Sunday, December 30, 2012
There was a whole heap of great independent music released in 2012 ... and I've highlighted some of the very best so far. The final ten were my firm favourites. They may not be yours but they are mine:
10. "Breathing May Surprise" & "Tonalchemy" - Daniel Robert Lahey
Truly breathtaking ambient electronic music. I have so many memories associated with these releases.
09. "From These Hands" - I've Lost
When Bobby picks up his guitar... it's like poetry in motion. Simply sublime.
08. "Songs" - Sima Kim
07. "Even Though We Sleep" - Stray Theories
The soundtrack to a weekend away with Olly ... this is one heartbreakingly beautiful release with possibly my favourite album cover of 2012 too.
06. "Field Recordings" - Echelon Effect
Another page in a remarkable book ... "Field Recordings" adds to an already exemplary canon of work.
05. "Passage" - Lowercase Noises
Whatever Andy Othling touches turns to musical gold ... exquisite.
04. "on VHS" - The Fierce and The Dead
There music is wonderfully vibrant and even better in a live setting ... their's was my Gig of 2012. They deserve to 'make it' in the UK Rock Scene. Can't think of anyone more worthy.
03. "The Seed" - Plum
The Seed is simply put ... *the* best electronica album of 2012! So varied and dense ... with vocals that draw you in. Her's was my runner-up Gig of 2012. I look forward to seeing her again in January '13 in King Tuts!
02. "Departure Songs" - Hammock
It really does not get much better than this ... truly engaging and wildly euphoric ... the post-rock album of 2012!
01. "Underneath The Stars", "This Is As Good A Place As Any" & "Lights" - Good Weather for an Airstrike
I am a huge fan of Tom Honey's ambient project 'Good Weather for an Airstrike' and in 2012 he delivered not one ... but three awesome release. Simply breathtaking. These were, in my opinion, the ambient releases of 2012!
Well that's that for 2012 ... it has been a great year for music and I am glad to have been able to contribute through listening ... attending gigs ... reviewing ... and participating to the wider scene with my netlabel - weareallghosts - and my podcast - circumambient.
I look forward to 2013. Independent music is alive and well!
Saturday, December 29, 2012
The countdown continues ... with 20 - 11
20. "Al Kemet" - Ketsa
19. "Random Access Memory" - Pinklogik
18. "There's A Ghost In Me" - The Narrows (from Detroit)
17. "Skies" & "Seas" - Neil S. Milton
16. "Mint and Marigold EP" - Tundravole
15. "Little Battles" - She Makes War
14. "The Shadows Left Me Alive" - Glowhouse
13. "I have become overcome with thoughts of you" by Tim Bass
12. "The Eve Of Invasion" - The Narrows (from UK)
11. "The Republic Of Dreams" - Jeff Scott Townsend
My 'top 10' Releases of Note in 2012 will be posted tomorrow ... watch this space.
This is the third of 5 posts... highlighting 50 independent releases that are worthy of note in 2012.
30 - 21
30. "That Remote and Awful Twilight" & "Clandestine" - Abominations of Yondo
29. "The Hard Bargain" & "Do the Math" - Andre LaFosse
28. "Sunprints" - Steve Brand
27. "Before, After" - Endless Melancholy
26. "Shadow District" - Har and Altus
25. "Respire" - Swartz_et
24. "The Blue Nature of Everyday" & "A Long White Sleep" - Leonardo Rosado
23. "Delays" - Fontaine
22. "Allegories" - The Dwindlers
21. "Asembulus" - Mender
Counting down my list of releases in 2012 that really caught my attention ... 40 - 31
40. "the wind alive like a heart beating" & "京都/奈良 - Kyōto/Nara" by Orbit Over Luna
39. "Continuo Trilogy" - Earlyguard
37. "Bloom" - Chris Russell
36. "The Stars and Afterward" - Phil Wilkerson
35. "All Our Dancing Days" - Hope and Social
34. "The Last Projectionist" - Minion TV
33. "That Grey Place We Go" - emptywhale
32. "Jasrup" - damn robot
31. "en seier" - åpne sinn
Over the next few posts ... I'm going to list the 50 or so independent releases from 2012 that I think are worthy of note.
