Album Review: Dr. m.o.m. – Thank You

Label: Trippin’ the Rift
Catalog No: TTRR013

My Own Mind. That’s what the “m.o.m.” stands for. Doctor My Own Mind. The alias of Otari Kakanov, music brain surgeon and pretty handy with scissors. He has cut and assembled a plethora sound pieces from old records and films, pasting together a smoky cast-down atmosphere to dwell in. Influenced by the work of early abstract hip-hop artists, Dr. m.o.m. has gone a level deeper, descending into more somber territory and creating dense textures that knock down walls.

Thank You is a story that takes us through despair and joy. An excursion down a twisted road of unfortunate circumstance that comes to a dead end at rock bottom. Then the assistance of a friend turns everything around and happiness is restored. For that you must tell them thank you. What began as a fun jaunt with ethereal effects and bouncing grooves quickly morphed into a morose chaos soon to be supplanted by a gloomy melancholic pain. Emotive orchestral tones twist around the morose strikes of the piano. Sliding further down until the end of the road unfolds and presents a dimly lit room clouded by smoky vapor. A half empty bottle of whiskey, ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts. Eyes glassed over, faint objects mere blurs of light dancing to the sedate drumbeat and mournful piano.

Through some unexplained karmic portal comes the aid of a familiar comfort. An old friend that is held close to the heart materializes and begins the painstaking process of helping repair the damage from the abuses of life. An astral uplifting begins. Ambient swirls cut through smoke and disperses it, banishing it to another dimension. The drums take over and fill the room with an energetic pulse, commanding the senses into action. The mind has cleared. The room falls away to a bustling city, lighting the sky up with a palette of various colors. Everything has an angelic glow to it, a positive radiance and it would not have been possible without the inspiring guidance of an old friend.

Thank You combines jazz elements and hip hop beats with record scratching and the occasional ambient echo. Borrowing from a varied selection of genres makes it an eccentric familiarity. It’s something we have all heard before but not in this way. All the sounds compliment each other to represent every emotion felt in the whirlwind tale it tells. The moral of the story is to, of course, say Thank You to those you are grateful for. Give thanks to the ones who are always there for you.

Rating: 4 Stars
Standout Track: Reign Over Me


Album Review: Emotion Coder – My Never Ending Wish EP

Label: Mojear Records
Catalog No: MJ50

A soulful night in the city. Street lights streak past, leaving a bright stain on the car’s metallic shine that immediately melts away. Wheels endlessly turning towards the modern mountains of concrete and steel, all lit up twinkling in the dark abyss. A quick drive from home to downtown, anticipation for the evening’s events mounting. Smooth beats pulsating from hidden speakers simmers the apprehension and quiets the mind. Three new tracks from India’s Emotion Coder have let their powers of repose be known. On a short 15 minute twilight drive you can experience a soothing variety of electronic possibilities.

“Signify” is the first track and gets the ball rolling with grandiose trumpets and spastic percussion. Accompanied by seductive vocals from a smoky angel looking out over the darkness. The car melds with the music and becomes part of it: windshield wipers keep the beat, the hum of the engine recycles echoes back into the ears. The act of driving feels more like the art of playing an instrument when this happens. A dark an empty country road becomes a blank staff waiting to be filled with music. Suddenly, “Streets” appear. The 2nd track is a chilled out mix of downtempo and jazz elements. A unifying groove is carved, drawing various sounds together like water into a ditch. It accompanies you on your journey as the city looms near. Track number three, “Concentric”, paints the portrait of a harmonious urban atmosphere. Industrial influences lurk out of the shadows while a dream-like fog is blown in from placid synth tones. Lights melt into watercolor hues across the windshield, only to be swept away.

My Never Ending Wish is a great sampler from a talented artist who can turn any electronic genre into a transcendent sensation. The future holds a special place for such moving sounds that can tell a story before our very eyes. This solid release has given us a small taste of what Emotion Coder is capable of. In time I hope he will share all of his aural wisdom with the world.

