Author: <span class="vcard">VoxelVox</span>

New Alt Pop

Lifecycle

Hi there and welcome to this month’s updates from the indie electronica underground. This month, as well as progressing with new tracks in the studio, we’ve discovered an awesome set of new alternative pop tunes that should be accessible to many.

Our first find this month was Private Browser, which is the latest demo from the experienced Levi Bloom and co-writer Richard Craker. This retro-tinged funk pop binds the soul of Motown-era Jackson 5 to the ebullience of Mika and Flight of the Conchords wit. Stabs of guitar punt the track along beneath Levi’s dynamic vocal range, and the intelligent, uncomplicated arrangement creates a really catchy song for the summer. Hopefully we’ll hear a lot more from Levi in the near future.

Next we checked out Modern Midas by Dana and the Wolf: This smash of hip hop and jazzy trap is driven by sultry beat poetry and hard-hitting production. Dana’s vocals rain down over beats that rock and sway beneath a mix peppered with sparse hits from the bass and synths. The result is an infectious and anthemic track from a powerful new duo that will command the stage in their upcoming live shows. Catch them in the U.S. if you can, and hope that they travel to see us over here in Europe some day!

Finally, we found What Do You Say which is the latest release by Skyepaint, a.k.a. Amos Wellings, who is one half of the Amos and Emily we reviewed way back in March last year. The track combines subtle trance-wave undertones with soulful and reflective vocals, building a steady rhythm into gentle arpeggios and a break of wow filters. The echo of the backing vocals creates a therapeutic and thoughtful ensemble, representing a mellow new direction for this talented producer and songwriter.


Deep and Diverse

deep and diverse music

Welcome to the latest Voxel Records news from March 2018!

This month, we found yet more deep and diverse tracks, showing off some great production talent – listen to the playlist and read more about them below.

Back in the studio, Maze Car continues to work with a couple of new artists on tracks for release this year. With each songwriter bringing urban and folk vibes into the studio, our resident producer is adding the xtronica suffix for new and interesting results.

Meanwhile, in the news, it seems that the inevitable has finally caught up with our social media masters. Indeed, the incessant hunger for personal data means abuse is rife. The resulting dip in public trust is the theme observed in Maze Car’s 2014 release Trust Me. Who would have thought we could be so prophetic …?

First on the playlist this month is Dove Holes by Spite Zoo. This could be considered a kind of showcase for Manchester’s Matttech Modular euro-rack synth store, but this is no detriment to the epic exploration of evolving tones that lovingly immerse us here. A maze of modular timbres echo and dance around the stereo field until all the rhythms are bound together by a solid deep bass line and acoustic dub drum loop. It’s well worth taking a quarter hour to meditate within this labyrinthine production, which is a perfect polygamy of modular, dub and funk.

Standing out proudly on the Eyes. All. Red. EP, the glitch intro of Satisfye‘s Decay deals us a heavy dose of dub shuffle with its simple wubbing rhythms. The purity of the groove is lost when the track breaks down, but the mood is rebuilt with a long pad that ascends into plodding stabs of synth-wave disco. With this track, Satisfye proves there is no need to be adventurous with melody when the sound palette and rhythms are so succulent: Fat. Deep. Wide.

Lastly, Heather Jayne offers up her latest track Better Than This as a quality follow up to last month’s Let Me In. Heather’s pouting, urban vocal is immediately familiar, warm and accessible to any lover of modern urban pop. Gritty backing vocal loops and swirling effects are spun into the captivating production and garnished with acoustic drum accents. The essence of tape-spliced loops are the original hallmark of Heather’s production, presenting all the wow and flutter of lo-fi alongside the brilliance of contemporary urban soul-tronica.


Go Boldly

Welcome to our update from the month of February 2018. Last month, we were working hard in the studio on some new projects, combining our electronic production with local singer songwriter talent. Keep checking the website for the results over the next couple of months!

Meanwhile, our sound surfing found us stumbling upon a bunch of songwriters who assert bold style through original compositions. The tracks we selected this month are a reminder that we have to be true to our souls and keep making those original sounds – random, retro or minimal, we experienced it all in the last few weeks.

Live Tonight is the latest drop from scientist musician Dysfonic. To some, this may be a challenging listen, but if you appreciate the pop punk innovation of Sparks and the synth arrangements of the Nik Kershaw era, then the beauty of this creation becomes clear. The synthwave sounds and jangling faux-funk stabs are masterful recreations of yesteryear, and yet the track is individual, new and fresh. The vocal is brilliant, even though it struggles to cut through over the bold instrumentation. Go check out more of Dysfonic on Bandcamp here.

