Friday, December 20, 2019

Bug - Triptych_3




From the artist:
The Triptych series includes a selection of tracks that mark various experiments and vignettes written and recorded over the course of 2019. The third and final EP in the series, Triptych_03, includes a total of seven tracks; the few which had previously been released as singles are modified from their original versions, creating, like the first two Triptych EPs, a more unified and seamless listening experience, despite spanning genres ranging from ambient electronica to liquid drum & bass.

Links
Bug - "walking with the muse" (Soundcloud)
Bug - Experimental Bug House: Triptych_03 (Bandcamp)
Bug - Experimental Bug House: Tripytch_03 (Soundcloud)

Disclaimer: This artist is affiliated with this blog.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

valerie reyes-cooper - "bySweet Jesus Sisterfy"




A fantastic shoegaze track, no frills to it, which is perhaps surprising considering the musician's lineage. "bySweet Jesus Sisterfy" is the latest track by valerie-reyes cooper, a member of the seminal band Sweet Trip, who are, depending on who you ask, either "ineffable" or "inscrutable." However, gone are the glitching rhythms, blasts of noise, and rampant experimentation of that band. Instead, we are treated to a straightforward wash of distorted guitars, bending every which way; airy vocals, aloof and the words muddled; and a dancing, pop drum beat, riding on a ceaseless blast of hi-hats and a huge snare. The track wastes no time, careening through two alternating sections for a few minutes before fading; repeated listens reveal nuanced guitar melodies and bass grooves sprinkled throughout, hidden amidst the ever-enveloping wash.

Links
valerie reyes-cooper - "bySweet Jesus Sisterfy" (Soundcloud)
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MADISON - "SHE"




Not sure why; I've been drawn toward dark, expressive tracks lately. "SHE" is haunting and evocative, as MADISON's vocals drip with gothic flair, alternating between a low, monotonous sneer and haunting, all-encompassing cries. The vocals stand at the forefront of the track, pleading, grim, and beautiful; however, they rest during the song's bridge (1:50), allowing swirling, windy textures to take over, re-emphasizing the track's otherwise minimalist instrumentation, while also allowing enough contrast for the vocals to return with greater splendor. Other highlights of the instrumentation include the crisp, overblown bass line which serves as the core of the track, as well as the drum pattern that enters following the aforementioned bridge (2:14); there's something very satisfying about the way those snare and stick hits cut through everything else. That being said, though I tend to try and look past hiccups in production, there is some inconsistent mixing here, in particular with the vocals, which unfortunately distracts from the otherwise stellar atmosphere created by the track. Overall, an effectively bleak track which captures a snapshot of forlorn bitterness within us, especially when compared to the glittering pop of some of MADISON's other tracks, such as "SHELTERED GOWN."

Links
MADISON - "SHE" (Soundcloud)
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The I IV V 2 - "Standing in the Sun"




A buzzing garage rock track which blends psychedelia with grunge, "Standing in the Sun" is loud and fun, and, much like the bands it emulates (perhaps from a certain Pacific Northwestern area), sounds like it'd be best enjoyed live and with a cheap beer, or ten. Following a tremolo-laden ambient-psych intro, the song kicks in proper with a delicious fuzz riff; it's velcro-tearing, heavy and melodic. The guitar-work, paired with the soaked, slacker-rock vocals, places this somewhere between Dinosaur Jr. and a (significantly) more mellowed-out Red Fang or Harmonicraft-era Torche. I'd like to hear more psychedelic elements interspersed throughout the track, as they're mainly relegated to the intro and outro, and I feel this differentiation would help the track to better justify its four minute runtime. That being said, it hearkens to the appeal of getting a few friends together and rocking in the garage; in capturing that vibe, it's a roaring success.

Links
The I IV V 2 - "Standing in the Sun" (Soundcloud)
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Crackberry - "CA$H"




Swathes of mutilated vocal samples twist into airy, angelic harmonies, providing a soft chorus which floats (especially at 1:30, a beautiful highlight within the track) above calculated, melodic bass plucks and drums which twitch in and out, reverse effects sprinkled throughout, lending the track its own alien pulse. Meanwhile, foley sound effects provide additional texture, crackling and popping like layered accents to the other percussive elements. Dreamy and ethereal downtempo, this track blends lush melodic instrumentation with a slightly ominous bass and rhythm section, providing a soundscape which, while soothing to listen to, always feels eerie, ominous, as if the listener is beckoned to wander the foreign landscape depicted on the track's cover art.

Links
Crackberry - "CA$H" (Soundcloud)
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JallieD De Naranja - "Feeling Lost"




A mellow lo-fi hiphop beat which, though it may not innovate from other tracks in the genre, is still quite pleasing in its own right. Your standard elements are here: a pop-culture clip, samples of notes sprinkled across a soft piano, a downtempo boom-bap beat; rinse, repeat. That being said, the piano sample (a jazz rendition of "Alice in Wonderland") is used well, offering a relaxing melody which effectively conveys the melancholic whimsy of feeling lost - though "wandering" may be more accurate. The instrumental is accompanied by the sounds of rainfall, making this perfect background music for a quiet evening in. Or, you know, that YouTube playlist.

