Showing posts with label Instrumental. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Instrumental. Show all posts

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~

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

September 30, 2020

Sunn O)))'s twin album releases, Life Metal and Pyroclasts (2019), are a fantastic entry point into drone metal - Album reviews

Two releases that have escaped me over the past year were from drone metal gods, Sunn O))) (pronounced just Sun, and aptly named after the popular Sunn amplifiers which ceased operation in 2002), with their half-improvised, half-composed twin albums, Life Metal, and Pyroclasts. For any newcomers to this genre of mammoth sounds and drastically slowed reverberations, these two (relatively) new releases cement this duo's legacy as drone metal pioneers and an awesome entry point for anyone interested in pulling back the veil of the eternal void.

Life Metal 

Sunn O))) Life Metal Album Artwork

Recorded alongside Pyroclasts and released six months earlier, Life Metal is a play on words and an inside joke between band members and collaborators, since they refer to life metal as the opposite of the genre term, death metal, and therefore anything that isn't "doom and gloom". For context, Sunn O))) duo Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley have found themselves in a good place at this time in their lives over their 20+ year career, with one recently becoming a father. Thus, Life Metal is the sum of this personal contentment and Anderson's creative challenge to compose a drone album that is less dark in tone.

Consisting of only four tracks each, Sunn O)))'s wall of sound is devastating in its tonal envelope and metal riffs. By trading off between drone and riff-maker, Anderson and O'Malley, with the help of some frequent collaborates and the recording assistance of legendary producer Steve Albini, created two masterworks, and the first Sunn O))) albums that are recorded and mixed entirely in analog equipment. This ultimately recreates the exact tonal experience of seeing the group in a live performance setting.

Starting off with Between Sleipnir's Breaths, which is a Norse mythology reference to the eight-legged horse that the god Odin rides on, it is bookended by samples of Sleipnir whinnying and galloping through the cosmos. What's also noticeable as the album begins is Sunn O)))'s distinctly powerful and nimble riffage, which comes across swifter and less glacial in its pace when compared to previous releases. Between... is assisted by the otherworldly and ancient vocals of Icelandic singer Hildur Guðnadóttir, who also happens to be a classically trained cellist who contributes to this record. It is the only singing on the album. When the blustering eeriness subsides, Troubled Air takes over and is highlighted by Australian composer Anthony Pateras's pipe organ. Aurora is a meditation in feedback that pushes listeners to the edge of eternity before letting off the pressure and beginning again. Finally, Novæ, the longest song by far, clocking in at a behemoth quarter-hour, is the piece that briskly moves through heavy sustained riffs before descending into its guttural and subdued midsection. It's primal and deep in its chasms of meditation, but it inevitably builds into a walloping windstorm of power, climaxing, and piercing in its final 3 minutes of droning metal. 


Sunn O))) Pyroclasts Album Artwork

By definition, Pyroclasts refers to the catapulted pyroclastic volcanic rocks during a volcanic eruption. It is curious that Sunn O))) decided to name these four improvisational tracks after something so explosive. While their sound remains rock steady, its sustained tones generate almost like a falling avalanche or erupting volcano. Frost (C) is the first cut that was produced by the band, and these four 11 minute tracks were improvised drone jams, more or less, at the beginning or end of the day while recording for Life Metal. Frost (C) can only be described as unforgiving, as its drone, feedback, and dark and heavy riffs, feel exactly like a hurricane blizzard. The second track, Kingdoms (G), starts off a bit quieter (if you can even call it that), and it continues the tradition in an aurally satisfying way. It crescendos by the halfway mark and gestates and vibrates there for a while before distorting itself the rest of the way to the end. Ampliphædies (E), which sounds like the ancient god of amplifiers, quivers, and strums, with energy that always feels like it tops the previous entry. Just how can a rock group keep sounding louder? However improbable it may seem, Sunn O))) does just that. The riffs and almost angelic-like chorus playing out in the corners of the chaos of tonal assault, create an atmosphere unlike any other. Last is Ascension (A), and it turns on as if right at that exact moment, the band just picks up and goes for it. It's a purely transportive drone that wraps up the 44-minute release. 

Sunn O))) have defined a genre, and haven't let up after all these years. What they have composed in these two sprawling releases is a catharsis of heady and meditative metal drones and riffs that can be played at any volume, but will always produce in listeners the same effect of a massive, yet ethereal calm. For those who are ready and willing to experience drone metal, Life Metal is the definitive entry point into this genre. 

Life Metal - 8.25/10

Pyroclasts - 8/10

Recommended Tracks: Between Sleipnir's Breaths, Troubled Air, Frost (C)

April 14, 2020

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts V: Together & Ghosts VI: Locusts Album Reviews

Just over 12 years since the debut of the instrumental, ambient, and cinematic soundscape series Ghosts I-IV, seasoned film and television composer duo, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, aka Nine Inch Nails, release their surprise twin albums Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts, to help aid an ailing world in the midst of a global pandemic crisis.

As opposed to their earlier 4-LP project, which was released as a singular 36-track drop, these two LPs feel more fully developed and focused, while I-IV consisted of a 36-day project that was a reactive experience to various environmental and urban visuals (which are a part of any purchase of the release). It is important to note that Ghosts I-IV preceded a lengthy string of soundtracks composed by Reznor and Ross for various films and television shows, most notably The Social Network, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, Patriot's Day, Bird Box, and Watchmen.

It is then easy to see, along with the cinematic aesthetic of some of the tracks on their Bad Witch EP, how much Reznor and Ross's musical landscape from soundtracks to Nine Inch Nails blend into an ominous, sonic, purgatory or no man's land, where hope and danger lurk around every corner. In 2020, however, Nine Inch Nails surprised a world sheltering-in-place with a pair of companion albums that both offer hope of togetherness and also shadows of doubt.

Ghosts V: Together

Together, as the name suggests, is the more ambient and hopeful release. Beautiful piano melodies, swelling voices, and cautious synths encapsulate a mood that Reznor and Ross have been known to highlight in the quiet spaces of previous Nine Inch Nails albums. Letting Go While Holding On is a perfect example of a meditative, transportive track that is meant to be experienced rather than listened to; its length borders on the 10-minute mark. Other tracks follow the same trajectory, such as Together, With Faith, Apart, and Still Right Here, which all meet or exceed this runtime.

