one's actually a d'n'b rub, which just wouldn't fit in a deep, tech-house, techno set such as this, so Slam uses a snippet of bass while bridging two versions of Stepback together. Which comes after that Lifetimes track no less, so that's technically four Slam tracks in a row. Not to mention opening with the Deepchord Atmospheric Rebuild of Groovelock, plus the Oxia Remix of Human a little later after. Slam sure love themselves some Slam tunes.

For the most part, their set starts from deep house groove before riding tech-house funk to a thumping techno peak, indulging a couple detours into minimalist-plod (oh God, why'd you use that mix of the lone Vector Lovers track?), with enough clever blends and layering for the ardent trainspotter to enjoy. I mean, you gotta' love how cheeky Slam is in using just a portion of Groovelock for intro purposes, when Deepchord's rub runs over thirteen minutes.

Silicone Soul takes on CD3, and oh boy, just look at all these mint Soma tunes! Daft Punk's Alive! Desert Storm's Scoraig 93! Rejuvination's Requiem! Alex Smoke's Chica Wappa! Chaser's Destination Unknown! Funk d'Void's Diabla (Heavenly Mix! (wait) Silicone Soul's Right On, Right On! (haven't we already...?) Slam's Positive Education! (now just hold here...!) Okay, so there's a lot of repeats from the Soma Classics CD. Mr. Soul does a few clever acapellas and overlays along the way, but I'm kinda' worn out on Positive Education now, thank you.

Also, if you aren't fussed about the DJ mixes, the digital options for 20 Years does include all the original, unmixed tracks for your enjoyment. I usually stump for the physical, but damn, even if you stick to streaming sources, that's a good deal. More than enough music there to get the whole Soma story, and then some.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Various - Soma Records: 20 Years (Soma Classics)

Soma Quality Recordings: 2011

Has there been any UK label more influential than Soma Quality Recordings? Yes, yes there has. Many more, in fact, and I could name-drop a dozen of them off the top of my head. I won't, though, because this is supposed to be a summation of Soma, a label that often likens itself as Very Important, but is honestly more like Kinda' Important. Still, they've released a lot of classic tech-house and techno over the years, and was a go-to source for many top progressive house jocks from the lands of Britannica. They've been steady homes for Slam, The Black Dog (Phase II), Samuel L Session, Silicone Soul, Funk D'Void, and DeepChord. Soma also introduced me to one of my all-time favourite artists of the past decade in Vector Lovers, and that's gotta' count for something. Oh, and a French house duo got their break on this label too, though they were quickly lured away by big Virgin dollars, so we needn't talk about them.

Oh, fine, I guess I must. I mean, it's practically the selling point of this 20 Years blowout, plastered all over the front cover. Frankly, I was more excited getting an unmixed version of their rub on Scott Grooves' Mothership Reconnection, one of the last before becoming robots. All that prime-era French filter funk in full effect, mmmm... Oh, right, the exclusive, unreleased cut, made before even Da Funk, when they were still doing hard acid house with Conor Dalton. Okay, my review of Daft Punk's Drive: it's a'ight.

I have half the tunes on the Soma Classics disc already, but in DJ mixes, so it's nice having them mostly in their full, original versions. Kinda' gutted that Desert Storm from Desert Storm is missing the intro portion with the war dialog and tasty pads on their own, but since this CD maximizes its runtime, some space needed saving.

Three Slam tracks make the cut (thumping acid techno of Positive Education, loopy hypnotic techno of Azure, Pt. 1, and vintage Balaeric progressive house of Eterna), because it's their label, damn it. And no Soma classics CD would be complete without inclusions from Silicone Soul (Right On, Right On), Funk d'Void (Diabla, though the lighter Heavenly Mix instead), The Black Dog (Cost II, by way of a 2007 reissue loophole since the 1993 original came out on General Production Recordings), Percy X (X-Trak 1 letting Detroit know that Soma recognizes the roots), and Samuel L Session. Interestingly, Mr. Session's Can You Relate is the only nod to then-contemporary bloopy tech-house on this CD, and by way of the Joris Voorn Flooding The Market With Remixes remix. Unsurprisingly, it's the least interesting cut here.

Of course, this is hardly the full Soma story, many names and tracks not included here. Fortunately, two additional DJ mixes handled by Slam and Silicone Soul come with this package, filling in those gaps to various degrees. Check in to Part Two of this review for the details!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

God Body Disconnect - Sleeper's Fate

Cryo Chamber: 2017

Definitely a surprise that Bruce Moallem returned to the story arc he started in Dredge Portals. How much is left to tell about a man lost in a coma? We've already explored the past memories, the self-reflections, and the damning judgments. All that remains is the final climb up Jacob's ladder, but the last track off Dredge Portals made it clear the narrator wasn't destined for such a fate any time soon, trapped in a forever loop wandering his own psychosis. And perhaps that still remains, though taking in Sleeper's Fate, I get a sense there's conclusion here, a new path taken behind a previously locked door. Literally, one of the many field recordings being a key unlocking a door.

Y'know, I'm not so sure I can call what God Body Disconnect does with sounds is field recordings. When most producers make use of such sounds, it's as sonic dressing, ambient canvasing, and other 'aural painting' analogies you may think of. You may hear babbling brooks or falling rain or stampeding wildebeest, but it's all in service of setting mood and tone for the composition being presented, seldom a narrative device. Mr. Moallem, however, is so precise and focused in his use of such sounds, it's like I'm watching a movie play out without watching anything on a screen.

