Jen Gloeckner – Vine/Firefly (War Dance)

Bringing a unique mixture of chillout and driving synth electro, here’s a perfect track that will take you to unexpected places, letting you explore settings you never knew existed before. Sounds over the top and hard to believe? Welcome to the world of Jen Gloeckner.

Let me paint you a picture here: what starts like entering a forest on a warm, bright summer day all of a sudden gets mysterious, as if you would step onto some sacred ground within this forest. Gloeckner has the gift of creating deep atmospheres with those sub synths alongside high pitched melodies and sound effects. If you didn’t get lost in this atmosphere by now while just listening to the synth setting, you for sure will be when you hear the vocals of Gloeckner. She has that certain “haunted” element in her voice which leads to a change of the whole scenario. I love the crossing part where the song changes from haunted to driven like flicking a switch. This all goes along so naturally as if there never was another intention but to mix those different styles. By adding those distorted synth lines to the progressing track, I can almost feel the artist smile, like she was saying “didn’t see THAT coming, did you.”
Changing subjects and directions within a single track is an art form not many artists out there can master, but Gloeckner makes it seem so easy. If you don’t believe me, listen to the track with closed headphones and close your eyes for those six and a half minutes. You’ll know exactly what I meant.

“Vine/Firefly” is a crossfade track taken from the upcoming release of Gloeckners album called “VINE” where she offers tracks that emphasize on her unique genre mixture, always keeping her playful mixture of unexpected elements in the spotlight. I got to admit, I don’t really know when to listen to her tracks, since the used mood settings within those tracks are really hard to describe sometimes. I’ll go with the following statement: if you are an adventurer, her music is perfect for you.

Terra Nine – The Heart of the Matter

Be prepared to be taken on a little trip. Driven to an unknown goal, “The Heart of the Matter” of Mike Westcot, better known as “Terra Nine” invites you to do a bit of floating and exploring.

The producer from Auckland created an electronic chillout track with an outstanding amount of determination and drive here. The core of his track is a groovy beat which is backed by a thoughtful mix of percussion. On top of that there’s this almost psychedelic repeating synth line, and there you have it: the foundation of the whole track.
From there on Westcot starts to play with whatever he wants to. Arranged builds and breaks, vocal one-shots, a narrator voice track, reverbed and doubled analogue and digital instruments… maybe this whole scenario can best be compared with fireworks. There’s something new to find every other second. The melodies played are often scratching the surface of being oriental, but then again using a very unique signature sound. When listening to the other tracks of the EP “Heart of the Matter” released by Iboga Records a couple of days ago, it seems the arsenal of the producer from New Zealand is endless. You can almost feel the amount of creative joy Westcot must have had when experimenting with all those scenes, with all those instruments and effects. They say that once you feel the effect of music, the world is at your fingertips. In my opinion, this is exactly what happened with Westcot. Although there surely is a concept, he makes it seem so easy and playful as if there wasn’t a script behind all of his works.

So this is a perfect mixture of electronica, chillout and experimental, best enjoyed while using closed headphones. If you haven’t grooved today, the tracks of Terra Nine most definitely will get you there.

Emmit Fenn – Blinded

With the new year just starting, here’s a soft chillout tune to actually feel, to relax to, to ease your mind and to move to with closed eyes.

After all those party days during the christmas season and new years eve, I just felt like taking some time off. Relax. Let the thoughts go wherever they want to go. The new track “Blinded” created by Berkeley based Emmit Fenn helped me doing exactly that.
Introduced by a soft synth line and something that could be identified as the sound of waves hitting the shore, the song picks up the main theme right away with down pitched vocals. At first I thought the pitching wasn’t necessary, but later I realized that this actually helps the downtempo intention of the song a lot. I guess normal pitched vocals would have brought some unwanted extra drive with them.
As the track progresses, there are several synth tracks added, creating some space and working perfectly with the vocals to make you just close your eyes, to actually feel the music and to relax while grooving slowly to the very defensive beat of the song. You can’t put “Blinded” in the minimal genre, although there weren’t many doubled or tripled tracks used, which in my opinon is very refreshing. The less tracks are used, the more you can concentrate on the essence of the track, and Fenn did put a lot of thought and effort in creating a very intelligent mixture of synth, vocals and percussion. The final mix is ground solid, I couldn’t locate any glitches or anything.

