28 May 2009
One term I can use for this album: drool-worthy!
There are so many hidden sound gems (to steal a thought process from Electronic Eel's press release about the album and what I have written about alka's music before) that you have to listen to it with headphones on, in your stereo and in the car. It has so many angles which will lead your imagination in so many directions.
A favorite feature comes from the track "immolated." As the track presses forward, a higher toned/pitched sound is introduced which you can feel - yes, you can feel - in the back of your throat. I've listened to the song on both a laptop and my iPod and have come to the same physiological conclusion each time.
This is just a small example of what I have neglected and will try to rectify as soon as possible.
21 May 2009
And here they are...
What does 'UBLF' mean? and Why do I like downtempo, trip-hop, chillout music?
I hope you have a bit of time to spend reading this post!
What does 'UBLF' mean?
No, it's not a urinary track infection of the most nasty kind nor is it a radio station from the hinterland of Uzbekistan.
It simply means "Uranium Based Life Form."
Now that you're not looking at the computer sideways wondering what in the heck I was thinking we'll head into the logic behind why I chose this name.
About a decade ago, I used to hang out at a coffeehouse in northeastern North Carolina where hard rock/death metal/stoner rock/rap metal/etc played in the back of the store. Bands would come through a few times a week and, because of my size at the time, I was asked to be the bouncer (I used to be around 280 lbs/127 kg/20 stone. Now I'm about 175 lbs/79.38 kg/12.5 stone). It was a great way for me to get in to see shows for free. I didn't mind one bit.
One of the regulars there also liked electronic music and we became fast friends. We hung out together, stayed up late watching MuchMusic's R.U.R.E.C.E.I.V.I.N.G., and dreamt of making electronic music. He showed me a magazine describing the Gabber scene somewhere here in the States. It incorporated heavy beats, loud sounds, and molecular destabilization of sorts. I wanted IN!
Because of this I decided on a possible name for a group: the Uranium Based Life Form. It arrived out of the fact that Uranium is a radioactive element and I wanted to create music that would destroy you. My comic book imagination stretched out and thought that if the C in Carbon based life forms was changed with a U, it would only bring chaos to the human race.
We experimented with groovebox sounds and keyboards without taking the "deadly" sounds. We split up eventually doing our own thing (but still working together to help fine tune our sounds). My friend took on the moniker of "Cybersada" and I kept my radioactive nickname. I toned down my sound exponentially going into more of a house/trance direction.
Over the next several months the computer became my instrument of choice and I dinked around with one of the first editions of Techno eJay to create my sound.
I've kept the nickname UBLF (as well as a slew of others, but for this blog it will suffice), and instead of wanting to destroy humanity - I want to radiate out downtempo vibes to help people find a chilled out denominator in their lives.
This brings me to the second question: "Why do I like downtempo, trip-hop, chillout music?"
I can answer this question in sooooooo many ways.
To me, the music is different from what most people listen to. Am I doing it to be different? Maybe, but in the long run it is a section of the musical spectrum I truly love and I try to share with as many people as I can.
Hence this blog and my podcast.
Remember my first statement that this is just one of many ways I can answer.
A part b of sorts would have to be the theraputic nature of the music.
I am a natural worry wort/awkward individual. I think what compounds this is my 'consciousness' of this fact.
Here's what I mean:
I tend to over think everything (for a good synopsis of this fact watch Halou's "Everything is OK" seen here).
I think I offend people all the time, or I've done something else to lose their trust, so I apologize for things that are boldly innocuous. My best friend can get annoyed by this fact and helps me through the ropes of frustration. People do tell me that I'm not as annoying as I think, which does help... but this post isn't about my "self-diagnosis."
It's about music!
The music helps me find a calming point, a catalyst if you will, so I can get to a state of being level, plumb, whatever. I understand that I have to allow this catalyst to get me to where I need to be, and more times than not it happens (I cannot go too much further without adding the virtues of my wife who is also a huge contributing factor).
When I start to focus on the lyrics, the beats, the melody and then allow them to flow through me, the therapy can help me find what I need to do and how to go about doing it.
