Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Heath Houston - Cinammon Valerie Angel

Hear The Track Here

It was probably unfortunate that the first thing that fell into the festering pit I call a mind when I first started to hear this was the refrain from Cinammon Girl by Neil Young. I have compared this artist before to the Beatles (a little in sound) and the work of Jeff Lynne and the Travelling Wilburys - a well loved strain of American acoustic rock that I have loved ever since I first stumbled across Buffalo Springfield a million years ago. I see nothing to change my mind on that score with Cinammon Valerie Angel because it's in the right pocket stylistically... Oh dear, this isn't going to go very well is it? There's definitely a castigatory feel to my voices, isn't there?

Why are you looking at me like that? Don't we all hear voices??

Cinammon Valerie Angel is a song about his 'gorgeous girlfriend' (his words but she is yummy) but don't get the hankies out just yet because there's a bit of rough road right ahead. Chaotic from the start, the track has a rough charm enabling you to see what kind of track it could be. Heath says in the song comments that there is a lot of experimentation going on in this song, and I suspect that's true in many ways. He also says he was immersed in the Beatles Revolver album while making this and I can see shades of that album in every nook and cranny of this track. A difficult task I'll grant you, and more power to Heath for even attempting to take on such a technically difficult area. I'm amazed that it stands up as well as it does, even through the rough spots and there are a few of those.

Unfortunately, to my ears, it falls at the first fence, and that coloured the rest of my judgement for a good while. The opening lines (arguably the most important) fail to convince and even noticeably unsure in a couple of places; the voice kinda wandering onto the note rather than hitting it immediately. After that, the track doesn't really do it for me until the first chorus kicks in. The backing vocals come out of this with the most kudos because although they are a little forward in the mix, they are just right - and that's what makes this track listenable too. It's in the main lead vocal that I have the most problems with. There's a distinct lack of the kind of authority needed to carry a track this strong. However, it IS a very worthwhile effort and with some tightening up of sound, delivery and arrangement and this would be a shoo-in must have (a personal preference ya see).

Breezy, charming and flawed attempt at a genre I love but worth listening to.

Steve Smith - Mylanta and Coke

Hear The Track Here

Me deja vu sense informed me from the get go that it wouldn't be easy this time. For a start, the plotline had an awfully familiar ring to it. Had I been here before, or was it a similar experience? Rock Instrumental is what it says on the label but the comment about 'a theme from a non-existent 1975 TV Police drama' was ringing bells before you could say Quasifekkinmodo. Surely, I thought, I've reviewed this? I wandered through the dusty shelves of the Gilmore Grotto and finally unearthed a review I did of a track called Protect Then Shoot (January 2006) and the connection was made. Protect The Shoot was a little pipsqueak of a tune at :30 seconds and was billed as a 'quasi-soundtrack for a fictional '70's cop show' Mmmm, sound familiar?? Could this, then be PTS's big brother? All grown up into a real tune? It weighs in at 2:05 so it certainly counts...

I'll drop all this private dick talk now before I make a public dick of myself...

There is no doubting that when Steve goes for a specific thing, he usually nails it right on the money and what I can remember of Protect Then Shoot was that it did sound convincing enough, if a bit of a prick tease. Again on that score, I can't fault Steve's dedication to the period detail, you can almost see the pilot episode by listening to the track. It's full of cute little 70-isms, the use of strings as leads, wah wah working up a head of steam and a kick drum that sounds as sharp and clear in your ears as you would expect from the genre. The weird thing is that I normally don't like this kind of material and I certainly couldn't abide it when it was first happening, but I guess everything mellows with time.

For a short track, it doesn't seem like a two minute experience. Steve packs so much into those two minutes you spend the first few plays just gawping at the sounds whipping by. Stylistically this is pretty much perfect and I'm not sure what Mr Smith has been up to in his basement but this seems to sound much better, fatter in production terms than anything I have heard so far. Usually when someone does these 'remember this...' tricks, it only really appeals to other musicians - most 'normal' people would just go 'oh' and get on with mugging their neighbours. There's a freshness and bounce to this track that is inescapable though that gets it above the 'retro' parapet enough so that even Joe Schmoe would probably get a charge out of. An interesting and viable musical challenge sure enough - as Steve will testify - but it's so much more satisfying that it should interest anybody.

Smell the fumes!!! See the Afros!!! Beat people up and then kill them!!!

All human life is there...

Paul Rowland - Serpentine Soliloquy

Hear The Track Here

Last track out of the bag this month is a new name to me and is (and I quote) ' a heady mix of metal with goth undertones combined into a powerful song about the oral arts' OoooK. Paul is a heavy metal goth type from Memphis TN so slap on some black lipstick and eye shadow and let's go explore the netherworld. I can't say that my definition of the word 'heady' and Pauls are going to coexist very well but there is certainly an atmosphere to Serpentine Soliloquy that keeps up the interest - especially if you are into the whole doom, gloom and despondancy thing.

Surprisingly enough, lyrically anyway, the track appears to be a love song - or very strong lust, I'm not sure which. The musical backing is anything but. A scrapyard at night maybe, with patrolling rottwielers and the occassional Demon of the Dark as light entertainment. Dark as a witches tit even - as the old saying goes. I find that you really have to be into this whole 'black is the new black' thing to really get any kind of enjoyment out of the genre but it is helped by my having a liking for some decent classically heavy metal to hold up it's rotting bones.

The truth is, if you do like the genre, you will very much like this track. As doomy and dark as any other track in the genre, Paul carries the whole thing off with considerable skill. He gives the track a Cure-like production mentality, harbours that to a distinctly 4AD vocal delivery and some very deft guitar strokes to ensure he is getting the point across. OK Paul, I got that message and I'm wearing the T-shirt right now; this is an artist who doesn't NEED a band - he is one. Although the genre doesn't really appeal to me that much, the musical chops certainly does and I'd like to hear more from this artist - hopefully with less of a black cloud attached to it...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Spencer Beasley - Doctors, Lawyers and Politicians

Hear The Track Here

Sounding suspiciously like a character fresh out of Hogwarts via Harry Potter (sorry Spencer gotta start somehow...) Spencer Beasley is a new name to me and - as it happens - a 16 year old acoustic guitarist from Florida. Now when I say acoustic guitarist, I mean 'xact'ly that. Now when I was recording my own songs like this, I would have been proud to have come up with something like this, and I recognise the work Spencer has put into this very enjoyable track. Providing that you like acoustic guitar and a dab o' vocals of course. There's a definite 'boominess' on the recording that is almost off putting but if you can put this aside you may very well enjoy this track.

Uh, oh. I bet you think I'm getting ready to unload on somebody right now eh?

The point is, I DO like what Spencer is doing here, in a very, very lo-fi kinda way. There are, however, certain things it's impossible to keep quiet about. Uploading material like this does has certain advantages to the artist; it gives them exposure they wouldn't have otherwise gotten, it gets them much needed comments from every peanut gallery in town and much more importantly it gets them comments that may be of some use. First off, let's talk about what the guy is doing right. Doctors is a really good song, although it's performed in a decidely unsure way. Some of the chord structures are of passing interest to another guitar player, but outside that there are too many other things weighing on the negative side.

I'll sum it up in one word: competition. Soundclick is a HUGE music site with thousands and thousands of different indie artists of all stripes, and some of them are so good it's positively poo making. I mean, have you heard some of the tracks you are up against? What we hear on Doctors, Lawyers and Politicians is the bare bones of what appears to be a really good song delivered in the most basic 'demo' way. Where the internet WILL pay off for budding artists like this is to put together people to make music. Spencer Beasley is a good songwriter and arranger who is looking for a production team to shape and define his musical vision. If he gets that, this could turn into some serious business. Definite potential but way too lo-fi to garner much interest outside friends and family.

To Whom It May Concern - Pop My Words With Your Teeth

Hear The Track Here

As I explained when I was reviewing Like Killing Two Birds With One WMD (February 2006), To Whom It May Concern is a difficult artist to pin down. Although he essentially cavorts in the 'experimental' sector there is a lot more to this artist than the usual mish-mash that masquerades as that genre. He hasn't, at this point, delivered a track that I feel is worthy of his reach but - as I've also said before - I just think that is a question of time. Certainly as far as ideas go the guy has truckloads, some that work and some that don't but always something of interest...

Pop My Words is as different from what came before as to make you wonder what exactly this guy DOESN'T do. From high school bands through indie/alternative out to the wilder reaches of experimental, nothing seems beyond him. In tone though, Pop My Words could be a logical offshoot of the lo-fi V (October 2005) than anything else I have heard from him. Therefore, it's a safe bet to say if you like the whole Big Ship approach to acoustic music making then you will probably latch onto this track pretty quick. I think this track is more poppy than Big Ship and certainly this song sounds as commercial as anything in the genre, if a little rough and ready.

Again though, giving a track a little time to settle in your brain brings other things to the fore. It wasn't until I had played this track a considerable amount of times that I noticed how musically proficient it was. That's definitely a fault of the lo-budget production and mix, and also a bit of excitement on the musicians part - they do tend to rip into it with fearsome abandon. Nonetheless, it does show that Brandon McNeil (aka TWIMC) can consistently do the business - even if everything he does is completely different from everything else he does. If you know what I mean? No hold on, do I know what I mean? Pop My Words is a class song encased in a rough as a bears bum production that you will either 'get' or not. Me, I likee, I keepee...

