Saturday, 30 November 2013

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE SUIT & TIE (SMOKI REMIX)

Wow I feel weird today. A mix of being slightly hungover with an added general out-of-sorts feeling, morose kinda, maybe it's something to do with the shitty weather and getting up too late so I see only a few hours of sunshine before the day turns to evening – well, I say sunshine, but it's just grey. Grey grey grey. Gets a bit stupid after a while. Bring on spring, that's I say: Bring. On. Spring.

Anyway, all that aside, here's something I've been meaning to post for a long while now. Ever since this person messaged me on SoundCloud, and I listened to their track, I thought, "This is nice!" and I've gone back to it every once in a while for a listen, always putting the actual writing-up of the track on the subconscious back-burner. Now, however, we're here. This is it. It is a remix from an artist called SMOKI of Justin Timberlake's comeback hit 'Suit & Tie'. (If you're wondering, this image is the one SMOKI picked to accompany the track – what on Earth is that animal? A sloth?)

Based in Worcester (a place in the UK; pronounced "wuss-tuh") and self-taught as a producer since August 2012, SMOKI (real name Sam Oakey) shows off what is clearly an inherent talent in this remix – either that, or he did a LOT of self-teaching. Beginning with plasma blasts of vocal sample and warm hollow synths, percussed with delayed woodblocks and clicks as well as the occasional heavily reverbed clap, we move quickly into the bounding beat with its clusters of kicks and disco hi-hat that stays with us for the rest of the song. Alongside the organ-like synths follows the beam-like bass, booming subtly from the lower depths of the track.

Stopping in all the right places for a breather, allowing for slight changes in dynamic, like the use of different vocal samples as well as busy additions to the beat - in the last third, for instance, a shaker gets added to the beat for added fidgetiness - the track is a warm and future thinking piece that takes the bright vocals of Justin Timberlake's original and puts them to use in much different surroundings. It's perfectly chilled house and it's very nice. I would like to hear an original from this guy, for sure – then again, I'd like to hear more remixes from him too. Hoorah!



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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

TABLE MUSIC MEETING & RAINBOW VALLEY AUTUMN SONGS

Something a bit different now. It's interesting because music doesn't always have to be stuff you can dance to, stuff you can sing along to, or indeed have any real intent for anything other than being a piece of music. In essence: music as music. As such, I would like to introduce a split between two acts whose distance from each other has not stopped their very pretty collaboration; Table Music Meeting, a band from Japan, and Rainbow Valley, a singular music-maker from Southend-on-Sea (UK), have teamed up to create the wonderful Autumn Songs.

Instigated by Rainbow Valley (aka Graham Boosey and owner of microlabel, Wrieuw Recordings) when he stumbled upon the music of Table Music Meeting by chance on Lastfm, the two entities agreed to each write and record a song about autumn. It's a magical time of year; despite the cold and windy weather, autumn is special for the obvious transition between warm and cold, growth and hibernation, especially in the changing leaves. So anyway, both of em did it and here we are: Autumn Songs is here.

Table Music Meeting's 'Autumn' comes first, a blustery, breezy affair that perfectly captures the atmosphere of the season. Using an assortment of instruments — clarinet, recorder, something brassy, xylophone — sounding a little like a glorious toy orchestra, the group create a jaunty melody which contains within it a certain stubbornness to accept the onset of colder weather, as well as the feeling of that slow walks people take when admiring the season's new brown, red and yellow scenery. Dissonant chords play lightly on a piano, summoning the sharp sense of losing summer's warmth, with an overall sound that directly embeds in my head images of people wrapped up warm in cafés, looking out into an increasingly desolate natural world.

The contribution from Rainbow Valley, however, is quite different. 'Spinney' (a word that means "a small area of trees and bushes", less dense than a thicket, not as tree-heavy as a copse) is for the most part an ambient field recording of some birds - particularly, I think, song thrushes - chirping away: a very autumnal sound, the sound of early evening and swift sunsets. A slow, simple electric piano melody fades in, plaintive in the midst of nature's continuation, a flow of human understanding and feelings. Soon, a glockenspiel melody floats above, alongside an old guitar playing a slow arpeggio. The sounds of rustling leaves rise up from the background recording as the original electric piano notes grow glitchy before being cut completely out of earshot. A more delicate approach, one closer to nature perhaps, than TMM's offering.

However, both summon feelings and images associated with Autumn, though in different ways, which could reflect the potentially differing ways in which autumn as a season is viewed in Japan and the UK, respectively. Instrumental music like this, stuff that has pretty much nothing to do with current trends in the modern/popular music world, continues the tradition of classical music's supposed or maybe inherent ability to paint a picture based on a theme (whether it's antiquity or nature or whatever), but also has a touch of folk sensibility to it, utilising the organic feel and sound of mostly non-electronic instruments to take you on a short but sweet musical journey.

PS. Each song has a lovely video that has been created by Rainbow Valley to accompany the release: the autumn leaves of 'Spinney' and one for Table Music Meeting's 'Autumn'.

You can pay what you like for this digitally, or order the CD and the cute artwork (from A Sparrow By Water, asparrowbywater.com) that comes with it from Wrieuw Recordings' Bandcamp.



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ELEN NEVER SLEEPS RUM EP

This is a treat. I remember reading something about Tokyo based indie singer/musician Elen Never Sleeps' SoundCloud page about his song 'Rum' being part of an EP of the same name, but I never knew when this would surface. About a month ago, ENS (as it is conveniently shortened) emailed me himself with a link to his EP - probably because I had written about the song 'Rum' a while ago. Mainly, I feel terrible that it's taken me this long to get around to writing about it. However, there is a decidedly positive undertone in my spirit as I'm listening to the Rum EP: it's really gorgeous.

Awash with nostalgia, the EP is a knowing throwback to sounds of the New Romantics, yet having been created this year, it is also dreamily modern. 'Emerald' is a good example; with glassy synth chords as a constant gentle foundation to it all, ascending bass notes and super-reverbed clean guitar twiddling in the shade, it's driven by a house beat to the very end of the song. Added to this is the distinctive voice of Kaji (the only name I can attribute to the man behind the music), a crooning style that sometimes - especially in the chorus of 'Emerald' - is overcome by wild surges of emotion, trembling yelps that perfectly evoke feeling and, in its tones, inspire a nostalgic mood.

Likewise, the minimalist retro drum machine beat of 'Saudade' (a title that shares its name with an untranslatable Portuguese word that is the state of feeling deep nostalgia for something/someone that you love) has a modern lilt to it. The wide synths here float over a sparse yet slow-funk bassline. Here, the vocals drift occasionally into falsetto as taiko drums boom with incidental, tropical drops of marimba loveliness now and again; this sound that leans towards feelings of melancholy in a supposed paradise (i.e. "The City") is conjured throughout.

No better is this demonstrated than in the pathetic fallacy of EP closer, 'The Dark Star' – backdropped with the sound of a menacing storm complete with crashes of thunder, a drum machine beat frazzles over subdued yet disco style bassline as the vocals croon a song of loneliness. Most of the song is delightfully simple, leaving the sounds to speak for themselves, making the loudly reverb-laden chorus with its dreary storm samples rather powerful. Opener and the eponymous 'Rum' (covered in more detail here) is a great start; with its jazzy, late-night feel and catchy vocal pattern, it's certainly my favourite – the muted guitar chords, the seagull-esque sounds: all perfect.

Like no other song on the EP, bouncy track 'Skyline' stays true to its title and conjures a glittering montage of a city at night: lights blinking, cars whooshing below skyscrapers. It's an upbeat 80s-indie-style tune that should inspire at least a little wiggle of your toes. The vocal harmonies in the chorus here are lovely, rich and warm, which, combined with its pop doo-doo-ing and join-in claps towards the end, makes for arguably the "happiest" song on the EP. But all in all, it's fitting that an EP about nostalgia, loneliness and love should start with rum and end in the middle of some dreadful weather. Slotting into the retroactive concept of drowning one's sorrows before taking a long walk at night, the Rum EP shines with minimalist elegance, with Elen Never Sleeps re-using some retro styles in his own unique depiction of nostalgia.

