techno

Going to Symbiosis Re:Union?! Here’s a crash course for the Lineup this year.

Planning on hitting Symbiosis 10 Year Anniversary this September?!  You’ve absolutely made the right decision.  After almost 16 years of events under my belt in the realm of the electronic music festival world here on the Left Coast, I have constantly said now for years that Symbiosis is by far, THE BEST, hands down, no questions asked.  The venues they choose, the attention to detail in production, the crowd they draw, the incredibley diverse lineup, and more make this your one festival to never miss when they actually decide to throw one.  It’s usually once every two years with a one back to back occurrence in 2012/2013.

Due to the fact that their lineups are so massive and diverse, you may not know who or what it is you’re looking at exactly when it comes to these artists.  That is why I am here today.  Here is my Official Crash Course to the Symbiosis 2015 Lineup:

:: ABSOLUTELY NOT TO BE MISSED ::

Nicolas Jaar (DJ Set)
http://www.nicolasjaar.net/

If you don’t know who Nicolas Jaar is at this point, you’ve obviously been on another planet for the past few years.  Since about 2011 Nico has made an incredible dent in the more mature and jazz influenced side of electronica.  Literally everything he touches is gold, and thankfully, he just started his own imprint, Other People, to further the exploration into the world of his tastes.  On Other People you can also find artists like Valentin StipDarkside, and other classy acts.  His live show I saw a few years back was nothing short of amazing, and as much as I’m not usually into DJ Sets from prolific producers, Nico should bring it proper as this year’s main headliner.

CocoRosie
http://cocorosiemusic.com/
https://soundcloud.com/larealcocorosie

Ahhh yes, the two beautiful lovely ladies that make up the Indie Folktronica group CocoRosie.  I was turned onto these lovelies around 2009 and dabbled a bit into their music with a girlfriend at the time.  They ended up passing through Seattle and I bought us tickets to go.  Suffice to say, that show made me a firm believer.  What really caught me was how incredibly unique and avant-garde their whole performance was – I’d never seen or heard anything like it.  They had a whole table with an array of children’s toys, plastic music boxes, and more that were implemented into almost every song played.  These beauties are not to be missed!

Tipper
http://tippermusic.net/
https://soundcloud.com/tippermusic

Dave Tipper.  The man who is almost solely responsible for the squelching Left Coast bass music sound.  A god amongst music producers.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have watched Dave play back in his humble beginnings right after he moved to Seattle in 2003 or so.  From the moment I saw him scratching with a CDJ over his own live beats, I knew something special had just landed on the West Coast.  Over the past 15 years now Tipper has released countless EP’s, a few LP’s, a surround sound masterpiece, and most recently kicked a heart bypass surgery in the ass!  Thank the gods Dave is still with us.  If you want to see this man in his absolute element, do not miss EITHER of his sets here at Symbiosis this year.  His downtempoish set during the eclipse at the 2012 Pyramid Lake Symbiosis was and still is in my Top 10 dance-at-a-festival moments EVER.

Four Tet
http://www.fourtet.net/

Kieren Hebden is one of my favorite musicians.  Ever.  The man has attributed to some of my very favorite songs, that have been on repeat now for fifteen years!  We’ve seen Kieren’s Four Tet moniker go from 99’s ‘Dialogue‘ minimal electronic jazzfest to 2005’s quirky downtempo IDM filled ‘Everything Ecstatic‘ to teaming up with Burial in 2009 for some of the sexiest slow techno ever to 2010’s gorgeous slow house love fest on ‘There Is Love In You‘ only to end up here in 2015 where he just released ‘Morning/Evening‘, two twenty minute long Hindu chanting micro-house ambient opuses.  Oh yah, in 2011 he did some work with Thom Yorke as well.  Basically the man is a genius, and makes amazing music.  Constantly.  I’ve seen Four Tet now a handful of times, and depending on what style of set he’s booked for (Live vs DJ), the level of awesome can vary.  That said, you’ll still more than likely see me in front of the stage when he plays!

Sylvan Esso
http://www.sylvanesso.com/

I was just recently turned onto Sylvan Esso through my What.CD geekings.  They’re straight up in this whole new wave of Hipster Folktronica, and I absolutely love it.  Don’t know too much else about them except that their LP debut from last year is a must hear.  Be careful, it may be on repeat in your room soon!

