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Review of Recondite album by Dead Sea Apes on Cardinal Fuzz — December 20, 2018

Review of Recondite album by Dead Sea Apes on Cardinal Fuzz

Recondite was released on Vinyl by Cardinal Fuzz and these have unfortunately sold out. However, the album is available in digital format from Dead Sea Apes’ Bandcamp page and is embedded at the top of this post.

This is a monster album weighing in at about an hour and 3/4 long. It’s a superb collection of distortion soaked psych with drones, jams, solos, feedback and great use of effects. There’s an excellent intensity and brooding quality at times too. 

Tentacles (version) [Featuring Adam Stone]

A superb opener, it’s psych with a heavy dub element and a jam feel. The bass and drumming provide a solid laid back groove with guitar chords, 8 bit sound effects and guitar lead weaving in and out of the groove.  There’s brilliant use of delay and reverb to create a dub feel. The vocals are superb with increasing angst creating an excellent tension. 

Coronal

An evolving opening with sparse drumming / percussion and drone, bass and guitar.  It’s a brooding slow jam building momentum with jangly guitar riffs and subtle lead. 

Planet V

Guitar lead line and jangly strummed chords are propelled by bass and drums leading into a solo. It’s an excellent jam. 

True Believers (version)

A similar brooding opening from drone, drumming and guitar lead, it bursts into distorted riffing returning to the more laid back groove building tempo to another distorted section, returning to laid back groove and building tension to a final release. 

Land of the Sun (featuring Gabriel Minnikin)

Distorted, tremelo guitar to open with ride cymbal and huge reverb guitar creates a siren like opening leading into an edgy jam propelled by bass with distorted lead, intense drumming and subtle spoken vocals that have a menacing feel. 

The Recognition (for Standing Rock)

A laid back feel to the opening with bass, slightly distorted guitar chords / riff and subtle drumming. A string type sound gives an almost Celtic feel. It’s a brooding tension with reflective qualities. 

Universal Translator

A pulsing opening from guitar with bass and drumming, a delayed guitar lead creates a great tension. Another excellent jam slowly building tempo and tension with distorted guitar riffs and solo. 

Lupine Wavelength

Strummed chords and riff to open with laid back drumming, there’s a brooding quality to the song with a building intensity from guitar solo and drumming with a release to end. 

Ruckstoss Gondoliere

Delayed sound effects to open, an atmospheric opening with guitar lead and great use of wah wah. It’s a slow jam, sparse bass and drumming build to a more defined groove with the guitar solo intensifying. The energy and tempo slowly build to a release with the song ending as it started with delayed effects. 

Rethreads

Reversed drum sounds and guitar to open, the song builds momentum with feedback and very distorted riff, it’s an edgy sound with a great tension and excellent changes in feel. 

Vamos Companeros

Uptempo drumming to open, distorted riff and delayed muted chords gives a solid groove. It’s an excellent jam with intensity and energy. 

Wilder Penfield (Penfield’s Mood Organ Mix)

Subtle drumming to open with emerging bass and guitar riff, it’s a groove with a distorted tremelo type riff and feedback effects building momentum to a guitar solo and release. 

Sunwolf: Lotus Island (Dead Sea Apes remix)

Ride cymbal and bass to open, vocals add a great element. Guitar riff adds a tension, it’s an atmospheric track with subtle changes in feel, superbly controlled. 

Knowledge and Conversation (Live at the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge)

Bass and guitar effects / feedback to open, drumming gives a more defined momentum. it’s a brooding opening leading into a guitar riff with a kind of Eastern vibe. It’s an excellent jam with superb lead / solos. 

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Review of Archives Vol. II: Live Roughs by The Myrrors — December 19, 2018

Review of Archives Vol. II: Live Roughs by The Myrrors

This is two fuzz-drenched, in-the-red live documents from the early years of the band’s second incarnation (2014-2015). This release is an extremely limited-edition, handmade lathe record, cut on vintage, re-furbished machines by Lock Grooves, part of Tucson’s renowned Lathe Cut Collective. These records are each made individually, locally, and in real time and are perhaps to be thought of more as art pieces than conventional 45s. 

