Friday, 28 February 2014

DE LA SOUL – STAKES IS HIGH (DEMICAT REMIX) [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Oh wow look it's Demicat. Do you know Demicat? It's like totally fine if you don't know Demicat. He's a producer from South Korea who makes nostalgia-infused electronic music, from heady wistful dance to the retro fumes effusing from his hip hop-style tracks. I've written about him before, in conjunction with another South Korean artist, the singer Neon Bunny, on collaborative track 'Singing Bird' – this appeared on his Out Loud EP, released last september. You can buy that for the decent sum of $5 (or more) from his Bandcamp page.

His penchant for the retro, namely the indomitable sunny sound of the 1990s, comes through totally in this new track he shared with the world a few days ago. Created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of hip hop trio De La Soul's debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, the track is a remix of one of De La Soul's tracks, 'Stakes Is High', from the 1996 album of the same name. The original clacks hard with boom bap, tangled with gloss tendrils of bass, but Demicat's remix is an entirely different beast.

Adding snappy rising-heat electronic chords, muffled with lounge-smart nonchalance, and the hard punchy beat of electro combined with its deliciously distorted squelch of bass, grabbing at your ears in its jaunty pattern, dynamically twisted the sound, blanketing sound with a vacuum of treble, building it up with thin whooshes of sound, the track's loudness subject to the excitement of a house track, all the while with the original vocals ringing crisp and clear in what could easily be a freshly squeezed piece of music from right here and now. But it isn't. It's a slice of the well-loved past, lovingly collaged with torn electro, scraps of house, framed with beats plosive in their bulging rigidity.

Free download via Demicat's Facebook page. What's not to like? Go go get it if you want want want it.



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Thursday, 27 February 2014

UKU – FOREST 5 AM (KIDKANEVIL REMIX]

I don't follow Kidkanevil enough. I should pay more attention. I'm sure between when I last wrote about him – which was possibly in the form of the interview that I did with him back in like May last year – and now, he's made some pretty nice music; but as you can probably tell, I've missed it all. What a failure I am. Well, not really, cause I'm here now innit. Better late than never, but that's a cliché and I apologise madly for that.

So Mr Kidkanevil, or Gerard Roberts as is his true real-life name, has gone and remixed a lovely track – it's 'Forest 5 am' by Polish producer Łukasz Plenikowski, aka UKU. The original is a high-speed clean-cut percussion-bristling clear liquid gloss of sounds, like your own heart and mind would in a forest at 5am, cold perspiration prickling, eyes wide almost bursting from sockets, every sound inducing paranoia, yet with the natural wondrous beauty of the forest whooshing by perpetually. This relatively sparse offering turns into something completely different in the hands of Kidkanevil, who imbues it with his characteristic glitch-laden style.

An unrelenting loop of bleeps that muffle and sharpen with the song's changes in dynamic: this is its opening riff. Alongside this, swipes and swishes and buzzes and chitters of percussion tumble along like a torrent of small stones and pine needles, crashing through the standing giants of the forest, dawn on its way, night still thick amidst heavy magic of the forest's atmosphere. A new set of bloops, rich and percussive zoom towards the end, bogged with sub-bass kicks, soon turning mystically thin, the melody transitioning to the timbre of glockenspiel glistenings as the track slows to a near halt. Its very last moments pop and click, bop and beep, blip and bwop, with an endearing, minuscule sense of silliness, as the first shards of dawn cut jagged through the trunks and thickets, shining light and relief onto the once indecipherable, eidolic scenes of twilight, fading out into day.

Grab UKU's Intension EP – from which this remix is taken – over at his Bandcamp for 5€. A small price for such delicious sounds.



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SEMAINE MUSIQUE #2

Encore une autre semaine se glisse dans le passé; encore un autre article en français. Si tu ne sais pas de quoi je parle, écoute – je suis anglais, j'écris sur de la nouvelle musique une fois par semaine en français, je lutte. Ça me fatigue.

Mais la bonté de mon coeur me persuade d'écrire plus en plus en plus en français, en anglais, en n'importe-quoi-ais, afin de partager la musique avec de plus en plus en plus des gens dans le monde. Quel noblesse! Tu penses pas? Bof, alors, lis ce que j'ai écrit, écoute la musique que j'ai trouvée, passe un bon mais bref moment. À plus.


YES/NO Guest Mix 007 :: BLUFRANK's Driving Alone Mix
Le septième guest mix pour YES/NO, celui-ci vient d'un producteur BLURFRANK du Caire. Il s'appel «Driving Alone» (français: «conduire seul») Mix, qui montre ses influences musicales, allant de super ultime chillwave de Toro Y Moi, à la danse lisse du millénaire (c'est-à-dire, Moloko). Les deux sons habitent dans ce morceau de BLUFRANK, où il mélange des cordes chaleureuses et une ambiance hallucinante avec un rythme dure et une tendance pour danser. Sa chanson «TR-808 & A Babe» est un bon exemple.


Lindsay Lowend – Basement Dweller Overture
Mon dieu! Merde! Cette chanson est géante, sérieux – son créateur est un génie (toutes ses chansons sont incroyables) appelé Lindsay Lowend. Pas «Lohan» – LOWEND. Tu le connais? Si oui, bon, si non, c'est bon aussi, parce que maintenant tu va le rencontrer et sa musique. Dans «Basement Dweller Overture» (français: sous-sol-habitant ouverture) Lindsay Lowend, nom et prénom Antonio Mendez, évoque l'ambiance des jeux-vidéo sans leurs images pour créer une atmosphère imaginative et aventureuse. Presque en trois mouvements symphoniques, le morceau progresse de l'electro qui suinte avec le dubstep lourd et sa basse dodue, puis une rafale de piano frais, finissant avec electro-funk glitch-chargé. Les sons de Lindsay Lowend sont trop délicieux, introduisant le style urbain (hip hop, juke, dubstep, etc.) à la geekerie de la musique jeux-vidéo. Je l'adore.


SUNSET – Ava
Pour une fois, je suis en train de parler de musique française. Enfin. SUNSET est un duo qui vient de Paris: l'artiste Raphaël Siboni, et Franck Rivoire (mieux connu comme producteur/DJ, Danger). Dans leur nouveau morceau le cerveau est déchiqueté par les synthés épais, pendant qu'une voix ferme parle lentement sur quelqu'un qui est née sur la piste de danse, si c'est métaphorique ou non – c'est à toi de voir. Alors avec des paroles cryptiques et des synthés qui cassent les oreilles, le son deformé coupe avec précision bien produit, je suis sûr que SUNSET va gagner certains fans cette année.


Onra – Gonna Make You Mine
Maintenant un autre parisien: c'est Onra. Si t'es français tu dois connaître Onra: c'est logique, non? Si non, découvre Onra – c'est un beatmaker né en Allemagne, qui a habité entre la France et la Côte d'Ivoire depuis l'âge de 3 ans, mais il a habité depuis 2000 à Paris. Euh, maintenant il a crée pour la compilation Saint Valentin de Colette (appelé «French Kisses»), la chanson funky «Gonna Make You Mine». Pas exactement le hip hop traditionnel – et plus comme la «future funk» adoptée par vaporwave – c'est plein de guitares punks éclatantes et la basse pulsative et renflée, avec des samples vocaux expressifs et des melodies synthés rosées luisantes. C'est parfait pour la Saint Valentin: doux, lisse, savoureux.


Aux Jennings – Need Me
Le rap canadien. Et alors? Euh, ben, c'est le rap canadien. Et ce rap notamment – de producteur/MC Aux Jennings – c'est cool, très cool, et il semble d'origine. Avec le hi-hat ombrageux cliquetant et la sub-bass de la grosse caisse lente, le rythme se balance, du lourd, pendant que des cordes synthés simplistes flottent dans l'air répercutant. C'est la perspective nouvelle, avec de la musique totalement pleine d'entrain. Tu peux télécharger gratuitement ce morceau, et aussi le nouvel album «MuckAFolly».


