Tuning In: About Tuning Into The Obscure + Contact info and Submissions

Hi!

You’ve found the front page of Tuning Into The Obscure! I know the date on this says May of 2011, but ignore that. Scroll down for new content.

And now, the obligatory front page bio stuff and contact info….

Finally, the ‘new blog’ is up and running.

Over the past few years, I’ve been on a mission to find the best music on the planet, whether it be old, new, well known, obscure, underground or mainstream, or completely unknown previously. I started this project on an older, more personal blog but eventually figured it’d be easier to post all the music stuff here.

So here, you’ll find reviews on a variety of genres as well as interviews with artists and labels, spotlights on musical history, band previews and other various ramblings. Occasionally, I may even slip in some bits of my own music.

Submissions and Contact Info:

If you’re an artist/in a band or are a small label with some music you think the world should hear, contact me! Seriously, send me some tunes! Submissions are always welcome in all physical formats and mp3s. All genres are fair game.  Please note that if you already have my mailing address, it has changed as of May 2012.

Contact: lonelyfox_music@yahoo.com

Twitter: @Hound_of_Music

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New Rock for Early April 2014 Part One

Casper and the Cookies – Dingbats – Wild Kindnes / Stuff Records

Pop rock, jangle power pop and indie goodness! This marks the start of the fifth killer album by Casper and the Cookies. Catchy, energetic and addictive tracks make up both sides of this sweet LP – yes, thus far it’s vinyl only!—and there is not a dull moment on the record. “Jenifer’s House” I think is my favorite track. Need a comparison for the sound? Can’t help you there! It’s fairly unique but hints ever so slightly at 70s/80s garage pop mixed with hints of new wave, power pop and of course a heaping helping of jangle. This stuff is awesome! (4.9 out of 5)

Ewa Gigon – For Natalia/Early Winter 7” – Arkhangelsk Recordings

Hauntingly beautiful instrumentalism kicks things off on the A-side. Strings, guitar, and background voices make this track ultra engaging while bringing on a sense of longing. The B-side showcases the lyrical and vocal talents of Gigon, which, I might add, are quite impressive and hauntingly beautiful. Simply amazing! (4.9 out of 5)

 

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New Rock For Mid March 2014 Part Three

Vintage Cucumber – Tee Sessions – Self-released

Charting somewhere in a soothing mixture of ambient, kosmische and psyche, Vintage Cucumber delivers this lovely EP, riding on the heels of the album “Yoki Style.” Each track creates a brilliant atmosphere, stirring together each musical element flawlessly, resulting in the creation of a breathtaking universe. Fans of the more ambient side of Tangerine Dream, early Kraftwerk, Krautzone and Pete Namlook will fall for this release and all of Vintage Cucumber’s growing catalog. (4.9 out of 5)

Human Behavior – Golgotha – Folktale Records

Described as “gloom folk,” this album packs a sad yet sweet punch. It is very easy to see why they gave the genre its description. At times, it’s very cheerful sounding but the lyrics can still be dark, while at other points, everything is dark – so dark! But damn is it irresistible! “You’ll die and you’re OK with it!” This album truly is beautiful; it’s vocals are amazing, the writing is stunning and the instrumentation is awesome. The sound reminds me of a darker and more melodic Fleet Foxes (if you can believe that). Available on vinyl and CD! (5 out of 5)

We Are Us – And This is You – (self-released )

A three track single featuring prime retrofuturistic pop rock with hints of indie and jangle. The band uses a neat brand of vocal harmonies that I’ve not heard in a while, giving it an edge of blissful awesomeness. The standout track for me is “Talking to My Baby” for sure. Catchy, dynamic and well orchestrated, it amazes me this band’s yet to be picked up by a label. This is really killer stuff. (4.6 out of 5)

Cosines – Computer love 7” – Fika Recordings

While the cover art sort of references Kraftwerk, the sound here is very much indie rock, bordering on pop. Sweet lyrics and perfect jams highlight this single with bits hinting a little at Blondie, September Girls, and the Vaselines. Catchy as hell! (4/7 out of 5)

