Cosmo’s Midnight – Surge

Cosmo’s Midnight is an electronic duo comprised of twin producers from Sydney, Australia. Being their debut original release, Surge was mounted with a bit of hype (at least for me), and I think it lived up to every bit of it. I discovered Cosmo’s Midnight through a video by the glover Ahuh on the EmazingLights channel where he used the single preceding this EP “Phantasm feat. Nicole Millar”. After hearing the song I instantly looked it up only to find it was their only original track released but an EP was coming out soon. The day it came out (yesterday at the time of writing this I believe) I snatched it right up and gave it a bunch of listens.

I would describe the sound as chillwave but with a little bit more emphasis on the beats than is typical and I love it. It’s got everything one might love about a good chillwave release: the floaty vocals with memorable melodies, the sidechained keyboard and basskicks, phasing background synths, and it’s all executed with great cleanliness and professionalism. When the title track begins it starts with a flowing beatless ambient section before the beat kicks right in and the realization washes over you that this is going to be an awesome EP, even assuming you hadn’t heard Phantasm already (which is one of my favorite tracks of the year so far). Something I noticed that I thought was nice was the melody tie in from Surge to Phantasm with the plinky keyboard, which gives some nice flow to the ideas of the EP right off the bat and you can immediately tell this is going to be a concise and well put together release. The production is spot on and the songwriting is catchy and feely, the perfect combination in my opinion. My favorite aspect of the EP is probably just how well all the different sounds are layered and put together to create the final product, which I’ve got to give mad props to Cosmo’s Midnight for simply for that in itself, not even taking into consideration all the other great things about this EP.

I recommend Cosmo’s Midnight to pretty much anyone who likes anything remotely chill, but to be more specific; if you like XXYYXX, Blackbird Blackbird, or MillionYoung you might like this, those 3 artists just being 3 that I thought of off the top of my head.

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Overall Rating: 9.2/10

Favorite Tracks: ‘Phantasm’, and ‘Lover’s Shadow’

Released: 7 June 2013

Links: Cosmo’s Midnight on Soundcloud

-Eric

Borealis – Voidness

Borealis is the solo project of Hesse Somfay, part of the Origami Sound collective who describe themselves as “an ever growing collective of artists and labels aimed towards introducing the highly subjective concept of quality emotional electronic music with an emphasis on eclecticism” – a statement that I find to be largely true within the music of Borealis and associated acts like Hmot and Nocow, the sound of which is concentrated largely on the ethereal and meditative nature of IDM godfathers Boards of Canada to the moodiness and the skeletal structure evocative of Burial.

Voidness is something of an epic, an electronic odyssey into something personal but also distant and strange. Clocking in at 1 hour and 15 minutes Voidness serves as an electronic exploration that delves into and builds off of the genres of earlier contemporaries.

Most of the tracks on Voidness are simple which is best heard on Orphan Fire, a song includes a repetitive overtly minimalistic structure which would normally be boring but it all fits together so well in the context of the album, what the music here is trying to accomplish. Like a futurist sharpening a set of kitchen knives, the beats are sharp and angular sounding but they are almost always arranged in such an interesting way. Tracks like ‘Intravenous’ show off the spontaneous nature of Voidness as loud explosions of metallic clanging often erupt at seemingly random times. The arrangements are futuristic and favor simplicity and mood while the beats are strange, never out of time with each other but more so off-kilter, irregular rhythms that bring a spontaneous element to an otherwise straight-forward album giving the otherwise ultra sleek sound that is Voidness something natural, something human and deliberately flawed.

Borealis’ makes a kind of electronic music that in a way is very much his own and while it may be unique in an out of context kind of way, comparatively ‘Voidness’ takes quite a large chunk of inspiration from musicians who have already pursued what Borealis is doing here. What I think listeners will pick up on first are those pitch-shifted disembodied chipmunk-esque vocal samples that have been used to death by nearly every future-garage / dubstep musician. Although there are some obvious borrowed ideas the effort and attention to detail within ‘Voidness’ is uncanny and definitely worth a few listens.

