Lyssna: DDR Space Program – Race To Win

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Ett uppiggande släpp, minst sagt. DDR Space Program från Stockholm levererar optimistisk och dansant retrowave, i och med det senaste släppet “Race To Win“. Det låter som något som skulle kunna vara ett reklamsläpp för Tour De France på åttiotalet. Allt handlar om fart och flärd, ‘var den förste i mål och ta hem vinsten’.

Uppsvinget som denna slags musik har fått på senare tid är intressant och kan reflekteras över, för vem kan egentligen ifrågasätta den framtidsoptimism som kännetecknade 80-talet? Hur väl passar den in i 2010-talet? Det känns väldigt främmande att denna tidsanda kunnat återuppstå, så det är magiskt hur väl den kunnat anpassas i musikform till hur vi lever nu. Trots att det ibland känns malplacerat, så lyckas DDR Space Program producera en ambitiös och närmast gudomlig ljudbild.

Det måste också tilläggas att en av de främsta influenserna är italo disco, kanske inte i sin renaste form, men i samklang med nyare electroclash – vilket gör det hela ett snäpp intressantare, eftersom att den genren i sig sällan är något att hänga i granen. Det här är vad han själv har att säga om släppet:

Race to win är DDR Space Programs andra släpp. Som vanligt är den inspelad i min hemmastudio på mina analoga syntar och sedan mixad ihop med min kompis i hans studio. Det är viktigt att för mig att använda riktiga syntar när jag spelar in. Det är en viss känsla i att sitta och ratta på riktiga grejer och så låter det oftast så mycket bättre.

EPn har ett cykeltema, vilket kanske märks. Mest för att jag själv börjat cykla väldigt mycket och tycker det är otroligt frigörande och kul, samtidigt som det på något sätt passar genren eftersom både spacesynth och cykling är snabbt och tufft. Från början var nog inte tanken att det skulle handla om just cykling, men när jag skrev “Le Tour” så kände jag att alla låtar passade in ett sådant sammanhang.

EPn har skrivits och spelats in parallellt med att jag skrivit låtar och spelat in med mitt andra projekt “Carino Cat” som är renodlad italo disco. Självklart tar jag ibland idéer från det ena projektet och lånar ut till det andra, vilket säkert gör att italoinfluenserna är ganska tydliga i DDR Space Program. Känslan jag vill få fram med DDR Space Program är att folk som lyssnar på det ska känna att det andas 80-tal. Tiden då gated reverb var norm, virveln var blaskig, syntarna var analoga och musiken var bäst.

Lyssna till släppet i sin helhet här nedanför. Man kan också köpa en CD-skiva för 50 kronor om man mejlar till ddr.space@gmail.com

Review: TSTI – Endings

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Some time ago TSTI had his third album released, or second if you don’t count “Evaluated: An Album Of Remixes“. German-based Basic Unit Productions have gotten the pleasure to release “Endings” – which is the apt title of the release. Other Voices Records have also gotten their share of it and have released a limited edition cassette of it. We’ve had the possibility of listening to a few of the demos before this was released and they sounded promising, as does his whole discography. The aesthetics of the release are industrial and very cut and paste, not really anything we enjoy at all, and the first album “Evaluations” looked more alluring visually.

The album clocks in at around thirty-six minutes in total. So let’s get into what this album has to offer in its entirety, by doing a track-by-track review of it.

Things I Would Do” is a special kind of song when it comes to the atmosphere, right from the start there is an inviting kind of mystic vibe over it but at the same time an assertive industrial sound to it. We’re not really fans of the processed vocals at all but the lyrics in this song are simple but add a catchy melodious tone to an – at first – deserted landscape. The favorite part comes forth in the build-up until the chorus and the chorus itself, as they both pack a melodious punch which is remindable and emotional. It lurks in the background and comes out in full bloom together with the drum beats and snaredrum, which later on forms a stunning introductory to a hopefully, equally as great album.

We’ve been fortunate enough to hear the craftsman, S. Smith, create this marvelous tune step-by-step until it finally was released on Basic Unit Productions. Even though the fondness of the demo-version of this song have caught on, his stamp throughout it makes for a more bombastic and impactful experience.