Recommended (for the song and lyrics)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

HELLbus - Lift

Hear The Track Here

Charles Dickens wrote a book all about people like me. The words 'tight', 'fisted' and 'mean' are casually thrown around in my presence, along with some choice swear words indicating a fascination with fornicating with various objects. I prefer the term thrifty myself, prudent even. After all, I ALWAYS wait until the moths are dead before opening my wallet. Anyway, the reason I'm banging your aural bits about money is that my first experience of HELLbus revolved around money. Specifically the wodge of wonga required to own the delights of a track called Table Fate (January 2006). It had the dubious honour of being the first Soundclick track I had reviewed that people had to pay (99c) to own. I was itching to unload a diatribe of lengendary proportions on some unsuspecting rube who had tried to foist a musical abortion on us unsuspecting victims. As it happened, I never got the chance. Table Fate is a devastatingly good track, and worth every penny of those 99 Red Balloons.

No, hold on, that's not right is it?

No such shenanigans with this track as you can see by the download link and I strongly urge you to do that and clutch this little beauty to your bosom. The thing that most impressed me about Table Fate was the sheer production and arranging skills and that same quality permeates Lift. This is an artist who takes great pains to make everything just so, then allies that with great songwriting nous to come up with songs that are interesting, different and very, very refreshing. Lift is that rare thing, a wordy song and the music fits that stream of conciousness feel beautifully. Considering the lyrical overload, you'd imagine the track would go like the clappers to fit them all in. However, it's one of those lazy bastard tracks that sounds as if its just got out of bed, and only when the chorus kicks in does the whole thing take off. HELLbus have blown my ears off twice in a row now and with the same tools every time.

There are a few electronica artists around Soundclick who surprisingly enough have a highly developed pop sensibility (Adam Fielding is one who springs immediately to mind, melv is another) and HELLbus show all the hallmarks of that trait. There is an epic, large scale approach to this track so - outside of the chorus - don't expect to crack it straight away. It's a track that will take time to work its wonders on you, but I have no doubt it will do that. Skill is one thing, talent is another. Most musicians have one or the other but HELLbus has bags of both. Just take a listen to the opening few bars of this track, once you get pounded by that beginning, it's a sure bet that you'll make it to the chorus and believe me no-one is gonna survive that chorus. Absolutely as good as anything I've heard on SC or anywhere else; HELLbus has made a significant impact on me in the space of two tracks, all gained because of a mind boggling combination of talent and musical artistry.

Modern Pop in the finest tradition. I defy anyone to resist this chorus. MUST HAVE.

Martin Gallagher - Hypocrite

Hear The Track Here

I first came across this contemporary acoustic artist when I reviewed his excellent By Your Side (December 2005), a track to commemorate his father. A track every bit as touching as it sounds and also one of the sweetest acoustic tracks I have heard in a good while - and it's a ballad. What surprised was the quality on display on this track, instrumentally and vocally Martin Gallagher knows how to deliver a song with honesty, passion and considerable skill. Admittedly the subject matter helped to make the track for me because there were some slight flaws in the track but what can you expect from one man and his geeetar...? Nonetheless, the track still pulled at the right strings and that is what really counts in my books.

You will notice that Hypocrite has a Parental Advisory and that is because there are several swearwords - after all it's about people f****** with you right? To my ears, this doesn't come with the impact that By My Side did. Although the sound is bigger, with more going on; it's all a bit formal for me. I don't know, maybe a drum track in there would have made it happen more. I can certainly see where Martin intended to go with this track and in some respects he's done that very well. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the punch it should and the glaringly missing link is the right back line (drums n bass mon...). The arrangement is fine and should in fact work, provided it was pinned down within a more structured framework.

I'm not sure I'm that happy about the vocal on this track either. Again, it works really well when it's happening but there are several sections when I feel the vocal slightly misses the mark. As a seasoned 'home recording' producer I am only too well aware of how difficult it is too inject passion and authority into a lyric when you can't sing too loud because of your Mum in the next room. Or something similar, anyway. The vocal has that tentative feel about it and in the 'I got it wrong' refrain I think the reverb was very noticeable. After a veritable shopping list of niggles and gripes it may surprise you to know that I do like this track, there are a lot of things right with it too. The backing vocals are very cool, and what they are doing is just wonderful. Some of the added instrumentation was also excellent. When all is said and done though, the song again wins out, despite my moaning and groaning. Hypocrite is an excellent song, although it is IMHO a work in progress...

Friday, March 24, 2006

H Project - Nocturnal Highways

Hear The Track Here

I know I am a pain in the butt but am I the only person in the world who gets the cold shivers when I see the words electronica and mellow in the same sentence? H Project is a new name to me, an electronic artist from the beautiful capital of Ireland, Dublin itself which goes some way towards helping to dissapate those same cold shivers I was talking about earlier. Dublin is a charming city, full of life and energy and a long established reputation (deservedly) of being a music city of some considerable renown.

So, what does H Project bring to that image then???

Well, a track that isn't exactly as mellow as some I have come across for a good start. Structurally, Nocturnal Highways isn't anything special to write home about - it's the kind of track you have heard a few million times by now. Especially if electronica is your favourite food of choice. To be sure there is a worthwhile rhythm and pace to the track that makes it listenable but - even after more than a few plays - there really isn't anything that sticks out of the track screaming 'keep me!! keep me'. So I won't ;P Nonetheless, there isn't anything here that is what you could call out of place, in fact it's a very neat, clean track in lost respects.

Almost doesn't quite cut it in my books though and I'd want to hear a lot more originality and style to really get me hopping about. While it's true that I do hear a great deal of this kind of material there really aren't that many artists who make it an interesting experience - and even less who can make it a SEVEN minute one. However, there is enough potential in this track both technically and performance that would make me want to listen to more from this artist. After all, just because I didn't particularly get close to this track, he has enough going on and shows some decent musical chops that I feel he would be well worth checking out more. Even more so if the mellower side of electronica is what floats your musical boats. Be aware though, that the ending is sharp enough to cut your head off...

Alchemystic - The Tower Of Twilight

Hear The Track Here

I was lucky enough last month to get a sneak listen to Beyond the Borders of Reality a track from his new album and was absolutely blown away by it. In fact, over the past year or so, I think this artist has come on in leaps and bounds, and if the track is any indication the album is going to be a feast for the ears and no mistake. While it's true that soundtracks are the name of the game here, they can also be class peices of music. Music is music right? No matter what form it takes. In my world there are only two kinds of music; good and bad. I know that good and bad are - of course - personal choices and what I like often makes others blow chunks but that's life...

When I first started making and releasing computer music, one of my prime influences was a guy known as Dr Awesome. This guy had a magic touch. He was able to distill the funkiest grooves and yet somehow fit them into the smallest files possible. Try making a tune that was no bigger than 160k and you'll see what I mean. Most people these days feel quite proud if their efforts come in under 160MB. Dr Awesome soon adopted his birthname as an artist name and became an even bigger legend than he already was. These days almost anyone who has been around computer music knows of Bjorn Lynne, and if you haven't shame on you. One of the finer musical talents to come out of the internet so far IMHO. The reason I am yabbering on about this guy is because it's in that style that Alchemystic's new album is made in and if there is anyone who can pull this off, it would be this artist.

The Tower of Twilight is much more a soundtrack than say Beyond The Borders was, so you will need to bring a tolerance for the genre with you to be able to really enjoy it. Whichever way you look at it though, Alchemystic has a touch for this kind of semi-classical, epic feel, wide screen treatment that tracks like The Tower Of Twilight require and a deft touch at choosing the right sounds to make it with too. Although I could never - in all honesty - say I was a big fan of this kind of music, I can state that I am becoming a big fan of Alchemystic's work even in genres I don't really like that much. I have to say that I find more in his more modern work than I do with any of his cinematic work, but nonethless this artist just has to be reckoned with if you want to know what is happening on Soundclick.

Classy and stylish; not exactly John Williams but close, oh so close....

Mark Alexander - After The Rain

Hear The Track Here

A new name from MP3 Unsigned Mark Alexander is a contemporary acoustic artist (but don't mention the folk word OK because that just makes him angry) and if Deggsy likes him (which he does) then he's quids in. The reason I know Deggsy likes him is because he said so in the song comments and the man knows his stuff so it's an even bet that this artist veers towards the easy listening side of the spectrum, and Deggsy likes the smooth stuff. As much as the comments come up time and again with the old 'this sounds like the Beatles' routine, I couldn't see that at first because I was too busy goggling at the beautiful piano structure.

This is some nice pee-anny playing and no mistake...

If it is in any form reminiscent of the Beatles, he has to be one the Mcartney side because there are shades of Macca all over this track; from the classic arrangement to the instrumentation. Best guess has to be The Long and Winding Road which has a similar feel. Considering that this is home recorded and produced this is a very tasty slice of production values; clean, clear sound, beautifully rounded tones (particularly the piano) and despite the fairly crowded outro nothing steps on anything else's toes. That, my friends, is a really difficult trick to pull off in a studio let alone in any home recording environment so - on that score alone - After The Rain is worth a serious listen.

I'm an absolute sucker for a good song, and I don't particularly care what genre it's in. That means a beginning, a middle and and end; with good, intelligent lyrics and vocals that put across those lyrics with meaning and conviction. Although I personally could have done with a little more meat on the individual instruments, I couldn't find anything really wrong with this track and an indecent (nay obscene) amount of things that are so right it'll make you puke. Not sure about the sugary pathos this track wallows in, but by gum if I were Mark Alexander I would be feeling pretty smug right around now because this is a great song, extremely well done on all counts. Believe me, I TRIED real hard to find something amiss with this track but that ****** is just too good. A very welcome introduction to an artist I'll be wanting to hear more of.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

One For The Vine - Far Beyond The Plains

Hear The Track Here

Yesh pleashh, don' min' 'f I do....(hic)

Not anything to do with liquid refreshment of course, the title of this artist comes from an old Genesis track which should be setting your prog rock siren warning off quite nicely by now. Mind you, judging by the list on his SC page this guy has more kit than God so I suppose I'd better play nice so that he invites me round to his house. Then I'll nick acouple of bits - he won't notice. Most of you know by now that my almost constant barracking of artists such as Sylvan & Bonamici (who started in the same manner but became soooo much more) and Theilus Grenon (ditto) know that I have a very low prog rock threshold. In fact I think it would be true to say no threshold whatsoever. Nonetheless I have found in both these artists that I did like so if I can do it with them I can do it with OFTV right?