House Of Tapes – Last Words
Viens d'un nouvel EP, qui s'appel «Last Words» aussi, j'aime bien ce morceau par le japonais House Of Tapes. Ce n'est pas pour le club, c'est pour nul part en fait, en partie parce que ce n'est pas crée à cet effet, mais aussi car c'est bizarre. Ouais, c'est bizarre. Il a un son foncé mais affirmatif, évitant du genre et à la place examinant les sons pour la création d'une atmosphère pseudo-cauchemardesque d'un autre monde. Tout les sons répercutent, comme des bruits dans une caverne secrète; les guitares font cliquetis, avec leurs cordes conjurant le coucher de soleil. Alors, enfin, c'est expérimental, débordant de facticité fantomatique.


Ben c'est ça, ok? L'écrivant en français est de plus facile, mais encore ce n'est pas parfait ni correcte, probablement. Lis-toi ici la prochaine semaine pour quelques choses nouvelles écrit par moi. Et merci encore pour l'assistance de Nicolas Barrois. Vive YES/NO. Ciao.

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Listen to Lindsay Lowend on Soundcloud
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Listen to SUNSET on SoundCloud
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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

YES/NO GUEST MIX 008 :: MEISHI'S MIX FOR AILEEN

Happy Belated Valentine's Day! Wahoo! Why am I saying this? Well, it's because this Guest Mix – yes, this one, right here, number 8 – is a special Valentine's Day Mix, courtesy of musicmaker, Zoom/Lens founder, and overall lovely guy, Meishi Smile. Mr Meishi was happy to lovingly create the mix for YES/NO, but in the true romance of Valentine's Day spirit, asked to dedicate this to Aileen. I'd be stoked if I were Aileen, cause I've been listening to this on and off for the past week now (so yeah it's MY FAULT it's late to the V-Day party) and I really have been enjoying it. In just under half an hour, we travel from the sadness of Matryoshka's 'Slowsnow' to the open-minded heart-on-the-sleeve balladesque that is 'あの日に' ('Ano Hi Ni' – 'Till That Day') from the soundtrack for manga/anime Video Girl Ai in a wintry, plaintive journey of sound.

Puru's breezy remix of シャルロ or Charlot's '彼方' leads perfectly into a surprise addition to the mix, 'Goodbye' from Japanese math rock band Toe – this is a track whose drums you'll relish, wonderfully frenetic against the low, understated vocals. Then another big surprise was hearing a cover of Cyndi Lauper's 'Time After Time' by Japanese electronic/shoegaze act The Sleepwalk – aka Oshima Masaki, who, aside from running many other side-projects and alter-ego monikers, also composes music for videogames and anime. It's a lovely take on very distinctive track, now more scratched and distorted, digitalised for a new generation. Um where was I? Anyway you should probably just listen to the mix. It's great!


T R A C K L I S T :

  1. Matryoshka – Slowsnow
  2. シャルロ – 彼方 (puru remix)
  3. Toe – Goodbye
  4. やなぎなぎ – ビードロ模様 (fmtr Rework)
  5. Fantastic Remedy – One Snowy Night
  6. The Sleepwalk – Time After Time
  7. 電影少女OST – あの日に


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Monday, 24 February 2014

EARTHQUAKE ISLAND – 9 TALES ABOUT GALASTROPHY (REMIXES)

Last summer, in July to be precise, I wrote about an album called The Case of Galastrophy by an Italian guy who lives in Tokyo, Emiliano Ruggiero, aka Earthquake Island (so-named cause of that natural phenomenon of new islands being made from mud and stuff by undersea earthquakes, like the one off the coast of Pakistan last year). It was a lovely album, effusing intense chillment that was quite easy to get lost in.

Now well over half-a-year later, a set of remixes appear, reworking tracks from the original into new sonic offerings. Dubbed 9 Tales About Galastrophy, there are 8 remixes by 8 different artists, with one wholly new track from Earthquake Island himself. My favourite track from the original album, 'Fantastic', has been given a remix by another wonderful artist, Sun Glitters, placing it in more expansively brooding surroundings than before, retaining and altering the lone vocal sample – "…Fantastic…" – whilst a gravelly cascade of percussion blankets the track. Also making an appearance is Japanese beatmaker canooooopy, whose experimental hip hop style skiffles in sumptuous offbeats, providing consistent foundations to the ever-twisted noises from the original. Italian duo LIES provide their typical electro style in juddering piercing glistenings of synth in their remix of 'My Moon, My Moon', the original of which is a super-slow, fresh affair – now it pulses with up-tempo rhythm.

In a different remix, 'My Moon, My Moon' becomes a punchy, sample-invaded piece of alternative R&B in the hands of Godblesscomputers, a Bologna-based also known as Lorenzo Nada. This one is a moody remix that focuses on percussion, the synth sounds being rather understated, like a fog through which the beat marches rhythmically through. The atmospheric 'Flying Cat 2' gets a very dark reworking by Italian producer Machweo, inserting police-siren-esque noises and clanging pulses of menacing gloopy synth.

Super expansive rich synth chords in sombre progression dominate avant-garde Italian musicmaker Grovekingsley's remix of 'The Lake And The Mist', forested with bustling percussion, carried in a cradle of bass. My favourite is from Brussels-based Haring, cutting 'Sunrise On' into bite-sized pieces, chopping them together in stuttering succession, pausing for cold reverbing ambience, bass rising up into the final sample-heaven of the track soaring with whooshes of synth. Or maybe my favourite is actually Go Dugong's remix of 'Super Strawberry' – an exceedingly bassy number in its original form, rollicking with raw-sounding drums, has now become a weirdly swaying ball of energy; telephones ring, cheeky synth bleeps boil, samples of a girl laughing appear. It's full of theatrical intent, exciting as it is showy, full of electro attitude.

Lastly we have Earthquake Island's new track, 'So Bright'; founded on the skewed rhythm of an unusual offbeat, crowded with ripping snares and multi-claps tick-tocked with neat hi-hats, it features convulsing waves of bass around which heartfelt merry-go-rounds of sampled sound and voices whirl in funfair peeling-paint nostalgia above; the height of summer; running around having fun; reclining in the heartbeat pulse of the sun. This collection of artists have, with like-minded intention, remixed the songs of Earthquake Island not overtly, not dramatically, but in some cases just enough to provide a dream version of the track in question – an alternate reality version, a Dark World rendition. As such, despite not being dramatic or wildly different, 9 Tales About Galastrophy warrants a listen, its chilled-out, twisted and often hip-hop-inspired vibe a gorgeous journey nonetheless.



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HARRISON – WHY YOU MAKE ME HAPPY [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Last time I wrote about Canadian trackmaker Harrison it was regarding his track 'Lolipop Love', which heavily sampled something else. In fact, a lot of his stuff is heavy-heavy on the sampling side of things – being a component of vaporwave in the form of funk-loving New Generation, I wouldn't expect anything else to be honest with you. But: all artists change, all artists evolve – they wouldn't exactly be artists if they didn't now would they? Gotta have like some certain degree of progression and amelioration surely, or if not that, a creative wandering mind which hates boredom.

Now, however, with 'Why You Make Me Happy', Mr Harrison might be trying something different. He released or perhaps it's more realistic to say uploaded the track a few hours ago, posting it on Facebook with the message that he was "Trying to grow up and use less samples." I don't know if using less samples is a sign of growing up, but changing anything about your musicmaking style is at least a telling sign of maturation. Tagged "Future Love" the track is sure of itself in its upbeat, spacey romance, sprinkled with cut-up vocal samples as it continues into its synth-led heart.

