When I started checking some of the music that was available freely online, the first thing that I found was there was ton of electronica.  It made sense: electronica is fairly easy to produce since it doesn’t require a major investment in studio space, recording equipement, live performances etc.  However, I found that many of the electronica releases I was listening to were definitely not to the level of music that I was expecting.  How does this release fare?  Read on…

The Groove

From the opening of “bleuacide” you can tell immediately that this recording sets itself above a lot of the more pedestrian groove / funky electronica that is out there.  The artist definitely knows what he is doing, and you quickly find yourself wanting to come along for the ride with him.  Mixing strings, with a catchy hook, some excellent sequences, and Moog-styled synth lines I quickly found myself grooving in my chair, tapping my foot and really enjoying the audio experience on a physical level.  Something that I don’t say very often these days — it takes a lot to make me want to move.

As you move from track to track on this release, the grooves are never ending.  But they aren’t overly repetitive or tiring either.  Which is thethe most immediately likeable thing about this release.  I could easily see myself keeping this on my MP3 player to listen to while I’m at th gym working out — it’s up-beat funky grooves would help power me through walking and/or biking sessions.

The next thing that I have noticed abou this release is the production level.  It would seem to be somewhat easier to produce a good recording these days with all of the digital technology.  And, having worked with both the analog tape medium and dabbled a bit with digital editing, I can say that it is.  However, there is still a level of artistry involved in producing well engineered and produced pieces.  And this recording succeeds in this regard as well.

At first I thought the track naming was kind of gimicky: “midnightblue”, “cyanos”, “reedgray”, etc.  But, as I listened to the tracks, I realized that the titles are specifically related to the pieces.  So, in a way, this release is almost like a series of impressionistic paintings where a specific tone or instrument is used to represent the primary color of the piece.

A Few Outstanding Tracks

As I mentioned above, “bleuacide” immediately grabs your ear, and you know this is not your typical electronica / drum-n-bass release.  The hooks and groove grab you immediately and don’t let you go.  The Rhodes electric piano underlying all the rhythmic intensity made my day.

I really love “midnightblue”.  A Drum-n-Bass style Jazz/Fusion piece.  The lead synthesizer takes me back to the Jeff Lorber Fusion and other early 80’s style electronic jazz.  And the underlying harmonies and chord progressions on the Rhodes piano thrill me to no end (I’m a sucker for a Rhodes piano sound).  This is just a great re-spin of 80’s electronic Jazz/Fusion into a whole new era.

“cyanos” is a great break and funk groove piece in a slightly more medium tempo, that definitely has my attention.  I love the funky gritty-bass synthesizer work.  I’m not used to electric piano being used for the kind of breaks / rhythms in this piece, but it’s a way to do it and sounds totally natural.  I love some of the symbol sounds on this too, a few spots reminded me of Propellerheads – but only slightly.

“deepbluesky” is a wonderfully open and evacative way to end this release.  It drove me along, made me feel like I was flying into the heavens, moving faster and faster until everything was a blur.  It finally ends with an almost blissfully orgasmic auditory release.

Any Failures?

I really don’t like saying that any recording is perfect.  However, I’m finding it very hard to find anything to really fault on this release.  I almost feel like I want to make something up. :)  But, there are only two things that I can say might be considered negative, depending on your perspective.

First is that this is possibly a little to dance oriented.  I know I said above that I could see using this kind of upbeat, rhythm driven music for work outs. And I still maintain that.  However, some might feel that the seeming emphasis on dance-able beats takes away from some exploration into the melodies or harmonic structures that the artist has so deftly put together in this recording.  And example where I felt this was true was in the track “frostyblue”.

The other point is that the engineering / production might be a bit too slick.  I found myself wondering at times whether some of the gimicky engineering tricks were the artists own ideas, or just copied from other recordings that he’s listened.  Don’t take this the wrong way, he or she definitely has a good ear for hooks, and how to engineer them into a piece to make them more effective.  However, maybe just a little too much so.  “reedgray” is a good example of over-engineering a piece with DJ tricks.

With those two items out of the bag, I can’t say that they were all that negative on this recording overall.  When I have to drill into a recording to find that kind of criticism, you can be certain it’s not something that I would notice during a normal listening session.  I’m really putting my ears and mind to the test to find something that I think some people might notice.

License

Released under a CreativeCommons BY-NC-SA, this is a release that I hope others in the community will listen to for inspiration, and take and transform it, and make more sweet music like this.

Summary

I could find very little to criticize about this recording.  Despite the cricism about it being dance oriented, and possibly a bit over produced / engineered, I found that I loved many of the tracks on this recording.  And, in fact, could find none that I really didni’t want to listen to again — even the tracks that I singled out for negative points are solid tracks with many ideas and themes going on in them that I can get past the negative parts.

So, go for it.  This album gets a major, major, major thumbs up from me.  Even if this isn’t your style of music, I think you should give it several serious listens.  There is a lot going on in these pieces that aren’t apparent on a single listening.

Review: graphiqsgroove2009 by graphiqsgroove by SndChaser, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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