remote_ thoughts | contemporary electronic

Various – Idol Tryouts Two: SMM – Ghostly International – 2xCD

Posted in Reviews: Electronic by remotethoughts on March 26, 2006

I have to give a special mention to this absolutely wonderful CD from Ghostly international as it’s been playing regularly at my place for several weeks.

‘Idol Tryouts Two’ actually comes as a double CD – the first being the more dancefloor side of their sound – but it’s the second CD, which concentrates on the ‘SMM’ style of their catalogue.

There were two volumes of the ‘SMM’ series released on vinyl and they featured artists such as Christopher Willits, Kiln, Twine, Kosik and more. For me they were the absolute highpoint release-wise of an already great and varied label.

So, they already have a good pedigree, but the track-listing for this CD is simply awesome and you’re liable to be hearing some of the best quality organic Electronica around.

Loscil, Deru, Sybarite, Cepia, Kiln, Greg Davis, Lusine + David Wingo, Aeroc, Christopher Willits, Terre’s New Wuss Fusion, Twine, Tim Hecker, Richard Devine… if that’s not enough to get you excited, I don’t know what is!

The artists each provide a reason as to why they’re so highly regarded within the Electronica scene and whether it’s Loscil’s low-key, rhythm, ambient sound or Sybarite’s more guitar orientated, song-based style, it’s all incredibly beautiful and sublimely deep.

Cepia is recruited for 2 tracks, the first being a dense, almost shoegazing, texture of sound, whilst the second is pure, classic, crunchy Electronica… Greg Davis gets it on with a lovely processed guitar track… Deru plays it dubby and downbeat with incredibly intricate programming and a flowing sound… Tim Hecker is on top form with a melancholy, very beautiful processed track with lots of background noise and heart-string pulling chords… Even Richard Devine gets all textural on us with guitar samples and long, resonant chord sounds…

As a compilation of new and previously released tracks it works like a dream and as an object lesson in how to incorporate guitars and organic sounds into Electronica it succeeds with incredible panache and style.

There’s not even a hint of a bad track on this CD and my respect has to go to the label and the artists for a well rounded and thoroughly enjoyable compilation.

Marvellous.

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Pola – Pola Meets Lyrica – Commune Disc – CD

Posted in Reviews: Electronic by remotethoughts on March 26, 2006

Having released an absolutely wonderful CD [‘Même – PLIP-3013] on the ever-superb Plop label, Pola now turns his attentions to a new full length piece of work for Commune Disc, another Japanese label that has an interesting and engaging back catalogue.

Describing an artist’s sound is never entirely easy and Pola certainly has a feel all of his own, albeit with nods towards experimental musicians such as Snd and Carsten Nicolai. That said, there’s a much larger degree of warmth involved with Pola’s sound and though they share certain similarities in tone, this is a more melodic piece of work.

Once again, like ‘Même’, the tracks are digitally edited together to give you an unbroken and very atmopsheric experience. Whilst there are certain obvious changes in the tracks, you’re left with a pleasing sensation of completeness.

The CD opens with the ambient beauty of ‘Alice Mise À Nu Par Ses Célibataires, Même’ which gently guides the listener into the more rhythmic works. Deliciously calming sinewave twinkles and a subtle array of background sound work into the mix at a pleasingly gentle volume ending only when a suitable atmosphere has been constructed.

‘Crépuscule’ then starts you off on a beautiful journey with hypnotic, processed chord stabs and sweeps along with gentle, click-based rhythms which use a mutant style of offbeat funk to get you tapping your toes (or other body parts).

By the time you get to’Fatal’ you’ve barely noticed that you’re on the 5th track – you’ve been led along in a deeply hypnotic state. ‘Fatal’ itself brings in the notion of a delicate 4/4 beat, a dub-style bassline and incredible resonant chord textures. There’s a beautiful sense of space, yet the track has a lot of sounds going on and it still manages to feel full and complete.

From there the album just continues to grow and creates interesting new forms of electronic ambient funk. ‘Jalousie’ continues the subtle 4/4 tone whilst ‘Lièvre’ makes a foray into more minimalistic territory, yet still aches with warm chords and sounds.

There are completely beatless tracks such as ‘Nombre Imaginaire’ and ‘Radis’ and they form lovely interludes between the more rhythmic elements… a natural introduction to the invariably funky tunes that follow or precede them. They stand on their own though as they have a density and drama that carries them easily… there’s something incredibly beautiful and sad about these tracks and they certainly offer the most melancholy moments of the album.

‘Vanité’ end the CD on a slightly upbeat note and has a major-chord feel to the meat of the chords and a light, airy and rolling dub-inflected bassline. A positive way to wrap things up.

‘Pola Meets Lyrica’ isn’t the longest album you’ll ever hear, but it certainly keeps you listening throughout. There’s a crispness to the production and mastering… a beauty to the melodies and chords… a certain funkiness to the rhythmic structures. It’s glitch, it’s click, it’s ambient… it’s all of these things and so much more. The fact that it comes with a superbly illustrated cover and liner notes speaks volumes about the production values of both artist and label.

Essentially it’s an immaculate, highly engaging and evocative piece of work that’s quite superb.

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