“Downtempo Stayer Carves Sonic Niche”.
Bruce Bickerton studied classical piano in the early years. After igniting his passion for electronica in the late 80’s during the ambient house boom, he began investing carefully in studio equipment. The early 90’s saw his collection of vintage Roland synths swell and with them his production skills and passion for sonic creation.
After the success of Get Lost in 2008, Bickerton followed up strongly with Aural Architecture in 2013. Through several album releases Bruce has developed a predominantly analogue electronica sound, steering away from digital plugins and allowing the construction of his characteristic meandering beds to hold space for well-constructed keyboard compositions.
The latest release from Alucidnation is Peace Odyssey. A 13 track LP comprising of textbook melodic Downtempo Electronica, smattered with some excellent piano work and punchy-yet-discreet synths stabs.
The opening track Plastic People sets a strong flavour for the rest of the album with bright, positive electronica and synth atmospherics coupling snugly. LED bops along in a similar vein, as does Mantis. A Reflective Mood is standout with the piano composition and execution of this worthy of an orchestra backing. The rogue is called A Paen, the Ye Olde name for a song of joy, praise or victory. Despite its unique sound the song seems out of place. The album closes with Taters and Sudetenland, both having similar formats with deeper feeling and more robust construction. Perhaps a hint of things to come?
Classic Alucidnation. Well composed, nicely produced and tightly executed.
Peace Odyssey is available now through One World Music.
“European Downtempo Integrates With Festival EDM Scene”.
French downtempo act Sysyphe (Phillip Contamin) released his second album through psy-trance label Hadra in July of this year. Leading hand of the chill section at the Grenoble-based label, Sysyphe brings another textured electronica composition to his repertoire. Influenced early on by Gothic Rock that led to jockeying psy-trance records and eventually programming the international Hadra Festival, it was an encounter with The Orb in 1995 sparked his interest in the slower genres.
The Cities of Silver Trees tells the tale of an internal quest amongst the meandering of a youthful forest. A haven of peace and source of all life where the trees are made of sap, with stone and light the décor. It’s through this universe that Sysyphe invites us to take an ambient stroll, evolving into a deeper journey of pure electronica charged with an edge of trance-flavoured synths and stabs. Highlights include a deep, momentous and atmospheric Body and Mind chugging away, a reggae inspired Dubspell and a delightfully spacious ambient introduction full of forest critters and life in A L’Oree.
With a definite psy-chill angle and a finish that could almost be classed as slower EDM, The Cities of Silver Trees carries off a saturation of synthesisers tastefully, with a successful composition orientated towards an outdoor audience.
“Re-issued Album Brings Global Awareness To True Purpose ”.
Elemental Journey is an ambient and downtempo album by electronica heavyweights Pan Electric (Matt Coldrick) and Ishq (Matt Hillier), first released in 2005 and recently re-released under Rouge Reptile Records, Pink Lizard Music’s re-issue label.
The EP spans the lower strata of the downbeat genre with Air totally ambient, yet Fire Dance dropping into a high-tempo drum and bass section before fading back into an epic couple of minutes of well constructed synth pads. Band from Atlantis brings forth a Pink Floyd-esque downbeat track tripping balls through oscillators before floating off in atmospheric colour. The first track Terra Firma can be found here for a complimentary download.
Coldrick hides not from the true motive of their collaboration; “This album, co-created with the mighty Ishq from Cornwall has seeded a die for a multimedia exhibition. I firmly believe and have done since 2004/5 that many of humanities problems rest in the disconnect with the natural world that has grown alongside our increasing dependency on technologies. This is compounded by our gradual loss of indigenous mythologies. This album offers a gateway to a visceral and spiritual connection with the forces of nature using the elements as a gateway.”
It seems many are feeling frustrated at the lack of respect being given to our planet and its resources. One may refuse to listen to words, yet humans have no choice but to experience an emotional reaction to music.
“The project is dedicated to reminding us of our elemental relationship with the planet.”
Recent works for coming show next year. Pen and Ink. Meditations on Geometry.
Older work from past shows in the same vein. Above are extensions from this body of work.
