Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I DID IT! I DID IT! ...and yet, there's still so much to do.

Well.

Guess I should write something here. I mean, this was originally the endpoint, the stretch goal, the final target, the reason for all existence. Okay, maybe not that significant an achievement, but definitely a task I was determined to do to completion, and by José, I actually did it, even if it took far longer than initially intended. To what end, though? What have I learned in listening to every album I own in alphabetical order? Have I gained any greater insight into my music consuming habits, any deeper understanding of my own sense of self for having done this? Or was this all just one big silly diversion for everyone involved, something to wile the months away like a never-ending Let's Play series. Come to think of it, why did I even start this in the first place? Cue the flashback dissolve.

I've mentioned my motivation in doing this was to spice up my listening habits, but what was the ignition that spurred me forward? To my recollection (it's been over seven years now), I'd hit a state of utter apathy with contemporary music. I felt no desire to explore new stuff because all the new stuff I was being told was the best contemporary music had to offer was frightfully dull. The critical vanguards of electronic music may have moved on from 'minimal', but they remained devoted to 'deep and serious' sounds – or had flash-in-pan infatuations with funky novelties like disco edits. Meanwhile, the popular stuff was reaching peak bro, the likes of Guetta and Skrillex dominating the discourse.

If I'd seriously dug around, I'm sure I'd have found items that tickled my ears just fine, but the drive to do so simply wasn't there. I kept glancing back to the past, wondering what I may have missed or overlooked, including what I'd amassed in my own collection to that point. Over the course of nearly twenty years, I'd gathered around 500 albums into my possession, and while I had some favourites, many others had gone neglected in that time. With precious little new inspiring me, I figured then was as good as any point to revisit everything in some orderly fashion.

Writing about it was furthest from my mind, but after a year had passed, I realized there were plenty of notes, ideas and opinions germinating with each item I listened to. Was there much interest in music bloggers anymore though? Everything was moving on to video reviews and podcasting, which seemed like a fun idea if I could find an angle for it. Maybe I could just start writing again, get the creative fires sparking, see where it led me, and worry about the other stuff later. And since I'd just be writing for myself, I wouldn't have to worry about all those niggling formalities 'proper music journalists' do, which made the TranceCritic experience an utter chore towards its end. Take a few creative chances here and there for my own amusement, while waxing philosophical should the inspiration strike me. Mmm, that's the stuff.

Another reason I revisited all my music was the killer combo of record store closures and financial constraints. Even if I wanted to go hunting about for new tunes, my options had substantially dwindled by the year 2011. Yet, I soon found myself gainfully employed, and online stores like Amazon and Bandcamp were providing me with greater access to obscure items than I'd ever had before. As a result my CD collection has nearly tripled in size from when I first started this adventure, a feat I would have found unfathomable back then. No wonder my early estimates of when I'd finish were woefully under-guessed.



Not only did increased purchasing power help fill in a bunch of blanks I'd passed over, but spurred me on to unexpected discoveries of other items along the way. Some I'd never have even stumbled upon if it wasn't from what little 'research' I do for these reviews. All the dark ambient's the most obvious example, but plenty others too (modern ambient techno, ancient Berlin-School krautrock, synthwave ....Oak Ridge Boys). If there's any real takeaway from having devoted so much time to this blog, it's how I'm enjoying that insatiable hunt for music like never before.



Where does that leave me now, though? What's next? My initial plan once I reached The Hacker & Eric Borgo's Zone was to move on to another non-music writing project I'd put on the backburner, but I've devoted nearly six years to this little corner of the interwebs – seems anticlimactic to just up and leave it fallow as is.

Besides, I'm not really done, am I? Even as I ran through this final stretch of CDs, I was still acquiring new music along the way, 80 album's worth (holy cow, how did that happen!?). Plus, there's all those CDs I listened to in the first year that I never wrote reviews for, and it's just wrong to not include some of my all time favourite albums in this blog. My last Banco de Gaia review can't be You Are Here, it must be Big Men Cry! All said, I've currently got at least another 200 reviews I can do, which I'm obviously going to do. It must be done, the OCD compels me.

But I feel I could do more, explore ideas for other features. Bring back 5-song mini-reviews or Spotify Suggestions (senseless or otherwise). Maybe even get a Patreon going for request reviews. Yeah, I know I've got nowhere near the readership to make a living off that service – I'm hilariously bad at self-promotion – but as I may not be so gainfully employed at my regular job in the next couple years (yay restructuring), it's foolish of me not to consider alternative means of income, even if it's little more than side-scratch.

Food for thought anyway. For now, I'm taking a little break from the blog to focus on another project that demands attention. Let me know if any of these ideas are of interest, or if you might have suggestions of your own.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Zuma

Reprise Records: 1975

Sometimes the best way to get out of a depressive funk is to abandon one group of music buddies, reconvene with another group of music buddies, and hang out on the beaches of Malibu getting all up in that mid-'70s bachelor life. Lots of booze, lots of 'rawk', probably some drugs too, though none of that super-heavy shit that had been going around, leading to too many deaths of colleagues. Or maybe a little on the psychedelic bent, Zuma marking the point where Neil Young started singing about ancient Aztec and Incan lore, the sort of stuff one can't help but be inspired by after ingesting a little psilocybin. Me, I just go and listen to every album I own in alphabetical order, but if writing music about Cortez the killer and mythical lady-birds is what does it for you, have at it, guy.

Weird inspirations aside, one of the reasons Zuma came to fruition is Young's old band Crazy Horse had found themselves a new guitarist after the passing of Danny Whitten. It'd only been a few years since then, but in Neil Young terms, that's practically a lifetime, a whole stage of his career cycled through. Insisting he come and check out the dude's chops on the axe (or however you say it), Mr. Young was impressed at how well he could perform both lead and rhythm guitar parts on such classic Crazy Horse collaborations like Cowgirl In The Sand and Down By The River.

That's because this here Frank Sampedro was a huge fan of the group, often jamming away on his own to the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. So much so, in fact, that ol' “Pedro” joked he'd probably played those songs more than Young and Whitten ever had. Feeling that familiar fire that made their earlier works such kinetic monuments to classic rock, The Young & The Restless Horse hit the studio with the same carefree approach as before, cranking out tunes about blue barstools, stupid girls, and other love-lorn chestnuts.

Aside from Cortez The Killer though (sounding kinda' short to my ears at seven-and-a half minutes, since I'm used to the live Weld version), Zuma doesn't have much in the way of classic Young material. Some good, solid rock music, for sure, a few tunes of which are little more than excuses for the band to just go off while bemoaning past relationships (as I said, a total bachelor fest). There's also Danger Bird, the closest thing to a companion piece to Cortez The Killer in its epic sense of scope, though it doesn't reach the seven minute mark, nor has been trotted out for live sessions as often, so it's unsurprising the song goes overlooked in the annals of Young et Cheval de Fou music.

Which is Zuma in a nutshell. The players involved were basically rediscovering their synergy with this outing, and would create greater works together after this.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Hacker & Eric Borgo - Zone (Original TC Review)

Tsuba Records: 2008

(2018 Update:
So The Hacker's kept himself busy, even reconvened with Ms. Herve for another collaborative album, but I can't say the same about Eric Borgo. His Discoggian data dries up shortly after this. The remixers, Ivan Smagghe and Tim Paris, collectively called It's A Fine Line - mostly did their own things independent from one another, but astoundingly reconvened a couple years ago to release a debut album under this project name. Whatever was the hold-up, guys?

As for the tunes, they're, um, there, and, uh, haven't aged well outside the 'minimal' era. So, they're, uh... meh, what else is there to say here?

Hey, did you know, for a while,
this was to be the last item I was going to listen to in this massive undertaking of mine? It's not anymore, but for a while, it was! Boy, sure is swell it's not this anymore. Would have made for a lame, limp note to end it all with.)


IN BRIEF: A fine offering, but not from the name you’d immediately expect.

Let’s cut to the chase. You’ve probably clicked on this review because you saw The Hacker in the title and are wondering what Michel Amato’s been up to since he and Caroline Herve decided to put their famed partnership to the side so he could retreat back into the relative underground. Eh? Oh, you already knew he’s continued to serve up a steady stream of perfectly sleazy singles, hooked back up with Miss Kittin on occasion, and generally maintained his name as one to keep an eye out on, even if his brand of electro-body-techno isn’t quite as popular as it once was and still should be. Damn, but you guys are good!

