1 - Sunset
2 - International District
3 - The Market
4 - Broadway
5 - Phantom Bracelet
Samples may not be of optimum audio quality.
You may not remember it but in 2006, a little known artist called Overcoat came to our attention and was featured on Gratisvibes. Six years on, I could still remember the ambient grooves of The Sky is Never Dark Anymore EP and it’s hypnotic sound of synthesized pads and slow evolving textures. However, where The Sky is Never Dark Anymore EP was more like a slow ride through a slowly evolving landscape of sound, the newest releaseOvercoat 3: One Night in Neo-Seattle feels more like a hectic ride through a 90s cyberpunk vision of the future, replete with dirty alleys and hectic citizens rushing through the streets.
The approximately 15 minute long release starts unassumingly enough with the mostly ambient sounding Sunset and it’s velvety analog pads. The album, however, is not by any means a slow ride. The sense of turbulence is felt in the subsequent tracks starting with International District which features aggressive basslines and ethnic plucked instruments. One track that caught my attention was the use of dubstep-esque wobble bass for “Phantom Bracelet”. Dubstep and highly melodic synths was a entirely new combination for my ears and was a welcome change from typical commercial dubstep.
In conclusion, Overcoat has created an easy listening album and harkens back to a simpler, less produced and definitely more honest era.
synchronized to your eyes
baud of passion
Samples may not be of optimum audio quality.
From the genius who brought you the MIDINES and 2 seminal releases on 8bitpeoples, comes a new album, released on mp3death, a label which has also released works by chiptune artists Gijs Gieskes, Overthruster, Firebrand boy, The Commodore 64 Orchestra and others in the past.
Those familiar with x|k’s (pronounced “kix”) music would know that it is perhaps one of the most astonishing things one might ever hear. Frantic, pulsating 150 bpm hard techno/trance coming out of a reverse-engineered video game console from the 1980s.
For this release, “Baud Of Passion”, x|k slows it down a little, and the album is less intense when compared to his hard techno output on 8bitpeoples. But this new release loses none of the dancefloor sensibilities. “warm wishes” follows the general aesthetic of minimal techno, with short blips and a restrained bassline, “hwy chipmusik” has a nice driving detroit style bass, while “aktivity” was made to be put into a set at full-tilt, with its rave stylings.
The release really drives home the point that good music can be made on anything, and should be. x|k’s mastery of the raw waveforms of the NES and his skills in engineering his own music production system have set him out for cult status. If you ever get to experience his legendary live sets you are bound to leave the floor completely stunned.
*The album is available in 2 formats, as a continous DJ-mix and as separate individual tracks.
01 - Intro
02 - Mienenbruch
03 - Ameisenskit
04 - Up 2 Sky
05 - Demasquerade
06 - Neverville
07 - Teil dieser Gesellschaft
08 - Rollenskit
09 - Ehrlicherweise
10 - EsZuDemUBe
11 - Teil dieser Gesellschaft Bretterrrrremix
12 - Glaubensfrage
13 - TVskit
14 - Glotzenkotzen
15 - Mienenbruch (Psychoremix)
16 - Worte
17 - Fragen
18 - Gaia.Virus.Mensch.2.0
19 - Outro
20 - Outroskit
Samples may not be of optimum audio quality.
Substape II - Enfant Terrible is the work of german Hip Hop artist, Substight who has been active in the scene since 2005. Enfant Terrible is his first released work to date, which sounds amazingly polished, for a newcomer. Although, I can’t comment on how good the lyrics are (since I don’t understand german) but the music in this album is definitely well-produced. Much of this can be attributed to the huge list of more than 10 collaborators that were involved in the making of the album. This has resulted in a 20-track album that is both varied and ultimately very entertaining.
The album starts off with a pretty exciting track in the unassumingly titled Intro. Here, Substight lays rap over piano music while a backup cast adds some flavour with some nice shouts. By using an effect at the end, “Intro” glides effortlessly into the next track Mienenbruch where we’re presented with some well structured rap with a great sounding chorus section. This track quickly transitions to a skit, which again seamlessly moves to yet another smooth sounding track, Up 2 Sky. This almost seamless progression between tracks adds much to this album making it feel almost short for one consisting of 20 tracks.
