Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Yes - 90125

Atlantic/Rhino Records: 1983/2004

When I was young, I didn't know much, but I knew my Dad liked Yes. I also knew he played rock music in a rock band, and that Yes also played rock music in a rock band. Yet, in all the practice jams and rehearsals and sound checks, I never heard my Dad play Yes. With the logic befitting of a youngling who didn't know much, I suggested he should play some Yes in his rock band, to which my Dad gave a somewhat bemused smile, replying, “I couldn't play to their level.” This statement took me aback. To my young ears, songs like Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Hold On, and Changes didn't seem that much different than his covers of Loverboy and Steve Miller Band, and surely that's all the band Yes ever did.

Of course, I eventually learned just how expansive the whole Yes discography is, and why my old man felt songs like Heart Of Sunrise, Close To The Edge, or Gates Of Delirium weren't exactly bar-rock suitable (surely he's jammed to Wurm on occasion tho'!). Still, you can't blame a kid for thinking otherwise, Yes' hard pivot into arena-friendly rock anthems fitting them right in with the radio and MTV hits of the '80s, a far cry from their progressive '70s output. And it was all the work of one man, their new guitarist Trevor Rabin.

Truth is, 90125 wasn't supposed to be a Yes album, at least not in name, the band having gone their separate ways following Drama. Founder Chris Squire and drummer Alan White stuck together though, still enjoying their rhythmic mojo, but they needed someone as lead and guitarist, and happened upon Trevor's demos. Liking the cut of his musical jib, the two parties hooked up and even started recording some tunes as Cinema. A happenstance meeting with former Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye brought him into the fold, and feeling Trevor couldn't handle all the vocals while doing his thing on the ol' six stringer, Chris reached out to Jon Anderson for his thoughts. Jon liked what he heard, and after a marketing rep suggested they ditch the Cinema moniker, you've got a whole new Yes for a whole new decade (Trevor Horn helped produce).

Make no mistake though, Trevor Rabin's ear for rock anthems remains the dominate force in this album. Yeah, you can hear whenever contributions from Squire (those basslines!) and Anderson come in (oh man, does Jon's abstract lyrics ever clash with Trevor's simple prose – sounds great tho'!), but for radio-ready rock, there's still some exceptional songcraft going on in these tunes: key changes, time signature variants, wacky solos, and all that good stuff prog rockers are known for. It's just not key features anymore, little asides where these musicians get to show off for fun before returning to an impossibly catchy earworm for a powerful chorus. 90125 may be Yes' most 'obvious' album, but I'd take this over most hair metal of the decade any day.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

MUX - 2005 Live-PA Demo

promo: 2005

I wonder how many of these exist out there. Like, even from my tiny, backwater home-town, I've come across a number of them. Hell, I technically made one, when a couple buddies and I borrowed our fathers' music gear and started jamming out some really, really, really amateurish Primus-inspired nonsense. We recorded our efforts to a few tapes, but fool ye' be should thou seek to purchase a demo of The Festering Rat-Heads. Point is, music demos are everywhere, made by many who had an early itch to produce something, anything, but go no further than that. Maybe they found a musical calling elsewhere, or other life commitments prevented them from following through. Whatever the case, it seems no matter the level of talent involved, only one out of thousands of demos blossom into an actual career with signed records distributed through a label, even if but a short one.

MUX though, I always felt he coulda' been a contender, making live acid techno at a time when the genre was pretty much a forgotten relic of the '90s. Yeah, the Stay Up Forever posse were still kicking out the jams with regularity (they never go to sleep, see), but they had that legacy momentum going for them. Ain't no where else on the globe peddling that stuff in the mid-'00s, much less the West Coast Of Canada. So you gotta' give it to MUX (Drew Smith to the Pacific Naval Patrol) for sticking to the sound he loved best: 4am bangin' acid techno.

Four tracks long, this live-PA outing picks up right where the London Acid Techno crew have remained for two decades. Okay, it's not pure TB-303 action in play, as authentic machines are limited and difficult to come by, but the essence and soul of acid remains. For folks starved for the stuff in a region completely devoid of it, MUX's stuff is the right stuff indeed. It's got the thumping beats, the looping vocals ripped from sci-fi movies (I'm not inconsistent, you are inconsistent, dammit), the tweaky acid builds, and... um, okay, that's about all there. It's acid freakin' techno, exactly what you'd expect, delivered as well as you could hope from someone not within the Stay Up Forever inner circle.

Though he probably could have sent some music to the London Acid Techno Crew for consideration, MUX recorded little else after this. He still keeps semi-active in the Vancouver scene though, a prominent promoter for the long-running, bi-annual live-PA showcase Sequential Circus, even occasionally breaking out his old gear for another live acid rinsing. Mostly though, Mr. Smith's found his true calling gallivanting across the Pacific shores in his own sail boat. I'm serious! Like, if there's ever a reason to not follow through on a career in techno, that's good enough for me. Maybe I can hire him sometime in the future for an expedition to Kerguelen Island, have an acid techno party on the loneliest place on the map.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Dr. Dre - 2001

Interscope Records: 1999

A Very Important record, this, accomplishing many things all at once (hay, guys, remember all those G-funk rappers!?), forming ripples in the world of hip-hop still in effect. For sure it brought Dr. Dre back to the forefront of rap discourse, a strange achievement when you reflect on what he'd accomplished as a producer throughout the '90s: popularizing G-funk, discovering Snoop Dogg, crafting some of the biggest hits Tupac and Blackstreet put out. Hip-hop is fickle though, eager to flock to the next big hype as established vets start piling on the years. Following the flop that was The Firm, with Southern rap making huge commercial inroads (never mind its quality, No Limit Records was a marketing juggernaut), and you can understand why folks figured a guy who made his name ten years prior would have been regarded as old-hat.

Then along came a white saviour, and suddenly everyone was talking about Dre again. Eminem must have done more than given the good Doctor a new protégé though, as Mr. Young hit the studio again for a new album of his own. Not that he needed to prove he could still drop rhymes as he did with The Chronic, but hey, when you want to emphatically put to rest whether you 'still got it', you go at it with all you got. And he sure done did that, folks still holding out against hope that he'll release a way-overdue follow-up to this album. Man, just let it go already. Dre's got headphones to sell, yo'.

Right, Dre's not much a lyricist, and the truth is 2001: The Nu Chronic doesn't do much to dispel that fact. When he's poppin' off about his past successes, reflecting on changes in the rap game, taking down his doubters (The Watcher, Still D.R.E., What's The Difference, Forgot About Dre), or even offering a heartfelt tribute to his dead brother in The Message, the Doctor easily holds his own among the plethora of guest spots. Half this album goes on about fucking women though, topics far more capably handled by smooth cats like Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg (and outright douches like Kurupt). Anytime Dre goes on about “fucking bad bitches”, he almost sounds apologetic to his wife in doing so. Sorry, hun, but the boys need their strip club anthems.

Whatever your thoughts on lyrical content, no one denies that 2001: A Chronic Odyssey is all about the beats Dre and Mel-Man crafted here. No matter how tuned out I get hearing about 'guns, blunts, 40s, and bitches', each G-funk cut on here keeps me coming back for more, rhythms packing trunk-rattling punch with twitchy keyboards, plucky strings, and triumphant horns. And with so many of Dre's big rap friends on hand dropping rhymes (Snoop! Em'! X'! Dogg Pound! Devin! Roq! ... Hittman? Who that? And why's he all over this album?), 2001 comes off like a big ol' Westcoast gangsta' party that you're invited to. Yes, even you suburban white kids in middle-America.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Canibus - 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus)

Universal Music: 2000

For a very brief window, I was listening to every new hip-hop album that entered my little hinterlandian music shop. I didn't actually buy every new item, oh no; this one though, 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus). I didn't know who Canibus was, but he was dropping bars with an intensity that properly drew me into the artform: battle-rap. Dudes like Del and Deck, firing off fiery metaphors and similes with such complexity and ferocity, few could stand toe-to-toe in the arena. And now here's a guy who's entire deal is doing such a thing, a full album's worth of such bars (and some other nonsense).

Jamaican born, commanding the microphone must have been in Mr. Germaine Williams' blood from the start, making a name for himself throughout the underground freestyle circuit in New York City. It got him noticed by some Very Important Persons in the hip-hop community, including LL Cool J and Wyclef Jean, the latter even producing Canibus' debut album. That... didn't turn out as his fans expected, Wyclef trying to mould Canibus into a commercial star. The album sold well enough, mind you, but heads wanted the real battling 'Bus. Thus for his follow-up 2000 B.C., Canibus throws down as hard as everyone hoped he would.

