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Behind the layers of this glitch-hop motivated electronic music is a man named Edward Ma from Massachusetts, USA. Known as EdIT in the music world and also playing a part in the glitchy/hip-hop sounds of the electronic trio known as The Glitch Mob, the man started making music pre-2000s however gained much of his popularity through mashups and remixes in the years to come.

In 2004, u-Ziq’s Planet Mu released his solo debut album called Crying Over Pros for No Reason. Compared to his sophomore release of an album called Certified Air Raid Material, this record gravitates greatly towards the more downtempo side of glitch/hip-hop/glitch-hop, whatever-ya-want-to-call it type of music. Electronic music lovers who are familiar with the kind of sounds that Planet Mu releases will find out that they are in for a treat if they’re not familiar with No Reason.

It is an album that is clear was handled and produced with a lot of TLC and you can listen to these kind of characteristics grow if one takes the time to listen to his solo material. While downtempo sounds and glitchy electronics intersect each other often here, the record’s beatwork is also applied wonderfully. It feels natural, smooth, and spontaneous, which are traits that are really rewarding to discover in music like this.

Although Certified Air Raid Material is more well known than this album, this record very much remains as something that you should listen through. The spontaneous feeling sounds you hear in No Reason are amplified quite a bit in his next release, many tracks containing bold vocal layers and bassy backbones driving much of the album. In fact, most of the elements that very much describe No Reason are abandoned in this record favoring and taking on a more upbeat and forthcoming sound. While I certainly appreciate what Certified Air Raid Material contains, I absolutely cherish the more downtempo elements found within his debut release. It is kind of like a really good movie that doesn’t need a sequel.

Crying Over Pros for No Reason begins and ends elegantly – something to listen to when you want to disengage. Very much recommended from yours truly.

Read more about this album and artist at the following links:

Last.fm

Discogs

Planet Mu

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Planet Mu

Amazon

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Andy Stott's Luxury Problems

Hello! Yes, after just shy of a year, Clothes HQ is back. Honestly it’s a bit humbling to see such a loyal readership since the inception of this blog in 2009. I don’t know how often I will write or when something will get posted (I’m thinking something on a weekly basis) but rest assured that I’m back yet again for another round of posts on some high quality and truly excellent music. You guys like seeing it, I like writing about it, so here it goes.

Also, if you are so inclined, feel free to “Like” Clothes HQ on Facebook. And by all means continue to drop me a line via Facebook, email, or leave a comment on my personal Last.fm page. I definitely welcome suggestions as well – if you know of something that you feel would be a good fit to read about on the blog, message me and I’ll see what I can do. Without great music to write about, this site wouldn’t exist.

I’ll get right to it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is Andy Stott’s latest output dubbed Luxury Problems released on Modern Love out of Manchester, UK. I’ve been following this individual for a few years now and every release ends up pleasantly surprising me in one form or another. Andy Stott has a history of creating richly detailed yet mostly minimal dub techno oriented music – and with every release, the already seemingly subterranean lows seem to go even lower, completely dominating whatever system you’re using to listen to this wonderful treat of an album.

Having a length record as well as a bevy of other EPs and a few remixes already out in the wild, Stott is no stranger to music production. This individual made his debut with Merciless in 2006. Attention to this producer has been growing steadily with every release, and I think he has gotten quite a bit of that especially when you take into account The Massacre as well as Fear of Heights EPs both produced in 2007. Last year I spent some time writing about We Stay Together, a release so disturbingly deep that it must have been concocted out of this world.

 

 

The track “Numb” – a nearly seven minute parade – opens the album. This by itself holds “Luxury Problems” up incredibly well and can be used quite well as a measure to determine the quality of the production of the rest of the record. A whispering, angelic voice pierces the morbid depths of the rest of work weaving gently throughout the rest of the song. It really is exquisite and even delicate at some points – all making for a very fleshed out and explored piece of work.

Luxury Problems remains incredibly enjoyable without being overbearing. Delicate without being fluffy. Deep without being obnoxious. I’m particularly interested in the vocals – from what I’ve read elsewhere, the female singing throughout the album here is a former piano teacher of Mr Stott’s. It is clear that they worked really well together and definitely is something that I’d like to see again in future works. Really, the vocals add a refreshing if not mysterious layer to the music.

