Sunday, December 15, 2019

David Bridie - Act Of Free Choice

EMI: 2000

(a Patreon Request from Omskbird)

I won't deny, I'm feeling torn over where to take this review. The normal, traditional, expectant thing is to write up my version of a biographical Wiki regarding David Bridie's career, with some detailing of the music within this album. Yet, I feel compelled to dive deeper into the album's title, Act Of Free Choice. This is no simple play on words as a record shop eye-catcher, but an actual, significant event, so-called with the bitter taste of irony on one's tongue.

Granted, it's not something many folks will know about, but if you know your Indonesian politics, it's pretty significant. Why yes, I've had more than a passing interest in the history of the archipelago nation. At first it was just a geological aspect, primarily the famous 1883 Krakatau event, then the region's other various massive volcanoes and eruptions. Then you learn more about the people who live there, their histories, the colonial history, and so on and so on.

Cutting centuries of story short, when the newly-formed Indonesian country gained its independence and started rounding up the thousands of distinct island cultures into one, unified nation, New Guinea was something of a hold-out. Highly abbreviating the circumstance, the vote to join Indonesia was held by some one-thousand people supposedly and specifically selected by the Indonesian military, making the unanimous decision seem a little queer in just how much of an 'act of free choice' the vote really was. It's a dispute that persists to this day, with indigenous folks to the island still protesting for their independence from Indonesia.

Thus, it's no small coincidence Mr. Bridie would choose such a title for his debut album. Indeed, he's among a small number of Australian musicians who show no qualms about getting political with their art (hi, Midnight Oil!), especially when it concerns the plights of downtrodden cultures in their region of the world. That all said, I can't claim that Act Of Free Choice is super explicit in its depictions of this issue. In fact, many these songs just as easily interpreted as reflections of one's sombre mood at any given time of depression. I'd have to study the lyrics more to be certain, but only a couple of these songs have lyrics posted (that I can find). And to be honest, this is such a melancholic album, I'm not sure I want to spend much time with it anyway.

For sure Mr. Bridie is a good song-writer with a delicate touch in uses of sparse piano, echoing guitars, and dramatic orchestral swells. When there are rhythms driving things forward, they're mostly the sort of uptempo trip-hop beats you'd find used in soundtracks (which makes sense, given David's ample body of score work). It all sounds very rich and artful, but just brings my whole mood down after listening to it. Not in a savoury sort of way either. Can you blame me for being more drawn to the historical context of the album's title? Other people's issues are easier to deal with than my own.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Swollen Members - Balance

Battle Axe Records: 1999

I don't always look back on my time working a little music shop in the hinterlands of British Columbia in the best of lights (so bored, so little pay...), but I do appreciate it expanding my pre-Audio Galaxy music consumption. Ordering in all the electronic music I wanted was no small thing, and it wasn't long before my peers came to me with requests as well. This eventually drew the attention of connoisseurs of other genres, particularly underground hip-hop. For sure they helped me clue into Wu-Tang Clan and OutKast, but without these folks asking for acts like Hieroglyphics or Jurassic 5, where would my rap knowledge be? Not terribly good, I wager.

Swollen Members was another such unknown entity. I'm sure a number of my Canadian brethren are wondering, how can that be? For a time, the group helmed by Mad Child and Prevail was one of the biggest rap acts in the country, only ceding their time at the top when Drake came along as the New Canadian Hotness. This is true, but before their big break with the album Bad Dreams, they debuted with this record, Balance. And as the current Top Canadian Rap Act was then Rascalz, Swollen Members had to bide their time in the underground. For there can be only one Canadian Rap Act in the public eye at any given time. I honestly have no idea how or why this is so, I just know it to be so.

In any event, I doubt Swollen Members could have become an overnight sensation even if they wanted to. Their style was always heavy on themes of the occult, not exactly mainstream friendly, and rather fringe even back in the '90s. It honestly still boggles my mind that an act that had Mad Child rapping about witches and demons would go on to have any radio play, but then I suppose Rascalz weren't doing so hot, and Canada needed something to fill their One (1) Popular Rap Act quota. Balance generated more than enough buzz to get record execs looking.

For a young white dude with some dorky traits, hearing another white dude rap about dorky things while in the presence of dope-as-fuck rappers like Del Tha Funkee Homosapein, Everlast, and Dilated Peoples, producers like The Alchemist, plus scratch masters like Mix Master Mike and Kut Masta Kurt, you bet this was right up my alley! Not that this is some horrorcore schlock, Swollen Members sticking to most traditional 'backpacker' rap topics about how lyrically dope they are and all good stuff. They just use unconventional metaphors, is all, with moody, minimalist beats, pianos, guitars, strings, and chants to back them up. The only time this album gets 'fun' is on the Del cut Left Field, which sounds like a tune from one of his own albums, Swollen Members guesting.

And yet, despite quite liking Balance, I never followed this group after. Sadly, Canadian over-hype has a way of sullying a good thing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Various - Backspin: A Six Degrees Ten Year Anniversary Project (Original TC Review)

Six Degrees: 2007

(2019 Update:
I wonder if 2007 Sykonee would have been so critical of gatekeeping if he'd known that electronic music would blow up to the degree it did half a decade later? My larger point in the pre-amble ramble was pop music needn't be so shunned by the techno underground, but considering the sort of obnoxious bilge that
did break through into America - not to mention the usual slop constantly hitting it high in European charts - my wish for a little more acceptance of popular sounds shouldn't have been taken upon a monkey's paw. And was kind of a moot point anyway where this compilation was concerned. Yeah, the original artists being covered here were generally chart toppers, but the selected songs for covering were hardly their biggest hits. Heck, some of them may not have charted at all.

Also, I'd love to see this concept revisited. Would be interesting to see what the current generation of wordly musicians consider their influences of the past three decades.)

IN BRIEF: The old is new again.

Before I start, I feel I should warn you the following review contains musical philosophizing. If you haven’t the time to indulge in my pseudo-intellectual rambling, then here’s the bottom line regarding this release: it’s good. Really good. Check it out. You won’t regret it!

Alright then? Let’s get into it.

Electronic music, for the most part, is typically regarded as non-mainstream. Aside from brief bursts of trendy pop dance hitting the airwaves, most of it is only enjoyed by a select few (in America, anyway). As a result, a sense of pretentiousness has been bred in its fans. The pursuit of underground purity permeates many scenes, even those who could very easily have crossed over had some events been different. This has led to an outright dismissal of anything with a hint of pop. The assumption is if it’s catchy, it must have been manufactured for a wider audience, thus no longer credible within the realms of the indie. What a load of bull.

Granted, a great deal of pop music is manufactured, with the sole intention of placing in the charts as high on street date as possible. But believing every song that does is ridiculous. Fact is plenty of musicians can hit upon a good song the general public enjoys and, with just the right amount of promotion, become a hit. In this age of Everything-Available-All-The-Time, a single spreading through the internet can secure success far better and credibly than thousands of PR dollars pumped into the industry.

Alas, the gut reaction of scensters to ignore good songs that become popular persists. So here’s an intriguing question: what if these popular songs hadn’t made it, and had initially been performed by obscure indie names like Ojos de Brujo or The Real Tuesday Weld? Would such folk enjoy them in that context then?

Okay, okay. This isn’t really the premise behind Six Degrees Records' new compilation. In actual fact, Backspin is a ten year anniversary project for the eclectic label. However, rather than rounding up a bunch of their biggest hits, Six Degrees instead got members of their roster to do covers of their influential songs. But in doing so, it does raise that question, doesn’t it?

Well, maybe not. Perhaps I was the only one to even think of it. It was something that crossed my mind when I saw songs on here originally written by names like Abba and The Beach Boys. Credible names to a degree, sure, but frankly often dismissed by the underground.

Anyhoo, that’s all beside the point. What matters here is whether these cover versions are worth your attention. In a word, yes.

In more than a word, the mark of a good cover is to take a familiar song and make it your own while still honoring what made the original an enduring tune to begin with. And here Backspin certainly succeeds.

Many of the producers here stick to the original arrangements for the most part, but often throwing their own sound into the mix. So Bob Marely’s Get Up Stand Up turns into a fun bit of latin music courtesy of Ojos de Brujo, Herbie Hancock’s Rockit gets organically jazz-housed up by dZihan & Kamien, and MIDIval PunditZ crank the orchestral arrangements up on Led Zeppelin’s Four Sticks.

Elsewhere though, songs are given completely different re-imaginings. For instance, who’d have ever thought the ABBA italo-ballad The Day Before You Came could have been interpreted as a kind of smokey lounge tune sung by a guy probably wearing a beret? The Real Tuesday Weld did.

Of course, there are plenty of other examples I could dwell on, but part of the fun in this compilation is discovering what surprises these musicians throw at you. Here’s a few tidbits that caught my interest:

- Shrift’s take on God Only Knows really turns this tune into a weepy. The original was so bouncy that I had never even considered the lyrics could be this depressing.

- Toby Marks (Banco de Gaia) seems to still be having fun with his vocoder.

- Spirits In The Material World has notoriously been known to be a difficult song to cover, as the arrangements are deceptively complicated. Good on Karsh Kale to have a go.

- Los Mocosos’ cumbia go at The Bed’s Too Big Without You is a hoot!

So a wrap up then? Backspin is a lot of fun, period. While the wide range of musical types may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the fact they wrap familiar pop in these unique styles should keep even the least adventurous intrigued. Seek it out and get reacquainted with old standbys.

Written by Sykonee for, 2007 All rights reserved

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Various - Back To Mine: The Orb

DMC: 2003

Sure is a nice coincidence that the alphabetical order of my Back To Mine CDs is also in chronological order.

Folks who came around to the series later in its run may have noticed something different about the first couple I've covered. Indeed, when DMC launched Back To Mine, the cover art wasn't too distinctive from many other DJ-featuring compilations out there. Sure, Warren and Seaman were lounging in comfy chairs, while Tenaglia and Armada had cute little lights, but it still felt run-of-the-mill where chill-out CDs were concerned.