The album opens with a heavy boom-bap beat while various former bars are stitched together, eventually erupting with a triumphant fanfare as Canibus declares it's The C-Quel. And if that doesn't get you fired up, then the titular cut damn sure well, all apocalyptic choirs as dude doesn't hold back on proclaiming his lyrical greatness (while throwing a couple barbs at Wyclef in the process). The rest of the album pretty much plays out like that, Canibus coming in with a solid Eastcoast beat, going off on how great he is in a myriad of creative ways. Sometimes he brings in other famed lyricists like Rakim, Killah Priest, Rass Kass, and Kurupt, other times he goes off for an unprecedented one-hundred bars (100 Bars). Gander at one of my favourite verses from Doomsday News, for obvious reasons: “If I had half as many bars in gold as I had in lyrics when I flowed; I'd be the richest man on the globe; Niggas wanna know is Canibus gold? That's a stupid-ass question motherfucker, is Canada cold? 'Bout a thousand degrees lower than liquid nitro is.”

I can't say it's all gold, though. Life Liquid has Canibus spitting over-the-top ultra-violence and homophobia to show how 'street hard' he is (Watch Who U Beef Wit's a far better grimdark street cut – message!). A few beef jabs are fine, but Canibus does overplay it with Die Slow and Phuk U. Odd having Pharoahe Monch featuring solo on a pure freestyle in Horsemen. And no matter how creative he does get, hearing Canibus constantly telling you how awesome he is does wear thin by album's end. Beyond those quibbles though, 2000 B.C.'s a dope record for folks who dig rap's true lyrical potential.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

808 State - 88:98 (2018 Update)

Universal Records: 1998

(Click here to bang your head against an impenetrable wall of text)

I've severely lagged in my 808 State gathering. Hell, it's almost shameful it took me until just last year to snag me a copy of at least one proper LP from the Manchester group, any LP. ex:el is a decent jumping on point, I suppose, but I'm certain most acid heads declare their first couple of records - Newbuild and Ninety - the only true 808 State albums you're supposed to have, even if you're not an 808 State fan. “But wait!”, say some, “Don't you dare dismiss their post-ex:el material either, Gorgeous and Don Solaris just as worthy of discussion as any of the band's seminal '80s work.”

Yeah, those too, though considering I've seen Gorgeous in the used-shops on occasion, I do have some suspicions of that one's overall quality. Strikes me as the sort of record that I would have stumbled upon back in my exploratory years, picked up to hear why 808 State were held in such high regard, and came away entertained but unimpressed. But hey, until I actually hear Gorgeous in full, I can't make that claim.

For now, all I have to go on is the fact only three of that album's tracks made the cut on this retrospective, whereas ex:el earned a whopping five out of thirteen potential slots. Not to mention none of the songs got a spiffy '98 update like Pacific and Cubik did. No, wait, this is bad logic on my part! Newbuild got jack-shite representation with 88:98, which follows that it's a completely rubbish outing. Well, we must concede it's the least commercially viable for a compilation such as this, but that's probably why so many True Heads adore that acid excursion compared to what came after. Only way you'd hear Flow Coma on the radio is via pirate options.

I cannot deny having 88:98 makes getting the band's post ex:el material a rather low priority. Yeah, you can argue this compilation also makes having ex:el redundant (or the other way around), but c'mon, tracks like Lift and In Yer Face are worth having as many times as possible! If this is meant to be a gathering of their best material though, then I've already heard all the highlights from Gorgeous and Don Solaris, everything else on those albums 'just for the fans' options. Then again, if I went by that logic, then I'd have assumed I wouldn't need anymore tunes off of ex:el, as there's no possible way the five on 88:98 are the peak. Then I heard ex:el, and realized they could have thrown even more on here than what's offered.

There, that should be enough circular rambling to sate anyone. As should be painfully apparent by now, I really have nothing else to add or update with 88:98. It's still a handy intro to 808 State, but far from a complete story. Besides, there's plenty of streaming options for that now anyway. Wow, the 'retrospective CD' market truly is dead, inn'it?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Ladytron - 604

Emperor Norton: 2001/2004

Phase 1 Ladytron had such a college-kid cool about them. You could easily imagine them hanging out at the A/V rec room in their matching Atari sports jackets, fiddling with archaic analog synths for fun. Or catch them chilling at a bubble-tea cafe between classes talking up Kraftwerk and Human League, lamenting such music lost artifacts of a bygone era. Following a late-night jaunt at an off-grid nightclub offering overplayed '80s hits, they'd hang out at an after-hours noodle house, sharing overheard stories of love-sick peers. Then they'd get it in their heads that all these interests could translate into some throwback synth-pop of their own. No pretense of super-stardom or something as daft as spearheading an ironic retro-revival. They had neither the interest, nor the marketing to accomplish as such. Just music-making on a shoestring budget, using used gear long abandoned by the industry at large, performing songs of a simple, intimate nature. Something like that, anyway.

While Ladytron was quick to grow and evolve from these humble roots, I find myself returning to their debut album more than the others, for no other reason than it captures the band in a moment they couldn't replicate if they tried. They gained more gear, stronger song-writing ability, and overall better production in subsequent records, thus there's an undeniable charm in hearing early fussing about with comparatively clunky keyboards and bulky synths, wrestling with an off-key hook while a melancholy organ melody quavers overtop and Helen Marnie sing-whispers about doomed relationships... I dunno', there's just something strangely relatable here.

It's like the difficulty and unpredictability of their gear mirrors the difficulty and unpredictability of navigating relationships within their songs. Wondering whether the drunken mess you're going out with is worth your while, or whether the big-city life you wanted is as you'd imagined while living in a small town. These aren't world-shattering matters, but when you're young and aimless, having the chance to spend another breakfast with someone, anyone, can feel like the most important event ever. Musing over a boy taking the same girl you took to a movie never sounded so poignant, except perhaps as warbled by acoustic folkies.

That the topics in these songs are as simple as their paired synth-pop melodies, some thought Ladytron's act was initially a gimmick (hence them getting lumped in with gimmick electroclash groups). After two decades of studio advances, why would anyone make pop music with such difficult music contraptions, some of which barely created sounds that could be considered musical? It definitely got them noticed out of the pack though, a group crafting surprisingly catchy tunes while sounding as rough and unpolished as any garage rock band of the day. At a time when pop music was as slick and corporate as it would ever be, hearing something just as ear-friendly but far more authentic and real was almost a God-send for Serious Music Aficionados. Why yes The White Stripes were also very popular around this time, why do you ask?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Asura - 360

Ultimae Records: 2010

For the longest time, 360 was a reminder of just how down and out my mental state was in 2010. I should have been hyped over Asura's follow-up to Life², ecstatic that the dude that introduced me to Ultimae Records had returned. Plus, the label itself sent me a digital pre-release to review, practically a dream come true, right? Only, my time writing reviews for TranceCritic seemed at an end. I still accepted that digital copy, but felt like a cad doing so, uncertain whether I'd commit fingers to keyboard for them. It didn't help I was still in “MP3 iz bad” mode, with quality playback options limited, so my initial reactions were gonna' be tainted regardless. And then, after playing 360, I came away from it so disappointed, I almost gave up on new music completely. A total over-reaction, true, but man, after suffering through the 'sidechaining era' of trance, hearing Asura indulging it on Atlantis Child felt like a betrayal of Ultima 9 / Mass Effect 3 proportions.

Obviously, I've come around to 360 many years later. Really, there were songs on here that I liked right off the bat regardless (oh man, is Halley Road ever lush!), but that soured first impression curdled any replay desire for a while. It's honestly taken me this long, actually sitting down and analyzing this album for the purpose of a review, that the veil finally was lifted. Yeah, Atlantis Child is still kinda' wonky, in that it sounds more like Charles Farewell tinkering around with new effects rather than making a solid track. The rest though... oh my!

Right, it's no Life², in that 360 doesn't hit quite the same highs as that album does. There's still some honest-to-God quality tunes here though. All of his psy-chill productions (Regenesis, Erase, Longing For Silence, Le Dernier Voyage) hit the same spaced-out, sweet spots as his earlier material, with a few new, glitchy tricks thrown in for good measure. Altered State works a most tasty prog-psy groove, one of the best Asura's ever produced. The aforementioned Halley Road takes the best parts of Galaxies, and cranks the uplifting feels even higher, while Virgin Delight does all it can to melt your heart into PLUR goo (was Solar Fields offering tips?). Elsewhere, El Hai and Getsemani show off Mr. Farewell's orchestral chops, though I'll still take Golgotha over these.

