Albert E. Trapezoid

 

Empty Pool Boys V.A Compilation 008

What: “V.A Compilation 008” by various artists

Netlabel: Empty Pool Boys

Empty Pool Boys is a netlabel founded in Spain a little over a year ago (August 2012). Including this one, they have released eight compilations s and two EP’s, so a steady flow of music keeps it fresh.  

EPB says they started the label to “convey our interest and passion for electronic music.” From what I’ve sampled their music touches on various styles under the big “electronic” tent. They have also done a particularly nice job setting up pages for each of the label artists with some background information and links (where available) so you can easily learn about your favorites.

Some of the things that particularly appealed to me in the mix of music on this compilation include:

* “The Change” by Ato Rodriguez starts a little more quietly than some of the tracks with hand drum sounds  but slowly builds as voice loops and other electronic sounds are layered on. It just has an overall cool vibe.

* The Boss H track “La Mancha Bass” starts with a more glitchy rhythm and adds some nice repeating bass sound (as title suggests). Some wilder elements are added as the track rolls on.

* “Retrok” by AbL has some nice multi-noted rhythms; I just really like production and groove of this tune.

* I may be completely out of my mind here, but the Randoom contribution “Hall_A” sounds to me like a complete deconstruction and dubbing up of the Depeche Mode song “Shout.” Even if I’m off with that idea, it’s a great dance track with an insistent rhythm.

You may need to speak Spanish or use a translator to understand the text on the EPB site, but the music speaks loud and clear no matter where you are from.

Jah Rootikal Steppers

What: “Jah Rootikal Steppers” by Jah Rootikal Steppers

Netlabel: Dubkey

The artwork for this November 2013 release has a bit of an “old school” look to it, including what appears to be a worn cover. That is a little misleading though; while the music certainly is inspired by the past, it has a very modern sound and production sheen.

Jah Rootikal Steppers is a band organized by Si Gains, who is located in Grimsby, England. The Steppers facebook page describes them as “a consortium of dub collaborators inna roots vibe!” While there are other contributors on this album, Si composed, recorded, mixed and produced all the tracks. The band bio indicates Si became a big reggae fan back in the 70’s and has collected lots of relevant vinyl since that time. Based on this group of songs I’d say he has certainly picked up some pointers about what makes good dub.

As I hinted above, you get lots of classic dub sounds (bass, melodica, etc.) with modern production and electronic elements. There is a nice flow to the entire package, but three tracks in particular jumped out to me. First is “Jah I Up” with its slower rhythm and subtle drums (and that wonderful melodica), followed by “Babylon Can't Control I,” which picks up the pace a bit. It might be the extra element of a djembe played by Sam Aisthorpe on these two tracks that brought them to my attention. I also like the very next track “All A Dub” which throws in some vocal elements (both clean and dubbed out) and lots of interesting sounds, including some horns, that roll this track into a more “out there” dub production. But really, you can’t go wrong with anything on this album.

The Dubkey netlabel was founded by Manwel Tabone in 2009 to present free roots reggae and dub music. He says “the intention is to share the good vibes with as many people as possible!” A worthy goal if I’ve ever heard one. Manwel T’s fingerprints seem to be on most of the labels offerings, including one nice mix on this release of the track “Zion Judgement.” Manwel’s mix sounds like it may be stripped back a little bit from the original and also plays a little more with some of the sounds. It’s subtle, but nice to see someone who doesn’t feel the need to throw every sound and twist into the mix to make it interesting. Respect.

Todern Malking

What: “It`s Not Normal” by Todern Malking

Netlabel: DAST Net Recordings

This bright, three-song electronic EP was released in September 2013 by Todern Malking out of Germany. I can’t find much detailed information about this netlabel or artist, but did discover that Todern Malking is actually Benjamin Strehm, who goes by many aliases and seems to be quite a productive musician based on what I found surfing around. (As I write this, I’m Ben’s only Twitter follower and he has no tweets, so no clues their either.) I guess lots of background details don’t matter – it’s all about the music.

And wonderful music it is. It’s hard to sit still listening to these tracks; you’ll want to bob your head or get up and dance. I hear hints of some well-known electronic artists (Kraftwerk, Bruce Haack, etc.), but they are just small pieces; none of the influences overshadow the whole. It’s all polished up into a nice original shiny electro disc.

