Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Some Tunes!!!

Okay, my apologies, but my browser crashed twice while I was on the last song of this update. I had my usual little blurbs about each track... but I honestly don't feel like writing the same thing over and over again. I learned my lesson, I will now use a word processor for all updates. In the mean time, the theme for this post is fun and lighthearted tunes.

X Press 2 - Let Love Decide (Art Department Remix) (Skint)

Lazaro Casanova - Miami Vice (Murk Miami Heat Remix) (Nurvous)

Maelstrom - uSSR (The Hacker Remix) (Sound Pellegrino)

Daniel Steinberg - Tell Me What (Arms & Legs)

DC Salas - Gimme/ In My Head (petfood)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Celestial Light Beings

Early last year one of my favorite full lengths was delivered via an unknown producer who went by Desolate. It proved to be a fitting moniker, as it completely encapsulated his sound. His tracks spoke about isolation, anxiety and, well, desolation and despair, without ever mentioning a single discernible thought. He proved himself a producer who could craft emotion through music. I know it sounds cliché, but you didn't listen to "Invisible Insurrection" as much as you felt it.

At first glance it sounds like a dark take on the future-garage sound that dominated the blogsphere/ hipster ipods in late 2009 and throughout 2010. Of course Burial comparisons were inevitable, as the jittered percussion and reverberated samples that percolated throughout his tracks could certainly be seen as Burial-esque (and yes he is totally deserving of his own adjective in the musical dictionary). 

However, it wasn't until Desolate's true identity was uncovered that the whole album really clicked for me. Sven Weisemann and Desolate were the same artist, which really isn't surprising in hind sight. "Invisible" wasn't a jaded take on UK Garage, it wasn't even a Bass album at all. The tempos range around 108-115 bpm, rather than 130-140. Taking cues from Decoding-era-Alter Ego, Last Resort-era-Trentemoller and cinematic sound scapes, "Invisible Insurrection", as it turned out, was not a Burial clone at all, but rather a futurist take on techno.

Granted, this is far more melodic and far less driving than 99.99% of most techno produced EVER, but that's what makes it so endearing to listen to. Songs like "Cathartic" and "Divinus" had feelings, they had troubled, but optimistic personas, they had souls. They bared themselves to the listener and allowed you to get closer than most producers will ever let you get to their creations.

That brings us to the second full length offering from Sven under his Desolate guise. On this album, entitled "Celestial Light Beings", much of the despair has been replaced instead by serenity. There are for less anxious moments on "Celestial", instead, Desolate chooses to focus on the restrained optimism that occasionally poked its head through his otherwise bleak compositions on “Invisible”.

The opening track "Ambrosia" still features the same, echoed percussion, understated dub influences and generally downtrodden melodies, only now there are a few more pieces to grab our attention as well. There is a somber violin, and some light, singular, guitar notes which suggest something hopeful at the end of the journey. And indeed, the true moment of greatness is achieved when the piano kicks in sporadically which despite it's minor (the sad scale) progression, it actually creates a touch of the aforementioned blissful serenity.

The track "Desolation" takes this serene approach even further as it immediately calls to mind the "Tri Angle" sound of Balem Acab and co. Vocals are used heavily, but as distorted instruments as they are stretched and molded to create something entirely different than a conventionally sung vocal line. Yet, once again, this is not a clone offering, as it is imbued with enough proper dub elements to keep it sounding fresh and unique.

"Tearless of Lemnia", however, is very 90's trip-hop influenced. It doesn't take the name to immediately remind the listener of Massive Attack's timeless "Teardrop", as the two have very similar piano. Much like "Teardrop", "Tearless" has a somber tone, yet a piano that says "hey cheer up, everything is alright". Most tracks on "Celestial Light Beings" do hint at some type of joy-amidst-the-sorrow. On "Se7en" it is interestingly the rhythm which conveys this. It is hardly something that I would consider "playful", however, that is the first thing that comes to mind when assessing it.

Aside from a few moments, "Celestial Light Beings" doesn’t stray too far from “Invisible Insurrection”: the heavy dub influences, the sparse vocal samples, it’s generally dreary melodies across a variety of instruments. But now there are elements to each track that suggest that this is meant to be more than a journey solely about despair. The production is a little crisper, less reverberated, and the cinematic moments tend to hint at serenity, rather than loneliness. Both are very personal experiences, and while no one can accuse "Celestial Light Beings" of being a "joyous" record, it certainly hints at growth as an artist.  

Desolate - Celestial Light Beings (Fauxpas)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Dedicated to EHTC!!! Some goodies.

I haven't updated in a looong looong while, but I have been spurred on by the wonderful (and active) Edmonton House and Techno Collective that has popped up on Facebook. I think that this can be a wonderful launching point to build a decent underground scene here in the city of Edmonton. I think that if we can grow this group and carefully add and expand it outwards, good things can start happening. So this post is dedicated to the people that make this group awesome!

