Saturday, December 22, 2012

Leaving My Waiting Room by Sunlight Ascending

Leaving My Waiting Room cover art

A bit hard to describe the music that "Sunlight Ascending" is producing, but let's give it a try. You have the "post-rock" way of doing things with the heavy guitars, the power drumming, and the over-the-top intricate melodic work ("Multivac" is a good example of that). But you also have a good number of quieter tracks bordering into the downtempo and even ambient genre (listen to "Gleaming Apollo" with its very organic sounds for example). Of course, there's a lot in between, in particular, slower tunes with strong melodic hooks and heavy percussion. What makes this album an instant favorite is the diversity and quality of the tracks.

My favorite tracks on this album are among the slower and quieter ones:
- "Vladdie",
- "Gleaming Apollo",
- "The Wind Factory",
- "Picking Up Where We Left Off" (it does pick up some steam at some point),
- "They're Lonelier On The Outside", and
- "Inamovable" (hard to believe there would be a soft piano piece in this album listening to the first tracks but it is definitely here).

The heavier tracks deserve attention as well:
- "The Dhanbad Rails" (slows down considerably after the five minute mark with the introduction of one of my favorite instruments, little tiny bells),
- "Multivac" (probably the heaviest track on the album),
- "Gamma", and
- "Leaving My Waiting Room".

What's left are the short leading track "Reductio Ad Absurdum" and "Kalkaska" which starts relatively uninterestingly and develops into a lovely fast melodic driven track (it slows down to make things interesting, of course).

This album keeps you on the edge of your seat, captivated, never knowing where the current track is gonna go and what the next track is gonna be like.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Al Kemet by Ketsa

Al Kemet cover art

This 14-track album is full of little melodic gems. The compositions are quite varied in terms of rhythm (from delicate to heavy beats) and style (there are elements of flamenco, reggae, jungle, drum and bass, glitch, dubstep, and more in there).

This album is not the usual release, it really takes you places. All 14 tracks are well crafted and offer something of value to the listener.

I would like to focus on a few tracks that I think are the most representative of the album:

- "Solution", the title track, has a definitive Far Eastern influence. It also features a distorted slowed down voice that seems to come from far above ... or below. The melody is well crafted and it really hooks you.

- "Separation" is a piano piece where a strong jazz influence can be felt in the percussion patterns. It also features strings and flamenco style taps. The melody is here stripped to the bare minimum as the melodic motif is repeated all through the track.

- "Comixition" is rhythm driven with a melodic motif that's played legato style with no discernible breaks.

- "Purification" is a quieter piano piece with no percussion but with very soothing vocal stabs (like an incantation). This is to me the track that would appeal to the largest audience (the first single if you will).

- "Fermentation" is my favorite piece. The main melodic line is simply clever and well complemented by the jazzy percussion and the secondary melodies on the organ. A brilliant piece indeed.

- "Fixation" has a strong piano content with a great melodic line on the upper register and bass work on the lower octaves.

Note that the first part of the album (the first 7 tracks) is much more chaotic (in a downtempo sense) than the second part which is more delicate, well, except for the last track, which is a mix of reggae and dubstep (at least, its signature wobbly bass).

If you like strong melodies embedded in crafty downtempo tracks, this is an album to listen to over and over. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

There is no place like home by Buried Redshoes

"Buried Redshoes" is a musical duo from Italy, Syracuse, to be exact. They seem to be fond of crafty melodies and this wonderful instrument that is the glockenspiel. The melodic lines are airy, often supported by a soft downtempo beat. Apparently, it's a clever mix of "real" instruments and electronics.

The album opens with "A white chair", which I think gives you a good idea of things to come in the album, aptly named "There is no place like home". There are ten instrumentals in this album of twelve. Two tracks have a guest vocalist, the last two, but they are reprises of two instrumental tracks. They are nice additions to the album as some kind of bonus tracks.

My favorite track is probably "Where do we go from here", although it kinda suffers from Bandcamp's 128 kbps mp3 compression and it's a bit on the short side. The tracks on this album are pretty much all equally strong and I don't really have anything bad to say. The only thing that bothers me a little is that the album is stream-able but doesn't seem to be downloadable, which is kinda odd. Maybe the release date of "01 January 2013" is not a typo after all. Go figure!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blue Horns by Trestles

I have been a fan of the LA duo that is "Trestles" since I "met" them on reverbnation, when reverbnation was cool. I was pleasantly surprised to see them on bandcamp under the "Chimera Central" collective.

Eighties style synthesizers, heavy percussion, and samples are the bread and butter of Trestles. The eighties influence is pretty evident, and it's a good thing. Of course, the album would not be reviewed here if it didn't have strong melodies as well.

My fave tracks on the album are: "Trussell Royal-Tea", "Bobbit Drive" (the percussion is epic and the crowd seems to agree with me), "Time Is Digitized", and "Yeti". "Yeti" is a very long track (11:45), it's really two tracks separated by an interlude of soothing crashing waves. The second part is what seems like a collage of samples from a boat racing movie accompanied by a pretty cool melodic line.

I really like this album as a whole. I have a few (minor) criticisms though.

"Ladyhawk" samples Falco's "Der Kommissar". To this day, I am not completely sure it works because that 80s anthem has been so over played and heard that it becomes annoying. "Eggrolls" is not a bad track per se but it kinda seems out of place in the album, with its heavy jungle/urban feel. Not saying that having widely different tracks in an album is a bad thing. Check for example "$" which is a slight departure from the rest of the album with its heavy use of spoken word samples and slower tempo ("Yeti" also).

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Idea Giraffe by justoneguyinhisbedroom

It's always difficult to describe somebody's music, so let's start with what justoneguyinhisbedroom (weird name) himself thinks of his craft: "I [...] tend to produce music that is built up of several short melodic loops that is rhythmically driven by heavily processed percussive samples." Melodic downtempo would probably be a good 2-word fit for his music. The percussion not only provides a beat (it is more or less pronounced throughout the album), but also a nice contrast to the often layered delicate melodies that make up the tracks.

The rhythmic work is impressive. The melodies are delightful. The instrument selection works well. My favorite tracks on this album are "A Nice Frothy Top" and "I Like Not Knowing". If I had to choose a least favorite track, it would have to be "Allow Me To Consult My Idea Giraffe". I found the melody played by the grand piano to be rather weak (too bad because everything else in that track sounded great).

Ugo Capeto definitely recommends "The Idea Giraffe" by justoneguyinhisbedroom.