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Posts Tagged ‘Ambient’

The Wetworks clears up that Government Air

Posted by Scotio on September 10, 2008

Recently, I was presented with music from an underground artist to review. Being that I do enjoy such occasions being thrown into my lap, I accepted the offer for the reviewing of the material. Oddly enough, it was music from a source that I recently learned of earlier this year. Apparently, it’s a really small world(even smaller online, I’ve noticed). With the opportunity to review the new music from The Wetworks, I rolled up my sleeves, turned up my headphones and let the music roll.

The Wetworks is best described as the American leg of the ever growing Dubstep subgenre of electronic music more than just a Drum & Bass act. If you’re not familiar with Dubstep music, but do find yourself enjoying good electronic music that ranges from slow and eerily ambient to reggae-inspired hip moving driven basslines then that is the music for you. Being that I’m not only a fan of said genre, but also, as I’ve already stated, a fan of The Wetworks, I was very comfortable with this album. The album is titled Government Air, which to most seems like it’s going to be filled with a bunch of politically charged music. But, such is not the case, here. For the track “Shift,” you won’t find any left or right wing propaganda lurking within the pulsating bass drops or the haunting synths that seem to call out to some dark side of yourself. Don’t think this is going to turn out to be some Teargas & Plateglass material. No sir. Once the drums kick in, you’re wondering if Prodigy and Burial made some sort of pact to team up under this moniker. The drum hits are fast enough to urge you call the cops to report broken speed limits. The funniest factor of the song for me kicks in when Wetworks pulls out the Street Fighet punch sound effect for the song. When I heard it, my mind instantly recognized it and I had the strangest feeling to perform a Hadouken fireball. The song is one second shy of hitting the 6 & 1/2 minute mark. The addition of sounds that gets thrown in is just mindboggling. Wetworks doesn’t seem to want to take anything out. Instead, the sound goes like G.W. Bush for oil territory(MORE!!! MORE!!!). What’s even more shocking is the fact that everything fits. At one point, there are so many musical tracks going off that it’s nearly impossible to sit there and count them all. But, as I said, they all fit into the song. That’s skill right there, folks.

The song “Thievery” houses the same soundbite that Mobb Deep used for their intro of the album Murda Muzik. Featuring Soundtype 23, the song jumps and gallops while a vocal looping ends up sounding like ancient druid chanting. There are a wide assortment of sound effects throughout the entire song. It seemed like the folks just went into a garage and used whatever they could find, recorded it hitting against things, and then looped it. To say that it’s awesome would be an understatement towards it. At one point, there is a looping of electronic sounds where it sounds like phazers, a teleporter, and other weird noises from an episode of Star Trek. If they are samples from such, then Trekkies are now something to fear in music . . . and not in a negative way.

On the track “Savior,” The Wetworks sounds strikingly similar to Shackleton of Skull Disco Dubstep music. That could be the use of African drums for the song. But, I will admit that the comparisons start to quickly evaporate around the 2 minute mark. The Wetworks works back into their soundbite clips, rapidfire drumming, and star hopping synth sounds. There is no staying in place for this music, here. It is across the board, but not in a dangerous and unforgiven sort of way. Around the 5:38 mark, you even hear horns included for the mix. It’s subtle and brief, but it’s a quick nod to the jazz roots of music, which birthed a lot of these fast attacks and intricate time signatures.

“Strange Powers,” the album closer, comes on like a rush of steam through a hollow pipe. And, I’m not using that as a simile. It really sounds like a rush of steam coming through a hollow pipe. It’s intelligent, but at some point it becomes a bit overbearing. And that could be because it’s primarily happening in the left channel of your speaker/headphone system. It’s quite distracting, especially in headphones. If there was ever a time where you wouldn’t mind the canceling of a sound in one of these songs, that would be the case. It’s a good introduction piece for the song, but past the introduction point it hogs up a lot of the listeners attention and makes them sort of ignore the other amazing parts that are going on within the song. “Alpha,” the album opener, comes on like an intergalactic air raid alarm sounding off. Though it is interesting and quite different, it’s a tad bit too far left field. Or, that could be due to the intro of the song lasting almost a minute long. In today’s ADHD world, most folks wouldn’t be able to sit through the whole thing to experience what comes after. And, oddly, after the intro, the song becomes very much so enjoyable and entertaining. I could say that it’s like the music that is played when the hero steps into the picture to save the day from the attack. It has that heroic and softly bold aura going on with it.

