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Review: Rolemusic – Straw Fields [enrmp262]

Free netlabel music may not have penetrated the orchestral hall, or been streamed in luxury hotels. But one purpose it has achieved– it has supplied a lot of fun music for people with open minds. For me, chiptune is a bit of an anomaly– why go back to primitive electronics, when it comes time to create songs? The resolution is lower– everything sounds gritty, and well, ’80’s– so– why?

In Rolemusic’s “Straw Field”, I believe I have found an answer to this question– sheerly for fun. There is something very entertaining about these pieces. They are not without complexity, but have absolutely no pretension.

It all reminds me of watching a friend’s young son huddled over a portable Mario game last year. My imagined question, “Why”, is met with the equally, if not more appealing response, “Why NOT”?

Are you a fan of chiptunes? Not sure what they are? Either way, definitely check this release out, it is a sheer pleasure.

Straw Fields at Archive.org

Categories: Reviews, Uncategorized

Review: Adamned Age – Fragile

One outstanding feature about Adamned Age is that her brand of IDM/jazz/ambience has inspired both people I agree with and people I don’t. What I mean to say is, there is something transcendent about Hanne Adam’s musical project. And of all the many acts I have heard online, she is perhaps the most worthy of some kind of professional recognition.

“Fragile”, released on the excellent Camomille Netlabel, takes some familiar sounds and extends them nicely. Synth bells, glitchey sounds, washes, and other elements are familiar to fans of Adamned Age. But in this release, the composition sends the sounds into a spacier realm, where tension is manifested and released, and where swirls of sound relate magically to one another in ways that are pleasing to the ear. I often found myself, while listening, thinking, “Did THAT work? Yes, it DID!”.

Where some artists have resorted to cheap tricks or machismo, Hanne Adam contrinues to sketch her portrait in the world of music with painstaking detail. She is a worthy artist, and one who unites critics, until all or nearly all agree that she has achieved something noteworthy with her work. Listen or download now:

Fragile on Camomille Music.

Categories: Reviews

Review: Yair López – epep popo

Sometimes when music is just annoying enough, it no longer annoys me but entertains, and this is the case with Yair Lopez’ “epop popo”, from the Amplified Music Pollution netlabel. In lieu of a beat, there is a kind of repetition, but it is manual– presumably it is Mr. Lopez tweaking a setting on a toy or other gadget using circuit-bending techniques. This creates very nice glitch material– especially with tracks like “Altamar”, which is my favorite. In “Altamar”, all varieties of static and electrical sounds are represented, thanks to Mr. Lopez’ expert circuit-noodling. Machines can be musical– perhaps that is no surprise to some, but in cases for me it was like watching the YouTube video of the elephant that could paint itself.

Releases like these can serve many purposes– for me “epop popo” is both fun to listen to and generative in terms of the kinds of sounds possible. This release would make an excellent source for remixers. I also think that some of the sounds could be explored in a design setting, such as sound effects for a film. Abstract noises like these are so versatile! If any of these thoughts intrigue, I would urge you to have a listen to Yair Lopez’ fine circuit bending release,

Categories: Reviews

Review: Arie – Cold Up Norf

Arie - Cold Up Norf

Arie – Cold Up Norf (Planet Terror Records)

One of the many tricks to decent Dub is, in my eternally humble opinion, the ability to craft out an abyss of bass which bubbles along just deeply enough to offer up the duvet of sounds which marks the genre out but not quite so wandering and lost as to require a hefty amount of THC in your system before you can grasp on to it. A rule forgotten on occasion – especially by the modern breed of bedroom based producers who can easily imagine an appeal which is invisible to everyone else whilst lost in the structures of what they’re doing.

Arie, of Sheffield based Planet Terror Records, however, doesn’t fall for the trap of self-indulgent bass intricacy with his release Cold Up Norf. It’s a six-track EP but each track has sufficient meat to it to make it a worthwhile and well formed effort, mixing in Garage and Dance elements with some healthily abyss like Dub beats which offer up an almost perfect level of immersion if you’re in the mood for it. And I say ‘almost perfect’ not because there’s anything in particular missing from Cold Up Norf, at least nothing easily described, but compare this release to something in the same sphere, like Dig & Delve from Arie’s Planet Terror label mate Titus Twelve, and there is an undefinable something missing. I suspect that it’s the final touches of uniqueness which Arie has missed out on, although there are some nice hooks in there it’s not quite enough to carve out a recognisable niche. The quality is there but the sound is still emerging. For criticisms beyond that there’s only really the occasional poorly placed interjection of Danciness into the proceedings – which might just be an illusion from my own dislike for the more hackneyed Dance devices which have a tendancy to poking up rather than a complaint which anyone else would share.

