Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Disco Gecko's 'Strange-Eyed Constellations' Compilation Review

Artist: Various

Title: Strange-Eyed 


Label: Disco Gecko

Released: 4th Sept

Compiled by Toby Marks (Banco De Gaia) with a title inspired by a Tom Hardy poem and as tribute to Mike Barnett the founder of Beyond Records who featured some of Toby's earlier works on their Ambient Dub series.

The album begins with 'Dum Spiro, Spéro' by Astropilot, whose space style synth work I've always admired but the four by four beats he often employs can become repetitive. There's no such problem here with this beat less number which hooked me immediately with it's sheer aural elegance. This is followed by 'Sirens of Lorelei' by Dr Trippy as I've never heard him before. Admittedly, there's an ethnic element to the track which increases in the middle but either side throws a sheet of angelic voices and flutes over a snail pace beat. The theme of mixing angelic voices and tribal chants continues with 'The Inuit Snow Song' by 100th Monkey a superbly chilled psychedelic dub and by this point I'm tipping my hat at Toby's fabulous selections.

The looped sequences that kick off 'The Future's Bright the Future's Incandescent' by Radium88 immediately brought Fluke and Underworld to mind (albeit with the brakes on) upon which an ethereal vocal leads to a more eastern flavour and you'd be hard pressed to find a more chilled vocal than this. The mood turns slightly darker with a combination of eerie atmospherics and tribal beats with 'Floating World' by Spatialize but the light shines through the darkness with some lovely strings. This theme of light and dark continues with a Far East drone fusion with the Shanghai 8am mix of 'Falling Tides' by the man himself and surprisingly not under his Banco De Gaia moniker.

I'm not sure you can go much slower than the dreamy tribal dub 'Festival of Lights' by Oombata Key. Whilst the tempo is taken up a notch with 'Dimensions' by Temple Hedz this piece initially layered with guru monologue and complemented further with a lovely eastern vocal is still more than suitably chilled. Moving towards a more experimental direction with 'Project Transmissions' by The Heavenly Hundred combines soft gentle piano with fuzzy atmospherics and distorted orchestral tweaks.

Back under his Banco De Gaia pseudonym 'To the Nth Degree' threatens to bring an uplifting surge with it's opening tribal chorus but soon dips down into soothing ambience with field recordings and piano. 'It's Beautiful Mike, It Really Is' by James Eller is a wonderful combination of NASA transmissions, spacey fx and piano. Although, he may not be the first to utilise this theme with the samples it works superbly well. 'Penates' by Sam Salem drifts back to the eerie atmospheric tribal drones of some of the previous tracks and leads us to the climax 'Epiphany' by Andrew Heath where once again the piano takes centre stage in a beautifully gentle melodic piece.

To summarise as with many compilations some tracks appeal more than others. However, there are some really strong tracks on here for me and I can't say I particularly dislike any of them. The years not over yet but for me this has to be a contender for ambient album of 2015. Full marks to Mr Marks so to speak and hopefully this isn't the last we hear of his selections.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Monday, 24 August 2015

Terra Nine 'Lucid Dreaming E.P.' Review

Artist: Terra Nine

Title: Lucid Dreaming 

Label: Altar Records

Released: 12th August

Hot on the heels of the recent Karune E.P. New Zealands Mike Westcot delivers 3 new tracks comprising his unique blend of electric viola, lush ambient soundscapes, breaks and trance.

The opening track 'Field of Wishes' is an eerie journey through atmospheric down-tempo electronics and lush viola that could easily slot into the background of any sci-fi flick. While the title track 'Lucid Dreaming' has a heavier breakbeat undertone the lush strings of the over-layered viola maintain the dream like quality that the title suggests. The E.P. closes with 'Positive Vibrations' a collaboration with Transient Dreams and going by the title you could be forgiven for expecting a reggae dub fusion. The reality is a slice of glitchy psybient for the viola to spring off and soar.

Overall this release didn't leave as deep an impression on me as the Karuna E.P. However, saying that it's not a bad E.P. and very reasonably priced. As always Mike delivers a dream-like quality that appeals to me which you certainly find in this release.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Enoch Prusak 'Eye Contact' Review

Artist: Enoch Prusak

Title: Eye Contact

Label: Digital Duvet


10th August

Hot on the tail of the excellent recent Digital Duvet release 'Sunset Gliders' (a free download depending which format you're after) comes this latest album from Charles Massey's ambient side-project. What appeals to me about Charles releases as Perpetual Loop is he never seems to put his stamp whole heartedly into one genre, but rather borrows choice sounds from trance, psy-chill, electronica and summery Ibiza vibes.

The album begins in a classical style with melancholic cello and piano with subtle use of electronica and unlike his Perpetual Loop material sets a certain stamp for what's to follow. A few tracks in there's a vocal number as far as songs go I feel the making of a hit is where the union between the music and the vocal is cemented and the words spring to mind from the first few notes. Unfortunately, here this doesn't happen and the marriage between the two feels slightly out. However, he soon makes up for it here on in with lush orchestral strings, classical piano and subtle but effective synths.

To summarise this album is certainly inoffensive I guess you could call it easy listening. I'm not saying that in a negative way and I certainly can't deny the tranquillity and beauty contained within some of the pieces. Although, it may not appeal to all of the Perpetual Loop fans the album definitely shows another side of Charles approach and skills in his productions and it's a fine album for a lazy Sunday.

The limited number of CD's are only available from the Digital Duvet website, where an additional bonus digital album 'Imperfect Sphere' is available free with every purchase.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Friday, 24 July 2015

Daheen 'Purple Chillies' Review

Artist: Daheen

Title: Purple Chillies

Label: Regan Records

Released: 5th of July

I'd not come across Australian artist David Le Breton (Daheen) before he submitted this album for review but he's released a couple of albums since 1998 and upon listening I found it certainly fits the ethos of this blog. I can't tell too much about David other than he enjoys creating chill out and psy-trance and performing live with his lap-top, keyboard guitar in an array of theatrical masks and costumes. This album is a collection of his down-beat tracks amassed over several years and features the vocals of Karolina Kulczynaska-Le Breton and Dom Edwards on Digeridoo.

The aptly titled 'Rising Sun' is a lovely introduction to the album with gentle acoustics layered over mellow keys and a down-tempo didgeridoo creating an overall laid back and summery atmosphere. Next up is 'Vibratones' which maintains the acoustic elements and laid back attitude, additionally features ethereal feminine vocals and has a slightly Eastern feel to it. 'Anthropcene' on the other hand employs ecological scientific samples you would expect in a psy-dub track, however, this is a more gentle and acoustic affair more akin to 90's trip-hop and lounge.

The album changes direction with 'Tinkling' which as the title suggests begins with some classical piano but slowly evolves into a more twisted psychedelic dub, employing a number of clever tactics from dropping back to the piano adding acoustics and the ethereal vocals into the body and ambient breakdowns. Now the album gets dirtier, darker and dubbier with Australian newsreel samples on
A widely unpopular issue with 'Frackin' Hell which to me is very much in the vein of tracks such as Coldcut's 'Revolution'. Following on in a similar fashion with global issues that concern the planet reeled over a psy-dub with hard-hitting low frequency bass on 'Mass Extinction' shows the versatility of the album.

The next track 'Symphing' reverts back to the classical piano, this time accompanied by strings, brass and ethereal vocals before the dubby bass-line is featured. While 'Hope' is a psy-fused reggae dub containing vocal samples on 'Materialism' issues. The Purple Chillies mix of 'Hummingbird' begins with an African storyteller slowly introducing a gentle ambience before dropping a throbbing low frequency bass-line, hypnotic synths and acoustics. The album closes with 'Remembering' a gentle and atmospheric piece again featuring the ethereal vocals and sparse deep bass notes.

