Monday, 19 October 2020

STH — FINISH CROSSING

⌾ LISTEN TO STH, FINISH CROSSING ⌾

It's on a backdrop of skittering Geiger ambience, the fuzz and dust of the years made sound and launched burrowing into the air, swarms of Big Bang television static, that Russian producer sth (short for "synthetic sequencing") overlays an otherwise calm, relaxing atmosphere.

There is a panicked feel in 'Finish Crossing' — noticeable in the bio-mechanical micropercussion shredding the air like paper rain, and the gurgling gΓΌiro-esque calling out like unknown nocturnal insects, the arrhythmic deep bass thuds — but there is laid-back lounge cool that exists here, too.

Electric piano chords spread muted gleaming softness into the proceedings, with later melodies inching in from far-off corners, and the clonk and woozy resonance of a vibraphone providing horizontal jazz. sth summons wordless vocals from the noise, adds a few drops of elastic synth and punches in dynamic punctuation (an abrupt one second of quiet at 3:16) to complete this comprehensive study in atmospheric sample-made music.


  • πŸ”” 'Finish Crossing' is one of the tracks taken from sth's album 35mm, the musicmaker's latest release for Russian label Radiant Sound. Recorded between 2018 and 2020, it's dedicated to analogue people living in the digital world. You can download it or stream 35mm on the label's Bandcamp if you like.

πŸ“ 
sth Internet Presence ☟
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Friday, 16 October 2020

CUUSHE — MAGIC


Cuushe is back. Recently she announced her upcoming album WAKEN via the fresh vitality of its first single, 'Hold Half'. This time around, it's 'Magic' that faces up to the grey piercing light of morning.

A slow steamroller of a beat thuds as the propulsion to 'Magic', rusted metallic percussion ticking faintly at its mechanical heart. A set of heavy-hearted piano chords plays a downcast reverb-laden refrain; "I just wanna die.." Cuushe's voice whispers from this fog of sound. Craggy synths crack in mournful reply, a glistening gloomy call-and-response.

Starting quietly, almost from another perspective, later in the track her vocals rise up, outraged: "Magic... Why are you so silent?" A question perhaps posed to the once-dreaming individual now scrutinised by reality. Lightness eclipsed. This refrain cuts through a wash of intense sounds, synths glittering and roaring together with the clatter of a bright guitar riff — a combination of playful concreteness and fantasy synthetic noise that runs through 'Magic'.

It's all been brought to life with a video by director Tao Tajima. On a backdrop of footage filmed in the wilds of Tibet, it's a tale of ghostly girls tied with string to insistent flapping birds, drawn in their phantomic pastels by sometime Cuushe collaborator Yoko Kuno. The music — mysterious yet methodical in its makeup — matches the stark marching mountains and vast empty tundra.


  • πŸ”” 'Hold Half' is taken from Cuushe's forthcoming new album Waken, set for release 20th November on her label home flau. Pre-order it over on the flau bandcamp.

πŸ“ 
Cuushe Internet Presence ☟
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TAY NOEL — LAST TIME

⌾ LISTEN TO TAY NOEL, LAST TIME ⌾

With its beat echoing in a collage of ticks and booms as if caught in a looping memory, 'Last Time' is a vessel of tender emotion tumbled along by the multifaceted rhythm of time. Sultry chords paint a soundscape with muted synth glow, a picked melody adding a gentle delicacy to the scene.

All the while, percussion rattles, cymbals whisper metallics into the air, a lone, full-bodied snare explodes in the near-distance laden with reverb. Created by Virginia producer Tay NoeL, 'Last Time' is a gleaming marvel of measured, minimal production.

"This song came from a personal experience," the producer tells yes/no via email. "It was inspired from a mutual breakup between me and a girl before I shipped off to the Navy."

A hollow synth melody that calls out every now and then, a hollow, flute-esque R&B-flavoured beacon that stretches out slowly above it all. It's a sound that summons the spiritual aesthetic of old-school lovesongs, but in its descending notes, its hint of a mournful tone, it becomes emotive.

"When I create I need to have an emotion in my mind, either from personal or what I believe the song is trying to show me," he adds.

"In better words, I speak my mind and emotions through my music."

The unpretentious simplicity of 'Last Time' — and indeed many of the instrumental soundtracks to emotion and experience to be found on Tay NoeL's album The Vibez: Chill Instrumentals — calls to mind the vaporwave sensitivity to scenes, times, places, fantasy visions, nostalgia. But there's one presiding difference: this music remains gloriously rooted in and inspired by reality.


  • πŸ”” You can stream and/or download The Vibez: Chill Instrumentals, Tay NoeL's collection of instrumentals, over on Bandcamp.

πŸ“ 
Tay NoeL Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday, 15 October 2020

PAUL COUSINS — THOUGHTS IN THE ETHER

⌾ LISTEN TO PAUL COUSINS, THOUGHTS IN THE ETHER ⌾

Written "as a soundtrack to daydreaming," London-based producer Paul Cousins track 'Thoughts in the Ether' is all-encompassing. It toes a balance between warm pianos and gossamer threads of synth that tick with icy intent. It evolves organically, like the moment of pouring a drop of milk into the darkly glimmering black-gold depths of tea, or how smoke curls through the air.

"The scene changes reflect the different thoughts we have as we let our mind wander," Cousins says via email.

