Tag Archives: dark

Spaciously Heavy New Album From Portland’s Natasha Kmeto!

On a random whim today I heard about a brand new album release from an artist I’ve heard a bit from, seen a few times, and met once or twice: Natasha Kmeto.  I first heard about Natasha through a series of events from Live’n’Love Productions up in Seattle, run by an old homie, Kyle.  Somehow Kyle had stumbled across her (as she’s from Portland, OR), and started booking her at random L’n’L events.  Believe I eventually saw her at one of the Photosynthesis Festivals of years past, and I remember being fairly stoked at how avant-garde the approach was to her own music.  I’ve since moved to the middle of no where California, and only heard a tiny snippets about her, here and there, until today.

It’s not often I toss down $10 for a 30-minute album without having heard most of it, but knowing she’s in the extended Fam, I went for it – and I’m quite happy I did.  The album starts out with the title track ‘Crisis‘, potentially my favorite off the album after a few listens.  Synth heavy and semi-retro sounding, her gut-wrenching vocal pulses wash over you as a very minimal trap beat exercises itself beneath all the other layers.  If all trap sounded like this, I’d listen to a lot more of it.  The album progresses into ‘Idiot Proof‘ which brings to the table a more vocal oriented track, letting everyone know that she ‘needs peace from all the things she’s supposed to be’.  Not knowing Natasha well enough, I’m not exactly sure what she’s talking about, but she gets the point across easily in minor chords with a very distant house beat in the background, surrounded by heavily arpeggiated synths.

The album is very mature, spacing out the tracks where her voice is the focal point, with many tracks consisting of clever vocal layers without any real singing in between.  I rather enjoy when someone who does get into vocals, uses them in this way, so that the entire album isn’t dominated with literary opinion, allowing other tracks to emotionally speak for themselves, without getting the ego involved.  ‘Take Out‘ is another vocal heavy house oriented track that has a very spaced out 80’s synth-wavey atmosphere, again, politely spacious – making it is quite obvious that Natasha truly knows how to make sure her sound voids are never messy.  Though it seems strange to admit, the album really has a dark and futuristic R&B setting going on throughout, which turns out to be quite rather brilliant.  I can’t really say it sounds like much else I’ve heard, even lately.

Overall, the spaciousness, the darker tones, and the very minimal usage of many points in electronic music make this album quite a solid output in my book.  My one complaint – it’s just too short!  Multiple of these tracks have me going strong at about two and a half minutes, and then they’re done!  I’ve never understood why certain artists love to build people up, just to drop them…Mount Kimbie and Odesza are a few others to name randomly – the builds are there, it crescendos, and finishes.  Personally I enjoy more time inside these fantastic spaces created by the artists.  That said, it’s not my music, and Natasha has created a short, but incredibly solid LP here.  Highly recommended!

More info on Natasha and the link to purchase the album (on tape for $7 if you’d like!) below:

http://www.natashakmeto.com/
http://droppinggems.bandcamp.com/album/crisis

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Music for the Ear…as of late. The Second.

June 29th, 2012

Music, music, music, Life, music, music, MUSIC!  It doesn’t stop.  Overload the ears, but be nice to them with a safe listening volume.  Brain swell.  Incredible.  Little mix of old and new on the ear drum As Of Late:

: Meshuggah :
: Catch Thirtythree : Nuclear Blast : 2005
:
~ metal, progressive.rock, doom 

Pure, unfiltered, and in your face.  Sweden’s Meshuggah step up their game quite a bit here with the experimental 47 minute opus “Catch Thirtythree“.  The band’s 5th album, and only piece of this nature to this date, has always been quite the difficult listen – but can be extremely rewarding beneath the heavy and more often than not darker undertones of the piece.  Stepping into a more texturous flow inside themselves, layers and layers of guitars come whirling out at you, with electronically sequenced samples of the drummer (in place of the drummer physically playing the kit) for the first time in the band’s career.  Jazz elements present themselves at times.  The album is lyrically said to float through specific paradoxes, hence the title “Catch Thirtythree (as in the phrase ‘catch twenty-two‘).  Complete with an intermission or sorts during ‘In Death – Is Death’, this is the one space on the album where everything isn’t driving at full speed metal ahead.  After death or course is an awakening, and you’ll definitely find one if you’re able to push through this opus.