One can quite easily get lost in this sort of album and that is a quality that I really strive to look for when I listen to music. You know something is good if you are able and comfortable to keep coming back to it months and years after its release and this is the calibre that I think Andy Stott has set out for. Every single track has something excellent and truly inspirational to offer its listener. Definitely not a “drive-by album” by any means and I would encourage readers to keep an eye out for this guy.

Enjoy this release and read more about it at the following links.
Last.fm

Discogs

Modern Love

Purchase this release from:

Boomkat

Amazon

Download.

Dream Loss and its companion Alien Observer is a small two part release from solo artist named Liz Harris, known better by her stage name Grouper. Grouper has a few releases out and three full length albums including Wide in 2006 and the followup a year later with Cover the Windows and the Walls. Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill was released on Type Records in 2008 to much fan-fare and is widely considered Grouper’s most beloved release.

Grouper’s music is most often characterized by thin spider web-like vocals. The majority of her music is created using but a few instruments and some post-production work to enhance its lo-fi qualities. With this in mind, she’s earned a healthy following especially since the 2008 release of Dragging a Dead Deer, where these characteristics made a great impact in the ambient/lo-fi community. A great deal of word-of-mouth chatter about the album occurred which helped her gain traction within her respective musical circles.

Beyond the immediately recognizable lo-fi quality and the use of her vocals as another distinguishing feature, an acoustic guitar accompanies this artist in the music. I find that the slow moving melodies accentuate her songs in a way where it works really well with other elements within every track.

The vocals in particular really do wonders for this release. The musician here conveys a sense of calm solitude and isolationism that brings the record to a level that would not have been able to achieve otherwise. To that end, it’s easy to forget the outside world for awhile and delve deeply into this dream-like piece of work. Be sure to check out her previous releases!

For more information, check out the following resources:

Last.fm

Discogs

Google Sites

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Boomkat

Amazon

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We Stay Together is Andy Stott’s latest exploration into dub techno released last month. It actually comes as a follow up to another work released earlier in the year entitled Passed By Me out on the same label from Boomkat.com dubbed Modern Love out of the UK.

Traditionally, Stott has explored the darker areas of dub techno with releases like the Fear of Heights EP and what not, however this piece of work contains much more than his previous adventures. In this, a richly dark and particularly seedy environment is used as a foundation for hard rolling bass moving with purpose.

This particular EP from Stott very rhythmic-centric; unlike a few previous works where you would hear this collage of hyper edited snares and manipulated beatwork (think on a scale of 2562‘s Aerial or maybe some of Martyn‘s stuff), this release opts to drive itself using warmer elements found within dub techno.

Opening with an almost deceptively calm introduction into the record is Submission which does not exactly sound like the rest of the songs that you’ll hear throughout the work, however perhaps strangely enough, it does somehow manage to fit into what morphs to an incredible collection of thick, bassy tracks that are drenched with powerfully unforgiving rhythms sculpted wonderfully with a wide ranging palette of sounds by its artist.

We Stay Together is a deeply brooding piece of work with concrete implementation of fresh ideas for dub/dub techno music. Give this a listen!

For more information about the artist, check out the following resources:

Last.fm

Discogs

Modern Love

To buy this release, check out:

Boomkat

Download.

Apologies for the lack of posts for last week – been pretty busy.

This is Eluvium’s Leaves Eclipse the Light which was released as a limited (to 2,000) edition EP on Temporary Residence Limited. Eluvium, actual name Matthew Cooper, saw his first full length released in mid 2003 which he called Lambent Material. The five track, 35 minute record would serve to give the artist a name amongst ambient music fans, only solidified by his second and third forthcoming works entitled An Accidental Memory in Case of Death in ’04 as well as Talk Amongst the Trees the following year.

Many parallels could be made between Amongst the Trees and Lambent. The latter is an incredible and decidedly warm composition of piano work juxtaposed with an array of field recordings and other instrumentation. Its centerpiece track, Zerthis, captures your attention through the use of warped distortion provided by guitars – finally letting you off into a bottomless abyss of beautifully moving piano work with the fifth and album concluding track entitled “I Am So Much More Me That You Are Perfectly You.”

