Saturday, December 02, 2006
"Thankful to breathe and love"
"To rise above one's self"
"Lift your hands to the sky as if your palm were touching the cumulous clouds"
"As time slowly takes each of us away"
"It is always a good time to smile"
"Blue skies, Winter's final cry and other relevant love stories" by Kaminari Synthesis
genres: electroacoustic, glitch, idm
"The imortance of closing your eyes" by Kaminari Synthesis (a.k.a. Vizion, Koei, and 143) is full of beautiful repetition and swelling revery that is occasionally interrupted by bitter memories (incarnated as glitches). It is swathed at times with sorrow and shining with hope at others. It is music about recovery and moving on with one's life.
At the Internet Archive it is described as "35 minutes of soothing idm/indie rock vibes ... exploring introspection, flight, nature, life and death with grandiose pad+guitar melodrama and idm beats wrapped in a glitchy, naive physiology." I would replace "melodrama" with "emotion" if I were allowed to edit the description, but it's close enough.
I have excluded one song from the list, "Anxious Interlude." It is ok by itself (I really enjoy its bitpop-ness), but it seems out of place in comparison to the rest of the netalbum. It's more like a distraction than an interlude.
Friday, September 08, 2006
"Falcor (WF spectral remix)"
"The Warm Space"
"Untitled (2000)" &
"Pure Land" by William Fields
genres: ambient, ambient DnB, chillout, electronica, idm, progressive
Fields says he "has been writing music and experimenting with sound since 1993. His work covers a wide range stylistically, but is always warm and melodic." To that I would add atmospheric, experimental (in a good way), and occasionally lilting. Sometimes, you will hear Asian influences in his songs, but they never approach a generic world fusion sound. Much of Fields' music has a story-like structure, and these stories often contain journeys: some of which return back home while others make new soundscapes their destination.
I was fortunate enough to find some of his early music at mp3.com back in 1998 (before the owners of mp3.com became greedy and abandoned independent musicians). He quickly became one of my favorite musicians. Since then I've been thankful William Fields has continued to have a presence on the Internet and has continued to share more of his splendid electronic music. To date, he has generously released around 100 mp3s (many of which are live recordings and remixes of the same or similar songs, but a majority of them are unique).
The songs I've selected are among my favorite William Fields songs. I like most of his music (every track in the "Branches" and "Asoka" netalbums are enjoyable and are also good starting points for getting a feel for his talent), but instead of suggesting every song, I thought I should narrow it down to some good starting points.
"Meldy-medly" is a bright, upbeat IDM piece with a sprinkling of break beats. "Nirodha" is an early, dreamy song once described by Fields as "soaring, uplifting drum-n-bass." Listening to it creates a sense of swimming in tropical waters or walking across a meadow during a moonlit night.
As for the offsite songs I've recommended from Fields' website, they're located in 2 pages: the user friendly Recordings and the comprehensive music index located in the raw formatted view of his /music directory.
"Oroborous" and "Colors" are two of his ambient recordings. "Oroborous" is the simplest of the three consisting of a dissonant chord of wavering, ringing tones that rise and fall through a distant cloud of soft static. "Color" is the soothing and colorful alternative to "Oroborous." The cloud of static is there again, but this time there are beams of light shining through them to accompany the smooth sine waves.
Fields' ambient DnB and/or chillout ("Searchlight Needles," "Twenty Four," "Untitled (2000)," and "Pure Land") are rather balanced in terms of rhythm, melody, and padding. The drums and bass are relatively subdued, so, unlike most electronic music let alone typical DnB, the drums and bass don't dominate the soundscape. The soothing "Searchlight Needles" consists of multiple, nicely transitioning parts. It is a song that takes a journey across a mountain side, looking over the great expanse stretching beyond, and returns home after the moment of contemplation is over. "Twenty Four," named after the fact that it's over 24 minutes long, is the culmination of Fields' ambient DnB. It exhibits a progressive trance influence while it weaves through mellow and energetic passages, which gives it the many songs blended into one sense that many DJ's attempt to create by syncing their tracks. "Untitled (2000)" is his take on modern dance music form India filled with pleasant binaural flickering. My favorite ambient DnB song of his, however, is "Pure Land," which is most likely a reference to Pure Land Buddhism. It gets into my head in a way trance tracks wish they could: it is both a bit hypnotic and a touch enlightening. As such, it isn't merely a song for listening but one for experiencing. Through careful panning, sweeping, and tweaked effects, Fields creates an aural presence.
