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PSY/OPSogist Brings You To The Sleep Kingdom

Posted by Scotio on July 9, 2009

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What can I say about PSY/OPSogist? I mean, he was the first unsigned artist that I reviewed. So, of course his music holds a special place for me. So, to find out that he has released a new album, of course I have to review it. It’s not a question that should even be asked. Kings Of Sleep is the title of his new work. Little did I know, that the work was very conceptualized around the title itself. You have to love concept albums done well, right?

The aptly named “K.O.S. Intro” features various movie soundbites that which talk on the topic of sleep in different perspectives starting with Hypnosis. While the soundbites play, you’re treated to a slow tribal-like musical backdrop that takes you to a dreamy state of the ancient Middle East. The intro flows perfectly into the first full song,”King Of Infinit Space.” That track possesses such a strong sense of IDM/Downtempo brilliance that it’s hard not to compare it to the likes of master knobtwisters Boards Of Canada. Which, in itself is amazing in my book. But, the fact that it was broken into pieces and the pieces reassembled by one man speaks in volumes that has yet to register on any stereo to date. With the drumbeat and the distorted guitar parts playing, you can hear their disconnection with sounding whole, yet that makes it all the more together.

To believe that the whole album would play like some strange attempt at creating a “missing BOC album” would leave you feeling the fool. PSY is more at work this time around, because, remember kiddies, sleeping isn’t a playful situation. What he does do with the precision of someone whom is Obsessive compulsive is have every song bridge into the next. Leaving no room for you feel the need to skip to the next track.

“Chariots Of The Gods” is very badass. The song would be the perfect musical score backdrop for a grand robbery scene. It houses elements of music that you’d find in spaghetti westerns, old school mob movies as well as 70’s high speed car chasing films. Sprinkling in small digital beacons to remind you that you’re not trapped inside of a Tinsel Town Time Machine. The rumbling bass guitar in the song would have any Pulp Fiction fan pulling out the Batman dance. The heavy attack of drums and cymbals that creates an illusion of gunfire is just sensational. If the Gods really bring this sort of noise when they roll through town, it would have all the people staring in awe for the music more than the sight.

On “Unusual Behavior” PSY takes things back to a more Jazz-Influenced Hip-Hop era. Of sorts. Imagine like a completely amped up version of an old A Tribe Called Quest song. I’m speaking on the vibe of the song. The song itself houses far more from Old Jazz and Blues tracks. The drums harken on old black juke joints where everyone really used to “get down with the getting down.” The distorted horns call out more as a sign of distress than a good time happening. Hmm… I guess this would be more Big Band-ish than Hip-Hop, though. Especially when considering the proceeding track, “The Lips Of God.” This song encompasses the complete structure for a sentimental/heartfelt/honest Hip-Hop track. It even has a strained vinyl sound to it. Giving it more of a Golden Era Hip-Hop appeal. The sickest part of the song kicks in around 2:12. PSY/OPSogist pulls out his inner Jay Dilla and basically dares any real emcee to NOT freestyle over it. But, the breakdown only lasts until around 2:39. Short, sweet and to the point, right?

The only flaw that I can actually find in this work would have to be the Untitled hidden track at the end. It’s a long stretch of one of those the sound of rain sleeping aids with sleep-like voices growing in clarity and volume as the song proceeds. It tends to drag on a bit too long. I get the point of it, I love the idea behind it. It’s just stretched too long. A track I absolutely love on this is “Travelers.” The guitars in the song just hold my attention and keeps me at the ready as if something is going to happen at any minute. The wavering machinegun snare hit sounds like a helicopter just teasing your ears for the first portion of the song. The steady ambient sound inside of the song gives it a cold and sterile feeling, where the guitars battle that with their organic beauty(they are acoustics). The soundbites are very well placed and enhances the overall sense of a dream going very wrong.

With Kings Of Sleep, PSY/OPSogist has proven that he is definitely a musician to be reckoned with. The album flows in and out of multiple musical fields. So much so that it’s hard to classify it as anything save for “Lo-Fi Electronic”(Though he personally chose the label of Atmospheric Headphone Music or AHM for short). Otherwise, you’d be there all day adding in labels to this work. It was well thought out, exceptionally executed and has a place for anyone into really dope music. Not to mention, he’s offering it for free as well as a special collector’s edition of only 100 CDs printed. I suggest you grab a piece of history made, and hold onto it for bragging rights. This visionary is going places.

