speakmansound – make days make brothers EP

It’s been two months since I’ve last written a blog post which is pretty bad for a music-dedicated site. This past semester has been hectic, with the last month being a complete blur of papers, projects, Japanese presentations, and book reports. This, however, doesn’t prove to be a viable excuse seeing as this blog is one of the few things that makes me feel fulfillment and happiness, so I’ve really got to work on this whole time management concept people have been telling me about.

In case you were wondering, no, I will not make that a New Year’s resolution because I don’t believe in that load of garbage. I always strive to improve myself every day, so I don’t see the need to set these huge, possibly unattainable goals at the beginning of the year. There are so many curve balls thrown at you in the course of 365 days so it’s better to adapt to change rather than force it. Some people, though, really need the start of a new year to motivate themselves, so if they can keep to it, then by all means, どうぞ。

I’ve been meaning to write on this EP I stumbled upon via Eton Messywhom I follow for a lot of UK garage, 2-step, and chill tracks, called Make Days Make Brothers by SpeakmanSound. They make up a pair of brothers, Todd and Guy Speakman, who write and produce for the pure pleasure of it, attempting to create music which successfully cross-genres, and also partake in sound design for friends and movie pieces (from what I’ve seen). Make Days Make Brothers also happens to be their debut EP and hot damn, is it impressive.

 

1. Survive This and Dance

This is probably one of my favorite songs of 2012. It opens with a heavy, yet minimalistic bass line interspersed with hi-hats in the background and gradual samplings of vocals. There’s a break with some xylophone sounds then the drop into an all-consuming, sexy, and dance-heavy melody. You can hear that the brothers use an actual drum kit, bass, and MIDI gear to create the sounds. With a sampled voice saying “get down” throughout the song it’s nigh impossible to stop yourself from dancing to this track. Hands down a gorgeous, well-produced electronic song.

2. Finding Will

With such a strong opening the brothers introduced to us with “Survive This and Dance,” they take it down a notch with “Finding Will.” This too has a strong bass line with a similar melodic buildup to STAD. It’s a subtle song, continuing with the somewhat dark, ominous mood the first track brings out. There are actual vocals to the song though they are indiscernible but really enhance the overall effect of the production. It definitely holds its own in the EP.

3. For Days Spent

I’ve listened to this song the least on the EP but it’s not out of disliking it. For the flow of the EP and setting the mood, this song is perfect in production, placement, and aesthetic. There’s a driving, punchy bass line, quiet hi-hats, shakers, and a layering of synths that makes for a hauntingly beautiful song. It’s a reflective piece, suiting the overall sentiment of ending a year and beginning anew. I tend to listen to sadder, more nostalgic songs to reflect on how my past year has gone, and this is a fantastic candidate for that thought-process to fully develop. I’m actually tearing up listening to this as I write this post.

What, I get emotionally invested in music, stop giving me that look.

This EP is probably going to be in my playlists for much of the next year even though I’ve been obsessed for four months already. Keeping my eye on these guys for all of their upcoming releases.

As an aside, when I was finishing this post I noticed Felix Cartal post his 2012 reflection blog entry and apparently we share the same feelings on New Year’s resolutions. Kudos to him. You can peep that post here. He’s a solid writer (majored in English, if I recall correctly) and had an impressive year for himself.

Happy New Year everyone!

-jo.

different sleep – infinite EP

My second to last semester of being an undergraduate student is coming to a close and I find that I keep hitting inanimate objects in a futile attempt to understand where the hell time has gone. As I direct my weekly panic attacks about the future to my parents, I can’t help but reflect on what I have accomplished, and what time I’ve wasted in being a directionless twenty-something.

While it doesn’t solve anything to harp on the past and debate the woulda-coulda-shoulda’s, as a senior I’m finally recognizing all the annoying advice my parents gave me as kid as something I should have actively followed. I’m a second generation Indian which should, theoretically speaking, make me a doctor, lawyer, astronaut, mathematician, or Indian breeding machine. Alas, I fear I have eternally disappointed my parents in pursuing music, baking, and a general distaste (i.e. lack of talent) in the sciences.

