Monday, September 12, 2011

Mick Chillage "Night Works" Out now!!!!!!!

Lee Norris AKA Norken, Metamatics etc and founder of seminal UK electronica label Neo Ouija has just released my third CD album "Night Works" on his newly formed ambient experimental label ...txt recordings.

"Night Works" as the title suggests is a collection of ambient pieces created and recorded in the early hours and inspired by night time which conveys a wide range of emotions and moods that the twilight hours can bring.

The label will release strictly limited edition CD's and already has many beautiful releases in the pipeline, including albums by Solipsism AKA Craig Murphy [Herb recordings] and a new amazing discovery Ersha, plus works from Lee himself under is Nacht Plank guise.

"Night Works" is out now and it is limited to 200 copies

"Night Works" teaser forthcoming on ...txt by Mick Chillage

txt ...bolt ons by ...txt

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sen "Sensory Emotive Network"

I first discovered the music of Sen AKA UK based John Shern through myspace about five years ago, I think it was the image from the seminal George Lucas classic THX1138 that attracted me to his music, images aside I was instantly drawn by its minimal yet deep and soulful sounds a perfect balance of ambient drones, stark techno grooves and a healthy helping of human emotion, futuristic yet familiar.

So I have been eagerly awaiting Sen's Debut album since my first encounter with his deep vibes and this year the wait is over as "Sensory Emotive Network" gets a CD and digital release through Cold tear recordings.

The album opens with the Deep droning atmospherics and rain recordings of "Soul Rain" subtle sinister strings appear creating a sense of uncertainty, slightly reminiscent of the haunting work of Mark Isham's classic "The Hitcher" soundtrack.

Next we have "Skychords" full of shifting swirling atmospherics and a deliciously treated bluesy guitar refrain, the addition of a subtle downtempo 909 drum sequence and a deep bass growl with tastefully placed ethnic percussion keeps the track evolving nicely, resulting in a hypnotic yet deeply thought provoking mantra.

"We Now Understand" even though its clocking in at over 14 minutes, the track never becomes tiring, from the start a creepy storm like wave of sound emits while an ominous low end rumbles in the distance, slowly a deep house groove creeps in, the atmospherics shift around in a sinister manner creating one moody experimental dancefloor epic.

"These Moments" changes the tone somewhat as a rather emotive yet heart warming chord structure compliments a highly reverberated and distorted techno groove, the clever use of soaring high strings adds further emotion.

The Sci-fi influence of Sen seem rather evident on "Rebound" as haunting atmospheric tones and what sounds like distant ringing church bell makes this sound like an alternative soundtrack to "Bladerunner" a deeply delayed groove is introduced a voice pad rises in the mix creating a further intensity. Think Rod Modell meets Vangelis and you are only halfway there.

"Never before again" takes on a Melancholic yet optimistic journey as a simple key refrain riding on top of some lush electronics grooves along with some subtly flanged and filtered drums, rising and falling hats keep the percussion interesting and a humming low bass line keeps it in the tradition of the classic dub techno sound.

then we have "Within Reach" possibly the standout track on the album? It starts of with a slightly sombre tone, then a really beautiful change is introduced halfway through which is a welcome surprise and gives you a feeling that anything is possible. Uplifting and beautiful and perfectly placed on the album.

"Scuba drift" takes you to the deepest depths of your imagination with its dreamy floating modulated synths and sub-aquatic rhythms.

The album closes off beautifully with "Jem" a rather ethereal mix of pads and dreamy vocal refrains.

"Sensory Emotive Network" is truly a stunning debut long player and an album which has all the hallmarks of a future classic. While some of this album can be placed in the dub techno genre, it would be unfair to simply catergorise it all this way, John has taken the blueprint of dub techno and created something deeper and more expressive which may make some of the big guns in the scene re think their game.

Highly highly recommended.

By the CD direct from coldtear

Monday, July 11, 2011

Psychonavigation records "Mindfield"

Dublin based Ambient, electronica, alternative label Psychonavigation celebrated its 10Th anniversary last year and to celebrate it label boss Keith Downey decided to release a compilation, as time went by the compilation just seem to snow ball and now it actually arrives one year later.

