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.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Lars Leonhard - Above And Below

self released: 2018

I never expected to get a ton of Lars Leonhard. Yeah, I liked 1549, enough to spring for another CD of his on BineMusic, but so many of his releases were of the digital variety. How could I, a dedicated consumer of the compact disc, debase myself with buying MP3s and WAVs and FLACs and whatever mess Neil Young was trying to push? Naturally, such ass-backwards modes of thinking couldn't last as this decade wore on, and I made sure Mr. Leonhard's digital releases through Ultimae Records were among my 'Must Get' items when I finally relinquished.

In that time, it turned out Lars had started releasing CDr options for his self-released albums, and I nabbed myself a couple that intrigued me, blogging my obligatory nice words for his nice music in the process. Seems Mr. Leonhard liked my nice words regarding his nice music, such that he sent me a whole bundle of his CDrs, some of which I didn't even think were still available. Sweet deal! And now you know why there are quite a few Lars Leonhard album reviews in the pipeline. Anticipation, ooh!

Anyhow, Above And Below. This came out a year ago (to the day! ...almost), so is about as current a look into Lars' songcraft I can give without springing for an actual 2019 release (Pathway, I believe). While it may not be apparent on the CD cover art, the full digital spread features the inner realm of computer city-scapes, leading one to believe this may be some sonic exploration of the micro-digital realm.

Nah, guy, it's mostly more of Lars' brand of dub techno that's occasionally a little on the psy side of things, a thematic through-line not really apparent. That's fine, I guess? Like, I have no problem hearing more of the same from Mr. Leonhard, in that his style hasn't worn out its welcome in the half-dozen releases of his I've thus far taken in. It does give me a little pause, however, on whether I'll still enjoy it so much after I go through the rest of his albums. Future ruminations for future reviews.

So the sounds and the structure of Above And Below remains familiar to many of Lars' prior albums. The more chill stuff hangs out in the first half, while the tempo gets a nice shot in the back end. The middle portion offers a couple items I haven't really heard much out of his discography, Strolling more of a melodic, floating outing than the usual more clinical dub techno exercises, while Drowned Melody is a pure ambient piece, surprisingly lodged mid-album rather than as a bookend. Meanwhile, Immersion provides that technological, neo-urban soundscape the cover art hinted at, with a rumbly low-end that's almost dubsteppy. Or post-dubsteppy, if you must (it was a thing, once). Finally, Above And Below closes out with Pure Piano Passion, wherein Lars performs on a lone instrument I know I've yet to hear from him. No reward for guessing what.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Harold Budd - Abandoned Cities

Cantil/All Saints: 1984/2018

We're not done with the Buddster just yet. The Budd Box contains six of his albums, and I've only covered four of them now. As is clear, he's titled his works all over the alphabet, from the dizzying highs of the 'A's and 'B's, to the decrepit lows of the 'W's and 'V's. Okay, not 'V's, but it don't rhyme otherwise, and like Hell I'm gonna' betray my Canadian heritage in saying anything other than 'zed', eh.

Abandoned Cities was the follow-up to The Serpent (In Quicksilver), and couldn't be more different from that record if ol' Harold tried. In fact, this is almost nothing like anything he'd released prior. And though I've hardly taken in much of his post-'80s work, I can't imagine many pieces in his archives quite like this either. For you see, my friends, Mr. Budd took it upon himself to do something nearly all ambient musicians do: the twenty-minute long composition!

True ultra-lengthy ambient compositions were hardly a new thing by the mid-'80s. Brain Eno's 1/1, the very first ambient track was sixteen and a half minutes long, not to mention- What? Of course 1/1 was the first ambient track. How is that even a debate? It's literally the first track on the first album with the title of Ambient in it! *does a soft-shoe off to Stage Right*

Anyhow, while ambient producers and minimalist Berlin-Schoolers were all about the long-form dronescapes, Budd typically kept his pieces short and to the point, seldom breaching the double-digit domain. Not with Abandoned Cities though, a mere two tracks long, the titular cut a whopping twenty-three in total. And moody, oh my is it ever a moody piece. Like, I get that calling a composition of music Abandoned Cities creates a sense of emptiness and desolation, forlorn thoughts of what once was and is now lost. That omnipresent synth drone though, sounding like a suffocating blanket of darkness and depression, such that Budd's usual gentle piano tones have difficulty piercing the murk. Even those, so often tranquil and introspective in his other works, can't help but ooze melancholy in their surroundings. This is about as 'dark ambient' as I'm sure Budd's ever gone, though still feels more at home in the 'modern classical' domain, befitting an art gallery of derelict husks slowly eroding in vacant urban settings.

If that seems just a tad on the “Hey, you okay, bro'?” side of things, then get a load of the first track on here, Dark Star. As depressive as Abandoned Cities is, at least it still had a thread of humanity in it, Budd's piano a comforting, familiar companion. There's no such instrument in play here though, Harold's trademark gentle touches on the keys replaced with stark synth stabs, stripping out all traces of human soul in the process. Oh, what a tantalizing 'what if' this piece proposes, Harold Budd doing dark ambient for the remain of his career. Might still have worked in that Cocteau Twins collaboration too.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Convextion - 2845

a.r.t.less: 2016

No way I was gonna' skip out on this. Cover art like that must be respected, nurtured, supported, encouraged, and... Well, not replicated, but I'd love to see more airbrushed, pulp sci-fi on techno releases. Why should space-synth have all the glory? I mean, just look at details on that interstellar cruiser. The little lights, splayed all about in no discernible pattern or form, but you know there's a reason that one is red and that row is blue and that grouping is yellow. I could fanwank theory forever on what's going on with this cover art, especially all over a full-sized, spiffy vinyl edition. Unfortunately, I don't collect vinyl, and as it seems there's almost no chance of a CD version of this record (it's been three years since its release now), I had to settle for digital instead. Yeah, this was among my earliest 'floodgates' purchases, why do you ask?