Voidness is a highly emotive piece of work that brings a necessary emotional aspect and level of intimacy to electronic music that is often seldom heard. The album takes the listener on a moving journey through the crossfades of the digital polish of electronic music, a certain physical viscera and interweaves the two together. While some may feel that Borealis is borrowing too heavily from his contemporaries this is definitely an overlooked piece of electronic music that deserves a higher seat in the electronic of 2012.

Overall Rating: 8.3

Favorite Tracks: ‘Womb’, ‘Unseen & Uncalled’, ‘Not Of This Reality’, ‘Intravenous’, ‘Wearied, We Keep Awake’

Recommended: Check out the rest of the Origami Sound catalogue.

Released: 13 July 2012

Links:

Check out ‘Voidness’ on Origami Sound’s Bandcamp

Redntoothnclaw

Teotl Expansion – P:1

Teotl Expansion is a duo specializing in minimalist piano compositions, similar to the likes of fellow purveyors of glitch based ambient music such as Alva Noto, Fennesz, and Tim Hecker their debut ‘EP’ consists of three chopped up glitchy tracks that provide the listener with a breed of easy listening that never feels boring.

The music Teotl Expansion make could be easily described as simple or minimalistic and while that may be true the description itself is too simple for its own good because beyond the clean droning washes of spacial beauty and piano arrangements is something far more vast and complex. The duo has made one of the most prominent instruments, an instrument that is associated with, perhaps lost to music of the past and shaped it into something new using instruments pertaining to a more modern identity.

The glitchy ambient compositions that musicians such as Tim Hecker and Fennesz have pioneered are present within Teotl Expansion’s sound although while similar Teotl Expansion keeps things much simpler, not so much in playing, the layered piano based patterns are fairly complex but the music is limited mostly to these glitchy piano melodies as opposed to atmospherics and textures. Although I do enjoy the idea of using a limited sound pallet, their choice to refrain from ambitious and unnecessary sounds, at times the simplicity of the music this duo creates does make me want to hear what they could achieve by implementing textures and other sounds into their work. The duo does a nice job at making an old instrument sound so modern while keeping things simple and while it is organic in a way, their were a few moments where the compositions began to grow uninteresting. While glitchy techniques do change things up and help keep my interest one can only listen to a variation on a theme for so long. The third track, “Geodesics” features much more progression than the other two tracks by breaking away from the structural layered patterns that were present on the other two tracks and featuring more synthetic tones.

We’ve all heard these sounds before; these serene piano melodies that our ears have become so accustomed to, sounds that do not pertain only to one style of music but one that spans genres. We can easily identify with them but it is only now within the context of modern times, by digital means that we can hear them take a new shape and sound, we have the ability to mold them into something new and vastly expand upon what we’ve grown so familiar with, tired of even and this is what Teotl Expansion has proven to be capable of with this 3 track EP. The name of this release suggests what I am assuming is a possible series of sorts; what that series entails I am not sure, however, Teotl Expansion’s debut EP is a nice taste for what is hopefully an exercise in a continuous pursuit to mesh classical instrumentation with a modern sound which the duo already does so well. This is definitely one of the most original EPs I have heard this year so I anticipate to see what this duo is capable of with further releases.

Overall rating: 7.4

Favorite Track: ‘Geodesics’

Recommended: Glitch based ambient bliss similar to Alva Noto, Ryuichi SakamotoTim Hecker, and Fennesz

Released: 15 June 2012

Links: Check it out on Bandcamp

Redntoothnclaw

Graham F – I’m Warm

This four track EP is the second release by ambient musician Graham F. Much like the album cover, the whole of this album is surrounded by separate sounds spiraling into each other, swirling together to create a sound filled colorful synths and mostly structureless ambient music.

