Tag: maze car

Dubstep: Psycho Acoustics

staffie graffiti

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Formula Techno

Techno Music Mind

 

Here at Voxel Records, we spend a lot of time listening to new and interesting music, and we fill the pages of our blog with words trying to describe the experience. Transforming music into words is something that one could argue is pointless, because music refreshes the parts of the soul that words cannot reach – or at least it does so in a different way. Does anyone know what dark neurofunk cinematic dnb actually is …?

Words are still useful, though. You can probably scan a blog like this for a flavour of sound, without needing to gorge on the hours of tunes that we did in order to write it.

In the first of a series of adventures, we aim to explore the music behind the label of techno that is applied to music by journalists and record stores. What attributes music to this category, where did the genre originated and what it has become …?

Techno Origins

The general consensus is that techno was born in the clubs of Detroit in the early 1990s, where early synth sounds peddled by the likes of Kraftwerk and Moroder were melded with Afro-American funk and jazz. On the face of it, detecting traces of funk and jazz in today’s techno tracks is pretty hard – so perhaps our investigations will shed a bit more light on that aspect.

The term techno is most likely coined because the music was constructed from regimented and synthetic sounds, generated by nightclub warhorses like the Roland TR-808 drum machine. Even in the 90s though, this technology was retro enough to be picked up cheap at a yard sale – probably because it was totally shit at sounding like an acoustic drum and couldn’t replace a good drummer. But as history has taught us, one man’s shit drum is another’s percussive demigod. Nowadays, these wee beasts change hands for astronomical sums.

Whichever way you look at it, techno was something that people could dance to in a club without the need to bring in a large disco entourage. The tempo and key of two tracks could be synchronized easily, allowing DJs to play a crowd non-stop, and all night long.

New Originals

The early days of techno produced classic tracks that may sound rather puny today, but at the time made bold statements and got people moving to a new arrangement of sounds and rhythms. Richie Hawtin’s Plastikman guise brought us Spastik: This is little more than a weedy drum workout to some ears, but at its conception it was ground-breaking, and from this stem much did grow.

Within the simple burbling staccato of Carl Craig’s Sandstorms, rhythms play with each other and develop organically. This is where a jazz influence can be detected, albeit in a regimented and computerized form. Taking a simple one or two bar lick, repeating it, and developing layers and undertones over a constant groove is a hallmark of techno.

Another key piece of technology in the early days was the sampler. However, these digital recorders could hold little more than a drum loop or a vocal hook, so hardware synthesizers still provided most elements of the music, as can be heard in KGB’s Stark.

A dark minor key was also an ally to many early tracks – Joey Beltram’s Energy Flash shows how sinister monotonic prods control the mood. It is safe to say that melody and chord progressions were not a priority for early techno producers.

A generation of producers like Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson are now considered techno pioneers, all of whom are now international superstar DJs.

Techno Production

Let’s get our hands a bit dirtier now. There are some tell-tale attributes that define a techno track, and these prevent it from slipping into other nearby classifications like house or trance.

In terms of tempo, techno tracks tend to tick between 120 bpm and 140 bpm, although hard techno gets a rave up towards 150 bpm. This kind of speed means that even the slower tracks are sufficient to get the blood pumping.

Tracks are usually longer than 5 minutes and will sometimes run to 10, which lets the clubber soak up the development of a track. A novice listener may easily be fooled into thinking that the tracks eke out the minutes by monotonous repetition, but good techno producers will always keep some aspect of the music changing and developing throughout.

Melody is not a feature of techno music. This may be because it is easier to mix tracks with little variation in pitch and tempo when there is minimal adjustment available on the decks; but it also allows the producers to manipulate the listener through other musical dimensions. Some tracks may have long chord progressions, but these would be verging on the trance – techno tries to stick to extremely simple, monotonic rhythms. Those productions that venture into the melody will either exploit automated arpeggios, or ham-fisted three-note stabs.

