Sunday, 24 March 2019

David Harrow 'Dub Journeys Vol 1: Oicho' Review





Artist: David Harrow



Title: Dub Journeys Vol 1 

OICHO



Label: Dubmission Records



Released: 5th April










Back in the 80’s keyboardist David Harrow performed alongside Psychic TV and went on to pen Anne Clarke’s hit’s ‘Sleeper in Metropolis’ and ‘Our Darkness’, this led to working and co-producing with Jah Wobble, The Barmy Army, African Headcharge, Dub Syndicate, Gary Clail, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Bim Sherman and Salmonella Dub. Being part of Pulse 8 who released the Nation Records classic ‘Radio Morocco’ as well working with Andy Weatherall as Blood Sugar and under the aliases James Hardway, Magnetic and Technova.


This album digs deep into the archives of productions released under his OICHO monikor over the past ten years. Some tracks have been completely re-recorded, others slightly re-worked but all re-mastered to showcase the ten tracks selected.


The album commences with ‘Stepping On’ where the horn section takes centre stage over the percussion and dubbed out electronic fx, building pace and dropping down again. It’s got everything you’d want out of a dub reggae piece and is a nice introduction to the album. Which as a whole is a good collection of well produced instrumental dub reggae, where you can appreciate the pedigree of his previous work colleagues that shines through. For example fans of African Headcharge will appreciate the obvious percussive elements employed within ‘Battle System’ and ‘Arrow Rooted’.


To summarise this album is placing the spotlight on a producer whose been in the shadows on a fair amount of my music collection. There’s a bit of an old skool vibe to this collection of stereo-typical dub reggae and if that appeals to you musically it’s definitely worth a listen.


Reviewed by Woodzee


Links:








Monday, 25 February 2019

Exclusive Go Satta Interview







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?

P: I grew up in Plymouth but left for the bright lights of London as a teen at the end of the nineties and have been a bit of a wanderer ever since. I've been obsessively writing and recording music since I was 13, and have had some good chances at a succesful career but unfortunately bipolar disorder (although contributing the untramelled creativity of my music) has made forging real success impossible. The rise of the internet, self-publishing, and streaming, and meeting and working with Mo has really brought things into focus, however, and, just when I was ready to hang up my hat in this game, it seems things are finally looking up. We've been gettting quite a lot of acclaim and attention.

The funny thing is that Mo and I fell in love and married before we even thought about songwriting together. Mo, who is from Detroit in the USA, always loved music and comes from a musical family, had never even thought of herself as a singer or songwriter before we started messing about with it about 6 years ago. I had pretty much given up on making music at that time. When we made “Caramel” as our second ever song together, we knew we were on to something special.

2) How would you describe your sound and what are the main influences behind it?

P: Labels are so reductive and a real bane for me in my life as a musician, but I would go for “art pop” if anybody really wanted to categorise us. I don't care about the genre, but what turns me on are those irresistible pop songs that seem to come out of nowhere, and sound fresh and yet somehow as if they have always been around. I want to make songs which are punchy, concise and somewhat avant garde without breaking the accepted boundaries of contemporary pop music.

My production sound is a coming together of the elements I love most, gleaned from three decades of obsessive exploration in modern music. in my wide-ranging musical tastes. I love 1970s funk, soul and Jamaican roots reggae; principally the smooth, heavy basslines, played on real bass guitars rather than synths, but also the funk guitar parts and general warmth of the sound. So, although we produce quite a lot of dance tracks, the nod is to the days when dance music was played with “real” instruments and involved a degree of musicality, rather than today where it is largely driven by Djs who aren't musicians running Garageband on a laptop. Sure, there is some great music around, but the majority of it feels a little clinical to me. Modern dance music , almost exclusively, relies on a “four on the floor” kick drum that I have always found tedious and irritating. Before drum machines, in the case of a funk or disco beat, the drummer never hits the kick with the snare, and this is a rule I have with our music.

I like to give our music a warm, human quality by throwing real instruments into the mix, using emulations of vintage reverbs, echoes and compression, and adding my own tricks which introduce a certain organic unpredictability to the sound. Tightly quantised synth parts will be contrasted with loosely played bass or percussion, for example.

I would love to give some advice at this point to budding producers and composers: You want to make house music? Great. Spend half of your time listening to anything but house. This will expand your musical horizons and inspire you to bring distinctive elements into your compositions.