The opening titular cut, for instance, places us back at the scene of the narrator's attack. There's falling rain, distant thunder, radio chatter from nearby cop cars, a screaming ambulance arriving, and through it all, a dying man's haggard gasping breath, his throat choking from blood welling up through his mouth. And I'm right there, in this man's viewpoint, as vividly as though watching such images play out on celluloid. Only after this scene plays out do we get some music playing, a sombre piece of strings, pads, and echoing guitar, though even this feels like a 'credit roll' portion of the album before we return to the actual film.

Sleeper's Fate essentially plays out like this, long stretches of 'foley recordings' (can I call this a thing?), with the narrator traversing empty corridors and past hazy memories. It's not too dissimilar to Dredge Portals in that way, but whereas the atmosphere of that album could feel damning and claustrophobic, there's more sense of openness here, lighting once shadowed recesses of the narrator's state of mind.

To put a finer point on it, the whole reason our viewpoint character is stuck in a coma is because, no matter how much he thinks he wants death, he just can't let go of life. Sleeper's Fate is about finally giving in, and the release that provides. The back-half of this album features the most music, almost all of it the sort of soothing ambient that's antithetical to a dark ambient label. Has our narrator awoken from his torturous Hell? Is he walking in the literal Garden Of Eden? Guess we'll have to wait for a third God Body Disconnect for an answer.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Seaworthy - Sleep Paths

Slaapwel Records: 2012

Ah, hm. Feel like I've gone into a rut here. The whole point of doing this alphabetical sequence is to prevent such things, to keep every subsequent item different from the last. And sure, there's times where runs of similar-sounding albums can't be helped – the 'Trance' month of 2016, for instance – but such instances are generally rare and at least expected when the moment comes. I never intended for so many shortish ambient releases to bunch up like this, and were they in my original regular queue, they'd at least be spaced out a little more. Or maybe not, items like Selected Ambient Works, Slumberland, Signals, and Solar Walk also among these 'S' albums. Maybe there's just something ambient composers are drawn to in this region of the alphabet, a physiological state of being that works well with ambient music. 'Smiling', that must be it.

So we return quite quickly to Slaapwel Records for another outing of single-song, lullaby music. No, seriously, that's what Sleep Paths is, a forty minute composition the 'electro-acoustic post-rock' band Seaworthy wrote as a beddy-bye time soundtrack for guitarist Cameron Webb's newborn child. Forty minutes is too long for such needs though, especially when so very little actually happens in this piece.

From the outset, you hear super-soft electric guitar plucking, gentle whispers of mechanical breathing, all the while droning reverb and delay effects blanket everything in a minimalist melodic haze. And that's it for the entire duration, cottony sounds meandering along without a care in the world, floating along a river of fluffy clouds. It's impossible to pay attention to Sleep Paths without your mind wandering even after a dozen minutes of this, and Seaworthy stretch things out as long as most toddlers are willing to nap for. I can't imagine anyone even playing such music live without nodding off themselves, gazing at their shoes to the point they've doubled over and passed out on their feet. At least Simon Scott's offering for Slaapwel had a sense of progression from start to finish.

Not that I'm saying Sleep Paths is terrible or boring or anything – it do what it supposed to do, and it do it well. It unfortunately leaves me with almost no talking points. Lucky for me, however, there was a Bandcamp bonus with this CD, Sleep Paths II, which has more going on than the original piece.

For one, it runs at a 'brisk' twenty-nine minutes, which makes better sense as a 'falling asleep' composition (if you haven't naturally nodded off after that long, music ain't gonna' help). Two, while the basic acoustic-droning elements remain, there's rhythm here, clinky percussion panning across the channels throughout. Sleep Paths II also changes form after a while, more prominent guitar plucking and layers of static fuzz added towards the end. Seems to defeat the purpose of sleeping music to have your piece grow more dynamic as it progresses, but hey, at least it gives me more to wax words over.

Friday, January 5, 2018

36 - Sine Dust Versions

3six Recordings: 2015

Wait wait wait!!! Dennis Huddleston released a single with Saturn on the cover!? Yeah, guy, a mini-series at that. Awww, man, it's like 36 knows me or something, my one true weakness for any artwork. Can't say I would buy the vinyl of Sine Dust or Tomorrow's Explorers though, if anything because they're already out of stock and jacked up on the open market now. At least I still get to hear tunes off those records on the bonus CD of Black Soma, but I cannot deny those Sine Dust copies do look exquisite.

While crafting the four tracks of that particular EP, Dennis made alternates, mostly as a means to explore various ideas or paths on each before settling on the finished versions. Not that this is a unique thing musicians do, especially ambient ones, but unless they're the sort who'll release every and anything that strikes their muse, it isn't often they'll make such works available. Given how immaculately produced 36's finished material typically is, I'm surprised he's even letting us hear his alternate pieces, but I guess he figured there was enough to differentiate them from the originals.

