Friday, February 24, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Gary Bigelow - Revelations

Artist: Gary Bigelow
Title: Revelations

Sliding in just under the wire this month is Gary Bigelow, a new name to me. So, let's find out together....

A life long resident of Fall River Massachusetts, Gary has been an active participant in the Southeastern Massachusetts Performing Arts Community for well over 30 years he says on his Soundclick page, which tells us in no uncertain terms that he is an old fart. See, being an old fart myself entitles me to be old and cranky and call other folks old farts in much the same ways as African Americans can call each other n..n...n..n.. Nope, it's no use, the wear filters are just to strong for me the say n....n.....n....n...THAT word. Whereas I can old fart, old fart, old fart until I am blue in the face and nothing will happen. Discrimination, surely...

OK, enough of the comedy, let's get serious...

As a young man, I was interested in just about everything up to and including Bible Study. I know quite a bit then about the writings of John on Patmos, and that helped me - I believe - to live under the shadow of nuclear war. What a lot of young people don't understand today is just how terrifying it was to grow up thinking that your little butt could get blown away at any second. Thank the Lord that Gary's makes it a lighter subject than I have just done :D It's indisputedly acoustic folk with a touch of the John Denver about it that may well put some people off. Personally, I found much to like about this simple, uplifting track despite my own dislike for the genre. What makes it for me, ya see, is the structure of the track and - much more importantly - the feel.

Gary has an easy on the ear picking style that underpins his surprisingly raspy style of vocal delivery. It's arrangement isn't going to set anyone alight - it's a bit too standardised for that - but it does make for an exceedingly pleasant listen. No good of course if all you want to do is blow your ears off with beats, but not everyone in the world wants to do that, despite all indications to the contrary. I'd say, going by this track, Gary Bigelow has all the necessary ingredients to carve himself out a very comfortable niche on Soundclick and has already gone some way to making some good friends. All I need now is to hear the track that he surely MUST be capable of....

Excellent folk rock, with a voice to match.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Pagoda - Ripple Effect

Artist: Pagoda
Title: Ripple Effect

A million years ago on another site very far from here, I first came across Cape Town based Pagoda but lost contact with him when I moved over to Soundclick. On the internet, though, everything comes around again because lo and behold, he turned up a little while ago on MP3 Unsigned complete with new material. I have to say - in my own defense - that I am not a big fan of trance or techno (which is what Gert (aka Pagoda) specialises in ever since I've known him, but even so he has given me a couple of decent listens in the past so I'm always up for another.

Especially if there is a couple of years break in between ;)

I wish I could have welcomed Gert back with a nice review but, unfortunately, this is not to be the case. It isn't because all the bits that make up this track are not up to scratch, they are. It isn't that I have a well known antipathy to the genre, as I do but I have to put that predjudice aside when reviewing. Nope, where this track falls down to me is in that all-important flow.... Mind you, I also have a real problem with the bedrock of the track, a wooly, woefully inadequate kick drum that somehow just doesn't pump the beat anywhere near hard enough for the genre. Moreover, add the flow problem to this jumble and it just doesn't pull it off.

Only my opinion of course, but this is an opinion based on hearing several tracks of this type every month and KNOWING what the competition is up to. Firstly having a almost 2 minute intro into this track may work well - and probably does - on a dancefloor but the more sedentary (read lazy bastards) among us may not be too taken by it. Secondly, once the track starts (it's a sort of mix of electro-pop and Gorgio Moroder disco bass sequences) it's very disjointedness (too many breaks and electronic nooodlings) makes it - to my ears - a not solid enough dance beat. Surely that kinda defeats the whole object of the exercise? Hey don't take my word for it cos wtf would I know, but that's how this track sounds to me. At 6:28, this is no spring chicken either, it takes a lot of different things to fill up six and a bit minutes and this just doesn't try enough diversity - or rather what diversity it does employ is in the off-beat, slower sections. So, welcome back matey, and I wish I could have had better news but hey, you've got plenty more right??

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Alchemystic - Beyond The Borders Of Reality

Artist: Alchemystic
Title: Beyond The Borders Of Reality

Alchemystic is a surprising dude. It takes a while to get what he's about but once you have a taste there'll be no going back. My first problem with this guy is that whenever I looked as his music I couldn't seem to get the flashing neon light that spelled Game Soundtrack out of my eyes. From the earliest tracks: Sands Of Time (May 2005), Frozen Memories (July 2005), A World Within (December 2005) it was obvious that the Games Soundtrack genre wasn't for this guy. I like to think of myself out of the genre box mostly and (when pushed to it) will describe myself as a Modern Composer and THAT is probably what Alchemystic does - to an absolute tee. Me, I make little vignettes, no more than a snapshot of time... Alchemystic creates whole worlds, operas of the soul and mind, films in sound...

and a gut busting megawhopperchomper of a download problem. Broadband Halleljah!! Broadband Halleljah!!

Take, for example, Beyond The Borders Of Reality, a track that is NOT available right now because it's a track off his upcoming album and me being the smart bastard here snagged a copy (or six) See, like a lot of musicians, Alchemystic is a bit of a perfectionist. By my reckoning we went through three different versions to get to the one I am actually reviewing right now - a magnum opus weighing in at 11MB and a 11:40 running time. Most regulars know by now that I have a short attention span (what?) and it takes a lot to keep me amused for a second or two let alone eleven fekkin minutes. So why did Alchemystic take the chance? Because he's a right confident geezer and he KNOWS that he has something a bit good simmering on the crucible... If Beyond the Borders is an example of what that album is going to contain I'd say it's an even bet that the man will do well out of it.

For why? Think. Eleven. fekkin. minutes. Could you do it AND keep the interest?

There's a special skill to scoring that - when everything comes together - makes for something totally uplifting to come through and (every) mix I heard of this track had that. To be sure, the final version has a presence that the others lacked but its essentially the same layer cake, and I mean that most sincerely folks. Believe me you are still going to be tripping on this next year Even having listened to this a million times I cannot pin the damn thing down, because it's got a bit of everything attatched to it. There's rock a la P Floyd, there's a wee dash of space opera, gargantuan themes that seem to grow bigger with each listening and a studied, very assured way coming through on both the performance and production levels. In my year end awards of 2005 Alchemystic came from nowhere to snag a Li'l Beast prize (that's a rising star to you unfortunates who don't know how cheap and tacky the Stevies really are) and going by this example he just put himself lightyears beyond that because when all is said and done Beyond The Borders Of Reality is nothing less than a work of art.

Awesome scope and breadth of vision.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Silvertrain - Empty

Artist: Silvertrain
Title: Empty

I seem to have spent almost the whole of 2005 berating John and Ritchie (aka Silvertrain) to get a grip and get some new material out there, as well as batting the n dozen million demos that John has shot my way, all of which - I am sure - we are all heartily sick and tired of. Not that I have anything against John's songs, even in the demo form but when you put it against the classics they issued a couple of years ago, it doesn't compare. It doesn't stop them garnering the attention they deserve but I still feel they are coasting off tracks that are decidely showing their age - at elast for someone who has listened to their entire repertoire several million times.

Empty is, in fact, a bit of a change from ANY of the tracks I have heard since The One To Blame CD and one I sincerely hope makes its way into the next recording session. The first reason is - of course - the fact that is so different from the 'normal' (read softer, gentler) Silvertrain we have become used to over the past year. Empty is a much harder edged proposition and bears some resemblence to the rockier side of Silvertrain I first picked up on and loved. Tracks like One Night Stand and The Night I Died probably came from roots similar to this, and believe me that can only be a very good thing indeed. Admittedly, you'd have to picture what this may sound like in a 'proper' arrangement but what's here isn't too shabby at all.

It's a pretty straightforward classic rock song, with a fairly ploddy beat that would be picked up enormously with the inclusion of a live drummer as I found the timing a bit suspect. Nonetheless, the bulk of the track is carried by a guitar riff and accompanying bits that more than adequately hold the track up, allowing the vocals to carry the main feel of the song. A bit of a broody monster this boy too, a vastly different beast to the cuddly warmth I have come to associate with ST's ouput of late. If this one DOESN'T make the cut for the next recording session, I will no doubt be back on my high horse before you can shout 'damn nitpicker'. In the meantime, take a listen to what first attracted me to this UK band, and maybe you can also see the future of rock as we know it... (Ed: Bit strong Gilmore, are you still having those delusions of critical grandeur? Don't think for one second this is going to get you a holiday...)

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Frequencee - Weather Storm

Artist: Frequencee
Title: Weather Storm

As well as being a SC forum Moderator Frequencee also has the distinction of being one of the first artists I reviewed when I moved this operation over to Soundclick over three years ago. State Of Mind (September 2003) was a track I heard slightly before I started to really get into the elctronica being made on this site, consequently I didn't think - looking back on that review - he got a fair deal. However, he showed me the error of my ways when he delivered the awesome Chemical (June 2004), Dropzone (April 2005) and Zero Gravity (August 2005) all of which show that this is one elctronica artist who knows exactly what he's doing and how to set about achieving it.

He's always tried to do things differently and in such a narrow field that is something noteworthy. As well as this admirable trait, Frequencee brings a very welcome high production value to anything he puts out, Imagine this if you will; intelligent electronica that has an overall sound that could level buildings. Welp, that's what Frequencee always brings to the table and his always danceable electronica even surmounts most of my old farty can't-stand-the-stuff moans and groans. All of these elements are present in Weather Storm including the noisiest backing track I have ever heard. Wait...? Noisy?? wtf would I want to listen to noise, you may ask. There's noise and then there's NOISE innit?? :D The kind of noise that this track pumps out is as much an essential part of the track as any of the cleaner sequences.