1) To keep things fair ... I haven't included any releases from my netlabel or any that I have worked on.
2) If an artist has released more than one release of note in 2012, I have tried to list them together.
50. "Furniture Music" - the Sound of Rescue
49. "I smiled because I knew death is but a door" - Silverchord
48. "King of the Sugarcoated Tongues" - The Sunpilots
47. "Kings EP" - The Sleep Design
46. "Red Veil" - Greg Plummer
45. "Summer Haze EP" - Oathless
44. "all the fallen embers" - Arms of Tripoli
43. "Kunstformen der Natur" - Valerinne
42. "An Autumn Evening EP" - Loraine
41. "The Geometry of Shadows" - Broken Harbour
Please support independent music.
Monday, December 24, 2012
In reverse chronological order...
"...ending the year on a high (waag_com001)"
A varied 22-track compilation featuring music from artists previously release on weareallghosts along with a number of exclusive tracks from friends of the label.
Ketsa's music is an utter joy to me and this album ... a tribute to his late wife, Gabrielle ... was a real coup for weareallghosts. His Far Eastern-infused electronica is simply divine and highly recommended.
Pay what you want ... with all profits going to the foundation formed in Gabrielle's memory.
Back in early December Wolfgang Merx launched the third in his 'Vanguard Trilogy' ... a vibrant selection of progressive drones and improvisations that may challenge, unsettle and disorientate but will ultimately deliver a vision of imagination and foresight.
What's more ... Merx allowed me to re-release "Vanguard" ... an utterly delightful progressive adventure:
Both we're 'pay what you want' with any profits going directly to Wolfgang.
Things are heating up for weareallghosts and December was a particularly productive month. That said ... its not over yet! We have 2 more releases scheduled before the year is out ... one longform drone from Mystified and another super-special surprise.
Stay tuned ... and support independent music.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
I consider myself very fortunate to be given early access to some amazing pieces of music. One such piece of music is “Verschluckbare Kleintelle” by Rainer Straschill. I’ve been lucky to have been included in Straschill’s creative process as he created what he dubbed “#secretalbum”.
The imagination that has been poured into this album is easy to see ... this is an album of variety ... where a large assortment of sounds ... from a number of talented contributors ... have been used to create something very special indeed: the use of a squeaky door, for example, in “bottom freezer” being one of the more leftfield sounds in use ... others being a church organ, bass, trombone, synths, and even distorted guitar. The use of such varied sounds give the release the feel of a soundtrack rather than an album ... each track designed to express an emotion or articulate a specific scene in some unknown narrative.
It is, in fact, this sense of purpose that really amazes me ... with each of the 16 separate tracks having its own sense of being. The fun for me as the listener is to imagine what these purposes are: the frantic nature of “shalom sister” sounds like the best chase sequence ever ... whereas the spookiness of “ursus maritimus” hints at being the background to a moment in the dark.
The ska of “wehgetan” is fascinating to me and definitely the stand-out track ... especially when you consider this is the only non-instrumental track on the release. It has a real heading-nodding dance-about-in-your-living-room-like-a-loon feel to it. It does, however, finish too soon.
I guess this is my main criticism of this release. It is way too short ... with the 16 separate tracks sitting just under 15 minutes in elapsed time. It is a criticism Straschill has sought, in part, to address by providing a 17th track that compiles the other tracks together into one continuous long-form track ... something I am grateful for.
Let my explain why this is a criticism ... the tracks are just so good! I am left wanting on 16 separate occasions ... I want more from each and every idea presented!
It's like trying to have a full meal on the samples given out at the local supermarket ... you can and do get a good taste but there isn't anything more to sustain you ... nothing other than to press repeat and let the album circulate in your psyche ... something I have done and would recommend. It is only when you approach this album like a salad ... viewing it as a whole made up of smaller elements ... then you will begin to understand it.
But then ... it's not like Straschill is charging full price for this release ... he’s not. He is charging “based upon the planck lengh“ which is very generous indeed, in my view.
For me ... with any criticism of duration set aside ... this is a remarkably creative release and my kudos to Straschill and the myriad of contributors for making it happen.