Grab the EP on a name-your-price basis over at Elen Never Sleeps' Bandcamp.



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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

DJ DJ BOOTH SKNYBDYFMYMNRRWDY [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Every now and again you stumble across something that has an unpronounceable name - it's just a damn saviour that I only exist as a person online, never have to talk or show my face, and use typing instead of vocal chords. Just imagine trying to pronounce the name of this song, yes, this song right here: 'Sknybdyfmymnrrwdy' — I mean, it probably stands for something (and actually I'm sure I can vaguely hear what it is that it stands for in the song but not unvageuly enough to actually tell you) but I dunno what it stands for. Does anybody? Probably.

In fact, I know that one person almost definitely knows what it means, and that's the creator of the song DJ DJ Booth. He's a producer, maybe from the UK but I'm not gonna say for sure because there's nothing really said. All I really know is that he has a new EP out on Activa Benz, a London record label co-created/curated by producer Slugabed; the EP is the brilliantly titled Todd Edwards Falling Down The Stairs and the innovative 'Sknybdyfmymnrrwdy' is one of the songs from the release (out yesterday/25th Nov).

Let's listen.

Tagged with "House?" it is indeed a kinda house-question-mark track — whilst supplying us with that unmistakeable syncopated hi-hat that puts everyone in mind of a house song, the thudding kicks don't feature regularly throughout the song and there's a garage lilt to some of the percussion that rattles through the song - including successions of clicks, woodblock taps, and ascending electric toms - especially the decidedly fresh snare flourishes. Replacing the typical house piano chord patterns with soft synth chords instead, he continues to decorate the track with glistening lances of lead synth, underpinning it with a sure squelch of synth bass that follows the pattern of a flute-kinda sound.

A warm song that is a lovely chaos of flavours - from house to garage and, would you Adam-and-Eve-it, trap - with white noise surf rising throughout alongside swooshing cymbals for extra dynamic; at times minimalistic, it is at other times a choppy sea of bustling noise - the low-register vocal sample, saying the actual words behind this track's title, helps to give it an attitudinal swagger that it exudes effortlessly. Blissfully nocturnal, immersive and subversive, 'Sknybdyfmymnrrwdy' pushes the sometimes singular mind of house to learn more things, forcing it to attend a night-class in creativity that sure pays off. Be safe in the knowledge that the rest of DJ DJ Booth's new Todd Edwards Falling Down The Stairs EP is just as flavourful: check out 'Ur Wastin My Time', for instance.



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Monday, 25 November 2013

PREMIERE 初演 • UMA – VANITY

Something a little bit special now. Yes, it's happened again. After the first ever premiere ever on YES/NO ever in the History of Time, another song surfaces like a new, mysterious island in a sea painted with beauteous calm. This time around it comes from Berlin two-piece, UMA. Comprised of couple-duo, Ella and Florian Zwietnig, they released a debut EP last year titled Drop Your Soul, a soothing yet menacing collection of electronic sounds, an electropop outing that sees the "pop" part of this wide genre twisted and subverted.

That characteristic of an essentially dark atmosphere carries through into this brrrand new single, 'Vanity'. Yep, it's brand new and it's out today. Arriving into your ears firstly with glittering, metallic feedback and a distorted beat made up of kicks and toms in a heart-thudding tribal-esque rhythm, we're quickly introduced into a world of mechanical iciness, a robotic aesthetic at work throughout. Plinking chords reverb in wintry succession as icicle-like synth leads glisten out of the shadowy sounds.

The vocals certainly help with the atmosphere, chanted out in an almost monotone series of rich harmonies soaring over the insectoid stutter of the hi-hats and thin snares. But it's at the beginning of the song's second half where its groove comes into place. The beat regularised now regularised and augmented with percussion, a saw-wave bassline underpins the gloomy chord progression with a pattern buzzing booms. Then, left with background noise and pretty guitar licks, the vocals return in a more understated way, crooning with a glass purity amongst the sleepily forboding sounds until the song ends.

It's an exercise in atmospheric electropop and minimalism, yet also in subtle dynamics that sees the track soaring in a wash of noises, bustling and expressing themselves alongside gloriously nonchalant vocals. Indeed, Ella - the voice of the duo - "grew up in the middle of nowhere, spending her early life studying classical music and singing in choirs" and it certainly shows in the arrangement of her vocals, and in the differing parts of the song, fitting mini-movements, mini-themes into this mini electronic symphony.

This is out TODAY as a co-release between Bad Panda Records and Seayou Records.



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METOME BLACK BLACK

Seriously. Seriously. If you don't already know about this guy, then please get to know him and listen to all his music - I mean, if you like this song, there is really no reason why you wouldn't like all of his other songs. If you do know him: share his music with everybody! Play it in your car, play it to your friends - for instance, the sounds of Metome are like, the staple of late night chilling & drinking with friends. This Japanese producer totally deserves more exposure.

Saying that, I really definitely missed out on writing about his last song. (Well, not entirely because I managed to cover it - name: 'Bshop's Ring Sun' - for Dummy magazine). Not to worry. Because he's literally just uploaded a new track called 'Black Black'. It's marked with what typifies a regular Metome (real name Takahiro Uchibori) track - smooth sampling, dynamism, definitive groove - but this one seems even more polished, more minimalist, deeper. I'm not altogether sure because each Metome song, despite their similar elements, sounds satisfyingly different.

Taking low-register vocal samples and spreading them over a bed of vinyl crackling and slow-moving swirls of clouds, the song starts in a chilled fashion, captivating and tranquilising with its ambient ataractic atmosphere. Always one for unexpected movements within his music, however, Metome turns up the heat and starts to fry us up with a delicious medley of flavours. With the samples till taking their lead position, he casually tosses in unmistakably funky slap bass - with the treble way up for for maximum raw twangs - providing foundation for occasional piano and synth chords. Dancing in and out of these delectable sounds is the intensely skiffling beat, noodling hi-hats sometimes shearing into the spaces between sounds.

Sometimes a bit of sub-bass bulges in like a mysterious deep-sea creature. What is an interesting addition to the fold is a bit of saxophone (at least, I THINK it's saxophone), jazzily tearing its way through the naturally resounding, porous space that Metome has left in his wake. That's one element that I think he never does away with: jazz. Jazz-inflections, jazz-spirit, jazz-improv. It's often in his songs in one way or another and it's a very unique way to present the genre; yeah, it's like electronic jazz. But it's not at the same time. Kind of undefinable, don't you think? I'll try again... electro-chill-jazz-step, perhaps. If you like this, share it with everyone. Oh, and Metome is currently working on an album, so I think it'd be safe to assume that 'Black Black' is taken from said album. Isn't it exciting?

Hey, here's an interview that I did with Metome — please have a read!



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Saturday, 23 November 2013

PSAPP WHAT MAKES US GLOW LP

Earlier this week I posted a little interview I did with the two people who make up London two-piece Psapp, namely Galia Durant and Carim Clasmann. It was kind of in conjunction with the release of their latest album, What Makes Us Glow. In some ways, it was quite beneficial to get the insight of the duo on how they make their music, what they're interested in; I find myself, right now, listening to the album thinking about the things they said about not basing songs on chords, making use of found sound via objects that on an everyday level are not deemed to be musical, finding accidental notes in certain things - "a hoover, a creaky door, a swing, a washing machine, a distant argument" - and creating melodies from them.

The album begins as it ends, with field recording of rain dripping somewhere (or maybe something being fried), making it a cyclical experience, connecting the string of musical sounds, songs, with a snippet of everyday noises that show how the creative process is not an endless composition but a series of bright sparks in the mundanity of life. The first song I encountered from this album was the 'Everything Belongs To The Sun' - its strong emphasis on beats and chanting vocals, each with a tribal lilt, gives it an exotic appeal, painted by all the uncountable and sometimes unknowable amount of percussion infused into the song. Percussion - intricate, makeshift, homemade - plays a large part. Much less tribal but just as interesting are the scurrying noises of 'That's The Spirit' - alongside twisted, breathy organ sounds, the scuttling clips of percussion help provide a "noir" atmosphere, a sense of black comedy.