The "Mindfield" compilation features some truly stellar names like The Future Sound Of London, Move D, Scanner, Spacetime Continuum amongst others on both the CD and digital release, there's no doubt that there's a certain wink to those who originally inspired the label many years ago. Both versions include a selection of previously unreleased material some tracks taken from forthcoming and previously released works on Psychonavigation itself and some previously released material from other labels.

"Mindfield" digital release version.

With over twenty tracks on the digital release it is obvious that many of these do not feature on the CD but also some of the CD tracks are not on the digital so there are some exclusives on both formats a cheeky but clever move for the label.

I know it may seem a little unfair for me to review a compilation that includes my own "Veymx", but I will try to be as honest as possible. Over all the compilation is quiet varied, with many genre's popping up along the way, from the massive cinematic techno of the black Dog's remix of Anodyne's "Corrosion" to the ambitious electro R&B pop song of Meljoanns "So Academic" to Rival Ace's minimal hip hop Rap of "My 1st Verse" so the comp is very much suited to the digital consumer, only purchase the tracks you like.

Highlights include:

More from the mighty Anodyne with his "Symmetry" epic synth strings and blistering breakbeats. [Digital]

Norken's "Pretty Bubblegum" a Haunting micro tech house jam [CD version and Digital]

Drafts On A Theme's "74" with their rather melancholic piano and beats combo [Digital]

The Future Sound Of London's "Heart Sick Chord" classical meets electronica [CD and Digital]

Space Time Continuum's deep tech soul of "Beryllium" [CD and Digital]

One of the albums biggest surprises is from newcomer Jez Wells with the deeply moving and accomplished composition of "Ydok"[Digital]

Finland's finest electronic export Lackluster gives us a melodic and ethereal IDM track in the shape of "Be the Trimtab" [Digital]

Dialog's haunting dubby "Ghosts" [Digital]

The godfather of Irish electronica Roger Doyle finishes off with the moving strings and modulated synths of "From The Room" [CD and Digital]

So in conclusion "Mindfield" [Digital] is a highly ambitious electronic music compilation which I feel is pretty accessible in most cases and it should appeal to a wide range of electronic music tastes and should further psychonavigation's identity as a forward thinking,open minded
label who's not afraid to mix up genres and new and well established artists.

You can judge my inclusion here : )

"Veymx" [Taken from "Mindfield" on Psychonavigation records] by mick chillage

CD only Highlights:

David Morley "Equator" previously released on his excellent "Ghosts" album.

Robert Leiner's "Tung Gung" a tough polyrythmic journey of tech breaks, previously unreleased.

Boxcutter's rather Aphexish melodic mentalism of "Diagonal Reader" previously unreleased.

Enrico Coniglio "The Girl From Murania" from Enrico's "Topfonie 2"
Feat Arve Henrksen's trademark haunting trumpet playing.

Scanner's "Persephone" a spine tingling epic soundtrack inspired piece.

Sense "Less Than Perfect" a deeply moving ambient composition that's reminiscent of the finest tracks off Aphex Twins Selected Ambient Works Volume 2.

Karol Gwozdz "Gurnolsunkje Tragedyje" a delicate yet highly emotive piano and strings combo of incredible beauty.

So even though the CD version has some of the same tracks as the digital, I feel the CD certainly works better as a more cohesive listen, thanks to a solid helping of some of the biggest names in the ambient techno/IDM scene which gives you a glimpse of the labels influential past particularly from track two with Spacetime continuum's "Beryllium to track six with the Black Dogs epic remix of Anodyne's "Corrosion" its almost like hearing Warp's Artificial Intelligence again for the very first time.

From track nine onwards, starting with FSOL's chamber music inspired "Heart Sick Chord" "Mindfield" certainly showcases the labels more recent obsession with the classical/ambient genre and maybe its a glimpse of the future for Psychonavigation? but it certainly finishes off "Mindfield" beautifully.

"Mindfield" is released on the 29Th of July 2011
Order direct from Psychonavigation

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fooled by MP3 ? Not Me!!!

