OpinionHated

The Hated Opinionated One

Posts Tagged ‘Experimental’

PSY/OPSogist Brings You To The Sleep Kingdom

Posted by Scotio on July 9, 2009

picresized_1247201590_Cover-For-Blog

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.

Preview

Free Download/Purchase

Advertisements

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Miike Snow Lights A Frozen Flame

Posted by Scotio on June 10, 2009

miike-snow

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.

Preview

Purchase [Amazon]

Purchase [iTunes]

Purchase [Tower] (Vinyl)

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Spores Make Doom Popular

Posted by Scotio on March 2, 2009

doom-pop-by-the-spores_fsmntthckdox_full

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.

Preview

Purchase

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Common Controls The Hip-Hopniverse With His Mind

Posted by Scotio on December 1, 2008

I know it’s been a while since I last released a review on something. Situations of life has caused me to not be able to do so. But, I’ll be delivering a review(and maybe try to squeeze in a few more) right now.

Common(born Lonnie Lynn), and emcee heralded in the hip-hop community, is geared up and ready to unleash his new(and 8th) album, titled Universal Mind Control. Now, most of you have probably heard the lead single to this song collective, but I’m sure you thought that it was merely a gimmick to gain attention. One that would leave you with a bunch of soulful Hip-Hop tracks behind it. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, folks. That’s not the case. The whole album moves in this new and(for Common) uncharted territory. It’s hard to call it flat out Commercial Rap, as the man with the pen is still very lyrical with his delivery. Yet, at the same time, all of you purists out there would have a tough time biting down on this being labeled Hip-Hop.

Now, before I go into my usual task and manner of review I’d like to touch on something I stated in the last sentence. Folks seem to have a very tough time dealing with anything new in terms of the Hip-Hop label. Just because it’s not a constant looping of old soul music that you’ve heard a thousand times and know exactly where the sample came from does not, I repeat, does NOT mean that the offering isn’t Hip-Hop. Now, I won’t say that the silliness of Lil Wayne, Yung Joc, Young Jeezy or even Kanye’s radical departure with his 3rd & 4th albums constitute as Hip-Hop either. They don’t, not in the least bit. But, what this album is, truly, can be called Hip-Hop. The musical artform that showcased and thrived on difference, experimentation and creativity. Much like how the Trip-Hop classification has grown plentfold since it’s original incarnation, so has Hip-Hop. There’s more than one face to this creature, and it’s time to embrace those other faces and not hold dearly to that only one. Don’t go tagging things that clearly lack intelligence, creativity and true lyricism as Hip-Hop, but don’t shy away from something new and air freshening in that stale room that you locked yourself inside of.

With that being stated, allow us to continue down our routine path, shall we. . . The intro of the album is a woman speaking to the listen in the French language. Saidly, I haven’t fully gotten knuckle deep with that language since High School. So, I’m not the one that you should come to for a translation(Note: If/When I do find out, I will post it here). Followed by that spoken piece, you’re treated to the single that you’re familiar with from the album, the title cut(“Universal Mind Control”). This song houses combinations of robotic future and tribal past. With the brilliant use of Star Trek inspired Synths & the sounds of live drumming(Pharrell is a drummer, you know?) The Neptunes showcase why they were the music industry’s top-billed producers at the beginning of the decade. With the work here, it’s a great closer to the dynamic opening that they had starting in 2000(though in the middle, they did flip-flop for a while). Common, though, has never appeared to be more in tune with a beat than he is here. Flowing in and out of the beat like a master weaver unveils something that Mr. Lynn has been hiding under his gatsby hat for some time. His cadence is perfectly timed. He speaks each word without giving the listener worry of garbled over words and sentences that most in his place would have done. It’s seriously a great track, and a good display for Common & The Neptunes to show that Hip-Hop isn’t a box.

