Sunday, December 16, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Black Marble, Telefon Tel Aviv, and Mortality

With it's minimal-synth/coldwave sound, the music of Black Marble is pretty catchy. What hooked me initially was some similarity between his track "A Great Design", and Telefon Tel Aviv's "Your Mouth.

"Your Mouth", and the 9 other tracks on "Telefon Tel Aviv's "Immolate Yourself" were so very different from their previous IDM-ish tunes. This was the final album by TTV, as Charles Cooper (who did the vocals, and mixing, if I remember correctly), died in 2009.

Music, and people's attachment to particular songs or albums are often keyed to specific events, sights, and feelings, anchored in time. In January 2009, I was working in a seaside town in South Korea. I would finish work each night around 11pm. During the walk home, the streets were empty, and my mind filled with uncertain feelings about decisions I'd made, and the path forward. Listening to the tracks on 'Immolate Yourself' gave me a great sense of peace during that time, reminding me of how much I loved my life. At the same time, the somber, dream-like nature of TTV's tracks made me feel nostalgic for the present - a reminder that nothing lasts forever. 

I found out about Cooper's death while listening to this track, standing in an empty street, staring at my phone. It was an odd experience - a reminder of my own mortality, certainly - but it reinforced my desire to treasure the present, rather than preemptively mourn it's passing.

I listened to TTV's final album, (and the remixes they released during that time) consistently throughout my time overseas. For this reason, I'm always excited to come across new music that carries certain similarities to the tracks on "Immolate Yourself". While Black Marble is far more minimal wave, with harsh, highly sequenced '80s synth, I really appreciate the vocals and mixing style.


Another track that trips similar somber newwave sentiments with me is Belong's "Perfect Life". It holds hands with English Shoegaze & ambient, evoking bits of New Order's "Elegia", or Joy Division's "Atmosphere".

Belong @ SoundCloud:

Black Marble @ SoundCloud:

Telefon Tel Aviv's Immolate Yourself @

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Displaced mix by Memory Tapes [update]

[Update:] This is odd - the original mix, titled "Displaced Mix" was removed by Memory Tapes, and replaced with a similar mix, same artwork, but titled 'Replacement Mix'. No idea why, but it's equally good, if not better:

[Update 2:] Got a reply from the artist, and he removed the original 'Displaced Mix' because one of his remixes was of another artists work whose album was still unreleased. All the same, I wish I'd had the foresight to save that mix. It worked really well together.

Still, 'Replaced mix' is a nice combination of of rarities, B-sides, remixes, and unreleased tracks by Memory Tapes. Check out his music blog that has a surprising amount of free music.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

COM TRUISE - Yxes (No Sexy Edit by Blayne)

COM TRUISE's IN DECAY album is excellent. However, one track 'Yxes' ('Sexy', backwards) has  particularly jarring breaks with a retro sounding "Sex-eeeee!" soundclip. I also wasn't a fan of the funky break it has near the end - so I chopped the song up, looped, reordered, re-EQ'd, and filtered it.

Remix and custom track art by Blayne Scott. Enjoy. :-)

Here's the original, for comparison:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A reflection on distorted memory

An excellent video mix for a Com Truise remix:

Just in case the culture-killing content removal police do succeed in axing this video-mix, here's the original track as well:

I have such an attraction to this sound/visual combination for a number of reasons. Foremost, I think it's gained traction among myself and others born in the '80s because growing up, were too young to actually *live* in the era. As a result of television, film & radio, we internalized much of the sound, images, and texture of the decade, right down to that desaturated, blurred VHS look everything seemed steeped in. I associate that feeling strongly with my childhood, as I'm sure others do. Every time I see a modern cellphone photo turned into a faux-polaroid by Instagram, I'm seeing a modern emulation of older media forms: we're reaching back to the pre-internet age 'golden age'. Why though?

Style and nostalgia, I think. Older things have that warmth that the cold digital age did away with. Looking at vintage computer ads from the 1990s, I can see the transition from one to the other. It's unsettling: What will be is presented in the typography, color and style of what was.

The affinity I have is a product of my own distorted memory. It was the mass consumerism and media saturation of the 1980's and early 1990's that generated so many of the symbols I associate with retrowave music: 'futuristic' concept cars, driving, lasers/"space!", neon pink/purple, specific fashion styles, variety shows, static, softened analog edges, laughably archaic video effects, etc.

Most people I've talked to who were teens or adults during this era didn't have much to say about it. In the same way, most of us aren't exactly nostalgic for the span of time between 2000 and 2010. It's just another sequence of time - the meaning we draw from it is constructed - a pastiche of remix of a pastiche. I'm content to realize that the deep love I have for the visuals and 'sound' of the 1980s are a desire for something that never truly existed.