Atlantis Child aside, the only real criticism I can level on 360 is that, as an album, it doesn't flow quite so well. For example, the sombre Getsemani would make for a lovely, reflective closer, but is instead placed two tracks from the finish. I suppose it works as a transitional into the more positive lead-out of Le Dernier Voyage and Virgin Delight, but man, does it leave me emotionally defeated too, not ready to take more music after. Hey, maybe that's what contributed to my 2010 funk! No, it was the other things that were at fault.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Various - 100% Energy

Quality Records: 1994

Another of my earliest CDs, and a very educational one at that. No, go ahead and laugh – it really is quite adorable what I learned from 100% Energy. It's something I would have learned rather quickly anyway, but there's always that first one, opening your eyes, ears, and brain to all that electronic dance music has to offer and is capable of. I am, of course, talking about The Remix.

Yeah, I'd come across remixes before. My exposure was so limited at that point, however, I just assumed rubs on tunes like Age Of Love, Obumbrata, and Dominator were the original versions, not variations. Even the few remixes of 2 Unlimited hits I'd heard didn't sound that different compared to the radio cuts, at least enough for me to think much of it (still, that 2 Little Boys go with Twilight Zone sure hit harder). When I picked up 100% Energy (was given as a Christmas gift? I can't remember...), I was already familiar with a chunk of tunes in the track list: Urban Cookie Collective's The Key, The Secret, BKS' I'm In Love With You, Bad Boys Blue's Go Go (Love Overload). There are several others too, but I hadn't counted on hearing versions of them completely different from what I'd heard elsewhere.

My main point of comparison was Radikal Techno – Too Radikal, where four tracks from that CD also ended up here. Both Mars Plastic's Find The Way and R.T.Z. Belgium's In The Name Of Love are shorter, which I didn't mind since both tunes are rather monotonous anyway. That Deadly Sins cut though, We Are Going On Down, why does it have an added bell melody? The main riff's different too, more aggressive sounding, and where did the roller-coaster samples go? If that threw me for a loop, then hearing the original version of TRF Rave Factory's Open Your Mind... well, opened my mind. Joey Beltram's remix on Radikal Techno was minimalist and almost trancey, whereas here it's about as ravey happy hardcore as you could get in 1993. Complete opposite ends of the dance spectrum, and I was so clueless it could be done at all! Oh, and the limp Let The Beat Control Your Body from 2 Unlimited is featured here in its more festive X-Out In Rio Remix form, another “wtf?” moment for yours truly.

Okay, enough anecdotal blathering. 100% Energy is about as typical a eurodance compilation from Quality Records as you'll ever find. Other names on here include Diva Connection, Apotheosis, Dance 2 Trance, Q-Tex, Cardenia, and Intermission. DJ Dero's mardi gras nod Batucada comes prior to the 2 Unlimited rub, and General Base's Poison hits all my eurodance endorphin triggers. The CD is also 'mixed', in that everything's got hard cross-fade slams, some tracks hilariously clashing with what came before. Since I don't have many of these tunes and mixes elsewhere, I've kept 100% Energy all these years, but it's honestly barely worth a used-shop pick-up a quarter century on.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Global Communication - 76:14

Dedicated: 1994/1997

The only 'ambient house' album you're supposed to have, if you never really messed with the genre in the first place. Yeah, the Proper Critics of the music world have kind things to say about Adventures Beyond Ultraworld, Chill Out, Lifeforms, both SAWs, and a few others. For some reason though, Global Communication's lone LP always ends up in the 'best of' lists and 'Most Important Ambient Records' recaps from outlets that seldom give raver music much credit. Is The Orb just too stoner-goofy? Boards Of Canada too childish? Pete Namlook too dorky?

There's no denying 76:14 is a class album from Tom Middleton and Mark Pritchard. Already finding some techno success as Reload, the duo took a stab at the trendy (lucrative?) chill-out market with this new alias, showing just as much skill fusing ambient and associated genres of old (Berlin-School, New Age ...yes, really) with the beatcraft and dubby components quite common with their peers.

For sure there's charming pure ambient numbers like 4:02 and 12:18, harkening to the days of early Eno and Hearts Of Space. Not content navel-gazing with the pioneers, 9:25 and 7:39 adds some funk-hop rhythm to the pleasant synths and harmonies on display, while 9:37 goes all spaced-out with distant, minimalist dubby pulses – some serious Fax+ vibes on that one. Elsewhere, 8:07 and 5:23 may as well be the same track, building on a simple, pulsing arp with complementing synths and melodies straight from the book of space-synth Tangerine Dream. And who can go a 76:14 review without mentioning 14:31, a composition time and again hailed as among the highlights of early '90s chill-out music (that metronome!). Overall, the result is an album that doesn't stray too far from what ambient music of the era offered, but uniquely engaging enough to stand out from an over-stuffed scene.

Good music aside though, I'm still left wondering what it is about 76:14 that always places so high in lists compared to everything else released in the early '90s. Make no mistake, there were a lot of LPs put out at the time, many with synths and sounds similar to what's on offer here. Tom and Mark at least show stronger songcraft compared to others, no composition coming off as meandering, noodly music for its own sake. That's a remarkable ability considering some of these songs' lengths (hint: it's the titles).

I dunno. The more I listen to 76:14, the more I suspect it became a favourite of Serious Music Critics because it didn't have the same level of hype as the Orbs and Aphex Twins. Nor did Global Communication have such marketing muscle behind it like Virgin or Warp Records, Dedicated more known for their alt-rock releases. And without a major label licensing their tracks out, the music didn't flood the compilation market either. 76:14 was thus an album that you got to discover on your own, and were richly rewarded for your exploration. Small surprise many got so attached to it.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Paul van Dyk - 45 RPM

MFS/Mute: 1994/1998

I cannot deny being amused at seeing this album in the used shop. The thought process of its former owner vividly played out in my head: “Gosh gee, I sure do like myself Paul van Dyk, what with that lovely song For An Angel on all these trance-tastic mixes! But, the song wasn't on Out There And Back. Which one had For An Angel? Oh, it's this one, 45 RPM. Hey, it's even got two versions of it! I didn't even know you could do that with trance.” *plays the album* “Uh, what is this? This doesn't sound like trance. It's all so... plain, and simple, especially that first version of For An Angel. There isn't even any vocals or plucks on here. How can I 'OMG I DIE' to stuff without big, anthem singalong breakdowns? Ah, this is an old album, before Paul Oakenfold invented trance. Guess I'll sell it. It's not what I wanted.”

Myself, of course, was all up in getting my hands on some old school Paul van Dyk! Okay, not really, my interest in his musical output middling at best. However, finding any early '90s trance album in the used shops is rare 'round these here parts, so snagged that CD up I did so. Why has my grammar gone so wonky all of a sudden? Trancecrackeritis?

Beyond being Paul van Dyk's first album and initial home of For An Angel though, 45 RPM isn't a terribly remarkable trance LP, even for the year 1994. MFS had already released a number of memorable singles cementing the Mark Reeder print as one of trance's earliest tastemakers, with acts like Cosmic Baby and Effective Force leading the way. Known for having an ear attuned to catchy melodies through the DJ circuit, Paul's style caught the attention of the MFS team, bringing him on to lend his talents to various productions and remixes. When it came time to tag his name to his own work, however, instead of the type of trance MFS was known for, van Dyk opted for something a little more club-friendly and commercial in Pump This Party as a lead single. It didn't survive the '98 re-issue, for good reason. Stepping stones and all that, but it's hilarious to hear that as the intended hit single, rather than initially looked-over For An Angel. Different eras.

As for the rest of 45 RPM, yeah, it's an early trance album from Paul van Dyk. It's all competently produced and arranged, most hooks simple and subtle, though folks with cracked copies of Fruity Loops were knocking this stuff out by the turn of the century. A Magical Moment has a slower, groovier vibe going for it, while Ejaculoutro ends the album-proper on an ambient note, but little else leaps out from the norm. The '95 additions from the Emergency! EP replacing the Pump This Party tracks add more flavour to Paul's formula, which only highlight his earlier works as him still in a developmental stage.

