26 December 2012

The Gateless Gate - 2012 - Xinjiang

Quality: 4.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5

Here's one that has been spinning on my mp3 drive pretty consistently for the past few months.  Apparently, this is the maiden voyage of the Gateless Gate, but they've got their grooviness set right into place and it definitely doesn't reek of a rookie release disease.  There are some clear signs of musical DNA in the music, but the groop does of fine job of establishing a clear identity.  We've got the epic the epicness of 70's Mike Oldfield informing the music, as well as the spiritual vibe of Between, who are pretty obscure, but you can read about elsewhere in the blog.  A few touches, such as the throat singing on the opening track, recal the Tibetian vibrations of Philip Glass' stellar 'Kundun' soundtrack.

This is a release that I tend to let glide along, with the tracks melding along into a total experience (like Dolemite's Total Experience, but more meditational).  When I feel like I've heard it a few too many times, I just start in the center.  This makes it hard to single out tracks, but I can point out a few reference points.  As I already mentioned, the opening 'Tian Shan' comes across like a psychedelic ceremony deep in the unreachable corners of Tibet.  'Tunhuang' throws some guitar leads out that rival Oldfield at his 'Hergest Ridge' prime.  The last few tracks take us underground like a freak folk extravaganza plowing acoustic guitar through the fungus.

I get a lot of obscure submissions through the electronic vine, but the Gateless Gate actually ranks right on in with the A-listers, This is one of the best things I've heard this year all around.  I've you've got a yearning for washes of psychedelic ceremonial sounds, you can't do much better than this release.

Experience the highland infinity here. Scroll down a bit and you can have the mp3s for free:
The Gateless Gate

12 December 2012

Damaged Tape - 2012 - Conflagration of Nibiru

The world will end after you play this on December 21st.  You may have to wait a few billion years, but it will end.

These electronic sounds began early this year during the sessions for "The Floating Existence."  "Interstellar Tropics" was actually the first tune recorded for that album, but I held on to that song and "B.A.D.D.," thinking I'd save them for a fake soundtrack.  This album isn't quite a fake soundtrack, but the music is still supposed to flow like a mid-80's action/adventure show.  I guess it would have been set by the beach with all of the oceanic white noise I added with the Moog.  There's plenty of hints of surf guitar as well.  "B.A.D.D." was supposed to stand for something, like the cartoon "M.A.S.K.," but nothing ever came of it.  Once Scott got to work on the album, things veered into a more trippy spiritual direction as tends to happen with him.  Anyway, I'm hoping that everything ends as it should, and this set is the proper hybrid of our visions.  As with the last album, I continue to dabble in the ocean of vocal synth-pop on "Spectrum of Realities" and "Nectar of the Lotus."  Those along with "Dragons of the Moonrise" are my personal favorites here.  Hmmm, we've got an awful lot of "_____ of ______" on this collection.  Were betting on numerology, though, by releasing this on all twelves.

To listen, you can head for Bandcamp:
Damaged Tape - 2012 - Conflagration of Nibiru

Or download at these links:
Damaged Tape - 2012 - Conflagration of Nibiru (mp3s)
Damaged Tape - 2012 - Conflagration of Nibiru (wav part 1)
Damaged Tape - 2012 - Conflagration of Nibiru (wav part 2)

11 December 2012

Stevie Schmidt - 2011 - EP

Quality: 3.75 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter 4.25 out of 5

This set is a fine assortment of some IDM tropes laid out in a pretty groovy way.  The music is heavily sampled, wispy electronica, with warped tones swooping in and rubbery pulses bouncing the beat.  I definitely dig the construction of the tunes, although the production has a definite digital low-fi hover.  It's a somewhat thin-sound, but I think Stevie's in control of the proceedings and this is intended.

"I Don't See" drops down like the Avalanches, enters into an underwater Gas-like beats, before chopping and splicing the tone together.  Meanwhile, "Wash" bounces on the same pogo stick that the Orb recorder "On Kompact" on.  There's some very treated vocals showing up on "Sleep," with the end effect sounding like the radio signal of a 1987 synth ballad transmitted through a solar storm and bouncing of Uranus (hee! hee! hee!).

I guess listening to this makes me think that I haven't heard too much IDM since the dubsteppers and chill wavers took center stage.  I guess it's probably hiding out on underground cassettes like this.

Head for:

Matthew Akers - 2011 - The Future Barbarians

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

Matthew Akers has his head fused directly into to pulsating core of John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream's early 80's soundtracks.  The man himself suggests that this music be paired with an "Alien" rip-off, but the cover art shouts "Remo Williams."  Maybe this is what "Alien Nation" would have sounded like if it had been produced five years earlier.  Does anyone out there actually remember these movies?

On with the music.  Akers isn't doing anything particularly new here, but he's pretty much nailing his musical targets with spare, thick production.  I would recommend starting with track two.  "Looting the Armory" isn't a bad tune, but the sequencer and drum machine don't seem to quite sync-up right and it produces a rhythmic stutter that I'm not down with.  Fortunately, it smooth sailing in your lazer-guided retro-future Camaro after that.  First, you'll get a few short-form soundtrack pieces.  "They Call Him Mikos" is clearly our pastel-suit wearin' villain's theme.  The ten minutes of "Neurolink" are the meat of this EP, and it does a fine job guiding you through the discotheque of 1983 and into the primordial chill out room during it's running time.

Maybe it's because I was but a wee psychedelic doctor when this kind of music made its big splash, but these kinds of sounds are coded into my musical DNA.  Akers isn't aiming for innovation, just an accurate facsimile of the soundtracks for those "USA Up All Night" movies that used to crop up on basic cable, and this definitely succeeds at that.

Head here: