An Homage to Video Game Music: Back to the Chiptune

Starting from the late 70s video game music became part of a generation, with a typical chiptune sound and just 8 bits to please the gamers. From that moment on, this music reached a highly respectable status, turning into a proper soundtrack. Far from being mere background music, it could be considered an essential part of the game, interacting with its dynamic and fluid turn of events. It’s not just a question of scoring: this music should be adaptable to every possible scenario, following the play of the users.

Recently, lots of artists came back to that chiptune sound, hardly pushing the button on the bit reduction. Mostly related to the independent video game scenario, these artists offer a personal view on that kind of music, finding their roots in the legendary 8-bit music scores (such as the looping chromatic bass in Space Invaders). Here a short list to introduce some of the most representative works in this genre.

Danny Baranowsky

danny-baranowsky The man behind Super Meat Boy soundtrack, Danny Baranowsky started gaining notoriety scoring Canabalt in 2009. Founding dB soundworks to promote his music, he offers a personal interpretation of the early 80s chiptune melodies (stream the huge amount of records he shared on his Bandcamp to prove it). Here you find a sample of what he does: the three track record Glorg probably is his most bit reduced release so far. Produced in 2010, this record shows a great passion for early sound synthesizer technologies, revealing a fine music taste from this Arizona native composer.


Disasterpeace

disasterpeaceRich Vreeland‘s project Disasterpeace probably is the best thing you’ll find in the current 8-bit music scenario. He won an award for scoring FEZ in 2012 after working on tons of video game soundtracks in the past years (around 30 or more). He produced his first release The Chronicles of Jammage the Jam Mage in 2005: from that moment on he gained more and more notoriety, even receiving a tribute from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Here the soundtrack from Passcode: Soul of the Traveler he released in 2010. Enjoy the work of this Berkeley-based chiptune composer.


Zweihänder

zweihaenderThe so-called Zweihänder is a sword you should grab with both of your hands because of its weight and size. Picture yourself fighting a dragon, trying to rescue some princesses in a medieval castle: this is exactly the feeling you got listening to this 8-bit music. It reminds of those arcade games you could play over and over, trapped in a palace, checking every room for keys or bonus jewels. Starting as a Youtube project, Zweihänder shared Ear Slayer in 2012 and now a new record is about to come. Stream here the upcoming Nitheren.


Lifeformed

Lifeformed-Fastfall-Lifeformed-Fastfall-insertTerence Lee’s project Lifeformed offers a marvelous mixture of chip music and chillwave. Last year’s Fastfall was used as a soundtrack for the independent video game Dustforce, showing a great ability in mixing lounge vibes with 8-bit harmonies. This way he created an original interpretation of that early 80s vibe. Probably not the classic chip composer, Terence Lee is good at combining different influences coming from ambient, club music and chillwave. Hailing from Cincinnati, this is the kind of chiptune music you could still listen to while enjoying a beachside breeze.


Not Every Surfer Is a Smiley Boy: a voodoo ritual made of dark-surf drones

Traditionally, surf music has always been a way to label bright and catchy tunes, filled with strongly reverberated guitar effects and chromatic melodies. Recently, it seems like different ways of rearranging those catchy patterns show up everywhere: from musicians such as VideoTape to Heroin in Tahiti (both from Rome) a new kind of beachside vibe is coming.

Listing a bunch of exmplar records, here you find a clear sample to get what this music is about: acid soundwaves, slowed down guitar licks and never-ending drones to feel the gloomy breeze of this music.

Heroin In Tahiti

heroin-in-tahiti-death-surfThis Rome-based duo created a peculiar kind of drone music, that you can barely find in any other place of the world. Using lots of surf stereotypes, they changed the speed, the tones and even the direction of their influences, producing an unique mixture of chillwave and slowed down rockabilly. Signed with Boring Machines (Father Murphy, Fabio Orsi and BeMyDelay among the others), they released Death Surf in 2012 (probably their best record so far). Stream that album to land on a desert beach, with just a funereal weather on the horizon and a sense of dirtiness all around.


