Thursday, 25 December 2014

WORLD'S END GIRLFRIEND – XMAS SONG 2014

It's Christmastime! Christmas! CHRISTMAS! CHRRRIIISSSTTTMMMAAASSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's Christmas. Again! It's cool. I like Christmas a lot. It's a lovely time of year. Just wish I got to see more snow when it rolled around but oh well. It's ok!

And because it is Christmas, Christmas Day in fact, here is a Christmas song. I've been awake since 5:30am playing Smash Bros., Nintendoland & Mario Kart 8 with my brothers after like 2 hours' sleep O_O. Now almost 3pm. I've had a nap now. And a shower. It was a good start to the day.

Arriving courtesy of Virgin Babylon Records (who are also responsible for releases by a load of interesting Japanese artists, inlcuding N-Qia, amongst others) it's a track by World's End Girlfriend, a musicmaking project by Katsuhiko Maeda, simply called 'Xmas Song 2014'. What more do you want in a title?

And it's totally fitting; the whole song is basically a huge variation on a theme, a nutty electronic virtuoso re-doing of 'Jingle Bells', which moves from cute, glitchy subtleties, through beat-heavy repetitions via distorted synth stylings and explorations of pushing synthesised sounds past what they're normally supposed to do, arriving at the end panting and breathless after a manic almost-7-minutes of hyperactive electronic symphony-crafting. In some ways, it's the perfect soundtrack to the manic energy, zany (yes zany) fun and excitement of Christmas – if you're not devoid of a heart, that is.

All the while, samples from 'Jingle Bells' are cut-up and patterned to varying degrees of legibility, making this one heck of a remix (if you can call it that) and one heck of a Christmas song. There are no words involved really, but if you want an utterly unique song to add to your catalogue of Christmas classics, this is the one. THIS IS THE ONE.

And the video. That's the other thing: it's just as crazy. Filled with the chaotic, magical fun of Christmas, how it should be, what every good Christmas film should effuse and be imbued with.

Merry Christmas everybody, MERRY CHRISTMAS!




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CARPAINTER – SUMMER LETTER

My bias towards things named after things from videogames continues with this one right here from a Yokohama-based DJ and musicmaker called Carpainter (real name Taimei Kawai, he also heads up label Trekkie Trax). If you know Earthbound (a game for SNES that was last year re-released on the Wii U eShop) you'll know that this is a reference to Mr. Carpainter, the leader of "the Happy Happyist" cult that appears at one point in the game. It's not my first encounter with Carpainter, but every time I re-encounter him and his music I can't help but feel warm and fuzzy thanks to the reference.

If indeed it is a reference. If it isn't and I'm just being stupid then I dunno, I might cry. Hey, it's Christmas Eve. I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt.

I don't know if it was released earlier in the year or it was just an unreleased gem that was kicking about in the ether – either way I'm just glad it's here. Kind of moving on from the footwork that seems to have characterised his music in previous months and years, Carpainter's sound moves onto one more inspired or at least influenced by UKG.

The skiffly beat in this track 'Summer Letter' is nothing but garage, with its kinetic hi-hats and pulsing kick, as are the the chipmunked pitch-shifted vocals, singing out with unintelligible yet catchy energy – and the occasional chops of these vocals seem tiny, but this is garage through and through.

Add to this a constant background bustle of summer insects chirruping, misty synth chords that add a kind of dreaminess to it all, heavenly synthetic harp noises, and you have a unique, subtly-dance-oriented foray by Carpainter into a genre that previously soundtracked the oft melodramatic lives of British teenagers 10 years or more ago, one that is joyful and wholly refreshing.




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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A. G. COOK – WHAT I MEAN

Have I written about anybody from PC Music here on YES/NO yet? Hmm. Not sure. Not that I remember. So that probably means no. But that is by no means a statement against them. I am quite strapped for time most of the time so I'm not able to write about everything that I like. It's often just what I'm in the mood for on that day; for instance, from the last 3 days I have a list of 30 or so songs, some of which I may never write about.

I sometimes wish I were multiple people – it'd be easier to do things that way. Especially if I could have one avatar for doing particularly boring things like… no actually, every experience should be experienced by me. It's my life, after all.

Anyway, A. G. Cook, London-based producer and the final boss of PC Music, has shared some music with us via Annie Mac's Free Music Mondays (meaning this is a free download too – back of the net). Mr. Cook and his label have gained a ridonkulous amount of attention this year, mainly from withholding information and generally making quite groundbreaking music; the sonic equivalent of shock-and-awe tactics; shocking audiences with "unlistenable" (to some) but expertly produced tracks before awing them with ones that are more legible, more conventional – something that might be like an exclusivity clause to 'weed out' people without open minds.

Maybe? Hmm. This is just a crackpot theory by me, however, and must not be paid attention to.

A. G. Cook's latest offering is called 'What I Mean' and it puts me in mind of a roaring fire inside a warm homely room as winter blusters outside in the cold – an oasis of heat in a frozen world – joyful vocal samples skilfully chopped and placed on a patterned paper-chain of melody, ornamentations above the diamond-clusters of synth, flickering above the neo-groove of the squelchy bass and robust, simple beat. It's also laden with vocal samples, a female ooo-ing and some male, I dunno, words and stuff, all serving to decorate this lightly lilting plasma surge of squeaky clean French-Touch-esque music. It doesn't exactly sound anything like any of his other tracks, and why should it?



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Monday, 22 December 2014

CELADON CITY – EVERY NIGHT

To be totally honest with you I was first attracted to Celadon City because of the name. Any Pokémon fan will tell you that Celadon City is the 'big' city in the Gen 1 games (Pokémon Red/Blue – plus later gens set in the same area), the big apple of Kanto, which has skyscrapers, a mall and a casino. A pretty happening place.

If you know all this already, I hope you didn't mind me saying it. If you didn't, go play a Pokémon game or like, go read about it on Bulbapedia.

