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Following up on the downloads, part 1: eMusic January 15, 2012

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That’s a lot of downloaded albums. More than I can properly absorb, and it’s been that way for years now. Fortunately, eMusic continues its war against its customers, so I’m not getting as much there as I used to. They lost three of the biggest indie companies late in 2010 (Merge, Matador, Beggars) when they managed to make a deal with one of the majors — for the US only, and with drastic changes in US pricing. Here in Canada, we didn’t get the major labels eMusic has been courting, but we still lost the important indie labels.

To follow that brilliant move, eMusic came up with a drastic redesign a couple months back that made the site unusable for several days, and made some features barely usable for weeks. Fixes aren’t going to be finished for at least another month. Browsing the site has become much more difficult, so my daily runthrough of new downloads has come to an end. I did that every day for years. New releases show up in physical stores on Mondays in the UK and Tuesdays in North America, but you could never be sure which day a particular label’s new releases would show up on eMusic, so I checked regularly. Now it’s just too much of a pain.
The two main things keeping me tied to eMusic are inertia and S.T. Holdings. And electronic, ambient, and experimental music labels in general. Most of the major dubstep labels are there, mainly through S.T. Holdings, and there’s still enough good and interesting music related to dubstep to follow (though the ways in which dubstep is impinging on the mainstream — Skrillex, Nero, Korn, etc — are fodder for another, more casually dismissive discussion).

A part of me, though, still hopes that the site will become user-friendly again, and that some labels will return, and I’ll be excited about eMusic again.


Listening September 23, 2009

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Telepathe: Dance Mother

Telepathe: Dance Mother

At the eMusic bulletin board, one regular user announced that he was leaving, not because of the changes at eMusic, but because he has too much music he never listens to, and eMusic’s subscription model just makes that problem worse. I’m not going to quit eMusic any time soon, I hope, but I can see his point.

I’ve downloaded two albums and an EP from eMusic today (Telepathe and TV on the Radio). I’m halfway through listening to one album, haven’t listened to the others yet, and if I give into the strong temptation to go have some coffee and something to eat, I may get caught up in doing something else and not get around to the other stuff I downloaded. And then I may forget about it.

I downloaded the new Maximo Park and Julian Plenti albums a few days ago. I don’t think I’ve listened to either one all the way through yet. I know I listened to the new Lavay Smith all the way through once or twice. The new Sally Shapiro, two or three times. The new Robin Guthrie and the xx, half a dozen or a dozen times, probably. Robert Hampson — a few minutes of it. Andrew Liles — most of it, once, though I liked it a lot.

As great as it is to be able to access so much music so quickly and easily and relatively inexpensively, as great as it is to hear about an interesting new band or genre and be able to hear some of it right away, it’s breadth at the expense of depth. Downloads from eMusic don’t come with liner notes or lyric sheets. That old experience of opening a record or CD and putting it on the stereo, then settling back with the sleeve/jewel box/whatever to read through while listening to the music, doesn’t happen so often. Now it’s more about downloading something while doing something else on the PC, listening to it for a little while until there’s something else to do, and maybe getting back to it. I do sometimes listen to something while googling for reviews and articles about it, but my interaction with the music and the material I’m reading is more active, less immersive.

I like getting to know an album, getting to the point where as one song ends I’m hearing the beginning of the next before it actually starts playing, having songs pop up in my mind at times when I’m not listening to music. Not that long ago I came across a reference to a guitar solo in a particular David Bowie song. How did that solo go again? I basically played the whole song in my head, from memory — oh, yeah, that solo! But that song is on an album I bought when I only had a few dozen records, and it’s one I still love, so I’ve heard it a lot of times. I can’t do that with anything from the last several years. (The downside to that familiarity is that sometimes the music has made such well-worn grooves in my memory that the album plays through and never really grabs my attention; it’s over before I notice it. That’s why I sometimes like using shuffle, or listening to alternate versions of old favourites (live, Peel sessions, demos, etc) — I actually hear everything again.)

I guess that’s part of the point of this blog that no one reads: it’s about reminding me to listen closely to music, to think about it, to value it.