Laurent Garnier - 30

F Communications: 1997

Though 30 is Laurent Garnier's second full-length album, I always think of it as his first. Or at least, the start of his musical kleptomania taking hold. His first album, Shot In The Dark, was a strict techno exercise, more a gathering of tunes rinsed out at his Wake Up club night. Upon entering his third decade of travelling around Sol, however, the famed Frenchman was itching to stretch his muse beyond dancefloor tools. A few smatterings of tracks across aliases nudged him into areas like house and trance, but there be broken-beats out there too, by g'ar.

You know you're in for a Serious Artistic Album when your opener is two minutes of minimalist, moody ambient. Deep Sea Diving certainly imparts a sense of dwelling among the Drexciyan fish-folk, though as it doesn't relate much to the rest of the album, comes off superfluous as an opener. Might have made for a decent mid-record intermission though.

From there, we get a few varieties of techno. Sweet Mellow D and Mid Summer Night get in on that freeform Detroit action, teasing out a steady rhythm for almost excruciating lengths, though when that kick hits, it doesn't stick for long. At the other end of the spectrum, we get Crispy Bacon and Flashback, straight-forward techno bangers, with the latter indulging a fair bit of acid too. Unsurprisingly, these were the main singles off 30, since this was the sound most folks familiar with Garnier would be after.

One track preceded those, an almost novelty limited edition records called The Hoe. It samples the line “She ain't nuthin' but a hoe”, looping and cutting it up into a ghetto techno cut that, save some simple strings in the back-half, sounds nothing like Laurent's typical output. Surely the Frenchman has more class than this in his music, though DJ Hell got enough of a kick out of it to provide a remix. And not just as a one-off, 'ghetto-tech' cuts also appearing in the form of electro in Kallit! and I Funk Up. Yep, ol' Laurent was getting himself in on that electro-revival just as it was set to blow up, though I doubt anyone noticed it here. Too enamoured by Crispy Bacon.

There's also a trip-hop outing in For Max, a little reggae techno-dub in Theme From Larry's Dub, a dash of deep house in Feel The Fire, an ethereal outro with chanting, drumming, and synths cribbed from Go To Sleep, plus assorted gimmick interludes, including what I assume is Laurent's child giggling in *?*.

As you can tell, 30 is an album that's all over the place, good tracks scattered among genre dalliances that have been done better elsewhere, including within Laurent's future discography. The tonal clash between some tunes is jarring, to say the least, and I'm not sure how The Hoe could have fit in with anything else here. Folks'll find 30 is best served as a bridge between two different eras of Garnier's production career.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Mist:i:cal - The Eleventh Hour (Original TC Review)

Soul:r: 2007

(2018 Update:
It's astonishing this remains the only album this group put out. They had nearly a decade to work on another, though with the passing of Marcus Intalex this past year, such a thing's a moot point now. Save a single digital EP in the year 2008, the project went quiet after the release of this album. Calibre carried on with his solo output, now a dozen albums strong, and Marcus put out a lone LP in 2011 called
21, but his passion remained with the DJ circuit, all the while maintaining his Soul:r print. Meanwhile, ST Files kept a steady stream of singles, but never quite hit the same heights of success as the other two players involved with Mist:i:cal.

Nothing else to add to this review. There's a little fudging of the genre demarcations - liquid funk was broad enough in those days that the flying high soul found here could fit the term - but
The Eleventh Hour remains a timeless outing of d'n'b for all you savvy heads out there.)

IN BRIEF: Doing it their own way.

On the opening title track of The Eleventh Hour, guest vocalist DRS is calling out all the corporate shenanigans of his scene. To the backing beats of what could be a long-lost Photek track, the MC seems a might bit peeved that drum’n’bass has lost its way, succumbing to the glitz and glamour of commercialization, sacrificing the heart and soul of the scene’s urban hipness of yore. Methinks he could be seeing the past with shades of a rosen-hue.

Yes, Pendulum turned the jungle scene on its head with one hell of a commercial breakthrough, but d’n’b had plenty of success well before then too. Goldie. Roni Size. EZ Rollers. Er... Kosheen. Hmm, apparently d’n’b’s credibility can ebb and flow with whichever name hits it big after all. However, I find it silly of DRS to be calling out currently successful acts of the dee’bee scene - if not specifically by name, then at least by association - when the very sound he’s spitting over was mainstream a decade ago. Then again, that material certainly was far more artistically credible than many current offerings from the majors these days.

And this is pretty much the sound you’ll come to hear on Mistical’s album. Comprised of Calibre, Markus Intalex, and ST. Files, the trio of producers have cooked up a collection of d’n’b cuts which mostly ignores current trends; there’s nary an ultra-aggro bassline heard, and style-biting from the Hospital Records crew is non-existent. Instead, they indulge in the styles which dragged the genre out of the underground during the mid-90s. This might have your Hooked On Nostalgia alarm beeping, but fear not, my friends, for Mistical aren’t rehashing the past, rather embracing what made those classic tunes work brilliantly when they were new.

So we have smooth dubby cuts like Mistical Soulution, City Life, and Amen Electric; atmospheric floaters like Time To Fly and Memory Jog; jazzstep offerings courtesy of Natasha; and urban stylings such as Stay Away and City Life (er, no points for predicting this reviewer's Ace Tracks, heh). Linking it all together is a warm gentle soulfulness that, frankly, tends to be lacking in much d’n’b these days. Yes, even the spirited liquid funk camps are guilty of this too, as they can get a bit caught up in bringing the bang to the party, lest they be left in the dust of their aggressive compatriots. Whether it’s Mistical’s aim to fill in this missing gap, or they merely prefer this sound over what’s hot and trendy, the trio definitely have managed to stand out from the pack because of their stylistic choice.

Further along The Eleventh Hour, we come across a track that may have all the junglists running for the hills ...or wondering if the right CD is still in their player. Dominick Martin (Calibre) has been known to dabble in other genres, but to have a purely dubbed-out house tune on a d’n’b album is a surprising and welcome idea. For a cut that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Swayzak DJ mix, Secret Love fits nicely in adding a bit of variety here.

Mistical continue their experiments for most of the final stanza. Add Break is an effects interlude; Eject finds the duo trying their hand at some neurofunk (and succeeding!); and the aforementioned Memory Jog will undoubtedly tickle at the old school dee’bee head in us all (and possibly fans of The Orb too). It’s quite an eclectic collection of sounds to close the album off, sounding very little like what came before.

Looking to close out The Eleventh Hour with that extra touch of class, Mistical bring in house legend Robert Owens to lend his vocal talents on Believe. The trio provide a sparse d’n’b cut to back the liquid funk favorite up, as Owens can easily carry the track on his own. And while he doesn’t sing about much we haven’t heard from him before (keep you chin up; don’t lose sight of your dreams, etc.), he does so in as fine a form as ever.

All in all, friends, we have a good little album here. Considering how dissimilar it is to much of what passes for cutting edge jungle, Mistical should definitely find themselves in a comfortable niche. A bigger question, though, is whether they have the chops to really stand out from the crowd, and perhaps even shake the dee’bee scene up a bit. Had you asked me that back in February when The Eleventh Hour was released, I’d probably have said “not much”. However, something recently occurred that has forced me to reconsider.

Marcus Intalex was tapped for Fabric’s thirty-fifth edition of their Live series. In the process, he came up with a drum’n’bass DJ mix that is currently being hailed as one of the best the genre has seen in years. Drawing upon many of the sounds Mistical utilize, it turned many heads around who’d grown jaded with their scene, claiming the sound is like a breath of fresh air in a stagnating atmosphere.

As I am not as immersed in the dee’bee scene to know if this is truly the case or not, I can still see the writing on the wall of what such claims foretell. Gaining exposure on a Fabric mix is big enough, but to have many bestowing high praise upon it in the process can only bring good things for the prospects of Mistical. Fortunately for them, they have an album in the bank that can back up any hype that comes with such exposure.

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

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Banco de Gaia - 10 Years (Remixed) (Original TC Review)

Disco Gecko: 2003

(2018 Update:
No, I don't have the actual
10 Years compilation from Mr. Marks. I did, at first. I mean, all those classic Banco tunes, plus assorted rarities like the Jack Dangers rub of How Much Reality Can You Take and the Insect Intelligence version of Amber, gathered onto two discs and all. Of course I got myself that! Then I loaned it out to a friend. Never got it back, though to be fair, I didn't push him to return it either. It's not like it was difficult to 'get' the rare offerings again anyway (most of these can be found on the Rewritten Histories collections now), so I was fine letting 10 Years slide from my coffers. I may be a major Banco fan, but I'm not a completist ...he says while reposting a review for a 'completist only' compilation.

