Album: Jacques – A Lot of Jacques (2017)

This week, 31th January, the English electronic-music and technology Fact Magazine featured the French music producer Jacques in their Against the Clock series. According to them, one of the weirdest episodes of the series, for Synths of Eden, this was one of the best and most intriguing episodes . Against the Clock gives music producers 10 minutes to produce a track, in this case, Jacques appeared there with lots of objects that could be improvised as music instruments, when recorded via microphones attached to guitar pedals, such as an elastic rubber band that could be used to make a bassline and a drill that could be used to perform a lead synth. The reason why Jacques started to use instruments like this was the fact that he couldn’t afford real instruments when he started out to make music.

Quoting FACT: “Now he tours the world with his homemade orchestra of scrapers, cups, wooden spoons and other ephemera, recording them and putting them through an array of pedals, loopers and samplers.”

Apart from being an outstanding live performer with awkward improvised instruments attached to guitar pedals, he also does a great work in studio, as shown by his 2017 releases, such as “A Lot of Jacques”, embedded below. Released by French label, Pain Surprises.

Moreover, Jacques also recorded a multi-lingual album, in which he released his single “Dans la Radio” in 7 different languages, including Esperanto, French, English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Arabic.

His 2017 album, A Lot of Jacques, features 6 different short tracks with around 6 minutes, all of them a more “house-like” electronic music to more experimental downtempo styles of electronic music. Plus 3 tracks that are longer, with more than 9 minutes, such as Limbo in Limbo, Bushwack on the Dancefloor and Escape from Boredom. All the tracks have singular music instrumentation, as evidenced by his Agains the Clock performance, Jacques is not any regular music producer. It is also possible to buy his merch, such as music in vinyl on the following link: https://bigwax.fr/fr/pain-surprises

Crooks & Lovers – Mount Kimbie (2010)

In 2017 Mount Kimbie released the album Love What Survives, with many features, such as James Blake. They claimed to have used mainly two synthesizers on the album, both vintage korgs: the MS-20 and Korg Delta. However, what will always be marked as Mount Kimbie’s signature sound is their debut album Crooks & Lovers, from 2010. By that time called post-dubstep. The album has notorious tracks such as Carbonated.

Mount Kimbie is an English electric duo consisted by Dominic Maker and Kai Campos, formed in 2008.  Starting out in the dubstep scene with early EPs such as Maybes and Sketch on Glass.  Having critical acclaim, the duo released, later on, in 2010 their debut Crooks & Lovers. The duo used field recordings, samples and live instrumentation to create the album.  Released by Hotflush Recordings. Produced by both artists.  Tracks such as Would Know and Mayor are dancing, yet experimental. Others, such as Ode to a Bear touch a more drone style, with long lines of synths and drums out of synchrony. Beats that recall trip-hop, such as Portishead, with a more experimental touch.

 

Long Live Death! Down with the Intelligence! – The Suicide of Western Culture (2015)

Today it was shared on Soundcloud the album from a band from Barcelona, The Suicide of Western Culture, album entitled Long Live Death! Down with the Intelligence, released 2015.

This is post-rock with heavy electronic influences, such as drone-music, marked by amazing synthesizers that are combined with cinematographic samples. Using great thematics in the tracks, with songs that posses appealing titles. The sound reminds a lot bands such as Mogwai. However, not limiting to the post-rock field and far crossing the genre borders to a more electronic style of music.

It is also possible to check their discography in Bandcamp for more info.

Album Review: Automat – Automat (1978)

The album Automat produced in 1977 and released in 1978 by italian duo Romano Musumarra and Claudio Gizzi, aka Automat. Released by EMI Italia. What is more curious about this album is that all the sounds in the album were produced using an MCS70, a synthesizer that was only one time produced. Automat is recognised for having played this synthesizer and produced the album with the same name.

The MCS70 was a monophonic synthesizer designed, built and programmed by Italian engineer Mario Maggi. Automat was Mussumara’s initiative , after learning about the instrument and proposing it to EMI Italia, through Harvest Records.  Claudio Gizzi was added to the project from EMI, for being a more experienced composer. Side A is attributed to Claudio and side B to Romano. SIde A sounds more ambient, side B sounds more epic and dancing. In total there are 6 tracks with around 5 minutes each. In total they had only 4 weeks in the studio, being the last track, Mecadence, incomplete.

Both composers used the 64 presets in the synthesizer, provided by Mario Maggi himself. The only requirement is that only the MCS70 was used to create the album.  Though a total failure by the time it was released, that didn’t leave both composers satisfied, the album is nowadays well respected by critics. Jean Michel Jarre was the first one to get a copy of the album. While Automat was being produced, Jarre released his Oxygene, album.