Weather Storm is considerably darker in tone than anything I have heard from this guy recently and is almost a venture into more experimental territory, while retaining Frequencee's trademark danceability. He's always got some lovely technical tricks going on, and the intro of this track is a classic example of how to set a track up. He says - on the song comments section - that this is 'something a little different' and I would have to nod my head about that. Taken on face value there isn't exactly much to grab hold without some sustained listening. Sure for a confirmed audiophile like myself, there are those little technical tricks to savour again and again, but for most people people it may be a bit too 'different'. Not that I, and the rest of Freq's listeners, are going to give a flying *** about it, we'll be too busy picking the bones out of this bad, bad boy...

Highly recommended electronica with brains AND brawn.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: The Redshirt - Warmed Up

Artist: The Redshirt
Title: Warmed Up

The Redshirt (not to be confused with anything else of a bloody colour) is an MP3 Unsigned artist I have not had the pleasure to review as yet, but just reading some of the blurb on his page gave me much to chew over. A electronica artist from California The Redshirt claims he is ' is the start of a revolution back to the big beats of electronic music. We have slowly let our electronic music slip into sisyness, and we need someone to jump start this movement. And i am your who's with me?' Couldn't agree more about the general insipidness of a lot of today's electronica and listing Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk and Prodigy as your influences can only serve to pique my curiosity, if not yours...

In particular, the Chemical Brothers, interest me greatly - more so since I had the chance to remix their Galvanize track last year, and that is the closest musical reference to this track. There's that almost mayhem feel about the track from the get go which is a big plus to dragging an unwilling listener into a genre they wouldn't normally listen to. Therein lies the real problem with electronica, the market for it is nothing like as big as people make it out to be. For this reviewer, for an electronica track to SURPASS its genre it's gotta have much more on the ball than most. As good as Warmed Up is - and if you like the genre, it is well tasty - it still falls over in a couple of places where I feel it may have attracted a wider listening audience.

There is a fair bit of repetition (particularly in the vocal samples) and - for my money - a lot time should have been spent on post production. There are some blisteringly good sounds on this track and as phat as it is, it could have done with a lot more fattening up of the individual sounds if you get my drift. For me, a track like this really SHOULD blow me the fekk into next week and this track just misses its mark. Not that The Redshirt should feel anything but proud of this track, I'm just an old nitpicker who should know better. As I say, if you like the genre you will like this but I fear it would need to have a lot more impact than it does to attract a more casual electronica listener. Nonetheless, it's fairly obvious that if this is an example of what The Redshirt does, then it's only a question of coming across the right track.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Thielus Grenon - Land So Distant

Artist: Thielus Grenon
Title: Land So Distant

Life on the internet never ceases to fascinate me. A couple of years ago this artist was all over Soundclick because I distinctly remember his brand of prog rock which I think he was doing long before Sylvan & Bonamici teamed up. It was a bit of a surprise then to see on the review list this month that he had returned from whatever wilds had possessed him, so welcome back Thielus. See, the thing is that I don't really like progressive rock in any form. Probably because it brings back haunting memories and a sickening in the stomach - it's all that bombast, ya see. It makes me fairly bilious. Looking back through my reviews I can only find one review I did of this artist at the time (but I do remember doing more) and I gave that a 'well worth checking out' thingie so it couldn't have been that nauseous an experience.

I've made light in those past reviews of this artists music to sound very like Yes in their heyday and after listening to Land So Distant, I find no reason whatever to change that view and much to strengthen it. A very fluid, sophisticated peice that (despite it's Yes type tendencies) never falls into the 'look at me, I'm really clever' trap, it sounds like Theilus had a lot of fun making this track. It's in the sound quality and the highly professional production where this track scores highest. There is so much going on in this track that it must have been a nightmare to mix down and - to my ears - it's about as right as it could ever get. As much as the first musical reference just has to be Yes, there's a lot more pure Grenon happening here this time, and that IS an improvement from previous tracks.

There are some many good things in this song to point out I could fill up the page from here to tomorrow but here are some of the highlights; the lead interplays between guitars and keyboards, the incredibly 'present' toms, the fluid and mesmerising build runs, and - for me personally - the arrangement. It will take many, many plays to squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of it, and that to me is the mark of when the music is worth the candle. Seems like the break has been really beneficial to his skills, certainly enough to make this old cynic sit up so abruptly I spilled coffee on my lap. Theilus says 'This is a song about loss. It is dreary, depressive and angry' Don't you believe a word of it; it's elegant, polished, entertaining and IN NO WAY dreary. In fact, it's a...

MUST HAVE (especially if you like the clever stuff...)

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Onager - Seeds Of The End

Artist: Onager
Title: Seeds Of The End

Onager: catapult: medieval artillery used during sieges; a heavy war engine for hurling large stones and other missiles. Asiatic wild ass. btw, make sure you read that properly. That's 'wild ass' not 'wise ass'. Fortunately, this Onager is none of those things (well maybe a BIT of wise ass :D ). He's an MP3 Unsigned artist from Colwyn Bay in Wales who I have come across once before when I reviewed his Dark Glass (July 2005) which - although it was heavily into electronica - I quite liked but thought that it was an instrumental looking for a vocal. Nonetheless, it still struck me as a very decent, dark edged peice that worked well as an instrumental but still missed that essential ingredient.

Seeds Of The End is - if anything - even more electronic than Dark Glass, except this time coming down on the electro-pop sound of the early 1980's as opposed to the slightly colder style of the Gary Numan style. Definitely trance inspired, full of hard edged synth sequences and an absolutely rock solid (if slightly boring) drum track, this is a track made for dancing. If I were a dancing man (I can't any more, me Zimmer Frame keeps getting in the way) then this would definitely feature in my playlist - electronica or not. The sounds employed and the mix it is encased in are very complimentary, helping the track so you don't really notice the amount of repetition going on.

So, on 'feel' this works, but I'm afraid I can't say the same for the rest of the track.

There's a looseness in the arrangement that doesn't do this track any favours, and that looseness leads to a section that screams out 'this doesn't work'. Now maybe this is just me being me (ie awkward, pedantic and a right royal pain in the butt) but to my mind, that spells confusion on the artists part about what should be happening there. There is a distinct mismatch in the way the sounds meld together and maybe that's a bit of artistic license, but it doesn't work for me. This is particularly noticeable at 1:40 where the bass and synths sound like they are fighting each other for the melody line. In all other respects this is a very neat trance track that would do well enough in it's genre but with a bit of tidying up and a beefing up of the drum tracks this could even rise up above its genre. The section around 3:00 works like a s.o.b and I'd prefer to hear a bit more of that then the problematic bits I have already spoken about. If, however, your intention is just to dance your ass off and not pay much attention to what's making you do that, this will definitely do the trick.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Deggsy/Crockmister - The Girl With Half Opened Arms

Artist: Deggsy/Crockmister
Title: The Girl With Half Opened Arms

Now that Deggsy and Crockmister have moved over to Soundclick I hope that they get more of the attention they actually deserve. After all, I have been giving them rave reviews throughout last years and I know they gained some fans from here, but IMHO they deserve so much more. As I've written before they came within a whisker of gaining my (obviously disreputable) Artist Of The Year 2005 award in last years Stevies. That isn't because I like their music because to be honest, they are a bit too middle of the road for me, ya know what I mean. I DO like their musical style and the obvious professionalism that they bring to everything they have ever produced, a talent that gained them four Must Have's pretty much in a row. Don't believe me? OK, listen to Spinning Around (August 2005), Tired Of being Poor (September 2005) and These Dreams of Mine (October 2005) and the absolutely immaculate Lullaby In Blue (January 2006) and then tell me that I am wrong about this...

Yeah sure, they have a pop sensibility bordering on the 'easy listening' side (think Simply Red, Lionel Ritchie and - on Lullaby In Blue - Louis Armstrong) but the class of work here is incomparable. Simply put, there is no one around that is better at this kind of material than this UK based duo. I'm not alone in thinking this because I am aware that the MP3 Unsigned artists don't get THAT much attention from SC regulars but this artist certainly did. Even the most casual listen to this track (Girl With Half Opened Arms) will point up everything I have just explained. Certainly the professionalism I mentioned would be immediately to the fore, this is something that could have come from any commercial funk (Commodores?) outfit you care to name. It's easy, jazzy style will suck you right in, believe me.

As much as I like Deggsy's musical nous (and he knows I do) the real star of this act just has to be Craig Sofaly (aka Crockmister) who has a voice that can stretch out into some really amazing places. There's a classic sound to his vocals that makes you feel very familiar with it, even if you've never heard him before. It's a clever amalgam of just about every class singer over the past thirty or forty years (remember the Louis Armstrong reference?, I kid you not...) and believe me, that's a hard trick to pass off. Out of the three names in the bag for AOTY 2005, Marian Daines and Paul Killington and Sylvan and Bonamici, pipped them at the post and I couldn't give these guys a higher compliment. The reason I rate ALL three of these artists so highly is because they are simply one-of-a-kind, streets ahead of any competition - but out of them all, none is MORE commercial than Deggsy and Crockmister. Take a listen to any of the tracks I have mentioned and you will see that.

(sigh) Must Have (sigh) again.... yaaawnnn ;)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: CJ Freq-X - The Greens Of Gaia

Artist: CJ Freq-X
Title: The Greens Of Gaia

Been a bit of a bumper month for Mumbai based CJ Freq-X because already I've reviewed his collaborative effort Muted Silence (with Nuff-X, wiv no CJ in front) and now here he comes again. Cheeky blighter, eh wot? S'OK though because I do like this electronica artists work whether its with someone else or alone like this. For a 17 year old, CJ has a real good grasp of musical presentation so even if the genre doesn't necessarily float your boats, you should find something of interest. I first encountered his work when I reviewed Psycho Rampage (October 2005) and was surprised to find a musical sense that made the genre hop about a bit.

