This is the weekly installment where we recap what we’ve been spinning at The Synthesizer Book headquarters during the week. If it’s on this list, it got played more than once!
1.Hot Panda-Volcano…Bloody Volcano
I stayed at home with my 3 year old earlier this week. He was running a fever and looking rather sad most of the morning. As a parent, you start to worry. Late that morning the doorbell rang and it was the mailman with my Hot Panda album. A few seconds later I hear “was dat?” and I replied that it was a record. He asked if he could have it. I obliged. He made his way down to the studio, turned on the turntable, asked for some help and hit the start button. From that moment on it was as if he had breathed new life. Let me be honest, I don’t know if it was entirely the music that cheered him up. It could have been a bunch of things really, but when you’re worrying about their well being and something, anything, cheers them up, you take note. I saw this band last week and have been really interested to learn more about them. You know I’m going to tell you it’s a good album. Whether they intend to make rock and roll is still not immediately obvious, but the mixture of tracks here is a reminder that this band will do well in the coming years and I wish them well and will say it again, keep your eye on this band.
2.Solvent-Apples & Synthesizers
This is a good album that I am glad I got back into again. This originally came out on Ghostly International. It got some much deserved press in several magazines I read back then. Using step sequencers, vocoders and his vast collection of analog synthesizers, he put this album together. I haven’t asked him yet, but I wonder if the Apples title has anything to do with Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon. I’ve always liked Solvent records and this is the one that set it all off for me. One thing that makes Jason Amm aka Solvent so appealing to folks like me is, he’s not afraid to show us all what he uses on his albums. Just read his record sleeves or go to his website here, and you will get the 411 on what is good. Stay tuned as we will be interviewing Solvent and some of the other artists on Suction Records very soon. We will be asking him about lots of synthesizer goodness.
3.Solvent-Loss For Words
For some reason I just love the intensity of the kick drum on this track. The intro has a filtered drum machine sound…as if someone squeezed out all of the low end. However, all of a sudden the kick drum just booms right in your face and I like that very much. It is followed by some good analog string sounds and Solvent’s vocals. Subject To Shift has been on my turntable for most of the week, but this track is one of my favorites and I can see why it was released as a single as well. If you’re wondering where to start with his latest LP, I would suggest to check here first. It’s a good indication about just how far he has come over the last few years. We’re fans. That’s our story and that’s what we’re sticking to.
The track list on this album reads like an all-star list. In all there are 24 tracks on offer. Some of the artists include, Burial, Four Tet, Thom Yorke, Joy Orbison, Tim Hecker and lots, lots more. My favorite though, is still the one done by Joshua Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv. You can read more about it here if you so desire.
5.John Foxx-Ghost On Water & Like A Miracle
These 2 tracks are off of an album called The Golden Section. The LP was originally released in 1983. I picked this record up in a local record shop last Fall. It was in the bargain bin. “It’s John Foxx,” is what I thought when I first purchased it. I think John Foxx was right to go back to the electronic sound with his upcoming album, Interplay. It’s where I think he sounds best… singing over analog beats and lots of synthesizers. Of all the tracks on The Golden Section it is Ghost On Water and Like A Miracle that sound closest to that Metamatic sound. Gareth Jones is credited as engineer on these tracks and on a few others too, but I was left wondering if his involvement had something to do with the sound that is the completed product. Either way, I played this LP quite a bit, but it was these 2 that stuck out for me. They have those echo filled signature John Foxx vocals and there is a bit more synthesizer on these than some of the other tracks on the album. This came out around the time when everyone quit calling them synthesizers and went with the mass accepted keyword “Keyboard”. On this record too, JJ Jeczalik is credited as Fairlight programmer, but I don’t hear much after the first few bars that sound programmed on Someone. Twilight’s Last Gleaming, the albums closer, also is worth a few spins too.
6.David Byrne & Brian Eno-Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
With Brian Eno you can always expect some artsy name to be associated to his work. Whether its an album, song or art installation. So, if everything that happens will happen today, Mr. Eno, what can we expect? Or has most of it happened today and I’m just catching up. This was released in 2008 and since David Byrne has been on my mind for a while, I thought I’d give it a spin. I also saw Brian Eno give one of his talks a couple of months back. I like these artists and this is a good album with some good tracks. Of course nothing will beat the work they did together on the Talking Heads albums, or even My Life In The Bush With Ghost, but this is good and I recommend it. There are some synthesizers sprinkled throughout, but these guys are legends and this is a good album too. I’ve reviewed this before, but I played it a few times and so, here it is again.
7.Erceus Exit-Compensation For The Sound of Silence
Richard Duggan is behind this recording and responsible for most all of the output contained within this album. The whole time while I was listening to this album, I just kept thinking about when electronic music had developed into a much harder sound. Like at the start of the 1990’s to be a bit more specific. Synth-pop had reached its saturation point and top 40 charts had exploited the formulas of the previous years and left anyone with a non-conformist attitude seeking to find something else. To me it seemed like no one wanted the softness of synthesizers mixed in with pop anymore. Bands like Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, Front 242 and even Ministry were using synthesizers and electronics to produce harder and much darker music. I gotta say, this isn’t a bad thing in this present time or looking back on it retrospectively. Richard was also my Logic instructor. We had some good conversations about dynamic range which seems to be missing from much of what is out there right now. That said, there are lots of artists not cranking up the compression and overwhelming us with side-chaining walls of noise too. Some are presenting another side to the aural assault. Duggan is one them. There are 12 tracks on the this album and there is another CD with different remixes of the tracks. I like this album’s intensity, vocals and the nod back to a time when electronic tracks were getting harder and darker. To learn more about this artist go here.
8.The Chemical Brothers-Container Park(Hanna Motion Picture Soundtrack)
I’m surprised at all the recent electronic soundtracks. Actually, maybe not surprised, but rather extremely happy that some of the artists I admire are making scores for movies. I guess you can’t be a touring and club musician your entire life. If you could, why would you!? The makers of this movie are saying the The Chemical Brothers score will rival the ones for Social Network and Tron Legacy. Yes, they went there and I appreciate the bravado. My only question is when are they going to make an album that sounds like this? Although I’ve only heard bits a pieces of the score done by Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, already I’m looking forward to its release in a couple of weeks.
French producers Pilooski and Pentile have produced one very good synthesizer filled album. The French have really been leading the way over the past decade with electronic music, in my opinion. It’s not that they’re making revolutionizing electronic music, it’s just they’ve taken the best elements of the past and mix it well with the present, and I like that. There are some good dark moments mixed in throughout this album. There is even a little bit of what sounds like Calypso on Falkenberg. There are some minimal Disco elements, but what I like most is that it’s not that contrived or overdone as has been the recent trend. There are some robust synthesizer textures throughout . As you would expect, there are some great drums throughout too. It’s become a necessity, right? Antiphonie starts out with what sounds like a plucked stringed instrument. It sounds kind of like some eastern koto or something. Then it builds into a dark masse of sound. Right in the middle of the album is when I think they start sounding really good, especially with Ring Mutilation, Depression Skit and Grace. Homo Compatible sounds like the intro to a suspense or even a horror movie. In a previous platter I reviewed Synchronize. This is the track that features the former Pulp frontman, Jarvis Cocker. What you need to know is that this album has a little bit of everything and please, for the love what is good, do not pigeonhole this album. It’s electronic, it’s got lots of synthesizers and it sounds damn good.
10.Billie Ray Martin-Sweet Suburban Disco (Vince Clarke Remix)
I was checking out some Chris Carter favorites on Soundcloud and stumbled onto this track. I like what Vince Clarke has been up to in his Cabin studio lately and this is no exception. It’s a club track that I am quite certain is getting some spins. I wouldn’t know, but I’d be willing to bet. It’s a tasty track featuring the very wonderful voice of Billie Ray Martin. It’s got a stomping 4 on the floor kick too and some good synthesizer swells throughout and those electronic high pitched toms made me smile. Great stuff. Give it a listen right now.