Friday, 19 July 2019

Pitch Black 'Artificial Intolerance' Review

Artist: Pitch Black

Title: Artificial Intolerance

Label: Dubmission Records

Released: 19th of July

The first single from the forthcoming album ‘Third Light’ with the re-mix duties passed to fellow Kiwi’s Akcept and Sub-Set. Mike offers a little insight into the theme of the single ...

Numerous studies have highlighted that the majority of AI coders are Caucasian and male, and just as many have pointed out the problems that facial recognition programs have in processing people of colour. Then there are concerns about the growing quality of deepfakes and the creeping influence over our viewing and listening habits by recommendation system algorithms” 

Paddy and I are far from luddites – we just like to keep an eye on developments, stay aware of the issues and question the alleged perfection of technological systems. After all, there are amazing developments happening in the area of neural networks, for example, where a teenager, Brittany Wenger, can create a "Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer” on her laptop in her bedroom.”

The original version begins with looped tones that before long are joined by a darker low-frequency bass note, fused with a more mellow synth voice and sparse drums. Then the spoken samples are dropped and the piece takes a darker, grittier tone. Eventually a two step drum and bass beat is dropped, which lifts the track into it's full potential. One things for sure this track certainly travels through a few atmospheres along the way, in fact, you could say it's a musical roller coaster of a ride!

First up on re-mix duties is Akcept who changes tact and serve up a dubbed out version, that drops the spoken samples. It’s an enjoyable enough alternative but doesn’t offer the various elements you encounter with the journey of the original.

To conclude Sub-Set also venture into dub, but it more wobbly and twisted and retains some of the vocal samples. Again it’s another enjoyable enough alternative that doesn’t offer the journey of the original.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


In addition Pitch Black are touring Europe in November and if you haven't seen them live I'd highly recommend it.

07: Sebright Arms, London
08: Sebright Arms, London
09: Être Révélé, Paris
10: OCCII, Amsterdam with Uncle Fester on Acid and Ramses
13: Crofters Rights, Bristol
14: 23 Bath St, Frome
15: The Tin, Coventry  with dr trippy and 100th Monkey
16: Panke, Berlin with qnp and Bill Robin

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Bluetech 'Liquid Geometries in Dub' Review

Artist: Bluetech

Title: Liquid Geometries in Dub

Label: Liquid Sound Design

Released: 19th of July

Liquid Sound Design re-visit and re-mix Bluetech’s album ‘Liquid Geometries’ initially released on DiN last year. They described the release as Evan using a huge range of analogue modular synthesizers, with a distinct nod to the Berlin masters of the past he upgrades that musical heritage with nine shimmering soundscapes utilising modern production techniques to create beautiful tapestries of sound. The DiN label boss Ian Boddy also features on the track ‘Tranquillity Gate’ using his distinctive Ondes Martenot analogue synth keyboard.

So if like me the original released passed you by and you’ve not left us to buy that already. You’re probably wondering who Liquid Sound Design have got onboard to add their musical seasoning to this already enticing album. As you may well have expected label boss Youth and fellow label artists Pan Electric, DF Tram and Mixmaster Morris make an appearance as well as Evan Marc himself and Ian Boddy. There’s more some of which are known to me and others which are not but they shall come to light as I work through the release.

The album commences with what I can only describe as a jumbled up space transmission reminiscent of a 50’s sci-fi film on Pan Electrics take of ‘Helix’, this leads to a series of bleeps and sequences with occasional changes of tone that throughout the piece left a sense of a spaceship navigating an erratic course through a meteor storm. Next up is DF Tram on ‘Dawn Ascent’, where he conjures up an exotic lingering piece of dub with plenty of apt spoken samples, and as I travel through the track it’s beginning to make me wonder what else is in store. Moving on to Mixmaster Morris with his re-working of ‘Tranquillity Gate’, and what an apt title it is, my ears are treated to synthesized sequencers, weaving through flute like and ethereal clouds of sound, resulting in me being enchanted by this piece of music.

The Saafi Brothers tackle ‘Crystalline Forms’ with a low-fi piece of acid tinged dub-techno that pushes a tad harder than it’s predecessors, but never fully breaks into a sweat. Fellow Americans the Desert Dwellers offer a similar pace and push on ‘Dawn Ascent’ although it’s more melodic in places, whilst atmospheric and dubby in others. Evan then joins the throng with Bluetech’s Dub Diver mix of ‘Vessels’, which in some respects reminds me of a slowed down piece of progressive house, counter-balanced with angelic chilled out voices and slow deep drums.

