Mark Farina Live at Monarch SF

San Francisco-

DJ Mark Farina was back in his home town San Francisco last Wednesday night, spinning at Monarch on 6th Street in SOMA.

The venue is a beautiful club with a lounge in the main entrance area and a club downstairs.  The upstairs lounge had a bit of a vintage feel to it with the older furniture they had set up.  Downstairs was a bit more contemporary.  There was a nice VIP area in the corner which was pretty full.  It was a very good crowd for a Wednesday night and the place packed by around Midnight.  It was a “Gen X” crowd for the most part with some younger folks in attendance, but everyone seemed to be in their late 20’s or early 30’s.

The appropriately named “Colossus” (6’8″ Englishman, now Oakland resident Charlie Tate) played a great warm up set including a lot of Q-tip and Tribe songs, including the very groovy mix of “Got til’ it’s Gone” with Janet Jackson.  He also knew what the patrons wanted and mixed in some nice electro jazz to get us all ready for Mark Farina.

Mark Farina

Farina came on around just after 11 and started things off with a great set including a diverse set of tracks including his own Mushroom Jazz material. What really got the crowd going early on however, was a mix of Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’.”   Not sure why people freaked when he played that, but it was enjoyable and he did provide a nice remix of the song.

"Mushroom Jazz"

Through the warm up set and Farina’s, there was a beautiful visual presentation to go along with the music. It was even complete with close ups of mushrooms.  How fitting.  I’ve included a picture of the scene here, but it’s not the best quality since it was just taken with my phone. I’ll remember to take my good camera along with me on work trips just in case another great show like this comes along.  🙂  I’ve also included a quick video of the show below.

I had to attempt to get some sleep before a 630am flight back home so I was unable to stay for the entire show. Farina is touring this summer so I may get a chance to see him again in the near future. You can too. Check out the tour dates on his website DJMarkFarina.net!

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Hugo Kant- Follow Up mix

Our friend Hugo Kant has a new guest mix out for The Find Magazine and it is spectacular!

If you’re into Hugo’s trademark retro cinematic sounds, you will definitely like this mix.  You’ll even hear an orchestra warming up at the beginning!  If you are yet to hear his music, then this mix is a great representation of what he is all about.  Hugo uses a lot of tracks with flute parts in the mix which makes sense since it is a big part of his music as well.  However, there are many many instruments represented in these tracks so you’ll definitely get what you’re looking for with this mix.

There are a couple of Kant’s own tracks in the mix (“June” and “The Chord Cracker” from his album “I Don’t Want to be an Emperor” One of my favorite additions to the mix was TM Juke & The Jack Baker Trio’s “Yeah The Crab.”  The track features a perfect mix of a hip hop beat with big horn stabs and even a little surf guitar to give it that unique retro cinematic feel.  I have to say it again, if there’s an artist that tries to get that David Holmes soundtrack feel into music, it’s Hugo Kant.  He just “gets” it.

For you chill out fiends out there, there’s the trip-hop sound of “Over the Coals” by Tipper as well as the back beat filled “Tired and Awake” by Hidden Orchestra which has a great deep stand up bass melody and builds into an awesome sweeping orchestral sound.

This mix will definitely tide me over until Hugo’s next project.  You can download it for free from his Soundcloud page or just listen below.

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Track listing-
01 Printempo – Interruptions Taking Shape
02 Laura J Martin – Spy (The Simonsound Remix)
03 Protassov – Wake Up
04 Tm Juke And The Jack Baker Trio – Yeah the Crab!
05 Hugo Kant – June
06 Tipper – Over the Coals
07 Hidden Orchestra – Tired and Awake
08 Astroboter – A Tale Of Two Spirits
09 Ancient Astronauts – Rocket Science
10 The Blue Square – Tic Toc
11 Kovacs – 5 BC Star
12 Protassov – Another Letter
13 Hugo Kant – The Chord Cracker
14 Blossom – Tiffkas
15 Radio Citizen – Last Exit
16 357 – Ocean’s 14th friend
17 Dutch – Warm Like the Wind

Anji Bee- “Put Some Music On” EP

Our long time friend, Anji Bee has a new EP out in advance of her soon to be released solo debut. The single is called “Put Some Music On” and it is delightfully chill.

The original track features Anji’s always beautiful vocals which are layered magnificently.  It is a sultry and sexy tune, so much so that it will help set the mood for all sorts of nocturnal activities.  The other remixes are tremendously done.  I really enjoyed the “Intensity of Sound Deep House Excursion” which starts minimally with some synth sounds but then grows into an upbeat dance track even invoking a bit of a disco feel with the addition of some string sounds.  Very groovy!