As a mark of respect and a demonstration of how taken I am with it ... I intend to convert some of the tracks ... especially “shalom sister” ... to ringtones for my iPhone5. I doubt this is what was intended but I will be proud to have Straschill’s ideas representing me.
Well done Rainer well done!
I have embedded the release’s player below ... have a listen and support independent music:
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
One of the highlights of 2012 is, for me, the 6 track EP from Endless Melancholy called "Before, After". It has something decidedly lovely about it... especially the last track "Carpe Diem".
I recently reviewed the EP and afterwards got speaking with Oleksii "Alex" Sakevych ... the young man behind Endless Melancholy. He's a lovely chap and readily agreed to answer my wee blog interview ... this is what he had to say:
1) Who are you and what do you do?
First of all, I am a simple man! My name is Oleksiy Sakevych, I record melancholic tunes in dark corners of my bedroom and release them as Endless Melancholy and Moonshine Blues. I also run Hidden Vibes, at the very beginning a blog about lesser known artists, but now also functioning as a netlabel and preparing first physical release.
2) What are you working on at the moment?
There are several works in progress at the moment. Regarding Endless Melancholy, I am now in process of creation a new album for it, a full-length finally. No more EPs! I am not sure about when it is going to be done, the only thing I know is that I want it to be really well-produced, that's why there won't be any rush from my side. Also, we work on a collaborative EP with Lights Dim from Poland, and it will probably be done way faster than my solo album. This is an interesting experience working with someone from another country, sharing your thoughts on how music should sound and sending each other recordings via mail. Also, as I already mentioned, I am preparing to release a first physical release on my label, Hidden Vibes. This will be a debut album of a great musician and my good friend from Norway, and we hope to make it until January, 2013.
3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
This is quite obvious for anyone who have ever listened to my tunes! And this will be a lie to say that I am not inspired by anyone. I love music of Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Dustin O’Halloran, Antonymes, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Goldmund, Library Tapes, Dakota Suite, Fabrizio Paterlini, Clem Leek... could count endlessly.
- Name place that has inspired you.
Planet Earth, definitely.
- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
Let me think... there is no any!
4) What drives you to do what you do?
First of all, this is my passion to music. I enjoy listening to other people's music but it also evokes a desire to create my own in me! Everything is simple - when you're enjoying some kind of music you start thinking of creating similar stuff, of fulfilling the genre by adding a bit of your own perception to it. Of course, people's attention is a serious incentive too. When you see people loving what you do and you hear positive feedback - it inspires to keep on.
5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Sincerity! When you make minimal music, that does not involve neither lyrics nor exceptionally high level of playing the instrument, it is very important your tunes to be emotionally fulfilled. I am most happy to see people feeling exactly same emotions after listening to my music, that I was trying to express when making it.
6) What role does community play in what you do?
I do not take anything from the community I currently live in. At least, at the moment. With Endless Melancholy I've been active only on internet so far, no live shows, that's why my various internet communities influence me times more. Having not much musical connections with other people around, at the same time I found numerous friends all over the world who share common interests with me. Talking to them, sharing music with them and sharing their music, collaborating with them and helping each other has become an important part of my everyday life. And this is the only community that plays some role in what I do, others do not.
7) What is next for what you do?
Stay tuned for the updates and you will hopefully listen to a new album and to a collaborative EP with Lights Dim as soon as possible!
Thank you Alex! I really love your music and will watch as your career unfolds.
Please connect with Alex here...
Oh and have a listen to "Before, After" and, if you can, please support him by buying the EP.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
As my slightly infrequent journey through ’classic’ albums continues ... I am going to take a bold and audacious step and name Howard Shore’s score for “The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey” as my classic album for the letter “H”.
Why is this a bold and audacious step? Well ... the CD was released on the 10th of December 2012 ... and four days isn’t *really* enough time for something to become a classic ... but to me this soundtrack has.
Let me explain.
It is all that is brilliant about Shore’s work on “The Lord of the Rings” but better.
Yes ... better!