The Chillout scene has been wonderful in helping me accomplish this.
There are other reasons, such as the multifacetedness (did I make up a word?) of the music going from the lounge scene to music you turn on in your room when you want to be alone. The history of the music pointing back to that calm down period between raves so people can just relax (see Ibiza), and the experimental nature most makers of the music tend to enlist are also other points that I enjoy.
Downtempo, trip-hop, chillout, lounge, dub, IDM, etc., may not be the cure all, but it's a nice "pill to swallow" when life gets a little testy.
I hope this answers a few questions people might have about me, this blog, and the nature of my podcast.
Update: I made some grammatical corrections which help clarify my points.
12 May 2009
I've finally found time to sit down and write about my next W.Y.E.A.T. Artist! One of my jobs has been calling me in a lot lately because business is truly picking up.
My professional life has eased just enough, so I thought it's about time to get writting.
Here is the Wrap Your Ears Around This Artist: alka.
(the music used for this review is taken from the "Principles of Suffocation" album)
Alka is a renaissance man of sorts. If you take the Wikipedia term of Polymath and apply it to our resident artist of the moment, he would have to excel knowledge wise in several areas.
In alka's case, these areas are in music, science and math (the three word description he shares with us on his myspace page).
Okay, okay. Let me explain.
To listen to his music, you can hear the mathematics behind his thought processes. He lays out simple/complex/what-have-you melodies (along the lines of Orbit, the Orb, Future Sound of London, etc) with complementary sounds and beats to create support for his musical thesis. The sounds are so delicately placed as to "go well with wide open spaces or condensed urban settings... it is the place where lucidity and obscurity meet." (http://www.myspace.com/alka)
Touching on the subject of his music, and not to sound overly redundant, it is stylistically intriguing. When you think you hear all the sounds coming out of your speaker that when you switch to headphones, another world is opened up to you. Songs like "decompose" and "furtive" almost seem to take on another life of their own bringing your assumptions on where he is going to a different plane.
Now, delving into science, we have to swing over into emotional studies. One of alka's goals is to bring emotion into a genre of music that seems to have a lack thereof.
You're going to have to excuse me a bit if it seems I'm meandering a bit here. I've been reading Machiavelli's The Prince and so that might be the reason why. So bear with me!
While pondering alka's music, I've tried to come up with a label, of sorts, to best describe what I hear. This took me from "Reflectively melancholic" (not depressed or sad, just disjointed from present reality to focus on things of the past), to "forming" to "letting be."
Why did I choose these three tags? I'll take you through a few songs which support my different theories.
Reflectively melancholic would best describe the songs "side of a mountain" and "digging a hole." These songs use melodic devices to best utilize the mind's eye so one can see or sense where the artist is going. Slow movements with unique keyboards simulate the struggle of climbing a mountain. It's not too fast, but there is still a part of you that can sense the huffing and puffing of an out of shape person doing the best they can to keep up with the kids who have an endless amount of energy. While, with "digging a hole," you can use those same points to imagine your foot stomping down on the edge of a shovel for leverage against the unrelenting dirt.
Stepping into the territory of "forming," I'd have to take the songs "i fell down a deep well" and "abandon": two sides of this unique coin. When I initially heard the first song mentioned, I thought to myself there has to be some sort of tongue-in-cheek humor going on here. This HAS to be the happiest falling down of a well I've ever thought of. My mind was immediately brought to the Brian Regan comedy skit where he reenacts Evel Knievel's mindset (after being asked the same question of "What was going through your mind before...?") before he had a terrible crash, "I think I want a puppy."
(Yes, my mind usually reverts to sarcasm in situations such as this)
The song has a light, airy feel to it. Which, after further inspection, can simulate that gut-in-your-throat feeling one gets while falling down. One or two things can be happening here: 1) he's trying to get you to make up your mind as to which emotion you want to place or 2) he's forming you as to which emotion he's trying to share.
Either way, it's a win-win situation. On one hand, you make the choice and on the other you both share a moment of enlightenment.