While some of these songs could have easily been purposed for a film or television score, the message of togetherness over loneliness is instead conveyed through their popular industrial, electronic, ambient, rock moniker, a vehicle which by default will get more attention from a suffering world. Hope We Can Again serves up this message just right, as an expectancy of normalcy after the fallout is performed by a slow and innocent piano as droning echoes slowly fill the space and eventually overpower the track with an ear-splitting hiss. It all breaks away though and relieves the tension with a sweet and melancholy piano coda.

Your Touch opens with an almost religious-like atmosphere as if being performed on an organ in a cathedral, with angelic choirs and a free-floating synth that is playful and contrasts with the somber walking piano. Still Right Here, the album's closing track, is easily the most Nine Inch Nails-y of the eight. After a few minutes of quiet introspection, a repeated and distant guitar riff starts to enter from the haze, and it builds into a crescendo and flurry of electronic syncopation and drum beats, reminiscent of their Add Violence EP released a couple of years prior. Its presence is short-lived though as it quickly dissipates into radio static and unsettling atmospheres, a fitting transition into the darker and more dangerous backdrop of Locusts. 

Ghosts VI: Locusts

If Together could put aside all the concern and despair, then Locusts fully leans into it, with more chilling textures and foreboding atmospheres to match. Its opening track, The Cursed Clock, turns the piano melody over and over, as if hoping that things will change, all the while doom slowly rolls in. The dissonance from extra sounds and tones that enter the space work to disorient and almost sicken with its engineered physiological aura. Obviously, Reznor and Ross have become masters at capturing and encapsulating a mood into music, and the remainder of Locusts drives this point even further.

Around Every Corner is a stylistic departure from the signature NIN sound in the sense that it pulls from a dusty and deserted alleyway with its muted trumpet that wails through the darkness. It still has the piano walk and armada of drones at the ready, but the inclusion of a trumpet gives Locusts a slightly dusty and jazzy vibe, which is a welcome addition to the pair's overall sound. Run Like Hell, like the rest of the tracks, puts forward a feeling and sound that perfectly matches up with its title, as acoustic percussion beats to the rhythm of running before taking off into a manic race for survival, complete with several woodwinds, unnerving static, and instrumentation that puts the horror right in front of the listener. It eventually crashes right into its following track, When It Happens (Don't Mind Me), which is a dizzying house of cymbals and chimes that sounds as if an alarm is going off.

The feeling of this album as a soundtrack to the movie of our lives is a hard notion to shake, as several more tracks continue this suite of overwhelming despair and anxiety. Another Crashed Car comes off minimal and effectively eerie, which ushers in the horrorscapes of Temp Fix, and eventually the more straight-forward, piano-driven, but nevertheless reinvigorating Trust Fades. Your New Normal is a track that almost introduces a hint of hope amid all the chaos and downward spirals present in Locusts. Overall, the album is a triumph for the instrumental Ghosts album series. 

The timing of a new pair of Ghosts albums from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross couldn't have been more perfect, with the world staying inside and the growing concerns over a spreading virus. While Together seems just right for the quiet moments that we are all living in, Locusts feels like a more active, interesting, and signature Nine Inch Nails approach. The ghostly visitations through these melodies of cautious hope and existential dread reveal that these two artists are just as human as the rest of us, and remind us that we are not alone. 

Ghosts V: Together - 8/10
Ghosts VI: Locusts - 8.5/10
Ghosts V-VI Average: 8.25/10

Recommended Tracks: With Faith, Your Touch, Still Right Here, Around Every Corner, Run Like Hell, Trust Fades

December 14, 2019

Interview: Nary Da Producer

Our featured interview this holiday season is seasoned Pittsburgh producer extraordinaire, Nary Da Producer!

AirdriftSignals: How long have you been focused on producing hip-hop beats?

Nary Da Producer: I started seriously producing music around 2007 when I briefly relocated to Green Level, North Carolina, so we can say 12 years... I was making beats for my cousins and some artist around the area... I always knew I would do something with music even before then... But I ended up signing to two different indie labels during my stay in North Carolina that showed me a lot about the business aspect of the music industry and I took what I learned from that and started my journey into this music thing!

AirSig: As a producer based in Pennsylvania, how has your home base and local scene informed your creativity? Are there any local spots that have given you inspiration?

Nary Da Producer: ... I love my city! Shout out to everybody that's grinding and doing their thing! I haven’t worked with too many in my city... really just because I didn’t start out producing in Pittsburgh... But what I will say is... the thing that inspires me about the city is... just the grind... there’s a lot of go getters, dope artists and producers that came from here! Mel Man, Sam Sneed, Johnny Juliano, I mean even legends like Ahmad Jamal!! Pittsburgh is definitely a musical city man! As far as local spots that inspire me... I would have to say “Jerry’s Records” located in a section of the city called “Squirrel Hill” because that's where I go digging for vinyl!

AirSig: Oh, so you dig for your loops then? 

Nary Da Producer: Oh most definitely!!! I feel like digging is one of the biggest fundamentals of hip-hop and more! Most of the things I find rather it’s old classic records or even some random drum loop I like to find new ways to make it into something fresh! I know there’s sites like splice that give you a source to find loops and things of that nature too... It’s just crazy to see how much you can do as far as creating music in today's era!

AirSig: What events in your life made you want to make music and who are your biggest producer influences?

Nary Da Producer: I honestly can say every minute of my 24 hours inspires me to create! My heart and soul is making music... SOULFUL music! Every time I turn on my MPC, I just feel the moment! My biggest music influences are Pete Rock, Chad Hamilton, Just Blaze, Bink, Manny Fresh, Dj Premier, Hi-Tek, J-Dilla, Marley Marl, Trackmasters, Scram Jones, My Bro J.Dova from Atlantic City! And SO many more!

AirSig: One of our previous articles covered a hip-hop single by Cuban Pete which you produced, called Nothin’s Gonna Stop Me. It features a classic sounding female singer crooning the hook and it recalls a golden era of music. It also has a certain Dilla vibe as you mentioned him being a big influence for you just previously... Is there any style or era of music that calls out to you when making beats? 

Nary Da Producer: J-Dilla is forever man! His legendary work and the things he’s done with that MPC are incredible! I feel like there’s J-Dilla influence all over the hip-hop culture! He’s definitely one of my biggest influences. Also shout out to Cuban Pete and the UK! We have an EP coming real soon!! My favorite era is the golden era of hip-hop! That era influenced my style a lot! Just the sound and the feel of that time! 80s R&B is another era that calls out to me! I like some of the new stuff that's coming out too!