With all that said I'd like to introduce Celadon City. Well, not really "introduce" because he's not here or anything. Rather, I'd like to introduce a new song of his called 'Every Night'.

In keeping with the VGM theme we started on, it kind of sounds a little bit like something that could soundtrack the gentle, sleepy atmosphere of night in Animal Crossing – at least at the beginning; soft guitar arpeggios and delicate piano twinkles ripple alongside nocturnal breezes and sampled insectoid chirruping.

But then there are claps, percussive ticking sounds, ghostly javelins of icy synth, muted strings, a more robust exploration of those piano sounds growing richer and more fulsome. And towards the end, after a tease of a beat, it arrives with crashing intensity, cymbals exploding like fireworks and frenetic clockwork hi-hats taking up the higher end of a swaying beat, an ear-satisfying crescendo of sound.



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Sunday, 21 December 2014

JONAH BASEBALL – WORLD SERIES

Man I don't know a lot about baseball or anything like that but this track by Jonah Baseball sure is really cool. It's called 'World Series' and it I guess effuses the same final boss / colosseum tournament at Dressrosa in One Piece that the World Series must have. Actually it's more of a journey of sound that I suppose is inspired by the World Series, the romance and the history of it all, the uninterrupted majesty of legacies made and broken.

See, I don't know anything about it but I got a bit of borrowed nostalgia for something I've never experienced from this track. It must be a good track. An electronic symphony to baseball in like five parts, it begins with the ominous mystery and nervous tension that stepping up to the plate must produce. Wiggly chords and synth vox make misty atmospheres over a snappy, jangling beat, with each snare hit like a baseball being hit out the park.

Then the track rears up on its hind legs and goes nuts, destructed almost brassy bass swaggering like a giant, descending into super-crunch distortion after a sweeping, almost cosmic breakdown. Then we talk a relaxed walk to the rhythm of a beautifully skittering beat with accented hi-hats, emerging from the previous crunchy madness into a refreshing world of soft, jazzy chords, joined by thin mists of synth and a playful squelchy lead melody, a reminder that it's not all drama in sport but it's fun and romantic, too. A many-tens-of-thousand-strong crowd cheers at the end.

Jonah Baseball, who is from America and basically makes music + loves baseball, has worked some real magic with his music, leaping into conceptual storytelling and producing a mini symphony with distinct movements containing their own energies and moods.




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Saturday, 20 December 2014

CUT FROM THE TEAM。– POCKET TOYS

This guy called cut from the team。 tweeted me a new track the other day, well a few weeks ago it feels like now – I dunno, it was a while ago. That song, which I liked and stuck on a one-day-will-write-about list, got taken down (snooze ya lose I guess), however I found another more recent song that is a real good showcase of the beats that emanate from this enigmatic SoundCloud page.

I'm presuming that their name comes from that Taking Back Sunday song, but then again it's bad to make presumptions so I'll just say that it's a theory. It's a theory. And allegedly they are from Japan but then again they say they're from Lawtown so it's quite difficult to ascertain exactly which one is the truth. Who knows. That's the internet for u.

Anyway, the track in question is 'Pocket Toys' and, described by cut from the team。 as "broken beats around december afternoon," it's a chilly number that summons the crunchy cold of traversing wintry cityscapes, whilst at the same time itself being quite warm in tone – like sitting toasty inside watching the frozen world outside. Reverbing marimba sounds glisten softly like slow-dripping icicles in afternoon sun, joined by subtle whisps of boinging noises, cosmic sounds that summon the sometimes alien feel to a city covered with fresh snowfall; crunchy noises invade, like walking through thick snow.

The final part of the song brings a watery dimension to the crunch – an intense rainstick of slapdash, random percussion, or maybe it's a delayed sample of somebody screwing up an empty foil packet of crisps – with more high-pitched chimes evoke the strange delicacy that the freezing air and naked trees of winter seem to lay bare for us every year. And that's not to mention the beat at all, the substantial noodle of this flavoursome broth of music, a fragmented slow-flutter of thudding kicks and clacking snare hits.

A refreshing, chilled out exercise in textural, atmospheric beatmaking, even the slow lassitude of afternoon feelings — an ode to December.




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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

MAT PLAYFORD – ISON

When I was thinking about this track earlier I came up with the idea that it sounded exactly the same as the music for the first stage of Captain Falcon's Twister Race on Nintendoland. Now, as I listen to this bit of soundtrack afresh, I can hear that, really, they don't sound all that similar. Where did I get that from?

I think it is the motion, the urgent, hyperactive kineticism of Mat Playford's house track 'ISON' that made me automatically associate with the speedy vibes that traditionally go with anything F-Zero related. I first heard 'ISON' one night on the radio (think it was an Annie Mac show?) and couldn't help but love it. That was months ago. Since then I've been waiting patiently for a real upload that wasn't a 2-minute teaser on Black Rock Records and HERE IT IS.

It's an odyssey of squidgy bass and a gloriously cyclical set of piano chords that gradually come into focus in the first minute of the track, where cymbals and hi-hats invade the beat – pulsing kicks and understated handclaps with the occasional snare stutter – to give it more energy. Soon, the main event: virtuoso piano. Tinkling and 7th-chording all the over the place, a kind of jazz-flavoured mania of cascading notes that should cement Mat Playford as a very decent piano player, too. Please note: 3:11, the low-note pause; the muted breakdown at about 4:08; the gradually deconstructed, bleepy outro from 5:35-ish. Dynamics are strong 'n' subtle here.

It's like, yeah, like something that might play in one of the clubs post-race on F-Zero, hanging in a slick Mute City bar and watching the future of lounge piano playing unfold before your very ears.




