Tiga, DC Breaks, MK contribute to London Grammar’s new remix EP

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When London Grammar was formed in a university dorm room back in 2009, little did the trio know they would become one of electronic music’s favorite “neo-progressive” acts. In addition to their debut album If You Wait, which received global critical praise, the three have received remix treatments from SashaRAC, and Jonas Rathsman.

With the soaring vocals of Hannah Reid, the melancholy guitar of Dan Rothman, and Dominic ‘Dot’ Major’s classical piano, the trio’s sound blends together ambient and ethereal into clean, minimalist productions that stand as the perfect raw material to be remixed into any genre. Now the band has shared their latest remix EP of “Oh Woman Oh Man,” which enlists the help of some of electronic music’s greatest producers. Tiga gives the track a complex, hypnotic techno spin that clocks in at over 8 minutes, DC Breaks rearranges the composition with long build-ups and drum n bass releases, and MK brings to the track a progressive flare.

London Grammar’s sophomore album, Truth Is a Beautiful Thing, is out June 9th on Metal & Dust/Columbia Records.

 

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Conro – Lay Low (Original Mix)

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Canadian producer Conro has already had an exceptional 2017, and the year’s not even halfway over yet.

On May 17, the producer put out his latest single on Monstercat: a laid-back track called “Lay Low.” Unlike his previous release, a high-energy remix of Martin Garrix and Dua Lipa‘s “Scared to be Lonely,” “Lay Low” emits a much more relaxed downtempo vibe.

David Benjamin‘s smooth vocals glide perfectly over Conro’s mellow beats in the track. The producer is consistently pushing the boundaries of conventional electronic music, and the remainder of the year is sure to be a success for him.

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A-Trak’s ‘Music Heals’ Mix remains a comforting way of processing current events

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A-Trak outlined a sentiment felt among many when releasing his “Music Heals” mix on November 9, the day after Donald Trump’s election; in the DJ’s words, “Music helps me process these emotions.” A-Trak artfully stitches together a melange of classic R&B and soul pieces across thirty minutes that provide a sense of hope and nostalgic comfort to the listeners with songs like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” as messages of love and unity are sung over a background of timeless soundscapes.

Meanwhile, songs like Solange’s “Cranes In The Sky” and the Larry Levan edit of “Stand On The World” add a relatable touch to the mix, emulating ardor to stand up against the system tinged with a hint of sadness which is certainly present in a good deal of people who are concerned over the new executive branch’s stance on certain issues.

A-Trak’s “Music Heals” mix is a well-compiled effort to alleviate the sense of uneasiness that many currently feel in the presently divisive political climate. We feel it warrants being shared, given the strong reactions on both sides of the fence following President Trump’s inauguration.

Stream the mix below:

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Bonobo shows growth and skill and on the promising ‘Migration’ [Album Review]

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There’s a common series of complaints leveled against electronic music- that it all sounds the same, and that it takes little skill to create. While these types of comments are enough to make those of us invested in the scene see red, one has to acknowledge that these complaints do have a undercurrent of truth to them. The possibilities and ease of use of modern DAWs have opened up the process of electronic music making to the masses; one need no longer spend years training and honing their craft to get a record contract when they can turn out radio-ready tunes with a free Soundcloud profile and a 15 minute Ableton tutorial video.

Largely, this democratization is a good thing; more opportunity means more diversity and creativity in the scene, allowing more voices to be heard. But, all too often, the same tools that are used by one producer to break barriers are used by others as a crutch, a way to fill the space where talent and vision should reside. Thankfully, if there’s one thing that Bonobo has demonstrated over the course of his nearly 20-year career, it’s that he is, without a doubt, in the former category. The electronica producer, real name Simon Green, is one of the brilliant minority of producers that is always moving forward, and always pushing his sound in new and interesting ways. Green’s latest album, Migration, show no signs of slowing down.

Migration is Bonobo’s sixth LP, and with that kind of career, most artists would be content to rest on their laurels, to settle on the sound that made them popular and resist change. But Bonobo has steadfastly refused to be complacent, and on his newest album, his style has evolved to its most tightly-coiled and intelligent form yet. A truly innovative producer, Green treats all of sound as his instrument, and he plays it with a confident, refreshing virtuosity.