Another surpriser is the track “Make My Day” featuring the crooning of Cee-Lo(member of Goodie Mob, one half of Gnarls Barkley). Honestly, when I first heard this, I was a bit confused. It was just something that you didn’t imagine Common on(I act like Electric Circus didn’t happen). The track is produced by Mr. DJ of OutKast fame. And, yes, the beat does sound like something that Big Boi and Andre 3000 should be featured on(Do I smell a feature remix collab?). Common does a sing-song flow on the track. Not in that annoying “hey I can sing” type of deal. More of a happening that occurs when you’re having fun and talking like you’re in some sort of Show Tune movie. I know that if you’re as silly as I am, part of you has to force yourself not to bust out with the Carlton Banks dance while listening to this song. It’s a fine testament of how he feels of his woman. Though most would argue that this would have been better served as it’s original summer song intention, you could argue against it if you’re really deeply emotionally connected to a female. Because, if you are, just being around her would make a wintery white day feel as warm as summer. No, it’s not sappy, it’s realistic. Grow up, people!

A track that I’m not all that into, and I kind of feel bad about it, is the one titled “Changes.” It’s just something about the song that just alludes and doesn’t fully connect. It’s too magical in a fantasy sense, the music. Not Sci-Fi like majority of the rest of the album, but it sounds like something that should be featured in a Jim Henson movie. It’s too distracting. Plus, with Common uttering lines like “I spoke like a child/I wrote like a child/I always smiled, let my mind float like a child” doesn’t help to take away that storybook feeling that the song emits. It’s just something about it. I can’t say it’s outright bad, it just leaves you lost without any directions to find a common ground between you and Common(pun intended). Another misstep is the track “Punch Drunk Love.” It feels TOO much like a Neptunes track. What I mean by that is that the song fills like something that either Pharrell or The Clipse should be on. Not someone like Common. Still, Common does give his best attempt to make the song his. And, any chances of that being accomplished is destroyed by Kanye on the chorus. His overly boastful ego just makes you dislike him and the song. When chorus comes on, you’re stuck spending too much time squinting at his attitude than you are getting deeper into the song.

There are other strange moments on this album. One of them happen to be “Gladiator.” Common raps over a distorted horn section with a marching band’s performance backing it up. Common comes out swinging as hard as he can. At times, he seems to end up hitting himself in his arm sailing that seems like he’s kind of flailing his arms to bring fear into his fictional opponent. It’s a nice song to get your adrenaline and courage pumped up, but not something that you would sit there and listen while in a chilled or party-happy mode. Pharrell featured on the hook complete contrasts the rest of the song. Surely, that was the plan. But, you can’t do it too drastically, or it ends up looking like a self-parody. And, in a very strong sense, that is how this song can be viewed. Star Trak’s new band Chester French makes an appearance on “What A World.” The lead singer, oddly, sounds like Pharrell. Don’t know if that’s intentional, or just coincidental. Either or, it does work for this song. Easily Neptune-ized through and through, the track brings a sense of funk that hasn’t really been felt by the duo since they produced that Austin Power’s third movie lead single by Beyonce(Work It Out is what the song is called, people). Common coasts on it suavely like the most mellow of Cat Daddies from the 70’s who entered into the early 80’s rap scene. “Announcement,” again, featuring Pharrell(his on almost as many tracks as Common is) seems like a updated and revamped version of something Bad Boy Records would have put out during their hayday. But, that could also be attributed to the pretty blatant Notorious B.I.G. lines and hommages used throughout the song(Hell, even Pharrell huskies up his voice for rapping a full verse). The only thing that throws it off from the whole Bad Boy vibe is Common using the word “Finna” during the chorus. Though, that isn’t a bad thing. It wouldn’t be right if he got stuck under that tab of duplication.

Now, I saved the best for last: The best song on this offering is the closing track “Everywhere” featuring the iconic trip-hop voice of Martina Topley-Bird(From Tricky’s Maxinquaye fame and even her solo material). Mr. DJ returns as the producer for this one. It’s just brilliant and dynamic. Mr. DJ’s work could easily contest that of newly megaproducer Danger Mouse. Martina clearly controls this song. It’s almost like it’s hers featuring Common, instead. Her voice is properly layered and still enchantingly airy. When Common comes on, he doesn’t disturb what was already laid out on the song. He fits into it accordingly, and, at times, seeming like Black Thought of The Roots on the track. I say that because of his use of flow, his ability to adapt to the track and not ruin it, and even his lyrical pattern. Not that he stole it from him, they are friends after all. But, it is a good tribute paid to his often overlooked friend. The song truly does sound like a missing track from her Blue God album released earlier this year. With Common’s 1 verse on the song, it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t originally that. If it was, Kudos to Common for being wise enough to throw it on his album.

Preview

Purchase

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

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.

Preview

Purchase

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Robotanists Are Ready To Set New Assembly Standards

Posted by Scotio on October 11, 2008

I’ve never seen the movie Blood And Chocolate. I know, I know. But, I didn’t want to spend money on going to see it in the theaters. Then, it hasn’t come on a Premium Cable channel, yet. I mean, after the sadness that was The Covenant, I didn’t trust any movies which tried to gain promotion from the lovely occult series that is titled Underworld(a personal favorite of mine). I know you’re wondering what that has to do with anything. Well, it has everything to do with this review. See, the movie might be visually unknown to me, but I’ve heard the soundtrack. And, I will say that I was impressed by the covers that were featured on that album. One of the standout tracks from it was “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by the band known as Philistine. Well, Philistine never released an album. What they did was change their name to Robotanists(yeah, now you’re getting it). And, Robotanists have finally released their studio debut, Close Down The Woods. It’s an EP, but it’s enough to get the mouth wet with flavor.

Only seven (7) songs/almost thirty-seven (37) minutes long, it’s not something of grand proportions. But, it is filled with stuff that can tickle your fancy like you’re trying to get a Tickle Me Doll modeled after you. The opener track is “Wait A Minute Here.” This was the second song that I’ve heard from this act(first being the Joy Division cover). I’ve heard this song many months ago. Still, it brings such a strong longing sense that it’s hard to properly compare it to something else. The simplicity of it adds such an epic feeling to the song. You might ask how is such possible. It’s simple, really, the fact that it feels so bare bones is how it fuels the “just out of reach” sensation of the song that the lyrics bring. Vocally, Sarah(lead vocalist) is amazing. The first half of the song, it sounds like she’s singing in the shower with the water off. Alone. Thinking about the muse of the song. Either that, or inside of an empty building strolling the halls while you listen to her from the other end. I can’t tell you how many music video ideas I had swimming around in my head when I heard this song(and still do every time I hear it). Daniel(lead guitarist)’s finger work is nothing to downplay in the least bit. He’s not merely strumming an acoustic guitar, he’s plucking at you’re heart’s attention while Sarah holds your head in a submission maneuver. If you’re not captivated by this song, then I don’t know how you can ever claim to have been in love and possess a heart.

The next song is “Subtlety Is Underrated”. Now, I’ll admit, I was not expecting this as a follow-up after the majesty that is “Wait A Minute Here.” It’s not like it’s bad. No, it’s not. It’s just completely unexpected. The band seem to call on their inner Beatles meets Beach Boys. The song harbors all the same sense of bliss and joy with lyrics that run deeper than it’s easily accessible pop soundscape leaves you to believe as the aforementioned bands. Again, on this song, Sarah’s voice soars. She could have played it safe and merely sang in cadence over the beat, but what would that have done? Nothing but made it another cheesy pop tune. Her timeless voice is the venom that takes you under after you’ve let your guard down from the music underneath it. She sings from a place that isn’t just lost in most singers of today, it’s become completely uncharted and only the brave dare to venture there. Granted, it’s good, but I would have liked to have a full LP so that it could have a better bridge that closes the gap between Tracks 1 & 2.

Following that is the title track of this release “Close Down The Woods.” This song contains more jazz than any other. It sounds like something that you’d end up listening to in the car of your older uncle that thinks he’s still too cool, but sometimes he does offer a speck of coolness from time to time. Though you’d never tell him that, you do acknowledge that to yourself. This would be one of those moments if he pulled this song out. It’s mellow, soothing, smooth, and melodic. Again, they go back to a more minimal approach, and again it works. Robotanists use Sarah’s special weapon(her voice) in every amazing way imaginable. It becomes it’s own instrument at one part of the song. Where other vocalists would just move on through or over the music, she moves with it . . . sometimes propelling it. When the bridge at the end comes in, it’s beyond breathtaking how she has a few different layers of her voice going off at once and they never clash. It all goes together like finely tuned instruments in the San Francisco Symphony. But, all the glory isn’t Sarah’s alone, the music the band provides makes her voice that much more intoxicating . . . that much more alluring . . . and that much more enticing.

