Friday, December 3, 2010

Easy Listening Electronic

Is this blog on its way towards revival? I don't know. But right now I'm caught in the updraft of easy listening electronic music. The stuff that sounds nice and soft while sounding fresh and unique.

Well, first off, I'll say that I'm not talking about any one genre here. Often I find it's an experimentation between genres or at a slower tempo or with a lighter tone. The first song in the mix is something I heard recently quite by accident, and as if like a trigger, it hit me with nostalgia for the other feel good electro/dance/break songs like it. Well, not so much like it, but feels like goodness.

Stray: Frost

What hits me about the song is how the beat just rolls along with that tubular hat sound, and the synths swell in and out, and then the guitar just jams along giving a great organic vibe to the song. It's introduced me to Med School Records, a side-label to Hospital records (which I'll talk about more soon). A great first impression, and I'll definitely look for Stray's releases in the future, as well as other up and coming artists on the label.

I could listen to it all day, but I'd never get this written otherwise. Now, order's not really important here, but I guess I'll work my way backwards (roughly) to another song I came across quite recently by an artist that also appears to be quite new. I don't know if he's got a label yet, but I've listened through his repertoire on his soundcloud page, and I really like the sound he's got going.

Hosta: True Love is a Fairytale

Looking back to the days of garage bands, I listen to this stuff that's got the production quality sheen to it, and the reality of it is that a lot of these musicians start out making music in their bedrooms or on their laptops or things like that. It's almost like the bedroom producer is the new garage rock band, with the exception that musicians have the ability to produce high quality music and distribute it without leaving their own home. Does this mean the music is less 'authentic' because its medium is primarily a digital one? Personally, I love that anyone can get their hands on the kit to make good music. Yes, you still need skills to pull it off, but at least you can reach an audience without sacrificing your first-born child to the major record companies.

Anyhow, this next song got stuck in my head for a very long time since I first heard it. It's got the poppy love-song lyrics fused with an anthemic riff fused with a drumline and bassline that zips along with all the energy of a drum n bass track. And then there's the guitar line again, giving the song a bit of organic soul injection.

London Elektricity: Just One Second

These guys have got a bit of experience up their sleeves, having been in the drum n bass/breakbeat scene with a few albums already to their name. This was my first time hearing them, and it was around about the time I started paying attention to other musicians on the Hospital Records label. It's the mainstream drum n bass sound that's just too nice to be lumped in with the dirty gritty underground drum n bass. It's a different style altogether. But even though Hospital Records pulls some big names when it comes to drum n bass, it's an independent label that produces some pretty interesting sounds.

This next song, for instance, comes from a musician on their label who released his debut album last year. He's done some pretty experimental stuff, and the songs on the album have a wide variety between them. Not bad for a former pencil pusher.

Mistabishi: The Light is Really Bad

His music can be quite aggressive at times, but for Mistabishi, this is really mellow stuff. The drums are punchy and the synths stick out pretty high in the mix, but I think it's the bass that really does it for me. That offbeat drone... well, that and the vocals really smooth this track over. It's funky and grabby and I listen to it and it just works. Mistabishi is not a name to be sneezed at kindly. He's done some brilliant work in his short time in the game, and this song is not one you want to pass up.

And then there's the musicians that thrive off the underground drum n bass scene. Even when I knew very little of drum n bass I'd at least heard of a few musicians that people spoke of as if they were gods. They're names you just know. Like GaGa or Beiber, although these musicians are popular not through trends or marketing or popular music, but because they shit pure talent. Well, the two that spring to my mind so vividly are Noisia and Spor. And since Noisia doesn't really fit the topic, and Spor only just does, kind of, sort of, whatever, here's some Spor.

Spor: Overdue

I might as well come straight out of the gate and say that this guy makes his music with the same software that I've got. I shit you not, this guy really is that good with even the amateur stuff. Another vouch of confidence for the amateur producer. I love this song. The delay on the strings, a simple enough effect, but it breeds atmosphere. And the steady rolling drum beat really amps things up. Maybe not so much feel good, but definitely chilled out in only the way Spor's fast and fierce style can produce.

And now to a song that's just not electronic. Yes, I know, I'm not really following any sort of pattern, am I? Although it is by one of the most innovative electronic musicians around. Yeah, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to flaunt some Aphex Twin around.

Aphex Twin: Avril 14th

This is probably my favourite Aphex Twin song because it's short and sweet and simple and resonates a real musical beauty that is scarcely heard or seen or felt nowdays. It's just the piano, it's just minimal classical. Like a song written by Erik Satie. It's a beautiful, simple little song, and nothing more needs to be said.

And finally, I'm going back to Med School Records for another new artist I came across after hearing Stray. I'd call it minimal idm, but really, it's just a thing of beauty.

Bop: Song About My Dog

The synths sound like they're pulled from a videogame console, and, growing up with those 8-bit and 16-bit gaming consoles, I've grown quite fond of the sound. And I've heard other experimental musicians try this sound too. Kingbastard springs to mind (search him, you won't be disappointed), maybe a little Radiohead, but this guy right here strips it back to its simplicity, its bare bones. It's soft and relaxing, but it's also quite chilling and almost depressing. It's how I'd imagine 21st century silent films to sound like. Emotive and wordless. It's just sounds from a computer, but really, it's much more than that. It's something that sounds like it wants to be real organic music, but the nature of the music is that it can never be.

So just sit back. And listen. And enjoy. Let the music take you places.

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