Those damn English have been sheltering Nedry from America for too long! After self-releasing this gorgeous debut album in 2009, Monotreme Records (65daysofstatic’s long-time home) picked up the rights and gave it a proper UK release back in February, with a Stateside release this past April 20th.

It’s about time. Nedry’s lush sound, courtesy of producers Matt Parker and Chris Amblin, pulls from just about everywhere in British electronica and unites it all under the banner of vocalist Ayu Okakita. Shooting for the moon and landing somewhere between Portishead’s Beth Gibbons and Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, her dreamy, sensual musings tie every sub-bass wobble, acoustic guitar sample, and glitched rhythm together in a sumptuous package.

Condors covers an almost frightening amount of sonic ground over its spartan 8-track, 31 minute runtime. ‘A42’ opens amongst a flurry of glitches and distant pads, before Okakita’s croon and an ever-satisfying oscillating dubstep bass line hit at the same moment and take the steering wheel. ‘Apples & Pears’ follows a somewhat similar pattern, with an acoustic guitar sewing a thread amongst the melancholy vocal line until the song’s distinctly Burial-esque midsection drops in something like an evil turn in an otherwise pleasant dream.

After a quick and pretty ambient interlude, Condors makes its first left turn with the introduction of some menacing distortion and the first electric guitars on ‘Squid Cat Battle’. Okakita pulls off a surprisingly convincing La Roux impression and, while the song comes in danger of slipping a few times, mostly holds intact. The angry streak continues onto the instrumental track ‘Scattered’, a vicious burner much in the style of labelmates 65daysofstatic, but with a fervor and energy we haven’t seen from that band since the middle of the decade. The title track returns to the more trip-hop/dubstep influence of the first part of the album, but with a renewed urgency in the drum programming and a late electric guitar appearance.

Condors ends on a high note, with the aptly titled ‘Swan Ocean’s lilting, melodic grace calling to mind the earlier works of Four Tet or Dntel. As always, Ayu carries the track with a quiet confidence. Glitchy instrumental closer ‘Where The Dead Birds Go’ is a fitting bookend; a landing strip where you can check for all your belongings and marvel at the fact that you’ve only been soaring the skies for a mere half-hour.

Very rarely are debut albums this adventurous and confident. Don’t miss out on this one.

FOR FANS OF: Portishead, Burial, Massive Attack, 65daysofstatic

WATCH: ‘Swan Ocean’

LISTEN: ‘A42’

PURCHASE from Monotreme Records

Brian B.

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Apondalifa

Montreal’s Tim Hecker has entered the new decade in style. His newest release, Apondalifa, is the latest in his signature feel, one nine-minute swirl of lush, dreamy, drifty tone. Again we’re greeted with that shifting, mournful, cathedral feel heard often in An Imaginary Country, a cautiously bold chord progression itself greeted by specks of tones, gradually shifting drones that sound like elegant bleats of dying animals. The track from his previous album that the title references is only briefly referenced within the song. As the track sort of nods to the past, it gives a guiding hand to the future, as glitchy, almost percussive guitar melodies join the electronic chorus. It’s a certain flavor of Hecker I’ve not yet heard that rounds out the track.

I really love Tim Hecker’s alluring sense of uncertainty; it is for one in his way of subtly evolving in his craft. There are little nuances here and there over time, little shifts in feel and aesthetic and skill. There is still a sense of familiarity that the listener can connect with, like looking at old pictures of people you now know. Throughout all his works, this uncertainty is a constant: Hecker’s music is incredibly, incomparably emotionally moving, and I cannot for the life of me pin down why. Apondalifa is a grand continuation of this tradition.

The track is being released on Room40 Records, as a download or limited 7″. You can buy it here.

-Brian S.

Svetlana Industries, a wonderful little new label from Serbia of all places, dropped their first high profile release in April; this gorgeous collaboration between L.A. and U.K. beatmakers Teebs and Jackhigh. Teebs, one of General Lotus’ Brainfeeder soldiers, has been cutting his teeth at the infamous Low End Theory and all over his dreamy, self-released beat tapes. Meanwhile, Jackhigh’s glitched wonders stick out prominently on UpMyAlley’s two Beatnicks’ compilations and sit nicely amongst the similarly burgeoning UK glitch hop scene with producers like Hudson Mohawke, Mike Slott, and Rustie.

Teebs and Jackhigh’s fully organic, collaborative approach is apparent in the fuzzy warmth of all seven of these tracks, with with all sorts of new sounds and samples folding effortlessly into each other. The two continued to pass only a single file for each track between each other; no loops or layers or tracks or automation, so that every new wash of strings or distant jungle melody became softly engraved amongst the tape hiss and free-wheeling beats. The Tropics calls in samples and signals from all over the globe, sounding like they traveled across both miles and years, only to be further blurred and worn in by the transient process in which each tune came together.

The Tropics is maybe the first concrete document of the worldwide influence and spread that future beat music has in the current electronic landscape. It’s a smooth, organic, and quite stunning picture of things to come. The entire EP is available for streaming below.

For Fans Of: Flying Lotus, Ras G, matthewdavid, Keaver & Brause

Purchase from Svetlana Industries

– Brian B.