Beyond the Black Rainbow + Com Truise

Two of my favorite things, together:


A video mix of the delightfully weird film 'Beyond the Black Rainbow' with a track from the upcoming Com Truise album IN DECAY.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A particularly horrifying remix of "Gangnam Style"

Do yourself a favor today, and play this video of a Krampus dancing on loop, while listening to this Industrial Witchpop remix of Psy - Gangnam Style by HERITICS:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Memory Tapes: Walk Me Home 1 & 2

Thanks to the magic of Soundcloud's notification system, I received word today of a new mixed set by Dayve Hawk of Memory Tapes. One of the first artists I actively followed online (from his time with Hail Social, to Weird / Memory Tapes) - he consistently creates excellent music. The Walk Me Home mixes in particular have a vintage, spooky vibe to them.
Walk Me Home 2 by Memory Tapes

Also,  Memory Tapes "Walk Me Home" mix [free download link], was created originally for the excellent back in 2009.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

DJ Blayne Mixtape: Memory (2012)

Memory Mix (2012) by thisstuffiswonderful

DJ Blayne's : Memory 2012 (Mix Tape):
A mix of chillwave, electro-ambient, and electro-synthpop I find emotionally evocative.

1. Aslan Osiris - When Our Moon Falls vs. Tycho - Ascension [DJ B Edit]
2. Apparat - Arcadia (Telefon Tel Aviv Remix)
3. Telefon Tel Aviv - The Birds [DJ B Edit]
4. M83 - I Guess I'm Floating
5. Kevin Shields - Goodbye (Lost In Translation OST)
6. Cool Angels - Don't Feel Like Holding On (Ft. Stef Hodapp) [DJ B edit]
7. Memory Tapes - Run Out
8. Telefon Tel Aviv - Helen of Troy
9. Gypsy & the Cat - Time to Wander (Joan of Arc Remix)
10. DIIV - Follow (Memory Tapes Remix)
11. Eight and a Half - When I was Twenty Nine
12. M83 - Slight Night Shiver
13. Tycho - A Walk

Mix also streaming on Mixcloud:

DJ Blayne - Memory 2012 Mix Tape by Djblayne on Mixcloud

If you like the artists included in this set, buy their music. Some tracks are already available for free (Soundcloud) or for purchase (via Bandcamp). Mixtape created using Adobe Soundbooth and Premier.

-DJ Blayne 
[ ]

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Starcadian - HE^RT Video

I can't say enough good things about this music video. From the psudo-80s VHS effect & ident tag, to the '80s homage (The Last Star Fighter, etc.)  - then to the chilled out track with smooth chordis (reminding me the French band Air's album Premiers SymptĂ´mes) and filtered vocals -- everything here's good. 

Looking at Starcadian's other tracks on SoundCloud is... surprising. His remixes and other tracks are completely different in style. I hope he pursues the style cultivated with his track HE^RT, and to a lesser extent Girls of Midnight.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Goldroom: Pacific

Goldroom is an interesting producer that's I've followed through Tracasseur for a few months since hearing his track, Fifteen.

A newer track of his called Pacific caught my ear today with its spacey, chilled out synth.
Goldroom - Pacificdownloadable for free here as part of an online compilation. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

DJ Blayne Mixtape: Retrowave & Other Futuristic Music

The Hope That Was - Mixtape by thisstuffiswonderful

DJ Blayne's : Retrowave & Other Futuristic Music (Mix Tape):
Current artists whose songs evoke an '80s futuristic sound 
1. Power Glove - Nightforce
2. ActRazer - We Own The Night
3. Mega Drive - Neo Tokyo 2019 [DJB Edit]
4. Thomas Barrandon - The Quiet Earth
5. Perturbator - There Is No Love Highway [DJB Edit]
6. Makeup and Vanity Set - A Glowing Light, A Promise (88:88 film score)
7. Steve Moore - Frigia [DJB Edit]
8. SquareWav - 4 AM Sunrise [DJB Edit]
9. Com Truise - Polyhurt
10. Maethelvin - Plan B
11. The Outrunners - Diamonds [DJB Edit]
12. Noir Deco - Fantisy Noir

If you like the artists included in this set, buy their music. Some tracks are already available for free (Soundcloud) or for purchase (via Bandcamp). Mixtape created using Adobe Soundbooth and Premier.

