Taeb Ecnad – Jamit (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Say what you like about Jamit but you can’t fault the speed at which he turns out new material. It seems as if there is a new offering in the review pile every couple of weeks and who can blame him. In this short attention span world, it pays to keep your name ahead of the pack and the best way to do that is to do the work, keep your music flowing, offer new and intriguing sonic delights. It’s the shark analogy all over again, the idea that they have to keep moving all the time, well, musicians need to do the same.

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Multiplayer Erotica –  Jamit (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

The only thing that you come to expect from Jamit is the unexpected. Yes, you know that the music is going to run along warped, experimental dance lines, though I’m sure one day I will find something from him in my review pile that throws even more of a curve ball and completely jumps the generic boundaries. But, apart from his broad signature strokes, his sort of sonic fingerprint, you have to just be content to go where he decides to take you musically. As always his subjects are the world around him, and the title alone informs you that this is inspired by the more fun and intimate aspects of life.

Continue reading “Multiplayer Erotica –  Jamit (reviewed by Dave Franklin)”

Rude Redux EP –  Rude Audio (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

oM2xzBCQThere is a wonderful cross pollination of sounds and ideas running through the heart of Rude Audio’s latest release. It is music made using the latest studio technology yet it beats with an ancient heart, it’s from a London based band but their brand of Balearic chill is infused with North African and India sonic thumbprints. They make spacious and ambient music yet it still has a wonderfully confident beat, depending on your state of mind you can groove away to its exotic charms or just let it gently wash over you.

Unlike the often brash, linear and direct music that comes out of such a scene, Rude Redux seems to ooze from the speakers, a dub platform is used as a base for all sorts of world sounds and cross-cultural blending and this solid foundation allows them to be spacious when they want to be or use it to really ramp up the woozy, hazy intensity.

As a band they seem to have all the right underground and off the radar credentials, operating away from the limelight and in doing so building up a reputation for being the alternative choice for the underground party scene. And you can hear why. For every strand of familiarity there are two strands of “what just happened,” where did that sound come from” and “I wouldn’t have thought of doing that.” If you remember the early releases from the Future Sound of London and the original Balearic dance scene then Rude Redux is going to really make your day. Cinematic, cross-cultural and totally accessible. Cool!

Tower –  The Goodbad (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

artworks-000402462144-d015zf-t500x500Dance music, like most genres, is a redundant label. The common factors that you use to identify music that belongs within such a grouping… beat, groove, infectiousness, accessibility… are the same factors that you would use to describe most music across many genres. Dance music is dead. Long live music!

The Tower may just be the birth of the genre-less club anthem, adhering as it does to the things needed to get people on the dancefloor and moving but hardly the stuff of the mainstream pop-picker and party animal. It grooves, pops and zings in all the right places for sure but it also seems to be built of strange mutated genes, of warped electronica and industrial pulses, hardly the “go-to sound” of Saturday night. But as alien as it sounds in places, it is the perfect replacement for the saccharine dance-pop that currently fills the clubs and venues, instead offering a darker and more experimental way forward.

And proving that The Goodbad are pushing out in all directions, Aeon takes some of that strange, leftfield stance and melds it on to a more conventional beat, cleaner lines and driving energy, the otherness of their nature still apparent but buried deeper in the music, maybe so as not to frighten those more used to standard club anthems and production-line chart hits with their dystopian dance visions. Delve even further into the back catalogue and Illusion is different again, glitchy, clinical, futuristic and buoyant.

What makes The Goodbad’s music work so well is that it is like a Trojan horse in an assault on the mainstream. It feels like a celebration of the norm, it appeals to the masses, it uses familiarity to be let into the mainstream club consciousness but then, in the dark of night under the neon glare it begins to infiltrate the musical status quo with its new ideas and musical visions. Music doesn’t move on by trying to change the landscape from without, it moves on by unknowingly inviting mavericks and strange creatives to the party who slowly set about changing the party so that it conforms to their needs and desires. Welcome to the party, its about to get interesting.

MRT – Jamit (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

jamit.jpgPioneer Generation showed us just how uniquely Jamit thinks when it comes to modern dance music and MRT carries on down that same path, one that wanders well away from the mainstream and seems to travel parallel to film score, avant garde meanderings, video soundtrack and electronic experimentation.

MRT could stand for a lot of things but I’m guessing that Mass Rapid Transport is the reference here, given his Singapore location,  the track seeming to mimic the industrial rumbling and hypnotic tribal groove of that famous urban rail system. I may be wrong but it works for me. But that is the joy of such tracks I guess, without the lyrics they allow the listener to decided what they mean and it is a definition that can change and evolve from person to person and from day to day.

Again Jamit not only thinks outside the box, but shows us just how small the box. As his song builds in intensity and repetition, as it conquers new sonic territory and explores new musical horizons, it is only when you look back you realise just how small that box is and how far he has come.

