Friday 24 July 2020



Ever since xxyyxx's 'About You' infused itself into YouTube in 2012, the whole aesthetic movement that is "chill hop" seemed to grow, coinciding with the birth of channels like Majestic Casual. But it wasn't a landscape that the producer (real name Marcel Everett) trod alone; there were and are others — many, many others.

One such is a veritable proponent of the genre, xander. Both he and Everett recently teamed up for a gloopy, glossy collaboration in the form of 'Settle'. Jointly classifying it as "great brain food", the pair lend their respective styles to the track: an uptempo shuffle into a landscape of woozy chords and urgent synth arpeggios, percussion driving it forward in a virtuosic collage together with acrobatic, elastic bass.

The vital aspect of 'Settle' — created remotely via facetime — is that it eschews the "chill" element for which both artists are known, instead casting a certain restlessness, a sense of struggle, no matter how outwardly sparkling or glossy its aesthetics may be. Given the context of pandemic and political upheaval the world over, it's no wonder.

xander Internet Presence ☟

xxyyxx Internet Presence ☟

Wednesday 22 July 2020



Though 'Some Say' could be quite easily seen as "future bass" and nothing more, it's the variation, the intense colours and the attention to the spaces between sounds in Netherlands producer Sim Fane's track that give it the power to not just occupy a space, but create its very own atmosphere. While it does build up with hyperactive pitch shifted vocals and snapping handclaps, and drops into a glooping tumble of frenzied piercing synth and soft staccato chords, Sim Fane offers up much more than a well-versed formula of builds 'n' drops.

Post-drop, the beat shifts into a frenzy of footwork-flavoured kicks, a sudden jet engine of propulsion that not only provides a boost, but also helps break up the track into a kinetic series of vignettes. Later, listeners await the final drop, but instead — after the sub-bass rumble, the scattering of bleeps and crashes promising one last popping refrain — the track falls away into a dreamy coda of fuzzed out keys, the explosive energy that was there depleted as the ship is cast adrift through a space-scape, nebulae and distant galaxies splashed on the void like abstract art.

  • πŸ”” 'Some Say' is taken from Sim Fane's Where She Lived EP. You can download and/or stream the whole thing over on Bandcamp.

Sim Fane Internet Presence ☟
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Tuesday 21 July 2020



Skittering and beset with structured staccato slices of unidentifiable sampling, 'Pkmn Snap' by Aida Skee feels like a cool breeze. What relevance it bears to 1999 N64 title PokΓ©mon Snap isn't immediately obvious, and perhaps there isn't one, but in its simplicity — its lines of airy sampling, sparing and delicate bassline, background ambience — there is something at least in spirit to the game's soundtrack, notably its 'The Young Photographer' theme.

Cheerful without being sunny, sparse without feeling overly lonely, 'Pkmn Snap' similarly conjures an imaginary landscape. Not unsurprising, as the musicmaker themselves revealed to yes/no that Mach Leisure, the beat tape which the track is taken, is inspired at least partly "hiking while listening to Knxwledge, Marvin Gaye, and deep cut '70s R&B." Physical landscapes, and how music enhances or reflects them, play their part.

This musical foundation is noticeable on the rest of the beat tape, which sometimes gloops with vaporwave ooze ('can't see shit'), glitters like the vapor-friendly tracts of nostalgia in title track 'MACH LEISURE', or radiates warmth as in the comforting groove of album closer 'Where to start it'.

Attention to detail comes to the foreground in tracks like 'right' — its beat clicks into something high octane, before samples drop in slowly skewed and bubbling. It's places like this where Aida Skee's process reveals itself, Mach Leisure being a collection of experiments in high BPM tracks that still retain a "relaxing element of R&B sample-based music."

This sense of relaxation is an element throughout that was (probably) sought after and welcomed by the musicmaker themselves. "I made this whole tape while living alone in Montreal, smoking too much legal weed," they say. "The theme is meant to be like attempting to attain relaxation as fast as possible and how that's sort of an oxymoron."

Tricks in tempo aren't the only cocktail that binds Mach Leisure: "The tracks integrate pitched up and pitched down components of the same sampled tracks, use heavily warped or distorted sample components in tandem with non-distorted loops," the producer explains.

That sense of speed, as well as glistening pairings of pitched and non-pitched samples, occurs in 'like relaxing in a car that's going fast' — a title that sums up the whole idea behind the album — and following track, 'Keep me talking', whose sampled flashes and snaps crackle with chaos. In them, the situation of creating the album — not just hiking in the mountains and listening to music, but also weed and panic and paranoia — come into play. It's both a result of, and a cure for, those negative emotions that inspire minds to race and disappear into realms we wished they wouldn't.

Aida Skee Internet Presence ☟

Saturday 18 July 2020


The music of Ymir delights in providing a soundtrack. Though it's what's being soundtracked that differs from most theme songs, environmental and accidental music, OSTs, even vaporwave excursions: it's simply a soundtrack of the experiment that is involved in its very creation. Very meta.

