Dripping in reverb and oozing tranquility, Mikael Tobias’ recent album Absentia serves up a perfect downtime soundtrack. Released last October on Copenhagen’s Unit Shifter (all links below), Sit and Stare is one of my favourite tracks from the album.
For me, the album seems to convey this feeling of becoming completely stranded and isolated, but finds an easiness in, almost welcomes, this predicament.
Pretentious imaginary scenario aside, this is a great tune to starfish out to. Throughout the track you can hear bare trees bristling in the wind however I’m unsure whether they’re synthetic or not. Regardless, in unison with the broad soundscapes and very laidback percussion, the ordinarily creepy sounds of dead trees chattering become almost wholesome.
Mikael Tobias seems to consistently approach his music cinematically. You can watch a live performance of Meditation 1, another track from the album on his website, which I’ve linked below.
The amazing image above comes from Rebecca Burns, chosen because it captures many of the same emotions as the track. Warped and otherworldly beauty that draws the mind to wander.
This track was made for Afterhomework Paris’ 2017 Fashion Week show. A start-up fresh to the fashion game, for its most recent runout at Paris Fashion Week they invited a few friends down to collaborate. This is where MMX DELTA comes in, along with several others. Jan Melka, another artist based in Paris, produced the above artwork and it was actually by way of her Instagram page that we came upon this! (All links down below)
I don’t know a whole pile about MMX aside from the fact that his work exemplifies a lot of DIY creativity. He has a number of aliases with different musical styles ranging from techno to psychedelic-tinged rock (see his Soundcloud below). His website has a sleek, brutalist design and is semi-interactive with the user. Violent and moody but the style is seductive for all of that. You’ll find yourself clicking all it has to click, to try and figure it out.
Step On itself has a lot of personality. Shifting and ebbing drums inject this semi-ambient track with a degree of downtempo danceability. It oozes stylishness and one can hear how well suited the tune would have been to Afterhomework’s fashion week show. Colourful synth lines punctuate and shimmer throughout the track. I was completely unfamiliar with MMX DELTA previously, and to be honest I’m not sure that I know a whole lot more. Regardless, I think this one deserves a watchful eye.
For the second and final part of our 2017 round up series we’ve divulged a bit about some of the things we discovered in the last year that we most enjoyed music-wise. Music discovery isn’t always about finding new music, rather it can more often than not be about back-tracking and learning of older stuff that is fresh to you. As such the majority of what’s included here is aged to some degree.
It’s important to stay current and to not lose track of some of the great music coming out in the present but we’d argue it’s equally important to learn a bit about its context and the art that laid the groundwork for what’s around now. Enjoy!
Vril – Torus XXXII
This is one track in particular I found last year which stands tall above the rest, released in 2015 as part of Vril’s Torus full length. I remember finding this track early in the year and thinking it was nice but nothing else, it was only later on in the year when I listened to it again by chance and was really captured by the melancholic beauty presented in the tunes lead melody. For a period of time this helped me in a big way, and I’d often have it on repeat, never getting sick of that melody line. It’s one of those rare tracks that will bring about tears on the dancefloor, and a track I now consider to be an all time favourite.
Bicep – Bicep
This selection isn’t something older that I’ve found during the past year but it was a landmark bit of music for me.
Bicep’s self-titled debut album Bicep was my standout full length in a year with many great efforts. It was a long wait for fans of the Belfast duo but thankfully this was worthwhile as the album definitely lived up to expectations for me (I know Aiden will argue with me on this haha). Drifting nicely between breakbeat and ambient, the record provided some of my favourite musical moments of the year with tracks such as Orca, Glue, Drift and Vespa which could show a lighter side to Bicep as opposed to the usual 4×4 stuff they’ve become renowned for. The album really stood up for me in its replay-ability and diversity. I often found myself returning to it listening to a particular track if I was feeling a certain way, something I gladly found solace in. The album also acted as the main crux of the Bicep live show which I got to see twice this year. Tracks such as Spring were really given another dimension on the dance floor and I found I enjoyed that track in particular after hearing it out. Orca actually turned out to be one of my most listened to tunes this year and is one I love due to the emotion invoked – a track which is the perfect example of something that is suited for the home environment and a live experience, and I found a lot of the album to share this quality.
Lauren Garnier- Electrochoc
I’d been meaning to buy this for ages, and when I finally got it in October I was satisfied it was well worth the purchase. Tracing the roots of dance music as told through the eyes of Mr. Garnier, it is a truly fascinating read with some great anecdotal material and funny at times as well. My favourite part of the book though, was when Laurent visits Detroit for the first time in the early 90s and meets his heroes. I found this not only interesting, but also so inspirational. So much so, that I’ve pinned up a quote from that chapter in my room: “That first trip to Detroit wasn’t life-changing. I didn’t like the music from Detroit more because I had breathed the city air. But what Detroit did teach me was the importance of putting your heart and soul into your music. The reason why Detroit techno strikes a chord with me is because its producers lay bare their souls in their music. They lay bare their sorrows, their resentment, their wounds and their hope. Derrick May’s words kept going round inside my head, ‘You don’t make a record for fun, man.’
