Hidden Pop Joy

voxel records hidden pop

Welcome to the November news from Voxel Records!

The latest Maze Car single Those Shallow Games is now available in all major online retailers, but it is FREE for you to download right now from Orfium, Bandcamp and SoundCloud, so please play, like and share!

Coming up in December we will also be publishing the first of many investigations into the classification of musical styles. The aim is to analyse some of the labels and categories applied to music, from the very basic through to the unfathomable. We will be deconstructing and reconstructing various genres in the Red Six studio, and sharing a free demo track with every installment. Keep your eyes on the blog for updates – who knows how far this journey will take us …?

Once again this month, our ears have taken us on a journey through the very latest underground releases on Orfium, SoundCloud and Bandcamp. We have stumbled across the next Lady Gaga, found some great but unshareable music and finally managed to collate a few tunes we think are worth a listen – scroll down for the reviews.

Despite the somewhat incongruous presence of the bass drum, Let Me In is a great production from London collective Lyne. The gentle introduction soon builds up the pace, adding shimmering urban trills to the backing synths in place of the more traditional traps. The instrumentation rightly gives way to the excellent vocal performance that is more than tinged with the character of Adele, and this is no bad thing. The music is already fulfilling its potential as it gathers a ton of plays, so check it out now.

Candle Light is an experimental production by Lebanese producer Stephanie Merchak, Here, mellow trap clicks introduce feel-good melodies constructed from gentle chimes and gently distorted vibrato keys. A fluttering of bit-crushed chip-tune motifs precede the thin pad break down, before the tune resumes with a phased signature of accordion. The endearing and stimulating timbres glitch their way through this track, and indeed throughout the parent album From Dusk Til Dawn.

Bitter Brain appears to be the only track available from Texan duo Tripl3ts, so we hope there is more in the pipeline. A deep, dark monastic humming that borders on the satanic opens this track like a chasm, before familiar soulful vocal exercises and provocative effects are married with the powerful undertow of dub step and trap. The addictive pitched-drum bass licks bring extra greatness to this track, as it plays out with twitching trap hats. And it’s a free download!

Pay heed to the capitalisation of TechNo by US collaborators Casio Playa, because this is far from a pounding club track. The simple, clean production enables a heavy down beat hat to anchor a groovy synth-wave jam session, as choppy synths twirl and riffs emerge and subside with light-touch back up from the pads. This pair of artists have posted plenty more of their ruminations on various music styles, so tune in to their stream for fun sounds.


New Releases This November

phaserbass

Time for a quick word on some great tunes from Voxel friends that flew past us this week …

The latest release </3 by SHI is out today in all major online outlets, and this five-track EP includes Shattered Backbone in addition to four other delights. Beneath the bitter-sweet coating of bright and airy vocals, this atmospheric and soulful confection of electro trap is bursting with the flavour of analog beeps and bells, with a dusting of organic percussion. If you liked what you heard in our playlist back in May this year, then now’s the time to download this new box of treats!

Also worth checking out is the latest from Brazilian trance producer Insonic as he racks up the plays in Spotify. With Etcraft, the pulsing bass drum anchors a sonic breadth that hones the sheen of psi-fi, biting dub scratches and the melodic adventures of trance into a wicked high-energy form. Dark arpeggios and uplifting chord progressions are peppered with playful fx in this epic trance outing.

Finally, Maze Car has dropped the two tracks for his next single into our own Voxel Records release process, so this will be on its way to the stores next week. This project has seen our resident producer experimenting outside the box with the analog gear that furnishes the Red Six studio, combining retro computer games with flavours ranging from quirky alt-pop to complextro. These tracks will be FREE to download from selected stores until the next project is completed – so watch this space for the release date!

 


The Darker Side of Indietronica

voxel records discover indie electronica october

This month, we have found ourselves drawn to the darker side of indie electronica, as Autumn closes in and Halloween lurks on our doorstep. We have found another formidable clutch of tracks which we recommend you check out, ranging from electro thrash to sci-fi disco.