Following Faithless' entry, however, DMC commissioned illustrator Tommy Penton to shake things up, giving Back To Mine its distinct, abstract comic look for many years after; I hated that look. Yeah, it was unique, which undoubtedly helped it stand out from overcrowded compilation racks, but gads, the artwork reminds me of bad lucid dreams, not at all feelings of being chill. Whatever happened to the soft, inviting mood lighting?

So I wasn't too keen on picking up more Back To Mines with the art change. Compounding things further was the fact Ultra Records lost the domestic distribution rights after the seventh (Morcheeba's, for the record), leaving DMC to handle it themselves. They... weren't very efficient at it, leading to few copies, if any, found on my local store shelves. And whenever one did happen by at those slightly inflated prices, always was I met with that butt-ugly cover art. You understand why I let the series pass me by, then.

Still, when I heard The Orb had been tapped to head up a Back To Mine, I knew I had to get my hands on that! The O.G. chill-out maestros, who's early sets were well known for unearthing all sorts of weird, blissy records of yesteryear, compiling a CD that's right up their lane? How could this fail? It could not, is how! No, Muzik Magazine and their middling 2/5 score had to be wrong. It... had to be good...!

Back To Mine was primarily billed as showing off one's personal collections, and you'd think chaps like Dr. Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann would have ludicrously deep crates to pull music from. And maybe compared to typical punters of the U.K., that's true, but I was stunned that I already had so many of these tracks in my own collection. Two Aphex Twin cuts, yep. Julee Cruise's go with Falling (aka: the Twin Peaks theme), uh huh. And why on Earth is Juno Reactor's Nitrogen Part 1 on here, and at the third position no less? Okay, Alex helped produce that, but no way does it fit as a 'chill-out' option.

The remaining selections are definitely an eclectic sort of stoner chill and indie-techno, but lacks much of a unifying theme to them. It's as though The Orb rounded up a pile of tracks they happened to like that given month, arranged them in alphabetical order, and called it a day. Who'd want to listen to something like that?

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Various - Back To Mine: Faithless

DMC/Ultra Records: 2000/2001

Tapping superstar DJs to helm a new compilation mix series is all well and good, but how many superstar chill-out DJs were there, really? The dudes from The Orb, Mixmaster Morris, and a couple others, probably. No, the truly famed acts within this scene remain the producers, and DMC was quick in steering their fresh Back To Mine outings towards the names responsible for creating the tracks heard all over downtempo discs and U.K. mall radios. Groove Armada was the first (because of course), followed by the somewhat surprising choice of Faithless. Yeah, the group was one of the biggest commercial successes at the time, and certainly their album material had plenty of laid-back tunes, but they were primarily known for their mega club anthems. Not exactly on the tips of everyone's earlobes when wanting to wind down, is what I'm getting at.

Still, Back To Mine wasn't intended for the typical punter demographic, and for folks who may have preferred Faithless songs like Flowerstand Man and Hour Of Need over God Is A DJ (*cough*), this would be right up their ally. For Rollo and Sister Bliss, who curated this collection of post-clubbing cuts, felt it a great chance to show off the dusty soul records in their libraries. Aaron Neville is here! Pauline Taylor is here! Tindersticks is here! Mazzy Star is here! Dido is here! Wait, Dido is soul? Well, Brit-soul, but yeah, of course Rollo's sister would be here. She even opens the whole set, though I cannot deny her soft, lonesome croon does create the perfect mood for where Faithless takes us after.

Right into Dusted's Childhood, and mang', let me tell you, this track alone sold me on the album that came out shortly after, enough to at least give it a curious listen. It's like, Faithless, but also not! And then I discovered it kinda' was! Oh, and don't worry, folks. Aside from using Sunday 8PM (from the album of the same name) as a transitional track later on, Rollo and Bliss are done with the self-promotion.

Elsewhere, the duo work in some deep house vibes (Marshall Jefferson's Mushrooms), some garage vibes (Adamski's Never Goin' Down), some funk vibes (Alex Gopher's The Child), and Balearic vibes (Bent's I Love My Man). Really, about the only tune that feels starkly out of place is Paperclip People's Throw, the Carl Craig tech-house jam rather abrasive and too darn long compared to everything else on here. Sure can't play that on the work radio, darn it all. But hey, what's a 'personal record showcase' without a cheeky tune or two? Speaking of, having a crusty, reggae-dub cover of Billie Jean as your capper is a most delectable bit of cheek indeed.

Clearly, I adore Faithless' contribution to Back To Mine, and find it one of the finest CDs of downtime music in my library. I eagerly awaited the next volume but unfortunately, things would go a little screwy with the series on my side of the pond.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Various - Back To Mine: Danny Tenaglia

DMC/Ultra Records: 1999/2000

The concept of the chill-out compilation had never been more fashionable as the last century drew to a close, but something was missing from it truly taking off to the next level. It was all well and good for labels to curate a clutch of tracks for after hours, but who were these label heads, really? Just some anonymous office folks, right? Well, no, not always, but when the major prints started getting their fingers into the clubbing culture pot, you couldn't help but glance at the proliferation of faceless DJ mixes sideways. Say what you will about Global Underground over-hyping their jocks, they at least gave the impression you were getting a particular individual's take on what they enjoyed out of dance music.

So the thinking went with Back To Mine, a chance to put some superstar DJ power behind a fresh new chill-out brand. And sure, give these popular club jocks a chance to share some of the overlooked gems deep in their crates, the tunes they'd never get to rinse in a regular outing. Well, not unless Sasha & Digweed's original concept for Northern Exposure hadn't been so quickly abandoned.

The first couple entries in this new series featured Nick Warren and Dave Seaman. No, Back To Mine wasn't financed by Global Underground, why do you ask? It wasn't long before these CDs were getting domestic releases in my half of the globe, so when I spotted the third volume helmed by Danny Tenaglia, I snatched that up post-haste. Finally, a DJ mix I could show off to my peers wherein all that downtempo stuff I'd buy is now officially proper-cool!

Kinda' hard to pull that off when your opening track is from The Gentle People though. For sure, I like it, and Danny makes a very compelling case for why he likes it in the liner notes. And besides, isn't Back To Mine all about showing off the tunes you like in favour of what's deemed cool or not? Absolutely! Still, unless you're completely in on the fondue, The Gentle People are a hard sell no matter the context. At least Mr. Tenaglia gives us his own jazzy, deep groover Loft In Paradise a couple tracks after.

Yeah, for a supposed 'chill-out' collection, Danny's Back To Mine is rather upbeat overall. Nothing relaxing about Bang The Party's Bang Bang You're Mine, while Ce Ce Peniston's Keep On Walkin' is a right peppy little number, as Ce Ce's tunes typically were. Elsewhere, Crescendo's Cairo takes the CD down a surprising, dusty world-beat road, but given the number of Latin and gospel influences in this set, why not some Arabian sounds too?

Despite not really keeping with the after-hours theme, Tenaglia's Back To Mine remains a nifty collection of tunes he'd likely never have a chance of rinsing out in the usual clubbing environments. Does make me wonder though, if he ever sneaked a couple in during Hour Seventeen of one of those twenty-hour marathon sets.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

ACE TRACKS: November 2019

Y'all may have noticed yet another missing week of content here this past month. Whatever excuse will I come up with this time? A surprise trip to the interior of my province? Computer crashing out? Mental faculties crashing out? All my spare time binge watching Neebs Gaming? None of the above, says I, for an entirely new project consumed my thoughts and efforts in that period: making the most challenging 'mixtape' I've ever crafted!

For obvious reasons, I don't get into what my Real World work is, but suffice to say, it's a national chain of commerce, and involves a lot of costumer service. Naturally, such a chain has its own satellite feed to provide in-store music, which can include Golden Oldies all the way up to modern pop hits. Store managers can 'select' how much of what type of music is played, but we're generally beholden to corporate's playlists. And though I've gotten my own small store this past summer to run as I see fit, I didn't tinker with the old feed, letting it sit in the background as the white noise its intended.

That all changed when the Christmas Music started.

Look, I get it why it's done, but c'mon! Not that early (right after Remembrance Day), and not that much (one in every five songs!). No, I wasn't having it. So, I worked out exactly how our speaker feeds were wired, and with a little pluck and ingenuity, found out how I could play an MP3 player of my own music on it. Oh, sweet! All the awesome electronic music in my library, now with an audience of... mostly older folks. Ah, hmm, maybe this wouldn't be so easy as I thought.

I quickly realized around 65-70% of the music I have is completely unplayable in a customer service setting of this nature. To be honest though, I think a hefty chunk of modern pop music also is completely unplayable for how obnoxious it gets, but that's another rant. No, I decided I would be respectful of our aged clientele, and I fortunately have plenty of old-timey music that's perfectly fine for speaker play. The Oak Ridge Boys! The Beach Boys! CCR! The Tragically Hip! The Beatles! The Police! '80s pop hits! Plus all that jazz music and surf rock I've gathered, both new and old, is inoffensive enough in such a setting. Heck, maybe even class the place up a little. And sure, a little Christmas music too, but sparingly, and only from sources I want to hear (The Oak Ridge Boys! The Beach Boys! Boney M! Vince Guaraldi Trio! Bing Crosby!)

Then I dug a little deeper into my library for the music that I completely neglect for how milquetoast it sounds. That's right Kon Kan and Tony Anderson Sound Orchestra, you're time to shine is nigh! And I can't forget you, Time Life Magazine compilations. Forget you though, Euphoria, and your call-waiting muzak jingles. Still, with enough 'acceptable' music on rotation, I can sneak in some material just a bit off the normal road, like overlooked Italo disco hits (radio edits only tho'), deep house, Solar Fields, Tiga, and Papua New Guinea.

It took some trial and error to prune it down to the point where I wasn't totally self-conscious about every single song that'd come on the speakers. I quickly realized putting in Utada Hikaru as a contemporary R&B option wasn't such a hot idea after all. Never mass export a 'chill-out' compilation until you've double-checked the contents of them! And though it pained me to admit it, there simply wasn't a single Banco de Gaia track that could make the cut. Still, 84 hours of music is plenty 'nuff, especially considering the regular store feed is about a quarter that length before looping.

