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!
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.
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 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
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.
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.
I hadn’t really heard anything in recent memory quite so unique, so I felt an overwhelming need to share this with you guys. This sound incorporates that lo fi/”chill wave” sound (think Ducktails) with trip hop beats and if I had heard something like it before, it certainly wasn’t as memorable as this effort from Dirty Art Club. Dirty Art Club are a DJ/producer duo from Charlotte, NC and have released their third album just last week entitled “Vermillion.”
What this album lacks in length (the eight tracks average about two minutes), it makes up for in lush soundscapes and diverse instrumentation. I heard strings, flute, and some beautiful weird sounding chimes on “Evermore” which after tweeting the guys to find out what they were offered the response of “believe it or not, it’s a heavily affected guitar…” There are some great layered vocals on a few tracks as well.
You will get those bright, chill wave influenced tracks right off the bat with “Hemlock” and “Sunburn.” It definitely will make an awesome soundtrack for the summer. They even use a bossa nova sound which fits the bright, warm climes theme on the track “Girls in June.” You will also be covered for night time listening with a few darker toned tracks “Ghost of the Night,” the ultra smooth “Neon Dreams,” and the closer “Strange Wolf” being great examples.
I had a draft ready for this review on my way down to Miami for work and was about to say this would be perfect pool listening music, but that now seems like it’s not an option as it has rained on and off and the sun has not made an appearance since I have been here. So, I am going to just chill in the hotel room and put this album on repeat. Vermillion was released May 28th on Phonosaurus Records. Go get it and enjoy all summer long!
I have been consumed with the cryptic “Lost- Dharma Initiative” type of game being played by Boards of Canada over the past week and a half. It began on Record Store Day, someone in New York stumbled upon a 2013 record from Warp Records with Boards of Canada on the title, six spaces with dashes but one section with XXXXX. When they played the record, it starts off with an intro similar to BOC’s music with that unmistakable retro-synth sound. However, then a lot of static comes in and behind it you can hear someone reading numbers like from a “secret” numbers station.
That all started a fury of other clues including another record found in London, updates to BOC’s YouTube videos in their playlist with clues in edited descriptions and other static filled videos that have to be played simultaneously to hear any useful information. The header of the Twoism.org (a BOC chat forum) website held a clue, as did a quick hit on BBC radio, and a performance art-like display across the street from Rough Trade Records in London displayed a film and the position of the BBC radio clue. The film featured a desert scene and an abandoned gas station. The hysteria has reached a point where some Redditors even traveled out to the location to search for clues! Last night, Adult Swim aired an ad (below video) which followed up the Record Store film with another one seemingly the same to clarify that fifth number and its position in the sequence.
I’ve been getting a lot of information from Twoism.org, a great blog from RJ Kozain (http://2020k.wordpress.com/), and the BOC sub-reddit. What does this all mean? HOPEFULLY, it means this is the kickoff of a promotional campaign and the Scottish brothers are about to release their first album in eight years. All we can do now is sit back and wait a bit longer for that sixth code.
Lusine’s (Todd McIlwain) new album just dropped on the 19th and it is amazing! The title “The Waiting Room” is appropriate as I have been eagerly awaiting this release since it has been four years since his last full-length album.
What you get with “The Waiting Room” is an expansion of Lusine’s amazing use of layered synth sounds, but also some great vocal work performed by Sarah McIlwain. Yep, you guessed it, Mrs. Lusine! Her vocals add another layer to the already complex sonic tapestry Lusine usually paints and makes a welcome addition to his music.
“Panoramic” is the perfect opener. It opens quietly and builds and builds with a few key changes, then eases quietly out to the next track. The massive synth chords were a terrific climax as the track made its way toward the end. Just sublime!
I also enjoyed the hypnotic “On Telegraph” where Lusine is seemingly sending a pulsating telegraph signal out to his audience reminding us that he is back. Don’t worry, we’re still here! Those pulses are combined with a smooth bass beat and then evolves into a mid-tempo dance track towards the end.
