Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Afterlife 'Ten Thousand Things' Review

Artist: Afterlife

Title: Ten Thousand Things

Label: Subatomic UK

Released: 1st July

The album commences with the title track which begins very much akin to a melodic music box and after a minute or so into the track a melancholic piece of piano is introduced. The result of this combination is a beautiful and intricate piece of ambient music that provides a perfect soundtrack for relaxation. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the track I was a little surprised it was the title track as I expected something perhaps a trifle more upbeat and vocal to be the sales pitch of the album. Following on is 'Tonto' a stereo-typical dubby lounge affair with lovely splashes of jazzy piano keys that you might expect on a Normal-ites (a side project with Chris Coco) release. The guitar is introduced in 'Monkey Butter' which maintains the tried and tested Balearic chill of the Cafe Del Mar compilations.

There's a slight bit of Latin percussion added to 'La Torre' amongst the indistinct monologue and guitar strings and a touch of 303 towards the tail end. This next track puts the brakes on with more of a jazzy lounge feel, trip-hop style beat and ethnic vocal on 'Tuvan'. At this point the album changes with the introduction of singers the first 'Sunburn' with Joel Edwards which is a bit wishy-washy for my taste and has somewhat of a Wham feel about it. This is followed by 'Res Freq' a slowed down slice of cosmic Balearica with summery guitar licks and lovely mellow piano keys.

Next up is the second vocal track of the album 'Love Alters' with Coppe which is an improvement I can't quite place who it reminds me of vocally but it's a mid to late 90's trip-hop act and there's a touch of Sueno Latino in the background. The album swings back to the instrumental appearing to dive back in time with a jazzy 70's feel on 'The Piano at the End of the Universe' before the closing track 'People' a beat-less track with deep reverbing piano and indistinct monologue that to me really conjures up the feel of sunbathing on the beach with your eyes closed and life going on around you. Where as in reality Steve composed this to reflect the joy and dismay he feels that people's actions bring to the world.

Overall I really liked this album it's a well thought out and created piece of ambience that still retains the Ibiza stamp in many of the tracks. In places it's perhaps a little more introspective in comparison to the 'Speck of Gold' release (considered by many as a Balearic classic) initially I felt it missed vocalists such as Cathy Battistessa and Danni Minogue. However, when the vocalists were introduced even though I quite liked the Coppe track they felt a little dis-jointed to the rest of the album.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Sequentia Legenda Interview

You have made it no secret that your music reflects the Berlin School sound especially the productions of Klaus Schulze. When did you first come across this form of music and why do you prefer to emulate this style rather than other genres?

The comparison with Klaus Schulze is often referred to, which quite satisfies me. Klaus Schulze was a pioneer with a new musical approach. I appreciate his work. He is without any doubt one of the symbolic figures of Berliner Schule, and he has been a true revelation for me.

It all started while listening to Klaus Schulze's 'Mirage' album, when I was fifteen. I instantly fell in love with this music. That's how my passion for Berlin School developed. I then began to play on synthesizers.

Cosmic Music is a passion. It's a true delight for me to compose and my mind is out of this world during a composition session. I like to share my emotions in my music, give a little bit of dream, allow the listener to relax and escape this world in turmoil where everything goes too fast and where standardization reigns.

Considering the size of the synthesizers and the complexity of creating a basic pattern in the 70's the time saving of soft synths is probably no more applicable than here. To re-create the style do you use hardware, soft synths or a combination of the two?

I first owned a number of analogic synthesizers (ARP Odyssey, Korg PS3200, Polymoog, MS20 Korg + SQ10, Crumar Multimans S, Oberheim Two Voices). Then, when MIDI burst out, I purchased a few digital machines (DSS1 Korg, TG77 Yamaha, D110 Roland, KM1 Kawai, Microwave Waldorf, JD800 Roland). And now, I got only virtual synthesizers.

The Arturia V Collection is a working tool I often use and the Minimoog V is without a doubt one of my favourite VSTs. After collecting many hardware synthesizers, my current compositions are now built with VSTs. I might buy hardware material again in the future though, especially if I have to deal with stage performance.

Your track 'AU REVOIR' appeared on the compilation album 'Legacy and Evolution: A tribute to Edgar Froese' what did it mean to you to be a part of this tribute to the man who stayed with Tangerine Dream through various changes in the line up till his demise?
I was honoured and fortunate enough to have Rebekka Hilgraves propose me to be part of her project dedicated to the memory of Edgar Froese. Her project was almost over when I was approached and I had only a few weeks left to get to the final version of the composition that was to become 'AU REVOIR'.

I felt the urge to pay a tribute to one of the forerunners of Berliner Schule. Edgar Froese was instrumental in the development of electronic music. Many thanks to him.

Your début album 'BLUE DREAM' was released last December could you tell us a little about the release and how it came about?
My first record 'BLUE DREAM' was finished in late 2014, sixteen months after starting the project. I am a demanding person, which explains partly why it took me so long to get to the release of my first album.

I am thrilled and proud of the result, the amount of positive feedback from listeners and reviewers encouraged me to keep on exploring this realm. I was lucky to make my dream, a blue dream, come true.