Lock Grooves say “these records do not always play well on all turntables, especially cheap turntables without a weighted tonearm. However, they have all been play tested to make sure that they track on a properly weighted record player. Lighter tonearm weight and neutral anti-skating works best. Sometimes the needle will get caught in between the grooves and sound awful. You can usually gently nudge the needle sideways into the bottom of the groove, which should fix the problem. Inexpensive players with red cartridges/needles in particulars tend to have more problems than professional cartridges.  Please keep in mind that these are not nearly as high-fidelity as conventional vinyl records, but will not damage your needle!”

Unfortunately the limited run of 30 has long since sold out, however the digital version embedded at the top of this review is available from The Myrrors Bandcamp page.

These are two excellent tracks. Saturnus Ringar is a cover of the track by
Swedish underground legends Älgarnas Trädgård. An evolving drone and sound effects to open create an edge of tension broken perfectly by a distorted guitar lead that has an ethereal presence. Drumming and bass add momentum. It’s an edgy sounding song building tension to a final release.

Eyes of Copper (Excerpt) has an excellent laid back groove to open, the riffing, lead and drumming create a chanting kind of feel. It has a superb build and release of tension.  

Review of Lancinantes drone synth (32 / 64 bit VST and AU) by Inear Display —

Review of Lancinantes drone synth (32 / 64 bit VST and AU) by Inear Display

Introduction

Lancinantes is a drone synthesiser plugin from Inear Display. It doesn’t have an amplitude control envelope meaning that its oscillators are free running generating a constant sound. Three special additive oscillators are layered, allowing the creation of chords that can be conformed to a melodic scale. The oscillators are built around harmonic combinations applying random amplitude modulation to create perpetual subtle variations. New sets of harmonics can manually be regenerated at will.

A mixer section allows you to adjust individual oscillators levels as well as the amplitudes of a sub-oscillator and a white noise generator. The mixer output then goes through a resonant filter, an overdrive, a delay, and a reverb to further shape the sound.

Most of the settings can be set to random values thanks to a versatile randomizer section.

It is available from Inear Display in 32 & 64 bit VST and AU versions typically priced at 39 Euros + VAT.

In-depth review

The GUI has a clean, minimal feel and is easy to use and learn. It has a re-sizable interface and can be described in 9 separate parts.

The menu is located at the bottom of the display, it has a settings cog with options to reset to default values, show presets folder and show preferences file. You can also load and save presets.

The notes section allows you to set the note for oscillator one and offset oscillators 2 & 3 relative to this. You can set the scale root note and there are a number of scales you can choose including chromatic, major, minor and a number of more exotic scales. When the keytrack button is toggled (small keyboard) oscillator 1 is bypassed and the note used will be the last received midi note to allow you to sequence melodic progressions from your DAW.

The mixer module allows you to adjust the amplitudes of the three oscillators and also the sub-oscillator and noise although these do not have any controls apart from levels in the mixer.

The filter module has a low pass or high pass filter, cutoff, resonance and post-filter overdrive settings.

The delay has the expected delay time, feedback and mix settings as well as a handy feedback damping frequency control.

Lancinantes has a simple reverb with size, damping and feedback controls.

The master module has controls for the number of harmonics generated for each oscillator (increasing this has an impact on CPU usage) and a global output amplitude.

The randomiser section is a great addition allowing you to randomise settings for specific sections or everything at once.

The final part is the visualiser giving a graphic representation of what is happening.

Conclusions

This is an excellent drone synth, It’s very easy to learn and use and can produce a wide range of sounds from dark evolving textures, metallic sounds, feedback type sounds to wind type sounds and many more. The movement in the produced sound is subtle but gives brilliant tonal variation.

Because it has a continuous output, it feels more like a hardware unit than software. It’s perfectly suited to automation, volume is a parameter that particularly comes to mind but equally automating other controls can yield some very interesting results as can manipulating parameters in real time and of course applying external effects offers lots of further potential.

