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BEATTOPIA

by William Hancock.

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beats

Fresh Track: ‘Seraphin’ by Beattopia. (Downtempo Electronica).

New tune.

Inspired by the angelic sounds and visions of a fireworks display, this downtempo electronica track builds slowly into a bed of momentum after a drawn out intro.

www.beattopia.bandcamp.com

And while I’m at it here’s an old clip from a Screen Music competition a couple of years ago.

https://vimeo.com/134466773

Life is a strange, wonderful experience. It’s only when a loved one dies that we begin to take in the whole picture. When we sleep each night our soul stays awake in our dreams. When our body dies, does our soul remain alive?

Here’s a two-part documentary about the Buddhist thoughts of what goes on after our bodies stop working. It’s narrated by Leonard Cohen who, two years after the video was released was ordained as a monk of the Buddhist faith as ‘Jikan’ or ‘Silent One’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGS9Ol9Cndg

Rest In Peace Gorgeous. We miss you but are very happy you are free. xxx

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Spatialize – Radial and On The Edge Of Forever.

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“Double Release Hints At Triplets”.

Neil Butler self–released two albums at the same time in early December of 2014 under his Spatialize moniker. Enjoying the option of offering high quality 24bit FLAC downloads and the efficient, cost effective means of digital sales allowed Butler to let the two ‘birds’ fly together, allocating more of the budget to France based Hermetech Mastering. The high production quality is second only to the inspiring composition on both albums.

Radial and On The Edge Of Forever each come in at about 55 minutes. “Any longer than that [for electronic music] and you start to lose your concentration and the album just becomes background music”. It’s this type of meticulous attention to detail that is prevalent in the production of both his latest releases. After sifting through the unreleased material from the past couple of years “there was a core of tracks developing around a slightly different, darker, groove-based, electronica style”. “All-in-all I could see three albums emerging through the fog. Radial in a darker electronica style (and) On The Edge Of Forever in a psychill/global mood…”

Radial’s first two tracks sit comfortably in that groove-based niche. Driving progressive beats with cracking hats, and bridging synth melodies make for an exciting and inspiring introduction to the album. Later in the list we find a collaboration with Matt Hillier of Ishq.

On The Edge Of Forever seems to follow the same format. Two quick ones to start, dropping into several slow to ambient selections and a collaboration in the tail end, this time with Matt Heath aka. Krusseldorf.

The Downbeat Electronica genre has been defined by producers like Butler. So much so that this producer has gone on to define his own. Ambisonica. Downtempo, spacious, crisp, melodic and musical. These tracks are well composed and executed by someone who is obviously creatively talented and well educated in the art. A real pleasure to listen to. Both as individual tracks and as a progression through the albums. One can only hope that the hinted-about third album of the litter, Encrypted Transmissions is as good if not better. Apparently it is closer to the styles found on Radial. You little beauty.

Supercozi – Bioshifter.

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“Cozi Gets Super To Shift Up With Bio-Body”.

Yukimi Yonezawa released her third full length album as Supercozi in early May, 2015 on Wakyo Records. Bioshifter spans the Electronica, Techno and Downtempo genres showing her talent and diversity as an artist. With releases in many genres and a reluctance to pigeon-hole her production styles or music to any particular one, Cozi seems to thrive through enjoying the many different sounds of Psy Chill, Dub, Glitch, Trip Hop, Ambient and Downbeat.

After dropping out of university to work in a record store whilst gigging on vocals and guitar, Cozi taught herself audio production using Mac and an Akai sampler. Around 1997 she had an epiphany with the new school tech, quit the band and started DJing in clubs and parties around Tokyo.

Looking at the downtempo tracks on Bioshifter we find; Nebula to Nebula feat. Martin Denev. A dreamy almost ambient electronic creation drenched in reverb and large expansive pads, expressed in a watery atmosphere. Owl in Me is slightly quicker with a percussive voicing, highlighted by hard-edged tech punctuations to give an almost trance feeling. A nice carry to the track and well- timed drops are a pleasure. D.I.V.E. feat. Reason bops along in a solid, funky bed with glitchy undertones and some washed out vocals. Auto-tuned samples worked into the tech-inspired sound give a timeless tune that could sit well in several different situations. Feels Like Yesterday feat. Sophie Barker embraces strings and a female vocal hook voiced in a gentle context, again with glitch undertones.

