December 3, 2022

The Beach Boys - Sail on Sailor - 1972 Boxset drives home the brilliance of this magical and underrated period of Beach Boys history


Sail on Sailor The Beach Boys Super Deluxe Boxset, AirdriftSignals Music Magazine

We live in a time where the excess of everything in media can feel overwhelming; that there's so much music, film, and entertainment to consume that nothing feels sacred anymore and nearly everything that's made has been touched upon before. The question of deep and soulful music that stands out in the sea of music past and present can be answered with the many greats who have graced our collective culture, however, none of them have had as varied and tumultuous of a career as the brilliant yet personally flawed Beach Boys. Their latest archival boxset of unreleased live and studio recordings focuses on a time when the magic of music made them and changed them for the better. 

Sail on Sailor - 1972 is such a great and enlightening release that it's hard to overstate the amazing sounds contained in this extraordinary set. It was a time when Brian Wilson's mental state was forcing his brother Carl's hand in taking the reins and assuming the role of bandleader. Although Brian's reluctance to write songs after his infamous mental break was already a thing, Carl was able to take the group in a direction of his short-lived high school rock band, Carl and The Passions. After recruiting two new Beach Boys members Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar on guitar and drums, and the departure of Bruce Jonhston, the new lineup recorded and released Carl and The Passions - "So Tough", a passion project of Carl's sprinkled with elements of rock, soul, and gospel. 

Their follow-up, Holland, was more well-received at the time as a more progressive rock record, but both have since become great fan-favorites and classics of fans in the know. Brian's brief mode of inspiration was a whimsical fairy tale featuring the Pied Piper. His resulting Mount Vernon and Fairway suite perplexed the rest of the band. Carl and the rest who initially rejected it for inclusion on Holland put Brian into a deep depression, which forced the group to reconsider. Carl then began to take a liking to the off-kilter fairy tale story, and thus Holland became packaged with the suite as a bonus EP. It’s music and child-like wonder still to this day remains a musical treat and an artifact of Brian’s progress and personal journey. 

Besides these two seminal albums which were recorded the same year comes the treasure trove of session takes, acapellas, completed yet unreleased studio tracks, and live cuts, most of them never before released. The 2022 mixes and vocal takes show off the genius of The Beach Boys, while the live concert sets, some of which were cherry-picked for the awesome The Beach Boys In Concert double album, shows this lineup in rare form unlike any live rendition of the band from any other era. Live songs have better instrumentation than previous live concerts, and are noticeably more fresh and rocking than any of their later concerts as they transitioned into an oldies nostalgia act. 

On this 60th anniversary year of the group’s inception, Sail on Sailor - 1972 is a spectacular look at one of the coolest times to be a Beach Boys fan. It’s wild to think that it’s the 50th anniversary of the recordings of these two albums. Still, the music is just as fresh, amazing, and unique as it’s ever been and these unreleased cuts only seal the deal.  

Sail on Sailor - 1972 2LP vinyl set
Sail on Sailor - 1972 6 CD Super Deluxe set

Sail on Sailor - 1972 5LP vinyl set

July 22, 2022

My Top 100 All-Time Albums

DJ Dark Flow Top 100 Albums

After stumbling across an excellent website,, I realized that I could take a crack at putting together a top 100 album list. The resulting list is my top 100 albums of all time from my own personal music journey. 

Are there any albums that you see on here that would make it onto your list? Albums that I may be missing or should be listening to? Decide for yourself and let me know in the comments. Make your own list and reach out to me when you do. Have an awesome day and go with the flow~

May 28, 2021

How to successfully downsize your vinyl player setup without sacrificing audio quality

My downsized but upgraded vinyl record setup

Being a part of a few vinyl social circles, I have seen a number of posts of newcomer’s setups, which usually include a suitcase record player, and this motivated me to share my own downsized setup and my story of how it came to be. It is awesome to see so many new record lovers’ humble beginnings! Loving and collecting records is really a special thing. When the album artwork (especially if it’s cool art) is that much larger to behold its beauty in your hands while listening to a nice set of speakers or headphones, it makes the music listening experience so much more immersive.

