Thursday 10 December 2020



It’s Cuushe, but not as you’ve ever heard her. In ‘Emergence’, the Tokyo singer-producer is at her most dancefloor ready. The beat shuffles with insectoid intricacies and thumping kicks, the synth looms laid-back and lounging, nocturnal piano drip-drops in with icy gloss.

Cuushe for a long time has been classed dream pop, but the garage-influenced beat and the strength of her mantra-like vocals launch ‘Emergence’ to a darkly effervescent realm of groove — for example, the sleek, solely instrumental outro conjures a futuristic take on the Streets of Rage II soundtrack. What could be dreamier?

  • πŸ”” 'Emergence' is taken from Cuushe's forthcoming new album Waken, out now on flau. Purchase it at the flau bandcamp.

Cuushe Internet Presence ☟

Friday 20 November 2020


Maxwell D — Serious 2020

In 2004, Lethal Bizzle released the hypesome track 'Pow!' — it pops with energy and vocal fire from a who's-who roster of early '00s grime artists. Fast-forward 16 years and we have a modern counterpart in the form of 'Serious 2020'. A fuzzed synth summons the mood of triumphal brass, while a frenzy of restrained beats allow plenty of space for vocal acrobatics.

Assigned to Maxwell D, who first released 'Serious' back in 2001, and whose vocal provides the classic UKG stylings for the hook, this remixed edition features fearsome vocal performances from a roster of fresh feature-spots. Novelist riffs on the "serious" theme — "Dark blue is a serious colour / I got raised by a serious mother / That's why I'm a serious brother" — while Tempa T's finale recalls the unbridled aggression of 'Pow!' with his imagery and vocal tone.

  • πŸ”” This all-star remix of Maxwell D's 'Serious' features on the soundtrack for Against All Odds, a film about the '00s grime scene. Both the OST and film are scheduled for release on 13th November. It's actually the first project for newly launched Motown Records UK.

Maxwell D Internet Presence ☟

Wednesday 11 November 2020


'Monoc' by Japanese digital artist and producer Satoshi Kanno appears like a electronic spectre on a nocturnal city street. Sparse chopped vocal samples merge with flickering percussion, skittering on a bed of bumping kicks and the soft bursts of distortion. Its angular structure feels mechanical, industrial almost, as the track moves into a moody footwork-infused midsection.

The splicing sounds and fusion of elements in 'Monoc' was a result of Kanno's approach to the track.

"I was inspired to compose this piece to reflect on the ways and meanings of communication between all things in our time," he says to yes/no via email. "The noise in the song refers to nature, animals, plants, machines, and humans, and even though each form remains the same, when they overlap each other, they transform into another form."

The track ends up as a "collective form", each element adding to a whole that brings together its fragmented parts to a sonic sum: a reflection of how an individual is ever-transforming, reacting to their situation, the times in which they exist.

Satoshi Kanno Internet Presence ☟
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Scoobert Doobert — Take A Breath

Called an “anti-anxiety” song by its creator, ‘Take A Breath’ by San Diego-based musicmaker Scoobert Doobert positively glistens with calm. Chorused guitars splash in wobbly arpeggios above an easy lope of groovesome bass, all underpinned by drums that crunch without being harsh. A sunny, psychedelic ambience exudes from the soft but lightly crisped sounds at work here.

The track was inspired by “this one time that I had sleep paralysis,” Scoobert Doobert says, and features lyrics that document the fear, and the outlandish imagery (Goku from Dragonball flying around the room, anyone?), that can arise in the strangest moments between sleep and waking. And so 'Take A Breath' feels as down-to-earth in its storytelling as it does existential in aesthetic.

Scoobert Doobert Internet Presence ☟

Wednesday 4 November 2020



There's more meaning behind the title 'Sixth Week' than an arbitrary measurement of time. It actually refers to when UK producer Visco City actually created it: during the sixth week of the country's nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus.

As such, the track bristles with anxiety — tracts of clattering metallic sounds, gnawing and insectoid, appear crushed and crinkled like the sound of a car crumpling sped up a hundredfold. But there are hints of hope here, optimism (or nostalgia for "old times") spelled out by a melody dancing over it all, thick warm plumes of bass enacting a sonic embrace.

The focus, Visco City tells yes/no via email was "to try and highlight the contrast between something anxious and something beautiful." And though shattered lines of chaos spark through 'Sixth Week', in essence it is a lush soundscape of better days, a slice of blue sky beyond the giant clouds.