AirSig: While listening to that single, it’s amazing to think about how the Internet allows people from all walks of life to connect, and nowadays even allow those who are separated by thousands of miles to create some amazing music! It gained a lot of traction internationally following its release and even got airtime on a French radio station. Does this added international element to your music give you added desire to see how many other international artists you could work with?

Nary Da Producer: I think it’s dope how the Internet links all us musicians together from all across the globe! When I first sent Cuban Pete that beat (Nothin's Gonna Stop Me), he sat on it for a few... And then he finally messaged me like “Nary I think this is it!" He sent everything over and I mixed and mastered it and the rest is history! I think it’s really cool that it spent almost a month in rotation on the radio in France and the UK!

AirSig: Are you more interested in expanding your producer portfolio across multiple emcees and keeping yourself a free agent or eventually joining forces into a hip-hop duo or creative team? 

Nary Da Producer: I recently been working with Solomon Childs, affiliated with the Wu Tang Clan... I got some work with Cuban Pete of course lol. I’ve been working with a lot of rising artists from PA and all over the globe! Also there’s a few big COLLABS in the works! I’m working on my beat catalog and collaborating with a lot of different artists! As far as joining forces with another producer or team, I wouldn’t rule it out but right now I’m just focusing on my own craft.

AirSig: Is the MPC and Pro Tools your sole production tools? 

Nary Da Producer: The MPC and Pro Tools are definitely my go-to's! That swing and just the feel when you’re producing on the MPC is something special! BUT! I also use FL Studio too! That software is dope! Sometimes it annoys me with all the extra layering I like to do to get that fuller sound I’ve grown accustomed to using the MPC but all around it’s dope! So yeah the MPC Touch/MPC 2000, Pro Tools, FL Studio, and mad vinyl records and other sounds are my go-to's!

AirSig: Do you find creating on the MPC a smooth and effective process? 

Nary Da Producer: Most of the time... If I’m going for something with a classic feel... The MPC is my go-to! The process of creating those kind of moods but if I’m going for a more modern feel I would incorporate my FL Studio with the MPC and get really busy!

AirSig: How do you follow your instincts with your creative flow to make captivating and engaging beats? 

Nary Da Producer: If it feels right I just go with it! Most of the time my ear doesn’t steer me wrong lol! Like I said though it’s all about the mood when it’s time to create!

AirSig: Your newest release, a full-length beat tape titled The Chill Out Volume I, is designed to introduce the world to your atmosphere of sounds, and is designated as an instrumental hip-hop album. Is there anything you’d like to see accomplished with the release of this first volume of this series? 

Nary Da Producer: I would like people to just enjoy the project! Also, I would like the world to know HIPHOP IS FOREVER!! I feel like it's something a little different than the usual 808s and robotic sounding Hi-Hats that’s in a lot of today’s music... I feel like this is a project you can turn on and just chill lol... If you don’t rap or sing you just might after you take a listen!

AirSig: I've also noticed that hi-hats have had a bit of a renaissance in the last ten years with so much hip-hop/trap music. Do you think it's just a fad that will fade in another ten years or will the polyrhythms always have a place going forward? 

Nary Da Producer: A lot of the music is being created with D.A.W. aka Digital Audio Workstation and a lot of the software is so digital sounding along with the heavy quantization they're using in a lot of these new era records that it begins to sound robotic... I feel like trap is here to stay because it has its own place... I wouldn’t call it hip-hop at all but it’s something of its own genre.

AirSig: I, myself, very much enjoy the music of hip-hop. Usually you can hear so many other influences and genres blending into the work of certain producers, such as classical, oldies, and even electronic music. Are there any other genres you might be interested in exploring more, or exclusively, as you continue your musical career? 

Nary Da Producer: I’ve definitely been exploring R&B... some trap/mainstream. I would like to venture into creating jazz music too! There’s a lot of music man! I get inspired by a lot of the elements!

AirSig: Who have you been listening to lately outside of hip-hop? You mentioned you're a fan of jazz music.

Nary Da Producer: Lately, it’s been Ahmad Jamal, a lot of classic R&B, and a lot of instrumental music!

AirSig: What does it mean to you to stand out in a genre that is so diverse and full of talent?

Nary Da Producer: I feel like being yourself and staying true to yourself is everything! It’s so easy to get caught up with following trends because whatever’s the new popular thing is what a lot of people tend to flock to I feel like.

AirSig: Are there any other upcoming projects that you are excited to be working on or planning on releasing soon?

Nary Da Producer: Look out for my first all trap music instrumental project “Nary’s Trap” coming soon! I got a project coming with my bro Prynce who’s also from Pittsburgh! Definitely good music! Also go get Solomon Childs project “Wu Tang BBQ” I got a few records on there! Cuban Pete’s upcoming EP produced entirely by me is on the way! And just follow my social media to stay updated! Also I just wanna just finally shout out a few artists I work with In my city....Prynce and Gotti Boi!!

AirSig: You can follow and listen to Nary Da Producer on his SoundCloud page, which already has over 20,000 streams or follow him on social media (Twitter, Facebook)! You can listen to The Chill Out Volume I on any streaming platforms, and you can also read our full review here

Nary Da Producer - The Chill Out Volume I Review

Following our at-length interview with Pittsburgh hip-hop beat maker Nary Da Producer, there's a lot to unpack. Whether it's his most recent productions, such as Cuban Pete's single Nothin's Gonna Stop Me, or his fulfillment of a childhood dream in producing four cuts for a Wu-Tang Clan affiliate, on Solomon Child's 2019 album Wu-Tang BBQ, Nary is hitting the bars of his MPC hard, and now, swerving in just in time for the holidaze is Nary Da Producer's first in a themed series of beat tapes, The Chill Out Volume I!

While this is the first volume of The Chill Out, it's not the first beat tape that Nary Da Producer has been known to drop, as his regular series, simply titled The Beat Tape, has already seen six iterations, and even though Nary already has The Beat Tape 7 on deck, his unveiling of The Chill Out series is purposed exactly for what the title (and artwork) displays.