RA –  N.A.M. (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

38448645_285311905536747_8459694055255703552_oThe term New Age music might conjure images of triple albums of whale noises or the sort of trippy folk music you hear playing in Glastonbury bookshops, but surely new age music can be seen as any music that is ahead of the curve for its moment in time. All creative break-throughs from rock’n’roll to hip-hop to punk to rave and beyond can be considered as heralding in a new musical age to some degree and in the field of electronic music you can easily label N.A.M. as doing the same.

Sitting somewhere between staccato dance music and ambient, and often off-beat, drum and bass, the track wanders through shifting dynamics that encapsulate trip-hop, psy-trance, quietly euphoric rave, if that is even possible and any number of synth led clubland styles. It is this musical restlessness, this chameleon-like desire to shift and shimmer before the listener that keeps things interesting, intriguing even. New Age music? Yes, why not?

Pioneer Generation (feat. Orestis Milios) –  Jamit (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

pioneer-generation 2Jamit makes dance music for the modern age. It’s as simple as that. With so many acts liberally plundering from the past, re-working the golden age of Balearic music, of the Rave scene or revisiting those iconic early sounds of the the original synth explorers, it is great to come across an artist looking forward rather than backwards. Pioneer Generation is a pulsing and groovesome blend of contemporary dance, it is a wonderfully minimal, slow-burning and hypnotic EDM blast, it never strays too far from its beguiling singular vision, it draws its electronic trappings around it, slowly layering up beats and grooves and sauntering its way towards its final destination.  

And whilst Pioneer Generation contains the required groove and pace of a midnight dance floor, it also is sassy and sultry enough for the more laid back dance experience. It is built on trippy beats and airy electronica but allows enough space between that the music never becomes claustrophobic or cluttered.

Not everything has to be the fastest, the most intricate, the most driven; we have matured enough to get beyond that. What Jamit offers instead is solid and sexy, and when has that not been more than enough for a good night out?

Warren’s Jam –  Ionoship (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

30742331_1635802213155343_2298672183355899904_nTaken on its own Warren’s Jam is a great slice of high speed EDM built on fast and funky breaks, rapped vocals pushed back into the mix, emotive electronic washes but mainly pure energy. Play through the whole of Swimming Pool, the album that it is found on, and you will see it in a slightly different context. The album that it sits on is a beguiling mash up of clubland sounds, rave euphoria, trance sonics, left field EDM, urban vocal styles and crazy remixes. It’s mad, unexpected, utterly original and brilliant. Warren’s Jam is just one direction that the album pushes in, there are plenty to chose from.

If you can draw a line between I Feel Love, the song that saw disco spawn house music, and Strings of Life, the tune that saw the birth of techno, then this is music that decided to take a more charged and madcap root. This is music that stole the fastest car it could find and drove it high as a kite, joyriding out of control around the streets and not caring if it got caught. This is music which is all about the thrill of the moment rather than the long game. Music which packs in so much energy and excitement that it could self destruct in a blaze of sonic glory at any moment.

Its a song that exists in both the past and present, it echoes with the ghost of European house pioneers and Detroit clubland explorers but in that cyclical way that music loops through time, it also feels right for the here and now and maybe even marks the start of a nostalgia-tinged new take on those sounds and a new scene for the future. If you are tired of the chill-out vibe creeping over the dance floors of the western world and the way that urban music seems to have chosen conformity and fashion rather than driving new technology, new ideas, new sounds and new musical fusions, then this is definitely for you.

Scene and Heard – CCCXXXVII : Paradigm Shift – Cyborg Asylum (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Paradigm Shift Single Cover lighter_previewCyborg Asylum has always been great at blending a sort of clinical, cold war, drama with a slightly apocalyptic musical vision. Their great art has always lain in their skill for looking at the political machinations and social choices being made today and extrapolating their views of where those decisions might takes us. And to be fair there is no shortage of blatant, sweeping  and impactful policies being forced upon an ever more helpless or uninformed (or perhaps wilfully ignorant) population. They may not provide us with answers but it is enough to ask the questions, instigate a conversation and raise  concerns.

And what better way to make your voice heard than wrap those worries in slick and cool post-punk infused, industrial dance music? They revel in robust electronica, the sort which replicates the grind and grunt of rock music but which uses the synth palette of electronic glitches and riffs, programmed beats and washes to create their dystopian dance sound. It is Depeche Mode heading into the dark places of their later career, it is Nine Inch Nails gone dance, it is a file sharing, long distance, collaborative process which reflects the times that we live in. With previous release My Metallic Dream having already laid out a stall for their beautiful and bleak sound and a full album Never Finished, Only Abandoned now available it is the perfect time for you aquatinted yourself with the Asylum. You’d be mad not to.

