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17th September 2014

Just Music Café
Vol. 4: The Ambient Zone


 

 

 

 

 

 


 

16th September 2014
 

Last week Apple and U2 made music history by offering the Irish outfits’ latest release, Songs of Innocence, as a free download to all iTunes users. Whilst undoubtedly having financial motives for both parties, the move is also a strong statement in support of the album format.

U2's manager Guy Oseary recently told Billboard magazine that: "The band really wants people to engage with albums, they want them to support the art form of artwork and lyrics and video content and just get into their music in a much different way than an MP3 file. This is a long relationship."

There are rumours that Apple are working on high-def audio support for iOS 8, but it seems that this latest collaboration could be part of a new plans to develop ways of interacting with lyric and artwork content whilst enjoying an album from a mobile device.

Whether or not it will spur more creative strategies to prolong the lifespan of the album remains to be seen, but it bodes well to see a band like U2 making these kinds of moves in support of the beloved LP format.

#SaveTheAlbum

 


 

5th September 2014
Save The Album | Echaskech (Dom) Top 5 Albums

Here are my top 5 albums (not 'most important', cos sometimes an important album can be a bit shit ;-)  These are my top 5 perfect all time listens (so far)!

Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
One minute of 'Ready let's go' and the opening bars of 'Music is Math' have to to rate as the most emotive starts to any album I have ever listened to. It’s a real 'are you sitting comfortably' moment, because what is about to come will make you melt.  'Gyroscope' is a clear 10 years ahead of its time, but we are only in the early stages. At its core 'Sunshine recorder', 'Julie and Candy', '1969' and 'The Beach at Redpoint' enthral, and groove just enough to bring some lucidity to an album that is a giddying journey of psychedelic beauty.
 
Leftfield - Leftism
The daddy of all 'dance music' albums?  Perhaps we're showing our age but we can't help but shiver with excitement when listening to this. The mood is perfect, the album as a whole builds from beauty into groove and heart stopping drops, tailing to a reflective end. Unlike all the other albums reviewed here it is hard to say it is more than the sum of its parts, the reason being simply that each track, on its own is a stone cold classic hit. One after the other. Almost any track on it would send any festival crowd in to a tizz, even today, and next year it is 20 YEARS OLD! Gah!
 
Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
I first thought of 'In Rainbows' which is a close contender. But this is a less obvious option, and a more consistent album. This is MY favourite Radiohead album. And Radiohead have done so many truly astonishing albums that it is no wonder that everyone has a different one. But this hangs together perfectly, with wonderfully constructed songs throughout. A deeply haunting opening 3 tracks (2 + 2 = 5, Sit Down, Stand up (little raindrops!), Sail to the moon), then, oh my, sublimest of sublime 'electronic' tracks 'Backdrifts' which builds and morphs to a fantastic climax, which along with 'The Gloaming' are the only exceptions to making this album the most 'non electronic' album since OK Computer. For a reflective and sombre listen only perhaps, but unsurpassed at that.


Underworld - Beaucoup Fish
Off, On. Off, On.  A schizophrenic album. One slow track, one stormer, and repeat.  You could listen to all the 'odd' tracks and have a chill album, every 'even' one and you have a bonafide, stonking, dance album. Try it!...with the exception of the last 2 tracks which switch.


Albums fall in to many categories, one of which is 'A journey'. This is not one of those. This album is a different beast, but it is 'definitive'. It is a collection of work that defines Underworld. It is the perfection of everything they had done until then, and is what they are compared to since. It defines a 'sound'. And to an extent it defined the end of the 1990s and the new millennium.


And so many 'hits'; Jumbo, King of Snake, Push, Moaner.  Not to mention Kittens which is probably one of the most underrated of their tracks ever...its perfection.  As is the whole album.

It closes with one of the most brutal techno tracks you will ever hear, Moaner. And anyone who has seen them live will understand why it ironically makes almost cry to hear it. What a finale!
 