Releasing electronic music anonymously these days isn’t the same archetype-burning statement it once was. With names like Burial and Zomby becoming household names despite their desire to “keep it all about the music”, it’s become something of an empty gesture. However, the member/members(?) of Downliners Sekt adhere to this policy to such a rigorous extent that it actually regains some of the lost intrigue. Other than the fact that they must be English speakers, DS have revealed no information whatsoever about their age, country of origin, previous musical backgrounds, pretty much a blank slate. The self-proclaimed “filesharing fanatics” have also chosen to entirely eschew any economic interests in their music, releasing it all for free under a Creative Commons license.

Now, as someone who fields a fair amount of submitted music, I can safely say that you usually get what you pay for with much of this ‘free, Creative Commons’ music. But Downliners Sekt seem to be truly committed to this cause and never let the quality falter, to the extent that luminaries like Mary Anne Hobbs have sat up and taken notice.

As for the sounds, Downliners Sekt find themselves somewhere near the intersection of Tim Hecker and Fennesz’s melodically manipulated distortions and the subtle rhythmic inflections of Burial or Mount Kimbie; basically the bread and butter of this site. Dark and melancholy, with the added mystique regarding the creators of such a sound, Downliners Sekt are successfully rallying against the formulaic both musically and ethically. This EP is apparently the first part in a trilogy, so keep a look out for the subsequent releases right here.

(to download, visit Downliners Sekt’s (hee!) website here and navigate over to releases, where all of their albums can be downloaded free of charge.)

For Fans Of: Burial, Fennesz, Tim Hecker, matthewdavid

– Brian B.

The first Champion album I bought years ago was a bit of a guilty pleasure. It was called “Chill ‘Em All” and featured a bloke in a lovely sunset t-shirt on the cover…honestly i believe it was mostly the cover that had me look into it in the first place. Released in 2004, that album featured lively beats, and a bit of a electronic gospel feel that made you nod your head and tap your foot. 6 years later, the sterile bass and synth has given way to dirty guitars and bigger choruses on top of the same lively driving beats. This is an album to beat someone up to…not an angry album, just an album that makes its listener assertive and outgoing. You wouldn’t beat up an innocent to this album, you would beat up someone who deserved it.

Most notable track in that vein is “So Big.” A grungy filthy guitar fades in, cymbals start to crash, and once the warped riff starts you are ready to kick some justified ass. The beats kick in a few seconds later and its on. By the time the vocals start, you don’t know what is so big, but you don’t care.

Other favorite tracks are “My Black Saab” which carries on the “justified badass” theme and “Sannois Beach” which bubbles and boils up to a great frenzy that lasts for the remainder of the track.

Buy

Dave

Alright, here it is. The first album of 2K10 that I just fell instantly and hopelessly in love with. The one where the sounds just hit that sweet spot so perfectly that listening to anything else, even time-honored favorites, leave you with nothing but a bigger jones for this new young pony. Baths is the project of one SoCal producer named Will Weisenfield, who marries ecstatic melodies and emotional sentiment with abstract hip-hop better than anyone since Bibio dropped Ambivalence Avenue last year. Seeing how that record hasn’t really left my rotation since I first heard it 10 months or so ago, I was beyond stoked to find someone up to the same tricks.

Much like Bibio, Will’s not afraid to use his own voice to put a fingerprint on these songs (and that’s what they are- not tracks, songs). His faux-funk falsetto on ‘Lovely Bloodflow’ might seem odd and silly at first, but taking into account the delicate lyrics and sparse, melancholy instrumental reveal that it and all of the other idiosyncrasies and personal inflections that make this more than just great beats and cool instrumentation (not to say that this record lacks either of those things at all). Baths also makes effective use of spoken word samples, mostly from women and children, to further exhibit the human element that can still be found in this electronic, “point-and-click” music if the artist is willing to put it there and sophisticated enough to pull it off without cheese. After enough repeated listens, they almost become characters within the song, and once you get to know the structure, you anticipate their arrival and contribution.

The albums arguable highlight is the least hip-hop influenced of them all. ‘Rain Smell’, with its percussion that consists of barely more than fading a noise signal in and out over handclaps while a lonely piano figure plays in some other room in some other house in that neighborhood you moved out of years ago. There’s just something really fucking affecting about it, and I still haven’t really figured out what the lyrics Will repeats over and over for almost six minutes. It hits me hard. It’s beautiful. Being able to capture this much feeling inside a machine shouldn’t be possible.

This couldn’t have come at a better time. The sun is shining (well, not right now in Chicago actually), birds are singing, leaves are appearing, and these wonderful, catchy, warm, upbeat, vulnerable, funny, and truly forward-thinking songs are pouring out of my speakers for hours on repeat. It’s about as much as you could ask for.

For Fans Of: Bibio, Toro Y Moi, Flying Lotus, Keaver & Brause

MySpace

Brian B.

FINAL EDIT: Corrected the final album title and art, and took down the link because a.) it was incomplete and b.) because this is damn good and I really really really want people to buy it when it drops in June on Anticon. Some of the best songs are on the MySpace so go listen there.

