Erotic-funk singer/songwriter, Miguel‘s fourth studio album, War & Leisure, is likely his most conscious, inventive body of work to date. Miguel is most widely known for his massive R&B ballad “Adorn,” which won him a Grammy in 2013. The track was released on his 2012 Kaleidoscope Dream, the LP that signified Miguel’s leap towards a more overtly psychedelic variation of his Pop/R&B production style.
In addition to his emblematic crooning of celestial bedroom sagas, we hear Miguel fighting to remain positive amid the tempestuous political climate in War & Leisure — title befitting. The album sees these two tones merge most discernibly in “Banana Clip,” wherein underneath the overtly phallic overtures, Miguel references the looming prospect of nuclear war with North Korea: “M16 on my lap / We hear missiles in the sky.”
Miguel also takes moments, specifically in the funkadelic, “Told You So,” to channel one his most salient influences, Prince, with lush, throbbing vocals and enrapturing eroticism. The production itself affords War & Leisure an air of wavy psychedelia, brought on by abundant reverb within both vocals and instrumentals, breathy dissonance, and distortion pedals galore — most evident in “Criminal,” featuring Rick Ross.
The auditory equivalent of a winter wonderland, Kaskade’s seasonal album, Kaskade Christmas promises anything but a ‘silent night.’
Out today, the full-length Christmas production arrives in time for the holiday, offering listeners Kaskade flavored reworks of a variety of Christmas classics, ranging from “Santa Baby” to “Holy Night.” The 13-track album additionally includes several original Kaskade tracks, like “Cold December” and “It’s Beginning to Snow.” “To add my imprint to classic songs is fun for me, and my die-hard fans will be familiar with the ways I make them my own. Some of the songs are huge departures from the original style, while others stick within the main framework,” Kaskade notes of the album’s revisionist effort.
Released via Kaskade’s own Arkade label, Kaskade Christmas features an array of female vocalists, some of which will indeed be familiar to Kaskade’s following. Ilsey from “Disarm You” makes an appearance, as does Kaskade’s former house group, Late Night Alumni.
The ambitious initiative is an exposé of Kaskade’s sonic creativity, the producer placing his own touch on seasonal staples. “I’ve always loved Christmas music. I grew up singing it with my family at Church which was the gateway to my High School Varsity Choir. This Choir would travel all over Chicago and even landed in NYC to perform a concert series of holiday classics” Kaskade writes in a recent journal post on his website.
A nod to the effort’s centrality in Kaskade’s early and present life, the entry continues “All these years later, I’ve been able to put my own collection of holiday music together and am really excited to have it out this season. This is my Christmas album. I love the challenge of taking music that I have grown up with and producing it in a way that is new and modern.”
When it comes to Kaskade fans, gift giving has been made easy this year.
Soon It Will Be Cold Enough… that Doug Appling will need to retreat indoors to adhere to a pattern that has long defined the perennial producer since he debuted his Emancipator moniker eleven years ago. This pattern of silent introspection is one that has, in turn, allotted an intimate offering of landscapist, waning, sonic multitudes.
Like a bear emerging from hibernation, Appling too awakens; batting his eyes, hungry, and ready to exude his reserved energy. For each time Emancipator resurfaces, he releases not just a full-length record — undoubtedly a gift — but a situated anomaly in electronic music. The very existence of a musical act like Appling is an oddity in itself, as he emits a transient hybrid of jazz, electronica, bossa nova, chillwave, and downtempo hip-hop.
Listeners are offered more than a simple glimpse into the psyche of Appling and his relationship to music, nature, creatures, and the seasons in his work; in fact, he gives them access to something far more profound.
Unlike his contemporaries who too attain ethereal elegance, Emancipator exudes tempos and fills rooms with a panache that has the veracity to bring his listeners to tears. He sheds a layer for his listeners, whether it be in the palpable nature of his music, or in his gorgeously employed violin. It’s likely he does so in hopes that his listeners will too.