As a part of Zen Lemonade and with releases on Iboga, Flow, Dragonfly and her own label Hypoespresso, Supercozi is a well proven Bioshifter as she jumps between genres with natural ease.

Now available on Beatport, Itunes and Bandcamp.

Another Fine Day – A Good Place To Be.

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“Another Cult-Classic From Solo Downtempo Producer Finds It’s Place”.

21 years after Another Fine Days’ Tom Green released the ambient-dub, cult-classic Life Before Land, he returns with a fresh basting of ambient-jazz styling in their latest release A Good Place To Be, out now on Interchill.

Fusing natural soundscapes with jazz, percussion and a smattering of instrumental electronica, the ambient and downtempo styles embraced in A Good Place To Be provide the listener with a captivating journey into the realms of natural music and sound. Birds and insects blend with jazz infused keyboards, ambient percussive punctuations, atmospheric synth pads and halting time signatures. Covering a spectrum of musical styles and genres this album doesn’t fit into any narrow slots, with synthetic and natural sounds and music creating a collage of sonic artwork across the board.

Greens’ colourful and varied past is apparent in the composition of this album. Rising from a post-punk outfit in the late seventies, blending with outfits including Baka Beyond, The Orb and Natacha Atlas and writing screen music for the likes of the BBC through his music production company Apollo Music, he contributes regularly to quality music libraries for Universal Music, EMI Production Music and Accorder Music. Tom also dabbles in various unique side projects including an ambient commission released in 2012 called Music For Tai Chi and a composition designed for installation in a new MRI scanner complex at the Royal Infirmary in Bristol, UK; Music For MRI Scanners.

Track 2 on the album A Good Place To Be, called And Dream of Seals blends affected bird calls with melodic keyboards and mallet percussion to create atmospherics that sit delicately over a bed of subtle beats, set back in the mix. Rising to an excited cacophony of oscillators supplying the playful seals in a wash of percussive waters, this downtempo creation is topped by an icing of electronic synthesis.

Enfolded is an ambient piece, wrapping the listener in temperate washes of electronic waves created using progressively arranged atmospheric synth pads, punctuated quietly yet powerfully with almost a hint of angelic brass in the wind.

From Tiny Acorns embraces Eastern-influenced strings and mallets in a percussive melody lifted by a bed of progressive, oscillator-effected beats. Atmospheric pads complete the palette as the track rises to the rhythmically melodic crescendo of a string-infused summit, all while the beats track nicely through the piece.

The influence of World Music on A Good Place To Be should not be overlooked. Subtle yet distinct, the instrument selection and devices used in the composition reflect a global connection transcending cultural boundaries and merging into a cohesively international blend of sound. Greens background producing with the likes of Abdul Tee Jay and his side project Newanderthal clearly influence this albums creation and its Remixes.

Even at these early stages of release, Another Fine Days’ new album A Good Place To Be obviously has the heavyweight staying power to become another cult classic in the lighter and more delicate styles of the ambient and downtempo music genres.

by William S. Hancock.

Buddha Bar – Hotel Paris. by Dj Ravin.

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“New Release Gives Strength to Good Old Times”.

Buddha Bar – Hotel Paris opened in June 2013 on the Right Bank in the heart of Saint- Honore. Rooms with all the mod. cons from 323.00 Euro a night come complete with a complimentary Buddha Bar compilation. The most recent album in this series was released in November 2014 and compiled by DJ Ravin.

Ravin met Claude Challe, the founder and owner of the Buddha Bar at a club called The Rex in Paris while djing at a party for Wiz Bombino. The two ended up collaborating on a few singles and after Ravin became house DJ at The Buddha Bar, they began to put together mix-tapes that reflected the sets Ravin was playing at that time. Since then he’s produced over 10 albums for the series, two solo albums and a couple of experimentally-eclectic, themed compilations.

This album has been great to listen to. Many repetitions and it still doesn’t seem to be getting tiring. The track list is nicely done, reflecting several different styles. The progression moves smoothly and unpredictably, creating a texture in the order that is refreshing. The mixes themselves are deft, yet not over the top. Just enough to make the album flow.

It starts strongly with the impeccable Gandhara by Amanaska from their recently released album, Escape. Chilled, regal and of a quality that is still hard to find even in this now saturated downbeat electronica environment.

