Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Markus Schulz - Amsterdam 08 (Original TC Review)

Armada: 2008

(2019 Update:
Man, is there anything left for me to update regarding the Schulzer? I already did one of these with
Ibiza 06, actually went back and surprisingly enjoyed his earlier mixes, and am pretty sure touched on all his activities of the past decade. Did I mention his mid-life crisis pairing with Ferry Corsten as New World Punx? That should be reiterated, absolutely. He did release another artist album this past year, where he poses in all white while glancing at a piano, touching a single key as though... y'know, I've no idea what sort of message that's supposed to portray. Seems either hilari-bad, or ineptly pretentious. Almost curious of what the album sounds like though, just to hear where his muse has wandered in all this time. His go at the creaky In Search Of Sunrise series too, if I'm being honest.

Most of the complaints (and faint praises) I had with this set remained intact as I replayed this. It's funny though, how without even looking at the tracklist again, I instantly knew which tracks Carl B had his fingers in. Very definition of hilari-bad eurotrance excess.)



IN BRIEF: I dub thee Side-Chain Schulz.

Are we tough on ol’ Markus Schulz? Certainly, but it’s tough-love we deliver, not spiteful rage. Whether in his distant producing past or recent remix work, we hear the potential he has to do something more with his career beyond merely pandering to the watered-down popular taste. I suppose the reason we continue to scope out his output is the hope that some of that unrealized talent surfaces again, but the returns have been ever diminishing.

His DJ releases haven’t fared much better. The last major offering, Ibiza ‘06, was a bland trudge through melodic trance mediocrity, indistinguishable from the glut and hobbled by his insistence on giving much of his label’s singles undeserved spotlight (save a couple decent tracks). Since then, the Schulzer’s career has seen something of an uptick thanks to an album [Progression] that, while still treading water, was better received than his debut [Without You Near] (probably due to expectations being sufficiently lowered after his abysmal ‘first time’). The general assumption has been Markus would capitalize on that momentum to reinvigorate his DJing career as well. After some delays denying him a proper 2007 release (to keep with the idea of an annual DJ mix), we finally have Amsterdam ‘08, where the answers to this question shall be given.

The opening of the first disc is promisingly interesting. Some pleasant sounds, laid-back rhythms, and agreeable melodies are featured here (although why is Beyond The Shadows making that out-of-sync beeping sound? Reminds my of my discman's pause feature). Glenn Morrison’s two offerings of Blue Skies With Linda and Rubberband easily steal the show: his tracks have some wonderful sounding synths on display, and the melodies he crafts are quite lovely, even if Blue Skies does draw a bit closely to over-sentimentality. Also, there is a rather lazy tone to this mix; not so much haphazard or sloppy, but more lethargic and mellow (no, not stoned... or k-holed, to be more contemporary within the current clubbing scene). Overall, it’s quite nice.

...and all downhill from there.

Rubberband makes for a great mid-set peak, but Schulz obliterates all those warm fuzzy feelings the tune leaves in its wake by following it up with one of the most abysmal sequences of tracks I’ve heard in a DJ set in some time. Rex Mundi tries some ‘piano trance’ breaks, and fails miserably in the process (break-beat rhythms should never sound this bland, my friends); Mr. White features annoyingly aggravating hookless hooks care of Ruben de Ronde’s remix; tiDi’s silly attempt at clicky minimalism screams of Schulz trying to get a piece of the ketamine crowd; and let’s not even mention the atrocious side-chaining going on in the latter two (we’ll be dealing with this abused effect in a bit anyway). The shell-shock of these three awful tracks leaves a very sour aftertaste, ruining the set’s momentum and instilling general apathy for the rest the first CD's final stretch. There’s little to mention there anyway: straight-forward trance number Azaleas from Supüer has a better-than-average hook, and Sonic Division’s If I Had Wings will turn your head since it apes the memorable chorus from 80s classic (I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight by Cutting Crew.

Any hopes of recovery on disc two is put to rest with the opening tracks, where Schulz under aliases treats us to awful side-chaining effects. Eh, you’re not sure what side-chaining even is? Although it’s long been an attribute associated with bass kicks canceling out equal frequencies, Markus and his McProg associates have been known to apply the effect on everything from backing pads to lead synths, creating a distinctive ‘pulsing, throbbing’ sound. When handled effectively it gives tracks some decent rhythmic pump, but when handled poorly, it wrecks any sense of sonic flow with constant aural interruptions. Repeatedly hearing frequencies cutting out and springing forth at full volume can be incredibly disorientating, the audio equivalent of someone continuously zooming in and out when recording a video. Markus has been a big proponent of it, and made good use of it when it was first being championed, essentially relegating it to the background as he let the twinkly melodies McProg was derided for claim the stage. On Amsterdam '08 though, many of the pulsing synths are blatantly front-and-center, as it seems some of these producers rely heavily on it to create hooks (instead of, y’know, writing a goddamned melody rather than depend on pre-set effects doing the work). The opening of disc one avoided the problem based on the strength of melodies grabbing your attention, but from there on, and especially so on the second disc, it turns intolerable.

Seriously, CD2 is rendered practically unlistenable by how bad the side-chaining effect is abused, persisting for well over the first half and much of the second. After only three tracks it’s become a painfully predictable gimmick, where a perfectly fine eerie peak-hook in Schulz’ own Fly To Colors is ruined by unnecessarily throwing this effect on it. You can’t enjoy any of the nice synths on display when they’re constantly cutting out (and no, this does not create a ‘strobe’ effect like multi-tap delays do; more like a vertigo effect), and by the time Agnelli & Nelson’s pleasant little trancer Sleeping In Airports hits, I keep imagining I’m hearing synth throbs despite there being none, so ingrained into my psyche the pulses have been.

As for the actual music, decent moments seem few. Coldharbour’s Next Big Anthem in Forsaken will either having you reaching for the lasers or rolling your eyes, depending on your taste for cloying tunes such as these; the tech-y finish has some fine grooves in tracks like Avalon (now there’s some good use of side-chaining!), but equally cringe-worthy bits as found in More Manners Please (idiot electro-fart nonsense) and Formulation (now there’s more of that poor use of side-chaining...). Ultimately, not the greatest finish, but then given the lead-up, it isn’t that surprising.

Reading back on this, it may appear my bitching is focused mostly on technical attributes, something that really shouldn’t factor much when reviewing music. However, the very fact I’m ranting so much about it highlights one of the overlying problems, in that the music on hand either isn’t terribly interesting or is ruined by overdone pulsing-synth wank. Glenn Morrison aside, few of the melodies make a lingering impression, and the tracks that jump on current trends (nu-electro farts; minimal clicks) are quite forgettable. Seeing as how Markus’ commercial sets are as much a promotion vehicle for upcoming Coldharbour cuts as they are standard DJ sets, this doesn’t bode well for his label. Sure, his loyal Cult will lap it all up, but if you’ve grown weary of Schulz’ shtick, Amsterdam ‘08 will only reinforce your distaste for his sound.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Loop Guru - Amrita (...All These And The Japanese Soup Warriors) (2019 Update)

North South: 1995

(click here to read my original TranceCritic review)

It's been over half a decade since I last talked up Loop Guru, and I still haven't gathered any more of their albums. Not that they're super-hard to find or anything, most going for a tidy pop on the Amazon market now, but something keeps me from finally diving into their domain proper-like. Trepidation, that's it. A worry that they just won't live up to whatever expectation I have on them, even with the limited amount of exposure I've thus far provided myself. Wait, how is that even an excuse now? Most of their albums are also on Spotify (though not this one, oddly), so if I want to hear them to confirm my unfounded fears, I can at any time. No, there must be something else, something buried deep in my subconscious that's holding me back. I wonder what it is?

Actually, I think I know: no matter what, I will never recapture the feeling I had when I first heard Amrita. It's not a terribly significant event, but it's a vivid moment, furiously flashing across my memory membranes every time I hear Diwana or Often Again. It was a few months after I'd moved out on my own into Vancouver, and I'd just gotten this CD on one of my trips to an A&B Sound (RIP), intended for a TranceCritic review because why not.

Sometime in the wee minutes past midnight and feeling the buzz of a smoked bowl, I got the munchies and decided to walk the five blocks to a 7/11 for some snackables. As I'm strolling in the clear spring evening, the swinging tribal sounds of Loop Guru playing from my discman, I come to a startling revelation: I'm honestly and truly free, the boundless opportunities of bachelorhood open before me. I'm living in my own apartment, doing recreational drugs when I want without worry of neighbours or roommates, going for strolls in the middle of the night with nary a care or concern of where I wander, in a city I hadn't even dreamed to live in but a few years past. And this all dawned upon me while listening to this album. Now, I'm not saying it wouldn't have occurred to me if I hadn't been playing Amrita at the time, but I cannot deny something about the music here made everything click right in that moment.

And without a doubt, there is a freeing jubilation in Amrita, the sort of tribal exuberance that makes you want to kick off your shoes and dance up a dust storm in the sandy floors of an outdoor party. Yeah, Papasus and Fumi show their dubbier, chill side too, but damn, those drums in Gianyar! That chant in Yayli! That flute in Diwana! That rhythm in Sun! Can you blame me for being hesitant in exploring Loop Guru's discography further? How could anything else they do top such ebullience?