Switching gears, again, the band moves into the song “Slow Motion.” No, there isn’t anything slow about this. They mix up the feeling of Six Pence None The Richer and The Cranberries to create a much more rich and flavoring offering on this song. It would be a shame to group this band with another Teen Movie, be it gothic or outright romance. But, truth be told, this does sound like it would be the lead single of a new romantic movie. Young lovers, if you want to find that perfect song to cap off your date with and pretty much seal the deal . . . this is it. This is the song you play. The band pulls out more soundscape for this one. Preston(drummer) shows us what he’s been hiding almost for the whole disc. His timing is perfect. His tempo is excellent. His execution is one for the books, here. It’s not like there’s something new or inventive that he’s doing with his drumset. It’s that it provides the perfect backbone for the whole song. That’s what is needed of the drummer for most times. And, that is what Mr. Phillips does. Yes, Sarah is mesmerizing, here. But, that’s nothing new. Not to downplay her at all. She leaps to heights that you don’t hear female vocalists aim in either Indie Rock or even R&B much in today’s music.

On “Tasteless,” Daniel, Preston & Keith(bassist) set the tone for what appears to be a missing James Bond theme song. Primarily with Daniel showing off all the tricks of the guitar trade that he was sure to have learned watching those movies. Any fans of the highly famous Agent 007 know that the theme songs are usually just as monumental as the movies they are theming. And the music of this track is big. Broadway big, baby. With such a high standard set by the band, you know that Ms. Sarah Ellquist has to match their magic. Matches it she does. To be fair and honest, I haven’t heard a female belt out such powerful blasts on a studio song since the mid-90’s. Yes, I know that some of the current artists can sing with such passion and intensity, but you rarely seem them performing such on their studio records. This band doesn’t play for the radio, they play for the love of the music. And, all music lovers should shun themselves if they read this article and don’t rush to this band immediately. The band also has a cover of Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” featured as a bonus track on their EP. Closing it in as the Seventh and final track. They, humorously title their version “I Don’t Want To Know What Love Is.” It’s a good cover. Is it as good as their Joy Division cover . . . hard to compare. I would say no, but Daniel’s brilliant guitar performance allows it to leap up a few notches.

This band is brilliant. This EP is awesome. Seriously, it is. The ONLY problem I have with it is the lack of tracks and length. I know, it’s an EP, but I’d really love for it to have been an LP. That way, I could hear them drift in their range from song to song. The EP properly demonstrates what this group is capable of. But, you get the feeling that they are holding back, like a boxer stunning you with his speed and has yet to show you the true power they have in their punch. With the fact that this EP hits you hard, that simile in the previous sentence speaks volumes. Trust me. It’s been a long time coming for this band’s studio debut. I’m sure it’s going to be a long time running for their musical career if they continue to move from this point forward.

Preview

Purchase

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

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.

Preview

Website

Purchase

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

PSY/OPSogist Helps Open Hip-Hop’s 3rd Eye

Posted by Scotio on July 19, 2008

Yesterday, before I began my trek out of the house to go and see The Dark Knight(review of that coming soon) I was given some music that I was asked to review(album: Suffused With Static). Since I’m always eager to hear new stuff, I accepted it. Once I heard that it was by an unsigned artist(PSY/OPSogist), I was both excited and skeptical about pushing play once it was loaded into my iPod. But, alas, the play button was pushed as I made my journey from home to cinema.

What flew out of my headphones and into my ears was something I wasn’t expecting(granted, I should have figured it out by the genre classification applied to it by the creator: Fucking Ill). Of course the Intro of the music kicked in. It was a heavily distorted voice over what sounded like Vinyl minor scratching and a music box from the 1800s playing in the background. As the sound started to build, so did my eyebrow. I wasn’t sure where the path of this was going to lead. It was either one of two paths that this was going to go down: 1.) Leading to a pit of despair, 2.) A saying of a single profane word that would come about with every beat shift.