That same spirit is found in 'The Cruel And The Bad', a kind of a hot & sweaty burlesque number with a macabre brass section and a galaxy of pinging noises mixed with claps and shakers in 3/4 time. 'Seven' plays out in a similar vein, whisking you away to some exotic, fantasy bar where candles strewn with melted wax light cabaret acts; it has a fresh atmosphere with a dark jazzy twist - sultry crooning, double bass, clean guitar chords in a funky progression, and there's even a background sample of someone shouting. The bossa nova rhythm and woody percussion of 'In The Black' takes you to another tropical location. Plucked strings and a old guitar providing a lovely pizzicato melody, ending in a frenzy of Middle-Eastern-sounding melodies crossing each other. This one teeters over the friendly precipice of pop.

And it's in the fuzzy arms of pop that we find single 'Wet Salt'. Luscious sweeps of percussion punctuate the song's catchy organ-type chords and melodies, as well as the richly layered vocals. A half-lament-half-celebration of the respective dirt and magic of city life, specifically in London, it dreams as much as it stays rooted to the ground. But it's here that we first see the power of Psapp to create ear-friendly tunes. Likewise, 'Your Hot Knife' is a head-bopping toytronic pop number. It's evident in its core of low electric piano chords, the vocal patterns and the way they flow in delicate harmonies. It's one of the most upbeat songs on the album and is certainly easy-on-the-ears. Some great found sounds too: for instance, a bell from a bicycle. The organ solo towards the end is a lovely subtle touch.

In a similar pop vein, the title track 'What Makes Us Glow' is really lovely. A warm and calming track soaked in comforting and playful melodies, familiar vocals float in rich harmonies especially in its chorus refrain of "We choose what makes us glow". It's a sitting-by-the-fire kind of song. Those playful melodies are a real strongpoint of the duo, strong in most songs but in particular in 'The Well And The Wall'. The way the strings are here at the start give it a baroque feel. Or even before that. It's like lute music. A medieval feel, the vocals plaintive. It gradually falls into a mind-bending subversive version of some kind of courtly dance, with lightly crashing cymbals and glitching bleeps.

But it's not all about being busy and bustling. Psapp do minimalism, too. Each sound in 'Bone Marrow' is allowed to breathe in uncrowded space. Cutesy bells and woodblocks add percussive flair whilst the different vocal tracks in the chorus are layered with a simplistic intricacy. I found 'In And Out' to be a similar experience; starting with sound of someone breathing in and out, or maybe someone pumping bellows or something, it's another homely number that sleeps with dreamy chiming xylophones, bristling with pinpoint percussion, violins enriching with their organic woodiness. These sounds remind me of the music from Zelda: The Wind Waker; woody, organic noises that rattle in a light fantasy world of trees and magic.

And it's on that note that the true nature of Psapp's What Makes Us Glow becomes apparent. It's not a clashing but a melding of worlds: the bustling cosmopolis on one side and the essence of natural folk on the other; electronic noises and pioneering experimentalism, yet a delicate organic touch with pre-electricity conjurings and orchestrations. And with the duo saying in the interview that they want to carry on being more experimental, with increased found sounds and field recordings, as well as writing scores for more traditional instruments, it seems that this twoness of Psapp is going to go through intensive development. And there's nothing better for music, or even the universal creative process, than directive forward-thinking that is not forced, but freeform and fuelled by passionate curiosity.

Stream What Makes Us Glow on Hype Machine and/or buy it on iTunes.



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Friday, 22 November 2013

SHELF NUNNY & ERIKO TOYODA ABOUT THE BOY

What's in a name? Sometimes quite a lot. Sometimes literally nothing. Sometimes a little in-between these two things, when there's a spot of retroactive continuity going into explanations of names and stuff. But something like Shelf Nunny... I'm not sure. Say it out loud. Shelf Nunny. It's a fine name, a strong name. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be rude or if it isn't and— actually, I shouldn't get held up on this. It's a name and that's that.

So anyway, Shelf Nunny - real name Christian Gunning - is a producer from Santa Cruz, California, and he makes richly intricate glitchy beats. He's part of a collective called Sleepy Beach, who released his Dream Album EP earlier this year. It's nice to belong to a collective. I mean, a) there's a sense of belonging, which is pretty invaluable if you ask me and b) there's a shared sense of inspiration and each other's success.

This time, Shelf Nunny has teamed up with singer and trackmaker Eriko Toyoda for a seemingly long-ish-term collaboration. The second of their tracks together is called 'About The Boy' and it sounds a little something like this... (you have to press play).

From delicate beginnings - Shelf Nunny providing insectoid sampling of string pluckings and Eriko offering up the beautiful layered mist of her voice - the track enters, by way of snare patterns, into an increasingly busy and intricate world of sound. The percussion is wonderfully alive and dynamic: kicks thud like heartbeats, the snare hits crash like a crystal ball dropping into a box of wooden beads, woodblock ticks count time. Low synths accompany the glitching that characterises the song. But everything changes at around 1:45. A saw-wave bassline cuts in from nowhere, making wild runs beneath the ever heavenward vocals of Eriko, ushering in hi-hat rolls and winding toy percussion noises to join in, too.

By the end, we're left with a lonely beach of sounds. A glitchy crackling of samples gradually muffles and disappears under the weight of the organ melody, which coos and croons plaintively until they too fade out into nothing. It's an intensely pretty song, combining dynamic elements to present an out-of-body-experience of a song, with Eriko's distinctive voice guiding your spirit through the general background radiation of the unphysical world, its dripping percussive noises and quaint, quirky musical twists and turns in the form of Shelf Nunny's mastery of sound. The track teeters on the border between outright experimental glitch beatsmithing and leftfield pop loveliness and who needs it to fall either side? It is what it is: a really nice song.



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YES/NO INTERVIEW

A crazy thing happened the other day. It might not seem so crazy to some people, but to me it was insanely crazy. I felt bizarre about the whole thing. But once I'd done it, everything felt fine. What was it, you ask? Did I lose my virginity? Did I die and come back to life? Did I get a sex change? No. None of those three things.

What happened? I was interviewed. Yeah, me. At first I didn't think it was for me. But it was. Nico Prat, journalist and host of Popcorn Sur Le Mouv, an weekday evening show about music and pop culture on French radio station Le Mouv, invited me for an interview on Tuesday 19th November. It was on the radio, I had to talk out loud (luckily not in French cause I'm not as proficient as I'd like to be - is anybody?) but despite my fears of talking out loud - especially considering this was a live broadcast - I think I did pretty well. My family said so. But then again, they're supposed to say that.

I haven't listened to the interview yet. I've downloaded the podcast, so I have forever the data that contains me being interviewed on radio, even if I won't listen to it for a while. However, if you would like to download it (free-of-charge) and have a listen to some of the tunes they play on Popcorn Sur Le Mouv and/or listen to me say some words about my site and what kinda stuff I'm into at the moment, then please feel free. You'll find it here: lemouv.fr/diffusion-echolove-un-amour-de-decouverte.

I would like to thank Mr Nico Prat for following YES/NO and sharing a selection of my music taste to a wider audience. And thank you, whoever you are that's reading this, for reading YES/NO. I would like to continue on this journey of finding and writing about new music from all directions and if you want to come along for the ride there's a lot of room. Please feel free to get in touch for whatever reason, especially if you are an artist or band looking for someone to have a listen of your music. I would like to hear it.



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FORTUNE HOWL PAWS (BO EN REMIX)

Yo. Wow. This is good. Let's rush straight in. Rush we go. So, this is another one of the pretty damn awesome re-workings of the songs from Fortune Howl's Earthbound, collectively called Earthbound [Remixed]. I wrote about one of them - Bwoy De Bhajan's remix of 'Interzone Export' - the other week. And, listening through it now, there is so much talent going into these remixes that it's impossible for them to be bad. Or perhaps talent on its own isn't sufficient; each of these remixers has a definitive voice and style, making each one more than a remix - something closer to an original track.

There's XXYYXX's synth-heavy trap-leaning version of 'Echo The Sun', for instance, and also the lush, ghostly remix of 'A Terrible Machine' by Mister Lies. Likewise, London producer bo en sets off some seriously sweet fireworks for us in his remix of 'Paws'. Fortune Howl's original is a luscious, ballad-like number that swoons with vocal samples, warm synth waves and slow-dance drums. bo en's remix is very different.