Few artists manifest parallelable beauty or nail the longevity of a song like his work does. Undoubtedly, it would be difficult to observe or create in the spirit of the world as eloquently as Appling. His music serves as a reminder that there’s more to life than meets the eye, and that life’s grand mystique is all a part of the blissful process.
Each new Emancipator release serves as a communicable feast for listeners to join him in devouring, and after a long few winters of hibernation from the prodigious talent, a new release would be nearly impossible to resist indulging in. Luckily, he’s come forth with a new work, the full-length LP Baralku, which he will be touring extensively come early 2018.
Baralkuis distinct, and yet, it’s expectedly eloquent in thematic scope and the employment of Emancipator’s refined style. It’s also an aptly named work.
Named for an astral spirit island in the Milky Way where departed souls build fires to let their loved ones know they arrived safely in the afterlife, Appling exudes this blissful aura of beauty in the emotive embers left dwindling on the record.
“Music takes me to places, and each song is a spirit island on which its soul lives infinitely. To release a song is both a death and a birth at the same time.”
He continued, “The sounds contained in each song have reached the end of their life process. The once shapeshifting collage of expression has been crystallized into a final form, no longer kinetic. Yet it exists in a state of permanent potential energy, waiting to be accessed in the form of music, just as the memory of a departed soul will always have the power to move us.”
Regardless of whether his music has directly hit on the concept by way of its names, its vehement quality has long emitted the sonic virtues of rebirth, renewal, and total desolation — all at once.
“First Snow,” a track on his debut album Soon It Will Be Cold Enough… is itself an encapsulation of this aforementioned multitude. Of course, it’s a celebration of the new season, of innocence, but like the album’s name, “First Snow” also emotively reminds us that with a first snow’s beauty also comes death — of vegetation, of the season, and of warmth.
While his music is filled with stark multitudes like the above, it’s largely through enveloping sonic warmth that its impact strikes. Emancipator’s music drapes over his listeners, like a cozy blanket or a warm fire on a cold night.
On Baralku, he adheres to his archetypally poised encapsulation.
The album sets off on the impassioned epic “Baralku,” electronically-tinged in its commencement, the tune transforms into a speechless-rendering violin ballad. Appling sets the tone for the remaining thirteen tracks to follow with “Baralku,” an enormous feat he handled with precision. “Baralku” also hints that the culmination of tunes to follow will shine in their marvelously meticulous production. Additionally, he imbues a sense of sonic suspension, for in the track’s beginning, it would seem as if a violin would never be integrated, and yet, the instrument proceeds to serve as the track’s central force.
But such is the beauty of Emancipator’s work.
In the eleven years since the inception of his idiosyncratic amalgamation of styles, Appling’s generated steadily escalating buzz. On the strength of four previous albums — Soon It Will Be Cold Enough… (2006), Safe In The Steep Cliffs (2010), Dusk to Dawn (2013), and Seven Seas (2015) —plus several remixes and EPs, Appling has now achieved his most artistically integrated piece of work. Each work over the years has poured over his styles in a tastefully experimental fashion, but Baralku exudes a euphonious sap, oozing throughout the work in a multitude of facets.
Wherein the fusion of hip-hop is pronounced on the record — in numbers like “Abracadabra” or “Udon” — the record also capitalizes on experimentality and nuanced flow.
“Baralku” even withstands impeccably effervescent transitions. From the aptly named situational awakening of “Bat Country,” sonically reminiscent to waking in a field upon getting swarmed by bats, disoriented, and finally overjoyed in one’s own safety — to the open, waning quality of the jazz-tinged “Pancakes,” to the seemingly odd, but effortless marriage of the organ and banjo on “Rappahannock,” Emancipator elongates his established decorum.
Emancipator has situated Baralku as an unexpectedly autobiographical journey to the island of Baralku. Between his mastery of structure and improvisation,Appling reaches a multifarious destination — where the soul lives on in eternity, aware of life’s multitudes, embracing and reflecting on them wholeheartedly in the astral afterlife.
