Wednesday 30 May 2018


Just about two minutes of blissful-abrasive noise, of arching plumes of synth that seem to wash across your mind like clouds careening across a curdled sky; thinner more modulated chords raising the tone, raising the mood just slightly, but with thinner tracts of sound spelling out some sort of indefinite threat, and scratchy nanobot insectoid chirrupings like malicious electronic signals. Yes, this is ominously titled 'Red Door' by Johnny Jewel, a maelstrom of seemingly innocuousness, like the beautiful azure tide of the sea receding as it laps a beach to reveal a carpet of shattered bones; a paradise lost, bountiful beauty at crippling cost.

Of course, Johnny Jewel has had a hand in the soundtracking of much anticipated Twin Peaks: The Return (albeit with Chromatics in one of its episode's musical endings) so it may explain the dual-minded mood of 'Red Curtain' - as well as its name - so much of the Twin Peaks atmosphere is an uncomfortably close juxtaposition of terror and humour, safety and danger, and thus this track soothes but it also scathes somewhat—it is a comfortable haunting.

"I was about a year deep into recording what would become Windswept when I heard that David [Lynch] was making Season 3 [of Twin Peaks]," he explained. "It's been a year since Chromatics performed at the Roadhouse. With disintegrated memory through the haze of television snow, I wanted to share a glimpse behind the red curtain." And here it is captured: the eternity and mortality in those anxious pre-show moments, the mystery of backstage ritual.

  • πŸ”” The haunting/comforting 'Red Curtain' is taken from new Johnny Jewel album, Themes for Television. Released back in late May, the project began "as a sonic exploration of the sounds I was hearing in my nightmares," said Jewel in a press release. "I wanted to find my way out of the maze by focusing on beauty over fear — like the way the fractured sunrise looks in a dream."

    You can grab it on vinyl

  • πŸ”” The atmospherically relevant video for 'Red Door' was directed by Radka Leitmeritz; with its slow-motion and lingering fades, its enigmatic steely-eyed star Czech model Eva Klimkova and the monochrome-except-for-red colour scheme, it's a spiritual cousin to the track itself.

Johnny Jewel Internet Presence ☟

Monday 21 May 2018


You know that feeling when the sun is too bright, and it's too hot, and humid, and the brightness of the sun is so much that you can basically feel the UV toasting your skin, and you can smell the heat. That piercing abrasive sunlight feels like the sounds in 'Memory Arc', created by English musicmaker Rival Consoles; primarily this is a heavenly harp sound that is degraded and decayed, the scorch of retinas as humans look upon gods, the curse of theophany. Like a molten zither it plays—or like inverse steel pans for an inverted paradise.

Because there is that flipside to tropical beauty and to the beauty of nature in general, and that is in the danger of it, the undesirable and uncontrollable; survival at nature's mercy. The sweltering heat, dehydration, poison and venom, infection, insects. It feels as if the lower tones of Rival Console's monolithic track provide the looming menace, of something primeval and earth-shaking, whilst the scorching sweeps of melody above paint a picture of the parched sun.

And so there is this sense of wonder, but at no time does it feel triumphant, or chilled. The feelings here, in the drawn-out nature of it, the abrasiveness, the actual progression of the notes, the feelings are of anxiety at its root, the basest worries in the midst of a world a million times bigger than ourselves; a concept that is reminiscent of a similar one in The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard, where global warming has taken our minds back to a world of prehistory. With these sweeping threats and glittering terrors, 'Memory Arc' may represent our most primordial collective recollections.

  • πŸ”” The looming 'Memory Arc' is taken from Rival Consoles' new album Persona, released back in April on Erased Tapes.

Rival Consoles Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday 17 May 2018


This collage of sound comes from musicmaking veteran Jon Hassell, a collection of almost random knockings and thudding perucussion, striking bright piano feeling chords and twinklings, insectoid and creeping and with satisfactory edits to almost be venturing into the zippy world of breakcore. Tumbling soft chimes and bassy bell synths roly-poly throughout, helping with that sense of speed and motion. Background noise comes and goes, fizzing and whooshing as new and sharper chimes set in, this time real, organic, and which (sort of) give the track its title: 'Pastorale Vassant' (meaning 'Hillside Pastoral' in Catalan)—How though?

"I was staying in Deya, on the island of Mallorca," explains Hassell in the track's description on SoundCloud, "where flocks of goats roamed in the hills at night, each one with a slightly different neck bell. One balmy Summer midnight I stayed awake to record this floating, constantly-changing "gamelan" that enters in the distant background halfway into the piece."