Visco City Internet Presence ☟



The minimal production of 'Goddess pt. 1' by Swedish artist Shadi G doesn't just serve to create a luxurious atmosphere — it allows the vocals of the musicmaker herself to soar and glimmer unimpeded. A patter of kicks and the abrasive pop of a snare propels the track forward on a blanket backdrop of soft synth chords, a glitter of zithers ornamenting it all; at the forefront, Shadi G's voice itself lilts and meanders with slow, acrobatic ease, vocal reverb like mist casting a dreamlike softness over proceedings.

"I felt I was in a place where the fun and playfulness could take a bigger part," says Shadi G in an email to yes/no.

'Goddess pt. 1' may be at its core a silky R&B number, but it's also a soulful exploration of the singer's Iranian heritage: lines of Farsi curl and spiral into earshot in the finale. "I love the melody of the language, the nature of the language itself is so poetic," she says, explaining that she chose include Farsi into her track because of the importance the language has played in her life.

"I really want Farsi to get a platform to be heard and seen," she adds. "Music isn't just made in English, even though it's the language that's given the most exposure and space by the industry."

Shadi G Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday 29 October 2020


Beginning with an acoustic version of itself, musicmaker Elliot James Mulhern's new track 'How's It Gonna Stop?' asks a simple, very timely question. It's the titular refrain, layered and bouncing in the crunch of its decayed disco drums.

"Looking back on it now I suppose I was actually wondering ‘how *is* it gonna stop?’" Mulhern tells yes/no via email. "This song was a constant dream; I remember during lockdown waking up with it in my head persistently."

Eventually, that persistent creation became a one-take voice memo: "The more I played, the song took on a life of its own, like a chiseled granite statue," he recalls. It was already there: an atmosphere waiting to be captured.

There's a soft nocturnal sound to 'How's It Gonna Stop?' — a sense of fatigue in the low glimmer of the chords, of street-lit tension in the high siphoning strings, of thudding feet on dark tarmac in its clipped bass groove. Mulhern's voice itself flutters among it all; downcast but bright, slow and measured, before skipping up the scale.

The song summons a day lived, a dream dreamt. Or the tired glow you feel walking home from work: happy, but too exhausted to celebrate. Sort of how we'll feel when 2020 is finally over.

"It’s certain none of us knew how bizarre and challenging this year would become," says Mulhern. But he notes a silver lining in the hefty clouds of this annus horribilis, citing how artists are (to some degree) conditioned to work in isolation.

"This was the most extreme version of that," he continues. "And if I’m truly honest, the intense amount of emotional weight on us all drove me to write from an entirely new, rawer vulnerable place."

The video for 'How's It Gonna Stop?' takes Mulhern from the reality of a London phonebox and its surrounding grit, soundtracked by the organic skitter of acoustic guitar, and flings him into a visually disorienting world of rapid cuts and offset angles. Watch it below.

  • πŸ”” 'How's It Gonna Stop?' is taken from Elliot James Mulhern's upcoming album Tiny Correspondence, Dangerous Ideas and Sensitive Affairs. It's due out 20th November on Mulhern's own BlossΓΆm Records. You can pre-order it on Bandcamp.
  • πŸ”” The track was mastered by Frank Arkwright (Coldplay, Elton John, Oasis) at Abbey Road Studios, London. "[I'm] eternally grateful to have ['How's It Gonna Stop?] completed at Abbey Road, minutes from where I was born and raised, whose records had immeasurable impact on my life," Mulhern tells us.

Elliot James Mulhern Internet Presence ☟

Monday 19 October 2020



It's on a backdrop of skittering Geiger ambience, the fuzz and dust of the years made sound and launched burrowing into the air, swarms of Big Bang television static, that Russian producer sth (short for "synthetic sequencing") overlays an otherwise calm, relaxing atmosphere.

There is a panicked feel in 'Finish Crossing' — noticeable in the bio-mechanical micropercussion shredding the air like paper rain, and the gurgling gΓΌiro-esque calling out like unknown nocturnal insects, the arrhythmic deep bass thuds — but there is laid-back lounge cool that exists here, too.

Electric piano chords spread muted gleaming softness into the proceedings, with later melodies inching in from far-off corners, and the clonk and woozy resonance of a vibraphone providing horizontal jazz. sth summons wordless vocals from the noise, adds a few drops of elastic synth and punches in dynamic punctuation (an abrupt one second of quiet at 3:16) to complete this comprehensive study in atmospheric sample-made music.