Kygo is undoubtedly a powerhouse in dance music today. His originality in arrangements helped him gain notoriety quickly in the American theater and his ability to infuse his unique style into tracks via remixes helped Kygo obtain superstar status all over the world. When Kygo started to produce original efforts, the jury was out for
The Sex Pistols are undeniably one of the greatest punk rock bands in history, as their influence on both contemporary music and pop culture is inarguably ubiquitous.
While punk counterculture seeped into nearly every cultural crevice of the United Kingdom in the late sixties, it had yet to ooze into the streets of the United States for some time. Of course today, punk rock is a seemingly omnipresent cultural phenomenon in the US’s rock culture. This is not to say the counterculture was non-existent in the US before bands like the Sex Pistols’ sonic shipment overseas, but rather, full-blown anarchy vis-à-vis music was simply offset.
Certainly, as any punk pundit knows, it wasn’t just the music that catapulted bands like the Sex Pistols to the top of the industry or allotted for punk music to see the light of day. Rather, it was the movement’s ethos, specifically punk’s raw propensity for authenticity, its attacks on social conformity, and actions like the Sex Pistol’s continually neglected deference to the Crown.
Formed in London in 1975, the band initially lasted just two and a half years until 1978. They produced four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, during that time. Following this breakup, three band members went on to record songs for their manager Martin McLaren’s film version of the Sex Pistols’ story called The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, which depicts the journey of a band that went from fighting systems of oppression to one who had traded a pursual of “cash for chaos.”
It is with the Sex Pistols’ unfortunate demise — and opening up of a counterculture to the public eye that musical composer Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo found inspiration for his latest album under his Bloody Beetrootsmoniker. In it, he has cultivated an effervescent punk endeavor over the last decade that is explored deeper with each individual release.
Surely, it is with The Great Rock N’ Roll Swindle in context, that Rifo contextualizes the modern space electronic dance music resides in, too.
“I am absolutely defeated at defining any aspect of the EDM cauldron – at the moment, electronic music seems to be rather reductive and poor. EDM has become a useless and empty acronym. It deserves a deeper cultural structure and it is time to start working on it.”
Rifo has expressed a belief publically that punk died in 1977. This was the year the Sex Pistols attained mainstream popularity, and thus lost their edge in the process.
Rifo challenges EDM The Great Electronic Swindle (TGES),an industry he very much believes has lost its edge, too — much like the Sex Pistols sought to do during their time as an institution.
Rifo himself embodies much of what the early Sex Pistols encapsulated, with his boundary-less lifestyle and a long list of musical achievements, and it is through The Great Electronic Swindle that he asserts his demeanor.
Rifo may argue punk died in 1977, but for an artist to refuse to adhere to a genre by way of their outpouring, and to have managed to collaborate with legendary acts like The Cool Kids, Peter Frampton, Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, and not to mention The Beatles’ Sir Paul Mc Cartney along the way, he’s about as punk as they come.
“I believe we’ve been experiencing parallelism at the same time: much of the electronic music we hear has become flat and those who often occupy the stage are just ‘figures’ and no longer ‘artist’,” Rifo asserted. From my point of view, I saw the emergence of electronic music from a very strong underground scene where there was a lot of real stuff and way less money than today. Knowing that the artists who are on the stage NOW are not the authors of the piece they are ‘playing’ – I think it’s a big scam.” Presently, as his music evolves to a higher sonically communicative niche, language — in all its gravity and fluidity — plays a pivotal role in the Beetroots’ furthered deliverance.
“The album is my way of alerting people about this scam, about these people who are not artistically legitimate. It has often happened to me, especially during the years of the SBCR project, to know about DJs and producers and to congratulate them on their respective hits and to hear that the piece in question wasn’t produced by them or even written by them. ”
Certainly, the fluidity of the Italian-born artist’s own outpouring hasn’t stopped him from connecting with audiences worldwide over the years. Almost immediately after he unleashed The Bloody Beetroots in late 2006, Rifo’s vision was amplified. Inspired by a lifelong love of comics and punk rock, the visceral kick of the Beetroots’ sonic outpouring has been featured prominently in pop culture.