Ibeyi
http://www.ibeyi.fr/

So I just looked up these 19 year old twin beauties today.  Instantly fell in love.  If you liked the Sylvan Esso vibe above, you’ll definitely dig Ibeyi’s Afro-Cuban take on Hipster Folktronica.  I’ll definitely be trying to catch these ladies at Symbi.

The Acid
http://wearetheacid.com/

https://soundcloud.com/the-acid-sounds

Like the past few projects mentioned here, The Acid I just recently discovered.  Leaning on the Hipstertronic side of things, they are in that same vibe minus the Folk aspects.  You could almost call it ambient lyrical moody house/techno…or something.  Regardless, I just listened to their first LP ‘Liminal’ and totally dug it.  I’ll definitely want to check this live electronic trio out this year!

Pantha Du Prince
http://www.panthaduprince.com/
https://soundcloud.com/panthaduprince

Normally you would only see Pantha at something like Decibel Festival (Seattle) or Mutek (Montreal), and not at some hippie styled festival here in Cali.  This is an absolutely perfect example of why I consider Symbiosis to be the best Left Coast festival – booking artists of this nature.  Pantha separates himself from the usual techno world with his ever so sleepy beats making you feel like you’re floating through the falling snow of some Norse country in the dead heart of winter.  By infusing all sorts of bell and glass instrumentation, the music while thick underneath, sounds heavenly and full of light.  I was fortunate enough to stage manage for Pantha at Decibel a few years back, and was astounded when he set up his rig – a computer, a midi controller, and sixteen different pieces of glassware – all randomly filled with different amounts of water – that were then mic’d and played throughout his live performance.  While I don’t expect this to happen out at Symbi, I do know he’ll deliver one incredible set for us all OUTSIDE.  Don’t miss it!

edIT & Ooah Present: Crying Over Pros & Of Porcelain
https://soundcloud.com/edit
https://soundcloud.com/ooah
http://www.theglitchmob.com/

I first caught wind of Ooah back in 2005 when I spent four months on Maui with my girlfriend at the time and a whole posse of hippies.  EPIC times those were.  Ooah, Random Rab, and the late Rodman had come out during those four months as well, and were basically playing every or every other party during the whole time I was there.  It was awesome.  Ooah’s quirky, but hard hitting breaks to hip-hop sets were something to lust for over and over.  Rab’s gear hadn’t been stolen yet and he was not playing via laptops.  Then by the next time I saw Ooah, The Glitch Mob had happened.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  For one it was nothing like I was used to with Ooah.  Two, edIT, this random name in IDM who I’d heard of from his mind blowing glitch quest entitled ‘Crying Over Pros For No Reason on Planet Mu in 2004, was up there on stage with Ooah and Boretta and a whole slew of other folk churning out this psycho glitch glam hop that made me (personally) want to run away screaming.  Regardless, the Mob’s (and Bassnectar’s) sound literally took over the Cali music scene for a good four years from 2006-2010.  During that time however, Ooah self-released his own answer to edIT’s glitch quest, titled ‘Of Porcelain‘.  Both of these emotive downtempo styled glitch fests are two of the boys best works, and possibly will be for a long time to come.  To see this performed dually and live at Symbi will be a real treat that honestly will probably never happen again.  Be there.

Max Cooper
http://maxcooper.net/
https://soundcloud.com/max-cooper

I first caught wind of Mr. Cooper like many artists – through catching him deliver an over the top excellent set at Decibel Fest a few years back.  From then on he was on my radar.  Then he was booked at the Juke Shack at Symbi 2013 – again another excellent set of diverse techno, blended perfectly for the time and slot given at the fest.  That dancefloor was raging!!!  Since 2013, the world has seen Max diversify his sound incredibly from mostly techno into the world of expansive IDM sounding downtempo electronica and more.  2014 saw the release of his debut LP ‘Human‘, which is an instant classic in it’s own right.  2014 also saw Max stepping up his game even further by launching his own Live A/V (Audio/Visual) tour called ‘EMERGENCE‘, which thankfully he debuted at Decibel Fest.  This live set brings forth everything about Max that you love already, while placing sharp and crisp visuals programmed by the man himself behind it all to fully encapsulate your brain, heart, and body.  If ‘EMERGENCE‘ comes to your town – do not miss it.  I know Max will fully deliver another epic dance set at Symbi this year – I’ll see you on the dancefloor!

