POTW (2019/15): Electronic Kaleidoscope Lounge

This week’s Playlist of the Week is one I’ve been meaning to cover for ages, but somehow didn’t get round to. (I had to triple-check I hadn’t already written about it and still can’t quite believe I hadn’t already made it a POTW, it’s that good.)

The playlist in question is Electronic Kaleidoscope Lounge, from New Element Music, aka Manu Salamanca, an independent musician originally from France, who has also trained in Cuba. Manu works as a professional drummer and percussionist, but since 2017 he has been releasing classically influenced electronica under the name of New Element Music and gathering a steadily growing audience for this project. You can hear a couple of his tracks, The Crossing and Duo Apart in this list.

If I had to use one word to describe this playlist, it would be ‘cool’: it’s full of quirky, jazzy electronica with a club vibe. It’s reasonably uptempo, and the tracks tend to be rhythmically strong, but the playlist could still be used as a background to working or in a waiting room, because of its chilled-out loungy flavour. The ‘kaleidoscope’ in the title seems to be a reference to how the playlist gathers together music with influences from anywhere and everywhere in the world. It’s also almost exclusively comprised of tracks from independent musicians.

There’s really not a great deal more to say about this list, apart from pointing out Manu Salamanca’s great taste in the track selection, how well it flows and how current it sounds. This one really is a must-listen, so I’ll shut up now and let you get on with it!

NB: One or two tracks in this list are labelled ‘explicit’. To avoid these, you can set your Spotify account preferences via a mobile device. (You can’t set this on the desktop app, but contrary to the published advice from Spotify, my experience is that the setting applies to your account when you use other devices after it’s set on the mobile app).

POTW (2019/13): Ryan's Roadtrip

Ryan’s Roadtrip, this week’s Playlist of the Week, is the personal favourite tracks of Ryan Doherty, an independent artist who lives in Birmingham, England. Ryan is a fantastic guitarist and you can hear several of his recordings in the playlist, notably For Another Way with its haunting gravelly vocal and beautifully layered guitars.

Ryan’s Roadtrip mostly comprises classic tracks from the mainstream, however, and covers grunge, rock, blues, britpop, triphop, electronica and pop (with the odd curveball thrown in). The emphasis is firmly towards guitar-oriented rock music (noting that Marillion occupies approximately 10% of this playlist’s tracks) but there are also tracks from Enigma, Massive Attack and Gabrielle Aplin, which balance out the mix. It’s a good list for playing in the car, as the name suggests!

Rating: 15 (there are a couple of tracks designated ‘explicit’ in this list).

POTW (2019/12): The Four Seasons

This week’s Playlist of the Week is another one of those playlists that ‘does what it says on the label’. That is to say, that Dmitry Golubovsky has compiled a selection of tunes about weather and the seasons, which kicks off with three of his own minimal electronica pieces, which, if I’m not mistaken, are all variations on a theme.

Genre wise, the playlist leans mainly towards classical, neo-classical and gentle electronica instrumentals (as you might expect from an artist who produces this sort of music himself) but there are exceptions, including a few songs with lyrics. It’s the kind of playlist you could easily listen to in your office or while reading a book without the music distracting too much of your attention.

POTW (2019/10): Lo-fi Triphop / Chill / Dubstep

This week, we have this gem of a Trip-hop playlist by Leg Puppy for your listening pleasure. Leg Puppy are a subversive British punktronica band with a lot to say about current western culture, including smartphones, selfies and the closure of smaller music venues. (That last one might just be a UK thing?)

Leg Puppy’s superpower is nailing exactly what is wrong with the world, and not holding back from telling us how it is, whilst injecting the message with a shot of raw humour. Being rather direct, they won’t be to everyone’s taste, but, as Left Bank Mag have said, they are ‘fascinatingly entrancing’. This gift of lifting the covers on Pandora’s empty box and giving us a run down on what went wrong perhaps explains their love of the triphop genre, itself often a healthy source of social commentary. Some of Leg Puppy’s electronic tracks do lean in towards the triphop genre and probably my favourite of these, Black Light, is included here. Silence 23, their recent collaboration with Ceiling Demons, is reminiscent of some of the more menacing sounding tracks that Massive Attack and Tricky have produced over the years.

This playlist avoids the most obvious triphop choices, often picking edgier tracks that fit their own band’s sound and songs from obscurer artists. (There are exceptions: Massive Attack’s gorgeous collaboration with Hope Sandoval, The Spoils, made the cut). There’s a distinctly dystopian flavour pervading much of the selection and, as its name suggests, it has been spiked with some dub and chill, which vary the mood, helping to avoid it getting overly heavy.

Rating: PG (Some tracks are labelled ‘explicit’).

POTW (2019/8): Classic Electronic Music

This week’s selection for Playlist of the Week is ‘Classic Electronic Music’ by Spotify user ‘lodolf’. It focusses in on the more melodic and cinematic side of electronica, which has roots in classical and orchestral music. In fact, some of the pieces included are actually classical orchestral music being played on synths, e.g. Synclassica’s renditions of Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi and so on. Another notable piece is Arvo Pärt’s moving minimal work, Spiegel im Spiegel.

