A.Daase - Slept On

A.Daase – Slept On

Slept On is a new free LP from Madison WI based producter Austin Daase. Some tracks, like the beautiful Next Level, have that important quality errant from many instrumental tracks – the feeling that the song is ‘singing’ to you; it’s impressive when that intangible narrative emerges from simple arrangement and structuring, and it’s something that A.Daase succeeds with often.

it’s impressive when that intangible narrative emerges from simple arrangement and structuring

On the strongest tracks, such as Rebirth, A.Daase manages to steep the spacey electronica sounds, which seem to be very much the sound set du jour, with a brooding, soul filled quality, courtesy of piano and guitar licks that hide inside the thump of the electronic mainframe.

A thorn in the LP’s side, some fairly drastic compression techniques mean the tracks are sometimes lacking in any dynamics, going beyond creative application and becoming slightly disorientating.

In general, though, Slept On is strong effort, and adopting the new music model of providing whole albums for free is both a brave and admirable step for a producer to take. Have a listen…

Orelha Negra - M.I.R.I.A.M.

Orelha Negra – M.I.R.I.A.M.

The old pearl of wisdom ‘two heads are better than one’ is often ignored in electronic music production. There are obvious high profile exceptions to the rule, but in general it seems that the ability to be a one man band afforded by electronic music means that artists tend to work solo on their music.

The phrase ‘two heads are better than one’ is often ignored in electronic music production

That Portugese outfit Orelha Negra is a group, then, with different members contributing their strengths to the songs, is something of a rarity. Members Cruz, Ferrano, Gomes Prodigy, Mira Professional, and Rebelo Jazz Bass put their hands to scratches, drums, keyboards, sampler, and guitar, respectively, creating recordings that could physically be created by a single pair of hands; the important thing, though, is that they are not created by a single mind. Collectively, their individual experiences, influences, and strengths make the group as good as it is.

This track, M.I.R.I.A.M., is sultry soul and smooth jazz cut up and draped over funky drums, with sparing use of scratching to season the track. A collaboration with visual artist Vhils for the video showcases his individual technique perfectly; the explosion of the word love and ensuing fallout is a terrific metaphor…

 

J*DaVeY - Evil Christian Cop: The MIstakes

J*DaVeY – Evil Christian Cop: The Great Mistakes

There’s a nice subtle link here from my last piece about genre (Kings of the City’s Darkness); J*DaVeY’s Evil Christian Cop has a few different sounds in the melting pot, from the soft rock sounds of Nirvana covering Smells Like Teen Spirit new wave overtones of Lazy Daze all the way over to the wonkiest of wonky Trans – but it’s all held together with a certain brand of electronica that’s come from a very definite place.

all held together with a certain brand of electronica that’s come from a very definite place

Going further to illustrate my point is the way that so there are so many genre names for a huge sea of electronica with enough homogeneity to fit in the same boat – simply because the reference points that different people have come from to get to glitch hop/wonky/skwee/beats/gargotron provide counter points of equal distance. A few days ago, I asked how you approach genre; the de facto schema you use for the sounds, speeds, moods and atmospheres you aim for in your music may well benefit from a lateral step, but subconsciously is the end result almost pre defined?

stutter edit

Review: Izotope Stutter Edit

Stutter Edit by Izotope. RRP $249 USD. Website

There’s always something magical about randomness – a first take is so often more alive than the technically perfect tenth, soul gets quashed by quantisation , and no matter what you try, there’s always something more interesting about a hand dialled filter sweep than a programmed one. Izotope’s Stutter Edit was designed to take the labour intensive and very clinical task of creating glitchy breakdowns in your music and automate it, in the process making something that was time consuming and rigid quick and fluid. Does it succeed?

Reinventing the Wheel

Of course, Stutter Edit isn’t totally original. Immediate comparisons will be drawn with Native Instruments’ The Finger, with its keyboard based design and stuttering audio manipulation, and you may well have your own favourite glitch inducing buffer tool. Stutter Edit is somewhat a different beast to other effects of its sort though, and certainly deserves to be treated as such.

Stutter Edit cannot immediately grab audio as it passes through it, nor can it hold the audio for any longer than a bar

At the heart of Stutter Edit is a constantly refilling one bar buffer. Rather than stutters affecting audio in real time, upon activating a stutter effect the signal is routed through this buffer – meaning that Stutter Edit cannot immediately grab audio as it passes through it, nor can it hold the audio for any longer than a bar. Whilst the refilling buffer can help you achieve some dynamic effects, that Stutter Edit doesn’t work as you might immediately assume it would in that it lacks the power to manipulate audio truly on the fly did take me aback a little. To make things interesting, the buffer can be reversed and the start point of the buffer can be shifted about – the signal can be split too, allowing each stereo channel to do something different. There are some left field possibilities with the functionality being like this, too, as keys can be assigned to rhythmical stressors such as a kick that always falls on beat one and a snare that always falls on beat three to create a sort of live remixing opportunity.

Extra Effects

On top of the stutter effect are low/high pass filters, stereo delay and bit/sample crushers. Any combination of these effects can be used in a stutter ‘gesture’, Izotope’s name for each of the presets that a keyboard key relates to, and where Stutter Edit gets powerful is its modulation capabilities. All of the effects can separately be assigned sweeping values on a timeline of up to two bars, and the sweep itself can be adjusted from a steep logarithic curve all the way to a steep exponential curve (for those who’ve forgotten their maths homework, a sweep where things start off fast and slow down and vice versa), with a central linear setting.

one of the most novel possibilities in Stutter Edit is that you can make stutter note lengths so unmusically short that they can be turned into pitches

What’s more, you can select the note lengths that fit in t0 that sliding scale, and one of the most novel possibilities in Stutter Edit is that you can make those note lengths so unmusically short that they can be turned into pitches, allowing a quantised (or, not) arpeggio to be played by pressing a key. The arpeggio is manually defined, but it would be nice to have been able to select scales perhaps from a knob to allow gestures to keep up with songs in a different key.

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Server Move Imminent

I’m moving Oh Drat to a faster and more reliable host to ensure that I can provide the best service possible. While that happens, access to the site might be a little patchy – you might not be able to post comments, see certain things, or even flat out not be able to access it. The good news is that it lasts ’24-48 hours’ according to The Powers That Be, so things will be back on track in no time…
Thanks for your patience!

Kings of the City ft Klashnekoff - Darkness

Kings of the City ft Klashnekoff – Darkness

What hip hop is, and what it’s been pigeon holed as, are two different things – to the extent that it can be difficult to distinguish where the line is between hip hop music and hip hop as a cultural identity. Music isn’t the only aspect of hip hop culture, and whilst emceeing is intrinsic to hip hop, not all rap is hip hop.

Context is a funny matter… it makes the same thing make sense twice

What is it, then, that makes something like Darkness, by Kings of the City, hip hop? The production is acoustic drums, electric guitar and organ, there’s an indie blues vocal chorus, and we’ve (okay, I’ve) already established that all things rap aren’t by default hip hop… of course, the calibre of emcees here, including the one time king of the castle of hip hop in England Klashnekoff, does help. Is it the intangibles, the references, bounce of the rhythm that swings it?

Or is it none of the above because it’s not hip hop and it is simply music? Context is a funny matter… it makes the same thing make sense twice. You can download a free three track promo from Kings of the City, including Darkness, at their site.

Frank Ocean - Nostalgia/Ultra

Frank Ocean – Nostalgia,Ultra

If a rolling stone gathers no moss, then metaphorically speaking, Odd Future – OFWGKTA – is as clean as a whistle. The collective is rapidly becoming the name on everyone’s lips, and with good reason, but that hasn’t altered their grassroots approach to releasing music. The latest free release is Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia,Ultra LP, a departure from much of the existing output in that Ocean is a vocalist rather than emcee, and the LP deals in a somewhat softer sound, too.

Musiq (Soulchild) quality harmonies with contemporary soul and R&B styled runs, stylised auto tune and frank, meaningful, and explicit song writing.

There’s a great diversity to the track listing, with a mixture of original productions and re-appropriated tracks from everyone from Mr Hudson and MGMT to The Eagles… and even Coldplay.

Frank Ocean’s soulful vocal combines some Musiq (Soulchild) quality harmonies with contemporary soul and R&B styled runs, stylised auto tune and frank, meaningful, and explicit song writing. The most auto tuned and poppiest runs and riffs are mitigated by the breadth of material and the uncompromising song writing, and of course, co-signed by Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, as well as the nods to the nostalgia in the title; the sound of tape players rewinding and button clicking and classic video game named interludes elicit fond memories… and maybe even a sense of melancholy.

You can download the LP from the OFWGKTA tumblr blog or by clicking here

Nature Feels by Frank Ocean

Oh Drat

Dear Reader…

I hope you enjoy reading Oh Drat. It’s very much a labour of love for me – and by me I mean just me, Chris, I do this on my lonesome – borne of a desire to create something that I’d love to exist.

The philosophy behind the site is that music doesn’t just materialise from of thin air, it is welded into existence by sparks of inspiration

The philosophy behind the site is that music doesn’t just materialise from thin air, it is welded into existence by sparks of inspiration, and there is nobody better to be inspired by than your peers. I love to delve into the latest and greatest, the shiniest and the smoothest new equipment, but all it is is a series of bigger and better blank canvases for you to paint onto.

As I push on with the site I’m conscious that it can be a little tough to pigeon hole, and that is both a good and a bad thing. The primary focus for Oh Drat is production, and yet a lot of what’s on the site is music and interviews with musicians – not necessarily even producers or electronic music. This is intentional and harks back to the chicken and egg style philosophy I mentioned above; I really want Oh Drat to be somewhere you can enjoy, and leave the site feeling like you want to get behind your equipment and make something beautiful. That said, at the moment there is slightly less focus on equipment than I’m aiming for, and that’s something that I’m in the process of rectifying. There are new reviews coming out imminently, and I am about to embark upon a variety of production tutorial series in video and text formats, aimed at giving everyone from total newcomers to seasoned veterans help and new ideas. Making music doesn’t have to be something you devote your entire life to, nor should it feel like a waste of time not to pursue fame and fortune with it. Music is something that should make you happy, and even if you come to Oh Drat for my impeccable music tastes alone, you may see something that inspires you to have a go yourself. Even if not, don’t worry – I don’t plan on letting the music, interviews, and features disappear.

The most important person in all this, though, is you, the reader

The most important person in all this, though, is you, the reader. I’m a strong believer in the idea that when creating something new, you have to be a little stubborn in order to break some moulds, but it’s vital to me that you guys let me know what you like, what you don’t like, what you’d like to see more of and what you’d like less of. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the response to Oh Drat so far, as the readership is coming along in leaps and bounds, and your comments mean the world to me. Please let me know on Facebook, Twitter, and the comments section below what you think, and I would be overjoyed if you could spread the word about Oh Drat to your friends in your respective networks.

Well, that’s my candid, cards on the table disclosure. I’m alone in all this without you guys, and your help and interest so far has meant Oh Drat has grown into something better than I could ever have hoped whilst its still in its infancy. Here’s to phase two being even better…

Kadija Kamara - Changes

Kadija Kamara – Changes

Changes, the first solo EP from Kadija Kamara, is a delightful four song offering with a very organic sound and a style that indicates influences from generations of soul music.

a style that indicates influences from generations of soul music

From Talking to Myself’s steady four on the floor snare pattern harking back to 60s Motown to Deeper Than This’s guitar led suggestions of India Arie, Kadija Kamara demonstrates a strong writing talent.

The breadth of emotion on this debut EP is impressive, and is a guaranteed like for soul fans – available from iTunes and various other outlets detailed on Kadija’s site.

Talking 2 Myself by Kadija Kamara

Oh Drat February Podcast

Oh Drat Podcast February 2011

It’s that time again – the Oh Drat Podcast’s February edition is here, with another eclectic selection for your enjoyment. Don’t forget you can subscribe to the podcast and get any you may have missed directly in iTunes, and please use the comments section to voice your opinion!

1. Do Re Mi ft Leone Evans – Rossington Code
2. Debilos ft Anqui – Turn My Clock (Check One remix)
3. Purity Ring – Ungirthed
4. Rewd Adams – I Know
5. Amalia – All the Funk I Need
6. Kadija Kamara – I’m Endeavoured
7. Jaque Polynice – Obama O’s (Mike Slott remix)
8. Sleepover – Fucking Evil
9. Porches – December’s Sweating

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Oh Drat Podcast February 2011 by Oh Drat

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