What’s amazing to me is that Lambent Material served as only the beginning of a musically fruitful adventure in ambient music from a then unknown artist out of Kentucky (since moving to Portland, Oregon). Lambent is simply the origin of a healthy sized line of music from Eluvium and through this, you’re able to hear influences from similarly musically like-minded musicians, namely Brian Eno.

His second full length An Accidental Memory in 2004 switched tracks a little bit veering into more piano territory. Although ambient music in the most traditional sense made subtle (if not minor) appearances, the piano served as the primary driver of the album mostly containing an array of subdued sounds from that instrument. Not necessarily sad, but the record was mostly contemplative, I think, and I feel like it helped Eluvium musically into what he could accomplish as a composer as well as a student of the piano. This instrument continues to remain as a mainstay of Matthew Cooper’s music.

Coming back into familiar grounds of ambient music with Talk Amongst the Trees in 2005, as an avid music listener, I’ve come to the conclusion that this record is one of Eluvium’s strongest, displaying a gorgeous knack for musically painting dark greys and blues on a dimmed canvas of sound. In Trees, it’s obvious that Eluvium’s become a respected name in modern ambient. Glacial walls of sound (most notably and gradually recognized in the work’s sixth track entitled “Taken”) penetrate the deepest corners of your ear drums letting go for a moment to only whitewash you with a range of dismal and pensively overcast-sounding pads that flesh out wonderfully over the course of the nearly hour long record. It’s quite an impressive work that continues to stand up to other heavyweight albums in the genre.

However, I’d say that many people know Eluvium best by a piece of work called Copia. Chronologically, this is his sixth album and was released in ’07 (again on Temporary Residence out of New York). Copia made significant and far reaching waves with fellow musicians and music lovers alike. This record contributed greatly to the success of Eluvium. From its very first track to the last, Copia is a world built entirely out of layers; and although we saw that quite a bit in An Accidental Memory in Case of Death a few years prior, this record is most definitely drenched in it.

The piano once again makes a strong appearance spanning the work, often acting as a catalyst for other musical elements to soar over its thoughtful melodies, particularly notable in Indoor Swimming at the Space Station, Prelude for Time Feelers, as well as Reciting the Airships later in the album. Indoor Swimming remains one of my favorite songs of any artist.

And again, built entirely with comprehensive layers. It begins with a few notes: subdued, eclipsed, shadowed. But then, pianos start rolling in – gentle at first, moving to a melody with a sense of elegance and purpose, and then you slowly recognize the warm pads being introduced and building layer upon layer of calm sound until the track’s conclusion. The entirety of Copia is more or less the same. At its end, you realize that there is a lot of “content” for an ambient record, and perhaps this is why that it has found so much success from the genre’s fans.

So, on to the actual material that I’m writing about. It’s called the Leaves Eclipse the Light and was released last September as an EP. It follows into a second part EP called The Motion Makes Me Last released in November last year and contains similar album artwork.

This EP in particular contains three tracks along with a video of the same name (which is also the same track on the early 2011 record Similes) and was limited to 2,000 copies. It includes a remix of this track by Four Tet, juggling the sounds of the original song and injecting other elements into it, making for an interesting and cool sounding second take on it.

These two releases together are a breath of fresh air after the mixed music community response to Similes released in late February of this year. It more or less contained many of the musical elements as heard in Eluvium’s previous works however it introduced something that long standing fans of the artist were not expecting: the introduction of Matthew Cooper’s vocals.

I can’t say for sure which side of the fence I’m on. I don’t mind vocals in this kind of music and I certainly don’t mind artists exploring new methods and techniques and what not to cultivate and learn new things from. However, I suppose that this is all up to the individual listener to figure out for themselves. Eluvium has a history of less than ten years – who knows what new and exciting music this lovely composer and artist will have in store for modern ambient music in the future?

Listen with a good set of headphones! Enjoy.

To learn more about the artist, please visit the following resources:

Last.fm

Discogs

Temporary Residence Limited

To purchase Eluvium releases, check out:

Amazon

Temporary Residence Limited

Download.

Dive is IDM artist Tycho’s latest record released on Ghostly International. Tycho first entered the music world with a piece of work known as The Science of Patterns as a self-released EP in 2002. 2004 saw the release of his first full length entitled Sunrise Projector which is perhaps his most known work in the IDM community.