Don't look so nervous OK? It'll frighten 'em off...

Within the first few bars of the track I felt my hair tightening into a mullet and my oh so elegant jeans metamorphosing into flares - much to my horror. I did used to like a band called Caravan back in the day and - at first - the opening section of this track reminded me most strongly of this outfit. Quickly followed by Camel so I discounted that idea because it was becoming all a bit too 1001 Arabian Nights for my tastes. Funnily enough there are MILLIONS (count 'em) of musical throwbacks in this quite excellent track from the aforementioned buncha beardies (Genesis to the follically challenged) through Yes, ELP (and forerunner The Nice) and - even to my most jaded ears, this track captured the look, feel and smell perfectly.

See one of the reasons for my antipathy towards this genre is that I overdosed on it the first time around and am not likely to make the same mistake twice. After all, it is music that takes itself a bit too seriously, ya know what I mean? Nonetheless, when it is delivered with the dexterity, arranging nous and production know how of Far Beyond The Plains, I find it easy to slip back into that shabby old greatcoat that saw me through the 1970's. All I'd like to hear now is someone who can accurately reproduce my favourite precursor of this genre: Soft Machine. Now that would make me a very happy bunny. In the meantime, however, this track will definitely do for the time being. A very worthwhile track - even if like me you cannot stand the whole flares and ridiculous posturing that accompanies it. Music is music, right?

Recommended (even if the genre gives you the heaves...)

Shorthand Phonetics - Requiem For Our Last Character Building Camp

Hear The Track Here

What is it with these guys and their song titles? Maybe they are trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records for the most song titles that make absolutely no sense whatsoever award? Who knows? Anyhow, Shorthand Phonetics are a 6 peice Jakarta, Indonesia based band who - in the time they have been on Soundclick - have made lots of friends and pleased a great many people. Despite, some would say, their relatively young ages (around 17 at last count) and their absolutely up and down nature of production - or maybe I mean non-production because mostly what you hear are live mixes.

It's in the songs that this band scores though. Not always, not often but enough to show that they will become a band to be reckoned with. See, if they are like this at 17, imagine what they will be like in a few years. Like a lot of sub-Asian bands (there are several dozen on Soundclick alone) they have wholeheartedly embraced the western music ethos and pump it back at us as if they had invented it. Well, they are certainly re-inventing it, judging by this bands output. Requiem is the first official single off the upcoming album 'Fanfiction: From the Seriously Absurd to the Absurdly Serious'. See what I mean about the titles? As befits the first single status, it bounds into your ears with all the enthusiasm and speed of a greyhound fresh out of the trap, and in my favourite of all SP styles; kinda rocky, with a dash of punk.

Don't be running away with the idea that you are about to hear something stylish, taut and finely honed because you'd soon discover how many miles away from the truth you are. One of the most enduring qualities of this band is their godawful (and I'm being kind here) production standards, and the reason that I sound so pleased about that is because on this band - and this band only - it kinda fits their rough and ready ethos. In terms of energy and rough hewn charm, this is more reminiscent of the Clash than the Buzzcocks, and more rocky than either of those two bands put together. I also detect more than a slight improvement in their overall sound, at least there IS a mix on the track - and in stereo!! Yep, made my jaw drop too. Great shame the tom hits kinda thud into your brain though - but it isn't the aural nightmare of the past and that's a blessing. You either like this band or not, and I do. A great deal and THIS is the standard I have come to judge them by. As you like 'em - rough and ready.

Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Krill Banks Conspiracy - Pretty Frogging Rude

Hear The Track Here

I approached this track with considerable apprehension as anyone who knows the history between me and this artist will understand. Having given them one of the worst reviews I have ever given anybody (Another War Song - June 2005), they then turned a very bad experience around and turned the whole review into a track SG Reviews KBC which I must admit I found funny as hell and a classic illustration of making a silk purse out of a sows ear. There again when you are talking about a duo who (and I quote) 'do things we think of and things we want to do.. when we want to do them', you gotta expect the unexpected. My major problem with KBC (just to refresh all those almost healed wounds) were that - given the experience of the guys - their music was not up to much, although lyrically they can turn heads but if the music plods and falters to an alarming degree I can't see how that would help much.

Sooooo, almost a year later, and where are we??

Well the first thing that is obvious is that they seem to have licked the recording thingie because no matter what you think about the content (and believe me it is BEST not to think about the content) the sound is clean, clear and extremely well done. Pretty Frogging Rude is essentially a rock song in format (guitars, drums etc) delivered in a time honoured fashion but - to be blunt - it will be something you have heard a million times before. What you will NOT have heard before is the way that John Krill attacks the lyrical subject matter. See the funny thing is that John is not a singer. Not in the conventional sense anyway. What he does is talk and talk and talk and talk. In this case, about a dish of frogs being boiled for someones dinner without actually realising that they were dinner. It's a funny tale to be sure but it is a novelty value thing and that may not do the track any good.

Moreso because you would have to fork out 0.75 for the pleasure of keeping this track and - to be even more blunt - I think I'd rather spend my money elsewhere. Nonetheless, there is a longstanding tradition (particularly in America) where tracks like this do very well indeed and some of the better tracks of this type have actually been hits. Certainly Pretty Frogging Rude is funny enough to get you giggling, and that I suppose is the name of the KBC game so in that respect I guess they did 'what they want to do'. However, for the rest of us mere mortals, it's going to be very much a personal choice. As a reviewer, I am glad to say that I haven't noticed (too much anyway) some of the problems that have dogged this artist in the past and that is going to make some KBC happy. Anyway, have a listen to the track because it IS funny and - should you feel the urge - you may even be tempted to buy it.

How can I put this???? Mad as a box of frogs.

Ubik - Substance

Hear The Track Here

Behind that shiny new name lies an old(er) MP3 Unsigned face. Certainly if you know of the name Planet Dust, then this artist will already be well known to you. I have reviewed a couple of PD tracks before but I think I must ahve lost those reviews somewhere because I can't lay my hand on them right now. The last track I did find (Sleep/Dream - August 2005) I liked as a peice of electronic ambient that doesn't really appeal to me UNLESS it has that little something extra. Sleep/Dream did in it's choice of instrumentation and it's willingness to snooze on the job. About what you would expect from the genre although - as I stated at the time - should probably only be used as a nightcap.

That track can still be found on the page link above as well as about 10 other including Substance. All of which are pretty much hardcore electronica tracks so it goes without saying that it will only appeal to people who can't get enough of that stuff. Personally, I can take it or leave it. It has to be a pretty efficient, interesting and yes innovative track for me to work up a head of steam about and Substance isn't that. Or rather, it isn't different enough to make me want to hang on to it, and therein lies the rub for most electronica artists. As good a track as Substance is (it is, the production is neat and again the instrumentation used shows some taste and discernment) it just doesn't step out of the genre enough to appeal to a wider audience and - despite all claims to the contrary - the electronica genre is nothing like as big or as popular as most people seem to think.
There again, Ubik isn't making this music to be a big pop star, just to please himself and - hopefully - some of his friends. It will do that, I have no doubt and judging by the comments on the track it has been extremely well recieved. To my ears though, this was fairly run of the mill stuff, nothing there that would grab hold of your ears or raise the track above the ever widening roster of electronica artists. Sure, it's a given that most other electronica artists would like it, but they are not what I would call an 'audience' by any stretch of the imagination. Substance is a decently put together, instrumentally interesting track that has some neat technical tricks attached to it but little that would be outside of the envelope marked 'normal'. Also at six minutes long it could IMHO do with having at least a minute shaved off it. Maybe that would give it more impact but I somehow doubt that. An album filler maybe, not a floor filler.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Mosquito Death Squadron - Baby Teeth Live

Hear The Track Here

Having been bitten by these pesky critters before, I now know better than to just go diving into a cloud of them as I did in my first encounter. See, one of the active ingredients of MDS is the viral being most of us know as Pilesar, and that's always something best taken in moderation. Given it's mind warping capabilities, you understand. Earth Sound Revisited (December 2004) was exactly what it's title suggests; sounds of Earth given that the Earth is an electronic madhouse and populated with certifiable arual manics (with or without white lab coats). Here is what I wrote to describe that track 'nothing quite prepared me for the nigh on nine minutes of test tones, random musical slashes, endless audio loops and other assorted weirdnesses that infest this track'

Yeah, you can fekkin gulp but I think we are prepared now...

So the REAL scary part of this sorry tale was that I actually ended up almost liking the damn thing. How weird is that? Nonetheless, I believe it was the active ingredient (Pilesar) wot done it. Almost everything this geezer gets on with is either a) painful, b)uplifting or; c) a combination of both. Pilesar is - of course - only one quarter of this form of life. There's also fellow Mandible mate Spencer, along with the cutely named Drob and Corpsefinger. Damn, this gets scarier the more I write doesn't it? Baby Teeth Live was recorded in Baltimore, MD and for a live recording it ain't too bad at all. Everything is as clear as a bell and the power of the performance is not lost which is just as well because the whole draw of this track IS the power of the performance.

