Best New Music: “Hyperion” by Gesaffelstein

If there is something that no longer surprises me is to acknowledge how many talented artists periodically emerge from within the French electronic scene. Even if we consider only the last twentyfive years, we can mention a remarkable number of influential figures such as Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel (Air),  Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk), Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay (Justice), Nicolas Fromageau e Anthony Gonzalez (M83), Ludovic Navarre (St. Germain), Martin Picandet (Martin Solveig), and Benoit Carré (Skygge). These artists have developed their own peculiar styles and techniques, but all of them share the same capacity to combine originality of approach with style and, of course, enjoyability.

One of the figures that in the recent times has gained an increased attention as both producer and songwriter is Mike Lévy, an artist who is best known with his stage name of Gesaffelstein. Levy has already accredited himself as one of the most intriguing figures of contemporary electronic music, well beyond France, as witnessed by the fact that in the time-span of just a few years he has already accumulated a considerable number of collaborations with artists of the caliber of Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and The Weeknd.

French electronic producer and songwritre Mike Lévy, best known as Gesaffelstein, a made-up word meant as a reference to both the concept of “Gesamtkunstwerk” (total work of art) and Albert Einstein.
The first releases from Gesaffelstein date back to 2008 but his first LP (“Aleph”) arrived in 2013. So far, he has published two LPs and 9 EPs.

On March 2019, Gesaffelstein has released the album named Hyperion, which formally is the second studio LP of his discography after his 2013’s debut called Aleph. As said, during this time Lévy certainly had the opportunity to confront himself with many different artists and experiences and, in fact, the new album comes out in a moment in which the artist has undoubtedly gained greater popularity and awarenes. And what we hear from his newest release is absolutely impressive.

“Hyperion” is the second studio album by Gesaffelstein, released on 8 March 2019. The album is produced by Columbia Records and it includes collaborations with The Weeknd, Pharrell Williams, Haim, The Hacker and Electric Youth.

There are really many things that I appreciated in Hyperion. The first one is the solid research that the artist has done on the sonic aspect of his music. That’s particularly evident in the instrumental tracks of the album, where we can enjoy beautiful but also very particular ranges of sounds. As a matter of fact, the possibility of customizing and shaping both sounds and atmospheres is really one of the peculiarities of electronic music, something that should be sought and exercised by every artist. Conversely, many modern artists seem to be happy to just rely on those palettes of sounds that have already been defined and affirmed by others, making their albums to be often indistinguishable.


Another thing that I liked is the temper, the character of this music. For most of the tracks Hyperion basically offers a fairly accessible and synth-based version of techno music. Below the surface, however, there is always a dark and relatively haunting feeling that you get from the music. It’s like a fil-rouge that characterizes the album: this is more evident in the most synth-wave oriented songs like Reset and Ever Now but, in different measures, it’s present almost everywhere.


Last, but not least, we can really enjoy a lot of different ideas in the LP. The ten tracks Hyperion of are basically divided into two main categories: a group of structured “songs”, which typically see the presence of a vocalist, and another group of instrumental pieces, typically shorter and more immediate, which develop around a single musical element and elaborate on it both rhythmically and musically.

Gesaffelstein’s new record is definitely one of the best electronic albums we could enjoy so far in 2019, My rating for the LP is 8/10 and there are really many good songs that I can recommend, including Blast Off, Reset, Vortex and the long. poignant and exciting instrumental track Humanity Gone, which closes the record.



Hyperion is available for streaming on Spotify and it’s now featured also in The ELECTRONIC MUSIC Radar, the growing playlist which contains a selection of the best electronic songs that have been released in 2019.


The ELECTRONIC MUSIC Radar (Episode #1/2019)

I’m starting with this article a periodical review of the most important releases for electronic music. Given the wide range of sub-genres that are included in this category, expect to find a selection of heterogeneous styles and approaches to music. All of the albums that are mentioned in this digest, however, are characterized by something unique and particularly interesting, which made the LP stand out from the mass.

This first episode features five albums that were selected among those released in the first two weeks of the year.

As far as geography is concerned, we have one band from Australia (Two People), one from South Africa (Yugen Blakrok), and three from England (Funky DL, Teeth of the Sea and Ladytron).

Enjoy the article and stay tuned for the future episodes of the Electronic Music radar!



“First Body”, by Two People

If someone asked me which was the most original and intriguing electronic release of the first months of 2019, I would have no doubts. And the fact that I’m talking of a debut LP is still more exciting. My answer, in fact, would be First Body, the debut full-length album from Phoebe Lou and Joey Clough, a duo of Australian musicians that work under the name of Two People.

First Body provides the listeners with a special kind of electronic music that gently moves towards dreamy pop, whilst still maintaining a sense of suspension and fragility. And despite it was conceived and recorded by following a strict DIY approach, from a sonic perspective the LP is impressive and extremely rewarding. Lou and Clough have found the perfect balance between intimacy, elegance, and obscurity.

This is maybe the softer electronic music that we will hear in while, but it’s absolutely enjoyable and, as I said, it’s really one of the best things I encountered so far. You can go here and read my review of the album.



“Dennison Point Instrumentals”, by Funky DL

Another interesting and fairly experimental record that we could enjoy in the first months of the year was released by the English artist Funky DL. The LP, called Dennison Point Instrumentals, was conceived over the simple but effective idea to manipulate Funky DL’s recent record Dennison Point by removing the vocals and retouching some of the original breaks and backing choruses.