New Sound of Numbers – Invisible Magnetic – Cloud Recordings

From Athens, GA, comes the New Sound of Numbers. Their 14 track LP features an interesting blend of instrumentation, ranging from elements of indie rock to usage of a violin, complex vocal/fiddle melodies/harmonies, xylophones, and synths. This kind of puts the album in a league of its own. At times, the sound is a little bit like the B-52s and others, haunting and deeply melodic, perhaps hinting more at Fleetwood Mac, or maybe a mellower Polyphonic Spree. Whatever comparisons you might find, the fact of the matter is that this music, while brilliantly unique, is really quite good. Grab this album while you can! (4.7 out of 5)

Kira Velella – Daughter EP – (self-released)

Indie-folk country-folk folk-rock goodness! With the soft soprano voice of a songbird, Kira Velella’s EP is a shining star of genuine songwriting and rich yet simple instrumentation. The music has been described as songs for old souls and their inner child, and I can see what they’re talking about. It’s poetic yet easy to grasp, happy yet somewhat sad. This is great stuff. Cannot wait for more! (4.9 out of 5)

 

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New Rock for Mid March 2014 Part Two – The Soft Power Records Episode

Soft Power !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Wharves / The Rosy Crucifixion – Split LP

From the very opening track on either side of the record, I knew this split LP was a true gem. Side A is by The Wharves and remind me is a heavier, more melodic Vaselines. The songwriting and vocals are just amazing. Charting somewhere between pop, melodic psychedelic pop, garage rock and punk, this half of the record is breathtaking.   Flip it over, and enter The Rosy Crucifixion! The tempo picks up a bit here and leans a little closer to garage/punk than Side A. It’s blissful, slightly lo fi and catchy. Damn, this side of the LP really draws me in! Over all, this split LP is superb and fans of either band will love this, as well as for fans of the Vaselines, September Girls, the Doors, and Dott. (5 out of 5)

Blood of the Bull – The Bend Over EP 12”

More sweet rock with female vocals! Fusing a little bit more electronic elements into this sweet-cynical rock – pop mixture, this EP resembles a bit of Aggi Doom, but that’s maybe because it shares one of its members here. I think my favorite track on this has to be “Hold Your Head Up High And Go Fuck Yourself.” Enough said right there. Fans of Aggi Doom, Ladytron, Air, Dott and the Vaselines will die for this EP. Another release where I ask, where has this been all of my life? The message behind this recording is certainly one I can get behind. (5 out of 5)

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New Rock Reviews – Mid March 2014

Quailbones — Lord Dion’s House of Discovery 7” – Self-released

Glorious lo-fi and wild punk-pop-garage-psyche!  Could we call it some form of post punk?  Three tracks on this 7” and each one is a trip in itself.  Seriously, this is some wild, wild stuff.  There is no comparison, so just imagine the most blissed out 7” ever.  Unique! (4.8 out of 5)

Kid Icarus / Cold Coffee – Split 12” – Summersteps Records

This sweet split features two stunning bands.  Cold Coffer offers up a very genre-shifting set, ranging from Primal Scream styled pop to psyched out garage rock, hitting every sweet spot in between.  This is something I’m going to spin a lot, trust me.  Solid from start to finish and fresh every step of the way.  Kid Icarus offers up a sweet dish of garage-pop-indie rock bliss that I fell in love with after just two tracks.  Seriously, where has this been for so long?  This is really good!  I would say this split is a good intro to both bands if you’ve not heard of either of them before, and it’s a good way to uncover a little bit about what the label is like as well.  Sweet!  Thank you, Summersteps!  (4.7 out of 5 as a whole)

The #1s – Sharon Shouldn’t 7” – Alien Snatc! Records

Dublin’s own holds their own.  70s styled power pop punk rock at its finest with a modern spice that’s addictive.  Seriously, I don’t know why I am so surprised at how killer this single is, coz like, after all, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard their material.  Just so damn catchy, engaging and fun.  Love it! I wnt a physical copy!  (4.8 out of 5)

Cars Can Be Blue – Trace the Tension – Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records

Our good friends from HHBTM have returned with this rocking gem on both LP and CD for your listening pleasure.  Here’s a trio of dirty punk pop goodness fronted with female vocals that are just oh so perfect!  This new offering features fourteen tracks, each one letting out a wild vibe unlike anything else out there.  It sounds like a mixture of a wilder Breeders, Dead Milkman, and the Muffs, right on the money, I’d say.  Sweet stuff!  I want more from this band!  (4.8 out of 5)