For sure, you won't get much musical sense out of this track, unless you like looking at things upside down and sideways. What you will get is severe whiplash at the speed it attains, a slight ringing in the ears from the aural abuse and a new understanding of why I write the way I do. See, I LIKE this stuff. Really!! Coming from the grand traditions set by Grandmaster Frank (Zappa), bands like Mosquito Death Squadron are a logical offspring so if you like music from the far side, you will love this. If you want to hear a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer kicking seven kinds of crap out of their instruments, look no further. If you want something cute and cuddly, for God's sake look elsewhere while you still have a brain to see with. Funnily enough Baby Teeth Live completely rocks, ya know what I mean?.

Not for the foolhardy but Recommended for all that...

Federal Bison - Let It Out

Hear The Track Here

Although they are a new band to me, and probably Soundclick too by the looks of their SC page they are not - I suspect - new to making music, at least judging from what I have found out about them. A five peice rock and roll (yep) outfit from CT, USA the band are: Gabe Silverman (vocals), Brett McQuiggan (guitar), Dan Porri (bass), Jim Cipollini (guitar) and Adam Barker (drums). Moreover they are ' high energy, no gimmick rock n’ roll' and in my books that raises the stakes immensely because if there is one thing I love it's a good rock party.

It's the animal in me, ya see... I cain't he'p it.

So, anyway, to clarify the term rock and roll, I digress a bit. To most of us Europeans the term rock and roll applies to figures such as Elvis Presely, Bill Haley and the like. To Americans rock and roll encompasses a much wider remit and is probably better known to us as heavy rock or even - at a pinch - heavy metal. So it's probably best not to go combing your quiff just yet. When I think of 'high energy, no gimmick rock' I automagically get transported back in time to the first time I witnessed the MC5 in action, and that is the closest comparison I can make to this artist. Guitar heaven if you love that kind of pyro-technicality, as bad as spitting nails if you can't stand anything with long hair and beautiful groupies. Not that FB have long hair mind, judging by this they WILL have the odd nubile stringing along in their wake.

At least, if there were any justice in the world.

Federal Bison are exactly what they advertise themselves to be, rock well up to its highest standards. A song that is intelligent, well constructed and enough fire and brimstone to satisfy even the hardest purist. I bet these guys kick ass live (they do live gigs in the Connecticut area if you happen to live there) so if you see them, let me know. Let It Out has everything I look for in my rock music, a song that makes sense lyrically, performance of a high standard all encased in a wall shattering, solid, pin-your-ears-back mix that my neighbours just seem to love. Or at least, I imagine that's what all the shouting is about outside :D Very, very nice track to introduce me to this band and one that has merely served to whet my appetite for more.

Paaaaaaarrrttttttyyyyyy raaaaaawwwwwwwkkkk and kiss ass. Recommended.

Thielus Grenon - Piano Composition 7

Hear The Track Here

Before ya ask, I have no idea what happened to the other six, so let's not go there.

Seeing as we are on the subject, pianos are not something I would normally associate with this artist. I always thought he was a axeman. Not, obviously in the 'here's Johhny' axeman routine but in the Guitar God way which - as we know - is infinitely less stressful than maniacal bloodlust. There again, maybe not. After a brief absence, Thielus returned to Soundclick in fine form last month, earning himself his first Must Have rating from me. Mind you, Land More Distant definitely earned it, a track more laden with goodies you would be hard pressed to find.

It wasn't always the case with this artist because when I first came across him (2003-4) he was heavily into the whole progressive rock thing and probably tired very quickly of my attempts to label him as a Yes Man through and through. Land More Distant dispelled all those scurrilous rumours and, although heavy on the technical ability, still made a very entertaining and listenable tune. Weighing in at a negligible 1:46 this isn't going to impinge on anyone's time overly much, and technically (sheer playing ability and knowledge of their musical genre) this is priceless, a peice full of effortless runs, well arranged chord structures and anything else you might look for in a work of quality - more especially so if the track borders on the classical world.

Although the song comments state that this is a 'performance of the seventh of my piano compositions' don't be misled by the wildly cheering crowd - t'ain't real. Or at least I don't think so, chiefly because it sounds more like a rock crowd than classical and because it does end abruptly. It does, however, bookend this very enjoyable peice well enough that it doesn't sound that odd or out of place; and anyway it's the music in the middle that ultimately counts. As a strict piano piece it's well worth the listen. Played powerfully and with great dexterity, this is a piano peice worthy of the name. Put it like this, it augurs well for the previous six compositions, unless they were all just trials for this peice - which I suspect may well be the case. Whatever, if you love beautiful playing, this'll do it for you. Excellent.

Highly Recommended.

Incidental Fusion - Soon

Hear The Track Here

I feel like I've known this artist forever and I've built up a fair library of her work over the years. Although I haven't always latched on to everything she's done, she has - as they say - a track record. She's been quiet over the last year for various reasons so it's nice to see a new track from her. As a mentioned up-and-coming SC artist in my year end awards of 2004, her inactivity during 2005 was noticeable although I kinda liked Sometimes Sad (October 2005) but I'm not much of a fan of electronic ambient so it passed me by... I've watched this artist come from a standing start using an 'instant music' program, go on to make all her own music AND samples making artful, sophisticated music that always delivers impact regardless of the genre she is in. As I say, electronic ambient, isn't my fave rave...

Soon had no intention of falling into the same routine and loaded the trap down with a couple of things I have nothing but admiration for. The first is a piano line to die for, rendered with distinction with one of the best Rhodes sounds I ever heard (which probably means it's not a Rhodes at all). It's one of those chord progressions must of us WISH we'd written, and considering this is the bedrock of the track it never wears out its welcome. The rest of the track shimmers with understated percussion, tasteful little drum rolls that fill out what is essentially a sparse track instrumentally. However, filling up the background with all kinds of aural flora and fauna does not a knockout track deliver, does it?? Make no mistake, this IS a knockout track just on the basis of the music I've just described.

That is when the knockout punch is delivered because Soon is a song; lyrics, vocals, da woiks... More to the point the vocalist is none other than our Nicci (aka Incidental Fusion). My how she's grown up. Don't we all feel like proud parents now :D She has a high, very feminine voice that suits the languid, unrushed vocal delivery and I can't really think of anybody she sounds like. It's often surprising when an artist who you think you know goes and does something completely out of the ordinary, and Incidental Fusion has done something very, very out of the ordinary. What she has done is given us is a dynamite song that I think will grow on me more and more as I learn to live with it. Certainly a definite high spot in this artists 'career' and an extremely listenable musical experience for you. Top Tune.

Must Have (yyyyyaaaayyyyy Nicci!!!!)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Apesoundscapes - Out Of The Cold

Hear The Track Here

I first encountered Carl Best (aka Apesoundscapes) when I reviewed JD (July 2005) and recommended it's great 1980's electro-pop feel; electronica with a vocal that meant something. Now there's a thought eh? I mentioned at the time that this track reminded me of the work of Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark and as time as gone on I see nothing to change that view. Face Shaped Hole (November 2005) only reinforced and amplified how different Apesoundscapes whole approach to the genre was. Here was a track with great music (if extremely lo-fi in sound) that definitely stretched the envelope, as well as being great fun to listen to.

So, over the space of three short tracks, Apesoundscapes has definitely marched ahead in my estimation although when I first heard Out Of The Cold my initial reaction was 'uh oh'. More especially since Carl states quite emphatically in the song comments that this is 'the best tune I have done imo'. Doncha just hate it when that happens? It took me a while before Out Of The Cold started to make sense to me, and when it did all I could do was to cast it in the same mould of fellow Soundclick musician, melv. There's an epic, grand scale theme to Cold both lyrically and musically although the musical side of it will undoubtedly cause you a bit of trouble. After all, music isn't supposed to do this is it?

'It' being manically, majestically musically insane; a great big wodge of seemingly unrelated sounds that don't sound like they fit together AT ALL. Then, after a couple of plays you start to notice that despite it not working together, this is a surprisingly coherent and powerful track. Definitely heading towards experimental though so if'n ya get a bit seasick, best to stay off this deck. If you love music that is baffling, exhilarating, innovative and anthemic, this is something you've waited a lifetime to hear. Although I couldn't put my hand on my heart and state that this is ApeSS's best track yet, it's by far his most ambitious and boooyyy does it pay off. OK, so you might have to work at it a bit to finally get to the good bits but beleive me it is so worth it. You won't hear much like this around, and that's for sure. Fekkin top tune and no mistake.

MUST HAVE (for musical approach if nothing else)

Critical Theory - Dark Dub

Hear The Track Here

I suspect that Critical Theory (aka Rob Geal I presume) is new to Soundclick because there are only two tracks on the page, this one and D'habitude and not to many entries on the message board. Although I must admit that my heart plummetted when I saw that CT was in the Electronica: House genre but was reassured by Dark Dub's title. I am, after all, an absolute glutton for Jamaican music in all its guises but in particular dub, an area I have loved all my life. I have incorporated many of the tricks dub taught me into my own work and have made a few dub tracks in that time too. Now quite what dub has to do with Electronica:House is now the burning issue of the moment...

