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Miami Nice- Elastica

So I was listening to Jason Schwartzman’s new radio show “Coconut Radio” on SiriusXM U the other day and he played an awesome laid-back, stripped down track by Elastica called “Nothing Stays the Same.” The following track which I thought was even better which was called “Miami Nice.” (video below) These were both on the follow up effort (titled “The Menace”) to their 1995 self-titled debut that had the hit “Connection” which is pretty much the only song I remembered by them.

“Miami Nice” has a darker, cinematic feel to it and with the syth sounds used throughout the track,  I thought it was relevant to write about here. I thought it even would fit in nicely in Michael Mann’s remake of “Miami Vice” that came out a few years after this did.

A lot of Elastica’s music is more guitar driven so this track was almost jarring to hear on this album. “The Menace” as a whole reminded me a bit of Kid A by Radiohead where there is still is that “alternative” feel with distorted guitar but has electronic elements throughout. They were even released within a few months of each other.

This may not be news to some of you but it was a newly discovered track that was most welcome in my listening rotation this week. I highly recommend it!

Keep chillin’

-Chris

New Gold Panda single!

I was excited to discover on Spotify that Gold Panda just released a new single last month called “Time Eater.” His last album “Half of Where You Live” was released back in 2013, so new work from him is welcomed! The new single is to coincide with a new album called “Good Luck and Do Your Best” which is due out May 27th on Ghostly Records.

I liked the random metallic clanging sounds which sort of reminded me of a a clock ticking away at the day.

It also has a catchy melody with a similar metallic sound. Apparently the album was influenced by a couple of trips to Japan in 2014 so I’m wondering if the sound we’re hearing is a koto.

The track then settles nicely into a groove at about 2:20 in and some delicate warm synth chords are laid nicely over the top of the beat and melody.

Since it’s been so long since his last release, I’m really looking forward to seeing how Gold Panda’s sound has evolved over this time and how his trips to the orient will further influence his work. Just need to set a countdown for May 27th to find out!

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Tracklist (courtesy of Pitchfork) for Good Luck and Do Your Best:

01 Metal Bird
02 In My Car
03 Chiba Nights
04 Pink and Green
05 Song for a Dead Friend
06 I Am Real Punk
07 Autumn Fall
08 Halyards
09 Time Eater
10 Unthank
11 Your Good Times Are Just Beginning

Vittoria Fleet- Greed LP

Greed LP

I wrote about Vittoria Fleet’s “Acht” LP at The Couch Sessions in the summer of 2014 and it had been 3 years since the Berlin duo’s debut EP. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait as long for their next full release.  Their most recent effort “Greed” was released in October on n5MD Records is a bit more experimental sounding than “Acht” but still provides a very enjoyable listening experience.

“Greed” uses some great abstract chords and builds them nicely around harder hitting beats. The opening track “Mother Ocean” is a great example of this.

Vittoria Fleet truly have a unique sound. Allan Shotter seems to use distorted synth sounds to make a retro-ish sound but still makes it sound like something completely new. There are also some tremendous dance beats throughout this album, three of which follow the distorted, bass-heavy, and brooding opening track  ”Mother Ocean.”

“The Shape of Things to Come” is a very fast-paced, fun track. While listening to this on the plane for my work travels, I had the urge to get up out of my seat and boogie down. The same goes for the off-beat filled “Wild Horse” which is also fun, but is a bit more choppy and has some experimental chords during some of the breaks. Those chords are tremendous though as they use some very “bright” sounds so it seems like a sunny afternoon dance party.  ”Brute” has some snaking synth runs to drive it and keep up the pace. I loved Giada Zerbo’s vocals on this track as they lightly combine with the great instrumentation, which is done so well throughout the entire LP.

As far as more “chill” stuff, there’s not as much on this album, but they do place two breaks (“Intervallo” and the daydreamy “Sun”) in the album which are quite beautiful.

This is a great follow up effort to “Acht” as again it is experimental (check out “Like Glue” and “Vampira” for these types of tracks) but still accessible.  I’m glad to write another review for these two as I think the they have a tremendous future ahead of them and hope more people can experience their work.

Vittoria Fleet will perform this Saturday in Prague at The Chemistry Gallery for the  n5MD Showcase also featuring Ocoeur and Port-Royal. This event is part of the Festival Spectaculare which runs through February 12th and is put on by Palác Akropolis. If you’re one of our European readers, please go check it out! Tickets can be found HERE.

