Dirty South shows his dark side on brooding ‘darko’ LP [Album Review]

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Dirty South shows his dark side on brooding ‘darko’ LP [Album Review]Dirty South Darko Album Review

Dirty South is a man of his word. He promised fans two albums before the year was out, and suddenly darko arrived right in the nick of time. Just a month after releasing the stunning XVthe cinematic house titan submitted yet another chapter to his long player history – and it’s unlike any project the producer has helmed to date.

For some, it may have made sense to release both fall albums as a double LP. Yet Dirty South’s decision to separate the two projects makes perfect sense when listening. Both are worlds apart in feeling, tone, and flow. XV was brilliantly bouncy, often bursting with waves of elation; darko, on the other hand, is something different with a more anxious mindset all its own. The mournful synth swells of “Temps” announce the project’s ethos immediately, and the feeling of unrest permeates throughout the rest of the journey. On “Cassetta,” the intro burns slowly before ascending chords spread the tension on thick. “Piksi” follows directly behind, which is shaping up to be one of the darkest tracks in Dirty South’s repertoire.

Despite the unity of darko‘s world, trademark Dirty South touches abound. While the beaming brightness of past hits like “If It All Stops” is nowhere to be found, the “Kino” shuffles and grooves as undeniably as any of the artist’s dance floor weapons. “Lava” is a rhythmic tour-de-force, despite snarling horn-like synth blasts tethering it firmly into the album’s aesthetic. But despite Dirty South’s mastery of vocal-infused efforts show in past releases on labels like Anjunabeats, darko remains starkly instrumental. The move feels calculated as the arrangements ebb and flow freely, leaving the listener to wonder if any lyrics could speak single-handedly for the soul of the record.

The producer admitting the record is his favorite to date could indicate this new sonic direction — also showcased in songs like his recent remix of Lane 8’s “No Captain” — is settling in to stay awhile. The relentless cohesion of darko is something Dirty South had yet to do at this level. As “Corda” looms into sight to cap off the album, it sets the mind on fire. There’s a sense that the gravity of the sum of its parts has seeped in, and the effect after listening to the LP’s entirety is vivid. It’s gripped in an atmosphere of anxious and electric yearning, soundtracking a feeling of introspection and raw hunger. Beautiful but stark, dark but restrained, mournful but energized; whether or not these tracks invade the same playlists and dance floors Dirty South has presided over all these years is irrelevant. For a statement as nuanced and unified as darko is a triumphant highlight in and of itself.

The Prodigy update the familiar on ‘No Tourists’ (Album Review)

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The Prodigy update the familiar on ‘No Tourists’ (Album Review)Notouristsmain

When an artist has released a vast body of work over multiple decades, engaged multiple generations of fanbases, and driven their genre forward for so long, it is hard to know what to expect from a new album. Was the genre-bending production just the music that came to them at the time, or is there a commitment to experimentation and subversion beyond the first few albums? For the Prodigy, lead by Liam Howlett the answer is somewhat clear. On the band’s seventh studio album, No Tourists, the Prodigy reach for the familiar and inject it with a dose of 2018.

A classic Prodigy record, No Tourists is jam-packed with energizing breakbeats, punk-leaning vocal hooks, and synth and guitar work that could fill the largest of warehouses. In this regard, the album is not a departure from anything the group has put out in the past. Big, high-energy sounds are what put the Prodigy on the map so many years ago. So as a listener with an array of old Prodigy tracks in my music library and a recently purchased vinyl single from 1991, what keeps bringing me back to this album? Why, when this album seems to be textbook Prodigy, do I not toss it to the side for the iconic originals? The answer lies in the production.

While the boisterous sound of Howlett’s production is nothing new, there is something cleaner and more refined about the entire sound of the album. Even compared to their 2015 offering The Day Is My Enemy, the samples are crisper, and the bass lines straddle that perfect line between distortion and clarity. Take the album’s lead single and opening track, “Need Some1.” With sloppier production, a track with a big, slow, hip-hop breakbeat, a variety of vocal samples, and explosive synths may have sounded cluttered and disorienting – but Howlett creates the perfect amount of space and depth to make the track work. And while an all out assault of noise may have been what drove the Prodigy’s success on Experience and The Fat of the Land, the musical landscape has changed. The Prodigy’s audience is no longer blasting tracks on massive speakers in their garage or at warehouse raves – this is an album for the headphone generation, exemplified greatly by tracks like “Boom Boom Tap” and “Light Up the Sky.” Sounds from every sector of the EQ spectrum shine through, with intricate synth work not feeling overpowered by the forceful low end. With the streaming economy making on-the-go listening more accessible, a crowded project full of distortion and a less precise mix could lead to an album that does not connect in this new era of music consumption.

