Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nude vs. Flashbaxx

I hadn't heard of Nude before hearing Flashbaxx's downtempo take on some serious drum and bass. I've only heard Flashbaxx's original work, and their remixes of others' music stays true to their "Jack of all Trades" form. I love the way Flashbaxx takes Nude's hard hitting bass hooks and takes it down a notch to the downtempo listeners comfort zone.

I found myself appreciating not only the way Flashbaxx created chilled treats, but Nude's foundation of jungle beats was still stuck in my head. I had to listen to Nude first - and I found myself hooked on Nude for a good while. Click the link above to listen to the remixes, then click this link to listen to Nude's originals. It'll depend on your mood, but I'm lovin both versions.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Language of the World - Dancing

Check this video of "Dancing" - a random dude named Matt gets sent around the world by his company and decides to do something silly with it. Nearly 11 million people have seen this video and its been sent to me dozens of times in the past months. Everytime I watch it i feel at peace. The music grabs me and helps me find tremendous meaning in this video. The soundtrack nearly brings me to tears - its a wonderful and emotional track by Garry Schyman titled "Praan" (written especially for this video)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mystic Man & Eshamanjaro Remix - check the "Rambler"

Reso and Hektagon remix Mystic Man & Eshamanjaro’s jazzy and rambling breaks and hip-hop hooks in their own respective style. Reso’s drum and bass influence deconstructs “Minds I” to deliver an extroverted electronica remix of what once was a reflective downtempo self-exploration. Meanwhile, Hektagon remixes “The Rambler” – an appropriate track considering Hektagon’s specialty in mixing dub and breakbeats while staying true to the track’s original intent.

Reso has a tendency to deconstruct. Many of his remixes carry only a sliver of semblance of the original track. True to form, Reso’s remix of “Minds I” only takes broken loops of the original “Minds I” vocal hook and adds completely new techno beats. Even listeners who know “Minds I” wouldn’t recognize Reso’s remix. Reso adds a whole new dimension and removes the introspective tone of the original. The electronica spin creates a new wonder and drum and bass amazement. It’s a techno track now, devoid of what once was “Mind’s I.”

Hektagon tends to hold on to the spirit of the original tracks he remixes. On “The Rambler” Vocal Remix, Hektagon masterfully shifts the song’s energy between dub, techno and jazz while keeping the tumbling drums, big band horns and pinball effects. This remix cuts the best vocal slices from Eshamanjaro and remixes Mystic Man’s beats to create a new flow shifts between a trip-hop lounge vibe and hip hop showcase.

A final remix, Hektagon’s “Rambler” Dub Remix, focuses on the beats and removes the track’s vocals. The original version had a rambling vocal flow that was accentuated by Eshamanjaro’s rhymes. This version makes the music ramble with purpose, creating an engaging and fresh take on an already unique sound.


(originally written by Downbeatscape for ProperlyChilled.com)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Global Noize - fantastic intro to downtempo jazz and collaboration worth listening to

Downtempo listeners are open to the wonders of the musical world. For those who have not yet stepped into jazz, Global Noize offers a fantastic bridge between a traditional electronica perception of downtempo to the foundation of most contemporary American music (JAZZ!) by creating an album that melds electro-funk, trip-hop, jazz and eclectic world influences. As globalization makes its impact on U.S. culture through technology, the economy and pop culture, artists, such as Global Noize, are increasingly blending sounds to blur the lines of what we know as traditional music genres.

Grammy Award-winning producer and keyboardist Jason Miles joins with veteran jazz turntablist DJ Logic to create Global Noize. Through Global Noize, veteran musicians contribute their unique styles to create a journey through global sounds. Members and contributors include Me’shell Ndegeocello, Billy Martin (Medeski, Martin & Wood), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), John Popper (Blues Traveler) Cyro Baptista (Herbie Hancock), Bernie Worrell (Talking Heads, Parliament Funk), Karl Denson (Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Lenny Kravtiz) and more.

Global Noize’s recent self-titled release recognizes influences from around the world. “A Jam For Joe” and “Bollywood” mix many genres including funk, electronica and jazz and ties it all together with Indian subtleties, beats and vocals from Indian crooner Falu. On “Spice Island,” Caribbean steel drums steal DJ Logic’s thunder as he scratches along with the light twang of steel beats and a smooth, shining jazz keyboard. “Spice Island” is like a Jimmy Buffet concert commandeered by local Caribbean musicians.

The Arab nations even get a nod on “The Souk,” a lounging track build around a deep bass beat and downtempo keyboard sequence. Falu brings Indian vocals to the mix and though her influence tips this towards India, the Arab influence cannot be missed, most literally, by the meaning of the word “souk” – a commercial section of cities that were originally created by roaming gypsies and Arab traders. “Quero Dancer” is a jazzy dance track that could steady the pulse of any Ibiza dance clubber. It helps that “Quero Dancer” is sung in Spanish (or Portuguese? as one reviewer notes). This is a true lounge track with dreamy keyboards and jazz guitar that complete the Southwestern European vibe.

And of course, we cannot forget the influence of the U.S. of A. Very often, when music is described, you never hear about its American vibe. World music often gets the most attention through written word. Perhaps rightfully so. Though we must remember the U.S. root of Global Noize: it’s Jazz. Every track is built on this foundation, though “Planetary Beats” and “Spin Cycle” are two of the jazziest tracks at their core, with nearly all instruments (drums, horns, guitar, keyboard) kicking a funk or jazz beat. Both tracks also highlight DJ Logic’s turnablist maneuvers.

Global Noize is a successful collaboration of musicians birthed from various world influences. At its core, it remains true to its jazz “raison d’etre.” The musicians set the stage, and listeners can identify all the global noise they want.