Either that, or he just wanted to show off more Saturn porn, which I'm totally fine with. I mean, just look at that beauty shot, the golden globe hovering in space so majestically, its rings stretched out and enhanced. Yeah, I don't think that's an actual Cassini photo, probably a composite. Plus, if you stare really closely, you'll notice concentric lines encircling the planet, as though the light from the background stars are being warped by gravitational forces. In fact, the whole top half of this picture looks more like painting smudges. It's all quite subtle, the sort of thing you won't notice unless paying attention. Hey, kinda' like where 36 takes his music with Sine Dust Versions!

The originals were some of 36's most focused pieces of melancholic music – I'm sure I mentioned as such in regards to the titular track which also appeared on Void Dance. The associated tracks on the single generally followed in Sine Dust's mould, and so it goes with Versions too. Only in this case, tones and melody are drawn and stretched out such that each composition is turned into lengthy pieces of drone, sometimes doubling their runtime in the process.

On one hand, this definitely falls more in line with the type of ambient you'd expect of a space music outing, especially with a lonely Saturn against as stark, empty black backdrop. Whereas the originals could melt your heart, these may leave you feeling lonesome and cold. Hell, the ghostly vocal of Sine Dust is essentially non-existent in its Version counterpart, though Sun Riders Part II (Version) does retain some moving moments in its droning timbre. I wouldn't recommend this EP for anyone other than 36 followers though, which was the intent behind releasing it anyhow – offering a glimpse of different angles Mr. Huddleston's takes his musical ideas.

Simon Scott - Silenne

Slaapwel Records: 2010

So this is a quaint little label's I've stumbled upon, and boy, do I mean 'little'. Operating out of Belgium, Slaapwel Records has been in the game for a decade now, with a grand total of only thirteen items released. Even at their early 'peak', they barely managed two a year, and have been downright lethargic these past few trips around Sol. Makes one wonder whether they've taken that “music to fall asleep to” manifesto all too well. Still, it's not like Slaapwel's a major enterprise either, their CDs coming off like they were made in the art studio of someone's cottage home, simple high-grade cardboard sleeves with ink-stamped type-face, and a pretty picture literally stitched on the cover. It's any wonder they have enough market share such that I discovered them at all.

Discover I did though, on account of following a lead through Lord Discogs, which led me to their Bandcamp, from which I could order actual physical copies of musiks from their offices. And to think such a thing would have been night impossible ten years ago. Truly astounding times we live in.

That particular lead was Dag Rosenqvist, who's Jasper TX project was any early contribution to Slaapwel's skint catalogue. Another chap who he'd collaborated with was Simon Scott, who also released an album with this label. Simon's biggest claim to fame is one of the early members of seminal shoegaze band Slowdive, and he's flitted among various other bands and projects over the years since (The Giant Polar Bears among the most amusingly named of them). At the start of the current decade, he started releasing material under his own name, Silenne on Slaapwel his third of such efforts. Seems like an odd choice, but since ol' Dag had done the deed as well, Mr. Scott felt it was a decent enough label for a tidy little one-off piece of his own.

And that's essentially what Silenne is, a thirty-three minute long single composition that maintains Slaapwel's stated aim of slumber-inducing sonic bliss. The opening portions of the tune mostly consists of a simple, gentle, looping acoustic melody with delay effects bridging each loop. A soft, low thrum of bass breathes every so often, and vinyl crackles add a sense of randomness as things play out, as though Scott's recording this while clearing stress-filled cobwebs from your head. Eh, I'm not feeling sleepy, just need to give my eyes a little break, y'know. Staring at a computer screen can be taxing and all.

The acoustic plucking gradually fades into a steady drone, receding from the fringes of your consciousness. Assuming you haven't gone to the land of Nod by this point, the remaining two-thirds of Silenne slowly ebbs out with soft timbre and fuzzy effects so subtle and trance-inducing, you'd have to be strung out on amphetamines to not zone out. It's weird saying losing one's attention in the second-half of a lengthy composition is the point, but here we are.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Ras Command - Serious Smokers (The Best Of Ras Command)

Waveform Records: 2000

Ambient dub may have been the foundation Waveform built their early success on, but that don't mean they had no love for the roots of dub music either. I'm talking that righteous irie rude-b'woy Jamaican reggae, mon'. After Phase 1 of the label's existence came to a close (re: had finally tapped out of material exported from Beyond), they were mostly left wandering about in search of their next course of action. For a time, it looked as though they would explore the separate facets of ambient and dub, first with Slumberland, then with Earthjuice. And boy, did Waveform figure Earthjuice was gonna' be a thing, proudly stamping a Volume 1 on it, and flooding the stores with copies. Every time I went on Big City Sojourns to take new musiks back with me to the Canadian Hinterlands, there was Earthjuice, its tropical trees in a rasta-man frame staring back at me. Can't say I was terribly intrigued by it though, my ears demanding the unexpected and unheard - Jamaican dub music isn't known for its diversity.

One individual from that compilation that Waveform seemed keen on was Alex Buchal (aka: Ras Command; aka: Cee-Mix; aka: Kong Fu; aka: L-X; aka: Third Coming; aka: Q-Clones). A German by stock and trade, he mostly peddled in dub music, though dabbled in the realms of d'n'b too, releasing some four albums and a dozen singles across his aliases. He was also suffering from cancer, and passed on early 2000. A couple months after, this 'best of' collection emerged from Waveform. I'm not sure whether the label and Alex were already in the works for such a release, or it was put together after the fact as a tribute - some liner notes regarding this matter would have been helpful.

