Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Skua Atlantic - Atlantic Fusion

Databloem: 2018

This is an item I've had sitting mostly neglected since I got it, however long ago my last Databloem splurge was. I didn't know anything about it, only that it had a blue cover art, the best colour for cover art. I threw it on once, passively listening to it in the background, and generally liking what I heard though not significantly enough to get me hotly anticipating digging into it proper-like for a review. Re-listening to it now, and sure enough more of it sinks in, the sort of ambient techno that reaches deeper into the electro and Detroit lineage, though with plenty o' nods to the mellower side of early Warp Records too. Like Selected Ambient Works 86-92, without the lingering alien synth tones or lurking mad-genius behind every uniquely construction rhythm section.

So I go to Discogs to get my requisite additional info and who's name do I see as part of Skua Atlantic but Mick Chillage. I swear to God, Allah, Vishnu, Buddah, and Spaghetti Monster, I did not know this going in. It was just the blue cover art that caught my attention! And it's not like I would have name-dropped Skua Atlantic when talking about other collaborative projects Mr. Gainford's been part of. Autumn Of Communion with Lee Norris remains his most prominent one, and there was that lone Architects Of Existence a couple years back. This is comparatively new, so you'll forgive me for having not paid attention to everything Mick's been up to – I can only do so much keeping up with his solo works and Autumn Of Communion.

Besides, there's another name here I should talk up, Árni Grétar, more commonly known as Futuregrapher. Okay, maybe not 'commonly', but the guy's had a tidy career under the alias, all the while running the Icelandic print Möller Records (the... Bandcamp... calls...). He mostly sticks to the ambient techno lane as well, but has been known to mix things up with jazzy drum programming and even a little jungle action. Not the most obvious pairing with Chillage, then, but sometimes you need someone outside your main sphere of influence to find truly inspirational sparks of creativity.

And that's what I'm hearing in Atlantic Fusion, as much a meshing of differing approaches to songcraft as flowing along similar senses for sound. I've heard Chillage create retro ambient techno plenty of times, but never retro in this fashion. I can only assume this is Grétar's contribution to the project, though taking in a little of his other works, I notice his ambient markers as well. It's strange how this album can sound futuristic, yet Balearic (ocean waves and seagulls help). Where I'm backpacking across Europe, but hitching rides from flying cars. Take an acid house club stop-over (Metro West (Acid City)), just for the kicks. Atlantic Fusion almost sounds like it should have come out on B12's FireScope label, though I'm glad Databloem released it just the same. T'was a tad cheaper from them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Flowers For Bodysnatchers - Asylum Beyond

Cryo Chambers: 2017

I had a couple angle ideas going into this album from Flowers For Bodysnatchers. A brief recap on the project from where we'd left off. Something about the history of messed-up asylum stories. A quip about how it's been so long since I last wrote anything about Cryo Chamber. As I sat down to commit fingers to keyboard though, I got an email notice informing me that Duncan Ritchie is set to release a brand new Flowers For Bodysnatchers album in a week or two. Well that's cool, thinks I, Alive With Scars perhaps providing me with some additional tidbits of info I can use for this review.

I scope out the Bandcamp link, intrigued by the picture of an upright human nervous system seemingly wandering an abandoned Victorian garden. Definitely something I've never seen before, making me wonder what the concept behind the album is. Multiple Sclerosis is the concept, the PR blurb informs, a wasting away of one's body by its own immune system. A condition Duncan has lived with for the past decade. Oh. Oh my!

Suddenly making an album about 'the Suicide Forest' takes on a whole other light. Not that this has much to do with Asylum Beyond, but it's difficult shaking all that from my head. Must move on for now though, lest I use up any talking points for whenever I do get around to discussing Alive With Scars proper-like.

Asylum Beyond has plenty 'nuff material to dig into, a 'ripped from the headlines' tale of antique shop keepers, occult rituals, lunatic hospitals, and mass murders. Fairly traditional horror fiction topics, all told, but something of a departure for Mr. Ritchie, who's albums tend to deal with mood music and psychological depression. With its ample field recordings and sparse ambience, Asylum Beyond comes off one part film soundtrack, and one part radio drama, though lacking much dialog beyond your requisite Latin chanting; can't deal with the occult without that Latin chant.

And thus I've come to yet another dark ambient album conundrum, wherein talking about it seems a futile effort. Sure, I could detail all the creepy things that go on, like heavy, echoing footsteps in abandoned warehouses in Midnight My Dearest Midnight, or discordant string swells in Ravenfield (the asylum's name), or the cheeky sample of an old-timey symphony recording at the end Phantasma, but my detailing lacks context without hearing it as part of the album's narrative whole. Asylum Beyond is bookended by creepy piano pieces, but without taking the journey of deepening madness from beginning to end, they lack the poignancy Duncan's tale offers.

Dark ambient isn't generally the most musically inclined of genres out there, usually settling for mood and atmospherics. Strangely, it's even rarer to hear an album that's this detailed in its storytelling. Simon Heath definitely indulges it with his Atrium Carceri and Sabled Sun projects, and I'm sure there's others, but it's a treat to hear another take the challenge on just the same.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Astral Projection - Astral Projection

(~): 2002

Track List:
1. Liquid Sun
2. Astral Projection vs Trilithon - Burning Up (Psychedelic Burn Out Remix)
3. Searching For UFO's
4. People Can Fly!
5. Let There Be Light
6. SFX - We Are Controlling Transmission
7. Anything Is Possible
8. Aurora Borealis

If some of y'all have wondered why goa trance legends Astral Projection have been conspicuously absent from my music collection, this is why. Absolutely I knew of them, and when cruising the AudioGalaxys and MP3.coms of the web two decades past, they were among the first names to crop up when my inquiries of 'goa trance' and 'psychedelic trance' were sent into the ether. And wouldn't you look at that, plenty of seeds for quick downloads! Absolutely I'll nab myself a bunch of those, thanks. Eventually I had enough cool tunes for a burned disc of strictly Astral Projection music, the result of which being this myself-titled compilation. Simple enough explanation, right? Oh, not so fast, I'm afraid.

Truth is, I did this with a lot of artists, including such names like Juno Reactor, Spicelab, Aphex Twin, and Biosphere. Some of those early discs simply deteriorated, but as I found myself more gainfully employed and with easier access to the CDs I wanted, I went out of my way to actually buy the albums proper-like. Who wants to settle for crummy MP3 rips on burned CDs when you can have the real deal, right? Only... I never did the deed with Astral Projection. I've forever kept this lone disc as all that I need from the famed Israeli duo, and honestly don't have much inclination to rectify that. I like the A.P. stylee, just not enough to spring for their albums. Frankly, I feel like I've heard about all there is to them with the selection of tracks I did settle with for this compilation. Sans Mahadeva, of course.

I'm sure their REAL fans could create a more authentic CD, but considering I didn't know much about them at the time, I'd say I did pretty well assembling these tunes. There's two from Trust In Trance, two from Dancing Galaxy, one from Another World, one from (then current) Amen, plus some assorted compilation-only goodies. Oh, and the Astral Projection tune that's technically not an Astral Projection tune, We Are Controlling Transmission, released just prior to them adopting their lasting alias. It certainly is more indebted to German trance than anything from the shores of Goa, and is honestly my favourite cut of the lot here.

And that's the crux of what's prevented me from diving any deeper into their discography, a sense that there really isn't much more to their sound that what's here. For sure there's differences between tracks, but when an older tune leaps out as more distinct than all that followed, I reckon there's a minor issue in your songcraft. Still, folks enjoy Astral Projection for a dependable, spacey goa trance vibe, so all the more power to them in delivering it time and again.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Asia - Asia

Geffen Records: 1982

You'd forgive me for thinking this would be better. Given the pedigree of the players involved, how could anyone initially think otherwise? The band Yes guitarist Steve Howe ended up on? Hell, I'm sold already. Geoff Downes may not be the definitive Yes synth player, but he was involved enough to be considered honoured alum, so I'll dig on what he's doing too. That John Wetton dude, long time session bassist with Yes, King Crimson and Uriah Heep: sounds like as fine a prog-rock resume as anyone of the time. And those Palmer and Lake chaps, of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, they have a darn good reputation among prog-rock heads, especially Greg Lake from his time in King Crimson. Throw in some nifty Roger Dean cover art, and I'm ready to throw this self-titled debut album from super-group Asia on. Screw what all the haters have said about this band over the years, this is gonna' rock my socks off the clock on the corner block. Hollycock!