1 by One all-in-one entertainment system

1970s era discontinued Bang and Olefsen speakersMy setup is an amalgam of luck and being forced to downsize my space. When my wife and I moved to a smaller but cozier apartment, I was forced to store up my full sized player, stereo receiver, and giant speakers. I had no player for a while. My wife and her sister went in on the best Christmas gift I ever got, this 1 by One all-in-one player. Vinyl, CDs, cassettes, radio, aux, Bluetooth, and USB drives with the ability to play music files but also record from vinyl to the drive in lossless format. This was a great little box! It was only the first step though, as built-in speakers for these box players aren’t optimal.

Some years prior while helping a guy build his house we needed to take a trip to Waterbury to the Home Depot for some supplies. On our trip back along the main road was a set of furniture and an old sound system on the curb of someone's property. I asked my friend to stop so I could take it and put it behind our seats in his pickup truck. I found out later from my brother-in-law, who is also an audiophile, that these were Bang and Olefsen speakers that were manufactured in the late '70s and were discontinued around '79. They were kept in VG+ condition and he kept confirming with me that I picked them up off the side of the road. He was in disbelief about that. I guess the lesson here is to never gloss over a free sound system on the side of the road. You never know what people are giving away for free. 

Lepy Super Bass Power Amplifier

The final step to my downsized but upgraded setup was an amplifier. My box has the regular red and white speaker outputs in the back but my B&O speakers only had copper wiring. My brother-in-law recommended a nice amp on Amazon that could connect these parts. I went with the Lepy Super Bass power amplifier. At 39 dollars with tax it was just 40 bucks on Amazon. This amplifier allowed me to connect the red and white cables to it and then the copper wiring of my B&Os to it. I can adjust the treble and bass to my liking and maximize the sound output better than the built-in speaker could previously.

Now with the built-in speakers on at a lower volume to help fill out the middle of the space, my setup became complete. It only cost me 40 bucks out of pocket. My dad who got me into music and record collecting at a young age has asked me to never get rid of my B&Os because to his ear he never heard such clarity from speakers that are made nowadays.

I’d like to also share a couple of recent record purchases and preorders. I am also committed to keeping my own collection very curated and small, so I only want to hold on to absolute gems and essentials that I wouldn’t want to live without. This aspect of record collecting could prove a tough habit to keep in check, as new records can always tempt a fan to purchase and grow their collection. The cabinet my dad also gave me when he was cleaning out our family home. I bought the Crosley crate for my favorites. 

Crosley Vinyl Crate and free record cabinet from Dad
I hope this inspires some newcomer vinyl lovers to continue to upgrade their setups with amplifiers, speakers, and understand that it is possible to have a downsized vinyl setup that doesn't sacrifice audio quality. Never forget to also to be aware of any curb alerts in your neighborhoods, as you never know the quality of sound systems that people might be putting on the road for free. Peace and have a great day.

The Beach Boys In Concert vinyl LP in VG+ condition for 8 dollars on Amazon

The Beach Boys In Concert clean vinyl LP

Dennis Wilson Bambu record store day green vinyl LP

Dennis Wilson Bambu record store day green vinyl LP

Flying Lotus Yasuke red vinyl LP preorder

April 7, 2021

Dark Flow Designs Etsy Shop - Visually Stunning Kaleidoscopic Art

Dark Flow Designs

I am unveiling the launch of my brand new Etsy shop, Dark Flow Designs! Over the past few years, I have enjoyed creating various abstract artwork. Two years ago, I used this artwork that I have created for my DJ Dark Flow music releases, namely my Cracking the Code and Backwords Thoughts singles and my Crystallize album cover. 

