Category Archives: Electronic

New Music Preview: Señor Symphonifunk

Senor Symphonifunk

This is going to be kind of a strange review because the artist-in-question’s album is, to my knowledge, only available through him at shows. I know him because I work with him on weekends at a coffee shop, so I’ve gotten a chance to see him perform a couple of times, so this review is kind of an album review, and kind of a performance review.

Anywho, dude’s name is Wes Allen, but he goes by Señor Symphonifunk. His thing is pre-recorded electronic beats and what-have-you backing his live violin playing. He calls it Classical Contemporary, though the electronic elements kind of blur the line between Classical and Electronic. Because he’s kind of between two genres, it seems to allow him some freedom to go more traditional or more experimental without sounding like he’s changing styles.

His album, called Hooked on Symphoniphonics, as a pretty good representation of what you would get from the live show, partially because I’m sure the beats are the same ones he uses live. As I said, it has a mix of more classical sounding stuff, such as “You’re So Dum (Da Dum Dum), which sounds classical despite the heavy, bassy electronic drums, as well as more electronic fare like the glitch-pop inspired “Gameboy Pizzacato,” and even a couple of instrumental pop songs, such as “Rainbows Make Me Think of You.”

As I said earlier, his CD isn’t (to my knowledge) available for purchase on these inturwebz, but he does have some of the tracks (and a few other songs) on Soundcloud , and you can purchase tracks separately (and give to charity) at his ReverbNation page. He’s got a few videos up on Youtube, too, so even if you can’t buy his album, you can (and should) check him out.

-jason

C

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Pellets: WAKE, Pretty Lights, Hush Arbors

WAKE - False

WAKE
False

Super angry grindcore frosted with sludge. I am some in the ways of grind and this is the kind of album that just assaults your for solid 19 minutes, the whole running length. Just picture Hank Hill standing there, listening to this a bit and saying “Yep. That’s some good grindcore.” That’s my take on this.
Preorder from Handshake Inc.

PrettyLights-AColorMapoftheSun

Pretty Lights
A Color Map of the Sun

If you are not familiar, Pretty Lights is Derek Vincent Smith, a DJ that creates glitch-soul-funk by sampling a lot of old, obscure soul records for his stuff. It’s super catchy, fun music and I’ve got three of his albums in monthly rotation. Pretty Lights is go-to when I’m on the stationary bike, driving or need a pick me up at work. For A Color Map of the Sun, instead of finding a bunch of old records, Mr. Smith got a bunch of musicians together to actually record live. He literally simulated an old soul label with the instruments, the mics, and the recording to create original vinyl records on which to base his new album. That is really, really cool but the end result is another Pretty Lights album. It’s not a slam, but if I didn’t know he had done all that, I’d have never known he did all that, know what I mean? Regardless, this album is full of hits. The CD packaging is bound like a book, which I dig a lot.
Download and/or purchase from Pretty Lights

Hush Arbors - 2 of Us Riding Nowhere - Front Cover

Hush Arbors
2 of Us Riding Nowhere

We got this album a really long time ago and I apologize for not getting to it. 2 of Us Riding Nowhere is one of those albums that I feel is more of a lowercase jason thing, but here I am digging it anyway. This is a guitar duo basement tape jam, two old friends laying down some jams. This album cold rocks that indie folk vibe, where the sounds song like traditionals but aren’t and are sung in that kind of raw, naive style. That might sound like a thing you’d possibly avoid, but the thing is, there is an undeniable warmth to this album that I could not help but be instantly into it.
Buy from New Atlantis

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Review: Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

Boards of Canada Tomorrow's Harvest

Tomorrow’s Harvest is Boards of Canada’s first new LP in 8 years. Things have changed.

Boards of Canada’s classic albums sound like they wouldn’t have been out place scoring late 70s-early 80s public television documentaries about science and nature. That’s what I always liked about them. It’s a sound that distilled the last days of Space Age optimism. I’ll always listen to the music on The Campfire Headphase and Music Has the Right to Children feeling a sense of nostalgic positivity.

