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Posts Tagged ‘Lo-Fi’

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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Anthony Green & Colin Frangicetto Reinvent Avalon

Posted by Scotio on February 13, 2009

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Anthony Green. Here’s a name that is well known in the Indie Alternative Rock circle. Being the lead singer/co-founder of Circa Survive, former/original lead singer of Saosin, Co-Lead singer for experimental band The Sound Of Animals Fighting and being featured on a growing number of tracks for various bands . . . it’s hard not to have heard of the guy. Last August, he released his first solo effort, with assistance from the band Good Old War, titled Avalon. It was an predominately acoustic collection of songs written from a span of teen years to right before recording. His Circa Survive Bandmate/Co-Founder Colin Frangicetto turned around and remixed tracks off of the album. No, not a few, but the entire album.

Colin breathes new life into the songs that Anthony birthed. All have new signs of electronic elements added to them; some obvious, some not so much. The new formed songs take off running with such spectacular sounding tweaks that it’s like it’s a whole new album. What’s astonishing about the remixes is that Colin played all the instruments. No, I’m not talking about created loops and turned them off and on. Instead, he played all the instumental pieces all the way through. Part by part. So, there’s no loops. It’s like a live band assembled to create that sound. That’s something to brag on by itself. There are some pieces that he kept in the tracks, though(either in their original spot, or rearranged them). But, there’s more to hold your head up about, Colin & Anthony.

There are several standout tracks for this remix album. The entire thing is wonderful, but some are just beyond. I’ll list them in random order. When “She Loves Me So” comes on, you realize that this isn’t the folksy album that you took an original liking towards. The electronic hums and bleeps fit perfectly with the heavy bass kick and simple snare tap underneath Anthony’s worried lyrics. The new backing track offers a subtle sway to the moment of the track, which is contradicted by the claps and slaps of the chorus. Yet, it works together like Yin Yangs. “Babygirl” has an brief electronic introduction that slightly resembles 80’s pop tracks. The guitar played is from the original song, yet it feels so new and refreshed with this new beat. It almost sounds like something that should be played at an island resort. It’s hard not to imagine an extra air of confidence that the new form offers to the confessing lyrics. For those that dedicated the original to their beloveds, they’ll be able to two step and bob for this new dedication.

“Slowing Down(A Long Time Coming)” is my personal favorite song on this release. The reverse tracked sound did me in the moment the song came on. The electronic “chirp’ just makes the song beautiful. For the verses, Colin distorted Anthony’s vocals, making him sound like he’s behind a screen of static or just singing in a really crappy quality mic. It, actually, gives the track that much more emotion. The song itself speaks on wanting to part not because you don’t love the person, but because you are afraid that they’ll fall away from you due to your disagreements. Though the lyrics for the first and second verses are nearly identical, they still speaks so loud and voluminous. Even the effects on the guitar at the beginning gives off such a lonely and isolated tone. I’ve listened to this track for a number of times that only iTunes can give away. Let’s just say, it’s top notch, in my book. My second favorite track(and the favorite of my misses) is “Miracle Sun.” This track is the audio embodiment reaching out to someone. To sit there and call someone/thing your Miracle Sun is a dynamically bold statement. The Synths added in, for some reason, gives it a dawning morning feel. The slight echoed/delayed effect added to the guitar on the chorus brings out more isolation from the moment. The line “Where do you go when it gets dark?/And is there room for me there?” is the boldest testament to wanting something brighter than your norm.

The song that Colin couldn’t wait to get his hands on was “Califone.” His remix is beautifully sad. Not in the “bad” sense of sad. With the track nestled comfortably between “Slowing Down” & “Miracle Sun,” it gives off the idea that a Tri-Fecta has occured in the middle of this album. The computerized digital bleeps that sound like they are running up and down an old Sci-Fi movie’s circuit board does strange wonders to the verses. During the verses the electric guitar sings a swan song, whereas, switching gears for the chorus, it moves into an anthemic instrument for a drifter. The album closer “Ripped Apart” is epic. There isn’t a lot inside of it, but the electronic bass drum, synthesized keyboard and ambience make it feel omnious. Then, the chorus kicks in, and you’re treated to some almost Lo-Fi Electronic Dance music. Then, it goes back to being as serious as the “Dumn Dumn” from Law & Order. It’s a two-sided coin, and you’ll want it to keep flipping.

This is really a must have for Circa Survive fans. Not only for the fact that it’s two members of the band that ended up “collaborating” on this, but it’s the two founding members of the band. Plus, the friggin’ thing is actually really good. It makes you wonder what would come about if the two decide that, after the next Circa album, they wanted to pair up and do a lo-fi electronic album together. I, for one, would totally welcome the idea after hearing this experiment. This remix is as much of Colin’s as it is Anthony’s. That’s why Anthony put a Plus sign(see: “+”) instead of “Remixed by” on the actual album. The original album was pretty nifty. The remix is a collectible. No, literally. There are only going to be 1000 of them(and, yes, I have one) issued along with the Vinyl pressing of the original album. My only boggle with the physical CD was that it didn’t come in a “dressed” case. A simple white sleeve with Mr. Green & Mr. Frangicetto’s John Hancocks on it, and the number out of 1000 that I own. That kind of left me feeling sad, as when the package showed up, I deleted my download that you get when you buy the album. Sadly, that included the art files from the download(If anyone out there has all the individual art/production credit files, I’d feel most obliged if you could toss them my way). I implore you all to support this. You’ll want to own it legitimately. Not to mention that Anthony & the Circa boys are pretty stand-up guys. They totally release material to help support some causes that are close to their hearts. Why not back up someone like that?

