Tuesday, 25 April 2017


Arriving from Manila today is this solemn march of a track, this synth-heavy lament of longing, 'Consent To This'. Twinkling from its sombre and wholehearted beginnings, a moody VGM-flavoured intro with synth leads that lance into the distance, the song builds into loftier emotive heights where fizzing chords swell over the tumbling overdriven kicks and clacking snare hits, firework ornamentation with shivering metallics, the voice of Paolo Mauricio vaulting up into the ether and gliding on this dreamy bed of sound.

Those vocals drift throughout, slow, earnest, carrying their silky lilt over the various decorations to the beat – the additions and subtractions of hi-hats, the fluttering high pitch synth like blinking stars, the smooth flutey sounds in the last especially bristling chorus, the energised drum fill at 02:58, aaaah, the whole thing – over all of this exceptional soundscape swaying slo-mo and sleepy. All the elements come together perfectly, Mauricio's voice weaving through the aching bumps of the beat and the sultry swathes of synth draped over them, a beautiful sculpture.

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Monday, 24 April 2017


'Grass It Grows'? Well, the title of this "anthem to self-acceptance and individualism" can be explained by Cuesta Loeb, its creator. "No one tells grass how to grow," she says. "It just does, free of any force or pressure." The lyrics in the song are wonderful, speaking of grass that isn't under obligation "to be tall and green", and "travelling at the speed of me" amongst other things. It's an individualistic song alright, but written with simplicity, adorned only with this analogy of grass growing, a quality that impacts and aids its message of freedom.

And aside from the lyrics, how it's done, the sludgy bass underpinning palm-muted guitars in a basic riff, the slackeresque melodies, the dripping distortion, the fuzzy chorus, the combined dreamy lo-fi pop grunge of it all, where Weezer meets Warpaint—it's how it's done. Cristina Cuesta Loeb's voice range from the track's softly spoken verses to singalong chorus, the vocals firstly sidling and coy before launching into a sky of sound, layered and rich and uplifting, suiting both the instrumental and the journey of the song's words: from the innocuous grass on the ground, a leap up into the boundless feeling of freedom. W-o-w.

  • πŸ”” The supreme loveliness of 'Grass It Grows' is taken from Cuesta Loeb's EP, out later this year.

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A symphony of electronic excitement, this is 'Can't Keep Us' by inverness, a musicmaker from both NYC and Honolulu if you can imagine such a thing. The track bursts in with fizzy syncopated chords and puttylike vox elastic and bendy, similar to a sped-up lava lamp, and it continues to burst into dynamic spurts of synth and blasting bundles of kicks with a delicious thump to them, footwork rhythm underpinning with its addictive bumps the rainbow flavours of the instrumental.

It's busy and bustling, ornamented with snippets of celebratory brass, a pinch of Amen break, a telephone ringing, the song's titular vocal sample, thickets of luscious percussion, clicks and clacks and claps and tuned-down snare hits, some parts veritably spilling over the sides with rapid-fire stuttering synth chords. But it's never too busy and bustling. There is enough space between the sound, enough quiet amidst the loud, that this inverness track can deliver its kinetic energy without any of it getting lost, this colourful and precise display of sound, like watching the interiors of atoms playing with cartoons inside a glass case.

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With a title like 'Acoustic Punk' you might imagine something like a cross between gentle acoustic music and the noise of punk. If that is what you imagined whilst reading that sentence then, well, it's correct. This track by Swedish music unit Claesons is a combo of these two ideals, a bright blend of acoustic—no, almost chamber music, classical-style, new and experimental; of this, and of something closer to the quirky DIY of garage indie than punk. It's a mix of rough and smooth, beauty and energy.

The plucked guitar that begins the track teeters on mournful and in the same cyclical style as that guitar piece Romance, you know the one, cello solemn beneath, but soon leads into a thumping beat punctuated by the occasional crash of a cymbal, the main vocal floats in slurring and soaring, other voices haunt chorally above, all in all a sound like a cold gale, something internal externalised. The outro appears, long and languorous, a pinging guitar melody, soft piano, yet struck like distant lightning with peals of distorted guitar, disappearing into the vapour.

