InShape – REVERSIBLE

Lately there has been a lot of electro music playing on my devices. I was looking around for new sounds a couple of days ago. I needed an incentive to write here and got a hold of the REVERSIBLE EP at Jamendo. It was made by InShape and was exactly what I needed to get back to writing here. The French electro duo, consisting of Antoine Abela and Olivier Boutinaud, has really put together 9 tracks of high quality.

The first track, “Engine”, is a great intro, having some Daft Punk- & funky vibes to its sound. Other musical influences openly disclosed by InShape are Boys Noize & Vitalic. This also feels very true together with the rest of its “French Touch”-influence from groups like Justice. If you are into electro, house or more specifically, electrotrash, I really recommend a listen.

Download the entire EP “REVERSIBLE” from Jamendo here.
REVERSIBLE” License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA (cc) Some Rights Reserved - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA

Enjoy the listen!

Lou Reed. Schinitzer Concert Hall Portland, OR

Tribute: Lou Reed – Berlin – Review by Helen Groom

Lou Reed’s masterpiece of misery is re-released in time for its debut performances.

Helen Groom 2007

Berlin may be a great album, it’s just not an easy one to listen to. It’s intensely dark in its lyrical content, charting the doomed relationship of Caroline and Jim following them through drug addiction, domestic violence and suicide. Not the cheeriest of subjects for a concept album.

First released in 1973, it was a commercial failure but became a cult classic. Berlin came hot on the heels of Reed’s glam rock masterpiece Transformer. Anyone expecting a commercial follow-up was non-plussed to say the least. But 30 years after its debut, Reed is now touring the album for the first time, hence the re-issue.

Lou Reed has never been the most melodious of singers, but his gravelly, nasal, mumble-y singing suits the subject matter perfectly. His voice sounds like he has been there, done that, and adds an air of jaded, cynical depression to the tracks.

Who else could carry off lyrics like, ‘Caroline says as she gets up off the floor/You can hit me all you want to, but I don’t love you anymore/ Caroline says while biting her lip/ Life is meant to be more than this, and this is a bum trip’? It’s not exactly Kylie Minogue territory.

But doom and gloom aside, musically Berlin is brave, adventurous and keeps on surprising you.
‘’Caroline Says I’’ is a particularly odd track, sounding generally upbeat. Until you listen to the lyrics, that is. More creepily, ‘’Kids’’, about Caroline’s children being taken away, features producer Bob Ezrin’s children screaming for their mother.
‘’The Bed’’ sounds like a love song, but is instead about Caroline’s suicide. The words are filled with regret and the soft acoustic sounds help you picture her drifting into unconsciousness.

Berlin is definitely a challenge, and is about as far away from pop, or dinner party music as you can get. But thanks to Ezrin’s production it has a rich, lush sound with the string and horn sections, and backing choir (and occasional cracking guitar solo), showcased best on ‘’Sad Song’’.

This was the sound of Lou trying something new, brave and ambitious at a time before he was in thrall to rock ‘n’ roll history. As such it’s stood the test of time and you won’t regret the time you spend listening to it. Just don’t expect to be cheered up…

This review was written by Helen Groom and originally published at BBC Music in 2007. Licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0

This re-publishing is a tribute to Lou Reed and the (counter)cultural heritage that he leaves behind after his passing on the 27th of October 2013.

See You in Hell - Cover Art

Vomit From Above – See You In Hell

See You in Hell“. One can definitely imagine that title when listening to Vomit From Above’s EP. Or what could one possibly say other than that, after listening to this release of a mixture composed with heavy influences from IDM, Glitch and Electronic?

See You in Hell - Cover Art
Vomit From Above – See You in Hell – Album Art Cover licensed by Vomit From Above with CC-BY-NC-ND

What one can conclude about Vomit From Above’s EP “See You in Hell” is that it compresses a range of these sounds and ideas, really mixing the ideas of these genres. The EP can be described as a release constantly sound-changing and rather impatient which goes from the heavier mode to a kind of a discretely happy sound.

Don’t be afraid: Stream the EP below from the Internet Archive

It is quick and responsive, almost running from its own shadows. The introductory “Suck It” has a superb introduction and sequencing twist which picks up a heavy groove, which might be the reason to the flaunting title. It is followed by “Year of the Apocalypse“, a cascade of colliding sweeping bits and pieces of audio and drum beats. It is a track that due to its title and sound probably relates to the unbelievably and wrongly hyped event of the 2012, the Mayan apocalypse, due to the EP’s fitting release it had on the 18th of December in 2012. “Get III” finishes the intense experience with numerous glitches which together make a joyful ride. It surprises all along the way and never gets boring in the typical sense of repetition. When listening to this release the first time it felt almost too extreme. After a lot of listens, it is like one would like it to seek even farther into exploring the limits of Glitch, IDM and Electronic, definitely worth the time.

