Tag: glitch

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!


Stitching Glitch

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The influence of glitch production has worked its way throughout the underground music community over the last decade or so, being used for a subtle tonal and rhythmical garnish and full-on abstract music concrete. This month we have selected a few tracks that demonstrate just how well it can be merged with other musical styles.

First on the playlist we have shared IT Breaks ME by Alecek. Bulgarian producer Alexander Ivanov kicks off with a dark and moody hip-hop shuffle, which anchors abrasive rhythms and tones that pepper the track with Gatling fire. A fluid bass persists the groove beneath, making this track a great example of contemporary glitch hop. Alecek has many more abstract and extreme examples of glitch production available on his stream – so we recommend that you don your Kevlar ear protectors and dive right in.

Glitch Hop (work in progress) is a track by the (presumably) Japanese producer Film, a.k.a Wataranai. Uplifting synth-wave riffs conjure Megadrive memories of Sonic the Hedgehog at a Power Puff disco, and the generally sugary complexion of the track is reinforced with skinny drums and playful pianos. There ain’t a lot of glitch or hop in this track, but it places itself beautifully right in the middle of chip-tune and synth-wave. Definitely one for a feel-good road-trip atmosphere.

Finally, we have Funky Feeling by Skank Spinatra. This is creation by UK-based producer Edward Clarke starts off with the as a simple combo of pure funk licks from guitar, drums and bass but then takes us on a journey through hip-hop and jazz before building into a crazy glitch breakdown. The blend of all these styles demonstrates a finesse worked expertly into a warm club vibe, making the track a welcome addition to your summer party playlist.

 


Dubstep: Psycho Acoustics

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Many styles have evolved since technology has become more and more influential in music production. Our previous electronic music adventure took us on a tour of techno,  a groundbreaking genre that has since spawned many other sub-categories and heavily influenced club nights around the world.

For this article, we have investigated the roots of dub-step and the essence of its production. We wanted to get to grips with this relatively new genre, where it developed and how it combines with other music that circulates on modern turntables.

Dub-step is rooted in urban South London, rising in the early 2000s from this bustling hub of ingenuity like many other innovations before it such as grime, garage and break-beat. As with the development of techno, the style is very DJ-oriented, and combined influences from UK garage with deeper origins in dub reggae. The infectious and versatile two-step rhythms, heavy bass and masterful combinations of effects have become hallmarks of the modern dub-step record.

Producers and DJs of the style are devoted to urban themes, and are named with dark or monstrous tags, like graffiti, that convey the depth and power of the music. As we’ve discovered, the extension of the style to its graphic art draws interesting (but presumably accidental) parallels with heavy metal, and this feedback loop has recently produced even more interesting results.

Urban Roots

The general consensus is that the early artists were born out of Big Apple Records, a record store in Croydon (South London). The likes of Digital Mystikz, Skream, Benga, Loefah are just some of the key names that appear early in the music’s history.

Techno sounds merged with sparse, shuffling breaks, stuttering effects and deep bass synthesisers. A lot of the components from these early tracks are pure techno, but laced with thin traps that avoid interference with the detail of the deep bass riffs. It is the unpredictable nature of the ominous bass lines and climactic rhythms that forces the listener to move with their gut feeling and not rely on the predictable rhythms in other styles; and this is probably why the grooves are so infectious. The classic 2-step beat is less apparent in many earlier tracks, but the dub-step still rips up rule books written for techno or house, and drills down into the core factors that get crowds moving. The influence of dub reggae is definitely prominent in Digital Mystikz and Loefah as their music develops slowly from spacious and reverberating delays and doom-like deep bass drops, but is underpinned by the urban vibe supplied by the thin electro traps from tech like the old faithful 808 drum machine.

Dubstep Anatomy

Dub-step tracks tend to sit between 130 and 150 bpm in tempo. They often cue up at half this speed due to the tendency to omit the up beats, making the track appear slower. But this technique allows the producer to inject serious pace later in the track when the atmosphere has been built up. Clubbers will find themselves moving slowly before being hit with a wave of energy as the true tempo is revealed.

Tracks are quite brief – between 3 and 5 minutes in duration. This doesn’t allow much time to evolve, so abrupt changes are introduced regularly every 8 or 16 bars. This keeps the music exciting in a short timescale and doesn’t rely on the subliminal influences or lengthy atmospheres of techno or ambient.

The thick, syrupy bass of true dub reggae and jungle is ever-present in the bottom end, and if you can’t hear it on your iPod it will quake your bowels in the club. Whilst the bass and drums were surgically separated within the frequency spectrum for earlier tracks, modern dub-step employs speaker-shredding synthesisers wailing abrasive timbres, and exploits modulating filters, sirens and delays to the extreme.

A trademark of modern dub-step is the bass wobble or wub, where sounds are filtered to a rhythm, pulling and stretching the bass across triplets and quavers as well as the frequency range. On its own, this effect is something that can be easily programmed using modern production tools; but it is also something that can be created on the fly by the DJ if their rig is equipped with serious filter and overdrive effects. Much as kill switches have been used by DJs in the past to mix tunes together, modern DJ controllers allow effects to be scratched in as part of a live performance, much like hip hop.

As we mentioned, early dub-step tracks were careful to separate the drums and bass whilst maintaining a definite groove. Many modern tracks take the gloves off and throw acoustic, electronic and sampled breaks all over the spectrum for maximum effect. Bass and snare drums sound huge and weighty. Producers will more than likely use these to compress competing instruments or even the whole mix using a side-chain, and this makes modern dub-step far more aggressive than the original productions. A familiar bass drum sound can be traced back to the old Alesis SR16 which has plenty of bottom end but also a sticky, high-frequency attack.