Now, I am pleased to announce that many of these unreleased abstract pieces will be available for purchase as wall art decorations to enhance any living space or creativity. Take a look at the shop by following this link, and stay tuned for newly released artwork from my visual branch of creativity, Dark Flow Designs! Stay creative and stay safe. 

February 16, 2021

Transatlantic duo Configa and Hastyle unleash The ConfigHas Crates, setting hip-hop ablaze!

Hip-hop has been through many trends over the years. As the founding hip-hop genre has inevitably morphed into subgenres such as east and west coast hip-hop, underground, gangsta rap, conscious rap, crunk, southern rap, trap, mumble rap, etc., the prevailing sound has always been real hip-hop. Old heads remind the younger generations of aspiring artists and avid fans, while newer players help by keeping the style alive. The ConfigHas Crates is no different, as transatlantic duo Configa (beats) and Hastyle (rhymes) prove that no "body" can keep these two talented artists apart for this compilation, exhumed, electrified, and brought back to life. 

The album opens with the medium tempo’d upbeat loops of Something I Said and Hastyle wastes no time calling out those who have ghosted him in the past. "Now you waving farewell, never return my messages on the cell, son I know you got my voicemail, text messages and email, what the hell? How could you do me like? Is it jealousy, envy, why are you screwing me, black, I’m Hastyle fam." The beat is bountiful with soulful vocals and licks while Hastyle uses his storytelling powers to deliver a message that many people can relate to when falling out of touch or when there’s no telling why a person drops someone for seemingly no reason. Was it something he said? He doesn’t take long to wonder and moves to focus on what is happening for him "Now". Now features rapper Nine on the second verse who brings a hardened and gritty swagger to this head-bobbing and sultry cut. The nearly buried coos of soul singers and flirtatious horns brings to the forefront the tasteful productions that Configa’s become known for, and Hastyle bookends the verses with his smooth-as-butter flow, commenting on the struggle that still affects his life and complementing the call and response of a sampled singers call for what’s going on "Now."

Enemies Closer almost flows seamlessly from Now as it shares the previous sample as it picks up the pace into a militaristic and Wu-inspired beat. The sampled vocals in the mix remind the listener and Hastyle to "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." Hastyle riffs off this reminder and recounts the times that friends and family has not come through for him, but why he still prefers to keep tabs on his enemies. Sadat X pulls up for a couple verses and questions the true motives of so-called friends, while Hastyle drops more jewels of knowledge, "true friends sometimes are there, and then abra-cadabra, like Houdini they wanna disappear, that’s why I rather have enemies as supporters, keep your best friends close, enemies even closer." The haunting choir-like beat is reminiscent of cuts from militant minded emcees such as Jedi Mind Tricks or Immortal Technique, but for Configa it’s just another flavor of his multi-colored repertoire of beats. Water Colors is yet another example of how many colors and styles The ConfigHas Crates is willing to draw from. It opens with a bright and flirtatious piano skit of Hastyle scoping a beautiful lady he’s determined to win. The following beat sounds Eastern-inspired, with a chorus of cello and fluttering violins that give this track a really down to Earth vibe. Hastyle turns artful as he tries to woo a pretty lady with his steady wit and conversation and takes a leap of faith. 

Alpha Bits gives up another wild beat for Hastyle to test his speed on. The reverberating bass-y and melodic music starts to run alongside Hastyle and the pair never take a misstep in this seriously funky and jazzy number. It’s almost hard to imagine that an energy like this is still rising, but suffice it to say it’s just about to plateau with the follow-up song, Sticky. "It’s a sticky situation, got me feeling sensations, like I’m on medication, taking the pain away, I love her but I gotta leave her, I’m addicted gotta be with her, I’m stuck in the game, it’s just me and Mary Jane," Hastyle takes the chorus and likens the herb to a love-addicted romance. The beat fizzles and whistles in such a way that it begs the question if MJ would truly enhance this listening experience. Rah Digga blesses this track with her unmistakable charm and raps about the writers block that can come and go with the "sticky, the snowy, the smelly, the hairy" and drowning in the liquor. "I’m lying to myself, I can’t write without it, I’m lightin’ up another, my vision’s still clouded, I said ‘oh well’, I put the pen down, swimming in these strange clouds, let a bitch drown." Despite feeling lost in this cloud of bliss, Hastyle, Configa, and Rah Digga resign themselves to just enjoy the moment, and what a moment it really is. 