VideoTape

videotapeIvan Giorgi’s project VideoTape released this year a marvelous debut EP, promising a forthcoming record in 2014 (via Ample Play Records). The five tracks he shared on Bandcamp show a huge potential and a great ability in combining different kinds of influences (stream his own version of My Bloody Valentine’s Sometimes to hear it clearly). Playing with the typical surf patterns, VideoTape reveals a more electronic-oriented songwriting (with hidden spoors of club music in the background), stating the point where trip-hop and chillwave walk together. Doggy Door featured on the Best of 2013 list, reaching a very remarkable position.


Heroin and Your Veins

Heroin-and-Your-Veins-Mics-and-FreeEven if alredy listed on another article, Janne Perttula’s work perfectly fits the standards of these records. His night time atmosphere blends the surf vibes with an old fashioned way of writing and playing guitar lines. You can pick up any of his releases from Bandcamp to taste a peculiar music style, so good at giving you a specific nightly feeling. Heroin and your Veins offers a fabulous cabinet of disenchanted melodies, with lots of remarkable instrumental compositions on his side. Here you can stream his 2008 record Nausea, drowning in an ocean of dark and bitter-flavored sounds.


Gggosht Townnn

ShocktopussyRecently releasing a six track record, this band from Bournemouth (a small town in Southern England) turned the garage tones of the previous works into a dark and fuzzy kind of surf music. Ggghost Townnn‘s Shocktopussy (out via Number4Door) offers fuzzy guitar riffs sustained by obsessive drum patterns. The sound of this band could be compared to the american garage scenario: no wonder why they refer to Ty Segall in one of their song. Probably the most powerful record you can find on this list, with clear connections to some noise/darkwave well-known bands, the track list contains tons of hypnotic bass lines, schizophrenic guitar licks and long improvised sections (album total length: 52min).

A Planet full of spooky Synthwaves: the contemporary Sci-Fi Horror Revival

In the last months we had an exploit of Sci-Fi records from all over the world. Deeply in love with the music of Goblin and John Carpenter, artists such as Alex Cuervo and Teeth of the Sea created a peculiar combination of creepy tones and futuristic soundwaves.

Referring to the work of 80s legends such as Gary Numan and John Foxx, these bands offer that kind of atmospheres only Dario Argento’s masterpieces contain. Turning the synthpop melodies into a relentless march of ghostly beats, these records give the sensation of riding a spaceship into the darkest corner of the galaxy.

Espectrostatic

SkelecticalAfter releasing the first EP in 2012, Alex Cuervo’s project Espectrostatic recently gave us a proper full-lenght (review here) that perfectly combines the horror tones with lots of sci-fi soundscapes. Paying great attention to details, Austin-based Espectrostatic created a wide range of spooky images you should be frightened of. These vibes picture a light-years-away danger slowly moving closer, with a sense of fear coming from the open space. Alex Cuervo’s music style may be an exception compared to Trouble In Mind standards, but still there’s no doubt his music has nothing to be jealous of.


Teeth of the Sea

Your MercuryLondon-based Teeth of the Sea third record was recently out and it may be one of the best releases we had in 2013. Often compared to Fuck Buttons works, Master has a stunning ability in mixing harsh tones with synths and futuristic sounds. This band moved from a psych-experimental kind of post-rock to a more electro-oriented music style, creating a world made of androids, spaceships and artificial lifeforms. You really have the feeling to expierence Giorgio Moroder playing some kind of space-rock music. Use Reaper as a starter to understand what this record is about.


Absolute Valentine

ABSOLUTE-VALENTINE---AMERICAN-NIGHTMARES---NEW-ALBUMAbsolute Valentine is a synthpop project coming from Marseille. Last Halloween a horror-themed 8-track record was shared on Bandcamp, perfectly in time with the autumnal rise of the sci-fi releases. Quite distant from the delicate atmospheres of the previous Sunset Love Ep, American Nightmares shows a cynic use of 80s melodies to enter a land made of darkness and howlin’ wolves. Literally talking, Razorblade Kisses gives us an example of how this record could thread a needle into human flesh, being gentle at the same time. By the way, brand new record label Future 80’s released Absolute Valentine’s Sunset Love on Christmas!


Werewolves In Siberia

Werewolves+in+Siberia+WiS+Logo+with+background+smallChris Cavoretto’s project Werewolves in Siberia is a great prove of love for the 80s horror movies, with lots of zombies and spooky scenarios. Working on those old-fashioned soundtracks, so futuristic at that time, Werewolves in Siberia re-arranged that sonorities, offering a marvelous journey into scary landscapes. The Rising was shared on Bandcamp last November and it really seems like it came out from some mad scientist laboratory. Filled with thrills and bending sounds, this record is the work of a truly passionate lover of the 80s: Cavoretto should have been listening to thousands of synth-rock records during these years.


Makeup and Vanity Set

makeup-and-vanity-setAnother Halloween-themed release on this list! Even if it’s been three year since this record has been shared, Charles Park II could easily be considered as a classic in the Horror/Sci-Fi scenario. Makeup and Vanity Set created a collection of tracks that masterfully spread a dark and gloomy atmosphere, using the 80s synths as interweaving melodic lines. The obsessive patterns they play really give the feeling of a relentless run (probably from some kind of strange creature). The obscure harmonies, the bloody artwork, the spooky arpeggios and thousands of other reasons make this record an evergreen for every 8-bit horror party.

Fat Whites/Taman Shud EP

On Christmas time Fat Whites & Taman Shud released a split 5-track Ep entirely available on Bandcamp.

London-based Fat Whites got signed by independent label Trashmouth Records, releasing their psych-garage debut Champagne Holocaust in 2012. Not far from that record, on this Ep the band focused more on their typical harsh sonorities, filling the first three tracks with tons of hypnotic patterns and restless chromatic guitar licks (it may be a good reason to label themselves as “spaghetti western”).

The dark vibes of Wet Hot Beef (Part I) turn into an unstoppable ride on the second track, offering a noisy bunch of surf melodies. Everything finds a brief moment of rest in Now That I’m Taking Myself Seriously As An Artist (Wet Hot Beef Part III): an intimate composition for voice and guitar.



The second part of this release was put into the hands of Taman Shud (google this name if you’re fan of conspiracies): another band from London that sounds more grunge-oriented. The Ziggurat, Mirage could easily be part of Mudhoney/Jesus Lizard catalog: the fuzzy obsessive riffs should be a damning evidence.

This atmosphere turns into a powerful three minutes tune, with lots of noisy guitar effects and a feverish vocal line. This way you can listen to surf patterns combined with a punk/hardcore savageness.

Not sure if it’s the traditional way to celebrate Xmas, but still it’s an enjoyable record to stream.

Tales of Rabbits and Pixies: the Alt-Folk Renaissance in the U.K.

In 2013, after four years of stunning releases, alt-folk indipendent label Folk Police Recordings folded up, leaving tons of folk gems still available on Bandcamp. Helping us to discover a new British music scene, this label offers the occasion to talk about the current alt-folk revival in the U.K.

—————————————–

Describing a world made of strange creatures and misty landscapes, these records merge the typical folk songwriting with a peculiar use of sound fields and psych’n’soporific atmospheres. You really don’t know what to expect from this kind of experimental music: everything sounds like a constant stream of soft and delicate sounds lying on a bed of weird background noises. Each of these bands offers a specific cabinet of melodies, combining their slow walking compositions with a unique sense of mystic. Enjoy these records to enter a land populated by fairies and gnomes, pixies and human rabbits, bumping into a sabbath at some point. Like a 21th century Alice, explore this cave of jingles and dreamlike sounds.

Sproatly Smith

sproatly-smith-carolsHereford is a small cathedral city, immersed in an out-of-time medieval atmosphere and surrounded by the countryside. It’s not very hard to imagine Sproatly Smith in this scenario: the music they play perfectly fits that autumnal landscape, most of the time covered by foggy weather. Starting their career around 2008, they released five studio albums so far (plus a marvelous collection of remixes in 2013). Surfing the web, it’s quite difficult to find some info about the band. All we can do is enjoying their delicious soundscaspes, full of spooky vibes and forest-likely sound effects. Probably one of the best bands Folk Police could have ever offered.


The Hare and The Moon

the-hare-and-the-moonSigned with Reverb Worship, this band investigates the spookiest side of the folk revival, proving a strong dark-influenced use of arrangements and an everlasting love for a certain “priestly” singing. The Hare and the Moon stands for an anonymous ensemble that could perfectly be introduced as your nightmares’ soundtrack band. Very few people know who they really are and they never perform on stage: the only way to taste their fabulous film scoring soundscapes is to go on their Soundcloud account. Here a track from the forthcoming third release.