Then opener Heat Of The Moment starts, and my face drops. Oh... That song. They were behind it. I... honestly had no idea. Absolutely I've heard it tons on the classic rock radio, the ultimate '80s radio, and the generic pop hits radio, but it never clicked for me it was by Asia. Like, the distinctive Howe guitar action I'm familiar with is almost utterly absent. No, that's not it, he's there, but buried in the mix, on equal footing with Downes' synths, Palmer's drums, and Wetton's bass. Rather, it's all about Wetton's lead vocals, which makes sense for a radio-friendly tune – no time for technical prog-rock wankery in a three-to-four minute jangle. Same goes for Only Time Will Tell, another song featured aplenty on all the aforementioned radio stations. For sure you get some solos from each player involved, but as brief seconds-long spurts, not minutes-long exercises.

How? How could Howe and co. stoop to such commercial pandering? As always, my old man had a nugget of wisdom when I inquired him about it. After the previous decade was spent getting dicked by shady labels and making little scratch for all their artistic endeavours, shooting for the charts had to be an enticing offer for these guys. I'm sure their deal with Geffen Records was a lucrative one, David Geffen snatching up anyone he could with promises of favourable contracts to establish his hip new label. Just, y'know, make sure you get some hits on the radio while you're at it. And Asia certainly delivered that.

And guess what! Once past those obvious arena rock anthems, Asia turns into the sort of prog-rock outing I was expecting, with plenty o' musical showcases and highlighted Howe guitar action among the power-pop choruses. Yeah, there's cheese, production's a little too studio polished, and it ain't a touch on their '70s stuff, but it's not so embarrassing as other '80s prog-rock went. At least on par with Yes' 90125, if you will.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Timestalker - Arrival Of The Stalkers

Werkstatt Recordings: 2016

Okay, I'm almost certain this is the last Werkstatt Recordings item I have left to review. I've gone through my backlog, and am positive nothing's among the 'B' albums. I don't want to say this will definitively close the door on my coverage of Toxic Razor's print, because there's some chance another release from there will catch my eye (always the eye before the ear with Werkstatt). No more thematic bulk buys though, nosiree, bobski. Finally, I can say I'm closing the book on this odd chapter of my blog's history, wherein the promise of more synthwave than I could shake a Yamaha DX7 at was there for the taking (also: sweet stickers).

Arrival Of The Stalkers is as fitting a cap on my Werkstatt saga as any, a release that seems to encapsulate what I initially found so darn cool about the label, but eventually worn down by too. It's got the striking cover art, in this case a Judge Dredd future-shock depiction, though set in bright neo-Tokyo rather than the grimdark slums of the original comic – always what is thought represented that decade, not what was. However, Timestalker is mostly a Discoggian blank, though at least has a follow-up album listed and a Bandcamp link leading to a couple more releases. It looks as though he's developed a tidy if small career for himself, which is more than can be said for nearly half the Werkstatt alum I've thus far covered. And if the Bandcampian algorithm is suggesting GosT in association with your music, you must be doing something right.

The titular opener also perfectly hits all those tasty attributes my enjoyment of synthwave craves. The 'ripped from a Cannon Film Group newscast' sample, the crunchy darksynth low-ends, the bright, ear-wormy synth leads, and ooh, some added string pads at the peaks. It's nothing I haven't heard before from this genre, but it does it exactly the way I like it, which is the least I ever ask for in the music I like.

Follow-up track Rise Of The Pariah hints at another winner, with that good ol' Carpenter influence going in the rhythm. Unfortunately, the bright lead synths accompanying the tough low-end is a serious clash of tones, and the tune struggles to coalesce into anything memorable. Outbreak Of Evil suffers for this too, a strong opening of aggressive darksynth ideas, undone by a clashing lead synth; also, whoof, that keychange. And did I ever want to like Ultra-Violence, getting in on that outrun Perturbator stylee, if only the chirping synths meshed better.

And that sums up my experience with much of Werkstatt's catalogue, don't it? Excitable initial lure, a tune or two that captures my fancy, but a bunch of niggling things that reminds me there's a lot of amateur producers still finding their feet. Still, I'll always give the label credit for giving these aspiring musicians an opportunity, some of whom have gone onto bigger careers. Gotta' start somewhere.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Morgan - Arrakis

Lotek Records: 2002

Quite a few people feel David Lynch's Dune is a lot of bad things. Incomprehensible. Impenetrable. A gross misrepresentation of the novel. A meandering mess of inner monologues and dated special effects, a ton of wasted acting and costuming talents. An inglorious mess of a film, that's constantly being pillaged for memes, parodies, and samples. Wait, is that a bad thing? I've gotten plenty of giggles and guffaws from the memes and parodies, while much of electronic music is indebted to Dune's dialog. Where might Ian Loveday as EON have gone without that movie? Not to mention the voices of Virginia Madsen, Kyle MacLachlan, and Random Robo-Computer Spacing Guild Voice endlessly being used in trance tunes. Frank Herbert's visionary space-opera with cool sounding names like Arrakis and Kwisatz Haderach is forever enthralling folks new and old alike. Even those who's muse don't really jive with Dune's aesthetic.

Maybe it's Brian Eno and Toto's contributions to the Lynch movie soundtrack forever setting the template, but when I think of Dune, ominous mysterious music always springs to mind (y'know, trance!). I don't think high energy club-stomping circus clown music, with basslines that have a bangin' donk on it. I've no doubt Morgan's heart and intent was in the right place – a bad-ass name for a bad-ass mix, with bad-ass samples from a bad, ass (?) film – but man, it's such a whiplash going from the well-worn, ethereal Prologue of the movie, straight into an OD404 track.

Let's backtrack: who is Morgan? One of the premier NRG and UK hard house jocks in America, he was instrumental in developing its scene on the Pacific side of the continent, even going so far as to establish one of the earliest labels supporting domestic artists with any consistency. It didn't last much past the '00s, but for a genre that was always rather fringe 'round these here parts, Lotek Records had a good run. Morgan's Discoggian info mostly dries up this decade as well, though I'm sure he's called into service for the odd gig here and there. Despite massive shifts in electronic music interests and demographics, this music has retained a surprisingly sturdy, devoted following to this day, with folks remembering Morgan's contributions in its early rise.

Which doesn't have much to do with me, if I'm honest. This is a form of music I'm fine with upon its initial thrust of enthusiasm, but wears down on after about twenty minutes of the same ol' formula over and over. Uncreative DJs are usually to blame for that, and credit to Morgan, he does mix things up between the hoover-tastic NRG cuts and the goofy, donk-y tracks, all the while throwing in Dune samples throughout. The concept may conflict with my sensibilities, but Morgan commits to it. An hour of this is more than I'm willing to take before my interest wanders though, and had Arrakis not been part of another person's former CD collection, I wouldn't have gotten it at all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Angling Loser - Arena Of Apprehension

...txt: 2016

That's another Lee Norris project ticked off the list. Yet, I'm still barely half-way through 'em all, and who knows if I'll ever find a copy of Orphic Signals' Sounds Of The Neutron, or Tone Language's Patience Is the Key.This one's a little more involved than just another pairing with a producer for a singular jam session though. Nay, The Angling Loser is a conglomerate of musicians Lee happens to know and are all over for a jam. Sir Cliff is here! Porya Hatami is here! Shintaro Aoki is here! Martin Hirsch is here! Wil Bolton is here! Or might be here, depending on the album. Maybe they only all appeared in the first 2013 album, Author Of The Twilight, because I don't see all those names in Arena Of Apprehension's liner notes. Eh, who are all these names? Oh c'mon, I've reviewed a couple of them already. Porya for sure. Uh... Bolton, maybe? No? Hmm.

Anyway, that initial session must have worked out well enough for most of the players involved, as Lee, Porya, Shintaro, and Sir (Gordon Jones) reconvened a few years later for another. Not a huge one, mind you, Arena Of Apprehension running just five tracks long, averaging between eight and ten minutes in length. That's only forty-four minutes total, an astonishingly low number for guys making ambient and modern classical. Surely there were a few extra drone-scapes lurking in their minds. Were they all only available for a single day? Hey, it's possible, the scheduling of artists from various locales conflicting with one another; places to be, gigs to perform, families to care, other jobs needing attention. It was probably a small effort just to get enough of the O.G. Angling Loser posse in for at least one more outing under the project name.