While the album is sonically solid, No Tourists does not push the boundaries of what can be expected from the Prodigy. There is a small part of me that is disappointed that Howlett and the band did not take the group in any new direction. After seven albums, I (perhaps foolishly) expected a bit of deviation from the stylistic norm. However, a standard offering from the Prodigy is not anything to be scoffed at. I’d take No Tourists over ‘The Prodigy goes festival trap’ any day of the week. And when albums like Tom Morello’s feature-laden The Atlas Underground are missing the mark without a distinct sound or direction, a cohesive yet familiar project from the big beat progenitors may be what we needed. We are just lucky that, when it comes to the Prodigy, the familiar still hits hard.

Broken down and ReKontructed: Quivver is in his finest form in newest album [Exclusive]

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Broken down and ReKontructed: Quivver is in his finest form in newest album [Exclusive]Quivver

John Graham — most know him as the certified hitmaker, Quivver. He’s behind several dance anthems that have been permanently sealed into the music’s history, and a prime influencer of house and techno. But what is the true essence behind this prolific artist, who’s operated at juggernaut levels for nearly three decades? With a long overdue ReKonstrukt arriving at our doorstep via his experimental Controlled Substance imprint on October 5, Graham is finally ready to express who he is in cohesive, sonic form.

ReKonstrukt is the culmination of the “Quivver sound” so carefully built over the years: driving, techy in the right places, and moreover, progressive — not just in the sense of the genre, but in terms of the word itself, and how its definition applies to what John Graham has put forth. He’s done something akin to Sasha’s Involver series in that much of it is comprised of drastically re-molded pieces by others he admires, but ultimately advances this format to a whole new frontier. Four fresh originals are woven carefully into the mix, as well a special collaboration.

Graham begins his autobiographical aural narrative with an introduction that gently stirs the mind awake with eerie synths and cymbal clags before rolling into a hypnotic soundscape with minimal, yet well-placed notes and diverse instrumentation. Another strong and thoroughly-proven gift of this veteran DJ soon makes itself known: his ability to tell a story, and with seamless transitions at that. The second track seems to come out of nowhere, building upon the mystery of the introduction and adding a new, ethereal element in Lily Pita’s vocals. Titled “Summer,” it kicks the LP into full gear with strengthened percussion and more complex layering.

Technical, gritty, and focused — these hallmark motifs of Quivver’s aesthetic are prominent throughout ReKonstrukt, and can be heard loud and clear in its second re-edit target, “Something’s Not Right” by Dan Sieg. Quivver paints the original in aquatic arpeggios and full padding, making way for stabs of synth to add edge to the finished product. Other remixes like his glittering, yet futuristic and raw take on Beatamines’ “Omega,” his treatment of Khainz’ “Space Invader” and of course, his twisting of “Jack Mountain” by Mattia Saviolo into an utter stomper, also remind listeners of Quivver’s long hours spent in the studio honing his craft.

At this point, Graham is at work sneakily increasing the speed and drive to make way “Reaction,” by DNYO, which has been flipped entirely on its head. Monstrous as ever, roaring synthesizers and tense string edits ebb and flow throughout the track’s duration, whilst retro synth notes cut through the noise to add a bit of nostalgia. The tension continues as the LP’s official collaboration, “Aside” folds itself in, wielding darkness with hollow, running notes and spooky progressions. Such an awe-inducing, impactful display of sound is what one would expect to hear in a three-way between Quivver and his partners — in this case, the venerable Rick Pier O’Neil and D-Formation.

ReKonstrukt closes in perhaps the most appropriate way it could for someone as tenured as John Graham: with two brilliantly-crafted originals that pay homage to his roots while simultaneously manifesting the cliché, that, like a fine wine, he gets better with age. We see him traversing a stormy path through muddy synthesis and crisp drums in “Wait A Minute,” creating an intriguing, tech-based juxtaposition that only someone as skilled as him can pull off. We’re likely to hear plenty of as he moves into the future. Finally, at album’s end, “Eight Bit Eclipse” transports subjects to a Detroit warehouse with piano stabs and thundering percussion, wrapping his story up in a refined, timeless manner.

This is Quivver in his finest, most innovative form, and he’s certainly got a lot left to give.

 

 

Order a copy here

Soak up some synthwave nostalgia in The Midnight’s new album, ‘Kids’

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Soak up some synthwave nostalgia in The Midnight’s new album, ‘Kids’The Midnight Kids

Soak up some synthwave nostalgia in The Midnight’s new album, ‘Kids’The MidnightLong gone are the carefree days of our youth. The breezy, blissful moments of our childhood have faded away into adulthood, and The Midnight take time to reflect on those times gone by in their new album. Though vocalist Tyler Lyle insists that “we are not a sentimental age,” the duo’s latest venture may suggest otherwise.