"abandon," on the other hand, doesn't come with much guesswork involved. It is dark, almost brooding, and keeps you on the same path working toward some sort of breakthrough. You've got to keep on to the end of the song, or all those "hours" of therapy will not be worth it!
The final tag, "letting be," is one that came to me recently. You can see this in two ways, as well. One way is to let the emotions happen, and the other is don't hold the emotions back. "furtive," "a modest collection of lint" and "the clouds are quite whispy" bring this tag to life. The last two bring me back to my childhood. Children seem to get excited by the simplest of things! The clouds, forming into "cave"-like shapes where your cognitive skills associate labels such as "cat" or "choo-choo train," can bring hours of joy to a young one. Also, a mother finding a weird collection of lint under he child's bed who's been hiding it and molding it for some untold reason. The recollection of "letting be" comes to the fore. You let the smiles form because they're great memories.
The second bullet point which comes to mind is don't hold the emotions back. Emotions are fickle things, and the longer you don't show them, the more damaging they can be to you.
Yes, there are situations where you have to keep your emotions in check or they can get the better of you. While reading Tom Clancy's "Special Forces," after three days of an intense exercise, a detachment of Green Berets came back just AMPED at the intensity of what they had just participated in. They chatted non-stop about the ins and outs, the ups and downs of what they had endured. That's three days of bottled up adrenaline finally coming out.
While reflecting on the song "furtive" I could sense the subversive role emotions can have if they are not properly dealt with. They seem so innocuous at first, but the longer they go unchecked, the darker and more melancholy they can be when they eventually surface.
So, what is my conclusion about all of this. Which one of the three is it?
Here's a hint just to rile you up: buy the album and find out for your self.
Alka's next release is due to hit shelves sometime next month so stay tuned to this blog and you may get a taste of what's coming!
08 May 2009
It's that time of month for the Chilldown Period to grace your speakers once again! This episode begins my highlighting of artists from the Electronic Eel label, so head over to their website and show'em some love.
Who says this twitter thing won't amount to anything?
Plus, we'll hear from great acts such as Mechanical Me (now Lumenessence), Chimp Beams, DJ Mayonnaise, and many more.
I also need to give production credits to my lovely wife who helps me with my music selection process. She's always willing to give her two cents whenever I ask for it.
Enough with the yappin', it's time for music!
Mechanical Me (Bonobo Remix)
"Beachy Head" (mp3) from "I Like Mixes"
(Lumenessence Recordings) More On This Album
"11217" (mp3) from "Menina"
(Concent Productions, Inc.) More On This Album
"The One" (mp3) from "Volume One"
(Convincing Woodgrain Records) More On This Album
"Peace Corpse" (mp3) from "The Nest And The Skull"
(Audiobulb Records) More On This Album
artificial life preserver
"gamma loader" (mp3) from "automata"
(Psymbolic sounds) More On This Album
"Shallow Water" (mp3) from "LAL Lost Remixes"
(Public Transit Recordings) More On This Album
"Love And Hate" (mp3) from "Caught In The Loop"
(Black Mango Music - Afrolution) More On This Album
"Easily Distracted" (mp3) from "Still Alive"
(anticon) More On This Album
"Life In The Sun" (mp3) from "Life In The Sun"
(DNM - Dealers of Nordic Music)
"Breathe You In" (mp3) from "Sound Sutras"
(Intentcity) More On This Album
"Ghost Hardware" (mp3) from "Untrue"
(Hyperdub) More On This Album
"You (Light My Cigarette)" (mp3) from "The Empty Hall Sessions"
(Fabrique Records) More On This Album
"Serpiente Cosmica" (mp3) from "Here for Now"
Update (10 May 2009): I reworked the first paragraph... it was embarrassing!
Just a warning about the upcoming podcast... I know of at least one boo-boo: I called Govinda's album "Sound Sutras" "Sound Sultras." (excuse warning) I've been sick (again) and didn't catch this error until I was putting the podcast together today. I would go back, but my voice is pushing its limits. The excuse machine is finished and I hope you'll forgive me and download it anyway.
Update (8 May 2009): I misquoted alka's myspace page. Instead of saying "math science melody", I said "math music science." My apologies!