becoming real – slow memory (damu remix)

This weekend was the first time that I spent the duration of it (with my mama in tow) doing activities special to my campus. I ventured out to our micro-breweries, attended the annual beer and chili-taste-off festival, and even went to one of the largest farmer’s markets to my part of the state. Maybe it’s because I’m a senior and have decided to (finally) show some semblance of school spirit that I indulged in these excursions.

Or, rather, it’s because I feel so left out. Nah, that’s not true, I do plenty of killer things in Chicago and surrounding areas to not feel burdened by my lack of being on campus. Worth it.

An electronic producer who has a real knack for throwing curve balls in songs released a remix the other day which has been playing repeatedly on my music player. Damu, such a love of mine, released his remix for Becoming Real’s song, “Slow Memory.”

The slow, gradual introduction to the song leaves a quickly satiable taste in your ears. It breaks into broken drums and distorted vocals creating a very nighttime-esque mood to the track. It’s got elements of his LP, Unity in it, but also has a Kenton Slash Demon feel to the song as well. The overall atmosphere is like entering an underground, Euro dance venue with off-kilter songs in its midst. The synths and drums are what does it for me in this song with the echoing vocals in the background adding for a sultrier feel to the song. There are tell-tale Damu samples sprinkled throughout the song, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s one of the quieter songs he’s released from his past tracks, but, for me, it is one of the strongest and most dynamic songs he’s had thus far.

Time to night walk, over and out.

-jo.

miyuki – ghostly vibes EP

Autumn is my favorite season for many reasons, one of them being that it makes people look so much more attractive. The blinding neons of this past summer have finally been put away, introducing neutrals and more flattering tones on people’s bodies to the picture. The biggest downside of this wonderful, slightly chillier weather is that girls are already bringing out their North Faces and Uggs.

It’s too early for this crap. I have to choke back the urge to gag on impulse whenever I see a standard sorority girl mosey on by in this get up when it’s not even October. Seriously people, there are so many more interesting pieces to introduce to your wardrobe to look stylish AND stay warm. I’ve been drooling over the All Saints look book for this coming fall and want militaristic everything in my closet.

Why is fashion so expensive and why must I care so much?

This weather has re-instilled my love for night walks and the female producer Miyuki has been on my playlists for the last couple of weeks. She’s Japanese and hails from Russia with an affinity for dark moods and dream walking showcased in her EP, Ghostly Vibes.

1. Ghostly Vibes

The lo-fi feel of the song makes for a somber song in general. Echoing synths and break beats adds to the quieter ambiance of the song. It reminds me of Baths “Departure” with the sadder, lower quality feel to it. However, Baths and Miyuki prove themselves as solid producers since “Ghostly Vibes” evokes so many emotions that it gets hard to speak when the track comes on. The underlying vocals are dreamy and makes you want to drift off for awhile.

It’s an attention grabber.

2. Things We Left Behind

It opens with mellowed out drums and someone speaking in a foreign language (Russian, maybe? Not entirely sure). There’s some serious bass going on in this song making for a really interesting zone-out song. I listened to this laying on an outdoor pavilion and it was an intense experience.

3. Syberia

I have yet to travel to Russia but when I do I feel like this song would be the embodiment of what I’d feel when traversing the streets at night. It’s a bit heavier in the melody, adding an aggressive song to the EP. It’s subtle in the way this plays out, but the bass and drums make it  have a much fuller sound. It’s a little creepy but so artfully done that it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

 

4. Dreamy Mind (feat. Jan Amit)

This was my second favorite song off the EP because it continues with the melancholic mood introduced by “Ghostly Vibes.” It’s also one of the most melodically diverse songs Miyuki gives us with the more dynamic synth line she produces. It closes the EP off nicely making it full circle and does a good job of keeping the listener intrigued. The vocals stand out the most here even though there aren’t lyrics to speak of. It’s a well-produced track, overall.

This is one of my favorite Fall musical works that I’ve found thus far, and it’s only the beginning. I liked the direction Miyuki took with this EP even if the middle two tracks lost me a bit. She began and ended the EP out strongly and, letting each song stand independently of one another, each track is well-executed. Double points for her being a female producer – I want to see more women delivering compelling albums and tracks in the future.

Portals had an interview with Miyuki recently which can be found here. Check it out, support the site! It’s one of my favorite music sites to follow.

-jo.

svengali – oº˚slow˚ºo

I don’t understand why technology has to be such an asshole sometimes. Here I am, all excited to start working on music production with my Maschine and my computer decides to not read the hardware.

Jerk.

Now I’m reinstalling the entire software in the hopes that I can get it to read again. It sucks though, I was on a creative high and the technological world decides to put a damper in my plans.

Mind over matter, jo, remember that. Yes, sometimes I refer to myself in the third person when I’m in a particularly trying situation.

Update: Spent three hours re-installing Maschine software and fixing plug-ins and finally got my hardware to work. Excited to try my hand at beat making.

The other night, one of my favorite up and coming producers (in the same world as Mister Lies, Different Sleep, and Soleman) dropped a stunner called “slow.” This has been on repeat for the last few days much to the dismay of my neighbors.

From the get go it’s a gorgeous medley of breaks, R&B samples, luscious bass lines, and lovely synths. The distorted vocals creates an atmosphere of playing in fallen leaves and long walks in chilly weather. I especially enjoy the middle portion of the song when we leave the first major breakdown and enter into a realm of vocals and an intense buildup. Svengali proves himself to be a well-versed producer based on this release and his compilation of artists, including himself, on Svengali Vol. 2. He’s really quite apt with dream pop and electronica in general, sampling from a wide range of places to create dynamic sounds.

I’m obsessed with this song and feel I may be in an eternal honeymoon phase with it.

-jo.

ali barter – trip EP

Lately, I’ve been feeling really driven to do something with my life. I’m coming to the end of my college career and it’s absolutely daunting that, in less than a year, I’ll be expected to become an “adult.” Suddenly, I find myself thrown into unknown territory where I’m looking up grown-up jobs, possible graduate schools, insurance, and ways to move to Canada.

What can I say, I’m ready for a change of pace.

Since I was a kid, I never really felt determined to do anything with life, nor would I try to pursue any sort of dream I may have had. This was mainly due to my wanting to become a pastry chef which my dad laughed away, though it is now a much beloved hobby. One of the perks of my college experience is that I’ve been able to fight for music in a way I’ve never fought before – I’ve dabbled in DJing, reviewed musicians and albums, and even started this lovely blog for you beautiful readers.

I’ve been lucky to find my passions at a young age, and have these seemingly different worlds connect so well with each other. Japan, music, and baking have collectively made me a person I’m proud of.

Okay, sentimental time is over, let’s cue in some new tunes by Ali Barter.

What initially drew me to this girl was that Thrupence did the artwork for her Trip cover, and it is absolutely stunning. I’m drooling into my beer bottle like a freshman due to pretty-overload, pardon me.

1. Run You Down

I don’t often write on non-electronic music, but when I do it happens to be groovy folk jams. Ali Barter opens up with smooth vocals over a lush melody of piano, guitar, and drums. The haunting lyrics of “I’ve been trying to run you down,” sets a darker mood for the EP, by lyricism at least. It reminds me of Rachel Yamagata meeting Ben Kweller and having a nice cup of coffee. Not quite as grunge feeling but there’s some sort of groove the different artists play on. This is a sweet track and Barter does a fantastic job of creating a song that would do well in live performances.

 

2. Riding Bikes at Night

This is a favorite of mine off the EP. Since I’m not usually one for lyrics in songs, this was a change of pace for me because I found myself more partial to the words than just the melody. It’s the layering she does with the instrumental making a perfect compliment to her voice. An absolute beauty.

 

3. Little Bruises

This is a quieter song off the EP and probably one of the saddest songs she bequeaths onto us. I can’t help but stare out the window and fall into a quiet flood of memories of past people I’ve dated. This is another favorite of mine because of how adept she is at writing lyrics. Must be all that Australian air going to her brain. Instrumentally, the guitar stands out the most for me, with the drums adding a nice nostalgic mood.

 

4. Marigold

“Marigold” is the most folk-oriented song Barter gives us. It continues with a quieter feel that “Little Bruises” introduced to us. It’s a sweeter song, thankfully taking away from the sadder qualities of the EP as a whole. I say this with a grain of salt because it is still a melancholic song in general. The highlights here are the guitars with Barter’s soothing voice over it.

Thrupence and Ali Barter are just adding to my desire of adventuring to Australia. Maybe that will be my treat next year.

-jo.

spectre waltz – affirmation

In the last few weeks of stagnant summer heat slowly changing into my favorite season, fall, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as baking desserts for the school year. I noticed a significant decrease in the amount I was churning out this past summer due in part to being at home and not having any of my designer baking tools at the ready. Yes, I spend weekends perusing Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table in pursuit of new gadgets to add to my growing collection.

Right now, I’m avoiding Japanese homework like the plague and have instead baked a batch of homemade brownies which will soon be sitting in my stomach happily. Nom nom nom.

This past weekend, I spent time back in Chicago to see Amon Tobin perform who is now one of my new favorite performance artists. That stage. Those effects. Legendary. While at the show, I noticed Mister Lies post about a song by Spectre Waltz called “Affirmation” and I’ve been waiting to play them on my main speakers. Let’s do this thing.

FIRST LISTEN

We open with some static noise like putting on a new record. It begins layering echoing synths on top of an entrancing female vocalist singing inaudible words. Then, the bass drops and it turns into a very out-of-body experience. I feel like drifting at sea among ethereal mermaids and schools of fish. It changes tone and goes into a grimier place, with a calm drift turning into a raging storm. It’s a subtle shift from the rest of the song, but it is still sensual as all hell. Goodness me, my body is shaking because of this bass.

SAS

In anticipation of Nosaj Thing’s upcoming album (three years since Drift is far too long a time), I’ve started making night drive mixes again, and “Affirmation” is going on those, for sure. It’s a gem.

The song is up for free download off Spectre Waltz’s soundcloud and I’ve already started following him. Superb work, good sir.

-jo.

TNGHT – TNGHT EP

I’ve always been the kind of person who doesn’t care for natural light in apartments. The more cave-like the place I’m living in is, the happier I am. This year is a big change of pace for me, since not only do I have many windows (three in total), I also have a street view; this makes my favorite pastime, creeping on people, a complete and total win. Despite having to deal with sunlight and general life-related noises (hah) I get to watch bros and their female counterparts do what they do best – exist.

What did you think I was going to say, eh? Get your heads outta the gutter.

Just the other day I go to watch five guys sit in a row at the bar with their MacBooks out, most likely trying to beat the Korean student population in StarCraft. The beers helped, I’m sure.

Having my own place again means that I can listen to the strangest music in my archives without anyone (roommates, neighbors) pestering me to turn it down. An even bigger perk? I have a corner apartment meaning I can be as loud as I so desire and can redecorate whenever the feeling comes to me.

A friend sent the self-titled EP by TNGHT my way and I haven’t been able to stop playing it repeatedly.

1. Top Floor

It’s like the start of some adventure movie set in caves. Rattlesnakes, echoing voices, and seamless transition into one of the sexiest drum beats I’ve heard in awhile. I like the eerie vibes the song puts out from the get go setting the stage for a heavy EP.

2. Goooo

#*$(&#@*_#$. I couldn’t stop freaking out the second the drums kicked in coupled with overloading synths. This became a fast favorite of mine because of how the song sounds so grinding. Goodness me. It’s got such a dirty feel to it and makes me want to take my shirt off. Okay, done, now I feel more at ease.

3. Higher Ground

Fun fact, as the VMAs are going (not watching since I’m devoid of cable), Calvin Harris tweeted that he played this song for all of 25 seconds. Can you blame the guy? It’s reminiscent of Damu vocal play with heavy synths, bass lines, and kick drums going strong. This is the clear stand-out track TNGHT intended for and it makes me all sorts of warm inside.

4. Bugg’n

Okay, I have a fear of children making noises that I can’t see. I was instantly creeped out by the opening baby gurgling but I still enjoyed the song. Not a favorite off the EP but still a solid track throughout. The water drops as a beat served as a nice surprise from the rest of the song, kind of reminding me of Diplo production. He likes that watery kinda sound, ne?

5. Easy Easy

Another banger which TNGHT cleanly delivers for the EP. It ties together all the previous songs, bringing in production elements from each track making for a holistic sound. I really enjoy the song, even though it isn’t as strong of a sound as “Goooo” or “Higher Ground.” It’s got a great driving factor, though, which makes it worth putting on my fall playlists.

I wasn’t as quick to post about this EP as I should have been but that’s okay – better late than never, deshou?

-jo.

guest post: chicago asian hip hop summit III

Image(Flyer and Photo: kevinhsia.com)

This September 8th heralds Chicago’s 3rd annual Chicago Asian Hip Hop Summit. Held in Logan Square’s Elastic Arts Foundation, the summit this boasts an impressive lineup of local Bboys, MCs, DJs, and artists. Too many to list here, check out the full lineup after the jump at the event page here.

Shintaro Zero,  a rapper performing with his crew known as Terra 5 hit me up with an exclusive listen of  his not-yet-publicized Terra 5 EP. A review will be made in my next post, as well as including select favorites of the summit performers.

-Kevin