  • πŸ”” This is from Claesons album V.V.V.V.V., due for release on 28th April via Swedish label Lamour.

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Here is an end of the day song from Super Magic Hats, a bittersweet what-a-lovely-time-we've-had-but-how-sad-it's-over kind of song, a song draped in gentle electronics and set on a bed of chill. In order to fully realise this feeling of melancholic euphoria the song features Tokyo-based singer Mayumi (aka GrayNightly, aka Chelsea Terrace) whose breathy vocal whispers plaintive and echoing through the synthetics, an illustration of a person alone in the world painted by the instrumental.

A genuine Balearic sunset sound exudes from the track, a slow sunset winding into the hazy indigo of dusk: the soothing just slightly abrasive pulse of the bass, the slow melody pinging into the distance with delay and reverb setting it timeless in space, the later arpeggios, all of it a well defined melt of tranquilising sounds. At the same time swells of emotion crest with the track's amplitude, with additions to the beat – syncopated snares, rapid hi-hats – with combinations of the two weaving together for subtle dynamics, a gradual rise and fade from the day to dark with memories in tow. 'Seashell' is the transition to twilight, the voice of Mayumi leading the way like a guiding spirit.

  • πŸ”” This track is taken from Wish, the Super Magic Hats album released 15th March this year via Tokyo label PROGRESSIVE FOrM. It is possible to purchase it online.

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Monday, 17 April 2017


Intense is the beginning of 'Scorched', this journey of a track by Toronto soundmaker The Neon Desire: sludgy bass synth croaks and growls menacingly beneath the one-note yarn of ear-satisfying synth, soaring high and circling above the bubbling lava below, rising and falling but always airborne. The beat swaggers slowly, loping muffled thumping kicks and hip-hop flavoured snares, with beeps and boops flickering in the midst of the jagged heated atmosphere.

But it is this track's numerous transitions that give it real depth. The melody, beat and even the mood of this surprising piece of music change at every one. From 2:12, for instance, trance synths needle in spiny and threatening, freakish swirling sounds storming in as the beat double-times and thumps, joined by warming glassy chords at 2:36. A minute later the vibe turns chiptune with staccato chords bouncing along; a plaintive synth-flute melody begins to play softly. All through these transitions and later ones, the growling bass still curls underneath, the volcanic landscape still there tumbling and crumbling, its many facets, from molten magma to fertile fields, illustrated throughout the track.

  • πŸ”” This track is from The Neon Desire's recent self-released EP Deepest Blue, which you can purchase from Bandcamp.

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Sunday, 16 April 2017


In here is chill, in the haze of 'Smokkr', the impressive debut upload by Bels Lontano. Chiming cascades of harp swirling and dancing like sun glints on rippling water, shining and icy above the occasional bass making subtle forays into the foreground, warm and slow, whilst longed out stretches of synth wheel around above the plateau of tumbling offbeat downtempo bumping kicks and clacking snares, slicing through the smoothness and ultrachillment of it all.

Vocal samples ornament the track, calling out wordless and pitch-shifted into the nebula of sound, and simple arpeggios of synth boop and bleep. And with hidden, well executed complexity: as someone points out in the SoundCloud comments, the time signature changes with a break in the track, catching you off-guard but keeping the groove of the track intact, a wonderful execution of dynamic without obvious change. It's beautiful, crafted like someone's baked an incredibly delicious cake, as robust and substantial as it is delicately decorated, as good to look at as it is to taste.

  • πŸ”” So this is Bels Lontano's first upload, debut and utter fresh. And if this is anything to go by, there is more goodness to arrive. Keep your eyes peeled.