Fixing Bayonets – Goodbye Wisdom – (Self-Releaseed)

Here’s a single from the band’s upcoming EP, which will be titled “Bloom Sunset Horizon.”  This is a glorious dreamy rock oriented haze, fusing pop-rock elements with indie bits and a dash of retrofuturism.  Some folks have drawn comparisons to Jesus and the Mary Chain and Ride, and I can totally see that.  I’m psyched for the new EP, so it better come out soon!

Krautzone – Kosmische Rituale –Sulatron Records

True to the band’s name, Krautsone create something purely magical. Poised neatly in outer space somewhere between kosmische/krautrock, psychedelic rock, this mega force is something to be heard.  Presented here are three LONG tracks to get completely lost within, each touching at hints of ambient, space rock and put you somewhere in the space between the inner most parts of your soul and the deepest reaches of space.  Fans of Electric Moon, Pink Floyd, early Tangerine Dream, early Kraftwerk, Zone Six and Sula Bassana’s solo material will fall in love with this.  This is the debut album for this project and its thus far available on limited edition vinyl…. I WISH I had a physical copy of this.  This would be stellar on vinyl! (5 out of 5 – KEEP ME PLUGGED IN!)

The Matchsellers – See the Light – Self-released

Following up on the release of their first EP, the band moves into a gospel direction.  The sound here is similar to their debut but its refined and bold, mixing classical Americana elements into gospel themed tunes.  This is a very mature sounding album and will please fans who are looking for something fresh on the folk front. Solid perfection! Can’t wait for the band’s next release for sure! (5 out of 5)

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Jigsaw Records Showcase Late Winter 2014

Jigsaw Records !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Watoo Watoo — Une Si Longue Attente

Sweet, melodic, poppy, jangle, chanson, indie rock tunes in French!  Female vocals and mellow instrumentation give this album such an incredible feel.  There are a few elements of jazz and folk hither and thither, furthering the brilliant blend to sweet new horizons.  The band reminds me of a more indie oriented version of Air, Cranberries and perhaps a dash of REM mixed in as well.  Awesome record… just awesome!  (5 out of 5).

Charlie Big Time – Sale or Return EP

Changing gears a bit, here’s a few tracks leaning more in the retro-indie-pop-folk, perhaps hinting a tiny bit at a hazy and dreamy Paul Simon, REM, Beach Boys, 70s dream-folk, dream pop, and tracks folks might hum around a campfire.  I find this EP really refreshing, sitting between a sort of retrofuturism and uncharted folk pop territory.  Mellow and dreamy!  (4.7 out of 5).

Bennetts — Dreamkepper

Jangle jangle jangle!  Seriously, I’m getting hooked on this stuff.  Here, we have a blend of sweet jangle rock with tones of pop and indie packed with unique vocals that make this cool little EP hard to resist.  It’s hard to say exactly what bands the sound reminds me of…  Oh, screw it. I’m just proclaiming it as purely unique.  Buy it for yourself and see what I’m talking about! (4.7 out of 5)

Beanpole – From Blue to You  – Jigsaw Records

Here we have some sweet female vocal harmonies swinging gently with strings, guitar and top notch structuring.  It’s more jangle pop, but it is infused with lush and interesting bits of flutes, string sections and really superb indie guitar work that touches a lot on folk rock styles.  There’s nothing not to like about this album.  Jigsaw seem to have found a sweet niche sound in their artists and bands that is purely engaging and entrancing.  Love it!  (4.8 out of 5).

Tripping The Light Fantastic – Is Tripping the Light Fantastic

Blending a little bit of electronics into the jangle, this band sounds like a smoothie consisting of REM, Talking Heads, Vampire Weekend, Charlie Big Time all sweetly pour together with prime indie, pop rock and psyche elements.  This makes one heck of a smoothie.  It’s jangle meets indie pop meets a radio friendly blast of fresh air.  Super prime!  Not a dull spot to be found here!  Good song writing, good vocals and flawless instrumentation. Score! (5 out of 5)

 

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Body Control Records Showcase

BODY CONTROL RECORDS!