The most striking and noticeable feature of Nary's production when listening to this most recent offering is his industry-grade skill and also his soulful, J-Dilla-inspired soul. As he states in our interview, his love of soul, R&B, and also the golden era of hip-hop are what end up washing over every instrumental cut that is on deck here. His use of funky and jazzy licks are emotionally arresting, as "Mellow Situation" plays out to a beautiful trumpet and piano duet, which recalls a late-night city club atmosphere on a snowy night. As Nary mentioned in an earlier conversation, this is the right one to release for the holidaze, and it can be heard very clearly as the Tape begins to unfurl. "A Dream" continues this festivity with a hip-hop-styled exercise full of jingling bells and holiday chimes, and Nary proceeds to play around with the sample and let it ride out. "A HipHop Story" pulls in the focus with a jazzy saxophone and melodic chimes, and they also keep with the chill out and holiday vibes of the opening credits.

Of course, there's always some beats in place to even raise everything a notch higher here, with "China Connects", as it breaks up the beat tape's chosen style in favor of a more cinematic, Eastern musical rendition that is pushed through Nary's magical hip-hop filter. The kung-fu and action-inspired cut should make anyone who considers themselves fans of the Wu appreciate and revel in the intensity of Nary's (karate) chops. "Grimey Winterz" leaves some of the Eastern region strings in, and it teases out a singer's sustained croon while stringed instruments play off of her gut-wrenching despair. The emotion and soul is strong with this one, and the string section especially just glistens with Madlib Beat Konducta influence. It sounds and feels like a grimey winter indeed.

By this point, we are halfway through the experience that Nary Da Producer has guided us through. While nodding heads and pulling heartstrings, Nary is hardly finished, as he's saved some of his best for the second half of The Chill Out! "Imaginary Dreams" gets downright chilling (no pun intended) in its theatrical and soulful heights, and it's no wonder that one of Nary's biggest influences is the great Jay Dee. The soul singer featured here flutters and screams out to the heavens as the drums punctuate the clouds. Overall, all the instruments, the strings, bass, drums, and voice, all coalesce and meld into a sultry and vivid musical painting. "The Essence" sounds and feels as if Nary is a chef, sprinkling his sweet and aromatic ingredients into a mixing bowl, while the rest of us listeners are in the other room, kicking back on expensive furnishings and enjoying the fine wine of his soul's lounge, while "Murder For Da Art" settles into another slow-paced and introspective loop, bringing the energy down for a soft landing.

By the final two cuts, it's apparent that from all the previous tracks, the ecstasy has been released and it's only fitting that The Chill Out Volume I closes out with two love songs. "Romance" is the beginning of that coda, and it hits its stride with a beautiful and wistful piano loop and a playful set of drums. It's a melancholy, but a fitting penultimate track. "True Love Don't Come Easy" is a the final statement of The Chill Out, and its melody and beat are founded on the message of true love and holding onto it tight and not letting go. Its sendoff is spectacular, and from witnessing the amount of heart and soul that is put into The Chill Out tape, it's clear that Nary knows what's most important in music and life.

The Chill Out Volume I is a beautiful exploration of multiple themes and emotions. While a sidestep from his usual Beat Tape series, it makes a statement all of its own accord and holds up as a standalone work of art and lesson in beats. Whether he is working with high-profile emcees or continuing to release his own series of instrumental hip-hop, Nary Da Producer shows no signs of stopping, and in fact, seems to be pushing forward stronger than ever before. Keep him on your radar, and on repeat, for you'll be hearing much more from him soon!

Chill Out Volume I - 9/10

Recommended Tracks: China Connects, Grimey Winterz, Imaginary Dreams

November 15, 2019

DJ Shadow - Our Pathetic Age Review

Just over a month from the end of a decade, there's been more change in the Internet age than ever before. As the rise in social media, influencers, and connectivity continues to grow, so too do the anxieties, concerns, and questions that our artificial and intelligent world continues to pose. There's a lot to be concerned over, but there's still room for hope. If there was ever an album to sum up what's happened to us globally in the past ten years, then it is DJ Shadow's latest full-length album, Our Pathetic Age, an affecting and universal double LP that features genre-bending electronica, hip-hop, and heart.

Known to revolve around the world of hip-hop, but take an elliptical course into the realm of hardcore electronic music, DJ Shadow has been making music for precisely 30 years now. Ever since his debut landmark album, Endtroducing....., Shadow's style hasn't much strayed. A turntablist and a record collector at heart, his music always found ways to incorporate sounds of old into inventions of new in his many hip-hop and electronic productions since then. His sixth LP isn't much different, if only more expansive. DJ Shadow, aka Joshua Davis, stated that he had never set out to make a double album before, and so this was his basis of motive, to create a first half of entirely (mostly instrumental) heady and genre-expanding, electronic, hip-hop songs, and a second half full of collaborators, be it R&B singer-songwriter Fantastic Negrito, or his mostly rapper-clad army to drop commentaries that are disconcerting and ratchet up the tension for what we as a society have allowed to come to pass with technology.

Opening with the first half of this experiment is some busy and abrasive soundscapes in Nature Always Wins, a short and thematic intro that cuts right into the electronic, hip-hop sensibilities of Slingblade, a minimalist, fuzzy, and poignant beat that unfolds with melody over time. It's a classic DJ Shadow composition, and lets listeners know that Shadow is prepared to unleash an epic meditation on what our pathetic age now means for all of us. Most of Shadow's tracks verge on the mind-bending and experimental, as Intersectionality begins to reverberate and dance around the head space with its moody synth and echoing toms. Juggernaut straight up pulls a hip-hop sample deep into breakcore territory, while Firestorm is a more traditional (and less hip-hop-y) piano melody that conducts the rest of the instruments around it. My Lonely Room and We Are Always Alone taps into the crushing loneliness that Davis must feel at times in the quiet between his beats. They are unbelievably moody and perfect capsules of his dark and introspective imagination. These songs all have something fascinatingly different to offer for the first half, and they prove that Davis is a master of his sound.

The second half of the album drops the moody intensity of DJ Shadow's solo material and steps aside to give the mic to a huge cast of talented and famous rappers, including Nas, Pharaoh Monch, three Wu-Tang members, Run The Jewels, and De La Soul, among many others, who all want to give their two cents about what humanity is up against with technology. Lots of the themes have to do with political climate, mind-control, social media, loss of human connection, and hopelessness. Each of these hip-hop tracks venture between the head-bobbing traditional vibes that Shadow is known for producing, and then some downright chilling material that is spoken. Most notably, JoJo's World, a suicide track rapped by Stro. Also the Urgent, Important, Please Read, is the most poignant, on the nose song of the album, where the listener is directly addressed, "a few different perspectives to reinforce the notion that you are not going crazy, and you are not being paranoid, and everything that you've been worried about are the exact things that need to be on your mind. The question is, what do we do about it?"