True artistry is about being restless and never satisfied with what you do. Experiment. Take risks. If you get an idea, no matter how crazy it seems, record it. Don't be complacent, and constantly seek new skills and technical understanding. Music making is an infinite, life long exploration – provided you don't build walls around your creativity. It's for these reasons that pigeonholing in music is anathema to me. If you publish something to, say, Soundcloud, I think it is hilarious that you have to choose from dozens of genres for your music, when so many of them seem completely arbitrary. We have made disco tracks, 60s psychedelia, Aphex Twin-like meltdowns. On our new album there is a pastiche of 1980s “hair metal” and a dub reggae song. What bloody box are we supposed to tick? But I wouldn't feel like a real artist if I didn't push myself like this all the time to do new things and step out of my comfort zone.

3) How does the creative process work? Are the lyrics applied to the music afterwards or is it more of a spur of the moment, work in progress until the final production?

P: Inspiration for music seems to begin in several ways; a little “hook” or riff might suddenly appear in my mind, unbidden. If I'm lucky, I hear a whole, finished arranged piece, like a band playing in my head. The whole “feel” of the track is already there. Other times, Mo & I will chat about doing a certain kind of song, a ballad or dance track for example. Sometimes we are moved to write about something and this suggests the character the music will take. In almost all cases, I'll come up with some rough chords, and maybe start building a beat and a bassline with it, while Mo works on the lyrics and vocal melody parts. She then records those parts and I go about mixing and arranging the final elements in the song. I like to get vocals recorded at a stage where the music is still only sketched out, so I can respond to the singing with my production and arrangement.

4) You’re primarily a studio based set up, arranging the instruments you play to form the completed piece and there has been some re-mixes of your work. Although it can open doors to new markets I’d imagine it’s an apprehensive process to allow someone to put their stamp on your work. Is it something you actively encourage going forward?
P: We are signed to Emerald & Doreen Records, a German future pop label who have always given us not only complete artistic control of our music, but our cover designs as well. I'm a total control freak when it comes to our own studio recordings (I even perform all of our final mastering, even though most artists and labels outsource this). We decide exactly what we do and when we release it, and we are lucky to have that level of support.

Remixes are actually great fun; I love hearing what other people do with the songs. Sometimes the remixes are fantastic, sometimes not so hot (the “musicality” of our songs can be quite challenging for DJ producers, I think; we certainly don't produce your average EDM tracks. Sometimes there are more than fifty audio channels for remix artists to wrestle with!). Because my own dance beats are quite idiosyncratic, I'm more than happy to have people steeped in particular genres build a version more in keeping with what their audience will respond to.

I love creating remixes myself, although I stopped a couple of years ago to focus on our own music. I tend to put ridiculous amounts of time into my work and some remixes could end up taking weeks to complete. Emerald & Doreen released a compilation called “Crazy Trips” which has all my best remix work on it.


5) You went to extraordinary lengths to produce the video for the single ‘Brand New’ could you tell the readers more about it?

M: When I created the music video for "Brand New" I knew I wanted the visuals to go from dirty to clean. The only way to do this, in my head, was to have the video going backwards. I didn't want it to just be another video done in reverse, though... I wanted it to have something extra about it. So I had to sing it in reverse, too.

I started by reversing the audio, and then writing down how I would need to say it to look right. I honestly didn't think it would be hard to do, but when I began I realized that the shape of your lips don't always line up with the word written backwards. It took several rewrites and video tests to get it right. It took me a year to finish, because I gave up a couple of months in due to frustration. I really wanted to complete this idea as a music video, but I honestly didn't think it would happen.

Something like 8 months later I was still Drawn to the idea, so I picked it back up. The final music video used was the second take, and it turned out better than i thought, so I kept it. There's quite a feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing a project, and going from an idea to a completed visual piece of art.


6) What’s in the pipeline in terms of releases or live shows for you guys in 2019?

Lots! We released relatively few singles last year – Freedom Fields/A Real Boy on E&D Records, and Detroit/Houses Of Fire on our own So Gateeaux label because we were also working on our second album. We hope to have completed it by this Spring. It has become a really epic recording process, involving many guest musicians and a dizzying array of styles and genres – often in the same song. I think there will be about 20 songs on the album when it's complete. It's called “Stabler, Tabler, Out Through The Window” and is a psychedelic pinata of contemporary music. Something like that.

We have a fantastic single called “Dinosaur Glass” which we are putting the finishing touches to. It'll be out by March.


We'll be doing some gigs and hopefully we'll get a festival slot or two this Summer. We also have several radio shows waiting to have us on as guests, and we are arranging to do a session for the people at BBC Introducing.

Links








Thursday, 24 January 2019

Kick Bong/Kaya Project 'Remixes' Review




Artist: 

Kick Bong/Kaya Project


Title: 

Re-Mixes


Released: 

21st January 2019










It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of the Kaya Project, over the years I’ve found with many artists by the time they reach their third album quite often they change in a direction that differs from my own or they stagnate with a sound I’ve tired of. The Kaya Project are not only an exception to the rule, but to use an expression of a beverage that doesn’t appeal to me ‘like a fine they’ve improved with age’. Admittedly you could say they’ve milked the re-mixes, but then with so many contributing artists they have a living to make. However, the selection of re-mixers onboard have always produced quality versions that work for the dancefloor dj’s. One of these re-mixers Kick Bong a multi-instrumentalist and percussionist in his own right has himself featured in this blog over the years and is a welcome inclusion.


Moving on to the release itself it’s a single featuring a Kaya Project re-mix of Kick Bong’s ‘This Charming Violin’ and Kick Bong re-mixes of the Kaya Project’s ‘Taki Ura Matts’ and ‘Katarino’. So tackling them in order The original ‘This Charming Violin’ already held somewhat of a melacholic gypsy feel with a psy-chill underbelly. The Kaya Project re-mix intensifies the gypsy elements and adds plenty of alluring vocal harmonies to the piece.


The original version of ‘Taki Ura Matts’ from the ‘Up from the Dust’ album was a groovy piece of world music with flutes, violins and vocals that drew on Arabic and Klezmer flavours. Kick Bong’s take elongates the intro, utilising the flute licks and strings in a teasing fashion for those who are familiar with the original offering an interesting and alternative version of a similar pace.


The original version of ‘Katarino’ from the Firedance album was a pleasant piece of arabic fused chillout, that featured the amazing vocal talent of Irina Mikhailova. Kick Bongs take brings in the melodic sound of the hang drum and some melodic synths, that complement Irina’s vocals perfectly and accomplishes an even more chilled atmosphere.


To summarise those who have already brought the recent Kaya Project re-mixes will already have tracks two and three, so may just plug for listening to track one. While those unfamiliar it’s a great intro into their sound which deserves you delving deeper.


Review by Woodzee


Links














Sunday, 30 December 2018

Spatialize 'Beyond the Radar' Review




Artist: Spatialize



Title: Beyond The Radar



Label: Self Released



Released: 11th Jan 2019










After four years of concentrating on his deep ambient project ‘Experiments in Silence’ Neil returns to the more groove orientated productions of Spatialize. With influences ranging from the psychedelic, electronic, ambient, world and space rock. Juicy synths, exotic instrumentation and guitars float over organic and electronic drums, with the album including sax from Ian East of Gong and futuristic synths from Ishq.


The album begins with ‘Cat and Mouse’ with sequenced synths, drums, fx and a touch of squelch which combines to produce a sound reminiscent of Ozric Tentacles, with sax rather than flute. This is followed by the title track which is a more dubby affair with vocal harmonies that still retains an Ozric vibe. The next piece ‘Hobo Sapien’ moves the pace up a notch with a distinctly psy-chill feel, with little touches of sax peppered in appropriate intervals.


It’s a darker intro that emerges into the light with ‘Colour of Sky’ which continues on a psy-chill tip with some touches of the orient and vocal harmonies. The guitar is a more prominent feature on ‘Dance into the Light’ where the intro reminded me somewhat of Tangerine Dream, before the groove commences with the introduction of the beat and vocal harmonies. After the ambient introduction it’s back to the psy-chill on ‘The Great Super Mango’ which teases you somewhat before letting go and repeating that cycle.


The elongated intro of ‘Tolticken’ once again had somewhat of a TD and Ozric feel with the sequenced synths and vocal samples invite you in before it drops into slow motion with some beautiful guitar licks. The slow pace continues with ‘Out of Body’ intro, with a spoken sample not a million mizles away from the Orb’s ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ when the drums kick in ethnic and harmonic vocal samples are utilised and again little passages of guitar. The final piece of the album ‘Tree Frogs’ another downtempo number that introduces some flute and sax to the party.


For me personally I’d strayed away from the psy-chill, psy-dub sounds in recent years, aside from the odd producers such as Globular I felt it was morphing into territories such as psy-bass and swamp and losing the chill out aspect that was always a welcome element for me. However, of late I’ve been re-visiting and enjoying some of the older releases in the scene so this review really couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d recommend this album to those who like space music, space rock and psy-chill as it switches between and combines these styles throughout.


Reviewed by Woodzee


Links







Thursday, 20 December 2018

E.R.S. Dub Chants and Magic Plants Review






Artist: 


E.R.S.



Title: 

Dub Chants and Magic Plants



Label:

Dubmission Records



Released: 

7th December 2018






This five track E.P. by Austrian producer Manfred under his E.R.S. pseudonym, takes the vibe slightly more in the direction of psy-dub than his previous dub reggae productions.