The Bloody Beetroots discography features a dizzying array of successful EPs and two full-length albums: 2009’s Romborama and 2013’s Hide. Indeed, clubs, theaters, and festivals around the world have willingly laid host to The Bloody Beetroots’ incendiary live show. Between Coachella and Lollapalooza to Governor’s Ball and more, The Bloody Beetroots’ lively dance-punk has enthralled millions.
But Rifo’s tantalizing vision extends far beyond the sonic space. Rifo strives to engage his listeners; rather than veering towards singularity, or struggling to find the balance that pleases his audience on a multitude of fronts, his work is challenging—both intellectually and emotionally. TGES serves as an epitome of his means.
Fans are ensured the induced-introspection and extrospection is respectively cyclical. In turn, this degree of expectation, from both his listeners and himself, has enabled Rifo to work closely with a myriad of artists on his latest album.
“I had not planned to have so many singers on TGES but the story I wanted to tell required a broad range of nuances…above all, empathy. So I turned to friends who introduced me to friends with whom we developed this fantastic adventure called TGES. Each and every one of them tells a piece of my life story of the last four years, it was a long and arduous experience that made me grow a little more,” Rifo explained.
Frontman for the alternative rock band Jane’s Addiction and the creator of LollapaloozaPerry Farrel is just one of the standout acts that join Rifo on the album. Certainly, fundamentals of melody, harmony, and classical music theory are present on the resulted collaboration “Pirates, Punk, & Politics.” These elements were internalized for Rifo at a young age in his classical training and on TGES, they’re incessantly tapped into.
“As an artist I need to see the music as my primary element of expression, which takes time and can not be artificially reproduced,” he states.
Doubling down on the extensive body of work and pulling in an opposite sonic direction are two tracks from the Swedish songstress Greta Svabo Bech, known best for her deadmau5 collaboration “Raise Your Weapon.” Bech joins The Bloody Beetroots on two tracks, “Invisible” and “The Great Run.”
Ultimately, Rifo sought out artists he felt would create a challenging body of work. Henceforth, Rifo incorporated his collaborators’ ideas into the work, too. Often on the new record the working and re-working of numbers has become one with managing a sole vision.
“My Name Is Thunder,” released as a double-single with Rifo and Australian rockers Jet prior to the record, serves as a prime example — after all, there are two versions of the track.
“I knew this song needed a certain rock tone… a tone like Nic Cester of Jet had. We thought instead of someone ‘like Nic Cester,’ how about we get the real Nic Cester! Thinking he would be in Australia, it was fate that he lived just a couple hours away from me in Italy. I found him,” says Rifo. “We worked together, ate together, drank together and created something very powerful together. Around this time the Jet guys started talking and thinking about getting back together when Nic shared this with his bandmates, the idea came up to have all of Jet involved. Because of our different influences, we had different ideas on the mixing and from that, we came up with two versions.”
Of course, this expansive, genre-crossing creative body of work requires immense amounts of work, but such is Rifo’s M.O.
“You have to take the time to create something consistently relevant,” he stresses.
In an era of seemingly mind-numbing and instantly-gratifying tunes, dumbed down pop culture, and situational fleeting relevancy of hot subgenres, Rifo strives on The Great Electric Swindle to create a true counterculture — much in the spirit of the Sex Pistols, who inspired him.
TGES is thus a thoughtful investment of musical pieces, scraped and re-scraped, even lacking concise direction at times. It’s a record that gives way to a palpable culmination of energy, and it lends way to where things can be taken with a widespread re-integration of the underground.
“I want to open a little window onto the meaning of freedom, and what art and music should be in a society,” concludes Rifo.
“I’m convinced that a new, completely rational counterculture is emerging and it will rethink all the choices of artistic growth out of every music business rule. TGES will hopefully be an example for other artists who will make the choice of bringing back quality to electronic music. The more we are – the more we will take control!” he continues.
The Great Electronic Swindle doubles down as a celebratory round for the tenth year of The Bloody Beetroots and it is with Rifo’s continuously effervescent attitude that he delivers his most expansive, challenging music to date. And yet, candidly unsurprising, Rifo hints that this is only the latest chapter in a story that has just begun. “Anything is possible!” he ensures.
