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.

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Friday, 19 June 2015

DF Tram 'Illegal Lingo' Review

Artist: DF Tram

Title: Illegal Lingo

Label: Subatomic UK

Released: 10th July

The début album from San Francisco DJ/producer DF Tram is a quirky and fun slice of chill out which draws on a palette of psychedelics, electronic pop, film samples, spoken word, trip-hop, world music, Krautrock and sunset Balearica. Rather than a roller-coaster through the genres it's a more gentle ride more akin to a merry-go-round.

An accumulation of a 20 year music journey based on music he would listen to at home, in the car, on headphones around the town or at a club. At times I found myself drawing comparisons to Lemon Jelly, The Normal-ites and Royksopp.  In places it can leave you feeling it's bordering on cheesy and at others leaving you astounded at the production. 

The second track 'The Hands of Time' for example is a quality chill out number, where the layering of spoken samples is superb nestled amongst the  cuckoo clocks and voice of Coppe Sweetice, 'Sunflower Jam' on the other hand is a summery jazzy number brimming with samples, lovely acoustics and horns, while the spoken word on 'Grand Finale' layered over uber chilled synths is absolutely lush.

This is a nice little package for the summer months and I can see why Steve Miller (Afterlife) has drafted him on board as there is a certain similarity at times with his own music and with Mixmaster Morris having picked up on 'Soul Exchange' it might help this easy listening album reach a fair few ears.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Various Artists 'Vajra Mind: Meditative Soundscapes' Review

Artist: Various

Title: Vajra Mind:

Meditative Soundscapes

Label: Desert Trax

Released: 3rd June

Compiled and mixed by Amani (one half of the Desert Dwellers) this release exhibits the ambient side of the Desert Dwellers, Liquid Bloom, Variant Field, Rara Avis, Bluetech and Shamans Dream. Collated from the Desert Trax catalog from 2001 to 2015 and featuring some exclusive tracks and remixes aimed specifically at relaxation and artistic creativity over a 2 hour duration.

As soon as you press play you will discover that Amani dives deep fusing atmospheric synths, field recordings, flutes and Arabic instruments with some choice selections from the Desert Dwellers mystical arsenal spanning the first half an hour. At this point the artist selection is interuptted with a collaboration by Bluetech and Shaman's Dream. However, unless your concentrating on the tracklist you would never notice as the piece maintains a perfect harmony and doesn't interupt the flow.

The rest of the album flows in a similar vein with subtle changes of atmospherics, tanpuras and sound fx where the occasional loop, didgeridoo or snake charmers flute awakens you from a dream like slumber to set you adrift again. It's very easy to lose track of where you are on this journey, even if you're already familiar with a number of the tracks and there's an ever present danger of falling asleep. Personally, I like this direction it's more of a return to the original Desert Dwellers vibe and there's definitely a time and place for this in my life. Amani without a doubt achieves the calm to help unwind after a stressful day.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Terra Nine vs Squazoid 'Karuna E.P.' Review

Artist: Terra Nine 

vs Squazoid

Title: Karuna E.P.

Label: Altar Records

Released: 13th June

A collaboration that almost spans to the opposite side of the globe. Auckland based Mike Westcott electric voila fused ambient trance joins forces with Parisian global psy-chill producer Jeremy Bringué. The seed of this track was planted after an impromptu jam at a party in Jeremy's studio in 2013 where Mike played a few notes on the voila which grew into a few more and the basis of the piece was born add some bass, cello and more strings and they had found a piece that emotionally moved them to tears. They played the piece to some select artists who were interested in re-mixing the track and this is the long awaited result.

The E.P. begins with the original piece with an orchestral intro of hauntingly beautiful strings, while the electronics slowly and delicately gain volume and harmonic voices are added. Although they have their moments to shine they never overpower the orchestral spine of the piece.

Moving onto the re-mixes not surprisingly the first contender is Pete Ardron who often employs a classical underbelly in his own productions. In places his input is subtle with a little added ethnic percussion and at others he takes it up a notch some housey piano, wonderful key loops and panned reverb. The result is a lovely enhancement on an already heavenly piece.

The E.P. moves on with fellow Parisian Franck Jousselin (Kick Bong) who unexpectedly adds guitar to the strings and in places his own synth flavours that rest above the underlying sounds of the original but never entirely block it out. An interesting alternative that I wouldn't dismiss.

Unknown Reality (who previously were unknown to me) add a progressive trance vibe to the piece but maintain a strong orchestral emotion with their version. Once again I'm impressed with the result you can really fly into a dream with this one.

Next to imprint their take on the track is Terra Nine's label mate Astropilot who shifts the emphasis to the dancefloor with a rolling underbelly of a bassline, while still maintaining the heavenly voices and strings as you would come to expect with his own productions.

