Tag Archives: analog

mchtnchts – “.a….i….” [free download]

If you head over to onyudo.com right now you can download the first batch of analog noise from mchtnchts. The album is called “.a….i….,” which is good, or at least consistent because now both the album and artist names are rendered unpronounceable. But, worry not, the album still gives us plenty of stuff to talk about.

A few years ago mchtnchts released “The Spoiled West and its Freshly Minted Infants” on Already Dead Tapes.  That tape went the direction of a more desolate soundscape that aimed to completely redefine, or re-examine what musical expression could be using analog electronics.

“.a….i….” takes a similar approach, but at times uses older, tried and true forms for their musical expression. Opening track “…o..i.. ..i…e” is a riff on a simple gesture in repeated rhythm and contour. The simplicity of the sound components here is what is most striking to me. The clear buzz of the sawtooth wave alternating with an extremely high, clear sine tone effectively opens up the tessitura to create space for a broad, and varied tonal palette.

It’s the rhythmic elements here that hold most of the tracks together. A steady pulsing that grows and fades becomes the premise behind “.ui.i.e” The song, of course, like much of the rest of the album, is a steadily developing work. By its close we are in fairly ambient territory, with the pulsing becoming smoothed out to a dulled hum.

The sounds generated by mchtnchts approach the same realm as what can be heard across the work of Mincemeat or Tenspeed, whom I covered a few years back. Where Mincemeat or Tenspeed’s brand of electronic noise tends, at times, more toward thrash antagonism, mchtnchts prefers to work in subtleties.
Download mchtnchts’ “.a….i….” and “The Spoiled West and its Freshly Minted Infants”
“.a…i….” is available as a free download at onyudo, and their follow up, the even more spacious and noisy “The Spoiled West and its Freshly Minted Infants” is sold out in its physical form, but can still be downloaded from Already Dead Tapes here.

The duo is planning to release more music in the very near future, so keep an eye out. You can get updates from Kyle Bruckmann over at his website (and check out all the other great stuff that he’s doing).

The Snowfields – “How to Get Good Sound from a Dead Ear”

The Snowfields’ first release in 7 years comes out on Field Hymns today. That’s right, today. That should be all you need to know, because I find that there really is no way of going wrong with a Field Hymns release. But if you do need some more convincing, after listening to the track “Inner Peace has Jass Hands” above, then please read on.

I think the element that really sets this album apart from most of the analog synth stuff that I have heard recently is the guitar on this one. That is the element that really pulls me in. The Snowfields have really captured that “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” vibe, especially on tracks like “Inner Peace Has Jass Hands.” It’s kind of haunting, but also deeply affecting.  Imagine “Wish You Were Here”-era Pink Floyd mixed with more recent Boards of Canada.

“Diet Rainbow,” however is probably my favorite track on the album.  The guitar adds a particularly  emotional edge on this one, with a guitar tone that is perfect for cutting right through the synths to take center stage.  It really just creeps in there in the background, shimmering through the haze. That little guitar riff immediately brings to mind the opening motive of the song “Shame” from The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Adore” (their best album). The tone of a gently plucked guitar ringing through the distance under a few layers of synth. That one little detail really makes the track.

There are plenty of gems on here from the catchiness of the songs described above, to those that border on ambient like “Two Tone Emergency” and the slow, dramatic growth of “Golden Twilight.” All around, another really solid release from the good folks at Field Hymns.

The album is out now. Pick it up.

And while we’re at it, here are some other Field Hymn tapes that I recommend: Oxykitten, Black Unicorn, Cane Swords, Mattress.


Wume – “Maintain”

…and speaking of analog synth jams, here is another one, this time from Baltimore synth and drum duo Wume. The band has a new album out entitled “Maintain” on Ehse Records, also based in their hometown.

It’s difficult for me to quite put my finger on a genre that would best describe the jams on “Maintain.” Part Stereolab kraut-rock synths, part early Philip Glass, part psychedelic trance music, part Blade Runner soundtrack; it all depends on which element you’re focusing on at the time.