Taking cues from a synth-heavy revival of Japan-exclusive genre Shibuya-kei (a mix of jazzy lounge sounds with traces of synthpop and lashings of pop energy), bo en - real name Calum Bowen - turns 'Paws' on its head and makes it his own. Beginning with a deliciously funky, 80s-themed intro, complete with some scene-setting slap bass, at once we're bowled into the nu-Shibuya-kei that bo en does best. Puffs of fidgety synth chords overlook a fast house kick as the original vocals float over in washes of reverb. At 0:55 he samples Yoshi's down+B move from Super Smash Bros. before launching into a candy-coloured world of modulating synths, squeaky bed sounds, claps, down-south hip hop snares and remnants of samples.

The rest of the song reads beautifully, a floating mist of the song's original vocals, a saxophone solo, wah-wah chords, samples of "Hey — hey!" all cradled by a rainy-night synth bassline and 80s drum machine beats. A classy yet magical finish, like a rendezvous with a high-class escort who turns out to be searching for someone to help her solve an existential, metaphysical mystery - you becoming the reluctant detective. It moves flawlessly between sugary sweet nu-Shibuya-kei and retro-infused sounds - a teapot brewing leaves of tea-breaks past - combining many different elements that on paper would seem barmy. Hip hop drums? A little known Japanese genre? Slap bass? 80s aesthetic? Videogame samples? Yep, all of that. But the way that Mr bo en melds these sounds into a cohesive, dynamic showstopper of a track that's as jaw-droppingly impressive as it is unabashedly enjoyable.

You should definitely check out Earthbound [Remixed] for your fix of totally fresh sounds. And a FREE DOWNLOAD. (The fact that the album and its original are named after one of my favourite ever games has no bearing on the matter).

Also, check out bo en's lovely debut album Pale Machine out on supernice Japanese netlabel Maltine Records - and download the whole thing for free.



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Thursday, 21 November 2013

YES/NO GUEST MIX 003 :: LUVIIA

Everybody say hey! Everybody say, um, something else! Now everybody sit down and chill out. I wouldn't do much good as a frontman, agent provocateur or agitator-in-general. But that's ok. I can live with that. In any case, everybody should sit down and chill out now cause I have a lovely Guest Mix - the 3rd in this series - courtesy of Taiwan-based beatmaker Luviia.

I first stumbled across this guy through Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes' work; one of the beats to her tracks was crafted by Luviia. I first wrote about his track 'Coppertone', then he released his P2P Feelings EP - his style is old school, marked by crackling samples and hefty doses of boom bap beats, yet tinged with modernity, influenced by the revival in lounge-type vibes and 80s throwback sounds. His process, his creative flair, is eclectic: "I always listen to a lot of different music and flick through random vinyl, just sample anything I see or hear. Cos everything is music!"

His mix shows off his favourite sounds in hip hop. There are some truly experimental tracks in amongst this mix; Repeat Pattern being one of them, Lidly another, REZ, Linn... they're all great, in fact. All of them exude different notions of what instrumental hip hop could or should be, yet all tied with the uniting factor of being intended for chilling out, for horizontal living, for filling the empty air of modern spaces with soothing sounds and the smart offbeats of hip hop.

And this stuff is VERY SPECIAL cause, well, Luviia says why. "All these tracks are unreleased or new releases, I'm so honoured that I got some tracks from these artists!" he said. "Hopefully everyone will enjoy it! Respect though. Blessings!" So with no further ado, please check it out.


TRACKLIST:
01. Sir Froderick - Better Off
02. a-robb - surippee05
03. Repeat Pattern - Oooh Aaah
04. Lidly - kLoke
05. Linn - Sail To The Moon
06. Bugseed x ill.sugi - Diamond
07. Da Youngstas - Mad Props (Orion Remix) (Instrumental)
08. Sicknessmp - Jazzpiece
09. Milo Mills - Mystery
10. Bugseed - Dreams Of Tomorrow
11. Bluestaeb - Cookie Monster Dreams
12. Tarik Sabar - Rah!
13. weirddough - High Tide 1
14. Gordy Michael - The One Who Knocks
15. REZ - Lovers



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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

SPAZZKID 40 WINKS [VIDEO]

Hey there people. This is the long-anticipated video for LA-via-the-Philippines producer Spazzkid. Real name Mark Redito, he released his very beautiful album Desire 願う in April of this year, which is a perfect showcase of his sound: juke-flavoured beats that underpin an assortment of very pretty sounds, from modulating synths to tuned percussion like xylophones. It's the perfect mix of electronic and organic. This particular song, '40 Winks', is taken from that very album and - as I said - I've been itching to see the video for it ever since Mr Spazzkid himself dropped tidbits of information: namely that it was being shot in Tokyo.

And that's exactly where it has been shot. A self-confessed lover of Japanese culture, it's only natural that the music Spazzkid makes so lovingly should be the soundtrack to the capital city of the country of which he's so fond. Boy does it work! It opens with a mysterious woman answering a public phone, an anonymous voice explaining: "I'm sorry, I didn't say goodbye. Wait for me. Don't open the suitcase I left behind. See You Soon." The hyper-reverbed, ancient-sounding honky-tonk-type piano chords of the song echo a sad warmth across the collection of shots of Tokyo, the long tops of hard-edged skyscrapers jutting into the sky, as well as the indomitable crowds of the city.

The lyrics of the song - half-melancholy and love-themed, like "I've been so many places, I've seen so many places, but not like yours" - match up with slo-mo shots of the woman's face, downcast, wracked with loneliness in such a bustling place. Spazzkid's delicious post-dubstep beats and delicate bell sounds illustrate her inexplicable journey across Tokyo, leading to the bridge of the song where all things turn grey, introduced by handfuls of rolling snare, where the luscious beats find room to breathe with no augmentation. The lady opens the briefcase and the music floods back in, synth bleeps adding to the now very head-bopping shuffle of the song - its busiest section - and our protagonist makes a hectic run towards the top of a building where she watches the sunset. It's a perfect soundtrack to such a video, containing within it a kind of cold euphoria, a lonely happiness, two contrasting feelings that intertwine like two embracing lovers.

Nice isn't it? Directed by Czar Campos, it stars Rika Hirota, a trackmaker and DJ in her own right under the alias Licaxxx.

If you liked this, and you haven't heard the album, you should DEFINITELY check it out. And if you want to have a try at remixing it, please feel free! The remix stems are here: spazzkid.com/desireremix.



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LAZY INTERVIEW #18: PSAPP


← #17: BOTANY #19: BRETON →

Since I first heard of these guys a couple of months ago (courtesy of their song 'Everything Belongs To The Sun'), I was interested in finding out more about them. An opportunity to find out more presented itself and here I am. It's an interview with London duo Psapp, they've been active for about 11 years, released 5 albums (one of which was a Japan exclusive, and one of which I'll be writing about at the end of this week), and are credited with creating the genre "toytronica" - it sounds legitimate, doesn't it? I'll go with that. In fact, Indonesian duo Bottlesmoker are pretty toytronic as well. What is toytronica? It's electronica with the additional introduction of toy instruments (children's keyboards, play-a-long guitars, GameBoys, etc) as well as homemade stuff, maybe including circuit-bending as well.

Anyway, that's enough of that. And if you don't know anything about them at all, you should have a listen to their latest single 'Wet Salt' or have a search through their extensive back catalogue. As for now, let's have a look-see at what makes them tick, eh?


Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do?
Carim: I am Mr Psapp, aka Carim Clasmann, born in Cologne, Germany and most things I do revolve around composing, producing, mixing and mastering music. Apart from making music with Mrs Psapp I work as a sound engineer, music producer and mastering engineer.

Galia: I am Mrs Psapp AKA Galia Durant. We are mongrels from lots of places, but mainly London and Cologne. We make songs out of objects that sound good. I do a lot of drawing too.

Why did you decide to start creating music?
Carim: I think my most transformational moment was when a friend of mine lent me his Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. I was only 14 years old and all I ever wanted to do then was write and record music. It was like opening a magic box and suddenly understanding that music can be pieced together of whatever layers you want to add.