Since then he has become a firm favourite, both with this reviewer and the electronauts who frequent Soundclicks electronica scene. As you can imagine, The Greens Of Gaia is a floaty froth, full of new age-ism and definiitely fits it's mellow description (not that the title doesn't give the whole plot away in the first glance). As it happens it's a classic Freq track in every respect, his blend of instrumental styles (he is Indian after all) and his sense of what makes western music work give this beautiful little track a very positive glow to pass on to you - the listener. What most attracts me to his work is the often haunting but always interesting melodies he weaves into every second of his tracks.

The Greens Of Gaia is not an exceptional track - as far as his other tracks go - but in the genre you will be hard pressed to come up withing finer. Sounds like hefty praise, doesn't it, especially for one so young. I think my own ambivalence to the track comes from this whole Mother Earth bollocks that imbues much of todays music. All a bit hippy for my tastes - or being an old fart - a bit too close to the truth; that my generation thought they would change the world and didn't and this generation who have no choice but to change the world or we'se all fekked... So with that positive and friendly vibe nuzzling its way into our fevered brow, I'll bow out by saying that CJ Freq-X should be listened to by just about everyone because on his page he has something for everyone.

Recommended for the Mother Earthers and other good folk...

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Ditheramb - Euphoria

Artist: Ditheramb
Title: Euphoria

The major problem with reviewing so many tracks a month is that you quickly forget just why you gushed buckets over this track but not over that one... Take Ditheramb for example. This Brisbane, Australian four peice heavy rock band got inundated with praise when I reviewed In My Shadow (October 2005) and for the life of me I couldn't remember the track at all when I came to write this review. Therefore, it's a constant process of going back listening, and comparing that with the new stuff to see what has changed and why. Much more mysteriously, for a heavy rock band such praise was fulsome indeed because although I like the classic rock style, heavy metal is too ingrained in my own deaf past to be anything more than yeah, yeah, seen it, done it...

In this case, it didn't really matter because by about the fifth play Euphoria had me hooked and going back to the original track only served to confirm that my earlier review was bang on. Certainly about their willingness to stretch this usually very narrow genre, because where In My Shadow gave me a taste for what this band are about, Euphoria gave me the feast. From the highly effective sdrawkcab vocal intro, to the clear, cutting guitar lines, this track is - as the man says - 'a perfect story'. Initially it was the guitar sound and the ever changing way it was used to propel the track that interested me. Then I started to notice just how detailed the arrangement was, and before much longer the whole thing crashed down around my ears. There is a real inspiration dash about the work Ditheramb are doing and this track shows EXACTLY why they are that little bit special.

Again, in common with In My Shadow, this is filed under Metal and yes, in a way it is that. To my ears however, as someone who lived through the headiest days of this genre, Ditheramb have a grasp of their subject matter that fair takes my breath away. If I told you that two of my favourite groups of that period were a band called Spirit (12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus is a seminal album) and a UK band called Spooky Tooth, then this is who Ditheramb remind me most of. Both bands were very rock based and employed similar styles; mini epics featuring instruments and muscular arrangements that took a lot of thought and intelligence to make work. The end result are tracks that start off small but grow with repetition into worlds unto themselves. Nothing around like Ditheramb in my books, and I review a LOT of this kind of stuff but none makes the impact this band does.

MUST HAVE (metal, petal but not as you would know it...)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: John and Lucie Collins - A Voice In The Night

Artist: John and Lucie Collins
Title: A Voice In The Night

A new name (at least to me) John and Lucie Collins have very little biographical information on their Soundclick page, so I have no idea where they are from or what their intentions are. I admit to having a slight heart palpitation when I discovered (while downloading the track) that they are influenced by - among others - Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Brightman - and I personally can't think of a more frightening trio of horrors than that. Not that I have anything more substantial to lay at these very talented ladies feet other than a pathological hatred of their style of intense, gut wrenching ballads that borders on the cringe-making. There is no doubt that they are all, in their way, consummately gifted singers - it's just a question of personal taste.

As far as this duo goes, John supplies the music and Lucie provides the vocal, so let's get straight to it.

As much as I hate the style, I am a sucker for a good (read powerful, expressive) female voice, and Lucie Collins has that most precious asset. With overtones of some of the greats of the genre, her voice soars and swoops over a very pedantic jazz tinged backing track definitely taking the spotlight it is due. One of my favourite female singers is the legendary Billie Holiday (1945-1959). Her rendition of the now classic 'Strange Fruit' was one of my first musical enlightenments and to this day brings shivers to my spine whenever I hear it. To say that there is both an element of the lady AND the song in A Voice In The Night is to pay this track a very high compliment indeed, and I thought long and hard about making such a claim.

However, continued playing of this excellent track, only served to confirm that feeling. It's understated musical score allows the voice to provide all the drama and excitement, and Lucie rises beautifully to the challenge. The music never outplays the vocal but does make its presence felt, especially on the little horn taps in the chorus, and the sax solo is just right in tone and delivery. Any more or less of this would have disturbed the tenor and tone of the track itself. Full marks then as far as the arrangements and delivery go, although personally I could have done with a little less reverb/delay on the vocals because - to my ears - it kinda detracted from what should have been an otherwise flawless track. More torch song than gut wrenching ballad, and as such something that I will come back to time and again because it is a track that is likely to take up residence on my hard drive more because of the Holiday references than any other factor. It does bode well, though, for further tracks from this obviously talented singer and producer/musician partner (he wrote the excellent lyrics)...

Wow, shivers down my backbone!! Recommended.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Paradise Decay - I Am Alien

Artist: Paradise Decay
Title: I Am Alien

Outside of Squaresoft you would be hard pressed to find a computer music musician who had found a certain amount of fame creating game soundtracks. Paradise Decay is one of those musicians, the list of games and other musicians who have lined up for his services can seem very intimidating, take a look on his MP3 Unsigned page or his own site for more information. I got to know him a few years ago on another site when I got involved in donating a track and creating the CD artwork for an appeal for his daughter Sarah who had a serious and life threatening illness. It helped that PD came to all this music making lark through the same MOD scene I did (he started out with the venerable Amiga) and was a creative and committed member of many of the same websites I have belonged to. Won't cut him any breaks as far as reviews goes of course, but I am proud to call him friend...

I Am Alien (for me anyway) shows off some of the lessons he learned from Protracker; an attention to detail, a willingness to do things with music that others may consider 'wrong' but that actually work and to elongate an idea to enable the correct sense of light and shade (drama, even) that make tracks work. Alien is much more of a dance track once you get past the extended intro (some two minutes of it) and is littered with the little tuneful melodies that only a MOD making career would have taught you. Being a big, big fan of the legendary Vince Clark (leading light of Erasure, Depeche Mode and Yazoo) it comes as no surprise that I Am Alien features a lot of that producers ryhthmic tricks, in particular the bass and synth sequencing that make this track the joy to hear it is.

I'm not sure how the vocal sample that dots this track was made but it is also undeniably electronic, and fits the track like a glove. Despite my high regard for this musician personally and professionally, there are elements of this track that don't work for me, but that is down more to my dislike of the dance leanings of the track than anything that Graeme (aka PD) is doing wrong. At this stage of the game, this artist is waaaayyy past that stage. What you hear on his tracks are things HE wanted on there and not some newbie mistake. The classiness of the arrangement, and the polish and clarity of the production and mixdown is self evident and anyone who enjoys electronica dance music will just love this little gem to death. I did like very much the pace and style of the instrumentation but there again I would have been very surprised if I hadn't because I also view Vince Clark as a bit God-like and this could well be something he had a hand in putting together.

Highly Recommended electronic dance track, packed to the brim with enjoyment.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: N Talekt - I Got U

Artist: N Talekt
Title: I Got U

Looking around N Talekt's Soundclick page, it's fairly obvious that he's fairly new to the site - even if he isn't new to the hip hop scene he inhabits. Not that being new has ever stopped anyone for delivering decent, downloadable material, although it does often mean that the person IS new to the music making game and that I would take notice of. See, unlike some people, I can't really see the point in ripping someone a new butt just because they happen to be new to making music, although I will point out things that I think need correcting and suggest ways to overcome them.

Something to do with being a soft touch, I guess...

Despite my leanings towards other genres, I do have a great and abiding love for the hip hop scene and - over the years - I have reviewed a lot of Soundclick's hip hop artists although not always to their satisfaction. I fear that much the same thing is going to occur here because where all his mates may well be telling N Talekt he is the ****, that isn't the conclusion I came too. There is nothing about I Got U that would make me want to come back for more, and certainly nothing that would make me suggest that this artist is any worse or any better than the bulk of hip hop on Soundclick. I Got U is - as you would expect - a bit of a love song 'especially for the ladies' as NT says in his song comments, but it's lacklustre delivery and basic arrangement doesn't put me in mind of kissy kissy fumble fumble.