So, when the first actual track kicked in (“Birth, Space And Time”), it sounded like an opening to an industrial rock piece. But, that was just a ploy. A ruse, if you will. He tricked me. It was Hip-Hop . . . which was just what I originally assumed it would be from the Intro. But, it wasn’t crappy Hip-Hop, nor was it one filled with lyrical overstatements. It was just the beats talking for him. And, the song had a sense of magic, to me. Sadly, I don’t feel magic with much Hip-Hop, today. The last time that happened was in 2005, when I heard the instrumental music of a female producer by the name of Buttafly Plague and her “unreleased” album called Instru-Mental Bliss, Vol. 1. Before that, it was when I heard Danger Mouse‘s production for the Grey Album(No, Jay-Z wasn’t a factor in that. I give all the respects to DM).

So, for me to classify someone in that highly elite category of mine is really something to be in awe over. The second full song, third track, “Between The Keys” only helped to keep the magic alive. The piano riffs and the standing bass inside of the song was just really pushing me to look around as if someone else was able to hear the music, too. You know, to share the experience of hearing something that truly is masterful. It was just something really incredible and thought provoking. My only complaint was that, he didn’t switch up the drums. If he would have thrown something in like a drum pattern shift, or even slow down his drums and add distortion to it, it would have been insane.

On the track “TIME (a. Not Just Madness b. Clarity c. Anaethetised)” PSY/OPS flips a soundbite of one of the best movies of 2007: Michael Clayton. The scene where the character Arthur Edens(played by Tom Wilkinson) is talking to Michael about his coming to clarity whilst he was submerged inside of his insanity due to him not taking his medication. I felt that the speech given by the character was not only a giant WTF, but also holding some sort of truth to it all. It was really dynamic. So, for PSY/OPS to add that in there was a giant kudos, from me. But, not only did he do that, but the music creates and constructs around that soundbite and others featured in the song is like if Tyler Bates would forge a production duo with James Lavelle(during the first leg of the act U.N.K.L.E.). It’s cinematic, it’s moving, and it’s heart pumping. It gives you the feeling that, for that particular moment of time, your life is a movie.

PSY/OPS has a good scope of sounds and soundbites. He masterfully adds in pieces of various movies and television shows that adds to the moment of his music and not distract from it like a lot of producers end up doing haphazardly. On “Potent Spirits,” he throws his bid in from Early 90’s revival Hip-Hop. It’s fun, soulful, and intelligent. His samples are done eloquently. Placing the vibing era somewhere between a Good Times episode and an Gangstarr concert. On “Opposing Drives,” he brings the type of bass attack that would make Dirty South car enthusiasts climax on themselves when they play this song in their stereo. It isn’t a speedy adrenaline pumping sensation, but rather a “2 miles an hour” type of moment.

With “V-SIS”, PSY/OPS uses simple mid-90’s East Coast drums with a standing bass. The pattern of the standing bass’s riff is one very similar to an Oriental style of music. Due to that, it gives off a feeling that you’re listening to a “Ghetto Ninja” theme song. The drums, as stated, aren’t complicated, nor are they abrasive. They add the right touch with their simplicity. His use of electronic melodies and sounds for the song only heightens the mood, from the eerie ambience at the beginning to the wall of noise in the middle ending with the playful crystal chimes mixed up with a the child hissing and breathing out in a rhythmic fashion. The man is good at what he does.

All in all, I was very impressed with the music from beginning to end. There were a few pieces here and there that I wished he would either punch a little harder, or throw in a more blatant surprise. But, aside from that, the album is very solid. It’s a shame that he isn’t signed and doesn’t have a strong following behind him. He deserves it. I’m not sure of his race, but music isn’t racial. Music is a universal thing, regardless of where it originates. Still, I know people will feel the need to pick at it because it’s Urban Music(When the hell did Black music become known as Urban?). But, for me, it doesn’t matter. As I stated, this is in my elite Hip-Hop category for the first decade of the 2000’s right along with Danger Mouse’s Grey Album production and Buttafly Plague’s Instru-Mental Bliss, Vol. 1. As they say, good things come in a package of 3’s. So, this rounds out that Tri-Force, for me. It’s witty, playful, smart, and good music. I’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy DJ Shadow, U.N.K.L.E., Hi-Tek, or even Tricky not to enjoy this offering. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not connecting to things properly. Plus, the man offers it for free.

