Saturday, November 01, 2008

Favorite Netlabel albums: Part III

Well, It's been months since I posted anything really substantive here. Not only did life get busy, but I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by a lazy, defeatist, can't do attitude towards writing anything here. It seemed like too much effort and not enough time or energy, and I felt I just didn't have the ability. I'm trying to fight back against that mindset, though, so today I'm writing a substantive post here. This is one of the many further posts I promised a while back, a further listing of some of my favorite netlabel releases of all time:

Drifting in Silence - ladderdown (tonatom) - This is a great album of melodic, cinematic electronic music that ranges from ambient to straight-ahead, driving, high-energy electronica. The presence of these upbeat but still melodic tracks is one thing that really distinguishes this album from a lot of other netlabel music. The pieces are very well written, nicely recorded, and emotionally engaging. The album is also nicely paced, tending to alternate back and forth between the slower and more upbeat tracks, which keeps you from being either overwhelmed or lulled to sleep. Among my personal favorites tracks are the opening track, "uphillbattle," which is comprised entirely of what sounds like strummed, heavily reverbed electric guitar; "process of now," with its stunningly beautiful, melancholy piano melody; "wakeup," a driving number with gnarly keyboard sounds; and the closing track "between the lines," a beautiful piece of atmospheric, melancholy ambient that effectively incorporates a choir. The track "shadow" actually has vocals, and though I am not particularly crazy about them, it ends with a cool bit of sampled dialogue. All in all, this is a great, very listenable album that stands out in the world of netaudio. The follow up album, "Truth," which is a purchasable release, is a much more ambient affair, is also good and features reworked, renamed versions of some of the material from this album. There is also a third album "Fallto," which I have not really heard yet. These last two are both available for purchase from the iTunes store.

Jap Jap - Blue Shimmery Fall ( - Originally released through the now defunct Maetrixsolution netlabel, this is a great album of bright, melodic electronic music. It is hard to classify this album stylistically, but there are elements of ambient, IDM, chillout and even a shoegaze influence. I have seen it compared to Ulrich Schnauss, which doesn't seem like a bad comparison, though it has it's own unique sound. Sometimes, parts of it also remind me a bit of the Boards of Canada. Personal favorite tracks are "In a Bright Light," a nice piece of warmly glowing, mid-tempo ambient/electronica with a nicely mixed in vocal loop; "Only You," floating ambient electronica with a mid-tempo IDM beat underneath that evokes sunny afternoons; and "Now that You're Here," a more upbeat but still very atmospheric piece that features some nice electric guitar cords and a great vocal part at the end that I always find moving. There are several other very good tracks on the album besides these. One minor complaint I have about the album is that some of the keyboard souns used here veer a little to close to a cheesy synthetic sound on some tracks, though, thankfully, they manage to avoid going all the way there while some other tracks, like the above listed, avoid it altogether. All in all an excellent release.

Well, I guess that's it for now. Hope you enjoy these two great releases. I'm getting closer to the end of this series of favorite netlabel releases, but I can still think of several albums that I'd like to write about, so hopefully something new will go up here soon. Peace.