Galia: I’ve been making music since I was a teeny tiny tiddler so it was less of a conscious decision - it was inevitable.

How would you describe your sound? What makes you and your style stand out?
Galia: We use a lot of objects we find and homemade instruments in our music. We combine this with vocals, violins, toys, guitars and anything within our grasp.

Carim: Our songs are mostly not based on chords but on melodies and counterpoints, very much like classical compositions. So as all the melodies intertwine they create passing chords and harmonics. The same applies to our rhythms which are layers of individual percussion rather than a drum kit. But we are not strict about this because that would be an unnecessary limitation. As far as sound is concerned any sound emitting object is a potential instrument may it be a field recording, a log of wood or a piano. We very much enjoy experimenting and creating our own instruments as even a tiny alteration in texture can create a unique atmosphere.

Is there a perfect time and place for listening to your music?
Carim: On the sofa in the library because that’s where my nice stereo is set up.

Galia: For me it’s on headphones - there is so much intricate detail in our music … and lots of different ways of listening to it.

What inspires you most when writing a song?
Carim: For me it's the atmosphere in the studio and the total cut off from the world outside. Sometimes the bubble bursts by just a small distraction.

Galia: Everything. It’s hard to filter it sometimes. We tend to be inspired by each other, other people, the weather, joy, drudgery and the magic of being in the studio.

What is your most memorable musical experience?
Carim: I don't have a very good memory. Galia and I playing the keyboard, layered with a whole new set of freshly recorded sounds, together is definitely one of my favourite things in the world.

Galia: There are so many moments. One that comes to mind is a particularly prolific period when I was staying on my own in Carim’s place with no heating in midwinter, homeless and jobless with only my keyboards, cigarettes, sausages and some thick socks to comfort me. I just wrote and wrote.

What are your favourite three songs at the moment?
Carim:
Moondog - "Bird's Lament"
Can - "She Brings The Rain"
Talk Talk - “Ascension Day"

Galia:
Aksak Maboul - "A Modern Lesson"
Talk Talk - "I Believe In You"
Susan Cadogan - "Hurt So Good"

Who do you most admire in the music world?
Carim: Anyone who stays true to himself. I wouldn’t know where to start singling out individual musicians.

Galia: Yep. Definitely. But as for singling out a lone person - well this is like choosing your favourite album ever - it’s just impossible! Different music for different moments, and different people for different flavours of admiration. In your opinion, what is the future of music?
Carim: I don't think many people will want to explore what is between the twelve semitones of an octave but there is definitely a lot of scope for different rhythms and sounds to spill over from what is now deemed experimental into more commercial music. Personally I am always very happy about tracks not being in 4/4.

What's the future of your music - what do you hope to do next?
Carim: We want to get back into the studio soon any try out some of the ideas spooking through our heads. Usually whatever I put in comes out quite differently once Galia gets involved and vice versa. I want to try writing some songs with found sounds being more at the forefront, picking out their natural notes and adding instruments to fit them rather than starting on a guitar. Maybe also something very quiet, whispery, hardly audible vocals, leaving large spaces. I also imagine building a giant musicbox with a large rotating drum that spins and hit various objects in its path. But for Psapp we just need to sit down together and then all plans we made on our own become pointless and we’ll do what feels right at the time anyway.

Galia: Everything Carim says sounds bloody excellent… and I really want to try scoring some classical instruments. We have done this a bit in the past but I think it would be a real thrill to try out more instruments. Also we should definitely build more instruments….. put all of Carim’s DIY and soldering equipment to good use. I like accidental notes in sounds which then turn into a melody of their own - a hoover, a creaky door, a swing, a washing machine, a distant argument.

What, aside from music, is most important to you?
Carim: My lady, my cat Marbles, eating too much cake, a hot summer that lasts for 6 months, keeping my brain busy and feeding it with fresh new ideas.

Galia: My boy, my babies and my brain being full and in danger of bursting.


Don't they sound just lovely? Experimentation in music is what keeps it alive, for sure, otherwise we'd be in a perpetual loop of people doing pretty much the same old thing. What's clear is that Psapp, as a pair, are not only passionate about music but also about the very sounds that make up music itself. Taking objects that don't have musical connotations whatsoever and forcing them into a musical dimension, not even basing songs on chords or progressions but rather on the paths that each sound can take within a melody - both of these show a clear desire to cultivate sounds, hear singular sounds, showcasing their individual tones and textures rather than that of collective, pop-driven chords.

Some of their music has been used in TV programmes, and it's no surprise: Psapp's music bursts with an original freshness, with collections of melodies and multi-faceted percussion that conjure emotions, atmospheres, or which perfectly illustrate certain scenes of life. And it's all thanks to the outside-the-box yet technical thinking in Psapp's positive and experimental approach to making music; it certainly bodes well for the future of music, when experimentation is so much more widespread and widely accepted, with Psapp echoing the undertones of this change in the music world's dynamic well before the popular outlets began to recognise the fact.

Please stick around for what the words I will write about their latest album, What Makes Us Glow.



← #17: BOTANY #19: BRETON →



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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

BITCH PREFECT SHIPPED IT

I've been having a look at these guys for a while, always wanting to write about them but always getting distracted by other things. In fact, the place I found these guys and their music, which is the SoundCloud page of Australian label Bedroom Suck Records, is a pretty interesting place, filled with exclusively Australian music. So if you want to hear some stuff you've never heard before, I'd recommend checking that out.

So anyway. Anyway anyway anyway. The guys in question are a band called Bitch Prefect, a name that conjures I dunno for me all I see is J'amie King, but which is perfectly brash - what with those two plosive consonants bursting at the start of each word - and which suits their sound right down to the ground. I mean, they describe themselves as "pop" on their Facebook page but it's a little more than that. It's pop for slackers; laid-back music for summer holidays, the soundtrack to getting suspended from school, or just hanging around your local town where there's like nothing to do. These are the eternal places from where this music springs forth. An indie garage-rock kinda feel, with some of their songs sounding a little like a less frantic version of early Joy Division. Dare I say punk?

But hey! That's just a label! Listen up for yourself. Here's 'Shipped It'.

With a jogging pace beat the song trundles on with exactly the same melody almost the whole way through (except for a little bridge in the middle and the final part), but there's nothing bad about it. The guitars have such a wonderfully jangling sound that all you really wanna hear is them, no matter what they're doing. There's something great about the ever so slight distortion on the rhythm guitar chords, something haphazard and determined in the way they plough through those three chords again and again. I like a raw sounding drum, and the drums in 'Shipped It' are nothing short of raw - you can even hear them echoing in the room they were played in. It's all very DIY.

The vocals are great as well, rippling with a whatever attitude, reflecting a kind of 1960s proto-punk sound, especially the oi-oi, all-join-in continual chant of "Shipped it overseas!" You can hear the Australian drawl, the dangerous lilt apathy in its tones. It's great and I love it. The little solo at the end too, a slapdash set of pinging notes, has an atmosphere of nonchalant cool which is kinda the embodiment of the song - a gem of lo-fi, I have to say. A great driving song, I'd imagine. I'd also like to see how this sounds live, might be a whole lot more crazy.

This comes from their new LP Bird Nerds, which was released on 7th November on Bedroom Suck Records. Bitch Prefect are from Melbourne & Adelaide and are by name: Scott O'Hara, Pat Telfer and Liam Kenny



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Friday, 15 November 2013

SUPERFOOD MELTING

Every song this band releases seems to be just right - no matter if it's about food (as in their self-titled song 'Superfood') or TV (as in, um, 'TV' - the song's been taken down though...) or about– well, it's not about bubbles but it IS called 'Bubbles'. Who are they? What are they? Well, they're a band from Birmingham, UK, and they're called Superfood and they make really nice music. They're a four-piece, I've only just now found out: Carl Griffin (drums), Emily Baker (bass), Ryan Malcolm (guitars) and Dom Ganderton (vocals/guitars).