I will admit to being highly skeptical of these dub claims, as I've mentioned in the past. See, if there is one genre I know it's got to be this one and making good, realistic, authentic dub is very, very hard indeed. As well as the old skool dubmasters such as King Tubby, Lee Perry, Prince Jammy et al I also loved the new breed exemplified by Dennis 'Blackbeard' Bovell on Linton Kwesi Johnson's seminal 80's albums and his own works. Surprisingly enough, the first reference I had to this track was Dennis Bovell's work, at least in terms of production and sound. Dub at it's finest - to me anyway - is music that exists on a shoestring; an Emmental of music. More holes than Blackburn Lancashire as it were... Often floating along on single hihats, making good dub is a high wire act and more often than not you are going to fall off. The only reason I have released only a few dub tracks is because of this fact. Unless you can REALLY pull it off, don't bother.

We are not talking about the modern sense of dub here (ie a kinda karaoke version) but a subtler, intensely rhythmic take on an original or - if you are clever enough - an original track in its own right. CT is obviously from the clever enough end of the gene pool because the one thing that stamps this track is authenticity. From the splendidly believeable echo delays, to the pile-it-on of other sections, Dark Dub stands up to even the closest scrutiny. Admittedly it gets into a more modern groove towards the end but certainly the opening sections of this track exemplify what makes dub so special and top marks to Critical Theory for getting this one right. On the strength of this I also had a listen to D'habitude, another clever blending of styles - in this case some very strange dancey style overlaid with some very cool jazzy overtones that perk my interest considerably. Not much doubt that Critical Theory is an artist well worth getting caught up with and I am definitely looking forward to hearing more from this very interesting artist.

Highly Recommended (with a sneaky Must Have for Dark Dub, a producers wet dream)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gloria J - Wheels Within Wheels

Hear The Track Here

Way back in the mists of time, when the love generation ran out of available drugs, I used to tame my raging beast by listening to certain kinds of acoustic guitarists. I fell asleep after many a fevered week to the calming euphoria pumped out by Fairport Convention with Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson, thrilled to the guitar work of people like Bert Jansch, John Martin, Ralph McTell and many others - all of which introduced me to the rich heritage of English traditional music. It kinda got lumbered with the 'folkie' tage there for a while and these artists are NOT that. When you take music from the 16th century and make it relevant today without ruining it's originally presented sound, that is on a whole different plane.

The reason I say all this is because once you get over the deepness of Gloria J's voice (she is a transgender artist and proud of it), the next thing that will strike you is how 'classical' this track sounds. Despite it's bang up to the moment lyrical message (it appears to be about being transgendered) there is a timeless feel about this elegant and extremely satisfying track that really appeals to me. Put the track against - say - a tale about life during the Napoleonic Wars (1700 on..) and you'd swear this was a track written back then. Both that feel and the extremely fluid acoustic guitar picking that essentially carries the track show that Gloria J is no spring chicken. Nope, this is a musician who has been around the block, around the houses, into the town and back or - put simply - been playing this music for some considerable time.

The more I listened to Wheels Within Wheels the more I warmed to it, for it's musical performance, for it's lyrical content (it is a cracking SONG) and for its vitality. Up until this point I have never come across this artist before but believe me now I know better. For someone who appreciates a good olde English treatment - and I do - this is a track that I will be hanging onto. (Ed: I hope he doesn't say for those moments when the drugs run out...). To say that it is rare for me to hang onto a track of this genre is an understatement, and is a sure indication of the high regard I have for it. For you, I couldn't recommend it highly enough if the above has made any sense to you at all.

Highly Recommended (especially when the drugs run out...)

(Ed: Aaarrrrrgggghhhh)

Stain Online - Digital (Sleepyhead Mix)

Hear The Track Here

Here's an artist who has impressed me considerably from the shaky start Dancing With Death (October 2005) provided us with. The second track I reviewed 'Cradle To The Grave' has proved to be not just a great track but one that has grown more on me over time. It's a truly classic song, with some splendid vocal touches married to a suitably epic theme. I'm not alone in liking it either because this has had a great many people hooked. For my money, its the tracks willingness to mix together rap with a true rock feel that makes it stand out, as much as it's lyrical theme.

It's in the hip hop/rap world that this artist usually falls back on and - as I've said before - this is the UK's version of that genre and Stain Online are a prime example of what makes it so good. There is a hardness to the sound that Stain gets (or should I say DJ Cashback who produced this) that really lifts Digital above the hip hop crowd. It's essentially an electronica workout from there, with some odd noises and swishes thrown in to provide a bit of roughage but when the only thing it has to do is hold up a bit of fiery rap, the sparser the better.

It's in the rap flow, and the provided lyrics (halleuyah!! Someone who posts their words as well as their music) that Stain Online show what makes this 22 year old Newcastle (UK of course) artist worth listening to. It may be that you don't particularly like the genre, in which case I strongly urge you to listen to Cradle To The Grave which is definitely thinking outside the box. If you like the genre, this is primo chunks of venom-spitting, super charged gobbiness backed up by some excellently presented words and ideas that - even for me - finally manage to put down forever that this artist sounds like.... Nope, Stain sounds like Stain and is all the better for it. Stain Online would be a more than even match for someone like The Streets because - dammit - he's a lot more eloquent for a start.

Prime UK hip hop. Recommended

Encryption Complex - All For You

Hear The Track Here

OK OK, let's try this: take two guys who are into electronica, one classically trained and the other into yer four-to-the-floor school of aural damage. Put 'em together, call them Encryption Complex and what kind of music will they make?? Classical Electronica mate, is wot... Well, what else did you expect?? Fair enough (or furry muff depending on your accent) it SOUNDS good on paper cos even if you don't particularly like electronica (pick me!! pick me!!) music from dead white dudes never fail to get me heart a-pumping. So, now that I've got you up there on that highwire without a net, what do you think the end result is??

As an electronic voice once said, 'mind the gap'.

To be sure I wouldn't put my hand on my heart and swear that this is a marriage of these two quite different genres. To my ears, All For You sounds incredibly modern; a smooth slice of chill out that makes full use of the acclaimed Rhodes piano (or a VSTi of that type). As it 'appens, when I say smooth I mean s-m-o-o-t-h, like ice cream going down your throat on a hot summers day. On that level, this is an enormously engrossing instrumentral - at least from a technical level because the individual sounds and overall mix is clear, multilayered and has enough headroom for everything to breathe in and out properly. Not a bad achievement I say, and when you consider that this made wholly in Fruity Studio it shows what a class peice of kit it is, especially for mastering. 'Yeah bert', Encryption Complex shout rudely, 'we also know what we are doing with it!.

Won't get any argument from me on that score.

Where we will differ is in the arrangement and content of this track. As good as it is technically, it's still lacking a lot in the actual tunage department. Oh yeah, it's a nice listen and all that but it's glaringly obvious after a few plays that it doesn't actually do very much. Moreover, there is not much of a sense of drama or even majesty that would qualify it as anything other than a decent enough instrumental. I'm not real sure but too my ears there is also a timing issue between the bass and drums that became more obvious the more I played it. Now maybe that is intentional, but to me it sounds odd. This exacerbates the already monotone arrangement and makes it - to my ears - plod on a bit. I noticed that the band have some very favourable comments on this track and I have to say I wonder why. No matter which way I twist and turn on this, I cannot deny that the flaws I mentioned trouble me. As I say, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with this track technically, far from it. Where it lacks is in that all important ingredient: detail, an essential part of classical music construction.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Skeezy K - F*** The Club

Hear The Track Here

Although Hardcore Rap isn't normally something I like to wallow in of an evening when I see Skeezy mention both Beat Takeshi and weed on the same page, how can I refuse someone with such good taste? Although I guess the term 'hardcore' will apply to the liberal amounts of profanity dotted around both this artists aural works and his titles (see the above example). Not that I have anything against fekkin swearing, although I'd never do it myself... (yeah riiiight), I DO have a problem with this whole n***** and bitches thing. Especially if you happen to be anything other than an African American, it just feels too silly, ya know what I mean?

Not that the track gives you the impression that this is the case, in it's way it carries an air of authority that carries the whole f***, n****** and b****** laden thing extremely well. To be sure, I was surprised at a)how good the musical track was and b)how professional it's mix and production were. Part of that isn't then Skeezy, but someone called Rockit Productions and very tasty it is too. If Skeezy is the rapper, which is the assumption, then he carries off the track with a remarkable ease both with the intensely vibrant rap and - more seriously - it's authority. See, for this stuff to work properly for round eyed gaijin like me, it has to carry an unmistakable 'this is my life so f*** you' feel about it and be an illustration of that life. F*** The Club is all that and an extra added's as funny as f***.

Especially if you happen to know the 'club' scene. The ending section of this track is priceless, moreso if your sole, avowed intention in life is to get into the VIP section of your local fleapit. Again, I curse the rappers prediliction for NOT posting lyrics because from what I can make out, this is a great rap flow and one I could have done with understanding its lyricism better and looking at the words help that process. Nonetheless, this is a prime peice of the genre provided that the profanity doesn't f*** you off too much. If it doesn't bother you, you will lap up this bad boy like a cat after cream.

Recommended, terrific rap with some very funny lines...

Tedd-Z - Abstract Abuse

Hear The Track Here

Nothing like jumping in at the deep end I say, so let me state quite categorically that Tedd-Z hasn't always chimed with me. Fact is, there are as many tracks that I have disliked as there are I've liked. Not that is any reflection of this artists abilities, more a question of personal taste. See a guy like Tedd-Z is always going to be difficult to get close to, he admits that he doesn't make it easy. His music is an uneasy mix of fairly common or garden techno and a ruthless experimental streak. There again, full marks for wanting to be yourself and not just another techno clone (the writer checks to make sure he wrote 'clone' and not 'clown' because he doesn't want to piss anybody off).