Dillon and Chaim are two Bpitch recording artists who both put out full lengths last year. I wasn't particularly impressed with either of them, but if DJ T. and Get Physical have taught us anything it's that sometimes pedestrian albums can spawn great remix packages. This remix of "Tip Tapping" sounds nothing like the original, but Chaim hits all the right mid-west vibes with his remix.

Dillon - Tip Tapping (Chaim Remix) (Bpitch Control)

Keeping right in line with that theme, enter the elusive remix of "Reckless With Your Love" by Azari & III that was featured in their essential mix a couple weeks ago. There have been a lot of Azari & III remixes that have popped up in the past six months, and rightfully so. This Tiga remix, however, is without a doubt my favorite of the bunch.

Azari & III - Reckless (With Your Love) (Tiga Remix) (Turbo)

It almost looks like I was doing algebra with all those brackets... Anyway, moving right along with the funky/ bass driven/ electro inspired grooves, here is a track called "I'm Lonely" by Hollis P Monroe. It is remixed by Larse; if you are familiar with Noir records you should have come across him by now. He has a bit of an eclectic pallet, as he has dabbled in proper funk and straight up disco on top of house. A good chunk of his productions are south of 115 bpm. His best stuff, however, is his soulful, deep, electro. This track is a little deeper, and little more soulful than the last two, but it is great.

Hollis P Monroe - I'm Lonely (Larse Remix) (Noir)

Now for something jackin'. You may remember J. Phlip playing this one early in her set at Level 2 last month. It is a remix of an Audiojack track, and while they are always awesome, FCL has really stolen the show with his remix of "Stay Glued". As I said, it's jackin'.

Audiojack feat. Kevin Knapp - Stay Glued (FCL Weemix) (Gruuv)

I have yet another treat for you guys. This comes from Adam Port, who used do be pretty hit or miss with by-the-book tech house and minimal tracks late in the last decade. I haven't actually followed him for over two years, but upon listening to some of his new stuff, I was very impressed. Here is my favorite of the group of tracks that I heard. It's some raw soul.

Adam Port - Someone to Love (Keinemusik)

Last but not least here is a cut from awesome label 1trax. It is by Dodha, who has been consistently putting out good tunes for the equally consistent UK label. It is a little slower than the other stuff I posted, but what it lacks in tempo it makes up for in bass.

Dodha - Peenoit (1trax)

Monday, 6 February 2012

Scuba, Raffertie, Synkro and... HUUUUUUUUGE announcement!!!

You likely don't need me to tell you, but Scuba has released the first track off of his upcoming third album entitled "Personality". The first single is "The Hope" and it is dripping with all of the late 80's, early 90's sentiment that the "Adrenalin EP" left us with. While it is undeniably retro sounding, it is quite a bit darker than any track off of that EP. If the entire album sounds like this... then everyone will be in for a real treat.

The EP also contains "Flash addict" which will not be appearing on the album. This is hardly a B-side however, as it has dark-room club smasher written all over it. Scuba was well immersed in the sound of fledgeling dubstep when "minimal" was big in his current home of Berlin. I think that this is his brilliant take on that-type-of-minimal sound, only slightly modernized. Either way, coupled with "The Hope" we have two tracks that could very well be on a few year-end lists.

Scuba - The Hope/ Flash Addict (Hotflush)

Second up, Ninja Tune artist Raffertie has released "Mass Appeal" this week. The four track EP contains rugged bass lines, wonderfully syncopated percussion, and a ten-and-a-half-minute synth-driven  epic. Not a lot of people know about Raffertie. He isn't particularly prolific, with only one EP all of last year, although he does get better with every release. Some people may actually remember him as one of the first champions of the heavy-distorted dubstep sound of 2009. He has certainly come a long way since then. Check out some samples.

Raffertie - Mass Appeal EP (Ninja Tune)

While both mysterious and beautiful, the Autonomic sound of minimal/ pretty drum and bass, has lost some momentum over the two years since FabricLive 50. Once at the forefront of electronic music, it seems to have been relegated to niche youtube channels where it attempts to eek out a meager existence. If you, like me, find this somewhat troubling, then fear not. Synkro has graced us with yet another brilliant track via Exit Records.

"Progression" takes on the Autonomic formula and delivers a deep and anxiously brooding track, which tugs on all the subtle heart-strings that normal drum and bass just won't touch. Included as well is a remix from equally well established ethereal-mastermind Indigo. While the Indigo remix bites a little harder than the original does in certain places, it is, overall, an even deeper and more minimal track that the original. Both tracks however, compliment each other  wonderfully and are not to be missed. Synkro needs to produce more!