(Review written by Downbeatscape for ProperlyChilled.com)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

How to Find Complete Strangers in a Major City

So when I'm not listening to downtempo, i'm outside enjoying life. And sometimes I do silly stuff like try to find complete strangers in Boston. This is unrelated to downtempo, but its a really interesting experiment that I had no idea was circulating online. So the premise of this video is a friend of mine is a videographer and wanted to do a little experiment. What if two sets of complete strangers were given the task of having to find each other in a major city? How would they do it and how long would it take? Here's the result:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cosmic Rocker's Action Breaks EP is a foundation for any downtempo mix

Cosmic Rocker has proven his talent as a mix artist – easily handling dancers and loungers night after night in New York’ premier clubs and Europe’s smoky discos. DJ Sasha Crnobrnja is Cosmic Rocker, and he likes to party. Cosmic Rocker produces simple samples that are meant to be layered and mixed and mashed and danced to. His latest Action Breaks EP siphons his live aesthetic into a downtempo display that aims to entertain but works best as background groove.

As a DJ in Switzerland’s Go-Global outfit, he brought musicians and DJs together in music battles at local clubs. This idea morphed into the Organic Grooves project in New York, of which Cosmic Rocker is a founding member. For more than a decade, Organic Grooves has introduced world artists and DJs to each other to collaborate and mash global sounds and styles.

On Action Breaks, Cosmic Rocker removes himself from the experimentation of Go-Global or Organic Grooves and delivers stripped downtempo tracks.

I saddle up to Action Breaks and order a drink. I want a mixed one with a solid foundation and a sweet kick that rolls to an even different aftertaste. Give me an experience. What I get from Action Breaks is tonic. I get the foundation, but not the nuance that would set this album apart. One of the first tracks, literally called “Tonic,” begins with a fast jazzy drum rhythm, then adds a bass beat that never wavers from its foundation. Think of Kruder & Dorfmeister and Chemical Brothers tracks, and then remove the quirks that set them apart. And that’s what you get – a “Tonic” on the rocks, but not the G&T you ordered.

Cosmic Rocker does produce some grooves we know he can deliver. “Fred on Drums” takes listeners back to Cosmic Rocker’s formative years. He started with the drums and he’ll end with the drums. “Fred” kicks in with a head bobbing snare beat and adds layers of interesting samples. Every so often we get a jolt of something new and we want to keep listening. “Electric Hair Dub” gives us dark synth samples and a dubbed drum beat – it’s like listening to Bob Marley while dancing to muted house music.

Action Breaks is good for a crowded party or trendy bar where people aren’t paying attention to the music. When listening is an integral part of the experience, Action Breaks can’t always manipulate the vibe. Listen to Action Breaks as a foundation for mixes if you’re a DJ. Or listen to “Fred on Drums” and “Electric Hair Dub” for leisure. Action Breaks isn’t for straight consumption or on the rocks. Cosmic Rocker is a drink best served shaken, stirred, mixed and muddled.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Homegrown Videos of the Weekend - DJ Logic

DJ Logic is active in jazz and trip-hop projects such as Medeski, Martin and Wood, and most recently Global Noize, the jazzy duo comprised of DJ Logic and Jason Miles (i'm reviewing Global Noize's latest release for ProperlyChilled.com and it will be posted here as well...)

DJ Logic's "Hope Road" brings flight to those pesky pidgeons and makes them a successful standin for the hope-inspired dove. This track is an electronic trip-hop mix from Logic - his turntables stand out on this one.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In the Queu...

It's been a busy few weeks. After finalizing the interview with Jeff Bennett (read below posts!), I was able to enjoy Suburban Dream's latest recording out of Ireland.

I'm currently listening to a few new albums and mixes that came in the last two weeks:
- Cosmic Rocker's Action Breaks EP - a downtempo album out of New York from
- Global Noize's self titled world jazz album
- an excellent mix from DJ Riff Raff
- a Mike Monday mix
- A taste of Blackfish's ambient favorites - self produced by Blackfish

I've been getting a good taste of hip hop these days too, and actually went to the Rock the Bells festival a few weeks ago in Boston. Saw so many hip-hop pioneers on one stage - Nas, Tribe Called Quest, Ghostface Killer, Method Man, Rakim, Mos Def, De La Soul. Mos Def was by far my favorite, but maybe that's because "Black on Both Sides" is one of my favorite hip-hop albums ever. Nas was really good, and I'm glad I saw him live because it helps me enjoy his new CD even more. I haven't been into hard rap or hip-hop, much more trip-hop and more soulful stuff (another reason Mos Def lands as a favorite), but this show was pretty dope.

I've also got tix for Aesop Rock in Boston on August 15, and just saw that Federico Aubele is touring and making a stop in Boston in the beginning of September. That'll go on my list...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Suburban Dream's latest release

Its exciting - all the different people who contact me from around the world. Downbeatscape has been in touch with Downtempo artists, producers, DJs from the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, the U.K. and now Ireland.

Producer Ciaran McCarthy created Suburban Dream Recordings in Dublin, Ireland not too long ago- in the later months of 2007. Ciaran's goal is to release one or two singles every other month or so, and since launching, has blessed us with 3 releases. The first is "We Choose Death" - a dark, industrial downtempo beat that is an underground club dream. The next is the single "Crowd Control - Been Elected" - a trip-hop anthem with reggae undertones that highlights Suburban Dreams DJ and production skills, and is aggressively different from its accompanying track "New Buzz." This track is a jazzy downtempo tune that borders on ambient. With this release, Suburban Dream gives a flavor of what's in store.

Suburban Dream sent me the latest single "Everything Provided But...Part 1" which includes two downtempo and ambient tracks: "Music" and "They Start Out Using." "Music" is a sensitive tribute to, well, music. An opening monologue introduces what I'd assume to be Ciaran's philosophy - that music can accompany any experience and should be on at all times possible. The track has a delicate, rolling drum foundation with piano and horns that take turns with the spotlight. Like "Been Elected," "They Start Out Using" is a different downbeat style from its counterpart (Music). "Using" has sharper edges and popping drum sequences that are softened by electronic bells and keyboard rhythms. The song is ultimately about marijuana - the kids start using...

I told Ciaran it makes me think of all the suburban kids and their moms and dads - all of them are smoking and they're all hiding it from each other. Oh the suburbs...but I can tell you, Suburban Dream isn't for suburban consumption, their first singles are definitely for anyone who wants good downtempo to chill to or to mix in as a cool off track in their club mix.