Lik a Shot, featuring Wordsworth and Rashan, settles into a smoother groove and Hastyle muses over his lyrical weaponry while he takes some shots with his guests. Wordsworth and Rashan add a nonstop flow that gives this posse a special slice in the ConfigHas canon. The subject matter then drops into a more realized and pointed track in Mind Control. Hastyle questions the powers-that-be by calling out the multiple conspiracy theories without disproving any in particular. He focuses instead on the government and media’s culpability to control the minds of those who are unaware. El Da Sensei drops in on the funky seventies-television-style beat and pulls up bars concerning police brutality, mass killings, gang violence, unemployment, and the systemic failures that lead to violence in communities. World War Rap featuring Prince Po feels like the next logical progression from Mind Control. Hastyle raps in the chorus, "the World War started, now the world’s cold-hearted, and everything on the radio is garbage, all you rapper’s on the market, you don’t want to be our next target." Prince Po speaks of a revolution and resolutely spits disses aimed at the fake emcees who spit dumbed down rhymes. He reminds the cotton candy rappers that him and Hastyle are hungry and the wack emcees are about to be devoured. Soldiers March opens with a faux newscast that is reporting on genocidal crimes against humanity that is tongue-in-cheek while not entirely downplaying the problem. Hastyle opens this cut with a verse about the brainwashed boots on the ground, who are trained to follow the orders of their government masters. Chino XL cuts into the assault-rifle-laden-produced beat and murders the mic with his unstoppable flow. Outro is a witty final take as Configa and Hastyle’s Midas touch blesses the beat with a review of all their previous songs from the album. It’s short, sweet, and gives listeners a necessary lesson in real hip-hop. Configa’s funky melodic lines of the final cut complement Hastyle’s overall confidence and swagger that he has exuded throughout, and it’s undeniable that this pairing is peanut butter and jelly. 

The ConfigHas Crates is a compilation spanning the years between ‘13-‘15, and it’s no question that the material presented here is meant to grace the ears of real hip-hop heads today. As the saying goes, better late than never. With this album, both producer and emcee show off their endless versatility and prove that there’s no style or rhyme that’s safe from them as they move into the future. Until that time comes though, we’ve got something really special to behold, that we can treasure "Now." 

Configa and Hastyle’s album can be purchased on their Bandcamp page. The ConfigHas Crates is available on all music streaming platforms and Configa can be followed on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @configa. 

Recommended Tracks: Now, Sticky, Lik A Shot

November 18, 2020

Earth’s Full Upon Her Burning Lips (2019) is an awesome showcase of doom metal, and probably the ultimate example of metal you can chill to

Earth Full Upon Her Burning Lips AirdriftSignals Music Magazine

Earth, a group that helped to define and form the genre of ambient metal, doom, drone, or stoner metal, has had multiple releases since the early 1990s. Taking elements from grunge and other forms of heavy metal music, Earth's founding member Dylan Carlson was notably friends with Kurt Cobain. Earth's origins in Seattle also explain this emerging hub of hard rock music that continues to be a haven of major and independent music to this day. Their latest release was last year's Full Upon Her Burning Lips, and while I am guilty of sleeping on this instrumental album, Earth has remained a personal favorite of mine, as they defined the perfect form of metal that you can relax to. Full Upon Her Burning Lips builds upon their previous releases and makes for an engrossing showcase of strong and steady guitar riffs and atmospheric drums and percussion. 