Out first discovery in Soundcloud this month was 192tentacles by Japanese experimental electronic rock bad Paris death Hilton. The mangled chip-tune synthesizers cast a spine-tingling shadow over what may otherwise be cutesy timbres, and these complement the incredible live drum performance. There are hints of heavy metal in the arrangement, but the musicianship and vibe result in a new take on electro rock, landing somewhere in the vicinity of angry Atari Teenage Riot and shouty Melt Banana. Fresh thrash – best served NOW.

The creepy imagery of Knots by electronic post-punks Ribcrow is well-timed for a Halloween drop, and this represents one of the groovier tracks from their current EP Defective Plexus. The hip-hop drum loop leads into a detached and dreamy mood, with light and airy vocals that belie a darker lyrical theme. With this EP, Ribcrow definitely create a mould of their own, and it is available to download on Bandcamp. Turn it up, and let it envelop you.

Our first trip over to Orfium this month revealed Gott ist Tot by Electrodaimon. Synth sounds sparkle in the mellow shadows of this pure and simple electro groove, where analog bells chime above the thin, shredded synths as they phase together over rhythmic ripples anchored to a sumptuously distorted bass drum. Releases from Electrodaimon are few and far between, but what exists is beautifully polished and sculpted.

Carousel is a free download from Hamburgers Gatwick that tempts us into further listening. The simple side-chained synth moods and minimal percussion underpin a seductive vocal, echoing the melancholia of Beth Gibbons and the soulfulness of Shingai Shoniwa. This track is just a foot in the door for even more, so we recommend you go have a listen to their current 7-track EP Boundless to sample their wares.

Bandcamp brought us to In The Shadows by Sunrom, which features on a current release by French label Place For Us along with various artists. The intro whistles like wind into a slow, dark groove peppered with clicks of glitchy percussion, as deep undertones sway in and out, playing off each other before merging into a muffled, mysterious hip-hop that fills your head with cotton-wool melodies. A beautiful creation.

Your Monster Is Me is the first track on It Came From Beyond Eternal September by mad scientists Ugress. An infectious off-beat side-chained groove, growling synth and cinematic suspense meld into a style that looks to create a great live show. This is strongly recommended for anyone who, like us, loves sci-fi disco laced with a feint touch of Royksopp.

 

 

 


Digging Deeper for Underground Music In September 2016

voxel records exclusive hoodie

Hello once again from the team at Voxel Records! This month we have dug a bit further underground in search of more new and interesting tunes.

The recent changes at Soundcloud have changed how we curate our selections, so we are currently developing different ways to search out original artists. Hopefully the minor changes in format will be good for you too!

soundcloud

Wild by hip-hop/dubstep producer Exira is a choice cut from a meaty collection of work over the past year. This particular track is dominated by the bend, bubble and buzz of the synth line, but extra lift is provided by the underlying scratches and breaks that you might not expect from your typical dub-step ditty. These subtle differences give extra breadth to this solid, head-stompin joy.

Diskoloser by Rattenjunge (featuring TY GRRR) demonstrates the youthful and sharp style honed by this German outfit. This production combines electro, glitch, punk and rap ethics into one tasty bundle, with poetic delivery cutting through above throbbing synth tubes. Every track is different on this stream, but there is plenty to turn your head upside down and inside out. Glitch-hop heaven.

 

bandcamp It can be a bit of a minefield over at Bandcamp, but the best approach is to dive in, and forget about musical ability and production finesse. Purity is the seed of what may one day grow into something amazing. As with the other platforms, there are millions of tracks to play with, but after a bit of digging we managed to find these beauties.

Threads by Canadian songwriter Loon stirs up a lot of memories. A minimal backing of pads and bells with unobtrusive trills from the percussion support the quivering and almost maniacal vocals of Tessa Dawn K. The obvious comparisons with Kate Bush in the writing and performance combine with the spectre of late-80s arrangement into something beautifully listenable. What’s in a name?