  • πŸ”” 'Finish Crossing' is one of the tracks taken from sth's album 35mm, the musicmaker's latest release for Russian label Radiant Sound. Recorded between 2018 and 2020, it's dedicated to analogue people living in the digital world. You can download it or stream 35mm on the label's Bandcamp if you like.

sth Internet Presence ☟

Friday 16 October 2020


Cuushe is back. Recently she announced her upcoming album WAKEN via the fresh vitality of its first single, 'Hold Half'. This time around, it's 'Magic' that faces up to the grey piercing light of morning.

A slow steamroller of a beat thuds as the propulsion to 'Magic', rusted metallic percussion ticking faintly at its mechanical heart. A set of heavy-hearted piano chords plays a downcast reverb-laden refrain; "I just wanna die.." Cuushe's voice whispers from this fog of sound. Craggy synths crack in mournful reply, a glistening gloomy call-and-response.

Starting quietly, almost from another perspective, later in the track her vocals rise up, outraged: "Magic... Why are you so silent?" A question perhaps posed to the once-dreaming individual now scrutinised by reality. Lightness eclipsed. This refrain cuts through a wash of intense sounds, synths glittering and roaring together with the clatter of a bright guitar riff — a combination of playful concreteness and fantasy synthetic noise that runs through 'Magic'.

It's all been brought to life with a video by director Tao Tajima. On a backdrop of footage filmed in the wilds of Tibet, it's a tale of ghostly girls tied with string to insistent flapping birds, drawn in their phantomic pastels by sometime Cuushe collaborator Yoko Kuno. The music — mysterious yet methodical in its makeup — matches the stark marching mountains and vast empty tundra.

  • πŸ”” 'Hold Half' is taken from Cuushe's forthcoming new album Waken, set for release 20th November on her label home flau. Pre-order it over on the flau bandcamp.

Cuushe Internet Presence ☟



With its beat echoing in a collage of ticks and booms as if caught in a looping memory, 'Last Time' is a vessel of tender emotion tumbled along by the multifaceted rhythm of time. Sultry chords paint a soundscape with muted synth glow, a picked melody adding a gentle delicacy to the scene.

All the while, percussion rattles, cymbals whisper metallics into the air, a lone, full-bodied snare explodes in the near-distance laden with reverb. Created by Virginia producer Tay NoeL, 'Last Time' is a gleaming marvel of measured, minimal production.

"This song came from a personal experience," the producer tells yes/no via email. "It was inspired from a mutual breakup between me and a girl before I shipped off to the Navy."

A hollow synth melody that calls out every now and then, a hollow, flute-esque R&B-flavoured beacon that stretches out slowly above it all. It's a sound that summons the spiritual aesthetic of old-school lovesongs, but in its descending notes, its hint of a mournful tone, it becomes emotive.

"When I create I need to have an emotion in my mind, either from personal or what I believe the song is trying to show me," he adds.

"In better words, I speak my mind and emotions through my music."

The unpretentious simplicity of 'Last Time' — and indeed many of the instrumental soundtracks to emotion and experience to be found on Tay NoeL's album The Vibez: Chill Instrumentals — calls to mind the vaporwave sensitivity to scenes, times, places, fantasy visions, nostalgia. But there's one presiding difference: this music remains gloriously rooted in and inspired by reality.

  • πŸ”” You can stream and/or download The Vibez: Chill Instrumentals, Tay NoeL's collection of instrumentals, over on Bandcamp.

Tay NoeL Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday 15 October 2020



Written "as a soundtrack to daydreaming," London-based producer Paul Cousins track 'Thoughts in the Ether' is all-encompassing. It toes a balance between warm pianos and gossamer threads of synth that tick with icy intent. It evolves organically, like the moment of pouring a drop of milk into the darkly glimmering black-gold depths of tea, or how smoke curls through the air.

"The scene changes reflect the different thoughts we have as we let our mind wander," Cousins says via email.

The gentle touches of piano, its chords and descending notes, serves as a heartfelt metronome to the shifting sounds. It may be intended as the soundtrack to daydreaming, but the slow piano melody seems to step into a fog of melancholy, a gentle realisation of deeper feelings when the mind steadies itself. The rhythm of the natural world floats past us, insubstantial; conversations, cars, convenience stores drift by; and inside, the slow tick of ourselves.

  • πŸ”” Purchase, stream or otherwise admire 'Thoughts in the Ether' in hypertext stasis over on Bandcamp.
  • πŸ”” There's a film to accompany 'Thoughts in the Ether'. Created by director Edward Harber, it's "an aerial study of the North Sea from Happisburgh in Norfolk, documenting a week in the evolving appearance of the water."

    Cousins adds: "I wanted the video to take place from a floating viewpoint, and to be similar to the phosphenes we might see when closing our eyes for a few minutes."