Dorosoto – Molly’s Mood / Acid Industries — digital

What can I say about Dorosoto? Well, how about he’s finally got a new release under this project? We’ll start with that.  This is also the first release for Body Control Records.  Earlier works under the Dorosoto project had been more in the realm of ambient and drone but this is, dare I say, radically different?  Blistered and distorted beats smacking into solid acid grooves while rattling a dark ambient melody make up “Acid Industries”.  This is a wild change from the Dorosoto I know, but damn, how I LOVE this!  “Molly’s Mood” hints a little bit at the Red Falcon Projects darker side but staying true to the atmosphere of this release.  It’s darker than the other track, if that can be possible, and gives me a whole new appreciation for acid oriented electro.  Not since Trill’s release on I, Absentee a few years back has an acid release impressed me so much.  (5 out of 5)

Various Artists – Global Systems Vol 1 – CD-r, digital – Due out April 1st

Let me start off by offering the list of contributing artists: Sint, Gosub, DJ Stingray, Mr. Myoplast, Cybertone, Victoria Lukas(Inkamera), Retrig, DAS MUSTER, H.P. Sneakstep, Robodrum, Resting Cell, Paul Blackford, Dorosoto, Master Jet the Destroyer, Missqulater, Cygnus, and Mandroid.  That said, this is one hell of a mix.  It’s dark electro, acidic, and my god is it captivating.  I want to dance, use this as a soundtrack to some experimental film, mute a video game and use this as its soundtrack, and meditate to this all at the same time.  This is the definition of a solid trip.  The beats are woven in perfectly and don’t dominate the music as much as one might think electro music might, but rather it works with it to create something purely whole.  It amazes me how well each track flows together, as if one artist remixed everything into one giant mega tune.  This is great.  I’m eager for its release! (4.8

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Talking Skull Showcase Late Winter 2014

talking skull

Talking Skull !!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is the label that brought Sun Brimmer to my attention via a nice little cassette last summer.  The review for that is here on the blog.  So, Talking Skull graciously sent over some diverse and new material for my listening pleasure that I hope you’ll like as much as I do.

Hot Date – Hot Date — Cassette

Remember how I said they sent over a “diverse mix” of stuff? Here’s our first example.  Whereas Sun Brimmer was kind of on the folk side of things, this cassette rocks us with experimental, abstract, noise stuff.  Some of the strange sounds here seemed to be sourced from guitars while others aren’t so obvious.  That said, Hot Date makes magic by combining these hauntingly dark bits together, creating a strange world half in shadows and half in dreams. At times, the sounds come close to sounding human, which makes some tracks extra creepy, but nonetheless captivating.  Awesome! (4.8 out of 5)

Kappa Chow – KC I/II – Cassette

Ito push the diverse tunes along, here we have some punk.  And holy shit is this tape awesome! Killing it somewhere in a mixture of grunge, punk, garage and noise rock, this makes the earth shake. Don’t believe me? Watch this.  The sound here reminds me of early Mudhoney crossed with some 80s punk and of classic, sick and slick garage awesomeness.  No weak spots to be found; this is a wall to wall solid release and dear god, makes me want MORE!  (5 out of 5)

Leamers  — Summer Cream — 7×5” Postcard Flexi

Wow.  First of all, this is a postcard I can play on my turntable.  That’s pretty cool.  Secondly, the music, which is a nice blend of punk, garage and lo fi and just divine.  Nice, loud, raw and sweet lyrics sprinkled with just a hint of pop give this shiny spinning card the right amount of kick.  This makes me excited to check out more material from the band.  Scope out their Bandcamp page!  (4.8 out of 5)

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What’s New From PSYCHONAVIAGATION Records

PSYCHONAVIGATION !!!!!!