Scene and Heard – CCCXXXVI : 100 Steps to the Shoreline – Dr Optimiser (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

22489846_10154756428242015_1397146505708562180_nCombining futuristic jazz vibes, ambient EDM washes, alt-pop beats, electro-classical and film soundtrack riffs and motifs, it is hard to pin down 100 Steps to the Shoreline to any one genre but I always see that as a test to be passed for the best music. Why sound like what has come before when you can be the answer to the question, “So, what next?” Why follow and repeat when you can lead and instigate? 

This trippy instrumental runs along on a collection of confident beats and bass pulses and seems to evoke future Day-Glo dance visions just as much as the descending riffs seem to take a leaf out of 60’s TV drama theme tunes, a cyclical musical machination that paints contemporary dance music with nostalgic vibes and which then sets out to see what might be just around the corner.

It wanders a world lit by the argon soaked glamour of up-market night clubs and neon glare of illicit, down town, basement parties, a world where the fashionable and the favoured dance side by side with the cult clubber and the discerning dance floor diva. It’s a world where many roads cross, where futuristic beats weave through early house music, where the seasoned electronic music fan embraces the hedonism of rave culture, where rhythm isn’t just a dancer, it is the very heart beat of the artists making such music.

100 Steps… is a wonderfully minimal, slow-burning and hypnotic EDM blast, it never strays too far from its beguiling singular vision, it draws its electronic trappings around it, slowly layering up beats and grooves and sauntering its way towards its final destination, a destination which if it was a physical place could equally be a late 80’s Manchester happening, a 90’s Ibiza beach after-party or even a cutting edge Euro dance club of the here and now or the near future. That’s the charm, it bridges gaps between the past and the present whilst looking to the future and that’s a great thing for music to be able to do.

Scene and Heard – CCCXXXV : Be Careful What You Listen To – The New Occupants (ft. Mr. MooQ) (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

BCWYLT_CD CoverImagine if Frank Zappa was still with us and carving out a career for himself in the underground fringes of the alt-pop, synth-pop, industrial dance, EDM scene. Imagine that instead of offering up a warped, jarring and majestic end point of the western blues derived musical experiment, he instead drove the whole rock band ethic headfirst into a digital technology, fuelled dance leviathan coming the other way. The New Occupants embody the sound that was echoing out as the survivors crawled from the wreckage. One part rock muscle, one part clubland chaos and more than a few parts eclecticism and eccentricity, shock and awe.

Featuring the mercurial Mr Mooq narrating the song, a tongue-in-cheek TED talk about the trials and tribulations of music consumption, again very Zappa-esque, the result is dance music on steroids, a rock song with underground grooves, a post-genre mash up. There isn’t much new under the musical sun but Be Careful What You Listen To is the sound of the familiar being swept away, or at least being twisted into fascinating new sonic architecture. Marvellous.

Soulmates – Lauren Waller (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

thumbnail-1Clever pop music! That isn’t a phrase that you come across very often. In this world of throw-away music, it is the most commercial, by its very nature, which has the shortest shelf life, a product to be purchased, used and discarded as the fickle finger of fashion having writ, moves on. But Soulmates is something else, a combination of the best elements of the pop genre, vibrancy, infectiousness, an instantly hummable tune, probably the simplest and most important test anyway, coupled with a poetic and poignant look at relationships.

Electro-pop hooks and synthetic beats form the basis on which Lauren Waller positions her impressive vocals, vocals which wander between confident commercial strains and ethereal haze and which demonstrate a neat sonic range and varied range of deliveries. Here she waxes lyrical about the object of her affections not being all they might seem and the result is a clever and quirky mix of pop and dance, sassy enough to ride the waves of fashion and robust enough to, given the right tail wind and a dash of luck, become a future classic.

Cyber PR

Scene and Heard – CCCXIV: Warm, Silky – Ant Cruze (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

ant_covaWell, this is a saucy little number and no mistake, something straight out of the Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg playbook I might add. For like the iconic Je T’aime it plays with the same idea of soft, sensual spoken word over a smooth and laidback beat. But a lot has changed musically over the last 50 years since that naughty little number first saw the light of day and its modern counter-part is a slicker but no less sensual affair.

But then Ant Cruze knows what he is doing, he knows which musical strings to pull and the man once described as ‘the world’s most accomplished party anchor’ of course knows how to put a song together. It struts on a confident beat but seems to ooze rather than swagger, it is smooth and sassy rather the usual vibrant clubland fare. But as is true of most things less is more and stripping things back to the right, few musical components and letting the spaces between adds to the atmosphere and the anticipation of this little minx of a tune. Cheeky!

Scene and Heard – CCCXII: The Birthday Party –  The Kunig (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

13323429_977490829038264_5737524542532727973_oThe Kunig, to paraphrase Forrest Gump’s mother, is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. (You just read that in the requisite slow, southern drawl didn’t you?) Anyway, I say this because the recent album Kunigunda was a wide-ranging, musically exploratory and sonically eclectic bundle of joy which took in everything that took in everything from hazy dream-prog to slick and soulful west-coast jazz-pop to straight down the line clubland bangers…as I believe the kids say.