We then re-wind once again to ‘Helix’ this time with Living Light at the controls. There’s no space transmission here, this is a rolling piece of lush spacey electronica, with touches of echo fx and sparse drum rolls, which Eartha has injected in all the appropriate places. Label Head Honcho Youth drops the pace somewhat with an elongated beat-less intro to ‘Resonating Heart’. Once the drums do drop there are enough little fx and twists peppered through the lush synths to maintain your interest. I’m not familiar with David Last who adds his touch to ‘Bardo Waves’ but he ups the pace a little once more and the drum work is quite intricate and industrial, adding a mechanical harshness that juxtaposes the lighter synth sequences.

We re-wind and drop the pace again with Gaudi’s version of ‘Crystalline Forms’ it’s softer and lighter than the Saafi Brothers and somewhat like Youth he utilises an elongated beat-less intro. This is followed by a shuffling beat and bleepy tones that float along throughout the rest of the track. DiN label boss Ian Boddy eventually gets to stamp his mark on ‘Subterranea’, where the dark and foreboding intro seeps into the light somewhat, before the drones reclaim that fleeting glimpse with an eerie atmosphere. I then encounter a by now familiar track in ‘Crystalline Forms’ this time re-mixed by another unfamiliar artist Backstage Gurus. I find myself adrift here even more so than with Gaudi’s take as the flutes they utilise work wonderfully with the mellow chilled out synths and shuffling beat.

By this stage I’m in totally unfamiliar territory and enter into Takkra Satori’s version of ‘Underground Lakes’. Although, I’m oblivious to his usual productions, I think he’s held his own here with this lovely piece of chilled out dub, even offering some subtle touches of vocoder fx that feel totally in place on the album. The next track flips the switch with the Sy Borg re-mix of ‘Bardo Waves’, the most driving take so far and as I’m unfamiliar with his work, totally unexpected, but not unappreciated. Lastly (no pun intended) David Last gets another stab with his extended dub of ‘Bardo Waves’ the intricate drum work remains and there’s still a sense of the industrial feel that I mentioned earlier, this time more subtle and leads to far longer passages of guitar laden dub reggae.

To conclude this album is a journey within itself and as with any album there’s peaks and troughs. However, overall I feel this is going to be a strong contender when those end of year chill out charts are being compiled. My personal favourites were Mixmaster Morris, Living Light and Takka Satori, but I suspect there will be some debate amongst the fans regarding this.

Review by Woodzee

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Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Emil Eliav 'Autumn 85' Review

Artist: Emil Eliav

Title: Autumn 85

Label: Cosmicleaf Records

Released: 10th July 2019

One half of Israeli psy-chill duo Zero Cult, Emil Eliav releases this E.P. of futurepop/synthwave tracks under his own name. One of the issues I have when reviewing this retrospective release is I was around at the time it was ground breaking new music and you can’t help but compare. Personally I always preferred the electro (at times with a darker edge) of Gary Numan, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Fad Gadget and Visage to some of the new romantic pop acts. However, I find myself liking some of those more now than at the time. So I’ll attempt to review this on it’s own merit.

The E.P. consists of two Synthwave mixes of previous releases (which I haven’t heard) and two completely fresh tracks. The first piece ‘Coming Home’ begins with a church organ like intro and accompanied by a reasonably ear friendly vocal, synth stabs take over as the beat drops and eventually it’s joined by simple synth sounds that are reminiscent of the 80’s. Overall it’s not a bad track at all. The second remixed track ‘I’ll Be Better’ provides more of the traditional synth sounds you associate with the 80’s from the off. In fact, I’d say O.M.D. springs to mind. The female vocal is a bit too pop for my tastes (but that’s just me, make up your own mind).

