Archive for June 2013

Magic is good for your health

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Only a few weeks ago, my friends all started getting into the card game known as Magic, The Gathering. Although I was reluctant to join them, I ended up giving into the peer pressure, mainly due to the ample quantity of games being played while we all hung out, consequently leaving me playing with my thumbs for the entirety of a weeknight. Yay. Furthermore, when I have nothing to do, I tend to ramp up my cancer stick intake. In other words, not playing Magic was bad for my health. The day following the aforementioned epiphany, I drove over to a card store nearby in order to purchase an intro pack. Should I mention that intro packs include two booster packs? I most definitely should, because as a child, booster packs were the height of my day. The rush of the unknown 15 cards held in those magical plastic sleeves, one of which might be a mythic rare that would cost over 50 dollars in itself, was stuff of dreams to me many years ago. Point being, you could imagine my frustration when my booster packs yielded nothing but commons and a few rare cards. Oh well, at least I got to relive my childhood.


Inspired from Teeth (2007), displayed above is the death vagina, which just so happens to be a MTG card. 

Simian mobile disco have released an LP earlier this year, in late April, and although we are only covering it now, better late than never. Entitled 'Live', the very name reveals to us that this album consists of a live, un-edited recording of the Philadelphia leg of their summer 2012 US tour. In other words, there is nothing new here, but each track, which has been cured from their discography, is individualized through the nature of their live shows. SMD have always been gear heads, employing numerous synthesizers, drum machines and effect pedals, deviating from the criticized "press play" method of playing gigs. This album is a 68-minute journey through their history, and if one takes the time to listen to its entirety in one sitting, the reward is great. 


Lucian Blomkamp is a 19 year old producer from Melbourne, Australia. According to his bio, he claims to make average songs, but this is obviously not the case, since you are reading this. He has recently released a self-entitled EP, and it is to my liking. His use of stutters in almost every one of his songs, paired with contrasting lengthy tones, whether it be a synth, string instrument, or vocal pitch, creates a very pleasant atmosphere that one can easily delve into. Furthermore, not only are the pieces good, but the accompanying videos are tastefully made. 


Since slava made my previous post, I felt it adequate to follow-up, stating that the song itself was pulled from his new LP, 'Raw Solutions'.  Released on Software Recordings, his music is relatively hard to define through modern musical norms. For example, although this album is considered to be predominantly footwork, only one track sits at 160 BPM. Perhaps this is because Slava has never been one with the footwork scene until recently, drawing roots from old school house, with releases on labels such as Future Times. Thankfully, the New Yorker realizes that genres should not be used to categorize and label music, for it should be the music produced that is used to build new genres. In other words, the present genres are the foundation for the new, innovative creations of many. 


Jon Hopkins, as I expected, was critically acclaimed for his album, 'Immunity', by the likes of Pitchfork and many other prominent music websites. For obvious reasons, FACT decided to allot him their weekly mix, and it is nothing short of amazing. 


Lastly, the video of the week goes to Moderat, who will be releasing their new album in the following month. However, for reasons unknown, it has been leaked and is available for download with little research required. Some artists like to leak their album a few days to a week prior to its release to generate hype, though a month seems like a too lengthy period of time to allot to the Berlin based project. Pondering aside, here is 'Bad Kingdom'. For reasons unknown, it is impossible to find this video through youtube search due to the recent nature of the release, so the link can be found below.


Two by Two

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     Last time I took a shot at predicting the outcome of a sporting event, I was incredibly wrong. How can someone be incredibly wrong? Aren’t you either right or wrong? Is there such a thing as degrees of wrongness? When I wrote that the Habs would defeat the Senators in 7 games, not only had the Canadiens lost 2 in a row, they were losing at the end of the first period and were on the brink of elimination. In order to better focus on completing that Thursday’s post, I installed a media blackout: I turned off my phone, I disconnected from Internet and I let my family know not to disturb me with any news from the game. When I finally completed my work and uploaded those hopeful writings to the website, we were losing by 4 and were virtually out of the playoffs. Did Lars Eller make a miraculous recovery like I had postulated? No. Did he teabag Eric Gryba at center ice and score a triple hat trick? No way, Jose. Did Montreal defeat Ottawa in 7 games? Not even a little bit.

spurs heat

     The reason I am writing this is that tonight is the final game of the 2013 NBA Championship. While I don’t have an emotional stake in this game, I do have a small financial one. I’m rooting for the Spurs, so please do so for the Heat, as my prediction will certainly turn out to be false and the Heat will win. It seems a bit silly now, but I wrote all that just so that there would be a tie-in to this week’s theme, which is pairs: two songs from a single artist or from a single release. Bla bla bla, on with the music.

kraftek

     Today’s first subject is a couple from a recent release on Kraftek entitled “Pleasurekraft presents: Kraftek Villains Vol. 1.” The first track comes from Canadian trio Return of the Jaded whose first professional output meshes elements of deep and tech house, resulting in a distinct sound and fitting well with Kraftek’s thinking outside-the-box image.