Lyrically, Grind by MuteR carries the work-to-live theme that we have probably all identified with at some point. A soft staccato of melody is scattered sweetly over dark and stumbling traps; but it is the voice of Adrian Shegstad that stands out in this production, and indeed his other tracks. The performance is immaculate, and echoes a blend of classic pop vocalists like Matt Goss and Nik Kershaw. Great work.

orfiumOrfium is filling up nicely with new artists as the platform slowly games maturity. We had a quick pan through the flow of new tracks here, in the hope of finding another golden nugget …

The Great Magnet is one of a small clutch available on the Ercall Knox feed. A short, grainy guitar loop is soon bombarded with bold, dirty drum chops reminiscent of his highness the DJ Shadow; and this similarity continues with the retro-movie sample monologue. The underlying samples are backed up with a raw off-beat synth, and the whole track drops us down on the ambient side of big-beat. Definitely one for lovers of Shadow or maybe The Orb.

Blaquarium by the Niebelungen Blues Band will assault you with mid-range presence and loudness, but the style quickly becomes familiar. The squeaky synth arpeggios and underlying drum groove clearly nod their headlights towards older Orbital, so this is a feed to follow for anyone with a soft spot for break-beat IDM. There is little else recent to be found from these Swedish producers, but we hope there is more to come soon.

 

 

 


Words About Music

attentionorange600x399

One of our main reasons for being is to find new and interesting music by contemporary producers doing new and interesting things. When it comes to picking a few tracks for the playlist each month, we set off to write a few words about stuff that inherently cannot be described in words. This is, of course, why we make music … there are emotions to explore that go beyond the dictionary. But whilst the purist musician most likely eschews classification of their music, listeners searching for original sounds may find that classification important.

Everyone has their own interpretation of genres and sub-genres. These are becoming so diverse that they are made up on a daily basis – and we too are guilty of it. Describing contemporary music styles is now something so unstable, any music that can’t be put in a pigeon-hole requires its own tag. At the same time, music that nestles comfortably within a pigeon-hole can be passed over as MOR.

Some music stations don’t venture beyond the “dance” or “rock” labels; but some end up with such tag-noise that all useful meaning from the classification is removed. How many times have you searched for music using emojis? Have a go in Soundcloud and see if it helps.

After ruminating on all this for a while, we thought we’d go back to skool and learn a bit about how music is tagged. For the next wee while, Voxel Records will be studying tags, terms, classifications and genres; trying to work out what makes the music behind the label. Our intention is to stick to remain oriented to the electronic, but don’t be surprised if we wander off into metal, funk, jazz or punk. Watch this category for the first installment, coming soon!


New Electronic Alt Pop from August 2016

voxel-cloud-storm-830x693

Welcome to our update from the world of indie electronica for the month of August. A spanner flew into the works of Voxel Records recently, as Soundcloud deigned to remove the groups feature from its services. This has a serious impact on the way we discover music that may otherwise pass under the radar, but more importantly it also affects the underground community in general. Unsurprisingly, the forums have been positively buzzing with indignation.

This episode also raises yet more questions about the future of music networks. Like many organisations, Soundcloud will have acquired investment and investors will expect them to make a profit. Consequently, Soundcloud argue that they can’t afford to support certain features. We feel that the loss of groups is a serious blow to the music scene from which innovation and talent grow. As such, we are now looking for other ways to find and share new music.

One new kid on the block is Orfium – there ain’t much on it yet, but hopefully it will gain traction as Soundcloud alienates itself from the community. In the mean time, we hope that we can still keep you up to date with all the great music we discover!

First on this month’s playlist is Kingdom by Verna Hark. The blasting synth intro subsides swiftly into sultry vocal harmonies, punctuated only by sporadic synth drum shots. A delicate, wiry riff then opens into a powerful half-tempo synth stack attack, and all elements combine into spiraling echoes and powerful jabs from the drum accents. This recent track demonstrates Verna Hark’s ability to produce potent and infectious alt-pop – grab the free EP now!

