Various Artists – [2010] SYNTHEMATIKA TWO

Essential industrial synth-pop compilation from the golden age of netlabels.

In only five years from 2009 to 2014, netlabel Synthematik managed to publish over 30 albums or compilations with a matching style, this being my third review and more to come surely. That style is industrial future pop, so distorted sawtooth synth pads galore and half-shouted lyrics abound.

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Various Artists – [2013] FrostWire Creative Commons Mixtape Vol. 4

Professionally produced pop music compilation, endorsed by BitTorrent client

Surprise find while digging through the archive.org backwater: BitTorrent client developer community FrostWire promotes Creative Commons artists on their homepage. This has even lead to them creating 7 mixtapes over the years. So what does no. 4 contain? Surprisingly pleasant pop music!

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Ezhak – [2016] Cold Sky

Funky vaporwave. Essential genre entry, while avoiding most (not all) clichés.

I am internally divided about what to make of the genre vaporwave. On the one hand, it is the clear over-exaggeration of the 80’s revival trend that has drowned the independent music scene in endless covers of the good old synth sound of better times. On the other hand, I find some mellow comfort in those strange yet familiar tunes that fake old, low-fidelity production techniques, drowning in tape artefacts and surreal depictions of consumer culture totems of the 90’s in a visual style that borders on graphic design necrophilia. But back to the music. I chose this release to introduce the genre to this blog because it avoids most clichés, while staying true to the core formula of vaporwave: slow-paced production, heavy sampling, simple synth song structures. And then Ezhak adds plenty of groove on top, making the result unusually enjoyable; not bad for a style that otherwise can only be enjoyed satirically or at least ironically.

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Rare & Cheese – [2010] Jazzpolice EP

Classic hip hop sound with frisky jazzy loops and funky lyrics. Fresh Prince from Bel-Air style!

With this release already 10 and the nineties already 20 years away, its sound promising you back the golden age of hip hop is alright nostalgic. Rap worked with a simple and catchy musical loop, slow-paced spoken lyrics with stretched rhymes.

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Welcome Home Morning Star – [2018] Nimrod

Cold as steel cinematic post rock from Portugal; calm sound yet strong atmosphere.

Steel guitars, long stretches of calm arpeggios, loud culminations in 5-7 minute long tracks; this EP by this Portuguese post-rock project knows how to satisfy genre expectations. Particular is their focus on airy, spacious sound and melancholic harmonies. So, if you crave something to accompany a chilling autumn season, there’s some auditory flavouring; as usual, found through a netlabel back catalogue (active and kicking Enough Records, in this case).

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Various Artists – [2008] The Silent Ballet, Volume VII: Có Vẻ Như Trời Sẽ Ngớt Mưa

Carefully crafted slightly experimental ambient post rock or drone tracks, with tender vocal tracks throughout.

This marks my fifth review for one of the Silent Ballet compilation entries. This series is – or rather was – centred around ambient post rock, with a focus on experimental artists around the world. This entry is no exception. Mostly calm, slow tracks are featured on this instalment. See which two tracks I after the fold:

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PeerGynt Lobogris – [2011] The Edge of Forever

Varied showcase of versatile artist from prog rock over downtempo to classic piano.

This Spanish music producer probably is one of the most active members on music licensing platform Jamendo: exactly 60 releases ranging from 2007 to 2020. Guitar centric progressive rock is his staple, but he does not like to limit himself to a single genre per album. Note to self: review more of his output, this stuff is good!

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Stikleader – [2013] Melody of the Clouds V2

83 minutes of uninterrupted instrumental laid-back techno. Easy on the ears, late night compatible.

Calm beats and uninterrupted synth backdrops await you in this movie-length continuous mix. Released at apparently defunct Spanish netlabel surrealfreak, the artist chose some 16 tracks. A track listing can be found on Russian site Techno-Locator, in case you want to hunt down the original artists.

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Lavoura – [2019] Ayizan

Exotic future jazz fusion with groovy inserts left and right.

This release is exceptional in that it differs quite a bit from the typical roster one would expect to find in netlabel Bump Foot’s roster. But to be fair, a Brazillian future jazz ensemble would stick out in just about any artist listing. What a pity that this release is only two tracks long. Dont’t dare to miss any of those, though. Influences from Brazil and Africa, mixed with contemporary fusion jazz, these standards deserve a place in your playlist:

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King Shi – [2018] Red (LP)

Expertly produced fusion of instrumental hip hop and trip hop. Groovy, yet downtempo goodness.

Netlabel Dusted Wax manages to stick close to its signature sound, which sometimes can become boring for a treasure hunter like me, always curious for a new sound experience. This release is such an experience: familiar flavour, but new spices added left and right, and the result is all the better for it: delicious beats, served with specially recorded instrument tracks, and electronic effects on top.

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