Saturday, May 31, 2014

Minimal Wave

Somehow, some way, the 80s are relevant again. This isn't a 'retro' kind of thing, the fetish of the generation who lived through it. No, electronic music's emergence into the ubiquitous infiltration of all music has led to the revelation that it was prescient.

Don't get me wrong, there was some music in the 80s that warrants much of the dismissal of that decade's music and its cheese value. But it only appears that way if you are fed information from mainstream outlets, then, even as now. Top 40, mainstream radio, Billboard, Rolling Stone's degradation into irrelevance, all of that. Yes, that is 'pop' in the worst sense and, though nostalgic, that music is remembered not as innovative as much as it sentimental.

But under the surface, as in any generation, there was something happening, a reflection of that underlying world not represented in the mainstream outlets. My worldview changed in the mid 80s when I was introduced to bands such as the Violent Femmes and The Smiths, and a host of seminal punk bands such as The Dead Kennedys, Angry Samoans and similar ilk. Suddenly, an entirely new world opened up. No longer was the obligatory "classic rock" diet of my youth required. In fact, with a little Jean Michel Jarre thrown in, the door to the electronic music in which I would soon immerse myself was opened.

The synthesizer and the manipulation of the waveform was the thing that changed the face of music during the 80s as the technology was explored, for better or for worse. It is only now, many years later, that we have seen just how diverse the music was and how artists were utilizing this technology, building on those who had gone before them and taking a mere waveform and creating sounds never before heard.

This compilation unfolds a piece of that history. Essential. Lay aside what you think of the 80s and dive in.

It's also a label well worth exploring.


Thursday, May 29, 2014


An incredible melting pot of artists, all who share a similar ethos, if you will. It is that strange, comforting darkness that is so familiar and comfortable to those of us with a more melancholic disposition.

Dark yet somehow bringing the light and life within it, the songs are both a celebration of and a mourning for this life in which we live.

Considering that two of the artists here would ultimately take their own lives there is something even more mysterious at play here. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Axs - Secrets Series, Recycled Plastics

Truly love the Web and how close to the music we can really be. Axs, one of the better known and more talented among the latest crop of 'dub techno' musicians (post Basic Channel, post Deepchord) has been on my radar for quite a few years. First stumbled across his works on some netlabels as well as some Other Heights compilations, among others. Truly talented musician, able to take those sounds and artists who have influenced him and make music that is uniquely his own. 

Anyhow, he is active on one of the discogs forums through which I have fully immersed myself into the dub techno sound and a few months back offered up a contest on his Soundcloud page to give away a CD versions of a series he had released through Brian Grainger's Recycled Plastics label. Little did I know that I would be the lucky recipient.

Not only were the CDs provided (each with bonus tracks unavailable via the digital releases) but he included a very personal touch by creating cover art on what was otherwise plain cardstock sleeves. Totally and completely cool. 

You can see the results of the artistic creations here.

The links below are to the digital versions. CD versions, limited editions of 50, are also available. Digital versions are 'Name Your Price' but contribute what you can to keep the music alive.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cassette Culture

Cassette releases have seen a resurgence of sorts though I can't really explain why. However, some of these releases have been quite good which makes the music well worth seeking out. Many of the releases come with a digital version which, to me, makes the cassette itself something of a mystery and, without a digital release, makes it even more of a mystery.

Perhaps I am showing my age as I lived through the heyday of cassettes and still have more than a few of the mixtapes made back during my youth trying to give expression through music to the obligatory teenage angst. 

I suppose in this regard nothing will ever really replace the mixtape; the mix CD is so terribly disposable and a digital mix lacks the physical medium which gives sentiment to such a personalized expression. In that regard I see the appeal of the cassette resurgence.

Perhaps it's just another attempt at trying to keep music pure, out of the reach of the corporate paws, as cassettes, much like digital, can be made by anyone at anytime and can contain some gems that might otherwise never see the light of day.

We'll see where it all leads. In the meantime, here's a sampling of some of the treasures that have been released in this medium. Most are digitally sourced but one pays homage to the mixtape of old and is not available in digital.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Guaranteed, some of the most beautiful music you will ever hear.


Everything he touches is gold.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

SOTL ‎– MTNH (EP) (1998)

Speaking of SOTL. Limited edition vinyl only release, a collection of old unreleased recordings. From the website:

side a is two old pieces crammed together in typical lid fashion - the first 5 minutes is a piece brian did for n.y.u student film superstar dan kern (a.k.a goldenboy) - the last 15 minutes is a piece that i started in 92 - it was originally slated for the nitrous record, but it didnt make the cut the b side is from the 96 summer tour with bedhead - calgary still brings a smile to my face - everything sounded so warm and inviting, and the crowd noise really seems to drone along with us...
Drone on you crazy diamond.


Sunday, May 18, 2014


Speaking of drone...

For those who know, you know. And if you know then you know the vinyl has some bonus material to take you that much deeper.

Drone on, dear friends, drone on.


Arjen Shat (aka Ohrwert) - Drone Works

Arjen Schat, aka Ohrwert, makes some incredible drone music under his own name. As Brian Grainger (aka Coppice Halifaxet al) stated: "When Arjen is droning, everything is right with the world." Gotta admit, there is truth in this statement. Sunday morning drone.

All his works are 'Name Your Price' but it's well worth investing in his music to make sure it continues.

Drone on

For more on his work as Ohrwert start with his multitudinous discography 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Jealous God

Been a bit busy as of late, thus my absence, but have stumbled into some new musical territory. Have dabbled in most of these for some time but they are bubbling up from the underground, figured it's about time to give them some air. Maybe some of them are familiar to you but I guarantee you that from under this umbrella are artists and sounds that will breathe new life into your eardrums.

Jealous God is a venture directed and run by Karl O'Connor (Regis), with Juan Mendez, AKA Silent Servant, working as visual director and James Ruskin holding the title of music director. It falls under the umbrella of O'Connor's long-running Downwards label (which recently launched a North American division). As with Mendez and O'Connor's previous project, Sandwell District, Jealous God's mission statement says the goal is to "question the here and now," and is "intended for the mutants of our age." 

Jealous God follows on from the closure of Sandwell District, the collective that O’Connor and Mendez ran with Dave Sumner, AKA Function. The label shut up shop at the end of 2011, and the recent Fabric 69 mix—which featured two Jealous God tracks—was the final Sandwell District transmission.

Each of the first four release came with a CD mix, each one highly recommended for an amazing wealth of new musical treasures. As Tangerine Dream's "Mysterious Semblance At The Strands Of Nightmares" segued flawlessly into tracks by Jocelyn Pook and Grischa Lichtenberger, two artists new to me, on the first mix, I sat mesmerized within the confines of my headphones. Coil's "Going Up" lifted me out of the fog and the mix rolled on.

Limited edition vinyls are a bittersweet venture but the mixes are freely available on Mixcloud and similar ilk or they can be found more easily below.

Blackest Ever Black and Hospital Productions are within the eye of the hurricane of this label and each come highly recommended for new ventures into what electronic music has to say.  

Down the rabbit hole you go...