Monday, 3 December 2018

Gypsy Hill 'Producing' Review






Artist: Gypsy Hill



Title: Producing



Label: Batov Records



Released: 9th November 2018











A collaboration between DJ Kobayashi and Herbert Newbert, in Gypsy Hill they bring together the balls and the brass from the Balkans, surf-rock Mediterranean guitar lines, Arabic & Jewish melodies, massive bass-lines and a whole heap of electronics, scratching and beats. Having previously worked on re-mixes they decided to invite artists to the studio to collaborate for this album.


The release commences alongside Kobi Israelite on ‘Special Brew’ which drifts between the aforementioned surf-rock Mediterranean guitar lines, Balkan brass and the snake charmer of the Arabian bazaar. It’s exactly what you’d expect and it’s a catchy ditty that works equally well foot tapping or hand clapping. Next on the agenda they team up with Simo Lagnawi on ‘Gzeyel Meyel’ subtly blending along with his style of Gnawa (Moroccan Folk).


Composer, saxophonist and ethnomusicologist Alejandro Toldoe joins the throng on ‘Can’t Pay The Rent’ where horns and guitars carry you along over the tribal percussion. The next track is advertised as only featuring Gypsy Hill on Hallouminati’s ‘Late Junkies’. Hailing from Nottingham and fusing Punk with Balkan Beats and Greek music, this seems almost natural to merge alongside Gypsy Hill, with some added Bouzaki and a touch of plate smashing wouldn’t go amiss.


The next collaboration is alongside the Swingrowers on ‘Sugar’, as you might expect this is a swing but there’s a little extra oomph on percussion and electronics but not as full on as electro-Swing. Moving on they are joined by international collective the Turbans on ‘Funtashlikh’, mashing together eastern European and Middle Eastern sounds this pacy number rolls along nicely and is made to drag you to the dancefloor.


Koby Israelite returns on ‘Rural Ghost’ with more guitar fused Middle Eastern vibes before the final piece ‘Six Steps’ by D.I.N. (Drowned in Noise) feat. Gypsy Hill which sounds like a fusion of bluegrass and horn with a suitably drawn out vocal.


To summarise I like Gypsy Hill’s productions and highly recommend a live show, where they really come into their own. This album doesn’t steer too far from their previous work and also works well as introduction to some if not all of the collaborators.

Review by Woodzee


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Thursday, 29 November 2018

Pan Electric 'Step Out' Review




Artist: Pan Electric



Title: Step Out



Label: Liquid Sound Design




Released: 7th December 2018







This new release from Matt Coldrick features a combination of new productions and re-works from the past, such as his first single under this moniker ‘Shadow Hunters’ on Flying Rhino twenty years ago. I must admit I was blissfully unaware of this production at the time and it wasn’t until 2007 I picked up on tracks from ‘Conscious Pilot’ on a One World Music podcast. At that point it was an instant purchase and remains a firm favourite. So I was pleased to see a couple of the tracks given a fresh lick on here.


The album begins with the title track ‘Step Out’ which at just over 13 minutes combines piano, lush ambient tones, Balearic guitar and a fitting vocal hook which work in phases throughout the track maintaining the interest. The next track ‘Half World’ adds a few more minutes entwining elements of dubbed out electronica, folk and at times sounding somewhat akin to Eat Static around the time of the ‘Implant’ album.


The album continues with a more typical length on ‘Rhythm Is A Sense (Quarter World) where a shuffling rhythm is over layered with spoken samples and ambient dub like tones and bleeps. Following on is the 2018 version of ‘Rising Slowly’ one of my favourite pieces from ‘Conscious Pilot’, this version retains everything that I loved about the original, the vocal harmonies and blues guitar licks that give a nod to 70’s prog rock, Matt just adds suitably placed dub echoes and a deeper bass. This is followed by the album mix of ‘Sweet As Rain’ where African vocals are layered over electro-folk which absolutely maintains the laid back atmosphere of the album.


We then move onto the aforementioned Fractal Kiss re-mix of ‘Shadow Hunters’ which is probably the most uplifting track of the album, switching from melodic harmonies to touches of trance. The final piece is the Veena mix of ‘Always A Way’ my favourite from Conscious Pilot. The added vocal sample works well in the sense that I felt I could relate to the lyrics of the original and this now implies could it also apply to artificial intelligence? That aside it works it’s way slowly luring you into the crescendo you know will follow, where the vocal harmonies (which once again harp back to the days of prog rock) work perfectly in tandem with the ambient electronica.


To summarise if your already a fan of Matt’s music then this fresh take on the pinnacle of his productions is subtle enough not to ruin any of your favourites, yet interesting enough to bag a copy as it’s a joy to listen to in it’s own right. For me it’s up there as a contender in my best Chill Out albums of 2018.


Reviewed by Woodzee.




Links






Monday, 5 November 2018

Animat 'The Last Man' Review






Artist: Animat



Title: The Last Man



Label: Disco Gecko



Released: 9th November










Animat specialise in developing and performing new soundtracks to existing cult films, and have played live at cinemas, festivals and other venues throughout the U.K.


This November they are revisiting their soundtrack to the 1964 post-apocalyptic horror fantasy ‘The Last Man On Earth’ which stars Vincent Price as scientist Robert Morgan, the one man apparently immune to a virus that has killed 90% of the earth’s population and transformed the survivors into vampire-like creatures.


Originally toured in 2011, the film inspired the album ‘Imaging Ghosts’, first released by Big Chill Recordings, and this collection brings together the highlights from that album together with exclusive new re-workings plus remixes from Deep Dive Corp, DF Tram, The Verbrilli Sound and Disco Gecko’s own Andrew Heath.


As a fan of Vincent Price, this film and partial to Animat’s productions this was of instant interest to me. I found myself eager to hear the results and slightly sad I hadn’t witnessed the audio/visual experience. Beginning with ‘Ghost People’ a dub reggae tinged piece of electronica, that embraces a bit of warmth amongst the colder passages along with a touch of electric guitar. This is followed by the Forest Fires mix of ‘September Falls’ which doesn’t alter the mood too much with plenty of dubbed out guitar licks. The Only Seen At Night mix of ‘Throwing Shapes’ grips me instantly with a Vincent Price vocal sample running over the bass guitar. The piece soothes out before sequences are slowly added that expertly build back to the bass guitar before dropping off again. My attention is retained with ‘Gogo’s Dub’ a mellow piece of dubbed out electronica containing some wonderful harmonic voices.


Vincent’s distinctive voice is utilised alongside mellow dubbed out electronica once again, with the 2018 Revamp of ‘International Frequency’. By this point I’m beginning to imagine how this soundtrack works with the movie. The next piece Verbrillis Windy Accumulation Mix of ‘A Promise of Snow’ maintains a similar vibe with a slightly more atmospheric vibe as you probably gathered from the title. By now I’ve reached the first of the guest re-mixes with Deep Dive Corp’s take on ‘Ghost People’ which is subtly done, a little more heavy on the drums and a touch of reverb adding to the groove.


Andrew Heaths re-mix of ‘Throwing Shapes’ omits the Vincent Price samples and instead tinkers on the ivories, this gives a whole new feel to the piece and personally I love them both. Next on the agenda is the DF Tram & Future B.C. re-mix of ‘Gogo’s Dub’ where the vocal samples are twisted and chopped and the fx bubble away nicely. Finally to see us out is The Only Michael’s Ambient Mix of ‘Earplay’ where ambient strings give way to dubbed out sequences only to return for the finale.



Review by Woodzee


Links …





Friday, 2 November 2018

SaQi & SuRaj 'Dust into Gold' Review







Artist: SaQi & SuRaj



Title: Dust into Gold



Label: Desert Trax



Released: 16th November










When I first saw this release advertised I initially thought I have no idea who these guys are, but I was intrigued at the promise of a deep fusion of progressive electronic downtempo and dance music with a variety of Middle-Eastern realms of sound. I’m still none the wiser to the previous productions of SaQi an electro-acoustic producer and trumpet player. However, SuRaj a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist has performed for many years as part of of the Qawwali ensemble Fanna fi Allah. Throwing several guest vocalists into the melting pot and a couple of re-mixes added to the anticipation.


