Blink and you'll miss Instupendo's stunning winter elegy, 'Persona'

Modern music, especially electronic-based music, has a tendency to try to pull you in as soon as possible. This is of course not surprising, or even a bad thing, considering the incredible explosion of new music over the last decade or so, combined with the nascent expectation of instant gratification in our daily lives. But it certainly puts music that ignores this tendency on shaky ground — will compositional patience pay off, or will it end up devoured by the deluge of new music that presents itself to us every single day? For ‘Persona’, Instupendo doesn’t seem to care about any of that.

Instead of trying to lure you in, Persona creates its own emotional space, perfectly content in its own world. If you blink you’ll miss it, but if you approach it with care and attention, suddenly it’s impossible to ignore its delicate, detuned chords calling out to you. Winter is a season to slow down, and hopefully reflect thoughtfully on our lives. Instupendo, inspired by the season for this track, shows us why it’s worth it to do exactly that.

— review by autonomy


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Lichtriss finds hope in the darkness on 'nachts'

‘nachts’, the final track on Lichtriss’ new EP titled ‘Glut’, lays its foundation with noisy, barely-harmonic electric distortions and reverberations that on its own would be interesting enough to fans of dark ambient and dub techno styles. Capturing the unending solitude of the vast expanses of our mechanized landscape is a central idea in these disciplines. But not long after setting this scene of midnight idle-industry, Lichtriss pokes through those endless nights with glowing synth pads that seem to offer refuge from that uneasy feeling that we may very well be living in a dystopia. As we progress, the glow continues; it confirms our hope, it reaffirms our existence as one worthy of life in this world. It leaves us with the message: no, our world is not good. But we are, and that might be enough.

— review by autonomy

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Feel good vibes with Young Citrus 'Sleeping In'

When you think of Los Angeles there are many things you can think of: Venice beach, boardwalks of beautiful people sipping designer caffeine looking on towards the hipster horizon of small boutique businesses to the lavish luxury of the Hollywood Hills. For me when I think of LA I think of 90’s skateboarding, watching the tidal wave of content that dominated the skateboarding world at the time, the west coast ruled in the 90’s not just in terms of skateboarding but in terms of hip-hop. Justin Nguyen aka Young Citrus is a young DJ and producer who grew up in Southern California who embodies all the traits of all of the above. A self professed skate rat and someone who describes himself as “Riding the concrete wave of art and music that is part of the lifestyle”. 

It’s easy to get the feeling from ‘Sleeping In’ as the track exudes a laid-back, boardwalk surfer style that is heavy in nostalgic turntablist samples laid over a playful bouncy bassline. Finally, a mellow jazzy guitar completes the overall feel good vibe of this solid lo-fi release. Nguyen has the power to make me feel like I am listening to summer in January and he leaves me longing for more. 

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Iain Howie goes beyond the blueprint for 'Living & Dying'

“Living & Dying,” the brand new single from local Vancouver resident Iain Howie, is unmistakably modern dance music. The production quality, four-on-the-floor beat structure, and sound processing all make sure of it. But to leave it at that would simply be a disservice to what is, underneath the arped-out synths and thumping kicks, a lyrical ballad bursting at the seams with melancholic despair.

Compositionally, ‘Living & Dying’ breaks far out of the loop-based patterns that are commonplace in the dance world, with instrumentation that comes closer to the feel of a session musician or live band — a testament to Howie’s musicality. His soft vocals counterpoint the airy pads that are omnipresent throughout the track, giving it a sombre tone. The lyrical quality of the track makes it perfect for home listening, and yet provides just enough structure that DJs won’t have any problem fitting it into a set for a bit of a changeup.

You can buy it now from UK label Needwant’s Bandcamp, or stream it on Spotify. And if you like this one, keep an eye out for a forthcoming remix by Bob Moses…

— review by autonomy

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'point of departure,' a harmonically tuned machine of a track from octo17

The first thing you can tell about ‘point of departure,’ a brand new track from St. Petersburg’s octo17, is that it was built with precision. Like a seasoned machinist steadfastly grinding away parts for the perfectly tuned machine, octo17 produces a sonic aesthetic that is crisp, airy, and grounded in harmony. Every component of the track works with another, whether it be the harmonizing arps, call-and-return stabs, or cross-panned percussion.

And because everything works together, it builds quite naturally to a satisfying climax, taking its time to get there. Fans of melodic or slow techno will surely appreciate this one. Stream it above, and after follow octo17 on Soundcloud to keep up with the rest of his output.

- review by autonomy

Revisiting Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Back To The Basics" in 'Energy Flow"

There are not many men like Ryuichi Sakamoto orbiting the musical universe anymore. Sakamoto is one of the rare few artists that can say they broke new ground influencing and shaping the most long standing traditions in music as well as being razor sharp on the edge of his experimentations that were responsible for influencing multiple modern genres. His musical career is vast and this has allowed him to collaborate with a wide and varied miscellany of illustrious artists that are as far apart musically as the earth’s poles. Because of Ryuichi’s naturalistic and fundamental understanding of music he has managed to extend his works into every corner of the musical biosphere with great acclaim but it’s in ‘energy flow’ reissued for the 20th anniversary edition of ‘Back To The Basics’ we discover how Ryuichi developed solo piano pieces that went on to be his break through album. The intention of BTTB was to showcase his love for traditional classical compositions while exploring different methods and themes he was passionate about at the time resulting in an scarcely available album outside of Japan that is coveted by fans and collectors alike. 