  • πŸ”” Inspired by Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, the track artwork — following the form of videos on Cousins' Instagram account — was created in collaboration with London-based graphic artist Signalstarr.

Paul Cousins Internet Presence ☟
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Monday 12 October 2020



Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker — perhaps beter known for his label Gifted & Blessed and making house music as GB — has a string of musicmaking aliases. One of these is Frankie Reyes, the name behind the wonderful 'Alma De La Palma' — a fuzzed-out dappling of emotive notes 'n' chords for a sort of supercharged classical-minimalist lounge music.

With its soft and muted textures, the bold stretches of delay further heightening its languorous glimmering feel, the scattering of sweeping notes, 'Alma De La Palma' feels as though you're looking down and something through water. The rippling surface skews the scene; a hint of warped beachside heat, too hot to move, sparkles around the edges.

The notes themselves, a distant disoriented tumble of longing, pull classical music through the portal of time, leaving the wooden depth and angularity of the piano behind and exchanging it for the magic of circuitry. And in the minor chords and descending notes of Frankie Reyes piece, there is something reminiscent of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 aka 'Moonlight Sonata'; a sense of being tethered to something vital that, once close at hand, has moved on and away.

Here we have a sort of contemporary vision of the Beethoven standard. It was called "a nocturnal scene, in which a mournful ghostly voice sounds from the distance" by the composer's student (and composer in his own right) Carl Czerny. While Frankie Reyes' piece may not be "mournful", there is a lamenting feel that shapes it as similar in tone.

Less highly regarded, but no less atmospheric, the Castle Theme from 1990 SNES game Super Mario World — complete with the soft somersaulting of synthesised keys — is something else that 'Alma De La Palma' is aesthetically akin to. The Frankie Reyes track bubbles with this same, now retro, subdued and synthetic sound, and twinned with its classical, if not romantic flair, this is a song that captivates not just with its intoxicated effects, but also with its heartfelt composition.

  • πŸ”” 'Alma De La Palma' is taken from Frankie Reyes' forthcoming album Originalitos, set for release via Stones Throw Records on 23rd October. You can pre-order the album and listen to 'Alma De La Palma' over and over again on Reyes' Bandcamp.

Frankie Reyes Internet Presence ☟
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Fraught with bristling space, 'Permafrost' by URTEis an intergalactic voyage of sound. At its centre, the drifting vessel: rocketship arpeggios, scuttling messages of ping-pong ball synth, resonant feedback emanating in a void of rattling 808 percussion. Either side of this upbeat tumble of angularity and plasma aesthetics, space weighs hefty in 'Permafrost'.

It's reminiscent of the Planet Zebes theme from SNES classic Super Metroid, the sense of a cold abandoned place leaking through its crackles and sparse instrumental elements.

Similarly in URTE's track, tension fizzles as bells glitter, mechanical chords press into earshot, an infinity of grainy sparks and decay, nervous percussion skitters amidst the ominous stomp of a kickdrum, and a sludgy bass bulges against the surface, poised with intent — dramatic sonic parentheses that further draws attention to the colour and kineticism at its core.

  • πŸ”” 'Permafrost' is the title track taken from URTE's Permafrost EP (obviously), arriving via London label Coyote Records. It's available to stream and/or download from Bandcamp.

URTE Internet Presence ☟

Thursday 1 October 2020



The gales of sound in 'S'iscravamentu', conjured up by UK's very own Ligeti Quartet, are deep glowing squalls that dive into the dramatic scenery of Sardinia, its jutting outcrops, jagged coastline, carpets of macchia, ultramarine seas.

Concocted by English composer Christian Mason, the piece recreates the sea shanty-esque registers of Sardinia's own tenores — polyphonic folk singing that, uniquely for Europe, is actually a form of overtone (throat) singing. As such, Ligeti Quartet's treatment of Mason's reworking of this UNESCO-recognised folk music is necessarily rich and variegated.

Thick harmonies hang heavy in the air, and the scratch and staccato of the strings is resolutely tangible, but quieter moments see the instruments become thin, veils of sound lost in their own rapture of unnerving silent howls. The physicality of the instruments — their wood, the strings, the hands that play them — is such that you could imagine literally picking up and handling this music. It's that spirit of solidity that really reflects the resonant, guttural songs at the root of this composition.

  • πŸ”” 'S'Iscravamentu' is taken from Ligeti Quartet's debut album Songbooks, Vol. 1, marking their 10th year of playing as a quartet. It contains two vocal-inspired projects — one following the Sardinian cantu a tenΓ²re tradition, the other Tuvan throat singing — composed for strings by Christian Mason. It also features one song originally by Nunavut singer and composer, Tanya Tagaq.

