Monday 29 June 2020



The ambience of a city — the apartment blocks with glowing windows, the brake lights flashing in the rain, the parades of people on the pavement, umbrellas, dog-walkers, stairs down to metro stations, neon eateries — is at the heart of the imagery conjured by 'Underground' by Boston-based indigos paradise.

On a blurred, watery backdrop acting as a melodic palette where all the fatigue that glittering city life can have is mixed, the producer adds snappy handclaps and sharp hi-hats for the the inescapable regularity of it all: the rectangular buildings, the traffic lights, the endless grids.

"How I see my hometown, with big buildings through the skyline, brings out different visuals and imagery I put towards my music," says indigos paradise via email. "Let's say that you are walking down a path, and it's good warm day to go for a walk. You hear this elegant track when you click to the play that gathers the whole surroundings around you. The wind starts breezing through your scalp and goes down to your neck while hearing it.

"I kinda picture my music as the 22nd century."

Adding to the beat and the all-encompassing shades of the synth whirling like a deluge, staccato synths hop smartly throughout for a bustling atmosphere, as if, now that you have the city, here is the life — the people — to jostle around it, here are their silhouettes and footsteps. Nocturnal and doused with faded uptown glamour, 'Underground' is the malls and walkways of yesteryear, still just half-empty with promise.

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Wednesday 24 June 2020



Taken from his SONDER EP, Broken Kid Club's 'Lightbeam' is the softness of life entangled with its harsher parts. The stress of skittering percussion, hyperventilating synth, cracking synth, far-off gunshots, yes — but also the mellow of a clouded sunrise in tracts of modulated synth, calming vox rising up like a forcefield. Then, abruptly, the circuitry changes again.

Mexico City-based producer Broken Kid Club credits the intense-yet-beautiful sounds on their track 'Lightbeam' to a careful balance of tension and mellowed sounds. The track, they explain, represents his own musical journey — that of going from a "pop songwriter" to creating more complex music like this, enlisting the help of fellow musician, LA-based Sqwd, to execute it.

"I envisioned a lot of aquatic animals alongside different, colourful textures," Broken Kid Club says via email, speaking about the imagery behind the track that also went on to inform the EP's artwork.

Otherwise minimal and almost oppressive with its sense of space, 'Lightbeam' is noisy and pugilistic, shot through with glimmers of human joy and relief, a melding of machine and mind. "I believe living one of the world's most surreal cities has definitely impacted my production style," they say.

"It's impossible to see what one sees every day in my hometown and stay inside the box."

Broken Kid Club Internet Presence ☟

Monday 22 June 2020


Taking as the theme for this track as leaving behind his view of life and death, 'Memento' by composer and producer Akiyoshi Yasuda (aka STARGUiTAR) is an existential whirlwind. Harsh gales of ambient waves rush forth, speckled with the static of distortion and decay, a vague hope spun in the rising, gleaming resonance that lies at the heart of it all.

"In 'Memento' I'm trying to capture the scales, melodies, rhythms, verses, emotions, ups and downs... you can strip away all that stuff that music should have, and you can make it work," Yasuda tells yes/no via email.

"I'm composing to express the sound as if it were swimming freely."

Free of constraints, 'Memento' (taking its name from the Latin expression memento mori, a symbolic expression or reminder of death) erupts as if from a spring, but also falls into an empty sky like mist; it is dynamic, shifting through different textures — sharp, soft, glittering, whispering — and yet it is still; it feels as though it could be sunk in depression, but at the same time optimistic and upward-looking as if glimpsing a sunrise; preparing for sleep, seizing the day.

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Saturday 20 June 2020



There is a sense of epic landscape swathed in peals of feeling in Australian artist Slow State's 'The Silence We Create' — but it's not something necessarily present from the beginning of the track. Instead, this intertwined emotive, environmental atmosphere comes into gradual focus, beginning with textures jostling with one another, unsure of themselves, hesitant almost, crackling with ghostly static, the rustle of dry leaves. A vocal sample struggles to finish a phrase (the title of the track), cutting itself off.

Gravely bass thumps splash and fizzle into bold tracts of silence, creating a dramatic, heavy portion that shifts the aesthetic from intricate soundscape to something more illustrative, experimental. "[The song] was written for a someone who I shared a memory with," Slow State tells yes/no via email.

"We walked into a sunset on Greenmount Hill, up in Perth City, and as the sun fell the scintillating lights of the city started shimmering. One of those moments you just wish you could grab, you know?" he continues.

The final section of the track — fraught with synth and clanking percussion — begins to mirror the weight of this twilight, the vocal sample on loop and variously pitch-shifted like a reflection of windows beginning to glow in buildings. 'The Silence We Create' is a purposeful setting aside of language, of commentary, in order to be imbued with the drama of the turning earth, the tale of an ending day.

  • 🔔 'The Silence We Create' is taken from Slow State's eponymous SlowState EP, which you can listen to on SoundCloud. The artist himself calls the project "a respite from everything that is far too fast."

    He continues: "It's introspective and reflective, but driven with intent. If space is the breath of art, then I believe silence is the breath of sound. I try to capture moments of silence floating in and out like a breath within the pulse.

Slow State Internet Presence ☟

Thursday 18 June 2020



There's a playful feeling to Reefs' track 'Together'. But it's not just the synths somersaulting past in a rainbow-worthy of various colours that give it this vibe, it's also the different textures, the different sounds used that afford the track its level of liveliness.

"The first step was getting those drums to knock just right," Reefs tells yes/no over email. "The beat reminds me of a bird dancing for some reason!" The rest of the track is a tale of jazz-flavoured chord progressions, inspiration from music by the likes of Photay and Galimatias, and a sample of the moon scene from It's a Wonderful Life.

Garbled vocal samples pop, syncopated kalimba chords clonk uptempo and tropical, while every now and then a snappy staccato synth lead whistles with retro buzz, summoning a melodic feel leaning in the direction of Animal Crossing (Reefs calls that 8-bit synth a "pallet cleanser" to bring the listener back). And all of it lays on the punch and rattle of a trap beat, a robust foundation for the light and kinetic instrumental.

  • 🔔 Stream and/or download/purchase 'Together' from Reefs' Bandcamp if you like.

Reefs Internet Presence ☟

Monday 15 June 2020



— Painting a picture of simultaneous fatigue and excitement —the shuffling fluorescent tunnels and dead-tired eyes of train-riders twinned with the entertainment, the frenetic streets of clothes, faces, skyscrapers, shopfronts lit with light — 'Tokyo Is Dying' by WAKON is an apt soundtrack for a city that is two cities: business and pleasure.

As the Tokyo duo's house-tinged track rattles on with a mechanical rattling industrious beat, looped samples warp in and out of earshot like a reflection of the Japanese capital's day-in-day-day out feeling. But more than this propulsive flow, there's a collage of colour in 'Tokyo Is Dying' that, despite the title, infuses optimism and vitality into the metropolitan malaise of the track.

Speaking about the track, WAKON put forward this mission statement:

"Tokyo is dying. Having gone through 30 years of economic stagnation, Tokyo is still fettered by commercialism and globalism, and repeatedly destroyed and created anew. Nature, culture, tradition, scenery, sentiment, humanity, affection, and laughter disappear day by day. Music is no exception."

WAKON Internet Presence ☟

Friday 12 June 2020



The far-off, splashy reverb in the soft synths that swirl in instrumental of 'In My Room' by Wolverhampton artist Odox transforms an ordinary bedroom into an angular icy cavern. Notes clamber over each other, merge into each other like interweaving thoughts and worries; emotions bounce off the dark, glossy walls, reflecting, refracting in a mystical prismatic space.

It's no surprise, really, as Odox himself tells yes/no how this track was created during the UK's lockdown.

"My thoughts when making this track was about me getting used to being inside learning to be happy being in my room, instead of my happiness depending on if there is any events or friends to see," he says.

"Lockdown has been a time where I have really looked inside myself and thought about what I want to create. It's been positive for my creativity: the amount of ideas I've been able to pursue and time I've had to do that is crazy."

He adds: "Time's always what you make of it."

As the minimal beat rattles, clacks and thumps with sparse surety, producer Hughie preserving space in the track, lines like "stress makes it hard just to breathe" adding a tender counterpoint to the cool ambition of "count them bands..." And in adding his own voice to the cosmic frost of the instrumental, Odox completes its sense of understated majesty.

Odox Internet Presence ☟

Monday 8 June 2020


With City Morgue proponent ZillaKami at the helm, this track marks his first collaboration with fellow rapper Nascar Aloe. He's the self-proclaimed "new Sid Vicious" and aptly so for this slice of punk rap, 'ACAB'. The sound — the crunching kicks, slap-crack of the snare, distorted sub and indistinct lo-fi synth running through like a frenzy — is enough to summon this devastating stand-up-and-fight-back feel, but the lyrics to 'ACAB' provide the all-important message that rides in this horrorcore-meets-Mad Max of a sonic vehicle.