Speaking of grooves, “The Grooveblaster Mix” is also a very chill remix of this track and has my favorite sound in all of music, the muted trumpet.  It just always reminds me of film noir and a smoke filled jazz club.  It also has a bit of bluesy guitar sound which rounds out that blues/jazz sound nicely.

After checking out this EP, I cannot wait to hear the rest of the new album from the host of “The Chillcast with Anji Bee” and the vocalist/lyricist half of the duo “Lovespirals.” Go to Anji’s Bandcamp site to pick up this great EP.  It’s definitely worth the five bucks!

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Radiohead- Live in Kansas City

Thom Yorke performing at Sprint Center- KC, MO

I was SO lucky to finally be able to see the legendary indie group Radiohead in Kansas City last month on March 11th.  Since this show and tour are in support of their latest “King of Limbs” album, they played five of the eight songs from that album.  However the rest of their discography was well represented with exception of their debut album “Pablo Honey.”

The set contained more laid back tracks, with the stripped-down “Nude” replacing snarling “Airbag” on the setlist from the previous show in St Louis.  The great thing about Thom Yorke and crew is even with downtempo songs, they still emote so many beautiful moments you don’t realize there weren’t many “rockers.”  The mood of each song was enhanced by the beautiful stage lighting and video art in the background.  Simply a stunning visual display.

As you can tell from the photo of Yorke and the videos I took below, I had a pretty good spot on the floor.  🙂  The highlights of the show for me would be the beautiful back to back of “All I Need” and “Pyramid Song” (video below), “The Daily Mail” which was the darkly intense new song dedicated to Rupert Murdoch, and of course the epic “Paranoid Android” that closed the just over two hour performance.

Radiohead will continue to be pretty busy touring throughout the year, with upcoming shows on the west coast starting with a stop in Seattle on the 9th.  They also will be headlining Coachella on the 14th, then hit the east coast of the US.  After that they will pack up and head back to Europe for July and October and finally finish the year down under in Australia.

Keep Chillin’

-Chris

Setlist-

  • Bloom
  • 15 Step
  • Morning Mr. Magpie
  • Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
  • All I Need
  • Pyramid Song
  • The Daily Mail
  • Supercollider
  • Nude
  • Identikit
  • Lotus Flower
  • There There
  • Feral
  • How to Disappear Completely
  • Reckoner
  • Separator
  • Myxomatosis
  • Idioteque
  • Lucky
  • Everything In Its Right Place
  • Give Up The Ghost
  • Paranoid Android

Mihalis Safras- Snatch!026 EP

I have a soft spot for any music that reminds me of David Holmes. Hey, at least I admit it. A track on the latest Snatch! Records EP by Greek DJ/Producer Mihalis Safras hits that spot dead on.  Safras has appeared on other well known dance labels such as Soma, Saved, Trapez and Great Stuff.

The cinematic sounding “Goldtrix” has the classic David Holmes elements such as bongos and stabbing horn ensemble hits.  It also has some 70’s disco sounds which again bring up that cinematic feel of cops and robbers fighting it out on the streets of any random urban landscape.  In fact, it also reminded me a bit of “Disco Science” from the Snatch Soundtrack.  Perhaps it is fitting Safras is on Snatch! Records then?

The other three tracks on the EP are more of the straight forward dance variety, but Safras makes them quite enjoyable.  “Green” has a nice repetitive bass beat and some soulful female vocals.  “Faidon” has a thumping beat alternating with hand claps and appears to be perfect for spinning in a huge club with all of the patrons stomping and clapping along.   The closer “Garoubalo” has a bit more of a retro feel with a stand up bass sound along with some brilliant jazzy piano work.  There are some cool synth sounds that wash in and out as the track goes along which allow it to maintain a chilled out feel.  Great stuff!

The EP was just released today on Snatch! Records on February 8th and you can pick it up HERE at Beatport.

Many thanks to Neil Bainbridge at Kish Communications for the heads up on this one.

Keep Chillin’

-Chris

Track listing:

Green
Faidon
Goldtrix
Garoubalo

Hashfinger (free download)

Artwork from Hashfinger's January 12 EP

I’ve been following the releases of Hashfinger on Sinoptic Music since this past summer.  Each month he releases an EP of electronic hip hop goodness.  The young Hashfinger hails from Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK and has been with Sinoptic since he was a teenager and is still just 21 but has a phenomenal talent for putting together great music using a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of a myriad of musical genres.  One minute you’ll be listening to 60’s lounge music and the next you’re listening to a Hawaiian themed song with hip hop beats.  (B1 on January EP)  A lot of his music seems to draw inspiration from or at the least conjure up imagery of old film soundtracks.

