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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Lost in an ocean, Caramel Smooth Heaven finds you

It’s hard to imagine the overwhelming solitude of drowning in the ocean. But that’s exactly what New Zealand artist Caramel Smooth Heaven aims to portray in this new album, “The Shallows.” Heavy stuff, to be sure. Though while the emotions are weighty, the production here on the lead single, “Blue Clouds,” is restrained. The skittering garage-influenced drums, no doubt familiar to fans of Jamie xx, provide just enough structure for the pulsing, saturated synth pads that propel the track. The result is a moody, vulnerable composition that pays respects to the beautiful tyranny of nature.

Releasing this single is Kaiseki Digital, a unique label that aims to sonically capture the spirit of Kaiseki, a Japanese culinary technique that tells a story with food. If you enjoyed “Blue Clouds,” you’ll love the full album, which is available now for just $2 on Bandcamp. Support!

—review by autonomy

Keep up with Caramel Smooth Heaven, part of the Caffeinated Collective:
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Spiritual music from a Tokyo Dragonfly

Next up for your listening pleasure is a local (for those of us in Japan, that is) Japanese artist, Tonbo (meaning Dragonfly in Japanese). Tonbo has been flying around the Tokyo underground electronic music scene for some years now, exploring the spiritual side of music and Japanese culture. Tonbo produces, DJs, plays guitar and even gets on the mic from time to time. He also puts on a regular party dubbed the Tonbo Matsuri, (Dragonfly Festival) which is described as, "...a crazy bash to make a place for releasing spirits." Our featured track, "Gion", comes from the recently released Yellow Trance EP. It’s been released on the Psymatics label and follows Tonbo's first full length album, released in early 2017, Tokyo Mad Cave. Tonbo works and collaborates with numerous musicians and creators, "Gion" follows that trend. The tune features the Japanese traditional string instrument the shamisen, as played by Tokyo Ghetto Shamisen.

"Gion" is hard to pin down, it dabbles in the ambient, downtempo and psychedelic genres, while also containing elements of minimal, acid house and trance. As a whole it has a deep, transcendental feeling, combining analog and digital sounds. There's both traditional Japanese drums and our aforementioned shamisen playing a dominant role in the track, along with electronic drum beats, treble droplets, and a constant bassline. At times the track feels foreign and cold but always maintains a feeling of Japaneseness; a certain ancient spirituality, that lingers throughout.

Tonbo is an interesting experience listening to in single track form. A given tune feels like it belongs to a piece of a much bigger expression. I have a feeling a full set from Tonbo is an experience that is sure to transport participants to another world and may very well be up to the task of releasing a spirit or two in the process.

If our Dragonfly man Tonbo has enticed you, as he has me, make sure to give him a look on the following platforms.

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A lesson in Minimalism from Swedish producer- Fabian Rosenberg

Fabian Rosenberg, is a Swedish artist located in Stockholm. He has roots in the jazz tradition as a trumpet player but he moves seamlessly between being a producer, pianist and composer. His intimate piano compositions and field recordings blend together with acoustic instruments and electronics, a hybrid process used to create his signature haunting ambiance and heartfelt melodies.

His pseudonym Klangriket has received international recognition as ”a breath of fresh air” in ambient and contemporary classical music circles. Among his soloworks there have been several international and local collaborations, with artists such as Sjors Mans, Dominique Charpentier and Jakob Lindhagen. Just earlier this year, Rosenberg and Mans recorded ”The Amsterdam Sessions” a beautifully delicate 5 track album that was the result of four days spent in Mans’ Amsterdam studio. During this time, they improvised and experimented as much as possible, while taking turns on different musical instruments. The result is a deeply personal sound that serves both as a conversation between two talented, creative minds and as an homage to the power of collaborative improvisation.

Continuing down this path of musical exploration and boundary dissolving sound experimentation, Fabian presents his latest offering in the form of a 4 track solo EP entitled: ‘Tjärn’. Written mostly in 2016, the release represents Fabian’s journey in finding his own voice as a composer and producer; creating a new identity away from his background as a jazz trumpeter. The closing track “Skogsrå” not only brings the riveting album to a contemplative conclusion, but also represents a kind of fresh shift in Fabian’s creative process. As he explains “Skogsrå is one of the first pieces of music where I explored beats and how one could make beats that wasn't locked in to being a drumkit. I couldn't let it get buried on a hardrive somewhere, so I decided to release it along with three compositions I made around the same time. It's been long overdue!”

Head over to Bandcamp and grab the ‘Tjärn’ EP. Out now on Peruvian imprint ‘Piano and Coffee Records’.

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NEW FEATURE: ADSR blog 022- "Jar 94"

Once known as "Space Monkey" through the radio airwaves, our special guest soars gracefully from the Pacific Northwest. We are delighted to shine the spotlight on audio engineer: Sabrina Dzugalo. In one line, Sabrina is a maven in ambience, processed minimalism, and thoughtful layering.  However, the depth of her mind, creativity and skills extends beyond words. Come for a cyber dive and read the full interview here. Yes, you can double dip into "Jar 94" while you're at it.