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Saturday, 15 April 2017


All along the quivering carapace is beset with jabbering angular synth like the ebbflow throttle of an alien machine, driving and forceful. The thud of the beat keeps time with electro sensibilities, the French touch thump-thwack clacking in the backdrop as the track tacks along its overcast path. It's a hearty potion of cold electronics, brightened by the ghostly vocals which seem apart and drifting above the slow gallop mechanics.

And into 'New Preset', by Stockholm-based Djustin, like welcome shards of sun on hard cold land, into the track arrive javelins of synth ablaze with uplifting light, lancing above the dark lurch of the beat and bass below, illuminating these lonely electronics like flashing lamps, the thin-air lustre of love or something like it, friendliness even, a new sheen of life. Dynamics of light and dark are wonderfully illustrated here, with thin synth juxtaposing thick, changes in key and the vocals ascending like the sun above clouds.

  • πŸ”” Djustin is Rose Suau and Johan AngergΓ₯rd.
  • πŸ”” 'New Preset' is taken from Voyagers which is the duo's new album out 7th May on Swedish label Labrador Records.

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Friday, 14 April 2017


Starting out on a gently fizzing backdrop, muffled vocal samples that reverb into infinite space, and percussive marimba clonks, LA musicmaker Machinedrum continues to carve out an energetic space in this dynamo of a track 'U Betta'. It's so named for the vocal samples that wobble and cascade throughout, otherdimensional and multifaceted sometimes and lucid at others. Mellow sections with delicate noises – where wide open spaces are ornamented with ascending guitar that warbles in spaghetti western dust and desertification – contrast with lasershot parts of maximalist intensity.

These segments are raked by plasma beam synths that cut into the enormity of space, left intact for the most part and utilised dynamically by Machinedrum as he pockmarks the void with rollicking booming drums, and siphoning into it the glare of the synths, thin and iridescent above and columning robustly below like some futuristic machine, these sounds interchanging with smooth cloudy synthetic vox that rise up in a robotic call-and-response between hard and smooth. All the while glassy chiming and pizzicato strings adorn these synthetic theatrics, ornamenting the surrealistic mirror surfaces and intergalactic noir feel of the track.

  • πŸ”” Machinedrum released Human Energy in September of last year. You can listen to some selections from the album on SoundCloud.

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017


Something special arrives today. It's literally draped in pulchritude, a slo-mo slam-dunk, homerun into a deep cloudless blue, b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l, do you get it? smthn graces us with 'interference', freshly farmed, just juiced, poured up and here it is in this milkshake glass of a site—here, you can taste it. The track has already been wrapped in superlatives but let's give it some more.

This soundular item bumps and bubbles, contrasting pools deep with calm where a sparse beat staggers along, all mellow sub and drip-drop, where a vocal sample urges plaintively "I'll be the one for you", contrasting this with segments where the kick thumps hard booming and the hi-hats t--t--t-t-ttt-tt-tick and the snare snaps and the synth flutters like a nervous heartbeat, the sliced vocal stutters and pops. It all feels somewhat frosty, like being able to see your breath on a school morning in winter.

The clarion call of the synths is difficult to ignore, the agility of their alterations, the bass-to-treble slide into the chorus like an awakening, exciting, instantly addictive; on the other hand: the gorgeous room to breathe throughout gives the song a precious delicate feel, as if the sounds created do not wish to say more than they feel they deserve, echoing the statement made by that aching vocal again and again.

What is said, in this case, is as valuable as what isn't said, and the spaces between the luscious noises that vibrate in this vessel are bristling with energy and emotion, like the silence after a secret whisper.

  • πŸ”” smthn is a new new musicmaker, having uploaded just two tracks to SoundCloud. Listen to 'pale', also emotive, icy, breathy—another beautiful exercise in sound and silence.
  • πŸ”” Both 'pale' and 'interference' are available to download for free. Do it and play it to your friends and tell them it's smthn.