He produces some hip hop music under the name Neverlearn (hence the beats in all of the Hashfinger tracks), but I cannot emphasize enough how well he uses retro sounds for his mixes, sampling tons of older songs.   On August’s EP, he remixes a classic from the 60’s, The Turtles’ “You Showed Me”, with a hypnotic trip-hop beat.  If you are a fan of old school big band jazz, you’ll love Hashfinger as he is constantly adding beats to many classic jazzy sounds!

The November EP was probably my favorite of his so far and I think exemplifies his music best as it features smokey jazz flavored trip hop tracks which inspire visions of a film scene from a Parisian cafe or perhaps film noir.  The samples he chooses are so melodically interesting on their own, but when he adds his trip/hip-hop beats to them, it makes them irresistible!  The sax/piano duo on B3 is just amazing and is just about the perfect chill out track.

When I first started listening to Hashfinger this summer, I got a bit of a St. Germain vibe from his music. This was quite outstanding as St. Germain really got me into this genre of music to begin with.  However, Hashfinger seems to like a bit harder hip hop/trip hop beat over his stuff, which makes it a bit more interesting than the mellower St. Germain.  “Chill out” music can be relaxing, but when it is also interesting, it makes it so much more enjoyable and allows you to fully immerse yourself in the music.  I think Hashfinger does a terrific job of pulling the “interesting” part off, which made his music so intriguing to me.

You can check out the January EP from Hashfinger’s Bandcamp site below.  I checked in quickly with Sinoptic before posting this and they let me know that “Hashfinger is currently selling exclusive beats as well as working on regular releases for Sinoptic. A pressed vinyl is expected at some point this year out on Sinoptic. Stay tuned to sinopticmusic.com hashfinger.bandcamp.com and @hashfinger for more details.”

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Interview with Ben Hoo

There is a very talented emerging artist on our hands who has been working on a number of things lately, but most notably doing some outstanding remixes for electronic music pioneer Moby.   His name is Ben Hoo from London and in the process of finding out more about him, I have also discovered how immensely talented he is.

Here is the interview-

What first made you interested in electronic music?

I was always surrounded by music when I was younger, but I first got turned on to electronic music on a family holiday to Cornwall when I was 13.  We had an album “In The Mix ’97’ Volume 3” on in the car repeatedly on the way there and the way back.  Tracks like Brainbug “Nightmare”, BT “Flaming June”, Tori Amos “Professional Widow”, Chicane “Offshore”, Airscape “Pacific Melody”.  I was amazed that there were so many sounds I hadn’t heard before so I couldn’t help but delve into it.  That was definitely the moment which changed my focus.

I saw on your bio that you draw inspiration from Nitin Sawhney (a great electronic artist) who else are your biggest influences?

Yes, Nitin is definitely the person I’ve followed the longest.  I really admire his versatility in performance and production and have an affinity for his choice of instrumentation and tone.  When I was younger, I was really inspired by BT, Future Sound Of London, Way Out West, but I would say Hybrid were my most important musical inspiration.  The combination of complex rhythm patterns, plethora of effects and emotive chords really got me!  Hybrid’s sounds seemed impossible, so I needed to work them out. That inspiration has become part of the way I produce now. Recently my inspirations are many and always changing, but I’m really liking what Davide Squillace, Nicolas Duvoisin, Tolga Kashif, Digitonal, Jacaszek and Aoki Takamasa have been doing, amongst many others.

What is the difference in your process for remixes and your process for making your own music?

My music has a tendency to go through various guises before I arrive at a decision to go with it.  I’m definitely more precious about the sounds I create in original music, although I don’t think it necessarily shows in the final recording.

When working on a remix I tend to go with my first developed concept, and when working with someone else’s sounds I try to uphold an idea from the original so I don’t veer too much.

I’m wondering about how you came to remix the Moby tracks.  How do you choose who you remix?  Is it just up to you? Did he choose you to remix his music?

I had done a remix for a previous artist from DEF Management (Rex The Dog) and was offered the chance to do a spec mix for Moby ‘Pale Horses’.  I chose to do a downtempo mix based on the vocals, as I believe my slower style blends better with the texture of voice.  Fortunately, Moby really liked it!  I had another opportunity when Moby was looking for a slower mix of ‘Lie Down In Darkness’ and he really liked that too, requesting me again on the following single, ‘The Right Thing’.

What are you listening to right now?