In a sense, Our Pathetic Age is a wake-up call to those who are lost in the digital universe, and a hopeful reminder to remember what makes us human. It's a call to action to not put the blinders on when staring at our screens, and that this new uncertain decade that we are about to embark on is the ultimate decider of what we will collectively choose for our destiny. It's the end of the 2010s, and Our Pathetic Age will hopefully (as Davis hopes) become a beautiful, new beginning. For these reasons, DJ Shadow's sixth double LP is elevated beyond what he is normally capable of producing, and will remain one of the most comprehensive recordings to document this unprecedented change that our species is facing. DJ Shadow also proves that he remains one of the most compelling, electronic, hip-hop, turntablist, producers of our time.

Our Pathetic Age - 8.25/10

Recommended Tracks: Slingblade, My Lonely Room, Urgent, Important, Please Read

October 29, 2019

Update: Satellite Beats: Earliest Transmissions OUT NOW!

How do I begin? Satellite Beats... Where do I go from here? DJ Dark Flow... As an aspiring songwriter and musician, a 15-16-year-old me was lucky enough to collect and get my hands on various electronic equipment, a keyboard, an acoustic and electric guitar, and a digital recorder. With these circuits and machinery, I was able to begin to fulfill my dream and passion for songwriting by creating acoustic, electronic, and industrial atmospheres full of mystery and dread, and from this era of my musical experimentation, I produced a lot of wide-ranging material under my first musical alias, Satellite Beats. After years of having the songs on my computer, I decided to curate and release this compilation album of my earliest recordings.

As I made music with my high school-created rock band Breathe (named after the Pink Floyd song of the same name), I also explored this galaxy of sound in my own bedroom, discovering new effects, recording tricks, and ways to make music, and I captured these sounds on my 16-track Fostex recorder. I never officially released these besides trading out songs to stream on my Purevolume and Myspace (yes, many years ago) band accounts. Here, before you, is the surviving data, and my best, most interesting solo material to come out from those years. Some songs are very electronic and danceable, others are heavy, industrial tracks, and a couple are dark, acoustic/electric compositions. May this give insight into my musical being, where I came from, and how far I've come in the years since with the release of my debut full-length album Crystallize in June of this year. Stream Satellite Beats: Earliest Transmissions now on any music platform, feel the raw energy and creative tension within, and keep listening to DJ Dark Flow. More new and original releases are sure to come. Peace~

October 13, 2019

Bill Laswell - Smoke + Glass & Realm of Spells Review

Having significant involvement in the creation and release in over 100 albums since the early 80s, the breadth of musical discography that bassist, producer, and record label owner, Bill Laswell has accumulated is enough to overwhelm the senses and make your head spin. Still, Laswell, an undeniable influence in the genres of world, jazz, and dub, does it again with dual collaborative releases in 2019, Smoke + Glass (with Alex Haas), and Realm of Spells (with Jah Wobble).

To be completely fair, these are only two of the 7 albums Laswell has released so far this year (how is this even possible?!), but to consolidate my review article, I only plan to give a look into these two releases since they are the more collaborative efforts, and because the other 5 are self-released by Laswell himself. Released one day apart from one another July 25 and July 26 respectively, Smoke + Glass and Realm of Spells feel as if they were meant to be together, despite releasing on separate labels from one another. Smoke + Glass takes listeners on a journey through electronic, worldly, jazz, which settles into solid, smooth grooves, such as its opener Truth Be Told, but also has the ability to kick it up a notch for more experimental and daring electronic (can I say dance?) tracks with Hard to Believe. Besides these two distinctive moods, other compositions find their sound somewhere in between, such as the title track's confident and self-assured drumbeat bravado, which carries the listener through a palate cleanser of choral echoes, reverberating melodies, and repeated mantras. Strange Weather pulls up slowly before the drum brings the energy up a few more degrees in tempo. The smooth jazz that goes in and out of this track and the others give Smoke + Glass a level of easy listenability while still maintaining a very cool vibe.

By the end of the song, it's surprising to note that the first of these two collaborative albums is already halfway through, clocking in at only 46 minutes long. Chasing Chaos, easily the slowest openers of the bunch, fades in with swells and syncopated synthesizers for a few good minutes before the saxophone blasts in through the cosmos and cloud of sound with lively drum rolls before fading back into the ether. Chasing Chaos does this as a repeated pattern for the duration of the track, giving it something interesting to be heard every minute as it plays out. Another Way develops into a beautiful tabla / drum beat that maintains a steady and slow groove, while Second Thoughts goes back for another stab at experimental electronica, complete with audio-effected synthesizers and voices, and a dark tonal atmosphere. Forgotten City, the final track off of Smoke + Glass, pulls listeners in for a final reggae-dub-electronic coda, and features the traditional delayed and reverbed effects that the genre has become known for. Ultimately, it gives Smoke + Glass a nice full circle display of what both artists could accomplish when working together.

In Realm of Spells, a similar album with the same number of tracks (this one however, is 55 minutes long), Laswell teams up with known singer and bassist, Jah Wobble, and the two come together in this realm to craft a similar, but equally satisfying record. It's opening number and cocktail jazz groove in Uncoiling does much to set the mood into what the majority of this release has to offer: a magnificent blend of atmospheric, chill, jazzy, bass-y, and electronic recordings for listeners to zone out to that combine elements of reggae, dub, world, and jazz in such a way that it sounds unlike most other music released this year. Off World Departure gives the saxophone some room to breathe as it sounds as if it's floating on by, while Dark Luminosity builds the melodic tension with synthesizers, sound effects, and a repeated drum snare. Code of Echo's is a track which all the previous ones seem to have been building toward, as it's extended build-up and crescendo lead into a satisfying breakdown of instruments and free-flowing rhythms. It's bold bassline and slowly building drums allow Code of Echo's to fully unfurl with the rest of the entourage of instruments on display here. At The Point of Hustle pulls out all the stops as a groovy penultimate pleaser of a jazz track, with a repeated bass pluck and emphasis on the organ, while the final title track isn't afraid to go into weirder territory and move through multiple suites across 10 minutes.

As a full experience, Realm of Spells seduces with its magical whimsy, and feels a lot more jammy than Smoke + Glass, albeit while sounding a little too much of the same. This doesn't stop Realm of Spells from still having some truly magical moments, and these two records released one right after the other just go to show how busy, virtuosic, and prolific Bill Laswell has become.