This review is pretty rambly for one of my latter-years TC efforts, probably 33% longer than it needs to be. It's like, whenever I got the chance to talk up Banco at TranceCritic, I didn't hold back one iota. The other reviews I wrote for the website -
Maya and Farewell Ferengistan - were absolute behemoths in word count. Thank God for self-imposed word count, though I'm oh-so tempted to break that rule whenever I get around to Big Men Cry.)

IN BRIEF: Ten years of tour mates.

For good and ill, the remix album has become an undeniable part of dance music’s legacy. It’s reached a point where they are not only expected, but even counted upon in some circles. I’ve seen several bemoan a lacklustre album-proper only to follow such sentiments thinking “hopefully the remixes will make this better.” Trance alone has several albums packaged with an additional remix disc, not to mention the endless follow-up remix discs for the bigger releases. Despite some of the positives that come with the endeavor - the odd time a remix actually does an original better, or rounding up rare and obscure remixes into a single package - far too often these CDs are cynical, quick money-grabs, milking an artist’s music for every potential penny. Ultimately though, remix albums for electronic music share the same status live albums from rock bands do: potentially interesting, sometimes brilliant, but usually skippable.

This is what makes a remix CD for Banco de Gaia even more peculiar. Toby Marks has consistently shied away from cheap commercial gains, so you really can’t take 10 Years: Remixed as such. On the other hand, it’s not like there's been a plethora of remixes of Banco tunes over the years, most of which are done by Marks himself. Despite some notable names being given the re-rub task (Oliver Lieb, Speedy J, Jack Dangers), the trend has been Banco de Gaia does the best remixes of Banco de Gaia. However, those were already included on the 10 Years proper album.

Which brings us back to 10 Years: Remixed - specifically, what exactly is this release all about? I suppose doing a remix album is justifiable when it’s in conjunction with a retrospective album, but Marks knew full well there weren’t enough in his back catalog for a proper CD. If such is the case, then how about brand new remixes of a bunch of classic Banco tunes? Sounds good to me, only there’s a catch: instead of hiring out big names or scene mainstays, Marks got in touch with a bunch of his musical associates from over the years and gave them carte blanche to go wild. And if you’ve followed his musical career, you’d know the man from the World Bank has had some wildly eclectic associates, though with more of a leaning towards the global-fusion dance beat (obviously).

I guess what I’m trying to say here is only hard-line fans of Banco de Gaia are going to get much out of this release ; par for the course when it comes to remix albums anyway. If you’ve read this far, then you’re obviously a fan (or incredibly curious), so let me tell you what to expect from 10 Years: Remixed.

First, the familiar. Even here at TC, names such as Eat Static, Loop Guru, and HIA (The Higher Intelligence Agency) have crossed paths (er, mainly because of a certain reviewer’s affinity for a certain producer who’s been tied to them), and as such the groups bring their trademark sounds to the tracks they got to remix. HIA turns the obscure proto psy-dub gem Soufie into a clicky ambient-techno piece, Loop Guru ramp up the ethno-dub styling of Sakarya, and Eat Static gives Lai Lah the psy-trance business, but also throws in a bunch of other samples Marks has used in other tracks (I Love Baby Cheesy, Kuos, etc.).

Meanwhile, other psychedelic and dancehall dub mainstays like Temple Of Sound, Zion Train, Dreadzone, Asian Dub Foundation, Future Loop Foundation, and Transglobal Underground lend their hand, with various results. Some are quite the reworkings, such as Temple Of Sound turning Drunk As A Monk from a kind of prog-rock stomp into a brisk neurofunk excursion; or Dreadzone giving the incredibly somber vocal version of Glove Puppet some rhythmic spring (Jennifer Folker still sounds gloriously tragic though). On the other hand, not much is gained or lost in Future Loop Foundation adding dreamy Balearic tones to Celestine, while Zion Train seems at a loss as to what to do with Shanti, providing a brief and rather generic techno -dub tune in the process (honestly, though, would anyone be able to top Marks’ brilliant Black Mountain Mix?); and what exactly is going on in Obsidian? Transglobal Underground’s stomp-dub go at Amber is ace though.

Now, the obscure and unknowns. Well, 100th Monkey isn’t exactly obscure - it's long-time Banco collaborator Andy Guthrie - but certainly not a name you’ll immediately connect with. Since he’s been familiar with Marks’ work over the years, it’s unsurprising he gives Sunspot a great remix - and it’s also a mash-up with Qurna! Elsewhere on the CD, old school industrial group Perfume Tree - here known as Veloce - does a respectable deep-trance rub of Heliopolis, which rates around the Shanti remix in terms of usefulness. It’s the hopelessly obscure Carbomb that brings us the most ‘leftfield’ cut, turning Drippy into a kind of thrash-metal thing - has to be heard to be believed, even more so that it actually works!

*whew* That’s quite the eye-full for the hardcore Banco fan, I must admit, but given the eclecticism and seemingly random order of all these remixes, it could not be glossed over. Well, it could, but that’s not what we here at TC are about. Where am I going with this? Oh, right… 10 Years: Remixed. There’s a few quality remixes here - see below for which - but this CD’s mostly a ‘completists only’ deal. Although it’s interesting to hear different versions, it’s primarily going to be Banco fans that will appreciate them.

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

Monday, May 7, 2018

Various - 10 Years Of Drum&BassArena: Mixed By Andy C & Grooverider (Original TC Review)

Resist Music: 2007

(2018 Update:
Called it! Okay, predicting the D'n'B Arena would still be kicking around for another decade wasn't hard. In fact, they've just recently released a
twentieth anniversary 3CD extravaganza! Well, 'extravaganza' if you spring for the limited edition collector's roll-out, including t-shirt, stickers, vinyl accessories, all available on their Bandcamp. What, I ain't no shill. Might be worth scoping out that 20th roll-out though.

A couple things are glaringly absent in this review. One, no Pendulum namedrop. Yeah, Andy C only used one track of theirs in the
Upfront Mix, but their influence is heard throughout his set. It's also interesting hearing early breakouts from Sub Focus, Chase & Status, Noisa, and T.C., who'd all go on to be huge stars in the d'n'b scene along with Pendulum. Andy C knew what was what back then. Back to the errors though, I failed to mention how much tech-step is thrown down in Grooverider's set. For the layman, the differences between darkcore, tech-step, and darkstep are negligible, but these are Very Important demarcations within the jungle scene, believe you me.)

IN BRIEF: Here’s to another ten.

A simple website dedicated to providing scene information and live sets of jungle DJs. That’s all it started out as. These days, the internet is flooded with such places, but in 1997 it was a rare commodity. Audio files were usually just too crap to be bothered with such features - the MP3 revolution was still a couple years away, after all.

Somehow, Drum & Bass Arena survived those uncertain early years, and is now celebrating its tenth anniversary. Chalk it up to the loyalty of the junglist massive (a slick design by the always reliable Designer’s Republic didn’t hurt either). The devotion to their scene is rivaled by few, and when they put their faith in something, they stick with it through thick and thin. Fortunately, the Arena has rewarded their loyalty over the years by keeping to its strengths and always providing fresh material for the online junglists to gorge on. The website may not be a major player in the wider world web, but it’s firmly carved out its niche and will undoubtedly be here another decade later.

So what better way to celebrate your resilience than to have a couple of the ‘deebee’ scene’s elder statesmen come in and make a DJ mix for you? Well, perhaps allowing someone from the new school to represent the ‘current’ set is one possibility, but that’s just a niggling observation. Andy C has proven quite capable of hanging with the young cats.

Anyhow, Andy gets to do the ‘Upfront’ disc, and upfront it is indeed. Right up front in your mutha-fuckin’ face! With that danj’a danj’a bass! Er... sorry about that. Listening to this gets me super-hyped, that’s all. The energy in Andy’s set is fast, furious, intense, manic, insane, and plenty more adjectives describing wicked crazy nuts.

Put in more stoic terms, disc one is simply fun jungle to have on. Although there is plenty feasting for the ears should you so desire, it kind of defeats the purpose of a set like this to only treat it that way; lounging in a sofa with headphones doesn’t do this set justice. Catchy vocal samples, frenetic beats, aggressive basslines, pleasing hooks: all winning ingredients for madcap parties. And unlike many jungle sets which tend to get samey-sounding due to unwavering rhythms, Andy keeps this one fresh with plenty of unique percussion arrangements, even at times throwing different time signatures into the works. I pity the house-head who attempts to dance to this.