Cause it is pretty synth-led, glowing in the fizzing jaunt of the beat, shining like rays of light streaming through a window and cutting through the summer dust of a room; samples of outdoors background noise separate sections of the song, giving it a fresh, Springtime feel. By the end, all elements have been added: laser pulse high-register synth melody stuttering, clonking woody xylophone, whooshing future air of synth chords. All of it comes together, fluttering vivaciously, a clean, surgically-cut track that still possesses the sensual nostalgia of the type of songs that Harrison would sample – a sense of soul, romance, funk lilt. Shocks of sound cluster zip in the meld of everything, the pop equivalent to orchestra hits, the flummoxing caress of the heart thanks to this wholly new and futuristic yet retrodirected sound, a whistle awakening memory, life returning to the earth.

Uh anyway, this is from Toronto-based producer Harrison and it marks a significant change in his sound. Being only 18-years-old, there's plenty of room for growth despite being so clearly gifted and skilled at musicmaking as he already is, and as such I await with anticipation to see how his music will sound in the future.

This is a FREE DOWNLOAD btw (click yoself here).



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FVLCRVM – NOTCH EP

Hello and hi to everybody. Thanks to the wonders of free and plentiful communication media, people from all over the world are able to send me their sounds. It is honestly very exciting for a curious person like myself to stumble dizzily fatigued onto Facebook in the morning to find a message from somebody enclosing a link to some music. It could be from anywhere! But of course like all things, no matter how much I like it, I still add it to a list of things to feature and invariably this list gets longer and longer until it gets silly and I start afresh. But no longer. Organisation is now my middle name, hear me roar!

With that in mind, I'd like to focus on such a thing sent to at the beginning of the year. Sent by Slovakian netlabel Gergaz Records, this is the Notch EP from Bratislava-based musicmaker FVLCRVM. Having grown up playing jazz and funk guitar, as well as possessing the insatiability of a multi-instrumentalist, he self-admittedly fell in love with synth music in his teens, and since then has formed a band – NVMERI – as well as DJing and making music himself under his inscriptive moniker.

The variegated background in music makes itself known on the EP – five wildly differing tracks from the mind of a guy who "can't get himself to use the same pattern twice" (SoundCloud bio). From the offset in 'Work It Out' – a twisted vaporwave-sounding 80s affair in 37 seconds: glitching, sampled, noisy – you get to know that this is a producer who loves to make exciting, dynamic music. This is confirmed when the second track blasts into your ears, a smooth slice of soulful singing set to addictive juke beats called, funnily enough, 'Gospel of Juke'. Its slow glossy bass and popping-candy electro beeps intertwine with rich sun-god vocal choruses, summoning the dew-tipped grass of a summer morning; samples abound to make this a universally appealing track, and one that makes me long for some heat and some sun (it's actually sunny right now and I'm loving it). A slower juke vibe appears in perhaps more techno-inspired 'Yummy!', with its altered-vox samples swaggering low and the sub-bass kicks summoning the pure dirt-sludge of ghetto house; again we have beeps popping around, hollow intergalactically modulating synths, whooshing and speckling the bustling beat for a future-finding sound.

That futuristic feel also appears on EP-closer 'That's The Way It Is', whose slow-sway clicking beat evokes winding-down nocturnal chill and supports fog-like bursts of synth, tied together wonderfully with harmonising vocal samples: "That's the way it is / When you fall in love," lifted from who-knows-where. It's a gorgeous song to end on, sumptuous with a buffet of different sounds, crackling ambience in the background, fading out long and slow with sensual heavy breathing to accompany it. You could see the whole EP as a journey, a night out at a party with this final track indicating romance of some sort, thus becoming the proverbial "notch" after which this EP is named; but I dunno if it's open to interpretation.

Great disco house vibes – with perhaps some garage influence here with ongoing high-register strings and syncopating percussion – permeate the menacing analogue sounds of 'Prism Vision', bustling with rich synth chords and a thudding bassline that leads the track through itself to its post-Earth orbit, the remnants of our population dancing in the galactic night. Next track 'Tokyo 360' features as its mainstay the warlike booms of a taiko drum, enveloping the skittering scuttles of the house beat, thin synth chords popping mutedly till changes in dynamic bring about expansive extensions of synths, the introduction of modulated arpeggios, sailing and soaring until they fade, leaving the busy beat in place to finish up.

It's this faith in beats that prove FVLCRVM's Notch EP to be gloriously listenable; giving them such room to speak for themselves in many instances across the EP means that within the rhythm itself there is something for your curiosity to drink up. These are interesting multilayered tracks, not just in the beat, but in the clear futurism of the synths and other instruments, offering up rich time-capsules of music that do not overcomplicate but move on simply, often with forgotten ancient pop culture from the Earth of yesterday running through their veins in the form of vocal samples. It's something that suits here and now perfectly, from a musicmaker whose future work – which I hope will be even more varied and evolved – I look forward to hearing.

Get it now on a "name your price" (free?) basis at Gergaz Records' Bandcamp page (C L I C K).



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Friday, 21 February 2014

HOUSE OF TAPES – LAST WORDS

Japanese netlabel Tanukineiri is never one to shy away from releasing wholly experimental sounds, and that goes without saying for today's fresh output from Nagoya-based musicmaker House Of Tapes. Exploring an almost Gothic atmosphere of drone-like noise and abstract melody, his Last Words EP marks a change in sound from his colourful album released at the end of last year, Warped Colors; by comparison, the four songs on this EP seem colourless, monochromatic, but this doesn't make it any less interesting or engaging than anything else he's created.

With the whole thing free to download from the kind people over at Tanukineiri, there's one song – the title track, 'Last Words' – available for streaming so I thought I'd introduce you to that one in particular. An exercise in distressed sounds and close-to-exotic beats, in parts it sounds like a wildly distorted version of the potion shop theme from Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a dark yet affirmative sound that eschews genre for study of sound and the creation of an otherworldly, pseudo-nightmarish atmosphere.

With everything set to echo tightly, like noises played in a secret cave, the track moves from bongo-esque percussion and hollow distorted synths into a mellow jangling guitar melody, a mash of sunset-conjuring notes that floats scuttling over abrasive drum machine patterns. Around halfway through, evaporated synth chords surge and bring the track up almost to the level of pop, high-register string-like noises partnering with heavily altered, ever-echoing vocal samples. These seem to cackle well into its last moments, like unintelligible last words, where rhythmic drums muffled under the hot haze of some vast imagined machinery lead us into the last jangling of guitar. The track fades away with analogue crackles.

Experimental indeed, it fills the brain with a ghostly artificiality, moving between a cool positive ambience and a menacing judder of resignation. 'Last Words' is not exactly something to dance to, nor is it necessarily something you need to see live, but it is something to consider; it's something to hear, something to be registered by the mind, something to inspire wandering thoughts.

Grab the Last Words EP for FREE here (cliiiick)!



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AUX JENNINGS – NEED ME [FREE DOWNLOAD]

I love a nice collective. Who doesn't? Collectives seem to be where it's at these days. Like there are quite a few atm like A$AP Mob, Odd Future (OFWGKTA), New Generation, Futures Collective… each one is hotbed of collaborative creativity. Of course, individual endeavours abound and are actively supported and bigged up by other collective members – a karmic utopia of encouragement. Having friends is really nice, but having likeminded friends as set as you are on having your music heard by the world at large must be something else entirely.