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Little Boots Gives A Hands On Approach

Posted by Scotio on June 10, 2009

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Ever since the Revoluntionary War, there’s been a steady battle between US & Britain. Over time, it has softened dramatically from that bloody war(take that whichever way you want) to Global Capitalizing. Outside of politics, there’s been the steady tit for tat going on in the music scene between the two “World Powers”. Though they don’t necessarily diss each other, they do fight it out like rabid animals at the top of the music charts. When one act on one side of the pond takes off, the other is ready with a bullet of it’s own. Lady Gaga is currently the “it” girl in Pop music. She’s what the US has to offer. Now, meet competitor #1 from the UK. Her name is Little Boots(née Victoria Hesketh), and she has the artillery to sink Gaga’s ship down to the deepest depths of the sea in the form of her debut album Hands.

“New In Town” is the official lead single for the album, as well as the album opener. Is this a new trend? A brilliant strategy or an odd coincidence? I’m asking about having your leading single open up the album. That seems to be the thing for a lot of new pop albums coming out this year. But, I stray. The song, produced and co-written by Greg Kurstin of The Bird And The Bee, is a happy track. The premise behind the song is “You’re new in town, I’m broke, but we’re going to rock it out anyway.” We should all wish to be able to do such a thing when visiting a new location. The music is a departure from anyone strongly familiar with Bird And Bee(think more electro-pop version of their work). This song is a perfect greeter to all those infamiliar with Ms. Boots. It shows that she’s in it for the fun ride. Nothing overly complicated is shown here. Just a pure fun and early 90’s Electronic-based Pop tune. It might not register in your mind 5 years down the road, but it will get a party started… especially if you’re in the valley. Ok, Boots, you seemed to have taken the more danceable route for this first round.

Kurstin is on this album for most of the longhaul. He helps co-write the track “Stuck On Repeat,” which is produced by Hot chip’s Joe Goddard(who also co-writes the track, along with Little Boots). This track feels like a spiritual successor to Hot Chip’s last album. The beat is infectious and Boots’s vocal work is in the right zone for this type of sound. It won’t be hard to picture a bunch of girls in a convertible blasting this song until you bang your head against something hard, or featured on all the mixtapes/playlists of dance-music DJs. It’s that kind of catchy. It’s that strong on the commercial meter. You’d be prone to discard the song as rubbish until you listen to what it is completely composed of. Goddard displays his wizardry within the realm of synth music. It’s a very driven beat, and it drives you to feel like the lyrics of the song: “I can only move to the beat.” Drats, Boots! You’re in a three-way tag team with some actually TALENTED artists. This isn’t looking fair.

The trio team up again for “Meddle”. Meddle was commercially released as a single last August(of 2008), but I’m sure a lot of people still never heard the song. Goddard, with some production assistance from Kurstin, delivers Pop’s version of a Dubstep beat. To deny the influence of Dubstep on this song would be denying the fact that R. Kelly stopped actually SINGING a long time ago. Yeah, it’s that obvious. With what sounds like a combination of handclaps, fingersnaps, and digital claps the song keeps it’s pace and an underlining tempo that propels you to keep moving even when most of the beat disappears. Think of it as a song from a Musical Movie for Teens that is actually GOOD. Go ahead, wrap your head around that one. “Symmetry” featuring Philip Oakley(of The Human League fame) speaks about being the opposite/reflection of the person you’re romantically linked with. Mr. Oakley is obviously no novice when it comes to Synth-Pop. He comes in, with that scary-yet-uber-cool British singing style. You know the kind that dominated airwaves throughout the 80’s. The strangeness of it, is that with Philip’s addition to the track, you can almost envision the god-awful 1980’s video that would have been on repeat for MTV had this song came out 20-some-odd years ago. Oh, Boots, with your tricky Nostalgia Pop trick shot.

There are a few halfsteps featured here, though. Such as the track “Ghosts.” It’s a half-step, not a misstep. It sticks too strongly to that whole cabaret style in a digital format. That would heavily alienate the easy targets that this album is supposed to be aiming at. Though, this is one of the more lyrically appealing songs on the album, you can’t give the sheeple too much material to think with. Still, the pop enjoyers outside of the herd would probably take to this with ease. “Remedy” is another misstep. The song starts off with a dark synth sound that creeps up on it’s listeners. Then, just when the more sinister lovers start to rejoice as they have found a pop song of their own within this release, the chorus comes in. It pops the building bubble with an older Christina Aguilera sound. You can’t have both sides of that pie, darling. That puts you on eye leave with your enemy that you are dancing with(Lady Gaga). “No Brakes” makes up for these missteps as she displays the full force of the sound that Gaga TRIES to emulate. Hersketh’s voice sails like a sheet in the wind while the beat runs like a kid playing the track & field game with the power pad for the old 8-bit Nintendo. What would bring a slight pause for the Yanks would be when Boots stops singing and talks normally. Reminding them that she is, in fact, British.