In ‘energy flow’ we are treated to a composition in the sonata form that’s musical canon is varied in tempo from its introduction to final phrase. BTTB has been described as “delicate and frantic”, in ‘energy flow’ we get to feel the more “delicate” end of things as the movements progress from moments of melancholy, to wonder to hope and back again. The piece is complex and performed with the kind of fragile passion that can only be expressed by an indubitable musical maestro, which Sakamoto is in every sense of the word. If you are a fan of piano music or have a curiosity for classical composition then I would imagine Ryuichi could be the gateway composer that will introduce you to whole new wonderful world.  

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Beat Bliss during Kurt Stewart's 'Rush Hour'

Kurt Stewart is no stranger to ADSR. He has been present amongst our blog on more than one occasion and the reason for that is quite simple, he produces solid hip-hop instrumentals, ‘Rush Hour’ like his works before is straight up looped bliss. 

‘Rush hour’ running at just over 2 mins puts some playful jazz piano front and centre and the result is a standard Stewart head nodder! Tight, crisp drums, muted double bass and high frequency hiss give the impression that you are listening to old dusty vinyl. This is what I love about Kurt’s productions is that they exude a kind of café cool that transports you to a place where you feel like you are lounging about sipping expresso smoking cigarettes casually taking in the noodling of the finest jazz artists of the day. Stewart always delivers breezy blissed out beats that are perfect to unwind to. 

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Lounging in lush lo-fi landscapes with Luvwn

Upon doing my research into Luvwn a.k.a. Christopher Kaasik a self described “ introverted art school dropout” hailing from Estonia, I found myself floating off into day dreams as his Spotify track list effortlessly transitioned from track to track. I found it hard to tare myself away as I was enjoying the space that Luvwn had created. According to Christopher “The whole idea behind luvwn is to share a new, unique world through music and art. I feel like sharing a whole world is more interesting than just expressing a story”. In this I feel like Kaasik has achieved his goal. The brand of hip-hop instrumentals he has created are highly ethereal, ponderous, reflective and soothing at times. Not only does Kaasik create a space where you feel ok to be still and contemplative he creates a world where you feel excited to explore with a gentle joy. 

The mainstay in a lot of Luvwn’s works are sampled jazz drums and keys. The samples are chosen with love and care and the combination of the loose percussion and placid piano create magical moments that for me are reminiscent of DJ Shadow’s groundbreaking ‘Endtroducing’, this is especially apparent on Luvwn’s ’to sleep’ and ‘planta lofi’. I feel however Christopher comes more into his own in ‘waking spell’ and combines more complex melodies harmonizing with a lush vocal that has the same effect as his earlier releases while simultaneously revealing the evolution of his sound. If you are a fan of instrumental lo-fi hip-hop then I can’t recommend Luvwn enough as he takes some of the best elements of the genre and makes them his own in the most exuberant fashion. 

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Oneven explores the deeper side of minimal techno in 'Smelt'

Andrew Visser a.k.a. Oneven is a Dutch/British producer who’s output over the last couple of years has primarily been dominated by his ambient works which have ranged from the deeply diaphanous to a stereo spectrum of sci-fi splendour. Some of his explorations have been extremely cinematic and wouldn’t be out of place on a Kubrick soundtrack. This time however Visser goes in a different direction and ventures into the 4/4 universe with ‘Smelt’. 

Starting off with a compressed thumping kick which sets the tone of for an infectious groove that starts to pull us in. Gradually we are introduced to deeper more introspective sounds that submerge us into a deep minimal track that sustains it’s groove throughout. Smelt offers a reliable take on deeper minimal and is perfect for building atmosphere in any warm up set.

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Strolling in street snapshots with KiLLOWEN'S 'Solar'.

There’s no denying that 19 year old London producer and vocalist KiLLOWEN has a certain amount of gravitas to him. Starting a track with a raw vocal with just some reverb is a powerful way to introduce you to his world, it stops you in your tracks and forces you to pay attention. Keeping our attention in music isn’t always easy, but for KiLLOWEN it just comes naturally.  

KiLLOWEN has been producing tracks since he was 13 and started his journey with music long before that, as early as 8 or 9 years of age. So it’s then easy to understand why on first impression I thought I was listening to someone more mature, because I was. KiLLOWEN is a very talented young artist who because of his early start in music has developed his production skills to the level of any established producer.

Solar is a polished, street, R&B gem. You can hear influences from similar artists that have come before him such as The Streets, Maverick Sabre and Real Lies to mention a few. KiLLOWEN does what all of these artists do extremely well and that is to allow you into their private lives in a way that is extremely poetic and uplifting even when dealing with the harshest of realities. Solar is a song dedicated to the passing of a close friend, the song was written the day of passing. This kind of poignancy is prevalent throughout and it grounds you in the artists experience, walking in his shoes, sharing for a moment a snap shot of his life.

Although this is heavy lifting for someone so young, you never get the sense of that because the track is sustained in such soulful praise that we are stately elevated throughout. I am very excited to stroll along the streets of this young man’s imagination once again in the future. 

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