There is a lot to like here. This is a well thought out playlist of instrumental music, with selected pieces of electronica from the 1970s onwards. There were a few surprises – I didn’t expect to hear ABBA’s Arrival or, for that matter, any Bowie. (Benny Andersson of ABBA also snook in again with his cinematic Skallgång.)

That insistence on shying away from the obvious is one of the playlist’s major assets – it includes a generous smattering of emerging artists, examples being Easily Embarrassed, Bassic, Animobo, Firechild, Didymos, and the list goes on. This led me to discover at least a handful of artists who weren’t even near my radar, let alone on it.

If I’m going to be really picky, this playlist focusses a bit too heavily on certain artists, albeit with some heavy hitters fitting that category, such as Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Tangerine Dream. That has not taken away from this playlist being a thoroughly enjoyable listen, however, as the ‘over-represented’ artists are all fantastic.

POTW (2019/7): Anima 27 by RE Junesworth

This week’s Playlist Of The Week is RE Junesworth’s lovely Anima 27: Surreal / Cosmic / Lo Fi / Synth / Psychedelic / Atmospheric / Ambient which they describe as, “a selection of electronic music with industrial influences, downtempo and lo fi, and some ambient tracks for calm breaks”. With it being instrumental, it’s the kind of playlist you can put on and leave playing in the background, allowing you to dig into work that requires some fairly deep concentration. And at over 8 hours long, you’re not going to need to worry about what to play next in the middle of a tricky task. Tracks range from those from better-known artists like Alan Gogoll, Lemongrass, Seneca B and Shpongle, to some hidden gems from some underground acts.

Although they would sit well in this playlist, it doesn’t include any Flungundi tracks at the time of writing. Flugundi is the home of RE Junesworth’s own artistic endeavours, which are well worth checking out.

And, if you enjoy this playlist and would like to explore further, there are actually a whole load of other Anima playlists from the same curator, with emphasis on different genres each time, but staying within the realms of chillout music.

POTW (2019/6): Electronica by Independent Female Artists

This week’s POTW is another compiled by Line Munch-Petersen (ENILSounds). In this playlist, she features tunes by female electronic artists who are unsigned or with independent record labels.

The music ranges from ambient through to electro-country with various shades of electronica, pop and rock in between. Some of the tracks have a darker feel to them, like Brexistentialism and The Elders Secret and some have clubby vibes, e.g. Corazon de Lluvia and There’s a Place for You. There are a lot of tracks on this playlist from artists I’d never heard before, so it’s a really good one for new music discovery, too. And if I’m not mistaken there’s a European flavour pervading the list, Brexistentialism included.

Rating: PG – it has a song or two flagged ‘explicit’, but is mostly ‘clean’.

POTW (2019/5): Yoga Chill by Michelle Qureshi

This week’s playlist of the week is Yoga Chill, from Michelle Qureshi, and brings together a selection of beautiful pieces in the chill out, new age, ambient and acoustic genres. You don’t need to be doing yoga to enjoy this playlist – it makes great background music for reading, studying or other non-physical activities, which is great if you’re an unbendy couch-potato like me.

Michelle Qureshi is an acoustic artist in her own right, writing and recording almost classical style new age and ambient pieces, often guitar based. She has several tracks in the playlist, so you can get a feel for her style. (She’s also included a couple of tracks by Andy Salvanos, who I’ve mentioned before in the blog.) Michelle brings a great deal of feeling to everything I’ve heard her do, and pieces like Never Odd Or Even can leave you floating off into some imaginary sunset, so I think you’ll really enjoy listening.

Ghettoblaster

Playlist of the Week (2018/44)

Digital Music Goodness, from Replicant Theory, is this week's playlist of the week.

Digital Music Goodness by the artist Replicant Theory is this week’s Playlist of the Week. It’s full of various forms of electronica, focussing on darkwave, synthwave, ambient and electronica.

The Replicant Theory project originated as a collaboration between two artists in the early 2000s, but after making their first album, one of the members relocated and the project fizzled out. After a couple of failed attempts at getting going again and a second album, Polaroids, Replicant found new momentum after writing two tracks for a zombie shooting game as a result of a chance encounter with a game developer. Since then, as well as releasing more albums of his own, he has collaborated with a number of independent artists (including GJART, whose playlist GJART Loves I featured back in February). Replicant Theory describes the music he makes as a “hybrid of alt-metal, progressive, industrial, electronica & darkwave from the underground.”  There are several good examples of his work, such as Shadows Fall, within the playlist.

 

 

Ghettoblaster

Playlist of the Week (2018/41)

POTW No 41: Soulful Fox's Chill-out Downtempo Dance Music

This week’s POTW is the fantastic Chillout Downtempo Dance Music, by Soulful Fox, an independent music producer and performer from Liverpool who makes uplifting electronica music that leans towards house, downtempo and liquid drum and bass.

After studying for a music degree, she took a detour and started a career in banking, but  decided it wasn’t for her. She subsequently went into music teaching, which she loved and which also gave her the opportunity to learn music production, using Logic  software. You can find some of her excellent work via this playlist, or at her CD Baby or Soundcloud pages.