    Scheduled for release on 9th October via UK label nonclassical, you can pre-order Songbooks, Vol. 1 from Bandcamp now, or peruse the album tracklist below at your leisure.

    Ligeti Quartet — Songbooks, Vol. 1 tracklist
    1. Sai Ma (Racing Horses)
    Tuvan Songbook
    2. Dyngylday (Good-for-nothing)
    3. Eki Attar (The Best Steeds)
    4. Kuda Yry (Wedding Song)
    5. Ezir-Kara (‘Black Eagle’)
    Sardinian Songbook
    6. S'iscravamentu (Deposition of Christ)
    7. Ballate a Ballu Tundu (Dance a Circle Dance)
    8. Satiras (Satire)
    9. Muttos (Motets)
    10. Sivunittinni (The Future Ones) by Tanya Tagaq

Ligeti Quartet Internet Presence ☟
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Christian Mason Internet Presence ☟
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Friday 25 September 2020



With its haunting pitched croons lifted from Alicia Keys' 'No One' effusing from a backdrop of synths bleeding together and time-worn beats, 'You Can Stay Forever' by producer Daniel Bortzreads like a vestige of the past. It moves through forests of flustered elastic acid arpeggios, plumes of vox synth laying a fog over proceedings, while the stuttering echoes of thin, gleaming chords punctuate the song like strobe lights.

The faint syncopation of it all, the crushed indistinct hi-hats, the destructed snares and their harsh reverberation, the lo-fi aesthetic, its juddering dancefloor atmosphere (sticky floors; the floral tangle of beer and perfume) — all of it culminates in an unearthed relic of a track; a cassette plunged into a tape deck that conjures ghosts and memories of a grainy, unremembered time instead of sound.

  • πŸ”” This is taken from the new album by Daniel Bortz, Stay, out 16th October on Permanent Vacation. You can pre-order it on Bandcamp if you like, or memorise the tracklist below for fun.

    Daniel BortzStay tracklist:
    1. Grind
    2. Holding You
    3. How Far Can We Go
    4. South Beach
    5. On A Boat
    6. Smells Like CK One
    7. Stay
    8. Teenage Emotions
    9. Isolation
    10. Together
    11. You Can Stay Forever

Daniel Bortz Internet Presence ☟



Firstly an undulating wash of post-trance sound, the static sea of scathing synths and hiss that marks the start of this track feels panoramic, witch house-tinged, maybe, but less pentagrams, more amorphous futuristic mode of transport. This harsh, nebulous swirl becomes the backdrop for a restless scuttle of garage-tinged beats — the propulsion at the heart of Palmistry's remix treatment for 'Times New Roman' by Shanghai-based Scintii.

Leaving its electrified cosmic cloud behind, the track dives into a glimmering shuffle of percussion and gloopy bass, pitched clangs simultaneously rooting it somewhere physical while also darkly ringing in a metaphysical realm, a club night on another plane of existence.

While Scintii's original 'Times New Roman' sees her voice creep amid a lurching forest of synth, Palmistry's reworking fragments the vocal and scatters it like silly putty throughout, adding human — if warped — warmth to its cold, kinetic vessel. The change tempo towards the end is natural, satisfyingly so, like a train slowing for a station, further emphasising the propulsive power of the track as the track draws to a fizzy, ethereal close.

  • πŸ”” This track is out now via Houndstooth. You can stream it and purchase it as your heart desires from this list of services.
  • πŸ”” The original 'Times New Roman' was the result of a recording session with Danny L. Harle. "The main melody came to me while wandering round a shopping mall," Scintii says of the track "but I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Then I had the session with Danny and it just worked with the beat he was making. It really started to become about me feeling sure of myself as a musician and producer, going in a new direction and really being able to maximise my own voice."

Scintii Internet Presence ☟

Palmistry Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday 24 September 2020



Punching into the ether with the anticipation of discovery, 'Time Flies' by Phoenix, Arizona producer Dekatron is a marvel of midiwave simplicity. The unconventional see-saw between kicks and snares in the robust beat gives it a unique rhythm, something which may have been conscious, a sonic illustration of the sea which is partly the inspiration of the track.

"I imagined ... an old sailing vessel sailing the seas with the ups and downs of the tides, as well as the ups and downs of life and survival in general. I wanted to cast the seriousness against a fun experience for the sailors also anticipating the arrival," Dekatron tells yes/no via email.

