This week’s capsule of Synthesizer Zen, to carry you into the weekend, comes from a look at the ARP Quadra.
Video courtesy of YouTube user ParzivalsEye.
MiGHty mOUse – Discolife Episode 1 = Well, after Monday’s jaw dropping announcement/rant/suicide we said we’d still be serving up mixtapes from time to time, and what better way to hold true to that than the first in a (hopefully) long new sequence from the man MiGHty mOUse. The premiére episode of the aptly named Discolife series is an ecclectic, but consistently funky hour and a half (almost) that’s absolutely perfect for setting up your weekend. Y’know, the one that starts right……………now.
01. Pink Murder – Fresh & Made (Demi Re-Edit)
02. Arling & Cameron – Club Fashion
03. David Shaw & The Beat (Feat. Jennifer Cardini) – In The Ballroom
04. Shura – White Light (Gabe Guernsey Factory Floor reMix)
05. Pedestrian (Feat. Maribou State) – The Clown (Axel Bowman reMix)
06. Inaky Garcia & Alfredo Magrini – Destination (Afro Club Mix)
07. Groove Junkies & Solara – Sunshine (Timmy Vegas Paradise Mix)
08. Tigerbalm – The 80s (Oscar P reMix)
09. Deadbeat – Berghain Drum Jack (2015 Edit)
10. The Housemaster Boyz – House Nation (Club Mix)
11. M.Caporale – Dune (Original Mix)
12. DJ T.I.C, Koncrete & DJ Oats – Dhumba (Main Mix)
13. Groove Armada – Paris (Andhim reMix)
14. Bicep – Just (Original Mix)
15. Felipe Gordon – Galactico
16. Terranova – Kepler 186F (Original Mix)
17. Gardens Of God – Zulu (Original Mix)
18. Nicolas Alisferi – Across The Universe (Original Mix)
19. Slam Dunk’d – No Price (Robosonic ‘Disco Break’ reMix)
20. Pariah – Railroad (Original Mix)
21. Floating Points – K&G Beat (Original Mix)
MiGHty mOUse’s current single, Dusk, is out now.
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When last we checked Liskka were an all girl trio, now we’re not so sure. Formed from the ashes of Boy/Girl swirly Indie-Electro outfit Happy Hunting, Jana Tyrell enlisted Susie Wedderburn and Hannah Ashman to form her new group, launching with the effervescent As It Goes (I Give). Now, however, it appears that Liskka are, well, a Boy/Girl Indie-Electro outfit (again). The giveaways being copious amounts of male vocals on the new tracks and a Mr. Rick David listed as Jana’s other band member. Anyway, whatever the make up of Jana Tyrell’s band of troubadours; Liskka have just released their début proper EP via Pink Bird Records, a five track affair loaded with experimental Popisms and a wealth of influences.
You’ll find As It Goes (I Give) squeezed onto the end of the EP, a cacophonous Future R&B track wrapped in Chillwave duvet. Eclectic percussion meeting girl harmonies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. As with most of the EP, the track battles with chaos and brings the charm out of the noise; at once alarming and enchanting, the track kinda’ gets under your skin.
Of the new tunes present Cold really stood out for us on the EP, a symphony of broken samples, reverb washed chords and ethereal vocals. Still keeping an R&B swing, but pushing it to it’s most unrecognizable limits as Liskka’s sonic experimentalism layer the organic with the synthetic to haunting effect. The enigmatic arrangement and obscure instrumentation made human by Jana’s versatile voice. Far From Us is more traditionally Shoegaze, a tad to guitary for our tastes and features male vocals prominently; as does the EP’s opener Night Terrors, a perfectly pleasant IndiePop anthem but we do feel Liskka works best with an intangible female voice at the fore.
The self-titled EP’s remaining track, Ghost In The Machine, certainly delivered on everything we love about Liskka and was the other stand out new track in our humble opinion. Building it’s own majesty on an multiform swing groove and a mystical sound pallet. Switching things up a little, Liskka play around with breakbeats and fuller synths as the song builds, resulting in the most powerful track on the EP. Disjointed and dissonant elements coming together in Liskka’s talented hands to create a beautiful whole. Which is much like Liskka in general actually, and the EP in total. Sometimes it doesn’t work, more often it does; and when it does it delivers something truly captivating.
