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Gackt ‎- Mars

Mars

Label: Dears ‎– CRCP-40130, Crown (3) ‎– CRCP-40130
Format: CD, Album
Country: Japan
Released: 26 Apr 2000
Genre: Rock, Pop
Style: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock


This is good. I grow up listening to Rock and Pop from Japan. Gackt is one of my favorite artists ever. You should really give it a try.


In context, Mars was an important step for Gackt following Mizerable. There was no doubt that he could hold out on his own, Mizerable showed that without falter, the next question was of course: could he hold out for an entire LP? As practically flawless as Mizerable was, Gackt only showed us that he could put together 4 consistent songs and it’s not like he was a huge songwriter in Malice Mizer, so how was Mars going to turn out?

Short answer: perfectly. Long answer: Mars was an absolutely flawless transition after Mizerable, not only ending up as being the only thing that could logically have been expected, but also surpassing what should have been expected. The moment the transition from “Ares” to “Asrun Dream” hits, you know exactly what you’ve been set up for. Gackt doesn’t just go big, he goes huge and accomplishes a lot of things that he never would have been able to as part of Malice Mizer but also appears to still have their basic principles carved into his chest. For example, “Mirror’s” arena rock would not have gelled with the baroque elegance of an album like Merveilles whereas “freesia’s” melodramatic ballad like vocals and heavenly piano solo would have felt right at home.

Mars is everything that Gackt’s career was up until his solo career and everything he would excel at later on. As eclectic as it is, there is not a single moment that feels uncomfortable or out of place. Gackt cleanly showcases that he can be a flirtatious pop star with the seductive brass sections of “Vanilla” and then transition, unquestioned and without error, into a neo-classical composer with the “freesia” ops, weaving some magnificent textures. To further support Mars as a culmination of Gackt’s various musical talents, he simultaneously displays his gift for song writing, performance and how three-dimensionally he can be personally connected to his music with “Emu 〜For my Dear〜” and “U + K”, two pieces written in memory of his ex-band mate and good friend Kami. While “Emu” functions more as a requiem, seeping all of the drama and heartbreak that comes from losing someone close to you, dynamic shifts abundant (even dropping right of into silence in the middle of the song) “U + K” is more like a eulogy, taking the form of a far more light-hearted pop song; the “laughy” bridge being one of the albums highlights, connecting intimately with the nostalgic child in all of us.

As with virtually everything else Gackt has been involved in, Mars is extremely artsy in its execution, most obviously apparent in the middle of the album with the “freesia” ops, but most blatantly with “Illness Illusion”. Strange ambient sounds and bass thrum while some almost baroque instrumentation plays, with Gackt singing in a bizarre voice over the top. The song goes from this into a big, classic Gackt chorus while maintaining the baroque aesthetic and back and forth between the two styles in a rather brief time slot. Of course, Gackt did not forget the aspects that made Mizerable so special and has stuck to that bill while keeping it fresh with tracks like “dears”, one of the albums strongest moments with its crisp acoustic guitars, blissful violin leads and his own eloquent vocal hooks. The album’s closer sure isn’t a slacker either, it’s big, it’s flamboyant and it’s moving. The acoustic guitar slowly blends into the electric soundscapes backing it and Gackt progressively pours more and more energy into his vocal delivery, building up into a chorus of children, reaching it’s crescendo and then… it’s all over, ending as inconspicuously as it began.

Without putting a single foot backwards, Gackt managed to set his future as one of Japan’s biggest solo superstars with Mars. As refreshing as it is to the book, Gackt pushed every scrap of his musical and performance talent as he could into Mars’ precisely 50 minute running time (and I’m talking exactly 50 minutes to the second, at least on the first press). Gackt skills are pretty much undeniable here and Mars continues to offer new experiences with each return listen. While Gackt managed to answer Mizerable in the only possible way, I guess the real real question would be: how well could he continue to hold out?

From sputnikmusic, by INTERNATIONAL POPSTAR STEVEN WILSON
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Discovery Recommended

Gaussian Curve – Clouds

Clouds

Label: Music From Memory ‎– MFM004
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: Netherlands
Released: 2014
Genre: Electronic
Style: Ambient, Downtempo


It’s been a while since I listened to a album that got my attention so hard than this one.