With the stripped-back instruments helping to place the soundtracking credentials of 'Time Flies' somewhere in a timeless past, it's the constant marriage of strings and bass with the rhythm of the beat that gives the track its kinetic power, that keeps it jolting, lurching forward like a storm-hit ship. Space is left for dynamic additions and subtractions, while more minimal segments with low, moody strings.

"I put myself in the shoes of the sailors and thought about the adrenaline pumping through them as they are geared up for destiny," Dekatron writes.

With imagination such as this laid bare, it's easy to look through the creative resources at any producer's disposal, and find the roots of adventure sprouting into a tract of sound that extends into branches and boughs, galaxies greater than the sum of its parts.

  • πŸ”” Listen to more of Dekatron's varied oeuvre of music over on his SoundCloud.

Dekatron Internet Presence ☟
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'Again' by producer Edyth begins with resonating drone and distressed aging analogue textures, gleaming with poignancy like a key item suspended, spinning, glowing above an altar at the end of an ancient colonnade (Triforce, anyone? Or maybe when the key drops down with that glimmering sound when you defeat Bowser in Super Mario 64.)

Anyway. This is scene-setting ambience, and it grows more mechanical in its whirring heart, gradually moving into curling waves of static that envelop the atmosphere with intensity; the perception of a physical object, or a feeling, warping in memories over time.

The track effuses vaporwave, not only in its curdled sonic aesthetics, but also in how a pitch-shifted vocal rhythmically trundles into earshot, whispering sharply. Trap-flavoured sub-bass hops from note to note, somersaulting octaves in simple dance-mat steps, the constant tick of a hi-hat like the chain of a drawbridge raising — the portal to another realm.

Elevating vaporwave past its usual tropes and combining it with other contemporary musical traditions, Edyth creates a simple but blissful marriage of background aesthetics — and all the soundtracking potential they bring with them — and the close-at-hand vitality of a beat that roots 'Again' more readily in a real world setting.

  • πŸ”” 'Again' by Edyth is actually taken from an album called Sadie Pop, which was released via netlabel Kalibrplus. You can choose the preferred way you stream or purchase the album by clicking on this link.
  • πŸ”” Speaking about Sadie Pop, Edyth says that it's "meant to be a small but different type of beast from what I usually do," going on to call it "a refining of my production pallette and a gift to those that have enjoyed what I do as a beatmaker" and "a display of my love for the types of music I've loved listening to this past decade: wave, vaportrap, sad boy, cloud, witch house, dub, bass and phonk."

Edyth Internet Presence ☟



Occupying its time of existence with plumes of bass that collapses in on itself with potential, and with a restless energy curled like a cosmic spring that provides the aesthetic casing for the track, 'Silly' by Brighton-based musicmaker HEIGHTS is a tale of willing one thing leading to another, of inching towards what you desire.

While the propulsive kick-snare pattern and misty tick of cymbals keeps impatient time, the voice of HEIGHTS herself skips over the lyrics, the vocal nonchalant, lilting and heady, turning fully acrobatic in the chorus, splitting sentences in graceful slices: "And I want you to take this / lip lock / No shock / I like this kind of vertigo / From time / to time / I see you when my eyes are closed / No low / no lie / Seen a little light now I want to see the full storm."

Washed with an icy haze of ambient synth throughout, summoning a cityscape at night, HEIGHTS builds a story on tantalising lyrics, weaving between cryptic self-enquiry and concrete, relatable imagery. The opening lines paint this interplay with particular skill — "Would you believe I’ve still not made it home? / I still have the city underneath my bones" — and later announcing "Summer inside my soul" before a harmony of realness erupts with the refraining "all I wanna feel is love".

Splicing this poetic deftness and effortless songwriting with a moody instrumental that feels as though a post-night out atmosphere has been bottled up and presented in sonic form, somehow, the other triumph of 'Silly' is how its title belies its brilliance.

  • πŸ”” 'Silly' is taken from HEIGHTS' debut self-released EP, also called HEIGHTS, which you can stream on SoundCloud.

HEIGHTS Internet Presence ☟

Wednesday 23 September 2020



'Slicer' by Japanese duo atrem — comprising Ryuichi Shima and Yusuke Kamimura — is a multifaceted being of a track. It all begins with the tricking of looped electronics, glistening drops of glitch, a tour of circuit boards and the shifting complexities of sound.

Streams of harmonised vocals flow into the mix. If you've ever played PS2 RPG EverGrace (2000), the way voices in 'Slicer' are so drastically instrumentalised may remind you of Kota Hoshino's surreal and vocal-heavy soundtrack for that game.