The nine-track Kids contrasts its somewhat darker predecessor: 2017’s Nocturnal, which was primed for late-night drives with its dramatic saxophone riffs and shadowy, intense undertones. Kids, which was released on Sept. 21, has an entirely different feel to it.

Set in 1985, the LP is ushered in by “Youth,” a shimmery track layered with audio snippets of broadcasters and children talking about the rise of computers and video games and what the technology could mean for the future of the world as it was known at the time. The album’s next track, “Wave,” starts much the same way, but it morphs into something much more recognizable as The Midnight’s style. Lyle’s vocals make their album debut on this track, insisting that “we are not a sentimental age,” and cites not wanting parents’ china and hooking up with strangers, never to be seen again. The album’s namesake track is broken into two parts: a prelude that follows “Wave” and a reprise that wraps up the collection. The prelude takes a somber tone, as Lyle sings wistfully about the arcade closing and monsters in the spare bedroom.

“Kids are sad, the sky is blue
There are monsters in the spare bedroom”

Its forlorn theme carries into the introduction of the previously released “Lost Boy,” a clear album standout. The duo teased the track’s July release by pairing it with clips of emotive scenes from Stranger Things, as the filtered vocals serenade, “I was a lost boy when I met you.” A soaring guitar melody accentuates the song’s themes flawlessly, leading out into into a brief interlude.

“‘Cause in the dark there are no strangers at all”

Cereal hits the bowl as a kid flips through the television channels in “Saturday Mornings,” finding commercials for The Tranformers, Blockbuster video, Atari Games, and more. The interlude gracefully delivers the listener from a carefree weekend morning to the empowering, adventure-filled “Explorers.” The Midnight pay homage to the explorers of the ’80s, giving a hat tip to the “spark-igniters,” the “Lost Ark Raiders,” the “lion-tamers.”

“Let it be said, and let it be known
He who is free is never alone”

Its hopeful undertones merge into the equally hope-filled “America 2.” Lyle’s vocals tell the tale of going to look for “America 2,” backed by the duo’s signature guitar melodies and retro synths. When it was released in August, the artwork for “America 2” depicted an ’80s-era mall, with a sign reading “permanently closed.” The neighboring arcade, however, was still lit up in its hazy neon glow, leading The Midnight to one of the LP’s final songs, “Arcade Dreams.” The instrumental track twinkles with a plucky melody and a dreamy atmosphere.

“We grow up and move away
The seasons pass, but the monsters stay”

To close out their latest endeavor, Lyle and Tim McEwan have tapped the West LA Children’s Choir to truly bring the kids to Kids. They bring back the theme from the prelude in a six-minute rendition that spans from an introspective guitar segment to the simple and sweet vocals children’s choir, summing up the LP’s overall contemplative and nostalgia-filled aura.

Medasin’s debut album is innovative, warm, and pleasing to the ear

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Medasin’s debut album is innovative, warm, and pleasing to the earMedasin Press Irene E1533913276981

Grant Nelson, aka Medasin, is changing the scope of electronic music. After a flavorful edit of Portugal The Man‘s 2017 hit “Feel It Still,” Nelson was in high demand, earning official remix opportunities for Khalid, Post Malone, Martin Garrix, and more. In early 2018, he sold out eight of 10 shows on his first official headline tour, garnering enough positive traction to further develop his craft. Now, Nelson’s finally chosen to deliver Medasin’s most innovative work yet, gifting the world with his official debut album: Irene.

Back in January, Nelson released a full EP mix entitled “IRENE,” which, in his own words, were “16 original songs I’ve worked on over the past two years.” It was sort of a “pre-EP EP,” giving fans a little taste of what he had in store. However, listeners can expect some completely new content from the Dallas-based producer, as these nine tracks appear to be from an unknown arsenal. The album is versatile, in that it’s not only the perfect end-of-summer soundtrack, but also a great way to escape to some tropical paradise for a bit, collectively fusing Caribbean-influenced sounds with warm, electro goodness.

Steel drums are mixed with jazz-inspired tempos on “Ramen,” the album’s second track, setting the tone for a genre-blending journey. Jazz rhythms are also applied on “Slinky Man,” which utilizes light percussion and electronics, serving as a base for intriguing vocal samples. Other highlights include a smooth R&B track, “Tired,” featuring Sophie Meiers, and “Work For You” featuring Kaz Moon, which goes a bit harder with short staccato’d synths on the drop. On “Home,” listeners will recognize beloved synth melodies that can be traced back to hit remixes such as “Feel It Still.”

To complement his debut album, Medasin will head on phase two of his North American “Irene” tour, making his first stop in Canada on Sept. 27. Tour dates and tickets can be found here.

