Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bowery Electric - Beat

Label: Kranky
Released: 1996
Style: Abstract, Experimental

"Back in the mid 90s it seemed almost impossible to escape from the break beat. From hip hop to trip hop to rave and then into seemingly every other style on the planet the sampled break was filtering its way into music everywhere, even the humble post rock genre. Bowery Electric were a US post rock act but interestingly had a strong leaning towards hip hop production and most obviously the beats which gave them a sound like no other act around. With the noisy harmonic guitar textures of Windy and Carl or My Bloody Valentine and the sort of half-tempo beat loops you'd more likely expect to find on DJ Shadow's 'Endtroducing' they helped the genre take a sharp left turn and with 'Beat' created something of a milestone for the scene. Championed by everyone from The Wire to The Melody Maker of all people 'Beat' was a much more influential record than you'd think, and hearing it now over ten years later I can make pretty clear links between this album and for instance the work of Ulrich Schnauss or M83. You see a shoegaze/electronic crossover had already been approached by Bowery Electric, they just maybe never achieved the sort of popularity they deserved - but listen to 'Empty Words' and you'll see exactly what I mean. With bendy, echoing guitar chords and vocals to rival the haunting tones of even Julee Cruise this is a record that stays with you long after it has ended, and if you've never heard it you should take a listen without delay. An essential part of the Kranky catalogue!" - Boomkat


1 Beat (7:16)
2 Empty Words (3:45)
3 Without Stopping (5:13)
4 Under The Sun (3:32)
5 Fear Of Flying (5:39)
6 Looped (2:39)
7 Black Light (6:53)
8 Inside Out (7:19)
9 Coming Down (4:38)
10 Postscript (16:41)


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lawrence English - Kiri No Oto

Label: Touch
Released: 2008
Style: Abstract, Field Recording, Ambient

"The Japanese phrase 'Kiri No Oto' loosely translates to the 'sound of fog' or 'sound of mist'. In many ways it's a collection that meditates on the sense of displacement and distortion that occurs in environments which undergo extreme mists, snowstorms and sea sprays. In the same way that visual objects loose their perspective, form and shape in these environments, the sound components that make up Kiri No Oto are not quite as they first might appear. Utilising a range of divergent mixing techniques, analog filtering and 'harmonic' distortion, Kiri No Oto offers an expansive sound space in which the listener must choose to position themselves. Focus, like that in a fog, is in a constant state of flux as elements are brought into and out of perspective. The first in a series of records employing this technique, Kiri No Oto explores the richness in the frequencies that are usually associated with extremes of volume and through this process the recordings position 'the ear' itself as 'another layer of auditory fog' as it begins to distort and alter the sounds it comes in contact with." - Label


1 Organs Lost At Sea (4:42)
2 Soft Fuse (6:52)
3 White Spray (5:08)
4 Waves Sheer Light (5:23)
5 Commentary (4:30)
6 Allay (5:21)
7 Figure's Lone Static (7:26)
8 Oamura (3:49)


Thursday, July 17, 2008

808 State - Quadrastate

Label: Rephlex
Released: 2008
Style: Acid House

"My word it's so good to hear this album again. Seems like a lifetime ago, but once upon a time 808 State had a top 10 hit with "Pacific State", a track that would spawn a million imitators and more or less define the whole Acid House scene that was slowly inventing itself back in 88/89. Anyway, "Pacific State" opens this classic album and instantly takes you back to those heady days just after the second Summer of Love. The band's rare debut single, "Let Yourself Go / Deepville is included here, together with some other previously-unreleased alternate versions and outtakes. Its the first time ever that the tracks have been released on CD and the entire project has been lovingly remastered, to the customary Rephlex high standards. An absolute classic." - Boomkat


1 Pacific State (6:28)
2 106 (0:43)
3 State Ritual (6:09)
4 Disco State (5:12)
5 Fire Cracker (4:51)
6 State To State (5:45)
7 Let Yourself Go (303 Mix) (6:03)
8 Deepville (7:26)
9 808 State vs. Zenarchy - Got It Huh (4:18)
10 Techclock (2:17)
11 In Yolk (6:56)
12 State Ritual Scam (6:00)
13 Let Yourself Go (D50 Mix) (4:50)


Benoît Pioulard - Précis

Label: Kranky
Released: 2006
Style: Abstract, Experimental, Neofolk

"A multi-instrumentalist with an insatiable palette, Pioulard bases most of his songs on treated acoustic guitars and honeyed vocals, backed by carefully layered bells, bass, dulcimer, old tape samples, field recordings and myriad other sources. These sounds, though sculpted roughly into pop songs, have their own delicate patterns of ebb and flow, distortion and disappearance. From the sunny refrain of "Triggering Back" to the descent of nighttime chills on "Needle & Thread", Precis sighs in time with the seasons. It's an album about him, her, and you; it's an exaltation of the ways these things end." - Label


1 La Guerre De Sept Ans (3:08)
2 Together & Down (3:08)
3 Ext. Leslie Park (2:42)
4 Triggering Back (2:30)
5 Moth Wings (1:16)
6 Alan & Dawn (2:51)
7 Corpus Chant (1:43)
8 Palimend (3:04)
9 Coup De Foudre (1:31)
10 Hirondelle (2:22)
11 Needle & Thread (2:42)
12 R Coloring (0:40)
13 Sous La Plage (2:59)
14 Patter (2:58)
15 Ash Into The Sky (3:18)


Friday, July 11, 2008

Gel-Sol - Unifactor

Label: Upstairs Recordings
Released: 2007
Style: Downtempo, Experimental, Ambient

"The artwork of Seattle transplant Gel-Sol’s recent album depicts a visualisation of sound in nature. Fittingly, you might describe Unifactor as an aural picture of life itself. Trippy, eh? “Open Her” sets the tone with a plunderphonic lesson in today’s technologically obsessed culture. Coming down like an after school special getting war-torn youth accustomed to air raids and tactical training through the town square, the album comes off too cheeky to be preachy. Take it from Star Trek’s Bones: “Look at those poor creatures, they’ve been blasted into oblivion!” “Propulsion” is an updated take on Floyd’s “On the Run,” sewing sampled snippets from media broadcasts through the audacious blipping of the psychedelic landmark, revamped with killer breaks. “On a Clear Night You Can Still See The Answer” implies that dub is the secret, with the traditionally syncopated guitar that barely clips the horizon for just a moment around midnight. “Slowjob” is the kicker, though, where a soothing feminine voice prepares the listener for hypnotisation, counting down to one and anticipated calm. The listener naturally expects a deep sonic montage to ensue, and boy does it ever. Clever enough for some to miss, stupid enough to really satisfy." - Exclaim Magazine


1 Open Her (3:37)
2 Brontosaur Yu (6:48)
3 Propulsion (4:55)
4 On A Clear Night You Can See The Answer (7:25)
5 Slowjob (6:49)
6 Cool Sweet Awesome Yay! (5:57)
7 3c273 (4:00)
8 Mother Never Known (6:59)
9 Ohne Schläge (5:16)
10 Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy (7:26)
11 Unifactor (8:15)


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