Rating: 4 Stars
Standout Track: Streets

Album Review: JTrux – Death On the Seventh Day

Day 1: The bustling murmur of a busy downtown street. Glinting highlights of passing conversations sail past as the electronic hums rise formidably into an abrupt silence. Rounding the corner, you enter a sanctuary free from prying eyes of security cameras and chic pedestrians. The echoing sounds of the sun cascade over skyscrapers, enhancing the industrial squeaks and bangs from a nearby factory. The further you walk the darker it gets and the rhythms of the city continuously bounce of buildings before descending upon your ears. To escape the clamor you enter an abandoned warehouse whose long forgotten operations still secrete a haunting reverie of past noise. A broken window overlooks a never-ending forest and the setting sun in the distance. As the beats and high pitched whirs slowly quiet with the oncoming darkness, you lay your head down on the dusty floor to sleep.

Day 2: Hissing and buzzing of strange insects inside the forest. You take the first important step into the green depths. A somber elegy flows past with crackling rumbles and a saintly plucking of strings. The trees gradually come alive, releasing fast growing vines and blooming flowers that spring into existence before your eyes. Beauty is effortlessly born around you, only to die a few minutes later. Plants and animals begin playing a concerto as an overwhelming sense of loneliness drapes over you. You feel like the only human left on Earth and this natural concert has been specifically composed just for you. The swan song of insects darting in between leaf-covered branches scratching against each other, the quiet swirls of ambient photosynthesis. You can actually hear the forest growing. The night begins crawling in as only tiny shafts of light can break through the thick layer of leaves. Climbing a tree just in time to see the sunset, the music below slowly dwindles into a fantasy as the metallic sun rays force your eyes closed.

Day 3: Back on solid ground an exciting sense of danger prevails as you suddenly realize you are being followed. Everything you have ever run away from in your life is chasing after you at breakneck speed and its too much to handle. So you begin to run as fast as you can through the brush and undergrowth of the woods. The impending doom slows down behind you and a cautious relief sweeps over. Lost in the sprawling forest, a tense quiet is accented by the faraway drones of a factory somewhere on the edge of the forest. A soft watery flow is heard and dances around, confusing your senses. Ears filled with an imaginary substance clouds your hearing and there is nothing left to do but stagger through until you find whatever it is you are looking for. In the distance a glowing beam of light appears. It’s milk-white florescence illuminates the lazily darkening woods. Your ears become clear from the psychosomatic blockage and the crackle of a fire can be heard. Closer to the beam of light you see it is a giant freshwater pearl, floating in midair and emitting docile tones. They kindly suffocate your synapses and you drop to your knees in languid bliss, dreaming of floating orbs in the forest.

Day 4: Hours passed. The sun grazes past your closed eyes and you awake to a fiery world of iron and lava. Skeletons of former travelers sharpen swords on large decaying anvils. A rushing sound inside your ears grows ever more abusive before cresting and falling back to a sprawling spectacle of distant echoes. These echoes possess a strangled ethereal strand of hope, like a caged angel singing an imprisoned song. The siren’s call draws you away from the hellish awakening to a strange door amongst the trees. It opens to a world of bright white light and angelic drones so beautiful in their resonance that the all the darkness of the world fades away. Some unseen force lifts you off the ground and you begin to float, weightless, an amoeba lazily floating in a still pond. Years of grief and anguish are melted away from your sullen face and your eyes return to the wondrous luster they possessed as a child, before you lost your way. You are reborn, falling back to the Earth while the fires of Hell can be heard dying in the distance.

Day 5: Now an enlightened wanderer of the forest, you see everything the way it should be seen. Colors are more vibrant, the details of the forest ever more prominent. Bird songs ring like bells high up in the towers of the trees. A peaceful unity with the natural order of the world. But there is still a minute problem, something still scratching away at your psyche. You can hear it crackling away somewhere inside you while the rain drizzles and the sun sets. Orchestral waves of nature’s music crash around you as you sail through the forest, searching for meaning now that you have achieved total understanding. The drones continue to oscillate and the concerto continues to play.