Update 2013: Now available for streaming from MixCloud:

The Hope That Was: Retrowave & Other Futuristic Music Mix by DJ Blayne by Djblayne on Mixcloud

-DJ Blayne 
[ ]

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

DJ Blayne Mixtape: "What's Old is New" Vol.2

DJ Blayne - What's Old is New Vol.2 Audio Mix

DJ Blayne's "What's Old Is New" Vol.2 Mixtape: Covers and Remixes of 80s/Electronica

1.) Lost Children - Cry Little Sister [Gerard McMann Cover]
2.) Sunday Girl - Self Control (Young Empires Remix) [Laura Branigan Cover]
3.) When In Rome - The Promise (Covenant Mix)
4.) Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Right Round (Razormaid Remix)
5.) Human League - Don't You Want Me vs. Gary Numan - Cars (TheWrightSound Remix) + [DJB edit]
6.) New Order vs. Yazoo - Don't Go On Blue Monday (White Label Mashup) + [DJB Edit]
7.) Visage - Fade to Grey (Bassheads 7" Edit)
8.) Tears For Fears - Pale Shelter (Razormaid Remix)
9.) Peter Godwin - 10 Images of Heaven (Razormaid Remix) + [DJB edit]
10.) Culture Kultuer - Love Will Tear Us Apart [Joy Division Cover]
11.) Alphaville - Forever Young (Hamel Album Mix) + [DJB Edit]

If you like the artists included in this set, buy their music. Some tracks are already available for free online by the original remix artist. Created and mixed using Adobe Soundbooth and Premier.

Update 2013: Mix available for streaming on MixCloud.

What's Old is New Vol.2 Mix by DJ Blayne by Djblayne on Mixcloud

-DJ Blayne
[ ]

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The many names of '80s Homage Music

A critique that the Chillwave term is too broad, or too confining for artists feels similar to debates about what is/isn't Witchhouse. I defer to the saying coined by the supreme court: "I'll know it when I see it".

This genre is really hard to pin down, and it's probably better for it. North American & European pop music, video game and movie soundtracks from the 1970's and 1980's all appears filtered through memory, and into this 'genre'. A single track that carries with it a chill, '80s vibe could be called one of many different names: synthwave, dreamwave, outrun, nu-disco, synthpop, retrowave, 80s revival, etc. - and honestly, with the exception of 'outrun', it's in the ear of the beholder. Genres are useful tags to help people find similar sounding music, but it's best not to get too hung up on what goes where.

Regardless, each artists offer something different than actual 80's pop or straight-up homages to italio disco/space synth. Listen for yourself, and track down more by the artists you like.

Power Glove - Nightforce

The Outrunners - Diamond

What many people think of as '80's synth is a byproduct of the hardware used in in that era by musicians. The strong, unfiltered synthesizers (Korgs, Rolands, etc.) once had significant limitations, including but not limited to: how many bars of music could be programmed/looped, lack of filters outside analogue studio equipment, etc. Newer artists recapturing/emulating that sound take it in interesting new directions though, as many work without the hardware limitations, thanks to newer equipment, or editing software workarounds.

Com Truise is another of my favorite synth-heavy, vintage computer sounding artists. Just about everything the guy touches is steeped with a catchy, vintage sound.

Check him out on Soundcloud:

Or his blog/site:

Com Truise - Polyhurt

Com Truise - Brokendate

Com Truise - VHS Sex

Com Truise's also does some excellent remixes. Neon Indian's original track Sleep Paralysist is good, but the dual remixes Com Truise produced take it to a different level.

Neon Indian - Sleep Paralysist (Com Truise 'Eyelid' Remix)

Neon Indian - Sleep Paralysist (Com Truise 'Disorder' Remix)

While College's live performance sound like looped 80's house music, it's another nu-disco outfit with an 80's synth sound that's produced some catchy tracks. I saw this solo act perform live in Toronto recently while on tour with Anoraak, and both put on a good show. It's little wonder they produce great collaborative tracks like Fantasy Park:

College - Fantasy Park (Feat. Anoraak)

College - Amira

College - Desire

Glo-Fi / Chillwave

When you set aside the distilled, almost sterile '80's synth sound, you get more into a slower, hazy and reflective territory sometimes labaled as "Glo-Fi" or "Chillwave".

The artist who performs as Washed Out clarified what his music sound like in an interview with AdultSwim"It's like dance music made by people who grew up never listening to dance music." That's an idea I feel applies to most glofi/chillwave styled music.

Washed Out - Feel it all around

Washed Out - Eyes Be Closed

Casa Del Mirto is another artist I came across that captures that hazy, reflective sound, but keeps it from falling down the rabbit hole of memory with a good beat. It also has a nice tropical flavor.

I found these tracks/albums particularly good:

Casa Del Mirto - The Ease

Pepepiano's whole album is also worth checking out:

Pepepiano - Babes

Occasionally, Glo-Fi artists use of sampling audio-cues from old TV/Movies/Radio references even earlier eras than the 80's. For example, take the fascinating artist Belbury Poly found on the 'Ghostbox' label.

