A favorite thing of mine to do when listening to albums is to mentally track along with the drums, often using my steering wheel as a makeshift snare and hi-hat and the gas pedal as my bass (my ‘94 Accord goes). Being the cockmaster that I am, I generally believe I can play along to most songs I listen to; the reality is I rarely get around to doing it, and when I do, I’m hilariously out of time and out of my element. It’s one thing to listen to a song and think you could jam along with it, or perhaps get inspired and, you know, do something worthwhile with your creativity. It’s an altogether different beast, though, to actually go out and act on those influences, to create something fresh that pays homage to your favorites yet isn’t controlled by them, and then put it out for the world to see. Maybe they laugh at it (my drumming), hopefully they groove to it. That’s the difference between electronic artist Depth Connection and myself – I’m content to be the driver’s seat Neil Peart; Depth Connection just released a badass EP that takes hints from Tycho, Lone, and a number of other artists to create a quietly gorgeous amalgam of live studio sounds and finely textured electronic beats.
The brainchild of Colorado native Tanner Lichty aka Sputnik user twlichty(ex-Solterra), Depth Connection describes itself as “a collage of unfamiliar yet…
We get a lot of e-mail sent to our Sputnik G-Mail account and most of it is crap. It seems that most of it is spam, sales pitches and random links meant to ‘enhance’ your computer, but it is worth sifting through because we also get a lot of cool promos and even occasionally unheard gems such as this. The artist is named Miriam Bryant this is her first single, ‘Finders Keepers’. It’s a strange mix of piano melodies, electronics, subtle orchestral elements, programmed beats and the strong vocals of Miriam herself. Her bio says that she is twenty-one, English born and Swedish raised. Let’s hope that this isn’t the last we hear from her. With childhood friend Victor Rådström, 20, writer & producer, Miriam is now releasing her debut single, ‘Finders, Keepers’.
A couple of weeks ago Sputnikmusic’s own Ryan Flatleyinterviewed DJ Pretty Lights in preparation for his performance this upcoming weekend at the massive NYC dance festival Electric Zoo. Headlining that festival is Dutch trance DJ/producer/radio show host Armin van Buuren, who’s gearing up for his fourth album release in September by playing nearly nonstop this past year. And when DJ Magazine has voted you the #1 DJ in the world for three straight years, gigs aren’t exactly in short supply. We were lucky enough to catch up with Armin before his headlining appearance at the UK’s definitive dance festival Creamfields this past weekend.
Rudy Klapper: Being the number one DJ in the world is a pretty demanding job, particularly when you’ve been voted the best multiple years as you have. How has 2010 been turning out so far as you gear up for your album release?
Armin van Buuren: Well, it’s been really, really phenomenal. I thought last year was sort of the peak for myself but this year I’m releasing my new album, I’ve been doing a little less DJing in general because I want to focus on that. But I still toured South America and North America, some stuff in Asia. But yeah, in the summer though I’ve just been full on doing a gig almost every day and it’s been really fantastic. Now I have 21 new tracks finished and I’m very proud.
Congratulations are in order, then – after a cracking game with Uruguay, Germany have finished third! And they completely deserve it, too.
As a direct follow-on from my little rant about the 2006 World Cup in yesterday’s blog, one of the things Italy’s success at that tournament proved is that you can win the competition without being the best team. Now, I’m not saying that’s the case in 2010 (Spain, of course, beat Germany when it really matters) but after their simply sublime 4-1 and 4-0 maulings of two of the pre-tournament favourites, Germany could certainly make a very, very strong case for having been the best team here. Certainly they’ve been the best to watch, with their extreme youth (experienced old head Bastian Schweinsteiger is only 26) adding a great dollop of fizz and adventure to their finely-tuned, well organized, hard-working tactics. Indeed, a full set of World Cup Oscars would almost certainly favour Germany more than anybody – Joachin Loew for best manager and best dressed, Phillip Lahm for best eyebrows, Hans-Jorge Butt for most childishly amusing surname (shared with Waldo Ponce), Thomas Mueller for best young player, and Mezut Ozil for both biggest revelation and greatest lookalike. Honestly, just look at the range of things this man looks like.
I spent far too long working on that.
Where to start with German music, then? How do you even begin to approach such a vast, famous, dominant entity? How do you narrow down a possible…
It’s one of the more overlooked international rivalries in football, but Slovakians must have been absolutely delighted with the way the European qualifying went for this World Cup. Ever since Czechoslovakia split into two nations, the newly-formed Czech Republic have left their new neighbours in the dust in footballing terms – in fact, they were the defeated finalists in their first ever major tournament, in 1996. Yet, in 2010, it was Slovakia themselves, with a little bit of help from Slovenia, that stopped the Czechs from appearing. The two countries remain closely related collaborators in political terms, but regardless, it must have been sweet. In a group that kicked off with two draws and thus remains wide open, they may yet do even better, even if their star player is terrified of his own tattoos.
He also looks a little bit like the chestburster from Alien. Just saying.
Slovakia’s most common contributions to the record collections of music obsessives in America have tended to be progressive rock acts of various description, and while special mention should be given to the jazz fusion of Fermáta, the name that crops up more than any other is Marián Varga. As a solo artist, in collaboration with Pavol Hammel, and as a member of Prúdy and Collegium Musicum, his is a legacy that reverberates throughout Slovakia’s prog rock and art rock movements. Here’s Collegium Musicum, a band whose catalogue is largely built on instrumental rock arrangements of classical pieces, wih a spot of…
I would imagine that of the few of you following this blog intently, most will have been looking forward to this entry more than any other. There is a serious fascination in the Western world when it comes to Japan, to the point where it borders on fetishism – we even have specific derogatory terms for people who are obsessed with anything and everything Japanese. Music may not quite command the same fanbase that anime does, or computer games do, but you still don’t need to look very far to find an excited fan of Dir en Grey, or Mad Capsule Markets, or Nobuo Uematsu.