Given the length of the album, it is probably inevitable that quite a bit of it is filled with similar sounding material. Thankfully, the huge crew contributing beats guarantees that usually not more than 2 tracks sound similar. As an MC, Substight really hits it on the spot - delivering impeccably timed rhymes that are addictive even after multiple listens. Some of my picks from this album include Up 2 Sky, the strangely titled but very lyrical EsZuDemUbe and the very 90s soundtrack like Glaubensfrage and the 11 minute long Outroskit with its eclectic stitched together music and of rap in multiple languages.
In the end, It doesn’t take an expert to figure out when an album sounds great. The rapping and rhyming is catchy and the beats made for the rhyming share that same catchiness. For those who understand german, do let me know what you think of the lyrics as I am surely missing out on a huge part of listening to the album by not being able to understand the lyrics.
Thanks to Substight himself for the recommendation
Posted on December 16th, 2007 by adrian · 4 comments
1. Gestern warst du anders
2. Renne durch dein Leben
3. Hast du viele hast du keine
4. Ich bin Dur (Martin am Saxophone)
5. Ist das alles
Samples may not be of optimum audio quality.
Kein Grund zufrieden zu sein is is a live electronica album by Endlos. Endlos consists of duo Daniel Graumüller and Mario Kreuzer and “Kein Grund zufrieden zu sein is” is their second album on netlabel One Bit Wonder. With electronic influences since the 90s, Endlos writes music that is epic and oftentimes tending towards the melancholic. Endlos’ second outing holds well to this style, delivering a spectacular album through use of drones, synths, distorted guitars, heavy amounts of atmosphere and even saxophones.
The style of Endlos is very much Post-Rock, with its gradually shifting instrumentation and layering towards a climax. However, it’s not strictly post-rock as some of the tracks like Gestern warst du anders had a more electronica feel to them.
The album is 5 tracks long but each track is over 5 minutes long with some stretching to 8 minutes. The album begins with a build-up track in the form of “Gestern warst du anders”. The track begins with static noises and incidental sounding instrumentation before whisking off into a giant whirlpool of melodies, textures and rhythms that totally envelops the listener. The slow transformation of the lead line into a distorted mess, beautiful synth lines and guitar lines give this slow track a raw energy that satisfies thoroughly.
The second track, Renne durch dein Leben focuses on a totally different sort of mood. More frantic and spontaneous, it brings the listener on a ride where the destination is a cavernous sounding combination of guitars, drums and reverb effects.
The album slows down from here on, making good on its promise of melancholy. The next 3 tracks are all melancholic excursions. Ich bin Dur is a slow number featuring the appearance of a saxophone line. Although I had hoped for greater involvement, the saxophone playing was brief and lacked impact. It is however a great try at something different. Hast du viele hast du keine didn’t strike me as too different from other melancholic post-rock songs I have heard and Ist das alles sounded like a melancholic and slower version of “Renne durch dein Leben”.
In all, the album by Endlos is one that I don’t regret having listened to. There are some great moments in there and if you like your music epic, all the better. I’m looking forward to more from these guys in the future.
Thanks to Benne at One Bit Wonder for the introduction to Endlos on his fantastic netlabel.
Bleepshow.com is an electronic music podcast run by a guy called Pete. You’re probably wondering what is so special about this one electronic music podcast when there are probably a ton out there. Well, there are a few things that make Pete’s podcast really stand out.
Firstly, it runs for 5 days a week. That alone shows a lot of dedication on Pete’s part. I’ve been listening to the shows for the past week or two and I really felt that the quality of music on the podcasts is consistently good. Pete’s got a knack for picking some great tracks to put into every podcast. There is also a lot of variety and it is not uncommon for disjunct genres like breaks, house, electro and classic chipmunk raves to all be featured on a single podcast. Most importantly, the podcast sound quality is also crystal clear ensuring a great listening experience.
The structure of the podcast is actually quite simple. There isn’t much talking at all. Pete usually just introduces a track and lets it play till the end. Sometimes, he does let off a casual comment or two about the track to be played. This is entirely sufficient, in my opinion, as the music selection is good enough to hold you over. I eventually warmed up to Pete’s style and found myself effortless immersed into the great wealth of music that he plays every show.
Another great thing is that Pete also doesn’t feel the need to limit himself to feature only Creative Commons electronic music. His latest podcasts have featured a commercial artist Acen (by permission), who had tracks available for free download. Similarly, we at Gratisvibes believe that tracks should be featured based on merit, even non Creative Commons ones. However, we do encourage all artist who put out free music to protect themselves by putting it under a CC license.
