Anna Fogel – In The Midst

Melodic, dreamy,  soft, calm, mature, emotional, fragile… there are so many attributes for this track, you have to decide for yourself which of those fit best.

Anna Fogel has the ability to make you evaluate what music is all about. While listening to “In The Midst”, I just froze for a couple of minutes, being charmed by her voice. After only four seconds, she somehow found my emotions trigger, making me feel melancholic yet comforted. And she did all that with a minimalistic piano/voice setting which is backed by very, very defensive backing tracks and reverb effects.
Her matured soft vocals are bringing that special calmness to the table which is in my opinion the secret ingredient to all of her songs. With the year coming to an end, you find yourself reflecting on all what was happening and looking forward to all that will happen. Maybe I did exactly that when I listened to Fogel’s new track…or maybe her tracks triggered me to do so. I know I’m repeating myself here, but the ability to make the listener feel something is the essence of being a musician. With her voice, the singer/songwriter from Sweden manages to caress your soul for a couple of minutes. For me, music that makes you stop whatever you were doing at the time you are listening to it can only be classified as awesome. And Fogel doesn’t need anything but her voice and a piano for this. This track just was developed and mixed in the perfect settled, calm way.

Working with other projects like Meadows with Christoffer Wadensten, and with a tour through Germany coming up in 2017, I guess the beautiful Fogel already made up her mind as a musician. She decided to share her work with us, to go out there and let us know about her. I’m glad I heard what she is able to bring to the table, and I strongly recommend to give her EP “Vretstorp sessions” on Spotify or Soundcloud a listen.

Hugh Macdonald – On My Way

This is a song for those moments when it seems hard to even lift your head. Filled with feeling and emotion, “On My Way” eases your mind.

Boston based singer/songwriter Hugh Macdonald did an outstanding job with this track from an EP released in November. He chose to just add a guitar to his vocals, and a couple of reverb effects. And believe me folks, this doesn’t make the task easier for the singer.
But hearing him sing, you realize that he’s not playing a role behind the microphone. He’s living what he’s doing there. What you get from Macdonald is genuine, and even if you’re not listening to the lyrics, the song and melody themselves transmit emotions. I don’t quite get why he decided to leave the intro and outro part unedited (in my opinion, this takes away something from the songs’ feeling), but besides that, the listener’s treated with a soulful track that is leaving you without knowing if to stay down or get up, so to speak. It’s rare when you’re getting hit by a glimpse of what the songwriter wants to tell you on an emotional level. “On My Way” manages to do so. The minimal setting (being backed only by a guitar) supports the feel of the song, if there would have been a full band added, it probably would have killed the intention of the song.

Hugh Macdonald released his solo EP called “MÅNGATA“, but he also has worked on a project with Olivia Barton called “Think of England” where he shows that whatever the setting might be, he just blends in just great with his style and vocal range from “soft” to “you haven’t heard anything yet”. I recommend to check out those available tracks on Soundcloud and Spotify to get what Hugh Macdonald is all about.

FRND – Sticks And Stones

Today I clicked through the submissions hoping to find something different. And boy, did I find something different.

The track starts with a wide open reverbed setting, the minimalistic music being a perfect base for the vocals. Those are sung quite soft with a little effect chain added here and there, making it interesting throughout the whole track. If you think the whole idea of the track is simple…well, then I dare you to try produce a track like this. The Los Angeles based producer developed a golden recipe here, using trap elements alongside pop and breakbeat methods. I love the concept of the whole track being in sort of a flowing state, you never know what to expect, and the progression isn’t linear at all. It takes a certain amount of bravery to just go ahead and play with those different variations. Even when listening to the song on repeat, there are always new little elements to find for your ears, a chiptune one-shot, pitched vocal samples, layered reverbed synths…you name it.

This one is a solid, very balanced track. No glitches or clips with the main mix although there must have been dozens of different tracks used. You’ll find emotion, atmosphere and the right amount of smack in it with those huge chorus beats. (I’d love to see what happens when this track is used as an opener on a dancefloor.)
After “Friend”, another great track available on main media sources everywhere, the producer from LA continues his journey through different music styles and variations with “Sticks And Stones”. Boys and girls, we’re very lucky to be a part of his journey. After all, his curiosity to create new blends and mixtures of music is what creates awesome tracks for us listeners.

Victor Perry – Nostalgia

Chances are that you haven’t heard from Victor Perry until now. Chances are you will hear a lot more from him from now on. Damn, this guy can sing.