August’s eMusic downloads September 11, 2009

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Ghosthack: S.E.L. ep

Ghosthack: S.E.L. ep

Dubstep singles again. Faib, Liondub, MRK 1, Moldy, and Jack Sparrow, among others, and the much talked about Crissy Cris, whose big dumb banger style turns out not to be my thing. Plus an EP by Ghosthack, a German producer who’s heavily influenced by the excellent anime series Serial Experiments: Lain.

Grouper: Cover the Windows and the Walls. Somewhere between the Kranky Records sound of the mid-’90s (Jessica Bailiff in particular) and a more ambient take on the “rural psychedelia” of Flying Saucer Attack. (Not that that’s all that wide a divide, given that Bailiff and FSA’s David Pearce collaborated on the clear horizon album for Kranky.)

Robert Hampson: Vectors. Hampson was the leader of the loud psychedelic/shoegazerish rock band Loop but, after that band ended, moved to much more abstract experimental noise/music with little remaining trace of rock, with his project Main and elsewhere. I’m going to have to push myself to listen to this one, I think, because as much as I liked Loop, I haven’t really developed much of an appreciation for most of Hampson’s other stuff. On the other hand, three long tracks, three download credits, worth a shot.

Andrew Liles: The Dying Submariner. According to the AMG review quoted at eMusic, the subtitle of this album is “A Concerto for Piano and Reverberation in Four Movements.” Sounds about right. Reminiscent of the Caretaker, this is atmospheric, droning, and occasionally surprisingly musical. Once I’ve absorbed this, I may try out some of Liles’s other stuff on eMusic.

The xx: xx. The latest UK indie blog buzz band. I saw comparisons to Young Marble Giants and mention of dubstep influences, listened to the samples, and was instantly sold. I also hear the quieter side of the Jesus and Mary Chain in there, and the mentions of Tricky, the Raveonettes, and Mazzy Star that I’ve seen in other reviews also make a fair bit of sense.


Robin Guthrie: Carousel

Robin Guthrie: Carousel. Another album of instrumental guitar music from the former Cocteau Twin, shoegazer icon, and collaborator with Harold Budd, John Foxx, and many others. Not a major departure, but no one else does quite what he does.

Lavay Smith and the Red-Hot Skillet Lickers: Miss Smith to You! One of the best acts by far to come out of the ’90s swing revival, and one long overdue for a new album. We’ve listened to their first two albums quite a lot, and saw a great live show by them ages ago, so this should do pretty well around here too.

Sally Shapiro: My Guilty Pleasure. Another winning blend of Italo disco and synthpop with a touch of melancholy. Doesn’t have the same effect now as hearing “Anorak Christmas” for the first time a couple of years ago, but still good.

July’s eMusic downloads August 5, 2009

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Riechmann: Wunderbar

Riechmann: Wunderbar

Still no sign that eMusic Canada is going to be getting Sony and the price changes and all that crap in the near future, so I’m still a happy eMusic user. And here’s what I’ve downloaded lately…

Conrad Schnitzler: 00_346+00_380 _ Mixes 1 and 00_346+00_380 _ Mixes 2; Klaus Schulze: Cyborg, Irrlicht, and Mirage. This was inspired by a Simon Reynolds article from 2007, just reposted on his ReynoldsRetro blog, called THE FINAL FRONTIER: The Analogue Synth Gods of the 1970s. The article makes two points: first, that there’s a whole school of electronic music that’s almost forgotten now or at the very least considered dubious and uncool; second, that some of it is actually worth hearing. It’s a look at the spacy, cosmic electronic music by the likes of early Tangerine Dream and others, and Schnitzler and Schulze were both mentioned in the article. So, because I do consider myself an electronic music fan and I did miss out on a lot of that stuff (seeing some of it as dull and pretentious at the time), I’m doing some homework.

