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.
Ted Feighan, who makes music under the name Monster Rally, is one of my favorite musicians these days. He’s been steadily releasing albums for the last few years and they keep getting better and better. His latest is titled Return to Paradise, which to me literally sounds like what paradise might sound like (you should imagine having a blue drink in your hand, which has a little paper umbrella inside of it). If that doesn’t sound like an amazing description to you then I’m not sure we can be friends.
I was listening to one of Rdio’s stations the other day when per chance I came across “Planetarium”, a rather impressive track from Squarepusher. Also known as Tom Jekinson, Squarepusher was/is on the forefront of techno/drum and bass/acid jazz (however you want to label it) combining electronic music with the soul of improvisational jazz.
“Planetarium” to me sounds like some sort of epic space journey, filled with tons of drums, a swell of atmospheric synths and a rhythm that swings between complex and foot tapping delightfulness.
Chris Baio, made famous for playing bass in Vampire Weekend, is continuing to explore his own music and producing through with his side project Baio. Ditching indie rock for electronic music, his newest EP Mira is an upbeat series of jams that remind me of something that Caribou would make. Mira was released today and you can listen to it on Rdio by clicking here.
James Murphy, made famous by fronting LCD Soundsystem, has seen been quite busy since the bands break-up in 2011. He’s producing the much anticipated upcoming album for Arcade Fire, and now he’s released a pretty awesome remix of David Bowie’s “Love Is Lost” from his most recent album, The Next Day.
Taking the genes from Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music”, a track consisting of yes, just clapping, Murphy has put together a sprawling track that Bowie’s vocals can swirl amongst. There’s this beautiful symbiosis of pianos, hand claps, and electronic blips that then erupts into this spontaneous, disco-tinged song. This song is a slow burn so be sure to give it enough time to really wash over you.
With his new single “Awake”, we’re getting a peek into the mind of Scott Hansen, aka Tycho, and what he has in store for his next full-length album which is due out next year. Tycho is still making dreamy, guitar filled electronic jams which are perfect for when you really need to hone in on your work. Definitely one to put on repeat.