‘I’m Warm’ features an eclectic mix of sounds; samples, field recordings, and thick analogue bleeps and bloops that really do the name of this recording justice. The synths are rich featuring bright swells with bassy undertones riding almost unnoticed beneath them. The first track reminds me a lot of ‘Emeralds’ with a collaging of sounds that overwhelm the listener as it carries over into ‘A Step In Two’ that brings a little structure into the mix with more defined bass and disjointedly arranged synths. The third track is full of more of the same floaty swells, riveting tones, and pulsating synths but again adds more definition by bringing the elements of the music closer together, getting them to interact a bit more where they did not on previous tracks. ‘I’m No Longer Warm” is the most beat oriented of all four and really unleashes some of the built up tension that results from the indirectness of the other tracks. This is an EP I highly recommend listening throug in one sitting given that all of the tracks run into each other, each one setting up the next; it kind of works as a mini epic of sorts, each track becoming more organized and fleshed out, building toward a finale until the final track which features some solid beats and the realization of what Graham F has been working toward throughout the EP.

‘I’m Warm’ shows a departure from the largely beat influenced music heard on the ‘Night Lights’ EP with this new release focusing on the atmosphere and progression throughout four tracks that doesn’t always satisfy so much as it does meander. The nice sounds are there, the synths are resonant and appropriately layered making for nice textures but the music just doesn’t quite flow or bring these components together. It would be different if Graham F. were creating a completely formless piece of music but the music just teases at becoming a unified entity which never actually happens until the final song. In certain parts the EP lags a little but where ‘I’m Warm’ shines is with it’s bright and cheerful tracks, all of which give off feelings of nostalgia and child-like wonder that I can’t help but like

Overall rating: 7.0

Favorite Track: ‘I’m No Longer Warm’

Recommended: Emeralds. Listening to loops of waterfalls and faint memories of wanderlust.

Released: 09 December 2011

Links: Chill out on Bandcamp

Redntoothnclaw

Skymning – Moonstone Gang

Skymning is a bedroom music producer who writes and records lo-fi downtempo beats. ‘Moonstone Gang’ is the producer’s third release.

Rewind to 2010; a music genre called witch house arises and instantly creates a hysteria of rage amongst the internet music community. As lo-fi bedroom production grew more an more popular we were being introduced to the phenomenon of these tiny genres, micro-genres, often the result of an amalgamation various styles of music. The term ‘witch house’ refers to a form of electronic music that contains an unorthodox combination hip-hop music and some minor key characteristics of shoe-gaze, drone, and ambient music. Other than sharing similar musical characteristic the genre also saw a collective of shared imagery; inverted crosses, triangles, and various symbols all complete with a mysterious and elusive persona; masks, drag, veils etc. With Triangle Records rising out of the dodgy and laughable mess of faux-santanic imagery, mysterious personas, and the ability to induce a shit storm of rage whenever mentioned there has been this cloud of ethereal ambient laden music that has hovered over and influenced electronic musicians since late 2009; Balam Acab, How To Dress Well, and Holy Other being just a few out of the many.

The album is quick to rely on the mysterious presence that other musicians of this genre pioneered, complete with a combination of dark overbearing synth and hip-hop style production. The second track ‘Crystal Veins’ showcases this certain mystery beginning with a handclapped rhythm that draws a likeliness to southern hip-hop before exploding into these lush reverberated synth landscapes; a bold track that goes as far as to capture the vibe of the entire EP in one song. The EP continues to follow the consistency established on the previous two tracks. On the ridiculously incomprehensibly named forth track, ‘पापराक्षसी वत्से’, these saturated overdriven synths create an eerie and disturbing vibe as a vocal sample featuring a girl recounting the events of some negative point in her life, perhaps at some past rape or abduction scenario plays on. The track listing is nicely arranged with these short spells of calmness appropriately sandwiched between these foreboding hip-hop based instrumentals. ‘Nässjö II’ provides a smooth reassuring sense of ease that ties everything together and makes for a perfect closer.

‘Moonstone Gang’, although a short affair showcases the ethereal sounds of witch house ranging from washed out saturated synth patterns to dark and grimy hip-hop beats resulting in a dreamy piece of music that although does not attempt to be original by any means or provide anything new in terms of expanding on this short lived genre does accommodate with some great sounds that you could relax to just as easily as you could perform a satanic ritual to.