Ah, so it’s the lesser-known name Eric Borgo that has gotten your curiosity then. His story is quite similar to many in this business: after earning his pay as a DJ for most of the 90s, he managed to gain the attention of Amato and Olivier Raymond (Oxia) at the turn of the decade, such that he’s had the opportunity to release a few singles with them since. Last year he and Oxia had a minor electro-house hit with Another Man, and now it would seem he’s teaming up with The Hacker to see if they can work some music magic together on a new single entitled Zone.

Unfortunately, magic is rather lacking on this effort. Granted, the bassline oozes suitable sleaze, and ominous techno pads add some atmosphere on occasion, but everything else is just far too sparse and uninteresting to make Zone anything greater than an early tech-house set piece. The main hook, such as it is, consists of a tuneless looping plinky riff, harkening to techno’s robotic heritage but is devoid of the necessary craftiness that’ll lift this above the ‘minimal’ glut. And no, playing around with layered echo-and-delay effects does not give it character; such tricks have grown as tired and cliché within techno circles lately as the super-sawwave breakdown did in epic trance. Considering Amato’s name is tied to this track, the charm his productions are known for is surprisingly absent from Zone.

Luckily, the flip offers something more than ‘minimal’ monotony. Ivan Smagghe (former Black Strobe member; Fabric and Suck My Deck contributor; Word Perfect spell-check nightmare) is the larger name behind this remix, and along with Tim Paris has crafted a remix that, although gloomier than the A-side, offers much more personality. Simple choppy rhythms, eerie mangled hooks, and disconcerting atmospheric fills provide a track that’ll turn a tech-house set towards the sinister side of clubbing. And while it may not have much spring, this remix will nonetheless satisfy for those who enjoy inducing a little paranoia into their listening habits.

So a simple little release we have here, folks. The keeper is definitely the remix, but it isn’t enough to earn Zone high marks. As for The Hacker (yes, the guy you really did click this review for), this is something of a stumble for his discography. If he insists on doing collaborations, maybe it’d be best for him to stick with Oxia or Kittin.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2008. © All rights reserved.

Wednesday Campanella - Zipangu

Tsubasa Records: 2015

As I listened to my third Wednesday Campanella album (their first proper LP), I was struck with a curious quandary: just how important are lyrics in my music? I'm not talking about whether I need them or not – obviously a guy who listens to a lot of 'techno' doesn't require much more in the vocal department than some looping sample of downed systems. And that's not to say I'm anti-vocals either. There are plenty of lyricists I vibe on for their metaphors, similes, witty wordplay, fun phonetics, and singing cadence, artists I'd never have enjoyed if I didn't dig on the words they manifest. By the same token though, I don't necessarily need to understand the lyrics either, as I've taken in many an ethnic chant and foreign language with no greater appreciation of them other than they sound good in a their musical context. Heck, there's even a number of English singers out there where I may know the language, but have a difficult time understanding their words (death metal growlers, vocoder robots, Jamaican toasters, Jon Anderson of Yes).

So when listening to the opening track of Syakushain (rebel leader of the Ainu against the Matsumae clan), it just sounds like a charming, peppy traditional throwback tune with woodblocks and KOM_I rap-singing along. I had no idea she was actually doing something of a Japanese nightlife tour (I... think?) until watching the video with translated subtitles, and I found myself enjoying the tune more with that added context. On the other hand, the song Ra (sun god of Egyptian lore) also has an elaborate video with subtitles, but I'm not sure what the song's actually about beyond just a big, anthemic pop song. The subtitles also revealed more English words than I initially picked up, on account its mixed in with equal amounts Japanese, and KOM_I's brisk, accented singing makes it difficult for my stupid anglophone brain to keep up. I know the words, but don't glean any deeper meaning from them.

Thus, I'm generally reduced to enjoying what I can from Wednesday Campanella on 'dumb levels' again. Ooh, Uran-chan, that's got some cool juke production going on for it, and a neat spacey vibe too, which makes sense since I hear Astroboy in there (Uran-chan is 'Astrogirl'). Medusa (oh come on, you know who she is) is a fun j-pop house romp, while nifty guitar licks in Wright Kyoudai (flyboys) almost lend the tune a Japanese-Balearic vibe.

Yet, I also feel producer Kenmochi Hidefumi's trying just a bit too hard in fusing contemporary EDM with traditional Japanese songcraft. Could have done without the trap in Chohakkai (a Saiyuki character?), the mah-ssive, overblown snare crashes of Nishi Tamao (Google's got nothing), and he really, really, really loves abusing the stutter effects throughout – even BT would suggest pulling back some. Still, Zipangu is nothing if not a diverse album, which is more than can be said for most contemporary pop riding dance music's jock. Great videos too.

Friday, March 23, 2018

ZerO One - zerO One

Waveform Records: 1998

I never realized this before, though it makes perfect sense with nearly twenty years (!) of hindsight available. Through the high times and the lows, it seems the two acts that have consistently kept the lights on at Waveform Records HQ is ZerO One and Sounds From The Ground, and now that I've taken in plenty of their offerings, I understand why. Kevin Dooley, he has a similar songcraft sensibility to Misters Elliot Jones and Nick Woolfson, striking that perfect middle-ground of competently made, easy-going, dubby downtempo vibes. Never have I heard anything from them that was bad, boring, or bunk, but seldom do they reach the upper echelons of their genre either. Very, very good, absolutely, some tunes doing that heart melting thing many downtempo acts have subjected the ol' blood pumper to. I can't say I'd ever recommend ZerO One or Sounds From The Ground as an introductory act to this scene though, their roles more like a hearty side-dish complimenting the main course. Buttery mashed potatoes to the beef-steak of Kruder & Dorfmeister and Higher Intelligence Agency. Yet, for as long as they've floated around each other's circles, it's surprising they haven't collaborated at some point. Strange, that.

Anyhow, it all starts somewhere, and for Mr. Dooley, that's with a two-decade old (!!) self-titled debut album. Amazing that the ZerO One brand has kept on keepin' to this day, as listening to this CD in the context of the year 1998, I'm surprised anyone gave it much notice. Ambient techno such as this hadn't been in vogue for at least a half-decade, vanguards of the sound like HIA and Autechre having moved on with their respective careers to other pastures. If you were making super-chill electro-dub, chances were you were adopting contemporary production tricks like glitch effects or retro synths into your arsenal. Not ZerO One though, his stuff simple and refined – no need for fussy gimmicks when your musicianship if perfectly fine as is. And Waveform Records, they like themselves some MOR ambient dub more than anything else. Keeps the label's followers sated while they indulge in leftfield shoegaze rock, or whatever it was that Liquid Zen dude was on about.

Now that I've reached the third paragraph, it's time for the obligatory particulars among the eight tracks that make up zerO One. Waken and Trust have nifty little acid lines playing throughout. Nothing To Fight About and Hell is Cooling Off playfully bounce along, while On The Threshold gets as close to ambient techno as I've ever heard Mr. Dooley go. If you want something straight out of HIA's cookbook, super-chill Mind Over Mind has you covered. And I can't complete this review without tying it back to Sounds From The Grounds somehow, so Seek Not Outside Yourself and I Like That reminds me of that duo, if they'd been brought up in electro's realm instead. Seriously, why haven't these two camps collaborated yet? I'm sure Waveform wouldn't mind in the slightest.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pole Folder - Zero Gold

Bedrock Records: 2005

This has to be one of the most '90s sounding progressive albums I've ever heard. Unfortunately for Pole Folder, Zero Gold came out in 2005, half a decade past when having a top notch '90s progressive album would make serious bank (in that scene, anyway).