Links
JallieD De Naranja - "Feeling Lost" (Soundcloud)
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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

tolo the grandpa - "in my head"


This could be my shortest review: melancholy lo-fi dreampop. You already know how this song sounds.

But now I need to convince you that I mean that in the most endearing way possible. It's a moody love song, and judging by the video, written by a young musician. We see them goofing off, having fun, making the most of a video shoot with a nonexistent budget. It is music borne of young hearts in their prime, feeling and living, not yet jaded enough to drag the feeling through years of experience, obscuring it. Instead, piss into the wind; moan into a microphone. This is music that feels like the warm blanket of young love. Did this track need to be five minutes long, and did there need to be a bridge with a chugging electric guitar? No, but both those elements are there, and that's not expert songwriting - it's something better. It's a genuine look into tolo the grandpa's head, and it's a good place to be.



Links
tolo the grandpa - "in my head" (YouTube)
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Secret Knives - "Snuff"




Indie rock with some light shoegaze elements, "Snuff" is pure sugar, nearly bordering on Passion Pit levels of glossy, pop exuberance (and the similarity in vocals doesn't hurt, either). Perhaps that's why there's something slightly silly about the noisy solo around 1:47, the chattering sputters straying a bit too far and for a bit too long, but darn it, it's fun. It's moments like these, along with the swaying reversed guitar leads, which provide gravitas to the soaring choruses, loaded with the chimes of arpeggios, vocal chorales, and even a horn section. This song shines, bright and unwavering in its need to feel good, even as, following the mirth of the final chorus, it waves goodbye with a tender and sparkling outro: a final meditation on a beautiful day.

Links
Secret Knives - "Snuff" (Soundcloud)
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Matija Mikovic - "Fragile Canvas"


A unique sound collage which blends an array of tones and atmospheres, from acoustic to ambient, from electronic to otherworldly. Some of the sounds are as familiar and immediate as the rattling of wind chimes, while others wander and stray, distant soundscapes intersecting with our own plane. A freely moving track falling somewhere between ambient and world music, "Fragile Canvas" uses creative sound design to create an immersive multidimensional stage for the listener. Fragmented hand-percussion is accompanied by snarling synthesizers, until a sudden boom of bass erupts, like a whale bellowing from deep beneath the surface; soon, quiet, and the water is still again. The images conjured will vary per listener, challenging them to find something for themselves from this world Matija Mikovic has allowed to spill forth; a trait emblematic of the cover art, also created by Mikovic, which he claims, "effectively shows the chaotic nature of the release and turbulent period Matija was going through while composing."

"Fragile Canvas" is the first track from Fragile Canvas, scheduled for release on January 21, 2020.



Links
Matija Mikovic - "Fragile Canvas" (YouTube)
Matija Mikovic - Fragile Canvas (YouTube)
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Sivent - "Straight Ahead"




Soothing, smooth; "Straight Ahead" is a pleasant instrumental electronica track whose brevity speaks to its own title. This is a song which constantly drives forward, introducing new elements in a linear fashion, new percussive elements entering with eight-bar regularity as the track's main melody continues. Though the song's structure is straightforward, it works well for a brief track such as this. The variation in production techniques, combined with the song's calming atmosphere and thumping kick pattern, keep things interesting enough to be enjoyable. It's over in a flash, perhaps appropriately so, and on we move ahead, smiling to have crossed paths.

Links
Sivent - "Straight Ahead" (Soundcloud)
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Monday, December 16, 2019

mackenzie nine - "Shards in a Bag"




With the unassuming self-description of "me and my instruments and iPhone recorder," mackenzie nine is upfront: these tracks are bare, but pure - a songwriter interested in capturing honest expression. You can hear where these songs were written; can see the rooms they're from. Each track consists of nine's vocals, consistently triumphant, bodied, and warm; accompanied by a single instrument, the chords at times hesitantly poking through background noise and hum. The latest, "Shards in a Bag," shows nine has refined her craft to be more concise, balancing pop melody and heartfelt lyricism.

Though the latest tracks have the cleanest production (and, in turn, the most accurate depiction of nine's prowess), there are highlights throughout the discography which are as varied as the genres and moods captured. "Who+Am+I" features nine showcasing her vocal range, more consistent and assured than her earlier works, with huge melodic runs lending themselves to the pleading, questioning hook, "Who am I?" Though folk roots shine throughout most tracks, there's also the melancholy, wounded piano ballad, "I Wanna Know It All Xx," and the ukelele-led, religion-critical "I Am Eve," with the wonderful lyric, "When one day a Snake came up to me, saying, 'Do you ever wonder why Adam came first and God made you to satisfy his thirst?" Throughout, nine's output showcases a diverse musician exploring the art form with increasing success.

Links
mackenzie nine - "Shards in a Bag" (Soundcloud)
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Kida Kira - "Angels Over Victoria Harbor Part II: Air"


Part electronic single, part political public service announcement, "Angels Over Victoria Harbor Part II: Air" is an important audio-visual experience created by musician and auteur Kida Kira. Over the course of five minutes, Kida Kira provides viewers with "a brief chronology of the [Hong Kong protest] frontlines from September to November." The video features informative textual captions alongside layered footage from the protests, captured by Ai Wei Wei and his field team, juxtaposed against more abstract snippets of volcanic footage, provided by Art Carter, and a bouncing, nuanced electronic dance track. The resulting combination is a compelling glimpse into the horrific mania occurring in Hong Kong, propelled by a musical score which is both beautiful and, even without the accompanying footage, rich in its eerie glimmer. Highlights include the moments where the two mediums blend together, such as with the synchronized gun shot at 3:06, strengthening the pathos of both the footage and the music; another involves the haunting vocal chops in the latter-half of the track, like angels mourning the fall. An urgent and compelling single which hints at an unsurprisingly strong second EP from Kida Kira.

"Angels Over Victoria Harbor Part II: Air" is a track from the upcoming SIU (YEAH).




Links
Kida Kira - "Angels Over Victoria Harbor Part II" (YouTube)
Companion Literature 
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GRAVELLE - "Touch Me"




As sinister as it is seductive, "Touch Me" is an industrial whirlwind, equal parts post-punk and techno; fans of Nine Inch Nails will feel right at home. The track opens with a catchy synth loop, a steady kick and snare combo, and the goth-chic croons of dual vocalists, whispering sweet nothings. However, "Touch Me" doesn't want the listener to be comfortable: it wants the listener to dance, no matter what else goes on around it. As such, walls of distortion weave in and out over rich synths; the bridge at 2:23 in particular shows the strength of the hook and the production's tonal richness. All, of course, before devolving into a wall of sound, the repeated vocal "a-ha's" once more disarming the listener. This is the soundtrack to the seedy underbelly - do you feel guilty for dancing?

"Touch Me" is the third song on Liquid Skin.

Links
GRAVELLE - "Touch Me" (Soundcloud)
GRAVELLE - Liquid Skin (Link)
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Creature Quiet - "All of These Things I Do"




A delicate psychedelic exploration, "All of These Things I Do" blurs washed-out Animal Collective-esque vocal pleas atop a catchy, ambient pop track. With booming drums guiding a swirling pool of reverb-drenched synth pads and layered vocals, the song is filled with hidden joys (the exuberant bursts of vocals at 2:14, 2:22) which add further depth to its main hooks. It's a wonderfully feel-good track, one which feels warm and earnest even through the haze. When Creature Quiet sings, "All of these things I do. I do them because of you. I hope you know it's true," the feeling manifests itself within the listener, lingering long after the final, otherworldly swells and waves fade away. A pleasant surprise, and one of my favorite tracks that I've stumbled upon recently.

Links
Creature Quiet - "All of These Things I Do" (Soundcloud)
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TESIFA IKEA - "◄◄◄ V Λ N D Λ LIZ Σ ►►►"




A sputtering sound collage of distorted snips of percussion and detuned vocal chops, TESIFA IKEA - "◄◄◄ V Λ N D Λ LIZ Σ ►►►" resembles the sounds of a computer being destroyed in the center of a dance floor. At times, it is beautiful. There are compelling moments, like when the main progression gives way to a sweeping rhythmic change at 1:38, allowing the track some short gasps of breath; otherwise, the melodies are a bit too sporadic, and the main hook didn't grip me. An animated and interesting track, featuring creative programming and chops, its grand sound design and unique use of rhythm is unfortunately hindered by a disjointed melodic section.

Links
TESIFA IKEA - "◄◄◄ V Λ N D Λ LIZ Σ ►►►"
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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Saunimon - "Emerald Pools"




Led by a hypnotic break beat, "Emerald Pools" shimmers with ambient pads and stuttering, glitchy drum fills. It's a brief track from the middle of Saunimon's latest EP, Quiche, and offers us a glance at a hazy sound which comes and goes like one of its own synth waves. This is a rich track defined by its depth, wonderful textures throbbing and pulsating throughout; this is ambient electronica showcasing warm, layered and nuanced sound design. "Hang Gliders" is another high point from the EP, with distant, ethereal synths whispering to one another in joyous tones which seemingly part the clouds.

"Emerald Pools" is the third song on Quiche.

Links
Saunimon - "Emerald Pools" (Soundcloud)
Saunimon - Quiche (Bandcamp)
Saunimon - Quiche (Soundcloud)
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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Bug - Triptych_02




From the artist:
The Triptych series includes a selection of tracks that mark various experiments and vignettes written and recorded over the course of 2019. The second EP in the series, Triptych_02, consists of five "low budget pop songs" that are each two minutes in length. Through its ten minute runtime, Triptych_02 incorporates the sounds of lo-fi chillhop, bedroom pop, electronic listening music, and more.