So, of all the myriad Norris ambient projects I've taken in, what differentiates The Angling Loser, beyond the increased performers? At first ear-glance, acoustic guitar, as played by Gordon “Sir Cliff” Jones. Ain't heard no six-stringer strumming on Memex or Moss Garden, that's for sure. Maybe on an Autumn Of Communion album, but I haven't heard all those yet (no box-set of that duo for me, thanks). Along with the usual minimalist ambient pads and textures you hear in almost everything Lee's a part of, there's also piano, field recordings, and crackly treatments giving the music a lived-in, rustic, pastoral vibe.

Which makes sense, given that the whole idea behind The Angling Loser is capturing the mood of solitude out in the wilderness, nothing better to do than lounge by a small river, the futile hope of capturing rainbow trout the extent of your worries. There's even some cheeky instructional dialog towards the end of Rain For The Oblivious pointing out the inherent silliness of it all. Still, given the cover art, I must quibble that the music is almost too summery and tranquil. Ain't no way you'd hear so many chirping birds in the middle of a slushy snowfall.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Delerium - Archives, Vol. 2

Nettwerk: 2001

I know the album Poem from Delerium has its fans, but for me it was a watered-down retread of Karma. After learning that Rhys Fulber had 'left' the partnership to pursue his own Conjure One project, I figured Delerium done. Joke's on me, Leeb and Fulber reconvening and adding four more albums to the Delerium discography since. Can't blame me for such an assumption though. When retrospective compilations hit the market, it's only natural to think a group is moving on.

Thus were my thoughts with Archives, released just after Poem, and seemingly as a stamp on the Delerium saga. Archives Vol. 1 would naturally cover all of their cross-over material (three albums is usually enough to cobble together a greatest hits package), while Vol. 2 would take a surprising dive into Delerium's pre-Nettwerk era. At least, that's what I assumed, hence why I only sprung for this collection and not Vol. 1. Turns out Vol. 1 reached even further back, when Leeb's pairing with Fulber had just started Delerium as little more than a side-project to Front Line Assembly, material only the earliest followers of their music would be aware of. That's remarkably bold of Nettwerk, assuming interest in the group had grown so substantial, they could capitalize on stuff in stark contrast to radio-friendly ethno-chill tunes featuring Sarah McLachlan. Maybe Leeb curried favours from the label, resuscitating stuff from his defunct Dossier print before Cleopatra somehow claimed total ownership over it.

What's interesting about Archives Vol. 2 is it also captures Delerium in transition. It covers three albums from their discography: Spiritual Archives, Spheres and Spheres II, the former essentially capping off their dark ambient period. And boy does it show on the track Drama, creepy industrial clank and melodramatic orchestration the name of the game there. Ephemeral Passage goes for the ominous yet angelic mood music, whereas Aftermath and Awakenings sound like the Front Line Assembly downtempo b-sides Delerium was.

Spheres, meanwhile, found Leeb and Fulber moving beyond the dusty catacombs and gothic planes in search of the outer realms of their muses. For sure it's still dark ambient, but spacier, emptier; music for traversing the Stargates of the Old Ones. Look, they ain't subtle about this, one of the tracks titled Monolith, and using the air ventilation sound effects from 2001: A Space Odyssey. To say nothing of the failing life supports beeping at the end of Hypoxia. There's some interesting ideas floating about the two Spheres showcases (almost the entirety of Spheres II is included on CD2), but some tracks seem to go on and on with no clear focus. Lots of weird sci-fi sound-effects, decent trip-hop beats, some toying around with acid and Delerium's distinct ethereal synth pads. The pure ambient pieces are quite lovely though.

Still, the most interesting take with the Spheres portion of Archives Vol. 2 is “they were making this concurrently with Semantic Spaces?” Makes you wonder what their future would have held had the Nettwerk debut flopped, doesn't it.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Planetary Assault Systems - Arc Angel

Ostgut Ton: 2016

It's not that I became so enamoured with The Messenger that I just had to get Arc Angel right after. Like, surely if that album wooed me so, I'd have dug into the past of Planetary Assault Systems albums - say the more highly regarded Temporary Suspension, or even all the way back to The Drone Sector. Nay, I simply felt if I was gonna' pop my head ears-first into Luke Slater's recent music, I may as well double up my purchases, and Arc Angel was right there to greet me (also: L.B. Dub Corp ...hey, a new album from that project too? Oh, no Bandcamp option. Pity).

Still, I feared a double-LP of minimal techno would end up overkill, too much monotonous rhythms and non-existent melodies to endure. For sure I had some faith that it wouldn't be a bunch of plinky-plonk wank – 2016 is well removed from that era of dreadfully tedious 'minimal' – but even seventy-three minutes of utilitarian Berghain tools is just too much for a home-listening experience. In a dank, sweaty warehouse with lights low, booze cheap, and pills pure, yeah, let's have eight hours of the stuff!

And yet, I somehow found myself enthralled by Arc Angel for its duration. Don't get me wrong, it is a fairly one-note album, each track essentially doing the same thing throughout. Relentless, cavernous techno rhythms, deep sub-bass frequencies that you don't so much hear but feel (proper sound-system a must), and loopy, bleepy sounds serving as the hook for the worms in your ear. Slater made mention that he wanted this album to have more of a melodic focus, which seems odd for a collection of minimal techno, almost a betrayal of its ethos. Plus, these aren't exactly jingles you can hum in the shower, melody more of an abstract idea than anything conventional.

Melodic is what Arc Angel is though, after its own fashion. While I'm certain creative DJs have used some of these tracks in their sets, I don't get a sense these were strictly intended as clubbing tools. If Slater wanted to make those, he'd release them as EPs, and the smattering of records coming out in the same time frame as Arc Angel had nothing featured from here.

Ultimately, I feel Luke's goal was achieved, for no other reason than this is a solid home-listening collection of minimal techno. Absolutely it helps the 2CD outing has various ambient-drone Interlude doodles to break up any monotony, but even beyond that, I find myself lost in a hypnotic headspace more than feeling an urge to move my body (much less hit the skip button). I'd still prefer a couple explorations outside this particular strict genre exercise, but if I want to hear that from Slater, there's plenty of aliases and projects of his that do the trick. Like that new L.B. Dub Corp album, Side Effects. Surely that's on Spotify, yeah? Yeah! Mmm, dubby tech-house with none of that German haus business.

Friday, February 15, 2019

OutKast - Aquemini

LaFace Records: 1998

Like many, this was my first introduction to OutKast. Unlike many, I didn't actually hear this until well after I'd heard their follow-up album Stankonia, the first OutKast record I listened to. The logic in this admission is Aquemini had been a major hit in the little corner of Canadian hinterland I lived, the local populace quite enamoured over that Rosa Parks jam.

Upon returning to the music shop I worked at after a year away in The Big City, that snappy Aquemini cover art was there to greet me, one of the store's hottest items at the time. Interesting, thinks I, in that when I'd left the year before, it was Puff Daddy's tribute to the dead Biggy that was our hottest item. I was curious what could have supplanted that gargantuan single, but didn't throw it on before we sold through our stock, and forgot about it. Then I heard Stankonia, my head a'sploded from its awesomeness, and I remembered, oh yeah, they had that Aquemini album a couple years back too. I should check that out, if I ever find it again.

I bring all this up because context is key in how one forms an opinion on something, and because of my ass-backwards journey into OutKast's discography, my initial impressions of Aquemini wasn't so high. For sure I eventually dug what I heard, but it wasn't what I was expecting. Stankonia's wild genre fusion had me thinking the Atlantian duo were always doing such stuff, and instead I got a solid rap album with some southern soul and a smattering of dalliances outside the norm. Man, how I envy those who were listening to OutKast from the beginning, hearing Aquemini proper-like as yet another bold step forward in their musical evolution.