There are a couple things that separate Sara Abdel-Hamid, better known as Ikonika, from the dubstep masses. First and perhaps most obvious, she’s one of a scant few female producers gaining any sort of widespread notoriety. Second, she counts many decidedly non-electronic acts such as Glassjaw and Dillinger Escape Plan among influences. Lastly, her calculated chaos of 8-bit blips, deep bass, and sophisticated rhythms put her miles ahead of many in the dub game, and right at home on the prodigous Hyperdub label. She’s been putting out tracks since 2007, but many first took notice with her two highlight entries on Hyperdub’s 5 retrospective last year; the slippery, pitch-bent ‘Please’ and the plodding throwback synths of ‘Sahara Michael’ which appears again here on her debut full-length.

The video game theme that runs through the synth styles and song titles on Contact, Love, Want, Have might seem limiting at first, but Ikonika teases a great deal of mileage out of the template. Upbeat workouts like album standout ‘Idiot’ balance nicely with the slower dubs like ‘Sahara’, creating a sense of cohesiveness, pace and an album-oriented approach rarely found in the track-focused *step world. Don’t be surprised if you start hearing this girl’s name mentioned in the same breath as some big names very soon.

For Fans Of: Joker, Zomby, Floating Points

Myspace / Buy

– Brian B.

Where the hell did this come from? From what I can surmise, Boas seems to be the work of some dude from Virginia called Tyler Newbold, and it sounds great. Boas (the album) certain cues from chillwave and sends them through a very psychedelic, almost tribal prism with a pretty wild range of percussion underneath. The layers are many, yet the production is immaculate and every beat, freaky sample, and weird vocal warble sounds finely tuned and has plenty of space in the mix; nothing lo-fi here. People always talk about how the hazy nostalgia of Washed Out/Neon Indian recalls their childhood… well, this will do the same thing if you were raised in a teepee in the middle of jungle and fed drugs by robots. There are some pretty wild beat exercises here as well, especially on tracks like the Clark-reminscent ‘Sleaching’. Boas exists in some freaky, yet strangely lucid dimension between pop, chillwave, IDM, and psychedelic.

As you can see from the list below, Boas uses a lot of the same sounds as some of the bigger names in the indie world right now. Don’t let that fool you. This is some unique and intriguing stuff, and the amount of time and skill this album took is readily apparent. This could get fairly big in the right hands, and it should.

For Fans Of: Clark, Atlas Sound, Toro Y Moi

MySpace / Download for FREE @ Bandcamp

Brian B.

P.S. Do you guys like this new layout? I was getting sick of the old one but I dunno if I’m sold on this one yet. Let me know.

Excuse me if this ends up being a little bit of a rush job; I know that this is one of Max from Poop Mountain‘s favorite records of the year so far and I want to post about it before they do. Eat it, suckers.

Kyle Parker is sort of an odd man out on Dean Spunt’s Post Present Medium label, and while he shares a hometown and label with art punks Abe Vigoda and Mika Miko, his music as Infinite Body comes from a different place entirely. Carve’s glowing drones conjure images of something decidedly more primal and veiled than the oppressive blue skies and urban sprawl of Los Angeles. The subtle distorted finish on every chord and cloud add just the slightest touch of menace and tension to these otherwise sublime compositions. From the staggered, phasing strings of “A Fool Persists” to the distant mechanical stabs of “Sunshine”, Carve’s stable of sounds might take a few listens to fully expose.

Parker reared himself on L.A.’s harsh noise circuit, and the structures and distortion on Carve Out The Face Of My God belie that history, but the warm melodies and personal inflections invite you to listen closer and learn more about the guy behind all those pedals.

For Fans Of: At All Ends’-era Yellow Swans, EMERALD$, strange-colored morning mist

MySpace / Buy

Brian B.

P.S. It took me literally 2 hours to upload this on my stupid hill-person internet and got smacked with a big fat ‘failure’ when it was done, so this is, unfortunately, a link jack. I hope you don’t mind, MF user howtobecomeavirgin

http://royalrhinoflying.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/active-child-she-was-a-vision.jpg

It’s rare that, in our age of internet ubiquity, one should find an artist whose music is genuinely hard to find in any format. For me, these facts really only enhance my enjoyment of what little I’ve heard of Active Child, the fuzzy synthy choraly reverby harpy solo project by this guy Pat Grossi. There’s only two songs on here, and listening to them will send me scouring the internet to see if his full  length album is available for download or purchase or something again. Active Child’s music is so far exclusively released on cassette, a format that certainly meshes well with the hazy, reverby synth textures fogging up the background of the two tracks, “She Was a Vision” and “Voice of an Old Friend”. Grossi’s soft and open voice sounds alternatively angelic and soulful here, from his sighing delivery of “I came home to an empty house” to the floating falsetto of “don’t go” as the smorgasbord of retro synthesizers erupts into the chorus on “Vision”.
It’s no accident that all of Grossi’s work with Active Child seems to be paired with similarly hazy and idyllic artwork- the soft golden glow present in the cover of the single permeates both songs on this release, and only makes me look forward to full-length “Sun Rooms” more.

~Julian