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.


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

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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