Kratos Himself – A Town Called Imaginarium EP [Listen]

Kratos Himself - A Town Called Imaginarium

Toward the end of last month Kratos Himself dropped his new EP A Town Called Imaginarium. Days later I stumble upon it on another enlightening bandcamp weekly and before I know it, it’s found a permanent place on my computers hard drive.

Satisfying my eardrums immensely for the last week, the Dutch downtempo wizard has released a fine slice of electronic music which encompasses a slight world music vibe, warm bass, chilled beats and some organic and delicate production. It’s by the numbers, but when the numbers sound this good there’s nothing to complain about. Kratos Himself, or Jethro Hopmans as he is otherwise known, has caught my attention and has me positively salivating for a full length of this calibre.

You can pick up A Town Called Imaginarium for ‘buy now or name your price’ over at bandcamp.

1. Imaginarium (03:57)
2. Remember (04:54)
3. Ayahuasca (04:38)
4. Lucid (05:31)
5. This Town (04:08)
6. Don’t Call Me (06:02)
7. Till We Meet Again (05:16)

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Day – Land of 1000 Chances [Listen]

DJ Day

As the sun finally beats down on England and the days reach their longest of the year it’s high time we had some music to go with the weather and Damien Beebe, or Day as he is better known, delivers with one of the freshest and summeriest records of the year.

Land of 1000 Chances is a wonderful collection of instrumentals crammed with catchy melodies and soulful vocal samples effortlessly blending jazz and downtempo grooves to give that classic hip-hop vibe. It’s cut and paste nature moves it along at a steady pace, shifting continuously but never out of character, diverse yes but also tastefully mixed.

Day - Land of 1000 Chances

The idea for all of this was to go back to my roots and encapsulate the last few years of what was going on in my life. I needed to get away from the clean, over-produced music I was making that had slowly put me in a creative corner cover the last 5 years. I was stuck. It’s not in me to make electronic music (I suck at it to be honest) and I didn’t want to re-hash the cut and paste stuff I had done before, so what the fuck do I do now? I go back. Back to the first album I ever made in a bedroom in Palm Springs with an EPS, my cousins drum kit and some records. I had to get back to where I came from in order to harness where I was now. Fuck layering and smothering songs to oblivion. These needed to breathe. Keep it intentionally sparse and simple. It had to be about creating a vibe and sticking to it. Not throwing in a random dance cut or having it cluttered with guests. It had to be honest and real. Somewhere along the way, I ended up drinking way too much, traveling and hanging out way too much and on the precipice of divorce. They say write what you know, so I did.   –  Day 

It may not be that adventurous, nor entirely unique, but it’s undoubtedly well crafted and that’s all we ask for in a record like this. Suitable for driving with the windows down soaking up those summer vibes, or laying on a warm beach with a beer this record suits the sunny season no end.

Grab Land of 1000 Chances over on Day’s bandcamp page.

Bonobo – The North Borders [Review]

Bonobo The North Borders

It doesn’t feel too long ago now that Black Sands (March 2010) released to a wonderful reception from fans and critics alike and pushed Bonobo even further to success supported by a truly brilliant live set and extensive touring. Now just three years later Simon Green returns with another step forward for his sound and what will in all likelihood be one of the best releases in downtempo electronic music this year. Continue reading

New Bonobo album announced, The Revival Hour’s debut and Emancipator’s new release out now [News]

Si Green Bonobo

Bonobo returns with The North Borders

Bonobo The North BordersThis is old news if you saw it posted last week, but Bonobo makes a return this April with the release of his new album The North Borders. With the announcement he’s unleashed new track Cirrus as a free download. It’s got real groove and sounds a little more experimental than anything we’ve heard before from Simon. I’m especially looking forward to this one as it’s always been fascinating to see how Bonobo has evolved over the years. The artwork’s brilliant (click on the image to see the hires version for those who don’t want to ruin there eyes). The video for Cirrus is also worth a look with some great visuals that marry to the music perfectly. Don’t forget to do your music library a favour and grab yourself the free single.