The Birthday Party plays into the latter musical territory, but delivers a groover rather than the aforementioned full on banger. It is full of dance floor rhythms and easy accessibility but falls more towards the early hours, wind down delivery, the shifting of gear as the club, party or soiree heads into chill-out mode. As such it ticks all the boxes, vocals that wander between pitch perfect pop, sultry allure and lush ethereality sit over the swaggering beat and swelling electronic washes. And it delivers the goods via restraint and understatement, leaving the middle ground between beat and vocal spacious enough that it is largely atmosphere and anticipation which fill the void rather than sound and studio machinations. That in itself is a brave thing to do, knowing what to leave out is a much more difficult art form than knowing what to put in.

I would say that this is a great calling card for Kunig and the recent album Kunigunda, but being that the music made under this name wanders so far across the spectrum with no regard for genre or style, era or ethos, I can only say that this is just one example of what you will find when you open the door. It’s a case of come for the chilled dance tune, stay for the mind-blowing eclecticism. Now there’s a slogan!

Scene and Heard – CCCX: I Want You To Die – Hatchatorium (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

hatchatorium18For someone who lists a whole lot of grunge and alt-rock bands as influences, I Want You To Die sounds a lot like a band that you would have found touring with Depeche Mode in the late eighties. That same stark sound, dark sonic heart and pulsing electronica, the same mix of sleekness and sleaze, like the music you might find playing in a futuristic brothel! And I mean that in a good way, better the soundtrack to a futuristic brothel than the lift music and unadventurous conformity that has become the norm today.

For there is nothing at all conformist about I Want You To Die, even the title is all up in your face, and lined up behind that are raw-edged electro pulses, bleats and beats that sound like the product of a keyboard that has been wired up wrong or an amplifier about to blow. It seems to saunter rather than drive, drips with sultry groove rather than dance floor moves, is confident enough to run at its own half-pace and is all the better for it.

As the third track off of the band’s album Circus of Hell it makes for a great calling card, it is wonderfully out of keeping with modern fashion and reminds us that the music industry might thrive on people following the rules and pandering to expectation but music itself evolves because of people not playing by those rules. Welcome to Hatchatorium’s very own future apocalyptic, doom disco.

Scene and Heard – CCCVIII : Dreams – The Kunig (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

2245f4_339ab752ae074ced9688fee4dc23b3fa~mv2The forthcoming album, Kunigunda, from which Dreams is taken, is a wonderful and searching collection of sounds and styles, of free-wheeling across generic demarcations and of dipping into any and all musical styles which takes their fancy. Now, exploration is great, actually it is more than just great, it’s essential, but of course the commercial market and the mainstream listener might not really be the place to have your more interesting creations tested. Dreams, though, is a track which represents The Kunig as a whole and will fit the tastes of the wider world too.

Okay, it only represents one aspect of what The Kunig do, but their drifting soulful ambience and strange psych-dance crossovers are probably going to be a hard sell out there, better to send out a slick and commercial, chilled and soulful dance floor groover as a calling card and hope that some people will use this as a stepping stone for the more exploratory tracks on the same album.

It’s a case of come for the obvious dance tune and stay for the more mercurial musical machinations. You can but try.

Kunigunda –  The Kunig (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

13323429_977490829038264_5737524542532727973_oThis latest 10 track slice of chilled loveliness from The Kunig comes from a very interesting place, one where psychedelic and progressive experiments of the likes of Tangerine Dream still float in the air above the more modern and mellow electronic dance vibes that form the album’s backbone. And like the mercurial nature of those early electronic pioneers, The Kunig is happy to wilfully genre hop to create its core sounds and sonically side step expectations to break new and unexpected musical ground.

Songs like Cut Up sound especially retro, but only in that same way that those bands of the past were using music to create the future…future-retro music, is that even possible, do the laws of time and physics allow for such a concept. Well, they may not but the laws of music do and that is all that matters here. Loser wanders some cutting edge dance floor territory, Morphine is a strange psychedelic rush which blends wonky guitars with slick world music, part a strange kind of blues, part globe-trotting soundscaping, but that’s drugs for you, and Chantilly sounds like a long lost Steely Dan track, and you can’t get better than that.

If you like music to fall in line with the neat and organised world of pigeon-holes and genres, labels and musical demarcations then this isn’t for you and to be honest you probably need to stick to your Rolling Stones albums. But for anyone with a broad mind and love of musical tangents, then form a queue right here.