After this entry into the tournament of Billboard charts, it’s clear to see that this former lead singer of the Dead Disco group known as Little Boots is far more equipped than Gaga was/is. Not to mention that La Roux is set to drop later this month to put the nail in that coffin and have the Brits come out with the win of Female Pop Acts for 2009. With no retaliation geared from the US branch, it sure does seem to be moving in that direction.

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Miike Snow Lights A Frozen Flame

Posted by Scotio on June 10, 2009

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Pop music seems to be making a serious comeback. With MGMT’s mega impact last year, it seems that these Pop Music Makers have been coming out of the woodworks like bugs after someone stomps on a rotting log(don’t act like I was the only one to do that as a child). Bringing their own coolness to the Pop genre with their Self-Titled LP is the trio known as Miike Snow. Yes, that’s a trio with a name that sounds like it belongs to a singular person. And, yes, that’s not a typo. There are 2 I’s in the first name(actually they are sort-of named after the Japanese director Takashi Miike). The trio consists of multi-instrumentalists Andrew Wyatt(of The A.M. & Fires Of Rome fame) and Christian Karlsson & Pontus Winnberg, also known as the Pop Producing duo Bloodshy & Avant. Of course hearing that Bloodshy & Avant are in the group would lead many to believe it’s filled with a bunch of Britney Spears rejected tracks. Oh, that is so not the case here.

Since “Animal” is the main single from the album, let’s start with that track, shall we? Oh, and not only is it their lead single, but also the leading/opening track for their LP. For the track, Wyatt sings like the adopted member of the band Genesis. Housing his vocal harmony somewhere between Phil Collins & Peter Gabriel(some may say a more “mature” Adam Levine sounding voice, to them I say “shut up”). To say the least, it’s eerily hypnotic. But, that’s not all that’s mesmerizing about this song. The trio constructed a back beat that plays like a Dub-influenced version of Dance-Punk(LCD Soundsystem, The Presets, Fujiya & Miyagi… to name a few artists of that genre). It’s hard not to sway your head side-to-side with this track pumping in your ears. Even if the lyrics doesn’t fully make sense(which seems to be a motif with this album) you still find yourself singing, or humming, along with the track. Suffice to say, their history of catchy pop tracks plays to their advantage here.

“In Search Of” is like a track that Nu-Ravers have been waiting all their lives for. Think of something along the lines of Hadouken!, but much better and more mature. There is no attack for people to be thrown around within the song, but there is a strong urgency to take to the dance floor and show off your glowstick movements under the strobe blacklights. This track contains no live instrumentation. Instead, it’s just pulse-setting synth work unleashed in it’s most impeccable form. With something as incredible as this finally revealed, you know that B&A will be getting hounded with questions from their Producees(it’s a word… even if it only exists in my world) asking why the hell have they been holding out on them. But, those bubblegum artists shouldn’t get too uptight. They would have never pulled that track off as sensationally as this trio does.

Oh, and since I did mention video game sounding music(Hadouken!, for those not keeping up), allow me to expand on that with the track “Cult Logic”. This track comes in like a super(pun intended) remix of the Super Mario theme song. If Nintendo is trying to stay in the area of “cool”, they would be wise to throw this track in their next Mario installment. Trust me, Big N, it will definitely pay off for you. To say that Mr. Wyatt hasn’t spent time with some folks of the Caribbean would HAVE to be a lie after listening to his vocal work on this piece. His melody, tone & pitch sounds like something you would expect Maxi Priest to express if he was still relevant today. This track is so well layered that just when you start to dissect the structure, you realize that you’re still only on the crust. They bring in and take out parts so fluidly that, though you notice it, you still perceive it as one cohesive image.