The song title gives listeners an inkling (ACAB is an acronym for "All Cops Are Bastards", fyi). It's the rallying mantra of the song, spelled out letter for letter and spat out fully: "A-C-A-B ACAB ACAB A-C-A-B ACAB yeah." ZillaKami uses this to preface each line in his verse, weaving it with references to videogames — "rig the block like Melee, yeah" and "Undertale, bitch, I am Sans, boy" — and imagery of scuffles with (the listener assumes, at least) police.

Nascar Aloe bursts in, growling lines that show disdain for both the police and their informants:

"Talk to fuckin' 12? [slang for police] I stomp his head under my sandal / Lock me in a cell, leave me for dead, bitch, I'm a vandal / Police power trippin', turn yo' ass into examples."

The rage is real, and manifests itself in a visceral way in finale: "Bitch, save our people, kill a cop." Undue severity, perhaps, but shocking as it may be for some, police brutality and undue use of force from above on those below has a much longer history than reacting to it.

Amidst the thump and crush of the instrumental, the straining vocal chords of both ZillaKami and Nascar Aloe — but most especially the latter — are delivered suitably dank; it speaks of street-level grime, graffiti, yes, but also of rising up from that place.

  • 🔔 'ACAB' is taken from City Morgue's album CITY MORGUE VOL 2: AS GOOD AS DEAD Deluxe edition. Stream, download or otherwise purchase it from your favourite amongst this list of services that allow you to do so.

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Saturday 6 June 2020



The cut-up collage of sound that stutters through 'Squuueze' flows softly and stays knife-edge sharp — testament to how LA-based producer Jonie digs the "unique energy and musicality" of '90s West Coast funk and hip-hop.

"Producers like Dre and Dilla used sampling in a way that was really musical, playing it like an instrument and composing with it," Jonie tells y/n. "I got into making electronic music a few years ago, and in the beginning it felt very stale and cookie-cutter, so I wanted to see if I could loosen the tie and emulate that musicality in my own may."

Accordingly, 'Squuueze' verges on virtuosic — and at times reminiscent of the 'Battle Against A Weird Opponent' theme from '90s SNES classic Earthbound. Bustling in the beginning, with varying textures, tones and colours jostling for space (people, cars, city sights), the track plays out the sun-drenched day and fades towards pastel evening in its second half; that West Coast lilt comes into play, a drawling high-pitched synth the herald of heat-warped tarmac and palms, the landscape of an idealised summer.

  • 🔔 Like what you hear? Check out more from Jonie over on SoundCloud.

Jonie Internet Presence ☟
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Friday 5 June 2020



"Hands up, don't shoot, I can't breathe: Famous last words when you look like me." One of the many lines in 'Running Outta Time' that show raw emotion, effortless flow, rhythm and rhyme — an emotive response from LA-based TxTHEWAY to the murder of George Floyd by police officers.

"My brother Brian is busy marching today but he's really the catalyst for this song," he tells y/n via email. "Since social distancing went into place he started diving head first into music and would send me several beats and scratch ideas every couple of days."

'Running Outta Time', with its simplicity, its gleaming yet careworn feel, is one of those ideas. The nebulous vibe of the instrumental, the delicate skittering beat, feels soft — comfortable even — and paints a gentle, intricate backdrop to a track already laced lyrically with tenderness. Though it's a "space to not be okay", TxTHEWAY explains further what is at the heart of 'Running Outta Time'.

"This song is us processing," he says. "It's us asking for understanding while letting our brothers and sisters know that we understand. If people leave from this moment with nothing else, we hope they take that understanding and share it among friends, family members, and coworkers."

Both from Broward County, Florida — TxTHEWAY now based in LA, Brian Fender in New York — the track artwork depicts a childhood photo of the brothers with added crosshairs: a harrowing reminder of the reality, and a reflection of the humanity, and inhumanity, explored in the track; notably the interruption of a gunshot as Brian Fender delivers the hook: "Many things in this life of mine that I survived / Many wrongs I wanna right, I hope don't run outta time."

"Even though the music came to us easy, the subject matter did not," says TxTHEWAY. "The more we watched the news it became clear that even in this new world, even as humanity fights Covid-19 (our invisible enemy) there is another enemy in front of us that is older and just as sinister... racism."

