Sunday, 28 February 2010
Screening doesn't merely reassure: it indicates, rightly or wrongly, if more needs to be done. Artists sketch under a pantheon of their worst critic - usually themselves. With lazy tacking banished, a masterpiece can take a day, week, month - in control of Greg Haines and his miniature orchestra (Nils Frahm, the female singer from "Slumber Tides", et al) "Until The Point Of Hushed Support" took three years. And it's not hard from listening to see why. Feedback loops guarantee chances for engrossing, exploratory sprawl, where culture's whys and wherefors indebt us with an antidote to fear. Recorded mainly in Grunewald Church in Berlin, Haines hasn't rehashed classical archetypes where narrow vision ensues decay. Rather, he's reinventing self-praxis in his most accomplished statement as a composer, and furthermore as an interpreter.
Immediately the track names tell a story. "Industry Vs. Inferiority", perhaps, nodding to detested inhospitality. Pursuing the future can be like racing to catch light at the end of a tunnel, and on this quiet work for piano, faint traces of Goldmund's locative, sibilant frequencies paint a bittersweet scene. Solo pianism can translate as secular in its stronghold of riches - granted, soundtracks support it, but the style wholly resists commercial viability. Partially this occures through its audiences' lower generational imparting of experiences, anecdotes and taste. But nonetheless, labels (and moreover businesses) demand cross-pollination, with those carrying the torch, Sonic Pieces among them, providing an outsider's ticket to protocol, as well as an abode for adventure. And that's a very brave thing to be doing.
As you listen, there is a slowly unfolding sense of weightlessness; skirting the censors with detached allure, almost as if time is frozen, waiting to be melted down. Essentially, it's precursory calm to rainclouds of beauty frighteningly affecting the aural terrain. "Marc's Descent" rallies shiver-inducing violins, bobbing and weaving through scales in a kind of slow motion blues. Long, sustained rumbles interconnect with winded melody lines. Juddering percussive drones and church organ are thickly dense, like double decker buses ploughing snowy roads. You're able to recognise a distinction in range from "Slumber Tides", as if determination enraptures Haines' muse to bear his soul deeper than ever.
Crippled momentum finding tangents can be observed as an underlying theme of Haines', from his more digestible collaborations with Wouter Van Veldhoven, to his Miasmah debut. But none have seen him so agonisingly powerful as on the last two compositions of "Until The Point Of Hushed Support". Interplay defining a stuttered pulse is a joy to behold, and when the strings finally break into the forefront, you can feel the energy peak. The melodies on "In The Event Of A Sudden Loss" are stuffed with minute pleasures, begging for renewal, and receiving it with silence and subsidence. Slowly unfolding atmospheres partner electronic warbles, until glockenspiel entrails a rising appearance of string quintet, dissimilar to Max Richter's "Blue Notebooks" highpoints. Negotiating tentative steps with mournful string accompaniment, the notations repeat, flutter into darkened air pockets, conflating to a seemingly higher cause.
It's on "Until The Point Of Least Resistance", where a dying radio whispers against choral tones that we enounter harmonic climax, yet five minutes pass and it feels like an age. This is an uncanny truce of Haines that places him arbitrary from failed revolution - an ability to scuplt literally timeless sound-spheres that take in arresting chaos and filter it through shutters; those as awe-inspiring standing vertical as they are lying horizontal. Gripping would be the adjective of choice for this phenomenal conclusion, to a breathtaking album that's massively recommended.
Preview "Marc's Descent"
Want to see it performed live?
Birdsong querying boundaries introduces Atomic Skunk's second commingling, "Portal". The use of field recordings layered with washes of drone recalls BJ Nilsen tranquilised of noise for noise's sake. Tied together by intelligence, slice through the blankets of reverb and you have a silhouette structurally derived from Eno's laboratory. But that's forgetting the inner integreties of Rich Brodsky, aka Atomic Skunk. As he transforms New Age's sullied perfume, reclaiming authenticity from a genre expressively blunted by over-exposure to defaults, "Portal" is goddamn spiffy, with bristling acoustic guitar frequencies painting a backdrop that doesn't impair itself with a fetish to linearity.
