Listen: Xiu – One Thrilling Night

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As last year went into the last month, the compilation “Minimal Milan” was released on the then newly created label Minimal Trend Records. A label run by Oksana Rodinova, otherwise known as Xiu, whose contribution to this compilation was under a new alias called MarryMe2Night. Individual songs and remixes have been released, but the Estonian-born queen of minimal synth hasn’t stopped short of that. aufnahme + wiedergabe decided to test the waters again, having released her first self-titled EP back in 2012. This time our Berlinian label have put out “One Thrilling Night” – the latest release by Xiu up to date – a double-single of some sort featuring the tracks “One Thrilling Night” and “Turn Me On“. Porl King (In Death It Ends/Miserylab, etc) have mastered this release.

When listening to these songs, it feels like a recognizable Xiu stream of consciousness. Taken into another direction with the calmness; smeared with metallic percussion. Dreamy landscapes of sound pull the dirt with it, because she’s not afraid to have some dirt under her nails. The whole sound-scape in the first track is drifting between semi-consciousness and a state of dreaming, with a suggestive dark undertone and rhythm to angelic melodies that flow through. A difference between the first and the second track is that in the second – she introduce her vocals. Reverberated strings of some kind of hopelessness, together with sunken beats that wouldn’t really make you move but rather contemplate. You can stream the whole release down below.

Spotlight: Various Artists – _ever Alive – a tribute to Snowy Red

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I just thought I had to push for this compilation, because it’s awesome. A truly great one, which is a tribute to Snowy Red, which was the moniker for Marciel Thiel. One of the more influential artists within the minimal synth genre. This release feature a lot of the up and coming people, mainly from America, whom have contributed a whole lot to their own scene. But there are also a lot of artists from other parts of the world. The following are represented: Bestial Mouths, //TENSE//, Strange Powers, Mushy, Violet Tremors, Mirror Mirror, Meddicine, Nové Můra, Jessy Champagne, Revelator, Freddy Ruppert, Animal Bodies, Newclear Waves, Safyée, Led Er Est, Bright Future, Marburg and Deathday. So, it’s jam-packed with the best of the best, covering songs from albums like “Snowy Red“, “The Right To Die“, “Vision” and “The Beat Is Over“. Meaning; virtually every album he ever released. It’s inspiring to hear such a flawless re-interpretation of those legendary songs. All from different areas of the minimal synth sound. This is surely an investment, as you get a gatefolded double-LP, 180 gram, with hand-numbered packages limited to 500. You’ll can get this for twenty-two euros, and you really should, because it’s a great release. It’s also the first release on Weyrd Son Records (WyS-001), but surely not the last. Artwork was made by Betsy VanLangen.

Dreamlight: architecture – diamond mind

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Caress your body, feel your brain floating around. It’s not messy, it’s not careless – rather; dreamy and lush. The duo architecture compose melodies that can be considered clandestine. Furthering our destiny, towards something higher than just the category titled “pop“. Somewhere in between the sincere analogue experience and the digitalis futurism that is blended through the cracks of the music. Faithful, whispering, psychedelic – but also filled with concrete and raw emotions. Downbeat when they have to, upbeat when they see the sun. Albeit gazing through a layer of pouring rain. Rhythmically, they utilize the best they themselves can offer. As the melodies are played, you do heed to the rhythmic notion that they deliver with an utmost arch towards the naive. Don’t look, because it might hit you. Just feel how the music is siphoned from architecture, into your own mind. Wind down, relax a little bit and just take it in. It might be a grandiose experience at large, but you’ll also find pockets where you can breathe. This is their newly released 7¨ titled “diamond mind“, featuring the two songs “diamond mind” and “bb beware“. Released by Notes and Bolts, coming out on the 17th of April in physical format. Also, they will soon release a full-length album.

Poplight: unmo × mitsugo – ロアレ

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Sometimes I can’t really stand pop. But there are limitations to that. For once, pop that I can stand has to be either experimental or Japanese. This time around, it’s Japanese and dreamy. Two combinations that are made to be matched with each other, as the J-pop I’ve heard have always been slightly more dreamy and melodic than everything else. With few exceptions, of course. But this is electronic mixed with pop, which brings out an essence of dream-pop and a different edge to it overall. It’s matched beats with pop overtones, that heads out to be in the more classical vein. At least if you consider it from this perspective. So head on, go and listen to their dreamy variation of pop meets electronica. You can listen to it over at their bandcamp or stream it directly on Invisible Guy. It was released today, the 11th of March.