Honestly though, I don't have much to gripe with this album. I feel it drags a bit too long, my attention drifting after the two-parter Da Art Of Storytellin', but that was a complaint of almost ever hip-hop album in the late '90s: too much bloat. Still, it's hard denying Aquemini winds significantly down in the back-half. Prior to that, you have the aforementioned club hit Rosa Parks, the Raekwon guesting Skew It On The Bar-B (a big deal, considering few from the East Coast felt Southern rap had much legitimacy), the ultra-psychedelic titular cut, and the electro-leaning Synthesizer (George Clinton, yo'!). Damn, even without comparing to Stankonia, that's still a hot opening salvo of songs! Slump and West Savannah take things back to the easy-vibin' groove, while Da Art Of Storytellin' Parts 1 & 2 have some of the catchiest production on the whole damn album (the rappity-rap parts are pretty dope too).

What I'm trying to say is, Aquemini was a real slow burn for yours truly. It didn't mesmerize me like Stankonia did because how could it? I had to take it on its own terms, which I stubbornly did after too many years. My brain did a bad on this one.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

U-Recken - Aquatic Serenade (Original TC Review)

Dooflex: 2006

(2019 Update:
Haha, I was such a chronic back in the day, wasn't I? There I go, smoking d'at dank kush, all for the means of a review that I assumed few people would read because really, who'd care about Yet Another Full-On producer in Israel's overcrowded scene? Oh, wait, a lot of you, apparently. Uh, didn't see that coming, all the hits this review received on TranceCritic. Not to mention just how much some folks are willing to pay for this on the Discogs market. Like, I knew this was generally well regarded at the time, but didn't think it'd be a superstar launch or anything. I could hear the potential though, Yaniv's songcraft at creating psy trance with some intelligence and skill behind it. He just needed refinement, or at least an editor, someone to shake off the useless fluff he littered so many of his tracks with.

And wouldn't you know it, he seems to have taken the advice I offered here, even if he likely never read it. I checked out his latest album, 2017's
Nothing Is Sacred, and most of the things I liked about Aquatic Serenade has been retained, with none of the naff randomness I found distracting. Just simple, spacey, morning psy vibes. Almost tempted to buy a proper copy.)


IN BRIEF: A full-on olive branch to goa? Perhaps...

The genre wars in the psy scene is probably at an all-time high. The old goa guard has been moaning over full-on’s raise to supremacy for most of the 21st Century, claiming it’s destroying psy’s initial spiritual connections in favor of clubbing appeal. To the old goa guard, I say this: welcome to the world of music.

No matter how hard some may try to protect and cultivate their scenes, electronic music has a way of being heard by outsiders: separate scensters, business opportunists, even those who don’t consider EDM ‘proper’ music. When this happens, it attracts new folks, and thus new ideas. Some stick and become new sub-genres, attracting even more new folks who dig the new sound over the old. I’m sure everyone knows what this leads to, so I won’t dwell on it.

Still, even if full-on is super-popular in psy strongholds like Israel and... um...er, other places (does psy have huge followings anywhere else?), if it doesn’t try to innovate or change its formula, it will suffocate on its own bloated self-worth. As much fun as driving rhythms and catchy psychedelic hooks can be, endless copycats only dilute the scene, leaving it to collapse from excessive weight.

Yaniv Ben-Ari may realize this. As U-Recken, he seems to show interest in crafting songs using the full-on template merely as the foundation rather than to get popular with the kids.

I know the term ‘subtle full-on’ sounds like an oxymoron but that’s honestly the feeling I get from Aquatic Serenade. Despite the trappings, there’s few moments that succumb to full-on’s clichés. The tracks have mellow, flowing synth melodies that guide you between typical wiggly, squiggly bursts of acid. In fact, with such attention paid to the melodies rather than the climaxes, I’d almost be inclined to say some tracks hold elements of goa rather than full-on.

A couple by-the-book tracks aside, the main thing that helps U-Recken distinguish himself are the rhythms. Yes, there’s plenty of full-on’s characteristic ‘duggita-duggita-duggita’ bassline throughout, but it doesn’t always dominate. Some tracks even forego it altogether (Pitch Of Mind being the most apparent example). Most of the time this happens when the standard bassline begins to overstay its welcome, making the differing basslines most welcome.

As with most psy trance, Yaniv fills his tracks with many hooks and sounds; one can sometimes hold more musical ideas than half an hour of an epic trance set. This seems to be the result of his improvisational approach to the tracks, and will often keep you guessing as to where he’s taking a song. It sounds like a good idea: unexpected surprises keeps music exciting if you crave diversity. Something seems amiss though, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Fortunately, I have a handy aid which allows me to pay diligent attention to music in such emergencies like this.

Sykonee gets stoned; listens to Aquatic Serenade in such state. Eighty minutes pass...

...see, what I don’t get is why the Machines would send a Terminator back in the first place. Surely they would have realized if they had to send one back to kill Conner at all, that the T-800 failed. If he’d succeeded, there would be no Resistance to begin with. But then I suppose if they didn’t send the Terminator, the Resistance might spring up anyways. But then we’re just back to the illogical assumption sending a T-800 to the past if its mission was pre-determined to fa- Wait, what was I talking about again?

While listening to U-Recken’s debut under a THC haze, I find the biggest problem is it just doesn’t maintain its focus. A big number of tracks have wonderful little melodic or psychedelic moments (opener Lost Paradise, Tania being good examples), then are never heard from again. Various themes are often dropped after a good minute or so, and aren’t even revisited again later in the track. I don’t mind musical tangents in a song, but at least have some kind of unifying narrative, otherwise it can turn into a big mess of rando-

Wait, what was I talking about again?

I have to admit a part of me fears technology is slowly but surely taking over our humanity. I mean, just look at the most recent party trends of raving. Synthetic music; synthetic stimulants; synthetic lighting; hell, even the synthesizers are synthetic (word to laptop symphonies)! Maybe there won’t be any need for an apocalyptic war between man and machine; they’re already doing an excellent job of subverting us. Is it such a bad thing though? After all, if we as a species are ever to travel to the stars, we’re gong to have to rely on technology. Flapping our arms has proved fut-

Wait, what was I talking about again?

U-Recken can’t go eight bars without throwing in some random, superfluous sound effect or sample. It’s like, “Can’t have a moment’s breath; this is psy trance, and we gotta keep this baby chaotic!” Frankly, I tuned out most of these inconsequential fills very quickly, and primarily focused on the meat of the tracks. Of this meat, there’s some good and some bad, but de-

Wait, what was I talking about again?

Since all energy transfers from one state to another, where does the left-over energy generated by our body go when we die? I can see it slowly fading away as we get older, but what about quick deaths, like a bullet to the head? Our body is generating energy as always right up to that point (sometimes even more if adrenaline’s surging through your body), and I highly doubt a penetrating bullet sucks it all up. Is this why some people twitch after they die, as a means of releasing residual energy stored in the body? Or might it be that energy is what gives us our conscious thought, and when we die, that conscious thought moves on into other forms? Frankly, I’m too scared to find out for my-

Wait, what was I talking about again?

When U-Recken settles things down toward the latter half of Aquatic Serenade, the tracks start to show some tighter musicianship of which was lacking in the first half (opening track notwithstanding). Songs like The Other Side and Misery hold a definite themes together - even if the melodies aren’t always synced, at least the general atmosphere is. Normally, a melancholy mood is felt as we head into the final stretch of this album, which makes for an interesting contrast given full-on’s typical gung-ho approach. The self-titled downtempo closer to Aquatic Serenade is quite nice as well, ending on a gorgeous bit of singing from Slay (nope, don’t know who that is either).

Generally, Yaniv displays an interesting take with full-on. It’s a blessing and a curse though, as he creates some nice melodies and hooks but without the focus needed to make them enduring. You get the impression he has tons of smart ideas floating around in his head, and let them all out in a big burst of driving rhythms. With luck, his next offering will show more restraint. It’s already apparent in the latter half of Aquatic Serenade, so we know he has it within him.

Anyhow, time to raid the fridge.

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Pitch Black - Ape To Angel (Original TC Review)

Kog Transmissions/Waveform Records: 2004/2005

(2019 Update:
I fear I overplayed this when I first got it. I wouldn't say it was a revelation or something so daft, but man, did it ever hit the sweet spot in releasing those fussy pleasure endorphins, music that I needed at a most opportune time in my life. I sadly haven't gone back to it much this past decade though, so much of it now burned in my brain that I just have to think of it and the whole thing plays out in a rapid flash within my mind. I don't like that. I yearn for the lost anticipation of hearing it fresh and new again, but such a time is gone, gone, gone. Maybe I can take a spoon and scoop out wherever the
Ape To Angel memories are stored.

