Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Originally released as part of a limited CD compilation to help promote an electro club night in Dublin called "Neuromantek" the CD also featured tracks from Decal, Skkatter and many more Irish producers..
My concept behind the track at the time was to juxtaposition traditional electro/dance themes amongst a sombre or melancholic atmosphere, so if the sample "Check This Out" seems somewhat out of place, it is meant to be a metaphor for how lonely people can be while out clubbing etc : )
Sunday, March 4, 2012
From the early nineties I dreamed of producing my own electronic music after hearing that acts like LFO, Orbital etc had produced much of their work from small bedroom studios. After much investigation in to the equipment they used, I realised that it would not be so cheap to obtain the equipment needed, at this time analogue synths were still the only way to create these sounds as digital synthesis seemed to be for experienced programmers.
It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that a new breed of digital kit started to emerge, gone were the unfathomable interfaces of the DX7 and the mega expensive sampling workstations like the Fairlight. Companies like Roland started to realise that musicians wanted the ease of use that analogue kit gave, plenty of knobs for instant real-time manipulation and control.
One piece of kit caught my eye, The Roland MC303, my understanding at the time was that this machine was part bass line emulator of Roland’s classic TB303 acid box and their famous 909 and 808 drum machines. The price seemed reasonable, I thought great! I can learn how to program drums and play basslines etc and eventually progress to another synth for more sounds but when I got it home I discovered it had much more, Piano’s, Strings, Pads, Leads, FX and an eight track sequencer!!
Out of the box and with a few days of getting to grips with its basics the MC303 was an instant dance music machine with some obvious trance/dance preset sounds and sequences, but if you dug a little deeper and avoided the presets other styles were possible.
Listening back I still get that sense of creative innocence within the compositions and production, maybe that was due to the MC303's limitations or my new found artistic endeavours? but I feel I its appropriate to pay respect to the little grey box that paved the way for many more budding producers in the mid to late nineties.
Friday, March 2, 2012
In September 2011 the Icelandic based Moller records released Skurkens Debut album "Gilsbakki", after the first listen I was yet again left speechless by Iceland's electronic music output.
Skurken AKA Jóhann Ómarsson is also one half of Sk/um along with Þorsteinn Konráð Ólafsson AKA Prince Valium who released the beautiful "I Þágu Fallsins" album back in 2003.
Some of the many highlights from "Gilsbakki" include:
The opener "Romer" is a rather melancholic piano composition that sits tastefully with some minimal downtempo electronic grooves and the addition of some very emotive chord changes gives you a sense of the beautiful environment which it was created in.
"Rafting" follows up wonderfully as it continues to wrap you in comforting warm keys, some electro like drum and bass grooves kick in and a melodic growling bassline gives the track some solid presence, again plenty of changes in key and infectious melodic bliss displays Johann's heartfelt compositional skills.
"Dircuits" effortlessly blends IDM beats dark vibes, guitar with melodic acidic lines, almost sounding like Plaid jamming with French easy listening duo
Air. Next we have the beautiful but short fantasy piece "Welschmerz sumar" which certainly wouldn’t sound of place on the Donny Darko soundrack or the latest Tim Burton epic.
"Kannaski" introduces a haunting soundscape with poly rhythmic grooves which transform into more acidic loveliness and smooth key lines, the introduction of some strumming guitar chords adds an emotive folk feel and then we are taken away on layers of heavenly synth arps, possibly the finest moment on the album ?
"Bistisbo" is another beauty with its comforting lullaby vibes and soaring strings and rather low slung bass mixed with some Boards Of Canada influences. Track eleven "Utvortis" is another contender for the best track on the album, which mixes a beautiful cello section and warm melodic electronics along with what sounds like R2D2 conversing in the background.
The final track "Uppaslir" leaves us with an epic uplifting futuristic ambient vibe with an almost Vangelis meets BOC feel.
Over all the album has an incredible sense of emotion which at times is very melancholic and uplifting and there's enough diversity and experimentalism to keep the hardcore IDM fans happy, while there are plenty of moments where many of his influences are clearly evident from AFX to orbital etc, but "Gilsbakki " never loses its strong sonic identity.
Essential listening for fans of Plaid, Aphex Twin, Kettel etc..