For sure this album had its fans and supporters, especially from proponents for progressive purity (I think Progressive-Sounds gave it a 12/10, with a seal of Digweed Approved), but by the mid-'00s, most folks were well past vibing on anything sounding like it came from the Clinton Years. Big beat was dead. Tech step was dead. Happy hardcore was so very, very dead. Instead, newer fresher sounds like liquid funk, electro house, minimal-tech, and whatever it is you want to call Pendulum's style ('Pendulum Jungle'?) was getting the buzz, not to mention a rediscovering of '80s aesthetics after the '90s had disowned it. Progressive house was no different, poppier McProg singles having massive success in the wake of the darker, super-serious 'prog' that came before. By the year 2005, the transition was complete, progressive of days past but a shadow of its former glory, Zero Gold left an album out of time when the kids just wanted to hear another Gabriel & Dresden breakdown. And people wonder why Digweed went 'minimal' after this.

Of course, we're over a decade removed from all that, so the fact Zero Gold was released in 2005 is a moot point. You can throw this album on today and enjoy it for all its '90s-ness, (oh my, Scared To Lose could have been an Erotica-era Madonna track!), maybe even more so since that decade's music has seen some rejuvenation in recent years. Always twenty years, always.

Fancy yourself some of that vintage cinematic trip-hop that made Massive Attack huge stars? Pole Folder's got you well covered, tracks like Abrasion, Waterfalls Of Love, and Faith In Me perfectly custom made for the credit roll of a mid-budget cyberpunk thriller. And speaking of, dear me, does Inner Turmoil ever want to be a Fluke track as heard in The Matrix. Other 'prog' beasts include Salvation On Slavery Sins and London, while Mr. Folder also mixes things up with the broken beats in the spacier Before It All Changes. Elsewhere, in case you absolutely had to have a 'twinkle prog' outing in your 2005 album, Morning Crow does inch around the fringes of that sound.

Like any good '90s prog album, tunes are nicely spaced between the downbeat, lyrical pieces and the club-ready uptempo jams, with enough variety holding your attention throughout. At ten tracks though, Zero Gold feels short, like it's missing a proper coda moment. As the final cut on the album, the energetic Before It All Changes leaves you wanting, suggesting there's more to come after, even if it's just an ambient outro. Maybe that hanging feeling was intended to lead into a sophomore album, but it never happened, Zero Gold remaining Pole Folder's lone LP effort (so sayeth Lord Discogs).

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta

A&M Records: 1980/2003

Probably the easiest collection of music from The Police I got into as a kid, though the larger themes obviously went well over my head. I had no idea Sting was singing about the degradation of our communication skills when infatuation overwhelms us, I just liked singing “de do do do, de da da da.” A peppy tune about a bird lost in a mine is a whole 'lotta fun, never mind having no clue what the simile's about. And isn't it funny how some sweaty General is fascinated by a gorilla girl in Bombs Away? Or Man In A Suitcase, which is clearly about a tiny man who literally lives in a suitcase? Haha, it's the sort of silly stuff Raffi might do a song about. Still, that first song, Don't Stand So Close To Me, seems so serious considering it's about cooties and all that – the chorus is just as catchy as the rest of 'em on though.

The fact that Zenyatta Mondatta ended up with so many fun, simple songs wasn't by conscious choice by Sting, Stewart, and Andy. After a rigorous tour in support of Regatta de Blanc, they reconvened for some studio time, but were right out the door for more touring a month later. Their third album was rather rushed as a result, the band mostly sticking to the reggae and punk fusion they'd grown incredibly comfortable and adept at performing. They were definitely itching to break out of that mould though, little hints and nuggets of their impending political-heavy, New Wave turn lurking here and there.

Take Driven To Tears, a sober reflection of the strife of poverty-stricken people, coupled with a lightly uplifting turnaround with When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around. For the longest time, I thought these were the same song, so perfectly thematically paired as they are. Meanwhile, songs like Voices Inside My Head, Shadows In The Rain, Behind My Camel, and The Other Way Of Stopping find the band indulging in looser song-writing, some of which contain no lyrics at all, or input from other members either. Funny enough, Behind My Camel, the lone Andy Summers tune on here, was so hated upon by Sting that he refused to play bass for it, leaving it to Andy. It went on to win a Grammy for Instrumental Rock a couple years later, so what does Sting know.

And yes, the shift into broader political themes definitely announces The Police have arrived in The '80s. The Afghanistan War (“oh, 'guerrilla girl'”, Teenage Sykonee said), increased pressures to fit in a rapidly consumerist society... big issues were afoot, and damn if Sting & Co. weren't gonna' use their star platform to start telling their audience about them. Er, once they have the time to properly do it, that is, on an album that's not as rushed as Zenyatta Mondatta. For now, have a sampling with the familiar, spirited 'cod reggae'.

Various - Zentertainment 2004

Ninja Tune: 2004

My early years in the The Big City was tough, financial frugality forcing me to be ultra-picky in what new music I'd buy for myself. After Shadow Records folded though, where could I find a quick fix of jazzy, downtempo urban vibes on a poor student's income? Hello, Ninja Tune, what have you here? A low-budget sampler called Zentertainment 2004. I'd kinda' forgotten about the Ninja folk at that point (despite the 3CD box set Xen Cuts sitting on every store shelf, always), so this looked as handy a reintroduction to their tunes as any.

And the CD opens with exactly the right stuff I was expecting, Skalpel's 1958 the sort of broken-beat, jazzdance, cut'n'paste track one can't help but associate with the label that Coldcut built. Yeah, there were other prominent prints that dabbled in the sound, but they had no Cinematic Orchestra or Hexstatic on their roster. Speaking of, Hexstatic's super-funky Chase Me comes next, about as vintage of Ninja Tune funk as you can get. In fact, at the time I heard it, I couldn't help but get a nagging sense of the label not evolving much since the '90s. I didn't mind it, but surely there'd been a few new sounds they could be promoting in the year 2004 too. What even was going down in London undergrounds around that time anyway?

Ah, here's a new cat, some dude by the name of Diplo. His Don't Fall is kinda' different from what I normally expected of Ninja Tune, a broken-beat that's got a prominent half-step shuffle going for it. All those cut-up funk and jazz samples though, doesn't sound too different from Amon Tobin's efforts. Maybe if he focuses more on his rhythms, and doesn't rely so much on emulating what Ninja Tune alum have done, this Diplo chap might find himself a healthy career.

Like that Sixtoo guy, at the end of the CD. Holy cow, his Boxcutter Emporium is over ten minutes of various vibes, an utterly epic outing of trip-hop, illbient, and the sort of instrumentals RZA would get weak in the knees over. And what's with that weird mid-section, with the half-step rhythms and skitchy bassline that's like a buzzing sawblade cutting through the beats? Pretty dope, is what, definitely what I envisioned getting hyped in the London underground. And the dude's Canadian too? Mark my words, us Canucks will be defining this weird sound in the future years, believe you me!

A few familiar Ninja Tune names round out Zentertainment 2004 (Jaga Jazzist, Wagon Christ, Blockhead, cLOUDDEAD), plus the dancehall/grime scene gets a look-in too (Lotek HiFi's Ram Dancehall, Infinite Livez' Worcestershire Sauce). Yep, that's about as tidy a sum-up of Ninja Tune in the year 2004 as you're gonna' get. Still, none of this is exclusive to this CD, so unless you find it dirt cheap in the pawn shops or you're a Ninja completist, there isn't much reason to get Zentertainment 2004 fourteen years on.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Flowjob - Zentertainment (Original TC Review)

Iboga Records: 2008

(2018 Update:
Oh man, while re-listening to this album, I came up with the perfect analogy to describe it. Get ready for this, it'll blow your mind. So, like, you know how cars have, like, five gears, with the first being the slowest, and the fifth being the fastest? Flowjob's debut album,
Support Normality, was often hitting that peak of fourth gear, but would have been super-boss if it had a track or two that hit the fifth. Zentertainment, on the other hand, seems stuck in second gear for most of its runtime, occasionally squeaking into third, but seldom with much lasting success. Isn't that such an awesome analogy? What do you mean a George Harrison quote's coming to mind?

After this album, Mads Tinggaard left the group, but Joakim Hjørne's carried on the Flowjob banner to this day, even releasing an album in 2016. I browsed some of his recent material, and it sounds decent enough for contemporary prog-psy, but not much distinctive compared to most other stuff out there, missing that super-infectious groove these early efforts provided. May have to dig further to find out whether it disappeared after Mads' departure, or if it was a gradual thing.)