What does this have to do with anything? Well this guy Aux Jennings is part of Halifax (Canada) collective Weirdo Click. That's where it all fits in, you see? Anyway, a few-few days ago Aux dropped a brand new EP, MuckAFolly, a collection of electronically charged smooth tracks packed with the distinctive flow of the 21-year-old rapper and producer. Purportedly, it's anti- its own genre, something that we all know glorifies some iffy aspects of itself (drugs etc.) and that is certainly a good starting point for any new artist of any genre. Speaking out.

Let's have a listen to one of the tracks from MuckAFolly, the gentle sway that is 'Need Me'.

Leading in with some bubblesome pops of synth chord, becoming the riff throughout, the track rests on slow sub kicks and skeletal rattling hi-hats skittering with precision. It's true simplicity, those chords not crowding the space, allowing time for the glassily reverbing sounds to breathe for themselves not enmeshed within other instruments. Aux's flow itself is interesting, moving ahead with as much commanding fluency in its slower moments as in the doubletime segments, layered with animated screeches to mirror more darkly the bars bouncing along, tackling with frustrated sincerity the many needs of a needy girlfriend (or so it seems).

It's generally just a great sound, a trappish hip hop that employs near-futuristic noises to give it this otherworldly feeling, an escape from the reality that the words themselves convey. Young talent like this (Aux produced all of this too btw), with all its individual nuances, paves the way for new movements in music, new trends, providing a fresh outlook on life as every singular mind could. Determination! That's all you need, after an idea or some talent. Anyway, you can download this track for free, or download the whole MuckAFolly EP here for free (clickety-click!).



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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

SEMAINE MUSIQUE

Je suis ici, en train de parler français. Bizzare, hein ? Qu'en penses-tu? Voici une épreuve de force entre moi et moi-même sur le plan de la langue. J'ai besoin du «français pour les nuls » mais je me contente de google traduction, des livres sur la grammaire française, et un petit peu de patience.

Bof, alors, «C'est quoi cette merde?» on dit. Cette merde est un rassemblement des morceaux que j'ai écrit pendant la semaine. Je pourrais avoir traduit chaque post, mais ce serait un manque d'inspiration, donc j'ai écrit quelque chose de nouveau sur chaque morceau. C'est cool, cool mais difficile. C'est totalement basique et il sera insultant pour le langue français, mais c'est ça.


Helfer – Designs
J'ai écrit sur Helfer (il vient d'Israël et – évidemment – c'est un créateur de musique) l'année dernière, en arrière quand il était connu sous le nom NoamiKo. Depuis lors, il a changé son surnom et a fait un peu plus de musique. À savoir, «Designs». Le son est énorme et intense, avec de la percussion insectoïde enroulée et sprintant le long des cascades luisant glacialement. La voix spectrale se fait l'écho dans la brume des bruits, la basse lisse en dessous, accompagnée de bips amples et de cordes perçantes. C'est la musique indie-glitch-électronique et demi-expérimentale et c'est très jolie. Le EP de Helfer «Air Drops» sera bientôt disponible chez BLDG5.


YES/NO Guest Mix 006 – N-qia
Ahh ouais. Je suppose qu'il n'y a pas de mot français pour «Guest Mix» mais c'est pas grave. Alors, N-qia est un duo qui vient de Tokyo: Nozomi, la chanteuse fantomatique, et Takma (alias Serph et Reliq), qui crée des paysages hors des sons organiques et électroniques. Ils ont sélectionné une poignée de leurs chansons pour le Guest Mix, cousuent ensemble merveilleusement, résultant en une demi-heure rêveuse et complètement hypnotisante. Fantômes bruyants mais doux du passé surgissant de ce duo intéressant japonais.


Saint Pepsi – Bieber
Tu connais «vaporwave»? Ouais? Non? Eh bien, c'est bon. Vaporwave est un genre sans genre en incubation pendant plus d'un an, impliquant l'échantillonnage des chansons funk et soul aussi bien que de la musique d'ascenseur pour créer de la musique nostalgique et onctueuse. C'est une explication basique quand même. L'un des artistes le plus réputés de vaporwave est Saint Pepsi; l'une de ses chansons plus récentes s'appelle «Bieber» et c'est, au fond, un remix de «Boyfriend» par Justin Bieber. Dégoûté? Mais non, c'est vraiment différent de l'original – Saint Pepsi l'améliore beaucoup. «Bieber» est un slow jam chaleureux avec la caisse claire roulante et l'air fanfaron R&B, dégoulinant d'accords synths enveloppés, finissant avec une mélodie presque sarcastique en sonorité. Il y a de la liberté dans cette musique, la liberté de créer n'importe quoi. Et si tu aimes ou pas, on s'en fout.


Simon – 城市車手 (Prod. by Long Nek)
Figure-toi que le hip-hop underground est assez vivant chez Taïwan. J'ai écrit sur un couple d'artistes de là-bas: Aristophanes貍描, une rappeuse qui a un flow élastique et sensuel, et Luviia, un beatmaker avec un style old school. Bien sûr, il y en a beaucoup d'autres – MCs, producteurs, DJs – qui sont actifs dans la scène hip-hop Taïwanaise. L'un est Simon, nom et prénom Simon Chen, un rappeur; le morceau «城市車手» (la français: «chaffeur de ville») dispose d'un flow confiant de Simon, avec sa rapide voix sautante et sa compétence décontractée. Long Nek – qui dit qu'il a crée «more than beats» – fournit un atmosphère divinement expressif, un saxophone nocturne pleurant romantiquement au-dessus du beat boom bap. Une bonne équipe pour le hip-hop, non? Je ne parle pas Mandarin mais ce n'est pas grave, le morceau sonne bien quand même.


car10 – I Don't Meet You
Punk! Punk japonais! Alors, peut-être que c'est pas punk et plus comme pop-punk mais il contient tous les ingrédients: c'est vite, c'est sale, et il y a guitares avec de la distorsion. «I Don't Meet You» est une chanson brève mais explosive par car10, un trio qui vient de Ashikaga, Japon. C'est frais, un mélange entre lo-fi et pop et punk et shoegaze (peux-tu entendre l'effet flanger dans la guitare?), tout a été enregistré «reel-to-reel» qui donne un son énergique, comme si joué en live. Leur album, «Everything Starts From This Town» sera disponible chez le label japonais Sauna Cool le 16 avril.


Alors, c'est tout. La prochaine semaine, la même (j'en espère). Très merci beaucoup à Nicolas Barrois, qui a m'aidé d'éditer la texte au-dessus. Et aussi, l'image en haut de cette page est «Une baignade à Asnières» de Georges Seurat – très français hein?

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

ONRA – GONNA MAKE YOU MINE

Hmm… you know those days that just seem to float like a nothing-mist, yet zip hastily to their own sunsets? Today is one of those days, and before I've even finished one cup of coffee it seems as though hours have passed by without my noticing their disappearance. Deary deary me. Anyway, we're not here to talk about that. We're here to talk about music. And in particular, we're here to talk about Onra.

Who is Onra? A maker of music of Vietnamese descent who lives in Paris; is that specific enough for you? I wrote about him before, when he created an awesomely slowdown-dreamy remix of Disclosure's 'F For You'. Only checking out his stuff when it appears in front of me, rather than actively seeking it out, I'm surprised that I don't indeed search it out – cause it's real nice yo. This time around we have a tasty little number from a compilation by "brick-and-click" clothing-etc. store Colette called French Kisses; essentially it's a Valentine's Day compilation. 'Gonna Make You Mine' – a romantic title, of course – is Onra's offering to this compilation.

Fading into your mind with a future funk feel – carried by a beat with plunging kicks, crashing snare, skiffly rush of hi-hats – the song is an instant body-mover. At least, for me it is. Maybe I'm just impressionable. But with that bass, bulging and pulsing along with the accented bass drum, it's difficult not to be dragged onto the virtual dancefloor. Minimalist funk chords in popping palm-mutedness whistle by, with occasional saxophone aching into the mix with supreme nocturnal romance flavours — cut-up vocal samples seem to be set to flanger, sounding like a synchronised crowd of voices. That's before the vocal samples proper come in (after a break with sharp-sharp cymbals), singing soulfully with reverb added, dew-dropped with glistens of icy synth.