I've had this custom playlist running for two weeks now, and have only had two 'complaints' about it. One was from Royksopp's Eple, which an old lady said sounded like being in a madhouse. Uh, oops, out you go then. The other was when one of the spare Christmas songs came on, and a customer did the November-standard gripe “Ugh, Christmas music already?” I feel ya', sister.

Meanwhile, here's the ACE TRACKS that came about from what I reviewed this past November. Some of them even made it onto the Work Playlist!

Full track list here.

Autumn Of Communion - Autumn Of Communion
Cosmic Replicant - Archive Of Signals
Wurrm - Apotropaic
Alien Community - Alien Community 2
Cosmic Replicant - After A Long Rain

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 0%
Percentage Of Rock: 15%
Most “WTF?” Track: Probably still anything from The Oak Ridge Boys, and how it relates to anything on this blog.

A smoother playlist than I anticipated, though it probably helps that most of the noodly ambient stuff is sequestered into Local Files. And hey, dark ambient's back! Just in time for the cold, black season too. Don't worry though, them B-52's and Bent are sure to put a smile on your face just the same.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Oak Ridge Boys - Back Home Again: Gospel Favorites

Gaither Music Group: 2012

There's been ripples in the timestream, by g'ar, of the word 'gospel' suddenly trending upon the prominent waves of tachyon particles even in my far future corner of the Fourth Dimension. Even from my vantage point in the year 2073, we feel it, as though something detonated in the past, causing an ever-lasting effect upon our culture, wherein 'gospel' was no longer regarded as a niche enjoyment by those of us within the comforting embrace of the Atomic Brotherhood. For some oddity, however, those residing within the domain of the Muricans haven't noticed it, or are actively ignoring it in all forms of denialism. Word goes should you inquiry them about this time-flux event, they enter a near catatonic state, uttering “Not my Ye'. Not my Ye'. Not my Ye'” Strange indeed.

Ani-hooteny, seems as fine-dandy an opportunity to bull my wax about The Oak Ridge Boys again, specifically their gospel output. Everything else'in that I've touched upon with those recordings came from their ancient catalogue, before the lads switched their sound to some fun stompin' country shindiggin's. Even after they turned international stars with half the roster changed, CD labels would recycle them original songs with original members for quick cash-ins. Th'ar be Joe Bonsall and his moustache on the cover, but sure-in that's Little Willie Wynn singing the soprano inside. After a time though, and their commercial clout receding like everyone's hairline after 2053, the Boys left the days of secular country jingles behind, singing some proper ol' good Christian music again. After another time, they'd flit between the two, even meshing 'em altogether-like.

That's about where we find the Boys with Back Home Again: Gospel Favorites. These aren't the staid-old ditties of olden-times, but up 'an jumpin' fun-time country jiggy-downs with Christian themes. For sure-in we all know the tale of Exodus, but have you heard it as a three-minute, spring-steppin hoe-humdinger as performed here in Led Out Of Bondage? I reckon not, if you've never heard Christian country before.

Mighty strangely though, I can't help but long for the older, pure gospel sorties The Oak Ridge Boys performed over these then-modern produced songs. There, the vocal harmonies were dominant, with the barest of organ, piano, or guitar in support. You could feel the humbling power of reverberating church halls in their voices, especially when given the best remastering process technology could afford (earnestly, the quality of Hymns & Songs, Volume II remains unmatched).

These recordings are almost too slick for their own good, with supporting musicians all up in your ears. Not to take away from the skills of Ben Isaacs (upright bass), Gordon Mote (piano), John Jarvis (piano), Steve Brewster (drums), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle & mandolin), Bryan Sutton (acoustic guitar), Kenny Greenberg (electric guitar), Kevin Williams (acoustic guitar), Jimmy Capps (acoustic guitar), and Ban-Joey (banjo), but the infamous Nashville Machine does have a tendency to strip the soul out of music. Mighty highly ironic, given the context of the music that's being performed.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Perturbator - B-Sides And Remixes, Vol. II

Blood Music: 2018

James Kent has been rather quiet on the production front these last few years. His last full-length record was The Uncanny Valley, released way back in 2016 (holy cow, does that year ever feel for so long ago now). The following year, it looked like he may have started taking his music in a different direction with the New Model EP, but nothing come from the Perturbator project since. For a chap who was releasing material at a blistering clip for half a decade, that's quite the drop-off in output, though I'm sure there's some reasonable reasons for it.

Like, that whole touring thing. Synthwave artists aren't exactly known as a globe-trotting lot, often dorky studio shut-ins cranking out some jams with softsynths. Heck, even using the word 'studio' is a stretch for many, a laptop about all one needs for some run-of-the-mill '80s nostalgia throwback tracks. Why yes, that under-produced quality is part of my vision, just like it sounded in that decade! Perturbator, however, had become such a star within that scene that he could actually take his music on the road and perform it live, even in my little corner of the planet. No way was I gonna' pass up a chance to see an actual synthwave producer perform, and while I was a tad disappointed the show didn't have a bunch of cool, retro videos playing out all the crazy concepts of his albums, the 1.21 gigawatts of lighting rig more than made up for visual splendour. Also, he brought a live drummer.

Anyhow, touring across the Earth (and beyond!(?)) leaves little time for studio work, so it's fine that there's been a larger than normal gap between albums from Mr. Kent. Still, that void needs filling, lest the fanbase grow testy and distracted by whatever new hotness emerges in the meantime. With the amount of material Perturbator had built up over the years, a 'best of' wouldn't be a bad idea, but James opted for that other stopgap choice, the 'miscellaneous' collection. We're talking b-sides, remixes, compilation-only tracks, and those few items that never saw any official release prior. And apparently, there was so much of this material in the Perturbator archives that it required two volumes! Yeah, that'll tide them folks over.

For some reason though, I only got myself Vol. II of this double release. I can only assume because I could only afford one at the time, and this cover looked the cooler of the two – can never get enough of that Night Riding Avenger motif. Blood Music's having another blowout sale though, so maybe I'll spring for Vol. I too.

Anyhow, this is about what you'd expect from and odds 'n' sods collection of Perturbator tracks. There's more darksynth cuts, a few theme remixes (yep, that's Halloween if I ever heard it), some space synth collaborations with Starforce, and one experimental static track that must have been included just for a larf. 'Bonus' indeed.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The B-52's - The B-52's

Warner Bros. Records: 1979

I never thought I'd get a The B-52's album. Like so many folks out there (so very many), my first contact with them was via their omnipresent late '80s hit Love Shack. And like everyone else, I loved the song, until I heard it too many times to the point I didn't really want to hear it again. I also recall Kate Pierson's guest spot on REM's Shiny Happy People as being the first time I realized there was such a thing as artist guest spots (“gosh, that lady singing in the chorus sure sounds like the lady singing in Love Shack!”). Following that, there was The Flintstones Theme, which forever marked the band to me as just some cheese-ball, cartoony throwback group. Which, well, was kinda' true, but Cynical Teenager Sykonee thought that a Bad Thing.

Fast forward many years (over a decade?), and I hear Rock Lobster on a classic rock station. And I thinks to myself, I thinks to myself I do, “Wait, is this the same group as who did Love Shack and Flintstones? How can that be, this tune's awesome!” Not that I rushed out to nab more of their music or anything, but it definitely forced a much-needed reassessment of their work, such that when Spotify Discovery discovered me another of their older tunes, I decided it was finally time to do the deed and dig into The B-52's discography proper-like.

While I know pretty nearly anyone reading this blog should know who The B-52's are, they may not know much about them prior to Love Shack (erm, like me, once). They started much earlier than that, forming in the late '70s, getting lumped in with that new wave of rock bands taking the music down roads yet adventured. Only, the five-piece didn't. Rather, they set their sights on rock music from its earliest days, after the rockabilly era, but prior to the Mersey beat era. Yes, I'm talkin' up that most wonderful vintage rock era of them all, the surf rock era!

I get why that style of guitar action had fallen by the wayside, a genre of music commonly associated with thoughts of preppy white kids getting into safe, society-acceptable hi-jinks. Just wasn't as sexy as the gritty greasers from which punk rock was getting its aesthetic from. Irony was on the cusp of musical birth though, and while they were quite sincere in their cribbing from white-crust Middle-Americana, one couldn't help but take The B-52's antics just a tad tongue-in-cheek.

Still, such sincerity makes their self-titled debut album the fun romp that it is. Not only did it trigger plenty of nostalgic endorphins for the Boomer sect, but posed the question of what such music would sound like if it took things an extra level. Rock Lobster was such a hit not just for its cartoony charm, but because it just keeps going! Imagine a Hanna-Barbara cartoon featuring Frankie Avalon on all the amphetamines. Oh, and the rest of the album's pretty cool too.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Autumn Of Communion - Autumn Of Communion

Fax +49-69/450464: 2012

I mentioned a few reviews back that I lucked out on a Discoggian source that had a mountain of Fax+ material, and this was what led me to it. Yes, in my never-ending hope that an affordable copy of Autumn Of Communion's debut album would eventually appear there, it finally happened! And not only that, but the seller had more, oh so much more! Was so tempted to crack open an RRSP for a ridiculous splurge, believe you me. What I got will suffice for now though. No need to be greedy with all these limited-run items, is there?

Of course, another reason I'm thankful/dumbfounded for the luck in finding this is that it assuages that lingering FOMO feeling in skipping out on the Autumn Of Communion box-set. I felt it a tad redundant picking that up when I already had some of the albums first-run, but who knew if any of their older works would make it to hard-copy at reasonable prices again, especially this. Not only is it the debut album from this long-lasting partnership between Lee Norris and Mick Chillage, but it's the final item released from Fax +49-69/450464, before Pete Namlook's passing forced the label to shutter doors. You'd think this would make Autumn Of Communion one of the biggest collector's items on the second-hand marketplace. Then again, the Fax+ community never was that big compared to some of the other cult-like followers of famous record labels. And it's not like they're gaining new members anymore. It's all about that Carpe Sonum hit nowadays.