Accordingly, 'Radiation' is a glistening arrangement of destructed synth, the flickering of a door sliced into the fabric of time, a haphazard slash spilling out light in clutches of strobe and stage-show sparks. It's close to closing, or has not been opened correctly, so knowing whether this quantum fissure is an interdimensional or simply an intertemporal or interspatial passageway, is impossible. All we know is its resounding, soft glimmer in the background, beneath the crackle of Geiger counter distortion.

Fitting the growth and decay of the otherworldly ambient track, the video features the hypnotic spin of an object in a constant state of flux and decay. "Both [the track and the video] play with different types of distortion," Ymir says via email.

"For the music, I focused on creating a kind of organically bubbling, on-the-brink-of-overload sound. For the video, I entered the parameters of each frame by hand, rendering them all separately so that I could interrupt them at various stages of completion, and combine them to create a stuttering, glitchy video."

Ymir Internet Presence ☟



E.M.M.A has been an interesting producer for yes/no ever since 'Mindmaze'. This bouncy splice of beats and baroque was inspired by educational dungeon crawler/quiz 'em up Mindmaze, a side-game featured on the much-loved e-encyclopedia Encarta 95 (see here for reference.)

Moving on two and a half years since then, E.M.M.A has amassed full power into Indigo Dream, her first album since 2013's Blue Gardens (also marking a titular move on to the next major hue of the rainbow). And the first track to be taken from the forthcoming release — 'Into Indigo' — is a gleaming overture into E.M.M.A's multi-faceted electronic world.

Like 'Mindmaze', though fuller bodied and less midiwave in aesthetic, 'Into Indigo' speaks of a fantasy world, fugue-flavoured, interpolating notes. Feeling akin to microgenre dungeon synth — more to the point, without being beholden by that label — the track glimmers with soft synths tumbling in a mesh of arpeggio and flashing flourishes, each element kinetic, like everything's vibrating. It's the sort of highly credible induction into a different reality that hints of vaporwave influences, too.

The metallic fuzz of a picked bass propels the track forward, a battlement of thumping, treble-focused kicks and punchy snares, doused with splashy cymbals, builds itself up amidst the spectral synth. It's a combination that feels reminiscent of Jim Guthrie's soundtrack to 2011 videogame Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP: transportive, but rooted in real-world instrumentation.

Drama twists its way into the track, space and simplicity like gaps in towering clouds, trails through ancient woodland, mountain paths; the background noise of buffeting wind summoning resolve, grit. And after this sonic introduction, clambering the epic ridge that separates wherever you're listening to the album from the aural forms of the album itself, the world map of Indigo Dream stretches out ahead.

  • πŸ”” Check out our Lazy Interview with E.M.M.A
  • πŸ”” Indigo Dream by E.M.M.A is out 23rd July on London label Local Action. You can pre-order Indigo Dream via E.M.M.A's Bandcamp, available as a digital download and on cassette. A "deluxe edition" cassette bundle bags you a poster, eight-page photo inlay and a special E.M.M.A guitar plectrum.
  • πŸ”” A whole hosts of artists have contributed to visual side to Indigo Dream, with exquisite portrait photography by Ivan Weiss, more photography (this time on a beach) by Sophie Davies, a prog-rock worthy typeface designed by Patrick Saville, and Morgan Hislop putting together the exclusive poster (see below).

Internet Presence ☟

Friday 17 July 2020



Space. The final frontier. Well, not in this instance — 'Stair' by Los Angeles-based producer Ymir just sounds as though it's in space. That's because in this dramatic piece of ambient music, he's rising above and looking at from afar what was (at the time) "a new urban environment" — a new resident in an alien city.

"I'd never been somewhere that never sleeps before," Ymir tells yes/no by email. Originally from North Dakota, moving to Los Angeles was an eye-opening experience; he reveals that its particular sense of "decay" was soemthing that interested him.

"I think that was sparked by the more run-down areas of the city, and how different that was from what I was used to in my (relatively) small town," he says.

Suitably, the track hums with unsteady resonance, touched with lo-fi scratches and imperfections — a sense of sonic wear-and-tear that makes it feel as though this track has been around for years, floating in the air. Most noticeable are the wheeling changes in pitch, dynamic and flighty, continuing well into the swampy drone that drenches the track's final minute.

Giant bassy notes twang out a dirge of vast Western proportions, emanating from the depths of the city for miles around, a sense of classic instrumentation yet muffled under the waves of cosmic drama; far-off pines bristle against grid systems, someone huddles beneath an overpass.

Part far more gritty alternative soundtrack to 'Space Junk Road' from Super Mario Galaxy, part out-of-body experience looking out over the countless street lights and shuffling people of LA's urban sprawl, 'Stair' is a balanced, considered view of something new. Space — and tender, detached feeling — tempered into sound.