Preview

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Dropz Drip Out Sonic Absinthe

Posted by Scotio on June 11, 2008

You ever sit around in a quiet place and have music playing in your head as if you have a mental jukebox? Being that I can’t hear you answer that question, I’ll just move on as if you answered and I didn’t care. Well, that happens to me quite often. Which I guess by today’s clinical standard, that should mean that I should be on some sort of pill. But, I like my little internal music. Sometimes it’s a song I never actually heard before being played in it. More often, though, it’s music that I’ve heard before . . . just not recently. Well, such was the case a few days ago. And, the song was “The Concept” by the band Dropz. I asked a friend of mine, who shares a similar love for Sneaker Pimps as I do, if he ever heard Dropz‘s album Sweet Oblivion or any music from them. He responded with no. At which point I was not only floored, but forced to play him hear a few songs from them. While that was going on, I thought about how many people never knew that the band even exists(ed?). So, I decided to cook up a review of their album in hopes to spark interest in their music. Let’s begin, shall we?

The aforementioned song “The Concept” opens up the album. Which is a very groovy way to do so, with the song housing the lines “There’s a Beast inside of us”  for the chorus. Everything about the sound is somewhat familiar to anyone who has heard the Becoming X album by Sneaker Pimps. That will be for two reasons: 1.) The main composer of the music, Hoshino Hidehiko aka Hide(from the J-Rock iconic band BUCK-TICK), listened to that album heavily when he was crafting the sound for this album; 2.) The lead vocals are handled by Kelli Ali(formerly Kelli Dayton) of Becoming X fame. Cube Juice makes up the third leg of this tripod group.

The following track’s sound, “Read My Mind,” is as uplifting as its lyrics are depressive. I know I’ve said it before, but this is really a summer track. A musical soundtrack to a fun trip traveling somewhere new and adventurous, or even just a good song to play while folks are on an amusement park ride. For me, it leans the most to the latter, due to childhood memories of music similar to this playing when I was on such rides. But, as I said, the lyrics aren’t as bright and sunny as the music is. Kelli sings about a turbulent relationship and their inability to properly communicate. It’s an odd mixture, but again, if you’re a Becoming X fan, you’re very familiar with such a combination.

The brilliance about this is that, every member seems to make the song better. Such is the case with the track “Dream Machine.” Cube takes Hide’s electronic guitar and drum attacks, fills it up with his electronic distortion and static harmony, then Kelli comes in and lays the track out flat with her simple, yet bold, lyrics that point out how fickle our society is about machinery and physical enhancements. Stating how people of today can easily go and get anything fixed on their person to the point where “turning you on’s like turning on TV.” Granted, everyone nowadays is saying that, but this was made in 2003-2004. So, at that time(though it was only a few years ago) folks were declared “dweebs” for not following the trend . . . ass implants, ladies?

One of the biggest and most rocking out tracks on this collection is “I Spy.” Hide strums his axe with ease and precision. The live drums are loud, noticeable, and hip-moving. Kelli doesn’t stand-out from the music. Instead, she rides inside of it like a piece of paper on a wave. Cube’s additions to this aren’t heavy, either. Also, he just adds to what’s there, builds with it, and doesn’t try to overshine Hide’s work . . . well, at least not until the end of the track.

Oh, and if you’re lucky, you would have snagged yourself a Limited Edition of the album, which has a second disc featuring all the songs from the main album but remixed by the group’s artists and electronic disco techno knob-twister Bryan Black. Yeah, I guess another thing similar to Becoming X, only it features all the songs and not the selective ones that others liked and wanted to bunch up the album with repeatedly. The remixes are just as nice and neck swinging as the originals. The remix album is so solid that it could be a stand-alone disc and could equally compete for dominance against the original work. I know, I’ve faced horrid remixed material, as well. So, trust me when I say that such is not the case, here. But, I will say that the remixes would fair over better with those deeper into electronic music than the average listener. And, typically, the Japanese market(where the album was primarily released).

