Monday, 6 October 2014

Gus Till - Ghosts Of The Earth Review

Artist: Gus Till

Release: Ghosts Of The Earth

Label: Interchill Records

Released: 30th September 2014

Now although Gus Till may not be a household name he's certainly been lurking in the background alongside a fair few. From his humble beginnings in Melbourne's punk/new wave scene of the late 70's he was part of Michael Hutchences band 'Max Q' and jumped on the emerging dance scence of the late 80's as part of Third Eye. Re-locating to England in the 90's he was a studio engineer for Flying Rhino as well as working with Jamirioqui, Manu Dibango, Todd Terry, System 7, Adam Freeland, Bim Sherman and many more. These days Gus is based in Bali releasing solo material and is one half of Zen Lemonade alongside his significant other.

The concept of this album is that no matter how far technologically we evolve there are still cultures in the world who are deeply rooted in our past. Which lays a foundation for a combination of electronic and organic with a tribal edge and features Steve Hillage on guitar, Chika Asamoto on Sax and percussion by Rip Van Hippy . My first impressions of this album is it's very different to 'Between The Silence' the only other solo release I have, which leans far more to minimal tribal chill.

The album begins with 'We Advanced The Masked' with groovy guitars and slightly vocodered vocals, there's bursts of prog rock and tribal chants before Steve lets fly. It's a real hard one to pigeon hole and although there's plenty going on with all the little background loops and fx it never sounds too crowded. The next track 'Sunset' changes direction it's very reminiscent of the Miles Davis re-mix album 'Panthalessa' with a tribal edge, sterling stuff!

There's two things I can say about this album 1) the production is second to none and 2) the combination of electronic and organic music is highly unique 'So Long Emergency' for example is dreamy and soulful with a few Sphongle'esque twists and more than a touch of Hillage. While the title track sounds like Herbie Hancock's been dragged through the jungle and thrown into a dingy dark dancefloor. 

As with most albums there's a couple of intro fillers which in this case are superbly layered and cleverly thought out and a couple of down-tempo no's more akin to the album I mentioned previously. Now, although I can't say this album will be to everyone's taste I highly advise you give it a listen.

Review by Woodzee.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Alpha Wave Movement 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 how you started your musical career?

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to interview.

I began my early interests in music at the age of 12 when my family purchased a old Magnus electric organ the children learn on with the black major and minor chords on the side panel. I had no prior knowledge or understanding of how music was created but my curiosity began there with that cheap little organ. I later took up the trumpet in junior high school and later in High School discovered new age music which led to progressive rock, jazz and electronic music. I am for the most part a self trained/taught musician with only the scratch rudimentals of music schooling.

As a side note Id like to say that back in the day (i.e pre digitalia in the 1980s) you could buy records in the cutout bins of record stores for practically nothing. This was a goldmine for curious people like me who had a smidgeon of interest in the pop world but more enthusiasm for what was (un)vogue or what I considered alternative to the mainstream force-feeding available on the radio. I discovered Jean Michel Jarre, Kitaro, Synergy, Terje Rypdal all because the L.P.'s cover art was amazing and the list of equipment even more so.

In my early teens I managed to save enough money for a Moog Micromoog in High School and dove deep into analog synthesis. The 80's was an era of new and emerging technology i.e. Yamaha DX7 and so forth no one wanted the Moogs, so you could get these gems everywhere for next to nothing.

In the early 1990s I managed to acquire a few inexpensive synthesizers and an old Yamaha QX sequencer and this led me into the dominions and ethos of creativity on a solo level. I was through at the time playing in local bands where I mainly played bass and never felt the need to carbon copy someone else's music. My disinterest in ego and and drug culture led me on a shall we say creative path to tonal bliss!

2) In media articles you're often cited as drawing on the 70's progressive rock, space music and new age in your own pieces. Could you tell us how you set about simulating this sound in your approach and your studio set up?

Those influences are spot on but I used them as fodder for directing my creative energy towards my own music composing goals which I have to admit are all over the place. Re-creating is not something I consciously set out to do when composing, however every musician, painter etc has their influences which will inevitably permeate their music. 

As far as the studio set-up I do tend to lean towards a diversity in my sound palate and enjoy the old analog style or virtual analog hands on synthesizer but I mix more modern sample based synthesizer into the mix for timbal diversity and I like the digital clarity against the more muddier grittier sounds of analog modeling. My interest compositionally varies from very minimalistic to heavier composed dynamic music not unlike the influences mentioned.

3) How much has your studio set up changed since the mid-90's and are there any pieces of hardware or software that you still use today?

In the 1990s and early 2000's I tended to have more gear than I needed and it was all hardware maybe 5-7 synthesizers/workstations/modules which tend to get a bit cluttered in a small apartment. I like to live in a more sparse setting its easy to succumb to gear lust so over the years and with the rise of better sounding and space efficient technology i.e. laptops, software synthesizer I shed a lot of my access baggage. I really like to get as much as I can out of a piece of gear. I don't believe quantity of gear necessarily will equal quality of a music composition. Its how you approach that end result and whether you are doing this for yourself and not for some cookie cutter music label thats out to exploit the latest trendy music. I believe true art is made for the selfish purpose of the artist and relegated 100% to financial upward mobility this does not negate the artist being compensated for his or her works as I do NOT believe in free music ideology either.

4) Aside from the space music aspect which other artists have influenced your sound?