Derek Carr — Binary Son –18th November 2013 — Limitation: 100

Eagerly following on the heels of his successful album, “The Digital Space Race,” Carr offers up some soulful techno on this shiny new record.  It’s a nice slice of Detroit styled techno, bringing bits of ambient and some light hints of house to the table, making me think of Derick May and Juan Atkins – I know I’m not alone in thinking that, the press kit I got with this bundle mentioned that as well.  There is definitely a bit of early 90s mixed into this beauty and by god that makes me so nostalgic.  Granted, this album is not a rehash of stuff we’ve heard before; it remains fresh, new, engaging and fun while being familiar.  Great stuff! (4.7 out of 5)

Geisha – Further / Closer — 28th October 2013 — Limitation: 100 

This is a travel themed album, visiting places on Earth and across the universe itself.  The tracks reflect this with many of them starting off with a certain theme and then changing completely a few minutes in.  This does not make for a disjointed or scatterbrained feel but rather creates a very thought provoking journey.  We get mixes of ambient, trip hop and a salad of other genres, slicing and dicing up nice portions of the organic and the synthetic, creating a dish with immense flavor.    This a definite masterpiece.  Everything on this album works and fits perfectly and leaves me aching for a follow up.  (4.9 out of 5)

Joel Fausto & Illusion Orchestra — Illusion Orchestra at the Gloomy Club – 200 Copies

Ambient, jazz and post rock collide with a very dark and entrancing result..  This album combines dark ambience with organic jazz elements: sax, slow beats from the set, guitar and a vibraphone give birth to a deep stormy whirlwind.  Occasionally we get vocals, letting a haunting specter of post rock lurk in the background.  I keep saying we don’t get enough jazz here at TITO and I am reward with perhaps the darkest bit of it I’ve heard in a long, long time.  It’s like a soundtrack to the most tripped out and dark noir film ever conceived.  Wild! (4.7 out of 5)

Off Land — Tidewater Pulse — Limitation: 200 

Our old friend from the FSOL Forum returns with a new release on Psychonavigation.  This follows on the heels of “Circadian,” and “Overlook.”  And while “Circadian” felt mysterious, this album sends us drifting in a gentler direction.  This is quite an ambient album but it also touches a lot more on modern classical elements.  The piano and strings create a shimmering light and shadow effect, sending me floating into dream like states.  This emphasizes lighter and darker moments on the album exceptionally well.  There are some voices here and there floating in the mists, whispers and textured echoes that to some might find it haunting while others may find it enchanting.  All in all, Out Land does not let us down and gives us another brilliant deep and spaced out jam.  (4.7 out of 5)

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White Fox Mask: Review, Thoughts and Musings.

Not sure how often I’ll be able to do this given how many music submissions we get here at TITO, but I’ll try to get some film related stuff on here when I am able to.  So I figured that this might be a neat place to start.

WFM

THE FILM:

White Fox Mask is a full length film by GWYCKY Films.  It dips its paw into a few different genres: surreal, romance, fantasy, drama, fairytale…  And it does this rather well.  We follow the love, confusion and curiosity of Fedorico (or simply, Rico), the lead singer in a local rock band as he follows the trail of his lover, Vivienne.  The film takes us for a dreamlike ride of flashbacks, dreams and the confusion that Rico’s reality becomes because of his encounters with Vivienne.  The more involved Rico becomes with her, the stranger things get.  Nothing’s as it seems.  On a mission to find out exactly who she is, he runs into a variety of people under surreal circumstances.  All of which are connected to Vivienne somehow and this mystical woman in a white dress who wears a white fox mask.  There is no doubt that Rico truly loves Vivienne, despite seemingly running into some of her ex-lovers, being stood up/ditched or even lied to, but his desire to find out the truth and to just love her in general seems to blind him from the real world, which continues to go on without him.

I took nine pages of notes on this film.  I very much appreciate the fact that it is making me really sit and think this out.  The plot Is not a hard one to follow, don’t get me wrong, but there is a lot going on here that the viewer, through Rico’s experiences and perception, must unravel.  To put it simply, Rico is really lovesick for this girl, you see, but something is not quite right.  What does that man in the van want with Vivienne?  Why does he follow her around and ignore her when she tells him to leave?  Why is there a guy in camo warning Rico not to get too close to her?  Why are all of these people, men and women, following the white fox, arguing with her and/or professing their love to her?  Why won’t the fox respond to them?  Why is the fox killing them and burying them under a light layer of fresh picked weeds?  Is the fox connected with Vivienne?  And why does Rico, upon seeing all of this, still want to be with Vivienne?