Now I know I have an hair up my ass about techno weenies but I can't help my likes and dislikes any more than the next man, I likes what I likes ya know? Anyway, at least I know that by listening to Tedd-Z's skewed vision of techno that I will not be bored because he's far enough along the line to know what needs to be done. That much is evident with just one play of this - I can't believe I am going to write this - amazingly likeable track. OK, so it's not exactly gripping, dramatic stuff but there is enough going on, especially if you listen closely, that it will sustain your interest even if - like me - this isn't normally your listening pleasure of choice. There are parts, even, that are very satisfying like - for example - the lead synth, both in tone and it's application. Shows that, along the years, Tedd-Z has grown into a very competent producer and musician whatever your feelings are about individual tracks.

Although it's an essentially bare ass instrumental (complete with typical tsk tsk hi hats and 4 to the floor kickdrum) it somehow manages to keep your attention by adding textures and effects to the general stew rather than any musical progressions. Where it scores highest with me is in those textures and sounds. There's no doubt that this artist has a definite taste for the more bizarro sounds and Abstract Abuse is brimming with such oddities. Edgy electro nonsense indeed. It zaps along like its ass were on fire, and considering it doesn't go anywhere or do anything there's more than enough energy to spare. In that respect, I think this will please a lot of people although I fear the initial rush won't survive that many plays.

Hi energy techno outing that shows Tedd-Z to perfection.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Drive In Saturday - Holland

Hear The Track Here

Beneath the fairly bog standard name lies a familiar face, especially if you are a regular reader of these reviews. Jonti Daniels (for it is he) and I have crossed paths (and scalpels) a few times over the past year or so. I first became aware of this artist in early 2004 when I reviewed a track of his that I - pretty much anyway - had to trash to within an inch of its life. Not because of what Jonti was doing on it, but because of the bloody awful way it was recorded. For a while back there, Jonti and I went back and forth over a couple more tracks but I still couldn't see as much as maybe I should have/could have. Not sure what the name change is all about but I am damn certain it has nothing whatsever to do with my opinion so....

I've quite liked Jonti's style (he's primarily a guitarist) but he has been dogged IMO by the same problem track after track including - I'm afraid - this one. The good news is that a great many things HAVE improved, and for that I am truly grateful because it means I don't have to be a right bastard all over again with this new project of his. Of the things I did like about this track, I have to say that its pace - more than anything else - was the thing I found most endearing. I also appreciated the sub-Syd Barrett treatment of the vocals which are some of the laziest I have ever heard - and I've heard a few thousand bone idle vocalists by now...

Despite some sound oddities, the overall track stands up well and if you are a fan of this whole lo-fi, lo-tech approach to making music this is definitely worth listening to. There's a bit of clipping you should get used to of you do, as well as some definite distortion. Under that, however, is a halfway decent song trying to get a breath of life. Certainly one of the most coherent of this artists output I certainly have no qualms about saying you should get a listen to this, despite the above moans. Four minutes of tasty surprises isn't bad going in my books.

Recommended (in a lo-fi kinda way)

Wip-ee - Love Obsession Violence Ecstasy

Hear The Track Here

This oddly named artist is in fact a collaboration between Rude Corps (see my review of CJ Freq-X's Lockdown remix earlier for more info on them) and someone I only know as Sir. While reviewing the remix I felt madly compelled to listen to the original as well and I'm glad I did because I ended up liking it very much - and up to that point it would probably have passed me by. I can't, despite trying for all I am worth, listen to everything and tracks are going to fall through the cracks. Then you get these odd little incidents where interest in one artist leads to yet another... After the electronica fest that is Rude Corps original Lockdown, Love Obsession Violence Ecstasy came as a real - and very pleasant - surprise to me.

First off it has something going for it immediately that captures me attention; the dry, flat intonation of the northern counties of England - not something, I admit, I associate with Soundclick. MP3 Unsigned has a few of this kind of vocalist/rapper but SC doesn't seem to attract too many. This vocal is then overlaid on top of very ambitious, very dubby music that maintains your interest despite it's simplicity. For my money, I would have loved to have seen the lyrics to this because what I can make out of the vocal sounds well tasty. Moreover, because of this blend of local dialect and the music's oddity rhythmically, it sounds to me, a very English sound in every respect.

So that's the reason why I like it, but will you get the same. A rocking beat, dancehall bass, and musical flourishes that verge on the dark side of the force is what you will hear, and a challenging vocal and rap that you will either like or not. It's overall volume level doesn't - to my ears - do it any big favours, and the vocal is very thin but the musical content more than makes up for these flaws. What I like most about this track is its willingness to be different, providing me - and maybe you too - with a great listening experience that has echoes of many famous UK artists. Gorillaz are one of the references I have been toying around with while listening to this track, and I still think that. Anyway, whatever tag it holds, it's a spot on track.


Slippy T - Dirty Nasty

Hear The Track Here

The more you know about an artist, the less surprised by them you are. You become sure of their style, their way of doing things and you begin to expect it. Not so with some artists however, and those are the ones - in my mind - who have the longevity to see that they are forever evolving their style - no matter what their physical age. Take Rob Taylor (aka Slippy T) for an obvious example. Here is a guy who I have known for well over four years both as a musician and as a person. Sure, he will always SOUND like Slippy because he can't change his voice - and with a voice like his, why the hell would you? Where Slippy constantly surprises is in his choice of musical styles, and his interpretation therein.

That applies to the endless collaborations he is constantly throwing up as well as his own original material. There's no doubt in my mind that his vocal style has changed remarkably over the years from the earlier smoothly rounded tones to todays angry, almost lo-fi sound to his vocal delivery. I've noticed this over the last couple of his tracks in particular; there's a much harder edge to the proceedings - as I say almost and angry sound. Slippy's vocals have always been fairly expressive (it's one of his main draws IMHO) but this newer version crackles with it, and it shows in the denser, less controlled way his music has been tailored to fit this mood.

Yeah, yeah Mr Psychoanalyst, but did ya like it?? Didja?? Didja???

Watch these lips: See, although I've always liked Rob's work, I've not always been happy with the musical bedrock it was attached to. For me it was all a bit too smooth, a bit too restrained. No longer, Slippy dipped into his personal Pandora's box and let loose his own demons, and tracks like Dirty Nasty exemplify this new look at a familiar face. Lyrically and musically, there is more power per square inch of this track than most musicians can manage over whole albums - and a little bit of everything for everybody. Even a little dub style for fans like me who can't seem to get out of that groove. Although it's a bit on the long side (just over seven minutes) Dirty Nasty is another milestone in the musical oddessy Rob has been on ever since I met him all that time ago. As always I understand that Slippy IS an acquired taste, but that's never been a bar to someone's creative ability I find. Mind you, I'm not totally convinced that this particular vocal mix is 'it', if ya know what I mean.

Class act though, but for sure some people wouldn't 'get' it...

Friday, March 10, 2006

CJ Freq-X - Lockdown (The Oriental Oddessy Mix)

Hear The Track Here

For me, this guy is one of the foremost electronica musicians I've found in the last year, well established up there with some of Soundclick's best. Discounting the theory, of course, expounded in the forums lately about there being nothing of interest on this site at all. I laugh. Ha ha ha ha. Such fools. Take a listen to this and then come back and argue the merits of the case. For me, as many of you know, there has to be a certain level of musical and technical competence going on for me to really start paying serious attention and Freq has got my attention from his very first track. Here's a musician that - regardless of genre - always delivers some very fine music.

Certainly Lock Down exhibits all the qualities I have come to expect from this very talented Indian artist; tight, precise arrangements with more zip than you can shake a stick at, and a sound sensibility when it comes to instrument selection and use. A remix of an original Rude Corps track, the Oriental Oddessy is soooo what this artist always brings the the party. The original track is a hard-edged slice of electronica depicting the 'state of seige' feeling that certain police actions evoke in sectors of the population. The term 'lock down' is used mainly in a prison/crowd control situation where a situation needs to be contained ie you look suspicious so you're nicked. As such it's a terrific track (in a kinda Rebirth'y way) and one I found of much value and - had I reviewed it - would have treated it most kindly.

However, knowing CJ Freq-X, I know what he has done with this because it has his stamp all over it, turning it from a fairly likeable peice of electronica into a world spanning peice of music that breathes authority, presence and power. I heartily recommend that you listen to BOTH these tracks (the original and remix) so you can understand just what CJ does that gets me so gushy... The immediate impact of CJ's version is a horizon expansion in sound quality and - given time to get to the real meat and potatoes - a track that fairly bristles with wonderful sights and sounds. All the time, keeping the essential track intact at it's very heart. I'm willing to bet that Rude Corps was absolutely floored when he heard what had happened to his baby. Something very wonderful, even. Either track I would have no hesitation in recommending but only CJ Freq-X can do what he does so well and get a...


V Dogg/Worlds Apart - Freaky Young Tenders

Hear The Track Here

Anyone who has honestly tried to review other peoples work will know just how difficult this can be. I'm not talking about you telling your mates how wonderful they are - and by extension getting them to return the favour. I'm talking about being totally honest about what you feel, whether they are your mates or not. I've been talking to a couple of people just lately about this and we have been comparing notes about just how bad it makes US (the reviewer) feel to put someone's work down. Even more so when that person happens to be a friend or - in a case or two from my own experience - someone who you feel has potential but hasn't quite realised how to bring it out yet. Then there are the reviews that make people want to give up, no matter how talented they are. V Dogg and I have had one of those situations occur, and I for one am glad that he has decided to soldier on, despite what I've had to say about his work in the past. IMHO, what doesn't kill us will only make us better right?