Aoki Takamasa – Simply Funk- is actually from 2004, but you wouldn’t know it.  You get to hear Takamasa’s brilliant development of powerful rhythms throughout and the ambient tones and glitchy percussion sounds occasionally appear to switch roles in the ever changing soundscape.  There’s strong stereo presence and sometimes playing with the depth, weaving the sounds in three dimensions.  The title track is my favourite –  an unfolding tight rhythm completed by the beauty and resolve of the chords.

Being from the UK, why do you think the electronic music scene is so strong there?

Electronic music has been accessible here for a long time.  There’s a long history with rave / club culture, from illegal raves to world famous clubs such as the Hacienda and Ministry of Sound.  Our media is very open to electronic music… we have lots of specialist radio shows here pushing new music and long standing dance magazines like Mixmag / DJ mag plus great underground club scene with Fabric & Sankeys Soap etc.  Many people have had the opportunity to be part of a scene as a listener, performer, organiser, collaborator etc.  Entire communities have been created from the affinity with the music scenes. Communicating with our friends and those around us is still important here today and stands as a different and more personal outlet to the web.

Where do you see electronic music headed in the future?  More genres? More mixing of genres?  More popular, less popular?

Its a hard question to answer, but I think there will definitely be more genres, and fusing of genres – electronic music is always evolving.

There are always genres that seem to emerge as ‘popular’, and become more mainstream, but fads change… I believe the proportion of people who really love electronic music will remain the same.

Any thoughts of a live tour or are you just doing DJ sets and mixing in your own stuff?  If you do tour are you just staying in the UK or will you go all around EU? Festivals perhaps?

At the moment, I’m just DJing, but I definitely plan to take things live eventually.  I would love to develop a setup for both house / techno sets and chill music.  I’m often playing keys and percussion over my productions and thinking of the sounds from a live perspective.  When I tour, I would definitely like to take it beyond the UK.

Any other projects to speak of besides what I have seen on your RA bio?  When do you expect to release a full length album?  Any preview tidbits you can provide? (An overall theme, genres being used, track names?)

Well, the latest Moby remix I produced ‘The Right Thing’ is released globally on 12th / 13th Dec.
I produced a tech house remix of M.A.N.D.Y vs Adultnapper’s “201”, which is released today (25th Nov) on Beatport: http://www.beatport.com/track/201-ben-hoo-remix/3110156 and then I have another solo EP coming out on Kindisch very soon (we’re just getting remixes in). I’ll start working on a full length next year!

Mr. Hoo definitely seems to have a knack for making great tracks even better with his changes and you can sample some of his work in the YouTube video below.  This wonderfully chill remix of Moby’s- “The Right Thing” features the soulful and amazingly beautiful vocals of Inyang Bassey.  Hoo adds a ton of gorgeous synth sounds and a minimalistic, haunting close to Moby’s original more funk-driven version with strings.  The track will be released today on iTunes UK and tomorrow in the US.  I’d also recommend checking out this remix of “Pale Horses” on YouTube.  On that one, Hoo puts fantastic downtempo spin on another great Moby track with hypnotic waves of synth and great beats.  I’m sure we will hear much more in the future from Mr. Hoo so keep an eye out for more from him.  Thanks so much to Mr. Hoo for making this interview possible.
Keep chillin’
-Chris

Interview with Jenova 7

Photo courtesy of Jenova 7 Last.fm bio

I sat down during lunch break from my “real job” to have a phone call with Michael Sirois, aka “Jenova 7” to discuss his music.  Jenova 7 is (among many other things) a trip-hop artist originally from Boston area, but recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career in film and music.  I came into contact with him on the social music website Turntable.fm in one of the chillout rooms.  I really enjoyed the trip-hop tracks he played and wondered just who this artist Jenova 7 was when the artist name came up.  When he told me they were his own, I just had to talk to him and find out more.

One of the questions I usually start off with is “What influences your music?” Sirois said he was heavily influenced by DJ Shadow and also liked Jimi Hendrix and DJ Cam.  I definitely heard the influence of DJ Shadow and DJ Cam as well as some Smoke City in his music.

Since he is a filmmaker and has a heavy interest in film, he said draws a lot of inspiration for his music from films.  He mentioned his favorite one is “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” because the soundtrack was very avant-garde or experimental for its time. He also (along with me) loves film noir and jazz.  He says film noir is great because it did/does a great job of showing violent themes without actually showing the violence on camera (mentioned the word diegesis specifically), making it more of a psychological intensity.

Later I asked what he was listening to right now.  He said he was so busy working on other things that he did not have much time to listen to anything else at the moment.  He did say that he had checked out DJ Shadow’s latest effort “The Less You Know, The Better.”