The above right stencil of paint on black paper was the brand logo used for 2008 show. It was used on all promotional material including advertising graphics in Art Almanac circulated internationally.
This guitar was designed and constructed using exotic Tonewoods including Mahogany, Ebony, Rosewood and Spruce. Further detailed shots can be viewed at www.kymatix.faithweb.com. It was constructed while studying a Luthiers Course through www.thomaslloydguitars.com. Still playing great.
Speakers made from coconut shells. The clapping sticks (idiophones) are made from Blackwood (Acacia Melanoxylon), a native Australian Tonewood cousin of the Hawaiian Koa used traditionally to make ukuleles. See here for a link to the kymatix.faithweb site with a transcript of the Koa article published in Australian Guitar Magazine.
Skateboard designs. Ink and pen.
This installation is the third in a series over many years. The first was made with papier mache and cardboard, the second were similar although painted with natural colour and used green shade-cloth for the leaves. This was aiming to be lit with the UV light underneath and a waterwave projector to give the palm dappled light and an illusion of glowing and moving. Also lit through the holes in the trunks. The design didn’t quite have the affect I was looking for so is considered a sketch for future developments in the series.
A recent series of chilli shaped cushions designed for use as a tactile installation.
Food design. Slow cooked pulled-pork sliders with red cabbage coleslaw and bbq sauce on the left. An attempt at an old school Big Mac on the right complete with Mac sauce recipe found on you tube, direct from the original manufacturer.
Shameless self-promotion of latte art. Theres something amazing about these designs that flow out of the jug. Every time I pour a coffee it never ceases to amaze me just how beautiful and individual they can be. A result of gravity, the coriolis effect and the baritsas motor skills.
A collection of works from over the years that have been done more for fun than for professional application. Art and Design has been present in my life from a very young age and something I enjoy on a personal level, from a place of self-development and enjoyment. My upcoming show will be a body of work centred around the forst couple of shits in this series, developing into the use of coloured pen and ink and further geometric representations of fractilised design and meditations centred around the materialisation of Metatron’s Cube.
AUSTRALIAN DOWNTEMPO ELECTRONICA
“Environmental Sustainability Awareness Threads Through The Arts and Festivals”.
The guitar hook in the first track on Daheens new album, Purple Chillies is a catchy little riff. With didge rolling intermittently, a chilled-out yet solid percussive section and natural birdcalls this number may well find its way into a few downbeat compilations. Rising Sun has that special quality. The second track backs it up. The third, Anthropocene shifts tempo upwards slightly with a groovy bed, more addictive guitar riffs and some interesting and informative historical samples. Tinkling showcases the operatic vocal prowess of Karolina Le Breton. Fracking Hell takes an educationally political stance on the Coal Seam Gas problem being confronted internationally with some strong vocal samples taken from leading politicians and protesters about the environmental ramifications of pumping the water table full of highly toxic chemicals.
After the release of his debut album Green Chillies in 2008, Daheen (Dave Le Breton) has been active on a number of different fronts including downtempo and psy-trance music production (check out the recent release Being Green for psy-trance). Not to mention the event production! Regen Records is an environmentally-orientated record label consciously aware of the need for sustainable business practices and clear decisions in the everyday lifestyle of business and pleasure. From the tree planting schemes associated with the labels annual Regrowth Festival to the packaging of their label releases, Dave and his partner Max (Bumble) at Regen Records are constantly evolving their models and moving forward within the evolution of their art and business ideals. Ethical business with an environmentally-moral conscience.
Over the past 10 years the annual Regrowth Festival, from which Regen Records sprang forth has been responsible for in excess of 67,000 native plants taking root. Aiming for the highest sustainable practices in the world has earnt the Regrowth crew the coveted Greener Festival Award. The four-day festival presents live and electronic international and local acts within a framework of interactive arts expressions, workshop spaces and a large amount of fun. Elaborately themed stages, sculpture and modern decorations and installations create an eye-opening artistically-based world upon the lands of the Guumaal Nation in Moolingoolah Country, New South Wales, Australia.