DAST Net Recordings  is a netlabel from Germany that has been around since 2009, but again there is not lots of detail available about the label. They describe themselves as The Synthetic Tune Experiments Netlabel and as an Electronic Music Netlabel. Even with their internet presence I guess it’s nice to still leave a little mystery in our relationship.

And finally, here’s a video for one of the tracks called “Future Lady.” Perhaps there are some clues here? The video seems to show (or at least suggest) the Voyager Golden Record that was sent to space in 1977 and some images from the Pioneer Plaques of the early 70’s. Was that the inspiration for the music? Is the female on the plaque the “Future Lady”? Many mysteries…

Miquel Parera

What: “MUME Selections” by Miquel Parera

Netlabel: Vuzh Music

I find both the sound of and concept behind this release to be pretty intriguing. Also described as "Automatic Music for Musical Metacreation Weekend," Miquel created these four pieces as part of the 2nd International Workshop on Musical Metacreation (or MUME2013).

Let’s start with discussing “musical metacreation.”  A simple description is that it’s a creative activity where people develop software that autonomously generates compositions. The machine, if you will, is endowed with creative behaviors and produces original sound. As you can likely gather, this whole endeavor involves the overlap of many fields including art, science, technology and philosophy. (You can find out more about this world at the metacreation.net website.)

I’ve heard of musical metacreation being done in different contexts and with various styles of music; some attempt to adapt the style of certain artists, while others attempt to strip away the ego of the creator.  In this case, Miquel worked on the software and “MUME Selections” is the result. In comments on the Vuzh site, he says: “Contrary to what we had expected, stylistic coherence has emerged (or so I think). When I try to reach the ultimate motivation to make noise, I realize that this is a sort of challenge: to what extent I am able to eliminate me myself. It may seem simple, but it is very difficult…”  

So what of the end result presented in “MUME Selections?” Overall let’s say it’s ideal for fans of more abstract electronic music. You’ll hear lots of buzzes, glitches, drones and pops – electricity! I’d recommend listening with headphones. The titles for each piece are somewhat generic and functional (“nxMUME01,” “nxMUME02,” etc.) and provide no clues. As Miquel did, perhaps it’s best for the listener to try to put aside his or her own self and accept the sound on its own terms.

Vuzh Music was started in 1990 by C. Reider to distribute his own music to the underground home-taping network.  It has evolved to its present manifestation where it continues as a distribution point for projects by C. Reider, but it also re-releases select work from the cassette underground and new music by other artists. Click around the site; there is lots of compelling stuff to be found.

Roots & Branches

What: “Roots & Branches” by various artists

Netlabel: Svaha Sound

Svaha Sound is a newer netlabel formed by two people (Lord Vahder and Mr. Lion) to support unsigned artists focused on dub influenced music. Svaha is a little different than many of the netlabels I’ve seen in that, aside from a home to release music, they offer many other artist services (mastering, promotion, etc.).

     

“Roots & Branches” is a 16-track sampler featuring a variety of artists, all produced by Svaha Sound System (Lord V), with some collaboration (from Mr. L). Lots of great classic and modern reggae sounds are present on this one. The first five tracks feature vocals, while the rest of the tracks take the dub train. It is all good, although I’ll call out “Chalice In Hand” by Papa Bones and its barely recognizable version “Elders Inna Dub” which both feature the most “out there” production of this album.

I am finding so much solid reggae on various netlabels, it’s truly an embarrassment of riches. The other thing I appreciate is that there seems to be a strong community among reggae artists and netlabels, with lots of support and overlap. Some of that cross-pollination is evident here by none other than Jennifer Paulos, who has a song (and version) that was featured over at Dubophonic.

If you really want your mind blown, there is something else to check out at the Svaha Sound site. The compilation “The Eastern Rising” is a cool album of dub with a twist – it is heavily influenced by eastern music, which turns out to be a great combination with the dub influence. It features producers from around the globe. You can hear it now, but it will also be available on December 10, 2013 through all major online retailers. If you’ve been a good boy or girl maybe Santa will leave you an Itunes gift card and now you’ll know how to spend it.