Woman of the Ghetto (Akshin Alizadeh Remix) by Marlena Shaw is a nugget of gold. Every once in a while tracks like these pop their head up. Rare form and a welcome surprise this funky little number grooves itself away, set off by catchy sax and guitar riffs. Contrast these with a melodious little sprite of a happy little tone oscillating its way through a solid-yet-subtle, percussive, funk-infused groove. The guitar riff complements the sax perfectly as samples of Mistress Marlena drop in and out. Keys. All out. So freaking good.

Matham Dub by Thor. Exquisite. Deep dubby synth stabs over a slower epically composed percussion section. Middle eastern chants and strings floating gives a goose-pimple experience.

Sunshine featuring Matthias Wittmann (Thomas Atzmann Remix) is pretty smooth. Nice housey beat with layers of deep rich male vocals. Fairly minimal but tastefully arranged and some notable string sections flowing seamlessly into Herneise by Boral Kibil and Mahmut Orhan. This hauntingly atmospheric, deep, melodic house number sports a stomping kick drum and bass line. Atmospheric synth melodies and soaring string sections backed by percussion beds and a hypnotic synth hook give to a dancefloor with progressive sections that not only highlight the beautiful production but the impeccable composition. Brilliant. Another ripper.

Children of Love by Paji flows right on where Herneise leaves off. While not quite as deep as the one before the composition is remarkably similar and seems to have a string section that could almost have been played by the same artist. Male vocals, a nice travel on the dancefloor accentuated by a skip in the percussion and a slightly reverberating atmospheric.

The Touch (Radio Edit) by Grum. Electro House with flashes of epicness and a meaty midsection give the album a gear change at an appropriate moment.

Lovers Eyes (Mohe Pi Ki Najariya) by Damien Lazarus & The Ancient Moons is a tribal stomper. The native tongues fly over the top of a subtle tech-house beat. Deep grinding synth stabs contrast the world music beautifully with the hard edge of electronica. Travels well, nice rich sound, good composition.

Fall Underneath (Kilter Remix) by Snakadaktal gives us that great, up and coming indy-dance sound we’ve come to know from radio stations like the ABC’s Triple J.

A jazzy little remix of The Cure’s Tainted Love by Poncho Warwick called Tainted Jazz bops along, lounge stylee.

There’s some great racks on this album, and a few duds but no biggies. The second is a real downer. Depressing but still of a brilliant production standard. The fifth song is an eclectic choice by Ravin and doesn’t really seem to fit the playlist, but perhaps that’s sort of refreshing.

Overall the album doesn’t seem to tire when on repeat, is danceable or can be relaxed to on a low volume. The tracks are generally well picked and mixed, and the songs themselves (even the off ones) seem to be right on the money for the album’s construction as a whole.

Just what the doctor ordered. A pleasure and definitely worth a look.

Waypoint by Interchill.

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“Coming of Age Chill-out Label Makes for 21 Strong Compilation”.

A very interesting compilation as far as downtempo electronica goes. Put together by Andrew Ross Collins this Interchill album is the 21st ‘various artist’ release from the Canadian based label.

The track selection textures contrast nicely together with a wide perspective of chillout. Nothing too different to keep them all flowing along the same line. Nothing too similar to bore the listener into a complacent sense of the norm’. Strong downtempo with electro-style inflections and an infusion of jazz-styling instruments and arrangements make for a delightful journey without even moving off the couch.

Hibernation pulls out a remix of Grouch’s ‘Indifference’ with a d-and-b/reggae edge, smatterings of psychedelic-electro and indigenous Australian percussive punctuations. Frederick Ohr and the boppy, almost waltz-laden introduction of ‘In Orbit’ lulls us into a childhood mindset before dropping through progressions of Asian-influenced strings and into a psychedelic bed of solid but not uncomfortable beats. ‘alucidnation’ makes an appearance with ambient synths and spacious strings over atmospherics in Prefer to Stay In. Kaya Project puts in an appearance with ‘Dust Devil’ (Hibernation Remix) dropping acoustic double-bass contrasted with dub-step-like punctuation. The jazz infusion for the album doesn’t stop there. Another Fine Day’s ‘Walk Tall (Throwback Dub)’ riffs jazz-laden keys over a bed of beats and bass. Varient Field’s ‘Dulcet Dalliance’ shows a crisp and lively stream of production with summer time melodies and samples leaving a fresh aftertaste. Yum.

