Friday, 27 November 2015


  •                          The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
  •                          Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
  •                          Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
  •                          Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it

This is what sprang to mind when I began writing this post. It is the Quatrain 51 from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, a translation by Edward FitzGerald of poems by Persian poet/mathematician/astronomer Omar Khayyám. Something about it relates both to the track which is the subject of this post and also to the long, desolate and pointless hiatus of YES/NO these past weeks.

'Highway Of Bygone Minds' is by a Belfast-based producer CM88 (irl: Charles Mullan). He's originally from Limavady which amongst other things is famous for being the place where the tune for 'Danny Boy' ('Londonderry Air') was collected from a fiddle player in the mid-19th century. But this is all beside the point. 'Highway Of Bygone Minds' as a title suggests loss, loneliness, a lament for something long fallen by the wayside: and the beautiful ambience of the music itself helps to illustrate this sentiment further.

Beginning with the sound of cars streaming up and down a road, the undulating synth at the heart of this track rises up like an all-encompassing fog, rolling along unrelentingly until it meets a steady, lightly bouncy, gradually more-and-more shuffling beat with ticking hi-hats that drives it onwards. Screaming distorted abrasions of synth lance out of the dank mind-melting fog like lightning from clouds, occasional ornamentations in the form of chimes ringing out like something half-forgotten at the back of the mind. It's a slice of intense, living-and-breathing electronica that reminded me of something Jon Hopkins might make.

The mood is wholly and wonderfully elegaic, almost triumphally so, conjuring stretched-out landscapes hemmed in by iron-coloured clouds, heavy monochrome days, endless rain; the condensation of inside blurring the drowned world outside the window. Bass booms and grinds, thickening the inescapable hubbub of the track, robust, more concrete patterns taking shape from the initial, thinner sweeps of sharpened noise that cuts through your mind. This is a huge Turner-esque oil painting, stamping and storming as much as it bursting with sadness to such a degree that it has become vague, indistinct.

  • You can download the track from CM88's Bandcamp.
  • It's taken from an upcoming EP called V which will arrive in January 2016.

CM88 Social Media Presence ☟

Friday, 16 October 2015


If you waltz away from this song without feeling even a tiny bit of emotion – ok, even if you can discern the emotion in this, that's ok – but if you can't feel or detect a single thing either after or during listening to this… well, I don't know what to say.

It's not that this is dripping with obvious emotion, that it epically drops with standard sonic epithets, that it explodes with feeling. It's that it just touches the heart somewhat, and that is enough. "It", "it it it" – it is called 'I'm so glad i found u' and it is by a musicmaker called kalko who says they're from Texas, so let's go with it: Texas it is.

Anyway… 'I'm so glad i found you' is simple enough: a set of melodies, a bit of a beat. Simplicity and complexity doesn't really come into it when we're speaking about emotions – you hear, see, taste, smell, touch something and feel stuff as a result. That's how it is.

And that's how it is with the plaintive melodies of thanksgiving and innocent pleasure that swirl at the heart of this little song, which, beginning soft and muted, gradually become sharper, glittering, come into focus previously blurred, a sense of true happiness, body-warming gratitude sweeping through your soul, the skin-tingling shimmering-sun-dappled-through-bright-green-leaves feeling of utter contentment (see the artwork above; sounds like that).

Skiffly shakers and zipping hi-hats and scratchy snares and fuzzy kicks, a lo-fi beat that develops and grows as the song progresses, the sense of positivity expanding outwards and encompassing you, as you listen there from your laptop, aglow with the same feeling as kalko's track, ebbing away after saying its piece, not taking up all of your time: just stopping by to express happiness, ending beautifully.

  • Don't miss a free download of this cutely shimmering ode to warming happiness.

kalko Social Media Presence ☟

Sunday, 11 October 2015


A couple of months ago, I got an email from somebody promoting a music project of Steve Sandberg, the composer of Dora The Explorer and, by extension, Go, Diego, Go! Fast-forward to now, and I'm happy to present the following interview and guest mix from Sandberg, whose Just The Tip EP, under one of his monikers Elastic Plastic Generation recently arrived via Teknofonic.

Sandberg is a three-time Emmy-nominated composer, and besides scoring the music for Dora and Diego has also made music for educational apps by Literary Safari, toured with David Byrne and Bebel Gilberto as keyboardist, arranger and vocalist, as well as composed music for Broadway. His own music, as Elastic Plastic Generation, is self-admittedly "crazy and uninhibited," (he's placed a few of these tracks in the mix) whereas a new project under the moniker Alaya is more world-music-oriented, wherein he's crafted "music from a country I’ve never been to but always wanted to visit." He's placed

See below for an interview with Sandberg; underneath that you'll find the mix he has kindly contributed to YES/NO – it's filled with house, Motown flavours, and a sprinkling of samba, showing the musical influences at work on this musicmaker.

When did you first start making music? What inspired you?
My parents bought an upright piano for my older sister to learn on. I had a ritual - every time I passed it, I had to reach up as high as I could to touch and play a key. I must have been 2 years old then. Then I started taking classical piano lessons from a local piano teacher. I guess I just loved sound and was inspired by having an instrument that could make beautiful sounds that I could play.

How did you get to be a composer for Dora the Explorer?
Through a friend I met walking my dog in the park! She was doing some temporary sound editing for Dora before it started airing, and was in the room when the musical director quit. She called me - "Steve, this is your gig! Call this number in 5 minutes - she gave me the number of the executive producer - and tell him you're a composer." She thought I'd be right for the show because I had spent many years playing with NY salsa and Latin jazz bands, and also knew how to score to visuals.

What is it like making music for something like that?
It was a lot of fun because I had never written for a TV show before, and I actually thought I'd be really good at writing for animation. It was something I wanted to do. So I had a great time making up themes for the different characters, creating a musical palate for the show - which turned out to be a mixture of Gil Evans, classic cartoon scoring and salsa - and basically forming a whole style and vibe for the underscoring. I also worked on songs, which was more collaborative. Of course we were all very happy when the show became such a big hit and it went on for many years and spun two sequels. It becomes a bit different when you write season after season - you have to invent new things to keep yourself interested and keep it fresh.

Who are your favourite artists right now?
Me'shell Ndegeocello; Gil Scott Heron; Harry Partch; always Stevie Wonder from Music of my Mind to Fulfillingness' First Finale; Pedrito Martinez live are a few. It's hard to say because I tend to have favorite songs at this point, not favorite artists. And I love old school. Today I was really enjoying listening to Bobby Womack, If You Think You're Lonely Now.

What do you think has influenced the sound of your EP?
That EP came out of a lot of different musics that I love. To name a few:
Old School House Music
Samba Reggae
Sly Stone
Stevie Wonder's keyboards
That EP was a labor of love. I had a block of free time and just played around with my DAW and made music I thought I'd enjoy moving to. It's pretty crazy and uninhibited.

How would you describe your own music?
I actually write many different kinds of music. This project, Elastic Plastic Generation, is a kind of iconoclastic world house dance hiphop or something like that? But I also have a worldtronica project -Alaya - coming out in September on the same label, Teknofonic, that is very different - it features breath-controlled synths, my own vocals, and eclectic writing inspired by Eastern European, African, Latin, and other world musics with an electronic palate. Kinda jazzy too. You can hear excerpts on my website,

• T R A C K L I S T •

Steve Sandberg Social Media Presence ☟
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