Or perhaps it'd be better if I just scope out some more of Pitch Black's music. They've certainly kept active to this day, and apparently even resisted the temptation to jump on the dubstep bandwagon like a lot of unique, groovy psy-dub festival mainstays did. Guess that's more Bandcamping in store for me...)



IN BRIEF: This release coulda been 'electronica'.

“Oh great,” you say. “Here go these TranceCritic writers again, willfully reviewing obscure material and giving it high scores just because it’s underground.”

With that, I’m sure I’ve put a chunk of our readers on the defensive. Don’t play coy. I know there’s a good deal of you out there who figure because we don’t shower certain DJs and producers with unconditional praise, we’re nothing more than elitist music snobs. Of course, such folk rarely see the nice things we have said about said DJs and producers, as it tends to only be the negative that sticks in their mind.

However, it is true we sometimes dig deep into uncharted music territory, where more often than not we come across electronic gold to share with our readers. Such is the allure of the hunt for dedicated music collectors, spending countless hours and funds in the pursuit of those unheralded artifacts.

Our excursions have now taken us to a land most don’t regularly associate electronic music with: New Zealand. The island nation is more known for its Maori heritage, kiwi fruits, and, more recently, the spiritual home of Middle Earth. But an EDM scene? It hardly registers - the lack of any globally recognized names doesn’t help. Fortunately, this lack of worldwide notice hasn’t stopped Zealanders from pursing their interests into the realm of digital dance music.

Production duo Paddy Free and Michael Hodgson have quietly built up a name for themselves over the years, and the dedication to their craft has begun to yield some notice in other corners of the world. Reason is their music has reached a stage where they’re at one with their sound - dubby psychedelia - and aren’t afraid to export it to other styles. There’s a cool confidence in their work, a trait that was quite common in the big ‘electronica’ acts of the 90s like Underworld and Leftfield.

Hmn. Suddenly I have the suspicion this room just got a lot emptier. Was it perhaps that ‘psychedelic dub’ tag that caused the less adventurous to flee? If so, it’s their loss, as Pitch Black’s sound encompasses far more: psy dub is merely a starting reference. Free and Hodgson show an affinity for the cavernous sounds echo, delay and reverb effects can create, but they don’t get caught up in the novelty of it like some dub producers do; providing texture is their main goal with the sound. As for the psychedelic part, it too doesn’t get bogged down with over-indulgence. There’s some loose arrangements and some squiggly sounds, but none of which are a track’s focus.

Still, when Pitch Black does indulge in psy dub, they fire on all cylinders. The titular opener, Flex, the jazzier Freefall, and the ambientish Empty Spaces lazily groove along with dubby effects tingling at your mind. And in case rhythms and effects aren’t enough for your head to chew on, your attention will easily be drawn to the warm melodies bubbling just beneath the surface.

Elsewhere on Ape To Angel, the duo have fun fusing reggae harmonies, techno soundscapes, and brisk breakbeats into their dubbed-out delights. Melt is a little more traditional for this kind of sound, but Lost In Translation’s funky freewheeling and chip-choppy vocal sampling will definitely get your body movin’. And if that’s not enough for you, the gradual build of easy-going grooves to near d’n’b speeds of The Random Smiler should satisfy even the most suspicious of this reviewer’s praise. But wait, there’s more!

Far from content to stick to these styles, Pitch Black tackle techno head-on in Big Trouble Upstairs. This is the kind of track you wouldn’t find too out of place in a WipEout soundtrack, using subtly layered rhythms, burbling acid, and moody future soundscapes to bring the energy up in ever gradual increments. It’s definitely a different kind of track on this album, especially considering the generally psychedelic chill vibe that permeates the proceedings. Yet, it maintains the duo’s style, and shows how adept they are at this electronic music thing.

But wait, there’s still more!

Forget all that talk about psy and dub and techno and breakbeats. Pitch Black throw in a spacey bit of acid jazz with the track Elements Turn, including full lyrics provided by Sandy Mill (her voice is also used in Freefall, but only for a few repeated words). Were it not for some of this duo’s dubby sound lightly lurking in the background, Elements Turn could easily fit snugly in a Kruder & Dorfmeister-styled set. Hell, it still could, should such DJs feel a little adventurous in their track selection.

A diverse album? Ape To Angel certainly is that. Even if the general mood tends to remain consistent, Pitch Black have no trouble flirting with other styles, keeping the variety on this full-length fresh as it plays through. Many acts often attempt this, but all too often sound like they are merely checking off a list of types of tracks they should have - even more often for the sole reason of trying to distribute their material to other genre scenes they don’t normally associate with. However, because Free and Hodgson aren’t really a part of any predetermined scene, they don’t feel inhibited by what is expected of them, which allows them to produce the music they desire. As a result, the songs on here are strong and fearless, and shouldn’t be missed by anyone who fancies themselves a fan of electronic music.

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

Monday, February 11, 2019

Bandulu - Antimatters

Infonet: 1994

And thus, I've completed my Bandulu albums collection! Except Black Mass, the LP that launched their short-lived Foundation Sound Works print, but that was only on vinyl, a format I must resist to my dying days (I ...must). I guess there's also technically New Foundation, though at a mere five tracks long, more an EP. Maybe someday, the lads behind Bandulu will reconvene to release their stuff via Bandcamp, though with their music on so many different labels, getting all their rights back might prove tricky. Plus, if I'm really jonesing for some more Bandulu product, I could always check out that Sons Of The Subway side-project they did. Ooh, that's a tidy little price on the Discogs market there. (I'm so weak ...oh God, I'm so weak!)

So I've finally come to Antimatters, the album that, if things had played out normally, should have been the first Bandulu CD I got. It has the lone tune I was familiar with, after all, the sublimely spacious ambient dub of Run Run (that reverb! D'at bassline!). I wonder what Teenage Sykonee would have thought of the album though, had he been fortuitous in finding it way back when. Was he ready to hear roots techno of this sort? For sure I was stunned to hear it on that Millennium Records Ambient Dub compilation that had it instead of ambient dub. A similar scenario could have happened here, me going in expecting ambient dub, and not getting it at all. Ah, I'd probably have been more forgiving, since I'd have been tickled pink over even finding a Bandulu CD at all. You've no idea how many patient years I've waited to see them all come down to affordable prices in the Amazon market.

Right, enough blog-blather about my music consumption practices. How is Bandulu's Antimatters, their sophomore follow-up to the well regarded debut? Definitely different, the aforementioned nods to reggae dub far more prominent than before. Guidance had the dub vibes going too, but there was more adherence to the UK's take on Detroit techno and Afro-fusion there. But here, what can you expect from an album opening with a track called Agent Jah?

There's also more explorations of ambient techno, and not just with Run Run. High Rise Heaven gets in on a little Artificial Intelligence action of its own, Phaze In is over ten-minutes of shimmering, cascading synths, with nary a rhythm in earshot. Industrial Orchestra sounds like Bandulu took field-recordings of a busy transit centre, then looped and over-dubbed them for a two-minute jaunty. And let's not overlook experimental interlude doodles scattered about. Oh, you already did, because they're so short.

That's fine. We still get plenty of techno bangers too. Whether the roots influenced stuff (Agent Jah, Original Scientist) or thumping minimalist numbers (Close Ups, Presence, Downstairs Somewhere), Antimatters has a little something for everyone. Why, I'd even say this is Bandulu album you're supposed to have, even if you're not a Bandulu fan.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Paul Oakenfold - Perfecto Presents Another World

Thrive Records: 2000

Rinsing out another clutch of trance anthems wasn't exciting anymore. Everyone was doing it, CDs of the stuff flooding the shelves of all your major retailers. No, to stand out from an over-saturated market, you had to get conceptual in your mixes, add a unique spin on your art of spin.

This was no doubt running through Oakenfold's head as his brand had reached near global peak. Yes, he was the highest paid DJ in the world, but those two lads, Sasha & Digweed, kept getting the highest critical praises. How could it be, Paul had to wonder, why they were seen as light years ahead of him? They'd both had DJ mixes out on superclub tie-ins (Renaissance, Cream), both had entries in the Global Underground series. Surely they were on the same level, right? No, because Sasha & Diggers still had the critically lauded conceptual Northern Exposure series, and Oakenfold had no such items to his brand, nor could he, Paul's skill as a DJ incapable of such immaculate sets. What do?