The result is a style of electronic music that’s quite eclectic and original. Many call it trivially as “instrumental hip hop”, but the reality is that Dennison Point Instrumentals sits on the border between electronic and jazz music, and it contains really many elements of interest.

As a matter of fact, the changes operated onto the original material, together with the removal of the vocal lines, made this LP to acquire a value and a musical “sense” that are completely separated from the starting album. Magically, the apparently simple operation that was conducted by Funky DL allowed his music to overcome the static boundaries between genres and, at the same time, to give new life to his songs. Brilliant.



“Anima Mysterium”, by Yugen Blakrok

Being this one a blog that has never explored in depth the world of hip hop, it may seem curious enough to find in this article, one after another, two exponents of this genre of music. But when you come across an interesting and hypnotic record like Anima Mysterium by South African rapper Yugen Blakrok, you can not remain indifferent.

The beats and the lyrics that animate the 12 tracks of the album are mesmerizing, suggestive and deeply immersive. You’ll find yourself moving at the pulsating rhythm of the songs, while the mind is captured by the intriguing spoken rhymes, which typically accentuate the cadence of the drums creating a unique and homogeneous flow of impressive beauty.

I’ve published a dedicated review of the LP, you can read it from here.



“Wraith”, by Teeth Of The Sea

Wraith, which is the fifth LP from the London experimental trio named Teeth Of The Sea, is one of the most unclassifiable albums among those that were released so far in 2019. On the other hand, even the description that the three musicians give of their music doesn’t help us so much: “Taking on board influences like Morricone, Eno, Delia Derbyshire, Goblins, and the Butthole Surfers, we have arrived at an incendiary sound that marries the aural enlightenment of an avant-garde sensibility with the reckless abandon of trashy rock & roll“.

This description may sound a bit too convoluted, but certainly, the songs of Wraith present really many different components: there is a base of electronic music, but also psychedelic rock, jazz, noise and flashes of metal. What really matters, though, is that the band has developed a very beautiful, particular and extremely original style music.

I have published a dedicated review of the LP, you can find here some more details about this impressive record.



“Ladytron”, by Ladytron

I’m very happy to conclude this first digest about electronic music with one of my favourite bands of all time. Ladytron, from Liverpool, had really left a deep mark in the electronic scene of the early 2000s, but then they slowly came out of the radar. This year the band interrupts a hiatus of 8 years and they’re back with a new album, the sixth full-length record of their discography, which is named as the band.

Ladytron won’t become the most significant LP of the band’s career, but it’s, in any case, an appreciated comeback from a group of musicians who wrote one of the most important pages in the history of UK’s electronic music.

I’ve published a dedicated review of the LP, you can read it from here.



I’m collecting the best songs of the year in a dedicated playlist, called THE ELECTRONIC MUSIC RADAR. It features a compilation of songs taken from the albums that were mentioned above, and it’s going to grow with time as soon as new good tracks will be released and selected.


Quick Review: “Ladytron” by Ladytron

I remember very well that many years ago I was definitely a fan of Ladytron’s music, but every time I checked with my acquaintances it seemed that, at least in my circle of contacts, I was the only one to know this band. This is just to say that in my opinion, these guys from Liverpool have never achieved the success and popularity that they deserved, at least outside the boundaries of the English electronic scene. As a matter of fact, their music has always been truly original and unique: not only they crafted a brilliant mix of many different styles of electronic music (electro-pop, synth-pop, EDM, darkwave) but they also managed to give to it a nice retro feeling.

Year after year, I slowly lost sight of the band and, to be honest, I was fairly surprised when I discovered that they were still active and that there was a new record on the shelves. Investigating a little deeper I realized that it was not just my fault if I lost track of Ladytron since the band had effectively entered a period of hiatus after their 2011’s album Gravity the Seducer. Their new LP, which is named after the band, basically signs their official comeback after many years of silence.


For everyone who was already a fan of Ladytron’s music, the new album doesn’t bring any dramatic change or surprise, if not perhaps for the fact that the atmospheres are, at times, a little gloomier than what we had in Gravity the Seducer. In this respect, Ladytron may appear at first sight as closer to the early works of the band rather than what they were playing before the hiatus. At the same time, however, the new songs lack the impetuousness and abrasiveness that characterized the first phase of their career. This is compensated by an increased maturity of style, and an overall sense of elegance that clearly reflects the fact that in these years the musicians have grown, not only musically.

For those who don’t know the band or missed their golden age, which for me is the period included between 2002’s Light & Magic and 2005’s Witching Hour, it’s sufficient to know that this music is absolutely different from anything you heard until today: a fascinating interpretation of electro-pop which mixes delicacy and aggression, angelic voices and engaging rhythms.

Ladytron is not the best LP of the band’s discography, but it’s still an appreciated comeback from a group of musicians who wrote an important page in the history of UK’s electronic music.

My overall rating for the LP is 7/10. In my opinion, the LP suffers the unbalance between the most beautiful songs (Deadzone, The Animals, The Island, Far From Home), and those tracks which seem less effective and particular.


Ladytron is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.



Songs from Ladytron are featured in ELECTRO POP (the playlist with the best electro-pop songs of the last couple of years) and also in The ELECTRONIC MUSIC Radar, which is the selection of the best electronics songs released in 2019. Enjoy!



CREEPY NIGHTS – The Mixtape (an Horror Synthwave Compilation by Guerino)

Inspired by a good bunch of synthwave albums that have been released this year I decided to realize this short mixtape dedicated to the world of horror movies. How many references will you discover?