(sorry, that seems like the sort of cheeky word they'd use in liner notes)

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Oak Ridge Boys - American Harmony

Heartland Music: 1986

Ah, hmm, seems I've lost contact with my future-self correspondence regarding these Oak Ridge Boys reviews. I'm not sure how that's possible. Like, wasn't I dealing with multi-verse versions of myself, thus his/my future remains in existence no matter what happens in my present? Or maybe I can only access certain timelines depending on how close to my own existence it lies, whether my current path will lead to such an outcome at all anymore. The 2073 Sykonee that we've come to know can no longer exist from where I'm currently sat if my future no longer leads to such a possibility. Absolutely it's ridiculous I could or would travel to a future Earth where I don't exist at all, potentially snuffing my being out of any reality, but then isn't all this time-travel stuff one big paradox anyway? Perhaps I should rephase the tachyon emitter array into a sixth-level quantum filament, then set the neutrino juicer to puree for a little extra flava-flav (yeah, bwoy!).

Well, maybe it's time that I step in and talk about Oak Ridge Boys from my own perspective, even offer some insight into how I've come to have so many of their albums and compilations. Actually, no, let's not do that; 'tis a silly story. Let's do this a bit more honestly, a bit more properly.

American Harmony is a double-LP gathering of the Oakies' biggest hits following the decade of their transition into pure country music. Yes, they were that darn popular throughout the early Reagan years, especially within certain American Heartland demographics. For this was their rebel music, a gospel group abandoning the stodgy confines of churches and pulpits for the glitz and glamour of honky-tonks and Vegas lights. Holy cow, you should see some of the outfits these guys wore in the late '70s! You'd think they were leads in a white-bread funk group.

Their success lay in singing songs that reached a broader audience that most Americans could relate to. Young teenage lust over Elvira. Heading out on the open road as in Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight. Reminiscing over loves lost and found (just about every song, really). Bemoaning the fact all their cool cutting-edge gadgets were foreign, but at least their women were still American Made. Yeah, they couldn't help themselves with a little ol' flag-wavin' after seeing how the Soviets were living following a tour through Russia (!!), but whatever, nationalist paranoia was all the rage in the early '80s.

Speaking of the '80s, I find it hilarious that even a gospel-turned-country quartet of singers couldn't escape the '80s-ification of their music production. Some of these tracks sound so digitalized and tinny, they fit right at home an electronic music critic blog. Little Things in particular, already coming off like an '80s Beach Boys jingle (aka: not good), features one of the synthiest keyboard solos I've ever heard out of this everlasting group. Surely nothing in their catalogue can top this slice of ludicrous music.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Tiga - American Gigolo (Original TC Review)

Turbo Recordings: 2001

(2019 Update:
Sometimes I wonder if I oversell this CD. For sure my enjoyment of it still hasn't diminished in the slightest but perhaps I was a tad too overzealous in proclaiming it to be "the
Tranceport of electroclash". Come to think of it, does anyone really even remember Oakenfold's mix CD anymore? For sure none of the new trance cats care about it, though if you wanted to give someone a primer on this particular music, Tiga's set still does the trick. And I have anecdotal proof!

One time I played this at work, and a co-worker inquired about it, as my co-workers are wont to do when they hear dope music emanating from my bluetooth speaker. I told him and he promptly downloaded a copy (from wherever, I dunno'). Later that week, he tells me that he played it at home while doing housework with some friends, and
they liked it so much that they requested he replay it over and over. Hot damn, if this CD has that kind of power fifteen years after its release, then it's a dope CD indeed, my friends!)


IN BRIEF: Then, a revelation. Now, not so much.

With so many former ‘electroclash’ stars releasing albums this year (Tiga, DJ Hell, Vitalic, Miss Kittin & The Hacker, Felix da Housecat, Fischerspooner), it can be difficult to fathom many of them were veritable unknowns at the beginning of the decade. Sure, some had been in the game for a while and garnered a few respectable plaudits along the way, but in no way were they stars. Remember, this was at the time of superstar trance DJs and epic progressive sets from Global Underground and Renaissance mainstays, not to mention ample amounts of funky disco house filling the store racks. In the year 2000, the very notion of gritty electro, punky techno, and sleazy EBM grabbing the spotlight by the balls was absurd. Yet the underground buzz started to catch and as folks-in-the-know grew tired of expensive superclubs, a tidal-wave of momentum surged the electro-revival into the mainstream.

Here in good ol’ Northern Americana, you can point to a single compilation that got the ball rolling: Tiga’s American Gigolo. It was conceived when the Montreal native, upon recognizing just how cutting edge the International Deejay Gigolo sound was at the time, figured it would do the American scene some good to properly introduce this brash style of techno to a stagnating continent. DJ Hell, already having garnered a large cult following in Europe with his label, seemed to agree it was time to take the U.S.A. and Canada.

Tiga’s label itself, Turbo Recordings, had been gaining similar momentum on this continent with a run of classy, varied DJ mixes, though mostly sticking with tried and tested house and techno. When this one dropped, however, it not only marked the beginning of electro’s resurge but also Turbo’s re-imaging. All in all, a perfect marriage.

Your requisite track-list glance reveals a number of bona-fide classics. Sunglasses At Night, Porno Actress, Frank Sinatra, I’m A Disco Dancer, Poney Part 1, Emerge… I could go on. If you didn’t know better, you’d almost swear this was some kind of ‘Electroclash Anthems’ from Ministry Of Sound. Yet, it’s simply a label showcase: twenty-five tracks across twenty-four singles (out of the first eighty) from one label. It’s that realization that makes this mix all the more remarkable, that just one freakin’ label was responsible for so many classics and for exposing so many future stars.

But,” you say, “so what? How is this unique now?” Good point, my unseen questioner. While this may have been the first major exposure for guys like Vitalic, Fischerspooner, and even Tiga as a proper singer, the huge bandwagon jumping that ensued from major labels in the following two years flooded the market with similar compilations, many of which were far more comprehensive of this sound than American Gigolo. In many ways, it’s similar to what happened with Paul Oakenfold’s original Tranceport - sure, it exposed a large number people to a relatively fresh sound with several strong, memorable singles for the first time, but its quality was easily been eclipsed in later years (of course, part of the handicap here is the fact the music’s from only one label; not sure what Oakenfold’s excuse is).

Heck, even Tiga, usually a capable DJ, doesn’t bring his A-game here. While he pulls out some brilliantly daft blends and mash-ups - throwing the over-emoting Marc Almond chorus from Soul On Soul into the great synth chords in Vitalic’s You Prefer Cocaine is hilariously awesome - he also forces some ugly transitions too. The mix from DJ Naughty’s Boing Bum Tschag into his own Sunglasses At Night is brutal, and seemingly only done as an inside joke - Boing Bum Tschag being Gigolo’s first release, while Sunglasses At Night was (at the time) the label’s latest.

On the other hand, some of Tiga’s rough transitions only added to this compilation’s allure. After so many years of pristine polished progressive trance sets (often done in a studio), to hear a ‘balls to the walls’ mix coupled with such punky attitude in the music, you really did believe this could be the next big thing. The minimalist nihilism of the opening stretch, forays into strong house and tech in the middle… solid enough. Then Vitalic comes in, and the mix basically bludgeons you with energy; more importantly, it suggests wonderful possibilities for this sound’s future. For a brief moment, it even makes then-trance’s poster boy Ferry Corsten seem like a perfect fit (thanks in large part to The Hacker; also it certainly can’t be a coincidence that Corsten came out with Punk shortly after Gigolo did their remixes for Soul On Soul). By the time Emerge has wrapped up, you can’t help but wonder, nearly a decade later, why this music didn’t have the strong future it hinted at.

Well, there were many reasons for it, some of which already touched upon in this review. Here’s not the place to delve deeply into it though. Rather, the only remaining question I’ll discuss is whether American Gigolo is still worth your time and pennies. Frankly, you can’t fault the music, and even if the mixing isn’t the greatest, it’s still fine enough to not be too distracting. If you’re looking for a more complete electroclash compilation, there are better options out there, even as tribute mixes available for free on DJ websites. In the end, though, this little mix from Tiga is fun enough to throw on, as very little on here has dated. Easily a worthy pick-up if you find it on the cheap.

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

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Various - Ambient Rituals - Exercise One: Music For Soul Braiding

Hypnotic: 1995

I believe this was Hypnotic's first ambient compilation, though I use the genre lightly regarding the music on here. Dark ambient, yeah, plus weird dronescapes too, though nothing so occult as you might think from “Rituals” in the title. Then again, I had no clue of what to expect from a Hypnotic ambient release. All I'd ever heard from them was German trance, and while I knew some of those acts had downtempo material under their belt (ie: Komakino as Ynos), I'd never seen it appear on Hypnotic CDs before.