Riechmann: Wunderbar. I’d never heard of the artist or the album, but the eMusic blog 17 Dots did a feature on it that intrigued me. I was sold by the comparisons in the first paragraph: “the B-Side of David Bowie’s Low or moodier Kraftwerk or any of Brian Eno’s ambient/electronic works.” It’s a 1978 album by someone who’d worked in the past with members of Neu! and Kraftwerk, a bit influenced by New Wave. One track sounds a lot like Neu! spinoff La Düsseldorf, who sounded at times like an inspiration for Ultravox. So, yeah, this is up my alley.

Subhumans: Death Was Too Kind. Not the UK band, the Vancouver band. For some reason, their music hasn’t been well represented on CD. I’d love to just get a CD with the Death Was Too Kind EP and the Canadian Incorrect Thoughts LP, both of which I have on vinyl, but instead I have a compilation album called Pissed Off… With Good Reason!, which has a few of those songs, and crap mp3s from a long out of print US CD version of Incorrect Thoughts, with a different selection of songs. I downloaded several tracks from this compilation to fill in some gaps, so at least I have the digital equivalent of the EP, but I still need a proper release of the album.

Various artists: Ragga Jungle Dubs. Continuing my slow but steady exploration of post-reggae music, this is a collection of ragga jungle, the reggae-influenced, pre-drum & bass sound that was briefly popular in the UK. I’m still not crazy about ragga vocals, but the “dubs” part of the title means that there aren’t as many vocals as there might normally be.

Beat Pharmacy: Wikkid Times Remixes. I really liked the dub techno/reggae crossover sound of the original Wikkid Times album, and I like these remixes, many from well-known dubstep producers, too.

2562: Love in Outer Space/Third Wave. New dubstep/techno crossover single.


Sonic Youth: The Eternal

Michael Rother: Flammende Herzen. Rother was one of the two key members of Neu!, and this is an early solo album of his. This is like a prettier, more accessible Neu!, and may prove to be a better listen, longterm, than Klaus Dinger’s post-Neu! project La Düsseldorf.

Joe Gibbs and the Professionals: African Dub All-Mighty Chapter 3. I like dub reggae but don’t actually have all that much. This is supposed to be classic stuff, and certainly sounds good enough on first listen.

Higuma: Haze Valley. Sort of psychedelic/drone/ambient, though the epic first track gets pretty loud.

Nadja/Black Boned Angel: Nadja/Black Boned Angel. Speaking of loud, this Canada/New Zealand collaboration starts out as layers of ambient drone before somewhat more recognizably metal influences pound their way in, not that a lot of metal fans would necessarily recognize it as such.

Metric: Fantasies. More good new wavy indie rock from Toronto, not a major departure at all from their past albums.

Various artists: Kill Rock Stars Sampler 2009. Forgot I downloaded this. It’s a free sampler of random tracks released over the years on the Kill Rock Stars label, including songs by Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Elliott Smith, the Decemberists, and others.

Sonic Youth: The Eternal. New Sonic Youth albums don’t always get the amount of play around here that they should get, because there are so many great old ones. But there’s good stuff on this album; I just have to make a point of remembering to listen to it.

And speaking of eMusic… July 2, 2009

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emusicAs of yesterday, what was once the subscription-based indie alternative to Itunes is now an Itunes wannabe crossed with a subscription service. In the USA, at least, where the Sony catalogue has been added, prices hiked up, subscription terms drastically changed, and per track charges replaced on a lot of albums by a standard 12 track charge, often in cases of albums with fewer tracks, less often in cases of albums with more.

It’s the worst of both worlds, judging by the reactions of American users. There’s a lot less selection than there is at Itunes or Amazon’s mp3 store; the prices are no longer a lot better than theirs; and you’re still locked into a subscription model rather than being able to just buy a few things. A lot of albums can now only be downloaded as album downloads, so forget just buying that one song you like.

The selling point of eMusic to its most fervent supporters was that its low cost and indie nature, combined with the subscription model (with more monthly downloads than now), made it easy to expand your musical horizons, taking a risk on unknown artists or trying out new genres of music at low cost, even if only to use up all those monthly download credits. Some users not only used every download every month but bought second subscriptions or booster packs, which allow a few more downloads at a somewhat higher per track cost. On the flipside, a lot of users didn’t bother to use up all their downloads every month. That was reportedly a significant amount of income for eMusic, because you pay whether you download anything or not, and your unused June downloads disappear when July begins.