Jehm Sounds Pt.2

What: “Jehm Sounds Pt.2” by various artists

Netlabel: Jehm Records

There is nothing better than a well put-together music compilation, and the latest from Jehm Records certainly hits the mark. This 14-track sampler has lots of strong, upbeat electronic dance-oriented music with a few more experimental twists mixed in. There is lots of EDM online and it can be somewhat monotonous (thump thump thump etc.), but this compilation is the opposite of a collection of boring beats; there is good mix of styles and talent and lots of interesting choices throughout.

Some of the tracks that stand out to my ears are:

* “Current Events” by 5am has a slightly more experimental vibe than many of the other tracks. The song has some guitar and wordless electronic vocals mixed in with the base electronic sounds.

* “Head Up Big Brother” by Missqulater with its bubbling bass sound, sampled horns and voices (perhaps kids singing Japanese?). Something about the zeal of this track just makes me really happy.

* “How I Feel” (Original Mix) by Rab Achin. This is a strong house track with lots of unexpected sounds and samples embellishing the rhythms. If you like this like this one as much as I do you’re in luck – there is a second “Alternative Mix” included.

* “Gaël” by Hébèho may be the most experimental track here. Lots of weird noises, buzzes and distortion worked into the rhythm.

* “Bam Staka” by Headcleaner  has lots of strange sounds, speeded up beats and hard rhythms making this a strong techno track.  It sounds like a video game gone out of control.

Jehm should be proud of this one. Use it next time you need an energy boost.

Marino69

What: “Intergalactic” by Marino69

Netlabel: Melodica Netlabel

I often find netlabels that are based in one place in the world but feature artists from other far away locales; in this case we have a three song EP released in October 2013 on the Slovakian Melodica Netlabel by an artist from Slovakia. Melodica stayed close to home to find some good stuff this time.

 

The three tracks presented all have some majestic elements to them. “Transformation” is a slow build of keyboard with electronic chorus and drums turning things up a notch. “Apsychia” has some slightly abrasive electronic sounds mixed with synth; the sound focus is a bit “in and out” at times making it a little unsettled (perhaps suggesting the beginning of losing consciousness as suggested by the song title). But then toward the end clean piano and electronic “strings” are introduced to dramatic effect. “Our Forest” grows on a clap track and more keyboards to nicely round out the selections.

Marino69 describes himself as a dubstep and downtempo producer, but to me this EP seems like lofty electronic music in search of a major event to soundtrack. The artwork and title obviously reference space – maybe it can be used as theme music when we finally take that trip to Mars?

The Melodica Netlabel started in 2010. They report they have released more than 20 EP’s and collaborated with more than 50 producers from around the World. Here’s hoping they keep building.

Album In A Day

What: “Album In A Day Volume 7 - 28 September 2013” by various artists

Netlabel: BFW recordings

Here’s an interesting concept: Artists from around the world, associated with the Manchester, UK based BFW recordings netlabel, each write and record a new song on the same date (in this case, September 28, 2013). Two days later BFW releases a compilation of these pieces. The end result for this particular date is over four hours (!) of nice music from 38 different artists.

BFW says they release “ambient, indie, shoegaze, post rock, experimental and electronic music;” so, something for almost everybody. This particular release leans more in the electronic music direction, but even with that general description there are lots of styles here. The entire compilation holds together well and it’s fun to explore. Some particular favorites for me are:

 * Bing Satellites “I Wonder” starts off with some slow Eno-esque piano and production, but slowly builds into a more muscular tune with drums, electric guitar and louder (and at times slightly more intrusive) background atmospherics building on each other. After a bit of a crescendo it all slowly floats away.

 * Telegraph 909 “Dirty Wires” has some synth sounds that bring to mind Fad Gadget, along with a knocking percussion line and some background electronic horn sounds.

 * Joshua Ryan “Constellations” includes a bright, rolling synth pattern with other elements added throughout to create a dreamy yet insistent tune.