My personal standout track is “Silvia.” It could be how easily I can replace the name Silvia with the name of the one I hold dear, but I don’t think it’s that simple. For the first 1 minute and 10 seconds, you’re treated to a bare beat digital piano and dance synth accompanied by Wyatt’s voice slightly digitally altered(no, not Autotune. This is another type of digital filter applied to his voice). Then, after that time mark hits, in comes the rest of the beat. And, boy, does things shift. It goes from a slow and passionate tune to a pop love anthem, complete with cadence keeping snare hits. No, the track doesn’t stop there. More pieces are added in and built upon as the track continues down it’s 6 minute and 26 second mark(which makes it the longest track on the album). One sexy portion of the track is when the bridge comes in, and they move the music back to how it sounded at the start of the song. Only to, then, bring it in House music fashion so smoothly that it would make Benny Benassi blush with envy. They run Andrew’s voice through digital pitch changes from then to near the end of the track. Changing his voice to the point where it sounds like yet another synth to the music. “San Soleil” is one of the sexiest tracks I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s like a combination of Art Of Noise’s Moments in Love, the piano from Force M.D.’s Tender Love, Wyatt’s digitally filtered voice and an IDM synth. Yeah, it’s not very hard to see that they were inspired by old school R&B pop tunes for this one, here. Like all the other tracks, this one was executed remarkably. This is the track during and after a sensual session with a significant other. Don’t be surprised if some genius(and, I use that term loosely here) uses this track for such a moment in cinema.

It’s hard to deal with perfection. Equally as much when in opposition of and working with. But, there are moments when perfection is, well, perfect. It flows perfectly, it moves perfectly and it delivers perfectly. That’s what this album is. It’s pure Pop Music Perfection. Yeah, you heard that right. I said it, and I stand by it. It would be easy to declare this group this year’s MGMT, but that wouldn’t be fair. These three have had years toiling away at pop creations inside of the industry. They know what works and what doesn’t. With that, they used all of their knowledge and made sure that THIS works in every sense. It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to make you dance. Just be ready for the domination of Snow during the summer of 2009. They got the cool, and they aren’t going to make you chill.

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The Spores Make Doom Popular

Posted by Scotio on March 2, 2009

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When you hear the words Doom & Pop put together for an album title, you don’t quite know exactly what to expect. The Spores released an album with just that name Doom Pop. It’s not something that you hear everyday. Your mind gets slightly confused at such a combination. Everything from Metal with Britney Spears lyrics to Timbaland music with Death Growls featured over top run through your mind. Yet, The Spores didn’t do any of that. What they did do was create an album that embodies everything(damn near literally) that folks of mainstream media loved in the mid to late 90’s. Every song, they seem to replicate the same magic of bands from “Generation NeXt.”

“Ghost Town” finds the LA-based threesome giving us some awesome Pop Alternative that has been missing from the scene since Garbage went AWOL. Molly McGuire voice goes into Shirley Manson mode even better than Ms. Manson did on Garbage’s last LP. Greg Biribauer’s guitar work on this song would make Butch Vig blush. Chris Penny’s drum work is spot on for Pop Rock of the last decade. It keeps your foot tapping and your head swaying. McGuire herself brings the bass on with such sass that it’s impossible to not imagine the woman wearing that “I own you” face. The cat & mouse game of two people wanting(or, just lusting) each other is told on this track. Never able to match each other, the two parties are forced to contradict one another. It’s a great track.

Completely switching gears, the band’s song “That’s My Name,” gives one of the best NIN emulations that I’ve ever heard. But, the thing is, it’s not a NIN cover. No, not at all. It’s a track owned completely by The Spores(no, Reznor doesn’t even know this song exist, folks). Yet, the attention to detail and the all out ballsy display of Alternative Industrial will have you scratching your head on this one. Not for being lost, but for feeling like you know it already. Familiarity, in this case, is a damned good thing. You’re instantly drawn in like you’re greeting an old friend that you enjoyed spending time with. McGuire, Biribauer & Penny go strong for this track. The breakdowns are top-notch. Molly doesn’t ever yell or scream on the song. Instead, she plays it smart like Free Dominguez of Kidneythieves. She keeps her voice strong and steady. Letting the lyrics & the music get the attention that they deserve(even though the first & second verses are exactly the same). Greg takes on the role of Robin Finck, and does a flooring performance. Penny seems to be the Dave Grohl from With Teeth sessions. To say that this song is my favorite track on this album would be an understatement. This is my favorite track not only from this LP, but my official track of the month. If this three piece decided to go completely industrial(which from this display shows that they could with great ease), this song could have done for them what Closer did for Nine Inch Nails. Yes, it’s that powerful. At least I feel so . . . “In My Head.”