Links
Bug - "uniform" (Soundcloud)
Bug - Experimental Bug House: Triptych_02 (Bandcamp)
Bug - Experimental Bug House: Tripytch_02 (Soundcloud)

Disclaimer: This artist is affiliated with this blog.
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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Imp of Perverse - "Despair Puff"




Sometimes a track hits you in just the right way: you love it enough to listen again and again, enough so that you need to plug in to a louder set of speakers just to hear it rip. "Despair Puff" is that song. Psychedelic melodies and lethargic vocals swirl over jagged rhythms, equal parts noisy and beautiful, groovy, and infinitely danceable. It's a pop song with a flavor for the weird, unafraid to get noisy; it's a rock song unafraid to embrace its hooks. My one knock is the fade-out ending, as it feels like a lackluster conclusion to what is otherwise a tightly-knit and energetic jam. But don't let that dissuade you. Go on and turn it up; let your neighbors hear this.



Links
Imp of Perverse - "Despair Puff" (Bandcamp)
Imp of Perverse - "Despair Puff" (Soundcloud)
Imp of Perverse - "Despair Puff" (YouTube)
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Phillip Alexander Nugent - "Girl in London"


A lovestruck singer-songwriter ballad with melodic similarities to Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," albeit more reserved, Phillip Alexander Nugent's "Girl in London" is earnest, though a bit cliché, as tender ballads tend to skew. However, it's endearing in the way that only songs written for another person can be; you can see this being written, can hear it being nervously sung for a timid crush. This is the softest and most stripped-down of Nugent's tracks on his self-titled, and it sits comfortably between the idyllic twinkling of "Stargazers" and the more raucous twang of "Love in the Mountains." A pleasant tune which lends itself toward further exploration of Nugent's discography.

"Girl in London" is the fourth track on Phillip Alexander Nugent.



Links
Phillip Alexander Nugent - "Girl in London" (Spotify)
Phillip Alexander Nugent - Phillip Alexander Nugent (Spotify)
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tunnel traffic - "Skip"




"Skip" pushes forward with slow, deliberate movements. Plodding palm-muted guitar harmonies occasionally escaping into winding, bent notes; occasionally unfurling into bursts of gnarled distortion; and, occasionally, such as 1:38, allowing glimpses of a climax to reveal itself. However, that climax never comes to fruition. As vocalist Jacky Muñoz reveals, that's the point:

Please don't play that song
It's a shame that
it brings suddenly loose ends
I have to pick at
This is tastefully embodied by the slow, methodic instrumentation which refuses to play the song you expect to hear; this is a song which revels in its ability to reveal loose ends, pick at them, and leave them be. Aside from the tempered instrumentation, Muñoz's vocal performance is a highlight of the track: soaring, emotional, and defiant.

"Skip" is the sixth song on Age of Convictions.

Links
tunnel traffic - "Skip" (Soundcloud)
tunnel traffic - "Skip" (Spotify)
tunnel traffic - Age of Convictions (Spotify)

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Floral Shop - "ISO"




Indie rock which follows the trend of upbeat instrumentation with melancholy lyrics; if I didn't know any better, you'd be hard-pressed to convince me this isn't a Real Estate b-side. The guitars glitter throughout, and the vocal melodies are appropriately sullen. However, the track's highlights stem from its remarkably tight bass groove, as well as from the song's quieter, more contemplative moments: the repeated, droning chants begging, "How long?"; the subdued, thumping bridge at 1:50; and the eerie wonder of the vocal chorale in the song's conclusion.

Links
Floral Shop - "ISO" (Soundcloud)
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丹呂丹几句凵し丹 - "Vulcan Rose" (Mix by Varboska)




A soothing pop ballad with airy, ethereal vocals not unlike those of Grimes' Claire Boucher, though the instrumentation and melodies here are more straightforward and subtle. "Vulcan Rose" is an enchanting track for which I grew fonder with each repeated listen. While the initial keyboard tones and background vocal chants didn't immediately hook me, the strength and allure of the main vocal performance drew me back in again and again. In particular, the bridge around 1:45, stripped to the track's bare essentials of sparse piano chords and a vocal hook, is especially beautiful, and the song continues to captive from this point forward.

Links
丹呂丹几句凵し丹 - "Vulcan Rose" (Mix by Varboska) (Soundcloud)
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slug's womb - "(only u)"





Simple, short, and effective, "(only u)" is a tender bedroom pop song which feels like a lost stray from Orchid Tapes' seminal Boring Ecstasy compilation. Delicate vocals, lathered in reverb, repeatedly croon, "Only you / only you," accompanied by blown-out piano chords (ever-popular in the genre) and a simple drum pattern. The track doesn't introduce any bold new ideas, doesn't go anywhere with its sonic territory, but it doesn't need to:

Because when I sleep
there's only you
when I work hard
I think of you
and if I tried to forget you
it don't work:
there's only you.
Sometimes, that's all there needs to be.