Kunigunda Preview

 

Scene and Heard – CCCVI : Double Happiness –  Mr. MooQ (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

bd66efcd3d57e5525f0e83901d9eb57fefa247bb_phixr.jpgI didn’t know people were still making music like this, but I’m glad they are. Double Happiness reminds me of that time when a horde of disaffected post-punks rewired the keyboards they had stolen from music shops to make apocalyptic, futuristic pop in direct defiance to the Leg Warmer and Shoulder Pad Bye Laws of the spring ’83. But it isn’t so much that the song sounds like those new-pop pioneers, more that it fulfills the same role. They sounded futuristic, ahead of the curve, alien even, and so does Mr. MooQ.

It’s a celebratory piece, the title tells you as much, an ode to togetherness and both the song and the video positively snap, crackle and fizz with pop perkiness, a jaunty slice of electronic dance that despite its low BPM when compared with your average clubland banger, packs real punch through its staccato grooves and sheer infectiousness. And unlike most if its dance floor rivals this has the potential to burst out of the dance scene and become an anthem in the fullest sense of the word, the soundtrack to every summer barbecue, wedding reception and event across the globe. Don’t be suprised if you hear it as the theme to TV adds too, its that damn addictive there probably isn’t anywhere it can’t go.

Remembrances – DJ Ko (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

DJ_Ko_Deep_House_06If rock and pop music is known for being sharp edged and confrontational, for using recurring hooks and infectious gimmickry to make its point, House music and its more beguiling and hypnotic offspring Deep House, comes pretty much from the opposite end of the musical melting pot. Remembrances, from Albuquerque native DJ Ko’s Palm City EP, sums these hallmarks up rather neatly.

Here the music exposes the soul and jazz infused origins of its Chicago birthplace, through its ambient tones and hypnotic grooves, its spacious percussion and more reserved use of bass line and beat. It also does away with crescendos and drops, preferring to just gently motor along in its comfortable, non-confrontational, hypnotic and relaxing way. This is chill out music at its finest, but for all its dance sophistication, cool jazz-vibe sensitivity and musical understatement it is also music that will fill the dance floor with sultry slow movers and groovers in no time at all. 

Keep in touch DJ Ko on Socials:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRcko9Fgsx5F_hPS1WOjH9w
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-932441783
SoulsPlay: http://soulsplay.com/jonathan-colon

Break Once Again – Blacklight (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

30595173_2323508384333345_5133804486564773888_nBlacklight wanders a world lit by the argon soaked glamour of up-market night clubs and neon glare of illicit, down town, basement parties, a world where the fashionable and the favoured dance side by side with the cult clubber and the discerning dance floor diva. It’s a world where many roads cross, where futuristic beats weave through early house music, where the seasoned electronic music fan embraces the hedonism of rave culture, where rhythm isn’t just a dancer, it is the very heart beat of the artists making such music.

Break Once Again is a wonderfully hypnotic EDM blast, it never strays too far from its beguiling singular vision, it draws its electronic trappings around it, slowly layering up beats and grooves and slow burning its way towards its final destination, a destination which if it was a physical place could equally be a late 80’s Manchester happening, a 90’s Ibiza beach party or even a cutting edge Euro dance club of the here and now. That’s the charm, it bridges gaps between the past and the present whilst looking to the future and that’s a great thing for music to be able to do.

Tribal Love – Rivita (reviewed by T. Bebedor)

9Take a female singer/songwriter/producer from Delhi in India, give her a musical education from London and drop her into the boiling pot of influences of a city like, oh I don’t know… New York, and it would be pretty interesting to hear what she came up with, well Rivita is that woman and her new five track EP is currently being played into my ears.

I like to leave an album on loop when I’m going to review it and this album benefits from such a method because the depth within the production only really reveals itself through repeat listening and shows that this EP wasn’t cobbled together with little thought or planning, it knows what it wants to do and sets up the listener early with the opening track, ‘Galaxy’ (coming in at barely a minute in length), boldly stating “I speak the truth, and nothing but the truth”.

It’s a good opener, a strong appetiser, if you will, for the music to follow which dips it’s toes into electro dance, world music and straight laced pop with strong hooks and choruses, particularly ‘While The Love Is Gone’ (which you’ll be singing for hours afterwards).

This song gets a remix treatment within the EP with Rivita – who, as well as singing and writing these songs, also produces – clearly interested in exploring other treatments. Where the original mix seems to soar with the help of subtle backing vocals, the remix benefits from the inclusion of acoustic guitar. ‘Hunt You Down’ is a catchy pop song that, and I’m showing my age here, reminds me of 90’s band All Saints. That isn’t in any way meant as a negative, they bridged the gap between pop and ‘urban’ (whatever that means) successfully and ‘Hunt You Down’ wouldn’t sound out of place on any commercial radio, and is, again, an ear worm in waiting.