Now on to the completely new material, the title track again sounds 80’s from the off. I like the retro analogue synth sounds employed and again it’s not bad at all. There’s no vocal to enhance or spoil it so I guess it depends whether you like instrumental music or not. Finally to see us out is ‘Man With Sax’, which you probably have guessed is an 80’s sounding piece of synth-pop with accompanying saxophone. It’s chilled, summery and I like it. In fact it’s my favourite track on the release.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Thursday, 4 July 2019

Obsqure 'An Oriental Banquet' Review

Artist: Obsqure

Title: An Oriental Banquet

Label: Cosmicleaf Records

Released: 1st July 2019

Having already bagged and exhausted his debut album ‘Tabla Rasa’ I was eager to hear this release. I found this outing although it retains the Oriental fusions a lighter outing than his debut at times putting me in mind of Buddah Bar or even Cafe Del Mar compilations.

The album gets underway with the title track. Where dramatic cinematic strings and keys, are layered over gentle down-tempo percussion, before the trip-hop beat drops and adds more emphasis and the melody moves into an eastern direction. The next piece ‘Sufi Bazaar’ fuses electronic tones and eastern flutes counterbalanced, with shuffling trip-hop beats and subtle dirty bass. Moving on to ‘Shores of Orion’ which juggles soulful vocal snippets and clarinet providing a summery chill out feel.

The orchestral feel returns with ‘Machinery’ and it’s not too far removed from the opening track, just slower in pace. While the intro to‘The Lost Souls of Tamezret’ sound like a snake charmer has been fed through an fx unit, before emerging into a pleasant piece of electronica and pulling the snake charmer back into the mix. The next track ‘November Rain’ is slightly more atmospheric in the intro and a two-step beat is applied, once again it has a relaxing and orchestral feel to the piece. Finally, to see out the album is ‘Niagra Halls’ and I absolutely love this. Again, it’s orchestral but this time with a lovely ethic vocal snippet added. At times in the latter half of the track it reminds me of Bardo State’s classic ‘Seneca’ which in my book is a good thing.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Other recent Cosmicleaf releases to explore

JP Illusion- Artifical Spirit
A new single of ethno psy-chill fusion

GMO & Dense – The Blue Hole
Another outing of psygressive chill out on this new single

I-One – Forms of Water
An album which journeys through natural field recordings an ambient music

Gregory Paul Mineeff – Thinking of Monday
An ambient piano theedsingle with a down-tempo remix from Sideliner.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Madly in Dub Exclusive Interview

I spoke to Michelle of Madly in Dub about how the duo formed their sound their latest release and the festivals they are playing stateside this summer.

1) Firstly thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule to complete this interview. Could you tell us a little about yourselves and how you started your musical career?
Todd and I have been performing live music for more than 2 decades. We met in another band in 2007 and then formed Madly in Dub. I studied Indian classical tabla in Los Angeles and Kolkata, India. Todd has been performing in punk and psychedelic rock bands since high school touring extensively throughout the U.S and Asia.

2) How would you describe your sound and what are the main influences behind it?
I would describe our sound as immersive. Pretty at times, gritty at others. Dancey but still dubby with half and double time rhythmic layers and reverb crashes. Strongly influenced by world music instruments. I have played Indian tabla for 19 years. While flute, santoor, sitar, doumbek and Latin flavours find new a new home in four to the floor Dub house. Todd's funky bass playing grabs the groove. We both have a love for instrumental music, vintage funk from around the world, Bill Laswell, Tabla Beat Science, Up bustle and out, Augustus Pablo and other classic Dub.
3) You incorporate both electronic and organic instruments and percussion. In which order did each of you learn the organic and electronic?
I started with several instruments as a young person. Guitar and clarinet. Then I began hand drumming at 16 and moved on to dholki (a double sided Indian drum) then at 23 I dedicated myself to the tabla. I’ve always had a passion for electronic music, being a bit of an "early bloomer" in the Seattle rave scene, growing up in underground clubs and parties from age 13.
I first heard a tabla in downtempo ambient music in the 90's. Then began learning DAWs in 2008 starting with Ableton, Pro Tools, Reason and Audacity. Being heard live on tabla in a dance club setting proved challenging. An all analogue set up for years with effects units and loopers eventually gave way to Abelton and Midi, the Keith McMillen Bop pad and the Roland Handsonic. I still bring the tablas to smaller live performances but more and more I’m leaning on the Handsonic tabla.
Todd has played bass, keys and flute for decades. Ableton and synths came on board a few years after and the Roli Seaboard has been a game changer. It compliments his playing style so much, bending out notes and sliding around in the sounds on the squishy Seaboard is a dream for making his musical ideas come to life.