“Secret Weapon” comes on with a deceptive electronic intro. The collusion of sounds that follows after takes you like a storm. This track sounds like something missing from the Spawn OST for the live action movie(the soundtrack was kickass, and you know it!). With electronic alterations lacing nearly every instrument involved in this recording, you don’t know where to classify this. Still, you know that if 90’s MTV got their hands on this, it would be in heavy rotation on their video line-up. This is best suited as a sort of poppier companion to Filter+The Crystal Method’s (Can’t You) Trip Like I Do. Yes, The Spores can trip . . . like you do.

To show that they aren’t all about explicit electronic usage, “Do The Void” comes in with a Jimmy Eat World(circa Clarity/Bleed American) vibe. It’s that Pop Alternative with Punk Influences that was formerly known as “Emo”(which was before it was redubbed in ’05, kiddies). Even the lyrics encompasses the same mentality of that era: “Never should have ever thought of nothing at all.” That displays the whole “ehhh . . . so what” attitude that started then and still lives on to this day.

When they move over to the sexual side of electronic, they unleash “Shadyglade.” They pull off something similar to old school Tricky/Massive Attack . . . or, to a less popular extent, Lamb with this song. Biribauer’s mini solo after the choruses has an intoxicating exotic flare that makes the song that much more memorable. The track is almost entirely electronic save for a very small number of elements. It’s as seductive as it is digital. “The Spinning Wheel” is the complete opposite of this. It’s the Yin to Shadyglade’s Yang. Pulling out the acoustic guitar, the song is equally as intimate, but on a completely different level. A tale of love for someone who is trying to let go of yester-longing, only to find out that it’s still haunting. This is for all the Jewel & Fiona Apple fans.

This album has everything anyone who loved watching MTV before running off to school would adore. This plays like a sensational mixtape of various styles and acts . . . yet, it’s all from one band. And, mainly the work of just Molly & Greg outside of drumming, at that. The comparisons of the other bands are FAR from anything to be given as disrespect to the bands or towards The Spores. Doom Pop, as it seems, isn’t anything new . . . but rather something cool that is lost today. What does hurt is the fact that the band has split . . . or is just on hiatus. Hopefully, they’ll work out their differences and continue to bring their awesomeness to the world. The album is heavily underappreciated for what it does, and what it could do. With just one slip of major play, McGuire & Biribauer could have(and still can) end up resurrectors to an era recently passed but so wrongly deceased.

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Telefon Tel Aviv Gives Good Reason For You To Immolate Yourself

Posted by Scotio on January 27, 2009

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This will actually be my first post in 2009. Crazy. And, I guess for my readers, I’m sorry I left you guys off for so long. Life is a crazy battle, man. Especially in these days and times . . . and in this sad economy. But, with the statement of life, it’s with a heavy heart that I write this review. That’s because it’s from my favorite Electronic group: Telefon Tel Aviv. And this afternoon I heard about the passing of Charlie Cooper. No, this isn’t some pity party review or anything of the sort. Sadly, I was planning on writing this and some other reviews and dropping them all this weekend. But, after learning of the passing, I felt obligated to start what I feel about their new record Immolate Yourself. So, please, take a moment with me as I journey through some of Charlie Cooper’s great, yet short, musical legacy.

The album opens up with the track “Birds.” Instantly, the listeners is treated to some Synth-Pop sounds. No, you read that right. Ttv has switched up their sound to a more dance welcoming one. Those of you whom are fans of this duo are probably shocked at this point. Me, oddly, I wasn’t. They’ve never been ones to settle for the cheap tricks and safe play. This song full of volume and layers, amazing execution and a pop sensibility that is shocking for the duo. It seems that it’s a good thing for them to encourage their fans to do more than just ponder the day, as they did with their first effort and half of their second. No, I can’t tell you the basis for them naming this track, but I can tell you that you will feel that you’ve taken flight towards somewhere new with some familiar friends when hearing this tune.

On the follow up song, “Your Mouth,” it comes on like a B-Side to Thom Yorke’s solo material. And, sonically, it’s not too far from it . . . originally. When the beat picks up, it goes into a sonic landscape that I haven’t beared witness towards since Moments In Love by Art of Noise. The vocals are digitized and “float” from above to below the sound of the music itself. Thus, making it more than just words to accompany the music, but even confusing the listener into believing that they aren’t vocals at some points. It’s like taking a peek inside of someone’s dream, but with your eyes closed and headphones on. It’s an awesome piece of music, and you’d be stone to not feel some type of movement from it. Be it physically or emotionally.