The lyrics, what I can make out anyway, are also fairly pedestrian but it's the basic arrangement where it all falls apart more than any other element. There is nothing of very much interest there even if you do like the genre, and the main kinda plucked melody lines are way too thin and regular to be the highlight of the track they should rightfully be. Obviously these are things that can be put right easily enough but as it is, they elements in this track do suggest a bit of a rush job, certainly denoting a basic lack of post production techniques. Put up against some of the stronger hip hop artists on Soundclick (which IS N Talekt's main competition after all), this doesn't even come to close to what really cuts it. Giving this artists the benefit of the doubt is all well and good, but judging by this example there is some way to go before he is the ****.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Wushuman - Digit@l Fr3ak

Artist: Wushuman
Title: Digit@l Fr3ak

About the only interactions I have had with Wushuman are the endless laffs he has given me - and a lot of other forums regulars - with his erudite comments to the endless streams of peep my poopers... A rottweiler of a poster, once his teeth sink into a tender newbies flesh there is no quarter. It's no surprise then that he's from the UK - land of the aserbic wit. Mind you, I got a heart murmer when I noticed that he was a fully paid up member of the Electronica: Techno genre - a land I am all too familiar with and not particularly fond of at that. Mind you, Wushuman knows well enough that my tastes don't run that way so I just think he's a complete fekking madman for giving me the ammunition....

If you would all please stand back a bit, the blowback may be a bit fierce...

There are actually two versions of this on his page, the download link above is to the latest version. However, being a well known busybody I just had to download the older version before finishing this review so I could see what - if anything had changed from one to the other. Whatever you do, don't judge this track by the first 30 seconds or so because nothing very much happens other than a fairly pedestrian beat. The track doesn't kick in for about a minute or so into this almost six minute track. About the only difference I can spot between the two is that the later mix is mastered to a much better degree and that's never a bad thing. The biggest surprise to me is that - as techno as it might be - it's also a pretty decent song, complete with lyrics that actually make sense!!

I know, I know. Not the done thing but hey, it works...

I had to play this a few times before it started to really make me pay attention but I put that down to my own ambivalence to the genre than anything Wushuman is doing wrong. Matter of fact, although I wasn't expecting much, I ended up being reasonably impressed with Digital Freak - particularly lyrically - and the half spoken, half sung delivery helps the overall idea to come across. For my money, it's nothing spectactular, but it is a lot more workmanlike than I was expecting - given the genre it's working in. To be honest, I didn't think it was that techno really, more like straightforward electronica a la Europop but what's in a name right? I'd go for the song, even if the music it's couched in isn't that interesting.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Amy Dixon Kolar - Woman, Sing

Artist: Amy Dixon Kolar
Title: Woman, Sing

Amy is a lady that I met through the good offices of Soundclick Seniors and we got to talking - as you do - and before you know it her hand was in my pocket and a review was on her cards. Sneaky, these old folks, ya gotta watch 'em like a hawk. Amy is from the land of triple barrelled names (yes, American AGAIN...) where wives graft their husbands name onto their own before you can say 'shopping bill' or - in my case - refuse your name altogether. After all, my wife argued, wtf would want to be called Gilmore anyway....?

Except me, of course, but I have no excuse as usual.

So. Where was I? Oh yeah. Woman, Sing is a listen-only track so if you are on dialup, you could be SOOL (or shit out of luck for those anacronym'ly challenged). For those richer than Croessus, you should be forewarned that one of Amy's prime influences is Joni Mitchell who - I have to admit - I was never really into. It was the whiny voice wot did it. Not too much of the whiny about Amy's vocal work, she has one of those hoarse AND breathy voices that provokes prickles of tension to the hairs on neck. Vocally she reminds me of the UK's own Joan Armatrading, although stylistically she does indeed owe a lot to her Canadian heroine particularly in the self supporting backing vocals.

As good as her voice is, it's the studied guitar playing that first attracted my attention with this track. Like la belle Mitchell she has a sure and steady feel to her accompaniment, and some lovely fluid lines in the intro and outtro. It is fair to say that this certainly won't appeal to everyone, especially not amongst the krunk, gagga and lets-have-some-ho's routine, but for the other 99.95% it'll be a rare treat. I have to say, on my part, that I don't always like material like this. I find it all a bit too sugary, a tad coma inducing even but taken in small doses even I can take this once in a while - more for its quality than its content. There is no doubt that Amy is a dedicated, seasoned musician who knows what she wants and - on this score - she has succeeded perfectly.

Recommended for Valentines Day (Ed: That was yesterday, ya cheap ****!!)

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Muted Silence - Mind Plays Games

Artist: Muted Silence
Title: Mind Plays Games

Muted Silence is a collaborative effort from two of Soundclick's electronica fraternity - CJ Freq X and Nuff X. Seems only natural that they go together innit? After all, they share the same surname right? ;) This is my third time round with this band because I reviewed their X3 (September 2005) track and was a bit more than lukewarm about it ie it didn't impress me overly much. Then I did like Dsylexic Angel (January 2006) a very tasty slice of electronica that signalled the duo's increasing musical tightness and also showed the increasing use of detail in their track, materially and technically.

No surprise then that Mind Plays Games is as far ahead of Dsylexic Angel as that was to X3. The giant steps theory definitely holds true of this pairing when comparing them like-for-like, particularly when most of their material features a dark, brooding edge that has become a bit of a trademark. This darkness really comes to the fore in Mind Plays Games, a fact that will strike you from the very first note. Although they are two extremely different talents, the interplay between their different technical and practical skills is what informs the bulk of their work and Mind Plays Games is a seamless example of what they do best.

Based around a theme of coulrophobia, or at least a clown called Tiffany (I had a date with her once and she frightened me too) who 'makes all her friends dead'. Hmmmmm, yummy. Not exactly the kinda stuff to play on a dark, stormy night then, but a track that I feel Muted Silence can feel justifiably proud of. With its overtones (very slight admittedly) of the darker side of Depeche Mode (wait!, did they have a light side?), Mind Plays Games is - right now anyway - Muted Silence's finest hour. Certainly the peice of electronica I have heard in a while and one that I feel will do just as well outside of its genre as it will within it. It's the clammy feel of it that will eventually reel you in, and it's that atmosphere that makes this track happen for me as indeed it may for you too.

Highly recommended considering it's dark electronica.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Guanoman - Goddesszilla

Artist: Guanoman
Title: Goddesszilla

And now for something completely not normal. Not normal at all.

When this artist passes on to better worlds, that should be engraved on whatever commemorative plaque is around in his memory. The king of bird crap also doubles as an (makes a quote sign) experimental artist although to be fair, I don't think Guanoman could fit in so narrow a space. My own prediliction for this artist kinda comes and goes although I think I've liked more of his material than I've disliked. However, it was in his lounge lizard Mr Robert DeVore personna that the Guanodude dished up for me one of 2005's more memorable tracks. I Blew It is a pastiche crack-me-up spoof on the likes of Lounge singers everywhere, so accurate and so finely balanced between spoof and the real deal that it makes unnerving listening. There again almost everything this artist alights on could bask in the baleful light cast by this most unnerving of artists.

For my money Guanoman is way up their on the weirdo scale - even by Soundclick's very idiosyncratic standard - falling into the same realm as is occupied by the like of Pilesar, drt, Richard Dunlap et al. yep, you can shudder freely at this stage, people often do. 'But Gilmore' you may protest, 'this is just musical junk surely??' Well, I suppose that would depend on which end of the argument you are standing on. At first, I freely admit, a lot of so called experimental stuff went over my head UNTIL I started to really listen to what people were doing - and that came about chiefly through this review process. Like Pilesar, Guanoman has a highly developed sense of what he is about and it takes a bit of time to acclimatise to his particular blend of aural mayhem. As I said earlier, sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't and Goddesszilla may well fall into the latter category.

It's a little runt of a track, sliding under the wire at a puny 1:47 which - given it's highly stylised intro - isn't what you are led to expect. With lyrics like 'I've heard the beauty in her sighs, I've seen the starlight in her eyes, I've felt the magic between her thighs, And it makes me sad, to know that...she's 200 feet tall, breathes fire and eats people' reverberating through your ear canals with gleeful abandon absolutely does not prepare you for the rock influenced maelstrom that erupts around :50 and tears down all the lovely carnal thoughts you have been having about gargantuan lizards as if they were bits of paper in a hurricane. Goddesszilla is essentially an intro and an outro with nothing whatsover in between and - surprisingly enough - I like it that way. Mind you, I often wonder if I have caught something off these experimental people that means I will never look at life in the same way ever again. This track is a bit of a slight Guanoman treat but well worth adding to the list of oddities this man has produced over the years and an example of just how far he can stretch the envelope - ANY envelope...

Guanoman. Not any old birdshit purveyor....

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Stain Online - Little Miss Star

Artist: Stain Online
Title: Little Miss Star

Third time around for Newcastle based 22 year old Hip Hop producer Stain Online. His first track Dancing With Death (October 2005) didn't go down too well with me at all, and then I had to get all critical on his ass. Ultimately I thought that people who like Hip Hip would get something out of it, but not yer Joe Normal average listener. However, Cradle To The Grave (December 2005) buh-lew me into next week and the difference was startling. Where Dancing was pretty much bog standard, hip hop by rote, Cradle To The Grave was a polemic on life delivered in a rocky kinda style that shouted out originality - albeit with a decidely English slant. It was the vocal though (courtesy of the man himself) that caught my ear; he sings like the young Mick Jagger and that can't be a bad thing...

Little Miss Star is pretty much back in the hip hop groove and it is a fact that it will attract Eminem comparisons, but Stain has never let that put him off. Moreover, because of the English slant it may well stick up the crowd a tad. It's also a great example of how healthy and vibrant is the state of English hip hop by being a very detailed account of falling in love with someone who can only love themselves. It also a rap track where - thankfully - the message is delivered without a gun, a ho, a *** or a **** or a mofo in sight and that - to me - means a great deal indeed. I believe English is a beautiful living language and no matter how many cusswords you load into a track, it still wouldn't mean dick if you cannot make the millions of people who speak the language understand wtf you are rapping about. Little Miss Star is a choice peice of UK hip hop that should be heard by as many non hip hop people as possible to show that this genre really does have merit...