What ever happened to all the years of developing hi fidelity sound for the consumer? Its almost impossible to walk into a high street store these days and buy some decent Hi-Fi kit.. It seems most people these days are afraid to be seen playing music from a turntable or CD player on a separate system, its like they have been brainwashed into thinking if its small and its the latest gizmo it must be better ?

Today most homes have ipod dockers and shitty PC speakers pumping out poor quality MP3, and its not just the XBOX generation, many adults who once enjoyed vinyl and CD have moved over to MP3 not realizing that the old technology and media had a far superior sound quality but for most people nowadays its quantity not quality that matters. "Oh my ipod holds 1000,000,00 tracks" "CD's and vinyl take up too much space, blah blah". Many have chucked out their amps and speakers to purchase ipod dockers not realizing a simple jack to phono lead can connect the media player to an old amp. "Oh but the amp doesn't charge the ipod" use your PC for christ sake!!!!

Stereo Mini Jack to phono lead €2.99 approx..

ipod Docking System €400.00 approx

Originally the MP3 was developed to reduce the size of audio files for quicker and easier transfers over the web, ideal for commercial applications where a composer of music for a TV commercial could easily send a demo to the client without them waiting for a CD in the post or trying to hear it over a telephone line but somehow it managed find its way to consumer use.

Now when you purchase a download at some stores they state the following...

Files @192kbps: Suitable for home listening and ipod etc..

Files @320kbps: Suitable for Dj use.

Wav or Flac etc: Suitable for professional use.

Ok if anything the 192Kbps may scrape by for DJ use, as you are not going to be able to hear all the details with crowd noise etc, while the 320Kbps will reproduce bass better on bigger club sound system. Truly the 192Kbps files should only be used for streaming music samples and is an absolute crime for these to be sold to the consumer..

And wav for professional use now ?

Well as most people know CD's use WAVs or AIFF files. When the CD was introduced in the early 80's it was a consumer product promising the best sound ever along with some dodgy claims of indestructibility, the CD was aimed at home use and not for the reserve of professionals like Radio, TV and movies producers.

So you now have to be a DJ or TV producer to enjoy higher quality sound ?

So is the convenience of modern technology is devaluing art ?

When you actually go to the trouble of entering a record store and browsing through vinyl/Cd's and making a purchase with your hard earned cash you are usually more committed to listening to the album properly, so if at first you are not so sure about an album you will go back in a day or so and try again which you may find one or two pieces growing on you, after a few more days you can find yourself compelled to listen again, often albums that take many listens can end up being some of your favorites..

With MP3, particularly illegally downloaded ones you have no invested interest if it doesn't appeal within two or three tracks in you just quickly go to the next album, so an album which could have slowly grown on you has been discarded to the bottom of your hard drive or dragged and dropped to the waste bin and never given a chance.

Another appealing factor with physical releases is that you usually commit yourself to listen all the way through, opening the CD case or slipping out of the vinyl sleeve, carefully placing the record to the turntable and dropping the needle or that sound of the CD loading tray closing and then sitting back to enjoy the music as it was intended to be heard, from browsing the liner notes and perhaps reading the lyrical content to enjoying the artwork and often savoring the scent of the print all adds to the sensory experience.

The problem with the MP3 on an ipod or other portable device is that the temptation to quickly flick to the next track or album is way too easy, too many choices creates greater indecision and if you are listening on a PC you also have the sound of the PC's fan and hard drive spinning over the already poorly compressed audio and generally awful generic computer speakers.

In tests it has been proven that vinyl or cassette will hold your listening attention longer than CD, while vinyl has certain surface noise issues and cassette has the old hiss problem, the analogue sound reproduction stimulates the human brain for longer periods than CD so what does that say for highly compressed MP3 files which often holds up to 80% less digital information than a wav file as used on CD ?

While some people may listen to music to just happily sing along to or as a comfort in the background the MP3 is fine for that but if you really want to feel the power of rock or the emotion of classical and the detail of electronica etc, then vinyl or CD on a proper sound system is still the best way to get the maximum feeling from the music.

