Posts Tagged ‘ghostly’

Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner (Ghostly)

September 20, 2010

For Juno Records

The buzz has been building for fledgling Chelmsford, Essex producer Gold Panda for awhile now, and after lauded remixes for the likes of Bloc Party, Simian Mobile Disco, HEALTH, and Lemonade (to name a few), as well as the release of some quality singles, Gold Panda has dropped his debut album Lucky Shiner on the cusp of autumn.

For those of you unfamiliar with Gold Panda’s sound, an immediate reference point could be imagining the gifted lovechild of Four Tet and The Field. But this is not to imply that GP sounds too much like either of these artists, just that his music evokes them. Therefore, beatier tracks like “Vanilla Minus”, “Snow & Taxis”, and “Marriage” will no doubt remind listeners of The Field’s knack for hypnotic loop-based techno. Yet what makes it different is Gold Panda’s talent for adding a distinct emotional element to his songs, one that is quite strong but doesn’t fully reveal itself until repeated listens.

Gold Panda’s ability to eke out emotion, coupled with a quirky, more abstract air, is where the Four Tet comparison comes in — with tracks like “Same Dream China”, “After We Talked”, and the already revered “You”, being excellent examples of this side of Gold Panda’s musical palette. “Same Dream China” is an early highlight, which features Steve Reich chimes that build on a loop, subtle bass, and a tweaked sample of a traditional stringed Chinese instrument. It’s one of those tracks that might elude you at first, but after a few spins have you playing on repeat.

There really is something infectious with Lucky Shiner, which simply comes down to the fact that it invokes an introspective yet warm mood in the end — one that seems to correspond snugly with the beginning of the autumn season. There are no lyrics throughout the album, but it still plays out as deeply personal, and judging by the track titles this seems to be the case. Hence, what we have is a smattering of Gold Panda’s autobiography thus far, told aurally rather than orally, with a touch of his passion for Eastern cultures thrown in for good measure. Lucky Shiner is a solid and diverse debut, and worth every bit of anticipation and hype bestowed upon it. Check it.

Mux Mool – Wax Rose Saturday EP

September 16, 2010

For Juno Records

Hot on the heels of his critically acclaimed debut album “Skulltaste”, Brian Lindgren aka Mux Mool returns with an EP of remixes, one new track, and his own remix of “Wax Rose Saturday”, which he has dubbed a “remux”. The album opens with Mool’s remux, and you’d never know it came from the original track if he didn’t tell you. This new “Wax Rose” is pure analogue and a much warmer affair than the bleepy original, sounding a bit like labelmate Dabrye, with some smooth vocoder thrown in for good measure. It gets one’s head bobbing, and segues nicely into new track “Valley Girls”, which is one of the best songs he has released to date — a simple slow jam with a subtle yet spooky synthline that bumps so nice you’ll want to play it twice before moving on to the remixes.

Daso’s remix of “Enceladus” is the clear-cut highlight here, a sprawling 7 minute 4/4 banger that has the dancefloor in its sights from the get go. Hints of house and disco are meshed in with Mool’s original dirty funk to smashing effect, creating a definite hitter for all you late-night DJs hoping to carry the party until the wee ones. Shigeto’s take on “Morning Strut” switches the rhythm around while still maintaining the original track’s piano line, while Paul White tweaks “Wolf Tone Symphony” and Alex B tries his hand at “Hog Knuckles” by upping the pitch and tempo, but in my opinion that track is arguably already pitch perfect in its original form. Nevertheless, this is an excellent addendum to Mux Mool’s sound in 2010, and definitely worth checking out.

The Chap – Well Done Europe

June 9, 2010

Last summer I discovered avant-pop weirdos The Chap, thanks to Ghostly International’s annual Ghostly Swim compilation. Hailing from South London, The Chap craft irreverent and infectious songs that groove and rock and shimmer and bump with nods and influences ranging from post-rock, new wave, electro, punk, funk, techno, folk, and French pop. Wooh. Lemme take a breath.

The Chap are a veritable musical melting pot and they pull it all off with so much style it’s almost as if they have none at all. 2008’s Mega Breakfast and last year’s EP Builder’s Brew are excellent albums that made me dance, head bang, and laugh my ass off on account of some brilliant lyrics. Imagine a dead pan delivery of these lyrics: “Nice Face/ Shame about the haircut/ Good body/ Bad conversation” over a tight 4/4 techno beat for six minutes. Makes me chuckle every time. Their roving hitter “Proper Rock” from Mega Breakfast is so good I imagined it could not be topped, but the band has returned with brand new full length Well Done Europe, and have effortlessly outdone themselves. After a few listens you begin to notice just how incredibly adept they are with regards to composition and the ability to add that little extra something to make each song sparkle and stand out. On the whole, Well Done Europe plays out beautifully all the way through — their isn’t a throwaway guitar lick or snare pop, and although they’ve kept their irreverence and cheekiness intact, the album also manages to pack a solid emotional punch.