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Y/N GUEST MIX 022 :: WINTER CHILL MIX BY MUS.HIBA

Mushiba means "tooth decay" in Japanese. Now that we've got that out of the way, I'd like to introduce mus.hiba. He is a producer from Hachioji, Tokyo, and when I asked, What do you do? he answered "I'm an office worker." It's a very modest way of looking at things and his music, subtly dynamic and often creeping up you with gradual intensity, reflects this. Recently, he released his first album on Tokyo-based Noble Label called White Girl – a beautiful exploration of wintry themes and the fragility of using artificial vocalist Yufu Sekka (from vocal database, UTAU) and her almost-alive, delicate whispery tones.

The list of inspirations behind his own music, when I asked him, feels very introspective, the hallmark I would guess of a bedroom producer, which is (I think, at least) how he started making music. mus.hiba is inspired by "Spending time alone, escapism, internet, the cultural climate of Japan, and music that gives a new stimulus to me."


A moderate loneliness and a positive mind.

MUS.HIBA, on what this mix says about him

Moving on from cultural climates, we get to the actual climate itself: yes, it's winter. And to celebrate this, mus.hiba has created a wonderful mix for YES/NO. Called his Winter Chill Mix, he explains the connection between the artists in the mix as "feeling winter and chilly vibes." — "I listened to these songs many times, they are my favorites." And that is as good a reason as any.

Beginning with the gloriously snowflakey and disorienting left-and-right panning in Blum's 'for love', we soon find ourselves at the mercy of multiple synth-gasms in the form of the high-octane, ear-tickling pleasure-waves of $aturn's remix of Diversa's track 'xxxXXX' and in mus.hiba's first appearance on the mix with his remix of 'Because of my eyes' by Tokyo band LLLL.

Mr. mus.hiba sews seemingly disparate elements together, too: we move by way of Irish producer Harmful Logic's lo-pitch hypnotism in 'Kitsune Mask (狐のマスク)' into the bustling mellowness in 'It's All Around You' by American band Tortoise, then back into the aching electronica in the clattering chill of 'Let Go' by London producer Bearcubs. Finally, Argentinian musicmaker Sobrenadar with 'Junio' and its understated icy chill leads into mus.hiba's own 'Moonlight', an intense end to a collection of songs that certainly deserves the title Winter Chill Mix.


• T R A C K L I S T •

  • I urge you wholeheartedly to check out mus.hiba's debut album White Girl – not only is it great on its own, but it's perfect for this time of year. Just look out the window on a frosty morning whilst it's playing~


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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

CATT MOOP – CATT MOOP #1

It's sometimes like really difficult to describe where things actually come from, who made them, what the point of such and such a release is, blah blah blah, it's just tricky. Gotta research things if you wanna properly know but sometimes the answers just aren't there.

Luckily they [the answers] are um kinda here with this track from Atlanta-based beatmaker Catt Moop (love the name – what does it mean? idk – the word "moop" just sounds great). Seemingly created for a newish SoundCloud page called FOODFIGHT, it has no name and arrives in a series presumably under FOODFIGHT's bio: "beat battles for fun!"

I like the idea behind it. Just nice and innocent food fights, I mean beat battles.

'Catt Moop #1' is a cool track. It is sunk with vibrating sub-bass, a moody mire upon which synth bleeps do their thing, pockmarked with nifty little dynamics, like a complete cut out of the volume or a gradual slow-down with the synth gradually reverbing more and more and imploding in on itself. And at the beginning there's a brilliant muted shout of FOOOD FIIIGHT! Yeah! LET'S GET MESSY!

It reminds me of a few things, which I will list now. It reminds me of Mr. Oizo-style French touch kinda stuff, with a cheeky melody that belies a certain idgaf swagger, pointy and electronic and sometimes decaying with squeaky distortion. It also reminds me of the minimal beats of London grime – a repetitive (and cheeky but we don't have to say it cause I already said so) melody against slow swaying beats. Then again, the actual rhythm is more trap than anything. So there you go – a cocktail of attitudinal flavours.




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Monday, 8 December 2014

SPAZZKID – DAYTIME DISCO FEAT NEON BUNNY

Spazzkid basically never fails to disappoint and in this instance the same is true in his brand new track 'Daytime Disco'. Here he becomes a super talented producer for the vocal talents of Korean singer-songwriter Neon Bunny, whose voice sings a gorgeously plaintive song over the super palatable flavours of Spazzkid's squelchy dynamic synth patterns.

These bounce on a jelly bouncy castle of sound in the form of bloopsome sub bass globules, which are the footwork kicks underpinning the wildly frenetic beat, skittering with exhilarating hi-hat-cymbal-combination gunning out with amicable-uzi rattlings. As ever his ear for dynamic is spot on; the beat loses its shit where it needs to, the synth grows fainter in some parts for Yoojin Lim's (Neon Bunny's irl name) voice to drop its beautiful mist upon your ears more purely, a break in the music makes room for the sample of what sounds like the cheerful chatter of a restaurant. It's lovely.

Little accoutrements finish it off as sonic ornaments in the form of bleeping little popcorn wiggles from left to right, and also featuring some dreamy guitar twinkling from Hiro Makino aka There Is A Fox (and it's not the first time he's collaborated either, having made a track back in spring with Spazzkid called 'At Fault'). I'm so happy to hear that Spazzkid, Mr Mark Redito, is continuing to attract attention from all the right places – this time from ultracool London / NY label Cascine – and that he's doing this with his group of international friends, too.




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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Y/N GUEST MIX 021 :: CLAS TUUTH

One day I will get better at creating the cover art for these guest mixes. For now, I will stick with making stuff on Paintbrush, a buggy port of Paint for Mac. If anybody has any suggestions, or can make art for free (some of the artists have done this themselves) please contact me. Thank you.

For now though, allow me to introduce Clas Tuuth. Well not so much introduce as meet him once more, as I did write about one of the tracks from his recent-ish 003 EP the other month. He's from London and he makes lovely organic-sounding electronic music, as if these electronics were plant matter or animal matter, and lived their own lives, living and breathing within the compositions with naturalistic ease. At the same time, they're filled with urban grit and a decidedly cold sense of loneliness – an almost melancholic feeling, yet content with itself, the soundtracks to solitary journeys and pensive moods.