Anyhow, what's most important is that I finally get to hear the germination of this surprisingly durable pairing between Misters Norris and Gainford, one I have to wonder if even they thought would go this long. Like, I'm sure they felt some synergy from whatever situation brought them together (crossing paths at a show? Sharing war stories of former labels? Chance paired seating on a flight across the the Atlantic Ocean?), but even they couldn't have thought they'd be over twenty albums deep from these humble beginnings. Because these are some humble beginnings indeed.

Honestly, this could have gone one of two ways: an immaculate debut that could never have been replicated again, or a feeling-out process, with later works bringing their collaborative ideas to better fruition. Given the amount of music that has emerged under the Autumn Of Communion banner since, it's safe to say we're in the latter territory with this album. Even for Lee and Mick, this is one super mellow CD, with long, gentle passages of subdued synths and repeating melodies. Aside from End (Sunrise For Claudio), there's barely any rhythm, and what does come about is the most minimalist of minute beatcraft.

For sure there are some gorgeous moments on Autumn Of Communion, including the titular track, but I doubt I'd say anything shocking in pointing to the duo's future works as even better than what's offered here. Still, absolutely worth the monies I paid for it!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Bent - Ariels

Open: 2004

Definitely not the first Bent album you're supposed to get, if you're just figuring out whether you'll like their music or not. This isn't the first for yours truly, as I got it with Programmed To Love, the one I'm pretty sure is the one you're supposed to have, even if you're not a fan of Bent. I figured though, if I'm getting one Bent album, I might as well get another, and this one, it was nice and affordable on the Amazons for an artist mini-splurge. Would I have been better served doing a little research into this before purchasing so comparatively blind? Absolutely, but that's no fun, no fun at all. Music hunting need not be dull, dutiful collecting when one can feel the thrill of exploring uncharted sonic domains. What would you rather do in your survival MMO, stay at a base and horde resources, or see what's beyond that next hilltop? Sorry, marathoning twenty-two hours of Neebs Gaming's 7 Days To Die series has wormed its way into my metaphors.

Let's be real though. The whole reason I'm finally giving Bent a proper go is because I've long enjoyed the scattered classics of their early catalogue (Spotify Discovery reminding me of them hasn't hurt), and hope to hear more of that. How was I to know that just three years from their debut and three albums deep, Misters Tolliday and Mills would feel the itch to move on from that and do something different, evolved from their sample-heavy songcraft? Like, kudos and all for doing so, but it sure threw me for a loop hearing Ariels before any other of Bent's long players.

So this is the album the Bent boys decided to get a whole bunch of real instruments and non-sampled singers into the studio to craft their own brand of contemporary easy-listening music. You got cellos, flutes, harps, glockenspiels, violins, violas, brass, bass, and double-bass. Ooh, some pedal steel guitar action too, in On The Lake. Such a dreamy sounding instrument, fitting for a dreamy sounding song, almost treading into New Age territory, or what The Gentle People would have sounded like if they'd played their music more straight.

Anyhow, Ariels is as pure a dream-pop album you can probably find for the Cafe del Mar set, which has always been Bent's charm. In utilizing mostly real instruments over samples though, it comes off rather detached from the post-clubbing scene, music actually intended for Nuclear Family moms rather than their burnt-out grandkids. There's still some groove to be found, while the huskier voice of Kosheens' Sian Evans lends tracks like I Can't Believe It's Over more to trip-hop's domain. Still, I cannot deny this album tends to phase through me like so much light-weight, fluffy muzak-pop. Feels like in their attempt to be as authentic to the easy listening music of yesteryear, Bent hit it a little too on the nose in the process. It does make for a nice counter to the winter doldrums though.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Cosmic Replicant - Archive Of Signals

self release: 2018

Uh oh, another Cosmic Replicant album already? Does this mean that Bandcamp bundle I bought is gonna' be stupidly front-loaded in the next round of reviews? Heh, no, 'tis but a coincidence of alphabetical sorting. It shall be a long while before I return to this label, but- whoa, wait, I already did this bit, didn't I? Let's start over.

A pure ambient album with dense, dubby touches? Sure, why not. Pavel's done nearly everything else with his Cosmic Replicant project that the psy scene can offer, so it's only natural he'd stretch out into this field. Plenty of his full-lengths have a dronescape track or three, so it's not unexplored territory either. And if other Altar Records alum can release such records (AstroPilot; Chronos; others, probably), so can this one. Perhaps a bit of a shame he had to do it independently, but then Mr. Shirsin hasn't been part of the Altar family for nearly a half-decade now- oh, wait, he did release an ambient EP with them just this year. Man, it's hard keeping tabs on a discography when-

Ah, dang it, I've done this bit too, haven't I? Seriously though, what are the odds I'd have two Cosmic Replicant ambient albums so close in my queue like this? Remember when Pavel did prog-psy, man?

Still, there's a reason for this bit of meta malarky on my part, in that if I were to do a proper review of Archive Of Signals, I'd only be repeating myself from After A Long Rain. In fact, I'd say there's less to detail here, in that this is a pure-pure ambient album, in the 'music as abstraction' concept. At least After A Long Rain had a theme behind it. This album features seven self-titled Parts, firmly planting it in the domain of 'music for its own sake'. And hey, that's totally fine, a hefty chunk of the ambient churned out yearly having faith in the listener to come to their own thematic conclusions. Or sometimes just in need of that proper wallpaper sound, that you don't really pay attention too.

Though if that was Pavel's intent, he missed the mark on that too. Each Part comes in quite distinct from one another, hardly the sort of pure drone songcraft you'd expect of an album like this. Really, some of these pieces feel like compositions that simply never made the cut on After The Long Rain, what with ample use of rain fall and static drone that sounds like rain fall (why not both?). Others are more on that dubby dronescape stylee, while some and gentle and blissy. Again, all top grade stuff from Cosmic Replicant, and different enough from his last pure ambient album that you don't get a sense of actual deja-vu listening to both. Just, y'know, little else for me to say about it so close together. Man, imagine if all I reviewed was ambient. Would have run out of words years ago!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Wurrm - Apotropaic

Neotantra: 2019

Going into this one, I figured I had a complete blank to work with where the artist is concerned. There is absolutely no info regarding Wurrm within Lord Discogs' archives, this album the lone entry. The liner notes gives no details or links either, nor does the associated Bandcamp source (from which I got this from). A total and utter mystery, this Wurrm. So I thinks, I thinks to myself, as I'm dealing with a totally new label as well, I could wax the bull some about that before diving into the actual music within. Because believe you me, I have some things to say about Lee Norris' latest label Neotantra. Nothing harsh or anything, just a little nit to pick about how its presented itself since launching as a sublabel of Fantasy Enhancing earlier this year.

Still, on a hunch, I took an extra Soundcloud dive into this Wurrm fella', just to be certain I hadn't overlooked anything. And wouldn't you know it, I discovered a massive amount of material associated with the name, leaving me stumped as to how none of it is represented on Discogs beyond this lone item. At first I thought perhaps there were just a lot of different Wurrms (that Discogs had somehow overlooked, leading to this one being the first), but turns out it's all the same dude, dabbling in all manner of ambient, dub techno, and future garage. And that's not even getting into his other projects like High Jon The Conqueror (reggae dub) and partnership with DJ Nico Demus as Rukus (a pile of UK garage and grime influenced stuff). High Jon (is that his real name?) has apparently released plenty of material across plenty of micro-labels, yet none of it is on Discogs. I'm starting to wonder whether that claim that Lord Discogs is the Lord That Knows All doesn't know as much as it claims.

Anyhow, Apotropaic. This is definitely an ambient album, though kinda' scattershot in presentation. It's got the tranquil, layered synth-drone pieces (Half Remembered Dreams, Winter Solstice, Bridge). It's got the compositions heavy on the field recordings (Castle Park, Tape Feed, Commute). There's the tracks that submerge you in dubby domains (Degrees Of Seperation, Activated Partials), and even darker, menacing experimental outings (Village Rituals, End Times). If you're looking for some unifying theme to all these tracks, however, I fail to really hear one, Apotropaic coming off more like a collection of various ambient ideas and sketches Wurrm had crafted, and presenting them as is for a full-length on Neotrantra.

And that's what kinda' boggles my mind about this project. The label's mostly featured the usual assortment of Lee Norris associates thus far, which isn't surprising given his myriad connections. How did a guy making hay in a completely removed scene from the ambient techno world get hooked up here? For sure Wurrm's provided some worthy contributions to the Neotantra canon, but it sure is quite the leap from The Sword Of The Morning.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

ProtoU & Hilyard - Alpine Respire

Cryo Chamber: 2017

Uh oh, another Cryo Chamber album already? Does this mean that CD bundle I bought is gonna' be stupidly front-loaded in the next round of reviews? Heh, no, 'tis but a coincidence of alphabetical sorting. It shall be a long while before I return to this label, but hey, feels like I'm making up for lost time, having gone so many months without an obligatory look-in to what was shaking with Simon Heath's print.

Of all the items I grabbed in my recent splurge, this may be the oldest of the lot. In fact, Alpine Respire could have been included in my prior Cryo bundle, but that ten CD limit had to cap out somewhere. Albums from God Body Disconnect and Flowers For Bodysnatchers were of higher priority to me at the time, but when I came back to the Chamber for more dronescapes, this was gonna' be top of the pile, by g'ar. Can never get enough of those ashen vistas of cascade mountains at dusk. With molten lava rivers seeping out their sides like open, bloody wounds. Look, we have real volcanoes 'round these here parts, it's not impossible!

Sasha Cats (ProtoU) hasn't been too busy since we last glanced at her output here, a couple albums worth of material materializing in that time. She also officially paired up with partner Dronny Darko as Hivetribe, whom released a collaborative album with Purl (yes, that Purl), and ...two psy-trance albums? No, that's gotta' be a different Hivetribe. Crazy coincidence in the timing of releases though. As for the other half of this album's particular pairing, Bryan Hilyard is another relative dronescape scene floater, self-releasing some items while finding a home on Stereoscenic for others. As being on a label with that sort of name, his is the widescreen variety of dense ambient drone, with occasional field recordings treatments, and not so dark as the Cryo Chamber brand goes. Yet he not only found his way there in this pairing with ProtoU, but even released a solo album on the print this past year too. Ooh, that one's got galaxies on the cover. Will likely nab that, whenever I go on another Cryo splurge.