So apart from the actual audio quality of MP3, the effect of illegal downloads is impacting big time on the quality of production, many underground electronic acts who would have hired session musicians and professional recording studios and engineers in the past are now resorting to solely home produced releases as the return for big studio albums is practically zero thanks to all the so called freeloading music fans, so epic sounding electronic albums like The Orbs "Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld" and 808 States "Ex:el are quickly becoming a thing of the past.. Instead we now have the beatport/Juno generation, where someone who's been knocking out a few tracks on a cracked version of Fruity Loops in the space of a few months sets up a digital label, the online distributor will distribute because they get a fee from the label to host the music so it doesn't matter if it sells zero units. Back in the purely physical days the distributor had to be a lot more choosy about the artists or a labels they unleashed on the public.

While some people may argue that everyone should get their music heard but the problem is that the digital markets are flooded with too much generic electronic music and much of the really good material gets lost in the sea of mediocrity and the idea of scrolling through the thousands of new releases every week online is just not the way I want to find new music.

While there are some benefits that the MP3 has to offer, its ideal for streaming samples and demoing music online, the ipod is a perfect traveling companion, also its also fine for DJing with , no more lugging massive back breaking record boxes around with you but I just don't see why its been pushed as the only media to consume music ? Maybe I'm one of the very few true music lovers and for most music is just a disposable art form that has no value anymore it seems ? many also have the attitude of "F**k em musicians make enough money, that may be the case for acts like U2`or Beyonce but not for the small indie artist. Its not just the music scene though, the same mindset seems to apply the movie industry.

Nowadays many people are content with watching the latest movies recorded with a shaky hand held camera in some dodgy cinema the file is further compressed and then downloaded and viewed on the 3"x 3" screen of the latest blackberry or other trendy must have device, so with everything so instant and accessible the value is lost, I remember back in the days of pre VCR waiting for a week in total excitement because a James Bond movie was gonna be screened on TV for the first time or to read in the NME that your favorite band was releasing a new CD and to check your local music store every week to see if it had arrived and the thrill of seeing it in the store made your heart jump!

Recently one of my favorite acts Biosphere announced his new album will be released in July, I ordered the CD online and have awaited patiently for the last six weeks or so only to hear from Geir Jenssen himself on a certain social networking site that the album has already being downloaded illegally 23,000 times, so thats 23,000 people have heard it [in lesser sound quality of course ; )] before me without paying for it..

I often ask myself a question about someone who has actually purchased a CD or download and then felt the need to share the music online. Are they looking for some sort of pat on the back or acknowledgement ? "Oh look at me, I was the first to share this amazing record" or to be accepted on some music sharing forum, maybe there is some ego stroking thing going on, who knows?

Some internet providers have had to take action against serial illegal uploaders by cutting off their web access, only to have certain groups complain that it is now a basic human right to have internet access, well isn't it a basic human right to get paid for work that you do ?

So most people may think that I'm a fool for buying CD or someone else who has honestly purchased a digital download, while there are those who continue to support the music they love, the freeloaders should be thankful, because as soon as everyone develops the same freeloading mindset the well of free new music will most certainly dry up!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mick Chillage DJ set @ The Turks Head Dublin 25/06/11

Mick Chillage dj Set Turks Head Dublin 25/06/2011

All tracks randomly selected from my CD collection
except for Monkey Harris "Halloween"
taken from his excellent free download album
"Sea Of Love"

01 David Alvarado : She
02 Ultramarine : What Machines Want
03 Reagenz : Keep Building
04 Rohag Wruhme : Thora Vukk
05 Kenny Larkin : Butterflies
06 Reagenz : DJ Friendly [playtime version]
07 DJ Sprinkles : House Music Is Controllable Desire You Can Own
08 Reagenz : Confidence
09 Johannes Heil : Halo Static
10 Random Factor : Rewire
11 Wamdue Kids : That's The Feeling
12 Johannes Heil : Twentythree
13 Bjorn Torske : Bergensere
14 Kerrier District : Disco Bus
15 Bjorn Torske : Nitten Nitti
16 Johannes Heil : The Ace
17 Monkey Harris : Halloween
18 Secret Cinema : Star Sapphire

Running time one hour forty minutes approx....

Download the set @320kbps from yousendit

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mick Chillage : FAXology PS 08/122

I've been meaning for sometime to write an article on Fax records but I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be writing an article about my own release for the label.