Overall rating: 6.3

Favorite Track: ‘Crystal Veins’

Recommended: Triangle Records. Salem style southern hip-hop influence production.

Released: 08 January 2012

Links: ▲▲▲

Redntoothnclaw

Mustapha Mond – Keeping Secrets

Mustapha Mond is a music producer from Boston. Keeping Secrets is the producer’s first release that puts an emphasis on downtempo hip-hop beats favoring simplicity and an array of smooth synth tones over unnecessarily complex instrumentals.

‘Keeping Secrets’ starts off with a bit of familiarity calling out to a wide array of sounds from the twinkly background noises and bells. The vocals are beautiful, recalling the ethereal falsetto vocals of Jonsi of Icelandic band Sigur Ros in the form of beat oriented electronic music that makes for a really nice combination. The vocals are pretty much unintelligible, whether they are actually saying anything is unclear to me but the way they are used more like an instrument or a separate melody more than an actual lead vocal. Undoubtedly a standout track and one of my favorite electronic songs I’ve heard this year that continues to progress in this dreamy direction with the second track, ‘Latching’ which features some reverse reverb. ‘Pills’ forces the listener out of the mellow sound of the previous tracks and into a distortion driven wah style that gives the track a little edge and momentarily brings the EP out of the dreamy slumber that the rest of the tracks do so well in inducing. The beats on the track are a sturdy backing to it’s otherwise chaotic nature giving it just enough structure to where it doesn’t feel sloppy while giving the illusion of chaos and non-uniformity. ‘Portland’, the closer, keeps a perfect mix of deep low end that is sure to please the bass heads out there and the presence of orchestral ambience giving the track a ton of depth and some great sounds to explore and re-explore.

The stand out elements of the music is not so much the beats but the gorgeous layers of synth sounds that carry the tracks on a bed of cloudy tones. Where Mustapha Mond really shines is not only in his ability to make relaxing instrumentals but also in his ability to create these soft airy sounds and dreamy background textures while making it all work together really well with the help of the tight production aesthetics. There are a few points were the beats are just a tiny bit too high in the mix which can be distracting; I feel like this could easily be corrected with some slight adjustments but overall it’s nothing too big.

Mustapha Mond’s simplistic beat making is complimented by his atmospheric and smooth sounds that makes for a really easy listen that doesn’t get old with repeated listens. Keeping Secrets is a solid beginning effort that maintains a cohesive sound throughout while having enough variety to keep you listening.

Overall rating: 8.2

Favorite Track: Keeping Secrets, Pills

Recommended: Dreamy relaxing instrumentals

Released: 11 February 2012

Links:

Follow him on Soundcloud

Take a listen on Bandcamp

-Redntoothnclaw

Track Review: Little House – Avocado

see? pink hair i told you

here she is being indie

Little House is some chick with pink hair in australia singing twee shit like the exchange rate for cute lyrics is 10USD per cute line.
Anyways, in her song Avocado, she incorperates some interesting textures and beats in her simple chord progression and melody. Rest assured, this  doesn’t go beyond regular delicious twee pop. It DESTROYS regular delicious twee pop. she sings of whimsical things like the moon and you and how frightening heightning science can seem and it’s magical. one of those times when the lyrics and the noises match up perfectly. Oh, and there’s glitchy hip hop beats

She also has a cute accent which is good if you need a quirk before you check something out, but otherwise it’s relatively unimportant.

As far as her image goes, I feel like she could easily be one of those attention whores who goes out of their way to make you fall in love with her, only to be all SORRY MOTHERFUCKER IMMA FUCK THIS GUY AND CRY WHEN HE DUMPS ME. YOU AINT GETTIN SHIT THOUGH, I AINT EVEN GONNA HOLD YOUR HAND and then you cry yourself to sleep while pretending to hold her, attempting to fill the hole in your heart with some delusional fantasy cooked in your brain just for this special occasion. But I kinda hope she’s not that, I would get depressed

Cute song. Little short though

8/10

I had a hard time in high school if you couldn’t tell already