The gentle touches of piano, its chords and descending notes, serves as a heartfelt metronome to the shifting sounds. It may be intended as the soundtrack to daydreaming, but the slow piano melody seems to step into a fog of melancholy, a gentle realisation of deeper feelings when the mind steadies itself. The rhythm of the natural world floats past us, insubstantial; conversations, cars, convenience stores drift by; and inside, the slow tick of ourselves.


  • πŸ”” Purchase, stream or otherwise admire 'Thoughts in the Ether' in hypertext stasis over on Bandcamp.
  • πŸ”” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfDABxWSF0Y There's a film to accompany 'Thoughts in the Ether'. Created by director Edward Harber, it's "an aerial study of the North Sea from Happisburgh in Norfolk, documenting a week in the evolving appearance of the water."

    Cousins adds: "I wanted the video to take place from a floating viewpoint, and to be similar to the phosphenes we might see when closing our eyes for a few minutes."

  • πŸ”” Inspired by Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, the track artwork — following the form of videos on Cousins' Instagram account — was created in collaboration with London-based graphic artist Signalstarr.

πŸ“ 
Paul Cousins Internet Presence ☟
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Monday, 12 October 2020

FRANKIE REYES — ALMA DE LA PALMA

⌾ LISTEN TO FRANKIE REYES, ALMA DE LA PALMA ⌾

Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker — perhaps beter known for his label Gifted & Blessed and making house music as GB — has a string of musicmaking aliases. One of these is Frankie Reyes, the name behind the wonderful 'Alma De La Palma' — a fuzzed-out dappling of emotive notes 'n' chords for a sort of supercharged classical-minimalist lounge music.

With its soft and muted textures, the bold stretches of delay further heightening its languorous glimmering feel, the scattering of sweeping notes, 'Alma De La Palma' feels as though you're looking down and something through water. The rippling surface skews the scene; a hint of warped beachside heat, too hot to move, sparkles around the edges.

The notes themselves, a distant disoriented tumble of longing, pull classical music through the portal of time, leaving the wooden depth and angularity of the piano behind and exchanging it for the magic of circuitry. And in the minor chords and descending notes of Frankie Reyes piece, there is something reminiscent of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 aka 'Moonlight Sonata'; a sense of being tethered to something vital that, once close at hand, has moved on and away.

Here we have a sort of contemporary vision of the Beethoven standard. It was called "a nocturnal scene, in which a mournful ghostly voice sounds from the distance" by the composer's student (and composer in his own right) Carl Czerny. While Frankie Reyes' piece may not be "mournful", there is a lamenting feel that shapes it as similar in tone.

Less highly regarded, but no less atmospheric, the Castle Theme from 1990 SNES game Super Mario World — complete with the soft somersaulting of synthesised keys — is something else that 'Alma De La Palma' is aesthetically akin to. The Frankie Reyes track bubbles with this same, now retro, subdued and synthetic sound, and twinned with its classical, if not romantic flair, this is a song that captivates not just with its intoxicated effects, but also with its heartfelt composition.


  • πŸ”” 'Alma De La Palma' is taken from Frankie Reyes' forthcoming album Originalitos, set for release via Stones Throw Records on 23rd October. You can pre-order the album and listen to 'Alma De La Palma' over and over again on Reyes' Bandcamp.

πŸ“ 
Frankie Reyes Internet Presence ☟
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URTE — PERMAFROST

⌾ LISTEN TO URTE, PERMAFROST ⌾

Fraught with bristling space, 'Permafrost' by URTEis an intergalactic voyage of sound. At its centre, the drifting vessel: rocketship arpeggios, scuttling messages of ping-pong ball synth, resonant feedback emanating in a void of rattling 808 percussion. Either side of this upbeat tumble of angularity and plasma aesthetics, space weighs hefty in 'Permafrost'.

It's reminiscent of the Planet Zebes theme from SNES classic Super Metroid, the sense of a cold abandoned place leaking through its crackles and sparse instrumental elements.

Similarly in URTE's track, tension fizzles as bells glitter, mechanical chords press into earshot, an infinity of grainy sparks and decay, nervous percussion skitters amidst the ominous stomp of a kickdrum, and a sludgy bass bulges against the surface, poised with intent — dramatic sonic parentheses that further draws attention to the colour and kineticism at its core.


  • πŸ”” 'Permafrost' is the title track taken from URTE's Permafrost EP (obviously), arriving via London label Coyote Records. It's available to stream and/or download from Bandcamp.

πŸ“ 
URTE Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday, 1 October 2020

LIGETI QUARTET — S'ISCRAVAMENTU (COMPOSED BY CHRISTIAN MASON)

⌾ LISTEN TO LIGETI QUARTET, S'ISCRAVAMENTU (COMPOSED BY CHRISTIAN MASON) ⌾

The gales of sound in 'S'iscravamentu', conjured up by UK's very own Ligeti Quartet, are deep glowing squalls that dive into the dramatic scenery of Sardinia, its jutting outcrops, jagged coastline, carpets of macchia, ultramarine seas.

Concocted by English composer Christian Mason, the piece recreates the sea shanty-esque registers of Sardinia's own tenores — polyphonic folk singing that, uniquely for Europe, is actually a form of overtone (throat) singing. As such, Ligeti Quartet's treatment of Mason's reworking of this UNESCO-recognised folk music is necessarily rich and variegated.

Thick harmonies hang heavy in the air, and the scratch and staccato of the strings is resolutely tangible, but quieter moments see the instruments become thin, veils of sound lost in their own rapture of unnerving silent howls. The physicality of the instruments — their wood, the strings, the hands that play them — is such that you could imagine literally picking up and handling this music. It's that spirit of solidity that really reflects the resonant, guttural songs at the root of this composition.