Read more about it at Soundshiva.net or at its netlabel Dystopiaq.

Download “See You in Hell” EP through the Internet Archive in an MP3 format. “See You in Hell” by Vomit From Above is licensed with Creative Commons License 3.0 BY-NC-ND.

[Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0]

Cover of Fighting Lion - Sparkling Days, Sparkling Nights E.P.

Fighting Lion – Sparkling Days, Sparkling Nights

What things can one Fighting Lion accomplish with a Ukulele? Great things apparently!

Fighting Lion’s EP “Sparkling Days, Sparkling Nights E.P.” is nothing short of a great and concise set of melodic songs played on a Ukulele. The songs awaken different feelings and much of that can be related to the simplicity and lo-fi production, giving all focus to one kind of sound with only small portions of other instruments, leaving the Ukulele as the main character setting the tone in every track.

The songs are very different from each other, “Old Floorboards” is slowly growing but over time changing, followed by the quick and joyful “Setting Sun” and “Morning Fog” starts off with a beautifully slumbering harmonica and Ukulele waking up. The personal favourite track is “Distant View” which personally made one contemplate tough things going on now and affecting the future but it still ignites the spark of hope that everything will be fine. “Grass Mountain” is the track with the most complete sound in terms of different ingredients such as simple drums. The 10-minute EP ends with the beautiful “Summer Night Breeze” which is great to fall asleep to or actually to spend a moment listening to during a real summer night breeze.

Cover of Fighting Lion - Sparkling Days, Sparkling Nights E.P.
Fighting Lion – Sparkling Days, Sparkling Nights E.P. Attribution-NonCommercial
3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0)

One rather logic interpretation of the tracks are that they all represent impressions from moments or objects occurring in nature and wildlife, thus given their names. It is a beautiful way of documenting the emotional reactions which these awaken musically and are profound results on what a modern being observes and perceives. Fighting Lion can remind one of some of the works by Anthony Phillips, a guitarist of the pioneering progressive rock band Genesis but in a simpler manner. With a very natural and down-to-earth sound it can suit in many environments and other works of art. The tunes do stand out as too short at times but interestingly enough encapsulates impressions of those things they are entitled with. The simple structure of yet affecting songs are proof of the skill as an artist with the Ukulele, truly something that any aspiring instrumentalist could gain inspiration from by listening to this work.

The artist behind Fighting Lion goes by the name of Álvaro Menéndez residing in Valencia, Spain, originally from the city of Gijón in the north-western region Asturias. Before this release of May 2012, he also released “When I see the fallen leaves turning red by the setting sun my heart is overwhelmed E​.​P.” in June, 2011 also with a Creative Commons license.

Download the EP “Sparkling Days, Sparkling Nights by Fighting Lion E.P.” through The Internet Archive or Soundshiva and enjoy these well-crafted Ukulele-tunes!

This work “Sparkling Days, Sparkling Nights E.P.” is licensed with Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0)

Ephedra Album Art

Socket Science – Ephedra

I love to get into the groove. There are so many sounds out there which allows me to do that, but Socket Science can do so in a uniquely and inconvenient way. The tunes that the “co-honcho Don Simon” produce for the netlabel Astor Bell are imperfectly sounding music which has an incredible detail in its production of just chewing on and on but still keeping a human touch to it.

Ephedra Album Art
Cover Photo taken by Brock Davis (http://www.itistheworldthatmadeyousmall.com/)

Swedish-based artist Socket Science works with a techno sound that mixes distorted instruments with more gently sounding bells and keyboards. The songs never really go into a more forceful mode, instead it keeps a rather a similar ambience but one can notice that the dynamics of these songs were worked out fill a space with the sort of composition and variation that techno music can have a lack of. Here is also the issue with the release. The one thing that can disappoint, yet although is a predominant feature of techno and electro is the drum and its beat which can get a bit too repetitive in its traditional and recognizable way. This bit is where one could wish that there was more to find because the beat does not join in when the rest of the sounds aim to lever into a higher state, which they do real good during some moments.

The theme of Ephedra is rather gloomy in its style and comes with an interesting blend of noise and beats, which throughout the generous lengths of the tracks have time to take many turns before the ride is over. Ephedra has an identity where it would suit somewhere between the slower and more relaxing techno or electro and the more ravaging electronica. It enables a good social atmosphere for parties but is also great for those moments when one is in need of focus and to concentrate on something robotic. It can make one feel like an android. Or a replicant for that matter as well.

Download it via SoundShiva from Archive.org in an MP3 format here. Feel free to comment below and have a say about what you think of the review and the music!

Released with CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0. Catalogue no: ASTOR013 Released 2010-05-24 on Astor Bell.

If you like the music, get in touch with the artist directly at socketscience (at) astorbell.com!