Out of all 20 tracks, my favorite would have to be “Lose The Boy [Antidepressant Remix].” It has more oldschool Hip-Hop styled drums, and Electronic Madonna-styled voice effects . . . so much so that if you told someone it was a new or unreleased Madonna track, I’m sure they’d believe you. But, it’s just something about it. The original is magical, also, but this remix just does something. It reaches some sadder more sullen place, yet smooths everything out to make the bad seem ok. The electronic effects that are laced throughout the song are just enchanting. They hold you dearly, and craddle you like some type of depressing, yet soothing, lullaby.

I’m sure that a good bit of people have discarded this album simply because of the similarities to Becoming X. But, fans of that superly solid debut album by such a ground shaking Trip-Hop act should look to this as “What if Sneaker Pimps redid their music and added Kelli back into the fold in this day and age?” This is that sound, but not quite. I say that because none of the SPs housed the guitar savvy skills that Hide does. I will say that Cube Juice would put them in for a good run for their money, and the winner of that outcome would have to be witnessed and not predicted. Still, I feel that this album holds a special place for me due to the special place that Becoming X holds. Is that fair? Who knows. Who cares, either? Because if it wasn’t for Becoming X, this album, let alone this group wouldn’t have ever been created in the first place. Top that, cool cats!

Preview 1

Preview 2

Purchase

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Ulterior Has Fiendish Motives

Posted by Scotio on June 9, 2008

I’ve just recently found out about this band Ulterior. I was browsing around and came across their name and a picture of the band(the one listed above). So, I decided to see if I could find anything out about them. Well, the only thing I could find that contained samples of their music was their myspace page. So, I sighed, and clicked away. Usually, when I have to do this, I’m treated to a bunch of rubbish and foolishness that makes me wish I saved the last 1 min and 42 seconds of my life that it took me to visit their page. Surprise Surprise. I was in store for something altogether different than whatever I was expecting. The band is just mind melting. It’s music that’s hard to place inside of one category. They blend electronics, with shoegazing and 70’s styled Punk music. It’s like one big giant WTF. What’s odd is that, the music isn’t really that hard to perform. It’s quite repetitive in it’s nature. Yet, for some strange reason, it’s highly addictive and infectious. For me, out of all the music I listed that it combines, I think the spirit of it is closer to that of 70’s punk. With it’s no holds barred style, coupled with the cocky yet drugged out uncertainty. It’s just so dirty, rugged, and unshaped that it’s almost beautiful. I literally used profanity out loud when I first heard their music. Which was their song “Weapons.” What followed that was their more structured, if you could call it that, song “15.” But, what sealed the deal and made me stare into my monitor as if it was going to nod up and down and say or flash the words “Yes, I know. I feel the same way as you. I’m just as blown away.” was the track titled “Dream Dream.” I mean, I’ve heard a lot of retro music, recently. Most I like, not all, but a good bit. THIS, though, this is something completely and totally different. It’s strange enough for me to request that the water from their well in the UK be checked for some sort of contaminant or something. And, if there is anything found inside of the water, it should be bought and sold to the stupid recording artists hogging the radio and TV airwaves with their slapstick joke-for-talent music. I feel like writing/emailing all the major acts that are going to be touring my area in the next few months and demand that they add these guys as opening acts. Seriously, it’s like their music is some sort of hypnotizing rhythm that should be treated as a possible controlled substance, or even something that could contain subliminal messaging demanding your full attention. I can’t go on about them enough. I’m just really hoping that this British 4-piece band comes together and pushes out an album sometime between the end of this article and 76 mins til my death. Which should be just long enough for me to hear it twice. Then, I can brag about hearing it at whatever is next after this life. Do check them out, and tell them to push out an album IMMEDIATELY if you enjoy it.

Preview

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »