The Range is a relatively new artist to the bigger electronic scene, and Potential has put his work another rung or three up the ladder. One of the show’s favorites of the year, it’s got a fascinating, dynamic vibe throughout. Sometimes it has a House hint, then a UK Bass vibe, and, well, just listen…
Moderat is the collaboration between Apparat and Modeskeletor, whose third release “III” has made a big impression on the show this year. A great blend of expert electronic production and solid vocals, hooks, and the like. One of my favorites of 2016 so far.
This duo called Bob Moses, who I’d previously thought to be a single artist, have really been on the radar lately. They performed recently in the studios of KEXP and were a relatively high-profile act at SXSW 2016. I encouraged a few people to listen and they were very enthusiastic about the sound.
Do check out their release called Days Gone By on the Domino label: here
Enjoy the performance at KEXP also:
I’m not known to do this on an annual basis, but, what the heck. Here are the most influential albums on Nerd Show in 2014:
Hail Mary Mallon – Bestiary
The “other” dynamic hip-hop supergroup/duo to release an album this year (that we cared about). Bestiary takes Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic’s trip even further and feels very polished, heavy, a bit more genuine, and it feels more NYC than SFO. Some of the tunes even feel like they’re about 10 years old or so, from the Blockhead era. Dope.
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2
What more can be said? Top to bottom this is an album that makes you want to both smoke a cigarette and put it on again immediately. El is in an incredible groove with his production, and the pacing of these two emcees is almost without approach. HMM is the only album I can even compare to this, and that’s praise of both.
Clark – Clark
A late album in the year, this is a bit of a return to earlier days for Clark, but without the very harsh working of his modulars. This one can be on repeat for days and really only gets better.
Aphex Twin – Syro
Full disclosure – I am not an RDJ fan, in the same way that many of those awaiting his 2014 return are, but I _respect_ his work. This album reminded me in many ways of the Boards of Canada release of last year, in that it was a new album, but time changes artists. I did, however, hear fewer cries of this “not being the same” from Aphex as I did from BoC. This is a very good album, and the artist really has found some bit of maturity with time, though the vigor remains strong.
Jon Hopkins – Immunity
I slept on this release for much of the year, only having received the remixes, but dug deeper when I watched the incredible KEXP performances available on their YouTube channel. Jon is a fantastic producer and his live performances are more genuine than many electronic artists. His Asleep Versions slow down the pacing and tempo dramatically, a nice contrast to the elegance of the album’s pacing, which is subtly on the brink of Tech House and IDM.
Com Truise – Wave 1
Truise’ work has always been a bit too harsh for me, akin to early Clark, so few tracks were approachable. Wave 1 represents a conscious shift by the artist to be a _bit_ more approachable, and it worked. The long EP is filled with terrific tracks with his trademark futuristic style and retro vibe. Those kicks.
Machinedrum – Vapor City releases
The idea that Machinedrum has a fully-fleshed city in his head, and this is the soundtrack to the tour, is amazing. There were at least two albums of work released during 2014, and much to the amusement of the artist, Pitchfork called it too much. Please, can we ever have too much Machinedrum? Maybe. This is an artist of broad vision, but one who has a very strong sound identity. This pervades most of the Vapor City tracks and the tour is long, but never boring.
Nils Frahm – Spaces
I honestly didn’t know what to make of this one when it came across the desk. Clearly a brilliant work, but many of the tracks were long, or the logical tracks were a medley, and how do I present piano music on the show? Well, the brilliance of repeated listening, and the awesome live performances easily accessed on YouTube on channels like KEXP, attest to the performance chops and enthusiastic nature of how Nils performs. Yes, Spaces is just a bunch of various work, mostly from live performances, but it’s been a gateway for myself and others to find awe in his work.