It’s beautiful. It’s dense. It’s well made.

Hard to say but somewhat hard adjectives for today’s ambient music.

My favorite track is Impossible Island.


After reading a few negative comments about both pressings, I decided to pick up the 2016 repress anyway (the back cover differs slightly with an extra date added in bottom right corner). My copy sounds great with any slight noise/pop/crackle from the pressing being mostly unobtrusive. Red Light is perhaps the only track where it draws my attention a little as the track itself is very sparse so any defects are very clear. I am only posting this to let others know that the whole repress is not poor quality. You can certainly enjoy this beautiful music on vinyl!

Comment by Pistachios on this page
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Recommended

Jóhann Jóhannsson – IBM 1401, A User’s Manual

IBM 1401, A User’s Manual

Label: 4AD
Format: CD
Country: UK
Released: 2006
Genre: Classical, Electronic
Style: Modern Classical



Comes in a four-panel digipak with a liner notes paper sticked inside.

The orchestra was recorded at Barrandov Studios, Smecky Soundstage in Prague in September 2005.

Additional recordings were made in Reykjavik, Skálholt, Florence, Madrid, Zurich, Piran and Rennes during the period 2003-2006. Mixed in Syrland, Reykjavik in February 2006.

Mastered in Abbey Road.

Tracks two and three feature the voice of “an unknown instructor from an IBM 1401 Data Processing System maintenance instruction tape found in my father’s attic.”

All electronic sounds were derived from the IBM 1401 Data Processing System and the Hammond B3 organ with Ring Modulator, Distortion and Filter pedals. The music and sounds of the IBM 1401 Data Processing System were recorded by Jóhann Gunnarsson, Örn Kaldalóns and Elías Davídsson in Reykjavik in 1971. The musical fragment played by the computer is from the hymn “Ísland Ögrum Skorid” by Sigvaldi Kaldalóns, used by kind permission.

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Recommended

Boards of Canada – Random 35 Tracks Tape

No oficial cover.

Random 35 Tracks Tape

Label: Music70
Format: Cassette
Country: UK
Released: 1995?
Genre: Electronic
Style: IDMDowntempo, Ambient



Random 35 Tracks Tape (real name unknown) refers to a collection of 35 tracks leaked on P2P networks around September 2004. Unlike other “Old Tunes” tapes, the tracks are completely unlabeled; however, a few match known tracks from other sources, including commercial releases. No liner notes or tape scan have ever surfaced.Despite its uncertain provenance, the tape is generally believed to be authentic.

Background

Random 35 Tracks Tape seems to be sourced from a cassette tape containing a (presumably) hand-selected set of pre-BoC Maxima tracks. The leaking of these tracks to P2P networks (Soulseek, originally) provided much drama on WATMM.All files are encoded as 320kbps MP3.

For a long time, it was assumed that this tape was the missing Old Tunes Vol. 1 (since A Few Old Tunes and Old Tunes Vol. 2 were already known), although this was never confirmed. This was finally proven false when, on 08 Aug 2009, Twoism forum member dealer posted new photos of a cassette and liner notes showing the A Few Old Tunes and Old Tunes Vol. 1 were, in fact, the same release.

MDG has said that it is not known who compiled the tracks, calling it “a mystery, just a mixture”.

Zoetrope, a user on radiomute.com, refferred to not only the commonly known A few Old Tunes and Old Tunes vol. 2, but also a third volume, which he appeared to reffer to this leaked release as. Some also seem to believe that this is a ‘Closes vol. 2’.

Download link soon.

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Recommended

Grouper – A I A : Alien Observer

A I A : Alien Observer

Label: Yellow Records
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: US
Released: April 2011
Genre: Rock
Style: Experimental, Drone, Ambient


The tools Liz Harris uses to make music as Grouper tend to be pretty basic: piano, guitar, synths, drones, hiss, and lots of reverb. If you’ve been following along with the twists and turns of noisy ambient music these last few years, this collection of elements may sound familiar, possibly bordering on cliché. But it’s all in how you fit the pieces together. Despite sharing characteristics with a lot of other current music, Harris’ has a distinctive sound that she pretty much owns. These short LPs, released at the same time and that share an overall aesthetic, sound beamed in from another realm, and they also sound like they could have come from no one else.