Okay, so this is by no means a great jungle set. It does at times teeter off the rails with different styles of drum ‘n’ bass crashing into one another. Some of Andy’s DJ tricks don’t quite mesh. For a set claiming to be ‘upfront’, some songs are rather old. And similarly, I’m sure trainspotting junglists will bemoan about played out tracks (do trainspotters ever talk about anything else though?). These are all points one should take into consideration but if such factors don’t bother you, this is a solid set and should satisfy the dedicated and casual alike.

Of course, what point is there in looking back in the past with an anniversary release unless you also include a good ol’ ‘Classics’ set too? Well, perhaps the fact another classic d’n’b set is redundant in this industry, but that’s just a niggling observation. Grooverider has proven quite capable of giving the goldie oldies a proper rinsing on many occasions.

Anyone with a passing familiarity with jungle will recognize tons of tracks here. Valley Of Shadows, Champion Sound, Cutslo, Threshold, Alien Girl (also heard in a mash-up on the first disc, no less), The Lighter, The Warning: if you’re a junglist but don’t know these, then you fail, poseur. Heh, I kid, of course. I’ve yet to meet a junglist who doesn’t have a firm grasp on his scene’s history. Other EDM scenes could stand to learn from that.

For the most part, the ‘Rider sticks to that ominous, methodical form of jungle known as darkcore/step which was very popular with the less-mainstream crowds in the mid-90s. While far less frenetic than the stuff Andy C provided on his disc, it’s nonetheless great to listen to and chugs along at a good pace. He also throws in some older cuts when the genre was still in its hardcore roots, plus a token nod to the always manic ragga style at the end. All in all, it’s a well-crafted set but will probably be best enjoyed if you don’t have many of these tracks already floating around in your collection.

I suppose you’ve noticed this review doesn’t have a terribly serious tone to it. That’s because 10 Years isn’t a release that needs a thought-out analysis. It is, if anything, a self-congratulatory pat on the back by the Arena, and if you wish to join in the festivities, you’re more than welcome to. There’s not much new to find here but if you could use a couple more DJ mixes of old and new jungle, Andy’s and ‘Rider’s sets won’t disappoint.

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

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Wu-Tang Clan - 8 Diagrams

Universal Motown: 2007

RZA was scoring movies. GZA was rapping about cars. Method Man was more interested in acting. Raekwon was holding out on the album everyone wanted from him. Masta Killa had a surprisingly solid debut though, and Ghostface was flying high, but overall, things weren't looking so hot for the Wu-Tang Clan. Then ODB died, and folks wondered if that would be the final wound that would end the hip-hop juggernaut. Fools. This, above all else, was the rallying cry to bring the Clan back together, in honour of their fallen brother. Proving all their doubters wrong that their time had passed probably wasn't a bad motivator either.

They had to find themselves in a bit of a pickle though. Hip-hop was a far different beast in the year 2007 compared to their '90s heyday. Crunk was now the hottest shit on the market. Meanwhile, Kanye West had almost single-handily put gangsta' rap to rest after beating 50 Cent in their duel of market supremacy (the infamous Graduation - Curtis showdown). Did the Wu have anything fresh on offer in this new world?

The RZA certainly did, in that he'd amassed an arsenal of instruments, offering more creative freedom than he'd ever had before. There's still funk and soul samples throughout 8 Diagrams, but unlike days of old where they'd be looped over a twitchy beat, there's more freeform funk going on here as instruments strut their stuff. It was a significant step forward in RZA's songcraft, though not everyone was entirely on board with it, Ghostface and Raekwon especially vocal about their concern over this change of musical direction for the Clan.

I can understand why. Musically, 8 Diagrams is a creative album, with plenty of strange, warped twists and turns of funk and soul coming at you. Unfortunately, it kinda' overshadows what the actual MCs of Wu-Tang bring to the table. Everyone sounds fine and all, some members more fired than their solo stuff (Method Man, Deck), though lacking much evolution in their usual topics of street tales, battle-raps, and livin' large. Plus, the bangers on this album don't go as hard as some of their classic material, tracks like Rushing Elephants and Wolves oddly muted for the energy they're trying to generate. The only time things get proper-Wu hard is Stick Me For My Riches, where Mathematics brings southern bounce to the party. Also, with so much musical exploration on RZA's part, the album doesn't really coalesce into anything more than an assemblage of tracks for their own sake. Aside from proving they were still kicking it, there's no real 'statement' being made about hip-hop at large by the Wu-Tang Clan here, as so many had expected

Ultimately though, 8 Diagrams is worth having just for the final track, Life Changes. Here, the Wu offer their final farewell to the deceased Russel Jones, one of the most heartbreaking pieces of hip-hop I've ever heard. You just ain't human if you don't feel something welling up from this song.

Gravediggaz - 6 Feet Deep

Gee Street: 1994/1997

It was the late '90s that I got into hip-hop proper-like, Wu-Tang Clan leading the way. Little did I realize that a seed had been planted for that interest a few years prior, with the Gravediggaz debut, the second rap album I ever bought. I wasn't after anything deep or conscious, y'see, but all the crazy, humorous, horror lyricism and super-funky beats of 1-800-Suicide and Defective Trip caught my ear like little other hip-hop music at the time. That's probably how most 'non rap-fans' buy their first rapping records, something that's more a novelty than anything reflective of the culture. Like Beastie Boys doing the cock-rock fusion thing, or blatant smut-rap like 2 Live Crew, or a 'nerdcore' outing from MC Frontalot, or a comedy offering from Lonely Island. Some may dig deeper from those entry points, but for most such 'themed rap' allows folks to dig on hip-hop without getting caught up in the scene's broader topics.

That's all I really cared about going into Gravediggaz. I had no clue that the group contained two of the biggest producers residing on the Eastcoast at the height of their creative powers: Prince Paul and The RZA. Hell, I didn't even know who these guys were when I bought 6 Feet Deep, much less the legacy they'd created in but a few short years. I only clued in to the Wu-Tang connection after listening through The RZA Hits, and realized “Oh! The RZArector. I thought he sounded familiar.” Also, how was Diary Of Madman not on The RZA Hits? Yeah, that compilation was mostly about Wu-Tang highlights, but damn if that single doesn't deserve being considered in conversation of all-time classic, creepy RZA productions.

To this day, it boggles my mind that Paul and RZA not only teamed up so early in their careers, added another pair of relatively unknown MCs in Poetic (The Grym Reaper) and Arnold Hamilton (The Gatekeeper) to the project, but that they'd indulge in the ultra-niche 'horrorcore' genre in doing so. Aside from Bushwick Bill's 'Chuckwick' alias, no one was doing this kind of stuff. RZA's movie influences though, they must have extended beyond old-timey chop-socky kung-fu flicks. Maybe a little Tales From The Crypt comics on the side.

And if the topics of bad ghetto trips, ultra-violent demonic possessions, hanging tabernacles from testicles, and suggesting various methods of suicide are just a tad too out there for your sensibilities, you cannot deny the music on hand is top-grade shit. Prince Paul handles most of the beats in 6 Feet Deep, running through sample-heavy funk, off-kilter soul, and headbangin' boom-bap (Bang Your Head, appropriately enough). Meanwhile, RZA's shouty maniacal rapping, Grym's smooth flow, and Gatekeeper's gruff voice all play wonderfully off each other (Paul mostly sticks to the producer's roll). This album is equal parts grim-dark and hilarious as fuck, without ever falling into parody like so much 'horrorcore' often does. Only a right prude couldn't get into this album on some level.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Hieroglyphics - 3rd Eye Vision

Hiero Imperium: 1998

Basically mandatory listening for anyone who figures themselves a 'true hip-hop head', though I wonder just how much weight such a proclamation carries in this day and age. Back in the '90s, the Hieroglyphics crew were one of the most respected underground collectives you could find. They were rappers who flirted with major labels, even found some minor success with them, but never compromised their integrity for that easy crossover money. They were thus dropped and forced them to go proper independent before they could release an actual debut with everyone involved.