Roman FlÃ¼gel – Happiness Is Happening
This one is odd. It’s pretty much a tech house album, but as with all things and genres in time, the boundaries get stretched. From track-to-track Roman switches up the idea of House on us. There are tracks on here, like Parade, that sound like they were Kraftwerk cast-offs, but on the following track we find a deep tech house beauty, soothing, while driving. An amusing album, which amazes on repeated listens, not unlike Clark’s self-titled.
Â Heal – Kyote
Topping my obscure list is this gem from the local Damn Son! label. Soothing, atmospheric, Healing even. This album feel like a long, relaxing dream journey through various lands, but I suspect it’s got a lot to do with its title’s original language, Japanese, which spoken samples of which are on several tracks. I can relate, having spent a bit of time in Japan.
Kodomo – Patterns & Light
This represents a collaborative effort between many members of a community formed around a Turntable.FM room called Eclectica Shmectica. Upon joining the room for the first time just on a year ago, I was bombarded by original music from many of the room’s regulars, and queried as to whether or not I had anything original. I didn’t, at the time, but I have been impressed upon and inspired to work with many of this group on other projects.
This project is part of the RPM Challenge for 2013. It’s goal is to get an album made in 30 days, and we did just that. This mix represents many hours of work by many artists, including myself, and a mix which I was able to make (one of two for the challenge).
More information at:
|I Can Smell Sleep||Mooncrayon|
|Mitternachtss Nack||Hubble Bubble|
|What the Fuck Am I Doing With My Life||DanTron McTronDan|
|Super Cow Licked Fragile Lipstick Eggs Be Pallid Oat Chips||GG|
|What Will You Find Out There||MoonCrayon|
There are many artists out there trying to find exposure. There are many DJs looking for music they like. Sometimes it finds them.
Astronautica is one of the many sounds I enjoy listening to and playing on Nerd Show, and I think you should consider the free download of her album on Bandcamp:
I’ve not been disappointed. Not one bit.
This is going to be quick and dirty. We’re talking about nearly 300 tracks to listen to, all told. Lots of good stuff too, as if there weren’t enough excellent music out there right now…
3:33 – EP-1
The definition of Crunchy Hip-Hop. Heavy basslines, distorted drum beats, distant synthesizers and noises sampled from the darkest depths of the meanest subways in the world. Short-ish, but very much a complete meal. I’d really like to hear a mashup of some of these cuts with one of my favorite MCs. 333N3, 333EP1, 333EP2, 333N4 and 333DIRT all make, as I mentioned elsewhere, “Cracker Jacks seem downright mushy”.
Errors – Come Down With Me
Once or twice a year I’ll get an album like this. It reminds me of a crossover between Holy Fuck and, say, Cut Copy. Instrumental, but with a lot of drive, however, non-confrontational. This is an album that wants you to groove along. Very well administered electronic components and effects make it a step or two above many acts who give it a whirl. I was surprised that only the final track, Beards, wasn’t at least a four-star. A Rumour in Africa, The Erskine Bridge, and Germany are my favorites.
Fabriclive 57: Jackmaster
Oh sweet days, more Fabric releases. I made a few inquiries and was rewarded with more than I expected. For this treat, we’ve got what is a Fabric release that fits solidly into the dance floor. This is 70 minutes of music from the best clubs in the world, some new, many old, and some forgotten till now. It’s a combination of House, Hip-Hop, Florida Bass, European garage, German eccentricities and the like. Lots to like here, some stuff I’m not too fond of, but this is an album focused on the dancing, and it pulls no punches. Model 500’s Night Drive, Anthony Shakir’s Plugged In, Splack Pack’s Scrub Da Ground, and Hudson Mohawke’s Fuse are only a few of my favorite tracks on this delightful dancehall release.
Gorillaz – The Fall
Let me be clear in that I’ve never been a Gorillaz fan. I respect some of their work and innovations. November Has Come is still my favorite track of theirs, if ONLY because it features MF Doom’s voice. The Fall was edited completely on an iPad, which is surely a first for a release of this caliber. It sounds a bit like it, too, but perhaps that explains why I’ve been impressed by a few tracks. On Revolving Doors, Hillbilly Man, and The Snake in Dallas, all things fall into place and this good album finds its great moments for me.