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Alt-Ctrl-Sleep Resets Your Heart’s Cluttered Hard Drive

Posted by Scotio on August 26, 2008

I have a soft spot for these Girl-Guy bands where the 2 main/prominent members are in a relationship together. Something about the way that they are able to make beautiful music together is just splendid, to me(pun intended). One of the bands that actually got me into the growing underground trend is the mesmerizing Alt-Ctrl-Sleep. No, it’s not a computer button combination. There’s nothing mechanical about their music. It’s majestic and enchanting in a way that has become sparingly rare in the last few years. Their self-titled album released in February of 2008 was one that received little buzz and even less marketable attention. Which, honestly, is purely criminal in every sense of the words “creative” and “artistic.”

“Take Care” opens the album and on a note that transcends both time and emotion. Joe Diaco soothingly serenades both the listener and his equally musically incline wife & bandmate April at the same time. You can hear the delicate intimacy in the song. They borrow the essence of music from the mid to late 60’s. When schoolboys would become eager and bashful for the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance, and girls would brag to their friends that the boy they were dating “Pinned” them(and, no, that isn’t perverted. If you don’t know what that term is, ask your parents or someone in their 50’s). There’s just nothing wrong with the song. You can’t find a flaw in it. I’ve tried. It resulted in me just falling more into the blissful floating sensation that comes from letting the song take over everything. That doesn’t come from just knowing your instruments and how to make them work for you. That comes from when you make music from your heart. Which is exactly what this couple does for the entire album.

I could snatch any song out of the bunch and hark the herald on almost all of their work on this brilliant blend of songs. On “Ones And Zeroes,” the duo adds in some Lo-Fi electronic sounds to their recipe. It isn’t anything that distracts or takes away from what they do. Like the mastery use of any instrument, it builds more into their sound than it does take away. It’s such a subtle addition, like your mother adding just a pinch of spice to her neighborhood famous meatloaf. The addition, though, takes them from an Acoustic duo to a Dream Pop one. I’m not talking about your “riding down Sunset Blvd.” dream pop, here. No, I’m talking about running through the forest with the girl of your dreams to go swimming in the stream and make out on the bank type of dream pop. The kind of music that inspires good, innovative and loving Indy Flicks. The follow-up track “Catching Up To You” further dives into the new field that they’ve entered. Bringing with it a sense of that old school “Quiet Storm” mix to the whole picture(If you’re too young to even know what the term “Quiet Storm” means, then I can only hope that you have enough life experience to truly appreciate the amazing emotion of this album). It features no vocals. It’s just an instrumental track that showcases what this Husband & Wife team could do if they decided to switch up their style and go completely Lo-Fi electronic with their routine(or, hopefully as a side-project).

“Kandy” is a song that’s far too dreamy to be real. From the blissful echo of Joe’s whispery smooth vocals to the almost child-like playing of the keyboard riffs to the subtle and unabrasive drumming. The whole song just screams out quiet genius. It’s hard to deal with music that is so minimal yet light years ahead of what is normally [force] fed to the world. It’s even harder to believe that such captivating music could come from any other source but a loving & working relationship between two lovers. If there was ever a song of the year, this would seriously be one of the top contenders. Again, them not getting, in my view, sufficient attention is just so wrong in so many ways. But, I guess that makes them even more special and magical in their execution, delivery and honesty.

Being that I could go on for days about each and every track on this album(And there’s 16 of them, so that would take a while), I’ll just try to touch on a few more of the more soul changing/life altering tracks. “Lies” is great even in its annoying factor. The annoying factor is this static/distortion that runs through almost the entire song. But, for some reason, it adds to the whole sound of the song. Giving it more of a nostalgic feeling of a time long passed than a technical blip in their recording/mixing process. I’m not sure if this was intentional to be added in or if it was a mishap that seemed to work in their favor so they decided to keep it. But, either or, it does wonders with an already sweeping track. “Satellites (Venus To Mars)” is just nothing short of being as spectacular as riding a Unicorn in the Kentucky Derby for the win. I know, that sounds silly, but think about that for a second, will you? Go ahead. I’ll wait. […] Ok. Yeah, it was silly, but seemed cool at the same time. Well, this song is nothing close to silly. It’s just cool all the way through. The drum track keeps the cadence of the melody marching along boldly, yet not with intensity or aggressiveness. And, the lyrics and song concept are just wonderful. Venus to Mars = Women to Men, for those of you who aren’t in the know with astrology and Satellite figures. The fact that Joe’s vocals are doubled in a similar fashion to if he’s talking to Houston from space makes the whole thing that much more awe inspiring. You get the feeling that he’s drifting amongst the stars and finally found that one being that he’s searched his entire life for. The one that completely completes him. Granted, we all know that the one is April. Still, if there would be anyway to describe it, you could say that this is Joe’s mind before he married April. Lastly, I’d like to mention the track “Hold On.” It’s a combination of Dream Pop and Psychedelic music. It’s somewhere between getting high in a field of dandelions and riding in a car through the country roads with the top down in the middle of the night staring at the stars. Yeah, it was a run-on sentence, but I don’t care. The song deserves it(in a good way). Joe’s underwater-styled vocals just sends ripples through the listener while you’re treated to soft cat-in-heat moan-like sound throughout. With, again, the drums playing a critical part in the reception of the song. A slow and steady tempo that allows for any “Midnight Under the Stars” or “Under the Sea” prom event’s King & Queen dance to be a very good one. The guitar solo is short enough not to leave you lost, but performed properly enough to make that slow dance all the more romantic. When I wed, this will be the song that I’ll want to dance that first dance to.