If you like those, other ambient DnB pieces (of varying levels of ambiance) worth trying are "Ananda," "Caravel," "Carlson" (which is a good example of how to create rhythm without using drums or bass), the breakbeat influenced "Lilia," "Manitou," and "Rangzen."
In the last couple of years, Fields has began to work more with IDM and ambient sounds. The bubbly "Bulb" is an early example of his delve into IDM. About half way into the effervescent glitchiness, a lilting melody dances about like the wind and is accompanied by a warm, welling pad reminiscent of slowly ebbing and flowing water. Now, his use of glitch is more controlled and, at times, subtle and the ambient atmospheres receive more attention. "Falcor (WF spectral remix" is airy and has abstract in structure. "The Warm Space" seems to be taking place in an alien forest near a shore during the twilight.
If you're interested in checking out Fields latest album Timbre, which is only available for previewing and purchasing, then you should check out the generous 2 minute long samples of ambient static, blips, and filtering at CD Baby. I prefer his earlier, more colorful ambient songs, but it's good to know he's stretching his talent and learning.
However, should he release another ambient album in the future, I hope he returns to his melodic roots. He could go through his usual process of creating a hybrid of ambient sounds with another genre, then strip the beats from the tracks, and refine the songs from what remains if necessary (e.g. "Pure Land" would work quite well without the drums).
Friday, September 01, 2006
Land of Calm by Ken Martin
genres: Berlin School, space, ambient
Ken Martin is a musician of the Berlin School who produces epitomic spacey tracks (think NPR's Hearts of Space). In the "Land of Calm," he uses an deep, airy pad for the background while he plays the solo part with a bright synth lead. As the synth begins its slow, swelling melody it seems to be saying, "In-the-Land...of...calm..." It then continues to glow through the darkness of the pads like an aurora in the night.
Using CompWide and Enhancer 017 with Winamp and the plugin stacker MuchFX2 adds greatly to the songs spaciousness when they're adjusted correctly. It's probably not perfect setup, but here's how I have mine configured:
Friday, August 25, 2006
"Lo Fi Moondays" by Satellite Grooves
These quirky, happy songs are from his internet EP "Soundscapes of Filtered Stars" on the kikapu netlabel. The brightest star of the three, "Earthless Cludder," starts with an upbeat intro played on a soft electric organ, and then the spoken lyrics begin (the narrator sounds like the synthesized voice of a spokesman from the 50's or 60's):
"One day I saw a monkey looking at me.
He said, 'The world was too small.'
I asked, 'Why do you say that?'
He said, 'Well just look around.
It's full of cludder, cludder, cludder.'
"So I asked, 'What do you suggest we do?'
He said, 'Look into the sky and pick a spot,
and we'll build a spacecraft and go there
where there's no cludder, cludder, cludder,
cludder, cludder, cludder.'"
The melody countinues for about a minute, which is followed by a playful bridge that leads back to the intro. Then the narrator finishes his story:
"That monkey and I flew far into outer space, never looking back,
and leaving all the cludder in my dust."
And since that one is so sweet for its lyrics alone, you might as well do yourself a favor and download all of them and give them a listen. The other two songs, however, are more instrumental.
"Dream Of The Yellow Yard" by Czesanne
genre: idm, electronica
For these songs, Czesanne used computer generated and manipulated sounds to create a soundscape filled with alien flora and fuana. The most ethereal of the four, "Symphonic Youth", is my favorite. The first three are each less than 3 minutes long, but "Dream Of The Yellow Yard" is over 8 minutes. So, after the alien rain clears, the symphonic youth come out to play. After one of them, Encarnacao, comes out of a loop, they sing their favorite medley about a dream of the yellow yard they once knew or are yet to discover.
"wake up wake up"
"music box samba" by Lullatone
genre: minimal electronica
Lullatone's music is childish but in a good, balanced, way. Their songs are full of curiosity and are often quite happy. It's some of the sweetest, brightest music I've ever heard--similar to bitpop, but without the 8-bit aesthetics.
"icecubes" is a rather sleepy and subdued lulla-tune. The Italian site that was hosting it had some poorly scripted Flash that would play the song instead of allowing the track to be download it as it stated it should. After fiddling around with the site through Google's cache, I was able to find the address of the mp3 and download. And now you can enjoy the sweet sine waves and gentle xylophoning without all the hassle.
The other four songs can be downloaded from Lullatone's site. "wake up wake up" is from the third album, "little songs about raindrops," which replaced "swinging in the park at night" from his second album, "my petit melodies" (I don't know how often they make such changes). "bushman's samba" and "thoughts and clouds" are quite playful, whereas "music box samba" is the song of a lonely child.
The glitchy "yesterday" from Lullatone's third album is available among CNET's free mp3s. Blue Bell has a 30 sec. sample of an exclusive track called "ballet recital," and I found a low-fi, 1:08 sample of "leaves falling," also from "little songs about raindrops," which I rangled away from tar100mg racord's autoplay for your downloading pleasure.
If you have an eMusic account, you can download all the songs from "little songs about raindrops" and "computer recital." If you don't have an account with them, you can signup to receive 50 free downloads for a month, but it requires using a credit card. Be sure to cancel you subscription before the expiration date unless you want to be automatically changed for the next month. I was only able to find 30-some songs worth downloading, and since the eMusic's samples are only 30 seconds long, I ended up deleting some of the songs after listening to the whole track. But I kept all of Lullatone's tracks. If you like what you hear in the 30 sec. samples, you will most likely enjoy the entirety of the albums. However, the third track of "computer recital," "my second favorite song in the world," can be a bit annoying if your not in the mood for it, since it consists mostly of 1-2 sec. long sections that repeat throughout the song.
Lastly, the Observatory Online has three lulla-tunes in ogg format. If you need mp3's, you can find the mp3 release among their listings at the Internet Archive. The first track is actually "beepop" from "my petit melodies," the second track is an OO exvclusive, and the third track, "resound," is from "computer recital." I recommend all three.
"fidalgo (quarterup mix)" by all ordinaries
genre: ambient idm
Another spacious song. Two melodies dance around each other at first. Although they are short and continually reiterating, the interplay of their movements bouncing from the right and left headphones (the preferred way to listen) keeps the song from being too repetitious, and it creates rhythm with the need of drums.About halfway though, the melody plays alone for a phrase, and then a new counter melody (in the form of a classic saw wave) joins it and evovles through panning and a variety of analogue effects. Finally, they are rejoined by the original counter melody toward the end.
"The Atomium part two"
"Requiem for Dying Mothers part 1"
"Piano Aquieu" by Stars of the Lid
genres: ambient, dronology
Slow, mellow, soothing music mostly as duets--droning ambience. I like their music so much, I actually bought their "The Tired Sounds of..." double-disk album from their small distributor, Kranky, which made it the only album I bought that year (click here for more of their Kranky releases).
The Internet Archive is an online library of digital cotent. In their Audio section, they have a directory of netlabels. The link above leads to the netlabel list with descriptions; for the home page of the section, go to http://www.archive.org/details/netlabels. The Internet Archive also hosts music for individuals, but the quality of the musicians varies.
Phlow's Netlabel Catalogue
They have 112 different categories that netlabels are orginized by for the genres of music they host. Many of these netlabels are also listed at the Internet Archive, but there are several still that are unique to Phlow (especially the newer ones). They also have netaudio charts and streaming music of netaudio.