Alpine Respire is about as typical of the Chamber's output as you'd expect given the cover art. There's a loose theme built around traversing an inhospitable clime', taking in the field recordings scenery as moody tones blanket you in chilly atmosphere. There's the requisite suffocating gloom of tracks like Blood Grass Soujourn and Elwha Snowfinger, but other pieces (Cave Lights On The Bay Of Bengal, Final Refugium) provide something of a tranquil respite from the harsh elements beating down on you. Seems no matter how menacing or melancholic the music, throwing in the sounds of crashing surf never fails to bring about as sense of ease. Man, no wonder so little dark ambient sets itself along beach fronts. You'd think shores with tall cliffs and jagged rocks could harbour some sort of sonic malice.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Alien Community - Alien Community 2

Fax +49-69/450464: 1994

Looky-looky what I got! An honest to God, original print, ultra old-school, limited-run copy of a Fax+ CD! Not a rip, not a reissue, but an O.G. version with the classic cover-art. And with the Earth photo too, not triangular logo. Such releases were part of the 'PW' series, or 'Peter's Worldlabel', where all of his famed, globe-trotting collaborations took place. Not surprisingly, these are highly sought items, releases from the likes of Fires Of Ork, 2350 Broadway, and From Within fetching stupid amounts of money on the collector's market. Sometimes though, you get lucky on the Discogs Marketplace, and I scored myself a source that had all manner of classic Fax+ items up for offer. True, many of them were re-issues on Ambient World, but beggars can't be choosers, and I nabbed me some albums I never thought I'd land without dropping upwards of triple digits for.

One such release I always had my eye on was Namlook's pairing with Jonah Sharp as Alien Community. Their featured track in the Coldcut mix CD Tone Tales From Tomorrow Too made it among my earliest internet explorations (d'at title alone! ...not to mention the sci-fi electro), but discovering it was part of this ca-raaayy-zee catalogue of rare ambient techno, I resigned myself to wistful glances here and there. I mean, the project hadn't even been tapped for reissue with Ambient World. I guess the Spacetime Continuum tie-in just wasn't enough for consistent interest.

Even now, Alien Community doesn't rank terribly high on the list of Fax+ essentials. Well, the first album does, as there is some mighty tasty ambient electro going on there, but not their second (and last) outing under the alias. Why, one can find this for the same price of a regular CD on the used market. Strangely, the same goes for Pete and Jonah's other collaborative project, Wechselspannung, which I haven't really listened to. Its artwork is mighty familiar tho'...

Anyhow, as with many Fax+ releases of this era, Alien Community 2 features a singular sixty-minute composition titled A Long And Perilous Voyage, broken up into twelve parts around five minutes in length for handy CD skipping. Because not everyone is down for those super-noodly, feeling-out, abstract ambient segments these jam sessions often entailed. Seriously, it's like when guitarists spend time tuning their instruments, but instead with twiddly knobs on gear racks.

Also a common feature with these LP-length outings was how they were structured, with rising escalation of the various sounds in use, a mid-section of downtime with various sonic doodlings, each player doing their thing, then a bigger peak-out with everything coming to the fore. It's effective ambient techno jamming, especially if you enjoy Namlook's distinct synth pads and transistor tweeps with Sharp's spaced-out acid tweaks and electro rhythms. Still, it's just following upon the same ideas as the first album, and I can understand why some may feel it the lesser of the two Alien Community releases.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Alphaxone & Xerxes The Dark - Aftermath

Cryo Chamber: 2018

Been a while since I last indulged in the Cryo Chamber catalogue, what with me exploring other dark ambient labels for a spell. Back to the familiar, trusty ol' print of cinematic drone I must go though (yo'), with another CD bundle splurge I can never resist (can't have enough 'cryo chamber' beer can sleeves!). Still a lot of familiar names making the rounds here, but quite few new faces too. Mount Shrine, Ruptured World, Dahlia's Tear, Ager Sonus, In Quantum. Y'know, cheerful aliases! I've also noticed Cryo Chamber's cover art has grown a bit more... colourful? Okay, maybe that's too strong a word, everything still retaining that distinct, muted saturation. Still, I see whites and reds and blues and various scales of grey too. Why, In Quantum's Memory 417 could almost be synthwave cover! A very dark, depressing collection of synthwave, but that seven-segment display for the album's font screams '80s (thanks, The Police's Ghost In The Machine).

There's nothing like settling on the familiar though, and what better way to get reacquainted than with an old standby of Cryo Chamber, Alphaxone. When last I covered him, Mr. Saleh had been pairing up with the dark ambient power couple of Dronny Darko and ProtoU for a pair of albums that were conceptually quite different from each other. Naturally, I gravitated more towards the spacier of the two offerings, and so it goes again in his latest collaboration, this time with fellow Iranian Xerxes The Dark. That... doesn't strike me as the most creative of aliases Morego Dimmer could have come up with. Like, why not Xerxes The تاریک? In any event, he's floated about various dark ambient labels since the mid-'00s, but the gravitational pull of Cryo Chamber drew him within their fold for a collaborative album or three, first appearing on one of the Tomb Of... compilations.

I've taken in plenty of cosmic drone, but very little cosmic horror. The existential dread of utter nothingness is enough to send cold shivers down my neck, no need of madness-inducing unrealities mixing in. Still, Alphaxone's very good at crafting captivating soundscapes fitting of altered dimensions, so I'm in safe(?) hands with him leading the way into this domain. I'm not so sure about Xerxes though, unfamiliar with his brand of drone as I am. Can I pick out distinct attributes in Aftermath from Alphaxone's aesthetic?

Can't say I did. This still feels like an Alphaxone album, though perhaps more structured in narrative than some of his other works. As with the best of Cryo Chamber, each track serves as another chapter in whatever tale the artists look to tell, in this case, exploration of the interplanetary unknown, and what wonders or horrors may come from there. There are points where an almost benign tone settles in (ooh, shimmery piano to close out!), but yeah, this is a very minimalist excursion into cinematic dronescapes. Not that I'd want to hear inhuman field recordings in something like Aftermath.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Neil Young - After The Goldrush

Reprise Records: 1970/1993

A little unfinished business, this. I totally skipped After The Goldrush when going through my block of 'A'-titled albums, because the record was already significantly covered when I reviewed the Neil Young Archives collection. Still, I can't very well claim to have reviewed everything in my music library if I don't also do this, even if there's little more I can add. One thing did come to mind though.

In its commitment to presenting the tracklist in chronological order, the Archives collection failed to showcase one of After The Goldrush's best strengths, how each side of the record mirrored each other. A wonderful, group acoustic love song opener, followed by a reflective commentary on society, then a lovelorn ditty, a hard rocker, and finishing off with a charming doodle. Okay, Side-B doesn't quite match up, what with an extra song there, but put I Believe In You where Birds is, and it matches, mang!

That's all I got left to say. Here's what I wrote before to eat up the rest of my self-imposed word count obligation. Enjoy!

Despite taking a step back from the limelight, Neil Young once again found himself a very important person in the world of American rock. It'd only been half-a-decade since he sought music fortune in Los Angeles, and he'd accomplished more commercially and creatively than most could have ever hoped for, even for the fruitful '60s. What else could he do beyond being part of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, one of the country's most popular bands?

“How about scoring a movie?” suggested Young's Topanga neighbour Dean Stockwell. Yes,
that Dean Stockwell, who'd been interested in scripting and filming a movie called After The Goldrush. It piqued ol' Shakey's interest enough to start writing a few tunes for it, and though the film never materialized, some of the intended music turned out to be some of the highlights of Young's album of the same name (Tell Me Why, After The Goldrush, Don’t Let It Bring You Down). It also sparked his creativity ever further, vivid lyrics compared to songs past, and unafraid at stretching his limited vocal range into areas yet attempted. You can really hear him crackling the high notes in After The Goldrush for the first time, exposing a naked sincerity to his music.

The other two standouts from these sessions are Southern Man (an incendiary condemnation of, well, southern redneck ‘justice’ and treatment of African-Americans) and
When You Dance, I Can Really Love, capturing Young and his Crazy Horse band in full-on swagger musically. Added to the mix is seventeen year old Nils Lofgren, a budding guitarist that’d been something of an understudy to Young. In what had to been either crazy brilliant or brilliantly crazy, Neil suggested Nils play piano for these songs, an instrument lil’ Lofgren had no prior experience with. The kid fuckin’ smashed it! That’s Mr. Young for you though, so often bringing the best out of those around him.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Cosmic Replicant - After A Long Rain

self released: 2018

A pure ambient album with modern classical touches? Sure, why not. Pavel's done nearly everything else with his Cosmic Replicant project that the psy scene can offer, so it's only natural he'd stretch out into this field. Plenty of his full-lengths have a dronescape track or three, so it's not unexplored territory either. And if other Altar Records alum can release such records (AstroPilot; Chronos; others, probably), so can this one. Perhaps a bit of a shame he had to do it independently, but then Mr. Shirsin hasn't been part of the Altar family for nearly a half-decade now- oh, wait, he did release an ambient EP with them just this year. Man, it's hard keeping tabs on a discography when the artist's Bandcamp isn't always the primary output. There's only so many email lists I want to be part of.

Surprisingly, especially given his alias, this isn't a cosmic ambient album as so many of his peers typically go. Rather, Pavel's focused his muse in a grounded reality, the sort of feelings one may experience after a brisk downpour of autumn rainfall. Not the cooling sun-showers of summer, nor the icy drip of wintry sleet, but that in-between perspiration that still carries some warmth from oceanic fronts. Rain that nourishes the fungi blooms feasting upon decaying leaf piles. So many fungi blooms about Vancouver right now. Just... so many. Which is weird, considering we've had a remarkable run of cold, sunny weather as of late, right when we should be in perpetual drizzle season. May have to start laying out the road salt earlier than usual.

