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Review of JuJu s/t album on Sunrise Ocean Bender — November 27, 2016

Review of JuJu s/t album on Sunrise Ocean Bender

It’s quite hard to pin down a particular style for this album and to be honest to try and do so would miss the point. It’s a superb album with an excellent sound that contains elements of psych and shoegaze at times with each song excellently arranged with great contrast and tension at times between laid back vocals, riffs, more uptempo parts and distorted riffs.

The bass and drumming provide a rock solid backing and great momentum with the vocals having excellent harmonies and a great floaty feel, often through processing and sitting low in the mix giving a distant almost haunting feel at times.

It’s available from Sunrise Ocean Bender on vinyl (only 11 left at the time of writing) and digital download.

This song has a brooding quality from the opening riff, bass and drumming with the vocals having a great ethereal feel. There’s a nice change in feel at times with a more distorted riff and subtle background sounds.

We Spit on Yer Grave
An uptempo opening from bassline, drumming and synth riff, the vocals have that great ethereal feel again and their laid back feel gives a great contrast. I really like how the distorted riffs add tension to the song.

Stars and Sea
An urgent feel from the drumming contrasts with a more laid back riff and vocals which have a floaty feeling. The song has a chilled feel with an edge of tension from layered background elements which builds gradually with a great change to an uptempo feel with a distorted guitar riff and faster drumming. I really like the subtle background organ riff and vocal processing.

Dance With The Fish
An excellent piano riff to open, there’s great layering of background sounds and a distorted voice (like a station announcement) adds a great element. The song has quite a solemn feel, the strings add a cinematic quality.

Sunrise Ocean
A driving rhythm from bass and guitar riff is given great momentum from drumming. Vocals have an ethereal / disembodied feel, great processing with an edge of distortion at times. Distorted guitar riffs add a great element.

A piano riff to open which has an upbeat feel. Distorted guitar adds a great contrast and drumming and bass give a solid momentum. Layered vocals are excellent and string synth sound adds a great element. The introduction of a looping guitar riff builds tension slowly with a release at the end of the song.

Bring ‘Em War
Opening with a purposeful bassline, there’s some great background sounds and excellent harmonised vocals. Slightly distorted guitar riff replaces the bassline with drumming entering to give a great momentum. Great contrast between the more urgent riffing and laid back vocals.

Keep up with Sunrise Ocean Bender :

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KVR Developer Challenge 2016 entries launch on 1st December – and I’ve entered — November 24, 2016

KVR Developer Challenge 2016 entries launch on 1st December – and I’ve entered

The KVR developer challenge is for anyone who develops music plugins, apps and soundware. The challenge is to develop a brand new free audio plugin, app or soundware that will benefit the community at large. KVR members then vote for their favourites and winners are announced for each category.

The latest challenge was announced in September giving two months to submit entries by 30th November. Voting opens on 1st December and runs until 18th December with the winners announced on 19th December.

This is the sixth such challenge, previous challenges took place in 2014, 2012, 2009, 2007 and 2006. The last two challenges resulted in 92 entries, many of which have become firm favourites which I use on a regular basis. Further information on each of these can be found on the KVR Developer Challenge webpages.

2012 entries included Modulok (drum sample library by WaveShaper); Fusion Delay (Delay / Echo by SonicXTC); KlingKlang random drum hit machine (drum hit rompler by Reusenoise); Minisynth series (hybrid, analogue/subtractive, fm synths by Acrobatics); Softamp 3OD (Vacuum tube guitar pre-amp by AXP); Transient (Transient processor by Sleepytime DSP) and Thrillseeker XTC (exciter / enhancer by Variety of Sound) which won.

2014 entries included Regen (Looper by ToneCarver); Instretch (extreme time stretcher by WOK); Crio (virtual analog/FM/Ring Mod synth by Solcito Musica); Brakeback Mangler (delay / tapestop / reverse effects by WOK); Lokomotiv (retro synth by Archetype Instruments) and Acon Digital Multiply (chorus with modulation by Acon Digital) which won.

What will 2016 bring?

Well it was with some trepidation that I decided to enter a submission in this year’s challenge. I’ve made use out of many previous entries and my entry is driven by the spirit of giving something back to the music community in the hope that somebody can make use of my entry.


My first thought was how can I do something original? I can’t code, so writing a vst is completely out of the question. Instead I decided to create a sample pack. I was in the process of creating the kalipheno trilogy of EPs with the theme of a dystopian future and needed some glitchy sounds and atmospheres.

I used some field recorded sounds on my phone for this purpose as in the song above and it struck me that I have a lot of these recorded sounds which I often use in my music production which could be used to make a sample pack. Of course I made quite a few more recordings mainly in the local park just in case. This is largely because my phone records sounds quite well but wind and the constant drone of traffic in an urban setting can be a problem. However, I like the fact these recordings are not always pristine because there are often interesting results when I process them which add to the glitchy / dark feel.