 * Stephen Briggs “Discordance” introduces itself with plucked and echoed guitar notes. Somewhat ominous backwards looped music emerges in the background, then it moves to the fore about half way in along some (perhaps) treated double bass. A synth wash pushes it all away and the piece moves into more noise/effects/atmospherics territory, with the guitar and bass occasionally off in the distance trying to reassert dominance, with mixed success.

 * DJLContent “Synthetic Landscape” is somewhat minimalist (dare I call it jazz?) with echoed guitar notes, xylophone, and live drums gently coloring the palette. A real stand out for me.

 * And last but not least I’ll mention Poodleplay Arkestra with “Blue Four,” for no better reason than I always like an Arkestra (although this is a nice tune too).

BFW has a very active release schedule. I counted 34 in 2012 and another 18 so far this year. Not to mention hours and hours of previous “Album In A Day” projects. So…clear some room on your computer because you clearly won’t run out of things to listen to any time soon.

Savvas Metaxas

What: “Entropic” by Savvas Metaxas

Netlabel: Panospria

Savvas Metaxas is from Thessaloniki, Greece. He has also recorded under the name “Inverz” and you will find he is active in a number of other artistic endeavors if you dig around a bit. The description of this five-track release (released in August 2013) says “Entropic was recorded during a long period of dysphoria, dyspnea, and anxiety…It is emotional music from the brink of darkness.”

So, I was a bit surprised when the first track “Sisela” started. It features some bright synth sound patterns and slowly evolves with some keyboard drone sounds. You might almost think you will be hearing electronic chill out music. But then as the rest of the pieces unfolded I wondered if maybe this first track was placed to reassure the listener that, despite what follows, everything will be OK.

Each of the remaining tracks has a slightly different feel, but all are definitely darker in tone than the first.  Third track “Spinach” has ominous thumps and rhythms that fade in and out along with some drone sounds, and what sounds like distorted found sounds.

I think the final track “The Colour You Love” is my favorite. It combines electronic sounds that suggest a natural environment (the seashore with lapping waves and distant ships) which conflict with some drones and slight feedback that suggest machinery or mechanical sounds. The different aspects of these two veins overlap as they come to the fore then recede. It’s a really interesting combination.

Panospria is a netlabel located in Canada. They share a website with the No Type netlabel, which has been around since 1998 (that’s like ancient times in internet years). The home page says “Music & non-music. It’s all good.” I love that slogan. There are a few other labels on the site, and if you poke around a bit you’ll find scores of artists and releases to enjoy.

The Dead Souls

What: “Night” by The Dead Souls

Netlabel: Zorch Factory Records

The Zorch Factory website, in describing this September 2013 release, says “Any fans of The Sisters of Mercy, Rosetta Stone or any other second wave goth bands will love this.” I don’t disagree, but there are some earlier influences on display here as well; some of the heavier Pornography-period Cure as well as…well, can you guess from the band name? They not only got their name from one of the best Joy Division songs, JD influence is all over this music (especially the bass and the dramatic singing).

“Tides,” the opening track, is some short sustained keyboard drones, but then “Rituals of Dissent” kicks in and we’re off. The remaining tracks are full of Peter Hook-like bass, sepulchral vocals and the heavy, gloomy guitar – and they keep calling me…

The Dead Souls is two-member band (Kevin Shames and Etienne Goldberg) active in Burlington, Vermont by way of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Just what you would assume, right? The singing of Etienne has lots of echo effect throughout this album; at times it is almost more of a presence in the mix than a human vocal. It works well with the music. All the tracks are dense and hypnotic. After a listen it may have you eyeing that ghost on the cover suspiciously.

Med Dred

What: “Dred Reggae EP” by Med Dred

Netlabel: Dub-o-phonic

This is a really great six-song EP full of classic dub and reggae sounds released in August 2013. Med Dred is a Cypriot, but has apparently spent a lot of time in the UK (Brixton is specifically mentioned). He lists various well-known musical influences including Scientist whose style I think I hear the most in this work. In any case, Med Dred has clearly absorbed many of reggae’s top rank and that is evident in his music.

Overall this EP is filled with familiar sounds brushed up with some modern production sheen. Most tracks fall into the dub category but there are also some vocals sprinkled throughout, most prominently on “Empty Words” (followed, perhaps inevitably, by a version track called “Dub-o-phonic Words”). You’ll hear lots of echo, melodica, and great production throughout the six songs.