You can hear in the track that nocturnal sound, the feel of mild still-awake night terrors, the what's-out-there wonder of the dark, and then the homely but lonely sound of these goats' bells, by themselves yet together, no other human around. All the other flighty noises of the night, the harsh abrasions of the ambient sound of the air like the esoteric recordings of a cryptozoologist, but above all the constant flutter of a mind churning and churning... And then: that blissful chord at the end, disparate to everything else that has come before, chimes into earshot rich and radiant, a dream of digital dimensions as the organic gives way to the synthetic, and sounding beautifully similar to the PS2 startup sound by Takafumi Fujisawa—that same full emptiness, empty fullness.

  • πŸ””
  • πŸ”” 'Pastorale Vassant' is the second track to be taken from Jon Hassell's upcoming album Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One), following the urgent, relentless glitter of 'Dreaming'. You may pre-order it on Bandcamp ahead of its 8th June release on Ndeya Records, Hassell's own newly launched label.

Jon Hassell Internet Presence ☟
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Wednesday 16 May 2018


With its variegated textures, from trickling percussion to wibbly synth like otherworldly spirit voices, and a sense of space that borders on threatening – like, you can almost imagine things lurking in the heavy electrically charged spaces between sounds of the track – this track is awash with mystery and delicacy, like some luxury item hidden in the depths of a forest, or like approaching a neglected shrine overgrown with creepers and leaves. LEESH, a musicmaker from Arizona, has succeeded in creating a vital soundscape, one that pulses at all times with power as much as intrigue, a mystical natural landscape conjured using a big imagination combined with a pristine collection of synthetic sounds.

"This track was definitely a huge experiment for me," LEESH told us via email. "I wanted the track to feel familiar, but disorienting and kind of uncomfortable at the same time. Mostly the inspiration came from trying to do something that nobody has heard before."

Between soft subby kicks, like the faraway footsteps of a giant beast, and woodblock hits like trees being tapped, skittering percussion – hi-hats, like unknown flitting creatures and a spooky arpeggio make this track feel alive; the feeling of being lost in strange woods. And by the end, the cyclical nature of the track stops, the unexpected journey is almost over as warm chords play abrasively: the sight of the bright sun again as you stumble into familiar territory, leaving the bristling trees and the forest spirits to their business.

LEESH Internet Presence ☟
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The name of the game here is hazy. It's also cloudy, misty, nebulous—it's all of those things. That insubstantial foggy-headed feeling, sun glinting in your eyes, all created by gorgeous washes of sound that swish and sway with lo-fi abrasions like some sort of dust storm just so that they graze your mind ever so slightly, so that all that loveliness can pour in, you know. It's called 'Expensive Flights' and it toes the line somewhere in the heavenly kingdom between chillwave and dream pop, a delicious combo of live drums and bass and guitar and synth in a soothing symphony of sound created by the Charlottesville-based Inning.

Like dream pop, it feels alive yet somewhere else, voices soaring in the sky, and the drums thump and rattle with a doofing pulse and scritch-scratch metallics – yet in a pattern that summons something more electronic-based, a slow house sorta pace; but though a 'real' instrument, the bass guitar coarse and grinding in low-slung indie-band fashion, it is founded on this sub-bass frequency that has that quality of being able to erase everything going on around you. And at a heavenly crescendo the guitar arpeggiates like glitter, like light, soft synth chords ever-present, everything slots into place as the vocals refrain enigmatic: "Are the things that I like me for the reasons I like you, or are things that I like you for the reasons I like me?" Self-doubt broiling beneath a calm exterior; a vocal that with its reverb and light decay feels faraway, like a vague worry.

This is a late afternoon sound, a montage of the day's move into night, with that beatless and wordless outro, cool and blissful, hitting just as the sun fades and dusk sets in, inky and purple, a watercolour in sound of the feeling that comes at the end of a good day with its effusion of doubt and its memories, when the passing of time is most visible and poignant in a dramatic colour-changing sky. And besides, Inning sang it at the start of the track:""Yeah I like you, but right now things aren't right." A breeze picks up, and your summer clothes feel suddenly inadequate.

  • πŸ”” 'Expensive Flights' is taken from Inning's recently released D.C. Party Machine EP, a 5-track exposition of thick body-wobbling low-end frequencies and hazy-headed washes of sound in patterns that evoke vague emotions amidst of chillment. You can listen to/download it on Bandcamp if that sounds like your thing.