3rd Eye Vision wasn't just the culmination of the years of hard work put in by Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Souls Of Mischief, Domino, and Pep Love, but a mission statement that underground hip-hop could succeed on its own terms, supported by hardcore fans, with no major label backing sullying your vision. You had to work to find this music, and would be rewarded with hip-hop of greater class than what was polluting the charts. Heck, I only came upon this as a special request order in the music shop I worked for in the Canadian hinterlands, though the dude who wanted it couldn't pay the $30 for it. Me though, I had no problem snagging that CD for myself, after which the guy was quite sore about, but yo', I gave him a month to come through. Shit's too dope to just sit on our shelves unloved.

Of course, finding such music is now easy-peasy, so claiming righteous 'backpacker' cred in owning 3rd Eye Vision's a moot point. And as hip-hop has morphed and changed in the two decades since this dropped, does there remain much interest and necessity for an underground classic sporting some of the best MCs out of Oakland riding mint beats and jazz-funk samples while taking to task a culture long since removed from dated gangsta' tropes? Oh, you know that answer is a 'yes'!

The posse anthems - You Never Knew, The Who, Off The Record - are as earwormy as anything you might have heard from other rap collectives, each Hiero member proving just how part and parcel they are to the whole. Not that each MC doesn't get their own chance to shine solo though, each member given an eponymous short tracks to spit some bars scattered throughout the album. Hell, Del kinda' gets two such tracks, At The Helm a classic Funkee Homosapien sounding-off cut that ranks up with any of his best work.

While the album does run a tad long at twenty-one tracks, you feel it's warranted with so many skilled lyricists on hand. Heck, they probably could have done the double-LP deed, but considering every hip-hop artist was bloating the scene with such efforts, keeping things at a tight, sharp regular LP length was best. Get in, prove your point, get out, and reap the rewards as the hip-hop community celebrates your triumphant statement that underground rap could flourish in the new millennium. At least until crunk ruined everything.

Corderoy & U4IC DJ's - 3 Spirit (Original TC Review)

SPX Digital: 2009

(2018 Update:
Did I rush this one out back in the day? My saved file doesn't have an
IN BRIEF, nor the usual copywrite tag assigned to all TranceCritic reviews. I suppose I could use the WayBackMachine to find out, but eh, who really cares at this point what my Brief Byline was. Probably something generic, like so much trance was that year. Not this tune though, it stood out enough for me to scope a few more singles from SPX Digital after. Didn't hurt they were sending them to me as free promos either.

As producers, Dan Apps and Phil Collins (no, not that one) pretty much fall from the face of Lord Discog's records after this, but Corderoy's kept himself busy. He launched his own label called CDRY, has collaborated with a couple prominent names in this scene (Mike Koglin, Judge Jules), and released a steady clip of singles on various, respected prints like High Contrast, Enhanced, Perfecto... wait, didn't I just say he has his own label? Come to think of it, there's no mention of it in Discogs either, beyond his bio blurb. Guess it didn't turn out.)



Corderoy then. Ever heard of him? Probably so, (and it was Corduroy that J’ had previously covered, in case you’re wondering) as the brothers had a minor hit way back in 2003 with their single Sweetest Dreams. Like so many producers that breakout with a hit, however, they never managed to repeat that success, releasing singles in the time being without much fanfare. Along the way, the brother named Dale crossed paths with a duo by the name U4IC DJs. Comprised of Dan Apps and Phil Collins (to my knowledge, no relation to Phil Collins), the new-formed trio have decided now is a great time to start up a net label called SPX Digital. Which brings us to their second digital single titled 3 Spirit. Goodness, but is this ever a dry intro.

That’s kind of the problem here, though. The very names ‘Corderoy’ and ‘U4IC DJs’ come across as rather dry; they certainly aren’t names that leap out at you when on a tracklist. Heck, we even had a recent Corderoy tune cross TranceCritic’s path a year and a half ago, and I’m sure no one noticed it (J’ certainly didn’t, at least not enough to single it out). And to be honest, this trio’s brand of trance isn’t exactly the kind to grab your attention either, as it’s so easily lost in the glut of yearly releases. If you’re familiar with the energetic brand of uplifting trance that tends to bubble just under the surface of the playlists of your typical Tiestin van Schulzenyonds, then you’ll be familiar with 3 Spirit’s tone.

Fortunately, this track does have a few things working in its favor, such that it just might make more of an impact should it be placed in a trance set properly (re: not mashed in with a string of similarly-structured tunes). The beats are suitably driving; the lead hook is a subtle bleepy thing with just enough off-beat quirk to lodge in your head; the uplifting strings that keep reaching for the lasers at the climax are just classy enough to not have your eyes roll into your head; and, most important, the breakdown is kept rather short, with an actual beat used in the following build so you’re not left standing around waiting for the action to return for long. About the only proper complaint to be had with 3 Spirit is how over-produced the climax sounds, with unnecessary side-chaining gumming things up; it isn’t to the cartoonish extremes Carl B’s been known to go, mind, but is there nonetheless.

The remixes are a well-rounded bunch, with their own series of plusses and minuses. Friend of U4IC and long-time associate of John Flemming, Steve Birch cranks the energy of 3 Spirit up a notch, letting the bleepy hook rather than the uplifting strings dictate the direction of his remix; there’s even less time for breakdowns here, which is good, but Birch really abuses the attack and delay washes, drowning much of the track in gratuitous effects. Ben Gold, meanwhile, cuts out the crap with his ’Raw’ remix, offering a banger of a tech-track; featuring a killer lead synth that simply kicks you in the kunt and the bleepy lead in support, there’s actually nothing wrong with this remix. Finally, Beta Blokka opts for a housier route, establishing a blissy atmospheric mood with subtle pads. This was actually looking to be my favorite remix out of the bunch, but is sadly undone by their choice of bassline, a kind of silly, muted, speed-garage farty thing that clashes horribly with the benign nature of the pads. I can dig on the attempt to give the track some ‘deep bass’ menace, but not when it uses corny out-of-sync ‘wobbles’.

Overall, this is a decent trance single. While I can’t see it getting Corderoy to be remembered for more than a breakout single, much less lighting the scene on fire, competent DJs of the genre should get some worthy mileage out of 3 Spirit.

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

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Euphoria - 2 Days Away

Bipolar Music: 1994

Sticking with the ultra-obscure material, we are. Not as obscure as a 'proper' attempt at a DJ mix CD from yours truly, but I'm apparently the only dude on Discogs who has a copy. Except for 'tripleaardvark', who uploaded the album to the Lord's archives, and is looking to offload it for forty bones. That's thirty-one Liberty Dollars, or twenty-two pounds of Sterling – a surprising amount of money, is what I'm saying, for something I'm sure almost no one outside the Vancouver district has heard of. Hell, I only got it as part of another person's CD collection, and when you agree to take one CD of theirs, you agree to take them all. That is the Rule, right?

I'm not sure how this person ended up with such an album to begin with – friend of a friend of a family member, perhaps? Euphoria (the thirty-eighth iteration of the handle according to Lord Discogs) is comprised of Andrew Duncan and Greg Kisser. Mr. Kisser has gone on to be a CBC TV director, while on the side playing out classic bar rock in the band Curds & Whey. Couldn't find much regarding Mr. Duncan though, Google revealing a few Vancouverites with such a name, a couple with obituaries.

Whatever the case, this 2 Days Away album doesn't seem to have much to do with where these musicians ended up, save the same level of instrument skill they brought to whatever project they've done (I'm assuming it's more than this). Despite Mr. Kisser's current rock contributions, this is absolutely not a rock album. If the cover art had you thinking New Age, you're on the right path, though it's not quite in that scene either. Aside from a few songs, most of these tracks have that late-'80s to early-'90s soft jazz, muzak sheen to it. The hall-effect drum kits, the ultra-crisp piano and guitar tones, the flat production that has you feeling like you're listening to jingles while being put on hold from overseas call centres. Certainly this isn't the fault of Misters Kisser and Duncan, as the studio they made this album in - Dynamic Sound Production, according to the liner notes – apparently specialized in exactly that!