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Crisopa- A Lucid Dream Kit

Album artwork courtesy of n5MD records

I’m a few months late to the game on this review, but when I was listening to Crisopa’s “A Lucid Dream Kit” I couldn’t help but think how appropriate the title was. If you close your eyes, each track is a perfect template for a dream and the sounds in the music coincide with the titles. Just brilliant! Crisopa is Santiago Lizón Martínez from Madrid and has been releasing music since 2005.

I think this album connected with me so well because Crisopa seemed to use some similar sounds that some of my favorite downtempo artists use and mixes them all together brilliantly and makes them uniquely his own.

The opener “Control De Galibo” totally reminded me of Boards of Canada with his use of squelchy samples and beautiful chord progression. If you’re looking for something that comes close to the Sandison brothers’ work, definitely check out this track.

I heard a bit of Four Tet in “Vamos Hacia Un Gran Sol” which has a nice rolling, soft melody (reminded me of Tet’s “Circling” a bit) with keys and uses creative off beats which flow in and out of that melody.  Towards the end are some abstract samples that get disorted a bit and make it an even more mysterious sounding track.

What was probably my favorite track was “Basketball in the Rain” where you can hear the rain falling gently on the pavement of a city court and bass hits creating the sound of the bouncing ball. Beautiful synth chords wash over the top of the deep bass beats like the rain and it builds to make a great wall of sound and then it starts to dissipate like players leaving the court slowly one by one to end with a single player remaining to stay and perfect his game.

You’re not going to get a ton of melodies with “A Lucid Dream Kit” but what you will get is a plethora of awesome ambient sounds. The overall abstract nature of his work makes it great art yet he still makes it enjoyable to listen to by incorporating so many interesting sounds.

Crisopa appears on n5MD Records where you can pick up this album now. Do it and start your “lucid dreaming.”

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Hash is back!

Photo courtesy of Hashfinger's Bandcamp page

Hash is back…and so are we! Sorry, it’s been a while since the last post. Our friend Hashfinger is back with a new LP entitled “Kites.”

For a while he was releasing short EP’s every month so it was great to hear his stuff more frequently, but now it appears since he is with Headcount Records, that he is going to more typical LP release schedule.

If you are into trip hop beats, plenty of samples from retro movies and documentaries, “Kites” is for you.The title track marks what I think is an evolution of his sound as he doesn’t rely on samples as much and uses a great flute part and other horns to build the track bigger and bigger as it progresses.

The eclectic and percussive “Day Dreaming” gave me a bit of a Boards of Canada vibe and was completely new to me as far as never hearing anything like it from Hash before.

“Flying” is more of a classic Hashfinger track that stood out as similar to his past efforts with its flowing cinematic soundtrack and trip hop beat driving the music.

“Buried Treasure” has a bit of a Bossa Nova feel and some great rap samples throughout.

I really enjoy Hash’s music as it makes me feel like I’m sitting in a smokey club listening to a jazz quartet with a DJ scratching in the background, so I hope he keeps releasing new stuff and continues to evolve his sound as I simply cannot get enough of it!

The digital album was released May 4th, but you can pre-order the vinyl on his Bandcamp page for £13.99 and receive unlimited streaming of the album as well.  Please do so and support one of my favorite artists.

Keep chillin,

-Chris

Asonat- Connetion

It has been a while (again) since my last review but I found another amazing artist from Iceland that I had to share.  Asonat (duo of Fannar Ásgrímsson and Jónas Thór Guðmundsson, vocals by Oléna Simon) recently released their sophomore effort on N5MD Records on September 30th and it is entitled “Connection.”  It may be my favorite album of 2014 as it offers such a wide range of beautiful sounds.  You will hear some great pop-sounding tracks, some experimental sounds, a hint of post-rock, as well as some classic trip hop sounds as you progress through a listening session of “Connection.”

The album name is a a reference to the fact that the three artists were all living in different locations while putting the album together so the final result is this outstanding collaboration or “connection.”  The work as a whole connects together very well too, making it a nice theme for the project. The lyrics also speak about missed connections so it all comes together to make a nice quasi-concept album.

Compared to what I heard on their debut album “Love in Times of Repetition” which seemed a little more mellow and more synth chord driven, “Connection” is comprised of more layers and complex trip hop beats which make for a nice overall groove while listening.

You can hear some classic synth sounds on “Before It Was” which is was the first straightforward chill track that I noticed. What was really cool about “Connection” was when I noticed that it has a “connected” or “sister” track, if you will, called “Rejection” which shares a similar melody.  I didn’t notice it until skipping around for highlights to write up this review.