I started with some older field recordings and some recordings from children’s toy phones which were severely mangled in a program called Smack my Batch Up by Justin Dolby. This a freeware VST which allows you to load up to 5 vst and process multiple audio files using the same effects chain. It can produce some extreme results with multiple delays and reverbs for instance. These were subsequently processed again in Hollyhock II with ‘grain cloud fx’ and a send/return loop with EQ/compression.

I used a similar process using percussive sounds created in the Ironhead Suite by Ugo Audio, swapping the ‘grain cloud fx’ for Cryogen by Glitchmachines and adding delays into the main signal chain as well as the send / return loop.

This was quite an organic process where I loaded new field recorded sounds and altered the setup by swapping delays, changing settings, using other VSTs such as Convex and Subvert by Glitchmachines and Fog Convolver by Audio Thing. This organic process also used random settings and changes during the recordings resulting in nearly 300 samples in total.

I was really pleased with result and how the workflow panned out, I got a unique set of samples. However, I quickly realised that the downside to this approach is that I haven’t written down what I’ve done very well so had to rearrange the recordings somewhat into the most appropriate category. That’s after I decided what these categories should be. A more methodical approach is something I need to think about for the future.

‘kalipheno – the sound of a dystopian future’ will be available from the 1st December along with many other entries so please take a look because even if you don’t like mine I’m sure you’ll find something exciting and useful for your music.

Review of Space Strip channel effect VST by AudioThing — November 18, 2016

Review of Space Strip channel effect VST by AudioThing

Space Strip is a multi-effect plugin featuring 6 modules – contour, vibe, slapback, ambience, ensemble and stereo. It is designed to give depth and space to your sounds whilst being light on CPU usage.

The modules can be arranged in any order with a simple drag and drop and each has their own on / off switch.

This is a 2 band EQ which has a high and a low control to boost high and/or low frequencies up to 12dB. It’s very useful for a quick EQ adjustment.

This is a stereo vibrato effect with controls for depth, rate and stereo spread. This produces a subtle to more pronounced tremelo effect.

This is a short echo module with controls for level (gain), delay (30ms to 300ms) and stereo spread with settings for mono, stereo or wide.

This is a short reverb effect with controls for level, size (tail duration) and damping. This can produce subtle to small room type reverb effects.

This is a multi-voices chorus effect with controls for amount, depth (volume of detuning voices) and stereo spread. Again it can produce from quite a subtle effect to more pronounced.

This is a stereo related module with controls for side level (gain for more stereo width) and mono bass (keeps low frequencies below this value mono).

There is also a master section with controls for gain and mix controls and a soft clip limiter which can be switched on or off via the menu.

The different modules within Space Strip in combination are capable of producing a wide range of sounds from subtle depth and stereo to tremelo to a suppressed reverb type of effect. Although it’s especially designed for synths / keyboards I found that it works equally well on drum loops adding qualities from depth and punch, a static flanger type of sound to a filtered type of effect.

Space strip is very useful for adding depth to tracks and could be useful when mixing due to the lightweight CPU usage. I also like the randomise option which can create some interesting and unexpected results.

I’ve created a simple looping two chord pattern with an analogue string sound. The first chord has no fx (i.e. Space Strip is bypassed) and then I’ve used each preset in turn on subsequent chords to show the sort of effects Space Strip can produce.

I’ve also created a more complex loop using samples from Samplephonics Future Pop sample pack intially with Space Strip on each component track in bypass mode i.e. no effects:

I’ve then enabled Space Strip on each track and then changed the settings using the randomise option for each track in sequence twice:

Hopefully you can hear the change in sound with the effect present, especially through the demo as the random presets are altered.

Space Strip is available for 55 Euros from Audiothing

Audiothing social links:
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Review of ‘Growing From the Concrete’ album by L.D.C.N. — November 16, 2016

Review of ‘Growing From the Concrete’ album by L.D.C.N.

Growing From the Concrete is the third full length release from L.D.C.N. (I’ve previously reviewed two earlier releases Summer Rain and Until the End) and it is another excellent album demonstrating growth and excellent development of sound. I really like how ambient sounds and a downtempo feel are blended with more urgent / uptempo elements. It has great chill qualities but an edge of tension at times. The sounds are excellently crafted and there’s great use of field recordings / film quotes too. It has a brilliant vibe and I really like how the songs create their own atmosphere yet still allow you to interpret them in your own way.

Opening with that early morning wake up call, the song evolves with a drone and laid back rhythm. I really like the bass which has a great presence. Great use of background sound effects and I really like the lead line which has a great string sound. The effects are excellent too, a dense full dub type sound.

A field recording like a drone to open, great bass and sax give the song a trip hop feel with just a hint of glitch at times.

