Driftless Recordings – November 17, 2016
Lexington’s Ellie Herring has become an increasingly popular part of the electronic music community over the course of the last few years. Her sounds have evolved over that time, leaving us here with What a Joy, an entrancing collection of five songs. The tracks here inhabit a space somehow shared by thudding kick drums and bass lines, while remaining relaxing and tranquil. “Wheels On” – the first track released as a single – is a mid-tempo track that slowly builds from heavy drums and syncopated bass, adding sparse, echoey notes in the upper octaves. My favorite on the EP is “Penelope,” a track that is fun in the same way Todd Terje is fun (though, without sounding quite like his music). It’s outfitted with sampled hand drums, warped lush synth chords, and a heavy groove – it’s just a really fun track. “Forgot Right” turns the beat around onto the latter half of each bar, samples some distorted male vocals, and pulses with buzzing synthesizer chords. The intro to “Swim Me” is very spacey and calm, allowing you to hear the bass line slowly sneak up into the mix until it stands out as the skeleton of the song – Yaeji’s vocals on the track almost feel like an instrument, timed metronomically with the drums and bass to add to the trance. “Seaport at Night” is a palette-cleansingly atmospheric track, and a great way to close out the EP, waiting patiently to add the drums and a soft harmonic progression. What a Joy is a great, atmospheric, feel-good experience – take a good listen, and enjoy.
Tracks I Liked: Penelope!!!, Forgot Right!, Swim Me!!, Seaport at Night
Ben Southworth – November 20, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Genre: Ambient Electronica
It’s been a great summer for producing music if you happen to be Ellie Herring. After first releasing her eleven-song collection of remixes last month (a very strong release in itself,) she’s put out another cluster of previously unheard tracks. Kite Day is named for a day in her elementary school years where students were allowed to go outside and fly kites, but more importantly refers to her father’s taking of time the day before to teach her how to fly one. The music, too, has a feeling of the fogginess that surround my own – and perhaps your – childhood memories, flowing around lazily from section to section, song to song. She traverses every texture available – putting massive amounts of reverb with the vocals, panning synths and pads with precise intention, and stirring in sharp drum beats to give a certain amount of busyness to the sound that that borders on, sometimes stumbling into the territory of trance music. Unlike Potion Shop, Kite Day originates entirely from music she wrote herself – though it is tail-ended with three remixes of songs from this album. Not surprisingly, the songs chosen to be remixed are also the ones that stick out initially as most accessible, and are done well themselves. This is the kind of music that necessitates sitting down with a decent pair of headphones or speakers and simply allowing oneself to get lost – Ellie has made that an easy thing to do here.
Ben Southworth – July 30th, 2013 – Cedar Creek
Genre: Meditative Rock
Old Baby isn’t a band that I know much about, but when I listen to an album with that lack of material to compare it with, it becomes easier to hear the music for what it is – I’m unable to refer to any preconceptions, and objectivity is much more necessary when listening. Love Hangover is an album that lends itself to this – it is an album whose songs explore sometimes repetitive themes and riffs, but relies more on other musical elements to draw interest. Rather than an ever-evolving chord progression for each song, the majority of the tracks explore ideas of dynamic contrast and textural placements while a hypnotic ostinato in bass and guitar riffs continue beneath it all. The lyrics are clear and pronounced, and while they lend some color to the music, they are often worked into the music in the same ways the guitars are; the vocals often sound a lot like RHCP’s Anthony Kiedis, but also contain a certain amount of depth and resonance – to an almost Johnny Cash-esque degree. These guys have played shows in the past with label-mate, Wax Fang, and it’s easy to see why they’d pair nicely with one another – Old Baby accomplishes the same quantity of groove in their music, but tends to keep things sounding more subdued and cool sounding. While the front end of the album is great, I found myself really enjoying the middle portion the most – “Love Hungry” is infectious, and “Tired” explores its title in a way that could be better described as ‘exhausted.’ Love Hangover is an album that would make an incredible show in a live setting, but, over headphones, also makes it easy to close your eyes to and just nod your head in time.
My Favorites – Into the Earth!!, Love Hungover!, Tired!!!, Love Hungry!!, This is Me!, Weight of Love!
– Ben Southworth – June 23rd, 2013
Genre: Ambient Electronica/ Quasi-Trance
The label “ambient electronica” is a strange one – one that can really mean a lot of things. I guess, to me, it means the sort of music that is made with electronic components, but doesn’t necessarily make you want to dance. And though this EP didn’t have me on my feet, it definitely had my head bobbing along subconsciously. Chimarra’s first EP, Edge Effects, is a 23-minute collection, made up of glitchy drum beats, samples panned to either side of the head, a slew of different synth sounds, and the mellow tone of a euphonium. At first listen, the album is a lot what you’d expect from an ambient electronic artist – the drum beats, especially, remind me of the fizzy rhythms that made up much of Sufjan Steven’s Age of Adz. There are two major things, though, that give this music a different feeling than most other music in this genre: the feeling of a narrative and followable line of song development, and the euphonium. Taking a look at Chimarra’s Facebook page, he lists “the power and beauty of the natural world” as the inspiration for his music – when taking this into account, it makes it a little easier to understand the feeling of calm narration that much of the music has. The choice to include the sounds of a brass instrument – thrown in selectively on euphonium, rather than a sampled sound on a keyboard – is definitely interesting, and it gives the music some really nice dissonance and color. The album definitely rides the line into trance music – it’s pretty meditative and it conveys its ties to the tranquility of nature very well.
Tracks I Liked: Cave Patterns!!!, North of the Light!, Timestream!!
– Ben Southworth – Lexington, Kentucky – May 21, 2013