“Another Tomorrow” and “Without a Plan” were the first two singles released for “The Waiting Room” and make a back to back appearance in the middle of the album. These tracks seemed more accessible than his more electronic-sounding stuff and the addition of Sarah’s vocals make them even more “poppy.” They both invoke a bright and warm feeling and I really enjoyed the hook on “Another Tomorrow.”
“The Waiting Room” was released on Ghostly Records and is available now. Lusine is also touring this year in support of the new album. Dates can be found here on his website.
Our friend Hashfinger has an awesome new release on Sinoptic Records.
The new album is called “Coriolis Effect” and has a lot in common with lot of “Hash’s” previous works. This includes his tremendous use of trip hop beats and vintage samples.
The wrinkle this time, is the theme of space. This is mostly made evident by a few of the track titles (“Ghost of Jupiter” and “King Neptune” for example) The Coriolis Effect is also a term used in physics to describe “a deflection of moving objects when they are viewed in a rotating reference frame.” (Thanks Wikipedia!)
In the title track (see embedded track below) as well as in the two planet-titled tracks, he uses some crazy vintage science fiction movie samples. You will still definitely hear a lot of those hard hitting beats which Hash does best, but I think this change of direction is a positive step forward for him as an artist. He had been using a lot of old style music (jazz, lounge, etc) with his beats in the past, so blowing the past away and looking towards the future and space is a great new direction to venture. I’m definitely curious as to what direction of the creative process he will take next.
After releasing the very chilled out “Need You” in June, “Edit Murphy” has a new EP out called “Brooklyn Nights” featuring some very nice deep house sounds.
The main single “Brooklyn Nights” is a pretty straight forward house track with a bit of an uptempo feel to it. The synth melody is a lower tone so it doesn’t overpower the rest of the mix. It is really quite smooth, which also is a good word to describe the soulful vocals you hear throughout the track.
I really liked the remixes on this EP. Starting with the very fun intro on the remix by Aussie “Fantastic Man.” It starts off with lots of beeps and boops and then turns into a mellower chill track with strings in the background and some bluesy keys. One could say it is “fantastic!” (Sorry, had to do it.)
Savile’s remix starts out darker with more of a synthy/new age feel. There is an abstract section with but this track settles down nicely towards the end as well providing for another chilled experience.
“Beverly Thrills” (video below) provides many thrills with a very fun driving beat and a funky guitar looped melody. It starts off almost as a rock track but then migrates back to the electronica side after a bit. Since I’m a fan of the use of multiple genres within a track, I loved it. Not quite sure what the title “Beverly Thrills” has to do with “Brooklyn Nights,” but I’ll take the great music any day…or night in this case. It was my favorite track on this EP, so definitely check this one out.
The single is out now on Beatport, iTunes, and other fine locales on the Smoke N’ Mirrors imprint.
I had my doubts after the UK duo’s efforts with “Yeah Ghost” but they certainly deliver on this beautiful track made available today from RCRDLBL.com. The track is part of a “Track Track” double cover album effort featuring well established artists like Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Orbital, Underworld, and others and will be released on September 3rd along with a book about the English synth pop legends.
Since “The Colour of Spring” is a cover song, it can’t stray too far from the original, but Binns and Hardaker strip it down to a simple piano melody and place it alongside the beautiful vocal work of “Only Girl” (Ellen Murphy) to add a sense of urgency at the beginning. There are some additional beautiful spacey synth sounds that wander in and out and a simple, repeating deep bass line (think Massive Attack’s “Protection”). A gradual fade out at the end of the track adds to its mystique. It is really a great emotional piece.
I think what this track has that was missing from “Yeah Ghost” was that mystique of previous efforts as well were the beautiful vocals of Sia who went solo and then hit the charts on David Guetta’s “Titanium.” There just wasn’t that iconic moment like they hit with on tracks like “Destiny” and “Somersault.” Perhaps the closest they came on “Yeah Ghost” was Martha Tilston’s performance on “Pop Art Blue” but that track itself isn’t anything close to those Z7 standbys. Only Girl’s vocals provide that mystique on this awesome cover track. I just hope they can parlay that mystique over to their next full release!