♫ Liskka – Ghost In The Machine
♫ Liskka – Cold
♫ Liskka – As It Goes (I Give)
Liskka’ Liskka EP is out now.
Buy Liskka’s music from:
2013’s Different Sides Of The Sun, by robotic House supergroup Hot Natured is still one of our favourite albums of the decade so far. The outfit, consisting of London SynthPop turned synthetic House master Ali Love, Chicago DJ superstar Lee Foss, Wales’ fines Jamie Jones and Cazals’ Luca C delivered an instant classic in their début full length record. Sounding unlike anything else around at the time, the album grabbed house and took it down a decidedly 80s Electro alleyway for a good seeing to. Ali Love’s futuristic, Sci-Fi themed vocal performances, paired with a host of quality guests, and an array of stripped down & groovy, analog dance tracks made Different Sides Of The Sun something both compelling and unique. It’s an album that still in heavy rotation round these parts.
It’s been eighteen months since the last new tune from this foursome. We’ve had reMix singles in the meantime (including the amazing Luxry mix of Benediction) but new in terms of original track. Well the wait was finally over with the announcement of Off World Lover. The single is due out in September, as a prelude to the group’s sophomore album that is slated for a 2016 release and will feature a remix from Bristolian producer Will Clarke.
Appropriately released on Jones and Foss’s Emerald City label, Off World Lover continues deeper along their visionary House journey. From a title that brings BladeRunner to mind, to Ali’s interplanetary lyrics, to the otherworldly lead lines this is definitely SynthPop and House music for futurists.
Hot Natured have this knack of making raw, analog sounds sound rich and full. Like most Hot Natured tunes, Off World Lover is quite minimal in it’s arrangement, but never feels like it. In lesser producers hands this synthetic orchestra might sound lacking, but these four maestros can eschew flashy, cheap, modern production tricks and still sound as bombastic as any of today’s big, overproduced, dance tunes. With a growling, rumbling bass undulating over a skippy House beat the foundations are laid for this galactic opus. Synthesizers bleep, sounding like the alerts of a spaceship’s computer while electronic strings zip past like starlight and an otherworldly hook plays in the distance like a half-heard Theremin. Over this Ali’s passionately delivers his long-distance lament, calling out between the planets to his long lost love. Howe Hot Natured manage to sound like this, and never once stop being unbelievably funky is a mystery. But they do, and we’re all thankful for that.
♫ Hot Natured – Off World Lover
Hot Natured’s Off World Lover is released 18th September.
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We reckon you’d all know London based producer and all-round nice guy Ben Macklin by now. Not only one half of the UK’s answer to Chromeo, Cassette Club, but label boss and particularly talented producer in his own solo right too. Ben delivers the sound of the summer each and every time with warm, laid back tunes that draw on the wealth of Disco, House, SynthWave and SynthPop. Ben’s tune are just…nice. we’re not sure of there’s a better word to describe them, like a sunshiney afternoon spent with good friends and good drinks, for four minutes a Ben Macklin production can make you forget your worries and let you sink into the comfortable groove.
The man is pretty prolific these days, even if there isn’t nearly as much new Cassette Club material as we would like going around. Regular releases have been coming out on his Modal label over the past year and a half or so. Barely a month goes by without a new single and, surprisingly these days, this hasn’t for a second translated into a drop in quality. Take his latest offering, Think Of Me. The track’s release has been perfectly timed to coincide with a break in the UK’s bizarre gloomy mid-summer period and as we write this piece the sun is blazing down and Ben’s new single is the perfect soundtrack. The release sees him once again teaming up with fellow Londoner Emma Brammer (of Dare and It’s Over fame) on vocal duties who’s smoky croon lends an air of enigma to the track.
For such a cosy tune, the bassline in Think Of Me is pretty spikey. A razor sharp digital Funk bass that would impose a robotic dominance over any other track, but Macklin tempers it with washes of glowing and intimate tones that breeze between lush pads and starlight chimes, all rolling over a solid, but unobtrusive House beat. Leading the way on Think Of Me is a soothing electric piano hook and Emma’s enticing vocal. As Ben peppers her voice with the occasional Dub-like effect to weave it in and out of the tune, Emma’s slightly melancholic holiday daydreaming carries you away as much as any element of the music. In the car, in the headphone, on the boombox, DJ’ed by the pool; this one should be enjoyed in the outdoors in good company.