Ymir Internet Presence ☟

Monday 13 July 2020



Drama lies at the heart of 'Scherzo' by Italian composer and Mathematics major, Daniele Sciolla. Like the descent of a spirit, a god, your future self, before being dragged away by the infinite pull of a force beyond its control, 'Scherzo' is a tally of de-regulated sounds speeding and elastic, looping but linear and finite. Virtuosic in their temporal imperfection, crescendos rising in a merging of moments, the track is 1:42 of experimentation.

"When I listen to a track, I like to search for rules describing some aspects of it," Sciolla tells yes/no via email. "And in the same way my composition notes are placed following algorithms, especially rhythmically."

"There's a lot of math involved in Synth Carnival," he continues. "I set the tempo and then notes were gradually added and removed following a specific pattern. So one gets the impression of chaos and slowing down or acceleration, but the BPM is always the same.

"It's similar to what some arpeggiators give off, but writing it by myself I can control more parameters."

Sciolla mentions that he was driving along Lake Geneva, Switzerland, when he first came up with this way of creating music. "In those days, I was recording a large number of synthesisers at the SMEM Museum in Fribourg," he says, and likens the sound of 'Scherzo' to the way one can stumble upon state-of-the-art buildings in the middle of a forest — "unspoiled, wild nature next to high technology."

The is suitably organic: self-made, instead of relying on the convenience of automation. It's a testament to the majesty of nature, as much as to the tone and texture of organic synthesisers, and to the power of mathematics.

Internet Presence ☟
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Sunday 5 July 2020



Though it's possible to be fooled into thinking that AKB is a thinly veiled tribute to J-pop megagroup AKB48, it simply spells out the initials of Swedish musicmaker Anna-Karin Berglund. Names aside, her track 'Saktmodet' (loosely translating to "gentleness") is a gloriously organic, living-and-breathing piece of ambient music.

The song is a crooning collection of woodwinds, and the crash of resonant, lightly phasing piano (reminscent, in texture at least, of 'Canticle' by English band These New Puritans). It came to life while working on her 2020 album. Marianergraven, which was more focused on "mechanically profound sounds and sound worlds."

"This song," Berglund tells yes/no via email, "was a respite to work more with traditional instruments like piano and clarinet."

'Saktmodet' is an illustration of hot and cold: sharp, icy sounds ping out, and there's the accidental rustling and whispering of breath, all cushioned by rich, warm sounds of the clarinet and the fading, post-percussive glow of piano chords. More than temperatures, however, more than indoors and outdoors, it's the vital, close-at-hand feeling of the instruments that give this slice of ambience a real sense of human effort and emotion.

  • πŸ”” 'Saktmodet' arrives via Swedish label Lamour Records, originally featured as a bonus 7" bundled in with AKB's limited edition Marianergraven. You can listen to the track on Spotify, if you like.
  • πŸ”” If you want to hear more from AKB, it's possible to stream and download Marianergraven from Lamour Records' Bandcamp.

AKB Internet Presence ☟

Wednesday 1 July 2020



Most well known not by name, but for being the bassist of Future Islands, now Baltimore-based William Cashion is carving out a world of music all his own with the release of a debut solo album.

'Triple Ocean', one of a pair of singles taken from the album, exemplifies the ambient flavours that feature on it, the title of which —Postcard Music — echoes ancestor of ambient Erik Satie's musique d'ameublement or "furniture music" and purveyor of Japanese ambient equivalent, kankyō ongaku (environmental music) Hiroshi Yoshimura's Music for Nine Post Cards.

The watery credentials of Cashion's track are, of course, an intended product of his creation, named 'Triple Ocean' after a hand-painted sign he saw along the road during a trip to Jamaica in 2015.

"I initially came up with the piece that would become 'Triple Ocean' on the Eastern Shore of Maryland during a weekend trip to focus on writing," he tells yes/no via email. "It began with some simple layered guitar lines, which I edited down, cut up, and drenched in reverb." Note the drenched.

"When I sit down to work on music, I don't necessarily have anything in mind at first. I just start along a path, so to speak, and see where it leads me."

With cello added to make it sound yet more lush, Cashion's approach to ambience seems to be natural, prizing real-life instruments over synths, resulting a rich, living-and-breathing soundscape.

Beginning with a majestic tract of gleaming waves, a sonic introduction, the song moves into a mid-section that twangs gently like a sort of lucid lullaby. Then its "third movement" — which "emerged over time" — rises up; it ebbs and flows into a gradual crescendo of destructed wind and waves, like soft rocks tumbling over each other in the surf, empty grey skies hanging like gates to forever. Gazing at the horizon, it begins to get a little closer.

"I love the abstract and disparate effects instrumental music can have on the listener," Cashion continues, speaking on the attraction of ambient music away from the dramatic, focused songs of Future Islands. "The mind can wander, go wherever it likes. There's no focal point, no voice telling you exactly what the song is about. Music to dream to.

"I recommend listening to it with your eyes closed."

William Cashion Internet Presence ☟
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