The compilation features 7 songs from the best synthwave artists that released an album in 2018: Carpenter Brut, Mlada Fronta, Gunship and MASTER BOOT RECORD. Full tracklist can be accessed through the widget. Enjoy the mixtape, and don’t forget to leave a light on tonight.


 

Quick Review: “Virus.DOS” by MASTER BOOT RECORD

The best description I’ve read so far for MASTER BOOT RECORD is the one I came across on Bandcamp Daily earlier this year on the occasion of another release from the same artist:

“If Yngwie Malmsteen had grown up with computers instead of guitars, MASTER BOOT RECORD’s synthesis of chiptune and baroque metal might not be such a wonder.”

As a matter of fact the music produced by this mysterious Italian electronic artist is so baroque, mannerist but at the same time damnably enjoyable as the one played by the talented Swedish guitarist. And just how it happens when I listen to Malmsteen’s neoclassical metal music, I can get excited by one or two songs, but after the maximum timeframe of ten minutes I need to take a break and recover from the thousands of notes, the endless scales and the baroque melodies that were projected into my hears.

 

 

Virus.DOS, the new album released by MASTER BOOT RECORD, shows however some sign of evolution from the previous releases (I would say “improvements”) and if we compare this record to the others published in the last couple of years, we may appreciate an enhanced compactness and consistency of the music which results, in the end, in an enhanced overall enjoyability of the album, which I eventually managed to listen in a single run, from the beginning to end, that’s something I never succeeded in the past.

For those who’re not familiar with MASTER BOOT RECORD, this is in a few words a musical project conceived as the artificial generation of synthwave baroque music through a simple 486 PC processor chiptune (the one that I used when I was a teenager, which gives me clear hints about the age of the author). MASTER BOOT RECORD describes himself as “a 486DX-33MHz-64MB processing avant-garde chiptune, synthesized heavy metal & classical symphonic music. 100% Synthesized, 100% Dehumanized.” Another way which is often used to characterize MASTER BOOT RECORD’s style of music is “metal made with synths“, and this description is even more adherent to the feeling you get when listening to his tracks. It ‘s heavy, obsessive, rhythmic and overwhelming as only the best metal albums can be, with the crucial difference that everything you hear are synthesized electronic sounds and simple but effective electric drums.

 

 

The music in Virus.DOS is in many sections extremely melodic and it’s deeply inspired by those baroque harmonies that are so appreciated by many other synthwave musicians. Most of the songs, however, convey a sense of profound desperation, like being dragged down, inexorably, by a flooding river of notes. As already said, such improved stylistic coherence makes the album – maybe for the first time – valid even as a complete work, beyond the qualities of the individual pieces.

I don’t belong to that family of fans (or cult) who get excited at each new release by MASTER BOOT RECORD, which are indeed really numerous: someone has counted 19 albums in just two years. However, I must admit that this specific album, among all of those I listened from the author, managed to capture my attention thanks to the enjoyability of the songs and the efficacy of the musical impact, which is at times out of the ordinary.

I still prefer different and more sophisticated approaches to electronic music, but it’s evident to everyone that MASTER BOOT RECORD has created, in just a few years, a signature style which is at the same time unique and easily recognizable, something that only few artists have managed to achieve even after many more years of musical career.

Virus.DOS is available on Bandcamp and can be streamed also from Spotify.

My highlights: Mars and Walker.

 

 


 

Quick Review: “Dark All Day” by Gunship

When you come across to an album that’so deeply impregnated with the musical and cinematographic culture of the 80s, as it is the case of Gunship‘s Dark All Day, your feelings cannot be anything but contrasted. For those who lived their teenage phase in that period of time (like me) it’s both funny and fascinating to experience this journey into retro-synth atmospheres, cyber punk landscaspes and many other references from music, video-games and comics. On the other hand, the experience of travelling back in time remains interesting and valid as long as it’s supported by cool ideas and engaging motifs, otherwise it easily becomes flat and monotonous. In this respect, Dark All Day places exactly in the middle: some of the tracks of the LP are brilliant. exciting and even surprisingly “modern”, despite the adoption of vintage instruments and dynamics. Other songs of the album, on the other hand, are definitely less convincing and this is where, unfortunately, the form seems to prevail over the substance.

 

 
Gunship is a musical project launched in 2010 by a number of fascinating figures of the UK underground scene. Dan Haigh, in particular, has always demonstrated to be a visionary artist and this band is only one of the many initiatives in which he’ve been involved so far (among these we include the production of soundtracks, video games, music videos and film trailers).

 

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In this sense, the particular musical direction that Haigh and his fellow companions have given to Gunship seems genuine and it generally goes beyond a mere exercise in style, or the manieristic celebration of the 80s. As I said, however, the operation of transposing to modern canons the atmospheres of John Carpenter’s movies and cyberpunk novels necessitates of more than just a bunch of very good songs. In this respect, the operation carried out by Gunship can not be still considered one hundred percent successful.

Dark All Day is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

Highlights: When You Grow Up Your Heart Dies, Thrasher, and the title track Dark All Day.

 


 

BEST ELECTRONIC MUSIC OF 2018 (Episode 2: from January to September)

Here we are again talking about the best electronic music albums of the year. With respect to the first episode which was published on last April, the list has expanded and it now features ten albums. The first two positions of the chart remains unchanged, but there are interesting new entries in the other positions on the list.

Arrived at this point of the year, the following collection of records represents a good summary of the state of electronic music in 2018 and we must say that the one which emerges is an extremely positive picture: there are young artists entering the scene with innovative and experimental works but also already established artists that demonstrate to have still the willingness and the curiosity to experiment new expressive languages.