Bob Moses
https://soundcloud.com/the-bob-moses

Thanks to the brilliant brain of the one and only KDJ aKa Kadeejah Streets aKa Dirty Ice do I get turned onto many incredible musicians I may have not found on my own.  Bob Moses is yet another perfect example of KDJ playing something for my ears, and instantaneously am I finding myself addicted.  (I probably wouldn’t have started spinning dubstep if it wasn’t for addictions like this, but that’s another story for another time.)  This time it was through Bob Moses’ ‘Inner City Odyssey mix from about eight months ago.  I think I played it out something like 10-12 times the first week I got my hands on it (and it is still available for download via the link above, FYI).  The mix is a heartfelt and laid back sunny day house set, with beautiful vocal melodies swimming around your head throughout most of it’s hour long play time.  While I don’t know much about Bob Moses, I do know they’re relatively new to the house music scene, and so far have done nothing but turn heads wherever they play or their music is played.  I’d fair to say this may be the one biggest dance set I’m lusting after at this year’s Symbi – I can only hope they get scheduled at that perfect moment!

Thugfucker
http://www.thugfucker.org/
https://soundcloud.com/thugfucker

Thugfucker.  Say it again with me: THUG-FUCKER.  What does not come to mind when you say this brilliant moniker is a tech-house duo.  What does come to mind might be Master P or Dr. Dre’s new protege or something of the sort.  Regardless, the Fucking of Thugs is definitely oriented towards house and is one of those odd projects that has randomly released some tunes here or there for the past 10+ years, has never released a full LP, and really only plays out every so often (from what I can tell).  Honestly due to the name I’d skipped seeing them at a few previous festivals until I caught the tail end of their set over a Funktion One soundsystem at Symbi 2012.  My love of house had full on returned at that point and I dug what I heard.  It wasn’t until Symbiosis 2013 that I was fully converted into Thugfucking.  That year from 5am-7am the duo laid down what has now been deemed the ‘Fogrise Set of a Lifetime’ by our whole crew who had been camped out at the Juke Shack for close to eight hours already.  The music being DJ’d matched the time and setting so well that I was finding myself nearly brought to tears multiple times.  Melodic, emotive, dance-forward tech-house perfectly mixed for two hours.  Pure bliss.  I can only hope they get a similar timeslot this year.

Thriftworks
https://soundcloud.com/thriftworks

In a land that is overly saturated with immature bass music for days, comes the mature answer to that sound: Thriftworks.  Introduced to me through The Jess a few years back, I’d heard the name a few times, but had dismissed it due to my jaded mindset on most Cali bass music.  Then I pulled my head out of my ass and discovered Thriftworks’ not overly produced, not overly squelched, and not overly repetitive bass heavy goodness.  The man has releases for days.  They start to sound a bit similar if you go on a binge, but they really do all stand apart in their own ways.  My personal LP favorite is ‘Terry-D‘.  The title track alone gets my brain bouncing and laughing so hard at the same time, that I am only hoping he drops this one on large sound this year!

TRUTH
http://www.truthdubstep.com/
https://soundcloud.com/truthdubstep

I discovered TRUTH when I was full on binging in my new lust for the dark, minimal, and grimey sounds of halfstep dubstep a few years back.  Side Note: Remember folks – real dubstep is at 140bpm.  Just because there’s annoying squelching sounds and lots of bass DOES NOT MAKE IT DUBSTEP.  In fact it probably isn’t.  Okay, that said, TRUTH was one of the few heavy hitters not from the UK that caught my ears.  The duo has released a fair amount of tunes through most big name dubstep labels at this point including Deep Medi Musik, Black Box, and Tempa.  While it definitely takes a bit of sifting through their catalog to find the gems, once you find those gems, you’re stoked.  This was a bit of an odd booking to me for this year’s Symbi, as there is literally almost nothing like it on the lineup besides them.  Regardless I’m curious to see what these guys pull off on large sound, and I just hope that it’s some form of a live set!

Carbon Based Lifeforms
http://www.carbonbasedlifeforms.net/
https://soundcloud.com/carbonbasedlifeforms

Another fairly out there but fantastic booking is the Swedish ambient/downtempo psydub project Carbon Based Lifeforms.  Having been around now since 1998, they are veterans to the chillout scene and all things trippy.  I’d heard of these two off and on for the past ten or so years, and always in positive discussion.  A few friends are truly avid fans, so I downloaded a few albums a while back and turned out to really enjoy the music.  It’s very relaxed, calm, and has many moments of weightless ambience throughout the songs and in between.  Just like TRUTH mentioned above, these guys are kind of in their own world out at this year’s Symbiosis.  I’d imagine an early morning sunrise set would be perfect!