Do a conceptual mix his way, is what. People laugh at your mixing abilities? Then make a mix where mixing isn't a main focus at all, just track selection. And of those tracks, make sure you get some upfront tunes premiered, like Max Graham's Airtight, or Quiver's rub of Led Zeppelin's Babe I'm Gonna Leave You. Plus, folks seemed to love that Silence track on Northern Exposure: Expeditions, so include that too, but with a fresh remix from that new hotness Dutch guy named Tiësto. Finally, do something no one was doing in their commercial DJ mixes, and include transitional pieces featuring music from Bladerunner, Dead Can Dance, and that recent Al Pacino and Russell Crowe flick! Top that, Misters Coe and Digweed! Oh, c'mon, pay attention to me! I tried this time, really I did! There's even a long blend with Timo Maas' Ubik and L.S.G.'s Into Deep - surely enough for proper prog-props.

Actually, that's something that strikes me about Another World, just how much of the 'dark prog' sound is in this. Yeah, Oakenfold can't help himself in having some of them also feature operatic vocals or Balearic vibes, but tell me tunes like Skope's Back And Front or Lost It.Com's Animal couldn't fit in a Bedrock set too. And ooh, there's some proggy-breaks action in Brancaccio & Asher's Darker. Yeah, having pieces like The Host Of The Seraphim and Tears In The Rain may be obvious to connoisseurs of such music, but ain't no one playing them in 'radio sets' like Another World; and I quite like Lisa Gerrard's Sacrifice, thank you very much.

Frankly, I like a lot of this set, even the cheesier moments like Jan Johnston's Flesh and the silly 'interviews' praising Oakenfold. The music's top-notch throughout, while Oakenfold's weaknesses are played as strengths in his track arrangement. For a brief moment here, he finally seemed on par with the critical darlings of progressive trance. It was mostly downward after.

Friday, February 8, 2019

KMFDM - Angst

TVT Records/Metropolis: 1993/2006

I've decided the best way to experience KMFDM's discography is to jump back and forth from their critical peak Nihil. Or forth-and-back, in this case. I do this because, well, why not? Most often folks will do the chronological dive into a discography, or the 'best reviewed' descent. Why not change that up a little? Sure, I'm technically also starting from the band's agreed-upon pinnacle, but how about I spread out my exploration like an expanding glacier? Simultaneously discover where KMFDM went from Nihil while also learning of their growth. At the very least, it's a different way of doing this.

Thus I've come to Angst, KMFDM's seventh album and regarded as a major turning point in the band's history. Wait, doesn't every one of their albums leading up to this one have that claim as well? Rephrasing: the final step in a lengthy staircase of musical evolution. This was where the heavy industrial rock that marked much of their '90s output fully solidified, getting them noticed by all the metal heads who never really jived with the electronic side of industrial before. Just throw some screeching guitar shredding in there, and the long-hairs will feel right at home with the rivetheads. Also, make sure you let it be known that, despite coming from Germany, you're currently residing in Seattle – the instant credibility of the city made it the '00s Montreal of early '90s rock, or something.

Weirdly, I don't have much to say about Angst. For sure the guitar licks are a hoot, and apparently the band became so enamoured using them that they'd bring multiple guitarists on stage during the tour. Unfortunately, KMFDM don't quite sound at the level I'm most familiar with, the production still a tad flat and basic compared to Nihil and Xtort. Which shouldn't be unexpected, since this is an earlier album than those. And I'm sure when I finally deep dive into KMFDM's actual early, under-produced work, this will sound light years ahead of the game. Whatever, tunes like A Drug Against War and A Hole In The Wall shreds with the best of industrial thrash, and what metal lover wouldn't get tingly feels over the solos in Move On? This is a guitar album above all else, the backing drum tracks and lyrics secondary to the glory of the ol' six-stringer.

Oh yeah, I guess that's another thing that's kinda' lacked for me on Angst, the lyrics. Most of it revolves around the same ol' industrial tropes of evil overlords, fighting revolutions, and the like, but played seriously almost to a fault, lacking the sense of fun other KMFDM songs have. About the only tunes that lyrically stood out for me was anything Dorona Alberti sings on, 'cause that gal's got some pipes, and really shines on The Problem. Then there's Sucks, KMFDM basically having a jolly ol' pisstake at their own expense, including such nuggets of comedy gold as name-dropping some of the artists their acronym supposedly hates. I LOL'd.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Motorbass - Pansoul

Motorbass: 1996

(a Patreon Request from Omskbird)

There's folks that claim without Motorbass, there'd be no Daft Punk, or even a French house scene vital enough for Daft Punk to have succeeded. Bollybark is what I say to such claims, though it's undeniable that Monsieurs Cerboneschi and de Crécy got a good head start on most in the lands of francophone. How can someone not hear the old UMM cut Home and think, “yeah, that's some fine French action right there and wha...? 1993??”

Yet while the chaps behind Motorbass would go onto bigger things in separate projects (Ceroneschi as part of Cassius; de Crécy's own solo output), their Motorbass material didn't get much notice outside their homeland. It was Daft Punk's success that had everyone digging through France's back-catalogue of house releases, after which some realized that hey, there was more going on around Paris clubs than most realized. There's a reason why their lone album Pansoul became hailed one of the best “lost albums” by NME, and “the most important album in French house” by Spin. Magazines love proclaiming something earlier and comparatively 'underground' such things. Still, those are indie rock rags, and what do they know? It's not like Muzik Magazine was bigging this album up (did they? I can't find it in the .pdf archives; lots of Daft Punk love tho').

Now, I did come to know of Pansoul's existence, mostly thanks to the slew of reissues in 2003 (Virgin and Astralwerks got in on that action). Of course, I didn't buy the album, but with all that hype of it being some long-lost precursor to Daft Punk's success, my curiosity was indeed piqued. And what I heard was indeed house music with a French slant, but hardly the ultra-filtered sample 'n loop stuff that came to define it (somewhere, DJ Sneak once again angrily shakes a fist). Except Les Ondes and Wan Dance anyway, which does the filter funk better than many that came later.

Coming back to this over fifteen years later and without those stupid expectations the re-issue hype sullied me with, I hear Pansoul as less a landmark French house album, but rather a house record that finds itself on the crossroads of what house music was doing in the '90s. There's unmistakable influence from the Masters At Work bump-n-grind vibe (Flying Fingers, Pariscyde, Bad Vibes), plus the dubby cinematic European soul that marked much of that continent's forays into deep house (Ezio, Neptune, Genius). Throw in an obligatory trip-hop opener with Fabulous, and you'd think the Nineties-ness of Pansoul is complete.

Yet it doesn't really sound stuck in that decade either. By not necessarily adhering to any given trend, nor catapulting a burgeoning one as their French countrymen did, Motorbass released an album that stands unique and apart, a melting-pot of what was and was to come. It's the sort of record you'd expect released after all the dust had settled, not before. Which it did, once the reissues kicked in. Crafty marketing, that.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Modeselektor - Hello Mom!

BPitch Control: 2005

(a Patreon Request)

T'was neigh impossible missing out on Modeselektor throughout the '00s, if anything because of their unique logo. By the time they established their own Monkeytown Records print, you couldn't go anywhere within German tech-house circles without stumbling upon some variation of it. Then they teamed with Apparat to form Moderat, and hoo, were the tech-haus press ever a'twitter over it. They've actually kept that group together ever since as their creative output, Modeselektor receding to the background of DJing and label management. It all had to start somewhere though, so let's go back to beginnings of the Modeselektor empire, all the way back in ...1996? Whoa, too far back! Better at least fast forward to the current millennium, when Misters Bronsert and Szary actually started releasing music under the guise.

So the lads Gernot and Sebastian got chummy with Berlin tastemaker Ellen Allien, whom in a city filled with so-called tastemakers, actually does make hay with her taste. They signed to her BPitch Control print and released a few EPs of left-leaning IDM wonk techno and electro, even getting in on that trendy micro-glitch stuff. Not much of which would have any commercial appeal, is what I'm saying, so the fact they seemed to settle down on the experimentation leading up to this debut album must have had their long-standing fans concerned. Or maybe not, eager to finally hear Modeselektor bust out some club-friendly jams.