Overall, a great podcast that any electronic music fan who has an hour to spare a day should listen to. This reaffirms that there actually is quite a lot of good CC electronic music out there. Thanks Pete for doing the community a great service.
*I’ve attached an episode from bleepshow.com that I felt would do the show justice. Enjoy listening.
Posted on November 14th, 2007 by adrian · 5 comments
01. Common Ground
02. Breathe You In
03. Can't Won't
04. One Hell of A Time
05. I Won't Let Them Hurt You
06. Slide With Me
07. Tread Them In
08. Treat It Like a Toxin
09. Water Falls
10. Wake Up (to your beautiful self)
11. You Don't See Straight Anymore
The free, but unfortunately not creative commons licensed, release Notes from Number 14, is an 11 track pop album. The album covers many common themes in pop, but deals mainly with relationships with people and such themes like redemption, beauty and the like. The production of the album is definitely top notch with nice, refined instrumentation. There are stylings of synthpop, electronica and soft rock all throughout the album making things more interesting than a straight up pop album.
But, it is not the most straightforward of pop albums. Lyrically, it’s a bit complex as I wasn’t really able to get what John was trying to say in most tracks after an initial first listen. There are some catchy chorus sections here and there but I can’t really remember any of the verses. That’s not to say that every song is lyrically complex and vague. Luckily, one can easily find appreciation in songs with familiar and easy themes such as Breathe You In, Wake Up to Your Beautiful Self and the almost lullaby like I Won’t Let Them Hurt You. In a pop context, I felt that the album suffers from an identity crisis lyric-wise trying to be too complicated in quite a number of songs for most pop listeners.
With that said, I’m a believer that truly long lasting music shouldn’t be too straightforward but still leads you on in some way. The vagueness and applicability to different situations makes it worth listening to again while the familiarity firmly grounds the song in your mind. Songs like Slide With Me and Water Falls fit into the above criteria.
In Slide With Me, self-retrospective lyrics are coupled with vague references to another person who we never really get a full explanation of. This, and a bridge and coda section with old school hard rock guitar solos really sealed the deal.
Water Falls, on the other hand, is an upbeat song with lyrics of amusing almost self-deprecating nature. You never really get the point of what John was trying to say as a whole but you just really go for the ride because it’s fun.
Other than the brighter sounding songs mentioned, there are also some songs in the album covering darker themes. The one I found most appealing was One Hell of a Time. It had that really synthy feel to it together with a moving chorus section.
To wrap it up, this is an album best listened to closely. There’s material here that is really worth listening to over and over again. If you like the album, do support John in his commercial endeavours. You can find his commercial 6 track EP release Preparationshere.
Thanks to Hannah for recommending John’s music to us.
Is it getting colder where you’re at? I’ve found a release that’s almost perfectly suited for autumnal weather. Ontagon’s full length album “Shapes and Sizes” has a pastoral, introspective, hypnotic, sweet-dreams feel to it thats perfect for those stay-in-bed mornings nestled under the covers.
The album is quite diverse, from the fairly straightforward opening two tracks which are typically ‘chillout style IDM’, (ie. slow, crisp percussion and ambient synth textures) we progress to the glitchy “Misanthrope”. Moving on we have “Karate Fight Champion” and “Cardiology” which are rich, upbeat, melodic yet complex. “Ionoi” unsettles the mind with its eerie ghost-voice hums and slow, trippy barely-there beats.
All in all, a varied, complex and intriguing album. Listen to this when you need to do some soulsearching!
“This is Fairydust”: Light, airy cheerful melodies, intricate percussion
“Deep Motionless”: A great trippy bassline and a cool head-nodding hiphop beat.
“Pushoff”: An eerie lullaby to put you to sleep. And maybe cause a sad dream.
“10 August 86″: Sweet and nostalgic!
Creative Commons may have made it easier for people to find a ton of legally downloadable music but the loose quality control of the movement has often meant that finding great tracks in popular genres is a challenge. Artists, who dabble in Creative Commons, often employ it as a testing ground for their more avant garde work. This, of course, sometimes doesn’t work very well in strict genres such as dance. There are a ton of people producing techno yet there are so few great techno tracks. If we move to genres such as trance, CC trance music is almost non-existent, most likely due to the fact that trance is, in my opinion, harder to produce than techno.