The Glitch Mob exude respect for the process in their third studio album, ‘See Without Eyes’ [Interview + Album Review]

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When The Glitch Mob take a break from the visible public eye, longtime fans of Boreta, edIT, and Ooah know something masterful is in the works. After all, if there’s anything this LA-based powerhouse trio is known for, it’s a penchant for profundity and a fondness for not rushing the artistic process.

“For us, music is more about the process than the final piece of work,” they told us in a conversation leading up to the release of their third full-length studio album. 

At the same time, almost four years has passed since the release of their sophomore LP, Love Death Immortality, which debuted at #13 on the Billboard 200 album chart and No. 1 on the iTunes electronic chart. As opposed to the highly experimental nature of their debut Drink the Sea LP, LDI exuded a newfound sense of direction with the introduction of storylines and a complex array of heavily layered tracks. Fans are, needless to say, squeamish to hear how those sonic storylines have evolved.

Rest easy, young apostles, for today, May 4, marks the official release of The Glitch Mob’s third album in eight years, titled See Without Eyes, via their independent imprint, Glass Air Records. 

“See Without Eyes has elements of our first two albums, but explores new territory,” says Boreta. “We aimed to have it be a full body listening [experience] as well as have impact live. The album is a piece of us combined with all of the lives of the people who have brought it to life. We hope people connect with the music and feel something their own way, like the comfort looking at the stars.”

It is this sense of profound connection to the supernatural process of creation that The Glitch Mob has been infusing into their musical stamp for over a decade — since their early days of experimenting with sounds at Burning Man. Certainly, as die hard burners, and artists who owe their career start to life on the playa, the three have encoded the spiritual and communal energy of Black Rock City into the very fibers of their being.

“Playing some of our first shows at Burning Man definitely honed our creative DNA. It’s all about taking people on a journey and that has stuck with us. We didn’t know anything about the music industry at the time; we were experimenting with sound. We’ve kept the sense of experimentation.”

A love for experimentation, of pure joy and playfulness, and a simultaneous appreciation for evolution, to an almost philosophical degree, continue to be important themes for the guys in their musical output. Perhaps that is why their music is so hard to pin down stylistically; for it is anything but generic. Their portfolio is mystical, perplexing, and always deeply satisfying. Listeners often walk away with as many questions about their lives, the lives of others, and the universal force fueling it all, as they do filled with immense gratitude for the experience.


“This album is about the mystery of being human. Music can express truths far above above and beyond where words falter and cease.”


This is the kind of raw, undefined energy The Glitch Mob strives to reignite in their music and live shows, one that is elusive beyond of the timelessness of sound — and it’s safe to say, they want it that way.

With inspirations ranging from Aphex Twin to Jay-Z to British Eastern philosopher Alan Watts, and spiritual teacher Ram Dass in between, it’s no wonder the style and attitude of a Glitch Mob track is so elusory and mysteriously divine.

See Without Eyes is an album that’s rather difficult to critique, perhaps because it is such a layered, fully-embodied listening experience. There are, however, two thematic qualities as to why the LP works as seamlessly as it does. Almost like a light and dark energy fueling the other, experimentation and evolution are two prominent forces driving See Without Eyes.


“That’s the powerful thing about music: it’s different for everyone and doesn’t mean one thing in particular. You might hear dark and someone else hears light.”


The album’s leading track, “Enter Formless,” offers the first gateway into The Glitch Mob’s world of amorphous, experimental sounds. Complete with vocals from Sacramento-based female electronic duo Rituals of Mine, the lyrics —”Tell me how you feel it” — quite literally instruct the listener to forget about form, genre, and the like, and simply open their bodies and minds to the sonic experience. Yet, at the same time, the song is anything but formless — boasting rich melodies, a dedication to structure, and clear direction guided by classical horns and their signature electro-stabbing synths.

From this starting point, the album gradually progresses to tell a larger story, with each track building on the last so as to ease listeners deeper into their world. It is a world where light and dark energies are constantly competing with each other and, at the same time, complementary to one another. “Disintegrate Slowly” is one piece that exemplifies this notion, taking listeners on jolting ride into experimental tones and broken beats. Cinematic horns and percussive elements set a foreboding mood as the trio takes unpredictable twists and turns before dropping abruptly into the more melodic track, “Keep On Breathing.”

One thing is certain at the album’s midpoint: See Without Eyes is not just a collection of individual tracks, but a comprehensive masterpiece that demands to be experienced as a greater whole. Bouncing back and forth between experimental, non-lyrical tracks like “Come Closer,” “Interbeing,” and “The Way Is Out” and more melodic, gut-wrenching collaborative ballads — such as in the previously released “How Could This Be Wrong (ft. Tula), “Take Me With You (ft. Arama),” and “I Could Be Anything” (ft. Elohim).