I COULD PROVE THE AMERICAN DREAM CAN COME TRUE, IF I BELIEVE.

Okay, enough shouting, my shift pinky hurts. Let’s bring in the latest EP by Different Sleep aptly named, Infinite. I’ve been very behind in writing this blog post due to school and life obligations, so please accept my sincerest apologies.

FIRST LISTEN

1. Be My Center

We open with one of my favorite Different Sleep releases from June which I dedicated an entire blog post to months ago. You can read that here. More on how I feel the song works in context with the rest of the EP later.

2. Infinite

We now have the title track to the EP and the first six seconds remind me of Baths production style, though less minimalist. It has rolls and waves sprinkled throughout the song making it an alternative song in a soundtrack for Ponyo. It has this twisting buildup and breaks into a very ‘old school’ Different Sleep production style. The sampling is on point with other artists on the Svengali label which is what draws me to their music to begin with. I can’t get enough of this song, it’s a stunner and makes me tear up thinking about memories of the past.

Also, I finally figured out what this song reminded me of – Taragana Pyjarama’s song, ‘Ocean.’ If you haven’t heard it already a link to it on YouTube can be found at the end of the post.

3. 2013

From the start it has an upbeat melody and boppy synths which leads to a lot of furious head nodding. The buildup in the first minute is so well executed. Different Sleep proves to be a very capable, diverse producer because this is a DANCE TRACK. It’s got a very Euro feel to it and is catchy as f**k. I’m freaking out so hard in my apartment right now because this EP is continuing to throw surprises. #@*($&#)@*( already building the perfect set for a sexy dance party with this track as one of the spotlight songs.

4. Make It Real

 The song starts off with a very dreamy quality to it. Coming off the energy-driven ‘2013,’ this adds for a nice transition into a dream of wandering through a forest on that horse from The NeverEnding Story. Straying awake from the darker tones the previous song introduces us, the synths and echoing vocals adds for a very sweet sound. It has a smooth beat which further adds to a dreamworld I never want to leave which is highlighted by the sounds of footsteps at the end of the track which makes it the perfect close to a phenomenal EP.

SAS

Both in and out of context, this EP absolutely nails it. Really loving all of the releases Svengali has put out on their label with a lot of Chicago artists being repped hard. It gives me insurmountable amounts of joy to have such mind-blowing music come out of this city because it’s been a part of my heart for over two decades now.

The EP is up for free download off the Svengali bandcamp page with a link to it in the picture above. DOWNLOAD IT. LOVE IT. SPREAD THE WORD.

As mentioned above, here’s Taragana Pyjarama’s song ‘Ocean.’

-jo.

groundislava – suicide mission ft. baths

We’re nearing the end of the year, and I have to say, some of the collaborations this year has put out has blown my mind away. “Money Makin'” with Dillon Francis and A-Trak; the producer trio Hoodcats (shortcircles and James & Evander); Felix Cartal and K.Flay dropping beats in “Rest Your Mind”; Different Sleep and Mister Lies teaming up for their glorious Mass EP; and so many other have made this a compelling and musically rich year. This is the best time for producers from around the globe to get together and push boundaries in genre blending and putting out experimental music, since listeners are craving for diversity.

Such a fantastic time we live in, seriously.

The other day, Groundislava released his music video for the collaboration he did with Baths (one of my all-time favorite producers) to the tune “Suicide Mission.”

It opens with echoing vocals and a lo-fi drum beat which breaks into Baths distinctive singing style. “Suicide Mission” is an ethereal, spacey song that makes me want to watch videos of the Milky Way and drift through universe. The video game bleeps throughout the track add to the sci-fi vibe Groundislava and Baths have going on in the song. The accompanying music video makes little sense to me, but it fits the atmosphere of the track perfectly. This is probably one of the better collaborations of the year and it makes me want to hear more tracks with the two of them working together. Excellent production and almost comical video style but it works perfectly for Baths and Groundislava.

-jo.

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.

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.