Before long, 'Slicer' shifts into gear. A crescendo of sound, bubbles and crashes into view, drowning out the voices. HEALTH-esque distorted synths swirl and slice through the bristling hyperactive breakcore beats that propel the track into its final section, where wordless vocals soothe the disjointed disquiet that came before.

A showcase of how this atrem can be as intricate as they can be aggressive, as blissed out and chill as they are dedicated to fully fledged noise, in 'Slicer' the duo have made a veritable journey of a track, a tale of kinetic movement, of graceful poise and letting loose.

  • πŸ”” Check out the dramatic 'Slicer' as well as many more morsels of music on atrem's SoundCloud.

atrem Internet Presence ☟



What begins as a dark take on the Hazy Maze Cave theme from Super Mario 64 — which certainly had its own set of subterranean-flavoured rapid-fire drums — soon proves itself to be much more than a tumble of pugilistic percussion. In fact, this is more like the rave going on in the level's underground lake that Mario must have missed.

Any imagined similarities aside, 'Dancing On Ruins' is a frenzied beast of its own. Syncopated snares crack, punching their own time over a cavalcade of kicks, glossy razor cymbals splashing a liquid sharpness to the thud and gravel of the track. A bass wanders in, wooden and clackety.

It's around the halfway mark that UK producer Galtier seems to have summoned whatever was sleeping beneath the ruins themselves, plasma synths oozing their miasma onto the scene, ever more agitated robust sounds diving bombing the air like a swarm of steam-powered bees.

'Dancing On Ruins' is the sound of whirling over giant boulders and half-standing buildings, unearthing ancient technology and long-buried treasures. Its simplicity, space between sounds, and textures make for a terrifying storm of drama and dance.

Galtier Internet Presence ☟

Tuesday 22 September 2020



In a scramble of beats, a festival of lights, Tokyo-based musicmaker Cuushe introduces her new album, Waken. Drums and synth explode triumphal in 'Hold Half', a twisting number that balances its way between these sonic fireworks of crashing cymbals and sun bursting over the horizon brilliance, and quieter moments of pinging icicle guitars and soft watercolours of sound, an early hours out of body experience.

It's all brought to life with a sudden alarm clock saw wave buzz, the moment of awakening. Cuushe's vocals drop in, slow, vital, trance-like, somewhat obscured by the same whispering ambience that has always made her voice unique. Less faraway and somnolent than on previous releases, Cuushe's voice this time cuts through the music like wings through cloud.

And there is this sense of flight in 'Hold Half', at least that of floating, being airborne. Looking down on all that's come before, Cuushe joins her track as it heads towards the cold pastels of dawn.

  • πŸ”” 'Hold Half' is taken from Cuushe's forthcoming new album Waken, set for release 20th November on her label home flau. Pre-order it over on the flau bandcamp.

Cuushe Internet Presence ☟

Wednesday 2 September 2020



The slow rhythm of the soft chords in 'Goodbye Forever' by LA producer-slash-collective sakehands — aka Aris Maggiani — rolls in like laves lapping the gentle incline of a beach. More musical, obviously, but just as textured. And there's a detachment to it, a distance, like seeing this scene through an antique diving helmet, or witnessing it from the POV of a fish in a tank. The space between sounds leaves room for the track to impact and linger.

With the melted vocals of regular collaborator Lo poured all over it, this electronic ebb and flow transforms into a crashing on the rocks, the crunch and splinter of a hull (a heart) as a vocodered "Goodbye..." fanfares to the song's finale, the wreck of a ship jostling in the sunset-fired wash of water.

Melodic keys spin a lighter mood on proceedings, giving this track the wisdom and beauty of hindsight as opposed to the pain, the insta-heartbreak of the very moment of farewell. As Wordsworth wrote: "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility" — a message no less relevant now than it was when this track first appeared.

πŸ“  ☟ sakehands Internet Presence ☟

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Friday 14 August 2020



"Been a long week, had enough of this": Nigerian-American rapper Fat Tony's opening lines to Brooklyn producer and DJ Haruka Salt's smooth house odyssey 'Pinch 'N Itch' couldn't be more relatable. Fired along glossy plums of bass and a drum machine collage of beats, the feeling of the instrumental is one of elation, freedom — something Fat Tony didn't miss: "'Bout time that I scratch the itch / 'bout time that I left and I hit the road."

"I was feeling so free to express myself and exploring vintage synths at [indie disco & house record label from Brooklyn] Toucan Sounds’ YouTooCanWoo studio to find unique sounds to go with my mood," Haruka tells yes/no via email. "It was like hunting [for] treasure through all the vintage synths and being on the creative journey with those sounds/treasures I found on the way."