Unlike their previous release, 2014’s Primitive and Deadly (another favorite Earth release of mine), this album drops the vocal features and even sheds some members, making this release the most bare-bones of any previous releases, with Carlson teaming up again with longtime percussionist and drummer Adrienne Davies. With some overdubbing by Carlson to play bass guitar as well, this recipe of tasteful percussion and repeated guitar riffs have the ability to grow on a listener and nestle comfortably inside their head long after the echoes of these instruments fade, which is paramount to Full Upon Her Burning Lips's lasting impact. 

The album opens with a fairly long 12-minute march, Datura's Crimson Veils, which plays as more of an Earth standard for those who have come to know their style of melodies. The tones reverberate to the rising cymbals, which builds a noticeably foreboding atmosphere. Before long, this doom metal slowly thumps and washes over the mix in a steady call and response of its drop-D tuned guitar and sparsely chosen percussive beats. It repeats again and again, but eventually cracks the surface with its behemoth orbit of riffs that pay off famously with slow-motion solos, and then returns back to the start. Such is the songwriting style of Earth, as they slowly pay off carefully chosen riffs with a delicious and satisfying answer to the questions their instruments pose. Exaltation of Larks is the most straight-forward, Sabbath-inspired track of the album, and it formed as more of a studio improvisation between Carlson and Davies. 

Cats on The Briar is another example of how Earth uses call-and-response, but this time using multiple guitars that Carlson overdubs, and focusing on a brighter tone and key than the songs that came before. This key change is what makes Cats on The Briar stand out the most of what's come so far. The Colour of Poison hits more slowed-down Sabbath stoner metal vibes with its dark and descending opening. The real meat of this track kicks in a little after a minute in. It's a riff that any metalhead could recognize as one played by any heavy metal band, but Earth still makes The Colour of Poison all their own. Descending Belladonna is an interesting cut in that it was inspired by the group being tasked with performing a live soundtrack performance for the screening of the film Belladonna of Sadness in 2016. Its main riff is fragile sounding, and its bridge sections are designed to fall away into a momentary drone and minimal tempo held by Davies. This song is a character all its own and it likely fixed itself into the atmosphere of the animated movie very cohesively. 

She Rides an Air of Malevolence instantly feels like a ride with the wicked witch, as Carlson's intricate guitar melodies and Davies' cymbal, maraca, and snare hits make this another strong song that is hard to get out of the head long after it has played. Maidens Catafalque is a dissonant, somewhat messy, improvisational studio cut that wears out its welcome as soon as it's over. The practice of spontaneity in songwriting though cannot be faulted because it still feels held together, despite how loose it sounds. The last trio of tracks strongly wraps up this instrumental earworm of an album. An Unnatural Carousel is a fantastic display of multiple guitar overdubs and Davies' steadily held drum pattern. She has made mention of how unexpectedly difficult it really is to drive a doom metal track at such a slow pace, and for her work on these tracks, there really grows an appreciation for her foundation that she builds. The Mandrake's Hymn lifts its head and feels hopeful as it nears the end and A Wretched Country of Dust goes for the minor key as it bows out, displaying an attitude of masters that are far from done as the curtains close. The riffs are reminders that this isn't the end and there's more good riffs to be found and played over and over again in the future. 

What Earth does in this album released last year is something special. Their brand of impressively slow stoner metal or doom metal is a perfect companion to literally doing or working on anything, which is by no means an insult to their music by itself. The music, when actively listened to, rewards and repeats with carefully formed riffs, melodies, and drum patterns. The music Earth makes is an essential part of this subgenre of drone, doom, stoner, and ambient metal, and anyone who enjoys this album should definitely check out each of their past releases. Here's to a brand new decade and hoping this metal pair stick it out long after their now 30-year career. 

Full Upon Her Burning Lips - 8.25/10

Recommended tracks: Exaltation of Larks, Cats on The Briar, Descending Belladonna