Return of the Jaded – Lolita (Original Mix)

BeatportAmazon

Released through Kraftek on May 20th, 2013

Return of the Jaded - Lolita [Kraftek] by pleasurekraft

     The first pair of songs is caped by an edit from label boss Pleasurekraft. Sitting comfortably at number 2 on Beatport’s deep house chart is their latest rework, a piece of music whose dark instrumental seems at odds with it’s title and lyrics. The duo’s binational background is at work, as the influences from both Swedish and American house scenes sound great side by side.

Josh Butler – Got A Feeling (Bontan Remix) [Pleasurekraft Edit]

BeatportAmazon

Released through Kraftek on May 20th, 2013

Josh Butler - Got A Feeling (Bontan Remix/Pleasurekraft Edit) [Kraftek] by pleasurekraft

     The next twosome comes from Raneem who is still our favorite Circus Afterhours resident. As I’ve seen written many times across many different social networking platforms, his latest trance release on High Contrast sounds a whole lot like Shogun’s “Skyfire.” In other words, the vocals are spoken, not sung. That’s the only commonality I hear. While Shogun’s epic drop may be better than Raneem’s, the Montrealer’s lead up to the climax is far superior. At the 1:39 mark, he introduces a seemingly unimportant 3-note synth that gestates for 30 seconds before taking over the track, carrying the bassline into an unexpected direction. This leads into the vocals, a soft-spoken recitation aided by sweeping synths and lovely lyrics. Then comes the peak of the tune, where the softer drop overwhelms with a relatively complex melody.

Raneem - Ray of Sunshine (Original Mix)

Beatport

Released through High Contrast Recordings on June 17th, 2013

 

     The 2nd Raneem track is his inclusion on “The Sound of Garuda: Chapter 3.” Like “Ray of Sunshine,” the 130BPM track “Carousel” is one you’d most likely hear him play in the beginning or at the tail-end of his sets, since Raneem reserves his peak-time for 140BPM. It seems as though for this production that Raneem slightly adapted his style to fit the compilation, as it carries more of a Garuda sound (hence the compilation title) than his usual work. Nonetheless, you can still hear his distinct touch and the tune pairs well with the other Montrealer’s production, Rob Naylor’s “Yes.”

Carousel (Original Mix)

BeaportiTunes

Released through Garuda on May 20th, 2013

 

     STYLSS is a boutique electronica label based in Portland, Oregon. As you  would expect from a hipster label, they house lots of experimental electronic music, as well as songs from lesser known subgenres. Chill out, or “smooth electronica,” is the subgenre that encompasses the following tracks from San Franciscan artist Howlings, a virtuoso with vocals. First up is “Hold Me Close,” the title tune from his latest 4-track release on STYLSS. The main voice in his song plays the role of structural background synth and is so prominent that it seems to battle the bassline to see who is the true backbone of the ballad. The other vocal cuts are manipulated so that they don’t really sound like voices at all, but rather in-program instruments just like the drum and cymbals that they accompany.

Howlings – Hold Me Close (Original Mix)

FREE from BandCamp

Released though STYLSS on May 20th, 2013

Howlings - Hold Me Close (OFF OF THE "HOLD ME CLOSE" EP) *AVAILABLE NOW via STYLSS* (LINK IN DESC.) by HOWLINGS

     While still a masterful display of vocal manipulation, “Let Us Be” identifies as its leaders the piano loop and the purely digital kick drum that permeate the 2nd track from the EP. The other percussions in this track are quite bizarre: I can make out the sound of a racket making contact with a racquetball from a distance, waters droplets falling into a sink from different heights, hi-hat hits that are so tightly spaced that I’d liken them to cranking a wind-up toy car, and heavily reverberated sleigh bells. It reads weird to have all those sounds enumerated, but they are fantastic put together. All Howlings releases are free, so make sure to grab these two and check out his SoundCloud page for more goodies.