Well, none of that mattered, because Hypnotic didn't bother reaching into their Music Research trough for this compilation. Instead, they tapped an obscure Toronto print called DOVentertainment Inc., which briefly housed such famed industrial names like Zoviet France (and by extension, Rapoon), Digital Poodle, Dead Voices On Air, and La Floa Maldita. Okay, 'housed' is stretching it a bit; handled Canadian distribution, more like. Somehow, Cleopatra got the distribution rights to their material, and since they'd established Hypnotic as their one-stop outlet/dumping ground of all things 'raverish', handed it off there as an ambient collection, never mind the music here most definitely unplayable in traditional chill rooms. Technical stuff sometimes makes my head hurt, or maybe it's this inner-ear infection I'm dealing with.

Track one comes care of Kinder Atom, a quartet of producers that includes Heiki Sillaste. Their track of Scanus is a weird, spacey minimalist techno-dub, sounding rather empty yet soothing as subtle blips and beeps sing and breathe along a steady rhythm pulsing along. Ambient techno for sure, but with a striking ominous tone befit of an industrial outlet. Mr. Sillaste returns in track number two, Autorhythm Two from A.S.A., the second time I've come across this alias, meaning I now own half of this ridiculously obscure Canadian project. And what a strange track it is too, layers of bloopy sounds creating a percolating dripping sound as a lone beep echoes every so often. Interesting, if you dig your experimental techno. Heiki appears a third time later, under his most famed handle of Digital Poodle, though Weapon is but a transitional track, showing off angry robot noises before playing a forlorn ode to a post-war industrial wasteland. Surprisingly captivating, for the short time it plays. Rapoon's here too, with a super-long ultra-repetitive track that's also very meditative, in that old-school Rapoony sort of way.

Really, the two big takeaways I got from Ambient Rituals are a pair of tracks that couldn't be further apart if they tried. The first is Hemisphere from Synaesthesia, whom you may know as good ol' Leeb and Fulber merging their EBM and world beat senses into a big, bruising downtempo jam. The other is Vuls from Dead Voices On Air, a desolate composition of distant sounds and drones. Imagine being bound inside an asylum, the hum of ventilation ducts and a security camera your lone companions, words from your overseers intermittently oozing through the cold concrete walls. Delectable paranoia for the mindspace.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Various - Ambient Ibiza

EMI Music Canada: 1996

I'd found a new genre to love, and even lucked out scoring a few early gems showcasing the stuff, but only on my twice-or-thrice a year trips to Vancouver. The rest of my time remained in the ends of Canadian earth, and good luck finding any music shop having something with “ambient” in its title. Fortunately, I'd started working at such a music shop, and had access to our supplier's catalogue. Promising my boss that I'd buy whatever came in, I eagerly flipped through the compilation selection and put in requests for anything that had “ambient” in its title. Some of those items ended up being compilations from Hypnotic (who knew!), but also included was this particular CD, Ambient Ibiza. And hoo, seeing that cover art when it first arrived, did I ever wonder if I'd made a mistake in such blind enthusiasm. Surely I would never make such a mistake in the future, ha-ha, ha!

So this looked rather corny, and when I threw it on for a listen, the opening track, care of CD compiler Sergio himself, with a saccharine pad tone and woman intoning “Tell me... what you dream”, and I feared I'd ended right back in the domain of Pure Moods, a domain I'd emphatically left behind. Couldn't deny though, it sold the Ibizan vibe nicely, feeling like I'm chilling on a Mediterranean patio with a cocktail in hand. Then Bindu's Light At Heart came on, with a surprisingly melancholy pad, heartbeat pulse, and lonely acoustic guitar. And gosh, though it still sounds very Pure Moodsy, something about it stirs the heart/soul/spleen. Like, I recognize it's sap, but a good kind of sap, the kind that can be turned into delicious maple syrup.

From there, Ambient Ibiza warms you over with a variety of chill-out tunes that never lose that Balearic feel. Lucky People Center's Woman Is Like A Fruit goes a little sultry nu-jazz, D.O.P.'s Manifest Your Love could almost fit on a collection featuring early Massive Attack and Soul II Soul, and upbeat Van Basten's Perimitive (Part 1) lays the naturalist field recordings on lusciously thick – feels like I'm wandering an arboretum filled with birds of paradise.

And wouldn't you know it, there's a single tune on Ambient Ibiza that could just fit on one of those 'underground ambient dub' CDs I was so enamoured with, Dub Tractor's Overheated Livingroom. Yeah, it's got that overtly chipper Ibiza vibe to it, but works just enough dubby melodies and rhythms that give me the THC-buzz without even toking a jay. Also, that breakdown! *melt*

Other dubby tracks on here include music from The Gentle People (haha, a Rephlex tune on a compilation like this) and Mind Over Rhythm's Big Warm Glo (a collab' with Plaid, of all things). That's more than enough to convince my younger self Ambient Ibiza really ain't so bad after all. Still a little too sickly sweet for many plays, mind you, but enjoyable enough for occasional summer afternoons.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Various - Ambient Dub, Volume 3: Aqua

Beyond: 1993

Back in my teenage years, I knew Beyond's Ambient Dub series existed (Banco de Gaia showed his compilation contributions on his original website), but didn't think I'd find it. They seemed so old, the years '92-'93 ancient history from where I sat in '97. Plus, they came from all the way in the UK, so what hopes could a kid in the hinterlands of Canuckistan have? Surprisingly good chances, apparently, as on one of my trips to Vancouver, I saw Ambient Dub, Volume 3: Aqua sitting in a shop. Holy cow, who cares if it was over thirty bones (and Toby Marks felt it was weaker than the first two), I had to buy it then and there! And wouldn't you know it, that same music shop (Bassix, one of the greatest vinyl stores in the Lower Mainland ever) was able to order me a copy of The Big Chill too! Sa-weet! No luck on that Earthjuice though.

Of course, like Earthjuice, Aqua has fallen out of my regular rotation for the fact I've gathered most of the tunes on here after the fact. Heck, some of them I already had, such as Original Rockers' Mecca Of Space and Banco de Gaia's Sheesha, both not exactly tunes I highly rated compared to their other material. Then there's the lone HIA contribution of Delta, a charming bleep-hop tune in its own right, but vastly outshone by Pentatonik's rub, which I'd already heard on Ambient Auras. A Postive Life's Hypnosystem is also here, though in an earlier, simpler form compared to its album counterpart. I used to prefer this original version, but as time's gone on, it now sounds rather basic and boring to my ears; praise album-orientated updating, I guess.

The Groove Corporation finally get their chance to shine in this series, their reggae dub-house Roots Controller treading territory Leftfield made their domain. Still, having finally gotten the actual album that tune appears on, means one less reason to play this CD now. The only item from the Ambient Dub regular players that remains exclusive here is Original Rockers' The Satsuma Nightmare rub on Banco de Gaia's Desert Wind. Even that isn't much to get fussed about though, essentially a dubby stripping of the original which is good for a little shoulder shuffle, but not much else.

Still, three tracks do save Aqua from complete listening neglect. Another Fine Day makes his Ambient Dub debut with the exclusive Wild Spirit Of Song, showing off Mr. Green's playful use of unique instruments and sample manipulation. Digital Jesus ups the tempo some into a brisk, almost tribal-trance outing in Menali Encounter, and Insanity Sect show off their ear for the low-ridin' potential of ambient dub. Oh, and Groove Corporation do a Balearic house thing in Your Heart, which sounds nothing like regular G.Corp, or anything else in this series for that matter. A very odd addition, though what was G.Corp to do, wait a few years for Ambient Ibiza to release it?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Various - Ambient Dub, Volume 2: Earthjuice

Beyond: 1993

I wish I had this CD, make my Ambient Dub collection closer to proper completion. Okay, I technically do, as I wouldn't be reviewing it otherwise, but it's a burned copy. And no, I didn't nab it off a peer-to-peer service – I surprisingly couldn't find it, at least back in the AudioGalaxy days. I wouldn't even know what tracks to look for anyway, so few details available to me beyond its mere existence.

Then lo', a saviour did descend from the heavens, a Lord That Knows All emerging from the darkness, curating all manner of knowledge regarding any and all electronic music releases (especially after I helped contribute to its vast tome of discographical information). And hey, would you look at that, there's that Ambient Dub, Volume 2: Earthjuice CD I always wondered about. I wonder if anyone might be willing to sell it. What's this, fine sir, you're willing to trade it to me for a burned copy of L.S.G.'s Best Of? Sweet deal, yeah I'll do that trade! Oh, you mean for a burned copy of Earthjuice as well. Eh, sure, why not. It's not like an actual Marketplace with official vendors selling items will ever crop up on Discogs.

And you know, I'm not sure I really need this compilation for completion anyway. There's G.O.L.'s Soma Holiday, A Positive Life's The Calling, The Underwater World Of Jah Cousteau from The Groove Corporation (or remixed from Original Rockers' Push Push), plus an original, inferior version of Banco de Gaia's Shanti (so limp sounding compared to the Black Mountain Mix). That's half this CD I already have elsewhere, so how important is it to get the rest of these tune? Very important, I says!