There is lots to enjoy in this snippet into the talent of the Dehli-Born, New York native, and this EP will act as a calling card for those wishing to delve deeper into the back catalogue of her work (which can be found at www.rivitamusic.com)

Victory –  Emotive Grey (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

26168667_174019719871501_4048682826488926651_nI have had an influx of dreamy, soundscaping tracks of late which fall more into the realms of soundtrack or film score than they readily sit under the title of song, but few have ticked as many boxes for me as this little gem from Emotive Grey. Whereas most seem set in a fairly predictable ambient- electro genre, Victory, from the forthcoming e.p. Destiny, seems to cross genres at will. It  is powered by a fairly confident dance floor beat and melodic synth riffs but woven through it are the wonderfully classical piano sounds normally associated with the likes of Ludovico Einaudi, someone, it has to be said, with a similar flagrant disregard for generic demarcations.

It is this mercurial blend of classical interludes, vibrant clubland urges, alt-pop synth riffs and more hazy dream-pop washes which stands Victory apart from the pack. Tulsa based musician and producer Allen Clark, the man behind the this sonic gorgeousness, has had a tumultuous time since starting his music career just before the turn of the century and admits to having given up music five times, but forming Emotive Grey in 2013 marked a new chapter and a new focus for his energies.

I’m still holding out for the modern dream-pop sound, a blend of commercially aware accessibility and late 80’s shoegazing references, pop infectiousness and cult integrity, to become the new, dominant form of mass market pop music. Unlikely I know, but if it ever happens Emotive Grey are going to be right at the front of that wave as it crashes into the modern consciousness and becomes the zeitgeist. As the music industry wanders further into a music by numbers situation, using templates providing more of the same to catch the pop fan dollar, the rise of such brilliant blends of dance vibes and old school integrity, artists who understands the long game and the cyclical nature of music, rather than the knee jerk reaction to this weeks fashion are the only real way forward. Welcome to a glimpse of the future. Hopefully.

Words and Music : A Chat with Mario McPherson

We recently had a talk with Edinburgh based producer, artist, studio engineer and all round good chap Mario McPherson, about his path into engineering, production, dance music and beyond and found out what he is up to and what the future holds for him.

1. So, Mario, you have had an interesting career path so far, one that has taken you from DJ to Sound Engineer to now producing and owning your own label. Tell us a bit about the choices and events which have taken you from there to here.

Portrait_bluieshI started out as a photo-journalist specialising in the nigh life events, movie premières, notorious DJ’s and parties I had been sent to cover, in 2002 I choose to switch paths and became a DJ using the contacts I had as a photographer. This saw me DJing in many different places including a number of the fashion week events. By 2008 the hobby had become a profession. In to 2011 I moved to UK (Edinburgh) I studied Sound Engineer and in the 2nd year of the course I chose Electronic Music production.  In 2015 after being lucky enough to work and study at Soma Records, learning Ableton and focusing on master engineering ,I found myself with the skills needed to publish all kind of genres from Ambient to Techno House.

2. And what is the latest project you have on the go?

I love dance music but I want to challenge myself and now I have 3 female vocalist with the aim to start producing more electric song styles. I feel as an artist I have something to tell via my music besides limiting myself just to dance music. My next album is going to be a compilation of various female artist’s full of songs, regardless the genre ambient, dance. No more instrumental.

3. You are also working with Nathassia Devine, how did that come about and what is in the pipeline?

I got a message from Jason (Interdimensional Records) telling me Bruce Elliot-Smith is in Edinburgh and want it to meet me, I went to the venue and I met Nathassia Devine, we click immediately because we both speak Dutch.  Bruce  invited me along  on the“Follow The Light of the World Tour “ 2017 which took us all over the UK  to record all the shows, to interview her after every show for Nathassia TV and Remix a couple of songs.

 

4. What has been the most interesting, challenging or unexpected musical project you have been involved in so far?

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Producing a track for the producer Robot Koch & Little Ashes called “ The Big Now.” From a vocal and a few bells recorded with a phone, I had to produce a whole track,  I was less of what you would call a remix as I had to started pretty much from scratch. The most challenging was reworking a track in a Beatport competition. The track was The Heart of The Noise by from Jean Michel Jarre, and the task was to take a piece of totally ambient electronica and reimagine it as a full on dance track.

 

5. You are based in Edinburgh, what is the city like for electronic music, and original music as a whole?

Ufff, what a question! I love his city it’s the most friendly and warm place I have ever lived, in. I have live  in Amsterdam, Paris, New York, Madrid, Barcelona and I would choose Edinburgh over all of them.  It’s very difficult making a living out of music out in the provinces, its very difficult to find enough regular places to work. I have been sending my CV to work as a volunteer in several studios and I have been rejected several times, even when offering to working for free.  I have been a DJ in a few clubs and I have been called back, I think my music makes people dance too much, and it’s very competitive.  In photography, video, music, any creative career, if you want to succeed you need to move to the main capital, like London, Berlin, Madrid, Paris and the like so I’m very grateful to Edinburgh for allowing me to start building a career.

I’m also very grateful to Glasgow for also giving me the opportunity to learn and be encourage and supportive. A special thanks has to go to Simon Stokes from Soma Records.