I don't know if they expected 'euro-crunk' though, as the Mode-boys likened their opening few tunes off Hello Mom! It sure ain't American crunk; more like 'glitch-grime', but hey, can't let those Brits think you're style-bitin' for a minute. So tracks like Dancingbox, Silikon and Fake Emotion cut up and glitch up their beats and vocals in a super-micro sort of way. Some other tunes are clearly in line with what German clubbers were flailing about to (before the ketamine kicked in), Tetrispack a jolly bouncy electro-house ditty and Kill Bill Vol. 4 reminding you that Alter Ego's Rocker was barely a year old still.

Then there's the IDM stuff. Oh lordy, is there every IDM stuff, sounding as though it's coming from an entirely different album than one with the above tunes. Vote Or Die is the one you all know, a lovely ambient-electro ditty that needed more compilation shine than just James Zabiela's Renaissance set (the great one!). And how can you not adore the retro-Aphex vibes of Ziq Zaq? Or the gothic electro-funk of The Rapanthem? Or the crunchy organ shuffle-crunch of In Loving Memory? Or the Artificial Intelligence techno bliss of I Love You?

Oh, it's because you just wanted more Kill Bill Vol. 4s? Don't worry, mang, there will be plenty of such tunes in the half-decade following this album, though not from Modeselektor. I think. I dunno', I haven't listened to all their output yet. If it's more the middle of Hello Mom! than the outer portions of the album (save closer I Love You), count me intrigued.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Sakanaction - Documentaly

Victor Entertainment: 2011

(a Patreon Request from Philoi)

I've mentioned plenty my enjoyment of 'foreign speaking' music is typically at a surface level. Like, I'll dig a French rapper riding a beat just as much as any Jamaican toaster, even if I don't have much clue of what either are saying (and one of them raps in English! ...kinda'). And as I've sifted through various Japanese indie and pop singers, so too have I come to at least appreciate their singing cadence in relation to the music, if not so much the lyrical content. Not that I really had much to dig through anyway, most topics dealing with the same things much of Western music does (love, reflections, historical figures). This Documentaly though, this one I was informed that it was imperative that I not only check out the lyrics involved, but also how they came about. Great, homework. Whatever happened to just feelin' the music? Ack, no, must... resist... jazz... snobbery!

Sakanaction is a five piece rock band that incorporates electronic elements, seeing their star shine ever brighter as the years went on. For the past decade, their singles and albums have consistently lay within the Japanese Top 10, with the self-titled fifth one finally hitting that always coveted number one spot. Sakanaction's previous two albums come close though, and as is so often the case with indie bands with humble roots, that increased fame and fortune started weighing on the members' minds, especially so lead singer Ichiro Yamaguchi.

The first half of Documentaly features songs with titles like Identity, Monochrome Tokyo, and Mask Town, and without even reading the lyrics, I can already tell they deal with the desaturated existence of celebrity, where coming into contact with so many faces causes a disconnect with your fellow person, humanity bleeding into a mass of near-nothingness. Heck, one just has to live in a large city to feel that, passing by countless people without knowing or caring who they are. Even some of the attempts at connectivity (Rookie and Anteres To Hari) are met with self-doubt and loneliness. Still, all this doesn't distract from the musical content, mostly peppy indie rock and dance-pop tunes (damn, some of those synths are mint).

Then the album takes a startling turn. There's a curious moment of silence at the mid-way mark, a somber, slower shoegaze jam with minimal lyrics following (Streamline Wave). The following tracks are mostly humbler in tone too, with titles more abstract. I thought it an interesting change of tone, but when I did the background research, it all became far more poignant.

For you see, this album was made at the same time as the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, an event so disastrous, Yamaguchi suddenly felt his songs about personal isolation were no longer so poignant. The back-half of Documentaly touches upon these topics less directly than the material in the first half, but man, one can't help but feel the empathy coming from these guys as they hope their countrymen can rebuild from nature's indifferent destruction.

Friday, February 1, 2019

ACE TRACKS: January 2019

Bandcamp has turned into one hell of a drug. There I go, browsing Discogs for artist information, and notice there's a Bandcamp link. I follow that link, and lo', said artist not only has a few items for sale, but shares a label with similar artists. But oh no, it looks like some albums have already sold out, and if I'm not swift, I may miss out on some of these other items that look so appetizing. I better buy a bunch of them, even if there isn't a bulk-buy discount; helps with the shipping cost over time, right? And wouldn't you know it, I get automatically added to a mailing list, thus consistently informing me when another hit of new music becomes available. How handy, reminding me so I don't subconsciously forget.

I swear though, because of Bandcamp, my music collection has ballooned to a size it never would have even if local music shops still existed. For sure the 'ease of access' factor plays into that, but not even my Amazon binges yielded such a bounty of music as Bandcamp has. I typically use Amazon to get things I specifically want, whereas Bandcamp has served as an exploratory resource, discovery artists and labels I wouldn't have otherwise, except for those times I randomly browsed a traditional store (say, A&B Sound, Virgin Megastore, or HMV). It's this perfect combo of A&B Sound and Amazon that Bandcamp has become for yours truly, providing an insidious, insatiable hit of music consuming endorphins that... well, hasn't made me broke or anything. Sure have difficulty exercising self-control though. With that sobering thought, here's the ACE TRACKS of January 2019.


Full track list here.


MISSING ALBUMS:
Alter Ego - Alter Ego
Aira Mitsuki - C.O.P.Y.
Tiga - American Gigolo
The Oak Ridge Boys - American Harmony
Loop Guru - Amrita (...All These And The Japanese Soup Warriors)
Divination - Ambient Dub, Volume II: Dead Slow
Various - Ambient Auras: Diverse Dimensions In Ambient Dub
Various - Ambient Dub: Futuristic Techno Dub & Electronic Roots
Various - Ambient Dub Volume 1: The Big Chill
Various - Ambient Dub Volume 2: Earthjuice
Various - Ambient Dub Volume 3: Aqua
Various - Ambient Ibiza

Percentage Of Hip-Hop: 14%
Percentage Of Rock: 0%
Most “WTF?” Track: Bogdan Raczynski or Death Grips, whichever catches you off guard first.

Whoa, been a while since I had one of these playlists, where half the stuff I covered isn't on Spotify. Not that I'm surprised, quite a bit of this coming from the early '90s, and existing in legal limbo as original labels have long since folded. And to be fair, some of the big hits from these albums have also appeared on other Ace Tracks playlists (ie: the electroclash hits as found on American Gigolo), so it'd be redundant of me to re-include them here. No, let's stick to the jams I haven't added to my Spotify library yet.

With so few tunes to work with, I played around the track order some, creating more a proper flowing listening experience rather than a lazy alphabetical order. Well, no, not really. I just felt like hearing three Alrights in a row was too silly.