And who is the space maverick taking techno back to its cosmic roots, rescuing it from the clutches of the evil MNML Galactic Empire? Why, none other than Gerard Hanson, not really a very important person in the world of techno. That was mostly intentional though, the Texan preferring the anonymity of a scene that had its eyes and ears fixated on Detroit and Germany. He released a few records as Convextion in the mid-'90s, with sporadic singles emerging in the following years, but seemed to have moth-balled the project after a self-titled retrospective album. He was more focused on his electro alias E.R.P. at that point anyway, and with techno so enamoured with sterile German minimalism, his retro-future style didn't have much place.

Then, out of the blue, this! I guess the time was finally right for techno in this style to regain its shine. Like, if B12 could make a comeback, why not Convextion? I wouldn't go so far as to say Mr. Hanson's been on a tear since releasing 2845, but he's certainly had one of the highest profiles in recent years within this particular niche of the scene. Probably a lot of anticipation for what sort of lovely cover art his next album will have!

Of course, all this hype wouldn't exist if there wasn't damn good music to go along with it. Even though the sixteen-minute opener has more in common with the dubbier explorations of a print like Silent Season, New Horizon has enough sci-fi bleeps and zaps penetrating the murky echo-space to fixate it solidly in cosmic domains. Or Atlantian, in a pinch (yeah, there's a Drexciyan vibe to this particular track).

The remaining six tracks are all about as solid offerings of vintage Detroit techno as you could hope for in this day and age. I really can't detail it any more than that, as the genre just has that particular sound that tickles the frontal cortex just right, especially if you vibe on the proper spaced-out variants of the sound. Only preaching to the choir at this point, my friends.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Harlequins Enigma - Brooding Brains In Vain

self released: 2019

(a Patreon Request from Åge Riisnes)

I don't dig very far into the realm of New Age music, almost entirely due to my early explorations of the genre didn't impress me much. Sure, you had the Kitaros and the Vangeliseses of the scene, but such artists have expansive works crossing multiple genres throughout their careers. No, I'm talking the 'real' stuff, which you'd find on lonesome tapes in spiritual healing shops on a counter beside faith crystals and aromatherapy tinctures. Very under-produced, is what I'm getting at, and while one could admire the punkish hustle in getting such music out on the market, my ears simply weren't having it, needing something a little more polished (dubby?) to do the business for me.

What's kinda' remarkable about such early, primitive music efforts in New Age is how even that found itself something of a retro revival, right down its aesthetic and means of distribution. Yeah, that whole vaporwave thing, but I'm talkin' digital store fronts and streaming services opening the floodgates for every manner of hopeful producer gaining wider audiences.

Still, just putting your stuff out on the internet and expecting results is ludicrous without some hustle. If your chosen music scene is as long and storied as New Age, it's gonna' take a fair amount of hustle to get noticed in an overstuffed market. And this here Harlequins Enigma sure has been on a hustling spree this past decade, getting his music out on streaming services while working whatever connections he has in the music business to get some top-tier collaborations underneath his belt, all the while remaining completely independent. I'm talkin' Vangelis, Kitaro, Schulze, Jarre, Mode, 'Werk, Amos! At least, that's what a number of Discoggian credits say. I don't know the extent of how these collaborations went down.

Oh, I guess I should also mention Harlequins Enigma's hustle has even gone to such lengths as to pay me Patreon money for a review. Wasn't that known as 'payola', back in the day? Only if I had nothing but insincere praise for the music, and y'all know I'd never do that, right?

Brooding Brains In Vain is a compilation of older Harlequins Enigma music, mostly cribbing music from such albums like Lyra, Heartbeat, Stargazer, and Octagon Volume 1 – Phase 7. Some of it's serviceable New Age music done in an old-school way (oh man, can I tell whenever Kitaro's muse is about), some of it sounds like it could have used more time in the mixdown process, and some of it left me scratching my head (are those... brostep belches in The Tattering Norm?).

What really threw me for a loop, though, was the track sequencing. For some reason, Åge put everything into alphabetical order, creating more than a couple wonky transitions between tracks. I at first thought I'd somehow downloaded the album incorrectly, but nope, it's like that on the Bandcamp page too. What sort of silly goose makes a track sequence in alphabetical order?

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Ringo Sheena - Muzai Moratorium

Eastworld: 1999

(a Patreon Request from Philoi)

Even for some of the items that are well outside my wheelhouse, this one's practically lost over the horizon from my usual vantage point. Sure, I've touched upon J-pop plenty of times, but much of that has lineage from Western music, so it's not much of a leap for me to wax the bull about such releases on a purely 'dumb' level. Even the scant offerings of Japanese alternative rock I've covered at least borrows elements of shoegazey indie, which has enough ties to some forms of electronic music that I could at least bluff my way through it. And while I don't go out of my way to play much Western alternative rock for myself, I can't help but absorb it through cultural osmosis no matter where I live on this continent. Like, even the most back-ass, evangelical hubs, where they listen to nothing but gospel and Christian music – there's always a Christian version of alternative rock music.

J-pop grunge though? I don't know where to begin with this. Never would I have thought the brick-walled racket of Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots could merge with Japanese vocals. Even the nation's version of screechy noise-punk makes more sense to me than this, the Japanese famous for taking Western ideas to absurdist, extreme levels.

