Archive for the 'Down-tempo' Category

Album – Between Voices – Anti Atlas

Posted by admin on 2nd August 2008

I made a concious effot to get some reviewing done today. Got myself all geared up to do one set of reviews and ended up doing something totally different. I sat at my computer all fired up for something a little up-tempo and out of the corner of my eye, I caught glimpse of a CD I haven’t seend in a while. “Ah, Anti Atlas”, I thought, “I reviewed that one ages ago”. Something made me search for their name in my email and low and behold nothing came back, well nothing from me anyway. Ooops, nearly fell through the cracks, but nice recovery from me.

I put the CD on and memories from a year ago came flooding back, memories of my then newborn son. I used to listen to this CD, to unwind and relax. My mood suddently changed. I was no longer, wired for something fast and furious, I had a tender spot that need itching and this CD would do it nicely.

Opening with “Wait for Me”, this is most definitely down-temp, chill music. Back in my youth, this is the kind of album I’d have put on, after coming back, wired from a night on the town. Yes, I realise that makes me sound like some old codger, but that’s what we used to say and I can tell you, it’s not that many years ago. As the dawn began to rise and your mind was still spinning from the excesses of the night, this kind of music was the perfect lullaby to unwind and mellow out to. “It’s a Shame”, has the most wonderful vocals, courtesy of Gemma Hayes. They’re breathless, haunting and exceedingly sexy. In fact all 8 tracks here feature different vocalist from all over they world, and they are all exceptional.

“Cool is the Night” is just an amazing track. It has that effortless, flying through clouds feel to it. The vocals, this time are provided by Richard Walters and they wash over you, wonderfully. There’s an sound that features ever so delicately, on this track, which reminds me of the theme tune to the old 60’s TV show, the Persuaders I think it was, the sound was also featured quite a lot on another 60’s TV show, Prisoner, can’t think what the instrument is called, but it’s a string instument stuck by sticks.

Although there’s only 8 tracks on this album, it still adds up to nearly 40 minutes of music. All the tracks have that late night chill vibe and are each masterpeices in themselves. Fantastic stuff.

Conclusion : This is a great album, to wind down to. An essential addition to your collection, if you need something to take the edge off every day life.

Posted in Classical, Down-tempo, Lounge | No Comments »

Album – Field Recordings from the City – Sheltered in Sound

Posted by admin on 20th May 2008

As I sat listening to this CD, it was hard for me to know where to start. There’s a real starkness of emotion, overlaid an equally stark musical backdrop. While I wasn’t immediately sure what to make of it, I found myself like a deer in the headlights, with an impending collision awaiting, however as the lights got closer, the danger was replaced with an open embrace, a turnaround that that happened, oh so quickly.

Although I’ve had this album a good few weeks, it was an album I knew I had to invest some time in. Family life is a wild and complex ride, so fitting in some laid back, “starkly intimate” music, can often be a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I could well have put this album on and let the music wash over me, but then I wouldn’t have had much to write about, apart from the rather pleasant listening experience.

I’ve listened to this album a good few times. From my car stereo, to my home stereo and computer, but it’s only now that while giving myself a refresher on the tracks, that I was blown away by how it sounds on my laptop. Not that it didn’t sound great before, but there’s just something that really seems to be stroking my laptop speakers the right way. Opening with “Falling Stars”, there was a lot that reminded me of Rob Szabo, maybe not too surprising when you consider that both Rob’s album, “Like a Metaphor” and this album were produced by Scott Cooper, long time favorite of Indie Launchpad and a guy who really knows how to fiddle with those buttons to get an incredible final mix.

Some of the songs on this album, bare comparison to either Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen, but more in their heyday as opposed to their current incarnations. Musically also the songs here are much softer, more reserved, but no less powerful for it. “Held Hostage by a Restless Heart”, I can almost hear in my head, coming from the mouth of Springsteen, but as mentioned earlier, here there’s much more softness, almost fragility. “We’ll Meet Again”, is a much more conventional acoustic/folk song, but again the sound quality and production shine through, especially the cello, or is it sampled cello, that floats wistfully beneath.