The release gets underway with ‘Made of Information’ where a slightly delayed and melodic guitar is over-layed with the kind of spoken dialogue you would expect from a psy-dub release. Although it’s a short piece it’s enough of an enticer to maintain my interest. The next track ‘Shroomed’ begins in a typical reggae fashion but drops off into twisted spacey fx before returning with the reggae vibe overlayed alongside bells and an apt vocal sample.


Moving on in more of a stereo-typical dub reggae fashion ‘One Million Questions’ drifts through a myriad of tones, vocal samples and shakers layered over a simplistic yet effective bass-line. While ‘On a Mission’ is a pure electro-dub journey where reverbed tones meet tribal percussion. The E.P. comes to a close with ‘Roots Station’ a slow burner of rolling percussion and sound fx that builds and drops nicely before the stereo-typical reggae keys and horns are introduced.


Overall although this may not be a classic you will frequently return to for years to come. I found it an enjoyable enough and at a reasonable £3 or more you can’t go wrong.


Reviewed by Woodzee.


Links





Saturday, 15 December 2018

Experiments in Silence Interview


1) Firstly, thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule to complete this interview. Could you tell us a little about yourself and what first appealed to you about music?



More than happy to.

Between my dad and my uncle I was exposed to loads of 70’s prog before I was even a teenager. My brother was also music mad, plays guitar and is a keen audiophile.

Even before that my gran was a good old fashioned knees up pianist who taught me the basics at a young age. But instead of particularly playing pieces of music as such I mostly ended up improvising dreamy arpeggios for the feel of it, which in retrospect, is a bit like electronic sequencing.

I grew up in Birmingham which was a good place to be in the late 90’s. You had Oscillate doing ambient electronica nights with Bubble Club and Planet Dog doing dance nights. Add to that the fact that you could see bands like Ozrics and Porcupine Tree live regularly.

So music was all around me really growing up and I had slowly expanded into a fledgling budget studio with four track and sampler by the time I went to college.

2) You also release music under the name of Spatialize, what was the reason for releasing these productions as Experiments in Silence?

When I had completed the 2014 Spatialize albums Radial and On the Edge of Forever I felt I had spent a good amount of time with all those carefully crafted multi layered parts and that I wanted to do something a bit more spontaneous. I’d always been a fan of deeper ambient music, in fact that was mostly what I listened to for quite a few years, and of course there’s a lot of atmospheric intros and outros in Spatialize.

Then in 2013-2014 I saw that Mauxuam, Greg Hunter and Master Margarita were doing what they called nightly builds / remixes and posting them on sound cloud. It was a refreshing approach to music after the slower in-depth mixing in Spatialize. So I decided to have a go at remixing one of their Cloudform tracks in a deep ambient style, but in one session. That decision was important as it would give me an opportunity to flex the techniques and knowledge that I had built up with Spatialize into a condensed, free flowing, spontaneous form. I uploaded my remix the next morning and felt that I had suddenly a brand new project in front of me. I needed a name and named it after a long abandoned Spatialize track which was called Experiments in Silence.

3) Matt Hillier (probably best know for his work as Ishq) is also involved with this project. Are you both part of the creative process or is he just mastering your compositions?

Instead of being a full collaborative member as such, Matt has been more of a mentoring tutor and friend who dips in and out of the project. I met Matt just as I was in the nascent form of the project and he shared his working philosophy with me and encouraged me to develop the project. At the time my approach was still in the Spatialize mindset which is to multi layer everything and build structures. That was hard to let go of. What Matt did was encourage me to work in a much looser and spontaneous way, often without midi clock. I would play him a track idea and he would say “take that out, take that out and take that out”. I know it’s a cliche but it became evident how less is more, particularly with deep ambient.

We collaborated on two tracks on the first album (Hidden Harmonic)and he has done remixes on the 2nd (Encrypted Transmissions) and 3rd albums, in particular the massive 37 min remix on Suspended Form.

We would probably write more together but I think we find it good fun to just sit together in a studio and just investigate sound, introduce each other to new working methods, drink tea and generally chew the ambient cud without the aim or pressure of creating something. Though I’m sure we will do a project again sometime in the future.

