Tag: indie

Fine Folktronica Foray

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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.

 


Wild Ambient Spaces

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Here we are again with a small collection of tracks we found whilst scouring the internet during May. The modern trip hop and ambient production techniques used in these tracks all conjure up a hint of wilderness and remote open spaces, so the combination of urban styles with organic influences makes these producers well worth following if you are hungry for laid back ambient and trip hop.

First on the playlist, we are lowered gently into iamforest‘s Hollie by tape-effected strings and vinyl crackles, before the crystal clear wave of drums, arps and pads spills across the soundscape. Each instrument, including the subdued vocal, takes a turn to dominate as the arrangement ebbs and flows between lolloping trip-hop and a frothing wall of dreamy sound. From the acoustic components this track seeds auras of peaceful wilderness, whilst still capturing the energy and buzz supplied by the subtle electronic tones.

Next up, spotted towhee by Melody Monroe opens with ambient whistles hidden behind a bassy, bold organ riff. Melody’s sultry vocal opens up the track as it breaks away into trance-like filter sweeps, and the energy of the organ rhythm continues to pick up the pace along with the percussion. Mountainous shapes loom throughout this music, which shows off contemporary, creative production skills alongside traditional songwriting talent. Get following for more!

Finally, Living Underwater by Marjen comprises four short discrete pieces in a similar vein, like nuggets of gold gleaming from the bed of mountain stream. The first section straight up infects us with the funk of a double bass and drum loop, peppered with climactic strings and whistles. Simple bass lines and fluttering echoes are present throughout each section as it is driven by delicate, captivating drum patterns. With all the karma of LTJ Bukem lazing in a sunny mountain rock pool, this spacious, ambient groove will have you laid back within seconds.

 


Mellow Sounds For Spring

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This month sees us waving goodbye to a season, a financial year and a relationship with our neighbouring continent. It’s been a hard search for new music, but we’ve managed to find some mellow tunes for the spring time to help us chill out in the longer evenings, whilst remembering that it’s still dark in the morning for a while yet … !

First on this month’s play list is Reaction by the Australian synth pop pairing of Amos and Emily. The track opens with a gentle filter which slowly reveals the soft velvet of Emily’s vocal. A complex backing arrangement of fizzing pads, keys, and sticky bass complements the simplicity of the singing, and opportune drops are bridged by subtle well placed motifs. This is a well crafted arrangement which you might find yourself whistling to.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, New Yorker Philosofie entices us with her mellow Flavors. Soulful trills of percussion meander with crisp, subtly filtered vocal droplets, and lounge rhythms prod and sway subtly under a skillful composition of simple arps and keys. The whole package well produced, and brings to mind butterflies and blossom floating out of sonic hibernation, so this is something for the dreamy.

Finally, we found No Desire To Wake Up from Russian producer Vodiche‘s current album The Tunnel. The dark mood of the track is indeed reminiscent  of underground passageways as the simple, clean particles of sound glint and sparkle across the stereo image. Combined with the anchor of no-frills acoustic drum textures, this is definitely one for fans of Orbital or other moody IDM.


Music With Character

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Welcome to our latest update from down here in the indietronica underground …

The playlist opens this month with Jigsaw Puzzle Glue as they give synthwave the Seattle treatment with 3-2-1, the first track on the current album. A guitar riff intro is echoed by synth bells, before simple yet familiar drum textures introduce synth bass stabs and Leah Rosen’s subdued vocals. The 1980s timbres are sculpted skilfully, and emotion pervades throughout the arrangement. The track peaks with a cascading wall of synth arpeggios and reverberating harmonies, all of which combine into some really personable retro synth pop.

Next, we found Not A Sign by The Tablets, released to us by boutique Brooklyn label Mon Amie Records. Immediately, we are pounced upon by this pacey pop punk with short stabs of hard-panned guitar distortion. A dirty synth wanders deep within the noise, and in all The Tablets’ bold production is both exciting and uncomplicated. This small label also provides a home for other interesting talents – why not try BreastMilk‘s Nite Life for shades of Add N to (X) and a shadow of Sheep On Drugs …?

Good Cool records introduced us to Questions About The Jungle by Seedge. A playful intro of synth noodling drops into a percussion track that shuffles with the riffs along with occasional decoration from the vocals. Whilst markedly less sinister, there is a slight feel of NIN’s Closer within this track, although it is certainly no emulation. The groove is compelling, and the mixture of synth parts is stimulating, so it’s definitely worth checking out the rest of the Seedge stream.