“Even Your Friends” is the feel good song of the summer, and makes LCD Soundsystem’s “Drunk Girls” sound flat and dumb in comparison. Its chorus is a rollicking sing-along that you’ll already be singing to yourself before the first listen is done. Yet the catchiness doesn’t stop there. “Obviously”s almost haunting refrain: “Is anybody still out there?” seeps into your brain and stays there, just as the chorus to the groovy “Your Horoscope”: “Get the funk out of here, or my bandwith flows…” will do the same. The penultimate track “Chalet Chalet” perhaps best reveals the group’s maturity, with its ‘forget about it all, let’s get away’ vibe, Stereolab-esque refrain, and buttery guitar line reminiscent of Jeff Parker near the end. Just lovely.

To get a sense of how infectious the album really is, I’ll provide a brief anecdote: Me and my friends Matt and Kristiann went to Montreal for Mutek this weekend (which was awesome btw) and during the drive up we listened to Well Done Europe, smiling and singing along the whole way. On our return to Toronto, we didn’t listen to the album, but only because we were still humming the refrains and choruses lodged in our brains from two days before.

I wanted to put Mega Breakfast on my end of year list for 2009 even though it came out in 2008. As it stands right now, Well Done Europe will be high on my list for 2010. I am ready to go steady with the summer time love that is The Chap’s Well Done Europe. Check it! Now. Please. Yay.

Lusine – A Certain Distance

October 18, 2009


Jeff McIlwain aka Lusine recently released his new long player “A Certain Distance” on Ghostly International. Fans of his Detroit tinged IDM have been waiting for this since “Serial Hodgepodge” came out in 2004. While McIlwain also released “Language Barrier” under his Lusine ICL moniker in 2007, it’s his beat-oriented material that his fans were itching for, rather than his more stripped down atmospherics, and he does not disappoint with “A Certain Distance”.

I am a fan of all his stuff, ambient or 4/4, and for me “A Certain Distance” seems a perfect blend of McIlwain’s musical aesthetic. An album of deep, emotional IDM which rewards a little more with each listen. Some critics seem wary to accept the album’s slightly more “pop” sensibility, wishing it was colder or more clinical, unable to embrace the addition of female vocals to a few of the tracks, but I find the cut-up and skewed vocals a welcome addition. They add a warm feel to Lusine’s clipped beats and deep synth lines. The track “Gravity” with its stuttering voice and plunging bass drops is definitely a highlight. “Crowded Room” follows and gives fans close to six minutes of sprawling Detroit techno bliss, sure to be a part of many a DJ set this year.

I think Lusine is one of electronic music’s underrated darlings, and I don’t care if “A Certain Distance” is perhaps a bit more accessible than “Serial Hodgepodge”, because I am happy to see McIlwain grow as an artist and continue to refine his sound(s). Seeing him this spring as part of Ghostly’s 10th Anniversary Bash was one of the year’s highlights for me – and even though his set was short and he played a bit too early in the night he still absolutely killed it. His music is melodic and rich and worthy of both headphones and the dance floor. “A Certain Distance” has been on constant rotation for me since its release, and no doubt will be, for months to come.

Check it and wreck it.

Ghostly International’s 10 Year Anniversary Bash

May 29, 2009


Line-up: Lusine, Tycho, Michna w/Raw Paw, Milosh and SV4

Ann Arbor, Michigan’s GHOSTLY label turns ten this year and to celebrate they are playing a string of shows across the globe. I caught the show in Toronto at the Drake Underground on May 27th, 2009 and thought it was fantastic.

Lusine (Jeff McIlwain) opened the night with an amazing set that meshed his various styles together beautifully. Although he seemed a bit upset to be playing so early, he delivered a bass heavy, Audion-esque set that had that Detroit snap and pop to it. I was very impressed and so was the crowd. Surprising that this was his first show in Toronto.

Michna w/ Raw Paw played next and delivered a quirky and emotional set of jazzy and dark indietronic pop. The trio played a multitude of instruments: keys, tenor sax, trombone, drums, synths, and DEEP ass bass, and brought fun and energy to the show. I had never heard of them but just picked up the new album “Magic Monday” and am totally digging it.

Tycho played next and the room filled for his set. Hate to harp, but his set didn’t differ much from the one he played last year when he visited the Drake. And obviously he wears his Boards of Canada heart on his sleeve. To be honest, I think Tycho should have opened the night and Lusine should have played third, but alas … no one danced either, they just stood there, swaying drunk and scratching their chin prickles.

Toronto native Mike Milosh closed the night and although the guy has an absolutely amazing voice, the music was not the right vibe for the party. It was too slow and quiet for a night that was supposed to be full of dancing and delusions. Unfortunately, the Toronto crowd was just too hip and shoe-gazey that night.

SV4 spun in between sets and played hit after hit after hit. Props to him. I had a great night and am now feeling a bit pissy that I decided to choose money over mutek this weekend. Shizer. Anyway, Ghostly is a quality label putting out some of the best shit you wanna stuff in your ears. Check it and love it. I’m out.