Dub-o-phonic says they are the first netlabel from Cyprus, and who am I to disagree? The label’s focus is on dub “whether it would be electronic or acoustic/organic, roots or steppers, classic or contemporary.” They are fairly new (first release was in June 2013) but already have quite a lineup of musicians from places as diverse as Siberia and Argentina, among many others. Everything I’ve listened to so far is very high quality, and they’ve released quite a good selection in their short existence. I’m looking forward to visiting often.

Daniel Barbiero

What: “Allusions to Fogs & Liquids” by Daniel Barbiero

Netlabel: Treetrunk Records/Complex Silence Series

This post is sort of variations on previous themes: I am revisiting an artist and netlabel I’ve discussed before; Daniel Barbiero has a new (July 2013) release on Treetrunk Records. Last year Treetrunk released some music by Daniel Barbiero and Chris Videll which I really liked. This time, Treetrunk’s Complex Silence Series has released some new solo material by Daniel; two longer tracks featuring prepared and processed double bass and it is (again) highly recommended.

The title track “Allusions to Fogs & Liquids” features slightly distorted/echoed double bass over a constant gentle wash of sound in the background which suggests the ocean or rain. The music moves at a slow, almost languid pace. There are a few quick dialogue samples that appear briefly about one-third of the way through, but the bass sound is clearly the feature here.

Daniel says this music “represents a type of music concerned with sound as something in itself, a material externality. But it can’t help but carry associations. Here the listener takes over from the composer/performer." While you may be able to say that about much music, it is highly evident here. At times as I have listened I find it relaxing; other time slightly ominous. It could be foghorns distorted over a night sea (as at least partially suggested by the title of the music), or incidental music to a film noir. You may hear something else completely when you listen.

The second track, “Phase Transformation in Ethers,” is a bit of a shock at first: more harsh, much more distorted, the music sweeping back and forth in your earphones. This piece relies more on industrial-type sounds than the natural musicality of the bass itself. The treated double bass and processing of the sound is very evident here. Several times the music seems to start to settle down a bit, but it never quite allows you to relax. David Lynch may be calling after hearing this one.

I also appreciate the thoughtfulness Daniel puts into titles and the descriptions of his music as it challenges me to seek out other information to see how it all may fit together. Last time it was “Kordylewski clouds.” This time he quotes Robert Boyle; a 17th century scientist (although that description sells him a bit short). He is considered one of the founders of modern chemistry and the modern experimental method, and was a leading intellectual figure of his time. Some of Boyle’s theory on air and gasses seems to have been an inspiration here. A quote of his concerning the latent qualities of air leads Daniel to suggest “As with air, so with sound.” Indeed.

VooDooMan

What: “Voices From Antidimension” by VooDooMan

Netlabel: LOM

This music was released in May 2013 by LOM located in Bratislava, Slovakia. It’s a 14-track retrospective of music by VooDooMan. He is described on the site as “an enfant terrible of the Slovakian underground electronic music scene. He has been composing songs since the early 90s and he has self-released 9 albums on his own label Oshipanah Records.” Elsewhere I found it mentioned that he apparently releases his music in limited editions of 33 CDR’s – so clearly he’s just angling for the pop charts.

This is a fairly lengthy release, with about half the tracks clocking in at 9 minutes or longer, and there is quite a variety of music here. Some (like the not-totally-easy-listening “Esquema Incognita” or the ocean waves and piano of “Sailing on the Wave of 1/f”) are closer to the ambient side of things, while other pieces are more experimental/industrial (“Schizophrenia”) or noise soundscapes (“Template of the Intergalactic Panic”). There’s even a curve ball thrown in on “Bude to tvoj megahit!” which is basically voice and acoustic guitar.

Two of my favorites are “Gentle Bell From Tibet” and “Something Follows You in the Night.” With “Gentle…” you get largely what the title promises – bells. Some of the notes form little melodies, while others are more random. After a few minutes some other subtle noises and effects start creeping in and the piece slowly becomes more chaotic, eventually returning to the more gentle bells until the aggressive finish. “Something…” is a very noise based with ominous electronic sounds and weird rhythms. It reminds me of some of the early stripped-down Cabaret Voltaire noise experiments updated with a glitch aesthetic.