For instance, there's an exclusive HIA track on here, the charmingly retro-pulp acid ambient techno of W.H.Y. (...why not?). APL has an exclusive too, in Universal Message, a rather standard upbeat slice of bleepy techno and isn't as interesting as most of his other stuff, but hey, it's there! And why not, Original Rockers also gets in on that exclusivity action, with their Afro dub-thump of DeMat DubRim. And this Deeply Sirius Mix of Banco de Gaia's Lai Lah, I think that's exclusive, though save an extended dancier section (is this a live mix?), isn't much different from the album version. That ethereal G.O.L. cover of No Bounds though, that ain't exclusive, also appearing on their own album.

Yeah, Earthjuice shares similarities with The Big Chill, not only in featured acts but also showcasing a pair of tracks from each (HIA's second is Speedlearn, also rather retro-pulpy compared to its album counterpart). The only odd-man out in this is newcomer Insanity Sect, who closes the CD with their lone Psychik Warriors Ov Gaia leaning, minimalist techno dub cut Subliminal Air. As this track's over sixteen-minutes long though, I say that counts as two.

Eh, what happened to 21st Century Aura and Mimoid from the first compilation? Never heard from again. It's a... misssss-tory!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Divination - Ambient Dub, Volume II: Dead Slow

Subharmonic: 1993

A second volume of ambient dub under the Divination guise? Heck, there might even exist a Volume III, but not with this alias. Divination did extend beyond this album though, a couple LPs and a double-LP marking the project's total story. And that's just what Laswell did with this one! When you consider his stuff as Sacred System, Praxis, Axiom Records, both projects with Pete Namlook (not to mention his tag-in with Pete and Klause Schulz), and a zillion more items I'd run out of self-imposed word count before detailing them all (just... so many...), is it any wonder covering this man's work is a neigh impossible task? I mean, just look at Divination! I doubt most folks (if any) reading this blog even knew it existed before I name-dropped it in that Alien Ambient Galaxy compilation, and here I'm tellin' you not only it existed, but includes six CDs worth of music; yet it's barely a side-side project in Laswell's career. Dude's got Merzbow levels of productivity, and probably about as much musical consistency.

If there's any consistency in Divination, it's that there's never the same bundle of musicians joining Laswell for a jam with each album. The first had Nicky Skopelitis, Liu Sola, Buckethead (!), and Robert Musso in the studio with the Laswellian one. This outing, however, has Mick Harris, Jeff Bova, and fellow bassist Jah Wobble. He'd pair up with these guys on several more projects outside this one too, and is that ever a list and a half, I tell you wh'ut.

Having the right crew in for a jam makes a heck of a difference between these two Ambient Dub albums. Volume 1 had dudes with more of an industrial and acid rock background, chaps who prefer doing noisy assaults than ambient spliff music, and didn't really mesh with the whole 'ambient dub' idea. The peoples on Volume II, however, have no problem exploring the deeper end of bass 'n dub, which makes Dead Slow an overall stronger showing of what Laswell's take on 'ambient dub' is all about. Also, the mixdown is better balanced, no shocking leaps in voluminous muddy bass drowning things out. Or weird vocal chants, for that matter.

As with Volume 1, Volume II flits between shorter, minimalist droning pieces, and lengthier jams with thumping rhythms, burbling dubby electronics, and that bass tone intermingling for fifteen minutes apiece. In the great annals of Laswell's dub discography, I'd still rate this a touch below his Sacred System stuff, but it's still enjoyable for the style of music it's setting out to be. Except maybe that lengthy sonic dub experiment as the final track, but that's easily skippable.

By the by, the album's curious sub-title comes from a traffic sign photographer Ira Harvey Cohen spotted in India. The inlay includes it, with an Indian man wearing nothing but a turban, some beads, and a loose loin cloth smoking underneath (cute). Figures Laswell would interpret it as a musical concept too.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Various - Ambient Dub, Volume 1: The Big Chill

Beyond: 1992

Finally, after many years and hundreds (thousands?) of name-drops, I've come to the grand-daddy of all chill-out compilations, Beyond's Ambient Dub, Volume 1: The Big Chill. Before this, you had The Orb, Enigma, The KLF's Chill Out, and precious little else receiving much exposure, compilations of the stuff just not dreamt of. Heck, even those artists were relegated to 'top chart hits' CDs rather than anything aimed at mentally gassed punters. And while the industry was likely primed to cash-in on this lucrative sub-scene of post-partying, Beyond got there before most, thus credited with making 'ambient dub' a thing.

What made The Big Chill so brilliant at the time was how its fully aware of what was generating buzz for home-listening options in electronic music, offering its own take on each of them. The lightly jazz-n-hop vibe acts like Massive Attack and Nightmares On Wax were doing? Here's the Original Rockers, then, serving up a slice of Sexy Selector, but way deeper in the Jamaican dub. Or maybe the playful house-dub of The Orb is more to your liking. Then 21st Century Aura will hook you up with Disorientation, including a cheeky preacher sample running throughout (“witchcraft!”).

Eh, you prefer world beat? Here's a promising up-and-comer name Banco De Gaia then, sending you on a dusty caravan through the Desert Wind. Ah, it was actually that erotic Enigma stylee you were after. I'm sure G.O.L.'s Angelica In Delirium has you covered with church bells, chants, and Antonia Reiner's seductive poetry. No, no, it's that future leaning sound you crave, more in line with bleep and ambient techno as found on the first Artificial Intelligence. Fair enough, and Alphanex's Planet Hoskins serves that up in spades (or is that hearts?).

I think that touches on all the prominent movements in downtempo and chill-out music of the time. Oh, I guess there was Real Ambient too, and wouldn't you know it, Mimoid even inches in that territory, with the two-parter track Tree Of The Sun, Tree Of The Moon. The first half has a crunchy bouncy beat, that “you make me feel so good” sample, and dripping water (my dad quipped it was Chinese Water Torture when it played out on its own), but the second-half is essentially beatless, save a little acid bassline. There's also sweeping synths, whale calls, and dubbed-out sci-fi sounds, making it sound as though you're soaring through the cosmos. Quite a brilliant bit of dub production really, a spell better than Mimoid's other offering of Strawberry, which features an insistently annoying, distracting loop of “okay, let's do it” throughout its runtime. That's the only dud track on here though.

Banco's Soufie, HIA's Ketamine Entity (d'at bass!), and the proto trip-hop of 21st Century Aura's Something Started round out the rest, and a great rounding out it is. If you ever wanted to know why ambient dub became such a trendy thing in the early '90s, The Big Chill is all the evidence you need.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Divination - Ambient Dub Volume 1

Subharmonic: 1993

Holy cow, another ambient dub collection that isn't the seminal Ambient Dub series from Beyond? Just how many ambient dub collections are there? Uh, not that many more, I'm sure. Like, after learning AudioGalaxy was a thing, I scoured the app for “ambient dub” because of course I would, and aside from a ton of Bill Laswell music, didn't find much else. Most prominent of the bassist's offerings were his 'ambient dub translations' of Bob Marley tunes, but these Divination albums came first. Just shortly after Beyond's offerings, in fact, practically concurrently. Coincidence, mayhaps?

Eh, if I'm willing to offer a theory (and I am!), Beyond released their first volume of ambient dub, and Laswell heard it. As a jazz purist though, he was unimpressed by the musicianship involved, so the O.G. jazz-dub dude took it upon himself to show these newer cats how it's done, bringing in a bunch of his pals for some sessions on what he feels is Proper Ambient Dub, none of this pseudo downtempo raver comedown nonsense. Wow, who'd have that something as micro-niche as ambient dub could have a rivalry!

Well, that's a fun theory, though you'd have to ask Mr. Laswell himself whether it's accurate or not. Heck, given his relentless output, I wonder if he even remembers the original inspiration for these Divination albums. Maybe he just needed some fresh material to launch his new Subharmonic label, and since 'ambient dub' was a trending tag in the early '90s, figured it would help sell his stuff better. The truth is out there, somewhere in the ether between echoing bass tones!

Speaking of aliens, yes, this is the same Divination that appeared on that Alien Ambient Galaxy compilation, with two tracks from here appearing there (among the Elsewheres): Errata and Delta. As pieces of pure minimalist ambient dub, they're neat compositions, but more as interludes in this album, most tracks surprisingly upbeat for a record billing itself as 'ambient dub' (oh no, it's happening again!).

Opener Divination One has a chill groove going for it, with Laswell's bass tones guiding us along, and suits the concept of ambient dub nicely. Follow-up twelve-minute long Seven Heavens, however, has quite the thumping techno beat, interspersed with long, synthy ambient breakdowns, and why is the low-end of the mixdown so overcranked? I know Laswell's a bassist and all, but everything sounds so muddy here. Meanwhile, the back half of the album trends closer to the domain of world beat, with ethnic wailing (some samples, but original chants from Liu Sola too), tabla drumming, and burbling sonics. Ooh, and I think I heard some of Buckethead's guitar work in there too, though as with everything else, is mostly buried under muddy bass.