IN BRIEF: Sophomore stumble.

Strong debuts are common in the rock music industry. Whether thanks to initial innocence, talented hunger, or a nurtured push, such musicians often bring vital enthusiasm to their freshman efforts. Following that up with a solid second effort tends to be far more difficult, though, for a number of reasons that needn’t be brought up at this point; anyone with a passing familiarity with the music business would know them anyway. However, because dance music is a market dominated more by the single than the album, the dreaded Sophomore Slump occurs far less often. Heck, despite dozens of EPs, some producers don’t even get around to releasing a full-length. In this regard, the psy branch of EDM probably has the most in common with rock counterparts, as it is quite possibly the only large scene within dance culture that is primarily dominated by LPs.

As such, like rockers, many psy acts fall prey to second-album stumbles. Where it seems there’s agreeable debut albums from countless names monthly, strong follow-ups are increasingly rare. It’s as though all their great ideas are used up in one shot, and instead of easing through the in-between with singles, they rush out with a second album that sounds like a bunch of B-sides to the first.

And does Flowjob’s new album Zentertainment succumb to these pratfalls? Come-come now, surely you’ve learned how these introductory paragraphs go? Fortunately for the Denmark duo, it is only marginally so.

For those just tuning in to the Flowjob sound, Misters Hjorne and Tinggaard made an immediate impact with their 2006 debut album Support Normality on the burgeoning prog-psy label Iboga. I've already covered that release, but in case you’re not up for reading one of our older, rather clumsily-written reviews (we were still new at it, honest!), here’s the abridged version: infectiously groovy, wonderfully vibey, free-flowing prog that flirted between house and trance throughout, with very little actual psy influences considering the label it appeared on. Although some of the tracks on that album could have used more energetic climaxes, Flowjob’s sound was still highly enjoyable. Two years on now, where do we find the Denmark duo?

A surface scan reveals them to be cruising along right where they left off. Flowjob’s distinct neo-Tokyo electro-coo’ sound is all over Zentertainment, so if you come in looking for more of that, you’re in for a treat. And on the rhythmic end, they’re just as infectious as ever. You could potentially ignore a track for most of its duration, but once something grabs your attention, it hooks you in and you’re locked in for the ride. A welcome addition to their production are craftier basslines that are unafraid to leap off the loop-rails. If things are sounding fine and dandy, though, then what’s the problem I hinted at above?

Frankly, what’s missing from Zentertainment is a sense of thrill. I really don’t want to compare albums because even if it is not the case I have to assume the reader is coming into this one cold; however, when a follow-up lacks the same energy a debut has, comparisons are inevitably made. Flowjob has scaled back their music such that it comes off quaint and pleasant now, which of itself is fine for casual moments or warm-up periods at parties. But when you hear potential for more lurking beneath you can’t help but come away with lingering thoughts of “what if...” This was what impeded Support Normality from reaching some truly exhilarating highs, and now that Zentertainment finds Flowjob in an even mellower mood, their music comes off very subdued. The first half of this album does maintain a decent sense of flow, though. It’s all pleasant sounding with spacey pads, catchy (if overused) vocal samples, and undeniably groovy rhythms.

Once the lovely trance vibes of Don’t Believe In Mirrors ends, though, chances are you’ll be wanting Zentertainment to either ratchet-up the energy or offer something new. Flowjob provides the latter; unfortunately, it seriously drops the album into a kind of middling variation of their sound with lower BPMs and odd hooks. There are moments that’ll still grab your attention but unlike prior work, it never seems to go anywhere. It sounds as though the duo, like so many sophomore efforts, are trying to experiment in areas where they don’t have quite the musical fortitude to make work, all the while their strengths are sorely hindered in the process. And unfortunately, it ends the album on a rather limp note.

A bad album, then? No, not really. For the most part, it is still enjoyable, and if anything Zentertainment is charming enough for chiller moments. If you missed out on Flowjob’s debut, however, this one probably won’t do much for you.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2008. © All rights reserved.

Mick Chillage - Zen Diagrams

...txt: 2015/2016

Oh look, another ambient/Berlin-School album featuring four lo-o-o-ong tracks. Makes sense, right, doing one from the new school, then going way back to the old school, and now back to the new school again. If not for the alphabetical stipulation, I'm sure y'all would expect Yes' Tales Of Topographic Oceans next. That would be followed by something from, say, Lingua Lustra (he's got a four track LP in his discography, right?), then a Klaus Schulze or Popol Vuh outing (kinda' missing those guys thus far), and for the sake of pattern-breaking, a '90s Fax+ outing as a capper. Thus would conclude my “Experimental Ambient Albums With Four Really, Really Long Tracks” theme week. But I only do theme weeks when they coincidentally align with a large of releases having the same word as a title. On that note, how much are y'all looking forward to a whole month of Ambient... albums, eh? Kidding, kidding! (...or am I?)

I've taken in a fair bit of Mick Chillage's music now, and I can't claim it's all stuck with me. Saudade, that's easy, what with the roof of icicles instantly reminding me that's one cold, chilly album. Paths and (M)odes, though, are a little more sketchy. I do remember a super-long composition on Paths, and (M)odes being rather minimalist compared to his other works, but beyond the usual pleasant, cool, spacey vibe Mick's music often parlays, particulars escape me off hand.

I was initially worried that Zen Diagrams was gonna' be another case of that, especially since it only has four tracks on it, each simply titled Zen Diagrams 1-4. It's about as faceless as ambient can go without going for SAW2 levels of non-naming. Three of the four pieces hover between fifteen and twenty minutes, the remaining one inching near the half-hour mark. The CD versions are shorter compared to the original digital ones, a result of needing to edit things to fit CD length. If you just go with a download though, or happened to have gotten these tracks off the ...txt Nagual memory stick compilation, you can enjoy an additional three and a half minutes of meandering ambient drones!

I riff on 'meandering ambient drone', but Mick's usually pretty good at it, and Zen Diagrams features some lovely pieces of sonic wallpaper and skydome sounds throughout. He's always been effective at creating space, and here's no exception, Part 1 vast and roomy with its synths, subtle melodies distant but never out of range. Part 2 goes as droney as ambient typically does, but do I ever want to lay back at the planetarium as it plays too. Part 3 (aka: the Big Track) is in no hurry to get anywhere, quite content in taking in the scenery as it comes, even if it's a rather frigid landscape in these nocturnal alpine climes. Part 4 indulges in less calming moods, even getting rather twitchy at parts, but I suppose you needed something off-kilter to break any monotony this album may have.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Tangerine Dream - Zeit

Ohr/Esoteric Reactive: 1972/2011

Probably not the most influential or important album in Tangerine Dream's discography, but certainly a very big step in the development of their sound. After a couple LPs pushing the fringes of psychedelic rock music, Edgar Froese and Christopher Franke found the traditional instruments of the genre – guitar and drums – getting in the way of their experimental, freeform ideas. Out they went, making room for more synths, including a new-fangled sampler called the Mellotron (aka: that keyboard that could emulate orchestral strings and choirs, much to the chagrin of the Musician's Union). They also brought in a new organist in Peter Baumann, solidifying the Tangerine Trio that would go on to make much of their definitive '70s work. And finally, quite enamoured with what abstractionists could coerce out of these cumbersome keyboards, the band jettisoned almost any semblance of melody or traditional musical structure, creating four near-twenty minute compositions of minimalist sounds and alien harmonies. Either that, or those archaic analogue units took a fair bit of time to figure out, so create conceptual art kosmikmusiche until you do.

Naturally, this left Zeit a somewhat controversial album upon its release, especially when stuffy rock music journalists from the UK couldn't make much sense of it. Sure, they'd embraced psychedelic bands like Pink Floyd and Yes, but at least they were British. These Germans though, with their weirdness and mainland Europeaness, probably just didn't get rock music the way the lads of England did. Let them krauts have their krautrock. Of course, the rock world would soon turn on prog-rockers for similar artistic excesses, but by then Tangerine Dream were well into defining a new kraft of Berlin school.

Still, it's undeniable Zeit's a bit much to take in if you don't know what you're getting in for. Even among the group's vast catalogue, it's an album that stands in stark contrast to everything else, an admitted dive into minimalism they felt was a creative dead-end. For sure the players involved are proud of the work, but once they got the handle on their new studio toys, it wasn't long before things like melody and structure came back.