"As we watched the life slip away from George Floyd we saw ourselves, we saw our own mortality, we recognized how easily that could be any person of color. We, like George in his last moments, are running out of time."

From Brian Fender's bouncing, optimist flow and TxTHEWAY's imploring and melodic "Someone say a prayer for me / Promise you'll be there for me", to the detached determination of the instrumental, the softness of 'Running Outta Time' makes digestible the hard-to-swallow reality, bitter hardships delivered from the heart.

  • 🔔 Purchase or stream 'Running Outta Time' via your favourite service, or support Brian Fender and TxTHEWAY's message by sharing.

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Officially titled 家カフェ ギターのおしゃれな音楽 ("Stylish Guitar Music for Home Cafe" in English), 'Routine BGM' is an example of a phenomenon of background music being made to soundtrack certain space.

A spiritual successor to VGM (videogame music) as much as ambient or environmental music, BGM of this ilk has a particularly strong following and usage in Japan; many channels late at night on Japanese TV feature lounge, jazz and bossa nova-flavoured BGM as soundtrack for gentle nature documentaries, or programs that follow tram journeys around the world.

DJ Relax BGM, the creator of 'Routine BGM', has created this in response to the pandemic. Its official title, referencing an at-home cafe, helps those working from home to change the atmosphere of their rooms. "The atmosphere of a space, in a room or inside a car, changes dramatically [with BGM]. It is where a 'space' is made," they say to yes/no via email. "I'm a guitarist and personally I like bossa nova, but I think it is one of the most relaxing types of music."

The love of bossa nova shines through on 'Routine BGM', with its warm, relaxed chords providing a snappy yet comforting backdrop to a cartwheeling solo that seems to pour like liquid over the top.

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Wednesday 3 June 2020

🐣 DJ EARL — NO CAP 4 2020


"Pretty much getting reacquainted with the scene back home," writes purveyor of footwork DJ Earl, speaking to y/n about his latest track, 'No Cap 4 2020'. With unrelenting rumble and aching classic piano stabs — the all-important vocals samples like a mind-over-matter mantra — it's a floor-moving sonic sojourn.

"I was hanging with some footworkers, specifically Jalen (TOG) & Acey (The Prophecy). They was saying how they miss me DJing the footwork battles and that it's a missing element in a lot of the music that gets played there," DJ Earl continues.

"They were saying my travels definitely changed my sound a lot and that they wanted me to, since I'm back on Chicago, start making battle tracks. So I went back to form and made a Chicago-themed soulful footwork track with some familiar chants like 'no cap' and 'you can’t fuck with me' being something that gets said between dancers as they compete."

The carefree, sing-song vocals that wing their way over the heart-pounding thump of 'No Cap 4 2020' add a playfulness to the frenzied repetition of those two phrases, the rapid fire "you can't fuck with me" melding with the clacking snares for a devastating result — replicating the "kinda energy the footworkers need to fuel high levels of creativity on the dance floor," as Earl puts it — all the while piano chords hang in the air, prismatic, like onlookers mesmerised by the scene.

DJ Earl Internet Presence ☟
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Monday 1 June 2020



It's not only the combination of lush textures and minimalism that makes 'Dandelion' so captivating. The beat is a collage of snares, metallic percussion and whispering cymbals, crisp handclaps — I mean, you could even count the found sound natural noises of outdoors, birdsong, footsteps on gravel, among the songs percussive elements. This by itself affords MADANII & LLUCID's track a certain flow, each click, tick, slap and crash the like a stream dancing between its rocky banks.

There's the delicious syncopated clonk of the marimba (or whatever it may be), lending a fresh flavour, a cucumber and soda water fizz, to proceedings. All that's left is the foundation, the smooth synth of the bass, rounded and acrobatic enough without being too busy or overpowering. LLUCID's production is cooling, allowing the warmth of singer MADANII to radiate outwards.

Her vocal lilts with a touch of onstage crooning, but stays within such a digestible range that makes it feel conversational, close-at-hand, as the lyrics to 'Dandelion' spill diary-like into the stream. While the song begins with the mention of "a little town, not far out" — the sparkle of storytelling firmly set — the chorus whirling listeners into a satisfying cycle of relatable feelings:

"Leave it all behind out of sight / Following the sun / On my homesick run..."

  • 🔔 You can listen to and/or download 'Dandelion' via MADANII & LLUCID's Bandcamp. You'll also find the full lyrics there too, which are pretty cool to read.

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