Naïveté (feat. Jennifer Touch)” is a lot more pop-influenced then the first one, but he stays true to himself and his sound, which allows for a heavier side to take place amongst the cheesier vibes of the flute and the melody itself. It is not necessarily the build-up and climax of the song which is interesting, but rather the dissective nature of the downbeat melodies that are produced in between – giving it a whole atmosphere instead of a half one. We don’t think “Jennifer Touch” adds anything that gives this song momentum, or a different characteristic, which is probably not what was meant – but as a collaborative effort it is stale. The instruments and rhythm are more interesting here then the synthesizers for the most part, as they are more complex and add more to the song overall.

The slower nature of “Sincerity” allows S. Smith to build up a better atmosphere then in any of the other songs, this one crushes totally in terms of the synthesizers vibrancy and the emotional delivery of his vocals. It is almost like an anthemic ballad in of itself and layer upon layer of instrumentation cut right through and form the shape of a transgression between straight-forward synth-pop and ambient music. A very nice addition which sprawls from his old sound and new, to connect and make something greater then all of that. Too bad that he underestimates this kind of touch with his other songs, whom are more industrial in nature, but not in the crafty kind of way – because they build upon a foundation of synth-pop – instead of a transgressiveness between severeal genres.

It is a dreamy song and we drear the end of it, which comes at a too fast pace unfortunately. Even though it is the slowest song yet, but at the time it is allowed to brood and deliver chord upon chord of nicely laden synthesized beauty – is precisely the reason why one ought to check out TSTI in his new form.

Forgive Me” catch elements of the previous song and have also been featured on Repartiseraren’s own compilation “Whoever Am I”, long before release. It is noticeable how Sid’s (from Schwefelgelb) mastering have affected the song, because it is somewhat different from Zarkoff (who mixed the re-mastered compilation) – so it is very intriguing to hear how different characteristics, in terms of mastering – can be heard in the end product. Since we have a special bond to this song in terms of nostalgia itself, it is hard to not have a personal connection to the song itself, but it lacks in momentum although it is picked together quite good through the atmosphere of the song itself. There is never a dull moment and around the corner there’s a whole different interpretation in itself.

The song has very different characteristics throughout, which is what ultimately makes it different as well as fitting at the same time. Everything runs like clockwork and the time never stops until S. Smith cares to do it himself, by ending on a high note. It’s a very classy song in terms of tone and clarity, where the repetetive lyrics play an integral role to it moving forward at all.

Strange Times” really catches one off-guard. Damn, the first melody is a work of art in itself and from there and on you can’t turn the song off. Had S.U.R.V.I.V.E moved in a different way and taken the help of S. Smith – this is how it would sound like. There’s a certain niceness about the mysticism in the song itself, the sweet touches of synthesizers and not-too-industrial beats make this outstanding synth-pop music. By now, had it been some other album, it probably would’ve dulled off by now. Here’s the part where musicians fall short, oftentimes, if they have an album that goes on for as many songs as “Endings” does. The samples that can also be heard but in another form, on “Naïveté (feat. Jennifer Touch)” take a step into informing the listener – rather then shake the world together with beats.

It is good to hear how the first melody is expanded in the end and clangs out like it should’ve. Not that we’ve heard this song before, but because it is just what is supposed to happen – it is the destiny of this song.

To Visit You Again” is metaphorically speaking the most emotional song so far. Both in message and sound. The longing, the outdrawn beats that scrape against the soundscape and the desperation in the atmosphere that lunge towards you in an instant. It draws upon mutated choirs that between added effects and from high to low notes, add a nicely angelic touch to an otherwise doom and gloom song. It is also the only instrumental song on the whole album. Which is a pleasure to listen through. The repetetiveness of it doesn’t bother at all because it is inventive and make use of the different small touches added to the whole totality of sound. When “Flatter Me” comes on, it is obvious that it is a direct continuation of the aforementioned instrumental song. They share many of the same ambitions in being emotionally touching and direct, together with impervious melodies that never stagnate.