Let’s see which are the ten best electronic albums of 2018 so far. An in the time which remains until the end of the year we’ll discover if there are new albums which will contend the place to those who are today in the chart. In this respect, if you arrived here through a search engine, please check in the electronic section of the blog if there is any update of the list. Enjoy!

 


 

#1) SKYGGE, “Hello World”

(Electro Pop)

 

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Benoit Carré is a French singer, composer, musician and actor. He has written songs for some of France’s biggest stars, and in the recent times he collaborated with Sony’s Computer Science Laboratories in Paris to produce the pioneering album “Hello World”, which he released under the pseudonym of SKYGGE (“Shadow” in Danish)

Hello World, the experimental work by SKYGGE, was fully reviewed in a dedicated post when the album entered the Best New Music section of the blog. The album is the result of a research project in which scientists were looking for algorithms to capture and reproduce the concept of musical “style”. After a number of initial prototypes, a first group of electronic music artists joined the research team and at some point they took control of the process, and the scientific project became a music project. These artists were invited and coordinated by Benoit Carré (aka SKYGGE) and their work became the beautiful Hello World.

The album is based on the idea to feed computer machines with sounds and melodies selected by every artist as input. Deep learning algorithms are then applied in order to allow the artificial intelligence module to elaborate and refine musical elements that are stylistically similar to the initial ones, but “new”.

 From a musical point of view, the album is strongly influenced by European electronic music and in the end it results in an excellent collection of modern and forward thinking electronic tracks. And it’s not by chance that after many months, the album is still a the top of the electronic chart.


 

#2) Jenny Wilson, “Exorcism”

(Electro Pop, Art Pop)

 

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Jenny Wilson is a Swedish singer-songwriter. She founded and played with First Floor Power until 2004, when she left the band to go solo. Since then she has released five LPs.

Exorcism, which is the fifth and newest LP released by Swedish Pop artist Jenny Wilson, tells in music the terrible story of a sexual assault that the songwriter experienced a few years ago while clubbing. This element by itself could guarantee for the album a deeper element of analysis and interpretation with respect to the typical electro-pop album, but the reality is that the feelings of tension, disturbance and anguish that are spread all-over the tracks of the record are evident and may be perceived even by the casual listener who doesn’t know the full story which is behind the album.

The artist, however, managed to tell her painful story without ever making the music monotonous, didascalic and depressing. On the contrary, Exorcism features a collection of extremely interesting, varied and intriguing songs that disseminate their load of insecurity and alienation in an absolutely subtle way and, because of that, the result is extremely sharp and effective.


 

#3) Floex and Tom Hodge, “Portrait of John Doe”

(Experimental, Modern Classical)

 

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Tom Hodge‘s collaborative relationship with Czech producer Tomas Dvorak, a.k.a Floex, began with a chance meeting in Berlin. After a series of initial experiments in making music together, H0dge and Floex have been working on A Portrait of John Doe, an album collaboration created with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Tomáš Dvořák is a composer and graphic artist from Czech Republic who works under the moniker of Floex. Despite his relatively young age, Dvořák’s discography is already rich of a good number of interesting albums where he blends together heterogeneous genres like classical music, electronic and jazz, showing great technique and a notable musical sensibility, Three years ago Dvořák started a collaboration with English composer and musician Tom Hodge and their efforts resulted in the release of Portrait of John Doe, recorded with support of the renowned Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Portrait of John Doe is an incredible album. It has unique and extravagant arrangements, it’s conceptual and “forward thinking”, but, most important, it’s absolutely nice and joyful to listen. To some extent, I feel it’s destined to leave a strong mark in the experimental and avant-gard electronic music scene. The album is filled with many hints and references from modern classical music. There are clear hints and references to both the orchestral and electronic works by Philip Glass, and we have rarified and haunting atmospheres like those we find in some of the works of Bela Bartok and Dmitrij Šostakovič.

Portrait of John Doe is an ambitious record that was done very well, plenty of surprises and absolutely innovative. This music is really different from everything you’ve heard in the recent times and it really deserves the time (and the effort) that are necessary to enjoy its crystalline beauty without too many distractions and interruptions.


 

#4) Go Dugong, “Curaro”

(World and Cosmic Electronic)

 

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Go Dugong is the solo-project of italian electronic producer, Dj and graphic artist Giulio Fonseca.

Electronic music, together with Jazz, is pheraps one of the genres of music that is intrinsically more open to the idea of fusing together different influences and styles. And practically every year I happen to listen to a record that succeeds, more than any other, to amaze me for the originality with which different musical elements are combined together in such a natural and fluid way that the final result is something new and exciting, and much more than the mere superimposition of the original building blocks.

Last year I felt this with Shikantanza, the beautiful album by French electronic collective Chinese Man. In 2018, the moment of wonder and revelation occurred when I launched in my music player the first songs of Curaro, i.e. the new album by Go Dugong, which is the solo-project of the Italian electronic producer Giulio Fonseca. I didn’t know what to expect at first and I was absolutely surprised to hear such a masterful blending of chillout, trip hop, sensual dub, world music, dance beats, tribal sounds and ethnological field recordings.

Curaro is really one of those records that is made to let your mind travel into distant worlds and remote enivornments, but conceived and performed by having in mind a clear and winning characteristic: the absolute enjoyability of the single tracks.