Links
slug's womb - "(only u)" (Soundcloud)
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August Aghast - "Bread & Roses"




Tranquil and lovely, "Bread & Roses" is a baroque pop song which features blissful melodies spread across flute, piano, harps, and more. This is truly serene material: one can almost hear the calls of birds cooing peacefully over the instrumentation; one can almost visualize the Olde English countryside sprawling in front of them. However, the abrupt transition at 1:30 doesn't sit right with me, and while I appreciate how the track develops from this point forward, the initial shift is jarring in the context of the rest of the song's peaceful structure. That aside, the track quickly bounces back and manages to retain its beauty throughout.

Links
August Aghast - "Bread & Roses" (Soundcloud)
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a c u e s c e - "A Moderately Ugly Bonfire"




Here's a fun one: rife with texture and fantastic sound design, a c u e s c e's "A Moderate Ugly Bonfire" is a sprawling ambient track which harkens back to the rich, layered sound of plunderphonics wizards The Avalanches as much as it does to traditional IDM artists. This track is remarkable in that it is able to strike a balance between functioning effectively as ambient background sound as well as providing consistent depth and interesting nuance for those who prefer to sit and listen more closely. IDM music was first birthed with Warp Records' seminal Artificial Intelligence compilation, which bore a subtitle applicable directly to this track: "electronic listening music." Grab a seat and close your eyes.

Links
a c u e s c e - A Moderately Ugly Bonfire (Soundcloud)
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Monday, December 9, 2019

Memoryhook - "Dislike"




Delightfully honest and analogue, the entirety of Memoryhook's latest bedroom pop EP, Childhood, was recorded without the use of software sounds or effects. The result is a warm collection of lo-fi dream-pop songs featuring jangly and reverb-laden electric guitars swooning over soft synth swells and the consistent rhythmic patter of drum machines, all while Memoryhook sings, pained and pleading. "Dislike" is dark and atmospheric, with nuanced details hiding in the background of the track, appearing and disappearing like childhood memories - see the bridge at 1:38 for an example of the subtle electronic sputters and an eerie vocal choir supplementing the remainder of the track. Though the tracks can often feel defeated, they are still comforting and peaceful.

"Dislike" is the second song on Childhood.

Links
Memoryhook - "Dislike" (Soundcloud)
Memoryhook - Childhood (Bandcamp)
Memoryhook - Childhood (Soundcloud)
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Cassettes have become extinct - "Hide Me in Your Backyard"




A pleasant ambient track with minimal percussive elements providing distant rhythmic backdrop for the ensemble of synth pad swells which glide over the listener. One highlight in particular involves the high-pitched chimes that enter at 1:30, a series of ethereal plucks from an angelic choir which introduces the second movement of the track. This section embraces ambiance, dropping the majority of the percussive elements and instead focusing on drifting melodies. These three minutes float by in no time, and the track would benefit from doubling its runtime; even in the outro, we can hear the introduction of scattered glitch elements which would breathe new life into the track - if only it were willing to stay with us.

Links
Cassettes have become extinct - "Hide Me in Your Backyard" (Soundcloud)
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In the bottling room - "i feel"




Following a snippet of a soulful chorale, stretched vocal samples sputter over a scattered drum beat as melodies glitch inside and out; this is eccentric and blissed-out downtempo in the tradition of Clams Casino or Shlohmo. The main vocal sample is sliced in a number of ways to provide a nuanced and layered symphony. However, the track does possess a demo quality to it, as there isn't much development that occurs, and it ends rather abruptly. A fascinating glimpse with a lot of potential, this is a compelling vignette worth the listener's attention, but also worth revisiting for additional development from the artist.

Links
In the bottling room - "i feel" (Soundcloud)
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idiot mitten - "Darlin'"




Delightfully strange, "Darlin'" combines the serene acoustics of fingerpicked guitar plucks and orchestral strings with crackling vocoded singing. The song is particularly blissful when it opens up with additional strings at 0:40, as idiot mitten sings:

"I'll never do what you say I'd do
that I would leave this home for somewhere new
I'd lay down over thorns for you
if you'd just please believe in me."
A tender love song with a unique vocal flair, "Darlin'" teases the brief warmth of a fleeting summer romance. It's over in a flash, but entirely deserving of repeated listens.

Links
idiot mitten - "Darlin'" (Soundcloud)

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Fritz & Simone - "Facade"


A somber duet, "Facade" sets the tone with a sparkling guitar melody, followed by a simple but booming drum pattern reminiscent of turn of the 21st century trip hop. Fritz & Simone swap their sung exchanges, complementing each other's voices beautifully with echoing counterpoint. They join each other to sing the final chorus, singing: "My roots can't grow if I don't sow the beet / my fear of living incomplete / the ground drops beneath my feet / think of settling and reignite the fading dream." This is punctuated by a mangled fuzz guitar that riffs across the remainder of the track. The entire piece is haunting and tinged with a sadness that is not only shared by Fritz & Simone, but laid bare for the listener, too, encouraging you to feel just as they do.

"Facade" is the second song on Waiting Room.