There's some interesting ideas here, but if this was meant to be an opening salvo on Laswell's part in doing Proper Ambient Dub, he was still a bit off from creating something refined and long-lasting. See his Sacred System releases for such a take.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Various - Ambient Dub: Futuristic Techno Dub & Electronic Roots

Millennium Records: 2000

I first saw this advertised among a pile of promo flyers we'd get in the little music shop I worked at, and I couldn't believe my eyes that it was real. An honest-to-Jah ambient dub compilation in the year 2000, half a decade past the micro-genre's peak of prominence? For sure a couple acts were keeping that fire burning (s'up, Sounds From The Ground), but as the Kruder & Dorfmeister style had overtaken the downtempo scene, the O.G. works from Beyond had been relegated to the annals of electronic music history; this is, what, the seventeenth time I've written this blurb?

Anyhow, without knowing anything about any of the names listed on the promo spiel, I ordered a copy for myself because what else was I supposed to do? I thought ambient dub was long gone, but here was a label promising a return of the stuff, even being so bold as to include the genre in blazing big font. Never mind the cover art looked a tad dodgy and this could all be some false advertising. If there was to be a proper revival of the sound that opened my ears to all manner of wonderful sonics, you had to support any and all attempts at it, amirite? No, I ain't right, but such was my logic at the time.

So the CD comes in, and I immediately throw it on to hear what 'Year 200 ambient dub' is all about and the first song has some Jamaican roots loops and a mild techno beat and is kinda' dub but in no way ambient. Thus, my fear had been confirmed, Ambient Dub nothing more than a tacky marketing gimmick. How could any label get away with such a blatantly misleading compilation title, promising ambient dub and providing no ambient at all? Who is the label anyway? Oh, Millennium Records, they of the UK Space Techno series. That explains that.

So I was disappointed my new Ambient Dub CD didn't have ambient dub on it. Then I actually sat down and listened to the darn thing and I realized something: there's some gosh-darned dope dub techno on this compilation! That opening track, for instance, comes care of The Rootsman, and is a chipper slice of roots techno in its own right. The next track comes care of Saafi Brothers, who I didn't know at the time, but are highly regarded within the psy-dub scene. They include Gabriel Le Mar, who appears thrice more on this CD, once under his own name (with groovy April My Dear, almost treading into prog-psy's territory), again as Dub_Connected (crunchy dub techno dopeness), plus as part of Banned X, their That's Dub a surprisingly brisk outing of trippy dub techno.

The rest of Ambient Dub (sans ambient) pretty much flits between dub techno and roots techno, and despite a couple weird moments (Outernational's Cape East predicts brostep belches a decade early!), is a solid assortment of the stuff. Clearly though, Millennium Records couldn't have called it Techno Roots-N-Dub or something more accurate.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Various - Ambient Auras: Diverse Dimensions In Ambient Dub

Rumour Records: 1994

Those early compilations from Waveform Records/Beyond may have opened my ears to a style of music I'd never known before, but nothing solidified my adoration of it like this particular CD from Rumour Records. Makes me wonder how my tastes might have gone had my follow-up ambient dub/house/techno pick been the bunk, forever deterring me from a new, promising musical obsession. Heck, could such a compilation even exist? For sure some dodgy underground rubbish looking for a trendy cash-in floated around, but with some licensing muscle behind you, you'd be spoiled in an abundance of sonic riches. Ambient Auras is proof of that.

Rumour Records was mostly known for compilations that didn't feature a pile of well-known artists, often exposing underground acts who may not have been just one studio dude cranking out tunes under multiple aliases (oh hi, Jake Stephenson!). In that regard, Ambient Auras is almost an exception, though to be fair, few could have predicted the commercial heights some of these acts would go on to enjoy. Way back in ye' olde year of 1994, Alter Ego was thought of as a side-project of Acid Jesus, Levis Jeans hadn't contacted Biosphere, Taucher was a couple years away from Waters, and The Chemical Brothers had yet to make their legally-mandated change of name. Aphex Twin was still about where he's always been though.

Really, Ambient Auras provides everything that was so wonderful about the ambient dub/house/techno compilation market of back-when. Even beyond the 'before they were famous' interest, Rumour Records dug pretty deep in their sparse catalogues for their track list. The Pentatonik rub of HIA's Delta (forever re-titled as Alpha 1999); a dancier version of Biosphere's Baby Interphase; Aphex Twin's On; the pure ambient outing of Undersea Girl from Alter Ego. Holy cow, what a killer's row of obscure tunes from famed artists!

From there, the compilation indulges in some actual obscure artists, names like State Of Flux, Neuro Project, and Centuras hardly on the tips of anyone's tongues these days. Still, they each bring something unique to the table, Flux's The News a pleasant, groovy dubby house number, Neuro's Lovechile' getting deeper into the sample-heavy dub, and Centuras' Tokyo mixing those obligatory world beat nods into a thumping, marching ambient techno soup. As for the ten-minute-plus Dr. Atmo Mix of Taucher & Koma's Happiness, it's a tad sappy, sure, but they sure weren't gonna' put the Spicelab rub of the same tune on here.

One proper nod to roots dub music later (Release The Chains from Centry Meets The Music Family), Ambient Auras closes out with the psychedelic funk of The Dust-Chem Bros' If You Kling To Me I'll Klong To You, and epic space-dub of Bandulu's Run Run (such echo!). How can you fault the diversity in any of these tracks? If you want to know why ambient dub/house/techno was such a big deal in the early '90s, seek this compilation out. This one has everything that made that micro-scene a treat.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Bows - Blush

Too Pure: 1999

(a (late) Patreon Request from Omskbird)

At first ear-glance, you'd be forgiven in thinking this is just another trend-hopping cash-in by another would-be trip-hop-slash-jazzstep act. Well, more the former than the latter, but if Roni Size/Reprazent could have crossover success, surely anyone could repeat the trick (spoiler: no). I cannot deny letting that assumption initially sink in, the Massive Attack comparisons rapidly blossoming in my brain like a bounty of succulent peaches. Or coconuts. Or apples... Darn, what a boring list of fast-growing fruits for a simile. What would the opposite of that be, the slowest blooming fruit? *d'un Google'd* The melocanna baciffera, eh? Well, the simile wouldn't work, but the alliteration would!

Anyhow, Bows was the brainchild of Luke Sutherland, a multi-instrumentalist who plied his trade with the indie rock band Long Fin Killie. Never heard of them myself, but they released three albums throughout the '90s, so a modest run. When Mr. Sutherland started feeling the itch for something a little more proper urban, the band disbanded, though Colin Greig brought his bass to the Bows project. And while Luke was proficient with plenty of instruments (guitar, violin, saxaphone, his own voice), he added a few more musicians to the mix, including Robbie McKendrick on non-sampled drums, and singer Signe Høirup Wille-Jørgensen as vocalist. Yes, that's a Danish name, she also of the band Speaker Bite Me, and followed-upon with a solo career as Jomi Massage. Man, where would I be without The Lord That Knows All, eh? I couldn't imagine trying to research all that when Blush first came out.

Anyhow, the reason those Massive Attack comparisons couldn't be helped is because the UK soul drips from this album (and we all know who invented contemporary UK soul... (James Blake?)). Opener Big Wings features dense layers of swelling strings, oozy-woozy saxophone and horns, and Ms. Wille-Jørgensen's croon over a slow Amen Break, essentially bridging trip-hop and jungle. By '99, I'm sure it'd been done plenty times, but Bows' take on it is enjoyable enough.

And that's about the gist of how I'd sum Blush. It treads ground mostly covered in years prior, but Luke shows enough songcraft and personality with the sound to make this a solid companion piece to the trip-hop lexicon. Some intriguing tricks crop up, such as the ultra-quiet start of King Deluxe (such a whisper of a vocal), or the chill fake-out before going full jazzstep tear-out in Girls Lips Glitter. Plus, the swelling strings of Big Wings becomes a recurring theme throughout Blush, including an extra-long outro in Rockets that almost turns the music into a dense six-minute drone.

If this had come out during trip-hop's critical peak ('94-'95), I'm sure it'd be regarded in the same discussions as Portisehead and Tricky. Unfortunately, the genre was waning in critical favour at the turn of the Millennium, so it's no surprise this would have been brushed off as 'more of the same'. If you dig trip-hop's myriad contributions though, 'more of the same' ain't a bad thing at all.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Telefon Tel Aviv - Fahrenheit Fair Enough

Hefty Records: 2001

(a Patreon Request from Omskbird)

I've seen the name Telefon Tel Aviv around, though Lord Discogs tells me I've acquired but one track of theirs. Not even a track, actually, but a remix, appearing on the Impulsive! Revolutionary Jazz Reworked collection from Verve Records; apparently I compared their rub to a Hybrid tune. Even beyond that though, theirs is a name that's floated in the periphery of preferred IDM producers, a slightly underground option for those who dug a little deeper into the scene. They never had the promotional clout of a Warp or Mille Plateaux behind them, however, initially appearing on 'anything goes!' Chicago print Hefty Records (jazz! funk! post-rock! whatever Solo Andata is!). Guess when you're Americans making IDM, it takes a lot more effort getting attention, most eyes eternally fixated on whatever the Brits, Scots, Germans, and Belgians are doing. Making unique, captivating music is usually a good start.