Atmosphere – The Family Sign
Slug and Ant bring to the table their seventh full-length release. It’s been a bit since we were treated to When Life Gives You Lemons…and it feels to me like Slug has gone from tortured soul to insightful storyteller, to our benefit. While I don’t like this album as much as You Can’t Imagine.. and God Loves Ugly, it feels better, even when the topics are depressing. Slug’s presence on these tracks is almost mesmerizing at times, and it’s hard to concentrate on anything but the story. It’s compelling, and that’s why we love Atmosphere and their flavor of Hip-Hop. Became, Just for Show, She’s Enough, Millennium Dodo, If You Can Save Me Now, and My Notes are very choice cuts indeed.
2562 – Fever
Imagine my delight when I found this one available. Any Craftstep fan like myself knows that 2562’s place in the arena of a post-Dubstep world was long ago solidified. Fever isn’t more of the same, it’s even better. There’s a delicate methodology required to make this sort of music not feel cacophonous, and with few exceptions, Fever has done that solidly. Winamp Melodrama, Cheater, Aquatic Family Affair, Intermission, and This Is Hardcore are my favorite tracks.
Graham Knox Frazier – Conna Dig This
I’ll admit that House has been a favorite of mine from many moons ago, and it’s not hard to believe that quality House is still being crafted today. GKF has done his homework and isn’t breaking any new ground with this release, but with a formula so well tested, this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, this could almost be called minimalist by some standards. The typical house beat, some synths, and a vocal sample are the most common formula. Nothing much extra, just good stuff here. Check out And House Music, Something Special, and Bonus Beats for my recommended tracks.
Findlay Brown – Promised Land Single
The original track is a bit of a 70s-era throwback in all the right ways. A good track, but there’s no way I’d play it on my show. However, as is commonplace nowadays, remixes accompany. The Hypnolove remix tweaks the original and makes it less a muzak track and morph it smoothly into a calm, electronic tune much more suited to the show. A few of the other mixes are decent, but move in the wrong direction for my taste.
Mr. Pauer – Soundtrack
Another South American artist finds his way to me, to great effect. The opening track is intriguing, while the second, featuring Itagui is less so. The third is where I get very interested. Its reinforcement of the vibe I heard earlier is certain, and I can’t help but bob my head to the beat. The use of more traditional South American beats and influences combines very well with electronic sampling, beats, and synthesizers. It’s a really fun blend. I quite enjoy Escaping, Get Me High, and Mente De Mente.
Daft Punk – Tron Legacy R3c0nf1gur3d
Take a damned fine musical score/soundtrack by the world renowned duo Daft Punk and give it to some of the best electronic artists in the world for a bit of a retouch and see what happens. Tracks like Derezzed get treated by The Glitch Mob and Avicil, Paul Oakenfold reworks C.L.U., The Crystal Method blasts The Grid/Game Has Changed, and Photek reimagines End of Line. All told, fans of the original are probably fans of Daft Punk, and they’ll appreciate the liberties taken by Moby, Kaskade, and others. This is a very good companion to the original. Really like it.
younger Brother – Vaccine
This was a surprise until I did a little research. It turns out that the music for this release was made by one of the guys from Shpongle, of whom I’ve been a long time fan. That’s a pretty solid basis, but it’s easy to screw it up with terrible vocals. Good thing Benji Vaughan has a voice to match the music. The combination makes for something kinda unusual in music that I’ve heard for a while. Few male vocalists sing over this style of electronic music, and perhaps that’s why I like this album so much. There aren’t any bad tracks, seriously.