Orbital - Insides
So, this has it all. The opening bars, ominous and beautiful rolling in to a 10 minute long classic that could only ever exist on an album. Followed by one of the finest examples of brooding electro-breaks you could every hear, Petrol. Then we get in to the meat. The Box. Part 1 is a beautiful overture, exquisitely protracted...and now, for me one of the finest moments in any album, and a moment that can only exist in the context of an album, the segue between 6.10 of Box 1 and the start of Box 2. Pure joy. Box (Part 2) is a total classic. Then we have the track no-one can pronounce, Dwr Budr, but it is sublime and has all the Orbital light touch breaks and vocal loop beauty you could ever wish for. Same goes for Adnans, except here are the bleeps and soaring melodies.

The climax of the album deserves its own paragraph. A paragraph with little in it other than to say that the last 25 minutes of 'In Sides' is unsurpassed in the form of 'Out There Somewhere'. Containing another one of those great Segue moments between the 2 halves this is another 'track' that could only exist on an album, progressing , meandering, building, dropping and finally wrapping up a timeless 'Journey'. The finest 25 minutes of album listening, ever.


Like 'Beaucoup Fish' this album is, for Orbital the definitive album for me. It is strewn with loose sync'd breaks and 'live' sounding arrangements but is pure in its perfection, no distractions, you can almost hear the the guys crabbing and tweaking their hearts out from start to glorious finish.


(Note: Albums sometimes change. And this album is a perfect reminder of the palpable effect of a 'body of work'. When I refer to 'In Sides' I refer to the original 8 track release. Since then other tracks have been added, no doubt for marketing reasons. 'The Saint' being the most common, but 'Satan' as well in some cases. It is very clear that these are tacked on additions and weren't written in context, which only goes to prove an albums value. Only listen to Tracks 1 to 8 ;-)

 


 

4th September 2014
Save The Album | Sam Thomas Top 5 Albums

"My five favourite albums in no particular order, kind of an impossible thing to say as there are so many but here are five that come to mind..."

Fantomas – Director’s Cut
I’m a big Mike Patton fan but my favourite of his guises are Tomahawk and Fantomas. Director’s Cut just blows my mind, the sounds it comes out with, the experimentation, the technical ability, stunning production. From beauty to madness, it’s all there.

Frank Zappa – Zoot Allures
I was given this album in my teens by my Aunt and Uncle, it’s remained my favourite Zappa album ever since. For me it’s the most cohesive of his albums. There’s plenty of humour, darkness and irony but I think he does it more subtly on Zoot Allures compared to his other stuff. There’s so much atmosphere on that album, such a good vibe throughout.

Nico Fitz – The Essential Nico Fitz
Nico is an unsigned friend of mine. I met him at a multi-national university band camp in Germany (he’s from Ireland) where he was giving out free copies of ‘The Essential Nico Fitz’. He is very prolific so managed to fit all his material into a ‘best-of’ collection. He made the whole thing in his bedroom and it is just fantastic, I never tire of it. Brilliant song writing, harmony, melodies, ideas and all done in such a charmingly resourceful and hand-made way. I’m amazed he isn’t better known.

Paul and Linda McCartney – Ram
I’d never heard Paul McCartney sound like this before my producer Mark introduced me to this album. It’s so natural and effortless sounding. There isn’t a track on there that I don’t love, it just keeps coming and coming, great tune after great tune like one stream of consciousness that never gets old.

Bob Dylan – Desire
This album is like being read to aloud with musical accompaniment. All the songs sound like they’re being played by the same live band which I really like, the music is quite repetitive but it never seems that way because you’re so transfixed by the next short story being told over the top, but of course it’s even better than storytelling because it’s being sung. I think Bob Dylan really pulls out the stops vocally on this album too.