Fax records have been a major influence on me ever since I discovered the cult electronic imprint back in 1993. While so many labels have come and gone since its inception in 1992 Fax still continue with the same open minded approach and high quality standard, breaking new artists and giving Pete himself and many veterans of the scene a platform to release cutting edge and experimental music.

Fax continue to release on CD and focus on full albums while many independent labels struggle to survive with just MP3 releases. Over the years the label has pioneered completely new formats like the MP3 CD [several albums on one disc] and double discs with DTS and regular stereo versions included, so with names like, Klaus Schulze, Anthony Rother, Ritchie Hawtin, Move D and even the godfather of ambient himself Brian Eno and many collaborations with Pete, its no surprise to the labels continued success.

Over the years some of my productions have had a Fax records feel, not that I ever consciously set out to emulate the sound, I guess its down to the fact that I have listened to so much of Fax over the years, it just instinctively appears in the creative process. So it has always been a dream that one day I may release on the label, I've had plenty of friends and followers of my music saying "That has a strong Fax vibe" or "why don't you send some music to Namlook"

So Mick Chillage "FAXology" is a result of me psyching myself up to send Peter a demo for Fax records, as the title suggest the CD is collection of Fax inspired pieces which Pete felt would suit a release to celebrate the labels fast approaching 20th year. Pete said while listening to the works he began to reminisce about the early days of Fax with albums like Broadway 2350 etc and felt the time was right for such a release.

So I am absolutely delighted to be part of this incredible legacy and to present a collection of my Fax inspired works just before Fax celebrate its 20th birthday.

Mick Chillage FAXology CD is out 14/06/2011

Check the official info here

FAXology PS08/122 Teaser Clips forthcoming on Fax [Germany] by mick chillage

Pre listen on itunes now

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Secret Cinema "Minerals"

Secret Cinema AKA Jeroen Verheij releases his latest long player "Minerals" on the recently formed Netherlands based Gem Records. The album is released on vinyl and CD. The tracks on Minerals, are inspired by the hardness, color and material of various minerals.

The CD version comes with two albums disc one "Night On Earth" covers the tech/house vibes Jeroen is more associated with and then the ambient/experimental collaboration "Moving Earth" with Mental Youth..

Night on earth opens with "Exploration" a dreamy ambient intro before heading into the deep tech house of "Smooth Talc" its layered poly rhythmic groove and funky arpeggio's and swelling synth stabs and melodic organ refrains make this an blinding opener. "Crystal System" effortlessly flows in next, a bouncy and hypnotic deep bass driven growler that cruises along with some tastefully filtered and delayed cymbals, vocal stabs and shimmering Detroit-esque keys keep this emotive and deeply funky

The deepness continues with "Turquoise" with its solid house groove, filtered alien funk and a mutating yet incredibly infectious organ hook keeps it building. "Calcite Night" ventures into some serious tech-jazz.

Things get slightly sinister yet extremely deep with the off kilter afro tribal vibes of "Moms Scale" its a rather dark and hypnotic mantra.. "Star Sapphire" is an absolute killer techno track reminiscent of The Black Dogs "Bytes" period. "Smoky Quartz" takes us in a more minimal direction but its warped acidic bass line is almost psychosis inducing but with the help of sweeping cinematic swells it brings you back to a normal mind state.

Towards the end we have "Caught In Amber" another acidic bleep treat with an almost jazz like feel but never leaving the dance floor. we are then given a little breather with the beautifully haunting Interlude "Passage" before finishing off with the early IDM inspired "Ruby FM" which ends "Night On Earth" with a subtly melancholic vibe..

Disc two "Moving Earth" is an ambient mix created from the source material on the tracks off disc one, Dirk-Jan Hanegraaff and Robert Kroos also known as Mental Youth, collaborated with Verheij on this collection of deeply haunting yet futuristic ambient textures. For the maximum effect, this is one for personal listening in a horizontal position with the lights out.