As for the music, it's about as you'd expect of a reggae dub outing. The sounds are sparse, letting all those echo, reverb, delay, phase, and flange effects on the pianos, melodica, and rhythms breathe and exhale to their heart's content. And they take a heaping toke with every splash of snare, believe you me. Plus, that bass! There's some serious sub-frequency action going on here, my friends, low-ends that only the choicest speakers will properly register. Play these tracks on regular ol' computer or laptop outputs, and there's nothing there, absolutely nothing. This is bass for the true believers, not poseurs who think bass is a mid-range noise.

Most of the tracks come from the two Ras Command In Dub albums, some of which get rather brisk in tempo. A couple cuts from his Cee Mix project that skews more trip-hop also appear, as does the exclusive Love Dub (Drum Mix) cut from Earthjuice. That's about all I have to say with Serious Smokers though. Like I said, it's reggae dub, the most predictable style of downtempo out there. Is it ever the most perfect music for ultra-laidback vibes about though.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

36 - Seconds & Forever

3six Recordings: 2016

I've settled upon a New Year's Resolution: don't be so anal about buying MP3s anymore. I really can't justify being against it as in years past. There's a lot of wonderful music out there, but without ample funds behind it, a great deal of it simply isn't viable in the physical medium, often limited to small, collector runs at best. And when some of those runs stick to the vinyl option – a medium I must resist because I know it will financially ruin me – I've effectively and stubbornly cut myself off for decade-old petty reasons. Well, enough of that, I say. Bandcamp has provided me with an outlet I feel comfortable paying monies for musiks with – direct compensation to artists. And while I'll hold out as long as possible for CD options, I shouldn't feel beholden to it either when the high-quality MP3 is right there at a cheaper price too. Obviously I'm not gonna' go on a spending spree of MP3s now, but should a discount offer pop up for an item I know I'll never buy in physical (sold out, wrong format, etc.), well, sure, why not, eh?

Okay. Let's now dig into this mini-album from 36, a vinyl release which I bought as a high-quality MP3 from his Bandcamp because there was a discount code available. I'm so easy...

Really, of the short list of artists I'd be willing to take this route, Dennis Huddleston's 36 project is near the top, especially since he self-releases so much material. Seconds & Forever, though, appears to be one of the few items he's put out on a separate label. That same year, he released The Infinity Room on the semi-popular label-blog A Strangely Isolated Place, but Mystic & Quantum is a regular ol' print running out of Spain. They're relatively new, only a handful of records in their catalogue, but have LPs from the likes of DMX Krew and VHS Glitch to their name. 36 is an odd addition, his ambient nothing like the synthy electro and techno Mystic & Quantum peddle in. Why, if you tilt your ears in just the right direction when playing back Seconds & Forever, you'll hear the sounds of worlds colliding.

As for the music, yeah, it's more ambient from 36. Consisting to two eighteen minute pieces (one for each side of the record, 'natch), Part 1 takes a little to build. As it gradually emerges from the lowest registers of human hearing, however, you can tell it's gonna' be another lovely, pleasant, heart-warming composition of layered pads. I initially had shades of Vangelis' Creation du Monde when first hearing this, though 36's dense timbre soon puts that comparison to rest. Part 2 goes in an opposite direction from Part 1, a subdued and sombre melody maintaining a general through-line, as additional layers of strings come and go. Overall more calm and gentle, letting you drift into melancholy thought. Works best while gazing through winter windows.

Monday, January 1, 2018

ACE TRACKS: December 2017

That's another Gregorian calendar done, and there's one thing I can say I'm truly disappointed in this past orbit of Sol. No, not American politics, I got over that almost immediately – if anything, things could have turned out even worse if they didn't have some of the densest idiots running that daycare circus. Some other projects kinda' stalled this year, but that's not entirely in my hands, so I can let that slide. And while the world has had its ups and downs, I'm strangely okay with how things are heading. Maybe it's blinkered optimism or complacency, but for all the rough, nasty crap folks had to endure, I feel like it was as though lancing a festering boil that had grown into a vicious tumour, a necessary operation for things to get better. It was a year of shitty people over-reaching with their shittiness, and actually getting called out for it, some even suffering consequences from it. It's a start.

No, what irks me the most about 2017 is it was somehow my least productive year, at least with regards to this blog. Of these past five years, I've generated the least amount of new reviews, and while that's partly due to taking a month off, that doesn't provide my only excuse. Hell, I did the same in 2014, and still cranked out a bunch of reviews then. And yes, other projects did take up some time, but I was still taking college classes in 2013, which were just as much a distraction as anything. Really, I got nothing, the lower review turnout just an inexplicable happenstance of the year 2017. And of course, this means I'm somehow still not finished with my regular alphabetical run. This decade though, I promise!

Anyhow, here's the ACE TRACKS for December of 2017.


Full track list here.


MISSING ALBUMS:
WestBam - The Roof Is On Fire
Various - Quinq
SiJ & Item Caligo - Queer Reminiscence
Out Of The Box - Out Of The Box
Various - Nu Balance
Lorenzo Montanà - Nihil

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 0%
Percentage Of Rock: 4%
Most “WTF?” Track: If not Oak Ridge Boys again, maybe Wednesday Campanella, just for how unexpected it is.