The title track opens the album with gentle piano notes the rise out from a bed of colorful evolving textures, filling out with layers of vocals chops and gleaming cymbal hits and eventually growing into a radiant, ambient beat that wouldn’t be out of place on Tycho’s Epoch. “Kerala” takes simple harp and vocal samples and plays them backwards and forewords on top of each other to otherworldly effect. Even when the album overplays its hand, like on the overstuffed 8-minute odyssey “Outlier,” the result is never boring. A bit distracting and noisy, perhaps, but always changing, always moving.

The guest vocalists on the album manage to be effective and impactful without drawing attention from the main attraction. Rhye’s Milosh is airy and serene on “Break Apart,” while Hundred Waters’ Nicole Miglis is the perfect addition to the dreamy, echoing “Surface.” Even the newly christened Nick Murphy (formerly known as Chet Faker) brings a delicacy and affect to “No Reason” that he often reaches for on his own songs, without giving in to the melodrama that occasionally plagues his solo work.

As consistently interesting and technically compelling as Migration is, it isn’t perfect, at times seemingly afraid to be as adventurous as it would like. The best parts of the album are those when it embraces its weirdness, and branches out eagerly into peculiarity. The delightfully off-kilter “Grains” comes to mind, which opens with a stuttering chorus of modulated vocal cuts, and builds tension with distorted strings and halting, irregular percussion. It’s a strange song, engrossing and exciting precisely because it’s so different.

“Bambo Koyo Ganda,” likewise makes the unusual marriage of Moroccan gnawa music and a funky house beat an infectious success, and the album’s highpoint, “Ontario,” manages to bring together a lush chords, skittering drum rolls, buzzing sound effects, and a sitar melody into one congruent, delirious soundscape. But even at its most nonsensical, Migration feels slightly tempered, a bit restrained. Its sonic experiments, its departures from convention, are what make this album interesting, and one is left wishing that it had embraced this more, that it had taken more risks, and jumped head first into the bizarre, kaleidoscopic vision it hints at in its best moments.

But these complaints are relatively minor, and perhaps particular to the listener. There are no real weak spots on the album, just places for improvement, and the sheer technical scope of it is admirable in and of itself. Migration is Bonobo at the height of his powers, the culmination of a long careers worth of progress, success, and evolution. It’s a vivd and complete album, well thought out and executed with style. Not even the harshest of critics could say that it is unoriginal or unimpressive, and we cannot wait to see what Bonobo does next.

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Skrillex’s ‘Leaving’ EP turns 4 today; revisit Skrillex’s most underrated EP here

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Skrillex‘s Leaving EP arrived four years ago today. The short three-track collection came seemingly out of nowhere, and rather than kick off a new year with high-octane bass and house bulldozers like Bangarang did at the onset of 2012, it catalyzed a stylistic departure for Sonny Moore that revealed a new dimension to his artistic complexion. The EP itself is a bit mysterious; it came at a time when fans were on the edge of their seats for a full-length project rumored to be called Voltage that never came to fruition. As it goes, the surprise EP was reportedly finished in a hotel room mere hours before it hit the internet. Matching its enigmatic title with a short selection, the release left a lot of questions open about the OWSLA head’s direction for the coming year.

Leaving included a staple DJ tool that Skrillex allowed to surface live about a year prior, mashing up pieces of “Scary Monsters” and “Fucking Die,” now officially known as “Scary Bolly Dub.” The collection’s opening offering, “Reason” may be one of the best Skrillex b-sides out there. Finally, the title track laid the groundwork for a more pensive, introspective side to Skrillex’s music, paving the way for later tunes like “Fire Away” and eventually “Pretty Bye Bye.” When the EP’s tracklist is considered, albeit being short and sweet, Leaving may be Skrillex’s most underrated EP to date. Revisit it here.

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Gorillaz share 15-track playlist to build album hype

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Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock over the last few months will know that the most popular virtual band in the world, Gorillaz, will soon be releasing their first album in over 5 years. The band has been slowly giving previews of what’s to come on by continuing their visual story with The Book of 2D and The Book of Russel, as well as appearing in a new commercial for luxury car brand Jaguar.

As if the release needed much more help in the hype department, the cartoon band has compiled a 15-track SoundCloud playlist titled, “Russel’s ‘Caturday’ Playlist for Puss Puss Magazine,” to potentially give fans more of an idea of what sounds and styles inspired them during the creation of the new album. The playlist features a mix of indie, indie-electronic, downtempo, R&B and hip-hop with songs from the likes of Kiiara, BOSCOPetite Noir, and even Baauer.