In practice, distances joining departure and arrival depend on measures in and out of control. It pays to elbow out distractions when under pressure, however disturbing the cyclical with foreign matter can hasten saving face. Additionally, planning disappointment well in advance optimizes the bridge from hope to regret. If fact and fantasy are to do us any service, Brodsky's "Portal" LP has fingertip care, with a liberal sprinkling of indeterminate entry and exit gates, typified by sounds of people, birds, flowing water, thunder, with glistening textures and beats that recall Eraldo Bernocchi's collaborations with Harold Budd.
With each sonic vocabularly set on a tome of 300 seconds and advancing, there's no weird consensual tug of "Chillout"'s traditional terminology and scaffolding. And that's what Brodsky's posit is - harnessing the urban grain of his multi-continetal peers while angling his masterplan into space. Violin meets twinkling stars of synth; formal evocation of barrier absence clasps your hand. Where intermingling of classic instruments (including the exotic mandolin) raise the stakes, "Portal" never threatens blockage, but entertains with gusts of jovial innocence. Recommended.
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Saturday, 27 February 2010
"The SubVersion 15 Minutes of Fame format dictates that any mix should contain no more than 10 tracks and last no longer than 40 minutes. That's an average of 4 minutes per track. In the 'collage' mix format I mostly use, 4 minutes is about the maximum time any included sample gets played - usually far more tracks overlay at any single instance. (Check http://www.ambientblog.net to download those mixes). So I had to restrict myself and start creating a 'mixtape' mix format for this particular mix.
I tried to create some balance between the electronic and the organic. Between voice, machines and nature. But also between the sounds of infinite space (as recorded by the NASA Voyager in the 90's) and the intimate sounds of raindrops (on the Monolake track). 'Tension' / 'Release'...: the dynamics of everyday life. I truly hope this mix may help to prove that ambient music is not just meant to be 'easy on the ears'. Thanks to Muttley / SubVersion for asking me to do this mix!"
00:00 Ian Hawgood - A Film bij Chihei Hatakeyama
(Slow Films in Low Light, 2010)
04:48 Yannick Frank - Beaurieux
(Favourite Places 2, 2009)
07:56 NASA Voyager Recordings - Symphonies of the Planets 2
(NASA Voyager Recordings vol. 1, 1992)
13:00 Monolake - Watching Clouds
17:00 Jim Cole & Spectral Voices - Passion
(Sky - Overtone Singing in a Water Tower, 2007)
21:35 Yann Novak - Shortwaves to Longwaves
(Flowers, Dragon's Eye Fourth Anniversary, 2010)
26:54 Helios - The Jaguar Sun
(Unreleased, vol. 1)
29:35 Kim Cascone - Spectral Space
(The Astrum Argentum, 2007)
31:58 David Kristian & Ryosuke Aoike - Kenzobutsu
(Ghost Storeys, 2006)
34:17 Jóhann Jóhannsson - Escape
(And in the Endless Pause there came the sound of Bees, 2009)
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Cutlery isn't needed to eat, but ensures etiquette. By applying that theology, are paying audiences expecting cleanliness, or do serrated edges affirm life? Tales of product artificiality date back centuries - classical music congeals snobbishness like minimal hides and lacks resolve. "A Different Animal", Yoru's debut on Rudimentary Records, encodes and articulates a commendable spin.
The EP's four tracks genre-bend dubstep, dub techno, leftfield drum & bass and old school. Yoru strips formulae to bare bones, with a glossy finish that liberates, but also engenders observational convention. Music's development can pass us by if musings over quality are variable. Happily there's an earnestness wafting past the blueprint here, and Yoru isn't shamelessly mining components of each style - instead, arousing intrigue through utilising rhythm sparingly.
Rhythm And Sound, Martyn and Instra:mental's filaments arise to hybridise, with prospects of Yoru eschewing chronic rejection because of their widespread status. "Breathe out it's going to be fine", if one listens. "A Different Animal" isn't airbrushed or trite, but thawing frost into an absorbing multiplex. And I'll raise a glass if there's more where that came from.