Here though, the melodies are taken into a different direction which both touch upon these elements and create a whole other atmosphere – the intangible nature of TSTI’s sound is one of his strengths. All of a sudden everything is downhill and from there it goes uphill, the emotions come crashing down and the beats develop intensity as they shift from rhythm to rhythm. Very flattering of him to do so.

R.A.S.” never hits home but at the same time does. It is a song filled with paradoxical sound production, with melodies that sound oriental at times and the complete opposite. There’s a shyness and awkwardness about it as a whole, as if he doesn’t want it to bloom out completely – as he holds it even closer. He shapes and unshape things, from rhythms that don’t really make sense to beats that almost put the synthesizer’s wonderful soundscaping out of play. Maybe it is the complete destruction of everything, the ending as it is, even though this certainly isn’t his last contribution in terms of sound as TSTI.

Unfortunately, the remixes of “Things I Would Do“, by Hante and Ssleeping desiresS don’t do the original justice. It is much better and their versions of it aren’t up to par with it, and it doesn’t even create anything tangible from the perspective of making a new version, or something that could possibly stand out in any way, in terms of musicianship.

The album as a whole is a decent thing to listen to. It might even be better then that, though some things are hit and miss – but when it comes down to it, TSTI hones his old sound and develops something new – not necessarily breaking everything down and making the outcome dull and boring. Listen to it in whole down below.

 

 

Spotlight: Liquid Transmitter, Nikmis, None, Palissade

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Midsummer is upon us. A new line of spotlights are due to appear sometime every week. I’ve picked out some new and interesting releases for you all to enjoy. From post-punk to IDM and everything in between that. Everytime I do this, I see what I can find under different categories on Bandcamp – writing about each release that is featured in the article, summarizing the components and recommending it.

liquidtransmitter

Have you ever dreamt about something ever so vividly exciting, strange or beautiful? Liquid Transmitter’s release “Turn” is turning IDM on its edge, presenting to us a less rhythmic annihilation and more complex atmospheric development. From the introductory “Morning Watch“, to the last one “Uncertain Dusk“, each track is imaginative and explorative. It is as if an artist outlines his visions carefully and break the transgressiveness between genres in an uncanny way. Connecting the dots in every way, both musically and by the titles themselves.

It is finely woven into good electronic music. Slightly drone, more ambient and definently something to be heard. The quirkyness of the melodies add in the personality of this project very well – it’s self-explanatory really when you hear the music. Check it out on Bandcamp and purchase his release there, listen to it in full down below.

nikmis

Now here’s a whole soundtrack for you to enjoy. It is really odd music in a way, but perfectly obstinate and neatly created. Nikmis release “Widdendream” on Third Kind Records go forth in its own manner, holding up the banner of experimental electronica in a way – considering the composition of each track, first and foremost. From the cute little first steps of “The Big Fence On The Other Side“, to the more classically-oriented “Embarrasingly Paralell“, each facet of this album have its own sides of it. I think “Tremendous House” capture an oriental vibe and contribute to a summary of everything in Nikmis music that make it stand out in originality.

So if artists and bands alike want to describe something with their music, or capture a feeling, this picturesque wandering between the oddities in synthesizer-based music and the outrageousness of it – make it very easy to follow the story. Instead of capturing something by writing it in lyrics, he manages to break free from that and with instrumental music capture the essence of storytelling anyway. I suggest you check out the album via Third Kind Records, and listen to it in full down below.

none

Abstract, frightening and cold. With resounding, repetetive vocals and majestic synthwave – Anna of None deliver a great sounding album, titled “Vacuum“. There is a lot of focus on the bombasticism of the drums in the atmosphere of some of the songs, but it does not take away from the fact that the rest of the instrumentation is equally as good, and thought out. There are serene melodies that encapsulate the hopelessness she is portraying, especially in the aptly titled song “No“. Things develop further in terms of the sound itself in “Faces“, which almost becomes theatralic with the continuous haunting baseline.