It's hard not pick up on that. Glassy keys craft a cool, lounge atmosphere; spiralling sounds soar upwards in a crescendo of energy; soft horn sounds swirl left and right; high strings cut a nocturnal flavour. There's an excitement to her music that Haruka can attribute, at least in part, to Brookyln itself. "I have never gotten tired of it," she says. "[It] definitely impacts my creative ideas and flows."

For Fat Tony, who counts the Houston scene as a huge influence on his style, his contribution was a chance to let off steam. "I was having a stressful ass week!" he tells yes/no. "The walk over to Toucan Sounds’ studio, was peaceful. It gave me time to cool off and reflect. The lyrics came naturally."

His vocal, laid-back but coiled with elastic energy, provides the perfect companion to Haruka's ever-changing beast of sound. 'Pinch 'N Itch' is a journey, an exploration of sound twinned with emotion expressed on reflection — a snappy, dynamic response to stress as much as to vintage synths.

Haruka Salt Internet Presence ☟

Fat Tony Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday 13 August 2020



George Clanton's collaboration with Nick Hexum of rock band 311George Clanton & Nick Hexum — may not be something you instantly understand. A proponent of internet friendly vaporwave et cetera isn't the likely team-mate for the co-frontman of a band whose music represents, at least early on, that shredded splice of '90s proto-numetal and grunge we all know and love. And that is the point: Clanton is a big fan, so the real question isn't "why" but more simply, "why not?"

"This album is a collab no one asked for or predicted," Clanton says in a press release. "Nick has never pandered to a mainstream audience with his work in 311, they've always done their own thing and built their own culture around the music they wanted to make.

"I believe in that, and I've been doing my own thing for 10 years now."

Simply put, there's logic here. The logic of fandom and respect between artists that goes way beyond aesthetic tastes in genres, in stylistic direction. Calling it a "stoney side project" Hexum says in the same press release that it's "been a lot of fun to work in a new genre." Fun is the chief idea here, rather than a collobration that looks great on paper.

Happy with the "unique" project that's based purely on the music, Clanton makes it clear that neither he nor Hexum needed to do the collaboration. "I've never done one of those buzzy collabs with a hot artist in my own sphere just to get more plays," he says, adding, "There should be more records like this."

'Aurora Summer' is just one of the collection of tracks from George Clanton & Nick Hexum. Woozy Earthbound-flavoured synths waft in like the essence of some fantasy adventure or coming-of-age idea, cooked up in stew form, simmering somewhere way back in recent eons past. Hexum's guitars cut in simple melodies, adding sour to the earthy tones of Clanton's concoction; the former's vocals — distinct in tone, lilting and elastic — float fittingly in the scene.

The track summons laid-back living, warm weather, comfort, grass, sand, blue skies, clouds in small herds spiralling through the sky like the disappearing froth on a cappucino, hot pavements, beach bars, warped air distorting the space above the street. Nothing weird about this collaboration — just a concentrated cocktail of doing what feels right.

George Clanton Internet Presence ☟
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Nick Hexum Internet Presence ☟

Saturday 8 August 2020



When something sounds like a certain genre, but its visual style doesn't match up to said genre, the question of what it is — especially when the music doesn't seem to ascribe to any particular genre or style at all — becomes an enquiry that is lost in the ether. And that's where the music of Acquanetta M. Sproule comes in.

Feeling somewhat like the aural equivalent of outsider art, the unapologetically unpolished tracks created by this producer speak distantly of dungeon synth. Yet with no fantasty-daubed artwork to denote it as such, one can only wonder what it is. Nevertheless, with its midiwave vibe and simplistic composition, there is no question of its mood-summoning powers.

The imaginative, no-holds-barred eschewing of anything particularly traditional or trend-led helps make 'Midnight Version Sympathetic Agony' — and much of Acquanetta M. Sproule's oeuvre — refreshingly unexpected. And yet it has this world-painting drive behind it, the midi aesthetic calling to mind Hiroki Kikuta's soundtrack for Secret of Mana, particularly this track, with bass elements that feel close to the Cosmo Canyon theme in Final Fantasy VII.

And akin to such scene-setting videogame music, 'Midnight Version Sympathetic Agony' sets a mood. Its bass, percussive and propulsive, creeps and sneaks as if through shadows, while a glittery, somersaulting refrain roots this music somewhere fantastical, with hollow, airy sounds decisively tipping the track into a hidden realm of caves and curiosity.

  • πŸ”” Listen to more of Acquanetta M. Sproule's unique musical vignettes on their SoundCloud.

Acquanetta M. Sproule Internet Presence ☟