Rhythms are usually anchored around the ubiquitous 4-to-the-floor bass drum pattern. This is keeps the pace, and allows other percussive motifs to be developed as the track progresses; usually with hi-hats. It is rare to hear a snare drum in techno. The tones of the bass drum and hats are split evenly across the frequency spectrum, but a snare drum just takes up too much bandwidth. As a result, the snare drum can distract the listener from other more subtle variations within the music.

The weapons of choice for drums are the tinny 808 and 909 drum boxes, but these offer quite a wide variation in sound. A techno bass drum often defines the character of the track, ranging from hollow, open acoustic emulations to tight, clicking pulses.

The final ingredient is timbre, and here it is common to hear synthetic bells, pulses and pads. There is quite a lot of sonic breadth, though, ranging from organic, tribal instruments through to hollering analog Junos and whistling digital Korg M1s. Modern tracks also exploit all manner of effects in the form of filters, delays and distortion to twist and turn the flavour of simple base sounds. The aim is to find textures that can be intertwined, generating subliminal undertones that mysteriously ebb and flow within the mind. The techno producer will identify these hidden pathways, and exploit them as the track develops. This explains why a good production becomes mesmerizing whilst still being minimal.

The technique also influences the arrangement of the track. Long periods will be spent building the mood from layers of synths and percussion, and whilst not much has really changed, the listener has been taken on an epic journey. Lengthy ambient drops reset the mood so it can be taken in other directions. Such intermissions are drawn out and not predictably placed by drum fills, crescendos and risers like they are in dub-step and trance.

Modern Techno

The base form of techno has moved on much in the last twenty-five years. Cutting-edge producers experiment and cross over with other styles. A quick quasi-scientific, pseudo-random cross-section of on-line record boxes provides a good state of the nation report.

The rumbling, rolling drums and bass of Artefakt build up into a simple melody that drifts like a cool breeze on a warm summer night, and this ticks all the techno boxes. Conversely, the sticky, vinylized drums, speech synthesis and clanky acidic bells of Bjarki are abstract and eccentric.

Somewhere in between the subliminal and the computerized fits Dr. Double Face, where 8-bit monotony is also present, but somehow these non-musical tones overlap and collide into some happy accident. Some offerings from Gemini offer funkier shuffles with boxy drums and cheesy riffs, showing that modern techno loves to ride the technical limits of sound processing.

Ever present, though, is the technique of building percussive patterns and minimal melodic content, as is demonstrated by recent Illektrolab releases which border on the abstract with fizz and bubble.

Compulsive Sounds 

From this deconstruction, we have found that a jazz influence still lurks beneath the unadventurous melodies of techno. Instead of virtuoso musicianship, the frequency spectrum itself is where the magic lies. The listener can be wholly enveloped by slowly changing atmospheres over a long period of time, becoming wrapped up in the moment and carried along by friendly forces. The euphoria induced by this combination is somewhat inevitable, because the qualities of techno appeal to ancient, tribal and subliminal receptors deep within our human brains. So, whilst the music may be simple and repetitive in construction, it has the power to affect us much more deeply than we might expect.

The human body responds both physiologically and psychologically to the deeply penetrating frequencies of the bass drum. In the social context of the club, this constant rhythm, the evolving timbres and accompanying light shows explain why many find that the music breaks down boundaries and unifies people.

The genre of pure techno is probably more capable of inducing trance-like symptoms than music that is assigned the modern (commercial) label of “trance”. Where trance tends towards melodic and timbral feelgood factors, techno exploits the rhythmical and the subliminal.

There is a whole bunch of science about all this, but in short, techno affects your brain and body, and this can be as pleasurable as you want it to be. Despite the face-value monotony and slow variation, you may find it helps your mind expand and your body move. Whereas the sub-genre of “hard techno” may be designed for infectious, high energy clubbing, the experimental and pure forms of techno open up many dimensions.

The Red Six Production

To put research into production, we set about playing around in the RedSix studio, enlisting the help of Voxel Records‘ resident producer Maze Car. You can read about how he created the track on his blog – and the result is free to listen and download right here:

 


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.