In my search for great CC trance music, I stumbled upon another promising house/techno label, Stratospherik. The releases on the label are mostly EPs with most releases clocking about 2 to 3 tracks at the standard 6 to 7 minutes a track. A quick listen to the tracks on the site, and I found some nice tunes that deserved a listen. One release caught my attention and that was the Enlighten EP by Uriel Asher. The album is simple enough, mainly focusing on a techno vibe with a house feel. It is lighter than most techno tracks and pretty melodically driven as with most things we review at Gratisvibes.
The first track I Don’t Know is definitely the catchier of the two tracks featuring chilled out cut up vocals, a nice diving bassline and a simple 4 note bass lead that just catches your attention. The title track Enlighten retains the same light feel of the EP but adds more filter sweeps and subtle elements. If you’re one for detail in your house/techno music, you’ll like this track. Somewhat melancholic and with some pretty drastic changes at different points in the track, this one may not fill the dance floor but it sure has its quirky moments that you will come to enjoy after repeated listens.
All in all, a nice release but I’m still looking for that CC trance album that will brighten up my day. If you happen to know any such release, do recommend it to us!
01. Dino Felipe - Death For 5 Computers
02. Toxonic - Aurum
03. 7oi - Impress Numerically
04. Bazaar - Appetite For Love
05. Vhom - SKVPH VX2
06. Håkan Lidbo - Mental Hardcore
07. Carsten Rausch - Tooltime
08. Caspa Houser - Condensed V2
09. Samuel Strehle - Holodeck Hyperraum Simulator
10. Sinus Force - Erlösung
11. Yoursck - OHT040507
12. Flextronic - Cybernetic Riot
13. Dan Tapper/Plastic Raptor - Harry Meets The Skinny Ghosts
14. Massju - Laitfille
15. Wolfseule - Bell Rock
16. Mithra - L'Enfant Lumiere
17. Org - Blackbox
18. Xyno - A Poetic Downfall
19. Black Ninfea - Synth-C
20. Lackluster - Notes Aren't Enough
Samples may not be of optimum audio quality.
IDM and weird music fans have something to look forward to in the releases of new Netlabel Weird and Wired. The label run by Massju and Wolfseule focuses on releasing high quality and ingenious music with a bit of weirdness. Fuzzy - A Collection of Reflection is their fifth release and after listening to it for quite a while, I must say that they have achieved the weirdness part. Quality wise is something subjective especially when you include the word “weird” but I did enjoy listening to quite a number of the tracks on here, especially when I heard them for the first time.
Fuzzy - A Collection of Reflection is a V/A album featuring a mega list of artists including well-known ones such as Lackluster. The diverse cast makes the flow of the album somewhat unpredictable. Truthfully, there isn’t any concrete flow but what you’re assured of is that every song has something new to offer you.
The album has a ton of variety. There is techno, garage, IDM, soundscape like tracks, ambient experimental tracks, tracks that sound like they were meant for movie soundtracks etc. No style really dominates but the majority of tracks on the album are rhythm intensive. Tracks with vocals such as Appetite for Love by Bazaar and Blackbox by Org tended to stick out much more in the relatively vocal barren lineup. These two tracks are each good in their own way but I found Appetite for Love to be particularly amusing to listen to.
Other great tracks on the album are the infectious garage track Tooltime by Carsten Rausch, Erlösung by Sinus Force with its weird kick structure that still gets you hopping, Aurum by Toxonic, which not only featured some great melodies but also managed to squeeze in a sample of some guy saying “go” pretty much out of nowhere and Notes Aren’t Enough by Lackluster, which somehow lasted 19:45 without me realizing and that really was an achievement on its own.
The above are the tracks that I could remember off the top of my head after listening multiple times. There are many more neat tracks on the album that are worth listening to. To wrap it up, if this is the kind of weird that is coming out of the Weird and Wired netlabel, then it is good kind of weird that will surely have an audience.
Thanks to Massju for the recommendation. I really loved all the new sounds when I started listening.
01. Pilot's Handbook
04. Reflections upon the Asfalt
05. Long Song
Samples may not be of optimum audio quality.
Transit is an indie Belgian Post-Rock band on the Lost Children Netlabel, that professes a “passion for nature, emotions and all kinds of music”. Broadleaves and Conifers is their second EP release after their first demo release titled Harmattan.