To balance that out though and prove that I do actually quite like this album, whatever my complaints might suggest, the beats on Cold Up Norf are undoubtedly good, minimally constructed as they are there’s no sense of sparseness about them, indeed there’s a rich sound here which offers up a beautifully easy and indulgent listen.

I’d make a definite recommendation of Cold Up Norf if you like your Dub heavy and dark (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t) but it’s a staple addition to the collection, not a remarkable one.

Download ‘Cold Up Norf’

 

Categories: Reviews

Review: Texture – Synaesthesia

SYNAESTHESIA - TEXTURE

SYNAESTHESIA – TEXTURE (Black Lantern Music)

A while back I reviewed ‘Aphasia‘, an EP from Texture which, like ‘Synethesia’, came out on the Black Lantern Music label, one of my favourites since back in the days of The Creative UnCommons and a reliable source for intelligent (and seldom pretentious) Hip Hop and Trip Hop. I largely had good things to say about Texture back then and not much has changed since fortunately.

The beats on Synaesthesia (again coming from a couple of sources including the returning Morphamish and Salem Anders alongside lyrical contributions from Kid Ritalin on ‘Non-Sequitr’) are a little subtle for my tastes, with only a couple of obvious (and interestingly original) hooks to hold the attention but that’s clearly partly by intent rather than a lack of forethought as the general feel with Texture is more of a confined sound, with beats and lyrics merging together in a hypnotic flow. Which would be a problem but for the fact that lyrically there’s enough here to make the rhythmic foundation make sense.

So, on to that lyrical side of things, Texture retains the same predilection for melodic yet densely packed delivery which demands more than a single listen to properly start to fully appreciate but then that’s no bad thing and the demanding blocks are balanced out by a handful of well constructed interludes within tracks which are light enough to strike some compromise. There’s added interest in seeing the identity of Scottish alongside other UK Hip Hop breaking down into recognisable voices and continuing down the path to sounding like an independent entity, free, in part, from the traditional behemoth of the US which has long been the cultural looting pot over here. A sense of self already blossoming at times but still outside of the majority and the general consensus on the genre.

Anyway, that’s a bit off topic so ‘Synaesthesia’, another quality release and well worth a download.

On a bit of a side-note ‘The Dawn View’ a track from this release was just featured on the rather spiffy Density of Sound CC podcast which you can check out here.

Categories: Reviews

Review: Rivers of Ashes – Breaching the Fabric [wh149]

I am somewhat active at the forum for a major ambient label, and a big discussion there is about how the ambient scene is being destroyed by certain types of music. The old timers at the board are especially upset by all of the free releases of a drone-ey nature coming out. I guess the fear is that that type of music will replace old school ambient cds, sentimentally for sale at the record shop.

I myself am not sentimental in this way, and I choose to embrace free music. I also really enjoy good drones. I suppose it’s people like myself— and Rivers of Ashes– who will be writing the epitaph for the ambient scene of the ’00’s.

However, I believe we will enjoy doing it. This release, “Breaching the Fabric”, is absolutely stunning, full of lush sounds and dark chords. The compositions are not dauntingly complex, but they are certainly active enough, with plenty of acoustic touches added. The effect of listening is similar to, say, a Roach-ian “Immersion” piece, but, I have to say, better, with quiet changes continuing to evolve. Never is the listener trapped in this sensation of being fed simply a loop.

Bravo to Rivers of Ashes– I anxiously await hearing more of their quality dark ambient / drone material.

Listen here: http://www.archive.org/details/wh149

Categories: Reviews

Review- dUASsEMIcOLCHEIASiNVERTIDAS – I [enrmp257]

This release by dUASsEMIcOLCHEIASiNVERTIDAS is pretty tight. It’s jazz. That’s unusual for Enough Netlabel, but I assure you, it is not a bad thing.

One thing I like about free netlabel music is its ability to infiltrate my musical world. More and more I am listening to free netreleases, in the evening after work, in the morning while brushing my teeth, and at all times of day.

I did not expect for netmusic to also infiltrate the bar where I go on occasion to have a beer, but now it has.

What I mean is that this music, the release “I”, is as full and jazzy as any tunes I might hear at my local beer hall, with the nice exceptions that these are new (to me) and free. I see no reason why local bars should not play this release on Friday nights– it has everything you want, from subtle saxophones to twinkling vibes.

Next will I hear a free netrelease in the airport? Never say never.

Listen here: “I” at Archive.org.

Categories: Reviews