It's a heavenly sound that takes the "piracy" of hip hop and sets it to work in a less brutal way, preserving sounds and snippets in order to build a neo-soulfunk track, rather than cutting sounds to insert above an equally cut-up beat; this – and some other recent tracks of Onra – suggest that this musicmaker, usually associated with hip hop, is taking a swerving towards something different. Not necessarily something new – just look at the vaporwave pirate-punks and Keats Collective's future funk, for instance – but certainly something full of life and worthy of a larger audience. Also, it just so happens to be a perfect sound for a Valentine's Day compilation: smooth, dance-inducing, flavourful.

You can buy Colette's French Kisses compilation over at their online store (click-click!)



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Monday, 17 February 2014

SUNSET – AVA

Well, here's something exciting. Music can be fun, lighthearted, addictive, and it can also be exciting. And in this instance, I mean exciting in the way that something epic is exciting. Because this song right here just effuses "epic" – but before we get too much into it. Who or what the hell is SUNSET and why should you care? That's what you're thinking right? Right? Anyway, SUNSET is a duo from Paris, made up of artist Raphaël Siboni and Franck Rivoire (aka Danger). Not much is known about them, but it's that intrigue that keeps people guessing and, in a roundabout way, interested in the music. That's kind of beside the point though, because the music itself works just fine without any intrigue at all (check out their previous song 'Krystal'). Aren't I just contradicting myself… Sorry.

As for the song. It's called 'Ava' and it reaches you in the form of a lyric video; usually badly animated fan-created items, instead SUNSET have created it themselves and literally just provided the lyrics, in small writing, at the bottom of a black screen. And it's a good thing too because I don't speak very good French so understanding the lyrics is a little difficult (not that they matter 100%). Since they're given, it's interesting to note that the lyrics are wildly original, featuring the fictional account of someone's – this Ava perhaps – birthday at a club, where they were born to a techno song on the dancefloor. Bizarre? Yes, but totally captivating in a way. These, I believe, come from the artistic mind of Raphaël Siboni.

On the other hand, we have the music itself. The stoical nature of the spoken-word vocals, in its low register, is drowned by the track's hefty truckload of synth. We have it in lighter, more airy forms, where higher notes criss-cross like icicles in a glitter of reverb; then we have it in almost suffocating, heavy bass crunch form, a dark tooth-grinding saw-wave collapsing your mind and giving it away to the pulse of the song. The drums, booming along in a slow motion ache, almost cripple your ears – the kick in particular nearly escapes the speaker to scoop out your skull. It's a massive sound, wholly entrenched in the mystic, Crystal-Castles-esque side to trance music, yet with a sensibility towards live sound that comes with the high-end production, the distortion being paradoxically cut with precision. What will come next from these guys? It will be interesting to find out; pairing cryptic poem-like lyrics with such a sound is something that will turn a few heads, I'm sure, whilst also breaking some ears with their menacing sound.

Oh and if you're wondering about the "1789" at the end of the video: it's the start of the French Revolution and also the name of Franck Rivoire's label.



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LINDSAY LOWEND – BASEMENT DWELLER OVERTURE

LEAPING LIZARDS! How did I miss this? I mean, I'm sorry for saying "leaping lizards" – I don't think I've ever said it before and I'll be damned if I ever say it again. Sorry. But in all seriousness: how did I miss this? Rhetorical question, mind you; reckon there's a whole load of reasons why I missed it, the main one being I just wasn't vigilant enough. Gotta stay vigilant. If you want to hear nice sounds, gotta keep an ear to the ground. Not the ground but at least in the direction of music sources. SoundCloud for example. Not fucking Vice magazine, that's for sure.

Words words words that's all I'm saying wordy word-word word. And they mean pretty much nothing, too. However, let's break the cycle and say some meaningful words; not in the poignant, single-tear-tumbling-down-a-soft-cheek kind of meaningful, but meaningful as in the "has meaning" sense. So, I wrote about Lindsay Lowend's Wind Fish EP after I a) freaked out about the name of the EP, b) freaked out about the music of the EP, and c) freaked out with regards to both of these things. I'm a Zelda fan (sorry if u hate but haha on you u suk) so it was natural to check it out. The sound was like nothing I'd heard before so I just wrote like a madman until I was limp and dried up like washed up sea cucumber. And I waited for more stuff to appear and it didn't so I treasured the EP and listened to it a lot.

FLASH FORWARD to five minutes ago and I played Lindsay Lowend's latest 'Basement Dweller Overture' for literally a couple of seconds (I enjoyed it nonetheless), but I'm tired right now and want/need to go to bed/do something else. Flash forward to a full day later and I'm writing this again, but now in the safe wakefulness of daytime.

The song begins with this indomitable bounce led more by the bass than the beat itself, which forms a nicely styled backdrop to the whole thing, the drums themselves thick and meaty. Something about the synthwork in this song is clean as anything – there is no dust to be found – surgical precision leads the way, with vocal samples or at least what sound like vocal samples sliced and diced and spread skillfully around like a clean mosaic of a buffet. The drums leave wonderful offbeat trails, oozing the heft of dubstep. But halfway through, what the egg happens? A piano solo; virtuosic and rich, it detaches your ears from the previous playground of electronic noises in that nodding-head hip-hop style beat, bringing you into a world where the music speaks for itself, painting colours of wonder and imagination.

That's before you're thrown into a chunk of electro-funk, filled with buzzing and elephant trumpeting sounds in a glorious section of glitch-laden cut-up style, filling your ears until the inspirational few notes that play at the end. There's always something intensely satisfying when you listen to a Lindsay Lowend song – maybe it's just me, but he seems to be able to conjure the same magic as the best videogame soundtrack without having to rely on any visuals whatsoever. His music is defined by jazz sensibilities – breaking off at tangents, having no main theme, exuding a wholly improvisational talent. It seems as though, with this in mind, this is the music of nerds or geeks or let's just say "the marginalised" – especially with this particular title, like an anthem for hikikomori – but then there are elements that boast the swagger of hip hop, the popular glitchgasm of dubstep, or juke's quick-step addictiveness, which throws any listener off with regards to pegging this in any particular genre or indeed annexing it for the benefit of some appreciation group or another.

What this really is… well it's the sound of a generation. It mirrors years of drip-feeding on popular culture and overstimulation thanks to gaming and the internet, retaining a retro nostalgia that makes for a clash of pre- and post-internet mindsets quite evident in the frenetic and wildly imaginative tracks from Lindsay Lowend.

BTW The awesome 80s-themed, souped-up Earthbound-Zelda style artwork was done by German sibling duo, Low Bros.



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YES/NO GUEST MIX 007 :: BLUFRANK's DRIVING ALONE MIX

Here it is here it is. Here what is? It's another Guest Mix, that's what! It's the 7th one. And who is it from but BLUFRANK. This relatively mysterious Egyptian producer resides in Cairo, part of a scene that often DJs at downtown club VENT – a club that seemingly keeps on going whilst political and resultant social unrest shudders in Egypt's capital. By its very name, VENT appears to be a place of release, a speakeasy of sorts where dancing and new music and poetry and film screenings and of course good old-fashioned hedonism collide in a fusion of meaningful creativity and fun.