Usually I’m not the kind of girl that likes downtempo emotional r&b/pop tracks. Those who know me will probably say I’m sort of a party girl who likes her music loud, fast and danceable. But tonight I stopped by on the soundcloud account of Victor Perry, giving one of his latest tracks “Nostalgia” a listen. Do you know that feeling when time seems to slow down? This track created that feeling. Imagine that lights-out stage, with only a spotlight on a piano and its player. There you have him, the guy from a small town named Thomasville, Georgia, who manages to set free waves of emotion with just his voice, a piano and minimal strings backing tracks. Boy, he’s got an awesome voice! They say the world’s a stage and each must play a part – I guess Perry already found out what his part is. With his vocal range and the ability to transmit feelings with his singing (which isn’t the easiest thing to do for men in my opinion), he’s capable of letting your mind focus on just what he’s doing. And although the lyrics of “Nostalgia” are deep and meaningful, he’s got the gift of reaching you without even the lyrics. Heck, he could even sing a whole scientific research about the mating habits of unicellular organisms – as long as he’s singing, everything feels warm and bright. Giving the other tracks of his EP “4 A.M. Nostalgia” (already released in June by Phillias Records) a listen, this statement is final. Filled with warm atmospheres, doubled vocal tracks, fresh ideas and just the emotion that everything somehow will be okay, his music is working like a remedy for a stressed mind.

Being only 22 years old, Perry’s musical journey just started, but this is a rocket start with releases over all the major online distributors like Spotify, iTunes, GooglePlay and Soundcloud. This comes as no surprise with a talent like him. Check out what he’s about on his accounts, and let him convince you in about 5 seconds that he’s gonna make it big out there.

Joy Cyr – Obedience Experiment

This one’s the story of an multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter who steps out in an attempt to show the world what she’s got in store for us.

California based Joy Cyr clearly just started her musical journey. Of course, if you listen to her solo project tracks available on Soundcloud, you’ll have to agree with me that the tracks are not mainstream material, neither from a technical standpoint nor from the point how things are implemented. So, for all of you guys already writing comments or emails starting with “why did you…”, here’s why I chose to write about Cyr anyway.
She’s talented. She knows how to write songs, and she knows how to realize them the way they were supposed to sound. And she does all that on her own, so she takes all those different instruments, plays them by herself and layer records them. Everyone that ever tried that before knows how hard that is. Usually you have to record take after take until it fits. And then there’s the finalizing/mixing part of the whole thing. Horrible work if you’re not into it. And who can say he or she actually CAN play more than one instrument? Or sing the smooth and laid back way she does?
So she got my respect just because of the fact she’s doing all those things on her own. The ideas of the songs, especially her new one “Obedience Experiment”, are solid, but the need to be realized by a band. Right now the songs in my opinion are lacking that certain drive only a band can deliver.
I read that Cyr is playing drums with a band called “Sales” and she’s on stage on her own, so she’s gaining further experience as a live musician. Perfect. The further she goes with chasing her dream as a musician, the more likely it’ll be to hear her work on bigger platforms, with a bigger audience. Her reaching out with her music is telling me she’s not only got talent but desire to make a name for herself as well. If she manages to find her own signature sound down the road, I guess she won’t be stoppable from that point on. I’m glad she’s doing her thing, and I’m curious of what she will come up in the future. I’d love for her to be a lead singer in a band (because I think that singing overall is her strong suit before any other instrument),  then one day I’ll be there to tell all of you “I told you so!”

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.

Kieran Mahon – Pt2

You are about to witness something big happening. So lean back, close your eyes, open your ears…and there you go.

There are two things really mandatory for listening to this track – headphones, and time. In the newest track of Kieran Mahon, nothing happens fast – you are allowed to dive into the whole scenery one step at a time.
The intro gives you a hint right away that this sound will go deep as there’s a lot of room created with an arpeggiated monotone synth and several whistle-like synth notes packed with a lot of reverb. Mahon then continues to masterfully create a soundscape, building in small pieces of additional sounds just to take them away as the track progresses. You are fed those little pieces of sound like Mahon was a gardener throwing grass seed onto the soil. He gives you what you need and lets your mind do the rest. In a time where you are just handed everything through available media channels, it’s essential to be reminded of how to use your brain. How to explore sounds with it. To tell the difference between sounds. To embrace sound. To reject it. To let your brain create whatever it can create out of what is heard.

The Essex based artist Mahon really seems to like playing with several elements of sound, and doing so he shows he’s serious about building sceneries just with the use of sound. Looking around in today’s music scene, I guess musicians like him are a dying breed. Or at least a rare breed. In his own words, music should be minimal enough to allow the listener to fill in the gaps.
It takes a certain amount of serious understanding how to manipulate sounds to do what soundscaping artists like him do. It’s not about the fame or the money. I said it before in other blog entries, creating a sound like this is a mixture of creating art and music. The listener decides what to make of it. If you are not sure what to think of this track, I strongly recommend browsing through the soundcloud profile of this outstanding artist, there are a total of 40 (!) tracks to choose from. I’m sure one of them will trigger your imagination.

