Tuesday, 21 July 2020



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.

Aida Skee Internet Presence ☟

Saturday, 18 July 2020



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).

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Friday, 17 July 2020



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.

Ymir Internet Presence ☟

Monday, 13 July 2020



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.

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Wednesday, 1 July 2020



Most well known not by name, but for being the bassist of Future Islands, now Baltimore-based William Cashion is carving out a world of music all his own with the release of a debut solo album.

'Triple Ocean', one of a pair of singles taken from the album, exemplifies the ambient flavours that feature on it, the title of which —Postcard Music — echoes ancestor of ambient Erik Satie's musique d'ameublement or "furniture music" and purveyor of Japanese ambient equivalent, kankyō ongaku (environmental music) Hiroshi Yoshimura's Music for Nine Post Cards.

The watery credentials of Cashion's track are, of course, an intended product of his creation, named 'Triple Ocean' after a hand-painted sign he saw along the road during a trip to Jamaica in 2015.

"I initially came up with the piece that would become 'Triple Ocean' on the Eastern Shore of Maryland during a weekend trip to focus on writing," he tells yes/no via email. "It began with some simple layered guitar lines, which I edited down, cut up, and drenched in reverb." Note the drenched.

"When I sit down to work on music, I don't necessarily have anything in mind at first. I just start along a path, so to speak, and see where it leads me."

With cello added to make it sound yet more lush, Cashion's approach to ambience seems to be natural, prizing real-life instruments over synths, resulting a rich, living-and-breathing soundscape.

Beginning with a majestic tract of gleaming waves, a sonic introduction, the song moves into a mid-section that twangs gently like a sort of lucid lullaby. Then its "third movement" — which "emerged over time" — rises up; it ebbs and flows into a gradual crescendo of destructed wind and waves, like soft rocks tumbling over each other in the surf, empty grey skies hanging like gates to forever. Gazing at the horizon, it begins to get a little closer.

"I love the abstract and disparate effects instrumental music can have on the listener," Cashion continues, speaking on the attraction of ambient music away from the dramatic, focused songs of Future Islands. "The mind can wander, go wherever it likes. There's no focal point, no voice telling you exactly what the song is about. Music to dream to.

"I recommend listening to it with your eyes closed."

William Cashion Internet Presence ☟
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