For eMusic users in most countries outside the USA, things are really bad. They use the US service, which means they’re now paying a lot more and getting a lot less. and they don’t have access to the Sony catalogue, the main reason for those changes. For users in Canada and the UK, which have localized versions of eMusic, things are better. My plan hasn’t changed; I’m getting the same number of downloads for the same price. But that’s because we don’t have access to the Sony catalogue yet. When we do, and it’s coming eventually, we’ll be faced with the same changes that have led a lot of longtime eMusic users to quit the service.

Personally, I’ll have to wait and see, but even if I stick with it, my relationship with eMusic will be very different. As a lot of other users have said, there’ll be a lot less experimenting, more sticking with sure things. That’s not great for me. It’s not great for a lot of obscure artists and labels, either.

It’s the end of a wonderful thing. It won’t satisfy the average music consumer, who may have issues with the subscription model and who won’t understand why the other major labels aren’t represented, and it certainly hasn’t pleased the people who were happy with eMusic before. Some day, business students may study this move as a classic case of fuckuppery, both for how it was done and for how it was communicated to the user base.

June’s eMusic downloads July 2, 2009

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Nosaj Thing: Drift

Nosaj Thing: Drift

More dubstep/wonky/whatever singles: King Midas Sound (Dub Heavy – Hearts and Ghosts EP), Cooly G (Narst/Love Dub), Joker & Rustie (Play Doe), Joker (Hollybrook Park, Do It/Psychedelic Runway), Joker & Ginz (Purple City/Re-Up), D1 (D1:V2, D1:V3, Degrees).

Peter Broderick: Music for Falling From Trees. More of that home listening/modern classical/ambient style piano and strings.

Mos Def: The Ecstatic. His debut album, Black on Both Sides, was a  great hiphop album, but his last couple of albums were reportedly weak and uninspired. Reviews said this was his best album since Black on Both Sides, so I figured it’d be worth a shot. Not bad so far.

Nosaj Thing: Drift. Instrumental, beat-oriented, electronic music. Not dubstep, though. It’s getting labelled as instrumental hiphop. But it keeps your attention, and it’s one of the two great finds of the month.

Dubterror: Dubterror. Dub, reggae, dub techno, and dubstep.

A Storm of Light and Nadja: Primitive North. A couple of experimental metal bands, one of which (Nadja, from Canada) I’ve been listening to for some time. I think each band does a song or two and then remixes a song by the other, rather than any more direct collaboration. This isn’t really going to make me want to go find any more music by A Storm of Light; there are some interesting moments, but also some dull ordinary metal moments.

Loden: Valeen Hope. This is the other catch of the month, a really good example of the kind of melodic techno/shoegazer crossover that Ulrich Schnauss and M83 do.

Pulshar: Babylon Fall Collection. Minimal dub techno with occasional vocals.

May’s eMusic downloads May 31, 2009

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The Sight Below: Glider

The Sight Below: Glider

The Sight Below: Glider. Another project by Rafael Anton Irisarri (mentioned last month), this one is like minimal techno crossed with Robin Guthrie’s ambient guitar music.

The Hope Blister: Underarms & Sideways. The Hope Blister was the project that followed on from the 4AD label’s classic This Mortal Coil project. Underarms was a limited release of instrumental tracks; it’s been rereleased with Sideways, a set of remixes by Markus Guentner. Hasn’t really sunk in yet.

Somatic Responses: Reformation. Good, dark dubstep.

Backyard Band: Skillet, Experience Unlimited: Future Funk, Rare Essence: Greatest Hits Vol 1. Well, if you read two George Pelecanos novels in a row, all the references to go-go music will make you want to hear more than just the Trouble Funk and Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers that you already have. Go-go’s a variety of funk that’s huge in Washington DC and obscure pretty much everywhere else, and part of the reason is that it seems to be more about the live experience than albums. Still, some good fun stuff here.

Spatial: Infra002, Gravious: Futurist EP, Horsepower Productions: When You Hold Me/Let’s Dance. More dubstep singles.

10-20: 10-20

10-20: 10-20

10-20: 10-20. A mix of abstract electronic music in the IDM mold with some dubstep influences.

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society: Infernal Machines. This’ll probably be getting its own post before long. Steampunk jazz? The future of big band music? Whatever you call it, it’s an interesting new jazz album that at times seems to verge on progressive rock. But it’s better than that may sound.

Lafayette Gilchrist: Soul Progressin’. New album from jazz pianist Gilchrist and his band.

Harold Budd and Clive Wright: Candylion. Second collaboration by ambient pianist Budd and guitarist Wright, a little more varied in style than the first, less purely ambient.

Camera Obscura: My Maudlin Career. More upbeat yet mopey Scottish pop, with fewer immediately catchy hooks than Let’s Get Out of This Country and more strings.

Sunn O))): Monoliths and Dimensions. Halloween background music — beatless heavy metal drones with occasional orchestral and choral touches, some metal vocals, in four epic tracks.

J Dilla: The Shining. Catchy collection of rap and a bit of R&B by the late and highly respected producer and a variety of guests, including Common, D’Angelo, Madlib, Busta Rhymes, and several others. There’s a bit of a J Dilla cult developing, and this is a pretty accessible introduction.

Paul Motion Trio: One Time Out. Continuing the attempt to broaden my jazz horizons. This is a nonstandard jazz trio, with drums, sax, and electric guitar. Sometimes sounds pretty trad, other times sounds quite different from the usual.

Edan: Beauty and the Beat. A strong and enjoyable hiphop album with inventive, sometimes psychedelic-sounding music.

Astrid Williamson: Day of the Lone Wolf. One of my favourite music reviewers is a big fan of Astrid Williamson; this is a very likeable album, but it’s not a hell of a lot different from a lot of post-Sarah Mclachlan/Lilith Fair albums. Pleasant female singer/songwriter stuff. Some really good songs, but not quite as revelatory as I expected.

April’s eMusic downloads April 30, 2009

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Hildur Gudnadottir: Without Sinking

Hildur Gudnadottir: Without Sinking

Aidan Baker and thisquietarmy: A Picture of a Picture. Ambient/drone music created on electric guitars. It’s the second collaboration between prolific experimental/noise/metal artist Baker, also known as one half of ambient doom/shoegazer metal band Nadja, and Eric Quach, shoegazer/ambient musician. Less abrasive than a lot of Baker’s work; quite pleasant, in fact.

Svarte Greiner: Kappe. Svarte Greiner is Erik Skodvin, one half of Deaf Center, an ambient/”home listening/modern classical” (to use a Boomkat label) project I really like. This is darker and more abrasive than Deaf Center, not unlike some of the stuff that was tagged isolationist a few years back. Skodvin is also the guy who runs the Miasmah label, which released…

Rafael Anton Irisarri: Daydreaming. More “home listening/modern classical,” this is a really good mix of piano and subtle electronics. Angelo Badalamenti’s influence would seem to be verified by a track called “Lumberton,” after the town in which the movie Blue Velvet is set.

Encre: Plexus. Another example of the Miasmah “home listening/modern classical” style, this is a single 40 minute track using cello and noise. Haven’t listened to it all the way through yet.

Greg Haines: Slumber Tides. Even more Miasmah, and more cello, along with occasional voice, bells, and a lot of electronic manipulation. Very good stuff, especially considering Haines was apparently only 18 when he made this album (produced by the aforementioned Skodvin).

Hildur Gudnadottir: Without Sinking. More “home listening/modern classical” using cello. I didn’t set out to get a lot of this kind of thing, but a bunch of Miasmah releases popped up on eMusic at the same time. This isn’t on Miasmah, though, it’s on Touch, which has a slightly more classical esthetic approach.

Deepchord: Vantage Isle Sessions. Deepchord/Echospace is a label and recording project operating in the dub techno style, and they just popped up on eMusic with a few releases. This is 13 versions of one track, for a total just under 80 minutes, but the various remixes are different enough to keep madness at bay.

