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.

Pretty Lights announces new album, release date and host of pre-order options [News]

Pretty Lights

Derek Vincent Smith, otherwise known as Pretty Lights returns on the 2nd of July 2013 with A Color Map of the Sun, his first full length since 2009’s Passing By Behind Your Eyes. The first single Around the Block is already available as a free download from Pretty Lights’ website and is much in the trend of recent Pretty Lights tracks with glitchy electronic flourishes, deep bass and big beats; however it also returns to a slower more hip-hop focused sound with vocals from Talib Kweli. Continue reading

Beastie Boys – License To Ill [Revisit]

BeastieBoys-LicensetoIll-Front

I’ve been whistling a song to myself all day, it’s been driving me mad… GIRLS! track 6 from Beastie Boys‘ critically acclaimed and award winning debut album Licensed to Ill. If you like rap/hip hop, metal, punk, rock, or pop (or just songs with funny lyrics) there is something in this album for you, so if you’ve never heard it or it’s been a while, go and check it out.

 

iTunes (£5.99)

Amazon CD (£5.34)

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

Catching Flies – The Stars EP / Mt. Wolf – Life Size Ghosts EP [Listen]

Today I have two electronic EP’s from London based musicians linked here by a remix from which I followed the trail back to the source, in turn discovering two bright relatively new acts myself.

So without further ado, first up (if you’re not already familiar with him) let me introduce you to London based producer Catching Flies. Continue reading

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.

Hidden Orchestra – Archipelago [Review]

Like Nightwalks before it, Archipelago is a triumphant body of work with rich and detailed production, soaring instrumentation and a staunch visual identity complimenting it’s predecessor and reaffirming Joe Acheson as a master of his craft. Straddling jazz, electronic, ambient, hip-hop and classical as before, It’s also a considerably more varied effort with tracks that shake off the darker claustrophobic atmosphere of Nightwalks and open up to a wider, reenergised and genuinely further refined record.

Overture confidently opens the album with cuts from the rest of the record making fleeting appearances and building into a full track before debut single Spoken brings it down and starts all over again. It is an incredibly evocative piece with field recordings from the Outer Hebrides complimenting the record sleeves beautiful etched visuals. It’s this level of thoughtfulness that separate the Hidden Orchestra from their peers. The tracks run like the tides, building up and receding gracefully with layer upon layer being introduced and creating a bold tension; the dual drum kits playing off each other, teasing and coaxing the music forward. It’s brilliantly clever stuff and a pleasure to listen to, this isn’t a record to be relegated to background music but one to take the time to learn its nuances and be utterly absorbed by.

It’s varied throughout with other double AA single Vorka being positively playful and contrasting with tracks such as Reminder which have distinctly darker tones before straying close to a sound reminiscent of ex label mate Bonobo on Seven Hunters. It’s also worth mentioning Archipelago is overflowing with guest talent. Czech musician/composer Floex joins cellist Su-a LeeMary MacMaster and Phil Cardwell who accompany core members Joe AchesonPoppy GrahamTim Lane and Jamie Graham. Each bring their own element to Archipelago and sound perfectly suited.

On its own Archipelago is an absolutely fantastic record. Executed with both skillful musicianship and talented song writing it is without a doubt one of the more beautiful, poetic and downright cinematic albums you will hear this year; however taken as a companion to Nightwalks it really shines as one of the most focused and exciting records on the UK music scene. You could accuse the Hidden Orchestra of staying a little too true to their template but think of the considered evolution of their sound combined with Joe Achesons overall vision for Hidden Orchestra and it brings the tantalising imagery of the greatest trilogies of our culture to mind. Let’s hope this is the Hidden Orchestras Empire Strikes Back and not the Godfather Part II (we all know where that trilogy went after that).

Lilacs & Champagne [Review]

I think I’ve found my album of the year. Yup, I’m willing to crown it already. Lilacs & Champagne, Alex Hall and Emil Amos of instrumental rockers Grails, have managed to craft one of the most interesting and promising debuts I think I’ve ever heard. It’s a rich tapestry woven from samples and organic pieces strung together perfectly to create a sound that’s incredibly fresh.To put it crudely, if you take the Grails template from their recent efforts and give it a hip hop, sample focused twist, this is what you get.

Throughout it’s surprisingly short run-time there’s a real 70’s B-movie vibe, it’s a cool sound indeed with fuzzy warm production and interesting samples. As Grails fans will attest, the duo obviously aren’t afraid to bring in influences from over seas and this enhances the already broad spectrum to pull from with an eastern feel on many tracks. It’s psychedelic stuff; a broad collage of ideas and moments that never outstay their welcome, perhaps due to the length of the record, but either way one of Lilacs & Champagnes greatest strengths. There are some wonderful melodies here and the addition of vocals on Lilacs (check out the video below) and Battling The City really bring them to life. It’s these short bursts of brilliance that really help this debut shine, it really is a versatile record and for something that on paper sounds like it should never work Hall and Amos have really succeeded in pulling it together.

It’s colourful stuff and you’ll yearn for repeat listens in order to take it all in. It’s going to take something special to remove this from the top of my album of the year pedestal and I’m confident I’m not going to find anything like it for a while – if you can place something in front of me similar or better I challenge you.

Grails have been having some hard-drive issues recently and there was mention of the next Lilacs & Champagne record being on said hard-drive, we can only keep our fingers crossed it survives (along with the next Grails albums) as if it’s anything like this debut, there’s plenty to look forward to.

Tracklisting is as follows:

01 Everywhere, Everyone
02 Lilacs
03 Nice Man
04 Sensations
05 Battling The City
06 Corridors of Power II
07 King Of Kings
08 Laid Fucking Back
09 Moroccan Handjob
10 Midnight Creeper
11 Listener X

The album’s available from mexican summer on LP, CD and mp3.