Things I've Talked About

...txt 10 Records 16 Bit Lolita's 1963 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2 Play Records 2 Unlimited 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 20xx Update 2562 3 Loop Music 302 Acid 36 3FORCE 3six Recordings 4AD 6 x 6 Records 75 Ark 7L & Esoteric 808 State A Perfect Circle A Positive Life A-Wave A&M Records A&R Records Abandoned Communities Abasi Above and Beyond abstract Ace Trace Ace Tracks Playlists Ace Ventura acid acid house acid jazz acid techno acoustic Acroplane Recordings Adam Freeland Adham Shaikh ADNY Adrian Younge adult contemporary Advanced UFO Phantom Aegri Somnia Aes Dana Afrika Bambaataa Afro-house Afterhours Agoria Aidan Casserly Aira Mitsuki Ajana Records Ajna AK1200 Akshan album Aldrin Alex Smoke Alex Theory Alice In Chains Alien Project Alio Die All Saints Alphabet Zoo Alphaxone Altar Records Alter Ego alternative rock Alucidnation Ambelion Ambidextrous ambient ambient dub ambient techno Ambient World Ambientium Ametsub Amon Tobin Amplexus Anabolic Frolic Anatolya Andrea Parker Andrew Heath Androcell Andy C anecdotes Aniplex Anjunabeats 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 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 Cube Guys Culture Beat Curb Records Current Curve cut'n'paste Cyan Music Cyber Productions CyberOctave Cyclic Law Cygna Cyril Secq Czarface D-Bridge D-Fuse D-Topia Entertainment Dacru Records Daddy G Daft Punk Dag Rosenqvist Damian Lazarus Damon Albarn Dan The Automator Dance 2 Trance Dance Pool dancehall Daniel Heatcliff Daniel Lentz Daniel Wanrooy Dao Da Noize dark ambient dark psy darkcore darkside darkstep darkwave Darla Records Darren McClure Darren Nye DAT Records Databloem dataObscura David Alvarado David Bickley David Guetta David Morley DDR Dead 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 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 Jam and Spoon Jam El Mar James Blake James Horner James Murray James Zabiela Jamie Jones Jamie Myerson Jamie Principle Jamiroquai Javelin Ltd. Jay Haze Jay Tripwire Jaydee jazz jazz dance jazzdance jazzstep Jean-Michel Jarre Jefferson Airplane Jerry Goldsmith Jesper Dahlbäck Jiri.Ceiver Jive Jive Electro Jliat Jlin Joel Mull Joey Beltram John '00' Fleming John Acquaviva John Beltran John Digweed John Graham John Kelly John O'Callaghan John Oswald John Shima Johnny Cash Johnny Jewel Jonny L Jori Hulkkonen Jørn Stenzel Josh Wink Journeys By DJ™ LLC Joyful Noise Recordings Juan Atkins juke Jump Cut jump up Jumpin' & Pumpin' jungle Junior Boy's Own Junkie XL Juno Reactor Jurassic 5 Kaico Kay Wilder KDJ Ken Ishii Kenji Kawai Kenny Glasgow Keoki Keosz Kerri Chandler Kevin Braheny Kevin Yost Kevorkian Records Khooman Khruangbin Ki/oon Kid Koala Kiko Kinetic Records King Cannibal King Midas Sound King Tubby Kitaro Klang Elektronik Klaus Schulze Klik Records KMFDM Koch Records Koichi Sugiyama Kolhoosi 13 Komakino Kompakt Kon Kan Kool Keith Kozo Kraftwelt Kraftwerk Krafty Kuts krautrock Kriistal Ann Krill.Minima Kris O'Neil Kriztal KRS-One Kruder and Dorfmeister Krusseldorf Kubinski KuckKuck Kulor Kurupt Kwook L.B. Dub Corp L.S.G. L'usine Lab 4 Ladytron LaFace Records Lafleche Lange Large Records Lars Leonhard Laserlight Digital LateNightTales Latin Laurent Garnier LCD Soundsystem Leama and Moor Lee 'Scratch' Perry Lee Norris Leftfield Legacy Legiac Legowelt Leon Bolier Les Disques Du Crépuscule LFO Linear Labs Lingua Lustra liquid funk Liquid Sound Design Liquid Stranger Liquid Zen Live live album LL Cool J Loco Dice Lodsb London acid crew London Classics London Elektricity London Records 90 Ltd London-Sire Records Loop Guru Loreena McKennitt Lorenzo Masotto Lorenzo Montanà Lost Language Lotek Records Loud Records Louderbach Loverboy Luaka Bop Luciano Luke Slater Lustmord M_nus M.A.N.D.Y. M.I.K.E. Madonna Magda Magik Muzik Mahiane Mali Mammoth Records Mantacoup Marc Simz Marcel Dettmann Marco Carola Marco V Marcus Intalex Mark Farina Mark Norman Mark Pritchard Markus Schulz Marshmello Martin Cooper Martin Nonstatic Märtini Brös Marvin Gaye Maschine Massive Attack Masta Killa Matthew Dear Max Graham maximal Maxx MCA Records McProg Meanwhile Meat Loaf Meditronica Memex Menno de Jong Mercury Mesmobeat metal Method Man Metroplex Metropolis MF Doom Miami Bass Miami Beach Force Miami Dub Machine Michael Brook Michael Jackson Michael Mantra Michael Mayer Mick Chillage micro-house microfunk Microscopics MIG Miguel Migs Mike Saint-Jules Mike Shiver Miktek Mille Plateaux Millennium Records Mind Distortion System Mind Over MIDI mini-CDs minimal minimal tech-house Ministry Of Sound miscellaneous Misja Helsloot Miss Kittin Miss Moneypenny's Mistical Mixmag Mo Wax Mo-Do MO-DU Moby Model 500 modern classical Modeselektor Moist Music Moodymann Moonshine Morgan Moss Garden Motech Motorbass Moving Shadow Mujaji Murk Murmur Mushy Records Music link Music Man Records musique concrete Mutant Sound System Mute MUX Muzik Magazine My Best Friend Mystery Tape Laboratory Mystica Tribe Mystified N-Trance Nacht Plank Nadia Ali Nas Nashville Natural Midi Nature Sounds Naughty By Nature Nebula Neil Young Neon Droid Neotropic nerdcore Nervous Records Nettwerk Neurobiotic Records New Age New Beat New Jack Swing new wave Nic Fanciulli Nick Höppner Night Time Stories Nightwind Records Nimanty Nine Inch Nails Ninja Tune Nirvana nizmusic No Mask Effect Nobuo Uematsu noise Nomad Nonesuch Nonplus Records Nookie Nordic Trax Norman Feller North South Northumbria Not Now Music Nothing Records Nova NovaMute NRG Ntone nu-italo nu-jazz nu-skool Nuclear Blast Entertainment Nulll Nunc Stans Nurse With Wound NXP Oasis Octagen Offshoot Offshoot Records Ol' Dirty Bastard Olan Mill Old Europa Cafe old school rave Ole Højer Hansen Olga Musik Olien Oliver Lieb Olsen OM Records Omni Trio Omnimotion Omnisonus One Little Indian Oophoi Oosh Open Canvas Opium Opus III orchestral Original TranceCritic review Origo Sound Orkidea Orla Wren Ornament Ostgut Ton Ott Ottsonic Music Ouragan Out Of The Box OutKast Outpost Records Overdream P-Ben Paleowolf Pan Sonic Pantera Pantha Du Prince Paolo Mojo Parlaphone Patreon Paul Moelands Paul Oakenfold Paul van Dyk Pendulum Perfect Stranger Perfecto Perturbator Pet Shop Boys Petar Dundov Pete Namlook Pete Tong Peter Andersson Peter Benisch Peter Broderick Peter Gabriel Peter Tosh Phonothek Photek Phutureprimitive Phynn PIAS Recordings Pinch Pink Floyd Pitch Black PJ Harvey Plaid Planet Dog Planet Earth Recordings Planet Mu Planetary Assault Systems Planetary Consciousness Plastic City Plastikman Platinum Platipus Pleq Plump DJs Plunderphonic Plus 8 Records PM Dawn Poker Flat Recordings Pole Folder politics Polydor Polytel pop Popular Records Porya Hatami post-dubstep power electronics Prince Prince Paul Prins Thomas Priority Records Profondita prog prog psy prog-psy Progression progressive breaks progressive house progressive rock progressive trance Prolifica Proper Records Prototype Recordings protoU Pryda psy chill psy dub Psy Spy Records psy trance psy-chill psychedelia Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia Psychomanteum Psychonavigation Psychonavigation Records Psycoholic Psykosonik Psysolation Public Enemy punk punk rock Pureuphoria Records Purl Purple Soil Push PWL International Quadrophonia Quality Quango Quantum Quinlan Road R & S Records R'n'B R&B Rabbit In The Moon Radio Slave Radioactive Radioactive Man Radiohead Rae Raekwon ragga Rainbow Vector raison d'etre Ralph Lawson RAM Records Randal Collier-Ford Random Review Rank 1 rant Rapoon RareNoise Records Ras Command Rascalz Raster-Noton Ratatat Raum Records RCA React Red Jerry Refracted reggae remixes Renaissance Renaissance Man Rephlex Reprise Records Resist Music Restless Records RetroSynther Reverse Alignment Rhino Records Rhys Fulber Ricardo Villalobos Richard Durand Riley Reinhold Rising High Records RnB Roadrunner Records Robert Hood Robert Miles Robert Oleysyck Roc Raida rock rock opera rockabilly rocktronica Roger Sanchez ROIR Rollo Rough Trade Rub-N-Tug Ruben Garcia Rumour Records Running Back Ruthless Records RZA S.E.T.I. 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