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

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.

 


New innovations in electronica and techno

spook key apple

Welcome to our latest update from the world of underground music! During the month of February we have found some more awesome tunes as producers make use of their influences to transcend typical genres. The very nature of these crossovers means that we can’t put a label on the music – and that’s just the way we like it!

Maze Car has spent the last few weeks crossing various boundaries of his own, using some delicious new synths to explore the grooves that lurk between dub, chiptune and house. Head over to the Maze Car blog to hear about how he is stitching his latest demo together.

First on the playlist, though, is From Within, by Canadian synthwave sci-fi gurus c+d. This song is driven from the outset by stabs of thin bass and hissing snares, and the mood is lifted by every iteration of the powerful chorus. The mix fills with dirty synth-vox and wiry strings, and Donna’s vocals gain a dramatic urgency as she tries to keep her head above water. The c+d sound is reminiscent of Broadcast and Add N to (X) (wink), but there are also clear nods to NIN and Depeche Mode. There are more great sounding songs on their stream – so go have a listen!

Next up is Tune WIth Horse by aLLriGhT (featuring Horse). This pair of London DJs drops us straight into rude, spitting synths and heavy, plodding drums. The basic monotonic riff does battle with pitch bending buzzes and shredded arcade effects, resulting in a sound potent enough to demolish the sound system without the need for excessive bpm. Mike and Luke throw slow, weighty techno that was born and razed on the dance floor – keep checking their blog for more releases throughout this year. This is loud. With added Horse.

Finally, Irrealiser beta is the very latest from Japan-based producer Christmas (a.k.a. Dear McQueen), and the track is available for free download. The music has all the power of that uplifting, big hall techno vibe, but it is constructed from a brighter sonic palette and more stimulating grooves. The aggressive synths squawk and squeal over the boom of the beats, resulting in a style that takes old-skool Faithless to a new level of breaks, grit and groovy bass.

 


Festive Tones From Electronic Wonderland

Festive 3D Baubles

Hello again, and welcome to the latest VXLRCRDS update. We have recently noticed that the internet may be in need of some stitching, because it seems to be leaking vowels. Whether this is in homage to major acts, the effect of an increase in the price of column inches or just some l33t-punk way of dealing with predictive text, we just can’t tell. Either way, a trend that seemingly bubbled up from the tunnels of underground music has now trickled into Twitter handles and beyond. We are sure that history will eventually let us know what caused this, but until then, why not enjoy some more of the tunes we found this month …?

Maze Car is pleased to announce the first mix of his new demo – listen to Those Shallow Games now on Soundcloud! Lovingly assembled from squelchy 8-bit gizmos and subtle but funky breaks, a few more tweaks are expected before a single release in 2016 – we hope you enjoy this preview!

First on the playlist this month is Bloom Sequence by En Snares, which is the first from his current long player All Tomorrow’s Yesterdays. A heavy, syncopated beat thumps at the subtly-glitched pads beneath as they heave like a pit of molten lava. The weighty filter swell then drives the track forward as an auto-tuned vocal creeps in, and the menacing lyrics complement the depth of the tones at work. Aspects of glitch, dub and noise are all evident in this down-tempo and moody production, so it’s well worth exploring the rest of the album.

Next up is Aout-kush by Leto Nojey. This track is constructed from three primary stems, each of which raises and lowers its profile as the piece progresses. First is a delicate ambient guitar intro, treated with a subtle delay, which soon gives way to free-form beats accentuated by the whip of a hefty snare drum. Finally, a deep bass riff drives beneath the other instruments to assume control, whilst sweet acoustic cymbal tones provide extra freshness to this well-formed production.

The last tune this month is Gangsta Walk by Dubtone. This track is one of only two available from this Romanian producer of meaty dub. The unassuming build-up of piano and hi-hats lifts the aura before the tune plunges like a guillotine into a filthy, funky dub-step breakdown and howling acid drop. The brilliance of the track lies in its simple but tasty fx, and it would definitely form a great strobe-fueled filler in the club. We’re looking forward to more output from the Dubtone!