Venereum Arvum

A Pentacle of PipsRachel McCarron and Sean Breadin’s project Venereum Arvum combines a traditional folk songwriting with a specific experimental attitude. Releasing A Pentacle of Pips in 2011, they are two of the best artists signed with Folk Police, showing the way to play great psych-folk compositions. With a ritual atmosphere, they created hypnotic banjo patterns blended with lysergic and circular vocal lines. As usual, no bio info is available for this folk band. The only way to get into their weird land is to stream the material they shared online, enjoying the slow flow of countryside flavored vibes.


Harp and a Monkey

harp-and-monkeyThis trio from Manchester started producing music in their homestudio in 2008, consolidating a long-time friendship into a country-folk project. Harp and a Monkey is the perfect example of how to make a smart use of electronic samples in folk music. Their 2011 self named album is a collection of eleven songs, with several great ideas throughout the entire track list. Tunes for banjo and accordion sustained by a good use of electronic beats: that’s what to expect from their elaborate works. Probably the most traditional folk band on this list: stream their album on Bandcamp to prove it.


The Soulless Party

The Soulless Party Tales From The Black MeadowEven if it’s quite unexpected to find such a project on this list, the use they make of flutes, orchestral arrangements and the minor chord progressions allow this music to be considered as a branch of the recent alt-folk scenario. To be clear, the music The Soulless Party plays could be labeled as rural psychedelia, evoking landscapes full of gnomes, wizards and ghostly creatures. The background sound fields give the sensation of a wide landscape, most likely experienced at the sunset. Based on an omnipresent organ sound and celestial choirs, the recent Tales From The Black Meadow is one of the best releases we had this year, with ten marvelous composition to state it.


Wyrdstone

wyrdstoneMulti-instrumentalist Clive Murrell released a stunning debut record via Reverb Worship in 2009 under the name Wyrdstone. Also in this case we find a discrete use of sound fields (the bird singing samples so typical for this kind of music), but the main character is Murrell’s guitar, without any doubt. Stating his abilities as a six-string wizard, Wyrdstone’s music could be compared to Alexander Tucker’s works: the atmosphere they describe is pretty similar, even if Murrell is more for instrumental compositions. Sometimes you can really feel a medieval vibe, probably picturing Wyrdstone as a 21th century minstrel.


Arrowwood

arrowwoodEven if Chelsea Robb (aka Arrowwddod) moved to USA, she’s still deeply influenced by her British roots. On her latest Beautiful Grave (out via Merlin’s Nose) she created a 13-step stream of ethereal vibrations, offering something similar to a fairy pagan elegy. Thanks to a way more mature songwriting, Arrowwood celebrates her proper sabbath on this record, with a vast use of drones, vocal effects, cymbals and sounds that are really typical in certain ambient music. This kind of neofolk reveals the weird side of its sonorities, in a certain way similar to the sensation you should feel watching the trees moving.

Le nouvelle Psychédélisme: France in Love with the 60s

In the last years a worldwide renewed love for the 60 sonorities marked a peculiar comeback to the lysergic atmospheres so typical at that time. Each country seems to have a truly passionate music scenario, stating the unavoidable way back to that specific sound. Tons of French bands proved this love for the psych-pop era, taking most of the stereotypes from the latest American garage scene, mixing the acid and fuzzy tones with their own ye-yé musical roots.

This way they created a brand new kind of revival, showing the world the way to renovate an over-exploited way of composing. From the catchy surf melodies to the harsh garage riffs, the sixties identity exerts a great deal of influence through a wide range of sonorities. Here just a sample of what you can find in this developing music scenario: seven bands that really deserve to be listened to.
(Most of the records’ hyperlinks refers to a completely free streaming on Bandcamp or Youtube)

La Femme

La-Femme-Psycho-Tropical-BerlinComing from Biarritz, a small town close to the border with Spain, this band created a stunning mixture of surf tones and French ye-yé melodies, playing a particular form of revival that easily turns into an instant classic. Releasing their first EP in 2010, La Femme debut album Psycho Tropical Berlin was out last April via Disques Pointu. Antitaxi, Sur La Planche, La Femme: just listen to these three gems to drown into a pleasant lysergic sound. You can even find their first Ep in free streaming on Bandcamp, testifying the initial potential of the band. At the end of the day, it’s hard to find a specific influence for this band: they combine electrowave with surf-rock, synth-pop with garage-tones, referring to legends like Jefferson Airplane and Velvet Underground as well as French new wave bands such as Taxi Girl and Marie et le Garçons.