It’s almost all glorious perfection. I say almost as the only track that managed to sour things somewhat for me is “Sleepwalking”. From the reverb on the vocals, to the lacklustre guitar and the really grating drum machine that drove me nuts, every time the track came on, I wanted to hit the next button. In the big picture it’s not a terrible track, just a track that most definitely was not my cup of tea. Now “Mir” had me won over almost immediately. There’s nothing radically out of the ordinary, it’s just in keeping with the rest of the album, and just a track that manages to tick all my boxes. When hearing the first couple of seconds of “No Words”, with it’s drum machine effect, I thought I was going to hate this track, but thankfully the drum machine is fended off for the remaining three minutes or so, and we’re left with another winner.

“Welcome to Generica” has a slightly different sound to the accompanying songs, but it’s refreshingly different and giving another edge to the album. “Requiem in A Flat Minor”, again has a different sound, which while I was glad for a bit of diversity, something about it didn’t click. Were it not for the last track’s title and lyrics, the final two tracks “In Birth and Death” and “One Last Song” would have rounded things off much better had they been swapped. Now this may well be one of my quirks, but unless it’s something compelling, I much prefer a darker, more sombre track to end an album such as this.

Conclusion : Whilst this is an album on the darker, more melancholic side, it’s not at all doom laden. There’s an amazing, almost compelling quality to the songs, that really draws you in and keeps you transfixed. A wonderful album, from an undeniably gifted musician, who I’ll be paying close attention to in the future.

Posted in Acoustic, Down-tempo | No Comments »

Album – Cool Aberrations – General Fuzz

Posted by admin on 19th August 2007

I’m constantly amazed at the amount of amazing music I discover. I’m also occasionally amazed at the amount of artists that give away their music for free. I first reviewed General Fuzz back in September, with his great Messy’s Place album. I was totally blown away then, by the album that I’d found on my hard disk, with no recollection of downloading it. This time around however, I was conciously looking at his site, hoping that there would be something new, as I’ve done several times before. A few weeks ago I hit pay dirt and this is the album, that in his own words, when talking about his music “…raising the bar for free quality music a little higher”. I have to disagree a little. This doesn’t raise the bar a little, it elevates it into the stratosphere.

As with the previous album, the majority of the tracks weigh in at between 4 and 6 minutes, but there’s a few of the 11 tracks at around the 3 minute mark, the first track “Acclimate” being one of them. Man, what a way to begin an album. For anyone not familiar with General Fuzz’s music, it’s a kind of mix between Vangelis, Sven Vath and Tangerine Dream. Very atmospheric, moody and infectious as hell.

“Flow Tater” is a very interesting track, that feels somewhat disjointed, having several very distinctive sections, but they flow beautifully. “Fugal” continues to evolve the album’s sound, but that signature, is still omnipresent, as if it were scripted in gold. “Reasonable Ability” is one of those tracks that’s a feast for your ears, especially when you listen using headphones. Again new influences are introduced with the track “Cliff Notes”, with distinctive Indian drums, that add flavor, rather than conflicting sounds.

The album finishes off with “Acoustic Junction”, one of the mellower tracks and a great way to put an album to bed. You can’t help but feel you’ve listened to something rather special and indeed this is an album that has an interesting story. Every track has had different artists collaborating with General Fuzz, which accounts for the little twists and deviations throughout. If you go to the website you can read the story behind each track.

Conclusion : There’s just no excuse for not checking out this phenomenal artists. So far I’ve reviewed two of the artists 4 albums. All of them are available for free. In giving this album a 9.5, I’ve left myself very little room to manoeuvre should his future albums continue to improve. What do I care, I’ll worry about that with each subsequent release.