  • πŸ”” 'S'Iscravamentu' is taken from Ligeti Quartet's debut album Songbooks, Vol. 1, marking their 10th year of playing as a quartet. It contains two vocal-inspired projects — one following the Sardinian cantu a tenΓ²re tradition, the other Tuvan throat singing — composed for strings by Christian Mason. It also features one song originally by Nunavut singer and composer, Tanya Tagaq.

    Scheduled for release on 9th October via UK label nonclassical, you can pre-order Songbooks, Vol. 1 from Bandcamp now, or peruse the album tracklist below at your leisure.

    Ligeti Quartet — Songbooks, Vol. 1 tracklist
    1. Sai Ma (Racing Horses)
    Tuvan Songbook
    2. Dyngylday (Good-for-nothing)
    3. Eki Attar (The Best Steeds)
    4. Kuda Yry (Wedding Song)
    5. Ezir-Kara (‘Black Eagle’)
    Sardinian Songbook
    6. S'iscravamentu (Deposition of Christ)
    7. Ballate a Ballu Tundu (Dance a Circle Dance)
    8. Satiras (Satire)
    9. Muttos (Motets)
    10. Sivunittinni (The Future Ones) by Tanya Tagaq


πŸ“ 
Ligeti Quartet Internet Presence ☟
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Friday, 25 September 2020

DANIEL BORTZ — YOU CAN STAY FOREVER

⌾ LISTEN TO DANIEL BORTZ, YOU CAN STAY FOREVER ⌾

With its haunting pitched croons lifted from Alicia Keys' 'No One' effusing from a backdrop of synths bleeding together and time-worn beats, 'You Can Stay Forever' by producer Daniel Bortzreads like a vestige of the past. It moves through forests of flustered elastic acid arpeggios, plumes of vox synth laying a fog over proceedings, while the stuttering echoes of thin, gleaming chords punctuate the song like strobe lights.

The faint syncopation of it all, the crushed indistinct hi-hats, the destructed snares and their harsh reverberation, the lo-fi aesthetic, its juddering dancefloor atmosphere (sticky floors; the floral tangle of beer and perfume) — all of it culminates in an unearthed relic of a track; a cassette plunged into a tape deck that conjures ghosts and memories of a grainy, unremembered time instead of sound.


  • πŸ”” This is taken from the new album by Daniel Bortz, Stay, out 16th October on Permanent Vacation. You can pre-order it on Bandcamp if you like, or memorise the tracklist below for fun.

    Daniel BortzStay tracklist:
    1. Grind
    2. Holding You
    3. How Far Can We Go
    4. South Beach
    5. On A Boat
    6. Smells Like CK One
    7. Stay
    8. Teenage Emotions
    9. Isolation
    10. Together
    11. You Can Stay Forever


πŸ“ 
Daniel Bortz Internet Presence ☟
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SCINTII — TIMES NEW ROMAN (PALMISTRY REMIX)

⌾ LISTEN TO SCINTII, TIMES NEW ROMAN (PALMISTRY REMIX) ⌾

Firstly an undulating wash of post-trance sound, the static sea of scathing synths and hiss that marks the start of this track feels panoramic, witch house-tinged, maybe, but less pentagrams, more amorphous futuristic mode of transport. This harsh, nebulous swirl becomes the backdrop for a restless scuttle of garage-tinged beats — the propulsion at the heart of Palmistry's remix treatment for 'Times New Roman' by Shanghai-based Scintii.

Leaving its electrified cosmic cloud behind, the track dives into a glimmering shuffle of percussion and gloopy bass, pitched clangs simultaneously rooting it somewhere physical while also darkly ringing in a metaphysical realm, a club night on another plane of existence.

While Scintii's original 'Times New Roman' sees her voice creep amid a lurching forest of synth, Palmistry's reworking fragments the vocal and scatters it like silly putty throughout, adding human — if warped — warmth to its cold, kinetic vessel. The change tempo towards the end is natural, satisfyingly so, like a train slowing for a station, further emphasising the propulsive power of the track as the track draws to a fizzy, ethereal close.


  • πŸ”” This track is out now via Houndstooth. You can stream it and purchase it as your heart desires from this list of services.
  • πŸ”” The original 'Times New Roman' was the result of a recording session with Danny L. Harle. "The main melody came to me while wandering round a shopping mall," Scintii says of the track "but I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Then I had the session with Danny and it just worked with the beat he was making. It really started to become about me feeling sure of myself as a musician and producer, going in a new direction and really being able to maximise my own voice."

πŸ“ 
Scintii Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday, 24 September 2020

DEKATRON — TIME FLIES

⌾ LISTEN TO DEKATRON, TIME FLIES ⌾

Punching into the ether with the anticipation of discovery, 'Time Flies' by Phoenix, Arizona producer Dekatron is a marvel of midiwave simplicity. The unconventional see-saw between kicks and snares in the robust beat gives it a unique rhythm, something which may have been conscious, a sonic illustration of the sea which is partly the inspiration of the track.

"I imagined ... an old sailing vessel sailing the seas with the ups and downs of the tides, as well as the ups and downs of life and survival in general. I wanted to cast the seriousness against a fun experience for the sailors also anticipating the arrival," Dekatron tells yes/no via email.