To summarise, I can't see this being the soundtrack to everyone's summer but then who wants to follow the crowd? Personally, I like this album for the elements it employs at times gentle and heavenly at others dark and dirty, at times retro sounding and others far more recent. Ultimately it serves the purpose he's set out to achieve.


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Various Artists 'The Underground Sound of Ibiza Vol 2' Review




The Underground 

Sound of Ibiza Vol 2




17th of July

Following on from the success of last years compilation this release compiled and mixed by progressive house pioneer John Digweed covers different points of the evening over 3 CD's. Here I'm going to focus on the 3rd CD '8 AM' which is aimed at post-club after party listening.

The journey unfolds with the deep and dreamy 'First Light' by Greek house DJ/producer Stelios Vassiloudis which leads into the reprise of 'Taking Over' by an another progressive house pioneer Quivver containing a stereotypical elongated lush progressive drop full to the brim with piano, chimes and vocals. While Mark Romboy takes it seriously deep and atmospheric with part 2 of his chunky new house release 'Counting Comets'.

The journey continues in a similar fashion with the beatless version of 'Sad Robot' by another veteran of the U.K. scene Nick Warren this time teaming up with Tel Aviv's Guy Mantzur. Which leads nicely into part 1 of 'Backslider' by C-Jay a slightly darker down-tempo atmospheric affair with lighter key sequences overlapping. Where as 'Wake Up Later' by Charlie May leans back to the past with Vangelis like elements evident in his piece.

The bass comes in slow and low not a million miles away from dub-step with the down-tempo version of 'Sizzles' by Brad Wilder balanced nicely with dubbed out mellow keys and spooky synths. Following on in a slightly similar fashion bass wise is 'Eagles and Butterflies' by Life in Reverse who also offer the occasional tribal drum roll, bubbling synth fx, indistinct vocal samples and distorted keys.

Then it's over to Omid 16B's underwater mix of 'Heart of Silence' with dark rumblings set amidst a lighter atmospheric backdrop. It may not be a classic like 'Escape (Driving To Heaven) but it certainly slot's into this compilation well with it's own qualities. Then the album comes to a close with 'Just Waiting' by Robert Babicz who provides a dreamy fusion with some wonderful laid-back jazzy piano keys.

To conclude as always fans of Bedrock know what to expect and this compilation won't disappoint and is available to pre-order now.

Review by Woodzee.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Exclusive interview with Evan Fraser of Dirtwire

Dirtwire is a collaboration of David Satori (Beats Antique) and Evan Fraser (Hamsa Lila, Stellamara) which places emphasis on the fusion of Americana live instrumentation and electronic sounds. They recently released their second album 'Riptide' which shot straight into the itunes world music chart at No# 1 and the Billboard world music charts at No#13 we caught up with Evan to discuss their project and their recent success.

1) You are both members of world fusion acts I imagine Dirtwire is the polar opposite focusing on the home-grown so to speak. Could you explain the Americana scene for those who like me don't really know anything about it other than it sounds like a melting pot of country, bluegrass and blues.

It doesn't feel like we're super in touch with the current Americana scene either other than what we've been exposed to at Bluegrass and folk festivals like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival and High Sierra Music Festival. We also really enjoy the music of Rising Appalachia who are good friends of ours. As far as our sound, we're drawing from so many sources including African, Latin, Indian, Blues, Country, Folk, R & B, and the different Electronica genres. We have our feet in all these worlds at the same time. Global Swamptronica sums it up pretty well I think.

2) How does the Dirtwire sound differ from other Americana artists?

Dirtwire's sound is different from other Americana – if you want to call it that, because we're blending in the sounds and instruments of the planet as well as having a firm footing in an electronic music production aesthetic. We love the juxtaposition of roots and electro together. Purists may have a hard time getting behind this but we believe it can be done tastefully. It's really how you go about it as you create the recipe, getting the ingredients to a point where you're happy with it.

