Monday Music: Aether, CHVRN, Ray LaMontagne, neftone & Sekai Selects!

9kieHIzThis week, I’m back to focusing on the relaxed end of the spectrum. These tunes are great for kicking back, driving slowly up the coast, or even just post-gaming with your friends after a dope night out. But enough from me, let’s get into the music!

Aether features Enzalla, who provides a stellar vocal focus that the chill/ambient feels are layered under. Soothing piano & pad work mesh with the exquisite chord rolls that dot the song. Kick back & relax to enjoy this one.

CHVRN took me by total surprise in the mix that I’ve linked below. This is exactly what we need more of. Massive chilltrap that’s ethereal, bombastic and massive. It’s so rare here in NYC, and frankly, I’d be happy as a pig in shit if someone threw a 6hr event and dropped nothing but this. But, it won’t happen without your help. Show CHVRN some love on this and other dope chilled artists, so we can get them booked on this side of the pond.
Subsets never tries to be anything what it is best at being. Smooth ambient, continuing the padwork and soft bass theme I’ve been digging on recently. Great example of the backbone of any legit Sunday morning chill out set, and really hope inducing when it comes to emerging artists on the downtempo side of things.
neftone wasn’t someone I’d heard of before some sonic exploration this week, but I gotta say, there’s some great work here. It’s more on the old school funky hip hop side of things (imo), rather than instrumental chillwave, but if you get angry that I’m misclassifying this, I think you might be missing the point.

Ray LaMontagne came from a very unlikely source this week. I read a blog written by industry insider & critic Bob Lefsetz, and if you don’t, you really need to. Especially if you’re under the age of 25. This guy’s been watching the game for longer than Martin Garrix has been pooping in toilets. He turned me on to this new, Pink Floyd sounding release by LaMontagne. Not something I usually come across, so I absolutely have to signal boost this.

Closing out is a mix that caught my attention and repeated plays over the last couple of weeks. Sekai Selects dropped this dope Future Chill/Trap compilation, and I’m so glad they did. A particular favorite part is 21 min in, great example of what this aural aesthetic can sound like. When you run a music blog you get a lot of embedded music in emails. Sekai Collective is one of the few that never get deleted. Every single tune gets listened to, and they’re usually the bomb dot com. Drift away with this mix, and may your week be smooth.

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Monday Music: Disclosure, Kuren, Miike Snow, Cruel Youth & Mikael Seifu

This week, Monday Music is global once again! From the UK to Australia to Ethiopia, I’ve got a bunch of slickly produced, dope tunes that have been begging for your attention all weekend. Don’t leave them hanging ok?
First up, direct from Disclosure, a new VIP rework of Nocturnal. If you’ve seen them live you might be lucky enough to have heard this version, but it’s definitely a rare play for the rest of us. Not a whole lot to say about the UK Garage House savants that are Disclosure so, enjoy!

Kuren has been on my radar for a minute, steadily producing chill vibes of the highest quality. The wunderkind from down under re-imagined Better by BANKS and his signature style, infusing soulful and melodic elements into Aussie Bass & Future Trap, is in full effect here. Great start to 2016 for Kuren and this will be his year, you watch.
Miike Snow exists on the quieter, eclectic side of indietronica in my opinion. They’ve got an almost Royksopp-sound to them when they want, but are successful enough that they can get away with high concept videos like this. The timelapse creation process of the eventual symbol/animal the band is known for is a meditative, almost soothing experience. Put it on when you need to take a breath but still keep pushing forward.
https://soundcloud.com/igetrvng/mikael-seifu-how-to-save-a-life-vector-of-eternity by
This track hit my feeds care of Stamp The Wax, a cheeky UK music blog I follow. While the first 1:45 may seem a bit pedestrian, skip ahead or stick with it. 1:50 pulls into a surprisingly powerful deep groove using ethnic Ethiopian instruments and some powerful composition. It’s a much better track at that point and stays that way for the rest of the 6 minute odyssey. Very forward looking, while being something I would have literally never come across otherwise. Kudos to RVNG Intl. & Stamp The Wax for making sure I didn’t miss this.