 

#5) Carpenter Brut, “Leatherwave”

(Synthwave)

 

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Franck Hueso, better known by his stage name Carpenter Brut, is a French synthwave artist from Poitiers. He started writing music as Carpenter Brut with the intention of mixing sounds from horror films, metal, rock, and electronic music

The world of music is plenty of cases of metalheads that at some point diverted their attention to electronic music. As a matter of fact, metal and electronic share many elements in common and although it is not just as easy as to replace guitars with synthesizers, the transition from one genre to the other has been experienced many times, typically from metal to electronic and in a few cases in the opposite direction. Last year, just to give an example, we celebrated the beautiful last album by Ulver: they started as a black metal band and arrived to produce one of the best synth-pop albums ever released.

Franck Hueso, better known by his stage name Carpenter Brut, is another artist that at some point in time moved away from heavy metal in order to pursue a career in electronic muisc. After a number of EPs and one live record he eventually released his debut full-lenght album, Leather Teeth, which offers to the listener a curious but intriguing old-fashioned kind of synthwave.

The LP is very particular: initially it may leave you a little perplexed because the use of the typical sounds and instruments from the 80s is so blatant and pervasive than the album seems a little anachronistic. After the initial impact, however, we’re captured by the melodies and the nice rhythms of the songs, which are sometimes frenetic and other times more relaxed. The fastest songs are the ones I liked the most, but in general the whole album is definitely interesting and enjoyable, as well as curious and fun.


 

#6) Justice, “Woman Worldwide”

(Alternative Dance, Nu Dance, Electronic Rock)

 

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Justice is a French electronic music duo consisting of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay. known for incorporating a strong rock and indie influence into its music and image.

Justice have taken the good habit of publishing a live record after each studio album and this year, after the conclusion of the Woman World Wide tour, which promoted the release of their 2016’s studio album Woman, the band as published a new live album, called Woman Worldwide (or WWW).

This live album is fantastic in the sense that it mixes in a exciting and always surprising way all the hits that the band has released so far in their career, and the mixes are so good that most of the songs seem even better than their original versions. Predictably the songs of their early works prevail definitely on the others. Justice early works shine with a special light of beauty and as a matter of fact, by mixing together old and new songs, the latter gain in beauty and look much more enjoyable that their corresponding studio versions.

All of Justice’s live LPs, including the most recent one, provide us with an opportunity to enjoy a beautiful and exciting ride into electronic music. They also make me think about what this band could have become without the desire of producing that sort of electronic vintage rock style which has eventually anesthetized their music in recent years.


 

#7) Pola Rise, “Anywhere But Here”

(Electro Pop)

 

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Polish singer and composer Paulina Miłosz, working under the pseudonym of Pola Rise, appeared for the first time musically in 2014. Since then she has performed with various artists and in 1038 she released her first solo album, “Anywhere But Here“.

Anywhere But Here is the debut album from a new electro pop artist from Poland, Paulina Miłosz, who operates under the stage name of Pola Rise. She published a number of singles from 2014 and eventually got a record deal with Warner Music Poland, which supported the publication of her full lenght work.

Her style of electronic music oscillates between pieces of clear experimental nature with notes of avant-garde, and more delicate and catchy songs, which in my opnion are also the ones that better highlight the qualities of this young artist. Anywhere But Here is particularly interesting because of the way in which it is able to give that “indie” feeling to a set of songs that, in their essence, result quite linear and without any particular dynamic development.

The album offers the listener a nice collection of musical sketches, interesting and enjoyable to hear, gifted by a “light” touch make them the perfect companion for many moments of our days.


 

#8) Ryuichi Sakamoto, “Async-Remodels”

(Experimental)

 

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Ryuichi Sakamoto is a Japanese musician, singer, composer and record producer, based in Tokyo and New York. In 2017 the artist released is nineteenth solo studio album, “async“, which became the source of inspiration for the remix album “async – remodels

My relationship with remix albums is generally positive, especially when there is a collection of pieces that manages to be appreciated even without the prior knowledge of the original material. Async Remodels belongs for sure to this category of albums: it collects the work of a group of talented electronic artists who took the challenge to confront themselves with the complex and profound songs of Ryuchi Sakamoto‘s latest solo LP, Async, released in 2017.

The idea to manipulate and alter the music of a legend of music like Sakamoto offers many possibilities, but it also exposes to big risks. To make this even more complicated, it’s important to remember that most of the tracks of Sakamoto’s last work were the result of a profound analysis that the Japanese artist made about the meaning of music: these songs were in fact the product of a conceptual exercise aimed at measuring the boundaries between the organic and the synthetic elements of music.

Listening to the remixes included Async Remodels we must recognize that many of the artists who were called to contribute not only accepted the challenge but they managed, in most of the cases, to give their personal contribution to Sakamoto’s analysis and, sometimes, they enriched the songs with new and original elements. In this respect there are some tracks of the album, such as those by Alva Noto, Electric Youth and Jóhann Jóhannsson (R.I.P.), which are evidently a step higher than the others. In the end, however, it’s the average level of the record that’s very good, making the LP one of the most interesting things happened this year in electronic music.


 

#9) Moby, “Everything Was Beautiful And Nothing Hurt”

(Trip Hop)

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Richard Melville Hall, better known by his stage name Moby, became in the 90’s one of the most important dance music figures worldwide, helping bring the music to a mainstream audience both in the UK and in America. “Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt” is Moby’s fifteenth studio album.

In more than 25 years of career, American musician and producer Moby has explored different regions of the electronic world, from ambient to dance, with also a few episodes where he engaged with punk and rock (and his most recent rock releases may be also downloaded for free). But beyond the willingness to face different musical challenges, in all of these explorations Moby has always tried to give his own special contribution to the different genres he was playing with.