Where that stuff is the dawn and the potential a new day holds, Tomorrow’s Harvest is the fear of being caught out on the streets after dark. This is basically John Carpenter’s Boards of Canada. It’s not literally as sparse as the music he composed for his movies but it really has the same late 70s early 80s movie score sound. Those signature Boards of Canada tones are almost entirely gone here.

So here is my thing with this, two thing really. The first is that this album doesn’t represent what I liked about Boards of Canada’s sound. Sure I should challenge my expectations or whatever, but I’m having a hard time doing that because of the second thing. This particular type of quasi-soundtrack album has been quite a bit now and albums that tape this particular vein of influence have been done quite a bit better. For being so heavily evocative of a film soundtrack, it really falls short in comparison to Symmetry’s Theme for an Imaginary Film. Tomorrow’s Harvest lacks narrative momentum. At no point after repeated plays did any of the tracks jump out and grab me, making Tomorrow’s Harvest the type of “score” that serves only as background music.  Giving this one official rating of “Ok because it’s Boards of Canada but honestly not really that into it.”

Get it from Bleep.

- Jayson

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Review: Anamanaguchi – Endless Fantasy

Anamanaguchi - Endless Fantasy
Anamanaguchi – Endless Fantasy. dream.hax, 2013.

As kind of a counterpoint to my review last week of Daft Punk, as well as to Jayson’s review of “violence metal” band Cowardice’s new one, I decided to give Anamanaguchi’s latest album, Endless Fantasy a chance. I really liked what they did on the soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game, so I figured they would not disappoint, and I was right.

Right from the opening title track, Endless Fantasy is better electronic music than Daft Punk’s mediocre Random Access Memories. Like, I’m not super-into chiptune music. Often, it comes across as gimicky, a novelty, but Anamanaguchi are the real thing. This is music I would (and have, in the last week) play while I’m writing. It’s smooth, not jarring, and it makes me happy.

I know the above description sounds kind of corny, but seriously, after listening to that Daft Punk album (the last time I’ll mention them, honest), which was kind of a lifeless, soulless thing, Endless Fantasy is a reminder that electronic music, even that which has a minimal of “human” intervention [only the tracks "Prom Night" and "(T_T)b" have vocals], can feel like a living thing, complete with emotions.

It’s hard to pick out highlights on this album, but not because the songs sound the same. Anamanaguchi have bridged sub-genres of chip-tune, going from dance to rock to pop. “Echobo” is pretty fantastic, though, as is the aforementioned “Prom Night.” “Space Wax America” is great, too, and though all the songs sound like the soundtrack to a video game, it’s a game that I want to live in.

Anamanaguchi’s Endless Fantasy is available wherever CDs are sold.

-jason

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Review: Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories. Columbia Records, 2013.

True story: A couple of weeks ago, this song came on the radio. I immediately said, “This…isn’t good. Like, the lyrics are stupid, and they sound like they want to be Daft Punk, only if Pharrell Williams were singing.” I probably don’t have to finish this story; you know where it’s going.

However, the internet has been blowing up over people loving the shit out of Daft Punk’s newest album, Random Access Memories, so I figured I should give it a try. I mean, I was a fan of their 2001 album Discovery, though that might have been more to do with the album’s extended music video, Interstella 5555. So, I put this one on, and…

It’s not bad. I mean, besides “Get Lucky,” there’s nothing on the album that irritates me. Random Access Memories is kind of a mellow disco album. But that’s the thing: I don’t like disco, and I know none of these dudes who are proclaiming this album to be a masterpiece are disco fans, so what gives?

Anyway, as I said, it’s certainly not a bad album. “Giorgio by Moroder” is a nice experiment in taking an interview and setting it to disco. “Instant Crush,” featuring vocals by Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), is a sort of post-disco, eighties-ish song that I dig alright. Pharrell Williams’ 1st track on the album, “Lose Yourself to Dance,” is better than “Get Lucky.” These are all good songs, but none of them are great, and none of them inspire me to go out and buy the album.

Overall, if you like disco, you’ll like this album. And if you like Daft Punk, you probably like disco, whether you know it or not. Go get some damn Bee-Gees or something; I don’t know what to tell you.

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories is available literally everywhere. In the world.

-jason

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