Howlings – Let Us Be (Original Mix)

FREE from BandCamp

Released though STYLSS on May 20th, 2013

Howlings - Let Us Be (OFF OFF THE "HOLD ME CLOSE" EP) *AVAILABLE NOW via STYLSS* (LINK IN DESC.) by HOWLINGS

     The amount of Disclosure we’ve been including in our recent posts is coming dangerously close to that of Eric Prydz. Regardless, the English duo recently released their debut album, “Settle,” and to call it an artistic success is an understatement. In very Prydz fashion, one of my favorites from the album straddles the line between mainstream and underground. Add to that the great voice of Eliza Doolittle and you’ve created a sure fire hit.

Disclosure ft. Elliza Doolittle – You & Me (Original Mix)

iTunes

Released through Universal Island Records on June 4th, 2013

You & Me ft. Eliza Doolittle by Disclosure

This week’s video is the 2nd track from Disclosure and in my opinion, one of the strongest tracks from “Settle.” Watch as they perform live their collaboration with Jessie Ware called “Confess To Me.”

Disclosure ft. Jessie Ware – Confess To Me (Original Mix)

iTunes

Released through Universal Island Records on June 4th, 2013

 

     Make sure you click those iTunes links for Disclosure and check out the rest of the album, because it’s an exceptional one. Have a great weekend and bonne St-Jean!

Blind, trying to stay awake

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A friend of mine (we shall call him Noah) suffered an appendicitis at the very beginning of the year, and thought it wise to take magic mushrooms along with a few joints two nights after his operation. Although I was aware of the misfortune this caused for my friend, I was left in the dark as to the details of that very night until a few days ago.


Following the ingestion of his mushrooms, Noah sat around the house to play video games, patiently awaiting for the drug to take effect. However, hours passed without any strange visual appearances. There was no crocodile observing him from across the room. Furniture did not begin to melt. As a result, the only logical decision given this anti-climactic situation would be to smoke some marijuana to soothe those post-operation pains. Half an hour later, Noah began to notice he was falling asleep, as though fainting while seated. For minutes, he fought to stay awake until, out of nowhere, his vision left him. In other words, there was a blind 19 year-old in his parents house who was trying to stay awake, all while awaiting his "believed" imminent death. How would he call the hospital if he could not see? As a result of this, he speed-dialed his best friend to help him through this scary situation. His friend reassured him and found the hospital number, and they parted ways.


Artist: Clouds
Song: Drone Function
Man out of dubs EP
Label: Fifth Wall Recordings

Noah makes the same call half an hour later with reassuring news, as his vision came back, and he no longer felt the need to fight against his own body to stay awake. His friend was happy for him, and recommended that he keep doing what he was doing in order to stay out of danger.


Artist: Jon Hopkins
Song: Breathe This Air
Album: Immunity
Label: Domino

Noah makes the same call half an hour later: "Yo, it's happening again, I think I'm dying." His friend tells him that it should be fine, for the effects wore off previously. As a universal solution, he recommended that Noah ingest large amounts of water. As it turns out, he was right, for Noah went to bed and woke up feeling much better following the nightmare that preceded.



Artist: Night Drugs
Song: Nite is Like
Album: Booty Based Mob Vol. 1
Label: Booty Bakery

The moral of this story is to avoid taking hallucinogens with other drugs following a surgical operation, unless you fancy the aforementioned. Why was this story relevant? Because our appendix is a ticking time bomb just waiting to spitefully cause temporary blindness when paired with other drugs, and possibly kill us.


Artist: Mount Kimbie
Song: Blood And Form (Live)
Album: Cold Spring Faultless Youth
Label: Warp Recordings

The video of the week features dolphins, subtitles and random teen-hipster incest. From Slava, this is "Girl Like Me".


War of Affection

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     My brother and I have yet to outgrow our sibling rivalry. After 19 years of tumultuous co-existence, arguing over such trivial things as which one of us drinks more tea is beginning to feel increasingly childish. One of our more recent disagreements involves the songs we have chosen to feature in our respective summer playlists. While there is noticeable overlap, it seems as though my brother’s is populated with his favorite tracks at present, as opposed to the summer soaked sounds that comprise my own. 

siblings

     Since summer is a season of partying, poolside lounging and short-lived romance, its soundtrack must be able to energize, relax and arouse. Although personal taste plays a huge role in communicating these feelings, there are sound parameters that can be manipulated to extract certain moods from a piece of music. In order to find the desired tracks, my focus was directed towards upbeat tunes with a warm groove and either a soft or bright timbre. Without further ado, here are a few of the tracks that are included in my summer playlist.

