Giraffe – [2005] Giraffe

Melancholic melodic indie folk pop prog rock. Boom. Genre keyword density overflow.

Netlabel 12rec., active from 2004 to 2011, is still one of the most relevant names in the game due to their consistently high quality throughout their 64 releases. Giraffe is representative for their roster, with an artsy, yet approachable indie style slightly “left” of Elliot Smith.

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Psychadelic Pedestrian, Notch – [2019] Psychadelik Pedestrian v Notch Remixes

Uplifting house music, straight from the source.

Netlabel Toucan Music is my preferred stop when fishing for well-produced, mainstream sounding dance music with a Creative Commons license attached. While I typically like and review their hour-long mix releases, here I present to you a short, two tracks long EP of remixes done by two staples of the label’s roster.

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Point – [2019] Human Music

Slick abstract trance, located somewhere between deadmau5 and Moderat. Genuinely trance-inducing.

Netlabel Digital Diamonds has stayed one of the more active netlabels. As such, it comes up more and more often when fishing for recent releases in the younger parts of the Internet Archive’s audio section. This release is a particularly brilliant gem of cerebral dance music. Doing well both as fancy coding backdrop as well as late night club furniture, its polished soundscapes hide lots of work that must have gone into their effort betraying shiny finish.

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Emerald Park – [2020] Basement Sessions (CC Version)

Routinely produced indie pop rock by staples of the genre in Creative Commons land.

If you have been following “the scene” for some years, Emerald Park are one of the big names. They regularly have released high quality indie pop ranging from synth to vocal pop rock. Clearly aimed at broader rather than niche audiences, their sound is pleasing yet not flat.

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Tornfly – [2012] Solar System Federation

Relaxingly spacious, almost ambient trance. Airy synth lines above sparce percussion.

Definitely not easy listening, this trance-y instrumental space music makes for some intriguing hours of re-listening to its 8 varied entries. Every song starts differently and develops independently from the others. Common are the synth sounds, drum kits and sawtooth bass lines.

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{tantrum} – [2011] {tantrum} EP

Brass indie pop from Indonesia. Refreshingly conventional piano arrangements and vocals.

If you remember the sound of Badly Drawn Boy‘s soundtrack for the movie About a Boy, this is exactly how this band sounds. Leisurely paced pop songs with pleasant vocals and recipe book song structures. Trumpets and Indonesian lyrics add flavour to some of the 11 tracks.

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Various Artists – [2008] Breathe 02

Essential listen for downtempo enthusiasts. Different artists cover wide range of styles.

Breathe Compilations is a (former?) Mexican netlabel that – surprise – specialises in releasing compilations, active between 2008 and 2018 (as of 2020). Although the label’s back catalogue (92 releases) has not seen an addition for almost 2 years, its Soundcloud profile buzzes with activity. So I don’t fully call off any hope for a comeback. But in the meantime, I could as well review one of its earliest releases:

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Gridline – [2014] Videogame

Pure synths (no samples) and drums lead to an instrumental or melodic techno album. Made not for dancing, but for attentive walking.

Gridline is the music project by Serbian artist Predrag Grujic. Starting in 2012, he released several albums and EPs on the two-sided Japanese label Bump Foot (Bump for techno et al., Foot for ambient, IDM, …). This is his first Bump release, and quite quiet at that. Melody lines and only subtle beats make this more (artsy) pop than dance music. Its liberal use of cold sound textures and reverb occasionally remind me of a church organ.

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Aleckat And Hynamo – [2020] Apollo EP

Stratospheric sounds hit grounded beats. Solid progressive techno with psy trance influences. Headphones strongly recommended.

Imagine the fat production value of Monstercat, the astro-inspired sound of space backdrops, and the routine of a club music DJ, all at the same time. The result is an EP whose use of Armstrong’s iconic footprint is fully justified. Long, stretched-out bass lines are monotonous, but never boring. But judge for yourself whether this is your cup of trance:

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The Smashing Pumpkins – [2000] MACHINA II / The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music

A true case of an underground release. Uncompromising hard rock, akin to Nine Inch Nails marrying AC/DC, straight from vinyl.

Yes, this is a release by the Smashing Pumpkins, released by the artists partly in protest against their record label. The original release consisted of only 25 hand-pressed LPs, which found their way to radio stations and devoted fans, with instructions to duplicate and spread the record. And so it did. This version was digitized by a radio station, so hopefully this is as close as possible to the band’s intentions, and those are: rock hard.

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