But as for this mix itself. From the introspective ambience of Clas Tuuth's own intro in the form of his track 'Legion', it is a predominantly '90s-flavoured affair, a voyage through rave-inspired beats and heavenly dub. There's the cascade of beats in 'Hooligan 69' by Ragga Twins, containing within it a sample of Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy', the twisted synth fantasia in the Alley Cat remix of 'Charly' by The Prodigy, the dance-rap of Rebel MC's 'The Wickedest Sound' (featuring, I have discovered, the origin of the eponymous sample in DJ Fresh's 'Dibby Dibby Sound'), ending as it began with the beautiful life-of-its-own vinyl crackle.

It's real nice to hear some music that I didn't really grow up with, but that has inspired a whole generation of musicmakers with its unrelenting beats and simplistic approach to music. I hope you enjoy or at least appreciate :~)


• T R A C K L I S T •


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Friday, 28 November 2014

Y/N GUEST MIX 020 :: VIKTOR TORVIK

I can't remember exactly how or why I stumbled across this guy, or when even – I guess it was like a month ago now. He had made this mix of all these easy listening and lounge music tracks from the '60s and '70s, containing nothing obvious and only music that was fresh to my ears from all over the world. I needed a mix from this guy. Desperately in my soul. So I messaged him on YouTube. And now: here we are.

His name? Marco Luján, aka Viktor Torvik when he's making "retro sets" like this one. He's from Lima, Peru, and I was super happy that he shared with me (with us, you readers and listeners out there!) a lot of Peruvian music which I'd never dreamed of hearing, as well as some choice numbers from across the globe. This blog's middle name is Internationalism, so I deeply approve of this mixture from around the world. In Peru, Torvik is a DJ and also an underground producer of varying styles of music from jungle and soundscapes to lounge and easy listening.

"I am inspired by classic movies, exploitation films, old cartoons and TV shows from 60's and '70s," he tells me. "In the '90s artists like Towa Tei, Dimitri from Paris, Fantastic Plastic Machine, Luke Vibert, United Future Organization, Masters at Work, Aphex Twin and many, many others inspired me to create music." Whilst not listening to music, making it, or making mixes, he also DJs at a place in Lima called Eka Bar.


I wanted to choose a group of songs from all over the world and especially from my country.

VIKTOR TORVIK

So anyway: what's in store for you in this mix? Easy listening, lounge, jazz, Latin flavours, soft rock, psychedelia. It's a fluffy, mellow mélange of music that travels the world from the USA and Brazil to Venezuela and Italy (only half the countries featured in the mix), stopping off on the way for sojourns into the more popular and fleeting sounds of the '60s and '70s. From the USA we have Ray Conniff, band leader and arranger, whose creation 'Lowdown' is smooth and buttery, dripping with soulful guitar. Moving on, there's the weed-advocating 'Marihuana Mantra' by German group Kuno & The Marihuana Brass, whose controlled rowdiness is a soft rock invocation to the drug. Later on we're treated to Los Destellos and their Peruvian brand of Colombian genre cumbia in 'Volando Alto', a mix of tasty, bustling rhythms and rich waves of psychedelic guitar.

One particularly interesting story that I looked into (mainly because I spent so long looking for any evidence of her existence that I got engrossed in the process) was that of Emma Sugimoto. Born in New Jersey but raised in Osaka, she started out as an actress, then a model, then her debut was with 《アイ・アイ・アイ》 – 'Ai Ai Ai' in this mix – via Columbia Records in 1970, going with ELEC Records for a 1974 album 《エマは愛》Emma Is Love. She retired from all this in 1980 and married restauranteur Shimpei Wada, whose French restaurant "シェ・ワダ" – Chez Wada – is still open and, by the sounds of things (I think), thriving.

And on that note, I've spoken too much. Let's listen. The first time I listened to this I was having lunch with Bextree – I ate a toasted ham and cheese panini. Made the whole thing wildly delightful.


• T R A C K L I S T •


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Thursday, 27 November 2014

GUY AKIMOTO – BUG A BAE

Great cover art for this song. A bowl of somethings with a note that has a sad emoji on it. Being sad when there's cereal of that nature in front of you… well, it must mean that you're pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty sad. I'm not an art critic. I'm not a music critic. I'm… dunno. Not even a journalist. SUE ME.

Anyway, I stumbled across this and was 1) enamoured with the original source material – 'Bug a Boo' by Destiny's Child, from 1999 (and what a very 1999 sound it is) – 2) enamoured with the cover art, like I kinda suggested, and 3) enamoured with the netlabel that's released it, Manicure Records both in, 3a) aesthetics (its logo, at the moment at least, is the painting nails emoji) and 3b) its name. Plato had a theory about "ideal forms," which are he theorised so ideal that we may never know them (so like, there's the perfect form of a table out there somewhere, for a cat, for a mountain). What was I talking about? Everything just seems right. Yeah. Ideal.

As you can tell, it is essentially a remix of 'Bug a Boo' called 'Bug A Bae', the original vocals set like cascades of sapphires into the glittering platinum of its new housing of soft, euphoric trance. Pliable springboard judders of mid-range synth and buwow-buwow bass give way to gradual sharpening into wide laser sweep chords, sparkling in glorious syncopation to the energetic hi-hat shivering beat. There's a great little bridge, too, a beat solo as it were, where the the kick gloops with infra swampiness and there's spotlight on this metallic noise shining out occasionally like an extended version of the sound that plays when you get a coin in Mario.

It's tacky and loveable, mixing two completely disparate styles for a continued and welcome online renaissance of late-'90s flavours. ♥/10.