Next we have Finding Out by Sarah Denim, which was originally posted a few months back by this Canadian songwriter. The shuffling, pacey and complex rhythmic introduction feels a little bit like Talking Heads, but decoration from the sat-com sample and flicks of the brush from Sarah’s soft vocal lend a new character to the familiar vibe. The lyrics float just beneath the surface of the mix, and contribute much to the individual and groovy production.

Finally we found Mean to be Me by See Ame. Here, bubbling reverse sound effects play into the breathy, distant vocals as they pose their existential questions. The simple, reverberating riffs blend with the lyrical adornments, and the arrangement slowly evolves from these building blocks into a captivating ensemble. This track gives a wonderful insight into See Ame’s fruitful independent songwriting.


Synth-pop-tronic Music From July 2016

PPM

Welcome to our round-up of new electronic music discovered in the month of July! Resident producer Maze Car has been experiencing the joys of trance in a Dutch field – an event perhaps better known as Electronic Family 2016. He has also managed to make progress on the next single – it’s been a long time coming, but watch this space over the next few weeks as the single gets ready to go live!

This month’s play list has a distinctive synth pop theme. First up is Love Came Tumbling Down (ft. Malin Johansson) by Stephan Arnold. The arrangement and chord progression are an immaculate example of pop purity that is destined for the mainstream. It not only showcases the production talent of these two Dutch brothers, but also Malin’s singing prowess. The sweetly compressed tones of the voice give it an edge to rival Katy Perry, and the whole package is gagging for remixes that would be successful across many genres. Get involved!

Next, we found Waiting for the Asteroid by Drinking Bird Experiment. This Glasgow-oriented band (please excuse the bias) nestle in another part of the electronica spectrum, and their music’s spindly, stumbling chip wave smolders with influence from icons like Broadcast, Human League and maybe Ladytron. With a stream that ranges from alt-guitar, through cute bit pop to glitchy ambient, we can’t help but be endeared by the breadth of expression on offer. Five star eclectro!

Finally we have Baby Come Home by Featurette. This Canadian duo produce electronic pop with a glistening, powerful and spiky edge. The synths stab at the intro, before the crystal clear voice carries the rhythm into a chorus trilling with trap-esque hi-hats. From the breathy break-down, the bass swells to play out a track forged from simple, well-engineered components. Check out their current Crave EP now!

 


Trip Hop Talent From June 2016

exit_pixel_bg

Welcome to our round-up of our favourite music discovered this June. As the UK makes its somewhat shambolic and unconvincing way towards exit from Europe, we hope we can still be friends! There is a down-tempo trip- and hip-hop feel to the playlist this month – so check out the reviews below! Maze Car has been fiddling with a remix of Those Shallow Gamesyou can also have a listen to it here.

The Way by Jenny Jumble opens with a dark, modulating synth intro and subtle whistling tones. JJ mixes some soft monotone poetry on top, which builds the track into a trip-hop work tinged lightly with industrial undertones. This is just one example of this songwriter’s often quirky and diverse output – so check out her stream for more intriguing and original sounds, and the FB for some dance vids.

Next up is Assembly Line by Ry-Man (ft. Cristina). Cristina’s sultry vocals introduce what is otherwise a dark trip-hop/rap piece from New York producer Ryan Edwards. The glitchy underlying riffs underpin Ry-Man’s clear and rhythmical diction before a late breakdown re-introduces some layering vocal interplay. This is an uncomplicated and well versed track that showcases Ry-Man’s current capabilities – have a listen to the Bandcamp page for his full discography.

Finally, Hazel by Electronican is a production that is true to the well established trip-hop genre. The retro-movie samples introduce a shuffling drum trill that rides a smooth and smoky wave that undulates throughout the track, and an off-beat mallet drop brightens the groove. The hi-hats pick up the groove before a mellow breakdown and a faint reverberating piano and string sequence mix in for melodic variation in what is otherwise a pretty continuous head-nodding groove.

 


From Screaming Dubstep To Chip Tune Trap In May 2016

Voxel Records Explosive Music

This month, we have another diverse set of tunes from the electronic underground to share with you – so be sure to check out the playlist below!