The Special Edition disc ... is a 32-track double-album ... filled with the best Shore has to offer. It has 6 additional tracks and 7 tracks that are extended from those that feature on the ’normal’ edition ... and features so many themes and leitmotifs, it is simply stunning. This album feels new *and* familiar at the same time ... something I find utterly remarkable yet entirely in keeping with Shore’s previous work.
It is truly brilliant. Yes, I am biased considering my Tolkien nerdery ... but as a piece of music it is wholly accomplished and deeply engaging ... moving the heart and stirring the soul.
I can't wait to put the music to the moving pictures … and tomorrow I will … but for tonight, I have my imagination.
Sunday, December 09, 2012
Loving... Anonymeye’s “Six Improvisations for Computer and Guitar” and “Before, After” by Endless Melancholy
Two more releases of note from Twice Removed are Anonymeye’s “Six Improvisations for Computer and Guitar” and “Before, After” by Endless Melancholy.
Both are exceptional in their own ways.
Both give me considerable pleasure when I listen to them.
First up we have Anonymeye’s “Six Improvisations for Computer and Guitar” ... which manages to say a great deal in its 18 minutes.
The soundscapes presented are brief ... with the longest track clocking in at 4:24. Consider them concentrated ideas ... tracks that are packed with inspiration ... rather than perspiration. Using the computer to loop, repackage and abstract the sounds created on the guitar, Anonymeye creates the most delightful soundscapes ... pieces that sit nicely on their own but deserve to be heard in the context that the full release provides. These tracks merge and blend into one another ... creating a consistent atmosphere that can and should be unhurriedly savoured for its textural richness.
Tracks like “three” dance and swirl in the listener’s consciousness ... the guitar is initially abstracted into layers of droning sound before becoming more apparent as a melody comes to the fore.
This is deep music that rewards any listener who is prepare to dive in and become immersed in the sounds presented. Whilst not demanding your attention, Anonymeye certainly rewards the attentive. Recommended.
Another release from Twice Removed that I would recommend is “Before, After” by Endless Melancholy. Another short EP ... clocking in at 21 minutes ... that packs more in these minutes than some full-length albums do.
Piano-orientated neo-classical soundscapes are a weakness of mine. Through in the cello and, well, I’m anyone's. Endless Melancholy know how to pace their music ... it's about the space between the notes as much as it is the notes ... and the notes are wonderful.
“All farewells aren’t sudden” is simply stunning. Piano and strings with a backing of found-sound (pouring rain)... it is deeply moving and magical ... a beautiful moment of music that deserves a poignant moment to soundtrack ... like the backing to a classic scene in a classic movie.
The release features three “minutes” ... “A minute for the beginning” ... “A minute in between” ... and ... “A minute for the end” that are utterly delightful. Minimal snippets of utter genius. Snippets that leave you satisfied yet paradoxically leave you hungry for more.
That more comes in the shape of the other two longer tracks ... “You are the moonlight” which features the most delightful piano playing ... subtle, sensual and sad ... which is, again, complemented with strings. There is nothing like the sound of the cello ... it is a bittersweet sound ... it rouses the soul whilst sounding melancholic and introspective ... and on this track it is expertly played.
The best is, however, left for the last on this EP. The closing track “Carpe Diem” is an utter delight. Rousing and emotive with a piece of spoken word that is simply inspired. I’m not sure where the spoken word is sourced ... it feels like Robin Williams but I can’t be certain ... but what I can be certain in is that it is inspired ... truly inspired. These words set this release apart ... take it to the next level ... and for that track alone I'd recommend this EP. That said ... the other tracks are all very strong in their own ways ... making this release 21 minutes of sheer joy ... downbeat and contemplative, maybe ... but joyous nonetheless.
Saturday, December 08, 2012
Kevin Hendricks is someone I would love to grab a coffee with. He gets the interwebs and his latest project ... which I am a bit late on (apologies) ... is a real inspiration to me.
"The Stephanies" is a book written together by Kevin with his 6 year old daughter Lexi ... with illustrations from Lexi.
It is ... in their own words ...
... a short, goofy little story about two girls who are both named Stephanie. Sharing a name causes all kinds of problems and the two girls continually square off:
“My name is Stephanie!”
“No, my name is Stephanie!”