 


 

4th September 2014
New Ben Mynott Mix

Hear Just Music's inhouse DJ's, Ben Mynott, AKA Fluidnation, new mix featuring the likes of Max Cooper, Jon Hopkins, Echaskech, Olafur Arnalds, Onyricon, Leo Mas, Templehof and The Beloved.

just.beautiful.music

 

 


 

30th August 2014

Out 22nd September

“If an electronic track can be a limpid pool, this one is. Not a ripple touches the surface, not a single speck of dust clouds the glassy stillness. Weightless the album contains five more similarly translucently gorgeous tracks”
The Sunday Times

“ An ethereal sense of eternally free flowing dimensions...worth the wait”
DJ Mag 8/10

“Two years after [Weightless] was declared 'the most relaxing tune ever' they've delivered five further, equally calming, pieces worthy of men once asked to remaster the Eno's back catalogue”
Uncut 8/10

 


 

26th August 2014
Save The Album | Digitonal Top 5 Albums

Ok, so firstly, this is a preposterously impossible task. Music is intrinsically tied to my state of mind most of the time and 'favourites' come and go as my mood does.  So for this excercise I'm going to go with a definition of most enduring - the albums I come back to again and again.

Vangelis - Blade Runner OST
Probably the finest album of electronic music ever written. It's just made of atmosphere - the level of detail in the sound design is just immense.  This is the reason why so much electronica still sounds like the future.

Monteverdi - Vespers 1610
There are hundreds of classical pieces I could choose, but this is just a masterclass in harmony. Where it all started for me in many ways - I've made oblique references to this in many of my tracks and I just find it the most astonishing piece of work, particularly when performed.

Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children
I still remember vividly the moment I first heard Aquarius, listening to Pete Lawrence doing a Kiss FM show. This is pretty much a perfect album in how evocative and timeless it is.  It defines everything that's amazing about the genre.

Gravenhurst - Flashlight Seasons
I used to hang out in Smallfish Records a lot and they'd always give me a stack of vinyl to go through. One day, I realise I'm listening to what's on in the store more than what's on the deck and it's this record. Immediately bought and it's got me through more hard times and heartache than anything else in the world.  To this day it still has the ability to make me cry like a baby.  He's the most underrated musician in the UK by a country mile.

Pixies - Bossanova
Controversial this once since most people regard it as a weaker album (though it's still streets ahead of most people's best), but I don't care because this is sound of my teenage years.  I learnt guitar playing along to Is She Weird.  I have listened to a Pixies album at least once a month for over 20 years. That's quite something isn't it?

 


 

18th August 2014
Save The Album | Echaskech Top 5 Albums

Here are the 5 most important albums ever according to the gospel of Andy 'Echaskech' Gillham.

Miles Davis - In a Silent Way
Ambient space jazz from 1969 that could only really exist in 'long player' format. Edited, chopped and looped together from dozens of tapes by producer Teo Macereo, the care put into that aspect of the album is as much a part of its beauty as the sounds from the musicians themselves.

Kraftwerk - Computer World
Fast forward to 1981 and it takes these guys to create what's probably my favourite electronic album of all time. A prescient subject matter as forward thinking as the music within.

Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92
A tough call this one as almost placed Autechre's 'Amber' here but in terms of how often I've listened to and enjoyed this album over the years, Richard D James wins. We await in hope for volume 3!

Orbital - Insides
Not far behind Kraftwerk as an all time favourite is this one - only the album format can afford an act like Orbital to indulge in the fabulous 24 minute 'Out There Somewhere' album closer.

Pye Corner Audio - Black Mill Tapes Vol 3 & 4
Deceptively simple melodic electronic music - and proof that album length work in this genre is far from dead. I could quite easily swap this for Sleep Games by the same artist. So often the key to great music is simple melodies somehow presented in a way you've never heard before...

 


 

14th August 2014
Opdot - Opus One | Special Offer

To coincide with their recent live performance in Nottingham this week, we are offering Opdot's debut album, Opus One, for just £7.99 for a limited time only.

Available from the Just Music store.

 


 

14th August 2014

These tracks started out as entries to the Echaskech remix competition. The quality of entries was so high that the band decided to get some of their favourites mastered and released for your listening pleasure.

All the tracks are available to download for free or donation.