The Limiñanas

crystal-anisProbably the most 60s-experienced band on this list, The Limiñanas is the name of the project created by Lio and Marie Limiñana back in October 2009. You can easily find out the strong influence Velvet Underground & Nico played on this band: throughout their entire discography there’s always a stunning harmony between noisy tunes and chanteuse-likely vocal lines. Starting with their self named debut release in 2010, the band proved their great abilities on three LP (via Trouble in Mind). Their latest record Costa Blanca (review here) was out recently, offering 13 tracks of psych-flavoured compositions and songs that easily flow like a mantra. Such a sophisticated way to play revival that it’s a shame to pass over.

Orval Carlos Sibelius

Orval Carlos Sibelius Super FormaHow does it sound a tune coming from light years away? You ought to listen to Super Forma, latest Orval Carlos Sibelius record out last May via Clapping Music. This French composer, starting with a self-named album in 2008, offers a peculiar form of psychedelic songwriting blended with astral atmospheres and hyper-reverberated vocal lines. Creating hypnotic soundwaves, this music could be placed out of space, where the timeless soundscapes he evokes find their right place. The long-sustained background sounds help to paint a dreamy scenario that slowly turns into a lysergic stream of sounds: music to gently drown in an ocean of pleasant melodies.

Catholic Spray

Catholic Spray amazon huntWith a strong similarity to Thee Oh Sees wildest side, Catholic Spray is a dark-surf project from Paris, playing a fuzzy mixture of garage and trashy Lo-Fi. First of all, you can stream everything for free on their Bandcamp account; then you will probably fall in love with their savage punk’n’roll. Coming from the Born Bad Records catalog, among the others, the band the marvelous Earth Slime this year: a dilapidated form of restless psych-punk. It’s like meeting the Stooges on acid. Maybe the most American-influenced band on the list (the similarity with Ty Segall it’s unavoidable), they offer a garage-likely experience without any restriction.

Wall of Death

wall of deathHailing from Paris, with a remarkable 60s-influenced way of composing and tons of acid sound effects, Wall of Death consist of a power trio that looks at the well-known psych-rock harmonies (first Pink Floyd as an example). Their debut release, out this year and completely in streaming on Bandcamp combines hard-rock riffs and distended trippy soundscapes, giving the sensation of a cathartic acid storm. it’s not a secret that they count a lot of krautrock among all their influences, as well as psych-cornerstones from the sixties: listen to In Your Arms to hear a Barrett-likely track soaked into krautrock atmospheres.

Tara King Th.

Hirondelle & BerettaPerhaps this choice doesn’t perfectly fit this list, since the sound of Tara king th. is more 70s-oriented, with a clear reference to Morricone and some spaghetti western soundscapes. Anyway, it’s surely from a certain 60s scenario that Tara King th.’s works take their origin, constructing composition with a vintage organ sound close to several prograssive projects. Latest release out via Petrol Chips, Hirondelle & Beretta, is a concept about an imaginary noir movie, deeply influenced by some french Gainsbourg-likely sonorities. This way, the record sounds more like a soundtrack, giving the idea of different scenes with several background sounds that reminds of a particular french ye-ye music scene. Active since 2003, Tara King th. is an atypical choice for this list, but surely should worth a listen.

Arno de Cea and The Clockwork Wizard

ArnodeceaAnd now a complete bonus choice! Even if more 50s-influenced Arno de Cea and the Clockwork Wizards play a brilliant melting pot of surf music, lysergic-pop and sweaty rock’n’roll. The 2011 release Surf it Up! reveal a powerful way of playing with the garage-surf pattern that hardly refers to the savagest Jacuzzi Boys. Hailing from Cestas (Aquitanie), this fuzzy combo was founded in 2008 and it’s a good example of how the current revival affected even the smallest underground music scene all over the world.