One Possible Way to Look at it:

There are quite a few perspectives one can take when figuring out this film, so let me try this approach first.  Even though I’ve been assured that this really isn’t a fox oriented fable or folktale like the kitsune stories from Japan, it’s hard to avoid making a few parallels to them.  In Japanese folklore, there are good fox spirits and bad ones, and the bad ones are usually out to trick you, run off with your wife/daughter/husband, or kill you in some fashion and getting your life force.  When I came upon the scenes in which the White Fox is walking into the fields, river or forest with scorned/enamored lovers in her wake, I couldn’t help but think we were heading in that direction.  Not one single person ever seemed to notice they were on the trail of a fox (except for the camo guy), as if they were under a spell that prevented them from seeing her true form.   Sure enough, with a powerful kiss, she’d bring the individual to their knees and they’d soon collapse.  She would then bury them under grasses and weeds.  I assumed Vivienne was in league with the fox, perhaps even a fox herself.  Perhaps the two of them plot to make a spiritual meal out of the lovers they ensnare.

Well, that’s one idea, anyway…

Another Way to Look at it:

Perhaps the fox is more of a symbol, meaning, in this case, there are a lot of forces at play that are making it hard for Rico to trust Vivienne.  You have several men and one woman who seem madly in love and insane with anger toward the fox and two of these men go to great lengths to follow Vivienne, either to study her or to abduct her (the man with the van accomplishes this on one occasion, and the guy in the camouflage seems obsessed with information and comes armed with warnings for Rico not to get too close or to have sex with her).  Rico manages to rescue her from the man with the van and doesn’t seem to pay much heed to any warnings, but is defiantly put off and baffled by Vivienne’s constant coming and going, vanishing on trips to get coffee, standing him up/ditching  in the middle of dates, not being truthful about where she lives, etc… Yet, despite this wild mystery, he cannot stop thinking about it her and spends days at a time searching for her.  The mystery around Vivienne could be symbolized as the fox, which in its own right is traditionally a mysterious and tricky creature.  The more Rico is faced with these strange encounters, let downs and stories, the more ensnared he becomes in the mystery itself until it consumes him completely (when the White Fox takes him) and he loses himself.

Another Viewpoint:

Have you ever experienced the pain of losing/parting ways with the supposed love of your life?  Do you remember the intense and uncontrollable feelings that accompanied that and how long they lasted, what they did to you and how those feelings affected your life as a whole for that period of time?  The world certainly was not the same place, was it?  This might be the case for the characters in this film that are following the fox.  They are tortured, angry, but still in love, following forever the object of their desire until it leads them to self-destruction.  Rico is well on his way to a similar fate.  Here is a young man who has lived a comfortable and relatively normal life, jamming with his band and living alone until he meets the beautiful Vivienne and through his deep yearning, his reality changes drastically, becoming this sort of surreal, bizarre, and at times, nightmarish world.  He becomes consumed with longing and thus, he loses focus on the real world.  Eventually, he is lost within it, becoming a part of the fairytale and dies while trapped inside it.

All That Said, Some Thoughts:

I enjoy movies like this.  When reality becomes so intertwined with the surreal that nothing is as it seems and the ‘everyman’ has to figure his/her way through the chaos to make sense of it all or gets completely lost in the process is something I find utterly fascinating.  The filmmaker uses flashbacks to their fullest potential, giving the film an almost nonlinear feel but still managing to keep things on track and moving forward.  This film has stunning visuals, which is amazing considering how little time the crew had to shoot it.  The locations are beautiful, the acting is convincing and the characters, symbolism, storyline and soundtracks are very engaging.

I feel the filmmaker and writer accomplished what they had set out to do and I absolutely enjoyed the experience this film created.

Rating (4.5 out of 5)

Info:

While there isn’t a set date for a DVD release yet, they are trying to make that a reality.  In the meantime, there is some work being done to get it up on-demand.  Until then, scope out the White Fox Mask FB Page.

The soundtrack was created by Dorothea Tachler and all live music was performed by Jump Back Jake.

Want a fox mask for yourself?  Check out MeriMask; her work is incredible!

 

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Astralwerks Turns 20!