I suppose I can at least start with who Ringo Sheena is, though I admit I'm doing nothing more than reiterating Wikipedia talking points here. Yes, I am once again dealing with a Japanese artist/musician/song-writer that is super-huge in their native homeland, but has almost no market penetration where I'm from. Or maybe a little bit, seeing as how I reside on the Pacific Rim and all. Surely a Japanaese star with two decades under her belt has a fanbase in Vancouver, especially with a major, global label backing her.

That's getting a little ahead of myself though. We're here with her debut Muzai Moratorium (aka: Innocence Moratorium; aka: 無罪モラトリアム), released on stalwart Japanese print Eastworld, which she apparently wrote and released while still a teenager. Well, in Japanese terms, that's not that impressive, what with their teen demographic often called upon to save the city/nation/universe (sorry, couldn't resist that one).

Seriously though, it's quite remarkable the amount of diversity on display here. Yeah, there's the pure noisy-rock turns (A View Of Happiness, Caution, Playing With Blocks, Kiss Me), but also stabs at ragtime (Queen Of Kabuki-cho, Marunouchi Sadistic) and j-pop balladry (Sid & Daydreams, Ordinary Night, Morphine), with assorted sprinklings of other genres littered throughout. 'Orient-techno' inPlaying With Blocks, discordant orchestras in Ordinary Night, etc.

Despite the level of production involved, Muzai Moratorium has quite the 'garage-rock' sheen to it, such that everything's rather bricked when listening to it. Half the time, I can't even make out Ringo's lyrics, even the English ones. Still, impressive use of rolling 'R's. I didn't know the Japanese could even do that!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Emiliana Torrini - Love In The Time Of Science

Virgin: 1999

(a Patreon Request from Omskbird)

I don't know much about Emiliana Torrini, but I've apparently heard her a couple times without realizing it. The most prominent example I've noticed in her 'Top Spotify Tracks' list is Gollum's Song, the closing credits theme to Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers. Now, even though I didn't get the soundtracks for those films (as lush as they are), I know I've heard that song in full, as I've watched the end credits all the way through, and the extended editions! If nothing else than for the lovely sketch artwork included during the runtime. Or simple movie viewing inertia. Gotta'... see... to... the... END!

More than that though, I know I've heard Ms. Torrini as far back as this particular album, even though I didn't know it at the time – probably thought the song a Björk tune when I heard it (not without good reason to, more on which in a bit). I am, of course, talking about Summerbre- No, just kidding, it's Wednesday's Child, which is baffling to me because, according to Lord Discogs, there's almost no way I could have heard it so prominently. The album it came from, Love In The Time Of Science, had sprung half a dozen singles, not one of which was this particular tune. Yet, the gentle organ chords, orchestral swells, the lyrics in the chorus, the “ba-ba-ba ba, ba-ba-ba baaa” bridge... I know I've heard it before, and frequently, as though it was a minor radio hit back in the day. How? Where? Why??

Emiliana Torrini had released a few albums in her native Iceland prior to Love In The Time Of Science, plus provided vocals for GusGus, but for all intents this was her debut to a wider audience. Being that she hailed from the same country as Björk, and was signed to the same label as Björk, One Little Indian, it's not surprising that this album feels like her producers were trying to mould Ms. Torrini into a similar star. Especially as Björk had grown a tad too esoteric for pop radio by decade's end. Don't worry, folks, here's another Icelandic chanteuse doing singer-songwriter trip-hop! Not sure those were shoes Emiliana was eager to wear, especially as her following body of work generally steered further way from the trip-hop as heard here. Plenty of guest features and writing credits in that wake though.

The '90s certainly drip in Love In The Name Of Science, if that's any way to describe an album of singer-songwriter trip-hop. It sometimes comes off a little over-produced for the simple, intimate nature of the lyrics, though I never feel Emiliana is overshadowed by the orchestral flourishes or wall-of-sound rhythms. The gritty, chaotic guitar squall of Telepathy wouldn't hurt with a Tricky guest verse either. And yes, Summerbreeze does provide an acoustic outing for the whole album, like a gentle closing credits sequence to all that came before. Would be good for future consideration in soundtracks, especially if Björk isn't available.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Various - Hed Kandi World Series: Miami

Hed Kandi: 2011

Someone must have told the Hed Kandi offices they done fucked up on the London volume of World Series, because is this ever an improvement. It's still not great, mind you, but Miami at least feels like a Hed Kandi release, unlike the generic, soulless Ministry Of Sound bandwagon jump London was. Even a glance at the tracklist shows the music steering back to the tried, tested and true vibes of days gone by. Wally Lopez! Olav Basoski! The Shapeshifters! Funkagenda! StoneBridge! Like, seriously, StoneBridge is one of the stalwarts of Hed Kandi, always getting repped in their compilations, and London had him not. That alone proves how full of fail those CDs were (no offence to Avicii, but c'mon).

All hyperbole aside, I should bring y'all up to speed on what the World Series was all about. Far as I can tell, it was Ministry Of Sound Hed Kandi's attempt at a Global Underground styled globe-trotting DJ mix series, though focusing on top-tier fashion locales as well as clubbing hot spots. Not an entirely daft idea for a series, and the Hed Kandi of old certainly branded itself as something of a trendy taste-maker within that particular scene.

Thus the inlays are filled with spiffy write-ups about hot clubs, cool restaurants, and must-visit boutique shops (why yes, Ministry Of Sound was the first club mentioned in the London inlay, why do you ask?). Again, not a bad idea for extra promotional branding, but it seems the series wasn't long for the world (arf), folding shortly after this volume. Interestingly, Miami is the only locale with a sequel. Just can't beat those Latin jams, eh? Or those WMC perks.

To be critically honest though, both discs are filled with big builds and anthems and all that rot I bitched about in the London mixes (different local DJs handle each disc, but their styles are so similar, it's a moot point who they are). The difference is how they deliver though, how many of the peaks actually thrust forward with enthusiasm, not drop into a plodding anti-anthem. Oh, this build lasts over a minute? Don't matter, 'cause that peak with the bellowing diva is gonna' have you flailing like a junglist! Okay, maybe not that enthusiastically, but more than whatever those dopes on ketamine are up to.

Granted, it's not all forward-momentum goodness all the time. There are stretches where the builds are too gratuitous or don't deliver what they promise or don't serve any purpose other than having a build for build's sake because you gotta' have a build in every single track in a Ministry Of Sound mandated release. In a way though, it almost works, the lesser builds highlighting how good the great builds are. Plus, the fact it all sounds like Hed Kandi music (except that one McProg track, wha'da'fuq?), shameless and shallow but disco-y and fun, that's good too. Look, after the abysmal showing in the previous World Series collection, I'll take it.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Various - Hed Kandi World Series: London

Hed Kandi: 2010

I've heard the tales of Hed Kandi's turn toward shameless bandwagon chasing so often repeated that I couldn't help but repeat them myself. Surely the folks that were following the label since its inception would be knowledgeable in those matters, such that I could trust their opinions on it. Still, always that lingering doubt in my head, wondering if it was a classic case of a fandom growing jaded as their favoured thing drifts from that which they so initially enjoyed. I know I've been guilty of such notions, and while the Hed Kandi brand wasn't a super-underground franchise, it did carve out a particular niche in the clubbing consciousness by adhering to a certain aesthetic that appealed to a certain demographic: classy, funky, soulful disco and house for those who liked classy, funky, soulful disco and house.

So I can imagine with great sympathy the pain and sense of betrayal the Hed Kandi faithful felt upon hearing a triple-CD outing such as this. Like, I get why the label would take such a turn, the allure of big festival fuck-off money too tempting to resist. And sure, Timothy Berg had hit upon a successful formula that was super-easy to copy and paste for others to capitalize on, such that you could whip up your own Avicii clones to fill out a CD or three. That was never really Hed Kandi's M.O. though, was it? Yeah, their brand of disco house was commercial at times, something you'd hear in boutique clothing stores at the mall. Never the main mall speakers though.

CD 1 of World Series: London is all anthem house (re: 'big room EDM'), all the way through. And while Avicii only appears a few times in this set, his impact can be felt throughout. It's utterly banal and tiring and the sort of stop-start nonsense you'd have expected from the eurotrance scene. Nope, this is now what house music also is, and what Hed Kandi's pushing, so fuck all those who held the label with any sort of regard for class. Funk and soul is dead.

“Hey, now, Bitter Boy, that's just CD 1, the clubbing fodder used to lure impulse buyers in,” some may claim. “CD 2 is where the real tunes are, right?” Sure, if you fancy yourself anthemic 'deep' house – a bunch of big builds, but crashing out into monotonous tech-house anti-grooves. You can hear flashes of Hed Kandi of old, little pieces of singing soul sista's and booty-shakin' rhythms, but come off like teasing nostalgia triggers to remind you of what once was, but no longer is.

Honestly, were it not for the unmixed third CD, with awesome names like Tiga, Peaches, Röyksopp, and Silicone Soul included, World Series: London would have been a total write-off for yours truly. This was the sort of music that caused my 'crisis of faith' back in 2010 (among others), and I wasn't even a Hed Kandi follower then! Those poor, unfortunate souls...

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Winterhouse - Winter Gardens

dataObscura: 2012

I assume my fascination with winter's clime' stems from the fact I live in a region that doesn't experience winter in the 'traditional' sense. Sure, we get snow once or thrice a season, but to be perpetually blanketed in a white layer of quieting frozen water is incredibly rare. Thus, when constantly bombarded with romantic imagery of such seasonal situations, it makes one fonder for that which we need not deal with. Maybe I need to go snow-shoeing around the local ski hills to get it out of my system.

When ambient music tackles wintery aesthetics, it's often as bleak and desolate drone. Sometimes we'll get shimmery, crystalline moments, but as brief respites of glistening beauty among the suffocating, icy gloom. It's uncommon finding albums that explore frigid environments as someplace mysterious and magical; a 'wonderland', if you may. Or there's a huge sub-sub genre-market for it out there, and I'm wandering the wrong wastelands. The artists are probably all Japanese too.

Anyhow, this is a roundabout way of me justifying my purchase of Winter Gardens from The Winterhouse. Something evocative about that cover art, y'know, luring me in into a tranquil, hibernating forest, exploring nooks and crannies sheltering small, sleeping mammals. As I say, perfect settings to indulge a little snow-shoeing, but a suitable soundtrack for such an endeavor?

The Winterhouse is a collaborative project from Anthony Kerby and Robert Davies. The former I've talked up plenty now, since diving into dataObscura meant diving into a lot of his musical output. Mr. Davies I haven't touched upon yet, though his story isn't much different from Mr. Kerby's: some two dozen albums, mostly all released on dataObscura as well, with Winterhouse being his lone outside project. So, does that make him the Solar Fields to Kerby's Aes Dana, with Winterhouse being dataObscura's H.U.V.A. Project? Doubtful, but it's a fun notion nonetheless.