Synkro - Progression (Exit)

Okay, now for the big announcement. If you live in Edmonton, or in the surrounding area, you will be witness to an awesome show in April. I will give you some hints: he co-runs one of my all-time favorite labels, a label that has been featured a lot on this blog. He has contributed mixes for BBC Radio 1, RA, Fabric and At The Controls. He has two wonderful full-lengths under his belt. He is the master of all things bass... hailing from San Francisco, originally from Detroit its.... CLAUDE VONSTROKE!!!

I have literally been waiting since 2007 to see this guy. Maybe even late 2006, whenever the first time I heard "Who's Afraid of Detroit". I thought I would have a chance to see him at Shambhala (of all places) in 2009, but due to time constraints on finishing his second album, and the "if-they-cancel-on-us-they-will-never-play-here-ever" attitude that Shambhala seems to enforce, I never did get the chance. Since then I have spent time wondering if I ever would. I thought for sure I would have to go abroad to see the main dirtybird man. After all, who would bring him here? Where would he play? With him being too big to play at small venues, and with Edmonton being too lame to have him play at a big venue, I never thought I would see the day when CVS would get confirmed to play here.

So who stepped up to the plate and delivered the goods, Eli Manning-Mario Manningham-clutch-style? Once again, Level 2 gets it done. This will mark the third straight Level 2 show that I attend, and all of which were dirtybird DJs. However, that being said, Level 2 was always somewhere which I considered to be "too small" for CVS to play at. So this means two things: 1. Get your tickets ASAP!!! I know that there only a grand total of 20 people at the J. Phlip show, but this is different. This is the man himself, and to say that he has made a few cross-over fans in the six years since he has been putting out records, would be an understatement. 2. There will be absolute bedlam inside that place. It is going to be hot, sweaty, sticky, and just generally nasty in every way imaginable. But really, is there a better guy to be providing the soundtrack to a night like that than the one, the only, Claude Vonstroke!

There will definitely more to come on this as it develops!!!  

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Kasra mixes some forward-thinking drum & bass for Fabric

If you believe that drum & bass is dying a slow death, you certainly can't blame Fabric for any of it. Pretty much every Friday night you can find at least one d n' b act within the friendly confines of the London super-club. As a label however, is how Fabric really pushes the iconic genre to the masses. Aside from a stretch of 18 releases in which only High Contrast made a contribution, there has consistently been PURE drum and bass mixes popping up throughout it's prestigious catalogue.

And while the label can be accused of, at times, bringing out the worst in its commissions, the same certainly can not be said about the recent string of d n' b mixes that have come out of the Fabric camp. We have had Marcus Intalex's brilliant and soulful 35, Noisia's groundbreaking 40, Commix's beautifully sublime 44, LJT Bukem's vintage sounding 46, Zero T's eclectic 52, d Bridge & Intra:mental's ephemeral Autonomic sound of 50, DJ Marky's lovable 55 and Goldie's broad scoped 58.

For those who don't know who Kasra is, he runs arguably the best drum and bass label going right now, Critical Records. Along with Shogun Audio, Exit and Metalheadz, Critical Records have helped redefine the genre and elevate it back into respectability. The track listing for FabricLive 62 has arrived, via RA, and it looks like a doozy. It reads like a modern d n' b hall of fame. Dubplates and VIPs are abundant, as well as several forthcoming Critical tracks.

Pretty much everyone is here, Rockwell, Break, Phace, Noisia, Enei, Hybris, S.P.Y., Commix, Icicle, Klute, Sabre, Jubei and Alix Perez. Not surprisingly there are 29 tracks to feast upon, because that's almost always how d n' b DJs like it. The release date is penciled for March.

01. Rockwell - Underpass (Alix Perez VIP)
02. Foreign Concept - Detuned Souls
03. Dub Phizix - Handmade
04. Phace & Noisia - Micro Organism
05. Hybris - The Cleaner VIP
06. Sabre, Stray & Halogenix feat. Frank Carter III - Oblique VIP
07. Mortem - Uprising
08. Alix Perez - Myriads (Jubei Remix)
09. Break - Soundwaves
10. Judda - Pressure Plate VIP
11. Dub Phizix - Codec
12. Hybris - Make My Drink
13. Kasra & Enei - So Real
14. Enei - Machines
15. Enei & MC DRS - Obsession (Foreign Concept Remix)
16. Bladerunner - Back To The Jungle VIP
17. S.P.Y. - New Beginning VIP
18. Phace & Noisia - MPD
19. Foreign Concept - Mob Justice (Enei Remix)
20. Commix - Version
21. Klute - We R The Ones (Ulterior Motive Remix)
22. Xtrah - Regain Control
23. Icicle & Rockwell - Resources
24. June Miller & Proxima - Killswitch Engage
25. MC DRS feat. Enei - Count To Ten
26. Mark System - Pursuit
27. Mikal & Break - Play This Game
28. Enei & Riya - No Fear (Spectrasoul Remix)
29. Stray - Timbre VIP