Groove Tunes

Saturday, 4 June 2011

New Design

I've been playing with some templates and the design of the blog. I think it looks a bit better but I'd love to hear your comments about it.

There will be a new review later, I haven't decided what yet though.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Liquid Stranger - The Arcane Terrain

I've been a fan of Liquid Stranger for a while. He is quite a mysterious character. hailing from Sweden, he claims to have little interest in listening to music, aside from his own presumably, and that his main influence is the music from early computer games. In his early works you could hear this clearly but his albums managed to cram in styles such as ambient, jazz, dubstep, psychedelica, reggae, dub, and dancehall.

The Private Riot
His previous two albums, The Private Riot and Mechanoid Meltdown, were almost masterclasses in dubstep. They were both powerful, clean and very tightly produced albums that set very high standards for other dubstep producers to follow. However, his two albums previous to these were more of a dub affair and this is the direction that The Arcane Terrain has returned to.

There is a touch of the Liquid Stranger dubstep sound on this though. The production, is incredibly clear and precise, as good dance music should be and all of Liquid Stranger's releases are. It is slightly heavier than the earlier dub albums, undoubtedly a sign of the dubstep influence seeping through.

In fact, this sounds remarkably like a perfect crossover of his dub sound and that of The Private Riot with the driving and dirty basslines swelling and wobbling, and the heavy and tight drum punching through the mix, both fitting perfectly with the psychedelic sounds swirling around in the background.

The Intergalatic Slapstick, of Liquid
Stranger's dub albums
The second track features some deep and dancehall-esque vocals coming in when the elastic bass cuts out. The mix on this track is so spacious and tight, it really shows off Liquid Stranger's style and skills in making an absolutely banging track with multiple influences and polishing it in to one of the most pleasurable listening experiences you can have, like sweet candy for the ears.

The seventh track, Totem, starts off with some kind of Asian sounding flute before the track goes completely bhangra, Liquid Stranger style of course. The female vocals throughout are beautiful, again the incredible production making everything stand out and shine.

The influences continue to come, quite often in Asian flavours, but all the time fitting well with the dub, dubstep and psychedelic framework. Liquid Stranger seems to be heading in the right direction and getting stronger all the time. This album makes me think of artists such as Shpongle, Infected Mushroom, Ott, Hallucinogen (the dub remixes album) and Younger Brother.

I can't recommend this enough, it has some of the finest dub and dubstep I've heard in a long time. I didn't think Liquid Stranger could top The Private Riot but I think he has done it with The Arcane Terrain . A true masterpiece and a modern classic in my opinion.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Murcof - La Sangre Iluminada

Mexican producer Murcof produces ambient electronic music that is rich in textures and imagery. This is his sixth album and is a little bit more spacial and ambient than his usual offerings.

The last album I heard from him was Remembranza, which was excellent, full of glitchy, orchestral and almost dubstep pieces, many of which went on for seven or eight minutes.

This album has a very similar sound except without the glitchy dubstepness. The album is made of twenty tracks, generally only a minute or two long. There are more textural sounds and more of a focus on the ambient element, the result being a rather well put together, thought out album with a continuous theme running through each track.

The third album, Remembranza 
There are multiple versions of the same movements but this doesn't get as repetitive or boring as you might expect. The flow and pace is kept by the tracks being mixed in with each other and the samples and textures constantly evolving to keep it fresh. Murcof explores the sonic soundscapes of each mini theme within the grander idea, and does it successfully.

The general sound of the album is quite dark and perhaps depressing, but strangely, also uplifting at the same time. The orchestral samples work as well as ever with the electronic parts that float in and out, stabbing here and there, the difference in origin and tone between the two somehow being blurred in to a coherent whole, densely packed with flavours and colours.

As far as ambient albums go this is really quite good. The tracks might be too short for some, which is understandable, it's not unusual for song lengths in this genre to be in the ten to fifteen minute region. Having said that I think most fans of ambient and electronica in general could like it when given a chance in the right setting and time.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Back To Normal!

After a slight technical hitch I've managed to get the blog back to normal so go ahead and read my latest review of the Venetian Snares EP, Cubist Reggae

Venetian Snares - Cubist Reggae

I can't say I'm a huge fan of Venetian Snares, I've heard couple of albums but a lot of it is a bit too intense for me. Reggae is the last thing you (or I at least) would expect them to do. But sure enough, they have made some reggae. Well, of a sort.

I doubt very much that many die hard reggae fans would even call it reggae as it is actually more like electro dub than anything else. I suppose it is exactly what you would expect if Venetian Snares listened to a lot of dub and used it as an influence.