The album’s due April 1st (2nd in North America), lets hope it’s not an April fools! There’s also some new live dates to accompany the new album, to make things easy head over to this link for a full (and fairly extensive) listing. Continue reading

Gold Panda – Trust EP [Listen]

Gold Panda

2013 is off to a good start with album announcements left, right and centre. It seems we’re in for an excellent year in electronic music, in particular with Emancipator and Bonobo having announced new albums and free singles to accompany press releases. After a scattering of 12 and 7″ releases, Gold Panda is joining them and making a return after 2010’s joyous debut Lucky Shiner with his Trust EP, the first new material released since last May.

Continue reading

Emancipator – Minor Cause [News/Listen]

Here’s a nice midweek surprise, Emancipator will be releasing his new album Dusk to Dawn on the 29th January. Yes it really is that close!

Emancipator Dusk to Dawn announcement

The record drops on Doug Appling’s new imprint Loci Records (which had it’s debut release last month with the rather superb TorDrum Therapy).  It’s been a while now since 2010’s Safe in the Steep Cliffs and after the extensive touring that followed the album it’ll be nice to hear some brand new tracks starting with the first single Minor Cause. The track is a free download over on the Loci Records bandcamp page and it’s a gorgeous slice of lush downtempo with beautiful instrumentation including the trademark strings, trip hop elements and electronics bubbling around in the background. It’s beautiful and if this is anything to go by January 29th will be an exciting release for Loci Records.

Check out Minor Cause below and head over to bandcamp to grab yourself a copy.

Tor – Glass & Stone [Listen]

First of all it’s probably apt to introduce Loci Records, the new label of Douglas Appling (Emancipator). In a statement from the Emancipator website;

“Fellow Music Lovers,

For years, I’ve found great purpose and pleasure in producing music as Emancipator. To have reached so many people along the way who resonate with my sound is incredibly inspiring. I’d like to build upon this response and cultivate a community of shared musical taste by introducing my own record label. As its name suggests, Loci Records is a meeting place, a point of convergence for myself and others who share a similar musical vision. Its focus is on the crossroads of melodic downtempo, instrumental hip hop, and electronica.”
– Douglas Appling

This is exciting news of course, Douglas Appling is considered the king in many respects of the more thoughtful, organic instrumental hip-hop/downtempo crossover, mentioned in his statement, which has been cropping up more prominently in recent years. In the last eighteen months it’s been a consistent occurrence to see Emancipator cited as a main influence in many of his peers album descriptions so by all accounts a label from the man himself should bring some more high quality music of a similar nature. What’s most exciting however is what is coming from Loci Records.

After his collaboration on the Emancipator Remixes album from last year, Tor is first out the door with the superb single Glass & Stone, a considered and beautiful slice of exactly the combination of genres Doug is setting out to represent with Loci Records. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric affair with layered beats and some nice use of female vocals. It sounds fresh and is of excellent quality with subtle production and a level of sheen which is what I was hoping from Loci Records. It’s also a FREE download, so head on over to the label bandcamp page to grab yourself a copy.

Glass & Stone is the first single from Drum Therapy which is due on the 11th of December.

“Ten years in the making, this record promises to bring a soulful, cerebral blend of instrumentation that I believe to be a great representation of what Loci aims to curate. Drawing influence from across the globe, Drum Therapy is slated to entrance listeners with thought provoking harmonies and dusty samples that resonate long after the tracks end.”
– Douglas Appling

If this taster is anything to go by, we are in for a rich and detailed treat in time for Christmas and the promise of great things from Loci Records in the future.

Gem Club – Breakers [Review]

There are few albums that I would call truly beautiful, Helios’s Eingya and Gregor Samsa’s second full-length Rest spring to mind; and now, with Gem Club’s debut Breakers, Christopher Barnes, cellist Kristen Drymala and vocalist Leva Berberian have crafted quite simply one of the most systematically heartbreaking, haunting and outright beautiful albums to have graced my system in a long time and it can comfortably sit within that list.

There’s an unbelievable subtlety to this album, it’s got room to breathe and every note written sounds considered and then considered again. Stripped to a combination of rhythmic piano, calming vocals and brooding cello it can feel incredibly pure. I hesitate to say it verges on bleak with an almost melancholy feel. Go into this album in an optimistic mood and I’m sure you will take a different view compared to heading in full of pessimism.