The opening track is called Silence On The Air, and it's almost dark ambient in how moody and suffocating its drone feels. A gentle melody echoing through the atmosphere does keep it just on this side of the realms of light (or however you want to demarcate ambient from dark ambient). Thoughts That Carried Away carries on in similar vein, a sombre dronescape with delicate crystalline tones piercing the murk. It's not all dour downpour though, the mood of subsequent tracks slowly but surely turning more tranquil and refreshing – a piano as your primary melody helps. Why, Cloudy Friday Day is downright chipper, with a jaunty, echoing electric guitar and actual bassline. I can easily imagine this playing to a scene of kids splashing in post-rain puddles.

I wouldn't call myself a critic if I couldn't find something to be nitpicky about though, and there is a quibble. Music and albums centred around the concept of rainfall are typically quite intimate affairs, as rainfall itself forces us to turn withdrawn and huddled from the elements abroad. For as lovely the pieces Cosmic Replicant has crafted here, however, they're rather grandiose. Gentle and calming, yes, but they make me feel like I'm watching the water cycle in action on an IMAX screen, not trickling through the trees outside my window-pane. Yeah, the quibbliest of quibbles, that.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Si Matthews - Across The Ether

Carpe Sonum Records: 2018

Been an age since I last talked up Si Matthews. Chap seemed like one of those promising new talents the current era of Fax+ influenced artists who were gonna' lead us into a post-Namlook era. He's taken a 'slow and steady' approach to his release rate though, settling on about an album a year rather than the twenty-dozen items some of his peers churn out. Slow and steady wins the race, I guess, but what are we racing for? Can making music be considered a race, against the limited time we have to create all that our muses allow us to express? Can the sonic soul even be sated, when there's infinite possibilities before us, countless that which have yet to be discovered? Just some thoughts as I stare into the Pillars Of Creation for the umpteenth time.

I felt Si's sophomore album, Aurora, was a good enough follow-up to his applauded debut Tales Of Ten Worlds, if a bit slight in content compared to the richness offered in the former. No chance of similar feelings with his next album, Across The Ether, a whopping double-LP outing from Mr. Matthews! Interestingly, this is one of the few times Carpe Sonum Records has ever released a 2CD album, and remained a lone example of the format until just this year's release of Sven Kössler's Bck t· Lvng. Coincidentally, Si and Sven have been working together this past year, though their release on Fantasy Enhancing wasn't a double-LP, so I can only imagine should they also cook up something for Carpe Sonum, it'll be nothing less than a 4CD box-set! Maybe wait until they can nab the impossible catalogue number SEIZE-XXL though. (yes, I find it hilarious that the first Carpe Sonum double-LP release is SEIZE-XL)

CD1 is subtitled Ambient, and that's what you're gonna' get, by g'ar. Nine tracks of spaced-out, cosmic synth pads with occasional splashes of soft rhythms. Real planetarium stuff, in other words, which shouldn't be of any surprise with the head of the Eagle Nebula plastered across the cover art. Admittedly it can get rather samey throughout, though folks diving into this style of ambient music aren't looking for much variation either, so it works out. Except for In Stone, a minimalist bleepy ambient techno track that sounds like it drifted in from the FireScope label.

I initially thought it had drifted in from CD2 though, what with its subtitle being Beats and all. And yeah, th'ar be beats here, though not of the IDM-leaning variety B12's print is known for. I mean, this is still a Fax+ influenced artist releasing music on a Fax+ inspired label, so the rhythms are mostly in service of gentle, spacey pad melodies with light dubby effects. And that's fine, another serving of familiar sounds that release the exact amount of endorphins I hope to get from cover art like this. Across The Ether is ambient techno that goes down like a nice cup of hot chocolate. In SPACE!

Friday, November 1, 2019

ACE TRACKS: October 2019

I never realized just how addicted I've become to the sun now, at least to feel even the slightest bit productive. It wasn't such a big deal before, as my work schedule always left me with some remaining Sol energy in the day. Now though, with me working a more 'traditional' 9-5 shift, I'm getting home, it's grown dark (if not already dark), and my will power to do anything productive is gone, man, just gone.

Not that there aren't other factors that impede my ability to do much of anything in the evening hours (damn you, Neebs Gaming, and your addictive Cinematic Gameplay videos!), but unlike the summer months, where I could still crank something out before 9pm, my mind totally checks out come 6pm now. Guess it's back to the ultra-early rises to get my writing done then. That seemed to work quite well for me this past winter. Leave me an hour to get in a morning swim too. In the meanwhile, here's the ACE TRACKS for the month of October:

Full track list here.

The Winterhouse - Winter Gardens
Convextion - 2845
Emiliana Torrini - Love In The Time Of Science

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 0%
Percentage Of Rock: 14%
Most “WTF?” Track: The noisiest outing from Ringo Sheena.

Lots of Phantogram and Ringo Sheena, obviously, what with Patreon Requests eating up a bulk of my review time this past month (the Sheena ones were long overdue requests). Why, you'd almost forget there's things like house, techno, and ambient in here too. Tracks arranged alphabetically, it seems most of the tracks still bunched up together by artist. Huh, my whole deal in doing it my way is to break up the potential monotony of hearing the same artist over and over. Something screwy is afoot this past month, methinks.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Ringo Sheena - Shōso Strip

Virgin: 2000

(a Patreon Request from Philoi)

I think we all have to come to grips that I'm woefully unqualified to talk about Japanese pop music with any sort of authoritative perspective. Yeah, I can appreciate, and even enjoy it, at a basic, superficial aesthetic level (sounds do good things on brain, me likey!), but I've no real insights or analysis to provide from the experience. Beyond what a couple Wiki links of information can offer (y'know, collegiate level research), there's very little I can explore or detail regarding the cultural impact of such music.

Like, I can get proper-deep regarding rave music, as I've been part of, digested, consumed, and researched nearly all facets of it for a quarter of a century now (a significant portion of my life indeed). And while I've covered other music genres or scenes I'm not so involved with (your alternative rock, your jazz-bop, your country twang), they're at least still prevalent enough in my sphere of the globe that I know enough about them via cultural osmosis. It's incredibly rare that mass market music from other (non English-speaking) artists ever had much impact here, no matter how successful they may have been elsewhere.

It's almost entirely thanks to the power of global social media that we've started seeing actual cultural cross-over in the Americas from the mega-stars of Japan and Korea. Even as I type this, my localized Twitter feed is blowing up about Wonho leaving MONSTA X (everything else is Halloween stuff). Let's face it, a newer, younger generation has discovered something they know their parents just won't understand. What better rebel music than music that's not even Caucasian, amirite? Nah, guy, there's just a lot of East Asian transplants in Vancouver.

Anyhow, Ringo Sheena (or Shiina Ringo, if you're Discoggian) turned quite a few heads upon her debut, a teenage wonder-kid who fused noisy Western rock with noisy Japanese rock, presented in that spiffy, over-the-top j-pop stylee everyone just thinks all Japanese pop music sounds like. Sales proved her a potential break-out star that could possibly make it big overseas, thus was immediately signed to the mighty Virgin empire, the quick follow-up Shōso Strip the result.

Almost too quickly, apparently, as the budding star felt the tracklist was too similar to her debut. I can dig that, as I felt like I was listening to Muzai Moratorium all over again with this one. Yeah, there's a few additional wrinkles here and there (ooh, techno thump-thumps in 浴室) and the song-writing comes off more polished than the first – the chaotic production is focused and targeted. Yet I still had to double-check I was listening to the correct album a couple times, unsure whether it was the first or second (didn't help my digital player couldn't convert kanji properly).

And sadly, I can't give any deeper analysis than that. As mentioned, I simply don't connect to this music beyond the superficial. Y'all would be better served listening to the Spotify link for your own conclusions.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Phantogram - Three

Republic Records: 2016

(a Discography Patreon Request from Omskbird)

Every time I say Phantogram out loud, I can't help but say it in a similar manner to how the word 'speakerboxxx' is oft repeated in the OutKast album Speakerboxxx. Like, “Phan-Toe-Gram”. Did the Big Boi influence somehow worm its way into my brain in ways I can't possibly comprehend? That non sequitor out the way...

Like Thanos, the Pop Music Machine is inevitable. Whatever unique traits or style you had will be scrubbed clean by various studio hands for maximum market penetration. Your individual talent will be made to fit predetermined moulds that have proven success rates with as wide a demographic as your handlers feel is possible. This is not some insidious secret only revealed when an unwitting participant has signed their names away. They go into the Machine willingly, hoping to take their brand to commercial heights of success only dreamed of before. It will naturally annoy and even piss-off some hardcore followers that helped nurture an act's rise to prominence from the beginning, but as I said, the process is inevitable.

Not that it isn't possible to make the Machine work for you, but it takes an incredible talent, plus force of personality and will to shine in an industry that disposes of its resources if they don't turn out the expectant results. Even those that do have their time in the limelight are quickly left to the dustbin if a newer, fresher hotness can easily replace them. For real, when was the last time folks cared about a Madonna release?

This isn't a mould I hear Phantogram fitting with Three. For sure they give it their best effort (Sarah Barthel is at times bellowing her soul out, understandable given many of the songs were inspired by the suicidal death of a friend), bringing in professional studio producers and crafting songs with big-huge, wall-of-sound chorus/drops, as was the style at the time (is it still? Please say we've moved on from that). These don't sound like only Phantogram could have made them though. You're Mine could have been done by any number of contemporary starlets as the feature. I sure wouldn't know the difference if I heard it on the work radio. For all the influences of musicians new and old I heard in Phantogram's earlier works, at least I could tell it was Sarah and Josh performing them.

This isn't me condemning the duo though, oh no. If slick anthem pop in the vein of Imagine Dragons is what they wanted to make, then they did it very well, and I'm sure it pleased many fans of this kind of music. It just wasn't made for me, and I have no interest in returning to it anytime soon. Well, maybe Funeral Pyre. That one kinda' felt like the genre-fusion synth-pop act I heard on their earlier works.