This was followed shortly after with the single 'AMIRA' what was the inspiration here and how does it differ to the tracks on the 'BLUE DREAM' release?
For the story, I composed in honour of my wife, and for our wedding celebration, a piece that was soon to become 'Amira' Short Version, the opening track on my second album, 'AMIRA'. This album is in the vein of the music I composed for 'BLUE DREAM'. A few strings came to support the orchestrations.

I also like 'Somewhere' very much. Whatever the pieces, each has its own story, its specificity. I like what I do and I want to do it the best I can.

My influences are multiple and can be found in an image, a sound, an atmosphere, an emotion. I like to draw inspiration from novels, legends, pictures as well. I enjoy anything with mystical, mysterious, nostalgic and imaginary sides.

Are you working on any material currently as Sequentia Legenda or any other projects?

I am currently working on a new project entitled 'EXTENDED'.

'EXTENDED' will be a double-album with five or six tracks. Some pieces will be long versions from 'BLUE DREAM'
and 'AMIRA'. The single 'AU REVOIR' in its long version will also be part of this project. The pieces were re-orchestrated, remixed and remastered, longer versions allowing the listeners to immerse even more in the atmosphere and to fully enter my world. 'Solitudes Lunaires' will be one of the two new pieces.

There will be also a first for me: a collaboration with German drummer Tommy Betzler on 'The Approach' and 'Somewhere'. Tommy is experienced with this kind of music since he accompanied Klaus Schulze on stage during his tours, and I am proud and happy that he accepted to take part in this project without hesitation.

For me 'EXTENDED' is an exciting experience on all levels:
musical and human.

The official release of this double-album is planned for
September 2016.

Are there any live shows planned for the future?
I was indeed proposed to perform on stage. Doing a show on stage, including the sonic and visual aspects, is a matter I will think about. I have the will and slowly, I can see how it can be presented. Maybe I would go on stage with Tommy. Who knows? I will ponder further on this question.

What artists currently impress you?
Besides the last and interesting recordings of Jean-Luc Briançon and of the Brückner & Betzler duo, I don't have enough time those days to listen with care to what other musicians do.

I still listen to the classics of Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream, or else to classical music and jazz aired on radio while driving, but also to the show of Saturday, 'La Planète Bleue', hosted by Yves Blanc, who I salute here.

Friday, 17 June 2016

DF Tram 'Tripped Out' Review

Artist: DF Tram

Title: Tripped Out

Label: Subatomic UK

Released: 17th June

Following on from his debut album 'Illegal Lingo' on Subatomic last year this E.P. packs together a fresh new track and three re-mixes from that album.

The first track 'A Ping at the Stone Circle' begins with a variety of samples over a simple hip-hop beat that leads to a Glastonbury festival themed verse and vocoder chorus that many of the listeners who attend festivals in general will relate to. For me this is an infectious track that I keep playing over and over and can see this remaining on my play list throughout the summer.

Next up is the first of two re-mixes by Marshall Watson of 'The Mystery' a laid back track with whispered vocals and sax that provided a smoky jazz bar feel on 'Illegal Lingo'. The 'Dreamscape Re-Mix' adds a slight bit of bounce to the beat and a harmonic chorus with an electro like break early on before a touch of echo and plenty of loops as the vocoder vocal is introduced. All in all an intricate mix that works very well and takes it in more of a laid back spacey Balearic direction. The 'Afterlife Edit' again adds some bounce and a touch more pace and although is very similar has more of an early evening beach house feel.

The final track is the Animat re-mix of 'Soul Exchange' which commences in a classic dub reggae fashion then starts toying with a classic sample that was used by Grandmaster Flash if my memory serves me right. Soon after the chilled out female vocal is run through the dub laboratory against the blues guitar, strings and what I assume is DF Tram's vocal. The overall effect is so chilled again I'm ticking this off as another one for the summer play list.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Animat 'Side By Side E.P.' Review

Artist: Animat

Title: Side By Side E.P.

Label: Dubmission Records

Released: 3rd June

It appears that Animat have really gone to town when it comes to releases this year. This E.P. contains five fresh tracks and places more focus on the Dub Reggae than the others I've heard.

The E.P. commences with 'Chicken and Egg' which is pretty much a standard Dub Reggae piece with a heavy kick drum and lots of reverb. However, there's a nice melodic touch which sets it apart with a little identity of it's own. Moving on 'Let The World Spin' once again delivers a traditional sounding track, although this time with delayed horn, melodica and guitar chords.

Things change somewhat with 'Countermove' there's more of an IDM feel and a touch of post-punk guitar in the intro while the main body constantly flows between dubbed out the guitars and airy synth sections that lighten the mood with plenty of intersections. At this point they are definitely grabbing my attention. Now we reach the title track whose intro has a sequenced synth loop before more post-punk guitar is added and the vocal monologue employed at which point spacey strings rise and fall amidst the dub. The E.P. comes to a close with 'September Falls' with lovely synth tones that start to echo before the guitar licks commence to provide an overall chilled dub.

As you can probably gather from my words above this E.P. begins in a traditional fashion and although they are good pieces it's nothing new. You could also argue the same with the post-punk style dubs but I feel there is far more originality about these pieces. It's also worth noting this is a very bass heavy release that needs to be aired on proper speakers I would imagine lap-top or phone speakers will just distort.

Reviewed by Woodzee.