Oh wow— and it's by Guy Akimoto, forgot to say. He is from somewhere (was US? Now is Canada? I think?) and he makes music.



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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

MAEDASALT – 4U

It's always interesting to discover something new. And not that I never heard of this type of music before but rather that I've actually bothered to listen to it. Thanks to Twitter I thought I'd go check out an album by a Seattle-based musicmaker named maedasalt called (named called, stupid) you are special & that is exactly why i love you so much. Literally as soon as it started playing I was like wtf is this — however, I listened to it all. I couldn't stop myself. It is totally addictive. And really good if you have to do things at a computer, helps time whizz by.

x What is this strange genre? It's lolicore. What? Yes lolicore is like speedcore (super fast dance music, like rarely below 300bpm) except with less of the aggression. Rather in its aesthetics it follows in the same vein as loli-based stuff (a truncation of 'lolita' – yes the same as "Lolita" in Nabokov's creepy book), which is basically a hyperextension of what might be called kawaii or cute with regards to young girls. Kinda weird but that's that. Much like trap music seems to have paired with anime for otaku trap, if that it can be called, lolita sensibilities ooze into these extreme stretches of bpm for lolicore. Nuff said.

Anyway one song stood out: '4u'. Featuring rapid chipmunk vocals – so deformed that you cannot tell what they're from (unless you knew the original already) – over a sped-up drum-and-bass pattern, the track is filled with ascending melodies and toybox twinklings that effuse the impression of living Einstein's dream of riding on a beam of light with the redshift more like pastel pink and the blueshift more like pale teal. Yee-fuckin-haw. Then you realise its not space you're flying through; you're just zipping around and around and around attached to a mobile at the ceiling of a colourful plushie-filled distorted and giant playroom.

It's a ball of energy, not just through the sounds but through the dynamics, how and when the rhythm of the drums changes, when to change the tack of the vocal sample, all to keep it wildly interesting and me jiggling my foot like a paranoid maniac. So it came as a surprise to learn that the album this track comes from was maedasalt's "swan song", the final album made under his current moniker. The reasons?

because i’m also over feeling the way i did back when maedasalt started, which was over heartbreak. the dream ends and real life begins. from 2011 to this year i’ve changed as a person and it’s only fitting. i’m no longer feeling restricted to feeling bad for myself endlessly.

Fair enough (more from his tumblr post about it here). He also adds: "at the end of the day its all just lolicore which is inherently a silly genre, but i always made it with my own personal touch." Inherently it is a silly genre – breakneck bpms? Funny voices? That's silly alright. But silly doesn't necessarily mean lacking in emotion, lacking in depth, lacking in talent and vision. And with '4u' I was and am aware of something catching my attention, an inexplicable love, which usually happens when everything in a song is just right, and that takes some doing.



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Monday, 24 November 2014

THE FUGEES VS. NAS – SURVIVING THE TIMES (BOEHM REMIX)

Here's something courtesy of Boehm, a musicmaker from Bucharest, Romania. A good mash-up (do people still call them that) is always appreciated, and here Mr. Boehm (perhaps named after the German musician/inventor) has shown that you can be wildly creative even when there are TWO original tracks to consider.

There are no holds barred in this future leaning remix, totally juddering with an addictive tropical beat and accented with the glorious reverb of beachside guitars with the occasional ornament of bendy slide guitar like a seagull swooping as a sunset splashes its muted fire over the still-warm sand and gentle sea.

Xylophone tumblings give this a lovely forest-jam flavour, I say forest but I mean more like a little copse of palm trees, a coastal vibe that incorporates jaunty harmonica from I don't know where. It samples 'Fu-Gee-La- by The Fugees, the hook from the track reworked and interspersed between verses from Nas' track 'Surviving The Times'.

All of it sounds perfect to the bouncy rhythm here, the piano chords and the groovesome synth bass and the soft, triumphal chords; the backdrop to wild synth solos that seem to diffuse into the air like a solar flare in reverse, or like the synth-happy soundtrack to one of my favourite SNES games, Top Gear. It even ends well, the instruments bowing out to each other as we're left with the wooden roller-coaster of the xylophone melody to contend with, amongst other things.

Luscious sounds and a rhythm you can totally groove to; perfect for listening or moving. Probably goes well with a bowl of unadon or as the last song to play at work before you leave to go home, glorious glorious home.



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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Y/N GUEST MIX 019 :: IZZY'S CUP OF JOE W/ CREAMER MIX

Ok, so I tried to put this guest mix up the other day and it got blocked from being uploaded because of copyright. On one hand, fine, everyone needs to make money, I get that. But on the other: ¿why be so mercenary about it? What benefit do you get, really, from not allowing an tiny little music site like this one to upload a mix done by an up-and-coming artist just because it contains one track? "Oh but if everyone did it blah blah blah" – NEWSFLASH: everyone's NOT doing it. This isn't a protected beach that keeps getting all of its coral stolen.

This is people sharing things they like, telling a story with music, showing appreciation for other artists who might inspire you or just help you to get through the day thanks to their music. Shout out to all lines of code and robots and spiders out there blocking our freedom (not to mention the intellectual-property-appropriating jargon-spouting business boys and girls that create and endorse them).

Speaking of which, this is a mix by Izzy, one to help you get through the day, or one that at least illustrates a working day. Called his Cup of Joe w/ Creamer Mix (it is the second iteration of the mix with the offending track removed; the first had no creamer), this is the coffee you'd want at the start of a working day. What is creamer? I do not know. Is it this (non-dairy creamer)? Something milk-inspired, at least.


I am Izzy, an individual looking to express myself through various creative mediums.

IZZY

So now you might be wondering, Who is Izzy? Well, let's find out shall we? (A little bit, at least). "You may be able to find me trekking between the NY/Philly/Jersey area," he says cryptically. What does Izzy do? "I create. Whether it be music, photography, my sales job, I make sure I incorporate my own perspective to enrich my experience," he tells me. "I grew up on copious amounts of music. After a while making music just became something that I had to do."