Yep, three months later, and the alphabetical backlog is still chugging along. I've only just hit the 'S' portion of it now, and trust me, like it's regular queue brother, 'S' is a beast – will take me at least half a month to get through that. Then it's onto 'T', 'U', etc. I'd like to say I'll be finished with everything by spring, but, y'know...

Things I've Talked About

...txt 10 Records 16 Bit Lolita's 1963 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2 Play Records 2 Unlimited 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 20xx Update 2562 3 Loop Music 302 Acid 36 3FORCE 3six Recordings 4AD 6 x 6 Records 75 Ark 7L & Esoteric 808 State A Perfect Circle A Positive Life A-Wave a.r.t.less A&M Records A&R Records Abandoned Communities Abasi Above and Beyond abstract Ace Trace Ace Tracks Playlists Ace Ventura acid acid house acid jazz acid techno acoustic Acroplane Recordings Adam Freeland Adham Shaikh ADNY Adrian Younge adult contemporary Advanced UFO Phantom Aegri Somnia Aes Dana Afrika Bambaataa Afro-house Afterhours Agoria Aidan Casserly Aira Mitsuki Ajana Records Ajna AK1200 Akshan album Aldrin Alex Smoke Alex Theory Alice In Chains Alien Community Alien Project Alio Die All Saints Alphabet Zoo Alphaxone Altar Records Alter Ego alternative rock Alucidnation Ambelion Ambidextrous ambient ambient dub ambient techno Ambient World Ambientium Ametsub Amon Tobin Amplexus Anabolic Frolic Anatolya Andrea Parker Andrew Heath Androcell Anduin Andy C anecdotes Aniplex Anjunabeats Annibale Records Anodize Another Fine Day Antendex anthem house Anthony Paul Kerby Anthony Rother Anti-Social Network Aphasia Records Aphex Twin Apócrýphos Apollo Apple Records April Records Aqua Aquarellist Aquascape Aquasky Aquila Arcade Architects Of Existence arena rock Arista Armada Armin van Buuren Arpatle Arts & Crafts ASC Ashtech Asia Asian Dub Foundation Astral Projection Astral Waves Astralwerks AstroPilot Asura Asylum Records ATCO Records Atlantic Atlantis atmospheric jungle Atomic Hooligan Atrium Carceri Attic Audion AuroraX Autechre Autistici Autumn Of Communion Avantgarde Aveparthe Avicii Axiom Axs Axtone Records Aythar B.G. The Prince Of Rap B°TONG B12 Babygrande Balance Balanced Records Balearic ballad Banco de Gaia Bandulu battle-rap Bauri Beastie Boys Beat Buzz Records Beatbox Machinery Beats & Pieces bebop Beck Bedouin Soundclash Bedrock Records Beechwood Music Benny Benassi Bent Benz Street US Berlin-School Beto Narme Beyond bhangra Bicep big beat Big Boi Big L Big Life Bill Hamel Bill Laswell BIlly Idol BineMusic BioMetal Biophon Records Biosphere Bipolar Music BKS Black Hole Recordings black rebel motorcycle club Black Swan Sounds Blanco Y Negro Blasterjaxx Blend Blood Music Blow Up Blue Öyster Cult blues Bluescreen Bluetech BMG Boards Of Canada Bob Dylan Bob Marley Bobina Bogdan Raczynzki Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Boney M Bong Load Records Bonzai Boogie Down Productions Booka Shade Botchit & Scarper Bows Boxed Boys Noize Boysnoize Records BPitch Control braindance Brandt Brauer Frick Brasil & The Gallowbrothers Band breakcore breaks Brian Eno Brian Wilson Brick Records Britpop Brodinski broken beat Brooklyn Music Ltd Bryan Adams BT Bubble Buffalo Springfield Bulk Recordings Burial Burned CDs Bursak Records Bush Busta Rhymes C.I.A. Calibre calypso Canibus Canned Resistor Capitol Records Capsula Captured Digital Carbon Based Lifeforms Carl B Carl Craig Carol C Caroline Records Carpe Sonum Records Castroe Cat Sun CD-Maximum Ceephax Acid Crew Celestial Dragon Records Cell Celtic Cevin Fisher Cheb i Sabbah Cheeky Records chemical breaks Chihei Hatakeyama chill out chill-out chiptune Chris Duckenfield Chris Fortier Chris Korda Chris Sheppard Chris Witoski Christmas Christopher Lawrence Chromeo Chronos Chrysalis Ciaran Byrne cinematic soundscapes Circular Cirrus Cities Last Broadcast City Of Angels CJ Stone Claptone classic house classic rock classical Claude Young Clear Label Records Cleopatra Cloud 9 Club Cutz Club Tools Cocoon Recordings Cold Spring Coldcut Coldplay coldwave Colette collagist Columbia Com.Pact Records comedy Compilation Comrie Smith Connect.Ohm conscious Control Music Convextion Cooking Vinyl Cor Fijneman Corderoy Cosmic Gate Cosmic Replicant Cosmo Cocktail Cosmos Studios Cottonbelly Council Of Nine Counter Records country country rock Covert Operations Recordings Craig Padilla Crazy Horse Cream Creamfields Crockett's Theme Crosby Stills And Nash Crosstown Rebels crunk Cryo Chamber Cryobiosis Cryogenic Weekend Crystal Moon Cube Guys Culture Beat Curb Records Current Curve cut'n'paste Cyan Music Cyber Productions CyberOctave Cyclic Law Cygna Cyril Secq Czarface D-Bridge D-Fuse D-Topia Entertainment Dacru Records Daddy G Daft Punk Dag Rosenqvist Damian Lazarus Damon Albarn Dan The Automator Dance 2 Trance Dance Pool dancehall Daniel Heatcliff Daniel Lentz Daniel Pemberton Daniel Wanrooy Dao Da Noize dark ambient dark psy darkcore darkside darkstep darkwave Darla Records Darren McClure Darren Nye DAT Records Databloem dataObscura David Alvarado David Bickley David Guetta David Morley DDR De-tuned Dead Coast Dead Melodies Deadmau5 Death Grips Death Row Records Decimal Dedicated Deejay Goldfinger Deep Dish Deep Forest deep house Deeply Rooted House Deepwater Black 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 Dooflex Dopplereffekt Dossier Dousk downtempo dowtempo Dr. Atmo Dr. Dre Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Dr. Octagon Dragon Quest dream house dream pop DreamWorks Records Drexciya drill 'n' bass Dronarivm drone Dronny Darko drum 'n' bass DrumNBassArena drunken review dub Dub Pistols dub techno Dub Trees Dubfire dubstep DuMonde Dune Dusted Dynatron E-Mantra E-Z Rollers Eardream Music Earth Earth Nation Earthling Eastcoast Eastcost EastWest Eastworld Eat Static EBM Echodub Ed Rush & Optical Editions EG EDM World Weekly News Ektoplazm electro Electro House Electro Sun electro-funk electro-pop electroclash Electronic Dance Essentials Electronic Music Guide Electrovoya Elektra Elektrolux em:t EMC update EMI Emiliana Torrini Eminem Emmerichk Emperor Norton Empire enCAPSULAte Engine Recordings Enigma Enmarta EP Epic epic trance Erased Tapes Records Eric Borgo Erik Vee Erol Alkan Escape Esoteric Reactive ethereal Etnica Etnoscope Euphoria euro dance eurotrance Eurythmics Eve Records Everlast Ewan Pearson Exitab experimental Eye Q Records Ezdanitoff F Communications Fabric Fade Records Faithless Falcon Reekon Fallen fanfic Fantastisizer Fantasy Enhancing Fatboy Slim Fax +49-69/450464 Fear Factory Fedde Le Grand Fehrplay Feist Fektive Records Felix da Housecat Fennesz Ferry Corsten FFRR field recordings Filter filters Final Fantasy Firescope Five AM Fjäder Flashover Recordings Floating Points Flowers For Bodysnatchers Flowjob Fluke Flying Lotus folk footwork Force Intel Fountain Music Four Tet FPU Frank Bretschneider Frankie Bones Frankie Knuckles Frans de Waard Fred Everything freestyle French house Front Line Assembly 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 Gary Martin Gas Gasoline Alley Records Gee Street Geffen Records Gel-Sol Genesis Geometry Combat Gerald Donald Get Physical Music ghetto Ghostface Killah Ghostly International glam Gliese 581C glitch Global Communication Global Underground Globular goa trance God Body Disconnect Gorillaz gospel Gost goth Grammy Awards Gravediggaz Green Day Grey Area Greytone Gridlock grime Groove Armada Groove Corporation Grooverider grunge Guru Gustaf Hidlebrand Gusto Records GZA H2O Records Haddaway Halgrath happy hardcore hard house hard rock hard techno hard trance hardcore Hardfloor hardstyle Harlequins Enigma Harmless Harmonic 33 Harold Budd Harthouse Harthouse Mannheim Hawtin Hearts Of Space Hed Kandi Hefty Records Helen Marnie Hell Hercules And Love Affair Hernán Cattáneo Hexstatic Hi-Bias Records Hic Sunt Leones Hide And Sequence Hiero Emperium Hieroglyphics High Contrast High Note Records Higher Ground Higher Intelligence Agency Hilyard hip-hop hip-house hipno Home Normal Honest Jon's Records Hooj Choons Hope Records horrorcore Hospital Records Hot Chip Hotflush Recordings house Howie B Huey Lewis & The News Human Blue Hybrid Hybrid Leisureland Hymen Records Hyperdub Hypertrophy hypnotic records I Awake I-Cube i! Records I.F.O.R. I.R.S. Records Iboga Records Ice Cube Ice H2o Records ICE MC IDM Igorrr illbient Imperial Dancefloor Imploded View In Charge In Trance We Trust Incoming Incubus Indica Records indie rock Industrial Infected Mushroom Infinite Guitar influence records Infonet Ink Midget Inner Ocean Records Insane Clown Posse Inspectah Deck Instinct Ambient Instra-Mental Inter-Modo Interchill Records Internal International Deejays Gigolo Interscope Records Intimate Productions Intuition Recordings ISBA Music Entertainment Ishkur Ishq Island Records Islands Of Light Italians Do It Better italo disco italo house Item Caligo J-pop Jack Moss Jacob Newman Jafu Jake Stephenson Jam and Spoon Jam El Mar James Blake James Horner James Murray James Zabiela Jamie Jones Jamie Myerson Jamie Principle Jamiroquai Javelin Ltd. Jay Haze Jay Tripwire Jaydee jazz jazz dance jazzdance jazzstep Jean-Michel Jarre Jefferson Airplane Jerry Goldsmith Jesper Dahlbäck 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 Christie Josh Wink Journeys By DJ™ LLC Joyful Noise Recordings Juan Atkins juke Jump Cut jump up Jumpin' & Pumpin' jungle Junior Boy's Own Junkie XL Juno Reactor Jurassic 5 Kaico Kay Wilder KDJ Ken Ishii Kenji Kawai Kenny Glasgow Keoki Keosz Kerri Chandler Kevin Braheny Kevin Yost Kevorkian Records Khooman Khruangbin Ki/oon Kid Koala Kiko Kinetic Records King Cannibal King Midas Sound King Tubby Kitaro Klang Elektronik Klaus Schulze Klik Records KMFDM Koch Records Koichi Sugiyama Kolhoosi 13 Komakino Kompakt Kon Kan Kool Keith Kozo Kraftwelt Kraftwerk Krafty Kuts krautrock Kriistal Ann Krill.Minima Kris O'Neil Kriztal KRS-One Kruder and Dorfmeister Krusseldorf Kubinski KuckKuck Kulor Kurupt Kwook L.B. Dub Corp L.S.G. L'usine Lab 4 Ladytron LaFace Records Lafleche Lange Large Records Lars Leonhard Laserlight Digital LateNightTales Latin Laurent Garnier LCD Soundsystem Le Moors 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 Lotek Records Loud Records Louderbach Loverboy Luaka Bop Luciano Luke Slater Lustmord M_nus M.A.N.D.Y. M.I.K.E. Madonna Magda Magik Muzik Mahiane Mali Mammoth Records Mantacoup Marc Simz Marcel Dettmann 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 MF Doom Miami Bass Miami Beach Force Miami Dub Machine Michael Brook Michael Jackson Michael Mantra Michael Mayer Mick Chillage micro-house microfunk Microscopics MIG Miguel Migs Mike Saint-Jules Mike Shiver Miktek Mille Plateaux Millennium Records Mind Distortion System Mind Over MIDI mini-CDs minimal minimal tech-house Ministry Of Sound miscellaneous Misja Helsloot Miss Kittin Miss Moneypenny's Mistical Mixmag Mo Wax Mo-Do MO-DU Moby Model 500 modern classical Modeselektor Moist Music Moodymann Moonshine Morgan Morphology Moss Garden Motech Motorbass Moving Shadow Mujaji Murk Murmur Mushy Records Music link Music Man Records musique concrete Mutant Sound System Mute MUX Muzik Magazine My Best Friend Mystery Tape Laboratory Mystica Tribe Mystified N-Trance Nacht Plank Nadia Ali Nas Nashville Natural Midi Nature Sounds Naughty By Nature Nebula Neil Young Neon Droid Neotantra Neotropic nerdcore Nervous Records Nettwerk Neurobiotic Records New Age New Beat New Jack Swing new wave Nic Fanciulli Nick Höppner Night Time Stories Nightwind Records Nimanty Nine Inch Nails Ninja Tune Nirvana nizmusic No Mask Effect Nobuo Uematsu noise Nomad Nonesuch Nonplus Records Nookie Nordic Trax Norman Feller North South Northumbria Not Now Music Nothing Records Nova NovaMute NRG Ntone nu-italo nu-jazz nu-skool Nuclear Blast Entertainment Nulll Nunc Stans Nurse With Wound NXP Oasis Octagen Offshoot Offshoot Records Ol' Dirty Bastard Olan Mill Old Europa Cafe old school rave Ole Højer Hansen Olga Musik Olien Oliver Lieb Olsen OM Records Omni Trio Omnimotion Omnisonus One Little Indian Oophoi Oosh Open Open Canvas Opium Opus III orchestral Original TranceCritic review Origo Sound Orkidea Orla Wren Ornament Ostgut Ton Ott Ottsonic Music Ouragan Out Of The Box OutKast Outpost Records Overdream P-Ben Paleowolf Pan Sonic Pantera Pantha Du Prince Paolo Mojo Parlaphone Patreon Paul Moelands Paul Oakenfold Paul van Dyk Pendulum Perfect Stranger Perfecto Perturbator Pet Shop Boys Petar Dundov Pete Namlook Pete Tong Peter Andersson Peter Benisch Peter Broderick Peter Gabriel Peter Tosh Phantogram Phonothek Photek Phutureprimitive Phynn PIAS Recordings Pinch Pink Floyd Pitch Black PJ Harvey Plaid Planet Dog Planet Earth Recordings Planet Mu Planetary Assault Systems Planetary Consciousness Plastic City Plastikman Platinum Platipus Pleq Plump DJs Plunderphonic Plus 8 Records PM Dawn Poker Flat Recordings Pole Folder politics Polydor Polytel pop Popular Records Porya Hatami post-dubstep power electronics Prince Prince Paul Prins Thomas Priority Records Profondita prog prog psy prog-psy Progression progressive breaks progressive house progressive rock progressive trance Prolifica Proper Records Prototype Recordings protoU Pryda psy chill psy dub Psy Spy Records psy trance psy-chill psychedelia Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia Psychomanteum Psychonavigation Psychonavigation Records Psycoholic Psykosonik Psysolation Public Enemy punk punk rock Pureuphoria Records Purl Purple Soil Push PWL International Quadrophonia Quality Quango Quantum Quinlan Road R & S Records R'n'B R&B Rabbit In The Moon Radio Slave Radioactive Radioactive Man Radiohead Rae Raekwon ragga Rainbow Vector raison d'etre Ralph Lawson RAM Records Randal Collier-Ford Random Review Rank 1 rant Rapoon RareNoise Records Ras Command Rascalz Raster-Noton Ratatat Raum Records RCA React Red Jerry Refracted reggae remixes Renaissance Renaissance Man Rephlex Reprise Records Republic Records Resist Music Restless Records RetroSynther Reverse Alignment Rhino Records Rhys Fulber Ricardo Villalobos Richard Durand Riley Reinhold Ringo Sheena Rising High Records RnB Roadrunner Records Robert Hood Robert Miles Robert Oleysyck Roc Raida rock rock opera rockabilly rocktronica Roger Sanchez ROIR Rollo Rough Trade Rub-N-Tug Ruben Garcia Rumour Records Running Back Ruthless Records RZA S.E.T.I. Sabled Sun SadGirl Sakanaction Salt Tank Salted Music Salvation Music Samim Samora sampling Sanctuary Records Sander van Doorn Sandoz SantAAgostino Sarah McLachlan Sash Sasha Saul Stokes Scandinavian Records Scann-Tec sci-fi Scooter Scott Grooves Scott Hardkiss Scott Stubbs Scuba Seán Quinn Seaworthy Segue Sense Sentimony Records Sequential Seraphim Rytm Setrise Seven Davis Jr. Sghor sgnl_fltr Shackleton Shaded Explorations Shaded Explorer Shadow Records Sharam Shawn Francis shoegaze Si Matthews SideOneDummy Records Sidereal Signature Records SiJ Silent Season Silent Universe Silentes Silentes Minimal Editions Silicone Soul silly gimmicks Silver Age Simian Mobile Disco Simon Berry Simon Heath Simon Posford Simon Scott Simple Records Sinden Sine Silex single Single Gun Theory Sire Records Company Six Degrees Sixeleven Records Sixtoo ska Skare Skin To Skin Skua Atlantic Slaapwel Records Slam Sleep Research Facility Slinky Music Sly and Robbie Smalltown Supersound SME Visual Works Inc. SMTG Limited Snap Sneijder Snoop Dogg Snowy Tension Pole soft rock Soiree Records International Solar Fields Solaris Recordings Solarstone Solieb Soliquid Solstice Music Europe Soma Quality Recordings Songbird Sony Music Entertainment soul Soul Temple Entertainment soul:r Souls Of Mischief Sound Of Ceres Soundgarden Sounds From The Ground soundtrack southern rap southern rock space ambient Space Dimension Controller Space Manoeuvres space synth Spacetime Continuum Spaghetti Recordings Spank Rock Special D Specta Ciera speed garage Speedy J SPG Music Spicelab Spielerei Spiritech spoken word Spotify Suggestions Spotted Peccary SPX Digital Squarepusher Squaresoft Stacey Pullen Stanton Warriors Star Trek Stardust Statrax Stay Up Forever Stephanie B Stephen Kroos Steve Angello Steve Brand Steve Lawler Steve Miller Band Steve Porter Steven Rutter Stijn van Cauter Stone Temple Pilots Stonebridge Stormloop Stray Gators Street Fighter Stuart McLean Studio K7 Stylophonic Sub Focus Subharmonic Sublime Sublime Porte Netlabel Subotika Substance Suduaya Sun Station Sunbeam Sunday Best Recordings Supercar Superstition surf rock Sven Väth Swayzak Sweet Trip swing Switch Sylk 130 Symmetry Sync24 Synergy Synkro synth pop synth-pop synthwave System 7 Tactic Records Take Me To The Hospital Tall Paul Tammy Wynette Tangerine Dream Tau Ceti Taylor Tayo tech house tech-house tech-step tech-trance Technical Itch techno technobass Technoboy Tectonic Telefon Tel Aviv Terminal Antwerp Terra Ferma Terry Lee Brown Jr Textere Oris The Angling Loser The Beach Boys The Beatles The Black Dog The Brian Jonestown Massacre The Bug The Chemical Brothers The Circular Ruins The Clash The Council The Cranberries The Crystal Method The Digital Blonde The Dust Brothers The Field The Gentle People The Glimmers The Green Kingdom The Grey Area The Hacker The Herbaliser The Human League The Irresistible Force The KLF The Misted Muppet The Movement The Music Cartel The Null Corporation The Oak Ridge Boys The Offspring The Orb The Police The Prodigy The Sabres Of Paradise The Shamen The Sharp Boys The Sonic Voyagers The Squires The Tea Party The Tragically Hip The Velvet Underground The Wailers The White Stripes The Winterhouse themes Thievery Corporation Third Contact Third World Tholen Thrive Records Tiefschwarz Tiësto Tiga Tiger & Woods Time Life Music Time Warp Timecode Timestalker Tipper Tobias Tocadisco Todd Terje Tom Middleton Tomita Tommy Boy Ton T.B. 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