If Think Of Me makes you want to relax in the sunshine, then AIMES stellar reMix of the track will have you heading straight to the dancefloor. injecting the tune with a little Boogie, a little Italo and a little vintage Disco; one of Brooklyn’s finest, AIMES, hits the end of those big snare rolls running with orchestral stabs and the unrelenting machine Funk of the reMixes’ machine gun bassline. Mid-way point the reMix explodes in a symphony of strings and intertwining synth lines, all perfectly crafted to keep the dancefloor energy at it’s highest. Hold tight for the killer synth solo! Likewise, German synthesizer head Final DJs (‘Final DJ’ goddamnit!) delivers a densely layered electronic odyssey.
♫ Ben Macklin (Feat. Emma Brammer) – Think Of Me
♫ Ben Macklin (Feat. Emma Brammer) – Think Of Me (AIMES reMix)
♫ Ben Macklin (Feat. Emma Brammer) – Think Of Me (Final DJs reMix)
Ben Macklin’s Think Of Me is out now.
Buy Ben Macklin’s music from:
Picture of me ‘cos this is just me talking now…
I don’t know what the point of writing this post is. To the casual reader there isn’t going to be that much difference in their visits to electronic rumors; but for me it’s big change.
I’ve been feeling (increasingly, but a lot of the past couple of years) that the site has strayed so far away from what I wanted to do when I started ER almost seven years ago, to be honest I’m not sure it ever was what I wanted it to be, and I need to do something about it before I just want to call it quits entirely.
People have been writing about music on the internet since…well, the internet; but when I started electronic rumors music blogging (as opposed to blogging about music) was a relatively new ‘thing’. Written by passionate music fans who felt the need to express themselves and enthuse about the sounds they loved, new or old; rarely was music sent to them by PR people, only occasionally by musicians or labels themselves and never ever by majors. They would spend their days hunting down new music (not necessarily to blog about, but because it’s what they did anyway) or re-discovering old favourites and expressing to the world about what was exciting them at the time. That artist got a tiny bit of free promotion was a happy side-effect, there was a fire in these writers belly that compelled them to talk about music. These were music nerds. These were fanzine writers before the internet (as was I for years). These were band obsessives. And through these people I discovered an outlet for my own mania.
There was, briefly, a golden age of music blogs. A scene had formed of ardent writers. Music blogs were always well worth a read (yes, read!) whether the author was writing about their latest discovery or a classic album, their favourite band’s new single or an obscure nostalgic gem. These are the blogs that inspired me to start writing (also, it was either that or continue to bore my mates down the pub about whatever new music I had come across that week). These are the blogs I wanted to be like. Shamefully I have never achieved that ideal.
If you’ve ever read any interviews with me on music blogging you’ll probably know I’m weirdly self-hating about music blogs in general. Perhaps disappointed that I never achieved what I set out to I hold everyone to the standard to which I held (and failed) myself. Which is pretty self centred of me; but let’s face it, a lot of music blogs are utter shit. Posting music with no commentary at all, or posting music with the barest of sentences about release date and who the track is by, or just setting up an IFTTT recipe to automatically post any track you favourite on SoundCloud to a Blogger blog and calling yourself a ‘Music Blogger’…I mean, really, what’s the point of any of them? What do they really add to musical discussion? Just curate a playlist on Spotify and be done with it!
I think the slippery slope from passionate and articulate music fans shouting into the void about their audio loves to “look at me, I post SoundCloud links and that makes me part of the music industry!” began with HypeMachine, particularly their (now rescinded) policy of only featuring the first blog to post a particular track on their homepage. This fostered an atmosphere of competition in the music blog world. Those petty blogs that concerned themselves with traffic (often to bolster their meagre advertising earnings) had to be the first to post a new track or they could kiss their traffic goodbye. Obviously this meant people began posting without taking the time to comment on the music, without taking the time to offer their opinion and in extreme cases without taking the time to actually listen to the music. No time to listed and absorb, it was all about being first.