Blueprint – Adventures in Counter-Culture
I knew this was going to be one of those albums I’d like a few tracks from and hav a lot of trouble with the rest. I was right. Go Hard or Go Home, My Culture, So Alive, and Stole Our Yesterday are definitely standout tracks, The rest, for reasons that I haven’t been able to grasp, don’t compete. He’s certainly talented, and even the tracks I don’t like are better than, say, Del’s latest, but this would be a far more compelling album if it wasn’t such a crapshoot.
Second Sky – The Art of Influence
Ah, how sweet is this? I’d heard a few tidbits of their work in the past but never a full release. This trio, unsurprisingly signed to ESL, the label of Thievery Corporation, take us on a full-length downtempo, chill, tour of the world. I had a good feeling this would be one of those uncommon five-star albums, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is music that takes cues from every form of cultural music there is, from Hip-Hop, Reggae, Dub, India, Spain, Africa, and beyond. It’s a rare treat, and one I’ll be enjoying for years to come.
Fabric 57: Agoria
The first Fabric release I’ve had in at least six months, this one is a journey in the truest Fabric way. Agoria gives us a House and Progressive House treat all the way through. Its as diverse as I’ve heard, and there’s not a bad track on the whole release. Top Fabric quality, and I’ll have fun playing some of these cuts on the show for sure.
Dam Mantle – First Wave
This one is another I can put in the Craftstep bin, and it’s not what I was surprising from a release I received on physical media. There are many samples blended in amidst the heavily dubstep-influenced tracks. Certainly a very broadly spaced album, it does have some notable tracks including Theatre, Broken Slumber, D2, and Movement. I’m pleased that there are some more cohesive tracks on this album, as I know artists within these genres tend to get a bit crazy sometimes. I do hope to hear more from them in the future.
French Horn Rebellion – The Infinite Music of…
How could this be any good, with a name like that? I’m as surprised as you might be that I didn’t just delete it after the first listen. However, from the first track I was teased onward. Broken Heart finally convinced me that yes, this was an album I need to pay more attention to. Heavy synthesizers, beats, and male vocals can give me a headache, but the production does wonders and there are simply interesting sounds here. Brasilia Girl, Mawson’s Peak, and What I Want are some of the more interesting cuts on the album. Interesting, for sure, and I might even be able to see them live.
UNKLE – Only the Lonely
UNKLE are a group I can compare with, say, Atmosphere in some ways. I’ve loved some of their past releases, and consider them canon in the annals of music. However, more recent releases have fallen a bit flat. Only the Lonely, with a track featuring Nick Cave, is basically an EP with two great tracks. Only the Lonely (dub), and The Dog is Black are more interesting than the rest and help me maintain my faith that UNKLE will find its way out of the darkish funk they’ve been in for a while. I want something more inspired.
Slugabed – Moonbeam Rider EP
On of the newest on Ninja Tune, this guy gets my respect for that alone. This kinda reminds me of Rustie, but less trippy and noisy. I did have to go through and listen to this EP twice before giving it solid ratings, so different was it from what I was listening to before and from what I expected. Heck Flex and tomorrow morning are the sort of tracks I’m looking forward to hearing from his solo work in the future.
Chancha Via Circuito – Rio Arriba
I like this guy. An Argentine with a Cumbian heartbeat, I’ll be playing this music for years to come. Similar to Mr. Pauer’s re-imagining of his influences, Chancha takes the ever-diversifying Cumbian genre and runs it through the wringer. It’s better for my Western ears, and it’s much more interesting too. Cuts like Puente, Cumbion de las Aves, Pintar el Sol, Prima, and Amelia are among my favorites. This is a heavy album with much to share. I shall do so in turn.
Matthew Dear – Slowdance EP
Hmm, I like the Todd Edwards remix of Slowdance and Innh Dahh, and didn’t really care for much else. I really would rather the original track be better than the remixes, or at least hold its own. Could be worse.
Moving Units – Tension War
Wannabe The Faint. Skip it.