:: IF YOU’RE NOT BUSY WITH THE ABOVE LIST, CHECK OUT ::

Justin Martin Dirtybird Bassline Techno
Christian Martin  Dirtybird Bassline Techno
Extrawelt – German Techno
KMLN – Cali Techno Dj Duo
Mumdance – Tripped Out British Bass Music
Filastine – Epic Political Hip-Hop
Random Rab – Warm & Fuzzy Downtempo (Especially if it’s a sunrise set!)
Tara Brooks – Super Fun Dancey House Music
Treavor Moontribe – PsyTechno
World’s Finest – Americana Dub Grass from PDX

If you have some free time to kill while you’re not dancing your ass of to any of the DO NOT MISS list, then I highly recommend you check out any or all of the above artists.  They’re solid performers, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy the show!

:: IF YOU GO TO FESTIVALS TO SEE THE SAME SHIT EVERY TIME, CHECK OUT ::

Shpongle (DJ Set by Raja Ram)
Emancipator Ensemble
The Polish Ambassador
EOTO
EPROM
Perfect Stranger
Desert Dwellers
Kalya Scintilla
The Human Experience
An-Ten-Nae
Kaminanda
Liberation Movement

Uhhhh, yah.  The Festie All-Stars.  They play every fest during the summer and some of you love it.  Not really my thing, but if it floats your boat – go sailing!  I’d personally recommend checking out some of the other music this massive lineup has to offer.

:: IF YOU’RE SUPER SPIRITUAL, CHECK OUT ::

Dub Kirtan Allstars
Fanna Fi Allah
Hamsa Lila

I actually really enjoy the above bands.  What I don’t enjoy is the excessively elevated and holier than thou vibes some of their fans bring with them.  That said, if you’re into kirtan and chanting and what not, these groups are definitely for you.

Well that’s about that.  Hopefully this has been informative, helpful, and fun.  I definitely hope you discovered something new in the music world you’re now into.  I’ll be at this year’s Symbi from Thurs-Mon, and would love to see any and all of you.  I’ll be camped in the Seattle Camp, which hopefully will be pleasantly situated by the Lake once again.  Have fun this year, and remember to DRINK WATER.


~SS~

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Vessel destroyed my brain in the best way last Thursday.

Without friends, life would tend to be…well, different, and honestly, probably pretty lame.  In no way shape or form can I imagine not having the incredible and massive group of friends that I have been fortunate enough to amass over the years.  Where am I going with this?  Well with the assistance of my old friend and co-worker Jefferson last Thursday, I wouldn’t have known about the fact that Vessel was playing later that night.  Thanks to Jefferson and social networking however, I was able to catch this show at Kremwerk last Thursday.

Vessel is part of the ever growing list of awesomeness that Tri Angle Records has been politely pumping over the last four and a half years.  I first came across Vessel back in 2013 at (duh) Decibel Festival.  Having heard of Holy Other and Evian Christ, I decided to bounce up to Chop Suey (which is sadly closing soon if it hasn’t already) for the Tri Angle Records Showcase.  Suffice to say, the showcase completely blew me away and I became an instant follower of all things Tri Angle.

Tri Angle was formed in 2010 by Robin Carolan split between London and New York City.  Since then they have done an excellent job formulating a sound that they are now known for, and sticking to it, something that we don’t see as much from labels in this day and age.  Ten to twenty years ago when you found an electronic label, you would more than likely be able to hunt down anything else on the label and probably be pretty stoked about it because it would encompass a lot of the same sounds and/or mood.  Labels these days tend to be putting out so many releases from so many different artists that the art of label differentiation has unfortunately been a bit lost.  This is one of the reasons why Tri Angle is special to me.  You know what you’re getting yourself into when you listen to another Tri Angle Records artists: it’s going to be moody, dark, emotive, bass heavy, industrial, all complete with hidden elements of pop buried between all those other layers.

