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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