It’s incredibly exciting, and yet, surprising almost that UK house maestro Nic Fanciulli is just now releasing his debut record — especially after playing such a pivotal role in the UK underground scene over the years. Fans of the virtuoso are ensured that it is with his prolific touring life and keen propensity for considerate curation that the phrase, “ Good things come to those who wait,” is quite applicable.
Surely, in an increasingly instantly-gratified, widespread age of musical connection that is oftentimes driven by the release of EPs and singles, a full-length album is hardly ever expected from those who frequent the circuits.
Fanciulli is one such act. After all, the artist has been busy cutting his teeth into the underground circuit for some time now. One may expect that the artist would not have the time to write and record an extended, cohesive body of work.
However, it is with his undeviating modus operandi and a refusal to remain sonically stagnant that allotted the creation of his first-ever LP, My Heart. It is also with his personal experiences in contextualization and a cultivated understanding of the impacts of dance music — both inwardly and outwardly — that Fanciulli shines on such an undertaking.
“This project actually started around ten years ago in 2007, right after I was nominated for a Grammy. I was surrounded by so many talented artists that I felt I really wanted to push myself and produce an album.” – Nic Fanciulli
On My Heart, Fanciulli delves into new experimental waters. The house don succeeds in an exploratory venture by way of a pleasantly employed variety of sonic landscapes, explored moods, and equivocal emotions over the course of 16 tracks. Through this, he presents an amalgamation of club-ready tracks and more downtempo numbers for the at-home listener.
My Heart, if the name hadn’t already served as a prior indication for its respective listener, comes from a considerably personal place.
“The music and touring aspect of my life was amazing but I didn’t feel I could channel the positivity I felt there into anything substantial at the time. The idea behind making an album was always to create something strong and meaningful, I wanted to make something that sounded as good at the afterparty as it does in the car, something that becomes relevant to every situation you listened in.”
Several thought-provoking numbers particularly stand out among an album filled with a blend of influences. One such tune, “Little L,” featuring Eagles & Butterflies, is a sound employment of all that Fanciulli set out to explore in his record.
Released prior to the full album, “Little L” offers a glimpse into the deeply emotive psyche of Fanciulli.
“The project name, MY HEART, came about when I realized I couldn’t switch off, or do this project part time – I had to totally immerse myself in it, and give my heart to it in order to finish it in a way I was proud of…”
Collaborations have certainly been a recurrent theme throughout Fanciulli’s career. He also teams up with the esteemed Guy Gerber on “The Perfect Crime.” The number, in turn, exudes immense melancholy and euphoria.
It’s clear from the deliverance that the collaborations were all really organic. However, perhaps, the best testament to organic collaborations on the piece is Fanciulli’s piece with Gorillaz‘ Damon Albarn.
He humbly describes the experience: “The craziest collab was having Damon Albarn on the vocals for ‘Saying.’ I had just finished a remix for the Gorillaz, and they really liked it; the next day I went into the studio and thought ‘I’m going to make a record for him and see if he likes it’. Luckily his management called, said he loved it, and within a week it was finished! It’s surreal for me; this is a guy who I used to listen to when I was doing my exams at school, I must have been a fan for 20+ years.”
Indeed, My Heart is an illustrious presentation of guest collaborators, delving into the waters of Fanciulli’s highly polished production skills and opening up fans to the newfound lush sonic beaconing of his soul.
“The album is called My Heart because I put my heart into it, Fanciulli asserts. “It’s a reflection of everyone I’ve ever met, everywhere I’ve ever been, and I hope everyone that listens can find something that resonates with their heart in the music. ”
When dropping a debut album, there’s plenty on the line. Even after a number of successful singles, EPs and collaborations, your first album is your chance to tell a complete, cohesive story and really define who you are as an artist. And with The Shell that’s exactly what the King of Vomitstep, Snails has done. If you
Disco remains at the forefront of dance music four decades after its genesis, thanks in part to the genius and innovation of Dresden-born artist Purple Disco Machine (PDM). With his debut album Soulmatic, Purple Disco Machine — also known as Tino Piontek — challenges the notion that the aforementioned genre was laid to rest with the bell bottoms and tie dye of yesteryear.