As for BLUFRANK, I've written about him a couple of times before. Firstly his almost brutally minimalistic 'TR-808 & A Babe' caught my attention last year, and more recently I went back to check a couple of his new tracks. Despite being hard and bassy, his futuristic dance-oriented tracks display a love of warmth and atmosphere, something that is evident in the tracks in his mix; the prime example is Toro Y Moi, whom we all know and love as a key component of short-lived-yet-still-definitely-alive-in-spirit chillwave, with surprise throwback hits from Moloko and Spiller demonstrating BLUFRANK's love of smooth sing-along cusp-of-the-millenium dance. Despite being dubbed his 'Driving Alone', this is something you could probably enjoy anywhere at any time of the day.


T R A C K L I S T :

  1. Cherelle ft. Alexander O'Neal - Saturday Love (Toro Y Moi Cover)
  2. Task – Intro
  3. Thomas Bangalter – Club Soda
  4. Toro Y Moi – I Can Get Love
  5. Clive Tanaka y Su Orquesta – Neu Chigaco
  6. Spiller feat. Sophie Ellis Bextor – Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)
  7. Moloko – Sing It Back


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Saturday, 15 February 2014

CAR10 – I DON'T MEET YOU

Yes yes it is rather fun and incredible what you find at 2AM in terms of music. There you are just clambering through the thicket of sounds and suddenly— BOOM! Along comes this particular track that catches your attention, imagination, or both. So this is something I found. It's called 'I Don't Meet You' and it's by a band called car10.

The song itself is a heady uppercut of pop punk energy, a flash of lightning to the mind. Power chords cut through, flanging wildly – uniquely, too, especially for a punk sound – and drilling alongside the thrum of the bass and clashing crash of berserker drums. Flying around this oddball-slacker mélange of pop-punk-with-a-hint-of-shoegaze – a new form of punk, you could say – are the vocals, chaotic and lo-fi, yelling and singing, scratchy and distorted yet still melodic. At just one minute and five seconds long, it's fast and short and full of explosive life. Sounds good to me, how does it sound for you?

As for the band itself… car10 is a trio from Ashikaga, Japan, comprising of Shinya Kawata (bass/vocals), Hidekuni Kushida (guitar/backing vocals), and Takamasa Nagai (drums/backing vocals), all of whom you can see in that little picture up there. 'I Don't Meet You' is just of many inevitably tasty little numbers from the band's debut album, Everything Starts From This Town, out 16th April. Recorded analogue-style with, as shown by this particular song, a wholly tangible live sound, the album will be the second release on fledgling yet promising Japanese label Sauna Cool.



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Thursday, 13 February 2014

SIMON – 城市車手 [CITY RIDERS] (PRODUCED BY LONG NEK)

For your viewing and listening pleasure, here is something all the way from Taiwan. "Taiwan?" I hear you say, "But what's going on in Taiwan?" Good question. The actual answer to this is that there's a very nice underground rap/hip hop scene, to which the YES/NO-featured beatmaker Luviia and rapper Aristophanes貍貓 both belong; producers work with each other, MCs try their skills with different producers, live performances abound.

It's from out of this scene, pretty much like a circle of friends, that the two artists who make up this song appear: Simon, full name Simon Chen, is an MC who's a part of Lantown (part-creative-collective, part-rappers, part-videomakers, part-local-culture-promoters based in Yilan City); and Long Nek, a producer from Kaohsiung, a city on the south-coast of Taiwan. Together these two have forged a pretty awesome track called '城市車手' (chéngshì chēshǒu) or simply 'City Riders' in English.

Obviously – well, actually maybe it's not too obvious – I don't understand Mandarin. But thankfully Simon has provided the lyrics to the track in the video's description: perfect for google translating. However, google translate isn't that great and you can only get a vague gist of the song. With that said, it's better to sit back and listen to Simon's flow; it's chilled, confident, and clearly skilled as he skips over words in doubletime like it was nothing. Arguably, before anything else, a natural sound on the microphone is the best thing – after this, everything falls into place easy-peasy. The rap sounds great, clear and crisp, thanks to Long Nek's production, which has also given the track a blissfully soulful vibe – thanks to the funk-flavoured guitar, late-nite aching romance saxophone, simple yet accented bassline – with skittering boom-bap hi-hats and undoctored beat reverbing underneath.

It's the first I've heard from either of these two, and hopefully it's not the last. It seems as though, after a brief look around, that both Simon and Long Nek are pretty active anyway, so there's bound to be something more soon. Check the links below and get involved in this exciting underground scene.



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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

BIEBER – SAINT PEPSI

First, Saint Pepsi – the Long Island producer with his roots in the familial vibe of vaporwave – took care of Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Call Me Maybe' in a steamy, slow edit of the track; now, especially for Valentine's Day – or V-Day like some dotty old war veteran – he's remixed a Justin Bieber track; yep that's right – BIEBER. Taking vocals from the troubled Canadian child star's 'Boyfriend', Saint Pepsi (real name Ryan DeRobertis) has created a wonderful slow jam simply called 'Bieber'.

There's something wonderful about the track, something unique despite its apparent simplicity; but in the vein of the new punk that he is (and many affiliated with vaporwave in general, or more specifically with the collective New Generation), samples come from everywhere and anywhere, are used in any which way, and the intent of the song is contentious or as innocent as you want it to be. So there. Now listen up to 'Bieber' if you haven't already and share it with all of your friends because I'm sure they'll like it. Despite the utter meh-ness of the original, this takes Bieber's best feature (his voice) with none of the putrid production that goes with it and turns it into something fun AND good.

Beginning with a sparklingly cheesy intro, we're led into a world of slow-jam heaven with choral voices singing as you saunter along the way. Bieber's voice appears altered, low-register, at first, crooning over percussion and warm muffled synths that gradually thicken as the song goes on, rolling R&B snares skittering over thumping kicks. Even Bieber's rap is in there, the end of which includes his own catchphrase "swaggie" – and which Saint Pepsi throws at you again later. What the hell swaggie? Jesus H. Some aching synth solo beeps towards the end of the track – notes bending with an almost sarcastic lilt – adding candy-coloured electro fun.

So whether you think this is a joke or whether it's serious or if it angers you and you want to shove your own head through your laptop and jump out your window – that's up to you. The facts here are these: firstly, the song is a vast improvement on its original; secondly, it's clear that Saint Pepsi is going to continue to sample whatever takes his fancy – whether it's an emo band, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, or anything else in the public domain. Not only is it simply about doing what you want, sticking to no genre and feeling free to capture any mood or summon any feeling, but also the truth is, copyright laws aside, everything in the public eye ceases to belong to its owner the moment it is released to the masses. So just enjoy it or don't – it's your life.

PSSST… Saint Pepsi plays his debut West Coast (USA) show in San Francisco on 15th February, can you make it?



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Monday, 10 February 2014

YES/NO GUEST MIX 006 :: N-QIA

I first came across dynamic duo from Tokyo, N-qia, in the second part of last year. And it wasn't just their music; they'd teemed up with Russian music-maker Neeva on his Even If… EP for the song 'One Day'… then came their clatteringly beautiful songs for their latest album Fringe Popcical. They've, since then, intrigued me with their haunting style – Nozomi's vocals floating free and faraway; the electronic yet organic acoustics of Takma's (also known as Serph/Reliq) soundscapes. They were first inspired to create music together by "Sci-Fi films" and "X zone experience" – whether the latter refers to a super-scope game for the SNES called X-Zone, I don't know.

Now... a while ago they were kind enough to create a handmade mix for YES/NO, consisting entirely of handpicked parts of the N-qia back-catalogue in a whirlwind of experimental noise, electronic apparitions and beautiful melodies. So at the same time as saying THANK YOU to this super-cool duo, I'd also like to introduce you – whoever's reading this – to half-an-hour of hauntingly pretty stuff, mixed especially for your ears this fine day.