LOM says their mission is “…trying to help unknown or forgotten experimental artists to start publishing their work.” Aside from digital downloads there is also physical music product available, experimental software, and more.

Arcade of the Covenant

What: “Arcade of the Covenant” by various artists

Netlabel: Natty Droid 8-BIT Reggae & 8-BIT Dub Netlabel

If you are any kind of reggae fan (or an electronic music fan; bonus points if you are both!), you have to visit the Natty Droid netlabel. There you will find label compilation “Arcade of the Covenant.” Natty Droid describes itself as an 8-BIT reggae and dub label. The reggae and dub are self-explanatory, but 8-BIT? Well, that is a form of making music that is sometimes also known as “chiptune.” It involves using the sound chips from vintage computers, game consoles and the like to produce original music.

That has the potential to sound like a gimmick that would wear out its welcome quickly, but the high quality of production and sheer variety of styles here should overcome any trepidation you may have. Some of the music is more serious reggae sound, while some is more playful with the genre and the computer game sounds. Most importantly, it is all excellent.

 

In fact it’s all so good I hate to leave anyone out, but some of the highlights for me include:

* The spacy dub of “Donkey Bits” by DubNL.

* “Snesimilia” by Unorthodox Conqueror sounds like Ultravox if they did reggae.

* The fantastic ska of Don Péké with “8-BIT Thousand Tons of TNT.”

* Naff Natty’s “Rainbow Islands Version,” a fun cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

* The twisted Western soundtrack of “Little Big Dub” by DVAnt & Dubinit with Dr RemiX.

There is so much more, but I’ll leave it to you to identify the various dialogue samples throughout and to search for the track that plays with the theme song from “The Guns of Navarone.” And there are other smiles to be had as the song titles themselves often play with the source tools and music style (“Dread at the Consoles,” “Digital Herbalist”), as you might have already guessed from the compilation title.

The Natty Droid 8-BIT Reggae Netlabel was started in December 2012 (which probably explains the Christmas-related tunes at the end of the compilation). All the artists on the “Arcade of the Covenant” compilation also have their own page at the site with lots more music. Find your favorites and start clicking.

Vi-Fi

What: “Space of Brain” by Vi-Fi

Netlabel: Southern City's Lab

Back to Southern City. This time, it’s a new single and video by Vi-Fi released in March 2013. I exchanged a few emails with the group to find out a little more about them. This band comes to us from Saratov, Russia and has two members: Vi-Fi (who reports he plays synthesizer, guitar, and drums as well as mixing and programming) and Le On (drums, programming).

The two tracks just released are “Space of Brain” and “Sorrowful Happiness.” Both are interesting, short electronic pieces. “Space of Brain” is made up of electronic noises; it sounds like a video game gone bad. “Sorrowful Happiness,” on the other hand, is more melodic and consists of low key synth. If you like experimental electronics check these out.

The link included above to these Vi-Fi songs also includes an abstract video for “Space of Brain.” I noticed at the end of the video it says “for Brian Eno” and I asked Vi-Fi about that. “’For Brian Eno’ is the name of our new album. It is named so because Eno had great influence on me, and after listening to his music I formed a band.” I am told the album will be out in the next few weeks.

If you want to explore more the band has an extensive website (in Russian) and other things posted at Southern City’s Lab. Their other music, while often in the experimental electronic vein, also at times includes elements of 80’s synth music and even jazz.  It’s all relatively minimalist – not cluttered with unnecessary sounds and instruments. They even have a song called “Before and After Calm,” perhaps again showing their Eno influence playing on his “Before and After Science” title.

What Happened With You

What: “Eat My Heart” by What Happened With You

Netlabel: Southern City’s Lab

This is an EP on Russian netlabel Southern City’s Lab. Five tracks of lo-fi buzzing guitar and punk energy. The best I am able to piece together is that WHWY is a one-man band, that man being Artyom Luzhin from Penza, Russia. This was released in December 2012.