Wether its Daheens downtempo or dance stuff, the label it’s released under or the Regen Festival it’s showcased at, these guys are walking the talk in an effort to affect positive change on a planet that we all only have one of.
“New School Sonics Re-Arrange The Old School Benchmark”.
Interchill have just let another curve ball fly. Subtextures. A compilation of Bass music incorporating tracks with elements of glitch, dubstep, jazz, drum and bass, dub and downtempo all loosely thrown under the banner of electronica. It’s a very interesting selection, hard to define and certainly doesn’t disappoint. It does divert from the ‘norm’ which is refreshing. But then define norm, especially in this day and age.
“Subtextures presents a unique strata of unclassifiable musical hybrids that reside in a niche all of their own. This is liminal music, crucial listening that traces the contours and skirts the edges of that which is easily defined”.
These tracks are modern, cutting edge and progressive, not so much in terms of the genre itself but in terms of being advanced contemporary sonic design. It’s exciting to see the new stuff emerging, with Interchill on the forefront of this building wave. Following on from their 2013 compilation Depth Charge, the album sports new tracks in the same vein with a slightly different intention.
Next- generation artists from the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. Intelligent design, atmospherics and a lilting track list that winds its way along a mindbending trip of sonic colour. Naasko has put together something special for all those electronica freaks with a penchant for the broken, bass beats.
New school artists including Biome, Geode, Trashbat and Sepia. Newcomer Commit from Sydney, Australia makes an appearance on the tail end of the batting order with a spaciously atmospheric track called Atlantis. A self-styled producer of deep, emotive dubstep and techno he’s crafted an ambient intro that tumbles into a cavernous breakbeat drenched in reverb. He comes with a seal of approval from many of the scenes labels and DJ’s including Paradise Lost and Laurent Garnier.
It’s a sound that is both unique and enjoyable. For those unfamiliar, it may initially require that extra bit of attention but once the format is clocked in, it settles down into a unique journey through a whole new world of audio textures that are well worth taking the flight alongside.
“Homage To The Goddess Proves Spontanteity Is The Key To Joy”.
Now here’s an interesting one. Jamie Catto from Faithless. Yep the dance act with Rollo and Sister Bliss. He teams up with Duncan Bridgeman again. The guy who he did The 1 Giant Leap series with. They knock out a chillout album and release it through Sydney-based downtempo label, One World Music. Literally knock it together. Three days. A bunch of famous dudes. A few non-famous and one big-ass jam at his mate, Dave Stewart’s old church-studio (the same place they did one of Dido’s albums at). And it sticks.
Catto explains “The Happening was a tithe or a thank-you gift to the Goddess of Music for letting me make a living from music in which I invited all my favorite diverse artists.” And so he did. The Faithless rhythm section rolled up. The keyboardist from Oasis. The singer from the Sneaker Pimps. the scratch DJ from Beck, the singer from the Hothouse Flowers. Then Maxi Jazz rolls in with Pauline Taylor, the voice from their epic track Don’t Leave and things begin to take shape.
There’s a distinctive world music flavour on the album, obviously originating from Jamie and Duncans work on the two movies and their associated soundtracks. Reggae and dub influences are also present. Intelligently produced, beautifully mastered and collaborated upon in a way I’m sure the goddess of Music would be proud of. The little duet at the start of Chances Are is a highlight with the digital and analogue world colliding with an African xylophone and scratch dj riff that is as delicate as it is massive. Some wise and deep words spoken from a number of different voices, downtempo goodness that washes from delicate and spacious to railroad-trucking style beats infused with a variety of different classic and modern instruments. Sitar, Duduk and clarinet sit alongside standard band setups and digital programming to create a fusion of sound-quality and a depth of music that is still rare today. To have this created in three days is mind-blowing on one hand and yet makes complete sense in the other. There are some productions that can only be successful if done on the fly. If this had been written prior to recording it most likely would never have happened (pardon the deliberate pun).
The album is chilled, textured, deep and intelligent carrying messages and wisdom within the music as well as aesthetic composition. It’s a wonder it hasn’t been more widely exhalted. But perhaps that’s the humility of the work that lives in the balance with its greatness.