Overall "Minerals" is a stunningly produced release, although disc one "Night On Earth" is extremely club friendly I feel its one of those techno/house music albums that will work for home listening, perfect for preparing for a night of clubbing or for long journeys with only your headphones to keep you company, because of its mixed format its ideal for parties, a guaranteed floor burner with an underground edge often venturing into the more darker/experimental side of club culture. The inclusion of a second ambient album will only further delight the more open minded music fans.. 9/10

Minerals is out now on Gem Records on Vinyl and double CD..

Stream the album here @128kbps
Secret Cinema - Minerals: CD1 mixed (128Kbps) by GEM Records

Friday, May 13, 2011

Soma Coma 5 Various Compilation

Various Soma Coma 5

Glasgow based Soma records are celebrating their 20Th birthday this year, to mark this occasion they are releasing their 5Th Soma Coma compilation.
Soma maybe best known for their techno and house music releases from the likes of Slam, Funk de void and many many more but the label is certainly no stranger to other forms of electronic music, most recently they have ventured into the full on ambient album territory with the ambient classic "Music For Real Airports" by The Black Dog.

So the fifth in the Soma Coma series yet again displays a rather eclectic range of electronic music with some previously released tracks and some new artists to the Soma roster..

Some of the highlights are, the albums opener "Later Vexations" by The Black Dog, the track effortlessly combines beautiful shifting pads and electronic bleeps with distant melodic flourishes and then a deep bassline and a minimal downtempo groove appear, keeping this haunting track evolving with a graceful momentum.

Recent newcomer Joe Starwarz delivers an emotive string soaked epic "Cry" which rides along a deep dub tech structure and subtle jazz breaks. Hatikvah moves us with his thought provoking electric piano composition on "Daedalus". From Decimal we have the dreamy uplifting and infectiously melodic "The Lesson of Hope" which takes me back to the days of labels like "Recycle or Die".

Another new comer to the label, Vakama AKA Conor Dalton, debuts his mesmerising "Yemaya", its a deep grinding dub tech epic set adrift with a Steve Hillage style solo guitar jam which kinda makes you think this is what the Orb and David Gilmore's recent collaboration should have sounded like.

Gene Farris serves up "Smoke Session Pause" which is a Delicious downtempo funk jam, that wouldn't sound out of place on a Nightmares On Wax album. Harvey Mckay's "Life" returns us to the more emotive side of the album, a rather short but delicate and haunting track.

Counter Plan treats us with a melodic yet deeply soulful slab of electro minimalism that is "The Morning After" and in a similar vein "Sleazy Listening" by Chaser is an excellent shimmering electro jazz jam with a deep funk vibe. Universal Principles keeps thing's in the funk arena with "Dons Different Ducks" Smokey Keys, throbbing bass and a tastefully modulated synth line sit nicely on top of some classic breaks all designed to keep your head nodding blissfully.

The album finishes with the rather quirky minimal hip hopper "The Strip" which has a synth melody that reminds me of Lalo Schiffrins "Enter The Dragon".

So a truly solid collection of downtempo cuts from Scotland finest electronica label which will suit any mood and one that certainly displays Soma's dedication to quality music, here's to another twenty years!!!

The Album will be released on CD and digital 23rd May

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Alka "Compounded" Remix Album

Philadelphia based Bryan Michael, AKA Alka creates some of the most stunningly beautiful electronic music, he effortlessly blends a huge palette of sound into some of the most memorable and emotive electronica. Alka's work is often full of intricate detail and rhythm but he always leaves plenty of room for melody which is often lost by many in the IDM genre.

May 2011 will see the release of Alka's Compounded" which is a collection of remixes from his excellent "A Dog Lost In The Woods" album which was released on the diverse Electronic Eel label in 2009. The compilation features remixes from some rather well known names from around the globe, Icelandic based Ruxpin [electrolux] Gate Zero [fax] and also along side label mates City Rain and Axiotronic plus other rising names, all showing their unique take on Alka's already mesmerising work.

All proceeds from the album will be donated to the Peta2 organisation.

Check out more info on Alka @ Discogs

I am also proud that my remix of "What Will Become Of Your High Existence" has been included.

Alka's "What Will Become Of Your High Existence?" [micks ghostly echoes mix] by mick chillage

"Compounded' is released on May 17th 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tomtom Records.. Rising from the ashes..