I asked him what he was currently working on and he first mentioned a full length album was in the works.  It is tentatively titled- “The Sounds of Sector 7” and is scheduled for release in a few months.  It should have “around eighteen tracks” and he actually started working on it before his latest EP “Dusted Jazz Volume 1” was released.  “Dusted Jazz…” is up as a free download on his Bandcamp site.  It is really a great chillout album in that he has some great downtempo beats.  He also uses some great jazz instrumentation.  Audiophiles will also enjoy it as he uses a lot of samples and integrates them well with the beats.  You can also pre-order the upcoming album on the same Bandcamp site here and with your order you can download five tracks immediately.  Finall

He also had just received an email the morning we talked about a record label interested in having him do an EP for them, so he was excited about that. Finally, he said he was working with a rapper he had met through Turntable.fm and they had been putting some music together as well.  So when I asked what he was listening to, he really wasn’t lying when he said he didn’t have much time to listen to other things.  He has a lot of irons in the fire!

It really amazes me how one website (Turntable.fm) could end up actually producing some great new acts just through social networking and the love of music.  I think there’s a good chance it stays around for a while, or at least until someone else comes up with a better format for DJ’ing to a virtual “crowd.”  I feel fortunate to have bumped into Michael on Turntable and look forward to exploring for more awesome new music and finding more people to connect with.

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Naoki Kenji- Shiokaze

You may know Naoki Kenji from his work with chillout acts The Sushi Club or JP  Juice (previously reviewed here at the Chillout Scene).  However you may know him or even if you don’t, he is a certainly is a purveyor of finely chilled beats.  Since I had reviewed JP Juice before, I wanted to make sure I let everyone know about Naoki’s next project.

I spoke with Naoki a bit over Facebook chat to ask him a couple of questions about the new release and he told me the meaning of “Shiokaze” is “salt breeze.”  That title is definitely fitting since he mentioned the album was produced entirely in Porto Petro which is “a little cozy town” located off the coast of Spain in the Balearic Islands.  He said he was raised near the Pacific Ocean and it had been a long time since he had been near the sea, so he wanted to produce the album there.

Shiokaze is a very well mixed album, balancing laid back beats with more uptempo dance beats.  None of it felt disjointed.  “Umi No Oto” was a great “chill” track featuring the beautiful vocals of Japanese vocalist SHIZU which has a bit of a trip hop intro and then glides along a gentle groove with flowing string sounds in the background.  VERY relaxing.  A perfect track for a chillin’ after a long night out is the darker “Hoshi” which also had “SHIZU’s” whispering vocals and were accompanied by a sultry saxophone part, a great upright bass sound, and just the right amount of scratches to keep the trip-hop feel going.

On the more uptempo dance side, “Stratos 57” has some gentle synth waves which keep the track relaxing and almost hypnotic, but there is a great beat to it with some interesting muted trumpet and bluesy keyboard throughout.  I also really liked the opener called “Ki Ite Mite” which is a nice dance track, but still had a hint of the beautiful mellowness that is to follow on some of the other tracks.  The bass beat is the hardest hitting on the album though, so it really gets you going.

Many thanks go out to Naoki for his time answering a few questions about himself and the music.  I am already highly anticipating his next project! Shiokaze is out today on 4MPO Records with the digital version to follow in December.

Keep chillin’

-Chris

Near the Parenthesis- Japanese for Beginners

Japanese for Beginners

Every once in a while  I will cruise the Amazon mp3 download store to get new ideas for blog entries or just to find new music to listen to.  Fortuitously, I stumbled upon a free download from  “Near the Parenthesis.” “Near the Parenthesis” is actually San Francisco-based musician Tim Arndt. The free download was for a track named “soft warmly straw raincoat” and it is just beautiful!  I really enjoyed the light beat that flows with a gorgeous piano performance.  The intro seemed to be some electronic noise and sounded as if someone were trying to tune in to a radio station and then the main portion of the song kicks in.

Arndt puts together some beautiful ambient soundscapes all featuring his piano playing along with all sorts of wonderful electronic sounds.  I also really enjoyed “The First Surface” which uses a lot of off beats to intertwine with the step-like melody.  It’s just a nice flowing piece that builds and builds until it reaches a seemingly out of breath ending and gently fades away.  “In Regard to Water” was a more intense bigger sounding track in which again the piano part carried the melody.  Just stunning.

I cannot reiterate enough what beautiful music Arndt has put together for this album.  Each song is so delicate, it seems if it were missing one voice the entire thing would not work.

His latest album is an aptly titled “The Near Pairing Thesis” and was released in June on n5MD Records. It seemed a bit more calm and laid back than Japanese for Beginners but was a great one to chill out to as well.  Go get it!

Keep chilin’

-Chris