“This album is a result of a deep dive. It’s a love note to the art form of music and the way it connects us. It’s a result of us experimenting, having fun, and collaborating with some incredible artists.”


See Without Eyes is brimming with unique collaborations, which speaks to The Glitch Mob’s yearning to work with artists who organically fuel their sound. Not only does the album enlist some of the music industry’s most exceptional underground artists — from rising electronic talent Elohim, Arama, Ambre, and two tracks with Isreali singer/songwriter Tula — but the group has sought out a few meteoric young bass talents in REZZ and Illenium as well.

“These connections all happened organically,” says The Glitch Mob. “We’re all mutual fans of each other’  music, which is how our best collaborations happen. Mindshare.”

As the album begins to descend, after cascading between the eery and yet hopeful tones of “Go Light,” The Glitch Mob harken back to the emotional with a harmonic and hypnotizing ballad in the Ambre-assisted track, “How Do I Get To Invisible.” After entrancing hums on the lead in, Ambre’s vocals take center stage on the track with stand out lyrics —”All of my flaws make me out to perfection” — overlaid by an experimental landscape choked full of arpeggiated chords and beguiling instrumentation.

The album also boasts an innovative, avante-garde visual component created by the trio’s visual arts designer, David Wexler, also known as Strangeloop, who has also worked on visuals for Pharrell, Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, and more. The group says they gave Strangeloop See Without Eyes to build his reactions in visual form whilst listening to the album. His visuals will be featured as music videos for all 11 tracks, which link together to paint a larger picture for the album, as well as a unique VR machine for people to experience during The Glitch Mob’s tour through setups in the lobbies at their shows.

As three friends who got their start in the burgeoning Los Angeles bass-driven beat scene, The Glitch Mob has gone from young starry-eyed neophytes, who were just learning their way around the decks at Burning Man, to international rockstars equipped with a DIY sensibility and a deep respect for artistic process.

“The process between us is quite fluid at this point as its been so long. It’s a musical conversation that’s based on trust, surrender, and discipline. In fact, it’s more about the process than the final result. We challenge ourselves, dive deep, and express.”

Still heavily steeped in their signature synthesizers and saturated bass lines, See Without Eyes represents an appreciation for where the three musicians have been and where they are going. Where that is, even Boreta, eDIT, and Oaah may not be able to say. But with landmark festivals like Lightning In A Bottle, Governors Ball, Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, and Shambhala on their list of headlining summer appearances, not to mention a massive global tour where they will unveil The Blade 2.0, The Glitch Mob is certainly going places.

The Glitch Mob perform on their Blade set-up at Austin City Limits, 2014. Photo courtesy of Ralph Arvesen.

 

Whether or not fans can expect another Burning Man set in the near future, the guys leave that question playfully open-ended. They merely extend gratitude for the people who created a pop-up community which gave them the space to hone their experimental sound: “Thank you, Larry, for making the world a weirder place.”

‘Places We Don’t Know’ is an ethereal introduction to the scope of Kasbo’s sound [Album Review]

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Kasbo

Released via Foreign Family Collective/Counter Records, Kasbo’s debut album Places We Don’t Know is a sonic bildungsroman.

“Conceptually the album is about romanticizing a naïve worldview,” the Swedish producer said of the LP. “That [naiveté] and ignorance is something to be cherished. There’s something really beautiful about the perfect worldview you have as a kid, that the world is harmless, beautiful, and good. The more you learn and experience though, the more you realize everything isn’t perfect. So the less you know, the more beautiful it is, it’s the things we haven’t done, the places we don’t know, that have this unquestionable beauty. It’s this world I’m trying to mirror with my album, the one that stays in your imagination.”

Kasbo’s aspiration to first capture, and then encapsulate a whimsical, puerile innocence of mind and disposition via sound is conceptually regressive in its harkening back to a simpler perspective, untainted by worldly awareness. The wide-eyed, evergreen youth of Places We Don’t Know blinks back at listeners through “Stay With Me” and “Bleed It Out.” “They talk, but I keep dreamin’/And I don’t get what to resist,” vocalist Nea sings on “Bleed It Out.”

Places We Don’t Know denotes duly a clear vision of construction, and an irony: the debut album that embraces the innocuous bliss of the unknown and the inexperienced, is itself emblematic of Kasbo’s own progression. The nostalgic release seeks repose in a state of childlike naiveté while surging forth as an emblem of Kasbo’s growth and experiences. In the trajectory classic of a bildungsroman, Kasbo comes of age as an artist through the release of Places We Don’t Know. 

“Musically I knew I wanted to do a sonic representation of the concept, blending worldly sounds with small bedroom type samples and soundscapes,” Kasbo stated of the album’s constructional basis. “I really loved the idea of those two polarizing things being the two main factors that would lay the ground for the album.”

Kasbo’s predilection for lush soundscapes that mellifluously and unhurriedly develop in tandem with a serene vocal part figures in “About You” and “Bara Du,” among other track listings.

Places We Don’t Know gained momentum through the release of the album’s first single, the Tender assisted “Aldrig Mer.” Future bass found its own place on the tracklist via the second single,  “Your Tempo.” “Find” and “Over You,” the final singles that offered a sample of the sound of Places We Don’t Know prompted the it  to gain further traction prior to its March 23 arrival.

A release unfettered by the consciousness that comes with age, Places We Don’t Know is a heart-strirring, vernal gaze backwards in time.

Exclusive Q&A: Break Science on how Brooklyn influenced their sound, working with Pretty Lights, and their newest LP, ‘Grid of Souls’

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grid of souls-break science

Raised in the cultural hotbed of New York City, Break Science‘s Adam Deitch and Borahm Lee have long brought their city’s rich musical history in jazz, funk, and soul directly into their catalog. As two essential members of Pretty Lights Live, Deitch (also of Lettuce) comes armed with his thunderous breakbeat style on the drums, while Lee brings a seasoned trip-hop/dub aesthetic on keyboards and laptop. As Break Science, the Denver-based electronic duo combine their respective styles into a perfectly interwoven sonic treatise of thought-provoking, highly-textured, bass-pumping songs.

The C3-represented artists do not release new projects often, given their busy schedules with touring and their other acts. So when they do, it’s an easy bet that the project is fresh and soulful, expertly polished, and, above all else, extremely danceable. Break Science’s debut EP, Further Than Our Eyes Can See, for instance, included verses from some of today’s most conscious vocalists — including Brooklyn’s Talib Kweli and Jahdan Blakkamoore, Sierra Leone’s Bajah, and India’s Falu. Now in the midst of their 5-date US tour, the electro-soul duo is releasing their first LP in almost five years, Grid of Souls. The eclectic 10-track album showcases their diverse sonic range and deeply rooted beliefs in interconnectedness and consciousness in such a way that is bound to make a mark on the modern musical landscape.

Kicking off the album with powerful vocals of Raquel Rodriguez on the synth-driven “Cruise Control,” Break Science fuse generations of New York’s rich musical legacy with their own deep-rooted connection to hip-hop heritage. Other highlights include “Guiding Light,” where the duo puts their heavier bass and trap vibes on full display, along with a more rhythmic offering on “Light Shine Down,” a track tinged by influences from 80s electronica and synthwave sounds.

Deitch and Lee took time out of their busy touring schedule to answer a few questions with Dancing Astronaut on Grid of Souls, speaking to the album’s underlying messages and driving stylistic components, along with their time in Pretty Lights, how working with Derek Vincent Smith has influenced their own individual sounds, and their US tour with the groundbreaking lighting talents of Lazer Shark.

 


It’s been five years since your last LP release. Why have you waited so long?

B: Shit it’s been 5 years? I thought it was only 4.. I guess we were waiting till we we had something good to say. Well we got a few things we wanna talk about now and we plan on releasing more music this year.

A: To get it right! To get all the fine tuning, mixing, mastering takes time, especially with our touring schedules. Glad we waited until it was right!

What do you feel the album is attempting to say?

A: The album is a musically psychedelic trip into interconnectivity that is undeniably danceable and also can make one think.

B: Understanding the beauty in the diversity of life and seeing the unbreakable wires which bond us all together.

Stylistically, the LP is a beautiful blend of melodic and glitchy synth-laden funk, soul, and jazz. How do you feel your musical styles have evolved since your Seven Bridges LP in 2013 and what does Grid of Souls bring to the table that’s fresh and new?

B: We like bringing different styles together to create something new, but also like to stay anchored in the music that we came from. We continue to push this concept on this record.

A: The technology has evolved, our musical minds have evolved, our lives and musical styles/tastes as well. Borahm and I have met in the middle with our musical influences and styles to create a unique piece of art that will hopefully stand the test of time.

Tell us about working with Lazer Shark on the new music video. Will he be joining you guys on tour?

B: Its always incredible to work with our friend Lazer Shark. He has already joined us for some dates this year with more on the horizon. He never ceases to inspire us and furthers his extension of expression with his video for our single.

A: As one of the most profound, creative and risk taking lighting and content designers in the modern era, Lazer Shark has taken our visual game to the next level with his video for “Cruise Control” and our live show.

Both of you are essential members of Pretty Lights, and it seems the album’s major theme embodies some of the beliefs that run deep in the PLF: interconnectedness, consciousness raising, new age spiritualism. How has that influenced the new LP? In subtle or overt ways?