She really breaks apart from the dry and stale projects that have been popping up everywhere. Wherever you read post-punk, it either consists of a band trying to ape a style they can’t grasp by inspiration of classic post-punk releases, or the one-man project that doesn’t hold up at all – with them being predictable as ever. The song “Nightmare” really touches on the synthwave this project relies on, giving it great effect and with “Flesh” fulfil the epitome of it. I suggest you check it out, it was released by Black Verb Records and I recommend it of all my heart. Listen to it in full down below.

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Canadians have been providing us with some really good synth-pop, but have they pulled off the post-punk? As of now, Palissade can be considered a contender, with their release “Éclats“. This four-tracked release have beautiful aesthetics in terms of artwork and their music does not lack those aesthetics either. There is a certain focus on the vocalist and more bittersweet melodies then one have heard before, it is not that fast-paced to begin with, as one hears in “La Fin“. Their more alternative and highly melodic way of post-punk is attractive. There is not that much emphasis on the baseline alone, but more on the whole togetherness of everything.

The rhythm stabs and the melodies entwine as one hoped they would. As the layers shift in character, the soundscape looms on steadfastly and “La Vie des Autres” combine the first two songs into one, it feels like. Every song is interesting to listen to and each one of them give off a different emotion. It’s a solid release that I recommend and you should check it out. If you’re interested in wayward but challenging post-punk – this is the release for you. Listen to it in full down below.

 

 

[16th] December: Yves Malone – Yellow Sweater & Junos

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One of our favorite synthwave acts as of late, Yves Malone, have chosen to grace us with an appearance for Ljudkalendern. For those who don’t know, he’s been featured in three reviews and premieres on Repartiseraren, back when Field Hymns compiled three of his earlier released albums into a box-set of cassettes. Since then he’s also released a separate album called “Ebony Sunrise“, on Orange Milk Records. What’s unique about him is how he manages to transfer soundtrack-music out of the box and into proper synthesized music, instead of it sounding exactly like a soundtrack is to sound – if you’ve ever had that feeling of how you can distinguish between the two. Which we’ve had plenty of times. That kind of transcendental move is hard to make when you’re not able to think outside of the box, which Yves is certainly very capable of at least musically. There’s always a thin line between. He crosses them all and it resonates throughout the atmospheres of his songs. Even though a box like the one on Field Hymns have a certain purpose, that had been cemented way before it was re-released, we like his craftsmanship and ambition when it comes to layering synthesizers over one another, creating a heavenly output for both dismay and happiness. Both rhythm, overlapping textures of synthesizers and melodies are important building blocks for his music. We don’t know how he so carelessly pulls all of this off.

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For Ljudkalendern it was originally intended to be an already produced song he had stashed away, from somewhere. As we haven’t had the time to write freely as we’ve wished, we therefore asked Mr. Yves for a concoction that would be linear in theme, but irregular when it comes to the music. Well, maybe not that structured. We proposed that he should produce a completely new track and out came two. Two different tracks both in general atmosphere, but also because one of them, “Yellow Sweater” is more beat and rhythm-oriented, whilst “Junos” take an upper-hand when it comes to perfectly laid melodies that make the whole thing a lot funkier. In a way we’re reminded of a synthwave Group Rhoda, if there ever would be one. A tropical rhythm with playing synthesizers that act as triggers for the rhythm in some cases, but when the melodies come together and shape a grandiose melody everything starts to roll down the hill and become even more exciting. First it fades out, feels like it is rebooting and slowly builds up a baseline that holds up the melodic construction. We give you these two newly procued tracks to stream exclusively for Ljudkalendern and the 16th December – on Repartiseraren!

Listen: Venin Carmin – Glam is gone

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We must admit that we’ve gone and gotten ourselves stuck with a ‘guilty pleasure‘. Venin Carmin from the electronica duo Kelly und Kelly, have moved on to a solo-project. She calls it ‘dead pop‘ but we’re not sure what she means by labeling it that. Her sound is in between the peppiness of popular electroclash artists and groups, with an emphasis on pop. The album “Glam is gone” is her debut-effort that is ten tracks long and spans over thirty minutes in length all together. We’re not sure if the glam has gone away but we’re pretty sure that elegant glam, glitter have gone and died somewhere, in the depths of the club’s catacomb. Though questions arise when it comes to descriptions—we’re intrigued by the sound if we could strip away the inane lyrics—but also the singing style. The whole internationally-styled delivery, often courtesy of Ed Banger Record’s entrance into French electronic music, have always been unbearable to listen to—as proven by Uffie‘s debut in the limelight with: “Pop The Glock“.