On another subject, Stain Online have just released a new EP called Grid Movement which you can find here and thankfully Cradle To The Grave is one of the track on it. However, I also had a listen to a couple of other tracks. Wide Awake At Sundown is essentially on the same level as Little Miss Star and again show just how good a writer this guy is, every bit as good as any of the more 'commercial' rappers and with a damn sight more style too. Do give this track a bit of time to work on you though, you will be glad you did. My Dead Body is a more rocky offering with a slipping, sliding hip hop beat that is as slick as **** off a shingle, with a rocky vocal sample (again from the man I think) that makes it work on a different level. Suffer (This Way) is much more the kind of hip hop track that I personally get into. A huge sprawling track musically, the rap spits out of the speakers with the right degree of venom, and the cuts and rhythm breaks make this - for me anyway - the track that I would pick from Grid Movement, but take a listen to any of the tracks I have mentioned for an example of what Stain Online can bring to your party...

Stain Online, UK hip hop with a point that doesn't have 'breast of ho' attached to it ;)

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Scott - Need Some Help

Artist: Scott
Title: Need Some Help

Another new name to me this month is the easily written Scott. A new MP3 Unsigned artist working in the Contemporary Acoustic field and - as we well know - that listing can encompass a multitude of sins... A home studio musician who - in common with all of us - writes and performs songs because he 'cannot imagine NOT doing it'. Welp, join the club mate because there are MILLIONS of us out here who all think the same thing. I should also make a note here that Scott won first place in MP3 Unsigned's Christmas competition with Loving Someone Else - and MP3 Unsigned judges can be very, very harsh so that says something about what kind of quality to expect from this artist.

It still amazes me how - 30 years after their heyday - The Beatles still inform much of todays generation of musicians and that is the closest reference I can make with this track. In it's arrangement, Need Some Help could well have come from the mid-1960's in it's bright, pop style. In essence this is an unbashed 'feel good' track in the time honoured tradition inspired by the Fab Four that - had this been the summer - would go down a treat into bringing sunshine into peoples lives. Again, I am struck by how far 'home' recording has come in the past few years because - as a real world producer - I am hard pressed to say whether this is or is not 'master' quality. To be sure, the mix and production helps enormously in making this the bright, shining geegaw that it is, but that would be only half the story.

The real secret to the Beatles songs was - of course - accessability. It had to have a sing a long chorus that you could pick up from one listen, and have some great harmonies to go with it and Need Some Help has all of those things. I love a good song, and this track fulfills that need perfectly. It's straightforward, no nonsense approach to the art of crafting a good song makes this track stand out above its contemporaries like beacon on a dark night. As soon as I heard it, I knew this would be living on my hard drive, and I will be sure to check out this very talented songwriter a lot more over the next couple of months. It probably won't appeal to the technoheads out there - and even they may recognise a great track when they hear it - but most of us will get a feeling of warmth and cosiness from this that you won't get from many other so called 'pop' tracks.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Waxko - Deeper

Artist: Waxko
Title: Deeper

The first time I heard this, I wasn't maybe in the right mood because my first thought was wtf?? However, having reviewed Waxko's terrific Heroes Of The Daily Grind (December 2005), an epic peice of electronica that somehow didn't sound even the slightest electronic, I knew that I had to put on a different mindset when listening to this artist. He does things with his music that - for a self taught musician - are pretty startling. Take, for example, the above wtf??? statement. My first thought was that this was just a bunch of store bought samples (even a couple of vocal samples I recognised) slung together in what has become the time honoured fashion.

That seriously underestimates this man's hankering after memorable, stirring melody lines...

To be sure, the intro to this track is kinda disconcerting; a piano peice with added wierdness but as soon as the track opens up it becomes a bombast par excellence with some very stirring sections. To my ears, there was a tendency to use 'stock' sounds - especially on the brass which had a decidely plastic MIDI sound. However, it's the way that Waxko puts these sounds to work that makes this such an intriguing and worthwhile track. For an artist who cites Peter Gabriel and King Crimson, his work has that same 'epic' feel about it, and certainly the virtuosity with arrangement and fluidity that those artists bring to the feast. Be prepared for a long haul though, because there is a lot to take in with this track, as long as your able to get past the sound - which IS somewhat odd...

Nonetheless, it's the music that will eventually get to you, it's mix of fun and serious made a big impact on me after a few plays. At the end of the day, I would have to put my personal gripes (sample sounds, that plastic-y sound on some of the instruments, a bit of pattern repetition) aside and get into what Waxko does best. He fills up an otherwise uninteresting musical pattern with some of the most memorable and stirring melodies you are likely to hear. When the Hammond starts up around 2:20 the tune lifts to a much higher level, but I am a sucker for the Hammond organ sound anyway and therefore heavily biased. I think this track could lose a minute and be much the healthier for it. Nonetheless, as it stands it is so worth the listen, especially if you like that whole melodic thing....

Recommended (with reservations)

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Fluidity - Prediction=Presumption

Artist: Fluidity
Title: Prediction=Presumption

When I reviewed Fluidity's This Time (January 2006) I absolutely loved it. It's musical style, detail and indiosyncratic production put me strongly in mind of early Pink Floyd (in their acoustic moods). It still sits on my hard drive and I play it often so if you haven't heard this little gem yet, I strongly advise you to check it out. Putting this gentle, loping track against Prediction=Presumption is like crushing a butterfly on a wheel. Where This Time has a beauty and liquid grace that fair takes your breath away, Prediction goes about its business by pummelling you into submission with sharp dose of classic rock.

The more I listened to it, the more it put me in mind of the vocal style of The Cure. Mind you, they could NEVER have rocked out like Fluidity, who seems to have special touch for this. Either that or he has taken a great many less downers than Crawley's finest. I'm not exactly sure the vocal production treatment actually works, although the performance and tone certainly do. Maybe a touch too much reverb? No matter though, because when contrasted with the rest of this excellent, very appealing rock dynamo, it's very small change indeed. I said in my first review of this artist that the name really sums up the music; tight, precise and as mobile as mercury, Fluidity deliver with a professionalism that is a joy to experience.

John Paul Carrol (aka Fluidity) has only been around Soundclick a short time but going by the reaction to these two tracks, I don't think it's going to be long before a lot more ears latch on to this New Zealand based musician. For me, the juxtapostion of these two tracks - This Time and Prediction=Presumption - shows that Fluidity is no one-trick pony. He is as at home with a much heavier style as he is with something as light and delicate as This Time. I gave that track a Highly Recommended rating because of it's style, and I do the same with this track. I'd also advise Fluidity to stretch out a bit and cover a few other sites besides Soundclick because there are plenty of sites who would lap up this material (Songplanet and MP3 Unsigned are two instant love matches with Songplanet being the more rock leaning site). Oh, and I'm keeping this track too...

Highly Recommended, rock as it should be...

Steve Gilmore Reviews: The Middlemen - The Middleman

Artist: The Middlemen
Title: The Middleman

Current Mp3 Unsigned darlings The Middlemen are a hip hop duo from Birmingham (here in downtown UK) comprising of Acrosoma and F.Y.B.A Optyk. Although I haven't heard anything from the latter artist I have come across Acrosoma when I reviewed his collab with Disdain - Venom (September 2005). To be truthful, to my ears Acrosoma delivered the better rap; more cohesive and punchier than I expected and decidely with a UK bias. Nothing wrong with that I say. UK Hip Hop is getting to be a very lucrative field these days, especially online and MP3 Unsigned has a nice collection of home grown (to us brits anyway) talent.

Not sure who is doing what on this track, but whatever it is, both artists make a very affecting track; especially when you consider what they are doing musically. To be honest, I was so blown away by the musical content of this track that it took me a while to get past that and really listen to the rap. As the duo say on the blurb for this track 'this is the most radio-friendly track they have' and I echo that to the power of 10. The Middleman is a really terrific melding of the Midlands ska/reggae beats first created by The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat and (bless 'em) UB40. As if that wasn't enough, they then go and add the more modern edgier sounds of ragga to the mix and - for me - that is what singles this track out as being something real, real special. It isn't ALL good, the ending is kinda scrappy and a bit disorganised but that is a small and eminently fixable thing.

I am an absolute sucker for this music, have been since I was a kid myself. I think that is what first attracted me to a rag-tag collection of musicians called The Special AKA from Coventry when I first heard a white label of a track called Gangsters. I was intimately involved with 2-Tone back in the early eighties and have strong ties to the Coventry music scene and The Middlemen have tapped that source of great music with a vengence, and believe me I know what's what on this scene. What it shows to me is that The Middlemen are the real deal - in every single way. If they can create this feeling live, they will be red hot before the end of the year is out. The Middleman is also a great rap about living life in the Midlands of England with the catchiest chorus you are ever likely to hear. As soon as I heard this the first time, let alone when I almost blew my ears off by repeating it ad nauseum, I knew this track would be a keeper for me and maybe even a track of the year for 2006. I know it's a bit early to start talking about this but this is such a strong, capable track I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't a hit before much longer. It definitely bodes well for the upcoming All About Nothing album and I am going to hoover up the rest of their page too.

A Must Have (becos its fekkin' brilliant)

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Tricks For Agnes - Down Rosie Goes

Artist: Tricks For Agnes
Title: Down Rosie Goes

I have to admit straightaway that I am not a big fan of the latest crop of singer/songwriters such as Damien Rice, James Blunt, david Gray et al. Sorry about that, but I like my music with a bit of muscle to it, ya know what I mean? The reason I start out with this kind of proviso is because at least two of those artists feature as influences for Tricks For Agnes. Despite the name, TFA is a Belgian singer/songwriter who works in the pop rock field and is a completely new name to me. Judging by the sparseness of his Soundclick website, he is new to this place too but I guess we shouldn't let that stop us eh?

