Morcheeba recently released their ninth album and it is a bit of a departure from their prior works. They don’t seem to use as much of their trip hop sound on this one entitled “Blaze Away.” However, there are a couple of nice callbacks to that sound on “Paris Sur Mer” (with Benjamin Biolay) and the closer “Mezcal Dream.” That doesn’t hold the album back as it strikes a nice balance between more reggae flavored for the first half, then becomes more tranquil and ambient for the second half.
Two of the first three including the title track “Blaze Away” and “Love Dub” are classic Morcheeba with reggae influenced sounds and Skye Edwards’ silky smooth vocals. Roots Manuva is also featured on Blaze Away. I couldn’t stop listening to “Blaze Away” and it should be an instant hit.
The bluesey “Sweet L.A.” gave me the film noir vibe with it’s stripped down sound using only the keyboard. Definitely a highlight of the album for me.
Back in May, our friends from Washington DC and ESL Music artists “Thunderball” have released an album of remixes aptly called “Declassified” in the spirit of their “Spy movie soundtrack” genre.
Of course Thievery Corporation has provided a couple of great remixes to this effort with a cooled out Caribbean flavored version of “Pop the Trunk” which was a nice departure from the back beat heavy original. You’ll also get tracks remixed by Fort Knox Five, Chris Joss, Ursula 1000, and Bombay Dub Orchestra among others.
I really enjoyed the Boca 45 remix” of “Stereo Tonic”, which is one of my favorite Thunderball tracks as well. It’s funky and a bit more hard hitting than the original and reminded me a bit of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.” However, the rest of the album features more reggae influences added to the mixes and I think it makes for a good combination to the cinematic sounds and back beats that are used in Thunderball’s music. It really makes for a nice chill listening session.
Hopefully the release of “Declassified” signals Thunderball are back in the studio also working on new music as it has been seven years since their last release.
You can pick up “Declassified” on Bandcamp, Beatport, iTunes, and Juno Download.
I was shocked when I checked my Bandsintown app to find out that vaunted house DJ’s Gabriel and Dresden were coming to my fair city of Des Moines. They played at a smaller venue called Lime Lounge and only 100 tickets were sold for the event. The duo were playing a very limited number of events around the country this fall so I feel very fortunate they chose our fair city to play a show.
I talked to a few people during the set and most were fellow EDM/trance fans who were elated that G&D decided to come play this little room when they could sell out huge venues in Vegas or Miami or play huge festival sets. It was a very cold night but inside the quaint Lime Lounge it was warm and I could hear the thumping of the bass as I approached. Since there were only 100 tickets sold, Lime Lounge was not jam packed with folks so it was easy to get a drink and then get back to the dance floor quickly. The venue itself was a nice place to dance and listen to some awesome trance music, yet it still had enough room to lounge in VIP areas on the side of the stage or stay off the dance floor and hang by tables in the bar area.
They promised to play “classics only” and did they ever! Of course they played their biggest hit (as Motorcycle) “As The Rush Comes.” Everyone seemed to be singing along with that one. They also played the very popular trance hit “Without You Near” as well as the more poppy “Tracking Treasure Down.” Two remixes hit the mark for me which were the Killers’ “Read my Mind” and Sia’s “Breathe Me.” A video of the “Breathe Me” remix is below. I hadn’t heard either of those tracks before and just loved them!
It was possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these guys in such a intimate setting and if you ever get the chance to see them in a small room I highly recommend you go as well!
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!
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.
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!
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
09 Time Eater
11 Your Good Times Are Just Beginning
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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!