Links
Fritz & Simone - "Facade" (Spotify)
Fritz & Simone - Waiting Room (Spotify)
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High on kola - "Rush bit"


Chiptune melodies dance over a four-on-the-floor drum pattern, resulting in a catchy tune befitting an action-packed dance-off versus a dungeon boss. The tones sound authentic to the bleeps of game consoles of yesteryear, but the tune does little more to stray from the standard chiptune sound. For genre enthusiasts, this will be right up their alley, but the tones may be too abrasive for the average dance listener. Regardless, the melodies are composed well, and the track remains interesting throughout.


Links
High on kola - "Rush bit" (Spotify)
High on kola - Alpha Beata Gamma (Spotify)
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Space Chimney - "08 System Bonanza"


A warm and serendipitous track which embellishes the typical synthwave sound with detuned chord dives which wouldn't sound out of place amidst the more ambient washes of bands like My Blood Valentine, "08 System Bonanza" is both retro and futuristic, providing you with feelings of nostalgia for a place you've never been. The haziness of the track lulls the listener in, encompassing them in a blissful and comforting sonic blanket. As such, the ominous and noisy tones in the bridge (1:25-1:45) feel especially jarring, contrasting with the peaceful beauty of the rest of the track, but this is a minor detraction from an otherwise lovely piece.



Links
Space Chimney - "08 System Bonanza" (Spotify)
Space Chimney - "08 System Bonanza" (YouTube)
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Michael Wadlow - "Christmas Day"


With an uncertain vocal waver reminiscent of similar heart-on-the-sleeve songwriters such as Conor Oberst, Michael Wadlow croons another earnest ballad of heartache and longing. The highlight of the song comes from the heartfelt chorus, where Wadlow sings, "And we watched the snow fall / If this is love / then I have never loved before / so please stay / at least until Christmas day." Despite the melancholic lyrics, it is a pleasant and heartwarming affair all around, with the guitar lead played during the bridge effectively calling to mind a day spent by the fireplace, staring out at the snow fall, a warm drink in hand and a warmer body beside you. The best songwriters invite you to feel comforted by their anguish, or at least to be able to relate to it; Wadlow succeeds on both fronts.



Links
Michael Wadlow - "Christmas Day" (Spotify)
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Hugo Marsh - "Lunula"




A drum & bass track with alternative rock roots, "Lunula" opens with mid-tempo palm-muted electric guitar chugs guided by a smooth lead line and complementary piano chords. The track quickly picks up tempo around 0:45 with the introduction of a fast-paced drum break, which serves as the basis for the remainder of the song. It's high energy and a lot of fun, though the lead guitar tone loses its appeal for me about half way through the track. While the playing is smooth, I can't help but wish the tone was either softer, or blanketed in more reverb, or on the opposite end of the spectrum and drenched in dirt. That being said, this is catchy and upbeat, and it'll be interesting to see Hugo Marsh further develop this sound.

Links
Hugo Marsh - "Lunula" (Soundcloud)
Hugo Marsh - "Lunula" (Spotify)
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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sumdeus - "Space Mobbin'"


At one point amidst the barrage of wailing psych rock guitar solos and screaming organs, Sumdeus promise the listener can, "Travel the Spaceways / to Venus or Mars / Go out to Saturn / see Sun Ra." After hearing the interplanetary second, or third - who's counting? - guitar solo, I'm inclined they have the means to do so, and I'm all aboard for this journey. You generally know what you're getting into when a band has lyrics that reference King Crimson, and Sumdeus do not disappoint. This is a fun and rocking track which fires on all cylinders, full of energy and wonder, showcasing a band playing in comfortable harmony and encouraging the listener to jam along.



Links
Sumdeus - "Space Mobbin'" (Bandcamp)
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street silence - "Snotglock"




Raw and primal, as compelling as it is caustic, "Snotglock" embraces the classic krautrock drumbeat of genre pioneers such as Neu! and adorns it with a slab of distorted guitars. There is beauty to the dissonance in the same way that Sonic Youth could pull harmonies from waves of fuzz; similarly, this track is as lovely as it is foreboding and ominous. A highlight includes the sporadic clean melodies that poke through the distorted waves around 3:40, which provide a pleasant contrast to the relentless nature of the rest of the track; I wish we heard more of this before the track concludes.

Links
street silence - "Snotglock" (Soundcloud)
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crest of the syndicate - "Morning Break"




Sprawling experimental electronica which deftly combines the lovely natural call of birdsongs with ambient synth swells and sputtering, glitchy percussion, "Morning Break" is at once meditative and engaging, following the Brian Eno school of ambiance: "as ignorable as it is interesting." The track rests midway through, with the drums momentarily falling back to allow the space for a call-and-response between a deep bass and distant synth echoes. Everything comes together once more around the three minute mark, with the track's melodic climax a minute later serving as the highlight of experience. The erratic bursts of synths serve as a wonderful and cathartic contrast to the quiet ambience that led to it, all the while maintaining a warm, peaceful vibe.