Izzy briefly talks us through the inspiration for the mix: "These artists are all people who have inspired me in one way or another. People like AbJo, Toro y Moi, and Matt Martians, just to name a few, are constantly thinking about how they can further the music; I can relate to that." And with those artists he's weaved a simple background story for the mix itself: "Thematically, it feels like a recapitulation of an average morning," he explains, "the mellow feel of hitting the snooze button ('Aches' by me), literally getting into the 'Grind' midway (Mr. Carmack). Just gradually becoming acclimated to a new state of mind."

I imagine a lot of computer-based clicking and typing happening to the sound of 'Orange Juice Simpson' by Odd Future affiliates The Jet Age Of Tomorrow, with Izzy's own and fluidly brilliant – with its fragmented beats and warming sounds – 'Traveler's Cheque' being like a break for lunch or something, before the hectic 'Silvicide' and 'Navi's Dance' (by AbJo and PYRMDPLAZA, respectively) kick in to soundtrack the bustle of urgent bidness. I like to think the mad synth of aptly titled 'Synth City' by also aptly titled Chaos Kid is put in its place here for rush hour effect, the motion and movement of the track combined with its busy resonance to illustrate the quick crowds of hometime; which is where 'Mothership' (also by Izzy) with its feeling of exhaustion and desire to be someplace else comes in, back to the mothership for the night before another day at the grind.


• T R A C K L I S T •
  1. Telescope Thieves – R U Still Down
  2. FKA Twigs – Ache (Reimagined by Izzy)
  3. Toro y Moi — Rose Quartz
  4. Sango — The Differences
  5. Mr. Carmack — Grind (Lex)
  6. The Jet Age Of Tomorrow — Orange Juice Simpson
  7. Izzy – Traveler’s Cheque
  8. AbJo — Silvicide
  9. PYRMDPLAZA — Navi’s Dance
  10. Flying Lotus — Such A Square
  11. Chaos Kid — Synth City
  12. Izzy — Mothership
  13. Ta-ku — We Were In Love



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Monday, 17 November 2014

POST LOUIS – FRAGILITY (BEN HAUKE REMIX) • 初演 PREMIERE

Here is a remix of a song called 'Fragility' by London band, Post Louis. The original is something like a jagged escape to the country, a slice of guitar-led music that switches between slap-dash fuzzy sounds and melodic softness, a kind of art-pop indie feel that is many things at once, crashing beast morphs to curled-up cutie, as wonky and experimental as it is gentle and ear-friendly. You get the idea.

This remix is something else entirely. A different beast. Altered Beast. Another World. It is ultra-cool. Tiptoeing a tack that summons a smart and angled atmosphere, perfectly designed, intelligent and snappy. Sharp white-noise hi-hats count liberal time in the condominiums of the future in Ben Hauke's fabulous, glistening reworking of 'Fragility' – understated handclaps sneak in past the 10-foot-tall steroid-infected bouncers (don't worry about them, it's much better inside, you'll forget all about them, sit down, have a cocktail, it's on us).

A bassline with all the treble sucked out of it bounces the track along, lightly guided by the subtle boom of the kick, horn snippets rising through the walls like phantomatic, melodic car horns, quiet bongos veil like a mist as the alcohol begins to kick in – STRINGS, spectral strings, this is a sophisticated party after all. Vocals, messed with, submerged and surfaced and reverbing, chopped and thrown around, the iridescent lights catching the fluttering voices of people in the midst of this understated yet unrelenting dance-inducing track.




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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

VULPIXIC – 12AM

Who dis? Dis Vulpixic. Who dat? Musicmaker. Self-taught. Also studying for a PhD in ocean optics. What dat? "Atmospheric and ocean optics is the application of optics and radiative transfer to problems in the atmosphere and ocean," says Wikipedia. Then I went on a Wikipedia voyage and I forgot what I found out and ended up on the 'List of alien races in Marvel comics' – that's what always happens. (Not w Marvel but y'know).

Enough of this utter fatuous nonsense. We talkin about '12am', a track by Vulpixic (I guess the adjectival form of Vulpix), a veritable dream of a track, a pure blue sky day with maybe a few clouds tumbling across it because of an impatient but friendly breeze, a lake rippling and flowers nodding and smiling creatures like tumbleweed made of feathers bounce in meandering herds across verdant meadows.

It's upbeat, led by a three note bassline burrowing beneath it all, gentle beeps scurrying across your field of hearing with a cascade of chimes and metallic percussion added to the luscious mix, occasional glitches halting progress for the same kinda satisfaction I get from looking at architectural models – tiny but minutiae-focused buildings with tiny people doing all sorts of different things. Towards the end, synth vox veils the sound with solemn ambience, a different beat bouncing with restful yet determined zest.

  • This comes from an EP (or it's not labelled as such but might as well be) called Rabbit Reasons and you can grab it for just $1 over here. But as you can see you can download this one track for frees.



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Monday, 10 November 2014

SAUVAGE – MARÉE NOIRE

I first wrote about these guys a while ago, finding the beat and vocal harmonies and, well, everything about their track 'Camel' quite difficult to not become addicted to. They're from Paris and they're French and they're called SAUVAGE and this track is called 'Marée Noire' which is an epithet (literally means "black tide") for an oil spill in French.

This one is quite different to what I've heard before; it rings with juddering electro energy, bass jouncing along with the rollicking beat joining it, electric chords jolting across the galloping path of the rhythm. This is at least how it sounds in the first half. But a middle section announces the arrival of a fresh-rain-against-a-window gentle drum pattern, the entry point for the vocals, too, which almost whisper in this quiet section.

The track's second half is all groove, a contrast to the first half; synth chords seem full of feeling zap into life – which seem to breath heavily at the end – the bass holds court with its simple groovesome rhythm accented with octave-skipping notes, the vocal melody is not over-highlighted and smoothly sails across the crashing, raging waves as electric arpeggios sparkle like twinkling stars in the eventual crescendo of the track. All that's left is the kinetic beat.