Prarie Type Situation, Like a Homestead. Life is Easy on the Farm is from the EP You’re Going Down to Clown Town by Slop Child. Random could be an understatement, but this track works some brilliant jazz drum licks into dissonant glitch and bit-crushing that keeps you guessing throughout. Eventually, a conventional trap beat breaks through the gloom of electro synths before the melange collapses into a watery breakdown. Curious? have a listen!

Jason v (vcr mix) is a workout of succulent synth tones and dirty electric beats by German producer Duality Micro. the parent EP is a collection of cryptically titled blips, pops and buzzes which demonstrate a consistent style and texture throughout. The sound design imparts a bouncing energy to constantly varying rhythms and percussive accents, making this a great example of purist modular electronica. It all shines through in this close, clean and no-frills mix.


Abstract Ambience

This month has seen the latest demo from Maze Car begin its orbit around the internet. You can listen to the juicy new demo here, and look forward to capturing it when it goes on general release, with a partner track, later in the year. However, there will be a pause in the output from Maze Car in the near term as we divert our producer’s attention to some exciting projects with new artists!

We also have plans to set free some previously unreleased tracks by Voxel veterans Varjak, so this year promises to be a celebration of old and new. Watch this space for details!

So, what music have we discovered this month? Well, the world of underground electronica has never been so diverse as it is today. We searched for a common theme, but the tracks on the playlist this month are great examples of abstract songwriting that doesn’t need a pigeon hole to call home …

Psyop by summon.exe is driven by its shuffling rhythm of plastic swing and rubbery-filtered synths. The squelchy notes are close and boxy, but also melodically adventurous to the point that the track becomes beautifully unpredictable. Within the various timbres, there are nods to synthwave, acidic trip hop and glitchy chip tune that altogether make this a long, varied and stimulating listen. This is definitely music that you can’t pin down, but why bother when you can enjoy it bouncing all over the room …?

So New by Pleasance House is an ambient enigma that opens with a fast-paced percussive bass melody beneath a dreamy vocal. The softly glitched rhythms of nut-like timbres pepper the arrangement, along with a merry bedlam of granular vocal samples. As the madness subsides, the track glides into a more traditional acoustic guitar riff and spacious vocal delay. The acoustic licks take over for this middle section, before we are returned to the vocal snippets and soft, pacey percussion. Dreamy and refreshing folktronica epics live in harmony at Pleasance House.

Presently by Azuaverian opens up with trippy rhythms from acoustic percussion. Simple scales and delays accumulate in layers, and a shy vocal is harnessed by reverb, deep within in the mix. The lyrics are hard to isolate, but they exude a hidden beauty, like trying to catch a butterfly, before the track disassembles itself, layer by layer, into the original snare percussion. Much of Charlotte Koch’s work builds complex, implicit melodies from simple layers of percussive instruments, so if you are in search of some therapy from aural acupuncture, why not give this a try?


Ear Worm Escape

experimental pop

Tis the season of the ear worm, fa la la la laa, la la laaa laaaaargh.

But do not fear, because we have discovered a small selection of experimental pop treats that will help lure you away from the incessant ditties that can drive you insane during this festive period. In the event that these tunes do not distract you from commercial cacophony, we have heard that the theme to the Magic Roundabout is sure to alleviate any niggling riffs that remain. Good luck!

Winter’s Lesson by NYC’s Lake Ruth opens with spring-like percussion bouncing across the stereo field, with acoustic drum trills echoing in the background. The sprinkle of electronica takes a back seat as the song launches into a vintage electric organ riff with a close, seductive vocal before opening up with drum and organ noodling. The vibe of this track is strongly reminiscent of Broadcast, and we really enjoyed the entire feel, arrangement and performance. This is highly recommended listening.

Next, Spells from Atlanta’s Jordan Danielle Harris starts with a simple effected riff and a vocal accentuated by subtle double-tracking. Jazzy hip-hop drum fills lead into the body of the track, which plods along with bhangra-esque rhythm and soulful vocals that build intensity up to the break down. The simplicity of the instrumentation and groove allow the vocals space to breathe, and the kooky style of the music matches well with Jordan’s fresh and colourful image.

Finally, we found Calais, which is the curious creation of Parisian Jaune (Jean Thevenin). Here, a gentle chip tune intro is accompanied by equally delicate vocals, before the steel-band notion of toy-chime organ is further embellished by electro percussion and acoustic drum licks. The simplicity of the track evolves into complex cascades and echoing vocal motifs, all of which combine to create an uplifting and refreshing theme. The Jaune stream is definitely one to watch for lovers of alternative electro pop.