“Grr…” both girls grumbled.
It’s great fun. If you’re into children’s books, think more Robert Munsch than Margaret Wise Brown.I love it ... albeit I am not their target market.
I love it because it is an awesome artefact ... a reminder of a time when a father and a daughter worked together and made something happen. Their experience has 'edges' ... it has substance ... it's more than memories and photographs ... it has physical form. I find that inspiring.
I love it because it is really good. I love kids books and have a few in my collection at home. The best thing about kids books is they can and are a great canvas for cutting edge illustration and storytelling. I'm not suggesting Lexi is a cutting edge artist ... yet ... but children's books are far more accommodating and accepting of a wide variety of expression ... and, to be honest, what better than a child illustrating a child's book ... there is a real 'on the level' thing here that I find delightful.
I love it because they made it happen. Kevin is a knowledgable chap and he knew what services to use to make this dream come true.
First off ... he used Kickstarter to crowdfund the process. I think they doubled their request ... and really got into the spirit of Kickstarter with some awesome incentives. I really would have liked a batch of those home-made cookies!
Kevin then used Amazon's CreateSpace service to create physical copies to add to the Kindle copy he created using tools such as Word and Photoshop.
Which brings me to my final point ... I love it because Kevin and Lexi could make it happen.
Theirs was and is a 100% independent production ... funded by kindness and generosity ... but created using easily available tools. Tools that need a bit of savvy to use but tools that give the opportunity to ordinary folks (not saying Kevin is ordinary ... far from it) with the willingness to learn the ability to do what Kevin and Lexi have done.
I think this is a prime example of how publishing is changing. Self-publishing is accessible to the masses ... or at least ... out of the hands of the gate-keeping Publishing industry. Yes ... Amazon are now the gate-keeper ... as are Apple ... and Barnes and Noble ... but they are enabling folks too ... giving them the tools to create.
Who knew I'd have my own netlabel this time last year? Its that kind of thing. The opportunities have changed and its savvy folks like Kevin with his adorable daughter who are paving the way for others to follow.
Well done Kevin ... Well done Lexi. I look forward to your next project and Lexi ... I really hope you keep on drawing.
Watch them read 'The Stephanies' together below ... and if you can ... please support them by buying a copy.
For more details ... go here.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
There is something wonderfully timeless about the music presented on "Give Up" ... the debut album for The Postal Service ... the side project between Jimmy Tamborello and Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard.
This album is worth it for the first two tracks alone ... "District Sleeps Tonight" and "Such Great Heights". They are wonderful examples of indietronica* and still sound fresh nearly 10 years after they were released. If I was still DJ'ing ... I'd still drop "Such Great Heights" into my set ... and watch the glee of folks dancing like loons to it's infectious polyrhythms.
It doesn't surprise me that this album was the second Sub Pop Records release to receive platinum certification ... and was their best selling album since Nirvana's "Bleach".
What does surprise me is that this album isn't wider known ... especially in the UK (in my experience). There is nothing not to like about it. It is truly a classic.
*I thought I was being silly and just made up the term 'indietronica' but it turns out I didn't :: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indietronica ... still it has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
For all that I love atmospheric ambient soundscapes and cinematic crescendo-core post-rock ... I have a soft spot for intelligent and witty acoustic folk music.
I'm not sure how I came across the music of Jo Whitby aka 'Laurence Made Me Cry' ... but her 2011 release - "The Rain Song EP" - is an utter pleasure ... it is the most delightful lo-fi joy!
I recently became acquainted with her through the recommendation of our mutual friend Basil ... who suggested I check out her Christmas single: "You Can't Have Christmas, It's Mine" ... which is wonderfully and intelligently lyrical and really deserves to be a success.
After chatting ... I suggested Jo complete my wee blog interview ... this is what she had to say:
1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jo Whitby and I live in Cardiff, Wales. I’m a musician and artist performing under the name ‘Laurence Made Me Cry’. I’m also an illustrator (I Know Jojo) and I sometimes update a webzine called Cat On The Wall too.