4) You've recently released a 5 track E.P. 'Nag Kanya' could tell the readers a little about the release and how it compares to your previous productions?
Nag Kanya is a special release for us. Inspired by our recent travels to India and Nepal. We are using a lot of spicy trap elements which I feel compliments the dreamy sweet melodies. I always worry we will sound like spa music. Lol. I also feel like we had a lot of emotion coming through in this release. We recently parted ways with a band mate we had had for a few years, this is our re-branded, "rebound" album. Proving to ourselves and others that the 2 of us is all we need. We completed this album in 3 months without the compromises and slow downs that inevitably come with every musician involved in a project. We finally feel like we're capturing the sound we have been working towards for 12 years.

Our other recent releases on Uniting Souls are more on the house side (as they are a house music label) this album moves a bit away from the house elements with more breaks and trap elements.
5) Are you active in the U.S. festival scene? If so, where can people hear you play?
Yes, we play local festivals. We will be playing a large party 4th of July at a larger underground club in Seattle, popular in the festival scene called Monkey Loft and we will be playing a smaller festival on Orcas Island July 6th called Blooming Heart. We will also be supporting Drumspyder at an Imagine festival (Orcad island) hype party on Sept 6th.
6) If you could work with any artist/s who would it be?
To name a few Bill Laswell, Dub FX, Gaudi, Drumspyder, Dessert Dwellers, David Starfire, Dance Spirit, Dave Pezzner, Sly and Robbie. The Orb and Thomas Fellman.

Monday, 1 July 2019

The Magical Sounds of Banco De Gaia 20th Anniversary Edition Review

Artist: Banco De Gaia

Title: The Magical Sounds of Banco De Gaia
(20th Anniversary Edition)

Label: Disco Gecko Recordings

Released: 12th July 2019

As with it’s predecessors in this 20th Anniversary series this will only be released as a limited edition CD, with no digital downloads or streaming available. Once again featuring an additional disc containing re-mixes and live recordings. Although I’m familiar with a couple of tracks, this is one of the Banco De Gaia albums I didn’t pick up at the time. What strikes me about the album, is it’s more dance music orientated at times, and that world music makes an impact to some degree or another pretty much throughout. This really appeals to me generally, so I’m a bit disappointed with myself not having delved into the original release before now.

I guess what fans are eager to know is whose on re-mix duties and what they offer. The SunUnderWater mix of ‘I Love Baby Cheesy’ drops most of the spoken word samples of the original except for the repeated hook and the beat is harder. In this instance I found it’s pretty much of a muchness and I slightly favoured the original. Perpetual Loops SO mix of ‘Harvey and the Old Ones’ retains the main body of the original piece. However, the subtle touches that Charles adds lifted the track for me and I say a job well done. While Simon Power extends and transforms ‘Glove Puppet’ into a more dancefloor orientated piece. That in all fairness works out pretty well as an alternative, but personally I’m drawn more towards the original. Finally, Dr. Trippy adds his distinctive touch to ‘No Rain’ and imo it’s a killer tribal dub, in fact my favourite track of the whole album.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Sunday, 30 June 2019

Hibernation 'Ambient Re:Works 01' Review

Artist: Hibernation

Title: Ambient Re:Works 01

Released: 28th June

Following on from the recent ambient re-works of the Kaya Project, Seb Taylor applies this method to another of his projects Hibernation. When he mentioned on social media he was toying with the idea, I immediately thought having always liked the Jazzy elements utilised in some of the original tracks, that this would work perfectly.

As always Seb plays a number of different instruments from guitars, bass and piano to the zheng (a Chinese plucked string instrument) which he utilises in ‘Wabi Sabi’ over rippling water and laid back atmospheric synth voices and fx. Guest musicians are also featured such as Natasha Chamberlain (Kaya Project) with vocals and flute, Susi Evans adds clarinet to ‘Empty Cities’ (where you could easily draw comparison to Floex) and Vicki Flint plays mute trumpet to the strings and harmonic vocals of ‘Aquarius 138’.

For me the tracks on this album yet again bridges the world of traditional music with the electronic, whilst achieving an atmosphere with these re-mixes that you want to find in an ambient album. In other words perfectly suitable for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Reviewed by Woodzee.