The opener (the cleverly named “Intro”) is a short instrumental that sounds like a lost Pixies riff. The remaining four tracks are sung/chanted in multi-tracked English. The songs all share a heavy, driving  guitar buzz. You can detect some Russian accent in the singing, which I mention only because the combination of that and the rhythm of the vocals in “I Do Not Hear You” at times creates a strange but cool effect of making the lyrics sound like they are being played backwards. The whole EP has all the right early punk attitude and execution.

Even if WHWY is not your thing, Southern City’s Lab has lots of music posted in a truly wide range of different styles – from the experimental electronics of Vi-Fi to the quieter acoustic guitar and singing of DadliFeniks. Use the embedded Google Translator if you need it and dig around; you will find something you like.

Bye-Product

What: “Star” by Bye-Product

Netlabel: Jehm Records 

This is a wild sound collage assembled by a self-described plunderphonics music artist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the good ol’ USofA, but it comes to us through the Jehm Records netlabel based in York, UK. (cue: “It’s a Small World”…sorry if I’ve now put that loop in your head the rest of the day.) It was released in June 2012.

 

Bye-Product says this music was created 100% using samples, citing 80’s pop to current electronica. That description that may sound somewhat like the Girl Talk release I’ve written about elsewhere on this site, but when you hear the end result it is very different;  Bye-Product’s output on this release is more abstract and the samples are a lot less obvious. All tracks have a strong beat, but that is overlaid with chopped up samples, bites of lyrics, and loops. The overall impression of individual tracks range from dance to industrial. Some of my favorite tracks (“Awards Lost,” “Don’t Push Me,” “Recycled Greef,” “Closet Generation”) sound like they use samples from some of my early electronic favorites (Non, Throbbing Gristle, The Normal), but most likely it’s just the way BP has edited his samples.

The man himself says “If you enjoy loud, vibrant and choppy music, than you will love this record.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. But I’ll also add if you like Bye-Product, you may have some fun exploring his other output. John Zobele is responsible for Bye-Product, but also works under various other names (including MrHappyFace and Cordless Soul Machine). Fire up your web browser and start searching – he’s got a lot out there to explore.

Daniel Barbiero + Chris Videll

What: “Aberration in Pitched Systems” by Daniel Barbiero + Chris Videll

Netlabel: Treetrunk Records

On very rare occasions when you are fishing something unexpected can jump right up into your boat; that is sort of what happened with this release for me…except really what happened is that I just found it in my email! No matter, it’s definitely a keeper.

The “it” in this case is “Aberration in Pitched Systems” by Daniel Barbiero and Chris Videll. It was released in early November, 2012 on the Treetrunk Records netlabel. The Treetrunk website says it is based in “MidWestern USA;” which is a lovely place if you ever get the chance to visit. There are four pieces of music here; Daniel plays double bass (sometimes more acoustic sounding, but usually more electronically processed), while Chris plays drone lab, shruti box and effects pedals.

 The performers describe this music as “electroacoustic improvisations for double bass and electronics/sound generators. Constructed around pre-determined harmonic constants and variables, the pieces embody the shifting opposition and reconciliation of sister drones and modes.” Generally what I would say you will hear is a very interesting combination of mostly bowed bass improvisation plus drones and electronic effects. The first and longest song, “Etheric Voice Double,” sets the tone for all the music. The piece unfolds slowly and beautifully, allowing the sounds room to breathe and develop. Although the bass is evident, it is highly processed so electronic sounds and drones dominate this piece. “Identity in Variation” is up next; this is spacious and very much a variation on the theme/mood set in first piece.

While is certainly fits musically, the title track is a bit of an outlier in that a generally cleaner bass sound takes the lead, subtly colored throughout by echo and electronics. “Kordylewski Clouds at L5”is the last track; it is closer to the style of the first two pieces, but more unsettled and slightly more abrasive at times. The electronic sounds are definitely more forceful here. Maybe this piece represents what you might hear in a Kordylewski cloud? I not only enjoyed the music, I was “forced” to learn something too; Krodylewski clouds are clouds of dust that may exist in space as part of the Earth-Moon system. End of science lecture – and this won’t be on the quiz.

Bottom line: This is sublime and challenging playing, but is not so obscure or unstructured that it would be of limited interest. Anyone who enjoys some nice double bass and/or electronic music will find much to like. It takes its time unfolding, so tune in and let it flow.