With the stripped-back instruments helping to place the soundtracking credentials of 'Time Flies' somewhere in a timeless past, it's the constant marriage of strings and bass with the rhythm of the beat that gives the track its kinetic power, that keeps it jolting, lurching forward like a storm-hit ship. Space is left for dynamic additions and subtractions, while more minimal segments with low, moody strings.

"I put myself in the shoes of the sailors and thought about the adrenaline pumping through them as they are geared up for destiny," Dekatron writes.

With imagination such as this laid bare, it's easy to look through the creative resources at any producer's disposal, and find the roots of adventure sprouting into a tract of sound that extends into branches and boughs, galaxies greater than the sum of its parts.


  • πŸ”” Listen to more of Dekatron's varied oeuvre of music over on his SoundCloud.

πŸ“ 
Dekatron Internet Presence ☟
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EDYTH — AGAIN

⌾ LISTEN TO EDYTH, AGAIN ⌾

'Again' by producer Edyth begins with resonating drone and distressed aging analogue textures, gleaming with poignancy like a key item suspended, spinning, glowing above an altar at the end of an ancient colonnade (Triforce, anyone? Or maybe when the key drops down with that glimmering sound when you defeat Bowser in Super Mario 64.)

Anyway. This is scene-setting ambience, and it grows more mechanical in its whirring heart, gradually moving into curling waves of static that envelop the atmosphere with intensity; the perception of a physical object, or a feeling, warping in memories over time.

The track effuses vaporwave, not only in its curdled sonic aesthetics, but also in how a pitch-shifted vocal rhythmically trundles into earshot, whispering sharply. Trap-flavoured sub-bass hops from note to note, somersaulting octaves in simple dance-mat steps, the constant tick of a hi-hat like the chain of a drawbridge raising — the portal to another realm.

Elevating vaporwave past its usual tropes and combining it with other contemporary musical traditions, Edyth creates a simple but blissful marriage of background aesthetics — and all the soundtracking potential they bring with them — and the close-at-hand vitality of a beat that roots 'Again' more readily in a real world setting.


  • πŸ”” 'Again' by Edyth is actually taken from an album called Sadie Pop, which was released via netlabel Kalibrplus. You can choose the preferred way you stream or purchase the album by clicking on this link.
  • πŸ”” Speaking about Sadie Pop, Edyth says that it's "meant to be a small but different type of beast from what I usually do," going on to call it "a refining of my production pallette and a gift to those that have enjoyed what I do as a beatmaker" and "a display of my love for the types of music I've loved listening to this past decade: wave, vaportrap, sad boy, cloud, witch house, dub, bass and phonk."

πŸ“ 
Edyth Internet Presence ☟
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HEIGHTS — SILLY

⌾ LISTEN TO HEIGHTS, SILLY ⌾

Occupying its time of existence with plumes of bass that collapses in on itself with potential, and with a restless energy curled like a cosmic spring that provides the aesthetic casing for the track, 'Silly' by Brighton-based musicmaker HEIGHTS is a tale of willing one thing leading to another, of inching towards what you desire.

While the propulsive kick-snare pattern and misty tick of cymbals keeps impatient time, the voice of HEIGHTS herself skips over the lyrics, the vocal nonchalant, lilting and heady, turning fully acrobatic in the chorus, splitting sentences in graceful slices: "And I want you to take this / lip lock / No shock / I like this kind of vertigo / From time / to time / I see you when my eyes are closed / No low / no lie / Seen a little light now I want to see the full storm."

Washed with an icy haze of ambient synth throughout, summoning a cityscape at night, HEIGHTS builds a story on tantalising lyrics, weaving between cryptic self-enquiry and concrete, relatable imagery. The opening lines paint this interplay with particular skill — "Would you believe I’ve still not made it home? / I still have the city underneath my bones" — and later announcing "Summer inside my soul" before a harmony of realness erupts with the refraining "all I wanna feel is love".

Splicing this poetic deftness and effortless songwriting with a moody instrumental that feels as though a post-night out atmosphere has been bottled up and presented in sonic form, somehow, the other triumph of 'Silly' is how its title belies its brilliance.


  • πŸ”” 'Silly' is taken from HEIGHTS' debut self-released EP, also called HEIGHTS, which you can stream on SoundCloud.

πŸ“ 
HEIGHTS Internet Presence ☟
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Wednesday, 23 September 2020

ATREM — SLICER

⌾ LISTEN TO ATREM, SLICER ⌾

'Slicer' by Japanese duo atrem — comprising Ryuichi Shima and Yusuke Kamimura — is a multifaceted being of a track. It all begins with the tricking of looped electronics, glistening drops of glitch, a tour of circuit boards and the shifting complexities of sound.

Streams of harmonised vocals flow into the mix. If you've ever played PS2 RPG EverGrace (2000), the way voices in 'Slicer' are so drastically instrumentalised may remind you of Kota Hoshino's surreal and vocal-heavy soundtrack for that game.

Before long, 'Slicer' shifts into gear. A crescendo of sound, bubbles and crashes into view, drowning out the voices. HEALTH-esque distorted synths swirl and slice through the bristling hyperactive breakcore beats that propel the track into its final section, where wordless vocals soothe the disjointed disquiet that came before.

A showcase of how this atrem can be as intricate as they can be aggressive, as blissed out and chill as they are dedicated to fully fledged noise, in 'Slicer' the duo have made a veritable journey of a track, a tale of kinetic movement, of graceful poise and letting loose.


  • πŸ”” Check out the dramatic 'Slicer' as well as many more morsels of music on atrem's SoundCloud.