Trance Mission

voxel records transmission 2017

Greetings and welcome to our latest update from the world of underground electronica for the month of November 2017! This month, we ventured out of the shadows and into the big room trance of Transmission 2017 in Prague, where Gouryella and Aly + Fila rained down some awesome sets along with mesmeric laser lights and fireworks. Trance gigs like this really let the DJs work the room with tracks from many genres, and detected within the mixes at Transmission were classic club tunes going back fifteen years as well as nu punk sounds, all twisted and filtered live through the console. So a good trance gig is often honed from various sources, but where do original trance tracks come from? This month, we set ourselves a mission to find some original underground tracks that make up the sets of the live room …

First up are some examples from German producer DJ Magic who churns out a couple of tracks every day, covering all the sub-styles of trance which would sit well in any lengthy mix. Trance 50 builds from a complex percussive base of trills and fills, into a repetitive motif with echoing piano and chords which would calm the mood in a longer set. DJ Magic has a whole bunch of different components on his stream, and from hard trance to uplifting melodies these light-touch productions are waiting to be transported to the stage.

The hard house intro to Ryan Conway‘s Pirates soon drops into a Gaelic-tinged build, before the stuttering and shuffling bass line, garnished with vocal stabs, takes the track forward into throbbing off-beat bass. Drum fills and swells keep the rhythm alive, as classic risers finally build this short piece to its climax. This cogent production is plenty to keep the crowds pumping their fists in the club, and Conway’s stream exploits the harder end of the trance spectrum. All these tracks are well suited to building and sustaining the energy on the floor.

Nu weeny trance is one of a quite a few older tracks recently uploaded to the Swag Red Fox stream. This particular production is a hard floor thriller – the compression shows it can’t be contained by just your headphones, and can only be released to the floor by a sound system massive enough to take it. The buzzing cascade of synths and the hammer-fall of snare and banging bass drum hit home hard until a moody, dark drop churns and rumbles its minor eastern melody. This breakdown builds into a laid-back hip-hop beat, before it swirls back into flurrying hard tech – heavy stuff 😀

 


Acid Hop

voxel records electric jelly

Welcome once again to the Voxel Records view of underground electronica. This month, we have discovered some great tracks by producers exploring acidic techno, hip hop and jungle crossovers. There’s some inspiring ingenuity in this month’s playlist, so go enjoy it right now!

The Source is a project for which veteran techno DJ Freddy Fresh steps out of the booth to collaborate with Dr. Walker of Air Liquide. Straight off, this track lobs us a brief, bouncing motif which is filtered, resonated, echoed and distorted with modular sweeteners as it twists and turns throughout. The percussion sounds are sprinkled with sugary bit crushing to make the drum track equally buoyant, so this funky modular masterclass and should whet your appetite for more creations from The Modulator.

Traveler opens with a simple acoustic drum and bass refrain, but producer subPAR soon injects a gritty bass synth and electro traps, with echoing reverse-keys haunting the background. A few well-timed drops of silence give an extra edge to the overall no-nonsense production, and there are many more great examples of creative beat making over on the subPAR stream, so go check it out.

Our final discovery this month was DnB Ultra  from Tosmen. This lengthy dose of hi-energy dub opens with clean, spiky drums as they splutter like a starter motor, but quickly reach jungle speed. Regular fills and dub FX pepper the mix without overloading it, and acerbic filters eat away at monotonic riffs without losing any energy or pace. The rate and diversity at which Tosmen is uploading tracks should put us all to shame!

 


Fine Folktronica Foray

voxel records head

Welcome to our round up of new music discoveries from the month of September. What?! It’s not September! Not anymore … but when your internet service provider removes all contact with the outside world for four days, lateness happens. Here at Voxel, we may be late to the party, but we’re last to leave – and this includes calendar months.

More than the usual amount of folktronica releases cropped up on our horizon recently …. but wtf folktronica? Well, it’s not about the jaded stereotype of fiddles, scrumpy and roving maidens – it’s more about those acoustic singer/songwriters exploiting electronic production techniques, e.g. The Ed Sheeran or The KT Tunstall with their new-fangled loop stations. Have a listen to this clutch from the underground …

Black Sheep is definitely accessible to many, and although NYC’s singer/songwriter Alex Martin has been around for a while, his Soundcloud presence is surprisingly slim. The authentic hip hop thump and tactical stabs of acoustic guitar carry a groove complemented by the intonation of the urban vocal. The production gels really well, with subtle trills of FX and even the cheesy whiff of brass towards the outro – this a great example of urban acoustic hip hop.