Lately, it seems that the music business is getting confused about how we should listen to music. The closure of Beatport streaming suggests that we should be downloading our favourite tracks, but rumours of Apple closing its iTunes download may suggest otherwise. Meanwhile, there are reports that Bandcamp sales of physical media have increased significantly. In a world where the flow of data through the internet is often wasted like water, we think the download model is probably more helpful for many music fans because we can listen to our music off the grid. Carrying multiple subscriptions and draining our download limits is not always a practical solution.

Thankfully, there are millions of independent producers and plenty of platforms on which they can host their wares. From established players like Soundcloud and Bandcamp to the noobs of Orfium, there are plenty of music makers working outside the confines of corporate pop.

Voxel Records resident Maze Car has recently been lost in Spain (whilst some old friends are Lost In France). This has reduced studio time somewhat, and the search for a vocal component for the next single continues. We hope that this search will end before Mazey’s life turns into a crazy retro platform game and an acute case of life imitating art can be avoided!

First on the playlist this month is West Coast by Domascus. This is a screaming dubstep roller-coaster of raw riffs joined together by awesome stuttering fills, and the wailing portamento of the eastern-tinged lead is surrounded by bit-crushed drops. The music has all the power you expect from the genre, but Domascus manages to sprinkle a laid-back off-beat vibe throughout the track. We bet there is plenty more good stuff to come from this producer as he hones his craft.

Du by Bosque opens with a delicate, soothing and shimmering chord progression before a wistful lead and squashy traps take over. Gorgeously granular motifs play off each other throughout this deeply digital arrangement, like a journey from 8-bit to 64-bit that gives chiptune trap the silky finish it has always deserved. The combination of sound design, melody and style is rarely captured as sensitively as it is here.

Finally, we found Shattered Backbone by SHI. This is a production stripped back to the bone, with a subtle synthetic horn clipped and crushed beneath soft and sultry vocals and a thin veil of birdsong. There is a melancholy trip-hop presence here that is reminiscent of early Portishead, but the production stands out on its own with unique mood and style. With only a couple of tracks available we hope to hear much more in the future: SHI cool.

 


Addictive ambient, indie and trip hop for April 2016

snakepod1d

Welcome to the latest news from the indie electronica underground!

The current Maze Car demo Dub Croaky is still available for FREE DOWNLOAD at Soundcloud until a single release in the summer. Between now and then, Mazey is reworking the demo of Those Shallow Games – you can catch up with his developments on the blog as usual. Also this month, we heard a tweet that there is a film being made about the 1990s music scene in Glasgow – we strongly recommend following the development of Lost In France if you are a fan of indie music history!

Our playlist for April 2016 opens with No Sign On The Door by Kiwi producer Tom Cadillac. The track was apparently produced without the use of computers, and with minimal use of sequencers. Indeed, why would one impose such boundaries on creativity? The movement is based around a compelling groove with a loose and squashy feel, and various twangs and pings are dubbed in to give a hip-hop mood to this experimental ambient music. This is some cool stuff from the other side of the planet that’s well worth a follow.

Fools With Good Intentions by Polaroids Of Dead Lovers opens with a short synth intro before bursting into a lo-fi, jangling guitar riff underpinning Lasse Liisberg’s delicate, echoing vocal. There is a subtle minor-tinged darkness to the tune as the chorus approaches, and the breakdown of bass and synths swirls and reverberates to a half-tempo outro. Here, Lasse has created a track with a retro vinyl vibe which compliments the slightly creepy band name.

Finally this month, Dark Stars* also give us The Creeps: This track from producer DSC opens with a light, fluttering synth which is quickly stamped upon by a massive, lolloping bass drum and stack. The heavier synths dominate as they lumber, fizz and growl their way through this down-tempo trip-hop; and the fearful, quivering vocal line with droplets of theremin add more nervous tension to the mood. Check out the DSC stream for a wide variety of other production capabilities.