πŸ“ 
atrem Internet Presence ☟
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GALTIER — DANCING ON RUINS

⌾ LISTEN TO GALTIER, DANCING ON RUINS ⌾

What begins as a dark take on the Hazy Maze Cave theme from Super Mario 64 — which certainly had its own set of subterranean-flavoured rapid-fire drums — soon proves itself to be much more than a tumble of pugilistic percussion. In fact, this is more like the rave going on in the level's underground lake that Mario must have missed.

Any imagined similarities aside, 'Dancing On Ruins' is a frenzied beast of its own. Syncopated snares crack, punching their own time over a cavalcade of kicks, glossy razor cymbals splashing a liquid sharpness to the thud and gravel of the track. A bass wanders in, wooden and clackety.

It's around the halfway mark that UK producer Galtier seems to have summoned whatever was sleeping beneath the ruins themselves, plasma synths oozing their miasma onto the scene, ever more agitated robust sounds diving bombing the air like a swarm of steam-powered bees.

'Dancing On Ruins' is the sound of whirling over giant boulders and half-standing buildings, unearthing ancient technology and long-buried treasures. Its simplicity, space between sounds, and textures make for a terrifying storm of drama and dance.



πŸ“ 
Galtier Internet Presence ☟
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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

CUUSHE — HOLD HALF

⌾ LISTEN TO CUUSHE, HOLD HALF ⌾

In a scramble of beats, a festival of lights, Tokyo-based musicmaker Cuushe introduces her new album, Waken. Drums and synth explode triumphal in 'Hold Half', a twisting number that balances its way between these sonic fireworks of crashing cymbals and sun bursting over the horizon brilliance, and quieter moments of pinging icicle guitars and soft watercolours of sound, an early hours out of body experience.

It's all brought to life with a sudden alarm clock saw wave buzz, the moment of awakening. Cuushe's vocals drop in, slow, vital, trance-like, somewhat obscured by the same whispering ambience that has always made her voice unique. Less faraway and somnolent than on previous releases, Cuushe's voice this time cuts through the music like wings through cloud.

And there is this sense of flight in 'Hold Half', at least that of floating, being airborne. Looking down on all that's come before, Cuushe joins her track as it heads towards the cold pastels of dawn.


  • πŸ”” 'Hold Half' is taken from Cuushe's forthcoming new album Waken, set for release 20th November on her label home flau. Pre-order it over on the flau bandcamp.

πŸ“ 
Cuushe Internet Presence ☟
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Wednesday, 2 September 2020

SAKEHANDS — GOODBYE FOREVER

⌾ LISTEN TO SAKEHANDS, GOODBYE FOREVER ⌾

The slow rhythm of the soft chords in 'Goodbye Forever' by LA producer-slash-collective sakehands — aka Aris Maggiani — rolls in like laves lapping the gentle incline of a beach. More musical, obviously, but just as textured. And there's a detachment to it, a distance, like seeing this scene through an antique diving helmet, or witnessing it from the POV of a fish in a tank. The space between sounds leaves room for the track to impact and linger.

With the melted vocals of regular collaborator Lo poured all over it, this electronic ebb and flow transforms into a crashing on the rocks, the crunch and splinter of a hull (a heart) as a vocodered "Goodbye..." fanfares to the song's finale, the wreck of a ship jostling in the sunset-fired wash of water.

Melodic keys spin a lighter mood on proceedings, giving this track the wisdom and beauty of hindsight as opposed to the pain, the insta-heartbreak of the very moment of farewell. As Wordsworth wrote: "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility" — a message no less relevant now than it was when this track first appeared.



πŸ“  ☟ sakehands Internet Presence ☟

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Friday, 14 August 2020

🐣 HARUKA SALT — PINCH 'N ITCH FEAT FAT TONY

⌾ LISTEN TO HARUKA SALT, PINCH 'N ITCH FEAT FAT TONY ⌾

"Been a long week, had enough of this": Nigerian-American rapper Fat Tony's opening lines to Brooklyn producer and DJ Haruka Salt's smooth house odyssey 'Pinch 'N Itch' couldn't be more relatable. Fired along glossy plums of bass and a drum machine collage of beats, the feeling of the instrumental is one of elation, freedom — something Fat Tony didn't miss: "'Bout time that I scratch the itch / 'bout time that I left and I hit the road."

"I was feeling so free to express myself and exploring vintage synths at [indie disco & house record label from Brooklyn] Toucan Sounds’ YouTooCanWoo studio to find unique sounds to go with my mood," Haruka tells yes/no via email. "It was like hunting [for] treasure through all the vintage synths and being on the creative journey with those sounds/treasures I found on the way."

It's hard not pick up on that. Glassy keys craft a cool, lounge atmosphere; spiralling sounds soar upwards in a crescendo of energy; soft horn sounds swirl left and right; high strings cut a nocturnal flavour. There's an excitement to her music that Haruka can attribute, at least in part, to Brookyln itself. "I have never gotten tired of it," she says. "[It] definitely impacts my creative ideas and flows."

For Fat Tony, who counts the Houston scene as a huge influence on his style, his contribution was a chance to let off steam. "I was having a stressful ass week!" he tells yes/no. "The walk over to Toucan Sounds’ studio, was peaceful. It gave me time to cool off and reflect. The lyrics came naturally."

His vocal, laid-back but coiled with elastic energy, provides the perfect companion to Haruka's ever-changing beast of sound. 'Pinch 'N Itch' is a journey, an exploration of sound twinned with emotion expressed on reflection — a snappy, dynamic response to stress as much as to vintage synths.