I've seen things said about these guys like that they're catching the "butt-end of brit pop" but I was never much of a fan of brit pop so... And anyway, I wrote before that I think they sound a little like an English Weezer. Anglo-Weezer. Or is it the case that Weezer sound like an Americanised brit pop act? Either way, I don't really want to talk about brit pop too much. I feel queezy. I want to talk about Superfood because they're Supergood. They have a new song which is called 'Melting' and true to form with this song they continue to impress and excite.

Ok, so it is kinda like brit pop. There are moments in here that seem to channel early Blur - especially the chorus - but it has its own heartbeat. There's a slacker feel to the song, something gloriously lazy and university-soundtrack about its feel, the slapdash distorted guitar stabs in the verse and the swinging collapse of the raw drums. It combines this with a real ear for dynamic, each song so far - including this one - has felt like a musical story. As for decoration, there are lovely little drum rolls, not so much a screaming as a groaning guitar solo, and a honky-tonk-sounding piano being bashed throughout, giving this a really nice live vibe, like something some students taking over a pub and its piano for an evening would play. Well, if pubs had pianos anymore. I've never even seen one in a pub WHAT am I talking about?

Anyway, it's easy-on-the-ear and punchy, equal parts intelligent and catchy; each sound finds time to breathe, each element shining out at one point or another: the funky slides of the bass in the verse, the deliciously British and wholly natural vocals, the delicate guitar picking before the last chorus. There is something really mundane in the thud of the beat, something that is not a negative thing at all and is in fact positive: this mundanity, the plodding rhythm of the song, gives it a unique touch that is adorable and that also gives a lot of room for speeding the songs up into rollicking, fever-pitch versions of themselves live. Maybe not. I dunno, I've never seen them live. But that's the impression I get. Anyway, it's fun, I like it. Do you?

This is out as a single on 9th December alongside 'Bubbles' and both tracks will appear on their forthcoming MAM EP, out early 2014 on Infectious Music. There's no reason why Superfood shouldn't get a lot of praise & at least some amount of fame off the back of this, cause they deserve it.



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BACKBONE BLANK FIELD [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Taking cues from typically urban music like R&B, garage, bassline and even dubstep in the halftime swing of the beat, this is 'Blank Field' by Paris band Backbone. Having formed in August (the 15th, specifically) of 2012, Backbone is a five-piece band that mixes female and male vocals; organic, "real" sounds and synthetic, mechanical noises. They describe their sound as "feutré, absorbant, rythmé" - that's hushed, absorbing and rhythmic. Certainly there could have been a little bit of inspiration here from The xx, especially in the dual vocals, the sub-bass and the general atmospheric feeling of the songs. But that's not a bad thing at all.

'Blank Field' begins as a relatively quiet foray into a world of rich, low attack synth chords and drips of electronic percussion - in the background, samples of what sounds like a crowded room pan from left to right. Smooth columns of sub-bass gleam beneath the chords. Each vocal sounds unaffected, clear, pure even, with just the right amount of big room reverb tailing from each. The beat grows busier with hi-hat rolls and the addition of snapping snares; beautiful guitar licks like flecks of sunshine appear from the chill of the song for a lovely euphoric flavour.

By the end, that guitar lick sinks into the background, the volume on everything coming to a crescendo, a rising tide of synth and a violently bubbling collection of random synth bleeps, which is all we're left with at the end. The slow nature and smooth vocals of the song give it a sense of laid-back yet passionate R&B, a slow jam direct from Paris complete all the delicate trappings and trimmings of experimental electronic music. It's always nice to hear people doing something different and Backbone are no exception; their mix of electronic and live instruments supports their gentle yet intense sound as much as the flighty vocals do. Lovely stuff.

I don't think there are any releases as yet but their SoundCloud definitely hints towards an EP in 2014. It could be a long time, it could be a short time. But here's hoping that it will actually materialise. You can download this, and past songs, on their SoundCloud so deffo check it out ya.



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AUSTRA FORGIVE ME

Described as two souls seeking and finding forgiveness in each other, this new video for 'Forgive Me' by Canadian electropop band Austra depicts the shady nightlife of a park. I gotta say, I know that some parks ARE like this or at least I've heard about it. I've never been in a park like that - well, clearly not at the right (or wrong?) time. In any case, it's a strange choice this track which feels a lot more personal than these anonymous sex acts but I suppose forgiveness, or the desire to be forgiven, is not always directed at one person or thing: some people feel like they need the world itself to forgive them. They need a general kind of absolution for their own guilt. Maybe?

Instantly, this track is wholly danceable, featuring a pacing 4/4 beat with meaty snare, occasional hi-hats and woodblock decoration, evoking a disco beat. bass guitar fragments underpin the beat, yet there's a darkness here with rumbles of twisted synth bass crunching up above the clicking percussion and simpering organs that give this a decidedly plaintive feel. Sharp, tormented strings make a brief appearance, summoning a sadness alongside a rising tide of gooey bass. Of course, by its very title this track is apologetic and its not only illustrated by the music but by the vocals too.

Especially by the vocals. Whether they are deliciously layered or singing solo, it's clear that the voice - which is the voice of lead singer Katie Stelmanis - can not only carry a note but also carry emotion, too. Her distinct lilt first makes itself known in the first few seconds of the song, where it trembles with a frustration inherent in the pleading lyrics: "What do I have to do to make you forgive me?" It echoes with guilt yet there's a smootheness there, aimed at placating whomever the lyrics are aimed at. 'Forgive Me' stands as a progression within electropop, fusing a minimalist disco sensibility with gifted vocals for the creation of a thoughtful or reflective atmosphere on the dancefloor.

This comes from Austra's Summer-released second album Olympia and it'll be released as a single on 25th November.



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BRETON ENVY

Majorly digging this. It's quite different to the last song I heard by British band Breton, 'Got Well Soon', a dark rumbling number, almost exclusively electronic in its sound. This new track 'Envy' is a beautiful change in direction, compared to the dark basement club feel to 'Got Well Soon' - here we're thrown into a swirling world of addictive, breezy rhythms that touch you in all the right places. It's got a tropico-indie-dance feel to it; pointing out the obvious like a child would be saying "sounds like Foals" but on the other hand, but looking at it with a bit more scrutiny gives more away. However, that's not to say that first impressions should be discarded: these delicious sounds are for real and they're in my ears right now and I love them.

I need to get a grip. I can't very well sit here listening to this song on repeat like a lunatic, can I? How would I ever finish my washing? Or make lunch? So I'm gonna purge myself of what I'm feeling about it. Syncopation plays a massive part, offbeat rhythms crossing over each other keeping your ears busy, giving a sense of the gloriously unexpected to the song. This repeated instrumental refrain, with steel pans, glockenspiel, synth beeps, bass guitar, drums and strings, is really dynamic, always feeling like it's leading into something, rather than remaining the mainstay of the song. The drums are real, played with gusto, and filled with delicate touches of the hi-hat - they keep to a general house or disco beat for longer, more driven parts of the track. Actually, I'm gonna stick with house, cause the rich piano chords that clomp down on the song from early on, and their pattern, really do conjure 90s house music. Just saying. It does.

The piano chords are just one part of the song's thick and richly populated orchestration. Strings and a brass section arise in the two more driven parts of the song, building up in the last section to a genuinely symphonic ending, with virtuoso bass sidewinding with little variations the whole time, the steel pans adding their sharp exotic lilt to the mix. The vocals are simple, raw, understated, yet yelled out in lush layers of natural harmony - perfect for sing-a-longs and by turns perfect for a live setting. They sit superbly comfy in the mix with everything else. Fast-paced indie-dance with an orchestral-yet-90s-house feel - that's what this is. And it's lovely - in composition, dynamic, and sound.

'Envy' is out properly on January 23rd 2014 as a single from upcoming second album War Room Stories, due for release on February 3th 2014 on Breton's own imprint label Cut Tooth, through Believe Recordings.



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Thursday, 14 November 2013

NITEMOVES THEMES

Where did this even come from? Where does stuff like this spring up from? Whence is it created? Well, maybe it just turns out I'm a complete idiot and everyone knows about this already. In which case, I apologise. I don't ever pretend to be THE PLACE 2 GO 2 4 MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT. I just write stuff about stuff I like. If you like it too, then that is really good and I'm glad about that. But in all seriousness I do wonder this: just WHERE was this hiding? And WHY was it hiding in the first place? It's like The Hunchback Of Notre-Dame, except it turns out it's not a hunchback or an ogre or anything remotely ugly at all. So what ya doing swingin' in the rafters, Nitemoves?