With that said, Vessel (Sebastian Gainsborough), released his first LP through Tri Angle in 2012.  Entitled Order of Noise, this debut LP saw the Bristol based artist sprinkle his own brand of synth heavy noise across platforms such as techno, industrial, and broken apart dubstep.  Here’s a favorite of mine off the album:

Definitely making an imprint on those who listened, the news of a new LP from Sebastian in 2014 was excellent news.  Released on September 15, 2014 Punish, Honey saw Vessel returning to a fair amount of noise oriented tunes, yet this time a bit more carefully constructed.  Oriented more towards a techno style 4-In-The-Floor beat, this fairly non-dancey, but head swaying styled noisey techno can easily be eaten up by any noise and industrial fan.  It’s slow, it’s sluggish, it’s dark and dreary.  Often sounding like you’re in the middle of some sort of heavy mechanical shop filled with multiple kinds of machines all working at once, Punish, Honey will definitely put you into a certain space, and keep you there whether you like it or not.  Personally, I love it.  Here’s one of my favorites off the new LP:

Fast forward a few years to last Thursday, and a random Google+ post from Jefferson mentioning Vessel in town for $10 got my ears perking heavy.  I hit up Jefferson immediately to get the complete details, and told him I’d meet him down there later.  After a delicious dinner and toasty bowl of sativa with another old friend in Fremont, I bounced down to Kremwerk around 11.30pm.

Container was currently on the decks spinning an eclectic mix of odd IDM infused bass music.  Surprisingly the tiny little space of Kremwerk was fairly full towards the stage, with lots of room to move around towards the bar area.  You never know who is going to be out at a low publicised show in Seattle, but that said, apparently Vessel has his followers.  Vessel stepped up to his table of equipment right around 12 Midnight and began what would end up being a full on journey.

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Beginning with some deep exploratory noise like his LP’s and EP’s, Vessel brought us all into his space through a full static sound bath to get things going.  The next 65 or so minutes were then filled to the brim with all things noise oriented, swimming around in slow industrial based techno beats, hints of Bristol dubstep, random sounds of gabber at 160bpm, and of course, more thick and heavy distorted synth patches.  Beyond the sounds, watching Sebastian have just as much fun up there pushing boundaries was also part of the show.  His stage presence is as such that you know he is fully in it, completely enjoying what he is doing, making, and experimenting with – just as much as we were all completely enjoying the sonic onslaught he provided for our ears.  Kremwerk’s tiny but punctual soundsystem did well handling the raw signal he was sending, as there was definitely no laptop to be seen anywhere on stage that evening.  Here’s some video I took from the night (you may want to turn your speakers down before playing as these are raw and LOUD):

By the end of the 65 minutes, I was already begging for more.  It is truly show like this that keep me interested in electronic music, shows where you know you’re witnessing something different, something cutting edge.  If you’re into any sounds that tend to be a bit darker and more edgy, I highly recommend checking out Vessel and Tri Angle Records.  Their whole catalog is worthy of the snobbiest of ears.

A First Listen: Brand. New. Aphex Twin. Syro.

With just over a months official warning, we all of a sudden have a new Aphex Twin album.  It’s been TWELVE YEARS and some change since his last album Drukqs.  (Yes, I know technically speaking he released music under the AFX, Analord, and The Tuss monikers, but we’re not talking about that right now.)  You know where I was twelve years ago?  Drinking my face off in college.  The iPod hadn’t been released yet.  Dubstep hadn’t been invented yet.  EDM (I shudder every time I hear that term) wasn’t a genre of electronic music.  Hell, Skrillex was still screaming his face off in From First To Last.  Suffice to say the world has changed quite a bit, even further more, the world of music has changed drastically.

Apparently Richard D. James is still Richard D. James – but he’s grown up.  He’s apparently moved to rural Scotland (hey they’re voting for Independence today actually), got married, has a few kids, and takes the random small or gigantic Dj gig from times to time.  We heard the beginning of a rumor in 2009 about the possibilities of a new album.  Then an interview surfaced with Richard himself in 2010 about his ‘six unreleased albums he’s sitting on’.  Flash forward four more years and out of no where there’s a slimy green blimp with the Aphex logo on it flying over an Elephant & Castle in England and Aphex logos spray-painted in front of NYC’s Radio City Music Hall.  Something is happening.