Keeping his way of creating soft chillout with a certain style and signature sound, and being present on Spotify and other music distribution platforms, I guess this by far wasn’t the last time we heard about Emmit Fenn. In a time where everybody wants just to release the next pumping, over-compressed dance hit, we urgently need “counterparts” like Fenn who bring back those intricacies and details into music. Who are able to make us dream, who trigger emotions while not rushing anything.

Amparo – The Orchid Glacier

When ambient meets drive. Feeling like kite surfing on the calmest waves you ever saw. Or paragliding on a warm, sunny day. Although it’s relaxing, there’s this state of alertness coming along. If you ever felt this, you know exactly what “The Orchid Glacier” is all about.

So, I know this producer lives somewhere in Arizona. I know it’s a woman. I know she’s very creative not just in music but with words as well as photography. She likes thinking out of the box (for example, her EP “Cloud Wrangler” was available as a limited edition on a cassette. Yes. A CASSETTE. What a beautiful mind.) And that’s about where my knowledge about Amparo ends. People who know me know that I really like to do my homework regarding reviews, but this is it, I didn’t find any other information with the time available tonight. That’s either because I’m sleep deprived like hell, or because Amparo didn’t want to share more of her private life. So let’s concentrate on her music, shall we?
“The Orchid Glacier” is a track that is build on several synth layers which are connected like single threads of a cobweb. Somehow Amparo managed to not just smash up all of the synth tracks to a thick layer, but to let them interact with that certain fragile, icy feeling attached. There are accents happening that are part tubular bell style, part percussion, alongside a drum pattern which lets the song pick up speed while progressing. Several reverb/hall effects and some haunting arpeggiated melodies are keeping the track interesting every second. There’s a lot of detail happening within these five minutes of sound. Sometimes one base tone is getting a bit too dominant because your ears get used to this specific tone, but there’s never a fight between layers happening.

So, there you have it. The perfect hybrid of chillout and wake up. A synergy of melody, effects and percussion. This one needs to be placed in another genre than the available usual ones. I’ll name it… “Ampient”. If you like this track, I recommend checking out her other available songs off her EP “Cloud Wrangler” released by svnset waves.

Alpha Minus – Satellites

Taken from the EP “Nightsounds”, the Berlin-based producer Mert Aslantürk aka Alpha Minus is giving your ears what they need – wide spaced analogue sound combined with front-and-center electro awareness.

Tonight I totally got tricked by the intro of a song. Well played, Alpha Minus! Lured by an reverbed, wide open melodic intro with only slightly modified synths and a soft guitar, the main theme of the song emerges to be backed by a dominant and half band-fat synth which goes perfect with that guitar lick. As soon as the rhythm section sets in, you’re into groove mode. The claps and percussion alongside the drums are mixed a bit too crips in the high eq band, but that’s just me. I prefer those to be more background elements. The overall mix of the song is great, even with the full amount of tracks nothing seems too mashed up or anything.
This song creates a certain atmosphere I really like. Ever stepped out a club the last guest? Ever walked an sports arena by yourself? Those moments where the space around you all of a sudden seems to grow and grow? This feeling is what you can expect out of “Satellites”. Headphones are mandatory, folks. And not those cheap in-ear things, we’re talking about closed full-range headphones. It doesn’t get any better, believe me.

Aslantürk likes to create electro-analogue hybrids with his tracks. While listening to the other tracks on his EP, I noticed there’s always a certain human factor to it. Be it a vocal track mixed in, some trumpet chops, guitars, or industrialized vocal one shots – it seems like keeping that human-electro connection is a vital factor for him to create his songs. The range of what I like to call “track feelings” goes from smooth (“Circles”) to unresting (“Nightborn”). For all of you you avid electro/downtempo music listeners out there I recommend to listen to Alpha Minus’ whole well-produced EP. You just can hear that there’s a lot of work and love for the genre coming with it. Trust me.