Well that is a very long list! Ill just say this theres a lot of great music under the layers of mainstream detritus to the point that one can be overwhelmed.
Over the last 20 years I can honestly say everything from Camel, Genesis, Ozric Tentacles, Lyle Mays, Mark Isham especially his Vapor Drawings album to Eno and Steve Roach's very early ambient works.

Nature is also a very strong aesthetic conduit to channeling new music for me. I am also keen to more electronic film composers of the 70s and 80s like Jerry Goldsmith, John Carpenter/Alan Howarth and Mark Snow. Theres also Wolfgang Voigt (aka. GAS) and some of the early 2000 IDM and dub techno music that I have a lot of respect for and inadvertently influences my music to some extent.

5) You've released three albums this year Horizons, Archaic Frontiers & Celestial Chronicles. Did you take a different approach in constructing or compiling these albums?

Horizons was recorded over a period of years and recently I put the pieces into a coherent album. The music on Horizons is much more thematic and almost cinematic in feel and would not quite have fit into feel of some other releases. I tend to like to try as best as I can to make my releases consistent throughout each separate release. Celestial is an extension of my continual interest in the science of space exploration and the mysteries of the cosmos a theme I regularly use as a mainspring for creating music. Archaic and Frontiers tend to be more serene/reflective with rhythmic and melodic statements not as dominant.

Archaic Frontiers and my previous two similar release Drifted Into Deeper Lands and Eolian Reflections are sort of genetic siblings of one another in that they are all drawn from my journeys visiting the arid and desert landscapes of the southwestern US. There something incredibly humbling and almost spiritual walking thru the mesas and canyons in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico where the land is quiet and detached from the noise and toxicity of the urban jungles. Its place for reflection and connection to the world I live in at least from a personal experience. These places I find to be a bastion of inspiration for my music.

6) You've released 22 albums as Alpha Wave Movement as well as others under Within Reason, Thought Guild & Open Canvas. What's the difference between the projects?

The Within Reason music tends to have a lot more environmental/field recordings mixed into the music and its not as grandiose(at times) as AWM. I sort of flex my creative muse when I record under different project names. I do this for the sole reason that I do not want to mislead my audience into purchasing an Alpha Wave cd and then being turned away when they hear ethnic chants and Indian sitars. I think shifting gears is very cathartic for me compositionally and allows for me to "stretch" my abilities into other avenues.

The Open Canvas project was always focused on accentuating the middle eastern rhythms and melodies into my music and therefore was never intended as being marketed if you will as Alpha Wave Movement. I draw from many areas of interests mainly because I am a tad of a voracious music listener/consumer as well and do feel the need to listen to music other than my own because of the diversity in creative musical minds out here it would be a shame not to!

7) You've also had a track featured in the television program 'True Blood' and another on 'Grand Theft Auto IV' they're both extremely popular. How did this come about?

Grand Theft Auto I believe coalesced via Rockstar Games whom I believed discovered my music via I-Tunes or Myspace(this was back in the pre-Facebook days) and picked-up music from my 90s Alpha Wave Movement debut Transcendence and recently the True Blood came about thru the work of the Waveform label owner Forrest whom released my ethnic electronic project Open Canvas many years ago.

To be honest I feel very humble to have my music used beyond the fundamental territories of radio, podcasts and downloads. Listening to my music in an alt setting such as a game or television is sometimes a strange ephemeral experience and something I feel very grateful for. At the end of the day I am still an independent musician regardless of the television gigs. Its a lot of work for many of us just to get the word out and having given a chance to be interviewed about what I enjoy is always welcomed! Thank you!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Captain Planet 'Esperanto Slang' Review

Artist: Captain Planet

Title: Esperanto Slang

Label: Bastard Jazz Recordings

Released: 7th October 2014

Charlie B Wilder a.k.a. Captain Planet sounds like he's straight out of a Marvel comic. Starting out as a hip-hop d.j. he soon found a love of World Music. Having acquired Lincoln Centre Public Library's entire world music collection, it appears that his super power is his ability to dig out rare samples and twist them into fresh grooves.

Personally, I liked his debut album Cookin' Gumbo and hammered the opening track 'Rad Ad Afinitium'. So I was keen to get stuck in and hear what sounds the Captain had rummaged from across the diaspora and if this latest release had some super-tunes to offer.

The intro 'Enter The Esperanto' is a lovely slice of funky beats, latin percussion, marimbas and funky horns that would slide easily into a rare-groove b-boy set. This is followed by 'Tugo de Bom' the first of two tracks featuring the vocals of Samira Winter and also includes Brazilian rockers Nevilton. It's a piece of Latin that has no major impact but a light hearted summery tune that's easy on the ear.

The next track featuring the vocals of Chico Mann enters the realms of deep house and it's a gem. Nothing particularly new in style but it's well constructed and bounces along with some wonderfully distorted key breaks, while Chico's Latin vocals nestle in nicely. This is followed by the reggae-pop of 'In The Gray' featuring some quite frankly superb vocals from Brit Lauren. Given the airplay I could see this being a hit.

The last two tracks are probably the ones that will appeal to the mainstream. However, if you're fans of Quantic, Nickodemus or Thievery Corporation I'd suggest digging deeper it's a great selection with some unexpected combinations like the sounds from the Arabian deserts seamlessly drifting into the brass horns of a Spaghetti western and the closing track 'Fall All The Way' has a soft alluring voice sat over keys and acoustics which is twisted into a light hearted yet infectious groove.

Reviewed by Woodzee