I took a listen to one of their recent singles, to hear if they've stayed the course from Three. Yep, that's some big-huge production from Into Happiness.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Phantogram - Voices

Indica: 2014

(a Discography Patreon Request from Omskbird)

I may have oversold my enthusiasm for the Nightlife mini-album. Maybe for Phantogram too? I don't dislike anything I've heard, and find their music worming its way into my brain the more I listen to it, but I can't say I want to re-listen to it. They fall into that nebulous blob of genre interest I think of as the 'This Is Fine' bubble – where every critic's 6/10 records reside. Not that I'd give this such a ranking myself (and even if I did, probably a little higher), but as my music collection balloons and grows, things get lost in the shuffle, including the Random Shuffle feature on my PC. So many songs to 'randomly' choose from, yet it never, ever lands on Fu-Schnickens' Sneakin' Up On Ya? What's up with that? Erm, what I'm getting at is, if Spotify Discovery was to discover me some Phantogram, I'd enjoy it, but wouldn't go out of my way to explore their discography further.

Anyhow, we've flash-jumped a few years, and our intrepid Sarah & Josh duo have hit the big-time, in a low-key sort of way. Tons of tours, tons of festivals. Tons of appearances on late night talk shows (so many Jimmy Fallon performances, just... so many). Tons of nods and approvals within their scene (opening for genre icons M83 couldn't have hurt) and from players outside looking in (yes, Big Boi had taken a liking to them by now). You'd almost think they were half a dozen albums deep into their career with this much promotion behind them, and yet Voices is only their second LP, released half a decade after their first. Dang, dawg and dawgette, you gotta' get into that studio and start cranking out some more music stat, lest your set playlist grow old and stale. Maybe get a major label backing your efforts in the process, for that little extra exposure, really go for the 'pop' in the synth-pop.

I feel like I should like this more. The songcraft is more refined, the production is top-grade, and there's plenty of moments that leap out at me as it plays through. The crunchy guitar action in Nothing But Trouble. The buzzy, punchy bassline in Fall In Love. The percussion in Howling At The Moon (yeah, there's trap snares in there, but oh so much more too). Josh Carter's one-the-nose Peter Gabriel wailing in Never Going Home (whole track sounds like a Peter Gabriel tune, for that matter). There's a few moments that strike me as odd choices, like that same buzzy bassline used in the dream pop of Bill Murray - how can I feel bliss and chill with a sputtering transistor in the background? - but it's hardly detrimental to the album as a whole.

Yet, Voices doesn't grab me the way Eyelid Movies did. It's like, in perfecting their genre fusion, it's turned their neapolitan style into a strict vanilla flavour. But one of those good vanilla flavours, like vanilla bean, or dame blanche.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Phantogram - Nightlife

Bursak Records: 2011

(a Discography Patreon Request from Omskbird)

The debut album's out, the buzz is building, but all that touring is impacting your ability to hop into the studio for another full-length session. Fortunately, the good ol' mini-album option has become quite fruitful in the modern era, a handful of songs all that's needed to be propelled into super-stardom. Why, look at that Skrillex kid, one of the biggest acts of 2011, based almost entirely off a single EP. If he can do it, why not Phantogram? Oh, that whole 'completely different genre and scene' factor, I guess. Yeah, Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel definitely make music of a different style compared to headline festival mosh. I sure didn't hear anything resembling overblown anthems in Eyelid Movies, nothing even hinting at such potential. Guess they'll stay in their lane, the steady rise of synth-pop songcraft within a nurturing indie scene bringing them the fame their later sales numbers indicate. Have I mentioned looking only at Wiki sales charts isn't a good idea to get a full story of a band's development?

The other good thing about making a mini-album is how it keeps things to the point. Eyelid Movies had plenty of good musical ideas about it, but was kinda' rambly in its direction too, one of those LPs where the musicians tend to throw everything at the wall. Such is the case with many debut albums though, muses bursting at the seems to flood out for all to hear. Typically a producer can reign things in, but Phantogram apparently did it all themselves, so here we are. Time to focus your ideas into with surgical precision, then, using what you've learned and build upon it.

Nightlife definitely is that, to such a degree I almost wish this had been longer, exploring these musical ideas and themes for a proper full-length. Sure, the concept is straight-forward enough, one of those inside-out looks at the self-destructive romanticism of hitting up bars and clubs when you're young. I'm sure touring about exposed Sarah and Josh to all manner of ups and downs within their scene, the decadent highs and the dilapidated lows. It's not a specific narrative, mind you, but it does capture the roller coaster of feelings in a night out with an always lingering, nagging doubt of whether your actions mean anything at all. Or maybe I'm reading a bit much into it, but hey, sometimes over-analyzing music half the fun of listening to music. Like, it's practically a mission statement from all those Pitchfork wanna-be clones that existed a decade ago. This is catnip for them! The indie-leaning genre fusion too.

Oh, and of that genre fusion? Yeah, it's still on that synthy indie-rock, dream-pop vein, though less of the wilder leaps into things like funk and soul and whatnot from Eyelid Movies. Again, smaller record, less room to let the muses roam free. Makes for a nice, tight listening experience though, leaving the listener anxious for more. All hail the mini-album, for those who don't have time for artistic bullshit!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Phantogram - Eyelid Movies

Indica Records: 2009

(a Discography Patreon Request from Omskbird)

I didn't know what to expect when I put Discography Reviews up as an option for Patreon Requests. Most likely an obligatory opportunity to fill out some glaring gaps in my own music collection, but just as easily a chance for y'all to expose an act or artist that needed some extra shine in the limelight. I've yet to discern where Phantogram falls on that spectrum. I can't claim I was familiar with the duo prior, but a brief glance through their Wiki indicates they've seen their fair share of activity within the upper echelons of indie-leaning synth-pop stardom. Not top tier, but enough presence to do respectable numbers on sales charts with songs featured in a variety of soundtracks. A nod from Big Boi likely didn't hurt.

They had to start somewhere though, and Eyelid Movies is that start. I'm not so sure I'd call it a breakout, since it didn't land them all the crossover attention they seem to have garnered in the past decade, but it's as solid a debut an act with almost no prior exposure could have hoped for. It establishes a sound unique enough to stand out in an over-crowded indie synth-pop market, but retains enough style and sounds of that scene that can lure in potential curious passer-byes in the rotation of playlists and radio streams.

Of course, my frame of reference in indie synth-pop is woefully small, undoubtedly a huge number of acts others could namedrop that Phantogram are comparable to. It's probably a real sad thing the strongest comparison I can make is Gorillaz, in that I hear a lot of the same genre-fusion going on from track to track in this album (oh man, does As Far As I Can See ever remind me of Plastic Beach-era Gorillaz). Heck, Josh Carter even has a similar croon Damon Albarn 2D's, and shows no qualms in feeding his voice through different effects for that authentic dream pop/digital funk feel. Sarah Barthel's no slouch on the pipes either.

And genre fusion? Oh yeah, there's plenty of that, Phantogram showing little fear in tackling whatever strikes their fancy. The aforementioned dream pop? Here's Turn It Off, All Dried Up and You Are The Ocean for you. Something funkier for your feet? Try Running From The Cops or Bloody Palms for size. In need of intimate glitch-soul? 10,000 Claps is all up on that. Got a hankering for that melodramatic, trip-hop blues that Moby's known for? Then When I'm Small and Futuristic Casket have you covered. Yeah, I pulled a Moby namedrop here. I told you my frame of reference sucks in this genre.

But hey, Eyelid Movies is regardless a strong start to this dive into the Phantogram discography. The album could have used a bit more cohesion between songs for it to truly shine, but it does leave me intrigued in how the story unfolds from here, how gained exposure and experience will form and shape their future releases.