Album Review: Ryuchi Sakamoto, Alva Noto – Vrioon (2002)

A music collaboration worth mentioning is the one between Ryuchi Sakamoto and Alva Noto, with their debut album beeing Vrioon (2002). Sakamoto, from pioneering Japanese synthpop, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and Alva Noto that started his career as an architect, released his debut album in 2000, by Mille Plateux, a label from Frankfurt specialised in glitch and minimal techno and later on creating his co-owned label Raster.Norton.  Alva Noto does mainly glitch music with heavy synthesizers. It is an experience with sounds and production of music with noises.  Sakamoto, allies his experience as a piano composer and performer, together create Vrioon.

Very minimalist work, followed by other four collaboration between both artists (Insen, 2005; Revep, 2006; utp_, 2008; Summvs, 2011). The work follows the glitch style of Alva Noto mixed with distorted piano recordings performed by Ryuchi Sakamoto. It gives a calm feeling, as if the glitchy noises of Alva Noto fills the remixed piano recordings provided by Sakamoto, causing the symbiosis of chords as a big melodies, turned into music, filling entire tracks. Alva Noto plays with long basslines and the sub-low notes of synthesizers, making high notes with glitches and noises, as sequences.

(Sónar São Paulo, May 2012, at Anhembi)

All the albums that feature Ryuchi Sakamoto and Alva Noto were released by Raster.Noton, the label belonging to Alva Noto himself, together with Olaf Bender and Frank Bretschneider. They are all works worth-listening, as they follow the same line. They are called Virus series, as the first letter from the albums form the word ‘virus’. Both have performed together, such as the video above in 2012, they have toured the world, including Sónar Festival.

 

Mr. Bungle – Mr. Bungle (1991)

For those who never listened to Mr. Bungle before, embrace yourselves, this is not an usual piece. The album starts with the famous Quote Unquote (originally called Travolta), a track that shared both the great pre-Faith no More vocals of Mike Patton, as much as singular and mind-blowing instrumentals. Mr.Bungle is the kind of work you listen and think “How come this is possible and it sounds so great?”. If only Frank Zappa and Miles Davis could come back to life and listen this.

Mr. Bungle is well-know for being an experimental rock band from USA during the 90s, that had no person less than Mike Patton in the vocals, that stood with the band until 1999. Produced by John Zorn and released by Warner Bros in 13th August, 1991. The album was recorded in San Francisco, California, at Different Fur studio.  Although considered as an experimental album, it is possible to identify it as a multi-genre album, with a mix of heavy metal, jazz-fusion, ska and carnival music. This album is appealing for progressive music fans, for a more open minded public. In one single track, such as Slowly Growing Deaf, it can shift from a death metal to jazz and ends with a sample of a person probably taking a dump. After all, a band that has Mike Patton in the vocals can be nothing else than unconventional.

The band was composed by six members: Mike Patton, as Vlad Drac, on keyboards, vocals and production. Danny Heifetz, as Heifetz, on the drums and production. Trey Spruance, as Scummy, playing guitars, keyboard and also in the production. Trevor Dunn, as Trevor Roy Dunn, on the bass guitar and production. Clinto McKinnon, as Bär, on the saxophone and production. Theo Lengyel, with alto saxophone, baritone saxophone and production.

The album cover was designed by Dan Sweetman, originally published in the story A Cotton Candy Autopsy for DC Comics/Piranha Press, in Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children.

Besides being a great studio work, Mr.Bungle was also a band with outstanding live performances, such as the one in Club Lingerie, in Los Angeles, 10th January, some months before the album release:

Soundcloud: Synths of Eden – January Picks 2018

It was just uploaded in our Soundcloud page (embeded) a playlist with all the tracks curated, shared or covered by Synths of Eden in this January of 2018. Hope you all enjoy this first ever Soundcloud playlist by this blog. With the tracks that drew our attention in this month of January, 2018.

New Album Review: Breidablik – Penumbra (2017)

Penumbra, in latin, means half-light, where the light meets the shadow. This feeling can be achieved by music. Penumbra, from the Norwegian artist, Breidablik, comes as new material to be covered on the blog.

Being the second full-length album from Breidablik, it is composed by four tracks. The two first called Panumbra, Pt. 1 and 2. Followed by Nehalennia and The Chariots of The Sun. It is definitely a concept album composed by synthesizers, exploring the forces of light and darkness. Breidablik  aims to construct ‘electronic landscapes with sequences, drones and ambient textures’. Inspired by German ambient classics, from the Berlin school, such as Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Michael Hoenig, with his own personal touch.