Yes, I know 'unique music' is basically the whole selling point of IDM, where you gotta' sound completely different from your contemporaries if you're to stand out from the crowd. There's still some aesthetic cross-pollination though, otherwise you'd never see continuous namedrops of Aphex Twin, Autechre, Squarepusher, and Boards Of Canada when making comparisons. And guess what, I'm gonna' do it again here, Telefon Tel Aviv's debut album taking the hyper-editing glitchiness of Autechre, pairing it with the shoegazey acoustic melodies of BoC's The Campfire Headphase. Well, that was an easy review, what's for supper? Mmm, bacon-filled brussel sprouts sounds delish'.

On the great IDM hierarchy, Telefon Tel Aviv rated somewhere around Plaid, a recognizable duo with music folks quite enjoyed without ever being too challenging on the technical front. Fahrenheit Fair Enough is definitely the sort of album you'd marvel at in a blind purchase (before anyone knew who they were), and fondly return to as the years pass on. The titular opener is as strong a showcase for what you're in for with the Telefon Tel-stylee. Gentle Rhodes tones give way to clicky-glitchy-itchy beatcraft that I'm sure captivates ADHD sorts, but never overstay their welcome for those who just prefer some nice melodies (*cough*). A little guitar doodling joins with simple techno grooves, taking us out on more a nu-jazz tip. And none of this sounds convoluted or overwrought in the slightest! That ain't no mean feat in genre fusion this ambitious. Like, who ever heard of 'restraint' among braindancers? You either go as far as you can go, or don't go at all.

Most of the songs play out as above, chill opening tones, followed by some glitchy effects (even on the modern classical outings like Life Is All About Taking Things In And Putting Things Out... gosh, what a shoegaze title), heading into jazzy techno finales. No, not Detroit – these guys hailed from New Orleans whereabouts. Fahrenheit Fair Enough also isn't a terribly long album, though the Ghostly International re-issue does add a second LP's worth of archival material. Not a bad deal there, nosiree.

Richard Durand - Always The Sun (Original TC Review)

Magik Muzik: 2009

(2019 Update:
Well. I certainly had a lot to say about this, huh. Never thought I'd ever listen to this again, but for some daft reason I kept the MP3 album, maybe for future reference. Then I embarked on my listening project, listened to this again, figuring it'd be the final time I'd subject myself to it. And now I've listened it again, for the sake of completism within this blog's archives. I've only myself to blame.

But enough about my sad-sack, what's ol' Durand been up to since? Quite a bit actually, that blatant 'I R Nu-Tiësto!" marketing taking the next logical step when he was handed the
In Search Of Sunrise DJ mix series after Mr. Verwest completely and fully abandoned trance for lucrative Vegas money. Naturally, the series saw diminishing returns with every volume, to such a point they started pairing him with other guest jocks (and BT). And now, he's no longer involved either, the latest edition featuring McProg's superstars of old in Marcus Schulz, Andy Moor, and Gabriel & Dresden. Durand also kept releasing albums, his latest coming out this past year, where he's apparently aged twenty since this one. Helps when you're not airbrushed into the Uncanny Valley.)


IN BRIEF: Gads…

The name Richard Durand (Richard van Schooneveld’s current alias) made quite the impression when it first broke out in the trance scene, although it wasn’t for a good reason. Rather, he’d briefly stolen the title of Needless Remixer Of Classics from Sean Tyas, though folks quickly realized that, aside from Toca’s Miracle, he was mostly just doing old Tiësto singles (he has made dubious remixes for classics by The Prodigy and Underworld since, however). The initial hate subsided, but there was this lingering feeling that something was still askew regarding this Durand fella’. For instance, why him? Who was he, exactly? Where did he come from? And, considering how much Mr. Verwest seemed to be giving him the thumbs-up, why were so many of his remixes and follow-up singles garnering incredibly divisive opinions? (the usual from “mesmerizing” to “torturous”, though typically “pointless” being the consensus)

To be honest, Durand’s ascent is remarkable when you consider what he was doing when the Big T saw something in him. Before then, he was carving out a niche sharing compilations with the likes of Scooter, Lasgo, and Klubbheads as G-Spott, releasing a stream of dodgy euro-dance with gratuitous supersaws. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because very little of his material ever left the realms of Dutch, with tracks appearing on equally dodgy releases going by names like 100% Eurotrance Vol. 4, Get Uppa And Dance 3, and Damn! 9. Then again, even the biggest titans of dance music had very humbling beginnings (Doot Doot, anyone?), so we shouldn’t hold Richard’s past against him. Or should we?

Let’s turn our attention to the release at hand, Mr. van Schooneveld’s debut ‘Richard Durand’ album Always The Sun. A change of artist names to something closer to one’s real name is a sure sign that ol’ Richard wants to be regarded as a Serious Producer now, with a muse that stretches well beyond his G-Spott legacy; smart career idea, to say the least. To back that up, he’s introduced more tech-trance attributes to his tracks, giving his productions a much tougher edge. Unfortunately, he’s also carried a lot of his generic cheese-dance baggage with him, such that it permeates much of his debut album. This wouldn’t be a horrible thing if he went into this tongue-in-cheek the way other over-the-top hard-trance acts like DuMonde often did, but he doesn’t - after all, this is the new, Serious Producer Richard Durand, not that silly G-Spott guy who was seen playing a synthesizer to CGI popcans in the video for N-R-G. (trust me, YouTube that shit!). I mean, just look at the intensity of that face in the cover!

He hopelessly fails. At damned near everything.

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, Sykonee, how can he really fail? I mean, so long as I can dance to it, right? Um… right?” That’s just it. I never thought I’d say this about standard 4/4 dance music, but Durand has actually managed to make tracks that are nigh on impossible to dance to. I’m not even talking about the usual overlong breakdown-build nonsense Dutch trance abuses - the song-writing itself lacks any sense of flow. When the rhythms, basslines, and synth-hooks are all in play, they sound horribly disjointed, creating this weird, herky-jerky momentum that saps the energy right out of your legs; it’s the sonic equivalent of walking on a railroad track. In fact, that’s exactly what it was like, as I couldn’t even get a decent walking groove going when I was listening to stuff like Papillon, Ancient Garden… hell, everything in the album's first half. I’m sure Durand’s defenders will point out that I’m not listening to his music in the proper context, that I should be hearing it blasting out of towers of speakers at clubs. Yet walking and dancing aren’t that dissimilar - both require a sense of rhythmic motion, and Durand’s music totally, utterly, fucking wrecks it when you try to move with. Then again, many of Durand’s fanbase considers dancing to be jumping in one spot with a fist in the air.

So yes, Durand has actually failed to make dance music that is danceable on a dance album. It gets worse though. For instance, are you still pining for more Anthem knock-offs? That track may be two years old now, but Durand seems intent at his piece of the melodramatic male-singer eurodance pie, and offers up two generic cuts: the titular track, and No Way Home. I actually didn’t mind vocalist Simon Binkenborn when I heard him on Leon Bolier’s album, but there he was featured on a track that was quite content to be light-weight eurodance fluff. On Durand’s album, however, it seems he’s been instructed to belt out his lyrics with all the overwrought raw emotion he can possibly muster - this is, after all, a Very Serious album. Predictably, the results are ridiculously over-the-top sap. Ah well, at least there weren’t any naff acoustic guitars this ti- wait, what’s this at the end of the album? A… melodramatic acoustic version of No Way Home? FFFFFUUUUUUU...

Although I could endlessly berate the first half of Always The Sun (like the hopelessly amateur sounding Divine, which desperately wants to be a profound opener; or the equally desperate Next Big Anthem Into Something), perhaps it’s about time I turn my attention to the second half. Here is where Durand’s corny super-trance takes full control, starting with a generic femme vocal trancer in City Never Sleeps and followed by Mouseville, an ultra supersaw epic trancer that sounds like a left-over System-F tune Corsten was embarrassed to release. The good news is Durand seems to have finally figured out how to get everything in his tracks working together, so you can actually dance to these. The bad news is he’s forgotten how to adequately mix his tracks together (did I mention this is a continuous mix album? Oops…). So, instead of fucked-up flow within his tunes, it’s now fucked-up flow between the tunes. Gah, can’t he do anything right?

As for the remainder tracks, they’re mostly serviceable tech-trance numbers, but much of their hinted potential awesome is too often squandered. The Trigger, for example, features the first instance on this album of a genuinely unique and nifty hook, a bleepy little thing that gets devilishly twisted as a buzzing sawwave spits and spurts in the background; it never takes off in any significant way, even when the two breakdown-builds suggest the track is ready to erupt. Instead, the standard beats are brought back in, and The Trigger gradually comes to an unremarkable end. As does the whole bloody album.