2) What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’ve just finished a Christmas song called ‘You Can’t Have Christmas, It’s Mine’ which I’ve released as a digital single. Quite unexpected, I hadn’t planned on writing a Christmas song but after hearing a few friends have a go I thought I’d give it a shot too. It’s quite a daft track about the plight of the Christmas baby and how joint gifts are rubbish.
My debut album has just come back from mixing but there’s still a bit of work to do. It’s taking a little longer than planned but I know it’s in good hands. I’m just impatient to have the album finished! Then it needs to be mastered of course. I’m in that lull after making a record where everything has gone quiet and I feel like there’s something missing in my life. It will pick up once the album is nearly ready to be released. Still a few months to go.
3) Who inspires you?
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
There are so many artists who have inspired me over the years. I usually opt for Kate Bush but I think this time I’ll go for Trent Reznor. I’m actually a huge fan of dark, noisy music which doesn’t tend to show in my own work. Perhaps that’s a side project in the making. I love how uncompromising Reznor is. He’s happy to let everyone know how he’s feeling and I enjoy his passion for trying out new music technology. Don’t mess with Mr Reznor.
- Name place that has inspired you.
I love seeing the world whilst in motion so I guess a place that has inspired me recently is actually the carriage of a train. Looking out a train window on a journey to a town in the Welsh valleys inspired me to write a track on my new album called ‘Between Destinations’ which is a collaboration with the ace musician Pulco. There were some really amazing clouds above the landscape, so close you could almost reach out and touch them. I was looking in awe and wondering why nobody else on the train seemed to notice. The world is amazing sometimes!
- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
I’m not sure there is a specific “thing” that has inspired me. I tend to draw inspiration from the world around me or events that are happening in my life. Do instruments count as “things”? I’ve had a lot of fun with a soprano ukulele that I actually bought for my best friend but she never played. New instruments always inspire me.
4) What drives you to do what you do?
Ever since I could express myself there has been a passion for making music and art. I don’t know where it comes from but I do know that if my life didn’t have music in it I’d be very very miserable. Being creative is what makes life beautiful to me and I can’t live without it. The overwhelming need to have creativity in my life is what drives me.
5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
These are tough questions! I’ve never really thought about values in my music. I suppose one of my values could be honesty. I like my songs to mean something most of the time although sometimes it’s good to have a laugh and not take yourself too seriously. Another value might be simplicity too.
6) What role does community play in what you do?
Community is important to me be it the music community or the community I live in. I get so much inspiration from the place where I live and the people I share that space with - positive and negative. The music community in Cardiff is great and very supportive. I’m very happy to be part of it.
7) What is next for what you do?
Next year will see the release of my album and I’ll hopefully be heading off on tour to promote it. I’d love to play across Europe. That’s one of my dreams.
Thanks Jo! I've embedded the bandcamp player for her Christmas single ... have a listen and if you like it ... buy it. 10p from each download goes to charity.
Please also check out "the Rain Song EP" ... I highly recommend it!
Saturday, December 01, 2012
I love Stevie Wonder ... or, more specifically, I love his uber-productive period between 1972 and 1976 where he released 4 albums and 1 extra-special double album. The music from that period is both timeless and wonderfully experimental ... it still feels fresh when I hear it nearly forty years later.
"Fulfillingness' First Finale" is the fourth album in that run ... recorded in 1974 ... which is, coincidentally, the year I was born. In many ways its the low-key poor cousin compared with classics such as "Talking Book" or "Innervisions" ... and is also overshadowed by the awesomeness that is "Songs in the Key of Life" ... the double album that came 2 years later.
But there is something about this album that resonates with me. The mix of songs and sounds ... from funky synth sing-a-longs to bittersweet ballads with the most exquisite guitars ... is simply first class.
"Boogie on Reggae Woman" is simply infectious ... whereas the downtempo nature of "creepin'" is wonderfully sensuous.
I also love the cameo from the Jackson 5 in "you haven't done nothin'" ... it is a simple doo-wop delight.
To me ... this is a great album that stands tall with Wonder's other great albums ... one that is highly recommended ... albeit one that can't be purchased on it's own but bought with the other 4 albums of the period. Seriously ... if you don't own these albums then reward your ears ... now.