Carbonates on Mars – The Song of Sol

After a rough day, I just wanted to listen to something taking me away for a couple of minutes. Out of my home, maybe even out of this world. “The Song of Sol” was the perfect sound to achieve that. So get ready, put on your headphones, close your eyes, and off we go…

I didn’t listen to chillout and ambient in a while. During hectic times you often tend to blast your ears with what is keeping you up and running, right? But after hearing the first seconds of the new track of Gareth Farmer aka “Carbonates On Mars”, I turned up the volume and just listened. Farmer created a deep soundscape here with the use of just several synth lines, and just seems to let it flow from there on. There are these beeps and glitches happening, and these are making your imagination go wild. What’s this? Some computer generated beeps? Extraterrestrial lifeform? An outer space instrument? You name it. Due to the non-linear progression of the single tracks you’ll never get used to a rhythm and/or melody. This is creating what I like to call the “lean back effect” in the process. From a certain point on, it’s not about what the music or the producer wants to achieve anymore, it’s where your mind wants to run with it. Those reverbed layers of soft synth in addition with tiny little beeps and stabs create a cavern for your imagination, and the song takes its time to introduce you to it.
The final mix has its flaws, several times I think the track is clipping over those high eq band beeps, but that doesn’t kill the track itself. In a strange way, this even adds a bit granular deep space touch to it.

Farmer opens a door to something unexplored with his “Song of Sol”. I like the free flow going with the track, and if you are really taking your time to adapt (and no, this doesn’t mean simply switching from mainstream material to ambient tracks), I’m sure you’ll be taken away on this producer’s audio waves as well. Destination: wherever you want to go. All you need is a set of headphones and your imagination. Have a save journey, folks.

Josey Marina – Ocean Sighs

This one takes you for a walk at night, strolling down beachside. All alone, just enjoying the silence and the sounds of your surrounding. Until you get hit by the haunting warm voice of UK based Josey Marina, making you feel both lost and loved, vulnerable and protected. I’m sure you’ll agree there’s carried a huge amount of breathtaking emotion and passion with the young singers’ voice.

What I really like about this track is the overall minimal setting to give the vocals a stage without taking anything away from them. It takes a certain amount of courage to sing along to just percussion, a soft synth, minimal guitars and backup melody elements, but having such great vocal skills Josey Marina had no problems at all to master the task of giving the track a fragile and dreamy setting. She sings with soft and gentle tones as if it was really easy, although it’s really a hard thing to do. I’m totally in love with her vocals in higher octaves, it’s like time slows down when she’s singing the high notes. It’s remarkable how she manages to take what’s in her mind out there with just the usage of her voice. Keeping in mind she’s only 18 years old and her musical journey has just begun, I really see a bright future ahead of Marina.

Underlining the incredible vocal skills of beautiful singer Marina are the other tracks on her two self released EPs. For the actual “Violet Desires” EP she teamed with Manchester based Jack Beech who really did an awesome job with all the tracks, though “Ocean Sighs” in particular is a great example for what is necessary to mix and finalize a track. In my opinion it’s done with a great sense of detail and passion. No glitches, no overly-compressed tracks, carefully set highlights in the higher eq band due to the nature of the track…in other words: awesome work. Now, I’m usually not doing this, because it’s advertising competition here (as we run a small studio ourselves over here at kms), but in this case I recommend checking out the facebook page of Jack Beech . You’ve got a true talent here as a producer and mixer in my opinion.

Sunday – Only

Imagine stepping out on the deck of a condo right at the beach, putting your sunglasses on. Seagulls passing by. A few people playing volleyball down at the beach. The wind is taking that bit of salt taste towards you. See it? If you don’t, “Only” will help you to do so.