Moby’s latest album, Everything Was Beautiful And Nothing Hurt, is clearly inspired by the sounds and dynamics of trip-hop, and the result is definitely good. As a matter of fact, Moby has enriched the relative ease of listening of trip-hop with a special dedication to songwriting and a great attention to the details.

The album in its entirety results in equal parts enjoyable and interesting to listen to, there are no evident missteps and the music, in the end, is both familiar and original. On the negative side the LP missing a really memorable song, one of those tracks with an unforgettable line and chorus. It is no coincidence, thus, that the most catchy refrain is that of the song Like A Motherless Child, which is based on a popular tunes from the past.


 

#10) tUnE-YaRds, “I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life”

(Experimental, Electro Pop)

 

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Singer and percussionist Merrill Garbus and bassist Nate Brenner are today the two permanent members of tUnE-yArDs, an art pop project which has arrived to the fourth LP of an interesting discography.

Merrill Garbus, the US singer and songwriter who operates under the moniker of tUnE-YaRdS, never showed so far any lack of creativity and inventiveness. Indeed, from the beginning of her career she has maintained a minimalist approach to the choice of instruments and music styles almost as if she had the fear of covering, with an excess of effects and instruments, the essence of the motives and the ideas she was transforming into music. And even if this approach maybe precluded the largest audiences, i.e. those that are typically less corageous and less prepared to go beyond those well-established and conventional musical styles, she has still managed however to leave her mark within the indie scene of the last decade.

tUnE-YaRdS’ last album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, sees longtime collaborator Nate Brenner become an official member of the project, with the duo confirming more or less the same approach of Garbus’ previous releases. Electronic hypnotic beats remain in fact the baseline over which we enjoy Garbus’ eclectic and thrilling vocal lines. The musical performance is not always up to the experimental ambitions of the duo, but where the desire to explore manages to find an adequate sonic vehicle, their songs can offer a very pleasant escape from the monotony of our routines.


 

BEST ELECTRO POP OF 2018 (Episode 2, July 2018)

Now that we are at the height of summer it’s time to refresh our charts with the best albums of the year. Today we speak of the glittering world of electro pop; here we could enjoy a couple of new interesting entries after the first episode that was published a few months ago.

Let’s discover the updated list of the best electro pop albums of 2018. And, as usual, you’ll find at the end of the article the link to my Electro Pop playlist on Spotify.


 

#1) “HELLO WORLD” by SKYGGE

 

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Benoit Carré is a French singer, composer, musician and actor. He has written songs for some of France’s biggest stars, and in the recent times he collaborated with Sony’s Computer Science Laboratories in Paris to produce the pioneering album “Hello World”, which he released under the pseudonym of SKYGGE (“Shadow” in Danish)

Hello World, the experimental work by SKYGGE, was fully reviewed in a dedicated post when the album entered the Best New Music section of the blog. The album is the result of a research project in which scientists were looking for algorithms to capture and reproduce the concept of musical “style”. After a number of initial prototypes, a first group of electronic music artists joined the research team and at some point they took control of the process, and the scientific project became a music project. These artists were invited and coordinated by Benoit Carré (aka SKYGGE) and their work became the beautiful Hello World. The album is based on the idea to feed computer machines with sounds and melodies selected by every artist as input. Deep learning algorithms are then applied in order to allow the artificial intelligence module to elaborate and refine musical elements that are stylistically similar to the initial ones, but “new”.  From a musical point of view, the album is strongly influenced by European electronic music and in the end it results in an excellent collection of modern and forward thinking electronic tracks. And it’s not by chance that after many months, the album is still a the top of the electro pop chart.


 

#2) “EXORCISM” by Jenny Wilson

 

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Jenny Wilson is a Swedish singer-songwriter. She founded and played with First Floor Power until 2004, when she left the band to go solo. Since then she has released five LPs.

Exorcism, which is the fifth and newest LP released by Swedish Pop artist Jenny Wilson, tells in music the terrible story of a sexual assault that the songwriter experienced a few years ago while clubbing. This element by itself could guarantee for the album a deeper element of analysis and interpretation with respect to the typical electro-pop album, but the reality is that the feelings of tension, disturbance and anguish that are spread all-over the tracks of the record are evident and may be perceived even by the casual listener who doesn’t know the full story which is behind the album. The artist, however, managed to tell her painful story without ever making the music monotonous, didascalic and depressing. On the contrary, Exorcism features a collection of extremely interesting, varied and intriguing songs that disseminate their load of insecurity and alienation in an absolutely subtle way and, because of that, the result is extremely sharp and effective.


 

#3) “ANYWHERE BUT HERE” by Pola Rise

 

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Polish singer and composer Pola Rise Paulina Miłosz, working under the pseudonym of Pola Rise, appeared for the first time musically in 2014. Since then she has performed with various artists and in 1038 she released her first solo album, “Anywhere But Here”.

Anywhere But Here is the debut album from a new electro pop artist from Poland, Paulina Miłosz, who operates under the stage name of Pola Rise. She published a number of singles from 2014 and eventually got a record deal with Warner Music Poland, which supported the publication of her full lenght work. Her style of electronic music oscillates between pieces of clear experimental nature with notes of avant-garde, and more delicate and catchy songs, which in my opnion are also the ones that better highlight the qualities of this young artist. Anywhere But Here is particularly interesting because of the way in which it is able to give that “indie” feeling to a set of songs that, in their essence, result quite linear and without any particular dynamic development. The album offers the listener a nice collection of musical sketches, interesting and enjoyable to hear, gifted by a “light” touch make them the perfect companion for many moments of our days.