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Saturday, 8 November 2014

Y/N GUEST MIX 018 :: STONEWALL KLAXON

This mix. It is a wholly original mix. It features only tracks from the artist himself, Mr. Stonewall Klaxon. Obviously, or perhaps not obviously if you're not au fait with Americano historia, this guy is named after Stonewall Jackson, an American Civil War commander. A few potential reasons why: 1. This guy is a Confederate sympathiser (being from Texas and all); 2. Apparently Mr. Jackson was something of a legendary person, why not name yourself after (kinda) him?; 3. Just cos it rhymes; 4. Don't know. Should've asked really shouldn't I?????????? lol oh well. Not the point right now is it.

The point is this is a mix with a difference because it's basically like hearing a Stonewall Klaxon live set. His music is like… really nice. It's beats-heavy, synth-heavy, a waterfallish cascade of electronica set to mostly uptempo rhythms, kind of in a paint-splashed realm between dubstep and footworky stuff, for instance with the white noise watercolour wash and pneumatic drill kicks of his remix of 'TBAE' by urlchild or the hyperactive synth stutterings and finely diced vocals in 'Gary Lazer-Eyes', coupled with the busy explosiveness of 'Neon Swords' and its gurgling vocal samples whose beat seems to hang in the air, and 'Cigarettes', where infra-bass kicks are the gloopy swamp out of which brittle mangrove snares snap and crack.

The mix, which includes samples of Link's sword-swinging shout in Ocarina of Time ('All Of Me') and Navi's "Hey!" ('Neon Swords', the set closer), and a sparkly remix of 'Latch' by Disclosure, pitch-shifting Sam Smith's vocals just ever so slightly, is luscious, the sound equivalent of breakdancing under a canopy of stars, or playing videogames with friends because one of them has a free house and it happens to be a marble-and-gold mansion of a place. Stonewall Klaxon, real name David Andrew Lunson, is 26 currently lives in Austin, Texas, "working as a chef in a restaurant downtown." But cooking skills aside, musicmaking comes first: "Music has always been my passion, and my true priority," he tells me. "I suppose what first inspired me to make music was simply being in the school band and orchestra~ playing euphonium, trombone, and cello."

The rich flavours and dynamics of his sound are, with this information in mind, easily traceable back to this classical and traditional training in music; you can hear the feel-good, triumphal nature of band music in each rousing hit of synth, and in its gentler moments, his music is certainly orchestral, albeit with electronic sounds – the melodies and progressions are so well done, so basically perfect. I've seen reviews of his stuff saying 'Flume-esque' or 'Wave Racer-esque' but you never hear anybody say that any classical music is 'Beethoven-esque' or 'Mozart-esque', really, do you? There is space enough in the music world for true talent and actual hard work to shine through, and it seems as if the gleams of Stonewall Klaxon are just about starting to reach the eyes and ears of the world.


• T R A C K L I S T •
  1. 0:00 Chords (Excerpt) (Vocals are Frank Zappa)
  2. 2:39 Gary Lazer-Eyes
  3. 7:27 Spherical
  4. 12:07 Cigarettes
  5. 15:21 Urlchild - TBAE (Stonewall Klaxon Remix)
  6. 20:09 Disclosure - Latch (Stonewall Klaxon Remix)
  7. 23:21 All Of Me
  8. 26:38 Neon Swords
All tracks by Stonewall Klaxon



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Friday, 7 November 2014

MARCIOZ – GOD AIN'T GONNA PAY YOU BACK

Well well well. This is pretty damn cool. Never before have I heard harpsichord in a song like this before, but here it, harpsichording away like some frock-coat-wearing, grey-wigged phantom of the baroque era floating over the distorted kicks of our hectic and noisy modern world. It arrives from the mind of 18-year-old musicmaker Marcioz, who is from Curitiba, Brazil, and it's called 'God Ain't Gonna Pay You Back'.

Flashing with antiquity, the track begins with the atmospheric and virtuosic harpsichord pluckings, soon joined by fallen columns of bass that seem to go on forever. Then from chamber music to a chamber of noise, as if you've stepped on a tripwire, huge laser beam synths shoot out at you with acid sharpness, loud and slick, accompanied by a screaming, spooky melody of synth. Later on this copies the harpsichord's melody, blooping all the way.

These chops of synth are replaced for the chopped up remains of some other track, these truncated snippets breathing over the the deadly tectonic beat whose kicks seem to move the very earth, and whose lethal snares slice the tops of mountains with their high velocity attacks; these sometimes turn into tongue-clicking woodblock clops, reverbing into the sophistication of the track. A vocal sample appears like a memory, framed by this mix of baroque music (the track ends with some mean sounding strings, too) and super-modern footwork-ish flavours – v unique sounds presented in a kind of satisfyingly jarring manner.



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Thursday, 6 November 2014

CARMELLE (HALCYON TONE) – WET DREAM

Not only do I fucking love this, it also has a brilliant concept. A really fun concept. Whilst on the surface of things it seems to be created by Carmelle, it's actually not as it seems. Ostensibly, Carmelle is a "Minneapolis Funk veteran" who, for the creation of this track 'Wet Dream', "hired a variety of local musicians in his adopted home of Lisbon to bring an uncharacteristically frantic pace to this, his biggest release as an expat."

It is pure fantasy. Carmelle, and in fact every artist featured on this compilation by Halcyon Tone, Halcyon Tone vol. 1: Reflection – yes, even "Yugoslavian-Italian songwriter and record producer" YUNIX – is a fabrication. Explaining themselves, the duo that is Halcyon Tone say: "Many concept albums have been written from the POV of some alter-ego, but Halcyon Tone have invented an entire roster of imaginary and often eccentric artists in order to express their eclectic (and electric) musical impulses."