Belbury Poly - Summer Round

Belbury Poly - The hidden door

Nu-Disco & 80's Revival SynthPop Music

Much of the modern 80's synthpop I've found online (via YouTube, SoundCloud, and Tracasseur's Music Blog) borders on pastiche, but in a nice way. Artists often takes vintage soundtrack musical cues/chord structures and creates something completely new, but ultimately familiar. It's where the concept of Saudade comes in - it reminds us of a time that we want to go back to - but in truth, perhaps never existed how we remember it. I'm sure there were bars that looked/sounded like Tech Noir in the 1980s, but for a generation like myself that grew up in the early '90s (being born in '84), all I ever had were video and images to show me what the recent past was; it's shape, color, and character.

I'm happy to find many of these artists strike a similar chord. If you've found this post, and haven't yet heard of these songs, I hope they do for you as well.

The problem with genre names, is that they're often too general. I've noticed the term 'chillwave', labeled on many chill-sounding modern newwave-sounding bands, or songs. While some remixes, or particular tracks certainly have that feel - others simply feel like 80's pop music from an alternate universe.

For the sake of my own iPod playlists, I group things based on a few factors - your mileage may vary.
  • If there's clear, undistored vocals, and the songs follow a pop-structure with clear chording? Synthpop. Much of the new 80's sound has a French-electro/Nu-disco vibe to it, particularly remixes by Fear of Tigers.
  • However, other chill-sounding tracks that have increased distortion, or a haziness to their sound or vocals I like to group as "Glo-fi". 
  • Likewise, a heavy emphasis on synthesizers and sequencing (with minimal-to-no vocals) feels better suited as synthwave (without vocals), or synthpop (with vocals). Again, things are hard to nail down, but just about any of the above mix well with the rest. 
First up is Anoraak, (An-o-rak), a band based in France, which I can only assume drew it's name from this (English) slang term. A few of their tracks are downloadable here.

Their original songs are good, and have particularly clear, pleasant vocals. Anoraak's most popular track, Night Drive is great, and I enjoyed Cloud Rain Love as well. Where their songs really shine though, is when remixed in a dancy, Nu-disco style.

Anoraak - Night Drive (Fear of Tigers Remix)

Anoraak - Night Drive (Grum Remix)

Anoraak also has some very good remixes of their own. It's worthwhile browsing around YouTube or Tracasseur's Music Blog to track down other stuff they've been involved with.

Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms (Anoraak Remix)

Also in the pop-ish / catchy hook territory, are bands like Electric Youth. Their recognition recently comes from providing the vocals to a collaborative track with College for the excellent Ryan Gosling film, 'Drive'.

I was lucky enough to see both the band perform live in Toronto, including a rendition of the song "A Real Hero". While the venue's sound was less that amazing, both artists skill shone through.

College & Electric Youth - A Real Hero (Drive Original Movie Soundtrack)

Electric Youth - Right Back To You

Neon Indian is another interesting band. From what I've seen, the artist seems a bit irritated that people dare label his music anything, including 'chillwave'. His blend of synth, fuzzy vocals, and pop hooks is hard to pigon-hole, but his music still sounds great when paired with other modern synthwave / synthpop artists.

Neon Indian - Halogen (I Could Be A Shadow)

Neon Indian - Polish Girl

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chillwave: Weird Tapes

The only music artist online that I'll consistently check for newly posted tracks is "Weird Tapes", and the his side project, "Memory Cassette".

As one blogger put it:

Feel like I might call it 'chill wave' music in the future. Feels like 'chill wave' is dominated by 'thick/chill synths' while conceptual core is still trying to 'use real instruments/sound like it was recorded in nature.' Feel like chillwave is supposed to sound like something that was playing in the background of 'an old VHS cassette that u found in ur attic from the late 80s/early 90s.'
Is it possible to be nostalgic for memories that aren't your own? This occurred to me while listening to music associated with 'chillwave' artists like Memory Tapes recently.

Something about this artist (and perhaps the genre) strikes a chord in me. Listening to any tracks reminds me of memories I never had - a feeling that I've combined childhood perception with actual memories I had as a kid watching TV, or wandering around outside.

Listening to Weird Tapes/Memory Cassette/Memory Tapes as an adult bring about an intersection between the events of my childhood, and the mood/feelings I had during specific moments. It's hard to put into words, but I think that's why this music is such magic.

Also check out Weird Tapes earlier band, "Hail Social" - far more alt. rock, but you can see the beginnings of his style in many tracks.

Be sure to dig through the Weird Tapes blog archive. 80% of his music is free to download, with the exception of some full EPs, which are available through iTunes, etc.

A good place to start is with a mixtape of his called "Walk me home". It's a combination of a few of his tracks, an expertly mixed .mp3 of your memories. :)

Update: I came across an interesting interview with the artist (Dayve Hawk) at Sterogum.