It's really a perfectly understandable yet a little irrational question on my part. Who am I to inquire? Well, a person, a person with a mind that likes to inquire. But that's neither here nor there. The point is: this is lovely. Like I said, it's from Nitemoves, aka Rory O'Connor, who is from Washington DC. Having played alongside and as a part of the likes of Com Truise and Tycho, and releasing a debut album, his second album is now here and it's lovely; it's called Themes and as it's in the plural you can indeed expect it to be as varied as that plurality suggests. From high energy drum-and-bass-fuelled adventures into collections virtuoso sounds twisting together à la second half of opener 'Polypel', to classic chill-out sounds in 'Mikuni', which lives in an undersea world of smooth bass, analogue drums and reverbing pitch-bent piano chords supporting sun-on-sea synth melody glittering, this is certainly an album of differing themes.

There is this chilled quality dotted around these 8 songs. There's the otherworldly symphonic offering that is 'Clarity', speaks of an imperfect perfection: its all-encompassing sound is dense and muffled, including some broken chords, and it ends with a low, rumbling fade to darkness. Likewise, 'Audity' smothers your mind with thick flurries of bleak synth chords. Again, soaring, chilled-out sounds abound in 'Ashe', including the authentic background buzz of an acoustic guitar, a homely feel - it gives way to bulges of bass and endlessly delayed synth arpeggios over a sparse, subtle beat for a meaner-sounding second half. Halfway between the lounge and the outside world, 'Veaquis' features an upstanding, jaunty bassline and watercolour washes of synth, all to very fresh, subtly ornamented hip hop beat, complete with chopped, skewed brass noises.

It heralds energy at other times. 'Glen '79' speaks in leaps and bounds of analogue process with ascending crunchy bass synth as its staple. Set to yet another fresh beat with interestingly syncopated hi-hats, it breaks into raw, fractured loops of itself in the second half, buzzing with insatiable strings of bleeps and bloops and F1-car-esque-sounds. Closer 'Bit Pairity' includes differing dynamic within itself, beginning with soft melodies and soaring samples over heavy sub-bass and freestyle beats, things get more hard-edged and concrete with chiptune-style melodies and a focus on the beat. Hi-hats snap and fizz. We drop into a juke-flavoured turbine of wild bustling beats and uncontrollable 16bit fugues, draped with gentle marimbas and white noise. It finishes with a sample of a music box tune coming to an end, finishing with a lo-fi recording of silence (which isn't silence).

Part Café del Mar, part 1980s science convention after-party (or your imagination of it), Themes is a wonderful showcase of the continued non-ironic existence of "chillwave" sounds, with skilled creation and handling of an exciting dynamic that has at its core addictive, super-fresh beats and familiar, comfy analogue synth sounds. Very very nice. If you've got this far in this article without actually pressing play on that SoundCloud thing then, well, you should.

You can download this album from iTunes.



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PSAPP WET SALT [VIDEO]

Here's something cool. Well not necessarily cool - that's like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. What do I know? I've just been called a "whitey hipster" and I'm struggling to come to terms with my own identity. I'm deeply hurt. I'm not really I'm just confused about people. Anyway, this is really irrelevant. So you've probably seen the video above this little bit of writing. It's from London-based duo Psapp, whose desertified percussion in 'Everything Belongs To The Sun' I wrote about a couple of months ago.

The name of the song is 'Wet Salt' and it's a magical, delicate toytronica bossa nova. Lush sweeps of percussion clip, clop, twist, swish and trickle their way through the song and cutesy electric piano chords provide a breezy melody that has a touch of grey-sky lament to it. Layered vocals sing the light commentary on our urban filth, with lines like "Our unwashed sheets, our filthy streets, I didn't care at first." Overall, it feels like a slice of sense, a pocket of sorrow, in the midst of the bustling and thoughtless city airflow - yet there is still this magical sound thanks to the luscious percussion; we can't stop being in love with the city, no matter how dirty it is.

The video itself is illustrative: "This video tells the stopframe story of a hapless but intrepid paper shape on her journey through a hostile city, and the strange band of litter creatures she befriends on her way," said Psapp. "Banana skins, scouring pads, ants, shuttlecocks and benevolent hats all appear to help our plucky protagonist." It's cute!

It comes from their new album What Makes Us Glow which is OUT NOW.



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THE ORWELLS DIRTY SHEETS

Oh The Orwells. The Orwells The Orwells The Orwells. Say it 3x whilst facing a (specifically) bathroom mirror at 3am and see what happens. Well, not to ruin the surprise - cause you WILL be surprised - but what happens is the band fall through your mirror and start trashing the place. So unless you wanna trash stuff with them, I'd recommend quelling your desire to summon The Orwells into your bathroom. But The Orwells are not just things to be summoned through your mirror. They got shit to do as well. They can't be everywhere at once.

And nowadays they're especially busy. Since I first heard about them courtesy of the UK's own Parma Violets, they've been getting busier and busier. They released two EPs this year, the latter release being the Who Needs You EP which includes the eponymous hit single itself. They were even kind enough to have an interview with me. But I expect they're gonna get a whole lot busier; they've recently signed to Atlantic Records and will be releasing a new single on 13th January 2014. That's this song, 'Dirty Sheets'.

Cutting in abruptly with wailing screeches of lead guitar, it's a big sound from the offset. The drums crash cataclysmically, sounding gloriously raw in their swinging rhythm, followed by stabs of guitar chords in the verse. Rough vocals with a rippling echo start with the line: "From the East Coast to the West, we ain't the worst, we ain't the best" - A pre-emptive reply to any detractors, yet at the same time, wonderfully grand with a self-deprecating slur of mediocrity tacked onto it. The drawl of the vocals paint a definitively gritty picture of punk romance. There is a hint of glam to this, perhaps in the theatrical dynamics of the song, or maybe I'm mistaking it for the rockabilly judder of the drums and that general wiggle-to-this vibe. It's a going-places song. If you know what I mean, cool; if you don't, well, sorry.

So that's 'Dirty Sheets' for you. I expect that this means another full length album from The Orwells next year, too; in any case they've announced some UK tour dates for February 2014. I heartily recommend seeing them live if you can, cause, well, it's a crazy show - I can confirm that the energy levels are through the roof.

In other news, you can now download their Other Voices EP for free from their official site.



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CORY JREAMZ NINA

I think, I think I don't know exactly because this is all subjective after all, but I THINK that Cory Jreamz is just getting better and better. If you don't know about him already you either should or you more than likely will. Why's that? Well, because he's been making some waves recently. Having been played by Scroobius Pip - an esteemed rapper in the UK himself - on his XFM radio show The Beatdown (premiering this particular song, 'Nina', last Saturday), he's also naturally been getting featured and interviewed on a load of online publications. Good! Cause he's good.

His latest song is called 'Nina' as you probably now know. Produced by t extends and accentuates all of the elements that have previously gone together in making a Cory Jreamz track: poetic, confident lyrics - a comfortable flow - dark, chaotic beats. They're all here. But it seems that his flow here is more verbose than it has been previously - he literally says more words than he ever has done, I think. The beat is a mash of crunchy, distorted synth and sub-bass kicks coupled with glass-breaking cymbals and faraway snares: a busy, menacing vehicle for Jreamz's smooth and often rage-venting words.

I might be totally stupid here but I don't know what the titular 'Nina' refers to. It's a shame because if I knew I'm sure I'd like this song even more. Despite that, CJ's sheer passion in his lyrics, referencing record labels that say you gotta have a singer on your songs, or people who told him to just go get a job like a normal person, in addition to his audacious, sometimes-cerebral-sometimes-pop-culture references, which here include Richard Pryor, Da Vinci and Zeus, paint the picture of Cory Jreamz as a personality quite well.