That said, I cannot deny there's something weirdly captivating in Zeit, the sort of other-worldly vibe that makes you feel like you're riding shotgun with Dave Bowman to the eighth dimension. The opening Movement (yes, we're going that pretentious) features discordant cellos settling you into an uneasy space before calmer pastures emerge. Also featured is the musical styling of Florian Fricke and his big modular Moog, the only one of its kind in Germany at the time. With these extra components, Birth Of Liquid Plejades is probably the most dynamic of the four Zeit Movements, the remaining three (Nebulous Dawn, Origin Of Supernatural Probabilities, Zeit) extremely quiet, meandering, and minimalist. It all makes better sense as score work, which some must have noticed as Tangerine Dream would get tapped to do soundtracks in such legendary films like Sorcerer and Legend.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Plank & Ishq - Zeal Monachorum

...txt: 2017

Not content to pair up with Ishq with one alias, Lee Norris dragged his Nacht Plank pseudonym in for a little collaborative work too. That may seem either redundant or overkill, but the Ishqamatics stuff, that had a very specific sound, a 'bound' sound, if you will. Misters Norris and Hillier though, they have other musical explorations in mind, stuff that isn't so tied to that project's ambient techno leanings. They have all this vintage analogue gear at their disposal, see, equipment they can jam away for hours on end in freeform music making as the OG krautrockers like Tangerine Dream and Cluster did. And Lee, he already had a project name for such craftsmanship, that being Nacht Plank. Ishq though, he's still just same ol' Ishq.

Thus a number of albums resulted in their sessions. First were three volumes titled Crows An Wra, featuring tracks averaging between ten and twenty minutes in length, one even breaking the half-hour mark. I haven't listened to any of them, because even that seems a bit much sonic noodling and musical doodling than I'm usually willing to take in from these two. But hey, if you're a huge fan of either Nacht Plank or Ishq, have at 'em.

Me, I'll take a sampling for now, in this follow-up album of Zeal Monachorum. It features four tracks, the opener lasting over twenty-four minutes long, the rest hovering around the sixteen minute mark. It honestly doesn't come across that way though, more like a disconnected assemblage of experimental sounds, bleepy passages, oscillating synths, and all manner of eggheaded ideas coming and going. If they'd broken everything up into individual tracks, however, you'd be looking at around a dozen pieces of conceptual art-music, some of which you might skip if given the option. Plank & Ishq ain't having any of your picky-nicky notions of music consumption though. You're gonna' take all their meandering audible activities, from the broken snippets of dialog, to the chirping electronics, to the soothing pad drone, to the languid bell tones, to the wobbly Moog – and that's all just in Church Of The Cross Modulation! Okay, not the dialog bits, those are in other tracks.

I suppose there are loose themes tying each track together. Zeal Monachorum Moonships mostly has sci-fi modulating sounds, every so often broken up by dubby, flowy synth-pad passages – it's like Plank and Ishq are taking turns with the assorted gear. Oxenham Space Locator maintains the Berlin-School modulating fun for much of its duration, save a bleep-ambient coda towards the end. Devonschire Oscillations treads closest to something like ambient techno, though the added guitar-synth tones keeping things on that '70s vibe.

Zeal Monachorum does have nifty portions throughout, but like the krautrock Plank & Ishq are drawing influence from, demands your undivided attention to get much out of it. Fortunately, you'll get plenty opportunities to do so, as the two have launched a new label exclusively exploring such music, called Zeit. That word sounds familiar, somehow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hide And Sequence - You Should Have Destroyed

Werkstatt Recordings: 2015

I want to see this movie. That is what Hide And Sequence really wants to make, right? The artwork for this remix EP is far too lush for any ol' collection of alternate takes. His other releases suggest a narrative of sorts, the usual cyberpunk tale of androids coming to grips with their humanity or overthrowing their oppressive existence (y'know, that ol' chestnut), but, mang', just look at that art! Even without hearing a single synth note or space pad or vocoder lyric, you have an entire six book epic worked out in your head, don't you. Sure, synthwave is replete with such iconography, but something about this one pushes things to another level, beyond what's required to grab your attention (ie: '80s cars, neon colours, sci-fi spaceships). There's a saga to be told by this lone figure in a digital wasteland, and damn don't I want to discover it.

Lord Discogs doesn't have much information regarding Hide And Sequence, this EP his lone entry, plus a few, scattered compilation contributions. It's kinda' maddening just how behind the ball The Lord That Knows All is when it comes to synthwave releases. Like, I get it, it's a scene that's overflowing with amateurs, one-offs and bedroom producers self-releasing their stuff through Soundcloud and Bandcamp. It's difficult keeping up with it all, not to mention has more of a younger following compared to the median age of Discoggian contributors – this scene would rather chronicle their music collecting through outlets like Reddit rather than a record database. Maybe it'll all find its way to Discogs too, but Yet Another Synthwave Track doesn't seem to have as much entry priority as all those Detroit techno white labels.

Anyhow, there's more info over at Hide And Sequence's Bandcamp page, so here's some particulars. The project is helmed by Australian Jason Taylor, and first emerged in 2013 with a free mini-album called The Fall. He then released a longer album with Werkstatt Recordings called Resurrection, followed by this remix EP You Should Have Destroyed. He's since released a few more items, moving closer to the realms of film scores than straight-up synth pop. Ooh, nifty t-shirts too!

Two new tracks appear on this EP, the titular opener which does the Carpenter-ode thing, while No Place On Earth has a foreboding air about it. These remixes, though, hot damn! Tundra turns My Darkest Fear into a gut-wrenching futurepop New Beat thing. Hexamoten reworks Resurrection into a menacing, electro-gothic outing (are those Blaster Beam effects on the lyrics? Sure sounds like 'em), while Syntax coerces the same tune into a subtle, poppier New Beat vibe. Meanwhile, even Werkstatt boss Toxic Razor couldn't help but add his touch to one of HAS' tunes, his Beatbox Machinery rub on Perfect Lie making for a chipper synth-pop outing. Nicely adds some levity to all the futurepop melodrama in these lyrics. Yet, even those, I find quite lovely, especially the digitized words in Resurrection. Movie version of these songs, now!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Various - Frankie Bones: You Know My Name

Moonshine Music: 2000

Yeah, I know your name. He knows his name. Odds are super-high that even you, dear reader reading this, know his name. I mean, you better, considering I just did a review of another mix CD of his a month ago. Still, there are some who don't know his name, even with it right on the cover.

When this CD dropped, I was working at a music shop with free range to order whatever I felt we needed. Moonshine Music were easy items to get, which I'd let sit for a few weeks before nabbing them for myself. You Know My Name hung around for a while, few giving it much attention, but a pair of teen girls were browsing the store, noticed the CD with Frankie's smug Brooklyn mug looking back at them, to which they said, “Like, as if we'd know his name.” Kids those days, I swear.

You Know My Name was to be Frankie Bones' proper break-out into the lucrative field of DJ mix CDs. For sure he'd been releasing them for a half-decade by the year 2000, though most remained in underground obscurity. United DJs Of America was probably his biggest national exposure in the CD market, and even that set was in service of a running series, forced to rub shoulders with other DJ talents. He had a couple other runs on Brooklyn-based X-Sight Records (Factory 101, Computer Controlled), but Moonshine Music would give him his highest profile commercial set yet, with many more sure to follow as with such previous techno luminaries like Carl Cox, and, um, DJ John Kelley? DJ Brian? ...DJ Micro? Y'know, Moonshine was actually kinda' hurtin' for proper techno mixes over the years. They needed Bones' brand of bosh more than ever!

And he gives them exactly that. After a little skit of a girl arriving at an underground party (I love it when Bones opens his CDs like that), he drops a recognizable anthem in Mario Piu's Communication (sans cheese-ball phone samples), then it's off to the races. Strictly 4am bangin' faceless techno bollocks, served in Frankie's uncompromising Brooklyn style (I've written that phrase before, haven't I...).

In fact, it's almost too uncompromising, music that's all about the relentless assault, things like hooks or melody an afterthought. There's sections that'll get your attention, like the weird noises of Black Lung's Gizmo, abrasive voices in Terrence Fixmer's Electrostatic, red alert sirens of D-Factor's Barana, and whatever phrase is getting looped in any of Bones' own cuts. I can't say much of it sticks with me after though. Frankie's mixing is quick, letting tracks play out a few loops for a couple minutes before moving on. Get in, get out, Get The Fuck Up, as the Bones tune says. Good fun while in the dingy warehouse district in the wee hours of the night, but kinda' monotonous while sitting at home sipping tea.

After this, Bones retreated from the mix CD market. Guess the Moonshine experience soured him on that scene.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Tiga - You Gonna Want Me (Remixes) (Tocadisco + Van She)

Different: 2007

I have absolutely no idea why this exists in my music collection. Okay, obviously I got myself an MP3 rip of it, so that's why it 'exists in my music collection', but moving beyond the pedantic observation, I'm struggling to remember the reason I got it in the first place. Most likely it was intended for a TranceCritic review, as those were the only times I'd get singles between 2005-2009, but why this? I suppose we were seriously lacking Tiga material, especially after missing out on Sexor the year prior, so maybe while spotting this among the new monthly releases at Juno Records, I put in a request from our music-nabbing guy for a 'copy'. Why not just do Sexor though? No, wait, that's an easy answer, the unfortunate necessity for proper music journalism only ever focusing on the newest music, never backtracking unless via re-issues or gimmick entries. I hate that about proper music journalism.

In a way, this version of You Gonna Want Me was a backtrack of sorts too. The original EP came out pre-Sexor, one of that album's lead singles. It did fine, with remixes from Isolée and Jesper Dahlbäck, but didn't hit quite the same high as Pleasure From The Bass or (Far From) Home. Folks mostly forgot about there being a single for this tune, except for one chap, a Roman Böer de Garcez, more famously known as Tocadisco. You definitely remember him.

After breaking out with his remix of The Egg's Walking Away, Tocadisco became one of the hottest electro-house remixers throughout the mid-'00s, perhaps only rivalled by Stuart Price. Mylo came calling. Deep Dish came calling. New Order came calling. Todd Terry came calling. Even ATB came calling, by which point Tocadisco didn't give a rat's ass anymore (so sayeth the cheeky remix title). However, he still found it within his heart of hearts to give Tiga's You Gonna Want Me his own special touch, two years after the single first dropped.

Tocadisco's remix does what a Tocadisco remix typically does. Thumping heavy beat, big build with the chorus looping, and a chunky, farty riff replete with stutters and white noise wash. You've heard this sort of track tons of times, but then he did help set the template. The Van She Mix is more interesting, getting on that disco punk, thrashy Ed Banger sound. Dear Lord though, do they ever milk that second build for ludicrous lengths. In fact, the second half of it is just one long build, with a pitter of a release lasting a couple bars after. Probably a fun track to DJ with, but at least the Tocadisco Remix actually delivers on its promise of a big dumb electro drop.

Think that's why I skipped doing a TC review on this – there's just not much worth talking here. Not when such important items like One + One, Something To Live For, Elements Of Life and History Of Hardstyle 4 were on my plate.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Banco de Gaia - You Are Here

Six Degrees Records: 2004

You Are Here is Banco de Gaia's worst album.

I was tempted to just leave it there, move on, and eat up self-imposed word count with discussions of puppies, or kittens, or puptens, or kitpies (surely merging all that adorableness will result in something uber-adorable!). Besides, while it's fun to tear into utter crap EDM or banal trance bollocks now and then, it's lame getting hyper-critical like some edgelord YouTuber at my age, especially if it's with regard to an artist I actually like. But then I got wondering, why do I dislike You Are Here so much? While I enjoy most of Toby Marks' music, even I cannot deny he's thrown up a few dud tracks along the way, stuff that doesn't move my mojo in favour of his mint material. This album though, so much of it just feels regrettably off to my ears, such that I need to unpack this, understand why I rank it so low in Banco's discography.

Where to begin? How about the thing that's immediately noticeable and casts a shiny, slick, sucky sheen on everything: the mixdown. You know how there's a difference between a rock album from the '70s, and one from the '80s, in that the latter often sounds flatter and stripped of analogue warmth? That's what it's like listening to You Are Here compared to every other Banco album. Dear Lord, but does it ever sound digitally flat to me, as though the soul of Marks' music is completely absent. So many bass textures are DOA (glaringly so on Waking Up In Waco and Not In My Name), that it makes sitting through them a cringing chore. This, from a musician who can have you hanging on every second in a half-hour-plus excursion through Kincajou! Even Marks must have realized this digital mastering wasn't working for him, as he went back to an analogue mixdown in his follow-up Farewell Ferengistan, with much improved results.

That leads me to my second point: I can never remember how the back-end of this album goes. After the radical tonal shifts between the twelve-minutes long, slow blues-jazz croon of Gray Over Gray, into the cheeky pop-house romp of Tongue In Chic, the remaining three tracks of You Are Here always and utterly evaporate from memory, sometimes even right after they've played. This is the only Banco album where that happens to me! No matter their quality, every tune on every other album sticks in my brain meat, but Not In My Name, We Are Here, and Still Life? Fifteen years on, and still nada despite many attempts.

Then there's the heavy-handed political sloganeering (even for a Banco album), the genre dalliances that never led to future explorations, and that initial nagging dread that, after 10 Years, Banco de Gaia might have nothing left in the creative tank. Thankfully, You Are Here proved more an aberration than a trend, so I'll end on a positive note: Zeus No Like Techno remains good stupid fun.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Cryo Chamber Collaboration - Yog-Sothoth

Cryo Chamber: 2017

Some time ago, I quipped that, in their relentless rate of output, Cryo Chamber would eventually release an album for every letter of the alphabet. As yet untapped, I even suggested 'Y' being a likely contender in their near future, perhaps for one of their massive collaborative projects - there had to be some Old World denizen with a name starting with the letter they could draw inspiration from. Indeed there is! Not that I knew it existed, mind you, my knowledge of Lovecraftian lore generally gleaned from pop culture references (you know you got it made when South Park is riffing on you). Still, when the label announced the release for Yog-Sothoth, you bet I double-taked.

This... had to be sheer coincidence. Like, the artists involved must have been working on the project well before I joked about such an occurrence going down, right? But, what if it's not? What if, somehow, someway, I influenced these men and women into taking this creative path? How can that even be possible? Do my words transcend space-time, existing outside our universe to shape the trackless river of our plane of reality? Might a future-Me have used my time machine to whisper intents upon unsuspecting composers? What else might I do with this awesome and terrible power? What must I do...?

*ahem*

I skipped out on the last Cryo Chamber Collaboration because, at 3 CDs long, Nyarlathotep came off overstuffed for what I'm willing to take in these concept projects. Yog-Sothoth pares things back to a tidy two discs, but includes a nifty booklet with artwork, quotes, and scriptures within a hard-cover case – makes you feel like you're opening an ancient tome. Sixeteen of the twenty artists involved I've covered in some capacity, so here's a list of those that are new to my eyes: Gydja, Kristoffer Oustad, Darkrad, and Neizvestija. They range from Norway to New Zealand, truly encompassing what it means to do collaborative work in a globally flat digi-space.

Yog-Sothoth itself is regarded as an even Older One than that attention whore Cthulhu, existing outside our universe as an omnipresent gatekeeper between realms (insert whatever 'gatekeeper' meme you wish). The music here generally reflects that, in that each artist doesn't so much lead you on a continuous journey, but offers glimpses between different moods, tones, locales, and vistas. Though I'm hardly versed enough in each musician's style to tell who's piece is currently performing and when, there are noticeable transitions throughout each hour-long composition. Dark and foreboding passages will lead into droning soundscapes with field recordings, sometimes followed upon by minimalist melancholic melodies, and so on. Some transitions of tone are so apparent, Yog-Sothoth honestly at times comes off more like a compilation or continuous mix of individual tracks rather than a singular piece of varying elements. Which solicits the question of, on a conceptual level, where does the former end and the latter begin? Depends how many people are involved in the ongoing creative process, I suppose.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Field - Yesterday And Today (Original TC Review)

Kompakt: 2009

(2018 Update:
Haha, look at 2009 Sykonee, throwing around the word 'trance' so casually in this review. Yeah, The Field's music is far more trancey than most things in the realm of tech-
haus, but that's always been part of Kompakt's manifesto anyway. The pseudo-genre 'neo-trance', neighboring genres taking on trance elements, is a better descriptor, or if you want to be really daft, 'shoegaze techno' (there's a lot of daft folks at Discogs, by the by). Also, where was I going with that Underworld comparison? Sure, Willner's rub of Sasha's Mongoose on The EmFire Collection fit the bill, but not so much here.

It's weird to remember that, at one point, The Field and Burial were held in the same regard among music critics. The proof is in Metacritic's own aggregation,
From Here We Go Sublime and Untrue both still holding top honors for "Best Of 2007" music, even above Radiohead's In Rainbows! However, one is constantly referenced with reverence, even getting documentaries made about it a decade on, while the other does not. I guess folks felt The Field's brand of music-making was too singular for a plethora of copycats to emerge from it, leaving Mr. Willner to carry on doing his thing to this day with little fanfare anymore. So it goes for many techno heroes of the '00s.)


IN BRIEF: Evolution.

Axel Willner had quite a thankless task in replicating the critical good-will of his debut LP From Here We Go Sublime, so it’s just as well he hasn’t bothered to try. His sophomore effort is carrying on as usual, as though that top spot at MetaCritic’s “Best Of 2007” doesn’t exist. And why should he care? Yes, the album was quite good, but reading several of the reviews, you’d think this was the first time the rock journals had heard trance music. Then again, it wouldn’t shock me if it actually was the first time many of them had heard trance music, at least of the non-epic variety. Surprising such folks who’d forgotten that electronic dance music could actually contain endlessly looping lovely melodies doesn’t seem that hard in this age of electro-glitch (has it really been so long since Boards Of Canada released Music Has The Right To Children?).

So obviously much of that initial love affair has subsided, and the buzz on Yesterday And Today hasn’t been anywhere near as enthusiastic. Oh, it’s received good scores - as it will here - but now that Willner’s tricks are familiar, the press seems far more subdued in its praise. It’s a shame, then, that Willner has managed to bring some fresh wrinkles to The Field that will go relatively unnoticed.

Touring with just a laptop for his ‘live’ shows must have felt highly constricting to ol’ Axel, as he’s brought in a few extra musicians to the studio to liven up the proceedings this time out. Drumming journeyman John Stanier is the most notable addition, along with one Dan Enqvist, whom brings an assortment of backing instruments to the fray (bass, guitar, piano, vibraphone). A few more rounds out the cast and what we’re given is a richly textured sound that tickles your ears at several frequencies while maintaining that loopy Field structure.

Oh, still not sure of what The Field even sounds like? Think Emerson-era Underworld, though without Karl Hyde’s nonsensical lyrics. The titular track on here alone is very much in the Underworld-vein, with an infectiously groovy rhythm and spacey synth work sucking you into a lengthy trance-trip. The 90s comparisons don’t end there, however, as final track Sequenced is very much like early ambient dub as championed by The Orb, though lacking Dr. Patterson’s odd sense of stoner-humor. Meanwhile, The More That I Do could easily draw Loop Guru similarities, with its tribal stomp and repetitive chant.

These are far from nostalgic love-ins or rehashes, mind, but if you’ve ever paid attention to EDM from the 90s, Willner’s tunes will bring back such memories of the era when similar material was getting massive play from all the British DJs. About the only track here that escapes a 90s comparison is Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime, primarily because it’s a cover of an early 80s song from synth-pop act The Korgis; granted, it’s given a fine contemporary spin to fit within Willner’s sonic palette.

Somewhat annoyingly, and not just because it makes this album review shorter than most, Yesterday And Today isn’t terribly long. Sure, the six tracks offered are worth your pennies, and it certainly doesn’t feel like it ends all too soon, but when the musical ideas are purposefully limited, it’d have been nice of Willner to indulge us a little more. There’s almost a care-free jazz-fusion jam-band approach to these: most of them just start and keep going from beginning to end, improvising around the basic melodies along the way.

Yesterday may not be as initially, er, sublime as Willner’s debut, but it is a worthy follow-up. By adding extra musicians to The Field, he’s made his sound more organic and nuanced. Here’s looking forward to album number three.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic, 2009. © All rights reserved.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Yes - Yessongs

Atlantic: 1973

For some – okay, many - this is Peak Yes, a collection of live recordings cribbing tunes from their best Phase 1 albums with most of the classic line-up intact. After this, they'd release Tales From Topographic Oceans, where casual folks finally had just about enough of prog-rock's highfalutin sense of self, and the personnel changes would come often. Heck, they started right in the middle of these tours, original drummer Bill Bruford replaced by Alan White on the fly. Considering ol' Alan's stuck with the band longer than anyone not named Chris Squire though, shouldn't he be considered the official Yes drummer over Bill?

Also, how crazy must that have been for Mr. White to get thrown into the band's overtly complex compositions with almost no prep? He was already an experienced drummer with The Alan Price Set and The Plastic Ono Band, so he adapted fine, but still. Just as well the lone drum solo in this 3LP set is one of the few Bruford recordings, towards the tail-end of Perpetual Change. Don't worry, Alan, you'll get many opportunities to shine in the ensuing decade.

Naturally, a pretentious rock band has to open their pretentious concerts with nothing less than a pretentious excerpt from Igor Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (Tomita must have noticed), but it does serve a wicked lead-in for Siberian Khatru. Following that, all the Yes classics show up: Heart Of The Sunrise, Roundabout, Close To The Edge, Yours Is No Disgrace, And You And I, plus plenty of solo showcases along the way. Can't deny the synth-dork in me gets all atwitter over hearing Rick Wakeman doing his thing on various keyboards in Excerpts From “The Six Wives Of Henry VIII”, and Chris has plenty of funky bass jams on a lengthier rendition of The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus). Plus how can you deny all that awesome shredding from Steve Howe! So much shredding from Steve Howe, just so much...

As for actual differences between these live and studio versions, everything on Yessongs feels looser. Sometimes it can throw you off, especially if you're used to hearing the perfectly polished studio takes, but once the band locks into their groove and go off (the crescendos in Heart Of The Sunrise, the sonic freak-outs of Close To The Edge, etc.), it's quite the exhilarating ride of musicianship.

If any song makes perfect sense in a live context, it's Starship Trooper. The Life Seeker portion is a chipper, happy piece, then goes into the reflective Disillusion, before heading for the final stretch of Würm, quite possibly the greatest 'dumb rock-out' composition in Yes' entire discography. The hook is stupid simple, instantly lodging itself into your brain matter, and it just builds, and builds, and builds, each band member getting solo action along the way before ending on a huge musical high. It's like an awesome, extended, in-the-zone Neil Young & Crazy Horse jam, but with tons more technical skill that never loses its soul of rock 'n' roll.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Yes - Yes Remixes (2018 Update)

Rhino Records: 2003

(Click here to read my original TranceCritic review)

Boy, did I hedge my bets in that old review. I was already reaching out on a limbful of good graces even attempting a Yes review for a one-year old trance review website, but I had all this honest-to-God enthusiasm for the Remixes project, see. The concept alone blew my mind like so many Star Trek twists, that anyone would feel inspired enough to recreate songs famed and obscure by prog-rock elder statesmen for an audience that probably didn't exist. Like, ain't no way the old timers who were down with Yes since the Peter Banks days would have much interest in hearing these songs all danced-up, nor would the clubbing masses give a care either. Who does that leave, then?

For sure there's the absolute die-hard Yes fans that must consume everything the band's ever put out (and all the concert bootlegs), but just because they got this album out of completist obligation doesn't necessarily mean they got the album either. There may be some Boomer music enthusiasts that are always on the hunt for the strange and esoteric, who embraced every bit of electronic sonic weirdness from the earliest musique concrete through krautrock and ambient, and all the way into the era of IDM – they do exist, though not in significant numbers.