Links
crest of the syndicate - "Morning Break" (Soundcloud)
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fax machine - "Stalin"




An ambient track of overdriven piano melodies struggling against static crackles of field recordings and the voices of children, "Stalin" sounds wounded, with the loveliness of its melodies having been dragged through mire and left feeling like the struggling call of a broken music box, quietly crooning to a world passing it by. It sounds like the scraps of a classical piano composition lost in time, or if Daniel Rosenfeld's work as C418 had fallen apart and been put together again. This somber playing continues until the introduction of a second, more confident, and more defiant piano at 1:18, which lifts the track into a cautious, beautiful optimism, before it all slips away once more.

"Stalin" is the tenth track on Soup.

Links
fax machine - "Stalin" (Soundcloud)
fax machine - Soup (Soundcloud)
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Anna S - "Carry On"




A brief acoustic excursion, "Carry On" could perhaps be described as an étude, as nimble fingerpicking and alternating rhythms sparkle against the faint lo-fi hiss of white noise in the background. Like many of Anna S' other tracks, it's over almost as quickly as it begins; however, the track's minute runtime is used expertly, with the explored melodies feeling complete enough for us to listen, appreciate, and, as the title suggests, carry on. A beautiful and wistful vignette which beseeches further listening.

Links
Anna S - "Carry On" (Soundcloud)
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Snatch the Snail - "Closing In"


With a simple guitar riff quickly giving way to wavering tremolo and fuzz, "Closing In" is a treat of slowly meandering psych rock which effectively introduces the remainder of Snatch the Snail's Incoming Unknown album. When they sing, "Here it comes / closing in / engulfed / it's intense," it's easy to imagine they're alluding to their own brand of droning and distorted rock. Though it's not the strongest track on the album, "Closing In" is a comforting first step into the band's sound, while the second track, "Knock off the Knockoffs," doubles down on the distorted, chugging rhythms and lethargic vocals. It's slacker rock with psych elements; it doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's a lot of fun.

"Closing In" is the first song on Incoming Unknown.


Links
Snatch the Snail - "Closing In" (Bandcamp)
Snatch the Snail - Incoming Unknown (Bandcamp)
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Blonde Toledo - "Little Miss Krissy"


Pitched as "Mambo Rock with a Klezmer Twist," Blonde Toledo's "Little Miss Krissy," the opening track on their latest album, Eclecticide, is wonderfully creative and replete with a variety of influences and flavors. Melodies abound over shuffling Latin rhythms and a strong bassline, with catchy, bleating horns providing the song's main hook, trading spaces with a smoky vocal before making way for a dynamic electric guitar solo at the three-minute mark. It strikes a great balance and serves as a great lead-in to the instrumental follow-up track, "Phantom," which, though just as groovy, ramps up the rock factor. This is music befitting an evening of impassioned dancing at a blue's club; smooth, sexy, and meant to make you move.

"Little Miss Krissy" is the first track on Eclecticide.



Links
Blonde Toledo - "Little Miss Krissy" (Bandcamp)
Blonde Toledo - "Little Miss Krissy" (Spotify)
Blonde Toledo - Eclecticide (Bandcamp)
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Burr - "Deep Dive"


A promising debut single, Burr's "Deep Dive" blends beautiful, melancholic vocals with sparse, staccato acoustic guitar plucks and a deep bass and kick. The disparity between the soft acoustic and the thumping bass provides a lovely contrast, and the track adds further flourishes with electric guitar riffs reminiscent of early Ratatat - while it would be nice to hear more of these, the current production is tasteful and befitting of the song's pop focus. Burr's vocals don't present a great amount of range, but the pensiveness works here, and the melodies are soothing. Catchy and clean, it's easy to continually dive back into this track.



Links
Burr - "Deep Dive" (Spotify)
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CATDADDY - "Watching People Dancing"




A pleasant slice of synth-pop, "Watching People Dancing" posits hazy synth melodies over a steady drum beat and layered vocal melodies. The vocals are the main strength of the track, with soft "do-do-do"s providing a lethargic chorus in the background of the rueful lead lyric: "You and me / at a party / watching everyone dancing / it's cathartic." This lead displaces the listener; you have a memory of the party that CATDADDY sings about, whether or not you've ever really been there. Some of the tones selected betray the distantly nostalgic atmosphere of the track; for example, the synth that enters around 2:10 has a crisp and triumphant timbre to it, unlike the reverb-laden lead around 3:40. The track is at is best when it fully embraces its plaintive dreaminess; fortunately, this atmosphere abounds throughout.

Links
CATDADDY - "Watching People Dancing" (Soundcloud)
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instupendo - "Pinch" (aiwake Remix)




Instupendo's original version of "Pinch" veils a pop song somewhere amidst a cloudy dreamscape, sparse melodies flickering about as a bouncing sub kick pushes the listener through the wash of textures. aiwake's remix reimagines the track with a new focus on airy vocal chops and a straightforward dance drum pattern. This take maintains the soft and ethereal nature of the original, but places it within the context of a more traditional pop arrangement. Like the original, the highlight of the song is in its cathartic climax, erupting at the two-minute mark with a blissful wall of synth pads and layered vocal harmonies. A beautiful track which suffers from the same plight as the original - it's over too soon.