ASW

#astralwerks20

I can’t believe it.  I feel so old now.  This was the label that got me into electronic music all of those years ago…  So, to celebrate their (belated) 20th birthday, I’ll share my favorite releases from their vast discography.

1– Amorphous Androgynous – Tales of Ehpidrina – 1993

The first release on the label, and an impressive one at that!  Here’s a side project from FSOL that marked the transition from their more ambient house phase and their experimental ambient phase.  It is safe to say this release was highly influential in the world of electronic music.  Classic.  This became a quick favorite of mine and still gets loads of replays.  (Our review for this release is here!)

2– Irresistible Force – Global Chillage – 1995

A prime piece of ambient that seems to go unnoticed.  This is full of longform tracks and sweet, blissful spaced out jams.  This is great both on vinyl and CD.  Brilliant.  (Our review for this release is here!)

3– Aquarhythms – Greetings From Deepest America

A groovy little album compiling some original tech house tracks and remixes from artists that include Rabbit in the Moon, Morgan Geist, Deep Dish and Carl Craig.  This is fairly underrated, as far as techno albums go, in my opinion.  Great stuff.  (Our review for this is here!)

4– Fluke – Risotto

This album is an essential mixture of hard hitting techno/rock and easy grooves.  Killer singles from this include “Absurd” and “Atom Bomb.”  Fans of Fluke will love it as will fans of trip hop, electro rock, big beat and leftfield.  Superb!

5– Cassius – 1999

French house at its finest.  This was my first real introduction to it and I remember having mixed feelings about it at the time, mostly because this was so “new” to me.  There are some highly infectious tunes on this release that made  this an instant classic in my eyes.  My personal favorites include: “Cassius 99,” “Le Mouche,” “Foxxy,” “Somebody” and “Planetz.”

6 — FSOL – Lifeforms

The groundbreaking ambient 2xCD, heralded as essential to this very day.  To put it simply, upon playing this album, my life was changed forever.  This is so imaginative and inspiring and it clearly changed the face of ambient music forever. (Check out our review for this here!)

7 — FSOL – ISDN

FSOL continue their game changing and genre bending parade with this live-from-their-studio-via-ISDN-broadcast album.  Again, this was a real mind blowing album, remapping where ambient was going and smashing all previous ideas of the genre.  Essential.  (Our review for this is here!)

8 — The Chemical Brothers – Dig Your Own Hole

This is credited as one of the most essential ‘dance’ albums of all time.  The Chemical Brothers shatter genres with each album they create, making new and innovative tunes that keep you thinking but also keep you moving.  This was my first taste of the duo’s discography and I was thrilled to get a copy right as it came out; it was rare to find techno in general where I was living at the time.  This remains my personal favorite to this day with “Surrender” at a close second.

9– Source Direct – Exorcise the Demons

I think this was the second drum’n’bass album I got my paws on, second to Photek’s “Solaris” at the time.  I was very impressed with this album.  Yes, it had some minimal elements but the dark and edgy beats kept me engaged.  Plus, this was driving music for me on four hour road trips to the Maryland coast at the time.  Good times.

10– Joi – One and One is One

I was eager to get my paws on this when it came out but I never found a copy.  I managed to get the band’s third LP first and it wasn’t until years later that I found this used in a bin at the record shop.  I love this!  It’s a groovy mixture of Indian instruments and western dance elements, riding along the lines of Indian Ropemen and others.  This album just makes me happy.  Classic.

11– The Beta Band – s/e

Ah, dude, The Beta Band.  Catchy songwriting, groovy instrumentation and by God, “Broken Up a Ding Dong” is my favorite track from them period…. Next to maybe “To You Alone,” but that’s for another review.  This is a MUST have.

12– Excursions Into Ambience – The Fourth Frontier

I love the entire series but this volume here is my personal favorite.  It features some rare tracks by the likes of Node, Ben Neil, FSOL (as Far-Out Son of Lung) and System 7 (as 777), amongst others.  The album itself, while a compilation, makes for a solid play-through, giving us one hell of a trip.It certainly makes me wish that Astralwerks would pick up the series for at least a volume five installment to take us once more into uncharted territory.  (Check out our review for it here!).