πŸ“ 
Haruka Salt Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday, 13 August 2020

🐣 GEORGE CLANTON & NICK HEXUM — AURORA SUMMER

⌾ LISTEN TO GEORGE CLANTON & NICK HEXUM — AURORA SUMMER ⌾

George Clanton's collaboration with Nick Hexum of rock band 311George Clanton & Nick Hexum — may not be something you instantly understand. A proponent of internet friendly vaporwave et cetera isn't the likely team-mate for the co-frontman of a band whose music represents, at least early on, that shredded splice of '90s proto-numetal and grunge we all know and love. And that is the point: Clanton is a big fan, so the real question isn't "why" but more simply, "why not?"

"This album is a collab no one asked for or predicted," Clanton says in a press release. "Nick has never pandered to a mainstream audience with his work in 311, they've always done their own thing and built their own culture around the music they wanted to make.

"I believe in that, and I've been doing my own thing for 10 years now."

Simply put, there's logic here. The logic of fandom and respect between artists that goes way beyond aesthetic tastes in genres, in stylistic direction. Calling it a "stoney side project" Hexum says in the same press release that it's "been a lot of fun to work in a new genre." Fun is the chief idea here, rather than a collobration that looks great on paper.

Happy with the "unique" project that's based purely on the music, Clanton makes it clear that neither he nor Hexum needed to do the collaboration. "I've never done one of those buzzy collabs with a hot artist in my own sphere just to get more plays," he says, adding, "There should be more records like this."

'Aurora Summer' is just one of the collection of tracks from George Clanton & Nick Hexum. Woozy Earthbound-flavoured synths waft in like the essence of some fantasy adventure or coming-of-age idea, cooked up in stew form, simmering somewhere way back in recent eons past. Hexum's guitars cut in simple melodies, adding sour to the earthy tones of Clanton's concoction; the former's vocals — distinct in tone, lilting and elastic — float fittingly in the scene.

The track summons laid-back living, warm weather, comfort, grass, sand, blue skies, clouds in small herds spiralling through the sky like the disappearing froth on a cappucino, hot pavements, beach bars, warped air distorting the space above the street. Nothing weird about this collaboration — just a concentrated cocktail of doing what feels right.



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George Clanton Internet Presence ☟
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Saturday, 8 August 2020

ACQUANETTA M. SPROULE — MIDNIGHT VERSION SYMPATHETIC AGONY

⌾ LISTEN TO ACQUANETTA M. SPROULE, MIDNIGHT VERSION SYMPATHETIC AGONY ⌾

When something sounds like a certain genre, but its visual style doesn't match up to said genre, the question of what it is — especially when the music doesn't seem to ascribe to any particular genre or style at all — becomes an enquiry that is lost in the ether. And that's where the music of Acquanetta M. Sproule comes in.

Feeling somewhat like the aural equivalent of outsider art, the unapologetically unpolished tracks created by this producer speak distantly of dungeon synth. Yet with no fantasty-daubed artwork to denote it as such, one can only wonder what it is. Nevertheless, with its midiwave vibe and simplistic composition, there is no question of its mood-summoning powers.

The imaginative, no-holds-barred eschewing of anything particularly traditional or trend-led helps make 'Midnight Version Sympathetic Agony' — and much of Acquanetta M. Sproule's oeuvre — refreshingly unexpected. And yet it has this world-painting drive behind it, the midi aesthetic calling to mind Hiroki Kikuta's soundtrack for Secret of Mana, particularly this track, with bass elements that feel close to the Cosmo Canyon theme in Final Fantasy VII.

And akin to such scene-setting videogame music, 'Midnight Version Sympathetic Agony' sets a mood. Its bass, percussive and propulsive, creeps and sneaks as if through shadows, while a glittery, somersaulting refrain roots this music somewhere fantastical, with hollow, airy sounds decisively tipping the track into a hidden realm of caves and curiosity.


  • πŸ”” Listen to more of Acquanetta M. Sproule's unique musical vignettes on their SoundCloud.

πŸ“ 
Acquanetta M. Sproule Internet Presence ☟
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Friday, 24 July 2020

XANDER X XXYYXX — SETTLE

⌾ LISTEN TO XANDER X XXYYXX, SETTLE ⌾

Ever since xxyyxx's 'About You' infused itself into YouTube in 2012, the whole aesthetic movement that is "chill hop" seemed to grow, coinciding with the birth of channels like Majestic Casual. But it wasn't a landscape that the producer (real name Marcel Everett) trod alone; there were and are others — many, many others.

One such is a veritable proponent of the genre, xander. Both he and Everett recently teamed up for a gloopy, glossy collaboration in the form of 'Settle'. Jointly classifying it as "great brain food", the pair lend their respective styles to the track: an uptempo shuffle into a landscape of woozy chords and urgent synth arpeggios, percussion driving it forward in a virtuosic collage together with acrobatic, elastic bass.

The vital aspect of 'Settle' — created remotely via facetime — is that it eschews the "chill" element for which both artists are known, instead casting a certain restlessness, a sense of struggle, no matter how outwardly sparkling or glossy its aesthetics may be. Given the context of pandemic and political upheaval the world over, it's no wonder.