"Pinch" was originally released as track four on Boys by Girls.

Links
instupendo - "Pinch" (Soundcloud)
instupendo - "Pinch" (aiwake Remix) (Spotify)
instupendo - Boys by Girls (Spotify)
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Friday, December 6, 2019

oNixu - "shattered glass"




A brief outrun-inspired synthwave track, "shattered glass" blends a retro synth melody - which, admittedly rings a bit too close to a downtempo take on the Stranger Things theme song - with minimalist drums and thick bass swells. Appropriately '80s, the selected tones are pleasant, but it would be nice to hear this track develop further; it ends before it can truly begin, a trait which is reflected by the final notes being abruptly cut short. oNixu claims this EP is a new venture, so perhaps future tracks will be more daring and will stray into more creative territories. 

"shattered glass" is the second track on THE FUTURE IS NOW.

Links
oNixu - "shattered glass" (Soundcloud)
oNixu - THE FUTURE IS NOW
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Lee Stoner - "Timeless"


Heady wall-of-sound rap in the same vein as Aesop Rock or Atmosphere's Slug, Lee Stoner eschews the autotuned melodies and short-form hooks so prevalent amongst his contemporaries in favor of constructing a detailed narrative regarding time travel and the pursuit of music. Lee wastes no time over the course of the track's four minutes, barely pausing to catch his breath before continuing with an increasingly complex story and rhymes with as many layers as they have syllables. It's often as humorous as it is engaging - "I didn't become a leaper / just to risk my visa / and watch you smoke reefer / like a paraplegic Wiz Khalifa." Creative, forward-thinking, and relentlessly positive.



Links
Lee Stoner - "Timeless" (YouTube)
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Halcyon Fields - "Black Maps of Light"




An alternative rock jam that constantly pushes forward, "Black Maps of Light" opens with crunchy, methodically crushing chords befitting of space-rock genre stalwarts Hum; a moment later and with a jump in tempo, we are propelled along by fast, staccato rhythms and riffs guided by alt-pop vocals seemingly lifted from early '00s indie rock. The song is structurally dense - there's a lot going on, especially with the three intertwining guitars. At its worst, this results in a wall of sound that is muddy and difficult to decipher; however, at its best, we hear wonderful traces of angular melodies complementing one another even whilst dueling. Highlights include the falsetto vocals during the song's midsection and, of course, the bevy of riffs sprinkled throughout - if nothing else, it is consistently interesting.

Links
Halcyon Fields - "Black Maps of Light" (Soundcloud)
Halcyon Fields - "Black Maps of Light" (Spotify)
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myall auer - "Fantasy"




"Fantasy" drifts along, wistful and dreamlike, a softly swinging drum beat carrying blithe piano chords and synth pads. The vocals carry the performance, the timbre drained and longing, further permeating the sense of foreboding hinted throughout the track. The composition's greatest strengths are in its subtleties, such as the scatted backing melodies around 3:20, and in the locked groove established between the bass and the drums. It is difficult to effectively communicate heartache without relying on lyrical cliches, a symptom to which, at times, Auer also falls victim. However, the tonality of the track successfully embodies its dreary central theme: "Everybody hurts sometimes / all we can do is keep on moving."

Links
myall auer - "Fantasy" (Soundcloud)
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Bug - Triptych_01




From the artist:
The Triptych series includes a selection of tracks that mark various experiments and vignettes written and recorded over the course of 2019. The first EP in the series, Triptych_01, features seven tracks exploring sampling, electronic production, and ambient soundscapes. It is a pastiche which intends to capture fleeting glimpses of beauty like fond, hazy memories.

Links
Bug - "sorry 2 bother u" (Soundcloud)
Bug - Experimental Bug House: Triptych_01 (Bandcamp)
Bug - Experimental Bug House: Tripytch_01 (Soundcloud)

Disclaimer: This artist is affiliated with this blog.
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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Elk Bird - "Moloko Plus"


A beautiful excursion; an auditory stroll through the woods. If this is an expansion of nature, then it is a guide into a foreign landscape, one which shifts unexpectedly, but one which is rooted in benevolence. There is peace to be found at the heart of the mangled vocal chops and flitting melodies here. The consistent drum loop which serves as the backbone for this track may be simple, but it establishes a formidable groove, lulling the listener into melancholic reflection until it abruptly cuts out at the four minute mark and rainfall momentarily takes over, establishing a second movement in the piece. From this point onwards is where the track truly shines, with the most beautiful of its melodies revealing themselves to the patient listener. My sole complaint is the manner in which different instruments are introduced prior to this second half - the track relies a bit too heavily on abrupt entrances and bursts of sound. It is at its best when it gently suggests movement, allowing the waves to wash over the listener.

"Moloko Plus" is the third track on Nature Expansion Pack.




Links
Elk Bird - "Moloko Plus" (Bandcamp)
Elk Bird - Nature Expansion Pack (Bandcamp)
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