This piece of calm summer is brought to you by producer and DJ Aaron Shanahan aka “Sunday”, who really managed to slower my heart rate with this track, exactly what I needed after a long day at the office. With a slow drum and sub bass combination, he layered a vocal track with the exact amount of room reverb on it. This alone sounds quite interesting, but he raises the bar even higher when introducing those bell synths and guitar lick stems. I don’t know about you, but I can’t resist to groove along while listening.
Sometimes I have the expression that the vocals are hit too hard by the reverb effect, but on the other hand this only creates and holds that spacey, laid back feeling. In addition with those bell synths and guitar clips it all makes sense and doesn’t really seem strange to the listener anymore.

This track isn’t overloaded with tons of layered tracks, special effects or anything. Shanahan did a great job in keeping it simple but at the same time complex enough to not feel boring for a second. The sound sometimes almost seems kind of “shy”, defensively mixed. That makes the track really multipurpose, doesn’t matter if it’s played at the club, as backgroud chillout tune in a bar, or on your headphones while jogging a couple of miles. Being also mixed solidly with maybe one or two events being too “thick”, there’s no reason to not play that song on repeat whenever you need that summer feeling.

Some Kind Of Illness – The Light

Sometimes you hear something that sounds just very familiar. Like the tune you used to hear when you were a kid, hanging with your girl. Or that song that came up yesterday on the radio. Or this tune you hear when recognizing that old record store you used to spend all your money. You know when this happens, right? Only when the music is done with passion.

“Some Kind Of Illness” is a british band founded around 1999, and they do some very authentic acoustic slow rock since then. Having gained a lot of experience over those last years, they recently came up with their ten track album on bandcamp which includes “The Light”, a song which caught my attention because of the way it’s played. The great thing about the way it’s played and sung is that you actually feel what the brothers Mark and Paul Hinks are trying to transmit to you as a listener. I always enjoy when something doesn’t only reach my ears but triggers an emotion in any way. In this case, it’s done by a minimalistic mixture of guitar layering combined with serveral vocal tracks. This results in something smooth, something authentic. You won’t find sixty layered synths here, no fat bass or flat mixed drums. And that’s what’s making it real: no room for playing a role with this kind of music. Listening to other tracks of “Some Kind Of Illness” I realized that the secret ingredient to their music is just that – no gimmicks. Just passion. Feeling. Those guys not only know what they are doing, they FEEL what they’re doing. And from this point on, it doesn’t get any better. I’ve heard so much artists over the years who are all about the technique but not about the feeling. But those guys are different in a refreshing and great way.

If you’re having some spare time and are in the mood (key component people, the music is mostly melancholic and needs that environment to be played), I strongly suggest you check out their other work on bandcamp or soundcloud. You’ll find guitars, warm voices and sometimes even a touch of synth tracks involved. Most importantly, you’ll find peace of mind for a couple of minutes.

Vesna Kazensky – Raven

Just imagine standing on top of a mountain, overlooking your whole surrounding. Being able to just spread your wings and start flying over cloudy mountain scenery, you can just forget about your everyday problems for the next 5 minutes.

Croatian composer Vesna Kazensky captured the relaxing moment of this described scenery perfectly. I can imagine half a dozen of similar settings, but the flying and top-of-the-world feeling is what my brain makes out of it. The solid mixed track itself is a remarkable piece of several layered synths which consist of soundscaping elements as well as melodic, harmonic synths and percussive elements. I love that the beat track is hold back and used very defensively – usually the beat and rhythm section is one of the key elements of most of the tracks I hear, but “Raven” doesn’t need a driving beat. The track creates its own flow on which it is carried. And that’s mostly  because of the intelligently used soundscape elements in it. In addition with reverb effects this creates a lot of…let’s call it “contemporary space”. There’s a constant build-up of scenery happening, maybe it can be compared to background music of a nature documentation of some sort.

The gifted musician Kazensky created a real stunning track. Whether it’s played as ambient tune in a lounge, used as background music in a video, or it’s just used as something to listen to while you’re relaxing with closed eyes – this one’s a multi-purpose piece of art. On Kazensky’s soundcloud account there are several other tracks for those who want to get deeper into the sound world of this outstanding talent.