It can be a worry with music similar to this that it comes across as a pretentious wash of sound but Gem Club manage to hold their focus and the songs here bleed with emotion. Pacing is key and although this may not be an album for every moment of the day it’s one that’s of little effort to listen to and at just shy of fourty minutes is the perfect length, never outstaying it’s welcome. Drums punctuate at the right moment and vocals soar when needed, it’s smart stuff and works very well.

Penultimate track 252 are where things really gather together and show what Gem Club can really do. It’s beautiful, a little friendlier and stands out strong on an album of already stellar tracks. The vocals lift and there’s a warmth that fills the sound that isn’t present prior.

It’s a difficult thing to review this album without listing a string of adjectives revolving around the word beauty but at it’s core this is what Breakers delivers. It was never going to be an album for every moment of the day and that’s ok; it’s an album to slip some headphones on and simply listen to. Don’t let this one fall into the background, it yearns to be heard properly.

Head over to Gem Club’s bandcamp page for a full listen, like them on facebook or have a poke around their website iamgemclub.com.

Room E – Penguin Child [Review]

2012 is off to a good start already with some solid music discoveries and a release schedule that’s gaining momentum every day. Amongst the discoveries has been San Diego based Room E who has just this Monday released his new LP Penguin Child, a colourful blend of instrumental hip-hop, electronica and ambient. The album’s a heady mix of samples and live instrumentation with lush, warm production and a laid back vibe. There are some real moments of brilliance here where Room E creates some seriously catchy melodies and hooks that will stick with you for a while.

It may not be too far removed from his peers and is instantly reminiscent of Four Tet and Gold Panda although where Room E forges his own path is with the aforementioned vibe that’s consistent throughout. It may lean toward the safe side a little, but none of it sounds rushed and as a whole piece it comes across delicately compiled and considered which is a great strength as the album becomes instantly effortless to listen to. It also varies in style enough to hold the attention bringing in many offshoots of the electronic music genre and what you’re left with is an incredibly solid record. There’s also a fantastic range of sounds and instruments there with xylophone, melodica, accordion all making an appearance along with live drums which bring a looser, more organic feel to the tracks they’re used on.

It’s also benefitting from some seriously cool artwork courtesy of Cami Robinson, which is what grabbed my attention before I’d even hit play. I can’t emphasise enough how much decent artwork influences what I will choose to check out and this one (although subjective of course) is a great example of what works for me.

Through repeated listens of Penguin Child those little details within the production become apparent and even sitting down with my headphones and writing this review I can feel my appreciation of this record grow. It’s an album I can strongly recommend for fans of beat music who want something a little downtempo and unhurried. It’s a strong start for the year for both musicians and music fans alike. You could do a lot worse than to check this album out.

You can have a listen and purchase the album over on Room E’s Bandcamp page. Grab him on facebook or find more info on the Brilliant Something blog.

Fanu Presents All-Fanu Mix Volume 7 [Listen]

Breakbeat genius Fanu has a fresh mix on his soundcloud page, It’s a fantastic diversion for an hour and it’s also a free download. If you’re after a little downbeat and dnb it’s well worth your time.

http://soundcloud.com/fanu/fanumix7

01. DJ Shadow – “Scale It Back” (Fanu’s Lightless coffee remix) [dub]
02. Pilvien Päällä [Lightless]
03. Paras Ystävä [Lightless]
04. Rave Like It’s… [Lightless]
05. Animation – Spanish Key (Fanu’s Lightless remix) [RareNoise]
06. ZZYZZX – Battle Anybody (Fanu remix) [dub]
07. Shatner Rap (feat. Greenleaf) [Lightless]
08. I Can’t Sleep [Lightless]
09. Jupiter 2011 (feat. Mineral) [Lightless]
10. Nuku [Lightless]
11. Dawn Joseph – Something Beautiful (Fanu remix) [dub]
12. Beauty [Midnight Sun Recs dub]
13. Ane Brun (Do You Remember) [Balloon Ranger Recs. dub]