6. And what does the future hold for you, what are you aiming for going forward?

This Month I’m  moving to London for six months to study Native Instruments at SRR Studios, still working for Nathassia Devine and Bruce Elliot Smith, and my aim is get as many projects and contacts I can. Hopefully Edinburgh will become my place to rest and London my base for work. Also I really must finish the album I working with, which still doesn’t have a name .

Where Are They? – AIR + KILOMETERS (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

AK_WhereAreThey_COVERIt isn’t often that the philosophical end of astrophysics finds itself entwined with the cutting end of experimental drum and bass, but I have to wonder why it doesn’t happen more often. Fermi’s Paradox has been explored many times, in film, TV and now in music but the basic question remains unanswered. If the universe is infinite and therefore filled with myriad extra-terrestrial civilisations, why have we not yet encountered any? Or put simply…Where Are They?

Air + Kilometers doesn’t provide the answers but it does provide a suitably eclectic dance track to help you ponder the question. It is a quirky and slightly off-kilter blend of blissed out but confident dance, wonky drum and bass, mathy trip-hop and more ambient textures, a journey that takes you from the inner most workings of the enquiring mind out into the vastness of space, a track which links the firing synapses that drive thought with distant galaxies and the very quest for life. How Quantum is that?

Where Are They? is the third release from Anthony Rodriguez’s Threshold, an album which aims to deliver one track a month throughout the year, the first two having already gain critical praise and found a following amongst thinkers, dreamers, clubland EDMers and alt-synth-pop kids alike. Music is a powerful beast, anything drawing lines between the dance floor and the science lab, the dreamweave and the thought-provoking, ecstasy and academia is something to be reckoned with.

Air + Kilometers are the missing link between not only virtual worlds within our own culture, but perhaps between actual, alien worlds and our own planet. And as I listen to this I can’t help thinking that somewhere out there, a radio-telescope on a distant planet is picking up its elegant and wonderfully odd rhythms. The groove is out there!

Scene and Heard  – CCLXXV : Reach a Star –  Soundstream(reviewed by Dave Franklin)

12108198_1061870173845563_7424248225514096850_nRight from the start, there is something of the 90’s Rave scene about Reach a Star, the same vibrancy, the same euphoric rush, but there is also more than a hint of wild, Euro-pop and the slick clubland cool of the modern House scene. But it is also a song built on clever dynamic balance and the way those high octane beats are tempered by wonderfully sparse breakdowns, and vocal and rap interludes, is what marks this out as something very clever indeed.

So with it’s sonic extremes marked out, the song is free to wander between taking in vibrant electro experimentation, fierce dance floor grooves and chilled breakdowns, vocal sweetness and high octane urgency. It may start out in the nostalgic neon glow of rave culture’s past but for the most part this is the sound of Electronic Dance Music of today or even of an era still to come. A future where genres have become irrelevant and the rules are there to be ignored.

Headlights –  LegoHeads (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

LegoHeads_coverPop is a broad term. It’s probably an unnecessary one too. But for every throwaway, mainstream rehash of the genres’s golden age, you stumble across something a lot more clever. Headlights falls very squarely into the latter category. Yes, it’s clearly pop, but it is pop that makes the argument that the genre can be as deft and creative, slick, sassy and forward-thinking as any other genre and here LegoHeads weave synth-pop and modern dance vibes through some classic pop tune structures.

It ticks a lot of boxes, it pulses with a slightly understated but effective uptown funkiness, it chirps and chimes with electronic dance moves, it is both balladic and widescreen yet groovesome and compact. It will turn the heads of dance punters, grab the teen dollar and also soothe the ears of more discerning underground pop pickers. Creating great, forward thinking,  modern, original pop is a task in itself, to do so in such a way that it seems to keep every corner of the wide and diverse market happy simultaneously is something else. LegoHeads or more correctly the man behind  the moniker, Landon Trimble, is clearly a clever songwriter, but I think that he may also be a wizard.

Mission –  Gonetcha (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Gonetcha__Mission__CoverStarting an album review of a band which, up until this point, you knew nothing about, is an interesting thing to undertake. You go into it without any preconceptions, any detailed back story and knowing that anything could greet you on the other side. Often you are met with the familiar and the predictable, something that is pretty much a new take on something you have not only heard before but heard many times already that week. But then there are albums such as Gonetcha’s Mission and you remember that this plunge into the unknown and the unexpected, and the occasional gems it rewards you with, is why you are not earning better money writing about what Dave Grohl’s favourite sandwich is, or what percentage of plastic Nicky Minaj is built from.

If someone like Nick Cave best typifies the dark, sweeping and majestic end point of the western blues derived musical experiment; Gonetcha is the flip side of that coin. Mission comes from a younger, angst ridden and intense place, one that has evolved out of the possibilities afforded by more recent technologies and more likely to tip its hat to Krautrock pioneers and New Romantic non-conformists than the more traditional canon.