: BT :
: If The Stars Are Eternal So Are You And I : Laptop Symphony : 2012 :
~ ambient, glitch, experimental, modern.classical ~

BT.  The man has simply been all over the place with his music, and all over the world because of it.  I used to see him back at NAF Studios, full on rave status Dj, blowing up trance like there would never be an end to that style of synth line (is there yet??).  He’s made dance music, soundtracked, and he’s also put out some extremely beautiful experimental works.  2006 brought the first of these more experimental works, “This Binary Universe“.  I’d never listened to BT‘s music on the regular until that point, but that album, along with the incredible video work from LA’s Scott Pagano, one of my favorite visual artist’s, had me as a quick convert.  “ITSAESAYAI” is said to be the follow up to the beginning of a new direction for BT.  ITSAESAYAI” provides you once again with beauty from all ends of the spectrum.  With seven tracks ranging from the 7 – 14 minute range, the journey  had me sucked in the entire time the first listen (which proceeded to be three full listens the day I got it – something that very rarely happens around here).  The disc is mainly comprised of gorgeous waves of ambient pads fluttering with organic instrumentation, glitch of the most precise nature, and every once in a while, bassy beat driven sections spanning from dubstep, to chilled out techno, to glitched out breaks.  I can definitely see this being on my ‘Top 10 of the Year’ already.  Even though I believe the whole album is incredible, ‘Our Dark Garden’ has been standing out quite a bit – one of the more vocal driven tracks on the album, it brings you to a place of pure bliss if you let it, gliding through a land of harmony…with loads of fluffy clouds to lay on.  A masterpiece of an album…highly recommend checking this one out.

: Broken Social Scene :
: You Forgot It In People : Arts & Crafts International : 2002 :
~ indie.rock, experimental.punk, art.rock, ambient, post.rock ~

Broken Social Scene’s second album witness’ the band changing up a few aspects quite heavily – one being adding numerous members to the group, and two being to start pumping out forward rock jams, a drastic change from their mainly post-rock ambient styled first album “Feel Good Lost“.  One might think this could get quite messy.  Well, they pull it off, and it’s done so well that it’s still my favorite album of theirs!  Starting off where “Feel Good Lost left off, the album starts off with a post-rock ambient piece, and then leads directly into where the sound has grown up – rock based grooves with plenty of experimental noise of all sorts going on underneath.  Horn sections, waves of ambience, static based noise, tons of guitar distortion, and epic amounts of screaming through plenty of filters of many types.  This almost sums up the album, except you end up with pieces like the widely known ‘Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl‘, ‘Pacific Theme’, and ‘Looks Just Like The Sun’, hitting elements of ambient based indie folk tunes, making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  ‘Anthems’ specifically has a special feel to it – they’re not joking around with that title – you feel like a seventeen year old girl hanging out in her room starting at the mirror and wondering about her emotional state.  ‘Pacific Theme’ takes you on a drive on Highway 101 through Northern California and Southern Oregon, exploding in on itself in one of the grooviest grooves ever right around the 4:10 mark.  The album consists of segments of similar sounds, usually three to four songs at a time, which makes the whole journey feel extremely conducive.  All in all, absolutely spectacular album, and now a for sure classic for the books!  Have to toss out another shout out to my old friend Steve Salisbury for turning me on to these guys (and this album) way back when!

: True Dream :
: The Night Again : 4×4 Records : 2011
:
~ pop.rock, doo-wop, folk, indie.rock, ambient ~

Seattle based Danny VanHollebeke comes marching out of the ether with his first full length LP under the alias True Dream.  The layers of which this pop masterpiece consist of make it easy to tell that nothing but the utmost consideration, concentration, and careful attention to detail have been placed into this work. Having spent seven years putting the album together with all it’s finishing touches, a story is woven here, a story of life, feelings, and consciousness at it’s level of striving for love.  The album presents itself to you in the form of pop, but boasts elements of waltz, ambient, metal, 60’s, 80’s, dream pop, doo-wop, and indie rock – all enveloped by a layer of light experimentalism to infuse it all together.  As Todd Hamm of the Seattle Weekly said, “think doom-wop”.  Even deeper we find out that all aspects of the music, including the vocals, are played and made by VanHollebeke.  At only 32 minutes, the piece will quickly bring you from happiness glee to reverent melancholy, keeping a fairly moving undertone throughout.  Personal favorites?  The whole thing!!  From the moment the title track reached my ear, and all the way through to the Brian Eno inspired ambient ‘Decomposition‘, Danny’s album has me captivated and invested, repeatedly.  I purchased the finished product sometime last year, it has been through constant rotation on all my players – at home base, and on the road.  You can find True Dream’s The Night Again on iTunes here:  |— CLICK —|  Fantastic work Danny!

