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Review of Quadrant effects VST by Glitchmachines — June 29, 2015

Review of Quadrant effects VST by Glitchmachines

If you’ve read my previous review of Cataract and Polygon, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Glitchmachines VSTs and Quadrant is another brilliant offering. This one is not an instrument as such, rather it is a modular effects VST.

Quadrant

 

As with other VSTs, the UI for Quadrant is excellently designed with a great work flow. There are a number of excellent presets, some of which generate sound and others which can be applied to a sound source such as a synth or a sample loop. An example preset is shown above. In fact you don’t have to look far for some samples to try it out on – the download comes with a whopping 1.6Gb of samples – that’s more than 1,500 in total.

The real fun starts when you begin to create your own presets. Upon loading, the VST opens with the init patch which looks kind of bare.

Quadrant init patch

What you have is the effect in bypass mode, the input is linked directly to the output. You also have 8 blank effect slots and 26 different modules to choose from: mono delay; stereo delay; filter; pitcher; reducer; clipper; distortion; fold; waveshaper; noise; fm oscillator; mono gainer; stereo gainer; mono mixer; dual mono mixer; stereo mixer; envelope follower; lfo; midi; meta controller; quad scaler; add / sub; mult / div; random in; random out; lag.

Once you’ve loaded your selected modules, you then need to patch them together using virtual cables. What I really like is the colour and size coding that shows inputs as the larger light grey circles and outputs are the smaller dark grey circles making it very easy to identify where your cables need to go and you can have more than one cable on an input or output. I also really like the fact that the possibilities to patch them together are nearly endless – for instance filters and delays can be wired in series or parallel with or without an LFO or envelope; mixers allow you to split and or combine signals and so on.

The effect of patching is demonstrated in the short example below. I’ve taken a vocal sample from the Dirty Tech Vocals 2 sample pack by Sharp Label, played it clean and then played it through 2 filter delays with the same settings but different patchings as shown below. The third effect is a more extreme delay with modulation and pitch shifting.

 

Quadrant filter delay

Quadrant filter delay

 

I’ve also created an example song called ‘Dark Winter’ which is embedded below. I created this using 4 instances of Quadrant and 1 instance of Subvert also by Glitchmachines. The song uses loops from the Winter Tech sample pack from Sharp Label. It starts with a fairly standard beat which has a layered sound effect processed / mangled with Quadrant and Subvert. The component loops are then mangled to varying degrees with a few mangled sound effects thrown in for good measure.

 

So in summary, if you want an effect that gives you an extensive choice of effects options with up to 8 in use at at any one time, full control over how these are connected together, extensive modulation options, great presets and an extensive 1,500+ sample library to get you started for a very reasonable price then you can’t go far wrong with Quadrant.

Review of Hard Luck Blues album on Factory Fast Records — June 23, 2015

Review of Hard Luck Blues album on Factory Fast Records

Hard Luck Blues compilation

 

This is a great album with a really good range of styles. The playing is excellent with great drumming and bass giving a solid foundation. Guitar playing is also excellent with both great solos and acoustic playing too. The vocals are also superb, deep and soulful at times, other times more lonesome.

The Celebration Army – Flipside There’s an almost gospel feel to the opening vocals leading into a great distorted blues riff with a more laid back feel to the verse. The vocals are great and suit the sound really well. The chorus ups the feel really well with great harmonies, releasing tension back to the verse. There’s a really nice soulful part before the final chorus which rounds the song out.

The Blue Project – I’ve Changed My Ways A slow blues song with excellent guitar tone for the solo and the vocals are superb, both male and female vocals are soulful and deep. The brass and violin are a great touch, really adding to the sound.

Johnny Hate – Black Sparrows There is a real brooding quality to this song, vocals add to the vibe provided by great drumming, solid bass and really good riffing. The song has nice changes in feel and has a touch of a cinematic sound at times. There are great harmonies to end the song too.

Indus Rush – Cracking Up There’s a great solo to open with and the brass section creates a really nice vibe. In fact the whole song has a great vibe, propelled by solid drumming and bass playing. There’s a kind of call and response feel between the vocals and brass section at times and there’s an excellent solo too.

Andy Zovko – A Thousand Miles Away This song has a great acoustic riff to open with and has a country blues sort of feel. There’s great emotion in the vocals and the song has a great arrangement and is excellently played, there are really nice harmonies and lead guitar parts.

Beneath the Crow – Cold Blooded Eyes This is an uptempo song which has quite a western sounding riff. The song has a great groove through syncopation and some really nice harmonies. Blues harp adds a great element to the song.

Ian Clayton = Kentucky Song This song has great acoustic guitar playing, the vocals have a soft edge with a real lonesome quality. The harmonica is a nice touch and there are great harmonies too.

The Celebration Army on facebook
The Celebration Army on twitter

The Blue Project on facebook
The Blue Project on twitter

Johnny Hate on facebook
Johnny Hate on twitter

Indus Rush on facebook
Indus Rush on twitter

Andy Zovko on facebook
Andy Zovko on twitter

Beneath the Crow on facebook
Beneath the Crow on twitter

Ian Clayton on twitter

Review of ‘Pan’ album by White Manna on Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL043) and Captcha Records (HBSP-2X-066) — June 21, 2015

Review of ‘Pan’ album by White Manna on Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL043) and Captcha Records (HBSP-2X-066)

White Manna

To put things simply, this is an absolutely brilliant album. There’s excellent playing and arrangements which create a solid psych sound. There’s great use of feedback and a range of guitar tones from acoustic to distorted and gnarly. The vocals are excellent, heavily processed at times and sometimes more in the background which works really well. The album has a jam feel at times, is hypnotic and kind of like a wave that simultaneously washes over you but also picks you up and carries you along.

It’s available now on Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL043) as a CD edition, black vinyl and splatter vinyl, however, at the time of writing there were only 15 of the splatter vinyls left. They’re available from Cardinal Fuzz online shop

The good news for US readers is that there are copies available from Captcha Records (HBSP-2X-066) available in splatter vinyl, CD and digital download formats. They are available from Captcha Records Website

Pan Feedback to open with, leading into a distorted riff with background feedback / swirling sounds. The drumming gives a real momentum, vocals are laid back and sit back in the mix which works really well. The song has great energy, the background organ really adds to the feel of the song. There are great solos too, the tone is brilliant and the effects create an awesome wave that picks you up and sweeps you along.

Dunes I Distorted phaser / flanger sound to open, the riff propels the song along and drumming again gives a great momentum. The vocals are heavily processed and sit further back in the mix. There are some great harmonies and a great solo, again, like a wave the song washes over you but simultaneously sweeps you along. There’s a release of tension to a chugging riff which builds tension again through vocals and increasing intensity riffing bursting into a solo accompanied by feedback with a really nice release of tension to end the song.

Dunes II Has a much more laid back almost acoustic feel to the opening. The drumming again gives a great momentum backed by a slightly distorted riff. The vocals again are heavily processed and create a laid back vibe with a brooding quality. Tension builds slowly, the shift to a more distorted psych sound is subtle – and brilliant – there’s a great solo leading to a slow release to end the song.

Evil This song is then a return to feedback and high energy riffing and drumming. It’s kind of like rock and roll for the psych age. Vocals are less processed than some other songs but still quite laid back with some good harmonies and changes in feel. A great energy and momentum to the song and a great solo laced with feedback keeps the momentum going.

Beta Travelers Great drumming to open, a sweeping background sound leads to a distorted riff and chords which provide a great momentum. The song has a great uptempo vibe, a chunky distorted riff followed by great vocals again. I really like the use of background sounds and swirling distortion, there’s a great wah solo returning to the riff and vocals again. Tension builds to another solo which releases to more of an acoustic tone to end the song.

Eshra This song has a white noise type of sound to open leading to a subtle pulsating sound, cymbals and sparse riff. Great evolving sound, a really nice acoustic riff too with great use of delay. Drumming enters to give great momentum, increasingly intense riffing builds tension into a great groove with excellent feedback sounds. It has the feel of a jam session – and a bloody good one at that. There’s a great wah solo and it’s a really hypnotic song.