James Lowe – Shallow

Don’t expect a pop or rock track tonight. I decided to take you guys to a special place. It’s a calm place where you can dive into vast areas of a relaxing moment. Some may call it underseas, some may call it outer space…I call it peace of mind.

This track, set up by Welsh producer James Lowe, is more of a soundscape concept. There is no beat in it (and that’s great because any percussion or beat would instantly destroy the fragile environment), and the track solely uses multiple tracks of synths along effect banks to build up this great piece of art.
You get the impression that you’re diving under water, then in another part it feels more like deep space observation, the whole time the track makes use of a wide space reverb. While listening, I found myself quite lost to the variety of sound happening within those seven minutes of track, but somehow Lowe manages to get you back on track. It’s like trying to find a location without a GPS device. Sometimes you are sure you’re on the right way, other times you feel totally lost. Here, Lowe is functioning as your tourguide to get you where you want. I like how all those small things are blended together – synth lines, bleeps and clicks, ethereal instruments alongside reverb effects (and I’m sure a lot of filter modulation). Some people surely will find that there’s not too much going on in this track, for those I recommend listening closer. There is actually happening A LOT, but for the untrained ear it’s sometimes hard to find out.

What makes me sad is that tracks like these will never make a grand stage. This one is a skilfully mixed and mastered work of art, but it’s hard to categorize – and the listener needs time to fully enjoy it. I can only imagine the array of synths and effects used and how much time it took to create the track with them. You can hear the love and dedication to music and expression in there, but for most of the listeners it’s hard to get it nowadays. In this hectic world, maybe it’s James Lowe’s contribution and a message to all of us to slow down, to hold on, to take a look around.

Kiz Pattison – Machines Building Machines

This one lets you feel the groove beneath. Just the dark pulse of machinery, everybody knows it’s there all the time, but no one can really grasp it. Well…with the track you are about to hear you maybe able to catch a glimpse of this machinery.

Kristian “Kiz” Pattison delivered a handcrafted piece of art here. I’m not that much into minimal techno, but this track kept me listening with fascination. The english producer somehow managed to put together low frequency bass lines with sound effects and a solid drum line in such a fashion that it never gets old, although it seems like the simplest thing at the same time. Working with several reverb/delay effects, the track manages to build the feeling inside your head as if you were standing in an underground cave full of machines. Everthing is working, everything is busy – and as soon as the track is over, you’ll start to miss that deep, warm sound. Additionally, there are several short synth lines mixed into the whole construct, giving everything the right accents. I imagine Kiz Patterson working on the corrrect timing of every track for quite a long time, because all the things happening within the song happen exactly where they are supposed to.

Again, this isn’t my usual genre, but the track just creates feelings with a minimalistic soundscape. And you know me, as soon as this happens no matter what genre, I am off to my laptop recommending you guys the track, because for me music is all about feelings. Oh, for the full experience out of this sounds headphones are mandatory. Trust me, makes a huge difference. Either headphones or take this track to a club right away, it has all the potential to be a underground favorite.

Milinka Radišić – Back again (Original Mix)

Being a master behind the turntables, DJ Milinka Radišić travelled the world for over ten years to entertain the masses on the dancefloors before finally taking the step to producing her own tracks. With the greatest of ease she accomplished to create many tracks, one of them being today’s pick “Back Again”.

What starts with a usual intro for DJs to mix into their decks turns into a surprise all of a sudden when a straightforward driving bassline kicks in. Mixed steadily, this bassline is supported by a somewhat aggressive and pushing synth. In my opinion the used crowd samples aren’t really necessary for the track to keep its pace. Also, there seem to be some cuts within the samples, but this doesn’t disturb the ongoing rhythm too much.
Yes, “Back again” is a pretty minimalistic track, but it somehow keeps you going, keeps you listening, and – probably the most important part of it – keeps people dancing because of it’s addictive bassline/synth combination. And that’s what’s necessary for a dancefloor theme – that certain something that makes people decide whether to start dancing or not.

Milinka Radišić did a great job of developing the initial idea and creating a track for the dancefloors here. I also suggest to check out her other works on her soundcloud profile, she’s got tons of tracks there, all of which are produced rock solid. Luckily we haven’t heard the last of this young pretty lady, it seems to me she just started her journey in the business. If she continues producing like she does right now, she’ll have a bright future ahead of her. And we’ll be in for more treats.