Robert Johnson – Me and The Devil Blues

A midnight meeting at the crossroad

June 20, 1937: Robert Johnson is about to complete the last of five studio sessions, recording all the 29 songs his discography counts. That day he decided was time to record the well-known song about the deal with Satan: Me And The Devil Blues.

The facts behind the lyrics are not really clear: the whole story sounds like a Southern American legend that no one is able to prove. The song describes the return of Lucifer to take back what he owns (probably a man’s soul). As the legend reports, Johnson wanted to become a great bluesman even if he was pretty awful at playing guitar. Some of his early friends, including Son House, found terrible the way he played first time they meet him.


Following what the legend narrates, he went to a crossroad at midnight with a guitar, waiting for the devil to come. At some point a huge black man came, tuned the guitar and played a few songs, showing the way to control perfectly the instrument. As soon as Johnson had his guitar back he owned mastery of it. The extraordinary rapid achievement created this famous legend and turned Robert Johnson into one of the greatest guitarist ever, with his peculiar fingerpicking and the astonishingly way to play and sing at the same time. Listening to his voice is almost like hearing a voice crying.

Johnson died one year after he recorded this song, at the age of 27. The causes are still unknown, even if there are several theories based on some events preceding his death.

Dark Jazz To The Rock Kids

In the last two decades a slowly growing jazz scenario came to life, merging the noir atmospheres of some dark-colored movies with the distended soundscapes so typical in doom music. Ideally starting with the sonorities of late Miles Davis and John Coltrane, the main influences come from one genre to another, declaring an everlasting love for Angelo Badalamenti’s way of composing. It’s way too easy to recognize several Twin Peak’s reminiscences on these records: the dreamlike sounds they evoke perfectly fit David Lynch’s masterpiece.

At the of the day, the label Dark-Jazz stands for a certain mixture of ambient and jazz, noir and downtempo, doom and melancholic tones, that perfectly redefines the borders of a timeless music genre. Normally, most of the bands involved in this category came from Death Metal/Hardcore small projects, bringing the sludge and slow sonorities of their previous experiences into a brand new jazz-likely idea. Here a list of some of the most representative artists: a personal selection turned into a “Magnificent Seven” Dark jazz collection.

 Bohren & der Club of Gore

Bohren_&_Der_Club_Of_Gore_-_Midnight_RadioHailing from Mühlheim an der Ruhr, a small town in West Germany, this band probably is the most famous Dark Jazz ensemble or, at least, the highest peak reached in this music scenario. Founded in 1992 by former members of several hardcore bands, Bohren & der Club of Gore admitted a strong influence coming from darkest Black Sabbath records and down tuned Death Metal bands. Releasing the stunning Gore Motel in 1994, they started the so-called Dark-Jazz trend, that found its proper bloom just at the of the century. It’s hard to choose a single record from their catalog, even if Sunset Mission and Black Heart (2002) may be a good starter (the latter especially because of the amazing Constant Fear). The sound of the band reminds of some distended jazz patterns, probably close to Chet Baker’s melancholic tunes, even if the ambient-flavoured tracks let everything be slower and darker. It really seems like watching some gangster movies in slow motion.

Heroin and your Veins

Heroin-and-Your-Veins-Lovely-Bone-StructureSurely not the best name to introduce your project, Heroin and Your Veins is the solo project of former goth-rock UltraNoir guitarist Janne Perttula. Based in Tampere, a small city in Southern Finland, Janne released his first solo record in 2007: a collection of 12 tunes, deeply soaked into a noir and psychobilly atmosphere, with tons of dark-oriented reminiscences. That record, named Dead People’s Trails, opened the path that several artists are keep on following (such as Dirty Beaches) and melted the 50s harmonies with a jazzy and darkwave way of composing. As he said, most of the influences came from Bohren & the Club of Gore and Tom Waits, even if he worked on them with such a personal style to realize something unique. You can even find most of his discography on Bandcamp.