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xander Internet Presence ☟
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xxyyxx Internet Presence ☟
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Wednesday, 22 July 2020

SIM FANE — SOME SAY

⌾ LISTEN TO SIM FANE, SOME SAY ⌾

Though 'Some Say' could be quite easily seen as "future bass" and nothing more, it's the variation, the intense colours and the attention to the spaces between sounds in Netherlands producer Sim Fane's track that give it the power to not just occupy a space, but create its very own atmosphere. While it does build up with hyperactive pitch shifted vocals and snapping handclaps, and drops into a glooping tumble of frenzied piercing synth and soft staccato chords, Sim Fane offers up much more than a well-versed formula of builds 'n' drops.

Post-drop, the beat shifts into a frenzy of footwork-flavoured kicks, a sudden jet engine of propulsion that not only provides a boost, but also helps break up the track into a kinetic series of vignettes. Later, listeners await the final drop, but instead — after the sub-bass rumble, the scattering of bleeps and crashes promising one last popping refrain — the track falls away into a dreamy coda of fuzzed out keys, the explosive energy that was there depleted as the ship is cast adrift through a space-scape, nebulae and distant galaxies splashed on the void like abstract art.


  • πŸ”” 'Some Say' is taken from Sim Fane's Where She Lived EP. You can download and/or stream the whole thing over on Bandcamp.

πŸ“ 
Sim Fane Internet Presence ☟
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Tuesday, 21 July 2020

πŸ’Ώ AIDA SKEE — MACH LEISURE

⌾ LISTEN TO AIDA SKEE - PKMN SNAP ⌾

Skittering and beset with structured staccato slices of unidentifiable sampling, 'Pkmn Snap' by Aida Skee feels like a cool breeze. What relevance it bears to 1999 N64 title PokΓ©mon Snap isn't immediately obvious, and perhaps there isn't one, but in its simplicity — its lines of airy sampling, sparing and delicate bassline, background ambience — there is something at least in spirit to the game's soundtrack, notably its 'The Young Photographer' theme.

Cheerful without being sunny, sparse without feeling overly lonely, 'Pkmn Snap' similarly conjures an imaginary landscape. Not unsurprising, as the musicmaker themselves revealed to yes/no that Mach Leisure, the beat tape which the track is taken, is inspired at least partly "hiking while listening to Knxwledge, Marvin Gaye, and deep cut '70s R&B." Physical landscapes, and how music enhances or reflects them, play their part.

This musical foundation is noticeable on the rest of the beat tape, which sometimes gloops with vaporwave ooze ('can't see shit'), glitters like the vapor-friendly tracts of nostalgia in title track 'MACH LEISURE', or radiates warmth as in the comforting groove of album closer 'Where to start it'.

Attention to detail comes to the foreground in tracks like 'right' — its beat clicks into something high octane, before samples drop in slowly skewed and bubbling. It's places like this where Aida Skee's process reveals itself, Mach Leisure being a collection of experiments in high BPM tracks that still retain a "relaxing element of R&B sample-based music."

This sense of relaxation is an element throughout that was (probably) sought after and welcomed by the musicmaker themselves. "I made this whole tape while living alone in Montreal, smoking too much legal weed," they say. "The theme is meant to be like attempting to attain relaxation as fast as possible and how that's sort of an oxymoron."

Tricks in tempo aren't the only cocktail that binds Mach Leisure: "The tracks integrate pitched up and pitched down components of the same sampled tracks, use heavily warped or distorted sample components in tandem with non-distorted loops," the producer explains.

That sense of speed, as well as glistening pairings of pitched and non-pitched samples, occurs in 'like relaxing in a car that's going fast' — a title that sums up the whole idea behind the album — and following track, 'Keep me talking', whose sampled flashes and snaps crackle with chaos. In them, the situation of creating the album — not just hiking in the mountains and listening to music, but also weed and panic and paranoia — come into play. It's both a result of, and a cure for, those negative emotions that inspire minds to race and disappear into realms we wished they wouldn't.



πŸ“ 
Aida Skee Internet Presence ☟
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Saturday, 18 July 2020

YMIR — RADIATION


The music of Ymir delights in providing a soundtrack. Though it's what's being soundtracked that differs from most theme songs, environmental and accidental music, OSTs, even vaporwave excursions: it's simply a soundtrack of the experiment that is involved in its very creation. Very meta.

Accordingly, 'Radiation' is a glistening arrangement of destructed synth, the flickering of a door sliced into the fabric of time, a haphazard slash spilling out light in clutches of strobe and stage-show sparks. It's close to closing, or has not been opened correctly, so knowing whether this quantum fissure is an interdimensional or simply an intertemporal or interspatial passageway, is impossible. All we know is its resounding, soft glimmer in the background, beneath the crackle of Geiger counter distortion.

Fitting the growth and decay of the otherworldly ambient track, the video features the hypnotic spin of an object in a constant state of flux and decay. "Both [the track and the video] play with different types of distortion," Ymir says via email.

"For the music, I focused on creating a kind of organically bubbling, on-the-brink-of-overload sound. For the video, I entered the parameters of each frame by hand, rendering them all separately so that I could interrupt them at various stages of completion, and combine them to create a stuttering, glitchy video."



πŸ“ 
Ymir Internet Presence ☟
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E.M.M.A — INTO INDIGO

⌾ LISTEN TO E.M.M.A - INTO INDIGO ⌾

E.M.M.A has been an interesting producer for yes/no ever since 'Mindmaze'. This bouncy splice of beats and baroque was inspired by educational dungeon crawler/quiz 'em up Mindmaze, a side-game featured on the much-loved e-encyclopedia Encarta 95 (see here for reference.)