I can’t help feeling that General Fuzz is either a crackpot for giving his music away for free, or just a philanthropist, because this is one of the biggest cases of sharing the wealth.

Posted in Down-tempo, Electronica, IDM | No Comments »

Album – Soundtracks for Sunrise – The Winston Giles Orchestra

Posted by admin on 10th June 2007

I can’t remember the podcast on which I first heard the Winston Giles Orchestra, but I knew as soon as I heard it, that I had to get it in for review. This in itself proved to be a little harder than usual, seeing as the CD had to make its way from Australia to Canada, and the postal services just didn’t want to play ball. However the CD eventually made it’s way and I ran off to my stereo like a giddy school child.

This is an amazingly well balanced album, whose 10 tracks flow effortlessly, making it feel like a ensemble piece, rather than a rag tag of disjointed tracks. The production on the album is just stunning, with an amazing sound bed, giving your ears a whole ton of aural candy to digest.

The CD opens with “We Wait For Sunrise”, a track to me that is very stereotypical of the Winston Giles Orchestra sound. It reminds me a lot of a UK band called the Orb, but with less psychedelic/trippy influences, noting I said less, rather than no. This whole ambient sound spills over into the next track “Welcome to the Hotel”, which features vocals that blend in very well, reminding me a lot of Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd. “A Little Song” is a slight departure, but those signature sounds are still there. The beginning of “Revenge” is still more of a departure, but it soon falls back into line with the rest of the album.

Track after track of just stunning music. I was a big fan after listening to that one track from the album on a podcast. One album later and I’m a huge fan, who can see myself playing this album into oblivion. “All Come Together” is probably my favorite track on the album, having the most amazing of beginnings. “Welcome to the Hotel” also gets a very favorable mention.

Conclusion : A wonderful album showcasing some of the amazing stuff Australia has to produce. Just sheer magic.

Posted in Down-tempo, Electronica, Psychedelic | No Comments »

EP – Carousel – Dr Robotnik

Posted by admin on 17th March 2007

I get a lot of requests to be added to my friends list on mySpace. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Indie Launchpad friends list is purely for artists who have already been reviewed. All requests however are investigated and if their music sounds interesting, I always ask for an album or EP to be submitted. This was the case with Dr Robotnik, who I assume gets his name from the arch villain in Sonic the Hedgehog. What was different and this happens now and again, was that after hearing just 1 track, I was chomping at the bit to hear more. Admittedly there were four tracks on the mySpace page, 3 of which are included on the EP reviewed here, but I always find the listening experience to be completely different when away from the computer.

The opening track on the EP is “Carousel”, which apparently contains some samples from Scott Walker, yes he of the Walker Brothers, who’s works I must admit I’m not too up on.The track begins with a slow build up, with what sounds like a Xylophone sample used throughout and then a bass guitar comes in. However it’s when the vocals come in, that the whole thing gels into one amazing track. There’s a very ethereal quality to the whole track and many other elements that really give your ears lots to enjoy. The second track “FYI”, always reminds me of the TV show Space 1999. Just the opening few seconds, but that mental image always surfaces. Once the track gets started though, a very drum and bass style takes over. “It Matters Not” with it’s heavy piano and drum emphasis, delivers a much more laid back track. The final track “Not Long Ago”, goes for a totally different kind of imagery and feels like a track at odds with itself. This conflict however works well and rounds the EP off nicely.

A final mention has to go the the vocals provide throughout the EP. They’re very distinctive and all provided by Simon Batten, the creative genius behind Dr Robotnik. Everything about this EP screams quality and was just a sheer joy to listen to.

Conclusion : I love this EP, although technically it’s only available as individual tracks. It was supplied to me as an EP, so that’s how I’m reviewing it. It’s inventive, intelligently produced and such a great showcase for Dr Robotnik. I’m eagerly awaiting what the future may bring.

Posted in Acoustic, Big Beat, Down-tempo | No Comments »