Oh yeah, here’s a footballer too.
Japan’s national character suffered a little when Western music crossed the Pacific and took over, which is a real shame; the nation’s folk and classical forms are documented as well as in any country in the world. Clearly nothing I can type into such a short space will sum all of that up, so we’ll focus on just one such form; gagaku, which is perhaps best understood as an equivalent of sorts to European chamber music, traditionally played by small-ish ensembles for the rich and royal in private performaces. It went on to be a big influence on avant-garde Western classical music, informing the drones, the microtonality, the primitivism, and even the electronic textures that permeates the works of composers as famous as LaMonte Young, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Krzysztof Penderecki.
As the World Cup moves into the second round, it’s going to be interesting to see which of the over-performing minnows will continue to impress. Hosts South Africa have already fluffed their audition, finding themselves on the end of a 3-0 spanking by Uruguay, but it remains to be seen how teams like North Korea will hold up. Greece – champions of Europe as recently as 2004, let’s not forget – will be a special case indeed, because right now, they hold the record as the only team ever to play in the World Cup without scoring a single goal. It’s a deeply unwelome record, of course – it remains to be seen whether they will break that duck against Nigeria today or – welp – Argentina next week.
Don’t worry, it’s not actually Chris de Burgh.
The wunderkind of Greek music is unquestionably Vangelis. For all the movie-score cheese he’s been guilty of (look me in the eye and honestly tell me the theme from “Chariots of Fire” doesn’t make you cringe), he deserves to be regarded alongside Jean Michele-Jarre as one of the lynchpins of a very early form of adult-friendly electronica, and a progenitor of much of the new age and ambient music since. As you probably already know, his crowning achievement is his score for the sci-fi-film-noir epic Blade Runner.
To pick up on Vangelis is a stunning obvious move, though, so let’s look elsewhere….
Hello friends. Today is my birthday so I wanted to share a song that somehow, someway captures where I am right now in my life. Memoryhouse’s “To the Lighthouse” is a song that embraces conflicting musical and emotional traits. The song is undeniably wistful and nostalgic. Its fuzzy and reverby synthesized production (people are going to tell you it’s chillwave but don’t worry about it) has the feel of a laser light show slowed down and invokes Carl Sagan’s The Cosmos. This nostalgia gives way to a melancholy in the form of droning guitar lines and impassive lyrics. Despite these overt fixations on lost time and washed out memories, a sense of hopeful yearning pushes through the haze. It’s in the bubbling synth line that doesn’t stop throughout the entire song. It’s in the somnambulating trip hop beat that never gets old. Mostly it’s in the vocals, which rise in subtle crests above the waves of lo fi instrumentals that saturate the song. “To the Lighthouse” uses its own malaise to create a stunning ode to memories, summertime, youth, and “the scattered sound / of time dispersing.”
Memoryhouse – “To the Lighthouse”
I would have loved to post some Janelle Monae here today, but such is the excitement around her outstanding new album that I’ve been beaten to it. Luckily, one of dubstep’s kings of utter filth has just premièred his latest sonic assault.
Diving further into the gutter than even last year’s Choke on Coke EP (and its delightfully tasteful artwork), “Disturbed” is just that. The bassline on this track isn’t even a bassline – it sound like more like the growling, gaping jaws of a demon-possessed monster of the kind John Carpenter might fantasize about in a particularly twisted moment. Hell, one of the top rated YouTube comments on the track insists that it’s ‘dirtier than Bin Laden’s wank flannel‘ – do you need a higher recommendation that that?
Deftones have always had a sound that is broader than the metal tag they received thanks to their nu-metal roots and continued grip on the genre. Two genres in particular that have helped their music be both melodic and hypnotic are dream pop and shoegaze. It’s fitting then that M83 would decide to remix Deftones’ first single, “Rocket Skates,” from their new album Diamond Eyes. The remix does a great job of setting Chino’s vocals to buzzy synth lines, but this remix isn’t just a club banger. Somewhere along the way, the song takes off and becomes an intense, electronic march, employing an array of characteristic M83 organ tones and vocal samples. Though a bit ridiculous to be my Track of the Day I figured it’d be a nice way to commemorate the May 4 release of Diamond Eyes.
Jeremy Ferwerda stole my thunder last week by posting Gold Panda’s newest track “You” so I’m resorting to Gold Panda’s best track, “Quitter’s Raga.” This song pairs a simple, organic beat with detailed sampling work that taps into a set of Indian vocals and instruments with an IDM/glitch level of precision and volatility. Despite the technical wizardry in operation, the true pull of this song is its sticky sweet catchiness.
Gold Panda – “Quitter’s Raga”
Starkey is a Philadelphia producer who is releasing his second full-length LP, Ear Drums and Black Holes, on April 19 with Planet Mu Records. Starkey’s bouncy, major-key sound is a bit out of place on the usually abstract Planet Mu, but the convoluted details in his production and the active, heavy beats fit in nicely. The two tracks below represent the two distant poles of Starkey’s sound. “OK Luv” is ever-changing and throbbing like any good club banger, whereas “Stars” is introspective and sidereal, which works well with Anneka’s guest vocals. Make sure you also check out the Lala sidebar because I’ve uploaded an alternate version of “OK Luv.”
Starkey – “OK Luv”