His second album dubbed Past is Prologue was released in ’06 on now defunct Florida-based Merck Records which was responsible for housing a lot of quality releases roughly in the same musical realm including works from Secede, Machinedrum, Mr. Projectile, and Helios.

This record in particular has the emotion and feeling that music from Ulrich Schnauss conveys while retaining a rhythm and structure that almost sounds like a vocal-less Zero 7 and an artist named Aerosol with Airborne all while sticking contently to an electronic-oriented background and atmosphere.

While Dive is vocal-less, it does sport minor vocal samples, most notably in its title track seen above.

Easily described as a feel-good album, Dive soars beyond what Tycho accomplished musically with previous records. While Past is Prologue as well as Sunrise Projector were solid no doubt, Dive feels like it was created effortlessly. It’s a straight forward record containing the easiness and relaxed atmosphere of Prologue while maintaining the striking eloquence of Tycho’s debut album.

Tycho’s work here is an outstanding testament to great IDM music and possesses long lasting appeal and virtually endless replayability.

For more information about the artist, check out the following resources:

Last.fm

Discogs

Ghostly International

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Ghostly

Amazon

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Clams Casino is an individual named Mike Volpe based out of New Jersey, USA.  Instrumentals is one of two releases (Rainforest EP being the other) that he has out so far. Initially self-released as a mixtape, this album has been re-released on Type Records, home to other well known works from artists like Xela, Grouper, Helios, Deaf Center, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yellow Swans, and beyond.

This record in particular is spreading rapidly across the Internet. Instrumentals employs a wonderfully downtempo frame work which enables quite a bit of leeway for everything else in the album.  Care free instrumental hip-hop beats invade a foggy and spacious musical atmosphere, occasionally being propelled by minor use of manipulated vocal samples throughout the record.

Since first being spotted with its release in August, Instrumentals has received quite a bit of attention. It has been compared to DJ Shadow’s iconic Endtroducing…, released in ’96 (hard to believe that it’s been that long).

While they are both incredible albums, there are some notable differences – mainly in the sense that Instrumentals doesn’t use turntabilism, amongst other things. Having said that, if you continue to enjoy the memorable ’96 record, you’ll definitely enjoy Clams Casino’s latest output here.

Highlights of the album include All I Need, Realist Alive, Illest Alive, and Cold War, the last being a great example of an eloquently used female vocal sample to further the track set to a great beat.

I’m sure with Instrumentals, Mr. Volpe will continue to make waves in the hip-hop community with more quality releases in the future. Enjoy this one!

For more information about the artist, check out the following resources:

Last.fm

Discogs

Type Records
Buy this release at:

Boomkat

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Following in the footsteps of their previous album, Louisiana-based duo Belong have recently released their sophomore album entitled Common Era on Kranky (home to an impressive array of influential musically like-minded artists).

Belong is most widely known for creating an album called October Language in ’06 released on a small label dubbed Car Park Records. That album continues to be a defining staple in ambient music today, and although not strictly ambient by any sense of the word, it did push boundaries in what the genre could be described as.

October Language remains a very strong, perhaps defiant sounding record with heavily washed out and sometimes possessing a near apocalyptic-level of corrosiveness, often retreating from that level of noise to a distantly surreal and almost lonely flurry of ambient noise. It remains one of my all time favorite records to this day.

At first, I was hesitant to write about Common Era. When I had first listened to it all the way through, it was obviously immediately noticeable that some things had changed from the iconic album before it. I wasn’t disappointed with it – I think it’s great that artists try to improve themselves through the way their music sounds as they continue to create different things.

I was hesitant mainly because I needed time to digest. It’s markedly easier to listen to over October Language where some people might be turned off to somewhat harsh ambient noise rocking across their headphones, but the addition of drums as a prominent musical instrument surprised me. After all this time “digesting” though, I’ve come to discover that they’re not a turn off and it’s somewhat of a pleasant surprise.

Whereas their first record was heavily aimed into the shoegaze direction, this album doesn’t quite venture as far down that path. Yes, it sports minor vocal work (“A Walk”, “Perfect Life”, “Keep Still”, et cetera), but it’s not aggressive, it’s not very prominently featured, and it certainly doesn’t try to force it as the centerpiece of the record.

Common Era may or may not blow your mind (perhaps at least not as much as Belong’s previous work did), but it is nevertheless a very solid, very well thought-out, and decisively written album that does manage to effectively pull off an enjoyable and rewarding listening experience.

To learn more about the artist, visit the following resources:

Last.fm

Discogs

Kranky

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Kranky

Amazon

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Hailed as a pioneer of the “futurepop” subgenre within electronic music, VNV Nation has had a long standing reputation within the EBM scene. They are responsible for an extensive discography spanning over 21 years. Given such a great amount of releases, for an electronic oriented group they’ve remained largely consistent with perhaps a few changes in very recent years to keep in stride with modern era sounding electropop.

Lyrically, VNV has largely focused on this sort of distanced speculation and observations on culture, world views, human expression, and personal relationships. Often, the group’s albums feature very lyrically introverted tracks while having an upbeat and danceable anthem of a song.

Beyond that, they’ve often submerged themselves entirely in melancholic musical elements filled with remorseful and emotional lyrics complimented by engagingly warm pads, pianos, and other easy listening instrumentation sufficiently exemplified in tracks like “Illusion” from 2007’s Judgement. Indeed, the very last track on the record (“As it Fades“) offers no vocals to speak of instead opting for cold pads and whispered orchestral elements.

Vocals have always been a fundamental element for VNV Nation and as such, its presentation and lyrical delivery on this album is as solid as it has been on previous records. The real differences that make this album from previous VNV works is how well each track compliments each other until the record’s completion. Additionally, the quality of lyrics has made a marked improvement (in this writer’s mind) from their last release with 2009’s Of Faith, Power, & Glory. Here it is immediately obvious that they were inspired.

A cursory listen may show that Automatic is a musically comparative adventure to Of Faith, Power, & Glory in that the pop-iness in that album reflects with this output here, however Automatic definitely proves to be a more fruitful and engaging record topped with more energetic and cohesive tracks. Really, it deserves comparisons to 2000’s Empires (excerpt) – these lyrics are inventive and they are delivered with swift and carefree execution.

Empires is largely seen as VNV Nation’s most iconic and crowning achievement and was followed up by another excellent record with Futureperfect in 2002 (an iconic song is presented in this album) and I’d submit that Automatic may indeed be their best work since then.

Be sure to check out this band’s previous works including Matter + Form released in 2005 as well as the records mentioned above. Here’s an excellent and motivated track from the album that I find is overlooked amongst other jewels in VNV’s discography.

For more information about the artist, check out the following resources:

Last.fm

Discogs

VNV Nation

Buy this release at:

Amazon

Download.

This is The Wall by Russian trance artist Arty. The man is a budding producer in the trance community having started in 2009 with the release of the Vanilla Sky EP. Being only 22 years old, he’s made waves around the globe. Above & Beyond caught wind of him last year and subsequently signed him on their Anjunabeats label. From there, he went on to release two fantastic singles dubbed The Wonder and Rush still being spun in DJ radio podcasts today.

In April of this year, Arty collaborated with British trance producer Matan Zohar (Mat Zo) in releasing Rebound also on the Anjunabeats label.

This release in particular has a lot of momentum in it. Being a single, it sports a Remode mix (in other words, not the full length proper version of the embedded track above),  the original extended mix, and perhaps strangely, an acoustic mix.

Acoustic mixes of these releases is something that isn’t common in the trance world but it does a great job introducing a more airy flavor of the song. Make no mistake however – the focal point of The Wall is in its Remode (I am not sure what “Remode” entails exactly but I’ll disregard it) mix: a thunderous foray into trance featuring crisp vocals from Tania Zygar who also made contributions on several of TyDi’s releases based out of Australia.

Out of his music, others have been able to contribute fantastic tracks in the form of remixes including the Nitrous Oxide take of The Wonder heard here. Definitely a lovely track with a lot of energy in it.

He has two singles on the alias of Alpha 9 under the titles “Come Home” last year and “Bliss” in ’09. The former is a bit more relaxed than tracks typically seen from the artist.

With these releases, Arty is quickly becoming a highly sought-after DJ in trance music and I’m sure we’ll see more excellent tracks from him in the future.

Learn more about the artist here:

Last.fm

Discogs

Buy this release from:

Anjunabeats Store

Beatport

Download.

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