Purchase @ 7digital
Contact Rudimentary Records
Researchers at the Institute of Musicology at the University of Hamburg have written cognitive similarity algorithms which can predict music plagiarism decisions in courts. Since plagiarism cases involve such large sums of money, with even huge stars like Madonna having been accused of plagiarism, expert music witnesses must be sure within reasonable doubt that the tune has been stolen or whether it is simply coincidentally similar. The use of similarity algorithms is a welcome addition to such cases, protecting the rights of new and unrecognised artists. The research is in its early stages but it could potentially open the doors to producers and musicians submitting their tracks to test against a database, to judge how similar melodies within their tracks are to already-existing tunes. Whether the producer would choose to return to the drawing board on discovering that their track is too similar to something that already exists depends on how important originality in music is.
Sunday, 21 February 2010
Download exclusively at hiddenplace music
"For the next addition to the hiddenplace mix series, a very special guest mix from Muttley of SubVersion. In this mix, as in many of his other mixes, Muttley goes beyond the typical crossfaded playlist and creates what is more of a musical sound collage. Ambient, modern classical, electro-acoustic with some unexpected moments."
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
SubVersion Stop 77: Greg Haines & Alexander Thomas @ The Holywell Music Room, Oxford - Friday 28th May 2010
Poster credits: Louisa Donnelly
Travel and attending
Doors: 7:30 PM
Where: Holywell Street, Oxford, UK
Tickets: £7 in advance, £10 on the door.
Tickets available from: Music Stand, Witney, Oxfordshire, ticketsoxford.com, and direct.
Advance tickets and enquiries: contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Berlin-based modern classical maestro follows up his critically acclaimed "Slumber Tides" album with a showcase of "Until The Point Of Hushed Support", his second full length. With special guests.
Hear Greg Haines' 2009 mix for SubVersion:
Sample Greg Haines tracks singularly:
Witness Greg Haines in a selection of Muttley mixes:
"15 Minutes Of Fame Mix Series"
Bristol's theremin master coaxes astounding soundscapes from his instrument.
Tune to "Hemispheres Wherein" at 8 minutes in Muttley's 15 Minutes Of Fame Part 5:
"Something To Believe In"
Read a review of his work from Nightshift, Oxford's premier music magazine:
April 08 @ The Port Mahon
Listen to further samples from "Helium":
Thanks in advance for your support! Hope to see you there.
Monday, 15 February 2010
01. Berliner Philharmoniker & Sir Simon Rattle - Lost Love (from Perfume: Story Of A Murderer OST)
02. Leyland Kirby - The Beauty Of The Impending Tragedy Of My Existence (from Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was)
03. Murcof - Ulysses (excerpt) (from Utopia)
04. The Alpha Rhythm - The Crossing (Aphelion intro) (from Proof Of Concept)
05. Zoo Di Vetro - Amalidieses (excerpt) (from Zaum Vol.1)
06. Hilmar O Hilmarsson & Sigur Ros - Approach / Dream (from Angels Of The Universe OST)
07. Bat For Lashes - Glass (from Two Suns)
08. Sawako - Tiny Tiny (from Madoromi)
09. Stars Of The Lid - Humectez La Moutre (from And Their Refinement Of The Decline)
10. 36 - 2249 (from Hypersona)
11. Boards Of Canada - Alpha And Omega (from Geogaddi)
12. Scan One - 8 Bit (Combat Recordings EP)
13. Nils Frahm - Peter Is Dead In The Piano (from The Bells)
14. Richard Skelton - Remaindered (from Landings)
15. Skindred - Stand For Something (from Shark Bites & Dog Fights)
Link: awaiting DMCA notification. I'm not going to see a year's hard work from me and my friends be deleted by incorrect action.