Infectious Rhythms

Most dub-step records make use of the classic 2-step drum beat derived from UK garage, and this is often married with breaks, triplets and fills for maximum impact. This beat gives a slow, heavy, head-rocking vibe but can easily be doubled in time to inject energy and urgency. Dub-step producers use the power of this variation to attack the audience with waves of changing beats which only the most uninhibited are able to surf.

Dub-step also shares features with trap, using the thin, electronic trills of hi-hats. In current releases, this technique is often used during drops, but was used more continuously in earlier records. The use of lazy triplet shuffles further gives dub-step a more human and performance element, even though it is almost entirely electronically generated.

Psycho Acoustics

In addition to the rhythmical improvisation that continuously evolves throughout most dub-step records, the wall-of-sound effects are almost the polar opposite to something like techno or ambient. Whereas the melody within a techno track is implied by evolving timbres, dub-step overloads the frequency spectrum and is appealing in the same way electric guitar distortion is in heavy rock. The clipping of the signal induces all manner of frequencies and not just simple tones, and the effects will be perceived both physically and subliminally. The whole package is more likely to burst forth than chill out, so modern dub-step is not for the feint of heart.

Our survey of contemporary dub-step records shows the genre to be truly diverse. Roots dub-step very much carries the attributes of dub reggae with respect to bass and spacey delays plodding predominantly at lower tempos. Enter the new young ruffian of cousin bro-step, and we hear the trademark wow-filter, heavy metal tainted riffs and drum fills accentuating grooves that may otherwise have lain undiscovered.

Modern And Mainstream

The crew that grew from the seeds at Big Apple Records are still touring strong, but other players have entered the game and broadened the horizons. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites by Skrillex represents an evolution of bro-step and glitch that has dominated the mainstream in recent years. Bands like Pendulum and The Prodigy could also be credited to some extent with getting punk and metal to permeate dub-step, or equally demonstrate its influence in other music. However, the urban core of dub-step is still the best place to score some awesome tunes.

The Nato Feelz track Showtime combines cinematic power with wub-laden filters and club-friendly drops to dramatic effect., and Energy by Front Artillery’s Dayskid hollers synthwave riffs through watery filters but still keeps a ska-tinged offbeat beneath tumultuous glitch finger-work. The reggae influence, more glitch and bold riffs combine in Bad Trip by Skitear (a.k.a. Blayd), and the stern wubbing in Joe Garston‘s Quickscope demonstrates a crossover of dub-step with popular melodic tech house.  

Everything Everywhere

To us, dub-step is a style that is well at home with laid back reggae and stripped back trap. It fits with breakbeat and jungle to bring energy; and can be refined to slot into heavy metal. The compatibility doesn’t end there, though. Our own crate digging has also revealed a harmony with glitch, when rhythmical accents are adorned with blasts of quasi-random effects and octave-leaping lead riffs.  The cheesy digital sounds of synthwave also often turn up in rude, bold melodies that are further beefed up by heavy filters and overdrive. And last but not least, dub-step influences have washed over many film soundtracks to accompany the visual intensity and action sequences.

Dub-step is probably one of the most diverse genres in terms of creative production dynamics in the world today. From the grime of basement clubs to the sheen of the stadium show, there’s something for any lover of the extreme. It’s music that’s less about soul and more about attitude.

Voxel Records producer Maze Car picked up the challenge of creating a demo track that tries to reflect this diversity. You can listen to it below, and read about the trials of its creation on his blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Experimental and Left Field Music

voxel records experimental and left field music

We’re here again to share with you some of the best experimental and left-field music we discovered this month. It has been a difficult year with the loss of so many influential musicians, but they leave us a positive and enduring legacy as we move into 2017.

First on the play list this month is Sakana by Japanese outfit Macaroom. This is the first track on the album Home Phone TE, which is available for download on Bandcamp. A chip-tune organ intro soon gives way to light, sugary vocals which soar above cascading waves of acoustic percussion and jazz horn. The rest of the album is well worth exploring, as it applies this mellow and organic texture to a sweet combination of glitch, chip and jazz.

Next up is Polyamorhythm by performers JPTR. This uncomplicated arrangement of vocals and percussion develops a marching band into a vintage disco funk vibe, as the vocals are layered across harmonies, registers and lyrics to create their own poly-amorous finale. This track, like other recent work by JPTR, is soulful, provocative and simple in its construction.

Team Dream by High Five Spaceship is a track that illustrates the creativity and diversity of Christopher Bingham‘s London collective, whilst still being immediately accessible. The long string intro segues into a throbbing bass and stumbling trip-hop percussion, where each sound is meticulously selected and sculpted with an immaculately captured vocal duet. The track is almost obsessively laid-back and is definitely one for followers of Massive Attack.

The last track on our Soundcloud playlist is Troll Stomper by Aytch. This is a track we discovered recently on Orfium, although it is actually from the EP Assuming Ultimate Form dating from way back in 2014. We’re not sure how we survived without Aytch – this glitch hop spits spiky, shuffling beats and raw bass which messes with your brain and body to glorious effect. Twist, turn and twitch through the rhythms and check out some of the more recent stuff on the Aytch stream.

Finally, we found Chewing Gum by 1Voct. This simply, electronic adventure begins with a slow analogue sweep that bristles with a shade of distortion before the hard-knock drums and bass line develop. The purity of the sound is addictive, and the almost melancholy improvisation of modulated leads is crammed full of taste. We were unable to track down anything else by this producer, but you can show your love by downloading this track for free. More please!


Digging Deeper for Underground Music In September 2016

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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.