Review: White Blush – S/T

3645117286-1A newly conjured and dreamy landscape with dark pop. With the first song “True Luv” Carol Ryu expands the thoughtfulness of catchy pop-tunes, to be something more than just fluffy dreams and fantasies. This melancholic piece of coated pop is more than someone could handle, reminding me of a Ladytron mixed up with Crystal Castles with a pinch of Cocteau Twins. Her soft-spoken and gentle voice is a stark reminder of the contrast between the sound-scape and herself, putting it at a distance between them both and a cutting point only a needle could pinch through. Even though they’re remote, they’re close to each other. On the other hand, the dreaminess of the sound-scape and the sharp edges mildly resemble a nightmare with a light in the end of the tunnel. Not really an apocalyptic scenario, but by far something sinister. It might be a little bit minimalistic at heart, but it holds a greater width inside. Where the more ambient and dreamy pop surge throughout the body of the peculiar (yet not unreasonable) mixture.

Furthermore, the next song titled “Mirror” might just be the antithesis of the first song. Where the softer and more dreamy elements have been put in the foreground, with an electronic arpeggio running straight through it. The reverb used on Carol Ryu‘s voice also clings through the sound-scape with the percussion, which gives the listener a gloomy feeling, and a lush one too. Even though the voice might be a little bit too much beneath the surface and the instrumentation a bit louder, the general lyrical content is as fitting as ever. It feels as if it’s something you should try to decrypt, as if it leaves a message cut into pieces, for you to pluck together and make something out of. All the sublime elements of this song make it special and drive everything creative out, just to insert it in different parts of the song. Sometimes the more quirky synths can be a little too much, but everything else is on point. There’s a lot of things that are great about this songs and some that could be improved, like removing the weird “8-bit” synth in the garbage can, together with all its screeching.

Whilst the next song “Jolene” takes on a more ballad-oriented and genuine nostalgic pop-sound, the percussion is still doing its job. Definitely one of the strongest cards yet, as the melodies and the rhythms all entwine and create a bombastic yet dreamy sound-scape, almost bordering to ambient. The lushness of her voice is almost indescribable, but trying to describe it would be like opening your finest bottle of champagne and taking a sip from it. Then resting in your chair in front of an open fire. A luxurious endeavor not meant to be exposed for us less fortunate. But yet, inviting us in with a smile on the face and giving us high-quality art. As I’ve said in earlier reviews, there’s something about a girl’s name being the title of a song, it almost always turns out to be one of the stronger songs on those albums. Also, the mix of down-tempo and somewhat up-tempo electronica, makes for a wonderful mix that can keep rolling for all I care.

Every album also needs an intermission song, which “Wait” is a symptom of. Nothing bad with that, I enjoy a little bit of rest before punching the alarm clock and moving on. Here, it’s also noticeable how a strong yet lush voice can give a sound-scape that extra feeling of grandeur. It’s like an instrument in its own way, of course and if you a little bit of watery reverb on it, there’s something going to come out of it. The result is very much a lo-fi, down-tempo and angelic experience nobody should be without. Like sitting in an empty church by yourself, hearing the wonderful voice of someone who can hold it out long enough for it to be strong. Filling up the space with a lot of wonderfully interpretative motions in and of sound. The stripped down sound is minimalistic and enthralling enough to put it on once again, just to enjoy the wonderful sound of a singer’s voice that is on par with the sound itself.

But here, something changes. With the next song titled “808 Myst“, the chilling effects of a darkwave-oriented pop mystery unleashes its thorns. The sound is very much a confusing and bedazzling one, which keeps itself in your mind, yet reminds you awfully a lot of white noise. There’s something for everybody to fetch here. Sheer ambiance, scary darkwave or mysteriously harsh melancholy. Almost gaining a little bit more confidence to call itself dark ambient. At times, the swooping yet steady sound is crushing the inside of your skull, while releasing enough pressure to keep you listening to it. There’s always some pressure in this song, which quenches the thirst to hear it once more. Its notion is also radically different from anything I’ve heard on this album, which is a little bit confusing, but maybe not surprising. Because there’s certainly a darker vein to some of the songs, which just happened to escalate into something beyond the pop notion that it has been involved with throughout.

Which makes us delve into the last track on the album. It’s titled “Juice of My Heart” and contains the same elements as the aforementioned song. Instead of reminding me of some dark ambient mixed with crushing power electronics/darkwave, or something in that manner, it reminds me of some heartfelt movie soundtrack of the 80’s. The pulsating percussion, the lo-fi sounding elegance and the glamorous environment it revolves around. If someone would’ve told me anything about it, I would’ve picked a movie like Top Gun for it to be in. Even though it might not be as bombastic or in-your-face as Berlin’s song, it might actually have been featured in anyone of those movies if it had came out in those days. I think this album is great and also one of the reasons I wouldn’t shy away from the dream-pop genre. It’s got all the necessary things to keep it afloat, and it actually brings something more to the table than reverb-drenched nonsense being spewed out together with boring electronica. You should listen it through and make up your own mind, but I would like to recommend it.