Smoke + Glass - 9/10
Realm of Spells - 8.25/10

Recommended Tracks:
S+G: Hard to Believe, Strange Weather, Second Thoughts
RoS: Uncoiling, Code of Echo's, At The Point of Hustle

August 17, 2019

Various Artists - The Music of Red Dead Redemption II: (Original Score) Review

Just as video game developer Rockstar promised, the original score to their engrossing cowboy western game, Red Dead Redemption II released August 9th, and just as their pedigree for cinematic and Oscar-worthy storytelling captured the hearts and minds of fans across the world, so too does their original score for the game itself.

This is the companion release from their earlier soundtrack version of Red Dead II, which I reviewed and was released earlier in July, but instead of vocalized, bluesy, country-western songs, this release compiles brand new materials and adds another half-hour to its runtime, totaling to a full-length 72 minutes of Western musical progressions and acoustics. It is meticulously crafted by veteran composers and industry musicians and pulls listeners who haven't ever played a video game into a world all its own, and given the saturation of popular music these days, it becomes an absolute delight to listen to a type of music that is so different but supposedly common in the days of the Wild West.

Outlaws From The West is the classic Wild West theme as it has all the reverberating guitar melodies and percussive claps to make you feel like you're in a movie, and is reminiscent of an orchestral Godspeed You! Black Emperor track. Other songs take on a more passive tone, as Blessed Are The Peacekeepers plays with a string section as it complements the acoustic guitar melody and low echoing wails to make a moody and filmlike atmosphere. Other tracks that achieve this quiet cinematic quality include It All Makes Sense Now, The Fine Art of Conversation, Country Pursuits, and The Wheel, while others ring up the tension such as Mrs. Sadie Adler, Widow, Paradise Mercifully Departed, and Icarus And Friends. Again, some even sidestep the classic Western sound in favor of a more New Orleans style of music in songs like Banking, The Old American Art, and American Venom.

Ultimately, The Music of Red Dead Redemption II is exactly what you'd expect from an award-winning spaghetti Western video game: a revisit of a time we never truly knew in the best possible imagining by seasoned and experienced musicians and composers. It is an excellent backdrop to practically any activity, and it stands as a special musical release of Western music.

The Music of Red Dead Redemption II - 8.5/10

Recommended Tracks: Outlaws From The West, Blessed Are The Peacemakers, Red Dead Redemption

July 12, 2019

Various Artists - The Music of Red Dead Redemption II: (Original Soundtrack) Review

Today released an original soundtrack from the makers of the wild west, cowboy masterpiece of last year, Red Dead Redemption II. A fully alive world of the west, Red Dead was instantly hailed as an undisputed classic in modern cinematic and interactive storytelling. It's awe-inspiring immersive characters, setting, and story were brought to vivid life not only by its beautiful, picture-perfect graphics but also by its swooning music, which could quietly enhance a scene or break out in full bravado, placing any player right in the middle of a classic western film. Rockstar shows the world again that their release last year was more than just a video game, but an arresting piece of art that deserves another look this summer, in the form of RDRII's original soundtrack.

Composed by various multiple Grammy-award-winning artists, Red Dead's OST has many different forms as it plays through. The music in this short 40-something minute release takes inspiration from the period of the wild west, so it's vocals and notes understandably so venture into the styles of instrumental banjo tunes, folk, country, and even some headier western rock tracks. The opening tune, Unshaken, features a deep, gravelly-toned vocalist with a choir of backing singers, in a Johnny Cash-like melody. It appropriately introduces listeners to the world of Red Dead. The second track, Moonlight, almost traverses into gospel territory, as singers croon and moan with the soft rising and lulling instruments. Other tracks that follow feature traditional sounding, bluesy country numbers, such as That's The Way It Is, and Cruel World, sung by none other than Willie Nelson.

Mountain Finale is the first of several instrumental pieces that inject a feeling of spirited excitement into the mix, a welcome break from the moody country and folk numbers that precede it. Crash of Worlds is ultimately a reprise of Unshaken, with an added melodic twist and an atmosphere of a story and song sung around a campfire of runaways and outlaws. Mountain Hymn is a transcendent piece of beautiful guitar-work and heavenly vocals and it further paints a serene setting of settlers' struggles and living their lives. Mountain Banjo is the second instrumental that opens up a suite of visually stimulating musical tracks, such as the introspective, steady Table Top, and the unflinching, rocking and rolling Love Comes Back. Oh My Lovely caps off this series of instrumental takes into western culture with a reverb-y (almost too-much-so) guitar meditation. The soundtrack is brought to a close with its final rendition of Cruel World by Joshua Homme, a retrospective look at the world that we've created before us.

The Music of Red Dead Redemption II is satisfying and illuminating as a video game soundtrack. Its many different styles throughout, all influenced by the same time period, showcases the studio's talent for storytelling in more ways than one. As Rockstar stated in their press release, an original score, intended to be this soundtrack's official companion album and featuring much more musical content, will be coming later this summer. Until that time comes though, there are some real quality tunes to enjoy now while the table is being set for Red Dead's next music release.

The Music of Red Dead Redemption II - 8.25/10

Recommended Tracks: Unshaken, Table Top, Love Comes Back

June 5, 2019

Claud5 - Claudscape Review

Only a couple months after releasing his debut concept album, Dogs Carry Knives, Claud5 is back again with a tropicana, hip-hop, and nujabes-infused summer album, Claudscape! Not to put his debut, atmospheric, electronic debut in the rearview mirror, but in a way, to show another side to his persona, Claudscape is best enjoyed while kicked back on a warm, summer day, with a drink in hand, and it's an exciting genesis for an artist who clearly has been saving his songs in the bank and allowing them to grow in quantity and quality.

Claudscape opens with a touching tribute to a hip-hop producer who met an untimely fate in 2010 at the young age of 36, Nujabes, with his tribute song, Rip Nujabes. It gives listeners and previous fans of Nujabes a hint at exactly what this album is about. Nujabes had a knack for creating beautiful hip-hop tracks with many forward-thinking artists, which tended to blend with jazz and deal with matters of the heart, something hardcore hip-hop can lack, and which could be the reason some people can be turned off by the genre altogether. Nujabes showed the world that hip-hop can be beautiful too, and for anyone who doesn't know of this man, I highly recommend a playthrough of a couple of his albums to understand his impact. Claud5, like Nujabes, serves up tasteful and playful hip-hop concoctions that tell a story.

His second and fourth tracks, Frutti Di Mare, and Cafune, show off crisp, tropicana, hip-hop vibes, while others, such as Ocracoke Island (Mist), Mindset, and Lalala spin with a dark and mysterious, yet exhilarating flow that demands repeated plays. Hostage places listeners in the middle of a cocktail lounge of a sexy spy film, while Berkshire takes it back a few hundred years, with the classical piano sample that, when blended with hip-hop drums, feels beautiful and modern at the same time. Whether you are in the mood to chill or groove, Claudscape seems to have it all, and cover a variety of moods as it plays through its 17 colorful compositions.

As the temperature gets warmer this season, there always seems to be a musical feeling that pairs with the weather. The change in weather is also just as quick as the mood of Claudscape when it moves from song to song. Claud5 tells me that there's one more big release this year, a 5 track EP in June, so stay tuned for more Claud5, and until then enjoy his now two (!) full length-albums, Dogs Carry Knives, and Claudscape!

Claudscape - 8/10

Recommended Tracks: Ocracoke Island (Mist), Mindset, Berkshire

March 11, 2019

Claud5 - Dogs Carry Knives Review

After years of incubating beats and simmering synths, Connecticut based lo-fi electronic beat producer and emcee Claud5 releases his debut solo effort, Dogs Carry Knives, and wastes no time in pulling listeners in to his world of mythos and flow.

A brisk, head nodding treat worthy of many spins, Dogs Carry Knives has an encompassing, cohesive skin and theme of dogs, or rather, their ancestors, and exhibits Claud5’ drum-synth abilities in highly evolved form. Despite his producer name, this album has the inescapable atmosphere and feeling of exploration and discovery that you would find aimlessly scouting through the woods in the dead of night.

The start is slow and meditative as Claud5 piano melodies and synths swing like a pendulum, lulling listeners into a dream state, with tracks like “Scouting” and “Wounded”. From the first few tracks, the addictive pull of his swirls of synths disarms and prepares listeners for the heavier half of Dogs Carry Knives, which ventures into more and more syncopated, 808 laced numbers, and other bright and whimsical territory, displayed on tracks such as “Wolf 1061C” and “Fur”.

A track with earlier renditions which I fondly remember makes its way on here in the form of “Eye Contact”, a beautiful hip-hop synth vibing beat that suddenly takes a turn into the dark corners of dubstep-y EDM. It’s the perfect transition into “Bonepick”, a menacing dark trap, witch house beat with haunting vibes and another excellent lead-in towards the gritty scene of “Midnight Feeding”, which thumps with a feral heart while synths pass overhead. Claud5 closes out his debut album with “Super Blood Wolf Moon”, a departure in style but a nonetheless magical sendoff in drum n bass, reminiscent of the 90’s rave scene nostalgia or classic albums like Zomby’s “Where Were You in ‘92?”

Dogs Carry Knives contains a very high quality and tried and true flow that any electronic artist should aspire to creating. It has deep pockets and rich layers in its subdued opening compositions, which slowly grow in intensity and complexity, and play with its own dichotomy of heavy, lo-fi beats and graceful, glistening synths. One scene that comes to mind where I feel this debut would find a comfortable home is in the hazy Los Angeles glitch hop movement, and the lo-fi, electronic, and jazz label Brainfeeder, because Dogs Carry Knives is soaked with experimental rhythms and dark, sensual soul.... It’s an album both beautiful and savage, and it makes Claud5 one of the up and coming electronic artists worth watching.

Dogs Carry Knives - 8.5/10

Recommended Tracks: Scouting, Wolf 1061C, Midnight Feeding

December 2, 2018

Aphex Twin - Collapse EP Review

Few electronic musicians can make music sound so utterly alien and beautiful simultaneously. For this reason, and for the sheer complexity and magnitude of the electronic landscapes willed into sonic existence, this balance of contrast exhibited by an artist such as Aphex Twin simply has no equal. Aphex Twin is Richard D. James, a man who’s been embroiled in the creation of computer music since the early 1980’s. His music often falls into one of two categories: pretty melodic ambience, or abrasive aural assault, and sometimes a combination of the two. After James’s more than decade-long hiatus as Aphex Twin, his reemergence with 2014’s Syro, a collection of some of his best work produced during this period, earned him his first Grammy award for best electronic/dance album. Since his revival, Aphex Twin has arguably released some of his most exciting music after decades of growth, to be experienced and discovered by new generations. James followed up Syro with his 2016 EP, Cheetah, which featured tracks using the rare, eponymous synthesizer and contained some of his most accessible, beat-driven work. His music and energy continues to morph on his 2018 EP, Collapse.

Each track has a distinct beating heart, sometimes of machine and other times of an organism that sounds almost alien, but the frenetic tempos and rhythms all create a highly atmospheric and living headspace throughout Collapse. The opener, "T69 Collapse", features beautiful bass and melodies with coinciding, highly energized percussive hits, only to be eventually pulled apart and dissolute into a computerized breakdown, falling and collapsing, giving newfound meaning to the EP's title and artwork. But in the ashes, it builds into a bountifully pretty release of tension, blissful and beating with endless energy. Thus is the formula of James's most recent EP: a meditation of electronic noise vs. beauty.

The second track, "1st 44", has extremely syncopated and delayed percussion and synths, finding multiple pockets of catchy beats for listeners to settle in to, without ever feeling too stuck. Such is the style of Aphex Twin's masterfully woven IDM, or intelligent dance music; some of his songs never stay put, and constantly evolve into new iterations of where James's mind was taking him during the creative process. This constant change in some of his tracks creates a multiple replay value which most artists couldn't replicate in their wildest dreams. Over time, his delicately layered songs slowly reveal themselves to listeners.

"abundance10edit[2 R8's,FZ20m & a 909]" uses a vocal sample of a girl speaking to the listener, "Give me you hand, my friend, and I will lead you to a land full of abundance, joy and happiness". As Aphex Twin gives listeners human voices in his music, and in essence humanizes his music, it invites us to the land and inner space that he inhabits, and the beautifully subdued synths of James's track creates a headspace that is a land all his own. The woman invites us once again towards the end of the track, and the fantasia of synths coalesce and come together into a marriage of James's electronic bliss and percussive rhythms.