Finally, we have Ironface by Basic Printer on Newlywed Records. The track combines 8-bit and synthwave instrumentation with softer pads and leads, which add a gentler dynamic to complement the beautifully growling bass. Jesse Gillenwalters’  indie pop vocal sits comfortably against the serrated edge of chip-tune buzzes, and the experimental arrangement make this an adventure in synth pop with a subtle hint of the Sergeant Pepper.

 


Fresh New Sounds

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Welcome to our round up of new tracks discovered in the internet this month. Wrestling with the search engines in the online music community has proved challenging, but we have still managed to pull together a small clutch of tunes by underground producers that stand out from the crowd.

Meanwhile, resident producer Maze Car has been researching another genre of electronic music to accompany our next Electronic Music Adventure, following on from our deconstruction of techno back in December. Which style of music will we choose …? Watch this blog over the next few weeks to find out!

First up on the playlist this month is Chemistry by tv room, which presents us with some really fresh production techniques. Eli Ganem produces 8-bit bedroom hip-hop that carries melodic emotion and quirkiness together in perfect harmony. Game fx pitch and echo around a soft, restrained vocal; and voluminous stabs of well sculpted synths add an extra dynamic. The small collection of short songs on the tv room stream make for similarly intriguing listening, and this original writing is sure to find favour with followers of other experimentalists like Moloko and Broadcast.

Next, we found James Pond by Japanese theremin master Kuritez. This short piece is introduced by synthesised droplets that set the mood of water falling on water. Subtle percussion opens up the production as it continues to swell with analog bass, subtle bells and acoustic piano stabs. The drums mature into weighty band-limited bass and snare as the brighter layers of delayed, staccato synth arps continue to play off each other before the music submerges once more. Innovative sounds.

Finally, Jet Jazimov introduced us to Women Of Mars,  which, somewhat ironically, represents synthwave coming of age. Much music of this genre places its tongue firmly in its cheek and only aims to mimic the sound of the 1980s arcades and garish graphics. This track, however, harnesses romantic timbres and chord sequences above soft jangling guitar to produce a sensitive and genuine song. The wavering guitar progression and complementary synth interplay polish the track off sweetly. True.


The Darker Side of Indietronica

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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.

 

 

 


New Electronic Alt Pop from August 2016

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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.


Trip Hop Talent From June 2016

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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.

 


Addictive ambient, indie and trip hop for April 2016

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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.

 


Box-fresh synth pop, electronic grooves and style-busting drum and bass for March 2016

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Welcome to our latest update from the electronic music underground! We have a bit of a frog-flavoured theme this month, in order to celebrate a new demo from Voxel Records resident producer Maze Car. as ever, we also bring you a short playlist containing three more great tracks we discovered in the internet during the month of March.

The Maze Car demo currently goes under the working title Dub Croaky, and for a limited time you can download it for FREE at SoundCloud! This experiment combines some abrasive 8-bit tones with shuffling grooves and thick deep bass. It’s an epic journey that builds from basic beats into a trancey glitch-house workout – we hope you enjoy it!

First on the playlist for March is Trouble In My Head by Human Skills. This is the only track we found by this brand new, box-fresh band from somewhere in the USA. Launching into an up-tempo rhythm, the bendy, echoing synth motif takes the lead before the crystal clear vocals burst through like a shaft of light through an otherwise lo-fi mix. The wall of synth lines eventually gives way to a clean guitar solo and middle-8 (in true indie style), and there is enough freshness and familiarity to this music for it to find a home with all fans of indie synth pop. If this track serves to demonstrate their potential, we are expecting great things from Human Skills.

Having been available for two years, Rive Gauche by Carlini is not quite as new, but we are glad we found it. A slow, bouncy introduction with acoustic funk feel plays on before the piercing timbres of zither and thin synths form the true mood of the track.  The deep groove and the subtle bubbling of the bass mooch along until a neatly-etched passage of poetry finally plays the track out. This is a moody melting pot of influences that would be well received by any lovers of retro movie scores and Air.

Finally, we have Images With a Heartbeat by LA producer Hermetik. We are always pleased to discover a pioneering genre as we wander the internet in search of music, and this example of drill and bass introduces a new take on DnB. A simple hi-tempo synth arpeggio kicks off before the percussion takes control with a rigid, robotic jungle vibe. After a half-tempo breakdown, dark and dirty pads ebb and flow beneath the drums until more machine-edged synth motifs limp in and out of the mix. Make way for new wave industrial drum and bass!