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Hudson Mohawke lends new track ‘Play N Go’ to Watch Dogs 2 soundtrack

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At the intersection of where electronic dance music and video game music meet, we have artists like Porter Robinson and deadmau5 who are famously influenced by digital gaming scores. Now we have Hudson Mohawke trying his hand at composing video game music, though he is taking his own lane with his debut gaming composition.

Accompanying Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs 2, due out on November 15, Hudson Mohawke has shared “Play N Go” off of the game’s forthcoming soundtrack, which will lands a few days in advance on November 11 via Warp Records. Swapping out 8-bit tones for a dreamy blend of downtempo hip-hop and buzzing future bass, HudMo’s latest piece immediately takes on a life of its own without the video game’s visual reference.

“Play N Go” is an intriguing patchwork of clinking chimes and pitched-up vocal samples entwined in a tribal drum rhythm, that has the Scottish producer’s distinct fingerprint all over it. Just as suited for a cruise in the car as it is for a 16-bar freestyle verse, “Play N Go” makes for a notable HudMo highlight this year, and points to a soundtrack full of gems just around the corner.

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Mark Johns’ debut EP is gloomy electro-pop ecstasy

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Both “Molino” and “Wait Till Tmrw,” the first and last tracks on Mark Johns’ debut EP, Molino, begin with nothing more than soft synth chords to compliment Johns’ mystifying voice. It’s not a voice that belts, not a voice that flourishes or draws attention to itself. Rather, it carries both a gentle tenderness and an undeniable weight — an openness and emotional presence that give it an arresting sense of honesty.

It’s this sense of honesty that saves the EP from some of the pitfalls that might have sunk it. Molino is not exactly happy listening. It’s full of loneliness and heartbreak, a lingering gloom that could easily have been overdone and fallen into self indulgence. But Johns keeps the project grounded in her remarkable voice and crafty songwriting, and the EP manages to wear its heart on its sleeve without ever succumbing to melodrama or excess.

Musically, the EP is a soothing synthesis of electro, downtempo, and R&B, maintaining an aesthetic consistency that makes things blend together without becoming repetitive. The production is relatively straightforward, but it serves the mood and vibe of Johns’ lyrics well.  Each of the EP’s six songs has its own character, and from the spaciousness of the title track, to the steady throb of “Chapstick,” and the syncopated groove of “Before You,” it contains enough variations on its central theme to keep the listener interested.

Molino is undeniably pop music, but it’s pop music with heart and brains. Jonhs sings catchy, radio friendly melodies, but fills them with lyrics that stand an obvious notch above the typical Top 40 hit. The result is an EP that’s accessible to almost everyone, from high-minded aficionados to casual listeners.

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Slow Shiver – In Blue (Drive By Delivery)

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Slow Shiver is a new artist project from Valente Bertelli, and by all accounts, it’s off to a magnetic start. Following Bertelli’s first contribution under the moniker, “We Lost” — a collaboration with France’s melodic mastermind Anoraak — the LA-based songwriter and producer has returned with his debut solo single: “In Blue (Drive By Delivery).”

“It’s about seeing your ex at a traffic light, in the car with another man,” Bertelli tells us.

The poignancy of the description is readily apparent upon listening to the track. Outside of the emotional candor of the lyrics, the entire composition is dripping in somber ’80s beauty. From its subtle arpeggio progression, to gated snare crashes and wailing guitar cries, it’s a thoroughly nostalgic production from head to toe.

The track is available as a free download on Slow Shiver’s SoundCloud.

Barclay Crenshaw – Sleepy Kids

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Barclay Crenshaw might not exactly be a household name, but many will know the producer by his alias: Claude VonStroke. The Dirtybird head honcho first debuted the project last year via his collaboration with experimental producer EPROM. Crenshaw now has returned with his first solo original, a dreamy downtempo track with hip hop inflections, entitled “Sleepy Kids.”

Claude VonStroke’s birth-named project originally started as an effort for Crenshaw to produce tracks that didn’t fit the house style that made his label a massive success. This motivation is obvious right off the bat: There are no four-on-the-floor kick patterns in sight. Rather, swirling synths and swelling strings rise and fall over intricate keyboard work, the most obvious connecting thread to his work as VonStroke. “Sleepy Kids” is the first track in a project that is set to debut in January.

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