“Rather Interesting” (which had its own EP release earlier this year) lives up to its title and sounds like it was created in that similar synth-pop vein. Its pulsating beat and Oléna Simon’s unique vocal sound (where she inserts what it seems to be almost chanting towards the end) made me think it would be a great fit for end credits music for a film. “Interesting”   It also reminded me of Massive Attack’s “Hymn of the Big Wheel” that I first heard on “Ultra Chilled 01″ when I was first getting into downtempo/chill music.  What a great song!

A couple of other tracks that stood out is the offbeat opener “Quiet Storm” and retro/R&B flavored “Everything Illuminated.” It still has that warm synth sound but is infused with a soulful 70′s funk tinge to it.  ”One Step at a Time” is track with a deep, driving bass beat with synth arpeggios running throughout.

It has started to get very cold here in the Midwest, so this is a great album for putting on repeat and immersing yourself in on a cold night and letting these awesome sounds wash over you again and again.  Highly recommend!

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Josh Furey- Petals

Apologies for not posting more lately. I just changed jobs which thankfully gives me more time for reviewing the chillin’ tracks.

Anyway, I’m back at it again this summer and perhaps there is something going on the “Great White North.” After finding the gem that was Raycord a couple of years ago, I just recently stumbled across Josh Furey’s amazing sounds.  He is a terrific Canadian artist from Calgary, Alberta and his second album “Petals” was released back in December.

This review is a bit late to the party, but Furey did recently release a film in April for one of his tracks called “Zither.” You can check out the beautifully done film in the video below. It was filmed around NYC and British Columbia and incorporated the tremendous photography of Khalik Allah. It really is a visual experience with urban and natural themes interspersed throughout and Furey’s music really fits it nicely.

As stated on this blog many times before, I’m a sucker for anyone who can produce that film noir soundtrack, dark/smokey trip-hop sound and Furey puts these sounds together so well. I also heard some sounds that reminded me of Bonobo’s work. The track “Circles” being a good example with a light guitar intro, heavier emphasis on the bass, and great use of his instrumental ensemble.

“Katana” also has a similar sound.  In this one, I really liked the upright bass sound and the minimalistic drum kit beat. However, I wish he decided to explore other directions with the track. It really has a great groove, but I just think a couple more variations to the original melody could have made it a lot more interesting.

Overall, “Petals” flows beautifully with a consistent trip-hop beat throughout but also mixes in some Latin sounds here and there to give it a unique flavor. Josh Furey is co-owner of Nocturne Records and you can pick up “Petals” via his Bandcamp page.  I strongly recommend this album.  Buy it and enjoy on repeat!

Keep Chillin’
-Chris

Record Store Day! (Pretty Lights remix- Can’t Contain It)

Two of my favorite artists have teamed up to offer a great LP of B-sides on what is becoming one of the more anticipated days in music each year.  Derek Vincent Smith (Pretty Lights) offered the collection of songs called “The Hidden Shades” for RSD this year. The B-sides are from his most recent album “A Color Map of the Sun” and one track that stood out for me was the Blue Sky Black Death remix for “Can’t Contain It.”

The original version of the track is more hard hitting, but the duo (Kingston Maguire and Ian Taggart) from San Francisco provide a toned down, more mellow remix that is great for chillin’. I liked a lot of the atmospheric sounds from their album “Late Night Cinema”  and along with most of my other favorite chill tracks, they use some complex beats that evolve throughout the songs, which I think is the perfect marriage with Pretty Lights harder hitting, glitchy sounds.

If you were able to pick this one up on RSD, you’re a lucky one! If not, you can listen to the remix below or try to find it at your local independent record store.

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Tracklist:

1. Lost And Found
2. New Moon Same Dark
3. Starlit Skies
4. Can’t Contain It
5. Lost And Found (ODESZA Remix)
6. New Moon Same Dark (Love & Light Remix)
7. Starlit Skies (Emancipator Remix)
8. Can’t Contain It (Blue Sky Black Death Remix)

Goldfrapp- Tales of Us

Goldfrapp ditches the 80′s glam synth pop sound from their last album “Head First” and goes with somewhat of a stripped down sound with their new album “Tales of Us.”  The more mellow sound is the flip side of the sonar dichotomy that Goldfrapp’s music usually entails, so fans of their hits like “Strict Machine” and “Ooh La La” may be a bit disappointed in this one.  However, I think it may be their best work yet.