Download Suburban Dream from Beatport.com and DjDownload.com

Sunday, July 20, 2008

An Interview with Jeff Bennett

Jeff Bennett, the Swedish producer behind dozens of tech-house singles has a chillout side – his dub and lounge aliases, Don Imuze and Eddie Silverton. Downbeatscape and Slackline Radio have been in touch with Jeff to learn about his chillout vibe, and listen to his recent dub release, “Great Illusions.” Beyond offering readers a copy of “Great Illusions” (keep reading to find out how to get a copy), Jeff told us a bit more about his forthcoming lounge album to be released at the end of summer, Eddie Silverton’s “Loungez & Couches.” After reading the interview, visit Jeff’s artist and label sites to sample music and hear his latest mixes. His music can also be purchased at Beatport and iTunes. Happy lounging!

Slackline Radio (SR): With all your alter egos, you get to explore many sounds. Tell us about some of your recent projects and how you express your musical moods…

Jeff Bennett (Jeff): At the moment I’m mostly recording lounge music under Eddie Silverton. I’ve always loved lounge music so when I decided to produce it, it felt natural immediately. Same goes for reggae/dub where I use the alias Don Imuze. My Tech-house side will always be a part of me as it’s how I started. Actually, I started out doing Detroit/techno that transformed into what I do now. All these styles represent music that I personally listen to.

SR: Why do you release material under so many aliases (such as Eddie Silverton, Don Imuze and Jeff Bennett)?

Jeff: When I started as Jeff Bennett, producing was great, but when I released my first lounge album as Jeff Bennett’s Lounge Experience, there was a lot of confusion. People, magazines and promoters thought I had given up on techno. This led me to take on different aliases for my projects. And it can be fun for somebody digging into a producer’s various aliases, finding out he does different types of music.

Downbeatscape (DBS): Do you have a favourite alias? How do you transition when you move from one project to the next, or are you constantly creating music in all genres?

Jeff: I have a favourite alias for the day. When arriving to the studio, I get a subtle feeling pointing me in the direction of the day. I have a hard time forcing music, so I try to be on top off on all my aliases by having songs finished on forehand. That being said, sometimes I have to do remixes and releases in a certain order – then I have to leave the natural flow [of making music] for “work”.

DBS: You just released “Great Illusions” under your dub alias, Don Imuze. What dub and reggae songs or artists inspired this album?

Jeff: There are so many!! Eeka Mouze, Mad Professor, The Gladiators, Peter Tosh, Alpha & Omega, Augustus Pablo, Black Uhuru, Ini Kamoze, Linton Kwesi Johnson, King Tubby, The Congos, Prince Far I, Bob Marley of course, plus many more.

DBS: When you create an album, do you have an idea of what you want it to sound like when you begin? How do you approach the creative process?

Jeff: I have tried different approaches to my projects, and the best for me is to have a clear goal like “finish the album before the end of the month,” but with an open-minded approach. There is a saying I like: “If you can’t do it, you must!” I use that for all I do, I never thought I would be able to finish that whole album in just one month but I did, I had to! My first thoughts towards finishing this album started many years ago, so the basics were already there and I had most things sorted before starting the actual production. Normally, the finished result doesn’t sound like the original idea.

DBS: “Great Illusions” is a minimalist approach to dub – the tracks are a stripped down, straight forward take on reggae. Why did you choose this direction?

Jeff: I didn’t choose it, it came to me. I actually thought it would sound a bit different before I made it. But I like it a lot. Sometimes I get surprised by some of the sounds that I choose.

SR: On “Great Illusions,” it seems you have an affinity for the letter "z". Almost every track has the letter "z" in the title. Is there a reason for your love of "z" on this terrific dub release or do you just enjoy the way it rolls off the tongue?

Jeff: There is actually a strategy behind this, I won’t give it up here, but if you send a mail with the correct answer ill send you a copy of the album. [Note from Downbeatscape: visit Phunctional Loungin’ to contact Jeff. If you can figure out why he has an affinity for the letter “Z,” send him an email with your answer and he’ll send you a copy of “Great Illusions”)

DBS: What do you prefer to perform live - your house, dub or lounge tracks?

Jeff: I haven’t actually performed my lounge/dub music live yet, but it feels great to be able to have a bit of diversity style-wise as this is something I’m in the process of building. When that time comes, I guess it could become difficult to choose! I hope not.

SR: From your early days of owning a record store, a lot has changed in music from production to promotion to distribution. How have changes in the music digital age transformed your sound and your audience?

Jeff: Indeed many things have changed, I think for the better without a doubt. Before the digital age you would hear about new artists/labels in the record store talking to a friend or the guy behind the counter, now you read it at a forum or similar. This makes it easier to directly reach your listeners as a label.

When I first heard there was a shop selling music digitally only I immediately restarted my labels without blinking. It just felt so natural that this [digital distribution] would be the thing of the future. As an artist you have more competition now that before fighting for the same amount of space in the main magazines, etc.

On the production side, when I installed Cubase VST and tried the first VSTi’s out, within a couple of months I had sold almost all my physical gear. According to my friends, I was a just a computer nerd thinking you could do complete productions and mixdowns inside a computer only. I guess I proved them wrong. Now it’s common as a fish in the water.

The flexibility offered by the digital age is endless. The hard thing is to be able to use it without abusing it and drowning in the loads of opportunities and programs available. In the end it’s the result that is important. I tend to have less synths/effects and use them in a wider way instead.

DBS: You mention your labels, such as Phunctional Loungin', which releases Don Imuze and Eddie Silverton. How do you manage your labels while creating your music?

Jeff: It's a delicate balance. I don’t publish other artists for the simple reason that I don’t want to end up doing label work all day long. That being said, I’m always looking outside for possible collaborations. I have optimized the workflow of my labels so I do as little work as possible when scheduling a new release. This took time to do but it’s worth every minute invested many times over in the end.

DBS: You have a new lounge album coming out at the end of summer under your Eddie Silverton alias. What will this album sound like?

Jeff: Since I enjoy many sub genres of lounge music, I end up producing all of them as well. It’s electronic lounge, chillout, dub, lo-fi, downbeat. The overall vibe is positive lounge.

SR: Tell us a little about your process of writing electronic music - maybe you can use your upcoming album as an example. Do you rely on vinyl, tapes (i.e. analog) or lean more towards sophisticated software production like Albeton's Live (i.e. digital)?

Jeff: My foundation is Cubase SX, and the rest of my set up is based around that, software only though. I use a lot of sampled sounds from various sample CDs I have collected over the years. It’s funny how an old sample CD can sound different after not being heard for some time.

I tend to start at different points all the time, sometimes it’s a sample that kicks it, sometimes I play around on some keys, usually though the result doesn’t sound even near the starting point. There is always a strong sound leaving an impression that triggers the starting point of each track. That can be a sample, loop or lead that I play, that sound usually remains throughout the song.

SR: Do you have other passions in life other than music that motivates you?

Jeff: Besides music……Most of my private time I spend with my family, they are also my biggest source of inspiration. Besides that I workout every second day and play Squash once a week. Renovating the house also takes a lot of time, after that, there’s no more time left!

SR: We're always interested in learning about the finer things in music and life. Tell us what favorite meal you might serve with “Great Illusions”?

Jeff: That would be a pepper steak, potatoes, green pepper sauce, a couple of Red Stripe and rounding it up with a fine aged Rum like Zacapa Centenario. Listening to “Great Illusions” of course!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jack of all Trades - Downtempo Funk Video

This is one of my favorite songs off of Flashbaxx's Changing Tides EP. Its generally hard to come by downtempo and ambient music videos, but when you find 'em, they're gems. Check this video for Jack of all Trades, an animated space funk adventure that trips you out in only the best of ways...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Lava Experiments

Antimatter Music continues to give me great leads on downtempo and ambient music. The label, based out of Glasgow, Scotland, recently released The Lava Experiments first EP - Blackbody Vol. 1. This EP is the first in a trilogy, and I'm already awaiting the second and third installments.

Blackbody is five lush tracks from The Lava Experiments. Every track contributes to a beautiful ambient listening experience, they flow nicely together but are unique enough that they can stand alone. Tracks like "Electric Garden" and "Beautiful Crystal Hall" begin with synthed soundscapes that conjure images of cascading water or...churning lava. After the ambient introduction, organic drums and beats add a surprising layer of warmth. I was taken by the ambient, and then the melodic soft rock came in and added a complementary sound that enhanced the ambient and brought surprising energy to it.

Other tracks, such as "Organize the Box" and "Wake Up" keep a true ambient feel, while still establishing deeper sounds through downtempo drum beats, guitars and pianos. They are a bit experimental, introducing electronic sounds that are reminiscent of Brian Eno - in fact, this isn't the first time Lava Experiments has been compared to Eno.

Visit http://www.antimattermusic.co.uk/lavashop.html to get a copy of this limited edition EP. There are limited copies available, or you can stream and download tracks on iTunes.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Weeks of Listening


It's been a few weeks since my last post. Work has kept me very busy - travelling, clients, late nights. On top of that I'm moving out of my apartment in the fall so I've been trying to find a new place - hence I've neglected the Downbeatscape a bit. Though, I certainly haven't stopped listening...


The past few weeks I've been listening to some great music. Here's some I recommend, and I hope to review/post more about these soon:


- WMSE 91.7 FM, Frontier Radio out of Milwaukee (http://www.wmse.org/) - travelling to my hometown is rough b/c the radio, nor the trip hop or chillout scene, are very good; but the Milwaukee School of Engineering's college radio consistently shines - check out the morning shows - always more chill and during the summers are chock full of Reggae, dub and downtempo - especially Monday Morning's Putumayo World Music Hour


- Coldplay - Viva La Vida - Brian Eno produced album, really great stuff, very inspirational, emotional, ballad type work


- The Herbaliser - Same As It Never Was, Take London, Very Mercenary - this trio of albums combines UK produced trip-hop with male and female vocalists who rap and rhyme over jass and funk beats - you may have heard "The Sensual Woman" on the Snatch soundtrack


- 9th Wonder and Buckshot - The Formula - Two Southern rappers join on this album to tell tales of struggle and formula's for success through underground hip-hop struggles, nice beats and flows, recommended to me by my friend Jay, who has quickly become my source for all underground hip hop


- Thievery Corporation - Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi - my favorite Thievery album never gets old

Saturday, June 7, 2008

General Fuzz

Work has wasted the last week of my life - I truly need a chillout mood right now. The Downbeatscape email queue has been active these days, so I dont check my spam filter. But I did tonight - and among the "VI8AG9A You're A MILLION EURO BMW Price Pak Winner" emails I found a message from General Fuzz. Basically, it said "I give away music, listen some."

Bwah! His tunes are so chill. In the vein of my Brian Eno post, General Fuzz has some absolutely beautiful melodies. "Cool Aberrations" would be pure Eno ambient if you stripped the energy from Fuzz's electronica additions. Its beautiful, quirky, and heart-felt.

All of his music is available for free on his site under a Creative Commons agreement - basically his willingness to, and want, to help y'all ease into a good mood. The iciing on the cake is his descriptive and honest writing on his blog and site - he explains his creative motivations, the difficulties of the recording and distribution process, and the sincere obligation he feels to share his creations with us for free.

Summer's here, bust out the Fuzz.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Brian Eno

I'm really excited about Coldplay's new album "Viva La Vida." First reviews of it are really positive, saying it has the melodic beautiful rock and falsetto that Coldplay has made acceptable for living room loungin' or arena festivals. But what has me really excited is that it's produced by Brian Eno - the "father" of modern ambient music.

Eno started out in a glam rock band called Roxy Music in the 70's that didn't really go anywhere. He took his synthesizer and keyboard and started releasing solo work, both artfully and commercially, releasing albums such as "Music for Airports" that, well, was a soundscape for airports and other commercial settings. Eno has produced work with Paul Simon, Devo, David Bowie, U2, and now Coldplay, among many others.

His fluid ambient wasn't just elevator music, it was, as he puts it, music that "must accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting." (1978) To me that sums up the beauty of true ambient - you can fall into it as deep as you want, or you can use it as soundtrack for everyday life.

We've all heard his contributions to music, commercials, movies, even cell phones (Nokia released a limited edition Eno phone in 2007 that featured his music). One of his most famous compositions is "An Ending (Ascent)" from his 1982 "Apollo" album. This track has been sampled in countless house and techno remixes, but the original is true ambient, so beautiful...


Saturday, May 24, 2008

I missed Mr. Lif but found Sincere Underground Hip Hop

I'm in a very underground hip-hop kind of mood. I was hoping to see Mr. Lif at Paradise tonight in Boston, but last minute things fell through - i'm disapointed. But I downloaded Mo' Mega, its' good but not great. If you like Lif you'll like this, but its not absolutely necessary. Anyway, definitely though check out this track and video by Sincere ft. Natty - Once Upon a Time (just watch the video - found it on Certified Banger , seriously good underground hip-hop - I enjoyed it at least, more description below)

Sincere ft. Natty - Once Upon a Time

LONDON’ featuring Dizzie Rascals signing, D Double E as well as hot property Scorcher. He’s appeared in a television series – Dubplate Drama, made a movie, and set up and administered his own label YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS RECORDS. You certainly can’t accuse him of laziness.

“It’s been a busy period but I still feel I have a lot to achieve, I’ve taken so much from the last few years plus I’ve grown up a lot too”

His experiences in everyday life coupled with those in music have definitely made an impact on this young Londoner …

“It’s so easy just to get caught up in London, the roads, politics, life, music etc, but there’s a whole world out there and I want to reflect some of that”

SINCERE’S an artist that’s definitely feeling comfortable in his own skin, and the evidence is there for all to see on ‘ONCE UPON A TIME’, the first single from the new album ‘NOW OR NEVER’, which features ATLANTIC RECORDS signing Natty.

The album, NOW OR NEVER’, is due October 2008 and already features guest appearances from Skinnyman, John Blood, Natty, Sway and fellow Young Entrepreneur Mark Henry.

Production duties are being dealt with by P Nut [Dido / Amy Whinehouse / Faithless], Firstman [Hi Tek / Talib Kweli / Skinnyman / Lemar], Blak Jak, the man behind THAT’S NOT GANSTER’, [Miss Dynamite, Akala, Scorcher and Nathan], Res [Akala, Miss Dynamite] and Young Entrepreneurs very own in house beatsmith Godson [Sway / Scorcher].

Also look out for the sinceremusic.co.uk download mixtape available soon and featuring the mighty King’s of Leon. There’s more remix action with fellow N2 resident Natty on the remix of Cold Town. Plus look out for the HUGE video for ‘ONCE UPON A TIME’ coming to a screen near you soon.

Check online for updates
www.myspace.com/sincererap
www.sinceremusic.co.uk

For more info please contact
management@ye-records.com

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Flashbaxx - new downtempo out of Germany

I'll be the first to admit, some downtempo and chillout can get stale - much of it sounds alike, much of it is a more energetic take on soundscapes. I find the best downtempo takes a little bit from many genres and sub-styles of music. Thievery Corporation is one of the best and widely known examples of how to make downtempo stand out. You hear a Thievery track and you know its Eric Hilton and Rob Garza mixing up many influences and somehow making it work. This works best when they are going for energy. When they go for pure downtempo, its simplified, working with soulful electronica and slight jazzy backdrops.

I just received a downtempo EP from Flashbaxx - an artist out of Germany whose first release's title track, Livingroom Adventures, was featured on compilations by Tosca and Jazzanova nearly five years ago. Flashbaxx is back with The Changing Tides EP - an album that is born of acid jazz, commercial soundscapes and some signature downtempo that is reminiscent of the basic Thievery chillout that brought me into this type of music.

There are other comparisons I could make (Bonobo, Lemongrass, others) but I want to stick with Thievery. Flashbaxx's Voodoo Therapy is a true chillout track that builds on intermittent piano and guitar bursts with bongos that hint at Brazilian Jazz. "Stainless" and Sand Bank continue the chillout with even more lounge-like groove. These are sit back and relax tracks that employ echo effects and interesting electronic sounds to add to any lounge ambiance.

Another side of Flasbhaxx's EP is the funk-infused Jack of all Trades The name may imply that Flashbaxx is promoting its various styles (or I may just be thinking too hard), and it certainly showcases another type of music that Flashbaxx can manipulate (for our listening delight). However, as funk guitar chops along with horns, high hats, and soulful ladies humming in the background, this is as eclectic as we're going to get. Flashbaxx's Changing Tides is a true downtempo EP that is lovely to listen to, but don't expect too much beyond the chillout and a taste of funk. This is a very promising EP for Flashbaxx, I'm going to listen to this for many moons, and await what is next to come.



Monday, May 19, 2008

Don Imuze (aka Jeff Bennett) - Great Illusions on Phunctional Loungin

Don Imuze hunted me down. Not to scare me or play italian mobster, but to share his latest dub creation. Jeff Bennett, under his dub guise Don Imuze, releases some beautifully chill tracks at the end of May. Probably better known for his techno and house beats such as Smoke In the Shadow or Raindance, Jeff breaks out of the deep house on his Phunctional Loungin label.

Currently out on Beatsource.com (Beatport's alternative music source), Don Imuze's dub creations will be available digitally throughout many other digital stores on May 30.

Here are some of my favorite tracks from Don Imuze's upcoming release (click the title link above to listen to the entire album - I'm still working out kinks to embed music directly in my posts):

"Mahla" is a very simple downtempo groove that pulls no strings. It has slight slight undertones of dub but is more a chillout tune at heart. Twanging thumps that sound like an acoustic base provide the dub foundation and a sitar comes in to change it up and give it a borderline bhangra vibe. Its a very smooth chill tune.

"Bazzif" is the dub club tune, ready to mix. This track comes with a ready made, chilled dub foundation that is so solid yet subdued that you can throw something very cool on top of this to Frankenstein your own hip-hop dub creation. I smell Remix.

"Feverz" is my favorite dub on the album, its the purest as far as I can tell. Honestly, this track is straight fun. Sit under the trees and add this to your summer jammin' playlist. The relaxed funk guitar, choppy organ and flutish woodwind adding some lovely light flavor - making you think only of rum drinks and your hashish of choice. (Ok, I know hashish is Indian, but I'm in a hookah mood lately!)

All in all, check out Don Imuze. With the summer months cresting for many of us, this provides the midday or late evening downtempo that is best accompanied with a lounge chair and cold drink.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

RJD2 Live


Back in Nov/Dec of 2007 I wrote some commentary panning RJD2's "The Third Hand" - his latest installment. I kind of rescind my comments - I saw him live at Paradise in Boston on May 3 and "The Third Hand" came to life for me that night - and I actually had a chance to tell him quickly after the show. It all makes sense to me now too - I did some more digging and realized his first albums (progressive and fairly experimental trip-hop) were released on the Definitive Jux label which hosts more independent hip-hop artists such as Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif and C-Rayz Walz (heard of em? let me know if you haven't and I'll hook you up with some music - they're great).

So anyway, RJ is now with XL Recordings which releases the likes of Beck, Vampire Weekend, Tapes 'n' Tapes and the Raconteurs. This is a HUGE departure from Def Jux, and "The Third Hand" is a HUGE departure from RJD2's previous albums. I still like "Deadringer" and "Since We Last Spoke" more than Third Hand, but RJ did rock out on stage in between classics such as The Horror and Chicken Bone, and some improv Mario Bros soundtracks. He really showed some versatility, and he brought his creativity on the turntables to his guitar playing and general stage presence.

It was very cool too - at the end of the show he sat at the front of the stage and shook hands with his fans, I've seen few and far between do something like that, very classy, and made me like his beats even more.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mystic Man & Eshamanjaro "In Heavy Weather" - out May 12 on Fat! Records

Gotta’ love the trip-hop. Especially when established breaks artists, such as Merka, adopts his alter-ego Mystic Man and collaborates with UK hip-hop vocalist Eshamanjaro, a.ka. MC Esha, to release their first full length album - “In Heavy Weather.”

Combining Eshamanjaro’s heady rhymes with Mystic Man’s classically inspired, jazzy and modern electronic beats, the result is a collection of energetic and trippy tracks that are a lot of fun to keep up with.

And keep up we must. “Cheshire Cat” kicks off the album and sets the pace. The track has a breaks foundation that loops a quick top hat beat accentuated with piano flurries. Eshamanjaro introduces his voice through a frenetic flow that honestly doesn’t make much sense – his voice is the instrument and becomes an important element of the sound that I’m strangely okay with.

Tumbling drums, big band horns and pinball electronic sounds intro Esha as we begin to hear his persona on “The Rambler.” With a true hip-hop flare of self-promotion, he asserts himself as an MC “who has that rare ability to rock across senses with no sensibility.” Within the first two tracks, Mystic Man has shown that this album wouldn’t hold up without his mixing and mashing. Now Esha has to back up his “rare ability” and he does so through the rest of the album.

The remaining tracks range from somber downtempo to hip hop breaks and seriously funky acid jazz. “Keeper of the Flame” begins with a somber flute setting a whimsical and foreboding tone as strings and a siren’s voice hums along. Mystic Man conjures images of a conflicted man attempting to gather the last shards of self-respect after the love, pain and suffering that this mystery woman has caused him – “I raise up above the pain, remember my past self through the fading flame.” The woman explains that she is the “keeper of the flame,” though we begin to understand the complex relationship that the two have together, and the emotion that both are struggling with.

Eshamanjaro’s complex rhymes continue on “D’ah Quinta,” a masterful extension of “Flame” that demonstrates how Esha has been hardened by his experiences. The lyric “Dreams flicker, I miss nothing” is a powerful double-entendre in the context of this album. Though dreams change, Esha does not miss them, and yet, he also does not miss a thing – observing and reflecting on everything he experiences.

Dust intros delicate pianos while Eshamanjaro enters with a sensitive, yet aggressive opinion of the masses’ overall lack of self-awareness as they lope through life “pondering costs” and thinking “theology is thicker than blood.” Esha considers himself a model amongst them – “I’m the sun beam scuba diver, diving into life’s channels” and enjoying “the process of returning to dust.”

Other tracks, such as “Off It,” “New Jack Swing” and “Minds I” continue to show the versatility of this duo’s approach to trip-hop. “Off It” is a nu-jazz inspired track churning progressive beats in a disjointed, but fascinating way. You can listen to the electric keyboard crank out accentuating notes, or the quick drums providing a foundation, or Mystic Man’s scratching, bringing a ton of personality. “New Jack Swing” and “Minds I” are the closest approach to traditional hip-hop this duo gets, combining their eccentric style with traditional bass beats that often provide the base for the best hip-hop around.

Overall, this album is worthy of many listens, as it will take at least a few to truly appreciate all of the wonderful nuances and hidden secrets within this complex delivery of sound and rhyme.

“In Heavy Weather” is released by Fat! Records in the UK, and will be available in wide release on May 12, 2008. Listen to tracks in my TRACKLIST to the right, or visit www.thefatclub.com

Saturday, May 10, 2008

MUSIC PLAYER ADDED

I just added a music player to the right of the blog posts. I love Widgets - you can do so much. The music player gives all readers access to my LastFM playlist and you can listen to previews of songs directly on this site, or you can go to my playlist and listen to the full tracks. I'm also working on locating a cool application that will actually allow readers to listen to tracks that I've recently played in my iTunes library. I've found a few but they dont update very well. If you have suggestions let me know!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Beatport Music Awards 2008


Check out the Beatport Music Award winners of 2008. The best of the best in chillout, techno, dubstep, and more - a great collection of progressive and amazing artists and tracks.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Work it Out

Getting so excited for RJD2 tonight at the Paradise. Been listening to Deadringer and Instruments all day, and just watched the video for Work It Out - the crutch dancing in this is so visually entertaining. Check out the video - its putting me over the edge!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Turntable Lab

I've just finished perhaps the greatest online shopping experience of my life. I bought a new laptop (means more frequent blogging, and more up to date music info for y'all!) and was in search for a hip laptop bag so I went to Turntable Lab. I shop there for T-shirts and noticed they have awesome bags too. So i searched for bags, and ended up looking at Apple accessories for my iPod, then clicked on their MP3s and samples some nice Ghostly International compilations, and then decided I wanted a hoodie. Nice. My new favorite online shopping destination - turntablelab.com

Friday, April 4, 2008

Air is for the Ears

I was watching Air's "surfing on a rocket" music video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siJlPtWkmzw&feature=dir) enjoying the simple, smooth melodies and decided to see what Air is up to. I pleasantly saw this news:

MOON SAFARI - 10th anniversary reissue TO BE RELEASED April 15, 2008

To celebrate the band’s illustrious first 10 years, in which they have enjoyed many career-defining moments and countless critical accolades, Astralwerks is proud to present this expanded, deluxe version of “Moon Safari”, a beautiful artifact which no true AIR fan will want to miss out on.
This strictly limited edition release is a 3-disc package wrapped up in a collector case bound book (DVD-size)

(info pulled from AstralWerks web site - label that produces/distributes AIR)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Fat Jon the Ample Soul Physician


Cool to meet some young trip-hop and downtempo fans at a PR/marketing career fair this weekend. I'm representing my company and two girls I had met in passing moons ago approached to learn more. We started talking PR and somehow changed to music - Sigur Ros, Thievery Corporation, Massive Attack. So good to talk music in a completely random situation.

I referred one to Fat Jon the Ample Soul Physician for some smooth trip-hop. Fat Jon has created beats around the world, becoming known in Cincinnati underground early in the 90's, working in experimental hip-hop and eventually moving to Berlin. In Europe he met many collaborators, flowing over his and others' beats, reminiscent of his Cincinnati and Five Deez roots (his first collaborative group), but with an even more progressive sound. His mixology evokes early Roots with a trip-hop flavor and his rhymes, when he feels compelled, is reminiscent of Mos Def.

Click the heading to visit www.amplesoul.com and listen to some tracks.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jose Gonzalez

We all have a favorite club or concert hall or dive bar where you can see fantastic music every night of the week. In Boston, its Paradise Rock Club - the name is deceiving because I've seen amazing crooners, DJs, hippie jam sessions, you name it - all on the same stage.

Last Thursday I saw Jose Gonzalez there. As an acoustic soloist, he makes a song reverberate in your skull, his voice has an ethereal warmth that can shift from melancholy to gospel with the slightest change in pitch or tone. These two women who had never seen Jose before asked me what his sound is like - I described his musical style as a South American spin on the collaboration between Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, with the vocal qualities of Chris Martin from Coldplay, but even softer - and I think stronger, considering that he commands this comparison BY HIMSELF, with little or no backing vocals or instruments. BTW, Jose is Swedish, but his father is from Argentina.


Most people first heard of Jose when his single Heartbeats made it huge in Europe. I also heard of him at this time, and I cursed myself when I missed his free show last summer in Boston. His first album, Veneer, includes "Heartbeats," "Love Stain," "All You Deliver," "Crosses," and more - these four songs are my favorite. On his newest album, In Our Nature, he follows up the success of Heartbeats with folksy, yet driving, acoustic tracks such as "Killing for Love" and an amazing cover of Massive Attack's "Teardrop." Both albums are so versatile - his range blows right up when you hear a few tracks in succession. Listen to this at a cocktail party or on a picnic in the park, or during a run outside. Whatever it is, Jose will get you.


click the link above to go to his site, his tracks should start playing when you get there - so good


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Torpedo Boyz - Cum on Feel the Boyz


(This is my latest review, as written for http://www.properlychilled.com/)

Torpedo Boyz launch into their second album, "Cum on Feel the Boyz," guilt-free and laughing, saying please enjoy, but don't take us too seriously. A funk, groove-hop sound at its core, Torpedo Boyz squeeze square-peg break beats into Japanese import pop. After a full listen, the tracks fall into two camps: freaky fun dance-worthy, or studio punk-funk that falls short on the Boyz' sophomore effort.

The Torpedo Boyz – Kentastic and Rollin Hand – produce energetic, free-wheel funk that sits low on its haunches, beats you over and over with tight snares and bass lines that kick from terse riffs to electro-pop punk jams.

The Boyz are at their finest when sticking to their guns – producing great funk rock songs that can shimmy in the lounge or jam in the club. "The Disco Song" says it all with melodic strings delivering the highs while quick snares and a funky bass line create a foundation for Daft Punk style samples. Another track, "The Next Station Is: Shibuya," further showcases Torpedo Boyz style. The tune builds on a resonating electric keyboard, layered over funky wah'ed out guitar.

Though I can't understand a word of "Curry Rice," it's another tune that hones in on Torpedo Boyz roots. The song fuses funk with kinetic pop and Japanese lyrics that could be the soundtrack to "Ocean's 11" if it were an Asian Cult Film.

These tracks deliver, but others scream "where'd the creativity go!?" "Around Da Corner" begins the puzzle, starting simply enough with a basic bass and top-hat drum combo. And here starts the trend – lyrics enter and immediately are the centerpiece of the song. Except they lack originality or wit. Suddenly the base of the song is the vocal delivery and the un-interesting story. The track underneath is mixed well, using a sitar and horns to add substance, but the lyrics are too distracting.

This continues on "Where is Tony Masao?" and "I Can't Make It On Time." The tracks distance themselves from Torpedo Boyz funk and introduce a completely different pop-punk sound that features, again, lyrics that just aren't interesting. In "Tony Masao" a redundant punk guitar frames a gangster wannabe who goes missing, and we're glad he stays lost. "I Can't Make It On Time" again holds the lyrics as the centerpiece of the song. Studio pop creeps in both the lyrics and generic punk guitar – and we wonder if this is an ill-conceived effort to appeal to mainstream tweens.

Torpedo Boyz excel when they are perfecting their style – funk and eclectic sounds that resonate in dancehalls across the land. "Cum on Feel the Boyz" has its good tracks, but gets muddled in pop-punk experiments. ~ Erik Dawson

Saturday, February 9, 2008

ESL Web Site Redesign

So Thievery Corporation and ESL Music don't need any help with attention. But I just checked out their redesigned web site and love it. It really puts the ESL artists front and center, highlighting new releases and tour dates. Gotta help us see the artists we love.

In other news, posts have been slow b/c work has been extremely busy. Oh and my laptop blew up - literally. I'm sitting on my couch watching TV, writing some emails - and the computer goes ZZZZT! Geek Squad informs me an electrical malfuntion fried my processor and motherboard. Thank goodness my hard drive is okay, but like a schmuck, i didnt' back it up. So I'm not downloading any music until I get my new laptop -- Its painful.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mika

Went to see Mika tonight at the Orpheum in Boston. Mika is a performance artist. He's a singer-song writer from Europe, very disco-pop and funk infused sound. very fun, very emotional. NOT CHILL. but inspires the same kind of feeling you might get from Sounds from the Ground or Thievery Corporation. Its organic in the sense that its such a natural feeling, and Mika's songs - about lovin' "big girls" and livin' life and not worryin about the love you long for, are so real and yet not tacky - fun songs that make sense, love songs that arent' so damn sappy.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Langerado Music Festival

Langerado Music Festival is 3 glorious days in the sun of South Florida's everglades from March 6-9.

Langerado features an eclectic variety of artists, including R.E.M., Beastie Boys, Phil Lesh & Friends, 311, Matisyahu, Ani DiFranco, Thievery Corporation, the Roots, and 80 additional acts.

I'd totally go to this but I probably can't unless I get free tickets, so I found a Sweepstakes that you can enter to win tickets. Glide Magazine is doing a promo, all you do is go to Glide's web site, click the title above, and enter the sweepstakes. I figure, why the hell not.

And if anyone is going to this, can I bum a ride?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Eno as Soundtrack

A few posts ago I brought up the idea of ambient and chill-out music as perfect movie and TV soundtracks. Film and shows often use the underappreciated mood music to set the tone of some scene or dialogue. I'm working on a video right now at work to convey a new philanthropy program to a client of mine, and the music is a major piece of what's making or breaking it. (In fact, in the storyboards i developed, I describe the ideal soundtrack as "ambient")

So skip to today, my buddy and I are driving home from a day snowboarding, and I put on the Trainspotting soundtrack. As Brian Eno's "Deep Blue Day" comes on, my friend immediately say, "oh!! this is from the scene where they get high on heroin for the first time!" The reason he remembered that scene? B/c of Eno's perfectly synced lullaby, a beautiful soundscape that makes you feel like you're floating, or high.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Endorsement - Dancing

This weekend I danced, I found spots and events where i could dance to the downtempo breaks i love, and the house and techno that make me move.

Thursday night I started slow, going to Bar 10 in boston for a swanky warm-up: no dancing, just mingling and grooving to some euro-lounge for my friends birthday. Then to the Bee Hive in boston's south end. Very cool acid jazz spot where they don't really help you out unless you know what you're doing - where to stand, what to order, how to dress. Sounds pretentious, but it was not. Head downstairs to the cavernous bar and listen to live jazz with a cocktail, or get dinner reservations and spend an evening up close and personal with your date and the band.

Friday was when the real dancing began. Went to a live bossa nova show at Estate. I was expecting a pretentious Boston clubbing crowd, but was treated to a lovely, eclectic mix of people, art and music ranging from the promised bossa nova, to Brazilian drum & bass, and then to a beautiful mix of creative deep house - courtesy of my DJ friend, Enrique Florendo (www.deepboston.com) I danced all night and headed home exhausted.

Saturday was spent with Niressa, who introduced me to Underbar and the afterhours club Rise. This was truly a clubbing evening, mostly techno and house, and lots of water and Monster after the alcohol stopped flowing at 2. I hadn't stayed out so late in months, and i had a fantastic time, moving with the beats.

So it was an electronic, eclectic and electric weekend, of friends new and old, and me doing what i love and resolve to do more.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

In Flight - Chilled Beats at 30,000 Feet

(My second album review for Properly Chilled - read it below or at the site www.properlychilled.com)

Water Music Records brings us another compilation to lounge and, well, fly to. "In Flight – Chilled Beats at 30,000" soothes flying nerves or stows away in your ears as the stewardess announces you've reached cruising altitude and portable electronic devices are now allowed. "In Flight's" elemental ambient and smooth jazz accompanies any journey, serving relaxing downtempo tracks from 25 international artists.

"In Flight's" two disks complement each other well. The first travels the world, as each ambient track charts a course from Paris to Rio to Rome and elsewhere. The second disk (previously released individually as "Sky Lounge: Chilled Beats at 30,000 Feet") is less a journey through countries as it is a more aggressive presentation of international approaches to nu-jazz and bossa nova.

Rivera Rotation's "Sundowner" opens disk one with elemental pianos and classical guitar which makes the red eye to Paris feel like a lazy jaunt down the French Riviera. Alas, we must leave France, and Sepia's "Last Tango in Paris" keeps us in the realm of dreamy pianos and wavy instrumentals but introduces a jazzy dance beat that allows you to shift between classical melodies and funky downbeat bass. Leaving Paris, Giacomo Bondi seamlessly transitions on "Crossing the Ocean to Rio." Waves, seagulls and elemental ambiance create a cliched, but wonderful image of sandy Rio beaches.

We continue our journey – to Rome, India and the Far East. Timax's latin-inspired acid jazz on "Flight Over Rio" reminds us that in some parts of the world, movement and culture are more important than power and influence. Mazachigno takes us on "The Last Flight to Rome," a beautiful and almost melancholy track with a piano that demands emotion. In India, Mykej's other-worldly sitar echoes over rolling drums on "Sitar in the Sky." Gongs and muffled snares end our journey in the Far East with Hikkadua's "Sunsets."

The second disk transitions to popping acid jazz on Yonderboi's "Pabadam" and De-Phazz's "Jazz Music." Thievery Corporation's "State of the Union" is the only real taste of bhangra-infused dub on "In Flight." "Glider Girl" from Easy Access Orchestra is a Studio 54 inspired orchestral remix of jazzy dancehall that shows the other side of "In Flight's" beats – though they are not as chilled as the first disk.

Water Music features many "In Flight" artists on other compilations, including "Jazz Lounge" series, "Spa Sessions" "Tantra Lounge" "Breakfast Club – Milan, London, Paris" "CafĂ© Del Sol" and the "Chill Out Lounge" series. After releasing dozens of successful compilations with familiar artists, Water Music continues to explore themes to deliver elemental and ambient listening experiences, whether in the air or on the ground.

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