So obviously I am entering this review with a bias chip on my shoulder a mile wide and the truth is that the track has to go some to get my attention. It wouldn't have succeeded in lesser hands but obviously Trciks For Agnes - although new to Soundclick - is not new to the music making game. Judged by this example, he's a seasoned professional in all respects; recording, arranging and production and - as it happens - he's no mean shakes as a songwriter either because Down Rosie Goes is a slice of music done in the best possible way. Try as hard as I might, I could find nothing in this track that I could sink my critical claws into...

And you KNOW how hard I try to draw a scream from my victims ;)

The simple truth is that Down Rosie Goes is three minutes and change of some of the best pop music you are likely to hear, as polished as it gets. While it's true that TFA's work does sound a little like the artists I've mentioned above, there's a lightness of feeling to the track that couldn't help but bring a smile to the hardest of hearts. The effect is burnished with a production quality that you would be hard pressed to come up with in the real world so for it to come out of a 'home recording' is nothing less than a miracle. To be sure this track piqued my interest in hearing more from this quarter, despite my intense dislike for some of the 'wet' (read soppy) sounds this genre is capable of. If you like the genre then this is a gem and you should clutch it to your bosom immediately. Even if you don't like the genre but can appreciate a good song and classy production, again clutch away. T'ain' that often I get to do this first time out but this is....

Highly Recommended.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Burp - herbst. unser kahn

Artist: Burp
Title: herbst. unser kahn

One of Soundclick's most original artists, Burp has long been one of my prime favourites ever since I first started reviewing on this site. His name, of course, at that time was Emetrics, but the music has always been the same. A brand of experimental electronica that has some intense rhythmic qualities I haven't heard from any other artist - online or off. Suffice to say that my collection of material from this artist is now into double figures and there aren't that many of those lingering on my hard drive. He has also featured in my year end Stevies awards every year since I started them in 2003, and that is no mean feat either. So it goes without saying that anything new from this artist is looked forward to almost as my boys look forward to Christmas...

and they've started talking about that now.... :D

While I was downloading this track for review, I was browsing Burp's message board and I saw the comment 'You're insanely brilliant!! ' and I have to say I agree with that wholeheartedly - both the insanity and the brilliance. Truth is, Burp's music is a clever mixture of both musical insanity and cleverness and I have no hesitation in recommending that you listen to ANY of his tracks. So, what's herbst. unser khan about other than being somewhat Germanic? If you needed to reference my comment about intense rhythmic qualities, listen to the very first twenty seconds or so of this track and all will become clear. No one does it this quite like Burp, although I have known Refrag to get close to it once or twice. Burp is German, and a lot of that countries musical heritage influences this track because it almost instantly put me in mind of something by Kraftwerk.

It should be said, however, that Kraftwerk were nothing like this silly. Unike most Burp tracks this one does have lyrics (of a sort) that are on the website in both German and English, and were inspired by the work of Artur Rimbaud - a French poet and contemporary of Baudelaire, Verlaine and other literary giants of the 18th century. Don't expect then, to have them make much sense because they don't Unless you are talking about pure imagery of course and in that respect they are the brightest of pictures. Like a lot of Burp's finer works, this one will take some considerable time to digest and mull over but already there are large sections of it that appeal to my own sense of of what Burp is about. Not, to my ears, up there with some of his finer - and more accessible - work but eminently worthy nonetheless. One day, my children, all music will sound like this...

Excellent experimental, and it's not often I can marry those two words together.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Stinkfish - Everyone

Artist: Stinkfish
Title: Everyone

When you have an Influenced By... list that names almost the movers and shakers of rock and pop music (including one of my all time favourites Steve Miller), you've either got to have a flaming cheek, or musical chops the size of Gibraltar. Stinkfish appears to be a one man band from not-so-sunny Fairbanks, Alaska working in the acoustic rock (sounds weird I know) genre, so it is something that I would probably like given that I love both acoustic sounds and rock. Stinkfish states on the tracks blurb that this is not a final mix, so I'll try and bear that in mind while I tear him to peices...

Joking!! Joking!!!

For me the highspot of the Steve Miller Band's career was the Sailor album and the beginning of this track instantly put me in mind of that album's first track, Song For Our Ancestors. It soon became apparent that Everyone is a very different thing but nonetheless the inference/influence is definitely there. Everyone is certainly influenced by the early 1970's acoustic rock movement vocally and instrumentally. There's also a roughness about the mix that I probably would have picked up on, if I didn't already know this wasn't a final mix. It doesn't detract from the song's quality overly much, but personally I would have liked to hear the final thing because it IS a track that I found myself liking a lot.

Although the base of the track is acoustic, there is a lot more going on than that, including some well used strings and a Jethro Tull flute line that - to my ears anyway - is a little overused. I would suggest that in the final mix stage that the vocals are worked on in terms of sound level and overall tone because this is a classic rock voice that kinda demands a classic rock treatment. So, overall, I really liked this track but I have to say I would because the genre appeals to me more than most. Maybe someone who was a bit more of an electronica head wouldn't really like it, but more fool them I say. Everyone promioses to be an excellent tarck once completed and I for one would want to hear that final mix. More to the point, it's also an above average song with hooks that work in the old fashioned way; my only real complaint about it is that I would like to see the lyrics uploaded along with the final version.


Steve Gilmore Reviews: Cameron Pierce - More Than That

Artist: Cameron Pierce
Title: More Than That

Way back in November 2003 I reviewed a track called The Road Is Long by a Canadian artist called Latmat, and it made such an impression on me with its Beatle-ish harmonies and instrumentation that it made latmat a name for me to remember. Over the years since, I've consumed several other goodies from this artist, all of the same high quality pop rock. He has featured in evry single one of my Stevie year end awards ever since that time both as Latmat and under his real name Cameron Pierce which he finally adopted last year. I'm sure he is now also breathing a sigh of relief that I managed - after all this time - to finally spell his name right but in my defence I have to say I've always had a problem with the right use of i's and e's in sentences (or in this case apparently, real names too).

The reason for this liking of his music really has to be down to my own love of vocal harmony work a la the Beatles, which Cameron - along with some other Soundclick artists - have made a staple of their own music. It's also down to Cameron being IMHO an excellent songwriter and arranger because the amount of quality songs this man has put out is pure gold. I think at this point in time, almost everything Cameron has released has found its way onto my hard drive and that stickiness is down to his songwriting ability more than any other element of his work. When I first heard More Than That I must admit to a feeling of disappointment and initially I thought that was down to the track being new to me.

However, the more I played it, the more confirmed I became in my opinion that this isn't anything like as strong as some of his previous tracks. It even has an album filler feel about it in its production too, which I must admit is a big surprise because I've always liked what he does technically. To make sure I was right about this, I have played this a lot more than any other track from this artist as part of the review process, and unfortunately I cannot reach any other conclusion. To be sure if you've never heard Cameron's work you may well get interested enough from this track to check out some of his other works, and I strongly suggest you do because he is everything I have made him out to be. We all go through not-so-hot phases, and I have to presume this is one of Cameron's. There again, it's his own fault really for coming up with such killer tracks in the past.

Yeah, that sounds right. Let's all blame Cameron :D

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Pilesar - No Good For Eyeballs

Artist: Pilesar
Title: No Good For Eyeballs

Ever since I reviewed Just a Turtle (September 2004) Pilesar has been essential listening here at Gilmore Towers. From his incredible rock work with Mandible, the dissonance and electronic fuckry of Mosquito Death Squadron and the electronica/experimental supergroup Pulord, Pilesar has shown that he is a (mad)man among pygmies. All this from a guy who labours under the influence of (and I quote) 'sleep deprivation, abandonment issues, feelings of inadequacy, hunger, and student loan debt' Seems to me that whatever he gets involved with Pilesar shows again and again just how unique and wonderful the world of Pilesar is. As a much acclaimed experimental artist, it's a sure bet that Pilesar is not going to be to everyones taste but he certainly fulfills all my wacko needs and when he teams up with fellow loony Guanoman in Pulord, ANYTHING can happen...

Over the year and a half I have known him I have listened to almost everything this incredibly prolific artist has dished up to his unsuspecting public and liked (if not exactly understood) almost everything I have heard. For me to say that about a so called experimental artist is truly mind boggling but there again Pilesar is no ordinary mortal. No Good For Eyeballs was written, recorded and mixed in one day for the Album a Day site CrapArt which is so popular amongst internet weirdos it has an amazing 268 albums already on the site. It's obviously a given that some of them are indeed 'crap art' but I'm not so sure all of them are. After all, as I know only too well, it IS possible to pull together something like this AND have it sound reasonable - despite what some 'perfectionists' may think.

I have to say that it would be best to wear knee and elbow pads and a sturdy helmet when listening to this sub-emo track because it rattles along at a billion miles per second. Yes, I know that you are going to look pretty silly while doing that, but silliness has always been an essential feature of this artists output so I feel if you are going to do a job properly, you might as well go the whole hog. I should also say that you'll need a pretty strong musical stomach to take this in though because it is about as rough and ready as is comes and if the sounds of porn is a problem to you, best to avoid the end because oh oh oh oh yeeeeessssss it's a bit on the naughty side. Whichever side of the fence you come down on with experimental, Pilesar is there complete with his bag of tricks and although I wouldn't EVER want to play this to my Mommy, I may well keep a copy with me for reference. A slight bit of fun yes, but entertaining for all that....