Things I've Talked About

...txt 10 Records 16 Bit Lolita's 1963 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2 Play Records 2 Unlimited 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 20xx Update 2562 3 Loop Music 302 Acid 36 3FORCE 3six Recordings 4AD 6 x 6 Records 75 Ark 7L & Esoteric 808 State A Perfect Circle A Positive Life A-Wave a.r.t.less A&M Records A&R Records Abandoned Communities Abasi Above and Beyond abstract Ace Trace Ace Tracks Playlists Ace Ventura acid acid house acid jazz acid techno acoustic Acroplane Recordings Adam Freeland Adham Shaikh ADNY Adrian Younge adult contemporary Advanced UFO Phantom Aegri Somnia Aes Dana Afrika Bambaataa Afro-house Afterhours Agoria Aidan Casserly Aira Mitsuki Ajana Records Ajna AK1200 Akshan album Aldrin Alex Smoke Alex Theory Alice In Chains Alien Community Alien Project Alio Die All Saints Alphabet Zoo Alphaxone Altar Records Alter Ego alternative rock Alucidnation Ambelion Ambidextrous ambient ambient dub ambient techno Ambient World Ambientium Ametsub Amon Tobin Amplexus Anabolic Frolic Anatolya Andrea Parker Andrew Heath Androcell Anduin Andy C anecdotes Aniplex Anjunabeats Annibale Records Anodize Another Fine Day Antendex anthem house Anthony Paul Kerby Anthony Rother Anti-Social Network Aphasia Records Aphex Twin Apócrýphos Apollo Apple Records April Records Aqua Aquarellist Aquascape Aquasky Aquila Arcade Architects Of Existence arena rock Arista Armada Armin van Buuren Arpatle Arts & Crafts ASC Ashtech Asia Asian Dub Foundation Astral Projection Astral Waves Astralwerks AstroPilot Asura Asylum Records ATCO Records Atlantic Atlantis atmospheric jungle Atomic Hooligan Atrium Carceri Attic Attoya Audion AuroraX Autechre Autistici Autumn Of Communion Avantgarde Aveparthe Avicii Axiom Axs Axtone Records Aythar B.G. The Prince Of Rap B°TONG B12 Babygrande Balance Balanced Records Balearic ballad Banco de Gaia Bandulu Battle Axe Records battle-rap Bauri Beastie Boys Beat Buzz Records Beatbox Machinery Beats & Pieces bebop Beck Bedouin Soundclash Bedrock Records Beechwood Music Benny Benassi Bent Benz Street US Berlin-School Beto Narme Beyond bhangra Bicep big beat Big Boi Big L Big Life Bill Hamel Bill Laswell BIlly Idol BineMusic BioMetal Biophon Records Biosphere Bipolar Music BKS Black Hole Recordings black rebel motorcycle club Black Swan Sounds Blanco Y Negro Blasterjaxx Blend Blood Music Blow Up Blue Amazon Blue Öyster Cult blues Bluescreen Bluetech BMG Boards Of Canada Bob Dylan Bob Marley Bobina Bogdan Raczynzki Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Boney M Bong Load Records Bonzai Boogie Down Productions Booka Shade Botchit & Scarper Bows Boxed Boys Noize Boysnoize Records BPitch Control braindance Brandt Brauer Frick Brasil & The Gallowbrothers Band breakbeats breakcore breaks Brian Eno Brian Wilson Brick Records Britpop Brodinski broken beat Brooklyn Music Ltd Bryan Adams BT Bubble Buffalo Springfield Bulk Recordings Burial Burned CDs Bursak Records Bush Busta Rhymes C.I.A. Calibre calypso Canibus Canned Resistor Capitol Records Capsula Captured Digital Carbon Based Lifeforms Carl B Carl Craig Carol C Caroline Records Carpe Sonum Records Castroe Cat Sun CD-Maximum Ceephax Acid Crew Celestial Dragon Records Cell Celtic Cevin Fisher Cheb i Sabbah Cheeky Records chemical breaks Chihei Hatakeyama chill out chill-out chiptune Chris Duckenfield Chris Fortier Chris Korda Chris Sheppard Chris Witoski Christmas Christopher Lawrence Chromeo Chronos Chrysalis Ciaran Byrne cinematic soundscapes Circular Cirrus Cities Last Broadcast City Of Angels CJ Stone Claptone classic house classic rock classical Claude Young Clear Label Records Cleopatra Cloud 9 Club Cutz Club Tools Cocoon Recordings Cold Spring Coldcut Coldplay coldwave Colette collagist Columbia Com.Pact Records comedy Compilation Comrie Smith Connect.Ohm conscious Control Music Convextion Cooking Vinyl Cor Fijneman Corderoy Cosmic Gate Cosmic Replicant Cosmo Cocktail Cosmos Studios Cottonbelly Council Of Nine Counter Records country country rock Covert Operations Recordings Craig Padilla Crazy Horse Cream Creamfields Crockett's Theme Crosby Stills And Nash Crosstown Rebels crunk Cryo Chamber Cryobiosis Cryogenic Weekend Crystal Moon Cube Guys Culture Beat Curb Records Current Curve cut'n'paste Cyan Music Cyber Productions CyberOctave Cyclic Law Cygna Cyril Secq Czarface D-Bridge D-Fuse D-Topia Entertainment Dacru Records Daddy G Daft Punk Dag Rosenqvist Damian Lazarus Damon Albarn Dan The Automator Dance 2 Trance Dance Pool dancehall Daniel Heatcliff Daniel Lentz Daniel Pemberton Daniel Wanrooy Danny Howells Danny Tenaglia Dao Da Noize dark ambient dark psy darkcore darkside darkstep darkwave Darla Records Darren McClure Darren Nye DAT Records Databloem dataObscura David Alvarado David Bickley David Bridie David Guetta David Morley DDR De-tuned Dead Coast Dead Melodies Deadmau5 Death Grips Death Row Records Decimal Dedicated Deejay Goldfinger Deep Dish Deep Forest deep house Deeply Rooted House Deepwater Black Deetron Def Jam Recordings Del Tha Funkee Homosapien Delerium Delsin Deltron 3030 Depeche Mode Der Dritte Raum Derek Carr Detroit Devin Underwood Deysn Masiello DFA DGC diametric. Dido Dieselboy Different DigiCube Dillinja dirty house Dirty South Dirty Vegas disco Disco Gecko disco house Disco Pinata Records disco punk Discover (label) Disky Disques Dreyfus Distant System Distinct'ive Breaks Disturbance Divination DJ 3000 DJ Brian DJ Craze DJ Dan DJ Dean DJ Gonzalo DJ Heather DJ John Kelley DJ Merlin DJ Mix DJ Moe Sticky DJ Observer DJ Premier DJ Q-Bert DJ Shadow DJ Soul Slinger DJ-Kicks Djen Ajakan Shean DJMag DMC DMC Records Doc Scott Dogon Dogwhistle Dooflex Dopplereffekt Dossier Dousk downtempo dowtempo Dr. Atmo Dr. Dre Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Dr. Octagon Dragon Quest dream house dream pop DreamWorks Records Drexciya drill 'n' bass Dronarivm drone Dronny Darko drum 'n' bass DrumNBassArena drunken review dub Dub Pistols dub techno Dub Trees Dubfire dubstep DuMonde Dune Dusted Dynatron E-Mantra E-Z Rollers Eardream Music Earth Earth Nation Earthling Eastcoast Eastcost EastWest Eastworld Eat Static EBM Echodub Ed Rush & Optical Editions EG EDM World Weekly News Ektoplazm electro Electro House Electro Sun electro-funk electro-pop electroclash Electronic Dance Essentials Electronic Music Guide Electrovoya Elektra Elektrolux em:t EMC update EMI Emiliana Torrini Eminem Emmerichk Emperor Norton Empire enCAPSULAte Engine Recordings Enigma Enmarta EP Epic epic trance EQ Recordings Erased Tapes Records Eric Borgo Erik Vee Erol Alkan Escape Esoteric Reactive ethereal Etnica Etnoscope Euphoria euro dance eurotrance Eurythmics Eve Records Everlast Ewan Pearson Exitab experimental Eye Q Records Ezdanitoff F Communications Fabric Fade Records Faithless Falcon Reekon Fallen fanfic Fantastisizer Fantasy Enhancing Fatboy Slim Fax +49-69/450464 Fear Factory Fedde Le Grand Fehrplay Feist Fektive Records Felix da Housecat Fennesz Ferry Corsten FFRR field recordings Filter filters Final Fantasy Firescope Five AM Fjäder Flashover Recordings Floating Points Flowers For Bodysnatchers Flowjob Fluke Flying Lotus folk Fontana footwork Force Intel Fountain Music Four Tet FPU Frank Bretschneider Frankie Bones Frankie Knuckles Frans de Waard Fred Everything freestyle French house Front Line Assembly Fugees full-on Fun Factory funk future garage Future Sound Of London futurepop g-funk gabber Gabriel Le Mar Gaither Music Group Galaktlan Galati Gang Starr gangsta garage Gareth Davis Gary Martin Gas Gasoline Alley Records Gee Street Geffen Records Gel-Sol Genesis Geometry Combat Gerald Donald Get Physical Music ghetto Ghostface Killah Ghostly International glam Gliese 581C glitch Global Communication Global Underground Globular goa trance God Body Disconnect Gorillaz gospel Gost goth Grammy Awards Gravediggaz Green Day Grey Area Greytone Gridlock grime Groove Armada Groove Corporation Grooverider grunge Guru Gustaf Hidlebrand Gusto Records GZA H2O Records Haddaway Halgrath happy hardcore hard house hard rock hard techno hard trance hardcore Hardfloor hardstyle Harlequins Enigma Harmless Harmonic 33 Harold Budd Harthouse Harthouse Mannheim Hawtin Hearts Of Space Hed Kandi Hefty Records Helen Marnie Hell Hercules And Love Affair Hernán Cattáneo Hexstatic Hi-Bias Records Hic Sunt Leones Hide And Sequence Hiero Emperium Hieroglyphics High Contrast High Note Records Higher Ground Higher Intelligence Agency Hilyard hip-hop hip-house hipno Home Normal Honest Jon's Records Hooj Choons Hope Records horrorcore Hospital Records Hot Chip Hotflush Recordings house Howie B Huey Lewis & The News Human Blue Hybrid Hybrid Leisureland Hymen Records Hyperdub Hypertrophy hypnotic records I Awake I-Cube i! 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Jay Haze Jay Tripwire Jaydee jazz jazz dance jazzdance jazzstep Jean-Michel Jarre Jefferson Airplane Jerry Goldsmith Jesper Dahlbäck Jimmy Van M Jiri.Ceiver Jive Jive Electro Jliat Jlin Joel Mull Joey Beltram John '00' Fleming John Acquaviva John Beltran John Digweed John Graham John Kelly John O'Callaghan John Oswald John Shima Johnny Cash Johnny Jewel Jonny L Jori Hulkkonen Joris Voorn Jørn Stenzel Josh Christie Josh Wink Journeys By DJ™ LLC Joyful Noise Recordings Juan Atkins juke Jump Cut jump up Jumpin' & Pumpin' jungle Junior Boy's Own Junkie XL Juno Reactor Jurassic 5 Kaico Kay Wilder KDJ Ken Ishii Kenji Kawai Kenny Glasgow Keoki Keosz Kerri Chandler Kevin Braheny Kevin Yost Kevorkian Records Khooman Khruangbin Ki/oon Kid Koala Kiko Kinetic Records King Cannibal King Midas Sound King Tubby Kitaro Klang Elektronik Klaus Schulze Klik Records KMFDM Koch Records Koichi Sugiyama Kolhoosi 13 Komakino Kompakt Kon Kan Kool Keith Kozo Kraftwelt Kraftwerk Krafty Kuts krautrock Kriistal Ann Krill.Minima Kris O'Neil Kriztal KRS-One Kruder and Dorfmeister Krusseldorf Kubinski KuckKuck Kulor Kurupt Kwook L.B. Dub Corp L.S.G. L'usine Lab 4 Ladytron LaFace Records Lafleche Lamb Lange Large Records Lars Leonhard Laserlight Digital LateNightTales Latin Laurent Garnier LCD Soundsystem Le Moors Leama and Moor Lee 'Scratch' Perry Lee Burridge Lee Norris Leftfield Legacy Legiac Legowelt Leon Bolier Les Disques Du Crépuscule LFO Linear Labs Lingua Lustra liquid funk Liquid Sound Design Liquid Stranger Liquid Zen Live live album LL Cool J Loco Dice Lodsb London acid crew London Classics London Elektricity London Records 90 Ltd London-Sire Records Loop Guru Loreena McKennitt Lorenzo Masotto Lorenzo Montanà Lost Language Lotek Records Loud Records Louderbach Loverboy Luaka Bop Luciano Luke Slater Lustmord M_nus M.A.N.D.Y. M.I.K.E. 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