Reviews

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While Amtrac tends to find himself on remix duty for most of the year, it goes without saying that he also sneaks in a couple original tracks all his own. His forthcoming release is a two piece EP on the esteemed Armada imprint. Possibly his best work to date, he’s really falling into his own and it’s quite a pleasure to hear him hone his craft. Locked in grooves complimented with some ace sound design make this an extremely well polished package that drops on June 2nd. For those heading out to Palm Springs for Splash House, be on the look out for Amtrac’s poolside set.

Last week I caught up with Different Sleep, a Chicago-based producer who first came on my radar with his very like-able, sun-rays-on-my-bed type track “Get Ahead” which obviously stole my heart with the Drake sample. In a happy not-so-coincidence, Different Sleep signed his latest release over to LA-based Friends of Friends, who aside from being teamed by a few particularly awesome people are just generally releasing cool, interesting, and unique material.
The Conflict EP is a definite shift for Different Sleep, and heads in a more moody direction than his previous works – aided by the first time with his own vocals. There’s a predominant sense of heartbreak, but as many of the world’s favorite films have managed to do time and time again, the EP lends itself to a beautiful and dreamlike state. The opening track manages to take a shuffled drum pattern to an effortless, transient place, where Different Sleep’s own vocals appear for the first time. “Slow Things Down” strips the drums away for an achingly wonderful piano-driven piece. Vocals from Dirty Gold on “Cold” put everything into slow motion, and the closer track “Damage” picks up where “Conflict” left off, bringing back the shuffled drums and truncated synths that weave through each ear with a graceful and slight sense of urgency. The EP is as if you were to fall through the various stages of heartbreak with an airy and enlightened sense of being… it rises above anger and aggression to a tender and yet still aching bubble.
You can read my chat with Different Sleep after the jump, where we discuss everything from Justin Bieber to the importance of understanding the music business and why everything from Toronto is better. You can check him out tonight at The Echo with Jerome LOL (who’s premiering his new live setup) and tomorrow when Friends of Friends does their takeover of Low End Theory.

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I had the real pleasure of hanging out quite a bit with the gLAdiator boys last week in Miami, and after knowing Ian (readily donned with glasses and at least one bucket hat) from our original industry trench days I have to say I’m quite pleased to see how far they’ve come. April 1st marked the release of their gettup / party-burner EP Assembly Line on Fool’s Gold and I think they kinda nailed it with this one. gLAdiator’s honest approach to just having a genuine GOOD TIME is tangible from their presence on stage to the structure in their songs.

The EP begins with “Work” – a record set at the perfect pitch, tempo, and range to easily launch this into a category with other big festival anthems… “Sweat” takes a heavy nod towards A-Trak’s production style, with stuttering reverb toppling itself over disco-oriented chords. Then you have “Assembly Line” which is almost exactly what you’d expect it to be… a drippy and rolling track with various leads and growls, chants and twangs… you can tell the guys had fun with this one. Or it took them like six months. Who knows. Unsurprisingly the EP continues it’s well-structured progression and you dive right into “230 Feeling” which with a militant drum intro and whooping sirens inevitably means you’re not really going to bed til the sun comes out. And finally, “Weekend” takes trap music canons of hollow eastern-european influenced bells and chants like “Where my white girls at?” and cuts them into something interesting by the aid of a perfectly chopped vocal synth cry.

Overall I have to say a valiant effort from the guys, they cover a lot of ground here and amongst the heavy midst of various trap artists who’ve found solace in the super low-end or rampaging horns of the genre, gLAdiator take a welcomed seat right in the middle. It’s neither completely cheesy nor over-saturated, which is a simple nod to gLAdiator just having fun making what they want to make. Their honesty and effervescence as musicians will assuredly be what sustains them on the ever-changing map of dance music. Nice one, guys.

You can go buy the Assembly Line EP on Beatport or iTunes or wherever music is sold, and you can stream it below.

On Tuesday Los Angeles based creative genius Jerome LOL released his Deleted/Fool EP on home label Friends of Friends. Having previously released an album on FoF as the now defunct LOL Boys, Jerome’s new EP is his first official solo release. I could throw words around about Jerome being a sort of avant-garde musical and visual curator, or how his aesthetic bleeds originality in its cheeky complexities and colorful simplicities – but that would be selling him short, and missing the point. My lack of ability to really envelop Jerome LOL as an entity is precisely his appeal. The off-kilter balance of this ‘tumblr-era x internet 1.0 x 90′s branding’ visual mish-mash with the delicateness and deeper meaning of Jerome LOLs musical endeavors is in my humble opinion so cleverly curated that I am just consistently in awe. Jerome’s filtering and curating of a dizzying amount of visual and audio influences from everywhere across the spectrum into a concise and branded look and sound is something I’ve always respected. His DJ sets are interesting and fun, his label Body High is a wonderful homage to LA and dance music origins while keeping releases and artists fresh and cool, and his music videos are insanely unique and some of my favorites:

The four-track EP begins with “Deleted,” starts with Jerome’s signature swinging drums, in true-to-form fashion created by an antiquated and distorted piece, the DJX-2. The claps and swing fade as Sara Z’s cool and sensitive vocals come in, with clear cut changes in the cord progressions between each verse carrying the mood. It’s these subtleties in the undertones that reveal the emotional complexities of the track – doubling computer jargon with the destruction of a relationship (“we’re offline, no course of action” “control, escape, command, delete, it’s all in our hands”). The track evolves and grows in almost pop-song format with repeated choruses and verses, a bridge and an outro, which shuts off all the drums just before Sara utters her last line- printing the track in your head.