It is not even straightforward electro dub. The first track is the only one that really resembles reggae but it is like some futuristic computer-gone-crazy kind of reggae. There are loads of edits and glitches, and only a very vague melodic theme weaved through the track, but also a definite skank and lovely bassline.

There is also a strange and slightly creepy pitched down vocal line, not singing but talking. Towards the end you hear some massive reverbs, typical in dub, and some echoes which remind you that this is some kind of an attempt at dub. I can't imagine how long it took to make this, it sounds like it was started with a regular electro reggae track and then remixed and edited for hours and hours.

The second track is the one that resembles dub the most. It starts with an almost conventional skank and upbeat but quickly descends into glitchy edits again, although this is done with focus and doesn't sound completely out of place or unnecessary. The echoes and reverbs are there but there is also a very dark sound or theme that comes in halfway through the track in a luscious pad breakdown . The track fades out to leave this pad but comes back in again with a vengeance, taking the hyper-editing even further, which actually adds quite a lot of pace and even drama to the track.

The other two tracks on Cubist Reggae go back to a more typical Venetian Snares style with less of the dub and reggae influence, although it is still there, just much less so. I don't listen to a lot of this type of music so I don't have much to compare it to but the last track reminds me of Aphex Twin a lot with the unbelievable hyper-editing and the dark yet beautiful melodies floating behind a foreground of madness.

For me, this is the best music that I have heard from Venetian Snares. As you would expect, it is highly original, genre jumping, intense, and incredibly unusual. If you're a fan of electronic dance music and/or dub then you should check this out.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Late - Phantom Papers

There's something about Scandinavian music. It seems to almost have an inherent cold beauty, often composed of delicate and floating melodies. Finnish dubstep producer Late is no different.

This isn't the usual kind of style that most people think of when they hear the word 'dubstep'. This four track EP doesn't sound like it's trying to compete a Most Aggressive Bassline award. There is none of what often gets termed brostep. In fact, it couldn't be much gentler while remaining danceable.

Sounds Familiar...

There are a fairly obvious comparison to early Burial that has to be made. Although it's not likely that you would hear this EP and mistake it for Burial, there are elements of his influence weaved into the sound.

The soft female vocals, the lo-fi crackly old vinyl sounds and the similar type of clean yet minimal beats are certainly reminiscent of Burial's first album sound but at the same time sound original and fresh. It would be unfair to disregard this artist as just another Burial clone as it deserves so much more attention and respect than that.

Future Garage

The Future Garage genre is veering off in a different direction than it's cousin, dubstep. Some would say this is a very good thing and tend to agree. It's fresh to hear music like Late's EP. It is melodic, has the classic old shuffle in the drums that always used to be characteristic of dubstep, and at the same time does sound new.

Phantom Papers is a beautiful collection of tracks which I would recommend to anyone. Fans of electronic music in general, who perhaps don't really like dubstep, would enjoy this EP as it isn't your typical run of the mill dubstep. Chilled, cleanly produced and full of melody, this is definitely one to check out.

Monday, 30 May 2011

The Third Eye Foundation - The Dark

It's been a while since I've heard anything from Third Eye Foundation. The last I heard was excellent Little Lost Soul and although I have taken a keen interest in the solo/side project of Matt Elliot, it's not been the same without Third Eye Foundation around.

The Third Eye Foundation produce something quite unusual. It is primarily dark drum and bass but it could be said that it is more IDM but it is more than either of those genres, sometimes bordering on ambient, sometimes almost classical. A common theme to the sound is the haunting operatic vocals that are warped and twisted, swirling around the complicated and dissected beats. And this album is no different.

It opens with some lovely piano softy tinkling away as more sounds, the characteristic eerie vocals gradually fading in and the beats growing in complexity and edits. As with nearly all Third Eye Foundation tracks, there is a soft and melodic chord progression pinning the song down, holding the song from escaping in to complete abstraction.

The album seems like it is intended to be listened to as a whole as all the songs are mixed in to one another and change seamlessly, creating a forty three minute epic sound-scape. The songs are quite lengthy but the don't get boring, even though they have no definable structure, with the edits and the constant changing sound keeping your interest all the time. The pace builds throughout the album, peaking at almost a wall of sound.

The title is very apt, dark it is. It is the kind of music you can imagine going through the head of someone completely unstable but it is focused, cleverly written and strangely ambient at the same time as being intense and not the easiest record to listen to. It may not be an album that you will love the first time you hear it and you probably have to be in the right mood for it but when you are in that certain frame of mind, this is a masterpiece.

Maybe not for everyone as it is fairly avant-garde in its own way, but you should give it a chance, it will probably grow on you.

This video is quite short but it sums the album up well, showing the orchestral and melodic beauty as well as the intense beats.


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