If the music of Chicago shoots from the hip, the music of Detroit has always spoken straight to the heart. It can bring tears to my eyes. It produces an intense emotional reaction. Records like “World 2 World” or “Strings Of Life” are the soundtracks to my life. I can listen to them time and time again and still feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. This cannot be manufactured. This is real.
Before familiarising with Durutti Column my knowledge of the ‘Madchester’ era was a lot more superficial. I didn’t realise how significant that period of time was in shaping music and club culture in the UK. Post 1970s Manchester had a remarkable impact on how different genres of music are positioned alongside one another. The lines between them blurred, with the introduction of new genres such as new wave and electro and the birth of DJ culture as we know it today.
The Return of the Durutti Column perfectly exemplifies this catalysing time. The Column’s Vini Reilly described the album as “an attempt at experimental things and an attempt to challenge what is considered rock and roll.” I got onto this back in the spring based on a friend’s recommendation and it sucked me in immediately. The opening track Sketch for a Summer has a quite floaty, almost dream-like atmosphere to it. This light-hearted naivety recurs on tracks such as Jazz and Katherine.
However the album also has much darker tones and textures, both parts of Aspects of the Same Thing and Sleep Will Come are great examples.
The album certainly mounted a successful challenge to traditional perceptions of rock and roll. With the help of Martin Hannett, Reilly was able to use sounds that no one else was at the time. The delicate melodies heard throughout Return are a far cry from the typical use of electric guitar at the time.
In his youth Reilly received classical musical training and this is integral in the way he constructs his music. The record listens much more like a series of classical compositions than rock or ‘guitar music’.
One of Factory records’ great left-field gambles, this perhaps my favourite album that’s emanated from the post-punk period in Manchester.
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – SOUVENIR
This is actually a bit of a rediscovery for me. I had the chance to plunder the family record collection and came across this track which I hadn’t heard in years. I’m guilty of nostalgia being a large part of my attachment to this track. It was a staple at family BBQ’s when I was younger. On every listen, I’m revisited by the image of a sandy red sunset.
Self-indulgent sentimentality aside, this is a great tune. It’s got a tolerable amount of cheese to it and the melodies craft a really romantic, bittersweet atmosphere. There’s something endearing too, in the workmanship of OMD’s music. Limited financially, a lot of their work supposedly used the korg micro-preset, choosing it simply because it was “the cheapest money could buy.” Best enjoyed on the tail-end of an evening consisting of: Heineken, barbecue sausages and good company.
BBC RADIO 6
This is a party that I’m undoubtedly quite late to but I’ve been enjoying Radio 6 Music massively for the past five or so months since first tuning in. There’s a plethora of online radio stations with a vast amount of musical diversity, however it’s rare to encounter that same level of variation on offline radio.
With programming spanning across a wide array of genres, the offering on Radio 6 caters to the tastes of all music lovers.
Gilles Petersen and Lauren Laverne’s shows in particular have been giving me major kicks over the past few months. Petersen’s weekly Saturday show encompasses, not exclusively; jazz, soul and electronic music. With a consistent selection of quality music supplemented by astute commentary and great guest musicians, something is always learned when to Gilles’ Join The Dots.
A great breadth of music can be found too, in Lauren Laverne’s programme which runs daily during the week. Playing electronic, rock, hip-hop to name a few, it tends to have an upbeat energy to it for great daytime listening. Her Monday Motivation show is great at doing exactly what it says on the tin.
You can catch Radio 6 on digital radio at DAB 12B or channel 707 on Freeview.
You blinked and now it’s gone. The new year is round the corner but before we start getting too caught up in the future, it’s always nice to do a little reflection. As part of our reflection we’ve put together a little summary of our favourite tracks of 2017, supplemented by a playlist for your listening pleasure.
Coming in at 20 tracks, this wasn’t easy picking! So much great music comes out year on year that it’s nigh on impossible to remember it all never mind whittle it down to roughly ten tracks. Nevertheless, we’ve had a go anyway and we hope you do enjoy it.
A massive thank you to everyone who has supported us this year. To those who helped us set up the sight, sent in tunes & guest mixes, read our words, listened to our selections, came down to our Eglantine party and continue to show us love. We love you all.
This year I’ve had the pleasure of listening to some wonderful music. An easier list would be my favourite releases of this year, but that wouldn’t make much of a playlist by comparison. It was hard pinning down my favourite tracks from albums of such consistent quality as Loyle Carner’s and Melanie De Biasio’s.
I had a bit of an on/off relationship with dance music this year, on occasion going weeks at a time without listening to any. I filled this gap by catching up on some hip hop I had missed throughout the year and by discovering some new blues and jazz. An area which I wasn’t very well versed in previously.