I’ve used it on the two albums embedded at the beginning of this post. I’ve used it on tracks 2, 3 and 4 of ‘welcome, stranger’ for background effects and have processed instances of Lancinantes with a range of effects – Convex (Glitchmachines); Octavox, H3000 Band Delays, H949 Dual Harmoniser (Eventide); Litote (Inear Display). This was recorded in MuLab 7 using Scaler to create chord progressions and Carbon Electra (both PluginBoutique) as the sole synth.

I’ve used multiple instances of Lancinantes on ‘a peculiar sense of oppression’ processed with a variety of effects – Subvert, Cryogen (Glitchmachines); Kuvert (Klevgrand); Incipit, Litote (Inear Display); H3000 Factory, H949 Dual Harmoniser, SP2016 Reverb, Blackhole (Eventide); VHL3C, Blackface SC5 (Black Rooster Audio). These were recorded as one-take live recordings in Usine Sensomusic Hollyhock 3. Both albums were mastered in MuLab 7 using Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Stage (Fiedler Audio) and Elevate (Newfangled Audio).

Review of Lavine album by Moist on I/O Records — December 11, 2018

Review of Lavine album by Moist on I/O Records

This is a brilliantly atmospheric album, it’s a superb sound that’s really difficult to describe, it has a chilled vibe at times, others it’s infused with a synthwave feel, others it’s an indie pop feel. There’s a brilliant balance between atmospheric and an edge of tension, it has a haunted beauty kind of feel. 

Saga

Atmospheric piano and vocals to open, it’s a reflective track with bass adding a excellent element with the slow pitch slide to end. 

Traces

Synth bass to open given momentum with drumming and synth lead. Vocals have a dreamy quality, the song has a brooding quality that opens up in the chorus.

Stars

Bass and piano give a very atmospheric opening, beautiful vocals again. The song slowly builds, the percussive rhythm gives momentum layered with an arp. Great changes in feel and just an edge of tension. 

Firefly

Bass, synth, drumming, vocals and piano create a chilled opening with an edge of tension from distorted bass and layered background effects. Nice change of feel into the chorus. 

Worlds 

Another atmospheric opening with pad, layered background sounds and synth riff. The vocals have a haunting beauty. I really like how the momentum builds slowly, it’s subtle and very effective. 

Berlin

Another atmospheric opening with synth and reversed synth, floaty vocals and the piano adds a great element. Drumming and bass give a great momentum. The layering is excellent, superb balance between softer and harder elements. 

Cold

Bass, synth and pad to open, there’s a great contrast between the momentum of the bass and drums against the laid back vocals. 

World’s Collide (mix)

Vocals grab and hold your attention, supported by bass and subtle background effects. Nice change of momentum with an arp and drums and great contrast against the pad. The song has trance qualities. 

She

Piano bass and vocals to open, a slow contemplative feel with a subtle change in momentum. It’s a beautiful song, haunted but also with an optimism. 

No One Knows

Vocals, bass and piano to open, it’s a slow groove with a slow build and release of  momentum with just an edge of tension. 

Review of The Myrrors – Archive Vol. 1 – Lunar Halo on Cardinal Fuzz & Sky Lantern Records — December 9, 2018

Review of The Myrrors – Archive Vol. 1 – Lunar Halo on Cardinal Fuzz & Sky Lantern Records

Lunar Halo saw release in late 2017 on cassette tape via the bands own in-house label “Organic Music Society”. For vinyl, Lunar Halo has been mastered by Chris Hardman and comes with a download code which plays Lunar Halo as one complete piece. 

Availability on vinyl is very limited, at the time of writing Cardinal Fuzz have only 2 black vinyls in stock for European customers; The Myrrors have vinyl available for US customers and it is also available in digital formats from The Myrrors Bandcamp site that is embedded above. 

Lunar Halo captures The Myrrors in full circular raga mode, transporting you from the rainy confines of Café Passe in Tucson Arizona to the free flowing communal progg freakdom of late 60’s / early 70s Scandinavia. 

Lunar Halo is a blissful laid back groove with sitar type instruments, evolving drones, guitar effects and a guitar lead with an edge of distortion / feedback building tension before returning to the laid back groove. That may seem a very short review.  Considering it’s just shy of half an hour long, it certainly doesn’t feel anywhere near that long listening to it because it’s so absorbing.  And that’s really the essence of the review – sit back and listen.  It’s stunning.

Review of False Memories of Rainy Days album by Supply Fi and Belial Pelegrim on Triplicate Records — December 6, 2018

Review of False Memories of Rainy Days album by Supply Fi and Belial Pelegrim on Triplicate Records

There’s a superb flow to this album, it has a sound that is really hard to pin down and describe, it’s a range of electronic styles that are fused and blended extremely well, often in the same song. 

It’s really well crafted, an excellent range of synth sounds, layered effects and drum grooves with great contrast between ambient and edgier sounds. It’s a captivating sound, one that grabs and holds your interest.

Triplicate Records have very kindly provided some Bandcamp redeem codes for the album, you’ll have to be quick though, these will go fast!

  • sygl-3dr4
  • hxjh-6mb2
  • j4gh-y6sh
  • 7c2s-b6h5
  • Redeem the codes here 

Windfarer

A pulsing sound effect to open, drums and bass give a solid momentum that contrasts really well against the synth sounds. I really like the layered arps, they add an excellent atmosphere and change in feel. 

750ft. Chess Piece

Industrial sounding drums to open with atmospheric background sounds, it’s an edgy groove with a great contrast between the harsher elements and ambience. Nice changes of feel through the song. 

Astral Animal

A dub groove to the opening leading into a solid dub vibe with a hint of dubstep. The synth riff is kind of disconcerting and contrasts excellently against the ambience. A great edge of tension to the track. 

Slippery Lawn Darts

Bass riff to open, evolving synth sounds create a great tension. Drums / percussion give a great momentum. A real edge of tension and excellent layering. The Sax adds a great element. 

Scabies

A more uptempo feel to the opening with drumming and delayed synth riff, excellent background sound effects and layering give an 8-bit feel to the song at times. 

Pewter Totem

Atmospheric piano is accompanied by almost house-type chords leading into a delayed guitar groove. It’s a fusion of styles, an ambience at times, distorted industrial sound at others. 

Locust V Grasshopper

Delayed synth sounds to open, squelchy bass is excellent. Superb layering, it’s quite an edgy sound with great contrasts. 

Fibroblast

An ambience with an edge to open, layered background sounds add a great tension. An almost jazz feel to the drums and bass, distorted electric piano adds a great element. Great contrasts again. 

Third Order Rainbow

Jazz drumming to open leading to a more subdued groove, excellent rhythmic elements and background sound effects create an excellent groove leading to an industrial feel then an ambience and then a return to the groove. 

Concealing a Secondary Meaning

Rhythmic percussion and electric piano / piano to open, it’s a reflective sound that builds with strings, bass and synth sounds. Great changes in feel. 

Star City Experiments

Bass riff to open, drumming gives an excellent momentum.  Layered sound effects add to the groove. Vibraphone type sound is a great touch with a nice release before returning to a groove to end. 

Bonus track

This is a gapless playback of the full album.

Cities and Memory launch Sounding Nature Project – explore the sounds of nature with almost 500 sounds and 250 contributing artists — November 26, 2018

Cities and Memory launch Sounding Nature Project – explore the sounds of nature with almost 500 sounds and 250 contributing artists

After months of work, Cities and Memory launch their biggest ever global sound project, Sounding Nature.

The project uses artistic responses to sound to reflect on the damage being done to our natural world by human-generated sounds such as shipping, logging, drilling and even everyday traffic.

There’s a global sound map of nature sounds, as well as a bespoke player that allows you to explore the sounds by category, from wild birds to natural phenomena. 

From Chile to Japan and from South Africa to Iceland, the project covers incredible sounds like: 

  • Animals from all over the world including hyenasbaboonsbatssealions and howler monkeys;
  • Natural phenomena including cracking glaciers, crunching salt flats, bubbling geysers and volcanic activity;
  • Incredible sonic environments from jungles and savannah to swamps, cliff edges and desert.
  • More than 50 bird recordings including fish eagles, whooper swans, cranes, herons and nightingales;
  • 50 sounds of water, from roaring ocean waves to underwater shrimp recordings. 

I’m delighted to have contributed to the project, especially as one of my submissions has been selected for the highlights album embedded at the top of the post.  Thunder in Tanat Valley and Hurricane Harvey were re-imagined specifically for this project whereas Botany Bay – Breaking Waves (Our Lady is Also the Moon) recorded with Kim Reuger and Midnight on a Volcanic Island (Eye of the Storm) were submitted previously.

The Tanat Valley is a stunningly beautiful part of Wales, unspoilt by development.  In the middle of a storm it can be a lonely and desolate place and my submission tries to capture some of the feelings and emotions inspired by the landscape and sound recording.  I’ve kept a large part of the original recording and used Orb Composer (Hexachords) to create orchestration parts for the British Drama Toolkit (Spitfire Audio) and processed these with a number of effects – RP Verb 2 (Rob Papen); Blackhole, H949 Dual Harmoniser, H3000 Factory, Ultrachannel (Eventide) and Type A (AudioThing).

If you’re feeling inspired to take part. either to submit to a future project or submit your own recordings, full details of how to get involved can be found on the contact page of the Cities and Memory website.

Review of ‘Find the Ways’ album by Allred & Broderick on Erased Tapes — November 25, 2018

Review of ‘Find the Ways’ album by Allred & Broderick on Erased Tapes

I really like the stripped back arrangements of the songs – violin and bass accompanied by vocals that create a deep and captivating sound that holds your interest with sad stories and often a lamenting feel. 

It’s a sound somewhere between folk and bluegrass and there’s a hint of classical at times too. The stripped back feel and arrangements really highlight the quality of instrumentation and vocals. 

Living on A Wire

Violin and bass to open, there’s a sparse arrangement accompanied by beautiful harmonised vocals. It’s a folk / bluegrass type of sound with a slow groove. 

The Wise One

Violin has a kind of urgency creating a tension. Another sparse arrangement of violin and bass with vocals telling the story with a kind of call and response feel at times. 

Two Otters

Violin and bass create an uplifting and optimistic feel with a change to a more reflective / contemplative sound returning to the more optimistic feel to end. 

Hey Stranger

Slow violin and bass create a tension and slow groove accompanied by more spoken vocals. It has a kind of lamenting feel, a story full of sorrow. 

Four Aspens

An instrumental track, another slow groove from bass and violin, it has an edge of sorrow with an increasing urgency building and releasing tension. 

The Ways

An acapella track with great harmonies and an excellent ethos and message. 

Hesitation

Atmospheric opening with violin and ghostly vocals leading into spoken vocals. It’s a kind of introduction into the next song. 

I’m not Crazy

Almost a drone type of opening from violin accompanied by vocals. The song has a kind of Celtic feel with a reflective quality to the vocals.  Sparse violin lead is subtle and works really well. 

Ode to Angelica

Slow violin to open accompanied by bass, it’s a kind of lamenting sound with a build of tension to a release with a spoken name at the end. 

Robert, Please

Walking Bassline to open with percussive hits, violin is sparse and accompanies the bass really well. Vocals are somewhere between spoken and sung. 

VERMONA unleashes ultra-versatile generator for voltage curves and more as fourMative CONTOURS module — November 22, 2018

VERMONA unleashes ultra-versatile generator for voltage curves and more as fourMative CONTOURS module

VOGTLAND, GERMANY: electronic sound tools creator VERMONA is proud to announce availability of fourMative CONTOURS — its first ‘envelope’ entry to the ever-expanding Eurorack small-format modular system world without resorting to type, far exceeding the functionality of a traditional envelope generator and typically following the company’s naming scheme for its Eurorack modules to reflect the fact that it delivers up to four single-phase envelopes that can be combined to achieve much more complex voltage-controlled curves.

VERMONA makes no secret of its admiration for the classic ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) envelope generator; indeed, it is well versed in its strengths, having implemented various versions into its desktop devices over the years. Yet the company collectively decided that its first Eurorack-compatible envelope generator should not resort to type, instead rising to the challenge of realising a unique and flexible concept without compromises being made.

Mission accomplished? Actually, the prototype presented its erstwhile ecstatic creators with an unforeseen headache: how to name a module which was planned as an envelope generator but ended up exceeding expectations by so far? Fortunately for VERMONA, various proposals were supportively submitted to Twitter in response to a small survey. Settling upon fourMative CONTOURS, the company collectively felt that this does not pin down the module’s function to being that of just another envelope generator, but rather reflected its purpose while typically following VERMONA’s Eurorack module naming scheme.

So what warranted the fourMative CONTOURS name, and what, exactly, does this module do differently? First and foremost, fourMative CONTOURS delivers up to four single-phase envelopes that can be combined to achieve much more complex voltage-controlled curves. Therefore, the module itself features four individual channels (or units in ‘VERMONA-speak’), numbered accordingly on its front facia. Flexibly, each unit can be switched into A (attack), D (decay), or H (hold) MODE — with the attack and decay phases switchable between operating with a LIN (linear) or EXP (exponential) response SHAPE — and can be used individually or in any combination. Those tasty features alone are enough to set fourMative CONTOURS apart from the Eurorack envelope generator pack, putting it in prime position for handling many modulation tasks.

The envelopes themselves are seriously snappy; each unit can run within a TIME range of 0.5 milliseconds through to 30 seconds, switchable between perfectly balanced fast and SLOW speed settings to ensure smooth adjustments, with the former geared towards creating crisp and percussive sounds. Saying that, that’s only half the story here, however, since those fourMative CONTOURS units are each equipped with a CV IN (control voltage input) that not only allows the times to be modulated but also extends them in both directions — down to 25 µs and up to 10,000 seconds, so if a two-hour-long envelope is needed then fourMative CONTOURS can handle it!

Individual units can be looped or combined with other units using simple internal patching connections to create more complex envelopes. Thanks to those extended frequency ranges, fourMative CONTOURS can creatively also function as an LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) or even an audio oscillator.

On the face of it, fourMative CONTOURS clearly goes far beyond the capabilities of standard envelope generators, and anyone looking for a versatile modulation source should surely consider giving it a try. The creators themselves are quietly confident that there are many more scenarios where fourMative CONTOURS can be pressed into play, filling in some equally exotic Eurorack small-format modular system blanks, so-to-speak — not just the 24HP/3U rack space the module itself obviously occupies!

Shipping now, fourMative CONTOURS is available to purchase through VERMONA’s growing global network of dealers with an RRP of €399.00 EUR (Europe) and $489.00 USD (USA).

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated fourMative CONTOURS webpage.

elysia turns to metallic meteorites for latest limited-edition 500 Series hardware inspiration — November 21, 2018

elysia turns to metallic meteorites for latest limited-edition 500 Series hardware inspiration

NETTETAL, GERMANY: high-end studio processor manufacturer elysia is delighted to unveil its aptly-named xpressor 500 meteor — a new limited-edition version of its best-selling xpressor 500 compressor that remains the same sonically, but boasts a completely unique appearance reminiscent of metallic meteorites found in the greatest natural science museums all over the world.

The thrilling 3D-structured surface of the special aluminum involved in making the xpressor 500 meteor live up to its name was never meant to be used for front panels of high-grade audio equipment, not least that its pleasing patterns are actually the result of gigantic buzz saws used to cut the massive blocks into big slices.

This rough surface is not exactly easy to work with, however; yet — after many experiments — elysia has managed to create a smooth, anodized panel with all the details reflecting beautifully in changing light. Labeling has been burned into the highly-structured aluminum with a special MOPA laser.

“We are very happy that we could tame this tough material and finally turn it into high-grade faceplates,” says elysia co-founder Dominik Klassen. “It has certainly been a lot of effort, but the result is simply breathtaking.”

The xpressor 500 meteor is strictly limited to 100 modules worldwide and is available for purchase from select elysia dealers.

The xpressor 500 meteor can be seen and heard on elysia’s YouTube channel