 

#4) “I CAN FEEL YOU CREEP INTO MY PRIVATE LIFE” by tUnE-YaRdS

 

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tUnE-yArDs is the music project of New England native Merrill Garbus and bassist Nate Brenner. tUnE-yArDs have released this year the fourth LP, which interrupts a period of 4 years since their previous full-lenght work.

Merrill Garbus, the US singer and songwriter who operates under the moniker of tUnE-YaRdS, never showed so far any lack of creativity and inventiveness. Indeed, from the beginning of her career she has maintained a minimalist approach to the choice of instruments and music styles almost as if she had the fear of covering, with an excess of effects and instruments, the essence of the motifs and the ideas which she was transforming into music. And if this approach may have precluded her the largest audiences, she still managed to leave her mark within the indie scene of the last decade. In tUnE-YaRdS‘ last album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, longtime collaborator Nate Brenner has become an official member of the project, and the duo confirms more or less the same approach of Garbus’ previous releases. Electronic hypnotic beats remain in fact the baseline over which we enjoy Garbus’ eclectic and thrilling vocal lines. The musical performance is not always up to the experimental ambitions of the duo, but where their desire to explore new paths for music manages to find an adequate sonic vehicle, their songs succeed in offering us a very pleasant escape from the monotony of our routines.


 

#5) “BORN BACKWARDS” by Sequin

 

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Since 2013 Sequin has become the solo project of Portuguese singer Ana Miró. Her first album “Penelope” was released in April 2014. In 2018 Sequin released “Born Backwards”, her sophomore album, produced by Xinobi.

Sequin is the solo project of Ana Miró, a Portuguese singer and electronic producer who has been also the lead vocalist for other two music projects (Jibóia and Heats). In Sequin’s bandcamp page the music composed by Ana Miró is desdribed as “electro pop” and “naive electro”. I believe however that these tags, by themselves, don’t reflect in full the special feeling that emerges from the delicate and intriguing songs of Born Backwards, which is the second album of original songs from Miró, after her debut work Penelope. The sytle of Sequin may be described as a minimalistic version of Bat For Lashes, with evident influences from both pop and club music. The most relevant characteristic of the album is for sure the warm and engaging voice of Ana Miró, who gives depth and charm to the simple and catchy electronic rhythms of her songs.


 

If you liked this article, you will for sure enjoy “ELECTRO POP“, the playlist I created on Spotify with the best and latest Electro Pop, Synth Pop, and Indie Electronic. Follow it, enjoy it, and spread the word!

 

 


 

 

 

 

THE BEST ELECTRONIC MUSIC OF 2018 (so far), April 2018

This blog has been relatively silent for a few weeks, let’s now come back to a more regular production of charts, reviews, playlists and mixtapes!

The first quarter of the year has now passed and we can start having some solid charts with the best releases for each genre. Today I’m going to present you the best Electronic albums that were released in the first three months of the year. And it’s quite interesting to realize that one third of the selected LPs are debut works from two relatively young artists. The list is then completed by a the new work by a veteran of Electronic music, a remix album, an experimental duo of art pop musicians and, last bat not least, the first electronic album produced with the contribution of artificial intelligence.  Not bad, you just have to read and listen!

For everyone who arrived here through a search engine, please consider that this list was published on April 2018 and there may be newer charts available in the Electronic section of the blog. Enjoy!


 

#1) Hello World by SKYGGE

(Electro Pop)

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Benoit Carré, the French pop musician best known as SKYGGE, has led a group of electronic artists to realize “Hello World”, the first album composed with the contribution of artificial intelligence

Introduced as the first mainstream music album composed with artificial intelligence, Hello World tells the story of a group of electronic music artists guided by French pop artist Benoit Carré (also know as SKYGGE) who joined a research project in which scientists were looking for algorithms to capture and reproduce the concept of musical “style”. The result of this effort is a collection of 15 electronic songs which, well beyond the experimental concept that lies behind, are absolutely interesting and pleasing to listen to.

From a musical point of view, the album is strongly influenced by European electronic music and it is easy to recognize in many songs the contributio from well known artists such as Stromae, the Belgian DJ and producer who’s got public attention in the last ten years ago with a number of catchy electronic songs. Thanks to the contributions of so many artists and thanks to this innovation given by artificial intelligence, the LP is gifted by an impressive variety and freshness of the songs and, in the end, it’s definitely a solid and intriguing collection of modern, catchy but also forward thinking electronic tracks.

Here in this blog, Hello World was also included in the higly regarded category of the Best New Music.


 

#2) Leather Teeth by CARPENTER BRUT

(Shyntwave)

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French electronic music artist Franck Hueso, better known by his stage name Carpenter Brut. To date he has released three EPs and, in 2018, the original album “Leather Teeth”, which is his debut LP.

The world of music is plenty of cases of metalheads that at some point diverted their attention to electronic music. As a matter of fact, metal and electronic share many elements in common and although it is not just as easy as to replace guitars with synthesizers, the transition from one genre to the other has been experience many times, typically from metal to electronic and in a few cases in the opposite direction. Last year, just to give an example, we celebrated the beautiful last album by Ulver: they started as a black metal band and arrived to produce one of the best synth-pop albums ever released.

Franck Hueso, better known by his stage name Carpenter Brut, is another artist that at some point in time left his passion for heavy metal and started producing an intriguing and old-fashioned version of synthwave. After a number of EPs and one live record he eventually released his debut full-lenght album, Leather Teeth.