TRACKLIST
  1. 'Fearless' from Audio Illustrations (Bunkai-kei Records)
  2. 'One Day (ft. N-qia)' from Even If… by Neeva (Ritmo Sportivo)
  3. 'Ivory (Alter mix)' from Audiokult Winter Compilation 2013 (Audiokult)
  4. 'Sands' from Daybreak (elementperspective)
  5. 'Lafunk' from Fringe Popcical (Virgin Babylon Records)
  6. 'Earth' from Audio Illustrations (Bunkai-kei records)
  7. 'Sunshine-Mix' from Fringe Popcical (Virgin Babylon Records)
  8. 'Vinci' from Fringe Popcical (Virgin Babylon Records)
  9. 'Sailor' from Fringe Popcical (Virgin Babylon Records)
  10. 'Microfolk' Fringe Popcical (Virgin Babylon Records)
  11. 'Kaleidoscope' from Kaleidoscope (KUGK Musique)
  12. 'Lost' (Go-qualia In The Beginning Mix) from Audio Illustrations (Bunkai-kei records)
  13. 'Chooseone' from Fringe Popcical (Virgin Babylon Records)


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Sunday, 9 February 2014

HELFER – DESIGNS

Please don't say that I am alone in saying that I hate Sundays. They are rank with conservatism and stink of boredom and hold up a telescope to the very end of your days. Sunday opening hours are lame — super lame, in fact, and we should do away with them. Let's open up and embrace a new era of consumerism that cuts to the very core of this vile Christian-led freezing of life every damn week. Who's with me?

Can you guess that it's Sunday? So yeah it's that day. But luckily, I do this writing thing basically every day so it's no skin off my nose what day it is anyway. I just observe that Sundays are rubbish, that's all. Anyway. So here we are. And here is another song to moisten your eyes and tap your heart and jiggle your mind and skip over your skin; it's from a person who I've written about before, but who has changed their name. Formerly known as NoamiKo, this musicmaker from Israel now goes by the name Helfer – and this particular song is called 'Designs'…

Moving forward from a curling insectoid sprint of bleeping synth leads in the beginning, we're treated to icy glistening cascadings and simple-smooth bass that columnates the underside of the track. As the song starts proper, an aching grind of noise soars overhead, deep kicks bump below and rolling claps join slivers of hi-hat; vocals enter as heavily echoed snippets of refrain, giving the song a spectral dimension; noise crescendos throughout, spacey glimmerings with stringy richness dominating the richly bleeping soundscape and scratchling beat.

It's a huge, poignant sound that has developed from what I last heard from this guy. This is a time-travelling whirl of sounds that takes you from sofa to space station to proto-nightclub surroundings. Moving from totally unknown indie to underground indie is a small but frenziedly discernible step, and this is exactly what Mr Noah Helfer is proceeding with; indeed, 'Designs' is taken from his upcoming Air Drops EP, which comes courtesy of dunno-where-it's-based label, BLDG5 Records.



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Saturday, 8 February 2014

TOKYOLITE COBA (HIROTO KUDO REMIX)

You're like almost always guaranteed some fun when it comes to the variegated artists that wade in the warm shade of Japanese netlabel Tanukineiri's umbrella. Taking a pun for a name ("feigning sleep" but also "sleeping tanuki" – hence the label's Tom Nook-esque mascot), they've slowly infiltrated the minds and hearts of many an underground artist and listener; not least this faceless entity of mine called YES/NO.

Moving on. Two artists affiliated with Tanukineiri have just collided in a rather spectacular fashion, or rather, many artists have collided with just this one in a remix extravaganza. Songs from the Hello EP by Indonesian band Tokyolite (I wrote about their song 'Yes! Dance!' last year) have been remixed every which way by 20 – yes TWENTY – artists, including 食品まつり a.k.a. foodman and mus.hiba to name a couple of those with whom I'm more familiar. One particular remix really stood out to me and it has been on a loop for about half-an-hour because it's one of those golden-sunlight tracks: you never want it to end.

Who's it by? Hiroto Kudo, that's who. I wrote about his song 'Magic Raincoat' at the height of last summer's heat and enjoyed his music very much. Now, confronted with this wholly awesome remix, I'm left gasping for breath as I watch the song tick away to its end before pressing play again. Taking the vocals from Tokyolite's 'Coba' (presumably named after the ruins of the Mayan city that go by the same name), Kudo twists them and squeezes them through his magical remix machine, giving them a multi-layered poignancy with their achingly delicious high-register and far-flung echoes above the spectral gusts of synth that whirl underneath.

The track cascades with sundrip bleeps the whole way through and is soon, which is set to a dubstep-flavoured beat swaying as if through a blustering torrent of pent-up appreciation for beauty. Explosions of fizzy white noise erupt around halfway through, giving the track an unprecedented rush of energy and an exciting booming dynamic: a surprise gift in a shower of presents. To create this different a song from the original – a Latin-like, funky number – is really impressive. Hiroto Kudo's knack for creating fresh music is nothing short of brilliant; so I'm, and you should be too, expecting even more great things from him in the future.

Grab the remix album Tanukineiri Sometuke Series Vol. 1 ~ TOKYOLITE ~ for basically free or pay what you want



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Friday, 7 February 2014

LAZY INTERVIEW #22: VULKANO


← #21: DCUP #23: HARRISON →

Meet Vulkano. Do you know them? It's ok if you don't. But perhaps you should. They inhabit a strange esoteric area of music, a kind of mystic post-punk – a Swedish girl duo who screech and sing and howl, pogo-stick with whirling energy and bash the spirits out of drums: all with visceral intent. Formerly members of Those Dancing Days, this week (3rd Feb) they released their debut album, Live Wild Die Free. It's a journey through forests, crepuscular creepings, rites of nature, cold and spooky atmospheres cradled in raw craggy basslines and frenzied drumming, as synths float like mists and farflung vocals hold your attention with their endearing high-pitched warcry tones.

But that's what Vulkano are like. Nature, love, friendship – these three things imbue their music as much as they do the people themselves. Having been making music for a long time, perhaps they feel that they have finally arrived at a juncture which allows them to couple their creative output directly with what their hearts feel. The energy of their music is overwhelming, the enthusiasm is evident; and (so I have heard) their live shows are, unsurprisingly, rather mad. Feeling the music is always a sign of a genuine love for music, however. Anyway. They were very kind in answering the YES/NO Lazy Interview, which is below.


Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do?
We are a two-girl band called Vulkano based in Stockholm, Sweden. We like to think we come from space and we are here to give music to the world. Cissi Efraimsson sings and plays the stand-up-drums and Lisa Pyk Wirström plays the keys and percussion.

Why did you decide to start creating music?
We got to know each other when we were 14 and we started to hang out because our biggest interest was music. We went to a lot of concerts and both of us thought it looked so much fun to be on stage playing for an audience and being on tour so we decided to start a band and since then we've played together. For us music is magic.

How would you describe your sound? What makes you and your style stand out?
Our sound is raw and filled with energy. It’s fun, primal and straightforward. We stand out because we follow our instincts and not any rules. When we play together it’s like the world around us disappears and we create our own crazy colourful creepy fantasy world. I think people can hear that in our music and like to be a part of it.

Is there a perfect time and place for listening to your music?
Under the full moon in the desert with a cold beer in your hand. You’re sitting in a nice chair in warm cloths with a home knitted blanket over you. You lay back, watch the stars and let the music take you out of your mind and out of your body.

What inspires you most when writing a song?
Nature, great songs, art, the superficial, volcanoes, other dimensions, colors, science fiction, space and life on Earth. We also inspire each other a lot. We are like ying and yang.

What is your most memorable musical experience?
God this is hard. Ok we’ll choose three.