Being only eight (8) songs in length, you would think that it’s not that long. But, the album comes close to forty (40) minutes in length. Being that I had no expectations from the album except for the desire to listen to the entire album it allowed me to be completely open for what was to come. I do believe that The Wetworks should add in the label of “Dubstep” to the music. The genre fits the music like a tailor made shoe. Government Air is a wonderful album. Aside from the two missteps, it’s solid offering. Fans of Kode9, Teargas & Plateglass, and even Distance should give this album a spin. If you’re American, you might have found your Dubstep champion to hold up. Notable Tracks are: Shift, Thievery and Dracula.

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Even In The Arctic, You’ll Find A Friend In John

Posted by Scotio on August 27, 2008

Friend John, an unsigned artist that I’ve previously reviewed, has released another album. This one is titled Arctica (or You Just Have To Exist). The concept of the album is one set for the winter/Arctic type of season/situation. And, just like that concept, the album takes you on a journey of isolation, being lost, feeling cold, and possible danger. You have to respect FJ’s work ethos for churning out music at such a rate . . . even though the release is a compilation of tracks previously recorded and assembled together.

The opening track is one of the title cuts, “You Just Have To Exist.” The song is mainly just John and his out of tune acoustic guitar. With the guitar riff looping, John sings the words “You just have to be there/ You just have to exist…” as if he’s either fighting a dazed slumber or undergoing a spell of delirium. With an electronic sound going on in the mixture that I could best relate it to as a Robot’s Kazoo. Originally, I was a little put off when I first heard the song. It wasn’t until I remember the concept of the album that I began to understand and get into the song. It’s similar to being out in the Arctic with no one around and you’re terribly missing the one you love most. In that mindframe, you can feel and understand the longing and the slight mental breakdown that this song embodies. The following track, “Portland,” builds on that concept. As John belts out “Woohoo Yeah Yeah!” throughout most of the song, you get the feeling that he’s really losing, or became drunk as hell. Further living out the loneliness that takes place in a Winter Hazardland. Whichever Portland that the song is labeled after, I definitely wouldn’t want to get lost at that place.

On the track “Kincajou”(say that 10 times fast!), FJ brings out the funk. Housing a bassline strong enough to make a Down South rap fan grin with glee. The song features an odd combination of horror movie synths, an acoustic guitar and the aforementioned bassline for the first minute and forty-one seconds of the song. After that point, the drums attack faster, as well as the addition of congos. The other parts of the guitar riff are also revealed around this part of the song. The synths are removed for the middle portion of the song, but returns for the final quarter of the track. As strange as it might sound to most, this is definitely one of my favorite tracks on this release.

“Arctica,” the other title track(originally called Ingrid Chiles), is a lengthy one. Clocking in at 10 minutes and 6 seconds, you might be a little put for the listen. If such is the case, then you’re missing one of the most beautiful tracks of the whole album. It grows progressively throughout the entire length, adding and taking away elements to keep you stuck in a state of isolation. The introduction of the song can be closely related to hearing an intergalactic visitor phoning home. Even if you’re listening to this song in a crowded room with someone rubbing elbows with you, you’ll feel like the closest person to you is over 100 miles away. He uses both live instruments and computer music to create something so magical from somewhere that most of us would be afraid to dwell towards. If there’s a track that you should listen to just to think and be alone with your thoughts, Friend John has created such a thing for you.

For the song “Spiraling Down,” FJ brings about a very accurate sense of completely losing everything. I haven’t heard such a strong depiction of that emotion since Trent Reznor’s The Downward Spiral. This is the type of song that I imagine would be playing while Jack wrote on his typewriter in The Shining(All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy). “A Glance Through Open Eyes” is a somewhat hopeful track. The more uptempo James Tamborello-inspired mastery of the electronic/computer created music along the lines of something featured on Something Always Goes Wrong. Friend John demonstrates what he could do if he completely dived into the Glitch/IDM field without any restraints. A few setbacks are like the tracks “October,” “Space” and “Explosions.” The former of the tracks just seems a little too organic for this collection of songs. The last two tracks just seem too upbeat and, in the case of “Explosions,” cluttered to play nicely with the other songs here.