Blood on the Floor is the brand new demo on Nosila‘s stream, and it bears all the hallmarks of an experienced songwriter. The somewhat dark subject matter is presented through delicate yet agile vocals, and cleanly filtered strikes and plucks are woven into the fabric of a mix that swells slowly from beneath with subtle drums and percussion. This is the only song that represents Nosila’s new direction, but the production, arrangement and performance make us want to hear more.

Greta Isaac‘s intricate electronic manipulations of acoustic guitar result in a dynamic and energetic ensemble, especially when injected with her immaculate vocal performance. Comfortable is a recent (but not the latest), example of Greta’s exuberant and infectious style. The production techniques are an exciting extension to essentially simple instrumentation, which is even more impressive if it can be carried off live. This songwriter is gaining followers quickly, so get out in London to catch one of her shows.

 


Electronic Swing

Space Head Music

Hi there and welcome to our round-up of tracks discovered in the underground this August. This month we have stumbled upon some producers that create sounds from electronic building blocks, but also have the knack of injecting a human feel to the music.

Ocean by Alwin Brauns opens with wiry modulated synths that holler a mellow riff echoed only by faint beeps. The drums are lazy and lolloping, and all together the arrangement is reminiscent of early down-tempo Royksopp. This young German producer is churning out tracks rapidly, so catch up on his stream here.

Digital Pop by Jixu starts with a gritty synth bass cut up only by a swinging gate, which gives the whole track its head-nodding hip hop shuffle. The track continues to bend whistling timbres and trills until it descends into granular synths and dynamic side-chains. This is an experimental crossover of glitch instrumentation with the swing of hip hop, which is a combination that works brilliantly, even if this particular example ends a wee bit abruptly.

Finally, we found a gold mine of tracks by Shugmonkey. It’s hard to single out a preferred track from this prolific stream, but That Girl is a good enough place to start. This wonderland of infectious free-form hip hop staggers between heavy beats and sampled grooves which exude unique and mellow jazz. There are shades of Avalanches and DJ Food here; but under the moniker of Agents of Rush, Shugmonkey also produces synthwave electro all the way through to faithful drum and bass. Get over to Bandcamp now to download anything by Shugmonkey or Agents of Rush!


Dark Electronic Experiments

voxel records theremin music experiment

welcome to our latest update from the world of underground indie electronica. this month we found some experimental producers making music with a dark and moody edge, and the tracks on the playlist are tinged with styles that sculpt acid, techno, electro, dub-step and ambient into their creators’ own niche. have a listen!

First, we found Tabula Rasa which is from last year’s album SEUIL by ArtSaves. This has recently been given the remix treatment with brand new versions of most tunes. The original version of this particular track opens with a slow, haunting techno riff whistling behind bit-crushed percussion, but the rhythms slowly build as bass drum decay extends into an anchoring riff. The pace evolves by its rhythmical complexity, before a giant pad chops the track in two. The string synth signatures of this second movement intertwine into an echoing, ambient soundscape swollen with subtle motifs before fading into the gentle pick of acoustic guitar. This is a sophisticated production which is recommended for fans of Autechre and LFO.

Simplextro by Ring Theory launches us into a swamp of pacey effects from the outset. As the effects subside, the track breaks down into an innocent piano riff before reaching out its spiny tentacles to mash up the track with more effects wizardry. Whilst the production lacks the full bottom end typical of mainstream dub step, the adrenaline builds and nimble drum fills keep it true to the form. The production does well to encapsulate the simplicity of dub step into a more measured, electro context without mounting a full on and uncontrollable assault across the frequency spectrum.

The Time Will Never End by German producer n8front is introduced by a soft, steady heart beat from an electro bass drum accompanied by a sustained vocal pad. A breathy aqualung is sprinkled across the mix, before it breaks into a plodding, yet complex rhythmic shuffle. it is the lumbering variations in the percussion that drive the track, allowing simple sustained pads to breathe their mystery through it. The heavy rhythmical backbone sinks this track into the earth, and the lighter melodic tones to drift around it like mist.

Dark Ecstacy is the only track available from TiNO KREY on the Soundcloud stream. It opens with old-skool acid rave voices prodding a minor 3-note riff that is rendered by a howl reminiscent of the classic Korg M1 synth. The dry 808 drums add unadulterated authenticity, but the rhythms swing in and out of traditional acid and contemporary trap to give the whole arrangement its modern edge. If you’re looking for a bit of that retro rave spice then follow TiNO for any future tracks!