Frenic

What: “Mongolia” (EP) by Frenic

Netlabel: Dusted Wax Kingdom

This netlabel is based in Varna, Bulgaria, but here they present Bristol, UK based DJ and producer Frenic. His four-song EP "Mongolia,” released in September 2012, is a wonderful combination of downtempo beats and Mongolian folk music. I feel compelled to mention that the folk samples include some Tuvan throat singing, only because that vocal style is a personal favorite. Overall it’s a really well done and seamless mix; it manages to sound traditional and modern at the same time. I guess that makes it timeless!

 

The tracks were apparently made as part of a commission for the BBC program "Toughest Place To Be A Miner."  Frenic has a lot to explore on his website as well.  http://www.djfrenic.com/

Raw n^d

What: “Untitled” by Raw n^d

Netlabel: HAZE

 Raw N^D is an experimental electronic music artist from Minsk, Belarus. His “Untitled” album on the HAZE Netlabel (released in August 2012) is a really varied and absorbing mix of electronic pieces. Lots of the electronic music I hear can lapse into pretty boring basic techno beats. This collection is refreshing; it has more accessible pieces (like “Elementary Waves” with its almost pop rhythm and melody, overlain with some slightly distorted sounds) mixed with the more abstract (like “Log 1.0.4,” a sound collage with a beat). Overall it’s a nicely textured and paced album. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on here.

Standouts for me include “Urban Stereo Erotic Foto,” which comes on with a strong techno beat, but intertwines with distorted pop sounds and ambient waves. At time it’s like three distinct songs playing together, but they move in and out of the focal point always pulling for your attention. “Sphere & Core” is driven by a heartbeat and seems to have electronic water spilling over its sides. And “Corpus C” with its polyrhythms, mixed with harsher electronic sounds. Open-minded fans of electronic music should get on this one!

Seahorse

What: “Watch a Seahorse Give Birth” by Seahorse

Netlabel: Zorch Factory Records

Seahorse is a four-piece band from Kiev, Ukraine. This six-track EP was released in September, 2012. I have to laugh sometimes when bands bristle at being compared to other artists or types of music when they so clearly meet the criteria. (“OUR sound is really unique and doesn’t fit any category blah blah blah…”) This is apparently not an issue with Seahorse; they themselves say: "Our sound was born in the 80’s." Indeed it was.

If you like the darker post-punk from the 80’s you should enjoy this EP. There is a clear indebtedness to Joy Division in these songs, and I think I hear some influence from The Sound, Pornography/Faith era Cure and early goth bands as well (including some Banshee guitar sound on “Forest”). The lead singer (who sings in English) has a strong voice that often reminds me of Dave Gahan. All the songs are serious and dramatic and really well done. Dim the lights and turn it up!

Muhr

What: “Hantises” by Muhr

Netlabel: Camomille/Les Enregistrements Variables

Muhr is Vincent Fugère, one of the cofounders of this netlabel located in beautiful downtown Canada; Montreal, Quebec to be specific. This album was released at the end of August, 2012.

From what I can ascertain the word "hantise" has to do with ghosts or haunting. I can definitely see that influence in these nine tracks, but it’s more suggested than an overwhelming theme. The first couple tracks (especially "Gattuso") are songs I believe Portishead fans would take to immediately. The rest of the tracks are in the same general vein, but are often less dense and occasionally wander into more upbeat territory. Most of the instrumentation throughout sounds like variations of clean drum and piano sound, with electronics taking center stage at times and enhancing the background at others. Some of the melodies are even playful (including the appropriately named “Some Kids Might”). The title track closes the set and sounds like a missing Joy Division dirge overlaid with some squelchy synth.

So sometimes this music is more atmospheric, sometimes it sneaks into trip hop territory; overall this is a really beautiful sounding album. It’s mostly instrumental with some French singing/recitation mixed in on a couple tracks. And the beauty does not stop at the music. The artwork for the album (shown above) is sensuous and mysterious, which seems to carry over to a lot of the other art on the label. If you are in the mood to explore, in addition to more music, the site has interesting art and links from the two founders.