Call me flabbergasted. I cannot for the life of me figure out how this album saw a green-light at Tiësto’s label. Sure, we’ve handed out bad scores to them before, but it was for things like dull pop pandering or misguided experimentation. Durand’s album is none of this. It’s a euro-cornball hard-trance album trying to pass itself off as a Serious And Earnest collection of rough’n’ready tech-trance (watch the video for Always The Sun if you still don’t believe me), thus diluting the ‘stoopid-fun’ of the former while easily getting outclassed by the likes of Oliver Lieb, Marco V - hell, even Bolier - in the latter. Still, although Always The Sun has all the musical merit of a Special D. album, this probably won’t stop Durand’s career from continuing its rise - Tiësto’s mighty PR machine will see to that. The only thing that still eludes me is why Mr. Verwest would have given a cheesy Dutch hard-trance producer an opportunity like this in the first place. Perhaps Tiësto figures Durand’s success will give him the chance to resurrect Da Joker.

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Alter Ego - Alter Ego

Harthouse/Harthouse America: 1994/1995

Even with their name right there as the album's title, I doubt most folks would believe you if you told them this was Alter Ego's debut. Oh, the old heads know, though they tend to skip straight to Decoding The Hacker Myth for their Must Have Alter Ego Records Of The '90s; Acid Jesus too, if they want some straight-up techno. Heck, even if folks are savvy enough to know Alter Ego started out on a more chill bent, I'm sure they'll name-drop the album they released before this one (The Primitive Painter as The Primitive Painter) as the more interesting of the two, if nothing else because of how unknown it is (gotta' show off that trainspotter savvy).

Thus in a discography that includes IDM, techno, tech-house, minimal tech-house, electro, faux-electro, and some acid too, Alter Ego stands alone, more a remnant of the ambient dub era of downtempo music than anything Misters Wuttke and Flügel would go on to do. For sure they put their own spin on the sound, but by and large most folks instead regard this album a chill-out option within the early Harthouse catalogue, a companion piece to whatever mellow moments Ralf Hildenbeuten, Oliver Lieb and B-Zet were providing the label. Aside from the laid-back acid vibes of single Soulfree, little from here gets brought up when discussing Alter Ego's body of work.

Well, poo on them, because I quite enjoy Alter Ego for all those reasons! Yeah, it owes a fair deal to ambient dub, but that gives their music much warmth over their more clinical excursions into music-making. If anything, I'd bill this stuff as 'lounge techno', the sort of music you could imagine being played out at a dimly-lit coffee shop while relaxing on a sofa, a warm mug of your favourite caffeinated beverage simmering nearby as you contently flip through some old novel, its spine withered from repeated usage. No, I'm not basing that off the one track titled Sentimental Books, why do you ask?

As mentioned, Soulfree was the lead single, a wonderfully downtempo outing of deep acid grooves. Atomic Playground plays up to its namesake, a playful little ditty of acid, jazz, and dub, while Chinese Eyes lazily bobbles along with dubby acid and lushly warm pads. For those who need their Alter Ego a tad more upbeat, the thirteen-minutes of Nude Restaurant works a nifty, rolling oscillating rhythm as acid and synths percolate throughout, while Tanks Ahead shows off the duo's funkier side of acid electro (small wonder The Black Dog tapped this one to remix). And as is required of most techno albums of the day, we get the obligatory ambient closer in Undersea Girl, about as warm a piece of ambience as I've ever heard from anyone of the era, wrapping you in thick blankets of synthy timbre while spacey acid bubbles to the ocean surface from Atlantian depths. Yes, I've had this album so long, it's practically painted canvases within my brain matter. How it do?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Bogdan Raczynski - Alright! (Original TC Review)

Rephlex: 2007

(2019 Update:
I don't normally include the track list in these old TranceCritic reposts, much less any review beyond some personal burned discs, since it's usually redundant, unimportant information, and takes up ugly space. However, much of the opening paragraph is dependent upon you knowing what the track list looks like, so in this rare case, it's here to see. Funny thing is, despite this album now being over a decade old (!!), I'm still not sure if the track title confusion has cleared up. The Discoggian entry has them all listed as 'Part's, but scope out the Bandcamp option, and they appear as below. I think I added 'Part' to the titles when I uploaded this album to my computer, just so the Last.fm scrobbling data didn't get all wonky too. And since the album's not on Spotify - y'know, where Bogdan can make a couple fractions of a penny via streaming - there's no way to know for sure, is there?

Sadly, this was Mr. Racyznski's last album. He's kept active in other ventures (does he still mod? I feel like he's the kind of guy that'd still mod), and recently released a four-track collection of DJ mixes on his Bandcamp. It just feels wrong that he never followed up this giddy LP. Surely he's got more ideas in his brainpan for the braindancers. Like, a decade's a long period to not release anything official, and far as I know, Rephlex's doors are always open for the quirkier chaps in this scene.)



Track List:
1. Alright! (4:59)
2. Alright! (4:51)
3. Alright! (4:31)
4. Alright! (4:32)
5. Alright! (4:05)
6. Alright! (5:32)
7. Alright! (5:58)
8. Alright! (7:38)

IN BRIEF: Um... alright?

No, your eyes don’t deceive you. That really is the track list to this album. Or is it? There is absolutely nothing to hint at what the titles are, or even if the tunes contained on here do have titles. Sure, Mr. Raczynski has mentioned they should be Alright!, but given his prankster past, how trustworthy can such claims be? For all we know, they could all be called ‘Untitled’, or even ‘...’. Perhaps we the consumers have been granted the good grace to come up with our own names, although I’d imagine that would make finding these on your handy P2P programs ever more difficult. What I do know for certain is they are not titled after record labels, so ignore that fake track list floating around with names like Rough Trade and Forced Exposure: it's completely the bunk. For the sake of sanity, I’ll be referring to them by their track numbers in this review (#2, #4, #7, etc.).

Alright? Good. After reading that, you should have a better idea of what kind of a producer Bogdan Raczynski is (if you didn’t know already, anyway). Taking influence from ‘braindance’ icons of the 90s like Squarepusher and µ-Ziq, his music can be a bit, um, challenging. At the same time though, he treats his craft with the recklessness giddiness of a child, taking delight in throwing curveballs at the self-serious attitudes the IDM crowds are known for. Whether making threats to produce psychedelic trance if fans didn’t legally obtain his music or using bait-and-switch album names like Ibiza Anthems Vol. 4, Bogdan can be one tricksy musician.

On his sixth full-length, it also appears he’s become nostalgic,Alright! a kind of joyful throwback to the hedonistic days of raving, when folks were more concerned with happy-fun times rather than prestigious regard in the eyes of the larger world. Goodness knows seeing the word ‘eurodance’ on the back cover of a Rephlex release is enough to throw such serious plans right out the window.

Fortunately for fans of Bogdan’s drum programming, his scattershot rhythms and frantic pacing is still in full effect, although far less complex than in years past. There’s breakbeats at break-neck pace, proto-gabber beats bobbing about, and plenty of tin-can rim shots for you to gorge on. Er, yeah, a lot of the percussion, while interesting to hear, comes off weak and flat, as do many of the sounds used too. You’d think he cannibalized a bunch of 8-bit video games for samples, which may not be far from the truth. Frankly, aside from moments when the bass suddenly rumbles with authority (especially so in #4), much of Alright! is gleefully under-powered, and will immediately turn away those whose tastes are within the confines of squeaky-clean, pristine, EQ’d-to-the-max production.

Shame for them, then, as they’ll be missing out on some gosh-darned wonderful little songs here. Between rave-tastic riffs - #1 and #3 spring immediately to mind - and mellower melodies (#6 and #7) Alright! is just so endearing, you can’t help but come away with a smile on your face. Heck, the tinny production even helps sell the tone of the album, reveling in childlike exuberance.

Is it silly? Sure. #4 could just as easily be called The Spastic Acid Kitty-Kat Parade, but what a hoot it is! And #8 sums up Alright! perfectly, indulging in both old-school energy and ambient sentimentality for a winner of a track. Perhaps the only stumble to be found is the acid work in #5, lacking the spiffiness the other tunes have but still fun in its own right.

Undoubtedly, fans of Bogdan’s work and dedicated followers of Rephlex have already snagged this one up, but what about the rest of you? Should you commit debit to disc on a silly ‘braindance’ album? Even if your tastes are razor thin, I still say yes, if anything to spice up your collection. But more than that, no matter the circumstance, these tracks are simply fun diversions, very much channeling the care-free spirit of raving’s heyday. And isn’t the whole point of dancing to let go of the world’s formalities anyway?

Clocking in well under an hour, Alright! breezes by quickly and like the rave party that prematurely ends, you can’t help but long for just one more song. End it does though, as does this review.

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

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Advanced UFO Phantom - Alliance Of Worlds

Werkstatt Recordings: 2013

What's funniest about this EP is its alphabetical placement in my music directory. I've just completed a run of three 'alien' albums, plus there's a fourth one I reviewed a couple years ago (Nacht Plank's Alien). Come to think of it, it wasn't too far back that I'd revisited Alien Project too (cringe), so there's definitely something of an extra-terrestrial nature lurking in this lump of music of mine. Heck, might there have been some Greys lurking in Air Farina too, some unidentified flying thing that come down from sky? This particular release doesn't have 'alien' in its title, yet here it is, appearing in the list just a couple items after all the others. And I find that hilarious because with cover art like that, you'd just assume Alliance Of Worlds a shoo-in for hanging out with its alien brethren. Not quite, standing between them a pair of robots, a local rocker, some ancient mystics, and those Irish dudes who just won't go away.