Then BOOM – the next day, Aphex’s Twitter account (which has been active for years) posts it’s 9th Tweet ever: a random scrambled URL that is only accessible via the deep web.  If you’re a smart enough cookie to figure that out, you then got launched to a Website with track titles, an album name, and a whole slew of other seemingly useless information.  Later that day Warp Records confirmed – a new Aphex Twin album release is just over a month away.

aphex-twin-blimp

BvKfZIrCAAEle_k.jpg-large

This is a very different style review than I usually do.  It’s a ‘First Listen’ meaning I’ve just scribbled some notes down for each song as I heard it for the first time last night.  This is not the well written heady review you’re looking for.  Straight first impressions here:

Minipops 67 – The actual ‘single’ from the album.  A tame Aphex style breakbeat with warm glow from his many synths starts this ride out.  Heavily vocoded with many voices, almost R&Bish to an extent.  So good to hear his sounds again!!
XMAS_EVET10 (Thanaton3 Mix) – Stranger, murkier, slower, video garish at points, and thick with deep acid lines weaving in and out and on top of each other.  You don’t realize it’s been ten and a half minutes when it ends.  Hauntingly beautiful.
Produk 29 – Starts fairly gangster as far as Richard goes beat wise, sinks right into Aphex synth with subtle acid lines.  Jazzy to a point.  Then it gets swampy.  Very accessible while being completely full and layered.  Fucking whore!!
4 bit 9d api+e+6 – If I was to choose a ‘single’ off the album, this would be it – it’s Windowlickery to an extent.  Really.  Just massively toned down and not necessarily trying to tickle your brain in ways some might not appreciate.
180db_ – Out of no where a four in the floor groove.  Synth heavy and breakish at points.  Flat.  Doesn’t really seem like a completely finished thought, and doesn’t really fit the rest of the album so far.
CIRCLONT6A (Syrobonkus Mix) – Now we’re back in some far off land that’s close to Drukqs, but much more mature.  Drenched in all sorts of sounds flying at you…never what I’d call overwhelming like points on Drukqs, but still testing limits.  Complex.  Incredible piece of electronica.
Fz pseudotimestretch+e+3 – LoL.  If you ever owned an older organ you’ll totally appreciate the one.  Great segue.
CIRCLONT14 (Shrymoming Mix) – Back to that land near Drukqs.  More modern Aphex mastery.  It’s acid drenched, half timing, and super bouncy.  Yes please!
Syro u473t8+3 (Piezoluminescence Mix) – Possible ‘title track’?  If so I can see why.  Fairly forward acid backbone, dark and grimey throughout.  Drum heavy older Aphex sounding.  A well mastered construction of so many things Richard does so well.
PAPAT4 (Pineal Mix) – Lovers of the Amen Break will bask in the beauty of this one.  Light and fluffy, like laying on pillows, but driven in mellow drum&bass.
S950tx16wasr10 (Earth Portal Mix) – Jungle!!  He brought out the jungle!  Hints of grime on top, not so acidy as a lot of the album until the finish – absolutely love the second half of this track!
Aisatsana – A beautiful birdsong piano played nightcap to a lovely dream inside Richard’s head.  Gorgeousness at it’s finest.

Well, I’m completely sold.  Over all there isn’t as much going on as far as throwing new sounds at you consistently while changing beat patterns every 8 bars like some of his previous works.  This album is not set out to change the face of music like Richard has done countless times before – this album is about Richard doing what Richard does best – being Richard.  Nothing still sounds like Aphex, but Aphex.

Do not think to hardly when listening to this album.  It’s like when Boards of Canada released their first album after eight years last year…way too many people getting caught up in the hype expecting something so over the top, when in fact BoC did what they do best – being BoC.  Don’t go into Syro expecting anything and you’ll come out on top with a shit eating Aphexy grin as much as before.

Thank you Richard for coming back!

SYRO

Music for the Ear…as of late. The Second.

June 29th, 2012

Music, music, music, Life, music, music, MUSIC!  It doesn’t stop.  Overload the ears, but be nice to them with a safe listening volume.  Brain swell.  Incredible.  Little mix of old and new on the ear drum As Of Late:

: Meshuggah :
: Catch Thirtythree : Nuclear Blast : 2005
:
~ metal, progressive.rock, doom 

Pure, unfiltered, and in your face.  Sweden’s Meshuggah step up their game quite a bit here with the experimental 47 minute opus “Catch Thirtythree“.  The band’s 5th album, and only piece of this nature to this date, has always been quite the difficult listen – but can be extremely rewarding beneath the heavy and more often than not darker undertones of the piece.  Stepping into a more texturous flow inside themselves, layers and layers of guitars come whirling out at you, with electronically sequenced samples of the drummer (in place of the drummer physically playing the kit) for the first time in the band’s career.  Jazz elements present themselves at times.  The album is lyrically said to float through specific paradoxes, hence the title “Catch Thirtythree (as in the phrase ‘catch twenty-two‘).  Complete with an intermission or sorts during ‘In Death – Is Death’, this is the one space on the album where everything isn’t driving at full speed metal ahead.  After death or course is an awakening, and you’ll definitely find one if you’re able to push through this opus.