I am the first to admit being torn when Apple releases new software ... I want to get it ASAP but I also get anxious in case the mess it up. I had heard rumblings about iTunes 11 and held off ... well, I held of *for me* and waited a day before succumbing.
I'll be honest ... my initial experience was favourable albeit slightly disorientating. It takes a few minutes to get to grips with ... then it works ... at least for me.
What I do love is the way albums are presented in this grid format ... and I'll happily admit to a bit of pride seeing the covers from weareallghosts, circumambient and others presented in such a manner. I might go so far as to say I *gazed* at them in almost the same way I do when *gazing* at my album collection or Tolkien collection.
What it does demonstrate is the need for a good album cover. I'm not saying my covers a good, per se ... but I do think they are recognisable ... at least to me. Designs need to work at 160x160 pixels as they do at 1,200x1,200 pixels. They need to be instantly recognisable ... so as to aid quick and painless selection. This means the image must be as recognisable as the text ... big text isn't always desirable ... but a distinctive image is. The file is named underneath the image, afterall.
This is also apparent when you switch to the 'Artist List' view.
I like the way iTunes is now presenting my music ... even the wee thumbnails of the artists is appealing to me albeit I don't know how to change them.
Friday, November 30, 2012
I wanted to bring a little Advent / Winter joy to screens everywhere ... so I dug this pic out from my archives. Who doesn't love to see a wee Robin ... especially in December.
I hope you enjoy it and once again let me thank you for your willingness to have my photography on your device(s)... I do appreciate it.
iPhone with Calendar + iPhone without Calendar
Thursday, November 29, 2012
I love it when someone presents an idea in a manner that makes me laugh AND think at the same time ... and this video from Moleskine did both. Yes, it is an advert for their collab with Evernote ... but it is well shot and thoughtful ... and wanted to share it.
For me its definitely both ... but that's me. I'm not ready to ditch my paper just yet.
Thanks Aaron for sharing.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Another fascinating video ... this time the birth of a hardback book.
It's wonderful to see the care and effort that goes into making an artefact like a hardback book. Whilst I love my Kindle ... it would pain me greatly if we were to lose these skills.
Well done Glen Milner.
I thought this was fascinating when I read about it on PSFK.com ... a modified Moleskine notebook that works as an analog app for the iPhone ... utilising a mirror and a slot for an iPhone.
For more info on the ABRACADABRAPP ... go to their 'Rock the Post' page.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Saturday, November 24, 2012
"... there's an increasing desire, almost a panic, for something new. Yesterday was a million years ago, and tomorrow is already here. The rush for new continues to increase, and it is now surpassing our ability to satisfy it."Seth Godin :: The decline of fascination and the rise in ennui
One of my favourite micro-labels at the moment is Twice Removed Records from Australia. I have featured their music on here before but feel it appropriate to mention a number of their recent releases ... because these releases have grabbed my attention and really kept it tight. Over the next wee while I’ll feature these releases on here.
First up, we have “Delays” by Fontaine ... an album of two halves - first half is 5 original tracks and the second half is 5 remixes of 4 of the original tracks.
The five original tracks are utterly delightful ... the kind of languid electronic ambience that I adore.
The opener and title track - “Delays” - is a pleasure. It envelopes the listener like a warm embrace from someone very familiar ... there are no sudden surprises or twists making the track a very engaging experience, especially when the percussive elements become apparent.
The second track - “Faded” - drifts in and out of my conscious, it's ebb and flow lulling me into another place ... a space for dreams. Whereas the third track - “Brothers” - brings an intensity and an element of white noise into the equation ... whilst retaining the overall sense of languidity.
“Shearwater” - the fourth track - retains the coherent sense of the album whilst bringing more melody to the fore ... the synths on this track are so delicious ... the track takes its own time and builds as it wants. I like that ... albeit it does leave me wanting more. It is a track that almost begs to be remixed ... with a dub-techno beat taking the track into a new direction.
The fifth track - “Atomised” - retains the ebb and flow of earlier tracks but has an almost soundtrack appeal to it. The synths that present the melody in an almost melancholic manner are really catchy, in their own way ... grabbing the attention of the listener and really shaping their experience. This track reminded me of Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtrack to Twin Peaks ... although I'm not entirely sure why. This track is the most atmospheric of the 5 and a real stand out for me.