And those that were first got the traffic, which meant they could start talking about premières (which make for more ‘firsts’) which meant that other bands wanted premières on the site that X band was on, which meant that music PR now had a free way to accommodate the bands who paid them. And thus, the music blogging industry was born.
I’ve long been of the opinion that the main audience for music blogs is other music blogs, along with bands and PR people. I have never met a person in real life who used HypeMachine, and very rarely meet anyone who reads music blogs (who isn’t in a band or a producer).
PR people love blogs because it’s free coverage for the artists who pay them. Premières make bands especially happy for the bragging rights. Bands, musicians and producers love blogs because it’s coverage they can talk about, premières can be particularly boasted about. Blogs love PR people and bands because they get free music from them and, when they are courted for coverage, they get to feel special (more-so if it’s a band the are a fan of) and feel like they are part of the music industry, an insider. It’s intoxicating. So this little circle of everyone making each other happy forms, blissfully unaware that what they are doing has most likely next to zero affect on the consciousness of the general public, even music fans in general, or anyone outside of the circle.
Before anyone indignantly comments; yes, obviously there are exceptions. There are blogs (mostly not like the ones I am talking about) who do have influence on radio programmers, and promoters, and can do real good. And artists who have really benefited from blog coverage (Little Boots and Ellie Goulding spring to mind, but not really anyone new for a long time), but there rare cases where the right artists, the right writers and the right people paying attention just happen to be in the same place at the same time. That’s not how it works out for most people.
Don’t even get me started on blogs who end up posting laughably un-researched gossip rather than music. Seriously, what are they for?
And in amongst all this sycophancy, throwaway posts, fast moving updates, and premières the passion for music has been lost amongst the self-importance and bragging rights.
Not by everyone of course. There are still those pillars of music blog integrity that don’t play the game and still compose posts with passion and humour. Breaking More Waves springs to mind. Robin has been a constant inspiration to me in terms of his writing considered pieces and not caring what anyone else is blogging about. He, and a handful of other ‘good guys and gals’ have kept the spirit of music blogging alive; but they are the exception, not the rule.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a go any anybody without having a go at myself. For one reason or another; insecurity (“I want to be relevant too!”), hubris (“I’m an important part of the music industry!”), obligation (“I’ve made a lot of good friends of artists I have featured, I don’t want to let them down!”) or whatever other reason, I am as guilty as the worst of them (well, maybe not the worst, I have always at least tried to write something considered, even if I am a shit writer who is strapped for time), but at least I’ve largely always acknowledged how shit the whole circumstance was.
Returning to the point of this post. This has to stop. It doesn’t make me happy.
What makes me happy is writing about music that excites me.
Not being a news outlet.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
Essentially it’s going to boil down to ‘write more, post less’. Currently, and shamefully to me, the thought process is to write about everything I hear that I really like. A catalogue of music I dig. Sometimes, though, I can like a track sooooo hard, but just struggle to find the words to write about it.
From now on I’m only writing about music that seriously compels me to hit the keyboard, music I can’t help but say some words about. Music I actually have some words to say about. Rarely will I post a track on the day it’s released (unless I’ve had a promo copy in advance) as I’m going to want to spend more time with the music I write about; to gather my thoughts. It might not even be new music at all, I might be listening to an album from decades ago, or from earlier in the year, and just want to say something about it.
I want to be like the music sites that inspired me in the first place.
Those who know me know that this has been a long time coming.
I’m sure this is going to piss a few people off, and for that I’m sorry. I know there are artists out there that rely on electronic rumors for coverage and there may be times that I’m just not that outlet anymore (there may also be times that I still am that outlet; depending on the track, my mood, my schedule etc…), there’s even PR people who know they can come to me for coverage, and that may not always be the case moving forward. There may even be readers who come to the site for certain genres latest releases, and I’m sorry if we’re not always up-to-date in the future but hopefully the posts themselves will be a more satisfactory read.
In the end, I’m not happy with the site, so I’m changing it. If you don’t like it you can fuck off (or start paying me) ‘cos its my site.
The label side of electronic rumors will be unaffected by this shift in attitude, except maybe I’ll have more time to devote to it (and possibly get less coverage from music blogs after this post….).
So that’s that then. You know what music I like, if you’re into it keep coming back for more of my bullshit…but about less music…but more choice music maybe.