Wagon Christ – Toomorrow
An interesting album, and as I mentioned during a review of a single from this album, it’s very similar in feel to Negativeland, but with some more musical insight instead of being so heavily reliant on samples to tell the story. Tracks like Toomorrow, Ain’t He Heavy, He’s My Brother, and Wake Up are definitely interesting. I am not surprised that, similar to Negativland, I have a hard time with some of the other work. There are very good tracks on this album, but I wish there were more.
Young Athletes League – We Only Feed Ourselves
Received as part of a package from Ninja Tune, this was a surprise. I didn’t expect the three tracks to be as good as they are. This music resides at a weird crossroads where many have fallen. It’s simple, and simpler to get wrong. It’s very hard to make this kind of music and do it well. How can I even describe it? Easy: intriguing.
Eskmo – We Got More / Moving Glowstream
Eskmo is an interesting sound. I would have preferred his album to be instrumental, but it wasn’t. In this case, two tracks that I was a bit of the five-star fence about are given to Amon Tobin, Slugabed, and others. There are some good retouches, but there are other tracks from this album that would’ve been better choices.
Del – Golden Era
I wish I could say that I’ve been a Del fan since (insert early guest cameo here), but, truth be told, he’s always rubbed me the wrong way. The problem with Del is that he’s an MC who needs a DJ and a producer who can blend, yes BLEND Del into the music instead of putting him front and center. On the Gorillaz track, Clint Eastwood, Del fits into the track instead of standing on a soapbox, churning the same lyrics he has for (insert number of years from Wikipedia).
One Out of A Million is a great track because he fits in. Not sure what “diesel” has to do with anything, but recycling the phrase on other tracks dilutes the phrase. Vocal effects are also neat, but choral and wide effects layered over a very noisy, cacophonous track like Pearly Gates make me cringe. The rest of the album doesn’t change my opinion. Nearly every track is confrontational, talking about “the game”, “haters”, etc…stop talking so much about the art and participate.
And I wish I could even like the beats, but alas, no.
Well, at least I have one track I can spin…
Gold Panda – Companion
Lucky Shiner was the first I’d heard from Gold Panda, and I really liked what I heard. Companion follows in its footsteps with the mysterious, little encapsulated worlds Gold Panda creates each track. Fifth Ave could be held inside your hand, it feels so tightly woven. Like Totally makes me think of looking out on a Winter courtyard. Back Home is a fast-forward video blog of traveling through airports and taxis and hotels and sitting down to a drink on your couch, all done through a fisheye lens. Lonely Owl kinda, well, sounds like the track name and is very contemplative till about halfway in, where the Owl in question most certainly leaves its perch.
The attention to detail is what I hear here, though the Sennheisers, and it makes me think of many other artists in this veing, including Daedelus, Shigeto, and Four Tet, among others. I’ll return to the comment I’ve made about giving equal tools to artists and getting wildly varying results. These are the results I want.
He’s also not content to let you sit still, gazing unfocused, because tracks like Mayuri are certainly made for a loud, bass-filled dancehall with several hundred people.
A few tracks are a bit more experimental, Long Vacation included, where the artist falls into the entertaining “noisy” track vibe, where every nutty nugget of sound gets tossed in. Triangle Cloud also succumbs to some of the wandering synth piano/808 fiddling/panning synth bloop treatment. Win-San Western follows with an unexpected DnB journey, with plenty of Amen Break beats also. Police sounds like, perhaps, what a fly, on acid, with a taste for Progressive Trance, would trip if he were stuck to the grille of a cop car…maybe.
This album oozes character, and these are the types of albums I always come back to. They’re the tracks that, when your music is shuffling, you smile at. I certainly don’t like all of the tracks, but there are plenty here to love.