Cardinal Fuzz on twitter
Captcha Records on twitter

Review of ‘In The Wake of an Avalanche’ and ‘Dust or Rust’ albums by Tunnel at the End of the Light — June 17, 2015

Review of ‘In The Wake of an Avalanche’ and ‘Dust or Rust’ albums by Tunnel at the End of the Light

In the Wake of an Avalanche

Dust or Rust

 

Tunnel at the End of the Light is an ‘ambient-ish endeavour’ by Alan Clark, based in Copenhagen, Denmark. In the Wake of an Avalanche was released in March 2015 and Dust or Rust was released in May 2015 and are embedded below.

These are two excellent and really accomplished ambient albums, each song is a great soundscape with really well crafted sounds, great layering and production. I really like the use of ‘found’ or field recorded sounds in some of the songs, that adds a really nice contrasting element.

 

In the Wake of an Avalanche A slow evolving opening, a great ambience from the really well layered drone and subtle emerging synth and string sounds. Percussion is also subtle and sits in the background developing a more defined rhythm about half way through the song which works really well. It’s a really captivating song and certainly doesn’t seem 9 minutes long which is testament to it’s meditative qualities.

The Sea Inside of Me Another great evolving opening, great layering of sounds, some of which sound reversed which adds a nice tension. The sea sounds are subtly placed in the mix, string sounds give the song great contemplative qualities and the piano is sparse and really adds to the song.

As the Clouds Fall Apart An evolving sweeping synth sound to open against a background drone, there’s a rain type of sound subtly in the background with a string sound lead. Another great soundscape, again a captivating sound.

Ever So Slightly A crashing sound, like a heavily reverbed kick drum opens the song, followed by an emerging drone and background sounds. There’s a subtle piano lead and emerging string sound. The song has excellent changes in feel too.

Snow is Sparkling, It’s Like Glitter A drone to open with and an emerging synth sound creates a great ambience, the arp adds a nice contrast and there’s a momentum from the subtle lead and percussion. The layering and production adds a subtle edge of tension at times and the spoken words at the end the song round the album out really well.

 
 

 

Dust or Rust Great emerging sounds to open, there’s a nice edge of tension from the layering against the drone. The piano type sound sits subtly in the background adding a great contrasting element.

Breathing The opening drone and background sounds create a great tension, nicely contrasted by the emerging string sound. Another great soundscape, evolving sounds give great movement through the song.

A Solitary Place A slowly evolving opening which has a nice edge of tension from the contrast between the bass, synth and background sounds. The tension continues through the song, there’s great movement in the sounds and an edgy feel at times. Again there’s a subtle piano sound in the background that really adds to the song and provides a nice contrast.

The Light Makes Her Shadow Dance I really like the great piano playing in this song which is contrasted really well with some great contrasting background sounds and vinyl type effect.

I’ll be the Clouds, You be the Rain Sparse string chords to open creates a nice edge of tension. Background wind and rain sounds emerge subtly adding a really nice contrast. Great arrangement and layering gives the song an edge of sadness almost.

Tunnel at the end of the Light on soundcloud
Tunnel at the End of the Light on twitter

Review of Country’s Death compilation album on Factory Fast Records — June 15, 2015

Review of Country’s Death compilation album on Factory Fast Records

Country's Death compilation

 

This really is an excellent compilation, there’s a great diverse range of sounds and styles from country blues, western, rock, folk and blues. The playing on each song is solid with some great guitar tones, riffs and solos and excellent vocals too. The arrangements and production are spot on too with great layering and selection of instruments.

What I especially like is that the songs are quite hard to pin down to a particular style, which does make a review more difficult but means that each song individually has a great sound and overall the album as a whole is simply brilliant.

Johnny Hate – Country’s Death There’s an urgency to this song which starts with an opening acoustic riff, ominous sounding bass drum, a great riff and a scream. The vocals have a spoken style at times and there’s great layering of instruments. There are also really nice solos in the song which has a brooding western quality, great changes in feel and a great edge of tension.

The Shannons – Ethina For me this song totally captures the essence of Americana. It has a great feel, the vocals are excellent and there’s some great bass and guitar playing too. I’m not sure how they’ve done it but their sound conjures up everything from the Allman Brothers, through Mary Chapin Carpenter to Robert Earl Keen and lots more in between.

Monogroove – When You Went Away This song has great drumming to open leading into a sax solo, vocals and jangly riff to give a great momentum. It’s a great sound, some lovely harmonies and great vocals, a great vibe.

Queen Bitch – Me and the Devil A brilliant hard rocking sound with a chunky riff to open, propelled by solid drumming and some nice background hammond type sounds. The song has excellent solos and vocals, great control with building and release of tension and some nice harmonies too.

Michael Brondstetter – Dark Cloud Blues This song has an excellent country blues feel, a great momentum propelled by great riffs and solos with nice changes of feel. Great building of tension in the song too.

Genuine Crude – Invisible This song has solo piano to open with a distorted / flange riff. It has a great momentum and has more of a rock sound. The vocals add a great tension and there’s a nice solo and change of feel.

Egon Erger – Grim This song has a great atmospheric opening, a 12 twelve string guitar type of sound. The vocals are excellent, telling a great bittersweet tale. There are some great organ type sounds and a lap steel guitar really add to the sound.

Johnny Hate on facebook
Johnny Hate on twitter

The Shannons on facebook
The Shannons on twitter

Monogroove on facebook
Monogroove on twitter

Queen Bitch Band on facebook
Queen Bitch Band on twitter

Michael Brondstetter on facebook
Michael Brondstetter on twitter

Genuine Crude on facebook
Genuine Crude on twitter

Egon Erger on facebook
Egon Erger on twitter

Review of ‘Slow Motion’ album by Meter Bridge — June 10, 2015

Review of ‘Slow Motion’ album by Meter Bridge

Meter Bridge

 

Meter Bridge are Richard Kleef and Jill Beaulieu, a darkpop synth duo from Nelson, BC. Slow Motion is the follow up album to their previous self titled release which I’ve previously reviewed here.

Slow Motion is a great follow up album, there’s some excellent synth sounds and basslines which are layered to great effect. The vocals are also excellent with some great harmonies and variations in style. Meter Bridge have a great sound, at times it’s almost glitchy, other times more laid back whilst maintaining a great edge and nice tension between laid back and more uptempo elements at times.

Filter This song has a great arp to open which combined with the drums gives the song an urgency. It also has great synth sounds and a really nice tension with the chords. The vocals are great and create a nice edge to the song.

Responding with a Kiss This song has a delayed bassline to open and background vocals leading into great harmonies and some excellent background sounds. It has a real edgy almost glitchy feel with really good tension from changes in the vocal style and drums.

Bliss A great synth riff and squelchy bassline to open, there are great harmonies again. There’s a great groove to the song, really good use of delay. Nice change in feel about 2/3 way through with great build of tension.

Frozen Another great riff to open and some really good background sounds. There’s great layering of sounds and really good vocals again. There’s a great feel to the song, it’s a bit edgy at times with a great momentum.

Meant to Be A brilliant synth sound to open, the bass is quite sparse but really effective developing more of a driving feel at times. There are great harmonies again and really nice edge to the song with great changes in feel too.

Distance Between Us A great riff and bassline with sparse drums to open, the song feels laid back in some ways but equally there’s an edge and drive to the song.

Quicksilver This song has another great bassline and delayed synth riff to open, the drums give a really good momentum. Excellent vocals again.

Kite This song has great percussion and acid sounds to open with, the vocals are more spoken. The song has a sparse breakbeat feel, again great layering and really nice use of delay effects.

It Was Nothing There’s a different feel to the opening of this song, it feels more ambient with a great pad type sound and riff but there’s still an edge provided by the vocals and the drums give an urgency and great contrast against the other elements.

Sincerely Yours The bassline and drums give a great momentum with two really well layered synth riffs. Again there’s a contrast between the laid back feel to the vocals and more uptempo drums. Great layering again and a nice tension to the song.

Always Looking for You Another great riff and sparse bassline to open, great harmonies again. Great squelchy synth sound too, the song has a funk feel at times, great layering again.

Coming Up For Air Brilliant bluesy vibe to this song from the bass and riff and some great background sounds and harmonies. The song has a laid back feel which contrasts really well against the drums which give the song a good momentum. The blues solo is a really nice touch.

Meter Bridge on bandcamp
Jill Beaulieu on twitter
Richard Kleef on twitter

Review of ‘Fifteen Minutes Nowhere’ album by Earlyguard — June 9, 2015

Review of ‘Fifteen Minutes Nowhere’ album by Earlyguard

Earlyguard


Earlyguard produces electroacoustic music and is based in Germany. Fifteen Minutes Nowhere is one of nineteen releases available from his Bandcamp page.

This album is 7 short songs which total fifteen minutes in length. I really like the way the album is a solo piano recording which although has a deceptively simple sounding arrangement, the playing is excellent and there’s a great feel to the album. It’s quite jazzy, ambient and almost meditative at times but equally very approachable with nice tension, contrasts and changes in feel.

Each song is like a variation on a theme, there’s elements of dissonance, tension and contrast between the bassline and melody with some arrangements being more sparse than others but it equally could be considered as one 15 minute piece.

Which is why I’ve chosen to write this album review as a whole rather than individual songs because it does have great ambient and meditative qualities at times where you can lose yourself in it with the contrast / tension being quite subtle but noticeable enough to grab your attention and return you back. The album opens with some dissonance and tension, quite a sparse arrangement with a great contrast between the bassline and melody. The next two songs start in a similar vein, quite a sparse feel to begin with developing a more defined melody and there’s a nice tension between the bass and melody. The album then develops more defined melodies but again a nice tension and the album ends with a sparse feel and a really nice tension between the bassline and melody.

Earlyguard website
Earlyguard on twitter

Review of ‘Murder Shoes’ EP by Murder Shoes on Land Ski Records — June 2, 2015

Review of ‘Murder Shoes’ EP by Murder Shoes on Land Ski Records

Murder Shoes

 

Murder Shoes are a band from Minneapolis who have released their eponymous EP on Land Ski Records. Derek Van Gieson (guitar) was introduced to Chris White (guitar, vocals) and they wrote a hundred or so songs as ‘A Marriage at Nevers’. They found a voice and yet more songwriting chops with Tess Weinberg (vocals, keyboard). They sifted through songs, like gold rush dreamers. Then came the engine block of Elliot Manthey (drums) and Tim Heinlein (bass). The songs were given power and from there, careened through several gates of meow. Now as a whole and with abandon, they create Murder Shoes music.

This is an excellent EP, it has elements of surf guitar and rock / indie with a darker edge at times. The vocals are outstanding, really seductive and sexy and Murder Shoes have a great tight knit sound with excellent guitar tones too.

Charlotte Manning This is such a brilliant opening song, it has great surf guitar tone and riffs backed by drumming and bass that gives a solid foundation. The vocals are stunning, seductive and sexy which combined with the dark feel of the song conjures up an image of a femme fatale from a David Lynch film, to which this song would be ideally suited.

Maybe You Can This song has a strummed opening leading into more uptempo drums and bass which give it a real momentum. The vocals again are excellent and have a laid back feel which contrasts really well against the more uptempo rhythm. Great guitar tone and riffs again.

Under the Sea This song has a great uptempo opening before settling into more of a laid back feel with a really nice chord vamp. There’s a great change of feel leading into the chorus and again there are excellent vocals and great guitar tone.

Sea a Little Louder A great opening groove from the drumming accompanied by a tambourine to open, the bass riff then gives great movement which is joined by an excellent guitar riff. The verses are a simple arrangement of drums, bass and excellent vocals which are really seductive. There’s also a nice change in feel in the chorus with guitar riff / solo.

In Your Bed or on a Train This song opens with great drumming which feels almost double time and gives the song a real urgency. The guitar riff propels the song along with a great twangy riff too. The vocals sit a bit more in the background which suits the style of the song really well. There’s a great building of tension with a final release.

Murder Shoes on facebook
Murder Shoes on twitter
Land Ski Records website
Land Ski Records on twitter
Land Ski Records on facebook