She does it way better when her chansons turn into semi-ballads with an emotional message, rather than the mindless and vain attempts to create a hybrid of melodic synth and generic post-punk. So when about half of the album have been listened through, songs like “Fade & Forget” enhance our understanding of her music. When she has the capability to create such an emotional barrage that is catchy but not too deep into pop-oriented templates, it’s intolerable to start everything over again and endure the first songs. After that song everything seems to have started over again and then—”The Spiral Dance” starts—changing everything again, to a melancholic ballad with its main focus on percussion—with lovely, but static synthesizer-pads that create a whole new atmosphere. The last song is the title-track “Glam is gone” which surprise us as she focuses more on a cold-wave singing style, a concrete and stern voice resounding. Matched with an equally as restricted atmosphere that is well-produced, but intriguing. Listen to “Glam is gone” down below and make up your own mind.

Exclusive Premiere: Yves Malone – Through His Grace’s Burned Flats / Standing On The Ruins!

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The busiest of them all seem to be the label Field Hymns from America, whom have been keen on releasing a booklet with a very special artist. This artist is Yves Malone – the creator of music for himself and to soundtracks for 1980′s independent movies – like Abysscoteque, The ECHO People and Zenith City. A common theme is the 1980′s but also the fact that every movie that he’s created his own music for, perpetuating a soundtrack of his own, are horror movies from this time period. Those kind of horror flicks that you wouldn’t know anything about unless you stumbled upon his creations, or if you were in any way involved in doing them in the 1980′s in America. Well, that might be stepping over the line a little bit, connoisseurs might have their thing and know it – but I sure as hell didn’t until I listened through his albums. These three releases are all a part of the booklet that Field Hymns are organizing to be put out for release, in honor of the already released albums which he put out himself in December of 2012. I’m here exclusively premiering two tracks from each album, but first you’ll get a description of what I think about them. Here you get FH044, FH045 and FH046. Now it’s time for FH046, which is “Zenith City“!

FH046Zenith City. Here’s where you go to cool off all that cyborg steam. The difference between Zenith City and the other albums might be miniscule at a first listen, since they have a lot in common. The difference here is that this album utilizes more of the chillwave which is residing in the genre of choice; synthwave. A calmer yet more urgent stream of different feelings are catching on. Everything from the mournfulness you feel when the synthesizers hit that sweet melody, or when you feel a sense of camaraderie when the urgency in the sound is topped up a notch. It feels like déja vu, because I’m sure that I’ve heard this somewhere before. Even though Yves Malone seem to have set the record straight before with his complexity, this is where it reaches its peak. These concentrated rhythms that softly breaks out the melody is simply flabbergasting. He’s also not afraid to show the roughness which he can channel into the sound at any given point, which is virtually unheard of in the starting and the middle parts of this album. It begins to break down into some kind of hard industrialized sound which meets the synthwave half-way. Let’s meet at the crescendo. As the beat gets harder and harder, the magnificence in the landscape of sound is noticeable – as it is crushingly apparent in the undertones of the latter part of this album – because it’s coming for you. Yves did an amazing job when it comes to the atmospheres of some of the tracks, when nothing much is happening, until you realize how you pick out the clues in the atmosphere as a whole. There’s a whole lot going on subliminally, with dampened synthesizers that glimmer for a short period of time, just to fade out into the sound-scape. Morphing into a whole different sound which takes its place and keeps the track relevant and energetic for the whole run. It’s a soundtrack that I would’ve loved to have for a film that I will not be making any time soon. But I know who to get in touch with if I want an all-round amazing electronic soundtrack to an independent film, a horror flick or a slasher. Unfortunately to say, this is the last album that I have been reviewing in short for you to read. It’s saddening to see that it has come to an end, because I was awaiting a couple of more albums, even though I knew it was a trio in a coming booklet. This is probably music I want to listen to whenever I want to relax, even though some of it give a sense of stress-induced, energetic flagellation. I feel like there’s a lot of intelligence that had to go into these projects, these albums as a whole, because even though it’s not IDM – there’s a certain kind of craftsmanship that takes a lot of intelligence to pull off. Intelligent synthwave is coming your way and it will be here soon, as a soundtrack for virtually anything sci-fi, horror or the likes of it. Stream two exclusive tracks from this release, namely “Through His Grace’s Burned Flats” and “Standing On The Ruins“. The booklet, three limited edition cassettes, will be released by Field Hymns in June.

