Tag: music

New Alt Pop

Lifecycle

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

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

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

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


Deep and Diverse

deep and diverse music

Welcome to the latest Voxel Records news from March 2018!

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

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

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

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

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

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


Go Boldly

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

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

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

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

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


Abstract Ambience

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

staffie graffiti

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.

 


Wild Ambient Spaces

misty mellotron wilderness

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.

 


Music With Character

voxel records

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

voxel records pixel headphones

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.


Fresh drops of new music from the cloud

voxel records je suis paris banner

And we continue: the winter holiday season is approaching, so if you are wondering what to give your fellow electrophile buddies for xmas, why not snide on over to our NEW GEAR STORE …?

Voxel Records 909 Boom Hoodie

909 BoomVoxel Records 8-bit Love T-Shirt8-bit Love TeeVoxel Records Egg Beat TeeEgg Beat Tee

We are now offering a new line in high quality clothing and accessories, each adorned with exclusive Voxel Records designs. As ever, we also bring you another selection of the music we discovered as we crawled around the internet this month – check out the reviews below and listen to it all on the playlist.

For Voxel resident Maze Car, it’s out with the new and in with the old as he gears up for his next vintage sound experiments, so there are beats and beeps galore over at DAW ’84. He also promises to upload the results of the current project to the cloud when the studio stops crashing :s

First up on the playlist this month is Horizon by French producer Hubrid. This track is immediately reminiscent of Tron: Legacy era Daft Punk, at least in terms of timbre and tempo. The production style stands up to further scrutiny with its leaping synth arpeggios, podgy drums and epic underlying pads – but develops a darker edge as the riffs become more gritty towards the drop. It is the length of the track that leaves us wanting more – so if you are still hungry after this taster, then check out the other similarly styled tracks on the Hubrid stream.

Next is Venom by American producer Telekrex. He specialises in twisting effected synths (and indeed other sounds) into workouts that ooze fat, juicy tones right across the spectrum. This example of his work is suitably aggressive in terms of rhythm and filtering, which results in a distinctive down-tempo dub sound. The Telekrex stream mutates between ambient and modern dub styles and provides plenty to sink your teeth into.

Finally, we present Firecrackers by Kristaps Locmelis. Here, laid back jazz licks on the guitar are underpinned by a sparse, shuffling beat. The drums grow from seemingly organic roots, but are fashioned with electronic duality as vintage strings reverberate from beneath. Any followers of electrophonic crossovers like Broadcast and Air will appreciate the vibes emanating the Kristaps Locmelis catalog.