Friday, 12 February 2010
The work to release ratio in the drum & bass scene is high. This is fortunate and unfortunate. On one hand paradoxes arise: certain tracks aren't necessarily "work" - rather, tainted plagairism of older craftsmanship, separating old timers from teeny boppers in a 30 second Redeye clip. Provide a hook, slap on a beat with a stone-grained structure, and you have stasis, sent to ever-increasing numbers of DJs, causing saturation, and pedalled out by labels who think (or don't) that their showcasing warrants money.
Counterintuitively, resampling of roots music can be twisted, morphed and positively reshaped into block-rocking, tasteful (or would that be "disgusting" in d&b terms?) and innovative forms that advance the sphere, consciously - or where the best jungle was subjectively constructed - unselfconciously. T-Power thrived due to meticulous intellect, Source Direct taught us true darkness with cheese shaven off, and the cornucopian brightness of the Blue Note days facillitated x to co-exist with y.
I sympathize with the desire to lift the image of a musical wasteland out of the mess of drum & bass' past, in the same way that I understand people for whom the mid 90s is the pinnacle of information anxiety. Overloads of data and memory failures make finding oneself in the labyrinth (of the computer or elsewhere) a difficult task. Dakosa's story isn't a marriage of hardships. Forming in Maidstone, UK, Dave (Dready) Marsh, Mike (Kemikal) Craske & Leo (Soulific) Tomlinson traversed the House, university and clubnight scenes through mutual friendships, dating as far back as eleven years prior to their production synergy in early 2009.
"Hideout", their debut EP, is now released on .shadybrain. A combination of gyrating synths, sweeping atmospheres, handclaps and science fiction paraphernalia, there's an understated elegance where muscle joins melody, minus pretentious drops, noodling deposits or cluttered overusage. Technoid drum & bass can be seductive while not jumping up and down like a hyperactive toddler, and shows glimmering promise for Kent's hopfuls.
Find the interview and exclusive mix here
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
It's meaningful that an individual who's passion lies in ambience could be blown away by an eight-track "ragga metal" LP. "Shark Bites And Dog Fights", Skindred's second full-length excursion became an adrenalin rush worth its weight in gold. They've progressed since "Babylon" hit the shelves - with that the reggae overleaning was in, this time the cards are down, and it's maybe only the die-hards that stick around for their punt at ambitious, metallic propensity.
The band's first single from this edition, "Stand For Something", is amongst the strongest ammunition, and can be reinterpreted by noticed stresses on each syllable. "Stand for something, or you'll fall for anything" as a single phrase evokes inflammation of casually wavering lifestyle, whereas "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything" is more intense, tipping odds in favour of those who fight for their beliefs to be heard.
The song, irrelevant of the rhetorically-minded message, manages to pacify its soapbox slur, cumbersome drum kicks and rave-like electric guitar confetti. Benji's soluble rhymes contrast the modus operandi of metal singers - that it's all about death, Satan, screaming as loud as you can, and denies contrivance.
Alienating Benji's Jamaican roots and chatty style is to destroy the nature of the beast. He doesn't resort to raggaman bombast, and knows how to stretch his voice in an appealing vista, even edging towards a comparison with Wailers singer Elan Atias at times.
The crossover market is a crutch to Skindred, however currently sparse. Despite performing under Kerrang's wing mainstream success hasn't transpired. Conventional paradoxes are tested - they use less to make more, with unfamiliarity breeding exhilaration, not contempt. That said, in a cocktail's view, overdoing a mixture can tear the recipe apart. You could say this when "You Can't Stop It" segues from "Stand For Something". Lyrically congruous yet polarised in narrative, you "watch the way we rock in the place and a we control it" as opposed to "caught in chains, shackles on too tight, squirming for your life 'cos you've gone and lost your freedom".
From repeated plays, there's a rigorous (but perhaps unintended) intellectual ploy: a switch from first to third-person, suggesting Skindred are indeed standing for something more righteous, that "you can't stop it", moreover, and although this is inherently part of the parcel - with risque genres bordering on inebriated noise - it's conducted with metaphors that align the group with their crossover heritage: " call the police if you-a-want to run" preceded with "'cos they're haters man they just drive me insane so" .