: Demdike Stare :
: Elemental : Modern Love : 2012 :
~ dark.ambient, industrial, drone, techno, witch.house, experimental ~

Since 2009, the illusive Lancastrian outfit known as Demdike Stare have been birthing into the Universe some of the world’s most unusual and forward thinking sounds inside of the dark ambient/drone, witch house, and experimental realms.  Really though, their music is flat out at times, indescribable.  Hinting on elements of tribalism, folk, and neo-paganism, it seems as though Sean Cantry and Miles Whittaker are attempting to call back in the witches who were once running around rampant in the area the group comes from, especially with the “Demdike” name hailing from Elizabeth Southern, the supposed leader of the Pendle Witches.  After their three part release in 2010, I knew never to miss anything from the duo again.  Released as four parts on colored vinyl, with a full double-disc CD release in 2012, this new collection of works leaves you feeling as though some sort of ancient underworld Earthen being has gobbled up your thought processes, and spit them out into a dark new reality that makes you feel…haunted!  Even as OCD in describing genres as I love to be, this disc leaves me so floored that it’s hard to put into words.  Take the track “Mnemosyne” for instance – their is a backbone of some stripped down 135bpm dubstep styled beat in there, but beneath that, you feel as though you’re in the middle of a longhouse in the 1600’s and the coven you belong to is about to sacrifice some sort of lamb or goat or small furry animal – AND it’s a joyous occasion.  Elements of dark drone plaster the album, taking over sections of otherwise beat oriented music, out of no where.  Little nods to Aphex Twin’s more twisted and disturbing sound experiment works come out of the woodwork at times, making me think back to a track off 2001’s “Drukqs“, ‘Gwarek2‘, by far one of the more perverse 6 minutes of sound my mind can really think of.  All in all I could sit here and try and describe “Elemental” to you all day, but really you just need to bust out your best pair of speakers, turn off all the lights, sit next to a fire (inside or outside), and let yourself immerse into another world.  Genius work!

 : Scuba :
: DJ-Kicks : !K7 Records : 2011 :
~ 2-step, dubstep, techno, bass.music, ambient, glitch ~

If you haven’t heard of Paul Rose’s Scuba at this point, you’ve definitely been hiding under some sort of rock underneath the top layer of soil of the Earth for the past…oh, five years or so.  Probably more.  The official headmaster of one of the most forefront running labels out there today, Hotflush Recordings, Rose has been helping advance the sound of 2-step and dubstep alike now for over 10 YEARS – amazing really!  Everything this man touches that I have found, I have been into (minus maybe two or three songs on his latest LP, “Personality“).  This edition of the DJ-Kicks series is absolutely no exception.  Starting off with a lovely deep ambient piece to set the mood, from Hotflush’s Sigha, the mix begins with a churning of techno cross bred with 2-step influences and does nothing but pick up and get groovier from there.  Sitting around 132bpm for the length of the mix allows the blend between the crossover of styles to mesh flawlessly .  Track selection, programming, mixing – PERFECT.  You’ll notice that each song tracked out lasts for just over a minute to just under three minutes (with a few exceptions) – proof of the generous amount of layering going on between selected tracks for the majority of the journey.  Notable tracks to dig for on their own: Peverlist’s Sun Dance‘, Trevino’s Shorty‘, Boddika’s ‘Acid Battery‘, Scuba’s M.A.R.S.‘ (made specifically for the mix), Jichael Mackson’s Gedons‘, and Sepalcure’s gorgeous ‘Inside‘, which provides the mixes outro and end point.  This is how it’s done properly people – Know This!

Injoy.  See ya hopefully sooner than later this next time.  I’m going to attempt to do this once a week at this point, as well as randomly posting interesting bits of all sorts of finds from the net and beyond into this Blog, so, stay tuned!

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