The Drive
Great layering of synth and background sounds, rhythm gives a great momentum. I like the use of vocal snippets and sax.

City Lights
Great swirling background sounds and synth sound which has a twinkling type sound contrasts really well against the bass and drums. I really like the contrast between the ambient qualities and more urgent feel of the bass / drums.

Aptly titled, this song has a great vibe from drum pattern and electric piano riff.

I really like the use of the film quote at the start, there’s a great glitch hop kind of feel to the track with looping elements and contrast between free flowing ambient and more defined structure.

Really good use of field recording and reversed synth to open, there’s a great ambience and the percussion off the beat adds a great element.

The Garden (Ft Engine Farm)
This song opens with a bird recording and synth to open, the percussive rhythm builds to a more defined drum pattern. There’s a kind of jazz feel at times.

Great opening quote with emerging layered sounds and atmospheric riff. I like the transition with the use of a more defined rhythm which gives a future garage / chill kind of feel and the song ends with a quote too.

Another Night
A synth riff to open with emerging background sounds, the percussive elements are really well layered. There’s a great ambience with an edge of tension.

Life is Strange
A short track, great blending of field recording and synth sounds.

A laid back vibe to open with piano riff and field recording, the percussive rhythm is sparse and has a dubstep feel.

Looking back once more
Excellent evolving opening with bass and strings, the sparse rhythm has a skippy, 2 step feel. Great layering of sounds.

One Last Moment
Another great blend of field recording and synth which adds a background ambience.

The Long Way Home (ft. BFOS)
Opening with a piano riff and rain sample, the song has a reflective feel. The drum pattern gives a great momentum and I like the use of the tape stop effect. This gives way to a reverse synth with a quote. This part is excellently layered and has a looping quality. There’s then another quote and the third section opens with a field recording and a distant sounding drum pattern,ending with a sound like going underwater.

Keep up with L.D.C.N.
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Review of Balance LP by Lorelle Meets the Obsolete on Captcha Records and Sonic Cathedral — November 11, 2016

Review of Balance LP by Lorelle Meets the Obsolete on Captcha Records and Sonic Cathedral

Balance is the fourth album by the Mexican duo Lorelle Meets the Obsolete and it is an absolute triumph. It is an incredibly difficult album to categorise, there are elements of synth wave, post punk, stoner rock, psych and shoegaze. I really like how the production sounds great, it is spot on capturing the essence of each performance without over polishing or sanitising the sound.

Balance is available from Captcha Records in the USA on vinyl, CD and digital although please note that they don’t ship to the UK. It is also available from Sonic Cathedral in the UK, vinyl has sold out but the CDs are still available.

This song opens with a laid back beat, slightly distorted riff and subtle distorted bass drone, the synth sound is excellent. The vocals are quite subtly placed in the mix which gives them an ethereal quality. It’s a great sound, somewhere between synth wave, post punk and stoner rock with nice solo with feedback.

It Must be the only Way
The opening riff has a blues / rock quality, the vocals have that same ethereal feel. Drumming and bass enter to give an excellent momentum with a distorted riff. A great contrast between these two parts.

A bass arp and excellent synth sound to open, the distorted guitar riff adds a great element. There are really nice harmonies in the vocals and the distorted drone sound gives a great tension which is released to end the song.

The Sound of All Things
This follows seamlessly from the previous song with an excellent atmospheric opening from a swirling synth sound and excellent sound effects. This is followed by an excellent synth string sound layered over background sounds.
Drumming enters to give a great momentum and change of feel. The vocals are more upfront and have a dreamy quality with really nice use of reversed vocals. The distorted guitar gives an excellent contrast.

Waves Over Shadows
There’s a jangly quality to the opening of this song with a synth riff and chord vamp. The vocals have an excellent dreamy quality and there’s a great contrast with the emerging drone type sound which builds tension to a sudden release.

La Distincion
A great uptempo opening from drumming, bass, riff and distorted guitar riff. The vocals have an unearthly feel at times. There’s a nice change of feel leading back into the verse followed by an excellent solo and release to end the song.

Father’s Tears
I really like the bird sounds which open the song with a guitar riff and synth string sound, vocals are quite subtly placed in the mix again. There’s an ambience to the song but also an edge of tension.

Waves Under Shadows
An atmospheric opening propelled by bass arp and drumming, the song has a laid back groove with riff and distorted drone elements. The lead guitar is distorted with a great tone which fades out returning to the ambience and a riff with nice movement in pitch to end.

Eco Echo
A swirling opening synth is accompanied by a distorted riff and given great momentum by drumming and percussive rhythm. The vocals have a reverse quality to them and quite an unearthly feel. Great feedback effects to end the song.

Keep up with Captcha Records:
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Keep up with Sonic Cathedral:
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Keep up with Lorelle Meets the Obsolete:
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