Pilesar. Apply liberally for those grey, gloomy periods when life just plain sucks....

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Ricky Mancini - Area 39

Artist: Ricky Mancini

Title: Area 39

More commonly known as the man with a thousand names. Not sure what is going on with this artist; it could be that he is called Jesterfell or MD-1 Project or even just plain ol' Ricky Mancini. No doubt he'll be along at some point to put us straight on this. I first came across this MP3 Unsigned artist when I reviewed Use Your Noodle (January 2006) which I liked a great deal. It showed great promise and it's mix of dub bass, rocky guitar lines and vocal cut ups made it something a bit more special than the 'experimental' tag it laboured under. I have heard a great deal of experimental artists (they seem to pick me out especially) and in no way would I call this artist that. Mind you, he mixes so much together that I'd be hard pressed to place the genre anyway so I guess any genre will do in a pinch.

One of the things that struck me most about Noodle was the tightness of the production and the same could be said for Area 39, as is evident from the first few kick beats that introduce the track. Much more of a dance style (almost techno even) than his previous track, Area 39 definitely isn't - to my mind anyway - anything even remotely close to experimental and IMHO should be reclassified as such. People have a massive aversion to the experimental tag and I feel this track would be better served under either techno or trance and would definitely get more listeners because - like Use Your Noodle - it is a very decent track indeed both in terms of production and content.

Personally, I don't have a lot of time for either techno or trance but I know a good track in that genre when I hear it and this is such a track. Even an old fart such as Greybrow commented on what a great dance track it was, and being an old fart myself, I can only nod my greying head in acknowledgement. Again the sounds this artist chose, and the classy way he uses them shows that here is someone that definitely needs watching - big things are going to come from this artist, mark my words. As much as I dislike the whole electronic dance thing, there is no denying its power when used correctly and Ricky Mancini (no matter what his name is today) corrals that power as if to the manner born. So much so that I have to give this track one of the best recommendations I can give - as much as it shames me to admit it. Excellent and soooo worthy of a listen or six....

Highly recommended, high energy dance track.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: To Whom It May Concern

Artist: To Whom It May Concern
Title: Like Killing Two Birds With One WMD

Given that I've known of this particular Soundclick artist for over a couple of years, I was quite surprised to discover that I'd only reviewed three of his tracks in all that time. I reviewed A Breath Of Fresh Water in October 2004 and immediately indentified him as one of Soundclicks 'experimental' artists although I did actually like that track, which given the genre is unusual in and of itself. A whole year later I reviewed V (October 2005) and liked that even more, despite its peculiarities (I described it as a cross of Pilesar and Big Ship if you can imagine such a car crash) but it took me some considerable plays to get to the point where I could actually pin it down. Not - however - as difficult to nail down as Rays Of Autumn Light (December 2005) which is a classically scored peice Brandon MacNeil (aka TWIMC) wrote and recorded with his local High School band...

Not one for standing still then, this artist....

Like Killing Two Birds... takes off on an entirely different route again to any of the tracks I have already spoken of. It's billed as being Electronic Industrial and that's pretty much an accurate description so if the genre doesn't interest you, best to stop reading right now. It isn't, as it happens, my favourite way of relaxing either but - to my ears - it's a bit more electronica than industrial so on that score it doesn't shred my hearing the way that most industrial tracks do and for that I say a hearty thanks to Brandon. Actually, its surprisingly musical considering the genre but still with its share of biscuit tin drums, I beam crashes, and all the speed and dash of a runaway locomotive. Because of my past experience with this artist I have learned to exercise a little caution when coming to a fresh track. I've found that it's always best to give this artist a much longer time to work its magic on you, and I suggest you do the same - this is not a one listen and you are hooked kind of track.

The real pull of this track - at least for me - comes from something it took me a considerable amount of plays to ferret out. Underneath all the sturm and drang of the genre, there is a really subtle musical process going on which comes from some sort of plucked keyboard line that isn't immediately apparent from a single play. That keyboard line informs the rest of the track and - for my money anyway - raises this slightly above other tracks in the genre. It's also yet another indication that TWIMC is not an artist to be taken at face value as I've discovered over the course of the last couple of years; there is a lot more going on under the bonnet than is immediately apparent. I am still waiting for the track from this artist that is going to be a crossover track for him but - on this showing - I get the feeling that it isn't all that far off.

Steve Gilmore Reviews:Gare - Back Home

Artist: Gare
Title: Back Home

Before we get started on this artist I feel it only fair to warn you that his influences are definitely on the folky side and I know how that can make some people nervous. Moreover when you mention beards (oops sorry, did I say beards?, I mean people of course) such as John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot and Dan Fogelberg in the same breath some people can get positively apoplectic (definition: furious or enraged) which is a hell of a lot easier word to use to describe the foaming at the mouth such names usually bring on. I've also never been a big fan of folk (or of any of the three gentlemen mentioned) but I am a big fan of the acoustic guitar which when used in the right hands can be a superlative instrument.

I know Gare (aka Gary Teed) has been on tenterhooks waiting for this review to come out so let me put him out of his misery before we go any further. Gary, I've heard a lot, lot worse than this very enjoyable track and I don't even LIKE the genre, so now you can relax for a minute while I talk to the rest of the guys OK? Truth is, Back Home is a damn sight better than Gary led me to believe, even though the arrangement is folky sparse (ie guitar, vocals and nuffink else), the guitar sound and his distinctive vocal treatment more than make up for any lack of other instrumentation. Vocally, I have to say I am impressed. The man has a good voice; deep and soulful (if such a word can be applied to the folky side of the street) and his guitar playing is nothing if not tasteful. There are a great many artists who think a likkle strum on the guitar counts as 'accompaniment' but Gare doesn't fall into that trap at all.

What really sorts this track out for me though is the winsome 'oohs' of the backing vocals which give this track - to my ears at least - a classy, intriguing sound, despite my antipathy towards the whole folky thingamajig. Although I can take into account the man's liking for John Denver there is nothing like a JD feel to this track, as I suspect that the Gordon Lightfoot side of things really informs this track. I was about this close (makes a thumb and forefinger gesture) to keeping this track because of it but my dislike of the genre eventually dissuaded me from such a foolish venture. However, it does bode well for future releases from this excellent singer/songwriter. So if what I've described sounds good to you, do go and take a listen because I'm sure you will like it as much as I did. If however what I have described gives you a bad case of the heaves, best to avoid I say.

Recommended (good song, beautifully delivered and sung).

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Shorthand Phonetics - Everybody Knows...

Artist: Shorthand Phonetics
Title: Everybody Knows Every Romance Needs An Astro Tower

Considering that English is not this bands first language (they are from Jakarta, Indonesia), they certainly don't give that impression if you went purely by their song titles. As well as the above tome, the first three tracks on their Soundclick page are Real Equivalent of Shampoo (Sugar Maliciously...) and Aftermath of Losing Hope, the Concept and the Girl. If that doesn't do anything for you, try She Was My Fixation Until She Threw A Foreign Object At Me (!!). Obviously desperate to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest song titles known to man, what else can this band of 16-17 year olds do?

Well, they make some damn fine music, for a start.

It is very heartening to see other reviewers struggling as much as me with this band because they ARE an incredibly difficult band to listen to, and harder still to give a meaningful review to. Personally, I like this band a lot - and so do many other reviewers I've noticed - and the reason for that is because they are that little bit special. I've liked them ever since I reviewed Whistleblower back in July 2004 despite some horrendous sound problems that have dogged them since forever. Strangely enough, Everybody Knows... is probably the first track where I can say, in all truthfulness, that THIS is a lot closer to the kind of production I have been expecting from this band in all this time. Sure, it's still a bit rough around the edges and the sound itself is a bit blurry, but all the instruments are balanced well and the spirit of the songs comes across exceptionally well.

It's in the songwriting that this band has always scored big with me. With great tracks like Green Apple Garden, All Too Platonic, This Goes Out To The Sweet and Niave and many others, Shorthand Phonetics have risen above their sonic problems time and time again and delivered some very hot slices of their own brand of magic along the way. Everybody Knows... is a direct descendant of a lot of the tracks I have mentioned, it being - in this case - a late 1960's throwback full of vaguely spacey lyrics, a vocal delivery that is early Pink Floyd in its twee sound and a huge musical backdrop to work itself out on. Obviously, this being a SP track and all that entails, you will probably have to give it some time to register on your ears and mind but when it does I think you will find that it has all the qualities of some of their best work and - as I say - a much improved overall sound, even though I felt the lead guitars kinda got buried waaaaayyy too much. Great track though, and shows that maybe SP are back on track after 2005's descent into the world of teenage angst.

Recommended, but with some gripes still about the sound....

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Black Zarak - Delightmare

Artist: Black Zarak
Title: Delightmare

According to the boys in the band (Thomas J and Patrick of Melton Mowbray fame) Delightmare is their hit single. Alrighty then.... Taken from the album Daddy Long Legs, it features Thomas on computers and Patrick on guitar. Just in case none of this is making any sense to you let me point out that both of these artists have doings outside of Black Zarak; Thomas J with SFI and The Men From San Deigo and Patrick Mowbray.

Oh, and experimental is a good word to throw into the argument right now too...

The first thing that may register on your mind when you fire this up is that it's almost seven and a half minutes long. I have to say whenever I see tracks of this length my heart sinks. There aren't that many indie artists who can sustain your interest over that span of time - whether you like the genre or not. Unfortunately, Delightmare cannot do it either because a) it's too lightweight and b) because its not a very interesting instrumental. Moreover, it has some serious (and I mean SERIOUS) volume issues where the organ lead lines completely overpower the track, your ears and - as a byproduct - blow your damn speakers. Surely to God, I ask myself, Thomas of all people should have grasped this essential fact by now.

