Out of Bristol, KOAN Sound seemed like they were going to be another member of the dub-step scene that took over the past five years. The duo of Will Weeks and Jim Bastow were signed to Skrillex’s label OWSLA in 2011, releasing two EPs at that time, and toured with both Skrillex in and Diplo in 2012. This year they teamed up with fellow Bristol producer Asa and hit the studio. Hard.
This years Sanctuary EP seems to culminate their numerous sounds and influences. A ‘Koan,’ of course, being a Zen Buddhist phrase to denote a lesson or concept for meditation. The title track seems to exemplify their name the best, a ‘new age’ spiritual meditation that pulls pulling influences from Air, Sigur Ros and Brian Eno all at once. As the EP evolves it’s clear that they are not just focused on midtempo breaks for your zen moment at work. ‘This Time Around’ is delicate pop, Koo lending her voice to placate the space between wobbly synths and fragile strings. But the final tracks ‘Fuego’ and ‘Tetsuo’s Redemption’ reveal their other half – the heavy, devastating UK garage sound that has emerged from England in the past fifteen years. Definitely a record worth listening to from beginning to end, over and over again.
There something wonderfully amorphous about Blue Sky Black Death. The homies never stop working, and it is never the same old shit. One moment they’re dropping some hard-hitting beats with one of rap’s up and coming stars, the next they feel like sweeping you away into post-rock ambient haze. Few musicians stray outside of their own boundaries; Blue Sky Black Death asks which one are left to break. Maybe that’s why they’re one of the most exciting acts on the West Coast.
Their fourth LP, Glaciers, came out a month ago and already (pardon the pun) has made waves for shoegazers everywhere. An ambitious record, both the format and style are decidedly noncommercial. Five tracks, spread out over sixty minutes, might be the finest articulation of electronic shoegaze music in the past few years. At times the listener drifts into the empty cold of trip hop, in others, a symphonic euphoric elation. Listen to ‘II,’ a track which oscillates between a meditative trance and a joyous exaltation over eleven minutes. Whether you want to listen actively or put the record on in the background, Glaciers is great in both respects. Check out the soundcloud stream above and go their bandcamp, where, if you’re lucky, you might snag one of the first vinyl pressings of this excellent record.
Let’s face it – electronic R&B is here to stay. Be it the sad-eyed, inventive crooning of James Blake or the drug-addled sexuality of The Weeknd, producers everywhere are slowing down the beats per minute and tugging harder on your heart strings with every line. In between glitches and pops, ass-shaking low end, and cooing vocals lies the enchanting romantic music of 2013.
The young production trio of Aaron Miller, Aaron C. Harmon, and Jordan Reyes formed BASECAMP earlier this year. The Nashville production group bring something different from their hometown, but there is a sense of real musicality. “Emmanuel” was their first single, coming out a few months ago, and has been met with almost universal acclaim. It’s easy to see why. The bass line rumbles along, a falsetto melody line that twinges between timbres leads you through the disparate aural forces. A complete pop song, affected and affectionate all at once.
Los Angeles bubbles like a musical cauldron. Sometimes it needs to boil over for a musician to really be discovered. 23-year-old singer/songwriter Nylo has been steadily rising, leaving Texas to become a session musician and industry songwriter. Now she’s decided though to focus on her own career, putting out a sparkling EP right in the vein of the electro-hip-hop-R&B that dominates the musical zeitgeist.
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Puzzle games, for me, always seem to be on the forefront of game design. Like Bobby wrote a couple of weeks ago, sometimes game design can feel turgid, rote, and, frankly, uninspired. So many stories lack, emotional depth or attempt to put a real feeling inside you. I mean how many different times do I need to run around with a gun or hack and slash through a dungeon to get loot or save a princess?
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons feels different right off the bat. This new release on Xbox and PS3 is about two brothers looking for a lifesaving ingredient in a beautiful fairy tale world. Josef Fares, a Swedish film director, linked with Starbreeze Studios to give the game a cinematic sweep.
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