Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Artist: Banco De Gaia

Title: Last Train To Lhasa
20th Anniversary Edit

Label: Disco Gecko Recordings

Released: 14th Feb on Bandcamp &
30th March Elsewhere

Following last year's release of the 20th Anniversary Edition of 'Maya' comes this little re-mix e.p. containing the original and a number of modern re-mixes as a pre-cursor for a non-digital 20th Anniversary release of the album. For me 'Shanti' is my all-time favourite Banco track and would sit highly among my top ambient tracks ever. That said this track is still a stunning piece of work which contained all the right ingredients at the time and still appeals to me today.

This release begins with the original it's not the first time the sound of the train has been utilised in electronica (I doubt it will be the last). Kraftwerk's 'Trans-Europe Express' and even more importantly 'Metal on Metal' instantly springs to mind. But while that provided an industrial feel to a European journey Banco creates the setting of a steamy jungle excursion ascending into the mountains of Tibet. As I mentioned previously all the right ingredients are here with an infectious electronic sequence, flutes and eastern vocals layered over a chugging train which is perfect for laying back and casting the minds eye and yet danceable enough for the early hours.

First up on the re-mix duties is Altar Records, Astropilot who takes the track further into an ambient space with a trance like approach. Just as this version starts to get mundane a subtle but effective percussion is added. However, ongoing this version doesn't hold my attention. Although, obviously work well in a ambient trance/space music set and may well appeal to others.

This is followed by an edit which emphasises the train and vocals and although the other ingredients follow, it has a less danceable approach than the original. All in all, it's a good alternative imo especially for slotting into a chill out set.

Slinder whose bootleg version of Banco's 'Heliopolis' brought him to the attention of Disco Gecko, takes the track to the dancefloor with a progressive house twist. Initially I found his take a little repetitive but it grew on me in the latter half after a lush breakdown.

Finally (and exclusive to bandcamp) is the eighteen minute long 'Very Extended Ambient Mix' which as the title suggests prolongs the journey for the long haul traveller. Utilising all those luscious ingredients with stretches, reverb and the occasional swoosh. Very nice indeed and at £3 for the whole release it's money well spent.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Friday, 13 February 2015

Nickodemus 'Wonderworld: 10 Years of Painting Outside The Lines' Review

Artist: Nickodemus

Title: Wonderworld:
10 Years of Painting Outside The lines

Label: Wonderwheel Recordings

Released: 24th February

Wonderworld is a mix cd featuring tracks released over the last 10 years by Nickodemus and friends. Although I have to wonder about the marketability of such an item in the current climate where dj mixes are readily available to stream in abundance, even from a chap whose Turntables on the Hudson parties feature esteemed guests such as Bonobo and Giles Peterson from here in the U.K. as well as high quality home grown talent Stateside. However, I'm a fan of the Wonderwheel output and Nickodemus especially, I find his productions a musical smorgasboard of latin, funk, afro-beat, dub, hip-hop and house that usually hits the spot fusing joys of the past with a modern twist.

Coming from this angle I found the mix contains a good number of classics from his three album releases. For me I really enjoyed the fact they are all there in one sitting and as I'm always plucking tracks from different sources when compiling a mix it's something I'd never have created. So on the other hand I'd imagine if your a lover of say Tito Puente, Baba Maal & Jurassic 5 or Thievery Corporation & Quantic but not familiar with Nickodemus or Wonderwheel it's a wonderful insight into their releases. Plus there's the added bonus of downloading the tracks featured individually in the price.

To summarise I really couldn't see myself buying a dj mix cd these days. But as files so easily disappear into the void those who still (like myself) keep the cream on cd with a selection such as this I really can't see any reason why not.

Review by Woodzee


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Temple Hedz 'Coming Home E.P.' Review

Artist: Temple Hedz

Release: Coming Home E.P.

Label: New Division Ltd

Released: 23rd February

Temple Hedz is the brain-child of Paul Savery inspired by the likes of Banco De Gaia where live shows in the past have often been propelled into eager crowds alongside a full backing band. After several years in the wilderness Paul is staging a come back with a new album in the pipeline, as well as stepping back on the festival circuit in 2015. If you're a regular listener of our 'Chill Out Sessions' radio show on you may well remember the excellent mish-mash of global electronica and live instrumentation of Paul's guest mix which featured more than a fair few of his own tracks.

This E.P. starts in the clich├ęd manner with the title track 'Coming Home'. From the word go the Banco influence is obvious with audio samples, tribal chants and vocodered indie like vocal stabs fused over multiple electronic layers providing an overall uplifting feel with psychedelic twitches and dubby basslines.