Judging by this sample, apparently not.

If I have to be truly honest in my description of this track I would be compelled to write that it is pretty much an instrumental jam between that organ lead and some guitar noodling. All in all, although it may interest the players I doubt very much whether it is going to impress many listeners at all. However, all nit picking aside the main problem with this track is the increasingly irritating (and completely unacceptable IMHO) volume levels which merely serve to make the listener so mad, they will probably turn the track off rather than subject themselves - or their speakers - to any more abuse. I had much the same problem with the last track I reviewed from this band, this playing around with volume controls business as well as the instrumental noodling. Jailhouse Cock (December 2005) was also an extended jam with some serious volume issues and I was forced to state - quite baldly - that I didn't like the track. The same goes for this track. Either I don't understand it, or I do and that's the reason I can't even get anywhere near close to it. Doing things like this track MAY sound clever to you (the artist) but to me (the listener) it's nothing but a pain in the butt. It isn't clever, it isn't funny, and it certainly isn't anything like I would consider experimental. It's just painful.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Fear 2 Stop - A Moment Of Truth

Artist: Fear 2 Stop
Title: A Moment Of Truth

Billy (Castillo, one third of F2S) and I have had lots of moments of truth over the past few years and - bless the guy - he never gets bitter or twisted about any of it. Sure it may sting a bit at the time but you cannot fault an artist that takes the amount of abuse this guy takes and STILL keeps coming back for more. Truth is, I almost HATE to see F2S in my review list because like other members of the 'experimental' Soundclick crowd, I feel compelled to spell out EXACTLY what I feel about this or that track. To say that this must be a bit hard to take is a massive understatement. Having been on the recieving end of some vitriolic abuse myself from time to time, I know how much that can hurt and for sure, you can NEVER become used to it.

The overwhelming area of criticism has always been in production and instrumentation sounds and although the production has improved enormously over the past year or so, I still felt obliged to get serious about the last track I reviewed - and in much the same area too. A Moment Of Truth is an older track (first uploaded in December 2003) and it's surprising that I haven't heard it until now... Funnily enough, it's a very listenable track without too much of the usual F2S weirdnesses creeping in to gum up the works. Although I put that down to it's shortness as much as its general tone, there is a lot to be said for this track and it's odd 'soundtrack' quality.

Billy - and fellow bandmates wife Dana and friend Raymond Proseus - have a tendency to use lots of string sounds and - as is shown in this example - hammered and/or plucked sounds. Not that there is anything wrong with these sounds, used in the right context, and often it can be the making or breaking of the track. However, here is a Fear 2 Stop track that definitely hangs together in its own right, none of the instruments try to take over the whole show and it's even got a halfway decent melody development to it. It's also surprisingly listenable too, which is not something I have have been able to say too much about this band, so it makes a change to be less of a butt muncher than normal. F2S are presently working on some new material - as if the 109 tracks on their page is not enough - and I look forweard to hearing what new directions they will go in over the next few months. However, if you want an example of what F2S do, I'd say this track was a good a starting place as any.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Cam's Evensong - Waiting For The Lady

Artist: Cam
Title: Waiting On The Lady

Cam has been one of my favourite Soundclick artists for a while now, mainly because he always delivers tracks that are well crafted, excellently performed (albeit in a home recorded environment)and - more than anything else - SONGS that have a clear structure and point. I've always been a sucker for a good song, and over the past few months Cam has provided some very, very good examples of his art; an ever changing kalidoscope that ranges from the Beatle-ish to his more Bob Dylan inspired later material. For example I heard Just the Truth - On Christmas around a month or so ago and it's Dylan tone and energy absolutely blew me away and instantly transferred itself to my keeper file.

Cam also has a very indentifiable sound, from his vocals mainly but also in the way he handles the musical side of things. To be sure there is a decided American feel to his music (even though he is Canadian) but that doesn't detract from the power of his music, merely localises it. There is a great deal of rubbish written in Europe about how set in its ways American music is, but I don't think that. Judging by Cam's output (and his fellow musicians), it's alive and well and in the rudest of health on the internet. The amount of Cam tracks that have found their way onto my hard drive is an indication of that because although I like a lot of tracks on Soundclick there are very few that I actually keep. I've reviewed lots of Cam's stuff and although I don't like particularly his lighter side, I do like the times when he is dealing with tough subjects because that's where his real talent comes to the surface - as a talented, thoughtful and often intense lyricist.

Waiting On The Lady is based around a theme many of us will be extraordinarily familiar with; namely waiting for our significant others to get ready to do whatever it is we are waiting for them to do (go to dinner/party/movies/etc) Why is that? I think that is a question that has reverberated down the ages with no significant changes from one generation to the next, and STILL no answer in sight. Unfortunately. to my ears, Waiting... is more of the lighter side of Cam's work and not really to my taste although lyrically it couldn't be more spot on. Take, for example, the first four lines: I’ve been waiting on the lady, I’ve been waiting too long. I’ve had time to write a novel, let alone to write a song! Pure Cam through and through. Even though I found the tune pretty lightweight I'm sure that the many Cam fans will find lots to approve of in this extremely likeable track. I'll just content myself with his back catalog until the next hummer comes along from this very talented songwriter.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Jono - Imperfect

Artist: Jono
Title: Imperfect

This is my third Jono track in as many months and although I didn't particularly go for his last effort Sunrise In Dystopia (January 2006) I really enjoyed the track before that Spread The Sickness (December 2005). That's pretty much been the story for Jono and me really; sometimes yes, sometimes no. However, seeing as Jono (real name Johnathon Cruz) is just 15 or so, I don't think he has anything to worry about just yet. Even electronica musicians have to learn sometime - despite what some people might say. Again, though, I stipulate that this isn't my favourite genre by a good way, but as always, I'll try my best...

Imperfect is, I believe, Jono's entry into the recent Christmas competition over at MP3 Unsigned, at least it is judging by the blurb on his webpage. From the first couple of plays I found myself liking the melody that is really the bedrock of the track, if not the whole track itself, because it does seem to all revolve around the central piano peice that it starts with. Mind you, it's a very good melody, but to my ears it kinda gets a bit too much in your face after about the third play because almost five minutes of the same riff - no matter what the genre - is usually more than enough thank you. For my money, I would have preferred a slightly more nuanced version of it a bit later in the track. For sure, it would have helped lift it up a bit after the three minute mark.

Again, I can cut younger artists a break when dealing with the material side of things (track construction, arrangement etc) because that takes a long time to learn how to do well but when it comes to the presentation (instrumentation, sounds, mix) I find it much harder to do. The reason for this is that in this high speed world of ours downloads are impulse moves. A case of 'oooh, that's cool hit download' that the production on this track (no matter how good the melody) throws away. There is - to my ears - a fair bit sonically wrong with this track, some of which I believe is intentional (the distortion on the piano for example). As good as that may sound when the track is red hot off the press, it will STILL sound like a mistake to the person who has no idea what was going through the composers mind while creating it. Still, it IS a very decent melody...

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Shadowville Productions

Artist: Shadowville Productions
Title: Artist Overview

Meanwhile, down in the Soundclick forums, it's 'wake up and smell the coffee' time... :D

For those who frequent this place, they will be only too well aware of the amount of posts jabbering on about 'the charts' and the amount of supposed 'gaming' that goes on around here. It was from one of these posts that I first encountered Shadowville Productions. 'What is it with these geezers' was the general thrust of the post so I went for a look. Where most of my friends and people I know are worrying about getting over 100k plays, these guys (Shadowville Prods) are looking at almost [b]six million[/b] plays!! Yep, could have knocked me down with a feather when I saw that. It's certainly one of the highest stats I have ever seen on Soundclick and considering they have only been at this for a year, it's absolutely remarkable.

So remarkable that I wanted to check it out more...

Two things mitigate these guys being 'gamers' as it were. Firstly, take a look at the HUGE list of stations playing their material and - most telling of all - listen to some of their tracks. To be sure, being in the hip hop genre is going to help to raise your play figures but nothing like the amounts we are talking about. I took a listen (and download) of five tracks; Bow Down To Kingz, Fresh, Eve Part II, What Made Me and Move That Thang and after listening to them for a while I have to say that Shadowville Productions may very well be the real deal - certainly as far as the professionalism of their music is concerned even if they do just 'supply beats' Well, in my world, there's beats and beats, ya know...?

One track in particular, Eve Part II, absolutely blew me away from the very first note and showed just WHY this outfit are so popular. To be sure I've heard an awful lot of hip hop on (and off) Soundclick but nothing as slick (both in production and performance) as this - an absolutely [i]different[/i] slant on a much abused genre. The string work, and the exaggerated beats in particular were a joy to hear. Bow Down To Kingz is pretty much what you might have expected had you happened across this artist in the normal course of events, heavy beat laden hip hop, very dependent on synth lines, swooshes and claps but produced to within an inch of its life. Fresh is exactly what it says, a producers dream; a beat that slides all over the shop, orchestral samples that have been tweaked to death and a rhythm that just won't quit on ya. What Made Me is - again - pretty much yer standard hip hop track but what sets it apart (also again) is the producers knack of using exactly the right sound and beat structure to construct something that sure sounds like a lot of other things but is also so different in style and tone it's a revelation. It was the Parisian flavour of Move That Thang that finally convinced me that Shadowville were really the real deal and has since become a permanent fixture on my daily playlist. For my money, it's convincing enough proof that these guys REALLY are that popular.

Aye, beats for sale Jim lad, but not as we've know them. Very special indeed.