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.

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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

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.

TiredEyes – Constellations [Review]

I Used To Be, Chris Stolz’s second album under the TiredEyes monicker, was one of my favourite and most played records of last year. Its jazzy beats and laid back feel made for fantastic summer listening with some infectious melodies that really stuck. Dusty analogue vibes, warm production and an unhurried pace set a bar that any musician would be hardpressed to top. And so, just over one year on, Constellations arrives in time for the last month or two of warm weather (here in the UK anyway).

Where I Used To Be arrived with a shot of energy on title track I Used To Be, Constellations takes a subtler route and opts to build slowly with the smokey Cosmic Echoes. It’s lazy, considered, and thoroughly cinematic. And this is what sets Constellations apart from debut There in the Shade and last years I Used To Be. It’s that experience from three albums under one project. A confidence and swagger that can only become apparent after the foundations have been laid and then tested.

Tracks build, vocal samples tease, beats reverberate; crackles, hissing and pops layer onto a wide selection of instruments. It’s a pleasure to listen to and if stuck with, will reveal a surprising level of detail that a quick listen might mask. The latter half of the album really shines with tracks like Nylon Trees and Stay Inside being stunning examples of what Stolz can do, the latter containing a great sample from Peggy Lees Johnny Guitar. It’s moody, sweeping and cinematic.

So how does Constellations stack up to I Used To Be? It effectively continues right where its predecessor left off, in fact it wouldn’t sound out of place if it were a side two – just a slower and more confident side two. That’s not to it’s detriment though, Constellations is still a superb record through and through and familiarity is as much as a good thing as a bad thing. Change for changes sake is not always a good thing and this is a perfect example when you’ve hit a great formula not to mess with it too much. As above, what is there however is a far more polished experience; further refined, cinematic and confident. Stolz’s beats sound just as organic, his sampling tighter and the details finer. This is what makes TiredEyes stand out from a large number of the other beatmakers at the moment, fine detailing. It’s exciting to put a pair of headphones and come out so rewarded and Constellations does not disappoint.

Constellations is available for download from TiredEyes bandcamp page for $10 (USD)

Tracklisting is as follows,

  1. Blast Off   (00:51)
  2. Cosmic Echoes   (03:26)
  3. Orbital   (03:10)
  4. Golden   (02:09)
  5. Pain   (03:01)
  6. Imagery   (01:48)
  7. Maydrum   (01:53)
  8. Move Like This   (02:41)
  9. Run Free   (02:32)
  10. Such A Sky   (01:36)
  11. Lean Back   (02:27)
  12. Sit By The Door   (02:56)
  13. Empty Chamber   (01:15)
  14. We’re Not Home   (01:49)
  15. Mellow Breeze   (02:08)
  16. Space Bass   (03:53)
  17. Nylon Trees   (02:51)
  18. Stay Inside   (03:31)
  19. Obedient Workers   (01:54)

Grails need our help!

I wouldn’t usually post a call to arms (wallets) like this but Grails are in desperate need of the fans help this week, and being one of my favourite bands this is the least we can do. To summarise the situation, a hard-drive containing “1000s of hours of work for all 3 bands we produce, not all Grails, but it immediately impacts Black Tar [prophecies] 5, half of the next Lilacs & Champagne record is on there and probably towards 3 HolySons records…” has died and the band are planning to send it to Drive Savers in order to, hopefully, rescue the contents!

So how can we help I hear you ask? Well Grails need to raise around $2400 by Wednesday to ease the cost of saving this music. They are offering three options in order to help on their mailorder store. click HERE! to go and start saving the future of music. There are three options;

number one – an open donation which can be any amount.

number two, for $15 – five unreleased live tracks. These are culled from the best live moments that we could find in the archives from the early days..

Burden of Hope, Paris 2006
Back To The Monastery, Boston 2006
Word Made Flesh, Amsterdam 2006
The March, Paris 2004
Dargai, Geneva 2006

Grails will reply with a link to download within 24 hrs.

and finally, number three, for $30 – Your choice of the LP’s they have in stock: Burden of Hope, Redlight, Important Records 300th release compilation, or Lilacs & Champagne.

Personally I went with number two, the unreleased live tracks.

It’s worth mentioning the Lilacs & Champagne album that was released earlier this month was outstanding and the follow up is hanging in the balance right now, so if like me you care about Grails future music please consider helping them out!

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.

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.