While I wasn't expecting some cheery, chipper, New Age outing with Winter Gardens, I was expecting a little less of the pure drone that I've heard from dataObscura thus far. 'Tis not to be, this one just as layered and minimalist as most of the music I've heard from Kerby and co'. Which isn't such a bad thing if I'm in the mood for moody pad work and sparse melodic movements. I dunno' tho', seeing so much stark white in the cover had me thinking Winter Gardens would be a bit... brighter. Silly me, overlooking the greyscale forest from the shadowy trees.

Winter Hymn does provide a pleasant, tranquil opener, but the foreboding tones of dark ambient are quick to make their presence felt in follow-up The Depths Of Winter. The murky mood mostly permeates the rest of the album, with We Walk Through Glass offering some of those shimmering, glistening sounds I alluded to albums of this nature so often containing. Feel Winter Gardens could have used more moments like that. Isn't a garden supposed to highlight the beauty of nature, not the suppression of it?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Spielerei & Mantacoup - Wichman And Other Pieces

Databloem: 2004

I started this current, nigh-endless alphabetical backlog on a Spielerei & Mantacoup release. Seems appropriate that, as I come to its end, I finish with a Spielerei & Mantacoup release. Not quite the end, mind, still a couple more items below here, but man, what a journey it's been, eh? I reviewed Cold War all the way back in, gosh, March? And here we are, around one hundred reviews later, not to mention multiple weeks of vacation thrown in (plus, um, other 'stuff'). All acceptable factors in taking as long as I have in getting through it, but man, it sure felt a slog at some points. Just a tad too much of the noodly, droning ambient, methinks.

What's even funnier about (nearly) ending this run on this particular album is its place in the Spielerei & Mantacoup discography, as this was the first one they released together. Keep in mind that Cold War was their last collaborative work, and was the first CD I reviewed in this stretch. Never would I have thought the sequencing in this project of mine would contain an actual ouroboros; at least, not until I reach Model 500's Classics again.

Wichman And Other Pieces may be the first album these two released together, though they each had some work out on dataObscura in that time too. So the two crossed paths, vibed on the synergy, and made some music – not an uncommon occurrence in the going-ons of musicians. What makes this particular CD so funny-weird is the fact it's mostly a live album. Yes, their 'debut' release mostly includes recordings taken from The Wichman Concert, which is a rather ballsy move on Databloem's part. The young label hadn't even reached it's tenth release yet, but hey, here's a live session from a couple artists making their debut on our print. I joke, but truthfully, Databloem had been releasing a few of these 'Databloem In Concert' CDs already, including one from Saul Stokes, plus another due from The Circular Ruins (because of course).

For the purposes of this CD, The Wichman Concert is divided up into seven parts, though it is a continuous long-play with various movements and sections throughout. So lots of segments of synth drone, pad washes, burbly electronics, and soft, dubby ambient techno rhythms. Part 4 gets surprisingly aggressive, its chugging, groovy beats sounding like they're being dragged through dub-mud, while Part 7 provides the requisite uptempo closure to a live set (paging Dr. Jarre on that one), though nothing that'll have folks rioting in their zoot suits.

As the album title implies, there wasn't enough material in the concert for a full-fledged album, so four additional pieces are added. These mostly follow upon the same moody, dubby ambient techno vibes as the live stuff, while Sfunato treads startlingly close to the domain of psy-dub. It's all quite good and all, though really mostly just confirms Databloem a class label throughout its lifespan than anything on the artists' part.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Harold Budd - The White Arcades

Opal Records/All Saints: 1988/2018

I've noticed some folks pointing to this particular album as the point Harold Budd broke out from being thought of as just 'that guy who provides piano on Brian Eno's ambient', which is funny since Brian Eno produced this album. I get where they're coming from though, Harold's most prominent records prior to this still his Eno collaborations (Ambient 2: The Plateaux Of Mirrors and The Pearl). He'd released at least a half-dozen other LPs in that time, but remained rather obscure compared to those – forced to basically self-release some of them didn't help Budd's efforts in getting noticed outside Eno's shadow.

Still, Harold found other musicians to work with throughout his budding '80s career, including the folks over in the Cocteau Twins camp. He even made an album with them, The Moon And The Melodies, though for some reason, it wasn't credited as an album with the Cocteau Twins. Rather, each member of the band was credited separately, as though they were musicians on par with Harold Budd in this particular recording session. Odd, is all I'm saying, though it did give Mr. Budd access to their studio for future projects, plus a little extra bump of prestige beyond the ambient art world.

The effects of that collaboration could definitely be felt in Lovely Thunder, released the same year as The Moon And The Melody, and might have even been included in this Budd Box, if it had been out on a different label. But nay, the purpose of this set was to round up Harold's albums on minor prints, from which the follow-up to that was The White Arcades, released on Opal Records. In fact, it was among the print's launching releases, established by, of course, Brian Eno. Well, something had to take the place of the defunct Editions EG. Again, it just seems odd seeing folks pointing here as Harold's major turning point outside Eno's influence with so much of Brian's hand still in the pot.

What I think is meant is that The White Arcades is a handy summation of what Budd was doing throughout the '80s, a nice capper on a decade's worth of music making. For sure it's got the gentle piano tones about, but moody, atmospheric pad work with modern classical flourishes too. Yeah, we're still in the era when ambient was still mostly abstract art music, so you wouldn't imagine this stuff being out of place in museum galleries or the like, but it's also quite nice and soothing and relaxing to hear too. We're still a year or two off from when the scene would take a sharp turn towards the ravey-psychedelic stuff.