Dogg is, obviously, looking well skeptical at this stage :D

So let me get the tension out of the way, this is a storming track and no mistake. I've never heard Dogg sound any better and the backing track is banging... That's B-A-N-G-I-N-G. Mind you, I gotta put me hand up and say that I've always liked the work of one Dave Meredith aka Mezzer aka Worlds Apart Productions aka Uncle Tom fekkin Cobley and all... Ever since I first met him (years ago now) I've liked his musical taste and it was a big surprise to me that Dave finally settled on the hip hop/RnB groove he has become so masterful at. Beautifully understated and precise rhythms pump this track up in a totally professional production that screams radio play, all topped off by a rap track that literally jumps down your throat. Definitely, soundwise, this is the real deal - as good a rap track as you ever likely to hear.

I've had my groans about the Dogg's style in the past, but on this outing, I can't find anything that wasn't right up to the mark and then some. Well, there IS a kinda niggle but it doesn't have anything to do with performance or production, as you'll see when we get to the end of the review. Nope it's more to do with a small puzzle the Dogg left in his wake. See, this track features two vocalists, the Dogg and someone called Ol' Blue. Well slap me in a dress and call me Sally because I cannot - for the life of me - discern the difference between the dog and the blue. Take, for example, the incredibly catchy chorus which is supposedly shared between Dogg (first four lines) and Blue (last four lines), although there IS a slight tonal difference definitely sound like the same vocalist. Hey there again who gives a toss - all academic anyway because this track is top hip hop. Dirty version/Clean versions are available (cos it's a track about some naughty girls)...


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: John and Lucie Collins - I Am Here

Hear The Track Here

If you went by the introductory blurb about this husband and wife team (comparisons with Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Brightman etc) you would think that I would run a mile because I cannot stand either of these three ladies - even despite recognising their undoubted talent. Sorry, but I just can't stand a screecher, ya know what I mean? Big surprise then that the first track I reviewed from them - A Voice In The Night (February 2006) - got a recommended from me. This came about because I liked the sophistication of the song itself (a remarkably jazzy Billie Holliday type deal) and I loved the way Lucie treated the vocal. Either way, what came out of that track was a very professional approach to what they do, and that in my books goes a long way to getting over any predjudice I might bring to the party.

I Am Here, unfortunately, carries a lot of Andrew Lloyd Webber overtones and that for me is a definite no-no. Mind you, even then, John and Lucie get the message across DESPITE my hatred for the famed plagarist but I fear you would have to like the female chanteuse style AND the whole Adult Contemporary thingie to really get this track. Not that there aren't enough afficiendos of that style to more than make up for the philistines like me who would walk through hot coals rather than spend time listening to material that sounds as if it belongs in a Broadway show. On that level, it does come down to a personal choice and - given the high quality of work on display here - that seems like a real shame.

The juxtaposition of these two track though does show how wide John and Lucie can throw their musical net and certainly there is nothing in I Am Here that would seriously make me throw up other than stylistically. It's a piano driven peice that shows that John (lyricist and musician) knows what he is about and his arrangement skills are of a very high standard, as is his musical expertise at laying down the actual track itself. Again, Lucie shows that she is a chanteuse to be reckoned with although I personally thought her voice sounded a little thin on this track when compared to A Voice In The Night. That may well have to do with they style this track is couched in, and I'll have to listen to more material to finally pin this one down. So, although I am sure there are going to be plenty of willing listeners to this track, I fear I will not be one of them. Not because there is anything wrong with it - other than that thinness I mentioned - but because I cannot seem to get over my own predjudice against this type of material.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Fear 2 Stop - Interstellar Bounce

Hear The Track Here

Speaking as a recipient of some splendidly vitriolic reviews in my time (that's people dumping on my music and not the other way around), the attributes that serve best are thick skins and resilience. Sure, it hurts when someone tears your music apart but it is, after all, just an opinion and should be taken with the requisite 400lbs of salt. When it all comes down to it, the only person who SHOULD know what they are doing with your music is you - all else is just chaff. Imagine if, for example, the Manchester based band The Fall took notice of their earlier reviews or for that matter some of the bigger names around who struggled in their early years against critical opprobrium. You justy gotta be true to yourself at the end of the day and just get on with it, and that is where this review finally turns to the subject at hand - yet another track from Fear 2 Stop.

Having borne the brunt of acres of bad comments from me, F2S show incredible resilience (yeah, stubborness too) but - bless 'em - they keep ploughing their own particular musical furrow and there's nothing wrong with that. The latest track, Interstellar Bounce, is a revamped track from their past (a distant past at that) and to get the full story I have to go back in that history too. IB started as a section of a track called Battle Sequence which - as you can imagine - is a kinda/sorta game soundtrack that works surprisingly well, given that's it an older F2S track originally written in 1989. Instellar Bounce is the revamped later section of that work, and given my antipathy towards this kind of electronic experimentalism, I found myself quite taken by the track.

OK, you can pick your jaw up off the floor now...

Moreover, Instellar Bounce shows an increasing sophistication in sound techniques which I feel will help F2S enormously to overcome the dreadful image some of their past tracks have conjured up for many of us. The really weird thing is that I don't dislike this band, in fact I admire their persistence in the face of my many doubts. Mind you, we've also been here before too, when I think they are about to make a breakthrough only discover them going back to the same aural traps with the next track. Nonetheless, there's a quality about this track that I do like (besides it's incredibly short 3:37 length), there is a bounce to the track that I feel will earn F2S a bit more kudos than is normally evident. Certainly the band have some die hard fans who do seem to like whatever they put up despite my constant and never ending grumbles. Well, here is one track I cannot find much to grumble about at all, and that is definitely a step in the right direction.

Surprisingly accessible electronica with a definite bounce...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Mancini - Chemical Imbalance

Hear The Track Here

Although I only met him a couple of months ago, Mancini is banging the tracks home as if there were no tomorrow. This is my third Mancini track in as many months, and seeing as he hails from the musical city of the moment (Sheffield ya dummy!), I suppose I'd better have a little recap. Overall I liked Use Your Noodle (January 2006) for the way it incorporated electronica and electric guitar in a way that worked and worked well, prompting me to say this is an artist to watch. I even gave Area 39 (February 2006) a Highly Recommended for it's high energy dance approach noting that both tracks had a surprising toughness of sound and maturity of ideas that merited more attention. So what's he got in store for us this time?

Chemical Imbalance is much more electronica than the previous tracks and definitely strays into a danger area for yours truly. In my mind, for something to work on in the electronica genre, it better have something that drags it out of the normal whine and bleep infested swamp that sours most electronica for this reviewer. It's been a bit of a Mancini so far to deliver tracks that are seemingly straight forward then inject something completely unexpected into the mix. Successfully so far, I might add, although I must admit to having reservations about this tracks strength that have continued right up until the time I come to write this review. I KNOW millions of people love this stuff, but they ain't reviewing it, and I feel that - as good as Chemical Imbalance is - it could have been better.

Technically it's fine, and exactly what I would have expected; the mix is strong and the production values of the previous tracks still apply. Where it falls down - for me - is in it's delivery. It SHOULD be strong but somehow isn't. Yes, if I play it LOUD it works, but when I sit and listen (OK, take it apart then...) it loses whatever impact it may have. The more I listened, the more I found that to be the case. It could well be that I am getting too blase about all this because I hear so many good tracks over the space of a year but for something to really stand out, it has to be better than a good electronic workout; it has to have a depth that this track just doesn't have. Moreover, there is a softness to the track (whether that is to do with the muffled kick or not I don't know) that is offputting, especially in those crucial, off key string sections. I do like all the various technical tricks Mancini brings to his work, but that alone cannot rescue this track, as bravely as they try. Good fusion of a couple of styles that may perk your interest once or twice but not - I fear - grow into something you would want to take home to meet Big Momma Hard Drive.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Cam's Evensong - Ticket To A Miracle

Hear The Track Here

Seems like my month for mega tracks because having Onemob's 16 minute marathon and Cam's almost eight minute Ticket track back to back took up ACRES of time.... Come on, do you know how much time you need to listen to these longer tracks?? Sheesh.... :D I'm joking of course and I realise that it's only coincidence that places these two tracks together and not a God Against Gilmore plot to wear out my ears quicker than lots of three minute jobbies.... Still, it had me wondering there for a minute or two...

After all, I wouldn't put it past Onemob, Cam OR God. Or, it might just be the meds....

Now I like Cam's work as much as I like him as a human being. Some of his tracks have sent the proverbial shivers down my spine and others have been - how can I put this? - workmanlike. Despite all appearances to the contrary, I beleive it is harder to review tracks by ones friends because you want to say good things about them, but when you can't, it gets very, very hard. In Cam's case, I believe he would want me not to hold back so I will not, and hope that he takes this in the spirit intended. The reason I say this is because I distinctly remember him saying he was especially proud of this track; and I can only find one reason for that pride - and that has to be from the musicians point of view only. Ticket To A Miracle MUST have been a right bitch to put together, particularly as it's vocals and arrangement is detailed to the nth degree - it's obvious how much work has gone into this song.

However, it's impact, at least for me is extremely diffuse. See, I want a track that makes my jaw drop, makes my ears turn somersaults on my head and fuzzes my brain to the point of distraction. To my ears Ticket To A Miracle is too much of a musicians song than something that Joe Q Public will find easy to sing along to. Moreover, its not exactly easily accessible, even if the light instrumentation and feel give that initial impression. If I had to categorise this track I'd say it would sound good enough to put on an album but even then it would count as filler; especially when put against some of Cam's better work (IMHO obviously) such as Scream or even Just The Truth On Christmas. For my money this is just too lightweight in too many respects for it to make any meaningful impact on me, and that seems to be the the truth no matter how many times I play it to see if there is something I have missed or that struck me as in any way different. I'll exist on those stronger tracks for the time being and wonder if I can weather the opprobrium that's going to get heaped on my head for saying what I have said. I suppose I should be thankful that Cam's fans tend to be of the more peaceful variety...

