Thursday, July 18, 2013

Recommended - ZoiD - Lyphyz Drumpdrops

Released on the increasingly prolific Boy Scout Audio label, Lyphyz Drumpdrops is the latest release from Dublin-based musician and producer Daniel Jacobson. Jacobson is founder of Diatribe Records and the curator of its Tronix Series, which aims "to encourage electronic music makers and composers to collaborate in unusual ways".
That collaborative approach between contrasting influences is reflected in his pedigree-not just a producer but a jazz musician and a member of numerous groups. It's also reflected in works like 2007's ZoiD Versus The Jazz Musicians Of Ireland.

As such it's not surprising that his latest EP doesn't really stick to any one style or approach. Opener 'jazzfishegg3' alternates between airy melodies, abrasive, jittery sound FX and subtly shifting rhythms in that early-90s IDM vein. 'East Berlin 1966' retains a certain percussive harshness but is less busy tempo-wise, slowly unfurling from an atmospheric guitar-picked intro into expansive mood music. The brass-infused 'Richman's Folly' has the air of a noble, somewhat mournful marching band. 'Rye' then takes another sharp left-turn; giddy 8-bit-tinged electronics complete with malfunctioning breakdown. Remixes are provided by Eomac and Blipper.

Also recommended is this live set recorded at the Workmans Club - ZoiD joined by Bill Blackmore on trumpet and Chris Engel on alto sax.

A track from the Lyphyz Drumpdrops EP as well as a couple of Boy Scout Audio labelmates feature on the first Electric Whipcrack podcast which is streaming on Mixcloud, incidentally.

Monday, July 8, 2013

recommended - The Last Sound - Rainbow Xplode

The Last Sound - Rainbow Xplode             (Osaka)

The artwork and title of The Last Sound's newest release seems to lay its aesthetic cards on the table pretty emphatically: bright bursts of kaleidoscopic colour combined with a hazy filter effect; human figures foregrounded but with their features obscured (indeed there's a definite Boards Of Canada vibe to the cover art). As a pointer to the sounds contained within it's both apt and possibly misleading: Instagram'd chillwave nostalgia is not quite their game; instead, trying to sum up their spectrum of sounds is to risk sounding like an over-excitable NME scribe. Think an invigorating mix of shoegaze, psychedelic pop, krautrock, komische, prog and 80s-new-wave elements. Think of the vaporous, fleeting beauty of the titular optical phenomenon.

Barry Murphy, who more or less is The Last Sound (with drummer Bryan O' Connell a recurring contributor) and has been for over a decade now, has spoken of the markedly pop influence permeating Rainbow Xplode; but the album's accessibility is tempered by multilayered song structures and a certain austere undertow (evident in the mantra-like quality of some of the vocals). Lilting, buoyant lead single 'Sun Forever' has a melancholic and bittersweet quality to it ("sun gone forever"), while the chanted vocals on its coda seem to come from a celestial place. Transcendence is a recurring theme.

The Last Sound: Sun Forever from Osaka Records on Vimeo.

A defining characteristic of the album is the way song structures tend to part and allow intense, dazzling bursts of light in. It's a trick repeated on 'Into Something', 'Three Rock' and 'Brighter', but it's kept fresh by the varying, labyrinthine ways that its set up - 'Three Rock' in particular moves through a succession of clever  sections and sub-sections, its rhythm and instrumentation constantly shifting. 'Into Something''s fleet-footed synth pulse, meanwhile, builds momentum to such an extent that it hurtles into the climactic chorus like a train derailing.

Towards the latter stages of the album, things take on a more heads-down quality, with an increased focus on sustaining a groove rather than pulling the rug out from under it. The shimmering 'Motorik Pain' slows the laser-guided flight-path of something like Primal Scream's 'Shoot Speed/Kill Light', giving the track an impression of mirage-like stasis and irresistible motion at the same time.