  1. Our first gig with our first band called Her Peace. We were 14 years old and played at youth garden outside of Stockholm. Cissi who was the drummer played every song so fast. Lisa was so nervous so she had to skip school the same day. The gig went quite bad but the feeling after was something new. We totally felt like rock stars!
  2. Going to Japan to play with our previous band Those Dancing Days.
  3. Recording our debut album Live Wild Die Free in the nicest studio we’ve ever been to with the coolest people Patrik Berger and Nille Perned. The studio’s called Ingrid. It was three of our best days of our lives.
What are your favourite three songs at the moment?
  1. Julee Cruise - Floating
  2. Tussilago – The Sulfur, the Tar and the Smoke
  3. Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place
Who do you most admire in the music world?
We admire artists that go their own ways without compromising with their music and style. For example: David Bowie, Björk, MGMT, Siouxsie Sioux, Syd Barrett and Lykke Li.

In your opinion, what is the future of music?
Music is constantly changing. I feel like music right now is moving to a more electronic sound. I see a trend with less bands and more solo artists. More synth and more drums, less guitars. It also seems like indie bands and commercial bands sound more and more alike. I guess it has to do with that it’s so easy for anyone to learn how to produce music nowadays. I’m not sure I like this trend. I hope to see a much wider sound spectra in both electronic and “real instruments”. I also wish people will be brave and dare to make weird and different music. I don’t want commercial hit music to be the ideal for everyone.

What's the future of your music - what do you hope to do next?
The future of our music is to explore deeper parts of our creativity and come up with even better music and ideas. We don't want to be held back by anything, especially not ourselves. When we write new songs we are being totally open to whatever feels inspirational so that we don't risk losing anything on the way. We hope to tour around the world with our music. We recorded a psychedelic short film that will be released this year and we’d love to do more films beside of the music.

What, aside from music, is most important to you?
Love and friendship. It's important that we treat everyone the same and are open to whoever comes across our life paths.


As for Live Wild Die Free, perhaps you've heard 'Spider Spider', an eerie clanker of a song they offered up as a free download last Halloween, or maybe you've heard the epic wooded mystery of 'Vision Tricks' – both are a good indication of the album's proceedings. But it's more varied than you'd imagine from my descriptions – sometimes outright punk (as in 'Too Young To Die' with its mad screams of "Don't kill me! Don't kill me!"), sometimes gentler pop sounds, sometimes inspired by nature ('Jungle', for instance, which literally describes a trip through a jungle), sometimes not, sometimes noisy, sometimes stripped-down. But it's always a daring sound, sonically diverse and certainly appealing to anyone looking for a bit of energetic music in their lives.

You can stream the whole thing here.



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Thursday, 6 February 2014

BRETON WAR ROOM STORIES LP

When I first knew the release date for Breton's second (or "sophomore" like an absolute pleb) album War Room Stories, it seemed like an age away. Yeah, and I'd be a different person by that date – maybe I'd be a real person, with a suit and a nice house, and a part to play in local politics; with the whole world changed, we look towards a united effort in space exploration, and I look down at my hands and they seem older, wrinkled elastic. But no. It turns out that a few months zip by in no time. (The) 3rd (of) February arrived a lot sooner than I had imagined. How mundane to talk about a date like this, I'm really sorry.

In any case, it's not like I've been waiting for the date to HEAR the album – that's been done. Heard it a lot, in my car, in my room, and it's fair to say that a) I really like Breton and, b) I think that a lot of people around the UK will love it too. Having been played on BBC 6 Music, it's only a matter of time till they're on Radio 1 – that's when you get big in the UK, isn't it? Anyway, they deserve it. And whilst waiting for the album, there's been a steady flow of tracks and videos, even an EP, released in the meantime. Arguably the catchiest and addictive of these, 'Envy', starts War Room Stories with a bang, a tropico-indie sound, rich with orchestration and nonchalantly yelped vocals, the likes of which appear all over the album with near-intense coarseness that oozes satisfaction. A more melodic example of the vocals is in the dynamic folds of 'Search Party', where the guitar and bass guitar shine out with only minimal plinks from the orchestra, and atmosphere-forming house piano chords; that is until the end where bass gushes forth in brain-drowning quantities.

Where the vocals might not be exactly as strong as they are elsewhere is on 'Legs & Arms' – where they're sung through a megaphone. Maybe I just don't like megaphones or megaphone settings. The rest of the song – a kind of grey day revolution vibe – shows off the 44-piece orchestra with whom Breton recorded this album; rich cascades of strings and bolshie brass blasts, the kind we find on brash, synthy bass-heavy thudder 'Got Well Soon'. Here too the beat, as elsewhere, conveys brimming brutal energy. Recent single 'S Four' gives pride of place to its beat – which by the end is a towering beast of a beat – a fractured dubstep style that thumps below faraway vocals that ask as a simple, looping lyric "How will I be in two places at once? And how will I drag myself out from there?" – add to this rainy night garage-style pizzicato strings, videogame bleeping synths and you have yourself a winner.

Clattering schizoid drums roll their virtuosic way through 'Closed Category', regulating themselves towards the song's end as the strings reach a crying crescendo, a real mind-possessing moment on the album. A similar, energy-catapulting moment is the final part of the final song, 'Fifteen Minutes' – littered with saw-wave bass, gorgeous hi-hat fills and rich piano chords; snare roll leads into an up-tempo crash of sound, synth bleeps playing a buzzing lead, soon followed by the strings – cymbals exploding with the gun-stutter of mental snare and tom drum assaults, ending in a calm of background noise. That fast-paced beat appears before, however, in futuristic and noisy 'National Grid', whose vocals are thickly layered and gloriously laid-back alongside glittering star-like synth leads that lance through the fuzzy phasing bass.

Breton's penchant for hip hop beats, which was shown off in their pre-album EP Force of Habit, comes across in '302 Watch Tower' – a bouncy track which features hypnotising vocal samples and reggae-style bassline, both underpinning a sun-kissed beeping synth solo towards the end. A more experimental beat pops up in next track 'Brothers', comprising of percussive sounds rumbling in thick-aired, dusty rooms, heaped with reverb, like the faraway vocals and ghostly low-register piano. Around halfway through, it comes into its own however, and changes gloriously into a funky, disco number with a beautiful crowd of catchy vocals: an extremely danceable, and ultimately singable, track.

It's difficult to say exactly what is Breton's strength on this album – truth is, it's a lot of things and a lot of things combined that give them their signature sound. The new addition of the 44-piece orchestra gives songs that, perhaps without these soaring organic sounds, might not have the same gravitas as they do with orchestral ecstasies. That said, it's pointless to say that because these songs arrive with orchestra, so that is how they are supposed to sound – hypothetical 'well if they didn't have this then blah blah blah' situations are kind of a non-issue. In other places, the band execute unbeatable moments of excitement – the funk of 'Brothers', the climax of 'Fifteen Minutes', most of 'Envy', for instance – and this is mainly down to the undeniable rhythm with which these guys seem to be partly made of. Composition, and not just because of the orchestra, also plays a large part, with things like 'Brothers' turning from a genreless experimental sound into a tropico-funk disco; 'Legs & Arms' turning gradually from brash to beautiful; 'Fifteen Minutes' and its euphoric ending.

It's a stylistic, at times epic and often dancefloor-led, collection of music, familiar enough to please general crowds of music-likers, and creative enough to satisfy those looking for something new in the world of what is essentially indie music; indeed, it marks – and is resultant of – the evolution in indie music from traditional 'band' formations, adding not only classical instruments, but also elements of urban electronic music with which the music world is suffused: as natural as it is original.

War Room Stories is OUT NOW and available for purchase both digitally and of course physically.

Also check out the YES/NO interview with Breton's frontman Roman Rappak!



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