 

 

 


New music treats from the indie electronica underground

Voxel Zombie Controller

Spooky. It’s nearly Halloween, so the Christmas lights are going up in the neighbourhood. Here at Voxel Records, our tiny minds can only handle one capitalist festival at a time, and only then in chronological order. So we are keeping close to tradition by providing you with a loosely horror-related graphic. And some awesome tunes!

Maze Car has experienced some more tech problems recently. There has been a bit of a horror-show in the studio whilst porting to Windows (so-called) 10, and what seems like a tidal wave of updates to Apple devices. But after all this, the break-bit tune project continues with help from Donkey Kong and Pocket Simon …

First up on the playlist this month is Socio by Wing Tip which represents one of the more recent offerings from this UK producer. We are thrown straight into a shuffling house beat and a powerful, flowing chord progression, which is subsequently peppered with a haunting vocal stab. It gradually builds layers which generate subtle underlying melodies, and the ensemble swells into a turbulence of echoing synths until the drop. This interlude is groovy but brief, before we are launched once again into the wall of sound for a climax. It’s the funky shuffle of the beat that gives this track the edge, and the layers of timbre and melody strengthen the appeal.

Voyager by Exile Pots is one of many abstract, experimental and captivating creations from the Exile Pots back catalog that we discovered recently. The release is by no means new material (having originally been recorded some time ago), but it is new to our ears and maybe yours. The lonely chimes from deep space echo, loop and dance like stars and planetary orbits, and whilst the parent Randomiser EP explores various sonic themes, Voyager is a particularly sweet and gentle example. Inspirational stuff, and lots of it!

Alright by suiix is the result of an apparently international collaboration (Berlin and Sydney) led by Sarah Julienne. The song impresses with mellow, breathy vocals and is blessed with subtle strokes from some skilled guitar drops. The beats stumble and stutter along a trip-hop vein, with pitched percussion peeping through the mix as the creation develops into a cascading flurry of strings, wandering vocals and wild intertwining guitar solos. Altogether this demonstrates some innovative production and arrangements, so hopefully we can expect more from this group in the near future.

 


Voxel Records Newsletter August 2015

 

If a comet was indeed destined to eliminate planet earth in the next month or so, then this does not give us nearly enough time to PANIC. Some say that the offending comet sounds like “hell” but if it’s anything like Rosetta, we think it sounds kinda cute.  Instead of living in abject fear of Armageddon this month, we have been collecting a few more choice echoes from the deep space of electronic music. Not only this, but we have also started generating playlists across various music platforms … keep your eyes on the Voxel Records news feed for the stuff we find!

Maze Car is currently on a voyage of discovery, attempting to create chiptune breaks in 8 bits (or less). We expect some funky, crunchy demos to be emerging soon enough – but just how much can the Maze Car squeeze out of his vintage toy collection?

What else did we find this month?

H-arth by Hyph-n – This producer from Melbourne commits to posting a new track every two weeks. This recent output demonstrates Hyph-n‘s consistent style well: singing synths and dry, weighty basslines play off each other over a laid back tempo. H-arth is full-on and close-up, tripping between a spiky trap impro and a more organic, mellow groove which reclines into the shadows. A bit like star-bathing under a cool night sky.

Co-Star by Michael Lantela – Co-Star opens with sticky glitch-esque trills, and the atmosphere builds into a cogent, rolling trip-hop beat with swirling effects. The bass growls menacingly throughout, and whilst the underlying percussion is often complex, the sheer mass of the crunchy drums keeps a solid underlying rhythm. Further nods to chip-tune and ambient are noted in this heavy, down-tempo affair.

Try To Forget by Laugh Lines – This tune dives into dark, distorted dub waves from the start. it swells and subsides between well-placed breakdowns, and Letitia’s sweet and clipped vocals provide the sheen on the finished product. much like lighting a match in a dark hall, this track illuminates and burns brightly before smouldering to an end in a faint puff of smoke.