Jonas Reinhardt: Jonas Reinhardt. Haven’t listened to all of this yet, but it’s another new album of retro electronica, with some krautrock (early Kraftwerk, Cluster, Harmonia) influences. It’s on Kranky, a label I’ve tried to keep track of since I got into the postrock/ambient band Labradford back in the ’90s.

Rapoon: Time Frost

Rapoon: Time Frost

Rapoon: Time Frost and Lull: Like a Slow River. I’ve bought albums by each of these ambient projects before (and a variety of other things Lull’s Mick Harris has done, particularly Scorn); these are part of a series of albums released on Glacial Movements, an isolationist/ambient label inspired by arctic and antarctic imagery. You can almost feel cold listening to these.

Two Fingers: Two Fingers. A collaboration between a couple of electronic musicians (one of them being Amon Tobin, who’s done everything from triphop to video game soundtracks) and a few vocalists, with grime/hiphop rapper Sway on most of the songs. There’s elements of grime, dubstep, and more here. Sounds quite good so far.

And a few dubstep singles and EPs, mostly from the Tempa label.

Recent eMusic downloads March 11, 2009

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Once again it’s time for a roundup of stuff I’ve downloaded from eMusic, the independent alternative to Itunes.


Alva Noto: Xerrox Volume 2

Alva Noto: Xerrox Volume 2.  Abstract electronic music, sometimes not much more than drifting drones, other times subtly melodic and dynamic. I gather it’s partly built from samples of electric guitar and symphonic music, but this is a long way from rock and not much closer to classical. It is, however, strangely captivating, and though it comes close to ambient, it’s more likely to startle you with the occasional noise burst or crescendo. “Xerrox Meta Phaser” gets downright abrasive and loud, though other tracks are almost pastoral. Could make good soundtrack music for the right SF novel…

LCD Soundsystem: 45:33. One 46 minute song that’s like a series of electronic dance/disco/funk tunes mixed together, closing with a couple of minutes of ambient tones. has its moments, but not getting a lot of play here yet. It’s followed by a four minute long song that’s not much more than a rhythm track, a little funky, a little dubbed out, but not terribly interesting.

Jay-Z: Reasonable Doubt. I like some rap/hiphop but tend to go for the alternative/underground stuff. Still, when the first album by one of the biggest names in mainstream rap showed up on emusic, I figured I might as well educate myself. Based on a couple of listens, I’m liking this well enough; it has more depth than a lot of the popular gangsta and pop/ringtone stuff coming out these days.

The Cramps: Stay Sick! In honor of Lux Interior (RIP). Great, fun, catchy, B-movie rockabilly noise.

Various artists: An Introduction to Truth and Soul. Truth and Soul is one of the labels that arose after Desco Records fell apart. Desco was a small label that specialized in making new funk and soul records that sounded like something from a lost James Brown recording session; Desco discovered Sharon Jones, who’s become pretty popular lately. This compilation follows a similar funk/soul trail but also adds some Latin-style tunes. I think the Lee Fields songs here are my faves.

Horace Andy: Dance Hall Style. I first heard Andy’s distinctive voice on songs by Massive Attack, and got a compilation album of his music. This album was recommended in the Big Takeover’s top 50 reggae albums list, so why not? Half a dozen long songs, the latter half of each song being basically a dub version. The sound is a bit thin but it’s good stuff.

Joker / 2000F & J Kamata: Digidesign / You Don’t Know What Love Is. Hyperdub is one of the top dubstep labels, and when emusic has a new single from them, I get it. Joker’s is instrumental, with clashing electronic lines (melodic keyboard versus what sounds almost like a 1980 videogame); 2000F and J Kamata are a bit closer to conventional dance music, with heavily vocodered R&B vocals.

Pinch: Midnight Oil/Joyride. Another dubstep single from another essential dubstep label, Tectonic. Atmospheric techno with powerful dubstep beats. Pinch’s Underwater Dancehall album is one of the best single artist dubstep albums out, and worth investigating.