The album begins with the title track and features the vocals from Shazieh Shah, which I found to be melodic and rather than the Azam Ali’esque vocals I expected, I found the whole piece closer to Massive Attack with Tracey Thorn. The next track named ‘SuRaj’ I expect as his Oud performance provides a backbone to the synth and flute melodies that accompany the piece. Moving on the direction changes once more with Eastern European flavour of ‘Babushka’ featuring Sarasvati Dasi (who has worked with the Polish Ambassador) and placing more focus on the trumpet of SaQi.


Once again the style changes with the Sufi number ‘Taje Dare’ featuring SuRaj’s band Fanna fi Allah fused perfectly with SaQi’s trumpet. Then it switches back to more of the downtempo Massive Attack style with ‘Higher Place’ this time featuring vocals from Pepper Proud. Sarasvati Dasi returns on ‘Anu Pama’ which returns to the desert in a stereotypical fashion.


We then encounter the first of the re-mixes with Treavor Moontribes take on the title track under his Forever and Ever pseudonym, which adds a slightly growling electronic emphasis to the piece. Once again the emphasis switches back to the acoustic this time fusing the skills of renowned Israeli oud player Atallah with SaQi’s trumpet. The final piece of the jigsaw is the SAAND re-mix of ‘Higher Place’ where I think he injects a bit of magic to the piece, which wasn’t bad to begin with.


To summarise this release may not be on everyone’s radar. However, if you like your electronic world fusions to contain real instruments, it’s definitely worth giving it your ears at least once and you really can’t fault them for variety.


Reviewed by Woodzee


Links



Sunday, 21 October 2018

Youth & Gaudi 'Astronaut Alchemists' Review








Artist: Youth & Gaudi



Title: Astronaut Alchemists



Label: Liquid Sound Design



Released: Dec 2018









Comprising two producers whose careers have been heavily entwined with dub, simultaneously in the studio. With Youth on bass, Gaudi on keys and taking turns in the knob twiddling studio fx. So on paper this promises to be an album of interest to fans of this genre. Therefore, it stands to reason that the question is does it live up to the expectation?


The album opens with ‘Bass Weapon’ a stereo-typical piece of dub reggae comprising low frequency bass, keys and lots of reverb. Initially, it fulfils what you would expect from a dub reggae tune with nothing to stand out from the crowd. However, around two minutes in there are some uplifting strings which unfortunately are short lived. I felt this was remedied somewhat with ‘The Gods must be Crazy’ a far more interesting piece in my opinion, which although maintains an old skool feel I could imagine enjoying on a speaker shaking sound system.


As I moving through the album I think I’m able to answer my question above. It does live up to expectation in the sense it’s well produced and arguably could hold it’s head high amongst some of the classic albums of the genre. However, where I feel it’s lacking is it’s nothing new even down to the samples on ‘Apollo’ (which were to be expected I guess considering the album title) utilised countless times before.


That said I can imagine the live performance will be rocking and those in and around London at the time the launch party is being held at Bloc in Hackney Wick, London on Friday the 7th of December. You can book your tickets via https://accessallareas.org/listings/youth-gaudi/


Review by Woodzee


Links

https://liquidsounddesignuk.bandcamp.com/album/youth-gaudi-astronaut-alchemists





Monday, 8 October 2018

Various Artists 'Strange-Eyed Constellations 2' Review






Artist: Various




Title: Strange Constellations 2




Label: Disco Gecko Recordings




Released: 19th Oct 2018









The second release in this series, which places the focus on downtempo grooves, atmospheric soundscapes and ambient moods, mixing field recordings, classical instruments and electronics. Combining artists from the Disco Gecko label, associates of Toby Marks and a few which came as a result of asking a wider audience to send in their tracks for consideration. While the artwork chosen to complement the music once again fell to Zoe Heath (possibly the wife or a relative of Andrew?)