One of the most beautiful songs is “I Made A Tree On The World Wold.” No, it’s not a typo on my part. They spell the word “WOLD.” I, honestly, didn’t even know that wold was a word until stumbling upon this song. With the analog styled recording process, the song has a certain slight grain to it that seems to add quality to it than it does take away from it. The sound is serene and beautiful. My feelings of listening to this song is that of being in water and a wave washing over me. This track is closest to something that you’d almost expect from Boards of Canada. Eustis & Cooper seemed to have wanted more from themselves on this record, and wasn’t overly focusing on the “micro” as Josh put it. They were more in the moment, it feels. And, when you hear the song, whatever moment you’re experiencing will be THE moment.

“Stay Away From Being Maybe” should be featured in the supposed Footloose remake. It has all the qualities of a decent dance record, but also carries with it an air of innocence and freedom. It’s an exhilarating presence embedded into the melody and composure of the track. You can’t help but be undertaken by it’s Joie de Vivre aural message that it begins to sneak into your mind. The layers are almost contradicting of themselves, yet, for some reason, they all seem to work together dynamically.

Now, allow me to talk about my favorite track on this ten song epic journey. It’s simply just one letter: “M.” It comes in with an almost omniscent atmospheric presence. Then, after some heavily airy echoed vocals, the 808 sounding stomps make their moment known. The track itself, flips in and out of being an anthem for something larger than life, and a break dancer/pop locker’s wet dream. Having hard hits and perfectly structured digital glitches, it’s hard not to pull out your dancing shoes and begin moonwalking to the club on this one. With the repetitive “All I can see, All I can see, All I can see” chanting, you start to believe that what they are seeing is you killing it on the dancefloor.

With every track just as awesome as the one before it, it’s hard to find a problem with this release. In fact, I haven’t found one. I fell in love with this album upon the first listen, and even after the 39th listen, I love it just the same . . . if not more. I could go on about every single song on this record, including their lead single “Helen Of Troy.” With my newfound love for wanting Vinyl albums, I can only hope to obtain this masterpiece on Vinyl. I’d love to place it on a turntable and spend a full adventure with it. I feel the analog recording will only play a deeper role in the album’s enjoyment on that format. It’s almost depressing to know that Charlie Cooper isn’t with us anymore to team up with Joshua Eustis and bless us with great music. At 31 years of age, he was still a young man with a strong future of music ahead of him. Now, we’ll have to hold fast to what he did give, and hope that Josh carries the torch in honor of him. I always thought that they were both equally impressive individually, and their combination made for something that you’d only dare to dream for. I loved Ttv ever since I first heard Fahrenheit Far Enough, and adored Map Of What Is Effortless(though people have had their qualms with that release). I’ve talked about them to everyone I know, and even forced their music upon my misses(whom, I will say loved them, as well) and my musically explorative friends. As well as spoke of their wondrous music across many musical forums via the interweb. Please, I implore you, if you haven’t listened to them, do so. Not just for the fact of Cooper’s passing, but for the fact that their music is as good as I’ve pedestaled it to be. I do ask of you to allow your mind to remain open as you venture up(and hopefully back down) their discography.

R.I.P. Charles W. Cooper, III

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Panda Steps In Chocolate And Falls Into The Future

Posted by Scotio on October 17, 2008

Hearing(or reading) the term “Panda Steps In Chocolate” usually leads one to think of a word that starts with P and rhymes with “Boo.” What you won’t think of is something dealing with music. Well, that’s exactly what it is. PSIC is a musical outlet for the young Christian M. Filardo. And, this review is about the EP titled Papers from this youngster made in his basement in Arizona.

Being that it’s under eighteen (18) minutes long, it’s not like you’ll have to strap yourself in and get ready for a lengthy journey. Housing only seven (7) tracks shows that most of these tracks rest easily under the three (3) minute mark. “Rainbows” would have to be the best track of the EP. It’s not that it’s full of layering or intricate and elaborate details. It’s not that the lyrics attack at key parts that pulls at certain strings inside of you. What it is is a simple, silly and playful tune. It’s free of any congested emotions or any required heavy thinking. With Christian whispering along to himself sing the line “Rainbows come from my eyes” repeatedly, it adds to the airy sensation of just being. It’s done catchy enough for it to get stuck in your head and piss off your classmates, co-workers or loved ones with the reiteration of the lyrics.

On “The Plane Flew By,” I can’t help but get the feeling of Tom DeLonge’s silly lyrics when he was in Blink-182 when Christian is singing on the track. The tone is similar, also. Not EXACT, but similar. The thing about this track is it’s hidden potential. With some guitar work and additional instrumentation/layering, there’s a chance that you’d end up hearing this played on you local pop rock station. Easily, out of all the songs, this one holds the title as the one that can become something dynamic when retooled and added upon.