Another new face (or new sound even) for me is Cloower Wooma who utilise all the elements of the original strings and harmonic voices fooling me to believe this would be an atmospheric ambient take, where infact it they employ an elongated intro before stamping down the bassline.

Finally seeing out the E.P. is Suduaya who adds some dreamy piano and reverb to the voices with this blissful adaptation the term sofa sinking couldn't be more apt in this case. An absolutely superb slice of chill out.

Some may argue that 7 versions of one track is a bit too much. But in cases like this when you have such a lovely piece of music and a pallette of sounds from artists who know how to draw on the emotion and at times enhance aspects of it. I for one am glad there is.

Review by Woodzee


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Marini's on 57 'Sunset Hours Vol Two' Review

Artist: Various

Title: Marini's on 57:

Sunset Hours vol Two

Label: Secret Life Music

Released: 8th June

Marini's on 57 is a restaurant and bar situated on the 57th floor of a skyscraper situated next to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers that dominates Kuala Lumpas skyline. Volume one of the series was compiled by the legendary Cafe Del Mar dj Jose Padilla and the second in the series has kept up the high standard with a selection of after dinner jazz and sun soaked Balearica from Chris Coco and Steve Miller (Afterlife). The result of the pairs crate digging from the past to the present for this release has a wonderful ambience and if the truth be told the newer releases have a flavour of the past about them. This could easily be a Cafe Del Mar compilation from the late 90's that was never released.

The opening track the Club Des Belugas remix of Les Baxters 'Jungle Flower' has a distinct Henri Mancini feel to it with some lovely crisp drumwork. While Christian Prommer takes Mr Fingers classic chicago house anthem 'Can You Feel It' into the realms of jazz where the piano set me in mind of Francesco Tristano's classical piano take on Derrick May's techno classic 'Strings of Life' (which co-incidently Christian has also covered). Jose Padilla makes a re-apperance in the series with his brand new single 'Mojame' a laid back acoustic number that conjures up visions of yacht filled harbours and beach bars. While Chris and Steve also feature on the release with the Marini's mix of 'Sunset Hours' a mellow house piece dedicated to the venue while my personal favourite the Nicola Conte remix of Suba's 'Tantos Desojos add's a little bossa nova to the menu.

Overall this compilation delivers as it's labelled and will definitely appeal to fans of the Cafe Del Mar series and of course Chris and Steve themselves. My only disapointment with the release is it has a distinctly French and Spanish feel to it, which is by no means a bad thing. However, it would be interesting to have heard some Maylasian releases that could slot into the general ambience.

The album is available digitally now with the cd release in July with launch parties in the venue itself and the Jockey Club on Salinas beach in Ibiza.

Review by Woodzee.


HÄANA 'Leya' Review

Artist: HÄANA

Title: Leya

Label: Desert Trax

Released: 8th June

This is one of the first times I've come across New York based Icelandic cinematic sonic bass producer and violinist HÄANA and on by the strength of this release I'm glad I have had the opportunity to experience more. She's graced the stage with the Rolling Stones, Kanye West and Moby as well as appearing on releases with Irma Thomas, Beats Antique and An-Ten-Nae and performances at various music & yoga festivals around the world (Lightning in a Bottle, Envision, Wanderlust and more). Drawing inspiration from Massive Attack, Phaeleh, Trentemøller, & Ólafur Arnalds in her own productions.

This release begins with the original version soft synths and piano instantly bring the Massive Attack influence to mind and the ethereal voices and strings that follow only strengthens that feeling. I have to say I really love this piece of classical electronica.

First up on the re-mix duties is acid crunk pioneer An-Ten-Nae who drops the bass like a concrete slab but then lets the ethereal vocals do the work while the music winds like an old fashioned watch before the bass rejoins and the piece is allowed to flow with some excellent emphasis on the violin. It's a really cleverly constructed re-mix and the only fault I can find is like the original it's rather short.

Next up is Kaminanda, who utilises the ethereal voice and piano to the max with lots of little well placed glitches, bubbles before the violin takes precedent he's applied his psy-dub techniques to perfection with his take and is the first to push the piece over the 7 minute mark.

Haj I Ji who is a new name to me opts for the shorter length again and growls a slow paced deep bass and military like drum underneath the piano and strings like a dark brooding underworld looking up at heaven.

Twin Shape who is another unfamiliar name to me finish the release with an atmospheric intro, psychedelic synths and chugging bassline before the ethereal vocals lift it into an almost progressive style with the brakes on. As with all the previous takes it has it own appeal and does the original justice.

It seems to me that HÄANA has stepped out of the shadows to bask in the sunlight and I wish her all the best. Going by this release she has it all going for her … musical and vocal talent, a good ear for music with the ability to transpose it into her own productions and if that wasn't enough on top of that she appears to be photogenically easy on the eye.

Review by Woodzee.