The White Arcades might be among Harold Budd's best solo albums of the '80s, but as I've already talked about so many of his albums from that period, I'm not left with much else to say than that. You should know what to expect from a Budd joint by now, and this record delivers it wonderfully.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Hexstatic - When Robots Go Bad!

Ninja Tune: 2007

When stacked against commercial success, Hexstatic might be one of Ninja Tune's most successful, though almost entirely due to their breakout single. Which was a collaboration with Coldcut. Of course, I'm talking about Timber, and whether it was Hexstatic or Coldcut that actually had more to do with the single, it remains one of the label's most famous hits, one that would be difficult to follow upon. Not that Coldcut had much need to, their legacy in dance music's history firmly entrenched. Hexstatic though, they may have had some pressure in creating another chart topper, lest they be thought of just a flash in the pan wonder. Would explain the bandwagon jumping on When Robots Go Bad!

Or maybe I'm thinking too much into this. Hexstatic did spend their initial album efforts doing quirky cut-up electro and traditional Ninja-hop (including a supremely cheekily titled track called Ninja Tune - it has chop-socky samples). When listening to this LP though, with half the tunes such blatant cross-over attempts compared to their past discography, I can't help but make such assumptions. Like, I know 'electro' was big and all in the mid-'00s, but they didn't have to go this far and obvious with it, did they? Surely Coldcut's failed 'pop' singles from Sound Mirrors should have clued them in this wasn't a lane Ninja Tune could easily adapt to?

The best way I can describe When Robots Go Bad! is it's an album I would have absolutely loathed in the year it came out, and probably have written a scathing, snarky, embarrassing review for TranceCritic on it. I was so done with trashy club fodder trying to pass itself as cool and hip that I'd basically deny whatever good tunes might come paired with it. It wasn't a very good stance to have on music, but eh, we're all rather immature in our opinions when we've yet to reach thirty, amirite?

I can't say tracks like Red Laser Beam, Freak Me, Prom Night Party, and Move On have aged well because you couldn't imagine them being made at any other time; the Ed Banger aesthetic was almost as prevalent as 'minimal' was. To say nothing of Bust, so desperately trying to be Boys Noize it hurts.

Fortunately, they're the most egregious examples of Hexstatic 'going bad', the rest of the album moving between classier stabs at mainstream electro (Tokyo Traffic), and right-proper electro jams. Man, if only the whole CD had been like the smashing Newton's Cradle, or smooth-cruisin' Newwaves and TLC (that one's almost atmospheric jungle). Meanwhile, tunes like Roll Over and A Different Place provide enough soul-sista' finesse for the requisite vocal needs, if Hexstatic were so insistent on having them.

So an album with some good, some bad, some middling, and a rather odd entry into the Ninja Tune catalogue. Can't say the Ninja faithful would have been pleased with it, but I imagine they were more interested in new Amon Tobin or Cinematic Orchestra that year anyway.