Funki Porcini

Funki-Porcini-Dark-Jazz The story of James Bradell as a musician is really multicolored and full of anecdotes. His “Untitled” first track was part of a compilation in 1983, then he stopped releasing stuff for more than a decade, he spent ten years in Italy working for films and television coming back in England in the early 90s. Thereafter he started a brand new project called Funki Porcini. Fast Asleep (2002) probably shows Bradell’s poetic at his finest, mixing breakbeat and downtempo drum sections with jazz and Drone music. Listen to Sleepy to experience a nocturne feeling: literally, a great track to fall asleep with.

Povarovo

PovarovoThis Russian Ensemble, named after a really small town in the Moscow Oblast, learned the lesson of bands such as Bohren & der Club of Gore and The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble to create a brand new way of playing this kind of music. Focused on neoclassical harmonies and soundscapes, Povarovo released Tchernovik in 2007 (reissued in 2012 via denovali records). That record revealed a great potential, showing a fine mix of dreamlike sounds and classical arrangements: the entire track list leads the listener into a gloomy and soporific land, without any chance to find a ray of light. This project combined a huge love for ambient music with jazz and classical tones. The perfect band to play ambient music in a bar, late at night.

The Dale Cooper Quartet

DaleCooperQuartet_TheDictaphonesThis project from Brittany (Brest is a city overlooking the Atlantic Ocean) probably represents the most traditional jazz band on this list. The Saxophones, lonely and so slow with their lines, create a typical jazzy atmosphere (especially if jazzy implies the word bluesy). Most likely looking at some Badalamenti’s compositions, The Dale Cooper Quartet makes a huge use of drones and electronic samples, with a clear focus on bass tones and foggy soundscapes. Parole de Navarre is a good sample of what they’re able to do on a record, providing the right dose of melancholia and blue feelings.

Kammerflimmer Kollektief

kammerflimmer-kollektief-cicadidae-jpgFounded by Thomas Weber in 1997, this German collective combines the free-jazz way of experimenting with a peculiar use of glitch samples and ambient sustained sounds. This original mixture is blended with an extraordinary ability in condensing everything in an affordable summa: listening to their records is quite pleasant, although we’re still talking about some kind of noise music. Kammerflimmer Kollektief might have showed their best with Cicadae (2003): a great example of how electronic glitch could walk hand-in-hand with ambient jazz music.

The Necks

The-Necks-620x618This Australian trio is more inclined on the ambient fields of this music genre, working on a time-stretched version of the typical minimal jazz sounds. Starting their career in Sydney during the late 80s, The Necks count on a vast discography, with several worthy albums in it. Last release, Open (2013), contains a 68min self-named track that stunningly flows through ethereal soundwaves and percussions. The use they make of cymbals and bells gives this records a dreamy and airy taste that strongly contributes to create a continuous stream of well-played ambient music. Music to chill with, enjoying the relentless flow of time.

Best 100 albums of 2013

Savages-Silence-Yourself100. Savages – Silence Yourself

Genre: Dark-Wave
Released: May 6, 2013
Matador Records



Dean-Blunt-The-Redeemer99. Dean Blunt – The Redeemer

Genre: Art-Pop
Released: May 1, 2013
Hippos in Tanks



Blouse-Imperium-608x60898. Blouse – Imperium

Genre: Dream-Pop, Shoegaze
Released: September 17, 2013
Captured Tracks



baths-obsidian97. Baths – Obsidian

Genre: Electronic, Pop
Released: May 28, 2013
Anticon



MGMT-MGMT-2013-1200x120096. MGMT – Mgmt

Genre: psych-pop
Released: September 13, 2013
Columbia


m+a-these-days95. M+A – These Days

Genre: Electro-Pop
Released: September 30, 2013
Monotreme Records



Master-Musicians-Of-Bukkake-Far-West94. Master Musicians Of Bukkake – Far West

Genre: Experimental, Noise
Released: July 19, 2013
Important Records
g
g
g
g
g

mutual-benefit-loves-crushing-diamond93. Mutual Benefit – Love’s Crushing Diamond

Genre: Alt-Folk
Released: December 3, 2013
Other Music Recording Co



Freelove-fenner-do-not-affect-a-breezy-manner92. Freelove Fenner – Do Not Affect a Breezy Manner

Genre: Yacht-Pop
Released: November 19, 2013
Fixture Records


sumie-sumie-300x30091. Sumie – Sumie

Genre: Acoustic Pop
Released: December 2, 2013
Bella Union