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.

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.

kenton slash demon – ore

A couple of weeks ago, the kind Midwestern mosquitoes decided to give me the gift of West Nile. If you ever wanted to know what it feels like to have it, it’s kind of like being in a feverish hell. Luckily, my case was mild but it left me with a bad case of meningitis, a bed-ridden fever, and an inability to even eat Chipotle.

I KNOW, THE HORROR OF IT ALL.

After a somewhat speedy recovery, I heard that Kenton Slash Demon, the futuristic club duo from Denmark, released their latest song, “ORE.”

We open with a bass line over train-like synths. The initial buildup breaks into an almost Eastern European melody that makes you want to be traveling through a city. It definitely feels like a Kenton Slash Demon song even though it’s a different route than the duo has usually taken, like off “Matter” or “Daemon.” It’s noisier but fits well with their dark dance music. Old fans may feel it’s a step in a strange direction but, for me, this shows the versatility the pair have in production. “ORE” is definitely less of a banger than their other songs but it still holds its own very well against their previous releases. It’s absolutely stunning and it’s up for free download off their soundcloud (link is in the picture above).

For a couple of my other favorite KSD tracks as well as a reference point to older tunes, here’s “Matter” and “Daemon.”

-jo.

no gold – no gold LP

A few weeks ago, I got to go and adventure through Vancouver for just under a week, as a kind of  test run to see if I’d want to live in the city next year. It was the first real trip I’ve taken on my own and I spent the majority of time roaming through the streets listening to music, as per usual.

The music scene there seems very promising. On one weekend, Beirut and Gold Panda were doing separate shows in the city, and quite a lot of acts go through Vancouver on the regular. It’s kind of a necessity that whichever city I end up choosing to live in (a toss up between Vancouver, Tokyo, or somewhere in California), it must have some sort of vibrant music culture to satisfy my craving for live music.

I try to acquaint myself with artists in cities all over the world mainly because there are so many fantastic, untapped sounds to choose from. For Vancouver locals, I really only know of Grimes and Felix Cartal so I was pretty pumped when Mapzzz highlighted a trio called No Gold, who happen to be from the same city. After listening to “Hollarp” I decided to take a look at their bandcamp page and bought their self-titled LP.

 

FIRST LISTEN

1. Rainforce

We open with an onslaught of synths, noise, and Kevin Shields-esque production style. It reminded me of a mix between two of my favorite songs from the Lost in Translation soundtrack – “Goodbye” and “Sometimes” (I realize “Sometimes” is a My Bloody Valentine song). It sets the stage for a dramatic, avant garde album.

2. Rainforts

This opens as a clean transition from the intro track, continuing the rainy feel to the album. “Rainforts” is a strong track off the album because even though it opens with undercurrents of sad tones, this song introduces warm elements the previous song was missing. It’s a good song for a live performance where I think No Gold can alter it based on crowd appeal. The guitars and beat are head bobbable, for sure.

 

3. Weird Week

DANCE TRACK. I want to see this group perform live because of this specific song – it’s catchy, has a driving beat, with such happy sounds that you want to boogie down. The lyrics are funny to boot, making you miss college and being young. It’s short, sweet, and perfect.

 

4. Council Jam

“Council Jam” takes a bit of a detour from the vibes set by “Weird Week.” From the beginning of the song, there’s a reminiscent quality to it, with quieter vocals and a prominent bass line. The ‘hoos’ and ‘haas’ also help set this mood in motion, even as the song picks up within the first two minutes. Buck up though, because like the title suggests, it’s a jam song making the over all running time sit at eight minutes.

5. Mood Hut

This track is noiseish as it opens though it quickly breaks into a deconstructed melody. It has really cool vocal play and an interesting synth/guitar overlay. They do a good job of featuring every instrument in the band with the drummer having a sped-up spotlight than the other instruments.

 

6. We/Be/Do

I feel like I’m on an off-kilter safari listening to this song. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad track – quite the opposite, actually. It does a good job of keeping a flow going for the overall LP but still slows down the album to push it into a more ambient, funkier direction. It’s shorter which adds a nice flavor change from a few of the longer tracks the LP has to offer.

7. Resolver

We’re back to an alternative, noise pop song à la Kevin Shields/MBV. It’s complete flip flop from the beginning vibes of the LP even though it’s a nod back to “Rainforce.” One of my favorites overall ’cause the beginning guitar and synths are darker but it still keeps a finger snapping beat. I can’t say the bass line is sexy, even though we know how I love the sexy bass lines. It’s dirty in a funk sorta way, which is the best kind of dirty.

 

8. Puluti

No Gold’s closing track has a fun feel to it, keeping with the quieter vibes of the latter half of the album while still tying it together with the earlier, upbeat songs of the LP. I’m a big fan of the guitar conversation and the ‘real-life’ sounds of normal life with developing synths coming just underneath it.

 

SAS

After thinking about what ties the album together, I came to the conclusion that the drumbeats make this a cohesive album. Usually, having the same beat drives me up a wall from extreme boredom, but in No Gold’s case this works out fine. They do a good job of vocal play, synth work, and poppier guitars creating a well-constructed album. “Rainforts,” “Weird Week,” and “Resolver” remain to be my favorite songs off the album, while “We/Be/Do” is probably the most interesting track the band put out for No Gold.

Overall, I’d sit the album at a 7. “Hollarp” is a solid example of the growth and potential No Gold has for the future, so I’ll keep them on my list of groups to watch out for. Good job, Vancouver.

-jo.

k.flay feat. felix cartal – rest your mind

This year’s summer weather has made me so angry, not only because of the incessant heat, but also due to it depriving me of my favorite pastimes – night drives in the rain. It’s one of the only times I’ll willingly go outside, take a walk, then drive around for a couple of hours listening to music. For some reason, music in a rainy car has a bittersweet, romantic quality to it. Maybe I stand alone, but next time it’s raining, do yourself a favor and grab your keys, a coffee, and a few  playlists and take a solo drive.

Something about K.Flay reminds me of summer nights and long drives. It’s not because she delivers that type of music all the time, but from the vibes I get from the girl, she just seems like a chill person who digs driving around listening to music.

The first time I saw her perform was a couple of years ago when she did a college tour with Passion Pit. I always get to venues early to catch the openers because if I like the headliner a lot, I’m bound to dig whoever they chose to tour with them.

I remember watching her get on stage, put down a few beats, and rap the crap out of the microphone. One of the best friends had an instant crush on her, only to turn into all out fervor when he discovered she studied psychology and sociology at Stanford. This girl is a complete bad ass.

She recently collaborated with Felix Cartal for their song “Rest Your Mind” which was released yesterday.

FIRST LISTEN

It opens with some heavy bass and “whoops” seamlessly seguewaying into K.Flay’s husky rap. There are still some distinct Cartal synths he throws in, making for a sexy hip hop beat. It showcases K.Flay’s flawless rapping style with cutting lyricism and clear delivery. She’s got mad wit. Cartal uses elements from popular hip hop composition to create a catchy  as all hell instrumental for K.Flay to rap over. Good god I’m geeking out.

SAS

I’ve already started dropboxing this to friends of mine who aren’t as familiar with either artist as it’s such a killer track AND promotes dental hygiene. It’s going on my next fall mix for 8tracks, that much is a certain. I kind of gauged how much I liked the song based on the amount of time I spent smirking throughout it. The longer I have a slightly sadistic look on my face the more I like the song. What? I never said it would make sense.

Link to download is in the picture above. Grab her free EP as well, titled Eyes Shut.

-jo.