The LP is very particular, initially it may leave you bewildered by the use – so blatant and pervasive to be almost anachronistic – of the typical sounds and instruments from the 80s. After this initial impact, however, we’re captured by the melodies and the nice rhythms of the songs, sometimes frenetic and other times more relaxed. The fastest songs are the ones I liked the most, but in general the whole album is definitely interesting and enjoyable, as well as curious and fun.


 

#3) Anywhere But Here by POLA RISE

(Electro Pop)

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Paulina Miłosz, the Poland Electronic artist better know with her stage name Pola Rise. She published in 2018 her first debut LP, “Anywhere But Here”.

Anywhere But Here is the debut album from a new electro pop artist from Poland, Paulina Miłosz, who operates under the stage name of Pola Rise. Since 2015 she started releasing a number of singles and eventually got a record deal with Warner Music Poland, which supported the publication of her full lenght work.

Pola Rise’s style of electronic music oscillates between pieces of clear experimental, nature with notes of avant-garde and improvisation, and more delicate and catchy songs, which in my opnion are also the ones that better highlight the qualities of this young artist. This album is particularly interesting because of the way in which it is able to give that “indie” feeling to songs that, in their essence, result quite linear and without any particular dynamic development. These are musical sketches, interesting and somehowe engaging, and composed with a light touch that manage to make them very easy to enjoy but, at the same time, destined to leave impercettible traces after the listening.


 

#4) Async-Remodels by RYUICHI SAKAMOTO

(Experimental, Ambient)

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Japanese multi-faceted artist Ryuichi Sakamoto released in 2017 his nineteenth solo studio album, “async“. “Async Remodels” contains eleven reworks of async’s original tracks, composed and performed by producers such as Jóhann Jóhannsson, Alva Noto, Fennesz, Cornelius, Oneohtrix Point Never, Electric Youth, and Arca.

My relationship with remix albums is generally positive, especially when there is a collection of pieces that manages to be appreciated even without the prior knowledge of the original material. Async Remodels belongs for sure to this category of albums and in fact the LP presents the work of a group of very good artists who took the challenge to confront themselves with the complex and profound songs of Ryuchi Sakamoto‘s latest solo LP, Async, released in 2017.

The idea to manipulate and alter the music of a legend of music like Sakamoto offers many possibilities, but it also exposes to big risks. To make this even more complicated, it’s important to remember that most of the tracks of Sakamoto’s last work were the result of a profound analysis that the Japanese artist made about the meaning of music: these songs were in fact the product of a conceptual exercise aimed at measuring the boundaries between the organic and the synthetic elements of music.

Listening to the remixes included Async Remodels we must recognize that many of the artists who were called to contribute not only accepted the challenge but they managed, in most of the cases, to give their personal contribution to Sakamoto’s analysis and, sometimes, the enriched the songs with new and original elements. Some tracks, such as those by Alva Noto, Electric Youth and Jóhann Jóhannsson (R.I.P.), seem to be a step higher than others, but in the end it is the average level of the record that’s very positive, making the LP one of the most interesting things happened this year in electronic music.


 

#5) Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt by MOBY

(Trip Hop)

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Richard Melville Hall, better known by his stage name Moby, became in the 90’s one of the most important dance music figures worldwide, helping bring the music to a mainstream audience both in the UK and in America. “Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt” is Moby’s fifteenth studio album.

In more than 25 years of career, American musician and producer Moby has explored different regions of the electronic world, from ambient to dance, with also a few episodes where he engaged with punk and rock (and his most recent rock releases may be also downloaded for free). But beyond the willingness to face different musical challenges, in all of these explorations Moby has always tried to give his own special contribution to the different genres he was playing with. Moby’s latest album, Everything Was Beautiful And Nothing Hurt, is clearly inspired by the sounds and dynamics of trip-hop, and the result is definitely good.

As a matter of fact, Moby has enriched the relative ease of listening of trip-hop with a special dedication to songwriting and a great attention to the details. The album in its entirety results in equal parts enjoyable and interesting to listen to, there are no evident missteps and the music, in the end, is both familiar and original. On the negative side the LP missing a really memorable song, one of those tracks with an unforgettable line and chorus. It is no coincidence, thus, that the most catchy refrain is that of the song Like A Motherless Child, which is based on a popular tunes from the past.


 

#6)  I can feel you creep into my private life by tUnE-YaRdS

(Experimental, Electro Pop)

Tune Yards - 1300
Singer and percussionist Merrill Garbus and bassist Nate Brenner are today the two permanent members of tUnE-yArDs, an art pop project which has arrived to the fourth LP of an interesting discography

Merrill Garbus, the US singer and songwriter who operates under the moniker of tUnE-YaRdS, never showed so far any lack of creativity and inventiveness. Indeed, from the beginning of her career she has maintained a minimalist approach to the choice of instruments and music styles almost as if she had the fear of covering, with an excess of effects and instruments, the essence of the motives and the ideas she was transforming into music. And even if this approach maybe precluded the largest audiences, i.e. those that are typically less corageous and less prepared to go beyond those well-established and conventional musical styles, she has still managed however to leave her mark within the indie scene of the last decade.

tUnE-YaRdS’ last album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, sees longtime collaborator Nate Brenner become an official member of the project, with the duo confirming more or less the same approach of Garbus’ previous releases. Electronic hypnotic beats remain in fact the baseline over which we enjoy Garbus’ eclectic and thrilling vocal lines. The musical performance is not always up to the experimental ambitions of the duo, but where the desire to explore manages to find an adequate sonic vehicle, their songs can offer a very pleasant escape from the monotony of our routines.