There are a few missteps on the EP, though. The song “Cap-A-Pie” tends to run like a children’s electronic toy keyboard from the early 90’s musically. It’s understandable that the release isn’t supposed to be something superly serious. You learn that just from seeing the moniker of the release. Still, you’d want him to just explore a little more into the playfulness or, even, spend a bit more consideration for the structuring of the musical portion of the release. Another step that he stutters on is the opening song “Costume.” The loss comes in for the fact that it’s a tad hard to distinguish what he’s saying when he’s talking. I understand the dramatic echoed voice effect, but his words end up getting lost in a blender of noise and singing vocals. The song “Sign Language” teeters, for me. I enjoy the lyrics, and the dramatic building, but I just kept urging him to go a little bit further with sound creativity. He has it in him, and I just want him to go the distance and let it out. If it makes a mess, then clean up the mess afterwards.

“Porcupine” has perhaps the best drum track of all the songs. The simple Indie Rock drumming keeps your head nodding well enough. The synth bass is a bit too loud and drowns out some of the other portions of the song. Turning that down would’ve greatly improved the song, but it’s still a nice song. In truth, the thing that pulls me into the song the most is the weird noise that sounds somewhere between a crystal glass being tapped and a bicycle bell being rung chiming along throughout the beat.

All in all, being only 17 years old, Mr. Filardo has a lot of room to grow and explore. Being that he does have such tremendous potential, you can only expect him to grow from here. Surely, if he does continue his musical endeavors, you’ll definitely be hearing this guy’s name being chirpered around in musical conversations a few years down the line. Be it under this moniker, a new one, or even in a full own band.

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Ki:Theory Snaps Hearts Like Brittle Branches

Posted by Scotio on September 28, 2008

As most know, I’m a fan of many different genres of music. I can’t call any particular genre my favorite, because each one holds a special point and placement in how I view music in an overall fashion. One thing I do always love is experimentation. Experimental music is usually music that falls into the realm as uneasy to classify in one category. Ki:Theory’s music is just that(Pronounced “Key” like in Kilo). His debut EP Brittle Branches isn’t all over the place, but it houses a wide array of various genre sounds to the point where you can’t quite call it anyone one thing(Note: Ki:Theory was originally a Post-Grunge band who released a self-titled LP. The band disbanded, but lives on through one member whom dramatically changed the sound to what it is now).

I first came across Ki:Theory while looking over the musical discography of UNKLE(or traditional typeset as U.N.K.L.E.). I noticed a remix from the act, and was curious to take a peek at it. I ventured towards the myspace of the act, and was pleasantly surprised at the remix to the point that I was curious of the original music that was featured there. Sadly, the first song I heard on there was “Holiday Heart.”  Now, don’t get me mistaken, I’m not saying sadly because the song sucked. Quite the contrary, it was so good that I played the song three times on the myspace player. Which, in itself, is a great feat. From the keyboard intro that sounded like it should belong to some little kid, I was hooked. Then, the distorted vocals kicked in. At that point, I was addicted. By the time the chorus kicked in, I was salivating from my new addiction. From the childish electric organ sound on the keyboard, to the sporatic handclaps, to the constant rapid strumming of the guitar . . . I can do this all day, people. The song is just marvelous. Perhaps the most soul stirring moment of the song is when the chorus of voices come in. Seemingly composed of one woman’s vocals recorded multiple times to give it a child-like quality. The drum track is as funky as drums that would be featured on the legendary rap group The Roots. It’s hard not to get bothered after hearing this song. Bothered that more people haven’t even heard of this guy. But, with his remixes of Queens Of The Stone Age, the aforementioned UNKLE, Sasha, and his new remix of Ladytron floating around, I’m sure the buzz of him should be growing more and more each day.

The opening song of the EP “Kiss With Fists,” is a very appropriate way of opening up an album. The song starts off rather simple and delightful, even though the lyrics of the song are on the lonely side of the tracks. Housing a Hip-Hop drum pattern, the song has a great vibe to it musically. The addition of the musicbox sound, with the rumblings of a bass guitar, make for a magical moment with the song. By the time the song gets to the part where Ki repeats the line “I just thought you should know,” you should be too far in to even want out. Something that I found pleasantly interesting is that some music tracks from this song are featured on his personal website on the little mechanical bird, allowing you to play around with starting and stopping the drums, music box, and synth portions of the song.