Fresh New Tracks turned me onto Cruel Youth over the weekend, and I couldn’t stop myself from insta-sharing the track. This new sound is spectacular. Cruel Youth made me go look up what drug she’s referring to in the track, and it turns out, (Mr.) Watson is another word for hydrocodone & opiate pills. It’s got a serious Amy Winehouse tragic pop vibe. I really hope we can get to this one before they die of a heroin overdose. She’s going to be a star, and when it happens, you’ll know Fresh New Tracks & I called it.

Ten Questions With Terry Gotham: Escher Beat

Thrilled to bring you the debut album from a stupendously talented Brooklyn producer. This effort is a departure from his previous work, so I’m delighted he spoke to me first about his new project, that drops TODAY, Escher Beat.1. How did Escher Beat come about? Escher Beat has been this nebulous concept in my head for a long time now. It’s hard to define when it was born- It’s like how some cultures consider the birth of a child to be when they first had the thought of creating one, as opposed to copulation, or the release of it into the real world. A lot of the stuff on the album has been in my head for ages but only now have I had the skill to get it written down and expressed in a somewhat proper form.

The album (and thus project)’s “copulation” began in 2012, when I was shying away from “23” as a project. I made the intro of the opening track (“Inter-Universal Transmission No. 2”), trying to make music that I thought I truly should be making. It was a good start but I found I did not have the skills to keep going forward. I also had a busy life finishing school and starting my career in NYC. But in the 2-3 years since then, I’d practice sound design, practice alternate forms of music, small things to up my skill set.

About 9 months ago, I said “alright, it’s time to actually try this again”. Over the course of 8 months, I wrote the album in a concerted effort. The last thing I wrote was follow up to the intro in the first track, which I thought was a nice conceptual way of completing the circle/journey.

2. What is it like being a closet producer living in Brooklyn right now? Depends what you mean by closet producer! Technically I work in a DIY-level dedicated studio. The room isn’t huge but it is covered in a professional level of bass traps with a properly set up and calibrated monitoring system, instruments, synths, etc. But in the sense that I just sit down and woodshed production for hours on end alone without telling anyone, you could say I’m a closet producer. It’s hard not to talk about what you’re working on. But it’s for the better because the more you talk about it, the less likely you are to complete it, I think. Less talk, more do.

Brooklyn is great because of the sheer number of musicians and artists around. I hope to take advantage of that in future work!

3. You had some success a couple of years ago producing dubstep under the alias 23, why did you decide to switch projects? I’ll try to keep it concise. I think 23 blew up faster than I was ready for. I was a one trick pony, and I painted myself into this dubstep corner. I began to become disillusioned with the progress of dubstep, and came to hate it. What happens when the only music you can reliably make is music you hate? That’s where the track “Fuck You (If You Like This Song)” came from; it was a frustrated irony.

I still consider my name to be the person named 23, but the work associated with it, I no longer identify with. It was a natural progression to make a new project for a more evolved sound.

4. What would be the ideal setting for listening to your music? Any altered state is a good start. The album isn’t just sound. There’s multiple layers of head-fuckery going on. I’ve used psychological setups and traps to influence the effect of sections of music based on the previous sections. There are sounds that bend and morph, and some things are so subtle, you need that altered state to obtain the perspective necessary to perceive it. These are some of my favorite moments in music, realizing the album you’ve been listening to for years had some hidden aspect to it you hadn’t unlocked.

I think a good stereo setup with a sub, with a bed in the center is a nice way. The album has very danceable moments, but they’re never too intense, so I think they’re still relaxation-worthy if you’d like to do home listening.

For dance purposes, I really want to see how it does on a big sound system with people who are really into dancing. There’s some funky grooves and heavy syncopation that, at least from my perspective as a dancer, lends its self to some really fun times dancing.

Without a doubt though, the album is best listened to all the way through. When you take the songs out of context, you begin to lose some of the “magic” so to speak.

5. How do you produce these incredible tracks? Can you give us any peaks into the method to your madness? I constantly have general ideas in my head about stuff I want to try. For example, in the second track (“James Brown…”) there’s this build up to this complete breakdown of the sound all together that then filters up and becomes a completely unique element of a completely unrelated beat. THAT kind of stuff is the essence of an “Escher Beat”. I had that concept in my mind for a long time, and that wasn’t even my first attempt at it.

After a concept is decided on, if any (sometimes things begin with a sound test or a jam) the writing process its self can be very…. automatic. There are times where I feel more like the music is written through me, or that I’m merely writing down what was already supposed to come next. My best music just happens, it becomes obvious to me. Sometimes, especially with long studio sessions, I’ll come back in a week later and forgot I wrote entire sections of music.

I guess that’s expected when you stay up for 24-48 (on rare occasion, 72) hours in a room with no windows. Definitely gets weird by the end of a session.

6. Do you have any preferred medium for performing live or strong opinions on the whole vinyl/laptop/cdj wars? Right now I work off Traktor cause that’s what I’ve always done. For someone who produces music, it can be a bit limiting, but I’m so familiar with the limitations and how to get around them that it’s a good old standby.

In the future I’d like to do Ableton live stuff. But I’m busy as fuck so that learning curve has kept me at bay for now. I’d really love to be able to re-fuck, re-mix, and re-contextualize things on the fly.

As to opinions on live mediums, I don’t think the medium matters at this point. Does the music sound good? That’s all that matters to me. I don’t go to shows to watch guys idly spin knobs or pretend they’re busy looking through a record bag. If the music is good, it’s good.

7. Are there any cool things happening in electronic music that you’re really into at the moment that our readers may not be aware of? A sub-genre or a new party or thing the kids are doing under the cover of darkness that you’re into? Honestly I hear good, new music every damn day. I love some of the more down tempo neuro stuff going on like Aio – Steam Prism, and also a lot of chill wave, and other really trippy beats. People are constantly putting out cool shit and a lot of it gets little to no attention.

I’d like to see this more progressive music at events. You’d think in such a forward city (when it comes to things like art and fashion) you’d see more interesting music at big events, and it certainly exists, but not at a reasonable scale. Like anywhere else, it seems most people in BK and NYC want that familiarity. Few people REALLY get into dance (dance, not dance music) and I think that’s a big reason why. When you have a strong dance vocabulary, new kinds of music means more ways to express yourself, as opposed to non-dancers who want to jam to familiar tunes (typically).

8. If I could wave my magic wand and get you a headlining slot anywhere in the world, where would you like to spin? I’d want to spin somewhere that has both a dancefloor, and places to relax, with lots of interactive and immersive artwork. Maybe something like DJing to people wandering a technological hedge maze/hall of mirrors that leads to different dancefloors with different art installations. I’m not sure it exists, at least all in one event. What I’m trying to say is the idea of me headlining a big crowd isn’t what I’m after. I’m about unique experiences and immersion, which have functional limitations in regards to scalability. I hate the idea of exclusivity, elitism, etc, but practically speaking, immersion isn’t possible when you have too many people. Except immersion in a crowd, but that’s why Big Room House came out. No thanks.

9. Any favorite plug-in’s, programs, pieces of hardware, or other music creation tools that you couldn’t have created the album without? A lot of the edits are by hand, and just layers upon layers of sound, with pretty basic plugins most of the time. When it comes to synths, if I didn’t have one, it’d be another. Most common VST is probably just my EQ. It’s less about the tools and more about the vision.

10. Are there any sonic influences that you couldn’t have arrived at this point without? Favorite producers, musical teachers, life-changing parties, etc? There have been a lot of nights at Burning Man where I heard music that I have never heard again that just blew my mind. I didn’t know how to classify it. But it was groovy. And when the DJs were done, they disappeared. Only recently have I been seeing music *similar* to this hitting the public sphere. Maybe it’s there and I just can’t find it. In a sense, this album is my version/interpretation of that hard to classify, but groovy vibe.

More often than not, people have been comparing the album to people I never listen to. A lot (not all) of my strong musical influences either have little to do with modern electronic music, or aren’t even music related at all. I’ll leave it at that because I want the album to be understood personally, not directed by me. I’ve done enough direction by writing the music its self.

Buy the album here!

Midweek Music: Chill With Haven, Unforseen & glo!

summerYou’re going to like what’s up today. Especially if you’re a fan of the more meditative, less bro-infused beats of the chillstep, chilltrap & downtempo universe. Two of my favorite new acquisitions this season, Haven & glo, are here. There’s an original from unforseen, another artist on this tip. This is the opposite of the rampaging armies of EDM out there. Take a minute, sit, relax, breathe & enjoy.
This is my jam right here. Trap Nation picked it up,  you know it’s not like me to sing the praises of trap too loudly. This kind of shimmering chilled but massive vibe is where I think that genre needs to go, hard and fast. Haven proves his chops as a producer with impeccable timing and wonderful execution.
There really is so little like this out there. Haven & glo working together on this one, building a soundscape that shines through the clouds. A muzzled backbeat, soaring vocals and a tempo that never rushes. What more could you ask for?
This, actually. Haven teamed up with glo again recently and this track is the softest fire I’ve heard in years. The subtle intensity of the production almost overwhelms the chillness of the tune, but it never quite gets there.
A gorgeous piece in its minimalist build, sweeping vibe and entire lack of a beat. That’s right folks, there’s not one here. “i never meant for it to end like this” with a picture of driving away in the rain tells quite a story, as I bet a lot of these songs do. It’s wistful & never meanders into hatred or love. Just a light, sad grey. Because it’s Wednesday right?
While I’ve been on the glo train for a while, the addition of Trap Lord & the smooth melodic stylings of Madi Larson make for a gigantic trio. The track could find itself in a movie sequence, with Childish Gambino rapping over it, or just the soundtrack of my life as I walk through the hot summer nights.

Midnight Music: Bon Iver – Perth (Mi Ka Remix)

Bon Iver - Perth (Mi Ka Remix)

Bon Iver  – Perth (mi ka remix)

This remix of Bon Iver is (to  quote V/Man), too chill for words. There’s a magic to Bon Iver’s tracks originally, so watching this evolve into a golden tune is a quiet joy. mi ka, hailing from Stuttgart lays his spell on you as a listener. It’s got hammock & summer sunshine written all over it. Don’t spend too much time thinking about it, just relax and enjoy. The soothing, smooth bass blends into the bird chirps and soft guitars. If you can’t find a calming breath during this song, you may need to cut back on the Red Bull. As the weekend draws to a close, simmer down with mi ka & show him some love!

Midnight Music: Haven – The Truth Is, I Love You [Dream Bass]

Haven - The Truth Is, I Love You

Haven – The Truth Is, I Love You

Haven is blowing me away. This track got picked up by Insight Music, this splendid little chillstep, downtempo, ambient, future garage & bass label out of the UK I follow. Their monthly compilations are a dreamy mix of up & coming underground artists always has something interesting. This one made me stop what I was doing and pay attention. The massive low end & heart-wrenching vocals scream for this to be played live on a significant system to give it the sternum-vibrating live experience we all know it can deliver. I really want to hear more from this guy. Haven is from Stockholm, which is apparently where Dream Bass is made of. This is a cloud of emotion being vibrated by a subwoofer. It understands you, doesn’t judge, and may cry with you if you start. This is a track I want to make a music video or a party concept around. See someone walk through a crazy, dreamy party experience with this in the background, or a chill space with this kind of aural & visual aesthetic. What do you say? Would you come? Apparently he works in NYC, so I kind of want to hire them to spin an afterparty now.

EP Of The Week: CMA – Dreams [Chill]

CMA - DreamsThis week, drift away with CMA. This tight little EP is made of clouds. The excessive talent of CMA is on display as this sextet of relaxing sonic snowflakes float down upon you. Dream Away gets us off to a winking, almost uptempo start, before Caught In Out Thoughts pulls us back into that chillstep vibe. Don’t Look Back brings in some atmosphere that you wouldn’t find out of place in a Rameses B track, which given how much I love that dude, is high praise. The arpeggio work is solid and it never gets too intense. Moving Forward manages to both be heavy & soaring, while still keeping in the feel of the EP. So, an oppressive giant made of clouds. Or someone screaming but the only thing coming out is sparkles? Not sure if that metaphor is decidedly positive enough. Without You showcases CMA’s piano skill, which is on point. I am glad to see more and more producers coming from strong piano backgrounds, as I find it to be tremendously helpful to production. This gives a flexibility that we see throughout the EP, that other producers should take note of. Friends brings it back to the chillstep vibe we all showed up for. Great work by CMA & it’s a Creative Commons licensed EP, so go put it into your student film so people discover CMA.