Asobi Seksu: Hush

Asobi Seksu: Hush. The latest album from a band that’s helped revive the shoegazer sound, this one is a bit more laidback than their past albums, and on a casual listen sounds reminiscent of Lush and the Cocteau Twins.

Zomby / Darkstar: Memories Rmx / Saytar. Another dubstep single. Haven’t listened to it yet, but Zomby and Darkstar have both done some great singles.

Aardvarck: Bloom-01 and Bloom-02. A couple of EPs, dubstep but with much more of a pronounced dub reggae feel than usual.

Neil Landstrumm: Lord For £39. An album of dubstep, dub techno, techno, etc. In other words, electronic music with a lot of bass.

Cannibal Ox: The Cold Vein. Just downloaded this and haven’t listened to it in full. Classic alternative hiphop album from 2001. I think I’m going to like this one a lot.

Kode 9: Black Sun / 2 Far Gone. More Hyperdub goodness from the creator of Memories of the Future, one of the albums that got me hooked on dubstep. But here he’s moving into funky, a newer UK dance music style that to me sounds a little too conventional to be as interesting. Still, it’s Kode 9, so it’s more interesting than some of the other stuff I’ve heard that’s being labelled funky.

Horsepower Productions: Kingstep / Damn It. A UK Garage/2step group credited with being one of the acts who created dubstep in the first place return with a new single. The A side has an Asian feel (with sampled vocals), the B side has more of a Jamaican dub feel.

If anyone’s actually reading this and wondering what dubstep is, stay tuned…

Recent eMusic downloads January 23, 2009

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I love eMusic. If you like mainstream music on major labels, stay well away from it; it’s not Itunes, and you won’t find a lot of big names there. But its low price and subscription model make it easy to justify trying out albums you wouldnt necessarily pay $20 to buy on CD. Every so often I’ll post briefly about what I’ve gotten there lately. In some cases I’ll write longer reviews, but those will probably come after I’ve had time to really get into the albums.

So… some quick thoughts on some recent downloads.

Ladyhawke: gloriously cheesy 80s revivalism by a woman from New Zealand who wasn’t born yet when this stuff happened. Think Kim Wilde, Berlin, Pat Benatar, lots of synths, mopey dance tunes.

Geeneus: Volumes: One. Keeping up with the way UK electronic and dance music evolves could be a fulltime job. Geeneus used to be known as a grime and dubstep producer; this album, however, is the first single artist album in the newer style known as funky house, or funky for short. No connection to James Brown or George Clinton funk, though. This is club music that doesn’t sound a hell of a lot different from the house and disco I’ve heard in the past. Listenable, at times quite enjoyable, but not likely to become a staple sound hereabouts.

Hauschka: Snowflakes and Carwrecks and Goldmund: The Malady of Elegance. Intrumental, piano-led music with occasional strings and electronics, somewhere between ambient, classical, and experimental music. Hauschka is a bit livelier, reminiscent a bit of Satie’s more playful moments, whereas Goldmund has the subtlety and austerity of Harold Budd’s music. I need to listen to these more.

Basic Channel: BCD-2. This is a collection of techno singles by a group that absorbed a lot of dub influences and created a highly influential blending of minimal techno and electronic dub. This is more on the techno side and doesn’t do as much for me as some of their other work. Still, given how regularly Basic Channel gets namechecked in electronic music reviews, it’s worth having a better idea of what’s being referred to.

Improvisators Dub Meets Iration Steppas: Inna Steppa Dub. I read about Iration Steppas in Woofah, the grime/dub/dubstep/reggae zine, and couldn’t find much by them. This is a collaboration between the UK-based reggae soundsystem crew and a French dub band; it’s a slightly updated take on roots and dub reggae. Sounds pretty good so far.

Jah Shaka and Mad Professor:Jah Shaka Meets Mad Professor at Ariwa Sounds. Haven’t really listened to this dub reggae album yet, but it’s another Woofah-inspired download (they interviewed Jah Shaka about the UK reggae soundsystem scene).

Stereotyp: My Sound. Needs more listens. This is a 2002 album blending electronica, reggae, and dancehall, and it’s been called a prototype for dubstep. I love a lot of dubstep, so that got my attention.