Noan23 – Fry Cook On Venus
First I’ve heard of this guy. Shame the album isn’t clean and that the promotional company clearly didn’t pay much attention to the FCC-clean tracks. The two tracks on the album I like, Fry Cook On Venus, and Old Dog, are certainly not airplay-able. It’s a shame, because while much of the album is plagued by whatever the “indie hip-hop” sound is supposed to be, those two really do work well for me.
Noah has an interesting presence on the mic, and when those beats are on, it’s on. Kinda reminds me of Sims, to be honest. He’s got a knack for storytelling, and the rhymes back him up.
Noah23 certainly has a place in Hip-Hop that needs to have strong acts like his. I think.
We Are Enfant Terrible – Explicit Pictures
Strange sound here that I’ve heard before, cringed at before, and deleted entire albums in minutes because of. WAET blend some kind of indie rock with 8-bit “chiptune” music, and don’t do it nearly as irritating as many other acts I’ve been unfortunate enough to hear. I don’t like, and have a hard time appreciating, dissonance. Tune is important to me.
Filthy Love, the second cut, made me hesitate and listen closer to the rest of the album. Shame it’s the strongest track, because it’s really good. I beat and bass guitar-heavy tunes with interesting vocals, but they’re so rarely done right. This one is.
The rest of the album generally goes by this formula: 8-bit intro then blend with guitars and drums with a synth. Cue vocals. Next track 3 minutes later. It’s a decent formula, really.
This is an interesting album, but pretty forgettable. I feel that it might grow on me with subsequent listens, but, if I’m honest, I don’t think I have the time to spend on it. I’m just glad that there’s at least one track worthy of play.
Groundislava – Groundislava
Well, yeah, the ground was lava at least once. No matter where you stand, you can be guaranteed that those atoms were once inside the molten Earth. It’s harder to know where I stand on this album. It’s got some interesting textures, and kinda sounds like a relaxed Exkmo at times. Panorama (feat. Weary) is an interesting track, though I prefer the Clive Tanaka remix to the album version.
I wish these guys would have chilled just a little. This album would be more enjoyable and listenable if the entire character of a track didn’t change 40 seconds in, then again another forty later. Young Lava or not, it’s annoying.
Final Impasse, Animal (feat. Weary), and the Clive Tanaka remix of Panorama are my favorite tracks and those I will be playing on air. They’ve got the elements that I love from this kind of music, without the schizophrenic changes or harshness many of the other tracks employ.
Mexicans With Guns – Highway to Hell
It’s got Freddie Gibbs. It’s got organs. It’s got lots of heavy basslines. I’m game.
Innerpartysystem – Never Be Content EP
These guys remind me of Daft Punk for some reason. Maybe it’s the synth voice. Maybe it’s the heavy use of sawtooth synth patterns. It’s almost danceable. I don’t like Daft Punk, or, generally speaking, tracks like American Trash.
I do like solid cuts like Out of Touch and Squid. It’s the solid beats, the prog house vocals and lyrics. I could speed these up about 30 BPM and they’d really be danceable. I like that. I want to hear more, and I am going to like a few of these tracks for a long time.
Wiz Khalifa – Rolling Papers
Eh. The first few cuts of this album have some interesting properties. When I’m Gone, On My Leve, Black and Yellow, and Wake Up are pretty solid, if only because the beats are good. Wiz hold up his end, I guess. These are the club tracks, so I’m being unusually kind because they’re actually done well.
The lyrics, through and through, are rubbish. I could give a damn how many bottles of (insert trendy liquor here) you buy at your table in the club, how you buy expensive clothes for your hoes, the stacks of money, and how you were misunderstood “back in the day”. It’s tripe. I could care less.
These are the kinds of cuts that I would play in a club, loud, because the bass is strong and the chorus is catchy. That’s pretty much it. Wiz is kinda worthless. Hell, even Del is more interesting than this cat. Don’t take my word for it, Ghostface Killah rates him #4 on his list of the ten “softest” rappers in the game. I see it.
Maybe I’ll get a club gig and bump some of these. Maybe.