There is a dreary feel to the record The opener “Jo” for example features some pretty dark lyrics-

heard a shot and someone calling
strained in darkness
vapour like a veil
hangs over
the city tonight
hanging there behind the trees
a blood red moon is watching

Those aforementioned fans of Goldfrapp’s upbeat stuff will take comfort in knowing that my favorite track (which was also maybe the most interesting) was the dance number “Thea.” It has a really cool outro as well with what sounds like someone walking away to the sounds of gently fading synth chords and a pulsating beat all after the final lyric “I want you gone.”  It is just awesome artistry!  ”Thea” really stands alone in contrast to the rest of the album.

The only problem I had with “Tales of Us” was the repetitive sound structure.  The songs seemed to all begin softly with a guitar intro and then add on some flowing strings.  I really liked them, but I think a bit more diversity could have been given to the tracks and still maintain the sound the group (or maybe more specifically producer Will Gregory) was going for.  On the plus side, the stripped down style really lets Allison’s vocals come to the forefront of the music and draw you in to the stories (“tales” if you will) they are telling.

The album features tracks all titled with people’s (mostly women) names other than the mysterious “Stranger” could be mistaken for the opening credits of the next James Bond movie.  It’s just a beautiful flowing track that I could not listen to enough.  It reminded me of similar works by the duo like one of my favorites “Lovely Head” from their highly acclaimed debut effort “Felt Mountain.”

“Drew” was the first single released back in July and continues that dark sound but is also lifted up a bit by the beautiful backing strings.  The second single released last week was “Annabel” and builds a bit slower.  The outro lets you float along and really appreciate what you just listened to, then brings more strings in for a second and immediately they back down and the track fades out and make a great ending.

“Tales of Us” was released September 10th on Mute Records and you will also be able to check out Goldfrapp’s appearance on  Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on September 26th.

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Boards of Canada-Tomorrow’s Harvest

After their fascinating promotional campaign, a live album listening event at an abandoned Southern California water park in the desert, and eight years of preparations, Boards of Canada finally released their latest album “Tomorrow’s Harvest” on June 11th.

Although the album has been out for just over a week now, I still wanted to review the album as it has been the first BOC release since I started this blog.  Also, I didn’t want to throw a review together to hit right after release day because I needed some time to absorb this one, as well as to separate myself a bit from the hype surrounding the band’s first release in a long time.

“Tomorrow’s Harvest” absolutely lives up to the hype and actually exceeded my expectations.  When an artist takes that much time off between projects, you wonder if the quality of the music will suffer on the new release.  There is so much detail in this album and so many different samples and secrets, it seems as though it actually took them the full eight years to produce this masterpiece.

I was also reminded of other previous BOC works within the complexities of this album. The catchy melody of “Nothing is Real” reminded me a bit of “Roygbiv” from “Music Has A Right to Children.”  The peppery “New Seeds” was a bit reminiscent of “Telephasic Workshop” from “Music Has a Right…” and even a bit  like “Gyroscope” from “Geogaddi.”  You will also hear a ton of random counting on vocal samples (BOC are huge into numbers) and of course that amazing and unmistakeable vintage synth sound that BOC are so well known for.

I think this project is one of those “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” sort of things.  It is huge in scope from the cinematic opening of “Gemini” to the deep synth of “Semena Mertvykh” which sounds like music for the closing credits.  This could be intentional as there is a bit of an apocolyptic feel from some of the darker tracks such as “Gemini.” “Reach for the Dead” and “Telepath” as well as some of the other track titles.  ”Cold Earth,” “Sick Times,” and “Collapse” don’t really conjure up thoughts of a walk in the park.  I could definitely see this album being the soundtrack for some apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic film.

However, I think there’s also a bit of hopefulness in the music too.  You’ll hear that in the brighter sounds of “Nothing is Real” which reminded me a bit of “Roygbiv” from their debut “Music Has A Right to Children.” The absolutely stunning “Sundown” also made me think of a sundown after a war has ended and it reminds the combatants that a new dawn of peace is arriving the next day.

I really cannot say enough about the quality of work the brothers (Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin) have put out here.  I understand they now have families and perhaps took some time off in order to attend to those more pressing matters. Though I can only hope that we do not need to wait another eight years to hear the next bit of perfection from these geniuses.  In the meantime, if you haven’t already, go pick up “Tomorrow’s Harvest.  It is available now on Warp Records.

Keep chillin,

Chris