13– µ-Ziq – Royal Astronomy

This was my first release from Mike Paradinas, long before I realized he had started his own label and before I really found any earlier releases from this project.  This release hopped around between deep space beats, wildly powerful synth oriented tracks, experimental drum’n’bass tracks and playful house type tunes.  One of my favorite tracks of all time, “Autumn Acid,” can be found here.  Fun stuff.

14– Sunna – One Minute Science

The depth of this album shouldn’t be overshadowed by the semi-success enjoyed by two of its tracks that found their way onto a few soundtracks.  The rest of this LP had some lyrical genius and instrumental power that caught me off guard when I bought it around the time it was released.  I remember it was being marketed by the radio stations as some sort of “nu metal” album but with the vast amount of acoustic tracks and surprisingly potent lyrics, this was something much more than that.  I love this album to this day.

15– Rarewerks – Vol. 1

As a long time follower of the label, I flipped when I found out this was coming out way back when.  I mean, rare Cassius, Photek, FSOL, Air, Q-burns Abstract Message, Primal Scream, Fatboy Slim, Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx and the Beta Band all on ONE disc with a new Scanty Sandwich tune?  You really could not ask for better than that!  And it was SO worth it!

16—Royksopp – Melody AM

Even though this band went on to have a lot of very successful albums and singles, their debut album remains my favorite.  They expertly sampled and diced “Blue On Blue” into a work of perfection that became “So Easy,” weaved sweet vocals into the haunting track, “Sparks,” and made us dance with the classic “Poor Leno.”  No hype, no fuss, just perfect cuts.

17—Fatboy Slim – You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

This one should go without saying.  Following up on the success of his debut album, this record put big beat techno into the homes of almost everyone.  This became one of the best-selling techno albums of all time, with nearly every track becoming a single.  This album was fun, inventive, catchy, naughty, resourceful and timeless.  This solidified in my mind what the perfect sample-based dance record should sound like.

18—Spacetime Continuum – Sea Biscuit

Jonah Sharp was already becoming a well-known figure in the ambient house ‘scene’ and this album really put him on the map.  This ambient gem is so well crafted that it even found itself a home on Pete Namlook’s FAX label.  Flawless and essential!

19—Kings of Convenience – Quiet is the new Loud

Part of the “Norwegian invasion,” this folky album quickly found a place in my hearts.  I especially fell in love with the track “Toxic Girl.”  Brilliant songwriting and wonderful production.

20—Kraftwerk – Tour de France Soundtracks

If reissuing the single wasn’t enough, the band came back together and gave us this thrilling new album and Astralwerks brought it stateside.  Those robotic voices will forever be in my head! Thanks!

LP Honorable Mentions:

Soul Oddity – Tone Capsule

Primal Scream – XTRMTR

Photek – Risc vs. Reward

Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor – No Protection

Tranquility Bass – Let The Freak Flag Fly

Gearwhore – Drive

Boymerang – Balance of the Force

Bentley Rhythm Ace – s/e

Wagon Christ – Tally Ho!

Low – Owl Remix Low

Les Rythmes Digitales – Darkdancer

(various) – Werks Like a 12”

AIR – The Virgin Suicides OST

Clinton – Disco and the Halfway to Discontent

µ-Ziq Vs The Auteurs – s/e

Beth Orton – The Other Side  of Daybreak

AIR w/ Baricco – City Reading

Innerzone Orchestra – Programmed

(various)– My House in Montmartre

The Chemical Brothers – Surrender

My Favorite Astralwerks Singles / EPs:

Basement Jaxx – Red Alert

µ-Ziq – Brace Yourself

Scanty Sandwich – This One

Kraftwerk – Expo 2000

Gabin – Doo Uap Doo Uap Doo Uap

FSOL -  Lifeforms Paths

FSOL – We Have Explosive

Steve Fisk – Express God

The Micronauts — The Jag (yes, it was on Science but on Astralwerks samplers)

The Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats

The Chemical Brothers – Loops of Fury

Ben Neill – Sistrum

Drain – Regional Action!

Photek – Terminus

Photek – The Third Sequence / Titan

Uberzone – Bounce

Fatboy Slim – Bird of Prey (Sunset)

Air – Playground Love

Joi – Asian Viibes

Skylab – Exotica

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