: BT :
: If The Stars Are Eternal So Are You And I : Laptop Symphony : 2012 :
~ ambient, glitch, experimental, modern.classical ~

BT.  The man has simply been all over the place with his music, and all over the world because of it.  I used to see him back at NAF Studios, full on rave status Dj, blowing up trance like there would never be an end to that style of synth line (is there yet??).  He’s made dance music, soundtracked, and he’s also put out some extremely beautiful experimental works.  2006 brought the first of these more experimental works, “This Binary Universe“.  I’d never listened to BT‘s music on the regular until that point, but that album, along with the incredible video work from LA’s Scott Pagano, one of my favorite visual artist’s, had me as a quick convert.  “ITSAESAYAI” is said to be the follow up to the beginning of a new direction for BT.  ITSAESAYAI” provides you once again with beauty from all ends of the spectrum.  With seven tracks ranging from the 7 – 14 minute range, the journey  had me sucked in the entire time the first listen (which proceeded to be three full listens the day I got it – something that very rarely happens around here).  The disc is mainly comprised of gorgeous waves of ambient pads fluttering with organic instrumentation, glitch of the most precise nature, and every once in a while, bassy beat driven sections spanning from dubstep, to chilled out techno, to glitched out breaks.  I can definitely see this being on my ‘Top 10 of the Year’ already.  Even though I believe the whole album is incredible, ‘Our Dark Garden’ has been standing out quite a bit – one of the more vocal driven tracks on the album, it brings you to a place of pure bliss if you let it, gliding through a land of harmony…with loads of fluffy clouds to lay on.  A masterpiece of an album…highly recommend checking this one out.

: Broken Social Scene :
: You Forgot It In People : Arts & Crafts International : 2002 :
~ indie.rock, experimental.punk, art.rock, ambient, post.rock ~

Broken Social Scene’s second album witness’ the band changing up a few aspects quite heavily – one being adding numerous members to the group, and two being to start pumping out forward rock jams, a drastic change from their mainly post-rock ambient styled first album “Feel Good Lost“.  One might think this could get quite messy.  Well, they pull it off, and it’s done so well that it’s still my favorite album of theirs!  Starting off where “Feel Good Lost left off, the album starts off with a post-rock ambient piece, and then leads directly into where the sound has grown up – rock based grooves with plenty of experimental noise of all sorts going on underneath.  Horn sections, waves of ambience, static based noise, tons of guitar distortion, and epic amounts of screaming through plenty of filters of many types.  This almost sums up the album, except you end up with pieces like the widely known ‘Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl‘, ‘Pacific Theme’, and ‘Looks Just Like The Sun’, hitting elements of ambient based indie folk tunes, making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  ‘Anthems’ specifically has a special feel to it – they’re not joking around with that title – you feel like a seventeen year old girl hanging out in her room starting at the mirror and wondering about her emotional state.  ‘Pacific Theme’ takes you on a drive on Highway 101 through Northern California and Southern Oregon, exploding in on itself in one of the grooviest grooves ever right around the 4:10 mark.  The album consists of segments of similar sounds, usually three to four songs at a time, which makes the whole journey feel extremely conducive.  All in all, absolutely spectacular album, and now a for sure classic for the books!  Have to toss out another shout out to my old friend Steve Salisbury for turning me on to these guys (and this album) way back when!

: True Dream :
: The Night Again : 4×4 Records : 2011
:
~ pop.rock, doo-wop, folk, indie.rock, ambient ~

Seattle based Danny VanHollebeke comes marching out of the ether with his first full length LP under the alias True Dream.  The layers of which this pop masterpiece consist of make it easy to tell that nothing but the utmost consideration, concentration, and careful attention to detail have been placed into this work. Having spent seven years putting the album together with all it’s finishing touches, a story is woven here, a story of life, feelings, and consciousness at it’s level of striving for love.  The album presents itself to you in the form of pop, but boasts elements of waltz, ambient, metal, 60’s, 80’s, dream pop, doo-wop, and indie rock – all enveloped by a layer of light experimentalism to infuse it all together.  As Todd Hamm of the Seattle Weekly said, “think doom-wop”.  Even deeper we find out that all aspects of the music, including the vocals, are played and made by VanHollebeke.  At only 32 minutes, the piece will quickly bring you from happiness glee to reverent melancholy, keeping a fairly moving undertone throughout.  Personal favorites?  The whole thing!!  From the moment the title track reached my ear, and all the way through to the Brian Eno inspired ambient ‘Decomposition‘, Danny’s album has me captivated and invested, repeatedly.  I purchased the finished product sometime last year, it has been through constant rotation on all my players – at home base, and on the road.  You can find True Dream’s The Night Again on iTunes here:  |— CLICK —|  Fantastic work Danny!