It's not all light before the darkness, though. Their cover of Eddie Grant's "Electric Avenue" feeds a monster riff to the original's chorus, spraying heavy guitar aerosol over the source material. It's toned down from the opening two tracks, yet even a whiskey addict would fail not to get enraptured by the stepping-stone groove and pithy lyrical hooks. "Calling All Stations" ups the pace with swaggering dialect: "can't tell me what to do i've got to turn it up, turn it up, turn it up now". That they do, with admirable gravitas.
My multi-context favourite on "Shark Bites and Dog Fights" has to be "Who Are You?" Applying a half-speed dub rhythm section under fading, echoed strumming, space is of importance towards warmth. If you're exposed in the afternoon, do you sit around and wait for someone to knock on your door? Of course not. Comparatively, you'd be deceived bearing soul wasn't a trigger for Benji's springing-out-of-nowhere closing speech: "flame can't be extinguished it's too great, can't kill my light" post-"who are you to kill my seeds before they grow?"
Instrumentation rattling shells does justice to Benji's situationist critique. Boardgames scrutinise team ethics - it's all about doing it for yourself and winning the hand. You could hypothesise that "so many just out for themselves, dressed in material wealth" on "Days Like These" condemns that predicament, except balance is relieved: "building new ways of work, you're breaking and bending the law, and who knows what's next, and what is in store" suggests to the listener "to look inside yourself you'll find the strength to carry on" - and maybe looking elsewhere in turn.
Sometimes if you try too hard, you can lose sight of what you're trying to achieve, which is why "Invincible" serves so well as reassurance. "Don't you know you couldn't test we, back off you're not ready, we run it that's the way it's gonna go, right now you're gonna let them know" is interspersed by chanted beckoning of the title. Seeing Skindred live, this goes down better for the massive charge that rivals Motorhead's "Ace Of Spades", but with more charisma through Benji's elevating and derailed vocal timbre. At one point he mutters "anybody move, they're gonna get hurt", then adopts a tone of balladry ("what are you gonna do?"), back to ragga territory ("get up off your knees and say"), honing his vocal chords throughout as if he's licking syrup off a dusty rug.
"Shark Bites And Dog Fights"' universalisty lies in its recital of modern chaos and challenge. It's quantifiable I've replayed it incessantly because of its rawness and emotional give and take. And it's perfect for addressing sleights of hand that pass us by or torment. Fallouts, subsequent bad feeling, putdowns - these scenario-speckled manifestations impact on us negatively first, and, if we're lucky, positively second. To assist change, the songs' mantras are aleviated through vigorous distractible energy and ebullient metal-turned-reggae penwork. Something that I stand for, which will be in my analytical framework for unknown measure.
Monday, 8 February 2010
"Hum" thematically compliments "Isolate", which fenced sounds detached from their surroundings. It's inclined passively, acting as background noise to induce sleep. To garner success, listen at low volume. Citing "Caught In Static", and "Threshold", it can bridge styles when these play jointly. Fans of Ateleia will welcome the frozen sorrow of P.D Wilder's "Blizzard Undefined", whereas SubVersion readers will be treated to "Immense Revolutions" not long after it was reviewed. Paul Bradley and Seconds In Formaldehyde are new inclusions to the series, certain to be used later. Occupying middlebrow positioning behind vocal and acoustica-flavoured submissions, "Hum" is pretty nondescript, but fills voids between slumber and suspense.
01. Lexithime - Leontopodium Discolor [edited] (from Leontopodium)
02. Paul Bradley - Irenic (from Anamnesis)
03. P.D Wilder - Blizzard Undefined (from F/M)
04. Chihei Hatakeyama - Phantasm (from The River)
05. Seconds In Formaldehyde - Love Noise (from A Shiver In Red)
06. Mister Vapor & Altus - Immense Revolutions (from Falling Out Of Orbit)
07. Greg Haines - Komarovo (from Komarovo)
Friday, 5 February 2010
"Hospital's brainchild for more leftfield d&b incarnations, Med School, have wrapped notable works from Martsman, Bop and Fracture & Neptune under a benchmark of consistent quality. Melding techno, ambient and psychedelia traits not so strictly as "genres", more hybridizations that step ahead of the game, Stray's debut on the outlet isn't a letdown in the slightest."
