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Monthly Archives: September 2004

Two Latter Day Trip-Hop MP3s

The worlds of hip-hop and ambient overlap more often than they collide, which is why Subtle is so welcome. An instrumental quintet plus vocalist, Subtle might find its albums and singles filed under trip-hop, or downtempo, or illbient for that matter, as two free MP3s on the website of its label, Lex, display. “Eneby Kurs,” off the forthcoming A New White, features a distracted keyboard flutter, a rich bridge of nonsense syllables and layered effects, and a bass line so sleepy it seems like at any moment it may nod off entirely (warning: by the end the cut has built to a noisy wall of sound, though the whole thing is so utterly unassuming you’ll wonder when, exactly, someone raised the volume). And “F.K.O.,” a recent single reminiscent of De La Soul, is a feat of pop minimalism just glistening beneath rapper Doseone’s nasal, artfully muffled wordstream. If you dig the song, pick up the release for the extra tracks: an instrumental edit, plus remixes by B. Fleischmann and Console. Both cuts represent a kind of “third way” for hip-hop, neither the fiscally obsessed narcissism of what rules the pop charts with commanding if high-priced beats, nor the often all too earnest enlightenment of so-called “conscious” (as in “socially conscious”) rap, which generally downplays the music in favor of the lyrics. Download Subtle’s “Eneby Kurs” here and “F.K.O.” here, and visit lexrecords.com for more info (among the assorted tidbits, Subtle was tapped to remix a track from the forthcoming Beck album). Oh, one more warning: the tracks are free, yeah, but they’re compressed at the substandard rate of 56 kbps.

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Mouse on Mars MP3 Freebie

“Mine Is In Yours” is not the best song ever recorded by Mouse on Mars. Long gone, apparently, are the days of the group’s production-music youth, when the team of Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma wrote elevator music for exotic shopping malls of the future on albums like Iaora Tahiti. No, the group has long since embraced proper songs, its lyrics processed through effects that serve primarily as an affectionate vestige of its halcyon, purely synthetic origin. The song is, however, a good opportunity to make note of music.download.com, the music wing of CNet’s download service, in which the “Electronic & Dance” category has myriad subsets (as of this typing, in alphabetical order: Acid, Ambient, Big Beats, Breakbeat/Breaks, Club/Dance, Dance, Dance-Pop, Deep House, Down Tempo, Drum N’Bass, Electro, Electronica, Euro-Dance, Experimental, Freestyle, Gabber, Game Soundtracks, Garage/House, Goa, Happy Hardcore, Hard House, Hard Trance, Hi-NRG, House, IDM, Industrial-Electronic, Intelligent Techno, Latin Dance, Minimal, Noise, Progressive/Dream, Techno, Teen Pop, Trance, Urban, Vocal House). The Mouse on Mars song file, the lead track off the recent Radical Connector album, is housed on the band’s home on the music.download.com site, here, filed generously under “Experimental.” More on the group at mouseonmars.com.

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BJ Cole Slide-tronic Album Tracks

When is a stream not a stream? When you click on it, and it downloads to your hard drive, which is the case, at least for the time being, for two RealAudio tracks off the new album by pedal-steel guitarist BJ Cole. The electronic world got wind of Cole’s broadminded, plugged-in surf music in 2000, when he collaborated with exotica’n’bass veteran Luke Vibert (aka Wagon Christ). The resulting album, Stop the Panic, didn’t yield either of their best work — common ground rarely being the most prized territory — but Cole’s new album, Trouble in Paradise (Cooking Vinyl), is worth a gander, as it reunites him with Vibert, and also features studio efforts by Brian Eno, Groove Armada, Bent, Kumo, Alabama 3 and others. The two Trouble in Paradise tracks currently on the CV label website, the title cut (lounge music for interstellar cruises) and “Surf Acid Hoedown” (think about the cast of Deliverance stumbling into a rave and making peace with the natives), mix his slide-mode guitar work with contemporary rhythms. Album info and tracks here.

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Half-Hour Ambient Set

A lengthy track by Blue Sky Research is mock-dismissed on its netlabel’s website: first, as an offhand, casual work (it was “recorded while testing some homegrown code for an upcoming gig,” in contrast with being some wholly planned sonic item); second, as distinctly less than eventful (“perfect for falling asleep to”). The former we’ll have to take their word for, but anyone who nods off to the track, “Firth of Tay Live” on the Hippocamp label, will miss a half hour or so of extended ambience, a fine blend of samples massaged to quiet-orchestral effect, and mixed with elements of field recordings. Perhaps it was a casual production, but that lack of conceit serves the project well. Like the code it was reportedly produced on, it sounds homegrown. Download it directly (caveat: it’s 45 megabytes in size) here, and visit the label at hippocamp.net.

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Stark Minimal Techno MP3 EP

Midway through last month, the audio irritants at 20kbps netlabel released Paranomia‘s EP Le Requiem Pour les Refrigerateures Solitaires — or, as they helpfully translate for us cognate-challenged types, Requiem for Lonely Refrigerators. From the coarse, scrunched sounds of the first of its four tracks, it’s quite possible to believe that audio emitted by an old Frigidaire is indeed the extent of Paranomia’s palette. But this is no concept album, which means you needn’t ponder the provenance of the pingy echo of “No Prestamos Servicio a los Viciosos” or hard distant techno of “Le Dompteur de Pingouins” in order to take pleasure in this often desperately minimal electronica. The 20kbps site credits Paranomia as “a sideproject by Estonian producer Talvel.” And it’s really no surprise that the landscape that gave us Arvo Part’s haunting minimalism would, a generation or three later, unleash such a parched and monastic digital music. In fact, the submerged vocals on “Les Fusillades Massives des Masses” could very well come from one of Part’s latter-day modernist Gregorian chants. Download a stuffed archive of the set, complete with “album” art, here. And visit the label at 20kbps.sofapause.ch.

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