Melanie De Biasio’s Afro Blue and Zara McFarlane’s Fussin and Fightin are two of the tracks from this kick that have stuck with me most. Somewhat different in mood and tone, Afro Blue is a slow and soft track well suited to a late night. Fussin and Fightin is chock full of soul but is much more energetic and rather busier (to great effect) than the former in the rhythm section.
Jorja Smith’s Carry Me Home is one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve listened to this year, perfectly capturing the feeling to yearn for companionship. It’s fortunate that the version on YouTube includes the interlude, as it and the track itself are heard best in that seamless succession.
The same class of honest emotion exuded in Smith’s track can be heard on Loyle Carner’s Sun of Jean. Scrumptious lyricism throughout, as is to be expected ‘We just supported Nas, whose world is this bruv, of course it’s ours.’ The track ends with a poem read by Carner’s mother, it speaks for itself.
On the electronic front, some massively diverse music has come to the fore this year. Rough electro sears across Helena Hauff’s Do You Really Think Like that. Although I haven’t listened to dance music much this year I keep coming back to this track. A lot softer is Morning Shift from Project Pablo, a great track for a daytime stroll.
However, I think my favourite dance track of the year is _Asstnt & Roll Dann’s Chronicle of a Love Foretold. I only just came across this tune a few weeks ago but it’s absolutely fantastic. It has some absolutely beautiful melodies which are supplemented by a hefty breakbeat rhythm, would love to hear it played out somewhere. This one’s from Involve Records’ 5 Years In Love with Involve Compilation, one of the best techno records I’ve heard in a while.
Elsewhere on the electronic front I’ve included Four Tet’s Scientists, The Cyclist’s Antiexist and Lanark Artefax’s Touch Absence. In moments of downtime when feeling a little bit spent it’s always good to listen to some slightly more downtempo and at times melancholy stuff to soothe the soul. These three tracks come from three great albums which have more of the same. Four Tet has not faltered even a little over the years, whilst The Cyclist and Lanark Artefax are definitely ones to watch.
Keeping in with my listening habits this year, my choices are kept 100% electronic with a decent split between club music and more ambient tunes. I must admit that a lot of the stuff I’ve had in my playlists hasn’t been released this year, but I did boil down my choices to 9 solid tracks to complement Aiden’s 11. COSH’s “30 years under the waves” EP only came out last month, but I’ve had it on repeat ever since and Waven has definitely been my pick of the lot from that release. In moments of sadness or despair, I’ve found this to provide me with some relief. The same can be said for Drift from Bicep’s self-titled debut album. It was just impossible for me to not include something from their debut full-length, and Drift was my top pick. It showed a deeper side to the Belfast duo that we’ve not really had the chance to hear before but it’s something I’d definitely love to see them explore in more depth in the future. Keeping on the ambient side of things is the Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini collaboration Water. One that just never gets old, it was interesting to see how this collab worked out so well and produced one of my favourite electronic moments of the year, a tune to easily and readily get lost in. Perhaps my favourite ambient selection of the year though came from 36 with his tune Hold On. I must admit, this tune originally came out in 2015 but it received a remastered re-release this year and was just too hard to not include on this list. A mind-altering piece of music that is purely life-affirming, I don’t think I’ve heard anything so lush in a long, long time.
Moving onto slightly more clubby cuts, Orissa from Wayward was an outstanding piece of dance music that sits nicely between pop and house while maintaining a definite originality. My favourite part of this tune has to be the melody line, evoking a lovely bit of melancholy. I picked up a fair few breaks tracks this year, and V3R5U5 by Phon.o was a tune I had on repeat when practicing my DJing. A real deep roller for peak time, this is an unadulterated bomb. Kölsch dropped a slightly underwhelming album this year for me, but LP closer Goodbye is one of my favourite productions from him. Emotional, unique but also club ready. I can just imagine with pure bliss this track being dropped as the sun is coming up on a beach somewhere. Steffi was another artist with a new album out this year that I really enjoyed. Going for the record closer again, Cease to Exist is an electro-tinged weapon ready for taking things up a notch. Finishing things off on my list is Voiski’s techno-trance weapon Tin, There. A rework of an old underworld tune, a doofy, melodic and intense bitta techno which quickly rose to one of my favourites from 2017.
To all of our followers out there, we wish you all the best over Christmas and hope yas have an enjoyable few days with family and friends. This mix should certainly help you get in the festive spirit and features an assortment of jazz, classical and blues to make ya feel all warm and joyful on the inside. I especially love how Frahm and Torsten Posselt use really old, slightly damaged records that give off that warm feeling from the vinyl crackling.
We’ve a couple of end of year round ups coming up over the next few days and then we’ll have some big tings planned for the new year too.
To everyone who’s supported, viewed, shared, loved/hated everything we’ve done over the past 9 or so months since we started the blog – thank you. Sharing music is a beautiful thing and it’s amazing to see the love we’re putting on tunes being reciprocated back to us from everyone who views the site and shares our stuff.