Moving on two and a half years since then, E.M.M.A has amassed full power into Indigo Dream, her first album since 2013's Blue Gardens (also marking a titular move on to the next major hue of the rainbow). And the first track to be taken from the forthcoming release — 'Into Indigo' — is a gleaming overture into E.M.M.A's multi-faceted electronic world.

Like 'Mindmaze', though fuller bodied and less midiwave in aesthetic, 'Into Indigo' speaks of a fantasy world, fugue-flavoured, interpolating notes. Feeling akin to microgenre dungeon synth — more to the point, without being beholden by that label — the track glimmers with soft synths tumbling in a mesh of arpeggio and flashing flourishes, each element kinetic, like everything's vibrating. It's the sort of highly credible induction into a different reality that hints of vaporwave influences, too.

The metallic fuzz of a picked bass propels the track forward, a battlement of thumping, treble-focused kicks and punchy snares, doused with splashy cymbals, builds itself up amidst the spectral synth. It's a combination that feels reminiscent of Jim Guthrie's soundtrack to 2011 videogame Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP: transportive, but rooted in real-world instrumentation.

Drama twists its way into the track, space and simplicity like gaps in towering clouds, trails through ancient woodland, mountain paths; the background noise of buffeting wind summoning resolve, grit. And after this sonic introduction, clambering the epic ridge that separates wherever you're listening to the album from the aural forms of the album itself, the world map of Indigo Dream stretches out ahead.


  • πŸ”” Check out our Lazy Interview with E.M.M.A
  • πŸ”” Indigo Dream by E.M.M.A is out 23rd July on London label Local Action. You can pre-order Indigo Dream via E.M.M.A's Bandcamp, available as a digital download and on cassette. A "deluxe edition" cassette bundle bags you a poster, eight-page photo inlay and a special E.M.M.A guitar plectrum.
  • πŸ”” A whole hosts of artists have contributed to visual side to Indigo Dream, with exquisite portrait photography by Ivan Weiss, more photography (this time on a beach) by Sophie Davies, a prog-rock worthy typeface designed by Patrick Saville, and Morgan Hislop putting together the exclusive poster (see below).


πŸ“ 
Internet Presence ☟
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Friday, 17 July 2020

🐣 YMIR — STAIR [εˆζΌ” • PREMIERE]

⌾ LISTEN TO YMIR - STAIR ⌾

Space. The final frontier. Well, not in this instance — 'Stair' by Los Angeles-based producer Ymir just sounds as though it's in space. That's because in this dramatic piece of ambient music, he's rising above and looking at from afar what was (at the time) "a new urban environment" — a new resident in an alien city.

"I'd never been somewhere that never sleeps before," Ymir tells yes/no by email. Originally from North Dakota, moving to Los Angeles was an eye-opening experience; he reveals that its particular sense of "decay" was soemthing that interested him.

"I think that was sparked by the more run-down areas of the city, and how different that was from what I was used to in my (relatively) small town," he says.

Suitably, the track hums with unsteady resonance, touched with lo-fi scratches and imperfections — a sense of sonic wear-and-tear that makes it feel as though this track has been around for years, floating in the air. Most noticeable are the wheeling changes in pitch, dynamic and flighty, continuing well into the swampy drone that drenches the track's final minute.

Giant bassy notes twang out a dirge of vast Western proportions, emanating from the depths of the city for miles around, a sense of classic instrumentation yet muffled under the waves of cosmic drama; far-off pines bristle against grid systems, someone huddles beneath an overpass.

Part far more gritty alternative soundtrack to 'Space Junk Road' from Super Mario Galaxy, part out-of-body experience looking out over the countless street lights and shuffling people of LA's urban sprawl, 'Stair' is a balanced, considered view of something new. Space — and tender, detached feeling — tempered into sound.



πŸ“ 
Ymir Internet Presence ☟
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Monday, 13 July 2020

🐣 DANIELE SCIOLLA — SCHERZO

⌾ LISTEN TO DANIELE SCIOLLA, SCHERZO ⌾

Drama lies at the heart of 'Scherzo' by Italian composer and Mathematics major, Daniele Sciolla. Like the descent of a spirit, a god, your future self, before being dragged away by the infinite pull of a force beyond its control, 'Scherzo' is a tally of de-regulated sounds speeding and elastic, looping but linear and finite. Virtuosic in their temporal imperfection, crescendos rising in a merging of moments, the track is 1:42 of experimentation.

"When I listen to a track, I like to search for rules describing some aspects of it," Sciolla tells yes/no via email. "And in the same way my composition notes are placed following algorithms, especially rhythmically."

"There's a lot of math involved in Synth Carnival," he continues. "I set the tempo and then notes were gradually added and removed following a specific pattern. So one gets the impression of chaos and slowing down or acceleration, but the BPM is always the same.

"It's similar to what some arpeggiators give off, but writing it by myself I can control more parameters."

Sciolla mentions that he was driving along Lake Geneva, Switzerland, when he first came up with this way of creating music. "In those days, I was recording a large number of synthesisers at the SMEM Museum in Fribourg," he says, and likens the sound of 'Scherzo' to the way one can stumble upon state-of-the-art buildings in the middle of a forest — "unspoiled, wild nature next to high technology."

The is suitably organic: self-made, instead of relying on the convenience of automation. It's a testament to the majesty of nature, as much as to the tone and texture of organic synthesisers, and to the power of mathematics.



πŸ“ 
Internet Presence ☟
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