In terms of mastering the albums I did that myself, but again Matt did share his working methods with me and helped get me going. He has also helped with CD artwork and in encouraging me to approach to release through Txt which got the name known to ambient heads throughout the world. So, yes. Without Matt’s help I’m not sure the project would have got to this point. Big up to Mr Ishq!
4) Do you prefer analogue or digital when composing your work? Or is it a blend of the two?
I have a small range of outboard gear which I I’ve folded into the mixes (novation x station, Roland Gaia, bass station 2) but the majority of the sounds come from within the computer where I use Logic X. Although I love the tactility of hardware I’m a big fan of the sound and convenience of digital. There’s a lot to be said for both approaches but I think the advantage of analogue now is less about the sound quality and more about the way it allows you to interact and be expressive.
Actually on the last album Escape to the Skyline I wrote the majority of the tracks on a laptop with headphones via a mini keyboard in a conservatory with my feet up on a sofa. I then took the laptop back to the studio and added a bit of extra hardware synths and mixed on my monitors.
Some of my core plug ins of late have been NI Reaktor (particularly the grain sampling), the ExS24 sampler, Valhalla reverb, Uhe Pro One and TAL Juno and sh101. There’s a lot to be said for all that convenience in one box and being able to create whenever you feel spontaneously creative and inspired.

5) You recently played live with Banco de Gaia and Andrew Heath. How did this come about and do you have any up and coming gigs?
A few years ago when Toby Marks was looking for music for his first Strange Eyes Constellations compilation, Paul from Templehedz sent him a Spatialize link and I ended up with a track on that album.

So when Toby came to the next compilation I suggested the Experiments in Silence project and I think he really dug it as he played a few tracks in his Glastonbury radio show. I’d also got to know Andrew Heath a bit online and had seen their live ambient show and chatted with them afterwards. Then when the banco/ heath show was coming to the south west in Exeter I was asked to open the night.

Unbeknown to Toby it was excellent timing as I had been investigating granular looping on the iPad with Samplr; an app where you can play the sample with your fingers on the screen and loop it. The prospect of a live gig helped me to put it all into practice and I added live midi looping and synth step sequences from soft synths on a laptop in Ableton Live as a second, unsynced system to the iPad. Normally with live electronica you have to rely to a large degree on pre-prepared loops or backing tracks. So being able to build up a properly live and reactive ambient set was challenging but very rewarding.

I haven’t looked into getting more EiS gigs yet but I’m certainly open to it. The crowd in Exeter were certainly very knowledgeable and appreciative so I would love to do more.
6) Are you working on any Experiments in Silence productions at the moment? Or is it currently taking a back seat to Spatialize?

In terms of recorded material 2018 has been taken up completely with creating new Spatialize material. It’s been a productive year and a new Spatialize album called Beyond the Radar will be released on 11th January 2019. It’s going to be a high vibe release of psychedelic electronica, quite different from EiS, but also drawing on the insights and production techniques from the deep ambient work.
7) What other artists are impressing you at the moment?

The music which has been really shaking my tree in the past year has been desert blues from North Africa. In particular artists such as Ali Farka Toure and Tinariwen. There’s a really great combination between earthiness and sky and a sense of the astrength of the human spirit that I absolutely love. And some badass grooves.

In the electronic world I’ve been exploring Steve Roach quite a lot this year. I’ve also been appreciating the very slick arrangements and production of Hedflux. It’s really nice to hear a producer who uses glitchy effects etc but does so in a very considered and effective way. Matt Coldrick’s new album is also very musical and pleasing.

Links



Albums of interest 2018


A selection of recommendations for albums released in 2018 that you may not want to miss out on.




Kaya Project

Up from the Dust

Comprising 20 musicians and four years in the making global chill at it's finest.


Woob

新 プログラム

Taking a step back from the 80's horror soundtracks with a more ambient approach, futuristic and Bladerunner'esque.


Pan Electric

Step Out

Comprising new material with re-works of old drawing on prog-rock and folk and fusing with ambient electronica.


Experiments in Silence

Escape to the Skyline

Laid back and beatless electronic soundscapes that take you on a journey from your armchair.


Various Artists

Zero Gravity

Interchill have always been a good bet with their releases and this compilation doesn't fail to return that stake.



Crystal Nada 

Awa uta - あわ歌

Comprising Indian ragas with Japanese mantras a go to album for quiet reflection and meditation.


Laraaji

Sun Transformations

American ambient pioneer Laraaji's compositions are given the re-mix treatment and it works a treat.



DF Tram

Serenitay Infinitay

Dubby, strange and packed to the hilt with samples there's no one quite like DF Tram.



Andrew Heath

Evenfall

Beatless ambience with strong focus on the piano. Perhaps his best work to date.


Rameses B

Spacewalk

Putting on the brakes for this release comprising mellow electronica and chilled out drum & bass.


Various Artists

Strange-Eyed Constellations 2

A selection of beatless ambience, dark drones and more experimental than the first in the series.