The album begins with Simon Power a games and film soundtrack producer who has created soundscapes for none other than Doctor Who! This piece entitled ‘Immerse’ layers classical piano over spacey atmospherics and while relatively short is a wonderful intro to the album. This is suitably followed by Banco de Gaia’s ‘Pavlov’s Children’ which delivers an eerie sense of descent as the atmospheric synths transports you into a chasm of monks chants and intangible spoken samples. Next on the agenda is Halcyon Daze’s ‘Orbiting a Distant Star’ which is a more string infused piece of electronica with Clanger’esque sound fx, that never cause any disharmony to the gentle beauty of the piece.


The atmospheric mood re-emerges with Experiments in Silence ‘Cerulaena side project from Spatalize (Neil Butler) I would draw comparison with Banco de Gaia, with some of the synth sounds floating alongside heavenly choral voices and chimes which blend seamlessly into the sound fx utilised, this really is an exceptional piece of work. I could be wide of the mark assuming the next track is one of the submitted pieces but I can’t say I am familiar with Project Transmission. However, I can say ‘At Dusk’ the track in question, sounds like a field recording of walking through a sodden marsh accompanied by an eerie electronic drone, while the sound of pipes entice you to follow and escape to freedom. The mood lightens somewhat and you almost sense you are stepping out of the marsh, with what I guess is the second of the submitted pieces ‘Beast from the East’ by Peter Toll. Where gentle delayed organ sounds are suitably counter-balanced with natural field recordings.


Label boss Toby Marks drops the Banco de Gaia moniker on this production ‘Sleep, Boy and Dream’ quite possibly, as it is far removed from his more groove guided world dance or ambient dub productions. Switching from gentle field recordings and spooky sound fx to electronic drones which at times times build a foreboding sense of terror. Another unfamiliar name to myself, Glenn Marshall restores the calm with a suitably ambient piece of electronica entitled ‘Spring Shade’. This is followed by a collaboration by Toby Marks and Andrew Heath, a short piece of field recordings, electronica and Andrew’s trademark piano.


The apples not falling far from the tree with the next piece ‘Falls’, again by an artist I’m personally not familiar with Phonsonic. A slow burning piece of electronica, where indistinct voices wash over the atmospheric backbone alongside the deeper bass notes. The strings employed by yet again another name I’m unfamiliar with Simon McCorry, initially provide a Celtic folk feel to ‘Anima Mechanica’, which transcends into far more of a classical piece throughout. The compilation comes to a close with ‘In the Presence of Angels’ where an aptly gentle piano and lovely guitar strings nestle in amongst the synth voices, a combination that embodies everything I love about Andrew Heath’s productions.


To summarise I don’t think this album has as much variation as it’s predecessor and in some cases may not appeal to those looking for an album of ambient dub or world music infused chill out. However, if when the mood takes me, then this is an album that appeals to me, it’s an immersive, experimental journey which I found to be very thought provoking and at times simply beautiful.


Reviewed by Woodzee.


Links



Saturday, 29 September 2018

alucidnation 'Paracosmic' review





Artist: alucidnation




Title: Paracosmic




Label: Lucid Recordings




Released: 12th Oct 2018









Bruce Bickerton returns with another pure analogue release of electronic chill out, maintaining the format that gained him regular bookings at the Big Chill festivals throughout the noughties that took his productions to audiences around the globe.


This album begins with the short, simplistic and yet soothing intro ‘Take Flight’ which leads nicely into ‘Losing my Mind’ where the old skool bassline and vocal harmonies harp back to the Ibiza beach bar sound of the 90’s. The album continues to stamp an old skool impression upon me as I continue to listen through pleasant background music that either conjures up images of the Balearic beach or lazy days at an English riverbank.


That’s not to say there wasn’t tracks that rocked the boat somewhat (no pun intended) such as ‘Canoe Dreams’ which begins with a Folktronica feel leading into subtle 303 and sampled dialogue of a boy about his toy canoe. Which was followed by a more 303 structured piece ‘Supernova’ over layered with a space themed physics dialogue, which although is nothing new not only did it work well with the piece it held my interest in it’s own right.


In my opinion if you’re either a fan of Bruce’s work in general or fancy some fresh material in an old skool style, then this would probably suit you down to the ground for your moments of relaxation. The release is available in both CD and vinyl formats, which I would imagine goes hand in hand as a preferable format for those who seek out this sound.


Review by Woodzee


Links