The tracks’ intros bring a lot of ambient sounds, that recall pretty much nature with an odd feeling imposed by the darkness, such as the intro from Nehalennia. Together with The Chariots of The Sun, shorter tracks, when compered to the tracks that name the album Penumbra, Pt 1, 19 minutes, and Pt 2, 11 minutes. The four tracks give the same feeling when listening. It is very atmospheric, there are no evidences of drums. It is pure progressive electronic music. With ups and downs. The synths are very melodic, followed by sequences.

Breidablik distribute his music on Bandcamp, it is possible to order vinyls. The album is released by Pancromatic records, it was recorded on the studio Wahnsinn-Idyll during spring 2017, all performed, composed and produced by Breidablik himself. The album cover features a photo of Marius Birkeland Nielsen and designed by Petter Sundnes.  The official date of release was 13th November. Check his Bandcamp for more info.

Album Review: Tryo – Antologia Elétrica – 30 years (to be released)

Synths of Eden is a big supporter of progressive rock, as we launched the Spotify playlist Brasil Progressivo, with the best all-time Brazilian progressive rock and  its influences.

Chile is a hub for creative artists, when it comes to all-genres. A place well-know for its beauty, great affordable wine and  artists, such as Pablo Neruda for poetry and Alejandro Jorodowski for the cinema. It also comes in my mind the indie-pop with artists such as Javiera Mena and Alex Anwandter. Chile is well-know for its high amount of metal bands, as I recently discovered with this graphic.

Tryo, a progressive-fusion band from Valparaíso, on tour around the world, to celebrate their 30 years are releasing an anthology, called Antologia Elétrica.  The album was recorded by: Ismael Cortez, guitars, keyboards and vocal; Felix Carbone, drums; and Francisco Cortez, bass, vocals and cello. The albums also feature other guess artists in different tracks. Some songs have short vocals, others are mainly instrumental; however, when the band sings with lyrics, they are amazing poems in Spanish. The instrumental looks much alike the first works of Yes, such as the bass from late Chris Squire.

In a total of 13 tracks, some of them long others short, around 3 or 4 minutes. The album starts with an amazing track called Valparaíso Psicodélico (shared on Soundcloud). Starting with samples, of the seaside, proper of Valparaíso, that then shifts to keyboards, drums and guitars that bring up all the best of progressive rock tradition. Including a cello. After that, the album is followed by Viaje Cosmico, Órbitas and Círculos. Songs that also open their album Órbitas (available on streaming in Spotify). There are amazing vocals and instrumentals.  Followed by smaller quasi-instrumentals, such as Ventana and Tierra, to again proceed to a full-7 minute song Vive, more mellow, that reminds the progressive phase of Iron Maiden. Latino reminds a lot the works of Carlos Santana in the early phase of his career. Niebla is a instrumental, it makes justice to its name, meaning ‘fog’ in English. As for Condensiación, starts pretty much as an ambient song with guitars and ends incredibly with energetic vocals:

“Juntos sí, juntos como uno (Together, together like one)
Juntos sí, juntos somos uno” (Together, yes … together we are one)”.

The thematic of the lyrics remind a lot Brazilian rock from the 80s, that brought themes such as social justice and important political facts, such as empowerment of the people against oppression. As much as for transcendental travels.

The last three tracks are live: Nueva Época, Justice and Bloques.

While the album is not officially released, their previous 3 albums (Órbitas, Dos Mundos, from 2002, and Viajes)  are available in streaming platforms.

 

New Music: Darko Richards – Point of Departure (2018)

2018 has been revealing new artists to follow and different creative material. Synthwave is a nice style that bring back analogue synths and try to give a revival to the creative synthpop from the 80s; however, it can also get over-saturated with repetitive works as much as it happened before with brostep or the overflow of deep house some years ago, not more of the same please. Happily, this is not the case for Darko Richards and Point of Departure, where synthwave is summed with electric guitars riffs. His debut album shows interesting material to listen when it comes to this genre.  Synths of Eden is here to appreciate artists that do things out of the curve.

Point of Departure has 11 tracks, some of them posted on Soundcloud. Anima is an interesting material that has evolving bass lines, electric guitar and samples.  It is modern electronic music, influenced by rock with a retro feeling, that even adds riffs with distortion at some points. Searching, Proximity (with distinctive electronic-rock drums) and Who You Are features the vocal of Cassandra Lark.  Richard Valds, from Miami-USA, aka Darko Richards claims his material is cinema-inspired, with influences that range from Kavinsky to Radiohead and Muse. If you are a rock fan or appreciate nice electric guitar riffs, Not far from the Tree is a track for you.