: Demdike Stare :
: Elemental : Modern Love : 2012 :
~ dark.ambient, industrial, drone, techno, witch.house, experimental ~

Since 2009, the illusive Lancastrian outfit known as Demdike Stare have been birthing into the Universe some of the world’s most unusual and forward thinking sounds inside of the dark ambient/drone, witch house, and experimental realms.  Really though, their music is flat out at times, indescribable.  Hinting on elements of tribalism, folk, and neo-paganism, it seems as though Sean Cantry and Miles Whittaker are attempting to call back in the witches who were once running around rampant in the area the group comes from, especially with the “Demdike” name hailing from Elizabeth Southern, the supposed leader of the Pendle Witches.  After their three part release in 2010, I knew never to miss anything from the duo again.  Released as four parts on colored vinyl, with a full double-disc CD release in 2012, this new collection of works leaves you feeling as though some sort of ancient underworld Earthen being has gobbled up your thought processes, and spit them out into a dark new reality that makes you feel…haunted!  Even as OCD in describing genres as I love to be, this disc leaves me so floored that it’s hard to put into words.  Take the track “Mnemosyne” for instance – their is a backbone of some stripped down 135bpm dubstep styled beat in there, but beneath that, you feel as though you’re in the middle of a longhouse in the 1600’s and the coven you belong to is about to sacrifice some sort of lamb or goat or small furry animal – AND it’s a joyous occasion.  Elements of dark drone plaster the album, taking over sections of otherwise beat oriented music, out of no where.  Little nods to Aphex Twin’s more twisted and disturbing sound experiment works come out of the woodwork at times, making me think back to a track off 2001’s “Drukqs“, ‘Gwarek2‘, by far one of the more perverse 6 minutes of sound my mind can really think of.  All in all I could sit here and try and describe “Elemental” to you all day, but really you just need to bust out your best pair of speakers, turn off all the lights, sit next to a fire (inside or outside), and let yourself immerse into another world.  Genius work!

 : Scuba :
: DJ-Kicks : !K7 Records : 2011 :
~ 2-step, dubstep, techno, bass.music, ambient, glitch ~

If you haven’t heard of Paul Rose’s Scuba at this point, you’ve definitely been hiding under some sort of rock underneath the top layer of soil of the Earth for the past…oh, five years or so.  Probably more.  The official headmaster of one of the most forefront running labels out there today, Hotflush Recordings, Rose has been helping advance the sound of 2-step and dubstep alike now for over 10 YEARS – amazing really!  Everything this man touches that I have found, I have been into (minus maybe two or three songs on his latest LP, “Personality“).  This edition of the DJ-Kicks series is absolutely no exception.  Starting off with a lovely deep ambient piece to set the mood, from Hotflush’s Sigha, the mix begins with a churning of techno cross bred with 2-step influences and does nothing but pick up and get groovier from there.  Sitting around 132bpm for the length of the mix allows the blend between the crossover of styles to mesh flawlessly .  Track selection, programming, mixing – PERFECT.  You’ll notice that each song tracked out lasts for just over a minute to just under three minutes (with a few exceptions) – proof of the generous amount of layering going on between selected tracks for the majority of the journey.  Notable tracks to dig for on their own: Peverlist’s Sun Dance‘, Trevino’s Shorty‘, Boddika’s ‘Acid Battery‘, Scuba’s M.A.R.S.‘ (made specifically for the mix), Jichael Mackson’s Gedons‘, and Sepalcure’s gorgeous ‘Inside‘, which provides the mixes outro and end point.  This is how it’s done properly people – Know This!

Injoy.  See ya hopefully sooner than later this next time.  I’m going to attempt to do this once a week at this point, as well as randomly posting interesting bits of all sorts of finds from the net and beyond into this Blog, so, stay tuned!