Overall, Aphex Twin's Collapse EP hits all the right notes. In terms of whether we're getting a release of heavy and heady electronic beats, or chill, melodic synthesizers, the answer lies in a combination of both, which is the best way fans and newcomers alike can get their most recent serving of Richard D. James's music. The prolific release history of James's music and the past four years since his reemergence has proven that he is one of the largest, most monolithic forces in electronic music to this day, and will be around for many years to come. To any fans and new listeners, this EP, and his most recent album, Syro, are a must listen.

Collapse EP - 9.75/10

Recommended Tracks: T69 Collapse, 1st 44, abundance10edit[2 R8's, FZ20m & A 909]

November 24, 2010

Teebs - Ardour Review

Teebs, a popular artist on the Brainfeeder record label started by Flying Lotus, releases his debut album and blows all other producers out of the water! His multi-textured compositions come to life in Ardour, arguably one of the best beat albums of 2010. His soft beats and melodic chimes have a fulfilling presence, and I cannot stress it enough that his work bears a therapeutic, healing power for any avid headphones junkie. From the very start, “You’ve Changed” comes in among fluttering flutes and a soft beat. Songs like “Moments,” “Wind Loop,” and “Gordon” are a few of the many standouts in this album, and they all offer something different to listeners looking for something fresh and new. “Long Distance,” the only track Teebs decided to allow vocals on, shows the incredible potential his music has for lyrics, even though every song really speaks for itself. The music he produces works really well as background music, and is even more of a treat for those who choose to actively listen to it, considering the very specific attention to detail. For the most part, it is hard to put into words the feelings that flow out of Ardour. A complex series of thoughts and emotions are captured here, and it is certainly a beautiful experience that shines all throughout. Try to throw on this album and not get lost.

Note: Teebs is also a visual artist, and does all of the artwork that’s attached to his musical releases. You can check out some of his artwork here.

Rating: 9.2/10

Recommended Tracks: Wind Loop, Gordon, Why Like This

MiM0SA - Silver Lining Review

Just two months after his late-night dubstep EP Your Love, MiM0SA comes out with another stunner, his super melodic, big bass release, Silver Lining. This new album, layered with bright melodies and atmospheric textures, sounds like a bright, sunny morning. Airy and vibrant is the feeling that is captured on most of these tracks. “The Higher Consciousness,” a short opener, carries the feel of the album pretty well, as it soars over the spacious skyline of your mind. Some of the middle tracks, such as the title track and “Drippin,” make a heavy, yet emotionally melodic mark on your ears, while some of his later tracks, such as his drum and bass-y “Detour” and “Pushing Little Daisies” drop in to screech electronic bursts of intensity, before settling back down into the final track, “Sideways,” an appropriate finish to a stellar album. Check out Silver Lining if you have not already, and prepare for a beautiful, inspiring musical journey.

Rating: 8.4/10

Recommended Tracks: Silver Lining, Drippin', Pushing Little Daisies

October 15, 2010

Flying Lotus – Pattern+Grid World Review

Brace yourself for a new breed of FlyLo, with a new EP just months after his third full-length space opera, videogame drama, Cosmogramma. There’s more to be heard here, as Steven Ellison, the man behind the mask, takes you somewhere completely different once again. Pattern+Grid World tastes like a whole other dimension, with the otherworldly sounds and patterns that make an indistinguishable texture and quality, and we have to wonder if Ellison is really human. “Clay,” the opening track of Pattern+Grid World, sounds alien to our ears, but takes us to a time and place where music was reinvented, and had taken its own course in synth droning beats. If music really is universal, this EP might as well belong in a whole other universe (did I mention enough space imagery already?). “Kill Your Co-Workers” makes FlyLo’s drum and bass debut, with more arcade elements, as you can hear Ellison shooting for another high score. Although his beats are frenetic, and his synths get hazy, his melody sticks with you. His next track, “Pieface,” starts off with an abstract snare and cymbal, which inevitably builds into another 8-bit crescendo. Whether you are listening to his gurgling space jam, “Time Vampires,” or his synth-driven “Camera Day,” Ellison has something vastly different for your ears. At just over 18 minutes, this EP is short and sweet, and although it may feel like an acquired taste, it is still a welcome addition for any Flying Lotus fan.

Rating: 7.7/10

Recommended Tracks: Time Vampires, Jurassic Notion/M Theory, Camera Day

September 12, 2010

Mount Kimbie - Crooks and Lovers Review

To make my blog more exciting, I decided that I am now going to start doing album reviews of music that I have enjoyed enough to feature in my radio show Adrift In The Airwaves.

For my first album review, I decided to take a look at Mount Kimbie's debut full-length, Crooks & Lovers.

Released on July 19th of this year, Mount Kimbie's album, Crooks & Lovers is the first full-length from the electronic duo. Most of their music takes on an experimental, minimalistic vibe, that verges into the realms of dubstep and ambient music. Personally, I haven’t known of Mount Kimbie for long, but after developing a huge crush on their song “Maybes” remixed by one of their fellow contemporaries James Blake (who is also highly recommended), I had to check out their first album to hear more of what these guys were up to.

Crooks and Lovers is something best to be played through your headphones, as the atmospheric synth and guitar textures make a rewarding contrast with the wobble of the bass that can be found in most of their songs. From the very start, the album picks up with “Tunnelvision,” a short prelude echoing with vocals that sound like a distant memory. There is no time wasted on this LP, when songs like “Would Know” and “Before I Move Off” follow close by. Mount Kimbie’s reserved blend of ambient, minimal, and dubstep elements, when mixed with cut up samples and phrases of soulful vocals, makes for a very enjoyable listen. Nearly every song starts off as a simple beat, slowly building with added melodic textures. “Carbonated” is a great example of this, as a simple, empty beat slowly reverberates over time and fills your ears with sound. The peak and release of songs like “Carbonated” and “Field” are perfectly timed. Most songs are about three to four minutes long, clocking their debut album at just under forty minutes, making Crooks and Lovers a very soft but compelling musical journey. Every track is finely crafted, made for listening while relaxing, with the bass turned up. The best way to describe this group and their debut release would have to be minimalist, ambient, dubstep. As for the dubstep element, there is nothing abrasive about the sounds in this album. Every note hits your ears softly, but the overall effect is a beautiful mix of atmospheric textures, powerful beats, and moving vocals. Check out Crooks and Lovers, and try not to fall in love.

Rating: 8.3/10

Recommended Tracks: Tunnelvision, Would Know, Carbonated