For fans only, I fear.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Onemob - Seat Shaker

Download The Track Here

You may recognise the name if you are a) familiar with SC forum mods or b) into electronica and/or experimental where he also operates under the name And-Y (which is how I've always reviewed him in the past. This time, it looks as if he wants me to work for my no money because there are more riddles here than a season of the X Files. First off even though he is a mod on Soundclick he doesn't seem to have a page on this site any more - under any of his names. Secondly, best not go looking for material on the link I have given above because it just leads to his not very enlightening Directsoundradio page. You can get this particular track from the direct download link above but be warned, it's a gigantic 16 minute track weighing in at around 23MB.

Holy hernia, indeed....

Moreover, it is essentially a 'live' track although I have no idea what exactly 'live' means in this context, so expect a bit of oddity in the arrangement. I presume that what Onemob is doing is working with something like Ableton and mixing and matching beats and loops (and whatever else happens along) 'on the fly' which is - by extension - kinda live. The problem being, of course, that performing something live often leads to a 'wtf' scenario developing along the way. Especially if it really is done without any prior working out of what goes exactly where, and I hate to write that because Onemob has supplied me with some aural beauties along the way but I found this more of an (if you will forgive the hackneyed phrase) 'exercise in sound' than anything more substantial. All well and good if you are the musician and audience totally lost in the experience live but not much good on the couch at midnight with your headphones on.

It especially falls apart IMHO in the later sections when world instruments make an appearance (including a couple of phrases I definitely recognise), the instruments - to my ears - ran counter to what had been happening before and just sounded plain wrong. Now maybe that's just me being overly protective of my own little aural space, but that is what I thought while listening to this (a bit more than once or twice too). I can see this doing well in a club live environment though, the combination of beats and weirdities make it interesting enough to occupy your mind while your feet did all the work. The drop in pressure around 5:50 though is extremely noticeable (and I think would be on the dancefloor too) and that is where the world instrument loops make their appearance - highlighting HOW different this section is, A great idea IF it had gelled but to my ears this doesn't. Big ups to the man for trying something like this, but it's just disjointed and unfinished for me, and at 16 minutes it's a HUGE amount to chew on.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Steve Gilmore Reviews: Deggsy/Crockmister - I'll Put Back The Moon Vers 2

Artist: Deggsy/Crockmister
Title: I'll Put Back The Moon Vers 2

No fekkin about this month with the Tardy Twins. Whoosh, straight in... They must have been hanging out in doorways with Thomas J and Billy Castillo to get in this early in the month. As I said in my review of their last classic track Lullaby In Blue (January 2006), they have now established themselves properly over at Soundclick and again I urge you - in the strongest of all possible terms - to check these guys out if you haven't before. I KNOW I can be a bit gushy about what I percieve to be talented outfits, but hey, I'm usually right though... At least that's what this banknote says.... Anyfekkinhoo, ANY artist who could get FIVE (count 'em, 1,2,3,4,5) Must Have's in a row, gotta be better than a poke in the eye which is what you'll get if you don't get your skinny butts over to their page pronto...

Ooops, sorry. Parental slip there, watch your step...

If I have any problems with this artist at all - and believe me I really don't - it's in their style which is slicker than Jim Carrey on a bad day. Both of these guys have a hankering for rhythm and blues and easy listening which looks more painful than it actually is. To be honest, in other hands, I would hate this with all the fervour of someone getting upset about cartoons but Deggsy and Crockmister know just how much schmaltz we can stomach. I'll Put Back The Moon V 2 is a case in point. If it wasn't as finely balanced as it is, I would have named it a Simply Red track which - as we all know - is the spawn of Satan and deserves to be put before the Spanish Inquistition. As is is, the track merely verges on that slipperly slope and then perches there confortably while the lounge lizard vocals sticks it's tongue down your ear canals for the utmost pleasure.

Not a lot wrong with that I find...

There's no lyrics with this track, which is a bit unusual because Craig Sofaly (aka Crockmister) is an excellent lyricist who usually post lyrics with the track. Never mind though, because he's a vocalist who actually knows how to sing AND be understandable (yep, there's a thought) and it's a soft enough track you can pick it all up in one go. Craig sounds good yet again on this track, his awesome vocals are a definite highlight, especially if you like QUALITY male vocals. I've used the Simply Red tag to beat this guy senseless over the space of the last year or so but it really is the closest comparision except - for my money - Crockmister is a lot more polished tonally and stylistically. I strugggled and struggled with this and the 'should I give it another Must Have' question and finally decided that I wouldn't. Not because it isn't worth that kind of praise because it is, but because it's just not that special. A absolutely gobsmacking album filler yes, for sure. Not, though, something worthy special attention - as brilliantly professional as it is...

Highly recommended, especially if you like your music e-a-s-y...

Steve Gilmore Reviews: The Men From San Diego - Do You Know The Way To San Diego

Artist: The Men From San Diego
Title: Do You Know The Way To San Diego

OK, strap yourselves in, prepare for some fodder that requires a stronger stomach than most and let's take a walk down San Deigo way courtesy of two well known oddballs. Take a bow Thomas J and Richard Dunlap, prime movers and shakers of TMFSD and dadala respectively. Yeah, NOW you feel those gossebumps right? Although his sax playing is central to this track it is much more Richard Dunlap in feel. It is, as the label states, Jazz Fusion although what its fused with is best left to conjecture. I've said it once and I'll say it again, I LIKE Thomas when he's on his horn - if you know what I mean. On Do You Know The Way To San Diego, this attribute is given full rein and I find it very enjoyable indeed.

Do stop feeling if I am feverish, will you? I'm trying to be serious... (Riiiiggghhhhtttt....)

I know that I don't normally get all gushy about the more difficult stuff but this IS good enough to please even nitpickers like me. It helps enormously that I like Richard Dunlap's whole approach to the 'noise is useful' school of random chord theory, or at least what SOUND like random chords. The musical accompaniment is composed of spheres, sweeps and flourishes of sound - mostly electronic although I think I can hear a guitar sawing away in there too. Obviously then, it would be totally redundant to wonder what happened to the kick drum because there ain't a beat in sight, unless you are looking at it from a Chinese scale angle (or even Double Dutch come to that...) In other words, whatever randomness you perceive as happening in this track is there for a purpose - and that to me makes all the difference. The whole provides the very best base for the overridding sax and it's tonal oddities.

Dionne Warwick, this is not, OK?

Now maybe I'm gonna have some bearded saxophonist stalking me (well, they ARE all beardy's aren't they? ;P ) but I think what Thomas does with a sax is soooo him. Where he scores most with me isn't so much what he plays, as the sound he makes playing it. There's a very satisfying feel to those low end sax notes and Thomas brings his lazy bastard approach to the job and provides a definite counterpoint to a relatively laid back arrangement, providing the slow as death feel this whole track is soaked with. It's that very laziness that won me over initially, along with the aforementioned sax tones. The only way to go slower than this in music is to be dead. Sooooo, it'll be one of those tracks you should probably reserve for those quieter, more reflective moments that undoubtedly pepper your day, and make sure you have plenty of mind refreshment to hand. If you give it that careful treatment, you may well end up liking this as much as I do. Not because it does anything that clever musically; it just relaxes me and brings a little peace along the way.

Different, yes, but still Highly Recommended.

Steve Gilmore Reviews: MSL - The Thread Of Life

Artist: MSL
Title: The Thread Of Life

A track from the already bulging (20+ and counting) Mary Gottschalk Tribute Page over at MP3 Unsigned, although MSL are certainly not new to me. This is, I think, the fourth track I have heard from them and I have to say that generally - given the genre, Electronica:Techno - is not bad going. The reason I like them, despite some flaws in their tracks is their drive, energy and production nous. If I had to single them out for praise on an overall basis, I'd have to go for the production side. Yeah, to be sure there is generally a thinness of sound that is apparent in all their tracks but it IS slight and probably an old curmudgeon like yours truly would ever notice it.

Along with my best friend, Mr Nit Pick.

So, although this is a track put up in memory of Mary, it still comes under the heading of 'issued' material and - in my books - fair game for a good mauling. :D Although it's billed as World music, it's actually more classically inclined than that laden down, as it were, but pianos, strings and other dead white dudes music attire. It's best to point out here that this is MSL's first stab at this kind of structure approach and big ups to them to step from their regular oeuvre (God, I am showing off tonight) into this most difficult of areas - much more have it work out. Work out it does though, even though - as usual - I have a few gripes and grumbles about things. Not however, with the musical content and/or it's structure because - given their inexperience with the genre - MSL makes a very decent job of it. This is especially true when you talk about the choice of musical instrumentation to perform this peice, an essential duty if you want it to sound right.

Where I do have difficulty with this is - again - the overall thinness of the sound, I'm sure that if they spent a little more time shaping and working on individual sounds BEFORE the mix process, it would help them enormously to provide as convincing in sound as their music is in performance. The overall sound isn't bad although it's rough around the edges; however the music more than makes up for any shortfall anyone sensible would notice. The change of pace when the oboe's/clarinets join in the action is quite beautiful. I believe that Mary would have liked this track and made suitable comments about it and that - after all - the reason why this track is available, so no worries on that score. However, it does show that this is an area where MSL might do well and I'd certainly be interested in their next outing in this field.