3) Your recent album release 'Riptide' shot straight in at No# 1 on the itunes and No#13 on the Billboard World Charts. Did you anticipate such a rapid response to the release and with such a response do you see Dirtwire as an on-going project?

We're very happy to have charted at #13 on Billboard and #1 on iTunes. It's a pat on the back and makes us feel like we're doing something right. The response from all our fans has been incredible. We're really thrilled! Dirtwire will continue to make albums and perform as long as we're able. We love it so much and it feels like that’s what we're built for.

4) You both play a vast array of instruments on the album, how do you amalgamate this in the studio and you are playing at Sonic Bloom festival in Colorado how would this work as a live show?

Both of us have a large collection of instruments in our sound pallet. In the studio we might start with a melody, loop or a beat to get our creativity flowing then we start layering, editing, overdubbing, editing some more, etc. It's a fun and long process and we take a lot of care doing it.

On stage, since there are only two of us at this point, we are essentially performing our music compositions with an emphasis on melody to our own custom backing tracks that we build with all our organic, electric, and electronic sounds. Sometimes we do live looping as well.

5) Are there any plans to take Dirtwire to the international stage in the future?

YES! We are currently in the process of seeking an international booking agent. We want to plan tours to Europe, Central and South America. But first we're going to head back east and down south this July and August.


Monday, 22 June 2015

Various Artists 'Subtextures' Review

Artist: Various

Title: Subtextures

Label: Interchill

Released: 15th June

Following on from their 2013 compilation 'Depth Charge' Interchill's Naasko compiles a selection deep & atmospheric hybrids from the U.K., Canada, U.S.A. and Australia featuring elements of dub-step, dub-tech , jazz and electronica with one thing in common … bass! What appeals to me about this compilation is that it reaches into areas I personally felt had run their course and is a healthy reminder that by doing so I'm missing out on some really good music.

The release begins with 'Atonement' by Biome where the soulful vocal stabs and deep synth sounds bring early LTJ Bukem to mind, although the drumwork is far slower. The next track 'Pacific' by Geode is almost the opposite of Bukem with rapid sequences and vocal stabs over deep speaker shaking bass. While Jafu's 'All Clear' could also draw comparision to a slower form of drum & bass but with more laid back Jazz elements.

HxdB vs Daega Sound's 'Spheroid' continues with the trend of Jazz fusion with a repeated funky male vocal hook and atmospheric touches. After which Daega Sound fly solo with an alluring pitter-patter drum loop intro slowly introducing bleeps, glitches, reverb and vocal samples in a series of crescendo's and drops with effective results. While IMRSV's 'Zenote' is a deeply atmospheric piece with some lovely tribal drum rolls.

Dubsworth's 'Circular Reason' moves away from the previous tracks more into the direction of dub in terms of both the vocal samples and musical production bringing elements of the past right into the present with no injustice what-so-ever. Trashbat's 'Tibet' as the title suggests fuses the soothing flutes and guzheng (Chinese harp) of the orient with soulful vocal samples and a dubby bassline. The mood then switches back to a slow jazzy feel with summery acoustics and a contrasting slow and deep bass on Gyu's 'Cabasa'.

There's a classical feel and haunting mood to the synth intro of Sepia's 'Shakra' before the low growling bass is employed. While Congi's 'Pieces of' contrasts melodic keys and soulful vocals with deep distorted bass. Whereas ROwL's 'Aikido' takes a distinctively dubby journey with a lot of focus on the drum patterns behind the synth and vocal voices.

Matt Deco continues the dubby trend with his deeply atmospheric 'Boom Bap' and Commit brings the album to a close with an elongated and quiet intro before dropping the lush dub-tech main body of 'Atlantis'.

Review by Woodzee.

Links …