“To me, disco is such a fantastic musical style [in] that it transcends nostalgia. A genre which has musicality and musicianship at its heart should be celebrated, and I think, like many others, that those values are still relevant in today’s electronic scene”
Soulmatic celebrates disco’s timelessness by blurring boundaries of genre, interpolating classic disco with funk and deep house elements in classic PDM form. This kaleidoscopic aspect of his new project both appeals to dance music fans from all corners, and allows the artist to stay true to his disco roots while keeping a foot in modern times.
“On Soulmatic, I tried to make it so that every track touches upon some aspect of the ‘Disco’ genre. From the classic stylings of the 1970’s & 80’s, through Soul, Boogie, Funk into classic House, Filter Disco and Nu Disco,” he explains.
Crucial to the pervasiveness of disco in today’s dance culture is the art of sampling, and Soulmatic‘s first single “Body Funk” is no exception. The track nods to disco legend Sylvester by sampling the drums and bass-line of his hit “Do You Wanna Funk” and combining them with vocal samples from Hot Streak’s “Body Funk” over a classic Moroder-esque Italo-disco beat.
Purple Disco Machine comments,“‘Body Funk’ has been a key track for me since I first recorded it back in early 2017. I play it every set and it is a proper crowd anthem every time. It is crazy to know that it has spread across many different types of DJs, from Black Madonna to Dimitri Vegas who both play it!”
Soulmatic‘s second single “Devil In Me” is equally as unifying as “Body Funk” in that it showcases a melting pot of decades subgenres and tastes. On “Devil In Me,” PDM reimagines his own 2013 hit “My House” with a new vocal top line, and the result is a euphoric nod to dance music of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Not only does “Devil In Me” thrive on a late night Ibiza dance floor, but its sensual vocal courtesy of Joe Killington introduces the track to a wider audience. Killington’s beckoning voice gives a modern flair to the track’s classic disco roots, laying nicely over the original sample from William Bell’s “Private Number.”
The producer shares, “I always felt that the sample in ‘My House’ was so strong [and] that the record could go a lot further than just the club. To do that, it would need a vocal top line. So when it got signed the record company hooked it up. I think it really works, and now I have two different yet complementary records in my catalog.”
“Devil In Me” is representative of Soulmatic at large, using Joe Killington’s intoxicating vocals to transform a classic soul groove into a modern club anthem. Immediately after “Devil In Me,” Soulmatic‘s fifth track “Pray For Me” calls on contemporary R&B talent CeeLo Green to bring PDM’s Daft Punk-esque beat from a soulful loop into a late night heater.
In the form of vocoded vocals and keyboard notes, Daft Punk flavors also pop up on the album’s opener “Music In You” featuring Lorenz Rhode. Additionally, Piontek pays homage to earlier musical eras on “Memphis Jam” by enlisting New York‘s Golden Age of rap icon Kool Keith for a luxurious overlapping of off kilter rap and soulful grooves.
From whichever decade, genre or taste he draws, Purple Disco Machine succeeds in shifting happiness and togetherness back into dance culture’s center focus with Soulmatic. His debut album upholds the integrity of traditional disco while reaching a mainstream dance audience, cementing it as one of today’s most innovative releases.
Iconic German trance producer & DJ Paul van Dyk has released his 8th album, a fantastic 14-track LP entitled ‘From Then On’. The album is another classic trance record from one of dance music’s most beloved and longest enduring artists. Overcoming Tragedy ‘From Then On’ was made in the months following a horrific accident in
It has been some time since we heard from Sir Bob. It has been years in fact. The Bloody Beetroots appear so sporadically I don’t feel that it is a stretch to say that many of us forget that Sir Bob (and the gang) even exist in between releases. When Sir Bob speaks though, we