Inning Internet Presence ☟

Tuesday 15 May 2018


It's musicmaker extraordinaire Eugene Cam with gis uncompromising, unapologetic fusion of beats and videogame aesthetics. This time around we're at the starting gate, stumbling in a pre-World 1-1 soundscape, a tottering, unstable feel thanks mainly to the producer's ability to put minutely arrhythmic patterns together in an easy-to-catch swaying flow. The kicks thud-thump richly deep, sub-bass bouncing warmly beneath it all, snares crack and hi-hats and other zippy janglings tap-crackle circuitboardly. The beat scuttles along, skittering and pounding, weighted but giving this impression, between each percussive pop, of weightlessness and wall-jumps.

Stars of the show are those synth chords: partially lost to the void and colourful yet abrasive, they provide the perfect scratchy high-end antidote to the lower frequencies in 'Grain'—as does the marimba: gleaming clonking sounds that play mystic melodies, the untitled mystery of what may or may not lie ahead. These arrive whilst the track is calm, there are even people talking in the background; and as the difficulty curve begins to show itself, as the challenge presents itself, the beat grows intense, overdriven, synth wheels over sirenlike.

And the brash boom of the track dies down to its previous intensity, night noises help portray the passing of time, or rather these insectoid whirrings signify just one of a few different areas to a 'hub world' (which is what this track is tagged as). You realise that there is no immediate danger, no actual peril going on here: it's setting the scene for something larger, each differing level of intensity in sound, beat alteration, addition or subtraction of an element, each one could be the basis for a whole tangential level theme. And in that way, 'Grain' sparks imagination, encourages you to fill in the blanks that it itself has created.

  • πŸ”” Like this? Well then you literally must check out Eugene Cam's BOOLIN EP from earlier this year. Released on SoundCloud-label Mekaplex it's a pure crossover of trappy beats and videogames with a scrappy spirit and a world-building aesthetic at heart. You gotta check it out. We particularly liked 'The Gate'.
  • πŸ”” Oh and in case you didn't know: Eugene Cam made this LIVE on Twitch. V impressive!

Eugene Cam Internet Presence ☟

Wednesday 9 May 2018


Taking off into a world of ceaseless leisure, whimsical hope, the hefty air of summer and free time finding its way into our hearts, this is the wonderful 'Time Today' by the trio that is Kero Kero Bonito. Usually and perhaps more well known for their bilingual Anglo-Japanese playground-rhyme-raps and polished analogue collages of electronic sound, 'Time Today' is a bouncy bopper of a track, with all the airiness, kinetic journeymaking rhythm, and tomorrow-never-comes sweet stoicism that'd make for a good ending theme for a slice of life (or other genre of) anime. The outward appearing of the track says as much, but so do the lyrics, cradling ambition in simple lines like opener, "I got so much time today / I got hopes and dreams and plans all yet to be made" and "But I don't / Even know / Where I should be trying to go / So I guess I'll follow my nose." All honest, all relatable.

It bears a resemblance to Shibuya-kei, the Japanese genre defined by its mix of styles, and yep it's all here: the lounge atmosphere, the electronic keyboard sounds, the jazz chord progressions, the busy upbeat tempo. Those gently unexpected progressions – founded on lovely warm bass, which really complement the cosy, comfy texture of the organ-ish chords – make it colourful and full of feeling, whilst typically KKB musical asides like chiming little melodies, sun-glinting sparkles, whoopy instrumental warbles, and drum machine fills decorate it with engaging nuance and keep things fun.

It is also brief—not too brief, but the sort of brief that mirrors how the song feels and what it says: that time, especially when everything feels right, seems to stretch on and on ahead of you – that "I got so much time today" refrain right? – but before you know it you're thinking, where's it all gone? With its lyrical references to day and night, dawn and sunset, you can see that it's a hopeful start-of-the-day song for the end of the day, a late afternoon reflection for tomorrow's bright morning.

  • πŸ”” This lovely song is taken from the upcoming NEW Kero Kero Bonito album Time 'n' Place, which is coming soon. That's all we know.
  • πŸ”” KKB also took part in YES/NO's Lazy Interview series all the way back in 2014. Have a lil' read if you feel like it~

Kero Kero Bonito Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday 3 May 2018


The slow and breezy original 'Secret of the Forest' is a track taken from SNES game Chrono Trigger, playing in Guardia Forest; it conjures the freshness of nature and its greenery, the dappled light and leaf shadows faintly swaying on the ground mirrored in the glistening arpeggio that chimes throughout, spreading at the same time with its ambivalent pattern of notes a veil of mystery; the piano midway is steady with jazz flavour, reflecting a sort of laid-back tranquillity that goes with chilled nature; there's wheeling high-pitched melody with lingering glissando that feels like birds swooping and singing. It's almost spiritual.