Exclusive Premiere: Yves Malone – Across The Great Divide / Burned Chrome And Broken Glass!

field hymns

The busiest of them all seem to be the label Field Hymns from America, whom have been keen on releasing a booklet with a very special artist. This artist is Yves Malone – the creator of music for himself and to soundtracks for 1980′s independent movies – like Abysscoteque, The ECHO People and Zenith City. A common theme is the 1980′s but also the fact that every movie that he’s created his own music for, perpetuating a soundtrack of his own, are horror movies from this time period. Those kind of horror flicks that you wouldn’t know anything about unless you stumbled upon his creations, or if you were in any way involved in doing them in the 1980′s in America. Well, that might be stepping over the line a little bit, connoisseurs might have their thing and know it – but I sure as hell didn’t until I listened through his albums. These three releases are all a part of the booklet that Field Hymns are organizing to be put out for release, in honor of the already released albums which he put out himself in December of 2012. I’m here exclusively premiering two tracks from each album, but first you’ll get a description of what I think about them. Here you get FH044, FH045 and FH046. Now it’s time for FH045, which is “The ECHO People“!

FH045The ECHO People. It feels like a more angular experience, with melodies in-fighting together in a perfect shape of suspense-ridden attacks to the left and the right. With an even more freaky touch which reminds you of the horror flicks that we’re subjected to, through a synthwave assault. Layers upon layers of freaked out synthesizers that bloom out into the flowers in the sound-scape in which they’re planted. Setting off an armada of different sounds that would make you believe that you’re in space. The current is strong with the analog warmth that is pulsating throughout the landscape of sound. It takes a few minutes to realize that you’ve suddenly moved on to another track and that’s perfectly fine, because Yves Malone knows how to lay down the transitions between his more suspense-ridden atmosphere and the more angelic sounds. There’s a certain carelessness with the creation he’s pushing out to you, because it feels like it is improvised to a certain degree, but at the same time it feels like he’s careful where he places his fingers. Just so he can get the right melody in tune with the fast hits and stabs, so the droned out sound becomes even more of an experience. Even though a lot is happening, there’s a certain sense of fulfillment that you get when you’ve listened through it. You’re totally submerged into the unknown territory which he explores for you, you’re just a passenger on your way from place A to place B – even though it sounds sterile – the place you’re moving through is like something sent from above. It is especially noticeable in the longer tracks where he gets more space to make grandiose creations, rather than fast pulses of synthesizer’s delight. There is no dull moment when you’re blown away by the magnificence that is his sound. The difference that can be noted for “The ECHO People” might be minimal, but there is surely payed more attention to the complexities that he’s been working with in “Abysscoteque“. Even though it might be some kind of deja vu, I’m perfectly sure that I could’ve heard this somewhere else. It’s also hard to distinguish a trilogy from the essential make-up of it. You can’t simply take away one of the albums and say that it constitutes something new, because he’s drawn a red line that he follows through with. Similarities can be heard but also the difference in between. I’m haunted (in a good way) by the astonishing malevolence of his sound, but also by the fact that he can create such a wondrous thematic. There is nothing that would surprise you when you listen to Yves Malone, because if you’ve heard just a little bit of what he’s been making, you know its his signature sound. “The ECHO People” will be included in the booklet being released by Field Hymns in June on cassette, make sure you have your eyes open so you can buy it from them when the time’s here.