Day 6: The slowly encroaching realization that you have been drugged. The enlightened feelings experienced the day before were nothing but tricks played by the forest. Something inside you is still lamenting, aching to be set free. Dark undertones slowly sweep in as you come to understand what this journey was about. It wasn’t an escape or a spiritual journey to find understanding. It was your body coming to terms with the fact that it’s dying. Your mind has continually set up roadblocks to prevent this inevitable. Your body struggles to run away from the soldiers of death and keep out of sight. Your soul has played beautiful music to give you comfort during this transition. The heart sits back and listens to its requiem, content on its demise. Realizing that it is better to accept it than fight it, you lay down amongst a twisted jumble of tree roots and close your eyes, letting the somber harmony of the piano take you away.

JTrux has given us an example of death. How the mind and body struggle with this eventuality and how the heart and soul make us realize that the experience is necessary and beautiful. Death On the Seventh Day is an inspired look on a subject we will all experience but few want to think about. JTrux’s meditative drones and grim noises exhibit a range of emotions providing comfort and peace no matter how scared we are. He has given us a piece of his soul so that our own souls can feel safer during that scary process when we close our eyes for the last time.

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Standout track: Dusk III

Album Review: Damn Robot! – Jasurp

Label: Hawk Moon Records

Through a creative mix of musical styles, the new album from Damn Robot! is a laid back stroll through your mind. Sit back and let your brains wander off for a little while. They will go to a dreamy comfort zone conceived for relaxation and subconscious contemplation. Jasurp has utilized some of the best rock, jazz, electronic and ambient elements and weaved them together into a lush blanket of monochromatic warmth.

The Honey brothers come together to spin rotating compositions that can entomb souls. Each of the songs are beautiful and full of power. They are at the same time serene and cumbersome. It feels like you are carrying a heavy weight but wouldn’t have it any other way. Each track seamlessly drifts into the next keeping you suspended in a dreamland of grey solace.

Most of the songs are sweeping downtempo epics drenched in echoes and ghostly guitar riffs. Songs like “The One Who Knocks” turn into a lounge act jam session with hindered tempos and psychedelic drizzle spattering down from the drums and guitar. Various samples of people’s voices compliment the reserved vocals, reflecting the crazy conglomerated world against our restless determined spirit. Some of these kooky samples seemed slightly out of place yet they still made me smile.

Jasurp is a restful joyride for all us passengers at the onset of night. There is a comforting wisdom that shines from the placid beats and ethereal vocals. It sets a melancholic tone for all those sad moments but it still brings us cheer. We can all find some joy in this chronicle of human emotion. No matter what happens to us in this life, always remember to find happiness where you can and keep on moving.

Standout track: A Drop In the Ocean
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Album Review: The Developing – The Puzzle

Label: Trippin’ the Rift

Catalog No: TTRR011

The Developing has taken trip-hop to another level. I bet you all thought that trip-hop was dead and nothing new could come of it right? This album has just proven all you cynical skeptics wrong. The Puzzle features retro-fitted artifacts from the early 90s, giving a “stereotypical” sound to the untrained ear. Upon closer listening you discover a wide depth to the music that sinks deep into your skin. Elements of jazz and IDM are also swirled in to provide another dimension in the beat. The many sounds are layered so well that a harmonious whirr blows through the room, giving everything perfect unity.

The samples used are taken from a wide range of sources. From train horns to trying to start a car, The Developing has turned everyday sounds into symphonic accents for chilled out dance music. The use of these types of samples is nothing new but here there is a very unique character to them. I can easily see some hipsters writing this album off as a rip-off of classic 90s dance music. This is a complete misnomer. The Puzzle’s influences come from all over the spectrum and were mixed together in new ways to create something sui generis and personal. It may sound familiar but that is only your mind trying to link together what the music means to you.

The Puzzle is exactly what its name implies. There are 12 big pieces each composed of hundreds of smaller pieces. Upon each listen you will find new pieces and uncover different sounds. This is totally tuned to take the listener on a journey but only with the listener’s help. You have to be open to the idea of letting the music take you where you want to go. So rare is it that we come across music that gives us a blueprint and lets our imagination fill in the rest.

Rating: 4 Stars

Standout Track: Over Clouds

Review: Mizontiq – A Room Without Mirrors

Label: Dusted Wax Kingdom
Catalog No: DWK116

An abandoned house, hollow and decrepit. Adjacent to a junkyard littered with forgotten lives. The hollowed out cars and discarded refuse are more of a comforting home than any concrete foundation ever could be. An eerie vibration of sound falls over this grim scene. Dark beats begin to pulsate inside your veins, sending this new found drug straight to your brain. You fall victim to its spell and there is nothing you can do except listen to the music.

Russian producer Mizontiq has combined trip hop elements with a deep sorrowful electronic mood to create a ghostly myriad that reveals the monsters under your bed. There is a supernatural emanation, as if Mizontiq has opened a forbidden box allowing certain demons to roam free. By mixing warm and profound synths with sullen drum programming he has shaped a cinematic grandeur, heartwarming and scary awareness of human alienation. You come under a hypnotic enchantment that freezes your emotions and hold you hostage. You want to run and hide but you are forced to hear the sufferings of the world through these songs.

As a whole this album presents sullen theatrics and a bittersweet taste. The songs themselves are hit and miss as some are very jumpy; the beats tend to go haywire and lose their rhythmic hypnosis. They create a momentary lapse in the spell as if for a brief moment you feel the grip of the music letting you go. Its clutches are relentless and mesmerizing, slicing your heart open and releasing some of the pressure. A Room Without Mirrors is a sigh of relief, like a serious operation that you need to survive. The whole time you are lying there helpless, ghastly images flashing before your eyes. Afterwards you are refreshed, reborn. Sometimes in life you need that insurmountable obstacle to overcome, just to see what’s on the other side.

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Standout Track: Heart in the Air

Review: Aqosto – Blurred Paints EP

Label: Trippin’ the Rift
Catalog No:TTRR004

A dreamy beat starts to permeate. A serene cat wags its tail in time to the beat. Everything falls into place. The order of the universe becomes a plot on a timeline, set to go off at a precise moment to coincide with the music.

Trip-hop and chillout meld with ambient to create six delightful tracks. Samples are spliced throughout to add a human aspect as the grooves bring a smile to your face. The programming is very well done and entertaining. A new lies around every corner to keep you strapped in on this placid boat ride through a tunnel of acrylics and watercolors. They splash against the boat, painting a tapestry of color that wriggles and sways with the music.

Aqosto have created a very enjoyable EP that speaks to all walks of life. Everyone should be able to find something they like and shout it from the mountaintops.

Standout track: Alison
Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: coldreavers – Blue Eyes

Label: Trippin’ the Rift
Catalog No: TTRR003

Trip-hop and Ambient. A great combo but add some World Music to that mix. After blending on pulse for about 30 seconds Blue Eyes is what oozes out of your speakers. Hailing from Russia, coldreavers has taken elements from African and Middle Eastern music to create a dark and groovy downtempo adventure. The crawling beats are supplemented by bleak tremors from Ambient swells that submerge you into a dark pool of sorrow.

There are a few different vocalists who contributed their beautiful tones to this chillout elegy for a long reclusive evening. They range in style, genre and language but they all make massive contributions to the atmosphere. They lighten the intensity of the music, putting a human aspect to it from where we can perceive it better. Such intensity on its own could almost be unbearable at times. The vocals are a guide on our tour through a different world. A dark world of despair and anguish. One that all humans stumble into from time to time.

I highly recommend this album to any Ambient or Trip-Hop fan. All Massive Attack fans should check it out too.

Standout track: Morning In the Café
Rating: 4.5 stars