Again, Friend John is a newer field for this artist. And, Arctic shows a more ambient side to his persona. Just as Version For Maddie displayed the promise of what he is capable of doing in the more Glitch side of music, Arctic demonstrates his hunger to swim in the waters of Ambience with enough passion that you believe he could battle a Navy SEAL with enough practice. Notable Tracks are “Spiraling Down,” “A Glance Through Open Eyes,” and “Kincajou.”

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Puscifer’s Viagra Enhances Vagina

Posted by Scotio on April 30, 2008

Yes, the title of this remix album, “V” Is For Viagra, is as outrageous as the title of the original was for those who are my “straight and narrow.” But, this album, nor the original, was created for those types of people. Maynard James Keenan of Tool & A Perfect Circle fame created his own little personal outlet through Puscifer. Offering up some insane music as well as some pretty groovy threads for you, your lover, and even your animal companion. This album features redone tracks by contributors to the original album, as well as other’s who weren’t included in Vagina’s creation. Since the eager release of “V” Is For Vagina, MJK has been sitting cool without the houndings of the demands from a major label. Yes, he self-released the album, as he has done again with this little remixed gem. Viagra opens up with one of the smoothest remixes I’ve heard in a long, long time. Half of the New Orleans-originated/Chicago-based Electronic act Telefon Tel Aviv, Josh Eustis, conjures up pure experimental bliss with his JLE Dub take on the song “Indigo Children.” With the lush layered ambience sitting underneath earth-splitting bass, the song just takes on new breath. The Dirty Robot Mix of “Country Boner” by Mat Mitchell & Contradicktator(aka Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens Of The Stone Age, A Perfect Circle, Failure & Enemy fame) is a serious stand-out track. Sounding absolutely NOTHING like the original song, the duo of remixers teamed up to make a very dance-heavy Synth-Pop/Industrial track from the spoof country song. Using the line “It won’t go down on me” as the chorus, it leaves it open to add in extra thoughts of “going down” . . . if you know what I mean. MJK and Lustmord must have created a very strong relationship as Lustmord remixes 2 of the songs, as well as has a speaking role on the album on PSR, LOL!. Lust’s Desert Porn Mix of “Trekka” closer resembles his normal sound than his Guns For Hire Mix of “DoZo.” “Drunk With Power”‘s Hungover & Hostile In Hannover Mix by Joey Jordison(aka Member #1 of Slipknot, Murderdolls & KoRn fame) is a more disturbing take on a song about a Pimp named Pooh Bear missing his girl named Hunny. Featuring samples of feet marching, and sounds that bring to mind a sort of dim-lit torture chamber, the song just grabs at your more obsessively dark regions of mourning for a lost love. The Deflowering Mix of “Vagina Mine” by Paul Barker(of Ministry fame) sounds more like a song from Barker’s former band than it does something of traditional MJK flare. Even equipping the song with sound-bites and a steady tribal-trance drumtrack, you’re waiting for Uncle Al to hop on the song and make it a duet. Danny Lohner(of Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle & Black Light Burns fame) cooks up a Late For Dinner mix of the satirical track “Sour Grapes.” Housing piano riff similar to the band where he mainly got his industry start(NIN), Lohner opts to sing on the latter half of the track, as well. Belting out “You know it’s going to be sour grapes for you boy, until you get right with Jesus,” Having Maynard’s original vocals providing backup in the background. This is one of the most stand-out remix albums that I’ve ever come across. Done very well to the point of the some of the songs sounding like they hold little-to-no connection to their Vagina companions . . . aside from the lyrics, of course. Fans of MJK’s main and secondary bands might have tiffed over Puscifer’s first full-length, but after listening to it multiple times, they’ve come over to let the mad genius have his fun. With this album, he lets others have their fun with it, and hopefully it won’t take fans as long to warm-up to this masterful remix collection.

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