To know that this Husband & Wife act are already in the process of creating their next soon-to-be masterpiece is a great thing to know. They are saying that they plan for it to be more “accessible.” I can understand them wanting to build their fan-base, and they promised to still be as dreamy for it. Still, I just feel that they shouldn’t have to dumb down even for a moment. I feel that the world needs to step up and understand what true musical art is all about. And their debut first album is as artisitic as taking a stroll through the Louvre in Paris. Along with being equally as impressive. I can only hope that they make a third, fourth, and fifth album after the second one. They’re needed in today’s monotomy. And, if I was to give star ratings out on this site, this couple would receive a solid 5 stars.

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Van She Tries To Tickle Your V-Spot

Posted by Scotio on August 8, 2008

Van She is an Australian band that I’ve been eager to hear an LP from since last year when I came across their self-titled EP debut. Granted, it didn’t come out last year, but that’s when I heard it. And, it was such a great sunny album. It was fully of the right pop influences from the 80’s that blended things together wonderfully. I know, I talk about how great some recent bands are with their imitation of 80’s sound, but this was different. This didn’t “remind” me of something from the 80’s, this FELT like something that was teleported directly from the vault of lost 80’s should-have-been hits. So, with my chance to actually review this album, I began salivating with eagerness.

I’ll state this right off the bat: This album is so not what I was expecting from this band. From the very first song(“Memory Man”), you’re hit with the realization that this band not only grew since their 2005 release, but also had the concept to almost reinvent themselves. I am always a fan of growth . . . if done in a proper and constructive way, of course. With that said, the band went from a sunny vacation spot anthemic band to a more Dance-Punk styled band that seem to add little pieces of Dream Pop to styles created by bands like LCD Soundsystem(Typically with the song “Strangers”), and even go so far as to throw in Shoegazing for the mix(Especially with the track “The Sea”). It just seems like they wanted more out of themselves than just synthesizer manipulations.

On the song “Talkin’,” they combine two things that you wouldn’t have expected, A digitalized Voice-Box & Radio Pop. Though you might think that you heard something like that before, just imagine someone like the iconic group Daft Punk teaming up with a more poppier David Lee Roth(California Girls style). Then, you could get a glimpse of how the song should sound. For a brief moment in the song(after the 2nd chorus), the beat turns completely digital and the vocals are uneffected. But, as I said, the moment is brief, so don’t think that you’ll start to hear what you heard on the EP. It’s over before it even starts.

Before you go and start having a little hissy fit over the change of style, you will find a revamped version of their song “Kelly” on this album. It sounds like the Older Brother of the original. The production is slightly tighter. The instrumentation has new little subtle additions to make it pop out to you more. It’s almost like they did a cover of their own track. The best way to compare it is like the changes that Mgmt. did to their song “Kids” between their Time To Pretend EP and their Oracular Spectacular LP. This track has always been their standout piece for me. It was the song that I based them on. That one track that just shone brighter amongst all the others.

Tracks like “So High”(which just screams to be used if there’s ever a Flashdance remake) and “Virgin Suicide” is where they add in the pieces of their original outting with the style that they’ve picked up for this piece. The latter sounds like it would make a wonderful B-side for “Kelly” or even a good follow-up single, and the former is a display of their synthesizer arsenal attack(Though not as completely electronic as on “Temps Mort”). Then, a track like “A Sharp Knife” or “Cat And The Eye” is similar to that, but shows more comfort with them being in their Van She skin. Both songs seem like they stand firmly between where they wanted to reach for and where they originally started at. Those types of songs on the album shows them at their best and most dynamic.

Is the album brilliant? No. Let’s just be honest here. But, is the album fun, catchy, and wonderful? Hell yes, it is. Should you go out and buy this album immediately? Not without listening to, at least, half of it first. Make sure it’s your type of fun. Make sure it’s not too catchy to where when you play it everyone will want a copy and piss you of when they walk around chanting the lyrics. And, last, make sure that you have enough wonderful moments going on to where the tunes will feel right at home for your personal soundtrack. Standouts are “Kelly,” “Strangers,” “The Sea,” and “A Sharp Knife.”

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