Finally, I suppose there's dudes like me, younger generation types who enjoy the techno boom-booms as much as the prog-rock of yesteryear. I don't know how many of us there number, only familiar with two others in this demographic: Virgil Howe, the son of Yes guitarist Steve Howe, and the guy who made this album of Yes remixes, plus Mark Prindle of Mark's Record Reviews: An Interactive Site Featuring Music Critique By Mark Prindle And Music Fans The Worldwide (Founded 1996 – Retired 2011) fame. I assume there's more though, just because us kids mid-life adults are more accepting of new musiks than them old peoples are. But don't you Millennials dare sully Yes' legacy with your mumble dubwave racket, by g'ar.

While I was so totally down for Yes Remixes ten years ago that I'd sneak in a TranceCritic review for it, I can't say I've returned to it much since. I mentioned that, more often than not, you're gonna' turn to the original pieces, or maybe live renditions, over a one-off experimental concept as on offer here. Yes, it's cool hearing Tempus Fugit rearranged into catchy, looping hooks befit of pop radio, Wurm of Starship Trooper turned into a d'n'b tear-out complete with Moog solo, or the shorty Five Percent Of Nothing cut up from samples and extended into a regular length song, such that it stands on its own as a piece of music rather than a gimmick. Unfortunately, that's all Yes Remixes ultimately comes off like, a gimmick. Respectful, oftentimes clever, and even enjoyable on its own merits, sure, but one that's only worth a spare indulgence. There's just so much other Yes music to consume, see.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Various - Y9: Nine Years Of Psychonavigation Records

Psychonavigation Records: 2009

It's been nine years since this label released a 'nine years retrospective', and the tale of Psychonavigation Records has since been... colourful. At this point, the print's been reduced to little more than an outlet for Keith Downey's No Mask Effect albums, though they did finally release that Sea Biscuit reissue first announced over a year ago. Come to think of it, that's a tasty little ambient techno classic I wouldn't mind having. Bet I can find the Astralwerks version for a good price on Amazon these days...

As a label retrospective, Y9 is a curious item. Who celebrates nine years of business? No one, for no other reason than the Western world demarcates the passing years by powers of ten: decade, century, millennium, etc. Thus ten years of activity is a recognizable achievement, while nine years is not. Maybe that's unfair to nine, and really, any length of time maintaining a project beyond a couple years is an achievement of sorts, but there's this lingering sense that, if you could do it for nine years, why not push for that extra rep of ten? It's just over the horizon, one Gregorian calendar away. Did the Psychonavigation Records crew of 2009 not figure they'd make it to year ten for some reason? Simply wanted to buck the convention for the sake of quirkiness? Is there more significance to nine years than ten in Irish folklore?

Whatever you want to say about their business practices, few discount the musical talent Psychonavigation Records brought in over the years, and Y9 is as handy a showcase of that as any. It touches upon all the genres they dipped their fingers in, from the early jazzy trip-hop dabblings (Buckminster Fuzeboard's Local Tone, Aza & Eoin's Miles & Miles, P.P.Roy's Cop Theme) through the ambient and Boardsy nods (Gel-Sol's Your Day In The Sun, Enrico Coniglio W & J Theme, Seán Quinn's I'm Here (Twice), Ciaran Byrne's Curtain Moon).

And while acts like Roddy Monks and Eedl gave the label an early in with ambient techno (from which they'd almost exclusively continue promoting), back then Psychonavigation was commonly rubbing shoulders with shoegazey indie sorts like Soul Gun Warriors U-Mass and Tiny Magnetic Pets (I swear I've heard the tragic-twee pop of Spinning before). This stuff kinda' went overlooked as the label's lifespan carried on, but it does paint a picture of a print willing to take chances on just about anything flying under the radar. Heck, Rarely Seen Above Ground's Talk Back Crawl Back is some straight-up boppin' garage rock, featured on a double-LP outing called Organic Sampler, and primarily performed by one man, Jeremy Hickey. That's dope, yo'!

Of course, my musings on Y9 are irrelevant, as it doesn't appear available on any official outlets anymore, so odds are slim folks will find this CD. Some of the artists do have their own Bandcamp pages though, so if any of this music intrigues you, do 'em a solid and scope out those options.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

ACE TRACKS: February 2018

Whoo, not only did I finally polish off that seemingly endless backlog, but knocked off another main letter too! Yeah, it was only 'X', but gander: five albums made up that little block, which is more than pathetic 'Q' ever had. The next three largest letters in my collection are 'Y', 'J', and 'Z'. Kind of surprised 'Y' doesn't have many albums, as you'd think more artists would title their works with a 'You'. They sure like that 'No', tho'.

But yes, that means, after sixty-four months and nearly 1,400 reviews, the end is in sight. Baring complete societal collapse, I should be able to finish within the month that which I set out to do so many years ago – to listen to every item in my music collection in alphabetical order. Only... I won't be finished, will I? There's a whole new backlog that's been forming even as I was going through the last one, with at least a couple month's worth of material to work from. Not to mention the clutch of albums that make up “#, A, B, & Ck” that I never wrote reviews for. Can't forget those!

So yeah, even though I should wrap 'Y' and 'Z' by spring, I'm not finished, not by a long shot. I'm also considering a couple additional ideas, but will touch upon those later. For now, here's the ACE TRACKS for the month of February 2018:


Full track list here.


MISSING ALBUMS:
Various - United DJs Of America, Vol. 3: Josh Wink – Philadelphia, PA
Various - Rewind: Taylor – Resonance
Various - United DJs Of America, Vol. 14: DJ Soul Slinger
Various - X-Mix-2: Laurent Garnier - Destination Planet Dream

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 7%
Percentage Of Rock: 7%
Most “WTF?” Track: Always the everlasting Oak Ridge Boys.

Obviously none of the X-Mix or United DJs Of America series are on Spotify, but aside from some of the oldest editions, plenty of their tracks are. Of course, if you really want to hear those X-Mix albums, the full VHS rips are on YouTube as well, so no excuses!

Because of the huge spotlight on those CDs, techno and house dominate this playlist, with a couple token glances of trance, progressive, rock, rap, synth-pop, ambient, downtempo, and country. No dark ambient though, which has to be a first in, like, forever. A very '90s sounding playlist, all said, even from the more modern tunes included.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Ruben Garcia Rumour Records Running Back Ruthless Records RZA S.E.T.I. Sabled Sun 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 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-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 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. Tone Depth Tony Anderson Sound Orchestra Too Pure Tool Topaz Tosca Toto Touch Tourette Records Toxik Synther Traffic Entertainment Group trance Trancelucent Tranquillo Records Trans'Pact Transcend Transformers Transient Records trap Trax Records Trend Trentemøller Tresor tribal Tricky Triloka Records trip-hop Trishula Records Tristan Troum Troy Pierce TRS Records Tsuba Records Tsubasa Records Tuff Gong Tunnel Records Turbo Recordings turntablism TUU TVT Records Twisted Records Type O Negative U-God U-Recken U2 U4IC DJs Überzone Ugasanie UK acid house UK Garage UK Hard House Ultimae Ultimae Records Ultra Records Umbra Underworld Union Jack United Dairies United DJs Of America Universal Motown Universal Music Universal Records Universal Republic Records Unknown Tone Records UOVI Upstream Records Urban Icon Records Utada Hikaru V2 Vagrant Records Valiska Valley Of The Sun Vangelis Vap Vector Lovers Venetian Snares Venonza Records Vermont Vernon Versatile Records Verus Records Verve Records VGM Vice Records Victor Calderone Victor Entertainment Vince DiCola Vinyl Cafe Productions Virgin Virtual Vault Virus Recordings Visionquest Visions Vitalic vocal trance Vortex Wagram Music Waki Wanderwelle Warp Records Warren G Water Music Dance Wave Recordings Wave Records Waveform Records Wax Trax Records Way Out West WEA Wednesday Campanella Weekend Players Weekly Mini-Review Werk Discs Werkstatt Recordings WestBam White Swan Records Wichita William Orbit Willie Nelson world beat world music writing reflections Wrong Records Wu-Tang Clan Wyatt Keusch XL Recordings Yamaoko Yello Yes Ylid Youth Youtube YoYo Records Yul Records Zenith ZerO One Zoharum Zomby Zoo Entertainment ZTT Zyron ZYX Music µ-Ziq