It's all part of the entertainment, this total immersion in an imagined retro world, with characters as big and bold as any real life star of yesteryear. Rather than be inspired by retro things, be a modern-day person and make music that sounds like old stuff, why not create a whole universe of characters who actually existed back then, and whose music can be retrospectively re-discovered or posthumously released. The possibilities are infinite.

I wish I could write about all of these tracks but I'm afraid I would, uh, gush. Yes, that's the right word. I'd gush. So I'll just mini-gush about 'Wet Dream' (sounds wrong, sorry).

It is a vigorous disco-leaning, boogie-conjuror of a track, bumping forward with robust bass and a brisk jogging beat with supershaker hi-hats; punctuated with sparkling synth chords, delicate and subtle, joined by a different progression towards the end, played this time with a breezy organ. The verse holds in it a simple 3-note synth melody, supporting the vocals, which are incidentally the best part of this track; sung in falsetto and totally aware of how to make everything catchy, they ring with ecstasy and romance and I cannot get the chorus hook "Not a day in my life goes by / When I'm not thinking of you" out of my head. The lyrics are also incredible, full of rich, youthful imagery (you can read them all here). I am in love with this song and you could be, too. Just too damn charming.

I can't say anything else except that this is extremely interesting for me. I love the sounds, I love the concept, aesthetics. I guess I could say that Halcyon Tone are a duo, Josh and Chris, and they are based in Tokyo.

  • Please, please, please, please, please do yourself a favour and have a listen to Halcyon Tone Vol. 1: Reflection
  • Fun fact: you ever heard the term 'halcyon days'? Like a wordy way to say 'good old days'. But it comes from the Greek world for kingfisher, halcyon, which would often appear in late summer, thus cementing the term 'halcyon days' as reminiscent of very nice warm days of summer.



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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

AYSEN – ESTREMECIDO

Yes, this is four years old this track. But that doesn't really matter. I heard it and I liked it. What is the most strange is that the artist behind the track, a Chilean musicmaker called Aysen (perhaps named after the region in Chile, Aysén), hasn't really released much music as of late. In fact, the compilation this track is taken from, 3 estados (referring to 3 states of water; ice, um water, and water vapour), is made up of creations made by Aysen (real name Pablo Flores) in Santiago between 2007 and 2009.

In any case this is 'estremecido', which means 'shaken' or 'shivery' in Spanish, and it certainly lives up to its name. Great icicles chime together, heavily knocking into each other and producing waves of frozen air, wafting towards you with promises of cold: chattering teeth and red cheeks.

Even the beat is chilly, with cymbals gently shivering with frozen urgency, hi-hats stuttering, the kicks lazily pummelling the air with their gentle sub-bass; the snare itself actually sounds like someone kicking snow, grains of ice chafing together with each hit. A parade of claps, as if the song itself is trying to keep warm, joins this ambient ice music in the middle and at the end, waking you up from this bracing tundra of a track.

  • If you like instrumental experimentally like this, I'd really urge you to check out 3 estados for yourself. All the tracks can be downloaded for free.
  • Whilst Aysen doesn't seem active anymore, the Santiago-based netlabel that released 3 estados, Pueblo Nuevo, is alive and well. Check it out!



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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

ROBOKID – PANTHER

Du lourd! That's what I'd say in French. Means heavy. And this shit from Robokid is rather heavy, weighty – yeah, there's definitely a bulkiness to it, a dense mass of hard sounds. A congealing of liquid sounds into a more putty-like substance that rolls around consuming everything in its path, much like the blob in the 1958 film, The Blob.

Who is Robokid? A musicmaker from Boston. That's all you need to know. His track 'Panther' is pockmarked with vast, fuzzy sludgewalls of brass-ish blares, which form the bassline underpinning the bristling jungle-esque beat, itself a frenzy of urgent broken clockwork percussion. As this assault bears down on your brain, high synth soars in, lingering with eagle-call melodies; beeps 'n' bleeps join in, stuttering to be heard amidst tumbling marimba chimes that glisten through the heavy shades of this track.

It's kinda spooky sounding, but it's also kinda not; it draws you with its punchiness and keeps you there with its dynamic structure – its use of the space between sounds, for instance – and with its atmospheric noises, its busy bustling beat. What could be misconstrued as just one thing ends up being many things at once, without sounding even one jot jumbled or confused, an odyssey of proclamatory and exclamatory proportions. It totally knows where it's going and what it's up to.



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Monday, 3 November 2014

TDOYLE – COTTON CANDY CLOUDS

Ahh… tdoyle. I said it three times in the mirror last night (it was Halloween, yes I'm writing this from the past) but no one appeared. I tried it also with a hundred other different names of different people I know but no dice. Too bad. But anyway; news flash, tdoyle (which TextEdit keeps correcting to "toddle" which would be hilarious if it wasn't so damn annoying) might be changing his name. We were at Kami's Lookout (online venue) the other day and this was one of the things discussed. I won't divulge anything else though. Y? COS I AINT TELLIN U M8. Besides, I know nothing.

Anyway, here we are. A new track by Mr tdoyle. It's called 'Cotton Candy Clouds' (nice alliteration) and it is as the title says. Sounds like sweeties. Sounds like sugar. Popping arpeggios intermingle with more tangy arpeggios, each note seems to zing in glorious waves across a teal sky painted salmon pink with smiling, lazy clouds. It sounds actually almost as if it could've been written not from the point of view of looking up at the sky, but from being up in the sky looking down – from an airplane or something.

Yoshi makes an appearance, his cute lil voice sampled in the song's second half where claps run amok and synth chords almost like trumpets are triumphal and welcoming. There is a blissful simplicity at work here, something easygoing and uncluttered that makes it all the more easy to drift off to this one, really float 'pon it.

Wouldn't it be super cool if you could fly? That'd be amazing.



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