Following this is a cover of the Cure's 'A Forest' now although I'm a fan of a fair amount of their output in the 80's it wouldn't be my choice as there's already been the 'Tree Mix' on 'Mixed Up' and Mark Plati's drum n bass version on 'Join The Dots'. I've previously mentioned this to Paul and he said it's was always going to be this, as it's a song close to his heart because he used to play it regularly with a band in his youth. Having said that I don't dislike the original and as covers go it's a deeply layered sonic instrumental, that's also an interesting dance alternative which easily holds it's head alongside the others previously mentioned.

Next up is the Doppler Theory mix of 'Tashi' and this guitar laden fusion of Indian vocals and psychedelic electronica is my pick of the bunch. The vocals grabbed me instantaneously whilst the track drifts from indie fused electronica into psychedelica and back with relative ease.

The final track dimensions is a more laid back affair beginning with a stereo-typical but none-the-less apt spoken audio of the swami or guru which is later exchanged and enhanced with ethereal female vocals layered over the flutes and chimes of the Far East.

Overall this is a sterling little collection of mid and down tempo output from Paul which I've no doubt will appeal to festival goers this summer. So I'd recommend fans of Toby Marks dig in and have a listen as personally I look forward to the album with eager ears.

Review by Woodzee.

Links …

Monday, 2 February 2015

MCTHFG 'Materials: Part One' Review

Artist: MCTHFG

Title: Materials: Part One

Label: Dubmission Records

Released: 2nd February 2015

This is MCTHFG a.k.a. Seoul based Christopher Wing's first single released on Dubmission records with another to follow next in March. I have no idea what his sobriquet relates to (apparently a closely guarded secret). However, Christopher does reveal that his music is inspired by 80's sci-fi movies and dub, which is a perfect platform in my humble opinion.

The single contains an 18 minute long version of 'Oscillation Overthruster' which is then sliced into 3 sections (in order to make the single more readily available over certain platforms). So for the purposes of this review I'll cover the smaller sections.

Part One begins with sequential tones layered over an atmosphere, which I can relate to the science fiction films previously mentioned. Although there's a subtle use of reverberation it takes a couple of minutes for the dub to surface prominently. Although, deep bass notes and percussion are utilised it's balanced with gentle keys and fx providing an ambient dub feel to the piece.

Part Two starts with a different approach, with what I'd describe as vacuum in space atmosphere and then, almost immediately kicks into a melodic acidic dub. However, this is short lived as the track soon transcends into a gentler production more akin to Part One.

Part Three although retaining a laid back feel, drops heavier beats with plenty of oscillations (as the title suggests) alongside string and piano interludes. Although, I can relate to the suggested Sci-fi influence and the drum sounds have an 80's sound I still find myself making comparisons to the ambient dub of the early 90's.

To summarise this release the production is obviously aimed as a retro chill out piece for those who prefer the dub approach. It's probably better to listen to the track as a whole enjoying the journey rather than in the parts alongside other tracks.

Review by Woodzee.


Monday, 12 January 2015

Liquid Bloom 'Heart of the Shamans: Ceremonial Medicine Songs' Review

Liquid Bloom

Heart of the Shamans: 
Ceremonial Medicine Songs

Label: White Swan Records

Released: 27th Jan 2015

Liquid bloom is a side project of Amani Friend (of the Desert Dwellers) with a focus on trance music, trance music that is in the traditional sense rather than the dance genre of the modern day. Drawing inspiration from indigenous ceremonial dances of New Mexico’s deserts and pueblos, and sacred traditional ayahuasca invocations from Amazonian rainforest cultures.

The album’s liner notes offer guidance for participatory, immersive listening. A succession of mudras – traditional hand gestures from India believed to provide physical points of reference and increase energy flow throughout the body – are also suggested to enhance the participant’s experience, each specific to one of the album’s six major compositions.

The release begins in a dark and moody manner with 'Ceremony of the Heart' balanced with flutes, ethereal vocals, chants and field recordings of nature and the piece gradually becomes more soothing the further you progress. In contrast 'Cosmic Soul Lotus' focuses more on the vocal aspect which I can only compare to a wonderful mish-mash of Jose Padilla and Azam Ali.

Once again 'Healing Fire Breath' contains ethereal and alluring vocals but comes across more as a song than a ceremonial chant layered over slow tribal rhythms, didge and flutes. The spoken words on 'Temple of the Goddess' are once again reminiscent to Jose Padilla's 'Navigator' album layered over ethereal vocals, chimes and field recordings of nature.