The buzzing analog synth square waves laid down by Albert Schatz loop, bounce, and layer, and occasionally float or drift in sustained ambience, all combining to create melody lines that dance across the audio field. That each track is averaging around 6 minutes in duration allows plenty of time for these ideas to slowly play out. The track “Voyager” finds the time to work through a complicated accumulation of sound before completely changing gears in the middle of it to try out some other catchy melodies.

Of course, I can’t fail to mention the drums. Bringing in complex meter changes and a jazz sensibility, April Camlin’s drumming really brings the sounds to life. Her rhythm is rock-solid, moving deftly from bare metronomic clicks in the background at the end of “Two Bridges,” or the simple (although, really not that simple for long) four-on-the-floor of “Gold Leaf” to subdued blast-beats of “Voyager.” (Yes, I said ‘subdued blast-beats. Listen to it, you’ll know what I’m talking about). Camlin works the entire kit, taking great pains to switch things up, moving through more timbres than I even knew were options as a drummer.

Check out the entire album above, and the video for “Ostinaut” below. The duo is currently on tour supporting fellow Baltimorian and synth aficionado Dan Deacon. “Maintain” is currently available on CD or vinyl direct from Ehse records.

Stream: Brett Naucke – “Luau”

When a song starts a particular way I start expecting certain things to happen. I can imagine exactly how the track is going to go, and unfair or not this is how I listen. But, I think that we all do that. We’re expecting, and as we listen we are providing ourselves with a set of parameters based upon what it is that we normally listen to. Within the first couple seconds of a track we have all sorts of information regarding timbre and tempo and genre, and we start to pare down the realm of possibilities for what we are hearing, basing our judgment of whether it is “good” or “bad” upon these expectations.

Now, with this track, “Luau,” I was definitely starting to expect a bit of an aleatoric, sound exploration. The way it begins just basically sets up this whole premise. The slow groan of the low frequency that is barely audible at the outset underneath squeaking, glitching, scattered electronic sounds. Those scattered squeaks sounds like something out of one of John Cage’s Imaginary Landscapes, but before very long everything begins to congeal, and what grows from these disparate sounds is more akin to IDM, perhaps calling to mind a proto-Autechre. An echoed voice comes into the mix which adds a nice extra layer and a depth to the structure.

The concluding gesture, a fade-out of sorts, occurs rather quickly, but hints at the congealed sounds’ dispersal, returning from where they came.

This track comes from Naucke’s 2nd LP, “Seed,” released by Spectrum Spools and is currently available for order from Forced Exposure. You can also check out Spectrum Spool’s Facebook page, and the Forced Exposure site (highly recommended) for more. You may also purchase the album as a download here.

New Release: Oxykitten – “Escape from New Amsterdam”

Oxykitten - "Escape from New Amsterdam"
Oxykitten – “Escape from New Amsterdam”

Another day, another new release from Portland’s Field Hymns recordings. When they sent out the notice for their new Fall 2013 releases I couldn’t resist either of them, so that’s the reason for the two in a row one day after the other deal.

Pretty much the stark opposite of the Mattress tracks that you may have heard here yesterday. Where Mattress is heavy, dense and dark, Oxykitten is buzzy, bright, and full of energy and motion. Portraying a purposeful anachronistic sound with analog synths that conjure images akin to Blade Runner, depicting a futurist film-noir ambience.

The press release reads “Recommended if you like: Dr. Octagon, Add N To X, minimal synth,” which of course I agree with, but I would also add to that list RJD2′s album that he did under the moniker The Insane Warrior, “We Are The Doorways.” A lot of the material on “Escape from New Amsterdam” create similar sounds, or at least work with similar timbres as The Insane Warrior’s album. All instrumental, buzzing saw-waves pulsating into focus and shooting from one direction to another, like some sort of 8-bit sunbeam.

Dance grooves are omnipresent, and a little hint at Boards of Canada shows up in “Beholding.” I guess, in short, if you are into analog synths, dance grooves, and catchy hooks this is definitely an album worth having.

Quick close: my favorite tracks are “Dick Ray,” “Springtime for the Dead,” and “40oz. Nipple.”

Do yourself a favor and pick this one up from Field Hymns right now. Follow the link below to check out 2 more tracks and to order the tape. And follow Field Hymns on twitter, because they are releasing a non-stop steady stream of awesome all the time, so don’t miss anything.