B: D is a long time friend and collaborator and we all work together because there’s a likemindedness there, which shows in many ways.

A: As we move closer to a collective consciousness as a species, every piece of art that directs people’s energies in that direction is extremely needed and necessary. We are inspired by artists of all genres and mediums from Alex Grey to Kamasi Washington that have deeply spiritual vibes embedded in their art.

Describe the album in just a few words.

B: An extrasensory musical excursion thru emotionally charged atmospheres

A: A journey into the future of electronic/analog music that can lift the spirit, move your body and spark one’s mind. 

 

Ganja White Night explore the dynamic depths of low end bass in seventh LP, ‘The Origins’ [Interview + Album Review]

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Who exactly is Mr Wobble?

It’s question that has been on the minds of many since Ganja White Night released a series of music videos late last year. One that has answers partly in the release of their newest and most ambitious album to date, dubbed The Origins, out now on their own imprint SubCarbon Records

“We created SubCarbon when we started making music because it was the only way we could be released. Big labels weren’t interested in our sounds.” 

 February 2018 saw Benjamin Bayeul and Charlie Dodson’s seventh LP since they extensively explored their riddim-inspired sound almost 12 years ago. “We’ve tried to release an album every year since we started in 2010,” said the two Brussels-based producers. They wanted to do everything but rush The Origins album, which the pair had been working on since the fall of 2016, so as to avoid making the twelve track compilation more than just a shallow “collection of easy-to-mix tracks.” 

Photo courtesy of Ganja White Night

The Origins LP is anything but shallow. The album takes a deep dive in many ways.

First, it’s a dive into re-examining their own roots; a new exploration of the hypnotic, immersive sounds that incapsulated fans many years ago. Cinematic intros, playful experimentation, and otherworldly sounds mark the album’s landscape. In a lot of ways, The Origins is an intoxicating ethnic journey with a careful sense of adventure — a psychedelic trip into the worlds of dub, riddim, and low-end bass, more broadly.

Speaking to the evolution of their signature wobble sound, the duo elaborated on how it took them a good amount of time to manifest their ideas into reality: “You can really feel a difference when you listen to our old albums. Sound techniques evolve and the new material sounds more refined. We always had these ideas in our heads, but it’s crazy to see how ideas develop over time into actual sounds.”

 

Second, the album signals a nod to the roots of Mr Wobble, an animated vigilante superhero character designed by long-time collaborator and illustrator Ebo. Mr Wobble has played a role in their work since they released “Wobble Master” and “LFO Requiem.” At the outset of the new LP, he is joined by a whole new cast of characters whereby fans are given a glimpse into the very origins of how their super powers came to be.

“Mr Wobble isn’t the only guy who has the power. In different civilizations, the people receive this power, and what we see in the [Origins] video is how, in this period, of this era, at least, Mr Wobble is using it this way. We still don’t know where this power comes from, or how he’s be chosen, maybe it was an accident, we don’t know.”

 

Finally, the album pulls on the nostalgic allure of ancient ethnocentric sounds. Inspired by composers like Hans Zimmer, Ganja White Night has a way for constructing cinematic bass compositions that incorporate reggae, dubstep, hip-hop, and drum ‘n’ bass, with influences from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. “We have some inspirations that never change,” they say. “We’ve always been fans of ethnic sounds and ethnic voices, long intros, harmonies.”

GWN approaches collaborations in the same artistic spirit. Teaming up with Caspa, in particular, on the album’s second track, “Unique,” the three producers capture the very unique essence upon which their collective visions for bass music resonates — back before the days of violent, head banging “bro-step.” Cinematic, fun, mischievous, and stripped down to the bare bone essentials of bass, the track flips fluidly between it’s melodic breaks and stabbing synths for a hypnotic anthem that is sure to capture fans’ eardrums on the dance floor.

Ganja White Night on their “Mr Wobble Is Back” tour stop, 8/5/16. Photo cred: Brew City Bass

From cosmic introductions to intense party jams and downtempo grooves, the twelve tracks come together to tell a more complete story around Mr Wobble, the superhero who creates music from ancient mythology and uses it to awaken citizens dwelling in the modern world he inhabits. Regarding to expansion of Mr Wobble’s world, Bayeul and Dodson are still exploring the many avenues the vigilante hero may take:

“There is still a lot of mystery, and we don’t want to say too much because we have a lot of projects that we want to go deeper into, we want to do more music videos and comic books. There’s just so many ways to go deeper into the story, there’s a lot of doors open now. We just introduced a lot of characters, so there’s a lot of new avenues to explore.”