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Short but undeniably sweet is this addictive slice of sound from musicmaker Blank. Not only is it dynamic in its bouncy slides between loud and quiet, bobbing around and positively jostling, but its clearly defined intro and outro, as well as the carefully crafted mood of the track, mark it out as something that deserves some attention. As such, it begins with innocent VGM-style synths, thin and small, setting a scene of distant homeliness as the the track appears to wind up and bubble ominously as if charging up a laser. And then it snaps into life with bustling thickets of percussion and smooth syncopated chords, footwork-flavour, and bulging bass menaces beneath it all, vocal samples "I'll run away" coming in chopped and strewn around.

And the next section, it's wonderful. It's a drop, of course it's a drop, it's been built-up and we freefall into this wide mouth of supercharged synths and whiplash rhythms that make it a dynamo of power and ear-satisfying amplitude. The neon chords strike at your veins, enter, and blast around your body, their tone one not of the overjoyousness but instead panic and frustration—and that's what makes it interesting. More of the brooding bass and again into this synth section, where the chords are wider, higher, thicker than before—before we reach the outro, where darkness seems to have fallen and home feels further off than it did before. The track feels precious in its simultaneous playfulness and maturity, in the sugary sounds that paint a picture of bitterer things.

  • πŸ”” This comes from Agari Vol. 006, a compilation by Sola, the sub-collective by collective Daruma. 'Agari' (δΈŠγŒγ‚Š) in Japanese means 'rising'.

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Tuesday, 11 April 2017


Do you remember the music for the Big Boo's Haunt from Super Mario 64? It's this that literally sets the scene for the level being as frightening as it was and is. This cold synth sound like a freezing gale gives a sense of abandonment and isolation, of adverse weather conditions that go hand-in-hand with things like haunted houses. And it's also how 'Advent' by 22-year-old Australian musicmaker Isserley begins, along with a handful of sub-bass kicks that drag us into this dark pool of lust and self-doubt.

Raspy hi-hats cut in, a sparse two-note piano melody plinks with hefty reverb before turning into something more horrorfully cyclical with more notes, creeping, inescapable. All the while, Isserley talks in aching absent monotone, quiet and breathy against the bass, effusing an ominous atmosphere. And then it hits: a moment of buzzing intensity saws through this, dense synths droning and crashing towards the end, the beat turning busier and rattling sharply like gunfire. The contrast between this heavy blast of brash sound and the small voice of the artist herself is stark, and enough to prove frankly mesmerising. Similarly it's an illustration of surface-level brooding calm and inner turmoil, stillness and the storm beneath.

  • πŸ”” Check out Isserley's 2016 album Messes, where you'll find tracks like the sludgy 'Daddy' and 'Deep Throat', which has a decidedly more industrial feel than 'Advent', with its ticking percussion, atonal synths crushed and grinding, simmering with its chopped and decaying vocal samples.
  • πŸ”” Aside from producing her own music, it turns out she's been utilising her sound for other projects. "I've been doing scoring for horror movies lately too," Isserley told YES/NO, "I'm scoring some of the new Silent Hill movie!"
  • πŸ”” Isserley is the second project of Roxxi Wallace, who is formerly of formerly existing duo, Girlflesh.

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Monday, 10 April 2017


Whilst Lindsay Lowend originally became known for the now seminal Wind Fish EP, his sound has continued to evolve since his VGM and juke infusion impacted on the nebulous infancy of internet music. Different styles effuse into the world from the mind of Tony Mendez, for instance this smart and snappy track from last year, and such is the case with this recent remix of fellow Washington-D.C.-er Young Summer's 'Paused Parade'.

The original track is a slinky number cradled in the arms of jazz with haphazard cymbal licks and flashes of crystalline piano. Lindsay Lowend transforms it into something else entirely, lifting the vocals and brushing them like watercolour strokes over a bold bustling backdrop grounded on thudding kicks that roll along a rumbling wobbly bedrock of bass.

It's a frenzy of juddering stabs of clanking chords and simple synth melody played that rifles along a few notes, ornamented with rasping metallic hi-hats and the occasional sparkle of electronics that sounds like a chime sweep, a subtle nudge away from the song's dark and vacant feel into higher more heavenly climes.

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