The music of Broadleaves and Conifers consists mostly of melodic post-rock with its soft-loud contrasts and lavish arrangements. Most pieces are undoubtedly emotionally charged with the chorused and delayed guitar riffs giving either a feeling of joy and hope or darker feelings like sadness or despair. The first track, “Pilot’s handbook”, starts off the EP with a slow crescendo to a pounding reverb filled chorus section that makes you feel like the whole world is behind you. This feeling is more than offset by later tracks such as “Matacabras” and “Long Song” that revolve around darker, heavier themes. “Reflections upon the Asfalt” feels like a continuation of “Pilot’s Handbook”, only quicker. Motorral, though, is definitely the pick of the EP with its distinct opening melodies and driving bassline and shoegazey tendencies.
In all, I felt that this is quite a standard sounding rock EP with a post-rock structure. The sound is not as polished as could be but it sounds great musically. There was very little of the post-rock experimentation, which is both a good and bad thing. The music all sounds very familiar and takes very little time to get used to but it also all feels like it’s all been done before. Hopefully, Transit explores more ground in their next release and we’ll see something a little different. This release definitely sounded better than their first demo Harmattan. Other than that, this is a great release for people who love any kind of melodic rock not just post-rock.
For more bands like Transit, the Lost Children Netlabel is a great site to go to for finding bands that play post-rock, experimental and instrumental rock. There are some great bands there that are definitely worth checking out like the noise infused instrumental rock band, Loss of a Child.
Thanks to the owner of the Lost Children Netlabel for informing us of the label.
To coincide with the interview with Lo-Kiwi, I’m reviewing one of their releases, “Adrift” by Finnish duo Moosefrog. Adrift is a follow-up to the “Come” EP, which was the first release of the Lo-Kiwi label.
After an initial listen, ‘Adrift’ sounds unmistakeably like a throwback to the trip-hop era of the mid to late 90s, although its clear that Moosefrog have updated the template and the sound for the 21st century! If you liked Morcheeba, Thievery Corporation or other acts in that oeuvre, you’d definitely enjoy this album!
This stylish album has a alluring, sensual, yet dark and brooding quality to it. Maybe not as dark as Portishead but not as cheery as Hooverphonic were in their later days. The highlights include Anji Bee’s vocals on two of the tracks on this release. Anji (from the band Love Spirals Downwards) reminds me of Sade’s sultry voice. In fact ex-MTV VJ and well known podcasting personality Adam Curry calls it “the sexiest voice in podcasting”. Yes thats right, Anji does podcasts as well!
Definitely a release for all those skeptics who still think that the netlabel scene isn’t producing quality.
Posted on September 8th, 2007 by ikram · 3 comments
Next in our series of interviews in the netlabel/CC music scene, are the guys representing the smooth sound from Finland: Lo-Kiwi. These 10 questions were mostly answered by Teempee and Scarlet Hideout from the label.
Teempee and Scarlet Hideout happened to hang out on a Finnish tracker music IRC-channel in September 2004, when there was some discussion on netlabels in general. Realising we share the same vision of a missing netlabel we put up another irc-channel where both of us came up with some great ideas. Later we discovered some other talented musicians to join our netlabel, one of them was Moosefrog who kindly became our webmaster and had the first release ready in May 2005.
What kind of music do you look for in submissions/demos?
Interesting, enjoyable and emotional. We like to have a jazzy vibe on downtempo, hiphop or more electronic stuff. Our music should also be worth concentrating on, otherwise it is suitable only for elevators.
Do you think netlabels suffer a bit of credibility problem ? (as in regards to quality)
Some do some do not, but of course netlabels have no street teams or able to get the hype anyway. Even though the overall sound would need a bit of polishing, we are able to get kicks out of it.
What are the most pressing difficulties faced by netlabels?
The occasional lack of feedback. The available ways to promote are quite limited too.
Whats your take on the Creative Commons philosophy? (copyright and etc.)
Creatice Commons makes life much easier for bloggers and podcasters and every creative individual in the internet. Why would we want to stop someone spreading our music freely when it is released for free in the first place?
Which labels (net or otherwise) do you look up to in running this label?
There are so many netlabels out there - What makes yours stand out?
We have a fairly low percentage of IDM releases. We also prefer our website non-confusing and easy-to-use. But we like and repect the other ways to do things as well.
What are you listening to at the moment and what else can we expect from you in the future?
At the moment Teempee is curious about Justice and the other French guys out there. Scarlet Hideout has been digging for some old soul records and 90s’ boombab. Lo-kiwi is constantly shaped by its artists, and hopefully releasing high quality and pure hearted music will give us a decent image. Vinyls or CDs can be expected to come out sooner or later, and the first edition of Lo-kiwi T-shirts are just around the corner.