Read full review at Kmag
Thursday, 4 February 2010
Madonna has, over the years, adapted chameleon-like to her climate. This characteristic enables her to succeed in the popular music world - where musical novelty is paramount - and "Hung Up" is a prime example of how lifting from the 70s pop style, with a beat rewired for the iPod and commercial dance generation can work effectively.
This is popular music as it's liked by many - the song would become her eleventh number one single. It can be played in a variety of contexts - on the radio at work, in the home before one goes out, via the MP3 player - thus quadrupling its appeal to the mainstream audience, for which it is intended. Through listening contexts formal and informal, thanks to the simplistic structure, reviving the sounds of 1980s pop doesn't become an exercise in pure pastiche.
The song has hazily familiar hooks, recalling traditional themes of disco - love, loss and good times - sustained overlays of the string arrangement, and keyboard melodies enveloping to administer a haze-like timbre. Paradoxically, the pulse is clear from the outset by the implementation of a metronomic tick-tock, which leads into a filtered riff, taken from Abba's "Gimme Gimme Gimme".
This lifting embodies the changing cultural identity of sampling, and its popularity quantifies why this can be seen as a piece of popular music as well. The actuality of the sample's presence can further placate public consciousness through familiarity with older values and repertoires. "Time goes by" is sung in descending pitch, with repetition of the phrase conveying a suspension of limits. The addition of delay on Madonna's vocals supplants any questioning over how fast time is passing, not to mention eliciting that the singer is trapped in an ongoing musical current, comparable to the fast-flowing nature of societal existence.
Metre and pulse co-exist comfortably as four-time and four-to-the-floor, both inextricably clear. A conventional verse-refrain structure is upheld. Madonna sings not melismata, but broken, almost static shifts between notes - "Every little thing" rises in pitch on each syllable, whereas "that you say or do" peaks and then is in descent. The convergence of themes conveys how the words are fleeting - the singer is "hung up" which can mean unstable; precariously positioned. The syncopated melodies and rhythm validates this aspect, by the contrapuntal sum of parts audible from the chorus and chugging aesthetic.
Madonna's speech is evenly distributed on the track, yet the rhythm is multilayered and as such compliments what it accentuates. A tum-tum-tum-tum ordination of the main beat is where the lyrics sit and angle off, their texture wispy, thin and spread across parameters in line with the filtering sample and chorus motif. Harmonies are consonant at 00:32-00:48, filled out and wholesome but in comparison the early section is waiting to develop a thicker skin from the intro filtration towards the main hook.
There is a definite sense that Madonna is making use of space between words, whereby she crams more into each bridging phrase in a continuum, impressioning that she's "fed up of waiting for you" (re-iterated at 01:30 for the second interval). Concerning emotions broadcast lyrically, the song is obviously written from the perspective of a girl who once had nothing, and the narrative centres around love (or rather, the lack thereof). By adhering to commonplace structure there's no doubt the message becomes more accessible, if not endearing, depending on your standpoint with commercial dance.
The dynamics are pretty standardised for the genre, but what they do conjure is fidelity. The stomp of the bass is turgid, the vocals flaccid. This juxtaposition commands your attentiveness and, combined with that Abba riff, delivers a potent, frothy and infectious airwaves-friendly cut. The tempo is fairly pedestrian - undoubtedly a stylistic side-effect of looking backwards to move forward - slow, with the texture within gaps to chorus filled by the sandworm penetration-esque melody. You could say that because of its lower key, the words in Madonna's chorus line are intensified, and translate as more uplifting, suggesting the degree to which the singer is hung up, and moreover, what path she will take to resolve it.
Ultimately, the accompaniments to the keyboard melody (sample, vocals) enshroud the piece with an overall psychedelic textural sheen. The conclusion to the clip provided (at 02:05) sees the female finally "hang up" on the significant other, adding a new chordal pattern by rising an octave, signifying the escape.