Things I've Talked About

...txt 10 Records 16 Bit Lolita's 1963 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2 Play Records 2 Unlimited 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 20xx Update 2562 3 Loop Music 302 Acid 36 3FORCE 3six Recordings 4AD 6 x 6 Records 75 Ark 7L & Esoteric 808 State A Perfect Circle A Positive Life A-Wave a.r.t.less A&M Records A&R Records Abandoned Communities Abasi Above and Beyond abstract Ace Trace Ace Tracks Playlists Ace Ventura acid acid house acid jazz acid techno acoustic Acroplane Recordings Adam Freeland Adham Shaikh ADNY Adrian Younge adult contemporary Advanced UFO Phantom Aegri Somnia Aes Dana Afrika Bambaataa Afro-house Afterhours Agoria Aidan Casserly Aira Mitsuki Ajana Records Ajna AK1200 Akshan album Aldrin Alex Smoke Alex Theory Alice In Chains Alien Community Alien Project Alio Die All Saints Alphabet Zoo Alphaxone Altar Records Alter Ego alternative rock Alucidnation Ambelion Ambidextrous ambient ambient dub ambient techno Ambient World Ambientium Ametsub Amon Tobin Amplexus Anabolic Frolic Anatolya Andrea Parker Andrew Heath Androcell Anduin Andy C anecdotes Aniplex Anjunabeats Annibale Records Anodize Another Fine Day Antendex anthem house Anthony Paul Kerby Anthony Rother Anti-Social Network Aphasia Records Aphex Twin Apócrýphos Apollo Apple Records April Records Aqua Aquarellist Aquascape Aquasky Aquila Arcade Architects Of Existence arena rock Arista Armada Armin van Buuren Arpatle Arts & Crafts ASC Ashtech Asia Asian Dub Foundation Astral Projection Astral Waves Astralwerks AstroPilot Asura Asylum Records ATCO Records Atlantic Atlantis atmospheric jungle Atomic Hooligan Atrium Carceri Attic Audion AuroraX Autechre Autistici Autumn Of Communion Avantgarde Aveparthe Avicii Axiom Axs Axtone Records Aythar B.G. The Prince Of Rap B°TONG B12 Babygrande Balance Balanced Records Balearic ballad Banco de Gaia Bandulu battle-rap Bauri Beastie Boys Beat Buzz Records Beatbox Machinery Beats & Pieces bebop Beck Bedouin Soundclash Bedrock Records Beechwood Music Benny Benassi Bent Benz Street US Berlin-School Beto Narme Beyond bhangra Bicep big beat Big Boi Big L Big Life Bill Hamel Bill Laswell BIlly Idol BineMusic BioMetal Biophon Records Biosphere Bipolar Music BKS Black Hole Recordings black rebel motorcycle club Black Swan Sounds Blanco Y Negro Blasterjaxx Blend Blood Music Blow Up Blue Öyster Cult blues Bluescreen Bluetech BMG Boards Of Canada Bob Dylan Bob Marley Bobina Bogdan Raczynzki Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Boney M Bong Load Records Bonzai Boogie Down Productions Booka Shade Botchit & Scarper Bows Boxed Boys Noize Boysnoize Records BPitch Control braindance Brandt Brauer Frick Brasil & The Gallowbrothers Band breakcore breaks Brian Eno Brian Wilson Brick Records Britpop Brodinski broken beat Brooklyn Music Ltd Bryan Adams BT Bubble Buffalo Springfield Bulk Recordings Burial Burned CDs Bursak Records Bush Busta Rhymes C.I.A. Calibre calypso Canibus Canned Resistor Capitol Records Capsula Captured Digital Carbon Based Lifeforms Carl B Carl Craig Carol C Caroline Records Carpe Sonum Records Castroe Cat Sun CD-Maximum Ceephax Acid Crew Celestial Dragon Records Cell Celtic Cevin Fisher Cheb i Sabbah Cheeky Records chemical breaks Chihei Hatakeyama chill out chill-out chiptune Chris Duckenfield Chris Fortier Chris Korda Chris Sheppard Chris Witoski Christmas Christopher Lawrence Chromeo Chronos Chrysalis Ciaran Byrne cinematic soundscapes Circular Cirrus Cities Last Broadcast City Of Angels CJ Stone Claptone classic house classic rock classical Claude Young Clear Label Records Cleopatra Cloud 9 Club Cutz Club Tools Cocoon Recordings Cold Spring Coldcut Coldplay coldwave Colette collagist Columbia Com.Pact Records comedy Compilation Comrie Smith Connect.Ohm conscious Control Music Convextion Cooking Vinyl Cor Fijneman Corderoy Cosmic Gate Cosmic Replicant Cosmo Cocktail Cosmos Studios Cottonbelly Council Of Nine Counter Records country country rock Covert Operations Recordings Craig Padilla Crazy Horse Cream Creamfields Crockett's Theme Crosby Stills And Nash Crosstown Rebels crunk Cryo Chamber Cryobiosis Cryogenic Weekend Crystal Moon Cube Guys Culture Beat Curb Records Current Curve cut'n'paste Cyan Music Cyber Productions CyberOctave Cyclic Law Cygna Cyril Secq Czarface D-Bridge D-Fuse D-Topia Entertainment Dacru Records Daddy G Daft Punk Dag Rosenqvist Damian Lazarus Damon Albarn Dan The Automator Dance 2 Trance Dance Pool dancehall Daniel Heatcliff Daniel Lentz Daniel Pemberton Daniel Wanrooy Dao Da Noize dark ambient dark psy darkcore darkside darkstep darkwave Darla Records Darren McClure Darren Nye DAT Records Databloem dataObscura David Alvarado David Bickley David Guetta David Morley DDR De-tuned Dead Coast Dead Melodies Deadmau5 Death Grips Death Row Records Decimal Dedicated Deejay Goldfinger Deep Dish Deep Forest deep house Deeply Rooted House Deepwater Black Def Jam Recordings Del Tha Funkee Homosapien Delerium Delsin Deltron 3030 Depeche Mode Der Dritte Raum Derek Carr Detroit Devin Underwood DFA DGC diametric. Dido Dieselboy Different DigiCube Dillinja dirty house Dirty South Dirty Vegas disco Disco Gecko disco house Disco Pinata Records disco punk Discover (label) Disky Disques Dreyfus Distant System Distinct'ive Breaks Disturbance Divination DJ 3000 DJ Brian DJ Craze DJ Dan DJ Dean DJ Gonzalo DJ Heather DJ John Kelley DJ Merlin DJ Mix DJ Moe Sticky DJ Observer DJ Premier DJ Q-Bert DJ Shadow DJ Soul Slinger DJ-Kicks Djen Ajakan Shean DJMag DMC DMC Records Doc Scott Dogon Dogwhistle Dooflex Dopplereffekt Dossier Dousk downtempo dowtempo Dr. Atmo