Part of the distinctiveness can be traced to Harris’ voice, which floats above the music and can sound delicate and shrouded and mist and can also evince an approachable earthiness. Particularly on Alien Observer, she layers her voice in a way that occasionally brings to mind Julianna Barwick, but Harris sounds comparatively distant and less immersive. Her voice haunts these songs instead of leading them; it’s a presence and not a personality, and the voice and instruments are in balance, serving each other without any one element becoming more prominent.

The other aspect that sets Grouper apart is an approach to sound that feels somehow both cruder and more sophisticated than the majority of the lo-fi crop. It’s crude in the sense that it seems to hearken back to the dark, home-recorded songs of an earlier era. David Pearce’s music as Flying Saucer Attack, recorded mostly during the 1990s, was often referred to as “rural psychedelia,” and that description would fit this pair of records. This music feels both spacey and expansive and also oddly intimate and grounded, the work of someone who has mastered her tools and knows how to get the most out of them. The sophistication comes from the care in presentation. This music doesn’t sound like it was built from mistakes or thrown together, it seems precisely ordered and arranged even while it’s often muffled and warbly and distorted. Every sound exists for a reason.

Full review and more please follow this link [http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/15332-a-i-a-alien-observer-a-i-a-dream-loss/].

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Recommended

Dolphins Into The Future – Canto Arquipélago

Canto Arquipélago

Label: Underwater Peoples Records
Format: Vinyl, LP
Country: US
Released: March 2012
Genre: Electronic, Non-Music
Style: Abstract, Field Recording, Experimental, Poetry


This sound will take you out your bedroom for a small trip around windy mounts. I promise you.


“There is something phenomenally enticing about a sequestered island chain, literally bounded by a vast and enveloping sea.Perhaps it’s the romance of discovery – the knowledge that here lies the safety of land within the great seclusion of nature. Perhaps it’s the raw beauty that is simply emerald speckled turquoise.Lieven Moana as Dolphins Into The Future dedicates his latest effort to the Azores, a remarkably beautiful volcanic archipelago that lacks very little by way of inspiration. The ambient conjurer weaves glorious tones and minimal percussion with brilliant and evocative field recording, having spent several weeks on the island cluster for this body of work. “Once an island gets born,” Lieven articulates, “it’s a continuous struggle, a continuous dialogue, a learning, a BATTLE and cooperation of influences. The sea starts bashing on it’s shores. Erosion starts the complete demolition of the island. But at the same time, sun and sea give birth and food… Archipelagos have a heavy rhythm.”

Quoted from http://underwaterpeoples.com/

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Recommended

Nathan Fake – The Sky Was Pink

The Sky Was Pink

Label: Border Community
Format: Vinyl, 12″
Country: UK
Released: Aug 2004
Genre: Electronic
Style: Leftfield, Progressive House, IDM, Downtempo, Minimal


Of course, the remix of James Holden is absolutely self-dependent track on this release. With its help the world has got to know the name of N. Fake. Of course, if a moment of inspiration of J. Holden would have concurred with appearance of another track, not Fake’s, the world would have got similar masterpiece. In support of this – Holden’s Techno Tool Remix is based absolutely on Holden’s main remix. The Dancefloor has got a similar example – Timo Maas with his remix of Azzido Da Bass “Dooms Night” (have you ever heard the original version?).

But it’s not fair not to keep in mind the Fake’s creation. It should be named here – Original Live Take and Icelandic Version. Beautiful (!) melodic progressive downtempo tracks with especial FX, catchy melodie, exclusive IDM-like production. Master’s at work!