We now come to the remixes and I'll be honest ... I have a bit of a love/hate thing with remixes ... when they build something new that compliments and adds to the original then I am in favour of them but when they somehow lessen the original then I'm not so keen.
First up, we have Begalfuel’s Risky Chicken remix of "Atomised". This track has grown on me. I would find the repetitive polyrhythms unquestionably objectionable if it weren’t for the synth drones that underpin these beats ... these drones are wonderful and really rescue the track for me ... keeping me interested and engaged ... which I am grateful for because around the 3mins 30 mark the beats change and become really, really head-noddingly, Aphex-Twin inspired deranged ... and, at this point, I am smiling like a loon ... my patience rewarded with something truly beautiful. Well done Bengalfuel.
Next up we have Ben Moon’s remix #4 of “Atomised” ... a remix that really builds upon the original and compliments the material in a respectful manner ... extending it out and accentuating the strong elements like the swirling synths and melancholic air. The melody is presented in a distorted, almost ethereal manner which I really enjoy. What’s more ... the introduction of a subtle delayed beat around the 4mins mark really adds to the atmosphere ... bringing something new to the table. I loved this mix and hope to feature this track on my next CircumAmbient set.
The Sun Remix of “Shearwater” really emphasises the droning ebb and flow of the track ... it is an all-encompassing delight ... one that envelopes the listener whilst presenting a new melody that effectively utilises delays to build momentum and hook the listener in.
The penultimate track on this release is the L_Coma remix “Brothers”. It is another delightful remix... one that takes the languid nature of the original and somehow adds a more ominous atmosphere to it ... bringing repetitive glitches and a heavier ebb and flow to play. Not that this is a bad thing ... far from it. It takes the track in a new and worthwhile direction. One that I heartily welcome.
Lastly, we have the very glitchy ’he can jog’ remix of “Delays”. A remix that has broken the original down by an apparent musical form of functional decomposition and rebuilt it from the constituent parts. It makes for an interesting listen ... one that I initially found objectionable but I warmed to, like Bengalfuel’s earlier mix. The remix is interesting ... one where the sounds presented skitter in the listener’s conscious like heavy raindrops hitting a tin roof ... before forming a drone in the last minute or so of the track.
All in ... this is a first class release and is highly recommended for folks with a predisposition towards the more experimental edges of electronic music. Have a listen below ... and if it floats your boat, go out and buy ... and, in doing so, support truly independent music.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
My friend Travis Mamone has released another eBook ... entitled "O Come Emmanuel - Advent Meditations" ... and I was honoured to design the cover for him. Albeit when I say design ... I kind of just put text over one of my photos ... but I think it works.
It is available to buy here.
In my ongoing, semi-regular look at classic albums ... I come to the letter ’E’ and there is one album that starts with an ’E’ that stands head-and-shoulders above its peers ... “Endtroducing.....” by DJ Shadow.
This album was a game-changer when I bought it on the day it was released. It took the beats and attitude of hip hop and took it to a whole other level ... and in doing so DJ Shadow lived up to the promise he had shown prior to the release.
Instrumental hip hop has never been better ... some folks have come close, in my opinion, but no one ... not even Shadow himself ... has surpassed this album for me.
The variety and sonic density of the music presented beggars belief ... he really did take instrumental hip hop and, dare I say, dance music in general, to another level.
Shadow’s use of polyrhythms and obscure sounds blows my mind. What shouldn’t work ... in his hands does. The ethereal sound of the harp juxtaposed against thrash metal drums ... wonky synths ... off kilter vocal samples ... female vocals ... chunky drones and super-chunky, high fat beats ... soulful samples ... hip hop dialogue ... all work to make this album one in a million.
If you don't have this release in your collection then get it ... now!
The only thing that disappoints me about it ... if i am honest ... is the lack of the full version of “midnight in a perfect world” ... which is one of the best tracks on the release and, thankfully, featured on a separate single release. Well worth finding if you haven’t heard it ... the spoken word poetry is truly inspiring.