“Always” continues with the cymbal-heavy, swinging drum patterns, this time lighter in feeling given the faster pattern & more effervescent vocals. The keys in the chorus are touching and warm, and the various inflexions of Sara’s voice on the word “Always” is captivating and soulful. The heavy distortion on the bassline and clanging drums on “Fool” flip the EP from pop-leanings to a much more club/warehouse mindset, until Angelina Lucero’s melancholy and poignant vocals rip you off your shuffling feet and onto the floor. But as the heavy bassline fades, a glockenspiel-sounding bridge comes in before Angelina’s chorus comes in, aided by incredibly pitched-up echoes of her voice carrying each line. The clanging drums and garage moodiness are met by the pitch shifts and “this instrument can never sound sad” use of the glockenspiel – it’s this touch of color in an otherwise entirely depressing track that is a common theme in Jerome’s work. The EP closes with “True”, another considerably moody song from Angelina Lucero’s teethy and slow vocals and sort of rain-down-your-windowpane piano chords that rain so heavily on the track it nearly drowns out her vocals until the very end.

Like with all artists that have developed their own signature patterns and sounds, I see the argument from both sides on Jerome’s heavy use of jazzy/swing drums and pop-oriented progressions: on one side it doesn’t have an grand sense of variety, but on the other it’s clearly a sound and vibe that nobody else is really doing. You can identify a Jerome LOL track from just a few seconds of listening, but because of that the tracks can be considered to start sounding the same. I’m personally more drawn to the ‘Deleted’ half of the EP, which to me is an example of the vibe of work I enjoy most from Jerome; the ‘Fool’ half dives much deeper into a darker side of his music which I simply do not grasp as well – I think that’s a side he’s still sonically developing. But I do have to give props to Jerome for really nailing the structure of his tracks.

You can purchase the EP on Bandcamp HERE or on iTunes HERE:

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Madness. Pure un-adulterated debauchery. You’ve heard good music before, but none like what Parov Stelar has to offer. They know that, the people of Europe know that, and now after watching their 40-minute tour documentary, I know that. It’s like a wormhole was opened up after a successful séance and the spirit and soul of the roaring twenties came ripping to the front of the stage. Combine that with modern dance culture and a melting pot of amazing vibes ruminates throughout the different venues. It’s not easy, putting on a Parov Stelar show. There’s three piece bands, five piece bands, and then there are the seven members that comprise Parov Stelar’s band. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard, in the best way possible. It’s unique, in a nostalgic sort of way. Not that you know what the roaring twenties were like, but one can certainly understand the explosion of individualism in modern terms, and that’s what makes the sound so exciting. Continue Reading

A couple months ago I happened to catch a ridiculous set by Felix Da Housecat at one of Bang On NYC‘s legendary parties. As a budding DJ and self proclaimed tech geek I wanted to know what he was using to mix with and was pleasantly surprised to find that Felix has taken up Traktor. So when Native Instruments reached out to offer me a chance to check out some of their gear, you bet I said yes!

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Moby Innocents

Moby has been on quite the promotional tear of late for his recently released album ‘Innocents,’ his eleventh studio album to date. After NPR provided fans with the first listen last week, and performing two songs on Conan O’Brien the other night, tonight he’ll play the first of three LIVE performances at The Fonda Theatre here in Los Angeles. Tomorrow at 11:15am PST he’ll be a guest on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, and Friday fans will be able to livestream the now sold-out Fonda Theatre show online for free.

All this to promote ‘Innocents,’ which came out this week on Mute. Get our thoughts on the album after the jump, and if you’re in LA tickets for tonight and Thursday are still available HERE!
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Remix Artist Collective began with the best intentions, to combine multiple musical minds in order to create the best possible sound but rapidly became focused on the Remix, as one Artist rapidly established his name in the industry. André Allen Anjos’ paved the way for the premiere of his debut EP, “Don’t Talk To,” with an internet trail of popular remixes, but boldly presents a sound to call his own in the first original work to bear his name. With the release of the EP on Cherrytree Records we got the chance to sit down with the artist known as RAC in their office’s over at Interscope. Continue Reading

All different walks of life converged in Oakdale, California over the weekend during the Autumnal Equinox for Symbiosis Gathering; a period of time where the balance between the light and dark inside you, and around you, dances in harmony one last time. As the impending Winter slowly overpowers the days of Summer, thousands gathered at the Woodward Reservoir for a festival that was much more about a way of life, than it was music. Their plea for respectful patron-ship echoed loudly in the festival community and came to fruition through careful planning and preparation. With a deep passion for Environmentalism and sustainable living, the festival organizers provided a space that allowed for transformative experiences in the realms of art, music, and community. Brain stimulation ran rampant throughout the different activities scheduled throughout the five days of “Symbi,” as it came to be called. Continue Reading

Le Castle Vania has never really taken any prisoners. In a musical landscape where the winds of change knock over the faint of heart or blow them into a field they cannot grow in, Le Castle Vania remains a steadfast entity who is remarkably true to his roots and more powerful than ever before.

The Prophication EP, out now on mau5trap, is a long time coming for the LA-based producer, and in a tongue-in-cheek naming of the title, is an indicator to an even bigger, badder release. It’s an immense piece of work; the four tracks each contain an explosive amount of sound engineering and layers, from live strings (done with the help of 300′s composer Tyler Bates) to rumbling bass lines.

You can read more about the EP after the jump:
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