Dr. Dre Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Dr. Octagon Dragon Quest dream house dream pop DreamWorks Records Drexciya drill 'n' bass Dronarivm drone Dronny Darko drum 'n' bass DrumNBassArena drunken review dub Dub Pistols dub techno Dub Trees Dubfire dubstep DuMonde Dune Dusted Dynatron E-Mantra E-Z Rollers Eardream Music Earth Earth Nation Earthling Eastcoast Eastcost EastWest Eastworld Eat Static EBM Echodub Ed Rush & Optical Editions EG EDM World Weekly News Ektoplazm electro Electro House Electro Sun electro-funk electro-pop electroclash Electronic Dance Essentials Electronic Music Guide Electrovoya Elektra Elektrolux em:t EMC update EMI Emiliana Torrini Eminem Emmerichk Emperor Norton Empire enCAPSULAte Engine Recordings Enigma Enmarta EP Epic epic trance Erased Tapes Records Eric Borgo Erik Vee Erol Alkan Escape Esoteric Reactive ethereal Etnica Etnoscope Euphoria euro dance eurotrance Eurythmics Eve Records Everlast Ewan Pearson Exitab experimental Eye Q Records Ezdanitoff F Communications Fabric Fade Records Faithless Falcon Reekon Fallen fanfic Fantastisizer Fantasy Enhancing Fatboy Slim Fax +49-69/450464 Fear Factory Fedde Le Grand Fehrplay Feist Fektive Records Felix da Housecat Fennesz Ferry Corsten FFRR field recordings Filter filters Final Fantasy Firescope Five AM Fjäder Flashover Recordings Floating Points Flowers For Bodysnatchers Flowjob Fluke Flying Lotus folk footwork Force Intel Fountain Music Four Tet FPU Frank Bretschneider Frankie Bones Frankie Knuckles Frans de Waard Fred Everything freestyle French house Front Line Assembly Fugees full-on Fun Factory funk future garage Future Sound Of London futurepop g-funk gabber Gabriel Le Mar Gaither Music Group Galaktlan Galati Gang Starr gangsta garage Gareth Davis Gary Martin Gas Gasoline Alley Records Gee Street Geffen Records Gel-Sol Genesis Geometry Combat Gerald Donald Get Physical Music ghetto Ghostface Killah Ghostly International glam Gliese 581C glitch Global Communication Global Underground Globular goa trance God Body Disconnect Gorillaz gospel Gost goth Grammy Awards Gravediggaz Green Day Grey Area Greytone Gridlock grime Groove Armada Groove Corporation Grooverider grunge Guru Gustaf Hidlebrand Gusto Records GZA H2O Records Haddaway Halgrath happy hardcore hard house hard rock hard techno hard trance hardcore Hardfloor hardstyle Harlequins Enigma Harmless Harmonic 33 Harold Budd Harthouse Harthouse Mannheim Hawtin Hearts Of Space Hed Kandi Hefty Records Helen Marnie Hell Hercules And Love Affair Hernán Cattáneo Hexstatic Hi-Bias Records Hic Sunt Leones Hide And Sequence Hiero Emperium Hieroglyphics High Contrast High Note Records Higher Ground Higher Intelligence Agency Hilyard hip-hop hip-house hipno Home Normal Honest Jon's Records Hooj Choons Hope Records horrorcore Hospital Records Hot Chip Hotflush Recordings house Howie B Huey Lewis & The News Human Blue Hybrid Hybrid Leisureland Hymen Records Hyperdub Hypertrophy hypnotic records I Awake I-Cube i! Records I.F.O.R. I.R.S. Records Iboga Records Ice Cube Ice H2o Records ICE MC IDM Igorrr illbient Imperial Dancefloor Imploded View In Charge In Trance We Trust Incoming Incubus Indica Records indie rock Industrial Infected Mushroom Infinite Guitar influence records Infonet Ink Midget Inner Ocean Records Insane Clown Posse Inspectah Deck Instinct Ambient Instra-Mental Inter-Modo Interchill Records Internal International Deejays Gigolo Interscope Records Intimate Productions Intuition Recordings ISBA Music Entertainment Ishkur Ishq Island Records Islands Of Light Italians Do It Better italo disco italo house Item Caligo J-pop Jack Moss Jacob Newman Jafu Jake Stephenson Jam and Spoon Jam El Mar James Blake James Horner James Murray James Zabiela Jamie Jones Jamie Myerson Jamie Principle Jamiroquai Javelin Ltd. Jay Haze Jay Tripwire Jaydee jazz jazz dance jazzdance jazzstep Jean-Michel Jarre Jefferson Airplane Jerry Goldsmith Jesper Dahlbäck Jiri.Ceiver Jive Jive Electro Jliat Jlin Joel Mull Joey Beltram John '00' Fleming John Acquaviva John Beltran John Digweed John Graham John Kelly John O'Callaghan John Oswald John Shima Johnny Cash Johnny Jewel Jonny L Jori Hulkkonen Jørn Stenzel Josh Christie Josh Wink Journeys By DJ™ LLC Joyful Noise Recordings Juan Atkins juke Jump Cut jump up Jumpin' & Pumpin' jungle Junior Boy's Own Junkie XL Juno Reactor Jurassic 5 Kaico Kay Wilder KDJ Ken Ishii Kenji Kawai Kenny Glasgow Keoki Keosz Kerri Chandler Kevin Braheny Kevin Yost Kevorkian Records Khooman Khruangbin Ki/oon Kid Koala Kiko Kinetic Records King Cannibal King Midas Sound King Tubby Kitaro Klang Elektronik Klaus Schulze Klik Records KMFDM Koch Records Koichi Sugiyama Kolhoosi 13 Komakino Kompakt Kon Kan Kool Keith Kozo Kraftwelt Kraftwerk Krafty Kuts krautrock Kriistal Ann Krill.Minima Kris O'Neil Kriztal KRS-One Kruder and Dorfmeister Krusseldorf Kubinski KuckKuck Kulor Kurupt Kwook L.B. Dub Corp L.S.G. L'usine Lab 4 Ladytron LaFace Records Lafleche Lange Large Records Lars Leonhard Laserlight Digital LateNightTales Latin Laurent Garnier LCD Soundsystem Le Moors Leama and Moor Lee 'Scratch' Perry Lee Norris Leftfield Legacy Legiac Legowelt Leon Bolier Les Disques Du Crépuscule LFO Linear Labs Lingua Lustra liquid funk Liquid Sound Design Liquid Stranger Liquid Zen Live live album LL Cool J Loco Dice Lodsb London acid crew London Classics London Elektricity London Records 90 Ltd London-Sire Records Loop Guru Loreena McKennitt Lorenzo Masotto Lorenzo Montanà Lost Language Lotek Records Loud Records Louderbach Loverboy Luaka Bop Luciano Luke Slater Lustmord M_nus M.A.N.D.Y. M.I.K.E. 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