Wrapped up in some great visual detail from Shichigoro-Shingo, drawing inspiration from Japanese Manga illustrations into a blend of bio-mech composition, the album is indicative of the quality we have come to expect from the label. The digipak cd is distributed through Arabesque and available at www.interchill.bandcamp.com.

New Downbeat Electronica Album Review: Ghosts of the Earth by Gus Till.

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“Underground Dance Stalwart Delivers Downbeat Degustation”.

Released in late September 2014, ‘Ghosts Of The Earth’ is a new album from downbeat artist Gus Till (Zen Lemonade). An interesting, highly-produced and well-mastered album GOTE takes the listener on a journey deep into the limbo worlds existing between downbeat and electronica.

With slower tracks Tomorrow Delta and Segue: Backward Steps Into the Future ruled by ambient sound-scapes fused with chillout, the album definitely has something for everyone looking in the slower worlds of the downbeat spectrum. At the other end of this cloudy lens sit faster tracks (110-120 BPM). The jazz-infused Sunstroke layered with vocal-tonings and hints of progressive psychedelia is notable, as is So Long Emergency, bopping along with catchy vocals and the sounds of nature creating a ‘walk in the park’ type atmosphere. The album title track Ghosts Of The Earth imbibes the listener with a libation of African chanting topped by electro-styled synth-stabs ruling over a distorted jazz-guitar chord structured jam. But by far the most outstanding track on this obviously well-assembled and composed album is Angel Fright. A solid, boppy, trance-grooved bed laid down by trance artist Rip Van Hippy allowing the repetitive, distorted guitar chords of Steve Hillage (System 7) and the now trademark synthesiser sections to float in a spacious and yet well compressed airspace. Heading into the deeper sections of the album this progressive, layered track takes us through the dance realm with its speed, rhythmn and melodies. Special mention to Japanese Saxophonist Chika Asamoto for sessioning beautifully on this album.

Based in Bali, Till allows himself a freedom of expression that comes with liberating oneself from the regulations of the sub-genres this album encapsulates. Very melodic, punctuated with a busy combination of pads and highlights and backed by a percussion section that could only come from the trance arena, this album does not disappoint. Ghosts of the Earth is well produced, nicely composed and expertly mastered allowing its masses of texture to shine through. This combined with the well-organised and mature delivery makes for a veritable feast in any sonic degustation session.

Max Chillroom – Downtempo Electronica Album Review.

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“Downtempo Electronica Compilation Enjoys a Dubstep-infused Frizzante.”

Max Chillroom. A chillout electronica compilation, produced by Lloyd Barde of Backroads Music is out on the now defunct New Land Music record label.

Comprising of artists from countries including Israel, France, Sweden, Bulgaria and the west coast of the USA, this international compilation of downtempo electronica with a dub infusion is enjoyable, tasteful and delicate. Suiting the yoga-end of the spectrum the album, with a nicely arranged progression draws the listener through an array of sub-genres.

Hawaiian-based producer Bluetech makes an appearance with Kingdom of the Blind, showcasing dance-diva Alyssa Palmers vocal abilities (Afro-Jack, Steve Aoki). Sounds From the Ground (Elliot Morgan Jones and Nick Woolfson) make an appearance with their track Clover. Bopping smoothly with a slight break-beat style, complimented by a successful brass section from Crispy Horns. Warm synth-pads and interesting highlights make this a standout tune. Swedish outfit Kritikal Audio’s (Martin Skogehall and Robert Elster of Uppsala) downtempo appearance with Springbreaks is great. A progressive chillout tune from the UK based outfit, this uplifting piece with inspiring melody lines has hints of the dub-step sound smattered through the chug-a-lug style bed. Also of note is Bulgarian outfit Vataff Project, the brainchild of Victor Marinov. The group encompass an all senses show-style that includes visuals. Carpet Sounds gently dips from deep, synth-laden downtempo and into the more ambient styles with spacious soundscapes and delicate production. Shen (Noah Pred of Primordial Nature) with the dark almost spooky track called Descendant again draws on the dubstep inflection to punctuate the paragraph of sonic landscape we drift in.

Released in February 2007 this now somewhat outdated album is still worth a place in the collection. The selection and arrangement of tracks are enjoyable if not stand-out and make for solid background sounds or pleasant relaxation journey. At 75 minutes it makes itself worthwhile.

