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We’ve now heard three tracks from 808s and Heartbreak, and they share a distinct style, so we can guess that the rest of the album will sound similar. I didn’t want to judge the tracks too quickly, because I had no reference point to compare the tracks to. But my kneejerk reaction was negative, and justifiably so–Kanye is unarguably out of his element on all of these tracks.

Kanye is not a talented singer, and the unbelievably sparse backing tracks contrast sharply with his production throughout his rap career. In the past, Kanye has rarely been content to leave his sample-based beats unadorned with additional instrumentation, whether a single synthesizer or an ensemble of horn players, featured rappers, a singer and two professional keyboard players.

Even the production is amateurish at best. Kanye’s goofy, cartoonish synthesizers on all of these tracks, particularly “Heartless” (I’m pretty convinced that the synth in the verses is the default flute tone on a $100 Casio keyboard somewhere), is particularly surprising in contrast to his consistently adept use of synthesizers in the past.

FADER, in their review of the listening party for 808s and Heartbreak, similarly struggled for a point of reference, and came up with The Eraser, Thom Yorke’s solo album.  The comparison is tempting because (a) both albums feature emotional, gloomy singing over electronic tracks and (b) both musicians are considered pretty cool in music circles, despite (or in addition to) their tremendous mainstream success. But the comparison falls flat because (a) Thom Yorke can sing, (b) The Eraser is well-produced in the conventional sense, and (c) Thom Yorke draws upon alternative and indie rock influences, whereas Kanye is clearly drawing upon R&B, hip hop, and even the blues.

Of course, the whole reason I wrote this is because I finally came up with a good comparison for 808s and Heartbreak. It’s Cody Chesnutt (the guy at the top of this post).

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Infinite thanks to Karl W. for turning me on to these guys. It’s as if the 80’s used their DNA to bioengineer a super-soldier, and then that mated with Michael Jackson. This is the result, and it’s perfect in every way possible. The album is great, too.

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I can’t imagine this happening now, for some reason.

So at this point in 2008, it seems that just about every single human being on earth who has ever rhymed two words together has released a “freestyle” over the beat of “A Milli”. Five people listened to it, and then remembered that it was probably worse than the original and forgot about it. Therefore, the fundamental flaw of most “A Milli” remixes is that they don’t do anything innovative because they’re all made by other rappers…until now. Discodust posted this great remix by Chewy Chocolate Cookies that is great simply because it sounds different, finally. Kanye posted this decent one a few days ago as well. My favorite, however, is this Nasty Ways remix of Lollipop. It adds another dimension of sound to the song altogether and makes it sound even more space age-y and out there. So check it out.

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Louis La Roché is a 17 year old (!!!) from somewhere in the UK who circulated one of his tracks on the internet claiming that it was new material by Thomas Bangalter (one half of Daft Punk). Once people found out it wasn’t him, they got a little mad. The point, however, is that they believed him: his songs are just that good.

This kid has taken all the best elements of classic french house from ten years ago (disco samples, overproduction, lots of snares) and combined them to make tracks that bang three times harder. I play his entire EP every time I go to a dance party. Read the rest of this entry »

As some of you may have noticed, there’s a new addition to our rather short blogroll (if you have any blogs you think should be on there, let us know and we’ll consider it), which is Burntpiano. This is, logically enough, the website of my friend Jerome, who goes by Burntpiano and does a lot of really great mashups and remixes. He also has some kickass internship in Paris with Justice’s label this summer, I believe. Anyway, I just added Burntpiano because he finally started updating his blog after about a two month hiatus. And not only that, but he posted this track the other day that I can’t stop listening to.

This remix, by Pocketknife, takes on the British R&B singer Adele’s track, “Hometown Glory.” I haven’t heard the original because I largely ignored the wave of white British R&B singers once I realized how over-hyped Amy Winehouse was (which was about 40 minutes after starting to listen to her). I can’t tell you anything about Adele, then, but I can tell you that this remix is sublime. It’s this light, summery track that I would be driving everywhere to if I were driving much. You should drive to it too. Anyway, you can cop it over at Burntpiano’s website.

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Download part 2 here:

A Drum Machine & A Synthesizer (Sketches Vol. 1) [Part 2 of 2]

If you haven’t already downloaded part 1, you can download all of the music in one file here:

A Drum Machine & A Synthesizer (Sketches Vol. 1)

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Alright so here’s a few tracks from a small collection of electronic music I just finished. For this project, I decided I would use only drums from the Roland TR-808 drum machine, and a few basic synths. I wanted to see what I could do with just a simple drum machine and a synthesizer (hence the name). There’s one exception–one of the tracks samples Radiohead. Let me know if you figure out which Radiohead song I sampled, and which track it’s on.

I’ll put up the rest of the songs sometime soon.

A Drum Machine & A Synthesizer (Sketches Vol. 1) [Part 1 of 2]

By the way, the numbers in the titles of the tracks just represent the order in which I started the tracks (meaning I started the track titled “one” first).

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Girl Talk — Feed the Animals

Pay what you want, just pay something.

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Another song from N*E*R*D‘s quickly upcoming third album, Seeing Sounds, just leaked. “Yeah You” is classic N*E*R*D: Is it funky? Check. Very danceable? Check. Subtly crazy drums, Pharrell singing falsetto on the hook, and overall giddy, weird pop excellence? Check, check, and check.

I find this song especially refreshing because “Everybody Nose,” the first single from the album, is pretty weak. “Everybody Nose” sounds like N*E*R*D* is trying to be an experimental version of Timbaland. “Yeah You” is much safer, but in this case that’s a good thing, with N*E*R*D in their element.

N*E*R*D* — “Yeah You” (off upcoming Seeing Sounds LP, out Tuesday).

Girl Talk‘s new album Feed the Animals will be coming out sometime in the next few weeks. It will have an online only, choose-your-own-price release in the vein of Radiohead. It sounds like it will be a lot like Night Ripper, with over 300 samples in the 55-minute album. I’m looking forward to it.

Two new songs from Nas‘s upcoming “unnamed” album leaked recently, “Hero” and “Black President.” “Hero” has some pretty incredibly rapping, up there with Nas’s better work. I’m not sold on the production yet though, and it doesn’t really feel enough like a song. Maybe that’s just because I just listened to “A Day in the Life” (see below).

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