That's all I really got for this EP. No, wait, this was also Werkstatt's ninety-ninth release, one shy of hitting the big one-double-oh. Of course, the Greek label is up to three-hundred-five now, but it's always a special moment when you first hit that triple digit achievement. Goodness though, I don't remember what my one-hundredth CD was. For sure I was buying music at a respectable clip for a teenager with almost no significant income, but it wasn't until I started working at a music shop that I truly began indulging my musical consumption habits. My guess it was something from Moonshine. My one-thousandth CD, then? Ah, hm, I don't remember that one either, and it couldn't have been more than a year or two ago that I got it. It all comes in such waves and bunches now.

Anything else? Ooh, the one-hundred-one item in Werkstatt's catalogue was GosT's debut EP, Nocturnal Shift, so that's kinda' cool. Oh, you mean about this release I'm supposed to be reviewing. Well, as Rorschach As Voiced By It'sJustSomeRandomGuy would say, “Hrrm.”

I honestly have nothing to work with here. There's zero information of who Advanced UFO Phantom is, not even a brief blurb on the Bandcamp page. For all I know, this could be Werkstatt head Toxic Razor under another alias. He/She/They/Being-From-Beyond appeared on that Aeon Nemesis compilation I'm sure y'all have already forgotten about, but didn't offer anything worth a namedrop there.

And so it is with Alliance Of Worlds, a four-track EP that musically failed to grab my attention. The titular opener, at not even three-minutes long, is chipper, Alien Combat and Oblivion Oracles Of Beta Orionis work more a New Beat groove, while Empyrean Star opts for a chill closer. It all just sounds like so many other under-produced sci-fi synthwave offerings from this label though, with little unique to say about it. Alien Combat does have a decent New Beat stomp to it, but that's the extent of anything I can recommend about this release.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Death Grips - The Powers That B

Third Worlds: 2015

(a Patreon Request)

Impossible to ignore Death Grips, isn't it? They were among the heaviest hyped acts to emerge this past decade, in no small part due to their on-again, off-again disbanding antics; y'all better get this latest album of theirs, 'cause it might be their last! While I wasn't in a rush to check them out, I figured they were worth a scoping if most of the talking heads I trust with musical opinions were showing interest. Like, if savvy folks were going on about how that one Kanye album was essentially style-biting Death Grips, then there had to be something to this Oakland trio. I've heard all their albums are quite unique from one another though, so where to start, where to start? (Note: this Patreon Request left it to me with which album I'll review)

Most professional reviews recommend all their albums, though for differing reason, while fan lists have them arranged in all manner of random order. The Money Store seems easiest to get, but also feels kinda' wrong, being on a major label and all. Not so sure about that No Love Deep Web cover art being on my blog either. Their latest? How can I critique it without proper background comparison? Fine, I'll go with this double-disc one – should be a good sampling of their stuff.

The Powers That B is essentially two albums, each disc radically unique from its companion. The first, Niggers On The Moon, came out early as a download, and had the gimmick of featuring Björk samples throughout. Eh, I only really hear one, a consistent “ah ah-a” chopped and screwed with over digital hardcore beats (reminds me of Chemical Brothers' Song To The Siren). As for the beats, yeah, they're frenetic and spastic and experimental and Kaos Pad'd to the nth degree, but it all sounds kinda' samey throughout too. Without watching the tracks play through, I honestly couldn't tell when one ended and another began. It's an interesting listen, for sure, but strikes me as something only the dedicated Death Grips fans will get much out of.

As for Jenny Death on CD2, hole Lee bovine...! Now this, this is worth the hype. Just viscera, balls-to-the-wall thrash-punk bedlam, squalling guitars and chaotic drums over forceful, pissed-off shout-rapping from MC Ride. This is the music Liam Howlett probably wanted to take The Prodigy, before all that commercial success neutered his rebellious streak. I know Jenny Death is no more indicative of Death Grips' style than Niggers On The Moon is, but I've no doubt this is as solid an introduction to the group if you're itching to expose them to the undecided.

Hell, even the obligatory 'RnB tune', Pss Pss, is like some crazy psychedelic romp about a dirty festival. And that insane digital hardcore closer of Death Grips 2.0 is greater than anything on CD1. Okay, that Say Hey Kid was amusing, in that it reminded me of another long-since forgotten California rave-rap genre-fusion act: The Movement! (don't O.D., yo').

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Aira Mitsuki - C.O.P.Y.

D-Topia Entertainment: 2008

(a Patreon Request from Philoi)

Holy cow, it's a j-pop synthwave album! You'd think this is a shoo-in mini-scene, as '80s anime seems ripe for aesthetic plundering as anything else form the decade, but for some reason I don't see it much. Then again, a lot of the animation coming out of Japan was setting its sights in the far future (anywhere between 1995-2152), and synthwave is more about celebrating stuff that actually existed in the '80s, even if it's a hyper-stylized version cribbed from direct-to-VHS fodder. There's no doubting that cover though! The font, the streamers, the car, the city lights, the purple vector grids, the retro-future eyewear – looks about as synthwavey of art as I've ever seen. I wonder what sort of cool sounds I'll hear in this ...2008 release? Wait a second... *does a playthrough* Oh. It's not synthwave at all. Huh, I forgot the '00s cribbed a ton of '80s iconography too, all the while sounding nothing like '80s music.

Before getting into what this is, let's get into who this is. Aira Mitsuki is a j-pop songstress who apparently won some contest called the Mega Trance Songstress Audition. I have no idea what that is/was, and a Google search just brings me either to her bio, or the Mega Trance compilation series, which has nothing to do with Aira, j-pop, or trance. I'll assume it was another idol contest that Japan loves throwing, though Ms. Mitsuki used her opportunity with the victory to go in a totally unique direction.

Instead of retreading chipper ol' synth-pop in cute/fetishistic outfits, Aira instead presented herself as a “techno-pop idol from the future”. Sure, we could always use more cyborbs in our dance-pop, and she accommodated this style by going full electro-house. No, wait, that's not right. With the heavy use of vocoders, auto-tune, and other digital effects on her voice, I'm hearing nu-italo in her tunes. Yes, that short-lived novelty genre of the early '00s, where it didn't matter what you sang or how badly you sang it, the machine would turn it into a catchy radio hit. Pair it up with bouncy, stylized dance-pop, and it's basically nu-italo half a decade past its peak popularity. But then, Japan has always been resistant to global trends in their music.

It's not all nu-italo though, with plenty of that mid-'00s electro house acid farting going on. Some tracks even take things into Ed Banger territory, Beep Count Fantastic and Rock'n Roll Is Dead in particular all sorts of garrish, chunky, abrasive electro-trash noisiness. Meanwhile, イエロー・スーパーカー is... happy breakcore? Where did this come from? The future, is where!

As for lyrics, even if I understood the language, the digital effects still render everything almost unintelligible. Which is fine for me who only like nu-italo on a dumb level. Sing about being blue or a Darling Wondering Staring, it all sounds the same to me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

ACE TRACKS: December 2018

Well, that was a disappointing year. Oh, I'm not talking about all that other stuff, though it wasn't any sunshine either. Not that I was surprised by much of it, that Gen-X upbringing bracing myself for all manner of nihilistic developments as history unfolds. Still, there were little signs and portents that maybe, just maybe, things will turn around.

But no, I'm talking about on a personal front, specifically with regards to this blog. The Year 2018 saw my lowest output yet (again!), which is crazy considering I probably bought more music than ever before. It's like, in getting so many new items, I just don't have the time to digest them, taking me longer to form cohesive thoughts and opinions before committing them from fingers to keyboard. On the other hand, I did actually finish my initial goal of listening to everything I have in alphabetical order, so there's that to be proud of. Already feels like an age ago though. Also, since I'm now dedicating one day per week to Patreon-exclusive reviews, that has cut a tad back on content here. Maybe I ought to re-upload those Patreon posts here, after a month of time has passed from their posting? Maybe...


Full track list here.


MISSING ALBUMS:
Various - Aeon Nemesis
Supercar - Highvision
Aquasky - Aftershock
Various - Alien Dust 1
TUU - All Our Ancestors

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 0%
Percentage Of Rock: 16%
Most “WTF?” Track: Igorrr is as wonky as it gets, though compared to some of the other offerings off that album...

Gosh, what an enjoyable playlist this month turned out. Like, it's already chock full of choice tunes, but even some of the pairings are fun. For instance, going from the faux-live antics of Scooter, to the proper-live antics of Daft Punk, what a contrast! Then you got peppy synth pop, classy progressive house, thoughtful ambient techno, nifty psy-chill, assorted miscellaneous stuff keeping things diverse, and a dash of rock AND roll for spicy flavor. Gonna' make sure this one makes the list of ACE Ace Tracks Playlists!

Things I've Talked About

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