In recent years Iceland has been constantly surprising me with an unbelievable amount of high quality electronic music emerging from its relatively small population.

Iceland maybe famous for its beautiful icy landscapes and its and its recent volcanic eruption but it is has also made quite an impact on pop music with an electronic edge, as Bjork formally of the Sugarcubes blended her unique vocal talents with acts like 808 state in the early nineties and has also worked with Mark Bell [LFO] and Alec Empire amongst others.

The noughties saw the rise of bedroom producers like Yagya and Ruxpin who have made some rather big waves in the global ambient/electronica scene, with some of their out of print releases fetching serious money on ebay and Discogs.

In recent years, through connections on Facebook I have been introduced to more underground acts from Iceland, one act in particular "Stereo Hypnosis" AKA Beatmakin Troopa & Jafet Meige have released two stunning CD albums on the Triangle Productions label, both albums venture in a rich sonic terrain of ambient, dub, hip hop, jazz, and folk which gives you an amazing sense of the awesome environment which surrounds them.

So 2011 starts of with a new Icelandic label TomTom Records, the label was started by electronic musicians Jóhann Ómarsson (aka Skurken) and Árni Grétar (aka Futuregrapher) the label is scheduled to release the music of many known and established Icelandic electronic producers.

Tomtom records gets off to a stunning start with its first release by Prince Valium, AKA Þorsteinn Konráð Ólafsson who has previously released music on the now defunct Resonant records.

The album "Andefni" has a deep sense of melancholy and each track has its own very strong identity, some of its high points are "Electropet" which plays a somewhat chamber music melody with clean sine tones before launching off in a fuzzy electro groove with an arpeggio progression that's reminiscent of Aphex Twin's "Polynomial C".

We are then sent off on a deep and soothing journey on a lake of flowing synths and subtle beats with "Efni" and from the ethereal vocals and the moving church like organ keys and strings of "Dab60" the beauty just keeps coming.

This is already a contender for best album of 2011 and means that Tomtom records are certainly a label to keep a close eye on.

Monday, January 31, 2011

John Barry Remembered

Sadly my very first blog of 2011 is due to the death of composer John Barry, who sadly passed away from a heart attack on the 30th of January. Barry's music was a true inspiration to many electronica producers. Paul Hartnoll of Orbital regularly cites Barry as a musical hero.

One of my earliest musical memories was watching Goldfinger on TV for the very first time when I was a child, yes I enjoyed the movie but it was the music that truly blew me away. I had just barely grown out of nursery rhymes but that was the effect Barry's unmistakable and otherworldly emotive themes had on me.

The very first piece of vinyl I owned was "The James Bond 10th anniversary Collection" covering a selection of key points from "Dr No" through to "Diamonds Are Forever" which was a ninth birthday present from my parents, a start to my Barry Obsession and a music obsession in general..

With a massive score writing credit for a diverse range of movies and from working with contemporary greats like Louis Armstrong, Shirley Bassey to mainstream pop acts like A-ha and Duran Duran. Barry was a composer who wasn't afraid to mix things up, from using experimental synth tones on Her Majesty's secret service and combining genres like jazz, country and military in one composition was child's play for Barry.

While most music scored for film only really works within the context of the movie, Barry's music can stand alone Just like any piece of classical,rock or pop and it can act as the soundtrack to the movies in your mind or even your own life.

Barry recently spoke out about his peers In an interview with The Guardian, the four-times Oscar winner said, "[The composers] have nothing to say. They are just messing around with notes. I'm at a loss." He also told The Guardian, "I walk out of the cinema bewildered these days. I think, what was the producer or director thinking of to allow 45 minutes or an hour of music that doesn't mean a damn thing? Today it's very empty.

It is a sad loss for the movie and music world because we all know Barry was a one off, as he pretty much redefined the movie and TV scores through the 1960's, yet he never ran out of appeal or emotive creativity through the years and decades that followed.

I doubt another composer will ever match the thrilling emotive and sexy brilliance of Barry but there is one consolation, I still haven't heard all of his works yet so I have many more wide screen journeys to take with him and many familiar timeless epics I can return to again and again.