Review by IntelliGiant [http://www.discogs.com/user/IntelliGiant/]

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Recommended

Sinoia Caves – The Enchanter Persuaded

The Enchanter Persuaded

Label: Brah Records
Format: CD, Album
Country: US
Released: 2006
Genre: Rock, Electronic
Style: Progressive Rock, Ambient


The Enchanter Persuaded, the debut album from Black Mountain keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt (billed here as Sinoia Caves), is a nice example of the early-21st century’s fascination with synthesizers. Unlike his contemporaries, who tend to echo new wave acts, Schmidt draws inspiration from a different pack of synth gods — bands that boasted cosmic monikers like Tangerine Dream and Hawkwind, musicians who wielded their Moogs and Mellotrons like mighty swords.And as such, this album shouldn’t be viewed as a particularly innovative work but rather as an adept tribute to the analog wizards of the mid-’70s and early ’80s. The standout tracks here are the soundscapes, which echo Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra both in terms of the vast aural territory covered and in terms of actual length. “Dwarf Reaching the Arch Wonder” and “Sundown in the New Arcades (Milky Way Echo)” make for over half an hour of galactic terrain built on sheet after sheet of analog synth and Mellotron effects.

There’s a definite sense of composition here; every whoosh and drone serves the structure, and Schmidt does a good job of keeping these sprawling compositions under tight rein. Shorter, acoustic guitar and vocoder-knit tracks like “Naro Way” and “Through the Valley” are a nice break from the epic stuff going on elsewhere, and they’ll probably draw more than a few comparisons to some of the tracks on Air’s 10,000 Hz Legend. From the druggy green cover art right down to the humid, slightly grimy production, The Enchanter Persuaded is a convincing period piece, not to mention a fitting showcase for Schmidt’s impressive synth sorcery.

Review by allmusic [http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-enchanter-persuaded-mw0000451923]

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Recommended

Loscil – Plume

Plume

Label: Kranky ‎– krank096
Format: CD, Album
Country: US
Released: 22 May 2006
Genre: Electronic
Style: Abstract, Minimal, Ambient


Vancouver based Scott Morgan is a sound director within the video game industry. But that’s his daytime job, and his contemporary ambient soundscapes constructed with looping oscillators (a similar function in Csound computer language is compounded to Loscil) don’t have much in common with game music.

In contrast, Morgan’s fourth album Plume, on Chicago’s Kranky Records, is a relaxing, atmospheric, and hypnotic trip unfolding layers of sound complimented by ethereal percussion, gentle xylophone taps, and strums of elbow guitar. For Morgan, the creation of music starts “with a harmonic root from which sounds [are] processed into a loose structure over which the live players could improvise”. Each track within the album grows, transitions, and gradually develops into a piece bestowing a specific state of mind or a flashback to a concrete memory.

A quote from Morgan’s elaboration on a piece capturing the growth of family, if you will: ” ‘Charlie’ was composed after seeing/hearing my daughter Sadie through ultrasound while she was still in the womb. The track was also partly composed as a womb-like sound experience for her to sleep to after she was born, hence the heart beats…”

Recommended if you like his ambient label mates, Stars of the Lid, or other excellent artists in the modern classical genre, like Helios, Deaf Center, and Xela.

Review by Headphone_Commute

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Recommended

Field Music – Tones of Town

Tones of Town

Label: Memphis Industries
Format: CD
Country: England
Released: 2007
Genre: Rock
Style: Indie Rock, Pop Rock


Try listening to this album while you cook or go to college or to work, it’s funny. If you take the train, it’s nice listening to them in that nostalgic cold of the morning.


Field Music’s gorgeous, audacious 2005 debut wound up eclipsed by the jerky pop success of north-east comrades Futureheads and Maxïmo Park. Following last year’s backstory comp Write Your Own History, their second album proper takes them ahead of the pack.

Emboldened by a year on the road, they’re now a glorious band – supple as a jazz trio, punctual as a chamber troupe – and TOT plays to their new strengths, augmenting tricky prettiness with bold vigour. Simultaneously more pop (“A House Is Not A Home”) and more extreme (“Give It Lose It Take It”) than their debut, it sets the benchmark for – what shall we call it? British Prog Pop? – in 2007.