Sweet Raptor Jesus, do you remember when I was posting, like, ten posts a day! What a twat!
See you tomorrow for a post about some music I like.
MUSIC BLOGS ARE DEAD! LONG LIVE MUSIC BLOGS!
P.S. Synthesizer Zen isn’t going anywhere.
P.P.S. I might still throw up quick Video and Mixtape posts occasionally. Haven’t decided yet.
–Update— Not really an ‘update’ update as I’m posting this at the same time, but I wrote this on Saturday and over the weekend showed a draft post to a few select artists, PR people and bloggers. Interestingly, in private, every single one of the agreed with me 100%, and supported both my decision to change attitude and my decision to say this publically (which I was a little worried about). Thanks guys!
Whoop! It’s the second new tune, following Leave A Trace, from universal ElectroPop overlords Chvrches forthcoming sophomore album Every Eye Open. We’re fast approaching the mid-September release date and so expecting to hear one or two more new tracks int eh coming weeks. this new one, Never Ending Circles, does even more to dispel our fears of a synthesizer abandonment as the Glaswegian trio go stratospheric with three minutes of chirpy SynthPop.
Revolving around a brittle and piercing hook, Never Ending Circles is a resonant, emotional anthem in that particularly spikey Chvrches vein. Robotic tribal percussion rolls over a solid kick to clear the path for those Scottish crisp clean keys and Lauren’s multi layered, modulated backing vocals; on top of which she belts out another spine-tingling lament. Roll on September 25th!
♫ Chvrches – Never Ending Circles
Chvrches’ second album Every Open Eye is released 25th September.
Buy Chvrches’ music from:
Awesome Canadian experimental Pop outfit Vogue Dots do like a good song with ‘way’ in the title, eh? Following on from their shockingly good single for Cascine’s CSCN single imprint, Way Out they are continuing along their…way…with this luscious new release, Way With Silence. It’s a gloriously rich and emotive slice of smokey SynthPop. There’s a video for the track too! Check it out here for the first time (premiére stylee) below.
Jon Eisener steps up for directing duties on this clip; a clam and still video that really should be boring, but somehow draws you in with a restrained beauty that seems to curl around the song like the smoke it is very very full of.
Vouge Dots are on the tours; see them at the venues:
Aug 15 – LONDON – The Waiting Room
Aug 16 – BRIGHTON – Green Door Store
Aug 19 – LONDON – Bedroom Bar
Aug 20 – BOURNEMOUTH – 60 Million Postcards
Aug 21 – SHEFFIELD – Picture House Social
Aug 26 – BERLIN – Berghain / Panorama Bar
Aug 27 – BERLIN – Berghain / Panorama Bar
Vogue Dots’ Way With Silence is out now.
Buy Vogue Dots’ music from:
Ronika – HEY ME… This One’s For You Mixtape = Ron can be super selfish. She’s gone and made a mixtape just for herself without a though for whether we would like a mixtape too. What make it worse is the she likes all the same music as us, just look at the tracklist she’s put together for herself. We wish we had a mixtape like that to carry us into the weekend…
♫ Ronika – HEY ME… This One’s For You Mixtape
01. Krystal Klear – One Night Only
02. Toby Tobias – In Your Eyes (Tensnake reMix)
03. Alex Metric & Oliver – Galaxy
04. Portland – Deezy Daisy (Oliver Nelson RMX)
05. Gigamesh – Don’t Stop
06. PWNDTIAC – Ready
07. Charli XCX – Boom Clap (Aeroplane reMix)
08. Alison Valentine – Curious
09. Neptune Safari (Feat. Clara La San) – Morning Sun (Funk LeBlanc reMix)
10. MiGHty mOUse (Feat. Ronika) – See Through You
11. Julio Bashmore – Rhythm Of Auld
12. BB Brunes – Stereo (Jupiter reMix)
13. Justin Faust – Girl Talk
14. DropOut Orchestra (Feat. Ronika) – Dream Denial (Husky reMix)
15. Lucy Pearl – Don’t Mess With My Man (Le Marquis Mix)
16. James Curd (Feat.Yeah Boy) – Lets Bounce (Miguel Campbel Mix)
17. Glen Check – Pacific (Justin Faust reMix)
Buy Ronika’s music from: