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Review of Salvia single and ‘Abstract Concepts’ album by Stupid Cosmonaut — May 25, 2016

Review of Salvia single and ‘Abstract Concepts’ album by Stupid Cosmonaut

Stupid Cosmonaut are a 3 piece ambient / pysch band from Manchester, England comprising of Sam Read, Mark Hawnt and Steve McNamara. They all take an equal share in producing and writing the music using mostly hardware synths, guitars, bass and samples.

Stupid Cosmonaut only formed earlier this year but they have been very busy, producing a video for their first single Salvia which was released in March. It’s a great debut single, a slow evolving song opening with keys and distorted guitar drone which creates a great contrast. There’s a really good guitar solo and use of a recorded sample which adds a great element. The video suits the song really well, it’s hypnotic and a bit trippy at times.

 

 
Hot on the heels of Salvia is their debut album, Abstract Concepts released on 23rd May as a cassette and digital download. It’s a brilliant debut album, I really like the constrast between the ambient and psych feel at times and the harsher elements. Recorded samples are also used excellently, including Steven Hawking quotes and a recording about Nikola Tesla. The album explores themes such as travelling from Earth to ensure survival and the works of Einstein and Nikola Tesla and gets the balance of the recordings in the songs spot on, the contrast between these and the use of drones, sparse rhythms and background synths makes the album hypnotic listening.

Long Term Survival,
There’s a great intensity to this song which opens with an uptempo opening riff and fast drumming. There’s a great edge of tension which releases and builds really well creating an urgency at times. A great opening track which sets the scene for the rest of the album.

Obsolete
This song has an ominous feel to the opening, background distortion / noise creates a great contrast against the more ambient string sounds. The bass provides a great momentum and the use of the recording really adds to the feel of the song.

Tesla is Not Dead
This song has a great recording about Nikola Tesla backed by percussive rhythm and bass. I really like the variation and subtle use at times of percussive rhythms, synths, bass and background sounds which complement the recording really well and create a great ambience.

Abstract Concepts
This song has an ominous sounding opening riff, there’s a great contrast against the sample. The song evolves with sparse percussive rhythm and use of delay which works really well and gives a great psych feel, I really like how the song combines and contrasts this with elements of electronica and ambience.

Space Music
There’s a great ambience and edge of tension from the keys and drone against the recording from space, a great evolution of the song which retains the contrast between an ambient and drone sound.

A Complete Theory of Everything
A brilliant closing track, the guitar playing is excellent and the emerging background sounds are subtle which creates a really chilled and contemplative vibe.

 
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Review of ‘A Congr’ss’ album by Yellow Salamad’r 4 — May 23, 2016

Review of ‘A Congr’ss’ album by Yellow Salamad’r 4

 
I really like this album, there’s some great soundscapes but also a sparseness and edge of tension at times. The production is excellent allowing sounds to evolve and grow. There’s also really good use of a variety of recordings and recorded sounds combined with excellent layering of sounds and noise / drone elements which has an element of experimental whilst retaining a great coherence.

Ohms Per Swamp Cubed
This song has great use of field recording and subtle noise / drone elements, it has a stripped back feel but this is done very effectively.

Melancholic Transistor
This also sounds like another field recording and has excellently layered noise / drone sounds and a subtle emerging lead which adds a great tension.

My Role…
A great spoken recording, although I’m not sure where it was taken from. There’s really good layering of sounds again, there are looping elements, bass and percussion sounds and the processing of the vocals towards the end is excellent too.

Laminated Numbers
The processed vocals have an ethereal, spooky feel. Great layering of sounds, there’s an eastern feel to the background sounds and the song has the feel of a half heard conversation. The different elements are combined really well.

We Interrupt This Broadcast
Excellent percussive sounds layered really well against a field recording with a sound recording of a public news report for an impending nuclear strike. There’s a great tension to the song.

Drone #4
Opens with a string type sound layered over a field recording and a sound like tuning in a radio. There’s a great edge of tension to the song.

Lo Fi Left Over Laminated Loops
This song has a great atmospheric opening, slowly evolving sounds with great layering.

Sophisticated Babble
A slow evolving opening, some great sounds panned really well. The song has a sparse feel and the recorded vocals are layered to great effect, it has the feel of being an outsider listening in.

Radio Waving
Great use of radio recordings and noise, the layered percussive rhythm works really well and gives a good momentum contrasting really well against the harsher radio sounds.

 
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Guitar Open Tunings – CMaj7/9 (EBDGCE) — May 17, 2016

Guitar Open Tunings – CMaj7/9 (EBDGCE)

Open tunings sound different and there are a couple of principle reasons. The intervals between the notes are different which has a big impact on the sound. The detuned strings also have a different tension so there is a change in pitch but more importantly this means acoustic instruments resonate differently.

This tuning only retunes 2 strings – the low E string stays the same; the A string is tuned up a tone to B; the D string stays the same; the G string stays the same; the B string is tuned up a semi-tone to C; the high E string stays the same.

This tuning works well in the key of C (C D E F G A B) and it’s really good to experiment with different chord positions and shapes. As open tunings tend to result in different chord shapes, it may take a while to experiment to get some sounds you like but I’m sure you will.

I’ve included a fretboard diagram of notes and a few chord shapes to get you started:

EBDGCE open tuning-page0001
EBDGCE open tuning-page0002

Quite a long time ago I transcribed the song You and the Mona Lisa from the album ‘A Few Small Repairs’ by Shawn Colvin. I did this for 3 guitars using this tuning for one of the guitar parts. I’ve included the link to this document to give another idea how you can use open tunings in your arrangements. The video for the song is embedded below, like all of Shawn’s albums this is very highly recommended, definitely check out this one and some of Shawn’s other albums if you haven’t heard them.

Review of Everybody Says So single by Joni Fuller — May 12, 2016

Review of Everybody Says So single by Joni Fuller

 
Born in Lytham-St Annes, Lancashire, Joni Fuller’s first solo performance was made at the Montreux Jazz Festival when she was just twelve years old. Since then she has honed her craft the traditional way, performing extensively in the UK, mainland Europe and North America. Known for her high energy, instrument swapping solo performances, Joni combines sublime musicianship with groundbreaking looping techniques to build a wall of sound live on stage.

Featured as an ‘inspirational teenager’ by The Independent and ‘one to watch’ by PRS for Music, Joni is the only UK alumna of Phil Collins’ Little Dreams Foundation and an unprecedented double winner of the Make it Break it Songwriting Contest, judged by Chris Martin and awarded by Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts.

Everybody Says So was released on November 27th 2015. There’s a great opening to the song, a kind of Western / surf guitar riff with syncopated clap over strummed guitar chords and the organ adds a great element. There’s a really nice change of feel when the vocals enter. Joni has a superb voice, it’s really smooth with a great passion and edge of angst at times. The song has great changes of feel from a laid back groove in the verses to a more uptempo chord vamp feel in the chorus. I really like the ethos of the song, an excellent passion in kicking back against what everybody else does and tells you to do and instead doing your own thing.

In fact Joni had a very busy 2015, in addition to the release of this single, ‘Letters From The West Coast’ a 4 track EP was released in May and she had a staggering 41 live performances, radio sessions and interviews including BBC Introducing in Lancashire interview and live sessions, 5 performances at Indie Week Canada, Toronto and many other performances including Mofest, Bofest, Threshold and Ronnie Scott’s Bar, London.

 
What’s also interesting about this song is that is was first made available on Aurovine, a revolutionary platform which utilises the recently launched music industry currency AudioCoin. Aurovine allows music fans to connect and support emerging artists by listening, rating and sharing tracks, earning AudioCoins for both parties which can be exchanged for other currencies, stored in an offline wallet to earn interest or used for transactions on Aurovine and other websites.

Through revolutionary blockchain technology, Aurovine provides super transparent and fair revenue splits to the artist, songwriter and anyone with a tangible stake in the making and promotion/distribution of a record. Even fans can become an integral part of the project with an innovative crowd revenue share feature.

Just three hundred limited edition digital copies of Joni Fuller’s single were made available, featuring two extra specially recorded bonus tracks. Along with an official record of support, these three hundred backers will also get a revenue share of worldwide sales.

 
Keep up with Joni:
Facebook | Website | Twitter | Aurovine | Youtube | Soundcloud | Spotify

Review of Exit Methods on Big Wave Records (BWR/13) — May 4, 2016

Review of Exit Methods on Big Wave Records (BWR/13)

 
This is a superb album, each of the songs has a great vibe and is really well arranged and produced. There’s some excellent soundscapes and textures, percussive rhythms are often sparse using processed sounds and are done excellently. The layering of sounds is also excellent creating great contrasts and emotions. There’s an overall ambience to the album with just an edge of tension / glitch at times and it’s this contrast which creates such a brilliant, atmospheric album.

Umbilical Chords – Alchesound
There’s a brilliant ambience to this song, excellent textures and movement in sound to create a tension at times. The song opens with a drone and wind type sound the evolving piano sound is excellent with some reverse elements which creates an excellent contrast. The percussive rhythm gives a momentum and I really like how the vocal snippets are like thoughts passing through your mind.

Hypnotist – The Shimmer Effect
A great atmospheric opening from delayed and layered sounds, the drum pattern builds gradually from a starting 4:4 kick to a well defined sparse rhythm complemented really well by the bass. The vocal samples are layered superbly, the panning and depth gives a brilliant presence, sometimes like someone whispering in your ear, other times like an overheard conversation.

Depth Perception – Dub Bred
A really well processed sample to open with layered synth and bass. There’s an excellent lead sound and sparse percussive rhythm which becomes more defined. The arrangement is excellent, really good layering to allow evolution of the different sounds.

Ionic Nights – Salook
Great bass and synth sounds to open, I really like the use of the recorded sounds, like a journey on public transport with a combination of train, underground and bus. I don’t know where the quote is from but it works really well with an excellent change of feel to a more defined percussive rhythm and vocal / choir type sounds with excellent use of delay.

Cloudy Above – Arkeyetexture
Another great atmospheric opening, I really like the glitchy bassline. There’s great textures and movement in the sounds used, they’re layered to great effect. The song is a great soundscape, quite hypnotic and dreamy.

Afterlife Love – Project Hybrid
A looping riff and drone to open, the song has a sparse percussive rhythm and a gnarly bass sound with really well layered synth riffs and pad type sounds. The song has a great build and release of tension, there’s an edge to the sound which contrasts really well with the more ambient parts.

 
Connect with Big Wave Records
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Connect with Alchesound
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Connect with The Shimmer Effect
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Connect with Dub Bred
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Connect with Salook
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Connect with Arkeyetexture
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Connect with Project Hybrid
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