On the song “Lately,” you’re treated to a beautiful confession that Ki gives to his woman. You almost have to be thankful for brilliant musicians being trapped in some type of emotional turmoil and their knack for releasing/relieving their stress through music. In one form or another, the entire EP deals with love. The good, the bad, and the loneliness that results from it. Being that the EP is only six (6) songs long that play at a total time of 4 seconds shy of 26 minutes, you aren’t treated to much length in this release. That, honestly, would be my only complaint with this music. Right when you get into it, it’s over. But, it’s a great showcase of what he can and will do whenever he finally decides to release a full length album. I, for one, will be one of the first people to get the album upon it’s release.

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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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Friend John Would Like To Be Your Digital Neighbor

Posted by Scotio on August 9, 2008

So, I was offered, again, the chance to review an unsigned talent. If you remember my review on the artist known as PSY/OPSogist, then you should know that I’m always eager for new raw music . . . as long as it’s good. So, with the chance to be able to review someone who might end up big in his respected field before the explosion happens to come about, I just had to take it. The artist goes by the moniker Friend John and his album is titled Version For Maddie. With something as kind and honest as that name, I was almost expecting to hear folk/acoustic music being played in my ears. What I got was something entirely different.

When I turned on the first song(“Different Dreams”), I was treated to something that I could only closest compare to Dntel work. Which was funny, because after turning it on, I saw that John went ahead and remixed “Dumb Luck” by Dntel. A fitting tribute, I thought. As the introduction to the 16 track album, I thought “Different Dreams” wasn’t too overbearing or attacking. It was so laid back and low, that I thought my volume had broken somehow. Then, dear old John attacked me with a spark of loudness. Letting me know that my volume wasn’t damaged, nor was the entire album going to be filled with a lot of low sounding pieces.

On “Blueberry Box,” John threw out the funk. It wasn’t anything to rival the likes of Justice or Daft Punk, but it was a good display of his flexibility. Sounding like a groovy/jazzy stage from the good old days of 16 bit gaming(you know the stage that you played on and never tried to beat it as fast as you could because the music was nice?), but at exactly 1:07 in the song, he turned it up a notch. Adding more layers, extra static rhythm attacks, and even going so far as to having a little digital solo performed in there. Afterwards, going to a revamped version of the original sound of the song.

When “Meanings” comes around, you’re tempted to ask if John is going to go by the moniker John Figurine in the next 12 seconds. The intelligence in his production is very close to those who are very much so professionals in the field that he’s playing around in. But, whatever you had set-up in your mind to prepare yourself for what’s next will be fooled by the track “Elephant.” It becomes hard to believe that John created it by just using his PC and probably only a MIDI keyboard. The song sounds like it belongs in some very futuristic pimp scene; equipped with a giant planet hopping Caddy & fur-lined Captain Kirk space suit. John uses his hip-hop/rap & funk influences on this piece, along with his silliness for video game love. In my opinion, it’s the best song on the entire piece.

A low point would be the song “Out of Here.” Not that the song is bad, it’s just that when the main portion of the song is playing, the sound is so low that it’s hard to properly make out and get into what’s going on. It’s kind of alienating to the listener to what could have potentially been a very dynamic track. Another small nitpick is that some songs are really great, but end under the 3 minute mark. Leaving you with a taste of just 45 seconds more of the grooviness.

On tracks like “Slow Jam,” “Ravens” and “Chapter One” you see him go into the world of Chiptune music. And on tracks like “Passive People” and “Meanings” he dwells on the European style of IDM music production. In “Meanings,” he borders between Dubstep and Glitch music. Friend John shows that he can cover a wide array of styles within the electronic musical world. Even, his remix work for the Indietronic icon Dntel shows him doing some really dynamic stuff. Using Figurine’s own liking for the, what my friend calls, ” Yoshi Island thumps” combined with the spacestation sound effects from, what sounds like, some random Sonic game. The beat is very subtle, yet diversely layered. There’s even parts that sound like a door creaking open in fast forward. He does so much to this little track, yet all the things he does still makes it all seem very minimal. That’s the mark of someone who’s coming into themselves with their artform.

As a first under this actual style, Friend John makes a nice impression as a new neighbor in your musical neighborhood. And, as he continues to develop and builds on what he has already established, you should be sure that he’ll soon renovate his home to make it that much more digitally illustrious. Highlights are: Elephant, Meaning, Multicolor dub and Dumb Luck [Remix of Dntel].

Friend John Version For Maddie

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