But there's this deep fragmented bass and a semblance of percussion that gives it this poised edge, like something's about to kick in—the dense forest as not only chilled hideaway for humans, but a place of vague looming danger, too. And that's where Leon comes in. Increasing the tempo of the track, this musicmaker introduces a robust boom-bap flavoured beat to the gleaming soundscape, picking out the distinct but sparse groove of the bassline and carving into something full-bodied with thudding kicks and abrasive snares; turntablist edits pockmark the new jogging-paced 'Secret of the Forest' for extra texture, the swing-beat breeziness matching the irresolute magic of the glittering florafauna conjured in the instrumental.

  • πŸ”” Little thing: the description for Leon's edit simply reads: items: strength capsule (2), shelter — Nice inventory~
  • πŸ”” The creator of the Chrono Trigger soundtrack, Yasunori Mitsuda, got the job after he told then-Square vice president Hironobu Sakaguchi that he would quit if he couldn't compose (he had worked on sound design for previous titles such as Final Fantasy V and Secret of Mana). Sakaguchi agreed, and Mitsuda ended up composing all 54 tracks for the Chrono Trigger OST, working so hard on it that he gave himself stomach ulcers.
  • πŸ”” For a masterpiece from Leon you should check out his album bird world, made especially for a game that had been imagined but never made; and it makes you think of that uncreated game and how it would be to play it. Listen to that splendidly fun soundtrack over on Leon's SoundCloud.

Leon Internet Presence ☟

Wednesday 2 May 2018


You know in Super Smash Bros. how Kirby's Down Special Move turns him into some heavy object, like a spiked ball, 100-ton weight, a stone, a Thwomp, or a block of trash? Well this track is sort of like that. (If we assume that Kirby in his regular form is soft, then it works). 'Pompous' by the LA-based newcomer Petticoat is squishy, taffy-esque, pastel-coloured and popping with pizzazz, but then there is this constant, stony pugilism in the beat and the rolling modulated synth blasts that gives it a hard but sugary coating.

Kicks thump with a balance between gloopy and thudding, cementing the rhythm of the track and sending it up like karst landforms for a dramatic soundscape that juts out and jostles with jungle greenery; dreamy gleaming chimes chase each other in spears of glistening metallic dust—another similarity to the sparkly world of Kirby. And now piano chords clonk and clank polyrhythmic in the gorgeous goo of 'Pompous', pitched vocals squall heavenly in triumph at the terraforming foundation of it all. Durable, colourful, serious, soft, fantastical: get lost for a moment in the lovely world that Petticoat's created with his music.

  • πŸ”” This is literally Petticoat's first original track so keep your ears peeled to his SoundCloud and follow him and stuff if you want to hear more.

Petticoat Internet Presence ☟

Tuesday 1 May 2018


This is the tightrope walk between nostalgia and a sort of despairing doom, the warmth of uncovering objects entangled with happy feelings yet in the miasmic embrace of the baleful knowledge that it is but a fleeting glimpse into the past; this is 'The Stars, Like Dust' by UK musicmaker Curxes, where the synths skew and fizz with something memorial, the beat – dusty, sharp, abrasive – ticks and stutters with mechanical stamina, where the bass bulges in ominous waves.

Formerly a trio, the now solo Curxes (aka real human Roberta Fidora) herself spoke to us via email to explain the track, which she admitted she wanted to sound "somewhere between ocean and space organ waves." And there is that sense of organic vs. synthetic broiling in the almost living-and-breathing irregularity with how the synths dip and peak minutely but remain zingy and metallic.

The lyrics are desperately alive, calling from this pocket of bright, submerged flavours, this whirling and swirling of sound—the words feel like they've arrived via signals that are lightyears away, rebounding and crackly, crooning with nonchalant distress about "an age of infinite dread."

"The lyrics were written at a period when I felt that the entire country was going through a transitional phase and not for the better, fuelled by misplaced nostalgia," explains Fidora. "I think many of us have our own nostalgia to deal with, but generally it isn't anything that has the ability to distort or disrupt people's lives." And so 'The Stars, Like Dust' is a cocktail of that childhood yearning for the stars and that deathly, adult fear of what we might find there; the reluctant progression of vast swathes of humanity.

  • πŸ”” Curxes tells us a bit more about the creation of the eccentrically British visuals for 'The Stars, Like Dust' - complete with triangle sandwiches, a chihuahua, and reclusive behaviour.

    "I worked with portrait photographer and 50s sci-fi enthusiast Rob Luckins to make a video based on our collective love of space travel, which seems to be undergoing a resurgence, maybe because it gives people the hope that they can escape the things to which they don't belong."

  • πŸ”” This song is taken from the 2017 Curxes album Gilded Cage.

  • πŸ”” You may stream and purchase 'The Stars, Like Dust' via Bandcamp.

Curxes Internet Presence ☟
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