The Origins arrives just as Ganja White Night gets ready to embark on their album-accompanying “The Origins Tour.” The duo will travel to 20 US cities featuring strong support from CaspaOpiuoDownlink, along with label mates DirtMonkey and Subtronics. They plan to begin each concert stop with a special B2B DJ set from the SubCarbon roster, before transitioning into the tour openers, and ending with a GWN performance that will feature live instrumentation, editing, remixing, and improvisation much like a band playing all original material.

Lane 8’s ‘Little By Little’ is a spectacular aural odyssey grounded in its exploration of the human condition

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The great paradox of the modern day is that despite numerous means of instantaneous communication, true and genuine connection is at premium higher than any point in history. Unsurprisingly, contemporary art wrestles with this, notably in Black Mirror‘s recent examination of dating apps and culture from the episode “Hang The DJ,” where the driving tension results from couples being matched up and immediately given a countdown until their inevitable split and disconnect.

Acutely aware of this strain stemming from disconnection is the melodic house maestro Daniel Goldstein, better known as Lane 8. In an effort to establish deeper contact with fans, Goldstein launched his This Never Happened series of events, which required attendees to abandon their phones and experience his mellifluous concoctions while entirely present, free from the distraction of technology.

In a discussion with DA from 2016, Goldstein delved into how important the introduction of his imprint and This Never Happened show concept was for his work:

Towards the end of last year I did a big album tour and played a ton of shows in a row and there were a few where, you know, you would look out playing ‘Diamonds’ or ‘Hot As You Want’ and just see a sea of phones recording the moment and nobody really just actually being there and experiencing it. I remember just seeing that and talking to my wife and saying, these people are not experiencing live music at all – everything is just a spectacle and I feel like that’s kind of something that’s just plaguing everything…”

Encouragingly, Lane 8 will tour his new album under the This Never Happened banner, out now via his imprint of the same name. Dubbed Little By Little, the LP flourishes in its embrace of the past, present, and future brand of his deep and melodic house music.

Lane 8

After the announcement of Little By Little, Goldstein unveiled the first single “No Captain,” featuring the distinct tones of POLIÇA‘s Channy Leaneagh. An intriguing vanguard, Goldstein embarked on a uniquely reflective journey of melodic house and evocative electronica, inspiring instrumental club ballads, and late-night memories along the way.

If standout vocal stylings are to be this album’s defining feature, then Little By Little is Goldstein’s magnum opus of stylistically evolved and meticulously-crafted curation. The producer welcomed several new vocals talents onto the LP, in the form of Australian talent Fractures on both “Clarify” and “Hold On” and the British singer-songwriter J.F. July on “Coming Back To You.” The strength of each vocalist is evident in the lift they give the record, in general, and each track, specifically. Like Lane 8’s earlier work, Little By Little is crafted with the mastery that fans have come to love amongst his catalog: a marriage of introspective and instrumental club tracks.

Each track on Little By Little presents a unique aural journey. Like Lane 8’s 2015 album Rise, Little By Little finds its poise in a form of lyrics that are equally wistful and thoughtful, driving melodies, and a meandering energy. Considering the driving forces behind “Hot As You Want,” featuring Solomon Grey, “Undercover’s” feature of Ghostly International founder Matthew Dear, or even “The One’s” highlight of Patrick Baker, it’s only right Little By Little sees that Lane 8’s use of male vocalists continues.

While each track on Little By Little touches on human connections in some capacity, Goldstein’s best captures the record’s ethos with “Skin & Bones.” “Are we seeking something more than this?” beckons vocalist Patrick Baker. The vocalist offers contemplation in his lyrics, speaking with an air of poignancy on the struggle to forge such meaningful bonds with others.

When Goldstein’s been asked to articulate the inherent meaning of his music in a number of interviews, he’s expressed, like many musicians, that his music is a cathartic medium for his listeners and that he ultimately hopes that they extract their own meanings from it. Surely, each of his tracks reflect intimate moments of his own life; that said, what he outputs is more than likely to move its listener in an entirely different way.

Little By Little is an especially bold release to kick off the new year, given the current climate that is currently straying away from albums in general. In providing such an extensive and sentimental expression of himself, Lane 8 proves that these bodies of work still serve an important purpose in the musical sphere.  This isn’t to say that artists don’t pour their heart and soul into singles or EPs. However, when artists build a labor of love over the course of several years, listeners know that they’re putting everything on the line  and challenging themselves on the immensely exposing path that is penning an LP.

“In a way, I think that’s what this album is all about — taking the time to appreciate each small step in a larger journey,” Goldstein’s expressed of the new record, and little by little, his work is allowing that journey to be all the more enjoyable for many.

Tickets for Lane 8’s Little By Little album tour are available here.

All Photos Courtesy of Lane 8