There's a great dynamic here in this song, where it fades out into nothing and then fades back in with the sound that's either Chewbacca or some kind of monster coming to life. And it's a fitting noise, as the music that appears next is even more distorted and much dirtier, a beast risen at the end with crashing snares and an almost industrial vibe, decorated with swarming noises from the darkness and choral synth chords. The brass sound that pervades the song throughout is something that almost owes itself to grime music, perhaps an intentional move to align the music with the raw, brash sound of grime itself. In any case: another good song in a string of good songs, all with the theme of amelioration. Just 19 years old, he's definitely on to a winner.



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GUEST MIX 002 :: 99LETTERS

A second guest mix! Wow, what the H! What the F! I know. It's really cool. Like I said when I introduced Bawxxx for Guest Mix 001, a mix is a good way to not just show off a person's tastes but also their talents: mixes are kinda easy to do but difficult to master (like anything really). This next Guest Mix arrives courtesy of Japanese producer 99LETTERS, an evident aficionado of hard electro house and tech house. Of course, as producer, he creates music himself - and seemingly insatiably too, telling me that he has "make more music." Real name Takahiro Kinoshita, hailing from Osaka, Japan, 99LETTERS was first inspired by "techno and ghetto house," listing Boys Noize, Gesaffelstein, SCNTST, Hoshina Anniversary, Erol Alkan, Tiga ("...and more!") as current influences on his music.

Speaking of his music, there are a few tunes in this mix that are actually his. Yep, sure are. There's his breezy indie-dance-style remix of fellow Osaka-dwellers The Paellas' recent track 'Sugar', the crunch buzz of his original track 'Adios' as well as 'Gangurio' and its assault of bleeps, finishing with his remix of Gesaffelstein 'Pursuit' - a chopped-up, slow-techno tank of a track. Of course, there's lots of other things in this mix - from Daniel Avery to Erol Alkan, from Tiga to Canblaster: it's a long buzz-saw of heart-pumping techno and electro.

TRACKLIST
Circle Of Life (Lion King)
The Paellas - Sugar (99LETTERS Remix Demo 1)
Daniel Avery - Reception
Tiga - Mind Dimension
Gesaffelstein - Variations
99LETTERS - Adios (Original Mix)
Erol Alkan - Bang
Adam X - Fare Beat
Canblaster - I Can't Wait
Benjamin Damage - 010x (SCNTST Remix)
Mr. Oizo - Bruce Willis Is Dead
Boys Noize - Reality
Jeremy Greenspan - God Told Me To
99LETTERS - Gangurion (Demo)
Housemeister - We Need Cash
Gesaffelstein - Pursuit (99LETTERS Remix)



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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

LAZY INTERVIEW #17: BOTANY


← #16: SAMUEL #18: PSAPP →

At the end of last week I wrote about a really nice album. It's called Lava Diviner (Truestory) and it's by Botany and it's kinda a concept album built on the loose story of a religious cult praying for a volcano to explode. Whilst the songs worked out of context, so to speak, they most certainly worked in their intended order and I recommend having a listen. The atmosphere alone is really filmic stuff, so prepare to drift off and imagine.

Anyway. It was a really nice listen and I had fun going on the journey. There should be more concept albums. The flow is something else. I'm talking like I've never heard a concept album. But all of that aside, Botany himself was kind enough to lend his time in answering the Y/N lazy interview: lazy by name, not by nature. Please sit yourself down with a cup of tea or coffee or whatever you fancy, have a nice read of these words and enjoy.


Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do?
My name is Spencer Stephenson. I grew up in a small town in Texas called Weatherford, full of football-moms, chain restaurants, and conservative politics. I think the guitar player of White Denim is from here too. It's a place that anyone who wants to do or say anything moves out of as soon as possible. I make music as often as I can and schlep at a warehouse in Fort Worth, Texas. I would say I live there too, but I'm in a little bit of transient period. I don't live in LA or New York and I'm not from Detroit or Chicago. I have a life story that no one should pay attention to.

Why did you decide to start creating music?
I've been playing since I was 10 and making electronic and hip hop stuff since I was 15. I've always done it. It's a hermit-crab shell that I never outgrew.

How would you describe your sound? What makes you and your style stand out?
I would describe my sound as one that uses a hip-hop composition style to make anything that can possibly be made that way. I tend to gravitate towards themes like mysticism, wonder, fantasy, and the ancient world, anything that someone would call another person a nerd for liking.

Is there a perfect time and place for listening to your music?
That's totally up to the listener. I try to create enough of a "world" within the music itself for the listener to be able to listen to it anywhere at any time, but there are some places that are better than others. I'd recommend night time, outside.

What inspires you most when writing a song?
Usually a piece of an old record that would loop into something really interesting or pleasing to listen to. Landing on good drum sounds always pushes a song into the next dimension for me, too. If I like something I'm working on and that feeling doesn't go away then I'll finish the track.

What is your most memorable musical experience?
I opened for Panda Bear in 2011 in Dallas and it was the first time I played a big room by myself, to 500-800 people. It was really exhilarating.
Other than that some of my favorite musical moments have come from improvised jams between me and my friend Bruce Blay who makes music under the name Melting Season. We used to do a lot of free-form, krautrock-infused noise jams a

What are your favourite three songs at the moment?
Pharoah Sanders - "Greeting To Saud"
Four Tet - "Gong"
Ahnnu - "Mirror"

Who do you most admire in the music world?
Matthewdavid is doing some amazing shit with his label Leaving Records. They've partnered with Stones Throw for a few releases as well. Everything they put out sounds great and sounds so much more raw and alive than 99.9% of electronic music/hip-hop. When I first found out about them I felt a kinship immediately like "ah yeah someone gets it!" Some of the stuff on Leaving breathes so naturally you'd never know computers were involved. Perfect approach, and really relatable. To me anyway.

In your opinion, what is the future of music?
Well I see the kind of music that I do fully breaching the visual side of things. I hope to see albums released with some kind of fully interactive visual component, maybe one that is viewed through virtual-reality hardware. I often listen to music in dark rooms with my eyes wide open, it would be nice to put something in front of them and round out the experience that way.

Music is a personal experience and you can cherry-pick record stores and the internet and create a library that reflects your tastes perfectly in a much more specific way than ever before. I think we're at a point where artists are reaching for their own sound and identity like never before because of how saturated the music world is, and that's only going to make for a more personal experience on the listener's end as well.

What's the future of your music - what do you hope to do next?
I hope to just keep going and making music that I'm proud of. I'd like to work with more rappers and other vocalists, but not in a "featuring" way necessarily, not in a way that's sort of compartmentalized like "here's the beat, here's the singer." I'd like to work with vocalists who add to the music in a really integrated way instead of just floating over the top of it. That's not how I think about vocals. They're another instrument in the mix. I feel like too many vocalists give songs an ego and a face with what they do. I'd like to go the opposite route.

I'm working on an EP right now that should be out next year, I really like the material that's on that.

What, aside from music, is most important to you?
Staying on top of everything else so I can keep making music.


He comes across as wholly dedicated to not just the process of creating music but also to the intended purpose of music: listening. Which is a nice thing to hear. Enjoyment, as ever, seems to play a big part in whether music even gets made in the first place, and his idea for the future of music - a more pervasive visual element - is something that prolong, augment and even enhance the listening experience. I know that VJs exist but how often do you ever hear of a famous VJ? Matching movement, images, colour to sound (the video for Julien Mier's 'Super Tropic Tramp' is a perfect example) is probably as difficult as making sounds into a coherent, likeable flow in the first place.

Whilst he says "I have a life story that no one should pay attention to," I believe that a life story, anyone's life story actually, shapes the person they become. For a maker of music, especially one so entrenched in music from an early age, that life story is going to mark your sound somewhat. Growing up, he says, in the midst of a place "full of football-moms, chain restaurants, and conservative politics" might explain why his music is so escapist; it doesn't even lash out, it simply transports you from where you are to somewhere else.

I listened to Lava Diviner (Truestory) whilst I was walking around my own hometown early in the morning. It was still dark. Instead of the comfortable suburban housing and commuters walking to the train station, I focused on the music - I couldn't not. This is music that comes from a place where people feel they don't belong, and speaks to people in similar situations. For everyone else, his finely-crafted beats will attract you into the marginal soundscapes that live at the heart of Botany's music.



← #16: SAMUEL #18: PSAPP →



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