Opening salvo Dawn Beat kicks off with some squalling guitars and brooding, industrial backgrounds but the album quickly settles down into a more electro alt-pop vibe. Rockist guitar moves are used to great effect to create the surface detail, meandering riffs and some wonderfully dexterous motifs, but this second album from them pulses with an electro-beat heart. The same heart which drove Kraftwerk’s motornik minimalism, the post-punk reinventions of The Blitz Kids the more commercial movement that they spawned and the alternative dance movements which have woven in and out of popular culture ever since.

Even songs such as Time Zone which seems at first listen to run along more regular rock guitar lines, has something more mechanical going on below, something slightly less man made, more digital than analogue, more computer than human. Submarine Wreck is a strange blend of funk bass and sinister spoken word, demented and dangerous yet infectious and mesmerising and What You Stole wanders down some brooding garage rock pathways.

But it is this balancing act between man and machine which creates the wonderful friction that lies at the heart of the album, able to explore its alt-rock, foot on the monitor, classic stance but also dripping in gothic techno edge and dark dance grooves. If you think that Electronic Dance Music has found its level, that maybe it has nowhere left to go, Gonetcha is your next lesson. I guess that there are a number of bands pushing the electro envelope at the moment, but how many of them are able to juggle dystopian disco, electro-rock, future dance, hi-tech cinematic film score, progressive pop and doom-dance…often in the space of one track. Gonetcha is a band on a mission indeed.

Comrades – Rodney Cromwell (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

123233It’s funny how music so much of the here and now, can at once sound both futuristic and retrospective, but that is the conundrum which Rodney Cromwell’s latest track, Comrades is built on. For whilst is sounds like the formative years of what would eventually coalesce into the post-punk synth-pop scene, that experimental and lo-hi era before it blipped on the industry radar, it also sounds like the sound of something yet to come a “a robotic turbocharged rebel song for the twitter generation.”

It balances an early motorik dance groove with the scope of modern digital creativity, one adding smooth textures and soft layers to the hard beats and sharp edges which lie beneath, all of which becomes more apparent on the extended dance mix, courtesy of synthwave pioneer Vieon. But it is the standard mix which has more drama, a shorter, sharper electro-shock treatment of the song, one building bigger soundscapes and delivering punchier blows, wielding sharper sonic scalpels against raw industrial backdrop.

I keep stumbling across new music which feels the need to say something, folkies writing new rebel songs, rockers shedding off the cliches to deliver articulate diatribes, indie kids turning their back on fashion and looking for truths. If you are someone who’s usual haunt os the clubs and dance floors, then Rodney Cromwell is the one to look too for answers in this post-truth world.

Amiga Uy –  A.M.I.G.A. (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a3272201515_16A.M.I.G.A is an interesting prospect. They may wield synths and make electronic music, mainly aimed at a dance audience but it seems to come from a very different place than most people working in that territory. Maybe I’m just not that well-versed in the underground and the fringes of the club scene, maybe they just do things differently in Montevideo, maybe A.M.I.G.A just think at tangents to everyone else! What ever the reason Amiga Uy is a strange little collection of music which seems to lean heavily on 90’s club and rave culture whilst racing into the future laying out new electronic dance pathways and firing off salvos of sonic art attacks as they go.

Follow Me is a chirpy, minimal dance groove, linguistically fluid and mixing hazy harmonies with clipped techno deliveries and Cybercafe sounds like ABBA re-inventing disco by rewiring broken keyboards and employing folk guitar jams. Verano 2020 is full on rave, hypnotic, glitchy and euphoric and Latinchat is a strange piece of dystopian dance.

I don’t really know what to make of A.M.I.G.A….I’m pretty sure I like it, I’ve played it half a dozen times now so I must do, but it confuses me…but that’s a good thing…right?

Scene and Heard  – CCLXV : In The City –  Samer A. H. (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

24312877_308185736352880_1703339351057275443_nMusic and technology has been blurring the lines between themselves for along time. Jazz musicians amplifying their guitars to be heard over the brass section, post-punk kids rewiring broken keyboards to serve their musical visions and finally with the arrival of the digital revolution. With technology doing the job that was once the responsibility of human players and musicians morphing their sounds through these boxes of futuristic magic, the point where flesh ended and wires began was almost possible to tell. Purists might balk at such an approach, but In The City is its logical conclusion.

It is a song which wanders between two musical worlds, human and digital, creating dance music which revels in auto tuning as an art form, a musical style rather than a studio tool, it blends euphoric grooves with confident dance beats, is unashamedly slickly produced and pulses with a futuristic majesty. But even though this is a duet between mankind and machine, a computer aria, a synth sonata, a real heart beats at its core and the emotion and heartfelt passions which drive the song are unmistakably human.

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