     I get a big surfing vibe from this song. At the 3-minute mark of “Talk Torque,” Paul Rose, better known as Scuba, breaks down his 2012 hit into a fit of white noise, soft piano synths and surprisingly calm vocals. The impressive portion of this tune begins when it builds itself back up and rides the wave created by the breakdown for a full 5 minutes. Obviously an uncommon placement for a track’s climax, this ballad relies heavily upon Scuba’s ability to combine banal sounds and succeeds in staving off repetitiveness with frequent hand claps, wind noises, something that sounds like storm clouds, short-lived synths and varying emphasis on all these elements.

Scuba – Talk Torque (Original Mix)

BeatportiTunes

Released through Hotflush Recordings on October 29th, 2012

Scuba - Talk Torque by Luffy

 

     As a huge fan of anything having to do with Eric Prydz, it was with jubilation that I welcomed the long-awaited 8th episode of his EPIC Radio podcast. Unfortunately, the hour of music did nothing but awaken my hunger for Prydz, and I proceeded to go through older episodes of his popular radio show in order to get my fix. It was at the 37-minute mark of EPIC Radio 3 that I fell upon this gem, his edit of Adrian Lux’s '”Teenage Crime.” Manipulating the song’s layers to perfection, Prydz begins by isolating and slowly growing the lead synth, giving it importance for it to better accompany the pulsating bassline that he introduces soon after. This high-energy combination leads beautifully to the breakdown, where an acoustic guitar plays alongside the vocals from the original mix, setting the stage for the arrival of an admittedly happy 4-note melody that becomes emboldened when Prydz fades all other clips at the very end of the tune.

Adrian Lux – Teenage Crime (Eric Prydz US 2012 Edit)

 

     What screams summer more than a track named “Sun?” Hailing from Denmark, Kenton Slash Demon’s rare productions are precisely what makes them so valuable. This deep house and disco medley from 2010 straddles the line between soft and bright so well that I’m uncertain whether to feel tenderness or happiness when listening to this fantastic piece of music. The bassline plays hero in this track, with vocal cuts, hard claps, wind sounds and sparse buzzing noises conglomerating to form an admirable accompaniment that succeeds in transmitting a wonderfully ambiguous feeling.

Kenton Slash Demon – Sun (Original Mix)

BeatportJuno Download

Released through Tartelet Records on August 2nd, 2010

SUN by Kenton Slash Demon

 

     “She’s up all night ‘til the sun, I’m up all night to get some. She’s up all night for good fun, I’m up all night to Get Lucky.” The lyrics do all the talking for me. Besides, after all the analysis I’ve read on Random Access Memories, I don’t think I can write something that hasn’t already been written.

Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams – Get Lucky (Original Mix)

BeatportiTunes

Released through Columbia Records on May 21st, 2013

 

     Before you press play on this next track, close your eyes and imagine yourself alone on a white sand beach in Maldives, staring far across a vast stretch of ocean. That’s the impression I get from this piece with my eyes open. Flavio Acaron and Z Boys surprise with an unusually active bassline that sometimes changes harmonic keys and occupies short spurts of syncopated beats. Like “Talk Torque,” this kick drum is wholly digital, yet somehow sounds quite nice next to what I perceive as real maracas. This song’s genius is in it’s rationing of bright sounds. Completely run on percussion and bass, the synths in “No Limitz” are extremely simple and appear for very short periods of time, reinforcing the mood of relaxation set by the main elements, as well as the soothing vocals.

Flavio Acaron & Z Boys – No Limitz (Original Mix)

BeatportiTunes

Released through Electronique Digital on June 30th, 2012

 

     Essentially Internet’s equivalent of Zooey Deschanel’s wardrobe, there is no online destination that better embodies hipster culture than Pitchfork. It is plausible then, that the idea for Fred Armisen’s “Portlandia” may have arisen from his bizarre fascination with the website. In this week’s video spotlight, watch a hilariously committed Armisen interview SNL co-star Andy Samberg’s comedy music trio “The Lonely Island.”

 

     Easily the most disappointing moment of 2013 thus far, Sasha’s cancellation of his Igloofest appearance was a truly awful way to begin the festival. His return to Montreal on Grand Prix weekend is sure to be a sound for sore ears, as he has made it clear via his social media pages that he intends on redeeming himself. With his fantastic releases from 2012, the emergence of his Last Night on Earth label and his latest mix compilation, Involv3r, this event receives the Hawt’s seal of approval. The show will take place on Friday night at Stereo Nightclub and is relatively inexpensive at $35 a ticket.

Click here for tickets

     Have a great Grand Prix weekend and don’t forget to come back next week for another batch of finds from the expansive world of electronic music!