Aside from vaporwave sorts looking for more sounds to plunder, I can't see many folks getting down to Euphoria's 2 Days Away. Still, there are a couple notable tunes on here in how they at least attempt something more than soft jangle muzak. The titular cut is comparatively ambitious with chill Balearic vibes, ethnic chants, and samples of folks anticipating events two days away (new job, retirement, DISNEYLAND!). Memories is a pleasant enough piece of piano ambient with subtle pads, rainfall, and sounds of someone struggling at the writer's desk. Boardwalk is just sounds of folks playing a board game, while Chance And Thyme gets funky with its beatcraft. Well, about as funky as you'd expect from two Vancouver guys making muzak destined for late-late night weather reports.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Various - (~)

(~): 2000

TRACK LIST:
1. Delerium - Heaven's Earth
2. S.E.T.I. - Mare Crisium
3. One Dove - Transient Truth
4. Bindu - Light At Heart
5. Deep Forest - Twosome
6. Influx - Dreamscape
7. Lore Carson & Graeme Revell - Fall In The Light
8. Banco de Gaia - Touching The Void
9. Banco de Gaia - 144K?
10. Rhythm Method - Goa: Season Of The Monsoon
11. Young American Primitive - Expanding
12. Pentatonik - Movements: Part 2

This was my first attempt at an actual DJ mix CD, and boy howdy did I ever go gonzo with its presentation. Fancy fonts, super-slick paper, pretentious liner notes, plus multiple copies to hand out to friends and family. For I had a tool in my (roommate's) possession that would allow me to craft a collection of music on par with the Northern Exposures and Global Undergrounds of the world: a cracked copy of ProTools! Of course, I didn't know much about the software to do a whole heck of a lot with it, but it was enough to make long, lengthy mixes such as I'd never been capable of in my way early efforts with live CD mixing (before turntable mimicking jog wheels were much of a thing).

As I've not become some expert, famed creator of globally recognized mix CDs, this obviously didn't turn out as I'd envisioned. A glance at the track list is a good indication why. The idea was to tell a story, with each track a distinct chapter, alternating between uplifting and melancholic moods. In trying to appeal to two audiences (friends and family), however, I left both confused and uninterested with my effort.

The obscure, underground ambient techno sounds from S.E.T.I., One Dove, Influx, and Young American Primitive was too unfamiliar for the family folk, while my peers were disappointed by the inclusion of so many 'poppy' offerings from Delerium, Deep Forest, Lore Carson, and Bindu. Maybe it wasn't such a hot idea to sequence them in an “up-down-up-down” fashion. Maybe it would have worked if I'd had a larger library of music at my disposal. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

So while some choices are naff (really, Year 2000 Sykonee, two songs in a row from The Magical Sounds Of Banco de Gaia?), there are a couple clever moments too. I'll defend the mix between Twosome and Dreamscape to the day I die, plus that hard cut from Goa: Season Of The Monsoon into Expanding works great after teasing the YAP cut throughout Rhythm Method's build. And since my copy of the Strange Days soundtrack was lost in the Great Pawning Of 2002, this remains my only outlet in hearing that lovely tune Fall In The Light that closed the movie out. Holy cow, was that ever a great soundtrack. I should buy it again. Can't be more than a couple dimes on the used market these days.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

So I Set Up A Patreon



Clicky here to check it out!

I'm under no delusion that this will become a significant source of income. The purpose of my Patreon is to open up options for requests. While I'm fine with folks sending me material, it's also a little limiting to those who can actually afford it. This method shares the financial burden, so it's not completely on the requestor's part to buy and ship music to me.

Tiers are as follows:

$5 Donation: Request A Review.
Self explanatory. Request will be slotted as per my usual alphabetical stipulation.

$10 Donation: Request A Review, Plus Skip The Queue!
That's right. Your request gets slotted to the front of the line, alphabetical stipulation be damned!

$50 Donation: Request A Discography.
Reviews of an artist's album discography! This can include acts that I haven't reviewed yet (ie: Orbital, Autechre, Tupac, Metallica, etc.), or rounding out those I've only touched upon. Requested artist discography has to contain at least 3 LPs, with a max of 10 LPs requested (sorry, Merzbow fans). This is also open to DJ mixes.

Of course, all requests are subject to availability of requested items. My preferred sources are Bandcamp and Amazon (.ca, as shipping from .com or .co.uk is stoopid expensive), though have no problem using the Discogs Marketplace if the price is reasonable enough (<$30). CD also remains preferred, but if a digital version is more financially practical or simply the only option, I'll go with that. Also, the release must have an entry at Discogs, so no Soundcloud demo exclusives or some-such.

Since most folks are likely only interested in one request, you only have to contribute to the Patreon for the one month the request is given, after which you'll have to remove it once paid out. If you're interested in more than one request, however, simply keep your Patreon going and you can request a new item in the new month.

However, some you may just want to donate for the sake of it (!!). Patreon tells me that I should include exclusive content for such Patreons, so I've set up some Goals too, reviving a former feature in the process. Yes, it's a return of Spotify Suggestions!

Each week, Spotify creates a 30-track Discover playlist, providing songs and artists close to my listening tastes that I haven't really dug into. It's yielded some interesting offerings, and a handy way of nudging me out of my comfort zone. I've thought about doing Mini-Reviews of these, but never got around to it, so focused on the main stuff as I've been. Still, it could make for a nice little Patreon bonus, so let's go with that. Goals are thus as follows:

$10/month: mini-reviews of the first 5 songs from my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist, posted every Sunday.

$50/month: mini-review limit increased to 10 songs from my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist.

$100/month: mini-review limit increased to 20 songs from my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist.

$200/month: mini-reviews of all 30 songs from my Spotify Discovery Weekly playlist.


There, I think that covers it all. Again, I'm not expecting much out of this, but at least it's there for those who are interested. Seems a waste to not use these tools that are available to content creators, no matter how far-flung their corners of the interwebs may be.

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 Andy C anecdotes Aniplex Anjunabeats 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 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 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 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 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 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 Electrovoya Elektra Elektrolux em:t EMC update EMI Eminem Emmerichk Emperor Norton Empire enCAPSULAte Engine Recordings Enigma Enmarta EP Epic epic trance Erased Tapes Records Eric Borgo Erik Vee Erol Alkan Escape Esoteric Reactive ethereal Etnica Etnoscope Euphoria euro dance eurotrance Eurythmics Eve Records Everlast Ewan Pearson experimental Eye Q Records F Communications Fabric Fade Records Faithless Falcon Reekon Fallen fanfic Fantastisizer 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 Huey Lewis & The News Human Blue Hybrid Hybrid Leisureland Hymen Records Hyperdub Hypertrophy hypnotic records I Awake I-Cube i! Records I.F.O.R. I.R.S. Records Iboga Records Ice Cube Ice H2o Records ICE MC IDM Igorrr illbient Imperial Dancefloor Imploded View In Charge In Trance We Trust Incoming Incubus indie rock Industrial Infected Mushroom Infinite Guitar influence records Infonet Inner Ocean Records Insane Clown Posse Inspectah Deck Instinct Ambient Instra-Mental Inter-Modo Interchill Records Internal International Deejays Gigolo Interscope Records Intimate Productions Intuition Recordings ISBA Music Entertainment Ishkur Ishq Island Records Islands Of Light Italians Do It Better italo disco italo house Item Caligo J-pop Jack Moss Jacob Newman Jafu Jam and Spoon Jam El Mar James Blake James Horner James Murray James Zabiela Jamie Jones Jamie Myerson Jamie Principle Jamiroquai Javelin Ltd. Jay Haze Jay Tripwire Jaydee jazz jazz dance jazzdance jazzstep Jean-Michel Jarre Jefferson Airplane Jerry Goldsmith Jesper Dahlbäck Jiri.Ceiver Jive Jive Electro Jliat Jlin Joel Mull Joey Beltram John '00' Fleming John Acquaviva John Beltran John Digweed John Graham John Kelly John O'Callaghan John Oswald John Shima Johnny Cash Johnny Jewel Jonny L Jori Hulkkonen Jørn Stenzel Josh Wink Journeys By DJ™ LLC Joyful Noise Recordings Juan Atkins juke Jump Cut jump up Jumpin' & Pumpin' jungle Junior Boy's Own Junkie XL Juno Reactor Jurassic 5 Kaico Kay Wilder KDJ Ken Ishii Kenji Kawai Kenny Glasgow Keoki Keosz Kerri Chandler Kevin Braheny Kevin Yost Kevorkian Records Khooman Khruangbin Ki/oon Kid Koala Kiko Kinetic Records King Cannibal King Midas Sound King Tubby Kitaro Klang Elektronik Klaus Schulze 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 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 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 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 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 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 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. 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 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 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 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 Yello Yes Youth Youtube YoYo Records Yul Records Zenith ZerO One Zoharum Zomby Zoo Entertainment ZTT Zyron ZYX Music µ-Ziq