The spoken word of 'Ecstatic Grounding' switches to male vocal as an introduction to the feminine main body of the piece while the back ground music combines the sounds of India and Arabic percussion. While 'Sacred Blessing' is more soothing, the percussion is dropped for chimes and field recordings of nature and the feminine and masculine vocals overlap. While the 'Relaxation Tape' like spoken words are vaguely reminiscent.

As an added bonus there's also two tracks re-mixed by Medicina 'Jaguar Dreaming' and 'Roots of the Earth' which although are more dance orientated they're far from hectic more akin to Lumin's 'Ketri' album.

On my first listen I guess I wasn't in the right mood but re-visting a few weeks later the experience was completely different. Having previously heard Ixchel Prrisma vocals for a Desert Dwellers e.p. only one of the tracks grabbed me. But alongside Sarah West, Robert Mirabel and Rara Avis these collective vocals come to the forefront and really shine on this release.

Review by Woodzee.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Radioactive Sandwich 'Mirage Remixed' Review

Artist: Radioactive Sandwich

Title: Mirage Remixed

Label: Self Release

Released: 16th December

After ten years of fusing global and psychedelic sounds with electronica RS have amassed an ever growing network of fellow producers. So they decided to offer their biggest selling album so far to a number of their friends and rising electronic musicians and this album is the result.

The release begins with a re-mix of 'Into the Desert' by themselves. The piece begins in a drone like manner creating a spacious feel around the accompanying tribal drums. The main body is a heady mix of spacey synth tones and dubbed out bass lines with some haunting interludes setting a good standard for their guests to live up to. Next up is the Space Jesus re-mix of 'A Broken Reality' a stop-start temple bass number which toys with both the harmonious eastern vocal and fx in the obligatory manner to reach the desired effect.

While Audioglider changes the mood and takes 'An Echo is a Shadow of Sound' into the realms of Balearic chill. The piece chugs along nicely between the elongated and beatless vocal breakdown … lovely stuff. The style then switches back again with Essek's  re-work of 'Sullen Choirboy' where dirty dub-step intermittently pokes it's ugly head above a chilled out backdrop.

Kurbeat's take on 'Sigogglin' builds a crescendo early on but jumps ship before the peak toying with the acoustics Balkan and reggae sounds in a twisted yet fluid manner. Whereas Supersillyus delivers a lush slice of psy-dub with his re-work of 'Time Dilation' which in places felt reminiscent of Warp Technique. Once again there's plenty of toying around with the vocal samples and lush harmonies resulting in a sterling version.

The mood switches once again with Skytree and Jake Spikes re-interpretation of 'Bhagwan' a dark carnatic hip-hop fusion with psychedelic, pagan and alien themed lyrics. A combination that rarely fails for me. The album then winds down with the RS duo again on 'Leaving the Desert' an outro of drone like fuzzy low frequency ambience and sparse piano bass notes with distorted prayers.

Pre-order and also receive an exclusive bonus track 'Mirage Remixed (Sliced Up and Slowed Down)'

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Monday, 8 December 2014

Deep Fried Dub 'Stir Fried E.P.' Review

Artist: Deep Fried Dub

Title: Stir Fried E.P.

Label: Dubmission

Digital ... 11th November
CD ... 15th December

A year after the release of their album 'Slow Cooked' the duo from down under have finally announced the release of the re-mixes from that album on Dubmission Records.

The starter for this five course meal is Mislead Convoy's Luminosity re-mix of 'Shine' which takes the track down the darker corridors of dub and although there are slightly different themes within the track, for me it loses the soul and vibrancy of the original.

The bpm's drop with Nahuati Jaguar's take of 'Kaos' an atmospheric piece where percussively at times the odd drum & bass rolls are injected. However, once again it's not really grabbing me.

Numatica take on 'Submerge' is an interesting combination of classical stringed ska with slower passages of acoustic fused reggae. I found this quite an original sound and it was pleasing to the ear.

Meeting by Chance's re-mix of 'Kryptology' balances this traditional sounding melodica laden dub with a slow paced yet pounding beat that would have worked well on a Roman war galley.

'100 Ire' prepared by E.R.S. who wastes little time in releasing the groove overlaid with hypnotic keys and fx that balance nicely with the vocal reggae snippets. This is definitely the most upbeat track of the e.p. and works well enough for me.

Overall this isn't a bad e.p. but on the whole it doesn't offer too much that grabs me over the original. The biggest disappointment for me was the exclusion of 'Snake Oil' which was my favourite on the album.

Reviewed by Woodzee.