From the Internet Archive: "The 8bitpeoples first came together in 1999 as a collective of artists sharing a common love for classic videogames and an approach to music which reflected this obsession. Our primary interests were to provide quality music for free and most importantly to have fun. In the years since, we have grown in rank and expanded our goals."
From the Internet Archive: "Camomille is a free netlabel project to provide high quality music in .mp3 format to the idm, ambient, blip-hop, glitch, drill&bass, new age, noisescape, experimental, electronica listeners."
From the Internet Archive: "Kahvi is a net.label dedicated to releasing freely distributable music in .OGG format - we specialize in the more ambient and chilled out (relaxing) genre, though we come up with a few surprises along the way. All the tracks are created by unsigned artists usually composing on their home studios. Some even went on to being signed by major labels and are now touring the world circuit, performing live and promoting their music. What our visitors have said about us: 'Beautiful site, love the music, and the great artists!' 'When I spend 100 hours of tedium exploring the Internet, there is only 10 seconds of pleasant surprises which give me what i'm looking for, and Kahvi is one of them... thanks!'"
If it wasn't for the Internet, most of this music wouldn't be available for your listening pleasure, since it isn't well received by the unimaginative recording industry. Take electronic music for example. In music stores, there is a lot of danceable electronic music, but not all electronic fans are into dancing. Also, you won't find much experimental, less traditional, or new electronic genres in a typical music store. There might be an exception to this in some communities that have a great music scene, but for the rest of the world that's tired of hearing music with very little variety, the Internet is our resource. Here, there are numerous styles, genres, and subgenres of electronic music, and the volume of songs just keeps on growing. I'd argue that there's more quality electronic music on the Internet than what can be found in stores, and most of it is free.
With that said, there's also a lot of mediocre and bad music on the Internet, too. If you don't want to spend a lot of time search through general music hosting sites (which can be both rewarding and frustrating, since anyone can get their songs on a general host) you could checkout netlabels instead. Netlabels review songs before hosting them. If the songs don't meet their standards or are too far out of their preferred "sound," the songs are rejected. This keeps the quality of the music they host at a higher standard. Once you find a song or two on a netlabel that you like, then your sure to find more that you'll enjoy in their catalog. For some good sources of netaudio and netlabels, head over to the "Sources of Netaudio" in the menu.
For me, though, music distributed solely on the Internet is enjoyable not only because of it's variety and creativity but also as a way to stick it to the RIAA. I don't need to buy anymore music, and I don't have to download illegal music. I can find the types of music I like and want for free. There's no more buyer's remorse, and if I end up not like a song anymore, I can simply delete it.
***Update: This song used to be a direct download, butYuppster has now included it in his dreamy Ambition EP at Monotonik, and the EP is his best release yet. The song is almost out of place, since the other 6 tracks sound more developed and since he hadn't touched up the 5+ year old "A Year from Tuesday." The file size and bit rate are even the same as the original version I have. It's still a good song; it's just showing its age a bit. :Update***Wonderful bitpop. The reverberating intro and outro make me feel like I'm in space monitoring a radar screen. A little after a minute and a half, the drum track thumps in to pickup the tempo as a precursor to the arpeggiating ringing tones that follow a minute later. I don't exactly enjoy the beat clapping effect, but it's forgivable. Some might say this song is more of an experiment in repetition and variety (like most songs) and that the variety is lacking, but I think it's just enough, which is why it has been one of my favorites for years. More great bitpop and blipblop can be found in 8bitpeoples.com's discography.
"MulchTrip" by Fractal Vibes
Have you ever listened to a fractal? Now's your chance. Polyrhythm can be a beautiful thing especially without drums cluttering it. This is music for people who are too intelligent for or too bored with average, popular music, but it isn't completely "experimental;" that is, it isn't complete chaos. There is order, however the order is in the form of an enjoyable fractal.
I prefer the veriety of "MulchTrip" over "Lightening" It's mellower and warmer. Still, the shapes and structures of both songs are beautifully interesting.