Amanaska – Escape.

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“World Music Melds with a Variety of Genres in Highly Anticipated Release”.

Escape is the latest album release from Simon Lewis and his band Amanaska, published by Australian Downtempo Electronica Label One World Music. When the flagship single Tide was released in mid-2014 ahead of the full length album, it smacked of the characteristic production we had all come to love from this Victorian based producer. Rolling beats carrying superior vocal lines are highlighted by melodic hooks incorporating keys, oboe, strings and notably showcased on the Café Del Mar Dreams:Volume 6 Compilation. With Lynnelle Moran on vocals and Greg Spence on Flugelhorn its sparkling polish in the peak is just stunning.

But true-to-form and as we would expect from any great, self-actualised artist and musician the new album challenges our expectations of normality, plunging us into a pool of new work infused with hints of urban, dance, hip hop and pop.

The production talents on the album are world class. But it’s the stories that the songs carry that present themselves foremost, wrapped in new styles of genre and delivered in ways that take time to sink in. To grow. Thankfully in an industry where the art of the Griot has become 2IC to the monster of mass-marketing, Amanaska have answered the call for a return to the roots of music as a vehicle to convey Story. In Hear them Calling N’fa Jones of Australian Hip-Hop’s 1200 Techniques fame tells of a distressing and yet easily relatable urban street scene. The narrator of the scene places us in the situation as an observer, filling us not with junk food but nourishing information about the truth and reality of life in this day and age. A reality that is sometimes as ugly as it is beautiful. Jones and Lewis carry it off admirably with hints of Michael Franti and the track Television, the Drug of a Nation from his 1990’s group The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, delivered in chillout format with an almost baroque-style-harp hook line backed by the Eastern-style beats of K.V. Balakrishnan on Tabla.

As with any good album, the sound-palette is close enough to the last album to give us a feeling of comfort and consistency. The sound that we have come to know is there, the signature of Amanaska. The feelings and composition structures have not so much changed as grown to become more enriched and nourishing. Yet the sound of the new album is also challenging enough to take us outside the norm. It breaks away from the last album not only in terms of structure and familiarity but in terms of delivery and at times even foundation.

Run From It begins normally enough with the trademark Lewis introduction of wind and percussion before dropping into a vocal line that is initially hard to slot into place in terms of familiarity and time-signature, predominantly due to the minimal structural sonic-surround. After finding the track-line and lurching into an almost break-beat regularity the song moves into the wise and philosophical lyrics, foremost in the audio mix. This track is a classic example of the challenge Amanaska have laid down for the listener, who is only allowed to finally relax into the now fully developed 4×4 gait a bar or two before it rips into a 120 bpm electronic dance section of deep synth-based stabs and electro-style peaks before returning us to the now comfortable refrain. Willow Stalhut on violin and Charlotte Jacke on cello provide a lightness that is tasteful and balanced.

The short self-titled intro track from the album of the same name is a typical grounation, ushering us into the following sonic adventure and featuring Calista Lewis on vocals. Over and Over’s story is sung by Diana May Clark, relates to us the love affair of simply listening to great records and follows a similar downtempo electronica format as Tide, both reflecting Sleep on the previous album. Floating bed tracks relax the listener into an unchallenging sonic environment designed to carry and comfort. As does Ghandara, infused with a hint more World Music flavour due to the Greek-inspired chanting and solos featuring Byron Triandafyllidis on vocals and bazouki. Nothing In This World’s boppy hookline, sung expertly by Amanaska band member Tania Doko shows hints of the Neo-Jazz sound in a poppy tune reminiscent of Morcheeba’s vocal stylings. Santorini Dream is a melting pot of world music sounds lead by Amanaska band member Janine Maunder on vocals, Irene Vela on Bazouki this time and backed with Darbuka and Banjo.

With hints of Urban, Hip-Hop, Dance and Pop blending with the trademark World and Downtempo genres this outfit are no longer just a Chillout act. Breaking away from the self-cast mold of that last album Circles in 2006 and after 8 years of growth, experience and nourishing adventures the feeling that shines through this 50 minute sonic journey is one of broad, unbridled horizon reflected stylishly in the albums title and artwork. It transcends the norm in terms of the status quo. The songs are not singularly definable but more a blend of several styles within one track, giving both the listener and the creator room to move.

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